Thursday March 31st, 2011

The exercise:

Today we're writing: in the forest.

Beautiful spring day today - I actually was working outside in shorts and a t-shirt. I've waited a long time for that.

Took Kat over to Keremeos to try out a Thai restaurant we had driven by on the way to and from Vancouver many, many times. Really good food, I'm happy to report. Really good birthday, I'm even happier to report.


"It smells like that cleaner mom always used when we were growing up," Mike observed, staring around the clearing with his hands on his hips.

"You mean that pine-scented stuff?" his brother James asked. He kicked at the pile of dead pine needles at his feet and frowned.

"Yeah, that one. I hated that stuff. She'd get some on my backpack and then the kids at school would make fun of me for weeks."

"No wonder you don't like coming out here."

"Yeah, well, if your stupid kid hadn't wandered off on us, I wouldn't be."

"Hey, he's not stupid," James snapped. "He probably thought he smelled his grandma and came looking for her."

Wednesday March 30th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we meet: the new neighbours.

Went up to Penticton today to run some errands - which included sitting in a bank for far too long. Oh well, tomorrow is guaranteed to be better.

Because it's Kat's birthday.


After spending the winter months somewhere warmer than here, our neighbours across the street have returned. They're pretty ideal, to be honest. They never complain, they don't make much noise, and all four of them are nice to look at.

Here are some pictures to prove it:

Kat tells me they're racehorses. I say it's only a matter of time before I make up ridiculous names for all of them.

Tuesday March 29th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: the mailman.

Our wedding video arrived in the mail today. Kat and I watched it after dinner and... yeah, pretty amazing. We were fortunate to have such a wonderful day with friends and family.


It's raining again
and all the dogs are hungry.
Time to earn my pay.

*     *     *

I read the letters
before I deliver them.
Just call me Blackmail.

Monday March 28th, 2011

The exercise:

Your word of the day is: snap.

We finally received a healthy dose of spring sunshine today, so we spent most of it working outside. This is more like it.


With a snap of my fingers
Those who once lingered
Burst into hurried motions.
A silent commotion
Surrounds and envelops me
As they bring my tea.

The sparkling steaming cup
Is slowly lifted up
To my slightly parted lips
By good old faithful Chip -
Who sadly will not grow old,
For my tea is cold.

Sunday March 27th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's write about: the president.

Of whatever.

More yard work, more pruning, some brief moments of sunshine. Not a bad Sunday.


"I'd like to call this meeting to order," the man announced, banging his spoon on the dinner table.

"You can't do this," the woman sitting across the table told him, crossing her arms across her chest.

"You will be silent or you will be sent to the holding cells!"

"You mean the cardboard boxes in the basement that the washer and dryer came in?"

"Do not address your president in such a manner! It will not end well for you, I promise!"

"Dad," the boy to his right said with a shake of his head, "just because you declare yourself the President of This House doesn't make it true."

"Yes, it does!"

"I'm going to bed."

Saturday March 26th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: our planet.

We celebrated Earth Hour tonight by turning off all the power and lighting a bunch of candles. It was very peaceful and I think we'll have to do that more than once a year.

Earlier in the day, we attended a waterwise gardening workshop and got all sorts of good ideas for our yard. And Kat won a young little pine tree as one of the door prizes! Now we just have to figure out where we want to plant it.


Billions of souls share this home:
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers.
Yet after all of these years,
We still don't understand each other.

Friday March 25th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the astronaut.

We made some good progress on the yard today. I was also quite excited to see some signs of life in the lilac bushes at the edge of the road. Spring is indeed here, despite the lack of sun.


Will had wanted to be an astronaut ever since the first grade. The other kids would change their dream professions when they grew up on a daily - if not hourly - basis. Will never wavered.

But now, as he looks around the six by ten room in which he'll be spending the next four months, with two other men, with the vastness of outer space pushing against the walls, he must be wondering whether or not he had ever properly understood what being an astronaut really entailed.

Thursday March 24th, 2011

The exercise:

Tell me a story that has something to do with: a bridge.

I needed a rest after yesterday's physical work, so today turned into paperwork day. I filled out our application form for the Penticton farmers market and worked on our farm blog. Hopefully I'll be able to get that to the point that we can include it on the business cards we're planning on creating.

Exciting times... if only the weather would cooperate by giving us a little more sun.


