Friday September 30th, 2011

The exercise:

The last day of September? Already?

Anyway. Go write four lines of prose that have something to do with: spicy.

Had a big harvest this morning, which tends to happen when we skip a market like we just did. Lots of tomatoes, colorful peppers (including our hot ones - thus today's prompt), squash, eggplant, potatoes... and on and on.

Right, I promised house pictures. Here are the befores:

That's the front. Here's the back:

And here be the afters:

And back:

We're quite pleased with how it has turned out so far. The back and sides still need a second coat, but it'll do for now.


The knife slices through the red flesh as he struggles to keep the smile from his face. A few more quick movements and the cayenne is added to the simmering dish before he reaches for another jalapeno. He hears the doorbell ring but doesn't move to answer it until two more peppers are added to the pot.

After all, he'd hate to spoil the surprise for his dear, sweet, elderly, rich mother.

Thursday September 29th, 2011

The exercise:

My final cruise inspired prompt shall be: gluttony.

They had a dessert extravaganza at 10 pm one night. I found it... unsettling. So mine is my thoughts on the event, with the volume cranked up (meaning exaggerated just a wee bit).

Right, pictures of the ship's interior. Here's one of several lounges to be found on board:

And here we have a view of the library, from floor level (I did most of my writing on the cruise in here):

And finally, here's one of several bars on the boat:

I think that's all the photos I wanted to share from the cruise, so tomorrow we'll have a look at the new paint job on the house, if that's okay with you good folk.

Although, honestly, we're doing it whether you like it or not. Just so you know.


They called it a dessert extravaganza.

It was well attended by portly patrons carrying overflowing bowls of chocolates, cakes, pies, and other items parading as food meant for consumption. Going for seconds was expected. Thirds were celebrated. Fourths were spoken of in awed whispers, secreted away behind sugar-coated fingers.

Heaven forbid, after all, that any of it go to waste.

The staff smiled encouragingly, all too eager to slice and scoop and sprinkle. Their evil intent was plain to see, for those with eyes to look for it.

For those like me.

They could call it whatever they wished. I knew it was just the first of seven smouldering steps on the fiery staircase down to hell.

Wednesday September 28th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the cynic.

Inspired by a man I was sitting near the day we didn't dock in Ketchikan - to say that he was unimpressed with things would be an understatement. In fact, he made a comment about our doing only 11 knots (so that we wouldn't rock around so much in the big waves) was b.s. and that the ship could totally go faster.

I think he was just ready to get off the ship.

I'll share some pictures taken while we sailed through Tracy Arm Fjord, beginning with the scenery:

There were loads and loads of waterfalls (one thing the rain was good for, at least):

But my favorite part were the icebergs:

Tomorrow I'll pick out some pictures of the ship's interior, and then I'll finally get to the house pictures. That's the plan, at any rate.


All of his forecasts call for rain,
He's constantly surprised by sun;
His lips are so straight it's as though
He's never even heard of fun.

His complaints could cover the Earth,
His pessimism has no end -
And yet he can't stop wondering
Why in the world he has no friends.

Tuesday September 27th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: the navigator.

I wrote my second one the evening after we didn't dock at Ketchikan because of bad weather. In all fairness, there was no way that could have been done safely. But I was feeling a little bitter, so there we go.

Oh, since Greg enjoyed the waterfall in yesterday's post, here's another one we visited:

And... let's see. How about a picture of our cruise ship, docked in Skagway:

I'll share a couple more pictures from the cruise tomorrow. And then maybe I'll share some pictures of the newly painted house? Maybe.


He keeps insisting
on only making left turns -
damned Nascar driver.

*     *     *

He claims the water
is too rough to safely dock.
I say he's just drunk.

Monday September 26th, 2011

The exercise:

Write something to do with: celebrity.

It rained on us for most of the local harvest this morning. I was not impressed, especially with the world still moving randomly (dear body: we're on land now) and a migraine coming on. But we got 'er done.

