Thursday, June 30, 2011

Story-A-Day #231: Face Painter


"So what is it that you do for a living?" her handsome blind date asked from across the table.

She watched as he sipped his 20-year-old scotch in anticipation of her response, and as she watched, she realized she didn't want to tell him because people always took her response the wrong way.

"I'm a face painter," she finally responded against her better judgment.

And there it was, that hint of a deriding smirk at the corner of his mouth. "It's not what you think," she quickly offered, but it was clear that his mind was made up, and therefore too late to correct her path.

She wouldn't bother pushing any further. It was far too late now.

She had been told that she would hit it off with this guy, without a doubt. That was obviously not going to happen now.

They spent the rest of the evening plodding through awkwardly trivial conversation before finally calling it a night.

When they were finally ready to part ways, he stood and extended a hand in a gesture of friendship, or perhaps remorse. It was clear that he liked her, but not her position in life.

She almost froze as she reached towards that hand, not because it was a representation of the finality of their date, but because of the small hint of green andp teeth poking out from under the cuff of his sleeve.

She recognized the face immediately because it was one of her own; a replica of a mural that she had painted her self.

She also recognized that the time for transparency was long passed.

They would part ways now and she would continue her quest. He, on the other hand, would never know how close he had come to his muse.

As far as she was concerned, that was his loss already.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Story-A-Day #230: Patio


I took a big gulp from the spicy Caesar and thanked the waitress. She smiled politely and disappeared back into the pub with a swirl of her skirt.

The sun shine down brightly, basking me in the warm glow of a perfect summer day and I couldn't think of a place I would rather be.

I light a Romeo Y Julieta cigarillo and exhale a deep blew cloud of smoke. It singed a track along my throat and into my lungs, then back out into the world. It has been a while since I smoked, an I realize how much I have missed the routine.

A wasp hovers momentarily by the salted rim of my glass then disappears off into the distance.

I hear a thwap and realize that my wallet has slid from my pants and hit the interlocking bricks of the patio.

I reach under the glass topped table to reclaim it and discover the strange thing down there: a beautiful, bright purple blossom sprouting up through the cracks. It's not your standard dandelion, more suited to a well manicured garden.

I admire it for a few moments then return to the world above. I've always been a firm believer in noticing the smaller details, and today has reaffirmed that belief.

There are wonder hidden in the weirdest of places.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Story-A-Day #229: Powdered Guru


It's funny, but I don't really recall the moment it came to pass. My transition to a healthier lifestyle was fairly gradual.

I cut back on the drinking first, then I quit smoking, then I cut out red meat. Eventually I cut out all meat and meat byproducts entirely, including dairy.

I started working out - jogging at first, then swimming, then triathlons. It was probably three years after it all started when I reached the top of my game. I was always first.

It was around that same time that I realized how far I had come; how much I had changed.

The physical change was immediately obvious. I was a sheath of taut muscle over a bony sword capable of cutting down all challengers.

I had changed mentally too though. I was focussed, and precise in every action and thought. I had almost developed a sense of spirituality.

The weird thing is, even with all these refinements and adjustments, it took me until this very moment to realize that I have traded everything and received almost nothing in return.

Even my food is all in powdered form now. I didn't set out to become this person, but here I am - a powdered guru of nothing.

I enjoy my new capabilities, but I miss the satisfaction of the old me. He was still a decent guy, and his lesser life remains something to be desired.

The life of a powdered guru is one where quiet success replaces bravado excess.

It is not for everyone, but for now, it works for me.

The blender calls out and I feel helpless to ignore it. I am a sailor washed up on the rocks by the sirens, hopeless against the call of a perfect life.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 27, 2011

Story-A-Day #228: First Breath


Do you remember it? I'll bet you don't. I certainly don't, and I can't even fathom what it would have been like.

We spend nine months growing and gestating within the womb. We live off the life that our mothers provide, shrouded within that protective encasement.

Was it dark in there? On a bright sunny day did the light bask us in a warm pink glow the way sunlight filters through eyelids once we are capable of perceiving it?

When we kicked and she could feel us, just as we could feel the taut enclosure of our temporary storage space, was that the only connection? Did we know when our mother felt sad, or happy, or frustrated by the extra load we were forcing her to carry? Did we feel the same way, and if we did, were those emotions our own alone, or a shared experience - an augmentation of a singular experience?

When we finally did arrive, after being pushed forcefully through the birth canal, how did we know to inhale that first life giving breath? We existed in a protein enriched liquid environment and suddenly we were alone and naked in a world of air and light.

Life kicks in eventually and when it does, our first moments aren't about thoughts or analysis - we don't need to analyze or process the situation - we simply react. On instinct alone.

Although I don't remember that first breath, I do remember the moment things started making sense. It was the same moment that I realized the two large faces looming over me both radiated a shared expression, one filled with love, anticipation, pride, and hope.

It is the unqualified gaze of a parent that first gives us life as we cone to know it, that moment where for the first time ever, we feel safe, secure, and perfect.

