Dinosaur Family Unit

Prompt: Qualm

dinosaur family

I have qualms. You have qualms. Everyone has qualms. When we look at the word, the letters of the word, we realize that qualm is a word that is illegitimate because it is misunderstood.

If qualm was a real word, it would be like a crusty fungus. It would a hymn sung in Latvian. Qualm would be the clump of grass that gets stuck under your shoe. Or what the friend does who lies and then pretends it was to protect you.

A qualm is a line of verse in a free form poem that does not stand alone. It is an oak barrel used too many times to age wine. It is a mysterious lump on the back of your dog that feels like a tick but isn’t. It’s that slight breath of air from the bathroom when someone didn’t turn the fan on. A qualm is a mathematical term, meaning the flaw in the formula no one wants to recognize.

Have you ever watched a movie, and then forgot the ending? That is a qualm. A qualm is what a dinosaur family unit was called. It is that part of outer space that looks empty, but only because our telescopes aren’t strong enough.

A qualm is a reassurance from a double agent. A qualm is the unit of salt you put on the rim of a Margarita glass. It’s the sum of the ages of all your closest friends.

It is the shape of a lightning bolt, the smell of a firecracker, the velvety touch of the inside of a cat’s ear, an echo in a small room, a bullet meant for someone else.



Prompt: Roots

Wednesday! Here you are again.

It is spring, and here at home we are cleaning up last year’s weeds and debris, including those insidious roots that run under the grass and sand. We human beings think we are so smart, but roots are smarter. They come back no matter what we do to prevent them, so I have to give roots a lot of credit. We should devote more study to roots and other persistent indestructibles, like cockroaches.

Moving on from nightmare insects, another kind of root is our ancestry… we all have roots in the same primitive family that may have had the very conversation as the first of a group of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon they're all neanderthals

The other cartoons have no connection to the prompt “roots”, but it’s Wednesday, and they are about cats and dogs.

cartoon cat exec with string

cartoon dogs overthinking

Happy Wednesday!


Walking into Traffic

Prompt: Instinct

Dear Wednesday,

When I think of instinct, I think about how people don’t rely on theirs enough. Think about how much sensory data we absorb in a day, or a week, or a year— far too much for our feeble, impressionable conscious minds to decipher. But our brain still tucks away all the bits and bobs of information, filters out the truly irrelevant while looking for patterns, and then regurgitates them back to us in the form of instinct or “intuition”. But with so many daily, persistent distractions we seem to listen to our instincts less and less.

This doesn’t seem like a good idea. Instinct is an evolutionary and necessary skill in the same way that common sense is. Without them, we’d be walking into traffic, falling off cliffs, dating psychopaths, and sending all our money to Nigeria. Is it just me, or does it seem like people are doing exactly those types of things more and more?

When we ignore a random comment from a new acquaintance, our instinct does not. Our instinct notices a light switch that suddenly doesn’t work. A creak in a floorboard… when there aren’t any floorboards. A stranger who is too kind. When a child says, “I’m fine” our idiot conscious mind says, oh great! Our instinct analyses differences in posture, expression, voice, and circumstance and says, something is wrong! While we consciously rationalize and deny, our instinct notices and alerts, all with the goal of informing us and protecting us from harm.

It takes only seconds to stop and listen to that little niggling feeling. Facebook can wait for a few seconds, can’t it? It is far better to face an unpleasant thought or inconvenience immediately than allow it to gather mass like a snowball until it smothers us.

On that light note, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, loosely connected to the day’s prompt, instinct, by way of animal instinct, featuring humans, tigers, kitty cats, and a dog.

cartoon tiger 2

cartoon new cat

cartoon grr

Happy week!


Focus Group

Prompt: Nervous

Hello Wednesday,

A little while ago I listened to a sample lesson from an online course about meditation. It was the usual routine (from what I’ve sampled): starting with the relaxing of every body part, and steps deeper and deeper, a scene by a lake, drifting in a boat…

Hello? Oh right, anyway this lesson also had me slowly clench my right fist, and then suggested that I could reach the same ultra relaxed state in the future quickly by simply forming the same fist. Guess what? It works.

If I’m feeling a bit stressed or nervous, it is a good relaxation technique, providing I’m not driving or operating heavy machinery.

Relating to the theme of nervous, may I present a favourite cartoon, followed by two others that are not related, but tickled my stressless funny bone anyway:

nervous cat

dog walk

focus group

Have a healthy, stress-free week!


Filthy and Day 16

Prompt: Filthy

Hello Wednesday,

My NaNoWriMo novel is coming along very slowly, but I am at least adding words every day. It really does take over your life a little bit, so I’m doing my best to avoid a neglected, filthy house and piles of dirty laundry. It’s a challenge!

In lieu of filthy (the daily prompt) content today, may I present a few cartoons that have nothing to do with filth and everything to do with dogs, a cat, a rat, and an elephant:



I grew up with Babar picture books, and I promise children everywhere, this is just a whimsical cartoon:


Stay clean!



