Wednesday December 31st, 2014

The exercise:

On this final day of 2014, write about: finding my/the/your way.

Had a nice time at the early evening new year's eve party with other parents of young kids, now we're back home in our warm'ish house. It takes a long time to warm this place up when the overnight temperatures drop so low. The cold gets into the walls, it seems.

Hanging around tomorrow before having dinner with Kat's parents and brother, then we're heading back to Kaleden tomorrow night. Thankfully that place warms up much faster, what with all the baseboard heaters.

Wishing you all the best in 2015 in whatever undertakings you... undertake.

I should go to bed.


The woods are filled with noises
Made by creatures out of sight,
And gnarled tree roots grab ankles
In the deepest black of night.

I stumble on with only
Rare pauses to catch my breath,
For I know that each shadow
Just might be concealing death.

Scratches cover my body
And I feel like hunted prey;
It's all part of the process,
For I am finding my way.

Tuesday December 30th, 2014

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: orange(s).

My first poem was inspired by a dear high school friend, who remains little changed in this regard to this day.

Gradually getting settled in here. It helps a lot to have figured out where most of the things I use regularly are located. Max is definitely more comfortable too, though he has moments where all he wants to do is go to Grandma and Papa's house.

Thankfully we'll be taking him for a visit tomorrow afternoon.


You claim your peel's shaped
like an elephant, but your
smirk says something else

*     *     *

Orange trees consumed
by orange flames; now all that
remains is pure black

Monday December 29th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the house sitter.

Because, well...


We started packing our things last night and finished this morning. Once (almost) everything was squeezed into the car we hit the road, headed for Kaleden.

We'll be house sitting here until early or mid-March (depending on whether or not we make a trip to Vancouver and Vancouver Island during Kat's spring break from teaching). It's only about a 40 minute drive from Osoyoos, so we'll be going back regularly to visit friends and to make sure Kat's parents still get some quality Max time in.

And to collect the things we couldn't fit in the car this morning.

So why did we agree to do it? A variety of reasons, but I'll mention the top three here.

Number one: this puts us a five minute drive away from OK Falls, home of Kat's teaching position. That cuts over half an hour off her commute this winter, a time when the roads are not always the greatest. So that's pretty important.

Number two: it also puts us about five minutes away from Penticton, with all it has to offer. Osoyoos tends to get pretty quiet during the winter months and with fewer outdoor options due to colder weather, it can be a pretty difficult place to live. Penticton also gets quieter, but its larger population means there are more things still on offer. And it'll be nice to be closer to friends in the area, as well as the larger stores that call the city home.

Number three: space. This is an inside time of year. That means no using the deck to double our living space. That means stuffing ourselves and our rather active toddler into our home. The house in Kaleden is normally home to two parents and two young children and has much, much more space. I'd say more than double but I suck at estimating that sort of thing. Regardless, it will make spending time indoors a lot more pleasant this winter.

On the down side it means Max's grandparents are not a five minute walk away. So he'll see a lot less of them the next two and a half months, and we won't be able to take advantage of all that free babysitting. We'll definitely be making an effort to see them, hopefully at least once a week.

The next time isn't particularly distant, as we're heading back on Wednesday for a New Year's Eve party at our bakery friends home, spending the night at our house, and then sticking around for New Year's Day dinner with Kat's parents and her brother.

Until then, we're going to try to get everyone used to living in a new home. Kat and I have been in our place for almost four years now, so it's an adjustment. Max has only ever known our place, so I imagine his will be a bit bigger.

Sunday December 28th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the tired man.

Not inspired by myself, by the way. Read on to discover the actual source, if you're interested.

Max's cousin and aunt are going back north tomorrow, but we're hopeful that they'll be back to stay come March. They have an offer on their place but it doesn't close until January 5th, so we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed until then.

In the meantime, my sister who is living in Calgary is coming for a visit at the end of January, which means Max will get to hang out with another aunt fairly soon.

Also: thank goodness for Skype.


Our favorite coffee house here in Osoyoos has a rotating art collection, displaying various local artists for a short period before moving on to whoever is next in line. I've had a photographer friend and a painter friend both have runs there, which is pretty cool.

Anyway. On a recent visit there were quite a few paintings on the walls of actors in famous roles. A few of Bill Murray from The Life Aquatic, I remember an Adrien Brody, though I can't recall in which role. And, getting back to the point of this, one of Heath Ledger as the Joker.

I can't find the exact pose he was captured in, but it was something like this. Mouth open and looking crazy are the key distinctions here.

I thought Max would find it upsetting or scary or... unpleasant. Turned out, I didn't have anything to worry about when he noticed it for the first time.

"That man tired," he said, standing up on his chair to reach for it. "Go home, go sleep."

I decided that interpretation was just fine, thank you very much. So I might have encouraged it a little bit. Every time he pointed it out. Which was multiple times over the course of two, maybe three visits.

"Yes, Max. That man is yawning, he should go get some sleep."

Then last week we arrived and the next artist in line was on display. I didn't even notice at first. Max, of course, did.

