Monday February 29th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the chief.

Taking a break from the Wastelands today. Still on my mind, though.

Max and I helped Kat's parents clear out tumbleweeds from their fence line this morning, as they're having a deer fence installed this week. That basically involved raking them into piles and then setting said piles on fire. You may be surprised by how hot that stuff burns, even when there's not much of it.

This afternoon we were back at soccer class, which was its usual good time. I could tell Max was tired, but he hung in there pretty well.

And now I am about ready to zonk out myself, so I'll get to my writing now.


He has not left his tent in days. They say he is consulting his advisers - both earthly and spiritual. That they expect us to believe the latter says much of what they think of us. Few among us still trust the guidance of our ancestors, especially in matters such as these.

How could they have ever faced an enemy such as ours?

They say he will emerge soon, carrying a message and a purpose and a direction. That he will have found a path through this wilderness and he will guide us to it and along it. I wonder if they believe this nonsense themselves, or simply wish to.

Every passing day is costing our people dearly. Our numbers dwindle, as do our provisions. This is not leadership. This is timidity. We do not need to find a trail through the darkness.

We need to blaze one.

I know he is in his tent. I know he is not consulting. I know he is not meditating. I know he is not seeking a solution to our problems. Instead, he searches for a solution to his own.

For he is dying.

Clinging to his life while his people lose their grip on theirs all around him. Does he not know? Does he not care? He was not always this selfish. The fever, perhaps, has made him this way.

I hoped for his recovery too, once. No longer. This has gone on too long. Our people need a new leader now. Not in a week, or two weeks, or a month. It will be too late then. Now. Now is the time.

So I sit in my tent, whetting my knife, and I wait and watch for my opportunity to put an end to this impasse.

Sunday February 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the dark season.

I'm going to pretend that today will be the end of my steampunk writings for now. We'll see what tomorrow brings, I guess.

But for now, I'm bringing things back to a scene that took place before my opening on Thursday. Because, apparently, that was not where this tale began.


It's coming was spoken of, but not by those who had a reputation for sanity that they wished to maintain. Old men in tattered robes stood or sat on street corners and warned passersby of what was to come. Toothless hags screamed from their bedroom windows at anyone who came within earshot.

The dark season will soon be upon us, they said. Get yourselves ready.

Ready to do what? a few bothered to ask.

To leave, they replied. Every last one of them said it. To leave.

When it came at last we thought it was just another winter. The grey clouds arrived to cover the sky at their usual time. Warmth seeped slowly away. There were no early indications that it would be a winter without end.

Captain Miranda was one of the first to start assembling a flight crew. When I agreed to be her helmsman I didn't know where we were headed or why. I was in need of a job, that's all. My desire to leave the city had nothing to do with that itch at the back of my neck that kept telling me that something was deeply wrong.

Nothing at all.

We launched at night. While it was certainly unusual, it was also not unheard of. At any rate, no one tried to stop us. No crew member left word of where we were headed. I don't think any of us had anyone to tell, really.

When we reached the edge of the Wastelands two days later there were some murmurings among the crew but it never neared mutiny. We trusted Captain Miranda. She had told us we were going to find the sun again and we believed her. Each of us would follow her orders to the very end, there was no doubt of that.

Even if it meant flying over the most dangerous, inhospitable terrain our planet had to offer.

Saturday February 27th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the inscription.

Steampunk obsession continues. For reference, imagine mine carved into a stone that my narrator encounters after wandering aimlessly through the Wastelands for two or three days.

Spectacular late morning to mid-afternoon here today. We had lunch on the deck for the first time this year, and I was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals when I went into town shortly after that.

Of course, it still gets wickedly cold in a heckuva hurry once the sun starts to go down. But my goodness, is the sun ever glorious when it's hanging out in a clear blue sky.


There is a town filled with beautiful women,
That only serves ice cold beer;
But concern yourself not with this place my friend,
For it is far, far from here...

Friday February 26th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about something that takes place: at the break of dawn.

I, um, may be getting caught up in whatever it was that I started yesterday.

With Kat's parents still feeling ill, I had Max this afternoon. We ran a few errands in town together and then we came back to the farm to pick up Natalie so that they could play together at the park.

It was such a warm, sunny day that there were plenty of kids already there when we arrived. I had the car window rolled down on the way there and was just wearing a light long-sleeve and jeans until the sun decided to hide behind some clouds around 4 o'clock.

Spring, spring, spring, springity spring...


The first rays of sunshine wake me to the start of a new day. It takes a few moments to realize that I am curled into a ball on hard-packed earth.

