Friday April 30th, 2010

The exercise:

Your four line prose prompt this Friday shall be: a full moon.

Wow, it's the end of April already? Very exciting!

Still making steady progress with the healing thing. Only moderately stir crazy so far.


The moon is full, yellowed and lurking just above the horizon as though its weight is too much for the night sky to lift up. The air against my skin is still warm but cooling all too rapidly; I wish I'd thought to bring a jacket when I'd left the house this afternoon.

The grass in the meadow tickles my calves as I walk towards the tree line, my hands buried in the pockets of my shorts, the fingers of my right hand toying with the object I'd found on the porch this morning.

I don't know what I'm going to say when I reach Miguel's house, but I do know I'm not leaving until all my questions are answered.

Thursday April 29th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: so we meet again.

The Canucks made it through to the second round of the NHL playoffs and now they're set to meet Chicago, the team that knocked them out last year.

In other news: remember that Badass of the Week site I mentioned on Tuesday? I went back to read another article yesterday and came across this.

Let me sum it up for you if you don't have time to read it all: Leonid Rogozov. Surgeon. Went to Antarctica as part of an expedition. Developed severe appendicitis while there. Had no way to get out. Performed an appendectomy. On himself. Successfully.

Holy. Hell.


I thought I'd left you
In the dusty lanes of memory.
Freed from your burden
I searched for joy but found misery,
Unaware that my
Pain was really lurking within me.

Now we're here again,
Neither of us know where we're going.
We are trying but
These healing words are just not flowing,
And all I can think
To say is that your age is showing.

Wednesday April 28th, 2010

The exercise:

I think it's time for another musical linkstravaganza. But I'm looking for your help this time around.

I've been working on a playlist for our wedding reception and require your recommendations to help fill it out a bit. So: give me some songs that you can picture yourself dancing to outdoors on a hot summer night. Please :)

See below for a sample of what I've come up with so far.


The first song after our official first dance will be Sweet Rose by Matt Costa (from the ridiculously great Songs We Sing CD that will be getting a lot of play that day). It is pretty much perfect for the occasion, so anything remotely like this would be great.

Another song that's definitely getting played is Girl by Beck (from his brilliant Guero CD). This just has that sunny, happy feeling I'm looking for. Despite the lyrics, somehow.

A song I discovered recently, thanks to Kat actually, is New Soul by Yael Naim (from her self-titled CD). What a treat this find was. I love the lyrics and the upbeat instrumentals that go with it.

Last up is Put It On Me by Ben Harper (from his Lifeline CD). Ben has been one of my favorite artists since I was introduced to his music while backpacking around New Zealand and this will be just one of a handful of his songs that will be helping to make July 31st extra special.

Now it's your turn.

Tuesday April 27th, 2010

The exercise:

Your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week: battle scars.

The pain seems to be a bit less today, so that's good. My mobility is still pretty laughable though.


Beneath the bandage
a scar is lurking. I hope
that it looks badass.

*     *     *

In my youth I left
my heart unprotected. Now
these scars keep me safe.

Random note: while checking to see if badass was one word or two, I came across this site, which I have decided is insanely awesome. So go check it out.

Monday April 26th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: pickup lines overheard in the hospital.

Because, hey, why not?

Day one at home is going pretty good. Getting some rest and reading a lot. Still incredibly awkward to do... anything. My current list of the worst things ever: coughing, laughing, sneezing, and getting out of bed.


As a surgeon, I'm very good with my hands.

* * *

That's not a stethoscope in my pocket.

* * *

So... your gurney or mine?

* * *

Come over to my room later and we'll have mashed guck, mystery meat, and apple juice by candlelight.

Sunday April 25th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: in the hospital again.


Alright, here's the full story of my Saturday, as promised earlier.

I woke up before my alarm, which is not a common occurrence... ever. I was in a fairly significant amount of pain in my abdomen but I really thought it was just gas or something. I went to the bathroom, felt slightly better, and went back to bed.

The pain returned full force not much later and I began to think that maybe I got food poisoning from the fish we had for dinner Friday night. I tried having a bit to eat for breakfast and felt immediately nauseous but nothing wanted to come up. After a few more rounds of this Kat convinced me to go to the walk-in clinic up the street.

"Sorry, we're not taking any more patients today. Come back Monday."

Er, awesome? Kat told the receptionist that I probably had food poisoning and she recommended that we go to the emergency room. I had no interest in going to emergency for that, so went back home and hoped the pain would leave me alone.

It, of course, did no such thing. At least it had the decency to not get any worse.