Oh, here's a picture of the lake I mentioned yesterday:

We really had no idea it was that big when we started hiking around it. Elsewhere, here's Kat and I posing in front of a waterfall by the Mendenhall Glacier, just outside Juneau:

I'll share a few more randomly selected photos tomorrow.


So by the end of day three of our trip, Kat and I were cruise ship celebrities.

You see, on day two they announced they'd be doing something called The Marriage Game the following night - ideally with one couple that had been together for a long time, one that was as close to newlywed as possible, and one somewhere in the middle.

Kat and I decided to be the newlyweds and showed up at the on-board theatre in the hopes of being picked. We were, so they brought us up on stage with the two other couples and we answered a bunch of questions separately and were able to match up on most of them. We ended up tying for first, and had a pretty good time of it, too.

We thought that would be the end of it.

The first time we were recognized was about two hours after the show. Fair enough.

The next day we were stopped two or three times. About the same the day after that. We had not bargained on this happening.

But we weren't the only ones.

On the fifth night I ran into the husband of the other winning couple in one of the many men's rooms on the ship. We preceded to have the following conversation:

"Are you guys getting it too?" he asked as we washed our hands at the sink.

"Oh good, it's not just us."

"Everywhere we go."

I found that rather comforting.

Sunday September 25th, 2011

The exercise:

Back home on solid ground again. Patiently waiting for my body to realize this.

Your prompt: the loop.

Inspired by Kat and I doing a hike in Skagway that looped around a lake. It took us much longer than expected, but it was still good. Aside from the rain.

Anyway. Cruise was good. Pictures and more starting tomorrow.


"I feel like Matt and I are stuck in this miserable loop," Jodie tells me through a haze of cigarette smoke.

"What do you mean?" I know exactly what she means, but I have a role to play.

"Argument A always leads to Argument B, which is inevitably followed by Argument C, and on and on," she says, waving around her cigarette baton like hell's conductor. "Until finally Argument Q takes us by the scruff of our necks and drags us back to Argument A."

"Only Q, not Z?" My curiosity sounds pretty convincing if you ask me.

"Oh, we have exactly seventeen different arguments." She pauses to blow seventeen smoke rings. "So we don't bother going all the way through the alphabet."

"Well, it's good to have room to grow," I say with a laugh I cut short with a sip of gin and tonic. Maybe next time we get together I'll have a rum and coke.

Probably not.

"Oh sweetheart, don't make fun." One final smoke ring. "It's absolute hell. You just can't understand."

Actually, I'm pretty sure I do.

Saturday September 24th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: chocolate.

I suspect I'll be having a fair bit of that on the cruise.

I'm back tomorrow! Hurray for the end of scheduled posts!

Hurray for finally being able to go to bed...


It makes everything better,
Whether melted or in chunks.
It even makes insects tasty -
Who would have ever thunk?!

Friday September 23rd, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the poker game.

Gone cruisin'.


I studied my hand with a furrowed brow, wondering how I was going to get myself out of this latest mess. I couldn't even remember how it all started. Probably with that ill-advised drink in the backyard just after breakfast.

"Amigo," the man sitting across the table from me snapped, bringing my attention back to the present moment, "stop cleaning out your damned fingernails and place a damned bet already!"

Thursday September 22nd, 2011

The exercise:

Tell me about: the survivor.

Still gone. Be back Sunday night.


It's been a really strange day.

This morning I woke up in a tree. This was not where I fell asleep. In fact, I don't remember going to sleep at all.

The last thing I can recall with any confidence is getting on the plane to Cancun.

And that tree didn't look Mexican to me.

I wasn't sure how high up I was - mostly due to the smoke billowing up from the fire at the base of my tree. To say that I found this rather disconcerting would be somewhat of an understatement.

Anyway, I managed to get down safely. I don't remember how, exactly. I suspect my concussion is to blame for that.

