Sunday May 31st, 2015

The exercise:

Write something about: what's his (or her) name?

You'll see where the inspiration came from in a minute. Let me just say that I texted Kat an abbreviated version of the tale this afternoon and was left feeling like it needed to be told in all its glory.

Quiet day off around these parts. Much needed. Back at it tomorrow.

Mine:

Max and I were hanging out at our favorite coffee shop this afternoon. He was having a snack, I was having an iced coffee (because it was too hot for the normal kind - go ahead and laugh at me, mom). There was a big family at the table next to us and as they were leaving the father gave us a smile and a wave.

This got Max's attention.

"What's that?" he asked as he watched them walk down the sidewalk.

"What's what?" I countered, though I was pretty sure I knew what he meant.

"That man."

"That man?" I'll admit: I was buying myself some time. "He's a man." Obviously I needed more time.

"He has a name?"

"I'm sure he does."

"What's his name?"

"I don't know, sweetie." I was about to say something about him being a stranger, or me not knowing who he was because I had never seen him before in my entire life, but Max cut me off.

"His name is..."

"You're giving him a name?" I was very much caught off guard by this.

"Uh huh."

"Okay. What's his name?"

"His name is... his name is... his name is... Suss!"

"Suss?"

"Sussssssss. Sussssss. Sussssssss. He's Sussman!"

Do not ask. I have no idea.

Saturday May 30th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: supply and demand.

45 minutes after opening. That's all it took to sell all 51 of our pints of strawberries this morning. The raspberries were sold before the market opened (we're allowed to sell to other vendors before 8:30).

After that? We sold far more tomato and pepper plants than we were expecting to sell. A few people bought my cards. And then a woman bought a print of my hummingbird picture.

It was a very good market.

Next week we're expecting our strawberries to peak. The week after that we'll have cherries for the first time (and we'll still have a good number of strawberries).

This is a good time of year around these parts.

In other positive news, Max appears to be totally fine. Quite the impressive bruise on his forehead, but we have to brush his hair aside to even see it and it doesn't seem to bother him. So good news all around.

Mine:

There is a demand
That we supply;
They say they want truth,
But eat up the lie...

Friday May 29th, 2015

The exercise:

Yeah, I'm not even bothering to tag this one as Four Line Prose day. Mine was not going to be contained within that limit. If yours does, go for it! Good for you! Not happening for me.

Spent most of today picking strawberries. Had a break after lunch while a thunderstorm passed through, which I spent with Max. Otherwise? Picking berries.

Grand total was 51 pints of strawberries (I did 37, Kat's dad helped me finish them off after dinner with an additional 14) and 1 pint of raspberries. Also collected a little bit of rhubarb, to go along with the tomato plants we'll be bringing to market tomorrow morning.

Shortly after I went back out this evening I got a call from Kat. I always worry that something has happened with Max every time she calls... and this time I was right. Hurray?

I guess he tripped and fell while he was out on our deck, giving his head a good knock. A rather large goose egg (I am unable to describe it even remotely accurately without going into hyperbole because he is my 2.5 year old son, so I'm leaving it at as 'rather large', okay?) showed up on his forehead, above his left eye. Going the better safe than sorry route, Kat and her mom took him up to the emergency room in Oliver to get him checked out.

The doctor saw nothing to worry about, said it was unlikely to be a concussion, and back home they came. We'll keep a close(r) eye on him for the next half a day or so, but the swelling has gone down a lot already and he seems to be doing fine.

Bullet dodged. Time for bed.

But first: The Crossing, Part Three.

Mine:

The four horsemen saw the thick, black smoke rising above the ruins of Kingstown long before they passed through what remained of its main gate. Nothing had been said, for they were not surprised. They had seen far too much to be surprised.

"It would appear that those who sought to delay us succeeded in their goal," Famine observed as they entered the rubble-strewn town square.

"We cannot return to Master without first settling this matter." Death looked at each of his compatriots in turn, not looking away until he received a nod of agreement. "Good. We shall bring Him their heads."

"Let us have another look at the letter," War said with an eagerness he had no interest in hiding. The bloodlust was upon him already.

Pestilence reached into his cloak and extracted their sole piece of evidence. It was still clutched in the ferryman's withered hand - the fool had attempted to drop the bag of gold coins that accompanied it into the river without any of the riders noticing.

Pestilence had put an arrow through the man's hand - plague, he thought - and, after they had extracted all the information the man had to give them, Death had severed it just below the wrist, before the infection could spread to the rest of his body. They had left him that way, a plain warning to others who might think to stand in their way.

"The letter is unsigned," Pestilence said, "but that matters little. It is handwritten."

"And the paper itself can be traced," War said happily. "By me, at least."

"You and your stupid bloodhound nose," Famine hissed.

"What was that, Fame?"

"I said let loose your hounds of war, mongrel." Famine paused, the spectre of a smile appearing on his face. "Yes, Mongrel. Let loose your hounds and let us find these men."

