Day 17: Your Personality on the Page – Blogging U – Writing 101

Today’s Prompt: We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s Twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

Monsters

Donny is asleep in bed, tucked in nice and neat.  A few stuffed toys are laying on top of the blanket draped across the bottom of the bed.  The room is dark and quiet, you can hear the gentle breathing of the 4 year old.

A few seconds pass.  Off in the distance a train whistle goes off.  The wind outside has picked up a little, the tree outside the 2nd floor window rubs against the glass, causing a squeaking scratching sound followed by a short tap tap.

Donny begins to whine a little and move about in his bed. His breathing starts to quicken. Over the next 60 seconds he moves more frantically and his breathing becomes erratic.

Donny takes an automatic deep breath as if he is rising out of deep water.  He opens his eyes, which dart around the room until they settle on the open closet.

A rustle is heard, coming from the closet.  Donny gasps, holds his breath, and squeezes his eyes shut.  As his he does so, out of the closet steps a Giraffe, head first followed by the body.

Still holding his breath, Donny opens one eye, the other quickly opens in terror.  In front of him reaching to the roof is the Giraffe. Behind the Giraffe peeks a Gorilla, and out from under the Giraffe’s legs walks a lioness, sniffing the air with caution.

Donny lets out a whimper and pulls the covers over his head. He is shivering and crying quietly, so as not to be heard by the animals.

The Giraffe checks out the light fixture on the ceiling, spinning the fan as he tries to nibble the wooden blades.  The Gorilla picks up a stuffed monkey left on the bottom of the bed and holds it to her chest as if it were her own.  The Lioness leaps up on the bed and pads up to the head where Donny is hiding under the covers.

Crying loudly now, Donny is visibly shaking through the blankets.  The Lioness sniffs around Donny’s head, then gently paws at the blankets. The Giraffe leans over grabs the blankets with his teeth.  He pulls them down exposing Donny’s teary face while the Gorilla lumbers up to the far side of the bed still cradling the stuffed toy.

A brave little boy, he opens his eyes, one at a time. When both are open the Lioness steps closer, gives Donny a big wet lick, lays down beside the startled boy and lets out a quiet gruff. The Gorilla tucks the little stuffed monkey in beside Donny and curls up amoung the other stuffed animals at the end of the bed.  The Giraffe takes a moment, folds his legs, settles down comfortably onto the carpet and rests his long neck and head on the bed.  His face nuzzles Donny’s.

Wary, Donny reaches out from under the blankets, touches each animal in turn.  As he pets them they let out small murmurs of contentment and soon begin to snore.  He takes long looks of disbelief, from the Lioness, to the Gorilla and to the Giraffe.  Little Donny falls asleep with a huge smile covering his face as the tears he shed dry.

Off in the distance a train whistle blows long and slow, the wind dies down and the sun starts to filter through the closed curtains.  Donny begins to rustle himself awake.  As he opens his eyes he looks around in expectation.  He is tucked tightly in his bed, alone.

Cheryle – May 2015

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Day 12 – Foreshadowing – Blogging U – Writing 101

Day Twelve: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon

Day Twelve’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

Day Twelve’s Twist: Include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

Sometimes Following the Rules Does Make Life Easier

Trying to navigate the crowds of anonymous people all wandering around in the market was beginning to frustrate me.  Their individual features have begun to blend together.  I am so glad, I am done searching for that last ingredient which will tie together all aspects of my dinner party.

It took me forever to decide what I wanted to serve.  I spoke to all my friends, researched various dishes on the internet and thought long and hard about how each dish would interact with the others.

I followed the recipe list, have all the ingredients now and am standing in the checkout line.  I can relax and enjoy the preparations for the evening.  I daydream about how wonderful the event will be, everyone happy, enjoying the food and refreshments, the company and conversation.

“I can’t believe she made us stand in line!” I’ve been living in this neighbourhood for 6 years, I paid my taxes.” Words spoken above the din of the registers and voices of the customers broke into my quiet thoughts.

“You’d think by now they would know where I live” a rough voice said behind me.

“I never received one of those card thingy’s” interjected another voice tinged with annoyance. “They certainly don’t make it easy to vote!”  “All the rules, the paper work”, “my tax return has all information they need, I don’t understand why I have to register again.” Whined another voice standing further back in the line.

“We stood there wasting our time while all those others were being waved through”. Chimed in the first voice.

