Saturday December 31st, 2016

The exercise:

Today feels like a good time to write a four line poem about a: New Year's Eve party.

Work alternated between busy and quiet this morning, but I hope that most of what was left when my shift ended managed to be sold before closing.

Parties were good. Ended up going to Kat's parents place first, then to Shannon's party. Max was excited to have two dinners, but then he ate so much at Grandma and Papa's that he didn't want to eat anything at Shannon's.

Happy New Year's to you guys. I hope 2017 is a good one for all of us.


A new year approaches
On drunken, stumbling feet,
Bringing new challenges
I am not prepared to meet...

Friday December 30th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: vanity.

Successful shop this morning. Ended up getting a new winter jacket (reg price $150, on sale for $80), a pair of warm gloves, and some clothes. Took a long time to find the jacket I wanted, and then ended up having to choose between two that I liked right before I finished. Because of course.

We've got a couple New Year's Eve get togethers planned for tomorrow night. We'll be stopping in to see Shannon (of bakery fame) and her family and a few other friends, then heading back this way for dinner and drinks with Kat's family.

But first I've got an 8 to noon bakery shift to do. So... sleepy time.


The building plans called this a walk-in closet. It's more like an airport hanger closet. I've never seen so many clothes in my life - shirts, pants, shoes, socks, belts, ties, and on, and on, and on...

It seems rather silly to have so many options, really, considering I would make a black plastic garbage bag look good.

Thursday December 29th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: target practice.

Went for a family snowshoe around the orchard this morning, with Miles on Kat's back. Max didn't last very long, but I'm hoping the more he does it the easier it gets for him.

Kat took this shot for me:

After lunch Max and I went into town to run a couple errands. Picked up a few small canvasses for him to paint, grabbed a cover for our new tablet (on sale, even), and got a deal on Christmas gift tags for next year (like 100 of them for fifty cents).

Tomorrow I'm planning on taking a solo trip to Oliver to spend a gift card I got for Christmas at Mark's. Not sure what I'll end up getting, but I hope to have fun figuring it out.


"You rang, Sire?"

"Indeed I did. And I thank you for coming with such haste."

"What do you wish of me, Sire?"

"I have important matters to discuss with you... but first I would like you to take a step to your right."

"Like this, Sire?"

"Perfect, perfect."

"... Sire?"

"Right, right. There is an artist due to arrive at court this evening. He is to paint my royal portrait and... could you take two paces forward? Thank you."

"Of course, Sire."

"I have been unable to decide in which light I would like my image to be captured. One half-step to your left, if you'd be so good. There you go. Just right, just right..."

"... Sire?"

"Ah, please excuse my absent-mindedness. So very many thoughts competing for my attention these days."

"Of course, Sire."

"Continuing my previous thought, I have been equally unable to choose which room I would like the artist to... three steps back now. That's a good lad."

"Sire.. am I being used for target practice for your son again?"

"Indeed you are! But don't worry, I checked myself to make sure that the darts are not poisonous this time."

Wednesday December 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: attrition.

Took a trip up to Penticton today to get groceries. I dropped Kat and the boys off at a friend's house so that they weren't stuck in the car for most of the day. Was basically successful in my errands. Even managed to avoid getting in a car accident when the car next to me (in the left turn lane) at an intersection decided to also go straight.

The road rage settled down eventually.

Though I feel it bubbling back up again now, so perhaps I should just get to writing...


"Status report, soldier."

"We continue to suffer heavy losses on the Eastern and Northern Fronts, sir."

"As does the enemy, I presume?"

"Yes, sir."



"This is a war of attrition, soldier. Unfortunately for our enemy - and quite fortunately for us, it almost goes without saying - we began with superior numbers."

"What are you saying, sir?"

"It's simple math, soldier. As long as each of our men takes one of theirs out with him, we will emerge victorious!"

"But... you're talking about millions of lives lost, on both sides! Who would be left to celebrate a victory such as that?"

"Soldier, as long as I'm one of the ones with a glass of champagne in my hand at the end of this nasty bit of business... well, I dare say that's all I care about!"

Tuesday December 27th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about something/someone that is: evasive.

Sorry for all the late postings recently. I shall try to put an end to them again, this time for good.


Roadblock dead ahead!
Take evasive maneuvers?
Nah. Step on the gas.

*     *     *

Answer the question!
This is your very last chance:
Where were you last night?

Monday December 26th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the smuggler.

Tried to have a quieter day today and was mostly successful in that venture. Major accomplishment was getting into town this afternoon to get groceries with Max.

Don't have anything particularly ambitious planned for tomorrow. Might try to find time to start reading one of the books I got for Christmas.

You know, if I feel like going totally crazy.


He keeps the speed of the car steady - not speeding, but not too slow either. He passes a few cars, gets passed by a handful more. His goal is to get lost in the crowd, the anonymity of traffic.

He is not entirely certain that it is working.

