Saturday April 30th, 2011

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the trap.

This morning in the backyard we finished building the four by sixteen box we're going to use for our vegetables, along with the three by eight box for our herbs. This afternoon we ran a couple of errands, which included picking up a truckload of soil for the boxes.

The truck could only carry enough to fill the vegetable box - any more and I think something would have exploded - but that was plenty enough for one day. The guy at the garden center had a front loader, so he filled the truck in like five minutes.

I had a shovel and a wheelbarrow, so getting it off the truck took over two hours. I am sore and tired now.


I meant to catch a mouse
With that tasty cheese.
Instead I caught my son -
He asked for more, please.

Friday April 29th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the machine.

Today was berry day. We used a rented rototiller to finish weeding around the strawberries in preparation for spreading wood shavings around them, we pruned and weeded around the raspberry bushes, and pruned the blackberry bushes.

Now they look domesticated again, instead of some wild bushes you might find on an abandoned lot. Tomorrow we spread the wood shavings... which I suspect will be a major pain. Hopefully the sun comes out to make things more enjoyable.


There were so many shiny buttons, and none of them were labelled. He resisted for as long as he could - which wasn't very long at all - before pushing the big blue button on the top. At least, he thought it was the top; he really had no way of knowing if he had the machine right side up or not.

But that was the last thing on his mind once the machine began speaking to him in his dead grandfather's voice.

Thursday April 28th, 2011

The exercise:

Write something from the perspective of: the killer.

So today, just a couple days away from the conclusion of one of the coldest Aprils on record for this area, it hailed. While I was out bringing in wood for our fireplace. Which we're still using, as it hasn't yet been warm enough overnight for us not to use it.


But hey, the Canucks won game one of their second round series tonight! So that helps.


They deserved it. Every last one of them. If they didn't, I wouldn't have done it, right?

What, do you think I'm some sort of maniac? Far from it, my friend. Far from it. I simply administer justice wherever others are too weak, too scared to do so. I'm a hero, really. Maybe they'll put up a statue of me after I'm gone.

Take Shelly, for example. The way she flaunted herself all over town, tempting poor, innocent boys to stray from the Good path. It almost worked on you, didn't it? But I took care of her just in time. Don't worry, you don't have to thank me.

What was that? Stop mumbling, please. I find it highly aggravating. Besides, if I wanted to hear your thoughts on the matter I wouldn't have stuffed that gag in your mouth.

Wednesday April 27th, 2011

The exercise:

Let us write about: the secret.

The wind didn't stop blowing today, and I was still feeling a little tired, so I took care of a few things around the house that I'd been putting off for far too long. So now we're a couple steps closer to being totally settled in.

The Canucks got the day off, but they're back in action tomorrow night. Still watching the game winning goal over and over. Still think it's awesome.


"Bobby, what do you have behind your back?"

"It's a secret."

"Is it, by any chance, Mama's car keys?"

"I'm not allowed to say."

"Oh, really? And who told you that?"

"Charlie. I think he doesn't want to go with you."

"Well you tell Charlie that I'm taking him to the vet for his shots in five minutes whether he wants to go or not. Now give Mama her keys back."

Tuesday April 26th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: success.

Because, miracle of miracles, the Canucks won tonight. They had to be all dramatic and do it in overtime, but they did it.

Now on to round two against Nashville.


After so much pain,
so many doubts and stumbles,
at long last: success.

*     *     *

Stand atop the peak,
look down at what you've conquered,
and savor the view.

Monday April 25th, 2011

The exercise:

I think we'll give the movie prompt another go today. So pick a movie from AFI's original top 100 movies list and use its title as your inspiration. Your writing should have as little to do with the actual movie as possible.

We got part of the fence up today, but ran into a few delays so we didn't finish. Plus we finally got started on the raised bed we want to setup behind our house for our own vegetables, so that took some time too.

Tomorrow is a day off. I am looking forward to it.


#54 - All Quiet on the Western Front

The sun sinks into a silent sea,
Leaving me to contemplate the night;
No song birds to keep me company -
Even the sand flies don't buzz or bite.

