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.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Casual Mondays: Put the lime in the coconut

Hi guys. 
I was going to write a tire swing story for today, but to be honest, I'm just too darn pooped. Spent the weekend in the woods at a bachelorette party celebrating the upcoming marriage of these two lovelies...

Gosh, what a total blast we ladies had this weekend. We bobbed on rafts atop a gorgeous lake, ate like queens, and had a wild dance party (complete with spontaneous conga line.)

And now, I must sleep. 

So we'll do "casual Monday" today and then I'll post a proper story on Friday. Sound good?

Lots of love, 
xo Britt

Friday, July 27, 2012

Casual Fridays: For the love of yeast

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
I'm a little odd. There are lots of things people adore that I just can't stand. For example, I loathe: 

-grocery stores
-bumper cars at the fair
-room temperature cheese
-shopping for electronics of any kind

Can I tell you something I do love? 

Sourdough bread. 

Sourdough is made with fermented dough using naturally occurring yeasts. To make sourdough you need a starter: it's a mixture made with previously fermented dough. 

You keep this thing alive in your fridge and every time you want to make a loaf of bread, you have to scoop out some of it. Some bakers use starter that's been around for decades. Lucille Clarke Dumbrill in Newcastle, Wyoming has been keeping a 122 year-old starter alive in her fridge. It was passed down to her by her mother. 

Whoa. Think about it, this starter's got some stories. This starter's lived. 

Go a little nuts this weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 
xo Britt 

Monday, July 23, 2012

When you die, you should get your stats. 

The day I bite the bullet, I hope somebody tells me: "Curt, in your life you stopped at 1265 red lights. You took a leak 18,407 times. You watched 9003 hours of television." 

My stats. Know what I'm saying? 

I don't need to be pushing up daisies to know how many times I've bought exercise equipment. I have owned six different sets of dumbells. 

One of the primary things about idiots is, we don't learn from our mistakes. Here I am standing in the Treadmill Depot and this sales guy's got em laid out for me, and he's telling me how many chicks I'm gonna get once I pay $499.99 for all this. And don't I just reach for my wallet?

And the girl at the cash, she's hot. She's probably supposed to be some kind of example of the quality of woman we're gonna get after working out. She smiles and her tag says her name is Candy. Candy? If she was born with that name, I'll eat my sock. 

"Will that be debit or credit?" she asks me, sweet as anything. 

They'll be delivering my new home gym on Tuesday. 

And then guess what? I'm in the parking lot beside my car, reaching for my keys, and I have a bloody heart attack.

Before I know it, I'm flopping on the pavement and gasping like a fish and the sky overhead is so blue. It's the bluest thing I've ever seen.

My stats. 

Drank 3,402 beers
Swam in the ocean 86 times 
Had 8,003 orgasms
Made 17 different women cry
Owned 5 suits
Read 6,408 newspapers
Buried 4 dogs
Listened to "Hotel California" 139 times

Thought about how damn precious it all is...

just once.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Casual Fridays: honesty and the "nice girl"

"Say what you mean and be fearless." 

That's some advice from one of my favorite teachers, Natalie Goldberg. I try to hold onto it when I sit down to write something new.

Sometimes I'll be in the middle of a free-flow writing session with my pen firing along, and then I'll write something shocking. Something that makes me stop in my tracks. And I'll feel uncomfortable and squirmy and want to go and put the kettle on, or call my sister, or brush the cat.  

I want to avoid what I've written because what I've said is true. And it's not...nice. 

"If you can't think of anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." How many times have we heard that as kids? 

I'm a pretty good girl. I'm bubbly and pleasant. I ask questions and like to laugh, and I strive to keep the peace. 

But in writing, I can be brutal. I can say things that my "nice girl" wouldn't dare.

And for me that's the way it has to be. Cause I think honesty is electric. And don't I want my writing to be electric too? 

Be fearless this weekend, story makers. See you back here on Monday. 
xo Britt

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kelsie puts a box of tea into the cart and Bram picks it up. 
"What's this?" he says. 
"Oolong," she says.
"The No Name version's cheaper." 
"I like this one." 
"You just like the box. You're a marketer's dream." 

Bram switches for the No Name one and continues down the aisle. Kelsie follows. She leans heavily on the front of the shopping cart, letting it take her weight, moving in shuffle-steps. When she arrives at Bran, he deposits his armload of groceries into the belly of the cart. 
"Look, this cereal is fortified with yogurt," he says.
"Why don't we just eat yogurt?"
"That's not the point." 

In ancient tribal societies, men went out in hunting parties. Women prayed and pulled their hair. Finally, the triumphant hunters returned, streaked with blood and bearing the weight of a killed buffalo. They all danced and feasted in celebration.

In Aisle 4, a smiling lady in a red smock offers them a hunk of breakfast sausage on a toothpick. Brant eats three, grinning at Kelsie as if they are in a commercial.

