Sunday, April 30, 2006

Book Review - Cease to Blush by Billie Livingston

Holy smokes! I have been captivated by a book. That's the best feeling. I have been packing this novel around, sneaking reads whenever I have time, trying to savour it and make it last but wanting more to eagerly gobble my way through the pages and taste each delicious development. At the conference Friday I sneaked out of the AGM (well, that wasn't too difficult to give up) just so I could finish the last chapter in a quiet place.

The book is Cease to Blush, Billie Livingston's second novel. Livingston is a Vancouver author and poet and also the daughter of my good friend and poetry mentor, Irene Livingston. When I send Irene a poem and she really likes it, she tells me that it gave her goosebumps. Well, Billie's novel gave me goosebumps for 465 pages.

Cease to Blush is two stories: The story of Vivian, an actor who survives mostly by working in TV and movies as an extra, jobs like posing as a murdered prostitute. Her boyfriend Frank, who she met on a set, works as an extras wrangler, and is trying to convince her to do live internet porn chat to boost their incomes. When the story opens, Vivian's mom, Josie, a women's studies professor at the University of BC and ardent feminist, has just died of cancer. Josie's partner Sally gives Vivian a trunk full of her mom's belongings. When she opens it she discovers astonishing secrets about Josie's earlier life as Celia Dare, a nightclub entertainer who hung out with Frank Sinatra and Robert Kennedy and had mobster boyfriends. The story is about Vivian's journey of discovery as she searches for a connection between this dangerous and colourful character and the mother who she knew all her life. Along the way, both Vivian and Celia are revealed as complex and authentic people. There are great smaller characters too: Sally the neighbour who becomes mom's life partner; Vivian's sexually ambivalent best friend Len and her sleazy but at least partly loveable boyfriend, Frank. Then there's mom's old pal and fellow party girl and performer, Annie West. I'm already trying to figure out who should play that role in the movie.

The writing style is earthy, real and immediate. There are graphic descriptions of sex and death and lots of details about everyday lives of work, love, money, home. Through it all, Livingston steers clear of cliches and sentimentality. I'm easily distracted (and sometimes annoyed) by obvious historical and cultural references, but not so in this story. They're interwoven in a way that enhances the development of the keeps the action moving along. The work that must have gone into establishing the setting does not show. It seems effortless, and only fitting.

Part of Celia's story is told by Annie, who Vivian goes to visit, and part in letters that Celia wrote to Annie and Annie returned to Vivian. It's all through Vivian's eyes. The parts that Vivian can't know for sure, she imagines and writes herself, basing the narrative on details gleaned from articles, books and videos that she uses to research the people her mom knew and times in which they lived. This provides a revealing subtext about the process of writing a novel grounded in such a strong sense of place, incorporating real-life characters. The result is satisfying on many levels.

Next, Billie Livingston has a collection of short stories coming out called You Sound Tiny. While I wait for that I'm going to read her first novel, Going Down Swinging, and her poetry book, The Chick at the Back of the Church.

My 100% heartfelt, goose-bumpy recommendation for Cease to Blush. You're going to love it.

question: what are you reading?

mompoet - so many books!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

a visualization for regret

Did you ever say or do something trivial but regrettable that made you want to press the rewind button? Even if you've dealt with whatever follow-up is needed in real life, does it come back to replay again and again in your imagination? This banishes the image loop. You can make it go away.

1. imagine the moment - picture it like it's happening inside a snowglobe the size of a grapefruit

2. hold the snowglobe in one hand, kiss it gently, then blow on it, and watch it float up in the air like a bubble

3. say, "goodbye moment, you are over"

4. when it comes back, imagine it a bit smaller and repeat the steps. each time it will be smaller and smaller until it disappears

It sounds flakey but it works. Sometimes you need to talk to your brain and play with it.

question - have you tried it?

mompoet - it works

landscapes and art

My friend Sherrard took a 2 year leave of absence from her job as Community Arts Developer at work. She's at university in New York, studying art. Before she left, she asked me to take over a commitment to the Parks and Recreation Association's annual conference to moderate a forum about sport and art. Of course I said "okay!"

The conference is on this weekend, and the forum was yesterday. I am so glad I got to do this because it was amazing... The two artists who made presentations were Chili Thom and Rene Scavington. (check video clip # 3 for Rene.)

