Sunday, July 31, 2011

Story-A-Day #262: Sunflowers


Is there something to these flowers, something that extends beyond the sunny disposition of their name?

Is it the joy that comes from sucking, cracking, and spitting their lightly flavored seeds that makes them so pleasing.

Maybe it's the fact that they look like the celestial rock for which they were named, bright flares of yellow fanning out from the core.

Maybe it is because they look like we often feel, stooped under the pressure of maintaining a constantly sunny disposition.

Whatever the case, sunflowers have an innate ability to create a lasting sense of happiness and peace.

Every garden, and every yard, should be graced with the peaceful happiness that a sunflower brings. They are monsters of happiness, harbingers of summer.

They are happiness to bestow, and a delightful treat for the taste buds.

Sunflowers should be planted on every corner of every town so that even on the gloomy days, we can all enjoy a bit of brightness.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Story-A-Day #261: Black Mass


It had been a normal day for the most part, clouds rolled gently across the sky and cicadas whirred in surround sound effect.

They had been calling for storms for most of the week, but so far, we had only had a few short lived smatterings of rain. When it started getting dark just after dinner time, I knew all that was about to change.

I peered out the window and watched a a low lying mass of wispy black clouds cross crossed the denser ones above, froze for a moment, and then was slowly sucked upwards. An up draft like that was never a good sign.

When the dark mass formed right outside, I knew it would be a big one. A halo of light surrounded it. Were I to stand on my head, I could almost mistake those cloud for a roiling, angry ocean.

When the rain finally started, it fell in crystalline golf ball drops that glowed brightly, refracting the distant sun's light.

The hail came next, small pellets of ice the cracked and ricochetted off the windows and sill.

And then it appeared to be done, almost as suddenly as it had started. It was curious, and the people gathered around me in the office chattered excitedly.

The roiling mass remained, almost stationary. It was like an alien invasion scene in a movie, and I could almost picture the great ship hidden above.

Off to the left I noticed an extra swirling and moments later, the funnel descended.

All around me, people dove under the desks. I stood transfixed in the window, always a fan of a good storm. This one would be impressive for sure.

As the scene slowly filled with flying debris, a nervous, excited smile spread across my face.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Story-A-Day #260: Raspberries


When we were young, we used to spend our summers at the cottage. They were lazy days, yet filled with adventure.

Aside from the barbecues, swimming, and fort building, one if the biggest routines was berry picking with my mother.

She would pile us into the dodge caravan and drive us out into the wilds. Depending on the weather that summer, and the month itself, the berries would vary.

Blueberries were the worst, those small little antioxidizers that clung voraciously to their shrubs. They mostly grew in swamps, and the process inevitably resulted in soaking, peat scented feet.

Blackberries weren't much better. They lay low to the ground on the dusty fringes of the dirt roads. Many days were spent hunched over gathering those particular berries.

Raspberries were by far the best, despite their prickly stems. By placing a bucket beneath there green awning of the raspberry bushes, you could practically shake a load of plump red berries free.

The results were always worth the effort in retrospect. Succulent jams and barbecued bumbleberry pies; a mix of blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and sometimes strawberry filled our bellies.

To this day, the raspberries are still my favorite.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Story-A-Day #259: Containment


She fidgeted nervously as we stepped from the car and headed towards the place she had told me about.

The road was busy, a constant stream of cars flowing past on their way to the places people go. One passing car honked, and although I knew it was for me, I ignored it to focus my attention on the fragile girl beside me.

I placed a gentle hand on her quivering back and she winced but allowed me to ease her along.

She was terrified, evidently, and that unfiltered fear certainly lent credence to her story.

She paused next to a chain link fence and pointed towards a metal storage container in the distance. That was the place, confirmed by the witness.

I called in back up as we walked back to the car.

"I'm going to need to check this out," I explained as delicately as I could. "Would you like me to take you home, or will you wait here in the car?"

"Here," she replied in the shattered hushed tone that was now so familiar to me. Familiar and painful.

I left her in the car, locked the doors, then made my way back to the enclosure and hopped gracefully over the fence. I was carefully as I crossed the grassy garbage filled lot. I didn't want to disturb anything that might be useful as evidence.

As I approached the metal storage container, I made note of a few key items, crushed cigarette butts in a uniform mound; a pair of discarded women's underwear; and a few crimson patches on a bright green leaf that I didn't need forensics to tell me were blood.

I circled the container once then returned to the door, which rested ajar, but only just. I placed one hand on my service revolver and reached out with the other to pull the doors open.

I had been there when she told the story, but it wasn't enough to prepare me for the gruesome seem the slowly revealed itself to the light of day.

I could hear her screaming, and for a moment I was not sure whether it was in the present, or an echo from the past.

I sprinted back towards the car, my revolver banging against my hip with every stride. I had promised to keep her safe and it had been a promise that was as personally motivated as it was professional.

Nobody deserved to experience the brutality of what I had just witnessed. The victim's scream was rising in volume, and I prayed I wasn't too late...

