Despite the title, these pixels are anything but lazy. This is a site of my own photos, my own art, my own written text and more. There are no memes. This is not a portal to someone else’s brain. It is an outlet for my own creative soul. I plan to post words and pictures about things that interest me and all the projects I'm exploring in multiple formats: long, short, deep, and shallow. Share and enjoy.

Locked Spaces

fiction
Grass with Water

Gaige pats his hip pockets at least four times and shakes his dry bag upside down over the contents --which are already scattered on the asphalt beside his truck-- before he resigns himself to the idea that he may have dropped his keys in the river. Or near the river. Or on the path to the river. They are definitely not where he thought they were.

He rattles the truck door handle one more time, pointlessly hopes that the door might come loose of it’s own miraculous accord, then curses under his breath.

“Shit.”

Hands on hips now, he surveys the mess around his vehicle, an assortment of clothes, shoes, camera mounts, ropes, cables, clips, and zip-bags of food.  His oars are leaning against the box of the truck in the shadow of the canoe which is already loosely perched on the roof rack.

He glares down the path towards the boat launch, and sighs a heavy sigh.

A moment later he is mounting the camera to the side mirror of his truck and hitting the record button. “Well-” he moans into the lens.  “—I seem to have lost my keys.” he says giving an exaggerated shrug of exasperation, and he pans the camera towards the ground to show his scattered belongings to the invisible audience.

Gaige is sitting on the open tailgate of his truck learning against the upturned canoe when Scarlett appears rounding the corner bend into the parking lot on her bike. He casually lifts and points his camera towards her approach and records a long steady shot as she coasts to a stop an pair of strides away.

“Don’t.” She says. 

He balks and reaches for the record button to stop the camera.

“I just rode fifteen kilometers in forty-five minutes to rescue you. I look like hell.” She adds. “And I don’t want to be in the video this week.”

“You look fine.” He shrugs as he jumps down from the tailgate and steps towards her. Scarlett is straddling the bike with two feet planted on the asphalt. Gaige says, “Besides, it’s part of the story of it. Getting locked out of the truck. My gorgeous girlfriend comes to the rescue. We’re a regular sitcom now.”

She frowns and rolls her eyes.  Reaching into her saddlebag she extracts a keyring with a single key and fob, dangling it from one finger towards Gaige. “Did you even look for the other set?” She asks. “Our house keys are on that one. You’ll need to replace all of it if you’ve lost it.”

“I looked.” He shrugs again. “I’ll show you the video. I walked up and down the path — waded into the river where I put in — everywhere.” He lifts her bike into the back of his truck and hooks the tire with an elastic teather. “I’ll show you if you want to see.” 

As he jumps down, he closes the tailgate and rounds back to where Scarlett is standing. She is holding his float-vest in one hand and his original keyring in the other. “You didn’t check all your pockets, I see.”

“You found them—“ 

“Did you want to record this part?” She tosses the keyring overhand, too roughly towards him. “Or should we just go home now?”

Garden Update, Part 7

Posted
1 year 1 month ago

August looms and I was sitting on my deck wondering why about half my carrots seemed to be wilting.

On closer inspection, it turned out that a thief was at work. I suspected — and it turned out that I was proven right a day or so later — that a little mouse had found the salad bar in my backyard and was enjoying a late night snack (...obviously, with such improved eyesight from all the carrots!)

Sadly, nearly half the carrots now look like this, gnawed at the top where the leaves meet the roots into little carved out, concave excavations, mostly severing the connection and causing the leaves to wilt and leaving the roots of questionable quality for eating.

Expensive compost.

I had hoped to avoid this by being a little more careful as I tended the garden this year, mounding soild around the base of the carrots as they grew and gradually poked from the surface. But the never-ending rain (as good as it was for their growth) made the chore a defeating effort washing away each evening then baking dry each morning.

Alas, I dropped a few mouse traps between the rows and have sent the meal bill to at least one rodent this week.

But where there is one mouse...

6 Lies I Tell Myself About Why I Haven't Written a Novel ...Yet

Posted
1 year ago
Bookshelf and Unicorn

When I was ten years old I decided I was going to be a writer.

I know it was age ten, because I was chosen from among my fifth grade elementary school classmates to participate in a so-called advanced learning group (read: a class for kids who work too fast on their normal work and would be a distraction to the other students if not given something extra to do every day.) This turned out to be a creative writing class.  

Inspiring teacher meet receptive kid in his formative years.

