Weekly Writing Challenge: The Accident (A Quatern)

Here is my Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge submission for the week. I am not a poet but I am drawn to the rules of the Quatern (4 4-line stanzas, with each line comprising of 8 syllables. The first line is the refrain, in the second stanza it appears in the second line, in the third stanza, the third line etc. )

The Accident

I did not mean to kill the judge.

The finale, Live, on TV.

The competition was tense, I

needed to be creative. Ask

 

him if he had allergies? No.

I did not. Mean to kill the judge?

That’s crazy. It might look that way

but why risk the prize money?

 

No one has died from my cooking.

Before now.  It was not preplanned.

I did not mean to. Kill the judge!

Who hasn’t though that at least once?

 

Or maybe twice. He was harsh. My

sauce wasn’t seasoned .My fish raw.

Sure, he deserved a scare. But no –

I did not mean to kill the judge.

DP Writing Challenge : Embrace

couple-embrace

Your love has encircled me, squeezing out all else. It’s embrace, both liberating and restricting.  Do I let myself get dragged down into the light or walk up into the shadows?

I want to run but as your hand claps mine, I know there is no way out.

Just different ways in.

*****

Thank you DP Challenge for another great prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/writing-challenge-1000-words/

Some words, photos, and a whole lot of ice

Welcome to the Weekly Writing Challenge. This is where WordPress gives provides a topic (In an Instagram) and bloggers do their best to respond.  Here is my two-cents worth:

Weekly Writing Challenge: Ice

“I can’t believe it’s still ice raining.” These were my first thoughts as I woke up one morning in January 1998. At the time I was living in Montreal and if you know anything about Montreal, you know that winters are harsh. However, it’s usually snow and that’s why I was so surprised to hear the ice pellets hitting our bedroom window for a second day in a row.

This was the beginning of the Ice Storm although at that time I didn’t know it, that’s why it amazes me I still remember that distinct thought about the weather.

At work that day (yes, there was still power) I listened to the radio and began to realize the severity of the storm. Soon everyone was talking about the weather. However, it was still business as usual. It wasn’t until my trip home that things changed for me. I exited the metro and took the bus down Monkland Avenue. Aside from the metro station, there was no power. The entire neighbourhood was in darkness. Power outages are not uncommon in Montreal but based on the news that day, we were all thinking Holy #$%&!

It sounds corny, but in that instant, I was humbled. In that instant I realized I was part of something big, something out of my control and something I was completely unprepared for. Things that yesterday were completely taken for granted now held great significance. How was I going to find my way up the stairs to my apartment door?  Once inside, then what? I don’t think we even owned a flashlight at that time. Candles, where were they? Matches?

Luckily, as the bus approached my building we began to see lights. Our apartment was at the corner of Monkland and Grand Avenue and for some unknown reason a few of the buildings had power. We were an island of light in a sea of darkness.

We took in some friends who were stranded because of a ski trip and we cooked hot meals for others remaining in their dark houses. We only lost power once for about 8 hours and I consider us extremely lucky.

It’s experiences like this though that makes you realize we are just small fish in a very very large pond.   My experience with the Ice Storm was mild compared to what a lot of people experience across the world, but that experience still lingers in my consciousness. Nearly fifteen years later, I still make sure I have candles and flashlights and enough non-perishable food to make it through a couple of days (it came in handy during the blackout of 2003).

One last thing before I share some photos with you, I am writing this in Word as the power has gone off in the neighbourhood and I have no internet access. Ironic? Perhaps, but I am at least prepared.

Right outside my office window.

Passing by a park.

Walking home from work. It took three hours.

Coming across live wires was a concern. This was a street right across from my apartment.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Kodachrome

In this weeks writing challenge, the friendly folk at the DPChallenge, provided a photo to which participants were to provide the story. If you read my blog postcardfiction then you know I do this weekly. However, this one proved to me more of a challenge than I originally anticipated. I usually rely heavily on metaphors derived from nature. This one was a family photo and I tried to be literal. Let me know what you think.

Kodachrome

Mom’s motto was ‘always go out looking your best’ even if your best was impractical for the event. Mom was the woman who wore heels to the park. She wore white gloves to walk the dog and pearls to cook dinner. If everyone looked perfect, then life was just that. Perfect.