It is possible that the blue sedan that keeps appearing in his rearview mirror could be harmless. Nothing to be concerned with. Perhaps the driver just happens to be the Average Joe that he is attempting to mimic (in which case, he's doing very well indeed). Or maybe it's just another smuggler, with similarly illicit cargo secreted about his vehicle.

He almost smiles at that thought.

Maybe he would have if he could forget, even for a moment, the five million dollars worth of cocaine he had personally stashed in every conceivable nook and cranny of his car. Or the man who is waiting for the delivery, still five hundred miles away.

Or that his daughter's life depends on his getting every last ounce to that man before midnight.

Sunday December 25th, 2016

The exercise:

Merry Christmas! Write about: Christmas morning.

Because, you know, part two.

We have officially survived another Christmas. It was a good one this year, overall. Max and Natalie lost their minds opening presents this morning, we had nice farm family walk around the block this afternoon in the sunshine and snow, and we all got together for a big turkey dinner at Adam and Becky's house this evening.

Max got more stuff than I can remember, but he seemed to really like the yeti snowshoes Kat and I got him. Kat's promised to take him snowshoeing around the farm tomorrow, and I think Kat's mom said she'd go with him the day after that.

I got some books, some money to spend (both gift certificates and cash), and a Samsung Galaxy Tab E that was given to Kat and myself. Neither of us have had a tablet before, so it'll take some figuring out - but I think it will come in very handy.

And now... for the post Christmas letdown! Well, the post Christmas sudden loss of direction and purpose. I'm sure it won't last long. But I am fully expecting to feel it tomorrow.


The angel sits
Atop the tree
Looks down to find
Wrapping paper
As far as the eye can see

Bows on the dog
Tape on its boughs
Ribbons and boxes
Scattered around
The room like
A hurricane had froze

And in the distance
It can barely hear
And singing
As another Christmas

Saturday December 24th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the night before Christmas.

Because, you know.

Bakery was busy, busy this morning. When I left shortly after noon (Emma was willing to stay and close things up and I need a day off) there were seven loaves on the shelves and we'd sold out of cinnamon buns. I can't imagine the shop was open much longer after that.

All set for tomorrow. My poem for Kat and my short story for Max are printed up and in envelopes. All the gifts have been moved from our house to Kat's parents (where the unwrapping madness shall take place in the morning). The last presents needing to be wrapped have been wrapped. Santa's gifts are under our tree.

Which means I should probably get to sleep before Max wakes up. Otherwise he'll want to know if I saw Santa and then he'll be wide awake and there will be no getting him back to sleep.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope it's a good day for all of you.


Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the mouse
Were the sounds of digesting
A gingerbread house...

Friday December 23rd, 2016

The exercise:

On Christmas Eve Eve, let us write four lines of prose about something that has been: left to the last minute.

Not inspired by real life, you may be surprised to learn. We're pretty much ready to go for the big day here - just a couple presents left to wrap, and I need to type up and print something I've written for Max. Hoping for a busy, short day of work at the bakery tomorrow so I can get things done at a reasonable hour.

Work this morning was very, very quiet. Thankfully things picked up after lunch, as it was time to wrap a few things up for the year (all town offices are now closed until January 3rd).

Looking forward to getting through tomorrow's shift and then taking care of the final preparations for Christmas with my family. I hope you and yours are all set for the festivities as well.


"Hey Erica, what do you think of these boots?"

"Whatever, it's stupid crowded in here, just... wait, I thought you were shopping for Dad?"

"I am, and these look super comfy - plus they're on sale!"

"... have you forgotten he lost both his legs in 'Nam?"

Thursday December 22nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something that is: red and white.

Just three more sleeps until Christmas. Starting to feel somewhat ready for the big day.

Work was pretty quiet today. Had a stack of business license renewal payments in the mail, but otherwise there wasn't a whole lot to do. Hopefully it'll pick up just a little bit tomorrow, but I don't expect it to since the payments aren't due until the end of January.

Today was Kat's brother's birthday, so we went up to their parents house to have a dinner in his honor. It was a surprisingly civilized affair with four kids there. While we were eating, anyway. Before and after, however, was quite a different story.

I was very surprised I was able to get Max to sleep as quickly as I did once we got home. I'll just leave it at that.


"Would you like a candy cane, little girl?"


"Yes... what?"

"Oh. Yes, please!"

"That's better. Here you go."

"Thank you! Mmm... blech! This isn't a candy cane!"

"Sure it is! And I should know - I made it myself!"

"With what, dog butt?"

"That is just rude!"

"Oh, sorry. With what, dog butt, please?"

"Actually, if you must know, it's my very own special recipe. It has cinnamon, peppermint, water..."

"And sugar?"

"Oh, there's no sugar. That stuff is bad f-"

"Mommy! This strange man is trying to ruin Christmas!"

Wednesday December 21st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the secret Santa.

Late last week Kat and I realized that if we're going to put something under our (very little) tree at our house for Max to open 'from Santa' Christmas morning, two things are very, very likely to happen. One: he'll love it.

