Monthly Archives: September 2016

FF -Tidy Mind

Today’s impressive photo from Amy Reese put me in mind of a few things – the line from My Own Private Idaho about “I’ve been tasting roads my whole life…”; that bit in Scandal with Huck; and lastly the massive amount of storage we now use in the West. I’ve read some incredible stats about just how much space and money we dedicate to things we no longer want in our homes but can’t bring ourselves to get rid of. I’m minimalising at home right now, and the purge feels good even though the decisions aren’t always easy.

Ultimately, my story isn’t exactly about any of these things. I hope it makes sense – it was one of those that would have appreciated 200 words, but hopefully still works as it is. Your thoughts are very welcome.


Tidy mind

Alice leaned on the box and taped it closed. Packing was always such a release. Tidy house, tidy mind, as Jack would say.
Steve arrived from Big Yellow and put it in his pick-up. “Alright, Mrs A?”
She smiled and waved. He was a nice boy was Steve; always polite. Make a nice husband for her daughter, she thought, if the girl would just smile.

“Where’s the cutlery gone, Mum?” Sarah asked that evening. “And my plates?”
“I’m decluttering,” said Alice, emerging from Sarah’s bedroom with a heavy bag. “You don’t want all this stuff kicking around when I’m gone.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

So proud…

I’m going to brag now. If you don’t like Mummy brags or you simply have no interest, please look away now. I’d feel bad about it, but I’m bursting with pride over my little hero and I want to shout it from the rooftops.
This morning, I woke him early, even before his gro-clock was awake, and drove him across town to the start line before he even had breakfast to join the 4th Annual

#WALKFORSICKKIDS. Breakfast was provided at Main Camp, then we set off walking.

Chance, and a very distracting train line, meant we were towards the back of the crowd from virtually the off. Participants of all ages joined the challenge – which was to walk anything up to 20km around the streets of Toronto, with activity ‘campsites’ and the chance to catch the bus back to home base every 2.5km – but Sebastian was by far the youngest I saw not to have a stroller or wagon to ride in.
We arrived at the 2.5km Camp with the trailing pack. It was there that we first met the “marshmallow men”, two guys on bicycles who were the caboose for the group, in charge of rounding up stragglers and making sure nobody fell by the wayside. They had sticks stuck to their helmets with marshmallows skewered and ready for toasting, and candy in their pockets to revive struggling participants. I wish I’d taken a picture; they were a real highlight for us both.
I had originally intended to do 5km. Even that felt like a big challenge for a little boy. He’s had a bad cold and a bout of croup in the last two weeks. Seven days ago, it was touch and go whether he’d be able to do this walk at all. A few blocks before the 5km Campsite, the Marshmallow men caught up with us and a couple of other families, and passed out lollipops to all the small people. Our support crew – Jon and Dominic – were at the campsite to greet us. The line for the bus was long and it was clear that anyone still at the campsite wasn’t going on, but when I asked Sebastian, he was cheerful and enthusiastic … and adamant he wanted to continue.
Jon and Dominic left us to get lunch. The 2.5km from Sick Kids Hospital to Riverdale Farm were long. We saw almost no other participants, the cheerleaders had all moved further up the route and the Marshmallow Men cheerfully waited for us at a few major intersections, but I encouraged them not to abandon the rest of the field on our account. But although they were slow, they were fun. Sebastian chased pigeons in a park, we sang songs and I danced (“Mummy, stop dancing!”), we talked about everything under the sun. We were in no rush, we were enjoying a walk through our city, and occasionally a stranger would come up to ask us what it was all about, having seen crowds passing through ahead of us.
At Parliament and Carlton, Jon and Dominic spotted us from their bus home and joined in the last few hundred metres. Sebastian is a happy boy, but it’s almost impossible to get him to smile for the camera… even looking at the camera is often a push. And yet every photo from today has him beaming. At 7.5km, I called time because he had already totally exceeded expectations and I had a feeling neither the activities nor the buses back to Main Camp would be running by the time we made it to Camp 10km. I’m pretty sure Sebastian would have signed up for more if he could!
We raised nearly $800 (you can still sponsor us here if you want to increase that!). We walked almost non-stop from 9am till 1.30pm and I’ll admit, my feet ache. A woman I met on the bus back said she’d done 17,500 steps. Sebastian’s stride length must be less than half hers, so he easily topped 30,000 steps today. Most of all, we had fun, took it at our own pace and for once didn’t have to rush or bustle or hurry anywhere.
I’m grateful to all our sponsors, to our support team, and to the patient, supportive Marshmallow Men. But most of all, I’m incredibly proud of my little hero.


Filed under Uncategorized

FF – Exceptionally Beautiful

This morning, I met my son’s toddler gymnastics teacher. She smiled and said, with honest enthusiasm, “You look exceptionally beautiful today.” I am desperately tired, wrestling a cold myself and two children who have also got it and have entirely forgotten how to sleep at night, at least in their own beds. It will pass, we will get through it, but hearing “You look ex…” my brain completed it with “…hausted.”

I could barely keep my eyes open. The short walk to class felt like a mountain climb. I looked exhausted. But apparently the top I had chosen at random from the drawer this morning – one which I love and which is in a colour that I’ve always thought suits me – meant I looked something else too.

I’m not writing this out of pride or self-pity. I’m grateful not just for the compliment, but for the reminder – we can be many things all at once. It’s better to focus on the good ones!


Exceptionally Beautiful

Pin-pricks of light scattered across the ceiling. Annalise thought about the star-cloth backdrop they’d had at their wedding. It was a silly thing to focus on, especially today. Light was just light, after all. Thomas was lying in a box in the next room, and people were filing past shaking her hand or putting arms around her and saying things in hushed tones that she couldn’t hear.

The stairs swept up around her and she briefly wondered where they led. What happens on the second floor of a crematorium?

But more, she focused on the light. It was exceptionally beautiful.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

FF – From The Ground Up

A week or so ago, I revisited an old FF story from September 2015. It was one I felt had more mileage at the time, but never had chance to expand. This week, I couldn’t tell exactly what the prompt picture (copyright Shaktiki Sharma) showed, but a couple of elements caught my eye and the story and character which emerged reminded me of Lauren. So here she is again, probably a little before Gerry put in an appearance, getting to grips with a change of circumstances.


From The Ground Up

What she’d stand on had always mattered to Lauren.

“Flooring matters” she’d say, poking at seventies carpet or yellow lino as her Grandmother might a stained tablecloth.

“It’s not like we have to eat off it.” Ian, ever pragmatic, had insisted only that there was a floor, never mind the style or state of it.

She picked a stale chip off the cardboard carpet now and gnawed on it. Freedom had its advantages, but home comforts weren’t among them. He’d kept it all when she left – stone inlay and subfloor-heating were as wasted on him as she had been.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

FF – Cleanliness Above All

Sandra Crook provided this week’s photograph. I’ve wondered some way from it, and not in the direction I originally started, with my story below. Your comments are welcome.


Cleanliness Above All

Initially, Simeon hoped Elenora might be an ally. “I don’t approve of slavery,” she said. “I have an honest, local girl myself.”

But it transpired “local” meant English and as for “honest”, the maid was apt to pilfer coins to buy ribbon, and would be dismissed once a replacement could be imported.

“I like to know her hands are clean.” Elenora flicked a suspicious glance at the pristine plate set before her. “And she speaks the language.”

Later, his wife admired Elenora’s white dress.

“Presumably the cotton was picked by the only English plantation worker on the island,” Simeon thought.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing