Monday August 31st, 2015

The exercise:

Let us usher August out the door by writing about: the substitute.

Another fairly quiet day around these parts. I think I may have given up on weeding the garden for this year without fully realizing it. If this week slips by without any more weeds being pulled I might have to make it official.

Spent part of my morning catching up on comments (woo hoo, only three weeks behind now!) and then spent the afternoon with Max. I should maybe take a picture of him sometime and share it with you guys, because I have this nagging feeling that it has been a long time since I've done that.


The plan, such as it was, did not inspire faith. It was not properly thought out. Rushed and unprofessional were two of the kindest words I could have used to describe it. Idiotic and doomed to fail were some of the less kind.

You might be wondering why I agreed to it then. Can't say I blame you. I've often had the same line of thinking since then. Sure, I was in a desperate spot. One that seemed utterly hopeless, with no reasonable escape. I guess an incredibly unreasonable route seemed like my only chance.

There was also, of course, the potential reward. No man I've ever met would turn his back on the chance for that kind of money, no matter how ridiculous the odds of success may be. That's how casinos do such killer business, right?

Well. Whatever the reason, I said I'd do it. Or at least try, anyway. So I walked into that museum under the watchful eye of at least a dozen guards and twice as many cameras. Concealed in my jacket was a rather inexact replica of the statue I was meant to steal.

"Just switch it out for the real thing," they'd told me. "You just need a distraction, that's all."

Yeah, that was all. It's not like I had unlimited time to come up with something good - the exhibit was only in town for the weekend. Like I said, rushed and poorly thought out. But like I also said, I was in a bad place.

That's why the other thing I'd hidden in my jacket that afternoon was the foulest smelling stink bomb I could get my hands on.

Sunday August 30th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that takes place at: the fashion show.

After a very, very quiet morning around the house, we took Max into town for a lunch out. While we were eating there was a rather impressive downpour, with a brief period of hail. I don't think it hit the farm, at least I haven't heard any complaints about it damaging apples, but it was rather worrisome while it lasted.

It also cooled things off significantly and cleared away the lingering smoke. So when we stepped outside after it had finished it was... fantastic.

Fingers crossed for continued clear skies for the foreseeable future.


"This was the best idea I've ever had bro."

"No doubt. I never would have thought of it myself. I mean, fashion designer? That sounds so g-"

"Right? But then you give it some more time and you realize you can design the skimpiest, sheerest outfits and then g-"

"Get the hottest girls on campus to parade around in them! Seriously, dude. I'm so jealous I didn't think of it first. At least you're letting me hang out backstage though. That's super awesome of you."

"For my best bro? Of course! And, again, sorry I couldn't invite you to the pre-show party at my place last night. No way I wanted too many dudes around, you know what I mean?"

"Obviously, dude. Obviously. I mean, I guess you had to have Sheldon there, since he's your, like, director or whatever. And he's not the least bit of competition for you anywaaa... hey Sheldon! What's up my man?"

"Whatever. Listen, I've got two things to tell you guys and you're not going to like either of them."

"Bro... maybe you should just not tell me either of them then?"

"Yeah, not an option since the first is: all your models are in the hospital with food poisoning."

"What? All of them? How is that even possible, dude?"

"Something about the sushi you served them at your party last night. I thank my guardian angel I didn't eat any of that crap."

"Same, bro. I was too busy drinking to eat."

"Yeah, I noticed. Anyway, we're two hours from curtain so here's the second thing: there are no other models available. So you two are going to have to wear the outfits on the catwalk."

"What? Hell no, bro. Hell no."

"Then Mrs. Fletcher will fail you and you won't get the last credit you need to graduate this year. She just told me that herself."


"Oh, and she sends her best wishes and says she is very much looking forward to your show. And, I think it's safe to say, even more so now that you'll also be modelling your designs."

Saturday August 29th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: oops.

Our farm is just east of Osoyoos. This morning I got all the way to the western edge of town before realizing that I'd forgotten the tomatoes and onions (normally they'd go on the truck Friday night but I thought it was going to rain overnight so I left them on the porch at Kat's parents place).

I may not have said oops but I'm not about to use what I actually said as a prompt.

I came back to get the forgotten produce and it ended up being worth my time, as I sold all of the cherry tomatoes and onions, along with about half of the bigger tomatoes.

I imagine that if it hadn't poured rain for over an hour during the (typically) busiest portion of the market I would have sold even more of them. More apples too, but I did okay with those. Oh well. We desperately needed the break from all this dryness so I'm not going to complain.

Too much.


Look at all the pretty pictures -
Oops, I meant to say art!
I just punched a hole in this one...
I guess that wasn't smart.

Friday August 28th, 2015

The exercise:

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

I spent a lot of harvesting time today within earshot of the guys working on the new house. That's all I have to say about that and the prompt.

