Friday, December 31, 2004

So What do you do

With CDs in your car???

My car has a little cubby just the right size for cassette tapes, but not for CDs. The glove box has papers and maps, and I hate the way CDs spill out of an open glove box.

I have seen those "CD binders" that you can store the discs in, leaving the box inside your house, but I don't like those either. To me, it's like taking a beautiful box of chocolates and dumping it into a Ziplok bag. They're still the same chocolates, but no longer as nice. The box is intended to be part of the experience, isn't it? The art, photos, song list, lyrics sometimes.

So for now I have my little stash of CDs (in their boxes) in a tiny plastic crate in my car trunk. I bring a couple up into the passenger compartment when I leave the house, so I can listen while I drive. I wonder if this is the best solution, of if there's another way?

Question: How to store the whole package?

mompoet - gathering rosebuds

New Year's Eve

Trying not to think about only 5 days left before I return to work...

In the meantime, I am enjoying a lovely day. Somehow, during a relaxed vacation, time actually slows down. There's more time to do the fewer things that need doing, and I begin to notice things again. I know you are supposed to "live in the moment," but I think that's a pretty platitude that people say without really thinking about what it means in realistic terms. Me, I'm balancing on a tight rope a lot of the time, carrying six bags and a basket on my head. If I look at my feet, I will fall. I have to look to the end of the wire if I hope to make it. But now on vacation, I have put down the bags. Instead of a tightrope it's a forest floor spreading out under low branches. I'm picking my way through gently, with no sense of urgency, just enjoying what I see along the way.

As for today, I am combining our family New Year's Eve traditions with things I like to do. I got up early, read the paper and walked the dog, then went to a cycle class. After that I came home and picked up the kids. We met our friends Sam, Louise, Robin and Emma for some ice skating, then went for sushi lunch. My Mom and Dad joined us there. We've spent New Year's Eve day together with these same friends for many years doing a family something-or-other and eating a big lunch. Usually we go straight through to midnight at one of our homes, but we've changed plans this year...but that's looking ahead on the tight rope/or maybe the forest. What about right now?

Well, we came home, and my kids got busy with some homework and laundry (did I mention that I love being the parent of an 11 and 14 year-old?) Husband was still out having lunch with an old buddy and running a few errands. I got to sit down with coffee and the paper and listen again to Damien Rice's album. I'm starting to like it a lot, after 3.5 listen-throughs. It is dark and sad, with gorgeous sounds and strong lyrics. I was having a bit of trouble with it in the car because he sings extremely quietly in parts of his songs. Listening in the living room was good. There's a cello, and a woman who sings with him, Lisa Hannigan. Their voices work beautifully together. I have to admit that at first I was a bit hung up on my observation that Damien's voice is a lot like Helen Reddy's in a couple of places. Oh well. I got over that.

So now here I am publishing my blog. Later we'll go to Kirsi's house and join a couple of other families from the neighbourhood for a New Year's celebration. Kids and adults all together, possibly some board and card games. Definitely a glass of wine or two. Walk home 2 doors down when it's 2005. That's as far ahead as I'm looking right now. But I will not say "I am living in the moment." bleeeeggggg!

Question: Forest or tightrope?

mompoet - blending into the undergrowth

Thursday, December 30, 2004

What? Me Worry?

I stayed awake worrying last night for about 15 minutes, then I fell asleep. I can't remember what I was worrying about, which is a very nice kind of forgetting.

Do you peer down the road and watch for the bus? or just relax and wait for it to come?

Most nights, sleep steals me like a thief. No sooner do I close my eyes than whooooshhhk! I'm gone. Sometimes I dream worried dreams, but worrying rarely occupies my mind when I am tired. I am more of a waking worrier.

Do you wish you had a rewind button so you could do or say things over?

Mostly I worry about things that I can't change - things I've done or said, or not done or forgotten, then regretted how I handled it. I wish I could go back and do it better. Often I try to fix this kind of worry by talking to the person involved and offering an apology or explaining how I will handle it differently next time. Usually the person says, "Hey, don't worry about it!" And funny, after the talking I usually can stop worrying. If there's nobody to talk to directly, sometimes I talk to someone else who I trust and look up to. It's kind of like a confession, kind of like a check-in. I'm seeking reassurance, and usually, the person says, "Hey, it's okay. Don't worry about it." and usually, I stop worrying.

Do you worry more about disasters or bad things other people do? or about what you might do wrong?

I rarely worry in the future tense. Occasionally when I have to do something that's going to be difficult, I worry about whether I'll do a good job. Like if I have to speak to an unhappy customer at work. But I have a fun way of overcoming this one. I imagine an outrageously horrible outcome. For example, I phone the unhappy customer. She does not accept my explanation or attempt to offer a solution. She phones the mayor, who phones my boss and has me fired. Then the police come and arrest me for ruining the unhappy customer's life, then my family hates me. There are front page articles in all of the newspapers trumpeting my incompetence and the horrible damage resulting from my failure to solve the problem...HA! After imagining this unlikely over-the-top outcome, no matter how badly the real conversation goes, it's a piece of cake. I guess it's a creative way of asking, "What's the worst thing that could happen?"

Do you worry about the well-being of your friends and loved ones?

That's me definitely. Although I usually choose another word, like "caring" or "concern." Like if I find out someone is sad or sick or has an injury or is worrying about something, I'll phone that person the next day and say, "How are you? Is it better yet?" That's love-worrying. I don't think it changes the situation, but I think it feels better, both to me and the object of my worrying. Usually whatever it is is already resolving, and the person says, "It's okay, don't worry. But thanks for worrying about me!"

Are there other forms of worrying?

I wake up praying every morning. I do not know how I got into this habit, but I have been doing it since I was a teenager, before I started going to church or anything. It's habit-wired in by now, and totally unconsicous as I swim into consciousness. I pray thanks for the good things then I list all of the people who I am worrying about and ask God to help them. Sometimes I tell people when they are appearing on my list, if I think they would like to know. Other times I just do it without telling the person. If I every say to you, "You are on my list." That's what I mean.

Question: All asked already

mompoet - sorting

mompoet sound journal update

My friend Vicky read my post and replied, but hit a glitch with, so I'm posting her comments, which she emailed to me.

Hi Sue:
I discovered some good music by listening to movie soundtracks. In particular, listening to the Stealing Beauty soundtrack spawned my love for classic female blues/jazz greats like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. The "O Brother Where Art Thou"(I highly recommend this movie if you havent already seen it) got me interested in American Roots-gospel-type sounds. This led me to purchase a CD which I love by Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Also, I just watched the movie "Garden State" which promises some lovely music by a band called the Shins. Another CD which is not from a soundtrack, but I received as a gift is BY The Way by the Red Hot Chili Peppers; an excellent funk CD. Oh, off topic, but you should see the movie Sideways it a great movie for those who appreciate wines. And, who knows, you might discover some good music there too. :-) Happy New Year. vic.

Thank you Vic! Music and movie reviews (I saw the trailer for Sideways - looks good. The critics love it too, I hear.) to encourage my exploration. I can't wait to borrow whichever one you choose to loan. Thanks again!

My neighbours Megan and Cathy have loaned me my next 2 CDs: O by Damian Rice (from Cathy) and Chinatown by the Be Good Tanyas (from Megan). I've already started listening. Because I received these together from a mother and daughter, and because they both have an underlying theme of sadness and loss, but in very different styles, I think I will listen to them together and journal my response all in one entry.

That's all for now about sound anyway...