Prompt: Banned

Hello Wednesday,

I once banned myself from a drugstore, which was one of a cluster of shops in the neighbourhood. You see, I was a hungry, rather stupid young teenager, who saw a huge, open display of chocolate bars, and no one around. So I very discreetly (I thought) loaded my pockets, one delicious candy treat at a time, until the owner/ pharmacist came out in his white smock and said to me, a regular customer: “Put them back.”

One chocolate bar at a time went back to its rightful spot. What was probably half a dozen treats seemed like a hundred, as that humiliating few minutes stretched into what felt like hours.

The owner did nothing else; did not call the police or try to notify my parents, for which I should have been grateful. I never set foot in that drugstore again; nor did I try and steal chocolate bars.

Now I buy mini chocolate bars to hand out on Halloween. This is a huge farce, since we rarely get children at our door anymore, so we get to eat the candy. We’ve never been “that house” that hands out healthy treats, unlike the subject of this, the first of my favourite cartoons this week:


I’m guessing this cartoon was banned from the pages of the New Yorker magazine:


And look at this cat’s face:


Happy Wednesday!


Outside the Box

Prompt: Perplexed

Dear Wednesday,

Life is perplexing. Look at numbers. Six is a good number, as are seven, nine, and ten. All the others have strange and perplexing spellings.

One. Really? No other such letter combination is pronounced that way.
Two— no rational explanation.
Three. Are you kidding?
Four. Just annoying.
Five. The worst one of all, an F and a V?
Eight. WTF?

Let’s lighten up with a few of my favourite cartoons:




Serenity now,


Damn Cat

Prompt: Learning

cat bw

Friendly was hiding.

Jerry Plankton was fine with that, except that the cat might be doing some damage, scratching or peeing, or something. Lily-Rose said he would likely sleep most of the day, and that she showed him where the litter box was (in the hall at the top of the basement stairs), and that it was “unlikely” there would be any messes made.

Friendly had a bite— which is to say that he got into a fight with another creature, who broke Friendly’s skin with its teeth. This didn’t surprise Jerry, as Friendly was one of the most ill-tempered cats he had ever come across. He was territorial to the extreme. He would hiss and raise his paw, sharp nails fully extended, if you came too close to invading his private space, which appeared to be about a three foot radius. He had already scratched the top of Jerry’s hand, and pulled the threads on one of Jerry’s good pair of church pants.

Lily-Rose had superficially treated the bite, which was on the left side of Friendly’s neck. When she returned from school, she would take Friendly to the vet. The cat couldn’t stay at Lily-Rose’s house because her cat door didn’t lock, and she didn’t want Friendly to go outside and possibly engage in another fight, or pass along some kind of infection to the other cats in the neighbourhood.

She seemed to love that cat. The cat, in return, benignly ignored Lily-Rose.

Jerry thought he might as well find it and see if it was ok. He stoically tolerated the sharp pain in his knees when he crouched down to peer under the bed in the guestroom, and then almost suffered a scratch across his cheek. Friendly’s eyes were shiny amber marble orbs. Jerry recognized terror, loathing, and panic in those eyes as Friendly stared unblinkingly at him, daring him to come closer.

Jerry retreated and went to check the litter box. On the floor outside the box was a perfectly formed oblong of cat poo, Friendly’s message to Jerry.

Some songs lyrics flew into Jerry’s head:

I guess you say
What could make me feel this way…

Why would Friendly be so utterly fuck-you?

He was, Jerry thought, behaving the way Jerry felt that terrible year after his wife died. He also felt fear, loathing and panic. He also kept everyone who might have helped him at a distance, a distance closer to three miles than three feet.

Poor, damn cat. Jerry had time, years even, to come to terms with what happened, to forgive and almost accept. Jerry was a person with a brain and a heart that wanted to heal. Friendly, a cat, would live angry and fearful, and would die angry and fearful.

Jerry Plankton got a wad of paper towels and some Spray-Kleen and scooped up the cat shit. He thought he might go outside and spend some time in the garden. Lily-Rose would be home soon.

Poor, damn cat.

Spending Lives

Prompt: Price

saint of cats

“How much is it?” she asked.


“I only have four left.”

“Then your time is up. But I’ll give you a day to spend the four you have.”

So she went after that black Alsatian that always tormented her, climbed the power pole, shredded the trousers and lower legs of that nasty man who once kicked her, and ate all the fish that she found in the garbage.

Then she happily put on the wings, and flew to heaven.

Night Owl

Prompt: Because the Night
Are you a night owl or are you the early bird? What’s your most productive time of day? When do you do your best work?


Tonight, I combed myself. Kooa also combed me. It was a ritual, when darkness fell.

Then, we visited the ugly tree. It was our least favourite hunting ground, because we are sensitive to our surroundings. If only the orchard had better game. We made our first family in the fragrant orchard.

But now we had to feed that family. The ugly tree was sharp and unpleasant. The tree had been abused and neglected, and was unwelcoming. But Kooa and I found places there, among the tangled branches, and knew the creatures would come out in the perceived safety of the darkness.

We captured several field mice, and a cat, which we regretted. Cat was not appealing to our babies, and more importantly, we understood the cat and respected her. We were both night hunters, desperate and hungry.