Friday, March 28, 2014

Things people don't touch

Write a list titled, “Things people don’t touch.”

Obvious things:
A hot stove
Burning coals
Dog poop
My ex-husband’s feet
The wind
A rainbow
Your shadow
A tongue to a frozen pole
Art in a museum

Things I don’t touch:
Too strong emotions
Optimism (why change a good thing)
My 401K retirement

I'm sure there are lots of things that people don't touch. For some reason, this exercise didn't touch my creativity!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tenth lap

Write a scene that involves a shallow lake and a margarita.

Maria swam a few more laps in the shallow lake, counting the strokes to know when to turn back; twenty five strokes up, twenty five strokes back. Was this the seventh or the eighth lap? She couldn’t remember, decided it was the eighth and prepared herself to do two more. It was early in the season, so ten laps was about all she could manage; as the season progressed she would either increase to twenty laps, or change the stroke count to fifty up, fifty back. That was the nice thing about swimming in the lake, you just swim parallel to the shore and you could swim as many strokes as you like. When she was younger she liked to swim out into the middle of the lake, but as she got older she had learned that it was better to be closer to the shore in case a cramp came on or a boat came unexpectedly around the corner and into her cove.

She swam out twenty five strokes, then turned around to swim back, slowing down to a breast stroke and surveying the surroundings. The sun was starting to go down and the cove was starting to darken from the lengthening shadows of the trees and hills surrounding the cove. Overhead, the buzzards were circling lazily, looking for scavenge, or perhaps waiting for Maria to drown. A blue heron had flown in to the cove sometime around her fourth lap, and Maria was captivated by its grace and beauty. She knew the large bird would fly away as soon as she came out of the water, but for now it was lovely to look at and Maria felt that it’s presence added a sense of serenity to her late afternoon swim.

At twenty five strokes she turned, this time swimming a side stroke, facing in towards the shore, when suddenly the heron startled and opened its large wings and flapped up and away. Maria lost count of her strokes as she turned back to see what had startled the bird, and just then she saw Frank coming down the trail towards her, carrying a small ice chest in one hand and a bag chair slung over his shoulder.

By the time she swam over to the edge and climbed out of the water, Frank had set up his chair next to hers and was pulling two plastic bottles from the ice chest. “I know you don’t like to drink beer right after your swim,” he said to her, shivering as she pressed her wet body against his back and neck, “so I brought you a Margarita instead!”

“Kind of defeats the purpose of the exercise,” Maria mentioned, though the grin on her face belied the gruffness of her tone. She took the bottle he proffered to her, twisting the top off and clicked her bottle against his. “But it was very clever of you to put it into water bottles.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

La Sagrada Familia

Write a scene using the words pint, bristle, and Jehovah.

Light streamed in through the stained glass windows, highlighting the walls and the columns in bright radiant colors. The light filled the cathedral with a sense of Jehovah God’s presence; or so it seemed to Rebekkah, despite the crowd of tourists who gawked and stared and snapped pictures with their expensive cameras. Rebekkah couldn’t blame them, the Sagrada Familia really was incredible, inspiring a hushed reverence even to the most ardent atheist, who came to worship the architecture if not the God it was built for.

Rebekkah tried to make herself invisible as she cleaned up a mess a small child had made at the back of the Apse, quickly and efficiently sweeping up the crumbs and trying not to bristle at the people streaming by, oblivious to her pint sized body. It only took her a moment to complete her task and disappear into the hidden passage that went down into the workers quarters, which most people didn’t even know existed. It seemed there were just as many people down here as there were upstairs, only these were not tourists but staff workers and laymen that kept the place running.

Rebekkah was still amazed at how many people were employed here, from the architects to the sculptors, carpenters, stonemasons and bricklayers, electricians and metal workers, crane operators and scaffolding assemblers, not to mention the cleaning staff and the gardeners, the visitor guides and security. It was an exciting place to work, and she loved the high energy of the workers and the tourists alike.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fish Eyes

Write about a memory you have about fish.

She was crying again!

The little girl couldn't understand why the new baby cried so much and why she had to have so much attention. Every time the baby cried, Mommy stopped whatever she was doing to go check on the new baby. If Mommy was playing with the little girl, she would tell her to go watch the fish swimming in the aquarium until Mommy came back.

The little girl loved watching the fish swim, they were pretty to look at and it was fun to watch the fish dive to the bottom and then soar back up to the top. Sometimes they came up to the glass and peered out at her. She liked how she could see her reflection in the glass, too. She tried to see her own reflection while looking at the fish, but it was hard to do except when she crossed her eyes, which just gave her a headache, and anyway she was tired of looking at the fish.

This time when the baby had started to cry and Mommy left the room, the little girl had been playing with her brother, who was playing with a rubber hammer pounding blocks together.