We might not remember our first breath, but we will always remember the first moment our parents came into focus.

They are our creators, or protectors, and our reason for existing. That is a moment that can never be lost to the sands of time.

Welcome Holden, and congrats again to his wonderful parents Mike and Kayla.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Story-A-Day #227: Lily Pods


They just started cropping up, a totally new breed of flower. They were pretty enough for sure, soft white petals branching out from those bulbous green sacs, so no one thought anything of them.

Most lawns had only been overtaken by dandelions, so when these lily pods started cropping up, it was almost a relief. At first, people went out of their way to mow around them. They were pretty accoutrements.

It wasn't long after that when people started getting sick. It wasn't just your sneezy allergy kind of sickness either, it was something very different.

As soon as the smell turned sweet, not at all unlike rotting meat, the symptoms kicked in. You could almost reduce it to one singular symptom: blood.

It was in the ears and the years; the nasal mucus, the feces, the urine. The blood was flowing everywhere.

It hit so quick, and so hard, that it took a while before people finally latched on to the real cause. Those bulbs started puffing out their pollenated clouds, and the people started to bleed.

It was such a simple conclusion for our species. Most assumed we would be our own end, but our inherent nature for procrastination meant that nature was able to strike back first.

Karma struck back and nature is now winning. It was a classic sneak attack, and it worked a charm.

Well done nature, this round is tours without a doubt.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Story-A-Day #226: The Oasis


It's so hot, I can barely stand it. My clothes are glued to me, especially my T-shirt - the thing is clinging like a second skin.

I've been walking for about an hour now, not an excess by any means bit the heat is taking its toll. I can almost feel my muscle atrophying, cooking in the deep, penetrating heat.

It's not entirely unpleasant, but I am going to need shelter soon, or a break from the heat. The road shimmers and web the houses that line its banks have a ghostly aura about them.

When I first see the oasis, I'm not sure that it's real. The cool shadows and rippling green rubber oblong seem too good to be true - and yet there they are.

I quickly cross the street for a closer look. The sparkling diamond surface draws me closer. I stumble, briefly, then plow my way through the thick gelatinous humidity.

My arms pinwheel and as I approach the final yard, my feet leave the ground. I drift through the air in slow motion and my brain, weakened by my slow cooker skull, almost believes time will come to a complete halt leaving me inches from my goal.

It doesn't though and I hit the surface of the pool with a great satisfying displacement of water.

When I finally resurface with an elephantine spurt of water, I notice a young girl with an inflatable ring around her pudgy belly, and an unamused man who could only be her father, staring down at me in confusion.

I smile sheepishly and slowly sink back beneath the surface of the lukewarm waters.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 24, 2011

Story-A-Day #225: Refuge


My life used to be simpler, unburdened by materials needs. My mother left me before my first year was through. She had provided for me while she could, fresh worms and grubs from her mouth to mine, and the spread of her wing above when the rains fell.

Then one day, with a song and a wink, she took to the skies never to return.

I did not mind those early days, living out under the elements as I did. The sun's rays were warm on my plumage, the rain's drops soothing and cool. Those were good days, just and pure.

There came a time eventually when my nest grew too small. The craftsmanship that my mother had put into it, the sturdy weave of twigs and mud, was slowly coming undone.

When the weather turned cooler, I set out to find refuge, a warmer place in the sun.

What I found instead was this place in this tree, a shelter from the elements.

I nest here now, safe from harm and concealed from predators. I never imagined it possible, but I have found a home, a place to call my own. In the coming months I will fin a mate and she will join me here, under my roof and protected from all.

We will be happy here in this refuge, and when we are so inclined, we will enter into and be braced by the sun and the rains.

This is my life now, and it is a good one. I wish that my mother could be here as well. She was good to me, and I would like to thank her for all that she did for me.

Perhaps one day. For now, I will take to the skies. It is a glorious day, one that she be enjoyed with relish.

I spread my wings and leap towards the heavens. I will return shortly to this refuge, bit for now, I will soar high above.

This is the way to spend a day, buffeted by the gentle summer breeze.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Story-A-Day #224: Grey Sprouts


The soft lemon-lime tips are new this season, a few inches of growth since last year. It would be easy to overlook if you were so inclined, but in the natural world, it is easy to see the progress. Each year there is a few extra inches.

It's different with people, at least it usually is. There are some people who you might notice the progress.

Think of someone with a die job, there roots eventually show through, sometimes mingled with a salting of grey.

It's close to the patterns in these small evergreens, the deep green marking the true collies, the lighter green the fresher coating, and a hint of rusty orange rather than grey.

If only it were so simple for people to embrace that change, to Proust display our progress and change over the years.

Most of us are not so inclined though. We mask our age, bury the lives we have lived beneath cosmetics and surgeries.

I for one am proud of my grey, a subtle hint of distinction at the temples and along the jaw line. Those shades of colour tell a story, just like the different shades of the evergreen.

We should embrace those subtle changes for they tell a story, one of lineage and experience.

They are built in postcards of the places we have been, indicators of the choices we have made and the experiences that have shaped us.