I can almost hear the stars above
As they manifest in the black sky.
Unbidden come thoughts of my lost love -
My ears prick, listening for her cry.

But they find no success in their hunt,
For it's all quiet on this western front.

Sunday April 24th, 2011

The exercise:

Today I think we'll go with: digging deep.

I spent most of today making fence post holes with Kat's dad, using a two-man auger that looked similar to this.

It didn't much care for any rocks in came in contact with, and it was rather awkward to move from hole to hole, but it got the job done. So now we've got posts all the way around the garden and tomorrow we'll be stringing the wire fencing between them.

So the Canucks just lost game six. At least they made it to overtime on this one. Their final chance in game seven comes on Tuesday night. I think I'll just stay away from the computer during the game and find out afterward what happened.


When the dig team unearthed the ancient collection of hand tools, excited whispers battled with dust particles for air space. It was the first sign in over a week that they had been working in the right place. Efforts were redoubled, break times were ignored.

When they discovered the box brimming with silver and gold coins later that evening, searchlights were brought into service for the first time and bed rolls were forgotten.

A few feet deeper they found a seven foot by three foot slab of metal covered with runes and phrases in an unknown language, and this only spurred them on again. Crowbars and wooden levers were brought to bear in the middle of the night. There were no thoughts of stopping.

It wasn't until the slab was lifted open and the demons came shrieking and howling out from beneath it that they realized they might have dug a little too deeply.

Saturday April 23rd, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the Easter Bunny.

Kat and I went up to Penticton last night with some friends to catch some live music. It was a really great show but it was a shame the place wasn't packed. Those acts deserved more ears.

So help me make up for that and check out some tunes by Christa Couture, e.s.l., and Cris Derksen.


My arms are tired,
There's an ache in my legs -
Thanks to the damned kids
Who keep stealing my eggs.

Friday April 22nd, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the fence.

We're in the process of putting up a fence around the garden in order to keep the vegetable-eating deer out. It was actually fun work today, but that might have had a lot to do with the absolutely gorgeous weather. I didn't want to come inside when we were done for the day.


His wife hated it. The kids thought it was awesome. The neighbours wisely kept their opinions to themselves whenever he was within earshot.

But there was one thing they could all agree on: everyone knew that when you reached the fence made out of human skulls, you had reached the Anderson's.

Thursday April 21st, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: the jinx.

So after winning the first three games of their best of seven series, the Canucks have lost the last two. Quite badly in both instances. If they manage to blow this I might have to stop following hockey altogether.


"Are you going to invite Gary to poker night again?" My wife was looking at me like I had already done something wrong.

"Of course," I replied. "It's tradition. I'm not about to break our streak at fifteen years and -"

"Twelve weeks," she finished for me. "No, of course not. Heaven forbid the precious streak come to an end. Then Gary might actually keep his entire paycheck for once."

"It's not my fault the man never wins a hand!"

"Obviously not." She paused to sip her gin and tonic, both of us knowing what was coming next. "But you know damn well that his ex-wife took all his luck with him when she walked out the door."

"That's superstitious nonsense. The man's not jinxed. He's just terrible at cards."

"Then how do you explain that spastic twitching that comes over him every time he has a high pair off the draw? Do you still want to pretend he did that before she left?"

I had to admit, she had a point. But the streak was important to all the guys.

And besides, I'd had my eye on a new TV for weeks, and Gary wouldn't mind helping me out with that, right?

Wednesday April 20th, 2011

The exercise:

Write a little something that has to do with: Ikea.

Yeah, you read that right.


One of the errands I took care of this weekend in Vancouver was picking up a bookcase from Ikea. We've badly needed one ever since we moved into our place, but had been unable to find one for a reasonable price that fit the space better than one we'd seen on the Ikea website.

At one point we were just going to have it delivered, but then I found out they wanted to charge us nearly $150 for the privilege. I know it's a big, heavy package, but come on!