Chili is a wilderness guide/landscape painter who lives in Whistler BC. He makes wonderful expressive art, all out of his connection with nature. He talked to the rec practitioners about art as a response to nature, and encouraged us to take youth into the wilderness to make art. He also talked to us about the thriving artistic community in Whistler, and the devleopment of the Whister Arts Council as a catalyst to this.

Rene is a film maker and parkour practitioner. To find out about parkour you can check out the website of Rene's parkour group. The art of parkour is definitely underground, but Rene and his friend Alex emphasised fundamentals and learning to do it safely. He talked to the audience about the challenges of practising parkour in public places and told about a pilot training project to help new practitioners learn the art. Rene's film of young men climbing walls, jumping off high places and leaping urban chasms was astonishing and impressive. It reminded me of skateboarding without a skateboard.

The room was buzzing with questions. It was a warm Friday afternoon - a beautiful day in Vancouver after a big lunch and an AGM for the BCRPA. Everyone was there, engaged and interested. My new friend and co-worker Valerie was there. She's working in Sherrard's position during her leave of absence. It was a great afternoon. I love my job.

question: jumped off/over anything lately?

mompoet - proper training is required

Thursday, April 27, 2006

new eritrea blog

Read about local language, Easter, rain, bicycle rides and buses.

question: did you ever have trouble making yourself understood?

mompoet - not missing them nearly so much now

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

top of the class

I am the best at dork-walking. I lapped everyone about 10 times. Our teacher, Willie Jensen, who is really a great guy and awesomely fit, told me I was ten steps ahead of everyone else, probably because I have XC skied in the past. I thought we would go out on the road but instead we walked around the perimeter of a big grassy rectangle. Halfway through we reversed direction, like at a skating rink. This allowed Willie to follow us around and give us directions and encouragement. I am working on extending my hand behind me farther as I release the pole.

It is really a humdinger of a workout. I sweated up a storm poling my way around the quad for 50 minutes. I'm wearing shorts next time.

Fiona says it's nothing to be proud of, that I'm the uber-dork in my dork-walking class. I need to tell her that maybe I'd like to get my own poles and do this myself in my own time after the class finishes. Guess I'd better do it really early in the morning or far away from our house.

question: did you ever find out you could do something that you didn't know you could do?

mompoet - I bet my dad will do this with me. We could burn up the trail around Burnaby Lake with these poles.

Monday, April 24, 2006

boogie division of the dork squad

Tomorrow I'm going to try Nordic Walking. I signed up for a 3-week intro class for city employees. Boy, I am already layers deep in dork-dom. Fiona says I should wear a shirt that says "Dork Squad," with my dork name on the back. She says my dork name is Suzie Dorklesmith.

I am trying dork walking, I mean Nordic walking, because it looks intriguingly dorkish. I have seen ladies walking along the path beside the golf course, swinging their arms with what look like ski poles. It's supposed to be a humdinger of a workout. We have a super-expert Nordic Walker to teach us how to walk fast with poles. Me and the other city employees every Tuesday at lunchtime for 3 weeks.

I cross-country skied a lot when I was a kid. I don't think I'll need to kick and glide, or herringbone, and telemark turns are probably redundant when you are walking down the street with a bunch of dorks. This will be fun.

question: what's the name of the movie where Dan Aykroyd race-walks for fitness?

mompoet - totally embarassing almost all of the time

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cori and Jim got Married Today

What a beautiful, happy day! The wedding was at Burnaby Village Museum in the church. The reception was at the carousel. We all got to ride the horses. Jim and Cori are over-the-moon with happiness and so are we. What a lovely day!

question: ever ride a stargazer?

mompoet - full up with love and fun

now i can breathe out


I've been sitting on a secret, a happy secret, but a secret nontheless...We have found a new minister for our church. I was on the Search Committee. We've been working since January and everything is confidential, so we had this big responsiblity on behalf of our church community, and a decision that will change one family's life profoundly, and all of ours significantly, and we could only talk about it to each other, not our families, not anyone.

We did of course have ample input from the congregation about what we were supposed to look for, but we were on our own doing it. Then even after we made the decision and had it approved by the congregation in a meeting last Sunday, it was still "sshhhhhh" until our new minister told his church that he had accepted a new position. But now it is official. In June we will say goodbye to our beloved Mary Duncan, who has bridged out minister-gap for 2 years while we figured out where we are going and what we are doing. Tim Lissimore will come with his wife Natalie, young son and new baby (due in July) to help us realise our new visions and lead us in our worship beginning in August. Tim grew up in Coquitlam, so this is a homecoming for him. Some of our church members know him from when they were kids together. He and his wife are super-excited, and so are we. It's that having a baby feeling of someone is coming, we know we're going to love him. We will be important in each other's lives. It will be long-term. Yayyyy!

