Thursday September 30th, 2010

The exercise:

On this final day of September (Wait, what? Seriously, already?), let us write about: the breakthrough.

Late last night, I think I finally figured out what I'm going to write about for this year's NaNoWriMo. This is a very good thing, as not having a story idea was beginning to occupy far too much of my brain. Now I just have to plot it out a bit and I'll be all set!

And here are some pictures of the Ambrosia apples I've been picking this week:


It will all be worth it
In the end.
All the broken beakers
And lost friends.

All of those sleepless nights
In the lab,
The junk food that ended
Up as flab.

Once my invention works
I'll be rich,
And my ugly girlfriend
I will ditch.

But I'll get back to work...
What's that smell?
Oh dear, oh dear, this will
Not end well.

Wednesday September 29th, 2010

The exercise:

Today we get to write about: the travel agent.

I ended up having to be my own travel agent yesterday when I booked our honeymoon flights. For some reason it actually ended up being cheaper to buy the tickets there and back separately, rather than as a round-trip. Whatever.

So yeah, we're going to Jamaica at the end of January/start of February for two weeks. I shall write more about this another time.


"Please have a seat, Agent Travel," the man in the black suit and sunglasses says, pointing to the chair on the opposite side of the patio table.

"Honestly Tom," I reply as I take my seat and pick up the menu in one motion, "we should be on a first name basis by now! Call me Time."

"But we've only just met."

"Er... right, of course. My mistake." I knew I should have grabbed a paper to check the date before I arrived. "You were saying?"

"We have a new assignment for you." Always we. Never the government. Never the president. Just plain old we. "A research scientist by the name of Jason Boyle is on the run with some very sensitive documents. We need them back."

Oh, crap. The Boyle Case. They'll be talking about this one for years to come.

"I see," I say, perusing the dessert selection to stall for time. "As it turns out, I'm quite familiar with Mr. Boyle." If only he knew. "Unfortunately, he is also aware of me - he'd see me coming a mile away. I'm just not the man for this job. I think that Agent Matthews, however, would be a most excellent fit."

Honestly, I do feel quite bad about sending Matthews to a certain death. But hey, better him than me, right?

Tuesday September 28th, 2010

The exercise:

Two haiku about: ratings.

I was told by Kat's parents that the apples we're picking are rated into three categories by the packinghouse they sell to. The ones they consider unsaleable are 'culls', the good ones are 'fancy', and the best are deemed 'extra fancy'.

I found this both hilarious and strange.


My mother's cooking
is rated tops by critics
inside my stomach.

*     *     *

And coming in last,
by a very large margin,
is: Chef Lee Prosy

Monday September 27th, 2010

The exercise:

Let's go with: lights out.

We helped pick apples this afternoon, since Kat's parents have a ridiculous amount to get through in the next couple of weeks. It was fun, and I'll be back out there tomorrow.


When I came back to the house to take care of the dishes late this afternoon, the power was out. Which was highly surprising, seeing as it was a warm, sunny day and the wind wasn't particularly strong.

Kat's dad came in to start making dinner about half an hour later and it was still out. He decided to make do with using the barbecue, even though what he'd planned on cooking was really meant for the stove top. So he lit the barbecue, came back inside... and the lights came back on.

He kind of shook his head, thought about using it anyway, but then went out and doused the flames.

About ten minutes later I was downstairs getting ready to take a shower. I'd wandered into the bathroom, only to spot a rather large spider crawling across the floor right in front of me. So I grabbed a tissue, looked back down and... the lights went out again.

"God. Damn. It."

I grabbed a flashlight, eventually found it again, and disposed of it. Then I took a shower in the mostly dark, while attempting to keep an eye out for more massive spiders, or any oversized insects for that matter. I'm pretty sure I heard Kat's dad go back outside and restart the barbecue at some point during all this.

Not long after I'd finished my shower the power came back on - this time for good, thankfully. I'd had quite enough of that, and I'm sure Kat's dad had as well. Plus, you know, posting this would have been rather impossible without any power.

Sunday September 26th, 2010

The exercise:

One month away from my birthday, the prompt shall be: publication.

I have to admit that a 26 degree day this late in the year is quite nice, thank you very much.


