November 4, 2012

Trifecta, Trifextra: Week Fourty -- Why I write

This weekend's Trifecta task is simple: forge an answer as to why I write. Not as easy as it sounds so I gave this one the not-over-thought treatment and am offering it in the raw:


i need to find "like" minds
i have to explain myself
i try to support others
i worry
i hurt
i truly hunger to communicate

Trifecta is a twice weekly writing challenge. While I haven't been that regular recently, I remain grateful for the prompts, and committed to take the challenge as often as I can manage.

October 22, 2012

Trifecta, Week 48 -- Sinister -- UPDATED

I'm back with another offering for this week's Trifecta Challenge. This week's word is:


3: singularly evil or productive of evil


Politics as Usual

I've been watching the American elections more closely than ever before. What can I tell you, it is quite entertaining.
 Which is not a good thing. Say anything you'd like about entertainment, it does not propel us forward. Sure I have lightbulb moments that help me with my angst and love life, but mostly I'm just trying to avoid doing stuff: Cleaning my house, weeding my gardens, teaching my kids, advocating for change.

Today on CBC Radio's daily newsmagazine, The Current, I learned something sinister: those American (inter)nationally televised presidential debates are run a private, non-profit corporation, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), owned and operated entirely by the Republican and Democratic Party. I mean Parties. And their budget is courtesy of for-profit corporations and their lobby groups. Who own the television networks?


I see.

This explains why the candidates’ parties are allowed to stage their positions and audience questions, control the moderators and the camera angles, and keep all other possible candidates far away from the podium. Seriously, how do these debates prove adequate knowledge to voters? Most Americans I know are completely engaged but can't get answers to their deep concerns about the choices being made on their behalf in their country.

The debates may well be a staged fraud, and Americans are only now waking up to realise they've been conned since the birth of their modern nation.

And why, you might ask, would this Canadian be so riveted by the manipulation of a few to continue to hold power when it is not my country?

We have it here too. The lies, the choices that don’t exist. The colonization of our minds.
In Canada as everywhere, the stakes have never seemed higher. Unlabeled GMO foods. Factory farming. Pipelines and tankers carrying bitumen oil, perhaps the most impossible thing to clean up from proposed remote riverbed, mountain range and sea paths. Global warming? Compact florescent lights, anyone?

We are in the same leaky bloody boat.



The radio broadcast referred to above can be heard at The Current: Are the US Presidential Debates broken?

Update: Here are three parts to a story carried on PBS about this story.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

I said it once, and I'll say it again. Canada's election process and debates are pretty much the same disaster as those in the USA. We are in the same boat. We may have to work together to right this wrong and be governed by people who want to govern all of us, and not just control us.

These are the rules for playing at Trifecta:

  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.

October 19, 2012

Trifecta's Trifextra, Weekend Thirty Eight -- Three wishes, and a price paid

This weekend's Trifecta challenge is to write 33 words of my own of three wishes asked for, and the high price those wishes extoll upon the wisher:


My three wishes were for us to stop endangering plants and animals, to eradicate the senseless global economy and to finally achieve world peace.

Mother Nature did her best work and devoured “civilization”.


October 18, 2012

Trifecta, Week (Holy Cow) 47 -- Black

This is my entry for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.

As usual, we are using the third definition of a word selected by those crafty-but-cute Trifecta editors. I personally picture them with dancing around a cauldron.

This week's word is black.


3: dressed in black


Sartorial Therapy

I wear black. Not sometimes, all the time. Pants, shirts, dresses, coats, skirts, tights, socks and shoes. Black. Sure I have this one bulky hot-pink woolen scarf I knit myself for really cold days, and I did wear a red skirt once. But black is it, down to my pajamas and undergarments.

It may surprise you to know, like the childless and unmarried, one who chooses to wear black is endlessly grilled on why, when will this change, what's wrong with you. Heads shake. I would say "nothing" but that is not entirely truthful. It’s just, you know, what right have you to ask?

Listen. I am colourful enough. I spout opinions, don’t know how to keep quiet. I am loud; I call attention to myself by default. I stick out like an infected, inflamed cuticle.

I don’t need colour.

More significantly, when I was a child, another mercilessly critiqued my wardrobe misfires and the unique items that I wore -- lilac shoes, peach pants, a puffed-sleeved, pinstriped blouse that buttoned up one side of my newly-developed bosom. I still hear that kid’s taunts, others gleefully joining in. That was just the tip of my life of being bullied.