We went into emergency at Mount Saint Joseph hospital around 3:30. They checked me out, said it was likely appendicitis, and away we went. I had a CT scan which indicated it was likely my appendix but wasn't conclusive. But with all signs pointing in its direction that was good enough for me. I was not interested in being checked in and observed to see if it got any better.

I went into surgery around 8pm and I guess everything went pretty smoothly. I got to spend the night there, not far from where I spent four of my nights when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Being there brought back some pretty unpleasant memories, I'll say that much.

The surgeon came by to see me in the morning and, among other things, said that I had one of the longest appendix she'd ever seen. Rawr. You know it, baby.

Anyway, I got to go home before lunch and Kat has taken fantastic care of me ever since. I'll be missing at least two weeks of work but considering how little fun I've been having there recently I can't say I'm too bummed out about that.

I'm in a bit of pain at the moment but it's not too bad. Moving around is pretty awkward, so I'm trying not to do too much of that. I'm hoping to enjoy the rest as much as possible and maybe catch up on some reading while I'm at it.

So, there you go. My weekend in a nutshell. Not the best weekend ever, but certainly not the worst. Let the sleeping in begin!

Saturday April 24th, 2010

The exercise:

Your four lines of poetry this week shall be based around the word: blindsided.

Apologies for getting this up late, but I had a pretty damn good reason...


I'm sure it's just indigestion,
Of that there can be little doubt.
But let's get it checked anyway...
Your appendix has to come out.

More details in Sunday's post, when I get around to writing it.

Oh and I'm not counting this as a missed day, since I wrote this (in my head) last night. I just didn't have a way of posting it until today :)

Friday April 23rd, 2010

The exercise:

Kat and I watched The Grocer's Son tonight, so... that movie title is your topic for this week's four lines of prose.

This morning at work was pretty good. This afternoon was a different story. But now it's the weekend!

Also: the Canucks managed to win again tonight, so they're up 3 games to 2 in their best of 7 series with Los Angeles.


Matteo grew up helping his father with his store. Stocking shelves, answering the phone, even boying the register on occasion.

But he harbored a dream of something more, a life that was lived in a bigger spotlight.

His father suspected his boy's heart was elsewhere all along but nothing could have prepared him for the day Matteo announced he was leaving for the city to become a mime.

Thursday April 22nd, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: monster meeting.

Work was slightly better today. Plus it's beautiful out. And I get to go to ultimate practice tonight. So, yeah, better day in general.


It was meant to be a gathering
That would be remembered for all time.
More than simple evil blathering -
The greatest evolution of crime!

But the ogres got lost on the way,
For their map was often upside down.
The werewolves were distracted by prey
(They just can’t resist the taste of clowns).

The vampire clans said they’d make it,
But they were busy doing their hair.
The mummies were set to show their wit,
But no airline would accept their fare!

The only ones that made the meeting
Was the local graveyard’s zombie troupe.
But their presence was only fleeting,
Once they caught scent of a Mensa group.

Wednesday April 21st, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: all tied up.

Work this week has been spectacularly craptastic. I don't expect it to be much better tomorrow either. But hey, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised?


It is a rather disorienting sensation, opening your eyes upon waking and finding no discernible difference between the black of unconsciousness and the gloom of the waking world. The feeling is only exacerbated when you realize that you are not anywhere you have ever been before.

This understanding can be brought on by innumerable things. Perhaps the bed does not feel quite right, or you notice that the clock radio on your bedside table is not shedding its usual reddish glow, or there is silence where the rumble of traffic should be.

Or, if you happened to be as unfortunate as myself, it is the feeling of cold concrete against your cheek and the abrasive, tight clasp of rope around your wrists and ankles. This, I can assure you, was not the position I was in when I fell asleep.

My thoughts were remarkably clear and calm as I lay there in the darkness trying to remember my last waking hours. I did not feel sluggish or dazed, so drugs seemed an unlikely cause of my predicament. No pain radiated in my head, so no knockout blow either. It was delightfully confounding, the sort of puzzle I lived to solve.

Unfortunately, it seemed like my life would actually depend on my ability to unravel that mystery.

Yet again.

Tuesday April 20th, 2010

The exercise:

This late night edition of Two Haiku Tuesday is brought to you by: trains.


The views are brilliant
But the train's swaying motion
Leads me to sweet dreams

*     *     *

The train is sold out?
Like that's going to stop me -
I'll just ride up top.

Monday April 19th, 2010

The exercise:

Would you like a touch of randomness with your prompt today? Yes? Excellent. Here it is then: Ella's flower garden.

