Monday November 30th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: under the table.

We've gone sailing past his third birthday and one of Max's favorite places remains under the table - whether we're at home or at our coffee shop. Only difference now is that he tends to hit his head more often.

Got some more wood to the house this morning as it was another frigid day. Things are expected to warm up to more reasonable temperatures by Wednesday or Thursday. Which I'm very much looking forward to.

Tonight's overnight low of -10? Less so.


The pub wasn't as busy as I'd hoped it would be, but I still figured it was noisy and crowded enough to serve my purpose. I found an empty booth along the wall opposite the entrance and slid onto my seat. A waitress materialized faster than I expected and I ordered a pitcher of their cheapest beer and two empty glasses to keep it company.

I took off my jacket, placed it on the bench beside me, and picked up a greasy menu to give my hands something to do while I waited. A quick glance at its contents confirmed that my decision to eat before arriving was a good one.

The beer and my guest arrived at the same time, which I'm certain was no coincidence. He gave her a big smile and an overly enthusiastic thank you (especially considering that he hadn't ordered, nor would he be paying for it) and she brushed him off with practiced ease.

"Evening Charlie," he said as he poured himself (and not me) a glass. "What do you want?"

"Hi Skip," I said, dropping my hands to my lap (let him have the swill). "The usual."

"You got the money?" he asked before taking a rather large sip. He made a pained face (that I found satisfying to an embarrassing degree) but said nothing about the beer. Instead: "Make it quick. I got places I need to be."

"Sure." I pulled a thick envelope from my jacket pocket then froze. I didn't make the rookie mistake of looking around to see if anyone was watching, but it was terribly tempting. "You came by yourself, right?"

"Don't be stupid," he said with a genuine look of disgust. "You know I don't have anybody to bring with me."

"Right," I said with an uneasy smile and stuffed the envelope back into the depths of my jacket. "My bad, my bad."

"What's the hold up, man?" I could practically feel his fingers grasping at the air under our table. "Hand it over so I can get out of here."

"Sorry, Skip." I scanned the room then, slowly (because screw him or her or whoever - they weren't getting anything from me that night). "Change of plans."

Sunday November 29th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the wizard and his robot.

The inspiration for this one is long and not particularly interesting, so I'll save you the details. So I shall say instead: I'm glad this prompt came to me and I think it should be a lot of fun to work with.

We had some friends and their three year old daughter (the one born four days after Max) over for dinner this evening. Lots of chaotic fun. And now I am tired. So...



The wizard, sat behind an oak desk nearly as wide as the cluttered room he called his library, looked up from the open tome he had been studying. His expression remained neutral as he watched his robotic servant wheel into the room with soft beeps, trailing clouds of steam behind it.


"You forgot two of the ingredients you need for the spell you are working on." The robot placed two foul-smelling bundles side by side on the only part of the desk not already covered by something else. "Two pounds of fish intestines and half a pound of pickled unicorn horn."

"Ah, yes, of course," the wizard said with a shake of his head. "I have been so absent-minded of late, haven't I? So silly of me. I can hardly believe all the things I've misplaced and mislabeled in the last week alone! And now... this!"

"Have no fears, Master. I won't let you forget anything important. That is, after all, why you created me."

"Indeed, indeed. Thank you very much for fetching and delivering these for me." The wizard eyed the new arrivals on his desk with an unreadable expression (even for robots) on his face. "I know better, I think, than to ask where you got the horns from."

"Also why you have me, Master. I will be down the hall if you need anything else."


The wizard watched the robot exit the room and then roll out of sight to the right. He scratched his tangled white beard, then arranged the sparse hairs attempting to cover his scalp. He almost returned to his book before remembering the ingredients that had just been delivered.

He took a bundle in each hand, making sure the two packages did not touch each other, then placed the fish intestines in a black sack before placing the unicorn horns on a shelf high enough that he had to stand on a small stack of books to reach it.

Satisfied that the two items, which emitted a toxic gas when they came in contact with each other, were a safe distance apart, he returned to the open tome on his desk. He forced himself not to hurry, but the desire to find a way to destroy the robot he had created had intensified tenfold after their most recent encounter.

