The White Ribbon [Repost]

Prompt: Halloweeny

Carmen’s hazelnut cake did not take first place at the bake-off, nor even second place, but that was not the strangest part.

She knew the secret ingredient (ginger) and she used fresh hazelnuts from the tree in Paul and Ruth’s backyard; the batter was fluffy and light and the cake perfectly risen and golden tawny in colour. But the usual Hazelnut Cake won the contest yet again. It was allegedly a blind tasting so Carmen couldn’t cry foul. The second best cake came from Cheryl-Ann something, who squealed like an orgasmic pig when her name was announced.

No, the strange thing was, shortly after she returned home and put the coffee on, she heard her beloved Uncle Matt and Auntie Thomasina knocking shyly at her back door.

She knew it was them before she saw them through the glass panes. Auntie as plump as ever, he with a stern angular face masking a tender heart; in the same homely clothes they’d worn when she last saw them, so long ago, in the church.

She asked if they would like some cake and coffee and they happily agreed, and sat at the kitchen table while Carmen sliced her hazelnut cake and poured hot coffee from the electric percolator on the counter.

Auntie Thomasina and Uncle Matt chatted about their dogs, and the possibility of a thunderstorm, and about the potholes on the road leading to their home, which had lain abandoned for over twenty years.

Uncle Matt still had that exceptionally persistent cowlick in his hair, now grey, at the back of his head, only kept in place by some kind of hair shellac that Auntie Thomasina used to pick up at the pharmacy. He’s too old to worry about cowlicks, she laughed. In response, Uncle Matt took out a small blue velvet box and opened it to reveal an engagement ring, one small diamond in a setting of white gold. Would you do me the honour? he asked Thomasina.

They told Carmen who murdered them. It was their neighbour, Clement, who had been in a dispute with them over an easement. He was a nasty sort, they told Carmen. Was he still alive?

Carmen said she would definitely find out, and refilled their coffee cups.

This cake is delicious, said Uncle Matt. Is there ginger in it?

Perhaps you could bake our wedding cake?  said Auntie Thomasina.

Her cake had only taken the white ribbon, but Carmen said: “I would be delighted.”

They didn’t hear her. They were gone.

  • Original Prompt: Ghost, August 17, 2016
    Reposted with minor edits.
  • Cartoons return tomorrow!


Prompt: Froth

frothy coffee

Hello Wednesday!

This morning I a had a delicious cup of coffee made with warm frothed milk that looked a lot like the above picture. My sister-in-law has a monster of a milk frother on her counter— about the size of a stand mixer— while my tool of choice costs about $8, runs on a battery, and looks like this:

milk frother

Heat some milk or cream in the microwave for 30 seconds or so, then use the frother until the milk is fluffy and, well, very frothy, then pour over your hot coffee.

Ok, I need more coffee now. BRB.


[Wipes away milk moustache]

Even though they are not related in any way to today’s prompt, froth, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon babysitter

cartoon anywhoo_malignant

cartoon politician back

Has spring sprung where you are?



The Nine Steps of Forgiveness

Prompt: Tea

Hello Wednesday,

Tea is always good for you– not only because of anti-oxidant properties, but because of the spiritual calmness that a good cuppa offers in a moment of crisis.

Coffee, meanwhile, is sometimes a miracle elixir, sometimes a perilous toxin, depending on the research and time of day. I love coffee, but it turned me into a morning monster (in all seriousness). When I had to quit caffeine, and when decaf was not considered drinkable, I turned to tea.

How dull, how boring, how English. However, people no longer had to give me a wide berth in the morning (they were, again in all seriousness, afraid of me before my first cup of coffee), and I’ve grown to like green and white teas. Sure, they taste like leaves and grass, and are anemic in colour. One gets used to that, for the sake of good health and community commitment.

May I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is tangentially related to today’s word prompt, Tea?

herbal tea party

cartoon dog in car

cartoon pig ribs

It’s time to fire up the barbecue. Sorry, little pig.


Percolate and Day 17

Prompt: Percolate


Our coffee percolator looked nothing like this one.

One aspect of NaNoWriMo culture is its fixation with coffee, not just the many “write-ins” that occur in coffee shops, but also the romantic notion that novelists are fuelled by masses amounts of coffee. If you love coffee, have you thought of writing a book?

