Thursday, May 31, 2012

I love this neighbourhood

I pulled into my carport about 6:15 this evening. Bowen and Tristan, the boys who live next door, came running over to my car and stood outside my door, waiting for me to get out. Bowen was so excited I could barely make out what he was saying but I understood he wanted to come look at something. "Tristan taught me!" he kept saying.

So I follow Tristan and Bowen over to their mom's car. She's laughing and saying, "I was just standing here texting, and I looked up to see THIS..." I look over, and Bowen has just opened the trunk of his Mom's car, then he jumps inside the trunk. "Do it!" he shouts at Tristan, who shuts the trunk, closing Bowen inside.

POP! The trunk opens. Bowen jumps out grinning, and shows me a handle inside the trunk that you can use "to escape if a robber puts you in the trunk and drives away - so you can get out! AND IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!" The only thing more fun than witnessing this is imagining how Tristan taught Bowen this neat trick. They had to both be inside the trunk. I wonder who closed it that time?

Anyways, the boys want to check my trunk next, so we go back to my car, and I pop the trunk. Unfortunately it's full with my emergency gear, so nobody gets to jump inside it. We find the glow in the dark handle. Bowen instructs me about what to do if I get stuck in the trunk. He is totally serious about this, but also spinning with excitement at his discovery. I assure him that if I ever fall into my trunk, and the lid falls closed, I will pull the handle and escape from my trunk (I don't want to put a robber in my version of the story). Then the boys scamper back to their house. Tristan and Bowen's mom is smiling that mom smile that we all do. "Good job, Mom," I say. Tristan overhears me and corrects me, "I taught him," he says. "Good job, Tristan."

question - do you know about the glow in the dark handle for escaping from the trunk?

mompoet - don't fall in the trunk!


Because the yogurt container foil lid had a sharp edge I have cuts on two of my fingertips. Because I have cuts on my fingertips I put bandaids on them. Because I put bandaids on them, I have big, awkward fingertips. Because I have big, awkward fingertips, I am having trouble typing with accuracy. Because I am having trouble typing with accuracy, I am making a lot of mistakes. Because I am making a lot of mistakes, I am taking a long time to enter my blog. Because I am taking a long time to enter my blog it seems beside the point to say that the yogurt was really yummy, and I make excellent granola. Yes I do. But if my fingertips were cut earlier I would make granola with bandaids or blood in it, which is not excellent in the least.

question: what was that about?

mompoet - because I am so slow typing, I can't tell you

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Why was six afraid of seven? Because seven eight nine.

Today I attended day two of "Training in your Department - Make it Stick," an in-house training course put on by the City, my employer. There are 20 of us in the course, all learning how to do a better job of on-the-job training with our staff teams. I also want to learn tips and techniques that will be helpful for my Insights facilitation.

Our homework for today was a "triad teach-back." We had to prepare a 10 minute lesson for two other members of the class, teach our classmates something, then share feedback. Lia, who works at the ice arena, taught us how to properly size women's ice skates. I learned that most people wear skates that are too large, and that properly sized skates are safer and help you skate better. Lia brought some skates for us to try on. I fit the size 7s. Go figure! Cindy taught us how to make excellent paper airplanes, then we got to throw them around the room. That was fun! I taught Amazing Math Tricks - how to reckon 9 x 1 up to 9 x 10, using your two hands, and also how to multiply any two-digit number by 11 without using pencil or paper. We had a lot of fun teaching and learning together, and all of our lessons were well-prepared and presented.

