Wednesday April 26th, 2017

The exercise:

Write some: field notes.

Other than getting caught in a pretty good downpour far from the truck, today was a good day. Managed to get to the office I had to clean at the end of my shift at a good time and then it went much quicker than last week.

Weather is supposed to be significantly better tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to that.

Mine:

May 24th, 1:20 pm - Subject is still asleep. Fully grown adults in the habitat are growing agitated.

May 24th, 2:12 pm - Subject is finally awake. Adults resorted to pouring water on subject. Subject seems upset. Adults appear to be equally upset.

May 24th, 8:02 pm - Adults have dined and are preparing for bed. Subject is watching TV, has yet to eat. Communication between the subject and the adults has been brief and confrontational. Tension in habitat appears to be extremely high.

May 25th, 12:41 am - Adults have been sound asleep for quite some time now. Subject is wide awake and finally eating dinner, though his meal differs greatly from what the adults consumed. There do not appear to be any vegetables.

May 25th, 2:08 am - Subject still awake. Has yet to bathe. Or brush teeth. Or exercise. Does not currently appear to be doing anything productive. I'm going to bed.

May 25th, 10:00 am - Subject now asleep. Adults awake. I think I have observed subject long enough. This will be my final entry. I do not think that I wish to have a teenager of my own. Will sit down later today with my husband to discuss placing our eight year old daughter in foster care as soon as possible.

Tuesday April 25th, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the days of the week.

Dropped Max off at playschool this morning without issue, did a few errands with Miles in town, then picked the eldest up again before lunch. Spent a bit of time playing in the playground adjacent to the school before getting them home for food and nap time for the youngest.

Wandered the farm with Max while his little brother was napping, finding Grandma weeding the raspberry canes and Grandma Sue hanging out with Cousin Emersyn in her front yard.

Finally got him back home after Miles woke up and then spent the rest of the day in and around the house. Managed to have dinner on the deck but it was a little chilly out there.

Pretty good way to end my weekend. Back to work tomorrow.

Mine:

Wednesday starts my week...
Except next week it's Thursday.
Except the next week...

*     *     *

Keep changing around
Lisa's schedule; soon enough
You will have her job.

Monday April 24th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the night watchman.

Took the boys to StrongStart this morning while Kat did some work and saw a client. Had a pretty good time, especially during gym break as the elementary kids are doing gymnastics right now and all the equipment was set up in there.

Max was climbing and jumping and balancing and Miles was happy to crawl around on the mats chasing after balls. They could have it like that all the time and I think we'd all be quite content.

One more day off tomorrow and then back to Public Works for me.

Mine:

The building is as quiet as it always is. All the doors and windows are locked, all the cubicle drones have gone home for the night (only to return in the morning wearing different clothes and the same expression on their faces). It's just me and the shadows, keeping watch.

Except the shadows seem restless tonight. Almost... expectant.

And I do not wish to know what (or who) they are expecting.

I just want to see another sunrise. Collect another paycheck. Have enough money to pay the rent, with enough left over to buy some food and maybe even put some cash away for that trip to Hawaii I've been wanting to do since... well, let's just say it's been a goal for a while now.

I don't need to deal with any more uninvited guests in this place. No more middle of the night visitations, thank you kindly. Been there, done that, don't need to do it again. Once was one more time than I needed to experience that... whatever that was.

But the shadows are shifting, talking to each other. I can hear them, I know what they're saying. Their friends are on their way and there is nothing I can do to stop them. Turning on all the lights would just make them angry.

And those foul, dark demons will be furious enough already when they make their nightmarish entrance to our world.

Sunday April 23rd, 2017

The exercise:

Write about something that is: transient.

Fairly quiet day off today.

Much needed.

Mine:

Our time together
Came and went;
It takes more time
To dry cement.
But still my thoughts
Return to you -
The way you laughed
And smelled like glue;
That dress you wore
Every day -
It once was white
But now is grey.
I remember it all,
Every last thing.
I miss you so bad,
Your loss still stings.
But I hope you're well,
Wherever you are,
And if you need me
Just check all the bars...

Saturday April 22nd, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the accomplice.

Took Max to his soccer practice this morning and proceeded to attempt to coach 4,5, and 6 year olds while also trying to get Max to have a turn with the other coach.

Neither of those things went particularly well. I'm not sure I have the patience or technique to deal with all those kids, and Max doesn't seem ready for this level of class (nor is he willing to attend without me when I'm working). Which is fine, he's got plenty of time for that, especially considering he's one of the youngest ones there.

With my work schedule I'll be unavailable for Thursday practices for the next two weeks and for Saturdays for the next four (though I think there might be a long weekend in there somewhere, which means no soccer).

