Tuesday January 31st, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the mouse.

Kat's come down with a cold of the energy sapping variety, which meant she wasn't up for taking Max to swimming lessons this afternoon.

Which meant he wasn't interested in going to swimming lessons.

Sigh. Maybe next week.

I feel like I'm fighting something off as well, but I plan on not allowing it to get the better of me through sheer stubbornness. Can't see any potential issues with that.


He tiptoes around
the library, looking for
safety in a book

*     *     *

Strolling through his parks
on two legs - how is this not
a nightmare for kids?

Monday January 30th, 2017

The exercise:

I think it's about time we return to the Continuation Prompt. So pick up the story from where the previous writer left it and carry it forward (or sideways or backward, I suppose) for a while.

Kat had an online class this afternoon, so I took both of the boys to soccer class. Miles and I sat in the stands while Max did his thing on the gym floor with the rest of the kids. He did really great on his own, while Miles cheered him on. When he wasn't playing with one of the other soccer player's younger sibling.

Fingers crossed swimming lessons go equally well tomorrow.


Timothy looked up from the textbook he was studying behind the counter of the coffee shop and was surprised to see that the sun was preparing to rise above the horizon. He slipped a napkin between the pages to mark his place before shutting it, then grabbed the shop keys from beside the till. He was glad that there were no layabouts to kick out this time as he locked the front door.

He lingered at the door, watching the neighbouring shops shut up for the day and the stragglers in the streets heading for home. Everyone looked so exhausted. Not for the first time, and likely not the last, Timothy wondered if it was all worth it.

Leaving his textbook untouched, he moved to the rear of the shop and began cleaning up the kitchen. After putting the dried plates in their designated cupboards he decided to double check that the back door was locked. It was something he had become in the habit of doing after the unsettling incident with the outsider the previous week. Sure, the door had been safely locked, and the man had arrived much later in the day, but Timothy was not interested in taking any chances. Not any more.

Finding comfort in the bolted door, he returned to his closing duties. But it wasn't long before he was interrupted by a knock on the back door. It was heavy and insistent and it filled him with fear.

"Who is it?" he finally managed.

"Open the damned door, Timothy!" Celeste, the owner of the shop, shouted. "I need coffee."

"What happened to your key?" Timothy asked, pausing with his fingers inches from the lock. Something told him to make sure before allowing anyone entry to his sanctuary. He knew it was likely just fear speaking, but he listened anyway.

"Dropped it, got pickpocketed, left it at home... who knows?" Celeste said, obviously growing annoyed at the delay. "Who can say anything for sure anymore? This is Gardenvale, after all."

Sunday January 29th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the park ranger.

Had a family walk at Haynes Point this morning, which Max always loves. I wish we could get him out there every day. At least now that the weather is gradually warming up we'll be able to do it more often.

Split and hauled firewood this afternoon. Felt good to get the (non child related) exercise and hopefully we're stocked up to last us a little while.

We have almost reached the end of January. It always seems like a tough month to get through in these parts. Not that February is all that much better, but it is one more calendar flip closer to spring.


The carcass had still been warm when he had reached it and it hadn't taken long to spot the trail of fresh blood leading away to the south. They must have heard him coming, which made for rushed, messy work.

Good, he'd thought with a grim smile. That would make tracking the bastards even easier.

Once he caught up with them a decision would have to be made. The gun slung over his shoulder was loaded and well used, perhaps more than was strictly necessary for his post. But he needed to do something to pass the time, and as a result he was a very, very good shot.

Would he need it today though? These were desperate times, and black market prices were skyrocketing. The poachers could be grizzled veterans of the trade or baby-faced first timers, driven to drastic measures by the loss of a job or even an unexpected medical bill.

Regardless of which category those he pursued belonged in, the taste of the coppery air on his tongue as he moved quickly through the woods was all the reminder he needed to know that they deserved to be brought to justice.

He just hoped that it would not be directly at his hands. Unless it proved to be extremely obvious that this was not their first poach.

In which case.... well. Practice does make perfect, as they say.

Saturday January 28th, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the treasure hunter.

Bakery was busy off and on today, but one of those on times was rather lengthy and intense. I think I had to use the machine to slice 13 loaves of bread between 5 customers in the course of 10 minutes or less. Definitely had trouble keeping the shelves stocked before and after that stretch.

By closing I'd sold all the loaves and all but one cinnamon bun, one baguette, one ciabatta loaf, and three epis. I think people were making a point to stock up to cover the week and a half we'll be closed - especially those who only come in on the weekend, as they're two weeks away from seeing us again.

Looking forward to having some time with my family tomorrow. Hopefully the weather cooperates and allows us to get some time outdoors.


There is very nearly nothing
That will keep him safe at home;
The wide world is always calling
With its long lost catacombs

Friday January 27th, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: the ghost town.