Question: How many sounds abound?

mompoet - learning to listen

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Soup of the Evening

Two soups were created in two days in one house (ours). Husband made split pea soup, using the ham bone from Christmas supper. I made the turkey soup. I don't get when people moan and groan about turkey leftovers. After sending home generous "care packages" with dinner guests, the household carnivores quickly devour the turkey without me having to dream up creative casserole treatments or even make turkey sandwiches. If a nearby museum ever runs out of those bugs that strip animal skeletons for displays, I could send my husband and kids over and they would do the job just fine.

Anyway, I managed to snag the hastily-depleted carcass on Tuesday afternoon (just 2 days after Christmas) and make soup before it was just a rattling plateful of bones. Here's my recipe:

Turkey Soup

soup stock (oh, maybe 12-16 cups) see recipe below
1 cup pearl or pot barley (what's the diff? I dunno!)
4 medium onions
8-10 carrots
5-6 stalks of celery
3-6 cloves garlic
olive oil
6 medium potatoes
2-3 cups frozen green beans
2 cups frozen corn
2-4 cups leftover turkey meat, cut up into small pieces
leftover turkey gravy (optional)
salt and pepper

Set the stock to boiling in a large pot with a lid (I use my canning pot, but if you have one of those fancy stock pots that would be so much more appropriate). Dump in the barley, turn the broth down to simmer and stir once in a while as you do your chopping. Wash and chop the onions, carrots (peel these too if you prefer), celery, garlic, and potatoes. You can make small or large chunks according to how you like it and how your Mom used to make it. Saute the onions and the celery in some olive oil. When they are shiny and translucent but not brown, stir in the garlic and saute it until the kitchen smells like garlic. Then dump the saute mix into the simmering broth. Dump in the carrots and the potatoes at this point also. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Test to make sure that the barley is tender and the potatoes are done. Add the frozen corn and green beans and the gravy if you have it. Add the turkey at this point too. Simmer about 15 minutes more. Season with s&p as your taste dicates.

You can add other vegetables if you have them. Warning - cruciferous veggies do not like to be simmered a long time, so broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are delicious, but add them when you add the frozen vegetables.

This recipe makes a lot of soup. Enough to freeze for a couple of meals later in January when you are tired and need a spoonful of love on a dreary winter night. Either that or you can give some to a friend.

Soup Stock

Remove the remaining meat from the turkey carcass and save it in the fridge. (Discard fat, gristle, skin and other parts you would not eat - they do not improve the stock.) Put the bones into a really big pot and cover them with water. Toss in an onion or two (you can leave the papery skin on, to help colour the stock), a stalk of celery washed, but with leaves and all, a couple of carrots, a couple of garlic cloves, some peppercorns, a bay leaf or two...Bring the thing to a boil, cover and simmer for a few hours. Now here's the tricky part if you are doing it for the first time. Drain the stock, but remember to drain it into another pot or into a bowl....NOT DOWN THE SINK! If you've made it right, the stock will be low in fat and ready to use immediately. Or, if you prefer, you can refrigerate it overnight, and make the soup the next day. The bones and stock vegetables can be composted or otherwise discarded - all of their goodness has gone into the broth. If you made too much stock, you can freeze it and make soup with it another time. Don't leave stock out to cool overnight. It needs to go into the fridge as soon as it's lukewarm, to prevent bacteria growth.

I hope you have enough turkey left to make soup, and that you are not suffering over-turkification. If you are, give me a call and I can send the protein demolition team over. Me, I'm eating a green salad with some nice sundried tomato dressing and toasted sunflower seed, and yeah, a bowl of that soup too.

Question: Too much or too little left over at your house today?

mompoet - just soup-er

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

What's your Problem?

More helpful advice from

(check the user tips at the bottom of each page - they are very informative and you can rate them)

How to wash your dreadlocks

How to dance the hora

How to get Superglue off your skin

How to choose the right screw

How to buy a leash for your iguana

Question: Anything else troubling you?

mompoet - wandering answerless and oblivious

Monday, December 27, 2004

Lovely Day

I think I'm getting the hang of being on vacation after the initial days of bumping around trying to actually do things. Here's my first actually tra-la-la day...

Hauled out of bed at 8 and grabbed a bagel and coffee and read the paper. Fed the animals but delegated the dog walk to husband, who is finally having a day off too. (Note: must not assign to my husband all of the things I have let go of doing now that I am relaxing)

Caught a bike workout at the gym at 9:20. I know, some of my friends are saying "This is not a day off." But it's okay. I promise to wear my pajamas until lunchtime on Tuesday. I just needed to exercise after a couple of days of sitting at the end of the Christmas food conveyor belt. glump glump glump. Sweating felt very very good.

Showered, changed and came home. Grabbed husband who had fed the kids lunch and went to see The Aviator. It's excellent. I was intrigued by the exploration of a mythical/real character who was a brilliant visionary, amazing risk-taker and a tragically paranoid and obsessive man. The story wove in his role in the development of aviation in the US effectively, along with the chronicle of his bumpy movie-making career and sweet/disastrous romantic life. I don't know for sure how accurate it is, but it is one good story. It could have been about 15 minutes shorter. I got up to run to the washroom before it was over, and I closed my eyes in one scene, both signs of tooooo loooongggggg. (2 hrs & 30 minutes plus 20 minutes of testosterone blasted trailers before the movie started).

My husband didn't like the movie as much as I did, but we weren't really watching the same movie. He looks at movies through a film technician's eyes. While my heroes are the writer and director and actors, his is the Director of Photography. The Aviator is the first feature that my husband has seen in the theatre done in a new technology that he calls 4K, (an advanced form of digital transfer for the production part of the movie I think). He was excited at the prospect of great picture quality, but was quickly disappointed because the picture looked 'soft.' Probably partly a problem with the projectionist but not all. He told me about things that should have looked better, but I didn't even notice. He's tuned in to it, so it bugged him. Anyway, he admires the DP on this movie and is a big admirer of Martin Scorcese (although he hasn't worked on one of his movies yet). So that was good.

After the movie we came home to the annual neighbourhood carport hot mulled wine and get rid of your Christmas leftover appies and sweets party. We sat out in our carport with the neighbours for a couple of hours. The mulled wine was yummy and the company warm and relaxed. The kids ran around outside and stuffed their faces, then retreated to watch Spiderman 2 on DVD in our basement.

Finally we came in and couch-potatoed and watched Something's Gotta Give with Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves on DVD (one of the 7). Now I'm deliciously tired and chilly and ready to sleeep.

Tomorrow I will not go to the gym (see, I'm getting even better at it). I will get up whenever I feel like it, and make a big breakfast for the family, then read until I don't feel like reading any more. Yes! I can do this!

Question: How do you unwind a self-winding mom?

mompoet - temporarily less bouncy, but in an entirely agreeable way

Sunday, December 26, 2004

mompoet sound journal - entry #1

Eva Cassidy
Live at Blues Alley (1996 Blix Street Records)
Recommended by: Kirsi

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5 so far, but I might change the system as I go)

I'm delighted to begin on my new year's project in the old year. My neighbour and dear friend Kirsi (who is much taller than I am) recommended Eva Cassidy because of her voice. Kirsi first discovered this artist while visiting with another friend and neighbour, Myrna. "I heard that voice and I had to know who it was." Now Kirsi is a fan. Kirsi's other musical preferences are mostly re-discoveries from her youth: David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull. She also loves Barbra Streisand. She told me that Eva Cassidy died a few years back, of cancer, early in what was certain to have been a promising singing career.

