Thursday June 30th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's write about: the funeral.

So. Bad Request Error 400. That's all I got from my repeated attempts to publish yesterday's post late last night. And when I just tried to log in to Blogger this morning before we hit the road. But then when I tried again tonight shortly after we returned, it worked just fine. Argh.

Anyway. Today marks the one year anniversary of our move to Osoyoos. Unfortunately we weren't really able to celebrate it, but hopefully we'll have time to reflect on it a bit more tomorrow.

Also: apparently June 9th was the third anniversary of this here blog. I almost forgot the one and two year anniversaries but managed to remember at the last minute. Not so this year. Oh well, happy belated birthday to you, Daily Writing Practice.


It's been a bit of a rough stretch for both of our families recently. Kat lost her grandmother on her mother's side to a heart attack just before we left for our honeymoon in Jamaica, so we were out of the country for her memorial service. Right now my parents are over in New Brunswick for a service for one of my dad's brothers, which I really wish I could have attended.

And today we made the drive up to Kamloops for a service for one of Kat's mom's younger brothers, who passed away after an extended battle with cancer. It was an extremely nice celebration of his life and I'm glad we were able to be there with the rest of Kat's family on her mother's side.

It was only the third funeral I've ever attended, and the first in over ten years. Which is not bad at all, but if timing and logistics had worked out it could have been a lot more than that.

Kat's brother is getting married this August, so I think everyone is looking forward to having a happier occasion to bring us together. I know I sure am.

Wednesday June 29th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: the trend.

It appears as though the strawberries are on a downward trend these days - only 15 pounds out of this morning's harvest. I think we peaked at 22 pounds, which seems like a decent amount. We've certainly had no trouble selling them all, that's for sure.

We're going to be away most of tomorrow, will write more about that after we get back.


Carl studied the charts his underlings had tacked to the wall, his hands clasped behind his back and a grim expression on his face. Things were not looking good.

Sales had been decreasing every month for the last eight years, and costs were rising steadily. Some quick mental math told him that if this trend continued the company would be forced into cutting staff before the year was out.

The stockholders would not be encouraged by such news. Times were certainly changing, but that was no excuse.

"All right people," he said without turning around. "Start throwing ideas out on how to turn this mess around. For the next hour, no idea is too outrageous. Let's buckle down and figure out how to sell more of our special edition, fifty pound typewriters!"

Tuesday June 28th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: the manager.

We started pruning and tying tomato plants today. I can smell nothing but tomatoes right now.


He jumps out of bed
each morning and spends all day
managing his time.

*     *     *

If you know how to
do this, then you can just do
it all for yourself!

Monday June 27th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the hole.

Very full day in the garden. We spent the entire morning harvesting for our local orders (most of that time was spent finding eighteen pounds of strawberries) and then I went back out in the evening to get another spray on our cabbages. It's an organic mixture that helps keep destructive bugs away, which is nice. But the ratio is 10 grams to 10 liters of water, which is... less nice.

On my shoulders, seeing as I'm carrying all this around in a pack strapped to my back.

Anyway. At least it only needs to be applied once a week, rather than every day. That would be a nightmare.


"Fill that in."

Lemmy looked over at his supervisor for a moment before inspecting the surrounding area. He scratched his chin, squinted for a few breaths, then gave up.

"Fill what in?" he asked.

"The hole."

"What, the whole hole?" Lemmy was starting to get a headache.

"Are you provoking me on purpose?" his supervisor countered before pointing a rather intimidating finger in Lemmy's direction. "Now grab that damned shovel and get to filling, or I'll grab it and get to hitting."

"Yessir. Right away, sir." Lemmy took hold of the shovel and placed it safely out of his supervisor's reach. "Now, just so we're clear here... you want that hole filled in, wholly and completely?"

"Get to work before I decide to throw you down there and then do the job myself." 