A book arrived in the mail this week that I've been anxiously awaiting for some time now. To the point that I had to take a picture of it shortly after opening the package:

Paddytum originally began on Protagonize, though it was taken down shortly after Tricia found someone willing to publish it (I assume this was very easy, seeing as any fool ought to have been jumping at the chance to publish something so brilliant). I'd told her on a couple of occasions that I felt guilty about reading her writing for free, so when I finally had a chance to pay for it I didn't hesitate.

I'm 100 pages in already, though the majority of that was the part of the story I'd already read on Protag. I'm going to attempt to slow down a bit, as I hate rushing through a book - I just get sad at the end that it's over so soon.

Anyway, I don't need to get anywhere near finished to recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Tricia is a fantastic writer and it gives me so much joy to own a book with her name on it. I'm sure many more will follow, and I plan to get them all.

Saturday September 25th, 2010

The exercise:

A four line poem about: bartering.

T'was a sunny but windy morning at the market. Here are the pictures I managed to take before the customers came:

Those would be our apples. Going closest to furthest away: Ambrosia, Aurora, and Spartan. Some of our beefsteak tomatoes snuck into the picture at the top right.

Our pumpkin, amidst our ornamental squash and watermelon. I have named him George. Kat doesn't know that yet.

And lastly, our peppers. We've got a couple red amongst the chocolate, and then up top are the green, purple, and hot peppers (Hungarian and Big Bomb).


A few watermelons for you -
Is that enough?
And we'll take your house -
I like this bartering stuff.

Friday September 24th, 2010

The exercise:

Four lines of prose that deal in some way or another with: pumpkins.

The farmers market is having a harvest moon festival tomorrow and we've been asked to decorate our stalls to celebrate the occasion. So we picked our first pumpkin this morning, a twenty-two pound beast, and we'll have a fall display going on at our stand.

Pictures tomorrow!


I guess it was my fault. But I bet you wouldn't have believed her either! I mean, really, what a load of utter nonsense.

Anyway, can you get pumpkin innards out of my dress or not?

Thursday September 23rd, 2010

The exercise:

The writing topic du jour: titan.

I'm quite certain Greg has no need of that link, but I included it for the rest of us since I had no idea there were that many definitions.

Dropped off another restaurant delivery this morning... and totally forgot to take a picture of the twelve pounds of peppers they ordered. It was a mix of chocolate, golden summer, purple, and green and it looked great. I suppose you'll just have to take my word for it.

Or maybe I'll remember to get a picture tomorrow when we're picking for this weekend's market?

Only time can tell.


Assassinate a Titan
Was all the note had to say;
I tucked it in my pocket
And contemplated my prey.

To slay a living mountain
Is surely no small feat,
But it can be managed...
If you're not afraid to cheat.

So I crafted a letter
To my dearest friend Cronus,
And politely suggested
That we convene to discuss

The matter of his passing,
To which he kindly agreed.
Now he's gone into hiding
And I've been paid for the deed.

I suppose we'll be caught one day,
But for now I'll enjoy
The pleasures this gold will buy...
Til Gaia sees through our ploy.

Wednesday September 22nd, 2010

The exercise:

Today we're writing about: walls.

This morning in the cabin four walls got cleaned (by yours truly) and one wall got its second coat of blue paint (by my lovely wife). And tonight I worked with Kat's dad to get the linoleum installed in the bathroom, which felt like a pretty big accomplishment.

Anyway. Walls. Go!


The wall that had surrounded my village for three generations was crumbling. We had become complacent after so many years of unchallenged security. Our hands were soft, our bellies fat, our swords rusty and dull. It was so decrepit, a child could have broken through our wall in a dozen or more places. 

If only we'd been so fortunate.

But we were not, nor did we deserve to be. No, the day the walls were breached there were no children amongst the invaders. Only savage men, dressed like animals and as relentless as a winter wind. We didn't stand a chance of winning that fight.

So I took my little brother and I ran. 

Now no walls protect us, but we are safer without them.

Tuesday September 21st, 2010

The exercise:

Two haiku about: models.

Kat needed a picture of herself for her bio on the yoga studio's webpage, so we got to play photographer/model in the garden and around the house earlier this afternoon. It was fun and we managed to get one that she liked - the very first one I took, of course :)


The miniature
train is racing toward the
tied down Barbie doll.

