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, August 31, 2012

Casual Fridays: Spit Stories

city view from the spit.
Hi guys, it's Britt. Last week I went to the Leslie Street Spit for the first time. Have you been?

The spit is a 5 km long peninsula that juts from Toronto into Lake Ontario. It was built 40 years ago as a breakwater for the harbor expansion. But in the end it wasn't really needed, and so as Toronto's building development boomed, the spit became a convenient place for the dumping of rubble and earth from development projects. 

When a building gets torn down, its remains come here to die.

It's actually a really beautiful place, with lots of vegetation and wildlife. But the thing that really got me excited about the spit, was all of the little treasures to be found. I collected a little pile of scraps and then took a closer look.


Each fragment was once a part of a whole. All of this belonged to something else, it had a purpose. Lives were lived inside of these things. 

It was thrilling to me imagining all of that history in one handful, all of those stories. 

If you get a chance, get out to the spit and see what I mean. 

Love to you, folks. Have a fantastic long weekend. 
xo Britt 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tell me a story, Daddy. 
I don't know any stories, sweetheart. 
You do. Tell me the one about the bird. 

Once upon a time in a kingdom pretty close by, there was a princess named Sophia. Sophia had everything you could wish for. Cake for breakfast. A trampoline in her bedroom. No tooth brushing or toe scrubbing, ever. But what Sophia didn't have, was a brother or sister. 

And in the way our hearts crave the one thing that's missing, Princess Sophia longed for a sibling. The only child our heroine had to play with was Prince Rob from the next palace over. Prince Rob was a loathsome boy. He had boogers in his nose, and even more disgusting things crusted in the folds of his neck. Rob liked to set fire to the bottoms of the ladies' gowns and put hunks of stinky cheese down the knight's suits of armor. 

See what I mean? This kid was a real creep. 

One afternoon, Rob snuck into Sophia's garden and discovered her whispering to a small clay bird. Our horribly lonely Sophia had named the statue "Angelique." It was her little sister. 

"Wha'cha doing?" Rob asked, heading toward her. 

"Get away from me, you filthy troll!" Sophia squealed. 

At the sound of these words, Rob smacked Angelique from Sophia's hand and the bird smashed onto the stones.  

What do you think happened next? Perhaps a fairy godmother appeared and gave Princess Sophia a real sister? Or maybe an evil witch arrived and turned Prince Rob into a toad? That's what you'd guess, cause you've heard fairy tales like this before. Except you'd be wrong.

Rob turned to Sophia. "I'm really sorry he said." His eyes were wide and a nice blue, and maybe there wasn't so much grime on the back of his neck as she'd originally thought.

"It's alright," she said. 

Rob pulled a key ring from his pocket. The large brass keys jangled together. "Stole these," he said, "wanna check out the dungeon together?"

Sophia giggled. "Sure." 

You know the rest, right? They lived happily....

Friday, August 24, 2012

The old man's roses have got to die. It's such a fraud: her next door neighbor having a beautiful garden when his soul is so rotten. 

First he called the cops that time she was hosting a full moon party. Then he left the gate open and racoons ate Frodo, her chicken. 

And now he's murdered her cat. 

Soliel considered dousing his precious flowers with Roundup weed killer. But there's too many harmful chemicals in it. The groundwater shouldn't have to pay just because her neighbor is a monster. She decides to use white vinegar instead, and borrows her mom's Costco membership card. 

In the checkout line at Costco, Soliel wants to slice the palm of her hand with her car keys and swear vengance. In the name of Angkor Wat. 

Two days ago, Angkor disappeared. She filled his bowl with the organic cat food he loves, the one with the raw turkey and brown rice and flax seeds. She called for him, but he didn't come. Outside, her neighbor was pruning his bushes. Everything about him filled her with rage. 

The tilt of his brown Tilley hat. Each careful snip he made with his pruning shears. The contended smile on his face. She knew he was mocking her. 

Soliel makes her move under the cover of night. The 4 litre jug of vinegar is heavy. She tips it up and then dumps it all over his roses. The ammonia sears her nostrils and she gasps. 

Just as the last drop of vinegar has fallen from the lip of the jug, Soliel looks down to see Angkor's black and white furry body at her feet. The cat winds himself through her legs, purring.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nobody knew who he was. He walked through the front door and into the living room, and took a seat on the couch right next to Janice and Mike. 

The whole party went silent. People lowered their plates of cake. 

He wore a black suit with a white dress shirt, and a leather string tie. On his head was a sombrero cordob├ęs hat that had the color and sheen of a raven's body. He was heavily mustachioed and had thick lustrous eyebrows. 

A pink streamer from the ceiling had come loose and rested on his shoulder like a tropical bird. He held a package wrapped in silver paper and tied with a ribbon.

Maria's boyfriend, Pete spoke first. 

"What's up, buddy?" Pete said. 

"I have come for Maria," the man said in a low rich voice. 

Maria had been helping herself to sangria when this stranger arrived and was frozen, mid-pour. The ladle in her hands hovered over the punch bowl. 

"Yes. Mi querida. Come to me," the man said. 

Maria returned the scoop of wine-soaked fruit to the bowl. She straightened her dress and then made her way to the couch. 

"Can I, um, help you?" she said. 

He stood and motioned for her to take his place on the couch. 