"Women, actually." War said, some of his previous enthusiasm draining from his voice as he contemplated his new nickname - as well as the possibility of having to hear it for the rest of eternity. Famine's smile grew all the wider, revealing yellowed and broken teeth. That was the first time in ages his compatriot had spoken to him without use of his hated moniker.

"It matters not," Death declared. "Point us in the direction we got next and let us be gone from this place."

"Fine, Dee." War turned his red horse in a slow circle as the others watched without comment. Then he did a second full circle, which caused the others to exchange puzzled glances. When he began a third rotation Pestilence opened his mouth to speak but War cut him off. "This way."

"You're certain?" Pestilence asked.

"Doubt me now if you wish, Pest," War said, some of his earlier good humour returning. "You will not in two days' time."

With that he urged his mount in the direction he had indicated. And, after a brief (but not unnoticed) pause, the others followed.

Thursday May 28th, 2015

The exercise: 

I had my orientation/training day today at Town Hall and the Community Centre. My head is stuffed to nearly bursting with information right now. Otherwise, it went pretty well - everyone was really nice and welcoming.

After dinner I needed some peace and quiet so I went out and weeded the last of our onions and leeks (Kat had already done the rest), as well as most of our broccoli plants. That was much needed - both for the garden and myself.

Anyway, let's keep this experiment going with: The Crossing, Part Two. 

Mine: 

“You seem… nervous.” Pestilence told the boatman as he poled the ferry across the river with slow, steady strokes. The man grunted, either in effort or reply, and Pestilence sighed quietly. “With good reason, I would suggest."

“You did keep us waiting for an awful long time,” War added, then laughed. It was a sharp, short thing that held no joy. “Even by our standards!" 

“I told you,” the man said as he brought the pole forward once again. “I was delayed.”

“Yes, you did tell us that,” Death said. He was standing in the middle of the ferry, holding on to his scythe with his left hand. Had he have been another passenger, the boatman might have suggested this one was afraid of the water surrounding them. But he was who he was, so the boatman wisely kept that thought to himself. “But you did not apologize.”

“Wasn’t my fault,” the man muttered. “Ain’t my fault, ain’t my apology you need.”

“Then who, dear mortal, should we be… requesting… our apology from?” Famine tilted his head to the side as he stepped closer. “Is that, perhaps, something you can provide us with?”

“It would be the fair thing to do,” War added. “After all, you did keep us waiting for so long. If morning had arrived before you did…”

“But it didn’t, did it?” The man countered with more righteousness than he had any right to feel. “My agreement was to get you across the river before morning, and that’s what I’m doing. So as far as I can see I did nothing wrong, even if I wasn’t there at the exact second you showed up on the bank. I can’t imagine you’ll get to Kingstown much later than you would have if I hadn’t been otherwise preoccupied.”

“Kingstown?” Death asked, the name of the four horsemen’s destination hanging from his lips like an icicle.

“Or, you know, wherever it is that you’re going.” The boatman shifted his attention back to his work as sweat appeared on his brow. “How should I know, right?”

In the silence that followed glances were exchanged, even among the horses. Within seconds a decision was reached, without so much as a nod or a hand signal. Even the boatman felt it.

“What?” he asked, his voice suddenly lacking the bravado it had displayed moments earlier.

“You will tell us why you were delayed,” Pestilence said, stepping back and notching one of his putrid arrows in his black bow. “And, much more importantly, you will tell us who it was that delayed you.”

Wednesday May 27th, 2015

The exercise:

As hinted at in yesterday's post, I'm trying something different today. Well, starting today - and continuing into tomorrow and Friday.

Welcome to the first edition of A Tale In Three Parts.

Basic idea: everybody who wants to join in gets to tell a story, starting from the same prompt, over the course of three days. The hope is that it will allow each of us to put together something a little longer, a little more involved, a little more intricate, that what we cram into a single day's prompt response. Plus it allows for some time between entries to mull things over and for new ideas to emerge that may have remained hidden had the entire tale been written in one sitting.

And because I don't actually have three days in a row that don't run into either 4 line poem, haiku, or 4 line prose days, I figured Wednesday to Friday was our best bet for this. You're welcome to limit yourself to four lines on Friday (I'm pretty sure I won't) but feel free to ignore the limit in favor of bringing your tale to a proper conclusion.

If this works and you guys are in favor of doing it again, I'm thinking I'll bring it back every couple of months or so, with a new prompt each time. I'll be asking for your feedback on Friday or Saturday to see what you think.

Anyway. Without further ado, let's get this started with: The Crossing, Part One.

Mine:

A thick fog clung to the river in the dark, dead of night. On the eastern bank four cloaked figures stood next to their horses in a silence that seemed to have existed since the dawn of time. They did not shift from side to side, nor fidget with their equipment. Not even their breathing changed. But still their impatience could be felt in the air.


For the ferryman was late.

“Charon would not keep us waiting like this,” the figure standing next to the white horse said at last.

“This is not the Styx, Pest.” The reply came from within the hood of the figure waiting next to the ashen horse.

“Not yet, Dee,” Pestilence replied with a laugh that rattled like dry bones in a dice bag. The other figures turned their gazes toward him but said nothing. Even after centuries of travelling together they still had not grown used to his sense of humour.