They are our heritage.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Story-A-Day #223: Rotisserie


It was a bit of a slow start, but the chickens are cooking nicely now. The crisp smell of roasting bird mingles with a hint of the oranges and coriander stuffed inside.

The birds spin slowly on the spit, juices dripping into the tray below. A soft sizzling can be heard. It's enough to get our mouths watering.

The potatoes are ready, steaming in the envelopes of aluminum foil, a hint of onion rises out from the packets.

In another twenty minutes, the birds will be ready. Once they have been removed, we will grill the zucchini and peppers and them settle in for the feast.

I used to prefer simple meals, something that could be thrown together quickly. That was a while ago now though, and I have learned over the years that a real meal, one that takes a few hours to pit together is always worth the wait.

The table is set, the wine uncorked, and in a few more minutes, the wait will be over. The mingling smells of the food are already enough to show that this wait will be well worth it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Story-A-Day #222: Having A Ball


He is a simple creature. At first glance you could almost be forgiven for thinking there wasn't much going on behind those bulbous, glassy eyes.

He lumbers around on his short stocky legs, eighty pounds of solidly wound muscle. He flops onto the ground, he huffs and puffs, then he sleeps.

He seeks companionship, a little extra love from mum and dad. Despite all the power and strength, he really just wants the same creature comforts we all do.

For now he is comfortable lying here under this table. A nice softball has materialized out of nowhere and so far they haven't noticed. He's been working it for almost five minutes so far and it is already coming to pieces. He smiles and a low grumble of contentment rises up from his depths.

He gnaws some more, peeling back the outer shell of the ball and working his way in towards the core.

His ears perk up suddenly, that sound, a rustle and shower of delight. He scrambles up to his feet and barrels towards the glass patio doors where he pauses to examine himself momentarily before letting loose a series of low, rumbling barks.

It's feeding time, and he has worked up an appetite shredding that ball. He'll finish that later, but now, it's eatin' time.

The door slides open and he pushes past the legs and scrambles to a stop before his waiting bowl of food.

He can already feel the drool building up and leaking out of the corners of his mouth. He didn't realize that having a ball could make him so hungry. He buries his face in the food, snapping and lapping it up.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 20, 2011

Story-A-Day #221: Slices Of Sunset


The bugs aren't too bad. Usually this early in the season they would swarm in great buzzing black clouds around anything with a pulse. For whatever reason though, they aren't too bad tonight. One or two slaps around the neck and knees and one persistent droning in the ear, but altogether not bad.

I stand by the lake, listening to the water as it gently laps up against the pollen yellowed shoreline. The water makes a hollow thudding sound against the aluminum hull of the rowboat. In the distance, the mournful cry of a loon rises up to greet the coming night, a haunted song of loss that is somehow beautiful in its melancholy.

The sky is painted in slices of orange, pink, and magenta; even to the north at the far end of the lake.

I am used to being in the city where the constant him of traffic overlaps everything else. Out here is different though. It is so quiet and peaceful that you can almost hear the silence settling into the trees.

I see the first star of the night slowly winking awake and make a quick wish. I know it will never come true, I will eventually need to leave this place once more, but for now at least I will pretend that I have found my Elysium on the shores of this lake and that the slices of sunset above will forever light the gloaming skies.

The loon calls out again, lamenting the inevitable, and I reply with a smile, warm and sincere, happy to be sharing this moment.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Story-A-Day #220: Souvenirs


His friends still had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that he ha selected Las Vegas as a vacation destination. It seemed an odd choice for a man who played it safe.

He was not a drinker, and definitely not a gambler, but there was something about the mecca of sin that had always fascinated him. He supposed it was the synthetic nature of it all, the lore of gangsters and gold diggers.

He had not been disappointed by the trip, not in the least. It was weird, but he had found solace in the chaos. He had loved wandering the blinking, winking casino floors. He had relished an pitied the blank eyed zombies wandering about.

He had gone to see a couple shows, glitzy extravaganzas that would have been incredibly out of place back home. He had even made a day trip out to Hoover Dam and was amazed to discover that it was far grander than he had imagined.

The one thing that really stuck out about Vegas was that it was a lot more sterile and family- oriented than he had imagined it would be.

He would definitely go back, maybe not right away, but eventually. He kept his two souvenirs on the fridge as a reminder, a bottle opener representing the Vegas of lore, and a tea strainer representing the Vegas he had experienced. It seemed like a fitting tribute to the trip.

It was also much more appropriate than a photo of a silicone stripper. He would definitely return to the city of sin, and next time, he might even drop a few dollars on roulette.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Story-A-Day #219: Faster Pussycat


There were days where she felt older than her 39 years. That much went without say.

Sometimes it was the creaking in her knees that gave it away, other days it was the stiffness in her neck. Mostly, it was the fact that she was alone, rapidly approaching spinster status.

The decision to get a cat was not one she took lightly, especially given het single status. She had fought the urge for months in fact, but her need for companionship finally won out.

It was a de idol she did not regret. Her cat soon became her best friend, a dependent who needed her as much as she needed it.

