Prompt: Roaring Laughter
What was the last thing that gave you a real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh? Why was it so funny?

water wheel

I never drank liquor, but it had been a difficult couple of weeks, travelling by car with my father-in-law. I was starving, so ordered a Bloody Mary because of the substantial food garnish; then another one.

We looked at the menu. We were in a picturesque country restaurant somewhere in rural Ontario. Outside, a water wheel rotated as a clear stream ran through it. Inside, a fire roared in a giant fireplace, casting an orange glow over everyone.

My father-in-law, orange, said, “What’s Chateaubriand?”

My husband started to explain about beef in puff pastry. My father-in-law listened carefully, as if he was listening to his barrister preparing him to testify at a murder trial.

I started to giggle. It blew up into a laugh. This was it, the last dumbass moment I would have to spend on this vacation. The Bloody Mary shot out of my nose. They looked at me in horror, which made me laugh even harder. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I got the hiccups. I couldn’t speak. To this day, my husband need only say the word Chateaubriand and I feel a sense of hysteria and panic.

You clearly had to be there.

The Eleven Deadly Sins

Prompt: The Eighth Sin
Remember the seven cardinal sins? You’re given the serious task of adding a new one to the list — another trait or behavior you find particularly unacceptable, for whatever reason. What’s sin #8 for you? Why?

dog stare

The Eleven Deadly Sins

Pride, Gluttony, Envy, Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth, Hitting, Picking Your Nose in Public, Poor Math Skills, Tarragon, Not Clipping Your Dog’s Toenails.

Dear Agony Ant: WTF

Prompt: Saturday Night
Tell us about the most exciting big night out you had recently.

black ant 2
Dear Agony Ant,

What are the worst possible things that could happen on a Saturday night date? Because I think they just happened to me.



Dear WTF,

Without question the two worst possible things are:

1. Going out on a double date with your boyfriend’s best friend.

So, you and the best friend don’t get along, mostly because he is everything your boyfriend is not: cocky, arrogant, self-absorbed, sexist, and is none too fond of you, either. You are an adult, right? You can handle this. What you can’t handle is your boyfriend, as the evening wears on, soaking up the friend’s assholery like a sponge, so that when you are alone in the car, driving home, he turns into his best friend. This leads to an argument.

2. Arguments in the car.

There is no escape when you and your fellow combatant are stuck in a moving car. Crawling into the back seat does not help. Shouting sounds twice as loud and three times more hostile. Silences are highly tense moments when you both think of something even worse to say.

And when the boyfriend stops the car, opens the passenger door, and in a grand gesture worthy of his best friend, snarls “Get out!” you have a decision to make.

Do you exit the car in the dark on a country road and hope you get assaulted so boyfriend will feel terrible? Or stay put and stew silently, planning a revenge which includes no sex, ever, for all eternity? Either way, catastrophic.

So avoid the above two situations.

By the way, WTF, what happened to you on your date?

Peace and love,
agony ant


Dear Agony Ant,

I met my new boyfriend at a hotel bar, and he just disappeared, leaving me alone on a bar stool. Second, I lost my purse, or it was stolen. So I had no money and no phone. Then the hotel called the police and I was arrested for prostitution because I asked the guy on the stool next to me for some money. What’s worse, I think the boyfriend stole my purse.



Dear WTF,

WTF, indeed.

Love and peace,
agony ant

Hot, Fresh, and Salted

Prompt: Just Another Day
Our days our organized around numerous small actions we repeat over and over. What’s your favorite daily ritual?


If you can’t reach the top of Mount Everest, or even get to base camp, or even within a thousand miles of the Himalayas, this ritual is for you.

Himalayan sea-salted, dark chocolate covered smooth, golden caramel.

If you aren’t starting your day with a hot cup of fresh coffee or tea, and one of these:

salted chocolate

…what is wrong with you?

George Carlin’s Spirit

Prompt: Quote Me
Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?


Yes, I do have a favourite quote, Daily Prompts, thank you for asking. There are actually a number of quotes that I refer to, in my little computer notebook, that inspire and challenge me.

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.
—Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal was a 17th century scientist and philosopher, but his words strike me as hugely relevant now. Maybe they will always be relevant, as people continue to twist the truth to suit their own personal, political, or religious agenda— and the rest of us value truth so little that we give such people power.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you, but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for.

