Poem of the Month: The Poetry of the Universe

poetryFor the past few months I have been writing poetry. While I’m churning them out at a slightly slower rate than a couple of months ago, I’m still writing weekly. Many of them are not fit for public consumption, but I have written enough that are and I’d like to share some of them. And so, a blog series is born. These aren’t my most personal poems, but I do enjoy each of them.

And now, here is this month’s poem, inspired by my love of math.

The Poetry of the Universe

My favourite number changes
Sometimes it’s 16
Sometimes it’s 36
Usually it’s 96
Because it’s divisible by
4 and 6 and 8 and 12 and 16.

The beautiful part: these things are
Always, always, always true.
It’s not a matter of opinion
It doesn’t change in far-flung
Countries or even distant
Galaxies as yet unseen by human eye.

3.14159265… is unshakeable
Molding the stars in their
Courses, hula hoops on the
Waists of laughing little girls,
Bubbles babies bat at
Of course lemon meringue pi(e).

I heard once that Pythagoras
Assigned mystical significance
To certain numbers and hated
Non-terminating decimals –
Impaled on his own theorem.
To me it just shows he really cared.

Sometimes You Just Have to Try Something

Sometimes you have to step out of your shell and try something new. This happened to me yesterday when my husband and I were enjoying a kid-free afternoon in a very trendy neighbourhood. I came across the Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour, which I have visited before because I am a licorice lover. This time, however, I was brought up short by a sign outside advertising ‘snorting chocolate’.

Now, I am a chocolate lover as much as a licorice lover, if not even more so, but I was puzzled. And intrigued. And puzzled. How, and more importantly why, would one snort chocolate?

Once I was inside the store buying dark chocolate-covered Australian black licorice and minty Dutch licorice chalk I had to ask. What’s the deal? Apparently the idea of snorting chocolate was conceived for a party thrown by the Rolling Stones with a chocolate theme. Which struck me as incredibly funny. And I decided that I might as well try it. So I shelled out $2 and opted for the recommended raspberry chocolate flavour. Or scent. Or variety. You know what I mean, right?

It was … not bad. The chocolate scent lingered in my nose, and hence on my palate, for a solid 20 minutes after, which was pleasant. I think I would generally prefer to eat my chocolate, though. Less sneezy, and more satisfying in the end. Fortunately, however, my husband was there to capture this one-off on video. What does it look like to snort chocolate? Watch and see.

Podcast: Mothers and Memoirs with Melissa Cistaro

podcast melissa cistaro memoir pieces of my motherPodcasting was my most favourite thing for a time, and now I’m thrilled to be slowly getting back into it. The opportunity to chat with interesting people about interesting things is amazing – I highly recommend it. Today I’m excited to share another conversation with an interesting person. Melissa Cistaro is the author of Pieces of my Mother, a memoir that was released in the US on May 5, 2015 and seems to be gearing up for official release in Canada on May 15, 2015.

Melissa’s mother left the family home when Melissa was very young. The memoir covers her experiences growing up without her mother in the house, and her experiences being present when her mother was dying. In her mother’s final days Melissa found a box of “Letters Never Sent” that shine a lens on the past and the present. I got my hands on an advance copy of the book and I found it readable and engaging. Whether or not you share her experiences, Melissa’s memoir will resonate with you in some way. As we all recover from Mother’s Day, this is an interesting take on a different side of motherhood.

podcast melissa cistaro memoir pieces of my  mother bookDuring our conversation Melissa and I talked about writing, publishing, motherhood and a whole lot more. Whether you are a mother or you have a mother (which is pretty much all of us, right?) there is something in this book and conversation for you. Sit back, relax, and take a listen. And stop by www.melissacistaro.com to find out more about Melissa, or pick up a copy of her book pretty much anywhere books are sold. Enjoy!

If you enjoyed my conversation with Melissa Cistaro, or you’d like to hear more of my interviews, check out the Strocel.com podcast in iTunes. As an extra bonus, if you subscribe you won’t miss a minute of my future broadcasts. And if you have a podcast idea, please share it with me. I’d love to hear your suggestions!