The Live at Blues Alley CD was outside in Kirsi's car, and we were curled up on Kirsi's couch having a glass of wine, so she loaned me Method Actor, by the Method Actor Band (1988 BLP Records). I was terribly excited to be starting on my listening journey, but a bit disappointed as I listened to the album. Eva's voice is stunning (sometimes like Anni-Frid and Agnetha of ABBA, sometimes like Anne and Nancy Wilson of Heart). When she sings sweet it's as clear and true as a mountain stream running over smooth pebbles. When she wails, it's smokey and gutsy. The problem was the songs, a mish-mash of sorta-rock things with pedestrian lyrics and no discernable theme or style linking them together. Also, almost every song sounded awkwardly-produced. I don't know anything about sound recording, but I got tired of "the big echo-y voice" after about the third song. Only the first song "Getting Out," a blues song about a woman leaving her man and blowing up his house stood out. But Kirsi loved her, so I figured maybe this was just the first album of a band that didn't make it, and later Eva found her voice.

I phoned Kirsi and asked her if I could listen to another Eva Cassidy album because I wasn't crazy about the one she loaned me. She allowed that Method Actor wasn't her favourite and loaned me Live at Blues Alley.

I have this plan to listen to an album at least a few times over before making a decision, but I don't have to with this one. I know I love it. It's a collection of Blues and Jazz standards recorded at a club called Blues Alley in Washington DC. It's great. The songs fit her voice perfectly. While I'm no blues or jazz expert I know that she is singing them her own way, and it's great. I love every song. Here they are in the order of the album ( I haven't listened enough to choose a favourite): Cheek to Cheek/Stormy Monday/Bridge Over Troubled Water/Fine and Mellow/People Get Ready/Blue Skies/Tall Trees in Georgia/Fields of Gold/Autumn Leaves/Honeysuckle Rose/Take me to the River/What a Wonderful World/Oh, Had I a Golden Thread. I will definitely listen to this some more. I also want to find out if what an original Eva Cassidy song (or one written specifically for her voice) sounds like.

Eva recorded and released 3 albums before she died in November 1996. Six more albums have been released since. From reading her unofficial website I can see that she has a big following in Sweden and Great Britain. Interest in her is growing in the US. Several world-class figure skaters have skated to her songs. She was also a sculptor, mural painter and landscaper.

Yayyyy! Thank you for this recommendation Kirsi. Thank you for being brave and jumping first into the pool and for your enthusiasm and acceptance of my galloping experience-junkie ambitions.

I wonder what's next?

Question: Speaking of Blue Skies, have you heard the version sung by Ralph Shaw, King of the Ukulele? sweet sweet ahhhhh!

mompoet - galloping into new adventures

Seven Movies for Seven Days

My most favourite couch pursuit is reading, but watching a good movie is probably number 2. To help myself remember to slow down through the holidays, after I went to the library and stocked up on good stuff, I rented 7 movies for 7 days for $9.99 at Rogers. We have them until Wednesday, and we've watched a couple. They're all "7 day movies" that have been around for awhile, but often that's where you find the treasures.

Last night my husband, daughter and I watched "Welcome to the Dollhouse." I thought I'd seen it already, but I realised I had it mixed up with Ghost World. (Gee, now I'll have to rent that and watch it again.) Dollhouse just blew me away. If you haven't seen it, put it on your list. I remember now that I tried to see it in the theatre with a couple of friends a few years ago, but we got lost zig-zagging up and down on Granville Street and we ended up walking over to Robson where we drank coffee and I watched them smoke cigars which was supposedly cool for women at the time but I thought it was just a female form of d.o.l. (Tell you what that means another time.) And we never saw it.

Today I am going to do my other couch activity for as much of the day as I can. After I read for a couple of hours, maybe we will watch Arsenic and Old Lace which is a million times better at Christmas time than It's a Wonderful Life, no matter what everyone says.

Question: What do you like to do on the couch?

mompoet - reminding you that some couch-worthy activities are even better on the floor, under the Christmas tree, if you can ever get the kids to go to bed
(oops, too much information)

Saturday, December 25, 2004

365 Days 'til

It's done. As Christmases go, this was a good one. We had supper at our house with ten at the table (or actually squished into the living room, because our table fits 6 comfortably, 8 snugly). The feast was perfect, and a communal effort. I did not feel sweaty or frazzled because everyone cooked their specialty and we put it all together. We used the good china, and my Great Aunt Grace's silverware that my Ohio uncles sent me after she died.

We never have big presents, but our stockings were full of little things, wrapped with too much tape, and labelled creatively by our daughter (who calls herself Elvis and Bob when giving gifts). I now own enough chocolate that I am considering hiring an Oompa Loompa to manage it.

Christmas Eve at church was very good. This is our first Christmas with Rev. Mary as minister. She kept a lot of our traditional family service, but put her own signature on things for sure. I realised that there's a big difference in terms of apparent preparedness between Mary and David, our old minister. For example, at the family Christmas Eve service, David would look around the church and ask the parents of the youngest baby present to "hand him/her over" to lie in the manger. Every year he found a trusting soul with a small baby. I think we all sat holding our collective breath that the little one wouldn't start wailing or worse, topple out of the rickety manger that David set up every year. A lot of his services has parts like that - I'd sit there, totally adrenalized wondering if he'd secretly set it all up to work, or if he was really flying without a net. I'll never know, I guess. With Mary, it's clear that she has everything mapped out ahead of time. Baby Jesus was little Steven, who was baptized in November. His Mom and Dad were clearly prepared. They dressed as Mary and Joseph and held Steven before the manger, which was suitably sturdy and deep, and probably would have held him had they chosen to put him in it. It felt safe, and it was. I was glad that Jesus didn't take a nose dive, and that I didn't have to worry that he would. Still, I missed the edge of doubt and the incredulous twist of excitement that I sometimes felt when David led our worship.

Tomorrow I will not go shopping. Never do. Husband and daughter are chomping at the bit to buy an MP3 player, probably online. I hope they get it. I hope it's what they want. I'll be putting the china and the silverware away and counting my blessings and feeling a little sad for Christmases past.

Question: What makes one example become the template?

mompoet - looking forward

Thursday, December 23, 2004


toblerone is sweet
chocolate chocolate mmmmm
velvet brown regret

question: had some?

mompoet - not yet

Stocking Stuffers

got me out to the mall one more time. I bought mine last week, thanks to a great sale on mega-Toblerones at Shoppers (mom, dad, pretend you didn't read that). But the kids still had to do their shopping. So back to the mall we went. Twice.

Twice, because it doesn't work to go all together. Fourteen year-old son and eleven-year old daughter are okay together in the same house or at the same social or arts activity, but when there's a task to do (buy 5 stocking stuffers with a budget of $20 max) it just doesn't work. If you would like a live demonstration of the word "fugue," just stand in a store with those two together. How can two kids have 4 or 5 voices? I don't know. They just do.

So our daughter and I went after lunch, while son and my godson took transit to go see a movie together (Lemony Snicket - 2 thumbs up). We went to London Drugs. She bought an obscene amount of candy at pre-Christmas discount prices and beat her budget by $2.70. I have to pretend I do now know that I am receiving 5 packages of Mackintosh's Creamy Toffee (don't be jealous mom). What am I going to do with 5 packages of Mackintosh's Creamy Toffee???? Anyway, the trip was quick and discreet. Daughter is embarassed about being noticed while shopping. After the stocking stuffers, we bought her Christmas pajamas (now she has red flannel with snowmen just like I do). We have to whisper in dressing rooms ever since she witnessed a girl her age being traumatized by a whole-family effort to find a bathing suit at Sears a year or so ago. "Gerri-Anne!!! We found another size 14. Try this honey. Navy looks good on you."