“The boatman will come,” Death announced some time later. “He dare not leave us stranded here.”

“No, the matter was arranged by Master,” the figure next to the black horse whispered. “The boatman knows the cost of failing to live up to his end of the agreement.”

“Indeed, Fame,” the final figure said, ignoring Famine’s glare. Innumerable threats had not yet vanquished the hated nickname, so he had recently given up on that tactic. He had yet to decide on an alternative method. “Eventually, our ferryman will arrive.”

“And then, War?” Famine asked through gritted teeth. It was all the worse that the rider of the red horse was the only member of the group without a nickname.

“He will explain himself, Fame.” War gripped the hilt of the great sword at his hip with a gloved hand and shrugged slightly. “One way or another, he will explain himself.”

“Look.” Death extended a long, emaciated arm toward the river, a lone, pale finger extending from the sleeve of his cloak. The others did as instructed and a sound that may have been a contented sigh in another setting, from another group of travellers, arose as they saw the outline of the ferry emerging from the fog. “He comes at last.”

Tuesday May 26th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: Harry Potter.

No reason that I can remember. I think I was mulling over something to do with magic or magicians (already used most things associated with that) when it occurred to me that I had never used dear Harry as a prompt.

So here we are.

This morning Kat and I did our first full, proper strawberry pick of the season. The end result was just over 8.5 pounds, which Max and I delivered to the bakery after lunch. The harvest will be larger for the next three or four picks, hold steady for a pick or two, then gradually decline. I'm looking forward to seeing what we're able to bring to the market this Saturday.

We did some planting (potatoes) and weeding in the garden afterward, and this evening I finally got around to weeding the rhubarb and one part of our raspberry patch. It was so, so nice to do something unrelated to the strawberries.

Oh, heads up: something a little different is coming tomorrow. If all goes well I'd like to make it a reoccurring thing. We shall see.

Mine:

Wand at the ready,
he stands before the Dark Lord.
"Uh... where's Hermione?"

*     *     *

His tell-tale scar makes
it nearly impossible
to cheat on Ginny

Monday May 25th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: a fine line.

Spent the morning with Max while Kat got some work done in the garden. Was feeling a little better after a decent night's sleep but most of that had faded away by mid-afternoon. So that ended up being nap time for me.

After dinner I went out and finished mulching the fifth row of the strawberries. There are eight rows in total but the final two rows have never produced much in the way of berries, for whatever reason. I'm ignoring those and I'm mostly okay with that.

Row number six? It's more patchy. I'm tempted to weed/mulch portions of it but if I'm being honest with myself I've run out of time. I need to shift my focus to harvesting the strawberries and getting other stuff done around the farm.

Which means, for better or for worse, the mulching of strawberries is done for this year.

Mine:

"What do you think?"

"Of what?"

"What do you mean, Of what? This! Right here!"

"That? It's just a line on an otherwise blank piece of paper."

"Yes, but what do you think of the line?"

"... I have no idea how to answer that question."

"Is it a good line? Is it a poor line? Is it... is it a fine line?"

"... Remind me to never cut you off chocolate again."

Sunday May 24th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about something or someone that is: devious.

Spent most of the day wallowing in my sickness, so not much of interest to share. I'll spare you the details and just get to the creative writing portion of today's post.

Mine:

Each weekday morning, directly after arriving at his desk, Evan sits in his chair and closes his eyes. He needs those quiet moments, before the rest of the office arrives. To reattain serenity after a frenzied commute and to prepare himself for the work ahead. It's why he is always early, every single day.

That, at least, is the story he tells the rest of us. I haven't believed a word of it since the events of last Tuesday.

I know he's responsible for those missing files that cost me the Jefferson contract. Which cost me my promotion. Which put him ahead of me in line for said promotion.

I just can't prove it.

Not yet, anyway.

It's taken me a few days to get everything I need, but I'm ready now. Tomorrow morning Evan will arrive before anyone else, as usual. He will do something to sabotage a coworker he views as competition, like I'm fairly certain he always does. And he'll be back at his desk, bashing away at his keyboard, before anyone else walks through the door.

Or so he will believe.

The reality will be much different. I will be here. I will capture video recordings of his wrongdoings. I will turn it in and be hailed as a hero. My promotion will be... well, mine.

My disguise is perfect. He won't even give the new potted plant next to his desk a second glance. And that's where I'll be, watching his every move.

You're going down, Evan. All before the first pot of coffee is even ready.

I sure hope so, anyway. I don't really want to spend my whole day squished in there.

Saturday May 23rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: giving up.

Got some more work done in the strawberries this morning, despite coming down with the cold Max picked up in the last couple days. It's fun working in 30 degree heat while suffering from a cold.

Wait, did I say fun? I meant... something I'm not going to say here.

Anyway. I think the end is in sight with the strawberry patch. Just in time for the harvest to begin in earnest.

Mine:

Promises broken, lies kept hidden,
All those times you just couldn't be true;
I've forgiven too many wrongs - now
It's time for me to give up on you.