That child is now adult, and wishes I would "stop calling attention to myself" for suffering her behaviour. That was then, this is now, get over it.

But my childhood scars are no different than those of a woman who has had cancers cut from her body: scar tissue left behind hardens over time and irritates the flesh around it. The remedy is for a surgeon to score the tissue with a scalpel. My own remedies are to stand out less or to scratch at the memories 'til I bleed.

My predilection to black drives some people to distraction. On that single day I sport my scarf, they effuse over colour’s cameo in my life as if it changes the world. They present me more colourful items; my rebuff bites hard.

The rules:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
This week's word is black.

October 13, 2012

Trifecta Weekend Thirty Seven -- On the Count of Three ...

You know how life can steal your breath away? Sometimes it's thrilling, like a super passionate and unexpected kiss and your stomach drops and you feel so light that you could soar away. But other times it's more like the wind is pummeled clean out of you and you have to struggle just to pull in that next breath and sort out which way is up.

That is what happened to me this year, and I feel like I'm just peeking out from under my turtle's shell now. Sure, occasionally I've peeked at your blogs to see how you are, but rarely have I been able to summon up the confidence or ... something ... to comment. I can't lie, sometimes I even type stuff up only to delete it and slink away.

I figured one way I can ease back into some good old muttering, if only for this (temporarily bedridden) moment, would be to Trifecta (trifecticate?).

While I've missed the camaraderie, I have not been able to read any of the often inspiring, thrilling and hilarious work that is posted twice weekly at Trifecta for forever, triste, but I'm trying to just be okay with this strange place I'm in.

I'd love to say I'm back, and better than ever, but instead I think I'm okay to say I'm popping by today with only the best of intentions to write a piece and check out everyone's work once I post this, and maybe, just maybe to hobble back again midweek.

I'm not giving up and going away, but maybe I'm gonna be unreliable for a bit. I can promise nothing better.

And so, without further ado about nothing, this weekend's Trifecta challenge:

 -- 33 words of my own, building upon but not counting "On the count of three ..."




Shhhhhhhhhh ...

Okay. Stop it! ... Any moment now ... Hank, ready to light the sparklers?



You guys! ... Shuuuuushhhh!

I hear a car ... it’s slowing ...

They’re coming up the walk ... the stairs ...

On the count of three ...


July 29, 2012

Champions are Those Who Imagine it Can Be Done ...

and then make it happen.

I want you to meet my friend Glenda Watson Hyatt. We've been friends since she was 7 and I was 6. Or maybe 8 and 7, I can't remember. We were in Brownies (the junior British colony version of Girl Scouts) together, in the same . I'll add a photo of us when we were kids when I come across it again, but today I have to tell you a quick story about her inextinguishable will.

Glenda can do anything, with a bit of help from friends. Here's she and I ziplining across downtown Vancouver during the Olympics:

Yesterday, Glenda climbed the steps of the Art Gallery in Philadelphia, following in the footsteps of the semi-biographical character, Rocky Balboa. The true Rocky is a gentleman named Charles (Chuck) Wepner, a heavyweight boxer who went the distance with Muhammad Ali who joined Glenda in her triumph after her ascension.

Since the moment I met her, Glenda, brain injured at birth which left her with a "life, not death sentence" of cerebral palsy, has been a person who has chosen to say "yes" to life and opportunities. She wrote a book with one thumb, Do It Myself, about her early days, including her journey through school and university. Do it Myself is also available to read on your Kindle. If you want to feel inspired, or just get a look at what living with a disability looks like from the inside, I highly recommend  it. And not just because I make a brief cameo ...

Anyway, today is about Glenda, and the challenge she set her sights upon most recently. Climbing those stairs, aided by the group, Wish Upon a Hero. She would have done it without them, I know this from experience, but they made a personal challenge a party. I've stolen Glenda's montage of this event, which was made even better by a foundation called  from her FB page, so that you can celebrate her spirit too, and answer yes! to the next little (or not so little) dream you have.

Photo montage of Glenda, Rocky impersonator, boxer Chuck Wepner and the gang at Wish Upon a Hero as they climb the steps at the steps Rocky climbed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Glenda and gang make the climb (photo courtesy: Wish Upon A Hero)

Finally, there's this story from the local Philadelphia newspaper. Enjoy a bit of inspiration on this lovely Sunday afternoon.

ps. Glenda writes and presents worldwide about Web Accessibility. If you have a blog, or develop internet software, she has compiled a wealth of information about courseware for you to use to broaden your readership by making content more widely available to those with disabilities. She asks you: Is Your Blog Disabled?