“Do you want to try?” her brother asked, holding out the hammer to the slightly older girl.

“Ok,” she accepted the toy and banged it against the block a few times, trying to drown out the sound of the baby’s cries.

“Mommy said to watch the fish,” little brother reminder her and she looked over at the aquarium, it’s glass showing a reflection of the two kids sitting on the floor with a pile of blocks.

She got up and peered into the aquarium, watching the fish swim up and down, up and down, while the baby cried and cried and she could hear Mommy singing a lullaby trying to make the baby stop.

She held her hands up to her ears to try to shut out the sound, but because she was still holding the hammer she hit herself in the head. Urgh, she wished that baby would stop crying! The fish came up to the glass and peered out at her, and for just an instance she thought she could see her own reflection at the same time she was seeing the fish. She wondered what the fish would do if she touched the glass with the hammer, but she never expected what happened next, when the glass cracked with the soft impact and the water began seeping down its side.

Only now it wasn't the baby who was crying, but little brother as well, and then Mommy came back, and she wasn’t singing a lullaby any more.

Max, the intrepid hunter

Write from the point of view of a cat at night.

I am Max, the intrepid hunter; fearless and brave. I hunt for my food when it gets dark, prowling in the light of the moon. My eyes are keen and sharp, my senses alert to the slightest of movement. I remember seeing evidence of mice over here by the well shed, I will lay in wait until they think it is safe to venture out and then I will pounce! They will never know what took them, for I am Max, the intrepid hunter, fearless and brave! Oh my, what was that? What is that sound? Is that a raccoon? It’s loud and I think it is coming closer. Run, Max, run for the deck, find a hiding place, where, where? Yes, here, they’ll never find me under the BBQ, with the thick, dark cover. I will be safe here, until the raccoon is gone, and then I will go out again. For I am Max, the intrepid hunter! Fearless and brave.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Write about your best friend when you were sixteen years old

By the time I was sixteen, I had moved from California to New Jersey to Montana, was living in a two bedroom house (if you count the attic) in the town of Hamilton with my Mom, three brothers, and a little sister. Having moved so often, I had become afraid to make new friends, not sure when I would have to move again. I was also quite insecure and had very poor social skills.

I had two friends. Peggy and Berta. I don’t think they liked each other as much as I liked either of them, but they tolerated each other if we were together. Mostly, I hung out with one or the other, but not often both at the same time.

Peggy had her horse and I remember riding with her from her house to my house; I don’t remember how we went, if there were trails that crossed the country or if we actually rode down the highway. I suppose there were country trails that we took. I just remember having her horse in the backyard and it stepped on my foot. I was always afraid of horses and this just sealed the deal for me and horses from that point forward. I think Peggy and I had a falling out over some boy; I made such bad choices when it came to boys that I’m sure my behavior disgusted her and eventually she moved on to safer friends.

Berta wanted to be a cosmetologist and liked to fashion my hair. I loved it when she did that, because I had no idea how do to such things for myself. When she wasn’t fixing my hair we liked to play cards, our favorite was a game called speed (or spit). Berta liked to drink while we played cards. She had a flask that she kept stashed and by the end of the afternoon when it was time for her to go home she would be quite high. I didn’t like to drink, I preferred to smoke pot, which she didn’t, and so we would get high together in our own separate ways. Eventually her parents put her in to rehab and I never saw her again.

Mostly my best friends were my brothers. We hung out together like a tight fisted gang. They had friends and their friends became my friends. Charlie and Alan and Wade are the ones I remember the most. Mom was at work during the day and our house was close to the high school and so it became a natural hangout after school, an unsupervised place to drink and smoke and generally goof off.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wake up!

Write from the point of view of a dog in an apartment.

Oh dog, I have to pee again! When is she going to wake up? Maybe if I poke my nose in her face, she’ll be happy to see me and she’ll scratch my ear. My ear itches soooo bad! When is she going to wake up? I’m hungry, I wonder if there’s any food left in my dish? There is! Oh yay, mmm, num num. Oh dog, I still have to pee! I should go see if she is awake yet. Wake up, wake up! Can’t you feel my nose pressing against your hand? Maybe I should lick your face. No don’t swat me away, wake up! Wake up! Oh! Hello! Your eyes are open now, you’re awake. Dog, I hate it when I smack my tail against the table, but I just can’t help it, I’m so happy you’re awake! Won’t you scratch my ear? Oh yes, just there! Oh yes, I love you, I love you! Oh dog, I have to pee!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A ray of light

Write about a time you were surrounded by leaves.

The forest floor was wet with dew, little droplets falling silently off the ferns and other plants to land among the mulch, where small puddles had formed at the base of the large sycamore trees. The sun was just rising, though it was yet dark and quiet among the trees of the forest. The cicadas and crickets had long since stilled their night song, and the nocturnal creatures had ceased their prowling and returned to the hidden places where they slept.