Later, they load their collection of plastic shopping bags into the trunk of their mini-van. Kelsie sees a watermelon someone left behind them on the pavement.

They climb into the van. Kelsie turns the ignition and with the car still in park, hits the gas. The engine revs and the sound is fierce, like a growling lion.

"Kel--?" Brant says.
Without answering him, Kelsie shifts into reverse, backing over the watermelon and smashing it to bits. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Casual Fridays: Human Soup

Hi guys. It's Britt. A few weeks ago, I posted about how sometimes I pick people's flowers. I said that I did it because it reminded me of stealing lilacs as a kid and bringing them home to Mom. The other day I was out walking, and I came across this sign in front of somebody's house: 

This sign reminded me that although we often think our lives are separate, we're all in this human soup together. And what we do affects others.

Guess who's not stealing flowers anymore? And I can't wait till I walk by this spot and actually see the garden in bloom.

Many of you might be familiar with this, but I wanted to share a video that I've always loved. It's totally cheesy, but it always reminds me about the importance of human connection. (Seriously, click the link. It's worth it!)

Bridge the gap this weekend, story makers. See you back here on Monday. 
xo Britt

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fast food makes sense to Manny. 

He likes working at the Pirate Burger, with ketchup and mustard that come in little plastic packets, and straws wrapped in paper to protect them from germs. Each fast food item is perfect and contained in its own way. He likes the soft white hamburger buns like breasts, and uniform squares of pale orange cheese. 

At the front of the restaurant, Owl wipes the counters with a damp rag and a bottle of purple cleaning solution diluted 50:1. She misses half the crumbs. She might as well not be cleaning at all. Owl's real name is Susan. Manny looked at her driver's license once when she left her wallet open on the counter.

Owl has a brass bell shaped like an owl and insists on leaving on the counter while they work so customers can ring it. The dinging bell punctuates Owl's constant chatter. Manny wishes she was sealed in plastic like one of those disposable forks. 

"I asked Paul where he was before he came over and you know what he said?" 
"Ring. Ring." 
"None of my business. None of my business?! I'm his flipping girlfriend." 
"Ring. Ring." 

You can go to any Pirate Burger in the world and the food will be identical to theirs. Not that Manny knows this firsthand. He's never been further than Niagara Falls. But he's comforted knowing that a Captain's Combo would taste the same in Shanghai as it does in Sudbury.

Owl looks up, smiling at him with the rag in her hand.

"But I guess you know more than I do on the love front, eh? Manno? What's it now, 20 years you've been married?"

Manny looks away and focuses on dumping a bag of frozen shoestring fries into the fryer. Then he submerges the basket into the hot oil where they churn and bubble.

Grace wasn't there when he arrived home last night. Or the night before. This morning, he gathered the courage and opened her closet door. The empty wire hangers were like daggers in his chest. 

A timer beeps, telling Manny the fries are ready. He raises the basket from the oil and shakes off the excess grease. They are golden brown, and cooked perfectly.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Casual Fridays: roots and shoots

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
I've got a dear friend visiting and zero blogging time, so I thought I'd leave you with a photo of a sign I stumbled across.

Have a great weekend. I'll see you back here on Monday for a fresh-as-a-daisy tire swing story. 
xo Britt 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Herbert Dirt was a womanizer. He loved to watch females pass, with their hips and bottoms moving under skirts. Nothing made him happier than the sight of a pair of breasts, full and swinging. 

"Oh, baby," he'd say under his breath as they passed, "gimmie some of that."

But Herbert Dirt never got much of anything at all. Because Herbert was a clothespeg. 

"You want a little wood, sweet thing?"

Don't be shocked. I told you he was a womanizer. But here's the thing: even a clothespeg can change. 

This is how it happened. 

The afternoon was warm and the clothes were dry and smelled of sunshine. She came out of the house carrying a white plastic basket on her hip. She reached the line and began unclipping the shirts and pants and letting them drop into the basket. As she worked, Herbert admired her full lips and long unruly hair. 

Then she looked up at the small blue t-shirt Herbert was holding. It was a boy's shirt, faded and worn. The woman gasped. Her hands flew to her mouth and then she reached out and yanked the shirt down. She pulled so hard that Herbert came away with it too.

She put the little t-shirt to her face and inhaled deeply. 

Then all at once, she began to cry. Her shoulders trembled, and Herbert, caught in the middle of the bunched up ball of fabric, shook. She wept into the shirt and Herbert's world became her hot breath and raw sobs. 

He'd never heard a sound like this before. He didn't even know that someone could make such a sound. He longed to stroke her face, to hold her, to make her crying stop. 

So he did the only thing he could think of to do. He dropped into the pocket of her dress and lay there against her hip. Later, she would find him, and return him to the empty line until the next laundry day. And to everyone who passed, Herbert would look like the same dented little clothespeg.

But he wasn't at all.