Not a great pick today, but hopefully there will be enough of various different things to make for a decent market tomorrow. Also keeping my fingers crossed that if it does rain then people still come out and enjoy the fresh air and produce - it's been long enough that it shouldn't be a reason to stay indoors. As far as I'm concerned, anyway.

A breeze started up mid-morning, which seems like the first time the air's moved in a week. At first it just pushed the old, stale smoke away and replaced it with fresh, new smoke. But by this evening I was able to see the furthest I have seen since this whole mess started.

Hoping for some more wind and a little bit of rain the next couple of days to fully clear out the valley.


"Don't even start, I'm not in the mood for this silver."

"Are you brownsilvering me?"

"I'm dead serious, aquamarine. If you don't drop it I will fuchsia you up."

Thursday August 27th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the dig.

Construction on the new house continues. They're working on the deck on the outside and the flooring on the inside. And still doing lots of digging, which invited today's prompt.

The smoke was again slightly better today. I can now see the outline of the hills to the west of town from our front porch. The moon this evening was very red, but at least it was visible.

Hoping for continued improvement tomorrow as I harvest for Saturdays farmers market.


During the day the dig site is a buzzing hive of activity. Machines rumbling this way and that, men talking and yelling... mostly yelling actually, now that I think about it. Hammering, scraping, scooping, unloading shards of rock.

A man could get a headache from all that chaos even though he was standing half a mile away, well beyond the towering fence that marked the perimeter of the construction zone.

Night, though, is a very different story. All the machinery is at rest, dark lumps casting strange shadows in the moonlight. The men have gone home to their wives or girlfriends or empty beds. Tools have been put aside and silence reigns supreme.

The hole itself is a yawning, toothless mouth of darkness. To stand at its edge and look down is to stare into the abyss. A man could think of jumping and falling into forever, never landing, never stopping. Just an endless flight into... nothingness.

Night. That's when I like to visit the hole the best. I guess you could say that I don't have much choice in the matter. And, sure, you'd be right.

It's not like I'm allowed on site during the day...

Wednesday August 26th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the hypocrite.

Smoke was marginally better again today. At this rate the air should be back to its regular quality by December. Or maybe Saturday, when it is finally supposed to rain.

It's gotten to the point that I'm not even going to complain about it raining on market day.


Standing bright and brash
In the public eye,
He pretends to be
One hell of a lie.
For in the safety
Of solitude
He reveals his true,
Cruel attitude.
So listen not to how
He talks the talk,
But watch instead how
He walks the walk.

Tuesday August 25th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: owls.

I can actually see some of the lights on the other side of the lake this evening, so things must be a little less smokey out there. Hurray!

This morning's harvest went very quickly but I had no interest in lingering in the garden. So I got caught up on a few emails before taking my turn with Max. Kat took him to gym time at the community center this morning, which they're doing this week in order to give the kids of the town some indoor activity while this smoke limits outdoor playtime. Very thoughtful and very much appreciated (apparently it was very well attended).

Fingers crossed tomorrow will see the end of the worst of this crappy air quality we've been dealing with. Regardless, I am unlikely to take clean air for granted any time soon.


The wisest creatures
in the night seek their prey in
silent, soaring flight

*     *     *

Hidden in plain sight,
snowy owl awaits his prey
in a wintry field

Monday August 24th, 2015

The exercise:

I'm dusting off the continuation prompt today. I'll get things started and then whoever comes along next gets to pick things up where I left them. And so on and so forth.

The wildfire smoke was still smothering today so not much got done. Brought Max up to Kat's parents house this morning while she had a counselling client, and then brought him into town with me after lunch to get some shopping and coffee shop time in. Then we returned to his grandparent's house because if we're going to be stuck inside, avoiding the smokey air, they've got a whole lot more room than we do at our place.

I've only got one fairly small local order to harvest tomorrow morning so I'm hoping the air will be a little clearer and I'll actually be able to spend some time in the garden to get some weeding done.


It is an... unfortunate thing, when choices made in haste come back to haunt you. The full implications of the alternatives before you were not made clear at the time, because they never are. And yet, inevitably, you will find yourself cursing the day you chose the option that led to your current circumstances.

I can feel the heat upon my skin now. The hairs on my arms are singed. Thick, black smoke chokes my lungs. Standing here, on the roof of my home with a garden hose in my hands, I see fire in every direction. I am surrounded.

It is safe to say, I should think, that at this point I am in one of those unfortunate positions that I mentioned earlier.

The men had come knocking in the middle of the night. Evacuate now, they had told me, the expressions on their face conveying their earnest concern. They could not force me to go though. And even if they could have... they had so many more doors to rap their knuckles against. Time was not on my side, they had informed me. But, clearly, it was not on theirs either.

So I stayed. I grabbed the hose and a ladder, climbed up here and began soaking my home. Let the bastards try to burn this, I thought with grim satisfaction. And, it is obvious now, with foolish pride.