And two: he's going to want to know why Miles didn't get anything from Santa. And why we didn't either.

So we decided to use some of my points at Shoppers Drug Mart to get ourselves and Miles something small to go along with Max's present. We knew we'd have to get there without Max, which is no easy task. And then I started getting calls for work and more work and more work and... we had to scramble.

We met there after I got off work at 4 today while Max was still with Kat's parents and had a bit of fun picking things out for ourselves that we wouldn't normally get. Now we just need to wrap all the 'Santa' presents and keep them hidden until he goes to bed Christmas Eve.


"So who did you get for the office secret Santa gift exchange?"

"You know we're not supposed to tell anyb-"

"I got Shauna."

"What? Dude! Come on, not cool!"

"I just thought you should know."

"And I just thought everybody knew to keep things secret. You know, it is kinda right there in the name. Secret Santa?"

"Whatever, man. If the situation was reversed you'd tell me."

"No, I don't think that I would."

"She's your ex, man. You should know I'm getting her a present."

"Well, whatever. It's not like you're choosing to. Her name came out of the hat, you're stuck with her. No big deal, okay?"

"Yeah, okay."

"So... um... what are you going to get her?"


Tuesday December 20th, 2016

The exercise|

Write two haiku about: snowflakes.

Woke up to warmer temperatures and snow this morning. Snow that, by afternoon, was finally the right texture for Max to make a snowman. Thank goodness.

He's only been wanting to do that since before the first snowflake fell this year.

I wasn't around to help with it though. I got a call just before nine asking me to start my coverage at Planning and Development Services today instead of tomorrow. Like, come in as soon as you can make it, the lady you're covering for is leaving now.

I got there a bit after ten and it went pretty well. I was happy to get the extra hours and it was nice to have an early start on some of the tasks I'll be doing (mostly processing business license renewals) for the next few days.

And now, rather suddenly, I seem to be working every day from now until Christmas. I guess we'll have to work on present wrapping in the evenings.


Each one is unique?
If you say so. I ain't got
time to prove you wrong.

*     *     *

They link together,
hand in hand in hand, to form
frozen white blankets

Monday December 19th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the thief in the night.

Fell asleep Monday night before I could even come up with a prompt. Woke and figured I should just call it a day and try again on Tuesday.

So... here we are. Thank you for your patience.

Max and I got haircuts late afternoon. It's always a bit of a show with him there and he was in fine form. I had asked him on the way there what he wanted for a haircut this time and he said something very Christmassy. I asked him what he meant but he was unable to get more specific than that.

I told our hairdresser that he had a request while I was getting mine done. The three of us couldn't come up with anything he liked by the time he was up (he did not care for my suggestion that she make a Christmas star on the top of his head), so he ended up with his usual.

It was a long, roundabout, winding route there, but we ended up in the same place we nearly always do. Why does that feel like a metaphor for parenting?


Night consumes the house
And then,
Quiet as a mouse,
He comes a creeping
And without warning
He's done stealing
My waking mind
And I end up
And yet at the same time
Through dreamscapes
And pitch black
With no escape
"Dada? Wake up!
The house is cold,
You need to get the fire
What time is it?
Oh, no...
The sleep thief 
Has struck again.

Sunday December 18th, 2016

The exercise:

It's one week until Christmas! So let's all write a letter to Santa.

I helped Max write his first letter earlier this month. He got a reply about a week later, which left me feeling very impressed by our local Santa helper volunteers - that was quick work!

There's currently a south wind blowing out there, which is working on bringing the highs from -12 to either side of 0 in the coming days. Thank goodness.


Dear Santa,

My name is Eloise Ivy Danielle Blackstone, but you have my permission to call me Ellie. Just don't think that makes us friends, all right? Because we're not.

I could never be friends with someone who has such distastefully poor dietary habits.

I am, as you may have already surmised, six years old. Despite this advanced age this is, indeed, my very first letter to you. But I'm quite certain you already knew that, what with being all seeing and all knowing. I wonder: are you somehow related to God?

Oh, maybe you're a distant, rarely spoken to uncle! Like my Uncle Elwood. He's an alcoholic, but you already knew that. Could you maybe forget to deliver him his twelve bottles of rum on Christmas morning this year? Everyone would be so appreciative. Perhaps a case of carbonated water instead?

Anyway, getting to the point of this missive: my wish list. Don't worry, it is not lengthy. I know you are a very busy man and am considerate of that. Unlike all the other bratty, selfish children you receive letters from, demanding one of this and one of that and a million of the other.

No, not I. There is only one thing I want for Christmas, and so I am confident that you will be able to bring it to me in order to make my Christmas a satisfying one. Nothing else will do, so don't even think about dumping a sack full of candy or toys under my tree, do you understand?

Good. My wish, then, is simply this: I want my mother's divorce lawyer's cold, lifeless body under my tree this year. Bows and ribbons entirely optional.