July 22, 2012

Friday Fluff on a Sunday Afternoon in July

This week Joules over at LucidLotusLife completed a Weirdo Survey and then Amelia over at Searching for Amelioration did the same so I thought I would kickstart my writing career and make this jazz a microtrend by forcing myself to do the same.

I dunno why it is dubbed the Weirdo Survey, maybe some weirdo wrote it, but I'm not that fussy so here ya go:

How tall are you barefoot?
It depends. Am I pregnant? (I'm not pregnant.)

Have you ever smoked heroin?

Listen. I freaked something awful at someone else who decided in a bar we worked that I needed to watch her snort coke in a bathroom stall late one night because THAT would be the night the joint got busted ... so you tell me. Have I ever smoked heroin?

Do you own a gun?
A water gun. Yes. But I don't allow my kids to touch it. I don't want to hear the girls yelling that the boy shot them in the eye. That bickering drives me insane.

Does eating-disordered loony bin count? Because it should because that's how I used it. So, yes.

Do you get nervous before
hand jobs? Sure. Doesn't everybody?

What do you think of your friends?
If by friends you mean people who read this blog, I think they are brilliant, insightful, beautiful and charming. Did I mention they are brilliant?

If by friends you mean IRL ... I'm working on that. Ha ha, joking. (Sort of). I love my friends very much.

What's your favorite Christmas song?
Have You Ever Been Mellow?

What. I have to listen to stuff like that at Christmas time. It keeps me from losing my shit.

What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Irish whiskey in black coffee.

Whipped cream optional.

Perfection includes Irish Mist, but I haven't had that since I stopped working the business lunch shift at local Greek restaurants, completely tanked. That Irish Mist really *makes* the drink.

Do you do push-ups?
I never "do" anything that makes my chin rest on my mammary glands. It just looks silly.

Have you ever done ecstacy?
Yep. 1/2 tab. Once whilst living in Hong Kong and attending our one and only rave, in the basement of a grand hotel. We shared the tab in the cab ride over.

The hotel part made our one-and-only attempt at 90s cool pretty pitiful. The chemical merely made my hair stand on end so I never tried it again. I was disappointed I didn't get all chill and/or lovey.

Are you vegetarian?
I am an opportunist. If you feed me good food, I will eat it.

Do you like painkillers?
I haven't found one that works so ... not really. I'm mostly mad at them.

What is your secret weapon to lure in the opposite sex?
Um, yar. I totally use a secret weapon. I fix them with my death glare, and render them incapable to resist. And then I eat them.

What time did you wake up today?
7.25 am

Current worry?
It is July and my toes are cold.

Current hate?
Reality is a bitch.

Do you own slippers?

Do you burn or tan?
Are we talking S&M here? Because I'd choose tanning someone's hide over burning them any day. I don't like the smell. Now hot wax, that might be different. But did you ever see that movie that Diana Ross was in, where she burned herself by dripping wax down her body? That was crazy. So maybe I'm going to stick with tanning.

What songs do you sing in the shower?
None. Shower is out of commission. It's a new reno, leaks into the downstairs suite like a kid's snotty nose, please don't ask. I bathe in the clawfoot bathtub we romantically installed in the kids playroom.

Don't. Ask.

How many TVs do you have in your house?
We have three TV screens, but we only watch television shows on my small laptop because we do not receive a signal on said TVs. Really, we should give those things away, don't you think?

Do you wish on stars?
Nope. But I hum the tune.

What song do/did you want played at your wedding?
Queen: I Want to Ride my Bicycle. And then we did.

What song do you want played at your funeral?
I do not want a funeral. But if others want when I go, they can do what they'd like. I don't plan on caring. I'll. Be. Dead.

But I wouldn't complain if someone played a young Liza singing Cabaret. Mostly I hope I'll have figured out how to make this song true in my life:

Do you love someone?
Uh huh. Truly madly deeply, I love my husband. I love my friends (online and off), I love my siblings and their kids. And I love my kids, wildly and without reservation.