I could not let my precious home be destroyed without fighting for its survival until the very last moment. I am no naive captain going down with his ship. I had intended to leave as soon as it became clear my efforts were in vain.

But then the windstorm arrived, swirling the fire that had been approaching from the south into an inescapable burning circle with my house at its epicenter. A noose, really. And it is tightening around me now.

Still I run the hose back and forth. What else can I do? Jump in my truck and make a break for it? Drive right through the wall of flames closing in on me?

Well... I suppose it is worth a try.

Sunday August 23rd, 2015

The exercise:

Today's writing shall involve something or someone that is: washed away.

I was so distracted by the smoke yesterday that I actually managed to forget about the "highlight" (infuse as much sarcasm as you possibly can) of my day. So let me correct that oversight real quick.

After I finished packing the last of the produce on to the truck in the morning, I drove down the driveway and turned onto the dirt road that connects the farm to the nearest paved road. Once I reached that one, I drove past the mailboxes where we get our mail, went around the corner and... what is that?

Oh, I see. It's a skunk. In the middle of the road.

So I stopped the truck. Because I really didn't want to run over it. But I didn't stop far enough away (I guess?) and instead of moving off the road... it came right at me.

I lost sight of it for a few seconds, so I backed up (this is 6:15 in the morning by the way). Then I realized it was beside the truck so I put it in drive and hit the gas.

Too late, of course. By that time it had sprayed the truck. I hoped, with little actual hope, that an hour of driving at mostly highway speeds would clear out the smell. It did not.

I'd say it was about 50% of my customers at the start of the market who commented on the smell. Then I hit a good couple of hours without anyone mentioning it and I began to hope that I was the only who still noticed it. And then another group of people said something about smelling skunk.

Good times.

On the way home I stopped to fill up at a gas station and took the windshield washer squeegee thing to the front right area of the truck but I'm not that it made much of a difference.

Hey, at least I got a prompt out of it.


I know that I am being followed. This is not paranoia. There are people with very good reasons to pursue me. I am not ashamed to admit this. It is, after all, why I am out here in the first place.
These woods provide shelter and the wildlife here is my sustenance. I am safe here, hidden beyond the reach of those who wish to do me harm.

Or so I thought.

With my pack on my back I am following this trail as it leads me up into the surrounding mountains. At the end of every clearing I pause to drink from my water bottle and to look back. I have yet to see anyone behind me but that does not mean I am alone out here. No, it simply means that my pursuer is careful. Patient. Professional.

I continue on. I have no choice. There are no branches to take - only one dirt path stretches out before me. I do not wish to meet whoever is back there. So I keep putting one foot in front of the other, content in the knowledge that my lead will not be challenged in the coming days. Not as long as I keep moving.

What's this? The maps I consulted before setting out had no mention of a bridge here, much less a river that required a bridge to traverse it.

And they certainly said nothing about the bridge being washed away...

Saturday August 22nd, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: desolation.

Nothing to do with the market. Completely to do with being smoked in, yet again. The main culprit this time appears to be a wildfire south of the border. Well, that and the wind that has carried its smoke into our section of the valley.

Either way, it is very creepy and surreal and post-apocalyptic out there.

Market went pretty well. Sold 18 of the 20 bunches of carrots, 9 of the crates of Gala apples, all of the corn, Macintosh, Honey Crisp, nectarines, peaches, zucchini, and pickling cukes, and a good chunk of everything else I brought.

I had to borrow one of the vendors next door in order to get a bathroom break, and then a friend stopped by just in time for me to run and get lunch. So... it worked out, but I'm thinking I might need to arrange at least a little bit of planned help for next week.


All around us
Is a towering wall of grey.
We need to run...
But how do we find a way?

Friday August 21st, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the cannibal.

Spent the day harvesting for tomorrow's market. Ended up with 20 bunches of carrots, 10 pints of cherry tomatoes, around 10 pounds of bigger tomatoes, some cucumbers and zucchini, and a few pints of both blackberries and raspberries. Kat's parents picked me 11 crates of Gala apples, a crate of Macintosh apples, and a partial crate of Honey Crisp apples. I'm also bringing a crate of ready to eat Bartlett pears, the leftover nectarines and peaches (less than a crate each), and some pickling cukes.

Did I forget anything? Oh yeah, onions. And garlic, as usual. Also: my cards and photography prints, as always.

Anything else? Probably. Oh! Corn. Kat's dad and brother picked 3 crates plus a bucket for me.

Pretty sure that's it. Maybe.

Should be a decent market. Doing it by myself, which will be interesting. Hoping a friend will drop by for a visit and to give me a brief break. Wish me luck!


I'm not quite sure how to say this. Well, I know the words I need to speak. I just... okay, here it goes.

"Sir, you've got something stuck in your teeth."

Thursday August 20th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the conflict.

I was hoping to get caught up on comments up until August this morning but I fell a bit short. At least I finally got started on it.

