Monday October 31st, 2016

The exercise:

Happy Halloween, all. Today's prompt is: trick or treat.

Had a pretty successful day with the boys. Max, now a veteran of four Halloweens and dressed as a rocket ship this year, went trick or treating with a couple friends on Main Street (Natalie was in school, sadly, so couldn't join him) and the three of them went into most of the stores on their own.

Miles, dressed as a spider for his first Halloween, took in all the sights and sounds and seemed to find it all pretty entertaining.

Here's a picture of the two of them in their costumes:

Now we just have to figure out how to survive the sugar-laden days ahead and... oh, right, we'll have arrived at Max's birthday. I'm sure there won't be any additional sugar involved there.

Edit: Well, this is becoming a habit. And I don't like it. I shall try to make this the last time, okay? Stupid sleep.


Trick or treat,
Smell my feet,
Give me something
Good to eat!

Or else what?
Listen lady, shut
Up before I start
To go crazy nuts.

Oh the things I'd do
To your dog and you!
If I explained it all,
You'd wish you never knew...

So let's skip that heat,
Keep things upbeat,
And just give me something
Good to eat.

Sunday October 30th, 2016

The exercise:

Halloween comes to an end with: the conclusion.

Sorry, I don't have anything more creative than that. Hey, maybe if I'd planned things out, at all, I would have something better for us all to work with. As it is... here we are. Do what you can, all right?

Helped with the move for another four hours this afternoon. Taking a break to do Halloween things with the kids tomorrow, then I might be back up there Tuesday afternoon. The rest of the week has already filled up with other commitments, so I'm not sure if or when I'll be helping again after that.

What I do know, however, is that I need to figure out a way to wrap up my story for this week. So I'm going to try to do that now. I hope you've enjoyed the week and that my ending doesn't let you down too much.

Edit: sigh, sleep won again last night. Sorry.


Officer Blackstone sat behind the wheel of his squad car and waited impatiently for his rookie partner to complete his inspection of the old Monroe property. Even though it had been years and nearly a dozen owners since the Monroes had lived there, everyone in town still referred to it by their name.

After what happened to their children, how could anyone think of it otherwise?

Blackstone drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and studied the neighboring houses. The call had come from one of them, supposedly. Somebody heard screams coming from the abandoned house during the night but hadn't phone d it in until morning - such a good, concerned citizen. No wonder they'd refused to identify themselves.

"Superstitious idiots," Blackstone muttered. He had no time for talk of ghosts and hauntings and zombie movies and vampire books.

Of course, he had made Officer Blaylock check things out. And he did keep the engine running.

Officer Blaylock emerged from the weeds masquerading as a front lawn, walking a little faster than was dignified for an officer of the law. Blackstone frowned but said nothing as the kid climbed into the passenger seat.

"No signs of forced entry and both doors are locked tight," he reported while staring straight ahead. "I looked in the windows but didn't see anything out of place."

"Probably a prank call," Blackstone said with a shrug and put the car into drive. "It's not quite Halloween, but I guess somebody wanted to get an early start on the festivities this year."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"What is it?" Blackstone paused with his foot hovering over the gas pedal.

"It's just... I dunno. It was faint... but there was a stink about the place. Like, really nasty."

"Oh, that," Blackstone said as he swung the car into traffic and accelerated away from the old Monroe place. "That's always there."

Saturday October 29th, 2016

The exercise:

The penultimate entry into Halloween Week shall revolve around: protection.

Some people we know just moved from Vancouver to take over a B&B up on the mountain and they needed some help with their heavier boxes and furniture, so that's what I did for most of today. They're paying me for my time, which I appreciate... especially considering how much stuff they have.

The view from up there is spectacular. Will try to share a picture tomorrow. Right now me tired so go night night.

But first...


"Here, let me try," Ryan said, eager to play the role of knight in shining armor to Angie's damsel in distress. He got a good grip on the handle, braced himself, and yanked as hard as he could.

The door didn't move.

The house began to fill with whispers once more.

"Back door?" Angie didn't wait for a reply - she was already running for the rear of the house. Ryan chased after her without thinking, only knowing that he did not want to be alone within those walls.

The whispers grew steadily louder.

Angie slammed into the back door shoulder first. She may as well have been a feather for all the impact she made.

"You gotta unlock the deadbolt!" Ryan shouted. The whispers had transformed to yelling in their ears.

"It's stuck!"

They covered their ears as they stumbled back into the kitchen. There was panic and fear in their eyes when each of them looked to the other for direction. The voices were howling now.

"What do you want? Ryan screamed in desperation.

The house fell silent. Then:

"Daddy?" It was the voice of a young girl, cautious and curious.

"Yes?" Ryan said. Angie glared at him. He could only shrug and grimace in response while hoping for the best.

"Mommy?" A young boy this time. Ryan gave Angie a we're in this together now look and nodded his encouragement at her.

"Hello?" Angie's voice was hoarse, her throat dry. "Yes... sweetheart?"

"Mommy!" The two voices together. "Daddy!"