His supervisor's tone made it clear that the fun and games were over. So Lemmy nodded his head and thrust his shovel into the mound of dirt on the edge of the meteor crater. This, he suspected, was going to be one very long day.

Sunday June 26th, 2011

The exercise:

How about we go with: the tower.

Quiet day off today, featuring rest and reading. Oh, and going out for gelato for after dinner dessert.

Mmm, Blackberry Merlot.


It rose from the ground like a sickly old man without his cane, threatening to topple over at any moment and never reach for the sky again. Whenever the wind gathered strength and set against its walls I suspected that the end had finally come.

But still it remained upright.

No soul had been inside in recent memory, to my knowledge at least. Why someone didn't have it knocked down I never understood. Didn't they see the children playing around its base whenever the adults were too busy to watch them?

But still it stands.

Perhaps I shall destroy it myself. Not a finger would be raised to stop me. It's not like I believe in that silly old story about the last resident of the tower. Only little boys and girls are scared of curses these days.

But still I delay.

Saturday June 25th, 2011

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: inconvenience.

Penticton had a special event going on this morning, so the market was moved up a block for one week only. It's a narrower block than the one we're usually on, which meant we had to unload the truck and then park it elsewhere.

Which meant getting to our spot in the morning, getting out after unloading, getting back to our spot after closing, and then getting out again. Not one of those four trips was even remotely easy.

But! It was nice having other stalls all around us, as we're usually at one end of the market and feel a little apart from things. It felt more like a community today.


I'd rather you hadn't said that,
I'd rather you weren't on bended knee.
I'm wishing you wouldn't stay here,
I'm wishing you could just stop loving me.

Friday June 24th, 2011

The exercise:

On this 1,111th day in a row of Daily Writing Practice, give me four lines of prose that have something to do with: one.

My fingers were numb again tonight, but for a very different reason: we harvested our strawberries for tomorrow's market in a windy downpour. I could barely feel the berries by the time we finished. Thankfully a warm shower solved that issue.


I stood in the doorway and surveyed the damage. The glass coffee table had been shattered, forks had been used to carve nursery rhymes on the wall, and all of my bowling trophies had been hammered flat. A sigh and a shake of my head were the only responses I could muster.

The one time I forget to give the kids their medication...

Thursday June 23rd, 2011

The exercise:

The word of the moment is: numb.

Kat fell asleep on my arm, then I fell asleep, and now here I am, struggling to get feeling back into my fingers. Good times!

Despite a near-constant howling wind, we managed to get some good weeding and planting done in the garden today. Tomorrow we're back to harvesting, as we prepare for Saturday's market. 


The only way I'm winning the fight
On this twisted tree night
Is if I manage to strike back -
Yes, I must get on the attack -
Before sensation returns
And I actually feel that burn.

Wednesday June 22nd, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the war.

Not sure what the current military trend is all about, though I suspect it must have at least a little to do with the fact that I'm currently reading The Book Thief.

This morning we picked almost twenty pounds of strawberries. Three ounces shy, to be exact. Which was a problem, seeing as we had orders of ten, five, and five pounds for this afternoon. So I went back out after lunch and found three more ounces that were either overlooked or had finished ripening in today's heat.

Right now we're picking strawberries Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I'm already starting to look forward to being done with them. Sad but true.


This evening I spent some time weeding around one of several rows of potato plants. A few varieties are in bloom, while others are still keeping themselves busy by getting bigger.

It doesn't seem to matter much either way to the mosquitoes. They'll hang out around them both. Paranoid me thinks they're just waiting for me to show up. I try not to listen to paranoid me too much.

At least this evening I remembered to spray repellent on myself before heading out. It's a homemade concoction - I think it's just water and some drops of citronella essential oil - and it lasts for about an hour before I need to reapply it.

Anyway, I escaped the garden in a better state than usual. I don't think I suffered any new bites and I killed at least four of the tiny bastards.

But I know that while I won the battle tonight, the war is only just beginning...

Tuesday June 21st, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: the soldier.

