The Lighthouse

solitude + inspiration

11 March 2015

In which I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

I witnessed something shocking yesterday, and it is a sign of our times that what I witnessed did shock me.

I was driving the back roads yesterday afternoon, baby-drunk from having held sweet little Beauty in my arms for an hour when I noticed the car ahead of me weaving. (Editor's note: being baby-drunk is not an impairment to safe driving habits.)  Nothing too alarming, just a gentle - but consistent - swoop from one side of his lane to another, like a somnolent version of pong. It didn't concern me too much because he stayed inside his lines and he was good about coming to a complete stop at the stop signs, and he slowed to 50 when we went through the village.  That lawful attention to the speed limit is a clue, by the way. It would be a detail Hercule Poirot would tell his assembled audience as he unfolded the solving of the crime, but they wouldn't have paid attention to it, thinking it an unnecessary detail.  Pay attention, dear reader! It is a clue.

After a four-way stop, just as I cleared the intersection behind him, his window rolled down, and out went a cigarette butt. (I'm sorry, Reader, if you are a smoker, but smoking is a filthy habit. Gum up your lungs if you must, but please don't huddle in front of public doorways so the rest of us must pass through the miasma of smoke... and please don't toss your ends on the sidewalk!  It is garbage, so throw them in the garbage!) (Oops, sidetrack!)  The cigarette hitting the road was the moment when I gasped in shock - though a mild, almost-amused version of shock. And then I scolded him. He probably didn't hear me because we were in separate cars and all, but I couldn't help myself. I even shook my finger at him. My father would have been proud of me, as he was a champion finger-shaker.  And then, a beer can flew out of his window! A beer can! At four in the afternoon! Right out the window! The nerve, the gall, the brass of the guy, first of all to be drinking beer while driving, but most of all that he just opened his window and let the can fly, for all to see, like he didn't care who knew he was drinking and driving.  But more than that - he was littering and driving!

So there I put the pieces together: his gentle wandering within his lane, the oh-so-careful complete stops, and the close attention to the decreased speed zones. The man was drunk. Clearly he didn't know he was littering.

Get this: this morning I witnessed it again. Oh, not the drinking and driving, thank goodness as the sun had barely cleared the horizon. No, a man ahead of me pitched first a large bundle of crumpled fast food restaurant napkins and then a paper cup right out into the middle of a busy four-lane city street. I was not amused. No, this time I was angry. I considered taking a photo of his licence plate and sending it to the police with a detailed account of his crime. I thought about following him to his destination in order to berate him. Then I wondered if a loud honk of the horn would adequately communicate my utter disgust at his behaviour. By that point he'd pulled over into a left-turn lane, and as I drove up alongside him, I noticed the complete Pig-Penian state of his vehicle: pizza boxes on the rear window ledge, newspapers and other clutter on the dashboard piled so high I could barely see him. He probably didn't have anywhere to put the napkins and cup but the street. If he'd tried to add it to the landfill inside his car, the doors would have given way and everything would have exploded outward like a jack-in-the-box.

Canadians are no more or less human than humans found in other countries. Yet my belief, whether based on fact or the opinions of visitors from away, is that Canada is a fairly tidy country. In general our cities are clean and the country-side free of trash. We've been taught in our schools to "give a hoot, don't pollute!" and "don't be a litterbug", and to recycle everything, even the kitchen sink - to the point that it is now nearly the most heinous crime most of us will witness in our real lives (apart from watching tv, that is) so vile and unconscionable does it strike us.

This was brought home to me when I watched a season or two of Mad Men. As you know, it's about a man who stole another man's identity, lies, cheats, and works with lying, cheating, womanizers who spend their work day drinking scotch and smoking cigarettes. All of that I took in stride. Oh, Don, that philanderer, I'd think to myself, prepared to excuse his infidelity and explain away his lies.  But then in one episode he did something I just cannot forgive him for.  He took his family on a picnic to a lovely green park, and when they left, they left behind their garbage!  Right there in the open! He didn't even look for a garbage can!

I was shocked!  Shocked, I tell you. I gave up any hope of his redemption at that point.

04 March 2015

The month that was: February

Oh dear.  The numbers are grim, but for the sake of accountability, here they are:

Blog posts: 2

Books read: 11

Writing elsewhere: 2

Crocheted baby blankets: 1

Brand new baby nieces: 1 !!

The Family of Nuts have added one to their number. Baby Girl Nut was born at the close of the most difficult February since... well, ever, really, and with her arrival has wiped away all the grim leaving only joy and gratitude.

Imagine a family of five boisterous, enthusiastically boyish boys. Imagine those boys having a very boisterous, enthusiastically boyish dad, and a mother who has surrendered any hope of bringing even a touch of pink into the house.

Now imagine into that family comes the most adorable, the loveliest, the sweetest little girl ever, and you must also imagine that 6 very boisterous, enthusiastically boyish hearts melting into 6 puddles of tenderness.

Also imagine one very smitten aunt.  I am in love with this little Peanut.

So, babies and winter.  That's what I've been up to this February.