Credit where it's due:
Lisa over at Seeking Elevation started answering surveys as a Friday Fluff thing a while back ... it's good to see it revived every here and there. Her most recent fluff was completed in the run-up to her marathon solo-with-toddler+preschooler trip from Hong Kong to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond ... pretty sure she needed the distraction at that point as much as I am using this for mine now. I believe she is on the last leg of her journey (the Gulf part) and then she's home again home again jiggity jog.

Take this survey or other Fun Surveys - Fun Myspace Surveys at Fun Surveys - Fun Myspace Surveys. You are so welcome.

July 3, 2012

Trifecta -- Week 34 -- The Giver

I want to tell people the truth: they take and take and take and take without giving in return but still they take take take take and when there should exist nothing more to get they take some more, and they should not. Push. So. Hard. -- or -- Grab. So. Much. without considering replenishing the well that is I.

I fear the fireworks. It terrifies me so much that I cannot breathe. I imagine if I told them an ounce of how rude and horrible and mean they are, if I said anything at all ...

So I stay still, and quiet, and proffer my everything with my head bowed in the hope that they will one day see that they take too much.

Yes. I know.

I am broken too.


This is my entry for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge, after many weeks of absence. In its way, it seems like a lifetime, but taking a small step back into the fray is, indeed, comforting. I've missed you.

As usual, we are using the third definition of a word selected by those crafty-but-cute Trifecta editors. I personally picture them with horns.


1: a device for producing a striking display by the combustion of explosive or flammable compositions
2: plural a display of fireworks
3: plural
a : display of temper or intense conflict
b : a spectacular display

July 2, 2012

Life, death, and favours asked

Hi Everyone.

I have been absent from my blog for the month following the death of my mother. I am still sorting through my feelings and those of my family, and have felt too vulnerable to write things (even mundane things not related to her death).

Of course, it is easier to write for a cause -- especially a good one -- so I'm climbing back on my horse. After all, it is always easier to ask for something for someone else, isn't it? This may be my personal Achilles heel. I'm pretty sure most of you can relate. (I've read your blogs.)

So I have this friend, Melissa. She is my children's violin teacher and an amazing musician who inspires me to push myself to be more brave (one day, but not today). She and another musician form the group BowAntler. They are competing to secure a space on the main stage of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, one of the original festivals to be held in Vancouver. This festival is a BIG DEAL.

To help me support BowAntler, please check out this song she and her band mate wrote specifically for the contest, Shake My Shoes, and then click the "like" link to vote for her. While you are there (and if you love Cindy Lauper like I do) check out their rendition of Time after Time (Time after time ... time after time ... time after time ...)

That's it for now. Thanks in advance for those of you who take the time to vote. For those of you that don't, I'm okay with asking and not receiving. A long time ago I learned that if I don't ask, I will never get, and that a no is just as okay an answer as yes.

I'm embedding the video here but I think you have to click like directly on FB to actually vote. (If you really like it, feel free to share with your peeps too.) If you don't "do" Facebook, you can click "like" directly on the YouTube video, I've heard rumours that this will count too ...

May I present BowAntler's Shake My Shoes:

In the meanwhile, my family grieves. My mother (Elaine) was a complicated person (aren't we all) but I can say with absolute certainty she was was an especially amazing grandma. We'll each miss her in our own way.

May 31, 2012

Ancient repository under threat -- Vancouver's history may be erased by stubborn bulldozer ...

This is a letter I just wrote to the premier of my province as well as to other government officials with regards to c̓əsnaʔəm, the historical site at the Marpole Midden. (Their FB page has some terrific coverage of their activism too.) Whether or not you are a citizen of Canada, feel free to write to the premier et al and encourage them to assist in creating a resolution to this standoff for the Musqueam Band of Vancouver. As I argue below, if this were the western so-called Cradle of Civilization, rather than the history of the aboriginal people who's family have occupied this land for some 4000 years, this act would be a complete outrage. I mean, remember Bin Laden and the Buddhist statues?! I do. How is this so different?

Dear Premier and MLAs,

As a longtime resident of Vancouver and a lifelong resident of the lower mainland I am writing to express my full support for the Musqueam Band with regards to the heritage site at the Marpole Midden.

It is imperative that we show the Musqueam our understanding of their values, especially that of their ancestry. That he remains of three individuals were unearthed earlier this year should be reason alone to seek a positive outcome for the Musqueam. If it is sacred to them, at the very least we should show our respect of this belief, regardless of our own, or our lack of belief.