"We're here," Ryan said, a smile coming to his lips, relief in his voice. "It's okay, we're here."

"You were supposed to protect us." Confused and uncertain. "You were supposed to keep us safe."

"I... we did our best," Angie said, her eyes searching the darkening kitchen for movement. "We ne-"

"Why didn't you protect us?" Fear. And anger. "Why didn't you keep us safe?!"

Friday October 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Day 5 of Halloween Week would like to know what happens: when night falls.

Worked the 5 to 9 closing shift at the community centre this evening. Went pretty smoothly, other than having to kick the pickleballers out of the gym so that I could go home at the end of the night.

When I got home Kat was watching something on the computer, so I ended up writing this entry by hand. As a result, it got a little long...


"So how did you end up here?" Ryan asked. They were sitting on opposite sides of the island in the kitchen, a plate of overcooked pasta in front of each of them. The curtains had been drawn to avoid attracting the attention of any of their neighbours - not that any of them would have been keeping an eye on the property. It was late afternoon by then but neither of them had done much more than poke at their food with their forks.

"I worked my first shift the first night I came into town," Angie began before a jaw-cracking yawn cut her short. She'd given up on trying to sleep several hours earlier. "I was chatting with a waitress at that diner I told you about. She told me there were a few abandoned houses I could squat in until a room opened up for me. Her boss wasn't coming in until noon so she let me nap in his office for a couple hours. After that I went looking and this was the best spot I found before I had to get back to work."

"And then you moved in the next morning?"

"Yeah. I was so physically drained and sleep deprived that I didn't look around the house at all - I just barely made it under the covers before I was out cold."

"They must have been pretty dusty and musty," Ryan said. "Nobody's lived here for like a year."

"Nah, they were totally fine actually," Angie said and then had to suppress a shudder. "Maybe another squatter had passed through just before I got there?"

"And did laundry before they left? Sure." Ryan didn't bother pretending to believe that was true. "So what are you gonna do now?"

"Now?" Angie said, getting up and dumping her food in the nearest garbage bin. "Go to work. Come back here... probably collect my things and start looking for a less spooky place to hide out. You?"

"Not sure," Ryan said before following her lead. "I think I need some fresh air though. Mind if I walk you to work?"

"Yeah, why not?" Angie said with a shrug. "How about I fix you a drink on me when we get there? As a thank you."

"That sounds good to me - I could use a glass or three of Forget Everything Juice right about now," Ryan said as they headed for the door. Outside the sun dipped below the horizon. "But I'm not sure what I'm being thanked for."

"It's nice to have someone to talk to," Angie said as she reached for the door handle. "I've been pretty lonely since I moved here. Haven't made any friends yet, and even if I had I couldn't exactly invite them over, right?"

She turned the handle and pulled.

The door didn't move.

Thursday October 27th, 2016

The exercise:

Halloween Week continues with: voices.

Bakery was quite busy this morning, which was a nice change of pace. Time went sailing by in a hurry.

Before I get to my writing, I need to share something. I've been quite upfront with Greg about my dislike of Lady Gaga, though I'm not sure how much of her music I ever actually listened to - I think I was distracted by all the fashion nonsense that always seemed part of the package.

Anyway. I watched this yesterday and was utterly blown away by her performance, in every way. It's lots of fun with some pretty incredible vocals.

I am impressed, and I'm sorry for not giving her a fair chance sooner.


"Did you hear that?" Ryan made it sound more like an accusation than a question.

"I must not have closed the front door properly," Angie said, not sounding very confident. "Probably just the wind coming in. I'll go shut it whle you find some clothes. Or whatever."

"Sure, good idea."

While she was gone he dug a pair of reasonably clean jogging pants out of his bag and struggled into them, an unexpectedly early start to his day and a lack of coffee combining to make him clumsy. Downstairs he heard the door open and then slam shut. He found himself smiling with relief when the noise stopped.

And then it returned, much louder than before.

"Get out!"


"Leave! Now!"

"Who's there?" Ryan called, moving to check the windows even though he knew he had made sure they firmly shut before he'd fallen asleep. "Hello?"

"I didn't say anything," Angie said as she reentered the room. "What were you yelling about while I was downstairs? I couldn't quite make it out."

"I wasn't yelling."

The whispers suddenly transformed into shouts.

"How dare you?!"

"You do not belong here!"

"What the hell is going on?" Ryan demanded before pressing the palms of his hands against his ears.

"Is this some kind of joke you're trying to pull on me?" Angie yelled back before doing the same. "This isn't funny!"

The voices grew louder. Clearer. Angrier. Ryan felt a cool draft across the back of his neck. Angie, for the first time since she'd arrived, caught a whiff of the stench that somehow still clung to the walls of the house.

"What the f-"

Outside the sun finally peered over the horizon and the inside of the house fell deathly silent. Angie and Ryan stared at each other for several moments before slowly uncovering their ears.

"Does that happen often?" Ryan asked, his eyes darting around the room.

"Never," Angie replied without hesitation. "But, um... uh... that's, uh..."

"What is it?"