They would lounge on the couch together on the weekend, curled up together with a good movie. She learned to love the warmth of her cat, and the familiar vibration of it's deep purr.

Sometimes they would play games together - fetch the mouse, or chase the string.

She quickly learned that her cat was a quirky one with a personality all it's own. It had a funny way of darting around the house, them flopping to the floor and sticking out it's tongue.

It seed to be sticking it it at her, almost as if it was teasing her for being so much slower.

She loved her cat with all her heart and realized with only a hint of self-mockery, that she had become one if those people whose life revolved around their cat.

She also realized that until someone else came along, she was just fine with that. Even if someone did come along, her cat would still come first.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 17, 2011

Story-A-Day #218: The Boob Tube


It was a hot night. Seriously. Hotter than any night you could think of. It must have been close to forty degrees Celcius, the kind of day that makes it hard to breathe.

She had spent the day inside, sown in her basement apartment, but eventually the heat and the cabin fever started to get to her.

It was seriously too much.

The sun had gone down hours ago and the evening had settled in with a sticky persistence. She could feel cool tendrils of a hinted breeze just crawling through the window.

She had been waiting too long already and had decided that if she was going to watch the movie she had rented, and with the prices they charged these days she had every intention of doing so, then maybe drastic measures would be required.

A string of incomplete phone calls meant she had nowhere else to go, but the newest entry to the Sex And The City saga could wait no longer.

She wiped a clammy rag across her forehead and slowly set to work. Within a half hour, she had herself set up nicely on the side of the road out front of her apartment building.

She settled into her office chair and watched with baited breath as the credits rolled and the familiar theme song played. This was going to be an odd, but perfect night.

Sarah Jessica Parker, aka Carrie Bradshaw, had just started her opening monologue when the world went dark. Everything except the street lights.

It dawned on her them that maybe this night was not meant to be. Maybe she should figure out some other, more productive way, to spend her time.

She left the television and chair where they were. Maybe the power would come back on soon and an innocent passer-by could watch the movie.

As far as she was concerned, the night was over and if she didn't hit the sac soon, she would be ip all night. That was the curse of hot summer nights.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Story-A-Day #217: Comfortably Dumb


She was a one-of-a-kind, with the small exception that she became the model for all who followed in her wake. If nothing else, that made her unique.

He loved her with every microscopic component of his being. She defined the meaning of the word for him. Up until he had met her, live was a fanciful nothing best conveyed by a greeting card. Yes, she was that girl.

When she left him, she left him in a pit if despair. For the first time in his life, things had started making sense. He felt like he actually got it.

Then it went away, all that knowledge and realization, packed up in her tiny suitcase. With a tug of a handle and a casually friendly flicker of the fingers over her shoulder, she had carted it all away.

He spent years mourning the unfairness of it all, the abrupt cruelty of her departure.

He moved on eventually, but the ghost of her lingered on.

He did his best to "get over it" but it didn't take long to realize she would never be fully gone.

In fact, as the years went by, he realized that she was more there than ever. She was in the flowers and the trees and the gently clouded skies.

He had moved on, and she had left, but they were inextricably linked somehow, across the great divide that separated them.

She was the great ghost that would haunt each day to come.

She was the one that got away, the one who would always be there no matter what he did to move on.

She was the perfect ideal and as he stared up through the shimmering leaves of the tree, he missed her more than ever.

Perhaps one day they would be together again. Perhaps one day...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Story-A-Day #216: Yin and Yang


Life is all about balance. We need to understand both sides in order to process the right from the wrong.

The concept of Yin and Yang illustrates that within all white or good, there is some black or bad, and that within all black or bad, there is some white or good.

It is such a simplistic and fundamental perspective that it would lead one to wonder how it could not be common sense.

In order to be a good person you require a knowledge of what makes a person bad. In order to comprehend darkness, you must know what it is like to be bathed in light.

Balance is the key. We must be able to balance work and play. We must balance responsibility and carefree living.

We must develop a full comprehension of what makes us weak and underdeveloped in order to become strong and grow.

You can see it everywhere, the simple balance between what is right and what is wrong, the difference between good and bad, light and dark, honest and deceitful.

Take a moment to look around and you will see that balance everywhere, that fusion of opposite elements. Look for the light in the shadows and the gloom in the gleam of all that is bright.

That is the Path to understanding.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Story-A-Day #215: Butterfly


It just sat there, helpless. The gentle breeze buffeting its wings and sending it aflutter in the shaggy, waving grass.

I watched as the beautiful insect slowly crawled back and forth, its immaculately painted wings rendered useless. What would it be like to be so stuck, having the tools to send you towards the heavens, yet unable to use them?

It was a sad sight, a tragedy almost. If I was graced with wings I would soar as high as the winds would take me, reaching ever higher.

I would surpass the heights of Icarus himself.

I would bounce through the clouds and dance with the angels I'd given the chance.

I would constantly strive for greater heights, spiraling ever upward until the world and all it's problems was but a specking the distance, a softly glowing orb that blended in with those that surrounds it.