I ease into a sitting position, noting at least four severe injuries that I can't recall incurring, and find myself staring at the blackened wreck of my airship less than a hundred feet away.

Within an hour I know that there are no other survivors, my left wrist is broken, and that I am, undeniably, stranded somewhere in the Wastelands.

Thursday February 25th, 2016

The exercise:

Today let us take the opportunity to write some: steampunk.

It's a genre that captures my imagination on occasion but only rarely seem to explore. I saw something on Facebook the other day that reignited my interest but I'm not going to try to find it now, because Facebook is a hot mess.

Max had another good day at daycare. Natalie was back there after skipping Tuesday to go meet her new sister in Penticton. That was the first time Max had been there without her and it was totally fine, which is a relief.

Now we don't feel like we have to match days with her, though obviously that's the preference. Just allows for a little more flexibility on our part.


Standing at the elevated rear of the ship, one gloved hand on the tiller, I keep one eye on the movements of the crew and the other on the airspace ahead of us. I listen to the soft, regular hisses coming from the engine and the chimes being sounded by the navigational instruments. My nostrils are filled with the scents of oil and leather and gunpowder. I relish the cool breeze on the exposed skin of my face and arms.

I do not look down.

We are flying over the Wastelands. Have been for days now. There is nothing to see down there, or at least there is nothing I want to see. The only thing I need to know about the Wastelands is that there is no safe place to land a ship.

Beyond that... inquiring minds will only find madness.

I have been told that it does not go on forever, that there is something beyond its far edge. What that might be, when we might arrive, and who may reside there? These are not my concerns. I am not the captain.

That doesn't mean I'm not curious, of course. But I have my duties and that is where my focus remains. For now, at least. Our fuel reserves are fine for the time being but we will have to land eventually. This cannot continue forevermore.

And the captain does not strike me as the sort of woman who intends to test the hospitality of the Wastelands. So she must have some idea of what she is doing. Right?

Three rapid bells from the navigational instruments. And again. We have company. Perfect.

I needed something else to think about.

Wednesday February 24th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the impostor.

Spent the day with Max, as Kat wasn't feeling up to taking him to music class this morning and she had a counselling client after lunch. Normally he spends Wednesday afternoons with Kat's parents but her dad was away at a conference and her mom was sick.

Class was fun. Took him to the park after lunch, which was both fun and surprising. Well, only surprising because it hadn't occurred to me how much more he'd be able to do compared to when we'd last been there together in the fall.

It's amazing what a little more height and a lot more coordination can lead to.


They can't know I'm not one of them. This would all end in a heartbeat if they realized I don't belong here. Just act natural. God, what horrible advice that is. Like I have any idea what natural is supposed to be to these people.

And yet, here I am, telling myself to act natural.


"Yes?" No hesitation. That's good. It's almost as though that's always been my name.

"Come this way please."

Oh no... they're on to me. Where's the nearest exit? Oh good, there are only fifty people between me and the doors. That would end well.

"Do you mind if I visit the washroom first?" I ask, knowing that I'm grasping at straws.

"This will only take a minute, sir." He eyes me silently for a moment. When I don't move he clears his throat. "They are waiting for you."

"Right, of course." There are too many people here, too many witnesses. I'm safe. For now. What's the harm in going with him? There will be time to run later.

Assuming they don't break my legs.

"Ah, it's a pleasure to meet you face to face at last Owen!" The man who greets me as I enter the private library is tall, slender, and older than my grandfather. Yet he moves with surprising grace and his handshake shows his strength. I couldn't break his grip if I tried.

"It is an honor that you've taken the time to see me," I say with a smile that feels as fake as my name. "I don't want to take up too much of your evening..."

"Nonsense! Come sit with us for a while. Edgar? Fetch us some tea, won't you?" He brings me to circle of armchairs filled with a who's who of people I have no business being in the same room with. Not the real me, at least. Owen, on the other hand...

"Hello gentlemen," I say as I ease into the only unoccupied seat. "So. Who's ready to bomb some rebel villages back to the stone age?"

Tuesday February 23rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about something that is: brand new.

Kat and I met our new niece today. We left Max in daycare since he wasn't quite over his cold, but we're hoping he can meet his new cousin on Thursday or Friday, depending on when Becky is discharged from the hospital.

Say hello to Emersyn Claire (picture taken about two hours after birth):

And in six weeks or so, we get one of those too! A boy model, but I suspect just as cute.


Emerging from the
darkness of a quiet womb;
welcome to the world

*     *     *

Fresh out of the box
snow-white sneakers - so of course
Mom made spaghetti...

Monday February 22nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the contestant.