"Where the tired man go?"

"Oh, he's gone, isn't he? I guess he was just here for a little visit."

"Where the tired man go? I find him."

"No, sweetheart, he's not here. Maybe he went home. Or he's in a different store."

Max was having none of it. He was already climbing down from his chair, ready to scour the coffee shop for the missing painting. But first he had to double check the exact spot on the wall where it had been hanging. Which was right beside a table occupied by two women.

"Where the tired man go?" Max demanded of them.

Several times.

I was honestly laughing too hard to explain what was going on to them. I can only imagine what they thought of it all.

Saturday December 27th, 2014

The exercise:

Write a four line poem that has something to do with: unqualified.

The parents left Max and Natalie with their grandparents and went for a nice long walk this afternoon. It was good to go at an adult pace and have adult conversations. The fresh air was appreciated as well, even if it was a gray, chilly day.

I have such a backlog of pictures on my phone that I want to share. I'll have to at least get them onto the computer tomorrow.


When I think of her beauty
My mind becomes swamped!
Although, there is - No, no, no!
How quickly they forget the prompt.

Friday December 26th, 2014

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: Mrs. Claus.

While Natalie's parents were off looking at potential homes in the area, we took her and Max to the model railroad museum with my parents this morning. It was a lot of fun at first but they got a little too caught up, which is a problem in a place that doesn't want running or jumping around.

We took them back downstairs to check out the gift shop but that quickly devolved into pulling everything off the shelves and playing with them. So we headed for home shortly after that.

From there it was a fairly relaxed day. Some finger painting at Kat's parents house (thankfully), running around in circles, and one last big dinner before my parents head for home tomorrow morning.

Natalie and Becky will be sticking around a little longer, one nice benefit of having their flight plans fall through. I'm glad, for Max's sake, that everyone isn't leaving at the same time.


The biggest day of the year is in the books, over and done with, cross it off your list. Put your feet up and allow the frantic holiday to appear in your rear view. Have a drink or four and remind yourself that you do, in fact, know how to breathe normally.

Santa is home, safe and sound, and you don't need to worry about his safety out there in the frosty air, with all those airplanes and drones and lord knows what else, for another year.

Thursday December 25th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: one day.

Merry Christmas! I hope Santa was good to you and yours, and that your day was filled with laughter and love.

Max got quite the haul of stuff. I can't even remember it all right now. I'm not even sure I saw everything he received.

I do, however, know that if we hadn't taken away the mini basketball, soccer ball, and football that his Aunt Nicky gave him he'd have been quite happy completely ignoring the remaining presents.

Also: he's going to have a blast playing with the train set Kat's parents bought him.

I've got some cash and gift cards to spend, a CD to listen to, a couple books to read, and a laptop fan to replace the one that Max broke when he dragged it (and our laptop) off the couch a few weeks back. Probably some other things too, but it was a rather overwhelming gift opening session.

I should get this written up so that I can get to bed, because I need the rest tonight.


One day each year
We leave behind
Our worry
And our fear.

We focus on
Family and friends,
And it starts
Before dawn.

And sure it might
Break down
And not last
Until night.

But for some amount
Of time it does
And, really, it's the
Thought that counts.

Wednesday December 24th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the man in red.

Since you'll all be reading this on the 25th anyway, I shall wish you a very, very merry Christmas and hope that you're spending it with family and/or good friends.

I'm not sure what time we'll be up at Kat's parents place tomorrow to open presents, but if this morning was any indication it'll be shortly after Max wakes up. He got me out of bed around 7 and we were up there by 8. And that was just because he was excited to see his cousin.

Most mornings I'm doing well just to have breakfast in him by that time. Who knows what it'll be like tomorrow with the added motivation of presents.

I should get to sleep.


The man in red
Is on his sled
And moving rather fast.

He has to be
Because, you see,
This darkness will not last.

If he is seen
All will have been
Quite utterly for naught,

For in the light
We all just might
See his presents were bought.

Tuesday December 23rd, 2014

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the treat.

Everyone has now arrived safely. Becky and Natalie showed up at Kat's parents house around lunch, and my parents got to their hotel here in town mid-afternoon. Hurray for no additional complications on the road for anyone.

We all got together for dinner at Kat's parents house this evening. The kids, unsurprisingly, were the stars of the show. The food was also good.

Very much looking forward to the next few days of family togetherness.


Dipped in chocolate,
drizzled with maple syrup,
and filled - Give me ten.

*     *     *

"We'll only have one,
and just this once!" Nobody
believes this junk, right?

Monday December 22nd, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: holiday travel.

Always such a pain, it seems. Every year it feels like at least one person I know gets utterly screwed by this busiest time of the year for travel.

This year? Becky and Natalie. Their plane didn't come in last night due to fog. So the airline, brilliantly, sent another plane this morning to collect the passengers scheduled to leave early this morning... except it was smaller than the original, fully booked aircraft. Next available flight for those who couldn't board this one (which included Becky and Natalie, naturally)? December 24th.