I keep forgetting about this one, when I have an interesting or difficult choice to make. I think it illustrates very well that harrowing decisions are not so harrowing after all, if we are honest with ourselves. Since we find honesty so elusive, this is a nice little hack.

To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.
—Oscar Wilde

…Speaking of honesty. Oscar Wilde’s wit is so beloved because there is such truth in it.

Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communication.
—Charlie Kaufman

To the people in the world who overshare: This one’s for you!

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
—Albert Einstein

There’s nothing wrong with getting from A to B. It’s a valuable, efficient, and often necessary path, and I speak as someone whose view of the path is sometimes obscured. Imagination will take you everywhere, and I know that because I’ve been there. It’s really nice.

“Why is it the greatest champions of the white race always turn out to be the worst examples of it?”
—Jesse Custer, addressing the KKK, in Preacher, by Garth Ennis

Perfection. But why is that true?

The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you’ve gotten the fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you’ve gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?
—Chuang Tzu

I like to ponder this one while standing in line at the supermarket.

Life’s a bitch, then you die.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that life is difficult and painful. Yet think about us, you and me— I’m in a warm house with plenty of water. I have frozen lasagna defrosting in the fridge. My doctor’s office is five minutes away, and always available to me. No one will come and chop me up in the middle of the night. Children in my neighbourhood do not carry arms. Your situation is probably much the same as mine. So we are the 1% of the global population, while for the majority the above statement is often absolute truth.

There should be no 1%, not locally, nationally, or globally. There should be no 99% who live and die in suffering, while I complain about Netflix.

May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.
—George Carlin

I feel George Carlin’s spirit is protecting me from evil when I sleep.

Life may have no meaning. Or even worse, it may have a meaning of which I disapprove.
—Ashleigh Brilliant

Don’t you hate when that happens?

Nothing to See Here, but a Beautiful Photograph of Children Playing

Prompt: Life After Blogs
Your life without a computer: what does it look like?

Life without a computer, on a blog, looks like this:




So how about the Weekly Photo Prompt?

Prompt: Optimistic
How do you fuel the fires of optimism?


Children playing in the tall grass. Photo by Fluffy Pool.


They are generally horrible. But we tend to forget that with each passing day, they become worse, until they turn into shitty adults.

So let’s appreciate the little munchkins each day while they are young. Remember the day they were born, when they were perfect. Realize that they will never be as precious again as they are at this very moment. A few will manage to grow into adulthood while retaining some childhood innocence, honesty, and hope. But mostly, they will become shitty adults.

5 Hard and Fast Rules for Writing

Prompt: Key Takeaway
Give your newer sisters and brothers-in-WordPress one piece of advice based on your experiences blogging. If you’re a new blogger, what’s one question you’d like to ask other bloggers?


5 Hard and Fast Rules for Writing, Especially Blogging

  1. Write about what you know. Or, write about what you don’t know! It’s really ideal either way, because with the first you are sharing with others, and in the second you are juggling imagination balls, and that is always fun.
  2. Use vocabulary skills learned from extensive reading and study. Or, use simple words to express yourself, like Hemingway did!
  3. Write to please yourself, not others. Or, why not both? It’s a great pleasure having people enjoy what you read, or learn from it, or be inspired by what you write. Go for it!
  4. Use your own unique, natural “voice”. Or, try writing from the viewpoint of someone completely alien from you. Or write from another viewpoint, but with your style of voice— go crazy! Use exclamation points! Or not.
  5. Use listicles and other “hooks” to gain readership. And did you ever think of making a question the title of your blog? Or just write interesting things, without the need for gimmicks!

Have fun!

Yes Lemonade

Prompt: Not Lemonade
When life gives you lemons… make something else. Tell us about a time you used an object or resolved a tricky situation in an unorthodox way.

lemon squeeze

Yes Lemonade

I love lemons. I love the look, the smell, the feel, and the taste of lemons. They are good for you. They are a perfect creation. The only thing I hate about lemons is the seeds.

When life gives you lemon seeds, strain them out of the juice and make lemonade.

Delicious Lemonade Recipe


1½ cups sugar
1 cup hot water
2 cups fresh lemon juice, seeds removed
1 gallon cold water
1 lemon, sliced


Combine the sugar and hot water in a 1 gallon container and stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and cold water to render 1 gallon. Stir until well mixed. Pour lemonade over glasses of ice, and squeeze slice of lemon on each before serving.