I guess I'll see where things stand by that point for the both of us.

Mine:

Oh my dear, darling Bonnie,
You simply must know that it's true!
When it comes to robbing banks,
I couldn't do it without you.

Friday April 21st, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the secret key.

I've made it to the end of my first four day work week.

Which means I've made it to the beginning of my four day weekend.

Both of the above feel pretty good, though I have to admit to favoring the second at the moment.

Today went very well. The sun was shining, people were out walking and bicycling to enjoy it, and everyone seemed to be in good moods. And, as a bonus, there were no unpleasant messes to be cleaned up in any of the washrooms.

Had a blast with the bakery crew after work, enjoying a beer with some pizza, fries, nachos, and salad. And excellent company, of course. Definitely want to get together with them on a fairly regular basis.

Mine:

"How did you get in here?"

"Oh, you know... I have my ways."

"You made a copy of my house key while I was napping again, didn't you?"

"Nah, man, I'm like a ninja... but, uh, don't go changing your locks for some reason, all right?"

Thursday April 20th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: open season.

The water guys at Public Works hooked up water to the last washroom to be opened to the public this morning, which meant I got to clean it up before leaving it unlocked and usable.

Which would have been a much easier and more pleasant job if somebody hasn't been finding a way in there to use it as an overnight drinking and camping spot. A matching key? Elite lock picking skills? Dark ritual sacrifice?

Who knows. But hopefully they'll either knock it off or get caught doing it. Or be appeased by the fact that the toilets can be flushed now.

In happier news, I'm meeting up with the bakery crew after work for a 'going away' party for me. I am very much looking forward to seeing them all again.

Mine:

That special time of year
Has come again at last;
I've waited for so long -
It's gonna be a blast!

Grab the guns and ammo
And leave behind the frowns.
It's opening day and
It's time to hunt some clowns...

Wednesday April 19th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the nickname.

Much better day today. Definitely getting the hang of things. Have some hope that tomorrow will be even more efficient.

And it would seem that only two days in I already have a nickname...

Mine:

All the trucks at work have ham radios in them and people are communicating over them pretty regularly throughout the day, mostly with the foreman. It's a pretty informal thing, with most everybody on a first name basis.

Except there's another Marc on the crew.

So this afternoon when the foreman radioed "Marc, you there?" I wasn't sure if he was talking to me or not. After a little pause I replied "Which Marc are you looking for?" (it ended up being me).

Later on I had to radio in to tell the foreman that one of the public washroom sinks was leaking quite badly. Once I'd heard that he had one of the water guys on the way I went back to the washroom to finish the rest of my cleaning while I waited for Harry to arrive.

When Harry showed up a few minutes later he asked if I'd heard the nickname thing on the radio.

"No, I wasn't by the truck."

"Oh, okay. I told Mike (the foreman) we should probably explain it to you."

"... okay?"

"A while back we had another Marc working with us and it was getting confusing over the radio. So Mike asked him if he had a nickname - the guy said, yeah... T Bone! Like George Costanza on Seinfeld. So of course everybody just called him Costanza instead."

"Of course."

"He hated it. He was like no, no - I said T Bone! Anyway... Mike said we should call you T Bone, but I wanted to explain it to you first."

I'm pretty sure that if they are still calling me T Bone over the radio in October it will still make me laugh every single time.

Tuesday April 18th, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: jitters.

That was a long day, but I felt like I learned a lot. Hopefully I will benefit from all that learning tomorrow and things will flow a little more smoothly and efficiently.

I won't share with you the grossest thing I saw today, but I will tell you that the second grossest thing I came across was the inside of the microwave at the office I was cleaning to close my shift.

It was like a food bomb went off in there. And was left to sit for at least a couple days. Probably while the microwave continued to be used to heat other food.

Bleh.

Mine:

My suddenly thick
fingers can't do anything -
I know you're watching

*     *     *

I fumbled my keys,
I spilled my drink on your lap,
I... just dropped the ball.

Monday April 17th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the initiation.

My thoughts have been preoccupied with my first day of work at the new job tomorrow. I'm feeling quite ready to get on with it at this point.

We had our photographer friend come over this afternoon to take some family photos in the apricot blossoms (which are now finally near full bloom). The weather did not care for this plan, but the rain didn't interfere too much until the very end.

At which point we ran for the house to dry off and warm up with some tea.

Hopefully he managed to get a few good shots somewhere in there. Will share some of the results once we get them.

Mine:

You wish to join us?
Then you must know
What is required:
Blood must flow.

You worry about innocence?
Trust us: there's no such thing.
So just take the knife and
Go make somebody sing

Sunday April 16th, 2017

The exercise:

We return to The Dream Kingdom today.