Beneath the only bridge in town
Lives Craig, the homicidal hobo clown.
He de-legs donkeys just for fun,
Then tests out his jokes on them when he's done.
Certainly it's a heinous crime,
But his routine kills them every time.

Author's note: Sorry. I have no idea where that came from.

Wednesday March 23rd, 2011

The exercise:

Today we're writing about: the brothers.

I spent part of this afternoon hauling old fence posts out of the way of our slowly developing backyard. There were two piles of them, but I hadn't noticed before I started that one pile had thicker posts than the other. They were... significantly heavier than the thinner ones.

Ah well, it was a good workout.


Alexa watched through the kitchen window as her two boys played in the backyard. The setting sun was still lighting the clouds high above them, but the trees lining their property were marching their shadows towards her little men. She'd have to call them inside to get ready for bed soon.

Wiping the dish soap off her hands with a tea towel, she poured herself a glass of iced tea and moved to the back door. Just as she was reaching for the knob, the phone in the living room began ringing. Alexa hesitated but, after a glance at her boys, she hurried to answer the call.

The moment she was out of sight a man emerged from the shadows of the trees and walked quickly to the brothers, a cell phone pressed to his ear. They didn't notice his approach; they were too engrossed in the battle their action figures were acting out in the grass.

"Hello," the man said, both into the phone and to the boys. "Do you want to play with Daddy?"

The brothers squealed in delight and wrapped themselves around his legs. With great difficulty, he turned and began walking them back to the darkened side of the yard. They were speaking over each other, anxious to know where he had been and why he hadn't visited in so long.

"Oh, don't you worry," the man replied, the phone still at his lips. "I'm going to make up for all that lost time."

Tuesday March 22nd, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: money.

Ran some errands in the morning, did some pruning in the afternoon, and chilled out in the evening. Not a bad day at all.


My wallet is poor,
not a penny to its name.
Stupid impulses.

*     *     *

My soul-stained paycheck
pulls my spirits to the ground -
nothing's ever free.

Monday March 21st, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the accountant.

Kat and I are taking our tax information to an accountant tomorrow, as I'm finding all the farm stuff rather confusing. Hopefully I can learn a thing or two this year and then I can take care of it from here on out.


Brown pants strangle skinny legs.
White short sleeve button-up shirt
Fails to contain bony arms.
Up top: hair the shade of dirt.

I want to turn to my wife,
Say: Let's find someone else, hun.
But that's not really a choice,
Now that he's produced his gun.

Sunday March 20th, 2011

The exercise:

Write something that in some way or another relates to dreaming.

We basically finished the cold frame today - just need a couple more handles and some latches and we're done. Afterward Kat's dad gave me a quick lesson on how to prune plum trees so that I can work on that this week while he's working.

It must be the first day of spring or something.


I pace within my cage, my teeth bared and both hands balled into fists. Fingernails bite into my fleshy palms, causing blood to squeeze between fingers and free fall to the dirt floor. I am silent, my cracked lips pressed firmly together, though my throat still burns from my last outburst.

The guards are just out of sight; I can hear them playing cards down the hall to my right. Their cheap cigarettes are poisoning my air while their various alcohols are making me thirsty. But I will be patient. Just a little while longer, that's all.

The minutes pass like ghosts in the night - unseen, unheard, like they were never here. I can hear the guards growing steadily drunker, their words increasingly aggressive, their laughter loud and abrasive. Any moment now.

"Hey... hey!" I recognize Hector's voice rising above the others. "Whaddya say we go pay Mariano a visit? Teach him a lesson for making such a fuss about his dinner, hey?"

The others agree, of course. I smile and retreat to the shadows. I have been dreaming of this moment for weeks. Dropping to a crouch, I paw the dirt until I find the sliver of glass I had left there. I know my chances are somewhere between slim and non-existent, but that doesn't matter. I will take at least one of them with me.

And I will finally be free.

Saturday March 19th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: mirrors.

This morning was grey and dreary, but then the sun arrived in the afternoon and it was beautiful. 

Kat's dad and I spent part of the day building a cold frame next to the greenhouse so that we'll have more room for our early starters. I think it's safe to say we enjoyed working in sunshine a whole lot more than under the gloomy gaze of grey clouds.

Also: it was very hard for me not to say something after the prompt like, 'I must be in a reflective mood today'.
So hard, apparently, that I had to say it anyway. I apologize.


Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who in the land is fairest of all?
Now, be sure to answer true,
Or I'll take this hammer and smash you.

Friday March 18th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose that take place at: the movie theater.

Dinner was excellent. Good food, good times, good wine. Maybe a little too much of that last one.


"How was the movie?"

"Super predictable, as always."

"Why do you even bother going?"

"I can always find someone that doesn't know I'm psychic to bet on the ending with - easy money."

Thursday March 17th, 2011

The exercise:

Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Here, have some good music.

Now write about: the leprechaun.

We're having our farmer market friends over for dinner tomorrow night and we're very much looking forward to hanging out with them again. Hopefully we'll get some more blue skies and sunshine tomorrow, but that's not what they're calling for.

But what do they know, right?


He's a nice little fellow,
Though his teeth are quite yellow.
He'll never ever grow old;
Tired of hiding his gold?
Yeah, just a wee bloody bit -
So don't ask, or you'll get hit.

Oh great, he's drinking again -
No stopping 'til who knows when.
So let's just slip out the back
Before he starts his attack
On the banks and all that -
Here, I'll let you wear his hat.

Wednesday March 16th, 2011

The exercise:

Write the final few paragraphs of a story.

I suspect you lot are about to make me want to know the rest of the story, but that's my own fault, isn't it. Ah well.

Speaking of you fine peoples, it was good to see so many of you sharing your take on yesterday's prompt. I fully understand and appreciate that life gets in the way of commenting on blogs, but it still made me happy.


We stood on the peak of Miller's Hill and watched smoke rise from the wreckage of our childhood home. Sarah shed a few tears and I suppose I did as well, but you'll not hear me admit that to a damned soul. So keep that between us, all right?

I know we both should have just been happy to still be breathing. And to be glad that he was dead. But there had been so memories tied up and tucked away in the corners of that house. Happier ones than those that had been created in the last terror-filled week.

After a few minutes had passed in silence, we turned away and began to walk. Sarah limped heavily and I supported her as best I could, though I was already certain my left arm was broken in two places.

But we were alive, and that was more than what could be said about dad.

Tuesday March 15th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: silence.

My second one is holding on to the prompt by a rather tenuous thread, it seems to me. But it's what came to mind, so I stand by it.

Had a new story idea pop into my head today while I was reading. I think I'll just jot down the basic idea so that I don't get distracted, yet again, from other writing work I want to get done.


Sometimes it's golden
but it seems when you're around
I only see red.

*     *     *

Is it loneliness
or solitude? It depends
on what I'm drinking.

Monday March 14th, 2011

The exercise:

Let us write about: the spy.

It is windy and rainy here and I don't care for it. I like that it is reasonably warm again though. But I could do with more sun and less wind. I'm picky like that.


"Do you have the documents?"

"Of course... but we suffered heavy losses in order to retrieve them."

"I am paying you for the information, not to bore me with your problems. Hand it over."

"Fine, take it. But answer me one question and then we shall never speak again."

"What is it? And make it quick, I am a busy man."

"What I brought you, it will surely get Coco disqualified. Why her? Why not one of the others?"

"Because she is our only competition. With her sitting on the sidelines, my precious Pippin is guaranteed to win her Best of Breed category at the Westminster Dog Show."

Sunday March 13th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the arrest.

Kat and I have been watching Arrested Development on Netflix the last few nights. It is good stuff.

Did some more planting in the greenhouse today. It was nice to do garden work while it was raining and not get wet. I hope to be able to do garden work while it is not raining at all some time soon.


They came in the night while we were sound asleep in our bed. I'm a very light sleeper but I didn't wake until they were shining flashlights in our faces and screaming words my drowsy brain couldn't process.

He didn't resist, he just did as they told him to. He kissed me on the cheek before getting out from under the covers, very slowly, always keeping his hands where they could see them. I think it would have been a different story if he thought he could get to the gun under his pillow before they emptied their guns into him.

They escorted him out of our room, leaving me where they'd found me. I wasn't sure if it was some terrible dream or if I was bearing witness to an even more terrifying reality. It took me a long time before I was able to get up and move to the phone.

It wasn't until I reached for the receiver that I realized they had never identified themselves.

Saturday March 12th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the bookstore.