*     *     *

Smile for the camera
and try not to think about
the constant hunger.

Monday September 20th, 2010

The exercise:

Let's write about: the long wait.

That could apply to a couple things in my life right now, but the wait I was thinking of ended at dinner tonight. Last summer we were forced back to Vancouver before they turned, and this year they came ready much later than usual due to the colder than normal weather.

But at last, at last we got to try one tonight. And, unsurprisingly, our red peppers are frickin' sensational.


It sits empty,
Day after day;
Wind, rain, or shine,
It stays that way.

Maybe today
Will bring the end -
Haven't enough
Days passed, my friend?

But the postman
Carries no news,
So this long wait
Still continues.

Sunday September 19th, 2010

The exercise:

Today I'm going to give you a list of words and you have to use all of them in your poetry or prose. Here they are: floor, storm, cinnamon, intruder.

Did a bit more work on the cabin today - Kat put primer on all the walls of the second bedroom and I got the subfloor installed in the bathroom. The plumbing is basically done and the electricians need to come back and finish some things off, then we're basically left with stuff we can do ourselves - with a little help from a carpenter Kat's parents know.

Good times.


They sat huddled on the couch, sharing a blanket but no words. The storm that was thrashing against the windows had knocked the power out at least three hours ago and they'd been forced to light the cinnamon scented candles he'd given her last Christmas.

She despised the smell of cinnamon.

The kids were having a sleepover at a friend's house that night and were probably having a blast. He imagined them sitting on the floor, telling ghost stories by flashlight. She pictured their excited faces pressed up against the windows as they waited for the lightning to illuminate the sky again.

But there was no such fun to be had within their own home. Bitterness and apathy had left their indelible marks, like two masked intruders intent on stealing the love from their marriage.

And so the wind and rain raged on outside, while silence reigned within.

Saturday September 18th, 2010

The exercise:

A four line poem about: a child's toy.

Mine is based on something that happened this morning.

The rain came all morning at the market, but it didn't put too big a damper on our earnings. So that was relatively good. Could have done without feeling the coastal chill though.


I would like one sunflower please,
To make my daughter stop crying;
Actually you better make that two -
Now my son I need to appease.

Friday September 17th, 2010

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the compass.

The forecast for tomorrow is not that great, so business is likely to be down. But hey, they were calling for rain today and it was a lovely, hardly a cloud in the sky morning while we picked for the market.

If that's the kind of rain they're calling for tomorrow, sign me up.


"Are you sure we're heading north?"

"That's what the compass says."

"Then why are we heading towards the sun?"

"... maybe the compass had a bit too much to drink last night?"

Thursday September 16th, 2010

The exercise:

Let's write about: the plumber.

I know I'm a few days late to celebrate Mario's birthday, but our own mustachioed plumber arrived this afternoon to get to work on the cabin and I couldn't resist the prompt.


He's not too slow,
Doesn't cost much dough;
He's neat and clean,
And says what he means;
He stays on track,
Never shows his crack;
Hate asking more,
But the dinosaur
Has got to go.

Wednesday September 15th, 2010

The exercise:

Let's see what we can do with: the collector.

Kat taught her first yoga class in Osoyoos this morning - she was subbing for another teacher at the local studio. But next week she starts teaching yoga for kids and beginning in November she'll be teaching adults at least a couple times a week.

The winter chapter of our lives here is about to begin. But until then, we've got another restaurant order to pick/deliver tomorrow and a market on Saturday to prepare for.


John McKee's shop was located on a dusty street in a town too small for most maps to mention. He spent no money on advertising and the sign above his door was so faded that you needed a magnifying glass and a little luck to make it out.

But he never lacked for customers, for those who had need of him knew where to find him.

John stocked his shelves with oddities and rarities and all sorts of other-ties that he'd collected in the course of his biannual trips to the far flung reaches of the planet. A man could wander that store for days and not find a single thing he could name with any certainty.

But then, that sort of man wouldn't have even known John's place of business existed in the first place.

The authorities left him alone, for the most part. They looked the other way when he'd had a sudden influx of baby tigers; they ignored the ruckus of exotic birds that surely must have been endangered, they were so beautiful and strange; and they found themselves busy with paperwork the week he'd had working voodoo dolls in stock.