Another happy piece of church news. In March our congregation voted that we will have same-sex marriages performed in our church. United Church of Canada people believe that your sexuality is a gift from God to be embraced and celebrated. Still, each congregation is given the choice about whether same-sex marriages will be performed in its church. I was very anxious about this. It was interesting, at our congregational meeting to discuss the issue and vote, there was an openness about points of view that affirmed my confidence in the United Church way of doing things. Everyone was listened to with respect, including a good contingent of teen church members who were welcomed to the discussion and the vote. After the meeting, many members said that the contributions of the teens (they all spoke thoughtfully about the issue) helped them understand that this is the way to go for the future of our church and our community of youth. So many parents don't know yet what their children's sexual orientation will be. This way, no matter what, all can be married at our church, along with other members of the community who would otherwise be excluded.

Both experiences have helped me to realise what an important part my church plays in my life, as part of my base of stability. My faith is important and my church community is important. They are the same and different. They are precious beyond words.

question: how long can you hold your breath?

mompoet - big, happy, deep ones

Saturday, April 22, 2006

no show-toonz this summer in stanley park

I just got this email from the President of Theatre Under the Stars:

Regretfully, the Board of Theatre Under the Stars has cancelled the season
and has postponed the musicals Grease and Oklahoma! until the 2007 season.
There will NOT be any auditions this weekend. While TUTS will not have a
regular summer musical line-up this year, we will continue with House of Blues
Concerts and other events. Check our website for further information NOTE: The
website is currently under construction - but will be back up soon.

Diane Berladyn
Theatre Under The Stars

What sad news this is.... We have enjoyed many warm summer evenings at TUTS. A blanket picnic in the lineup, bug spray and hot chocolate under a blanket in the cheap seats, the mad dash to the pavilion washrooms at intermission, local amateur musical theatre performers singing, dancing and acting their hearts out on that old stage.... We will miss it. This year the girls were going to audition too! Oh well. Let's hope for better times in Summer 07.

question: Do you like to watch theatre under the stars?

mompoet - disappointed but optimistic

Friday, April 21, 2006

musical theatre has the most wonderfully awful lyrics

This from today's production of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown:

It's always been my dream
That I'd marry a man who plays the piano.

At parties he'd play something nice like
"April Showers."
I'm sure you could play something nice like
"April Showers."
Or even "Frere Jacques."
Beethoven's nice too.

question: do you know this song?

mompoet - shusshed by my daughter when I guffawed at it

day off

I took today off work. I do love my job and the way it lets me flex to be home when the kids are home. Today they both have a Pro-D Day. While the teachers attend meetings or seminars the kids get a day away from school.

Alex has to be at the church at 7 this morning. The minister is taking the youth group down to First United, our inner city mission, to help serve breakfast. This isn't how he usually spends a Pro-D. I'm glad he's getting this opportunity. We've visited First United only once before. Through our church we send money and things that help them do their job - towels, blankets, mugs for soup, food..It's a good place. No pressure to talk about God or sit through a service, but it's open all day. People are welcome to sleep in the sanctuary. They can also shower, eat, get some fresh clothes, have their feet attended to and get new socks, get a haircut, pick up mail, make phone calls, have their taxes done, or just visit and be warm and dry. Hundreds come every day. Many more volunteer. When we visited we met a man who was helped when he first came to Vancouver and had no money or place. Now he's working as a barber, and he comes to the church twice a week to cut hair for free. It's that kind of place.

Fiona gets to see the junior group at her theatre school perform "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." We're picking up some of her friends to go see a matinee set up specially for the pro d day. Fi and I will go to lunch first - something special about sitting down with just one kid at a time...

Later, Alex wants me to take him to get his book to study for his Learner's License. He turns 16 in May. whoa!

And, I want to sew one more Munchkin dress. The Wizard of Oz in in late May, early June. I'm helping make costumes. The dresses are pretty simple but there's a lot of gathering for sleeves and a voluminous skirt. That takes time to do right. They turn out mighty cute though. Don't get much chance to sew puffed sleeves these days!

