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.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hi guys. It's Britt. I have a confession to make. 

Last year, I didn't vote. It was the 2010 Toronto municipal election, and I'd just returned from six months in Korea. My list of excuses is long: I was jet lagged, I'd just moved to a new riding and didn't know much about the candidates....but really, is there any excuse?

Not voting has had an effect on me. See, cause the thing is, whenever I don't like the way our city is being run, I feel like I can't complain. I feel guilty. 

On Thursday is Ontario's Provincial election. And you can bet your butt, I'm going to be at the polls nice and early. Nothing will stop me.

Love to you this weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My dress is more flattering than Sandra's. She looks like a sausage in a blue shiny casing, but being her best friend, I would never tell her that. 

I give her a kiss. She's gone overboard with the Poison perfume again, which I happen to know isn't Poison at all, but Poisonous Nights, a knock-off version. 

I can tell she's had too many vodka coolers by the way she wobbles on those heels. Those heels, by the way, do not match her dress, but I don't mention it. Sometimes you've got to be the bigger person. 

"Ray will be so happy you came," she says, gesturing toward her boyfriend at the barbeque.

Ray is, in truth, an oaf. He's tall and a little pudgy round the middle and he always wears these sloppy sweaters. Next to Sandy, he's like a giant in one of those children's stories. Like Jack and the Beanstalk. Plus, I think he wants to sleep with me. I'd tell her about it, but I'm too good of a friend.

Later, Sandra finds me at the snack table trying to choke down one of her horrid sausage rolls. She's swaying on those heels, looking like a boat tied up in the harbor. 

"I love you, Marnie," she says to me. 

"I love you too, Sandy," I reply. 

Then I tell her she looks beautiful which we all know is a bald-faced lie. What can I say? Some people are givers and some are takers. Me, I'm a giver. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Saturday, Herb's boots went walking and didn't come home until Monday.

Herb opened the front door on Saturday and stuck his left sock foot where his boot top should be. It found only air. No boots. He squeezed his eyes shut and opened them. Still no boots. 

Maybe he'd left them someplace else? Herb searched his house. He even checked the bathtub and the oven. "If your boots are in the oven, old-boy," he told himself, "you've got a good deal more trouble than a couple of missing Wellys." 

Herb's boots were nowhere to be found. He pushed his recliner to the window, where he could keep an eye on the front step. 

Mid-morning, the phone rang. It was Walter. Every Saturday, Walter and Herb met in Sorauren park and shared a copy of the Globe and Mail, and some bourbon from Walter's flask. 

"Hey geezer, you can't find your teeth or what?" Walter said. "I'm not getting any younger waiting for you." 
"Walt, I can't come today." 
"What's the matter? You sick?" 
"No. I'm waiting for my boots." 
"Your what?"

At mealtimes, Herb brought his t.v. tray to the recliner and ate with his eyes on the front step. He began to wonder where exactly his boots had traveled off to, and of course, why they left him at all.

Maybe they'd gotten fed up with sitting by that wall. Truth be told, since Jeanne passed away four years ago, Herb didn't go out much. When she was alive they used to travel.

The two of them in the motor-home, driving out west where the trees were taller than churches, and down south to dip their toes into the ocean and watch the pelicans fish.

It's not that I don't want to go anywhere, Herb thought, it's just that no place feels quite right without her. Herb's eyes grew heavy. As he drifted to sleep, he made a decision. "If my boots come back, I promise to take them out more."

And then Monday morning, there they were, leaning up against the outside wall as usual. Herb stood in the doorway with his arms crossed. He was so relieved to see the boots he felt his eyes water over. He mouthed a silent thank you.

Things would be different for all of them now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's a trout lighter and he'd rather have a Mars bar, but the candy counter is right under the cashier's nose. She'd see if Tim swiped a Mars bar. So the lighter, it is. It's shaped like a fish, which is kind of weird, but at least it sets stuff on fire, which the guys will like. 

The cashier has grey hair and eyeglasses on a chain. This reminds Tim of Ms. Rose, their school librarian. 

Tim's allowed to go into Ms. Rose's office and sit on her brown couch. She makes the two of them hot cocoa with little pink and green marshmallows. "You're a bright boy, Timothy," she says. Sometimes, they talk. Tim tells her about his Dad who doesn't live at home anymore, and his Mom who cries a lot. Ms. Rose never calls Tim fat, though lots of people do. "Let's have a few more marshmallows, Timothy dear," she says. 

Ms. Rose is the kindest person Tim knows. The thought of her finding out what he is about to do makes him want to throw up. 

He doesn't have to do this. He could leave the store and tell the guys waiting outside that he won't steal. But this is Tim's big chance to make them like him. How can he go on with just an old lady for a friend? 

Pom, Pom, Pom, goes Tim's heart. He picks up the lighter, slides it into his sleeve and heads for the door. 

Then he's outside. He pulls out his prize to show them and manages a smile. Everyone cheers. 

And then Tim is on his bike and pedaling fast, with the other guys on their bikes all around him, and they are all laughing together and Tim feels good, like he did the right thing in taking that lighter. 

But after that, he can't bring himself to go to Ms. Rose's office. When he passes her in the hallway, he sees her sad, questioning smile, and he looks away. 

Things aren't that much better. His Dad hasn't returned. His Mom's tears haven't dried up. And people still call him fat. 

He knocks on the door of Ms. Rose's office, softly at first. The door swings open and she is there looking at him. He remembers her calling him a bright boy, and it's like he can feel himself growing brighter now. "Timothy," she says, "I'll put the kettle on."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Where are my keys? Think, Brenda. Think. 

I saw them last at the No Frills. Yes, cause the keychain got caught on the metal coil of my notebook. I pulled it out in the--uh--meat aisle! Yes. I needed the recipe for Beef Stroganoff and mashed potatoes. Well, not for the potatoes, I know how to mash a potato. Ha ha! I needed the recipe for the stroganoff part. 

See, cause Les is always saying I can't cook. He tells everyone, too, he says: "Brenda is a disaster in the kitchen." Disaster, like a hurricane or a flood. Like that horrible tsunami that killed all those poor people. Gosh. So, this time I was going to show him with my fantastic stroganoff. I was going to make him eat his words! 

But then I went and lost my keys, or left them God knows where. How did I miss dropping them? Especially after I got that big keychain with the red shoe on it so this wouldn't happen. 

Scattered. That's another word Les likes to use for me. Spacey is another one. Sometimes flaky.

Come to think of it, Les has always got some word or another to describe me and none of them are really good, you know? None of them are the kind you want to tell your girlfriends about over Peach Bellinis at Milestones. 

Gorgeous. Sexy. Brilliant. Irresistible. 

These are words you want to repeat. These are words you want to wrap around you like a pink feather boa and show off to the world.

You know, I don't think I feel like making stroganoff tonight after all. Not even one bit. Cause I just thought of a new word that Les can use to describe me.  


Monday, September 19, 2011

Casual Mondays: the Little Bird

Hi guys. It's Britt. This week, I've decided to flip things around. My tire swing stories will be posted on Wednesday and Friday. I'm just too excited to wait for Friday to share this with you. 

A few months ago, I entered the Little Bird contest created by the super-talented author, Sarah Selecky. The rules of the contest were simple: write a story based on one of her twitter prompts. Stories were judged by wonderful authors, Jessica Westhead and Matthew J. Trafford.

Guys, I entered and I won!!!

One of the many fun prizes was publication in the the Little Bird stories e book, which is now available to download online.

The ebook is a steal at $2.99. If you want to check it  out, go to this link. You can purchase the digital download via pay pal, or if you don't have a pay pal account, there is an option to use a credit card.

After you buy the book, the link to download is available to you. The file in .epub format, which your computer should be able to read. If you aren't sure how to do it, let me know and I'll help. (Mom, I'm talking to you.)

The other stories are fabulous and well worth reading. 

Thanks, as always, for your love and support. See you back here on Wednesday. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Casual Fridays: The little bun

Hi guys, it's Britt. Did I tell you that my sister's got a bun in the oven?