Other than that, I put together some produce that Max and I brought into town as a trade for the haircut he got... two weeks ago? Hmm. That was not very prompt. I guess it slipped through the cracks last week. Anyway, she was very pleased with what we brought.

This evening the valley turned into a smoke bowl once again, effectively killing any plans I may have had to get some work done in the garden after dinner. It's cleared up a bit now, but I'm not sure that's a good thing since this wind cannot possibly be helping with the wildfire containment efforts.

We could really use some rain around here.


"Good evening, general."

"Who are you?"


"And how did you get in here?"

"Even less important."

"Really? I'll be the judge of that. Guards!"

"You're wasting time. Too much talking, not enough listening."


"They can't hear you. But I would very much like it if you would hear me."


"Are you about done? Because I don't have a whole lot of time here."

"What do you want?"

"There we go. I want to talk to you about this conflict you've found yourself in the middle of, general."

"Do you have information on the enemy? Their whereabouts, their strategy?"

"No, nothing like that. I come with a warning: this battle is of much greater import than you or anyone else realizes."

"I don't understand."

"Of course not. Let me state this plainly, general: there is more at stake here than mere victory or defeat. There is an overarching story playing out behind the scenes."

"What, like a Good versus Evil sort of thing?"

"Yes, quite right. And well done on the capitalization! I could hear it."

"And my army is on the side of Good?"

"As long as you believe that, general, you and I shall have no issues between us."

Wednesday August 19th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: ashes.

Because ashes from the surrounding wildfires were falling from the sky at this evening's farmers market here in Osoyoos. Bit surreal, that.

We were fully smoked in again as I was heading to the market this afternoon. Couldn't even see across the lake. As opposed to last night, when this was the view from our front porch:

It was actually a pretty good market for me. I bothered to do fruit samples for once (it tends to be a pain when I'm by myself but I just wasn't selling much fruit at this market) and the Gala apples sold pretty well. Sold out of blackberries, lemon cucumbers, pickling cukes, and corn. Sold a reasonable amount of cherry tomatoes, onions, regular cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini as well. Oh, and sold three of my cards.

Not a bad way to end things in Osoyoos, as I won't be able to attend next week's final Wednesday night market of the summer due to a scheduling conflict. Can't say I'll mind going back down to one farmers market per week.


"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

There wasn't a dry eye at the funeral. Not because any of us were going to miss Terry very much. No, that had more to do with the mace still lingering in the air from when the police had broken up a small riot at a service nine sites east of where we were standing in the cemetery.

Something about a coveted, hotly contested heirloom going to the grave with the recently deceased, if rumour was to be believed.

A brief pause followed the deacon's words. I was surprised, as I'd expected at least half of the attendees to bolt for their cars at the very first opportunity decorum allowed. To their credit their escape was dignified and to a casual observer may have even appeared appropriate.

I waited until everyone else had left, even the deacon. Then I approached the grave site and looked down at the coffin, partially covered by a shovelful of dirt. Against my doctor's orders I lit a cigarette and took a long draw before blowing the smoke out of my nostrils.

"I could still burn you, Terry," I whispered, holding my cigarette between two fingers. "Just like I promised I would."

I took another drag, looked around. No one was paying any attention to me. I really could do it. My free hand reached into my jacket pocket and touched the small canister of gasoline I'd hidden there. It was enough to do the job.

"Nah," I told the coffin as I turned away. "Better to let the professional do his work with you. Burn in hell, Terry."

Tuesday August 18th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the dealer.

Rebecca and her boyfriend finished packing up her things and headed out shortly after lunch today. It wasn't a proper goodbye (at least that is what I kept telling myself), as she'll be back in a couple of weeks to pick up her dog. She's leaving him at the ranch he's been staying at whenever she was working at the restaurant, since she'll be away in Ontario for a little while and she needs to get herself settled back into Vancouver. She figured it would be easier on him to come once all that is done, which I think makes sense.

Plus it also delays the goodbyes, so it's got that in its favor as well.

Started the harvest for tomorrow's market after dinner by getting going on the raspberries. I'll finish those off in the morning before shifting to the veggies I want to bring. Hopefully the early start will mean I have time to pick carrots for once.


He just wants to chat,
but all I want him to do
is deal the damn cards

*     *     *

Sure, I talk a lot.
But no one complains once they
get dope in their hands

Monday August 17th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about something or someone that is: notorious.

I washed the bath tub this morning. That was pretty much the biggest accomplishment of the day. Oh, I also went out after dinner to harvest some produce for Rebecca to bring home with her. I suppose that counts for something too.

She's heading out tomorrow morning and... yeah. Pretty much miss her already.


I'd rather be known for doing something good. Honestly. Something respectable, decent. Something I could be truly proud of. Something my mother would be proud of.

But in this world being nice and good doesn't get you much attention. I'm sure you know that. You watch the news, read the newspapers. Just look at the cover of any magazine on the shelf. How many good people do you see?