There were only seven kids at soccer class today, so Max had lots of room to work with. He seems to like not being too crowded and I think this was one of his best sessions so far. Definitely showed off more of what he's capable of doing, in particular his awesome kicks.

I don't know where his interests will take him in the coming years, but I feel like if he sticks with soccer he'll do very well for himself.

It was a (relatively) warm and sunny day, so we spent some time after class with the other kids playing in the playground between the community centre and the elementary school next door. It's getting to be that time of year again.

Thank goodness.


I need to relax. I'm stressing myself out over nothing. I know that. It's not like I'm the first person to ever go on TV for the very first time in their lives as a contestant on a game show. Countless others have travelled this road before me. I am not special.

And yet, somehow, none of these rationalizations are doing anything to calm my nerves.

It's not helping that something seems... off. I'd dismiss it as more anxiety driven nonsense, but I swear the backstage crew can sense it too. The way they're moving, talking, looking at each other. Or, mostly, not looking at each other.

Obviously I've never been in an environment like this before today, but it all feels... not right, somehow. Maybe this is just typical and it's not matching up with what I was figuring it would be. Not that I was aware that I had any expectations coming into this.

Seriously, though. Shouldn't there be a studio audience out there awaiting my arrival on stage? Why isn't there a studio audience?

"Hey!" I turn to find a fat man wearing a headset rushing toward me. "I've been looking all over for you. I need your key."

"My key? To what?"

"Whaddya mean, to what? To the cage, you moron! Come on, hand it over."

"I think you've mistaken me for someone else," I tell him with what I hope comes across as an apologetic shrug. "The cage? What cage?"

"Oh, so you're a funny guy, huh? Well we ain't got time for funny. Give me the key to the lion's cage."

"The.. what?"

"Come on, funny man. The taping starts in five minutes and I need to be able to release your big kitty pet on cue."

"Oh, that key," I say as I begin to slowly back away. "To that cage. Right, my bad. I must have left it in my car... be right back! Won't be a minute!"

Sunday February 21st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the consultant.

Max and I both had much happier days today. Which is quite something on his part, seeing as he has come down with yet another cold. Kat's got it as well, but so far I've managed to avoid it. Just gotta keep moving, right?


Hoping they're both healthy enough to meet our new niece, who is expected to arrive via scheduled c-section Tuesday morning.

Because, uh, I'd feel kinda guilty about going to see her without them. Especially Kat. She seemed unimpressed this evening when I promised to take lots of pictures...


"I'm sorry, you're a what?"

"You heard me."

"... I guess I did. So you, like, do this professionally?"

"Absolutely. And I make a very good living doing what I do."

"I find that hard to believe."

"Well, not everyone in my field can afford the suits that I can afford. Then again, I'm one of the very best."

"I imagine the competition is fierce."

"You're mocking me when you should be hiring me. I could be the difference maker you never knew you needed."

"Do you guarantee your results?"

"Of course. Happy client, happy consultant. More references from you, happier bank account for me."

"You got a business card or something?"

"Take three, pass them out to your buddies. From what I've seen, they could use me almost as badly as you do. That is, assuming you're not going to hire me for yourself."

"I didn't say that. Let me look at that."

"Take your time."

"Huh, it even says it right here: Professional Mini Golf Consultant."

"Give me a week and you'll be getting nothing but hole-in-ones on every course in the Midwest."

Saturday February 20th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: Wonderland.

As in Alice's Adventures in. Don't know how I ended up with this one, other than to say that Kat was using the computer and I was trying to come up with a prompt that I knew for sure I hadn't used before.

Max had a pretty cranky day today. So did I. Not sure who got there first, but the one certainly did not help the other.


A slip, a trip, and a stumble,
Down the rabbit hole she goes!
What wonders await her landing?
Well... nobody really knows.

Friday February 19th, 2016

The exercise:

We're skipping our usual four lines of prose on Friday this week, and instead concluding A Tale In Three Parts, the Past Present Future edition.

So today let us see what the Future has in store for our characters.

Good, uneventful appointment at the midwife clinic this morning. Can't ask for much more than that at this point.


Howard sat at the corner table in the games room, staring out the window and doing his best to ignore everyone else in his vicinity. The two men playing a card game he would never understand, the three women watching some godawful reality show on the TV in the opposite corner, the nurses moving in and out of the room carrying trays filled with medicine or, worse, empty trays in their hands.

He hated them all.

"How's your coffee this morning, Howard?"

"It's an amazing thing, Emily," he said without turning to look at the nurse. "For as long as I've been here, the coffee has been uniquely awful every single day. Always terrible, but never terrible in the exact same way. Incredible. Almost think you people do it on purpose."