Should be time for a nice supper when Andy gets home. I am on high alert right now not to leave any food out after our dog, Soleil, ate eight fresh blueberry muffins while we were at work and school on Thursday. They were in a plastic box with the lid snapped tight. She is a smart food thief! Anybody want a dog who now has blueberry farts?

Tonight the ladeez will sit down for a glass of wine and help Myrna pack up for her move at the end of the month. She's staying in the neighbourhood, thank goodness, just moving to a different unit. All in all, it looks like it will be a very nice day.

question: what do you do when you have an extra day?

mompoet - staying close to home

making an impression

My friend Chris was listening to the radio on Thursday - 14CFUN I think. Eve Ensler was on, talking about her play, The Good Body. She mentioned that a bunch of women came backstage Tuesday and one of them recited a poem and they all love their thighs. Yay!

Everything makes a dent or a ripple in everything else and we all move over just a bit and make room and nothing is ever the same.

question: do you have any new and interesting dents or ripples? made any lately?

mompoet - appreciating the gently vibrating cosmos

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

They used to have one of these at Lougheed Mall Burnaby. Farrel's Ice cream Parlour. Matthew Baldwin's blog reminded me.

I remember. It was great. We sometimes went there after going to a movie at the amazing underground movie theatres at the end of the mall. I remember they had a jelly bean sandwich. Two slices of white bread, butter, honey and jellybeans. I never ate one, I just thought it was cool. I always went for as much ice cream plus goo that my mom would let me order.

Later, after Farrel's was gone, and I was old enough to serve alcohol, I waitressed at The Spag (The Old Spaghetti Factory). It had some of the hokey elan that I remember from Farrel's, but by the time I became a Spagoo, they were phasing in all kinds of nouveau dishes and streamlining some of the kitschy decor. The Spag lives on and people still go there. Even though it's been a lot of years I'm certain I can still hoist a tray with 5 lasagnas and get it to a table in seconds flat with my blouse still starchy white. (Just glad I don't have to anymore.)

I once slipped on the hardwood floor there and landed on my butt at the edge of an old rug, with a tray, a litre of house wine and 2 glasses, all still upright. Now that's waitressing! Also, I once dreamed while I was working there that the restaurant had been moved into a forest and we had to canoe from the kitchen to the tables with our trays. To get back up with the dirty dishes we had to portage. Now that's neurotic waitressing!

How'd I get here from Matthew's blog? oh well...

question: did you ever eat a jelly bean sandwich?

mompoet - thinking it was more fun to talk about than to order

The Good Body

We all went downtown to see The Good Body last night - Mom, and Michele, and Kirsi, and Karen and Cathy and me. The show was good and funny and true. It's a one-woman show by Eve Ensler who created The Vagina Monologues. She plays about a dozen different characters, including herself, talking about how women think and feel about their bodies. After the show, we were invited backstage to meet Eve. We thought there'd be other people but it was just us and one friend who went back to see her. Eve was warm and gracious, although she must have been exhausted after the performance. She asked me to recite "I love my thighs" which I did, with the help of my good friends. What a treat!

I hope this does for bellies and boobs and butts what The Vagina Monologues did for vaginas. The point of the play is that when we walk around fixated on body-loathing we miss the world. "Look up. Look out." It's something good to think on.

question: what's your favourite part?

mompoet - great wrists, awesome thighs

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

australian mormon fairy penguins don't preen

and their mothers dress them funny.

question: huh?

mompoet - whu?

And the winner is....

Toronto's Michelle Muir is the winner of the CBC Poetry Face Off. I heard her delicious poem, "My Fantastic Journey to Planet Irresistible," and agree, it's an excellent choice. Congratulations to Michelle!

Thank you to everyone who made me feel so good about being Vancouver's representative in the Face Off. This has been a fantastic journey for me too, ending with me this morning, listening to CBC Fredricton online to get a 4 hour jump on the 11am announcement. I wish I could have won, but that's okay - listening to all of the other poets on the radio a couple of weeks ago, and reading their bios on the website, I know I am in distinguished company. I am honoured just to be thought of as one of them.

Thank you friends, thank you family, thank you CBC. Thank goodness for poetry!

question: what's next?

mompoet - life full of surprises

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Good Body

I just won 6 tickets to the Vancouver opening night of Eve Ensler's The Good Body. Last week I entered a contest on CBC Radio's On the Coast show by phoning in and recording my poem "I love my thighs" on their talk-back line. So me and 5 lady friends are going to Vancouver Tuesday night to see the show! All this as I wait to hear the results of the Poetry Face Off tomorrow morning. This is too much. Like a 5 scoop ice cream cone (5 different flavours, including strawberry-jalapeno).