I used to be quite the caffeine fiend— seriously, before I had my morning fix I was truly a bear. My family and friends feared me, and did their best to have the coffee brewing by the time I growled out of bed. I had to stop drinking coffee by three pm, or be awake all night. When I had to be awake all night (finish an assignment, at a party or whatever), I ran on adrenaline and idiocy, as a rule. My very favourite coffee came out of an electric percolator: very hot, not like the lukewarm drips you get from a boxy machine.

I’m off caffeine but still love a good cup of decaf now and again, especially with ideal pairings, like, say, a donut or cake. Tea, usually green, with a bit of lemon, is my beverage of choice, in the interests of health and calmness. Not sure it has those effects on me, though.

My Five Things

Prompt: City

frog pogo stick

Patsy was out on 17th Avenue, walking her mutt of a dog, when she saw a man emerge from the rain sewer. The dog started barking before Patsy noticed the grill, on the street next to the curb, rising up by the force of two human hands and arms, until a possibly young man in a black t-shirt and black jeans stood upright. Two wet leaves clung to his shirt. He reached down into the drain and pulled out a green pogo stick. He hopped from he street up on to the boulevard and to the sidewalk, where the little dog had lost her voice in fascination.

“Hey,” he said, not to Patsy but to the dog. He dismounted the pogo stick and knelt down. “Hello there, what are you? What’s your name?”

“She’s a mutt, probably some terrier in there,” said Patsy. “Her name is Donna.”

He vigorously scratched the dog behind the ears. “Donna, is it? Hello Donna.” He looked up and grinned at Patsy.

“What are you doing?” Patsy said, forgetting her manners.

“My five things,” said the man.

Ten minutes later they were on the patio of Bean There, Done That, with iced coffees. Donna dozed under the table.

“You just pick five things to do,” said the man, whose name was Horace. His curly hair, somewhat wet-ish from the drain, was dry now and so fine that the breeze shook the curls and they flew up and around in all directions.

A car honked right beside their table, and Donna awoke and barked.

“Inconsiderate,” said Horace.

“What else have you done?” Patsy asked him.

“I smoked a cigarette on my old high school grounds, which was a tough one since I never smoked tobacco,” he said.

“So these are things you always wanted to do?”

“Not necessarily. I never wanted to explore what’s under a rain grate,” Horace said. “It just seemed like something I wouldn’t ordinarily do.”

“And the pogo stick,” she said.

“I stole that, that was the fourth thing.”

“Just one more to go,” said Patsy.

“Yeah,” said Horace. “I haven’t changed the world; that’s not the point. But let me tell you, it feels good.”

There was an almost indetectibele scent of fish wafting from Horace to Patsy; she wondered if there were fish in the city drains?

“What is the point?” said Patsy.

Horace didn’t answer directly. “You could start with something that you just want to do,” he said. “It’s ok if you always wanted to do it, but it’s not required.”

“I,” said Patsy after a pause, “always wanted to yell at a man.”

There was a bowl of brown sugar on the table. Horace took a heaping teaspoon and stirred it into his coffee.

He said, “I’m a man.”

Patsy had Donna sit up, then she put her hands over the dog’s ears.

What the hell do you think–” she shouted at Horace. “You don’t even try? Can’t you even, don’t you have eyes?

Heads turned towards them. Patsy shouted louder.

Why haven’t you ever? For God’s sake, listen! Stop, just stop! And don’t ever say or don’t even think it will— if you just, but you won’t!  …Fuck you!”

A couple of people passing on the sidewalk had paused, but found the plot of the scene a bit foggy, so moved along.

“I’m done,” said Patsy with a smile. She took her hands away from Donna’s ears. Donna shook her head, and her ears flapped against her jowls.

“How’d it feel?” asked Horace, after waving away the concerned server.

“Liberating,” said Patsy. Then she deliberately swept the iced coffee from the table on the the brick floor, where it loudly shattered. The server came running.

“I’m so sorry,” Patsy said as the server cleared up the mess, sweeping the bits of glass and ice into a dustpan.

“No problem,” he said, “It happens.”

When the server left, she said, “I never ever wanted to do that, except now, as part of my five things.”

“I understand,” said Horace, nodding his head.

“There is something else I want to do,” Patsy said.


She leaned close and whispered in his ear.

“That’s possible,” he said. They paid the bill, leaving a generous tip, and went to Patsy’s apartment. When they were done, Patsy walked Horace down to the sidewalk again. The sun was low in the sky.

“I guess that’s my five,” said Horace.

“I have two more to go,” said Patsy.


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