After supper I dropped godson off at his home and I took our boy out to shop. What a difference. This son of ours has no inhibitions. He's loud and funny and seemingly transparent. After hearing that his sister bought all candy he decided to look for non-candy alternatives. We started at London Drugs again, and marched up and down the aisles, shouting out possibilities. "Does Dad want some motor oil for the Lumina Mom?" "Does Grandpa have an iron?" "Maybe I can buy everyone condoms???" We were drawing stares but he doesn't care, and I'm used to it. We ended up buying candy after all (well, something else for Grandpa, but I'm not saying), except for Mom and sister. Toenail polish? Lipstick? Hmmmmm......I suggested magazines for us, but all that he would consider was a car magazine with a beautiful, scantily dressed woman posing in front of some vehicle or other. "We could cross out the picture of the girl, Mom. Then would you like it?" In the cashier line he looked around desperately and announced, "How do you feel about Tic Tacs, Mom?" By this time I was laughing hysterically and everyone around us was probably wondering if we were doing some kind of guerilla theatre performance. Nope.

After that I took him to the Body Shop. I showed him lip gloss, fruit flavoured in little pots, and suggested that we both like that, and that his sister's favourite flavour is orange, and that I'm partial to mango anything. He made a speedy selection. At the cashier he was $1.14 short. Okay, I said, but remember this when I'm old and I need someplace to live. "You're going to the old folks home, Mom. A really crummy one, too, with bad food." He said that, honest!

I love him so much that I took him for ice cream before we went home. He got brain freeze from a Turtle Blast at Baskin and Robinns and talked my ear off. What have we created?? Oh, yeah, somebody just like us. That's good.

Merry Christmas

Question: How do YOU feel about Tic Tacs?

mompoet - $1.56 to the good, and face sore from laughing

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What to Do for 2005

I don't make New Year's Resolutions (too "gotta hurt to work" for my liking). But every year for the past few I have embarked on a project around year's end, and tried to sustain it for the entire new year. In Fall 2001 I joined the United Church and was baptized and even became a Sunday School teacher. In Fall 2002 I got political, lobbying to get adequate school funding. In Fall 2003 I started weightlifting. So far they've all been good projects and have changed my life in significant and positive ways. I think they have each made me a better person and more fullfilled in my day-to-day life.

So I have picked this year's project, which is on the fun-dulgent side, but also good for me. I am going to try listening to a bunch of different music throughout the year and figure out what I like. I have grown up with the radio (am rock stations) in my teens, classical all my life (that's my parents' passion), new wave in my awful youth/young adulthood (yup, I hung out at the Luvafair and got one of those assymetrical haircuts and taught aerobics classes up at SFU to DEVO, Haircut 100 and The Romantics) , endured country/western when my husband and son decided that's what they liked after new wave was over, and listened to all kinds of emancipated woman singers who my friends like, and I kinda like (I still don't quite get Jann Arden). Still, mostly I listen by default. So now it's time to figure out what's my taste (or if I have any taste at all). Here's the plan:

1 CD each week - has to be a CD so I can listen to it in my car on my new CD player

I will ask friends and strangers and people who I have just met to suggest things, and I will also do the odd random pick from the record store (are they still called that?) and the library, where they loan CDs for free.

I will listen carefully, a few times, and decide what I like about it, and what I don't like, then publish my response in my mompoet blog. By the end of 2005, I will have gained an earful of experience at least, and I'll probably have a better idea of what's my choice. Please me know if you have a suggestion, better yet if it's something I can borrow for a week. This will be fun.

Question: What do you suggest?

mompoet - all ears

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Basement

You can dance down there now, and even play Twister in the laundry room - for the time being. Don't go in the art/wine/camping stuff room though (yikes).


mompoet - momentarily tidied

Happy Longest Night

Solstice is my absolute favourite natural wonder. This day was just a little over 8 hours long from sunrise to sunset. This night is as long as they get. Now it's winter for 3 months, and it gets lighter and lighter every day for the next 6.

I love the winter solstice best, the summer solstice next. The fall equinox is cool because it means we're headed toward solstice. Spring equinox gives me the serious gunky blues - kind of a reverse SAD maybe? I don't know. Everyone else is leaping about under the hard briny-blue and I just mope for a few days and feel lost. There's just too much even-ness, and it's getting bright too fast. When it's dark, dark, dark I burn brighter.

Don't know why, that's the way it is. Always has been since I was little.

Enjoy the light you make on this dark night. Notice the day while it lasts.

Question: Wonder what an arctic all-day night would be like?

mompoet - dark and rich

Things I Like....

And don't like at Christmas

I like mandarin oranges, pomegranates, red wine, beer, lox and bagels (my parents' warped but wonderful idea of aetheist Christmas breakfast), mother-in-law's mince tarts, warm brie, nuts, really good chocolate in modest amounts, pickles, olives.
I don't like nog of any variety, rum in anything (a glass or balls), gravy, mashed potatoes, white meat, overcooked vegetables all mixed together,ambrosia salad, canned whipped cream, plum pudding.

I like red clothing, wool sweaters, mittens, slinky scarves, nice shoes, gaudy earrings, red toenail polish, pajamas the same colour as the toenail polish, good boots.
I don't like Christmas sweaters, tight pants, knee high nylons, high heels, novelty t-shirts, sunglasses used as hair-bands, anything fluffy.

I like candles, a real tree, cloth napkins and tablecloth in Christmas colours, photographs of Christmas past, hand-made ornaments, a big basket of Christmas cards, lights inside and outside of the house.
I don't like garland and mylar icicles, inflatable grinches and snowmen, crystal anything, calendars full of cheap chocolate called "advent calendars" but they're not, Christmas cards hung on a string across the wall, fake snow.

I like people wishing "best of the season," going to church for advent and Christmas eve services, giving to charity rather than buying each other a bunch more stuff, non-competitive cooking and decorating, stopping and resting with friends and neighbours, time away from work to spend with the family, when relatives visit from far away.
I don't like when people say, "Are you ready for Christmas?" and "Was Santa good to you?" going to stores on Christmas Eve or boxing day, reading ads for more stuff we don't need, people pretending to be happy but really being stressed/sad or confused, not being able to make everyone as happy as I feel at Christmas time.

I like going for a walk with my husband, watching him work his magic with the outside lights, staying up and enjoying a movie while the kids are sleeping, wrapping gifts together, snuggling in the dark and looking at the Christmas tree.
I don't like when he has to work long hours, when he wants to buy more stuff that I don't think we need (If it was just me we'd have no tv, all used appliances and the kids would go next door to play Nintendo. If it was just him we'd have a tv the size of Idaho and remote-controlled everything else), when the holiday goes too quickly for us to slow down together.

I like seeing our kids get excited about Christmas, watching as they grow into a mature understanding of what it means and how they can be a part of the good things about this season: peace, generosity, hope, light.
I don't like when the kids get bored and bicker with each other, when they focus on what they want to get, when they are stressed and don't handle a social situation or disappointment with grace, that I feel frustrated when this happens.

I like when it snows.
I like it generally however it turns out.
I like Christmas and most things about it. The others I'll live with.

Question: What is it about this time of year?

mompoet - procrastinating about mucking out the basement

Monday, December 20, 2004

Show's Done

I finally sat in the audience, at last night's closing performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It was very good. A cornier show you will never see, but it was done with tongue in cheek and hearts on fire. I felt so proud of our daughter and everyone who worked to make this show happen, it was just good.

After the show there was a party at a restaurant. Everyone came. I sat a the "Moms" table while our daughter sat with the rest of the choir kids. I'm glad the children were included in the celebration. They really needed a chance to unwind together after all that work, and a place to diffuse their energy and soften the inevitable deflation of it all being over.

On the way home in the car, my daughter and her friend both felt sad. I told them not to cry but her friend said, "Too late. The tears are already out." So I turned on the stereo and blasted Peggy Lee singing Jingle Bells with a choir of kids in the background singing "I like the sleigh ride!" over, and over, and over, all the way home. We all sang at the top of our voices and laughed and stayed hyper enough to chase the sadness away, at least for the ride home.