The poem shall remain unpublished, as it belongs to my friend Michele. I wrote it for her 35th birthday. When CBC announced the contest, I phoned Michele for permission to use the poem enter it. Of course, she'll be there to enjoy the show with me tomorrow.

Eve Ensler wrote The Vagina Monologues. Her new play is about women and body image, a topic that is most play-worthy I think. It will be such fun! What a nice treat at the end of a sort of sad Easter weekend. How lucky I am! And my thighs? I love them, I love them, I really do.

question: do you love your thighs?

mompoet - old enough to understand about these parts of mine, and to appreciate treats and surprises

book review - Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

I have just begun reading Billie Livingston's new novel, Cease to Blush. So I'd better write somethig about Dance Dance Dance before I get too far away from it.

I read something by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami on the recommendation of Stephen, who is setting out to read Murakami's entire English-translated collection. I chose Dance Dance Dance because it was the one on the shelf in the Port Moody Library.

I read Dance Dance Dance in just a little over one week. This is an indication that I was captivated by it. It's pretty linear, the story of a man searching for something. It begins with a vision of an old hotel where he once stayed and the feeling that the women with whom he stayed is lost somewhere and crying for him. He is a lonely guy, kind of bumping around in a semi-successful but unsatisfying career as a writer. He takes some time off work to return to the hotel and begin the search which becomes the story in the novel. I kept reading it because I wanted to find out where he was going and what he was doing. Also I was curious about who he was. I think I read fiction mostly because of curiosity. I want to know the details of people's lives. Why is this guy the way he is? What has happened to him in his life? Why does he see things the way he sees them? What will he do? If a story satisifies that curiosity, I enjoy it. If it doesn't, I don't. The other part is emotional. I need to feel an affinity/sympathy/connection with the character. I need to understand that whatever he does or feels, I could feel that way, given the circumstances. I don't have to agree. But I do have to feel a connection. I need to feel myself rooting for the person as he makes his way through whatever happens.

Dance Dance Dance was mostly satisfying on both counts. The main character is interesting and sympathetic. The story unfolds as a series of connections as he meets the other characters: a successful movie actor, a rich novelist (either of whom could be the other side of himself - the person who he might have been or who might have been him, given different circumstances), an enigmatic hotel clerk and a lonely, precocious 13-year old girl. He also spends time in a parallel world with the Sheep Man, whose cryptic instructions help give him direction in his quest. I did root for the guy (who doesn't have name in the story). I wanted him to find out why the lost woman was calling him. I wanted him to find out why "everything is connected," something he bumps into early in the story. The theme of connectedness sticks the plot together. In the end, this mostly un-sticky guy does find personal and emotional connection, and it is mostly satisfying.

There were a few breath-taking moments in the story for me - mostly the times when he enters the mystical side-world that seems to be there to help him interpret real life. In this side world he faces some scary situations (endless darkness, people disappearing, a room filled with skeletons). His courage in this world helps illuminate the courage required just to get through everyday life in the real world. That's the lasting impression that I took away.

The parts that bothered me were: the visual shorthand style of description - lots of western pop culture references and endless descriptions of exactly what he eats at every meal and the name of the restaurant and exactly which song by which artist he is listening to on the radio or cd player. It felt like reading a movie, if that makes sense. It was clearly a purposeful choice to write like this. I just found it distracting. It didn't seem to help convey any meaning except maybe to emphasise the insignificance of our real world anchors - but it was a bit heavy handed if that was the purpose. Maybe I missed the point.

Still in all. I recommend this story. I don't think I'll rush to read more Murakami, but I will keep track of Stephen's reviews. Maybe if the Sheep Man shows up again I'll have a look.

question: what are you reading today?

mompoet - always curious

Sunday, April 16, 2006

distracting myself from easter

I have been keeping myself busy because there's been a lot to do this weekend. When I finally sat down Saturday afternoon after a day and a half of flat out kid-wrangling, errand-running, housecleaning, entertaining, pickle-arranging, syllable-balancing and newt-registering, I fell asleep reading the newspaper. The thing is, I wasn't really tired, I was escaping from thinking.