"Who says we don't?" Emily asked and placed a paper cup with two pills inside it on the table beside his mug. After Howard ignored it, as expected, she added, "I've got strict orders not to leave until you take your medicine."

"Oh yeah? From who?"

"From me, Howie." Grace rolled up to the table in her wheelchair, gifting Emily with a kindly smile before turning her attention to her husband. "You've been skipping doses again."

"Thought you wouldn't notice," Howard said, shifting around in his seat.

"And why would you think that?" Grace asked with a faint smile. "Just because it took me almost a week to realize you'd replaced our coffee pot on our seventh anniversary?"

"Maybe." Howard cleared his throat, finally turning to look at the paper cup in front of him.

"Can you believe this man?" Grace asked Emily with a slow shake of her head. "Nearly fifty-three years later and he still won't shut up about it!"

"Yes, Grace," Emily said with a smile she could not conceal, "I absolutely can believe this man."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Howard asked before shoving his pills in his mouth and chasing them down with a sip from his mug. "And would you please get these bastards to hire someone who knows how to fix a cup of damned coffee?"

Thursday February 18th, 2016

The exercise:

A Tale In Three Parts continues today, as our Past Present Future prompt brings us to the: Present.

Had a grey and rainy morning here, but things did improve after lunch. The sun even peeked through a couple times, which was nice.

Heading up to Penticton tomorrow morning for a midwife appointment and to run a couple errands. Bringing Max with us, which should be fun as we're meeting with a midwife who we worked with last time around. Not sure when the last time she saw Max was, but I know it's been a while.


Grace sat down at the table across from her husband, the plate of butter-saturated toast and glass of orange juice awaiting her arrival like prisoners at a firing squad. They were not long for this world, and they knew it.

"Morning Sweets," Howard said without taking his eyes off the newspaper in his hands. "Sleep okay?"

"Yeah, not bad." Grace sipped her drink as she studied Howard. He looked rough after staying up late last night - long after she herself had gone to sleep - and seemed like he could use a mug or two of coffee. In fact, his appearance reminded her of the first time they had met, when she'd invited him over to her apartment for a pick-me-up.

Now he only had water in his glass though. Their coffee pot had broken two weeks ago and had not yet been replaced, despite repeated reminders and urgings from Grace. Howard kept insisting that he could just have his morning caffeine injection at work and there was no need to buy a new pot, especially with money so tight.

Money, in Grace's opinion, was not that tight. Likely his new secretary was taking care of his coffee needs in the office. Lucy or Lucky or whatever the hell that bimbo's name was.

"Need me to pick up anything from the store on the way home?" Howard asked. He folded the paper up, more or less neatly, and placed it on the table as he stood up.

Yeah, Grace thought, a goddamned coffee pot.

"No, I think we're good. We're just ordering pizza tonight, right?"

"Yeah, right. It is Friday after all. All right. See you when I get home." Howard paused on his way out of the kitchen to giver her a peck on the top of her head. "Have a good day."

"Thanks," Grace murmured. "You too."

Grace sat without moving for a long time. It certainly was Friday. That meant pizza and a movie. It was a ritual they rarely missed. So why should that change tonight, just because it was their seventh wedding anniversary?

It wasn't like Howard even realized it anyway.

Wednesday February 17th, 2016

The exercise:

Far, far too much time has passed. Let us have another go at telling A Tale In Three Parts.

Click the link for a full refresher, but the basic idea is we get today, tomorrow, and Friday to tell our stories, all emanating from the same prompt. And what prompt might that be, you ask?

Past Present Future.

Today we begin in the past. Tomorrow we bring our tales to the present. Friday's finale will send our tales into the future.

The amount of time separating each installment is entirely up to you. Just go with whatever makes sense for the story you're telling. I had a lot of fun last time we tried this, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys can do this time around.

So let us begin with: Past.


Howard was not having the best start to his day. It had been a late one with the boys the previous night and there had not been nearly enough time to sleep it off before his alarm had gone off that morning. He needed to be in class, ready to take his mid-term exam, and focused on his academic career in less than twenty minutes.

He also desperately needed a good cup of coffee. Whatever was sloshing around in the mug clutched in his hands was anything but that. Howard closed his eyes and tried to picture himself at a cafe in Paris, rather than in the campus cafeteria which actually surrounded him.

"You look like you've seen some things you'd like to forget," a woman said as she took the seat across the table from him. Howard looked up to tell her off but no words escaped his mouth. "Don't worry, I won't ask if you don't want to tell."

"Thanks?" Howard took a sip to buy himself time to gather his thoughts and immediately regretted it. What utter, liquefied horse manure. "You, on the other hand, look like you just left a modelling session."