....I think I'd like one too.

I've always dreamed of being a little old woman surrounded by family, all talking over each other and laughing together, sharing our stories. 

Over the years, the decision to have kids or not have them has become a real issue. I've had relationships end over this very thing, which is always rough.

Of course, family doesn't have to just mean children. There are many combinations of people who make up a family, and many happy families that don't include kids. There are also many single people who are a gloriously happy family of one.

I've been thinking a lot about Khalil Gibran these days. I lost my copy of The Prophet a few years ago, and haven't bought myself a new one. I think it's cause I've been secretly hoping my old copy will return to me, like a traveler wiping off his boots. 

I want to share with you a few of Gibran's words on children. I think they're interesting:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. 

What do you think? What does having children, or not having them mean to you?

I'd love to hear. 

Have a sesame-seed encrusted weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

May likes to look at roots. 

Sometimes she uses her green plastic shovel to dig things up out of the ground. Other times, she just pulls. 

In the backyard, she is a menace. Last spring, her mother had to replant the annuals twice. In June, May wrenched out carrots and beets before their time. Her mother was furious about the ruined crop. Once you pull something out, you can't put it back. Most of the time. 

There are lots of reasons May likes roots. The smell of damp earth interests her and she enjoys shaking the plants and feeling soil spill onto her hands and arms. But mostly, May just wants to see what's down there in the ground. 

There are roots hiding everywhere. 

At first, they said that her older brother Dom was going to be okay. Even he ruffled her hair and said: "Oh, May-bell, I am a champ-pee-on," which made her giggle. 

But then they started using other words when they thought she wasn't there. Big words like "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome," and hard words like "only a matter of time." 

When May heard that, she went out to the middle of the yard. She got her green shovel and two buckets. It had rained the night before and the ground was wet. 

She started with the grass. The delicate blades came up easily. She placed handfuls of green into her bucket. Then there was mud. May attacked the mud with her shovel. It was cold and grey and smelled like pennies. She dug and dug, and kept digging even when she couldn't see through her tears. 

These grownups have all these words like growing things, with roots hiding beneath. May wants to pull all them up, but she doesn't know how.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The chickens started it. One day in the yard, the red hen said: "I have it on good authority that farmer Lawson's grass is the longest and greenest around."

Of course, the cows were interested in that. 

"And his oats are the freshest."

The horse pricked up her ears.

"And his slop the most succulent." 

The sow groaned with delight. 

The barnyard debate began. "I don't believe you," some animals said, "it's no different there than here." "But what if she's right?" others wondered. "What if we can have it all?"

So it was decided. We would make a trip to Lawson's farm to see for ourselves.

In the days that followed, we planned our escape. I assisted the other goats in chewing a hole in the fence. This took us a great deal of time as we had to make the gap tall enough for the horse and the cows to fit through, and wide enough to accommodate the pig.

When the day came, we waited until after breakfast to make our move. 

The chickens led the way and the rest of us followed in a long line that stretched down the lane. Farmer Kibble had traveled to town that morning and wasn't there to watch his animals go. But his daughter Sadie saw us. She stood on the porch, waving goodbye.

When we finally arrived at Lawson's farm, we discovered that it wasn't much different than Kibble's place, after all. The grass was merely average length, the oats were ordinary, and the slop was, in truth, a little dry. 

So one by one, we turned and started heading back. 

We arrived home just before farmer Kibble returned from town. To this day, he still doesn't know that we left. Course, Sadie does. When we got back, we saw she'd made us a pretty little sign.

Most of us couldn't read it, but there was a lovely picture of a chick on it, and the dog told us that it said: "Farm Animals are Back!"

That was the last time anyone listened to the chickens.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Casual Fridays: The new kid

Hi guys. It's Britt.
This week was full of beginnings. 

Kids everywhere went back to school in their spiffy new clothes with pencil cases full of fresh pencils. Do you remember the way the first day of school smelled? I do. It smelled different than all the other days, somehow.