Thing is, I miss my sister terribly right now. Almost as much as the day I said goodbye to her in September. That day all I could see was a vision of 700+ days before I could hug her or laugh with her or probably even hear her voice again. It was an awfully sad day. Now I'm missing her because we always have Easter together and it's Easter now and we're not together.

So being the person I am, I have simply jumped to my favourite coping mechanism which is busy-busy-sleep. I guess it's better than getting drunk or violent or depressed, but it's still not dealing with the problem. So here I am blogging it, and feeling very sad, but also knowing that admitting that I feel sad will help me really feel it and own it and be okay with it.

We have been enjoying a very nice Easter weekend, but I wish I was in Barb and Kim's little kitchen in Cranbrook, cooking up something huge and tasty, or walking by a lake somewhere or cooking ourselves in the hot spring, or killing ourselves laughing over a home-made game of family balderdash. My nephew Lukas is the funniest balderdash player you have ever met.

I guess this is a lightweight version of what people must feel when they have lost a loved one permanently, and a special day rolls around, making them remember what they'd be doing if their loved one was still living. Good thing is, Barb and Kim and Maya and Lukas and Simon will come home and we'll catch up and be together again. This is temporary.

Love is a gift that is sometimes hard to carry. I am blessed to have reason to feel so sad.

question: are you missing someone this holiday?

mompoet - going now to hug my loved ones who are here with me at Easter

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Not Reno, "reno" as in renovated. We took a carload and a half of kids to Playland for opening day. It was chilly cold but not rainy. The crowds were small. I was excited to see that the roller coaster is about 10% new wood. Whole sections have been re-built. This looks like a promise that we get to keep it a while longer. It also makes it even more scary. Beside the fresh wood parts, the old ones look even more dilapidated. I rode it just five times so I need to go back soon. I did have my favourite ride by myself in the front seat. That alone is worth the price of admission to the park. We got season's passes so I'll have lots more rides before summer is over.

question: Are you a coaster-rider or a sideline-watcher?

mompoet - fan of Douglas Fir, old and new

Thursday, April 13, 2006

in canada monday is a holiday because sunday is on the weekend

so instead of announcing the winner of the Poetry Face Off, CBC Radio will play Mozart, the great Canadian proxy-holiday composer.

On Tuesday, April 18, they will announce the winner of the Poetry Face Off, unless we suddenly get Tuesday in lieu of that extra day we missed because it wasn't a leap year this year, or something like that.

Stay tuned. Rule of thumb. No matter what, it will eventually happen.

question: do you work or rest on "Easter Monday?"

mompoet - On Monday, I plan to iron chocolate wrappers so they can be woven into hairbands for Oompa Loompas

i felt good when she said

"....Mo-om! There's nobody around and you are still embarassing me!"

Question: know what I mean?

mompoet - that's my job, and I' gooood at it

what words mean

Day before yesterday there was a 5-vehicle collision in the Massey Tunnel - a major commuter route under the Fraser River, during evening rush hour. On the TV news, the announcer said:

"That crash in the tunnel tied up traffic for 4 hours this afternoon, even though traffic through the tunnel was maintained with one lane in both directions."

One lane in both directions in a tunnel under the river? Now that's scary.

My daughter got it. She listened and said, "each."

question: how do you go to and fro?

mompoet - trying to choose the right words

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

new poem

it's windy and it's rainy and it's dark and it's bright
the length of the day is the length of the night
and i don't like this season
i don't know why
we're stuck in the middle of something
there's no moving forward and no moving back
we're circling senseless just circling senseless
i don't like this season

i don’t like…
give me burning sun or a cold winter night
give me polar ice caps and four hours of daylight
let the heat of the earth creep up through my feet
and light me on fire
but take me away
i don't like this season i don't like this day

there are reasons to leave, there are reasons to stay
the sound of my heart is the length of a day
so i’m writing down lists
and pulling up roots
shaking spiders and earwigs
from the toes of my old rubber boots

there are poems in the bible and poems in the sea
but my life’s not a poem
it’s just my reality
and i’m just writing down what’s been happening to me

i’m not fatalistic
but one thing i know
the bus comes when it comes no matter
so i stopped peering down the street
a long time ago
and i’m wondering now
would i have the strength
to step out of the way
if that bus mounted the sidewalk
and came after me

there’s a piece of a poem that is stuck to my shoe
with a thought that got started and stopped partway through
what makes me think
i have something to say
what makes me think
you would listen

i keep trying to explain why i’m bothered by spring
been happening since i was little
guess it’s just a hard-wired thing
trying to open up my paintbox to orange and grey and green
i can sense the attraction of the stuff that’s in between
but i keep turning back to blue and red, white and black
because those are the colours that speak to me

hot or cold, dark or bright
my sensor’s set for celcius
you give me fahrenheit

i know part of growing up is learning shades of grey
but my careless soul craves contrast
it’s easier that way
sizzle my eyes with your brilliance
pierce my heart when you’re gone
intensity makes sense to me
while life goes on and on and on…

question: how soon until summer?