Because Sunday is still part of this week, at least from what I meant when I was thinking about when I'd get to this.

Hope you all had a happy Easter. Max and Miles and their cousins seemed to enjoy themselves, that's for sure.

Trying to make a dent in the comment backlog. It gets a bit intimidating when I fall over a month behind, but I'll get there eventually.

Probably.

Apologies for the length of mine. I find it difficult not to get carried away with each installment of the yearlong prompt.

Mine:

"What's really going on here?" Nystor repeated. His tone was still friendly, but his demeanor had changed slightly. Dylan thought he seemed... more authoritative, somehow. "Well I suppose now that the gang's all here, as it were, we can get to the nitty gritty, yes?"

"Yes." Dylan, Josh, and Olivia said in unison.

"Excellent. Watch closely, then - I won't be doing this again."

"Watch what closely...?" Olivia began but then fell silent as Nystor began his work.

The old man turned to face the nearest wall of the audience chamber, some twenty feet away. It was covered with portraits and tapestries and sculptures tucked into spacious alcoves until... it was not.

"This," Nystor said as the colors of the wall swirled and transformed and rearranged until they became a topographical map viewed from above, "is The Dream Kingdom."

"How did you do that?" Josh asked, his previous confidence having vanished from his voice and his eyes wide with wonder.

"With the strength of my imagination," Nystor replied, almost dismissively. "To our left you can see King Brekstan's domain, where we are now. To our right, the archipelago territory of The Islanders. The mountains and desert and waters that separate our kingdoms have done little to prevent disputes and sabotage and even the occasional war."

"That's where your king is now?" Dylan asked, pointing to the largest of the islands.

"Yes, if their ransom note is to be believed," Nystor said, his tone conveying his doubts on the matter.

"What happened?" Olivia asked. "How were they able to take him?"

"I can only share my own view of the events, as well as what I have been able to piece together from... other survivors," Nystor said as the wall map shifted to bring the northern kingdom into central focus. "I urge you not to look away. You must know who we will be coming up against."

Dylan opened his mouth to protest the man's presumptuousness but then his teeth clicked together as the wall changed again. This time it felt like they were falling into the map, the ground rushing closer and closer. It was difficult not to step back or reach for something to brace himself against. Just as impact began to seem inevitable, the viewpoint leveled off and they were soaring above the landscape, like an eagle shot out of a cannon.

"Jesus," Josh muttered.

The speed of their approach slowed slightly as a castle came into view, then the small town surrounding it. A moment later they could see the invading force swarming through the streets, clad in fish scale armor and wielding silver harpoons and large barbwire nets. The towering men and women were not shy about putting either to use on the townsfolk.

"I think I'm going to be sick," Dylan whispered.

"Watch." Was all that Nystor said in reply.

They view rose higher, sending them over the castle walls and through an open window. Down twisting hallways they flew, passing running soldiers and servants, until they arrived in the room in which they now stood. The viewpoint switched to first person, and it didn't take long to understand that they were now seeing with Nystor's eyes.

The Islanders had forced their way through a heavy door which now hung on broken hinges. Nystor on the wall raised his hands before him and bolts of electricity shot from his fingers, sending men twice his size sailing across the room. He turned his head in time to see his king fall to the floor under the weight of one of the invaders' jagged nets and more bolts flew out to send his liege's attackers thudding into the wall behind them.

Nystor on the wall turned again, to be confronted with three soldiers protected by glimmer shields. More jagged flashes of light flew from his fingers, but these were absorbed by the shields. His focus shifted and a final bolt struck an attacker on the foot, sending him crashing face first onto the stone floor. Nystor on the wall aimed his fingers at the other men's feet but then a harpoon was brought down across his wrists with enough force to break bone.

"Damn it," Josh said, getting caught up in the scene despite himself. Unseen, Nystor contemplated him for a moment before returning his focus to his memories.

On the wall, Nystor looked up at his attacker just as a fist crashed into his face, sprawling him across the floor. From there he had a sideways view of King Brekstan being dragged from the room. Nystor struggled to his feet, only to be struck down again. He turned his head one final time and watched the approach of two silvery fish scale boots. The wearer was casual, in no apparent rush to reach his target. Then one boot disappeared from view as it was lifted up.

And then the wall went black.

Saturday April 15th, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: over and out.

Final day at the bakery was a good one. Definitely some last day of work sillies going on. I'm gonna miss those guys.

At opening things were summer busy and we ended up selling out of loaves and butter tarts pretty quickly. Cinnamon buns, baguettes, chocolate croissants, and focaccia soon followed. Ciabatta went eventually. But we were left with a lot of hot cross buns at end of day.

I know they made a lot to make sure we didn't sell out quickly, but it was still a bit disappointing to see so many go in the freezer at closing.