I'm grateful for this opportunity for our daughter to learn and grow - not just the show, but the emotional experience too. It's intense, but she's intense, so she can handle it. I'm lucky to be still so close to her to share this, and remember how it was when I had the same experiences. Just for the record, I did cry too, in the last few minutes of the show when I knew it was over. But there will be other show, and other fun, sad, loud, silly rides home. I'll sit at the Mom table any time.

Question: How did I get so lucky?

mompoet - heart on fire

Sunday, December 19, 2004

It's a BOOK!

Shoreline Writers' Publication Committee has just published its fifth chapbook, titled Road to Hell. It's a beauty. If I like you a lot, you will get a copy soon as a gift. There's also a launch on Jan. 16 around 2pm at the Port Moody Arts Centre. Also, I have some that I can sell for $5 each. Short stories and poetry by six contributors all crafted into a delectable collection, with stunning cover art, and beautifully put together by Fred Braches, our publishing genius. It's good!

Question: How many ways can you give birth? (I haven't stopped counting.)

mompoet - beaming

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Sk8ing is Gr8

Wish I could do figure 8s as easy as typing them in on my computer keyboard. When I'm writing I imagine that's what it feels like to be a really good skater. Intention translates to action with no apparent connection between initial thought and completion. Unconsciously skilled? What skating and writing have in common is the need for practice. The only way to skate like a floating dream is to work at it for hours and years and learn increasingly difficult moves and sequences by falling down a lot. The most important thing is to skate. Writing's the same. You have to keep practising and trying more and more difficult things. As you get better, it seems like the story writes itself, but it's really climbing the ladder that's been set through hours and days and years of application. Talent counts too, of course. But the practice allows the potential to be realised.

In skating, I lack both talent and practice, but I still enjoy it. It's the closest thing to flying I know. One small push and the water molecules liquify under your blades and zoooom! I got out for the first time this season with Emma, my five-year-old friend. Emma's mom doesn't skate so she asked me to go to her school skating party with her. This little girl is just learning to skate. She spent almost as much time lying on the ice as gliding over it, but she kept on smiling and getting up and skating some more. She held my hand only a little, preferring to go on her own. It was like watching a baby learn to walk, her movements all uncoordinated and over-correcting. Every time she fell she did what her skating teacher showed her: tummy, knees, foot, up! I helped her but she felt light as a feather, pushing up with her own strength. Her cheeks were pink and she was grinning at me with her two front teeth missing. What a cutey! We're planning to go again on New Year's Eve, with my kids and my friend Louise and my godson Sam too. It's good to do things that you're not that great at but give you a sense of what being good must feel like. Inspired by Emma's cheery optimism, I might even try some figure 8s.

As for the writing, I have a couple of short (I think) stories bumping at the top of my consciousness. I'm going to try to open my brain and let them out over the holidays. As a writer, I'm at the intermediate level, with lots to learn. The possible moves and sequences are infinitely complex and challenging, but I love practising. Also, I am talented. My ladder can be extended into the stratosphere if I work at it.

Question: Who wouldn't?

mompoet - cheerfully optimistic and willing to fall down

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Sound and the Word

I performed a couple of pieces at The Sound and the Word at Misanthropy Gallery last night. Andria Papineau and Damon run this new monthly series at a neat little gallery on Pender Street. The big event was The Leftover Fugitives - Barbara Adler, Brendan McLeod, Marc Berube and CR Avery. They are going to the UK at the end of January, so are raising funds right now for their tour. They did about 7 or 8 group pieces with music, singing, spoken word. It was simply gorgeous! The place was packed and people were so enthusiastic, cheering, stomping clapping, singing the chorus. What fun, and what talent. I've seen all of these artists before (except Marc, but now I've seen and met him). On their own they are each outstanding. Together is more than the sum of the parts. They are doing another fundraiser on Jan. 16 at the Railway Club. Don't miss it.

Other than that, yesterday rated at negative 1.5 stars out of 5. There were a couple of small obstacles at work that left me discombobulated, even though it didn't take much to recover. I'm still feeling like I have to go back and talk some more to people - wish I'd done a better job on the spot, but sometimes your brain stalls and it just takes a bit of time and another try. Then my husband, who was going to drive my daughter to her show, got called back to work for an emergency after he had left, so I had to race home early and slam together some supper before driving. When I got home I discovered that the kitchen drain must have been plugged bad in the morning because the dishwasher (which I left running when I left for work in the morning) had backed up into the sink and overflowed onto the kitchen floor. When the kids got home from school they threw beach towels on it. So there I was at 5:15 chucking together supper and slopping up the floor and bailing the gukky sink and getting ready to drive daughter to the show then go back to my office for a while, then go downtown to be a poet. Bleggggg. Oh yeah, then at the reading, I accidentally knocked over this guy's beer with my foot while I was squeezing into my seat and then I nearly fell into another guy's lap. I felt like the elephant of misfortune.

The saving grace is my wonderful husband. He finished up with the emergency at the lab and called me on his cell on the way home to offer to bring me supper, and remembered that I was going to read and wished me well and was just generally very sweet and appreciative. Then he drove home and unplugged the sink cleaned up the whole bloody mess that I had not had time to deal with. I thought, "If he's exhausted from worked and stressed to the hilt and can still be this kind and thoughtful, I can get over one yukky day." I do need my vacation, I can tell. And I sure hope he gets some vacation too. From the amount of work still rolling in he might be working all except for a couple of days around Christmas. He's working this weekend too. Hmmm, maybe I'll go to his work and kidnap him and go hide out in a cabin with him for a few days and they'll just have to figure out how to manage. Nice thought.

Question: Why is there often too much of some things and not enough of others?

mompoet - frazzed but counting down (7 work hours to Christmas vacation)

Jalapenos Part 2


First of all, I realised they aren't even jalapenos. Jalapenos are green and fatter. Yes, I am obsessive about details. If anyone can identify what kind of peppers they are, I think I can let it go.

Second, my dad, who knows almost everything, told me about the "Mood Watch" feature on Eudora:

The story is that it was put in to pacify some business people who wanted their employees using Eudora not to offend people they e-mailed. The bad words list is hard-wired deep inside the program. If it were an external plug in, people like me could (and would) go in and modify it. If I were a programmer I might even be able to dig into the program as it now stands and do that. ... And if you really dislike Mood Watch, you can turn it off. Windows-using business employees are presumed to be stupid enough that they won't open the Settings option and turn it off.

Thus enlightened, I found the settings list and twiddled with Mood Watch. I'll probably turn it off later, but for now I'm still playing. I discovered that 3 is the maximum number of peppers. Gosh, here I was hoping to find a way to get 5 or 6. Also, I have never seen just 1 because that feature was not activated in the default settings. So now I have turned it on so I can be warned if I have received or am about to send a just slightly possibly offensive message.

Already, my friend Kirsi has purposefully sent me a 3 chili message just to find out what her rating would be. Yayyy Kirsi!!! You scored maximum allowable chilis! Now go wash your mouth out with soap!

Question: What variety of peppers pop up for persistent potty-mouth?

mompoet - punchy, prudish, vicariously potty-mouthed

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Hot Damn, I got Jalapenoed



I use Eudora for my email. It's different from Outlook or OE in a lot of ways. One of my favourites is the Jalapeno. If my friend sends me a message with swearing or other objectionable stuff in either the subject line or the body of the message, the message will be flagged with 1, 2 or 3 jalapenos. Who knows, maybe there are 4 for some messages, but I haven't received one like that...yet.