And here are some pictures that I took Sunday morning at Queen Elizabeth Park to help inspire you:


She would rise before the sun,
A smile dimpling her cheeks,
And she’d move about the house
Upon bunny-slippered feet.

The tea kettle on the stove
Whistled a familiar tune
While Ella prepared breakfast
And serenaded the moon.

Her mug of steaming green tea
Would join her in the garden,
Where she’d extract weeds with
A whispered, “Beg your pardon!”

The roses would turn her way,
Convinced her warmth was the sun,
While the daisies seemed to laugh
When her handiwork was done.

If rain should escape the clouds
Before Ella’s work was through,
She’d sit in the gazebo
And practice singing the blues.

But her heart wasn’t in it,
She knew the dark skies would pass;
So she’d survey her flowers
And think them nature’s stained glass.

Sunday April 18th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: uh oh.

Kat and I babysat her bridesmaid's eighteen month old son this afternoon and his very favorite thing to say are those two words. It's particularly hilarious when they're actually context appropriate - for example, directly after dropping a piece of food on the floor.


What's that red light for?
Why's everyone running for the door?
I'd totally go...
But the weatherman was calling for snow.

The walls have a glow...
Why is that - does anybody know?
What did you say, Joe?
The damned reactor is about to blow?

Uh oh.

Saturday April 17th, 2010

The exercise:

It's four line poem day once again. This time around your topic is: the volcano.

Score another one for Mother Nature.


They feel safe, it's been so long
Since I have woken;
But they've forgotten - I sleep
With one eye open.

Friday April 16th, 2010

The exercise:

The topic for your four lines of prose this week is: the best medicine.

Looking over how long my last couple of posts have been, I can tell I haven't been writing much stuff on Protagonize recently. I hope to rectify that this weekend.


Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for making time in your busy schedules to join us.

We here at Jester Laboratories have some very exciting news to share with you today. What you are about to see is the culmination of twenty years of lab testing, field research, divorces, great leaps forward, and soul destroying setbacks.

But we are all in agreement that it was worth every sleepless night to reach this moment when we are finally able to say: Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to present to you… Laughter in a BottleTM .

Thursday April 15th, 2010

The exercise:

It's that time again - today we're going to do some continuations. If this is your first time seeing this prompt, feel free to click on the tag at the bottom to see how previous attempts went. But the basic idea is carry on from where I left off, or where someone in the comments left off. And to have fun, obviously.

It's also that other time again - the Vancouver Canucks play their first game of this year's NHL playoffs tonight. I'll be hoping for a less disappointing result than last year's.


I’m sitting at a table in the darkest corner of this crowded pub, nursing a beer and a headache. The drink is as stale as the cigarette carcasses humping each other in the ashtray at my right elbow and the pounding in my head is synched up with the music blaring out of the speaker clinging to the wall behind me. I would have left two hours and fifteen minutes ago – exactly two hours, fifteen minutes and eight seconds after I walked through the door – but I’m waiting for someone.

And that someone has the kind of money that makes my current situation worth suffering through.

Two college kids, football players by the looks of them, are sitting at the table to my right debating the finer points of streaking and keg parties. I’ve already decided how they’re going to die, it’s just a matter of when. I’m in a foul enough mood that I won’t require the gun residing in the inside pocket of my brown leather jacket.

I pick up the pack of smokes that I had placed next to my drink and tap out another cancer stick. I jam it into the corner of my mouth and begin my usual search for my lighter - I swear the damned thing moves whenever I’m not looking.

But before I can find it a flame appears mere inches from my face. I take a moment to study the silver lighter with the initials IC engraved on its side and the finely manicured fingers holding it, before leaning forward to bring the tip of my cigarette to its fire. Once its lit I lean back, blow a stream of funereal smoke from my nostrils, and take in my newest client.

“Well,” I say with a slight tilt of my head, “it’s about damned time.”

Wednesday April 14th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt: at the construction site.

Sorry, they've been doing construction work near my office building for the last month. This prompt was pretty much inevitable.

Random aside: it's an absolutely gorgeous day here in Vancouver.


It had been a true labour of love. The family had pulled together to get the work done and neighbours had even pitched in to help when the weather was agreeable and their own chores had been completed. Almost every nail that had been hammered into place had been accompanied by a laugh or at least a smile. The wood boards that comprised the walls fairly hummed with a feeling of community and upbeat vibrations.

It was to be the family home for generations to come. Space was set aside in the yard for the grandchildren to romp and laze in, there was room for additions to be made on all four sides of the building so that the expanding family tree could be contained within it, and a garden large enough to feed a small community was created.