So Becky decided to drive.

They got all the way from Dawson Creek to Merritt today, which leaves them about three more hours on the road before they get here tomorrow. At which point I imagine she will sleep for the rest of the day while Natalie runs around in circles with Max.

Because, you know, kids.


The roads are packed,
Airports overflowing -
How is anyone supposed
To get where they're going?

Is this supposed to be a bus,
Or a giant can of sardines?
Elbows in my ribs help me
Forget what this season means.

I think next year
I'll get comfy, chant an om
(Or five hundred), and simply
Refuse to leave my home.

Sunday December 21st, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the tree.

Hmm, Christmas is suddenly four days away. That doesn't seem right.

Looking forward to the arrival of Max's cousin Natalie tomorrow morning, along with her mom. Her grandma isn't going to be joining them, as she's quite unfortunately come down with a cold. I'm sad that she won't be with us for the holidays, but appreciate that she didn't want to infect all of us who would have been in close quarters with her.

The Christmas tree was put up and decorated this morning/early afternoon. Max was suitably excited.

If you're thinking to yourself, That seems like a pretty big tree, then, well, you're quite right. I'm impressed it only took me, Kat's dad, and Kat's brother to get it inside, upright, and stable.


I don't like it here,
It takes up too much space
And it feels like it's
Always getting in my face.
And beside,
Trees are not meant
To be inside.

You think what you will,
That's entirely your right.
You can say that you love
The way it looks at night.
But to me
It hates being here and I think the
Squirrels agree.

Saturday December 20th, 2014

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about a: snowflake. Or about snowflakes. Whichever.

I made a grand total of $24 in card sales this morning. Considering the fact that I paid $30 for the pleasure of being there, that ain't exactly ideal.

But I got paid for my product shoot (I'll be sure to share the link to the website once the pictures are up on it) and I got paid for the six boxes of apples. Throw in a $20 tip from the appreciative apple customer and it's not so bad.

Still, though. Twenty-four friggin' dollars.

Oh well.

And, hey, look! Christmas is right around the corner!


He's fully formed and ready
For his slow fall to begin,
And to get going with the
Eternal search for his twin

Friday December 19th, 2014

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about a: holiday tradition.

Max (sort of) helped me put up Christmas lights this afternoon at Kat's parents house. Mostly he took almost every opportunity presented by me being at the top of a ladder or chair or couch to run off and get into things he shouldn't be playing around with.

Still got them up though.

Ready to roll tomorrow morning for the very, absolutely certainly last market of 2014. It's been a good business year but I'm quite ready to finish it off.

Then I can start fully looking forward to family beginning to arrive on Monday.


Staying up late on Christmas Eve to keep watch for Santa's arrival was something that started when I was five. Shawn, my brother, was seven and even back then he made sure we were well equipped in case the big man showed his face. We've progressed from the slingshots and hockey sticks we had in our youth to shotguns and tire irons, but otherwise the tradition remains the same.

I imagine our yearly vigil will continue until we're finally able to make him pay for Shawn's pink bike and my crochet kit that he left us the Christmas before our watch began.

Thursday December 18th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the decoration.

I spent most of the morning getting ready for this Saturday's farmers market. Yup, I'm doing the last indoor market of the season in Penticton, despite what I said about being done. It's a combination of things.

The biggest is that I'm going up to give my client the CD of pictures. I'm also going to try to get a few shots of his market table for his website. So there's that.

We also have our usual Christmas order of six boxes of Ambrosia apples that one of our regular customers does every year. I'm bringing those along with me so that she'll have them just in time for giving them to her family as presents.

So, basically, I figured if I'm going up there anyway... I might as well try to sell some more cards and prints while I'm at it. I'm looking at any sales as bonus money, so there's no pressure in that regard.

Although it would still be nice to sell at least a few things so that I'm not crippled with boredom.


Hanging from the tree,
It looks around to see
Who is naughty -
And to what degree.

Its watchful eye
Will never ever lie.
Such a happy guy,
This sly Santa spy.

Wednesday December 17th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the snowman.

I don't think I'll be doing a proper countdown to Christmas like I have in previous years, but the prompts will still likely have a seasonal flavour for the next week. It's just that time of year.

Had Max with me in town this morning to run a few errands. I decided to drop by the hair salon to see if our hairstylist had an opening that we could conveniently slot into. As it happened, right then and there happened to work perfectly.

I went first while Max entertained himself (and me... and the hairstylist) by playing with the Christmas decorations in the window and commenting on passersby. He had to be coaxed onto my lap for his turn, but we got him there eventually.

Now I just need to shave and I might actually look presentable before the relatives start arriving.


Three fat snowmen are lurking
In the front yard;
Every day and every night,
They're standing guard.

Just one snowman is breathing,
So which could it be?
The secret to our safety...
It changes nightly.

Tuesday December 16th, 2014

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the apprentice.