Otherwise, though, it was a pretty great way to leave things.

Mine:

For far too long you've been crude,
Rude, an unrepentant lout.
But now enough is enough -
This is over, and I'm out.

Friday April 14th, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the end of the road.

Last shift at the bakery tomorrow. Feels strange. I had my first non-training shift at the bakery a year ago today.

It's been quite the ride.

Not much left at closing today, just a couple ciabatta loaves for the freezer and the rest is stuff we should be able to sell tomorrow. Should be a good one.

Mine:

It's a strange, lonely, confounding place. Intimidating, perhaps, on occasion. The way forward is a wild landscape of trees and bushes and quicksand with no clear path through it.

Of course, if one were to simply turn around, the way back would reach for the horizon with an unobstructed, smooth, paved hand, transforming an ending into a beginning...

Thursday April 13th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about something or someone that is: plodding.

Sold out of loaves fairly quickly today, but we were left with a fair number of hot cross buns and other treats at the end of the day. We're expecting to be 'sell out early' busy tomorrow though.

I spent the day training my replacement. Jen will be back tomorrow morning for a few hours, then she'll be there for my full shift on Saturday. Hopefully that's enough to get her ready for next week. I'll do my best to get her there anyway.

Soccer got cancelled today, as the field was too saturated with rain to be used. That was fine by me, both because I was feeling tired and not up to it, and also because Max has a cold and could use extra rest more than the exercise at the moment.

Mine:

Is that molasses on the
Bottom of your shoe?
No? That's just how you move?
That's just how you do?
Any chance that you might
One day take flight?
You know, zoom like a bird?
Like a deer in a herd?
Just run, sprint, go, go, go?
Yeah... I didn't think so.

Wednesday April 12th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the nightmare.

Sold out at the bakery for the first time in weeks (months, even?). Took until 15 minutes before closing time, but we got there eventually.

Looks like Easter week is going to be a busy one. The hot cross buns were certainly popular today at any rate.

Miles officially turned one today. Hard to believe. Here's a shot from his birthday, where he's enjoying his cupcake treat:


It's been quite the ride over the last year. I can only imagine what the next one has in store for us.

Mine:

Shadows host dark secrets,
Odd voices speak strange words.
The whole world is normal,
Except... no, not quite.
Everything is not right.
Just a touch abnormal -
The children talk like birds
And strength becomes weakness.

I just want to wake but
I can't find my alarm;
The rooster has gone mute.
I can't even scream!
I can't escape this dream!
Where's my sleep parachute?
Get me out before harm
And fear glue my eyes shut.

Edit: that was not the easiest rhyme scheme to work with (especially because I didn't pick it until after I'd written the fifth line of the opening stanza). I was not happy with myself when I decided to do a second stanza, but the first didn't feel complete on its own.

Ah well, I think it ended up all right. Maybe next time I'll plan ahead.

Tuesday April 11th, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: cleanliness.

I got to drop Max off at play school this morning. I was very impressed that I got out of there in under five minutes.

When I picked him up it sounded like he had a good time and he was in no rush to leave.

Hurray!

Had a bit of sunshine this afternoon, so I spent a good chunk of it out on the deck with the boys. Had to pull a couple slivers out of Miles' hand but he didn't seem too bothered by them.

Starting my final four day stretch (for now, at least) at the bakery tomorrow. Definitely some mixed feelings about that.

Mine:

The boys are eating
barbeque chicken again?
Time to get the bleach!

*     *     *

I like a clean house.
No... let me share my secret:
I need a clean house.

Monday April 10th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the hiatus.

Because at the end of this week I say farewell to the bakery, at least for now. Possibly for good, but I guess we'll see where everything stands in six months.

In the meantime...

Mine:

I recently applied for, interviewed for, and was offered one of two six month contract positions with the Town of Osoyoos. It's not at all what I want to be doing long term, but as far as short term financial solutions go it's pretty solid.

I'm going to be cleaning town offices at the end of each weekday (rotating between Town Hall, Public Works (the division I'll be working for this summer), Planning and Development, Destination Osoyoos, and the brand new Fire Hall). But that won't be my main responsibility.

No, that'll be the parks around town.

I'll driving around in one of the Town trucks and opening up all of the public washrooms first thing, then going back around to clean them all. Once that's done I'll be collecting garbage in the parks themselves, along with the public beaches, while also monitoring supplies and cleanliness in the washrooms until it's time to end my day at one of the offices. Weekend shifts will be spent entirely in the parks and beaches.

Again, not exactly what I hoped to be doing while working for the town, but there were a couple motivating factors in wanting the position. Money being foremost, unsurprisingly. Basically if I had chosen to stick with the bakery and somehow managed to continue getting the hours I've been getting recently (as in never selling out early and always working 8 hour shifts), I'd be looking at making approximately half of what I'll be making with the town over the next six months.