Picture perfect.

Mom recorded our family life with her Kodak camera. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Birthdays. Each deserved one well framed shot of her well-dressed family, smiling their perfect smiles. Mom didn’t want the chaos and messes that came with families. She craved only the moments where people would walk into our house, look at our family portrait and say, “My, what a beautiful family.”

This photo, my favorite, taken on a chilly November day on our way to the Toronto Santa Claus parade, was not up to Mom’s high standards; never graced with one of her sterling silver frames.

It was the kind of morning where the chill nestled deep inside your bones and your breath was so frosty you’d pretend to blow smoke rings. And we were freezing. While our friends were dressed in snowsuits and wrapped in blankets, their mothers with thermoses of hot chocolate doling out mugs of warmth during the long wait, we were dressed in our Sunday best.

She had picked my pink outfit because she wanted to see it on film. A lot of thought had gone into this — the color which would best complement Dad and Michael’s grey and the boxwood hedge behind us. Spontaneity didn’t exist in her world. Yet, despite her meticulous planning, it didn’t quite go as planned. We are not smiling. Cold and frustrated, Mom asked for too much when she demanded we hold our breath so that we didn’t fog up our faces. Michael and I were at our limit but Dad held us there, squeezing our hands tightly, silently imploring us to let Mom get her way. He knew only too well what Mom was like when she didn’t.

With our photo behind us, we headed downtown by subway.  My legs, freezing, my feet, smarting, from last year’s patent leather shoes, I was content to just sit there and be warm.  Exiting, we were swept up into the crowd of excited, jovial Torontonians of all ages — everyone waiting for the floats and clowns and candy tossed to the children. It felt like the entire city was there. Jumping up to catch candy canes, Mom said I could collect them and put it in my purse for later so that I didn’t dirty my dress. Mike had to stuff his in his pockets, but since we arrived so late and were so far away from the road, no candy came our way.

As the first float slowly made it way down the street, Mike and I realized we couldn’t see a thing. Children screamed and cheered. I burst into tears. Dad looked at me, looked at Mom, then picked me up, oh so very high, and placed me on a large brick wall surrounding the University of Toronto. Then he picked up Michael too and placed him beside me. We were on top of the world. I could see Christmas. I could see magic. With a white glove, dirtied from the wall, I waved at Santa.

Later, when we returned home, we still had no hot chocolate or candy, but that photo…that memory… stands out in blazing kodachrome, in a childhood full of grey.

Weekly Writing Challenge: I was that kid

It’s time again for the Weekly Writing Challenge. The jumping off point this week is: How do you feel about kids being in adult-oriented places? For this challenge, I’ve decided to write an open letter to my parents because I was that kid, the one always brought by their parents to the most inappropriate places.

Dear Mom and Dad,

As I am now in my forties and raising kids of my own, I have run into some situations where I have to decide whether or not to take the kids. These situations remind me of my own childhood and I am quite certain that you had to make these same decisions at some point. While it is not exactly the same; I have three and you had one, as a parent I have to wonder what were you thinking?

Mom, Dad, I know you both like to say that you had to figure things out on you own. In fact Mom, what is that saying you have? Oh yes, “No one ever pulled me aside and told me.” Okay, well I’m telling you now about how I wish you had never taken me to the following places (better late than never).