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Story-A-Day #158; Dream Scrubber


What is it you do for a living? Are you a writer, teacher, doctor, or astronaut? Maybe you are an archaeologist or marine biologist. Whatever you are, congratulations, and if you happen to be any of those enviable and noble professionals listed above - and many others as well, double congrats.

Me? I'm not so lucky. My job might be pretty rare, exotic even, but it is unenviable. In layman's terms, I am a sanitary engineer. The "exotic" aspect of my particular vocation is that I am a sanitary engineer of the cerebral.

I'm a dream scrubber.

I won't bore you with the how, but I will share a bit of the why.

Take astronauts. If every kid that ever grew up dreaming of going to space followed through on that whim, there would be no people left on earth. That's a grand example mind you - it's the umbrella explanation we use.

Allow me to boil it down though. If every person in a relationship that ever dreamed of being with someone else, real or fictitious, remembered that dream, guilt would be our prevalent emotion.

If every person that woke from a nightmare realized that nightmares do come true, no matter how surreal, and that their dream was actually part of their reality, we would all live in terror.

It is my job to go on and scrub the mind clean of these dreams. In essence, despite my lowly title, I act as the ultimate upper management.

Some dreams I let through as reminders of our potential for both greatness, and the despicable. Most I wipe clean.

It's a job that is not without its perks. Everything I wipe, I also get to keep. I am a repository for horrors and inspiration that is almost immeasurable.

Still, for every good deed I do, every I'll thought I wipe clean, there is an equal amount of hope and promise that I crush.

When it comes my time to sleep, that is a big burden to carry into slumber, and unlike you, there is no one to scrub me clean by the morning. My dreams overflow with stolen promises, inspirations, horrors, and deceits, and when I awake, I set out once more to collect.

As my pile of dreams grows, so to does the burden it buries me under. The burden of the Dream Scrubber.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Story-A-Day #257: Clearing The Cobwebs


I walked up the driveway, my backpack perched crookedly across my spine emitting a boozy, salt-water gust with each tentative step.

Two weeks at an all inclusive was too much; doubly so in the tropics where the hot sun and warm lapping ocean only add to the dehydrating curse of an open bar.

Still, it had been a great trip and I had returned home with some kitchy souvenirs and enough memories to last me for at least a year. Not to mention a mound of tropic scented laundry. It had been a wonderful trip for sure, but I was anxious to clear the cobwebs and settle back into my routine.

I staggered up the front stairs, the burden of my baggage tugging me gently backward with each step.

I unlocked the door and stepped inside, brushing away at a cobweb as it slid silk-like across my gave and spitting at it's tickling caress on my lips.

As my eyes slowly accustomed to the gloomy interior of my house, I realized that it wasn't a single strand. The whole entrance was fillled with webs, delicate silky strands, billowing nets, and dense funnels and cones seemed to cover every surface.

It appeared that the post-trip cobwebs in my head were not the only ones I would have to clear.

I lowered my bag to the floor and reached for the broom in the corner by the door. My siesta would have to wait.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Story-A-Day #256: Lychees


They might not look like much, these miniature dragon eggs in their mottled shades if red, green, and ashen brown. Had I remained unaware of the secrets contained within, I probably never would have thought to peel back that tough, horned leather husk.

But the tough exterior carapace only hides the exquisite inner fruit, a juicy white all-seeing eye that is not unlike a peeled albino grape.

The first tender bite meets with some yield, but once the fruit hives way, a sweet peppery delight flows forth. It is a taste, a delight, unlike any other.

The lychee goes well with many foods, a a puréed compliment to exotic Indian spices with a hint of mango, it breathes life into chicken. As a paste mixed with jalapeños and Montreal steak spice, it tenderizes meet.

There is a delight to such a luscious fruit. It perfect sweetness encased in a tough exterior.

Try one if you haven't, or add a dash o lychee liquor to your next summer cocktail.

You won't be remiss.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Story-A-Day #255: In Bloom


I don't know where it came from, but it's beautiful. Yes, I have a garden, and there are some lovely specimens in it, but I would remember planting seething so magnificent.

The sturdy stalk rising to the picture perfect bloom. The deep purple core and extended white tips; it is one of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. I tend to it every day, nurturing it. It is a wonder to be sure, and I think I might have an idea about who planted it here.

I look up at the apartment on the second floor and decide that tonight might be a good night for dinner company.

- - -

She is one of the most beautiful specimens I have ever seen, a perfect specimen; elegant, exotic and more beautiful than the finest of blooms.

I watch her as she tends to her garden; trimming back the weeds, nurturing the blossoms, harvesting the vegetables.

I left her that surprise knowing it would delight her. I did it as a gesture of kindness, but I don't expect anything in return.

Every now and then she invites me in for dinner. Those are some of my favorite times.

She is a gracious host, kind, warm, and witty, and I am happy to share those moments with her. Happy, but afraid to tell her just how happy.

We work well as neighbours and friends, and as much as I would love to spend every moment of every day with her, I worry that she might not feel the same.