The clocks around here are going forward by an hour tonight. Normally I despise this, but this year I don't have to get up an hour early to go to work or school on Monday, so it's not so bad.

Kat and I went up to Kelowna today to do some shopping and check out their winter farmers market. We picked up some yummy bread and cheese, as well as some local beef and lamb. We're eating well this week. As usual.


He searches the shelves,
Not caring about cost;
He won't stop looking,
Though he must know it's lost.

Friday March 11th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: disaster.

Sending positive vibes to those dealing with the effects of the earthquake and tsunami.


"I wouldn't say the dinner was a total disaster..."

"Oh really? What, exactly, would need to have happened in order to qualify for that label?"

"Well, for example, let's say the dog had been an ingredient in the cake, instead of just eating it..."

Thursday March 10th, 2011

The exercise:

I think it's time to make use of the random book prompt again.

So grab a book from your collection and use its first line as your own (giving credit, obviously). Then take that one line and go wherever it leads your imagination.

I've been working my way through the booklist at the back of Stephen King's On Writing and so far it's been one very good book, one book I couldn't really get into (though there were some very good parts), and I've got two more due in at the library this week.

I'm taking my first line from the very good book.


From: The Gold Coast - Nelson DeMille

I first met Frank Bellarosa on a sunny Saturday in April at Hick's Nursery, an establishment that has catered to the local gentry for over a hundred years. My mother was dragging me from one side of the place to the other, reeling off the Latin names of every plant she laid her eyes on. When her cart bumped into Frank's mother's cart as she rounded a blind corner, it sounded like she was in the middle of doing the same to him.

While my mother apologized - without ever saying she was sorry, of course - Frank and I eyed each other silently. I noticed he wasn't holding his mother's hand and immediately let go of mine. Thankfully my mother was too busy with her business to notice or she would have scolded me up one side and down the other.

From the snippets of the conversation I caught, I gathered they were new in town. His mother sounded pretty pleased to have found another woman with a young boy and my mother was in a kind enough mood to humor her. She must have been still pleased to have found those calla lilies at the back of the store.

They parted after exchanging cards, promising to get together later that week, and I have to admit that I was excited by the thought of making a new friend. I looked back as we went our separate ways, hoping to give Frank a secret wave.

But Frank beat me to it. Only, his wave was more of a one-fingered salute.

Wednesday March 9th, 2011

The exercise:

Let us write about: static.

Definitely feeling better again today. Still not fully clear of the cold, but I'm damned close.

As far as my take goes, if you're not familiar with Henri feel free to click on the label at the bottom of this post to see more of his story. He's one of only a handful of recurring characters for me on the blog, but I've grown very fond of him.


Julie's phone rang five times before she answered it, just before the answering machine would have picked it up. She held it a safe distance from her ear and grabbed a couple of pieces of notepaper with her free hand.

"Good afternoon," she began, knowing full well that her official greeting would be cut off. She was not disappointed.

"Julie, what were you bloody thinking?"

"Henri! So good to hear from you." It was difficult to keep the smile from her lips, but she managed. She knew he'd be able to detect it in her voice. "Could you speak up? It sounds like you're standing in the middle of a monsoon."

"That's because I am!" Henri yelled. "Because you booked an outdoor meeting in the middle of nowhere during monsoon season!"

"Did I? I'm so sorry," Julie said as she began to crinkle the paper. "You should probably take your taxi back to the hotel then."

"The driver already took off and I don't have his phone number - you never gave it to me."

"Oh dear! That is... unfortunate... he... back... right?" Julie said, leaving out more and more words as she brought the crinkled paper closer to the receiver.

"What? What's that noise?"

"... sorry... breaking up... call back... later..."

"Julie, don't you dare hang up that phone!"

"... connection... static..."

Julie returned the phone to its cradle, finally allowing the smile to arrive in full force. She knew there would be hell to pay, but he really had it coming after the map incident.

Tuesday March 8th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: fear.

Feeling another bit better today. Fingers crossed that the end is in sight.


It's irrational,
I know without any doubt...
but still I fear it.

*     *     *

Underneath my bed
a foul monster is lurking:
my dirty gym socks.

Monday March 7th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we shall write about: the firefighter.

Feeling slightly better today. The sunshine and warmer days are helping.


Tony sat staring out the nearest window, not really listening to his companions as they chatted about everything and nothing. He was feeling restless. Bored, if he was being honest.