Friday May 22nd, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose that have something to do with: overflowing.

I scrounged up about two pints (maybe a pound and a half?) of strawberries this morning, to go along with a handful of raspberries. So, uh, not really enough to justify going to the farmers market tomorrow morning.

We're skipping this weekend, with the expectation that by next Saturday we will have more than enough berries to make the trip worth our while. We'll probably bring along any remaining tomato plants that still look good, but the berries will obviously be the focus.

In other news, Max got me out of bed at 5:15 this morning. There was no way he was making it through the day on that little sleep, so he had a mid-afternoon nap. As I'm typing this it is shortly before midnight and he is just now settling down for sleep.

This is why we usually don't let him have naps anymore.

Mine:

She walks slowly through the market, the basket in her hand causing her to tilt dangerously to her right. It is as though her left foot is barely touching the ground when it is its turn to inch her onward. Apples, potatoes, onions, beets; they appear to be working together to try to tip her sideways.

Surely it is merely a matter of time before she falls... ah, never mind - a nudge from an absent-minded fellow shopper is all it took to correct the issue.

Thursday May 21st, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: perfection.

Kat and I transplanted all of our tomato plants into the garden this morning. Just the two of us. Didn't even take all morning.

I guess that's what happens when you have fifty-something plants instead of three hundred-something plants.

Pretty sure I can get used to this reducing the size of our garden thing.

After dinner I finished spot weeding the next row of strawberries and almost managed to get it fully mulched as well. It got dark just a little too soon for that to happen. But I was happy to have gotten so much done so quickly.

But at what cost...

Mine:

It's really hard for me to only partially weed the remaining strawberries. Like, really, really hard.

I know there's no other choice at this point. It has to get done fast. I'm going through tomorrow morning for the first pick of the year - there won't be much, but that will change quickly. More and more berries will be turning red and ripe every day and they need mulch to rest on, not dirt.

So that means I have to pull the worst of the weeds, the stuff that would prevent mulch from getting to where it needs to go, and leave the rest. I have to be firm with myself. I can't get back into the habit of finding every last weed, untangling them one by one from the plants I'm trying to help. If I do that I'll end up finishing off the final row around the same time the berries are done for the season.

But, for me, that means letting go. Letting go of this picture in my mind of how I want the rows to look. Letting go of this neat and tidy ideal and accepting that there will be weeds poking up here and there. Letting go... of perfection.

Honestly, for the rows to look how I want them to before it's time to start harvesting from them I'd need two full time helpers. But it's just me. So I need to get it done, not perfectly but close enough, and move on.

But oh, at what cost...

Wednesday May 20th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: eyes.

Finished mulching the third row of strawberries this morning, then moved on to the next section. Did a bit of spot weeding here and there and put some mulch in as well. Going to do my best to get the remaining three rows done as quickly as possible, as those berries are starting to turn red already.

And, you know, there's other stuff to get done around here besides strawberries.

Mine:

He watches as they pass,
So unaware
Of his glare.
Walking here,
Running there,
So unaware
Of his glare
As he watches.
Yes, he watches.

Twin hidden holes
Are just right
For his height.
All day and all night,
All are within his sight,
For his height
Is just right
For those twin hidden holes -
His twin hidden holes.

His rage is unchecked
Toward all in his view.
Him, him, and her too.
Yes, it's true,
Even you,
If you too
Have come into his view
And felt the heat from his rage,
His unchecked rage.

Tuesday May 19th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about something or someone that is: frivolous.

Finished weeding the third row of strawberries this morning and got some mulch down as well. Hopefully I can mostly focus on mulching from here on in, with a little bit of spot weeding in the remaining rows.

This afternoon I drove up to Penticton to run a few errands, most of which were successfully completed. It was a lot of different stops and I ended up coming home feeling pretty tired.

So... maybe I should get some sleep?

Edit: apparently I meant on the couch. I think I shall go get some more sleep in bed now.

Mine:

She thought the matter
silly, but he knew that clown
college was no joke

*     *     *

No matter what they
say, no purchase at this store
is truly worthwhile

Monday May 18th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the commission.

I was colouring with Max on the deck this afternoon when the following conversation took place:

Mine:

"What do you want me to draw?" I asked, blue crayon in hand.

"Umm... a crab."

"A crab?"

"Two crabs!"

I should have known better than to ask.

"Okay, two crabs," I said, switching to a red crayon.

"Two crabs fixing the wood on the wall."

"Okay... two crabs. Fixing the wood. On the wall."

"With tools!"

"Two crabs fixing the wood on the wall with tools?"

"Yeah!"

There wasn't much else to say at that point, so I got to work. I am pretty crap terrible at drawing, by the way. But I'm making an effort to both tell Max that and to make sure he knows that it doesn't matter - drawing doesn't have to be good, it can just be fun.

But for the record? The end result of this particular effort was awful.

That's okay though. Because Max thought it was great.

Also: a little while later, after we had doodled several other things, he brought his attention back to this particular drawing and announced that the two crabs needed a toolbox. So I drew them one.