Saturday November 28th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: coughing.

Had a bit of a festive day around here. Visited a Christmas craft fair in town this morning, put up some lights and decorations around the house after lunch, and then checked out a nearby winery's festival of trees event just before dinner.

Little earlier than usual, but it seemed like the things to do with a Saturday that had nothing on the calendar. Max appreciated it, at any rate. Even while putting up with his newest cold.

And Kat enjoyed it as well, despite her lingering cold.

If anyone needs me, I'll just be over in this corner pretending that I'm not about to get sick again.


It starts with a tickle,
Of the worst possible kind.
It feathers my throat and...
Find something to hide behind!

Friday November 27th, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the long haul trucker.

It is frickin' cold out there. Thankfully I've had the fireplace going strong all day so I don't feel it right now. Of course, I'm going to need to grab a few more pieces of wood from out front before I go to bed...

Not so much looking forward to that.

Got a few errands done in town this afternoon. Should have done a few more. Involving purchasing enough food to last for the next three months.

Because I'm about ready to hibernate.


The road can be a lonely place. Voices on the CB try to keep me company but it's not the same. As much as I try to put on a brave show, try to pretend that it doesn't bother me... it does.

So that's why I have a tendency to pick up some rather oddball hitchhikers...

Thursday November 26th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the butcher.

Found a couple of interesting jobs to apply for today. So fingers crossed one of them works out!

And... more company tonight. I think he's getting a little too used to this routine. I'd been getting to bed earlier the last couple of nights but... not early enough tonight, it would seem.


It is... difficult for me to function... normally these days. Retirement... does not agree with me. I think, perhaps, that I performed one job for too long. As hard as that is for me to accept.

Kids these days, they change jobs every month, it seems. Go back to school once a year, get all trained up to do something completely different... and tire of that, too. On to the next adventure!

Maybe that should have been my path, as well. The only problem with that, of course, is that I loved my work. Could never imagine myself doing anything else, really.

But now... my body has betrayed me. These once steady hands shake too much. These muscles, once like iron, have grown soft and weak. My mind, though... my mind... well.

It would be nice if my mind could let the past stay in the past. But it continues to see where things ought to be chopped, ought to be sliced. Only I no longer have slabs of meat on a cutting board on which to practice my art. No butcher shop in which to perform my work.

Instead I walk the streets. I sit in parks. People are everywhere. But my mind does not see men, women, children. It just sees meat... and it won't stop telling me where to chop, where to slice...

Wednesday November 25th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the telegram.

Chopped and hauled wood. Got a haircut. Looked for work.

That about sums it up for today.


"Sir, a telegram has arrived for you."

The man being addressed, seated in a plump chair with a drink in his right hand, continues to stare at the dancing flames in the fireplace before him. The servant who had addressed him, the message held tightly in his left hand, remains standing in the doorway.

Several minutes pass without any change in the scene, save for there being slightly less wood in the fireplace and, therefore, slightly more ash.

"Sir," the servant tries again after clearing his throat, "a telegram has arr-"

"Put it on the table," the man says, nudging his left elbow toward the circular surface he had indicated, "and get out."

The servant does as requested, as unhurriedly as he can manage. He does not wish to taint the room with the stench of his fear. His master does not look kindly upon such transgressions.

"And lock the door behind you!"

Having returned to the safety of the doorway, the servant is glad to know that his master could not possibly have seen him jump, like a startled child, at the shouted command. He, again, does as he was told, before fleeing with silent steps to the sanctuary of the hotel's front desk.

The man does not pick up the telegram. Does not even look at it. He does not need to. He knows who it is from and, minus a few specifics, what she has to say. And he is in no hurry to read her words.

It is, in some ways, a surprise that he does not simply feed it to the flames. At least, for someone who does not know this man well.

I, on the other hand, know him all too well. For I am his son. I still think of myself as such, at any rate.

Even though I have been dead for all these years...

Tuesday November 24th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: Spider-Man.

Because why not?

Max was plenty excited to see snow this morning, and was quite determined to get out there and make a snowman. Unfortunately there wasn't really enough to make a proper one, plus the wind was absolutely howling (still is, actually).