Now I'm holed up in a dusty cabin with one broken window (was that my doing?) and no food. Oh, and this blank journal and stubby pencil. Haven't seen a soul since I woke up. Though I thought I spotted a bear earlier.

Going to turn in now. Hopefully tomorrow is a little more manageable.

Wednesday September 21st, 2011

The exercise:

Here's one we haven't done in a while: the first line prompt.

I provide the first line, then everyone runs with it in whatever direction they like.

Here it is: The surrounding area was enveloped in steam as the machine creaked and hissed its way into the air.

Scheduled post, yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill by now.


The surrounding area was enveloped in steam as the machine creaked and hissed its way into the air. Captain Nigel and his co-pilot Victoria exchanged terse status reports in the cockpit, their eyes shifting from gauge to gauge. The map tacked to the wall behind them was covered with notes and a single, snaking line marked their journey south.

They would be making only two stops to refuel before they reached their destination, though exact locations would be determined by the strength of the headwinds they would encounter. If all went smoothly, their brief landings would be in remote, mostly uninhabited wildernesses, away from prying eyes.

If all wasn't agreeable to playing nice... well, that was why there were armed guards in the cargo hold.

"We've reached our planned travel height," Victoria announced.

"Locking in our course," Nigel said, turning the brass wheel gently to his left. "All readings look good. You ready for this?"

"No, but when has that ever stopped us?"

"Never," Nigel said with a twitch of his lips. "We stick to the plan for as long as we can, then we improvise. One way or another, we'll get there."

"I wish... oh, no. Already?"

"What is it?"

"Imperial airship at four o'clock. Looks like improvisation time has arrived early."

Tuesday September 20th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about (or by?): Superman.

Out of town for the week, so this is a scheduled post.


He beat the train home
But he can't be bothered to
Take out the garbage

*     *     *

While crowds cheer for him
And nations erect statues,
He misses his home

Monday September 19th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the director.

This is a scheduled post - I'll be back Sunday evening, with a story or two to tell I'm sure.


Filming began eight months ago,
When it will stop, nobody knows.
The star is an extortionist,
Director's a perfectionist,
And we keep running out of film.

I would quit if I thought I could,
And yes, of course, I know I should.
But the armed guards are only here
To make the workers stay in fear,
So he calls for action again.

Sunday September 18th, 2011

The exercise:

Write about: the cruise ship.

Kat and I are off cruising with my family to celebrate my parents 40th anniversary - be back on the 25th.


We watched the ship approach our island from the cover of the trees. Andy was already running his thumb over the handle of his knife.

"Patience," I whispered. "It'll be any second now..."

He didn't answer, instead running a rough tongue over his cracked lips. My stomach grumbled loudly.

The monstrous boat edged steadily closer, its white hull nearly blinding us in the late afternoon sunshine. Was it close enough to shore? It was difficult to judge.

"There it is!" Andy said, louder than I liked.

But he was right - the boat had come to a halt. They had dropped anchor.

Now all that was left to do was wait for the cover of nightfall.

Saturday September 17th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the mask.

We had a pretty decent market this morning, much better than what we were doing at this point last year. It's nice to see lots of people still coming out, even though it's a bit cooler and the main tourist season has ended.

We're out of here bright and early tomorrow morning, so you're in for a week of scheduled posts. See you when we get back!


They're so certain,
They don't even ask;
They think they know me,
But it's really just my mask.

Friday September 16th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the maid.

Today was too busy for picture taking, so I'll have to make time tomorrow.

It's definitely getting cooler around these parts - the berries are fading again and early mornings require more clothing than I'm used to (I was rather cold for most of this morning's harvest).

Back to the market tomorrow morning, and then we're officially on vacation until next Sunday. I'm looking forward to it.


She wields her duster as though it were a sword, the dust bunnies her mortal enemies. Each morning they muster to stand against her, attacking from dark corners and forgotten crannies. But she destroys them all, emerging victorious at the end of every day.

