A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hi folks. How are you all doing tonight? My name's Moe, but you can call me Blue-T. 

So a man walks into a bar....Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

Anyone here like Mexican food? What do you call cheese that isn't yours?...Nacho Cheese. 

Why did the dinosaur cross the road?...Because the chicken joke wasn't invented yet.

Silence. Blue-T clears his throat. 

Wow. It's a tough crowd tonight. What do I gotta do for a laugh?

Uh, speaking of dinosaurs, what type of dinosaur can jump higher than a house?...Any kind! A house can't jump. 

More silence. Blue-T is getting upset.

You guys don't know how hard it is. Every dinosaur in my family is successful but me. My brother, Ricky, he's over there in Japan. And my sister, Winnie's in Hollywood. Whenever she comes to visit, she likes to throw her money around, just so we all know she's a big shot. 

My parents are disappointed in my career choice. They want me to demolish some cities, but all I want to do is make people laugh. I write all my own material and I've been practicing. But I guess I'm still a flop. 

So, you guys think I should just give up comedy and start eating people?

Puts down the mic. 

Alright, who wants to be first? 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sheila is thinking of having an affair with the man who sells donuts at the Tasty Bun. He's half her age, but something about the way he handles the apple fritters tells her he knows his way around a woman. 

Sheila never caught the man's name, and so she decides it is Andre. She watches Andre's long tanned arms and graceful hands moving, plucking the pastries from the shelf and sliding them into bags. 

She is nearly at the front of the line. Ahead of her are two grey-haired ladies and a man with a gleaming bald head and a rolled-up newspaper tucked beneath his arm like a handbag. 

The ladies will split a cinnamon bun. Andre slices it in half for them. 

Sheila imagines his bare chest beneath his t-shirt, smooth and chiseled. Perhaps he will take her right there in the shop. She imagines her own bottom dusted with icing sugar and nearly swoons. 

Heat creeps up her neck. She feels her cheeks flush. 

The man ahead of her in line needs a cake. 

When Andre places the cake into the box, one of the icing rosettes smears. She hears the man gasp. But Andre takes a knife with a rounded end and carefully lifts the damaged rosette into his palm. He holds it like a baby bird and Sheila knows that her own husband, Harvey has never held anything as delicately as Andre holds this blob of icing. 

Then it is her turn to order. Andre's brown eyes search her face. 

"What do you need?" he asks her. 

Sheila feels her throat fill up with things she can't possibly order. 

"A second chance at my life," she wants to say. "All those years back. Your arms around me." 

"Two raspberry filled," she says instead. 

Sheila leaves the Tasty Bun with her white paper bag. She walks to the park where she will sit on the bench and eat the donuts. Tomorrow, she will be back. And Andre will be there for her.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Casual Fridays: For the love of the personalized license plate

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
What do you think about personalized license plates? Love em? Can't stand em? Here are just a few I've come across in my wanderings: 

Okay, so they can be a bit obnoxious, but I can't help but feel a little hoorah when I see people putting some personality out there. It makes the world more colorful. It says: "Hey, I exist and I have a nickname, a personal mantra, or a favorite vegetable."

What about you? What does your license plate say? What would you have it say if you could?

Have a juicy weekend, story-makers. I'll see you back here on Monday. 

p.s. If you haven't entered the 100th post contest, do it already! It's totally easy-money to spend on whatever you wish. Click here to find out how to enter.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dot keeps her rolls of exposed film inside the chicken. She has so many finished rolls that when she lines them up on the kitchen counter, end-to-end, they stretch past the toaster and almost to the blender. Each week she adds another. 

The camera was a gift for her 8th birthday. She didn't use it until she was 10 and everything started to go wrong. 

First there was her Dad. "Goodbye, kiddo," he said to her in the driveway with tears in his eyes and a duffel bag at his feet. "We'll have the weekends together now." 

He was looking at Dot like he wanted her to say something. But the words didn't come and so she took a picture of him. 

After that, she didn't know what to say most of the time. And so she photographed things instead. 

Her Mom's new boyfriend, Rick with the bushy moustache.