What I Will Not do This Year

Today is my 39th birthday. Unlike previous years, this birthday actually didn’t trigger a massive existential crisis. This feels sort of ironic given the fact that I am sort of betwixt and between at the moment, cooling my heels until I start school full-time in the fall. Maybe that’s why – I’m letting myself off the hook because I know I have a plan, and I don’t have to do anything to make that plan happen right now. Whatever the cause, it’s lovely.

birthday selfie

Birthday Selfie

For the past few years I’ve made birthday resolutions. The idea was to set some intentions and bring new things into my life that I didn’t have the year before. Given that I’m in a different frame of mind this year, though, I’ve decided to switch things up. Here is what I plan not to do with this final year of my thirties.


What I Will Not do at 39

  • Eat corn.
  • Ruminate on my various shortcomings, big and small, real and imagined.
  • Go skydiving.
  • Stop loving my still-newish-to-me minivan.
  • Start drinking coffee.
  • Have a baby.
  • Slow my rate of tea collecting.
  • Learn a new language.
  • Lose my mind (I hope).
  • Write a novel.
  • Keep track of my weight.
  • Join the circus.
  • Finally manage to do the splits.
  • Start a business.
  • Stop laughing.
  • Give up chocolate.
  • Move to another house.
  • Let my hair grow out.
  • Get a tattoo.
  • Dye my hair.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Give up on my goal of becoming a teacher.

You know what the best part of this list is? I think I can manage not to do all of it. What about you? What would you like to not do more of?

FOD-What?

I am one of those people who can eat pretty much anything. That doesn’t mean I like everything. Corn on the cob is not my thing no matter how often other people urge me to give it a try. I have. It doesn’t do much for me. I am somehow managing to live a full and happy life in spite of it. But there are very few things I do enjoy that cause me any digestive issues, especially if I don’t go completely overboard. As in, I can eat Halloween candy, but I can’t eat all the Halloween candy at one sitting.

My husband, on the other hand, has to be careful about what he eats. Certain foods like dairy and tomato sauce have to be approached with caution. He has tried all sorts of different supplements and dietary solutions, from avoiding whole grains to only eating whole grains to going gluten-free. Some seemed to be helpful, others not so much, but in the end living life without pizza is just too sad so we’re not doing it.

Periodically I take to the internet anyway. Recently I did just that for an upcoming guest post I’m writing for another site when I came across the acronym FODMAP. Which stands for a very long term that I can’t even begin to prounounce. Suffice it to say it’s a group of certain kinds of carbs that nobody really digests all that well. However, some people are more irritated by them than others. Eliminating them seems to have helped many people like my husband who have digestive issues, but for whom testing has not produced any obvious cause.

FODMAP gluten celiac digestive issues IBS wheatApparently these FODMAPs may account for the growing number of cases of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. There is a lot of overlap between high FODMAP foods and foods that contain gluten. For instance, corn, potatoes, rice and quinoa are all low FODMAP foods and gluten-free. This may explain why many people who don’t have celiac disease notice that they feel better when they avoid gluten.

You can read more about FODMAPs here, here and here. Here’s what I found interesting: many of the high-FODMAP foods are foods that my husband avoids already because he has found them to cause tummy troubles. The other thing that is positive is that someone who reacts negatively to these carbs doesn’t necessarily need to eliminate them entirely. They can try eliminating all of them for a couple of weeks and then slowly introduce them back into their diet to see which ones, and in what quantity, they can tolerate. For many people having the occasional slice of pizza is fine. And if you have a flare-up you know what the likely culprits are. This isn’t a life sentence, it’s just information.

After doing all that reading I was excited and emailing my husband a bunch of links. Then I talked his ear off over dinner. Then I told my friend all about FODMAPs. My husband has spent a whole lifetime being poked and prodded and experimenting, though, so he was a lot more circumspect. I think he has just seen so many miracle solutions that were far less than miraculous. I understand that.

Food is a funny thing. Human beings, as omnivores, can choose such a varied diet. And in this day and age when pretty much everything is always available at the grocery store, the variety is even greater. Few of us are eating simply to live, or choosing our diets based on what’s available right now. We eat foods because we like them, because they connect us to each other, because of how they make us feel, because of what they cost. Our meals make personal and political statements. For people like me this means that choosing to be a vegan, or go paleo, or avoid sugar and caffeine, is entirely intellectual. We can make pretty much anything work.