I think it really brought the whole thing together quite nicely.

Sunday May 17th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about something or someone that is: efficient.

We had one heckuva thunder and lightning storm overnight, the remnants of which lingered throughout this morning. So we stayed inside until after lunch, as that was when the rain finally stopped for (mostly) good.

Kat and I took Max into town for tea and coffee and groceries before returning home for dinner. Despite waking up before six this morning, Max wanted to dig in the dirt in the backyard after dinner so we joined him - though our digging was more like weeding, and more concentrated in our herb and veggie boxes.

He is fast asleep now though (it's just after 8:30 as I type this), and I am crossing my fingers that he'll find a way to sleep in a little bit later tomorrow morning.

Mine:

"Hello?"

"It's done."

"Who is... oh, it's you." I allow myself a moment to gather my thoughts. "That was much faster than I was expecting."

"Like I said when you hired me... I'm very efficient." The man's voice is devoid of emotion. It gives me the creeps.

"Well... that's great. So the matter has been taken care of?" I feel stupid even asking, but some part of me needs to hear the confirmation.

"In its entirety." I don't like the way he said that.

"My home is back in order?" I'm chewing on my bottom lip. I know I am. But I can't stop it.

"Clean as the day you moved in."

"And my kids?" Why am I even asking?  Probably because I don't trust this man that I've never met face to face.

"They were the cause of the problem - they confessed as much."

"Confessed?"

"Yes. Rest assured, you will not have this problem again."

"How... how can you be so certain of that?" Stop asking questions, idiot. End this conversation already.

"The children have been taken care of."

"What... what does that mean? What exactly does that mean?"

"Like myself, you will not be hearing from them again."

And, just like that, the line goes dead.

Saturday May 16th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem that begins with: The night after...

Screw it, couldn't resist the link to yesterday's prompt.

Had a pretty reasonable market this morning. We brought 14 crates of tomato plants and sold just under 8 of them. All the rhubarb went as well, but I didn't pick all that much of it.

Regardless, it was nice to be back. Hopefully next weekend we'll have the first of our raspberries and strawberries to bring with us. We just need a hot week to get them ripe and the forecast, with a projection of 24s and 25s ahead of us, seems to be in agreement on this one.

Mine:

The night after you left,
Escorted by Death,
I contemplated life...
Then picked up my knife.

Friday May 15th, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose, the first of which begins with: The night before...

Got a lot of weeding done in the strawberries this morning. Hung out with Max at the start of the afternoon, helped Kat sort tomato plants for tomorrow's farmers market late afternoon. Packed the truck and picked rhubarb for the market after dinner.

And now... I sleep.

But before I nod off, allow me a moment to say: Happy birthday Mom! Hope you had a fantastic day. Thank you for all that you've done for all of us.

Mine:

The night before the first farmers market of the year is a swirling, chaotic combination of emotions. There is excitement, of course. But there is also anxiety (am I forgetting something?), anticipation, anxiety (am I forgetting something important?),worry/curiosity (how much of what we're bringing will we sell?), and resignation (okay, I'm definitely forgetting something but I am choosing to be okay with that, all right?).

And then there's the feeling you get when you're looking for your third and final market table in order to load it onto the truck and you see your market tent (provider of shade, among other duties) and you think, "Oh yeah... I should probably bring that too."

Thursday May 14th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: ulterior motives.

Man, that has to be the first time I've typed ulterior. It does not look like it is spelled correctly. At all.

Anyway. I did some more weeding of the strawberries this morning and then this afternoon I mulched all that I've managed to weed so far. Which is about two and a half rows.

Thankfully, that's some of the worst areas to deal with. Hopefully once I finish this third row things will move along a bit quicker.

Anyway, the second. On to my ulterior motives...

Mine:

Two weeks ago today I got a phone call to invite me in to interview for a job that I'd applied for... I think the previous Friday. Or maybe two Fridays before that? Either way. It was nothing full time, or anything even close to that. It was an opening in the relief pool for the Town of Osoyoos, to cover absences at Town Hall and the community center.

Just something small to help supplement the farm income in the summer and another way to make money in the winter - that was the reasoning behind applying in the first place. The interview, as it turned out, wasn't scheduled until this Tuesday. I don't know if I've ever had to wait a week and a half between finding out I had an interview and actually doing it.

Let me just say that I spent most of the intervening period avoiding thinking about it.

I had the interview Tuesday morning (thus, two haiku about interview questions) and I felt like it went pretty well. I didn't get stuck on any questions and the two interviewers seemed to like my answers, a couple of them in particular.

On Wednesday a lot of mental space was expended on second guessing my answers (oh hey, that was the day we wrote about an interview answer, wasn't it?) and wishing I'd thought of this thing to say or that story to share.

This morning I got a phone call while I was weeding the strawberries, informing me that I'd been chosen for one of the two additions to the relief pool. So I figured maybe it was time to explain what has been going on behind the scenes.