Before I knew it I could hear my voice “Excuse me.  Are you talking about the election yesterday?”

“Yes” responded the man closest to me.  “Some people got cards, we didn’t and had to wait around to be registered”.  “It just stupid, they have all my information, they know where I live, at least they do when it comes time for me to pay taxes.”  “They’d find me fast enough if I didn’t pay.” He chuckled.

I looked him in the eyes, I could see he was one of the uncooperative people who don’t help out the census survey workers.  Yes, I saw many people like this as I walked all those miles, all those days, trying to get all the information I was tasked to obtain.  Consider, I was not allowed to turn in my sheets, until I collected information from at least 99% of the households in my area. Meaning I had to return to a non-reporting household 14 or 15 times, even then most likely walking away empty handed.    Yes, I know this person.  I can hear it in his voice and see it in his face.

I smile sweetly, the way only an old woman can. “Your taxes have nothing to do with the election.”  “The reason you were standing in the registration line, most likely, is because you were missed during the last Census.  If you weren’t home when the census collector came by or you misplaced the note with the return phone number they left.”

I switched to my, eat your veggies they are good for you, voice. “There are people who are wary of the census, thinking it is a ploy of big brother.  You must know that the Municipal, Provincial and Federal Governments aren’t that coordinated.  Even though it would serve them well to share the information gathered, they can’t, legally, and don’t have the processes in place to do so.”

I looked from one to the other and gave them my best, I am so disappointed in you, voice. “Can you imagine some people abuse these workers terribly?  Should the worker have the unfortunate opportunity to have one of these people actually answer the door,  they refuse to answer the survey questions, complain in colourful offensive language, attack the worker personally and slam the door in the poor Census takers face, leaving them to feel the wind of the contempt on their confused face.”  “What a shame.”

I continued my quiet tirade, “Unfortunately, when the government can’t collect the most recent information, the old information is used and the people living in these non-reporting households have to go through the registration process to vote.  As you had to do yesterday.”

Every single one of the nameless voices standing behind in the line looked at me as if I had spots. One turned away with guilt written all over his face.  Nevertheless, in my pleasant old lady way, I proceed to explain the ins and outs of the complex election process.   “The information gathered during the census generates the Where to Vote Cards which were issued to the people you saw waived passed you and directed to their designated Polling Station.”

I raised my hands to mime weigh scales,  “MMM,   3 minutes answering questions at your front door, or 6 – 8 minutes standing in a line waiting to provide your ID, answering a bunch of questions then standing in a 2nd line to receive your ballot to vote?”  My eyes twinkled, “for me it’s a no brainer.

Off in the distance I heard “Ma’m that will be $15.40 please.”  Ah, my groceries are ready.  I turn around, leave the voices of the line-up, pay my bill and walk on home, happy with myself for speaking up.”

Cheryle  May 2015

Day 20: The Things We Treasure – BLOGGING U – WRITING 101

My Most Prized Possession

My most prized possession?  I could write about my Cabin – my little RV, my access to heaven on the road to freedom.  I could write about my house, that I have loved for 26 years, built a life within, my sanctuary, my cave from the world when it becomes overwhelming.  It isn’t my collection of books.  Over the years I have learned to let them go and not become attached when I bring home new ones.  It’s not my paintings or the binder full of my poetry that records my progress from childhood to the present.

What do I pull out lovingly every so often, pour over for days when I am in the mood, and would want to take with me if I could only bring one thing? I would have to say my most prized possession, is the broken down cardboard box containing the photographs that tell the story of my life, my family and friends.

I know photographs aren’t really possessions, they are tangible but not possessions.  Photographs are memories brought to life through technology.  A moment in time, stolen for a reminder later in life.

Contained in that torn cardboard box that  I have taped and re-taped over the years ares the lives of my parents, my parents parents, my sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts, friends, colleagues and people I don’t even know.  They tell two stories.  The first one a history of my family.  The second story a history of photography. The earliest photos were taken with little brownie cameras, black and white. Grainy tales of a time long gone. The pictures then graduate from polaroid’s to instamatics then to various 35 mm SLR’s and finally to my lovely digital Nikon D60 and the ever durable waterproof bright red Ricoh.  I have lost three of the Ricoh’s.  If you find them you will know they are mine, they have my pictures on them.