As the sun slowly ascended, birds awoke and began to fill the forest with chittering and chirping, flittering from tree to tree and perching high above the forest floor, where the leaves were beginning to illuminate with phosphorescent transparency. The green luminescence of the leaves stood out in stark contrast to the dark shade of the limbs and trunks and ground cover below the leaves, and glowed with a radiance that seemed to shine like magic.

As the sun continued to rise, streams of light filtered in between the trees to land in bright swaths of sunlight that battled the darkness of night and bathed the forest floor in glory, highlighting the birds and the squirrels that danced among the light, and reflected within the dew drops like the sparkling of diamonds.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Young Love

Write a scene where the narrator observes two people getting engaged. The couple does not know that they are being watched.

He sat on the park bench under the shade of a large cypress tree, enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and watching the ocean crash on the beach. He could hear children laughing in the distance, playing in the water or in the sand; and occasionally a seabird sang out as it flew by over head. On the sidewalk behind him a couple of teen aged girls skated past, chattering gaily with each other about nonsensical things, clothed only in short shorts and bathing suit tops.

In his day, girls would not be allowed out of their house in such skimpy dress; but his day was long ago and his daughter, and grand-daughters after, had broken him of his old fashioned notion of proper attire, and so the thought only frowned briefly across his bearded, smile-worn face. Thoughts of his daughter inevitably brought thoughts of his wife and he allowed himself a moment to walk down memory lane, remembering her sweet temperament and ready smile that had graced his days for more than fifty years. How he missed his Betsy!

It seemed as if his memories were being played out before his very eyes, for just then he witnessed a young man and woman walking towards him on the beach, hand in hand as he and Betsy had done so often in their youth. They seemed oblivious to everything except each other, and as the old man watched, they stopped and embraced each other, gazing into the others face with an intensity that seemed to exclude all else. They were too far away to hear what they were saying, but the old man could just imagine the words, for it was this very spot where he himself had professed his love for the wonderful woman who had become his wife. And sure enough, as if on cue, the young man took hold of his girl’s hand while at the same time pulling something out of a pocket and went down on one knee. Her exclamation of surprise and affirmation was not too far away to hear, and the old man smiled in wonder and delight as she flung her arms around her fiancĂ©’s neck, just as Betsy had done when he had asked her the same question, all those years ago.

They kissed they way young lovers do, the way he and his Betsy had done; and,as the kiss deepened, he sent a prayer out for this young couple to be blessed with the same kind of steadfast love that had carried him and his Betsy through fifty years of passion and hardship and joy. The diamond sparkled in the sunlight as she placed his ring on her finger, holding it out to admire it on her hand as they walked past the old man, dazzled by the promise of a bright, colorful future.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stomp your feet

Today’s writing prompt is to write a scene about opening a present:

Bill came in to the garage, stomping the dust and dirt off his feet as he always did; then entered the house through the mud room, pausing to turn the stereo on and press the multi button which would project the music through all the rooms in the house. Alan Jackson was singing “country boy” and Bill found himself doing a bit of a jig as he passed through the kitchen and into the living room. When he didn’t find Peggy there, he continued on to the back of the house, where he found her brushing her hair and primping in front of the mirror.

“Casey’s back,” Bill told her.

“Ok, I’m almost done. Are you going to change your clothes, too?”

“I will, but I want to see Kimberly first,” he replied, feeling silly about feeling excited about seeing his daughter.

It had been almost two years since his youngest daughter had decided to live with her mom full time, and he missed her more than he knew how to express. She’d only been to the house a few handful of times since then and her absence had left an ache in his heart that rarely went away. The only thing that came close to healing the ache was the presence of his eldest daughter, Casey, who had decided to live full time with her dad when Kimberly had moved out. He was so proud of Casey, and so thankful for her presence in the evenings after work when he would otherwise be alone. She came home from work on weeknights and shared the antics of her day with him, obviously enjoying her dad’s company and trying to fill the hole that Kimberly had left behind.

But Kimberly was here now, and while he was thrilled to be seeing her, he couldn’t help think about the bittersweet irony of it all.

The party they were having was to celebrate Casey’s new job and new life; she was moving to San Francisco to live with her boyfriend next week. Casey was all grown up and leaving home and Bill tried not to think of the ache her leaving was going to do to his heart.

He turned to leave the bedroom, but Peggy caught up with him before he reached the door, putting an arm around his waist and turning him back to her for a hug and a kiss. “Happy Birthday,” she said, smiling at him, even though his birthday wasn’t until Monday. She tried hard to make him know this party was to celebrate him as much as it was to celebrate his daughter and he appreciated the effort. He hugged her back and gave her bottom a squeeze, then headed off down the hallway to see his daughters.