We self-published single editions of little "novels" that we wrote that year, and they were placed as borrowable items in the school library. And kids actually checked them out! I was hooked.

That was the last time anything I ever wrote was in a library collection, but the notion -- the need, the obsession -- of penning a great novel someday has clung to my heart like a benign tumour ready to emotionally destroy me should it ever break loose from the realm of possibility and tear a piece from my chest as it careens through my blood stream. 

Terrible metaphor, but in my mid-forties I'm still sitting here writing the first chapters to dozens of stories that never go anywhere, and there are a lot of much more terrible reasons why.

I first need to focus on my career, family, life, and everything else. 

Many people quote the now famous ten-thousand hour rule as the key to achieving greatness in anything. Learn an instrument. Master a sport. Write amazing literature. But as the originator of the idea, Malcolm Gladwell himself says it, that rule is often misinterpreted. It's not putting in ten thousand hours. It's the ability to put in ten thousand hours. It's the support systems, free time, lack of concern over paying a mortgage or cleaning a house or raising a well-adjusted daughter that allow for ten thousand hours to be invested. People who have no "everything else" to worry about, can log ten thousand hours and get it done.

I have a job. I have a family (including a teenage daughter, hashtag girldad!) I have friends and hobbies and obligations. All this also makes for a fine excuse not to spend an entire weekend behind a keyboard.

It's also a bit of a lie, because I also spend a lot of time watching mediocre television, playing video games, and wandering the park listening to podcasts. It's how you invest the time you have, and while I may not have ten thousand hours, I've got at least ten per week I could use a lot better than I do.

I haven't found my great idea yet.

Moby Dick is an epic tale of obsession, of a man consumed by revenge, and the fruitless result of clinging to the idea that life can have a single, all-dominating purpose. Moby Dick is also a work of art, a great novel the likes of which would be rare and difficult to replicate.

Chasing my great idea reminds me of Moby Dick. The notion of finding the perfect story, the bestselling idea, the novel that would become my magnum opus is in itself a tale of self-destructive obsession. In my lucid moments I can write articles like this and remind myself that the great idea may not even exist, and even if I was to stick it with my pen it would likely destroy me in the end -- as like as I could capture and contain it.

The lie I tell myself is that I actually want to find my great idea. 

In fact, I'd be better to squander some looser writing and hone my craft on some lesser idea and then save the great one for the day I'm ready to face it down -- or just keep dreaming and aspiring to find it.

I need to focus on quality before I spend a lot of time writing quantity.

Getting hung up on perfection is a brutal excuse for anything. I often tell the people I work for and with to strive for something called MVP or "minimum viable product." It's the notion that (a) nothing we do can endanger life, liberty or happiness if it isn't perfect and (b) it's better to get something simple that works shipped now and make it available to our users than spend months polishing and refining and miss out on that time when someone could have enjoyed or benefited from the product.

I've been writing a bit of fiction in parallel to the timeline in which I wrote this article, and it's been published under the same idea of MVP and to fight against the lie of "focusing on quality" first.  I have an idea that's pretty good, and I'm just going to put what I write out there, lightly edited, because if I keep going back to polish it I never will. It will collect digital dust, never to be read again.

It's kinda my own sort of MVS ... minimum viable story.   

I want to have a distinctive style, and I haven't pinned that down yet.

I find as I gain experience that I'm slightly obsessed certain authors as much because I like their styles as that I like their stories.

My go to example of this is Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut has this distinctive, off-the-cuff, casual style that is so grounded in clear, precise, simplicity of voice that it comes across as if it was blurted out by an amature -- which is exactly the opposite of the truth. It's said that it takes a genius to play an idiot character, and in the same way it takes careful style and practice to write as perfectly imperfect as Vonnegut.

I envy that. And I spend way too much time thinking about my own style and trying to find my voice... which makes me more reluctant to write anything that doesn't fit with that voice... y'know... the one I haven't found yet. 

It's hiding just around the corner, I'm sure of it.

A dumb lie and a dumber reason not to just write and let it happen.

No one wants yet another novel from yet another middle age white dude. 

As I write this there are protests around the world online in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I support the Black Lives Matter movement. We all should. Black Lives Matter. 

I also support the idea that we build a better world by elevating each other in all things that we do, no matter our heritage, gender, colour, creed, or any other defining characteristic.

I struggle as I write anything these days with the paradox of wanting my own voice out there -- because it's my voice, the only one I have -- but not wanting to have it replace another under-represented voice that equally deserves to be heard, read, enjoyed, understood.