But we got out there a little while after breakfast (with the tune of Now can I go outside and make a snowman? on repeat) and made a tiny one together. Maybe five inches high, but it was enough to satisfy him.

For now.


He can spin a web
of any size, but also
enjoys hand knitting

*     *     *

"Amazing. Spidey.
Wall-crawler?" Please, Mary Jane.
Just call me Peter.

Monday November 23rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: roses.

Looks like I've got company again tonight. He doesn't seem particularly sick during the day, other than being more tired (and cranky) than usual. So I'm hoping this will pass fairly quickly.

Found time to chop and haul wood this morning. Which is good, because it is currently snowing pretty hard out there.

Max will be so pleased when he wakes up tomorrow and looks out the window.


Miranda closed the door behind her as she entered her hotel room and paused to regain her composure in the soothing darkness. The first three breaths were shallow and ragged. The two that followed were more controlled but still too rapid. It was three or four breaths later that she remembered to breathe in through her nostrils and out through her mouth.

Which was when she finally noticed the smell.

She pawed the wall to her right until she finally found the light switch. The sudden brightness hurt her eyes and reduced her vision down to a pained squint. Swearing softly she edged her way further into the room she'd called home for the last five nights.

"Hello?" she called out as the smell grew stronger.

There was no answer. Nor should there have been. The only people who had entered that space since her arrival had been Miranda herself and the cleaning staff. As far as she knew.

"Is anyone in here?" she tried again. "Because if so I'm pretty sure you're in the wrong room..."

The narrow hallway opened into the living area and Miranda pulled up short. On the coffee table someone had placed a black ceramic vase filled with white and red roses. Even from fifteen feet away she could tell that they had been heavily perfumed.

"Ugh," she muttered. That was before she saw the envelope leaning against the vase. The words that followed that discovery were... quite definitely unladylike.

Miranda didn't need to see the handwriting to know who was responsible for this "gift". The keynote speaker had not left her alone since the conference had begun. She was a happily married woman but no rebuffs were working, no discouragement so much as acknowledged. This, however, this was going too far. Stronger measures were obviously required.

Steeling herself for the task ahead, she turned on a heel to go find him. As it happened, she didn't have to go very far.

He was standing right behind her.

Sunday November 22nd, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: just like old times.

Max has a cold. My cold? I'm not taking credit for it.

Regardless, he's sick. As I'm typing this he's sleeping beside me on the couch, because he's wanting to be close. I put him to be earlier and when he woke up he came out here and gave me grief for not still being there... three and a half hours later.

It's reminding me of when he was very little, of the nights I'd be typing my blog one-handed because he was asleep on my other hand.

At the moment I am appreciating the fact that he is beside me and not on me.


"What's it been? Like thirty years?"

"More like forty. More than that if you want to talk about when we spent any quality time together."

"Say it ain't so!"

"Sorry, dear friend, but it is, in fact, so."

"Man, it feels like that was just yesterday. Doesn't it?"


"Oh, come on! Look at us! Drinks in hand, ladies all around... it's just like college!"

"Yeah... except now we're in a retirement home and all these ladies are using walkers and wheelchairs to get around."

Saturday November 21st, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the trick.

Kat, Max, and I took a trip up to Oliver this morning to check out their annual craft fair. We managed to find a few Christmas gifts, Max got a little toy panda from one of the vendors (we'd just bought a gift for Natalie from them), and then we got out of there before Max could get fully tired of being in a crowded place with lots of interesting things he wasn't allowed to touch.

Though he did have a blast smelling all of the sample soaps at one of the stalls. I imagine those bars were wiped down after we left, seeing as he was practically stuffing them  up his nose.

Anyway. It was a sunny (and cold) day and it was an enjoyable one for all of us. Sounds like a pretty good Saturday to me.


It seems so simple
But it works every time.
And if no one's hurt
Then it's not really a crime...

Friday November 20th, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: gold.

Other than a headache first thing this morning, today was the best I've felt in a while. Hopefully I'll be completely over this illness when I wake up tomorrow. That would be nice.

Not least because we're running low on firewood at the house again. So much for that stockpile.