21 February 2015

Getting bloggy with it

On many occasions in the past while I've thought to myself: "Oh, I should blog that." but then, of course, I don't.  I'm really good with the brilliant ideas and less brilliant with the execution of them.

I've decided to focus more on my own writing instead of writing prompts. They work wonderfully to get the rusty machine moving again, but I have so little time to give to writing that I've been able to only do the prompts. There are two tentatively begun stories I'm going to pursue plus an idea for a children's book I'd like to tackle.  Wish me luck!  (Or send me glue to keep me in my seat. Either one.)


It is Murphy's Law in a library that a patron will not approach the counter until they see you sit down.  They will not come in out of the cold unless they know you've been up at the counter for a while, waiting for someone to need your assistance and have just sat down at your desk to work on that pesky ILLO you can't seem to track down. That's when they'll come. Oh, that Murphy, he's such a card!


I despise the term 'hubby'.  Despise it.  It makes me cringe every single time I hear it or read it.  Men seldom get the encouragement and affirmation they need in this crazy world, let's not diminish them even more with cutsie, dismissive language!


My word, it is cold.  I don't just mean 'It's winter, so of course it's not warm', but full-on, hard-core, they'll-find-me--stuck-to-my-front-door-in-the-spring cold.


I've given up wasting time for Lent, by which I mean I've given up being on facebook and other such temptations.  It's going great so far... I've only climbed the walls once!


I gave in. I've been reading Jane Austen fan fiction.  Jane, you see, wrote only so many books, and one can only read them again and again so many times in one calendar year, so what's a poor girl to do?  
She reads badly written Jane Austen knock-offs, apparently.
To be fair, some of them have been not only interesting, but well-written.  Some of them, though, like the one I tried this morning, have Lizzy 'cackling'.  Cackling!  Would Jane Austen ever have one of her character cackle? I ask you!  The author blurb of this farce informs us that she has been a teacher of the English language for years and years. I can't help wondering if in all those years she has escaped learning what the word 'cackle' means, or noticing that only evil step-mothers do it?
The author is also preoccupied with 'chin lines'.  Every other page she describes someone's chin line.  It's stubborn or pensive or is being caressed. Have you ever come across that phrase before?


Here are a few recent CTKS:
Busy making paper crowns and rings of power, Five was testing out one particular ring creation. Taking it off, he showed it to his mom for her appreciation. When she duly admired it, he said, "It's for you, mom, you can have it."  She praised him for his generosity, to which he replied, "That's ok... it wasn't working for me, anyway."

Asked by an adult what he wanted to be when he grew up, Five replied, "Myself, of course. What do  you suppose?"

08 February 2015

The month that was : January

Month in review: January

It's no good resolving to do a thing and then not being accountable for doing the thing.  I've resolved to spend more time being creative this year, particularly reading more, writing with more focus, and doing the crafty things that bring me contentment. As for accountability, I think my successes and failures displayed here gives me very little room to hide.  I know this is of no interest to readers; it is for my own motivation.

14 books read
8 Lighthouse posts
5 articles written elsewhere
1 nearly-finished baby blanket
0 time given to a percolating story idea

Mr. Jellyfish

Five Sentence Fiction from Lillie McFerrin Writes.
This week's prompt word is 'villainous'.

I first had visions of villains in black masks leaning over damsels tied to railway tracks.  But then I experienced a jellyfish in human form which felt much more villainous, and tried to put into words what the encounter was like. I tried it as a story but it remained fragments that I've assembled into a sort-of-poem.

He floats along on currents of impulse,
No hint of intent or purpose.
Though he seems so benign, approachable,
His words sting where they land like a tentacle.
When I try to describe him
I know there's something he's hiding
'Cuz he's shifty and shapeless -
It's hopeless.
He tries to draw me in
With his charm and a grin
But it's nothing, it's empty -
I'm prey.
I try to be small, not moving at all
'Till he decides I'm no fun and moves on.

30 January 2015

Of bedtime, and all times: Five Sentence Fiction

From Lillie McFerrin Writes, comes Five Sentence Fiction: it's about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist.  This week's prompt is 'Bedtime'; here is my response:

Lillie McFerrin Writes

All the times.

Those moments between waking and alarm; treasured like ballet flats that don't pinch - so divine.
The first taste of coffee, a caffeine jolt; tastes of necessity and attitude - it's sublime.
Take a midday pause, look up, draw breath- breathe a sigh.
Bath time and story; plump cheeks, fluffy hair - child of mine.
Feathers and cotton; warmth and comfort - bedtime.

27 January 2015

Five sentence fiction: Abandon

From Lillie McFerrin Writes comes Five Sentence Fiction.

Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist.  This week's prompt is 'abandon'


"...and when the green light goes on, watch for my signal."
Tracey took a deep breath, meeting the eyes of the three others sitting opposite her.  When the green light flashed at them, they nodded bracingly at each other, tugging their shoulder straps as they got into position.
She felt the tap on her shoulder, indicating it was her turn to approach the door.  With eyes closed against fear, she thought of everything she knew, and stepped out of the plane.