Which brings me to eight, or ate. I will have to learn a math trick for 8, but I guess I'd better not try on any size eight skates, or any nines either, because the sevens eight nine.

question: what can you teach in 10 minutes?

mompoet - look out for seven, he's still hungry

Monday, May 28, 2012

my awesome mother's day card

it even has a haiku

question: did someone make something for you? or did you make something for someone?

mompoet - kuuuuu...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

garage sale

Our community garage sale took place this weekend. We didn't sell anything this year, but we had lots of fun prowling around looking at what our neighbours had to sell. I bought a couple of things. The pictures tell the story:

Karen tried to get me to buy these glasses. I said no thanks but I did accept the King Kong coffee mug. Karen gave it to me for free. I can't wait to show the seniors this one at coffee time!
I really liked this chair that our Adam and Stephanie had for sale, but no room in our home, alas. Andy bought 2 Samsonite suitcases from them for $5 each, but he wouldn't pose for a photo.
Lola, who is 5 years old, was selling lemonade. That's her little brother Coulson, helping. Andy and I each had a glass each, a wonderful refreshment for just 25 cents each.
And this is my big find of the day. Six beautiful wine glasses for $12. I looked them up online and found out I really did get a good deal. On the other hand, they are available through other suppliers.

Later in the day we had our traditional neighbours sitting outside to have a drink and enjoy the beginning of the summer. It was a lovely day!

question: do you sell or shop at garage sales?

mompoet - enjoying the annual exchange of stuff we don't need, for stuff you don't need

Saturday, May 26, 2012

szechuan search - New Spring Restaurant (or Spring New Restaurant)

We are on the hunt for a Chinese restaurant to replace our beloved Capitol Hill Szechuan, which was recently bought by a new owner and now has a new chef and is newly not our favourite restaurant.

Today Andy and I ate lunch at New Szechuan Restaurant or Spring New Szechuan Restaurant. It's very close to our home and had decent reviews on Urban Spoon and Dine Here. There was no lunch special at 2pm on a Saturday. We're not sure if they have one at other times. We ordered hot and sour soup and spicy szechuan chicken, plus a bowl of steamed rice.

The soup was quite good, with a nice balance of sourness and peppery-hotness. It was generously loaded with tofu, barbequed meat and small shrimp, as well as a variety of julienned veggies. At $6.95 our big bowl provided 6 small serving bowls of soup. I guess we were hungry because we consumed 3 helpings each. The chicken ($9.95) was fresh and piping hot with fresh, crispy stir fried onions and green bell peppers. Instead of the fresh hot green pepper slices we are accustomed to at Cap Hill, this szechuan chicken was heated up with chili oil in the sauce and abundant small red dried peppers. And it was hot! We like it, so that's in its favour. In both the soup and the chicken dish I detected a little bit of fermented black bean. This must be a signature of the chef, as I am not used to this ingredient in these dishes. It added some complexity and not overpowering.

The service was friendly, and the restaurant is plain-looking but clean and bright on the inside. There are 3 big round tables and several smaller rectangular ones, all with plastic disposable table coverings. The tea was jasmine, and large glasses of ice water were provided as soon as we asked. At 2pm on a sunny Saturday we were not alone. Four other parties ate lunch at the same time we did. There was a mix of Asian and European-ancestered customers, including a young family, a table full of 20-somethings, and old people like us. ahem.

We decided that this restaurant is worth another visit to try some more of the dishes on their menu. The three tables with Asian customers were served what looked like hot pot on an ornate burner-type stand. I'd like to give that a try. We are not jumping up and down like we would if we found the New Capitol Hill, but this place has potential. We'll also look around at other options.

question: where do you go when your favourite chef mysteriously disappears?

mompoet - craving favourites

Friday's post now, Saturday's later

I meant to post this last night, but ended up going over to Kirsi's house for a visit. So now it's Saturday morning. Oh well...

Overheard at our house (hint, the internet police is a main character)

Me:  Hey I.P.!

I.P.: (from behind closed bedroom door) What?

Me: Have you seen our dental floss? It's not in the drawer in the bathroom.

I.P.: Oh, I have, I'll give it to you.

Me: What were you doing with it?

I.P.: I used it to measure my bed.

Me: Oh.         Well, don't bother rolling it back in. Throw out the stuff you used to measure your bed and and will use new to floss.