Got things moving again with my writing this morning. It's all in the approach sometimes. Now that I've got a method to my madness, I'm hoping to start making serious progress in the coming weeks.

Back at the bakery tomorrow, before they're closing for a week so that Sean and Shannon can move from their current house into a new place. Once the bakery opens up again (Feb 8th) I'll be taking over front counter duties Wednesday to Saturday, as Emma will be departing from her Wednesday to Friday shifts.

Looking forward to the extra income, but I'll still be keeping an eye out for something a little more secure and with higher pay.

While also still working away at this writing stuff, of course.


The leafless trees lining Main Street still rustle with memories of a long-past autumn when the north wind passes through town. But even the wind knows better than to linger here, so the echoing sound never lasts for long.

Not that anyone is ever around to hear it. Just me and some old friends, and we shall keep watch over our hometown for all of eternity.

Thursday January 26th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: mayhem.

Took the boys to gym time at the community centre this morning. It was Miles' first time, and Max and I hadn't been there... in a very long time. It was a good chance for Max to run around and let off some steam for over an hour, and Miles seemed to enjoy it as well.

Fun side note: it's called Parent and Tot time, but my brain insists on calling it Toddler and Tot time. So I generally just refer to it as gym time.

Hit a few stumbling blocks with my writing project this afternoon, but I think I've figured out a way around them already. Shall see how that works out tomorrow.


Surrounded by rage personified, by the chaos of vengeance without direction, by the unraveling threads of kindness, politeness, civility, and sound judgment, I sit and I watch. And, perhaps because I am so still, not a soul takes notice of me.

I would like to take some pictures, perhaps record a video or two, but I suspect that such actions would draw attention. And I would not be at all surprised if it drew protest. Violent protest, obviously.

So I remain still, allowing my eyes to take in and record as much as they can in this swirling sea of humanity's wickedness unleashed. I note with some interest that no weapons are being put to use - other than fists and feet, of course. I suppose the knives and guns and homemade bombs of all shapes and sizes and sorts will come later.

I think I shall be long gone by then.

My gaze flicks toward my coffee, somehow still upright and unspilled on the table before me. I would very much like to take a sip before it goes entirely cold. I think it would increase my enjoyment of all this nonsense.

It might also be the last coffee this shop ever brews for anyone. So maybe I should preserve it instead?

Anyway. I should be keeping watch on the mob. It really would be for the best if I can take advantage of the very first opportunity to get out of here. So let's focus on that, shall we?

Yes, let's.

Wednesday January 25th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about something that is: out of focus.

Between helping Kat and the boys get out the door for music class, doing laundry, and getting firewood, this morning slipped past pretty quickly.

This afternoon I took a drive up to Penticton to stock up on groceries, which went as smoothly as could have been expected. Hopefully we've got enough meat in the freezer to get us most of the way through February.

Didn't have much time to work on my writing project but it still occupied a lot of mental space. I'll share more details once things get a little further along. For now I'll just say that my creative focus is on that, which makes coming up with prompts for the blog a little harder than usual.

I'm sure I'll manage though.

I always do.


As I stand up (why was I sitting down?) the world tilts and blurs, and my stomach lurches in response. I shake my head to try to clear the cobwebs and immediately wish that I hadn't. Where did this headache come from?

I close my eyes and try to breathe my way through this disorientation. The cold air hurts my throat (cold?) but I stick with it. My heart rate begins to settle into a more normal rhythm. I open my eyes to test my vision and... I'm sitting down again.

"Wha... ugh." It is an effort to not vomit. Thinking of the torture that would cause my already aching throat helps. I blink a few times. It doesn't help.

Everything is out of focus, like a photograph taken by an addict trying to quit cold turkey. The bright sunshine is not helping, nor is the contrast of the shadows lurking in menacing clusters around the edges of this... clearing?

Are those trees encircling me? They must be, but they don't look like anything I've seen before. Back home we just have pines and fruit trees and... back home. I'm not home. Clearly.

So where am I?

Tuesday January 24th, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the collection.

This morning was pretty good. Got caught up on comments again (always a relief) and started to get into my first project in Scrivener. Which I bought yesterday, so I'm officially all in on that one.

This afternoon was a bit of a gong show. Max refused to let me take him to his swimming lesson, insisting he only wanted to go with Mommy. Who was busy getting Miles to sleep. And who had already taken the boys on a StrongStart field trip to the town's new fire hall this morning.

So... no swimming lessons this week.

He eventually got over his tantrum and we had a fairly nice time together after that. Managed to get him to bed at a reasonable time this evening, so hopefully a better night's sleep will lead to more cooperation tomorrow. Maybe?

Yeah, probably not.