I cannot be left in my father's care. I need both of my parents under this one roof, together. At least until I am old enough to inherit the family fortune. If mother and father get divorced before I come of age they will waste so much of it in court, battling back and forth. And then one of them is bound to walk away with half or more of the money (mother, I'm sure) before I am able to get my fair share. That just would not do.

I appreciate that it is only July as I write this, but I hope that you can act soon, before court proceedings get underway next month. I would not mind that the lawyer's body is not very fresh. It is more important that the very least amount be spent on this nonsense as possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to seeing the results of your work.

Very sincerely yours,

Saturday December 17th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about being: caught red-handed.

Bakery was pretty steady today. Ended up with only four loaves of bread left at closing, along with about a dozen each of cinnamon buns, croissants, and butter tarts. Not too shabby.

Very much looking forward to a few quieter days ahead, even though I'm sure that Christmas stuff will probably fill them up pretty quickly.


I stood bloody-handed
Over the man I had harmed
When the damned cops arrived...
Sigh, stupid silent alarm.

Friday December 16th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: cracking.

Today did not go at all as I'd planned or expected.

I got a call shortly before 9 this morning asking if I could do a 12 to 9 shift at the community centre today. Not really in a position to turn that down, despite the chaos that followed.

Kat had a client from 10:30 to 11:30, so I took the boys up to her parents place. But we were totally out of firewood at home, so I had to leave them with Kat's mom while I went to chop and haul wood. Then I went back to retrieve Miles (because Max, of course, wanted to stay longer), bring him home, have a shower, and leave for work.

On my 'dinner' break at 3:30 I got groceries and came home to watch the boys while Kat snuck in a shower. Then I went back to work until 8:50 (hurray for danged cold temperatures and a freezing wind sending people home early).

And then I went up to check on our friend's house on the mountain, as they've gone to Vancouver for a few days and asked me to check in on their place while they're gone. I was going to go up this afternoon but... then work called.

And tomorrow I'm at the bakery starting at 8. So... yeah, best get some sleep soon, huh?


He says he's not bothered, he's doing just fine, but I can see him beginning to wilt under the pressure. It's so relentless, so impassive, how could he not be showing signs of its influence?

I don't think he'll last much longer, no matter how brave a face he puts on for the outside world. Which is just fine by me - I'm more than ready to sop up the secrets he'll be leaking.

Thursday December 15th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: spiders.

Had the boys in town this morning while Kat was with a counselling client. All I shall say about that is that summer is a much easier time to be in charge of the both of them. Well, I'll also add: I miss warmer days, when multiple layers were not required every time we stepped out the front door.

After lunch I brought Max back to the dentist for another cleaning. He did really well again. I think he surprised the hygienist with how easy going he was about everything.

Nothing, from what I can recall, like his old man in that regard.


"Ooh, look at these ones! Reginald! Come quick! Before they all disappear into the cave walls again!"

"Goodness me, Archibald! Such magnificent coloring and markings! And so big, too!"

"Have you ever seen anything like them?"

"No, never! Perhaps we've discovered a previously unknown variety!"

"Wouldn't that just be so exciting, Reginald?"

"Oh, most definitely yes, Archibald! Why, look at this fellow here! Isn't he a large one?"

"My word! That might be the biggest spider I've ever seen! And doesn't he just look like he's watching you? Such intelligent eyes."

"Yes, yes! Watch how he tracks me as I move side to side. Fascinating, isn't.... aaaahhhhh!"

"Oooh, he's a jumper, Reginald! And a biter too, from the looks of it!"


"I'm sorry, what was that Reginald? Reginald? Really, Reginald... this is no time to be lying down on the job! Reginald...?"

Wednesday December 14th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the catacombs.

You're welcome Greg.

Highlight of the day: this morning Max and I were playing Santa Claus. Because of course we were.

The couch was the sleigh. Max was the elf (yes, the, not an - he was the only elf doing any work... for reasons I cannot recall at the moment). I was Santa, waiting for him to finish loading the presents onto the sleigh. I was impressed with all the details he was thinking up and taking care of, so I told him:

"Max, you're a very prepared little elf."

"Thanks, Dada." Slight pause. "You've a very impaired Santa!"

If only.


Whispers live down here. They emerge when the torches remain unlit for long enough. The darkness is a comfortable cloak, keeping them warm and safe as they roam these echoing hallways.

They do not take kindly to visitors. No, allow me to be perfectly accurate here. They do not believe in visitors. To them, there is no such thing.

There are only intruders.

If they had their way they would be left to their own devices for the rest of time. Would they be happy? I do not think that is the correct word. The phrase content in their misery comes to mind, however, and I think it is fitting enough to do the job for now.

They watch over the dead, keep them company. One might call them guardians, of a sort. Night watchmen, patrolling and policing this place far beneath the ground. It would be best if they were simply left to do their work in peace.

Unfortunately for everyone - us and them - there is another burial to be performed.

Tuesday December 13th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: karaoke.

Managed to get a whole lot of nothing done today. Well, other than get caught back up on comments again.