It's confusing, but these little gestures and secret blooms are enough for now.

There is a knock at my door and I rise to greet my guest.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Story-A-Day #254: Movie Night


Every now and then we need a movie night, a quiet little snooze on the couch with a handful of new releases and older classics.

He's funny in his lack of distinction, always willing to try out something different. Especially with movies. He'll often come home with handfuls of the most ridiculous titles, movies that couldn't possibly have any merit based on their titles alone.

They aren't always bad movies, but with the number of titles that he buys, there are definitely ample duds.

That shelf is only about a third of what he owns, and a third of those at least are cheesy b-movies. It used to baffle me why he liked those corn fests so much, but I have to admit, I can see the appeal now.

Tonight we'll probably do two of his and one of mine. I'll make sure my selection is complimentary to his, but just different enough.

This week, I'll also choose the chips - those 1st, 2nd, 3rd Degree Doritos were unbearable.

The only thing left to figure out is what tonight's theme will be. Monsters, sci-fi, western, comedy?

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Story-A-Day #253: A Girlfriend


A girlfriend is someone you love unequivocally and endlessly.

She might last a month, or maybe for years, but even when she leaves she is with you.

A girlfriend is someone you laugh with, you cry with, you grow with, and fight with. You do all these things because you care.

A girlfriend helps you become a better person. She points out your flaws, calls out your mistakes.

A girlfriend helps you when you need it, supports you through the rougher times.

She lives you and makes you laugh. She surprises you each an every day.

My girlfriend is all of these things and more. She is beautiful, passionate, creative and goofy.

She is not afraid to challenge me, to force me to grow. She is not afraid to laugh at me, and always quick to laugh with me.

She is stunning and surprising and youthful yet wise.

My girlfriend is my housemate, my soulmate, and the love of my life. She is my friend, with benefits - but more than just the ones you are thinking of.

My girlfriend is awesome.

Happy Birthday Jaymee! xox

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Story-A-Day #252: Parked


I am a horrible person. Sincerely vile and despicable. It's true.

I am a chronic liar, a deceitful sac of despicableness. I am a cheat and a philanderer. I am an ugly drunk whose fists are either full of drink and cigarettes, or pummeling the faces of complete strangers.

I do these things because I can. I am empowered.

I am a pugilist gifted with a hatred for the world.

I have no friends because I have a deep seeded comprehension for the fallibility of humankind.

If they weren't so fast, I would kick puppies in their smug little faces. I would punch a baby.

I do drugs. I do copious amounts of the hardest substances I can find, not because they make me happy, bit because they make me mean.

I laugh at the less fortunate. I point out those with disabilities and deride their pathetic lives.

I park where I shouldn't because I can. Handicap, expectant mothers, reserved: these terms mean nothing to me.

I am an army of one. I am all that is wrong with this world, yet I am a product of it.

You are right to fear me, to scorn me even, because I am a reflection of what we have become. I am the conclusion of our evolution.

I am each of you in some small way, a fact that you all know deep down.

I am you and you are me. The real question is what are we?

Is thus where we are heading or were we already there? Have we always been there?

I am all these things, but what I am not is a cynic. I know our potential, I see it every day. I would embrace that potential, but somebody needs to be the reminder.

You don't need to thank me. You just need to make sure you don't become me.

I am an army of one, and that is my only peace.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Story-A-Day #251: Slalom


Being a skateboarder is not always easy. The winter is obviously off, but snowboarding fills the void nicely. In the spring, the roads are spread thick with a lethal layer of leftover road sand.

In the summer, things are grand. The weather is nice, the girls are tanned and dressed in their skimpiest finery. Summer is heaven, without a doubt.

The best part of summer is the endless construction projects, but to a skater, those disruptions are nirvana.

Las week I was grinding along old pipes downtown. It was a great week for aerials and skinned knees, exhilarating even.

This week, I have made my way to the north end where eight downhill miles of fresh, smooth asphalt have just been laid and traffic cones mark the dotted lines.

It'll be over in a moment, but I can already feel the wind in my hair, the flies in my grill, and the pumping push of adrenalized blood ripping through my veins.

This is a day for those who mean it; for those who live it.

See you at the bottom.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Story-A-Day #250: Back Splash


There was something transfusing about the scene. It wasn't just the odd mustard yellow glow of the kitchen lighting, or the ticking and creaking of appliances.

It was something bigger, something more zen making.

The aromas of mingling spices in the air created a sense of the exotic. The heat radiating from the oven into the already stifling room lent an air of mystique, almost a steamy Turkish bath quality.

I stood transfixed by the flow of water into the can and the soft feathery plumes that radiated outward once it had filled.

That can, in that moment, developed a greater purpose. It was no longer just a can, but a vessel.

It was the human soul overfilled with emotion to the point that the boundless extras spilled over. It was planet earth spilling forth the exploding populations it could no longer house. It was space, the entire universe recoiling elastically from the potential endlessness of infinity.

That can was not just a vessel, it was everything right, and all that is wrong.