A little of this,
a whole lot of that; I like
collecting nightmares

*     *     *

Ensconced within glass
display cases, his treasures
are for all of us

Monday January 23rd, 2017

The exercise:

Write something which takes place in: the clothing store.

Had the boys this morning while Kat was seeing a client, so I took them for a visit to our favorite coffee shop. Just wasn't feeling up to StrongStart.

Brought Max to soccer class this afternoon and he went over to the coach at the start all on his own without even a backward glance. More of that, please.

Feel like I could use a whole day to myself to rest and recharge. Hopefully tomorrow morning will be good enough.


"All right, you're up next Charlie."

"Who, him? Oh, come on!"

"You pulled the short straw, that means you're helping the next customer to walk through the door. And that's him."

"He's wearing a red Hawaiian shirt with a striped tie and green pants. In January. Pretty sure there's no help for him. I'll take the next one."

"That's not how it works, Charlie. Get over there and make some sales."

"Sales? Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize we had restocked our Dumb, Blind, and Destined To Be Alone Forever section."


"Fine, I'm going. But I want my full bonus for this month if I can get him to buy so much as a pair of socks."

"Good luck with that, Charlie - he's not even wearing shoes."

"Oh for crying out loud..."

Sunday January 22nd, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the audit.

Ended up working from 8 until 11:45 this morning to finish off the inventory (a couple of people from last night didn't show up this morning, so it took a little longer than expected).

Current status: done. Just... done.


"Hey Marty? Could you come here for a second?"

"Sure thing."

"So, I s-"

"Okay, time's up!"

"Don't be so damned literal, Marty. You know what I meant."

"Of course I did. Gotta have a little fun now and then though, right?"

"I guess. Anyway, I'm just doing an audit on our inventory count from last week and I see you were the one doing the stationary supply closet."

"Yeah, that's right."

"And under red pens, here? You put 5A3TTU."


"Uh... okay, well... by my count, I got 92."

"Yeah, me too!"

"Um... okay, but that's not what you wrote down."

"Sure it is. I just did it in code, same as the rest."

"Right, sure. Um... what code?"

"Oh, I just made one up in my head. It got a tad boring after a while, had to keep it interesting."

"That's, uh, fair, I guess. Could you explain the code to me?"

"What would be the fun in that?"

Saturday January 21st, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about someone who is: skittish.

Managed to totally forget about my diabetes diagnosis anniversary (11 years today) until Facebook reminded me when I logged on just a few minutes ago.

I guess that's what happens when you work a 14 hour day, pretty much entirely on your feet.

I was at the bakery from 8 until 3:30, then I went to work helping out a store in town with their inventory from 4:30 until 11. It was fine (better than I expected, actually), but I still do not recommend doing that. Just remember: Marc makes bad life decisions. Do not do what Marc does.

We got a little over 80% of the store inventoried, so we'll be back at it tomorrow morning at 8 to finish it off. I expect it'll take a couple hours at most.

Which is good, seeing as I probably can't handle much more than that.

Also: will have to celebrate Diabetes Donut Day a day late.


Every unexpected noise
Is like Death knocking on her door;
To be totally honest,
I'm not sure she can take much more...

Friday January 20th, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: chance.

Took the boys to StrongStart this morning while Kat saw a counselling client. Max was disappointed there wasn't more time to play, as we got there just before snack time and then the librarian showed up to read books to the kids. Miles did not care about that. He only cared when I insisted on taking toys out of his mouth.

Worked the 4-9 closing shift at the community centre this evening. Pretty quiet night, which allowed me to leave a touch early.

Hoping to get some extra sleep tonight, as tomorrow is promising to be a long day.


There are certain moments in my life - such as this one, for example - that I pause to consider all of the things that happened in order for me to be in a particular place at a particular time. In this example, my phone rang while I was getting ready to leave my house, forcing me behind schedule by a few precious minutes. Which led to me being stopped in my car at a red light I would have otherwise never seen.

And then I'd have missed out on seeing the hunk in the red convertible who stopped next to me, which truly would have been a shame... though I'd happily have taken a pass on that if it meant not seeing his ex-wife smash into him from behind at full speed in a stolen monster truck.

Thursday January 19th, 2017

The exercise:

We're going back to the List Prompt today. So use each of the following words in your writing: sleepy, discard, animosity, squeamish.

For those that are curious, I used a random number generator to find pages in my dictionary, then read through the words on the chosen page until I found one I wanted to use. Kinda annoyed I got two so (relatively) close together, but that's randomness for you.

The weather has returned to normal here. We're above zero for at least the next few days, and the snow has begun to melt.

In *very much* related news, my hands feel much better.


Gardenvale has often been referred to as a sleepy little hamlet and now that I'm standing here, in what passes for the town square, I can see why. It's two in the afternoon and the only people I see look like they've either just woken or are on their way to bed.