"You find any gold in the river today?"

"Not even enough to fill in the gaps in my teeth. What about you?"

"Well, I did pull out a nice pair of high heels that might have been yellow once upon a time..."

Thursday November 19th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: two of a kind.

I appreciate that there will be differences (likely many of them), but that's the best I could come up with for a somewhat appropriate prompt for today's writing.


We are now, in case you haven't figured it out already, expecting our second son to arrive in early April. And as I said up there, I'm sure this little boy will be unique in ways I can't even imagine right now, with his own interests and personality and temperament. But at the end of the day, barring a mistake in the ultrasound reading, we're going to have a pair of boys to raise.

To be completely honest, my first reaction was disappointment. For a very long time my ideal picture of a family was one son and one daughter. Didn't matter the order, just wanted one of each. And I'm sad that I won't have the opportunity to raise a little girl. Because we are absolutely, one hundred percent done after this one. A family of four is great.

Also: we are not going through this whole pregnancy thing ever again. I speak for both of us on that one.

That initial feeling passed fairly quickly though, which I kind of figured it would. I'm getting excited about having another boy. Plus there's a comfort in knowing that we've been through this (at least the first three years) with a boy before. There will be new challenges and joys, obviously, but we've got the basics down. More or less.

Kat shared my disappointment as well, though I think it was stronger for her. Missing out on the mother-daughter bond is a tough one. I don't want to go into too much detail on her side of things, but I did want to mention the first response was mutual.

Things started really coming around for both of us when we sat down and started discussing potential names. I could feel the excite building. We've got a couple picked out already, with a clear front runner, but we'll be keeping that to ourselves until it is time to make it official.

I will say this though: after Kat informed Max that he was going to have a little brother, she asked him what he thought we should name him. His response?


No, sweetie. Just... no.

Wednesday November 18th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that takes place in: the saloon.

We got the ultrasound results back today. Baby looks healthy, no concerns were raised. That's obviously the most important thing.

As for the gender... I think I'll save that for tomorrow's post. Feel free to give me your best guess in the comments though :)


"Is Tess working tonight?" I asked as I eased my weight onto the only empty stool at the bar. The dusty gentlemen on either side of me grunted hellos in my direction and I tipped by hat to both of them.

"You know she's not, Pete," Walter replied before giving a shot glass a cursory inspection and pouring a whiskey into it. "Monday is her day off."

"Yeah, I know," I said, putting an open hand sideways on the bar. It didn't take long for the glass to slide into my grasp. "I just like to make sure. It brings up bad memories for her whenever she sees me, and I hate doing that to her."

"Oh, is that right?" Walter had a way of talking to a man he didn't care for. It was a combination of insincerity and thinly veiled disdain. That's what he was giving me then. "I thought it was because she would warn off any ladies you might be trying to charm your way into the welcoming confines of their corsets."

"Well, dear Walter," I said as I raised my glass and give him a smile and wink, "that might have a little something to do with it as well."

Tuesday November 17th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: dementia.

So I know I said I wouldn't complain about the cough... but today this annoying frickin' bullcrap caused me to stay at home while Kat went to Penticton (with her Mom instead of me) for her ultrasound. Which means I missed out on getting a little preview of baby number two.

I am annoyed by this, in case I wasn't being clear.

At least Kat brought home some pictures. Not the same thing - at all - but it's better than nothing.


He seems okay now...
but we can't help wondering:
How long will it last?

*     *     *

These suspicious eyes
watch me always. Why do these
strangers distrust me?

Monday November 16th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the break.

I'm not going to bother complaining about this cough anymore. I'll just let you know when it's gone, okay? Okay.

Oh, hey - quick favor. Are there any of my takes that you'd like me to revisit? Either to expand or rewrite or properly finish (since I left you hanging). I know I do this quite a bit, but I'm just wondering if any in particular spring to mind for you guys.

Thanks in advance.


"This audition could be your big break, man."

"Yeah, it really could."

"So... why aren't you more excited about it?"

"Don't I seem excited?"

"No. Not at all."


"Dude. Talk to me. What's going on?"