We had a lovely summer day here - even now it feels as though its hardly cooled off.


His only defense:
I only followed orders.
Would I do the same?

*     *     *

The smartest soldier
knows to not answer the phone
when duty does call.

Monday June 20th, 2011

The exercise:

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

Had a big pick this morning for our local orders, which included our biggest strawberry harvest so far. We got nineteen pounds in all - here's ten pounds of them:

Didn't get much work done otherwise, which was okay because the sun was blazing today. We're expecting more of the same tomorrow, but at least there won't be as much picking to do.


In the gathering dusk, we came together in the alley behind Mrs. Henderson's house in silence. A few of us had dressed all in black, while the rest were decked out in grubby jeans and old t-shirts. I was in the latter group.

Once all the stragglers had arrived, we stood in a loose circle. Eric held out his hat and everyone else placed a dollar in it. I noticed one or two kiss their coin first, but I didn't go in for such nonsense.

"On my signal the hunt begins," Eric whispered with all the solemnity of a preacher standing over an open grave. "Whoever gets back here first with Mrs. Henderson's cat takes the bounty home. Go!"

Sunday June 19th, 2011

The exercise:

Give me what you've got for: the ghost in the orchard.

Because with the white netting on the cherry trees, it looks rather ghostly over there. I shall have to get a picture of it.

Had a good day off, as there was much sunshine and resting to go around. Did a little bit of work in the yard this afternoon before going up to join Kat's parents for a Father's Day dinner. He did up a nice turkey dinner and Kat brought the dessert - a strawberry pie with a pecan crust. Yum.


She stood beneath the tree that had been her favorite through all the years of her childhood. Third row up from the street, fifth tree in. There was just something about the curves and texture of the branches. And she had always been convinced it produced the sweetest cherries in the whole orchard. The entire valley, even.

She closed her eyes.

The wind played with the leaves and carried the scents of the blossoms to her nostrils. She breathed deep. The years peeled away and she could feel herself shrinking, her adult body returning to its adolescence. The sun stepped behind a cloud and the air grew colder.

She thought of her little brother.

His insistently uncombed brown hair. The always smiling lips. The laugh that could be heard in every corner of the orchard, no matter where he might be. The permanent dirt stain on his left cheek. She smiled as her thoughts turned to their cherry spitting contests - always done out of sight of their parents, but the winner invariably too proud to keep their victory secret for long.

She felt his icy, tiny hand take hold of her fingers.

Her eyes remained closed, though her breathing became more laboured. Silent tears formed in the corners of her eyes but she dared not blink them away. For even the briefest of openings would allow her eyes to return to the present.

And she was not ready to be without her brother again quite yet.

Saturday June 18th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the vendor.

We had a bit of a quiet time for most of the market this morning, but thankfully it picked up for long enough to make the trip worth it.

Hurray for a day off tomorrow!


He's smoking a cigarette
And not interested in selling;
There's a reason for this,
But Henri isn't telling.

Friday June 17th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the net.

This morning we managed to get all the cherry trees netted, in order to keep the fruit safe from the very hungry birds. Now that the cherries and strawberries are safely behind nets... I wonder what they'll turn to next.

Hopefully not us.


Her smile is wider than the sea and as bright as the sun as she comes running toward me, net in hand. The words tumble out of her mouth and gather at my feet, piling higher by the second. Reluctantly I break the spell before I am buried beneath her excited mountain.

"Honey, the butterfly you caught is dead."

Thursday June 16th, 2011

The exercise:

Write something which takes place within: the palace.

This will hopefully be the last I have to say on the subject of last night: it's been extremely encouraging to see what's happened in the aftermath.

Through the magic of Facebook, a crew of volunteers arrived early this morning with brooms and garbage bags in hand to cleanup the mess the rioters left behind.

And the hundreds and hundreds of pictures and videos taken and then posted online have led the hunt to identify the idiots responsible.

That's more like it, Vancouver.