I'm also pretty sure I can hear a lullaby playing somewhere nearby. Probably the only song the local radio station allows on its airwaves.

My stomach growls - not for the first time - and I decide to find somewhere to pacify it. I try the first cafe I come to and find the door locked. Big surprise. The owner's probably taking a nap in the back. The same is true of the second and the third.

I can feel panic battling with hunger in my belly.

On a hunch I step into the alley between a coffee shop and a deli. It's dark and the stink is bad enough to make me feel squeamish. But maybe I can find an unlocked back door, convince someone to take my money for whatever they want to serve me.

I knew I should have packed a lunch before leaving the house. This is ridiculous.

Shoving aside my growing feelings of animosity toward this town and its residents, I knock on the deli's back door. No answer. I turn and try the coffee shop.

"Who is it?" a voice shouts from within.

"A hungry customer," I call back, annoyed to have this conversation through a door. "Can I pay you for some food? Please?"

I hate myself for that please.

"We're closed!"

"Come on, man! Don't you have anything? Hell, I'll take somebody's leftovers - I'm not picky!"

"That's gross, man."

"Better than eating scraps out of your dumpster!" I counter, trying to remain calm.

"We're closed," he repeats. "Why don't you go back to wherever you came from?"

Stalking back to the main thoroughfare, I decide that this is no sleepy hamlet. This is an obnoxious hole in the ground to be avoided at all costs. Just before returning to the sullenly empty sidewalk, I step on a discarded banana peel and take a tumble into a puddle of I-don't-want-to-know-what.

It's like this place just wanted to kick me in the ass on the way out the door.

Wednesday January 18th, 2017

The exercise:

It's time to bring back the Random Book prompt. So go grab a book from your collection and borrow its first line. After giving it credit, let your imagination take it from there.

I wanted to use this prompt to inspire me to start reading one of the two books my sister Nicky got me for Christmas. Turns out? They both have excellent openings, as far as this prompt is concerned. I had trouble choosing between them for today's writing... so there's a chance this prompt might come back around a little sooner than usual.

Ideally, though, that'll be after I read the one whose starter I'm making use of today.


The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

I am not as I once was. When I look at these photos, taken so long ago, I see someone else. Those are not my clothes, my things, my friends. That is not my face. It cannot be.

Where are the lines, the scars, the wear and tear of the passing years? Where is the pain? That is what is missing most clearly: the pain. How it transforms you, inside and out. How it changes... everything.

You must be thinking: we all get old, you are not special. This happens to us all, this lack of recognition as we flip through dusty albums filled with faded photographs. We are born, we grow old, and then we die. It is part of the human experience.

If that is so, if those thoughts are swirling behind your eyes, then I should probably tell you that you are mistaken. We are not the same, you and I. I was never meant to grow old. I was not meant to die.

Perhaps I was not meant to have been born at all. I'm sure my mother and father would tell you so...

Had they survived.

Tuesday January 17th, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku which take place on: the construction site.

Because our living room is always a construction site these days. Even Miles is starting to get in on the act.

Took a trip to the Model Railroad Museum with Nicky this morning and it was enjoyed by all. Mostly Max, but also Nicky as it was her first time there.

Nicky had to leave for the airport after lunch, which of course felt far too soon. These visits always go too fast.

Max had his second swimming lesson this afternoon and Kat told me he did great. Which was a relief after he started going on and on about how he didn't want to go this morning.

Because of course he did.


He cusses with the
best of them, while silently
writing poetry

*     *     *

Dig it out, pour it
in, and over and over
and over again...

Monday January 16th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the next step.

I'm returning to the Wastelands for this one. In order to do that more easily, I needed to label all the related posts because apparently I hadn't already done that.

Had a good day with Nicky and my family. Spent the morning with Miles while Kat and Max were at StrongStart, then the afternoon with Max (featuring a rather spectacular session of soccer class).

She'll be stopping by again tomorrow morning before having to catch a mid-afternoon flight to Calgary from Penticton. We shall see what sort of madness we can cram into the three or four hours we'll have together.


I'd had my doubts about the splint Master Francis had affixed to my left hand - two short pieces of wood tightly wrapped in three leather straps - but I have to admit it has done its job. The ache in my wrist is nearly gone now, and he says we should be able to remove it within a few days.

And then what? That had been the question he posed to me over dinner this evening.

"Sebastien tells me that Scout V42 has returned from your crash site with sufficient evidence - his words, not mine - that you were indeed brought down by the North Ridge Brigands. So I suppose revenge is one possible course of action for you."

"Hmm," I'd said without making eye contact. The food was simple but good, so I focused on that instead.

"Or you could continue on your journey to the west. Try to discover what your Captain Miranda had been seeking." Master Francis had been trying to avoid dipping the end of his long white beard in his soup, with mixed results. "Though, to be entirely honest, I have no idea what that might be and I have lived in this place for a very long time."