Photography stuff went really well today, other than a bout of technical problems just as we began to take the product pictures after a round of test photos. At first we feared that my friend's flash trigger wasn't compatible with my camera and that something got fried.

Eventually, though, it was discovered we were merely victims of a battery apocalypse. The batteries in the trigger and both flashes needed replacing - for both the equipment we started with and their backups. I think the backup camera was the only thing with working batteries. Thankfully he had a huge stock on hand he could use to replace them all.

I'm extremely lucky to have found someone so knowledgeable (and generous with that knowledge) to walk me through this process. I'm an outdoor photographer who has struggled mightily with indoor shots. Plus I've never had this kind of equipment to work with.

Which I might not be able to say for too much longer. At least the cost of entry is a lot lower than I expected it to be. Well, it is when you've got someone who knows what he's doing on your side.

The pictures turned out great. There's still a bit of editing to be done (that's getting finished up tomorrow) but I think my client will be very, very pleased with the end results.

Heh, my client. What a delightfully strange thing to be able to say.


The equipment stops
working. Now the backups too?
Tiptoe for the door...

*     *     *

Master makes magic
for all the happy children.
Now I know his tricks.

Monday December 15th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: waiting for the storm.

All six packages were successfully acquired this morning, with minimal trouble at the border. Max is pretty excited about his new electric toothbrush. Or, rather, the idea of it. Not much of a fan of it when it's turned on.

We'll get there eventually. We need to do something, at any rate. He hates having his teeth brushed about as much as wicked witches hate water.

Looking forward to the photography shoot/lesson tomorrow afternoon. This could be the start of something big.


All throughout the valley people are huddled in shelters. Families, friends, complete strangers. Coming together in a desperate attempt to survive.

Some are calling it the Storm of the Century. Others say it will be worse than anything that has come before it in recorded history. Father Matthias called it the End of Days.

Whatever you wish to call it, the storm will be here soon. Its rumble has begun reverberating around the mountain tops already. So folks hide away, count their supplies, and wonder if there will be anything to return to once the storm has passed.

Not me, though. I've got no family, no friends, no pressing desire to see another sunrise. I'm sure I could have still found a shelter that would have taken me in, I just wasn't interested. I'd rather be up here, with camera in hand.

Somebody's gotta capture Mother Nature's temper tantrum for those who come later and wonder what it must have been like and it might as well be me.

Sunday December 14th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about something or someone that is: pounding.

No fog today, sadly. It was, however, very nice out. Particularly this afternoon, which I decided to take advantage of by taking Max to the park for the first time in a long time.

Heading across the border tomorrow morning to pick up a whole bunch of packages. Some Christmas presents, a few things for Max. I've honestly lost track of everything, which just means I'll need to take some time before I leave the house to figure it all out. Easier border crossings and all that good stuff.

And on Tuesday I'm working with our photographer friend on the product shots. Looking forward to both getting it and learning how it's done.


I grow weary of this seemingly constant battering. All day and all night, for as long as I can remember. Which, I suppose, isn't saying much.

With all this abuse I could very well be brain damaged by now.

Relief. A break. That's what is needed. Even a brief respite would be invaluable.

But no. If it is not one thing, it's another. Maniacal drops of rain. Frantic footsteps. Even the occasional bouts of hail. It is... unending.

It is no easy work, being the streets of this city.

Saturday December 13th, 2014

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about something that is: suffocating.

The fog here was pretty incredible today. Stuck around for the entire morning, finally began retreating across the lake in the afternoon, and came right back across after the sun set behind the mountains.

I was happy to have the time to take a few pictures. This one, of our street, was taken around noon:

I took this one from the east side of the lake just as the fog was starting to come back our way:

And this was one of several I took from the lookout on Anarchist Mountain, while I was trying to remember where exactly Osoyoos was supposed to be:

I'm kinda hoping for more of the same tomorrow, as there were a few photos I just missed due to the fog moving so fast. Plus I don't have anywhere I need to be, so I won't have to deal with driving in it.


I see it approaching
And think there's still time;
But now I'm surrounded
With nothing to climb

Friday December 12th, 2014

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the method in the madness.

I forget where I left off with that whole website product photo shoot business. I feel like I haven't mentioned it since, so I'm just going to run with that. You know, instead of actually looking back on the blog to see what I did or didn't say.

Anyway. I consulted with my photographer friend about the job, sent a quote to the vendor with what I figured I'd do the job for (with fingers crossed it would seem reasonable), and he accepted. We've had trouble figuring out a time to meet in order to hammer out the details and for me to get the products I'll be shooting, but that finally happened this evening in Penticton.

I now have a very good idea of what he'd like, no idea how to do it, and a tentative deadline of next Saturday to get it done by. Wheeeeee...

I also, thankfully, have sent an email to my friend to see if he's got some free time in the next week to help me out with this. Hopefully he does. Otherwise I'll just have to figure it out on my own.



"Twelve... Fourteen... Thirty-seven... Eighty-two... these house numbers make absolutely no sense!"

"Sure they do."

"And how do you figure that, genius?"