"It's just that... sure, this could be my big break. Or it could be the big break for one of the other two hundred guys auditioning for the part."

"You're exaggerating. Surely it's more like ten."

"No, I'm not. It's gonna be me versus two hundred guys, all of us desperate for the job. It's not needle in a haystack territory, but it's in the same zip code."

"Hey, you just gotta go up on that stage and blow them away. You? At your best? Ain't no chump gonna stand a chance."

"Thanks, man."

"That should have cheered you up. Why didn't that cheer you up?"

"It's just that... this could be a big break for me in a totally different way."

"I'm not following."

"The auditions are being held at Triangle Theater..."

"What? Wasn't that building condemned like two years ago?"

Sunday November 15th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the compilation.

More rain. More grey. More bleh.

Max spent the morning playing with Natalie at Kat's parents house, so Kat and I dragged ourselves out of the house to have a coffee and tea date at our local coffee shop of choice. It was good to get some fresh air and change the scenery for a little while.

They're calling for a bit of sunshine tomorrow. Good, I could use some of that.

Also: snow.

Wait, what?


"What is this?"

"It's a CD."

"No duh, Marty. I meant what's on it?"

"Then you should have said so in the first place."

"Oh for -"

"Songs. It's a compilation of all of my band's number one songs. And you can call me Martin now."

"I didn't know you guys had any number ones, Marty."

"Yeah, well... on our local radio station we had quite a few."

"I'm not sure that really counts."

"And the first track of this CD was the most requested song for a whole week!"

"Marty. Was that because everyone in the band called in twice a day to ask DJ Dale to play it?"

"Still counts. And it's Martin, remember?"

"Right. Well, thanks for the CD Marty. I needed a new coaster after my dog ate my Guinness one."

Saturday November 14th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the refugee.

Yeah, definitely fighting off a cold. And Kat seems to have come down with something as well. Max, strangely enough, is totally fine.

Kids, you guys.

It was a rainy, chilly day here. Not helping the inside feelings when outside looks so grey and unwelcoming. Took Max out after lunch anyway, because no good was going to come from all of us being trapped in the house.

We did some shopping, played outside by the beach for a little bit (I'll be honest: we left because I was getting cold), and then swung by Kat's parents house until it was getting toward dinner time.

This cough can kiss my ass, by the way.

I should probably just get this written and then get to bed. So...


It's so crowded here,
I have lost so much to theft...
I must not forget:
It's better than what I left.

Friday November 13th, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about someone who is: superstitious.

We haven't had a Friday the 13th since March. I'd kind of forgotten about the whole thing, to be honest. But here we are again.


I feel as though I may be coming down with a cold. My body is fighting it off as best it can though. Seeing as I'm in the midst of a job search I'd really rather not deal with that nonsense right now.


You say that you want to know my story. That you wish to record it and share it with the world. All these cameras and microphones and cables and whatnot are here for that and that alone.

Well I say that I know that you were sent here by my father and that I will not give him the slightest shred of evidence of my supposed insanity.

Thursday November 12th, 2015

The exercise:

I do believe today is a day for Continuation.

Just pick up the story from wherever it's been left by the previous contributor and carry on from there. And, you know, maybe try to leave it at an interesting point for the next writer to step into.

Pen into?

Type into?

Anyway. You might be able to tell that I wrote the opening in a coffee shop. Let's see what you guys can do with it.


Wendy, sitting inside her favorite coffee shop with only an empty mug for company, let her thoughts wander aimlessly as she watched cars and pedestrians pass by the floor-to-ceiling windows. It was a gray, chilly November morning, and an unenthusiastic wind was shuffling fallen leaves around the sidewalk.

She picked up her white mug to take a sip, found only enough coffee to discolour the bottom of the mug, and put it back down again. A quick glance at the other patrons - two stern-looking women in business attire, an elderly man with his nose buried in the local paper, and three heavyset men in construction gear - confirmed that no one had noticed her absent-mindedness.

The music playing softly over the shop's stereo changed to a song she recognized but couldn't name. Wendy considered asking one of the cute baristas what it was but decided against it, not wanting to look foolish. Anything but that in front of those two.