"Right," I'd said, stirring my soup with slow circles of my wooden spoon. That had originally been my plan but my time with Master Francis and his inventions had been a pleasant distraction and I wasn't sure that I was ready to leave them behind.

Besides, I still needed to win my money back from Sebastien. I could have sworn he cheated at cards, I just couldn't prove it.

"Alternatively," Master Francis had continued after sipping from his cup of water, "you could, if you'd care to, stay on here for a while longer. Sebastien has enjoyed your company and... I suppose I have as well."

"That is kind of you," I had said.

"Don't go thinking it would be a nice vacation or nothing like that though," he'd said, pointing a heavily wrinkled finger at my face. "I dare say you'd need to put in some work here to repay me for all that I've done for you."

"That's fair," I'd said, trying to hide a smile.

"Anyway, take a few days to make up your mind. Just don't take all year about it, all right?"

"Of course."

Now here I am, lying in bed, mulling over my options. And I think I already know which path I will choose. But I'm also wondering whether or not I could pursue more than one of those choices at the same time.

Because as much as I wish to repay my debt to Master Francis, I am also not the sort of man to simply forget about those who have blasted me out of the sky.

Sunday January 15th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the nightcap.

My sister arrived at her hotel late this evening, so I went to meet her for a nightcap. And thus, a prompt was born.

Great to catch up a little bit with just the two of us there. Looking forward to hanging out with her and my family tomorrow.


"What, exactly, do you have on your head?"

"You mean my nightcap?"

"It's a... oh, I see."

"Would you like one?"

"I think you may have gotten things a little mixed up, dear."

"Oh, not at all - it's pure whiskey!"

"Also, you're sleeping on the couch tonight - you've already spilled most of that in your hair..."

Saturday January 14th, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: the basketball player.

Bakery was busy for pastries and treats, not so much for loaves of bread. Sold out of butter tarts, croissants, cinnamon buns, and focaccia. Put about 20 loaves of bread into the freezer. Bit of an odd day.

Very much looking forward to the arrival of my sister Nicky tomorrow night. She's out from Boston to see us for a couple days after having a visit with our sister Sue in Calgary. It'll be great to see her again, and I can't wait to introduce her to Miles.

And get her reacquainted with Max. That should be fun as well.


The tallest of the giants,
Peter stalks toward the basket;
I quickly pass him the ball,
Lest he stuff me in a casket

Friday January 13th, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: The Fly-by-Night Detective Agency.

Not sure where that came from, but it sounded like fun. Plus it might inspire something longer or ongoing or recurring from some of us. So here we are.

Work was pretty quiet this evening, other than a packed gym for pickleball. With so many players there's a lot of waiting around to get into a game, which means people are going to stick around as long as possible in the hopes of more time on the court.

Which means I get to kick people out at the end of the night so that I can go home.

Not my favorite thing, but at least they're all adults and can get out fairly quickly when told to. I just wish they didn't need to be told...


"I see here that you require payment upfront," the elderly lady (who had thus far refused to give me her name) said before turning to page four of my three hundred page New Client Agreement package.

"That's right," I told her, shifting around behind my desk in my once-comfortable chair. No one had ever bothered to read that far before.

"And down here, in the teensy tiny font," she continued, holding up the page so that I could see the offending paragraph, "am I correct to say that this clause requires me to pay for all of your expenses - including... or is that especially... online pornography subscriptions?"

Thursday January 12th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the opera.

Hanging with the boys went pretty well this morning. Then Kat took Max for a walk around the farm after lunch and unsurprisingly lost him to her parents. So that left me with Miles, who mostly napped.

This is me not complaining about the cold. At all.

Looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow night. Compared to the pre-Christmas madness, the last couple of weeks have felt rather empty in that regard.


"Hi Liam, thanks for picking me up!"

"Uh.. hi?"

"What? What's wrong?"

"What are you wearing?"

"This? Oh, just an old t-shirt and a dirty pair of jeans. You know, stuff that I won't mind getting a little wrecked at the concert tonight. Why are you dressed up all pretty?"

"I think there may have been a misunderstanding..."

"You told me you were taking me to see some music tonight - what's there to misunderstand?"

"I don't think they're going to let you in the door of the opera house dressed like that..."

"Why not? Don't they have a mosh pit at that club?"

Wednesday January 11th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the side project.

Had some time to work on writing things today, which was nice. I'm working my way through the free trial period for Scrivener and I'm liking what I've seen so far. I'd be very surprised if I don't end up purchasing it in the end.

I'll have the boys for most of tomorrow so that Kat can get some work of her own done, then I'm doing the closing shift Friday night at the Community Centre and a full day at the bakery on Saturday. So it was especially good to have some time for myself this morning and afternoon.