And yet this tiny, fragile creature is unable to do what it was gifted to do upon birth. It flounders in the shag carpet of this lawn unable to flee.

Perhaps it years for the warm embrace of it's transformative cocoon and the soft tickle of the grass on it's wings is what keeps it here on terra firma.

I can think of no other reason why it would not flap those wings and take to the clear blue skies.

I certainly would.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 13, 2011

Story-A-Day #214: The Monolith


It was true what the others had said. It did exist.

In the limbs of last week it had seemed so unlikely, an impossible bounty ready to deliver. It had ruffled the feathers of the elders for sure, sent them into sputtering diatribes against the laziness of youth.

"You were given two wings and a beak for a reason," they berated.

"Why shun the gifts we were given for the promise of an easy meal. The work of pulling a worm from its whole is half the satisfaction of the meal!" they proclaimed.

Still, he had known it was out there and he had sought it out. It had taken a while, bit there it was before him. The Monolith. The promised bounty.

He stared up at it, almost in awe. A great shiny filled with seeds. With food.

He hopped forward hesitantly, edging in closer, then finally leapt upward with a flap of his tired wings.

He touched down on the small perch and pecked at the seeds. They were delicious, an exotic blend that filled him gizzard with an explosion of flavor.

He had known the promises land was out there, bit not even his wildest dreams had prepared him for this.

He was so focussed on the delicious meal that he didn't notice the sleek shape prowling below, ears flattened to it's skull, fir bristling.

By the time it leapt at him, it was too late. His senses had been dulled by too much food. He could already feel the teeth closing around his fat belly before he realized the price he would pay for this dalliance.

The elders had been right. There was no such thing as a free meal.

The Monolith slowly receded upwards as he tumbled to the ground in the jaws of the cat. The world and all its mysteries, all its promise, slowly faded away.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Story-A-Day #213: 'Shrooms


She checked them am counter checked them in her field guide to edible plants. The closest match described the mushrooms as "edible with earthy undertones and a robust full flavor" and thus they wound up on the pizza - just as easy as that.

A little chorizo sausage, some asiago cheese, and a homemade pesto sauce for the base and they were ready to go.

She pulled the bubbling pizza from the oven and inhaled the aromas steaming upward, the garlic and basil, the spicy smoked sausage, the sharp cheese, and yes - a hint of earthiness.

They ate out in the backyard, not far from where the mushrooms had sprouted up around their harden hose.

It was delicious. The robust bottle of Carmanere a perfect compliment to the dish.

By nine o'clock that night, they were huddled in a corner of the basement, all the lights shut off. In the fat corner, a single candle flickered, it's orange flame a whirling ballerina that spit upwards into the dark.

They could hear the creatures prowling outside, shuffling through the gloaming, sniffing for their prey.

Things had started going bad shortly after dinner. First it had been uncontrollable laughter, more than a glass of wine for each of the four diners would merit. Next was the swirling sunset, an eerie unnatural display. Finally, the creatures arrived, great shadowy beasts born of shadows.

They were hidden now though, safe from all bit the angry flaming ballerina whirling a dervish I'm the far corner.

They were scared. Things had taken a turn for the unexplainable and there was simply no explanation. Chemical sunsets, fierce predators in the night, and now dripping wax-like extremities. She watched her fingers slowly melt, stretching to two, three times their normal length.

The terror finally overcame her and she passed out, retreating deep into her own mind and a vivid realm of sleep.

When she awoke, the day ha begin anew. Her friends had fallen asleep around her, but the world felt safe once more. She realized then, that it had been the mushrooms, a toxic addition to an otherwise delicious meal.

She stood on shaky legs and went to the bathroom where she washed down a few Tylenol with a tall glass of water.

She would never eat mushrooms again, not even from the store.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Story-A-Day #212: Left Of Centre


It had been a good night and a great party, one filled with fine food, easy conversation, an abundance of drinks, and endless laughter.

It had been good to catch up with everyone; friends from high school and college, co-workers and random encounters that had been close friends over the years.

It was early morning now and he was headed home, one foot in front of the other. He had drank more than usually and his staccato, jerky steps had him smiling.

He almost didn't notice the spray painted letters on the road as he stumbled up on to the curve, but when he did, the laughter returned.

He was a fairly funny guy and had kept his friends entertained with his left of centre ramblings. His jokes were never standard or expected and it felt like this sign had been placed where it was expressly for him.

Laughter in the middle and jokes to either side. With a chuckle, he continued onward, slowly climbing the steep road towards his house. His sandal caught on the sidewalk an he lurched forward, never at risk of tumbling.

His laughter echoed down the deserted streets. LOL indeed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 10, 2011

Story-A-Day #211: Sprinkler


The air hummed with the heat of summer. In the surrounding trees, fat red-breasted robins called out each other in their familiar and welcome song.

In the middle of the yard, the sprinkler slowly rotated back and forth, cascading a light pitter patter through the tree limbs above, and a slightly heavier one off the surface of the hand carved wooden chairs.