She knows her thoughts are more than a little crazy, but they help her get through the drudgery and back home to her precious daughters.

Thursday September 15th, 2011

The exercise:

Write something about: the family vacation.

The wind was blowing pretty good this morning, so we didn't do any painting until the afternoon. I spent some time working on posts to schedule for next week (more on that in a second) and Kat preserved tomato sauce with our extra Romas.

Then we got to work after lunch and got a first coat of paint on the east side of the house. With all four sides painted, we even had time to do a second coat on the front. That will likely be it for this year, as it'll probably be too cold after we get back (almost getting to it, hold on) to do any more.

I'll share some before and after pictures tomorrow or Saturday.

Okay, here you go:


We're leaving Sunday morning for a little get together with my family. It's my parents 40th anniversary next week, and they wanted to celebrate by going on an Alaskan cruise with the kids. So Nicky is flying in from Boston, Sue is arriving from Calgary, and Kat and I will be driving over from Osoyoos.

The boat departs Sunday afternoon and will be returning the following Sunday morning. So that means a week's worth of scheduled posts for you guys - of which I've managed to do three so far. I think it's safe to say you can expect a drop off in quality towards the end of next week...

Anyway. I'm really looking forward to this - I've never been on a cruise ship before and the last time I went on vacation with my family was... um, Jamaica when I was 5? And to have an actual vacation and not just visit with relatives? I'm not sure we've ever done that. Maybe when I was young enough not to remember it.

So yeah, scheduled posts will begin on Sunday and continue through the 24th. Which means... I should probably get back to working on them.

Wednesday September 14th, 2011

The exercise:

I think it's about time for another go at the Random CD Prompt. So go pick a song as randomly as you can manage and use its first line as your own - and then go wherever you want with it. If this is your first attempt, feel free to click on the label below to see previous examples.

Had a relatively quick harvest this morning other than the berries, which are somehow still going strong. That's certainly not a complaint though, as I'm happy to pick them as long as they care to ripen.

The north side of the house now has its first coat of paint, which only leaves the east side to go. Tomorrow? I think so.


Automatic Flowers - Our Lady Peace

"... and Sarah thinks she's died here once before."

I looked up from my newspaper slowly, not sure that I had heard Nathan correctly. He was staring out the window, watching the rain fall in sporadic drops to the pavement two floors below.

"What was that?" I asked after another minute passed in silence.

"She says it happened in the kitchen. Paring knife in the neck."

"Who did it?"

"The attack came from behind." Nathan looked away from the window to gaze at the bedroom door. Sarah was sound asleep on the other side after her latest episode. "She never saw his face."

"Then how does she even know it's a he?"

"Because it always is," Nathan said, just loud enough to be heard over the weather report on the radio. "It always is."

Tuesday September 13th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: diets.

Because I stumbled across some nonsense fad diet while surfing the internet. Hey, I'm not picky about where I find my inspiration!

So the south exterior wall now has its first coat of paint and the fireplace, at long last, got a fresh coat as well. It's needed it since we first bought it... way back in October of last year (jeez!), but it can't be in use for two days after being painted so that eliminated the first few months we had it. And then warmer weather hit and our thoughts were turned elsewhere.

I'm just glad we got it done before the warm weather takes its winter vacation.


Beer, chips, candy, cake...
My diet calls for eating
Whatever I want

*     *     *

I'm a top model,
My diet just consists of
Cigarettes and air

Monday September 12th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: big news.

The north and south sides of the house are ready to be painted tomorrow, so here's hoping we actually manage to get a first coat on both.


Before I was out of bed for more than fifteen minutes, Kat and I received two pieces of big news this morning. The first came courtesy of her brother: as of 2:30 in the morning, we're now aunt and uncle to little baby Natalie. Mom and daughter are doing well, and we can't wait to meet her at Thanksgiving.