I also understand this land had been a "disposal" site, which to me suggests there exists an amazing history to the property -- a repository if you will of invaluable artifacts that will tell us stories of an early civilization in existence long before your family or mine arrived. If this were Ancient Mesopotamia, we would be outraged at the indiscriminate digging that is being attempted on the site. What is the difference here? I believe it is this: you and I were not educated in school about anything but the superiority of Christianity, European culture and colonial righteousness. Whether or notyour ancestral burial grounds or the remnants of your ancestors lives is of value to you should not come into play in this situation: a group of people with long ties to this land do, and this must be taken into serious consideration.

I understand that there may exist complications with stopping this development -- perhaps the presale of this development has begun, perhaps the "owners" are obstinate. No matter. Conflicts such as these are worked through all the time and can be sorted through here. This land was earmarked nearly a century ago, and should be developed with pride and in support of a better education for our children: Hamish, Georgia, Korinne and Adam. Many of us believe you have no choice but to step up and work this issue through to a fair and acceptable outcome. Find a way to allow for the exchange of land so that the Musqueam may develop a visitor's interpretive centre and park as they've proposed. If you must, imagine yourself at a ribbon cutting for both sites and the terrific press a positive outcome could have on both situations. Imagine the legacy you will leave in your wake.

My understanding of true history is one that includes the stories of more than the "dominant" culture that came to this land. We owe it both to the Musqueam children and to our own to together create a more balanced story of this land so that together we may have a cohesive and balanced future.

Do the right thing. Work with the Musqueam and the developers to create an improved Vancouver that reflects an irreplaceable story of its past.


Karen - Vancouver, BC

Feel free to write these people (or tweet them) yourself:  

Premier Clark
Twitter @christyclarkbc
3615 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6R 1P2

Hon. Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Twitter: @MaryPolak
102 – 20611 Fraser Highway
Langley, BC
V3A 4G4

Hon. Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
102 – 2121 Ethel Street
Kelowna, BC
V1Y 2Z6

Moira Stilwell, Vancouver-Langara
Facebook: ;
365 – 5740 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 3A6

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Government of Canada.

May 27, 2012

Trifecta Non-Starter: Across the Rails

Note: So weird. I must have written this as a trifecta, and then not had time to figure out whether or not I could publish it. IDK. The thing just appeared in here this morning when I logged in and started to review the story thus far. Weird. Anyway, I've hit publish, so I guess I'll leave it. But I've removed it from the Trifecta set. Because it didn't even have the word, which in Week 23 was confidence.

Across the Rails -- Upon Arrival

The children, upon seeing the ramshackle hut, looked at each other. So tired were they, so thirsty and hungry and sick to death of Oreo cookies and apple juice, the shack looked like a resort. Although they'd never been there before, it was exactly as Terry had expected it to be. One door, window to the right with lime green curtains obliterating the view to the insides. Door painted red, rest of the house a dirty shade of grey.

Terry knew this house had once been white, had seen the picture and committed the little house's visage to memory. But grey was not charcoal and, as soon as she located the key to the lock, it would be theirs for the duration. At least that was her hope.

Even in her pre-teen state, she knew better than to think that anything in her life would be a given. Experience had taught her that if she hoped that something would work in her favour, the opposite would usually prove true.

She thought bad thoughts, just to avert the possibility. Other squatters, her aunt not wanting her, rats eating their way through the provisions, a poisoned well. If she thought these ideas now, none of them would prove true.

The house looked deserted, something about it was desolate enough to make her think her aunt and her aunt's friend had not been there for a while. Still, there was no mail piled high, no papers on the stoop. Of course the area was off the beaten track, she thought, it was possible that the mail was delivered only to a "rural route" box nearby. And if her aunt was anything like her own folks, she would not have the time, patience, trust nor money for a newspaper subscription. And the free ones were usually only delivered in the towns -- rural folks were not ones to use the flyers to augment their meager furnishings with dreams of Martha Stewart or her ilk.

"What do you think, Petey?" she asked finally.

"Do you think they're home?" he replied. "I want some water."

"Wait here with Frannie," Terry said, her voice low despite their being the only people to be seen. "I'm going around back."

Peter sat down with his back against a knotty old tree, as weary as if he'd already lived a hundred years, rather than his meager six. Francis dropped beside him, and put her exhausted head on his thigh. His hand automatically smoothed down her hair, the gesture of an older sibling who never enjoyed the luxury of being cranky and selfish.