"And what are we working on today?"

"We? Oh, are you going to help me with this?"

"... no. I meant you. What are you working on today."

"Then why didn't you say so!?"

"I just did."

"Right, I suppose that's true."


"Sir, come on now. This is rather clearly not a well."

"Not a... what are you working on!?"

"Just a little side project, that's all."

"It would please me so very much if you could be a little more specific."

"Oh, sure! I just didn't want to bore you with all the details, was all."

"We are accountants. Details are what make us tick. So, please, do tell."

"Right, true again! So this is - or it will be when it's finished, anyway - a life-sized model of the Hindenburg disaster."

Tuesday January 10th, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: rage.

Not inspired by anything that happened today. Actually, I added it to my prompt idea list after the incident on the road on my previous trip to Penticton and just haven't felt like using it until today.

Kat took Max to his first swimming lesson this afternoon. Sounds like he started out pretty tentatively but was totally into it by the end. Hopefully that trend continues next week.

I stayed home with Miles and he slept the entire time they were gone. It was pretty great. If only I'd known he was going to do that, then I could have gotten into something a little more in depth, rather than expecting him to wake up at any moment.


Fire in my veins.
Screams fill my mighty lungs. But
rocks replace my brains...

*     *     *

This dying light is
no match for my rage - this is
not the end just yet.

Monday January 9th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the selection process.

Feeling inspired to return to The Gang today.

Trip to Penticton happened this morning, just not as planned. Mostly because Miles threw up overnight, then threw up again while I was brushing snow off the car this morning to get ready to go.

So Kat stayed home with Miles, Max spent the day with Kat's parents, and I did the trip on my own. Got most of the stuff done that we wanted, and Kat ended up taking Miles to the doctor to have him checked out (no concerns, thankfully - probably just a flu bug).

He's feeling better now, so hopefully we're in the clear on that one.


Have you ever walked the streets knowing that the police were searching for you? It's okay if you have, I'm not here to judge. I mean, come on - you've read what I've done (up to this point in my story). You're among friends here.

But if you haven't... I wouldn't recommend it. The level of paranoia you experience (Does she recognize me? Is he calling a friend or the cops?) is ulcer-inducing. You're trying to look everywhere at once while at the very same time trying to act normal. And you do a fine job of acting normal.

Assuming you're aiming for high hobo normal.

Now, add on top of all that the fact that you are searching for someone to carjack and you've pretty much got a recipe for disaster, if this world had any fairness in it at all. I knew I didn't deserve to get away with what I was about to do, just as I knew whoever I robbed wouldn't deserve to have their vehicle taken by criminals on the lam.

As I studied every opportunity - no way I'm stealing that mini-van from that mother of four; that dude looks like he's got a shotgun in his truck and knows how to use it; that stupid little thing wouldn't even fit the three of us, much less the money - my thoughts kept returning to what Tammy had told me at the clinic I'd left the girls at.

"You're worrying too much. People will do whatever you tell them to do if you're pointing a gun at their head." Tammy turned to smile at the doctor working on Crystal's shoulder, then tapped him on the back of his head with her gun. "Ain't that right doc?"

I had my weapon in my jacket pocket, holding it with a hand that was growing increasingly sweaty. I had begun to worry that at the moment of truth I would try to pull it out and it would slip from my grip, skittering across the pavement to the man or woman I was trying to rob. Wouldn't that be just perfect?

There were too many people (aka witnesses) on the sidewalk, so I took a side street and kept going until I couldn't hear the traffic on the street I'd just left. It was much quieter there, with houses lining one side of the street and a forested park on the other. I could feel the clock ticking in my head - surely the doctor would be finished his work soon - and didn't want to keep the girls waiting any longer than absolutely necessary.

That's when a man exited the house three doors down. He was young - I pegged him for mid-thirties - with short curly red hair and a neatly trimmed beard. I thought he looked like a college professor. He had a leather satchel in one hand and keys in the other, and he pressed a button on the fob as he descended his front steps.

The black SUV parked at the curb in front of him beeped and the doors unlocked.

And I thought to myself, This is it. Holy hell, this is it.

"Excuse me, sir?" I called out as I drew near, giving him my best Crystal smile. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Yeah, of course," he said with a friendly grin that made my heart ache just a little for what I was about to do to him.

"Would you mind terribly," I said as I pulled out my gun (without dropping it, thank God), "taking me for a ride to my doctor's office?"

Without planning on it, I guess I was going to add kidnapping to my criminal resume.

Sunday January 8th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the blizzard.

We got a serious dumping of snow this afternoon and evening. It's impressive how quickly it can pile up once it really gets going.

Planning on a family trip to Penticton tomorrow morning, but that could change depending on the road conditions. Pretty sure they'll have the major routes cleaned up by then - it'll just be a matter of getting from our house to the nearest major route.