What I didn't know until today is that Eudora also jalapenoes outgoing messages. I found out when I sent a reply to a friend who had accidentally invited us to bring "nipples" to share at a party, when she meant to say "nibbles." I replied that I thought her message was funny, that I enjoyed it, and that she should keep her nipples inside where they would be warm. When I pressed "SEND," a Eudora message popped up, asking me to reconsider my message because it might offend the recipient. Using "nipples" earned my message a 2 jalapeno rating.

Hmmm, I thought, how does this work? For what words is it sensitive? Of course I had to play with it. Here are my discoveries:

  • Anatomical terms (vagina, testicle, uterus, labia, vulva, scrotum, rectum) got my message 2 jalapenos.
  • Pedestrian hard curses (What the fuck? and damn shit boogie) get 3 jalapenos. Curious about boogie? I think swear words are boring. I had to do something to jazz it up.
  • Explicit words for a variety of sex acts (fellatio, rimming, fisting) got 3 jalapenos. Interestingly, Eudora's spellcheck knew I got it wrong when I spelled fellatio with one "l" but offered only bland and harmless alternatives. Had to go to to figure it out. Don't laugh! How often does one have occasion to actually spell it? Maybe in a thank-you note?
  • Cunnilingus is not as offensive as fellatio. No jalapenos for this act.
  • Also bestiality and necrophilia must be generally acceptable in polite conversation. Either that or the censor had a limited imagination when making the list. No jalapenos for these.
  • Common lesser curses (piss, bitch, cock, crap, tits, whore, asshole) all got 3 jalapenos too.
  • Many awful, terrible, upsetting things do not get jalapenos for their words (war, genocide, hate crimes, Nazi, fascist, capitalist, I'm all right Jack. Bully, extortion, homophobia, persecution, exclusion, brainwashing, Christian fundamentalist).
  • Bad things that ignorant and/or cruel people say (fag, nigger, lesbo, dyke, kike) also earned 3 jalapenos.
  • Chink, hate, lynch and "Gay marriage is a sin," did not get jalapenoed.
A jalapeno does not prohibit the sending or reading of messages. It's simply a flag to say, "Do you really want to send this?" or "Be careful, reading this might cause you to be offended."

Conclusion: Jalapeno system picks out many single words that might cause a reader to blush or become offended. It has a higher tolerance for scientific terms and a limited scope/vocabulary. It mostly recognizes common curse-words and vulgar sex and body references. I bet the Eudora inventors did not spend a lot of time or thought on the details of this part of the program. I sure would like to read their list and rationale.

I think it's okay, not terribly useful. More fun as a party game or idle distraction than an actual communication tool. (Ooooohhh "tool!" Wonder if that's a jalapeno word?)

Question: What rates just 1 jalapeno? What do you have to say to get 4?

mompoet - going to wash my mouth out now

Hi Coo

split pomegranate
red gems spill on snowy white
wet sweet explosions

Question - Does "jewels" have one or two syllables?

mompoet - scattering

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Don't Go into the Woods

Don't go into the woods at Solstice.
There's a bear with a Coke, who'll give you a poke
And make you think you don't have enough Christmas.
There's a witch and her clan out-Jonesing the Joneses
In her gingerbread sparkles and lipstick the colour of the apple that Snow White bit.
There's a mackerel-scented Christ candle floating in a bowl of abandoned cranberries.
There's a girl in a pageant
Dressed as Holy Mary Mother of God in her immaculate deception
Traipsing Holy Holy around in the snow
As white as her pure heart pretends to be.
But if she's a good liver, she'll mean what she says and do better.

Don't go into the woods at Solstice.
There's an idea of joy as easy to swallow
As a golf ball, washed down with curdled nog made from the egg of a dragon.
There's a giant with nose hair
Fashioned into a bouffant comb-over, only to hide
That he's been crying, because the children will play in his garden
But none will be his forever.
There are evil squirrels who do voices for anime features about
Superheroes named Alvin, Theodore and Simon.
And the elves spell evel with two "e"s.

Don't go into the woods at Solstice.
You'll see yourself
Reflected in the frost-crazed cover of a mineral lake.
And you'll go blind trying to carve your ideas about peace, hope, joy and love
Into an old-growth forest that's been devoured by beetles
Because the winters are never cold enough any longer.
And those who read them before they fall
Will dismiss them as derivative, and turn back
To classic carols, digitally re-mastered onto melba-toast rounds
With smoked oysters for entertainment.

Don't go into the woods at Solstice
Because you might not believe them.
You might just open your eyes and see the sky still clear over the trees
And realize
That twenty days or so of overdoing just about everything
Can't really hurt anyone who isn't hurting already.
But why do it anyway?

Don't go into the woods at Solstice.
Go into the world, go into your home, go into the street.
The woods will be there another night
When daylight is nearer.
And the bear and the witch and Snow White and Holy Mary Mother of God and the dragon and the giant and the squirrels and the anime chipmunks and the elves and the beetles and the oysters will still be there too.
Only it's possible you'll find
That they are just as afraid of you as you are of them.
Don't go into the woods.

Question: Why do it anyway?

mompoet - spinning toward solstice

Martha and Daughter (and husband and son)

We did it. The tree is all a-glitter. There's a fat home-made cedar wreath on the front door. The boxes are all shoved downstairs. Every Santa picture ever taken of our kids is displayed on one bookshelf. Daughter was into it like a dirty shirt, unpacking, arranging, adorning. Husband did the electrical parts then went to bed. Son handed me a bunch of ornaments, hugged me about 20 times, jumped up and down and said "Dontcha love Christmas!" then disappeared downstairs. We watched A Christmas Story on DVD.

Glass of wine, email, last dog-whizzz for the night and we're done. Okay Christmas. We're ready for you.

Question: What needs to be done and what can be left "un?"

mompoet - winding down from tizzy of domesticity

Monday, December 13, 2004

It's a Tree!

Swooop! We got a bunch of Christmas done on Sunday. Our daughter had an hour and a half between shows, and my husband was recovering from working about a million days in a row, so I told him to just rest. Daughter and I left the theatre after the matinee, dropped off her friend, and drove to Rona (where my husband said I could find a low-priced and good tree).

At first we were discouraged. There were beautiful $50 trees over to one side which we avoided, then in the middle there were all of these bound and gagged $22 trees, wound up with twine. When we finally got the guy to cut some of the twine, the branches were still reaching straight up, so how could you tell? What's worse, the guy told me, "Sorry, I won't help you tie the tree on your car. I can put it on your roof, but you have to tie it." We just about left in frustration, but then we saw it - about 6 and a half tall and fat and bushy as a groundhog. That was our tree! Luckily Mr. "Don't ask me for help" was busy with somebody buying a $50 tree and a nice young woman offered to help us. She cut off all of the straggly branches near the bottom of the trunk and gave it a fresh cut, then she carried it to our car and helped me tie it down. I don't have a roof rack so I cracked open the window and we threaded the twine in and out and around the trunk of the tree. My only mistake was firmly tying my driver's side door shut, so I had to climb in from the passenger side (d-oh!)

We thought pure thoughts as we drove down the highway, imagining the darn thing slithering off and getting pulverized under the car behind us. Luckily we made it. I even put it up in the living room as soon as we got home. Then we grabbed a bite to eat and I hauled the actor-girl back to the theatre.

Now we have a naked tree and a glorious-smelling house. We'll all be home for supper and after on Tuesday so we'll put on the lights and the ornaments. Then it will be Christmas for real.

(Later Sunday I wrapped and parcelled everything for the post office to go to Cranbrook and Rupert, then I made a bunch of birthday cards - some belated.)