"I've never been here in the dark before." Angie rubbed her arms and didn't make eye contact. "I've always grabbed dinner at an all night place near the club before coming back here, which means I got here right around sunrise. I got my food to go this morning and ate it on the way and... yeah."

"What are you trying to say?" Ryan asked, his eyes filled with suspicion and remnants of the fear that had begun to take hold before the dawn had pushed back the... whatever it was.

"Hey man, I don't believe in ghosts or nothing like that, okay?" Angie said. "But, uh... I don't know if I want to be here after sunset tonight. Just, uh, in case."

"That's ridiculous," Ryan said with a sneer and a shake of his head. Although, if he was being honest, he had been thinking the same thing.

Wednesday October 26th, 2016

The exercise:

Halloween Week continues with: the intruder.

Now I remember why I've never done a theme week leading up to costume and candy day - I don't like mixing Halloween with my birthday. I guess having kids has lessened that a little.

Had a good day. Kat made my favorite fall dinner (carrot soup), Max got a kick out of wishing me happy birthday like twenty times throughout the day, and I brought home some treats from the bakery (chocolate croissants for me and Kat, a coconut macaroon for Max) in lieu of having cake.

All right, it's getting late. Let me figure out the next steps in my story.


"Who the hell are you?" Ryan demanded of the pale woman standing at the foot of his bed after sitting up and clutching the sheets to his chin.

"Who the hell are you?" she countered, hands on her hips and eyes wide with indignation.

"This is my house!" He was so distracted by the realization that this statement was far from the truth that he didn't notice the look of panic that flashed across the woman's face. "Well, it's my family's home. That is, it belongs to my family. A member of it. Anyway! What are you doing here?"

"Sounds like you've got about as much claim to be here as I do," she said, sounding rather relieved. "I'm a bartender at a university club downtown, which means I work at night and sleep the day away. I started last week and couldn't find a room to rent, so I, uh... ended up here. Just until I can find a proper home. You know?"

"I see." Ryan studied her for a few moments and decided that he liked her short, messy black hair and ruby stud earrings. He wasn't sure about the wrinkled Mets jersey - or what might be hidden underneath it - but figured he could make up his mind about that later. "I'm Ryan."

"Hey Ryan," she said with a small laugh that relaxed her whole body. She shifted her weight to her right leg and crossed her arms. "I'm Angie."

"Nice to meet you." Ryan moved to get out of bed, then remembered he'd left his pants elsewhere. "Uh, did I steal your bed? The sun will be up any minute, so you can take over now."

"Don't worry about it," Angie said. "I'll take another room for today. We can figure the rest out after I get some sleep in me, all right?"

"Yeah, sounds good. I'll try to be quiet for you."

"I'd appreciate that."

And that was when the whispers began to waft through the house.

Tuesday October 25th, 2016

The exercise:

Yeah, all right - we've got a theme week going on. I was all ready to bail on the idea and then I saw that Greg had jumped in with both feet and I figured it was best to just go with it (though I have absolutely no idea where I'll be going with mine).

Anyway. Welcome to Halloween Week!

Let's see where things go with: the visitor.

Had a productive afternoon while Max was with Kat's parents and Miles was napping. Cleaned up and organized Max's room (long overdue), took in a carload of recycling to the depot, and picked up a few little toys to use for trades with Max for all the Halloween candy he'll get trick or treating that he can't eat.

Probably got a little carried away with that last one, but I was having fun, dang it.

Anyway. Time to figure out what's going on with my week's writing.


Ryan had heard through the family grapevine that a distant cousin held the deed on an unoccupied house and had moved quickly to take advantage of the situation. He was down on his luck, as per usual, and the idea of having a proper place to rest his head while he figured out his next move - or at least to perfect his next con - was irresistibly appealing.

He arrived under the cover of darkness, not wanting the neighbours (or anyone, really) to know that he had taken up residence. So, speaking to no locals, he had no chance to be warned away. Not that he would have listened to such nonsense anyway.

It had rained that day, a steady downpour that had turned the dirt in the empty flower beds to mud and the long grass in the yard was doubled over under the weight of the rainwater. By the time Ryan had let himself in the backdoor his sneakers were filthy and his pant legs soaked. Not wanting to create a mess he knew he'd never get around to cleaning, he kicked off his shoes and dropped his pants and socks in the doorway.

The kitchen tiles were cold against his bare feet - colder than he would have expected. He moved quickly through the downstairs, the large backpack slung over one shoulder carrying all of his worldly possessions. The staircase leading to the upper floor was blessedly carpeted but he did not pause to appreciate it. Instead he hurried upstairs in search of the largest bedroom and to scout the location of the nearest bathrooms.

By the time he had decided on his sleeping arrangements he was too tired from his journey to do anything else but crawl under the sheets (which smelled freshly laundered, despite the supposed neglect he had been told about by his brother's wife's stepsister's uncle) and fall fast asleep.

He remained that way until just before dawn, when he was woken by a scream.

Monday October 24th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the horror.