Considering how unlikely that is, I'll be making a lot more than double in this new position.

The other bonus is the schedule: I'll be working four days on, four days off until mid-October. So instead of having just three days off between my four day week at the bakery, I get an extra day every time around. And timing wise, it's also going to allow me to attend the Penticton farmers market when our strawberries are ready without having to take any time off work.

I had my training/orientation session today (along with the lady who will be working the other side of the four day shifts) and I think it's going to be all right. When the parks get busy during peak summer months it'll be tougher going, but the rest of the contract should be pretty manageable. Spending a good chunk of my day walking the parks and beaches picking up litter is rather appealing, assuming spring arrives some time soon and summer isn't too crazy hot.

I'll find out soon, anyway. My first round of shifts begins April 18th.

And come October? I guess I'll see if the bakery is in need of my services again at that point. Or maybe another option will have come my way by then. We shall see.

Either way, this will be the last week of bakery stories for you guys. I'll try not to replace them with too many gross public bathroom stories.

No promises though.

Sunday April 9th, 2017

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: hot air.

I haven't forgotten about the yearlong prompt, by the way. Expect this month's installment to arrive later this week. Promise.

Miles' birthday party was pretty fun. Too bad the wind forced us inside, as we weren't on the deck for very long. He enjoyed himself anyway, even though he certainly didn't understand what was going on.

He especially enjoyed the carrot cupcakes Kat made to celebrate the occasion.

I think we'll just stick to singing happy birthday on his actual birthday on Wednesday.

Edit: sigh, sleep. You are too powerful for me.

Mine:

You talk real big
For such a little man.
I wonder if
You even have a plan
For when the day
Arrives that someone dares
To call your bluff,
Unfazed by your hot air.

Saturday April 8th, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the dance club.

Only had three loaves and a couple cinnamon buns and butter tarts left at end of day today. The morning was easily the busiest we've been in weeks, if not months. Quite the contrast from recent days.

Very much looking forward to Miles' birthday party tomorrow afternoon.

Mine:

Music pounding, bodies moving
Very nearly in unison.
Overcrowding, headaches pounding,
Is anybody having fun?

Friday April 7th, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the cat burglar.

Despite a thunderstorm in the morning, I was only left with six loaves of bread to put in the freezer at the end of the day, along with about a dozen macaroons to set aside for tomorrow. That's more like it, Osoyoos.

My parents arrived for a weekend visit just before dinner. They'll be staying until Monday, which means they'll be part of Miles' birthday celebration this Sunday.

Very much looking forward to that, while also hoping for some sunshine and warmer temperatures so that we can host it on our deck.

Mine:

Oh, he's quick and nimble, all right. Flexible, too. He has to be, in his line of work, you know?

But I'm not sure all those bloody scratches are really worth whatever he gets paid for each bag of squirming, screaming cats he collects...

Thursday April 6th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the balm.

Bit of a mixed bag at the bakery today. End results weren't too bad, but I think the rain put a bit of a damper on things.

Thankfully it finally let off mid-afternoon and the sun came out shortly afterward, as Max had his first outdoor soccer practice at 5:30.

Kat won a gift certificate for his registration costs as a door prize a while back and he's been pretty excited to get started. We'd already picked up some cleats for him and today he got a uniform to go with it.

And, since I was worried he'd need some extra help, what with being one of the youngest kids there, I offered to be one of the assistant coaches. Also because I needed some training before I could become a professional cat herder?

Anyway, it was pretty fun. Seems like a good group of kids, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better and enjoying some time running around outside as the weather gets nicer and nicer over the next few months.

Mine:

In the swirling, turning, burning
Chaos of my life
You are a grounding, soothing,
Calming balm.

As required as air,
As necessary as food,
You are a protecting,
Sheltering oasis,
Like water in this
Desert of a city

Thank you, my darling,
For all of it.
The years have been kind
Because of you;
I can't imagine what
I would've done
If I had been one
All along
Instead of two.

Wednesday April 5th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the old dog.

A bit of a return to normalcy at the bakery today, as I had about 12 loaves to put in the freezer but no croissants, cinnamon buns, butter tarts, or focaccia.

More of the same tomorrow, please.

Mine:

The years have slowed me
Down.
My limp's no good,
This cough ain't healthy...
But
If you think I'm done,
That I've lost my fun,
Well then soon you'll see
I've still got a few
New tricks up my sleeve.

Tuesday April 4th, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: work and play.

Max started playschool this morning (it's basically preschool under a different name). He's going to be there two mornings (Tuesday and Thursday) a week for the next three months, assuming all goes as planned.