As Jean left to find a way into the house, she let her eyes linger for a moment longer on her brother and sister than she should have. How much she longed to be a younger child, to have someone smooth her hair, for any touch that would lessen the responsibility she felt. She ached to be back at their place by the lake, reading books with her neighbour.

She shook herself a bit, to pull back into her reality. She knew she needed to get the younger kids into the house and give them something better to eat before nightfall. She glanced around, noticing dandelions everywhere. They'd have greens, anyway.

The key was exactly where her mom said it would be, beneath the stairs, between a piece of wood that made the platform and a leg that didn't quite rise to meet it. It felt cool and hard and sharp in her hand and as she squeezed it the pain she felt brought her some relief from her unending stress.

She turned the key and slipped into the back door of the shack. It smelled musty, as if it had been closed up and not given a chance to dry out from the wet of the spring. She could fix that tomorrow, she thought as she opened the front door and beckoned the others to enter.

May 23, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Putting action to words

Last year we sold our car, so it was only fitting that we reclaim the little house that the car never had a chance to live in because we had too much stored stuff. Here is the second half of yesterday's misadventures, halfway toward replanting trees:

More photos to be had over at Wordless Wednesday. Go link up!

May 13, 2012

Trifecta: Trifextra, Weekend Sixteen

Breakfast in Bed

Lying here trapped in my bed, awaiting my grub. The hours tick by. I hear negotiations and imagine the mess as my stomach growls. But as “mother”, today’s duty is to wait. Hungry.

From the Trifecta Writing Challenge: This weekend's Trifextra is the first of its kind. This weekend we only need 32 words from you, because we're giving you the 33rd. Your challenge is to write anything you want, in whichever form you please, so long as your response is exactly 33 words and includes the word "mother."

May 5, 2012

Trifecta: Trifextra, Weekend Fifteen -- Along the Rails

Despite the fact that I want to be at the mall at 7 am tomorrow -- A Lego store has finally opened in Vancouver and I want the special premium that comes with purchase to the first customers -- I have persevered past the midnight hour to get my Trifextra in beforehand. All things come at a cost, right?

The Trifextra Challenge for this weekend is to write three truths and a lie in 33 to 333 words.

I'm so glad that Terry has decided to appear again this weekend. Who knew I had a fictional story lying in wait? And as promised, I've compiled a list of the parts of this story to date. It appears at the bottom of this page.

Along the Rails -- Foraging for Food

The shelves were crammed with big-box stock, but the store was different than ones she knew. This was hodgepodge: cereals piled high against toiletries, soup alongside dog food.

She wrinkled her nose.

“Shop the edges,” her dad said on weekly trips. “Fresh foods are priced cheap to attract the suckers. Like flies to honey, most believe the lies on the packaging.”

Here the greens were wilted, cucumbers and apples wrinkled, onions softer than her sister’s chubby arms.

Red basket in hand, she dubiously plucked products from shelves, each coated in grime.

She didn’t even look at prices; for the first time ever, money didn’t matter.

As the basket filled, her arms ached. She swallowed hard the hopelessness she’d been fighting since the raid, ducking around a corner when a woman started down her aisle.

As she approached the till, the nine year old consulted a paper pulled from her pocket.

“‘Cheryl”, she whispered to the sloe-eyed checkout woman.

“I’m Cheryl,” she repeated, louder now, “My grandmother, Ma Eaton, has an account.”

Terry mustered a tiny, sweet smile, exactly as her mom demonstrated. The woman’s face brightened.
“You’re Caro’s granddaughter? How’s that poor thing?”

Terry steeled herself to deliver her last line. “Grama said to put this on her account.” She pushed that smile out again; carefully, not too much. Showing too much teeth, her mom said, was worse than no smile at all.

“No problem, hon. I’m meaning to look in on her. Tell her Babs will come soon, ‘kay?”

Walking back was brutal. No one way of carrying full bags was easier than another.

Terry was glad for her bangs as tears flowed. Exhaustion, worry and sadness engulfed her as her body recognised opportunity.

Finally she arrived at her destination. She climbed onto a rotting porch and silently put one bag beneath an overturned crate.

She stepped off the porch, lifted the remaining sacks, and slipped around the house and down a path half-hidden in the bramble-filled backyard.