A tear slid slowly down my cheek. Maybe it was because I too was overwhelmed, or maybe it was because I had rubbed some paprika there while cleaning up.

Either way, it was greeted with a knowing smile. I reached out and turned off the tap, slowly but deliberately.

The moment, a with all great moments, had come to pass.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Story-A-Day #249: Sun Bathed


His feet were sore after a long day at work. He could them them burning up in his black dress shoes, his socks clinging moistly up his calves.

A car sped by as he slowly defended the hill and at the same moment, the sky opened up and a golden cascade of light follows the evening.

It was almost magic.

He kept walking, a bit if a bounce in his step now, and a tune spilling lightly from his mouth.

He would be there soon enough, and when he arrived, he would not delay.

He was in love, no doubt about it, and when he saw her, he would pull her into a never ending embrace.

He reached the house, knocked once on the front door, then entered. A splay greeted him and with renewed focus, he marches through the house shedding his bag, shoes and clothes as he did. By the time he reached the back door, he was already kicking off his boxer shorts.

She was just pulling herself out If the far side if the pool and he flung himself in behind her, not once taking his eyes from the slender vision of perfection he had longed for all week.

He pulled himself out of the pool and kissed her, long, hungry, and complete. He could feel something stirring within him, an animalian surge of lust.

She pulled back, and gave him a quick head to toe glance before nodding to the side.

"My parents stopped by to welcome me home," she said, a wide grin spreading across her face. "Can I get you a towel? And maybe a pair of shorts?"

He smiled back sheepishly, unable to look towards what he could only imagine were the sucked faces of her parents. "That would be nice," he finally managed.

"Indeed," her mother's voice echoed before bursting into a fit of wild laughter.

Unsure if what else he could do, he jumped back into the pool. When his red face finally resurfaced, he found that he too was laughing.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Story-A-Day #248: Shadow Leaves


It is one of those hot summer days when the air itself seems to be cooking, each breath coats your lungs in short puffs if hot oppression.

You can almost feel your skin crackling, a sharp contrast to the sheen of perspiration that glues on your clothes like a sticky second skin.

No birds sing. The cicadas seek refuge, too hot to be bothered with their whirring orchestral drone.

Even the light breeze, which could have offered a welcome respite, is infrequent and uninspired.

It is a good day to hide in the shadows of your home, basking in the air conditioned cool, but something draws you out into that smelter if an afternoon.

People pass like zombies, shuffling along as they struggle to conserve energy. Dogs pant in the shady nooks next to porches, pinks tongues lolling, unwilling or simply unable to bark at passing strangers.

Even in the dappled shade of an extended tree branch, you can feel the sticky heat closing in.

The streets shimmer, a wet sheen coating the distant expanses and retreating with each new step you take.

There is no escape from a day such a this, but you have places to be and a mission to complete.

You push onward knowing that at the end of your journey, a cold drink awaits. That small reward has to be enough. At least for the moment.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Story-A-Day #247: Lost Lunches


My childhood trips to visit my grandma and grandpa were usually a time of excitement. Not so much the long trip in the car, but an endless game of I-Spy usually kept us kids placated.

The real excitement kicked in once we left the highway and entered the old charms of Port Hope. Even more so once we pulled up to their house, a stately red brick palace nestled in a sprawling yard of flower beds and cedar hedges.

We would spend our days exploring the town, going to the book stores and antique shops. In the spring, we would go down to the Ganaraska River and watch the salmon fight their way up the rapids and waterfalls, leaping high into the air.

It was always an adventure, especially when my Dad's brothers and sister were there with their kids, the cousins I rarely saw.

One of my sharpest memories of those visits is also one of the simplest: the lunches my grandma would prepare.

There would be trays of sandwiches, perfectly sliced triangles stuffed with even portions of tuna, ham, salmon, and cheese; small bowls filled with Sweet mixes pickles, dills, and onions.

There were juices and milk, and cold bottles beers for the adults to drink.

I relished those lunches for their quiet simplicity and the togetherness they inspired. They were good times, simple and efficient.

I miss those lunches. I am sure it is mostly an extension of missing my grandparents, but I those lunches also represented a simpler, more innocent time.

One day I hope to return to that house and poke around its secret corners once more. It would be nice to find a bit of the magic still in place, a small reminder of those times hidden along the creaky wooden corridors of that house.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Story-A-Day #246: Desert Island IPod


I got home from work and threw my earphones haphazardly onto the table and that's how it all started.

"Which ones would you pick?" she asked.

"Which what?"

"Which discs. If you were going to be stranded?"

I looked at the earbuds on the little tray of beach sand and shells and regretted my lazy choice of headphone storage.

"None," I replied. "I'd bring my iPhone."

"Okay, so if you had to delete a bunch of music before the trip to make room for loads of photos, which ten would you leave in?"

"I'd leave songs, not albums." I could see the petulance rising into the edges of her face and knew I would have to give her something. "Give me a minute to think about it," I finally conceded.