It's not going to be a lot of hours, as assignments are handed out in order of seniority and I, obviously, will be sharing the bottom rung of that ladder with my fellow co-hire. But we're going to be brought in for a training session later this month and then after that... I guess we'll see how it goes.

I don't really want a whole lot of work before strawberries are finished, and then even after that I'd be happy with minimal calls until autumn arrives. My hope, at this point, is to just start to slowly accrue seniority. Maybe later (as in years later) I might look to transition into something more full time with the town, depending on what sort of direction we end up going in with the farm.

Right, right now though? I'm just pleased to have done well enough in my interview for them to have chosen to bring me on board.

Wednesday May 13th, 2015

The exercise:

Write an (or about an): interview answer.

Feel free to answer a question you asked in haiku form yesterday and consider this a little two day theme if you wish. Or you can take this in another direction entirely. Up to you, as always.

Me? I'm answering the question in my first haiku.

Mine:

"Is... this a hypothetical question, or...?" I trail off because my brain has frozen and I can't come up with the opposite of hypothetical.

"I think you meant theoretical," the interviewer (Oh good, I've blanked on his name as well) replies with a wan smile. "Regardless, just answer the question please."

"Well... I guess my response - to the client, that is - would depend on who was asking." I'm trying to buy myself some time as my brain slowly comes back online.

"How so?" The smile has disappeared now. I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not.

"If it was just some guy my answer would be a quick and forceful No," I tell Ian. Yes, that's his name. Good. "You don't get involved in something like that with some blue-collar nobody, obviously."

"Mmhmm. Except we don't take on cases for nobodies."

"Of course not. Therefore my response would be dictated by two things." I lean forward and give Ian my hardest stare. "First: just how high up in society is this client? Clearly, the higher he or she goes, the more the scales tip towards Yes."

"And your second... consideration?"

"I'm surprised I even have to say it, Ian." I smile and relax back into my chair. "Before I bury any bodies, I'd want to know exactly how much the client plans on paying me to do his or her dirty work."

"Indeed." Ian regards me with a face devoid of expression for about five seconds longer than I'm comfortable with. Then he smiles, a dark and dangerous thing, and says, "Welcome to the firm, Mr. Lee."

Tuesday May 12th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: interview questions.

Alternatively: write two interview questions in haiku form.

Or, you know, one of each. Whatever. I'm tired.

Mine:

What would you do if
a client wanted you to
bury the body?

*     *     *

My greatest weakness?
Isn't it clear? I suck at
doing interviews.

Monday May 11th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: perfume.

Did a little more weeding in the strawberries this morning before switching to potting up tomato plants. We've decided that we've got enough of them to make it worth attending this Saturday's farmers market, so we needed to get that done today in order for them to have enough time to get established in their new homes.

And with Kat putting in a shift this afternoon we finished what needs to be done for now. We'll need to do the rest of the seedlings for the following weekend and for our own garden, but that can wait.

So now I shall focus on the strawberries for the rest of the week, until it's time to start preparing for our first market of the year.

Mine:

Pushing through a feisty crowd -
It's too much, too rough, too loud;
But then right out of the blue
I catch a scent and know it's you.

I allow it to lead the way,
Cutting through this sea of gray
Until I am at your side,
Grateful for your fragrant guide.

Sunday May 10th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: all that remains.

Lazed around the house with my family this morning. We took Max to the park in the afternoon. Enjoyed a tasty Mother's Day dinner of slow-cooked short ribs.

It was a good day. Pretty sure Kat enjoyed it as well.

Mine:

Dad always had the same thing for cereal every day. The only exceptions that I can remember are the mornings when Mom made pancakes for the whole family. Of course Dad joined in - he was a big part of that whole family deal we had going on - but on more than a few of those occasions I caught him looking longingly at the cereal cupboard.

It was the same cereal each morning, otherwise, with his usual additions. A handful of raisins, a smaller handful of cashews, and an exact number of almonds. Dad was not a superstitious man, but he refused to add 13 almonds to his bowl - it had to be 12 or 14 or, if he was staring down a big day, 15.

Never 13.

I remember a couple of times when there were 13 nuts left in the bag. Dad would count out 12, look at the remaining almond, and pop it in his mouth.

"What's the difference?" I would ask.

"I guess there isn't any, really," he'd reply with an embarrassed shrug.

He knew he was being silly. That didn't stop him from doing it though.

Dad ate his breakfast carefully, always making sure that each spoonful of cereal contained at least one raisin or cashew or precious almond. But not too many! After all, he didn't want to be left staring down at a bowl that held the remains of only a few bits of cereal.

And milk, of course.

But then, the milk mattered about as much to him as the cereal did.

Saturday May 9th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: somniloquy.

Because Max talks in his sleep sometimes and it almost always makes me laugh. I'm disappointed when I don't catch all of what he says, especially when what I do hear is enough for me to know that the whole thing was likely hilarious.

Had a productive morning of yard work, including pruning the two walnut trees in the front yard and mowing the lawn. Still have a few things left to do but I feel like we're more on top of things than we have been in previous years.