We had been sitting quietly on those chairs not too long ago, watching the swarms of flies illuminated by the sun and sipping from our perspiring glasses of iced tea.

We had planned to spend the afternoon reading but wound up settling into a familiar routine of yard work instead. We planted flowers and spread grass seed on the vacant plot where our stagnant green pool had been the year before. It had been a few hours worth of quiet, comforting work.

Now we stood by the back step, watching the diamond-like streams of water sprinkle gently to the ground. Soon there would be grass on that dark patch of earth.

There would always be another day for reading in the sun. We were in no rush.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Story-A-Day #210: Sprites


There was something different in the backyard every day, sometimes a minor change, sometimes something bigger. It was easy enough to blame the little things on neighborhood cats, or maybe raccoons; a toppled garbage can one day, an unearthed plant another.

The bigger things were harder to attribute. When the barbecue wound up at the far end of the yard or the patio furniture was neatly stacked in the morning, it was a little Harder to explain.

Kids would have just knocked them over, not stacked them neatly or moved them around.

It wasn't until a week or so ago, that I finally figured it out, and even then it was mostly by accident.

I had woken up early, after a fitfully night's sleep and wandered into the kitchen. At first I thought I was imagining it, the blue, red, and green lights flickering around the backyard.

It wasn't until I looked closer that I could see the tiny winged figures. They hovered around the garden and the flowers bloomed to life, more beautiful than they had any right to be.

That explained my horticultural success this year.

I watched the figures hover and flit around, then shoot off into the wary morning light. Fairies, pixies, Sprites.

Whatever they were, they were welcome, is sometimes mischievous guests. I get up early most days now, and sometimes I leave them treats. It seems like a fee coins here, or some sugary treats there, is a fair trade off for a bit of magic in my life.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Story-A-Day #209: A Brother


A brother is someone you grow up laughing at. Sometimes to tease him, but mostly because he reminds you of a smaller version of your self.

He is someone you watch grow, from a tiny little pink thing, to a high school athlete; from a shaggy, aimless traveller to a peer that you respect.

A brother is someone you learn to appreciate with time. You teach him your games, show him your hideouts, and appreciate his company. You laugh and learn together. A brother is someone to wrestle with, and even though you are bigger, you rarely cut him a break. You want him to grow up strong, to be confident and proud and self-assured, and it is this early abuse you use as your tool.

A brother is someone you grow towards. You learn to share those things that were always yours alone. You play video games together, you build forts, you pass on your favourite books and let him watch the movies you were never allowed to watch.

You do these things for your brother because you want him to succeed where you failed. You almost want him to become another version of you, perhaps so that you might figure out who exactly you are.

One day you wake up and realize that your brother isn’t another you. You realize that somehow, he has become sometime entirely different. Something even better.

A brother can scare you with his death defying acts. He can injure himself and be hospitalized, and even though you know he is all right, the terror of that moment is almost too much to acknowledge because you realize his indiscretions might have been brought on by your own guidance.

A brother is someone who is always there for you, a quiet presence and a close friend. You might travel the world, but he is always there with you in a way, and when you return home and he sets out on his own global adventures, you realize just how much you miss him.

A brother is someone you can assess because you have witnessed his whole existence, vicariously at times, but the changes over time are always noticeable.

A brother might start out as a nuisance, but he soon becomes someone you admire.

My brother is no longer the gapped toothed little kid who doesn’t look anything like me. He is now a man, a success, and one of my closest friends. People now mistake us for each other as well, a fact that always amuses me.

He represents a lot of the same things I do – an appreciation for good times, a late-developed ethic for hard work, a lust for fine food and drink, an urge to see new places and experience new cultures, and a reverence for family. There are aspects of me in there, leftovers from his formative years - his appreciation for movies, and books, and time spent with friends, but those are just small parts of the man I know today.

They say you can choose your friends, but not your family, but I for one would have chosen him either way. He is great company during the wild times, and the quieter ones. My brother has an effortless cool that I sometimes envy, and that is something he developed all on his own.

My brother is someone that I don’t mind looking up to, especially since he is that little bit taller. He always had my love, but he has earned my respect over the years and it is something I willingly extend.

Happy Birthday Ryan…

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Story-A-Day #208: Snake In The Grass


Some creature’s have all the luck when it comes to your comparisons. A bird’s eye view is an enviable perspective. A fish eyed lens provides a cool effect. The industrious are described as being busy as a beaver. Even doing it like rabbits evokes pleasant nostalgia.

So what does a snake in the grass get you? An unpleasant surprise, perhaps, or an unwanted visitor at best. Why is that though? What have we done to earn so much derision, to be greeted with so much fear and revulsion?

Is it our urge to catch a few rays while basking on a warm rock? We are cold blooded from a biological perspective, and yet you have co-opted that unique trait of ours to represent something sinister in your own kind. You are warm blooded by nature, and yet you too seek the warm embrace of the summer sun. You lounge on your beaches and chairs, and revile us for seeking the same comforts.