It's not that he wanted someone's house or car to catch fire. He wasn't that far gone. Besides, these things happened whether he hoped for them or not.

But he was getting really, really tired of playing cards with the rest of the crew. And hearing the same stories over and over again.

He wanted some action.

When the phone call came through ten minutes later, the relief was immense and immediate. The feeling lasted until he was told that it was his own home that was engulfed in flames.

Sunday March 6th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: the carpenter.

We got some more seeds planted in the greenhouse today, but otherwise it was another day of resting because I'm still not totally healthy yet. Getting a bit frustrated about that.


He examines the wood,
Measuring tape holstered
And saw at the ready.
A few quick pencil marks,
Then he begins to work,
His breath and hands steady.

He sets it in its place
With his hammer and nails,
His focus never roams.
With a smile on his lips,
He works from dawn to dusk,
Building his town's homes.

Saturday March 5th, 2011

The exercise:

Welcome to the 1,000th day in a row of Daily Writing Practice!

As mentioned yesterday, we're skipping the usual Saturday four line poem day this week in order to celebrate, for lack of a better word. So what are we doing instead?

We're going to write a 1,000 word story - 100 words at a time. I'll start off with the first 100, then you guys carry on from there. You're welcome to add more than once, just not consecutively. I'm planning on dropping by later in the day to add another 100 words.

If we actually get up to 900 words, the person that writes the final 100 has to find a way to bring the story to some sort of conclusion. And if we do manage to get a 1,000 word story finished... well, why not start another one?

So. 100 words each. Even if that means stopping in the middle of a sentence!

Let's get started and we'll see how it goes.


The man stood on trembling legs, a hand against the mast holding him upright as wave after wave smashed into the side of the ship. His shirt was torn in several places, darkened by the blood seeping from his wounds. His breath came in ragged, painful spurts.

The hand not supporting his weight held a sword, its wickedly curving blade shining dully in the moonlight. A particularly large and hungry wave reached over the railings and threatened to sweep his legs out from under him. But he held on, his eyes fixed on the hatch.

They would be coming soon.

Friday March 4th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the ninth.

The ninth what? Whatever you want. It is, after all, the 999th day in a row of writing here at Daily Writing Practice. Which makes tomorrow the 1,000th. And I've finally decided what we're doing to mark the milestone.

All you get is a heads up that the prompt should be up a bit earlier than usual. And that we'll be taking a week off from four line poems.


It was like he didn't even exist. His name had been erased from all the books, the first seven didn't dare speak his name. All because of what he'd done to the eighth.

Well, now that Homicidal dwarf was on the loose again, all of that was about to change.

Thursday March 3rd, 2011

The exercise:

Our topic for today is: the restaurant.

I'm still recovering from this stupid cold... but I can't really complain, since Kat is too and she's had it for way longer than me. Which... is not very encouraging.


The menu is illegible,
The waiters are deaf;
And please don't get me started
On that bloody chef.

The other customers are boorish,
The special is mouse;
I can get better food
Without leaving the house.

Is that the bathroom I smell,
Or that man over there?
At least now you can't say
I don't take you anywhere.

Wednesday March 2nd, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: originals.

The snow was gone by noon today - not that it was particularly warm or sunny, but it disappeared all the same, so I shan't complain.


"It's a copy," the man pointed out, sniffing daintily.

"Of course it is," I replied, giving him a hard look. "I'm not an idiot."

"The original is still kept under lock and key," he continued as though I hadn't spoken. "A man couldn't get within twenty feet of it without setting off a dozen alarms."

I didn't bother saying anything. Instead I studied the replica in my hands, turning it over and over, mesmerized by its beauty. Or perhaps I was just entranced by how much the real deal was worth and relished holding its twin. It wasn't the same, obviously, but it was a nice warm-up.

"Have you seen enough already?" he asked as I handed it back to him.

"Oh, no. Not at all." I smiled at his blank expression. Once his confusion looked like it was prepared to form itself into another question, I pulled out my gun and aimed right between his eyes. "So how about you take me to the original?"

Tuesday March 1st, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: beauty.

Welcome to March! Let's all ignore the fact that it's snowing outside at the moment, shall we?


An abandoned lot,
filled with angry, cracked concrete;
a lone tulip stands.

*     *     *

Too fat, too blemished,
too old to be beautiful -
so the TV says.