We rested for a bit after lunch before going on a short family walk. Max has been crashing pretty hard late afternoon now that he's more or less dropped his midday nap, so we couldn't stay out for too long. It was still nice though.

More time away from the garden tomorrow in order to relax and celebrate Mother's Day.

Mine:

The words are spilling out,
From somewhere deep inside.
Should you call the cops?
I'll let you decide.

Friday May 8th, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about something that is: constricted.

Max slept from 6pm to 8pm this evening, waking to the decision that he had just had a nap and that he was not in fact ready to stay in bed until morning. So he ended up staying up until 10:30, which pretty much obliterated any chance of Kat and I watching a movie together this evening.

So now I am grumpy and ready to go to bed.

Mine:

Don't panic, just stay cool, man. You got this, you got this, you got this. Keep breathing, that's all you gotta do, just one breath after another after another.

This boa's gotta fall asleep eventually... right?

Thursday May 7th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something which takes place in a: backyard.

More strawberries weeded, this time with a snake for company. So, you  know, not too many more strawberry plants were weeded.

Max turned 2.5 years old today. That would be this guy:


I took that a couple of weeks ago while he was helping us mulch the flower garden in our backyard. I have more recent pictures (because of course I do) but that one sums him up best. Well, maybe other than the ones I have of him on the tractor.

But I'll save that for another day.

Mine:

Mikey was running his mouth while he worked the barbeque and the rest of us worked our beers. I don't think none of us were really listening to him, but that ain't unusual. In fact, I'd say that's pretty standard.

Anyway. The beer was cheap and cold and on a hot day a guy can't ask for much more than that. Well, maybe for Mikey to shut his trap for a minute or two so that maybe somebody else could get a word in edgewise, but I'm not a greedy man.

The smells coming out of that big barbeque of his weren't exactly mouthwatering, but there was enough meat on the grill to feed a small army. And his backyard was nice and private, what with all the hedges and tall fences he'd put in. That would have to do. It wasn't like we could all go out and hit up the nearest Denny's for lunch.

Not the way we were armed.

Wednesday May 6th, 2015

The exercise:

It is time to get random. Go find a song as randomly as you can manage and procure its first line. Let us know which one you've borrowed and then use it as the opening line of your poetry or prose. Then it's all yours from there - take it wherever your imagination directs you to go!

The wind has been howling all day here. It's driving me a little crazy. Also: it made mulching the strawberries this morning about as fun as poking myself in the eye with a needle. Repeatedly.

I still got some done, though not as much as I would have liked. This afternoon I was with Max and I attempted to pot up some tomato plants with him. Managed to get one tray done which is... better than no trays.

After that we joined Kat in the garden and I helped in our attempts to stay on top of the weeds. As we do every year.

Max was with us for about five minutes before he wandered off to see what Grandma was doing with the horses. Which was great, as he was happy and we were able to get some work done at a reasonable rate of speed.

Mine:

Teardrop Windows by Benjamin Gibbard

"Teardrop windows crying in the sky," she said without provocation. "I can't pass by them without stopping to stare for at least a little while. I don't know how everyone else fails to notice them."

"Hmm." I was aiming for agreement without being explicit. I honestly had no idea what the hell she was talking about.

"I'm glad you can appreciate their sadness and beauty," she said with a wistful smile. I guess I had succeeded in my mumbled effort. "I think that the others ignore them because they convey a truth which the vast majority of our population simply are not comfortable with."

"Yeah." I tried to follow her gaze, hoping to find clouds. What I saw instead was a sky filled with blue. I kept looking where I thought she was staring and nodded in a long, unhurried motion.

"I mean, it's so clear, isn't it? When you stop to consider them for even a moment?" I had started to sweat by then, the grumblings of passersby as they maneuvered around us growing louder and more intimidating in my ears. "Obviously we have imposed too much of our will on our planet! Even the buildings are beginning to cry at the sight of all the nature we have forced them to smother!"

"Right!" She snapped her head toward me but I forced myself to adjust my gaze to the skyscraper she must have been staring at. I hadn't meant for that to sound so... relieved. "It's like... a wonder the people walking beneath those windows haven't drowned. By now. In their own shame."

"So true, baby. Couldn't have said it better myself." She squeezed my hand tightly and returned to her study of windows that had never shed a tear since the day they'd been constructed. I released a long breath out of my nostrils, letting go of panic and stress, and tried to relax.

There was still hope I'd get to see the inside of her apartment. And that was all I and, more importantly, my employer really cared about.

Tuesday May 5th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: young love.

It's a good thing I looked at the post list before opening up a new posting form, as previous to that I was very convinced that today is Monday. I was honestly like, 'What? Today is Tuesday? God, I have no idea what day it is...'

No clue how I managed that one. Kat worked with the kids today, which is strictly a Tuesday thing. Just before she went to bed I was talking to Kat about the walk she's doing with Max tomorrow morning, which I was fully aware was on the calendar for Wednesday.

Anyway. I'm feeling relieved it's haiku day, as I was struggling to come up with a prompt for longer form writing - or at least a topic that inspired me to create something longer than 6 lines long. So hurray for that?