These precious photographs, hidden on the shelf in the basement behind ancient school year books,  show farm life, city life, camping life and just life.  The pixie cut, the bob, the shag, the curly perm, the relaxed perm, the perm set with infrared lights and the dye jobs.  The little white dresses three year olds wore in the 50’s, the mini skirt, the midi- skirt, the maxi coat, bikini, the skort, the tube top, the several Canadian Forces uniforms and a few costumes worn for various stage productions.  They take me on a trip around the world. Well, at least Canada.  Toronto, Alliston, Montreal, cottage country, Ottawa, the Maritimes, Saskatchewan, BC, Vancouver Island, Alberta, many other cities in those provinces and back again.

Some of these little glossy, matte or fingerprint proof squares are, loose sorted in a not sorted order, others are put inside little photo books and albums, many are left inside their envelopes with or without their negatives.

Yes, these photos are the only things that cannot be replaced.  Yes, I can conjure the memories in my mind and reminisce without the tangible reminders, but as long as I can, I will love hauling out that tattered box, and touching every single shot taken of the past.

Cheryle  May 2015

Day 13 – Blogging U – Writing 101 – Serially Found

Day 13’s Prompt: write about finding something.

Day 13’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

Since I submitted a Petrarchan Sonnet for the previous post in this series, I have attempted to follow it up with a Terza Rima. The Terza Rima form follows aba bcb cdc ded etc repeat with lines the same length.  It is usually in iambic pentameter, but I strayed from this requirement plus I switched up the last stanza.

This is such a formal form, I don’t think my voice rings through.

Charlie

 .

Black and white kitty with a moustached face

Lost or abandoned, feral life of hell

Ferocious hunter, pouncing prey a race

 .

Secret neighbourhood paths you know so well

Hidden from humans your gender a guess

Male, female, spayed, neutered? No one can tell

 .

Well-mannered kitty never leaves a mess

Human wary, those brooms and boots they toss

Warm engine blocks dangerous for a rest

 .

Harmless hands held out, no scent to betray

Sniffs, licks, purrs, a memory of your loss

Soft fur baby move in my home today.

 .

Cheryle  April 2015         Terza Rima

Day 14: To Whom It May Concern – Blogging U –Writing 101

Day 14: To Whom It May Concern – Blogging U –Writing 101

Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.

Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.

Page 29 – The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects by Barbara G Walker

Sceptre

 Dear Reed:

As you know, our beloved leader, King Loachra lost his life, valiantly defending our fertile land, fresh flowing waterways and the peaceful people of Thislandia against the barbarian invasion from Thatlandia.     It is with heavy hearts we celebrate his untimely passing with the ceremonial breaking of his sceptre and the release of his spirit to the universe.

The Sceptre Replacement Committee has searched far and wide to locate a sceptre suitable for the crowning of King Loachra’s precious heir, Princess Gaiscíoch.  Traditionally sceptres have been gathered from the sloping banks of the sparking river Usquebaugh.  However, Princess Gaiscioch was born and spent her formative years living nomadically in Machair, I believe this is your county.  Her dearest wish is to remain solidly connected to her youthful lessons. The Sceptre Replacement Committee’s sacred duty is to honour her wish and create for her a daily reminder of the joyous days she spent splashing in the waters of the Abhainn.

You, being the strongest, straightest Reed on the banks of the Abhainn have been selected to assume the prestigious role of Royal Sceptre.  This is undeniably a sacrifice every loving subject would be happy and willing to make for their Queen.

Tonight, the Sceptre Collection Service will escort you to the Royal Artisan, who will craft your exceptional fibres into an enduring Sceptre that will guide Her Majesty throughout her rein.  Your rebirth as a Sacred Object of Government, will be forever recorded in the Royal Histories and lend celebrity to the County Machair as the home of The Reed Who Became the Most Famous Sceptre of all.

We the Government are forever in your debt.

The Official Writers of Letters for the Monarchy

OWL

Cheryle April 2015

Day Eleven: Size Matters (In Sentences) – Blogging U – Writing 101

When I lived in Sarcee

Year twelve for me was a year of yet more transition.  We moved across Canada.  Basically, I lived in two homes, in two different cities and provinces, the year I turned twelve.  Most military homes were cookie cutter similar.  Inexpensive government built row houses, three or four bedrooms upstairs, open concept kitchen, dining and living rooms down stairs and a cement floor basement. The only real difference was the specific layout. One house would have everything on the right side of the front door, the next one would have everything to the left side of the door. The rooms were all painted off-white beige with an eggshell finish.  Boring.  So boring in fact, when my father left the military and my parents moved into their own home, I insisted no room be off-white, each room had to be painted a different colour.