Since we were making a trip to Vancouver in a few weeks anyway, we decided to save the money and just pick it up. I spent... far too large a portion of today putting it together.

I'm not sure it really needs to be said, but I'll say it anyway: Ikea manuals are created by people that hate everyone who is not them.

At various points during the construction, I observed that people in Sweden must have 'tiny baby hands', or that they simply 'make their babies do this'. I could think of no other explanation for how they might expect me to make my hands contort into the spaces the manual suggested.

Anyway. It's up now and it looks good. Tomorrow we shall fill it with books and things and then finally we might feel like we've finished moving in.

Seriously, though. Baby. Hands.

Tuesday April 19th, 2011

The exercise: 

Two haiku about: intelligence.

Back to work in the garden today, but tried to take it a little easy after a long day yesterday. Tonight we enjoyed our first taste of this year's veggies - steamed greens with dinner! Yum, we've been waiting a long time for that. 


"My intelligence
is secret, you can't see it."
I think he's just dumb. 

*     *     * 

My brain is sleeping -
the sign across my eyes reads:
Please do not disturb.

Monday April 18th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: the sanctuary.

Back home safe and sound. Still trying to warm the house up. This place gets so cold while we're away.

Quick update on yesterday's post: the Canucks ended up winning, so they've got the three games to none advantage. 


While the city is exciting and busy, it often leaves me feeling dizzy. At every corner I see people in a tizzy.

This is not what I need. Life there does not flow at my speed. Whoever agreed to this pace should apologize for their misdeed.

But I have broken free from that mad misery. I am back with the birds, bees, and trees. The peace and space and rhythms that soothe me.

I am back in my sanctuary.

Sunday April 17th, 2011

The exercise:

Let us write about: the penalty.

Getting some good writing work done today. Listening to game three of the Canucks first round series while I write this - they're up two games to none and the score is currently 2-2 in the second period. Lots of twos going on there.

Heading back to Osoyoos tomorrow morning. It'll be good to get back to farm work after this little break.


"Seems a little harsh, doesn't it?" the man asked from behind his beer. I wasn't sure if it was his fourth or fifth. "Punishment doesn't really fit the crime, seems to me."

"The judge has made his decision," I replied lifelessly. "He's done his job, now it's time for me to do mine."

"You don't seem particularly keen to get to it, seems to me." He paused to take another drink from his mug, giving me time to wonder if he was hoping to set a record for the most uses of the word 'seem' in one conversation. I glanced around the half-empty pub for a statistician but couldn't spot one. "Seems like maybe you're not interested in this particular job."

"You volunteering?" It was a joke but even I didn't laugh. "It doesn't matter what I think. I've got kids to feed and this is how I do that. So you'll have to excuse me - it's time for me to go to work."

I left the pub without looking back and headed for the gallows. Some days, it seemed to me at that moment, being an executioner was harder than others.

Saturday April 16th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the club.

Had a pretty quiet day, spent mostly hanging out with my best man. Played some video games, did some reading, yakked about nothing, and then drove him to the airport for his trip to Vegas. I've got his apartment to myself now, so I had to make vague promises about not burning it down.

I'm only here until Monday morning, so I think I'll make it.


Is that my heartbeat or this song?
Vision blurring, my thoughts all wrong.
Wanna go but have to stay here...
Just in case my dream girl appears.

Friday April 15th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the scales.

In honor of the scale I purchased today in Burnaby, for use at our stall at the farmers market. It was pricey, but not as bad as I suspected it was going to be. And thankfully it's already certified (a requirement of the market association) so I don't have to go through the hassle of arranging to have that done.

This is going up earlier than usual since people are coming over tonight and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get back on the computer before midnight.


The words on the investigative report began to blur and I put it aside to rub the palms of my hands against my eyes. I didn't bother looking at the clock on my bedside table - I already knew it was too late for my own good.

With a heavy sigh I returned to the report on my brother and pushed on. I had paid good money for that information but it would all be for naught if I couldn't find a bit of dirt that would finally tip the scales in my favor.