Have you ever tried seeing things from our perspective? Do you know how difficult it can be for us to achieve the simplest things – a warm meal, a comfortable home, a bit of peace and quiet?

Think of a worm’s eye view. You know that as a low perspective close to the ground. Now imagine you lived at that level and had giant monsters stomping about trying to kill you any time they laid eyes on you.

Imagine you were forced to slither around at ground level scavenging for food instead of plucking it from the shelves of your fancy stores. It is no easy task being a snake.

We are forced to stick to the grass as a means of protection, and yet these swirling seas of green are a hindrance to us as well.

Sure they keep us safe from your prying eyes and murderous tendencies, but they also make the simple job of finding food, or even our way from Point A to Point B, much more difficult than needs be.

It is disorienting down here in the green. Most of my brethren are simple creatures, and yet we are forced into a life of flight, without the feathery graces of your precious birds.

Do you not see that an eagle is a greater threat than a lowly grass snake? Do you not comprehend the difficulty you add to our existence by your hatred alone?

All we want is a little respect and some peace. Your thunderous footfalls are a greater threat to us than we could ever be to you. One step can kill us, and yet our bite to you is no more than a pinch – and that is the best defence we have.

I would like to call a truce. I would like peace between our kinds. And yet I know, as soon as I turn away, the cudgel will fall crushing me to a pulp.

And you say we are the monsters…

Monday, June 6, 2011

Story-A-Day #207: Paint Brushes


You can almost picture the root of the name. Whether you know them as Devil’s Paintbrushes, or Indian, the shape is evocative and the function clear.

Sitting next to a quiet stream with a canvas of unscrolled birch bark and a small container of mashed berries, you could easily pluck one of those flowers and begin your work.

Soft strokes across the smooth birch bark backing, fingers pinched in close to the flowered tip, you would begin in soft, light strokes. Maybe a raspberry puree mixed with a hint of earth, some crushed Forget-Me-Nots for the cool blue sky.

A broiled broth of sycamore creates a deep red, and when mingled through the lighter raspberry, a perfect sunset.

White spaces left empty for the trunk of the trees, of perhaps a carefully shaved collage using the whiter exterior bark. Smears of pasted grass for the leaves and ground, where just a smudge of dirt is added.

The piece is looking good, solidly evocative as an impression of the tableau before you.

There is something a little off though, something not quite right with the sky. The blossom of the brush will reduce nicely and add the right amount of red to the scene. It is just so now, minus one small addition. The pot next to you contains a trace amount of carefully separated fool’s gold, just the right amount to add the sense of whimsy your mind’s eye sees. A pinch, carefully dusted through the sky and your work of art is done, a magic sunset in the deepest heart of nature.

She has provided you the tools, and the result is your thanks to her – a loving tribute to all she has to offer.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Story-A-Day #206: Outhouse


It might not be on par with modern amenities, but it's better than a squat in the woods by far.

At least here, there is a seat and proper toilet paper. I wouldn't trade that for a handful of leaves - not ever.

The outhouse is old, long out of use really. Still, it's nice to have a quiet place to retreat sometimes.

I look up the old dirt stairs, overgrown and somewhat washed out after years of neglect. The glow of the spotlight from the distant cottage barely cuts through the darkness.

I climb the stairs and pull open the battered screen door, the squeak of the hinges creaking off through the night.

The smell is not as potent as it used to be, but there is still a hint of what lies down that deep, dark hole.

I lower myself onto the seat and stare out into the darkness. In the distance, I can hear the clanking of dishes in the sink, laughter from the people I have come here with.

None of them ever make the trip to this forgotten outpost, bit I find the nostalgia refreshing. It's a nice retreat, a quick get away from the crowd.

I'll finish up soon, go wash my hands, and help with the dishes. For now though, I'm going to enjoy this quiet moment in the dark.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Story-A-Day #205: Rhubarb


It might not look like much, but the stalks provide a tangy sweetness unlike any other. It is a perfect addition to a strawberry pie, or a nice zesty chutney.

Trim the stalks, ditch the leaves, and you can harvest it all again. It is a nice, subtle addition to many dishes.

Better still, it grows wild and is easily harvested and cultivated.

Her mother was a big fan, and by default, so too was she. Still, there are risks.

Especially if you are harvesting it wild.

She remembers when she was young. Her mother had picked several stalks and mixed it in with some sugary strawberries. The stew was added to a fresh pastry shell, and soon enough the smell of baking filled their home.

And then it turned sour.

Like many plants and creatures in the wild, rhubarb had a look-alike.

The burrs that caught on her socks as a child grew on a plant not unlike the common rhubarb. That was what her mother had inadvertently harvested on that day.

Aside from the pesky seed balls, a major distinguisher between the two was the bitter taste of one and the sweet tang of the other.

That was a lesson she learned long ago, and one she would gladly pass along.

When it comes to rhubarb, only the real deal will do. Still, the other is good for a laugh whenever it comes up, and a laugh can go a long way.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 3, 2011

Story-A-Day #204: Snow Birds


The sheer weight of the machines, and roar they make as they rip through the sky, is a sharp contrast to the graceful symmetry their performance delivers.