I suppose I could have lived my life in obscurity. Carried out my responsibilities without recognition, day in and day out. That doesn't sound very rewarding though, does it? I mean, maybe that's good enough for you. Not for me though. That ain't me.

You see, I need to be known. I'm not the anonymous type. I want people to know me by sight, to talk about me when I'm not around. To worship me? Nah. That'd be okay though. I wouldn't complain.

So I had to do something. Something big. A big bad something. Something that people will never, ever forget.

And, sorry to say, that something begins with you...

Sunday August 16th, 2015

The exercise:

Hmm, haven't done this one in a long time: use the title of a movie as the inspiration for your writing.

Quiet day off around here. The fires in the hills to the west of town are still burning, but at least for most of the day the breeze was blowing the smoke away from us. It changed direction this evening and it's getting pretty smokey out there now.

I should maybe get to sleep at a reasonable time for once, so I'll get to that writing thing.

Edit: or I could just fall asleep on the couch again. Sigh.


The Other Guys

Do you know what it's like, living life on the outskirts of everything? How small you feel? How unimportant? Can you imagine always being on the outside looking in? Never fully a part of things. Never fully welcome.

Well, me and Chuck could tell you a thing or two about it.

We called ourselves the other guys. We heard it often enough from other people that we decided to own the label. Not that it was ever said directly to our faces or anything like that. We just overheard it, as people who live on the perimeter of life often do.

"Who are those other guys in that picture?"

Me and Chuck, that's who.

"Who were those other guys with you when Mr. Dylan was talking to you after class today?"

Us. Always us.

It gets tiresome, let me tell you. Even for someone, such as myself, who has no interest in the spotlight. Always watching and listening as others get the praise and credit. Hell, even the blame. Sounds strange, I know, but there were days that I would have been thrilled to be accused of something - whether I did it or not!

I began craving recognition. Chuck and I never talked about it, but I think he did too. I could see it in the way he carried himself, the way he glared at people who would never, ever be called the other guys. Enough was enough, you know?

So I decided to do something that they couldn't possibly ignore.

Saturday August 15th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the apocalypse.

The highway was open this morning, so I was able to make it through to attend the farmers market with Rebecca and her boyfriend Juan. Though the fire was certainly rather close to the road in places:

The market itself went fairly well. We sold 8 out of the 9 crates of peaches, 8 of the 10 crates of Gala apples, all the corn (there were maybe 3.5 crates on the truck), all the berries (only 6 pints between the blackberries and raspberries), and various amounts of other things.

It was Rebecca's last market with us, as sadly she'll be returning to Vancouver on Tuesday. She's been great company, a big help, and I know Max is going to miss having her around. There's been talk of her coming back next summer, so we'll keep our fingers crossed on that working out.


It is the end of days
As hell has come to call;
It is all over now -
That's it, no more, that's all.

Friday August 14th, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose which have something to do with: wildfires.

So... yeah. Wildfires around Rock Creek have destroyed the campground we went to with Max, forced evacuations, and closed the only highway heading east from Osoyoos.

Wildfires between here and Keremeos have closed the only highway heading west from Osoyoos.

Wildfires to the north and south of Oliver... have not yet closed the only highway heading north from Osoyoos.

Oh yeah, there's also a wildfire raging just across the border to the south.

Feeling a little trapped at the moment. And wondering if I just spent a day preparing for a farmers market that I won't be able to get to. I guess we'll see what's going on with the Oliver fires in the morning.

Maybe if this wind dies down and the lightning stops, oh, I dunno, striking all over the place, I'll stand a chance of getting there.

Fun alternative option: the highway is open in the morning but is closed after I get through and I'm trapped in Penticton until they open something up again.



There are so many resources being set against the eager flames. Men, women, trucks, helicopters, water bombers. The mind boggles at the expense of it all.

And all this because he forgot to put out a tiny little innocent campfire... woopsies!

Thursday August 13th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the donor.

Today ended up being another day off from the garden for me. We're more or less on top of things out there, so I don't feel overly guilty about it. Just a little.

Back to harvesting once again tomorrow, this time for Saturday's Penticton market. Hopefully the weather cooperates with me and the potential thunderstorms decide to visit elsewhere.


"The donor wishes to remain anonymous."

I should have called the whole thing off then and there. The lawyer making the offer was bad enough, with his Italian suit that cost more than my house and reeking of cologne that was probably made from the blood of enslaved unicorns. But the amount being so generously offered was so far beyond anything I could have expected that it should have been obvious something sinister was going on.

But, of course, I did not muster a word of protest.

Maybe I was blinded by dollar signs. Maybe I was too focused on what could be accomplished with that sort of financial backing. Maybe I was so disoriented by the lawyer's stench that I just couldn't think straight.

Whatever the reason, I accepted the offer. My little business was officially a go. Childhood dreams were dancing to life and I was caught up in the moment. And the many moments that followed over the course of the next two years.