Thursday April 14th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: the quest.

Kat and I are in Vancouver for the weekend. She's doing a workshop and I'm running some errands and hanging out with friends. Good times so far. 


Scotty had made it sound so simple. Go into the forest, collect a few plants, and he'll pay me ten gold coins.

Well, if he'd mentioned the fire breathing dragonflies, I might have said forget it. But he didn't.

And if he'd said anything at all about the microscopic flesh eating lizards, I might have slugged him right in the face.

But he didn't. So here I am, with an empty bag, several chunks of flesh missing from my right calf, and no eyebrows.

Me and Scotty are going to have some words when I get back.

Wednesday April 13th, 2011

The exercise:

The Rolling Stones have sung many a song. Here's 195 of them. Pick one and write something based on it - not the lyrics, just the song title.

The Canucks got off to a good start tonight, winning the first game in their series by a score of two to nadda. Three more wins and Chicago is finally in their rearview.


The woman behind the desk didn't bother to write down any of the information I gave her. She just looked at my driver's license for a moment before handing it back, then did the same with my credit card. After staring off into space for a minute she grabbed a room key off the wall behind her without looking and slid it across to me.

Well, if she didn't want to bother with paperwork that was fine with me.

I carried my overnight bag along the narrow second floor balcony as the sun was swallowed by the horizon. I was too busy admiring the red and orange clouds to notice the strange names on the doors of the rooms I passed.

The woman had said mine was the last room, so that's where I stopped and put down my bag. As I fished around in my pocket for the key, I looked up to see which room I had been given.


I barely had time to wonder what sort of strange naming conventions the place had before the door was pulled open from the inside. Shaking my head to clear the cobwebs, I was about to apologize for disturbing the occupant.

But that was when I realized I was looking down at myself, aged seven.

"Seven and a half," I corrected myself before stepping aside and waving me into the room.

Tuesday April 12th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: rivals.

Because tomorrow night the Vancouver Canucks will begin this year's Stanley Cup playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks - the team that has knocked them out of the playoffs for the last two years.

I'm hoping the fact that the Canucks finished this regular season with the best record in the league will help them to find the confidence to come out with a different result this time around.


Everything you can
do, I can do better - so
don't even try, Mom.

*     *     *

Defeat's getting old.
This time has to be different.
Lord Stanley awaits.

Monday April 11th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: the errand.

The wind was blowing hard here pretty much all day, so it made outside work rather unpleasant. I still managed to get some pictures of the apricot blossoms. I like this one best:

Oh, and did some pruning, yard, and garden work too. Honest.


"It's okay, I don't need to bring the list," he'd said on his way out the door. "There's only three things on it. I can remember three things!"

No, apparently, he could not.

Standing in the condiment aisle in the grocery store, a jug of milk in one hand and a bag of apples in the other, James was stumped. What had been the last item on the list? Or was it the second? If only he could picture that scrap of paper, pinned to the fridge by the Mickey Mouse magnet.

"Bread?" he asked the unresponsive jar of crunchy peanut butter that was staring at him from its crowded shelf. "No, there's still three quarters of a loaf on the counter."

He could call and ask, but that would mean admitting defeat. He'd never hear the end of that. Worse, he'd never be allowed out of the house without a list stuffed in his back pocket.

"Tomatoes?" James scowled at the raspberry jam that seemed to be smirking at him. "Oh, what do you know anyway? You're just a stupid jar of jam."

Then, at long last, inspiration struck. He made his way to the checkout and placed his two items on the conveyor belt. While the teenager rang up his items, he grabbed a chocolate bar at random and slid it across to her.

"Just in case," he told her with a smile that only elicited a deepening of her bored expression.

He really should have brought the list.

Sunday April 10th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the disappearance.

Inspired by the mysterious disappearance of our pea seeds today. We think we've got it figured out now, but it took a while.

Did some more work in the garden today, transplanting stuff out from the greenhouse. Which, somehow, is still totally packed.