And I did, long and hard, before finally presenting my list. She nodded eagerly along with each selection and rationale. It didn't matter what I chose, it was the fact that I was compartmentalizing and listing. She loved it.

1. Kid A because it always brings me to a specific place and time, handy on those down days, and I would need some Radiohead.

2. The Man Who because Writing To Reach You would be good on bottle message days, and Why Does It Always Rain On Me is a no-brainer for hurricane season.

3. Angel Dust because it reminds me of the importance of personal choice; we were still jamming to Faith No More when the rest of the world had gone grunge.

4. Young Team because it would be great to trip out to in the blazing sun, but mostly for Mogwai Fear Satan which is perfect mood music no matter what your mood is. It's a life soundtrack for sure.

5. The Postal Service's unique one-off because it is filled with promise and potential and is already linked to countless good times.

6. Pigeon John and The Summertime Pool Party for those days I might feel like dancing and laughing.

7. The score for Last of the Mohicans so I could listen to Elk Hunt when I ran through the jungle, and to feel all the emotions my adolescent heart attached to that film and that music.

8. Faithless' Greatest Hits for those blissed out days of trance and mania.

9. The Bends, because I would never be happy with just Kid A.

10. And finally, and perhaps most fittingly, the soundtrack for The Beach, one of the single greatest collections ever assembled for a film, and if I'm going to be stranded on an island in paradise, how could I not have this with me?

That's my list. For today at least. There is always room for shuffling, especially with an impossible task like selecting just 10 of your thousands of favorite albums.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Story-A-Day #245: Stalemate


This is a stalemate.

My journey has been embargoed. I am at an impasse, the proverbial crossroads, except there is no choice to be made but one: sully forth at great peril, or retreat the way I came.

This is the end of the line.

I gaze down at my shiny black shoes and the flowing fabric of my cream colored pants. I am a picture of clean professionalism.

The pavement gleams with the sheen if freshly fallen rain, then it ends abruptly in a jagged line where the road has been severed.

Ahead, a cavernous pit surrounded by roaring heavy equipment, monstrous machines that grumble hungrily as they eat away at the road and the earth beneath. Beyond this chaos lies my destination, no more than a mirage, an unattainable Shangri-la.

Woe is me. Check and mate.

I gaze back at me shoes and the shiny black patent leather seems to smile back at me, urging me to make the right decision. These shoes demand austere respect.

This is a stalemate.

If I continue forward through the muddy wasteland of construction, there will be no turning back. If I retreat, I will be late for my very important date.

My future will be defined by the decision I make. Quite possibly the futures of the children I have yet to have and the futures of their children and every generation after that might carry my name.

This choice will define all that follow it.

A stalemate indeed. Or perhaps I am being overly dramatic. I was told that I can be that way, although I find the idea hard to believe. I am too cautious for drama, too reserved for theatrics.

A quick glance at my watch reveals that it is decision time. It's now or never. Carpe Diem.

I can feel the pieces moving in, the tremble knight, the agitated rook, the menacing queen.

Curse my indecision, it will mark the end of me.

Sully forward or retreat? Oh that it were so simple a choice...

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Story-A-Day #244: Tiger Lily


She insists it is her name, but I find it hard to fathom. Aside from the exotic ridicule of the monicker, it's too perfect. How could her parents have been so prescient all those years ago?

Perhaps they looked at their swaddled newborn and were already able to see the woman she would become. Perhaps they were big fans if Peter Pan, or even horticulturally minded with a penchant for orange variants.

Either way, it is a perfect name, and it is the only one I have ever known her by.

Her yard is filled with the orange blossoms with which she shares her name. The sweet aromas a perfect complement to her own earthy scent. She is definitely a person on nature. Her skin is a deep sienna brown, flawless and smooth. Her eyes are the colour of crystalized ivy, and speckled with a hint of deep blue summer skies. Her long black hair flows weightlessly around her shoulders like a midnight waterfall.

She is the definition of natural beauty, a perfect concoction of balance, harmony, and symmetry.

There is a regality to her composure as well, her perfect posture and introspective ways. When she speaks, in her pensive deliberate tones, she commands attention.

I realize that my fascination with her borders on love. Not desire, or lust, i have never thought of her sexually, but a purest version of the age-old undefinable.

I have known her for years, but it feels like an instance. She radiates peace, tranquility and a sense of simplicity, almost a though her presence alone can reduce life's complexities to their base elements.

She is all that is right and just.

Tiger Lily. A perfect name made all the more powerful because it is hers.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Story-A-Day #243: Playlist


Imagine a world without music. It would be dreadfully monotonous. Without music and song, it would be harder to define the moments of our lives.

Without song, you would never have experienced that first awkward, sweaty-palmed dance with your first true love.

You would never have inextricable links to key moments in time: parties, graduations, picnics, family trips.

"I'm Too Sexy" would not be about a middle aged woman clapping in a hot tub while an awkward teen entertained his family in a hotel window seven stories above.

"Dust In The Wind" would not be about her and him, it would be a paean to death.