No matter where I travel, I can recognize a military home whether it be a row house or not.

In Calgary we lived On Base. A completely separate environment from Civi Street.  We had our own stores, barber shops, beauty shops, Churches, rec centres, schools and of course bars called messes.  There was no reason to leave the base for anything, including socialization, all our friends were families of soldiers and lived within walking distance, inside the carefully structured military community.

Everyone who lived in Sarcee had a 12 ft. raised fence enclosing an area, approx. 15 ft. x 15 ft., located in the back of the house, off of the parking lot.  We called this the bull pen.  In winter it would be flooded.  A place to skate when we couldn’t go to the skating rink. In the summer this is where my parents would BBQ or entertain.  The stoop was out in front, overlooking the common lawn, no one used the front door to drop by for a visit everyone used the back door.

In addition to the amenities, we had exclusive access to an area that is now called the Weaslehead Flats, a natural environmental park.  At the time this was our outdoor play area.  Grasslands, woodlands, the Glenmore Reservoir, the Elbow River, pretty much where ever we wanted to go and do whatever we wanted to do.  The only rule, we had to stay away from the training areas.  There we could pick up unexploded munitions and die.

Not much changed when we first moved to Toronto.  We lived as part of the city, however, accessed what we needed by going to the base, a 2 minute drive away. That is another story.

Cheryle April 2015

Day 9: Point of View and Day 8 – Death to Adverbs – Blogging U – Writing 101

Day 9 – Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this sceneTwist: write the scene from three different points of view

Day 8 – Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Twist: write an adverb-free post.

THE RED SWEATER

Today the sun keeps the clouds at bay, shining heavy on the crowded park.  There are no shadows to follow the walkers, picnickers, dog owners or the disc golfers as they toss their Frisbees into baskets.  Lunch time always sees the park numbers increase, men in suits, grey, black or blue, ties tight against striped shirts, trench coats left open or hung folded on their arms.  Women walk on black pumps clacking against the sidewalk.  Their blouses tucked smooth into pencil skirts, hair tied close to their heads to keep it in line.

Every bench has at least one occupant, a man with his dog, a mother chatting with a friend while pushing a stroller back and forth as her baby cries hungrily. An old woman sits alone, under the gnarled red oak, knitting a small red item.  Her needles flying and clicking with a life of their own as she looks around the park.

Old Woman:

“Knit one, Purl one, carry one over, Knit one, Purl one, add a stitch. I do like this pattern.  Joyce will be over the moon when I give it to Kitty.  Her 1st birthday.  She is such a good baby.  Knit one, purl one, add a stitch, knit one, purl one, carry one over, start a new row.  Always happy.  There’s a handsome couple coming along the sidewalk.  They must be just beginning to date.  I remember holding Martins’ hand that tight, years ago when we started going out.   I was about that girls age, early 20’s.  He looks a bit older than her, 29 or 30 I’d say.   Purl one, start a new row.  I wonder what they are talking about.  I bet it is something intimate, they both have that shy happy smile painted across their faces.  Carry one over, knit one, purl one add a stitch.  This will fit Kitty with enough room for her to grow.  Oh Oh!  Something is not right with the lovers.  His face is twisting, she must have said something.  Oh my his face is wet, he is crying, the tears are flowing.  What did she say?  What happened?  Add a stitch, start a new row.   She is still smiling, doesn’t she know he’s upset?  Knit one, purl one.  Oh there she goes, she knows now.  She looks surprised, interesting.  Hmmm.  Maybe she didn’t say anything at all to upset him.  Hmmm.  Purl one, Look how she puts her arm around him, how sweet.  I wonder what upset him so much.    Start a new row, knit one, purl one carry one over, knit one purl one, add a stitch,  Yes, Kitty will look so cute in this little red sweater,  Joyce will be so happy.  I can’t wait to finish it for them.  Add a stitch start a new row.”

Young Woman:

A  young 20 something woman, walks with a bounce in her step, her thin candy red wool coat swinging against the leg of the older dark haired man walking close beside her.  With her free hand she runs her cherry tipped fingers through her short auburn bob, freeing its’ strands from the stuffiness of the office.

“That was a scrumptious lunch, Don.” the young woman remarks as she looks up into his eyes, then at his full lips.  “I just love that place, they make the best chicken, avocado wraps, don’t you think?”