Oh, also got a call from Town Hall. I'll be working at Planning and Development Services three 8-4 days in a row to end next week. So, with those being the last working days before Christmas, I expect I'll mostly just be keeping the seat warm.

Which is fine by me, seeing as these will be my first shifts covering for this department.

In other news, I feel like Christmas is approaching a little faster than I'd like. Still need to get some things done ahead of the big day and could use some extra time for that.


You want me to do
karaoke? Ain't enough
liquor in the world.

*     *     *

He belts out old tunes
every Saturday night.
We wish he wouldn't.

Monday December 12th, 2016

The exercise:

Give us an alternate take on Advent calendars. No chocolate behind these flaps, only... something else. Confused? Use mine as an example of what I'm thinking about for this one. You can do excerpts as well or go another route entirely, depending on how you interpret the prompt.

After dropping Kat and the boys off at StrongStart this morning I did a few errands in town. Would have been a lot more pleasant without that wind - it was only -4 but it felt a whole lot colder than that.

We've got snow now, by the way. Not a huge amount, but I don't think it'll be going anywhere anytime soon, what with temperatures not going above zero in the forecast for the week ahead.

In fact, it looks like we're about to get a whole lot colder.


Advice Calendar

Dec. 1st: Finish all of your Christmas shopping in November, at the latest. Too late? Do you know what the malls look like all of this month? Ordering over the internet? Do you seriously trust the postal service to get that stuff here on time? Best to just not buy any presents at all.

Dec. 2nd: Are you opening this on December 1st? Is it because you're hoping there will be chocolate? Well, guess what? There's no chocolate here, or in any other box for that matter. This is an advice calendar, not a stuff your fat face with empty calories calendar. Get off the couch and go to the gym.

Dec. 7th: Really? That sweater with those pants? No. Just... no.

Dec. 11th: Two weeks until Christmas. Two weeks until Christmas?! Start drinking now. You know what your family is like.

Dec. 18th: If you're sober enough to read this, you're not drinking enough. Get back to work.

Dec. 24th: It's December 1st, isn't it. I told you there was no chocolate in this calendar. You sad, sad, pathetic little human. Go buy another calendar and start over.

Sunday December 11th, 2016

The exercise:

Just two weeks until Christmas already, huh? Well, if you say so...

Today we shall write about: the sleigh.

Took it pretty easy today. Still falling asleep on the couch this evening. I better get to writing.

Edit: And... too late. Sigh.


Start of the night,
So red and bright;
Full of Christmas joy
And little toys...

End of the ride:
Paint chipped off the sides,
A torn and empty sack...
And happy to be back.

Saturday December 10th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: Frosty the Snowman.

Made it to the end of my work week. Very much looking forward to having the next few days to spend with family and get some things done around the house.

Reasonably busy day at the bakery. Didn't sell out but also didn't have an excessive amount of stuff left at closing.

Sleepy now. So let's do this.


He's in the front yard,
Searching for his hat;
At this chilly pace,
He'll take a while at that...

Friday December 9th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the party band.

Sold out of most everything at the bakery today and ended up closing shortly after 3, which let me get out of there by 4. Came home, had a little nap, and then headed to the community centre for the Christmas party.

Food was good, got to chat with a few people I knew, got to meet some new folks. Music was good but I needed to get out of there early, what with working tomorrow morning at 8.

Speaking of which... it's probably bedtime. So...


"Hey, where do you want us to set up?"

"Right over there would be perfect."

"Behind the curtains... but then nobody will be able to see us playing!"

"That would be for the best, really, seeing as you're all rather... unfortunate to look at."

Thursday December 8th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something that is: underground.

Yup, much quieter at the bakery today. Ended up with 18 loaves at closing, along with lots of bagels and a few croissants and cinnamon buns. Didn't get out of there until just after 4:30 after starting at 9.

With this being my second day in a row, I am very tired right now. Not sure how I'm going to get through the next few days, especially with the Town of Osoyoos staff Christmas party tomorrow night.

Pretty sure I'll be making an early exit from that one.


Consciousness returns slowly, stumbling along on drunken legs. Nausea is close on its heels, moving with unwanted enthusiasm. Memory... memory is absent.

"What...?" I was going to ask What is going on? but that first word did not sound right. It echoed, but it was more than that. It was the... proximity of the surface from which it bounced back to my ears.

Okay. Take a moment to take stock of the situation. Of this continuing blackness. My eyes are open, right? Deep breath. The air stinks of sweat and piss. It's earthy and stale as well. Hints of... a wood of some sort. Is that pine?

Okay. Another deep breath. I feel like I didn't get as much oxygen that time. Maybe not so deep the next time.

Okay. I am flat on my back. My head aches. It seems to be radiating from a point just behind my right ear. That's... probably not a good sign. Is it bleeding? Best check now.

Except... my hands seem to be bound at my waist. Rope. Attached to my belt? I sit up to take a look...