She returned her attention to the windows at the front of the shop just in time to see her ex-husband run by, with two uniformed policemen in hot pursuit.

Wednesday November 11th, 2015

The exercise:

Since today is Remembrance Day here in Canada, and Veterans Day in the US, we're going to write about: the veteran.

This morning I cleaned up the backyard, pulling out the sunflowers before the ground freezes and yanking all the weeds and old plants out of our garden boxes. Still need to rake up the leaves in the front yard (why the hell is that two words while backyard is just one?) and put away all of Max's outdoor toys, but I'm getting there.


I don't like it when cars backfire. It doesn't scare me. Obviously. No flashbacks here. It's just a sign that people aren't taking proper care of their damned vehicles. Didn't they spend a lot of money on those monstrosities? Show some respect and make sure it works like it should!

I don't care for war movies either. Or any kind of action movie. Not because the guns and blood and dying triggers something hidden deep down inside me or none of that junk. The way I see it, why would I go see grown men and women playacting violent endings to their lives when I've seen the real thing with my own eyes?

And far too many times at that.

You wouldn't understand. You think I'm being silly. An old man behaving like a spoiled brat. Something like that, yes? Well, that's fine. You go ahead and think what you like. Hell, you can say what you like. It doesn't matter.

After all, you weren't there.

Tuesday November 10th, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: guitars.

Chopped and hauled more wood this morning. Starting to have a decent amount out there. Assuming no serious cold snaps that force us to use up a lot of firewood show up in the coming weeks, I should have a pretty good stockpile before first snow.

Hung out with Max this afternoon. I'm pretty sure he said something extremely funny but I can't seem to remember what it was at the moment.

Oh well, I'm sure he has more in store for tomorrow.


Waiting patiently
within a simple black case
for spotlight glory

*     *     *

The concert begins
in five minutes; someone must
know I need tuning?

Monday November 9th, 2015

The exercise:

Use the title of a movie, selected as randomly as you wish, as the inspiration for your writing today.

I finally got around to taking apart Max's crib today and stored it in the basement for future use with his younger sibling. It's been taking up space in our bedroom for far too long but I somehow managed to keep putting it off.

Max actually ended up helping me with it. Like, really helping. I got him to unscrew several bolts with an Allen key while I held on and made sure the sides didn't topple over. It was a bit of an odd feeling. Definitely nice though.

That kid loves his tools, that's for sure.

Anyway. Preparations for the arrival of baby number two continue to come along slowly. Which is okay, because we do have another five months still.


How To Train Your Dragon

Very carefully.

What? You want more? Why?

You paid how much for this book?

Okay, okay. Though you should know up front that there is no chance whatsoever that you're going to get your money's worth from what follows. But, considering the subject matter, I'm also going to assume that you don't care too much about that.

All right, all right. Let's get to it, shall we?

First of all, you should always - and I do mean always - have other food sources within arm's reach. Dragons get hungry. Often. And when the urge to eat strikes, they strike quickly. So if your dragon starts looking at you with that special gleam in his or her eyes... toss them some meat.

Second of all, what the hell are you thinking? Trying to train a bloody dragon? Do you want to die?

Sorry. But it had to be said. Now let us move on.

Third of all... all training should take place far from your home. In fact, the dragon should never see where you live. Trust me. If anything goes wrong during training - but not so wrong that you don't survive - you will not want that dragon knowing where you live.

Though I suppose he or she wouldn't take all that long to find it anyway. Dragons are mighty fine hunters after all...

Sunday November 8th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: silver.

Lots more fun was had this afternoon at our second birthday party for a three year old in two days. Though Max consumed far too much sugar, to the point that bedtime tonight was an utter gong show.

I am quite ready for a quiet day tomorrow, and hopefully he will be too.


The job was not an especially exciting one. The payment was borderline uninspiring. But times were tough, without question. In an ideal world I would have taken a pass and never given it a second thought.

Unfortunately, my world back then was far from ideal.

So I agreed to do it. Took about a week to figure out the logistics. Another couple of days to get everything in place. The job itself should have only taken about ten minutes.

Should have.

I guess they just plain old forgot to tell me that the statue they wanted me to steal was made of pure silver, meaning it weighed nearly five hundred pounds.