Eight machines and eight pilots maneuvering as one.

With the blink of an eye they blow apart, eight planes in eight directions. Sufferer streams of colored smoke trail off to the different points of the compass.

Within moments, they regroup. The crowd below gasps. Eight precision machines melding back into one perfect form.

The science is clear, but so is the artistry. It is almost unfathomable, the moves and formations, even though it is happening right above.

As one, the spin in a loop, rolling to the right and holding their perfect formation, maintaining their impossible proximity.

They branch off and etch shapes in the sky, finally finishing off with a jet pierced heart.

And with that, they are gone - a testament to their spectators that lingers behind. The roar of their engines slowly fades out and the skied remain empty once more.

There is a reason why they are the best. Even when the show is over, the lines, and rolls, and loops, and spins remain.

The Snow Birds haunt the skies, as much as dreams. They are the lofty goal towards which we all strive.

We aim for precision, we aim for thrills, we aim for excellence - and we do it because we know what the results can be.

They can be perfect.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Story-A-Day #203: Of The Valley


I grew up in a valley, a serene mist blanketed place that was home to our village. The valley was flanked by steep embankments of evergreens, always shrouded in a cool, misty grey, always threatening rain.

It wasn’t a depressing place, and not as gloomy as you might already be imagining. In fact, it was an extremely verdant place, full of life and prosperity. With the moisture, our village always had incredible crops. The kind that would always win the Biggest, juiciest, most perfect prizes at the regional fall fairs.

It was a quiet and simple place.

Most of the houses were built out of wood harvested from the neighbouring hills. They were fairly simple dwellings, but each one was painted in vibrant colours. Our village was like a children’s dream come to life.

There were blue walls with yellow accents, fiery red roofs with yellow green chimneys, unimaginable combinations of colours and life. The shops were more resplendent still, some with swirling facades of colour that defied description. Even the old mill was a blast of freshness.

I suppose it was our way of dealing with the weather that seemed to hand over our home, but most of us didn’t know any different.

In the spring, the lilies would bloom, filling the entire valley with their fragrant perfume. It was magical, and I miss it so. That perfume is all that remains now.

Nearly ten years ago today, a fire ravaged the entire valley, sparked by a lightning strike during an early summer thunderstorm. Most of us were able to escape, but not without a price.

Our homes and belongings were destroyed. I have received letters from some of my old neighbours. They are all over the place now, Europe, the United States, even the Caribbean – I can’t imagine the adjustment that would be, tading our mist for all that sunshine.

I have heard that some people have started making their way back, looking to rebuild what was lost. They are braver and stronger than me.

I might return to our valley one day, but now is too soon.

For me, the lilies in my backyard are as close as I can stand to be. Their sweet perfume a reminder of the life I lived, and the home I lost. It is bittersweet, but it is life. Our days in the valley taught us how to persevere, and that is what we are all doing, each of us in our own way.

We have new houses and friends, but we are of the valley and it will always be a part of us.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Story-A-Day #202: Dead Head


It’s hard to tell where it came from, this great yawning crocodile of a dead head. There used to be three of them down here at the lake, each about eight feet long. None of them are here now though, only this 40-foot monster.

They tend to shift over the winter, pulled from the muddy beds by the grasping ice. They move, but only a bit.

There has never been a year where three have vanished and one has taken their place, especially one as large as this. It is hard to fathom the force of the ice that would have landed this here.

I don’t remember seeing any dead heads nearby with foliage sprouting from them either. Usually they are smooth, dark brown logs that just sort of sit there, an inch or two beneath the water.

This beast has travelled far to reach here, and now it stretches across our beach, almost as if warning us of some danger that awaits beyond.

Of course, that a ridiculous thought. This is a warm and shallow lake filled with small breeds of fish. There are no piranhas, no sharks, no whirlpools or riptides. There is no danger out there, except perhaps the strong breezes that can carry a solo canoeist away. Even then, the shore is never far, and the walk back never too long.

So where did this come from?

It is too old and wizened to be newly fallen, its bark already stripped and its inner wood smoothed by the passage of time.

The submerged tips are too large and embedded for it to be a new arrival, the humps rising from the water too full of life to have recently settled. And yet, it was not here in the fall.

Three others were, one to the south, and two to the north. None of them stretched across the beach like this.

A sudden blast of bubbles rise up around the tree and it shifts. Or at least that what appeared to happen. I wait, and another blast of bubbles rises up. It is settling.

Then, with a flick, it moves off into the lake, the foliage-covered bits flickering to and fro like a tail. When it reaches the deeper waters, it submerges with a splash.

It was no log. I scan the lake for the next hour, looking for signs of where it might have gone, but the log has vanished.

Something tells me I won’t be doing much swimming this year. At this point, I’d be hard pressed to get into a boat.

There is something in those waters, something I can’t quite understand. I can picture it, settled into the muck of the murkier deeps, waiting patiently for me to pass by, angry that I disturbed its sleep.