The king's in a very foul mood -
He's yelling and screaming at us,
And honestly being quite rude.

No one knows what it's all about,
Although there is some quiet talk
That the queen has stopped putting out.

Not that I can blame her you know -
It just takes one look at the man
To see that he's let himself go.

So all the ladies stay hidden,
For surely what he wants to do
Is quite completely forbidden.

Wednesday June 15th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: disappointment.


On the plus side: after this you guys don't have to hear me go on about hockey for at least the next few months!


I think that's the strongest emotion I'm feeling right now. Not about the Canucks losing game 7 - I'm already mostly over that. There's always next year and all that good stuff.

No, it's the handful of fans in downtown Vancouver who are going to get all the headlines tomorrow (and already have tonight). The ones who decided to flip over cars and set them on fire. Who decided to smash windows and get themselves arrested.

Perhaps 'fans' is not the right word. Maybe 'idiots looking to start trouble who found a half-assed excuse to do so' would be a more accurate label.

It is, sadly, just like what happened the last time the Canucks lost in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Have we really not learned anything in the last 17 years?

At the end of the day, it's just a game. Relax. There's no need to vandalize and get (or add to?) a criminal record. There's no need to tarnish a entire city's reputation.

It's all just... very disappointing. And haven't we had enough of that from our hockey team?

Tuesday June 14th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: mistakes.

Because I totally forgot it's Tuesday today and wrote up a non-haiku post. So I've saved it for another day and now we're back on track!


Anyway. Quiet day today. We mostly weeded and thinned carrots and beets, which we have a lot of. I did my best not to think about tomorrow night's game, but was largely unsuccessful.


It's hard to do right
when those damned days of the week
keep trading places.

*     *     *

I'd rather screw up
than be perfect - dead machines
can't have human fun.

Monday June 13th, 2011

The exercise:

On this 1,100th day in a row of Daily Writing Practice, I was all set to be excited and celebratory. But then the Canucks lost tonight, so that went out the window. Bring on the deciding game 7 on Wednesday night. One way or another, it all ends in less than two days.

Right, we're still in need of a prompt. How about: the waterfall.


It wasn't much of a drop, really. Six feet, seven at the most. No rocks guarded the landing, and the bottom lurked far below the surface. Couldn't have been a safer jump, all things considered.

And yet... and yet.

She stood at the top, the water tickling her ankles as she stared down. All the others had already leaped into the thick summer air and were now swimming in lazy circles. Waiting for her.

She should have gone first. She could see that clearly now. But that moment had come and gone and it was a waste to go chasing after it. There were only two options left: jump or be branded a coward forever.

Forever was a long time, but she felt like she could almost see it from up there.

They were growing impatient, shouting to be heard over the sound of the waterfall. It was time. She told herself to just close her eyes and jump. So what if she screamed? Two or three of the others had. All that would be remembered was that they had jumped. That they weren't cowards. Like her.

She turned and fled upriver.

Sunday June 12th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we go with: the trade.

We met up with our farmers market friends tonight for drinks and we brought some oregano plants with us since they'd mentioned yesterday they wanted some. My intention was to give them as a trade for a tomato plant they'd given us at the market yesterday, but they were very insistent on paying for them.

Oh well, I'm sure we'll even out over the course of the summer.

It was another enjoyable day off, as other than that we relaxed around the house and had a nice picnic lunch at the beach in the sunshine.


"I'll give you five marbles for that blueberry muffin," Alex offered, his eyes locked on the object of his current desire.

"Sure, sounds good to me," Bobby replied.

"And I'll give you these two G.I. Joes for that bag of chips," Alex continued.

"Why not?" Bobby said with a shrug. "I'm not really hungry anyway."

"And how about this picture I drew of my house for your dog?"

That's when Bobby's mother was forced to intervene.

Saturday June 11th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem that has something to do with: early.

We had a pretty decent market this morning, despite a rather slow start and a bit of rain. But thankfully once the sun came out, so did the customers.