mompoet - blurting - but that's just me

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I am the luckiest person I know. Why I am so lucky, I will never know.
The Poetry Face Off has proved it to me again. I'm not talking about winning the Vancouver contest. I'm talking about everything around it...being nominated, finding the inspiration to write a poem to order, and most of all the response of people to the whole surreal, preposterous, lovely, delicious situation. People have voted for me. I'll never know the numbers, but I will know some of the stories. Aunt Lucy in Nairobi voted for me. Ashley Harrold in Reading UK voted for me. My sister in Eritrea blogged an appeal to friends to vote for me. My biggest fan 2 doors over, Nolan, who is 8 years old voted for me. And people got in touch with me because of the poem. My friend Ian from Chicago, on business in Toronto, turned on the rental car radio and heard the poem. People who I don't know emailed CBC and asked CBC to forward encouragement and compliments to me. People googled my name and emailed me via Poetry House. I was invited to feature at an elementary school Writers' festival. People I've known for ages who don't know I write and perform poetry were flabbergasted. I like flabbergasted! Fellow bloggers blogged about me. Some sent emails to their friends without ccing me, asking friends to vote for me without me knowing, but I found out. My husband got everyone at work to vote for me. Everyone in the cycle class asked me WHAT'S IRRESISTIBLE SUE? and I had to tell them, and they agreed. People phoned me or grabbed me and hugged me and said my poem made them cry. It has been some kind of strange unbelievable phenomenon. My cup runneth over, I am filled with joy.
thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you

question: how does serendipity happen?

mompoet - filled with gratitude overwhelmed by good fortune

ps Nolan, I will come cheer for you in the Olympics in 2016 or 18, depending

Sunday, April 09, 2006

dogs in cars are sometimes art

Andy snapped this one with his cell phone camera at the Port Moody Arts Festival today. The parking lot at the Arts Centre was full of art cars, including a VW Beetle with a fountain inside the car (anyone who has driven a Beetle in the rain will understand the irony of this) and this lovely lady all dressed for belly dancing in the front seat of a coffee truck.

question: does your dog ride in the front seat? or the back?

mompoet - snuggling up to serendipity

I was at the book launch too

I just didn't take my own picture. Thank you to Michael's friend Tom from West End Writers, who shared his photographs.

question: are you sometimes "there" but not "in the picture?"

mompoet - look in the picture and you will see the photographer

Friday, April 07, 2006

spring morning dog-walk haiku

diamond snout she-wolf
inhales morning messages
exhales dew roll bliss

question - oh what a beautiful?

mompoet - morning

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More Launch

Launch Photos

It was a good launch. About 20 people came to hear us read from our new book. Larry and Marianne read at the open mic, and Vicki Allesia, Exec Director of the Port Moody Arts Centre Society joined us. These celebrations help glue our group together and into the community. Check the audience photo. That's my mom and dad in the front row. It was fun to recite the colonoscopy poem with its subjects in attendance.

question: what's happening in your community?

mompoet - launched and laughing

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

wordless wednesday

Shoreline Launch Tonite!!

Tonight the Shoreline Writers' Society launches its sixth chapbook, My Mother and Other Lies. We'll read from our book, sell and sign books and serve some refreshments. It's our contribution to this year's Port Moody Festival of the Arts and also our celebration of the Shoreline Community and the happy little dent we are making in the world.

We will have an open mic, so bring something to read or an instrument to play or a story to tell...ahhh!

Port Moody Arts Centre
2425 St Johns Street
Port Moody

tra la la!

shameless self promotion

I sent a couple of media releases out to the local papers. The Tri-City News published it. It's pretty easy to get a story into the local paper. They usually copy and dump your exact words into the paper, which is pretty much what they did this time. Yayyy!

question: when was the last time you quoted yourself?

mompoet - glad they excised the cheeseball quote, happy the rest made the paper

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

one family's junk...