Adapted from a recipe by Paula Deen

Oh, Bucket

Prompt: Kick It
What’s the 11th item on your bucket list?


The town of Siena, Italy was more than accommodating. They set up a wide pergola in the town square, complete with grapevines and intertwining morning glory to give us perfect shade on the soft summer afternoon. Long tables were set with gleaming glasses and silverware, bright painted plates, and bowls of peaches and lemons.

Padma Lakshme, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons were seated already. We’d stayed in touch since my appearance on Top Chef last year. Emeril was invited too, just because. He was already pouring glasses of Chianti for the early birds.

In a few minutes the paparazzi would arrive for their half hour of frenzy, then the evening would be ours alone.

My partner was greeting guests. He was slim and a little sunburnt, having just returned from Everest Base Camp. My sister and her boyfriend Frank had flown all my family in the jet (yes, the jet again) and we could hear them tumbling out of the local taxis that had arrived in the narrow streets off the square, doors slamming, laughter and loud chatter. My older brother brought a large case, as he would be joining me in orbit after the party ended.

The 1989 Calgary Flames arrived en masse, and we placed them with the 2010 Canadian Winter Olympics team, and the current Chicago Cubs, still celebrating their World Series win. Emeril began filling their glasses, too.

Jesus Christ had responded to the RSVP saying he was bringing a guest, and we all wondered who it would be, or Who it would be. Maybe he and Mary would finally go public?

Stevie Ray Vaughn was overseeing the setting up of his mike, amps, and speakers. He was taller in person than I expected. Brian Wilson kept offering up suggestions, and I could see Stevie Ray was getting impatient with him, so I sent Adele over to calm them both. She was always great in a crisis.

The dinner was meant to be a surprise, as it was in my honour, but I’d learned about it and set about fiddling with the guest list and seating plan. I sat Mary Cassat to my left, for example, instead of Martin Luther King, and secretly invited several of my partner’s asshole corporate buddies and their equally assholic spouses, so they could see the good fortune that had befallen us, and I put them at a shitty table. After all, I’m not a saint.

Self-Awareness Month

Prompt: My Favorite
What’s the most time you’ve ever spent apart from your favorite person? Tell us about it.

pink bunny

She checked Facebook again. Still no updates, messages, or likes. It had been twenty four hours, maybe longer. She reached for her cell phone and scanned through Messages, What’s App, and KIK. Nothing. Was her hand trembling? She took a deep breath and clicked the Instagram icon. There was the selfie she last posted, that morning, she in her bunny pyjamas that she thought was funny. Ha, grown woman in flannel PJs. No one else was amused; at least there was no acknowledgement of the picture, nothing at all.

Her Twitter feed had gone cold.

Email inbox was empty, even the commercial account. She was not stupid; she checked her spam folder. No new messages since yesterday afternoon.

She looked out the window in the silence. A lone car crawled down the street in front of her house. She couldn’t tell if the driver was a man or a woman. There was just a shadow behind the wheel. They reached the end of the block, and turned left. The street was empty and cold, the light flat in the overcast midwinter light. It looked like a black and white photograph.

The wait for a human voice was only thirteen minutes. She timed it. The voice was deep, mellow, and soothing. She took her time, spelling out her name and her address, taking a moment to locate serial numbers. There were no outage reports. Her devices were connected and functional, a speed test showing her at the top of her subscribed range.

“Everything seems to be working,” said the soothing voice.

She checked Facebook again. Still no updates, messages or likes. Another hour or two had passed. There were no messages. Her hand trembled. Instagram was frozen, Twitter as silent as the grave, and no email had arrived in her virtual inbox.

Nothing. There was nothing. She was completely alone. She thought of taking a walk, but the day was unfriendly. She thought of reading a book, but the words blurred on the page. She thought of making a sandwich, but the cupboards were bare.

She thought of posting again to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and of sending messages through What’s App and email. It was pointless.

She thought of looking at herself in the mirror. She was too afraid to look.

So she sat at the kitchen table with her laptop. She went to that site, the one she liked, where the news was current and freshly presented. She made a new account, signed in, and called one of her favorite commenters a Feminazi, then asked why there was no White Awareness Month?

She waited. And the replies came. She felt a liquid rush of relief, the closest thing to an orgasm she had ever experienced. She typed some more. She made tea.