That was not something he'd normally say, so he decided to blame it on the hangover. It was true though. Perfectly styled short blonde hair, just the right amount of makeup, a flattering top from the hippest store in town. She was out of his league but appeared not to realize it.

She had, after all, chosen to sit at his table and start talking to him.

"Thanks," she said with a smile that caused his heart to skip three or four beats. "No question mark."

"I'm Howard."


"Nice to meet you."

"Likewise." Grace tilted her head to the side as she seemed to consider an idea that had just occurred to her. "You need a proper cup of coffee. I know a place just around the corner. Makes the best brew in the city. You interested?"

He most certainly was.

Tuesday February 16th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the river.

Utterly beautiful day here today. Apparently they took full advantage at daycare, as when I picked Max up I was told by one of his teachers that he'd spent four hours outside.

Sounds like my son all right.

I shall cherish the memory of today's warmth in the coming days, for the forecast is calling for almost nothing but clouds and rain for the next five days.


Step in and let go;
I will carry away the
weight of your sorrows

*     *     *

Sitting on the bank
at the bend in the river -
I am the lookout

Monday February 15th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something or someone that is: frenetic.

Had fun with Max at a very busy soccer class this afternoon. Not that there were a lot of kids there, it's just that his coach put them through a lot of drills this time. At least that's the way it seemed to me.

Things have been pretty quiet on the job search front recently. Hoping that changes soon.


"He's like a puppy dog, coming home for the very first time."

"That's not very nice."

"Nice? No. Accurate? Yeah."

"I suppose."

"You suppose? We're lucky he hasn't broken anything or ruined any of our carpets."

"Yeah... right..."

"No. Don't tell me."

"I'm not telling you anything! There's nothing to tell."


"... but, on a completely unrelated note, you might want to stay out of the upstairs closet."

Sunday February 14th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: Saint Valentine.

Either the real one(s?) or one you come up with yourself.

Had a lovely dinner out with Kat this evening while Max ate with Kat's parents. We had a four course set menu, with two choices for appetizer, main dish, and desert. We both went for the salmon option for our mains and ordered one of each of the other two. Very, very good food.

I am sleepy now, so let's get to it.

Edit: ah, not fast enough to avoid the lengthy nap on the couch, I see.


A holiday in my honor,
Long after I am a goner?
Full of hearts and cards and dinners,
For all sorts of naughty sinners?

That's all fine and well I suppose,
As long as the men still propose.
And, not to kill the romance, but
Go on and tell me: What's my cut?

Saturday February 13th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: Prince Charming.

Because tomorrow is Valentine's Day? No. Inspired instead by Max, who is just ridiculous to observe when he's out in public these days.

This morning we went to Oliver to get Kat a new cell phone, since her old one has been dying a slow death for the last few months. The woman attempting (and who eventually managed) to sell her the phone observed at one point something along the lines of: You guys have totally made my day. I was having a pretty crappy morning and now all that's out the window.

She was talking to Kat and Max while I was checking out one of the displays. But it was pretty clear she meant Max specifically.


He's smart and he's sexy
And drives a fancy car,
But I know his backyard
Is where the bodies are...

Friday February 12th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the rich kid.

I got a call yesterday morning to come work at the community centre today from 8:30 to 4, my longest single shift so far and the first time I got to work during the day at the centre.

It went well, I think. Definitely different having so many more people around, on both sides of the desk. Really starting to feel pretty comfortable with my duties there.

Plus it was nice to leave at the end of my shift without having to worry about cashing out - the woman arriving to do the 4 to 9 shift got stuck with that.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend with my family. Well, as quiet as Max can get.


"There is no limit to his excess."

"I dunno about that... I think he's about to find one."

"What do you mean?"

"He's at the bakery right now, putting in an order for gold-plated candy bars."

Thursday February 11th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something that is: raw.

Max was asleep by 7:30 last night with no trouble whatsoever. He woke up in his 'little bed' (I brought up his mattress for him to sleep on in Kat's parents room) around 2 in the morning, saying he was cold. Kat's parents asked if he wanted to come into their bed and he did. He was asleep again shortly after that. He woke up this morning, chatting away like he always does with us.

Awesome. Couldn't have asked for better.

I asked him this morning, on the way to daycare, if he'd had so much fun that he wants to do it again some time. He said yeah... when do I get to do it again?

I said we'd have to find a time that works for Grandma and Papa too. He seemed good with that.

At home I had the best sleep I've had in a long time. It was weird not having him around but also nice knowing that he wasn't far away. I'm ready for him to do it again too.