  1. Fancy restaurants – As a youngster I was pretty flexible but even I had my limits. Growing up on limited British cuisine, I had pretty reserved tastes. Taking me to the french restaurant for your friend’s birthday dinner wasn’t a great idea. My culinary pallet was not ready to taste escargot and other offerings, so I sat there hungry and bored (surely you were aware that you were the only ones who brought there kid). Lets me pull you aside and tell you that: hungry + bored = 1 unhappy child.
  2. Any place requiring fancy clothes – Now sometimes it was necessary but did I really have to wear that baby-blue polyester pant-suit to fly to England in? I know you wanted me to look cute (this is the 70s remember) when we arrived in London but nothing spells discomfort like p-o-l–y-e-s-t-e-r. Sweaty and itchy for 7 hours, just what we all wanted. Don’t forget the patent leather shoes, since I only wore them once or twice a year, my feet were killing me. And the blisters. At least the pain took my mind off the itching.   So what can we learn here? Discomfort + itching = 1 restless child.
  3. Houses of single friends with wall to wall white carpeting and yappy dogs – Just because you were in kid mode, didn’t mean everyone was. Not all people are comfortable with kids, and that’s fine, but why torture both me and your friend? There was nothing like being told I couldn’t play, sit on the floor, have a snack, colour, or put my feet up on the couch (because I was terrified the dog was going to bite me) to really make me feel welcome. Here’s what I’m telling you:  Inactivity + tension = 1 whiny kid.
  4. Adult only parties – I know you’re not stupid but when it came to judging an appropriate party, you were in the corner with a dunce hat on. When the party started after my bed time, I’m not sure why you chose to take me along. As always I’d be the only kid, and looking back, I can just imaging the host’s eyes rolling when I trailed in behind you. With nothing to do and no one to talk to, I’d just sit in a chair and watch you and your friends get drunk. Good times. If I started to fall asleep I’d be carried up to some strangers bedroom and placed to sleep on the stack of coats piled on the water-bed (remember, it was the 70s). The best part of the night would be when I was woken up and placed into the back seat of the freezing cold car while Dad (who drove better after a few drinks) drove us home.  Over-tired + cold = 1 meltdown.
  5. Art galleries – I was not an artistic protegé nor old enough to understand “look but don’t touch.” As a child, I preferred museums and science centres which are much more kid friendly. Believe me, I am not ungrateful for being taken to the Louvre (and in this situation I do understand that you had no access to baby-sitting) but it’s not a fond memory and I didn’t get anything out of it other than being able to say I’ve been to the Louvre.   It wasn’t fun and I could sense I was making the security edgy (understandably so, as kids like to touch things and get up close). There was also the time factor. My attention span for looking at a painting was significantly less than than yours. I spent a lot of time waiting around.  Now, I can see why you were so frustrated with me but what I’m trying to tell you is that: lack of interest + waiting around = 1 bored child
  6. Really long movies targeted at adults – Remember watching Ghandi?  It is a really long movie. It’s also slow paced and political. Try sitting through it as a kid. Too much sitting + unengaging movie = 1 fidgety kid.

Mom, Dad, I’m certainly not a perfect parent, but wouldn’t it have been nice for you both to have some time to yourselves? To relax and just be a couple without worrying about me? I love my kids dearly but I also treasure moments alone with my husband. And lets face it, when your out and your child is badly behaving, it makes it tough for everyone around you and no one ends up having a good time which defeats the purpose of the night out.

So the next time I ask you to babysit, don’t say I never pulled you aside and told you why.

Your loving daughter,

Janet

Now this is more like it.

Weekly Writing Challenge : White is Waiting

What a better way to kick off my first post on this blog than with the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge.  This week the friendly folks at wordpress are looking to inspire bloggers with the theme of color.  As a writer who is inspired by images, I thought it would be easy an easy task to write about color, be inspired by color, or use it as a metaphor.  But then I went to begin my first post here and all I could see was white.  Plain ol’ white.  A blank canvas impatiently waiting for me to paint a picture in words.

No pressure.

White! Intimidating white! Oh how you haunt me.  You have such a disquieting effect: my fingers and my mind are frozen in fear. You inhabit both my day and my dreams.

Look at you, so pure and clean, do I dare sully you with a poor word choice or grammatical error? With an over-the-top metaphor?

What do I do? Where do I begin?

But wait.  Is there not more to white than emptiness?  Is white not the effect of combining colors?  Not just any old colors, but the colors of the rainbow?  What inspires possibilities like the magic of a rainbow? Beautiful and dazzling. So intense!

Oh white – I’ve been so wrong about you.  What could be more unique than a snow flake, sweeter than sugar, majestic as a cloud?

You are not to be feared — you are to be welcomed. You are an inspiration. With you, white, anything is possible.

So here’s to my new blog and to all those bloggers out there who face the empty white page – embrace it and the possibilities are endless!