Like I said, those were some kind of tough times for me...

Saturday November 7th, 2015

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: birthday cake.

Max had a pretty enjoyable day, outside of the birthday cake. Not that it was terrible or ugly or a total disappointment. It was just that we picked it up from the bakery after our visit to the swimming pool and he then proceeded to spend most of the afternoon asking for and whining for and pouting about not getting to eat it until after dinner.

Next year, he's not hearing a single word about cake until it shows up at the dinner table with candles on it.

Anyway. Swimming was loads of fun. Kat took this picture of Max in the pool:

We practically had to drag him out of the water when it was time to go. Dinner was tasty and the cake was amazing. Here's the birthday boy with his cousin doing their best to pose for a picture before the first slice was cut:

Max just about fell asleep at the table while eating his bedtime snack at home. He somehow managed to last long enough to change into his pajamas. Hopefully he has a good sleep tonight.

Because tomorrow we're going to another birthday party - this one for a girl named Ruby Mae who was born three whole days after him.


Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake!
Give it to me right nooooooow!
No, you'll wait for dinner
And share it with your fam- oooooow!

Friday November 6th, 2015

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: a lonely light.

Tomorrow is Max's third birthday. How odd. It's also his last birthday as an only child. Stranger still.

The plan is to go to a swimming pool at one of the local hotels with his cousin in the morning (he went there once a few weeks back with Kat and a few other moms and their young'uns and he utterly loved it). Then we're all gathering at Kat's parents house for dinner - his aunt, his uncle, his cousin, his grandma, his papa, and his parents. He has requested roasted chicken for his birthday dinner and we're picking up a cake from the bakery for dessert.

Should be a good day. I hope he enjoys it.


He is alone now. All of his compatriots have faded away or guttered out. Now he is the last, lonesome candle fighting back the black of night.

And he is growing so very, very tired...

Thursday November 5th, 2015

The exercise:

Let us return to The Colony.

And let us all find out what I'm going to write in this, my second to last installment.

Yes, that includes me.

The exercise:

As it turns out, keeping Vassily and his other crew away from the compound can be that hard. I mean, what exactly do we have to ward them off with for seven and a half hours? If we see them coming too early we can't set off an extra explosive or two to ward them off - that would just let them know what we've got waiting for them. I suppose we could just set one of them off the moment they drove close enough but... I don't think I have the stomach for such direct measures.

Besides, what if they happen to just drive through one of the open stretches we would have to leave between explosives? Then they'd be on us and we'd have nothing to fight them off with but, what? Rope and butter knives?

That's my real concern here. Obviously.

And what if they know the dust storm is coming as well? We can hardly assume that they don't. What if they decide to wait it out and launch their attack afterward? Assuming they'd even be able to find us. Thirty-six hours is probably enough time to get buried, isn't it? Is it?

"Computer? Any thoughts on the compound's status after enduring a day and a half of dust?"

Are you asking if you will be buried alive?

"Uh... basically, yes."

Unlikely. Possible, but unlikely.

"How possible? Come on, you've got to be able to give me odds on this. You're a computer, isn't tha-"

We can discuss this later.

"What? No, we're talking about th-"

You have other things to worry about at the moment.

"... What do you mean? What's going on?"

Three vehicles are approaching from the west. Fast.

Wednesday November 4th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about something that is: divine.

The Colony will have to wait until tomorrow. Not feeling up to it tonight.

Spent some time this afternoon organizing Max's corner of the living room. It's amazing how much more space there is in here now. Very much worth making the time to finally take care of that.

Now all we have to do is get Max to agree that this is how it should always look after he's done playing with his toys or reading his books...


"We're in serious trouble this time," Kelly whispered to her little brother. They were standing in the living room of their home, less than an hour before their parents were due to return from seeing a movie.

"I think it will be okay." Kevin replied with a quick shrug.

"That depends on what you mean by it," Kelly hissed back. "Is it being grounded for the rest of our teenage years? The pain of having our favorite toys taken away forever? The looks Mom and Dad will give us every day until we die? That one that says We are so very, very disappointed in the both of you?"