"You just have to account for the invisible houses in between all the ones we can see."

Thursday December 11th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: rushing.

I had Max with me in town this morning before going to gym time at the community center. By the end there were 13 other kids there (not including the twin boys who slept in their stroller the whole time) but Max didn't seem bothered by all the hubbub.

At one point he was bouncing a ball back and forth with one of the girls who seemed to be around his age. He was having a great time but eventually she ran off to see her mother.

"That one all done," Max observed.

So it appeared.

She did come back a little while later for a couple more passes. Then they both got distracted by other things.

It was pretty entertaining.


"I don't get it," Brad whined. He was never the fastest kid in school on a good day. This was not one of his better days.

"You're unbelievable," I muttered with a shake of my head. "Even Dmitri understood that joke. Right comrade?"

"You are nyet my comrade," he rumbled without looking up from his Russian to English dictionary.

"Dude's been in the country less than a month and already he has a better grasp of our language than you do," I said. "How many times were you dropped on your head before your first birthday?"

"Shut up, man. I got a better mark on yesterday's quiz, remember? So you're full of it."

"It was multiple choice," I reminded him. "You just got lucky. Give it another week and he'll be crushing you on those stupid quizzes."

"Enough talking," Dmitri said, putting his books away and standing up. "We will be late for class."

"Man, what's your hurry?" I asked, a big grin on my face. "You're always -"

"Nyet." Suddenly a finger was slowly wagging back and forth in front of my nose. "Nyet make that joke."

"What joke?" Brad asked.

"You make that joke, Dmitri break your nose." He held my gaze until I nodded my understanding. Or agreement. Whatever it was. Then he turned to Brad. "You laugh at that joke, Dmitri break your fingers."

"Dude, I don't even... okay, okay! You got it, comrade!"

"You are nyet my comrade."

We started walking to class then in a silence I found distinctly uncomfortable. Whenever I stole a glance at Dmitri I found him staring straight ahead, unblinking. I made the mistake of not looking at Brad, so I couldn't see what happened next coming.

We were only a few feet from Mr. Brown's chemistry lab when Brad started laughing hysterically.

"Oh man!" he wheezed, bracing himself against a nearby locker with one hand. "Now I get it! He's always in a hurry bec-"

His words were transformed into a howl of pain as Dmitri carried through on his promise without uttering a word.

Wednesday December 10th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the message in a bottle.

Feels weird writing about something other than secret agent shenanigans. I suppose leaving mine open to possible continuations means that I don't necessarily have to leave my character behind. We'll see if or when he returns.

There is a Christmas tree up at Kat's parents place but it hasn't been put up yet. I'm pretty sure Max is going to lose his mind once it's put in place.

And then lose it all over again when it's time to decorate it.


Kelsey was a lonely child.

Her parents both toiled at jobs that occupied more of their time than she considered to be reasonable. A lawyer for a mother, a surgeon for a father. It left few opportunities for family bonding.

Their work did at least pay for a very beautiful house, on a very large property. Her friends would have loved exploring all the hallways and rooms and fancy staircases. In the summer they would have played endlessly on the rolling green lawn, picked flowers from the gardens.

If she'd had any friends, that is.

There was a small pond at the rear of the estate that Kelsey liked to visit almost every day. At first she just sat in the grass and read her books. Later, she practiced singing songs she heard on the radio. She had a lovely voice, and no one to tell her so.

One day, for no reason she could explain, she brought an empty bottle to the pond's edge. She placed a folded piece of paper inside, with only the words Is anyone out there? written on it, and tossed it into the water. She stood there watching it bob up and down for almost an hour, then returned to the house.

The next day she fished the bottle out of the pond using the pool cleaner's net. She checked inside, found her letter and her words, put it back in the bottle, and lobbed it back in again. She repeated this process every day for nearly a year.

Then came a rainy, misty morning in November. Kelsey made her way to the water's edge once more, her rubber boots making squelching sounds as each step escaped the mud. She retrieved the bottle, checked the note as usual. Same words as every time before. Except the handwriting was not hers.

Kelsey was a frightened child.

Tuesday December 9th, 2014

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the epilogue.

They don't have to be related to Secret Agent theme week... but I'd be impressed if you managed to work with this prompt otherwise. Consider that a challenge, if you wish.

That was a fun week for me, and I hope you enjoyed it as well. We return to our usual prompt style tomorrow.


An offer is made:
Wealth beyond his wildest dreams.
Offer accepted.

*     *     *

One mission ends, the
next must now begin; Pine has
become the target.

Monday December 8th, 2014

The exercise:

The seventh and (mostly) final day of Secret Agent theme week arrives wanting to know the status of your mission - accomplished or failed?

I say mostly because I'm going to use tomorrow as an epilogue day, for those of us unable to wrap things up in the allotted time. Or to tie up any loose ends, that sort of thing.

Christmas is approaching... rather quickly all of a sudden.


Agent Pine has always considered himself to be a good man. Reliable, trustworthy, loyal. Perhaps to a fault on that last one. He has always done what his employer has asked of him, whether he personally agreed with the assignment or not. On many of those missions he had suffered greatly.