Rick's dog, Buster with his spooky cataract-covered eyes. 

Her Dad's new apartment with its grimy walls and the ripped window screen. 

Her older sister, Alison's closed bedroom door.

On and on Dot goes, snapping photographs. She uses her weekly allowance to buy more film. And when she finishes a roll, she slips it inside the wicker chicken on the kitchen counter. Her Mom doesn't know about her hiding place. 

When she dries the dishes at night, Dot looks at her chicken and thinks about those black plastic canisters with all of that life curled inside. Someday maybe she will develop every single picture. And then maybe she'll know what to say.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dogs and bees can sense fear, and Larry Mint is terrified.

He is standing at a gas station in Dryden, Ontario. He didn't see the sign taped to the pump until it was too late. 

His hand holding the nozzle is slick with sweat. Sweat is trickling down the back of his neck, tracing a path along his spine and pooling in his underpants. 

Larry is in a very bad state. 

His Chevy is running on fumes and there isn't anywhere else for him to go. He needs to fill up now. There's a pebble in his shoe, pressing into the soft underside of his arch. He'd love to bend and dig it out, but won't. In fact, Larry would sooner fly to the moon than move a single muscle. 

He hasn't seen one of the little demons yet, but he knows they're around. 

There was a time when he wasn't afraid of bees. As a boy, he'd wait patiently for one to land on him so he could feel the soft tickle of it crawling along his skin. 

But then one day, his mother saw him. "A beeee!" she shrieked, rushing toward him, flailing her arms wildly. When the bee rose and circled her, she ducked and dodged as if possessed by an evil spirit. 

"Bees have stingers," she said later, "they'll hurt you something terrible." 

Larry couldn't connect the soft buzzing creatures with the idea of terrible pain, but the next time he came across a bee, he ran back into the house. Over the years, his fear grew and grew. 

And now at this gas station, he turns and dives back into the Chevy, slamming the door.

It takes him a few moments to catch his breath. Then from inside the car, comes an unmistakable buzzing. Larry feels his bowels twist. Fresh beads of sweat form on his upper lip. Crawling across the dashboard without a care in the world, is a bee.

Friday, June 17, 2011

 Hi guys. It's Britt. 

July 1st, 2011 will mark the 100th Tire Swing Story. And I want to celebrate in a big way. 

Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!! 

Use this online gift card all over the world to buy books, clothes, the latest Justin Bieber hit. Whatever you like!

How to Enter: 

It's simple. In the "comments" section of this post, write
the name of one character who has appeared in a Tire Swing Story (any character you choose.) 

Email me at: tireswingstories@yahoo.ca and let me know you've entered. This is just so I can notify you when you win the prize. I won't share your email, or use it for any other purpose.

The winner will be selected at random on July 1st and announced right here on the blog. That means you HAVE to check back here to find out who won!! (manaical laughter)

Rules and Reminders:

Comments must be made in your name in order to enter you. No "Anonymous" comments. If you've never commented on a blog before, this means you'll have to set yourself up to comment. It's very easy and there are a number of different options to choose from. If you have any questions about how to do it, email me.

Please enter only once. 

Have an inspired weekend, story makers. See you back here on Monday. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nevil the scarf had been waiting a long time to make his move. 

In the beginning, Mrs. Agatha Pike found Nevil at a market and offered the vendor a full six dollars less than the asking price. The vendor was insulted, but he had mouths to feed at home, and so he sold Mrs. Pike the discounted scarf.

Mrs. Pike never treated Nevil right. She picked at him with her long fingernails, dangled his tassel into her coffee, and sprayed him with terrible perfume. When she wasn't wearing Nevil, she left him balled up underneath her bed. 

As he lay in the dark with the dust bunnies, Nevil wondered if he deserved this somehow, if he were to blame for his sad life. He cried a little. (The sound of a scarf crying is a mournful thing.)

But then one day, Mrs. Pike and Nevil were at the airport, on their way to Des Moines, to visit her sister. They stopped in the gift shop so Mrs. Pike could read the magazines (though the sign did say to purchase one before reading.)