While we were eating breakfast this morning a raccoon wandered into our yard. I'm glad Kat was there too or else I would have assumed I was dreaming. I haven't quite adjusted to being awake at 5:30 in the morning yet.

Now I'm pretty much asleep on my feet, so let's get on with it.


The alarm pokes me awake,
Or at least it tries.
It's early morning deafness,
Though it is unwise.

Friday June 10th, 2011

The exercise:

This week's Four Lines of Prose Friday would like you to answer this question: what's it like?

I'll even give you a bonus fifth line to start things off, which has to be what you're answering. See mine to help you understand what I'm going on about.

Game 5 in Vancouver tonight ended in victory for the good guys, 1-0. So they're one win away from the Cup. Game 6 is Monday night in Boston. It can't come soon enough.

Back at the market tomorrow morning, so I should get to bed.


What's it like to handle the rototiller that we rented today to weed between our rows of veggies in the garden?

Well, picture yourself standing behind a reasonably sized bull. Now take two lengths of rope, and attach your left hand to it's left hind leg with one piece and your right hand to it's right hand leg with the other.

All set?

Okay, now kick him in the balls.

Thursday June 9th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: doubt.

We got a lot of good work done in the garden and yard today. Now me sleepy.


Now is not the time to question my abilities. There's no room for second guessing, hesitation, or exploring other options. Now is the time to act.

The elevator dings to let me know I've reached my desired floor and then the doors ease open. I step out, turn to the left and force myself to walk slowly. Don't draw attention, don't stand out. Nobody knows about the gun in my pocket.

I ease to a stop in front of room 822 and take a deep breath. My left fist is rapping on the door before any more thoughts can interfere. My right tightens around the gun grip before I force it to relax. Everything is going to plan.

"Hello?" The voice comes from the other side of the door, which remains closed. "Who's there?"

Is it him? It has to be. But what if it's not? I need to see his face to know for sure. But if it's the wrong guy he'll see my face, he'll remember me. This is no good. Time to abort.

I turn and head back to the elevator without saying a word.

Wednesday June 8th, 2011

The exercise:

Today's word: even.

The Canucks got thumped again tonight, so we're all even at 2-2 now. They're certainly not interested in making this easy on themselves, or their fans.


You done me wrong
For far too long.
I'm done with that -
Time to attack,
Time to be free,
Time to be me.

My gun is cocked,
You're looking shocked -
Didn't you know
Your verbal blows,
Your clenched fist kiss,
Would end like this?

Tuesday June 7th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: the night.

Had a productive morning in the garden before the rain came along and washed away the rest of the day. Thankfully it also brought a good nap with it.

Oh, almost forgot. The marmot in our front yard yesterday:


Moon and stars above,
Sleeping bodies all around;
The sun lies in wait.

*     *     *

Alone in the dark,
Thoughts expand until they make
Me feel very small.

Monday June 6th, 2011

The exercise:

The word of the moment is: crushed.

Because the Canucks got absolutely shellacked tonight in Boston. It's extremely important for them to come back strong in game 4 on Wednesday night after a result like this one.

Quite the day around these parts: two birds flew into the house (we really need to get/make a screen door), there was a marmot hanging out in the front yard (picture tomorrow if I remember), I saw my first hummingbird of the year (in Canada, anyway), and there were two snake sightings. I saw one behind our house, and Kat saw one in front of her parents' place.

Ah, Osoyoos.


Andy walked with a limp ever since the day his toes were crushed by the weight of his neighbour's car. Old Harry professed to have not seen him standing there, but Andy was never quite sure. It was, after all, less than a week after he'd broken Harry's lawnmower.

He tried to not let it keep him from his favorite hobbies, and it certainly didn't stop him from working his desk job, but things were never really the same afterward. Something had changed, and not just on the outside. Andy knew it, but he couldn't find a way to bring himself back to the way he was before.