Now, as he strolls along the crowded sidewalk, ignoring the screaming police cars that everyone else seems unable to watch while also continuing to walk, he is not so certain. His jacket has been traded for a homeless man's tattered trench coat. He walks barefoot, having left his polished black dress shoes without accepting anything in return (the bum's shoes had been too small). Underneath the coat he holds his slacks up with both hands. The cable in his belt had afforded him a twelve storey head start on the guards but had to be abandoned in his haste.

He had not tried to trade pants with the vagrant. There was little time to spare. Also, Agent Pine had his limits.

Those limits are being tested even as he makes his way in the general direction of the safe house. His mind is not yet made up as to whether or not he will actually return there. Questions await his arrival and he is not ready to greet them with his usual candor.

Was the mission successful? Well, that depends on how you look at that sort of thing...

It would be noticed.

And that could only lead to even more questions.

He needs time to think. To answer questions of his own. About his present and his future. He needs room to breathe without anyone breathing down his neck.

He needs time to consider Rose Desmarais' very, very generous offer.

Sunday December 7th, 2014

The exercise:

Not sure how we're on day six of Secret Agent theme week already. Regardless, let us write about: the recovery.

Had a fun day with my family here. We made a return visit to the model railroad museum, as they were doing admission by donations to the food bank today. So instead of paying almost $20 to get the three of us in the door, we dropped off some food for a good cause.

While we were there we ran into four or five of Max's friends (with their parents, obviously) which was pretty nice. That included our bakery friends, who invited us over to their place afterward to hang out for a while.

This afternoon I hung out with Max, mostly at Kat's parents house, while Kat had a rest and some time to herself. We played with tools (toy ones and real ones), played the piano, watched TV... all sorts of fun things.

Now I am tired and ready for the bed times.


"You've got to be joking," Agent Pine says, leveling an accusing glare at the traitorous pen. Behind him the guards begin hammering on the door. He is certain that his tie will hold. The hinges, on the other hand...

"What have you done to me?" Rose asks, her voice distant. She is standing, slender arms hanging limp at her sides. Her dark hair has fallen over one eye but she can only blink lazily at it.

"To be entirely honest," Pine says as he comes around to her side of the desk, "I'm not sure. This has never happened to me before."

"I bet that's what you tell all the girls."

The joke gives him pause. This is a woman known for moving money for human traffickers, not her sense of humour.

"What have you been working on today?" he asks, shuffling through her papers to buy himself some time to think as much as to find useful evidence.

"Oh, you know, bills, budgets, black market deals," she says slowly, still seemingly unable to move her extremities. Pine wonders how long this will last. "The usual."

"Certainly." He pulls a camera out of the back pocket of his pants and begins snapping shots of anything that looks suspicious. Which happens to be pretty much everything. The door cracks loudly under the force of the guards' fury. "I was sent here to kill you, you know."

"I kind of figured as much," she says, her fingers beginning to twitch. Pine is too preoccupied with the documents to notice. "You're not doing a very good job of it."

"You're welcome," he says with a short laugh. The door begins to splinter, long, sharp talons of wood stretching in their direction. "What would you be willing to do in order to continue putting off seeing the intimate details of hell's hotel?"

After a slight pause, Rose answers. Her words come out a little faster now.

Agent Pine smiles.

The door explodes inward.

Saturday December 6th, 2014

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the complication.

Or, if you're joining us on our Secret Agent theme week journey, write some more. You can include a four line poem if you're able to (I wasn't).

I was rather disappointed with the craft fair today. Better location, more vendors, more foot traffic landed on the plus side of the equation. Freezing rain in the morning, more competition for dollars from better quality vendors, and fewer sales than last week on the minus.

The end result was okay, but I was hoping for better. I did sell another framed print though, so that helped. Not sure what my next steps might be at this point, but I've got time to figure that out.


Mrs. Rose Desmarais had spent the entirety of her morning studying financial reports - most of them legitimate, others less so - and now that lunch hour had arrived (twenty minutes ago) she was more than ready for a break.

Needless to say, she is not pleased to find a stranger - no matter the cost of his suit - entering her office.

"What. The. Hell." As mentioned, it had been a very long morning.

"And a fan-damned-tastic day to you too!" Pine calls out, twirling a pen in each hand as he approaches. His tie is no longer around his neck, having been used to secure the door knob to a nearby filing cabinet. His Texan accent is gone as well, with no audience present who he intends to leave alive.

"What do you think you're doing?" she demands as the distance between them shrinks faster than the marketing department's budget.

"I don't think," Pine replies with the barest suggestion of a smile. "I know."

He levels both pens at Rose's face as he leans across her desk. He clicks first the left, then the right to unleash a highly toxic combination. The left pen sprays its payload with a venomous hiss.

The right pen does nothing.

Friday December 5th, 2014

The exercise:

Write four (or more) lines of prose about: in deep.