And hit my forehead. On the previously detected wood.

I'm not liking this. The more I discover, the less I want to know. But knowledge comes anyway.

I've been buried alive. In a pine box. Bound and possibly bloody. My oxygen supply is only going to decrease. How did I get here? Don't ask me.

I can't even remember my name.

Wednesday December 7th, 2016

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: cloak and dagger.

Day one of four at the bakery this week done. Was basically sold out of bread by one, but kept the shop open until shortly after two in an attempt to sell cinnamon buns and other things. Managed to only have 4 buns left at closing, and no loaves, croissants, focaccia, baguettes, or ciabatta.

Will likely be quieter tomorrow, but we shall see.


The letter had been unsigned. Nothing odd there - that was typically the case, in matters such as this. I always found it rather aggravating though. Was it legitimate or just another trap? How could I be sure it was even meant for me?

That's why I never followed the directions in those letters too closely. I preferred to find a vantage point that allowed me to see the indicated meeting place and its surrounding area. Look out for familiar faces - both friendly and otherwise. Make certain that not only were the directions meant for me, but that it was safe to approach.

That's what I'm doing now, sitting here in this sidewalk cafe with a coffee on the table in front of me and an open newspaper hiding me from view. The meet is supposed to be at the base of the statue looming over the middle of the square. There's enough tourists around that I could easily get closer, but that's not my style. The deeper into a mess you get, the harder it is to extract your-

"Excuse me," my waiter says, his hands clasped in front of him. "There's a call for you, Mr. Nicholas."

"I see." This is an interesting development. "Well then, lead the way."

He turns sharply on his heel and takes me on a winding route between the crowded tables and chairs and into the interior of the cafe. I turn to the left to go to the maitre d's station, but he turns right.

"This way please, Mr. Nicholas."

"Sorry, I thought I saw a phone over there when I arrived."

"Oh, you did," he says as he turns away. "Your call will be taken in the manager's office in the back."

Hmm. Another interesting development.

Tuesday December 6th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: hibernation.

Bit of a rough start to the day, but things recovered by early afternoon. Ran some errands in town, had a pleasant roasted chicken dinner with the family (Miles may have eaten too much chicken for his tiny belly... but he's gotta start working on learning that lesson eventually, right?), and enjoyed a cozy evening in front of the fireplace with Kat.

I'm covering for Emma at the bakery this week, so I'll be working full shifts Wednesday to Saturday. I'm hoping we'll sell out early on at least a couple of those days.


The cold has arrived.
I think I shall stay inside
for a month or four...

*     *     *

He slumbers in his
cave, blissfully unaware
of our wintry blues

Monday December 5th, 2016

The exercise:

Today we bring our yearlong tale about the House of Mercy to a conclusion. It's been quite a ride, and I would like to thank Morganna again for getting us started on the journey.

What's in store for next year's prompt? I haven't figured that out yet.

But for now... let's focus on finishing this one off, shall we?

Edit: blargh, sleep. Sorry for the late posting once again


Traditionally, there are four known ways to kill a vampire. Though they are well known, I shall list them for you anyway:

1. Sunlight.
2. Wooden stake through the heart.
3. Silver.
4. Beheading.

There you are. Nothing too complicated, yes? Have a vampire infestation, just pick something from the above list and problem solved. Right?

Well. Perhaps.

You see, there are some who believe this compilation of methods is not entirely... accurate. I count myself a member of this fraternity of doubters. I would suggest that you too, dear reader, have your suspicions.

Why else, then, would you be reading this copy of Real, True Facts About Vampires?

"Because I'm an idiot?" Julie muttered before turning to the next page. She was sitting on her bed, back in her apartment again. It was a cloudy, dark afternoon outside her window but she was paying little attention to the weather.

So, back to the list for the moment, for there our problems begin. Realistically, only the first two methods - sunlight and staking - will kill a vampire with any (apparent) certainty. The other two - silver and beheading - are even less trustworthy.

Silver acts more as a slowing, or weakening agent. One would need a lot of the stuff to finish a vampire off. Useful for keeping a monster in place - handcuffs made of silver come readily to mind - but something like, say, a silver bullet would merely serve to slow the beast's fearsome healing powers.

Speaking of those powers, you might be wondering if one could even recover from having its head removed from its body entirely. There is some evidence to suggest that is, indeed, the case.

"Of for crying out loud," Julie said with a shake of her head. "What is wrong with me? Six months later and I still can't let it go."

She continued reading anyway.

There is also some evidence that the best way to ensure a vampire is gone for good is to use a combination of all four methods. This is especially true when dealing with the most powerful members of this race, who are well known to have significant psychic abilities. It has been theorized that if they are damaged too severely, they will go into hiding until they have fully recovered. Where, precisely, they might go during this time is unknown.

The most troubling aspect of all of this, at least to myself, is that there is a strong possibility that the source of this widespread misinformation is the vampires themselves. They do not wish for us to know th-

Julie's head snapped up at the sound of the apartment door unlocking. She slammed the book shut and quickly shoved it under her pillow before picking up a pen and her journal from her bedside table. Flipping it open to a random blank page, she began to scribble mindlessly.