"Nah, none of that dramatic junk is gonna happen."

The look Kelly gave her brother was the dictionary definition of incredulous.

"Come on, have some faith sis."

"I don't think prayer is going to save us from Mom and Dad's wrath. Nor is it going to magically fix all of these broken vases and picture frames and chairs and shelves and televisions..."

"I ain't talking about prayer, sis. I'm talking about our explanation for what happened while they were out."

"Which would be...?"

"Divine intervention."

"... I wish you the very best of luck with that one. I'm going upstairs to pack my suitcase."

Tuesday November 3rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: dinner.

I'm thinking either Wednesday or Thursday for our penultimate visit to The Colony. Fair warning and all that.

I probably had other things I wanted to say here but it is late and I am tired. So...


Early November
dinners are battles between
health food and candy

*     *     *

I know he wants me
to pass the salt, but I shall
make him say the words

Monday November 2nd, 2015

The exercise:

Write about something that is: volatile.

Did some much needed cleaning around the house this morning before going out to chop and haul firewood. Felt good to get that done, as I'd been putting them off for a while. The cleaning in particular, to nobody's surprise.

Hung out with Max this afternoon. He was feeling pretty tired, to the point that I thought he'd fallen asleep in the grocery cart at one point. This whole time change thing is not a friend to little ones. Or big ones, for that matter.

Though having a little one makes the time change significantly worse for big ones.

I should just get to the prompt now.


"We need to keep a close eye on this," Wilson said, tapping one of the video screens arrayed before him. "These civilians are not happy and they are getting more defiant by the day."

I glanced over to see which city he was talking about and grunted my agreement. That place was a riot waiting to happen. Only a matter of time before a word or action sparked the flame that would burn it to the ground.

"I assume our troops are in position?" The voice came from behind us but Wilson and I kept our eyes on our respective monitors. We both remembered what had happened to Hamilton when he made the mistake of taking his attention off his assigned cities.

"Yes sir," Wilson replied. I heard him lick his lips and tensed. Any communication between us and our supervisor that stepped beyond the boundaries of necessity was nearly always trouble. For us. "They should be in place before an hour passes after the initial... disruption."

"Excellent. Do you have a problem with that arrangement?"

"No sir," Wilson said without hesitation. I let out a relieved breath through my nostrils. Stupid me. "It's just that... if they're so close, couldn't they move in now? To act as a preventative force, rather than to perform... cleanup duties?"

"That, young man," our supervisor paused to spit on the floor directly behind us. When he continued the smile in his voice made my skin crawl more than the puddle of phlegm now lurking on the floor. "That, young man, is no concern of yours."

Sunday November 1st, 2015

The exercise:

Write about something that is: concealed.

Kat and I began watching Elementary online recently. One (of the two) episode(s) we watched this evening has provided inspiration for today's prompt, if not my take on it. Well, maybe it has. We'll see when I start writing it, I suppose.

Edit: yeah, not really. Perhaps the tone was inspired by the show in general though, if not the content.

Max and Natalie played at our house this afternoon. They remind me of two tornadoes, whirling around each other. And occasionally colliding.


It's no easy thing, carrying around a secret like mine for so long. It has weight. It is a constant companion. Which is comforting, in its own way. How could I ever be lonesome when this secret never leaves me be?

Sleep, however, can be a difficult friend. I'm sure you can imagine. I see those dark circles under your eyes. I know them. I understand them.

Words, you must be thinking. Only words. But words are powerful things. They can convey more than they appear to. Or, in some cases, precisely what they claim to. If you're paying enough attention. If you look closely.

Take, for example, the phrase Something has been weighing on my mind. Often bandied about, yes? Hardly anyone pays it any heed anymore. But take a moment. Look closer. There is truth there.

For that something truly is weighing on people. It is a weight. It can drag a person down. When someone tells you that, they are asking for help. They are telling you that they can no longer suffer their burden alone. Not for another day, another hour, not another breath. That is why they have come to confide in you. People should feel more honored to be trusted so deeply. But so many of us dismiss the very words being presented to us.

So I ask that you listen to me very, very closely, detective. For something has been weighing on my mind...