Skin scrubbed raw
By this bone-dry winter;
Every pore feels
Like it's got a splinter.

Hands so parched,
My fingers are cracking;
No creams can
Provide what I'm lacking.

Only one cure
Exists for this cold pain,
So I'll just wait
For spring's return again.

Wednesday February 10th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the sleepover.

Another milestone has been reached.


Max is having a sleepover at Kat's parents house tonight.

That probably doesn't seem like much to you guys, but give me a few minutes to explain things from our point of view.

This is the first night he's spent apart from us. The first time someone else has put him to bed. The first time we won't be there when he wakes up in the morning (assuming he lasts that long). And if he does last that long, it'll be the first time he's woken up in the middle of the night and neither of us will be there.

Because he always wakes up once, usually to eat something before falling back to sleep. Though Kat joked that he'd probably sleep through the night for her parents. I said that would be fine, as long as it's the start of always sleeping through the night. If he only does it for them then I'm going to be very upset.

Anyway. This is our first practice run. Because when Kat goes into labour Max is going up to her parents house, not with us. And we sure as hell did not want his first sleepover to come while Kat was trying to concentrate on, oh, I don't know... bringing his little brother into the world.

He was pretty excited about it when I dropped him off after lunch. He still seemed excited when we dropped off his overnight stuff before dinner. Then we had dinner at home - so weirdly quiet - and went up to Penticton for a prenatal class Kat is taking. We got home around 9:30, a good two hours or so after his usual bedtime, without any phone calls.

They've gotten him to bed, which was the first hurdle. I'm curious to see how the middle of the night wake up goes. Hopefully it's fine, otherwise I'll be getting a call to let us know they're bringing him home. I suspect it will be okay, but you never know.

Likely? He'll like it so much he'll want to do it again tomorrow night. Or at least again on Sunday, when Kat and I are dropping him off so we can go for a Valentine's Day dinner. I can just see us coming back to bring him home and him saying he wants to stay there and sleep there.

But who knows. Let's just get through tonight first. I'll let you guys know how it went tomorrow.

Tuesday February 9th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the showdown.

Got Max to daycare this morning with no issues, though I did have to stick around for a couple minutes before he'd let me leave. It was quite busy when we got there, so that was understandable.

I picked him up just after 4:30 and, while he wasn't especially excited to see me, he did seem fairly ready to come home. It took a few minutes to get him headed toward the door but once I did we were on our way fairly quickly.

He told me on the way home that I'd picked him up at a good time, so I guess we'll aim for that again on Thursday.

It was a beautiful day here so, with the help of a morning coffee that I grabbed after dropping Max off, I got a couple loads of firewood down to the house this morning. I'm pretending there's a possibility that I won't have to get any more before it warms up enough for the fireplace to no longer be necessary.

It's hard work, but I'm managing okay so far.


Too long we have warred;
tomorrow we settle this
with pistols at dawn

*     *     *

He knows he is right.
She is certain he is wrong.
This will not end well.

Monday February 8th, 2016

The exercise:

Write something that takes place on: the bus.

Today was Family Day here in BC, a recently created holiday brought about by... the need to have a holiday in February. Sounds good to me.

Spent most of the day with Kat and Max, though he did go play with his cousin at her house for a while this afternoon. Topped things off with pancakes (with blueberries and coconut whipped cream) for dinner. Not a bad day.


"Is this seat taken?"

We're on a bus, dude. If somebody was sitting here where the hell do you think they are right now?

"Ah, you've got your music cranked up too loud to hear me. Typical kid. I'll just plop right down then, shall I?"

Nope. I can hear every word that comes out of your filthy face hole. My earbuds are just in for emergency use. You know, crank up the volume in case of dumbass seatmate? Yeah, time to enact that protocol.

"What a beautiful day for a bus ride in the city, huh? Sun's shining, girls are flashing more skin than even decent males like us can politely ignore. Glorious stuff."

Like us? Don't bring me aboard your crazy train, dude.

"Makes me want to hit the beach, you know?"

Why am I still listening to this? Time to bust out something with some seriously heavy guitar. Let's see...

"Just walk right up to the front there and tell the driver to take a hike. Maybe push him out the door while we're still moving. Get behind the wheel and take everybody on this bus to the sand and surf. I'd be a real hero, man. All these people would worship me."

Uh... no. This dude can't be serious. He's just running his mouth, doesn't mean a word he's saying. Right?

"Maybe it wouldn't work out though. I've never driven a bus before. Might crash into something, maybe even drive off the bridge by accident."

This is not reassuring.

"Still be a hero though. Always wanted to die a hero. Maybe today's the day? It is a beautiful one out there. Sky couldn't get any bluer."

