All That Kale

Daily Prompt: Puncture

To most people in the UK, if you said “I had a puncture” it would not mean any intrusion of your body, but that you had a flat tire. You don’t have to add the word “tire”. Puncture means flat tire.

When I was very young and my father lent me his powder blue Comet one summer, my girlfriends and I piled in and went for a wild ride in the countryside. Partly showing off, I took a long stretch of highway at top speed and as I slowed to accommodate a curve in the road, I had a puncture.

We were silly teenagers, had no clue how to change a tire, and we had no cellphones then, nor any way to contact my father and rescuer. So we popped the hood (international symbol for car trouble?) and stood around the car, attempting to flag down passing motorists.

Finally a man in his thirties or so stopped, and we fussed and giggled as he changed the tire, in our short cut-offs and crop tops, all legs and new boobs. We were well aware that a gaggle of teenage girls was enough to make a man stop, look, and save the day.

I have an image of this incident in my head: such an incredible, vivid cliché of an encounter. I feel a little ashamed of it now, though I’m not sure why.

And, I realized the flat tire could have happened when I was driving 20 mph over the speed limit, and could have had serious consequences. Everything is a learning experience when you are a teenager.

On to a few of my favourite cartoons!

cartoon now we wait


cartoon masher and potato


cartoon kale for nothing


Kale: I pretended to like it for over a year. But I don’t. Freedom!

Have a wonderful week.

~~FP

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Saint of Piss (Repost)

Prompt: Sink or Swim

hurricane-rita-3

The most beautiful deep blue, cloudless sky I have ever seen occurred during one of the worst days of my life. It reminded me that terrible things happen in happy sunshine.

In this case, a monster of a hurricane was headed our way, and in the wake of Katrina only a few weeks before, people decided not to hang around for Rita. Don’t go east, the authorities told us, because people were still evacuating west out of Louisiana. Can you imagine?

We had a friend who lived near Dallas, so that was our destination. Very early, while it was still dark, we set out in the truck with a few belongings; most of the bags were full of food and supplies for our dog, who was comfortably ensconced in his crate. The streets of Houston were entirely empty, the morning clear, and even the entrance to the freeway was completely abandoned, and we felt pretty good about this adventure.

It wasn’t quite clear sailing to Dallas. By the time it was light, traffic was heavy. We drove by boarded up homes, and trucks passed us, rigged so the occupants could retreat with as many as their earthly belongings as possible: besides gas cans, there were chairs, mattresses, and all manner of furniture.

By the time the traffic came to a halt it was close to noon, and the temperature was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme hot weather was part of the storm system, we were told. It would get hotter.

People got out of their vehicles and walked around in the sunshine. Our dog got a nice walk. We moved north, inch by inch.

We talked to local friends and associates by cell phone while we were still in range. We were all keeping tabs on one another— which routes were taken by whom, and what progress was being made. If any.

Rita was relentlessly pushing through the Gulf of Mexico on her way to rip us apart and blow us away, and we were sitting on a paved prison, stuck with thousands of others, running low on water and gasoline. Like most people, we turned our air conditioner off to save fuel. It was 120 degrees out there by now. The route north is flat and treeless and there were no facilities until Spring, a mere 25 miles north of Houston, and still ten miles away, now a seemingly impossible distance.

People did run out of fuel, and we crawled by them. Some of them were crying. The kids were crying. Some of the cars were abandoned. Where did the occupants go? Most of the cars passing by were full to the brim with no room for extra passengers. Where could you walk to, in that heat, with no water?

There was nothing like a police presence, or any government presence. We were, all of us, completely on our own.

Finally, getting low on fuel, we reached Spring, Texas. We were able to pull in to the gas station, like a few others. It was busy. There was no fuel, not at that station or anywhere.

I went inside the little gas station mart to use the bathroom. There was a very long line. The air conditioner was on, which was a relief, but it wasn’t cool because of the constant stream of people in and out, in and out. A woman in front of me in the line was reeling as if she was drunk. She wasn’t drunk, but dehydrated, because she hadn’t been drinking water, because there was nowhere, until now, to pee. She fainted. A lot of people fainted.