"Hello?" Anne called from the entrance way. "Julie? You home?"

"In here!"

"Still in your bedroom?" Anne said, leaning one hip against her door frame. "You need to get out more, girl. You've done enough therapy writing in that thing. It's safe beyond these walls now, trust me."

"Uh huh," Julie said, shrugging her shoulders and shifting her weight around on the bed. "I guess I'm just having trouble believing that Cecilie is really gone."

"She is. I killed her with my own two hands, remember?" Julie looked up, wanting to believe her friend's words. She searched Anne's eyes for some shred of proof that she wasn't lying but couldn't find it. "Can I come in?"

"Yeah," Julie said, frowning. "Why do you always ask? You know you're welcome."

Sunday December 4th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the chase.

A refresher before reading mine, for those that need it. Because it's, ah... been a while since last we heard from these three.

Day started out sunny, then we got hit with a windstorm and snow, then it went back to being nice again in the afternoon. If the forecast is to be believed, then temperatures have just dipped below zero outside and won't be going back into the positives for the rest of the week.

I suppose that's all right, what with it being December and all.


"They're shooting at us!"

"Drive! Just keep dri- aaaaahhhhh!"

"Crystal? Crystal!"

"Eyes on the road! I'm fine. I think."

"You've been shot, Crystal."

"No kidding, Tammy. Now hit the floor unless you want to join the club."

"Are you okay? Should I pull over?"

"Are you kidding me? If you take your foot off that gas pedal I'll shoot you myself."

That was the last thing any of us said for the next ten or fifteen minutes. I kept the van pointed south while Tammy scanned the maps for alternative routes. Crystal, slumped down in the passenger seat with her left hand pressed against her right shoulder and breathing in pained gasps, kept her eyes on her rear view mirror. I kept waiting for her to announce that the cops were gaining on us but she never did.

"We need to get her to a doctor," I said when I couldn't take the silence any longer.

"Pretty sure I told you I don't want to go to jail," Crystal said, but her words lacked her usual fierceness.

"She's lost a lot of blood," Tammy pointed out. She was still flat on her stomach in the back, her nose in a map of Southern California. I passed a pickup truck and had to swerve hard to get back into our lane to avoid a head-on. She wore softly as she slid to her left.

"What's our best option to find somebody to help her?"

"Would you two stop talking about me like I'm not here? I'm not dead yet, you kn-- ahhh... damn it."

"Relax, Crystal," I said as I maneuvered us around a red sedan. "Tammy?"

"Take the turn for Visalia. Should be coming up in about ten minutes if you keep this up." She paused to mutter something under her breath. Pretty sure it was something along the lines of I hope you don't. "It's big enough that we should be able to find a clinic, get Crystal's shoulder patched up, and be on the road again before anybody notices."

"Okay," I said, relieved to have a plan again.

"I'll stay with her, keep the doc honest," Tammy continued slowly, as though she were still figuring things out. "It'll take some time, easily enough for you to go and find us another ride."

"What?" I said, my relief washed away by a flood of panic.

"We can't keep the van," Tammy pointed out. "We gotta switch to something else. Get to Bakersfield, ditch whatever you get us in Visalia and do it again. Get to L.A. and pull the trick one last time before we head for the border."

"What?" I said again. "I don't know how to steal a car! If I somehow managed to pick the lock I'd probably electrocute myself trying to hotwire it!"

"Well then," Crystal said just before she finally blacked out, "I guess you'll have to carjack some poor sucker."

Saturday December 3rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: Santa school.

Work at the bakery was fine today, though I'm certainly the most tired I've been in a while right now. Definitely the hardest I've pushed myself since the vasectomy, so I'm going to try to get to bed early'ish tonight.

Need to give the final installment of House of Mercy some thought, so it won't be tomorrow. Maybe Monday?


A swarming sea of Santas
Are learning to be jolly,
Though plying them with liquor
Must surely lead to folly...

Friday December 2nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the first snowfall.

Because that's what we had this morning, just after breakfast. Snowed enough to build up a little bit, but then was gone a few hours later when the precipitation turned to rain.

It was enough to get Max excited and I took him for a walk around the farm while it was still coming down. I was not dressed warmly enough for the occasion but he was happy in his new snowsuit.

This evening's shift at the community centre was rather chaotic. There was a fundraiser dinner for the local high school grads in the gym, so the place was buzzing with noise all night. I didn't have much to do at the front desk, but the general atmosphere of stress as they were setting up and the busyness of people coming and going all night didn't exactly encourage a peaceful, relaxed mindset.

I was glad that someone else was there to deal with the cleanup and getting everybody out, as the event went right until the end of my scheduled shift. I couldn't exactly do my usual lockup before leaving, but I did what I could.

Back to the bakery tomorrow morning for the first time in... what, three weeks? I'll let you know if I still remember anything to do with the job.