Should I say something? I should say something.

"Well, here I go! I hope you're a good swimmer, kid. You know, if we make it to the beach, or... just in case."

Sunday February 7th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the baron.

Went up to Penticton with my family today. Grabbed an early lunch together before visiting with a friend of Kat's, whose eldest daughter was the flower girl at our wedding. She's turning eight next week.

Kat had a class to go to mid-afternoon but Max wasn't ready to leave yet so I stayed behind with him. He wanted me close for most of the time she was gone, but eventually went upstairs to play with the two girls while I chatted with their parents.

Yes, at one point he did end up in a princess dress. Yes, I do have a picture to prove it. No, I haven't decided whether or not I'm sharing it yet.

You know, like, before his wedding.

Max ended up napping on the way home, which meant his bedtime was pushed back by an hour or two. That wasn't as bad as it could have been, but I am now also very ready for bed. So...


"Good evening, Mr. Whittaker," the man said as he entered the spacious office and gently closed the heavy door behind him. "Is something wrong? You never call me in this late in the day."

"And I thank you for making the time to see me, Roger," Whittaker said. He pulled a thin black notebook from a drawer and placed it on his desk. "I wanted to go over your schedule with you, for tomorrow and... the next little while."

"Is that really necessary?" Roger asked, remaining standing. "Me and my crew are starting at the south end of the valley and working our way back north, hitting each of your vineyards as we go. If all goes according to plan, this pass will take... what? Why are you smiling?"

"That, dear friend, is the old plan." Whittaker motioned for Roger to sit down and his foreman did so. Whittaker opened the notebook and scanned his notes. "The new plan is as follows: we will meet at Mario's coffee shop tomorrow morning at 9 am. Bring the whole crew."

"Is this to celebrate something or...?"

"In a way, yes." Whittaker smiled. "You will be fired. Your crew, if they do not quit on the spot, will also be fired."

"What?" Roger was on his feet in a heartbeat.

"It will get personal and angry and loud," Whittaker continued without looking up. "I will not thank you for your fifteen years of service."


"You... really? I was certain it was... it doesn't matter. If things escalate naturally and you're feeling like it is the right move in the moment, you may punch me. Not hard, mind, but make it look good on your end and I shall do the same on mine."

"What are you talking about?" Roger placed both hands on the desk, more to steady himself than anything else.

"Roger, I have grown weary of competing with Mr. Sanchez. It is my intention to put him out of business and become the sole winemaker in this valley. And to this end, I require your assistance."

"Why the hell would I want to help you with anything?"

"Because I will continue to pay your salary. Even after you and your crew begin working for Mr. Sanchez."

"What? Why would you... why would he... why?"

"Mr. Sanchez will hear about our very public falling out before your coffee grows cold in your mug. He will not pass up the opportunity to bring the most experienced foreman in the area into his operations. You, of course, will insist that your recently fired crew join you. He, seeing the wisdom in this, will agree with minimal fuss."

"What do you want from me, Mr. Whittaker?"

"Simply your help in putting Mr. Sanchez out of business, from within. Nothing less, nothing more. Do you think you can do that, dear friend? The rewards for your efforts will be... most worthwhile."

Saturday February 6th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the school dance.

Natalie came over to play with Max this afternoon. It is amazing to me how low maintenance those two can be when they're together. Honestly, she could come over every day if it was always like this.

As it is, Max will be going over to her house on Monday. Which just means I'll be able to get even more done, seeing as I won't have to keep an ear out for them or stick my head in Max's room or out the front door to make sure all is well.

And... today is two months until due date for child number two. How did that happen?


All the kids so high,
Like they in a zombie trance;
Nobody's watching,
But I still ain't gonna dance.

Friday February 5th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the prodigy.

I'm feeling the urge to start working on a bigger writing project. We shall see if anything comes of it, but I'm hoping saying it here will help to get me going with... whatever it ends up being.

Oh, hey... I'm caught up on comments again. Seems to happen once a month or so. As always, going to try to keep it up.

You know, just like the last twenty times I've said that and then proceeded to fall behind by two or three weeks.


The concert hall is overflowing with attendees, to the point that I'm thinking about calling the fire department to report a room capacity violation. Not that my manager would let me get away with it, obviously. I'm the guy thinking about the safety of my fans, while he's the guy counting ticket sales and figuring out how much his cut works out to be.

He's also my father but I knew by my fifth birthday what his priorities were... which, admittedly, was only two weeks ago.

Thursday February 4th, 2016

The exercise:

It's time for our second visit of the year to House of Mercy.