But they just had to do something the day the unicorn appeared.

Tuesday September 14th, 2010

The exercise:

Two Haiku Tuesday brings to you this week: aches and pains.

Just as my body is getting over/used to the strains of working in the garden, I go and find new muscles to hurt while renovating. Then once this stuff is done I'll go back to the gym and find some more. Then the garden shall beckon me again...

Never ending cycle.


It's merely a strain?
Are you certain? Have you checked
for a bullet hole?

*     *     *

These nicks and scratches
are clear signs of a childhood
that has been well spent.

Monday September 13th, 2010

The exercise:

Write a bit about: gravity.

It's a lovely, end of summer kind of day out. Makes for a good day of resting.


The halls of the hospital were full of patients with tight, worry worn faces and staff lacking sleep and time to deal with any of them. The clocks on the wall were unanimous in their declaration that it was much, much too late in the day for any sane human to be awake.

And yet, as Dr. Timothy Hathaway sat in his tightly packed office, he could undeniably hear laughter emanating from the room next door. Less than a minute passed before he could stand the distraction no more, lurching to his feet with a menacing growl.

"What is going on in here?" he demanded from the doorway, somehow managing to look at everyone in the room at once.

"Hey doc," the man in the green hospital gown replied with a cheerful wave. "We were just having a drink before I have to go in for my operation in the morning. Care to join us?"

"You're aware, I'm sure, that you shouldn't be drinking anything at all this close to a procedure, much less alcohol?"

"Lighten up, doc," one of the patient's inebriated friends said from from across the room where he was slumped against the wall. "We all know Barry here ain't gonna make it no matter how smashed he is when he goes into the operating room. What's the harm in enjoying our last hours together?"

"Is that... is that a joint you're smoking? I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave the grounds immediately."

"Only after Barry gets a hit," the man replied. "I figure if we can take him a bit higher, Death won't mind carrying him the rest of the way to heaven, ya know?"

"I think you people are not aware of the gra-"

"Doc," Barry cut in as he accepted the joint from his pal, "we know exactly what's going on. So why don't you go back to your work and leave us to have our fun. We'll try to keep it down, but honestly? This building could use a bit of life and laughter injected into its soul. I'll see you in a few hours for my final examination."

Dr. Hathaway could think of no appropriate reply, so instead he returned to his office, closed the door, and allowed his chair to catch his weight with a slight groan. As he studied the reports arrayed across his desk, his chin resting heavily on an upturned hand, he pretended not to notice gravity claiming the tears one by one from his tired eyes.

Sunday September 12th, 2010

The exercise:

Let's give this a whirl: cramped quarters.

Spent most of today crawling around the basement of the cabin installing insulation. And finding very dead mice. Which, for the record, I highly prefer when the alternative is very alive mice.

Tomorrow shall be our day off this week, since we wanted to take advantage of the availability of Kat's parents to help us today. A lot of cleaning of walls got done, as well as new locks installed on both of the doors on the main floor and the main hole from outside to the basement got plugged.

Next step: more cleaning. And then maybe we can get to painting!


Sailing life is not for me -
This ship is just too tiny!
The crew are all much too big,
And the captain is a prig
With no sense of direction
And a bladder infection.

My thoughts have no room to breathe,
All my meals I want to heave.
I can't take this any more,
My spirit just wants to soar!
It's hard to go full throttle
When your ship's in a bottle.

Saturday September 11th, 2010

The exercise:

A four line poem about: parking spots.

My final line popped into my head today and I had to include it, so now you get to suffer with this prompt because of it. You're welcome!

Market went better than expected this morning, since we didn't think there would be too many fruit-buying tourists. Apparently there's a jazz festival of some sort going on in Penticton this weekend, so that seemed to help.

It's hard to believe it's been nine years already. The memories of that day, and those that followed, are still very fresh in my memory.


You can say what you will,
Go on, I don't care!
It's plain for all to see:
That car was born there.

Friday September 10th, 2010

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: bargain hunting.

Today I bought enough plywood to use as subfloor for the entire cabin, as well as linoleum for the bathroom and kitchen. Oh, and picked and packed up for the market tomorrow morning.