The other slice of news was of the less happy variety: most of Kat's high school in Oliver burned to the ground overnight. Obviously it's too soon for any decisions to be made about where all those kids will be going for classes, but it's going to be quite the ordeal, both emotionally and bureaucratically. I'm not sure how I'd respond to hearing my old school was essentially no more, but it's not hard to imagine how upsetting it would be - especially for current students.

Hopefully tomorrow proves to be a little less eventful.

Sunday September 11th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: community.

It's looking like it'll be a quick harvest tomorrow morning for our local orders, which is all right - because it'll give us more time to work on the house.


This evening Kat and I hosted the first Prana Farm BBQ. Though it will be the only one this year, we're hoping to make it a regular event, likely a three per summer sort of thing.

We invited friends, family, and local customers - some of whom I'd like to consider friends by this point in the year - and had seventeen people come out to enjoy hamburgers, salads, and a tour of the garden. It was a better turnout than we expected, but I think we might have underestimated the power of free food :P

It did make for a long day for both of us. Kat spent the entire afternoon making a huge potato salad, putting together fruit bowls, and slicing up a monstrous tomato and cucumber salad. And I was kept busy setting up the location next to the garden with our market tent and tables, all the chairs I could get my hands on, and fetching last minute things from town. Plus doing the barbequing once things actually got underway.

Overall I'd say it went great - people seemed to enjoy the food, conversation was flowing all evening, and the garden tours went over well too. As a community building exercise, which was what it was intended to be, I think it was a definite success.

And now Osoyoos feels a little more like home.

Saturday September 10th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: tea.

Good market this morning. Tired now. Night night. 


His wrinkled hands are steady
As the misty mountain
Where the tea that he now pours
Once reached for the heavens

Friday September 9th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the boss.

Lots of tomatoes harvested today. It be that time of year.


Sharon walked down the hall, head held high, confidence oozing from every pore. She was going to do it, at long last - demand the raise everyone knew she deserved.

She pushed open the door to her boss's office and stumbled to a halt.

"Sorry Sharon," her boss's assistant said from where she was kneeling behind his desk, "the big guy is out for repairs - you'll have to come back tomorrow... assuming the parts get here in time."

Thursday September 8th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write a little something that has to do with: the ghost town.

The front of the house got its first coat of paint this morning. Very excited. Unfortunately further work will have to wait until Monday night or Tuesday.


They come from all over,
In all shapes and sizes;
With guide books and cameras,
They seek long lost prizes.

My poor dusty windows,
Now riddled with handprints!
They light up dark corners,
With no hint of conscience.

I just want to slumber,
Not suffer this refrain;
If they don't depart soon,
My dead will walk again.

Wednesday September 7th, 2011

The exercise:

Write a little something which takes place on: the train.

With weeds being ignored in the garden, we find ourselves with some time to get back to work on the house. If all goes to plan tomorrow, we'll finally get started on painting the outside. Very much looking forward to that.


The woman sitting across from me is absolutely perfect. I honestly can't believe my luck at being given a ticket in the same carriage as her. I must have done something right in a previous life.

Or something very wrong in this one.

"Good morning," I say with a smile that I force to reach my eyes. "Are you heading all the way to Duluth?"

"I am, actually," she replies, brushing a strand of blonde hair back into place behind her right ear. "Hopefully for the last time, though. Parents can't live forever, right?"

"No, but they certainly do their damnedest, don't they?" Her laugh lets me know that I've got her already. This is really too easy. "My name is Keith, by the way."

"Sandra." We shake hands. My pulse increases ever so slightly. "I'm a student at UCLA. How about yourself?"

"Me?" I keep my tone casual and glance out the window at the retreating skyline of Los Angeles. "Oh, nothing as honorable as that."

"I wouldn't call studying biology honorable. Come on, you can tell me."

"Well, if you must know," I say leaning forward and lowering my voice. She leans forward as well. She can't help herself. "I take hostages in order to rob trains."