"Please. I am Jose Juan Christos. I come from Guadalupe to Toronto to bring you this treasure on the celebrated day of your birth." 

He held out the package. 

Maria tore open the wrapping to reveal a plain brown box. Inside the box was a small glass jar with grey powder inside. 

"Behold. Your great-grandmother, Alia Maria Concerta. She was stabbed with twenty-seven silver arrows before she died. A magnificent woman." 

Nobody moved. The man took Maria's hand and kissed it. Her heart beat wildly in her chest.

"Okay, thanks," Pete said, "you want some chips or something." 

He bowed low. "I am not for the chips. Now I go, like the fox," he said. With that, he slipped out the door and was gone. 

Maria placed the glass bottle on the mantle. Somebody turned on the music, and the party resumed. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Casual Mondays: You wanna ride to glory?

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
I'm working on a story for a fast-approaching submission deadline. At present, the story still feels like an octopus with slippery limbs everywhere. So I can't write a blog post today. I thought instead I'd leave you with this movie clip. I dunno know why. Maybe I love the wild waves and even crazier acting. Or maybe I just feel like seeing Keanu Reeves in a jean jacket.
We'll have a proper tire swing story on Friday, folks. And it'll be a doozy, I promise!!
xo Britt

Friday, August 10, 2012

Casual Fridays: Tree Hugging and Yarn Bombs

Hi guys. It's Britt.
As some of you might remember, awhile back I posted a tire swing story based on a tree I found in Parkdale that was all knitted up. You can check out the story here. 

Recently I posted about my delight in finding more of them, and how they helped me to love living in Toronto.

A week ago, my sisters and I were on a road trip to Sandbanks Provincial Park for some serious swimming and lounging. On the way, we stopped in the wee town of Colborne. I looked out the passenger window and, OMG! There were more! In fact, almost every tree in that little town square was covered in a knitted cozy. I jumped out of the car and started snapping pics. 

A sign on one of the trees told me what I needed to know. This is called Yarn Bombing. (Please forgive me if you already knew. You're a lot cooler than me and I'm generally a bit slow on the uptake.) Yarn bombing is a type of street art that uses yarn instead of paint or chalk to make a statement. It's all about reclaiming often cold and impersonal public spaces. Check out the Wiki article and links to cool "yarnstorms" here.

This particular act of terrorism was the work of the "Scheming Skeiners," a Colborne-based group of knitting renegades. 

Yip Skippy! I was so excited about all of these knitted trees, I hugged one. (Of course I did.) 

What do you think, story-makers? What else could we "bomb?" Mailboxes? Bike racks? Entire office buildings? 

Have a weekend filled with color. See you back here on Monday for a new tire swing story. 
xo Britt

Monday, August 6, 2012

That wire man is Jane's dad. 

It's her fault. She used plyers to twist the chicken wire into shape. Then she stood him in the front garden to keep the birds out of her elderberry bushes. She was even pleased with herself for her ingenuity. 

But once she was inside and looked out the window, Jane could see that it's her Dad she made. 

It felt like hot liquid was running down her spine. She yanked the curtains shut.

In the kitchen, she tried to finish her breakfast. She pierced her eggs with her fork and the yolk oozed over her plate. It was the yellow of rubber boots. Or the sun in a child's drawing. 

Jane pitched the whole plate straight into the garbage bin and heard the thud as it hit the bottom.

She considered calling in sick to work. But what would she tell them? 

"I've accidentally constructed a wire man who looks like my father, and now I'm scared to leave the house." 

No. She had to go. In her bedroom, she dressed quickly. She gathered her things together and closed her briefcase. The latch made a deliberate snapping sound as it shut. An adult sound.

On shaking legs, she left the house, remembering to lock the door. Clutching her briefcase in one hand, she headed down the walkway. 

She stopped in front of him and lifted her free hand, resting it on his wire chest, where his heart would be if he had once. 

Then with all of her strength, she pushed him over.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dale is with Sophie at the Hakuna Matata Bar & Grill. They're both well dressed: he in a suit and tie, and she in oyster colored silk with a string of pearls around her neck. An elegant couple, out of place in the dingy bar. 

On the table is a basket of fries and a few hunks of breaded cod. The food is getting cold.

Dale pulls out his wallet, even though the waitress is nowhere to be seen. He just wants Sophie to know he's got this, that he can at least pay the bill. But then the wallet sits on the table like a removed organ, a smooth brown kidney. It makes Dale nervous, so he opens it and pulls out the thin stack of bills. As Sophie talks, he uses his pen to doodle on the money.

"I need you to focus, Dale," she says. 

He doesn't look up from the ten dollar bill. His drawing of Sir John A. Macdonald's face is coming along quite well. 

"I love you," he says, refusing to look at her, "so much."

She lifts a french fry to her lips and bites the tip of it delicately. "I don't see what that has to do with it," she says.

Then she returns the half-eaten fry to the basket and rests her hands on the table top, fingers splayed as if readying herself to play that knife game where someone takes the tip of the blade and dances it between her fingers.

"I'm marrying Nick tomorrow," she says. "It would be best for all of us if you didn't come." 

With that, she stands and leaves him at the table. 

Dale refuses to watch her go. He keeps his eyes on the money. Then he picks up the ten dollar bill and crumples it in his fist, squeezing hard, which is stupid, because he will only have to smooth it out again.