I sit inside,
Comfortably close
To the fireplace,
And look out to
The unending sea
Of frigid white space.

And I think to
Myself, ever so slowly,
That I will not go
Outside. For all of
The money in the world?
Yes - who would offer though?

No one.

Saturday January 7th, 2017

The exercise:

Write a four line poem about: Donald Trump.

Have at 'er, folks.

Bakery was quite busy today. Only had 3 loaves of bread left at closing, and had sold out of baguettes, ciabatta, cinnamon buns, and plain croissants. Just had some chocolate croissants, macaroons, focaccia, and butter tarts to go in the freezer.

This dry cold is killing my hands. Currently four bandaids on the fingers of my right hand to deal with the cracks.

It's almost spring, right?

Okay, good.


Some say Let's all give him a chance,
Maybe he's not as bad as he seems!
I hope they stop thinking that way
Before he blows us to smithereens...

Friday January 6th, 2017

The exercise:

Write four lines of prose about: butterflies in the garden.

Sorry for the non-seasonal (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) prompt, but I need it today. I've had quite enough of the cold and snow at the moment.

I've got a full day at the bakery tomorrow, so I best get some sleep.


Caught in the light of the setting sun, their beauty is breath taking. Their colors sparkle and glow, in unending pattern variations.

I still can't believe my ex wanted to throw these glass lawn ornaments in the trash.

Then again, that was only one of the many things we disagreed on.

Thursday January 5th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: revenge.

Spent most of the day with the boys - Miles in the morning while Kat spent time with Max, and then Max in the afternoon while Miles napped. Had its challenging moments but overall it was pretty good.

It is frickin' cold outside though, which doesn't help anything. It would be much nicer to get out of the house with the both of them but even I can't last long out there, and I'm the adult. Max pretty much refuses to go outside when it hits -10 and I can't really blame him. Miles doesn't seem to mind it at all going from the house to the car, but I wouldn't want to have him out in those sorts of temperatures for too long.

Thankfully it's looking like tomorrow will be the last really cold day for a while. Which means we'll be getting more snow soon.

Because winter.


It's a matter of principle, that's all. There are some things that cannot be allowed to pass without an appropriate response. There are certain events in one's life that demand a quick, decisive reaction. It will be noticed if you fail to do anything about an injustice that has been done to you or yours. And so it will continue to happen, over and over.

Turning the other cheek is all fine and well in some instances.

Others demand revenge.

This, clearly, is one of the latter situations. Why else would we be here like this? Me, with this baseball bat in my hand, and you, with your hands tied behind you? I'm sure you understand.

The bolder, more offensive the transgression against you, the stronger the response must be. Unless you wish to be trod upon like a door mat for the rest of your miserable life.

I, for one, do not wish that for myself at all.

So, here we are.

This isn't personal. I'm sure you understand that.

It's a matter of principle, that's all.

Wednesday January 4th, 2017

The exercise:

Are you guys ready to get started with 2017's yearlong prompt? Yes? Good.

Because here we go.

This year we will be exploring The Dream Kingdom. Wondering what that's all about? Well I'd like to explain as much as I can in my opening, so please read on.

And since I'm pretty sure that's going to make for a long post, I'll get straight to it.


Dylan knew immediately that he had not fallen into a typical dream. First off, Lara Croft was nowhere to be seen. His best friend, Josh, had found his dad's dusty old copy of Tomb Raider and the two boys had been playing the game in Josh's basement every night for the last two weeks.

Well, perhaps playing is not the best term. They had mostly been moving the heroine into the most appealing positions possible. Except when Olivia was there; then they pretended to understand what she meant by female empowerment as she elbowed her way into position behind the keyboard.

But back to his current dream. No Lara for the first time since they'd installed the game on Josh's computer. Also, the smells were different. More fragrant, more vivid. Like he was standing in the middle of his mother's backyard flower garden on a cloudy midnight evening. For some reason.

Except it was the dead of winter. And he was definitely sleeping in his own bed.

"Hello?" he said into the darkness surrounding him. He was not expecting a response, not really. But he got one anyway.

"Welcome, Dylan." The voice was soft, almost tentative. Grandfatherly. "I am sorry that we must meet like this."

"Who are you?" Dylan said, turning in place as he sought to locate the speaker. "And what do you mean, like this?"

"My name is Nystor," the voice said. "And what I mean is... rather complicated."

"Sounds boring," Dylan said with an invisible shrug. "I'm out."

"I'm afraid you can't do that," Nystor said.

"Do what?"

"Wake up."

"Excuse me?" Dylan was annoyed that fear had entered his voice, so he tried again. "Excuse me?"

"You cannot wake up until I allow you to," Nystor said. There was a hint of apology in his tone.