Monsieur Savard's last known sighting was outside a wine bar on 85th Street, shortly before 1 a.m. on the 3rd of December. He was alone, though that did not prevent him from carrying on a conversation, very loudly. He was also, as you may have surmised, very drunk.

A woman living in a second floor apartment across the street reported yelling at him to go home and sleep it off. This earned her nothing but a loud belch in her general direction. She slammed her window shut and went to bed, but not before putting in her earplugs.

Four days later, I've been unable to find anyone who has seen Savard since.

The trail is as cold as my coffee and its been sitting on my desk untouched since 6 o'clock this morning. Night is settling in all over the city and I'm desperate for a break. I pick up my phone and dial my best contact.

"Good evening Detective Olson." Ah, her voice is sweeter than honey. Just what I needed to hear.

"Hey Lucy," I say, the smile already on my lips. "Book me on the next plane to Vegas. I need to get out of here for a few days."

Saturday April 9th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: dessert.

Another beautiful day spent outside. We almost had dinner outside, but the sun dipped below the mountains just as the food was about ready and the temperature dropped quite rapidly. Soon though, soon we will eat dinner outside again. For now, lunch will do.

I keep forgetting to mention: Sir Phillip has been spotted around our place quite a lot the last several days. And he's not alone! It seem he has acquired a lady friend.

Who happens to be the same shade of brown as the earth around here. And happens to sound like a bloody jumbo jet when she is startled into flight. Which has happened twice already. I think my heart has almost recovered, but it surely cannot take much more of that.


Pumpkin pie,
With a pecan crust?
Another slice?
Well, if I must.

Friday April 8th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the garage.

Busy day today. All that sunshine made it all good. Did some more pruning in the morning. About ready for that to be done, but there are still lots of trees left. 

Took the car into a local garage this afternoon to get something looked at. I had taken it in to a dealership in December to get inspected before the warranty ran out, and the only thing they'd found was an issue that wasn't urgent but would cost about $200 to get fixed. I wanted the guys, who I trust, at this garage to look at it to see if it had gotten any worse, and to find out how much it would cost for them to take care of it.

They said they could do it for $100. And then took a look at it. And proceeded to tell me that there was nothing wrong with it and I had nothing to worry about. This is the same place we bought our winter tires, by the way. They have my car business for life now.

Oh, and then after I got back we did our first planting in the big garden. Hurray for sunshine!


"There's no boxes, no dust-covered sports equipment, no long-forgotten pieces of memorabilia... I'm so confused."

I looked at my neighbour out of the corner of my eye and found no words to say. It was like he'd never seen a garage before.

"There's just... a car."

Thursday April 7th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's see what you can do with: returning.

Inspired by our visit to the accountant this afternoon, because we both will be getting a nice tax return this year. Kat is getting more, but I'm doing a fine job of pretending not to be jealous.


After all these years,
You keep coming back;
But still you never
Bother to unpack.

You pass right on through,
Like a hungry ghost;
Always on the move,
A ship seeking coast.

Our words spark a flame,
Soon bridges are burned;
Then you're gone again,
With no lessons learned.

Wednesday April 6th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: whispers.

This morning I finally managed to attend the local writer's group meeting and I'm glad I did. They meet twice a month but things have been so crazy since we moved here I hadn't found time (or energy) to go.

It was nice to share my writing with others, face-to-face, and to hear their words as well. I've missed that.


The whispers are growing louder, more difficult to ignore. But I have to concentrate on what I can control, and these people do not belong in that category. Let them mutter amongst themselves. I have work to do.

"Mr. Snider?" The words are accompanied by a tap on my shoulder. And another one. I guess I can't ignore them any longer.

"Yes?" I don't bother looking back. Both to prove a point and so that I don't lose my focus.

"Will this take much longer?" What kind of question is that? Do I look like I'm taking my sweet time?

"I'm going as fast as I can."

"Yes, of course." A brief pause. I almost convince myself that's the end of it. "It's just that the flood waters are above waist level now, and some of the mothers are getting worried."