Hmm, if I'd been planning ahead we could totally be doing a theme week leading up to Halloween. Maybe it's not too late? I guess we'll see.

We needed leeks and potatoes for this evening's dinner (leek and potato soup, in case that wasn't obvious) so after lunch I brought Max with me to the garden to get the leeks and then to the root house by Kat's parents house to get the already harvested potatoes.

Kat's mom was doing some work outside and it didn't take Max long to decide that he'd rather hang out with her than go to soccer with me.

So I had a few extra hours of time to myself this afternoon.

Most of which, of course, I spent with Miles.

Because two kids, you guys.


A foul stench lingers here. They will tell you that its source is unknown. They will tell you that it is safe here, that you are in no danger while you remain on these grounds. They will tell you not to listen to the gossips and rumormongers and conspiracy theorists. They will tell you that it is only your imagination. That the source left this place a long, long time ago.

They are wrong.

The sort of horror that happened here never fully moves on. It is never forgotten. It never forgets.

Why do you think new owners must be found for this property so often? Not so long ago it was changing hands on a monthly basis. It was almost as though once they began to know the property, to hear its nightly whispers, to see its ghosts, they chose to flee.

Perhaps that is why the sale price goes down with every transaction? It certainly reeks of desperation, I would say.

It seems now, though, that some sort of stability has taken hold. The most recent purchaser has held on to the property for nearly a year. I suspect that has something to do with him or her or whoever not actually residing here. I should think that not having to sleep in that house would alleviate most of the concerns one might have with owning it.

The grounds have become overgrown though. A caretaker was hired but he lasted about as long as the previous owners. In fact, he hasn't been seen around town since he quite loudly and publicly quit his position a few weeks after he was hired.

I'm sure he's just moved away. Nothing untoward happened to him or his dog. I mean, why would it?

Only the stench lingers here. Nothing more.


Sunday October 23rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the spa treatment.

Feeling pretty tired and sleepy, so I'll just get right to that writing thing.

Edit: sorry for the late posting again. After repeatedly losing my battle with sleep last night, I just decided to give up and go to bed.


"There must be some mistake..."

"You're here for your 3:22 appointment?"

"Yes, but I don't understand what all this stuff is about."

"The knives, forks, spoons, rolling pin...? They are all standard pieces of equipment for the culinary massage you ordered."

"I ordered no such thing!"

"It says right here, Mr. Hiller, that you wan-"

"I'm not Mr. Hiller."

"You... oh! My apologies Mr... Winston?"

"Yes, that is correct."

"Ah, well then! We'll have all this taken right away and have the garden tool suite in its place in a jiffy!"

"Well, I should hope so."

Saturday October 22nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: playing pretend.

With my birthday coming up on Wednesday, tonight was the closest night that it worked for me and Kat to go out for dinner to celebrate it. Max wanted to know why he and Miles were going to go to Grandma and Papa's house for dinner.

"Because Mommy and Dada are going out for dinner."


"For my birthday."

"Is today your birthday?"

"No, it's on Wednesday."

"Is today your pretend birthday?"

"... yes."

It was the only way out.

Also: dinner was good. But took too long - Miles was a bit of a mess by the time we returned to pick the boys up. At least he went to bed quickly once we got home.


All is as it seems,
Or so they say.
Now shut off your brains
And watch the play...

Friday October 21st, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the regular.

Worked 8:30 to 11:30 at the bakery this morning and it was definitely much busier than it has been. Helping out with an 8 to 10 shift tomorrow morning and then I get to enjoy a few days off.

Looking forward to that.


"Ah, it's good to be back where everybody seems to know my name."

"What, even that guy?"

"Oh, no, he's new... if I see him around the next couple times I come in I'll have to go over and introduce myself."

"Do you ever think that you come into the Emergency Room a little too regularly?"

Thursday October 20th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the hovel.

Bakery was about the same this morning, maybe slightly busier than yesterday. I expect things to pick up tomorrow and Saturday though.

Natalie was let out of school early today, so she came over to play with Max after lunch. It's interesting to observe the changes brought about by her being in school. There's been a lot of good, but she's also definitely picking up some bad habits from her peers.

To be expected, but not always easy to deal with.


"It is a bit of a fixer-upper."

"That implies that it is broken down, brother."

"It is what we can afford right now, brother. After our last job went South."

"So, in response, you wish for us to go North? To this... this... hovel?"

"Everyone flees to the South, brother. Remember the Cousins? Mitchell and Nancy? South. Jailed less than a week later. They will not expect this. And, should they discover our ruse, they would never find us here."

"If we fix it up too nicely they will find us quite easily, brother."

"We will leave the outside as it is. The interior will become much nicer."

"Livable, you mean brother?"

"That implies that it is unlivable in its current state, brother."

"I would agree with that assessment."

"It will not be forever, brother. We will make do while we are there."

"I do not wish to make do, brother. I wish to make nice. Luxurious, even. May-"

"With what money, brother? It is better than prison. That is all that matters for now."

"Yes. For now, brother."

Wednesday October 19th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the breakthrough.