And then, inevitably, late one night the anonymous donor came calling. He was there to make me another offer I couldn't refuse, but he didn't bring his lawyer this time. There was no need.

The photographs of my daughter, bound and gagged in the trunk of a car, were more than enough incentive to do as he wished.

Wednesday August 12th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the rumour.

Spent the morning harvesting for tonight's market, which I did by myself and that went okay. It was actually pretty hectic at the start, but by 7:15 I was on full time clock watching duty. Throw in some winds that were strong enough to require the tent being pegged down - and my greeting cards being taped to the table so that they wouldn't fly away - and it was a pretty eventful evening.

Pretty sure I'm taking it easy tomorrow, as I'm feeling exhausted right now.


It's not fair. That's what it comes down to, really. I know life isn't supposed to be fair, but this seems a little extreme. I can't even get a date with this nonsense going on, you know?

I mean, what's a guy supposed to do? What would you do, huh? You think you're so smart, you got everything figured out. Go ahead then. Tell me your way out of this mess.

Silence. Of course. Not so clever now, are you? Do you understand me a little better after that little exercise? Walked a mile in my shoes and all that crap?

Listen. Okay? Just listen for a minute or two. I think I can find the road out of here. But I'm going to need your help. Are you in? Please tell me you're in.

Okay. This disaster started with just one person. So why can't it end with just one person? That person is you. You're my way out. All you have to do is believe me.

And then tell others the truth. Not this vicious, gossipy trash that's going on around here. The real, actual, factual truth. That's all. Can you do that for me? Can you tell the rest of this town that I'm not some violent nutcase?

Or do I have to start removing your fingers, one by one, in order for you to do that for me?

Tuesday August 11th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about something that is: false.

Spent the morning rototilling the paths in the garden. Pretty sure that's where this headache originated.

Ran a couple of errands in town after lunch. Spent far too long trying to get Max to sleep after dinner. And that was about my day.

Back to harvesting for the Wednesday night market tomorrow.


They are real to me,
so I shall treasure all of
these false memories

*     *     *

She lures her victims
with coy smiles; too late they find
her teeth in a glass

Monday August 10th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about someone who is: indulgent.

We actually took a second day off today, which we haven't done since... nope, we didn't even manage that around our camping trip. So it would have to have been before the growing season started. If even then.

Anyway. We drove up to Penticton to do some shopping that we haven't had a chance to do after markets (when I generally just want to go straight home, unload the truck, and go the hell to sleep). So that was good.

I'll be back in the garden tomorrow morning to get some weeding done before we go back to harvesting for our next market. Which it kinda feels like we're doing every other day.


"You can't sit there."

"What? Why not?"

"Phillip likes to sit there."

"Oh come on. Not you too."

"Phillip will be very upset if you sit in his chair. And that will make mother even more upset."

"Then let him be upset. It'll do him some good to not get his way for once."

"And mother?"

"She coddles him too much and it's effecting the rest of us. If we let this go on much longer we'll be both be sleeping in the garage while Phillip enjoys the comforts of our beds. So enough is enough."

"Please don't sit there..."

"He's not even home! Mother took him to the vet."

"I didn't know the vet treats mice."

"Yes, well, mother pays him very well. If she paid me that kind of money maybe I wouldn't feel the need to sit in precious Phillip's chair. As is..."

"What... what was that sound?"

"... it would appear that Phillip was not at the vet after all."

Sunday August 9th, 2015

The exercise:

Before we get too far into August we should probably check in on The Colony, yes? Okay.

Did not get much done today, as I was feeling pretty tired for most of it. I did manage to make a small dent in the mountain of comments I need to respond to here on the blog, so I suppose that's something.


Robbie and I stare at each other in a shocked, confused silence. The conversation in Vassily's quarters continues on, as though nothing has changed. But here, in my quarters, everything has changed.

Betrayed. The word is on repeat inside my skull. More than two hundred million kilometers from home and we have been betrayed by members of our own crew. Who seem to be working with others who have arrived on the Red Planet before us, though they seem to have lost contact with each other.

What does that mean? That we have more time to do something? Less? Will the others come here, take our base over by force? Or will Vassily and Melina abandon us in order to locate the Russian base?

I'm not sure Robbie understands what's going on. Not fully, anyway. Maybe it would be for the best if I keep things that way. Maybe I sho-

"Do you think it's just Vassily and Melina?" he asks.

"What?" I'm caught so off guard that I can't even put the question into context.

"Or are other members of our crew in on this as well?" Robbie's face scrunches up, like he's thinking hard. "I guess what I'm asking is... who can we trust?"

The answer that comes immediately to mind is: no one. But that's not really true, is it? We're not completely without hope. Not yet. So I shrug and give him the most honest reply that I can.

"Each other."

"And the computer," he says after a brief pause.