But first I need to say that this morning was remarkable. I got Max to daycare with no complaints. Not a one. None whatsoever. And when we got there I stayed for like half a minute, got a hug and a bye, and I was out of there. Zero fuss.

That was undoubtedly the easiest drop off I've had with him. Like, since he started going back in November. Nothing else even comes close.

I think - and I hesitate to say this, for obvious reasons - but I think we may have turned the corner on this whole daycare thing.


Anne was sitting in her car, drumming her fingers against the wheel and trying to decide whether or not she was doing the right thing. The parking lot was busy enough that she would have to make up her mind quickly, lest she end up in the mental hospital herself.

She had dropped Julie off two and a half weeks ago. They'd said they would call in two weeks but her phone had been deathly silent, the answering machine as empty as the fishbowl in her bedroom. Anne had given them another two days before dialing the number in the phone book for House of Mercy.

No one had picked up. There wasn't even a voicemail where she could have left a message. She knew this because she had counted the rings up to fifty-five before hanging up the final time she'd called.

They had told her they'd take good care of Julie. They had told her not to worry. But she was worried. She wanted to know how her friend was doing. If she was close to being released. If she needed more clothes or more shampoo or more... anything. That was reason enough to stop by, wasn't it?

Anne decided that it was. She got out of her car and strode across the parking lot before she could change her mind again. Or start worrying that she was only being a bother. Or interfering. Or...

She slipped into the lobby and approached the front desk. There was a man with thin, grey hair wearing a frayed suit in line ahead of her, so she was forced to wait. She tapped her foot on the soft carpet and kept her hands trapped in the pocket of her jeans in order to avoid chewing on her fingernails. Finally the man turned and shuffled away and it was her turn.

"Hello there," the receptionist said with an insincere smile. "How can I help you?"

"Hi, yes, I would like to see my friend, if that's at all possible," Anne said before stopping to take a deep breath. "I dropped her off on the 10th?"

"Her availability will depend on her status," the woman behind the desk said as she turned to her computer. "What's your friend's name?"

"Oh, right. It's Julie. Julie Miller."

"Let me have a look in our system," the woman said as she tapped away at her keyboard. A few clicks of her mouse later she returned her attention to Anne. "I'm sorry, there's no one registered here under that name."

Wednesday February 3rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the mimic.

It snowed this afternoon. I realize it's still early February, but it hadn't done that in a while.

Stupid reality, interfering with my dreams of spring...


"Hey Jessica!"

"Hey Jessica!"

Oh for... come on! Seriously? How the hell did Tony know I was going to be here?

No. No, I should have known better. He's always around when I least want him to be. Always. There's no escape.

"Hey Graham," Jessica says. Maybe she didn't hear Tony. But now she's waiting for me to say something. I can't just go mute and run for it. Or maybe I can?

Nope, I can't. And it's too late to pretend I didn't hear her. The one time I don't have my earphones in...

"Sorry, Jess... late for class. Gotta run!" I jog away but I needed to sprint to get out of earshot in time.

"Sorry, Jess... late for class. Gotta run!"

And there go my chances with Jessica Lewis. I am never going to get a date with Tony following me around like this. What girl would want to be with someone who has a talking shadow? Especially one who repeats every last thing I say, only as voiced by a mouse who has learned human speech... but who has also just sucked in a giant helium balloon.

Frickin' maniac. I mean, sure, I probably shouldn't have said that thing about his mother and the aquarium. But how was I supposed to have known it was true?!

Tuesday February 2nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: stealth.

I dropped Max off at daycare at 9:20 this morning, with minimal fuss. Normally Kat picks him up but she was feeling tired this afternoon, so I went to get him at 4:30, since he's been wanting to be picked up later the last couple of times.

Still wasn't ready to come home.

What are they putting in the water over there?

Oh, yearlong prompt, second visit. Let's say Thursday. Cool?



Sneaking, creeping, a
little boy approaches the
sacred cookie jar

*     *     *

He works by moonlight,
leaving no trail to follow:
The Night Janitor

Monday February 1st, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the marauders.

We did it people. We survived January for another year.

Now we just have to get through February...

Returned to soccer class with Max this afternoon. He actually did a couple things without having me right there with him. Progress!


With swords in hand
And missing teeth,
They're fierce, they're mean,
They bloody reek.

They come in waves
With endless rage,
In great need of
A living wage.

Lasses ignored
If treasure's there;
Though the girls should
Not linger there...

Gold coins are nice,
But very cold;
And such foul men
Don't marry old.

Though, truth be told,
These pirate kings
Don't tie the knot
With pretty things.

For life is short
And pleasure brief,
When you work as
A dirty thief.