If you're writing a week long story feel free to ignore the four line restriction. I certainly did. Just to show the difference between the two approaches, I tacked on my four line version at the end of mine.

Plus I was curious to see what it would have looked like had I not been feeling like I had too much story left to tell. So, yeah, I likely won't be sticking to a four line poem tomorrow either.

Pretty excited for the craft market tomorrow. It's running from 9am to 3pm so it's going to be a long day. Hopefully enough people come out to help the time pass a little faster.


By the time the elevator dinged open on the 36th floor, Agent Pine had employed all of his self-defense training in order to keep the increasingly enamored receptionist's hands off of him. It had been an effort to avoid looking for the surveillance camera that was surely capturing each advance and retreat. He could only hope that security was too busy eating lunch to notice the woman's unusual behavior.

Next time, he thinks as he slips out of the car while the doors are still opening, only two clicks of the pen.

He stops short when he sees the two men watching him from the far end of a narrow hallway. After a moment he realizes the corridor is average sized - it's the two behemoths that are messing with his perspective. They look like they spend most of their waking time in a weight room. Maybe some of their sleeping hours as well.

"Come on, silly," the receptionist chides him, sliding an arm through his and dragging him forward. "They don't bite."

"Hi Lily," the blond says with a shy smile.

"Who is this?" the redhead asks. No smile.

"This, my lovely boys, is an old high school friend of our dear Rosie Dee!" Lily leans into Agent Pine and very nearly giggles.

"Fellas," he offers as a greeting, avoiding eye contact with his escort.

"You don't have an appointment." Red doesn't need to consult a calendar in order to know this.

"Well no sir, I do not," Pine admits. "This is more of a surprise type visit fo-"

"Boring!" Lily announces and pulls him forward. "Let the two lovebirds have their reunion already. Good luck in there, hun!"

A nudge toward the closed door lurking a dozen feet beyond the guards. A loud smack on his rear before she turns away, calling over her shoulder, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"

Next time, he silently amends, at least bring an antidote in order to deal with overdoses.

He looks at the blond and gives him an apologetic shrug. The meathead gives him a big smile and a thumbs up in return. But as Agent Pine lets himself through the door the last thing he sees is the redhead pulling a cell phone out of his pocket.

*     *     *

The Four Line Version

Agent Pine escapes the elevator on the 36th floor, the receptionist hot on his heels. He'd given her one two many clicks of the mist - perhaps two - and considers himself lucky to have not lost any articles of clothing on the way up.

There are two over-sized men guarding the only door in the hallway he finds himself in and Pine offers up a quick prayer that they have more muscles than brains as his escort catches up and slips an arm through his with a suggestive laugh.

He begins to wonder if, between the cables secreted away in his belt and tie, he has enough length to escape the building through a window.

Thursday December 4th, 2014

The exercise:

Day three of Secret Agent Theme week brings us: the target.

Still don't really know where I'm going with mine. Hoping things start to become more clear after today's entry.

Edit: yup, that helped.


Most agents, after receiving their latest assignment, begin their surveillance from afar. Computers for background checks and whatever information that can be found online. Telescopes (and even the odd sniper scope) for long distance, unobtrusive viewing. They circle and circle, slowly drawing the net tight until at last the target is captured. Or eliminated.

Agent Pine, however, did not operate like most agents.

He preferred a more direct approach. When questioned by his supervisors about his methodology (usually after a mission which featured... complications), Agent Pine liked to say that he didn't want to give his mark a chance to see him coming. Element of surprise and all that.

In the case of the mission he referred to as The Paper Assignment, Agent Pine's opening gambit was to walk into the lobby of his target's building wearing an obviously expensive black suit and red silk tie and ask for her by name.

"Mrs. Rose Desmarais?" the receptionist asks, one perfectly plucked eyebrow rising ever so slightly.

"Ah, good, your ears work perfectly." He'd actually asked for Rosie Dee, throwing in a sly wink for good measure.

"Our Chief Financial Officer?"

"That's the one! She's done real well for herself, ain't she?" Agent Pine shakes his head in apparent disbelief.

"And do you have an appointment with Mrs. Desmarais?" The receptionist managed to turn the question into an accusation.

"Of course I do, darling!" Of course he did not.

"And your name would be...?"

"Let's cut the chitchat, shall we?" Agent Pine pulls a chequebook from inside his jacket, bringing a silver and red pen with it. He twirls the instrument idly between his fingers, pausing once, then again, to click out it's retractable tip while making sure it is aimed directly at the receptionist's face each time he does so. "How much do you need to leave your post and take me straight to the little lady?"

"Why you shameless fool! I cannot... possibly... unattended..." The receptionist gives her head a shake, blinks her eyes rapidly. Agent Pine gives her one more click of the invisible mist for good measure. "I... well, since you asked so very nicely... right this way, sir."

Wednesday December 3rd, 2014

The exercise:

Secret Agent Theme Week enters its second day with a request to write about: the mission.