Without songs, we would find it much more difficult to define our emotions, our nature, and our formative moments.

Wish You Were Here, Creep, With Or Without You, Homeboy, Epic, What Do I Have To Do, Writing To Reach You, Out To Get You, Weighty Ghost - where would we be without this music? Where would we be without these moments in time?

How would we define exhilaration without the thrill of live music? How we would define cool without the output o the jazz greats?

Today is Monday and my playlist is "M"s. Tomorrow I will tackle the "T"s an I will play it loud and clear for all to hear. Music is emotion, and we all need it in our

Enjoy. Take a moment to dance by yourself, or with those around you. Sing along, under your breath or at the top of your lungs. Music is a gift to be shared, so spread the word.

What will you play today?

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Story-A-Day #242: From Out Of The Mire


People go missing all the time.

It's an unfortunate reality in most places, but it's just part of life. Sometimes they wander off for a bit, sometimes they disappear without a trace, and other times, the good times, they are found safe and sound.

This city has those same situations, but it also has a secret. There is a presence in this city, a horrible thing of stench, decay, and rot, that haunts these streets.

I know, because I have seen it, its cold red eyes glowing in the dark recesses of night, its slippery silhouette sliding through the shadows. That is not an allegory for something more comprehensible, it is the truth of this creature. It was born of darkness and slime and corruption. It is not a man, nor anything man could comprehend.

It takes people in the night. Pulls them into the storm drains, hoists them up into fire escapes and across forgotten roof tops. It pulls them into garbage cans and oil vats and digests them from their lives; erases them from their family, friends, jobs, responsibilities, and burdens.

It hides during the daylight hours but once night falls, it climbs from out of the mire and stalks the night.

There are ways to protect yourself. Do not tread upon sewer grates or storm drains. Remain vigilant. If a street light winks out as you walk below, run. If you smell garbage, or feces, or rot, where there should be none, run.

If you hear a squishing belch in the night, run and don't look back.

This creature can be anywhere, tucked into any of those darkest corners of night. Stay in the light. Better still, stay inside once the night has fallen. Your home is not a haven, but it is familiar territory to you. Should your sink start gurgling for no reason, do not check it. There will be nothing to see there except the darkness that will define your life from that day forth.

The creature is out there, I promise you, but I am working on a plan to get rid of it. I will track it, and when I find it in the right location, I will burn it to the ground.

I owe it to you, for you are one of the missing. I'm sorry I was too late, but I plan to avenge you my love.

Nobody believes my story. They think it is but the crazy ramblings of remorse, so it is down to me and me alone to end this.

I will wipe that greasy mound from this city once and for all, cleanse our city of it's stench in a baptism of fire.

I will do this for you, and all the other missing people. Not for the glory or rewards, but because if I don't end this, nobody will.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Story-A-Day #241: Shads


They descended from the heavens like a biblical plague. At least that is how it appears to most people. The truth is, they rise up from the depths of the lakes, more Gojira than locust.

They live for a day, 24 brief hours that see them carried forth on the winds so they might settle onto houses, streets, and cars; onto whatever surfaces they can cling to, before they eventually die.

They have no mouths, so they do not eat. They are not like an infestation of tent caterpillars that can strip a forest clean. The Shads have very little to offer the world, besides a source of food for the fish in the lake and the birds in the trees.

Still, these tiny winged creatures can strike fear into the heart of a town.

At night, the swarm to the lights, making everything a dark fishy green. By morning, the world is covered in the ineffectual stink of their dead and dying carcasses.

Mounds of them amass by doors and on windows, they cover the streets making them greasy and slick, and devoid of traction.

Bikes slide out from under riders and cars glide brakelessly into those fortunate enough to have found traction to stop.

These creatures are not a threat, but their dangers are evident and impossible to ignore. They are silent killers that overwhelm by sheer volume rather than brute strength.

The plague starts with one or two. You might notice them on a sidewalk late one night. That is the only notice you will get that they have returned, those early scouts sent out to see that the city remains a safe haven from the fishy terrors of the lake.

It begins that way, year after year, after year.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Story-A-Day #240: A Way Out


She had been in the dark for a while now and had lost track of just how many hours and minutes had passed. The only light had been the dull red glow of the brake lights as the car jostled up to each stop.

When she first awoke, she tried screaming, but the gag in her mouth rendered the efforts futile.

She could still taste traces of the chemical on the cloth, the one that had been rammed across her nose and mouth as she walked home from work; the one her assailant had used to knock her out.

The car had stopped a while ago and she had heard a door open and close, then the sound of footsteps fading away.

She had thrashed and kicked and screamed for what seemed like ages, but there was no escape.

She was ready to give up, to resign herself to her fate, when she heard the soft click and the trunk rose an inch.

She was no longer scared as she pushed the lid open and clambered out of the close confines, clawing at the gag.

Whatever sick game was being played was clearly not over. Her captor would not simply let her go.

She surveyed her surroundings quickly and efficiently, then did the only thing that made sense. She started running, as fast as her legs would carry her.