From the sounds of it he did great. Kat had to stay for about an hour before she could escape but hopefully that will disappear as he gets more and more comfortable there. One of his former daycare teachers is one of the two teachers, so that should help.

Fingers crossed that he's come far enough since his stint with daycare that he'll continue to enjoy his time away from us, which would allow Kat to get some extra work done. Not to mention maybe make him some new friends.

Back to the bakery tomorrow. Hoping for a return to more normal busyness.

Mine:

All work and no play
ages both body and soul
with withering speed

*     *     *

With gritted teeth and
sweat on his brow, he takes his
play seriously

Monday April 3rd, 2017

The exercise:

Write about something: unspoken.

Sorry for the very late posting. You guys know the drill by now.

Had fun having a balloon party with the boys this morning (and afternoon... and evening). What's a balloon party, you might be wondering? Basically you buy a bunch of balloons, blow them all up, toss them in the living room, and enjoy the chaos which ensues.

It's a particularly effective recipe when two little boys are involved.

Mine:

There is an agreement in place -
You can see it in his face.
No words are required here;
I'd do as he wants my dear.
It is much better this way,
When he doesn't have to say
What he is expecting of you -
So keep the peace and just do
What's needed to keep this house
Meek and quiet as a mouse.

Sunday April 2nd, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the rampage.

We had Kat's birthday dinner at her parents house this evening. Was a nice time with most of the farm family (her brother Adam was too sick with the flu to attend), and the kids had a ball playing together, as usual.

Next up is Miles, who will be turning one in ten days.

Because whaaaaaaat.

Mine:

It is not a pleasant, nor easy, task to take the statements from victims after a violent rampage such as this one. But it is a necessary one. It is important for them to know that their voice is being heard, that their point of view on the events is valued. It is part of their healing process.

Still, it is a taxing process. By the third interview I have a very good picture of what happened... and of what the next twenty will tell me. Their trauma is not a burden I find easy to shake. It lingers, haunting my thoughts and corrupting my dreams.

And I have to hear it over and over and over again.

It is not, to say the least, my favorite duty. But it is one of them, so I must perform it to the utmost of my abilities. I owe to my employer, certainly. But most of all I owe it to the victims.

So I turn the page, brace myself, and begin again.

"All right, Billy - tell me what happened after Jessica's mommy let the birthday clowns into the house."

Saturday April 1st, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: an absence.

It's been an odd week at the bakery. So much stuff to squeeze into the freezer at the end of almost every day.

My best guess as to what's going on is that people left here for spring break but nobody (or at least significantly fewer people) came here for school vacation.

With school back in session next week I guess we'll see how accurate that theory is.

Either way, I am looking forward to a few days off.

Mine:

An absence of customers
Buying what they usually do,
Has left me here wondering:
Just where the hell are you?

Friday March 31st, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the guitar.

One of the strings on Kat's guitar broke a while back and it's been sitting in its case waiting for repairs ever since. So I decided I'd get it fixed for her birthday surprise.

I found someone in town who would do it on Monday. Took the guitar out to the car after Kat went to sleep Monday night. Dropped it off on Tuesday (while telling Kat I was up to something else entirely). Picked it up on Wednesday after I got off work (while telling Kat that I was still at work). Got it out of the trunk of the car Wednesday night after Kat went to sleep and returned it to its case. Spent Thursday trying to convince myself that she had no reason whatsoever to open up that case.

Made it to this morning without any suspicions being raised.

Max and I sang Happy Birthday to her this morning before I had to go to work. But we needed instruments, so he got a drum and his ukulele and a shaker out of his room. But it was missing something, you know?

Like maybe Kat's guitar, so that she could accompany us.

She was very pleased with her birthday surprise.

Mine:

It sits, protected and unblemished, in a glass display case which hangs on a living room wall. A tiny spotlight shines on it at night, so that he can look at it without any of the surrounding distractions getting in the way.

He spends most nights admiring it, more often than not with a whiskey in hand, clinking the ice cubes together and reminiscing.

He was never in a band - never even played the damned thing, actually - but there's no convincing the old man of that, now is there?

Thursday March 30th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: burning the midnight oil.

Bakery was oddly slow today. Was left with a lot of loaves for the freezer. As in, more than I care to remember (I tallied the various types but did not make a mental note as to the grand total). And the weather was quite reasonable outside, so that wasn't the problem.

I guess we shall see how things go tomorrow.

Tomorrow, aka my wife's birthday!

Mine:

The Head Librarian strode across the study hall, taking in the bent backs and hunched shoulders of the late night students toiling away at their homework and exam preparations by the light of a hundred torches in sconces attached to the walls and columns above their desks. A faint smile played across his lips as he remembered his days in their shoes.