Bakery is still pretty quiet. I guess it'll be this way until things pick up around Christmas. We'll see how much of that I get to see, but the current plan is to stick around while I continue searching for a full time job.

Took Max to the park this afternoon, where we arrived moments before one of the boys from his soccer class (along with his mom and baby sister - who is only 3 days younger than Miles). We've been in various classes with Clark the last few years, so they know each other a little bit. This was the first time they'd run into each other at the park though.

And they had a friggin' blast.

I've never seen Max play with another kid like that (other than Natalie of course). He usually would rather play with me (or Kat if she's the one with him) than other kids. But him and Clark were climbing all over the place, going down the slides, checking out the firetruck, running everywhere... and Max barely said a word to me the whole time.

I honestly didn't know what to do with myself.

I chatted with Clark's mom for a bit. I tried to stay warm in the chilly wind. I gave Max more time than we really had before we had to get home for dinner prep.

It was pretty great.


The investigation went on for months. No detail was left unexamined, in any of the three dozen crime scenes. The work was extensive and thorough - there was too much at stake for anything less, and the man in charge of the case was keenly aware of that.

His team was on their fourth day on the most recent scene when Marquez, a newly assigned Detective, noticed something odd. It was extremely minor - in fact he almost didn't bother to bring it to the attention of his boss.

But better safe than sorry, as they say.

The man, who everyone simply referred to as The Head Honcho, did not at first appreciate what he was being shown. He was about to send Marquez back to the scene when he took another look at the photograph of the shard of glass.

"Wait..." he said, cocking his head to the side. "This looks like it came from... but it couldn't be."

"What is it, sir?" Marquez asked.

"Quick! Someone bring me one of the water pitchers from the lunch room!"

And, finally, a breakthrough had occurred in the Breakthrough Case.

Tuesday October 18th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: haiku.

Apologies if I've done this before, but I have no reasonable way of figuring out if I have. I mean, I could look back at every single Two Haiku Tuesday post I've done, but... yeah, that ain't happening. So here we go! Possibly again!

Had a successful trip to Penticton today. Quite enjoyed blasting music like this and this and this on the way there and back. It's been a while since I had the chance to listen to my music with such freedom. Well, during the day.

I do tend to indulge (with headphones on) after everyone else has gone to bed in the evenings.

Back to the bakery tomorrow morning.


Every Tuesday
I demand two from you; to
me they're called two-ku

*     *     *

Such a constricting
format that, sometimes, I just
run out of space to

Monday October 17th, 2016

The exercise:

Let us return today to the Random Book prompt. Go grab a book, or simply make use of Amazon's Look Inside feature, and purloin its first line to use as the opening of your writing. Then... take it from there!

Making a solo trip up to Penticton tomorrow afternoon to run some errands. It's going to feel very strange to be in the car by myself.

I think I shall take advantage of the situation and play some highly inappropriate for kids music in the car.

Edit: Sorry this is going up so late. Had internet issues last night and couldn't get back to the computer until now.


Beach Blues by Joanne DeMaio

If a little beach cottage could look forlorn, this one does. With its peeling white paint and at least five boards missing from the front porch, its a wonder that the roof is only sagging and has not yet made a break for the ocean. It's a good thing we got such a great deal on this place.

"We did get a great deal on this place," I say to Gregor. "Right?"

"Of course Chantel," he says with a dismissive laugh. "I pay cash, he ask no questions, deal of century."

I wonder how much he got taken for. I'd ask for a receipt but I know there will be no paper trail leading to this place. I can trust Gregor to do that much at least.

"How long do we have to stay in this dump?"

"Dump? You are being unkind." He gives me a stern look that I pretend to not see. "We lay low, smoke blows over, then we are free to do what we do once more. Easy as pie."


Too bad making pie is not as easy as they say it is. At least it never seems to be when Gregor and I are involved.

Sunday October 16th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the enclosure.

Chopped and hauled firewood for the first time this fall with Max this afternoon. The fireplace is currently home to a lovely fire while outside a chilly rain is falling.

I am not mentally prepared for this. It's only mid-October. We've still got ten days until my birthday, for crying out loud!

Anyway. Hopefully the sun will come for a visit at least a few times this week. That would be nice.


"Errrrrr... kish. The crane is in position. Crew is standing by. Lower hook... now. Keep it coming. Keep it coming. A little more... a little more... and stop!"


"Package secured... bring her up! That's it... okay, swing it to the left. A bit more. Perfect! All right, lower away!"


"Here we go, the elephant is being lowered into the baby enclosure. It spins slowly as it nears the wide-eyed baby. Oh lord, he looks excited! I can't watch! Oh no, the baby has the elephant in his jaws! It's a bloodbath! The carnage is stomach turning! It's like the elephant is in a butcher shop run by a violent lunatic!"

"Honey, I thought we had agreed that you wouldn't talk like that in front of the baby."

"Oh come on, Maria! Look at him laugh! He loves it!"

"No more playing like that or I'm taking the blue elephant chew toy away from the both of you."

Saturday October 15th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the delivery man.