She sprinted up the winding ramps, following the black on white signs and not looking back.

As she ascended from the depths of the garage, from the depths of this nightmare, she noticed something funny about the signs. They said out, not exit.

Either way, as long as they got her to where she needed to be - which was as far away from that car' it's smelly trunk, and it's insidious driver, she was fine with it.

She sprinted faster than she ever had before, knowing that as long as she kept going and didn't look back, she might find a way out.

She didn't care where her out was, and she would not slow down until she found it.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Story-A-Day #239: Crabapple Fight


1986: Thibeault Terrace, North Bay, Ontario.

The kids of the neighborhood had gathered together for an epic annual battle.

It was a hot day in July and we had been preparing for months in order to capitalize on this day.

Craig Landry, Stephen Mimee, Paul Chayer, Aimee Brunette, Michael Messenger, Sean Pearson - the role call went on as we convened under the quiet maple canopy of the front yard of 397 Leonard Street.

A quick scan of the gathered crowd showed an equal blend of excited smiles, and nervous apprehension.

In today's society we would be considered Tweens, but in those days, we were practically adults, warriors ready to take to the battlefield.

The weapons were standard issue: as many fresh, firm crabapples as would fit into your pockets.

The communal harvest of weaponry was the rare time where smiles, jokes, and playful challenges of the days event were shared. After the harvest came bloodlust.

Every year, the cranberry fight stood as the highlight of the long summer months, and as with all games of skill, to the victor went the spoils.

Some year's the chief prize was bragging rights to victory amongst your peers for the duration of the year. Other years, the prizes were far more substantial.

This particular year's pot was immense. I clung hesitantly to my Evil Horde Slime Pit players, a favorite amongst my fellow He-Man collectors, before finally throwing it onto the heap of spoils.

A wave if regret washed over me and I nearly scooped him back up and ran off into the sunset, but a few other trinkets in that shiny plastic mound had caught my eleven-year-old eye.

The Boba Fett figure with firing missile was long prized, as was the collection of Dukes of Hazzard diecast metal cars and the handful of G.I. Joe rarities. Oh to get my hands on either of those treasures.

With a resolved sigh, I joined the throng and prepared for the initiation of the battle. The prize was far too great to pass upon this year.

I was in it to the end and with any luck, the prize would be mine.

Such wad the thrill if the cranberry fight.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Story-A-Day #238: Rainbow


There's nothing creepy about it. I like her, a whole lot, and I might even love her, so that doesn't make it creepy.

Sure, I've never actually talked to her, but I've never had the right thing to say. I will one day, but for now - I'm happy just watching. I mean look at her, she's perfect.

She is petite, but strong. She is slender, but oddly voluptuous. Her smile lights up the night and her laugh makes the birds envious of the sweet sound.

I've lived across the street fro her for almost three years now and in that time, while I've never actually encountered it personally, I know she is a small miracle to those she encounters.

I always said that one day I would finally approach her so we could live happily ever after. It looks like today could be the big day.

There is a rainbow creeping down through the post-storm skies, which are rapidly turning blue.

That rainbow, from where I stand, is coming down right on her apartment.

She is clearly the pot of gold I have always longed for. I will approach her soon and we will live happily ever after.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Story-A-Day #237: Access Point


I've been researching the global disturbances for well over a year now; the birds falling en masse from the skies, the fish washing ashore by the hundreds. A few months ago, I started receiving emails about a mine site up near the arctic circle from an anonymous source.

He claims that these events were related, and more importantly, that the mine site had made a distinctly non-mineral discovery: one that would change the world.

I've been trying to figure out what that might mean, so far to no avail. I've tried to follow up with my source, but his accounts go dead moments after he contacts me.

I was almost ready to give up whence sent me the name of a small town in Alaska and a street address with the cryptic note that "sometimes the best place to hide something is right in plain sight."

I am in that small town now and my group of associates is awaiting their instructions. Barrow is a tiny rustic place, and fortunately free of snow at this time of year.

I stand in the street in front of the shuttered saloon and triple check the address. This forlorn dump is definitely the place I was directed to, but there is no sign of an answer.

The three hours of daily darkness are slowly settling in and I am close to despair - and that's when I see it.

It is so simple, so obvious, and so out of place in a part of the world where underground sewage is impossible.

It's almost too much to hope, but I think the answers to my questions might just be down this out of place shaft in the earth. We'll need to regroup, and gather supplies, but we'll go down into those depths and hopefully find the answers to what is affecting our earth so drastically.

The mysteries will be solved, but first I need a plan.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Story-A-Day #236: Bear Necessities


It looks a little weathered now, but the message stands true: beware of bears.

It is nice living near the forest, but that proximity to nature brings with it a proximity to all things wild. Raccoons are common visitors, as are deer, and skunks, and birds, and at times even bears.

I've seen them all in this neighborhood, sometimes up close and very personal. The thing is, there are simple tricks to help avoid unwanted encounters.

Not providing enticements is a big one. Even the wildest of creatures will seek out a simple fix for their base needs. Why scavenge for food when you can seek out a buffet that is already prepared?