Links to the other pieces of Along the Rails, in the order in which they were written:

Along the Rails (Trifecta: Week Sixteen)
Meet Terry (Trifecta: Week Seventeen)
The Arrival (Trifextra: Weekend Fourteen)
Foraging for Food (Trifextra: Weekend Fifteen)

May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

More photos to be had over at Wordless Wednesday. Go link up!

April 30, 2012

Trifecta, Week Twenty-five

For this week's challenge, the trifecta of editors at Trifecta Writing Challenge have again dug through our suggestions for inspiration. (If you haven't linked up yet with Meet Your Fellow Trifectans, please do.) They've chosen Tamyka's suggestion:

thun·der noun \ˈthən-dər\

3: bang, rumble /the thunder of big guns/

The Hangover

Lying here on my deathbed, I’m sweating out the poisons of four glasses of wine I should not have consumed at a luncheon two days previous. Unable to hold down a bite of food or even a mouthful of
Gatorade, I curse at our open living plan and the thunder of six wee feet (two in a pair of my size 9 shoes) on the wooden floor below.

April 27, 2012

Trifecta: Trifextra, Weekend Fourteen -- Along the Rails

May I present the third part of my ongoing story, Along the Rails. I've included the children's names and ages, but have not counted those details in each 33 word piece as this information is not in their voices.

Two previously-written pieces of this story are here and here. Eventually I'll figure out how to post them as a permanent list, assuming I continue to hear Terry's journey in my head.

I've missed you all, and missed the writing. But these days it is hard to hear anything, the external noises come so fast and furious. Life with family, right?

The Trifextra Challenge of the week:

Your task, should you choose to accept, is to take a scene that involves (or affects) at least three people. You should then write this scene from the point of view of three of the characters, using 33 words for each character.

Along the Rails -- The Arrival

Terry (age 9):

The house looks abandoned, Pete, look. The mail's piled on the porch; she’s not here.

It's definitely auntie’s though. We're here.

I'll head 'round back, find a way in. Keep care of Frannie.

Pete (age 7):

The screen door is loose, banging. Creepy. The house is dark -- maybe haunted. Man I’m hungry.

I’m NOT going in, Terry.

Frannie, hold my hand.
Shhhhh, Frannie. Wait.

This is stupid.

Shhhhhhh. Frannie.

Frannie (age 4):

You’re squishing my hand, stop squeezing so hard, you always squeeze so hard.

Petey, I don’t wanna wait. Where’s Terry?

I’m hungry.






You’re squeezing too hard.

Ow! Petey!

April 10, 2012

Of Easter Bunnies, Santa, Breakfast Faeries and Magic: letting go and holding on

This past weekend we were at a breaking point.

I knew it was coming.

The week previous had been all about letter writing to faeries, obsessive and breathless.

First Easter Faerie, then Breakfast Faerie.

(Yes, there is a Breakfast Faerie who apparently helps wayward mothers provide yummier morning foods for daughters who do not prefer anything other than toast and fruit. Why won't I allow my daughter to eat toast and fruit for breakfast? Because I am ridic and a control freak, I'm pretty sure. At least that's what the breakfast faerie will eventually write to my kid. When I get that far.)

Next an incredible amount of fussing went into writing letters to, and deciding what to leave out for the Easter Bunny and his co-bunny human guy. (Did you see Hop last year? Uh huh.)

But late in the evening on the night before Easter, my child, my beautiful firstborn, was in tears of epic proportions, sobbing like she'd lost her best friend.

"I can't believe anymore. I want to believe, but I can't. I have lost my belief in magic, mommy, it's all gone."

And more heart-wrenching sobs came, along with inconsolable, gut-churning weeping.

Of course I thought, "Self, you brought this upon yourself. Perpetuating those stories. You did this."

But honestly, as I sat there, as I felt my heart break for her, the other part of me that doesn't have any feelings sat within me, talking me through this. (Days like this, I'm grateful for my dysfunctions.)

"Wow," I thought. "She's taking that step."

Like many modern parents, I momentarily agonised over whether or not I should perpetuate the stories of Father Christmas, of tooth faeries and of an Easter Bunny. I swear I did for at least a half hour.

Ultimately I decided that I had no issues with telling my young children such fantasies existed, though I truly resented perpetuating a male Santa if only because generally women shop, wrap, obsess and lose sleep over gifts to create the magic. You know, in addition to the rest of what makes the holiday awesome, like foods, clean houses, decorations.