I.P.:  Ok

question: What do you use to measure your bed?

mompoet - ?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

rhubarb time

It's not ready yet in our gardens, but there's lots of fresh rhubarb at the veggie store right now. I love to bake rhubarb pecan muffins and rhubarb crisp. My friend at work offered these Rhubarb Dream Bars at a meeting recently. She included some blueberries along with the rhubarb. They are really yummy.

question: do yhoubarb eat rhubarb?

mompoet - mmmmm!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

searching for szechuan

Our favourite Szechuan Chinese restaurant of years and years and years has changed its owners and chef and is no longer our favourite. Capitol Hill Restaurant in North Burnaby has been our family's gathering place for family lunches and suppers for as long as I can remember, about a dozen years I guess. Their fresh, consistent and brilliantly delicious food at reasonable prices made them a winner. I even took my work friends there. City employees know their food. They nicknamed Capitol Hill, "the Ly Thai of the North," which is fine praise indeed.

So now my family is searching for another good Szechuan restaurant. We crave the intensity and variety of a perfect hot and sour soup, the dark allure of spicy sauteed green beans with minced pork (or not, for our outings with vegetarian friends), spicy squid that makes you remember that fried food doesn't have to be gloopy, and hot pot with eggplant and tofu good enough to break the heart of anyone who comes home from 2 years in Africa, only to find the staff at the place they dreamed about has gone on holiday for 2 weeks. (That actually happened a few years ago, and we still talk about it.)

We have decided to go out and try a few places. We'll know it when we find it. Suggestions are welcome. Please make them good. Here are some things we are not looking for:
  • sweet and sour anything
  • lemon chicken
  • brown sauce that tastes exactly the same on everything
  • crispy wontons
  • limp vegetables
  • diced chicken (that's just my bias because it reminds me of food that comes out of a can)
I'll let you know about our discoveries, our hits and misses. It will be an adventure I'm sure. I'm already in my own version of Africa, dreaming of tofu eggplant hot pot, hoping it won't take 2 years.

question: where do you eat Chinese food?

mompoet - wok-deprived

May 22 the second - or, I owe you one

Dear Internet Police,

I was busy yesterday. So I didn't blog. Thanks for pointing that out.

Catching up today, I post this make-up blog on the topic of time-shifting. I hereby declare this blog-space to be May 22, not May 23, in the time of blog. While this is unprecedented in my blog practice, it is related to past practices in my real life.

When I was a teenager, my sister had a bunch of friends over for a sleepover in our basement. These girls were all good girls, serious students with busy lives. Several of them had piano lessons and other such stuff on Saturday mornings. My sister and her friend played a trick on them. She and her friend woke up early and set the clocks, and their friends' watches, ahead by an hour, then they woke their friends, all in a fake panic. "Look! OH NO! you missed your piano lesson." A hilarious freakout ensued. My sister has many friends still from this time, so I think they must have forgiven her.

More recently, about 10 years ago, we celebrated New Year's Eve at our house with family friends. One family has a girl who was 3 or 4 years old (Hi Emma!) I remember that we counted down and shouted Happy New Year at 10pm, so that family could go home at a decent hour. It was fun opening the door and shouting into the street, banging pots and pans, two hours early. Our neighbours must have thought we were nuts, or at least seriously confused. We celebrated our 10pm New Year with as much gusto and enjoyment as the real midnight one. Then two hours later, we did it again, with all who remained at ur house for the rest of the evening. That was one of our best New Years.

On New Year's Eve two years ago, we did the opposite. This time we were at a neighbour's house, again celebrating with families. Everyone's kids are young adults now, and one son had to work until just before midnight (Hi Alex C!) This time, our host used his PVR to record the New York Times New Year (which actually happens 3 hours before our New Year) until our last guest arrived. Half an hour later, when Alex C arrived, we played the recorded New Year, and celebrated together, so everyone could be there for the shouting and the kissing and the champagne popping.

The other night, at a family dinner, we were discussing how my niece's birthday this year will fall on the last day of the world as we know it, according to the Mayan calendar. Funny, my niece's name is Maya. Now did that make shivers go up and down your spine? We're not seriously worried that the end of the world will happen on Maya's birthday, but we did get to wondering: Will it happen at the same time all over the world? (the end of the world, I mean, not Maya's birthday) or will the world end one hour at a time as it arrives in each time zone?