When you have a history of having to be very careful, things are different. I’ve only experienced this second-hand, but I’ve seen it all the same. Comfort, nourishment and choice are all weightier things. Acronyms like FODMAPs start to blend together after a while, and it can all just feel like a lot of work. So I will print out the list and refer to it, but I won’t impose it on my husband the next time he just wants a burger. Or, at least, I will try not to.

Have you heard of FODMAPs? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with these tricky little carbs.

Poem of the Month: Poetry Class

poetryLast month I shared how I have recently returned to poetry. I haven’t slowed down – so far I’ve written more than 50 poems. Many of them are not fit for public consumption, but I have written enough that are and I’d like to share some of them. And so, a new blog series is born, and I will be poem one poem each month. These aren’t my most personal poems, but I do enjoy each of them.

And now, here is this month’s poem, inspired by the poetry class I took last fall. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it makes me laugh.

Poetry Class

The
Shape
Of the poem
Matters, he informs
The room. Each word chosen
Carefully. Each punctuation mark
A window into the very soul of poetry
Itself. There are no accidents in an effectively
Affective piece of writing. Blood, sweat and tears,
Caution and deliberation, reflection and cleverness are
The currency of poets. Which makes me think I could be a poet          i will eat you!
Maybe. Because if I know about anything, I know this:
Taking myself far too seriously; Believing that it all
matters; Over-thinking commas and semi-
colons (particularly the semi-colons);
Feeling all the feels; Words. I love
Words so deeply I use them
Recklessly, carelessly,
Wantonly. I’m a
Harlot,
Full.

Image credit – Steve Johnson on Flickr

Dabbling in Extra-Curricular Activities

I am good at starting things. In fact, I love starting things. I have always been what you would call a joiner. When I’m in class now I’m always the first person to raise my hand. I volunteer. I say yes often.

I am also good at keeping things going. Once I’ve said yes to something, I stick with it. My 24th dating anniversary with my husband is coming up in less than a month. On that fateful day in 1991 when we became a couple I was a few days shy of my 15th birthday. We have never broken up. I would have driven my old Honda Civic for another 15 years if it hadn’t been totalled.

What I am not good at is endings. I hate endings. I rarely quit things, even when I probably should. In my ideal world, everything would more or less stay the same forever. I like predictability. I do not like upheaval. I am willing to trade novelty for security.

fencing 10-year-oldAs a parent my natural inclination would be to pick an activity for each of my kids and have them stick with it. Unfortunately, my children have other ideas. My ten-year-old daughter has tried ballet, Irish dancing, tap dancing, musical theatre, art classes, gymnastics, fencing, soccer and carpentry. She also does swimming, which is non-negotiable, because it’s a necessary life skill. My six-year-old son has tried music, basketball, soccer and baseball. So far, nothing has stuck. They enjoy their activities, but when they’re over they want to try something new.

When I was writing for VancouverMom.ca I had a badminton lesson with Olympian Anna Rice. I also had the opportunity to interview her for an article. She shared how she had started playing badminton as an eight-year-old. My own daughter was eight at the time and of course I started imagining that my Hannah would discover a sport she loved so much it took her to the Olympics. So far, no luck.

On the upside, the fact that my kids are dabblers makes my life easier. They have fun, and we have free time because we’re not driving hither and yon for training sessions and tournaments. Our weekends are our own. I don’t have any fears that they’re missing out on childhood because they’re spending so much time on one particular activity. Balance is good, or so they say.

On the other hand, I would like my children to give everything they try a fair shake. I would also like for them to find something they’re really passionate about. So we don’t let them quit activities they’ve signed up for. I’ve found that sometimes an activity that they despised on lesson three suddenly becomes fun for them on lesson six. Persistence pays off, and even if you’re not destined for soccer or badminton glory, you can still learn a lot by giving them a go.

And so, I vacillate between wanting to give my children the freedom to explore, and wanting them to find something they truly excel at. I struggle with my own desire for them to never, ever quit, and work to identify when to push them to go on and when to cut our losses. I don’t think there is any sure-fire recipe for success. I wish there were, though. Sometimes having to figure things out for myself at every single step of this parenting journey wears a little thin. You know?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...