Oh, the stress he thought he was under back then. As if he even knew what the word meant.

He knew now though. He fully understood the meaning of the word stress all too well. It seemed to haunt his every step, as though it had shoved aside his shadow and taken its place.

Last month's budget meetings had not gone well, as far as the library was concerned. Cutbacks to supplies and staff. Insistence that worn and fading books continue to be used instead of being replaced with newer versions. Even the out of date texts were to remain in circulation.

Which was all well and good, he had decided, as long as both the students and their professors were working with the same misinformation. It wasn't like the outside world would ever test their knowledge in those areas.

He reached the eastern edge of the library and turned left, making his way past bookshelves bursting with books in dire need of a good dusting. No staff for that, though. Not anymore.

Would his job be the next to go? Would the men and women writing the cheques decide that the library would continue to run just fine, thank you very much, in his absence?

If so, he thought as that ghostly smile appeared once more, they would find themselves very much mistaken.

At the end of the row he glanced behind him to verify that no one had followed him before triggering the hidden switch he'd had installed beneath a painting of two dragons sleeping in a forest glade. A door swung open and he stepped inside, quickly closing the entrance behind him.

He paused for a few moments, allowing his vision to adjust to the darkness. Once he could see well enough to navigate without bumping into any of the barrels (or tripping over the hoses attached to them) filling the room, he made his way to the far wall. He examined the control panel there, confirming that all readings were in the acceptable range, then checked the time.

Satisfied that all was as it should be, he turned the large black dial in the middle of the panel, moving its arrow from pointing toward a twinkling sun to aim instead toward a shimmering moon.

It was time to burn the midnight oil.

Wednesday March 29th, 2017

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: secrecy.

Kat's birthday surprise continues to progress as hoped. Just got to get through tomorrow without her figuring it out.

Bakery was steady busy for most of the day. I'm sure the rain kept a lot of people away though. That won't be the case tomorrow if the forecast is correct.

Fingers crossed and all that.

Mine:

Oh, the tales I could tell. The scandals, the adventures, the parties. If only I were allowed. Sadly I have been sworn to secrecy.

And the men and women whose secrets I have promised to keep are not the sort of people any sane man would be interested in crossing. And, I must assure you, I remain very much sane. Despite all that I have seen and done.

I have secrets of my own though. And I keep mine even more tightly under wraps than those of my masters. A man who has led the life that I have must be careful to the extreme. If one is interested in continuing to breathe, at any rate.

And I am still quite invested in that matter.

Are my masters aware that I have kept things hidden from them? Oh, I imagine that they are. But I am certain that they have absolutely no idea about the details. And it shall remain that way. It has to. It must.

And so you, dear intruder, have to be silenced.

Quite permanently, I'm afraid.

Tuesday March 28th, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: bribery.

Yes, the inspiration is Max related. Won't bother getting into the details, as they're not particularly interesting. I will say it's working fairly well so far though!

Kat's birthday is this Friday. Working on a little surprise for her.

I am good at keeping surprises secret, in general, but I find it rather difficult to stop myself from talking about what I'm up to with her.

It's almost like I tell her everything or something.

Mine:

Chocolate for this,
a few rum and Cokes for that;
I'm bribing myself.

*     *     *

Please do as I ask.
No? Here's a sackful of cash.
Now what do you say?

Monday March 27th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the shiver.

Sun came out for a little bit this afternoon. That was nice.

I shall remember that fondly in the rainy days to come...

Mine:

We both saw her shiver. She muttered something about the cold and pulled her jacket tighter around her shoulders. I turned away to hide my smile and let her pretend that the temperature was the cause, not fear.

I got it, though. The way the darkness was gathering around us, almost like a suffocating embrace. The way the deepest shadows seemed to have more weight and more... substance. I got it.

I didn't feel it myself, but I could see why she did.

"How much farther?" she asked a minute or two later.

"Not very," I said, keeping my tone casual. "You doing okay?"

"Yeah. My feet are just getting a little sore, that's all."

Sure they were. Nothing to do with not wanting to complete the journey. Only her poor footsies causing her concern.

"Want a piggyback ride?" I offered with a grin I didn't bother to conceal.

"Go to hell, Harry."

Oh, darling. That's exactly where we're going...

Sunday March 26th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the raid.

Spent the morning with the boys while Kat got some counselling work done. Enjoyed some family time in the afternoon (painting and making a popsicle stick house).

Not a bad day off. Could have used more warmth and sunshine, but hopefully we'll get that tomorrow.

Mine:

"We attack at sunset."

"Is that wise, sir? It has been a long day already for the men."

"It is wise. And it will be a long day for the men. But it will be an even longer one for our enemy."