Kat had a table at a family fair in Oliver this morning, hoping to sell all the clothes Miles has outgrown, along with a baby swing, play mat, and diapers he grew out of before we used up all the packages. Mostly just to make some room in our place, but also some extra money would be nice.

It didn't go especially well.

Eventually she sold a few things, but the people who came to shop were generally not looking for baby clothes. So that made things a little difficult.

We did some shopping for ourselves while we were there, picking up some winter booties and a teething toy for Miles, along with a toy go kart and a big (3 feet x 2 feet) construction jigsaw puzzle for Max. So there was that at least.

Now Kat gets to try to sell the leftovers through Facebook. I shall keep my fingers crossed for that.


He drives his truck
From place to place,
While dreaming of
A far off face

Friday October 14th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the bully.

It was a windy morning, but at least the rain held off after dumping on us all of last night. So I took Max and Miles to do some grocery shopping and to visit the coffee shop (to make Max eat the rest of his breakfast before he could have his morning snack. Also: coffee).

After lunch we did a family trip to the nearest fruit stand to stock up on squash (butternut, delicata, and festival) since our squash plants... never actually made it to the garden this year.

Oh well, better luck next year.



I don't need to talk to anybody. I know what they would say, all the useless advice they would have for me.

No thanks, guys - I've got better things to do with my time than to deal with your pathetic attempts to "help" me.

Like stealing Kevin Carter's lunch money and throwing Evan Brown's homework in the toilet.

Thursday October 13th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the impression.

Bakery was super quiet this morning - I didn't sell my first cinnamon bun until 10:45. I hope there was a lunch time rush after I left at 11. The cold, windy weather didn't help people get out of bed, I'm sure, so maybe it was just a later than usual arriving crowd today.

Kat's parents are returning tomorrow evening and there are still lots of Ambrosia apples on the trees, so Max and I went out to get some of them into the cooler before they go bad in the orchard. We (well, he helped with the first one) got four crates, totaling around 92 pounds. Pretty sure I can find customers for all of that.

Day off tomorrow, but the forecast is calling for more rain. I think I hear the coffee shop calling my name...


"So, what do you think?"

"Of what?"

"Of what? Of my Jack Nicholson impression!"

"That was supposed to be Nicholson?"

"Supposed to be? It was spot on, man!"

"I thought you were doing Lucille Ball."

"You... Lucille... okay. Hold on. Let me do my Sean Connery for you."

"I'd really rather you didn't..."

Wednesday October 12th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the assignment.

Work at the bakery was steady busy this morning. The sort of pace I've grown accustomed to (as opposed to the nonsense that was Saturday morning).

Spent the afternoon with Max. He helped gather and deliver produce to our hairstylist, then we hit the grocery store to get some things for ourselves. He had music class with Kat (and Miles) this morning and apparently he did really well, participating and getting involved throughout the session.

Today Miles turned six months old. To celebrate, we tried him on his first solid food (some roasted squash leftovers that we'd frozen last week). It was pretty much on Max's insistence, so I reckon this is the best picture to share:

We got a couple bites into him and we'll try again tomorrow.


"This can't be right."

"You know He doesn't make mistakes. Whatever the note says, that's what we gotta do."

"Do not capitalize the friggin' h, man. I hate when you do that. He's not God."

"Dude's got the only time machine in the world. I'd say that's close enough."

"Whatever. We don't have time for this."

"Well, technically, we probab-"

"Shut up. Just, shut up. We're here. We're now. We've got less than an hour to do what he wants us to do. You know what happens if we fail - we've been the second team before."

"Okay. So what's the assignment this time?"

"This says we're here - and now - to kill some-"

"So? We've done that before. What's the big deal?"

"The big deal, as you've so aptly put it, is the target."

"Who is it?"

"More like what - he wants us to take down the last remaining T-Rex."

"What? The hell does He want us to do that for?"

"The hell should I know? And stop capitalizing the damned h!"

Tuesday October 11th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku which have something to do with: biting.

This afternoon Max helped me plant our garlic crop for next year. Meanwhile Kat was cooking up a huge batch of pasta sauce, some of which we used with our pasta dinner this evening. Most of it went into the freezer though, for use during the winter months.

Speaking of which, it pretty much feels like winter out there right now. I think I'm going to have to start chopping wood for our fireplace pretty quick here...


Blood fills my mouth and
drips from my lips; I will not
bite my tongue again

*     *     *

A jagged, broken
smile. His parents say that he
just loves to eat rocks

Monday October 10th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the confession.

All four of us went to our favorite coffee shop this morning for the first time as a group since... probably May? June at the most recent.

It was nice. I got a coffee, Kat had tea, and we got Max a hot chocolate made with almond milk. Even ran into a couple friends while we were there. On such a grey, windy, cold day, it was a nice treat.


"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. My last conf-"


"Uh... no?"

"No. Absolutely not. Get out."

"But Father! I come seeking salv-"

"Seek it elsewhere. I will not bear witness to your sins again."

"Again? Oh, that was you last time?"