With a squirming, face-grabbing, smiling infant in his arms, he walks from the kitchen and into the living room. His morning coffee hasn't taken hold yet, and his body language mutters tired and the end never seems to be in sight.

But then he looks out the window and a smile lights up his face as he turns his son so that they can share the view and he begins, softly, to sing.

"Oh... it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

Thursday December 1st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the healer.

Feeling pretty good today. I've got basic movement back in the pain-free zone, though I still need to be careful as there are still movements that can tweak things enough to make me stop to pay attention. But I'm generally feeling like things are going in the right direction.

Good thing, too. I've got a 4 to 9 shift at the community centre tomorrow night, followed by an 8 to closing shift at the bakery on Saturday. Fairly ideal timing as it turns out.

At least, that's how I feel about it at the moment. We'll see what I think in a couple days.


Bring me your innocent and pure of heart. Let their illnesses gaze upon me and tremble. Allow me to bear witness to their weaknesses, their frailties, their maladies and viruses.

I will ease them of their burdens. They shall breath out their black clouds, I shall breathe them in. I will invite their diseases and mental disorders and deteriorating organs in to be my guests.

And make no mistake, that is all they are: guests. They will not be permanent residents. They cannot be. I do not have strength enough for such feats. I myself would succumb all too quickly. But I have strength enough.

Enough strength to be their temporary host. To take them away from those who suffer so dearly and so unfairly. To carry them with me until such a time as I find a more... deserving host to bestow them upon.

Wednesday November 30th, 2016

The exercise:

Let's get back to the Random CD prompt, shall we?

Go ahead and pick a song as randomly as you like. Or maybe just use one that's been stuck in your head recently. However you do it, borrow your chosen song's first line and use it as your own (after credit goes where credit does). And then... take it from there.

The final day of November already, huh? December looms. The Christmas month. The final entry for House of Mercy. The last days of 2016.

Not sure if I'm ready for any of it, but that's not going to change anything. So I might as well just say: bring it on.


Gypsy by Lady Gaga (yeah, I know. I actually wanted to use a different song but the opening line wasn't inspiring much of anything.)

Sometimes a story has no end.

If you're sitting there thinking to yourself, Oh yeah, I get what he means. I've seen The Neverending Story, then get out. The door is right over there. I don't have time for your fantasy nonsense.

Because, you see, what I'm talking about is real. There are tales that cannot be bound by life and death, space or time. They are too big. Too important.

I'm not talking about something with no beginning and no end. Of course it has a beginning. Everything does.

I do not know who started the tale. Or why. Or even when. But I do know one thing for certain.

This story will not, cannot end.

Tuesday November 29th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the setback.

Woke up this morning in a fair amount of discomfort - much worse than I'd felt yesterday. I was worried I'd pushed myself too hard, but I think I just slept in a bad position. Feeling much better now, plus I got a prompt out of it.

Kat had a counselling client this morning so the boys went up to her parents house, since I'm not supposed to be lifting Miles yet. Even though I am. But I'm trying to do it sparingly.

Anyway. I went into town and did a few errands and grabbed a coffee, then came home to rest. Tomorrow will mark one week since the procedure, so I'm hoping the end of the awkwardness and soreness is in sight.


Things were going so...
Well, I guess not. If they were,
how'd I get back here?

*     *     *

Some days it feels like
someone plucks me up and sets
me half a mile back

Monday November 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Write something which takes place: under the bridge.

I am dangerously close to catching up on comments. Like, completely. Yeah, I know - hard to believe.

Amazing what forced recuperation time can do. Although I'm heading into dangerous territory now - whenever I rest for long enough I tend to forget that I'm still hurting. So far little tweaks have served as reminders, but I better be careful before I do something too strenuous without thinking about it.

Took Max to the park after lunch to get him some outside time, as well as give the house some quiet while Miles was napping. I brought him back home before soccer and let Kat and Miles go with him while I rested at home, which felt very different.

I was very pleased to hear that he did really well, and that he did most of it while Kat sat with Miles in the stands. He is willing to take steps toward independence, it's just that sometimes he needs a solid shove to get there.


"How's business today?"

It was a joke as old as their blankets, but the two men still laughed.

"Oh, you know. Not bad, not bad. You?"

"Could be worse."

"No, it couldn't."

Same old jokes, same old laughs.

"Hey, you hear about Billy?"

"Billy? Which one?"

"The littlest one. You know, always looked like he was about to keel over if the wind blew too hard?"

"Right, right. What about 'im?"

"I guess that windstorm last night musta carried him away."

"Away where?"

"Away somewheres else. He's missing."

"Well, I hope he landed in greener pastures."

"Guess we'll never know."

"Not 'less that wind carries him back our way someday."

"What, you a poet now?"

"You know it. Come on, buy my book and I'll sign your copy for ya."

"Nah, I'm good for toilet paper for at least a few more days."

Different joke. Same old laughs.