"The, uh... the computer? It seems to be on our side?" He squirms in his seat a little before pointing a finger at the speakers in my quarters, which are continuing to relay the conversation between Commander Vassily and Melina. "I mean, at least it's doing what we ask it to. That's something, right?"

"Robbie," I say as a smile appears on my lips for the first time in what feels like a very long time, "that's a whole lot more than just something."

Saturday August 8th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the barbeque.

Had a better than expected market this morning. Going in I was thinking a lot about last year's parade, which felt like it dragged on forever while hardly anyone was shopping. This year the parade seemed a lot shorter and there was only maybe a ten or fifteen minute lull while it was going on.

Maybe it was less interesting than last year? Or maybe last year's version only seemed so long because nobody was in the market.

Either way, we sold out of nectarines, apples, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, cucumbers, zucchini, and corn. We brought home some tomatoes, maybe a pound of pickling cukes, and a handful of onions. Not bad at all.

It also served as a fine illustration of the difference between the Penticton and Osoyoos markets: during the three hours of the market on Wednesday night we sold a grand total of two and a half crates of fruit, whereas today, over the course of four and a half hours, we sold twenty-one crates of fruit.

Also, also: the space bar appears to be working properly again. No idea what happened or why, just glad that it is.


Fire up the grill, boys,
I've got a fresh kill!
We'll eat well tonight, boys,
And ain't that a thrill?

Friday August 7th, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose which have something to do with: eyelashes.

Don't ask. It's partially inspired by Max complaining about having an eyelash in his eye after dinner this evening. The rest of the inspiration is too convoluted to get into.

Hmm, the space bar on my laptop appears to be failing. Please no.

Getting up early for the market tomorrow, as we're being moved off Main Street for the annual Peachfest Parade. Which means unloading the truck upon arrival and then parking it elsewhere. So... good night.


Don't you bat those things at me. Even at this distance I can feel your lashes slashing into my skin. I will not forget what you have done to me, to my life.

Go find some other sucker - this one is done with you.

Thursday August 6th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that takes place in: the salon.

Inspired by Kat and Max getting haircuts this morning. Max, I gather, was much more of a challenge for the hairstylist than my wife. In fact they went to the park with Max sporting half a haircut before he was convinced to return to allow the job to be finished.

I am still trying to imagine his time at the park since, sadly, Kat didn't take any pictures.

In other news, the modular home is now on the foundations. The first half arrived yesterday, the other this morning. This afternoon they put the two pieces in place. Now the finishing work can begin (which is still quite a lot of work).

It's cool to finally see the new house though. We had a little walk around inside after dinner and I can't wait to see what it'll look like once everything is in place. The view from their future deck is going to be amazing.


"Did you hear about Hazel?" The blonde in my chair turned to look at the girl next to her. "She actually kissed Evan! Can you believe it?"

"Oh my god," her friend replied. "That's, like, totally gross."

"I know, right?"

I ran a comb through her long hair once, then again, and one more time until I hit a tangle. Just as she opened her mouth to continue her gossiping I gave my comb a good, hard yank.

"And owwwwwww! Oh my god, watch what you're doing! Are you like, trying to pull my hair out?"

I mumbled an apology before gathering the back of her hair into a ponytail. I attached a clip to keep things in place and put my comb down. My hand lingered over my collection of tools, my fingers twitching slightly.

"And Olivia broke up with Brock this morning, did you hear?" She was back to blabbering as though nothing had happened. Maybe she'd forgotten about the tangle already. "Time to get a move on with that tall hunk of man, am I right?"

"Girl, you cannot wait. We should go over to his house as soon as we're done here."

"Offer him some real southern comfort, am I right?" Her giggle made me grit my teeth. "And then tomorrow I can swing by Tommy's house, make sure he's still not over me. Maybe get him to wash my car."

"Ooh, good idea! I totally saw a smudge on the hood this morning."

I picked up my shears and began trimming the tips of her ponytail. I told myself to remain calm, remain professional.

"Did you see what that cow Marilyn was wearing today? It was like she got dressed in the dark - in a thrift shop!"

Without another thought I shifted to the base of her ponytail and cut it off. The screaming started immediately. I tried not to smile, or even laugh, but it was hard to keep a straight face while thinking about what my daughter's reaction would be when I told her about what I'd done. Marilyn was going to love it.

Wednesday August 5th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about something that is: fleeting.

Spent the day harvesting and preparing for this evening's market here in Osoyoos. Ended up being well worth the time and effort, as I sold all 22 pints of blackberries, all 6 pints of cherry tomatoes, almost all of the peppers and cucumbers I brought, and a few crates of fruit.

Could have done without the freezing cold wind for the last half of the market, but I suppose you can't win them all.

Rebecca came at the end of the market to help me pack up, so I sent her a text about half an hour before she was due to arrive asking her to bring something hot to drink (I was wearing shorts, sandals, a t-shirt, and a sweater - which I almost didn't bring). She showed up with a steaming hot thermos of tea and I am now deeply in her debt.