"Yes, it was. And I have yet to have a sleep devoid of nightmares since. So leave now. Please?"

"No way, Father. I know how this stuff works. I spill, you listen, I say a few dozen Hail Mary's, and boom shakalaka my slate's wiped clean!"

"Then spill to some other listener this time. I do not have the stomach for your misdeeds."

"Nuh uh, Father. We're in this together. So buckle up and get ready for some seriously crazy stuff!"

"Crazier than last...? Hold on a moment, child. I need to get a bottle of wine. To, uh, help me give you the best possible counsel. And assign you a proper penance. And... I think I'll make it two bottles, actually."

Sunday October 9th, 2016

The exercise:

As promised, today we return to the House of Mercy yearlong prompt.

Had a pretty busy day, considering how little we had planned. Kat cooked up a chili for dinner, along with pumpkin pudding. I picked apples to get them in the cooler before they went bad on the trees so that we can make some more apple sauce for Miles once he starts eating solids. Max also managed to convince me to pick some ornamental pumpkins with him so that he could decorate the deck for Halloween.

Dinner was tasty, though it was weird to be up there without Kat's parents around. Max and Natalie had lots of loud fun, as expected.

Good day, overall. But I'm very sleepy right now so let's get to it, shall we? Only two visits remain after this one...


Julie blinked, ever so slowly. It felt like the first movement she had controlled since she had been thrown to the floor by... whatever. Or whoever.

The buzzing in her ears had subsided and the hypnotic voice was fainter now, as though a barrier had been placed between her and their source. She still couldn't seem to make herself stand up though. Blinking felt like a step in the right direction but she needed to be running full tilt for the door.

"You're still mine," the voice hissed. "Don't think otherwise, girl."

"Whatever," Julie mumbled. Encouraged by a second act of defiance, she tried to push herself up off the floor with her elbows. Her fingers twitched in response. "Damn it."

"Julie!" Anne's voice, echoing and distant as it was, still spurred her onward and upward. "Julie!"

"Kill her!" the voice commanded.

"Not likely," Julie countered as she finally reached a sitting position. Beside her, Bradley moaned and shifted but did not wake up. "Quiet, you."

"Julie!" Anne's voice was much closer now. Julie could hear her footsteps growing louder as she approached. And then, at last, she was there in the hallway. "Julie! Are you okay?"

"Couldn't be better," Julie said, sucking in deep breaths before attempting any more movements. "Can you come in?"

"There's still something blocking the doorway.... but it seems weaker now."

"Okay." Julie bit back a scream as she forced herself to her feet.

Bradley woke up.

The voice in her head came once again. This time it was yelling.


Saturday October 8th, 2016

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the flashback.

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and as a result the bakery was an absolute madhouse this morning. It was like the summer rush had come back for a visit, with people coming for their pies and pumpkin bread and croissants and cinnamon buns and other loaves.

I don't think I moved from the till for the first hour and a half.

It was good though. Definitely not used to that sort of craziness anymore, but it was good.

Looking forward to a Thanksgiving dinner with my family and Kat's brother's family tomorrow night.

I almost said a quiet dinner, but then, you know, I remembered Max and Natalie would be there.


Walking down the street
Hand in hand with his lover;
A car backfires
And he's running for cover

Friday October 7th, 2016

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the skeleton.

Had one last 9:30 to 1:30 shift at Public Works today. It went well, and I was kept busy enough that time sailed by quite quickly.

We finally told Max about Bailey just before dinner. He was a little upset, but mostly because he wants to have two dogs on the farm. When we told him Becky and Adam might be getting another one he got distracted by trying to decide what we should name it (Tractor was his choice, by the way).

He did have some questions, and I imagine more will be coming the first time he goes over to play with Natalie and Bailey isn't around.

Doing a short, help with the rush shift at the bakery tomorrow morning. Which probably means I should already be in bed.


The bones had been scattered throughout the meadow to the point that it took us nearly a week to realize that they belonged to the same creature. You could hardly blames us for that, really. Nothing of that size had ever been found before.

But once one had been discovered - once we knew what to look for - it did not take long to unearth the rest of the dragon skeletons.

Thursday October 6th, 2016

The exercise:

I'm going to bust out the continuation prompt today. Consider it sort of an apology for delaying getting back to House of Mercy until Sunday (that is the current plan at any rate). So just pick up the tale from wherever the previous author left it and carry things forward for a while.

Had a very enjoyable tour of Covert Farms with the family this morning/early afternoon. We rode on the back of one of their farm trucks around the property, stopping to pick strawberries, zucchini, and grapes. Also had a visit with their chickens to collect some eggs before heading back to the main building for a baking lesson on how to make strawberry zucchini muffins.

Which we then got to eat (all of us, as they were gluten free).

We did not have the Bailey talk with Max today. I was wanting to do it with Kat after we got back from the tour but from then until bedtime was pretty hectic. Will have to make a point of finding time tomorrow.


The temple had been built deep in the jungle, its large square stones having been moved there by methods unknown. The effort had been unquestionably massive, with no roads approaching within a hundred miles and the nearest river coming not much closer than that.