As he waited wrapped around her neck, Nevil noticed something that changed his life forever. A tag. A luggage tag that said: "Stop. I'm Not Yours!"

When Nevil read those words (yes, scarves can read), he felt deep down in his fibers that they were true.

"I'm not yours!" he wanted to shout, "I'm my own scarf." 

For the first time in his existence, Nevil felt very brave. And so when she bent to return the magazine to the rack, he slid from Mrs. Pike's shoulders and onto the floor.

At that moment, a voice over the loudspeaker announced that the flight to Des Moines was now boarding. Mrs. Pike hurried out of the gift shop, leaving Nevil behind. 

Would Nevil ever find his way to happiness? He didn't know. But this was his chance and he had to take it. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Photo by Greg Blanchette
A woman arrives at the beach at dawn. She settles beneath a shore pine and takes a large camera from her bag. She peers through the viewfinder, studying the landscape. 


It's been such a long time. Thirty-one years I have waited for him to return. Thirty-one years I've been hoping to see him walking up this beach. I've got a camera now. My sister bought it for me to take photographs of birds, but it's not the birds I come here to look for. 

Samuel Bellow. We were young when we met. His family was vacationing nearby. Sam and I only had two weeks together, but time can fool you. Lifetimes can pass in a single night. 

Through the lens I see a man walking along the beach wearing a red jacket and a ball-cap pulled low over his face. I gasp and my hands begin to shake. It's him. 

I leave my camera dangling from the tree branch and hurry to the shore, picking my way over the sharp rocks. 

I am out of breath when I reach him. I feel faint, as if my knees might buckle. Then he does the most unbelievable thing. He lifts his hat and smiles. 

"Morning, Nora," he says. 

"Sam," I gasp, "you remember me?"

"Course, Nora. How could I forget?" 

I can't help but blush, and a giddy feeling overtakes me, as if not a moment has passed.

"You came back," I say.  


I don't mind it so much. She's a harmless little thing. I've been doing my morning walks for some time now and she's here every day. And each day, without fail, she thinks I'm someone from her past. At first, I tried to set her straight, telling her, "no, ma'am, I'm Rob Gillie, moved here from Winnipeg," but she never could remember from one day to the next. 

So I started being Sam. And why not? She's at peace to have found him, just for the time it takes for her to forget again.  

A person's happiness is a fragile thing. Why would you want to break it?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Casual Fridays: Greg and Annie

Hi guys, it's Britt. 
Something pretty cool is happening on the streets of Toronto. When I started this blog, one of my first stories involved a declaration to a woman named Annie, written on the side of a pay phone. This was the photo:

Since then, I have discovered other signs like it around the city.  

I was curious. This prompted me to do a little "googling," and I discovered the culprit is artist, Gregory Alan Elliott. He's also responsible for signs like this: 

 (Enjoy everyone like they're your double rainbows)

 and for little hearts like this: 
It's really a wonderful thing to be trudging through your day and to stumble across one of these random acts of love.    

Make your mark this weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 

Monday's story will be prompted by a curious pic sent in by the ever-incredible Greg Blanchette. Thanks to everyone who forwarded me their wacky photo discoveries. Look for your shots in upcoming posts. And if you haven't sent me a picture of something you feel is a story in the making, please do. Let's have some fun with this!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gloria: So I suppose you think this new attitude of yours means you can get away with anything. 

Shawn: What on earth are you talking about? 

Gloria: I see the sign on your chest, Shawn. The peace sign. And after I gave you the best years of my life. Free the love. Oh, yes, free the love indeed. 

Shawn: Gloria, are you crazy? What's wrong with you? It's just a little tattoo.

Gloria: Little! Oh, that's rich. You must think I'm stupid. You think I don't know what you're up to? 

Shawn: What? What am I up to? 

Gloria: You want to (clears her throat)....breed with other penguins. 

Shawn laughs heartily. 

Gloria: I'm glad you think that's funny. 

Shawn: Oh, Gloria. My silly Empress. Do you remember what I said when you finally agreed to begin our courtship rituals?