Of them all, bears are the most likely to seek out a quick fix. That's why you see them at dumps and landfills, they have an inherent laziness that draws them to food.

Edible items in your yard will draw them close as they seek out the bear necessities, a quick easy eat. Berries or dropped bits of barbecue both work the same.

I can hear a snuffling, shuffling in the woods right now. I can feel the shadowy beast returning once more.

The shotgun in my lap is locked and loaded and with any luck I will have my revenge.

I close my eyes, only briefly, and I see the remains of my dog Dug. He was brave, loyal, and caring, and then he was gone - snapped up in the jaws of a scavenging bear and tossed to pieces.

Tonight I will avenge Dug though. I will blast a hole through that vile beast in the name of self defense.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 4, 2011

Story-A-Day #235: Strawberries


Hey, it's just me. I wanted to let you know I went to the berry farm today.

It's hard work I guess, but the effort is definitely worth it. Think about it, a few hours out in the sun and you end up with a dozen pints of delicious, juicy, fresh picked strawberries.

Have you ever picked or harvested your own food? Trust me, the effort expended in the process makes the fruits of your labour all the more appreciable.

I spent almost three hours out in the basking sun today, but I have six heaping baskets of golf ball sized strawberries as a result.

Tomorrow I'll make jam. That obviously goes without saying, but today I will truly enjoy the spoils of my harvest. I can already taste the strawberry shortcake: the crumbling biscuits, sugary berries, and fresh whipped cream are still a few hours away - but trust me: they are already melting in my mouth.

In the morning, fresh plucked berries on waffles followed by the mildly tedious process of separating the rest of the berries onto cookie sheets for freeze drying.

I remember the first year I went picking, I threw everything into bags and the bags into the freezer. It was a mess, a solid mass of berry. It was also an important lesson in freezing.

As much as I'm looking forward to the strawberry shortcake tonight, I am equally excited for the strawberry salsa I'll be serving with the fajitas. It's going to rock your world.

Anyway, enough rambling. I just wanted to give you a quick call to let you know you are in for a treat tonight.

I'll see you in a few hours. Give me a call when you get this!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Story-A-Day #234: A Game Of Chicken


How far is too far in a game of chicken? It's a fine line between daring and dumb, so how can we truly tell before we have gone past the point of no return?

We have filters that dictate right or wrong, ones that help preserve our existence, but it is not like that for everyone.

Not all creatures are graced with the processing capabilities of humankind.

Take the chicken for example, the most able and delicious of the poultry world. A dare to lay an egg for a hen would be a simple task. A dare to wake a farmer at the crack of dawn would be just as simple for a rooster.

When it comes to getting stuffed though, how far is too far?

A can of beer up the keister might be considered so. A plucking of the feathers and down, equally so.

A game if chicken is the greatest gamble of all as it is near impossible to differentiate between what is safe and what is reckless.

It starts with the process itself and sometimes in the midst of the game it is best to tell your opponent to get stuffed.

If you don't, you run the risk of getting cooked. Keep in min though, that a refusal to accept the odds will likely end in a solid roasting regardless.

That is the risk you run in a game of chicken.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Story-A-Day #233: Stalker


I slithered through the grass like a snake, my heart pounding so hard in its ribbed cage that I am afraid it is trying to break free.

My breath comes in fast raspy gusts, each one more labored than the one before. I don' know how long I was running for but my muscles burn, so I know it was long enough, longer than I could endure.

I lost my weapon a while back; the knife would be useless against my pursuer, but it had given me some comfort.

I can hear him drawing closer, his heavy footsteps calm and measured. I worry that he will see the grass swaying around me, that he will spot me here in the grass, but my survival instincts push me onward, inching away from my would-be attacker.

My outstretched hand falls on a length of wood, a solid piece of two-by-four. I wait as he draws nearer, the board clasped firmly in my hand.

When the moment is right, I will spring upward and swing the wood. It might not be enough, but at the moment, it is the only hope I have.

I reposition myself and wait. When he is close enough I will strike, like a snake from the grass.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Story-A-Day #232: Canada Day


What does it mean to live in the true north strong and free? We are a proud country, a patriotic one, but we have no definition.

We are bound to sovereignty, but we do not sip tea through stiff upper lips.

We are a country bound by our diversity and willing to embrace all who join us. Yes we are a land of boundless green forests; endless grassy plains; majestic snow capped mountains; and cool, clear rivers and lakes - but it is our people that make us the country we are.

When we celebrate our country, we celebrate our cultures. We celebrate the open diversity that defines our cultural landscape as much as our natural one.

Ours is a country to respect. It contains aspects of the many lands and people that call it home, but it is also a unique place.

When the fireworks light up the sky, celebrate what makes you part of this great land, but don't forget to also celebrate what makes you different from those around you.

Canada is unique. Our emblems are leaves an animals, they are pertinent totems, not empty symbols. Tonight, celebrate your totems with pride.

Happy Canada Day.

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