And all for not, Jessica couldn't help but think as she studied its exterior from fifty feet away in the shade of a towering rubber tree. Neglected for too long, the jungle had laid claim to the building with tangles of twisting vines and carpets of smothering moss. The main entrance appeared to be barely passable without the use of a machete and if she didn't put hers to use that would not remain the case for much longer.

"I should get on with it," she said as she hefted her pack onto her shoulder. But she hesitated for another minute before putting her words into action. Had anyone been around to ask about her reluctance to enter the temple it is unlikely that she would have been able to explain it.

Birdsong from the canopy serenaded her as she made her way over and around exposed tree roots. Normally Jessica would have been comforted by their noise but on this day it sounded more like screeched warnings. 

Stay away. Go back. Do not enter here.

"Ridiculous," she muttered as she climbed the slick steps up to the entrance. Retrieving her flashlight from her pack, she inserted a fresh set of batteries and clicked it on, aiming its beam into the darkness of the temple's initial hallway.

She could make little out, other than more vegetation making its way deeper into the building. Still unable to force herself enter, she clicked off her flashlight and pulled a granola bar from the side pocket of her pack. Carefully removing it from its packaging, she stuffed the wrapper into another pocket and took a small bite as she returned her gaze to the interior of the temple.

That was when she saw a faint flicker of distant torch light.

Wednesday October 5th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the newspaper.

Had a pretty efficient 8 to 11 shift at the bakery this morning. Sold a fair amount of stuff, managed to get a few dishes done, and things were slow enough by the time the other sales associate arrived at 11 to do the closing shift that I got to go home.

Natalie came over after Kindergarten to play with Max for a few hours, which was generally good.

Unfortunately, while she was still here we got a call from Becky telling us that their Saint Bernard had just died. Bailey had been sick the last few days and we could see it coming... but that doesn't make it any easier on them. Natalie is taking it especially hard.

We haven't told Max yet. I'm curious to see how it goes. He wasn't very fond or close to Bailey, but it will be the first death of anything bigger than an ant or a fly for him.

Guess we'll find out tomorrow, as we didn't want to tell him right before bed tonight. I expect there will be lots of questions.


"All right, all right! I've got a hot tip on a hot story here! Who wants it?"

"I think it's more of a matter of who's available to look into it, boss."

"What about Frank?"

"He's still working on the story about that pig that saved them kids on the school bus."

"Right, right. Jake?"

"Doing field research on that talking horse down in Green Meadows."

"Still? That guy... okay. How about Penny?"

"She's tied up with follow up interviews on the skunks versus raccoons piece."

"The what... oh, the which one makes for a better pet one? Dang, I forgot about that one. So who does that leave me?"

"Who do you think it leaves?"

"I don't know, wh... oh. Aw, man! Really? Brock?"

"Ain't nobody else to take it. Unless you hired somebody new that I don't know about...?"

"No, no... okay. Well. Here, type this information up for him. Just... use the biggest font you got. And try not to use any big words."

Tuesday October 4th, 2016

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: leaving on a jet plane.

My parents left for a vacation in New Zealand this morning. Kat's parents left for a vacation in Europe this afternoon. Inspiration for a prompt? Yes, I do believe so.

Also, one might be able to choose the prompt as a description for the final pitch of this game.

Mostly successful trip to Penticton today. Got clothes for the kids and Kat (but nothing for me) and Halloween costumes for the kids. Got most of the groceries we were looking for and then headed for home.

Back at the bakery tomorrow morning for the first time in a week and a half. Might take some time to get back into the swing of things.


Wheels up, we're in the
sky, leaving it all behind...
for a little while

*     *     *

Parting clouds like an
old friend parted the Red Sea,
I am, at last, free.

Monday October 3rd, 2016

The exercise:

Hey, remember when we used to do unfavorable comparisons? Vaguely? Yeah, it's been a long time.

So let's fix that. Click here for some examples if you need them, otherwise let's get straight to the fun.

Kat had another counselling client this morning, so I took Max and Miles into town for a walk/bike ride along the lake. Miles hadn't had his nap yet, which I figured meant we'd have to get back home as soon as Kat was done to get him to sleep, but he hung in there long enough for his big brother to play at the park for a little while.

This afternoon we were back at Max's soccer class, this time with Kat and Miles to watch since his nap times allowed them to be there this week. He quite liked that, as I'm sure you could imagine.

Doing a family trip up to Penticton tomorrow to run some errands. Fingers crossed that all goes well.


The chef's specialty, you ask? Well, he keeps the recipe secret, but after tasting it I would assume that there's some untreated sewage water in there somewhere.

*   *   *

They said it was going to be a political debate. It was more like two three year olds fighting. After not sleeping or eating for two days. But, like, right before they went on stage someone gave each of them a Slurpee.

*   *   *

Saying he punches like a girl is an insult to girls. He punches more like a two day old puppy.

*   *   *

Her taste in movies can best be described as a dog's taste for its own... hey, where are you going? Too much? Well, I can't help it if it's the truth...