Question: What did you tie to your car?

mompoet: super-speedy express tree chooser, deliverer and erector

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Larynx

Hello! This is the part that sings, yells, talks into the night. Stress point number 2 for mompoet. Now that the trapezius has settled (almost) to its supple and strong self, the larynx is swelling or shrinking or whatever it does. I picture it healthy as fresh and somehow sticky with sound-velcro. When it gets sick it is so slick that sounds simply can't find a purchase, so they slide off, all lost potential. First the voice gets husky, then disappears, then comes back for a few days very deep and mysterious like a world-weary chain-smoking mama.

It's so predictable I am not worried. I'll just surf on top of it. Don't usually get sick, just sound that way. And don't sound like anything for a day or two. And because it's my soul/psyche/synapses that are the source of the problem, I will focus on living easier and more gently, rather than pursuing a medicinal cure.

Question: Can you hear me?

mompoet - promising no more boring health reports. For my next stress reaction I will buy expensive shoes, shave my head or get a tattoo.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Trapezius

is a big, diamond-shaped muscle that hooks onto your spine at the top of your neck and to your shoulders. If we could fly, we'd use our trapezius muscle to lift our wings above the plane of our body (and the opposing pectorals on our chest to pull our wings back down below it).

The trapezius muscle is the one that allows us to turn our head around and look over our shoulder. It helps maintain the natural posture of our upper spine and hold the head up. We extend it when we reach forward to give a big person a large hug. We contract it when we pull our shoulders back and down.

When trapezius is not happy the neck gets stiff and there's pain in the shoulders and upper back. Sometimes there's a headache. It's the muscle that asks for a shoulder massage, one of the most non-threating intimate touches we can seek from a friend or acquaintance. It's the muscle under the part where we have to ask someone else to rub the sunscreen. It's a muscle that sometimes needs help.

Right now my trapezius is not happy. There are a few good shoulder-massagers of intimate acquaintance and trustworthiness here at home who can help with that (the same ones who help with the sunscreen in summer). There's also a heating pad and ibuprofen, but I also have a couple of remedies that are even nicer: wine and laughter. I once cured a board-stiff upper back by going to the Ridge Theatre for a Marx Brothers triple bill. I walked in like Frankenstein and oozed out all flexibility and molten warmth. The wine is a trick my mom taught me. Works for other muscle contraction type pain too.

The real fix is to fix what caused the tension, which is general holiday busy-ness and husband working mega-overtime. The latter just will be, and we're sure grateful for the work, given the current threats to our local film industry that are all over the media right now. The former will subside as my last week at the office winds down. I will have to talk myself into walking away from some projects that I had hoped to complete before the end of the year, but I'll be able to continue them when I return, and my boss is great about timelines (thank goodness). When our daughter's play has finished on the 19th that will be good too, although I wouldn't trade it for anything. She's enjoying it so much.

Tonight is my husband's work party - fancy supper out, dress up and all. I'll forgo the wine while I am there because I have agreed to be the D.D. (also I think boozing with the big bosses and the people you boss is really risky and unwise) But maybe I'll go look for a Marx Brothers video to enjoy when we get home tonight. The wine is ready, and I'm sure I can find another shoulder massage. That trapezius will be happy soon, I'm sure.

Question: Where's your tension spot?

mompoet - just slightly clenched but still able to back up the car

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Opening Night

First real performance of Joseph happened tonight (after 2 preview performances for school groups on Wednesday). Things went pretty well. The actors and choir did great and most of the technical glitches seemed to be ironed out (at least from my sideways wing-peeking perspective). The actor who played the narrator was sick, so her stand-in took her place and did a good job. The kids were very good. They know their cues and their jobs, and when to sing, clap, move to another spot. They each have at least one special task, for which they are responsible from beginning to end. If a child has to carry a prop on during the show, he or she has to pre-set it backstage. And they do it! They are also responsible for their costumes and accessories after the performance. They encourage each other, and the big ones help make sure the little ones are in the right place. It's great that they can do this. Their choir director and we helper parents can guide them before, after and between scenes, but once they are on the stage, it's up to them.

I'm proud of them all and lucky to be there.

Question: none tonight

mompoet - just tired

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Dress rehearsal

I have 3 pages of notes to type up nice, tired feet and heaps of admiration for the people who are putting on this show. What a genuinely good, talented and hard-working group. Lots of pitching in and sharing loads and no evidence of any bouffant egos. It's miles closer to ready than it was on Monday, and the rehearsal finished 20 minutes earlier than scheduled!

As "Choir Chaperone #2" I learned the show from the kids' point of view backstage: entrances, exits, props, ps and qs. Moving 20 youngsters in tight dark quarters past 30 adults hauling furniture and rushing onstage after costume changes is like some weird ballet. I can hear the show on the monitors, and I can overhear the stage crew's headset conversations as I lurk in the wings ready to catch, shhh and encourage kids. Tonight I helped with one nosebleed, prevented a couple of swordfights with battery-operated candles and learned how to rig Joseph's coat for the finale so that rainbow stripes of colour can be unfurled by the children. This is going to be fun.

The worst thing is I have blisters on my heels from new boots that I bought on the weekend and went out in to walk the dog on Monday morning. They're properly treated and bandaged and felt okay all day, but by 10:30 they feel like they must be bleeding or on fire or something. I will rest (with socks on) and see how they are in the morning. The worst is when the shower water hits them - YOWP! Oh well, if that's my only complaint, I guess I can go to the back of the line and shut up.

Question: Joseph, Joseph, is it really you?


ps - Great corny rhyme from the show:

I will now take them all for a ride
After all, they have tried fratricide.

Two days to show time

I forgot what it was like.

Our daughter had her tech rehearsal for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat last night. I came to the theatre after working late and caught the last hour. What memories it brought back, and how proud and amazed I am to see this company working.

To someone who's never seen or been involved in a tech rehearsal before, it would look like they are in huge trouble. Everything is disconnected and awkward, and about 7 different layers of reality are all visible. Between Monday night and Thursday night's opening, those layers will laminate together into something beautiful. Watching, I was flooded with memories of tech nights for all of the community and school shows that I've been part of. It's pretty emotional that night when things get hustled from "almost" to "gotta do it." Faith, focus and hard work are required. And teamwork and trust.

What I saw last night was:
  • The voice of God (the director) starting and stopping and re-winding the show and ordering re-positioning from the sound booth.
  • The voice of Gabriel (lighting tech) from the catwalk "Sorry, I can't get that spot focussed any farther upstage. We'll have to try something else."
  • Actors stepping in and out of character to ask good questions about who's carrying what prop and how to arrange themselves.
  • Everyone getting used to moving from rehearsal space to the stage. The set is spectacular. It's a 25 foot high pyramid that does amazing things. Everyone has been imagining being 2 or 8 steps up or down, now they have to go 3-D and incorporate the actual elevation into their blocking and choreography.
  • Controlled mayhem - moments of mirth enough to keep everyone from exploding, but not to interrupt the work that was going on.
  • Reams of notes being taken by the assistant director. Yup 20 quires or more for sure.
  • A weird mish-mash of costume components. Like everyone was partway through metamorphosis.
  • Dancing, singing, entrances and exits ready and good.
  • Props that have been imaginary or substituted suddenly real and needing to be remembered. (If you leave your mime goblet off stage you can pretend you had it all along. Now you need to actually have it. When you're done with it, you have to figure out where it goes.)
  • Technical people staying calm in the middle of an overwhelming volume of things to do and remember and fix.
  • Beautiful music.
  • The kids are doing great. They were tired but they did their job and stayed focussed.
I'll be working as a choir chaperone for the second week of the run. Tonight I have to be part of the dress rehearsal and learn the show, so next week I can be responsible for getting the children's choir (20 performers) on and off stage, and supervised when they are waiting. I'll work one show later this week with the choir director to be sure I know what I'm doing, then I'm in there.