The father, with a wink and a nod at his friends, even pointed out the oak tree beneath which he’d like to be buried.

But then his oldest son went off to university and found a respectable job in the city. A year after that his lone daughter married a nice boy in California and relocated there permanently. When his youngest boy earned his pilot’s license he put on a brave face but understood the ramifications for the home and land he’d put so much of himself into.

The weeds outnumbered the vegetable plants the following summer. The paint on the outside of the house began to flake and was never touched up. The lawn returned slowly but surely to its wild roots.

When the father finally passed on the children returned home for a final time to lay him to rest. But not beneath the oak tree of his choice – the new owners of the property wouldn’t allow it.

Tuesday April 13th, 2010

The exercise:

Your Two Haiku Tuesday topic this week: mutiny.

Allow me, if you'd be so kind, to examine the last three days. On Sunday I went to the gym for the first time since I hurt my back in February. On Monday I biked to work for the first time since last fall sometime. This evening I took part in my first ultimate practice of the year.

In short: I expect my body to rise up in mutiny very, very shortly.


Take another step?
No, we'd rather not, thank you.
Signed, Your Worn Out Legs

*     *     *

The captain was thrown
overboard last night because
his snores woke the dead.

Monday April 12th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: back in the saddle.

I rode my bike to work today for the first time in... a long time.

My legs will tell you all about it tomorrow.


The blue has turned to grey,
So much dust has come this way.
The tires are as flat
As a run over ball cap.

But a quick wipe down here,
A bit of oil on the gears,
Some air pumped in the wheels,
And all those old wounds are healed.

We make the trip outside,
With but a small loss of pride,
And my smile starts to show
When the rubber meets the road.

The wheels turn with a creak,
My legs are feeling so weak,
But the sun is shining,
So I'm not really minding.

Sunday April 11th, 2010

The exercise:

Caption this picture:

I edited a story by Kat's eight year old cousin Ginny over Easter weekend and we hung out with her and her family this evening. I was caught completely off guard when Ginny gave me a thank you card with a lovely little note inside.

What's that got to do with the picture? On the cover of the card was a dog, with glasses on, sitting at a keyboard. I couldn't find it online, so the above had to do.


"If you don't get me that report by noon I will eat your shoes for lunch."

*   *   *

"You really expect me to believe that your owner ate your homework again?"

*   *   *

It's safe to say that Chuckles was not impressed that he'd lost his tenth straight game of Solitaire.

Saturday April 10th, 2010

The exercise:

Your four line poem topic this week: arrogance.

Inspired by Anderson "The Spider" Silva, who might just be the most cocky mixed martial artist in the world. Unfortunately he happens to be good enough to back it up (he just finished successfully defending his middleweight title for a UFC record sixth consecutive time).

Just for the record: I would not step into a locked cage with this man for all the money in the world.


What is this?
Has your pretty little mouth sprung a leak?
It must have!
For I did not give you permission to speak.

Friday April 9th, 2010

The exercise:

Your four lines of prose on this sunny Friday shall be about: grass stains.

I took the day off today and I'm glad I did. I think three day work weeks have a lot to be said for them.


"Bobby?" Her voice was the very definition of confused.

"Yes, Mama?"

"How on earth did you manage to get a grass stain on Lilly?" she asked, holding up the family's aging Maltese.

Thursday April 8th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: the Tiger Woods ad.

I had a great sleep last night so I'm feeling up to this one.


For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Nike has released their first Tiger Woods ad since it was revealed he is a cheating whore. Here it is:

The voice you hear belongs to Tiger’s deceased father – I’m not sure when or why the recording was originally made.

Apparently – and not surprisingly – it has stirred up a bit of controversy. Allow me to preface my thoughts on it by saying that:

a) I don’t give a crap about Tiger Woods.
b) I don’t give a crap about Nike.

I do, however, hold a bachelor’s degree in Marketing that’s been busy collecting dust for the last nine years, so the following thoughts are not being pulled completely out of my nether regions. Just mostly.

My thoughts on the spot can be summed up pretty succinctly: it does its job.

Do I like it? I haven’t decided yet. What do I think of the use of his dead father’s recorded message? It’s extremely effective but I’m not sure I like it.

But the main point I want to address is this: people are complaining that it has nothing to do with shoes. Well guess what? There is no way in hell it should be.