Me tired now.


The store was set to open at exactly 8:01 A.M. for the sale of the century and I was ready for it. There was no way I wasn't going to get that flat screen TV I'd had my eye on for months - there were only two in stock, and at 50% off they were going to go quick.

But one of them was coming home with me, no matter what.

Sure, the lineup was already around the block when I arrived at six o'clock, but that wouldn't last long - not once those uncommitted slackers saw the dynamite I'd strapped to my chest.

Thursday September 9th, 2010

The exercise:

Let's have some fun with: the interview.

So there's a new Group over on Protagonize that I think has a lot of potential. It's called Protagonize Author Interviews and it's exactly what it sounds like - any Protagonize member can interview any other member and then post it in the Group. I think it's going to be a great way for us to get to know each better.

Jason, the fine fellow who came up with the concept, asked me to be one of the first interviewees and I was happy to oblige. You can find the results here, if you're interested in finding out a little bit more about me.


Dressed in his best,
Just like the rest,
He sits quite still
As his sweat spills.

He needs this job,
Or else he'll rob
A bank or two -
His rent is due.

They call his name
To play their game.
He plays his part,
Speaks from the heart.

But they want more,
Show him the door;
Oh he's not done -
He buys a gun.

Now he's in jail,
For his plot failed;
At least now he
Can live rent free.

Wednesday September 8th, 2010

The exercise:

The word of the day is: uncharted.

Because I heard it on the radio this morning and thought it would be a good prompt. Some days, that's just how it goes.


It's an amazing feeling, standing where no human has ever stood before. Not a whole lot of people can say something like that. Many say they do, but the truth is they're too scared. They need a leader to follow, a shepherd to guide the sheep along new paths.

That's me.

I'll return to them, the ink on my maps still drying, and then I shall show them this place. They'll probably build a statue in my honor in this very spot. Maybe name a street or two after me back in my hometown. This is going to make headlines all across -


What the...

"Yeah, you!" 

The man in the Hawaiian shirt is holding out a camera to me. My mind has gone blank. I don't understand. 

"Do you mind taking a picture of the wife and me?"

Tuesday September 7th, 2010

The exercise:

Two haiku about: weight.

We took the cabin garbage to the landfill today (the old toilet and sink, a lot of unusable wood, innumerable other bits and pieces) and I had a lot of fun. It's been years since I've been to the dump, so I think it was a bit of the kid in me coming out to play. Plus I think it's a very guy thing to do and that's rather satisfying in its own right.

Anyway, the connection to today's prompt: they weighed the truck when we arrived and again when we left and charged us based on how much we'd unloaded. So there you go.


His back is bent, not
with age but with the weight of
words left unspoken.

*     *     *

This diet you're on
is surely working! What's that?
Oh, you were pregnant...

Monday September 6th, 2010

The exercise:

Let us write about: the cabin in the woods.

We did some good cleaning work in the cabin today before heading into town to make a few purchases. We came home with a hot water tank, a toilet, a medicine cabinet, and some insulation. We also put in an order for a bathroom sink, which should be coming in next week.

I had a few firsts today, but I think the one that stands out the most is this one: for the first time in my life I both swept and vacuumed a bathtub.

I think that should give you a pretty good idea what we're up against.



There must have been a million of them gathered outside. By the sounds of it they were having the party of the bloody century and they'd all had too much to drink. Complete loss of speech volume control and all.

I'd gone to the cabin to escape the noises of the city: cars, people, skateboards, all of it. I was desperate for solitude. Peace. Quiet.

Instead I found myself in the middle of the forest surrounded by the deafening chirping of bloody crickets. And I couldn't sleep a bloody wink.

So at three o'clock in the morning I flopped out of bed, grabbed a couple of rusting hammers off the shelf next to the fireplace, and went hunting for the little bastards.

Sunday September 5th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: before and after.

I took some 'before' shots of the cabin today. Cleaning begins tomorrow, then hopefully the electricians will come this week and the plumber next week. I'll save the 'before' shots until I can also post the 'after' shots.