"Do you think telling me that will help me to remember the combination on this door?" I spin the knob to the right and pull on the door handle. It doesn't budge. "Dang, I was sure that was it. This concussion is really messing with my memory."

"We're doomed, Mr. Snider, aren't we?"

"Less talking, more swimming." Jeez, some people. No appreciation of what's going on right in front of them.

Tuesday April 5th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: the witch.

I don't know why. Thankfully, I don't need to.

The sun was out this morning so I spent part of it pruning plum trees. It showed its face less often in the afternoon, but we still got some yard work done.

Now my muscles are sore and tired. Perhaps I'll call it an early night.


Her cackle is fine,
but she's not much of a witch -
her broom's in the shop.

*     *     *

Green skin, foul cooking,
but he just thinks she's a witch.
His poor stepmother!

Monday April 4th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's write about: growth.

Because I was excited to see our garlic peeking out of the garden soil this afternoon. We had a very cold snap in November and had been worried it had killed off the garlic we'd planted. Very relieved to discover that's not the case.


The man stared at his reflection in the still lake and frowned. He remained in his crouch, lost in thought, until rain drops began their assault on the water, distorting the image.

With a grunt he raised himself to his full height, leaning heavily on his cane. He looked around the park, saw mothers and daughters running for cover and cars, shook his head. What did they have to worry about?

It wasn't like they had hair growing out of every damned orifice.

With a soft sigh, he began the long walk back to his room in the hospital, wondering if the nurse would be willing to trim his nose hair.

Sunday April 3rd, 2011

The exercise:

Let us write something which takes place in: the classroom.

After doing some work in the yard this morning, Kat and I taught our second art, music, and yoga class this afternoon. We'd tried to start up a weekly series earlier in the year but there wasn't enough interest, so we're trying a monthly class. We had five students today and I think it went very well.

And I actually got paid to teach. So. Strange.


"All right, who would like to go next?" Mrs. Brown asked as she surveyed her classroom from behind her desk. She took a long sip of 'coffee' to eradicate the memory of the last presentation - Michael's dad had droned on about accounting for what felt like five days - and waited for a volunteer. She was in no rush to continue.

"My dad will!" Simon called from the back of the room. "Won't you, dad?"

"If I must," Henri replied, heaving himself to his feet and lighting a cigarette.

"I'll have to ask you not to -" Mrs. Brown began as he made his way to the front but he didn't let her finish.

"While my job is far more interesting than that last windbag's," he said, blowing smoke out his nostrils, "I promise not to go over time." A slight pause, then a cheeky wink. "I'd hate to make us late for our date."

"Mister -"

"Please, call me Henri. Although by my watch," he actually glanced at his wrist for full effect, "you'll be calling me Big Daddy in less than two hours."

"I have never been so -"

"Of course you haven't. But try to keep your skirt on just a little longer - there are children present." Another wink, then he turned to face his son's classmates and their parents. He pulled out his cell phone and held it up for all to see. "So. Who wants to watch me fire my secretary?"

Saturday April 2nd, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: deception.

Reading a very good book at the moment that features a whole lot of that. I still have no idea what's going on. Kinda makes it hard to put it down.


With a cocky smile,
You led me astray;
But my vision's cleared,
Now you're gonna pay.

Friday April 1st, 2011

The exercise:

Welcome to April! Write four lines of prose about: the prank.

I don't, nor have I or will I ever, do April Fools' Day. And, thankfully, neither do my friends. It all seems rather pointless to me.

So in that spirit, Kat and I spent the day buying plants for the front yard and finally seeing the tax accountant. It felt good to hand that stuff off and now we shall wait and hope for some money back.


"Oh, hi Mrs. Decker," Jerome said as he pushed his screen door open.

"Mr. Cauley," she replied, the slight smile on her lips failing to reach her eyes. "While you were babysitting him, did you tell my son that I was giving him up for adoption so that I could go live on Mars?"

"Well... yes, but it was the only way I could get Bobby to stop asking me when you'd be back."