"This is ridiculous," Dylan muttered. "What is this place? Is this like sleep detention or something?"

"You have entered the Dream Kingdom," Nystor said. "I am a loyal soldier to the ruler of this place, King Brekstan, who has been taken captive by our enemies to the south, The Islanders. I need your help getting him back."

"My help? I'm only 16 years old!"

"15, actually."

"How did you know that?"

"Why are you lying about your age?"

"How do you know I'm lying?!"

Dylan had the sense that his unseen companion was studying him. He crossed his arms across his chest and waited. The silence lasted for nearly a minute.

"Because if you were 16 you would not be allowed entrance to my kingdom. You would, quite simply, be too old. And extremely unfit for the task ahead of you."

"Why me?" Dylan asked. "What makes me so special?"

"You have a very powerful imagination, which makes you very powerful here." Nystor paused as though he were considering explaining further. "That is enough, for now. But even you cannot defeat our enemies alone."

"Our? Since when did your problem become my problem?"

"Since I locked away your ability to return to your waking world. If you wish to retrieve the key, then you must free my king. But we will need help. Who would you bring with you on this quest? Give me their names and I shall bring them here the moment they fall asleep."

Tuesday January 3rd, 2017

The exercise:

Write two haiku about: the coin toss.

Coming up with an idea for the yearlong prompt is a unique challenge. Especially when you've got two very different scenarios that you like equally. It has to be one or the other, so one of them will go unused, at best, for two years. At worst I'll totally forget about the idea by the time my turn comes around again.

So, basically, what I'm saying is that it is only a matter of time before we have a year with two yearlong prompts to play with each month.

No, that year will not be this year. I will figure out a way to choose between them eventually.


Cavorting through the
air, will it be heads or tails?
It lands on its edge...

*     *     *

He snatches the coin
out of the air and... heads! Wait.
Was heads win or lose?

Monday January 2nd, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the expedition.

For the first time in a long time, I went out to take pictures this afternoon. I brought Max with me - mostly to get him out of the house, but also because he wanted to use my phone to take pictures of his own. It was pretty cold but we still had fun:

I'm hoping to do that again, preferably on a warmer day.

Tomorrow is the first day back to school after Christmas vacation. So Natalie will be back in class, Becky will be back teaching, and Kat and the boys will be returning to StrongStart.

I plan on getting caught up (at least part of the way) on comments. And to maybe figure out the yearlong prompt.


The objective had seemed relatively simple when their master had summoned them to his chambers: find a safe passage through the Marshlands. Certainly they would have to brave a dangerous wilderness, but surely it wouldn't take long to find and map out a path through it, then return safely to their homes.

That had been four months ago.

Now the once orderly expedition was rapidly dissolving into anarchy. Rations had been plentiful at the outset, but one packhorse had been lost to quicksand and a second had been taken by a creature one night the previous month. They had discovered the remains the following day, which amounted to little more than hooves and a partially digested saddlebag.

Some members of the expedition, in order to decrease their dependency on their dwindling food supply, had begun eating the large, round fruit hanging heavy in the trees which surrounded them. Other than mild hallucinations, the side effects had thus far been minimal.

They were no longer attempting to find a path through the Marshlands. Any suggestion to do so in recent weeks had been met with glares, at best, and bared steel at worst. Survival was the main motivator now. In order to return to their families and friends. In order to seek vengeance in the house of their master.

But first, they would have to find a path back home.

Sunday January 1st, 2017

The exercise:

Write about something that has been: revitalized.

Welcome to 2017! Ideas are beginning to swirl for this year's yearlong prompt. Haven't settled on anything yet, but I hope to do so and introduce the idea by the end of the week.

We got a serious dumping of snow overnight. When we went up to Kat's parents for dinner this evening, her dad asked if we'd been out all day because he hadn't seen the car parked by our house.

I told him no, it's just buried in snow.

I suspect that I am not going to enjoy hauling firewood through the orchard tomorrow morning.


New years and new beginnings. They seem to go hand in hand, don't they?

Everyone I know gets all obsessed with their resolutions and commitments to lifestyle changes. Quit smoking. Quit drinking. Start exercising. Get a life.

I've never really understood it. Not until this year, anyway. I guess I've never had a reason to get caught up in all that hoopla. My life was good. My health was good. My career was on the right track. Keep doing what I'm doing didn't seem like a very worthwhile resolution, you know?

This year is different though. My life needs some changes. Drastic changes. That's why I'm cutting ties with the people who have, without me even realizing it, been weighing me down. I'm ready for a fresh start. To set out on my own. Make my own schedule, do as I choose for a while. My days and nights will be my own for the first time in... man, I don't even remember.

See what I mean? This is long overdue.

So goodbye house. See ya job. Later neighbours. Take it easy, hometown. Peace out wife and kids.

I'm running away from home.