Tuesday September 6th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: school.

Because today was the first day back for the kids here in Canada. We, um, took the day off in their honour... or something.

Kat and I went for a hike this morning that was shortened by both the heat and the unexpected steepness of the trail. We'll definitely get back there though, as it looked like a really nice hike - just either earlier in the day or later in the year.


Children fill the halls,
displacing the ghosts who lived
here all summer long

*     *     *

Nervous new teachers
sit in their empty classrooms,
count days to Christmas

Monday September 5th, 2011

The exercise:

Tell me a tale about: the safari.

We had orders for a small amount of a lot of different things this week, so even though it seemed like we had a lot of harvesting to do it actually went quite quickly. Never a bad thing.


"This is so not a good idea," Emily announced too loudly as we exited our tent.

"You don't say," I replied without looking at her.

"What, like you're okay with riding around in a windowless jeep when there are tigers out there just dying for a bite of our delicious flesh?"

"I don't think that ought to be your biggest concern," I said, wishing they hadn't confiscated my tequila at the border.

"Oh, really?" I couldn't believe her voice was actually capable of reaching a higher octave. "So what, oh brilliant genius friend of mine, should I be worrying about?"

"Just the fact," I said, speaking slowly for her benefit, "that you've gone and mistaken the bottle of barbeque sauce for the suntan lotion again."

Sunday September 4th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: paralyzed.

It's been a pretty quiet day. We were treated to pancakes topped with nectarines - along with bacon and tomatoes with onions - for breakfast this morning, courtesy of the house guest who didn't make dinner last night. I could get used to this... unfortunately, they're heading home shortly.

Back to the harvest tomorrow morning.


I've been feeling a growing desire to write lately - you know, other than here - but it's just not happening. It's not like I don't have the time or anything like that; even if it was just five minutes a day I could eventually get something done over the course of a week or two.

No, I've just been finding myself face to face with too many options. There are several stories over on Protagonize that are waiting patiently for me to write the next chapter. There's editing work to be done on my first drafts. There are new story ideas bouncing around my head, tempting me with their shiny possibilities.

I'm paralyzed by my inability to pick one option and get things going again. Because, obviously, I couldn't just go through the list one by one or something intelligent like that. Also, that would require making an actual list.

I'll get past this eventually, I know that. I even suspect that just writing about it here will help me through it. But it's frustrating while I'm in the middle of this muck.

Saturday September 3rd, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the box.

What's in the box? You tell me. For us today, there were a whole lot of these in boxes we sent home with some happy customers:

Besides the tomatoes, we also sold a whole lot of peaches - which is good, because we brought a lot of 'em.

Tonight one of our house guests cooked us a Laotian meal and it was very much enjoyed by all. Tomorrow they head home, though the recipe will have been left behind.


I woke up this morning
And found it at my door;
There's no return address
And that ticking's a bore.

Friday September 2nd, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the boot.

It was really great having help with the harvest today - it went so much quicker. I'd love to have two extra helpers every week.


He undid the bow around the box with his long, slender fingers, his breathing forced into a regular rhythm. The lid fell to the floor, revealing a single black steel-toed boot. With a tight smile he removed it from its home and placed it on his right foot.

Standing, he moved awkwardly towards his desk - it was time to give his aging computer the boot.

Thursday September 1st, 2011

The exercise:

Today seems like a day to write about: the dancer. Not sure why, it just does.

Had a pretty quiet day around these parts. We've got two more house guests right now, and they helped us with a small harvest and a little bit of weeding in the morning, and then the rest of the day was spent resting and relaxing.

Tomorrow, though. Tomorrow comes the big harvest for the market.


The dusty piano begins to play,
As the torn and weathered drapes gently sway.
Floorboards creak beneath her tentative toes,
Her ears await the beat her body knows.

She whispers like a wind across the room,
Her arms outstretched like a flower in bloom.
As she dances a single tear appears,
Her soul moved by music only she hears.