There is no way the first commercial after his personal life fell to pieces while the whole world watched could have been, “Hey I’m Tiger Woods for Nike. I use their shoes, clothing, and golf equipment and so should you!” There is no way the first commercial could have been standard footage of Tiger hitting golf balls on fairways and putting them into holes. Nike could not have in any way shape or form pretended that it was just business as usual.

Of course it’s not about the shoes. It couldn’t have been.

This is the beginning of the transition back to normal. I doubt the second commercial will have anything to do with shoes either. Probably not the third either. But each one is likely to move closer to that point. Nike made the choice to not drop their sponsorship agreement with Tiger, so now it’s their job to get their money’s worth out of his tainted, filthy star.

And you know what? It’s working. When was the last time they got this sort of attention? When was the last time Nike was being discussed in coffee shops, at water coolers, in lunchrooms? When this comes on TV you can bet that everyone in the room is paying attention.

Like I said, it’s doing its job. Whether that job should be done at all is another matter entirely.

Wednesday April 7th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: renovations.

I had a long day at work today, so that's all you're getting out of me.


It was supposed to be so simple. 

“We’ll just take out this wall and it’ll open the place right up!” The contractor had been so convincing in his charming confidence. How could we not trust him? 

Three destroyed walls, two floor removals and installations, three coats of paint, and one black eye later, I really wish we’d found a way.

Tuesday April 6th, 2010

The exercise:

It's Two Haiku Tuesday once again. This week your topic is: ode to joy.

There's a part of me that has always wanted to learn how to play piano. This weekend Kat decided to teach me on the piano in her parents home. The first thing she taught me? Yup, Ode to joy. The one handed version, anyway.

I can proudly say that I mastered those five notes and that it's only a matter of time before I'm playing to sold out concert halls.


Five piano keys,
Manipulated just so,
Take me far away.

*     *     *

Oh my dearest Joy,
No one can question that your
Pancakes are divine.

Monday April 5th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: in bloom. Feel free to combine that with today being the 666th day in a row of Daily Writing Practice if you see fit :)

The trip to Osoyoos was good. Filled with wedding talk, garden work, excellent food, and far too much rain. I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Oh, and here's a picture to go with my poem:


Spring sweeps through the orchard,
Her green dress trailing along the ground,
Blades of grass appearing in her wake. 

Her fingertips brush against the trees,
Drawing buds from their winter slumber,
To once more share their beauty with the world. 

The apricot trees are the first to respond,
White and red blossoms bursting forth,
Spilling their sweet scent onto the wind. 

Spring smiles sadly and continues on,
Knowing they will transform into fruit,
But only for her brother Summer’s eyes.

Sunday April 4th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today? Old country roads.

Kat and I will be returning to Vancouver tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have some pictures and stories to share.


The truck rumbles through the countryside, a dusty cloud trailing in its wake. It has been a long, hot summer and the fields on either side of the arrow straight road are as dry as the path that divides them. Johnny Cash is on the ancient, crumbling stereo singing Down There By The Train and the man behind the wheel knows enough to not make it a duet.

The driver's side window is rolled all the way down and a deeply tanned elbow is jutting out into the still, hot air. One hand rests casually at the top of the cracked leather steering wheel and keeps the truck in the middle of the road with an easy grace.

His eyes scan the fields, the road ahead, the distant hills. He is in no rush to reach his destination and so is content in enjoying the journey. It is not always this way, with no clock ticking incessantly in his mind, no hourglass spilling sand faster than the old V8 engine can propel him forward.

But then his eyes linger in the rear-view mirror for a few moments, even though there is nothing to see but dust and more dust. Perhaps he sees amongst the swirling particles the face of the woman he's left behind. Perhaps he sees the boy he once was but never will be again. Perhaps he sees his father's face for one final time.

Regardless of what he sees, he drives on.

Saturday April 3rd, 2010

The exercise:

Your four line poem topic this week: the garden.


To plant a garden
Sow your seedy treasure
Then pray for sun and rain
In equal measure.

Friday April 2nd, 2010

The exercise:

Your four lines of prose this week shall be about: back to the land.


The landscape has changed. There are fewer buildings and more wild bushes. The fences have crumbled to dust.

But when I close my eyes the old, familiar scents tell me that I've come home again.

Thursday April 1st, 2010

The exercise:

Let us celebrate April Fools' Day with: fooling around.

Er, not literally of course.

Kat and I are on the road as of noon today, so I'll see you when I get back. Try not to burn the blog down while I'm away.


He wears a jester's cap
And really likes to nap.
He'll cartwheel for a dime
And juggle for a lime.
He'll dance five jigs at once,
While you call him a dunce.
And when his day is through,
At home he'll laugh at you.