“Happy Birthday, Dad,” Kimberly greeted him with a bright, tentative smile, and he tried not to rush forward too quickly or hug her too tightly; though he only let her go when she squirmed at bit and pat patted his back.

“I brought a present for you,” she said, holding out a large gift bag with lots of colored tissue paper, which he took from her just as Casey and Peggy also joined them in the kitchen.

“Hmm, you smell nice,” Peggy said to Kimberly as she gave the slim girl a tight hug, then nodded towards the bag Bill was holding, and Bill knew that Peggy was trying to make light of the fact that she too was just as thrilled to have Kimberly here as Bill was. “What’ve you got there?”

“Kimberly brought me a present,” Bill beamed, ruffling through the tissue paper and pulling out a large tissue wrapped object. He unwrapped it slowly, trying to savor the fact that his youngest daughter was in his kitchen again, and that she had remembered his birthday, wondering what token she would have bought for the occasion. It was a wooden sign, and as he unwrapped it and turned it over to see what it said, his heart constricted in his chest and his throat tightened with emotion as he read:

“COWBOYS, scrape your feet before entering”

“Oh, that’s perfect!” Peggy and Casey exclaimed together as Bill registered the words and the sentiment.

“I know just where this goes.” Bill hugged his daughter again, and all his girls followed him out to the garage,where he fumbled around looking for a nail and a hammer, giving himself time to compose himself before turning back and hanging the sign next to the garage entrance where just a short while before he had stomped the dust and the dirt off his feet.

As they stood back and admired the sign, Kimberly said, with an impish grin, “I wanted it to say ‘stomp’ your feet,” and then she shrugged and grinned, “cause that’s what you taught us to do when we got home.”

And together, they stomped their feet and turned and went into the house.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hide and go seek

The prompt today is to write a scene that involves an annoying relative

"Oh, no" Amanda muttered under her breath as her little brother entered the living room where Amanda was lying on the couch, watching cartoons.

"Do you want to play cards with me?" Bobby asked, "we could play go fish or war?"

"No, Bobby, not now. I just got home from school and I just want to be alone."

Bobby was only three and had not yet started school. He spent all day at home alone with Mrs. Thompson, and by the time Amanda got home from kindergarten, Bobby was bored and looking forward to playing with Amanda.

They went through this every day. Amanda loved her brother, but when she first got home from school she liked to have some time to herself.

Bobby flung himself on the ground in front of the TV, but he quickly lost interest in the cartoon and turned around and was looking at her. "We could have a staring contest," Bobby suggested, his big brown eyes opened wide and gazing intently into hers.

"No, Bobby! I just want to watch TV!" The Animaniacs were on and she loved their funny antics, and she didn't want to be bothered with her little brother. But Bobby continued staring at her, and it was hard to ignore him as his face scrunched up from trying not to blink. "Stop staring at me!" she demanded, hoping he would just go away.

"Stop staring at me!" Bobby mimicked in a sing song voice, still staring at her, though she noticed he had blinked several times already.

"We could play hide and go seek!" Bobby suggested, and Amanda thought that was a great idea!

"Okay, Bobby! You go hide and I'll come find you," Amanda smiled benignly at the naive little boy, shooing him out of the living room and slowly starting to count.

Creative Energy

Once upon a time, I used to love to write. I would write every day, usually just journal type entries that exercised my brain by writing about the days events and how I felt about those events. Somehow I got out of that habit, and found myself writing less and less. I became more circumspect about my writings, privately concerned about who might read and misinterpret my thoughts.

I turned to writing poetry and for several years I almost always was able to write a poem every week. Eventually that ended when I discovered a passion for painting and I focused my creative energy on that outlet. My painting has slowed down, because I have gone back to school to get a BS in IT Management and it takes up most of my spare time. I still paint, though not as often as I would like. iPaint

In the meantime, I find myself with pent up creative energy.

My sister recently began writing poetry and posting it at the SpeakEasy where people are challenged to write flash fiction (750 words or less) based on weekly prompts. This really got me excited, because I used to love to write creative fiction and somehow I had gotten out of that habit.

The first few weeks after being turned on to this site, I simply read the posts and let them incubate within my psyche. Then I started to think about how I would respond to the prompt, but still didn't attempt to put thought to paper. Last week I decided to give it a go, but only came up with about 150 words and couldn't come up with a story line. This week I actually came up with 592 words, but the challenge ended before I could bring my story to a conclusion.

I am so out of practice!

So then, I discovered a site that offers daily writing prompts, with the challenge to write about the prompt for 10 minutes a day. I thought to myself, this might be just what I need to get myself in the practice of writing every day. This could be the outlet for my creative energy, and at any rate it could inspire me to write again!

I'm gonne give it a go.

Wish me luck!