Gloria: No. 

Shawn: Yes you do. What did I say? 

Gloria: You said I was the only female who made you feel like you could fly.

Shawn: That's still true. 

Gloria: Oh. 

Long pause. 

Gloria: Well, I suppose a tattoo isn't that bad. It does make you look rather...dangerous. 

She giggles.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Curtis crouches on the other side of the wall. He is shirtless, and one of his Dad's neckties is wrapped around his head, Rambo style. 

Beside him on the ground is a plastic bucket filled with water balloons. Curtis is ready to wage war. 

And here you come, sauntering down the sidewalk, groceries in hand. You don't know what's waiting for you. You can't see him grin. 

Curtis owns this wall. He discovered it when the cement was still fresh and scratched a message into it. Curtis has never owned anything. The things that are supposed to be his: his bed, his clothes, even the hairs on his head, aren't really. He's always being told what to do with them. 

"Make your bed, Curtis." "Change those filthy clothes." "Comb that mop of hair."

"Do your homework, Curtis. Eat your peas. Turn off that t.v. Put your shoes away. Brush your teeth. Use soap. Not so much, Curtis. Not so loud. Sit down. Stand up. Look at me when I'm talking to you." 

Curtis owns this wall, and here no one can tell him what to do. 

You should've gone back. Turned on your heels and walked down another street. But now it's too late. The bright blue balloon is in Curtis's hand and he's raising his arm. 

You are soaked. Water pours down your head and into the back of your shirt. You gasp at the cold and the shock. And beneath your outrage, you hear laughter. 

Curtis is laughing at you. 

It's his wall. You were warned.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Casual Fridays: The Poet's Obligation

The Poet's Obligation 
by Pablo Neruda 

To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell:
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a great fragment of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet and the foam,
the raucous rivers of the ocean flood,
the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,
and the sea is beating, dying and continuing.

So, drawn on by my destiny,
I ceaselessly must listen to and keep
the sea's lamenting in my awareness,
I must feel the crash of the hard water
and gather it up in a perpetual cup
so that, wherever those in prison may be,
wherever they suffer the autumn's castigation,
I may be there with an errant wave,
I may move, passing through windows,
and hearing me, eyes will glance upward
saying, "How can I reach the sea?"
And I shall broadcast, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and of quicksand,
a rustling of salt withdrawing,
the grey cry of sea-birds on the coast.

So, through me, freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart.

I love you, story-makers. Have a beautiful weekend. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Whenever Sarah is sad, she places the blue rock at the end of her lane. And whenever Ned sees it sitting there, he brings it to her. He knocks softly on her door and she opens it to him. 

Sarah never invites Ned to enter the house and stands in the doorway, blocking his view. Sometimes he can hear a television coming from inside, and once he caught the scent of toast. This thrilled him, her private cooking smells.

One afternoon, Ned stands holding the rock and sneaking glances at Sarah's face. Her curly red hair is going grey and her face is creased with wrinkles, but she's just becoming more beautiful with age. She's wearing a man's denim shirt that matches her light blue eyes. William's shirt, Ned guesses. When he husband died of cancer a few years ago, Sarah adopted most of his clothing. 

Ned holds out the rock. "I think this belongs to you," he says, as he always does. 

"I suppose so," she says, taking it from his hands.

The they sit side-by-side on Sarah's porch and she tells him what's bothering her. 

Mostly it's her grown children who live in the city and don't call, but sometimes it's other things. Bigger things.

She sighs as she speaks of the famine in Jordan, or the South American farmers who fight to keep a pipeline from being built through their land. 

"The world is too filled up with sorrow," Sarah says. 

On this particular afternoon, for a reason he can't explain, Ned lifts his big callused hand and lays it over her small pale one. And he leaves it there as she talks. 

Ned can't fix all the sadness of the whole world. And he doesn't have much to do with righting the smaller wrongs, either. But somehow with him just there, holding her hand, Sarah feels happy. 

And after that, she doesn't have as much need for the blue rock.