It had been coming for a long time -- kindergarten year to be precise. (She's now 9.) Something about sharing a culture with so many people with such diverse beliefs makes it pretty difficult to protect children from those who's parents do not want to perpetuate the "lies" of tradition.

For my child, one particular kid was (and is) especially ruthless. She insists regularly that each of these fantasies is bunk, and cites the fact that she picks out her own very expensive Christmas presents at ToysRUs as an emphatic proof positive Santa is not real.

Sometimes I wish parents would teach their children a bit less hardness, a bit more discretion and respect.

(Whatever. My children know that a penis going into a vagina makes a baby. I think I'll encourage her to educate specific friends -- those who've "educated" her. I happen to know the girl's father is extremely squeamish about this topic. He'll get his.) (Kidding.) (But not about the penis/vagina thing.) (Best method of birth control is knowledge.) (You know, in my humble opinion) (I know, wrong post.)

But I digress.

I have no problem encouraging my young children the magic of believing at their youngest, most gullible age. It does not weigh heavily upon my conscience simply because I want my children to believe in magic, and its existence in our world. On really bad days it is the anchor that pulls me through to the next page in my story.

When my child was calm enough to listen, I whispered some of the most valuable information about magic I know.

"Magic exists."

She looked at me with great doubt, as though worried I would perpetuate the myth further.

I said, "Nine is a good age to come into the understanding that Santa and the Easter Bunny are legends, stories, fun fantasies for small children. It is okay to feel sad to be leaving that age where you can believe in these characters.

"But I do believe in magic and have since I was a child. Magic happens every time we decide to do something right, to make the better choice. When you do this, you create magic that swirls in the air above all of us. Magic is something we make with our actions, our kindness, and even our authentic righteous behaviours."

By the time I put that child back into her bed, my heart was full of the magic of her growing up.

And I sent her to bed with one piece of advice: "Always find opportunities to make magic."

My husband and I stayed up till 2 am, preparing our (very messy) house for Easter morning, creating confections for a Passover meal we would attend Easter night and of course playing EB (good work, Alec!). It was my fourth late night of the week, what with the impulse buy of some 10 lbs of Seville oranges I'd purchased the week before that demanded processing.

My 5 year old awoke before dawn on Easter morn insisting he be granted access to the hunting grounds below. Of course he woke the girls with his howls of protests when I sent him back to bed. The girls quickly joined the chorus and demanded we all repair to the egg zone but I held fast (because despite valiant efforts to the contrary, I was unable to open one eye). I begged my oldest for 20 more minutes of sleep, and suggested she read him a book (or six) to buy me time.

And she did. A Richard Scary tome I threw at his head. For a long time.

When I finally dragged my ass out of bed one glorious hour later, my beautiful firstborn child sidled up quietly beside me. And she whispered:

"Mom. I made magic."

Update: My friend Tracie has written a terrific post that really hits home. Here's why it is so very important to teach children the appropriate (scientific) words for all parts of their body. Check out her post, Say It with Me .... Vagina and join the conversation.

April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday -- Blossoming Spring

Cherry blossom tree, not yet in bloom, overcast/rainy day
Saturday, March 31

Cherry blossom tree, not yet in bloom, overcast/rainy day
Sunday, April 1

Cherry blossom tree, not yet in bloom, but touch of pink showing, rainy day
Monday, April 2
Cherry blossom tree, pink starting to show, overcast day
Tuesday, April 3

Cherry blossom tree, hint of pink, sunny morning
Wednesday, April 4
Update: To give you an idea of the progress of cherry blossoms in and around my 'hood. Mine are always the last to arrive, which also mean they are the last around. #win!

Very light pink blossom-filled street near my house
Wednesday, April 4 - 3 blocks south east
Very light pink blossom-filled street near my house
Wednesday, April 4 - 4 blocks south east

Single tree in full bloom against blue street-scape mural painted building, pedestrians in foreground
Wednesday, April 4 -- 12 blocks north east

Single white cherry blossom tree in full bloom in someone's backyard, peeking over a white picket fence with background of white/grey clouds and blue sky and sunshine
Wednesday, April 4 -- 6 blocks north west

Single pink-blossom tree in beginning stages of bloom against white apartment building and nicely pruned trees
Wednesday, April 4 -- 8 blocks north west

More photos to be had over at Wordless Wednesday. Go link up!