Our time together
Was never meant to last;
The days and nights
Always moved so fast.
Try as I might
I couldn't hold on -
There was no stopping
The onrushing dawn.
I tried to treasure
Each moment we knew;
Oh but the time,
The time it just flew...
And now, sad to say,
You're in my rear-view.

Tuesday August 4th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the scam.

Not sure how I haven't used that as a prompt before.

I managed to make some more progress on weeding the new strawberry patch this morning, along with clearing out one of our rows of spring greens which have been overrun with big weeds for quite a while now. There's one more row like that to be taken care of and then the veggie garden will actually look pretty under control for once.

Max seems to be over his cold already, which is a relief. Also a relief? Nobody else seems to have caught it.


Give me your money
and all will be well - "all" as
in my bank account

*     *     *

I swear they are real.
Come on, you can trust your dear,
loving grandfather...

Monday August 3rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the float.

Did some weeding in the garden this morning before running some errands in town after lunch. I was surprised at how busy everywhere still was - I'd really thought that all the tourists would have headed home from their long weekends by then.

More time in the garden tomorrow morning. Hoping for another cool day like today.


"We're gonna win first prize for sure."

"Why, did you bribe someone?"

"What? Come on, man - just look at this float! How could it lose?"

"I'll admit the strippers will definitely appeal to the men in the audience..."

"Totally, right? But it's not like we forgot about the chicks!"

"What... oh. You were actually serious about hiring firefighters to pass out apple pie recipes?"

"Shirtless firefighters."

"Obviously. But I think you might be forgetting something."

"The kids? Man, screw them. They're not old enough to vote."

"To be fair, nobody is old enough to vote."

"What are you talking about?"

"There is no voting. There are no judges. There is no first place. That's not the point of this parade."

"... then who did I just pay-off to have our float go on last?"

"Couldn't tell ya."

Sunday August 2nd, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the guard.

Had an enjoyable day off, featuring play time at the park with Max and Kat and her brother's family, as well as an anniversary dinner at the restaurant Rebecca is working at. She was our server and snagged us the best table on the patio, so that was pretty great. Plus Kat and I haven't gone out for dinner for just the two of us in... a very long time, actually.

Max had dinner at Kat's parents place and from the sounds of it had a blast with his cousin, as usual. And before his nap this afternoon he helped Kat and I make a batch of pickles using pickling cukes, dill, and garlic from our garden.

Back to work in the garden tomorrow morning.


It's not easy to become a prison guard. There's a lot of work involved, and I'm not just talking about the training. I mean, sure, it's a tough grind. But it's a hard job and they need to make sure that the men and women who wear this uniform are equally hard.

I've put in more work than any of my peers. I can guarantee you that. I'm not saying they haven't paid their dues, no sir. Not at all. It's just that I've had to put in extra time, sacrificed more, bled more to get here.

I've had to. It's no easy thing to get this job under a false name. The paperwork alone is daunting. Don't even get me started on the foul dregs of humanity I was forced into contact with. I've lost count of how much money it cost me.

The background checks for this job are no joke. I made sure Howard Davis - that's my new name - would come up clean. Now that was a lot of work, let me tell you. Above and beyond that, though, is a simpler matter: learning to respond to a name that is not your own as naturally as if you were born with it. Hesitations lead to suspicions. Too many suspicions lead to too many questions and that... well, that just needs to be nipped in the bud, as they say.

I've had to nip a few buds along the road to here.

But it's been worth it, without question. I have no regrets. I do not consider the last five years wasted time, not in the least. Because I've finally achieved my goal. Everything except me has been in place for years now. Finally I can step into my role and the show can begin at last.

For I have finally managed to get myself transferred to my brother's prison. His escape is only days away. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to stop us now.

Saturday August 1st, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: noise pollution.

Man, August huh? Not sure how I feel about hitting month number eight this year.

This morning's market went very well. We only brought home half a crate of nectarines, three crates of apples (we started with ten), and a few cucumbers. There were big crowds, thanks to the long weekend, pretty much from start to finish too.

Unfortunately a group rented out the park behind our stall and decided to blast music for the last half of the market. They were asked to turn it down pretty much as soon as they started (by Rebecca, actually) and they did... for about ten minutes. Apparently the market manager also asked them to turn it down later in the morning, with pretty much the same results.

It was especially annoying because they were drowning out the buskers at the market, one of whom was directly beside our stall when it started (thus Rebecca heading straight over there). As soon as the music got loud again they packed up their instruments and headed elsewhere. I hope they found a quieter spot somewhere else in the market, but I doubt it.

Thus... today's prompt.

My sister had a fun morning with her nephew before heading east to Calgary. We're hoping to drive out to visit her and her husband in the fall, but we'll see how that goes. For now it was an enjoyable few days together in Osoyoos, and that's something.


Turn it down, turn it off,
Please just make it stop!
I'd rather listen to
A pig eating slop!