After half an hour I got to the front of the line. The toilet was full and unflushable. There was shit and piss everywhere. I did my best, and as I left, warning those in line behind me, a saint appeared with a mop and bucket. It was the cashier, the only employee in the place. She apologized to me for the condition of the bathroom, then went in and, I presumed, cleaned up that horrendous mess so the people in line had a clean place to relieve themselves. She could have left us to it. There was no gain for her in making that one thing bearable for a bunch of strangers. A saint.

We had a decision to make. It had taken us eleven hours to travel the 25 miles to the Spring gas station. It was another 200 miles to Dallas. The day was still blazing hot, bright and sunny, but nightfall was coming. Did we want to get back in the traffic trying to escape north, and risk running out of fuel? Could we spend the night —or longer— at the side of the road? Would we be safe when the hurricane struck? Would we be safe at all?

One of the great ironies of that day was that of the four lanes of the highway to Dallas, two were gloriously clear. No one was driving south to Houston. The two lanes driving north, stinking of wasted fuel, were bumper to bumper.

We decided to go home and weather the storm. We had just enough gas. We got back to Houston, flying down the empty highway, in half an hour.


  • Originally published January 17, 2016
  • Today’s Prompt: Triumph

Before Prozac

Prompt: Polish


Dear Wednesday,

When I attended my niece’s wedding in May, I thought it was appropriate to have a pedicure and manicure as the finishing touches to my outfit. Some women wear polish all the time… I wear toe polish in the summer, and finger nail polish for weddings. When I die, my surviving family will have no need to dress me up. Weddings only.

Now the nail polish is chipping and it looks dreadful, like an old house with peeling paint.

When I remove it, my nails will breath– literally. Apparently polish suffocates the poor blobs of keratin. We should be kinder to keratin.

And with polish out of the way, here are a few of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon licking plate


cartoon prozac cat


cartoon not bad for art


Have a happy week!

~~FP

The Sharing Wall

Prompt: Distant

number_4_instructions

She honestly couldn’t remember how she got into this workshop, full of brilliant and motivated people. She didn’t remember applying for it, exactly, yet here she was, whisked away to a rather luxurious camp— an isolated, densely wooded, deeply focused retreat.

The Nobel Prize for Innovative Thought was not necessarily handed out to eminent physicists or established scientific wizards, but to anyone who presented a unique and understudied idea in a reasonably cognizant manner. Two years ago, for example, a teenage art student was granted the $200,000 prize for their Theory of Exhaustion, which explored new techniques for neutralizing aggressive white blood cells in the body. An elderly woman was a runner-up last year for her presentation, called Randomness in Nature and Art, and How it Affects Radical Pathfinding.

So, what exactly was Naomi’s reason for being here? She had no ideas, none at all, and it was all anyone talked about in the cafeteria, which was crowded and noisy and boisterous and was the heart of the camp. “Who have you teamed up with?” one young man shouted at her, in between bites of a cheese and banana sandwich. She had teamed up with exactly no one, but answered, “Oh the girls at the end of the table, I forget their names, what about you?” Then she pretended to be summoned from across the room and left the cafeteria by the side door.

Not before she saw the Sharing Wall, where the tradition was that camp participants scribbled their ideas and progress so far. Some were simply mystifying and unfathomable, equations and biological diagrams. Some were just strange, like the person who was examining the historical significance of the points in the written number “4”.

She was expected to scribble her ideas at some stage. The pressure was intense. But her head was empty of any thought but: “How can I come up with an idea? Where do ideas come from? Where can I find inspiration?”

There were no answers. She knew no one at the retreat by name. She was the only one who was an impostor, a fraud, participating in an exclusive workshop in the place of someone worthy and truly talented.

It was twilight, and she walked to the shore of the lake. There were not many others about, since most chose to spark innovative thoughts by brainstorming with others and not by sitting alone in an aluminum lawn chair on a rocky beach. Naomi looked at the sky, a gradient of deep blue above to a white light at the horizon, soft and calming. There was one bright star in the sky, no others. Below, the surface of the lake was tossed by an inconstant wind.

None of her cabin mates returned that night. She awoke alone, very early, and made her way to the cafeteria.

At the Sharing Wall, she took out a stick of charcoal and wrote: “Gradient Inspiration, Discontent, and the Incompatibility of Sandwich Ingredients”.

She was either a genius and the next winner of the Nobel Prize for Innovative Thought, or she was in a dream, and would wake up to a life of gradient, inconstant inspiration.