It's going to be great!

Question: How often do you get to see something like this?

mompoet: blessed

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Quire - Part 2

  1. Abbr. qr. or q. A set of 24 or sometimes 25 sheets of paper of the same size and stock; one twentieth of a ream.
  2. A collection of leaves of parchment or paper, folded one within the other, in a manuscript or book.
Sing, twentieth of a ream, sing!

mompoet - playing with my words before I eat them. No question.

Another Favourite

Just back from church. Forgot to put this one on my list: Angels We have Heard on High.

Glo-ri-a, in ex-cel-sis De-o
Glo-ri-a, in ex-cel-sis De-o

Try it with a choir and a piano and organ. You will think you are the best singer in the world.

Question: why not?

mompoet - not the best, but singing anyway

Accelerating and Slowing Down

This has been a wind-up/slow down weekend so far. My husband worked overtime all day Saturday (starting at 5am) and he's back at it today. I've been running around fulfilling busy kid-schedules and doing a bit of cooking, cleaning, Christmas shopping and other necessary chores.

Friday evening I spend a couple of hours at Planet Lazer. Daughter was at a friend's birthday party there, and I agreed to help ferry a carload of 11 and 12 year-olds to the birthday girl's house after laser tag. When I got home at 8:30 my husband was already sleeping and son was lounging, so I went into the crawl space under the stairs and got out all of the Christmas lights and decorations. Party was over at 11 so I did a pick-up run then.

Saturday was 1 rehearsal, 1 tap-dance lesson, 1 concert in the evening. Son vegged out in the morning and took himself to the video store by transit to rent a game in the afternoon. In between on Saturday I got some Christmas shopping done, dropped and picked Solly up at the groomer, did about 14 loads of laundry and 3 loads of dishes and made supper. Husband (bless him) grocery shopped on the way home after 10 hours at work.

Somehow in between and around all of this, we've grabbed a little time to make restful moments. I walked the dog down to the groomer in the morning while the kids lounged. I love that walk "into town." It's about 30 minutes - a good distance to stretch and unwind a bit. After tap lessons and picking up the dog I dropped over to my neighbour's house for a glass of wine and a chat. In the evening, as tired as he was, husband came to daughter's Christmas recital. We held hands in the dark. Our daughter sang so well. This was her first time in a duet, singing the harmony. She remembered her notes and choreography and looked like she was having a great time. She sang "Perfect Christmas," now on my list of favourites just because.

During her rehearsal I ran over to the mall. I bought us a new board game to enjoy over the Christmas holidays. Games make us stop and play as a family. Usually we need all 4 of us to make it work, and we have a lot of fun. This one is called Mad Gab. It looks very silly.

Then at the show, the stage manager invited me to join the stage crew of Beauty and the Beast (daughter's spring show). To be asked is a total honour - only trusted and reliable people are asked to work backstage. I thanked her and told her I'd think on it. I think I'll have to pass for this year and see about the next year. I've already made a commitment to our son that we will work together as volunteers for our NDP candidate during the provincial election. The show is late April, so that wouldn't work out very well. I'd like to be able to do both, but I don't think I can without stretching too thin.

Today we'll go to church in the morning, something that takes time but is pretty much like exercise as far as time and energy goes. Invest 90 minutes in worship and gain courage and re-invigoration enough for the next few days. I never regret taking time to go.

Daughter has rehearsal again all afternoon (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat opens on Thursday). While she's there I need to help our son with a science project, but I think there will also be time to take the dog for a walk again. I hope my husband will be home by that time so we can go together. Supper is frozen pizzas so instant yummy. Oh yeah, I have to work on my wine, but I can do that while I help my son with science. Wine-making is a lot of "do this for 2 minutes then go away for 15, come back and repeat."

So I guess what I'm meaning to say with all of this is that a variable speed mom can find time to power through what needs to be done and also stop and smell the mandarin oranges. (I can still smell those just fine!)

Question: am I crazy?

mompoet - zero to sixty and back again, wait five minutes and repeat

Friday, December 03, 2004

View with Discretion

Church rocks! (part 2)

Fourteen year old soon went to the church last night for a new youth group that our minister is starting. They planned a Christmas party for later this month. They are going to watch Saved. If you don't get invited to a progressive church youth group party this December, it's definitely worth renting at the video store.

I like it, I like it!

Question: Ever make a choice that you discovered was even better than you thought?

mompoet - all-is-welling

Thursday, December 02, 2004

What the Holly Hill is a Quire?

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a QUIRE?

Come on! That has to be the lamest rhyme ever. I love Christmas carols (scroll down for a list of my favourites) but some of them were written by sub-poets at best.

Choir does not rhyme with fire any more than Jesus rhymes with cheeses or freezes. How about Christ and spiced? or Bethlehem and I've got phlegm? or mistletoe and This'll blow? or mincemeat and Grinch feet? I know these are not from real carols, but they are about as acceptable to me as fire and QUIRE.

My favourites:

Silent Night
Away in Manger - sung low to high, then high to low, or both at once (try to do that all by yourself)
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas (but only as a way to annoy people and find out how long they can smile through clenched teeth)
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Rockin' around the Christmas Tree
Frosty the Snowman (but only with the extra Thumpity thump thump chorus)
The First Noel

Question: Do you tolerate or enjoy seasonal songs?

mompoet - humming Tanenbaum

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Stupid Nose Cumin Bread

<>I’m an olfactory moron
Trapped in my own aroma-challenged hell
It’s worse than an allergy or eczema
You see…I don’t smell.

First thing Tuesday morning, I set things in motion a nice supper. Homemade soup simmering in the crockpot. Bread machine set up to pop out a loaf of pumpernickel at 6:30. I could hardly wait. Supper made and ready-to-eat when I come in the door is my idea of a happy end to a busy day. I left work a bit early and even had time to whip up a salad before we all sat down.

The soup was really yummy. We put sunflower seeds in the salad so it was crunch-licious. But the bread was a bit off. At first I couldn't figure it out. I don't make pumpernickel often because the kids don't like it. But still.

Then I realised. Instead of caraway seed I used whole cumin. My slice had a warm, cumin-y taste. Every bite got a bit warmer and spicier. Just drink milk or water with it and it's okay, but not what you expect from pumpernickel. MMMMPPHHH.

My darn nose has not worked right since I got Graves Disease about 3 1/2 years ago. Graves is an auto-immune disease that screws up your thyroid. It did all kinds of whacky things to me, and now I'm better. But I have gone from being an awesome smeller to a sheer idiot when it comes to aromatic identification. I miss knowing with my eyes closed it that's an apple or a pear. I worry that I have something on my shoe and I'm the only one who doesn't know it. I miss how good smelling makes tasting feel. I miss smell memories. I still get flashes of brilliance. Earlier this week I was walking down an elementary school hallway and I smelled a mixture of lemon and carnation and lavender that made me think of a summer day in the back yard in a house where we lived in South Vancouver when I was 6. It smelled like sunshine and lying in the grass and looking at the sky and having nothing to do. Maybe it was someone's perfume, but I don't think so. It smelled real. Maybe it was an olfactory hallucination, like when people lose a limb and feel phantom pain. I don't know.

I can still remember how a lot of things smell, and I occasionally experience exquisite congruity between an object or being and the smell I perceive. Most of the time smells are pretty much what they should be only duller, and occasionally they are way off the mark. I haven't brushed my teeth yet with Prep H, so I guess I'm doing okay.

Question: What! Did you think I actually own Prep H? HHHHHMMMMPPPHHH!!!

mompoet: blundering with nostrils agape