“Sure do, Sam.” he quips “I know it’s your favourite.”  He looks at her and winks.

Sam smiles, drops her eyes and blushes as he takes hold of her hand and holds it as they walk. She holds his hand back.  Don smiles a grin that stretches from jawline to jawline.

Sam, licks her lips then says “Your hand feels so nice holding mine, it’s warm and comforting.  It makes me feel special, like you and I are the only ones in the park today.”  She looks at Don and smiles a small quiet grin.  He looks at her, smiles back and squeezes her hand.

They walk in silence for a moment, each relishing the new step taken in their budding relationship.

Sams’ mind is reeling.  Wow!  I can’t believe this.  His hand is so smooth, it feels good to be touching him.  I can feel the butterflies flitting around in my tummy.  I won’t be able to concentrate this afternoon.

“What are your thoughts on this, Samantha?” Her mind mimics her the voice of her boss.  “I don’t know Jordon, Don is holding my hand.  I can’t think of anything else.” As she day dreams her coat swings with a little more bounce.

I wonder where we will go tonight.  Last nights’ movie was fun.  It was a little embarrassing when I jumped during that scary scene and hid my face in his shoulder.  Her smile widens as she reminisces about the evening.

It is Friday, maybe we will go to a club.  Oh that new one everyone is talking about.  Maybe we will have a quiet dinner at “Roger Rabbits”.

What!  Don has let go of my hand.  What’s going on?  She turns to look at Don.  His head is bent down, both hands cover his face.

With surprise and concern she asks “Don, what’s the matter?  Are you OK?  What’s wrong?  She gives him a quick once over to make sure he isn’t injured.  She takes his hands and pulls them away from his face.  Shocked to see he is sobbing.  Oh my god, she thinks, did I say something wrong?

“Don, you’re crying” Oh yeah, how obvious, that’s helpful, she berates herself.  “What can I do?”  “Here” she rummages in her pocket.  “Take this Kleenex, wipe your eyes.” she whispers and puts her arm around his heaving shoulders.

Her mind is racing, I cannot imagine what happened.  We were having such a lovely time and all of a sudden he is crying.  What is going on?  I wonder what triggered this.  Perplexed she continues to coo, “It’s ok sweetheart, everything will be ok.” as she rubs his back and shoulder.

The Man:

Man, she is so cute, thinks a 32 year old man walking with a young woman by his side.  His short dark brown hair shows a few grey strands just above his temples.  Around his eyes are the shadows of a few crow’s feet, just enough to herald the number to come as he ages.  His jaw, sharp and square, speaks of a strong back with a touch of stubbornness.  Dressed in the dark suit so popular with office workers, his red tie sets off the thin stripes on his shirt.  Sharp toed shoes finish off his polish with a touch of flair.

Her lips look so kissable.  I just want to touch her, feel her skin against mine. Listen dummy, she’s talking to you about lunch.

“Sure do, Sam, I know it’s your favourite.”  Anything for you baby doll, Wink.  My famous wink always wins a few smiles with the ladies.

Her eyes, so dark, so brown, I could fall into them and never come out again.  Man, you’re grinning like a chimpanzee, stop it and grab her hand.  Wow, so soft, so small, my hand engulfs hers.  I bet those nails can leave a good scratch.  Whoa, she is squeezing my hand.  What a woman, she knows just how to get my blood going.

I could walk beside her forever.  I haven’t felt this free since…… Stop it.  Stop it, don’t go there.  Sam is here.  Look around, get your mind back on track.  Don’t go there.  Distract yourself, look around the park. Anything to take your mind off the past.  What is that old woman knitting?  No no, don’t look there, it’s a baby sweater.  Quick, think of something else.  Don’t let this take hold.

She was just a baby!  Stop, stop, you can’t do this, not here, not now, he pleads with himself.  There was nothing you could do.  It wasn’t your fault.

If Helen had just asked, I would have driven her.  I would have kept them both safe.  I would have….. Oh God, why?  Why?  What did I do?  What didn’t I do?  Our life was perfect, she was perfect.  She was just a baby.  What did she ever do for you to take her away so brutally, so violently?  Oh God. My daughter.  Oh God, my daughter.  I’ll never see her, hold her again

“I’m sorry Sam I’m ok.” he whispers between sobs “You didn’t do anything wrong, It’s me.  Please forgive me, I am so sorry”