I've got a list of seven prompts I'm planning to use this week, but I'm going to keep an eye on where you guys go with things to make sure they will all still be workable. Hopefully I've created a framework that allows lots of wiggle room though.

I was quite excited to learn this afternoon that I'll be attending another craft fair this weekend in Osoyoos. I had inquired last week about space and was told that I was second on their waiting list, but that they'd also yet to receive final confirmation from two of their intended vendors. Knowing how things can go off at the final minute for vendors, I was considering getting myself ready to be a last second replacement.

I'm glad that, instead, I've got a couple of days to get things sorted out. That includes putting in another rush order for more prints of four of my greeting cards. This is a more established market, in a better location than the one I attended last weekend. So if the weather is more agreeable, I should see quite a few more faces in front of my table.

Here's hoping, anyway.


He sits in a crowded coffee shop, sipping from a steaming mug while appearing to peruse the day's local newspaper. The noise level is nearing cacophony, between chatting customers and machines struggling to keep pace with the caffeine demands of the neighbourhood's populace.

The man doesn't seem bothered by the commotion, his attention rarely straying from the front page article before him. A steady finger reaches up to adjust his glasses at regular intervals, pushing them further up his nose or shifting them into more comfortable positions for his ears.

He has been coming to this shop several times a week for the last month, his routine hardly varying at all. Paper under his left arm, order a medium regular coffee with room for cream, add said cream and a squeeze of honey, and find a table by the window. Preferably, it seemed to the two staff who paid enough attention to notice, with a view of Main Street.

Another adjustment to his glasses, a slight frown. If any other patron had the chance to use those lenses they would likely complain of a headache, or at least wonder why only a small percentage of the words on the front page were legible while wearing them. Given enough time, they might have been able to decipher the message being transmitted.

But he, of course, never allowed them to go beyond his reach. They were too important for such carelessness.

Another frown, a deeper one this time. He puts down the paper, takes off the glasses, and places them carefully in an interior pocket of his jacket. He finishes his drink while clearly thinking of something else before vacating his table for an arriving college couple. The girl has more perfume than sense, the boy too busy staring at her legs to care.

He exits the shop, considers his surroundings for a few moments, and then disappears into the crowd.

Tuesday December 2nd, 2014

The exercise:

Okay, I promised you guys a theme for the next seven days, so here it is: secret agent week.

This was actually suggested by Greg a long, long time ago and I happened to come across it recently while searching the blog for something else. That comment, for the record, took me a long time to find. Obviously because I was actually looking for it this time.

Anyway, this will work the same way as previous theme weeks - the next seven days will feature connected prompts and you are welcome to join me in writing a story which continues through them. Alternatively, you can just write on each day's prompt individually, as we usually do.

Also? It's Two Haiku Tuesday, but feel free to skip that format this week if you're beginning your story today. I'm sticking with it, mostly because I think I need it to help me figure out where I'll be going with this theme.

Okay? Okay. Let's get to it.

Write two haiku (or however many paragraphs you need) about: the agent.


Average height, average
looks; he blends in by seeming
to be one of us

*     *     *

But with a toolkit
that would make James Bond swoon, he
is anything but

Monday December 1st, 2014

The exercise:

December? Already? What?

The final installment of 2014's yearlong prompt, Vancouver Irrealis? Today? What is going on around here?

Enough with the questions. Let us seek an answer or two. Let me bring you to the beginning... of the end.


After the dust finally settled and he had cleared enough filth from his eyes to be able to mostly see where he was going, Tristam began limping his way back to Rewand's apartment. He didn't know what to expect to be waiting for him there, if anything, but he had nowhere else to go.

Nkare, on the other hand, was a different story.

Turn left here, she whispered at the first intersection they came to. Tristam paused, turned his head to look in the indicated direction, then continued on his original route.

Debris littered the streets and sidewalks where the buildings had struggled to accept the intrusion of their counterparts. People lay crumpled on the ground every few feet. Some of them moaned. Most were silent.

Go to your own apartment, Nkare suggested. You know it's safe there.

"What do you have stored in my home?" Tristam countered, hobbling around the splintered remains of a Japanese maple tree. Silence was his only response.

With many lengthy breaks, most of them his idea, Tristam took over an hour to retrace his steps to Rewand's front door. He stood there for a long while. Maybe it would be too soon to see each other again. Maybe she would need more time to adjust to this new reality. Maybe...

She's dead.

"Shut up."

Go home. The codes are all there.

"No, you... what codes?"

Together we can rule this place. Go now, before they find you. The government will consider you a threat. A threat that needs to be eliminated.

"You're insane." Tristam raised his fist, ready to pound on the door. But he couldn't make it move.

I can help you avoid them. Keep us alive. You don't need her. Or the old man.

Still he couldn't close the distance between the oak and his hand. Muddy sweat began streaming down his face.

Even if she's alive she won't be the woman you knew. She'll be the other, I'm sure of it. She was too weak to win her battle.

"That's where I know you're wrong," Tristam muttered. "One final mistake to seal your fate, bitch."

He knocked.