That's what he told me, at least. But in here I got my own worries. Andy wasn't fit to watch my back, so I didn't bother to watch his.

Looking back, I can see now that was my biggest mistake.

Sunday June 5th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: the trigger.

Very enjoyable day off, spent mostly lazing around the house before going out for a drink with Kat after dinner.

Twas an absolutely gorgeous day, and they're calling for 30 degrees tomorrow. Yes, please.

Although I would also take 3-0. Go Canucks!


It was my job to determine what had triggered the explosion, to provide answers for the questioning victims and their families. I took the responsibility seriously, moving through the debris deliberately, studying every shattered item.

Nearly an hour had passed before I finally found what I was looking for. The white liquid had gathered in the far corner of the room, its container only a few feet away. It appeared to have cracked when it was dropped, but seemed otherwise intact. I placed it in a plastic bag and went to confront the perpetrator.

"All right, Danny," I said to the toddler handcuffed to the toy box. "Who spilled your milk?"

Saturday June 4th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the decoy.

Another good morning at the market - the sun was shining, people were out in droves, and our stuff was moving off the tables at a pretty steady rate.

And then tonight? Vancouver with a goal 11 seconds into overtime for the win and the 2-0 series lead. Man oh man.


I bust down the door,
Guns blazing, oh boy!
That's when I realize:
I'm just the decoy.

Friday June 3rd, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose that have something to do with: ripe.

We were weeding and spreading more wood shavings around the strawberries this morning. It was crazy hot out, but I kept forgetting because I kept noticing strawberries that were getting very close to ripe. Give it a few days and I'll be stuffing them in my mo... er, we'll be selling them.


Market tomorrow!


"They're ripe for the picking," the speaker at the other end of the line told me and then hung up.

I flipped my cell phone shut and stuck it in my jacket pocket before finishing my drink. After a final look around the room, I made my way to the door and out into the cool night air. I hailed a cab and directed the driver to my ex-wife's house; she was out on the town and my kids were there alone.

Thursday June 2nd, 2011

The exercise:

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

Because Kat and I were in the garden this afternoon when a random wind storm came raging out of nowhere. It cut diagonally across the garden, carrying a big cloud of dust with it, and headed straight for me. All I could do was duck my head, close my eyes and mouth, and hold my hat.

Fun times.

Also because I've been looking over my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, Lessons in the Dust, recently.


Inspector Evans opened the door and stepped into the library. The deceased had an impressive collection of books which filled several bookcases, each of them brushing the ceiling. A brief examination showed that they were arranged alphabetically by author.

He moved to the window and pulled the curtain back just enough to peer down at the front yard. He eyed the officers and TV reporters before his gaze shifted to the onlookers gathered on the far side of the police tape. Studying each face closely, he wondered if one of them was responsible for ruining his morning.

Turning away, he walked slowly around the room, deep in thought. The room had obviously not seen much use, he noted, as all of the book spines were covered with a fine layer of dust.

Evans stopped, then turned and retraced his steps. He leaned toward a book that had caught his attention, holding his breath, his nose mere inches away from its surface.

"All of them," he amended his earlier thought, "except one."

Wednesday June 1st, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the applicant.

Vancouver scored with 18 seconds left in the game to take the victory 1-0 tonight. They just keep on rolling!


Sophie tried to keep her expression neutral as she regarded the man on the other side of her desk. It was days like this that she wished she'd never graduated from university.

"I see that under strengths," she said, double checking the resume in her hand, "you put: Can bench press 300 pounds."

"Totally." His reply was accompanied by an enthusiastic nodding of his head.

"While that's very impressive... I'm not entirely sure how it applies to this job."

"Well if, like, something super heavy falls on one of the kids, I could totally lift it off."

"Right." Sophie paused to collect her thoughts. And to stop herself from laughing. "Thanks so much for taking the time to come in and see us, but I just don't think you're quite what we're looking for. Good luck in your job search."

"Aw, come on! What makes you think I'd suck at being a day care worker?"