It's cleanup week in Port Moody. Check out the stuff that I saw down the street. To help with spring cleaning, the city allows residents to put out almost anything non-toxic and non-explosive for pickup. People put their stuff out a few days ahead of their scheduled garbage day. Then the scavengers come out. Neighbours take other neighbours' junk. Flea market dealers load up trucks. People who just need something go out and look and usually find it. It's a strange and beautiful phenomenon. A cross between environmental sustainability and feeding the sharks.

question: do you do this in your city?

mompoet - dibs on the red naugahyde bar!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

keep it or chuck it? books and videos

If the exercise bike is the common denominator for big "keep or chuck" items, books and videos have to be the the same for small ones. My husband cannot not buy videos (now dvds of course). If he worked on the film, we have it. If he enjoyed it in the theatre, we have it. If it's on sale previously viewed and there's a remote chance we might enjoy it, we have it. If the kids like it, we have it. Every year at the garage sale I unload a lot of videos (haven't convinced him to let me get started on the dvds, but maybe this year). But I can't get all high and mighty about his video compulsion when I look at some of the stupid books I have bought and kept. I have a fascination with absurd/preposterous/unlikely titles. I am curious about how some books get published, and what they must say inside. If they're in the bargain bin or on a used bookstore shelf I cannot resist. Just for the record, I have not read far enough to determine my flavour personality, but I think it must have something to do with fibre. I have dipped into a few pages of Mr. Rogers. I loved Fred Rogers. Never watched his show as a kid, but I sneaked it in while my kids were watching (or not watching). During my years as a stay-at-home mom, Fred Rogers was one of my lifelines. I am not kidding. He was really good stuff. I even wrote a letter to him once. In a time of supercharged hype and flash in kids' programming, Mr. Rogers stayed slow, gentle and genuine. His predictability comforted me. His vulnerability helped me feel safe. I loved him. I really did. (ahem)

Descriptions: Assorted books and VHS tapes, some for kids, some for adults; Value: all purchased at bargain-basement prices, now probably zero resale; secret powers: played/read backwards they reveal some pretty good tuna casserole recipes.


Keep them? or chuck them?

question: can you play VHS backwards?

mompoet - it's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Vote for the Canadian Poetry Face Off Champion April 3-11

Voting opens for the CBC Poetry Face Off on Monday April 3 and continues to midnight Tuesday April 11. Please check out the updated website. It's where you can vote, and also where you can listen to clips from all of the finalists' poems.

The poems will be re-broadcast April 3-7 on CBC AM690 11:30amPDT. My poem is scheduled to be aired on Tuesday, April 4. I hope you'll listen in! Here's the url for listening to CBC Radio online. Just click on site #23 - Vancouver.

Participating in the Poetry Face Off, winning the Vancouver contest and getting excited about the voting has been so much fun. Regardless of the outcome I feel like I have won already. Thanks to everyone for your encouragement and enthusiasm. I hope you'll enjoy the final days of the Face Off.

question: am I dreaming?

mompoet - excited

keep it or chuck it - turbo giraffe

Two items today for your consideration. The giraffe belongs to our daughter, who purchased it a few years ago at the neighbourhood garage sale. For various complicated reasons it cannot be re-sold at a garage sale. It lives in the basement with item #2, the exercise bike. This must be the quintessential unused household object and yes, we have one.


Plush giraffe stuffed toy approximately 4 feet tall propped up. Takes up the same space as a large dog when flopped on the ground. Too big for a windowsill. Well-used but no rips, loose bits or unstuffed areas. Smells good. Value: purchased used for $10 five years ago. Secret powers: at night it comes to life and loads the dishwasher, but it also eats all of the After 8 Mints unless you hide them very well.

Sturdy exercise bike approximately 10 years old. Used 4 times. Digital display never worked. Tension adjustment and seat raise/lower work great. Weighs approximately 492kg. Useful as a rack for drying fine handwashables. Approximate value: purchased new for about $200 10 years ago. Today it would cost more to haul out of the house than we could ever ask for it. Secret powers: constructed of super-densified materials that are so heavy they must disprove all laws of physics. Worthy of scientific study. Failing that, if the aliens ever come, you could put this in front of the door, and the aliens would never be able to break down the door. Also good for hanging your bras up to dry.

Now you tell me, please...

Chuck it? or Keep it?

mompoet - co-existing with way too much stuff