So there now, Happy May 22nd! I mean it.

question: Have you ever time-shifted?

mompoet - besides recording or watching your favourite TV show on another time zone's network affiliate, I mean

Monday, May 21, 2012

seriously, it is NOT May 21

Fiona asked me yesterday why I have not been blogging. She checks my blog every day. I told her that I think I have been preoccupied with other people's stories, which are not mine to tell in this blog. With other people on my mind and in my heart, I have not taken the time for introspection and thus not produced anything to tell the blogosphere about what's going on with me. I also told Fiona that I will blog every day for one week, and thus get back in the habit. I told myself that I will stick to my guns and not tell other people's stories. So I guess that means I have to look at and think about myself. Hmmm...

I have 2 shows coming up weekend after next.

On Saturday, June 2, from 4-445pm, I will perform with the Thundering Word group at the In the House Festival.  I'll be on with Bill MacNamara, Rosemary Nowicki, Bryant Ross and Fernando Raguero. It will be a wonderful hour and 45 minutes of poetry and storytelling. The In the House Festival takes place in houses and yards in East Vancouver. You should check it out!

On Sunday, June 3, from 3-5pm, I will perform at Poetic Justice. That's at the Heritage Grill on Columbia Street in New Westminster. I'll be on with Eileen Kernighan and Vincent Gnitt. Poetic Justice happens every Sunday. It's a lovely reading series with a wonderful following of poets and enthusiasts.

So now I have to choose some pieces and prepare them. For me that means memorizing because I like to perform, rather than read, my work. So, if you see me walking sideways down the road, talking to myself, you'll know what I'm doing. Speaking of sideways walking, my foot is feeling a lot better, but that's a topic for another day.

Talk to you tomorrow!

question: Where's the most interesting place you have seen a performance?

mompoet - getting ready for In the House and Poetic Justice

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Who is that woman doing the grapevine down the sidewalk at 8:15 on a Wednesday morning? Oh, it's just me. Never mind.

I am in month 3 of recovery from my foot injury. I did not ever imagine how long this could take or how limiting it would be, but I'm on the mend with lots of care and work. I highly recommend NOT getting plantar fasciitis. It's good when you don't have a burning hot knife stabbing you in the heel all day and sometimes in the night.

I hurt my foot on January 16, my first day back to work after a 3 week Christmas break. It was icy out, and I was wearing grippy things on the bottom of my boots as I walked to my office. I'm guessing I altered the way I put my foot down because of the grippy things, which triggered the injury. I'm pretty sure it was waiting to happen already. It's in my left heel, and my left knee and hip have been hurting on and off for about 6 months. Everything is connected to everything, as I have been learning.

Soon after injuring my foot, I went to New York for a week. I gobbled ibuprofen, kept a frozen water bottle in the hotel fridge for icing whenever I was in the room, and toughed it through a week in a city where you just have to walk all day long. That's how it works in New York.

When I got home I began working on my heel. I got soft orthotics, started a three month stretching program, saw a massage therapist, stopped walking (that was the hardest part). Slowly, the pain has been subsiding. Slowly I have been able to do more on foot. I now have the stetchiest, most massaged feet and calves of anyone I know. I own a foam half-roller, a grid massager and a half-ball. Want to crack up your 21 year old? Ask him to "throw Mama her half-ball." I slept for many nights in a tensor sock. In fact, the sock went to New York with us and helped me make it through "walking with a red hot knife in your foot" week. (ps Andy says the tensor sock is NOT sexy.)

Which brings me to walking the grapevine down the sidewalk at 8:15 on a Wednesday morning. My wonderful massage therapist gives me homework. One of my assignments is to walk sideways whenever I can. Her precise words were, "You know the stuff that soccer players do on the sidelines? Do that!" So I've incorporated sideways walking into my routine. I'm now walking part way to work. I just get off the bus a little early and walk the rest of the way. And part of that way, I walk sideways.

If you drive past me and see me walking sideways, please be kind. Don't honk. If you want, you can roll down your car window and shout, "OPA!" Otherwise, I don't want to hear about it.

question: what did you ever do to help yourself mend?

mompoet - OPA!