"That's assuming the men aren't too exhausted to lift their weapons. Or aim them properly..."

"We will have surprise on our side. It will more than make up for any shortcomings on the part of my soldiers."

"I see that you won't be swayed in this matter. You've clearly made up your mind, sir."

"That is correct."

"Then I shall begin doling out the Red Bull, sir."

Saturday March 25th, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: bread.

Hectic, crazy start to the morning at the bakery. Things settled down by 11 and then got pretty quiet for the rest of the day, leaving me with lots of cinnamon buns to put in the freezer, along with three loaves, and bits of most everything else.

Looking forward to taking things a little easier tomorrow.

Mine:

Such comforting warmth
On a grey, cloudy day;
Smell wafts from the kitchen
And worries go away

Friday March 24th, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the rat.

Rainy day made for a slower day at the bakery. 15 loaves, 5 croissants, 5 cinnamon buns, 5 baguettes, 5 ciabatta loaves, and a focaccia into the freezer (man, that's a lot of fives... surprised I didn't notice that before now).

Ah well, hopefully Saturday and sunshine make for better business.

Mine:

"Hey, what are the cops doing here?"

"Aw, man - we haven't even done anything yet!"

"You mean we haven't done anything, nor will we be doing anything."

"Right, yeah... but as soon as they get bored and leave it looks like we've got a rat to take care of."

Thursday March 23rd, 2017

The exercise:

Write about something that was: stolen.

Only had two loaves left at end of day, along with a few butter tarts and some macaroons. Toss in some warm weather and sunshine and you've got a pretty good day, I reckon.

Miles is doing okay. At least he isn't coughing too much, which is when the laryngitis is most noticeable. But Kat is currently not feeling all that great as well (hopefully just a cold and nothing more).

Because of course.

Mine:

A simple glance, an innocent look. That's all it took for you to steal my heart, as though my life were some tawdry romance book. But it's true - my heart raced, my knees shook. And just like that, I fell in love with a crook.

*   *   *

Walking to a meeting at work, I hear you call. My name, on your lips... a combination that always enthralls. You say I am your doll as my passing coworkers press us against the wall. Tumbling, tumbling, I continue to fall. A stolen moment in the hall.

*   *   *

This empty bedroom is hidden beneath blankets of dust. It is silent here, not even an echo of our former lust. I try to forget you but it seems like I must keep watching these mental movies of us. A bond broken by mistrust and too many things not discussed. Ten years lost, the prime of my life taken from me, and I am standing here now and I just... I just... cannot adjust.

Wednesday March 22nd, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the mute.

Bakery was fairly slow for most of the day. Did have a lady buy 13 loaves (for herself and some friends, I believe) late afternoon, so that helped. Plus Shannon did want 15 loaves in the freezer for a restaurant order, so it wasn't a problem, really.

Just was a lot of bread to deal with at end of day.

Miles came down with a nasty sounding cough yesterday, so Kat took him to the doctor this afternoon. I guess he's got laryngitis, but it's not too severe.

Not much worse sounding than an infant with a hoarse throat though.

Mine:

Little Ricky never spoke a word to nobody, as best anybody could tell. That don't mean he didn't communicate though. He had his ways, you know?

Like, if he was wearing one of his red shirts? You best keep your distance, man. He had the fire in him them days. And that temper of his was not something you wanted to mess with. Burning, burning hot, man.

And if he was wearing his black hat? He was sad about something, that's for sure. No way to know what, of course, but I guess the details didn't matter much. I mean, if he wanted somebody to know what was bringing him down he'd have told 'em, right? But he never did, so...

And then there were the times he wouldn't shave for weeks. Months, even. That was trickier business, that's for sure. Because you wouldn't even realize something was up, right? Not until the hair on his cheeks got thick enough for you to see it.

Poor Ricky had hair as yellow as sunshine, so it took a while for it to show.

Anyway. That facial hair was a sure sign that something was troubling him. Driving him to distraction. Keeping him up at night. That boy done got obsessed when certain thoughts or ideas or people (pray that it wasn't you, man) got stuck in his head.

You know, for a kid that never said nothing, Little Ricky sure had a lot to say...

Tuesday March 21st, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: pride.

Dealt with a migraine for most of the day, so that made things... unpleasant. The rain didn't help much either.

Finally got out of the house mid-afternoon to take the boys for a walk around the farm. That helped everyone, I think, and it was a reasonable temperature despite the clouds. Plus the rain was kind enough to ease off for a while.

Back to the bakery tomorrow. Hopefully without too much of a migraine hangover.

Mine:

It has been said that
pride goeth before the fall.
So... I guess we wait?

*     *     *

She is overly
fond, I think, of her massive
poodle collection