This week, I started a new job. It's only a short-term position, but I still arrived in the morning with butterflies in my stomach. I still felt the awkwardness of being the new kid. 

One of my dearest friends began law school this week. (Talk about terrifying!!) Another friend's Mom recently went back to school to become a real estate agent. (And she's in her fifties.)

I want to raise my carton of chocolate milk to all of those daring folks who are pushing through boundaries in their lives, who are beginning something scary.

It's the weekend, story-makers! Have a relaxing one, and I'll see you back here on Monday.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It is Tuesday morning in the office cafeteria and three things are happening at once.

One, Marsha is pressing the green button on the display fridge and the packaged sandwiches are going round and round. Two, she is saying the words: "egg salad, tuna salad," under her breath as each type of sandwich appears then disappears. Three, Solomon Holdstock is behind her, watching her do this. 

"Egg salad, tuna salad." A ham and cheese makes an appearance and unnerves her. She feels that she will never be able to choose a sandwich, and this moment will play on forever, with Solomon waiting behind her, his breath on her neck and his little skin particles wafting onto her skin. 

Things have been getting worse for Marsha since Lenny left. He hated her constant hand washing and the way she changed her clothes twice a day. But then she saw that documentary on tv about the microscopic view of the body and she couldn't stop talking about the skin flakes."There's nothing to protect us," she said, "our skin just comes off onto someone else."

"You're flipping crazy," Lenny said.

Now in the cafeteria, Marsha's breath is coming fast. "Egg salad, tuna salad." The sandwiches keep spinning. "Choose," she urges herself. She wants to slap herself in the face and then becomes frightened that she actually will. 

Behind her comes Solomon's arm. She sees his thick finger push the red button. An egg salad sandwich drops into the chute. Marsha takes it and places it on her tray. She turns to face him. "Thank you," she says. 

His smile is kind, so kind, she almost doesn't mind about the skin flakes. 
"I can't ever decide, either," he says.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The garbage truck will be here soon. I know I look crazy: a middle-aged man in his bathrobe and slippers standing out by the curb, but I have something to say. Every soldier deserves a funeral and dammit, my ottoman will have one. 

Eulogy for an Ottoman:

I wasn't the only one who ever loved you. First, there was Shelby French. We were fourteen, and used to sit on you together in my parent's den. Shelby had light blond hair and steady blue eyes, and as we listened to Dark Side of the Moon, her pale bare foot tapped and swung to the music. 

A few years passed, and I was sixteen. Along came Danielle. We left you, ol' buddy, and moved onto the couch so we could stretch out. Danielle had brown curls and freckles. She smelled of bubble gum and soap, and occasionally let me get to second base.

Then there was Sade. We were nineteen and living on our own for the first time. My parents gave us their old furniture. Hey, ottoman, do you remember our bachelor apartment? It was cramped and scented with Indian food from the restaurant below. Years after we moved out, your fabric still smelled like curry.

Lisa made me keep you in my "man cave," in our basement. Do you know what a man cave is? It's a manipulation tactic women use to keep everything they hate of yours in one place. She hated you, ottoman. I'm sorry to admit it. 

But if Lisa loaded the gun, then my wife, Jenn was the one who fired it. 

Yesterday, I found you out here by the curb. "It's hideous," she said by way of explanation. And there was no discussion, no pleading from my end. Did I give you up too easily, ottoman? After all we've been through?

I can hear the garbage truck rumbling up the street. It's almost time. Goodbye, old friend. Rest in peace.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Casual Fridays: Summer Lovin'

Oh, Summer, you are leaving us soon, aren't you? Here are some things I will miss about you when you go: 

Garage sales
Flip flops
Farmer's markets and fresh fruits
People sitting on porches in the evenings 
Not thinking twice about walking home
Unruly wildflowers growing by the side of the road 
Afternoons on a patio having a cold one with friends  
Being able to head outside without having to first remember to grab: coat, hat, boots, mitts, scarf. (ugh!)   

What about you? What will you miss about summer when she's gone? 

Have a bittersweet weekend, story makers. See you back here on Monday.