Mine:

Tender and cautious,
uncertain at every step;
this is how it starts

*     *     *

Walking hand in hand,
exploring this great big world -
toddlers together

Monday May 4th, 2015

The exercise:

It is time for the fifth installment in 2015's yearlong prompt: The Colony. Sorry for the lack of warning, but I had a few ideas while weeding this morning that I wanted to get down.

If you're interested in joining in but have yet to do so, here's a quick status update on the crew and who (if anyone) is writing from each person's perspective:

Eliza (crew member, backup pilot): Marc
Robbie (crew member, driver): Greg
Demi (crew member, medic): Ivybennet
The ship's computer: Morganna
Vassily (Mission Commander): available
Aditya (pilot): available
Patrick (crew member, ex-cop): available
Melina (crew member, psychologist): introduced below and (obviously) available
Two unnamed, unmentioned crew members: both up for grabs

That list is actually pretty handy for me. I suspect I will be referring back to it often. Please let me know if I forgot anybody! Also: we've only had one entry from Demi so far, so if you want to give her some area of specialty just make a note of it or make it clear in your next entry Ivy.

Okay, on with the show!

Mine:

I suppose I should have expected things to go... less than smoothly here. Especially in the initial period after our arrival, while we got settled in and ironed out all the wrinkles that would inevitably appear.

But I never would have imagined this.

First the supply drops and the potential of tampering being the cause of the missing equipment and rations. I mean, what are we talking about here... aliens? It couldn't have been anyone from our ship - there's no way anybody could have slipped off unnoticed long enough to even reach one of the drop sites. Does that mean there are other settlers from Earth that we don't know about?

And, if so, is it safe to say that they mean us harm?

Maybe Patrick is wrong. Maybe it just looked like the work of a crowbar. I mean, who knows what sort of crap passes through this area on a regular basis?

Anyway. As if all that isn't bad enough, now I'm worried about Robert. I mean, even more so than before we left Earth behind.

I've overheard him talking to computer screens several times since we were all allowed to leave our quarters after the all-hands meeting. And not like, muttering threats at them like my brothers always did whenever our home computer wouldn't do something the way they wanted it to.

More like... he's having a conversation with them. And... I don't know... taking instructions from them? Crazy, right?

Maybe he's at the start of a mental breakdown, which is only slightly terrifying in this setting. Maybe he just thinks the computers work like they do in Star Trek and I'll find him ordering the poor thing to make him Tea, Earl Grey, hot.

Either way, I've asked Melina to talk to him, try to figure out how he's doing. But not head on, in a more subtle manner - I don't want to offend him if nothing is wrong. Though equally I don't want to give him any indication that anyone suspects something isn't right if that is actually the case. Melina's got the training for that sort of thing and I trust she'll be able to tell me if Robert is crumbling under the pressure already.

Maybe I'll get her to talk to me next.

Sunday May 3rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: rehab.

Really enjoyed a day away from working in the garden. I hung out with Max around the house this morning (which involved a lot of playing with his tools and hitting a balloon around - two of his favorite things) while Kat was with her book club.

After lunch we picked up Kat's brother and drove out to visit the owl rehabilitation center just north of Oliver for their yearly open house event. We're hoping to make this an annual visit, as it's a pretty cool experience.

Since it didn't take too long to see everything, I wasn't feeling ready to return home. So we drove just a little further and went for a walk at Vaseux Lake. It's one of my favorite areas to visit around here and I'd still like to find a way to get there more often.

Mine:

"One more time. Come on, you can do it."

Matt, my physical therapist, was relentless. He was always pushing, pushing, pushing. Finding my limits and then stretching them further. I was in too much misery to have been able to check, but I'm fairly certain he was smiling the whole time.

That bastard loved his job just a little too much.

"Don't give up on me now. You got this. I know it. You know it. That cute girl who lives across the hall from you knows it."

I could only shake my head at that last one. I was pretty sure she didn't even know I existed, despite having moved in nearly six months prior. But then, I was also pretty sure I'd never walk again after the car accident.

Now look at me. Sure I walk with a limp, but I walk. With time that nagging reminder of what happened will pass. That's the sort of confidence Matt beat into me. The sort of belief in myself and what I'm capable of.

I'm limping today. Next month I'll be walking like a normal. Give me another few months and I'll be running. You can bet on that.

Look at me now, people. Look at how far I've come.

And still I have nightmares of my time in that room with Matt.

Saturday May 2nd, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: a beginner.

Inspired, oddly enough, by watching Beginners with Kat this evening. It stars Ewan McGregor, who I may have mentioned previously on this blog, and I enjoyed it a lot. Definitely left me feeling a little sad and lonely though.

We finished planting the new strawberry patch this morning with Kat's parents. I was relieved it didn't take longer than it did, as I'd sort of expected it to require an afternoon session as well.

Instead I took Max into town, where we eventually made our way to the park.

And then the jungle, of course.

Mine:

My poor hands are shaking,
My heartbeat is racing.
Hit the ball? I don't even
Know which way I'm facing...