But, fear not! I still have pictures to share with you today! As mentioned previously, I wanted to show off the zoom on my camera. So first, we have the fully zoomed out picture:

This is the view we get every morning as we exit from the bottom floor on the way out to the garden. A row of monster sunflowers, the neighbour's vineyard, a slight glimpse of the lake. Not bad, really.

And here's the zoomed in as far as the camera will go shot:

That would be the cluster of sunflowers around the middle of the first picture. I've always wanted a camera with a good zoom on it... and I have to say it's as great as I expected it would be :)


Before she arrived, he was a confident, capable man. The sort of fellow everyone in a small town turns to when they needed something done quickly and done right. His laugh was honest and infectious, his eyes full of a vitality that never seemed to wane.

After she left, he was like a bombed out building: devoid of all the joy, love, and laughter that had once brimmed within. At first folk still turned to him for help, but that didn't last past a handful of letdowns and harsh refusals. He wasn't seen around town much, outside the odd visit to the grocery store and the much more regular appearances at the liquor store.

I heard she's got her sights set on me next. I'm not worried though; her charms won't work on me. I'm too strong, too sure of who I am. She can't take that away from me.

Not like she did with him.

Saturday September 4th, 2010

The exercise:

A four line jailhouse prayer poem.

We had a decent market this morning, though it wasn't as busy as we were expecting for the long weekend.

I've been zonked out on the couch for the last hour and a bit, so this should be entertaining. Apologies in advance if mine is complete crap. And for the rather random prompt.

Which took me another hour to think of, in between spacing out and... more spacing out.


Dear Lord, I don't want money,
Or a Caribbean honey;
Lord, if you're really up there...
Could you short out the electric chair?

Friday September 3rd, 2010

The exercise:

You've got four lines of prose. Tell me about a face.

The truck is all packed up to go to the market tomorrow morning (hurray for cooler nights which mean we don't need to stick the more fragile veggies in the cooler), so all we have to do when we wake up is eat breakfast, cut some sunflowers, toss 'em in the back of the truck, and we'll be on the road.

Here's hoping the last long weekend of the summer is a good one for us.


They say mine is a face that launched a thousand criminal investigations - after all, how could a man that looks like I do not be guilty of something?

So am I free because I'm an innocent man with an unfortunate visage, or because I'm very adept at hiding bodies? That's for me to know and you to find out... if you can.

Care to investigate?

Thursday September 2nd, 2010

The exercise:

Let us write about: the gladiator.

We had an electrician come by to check out the cabin in the orchard (aka our new home for the next few years) to assess what needed to be done and give us a quote on the damage. It turned out that not too much needs doing and the estimate wasn't nearly as bad as we were expecting.

So, all in all, it was a good visit. They'll be coming by next week to get things going and then the renovations will become our focus as the garden work begins to slow down. No real idea when we'll be able to move in there, but it's nice to get started.


The man stands ready in the hall,
Listening to the crowd chant his name;
Whether he or his foe greets death,
He knows to them it's all the same -
They are merely hungry for blood.

The gate is pulled open by slaves
Foolish enough to envy him;
He steps onto the crimson sands
And the crowd howls its fevered hymn,
Their souls as clean as stable mud.

He looks across the arena
To see the man he's meant to kill;
There is no fluttering of nerves,
For he has great faith in his skills -
He has done this ten times or more.

The two men meet in the middle
Of a world gone completely mad;
The challenge quickly overcome,
He walks away to cheers and clad
In the sad disguise of victor.

Wednesday September 1st, 2010

The exercise:

Include a rainbow (or two!) in your writing today.

Inspired by this picture of a double rainbow I took while standing on the porch on Monday during the rain shower:

Delivered this week's order to the restaurant this morning and managed to get the veggies safely inside right before a torrential downpour hit. I got soaked going back to the car, but at least the food avoided the worst of it.

Maybe tomorrow I'll stop talking about the rain. If you're lucky.


"What the hell is this?"

"What does it look like? It's me pot o' gold, just like you wanted! Can't you see this is the end of the rainbow?"

"Do I look like a bloody idiot?"

"Well, now that you mention it, you do look a wee daft..."

"No. Stop talking. Now listen to me, very carefully. This is what you're going to do: you're going to take me to your real, honest to goodness, pot of gold. Right. Now. And if you take me to another thimble full of leprechaun piss I will drown you in it."