Yet, implying that there is limited room for voices is likely an easy lie that I tell myself to shift the responsibility to just write more, even just for myself.

True, there are only so many hours in the day that any person can spend reading a book and it would be great if everyone had equal access to every audience — but the answer is more lifting each other up and over the bar... not just lowering that bar.

In other words, just write what's right.. and not use societal equity as an excuse to try less hard individually. 

When I'm older and wiser I'll have smarter things to say. 

When I was ten years old I decided I was going to be a writer.

Wait, did I tell that story already?

I too often forget that when I was ten, other ten-year-olds wanted to read the stories I wrote.

I assume someone may have wanted to read what I had to say when I was twenty ... thirty ... and in my forties, even. Hey, I'm in my forties now. Wait a minute!

It's easy to lie to oneself and make the assumption that someday the smarts will roll in fully and completely and then -- and only then -- make all those words worth reading.

But tell that to my ten-year-old self -- even I might like to read his stuff again.

Six Dozens

Posted
1 year ago

So it goes that four and half months into this pandemic ... quarantine ... lockdown ... work-from-home experiment ... I’ve baked my six-dozenth loaf of sourdough bread.

I think at one point I joked about reaching one hundred before this was all over. That joke might be on me. Be careful what you wish for, some say.

Seventy-two loafs of pandemic sourdough into the effort, however, it’s still possible to claim to have learned a little bit more, grown a little more, stretched the mind along with the dough. I even bought a lame to score my loaves. It’s getting serious.

(Not that I ever claimed expertise ... merely routine and repetition.)

But as a matter of fact, since my last sourdough update I’ve become a little obsessed with the notion of bakeries. The prospect of economic collapse, unlikely but non-zero-probability of job loss, and the ever-present inspiration granted by the voyeurism of obsessive YouTube-watching means I have put more than passing thought into a what-if question of quitting it all and opening a quiet neighbourhood bread factory. Brad becomes baker.

Such notions were leavened from watching internet videos of passionate small-city bakers extolling the simple complexities of waking up each day with the sole purpose of baking bread. Obsession. Mission. Enlightened existence.

I’m not ready, but if I need to step away from the digital services career path I’m on, maybe an apprenticeship in a local bakery would scratch some kind of mid-life itch. I’d need a good bakery name though. Bread. Name. Business plan.

Sigh.

If nothing else, watching all that ‘tube had the benefit of providing one simple bit of advice: a trick to get me past my lumpy dough. The generic flour I was using lately was especially bad for it, but often I’m plagued by the early mix of water and flour resulting in pea-sized lumps of clumping flour that need to be kneaded smooth. The less-than-obvious but-it-works trick is reversing the order of operations for mixing the ingredients. Really. Rather than adding water to flour ... bah-da-boom ... adding flour to water. No lumps. I can’t explain it, but five batches of five have proven this viable as a fix. (I’ll update after more data is available.) Who knew?

Well ... a real baker that’s who.

For now, however, I’ll merely pursue my at-home bakeshop, small scale operation, where seventy-two loaves of pandemic-style sourdough sandwhich bread is still an impressive feat.

Lost and Finds

fiction
Log in the Woods

There is little more than a momentary glint of reflected mid-morning sunlight squinting through the dense foliage of the trees on the shore.  Gaige plunges the paddle into the water to his left. Holding the blade against the current of the river he jerks the canoe into an abrupt shift of direction as the prow leans towards the bank.

Five hard strokes on the left side and the canoe is pointed perpendicular to the flow of the river, and then alternating stokes on each side of the red boat brings it close enough to shallow water for Gaige to nudge the gravel riverbed with the paddle prying himself against the current towards a crook in the bank where he can draw in.

He steadies himself with the wood handle of his paddle resting on the smooth aluminum trim on either side of him. he then steps with a single practiced arch of his leg with one foot into the murky water, grabbing the camera that is spring-clamped to a forward cross brace as he lunges out with a splash into the river. 

He presses record with a practiced thumb as he holds the canoe steady with the other hand.

“Still in practice mode today, friends, but as I was paddling down a new stretch of river this morning I thought I caught a glimpse of something in the woods on the bank.” Gaige speaks in a hushed voice to the camera lens. “I’m just going to secure my canoe —“ he swings the lens towards the boat “—and then we’ll climb up onto shore to see what is hiding in the trees.”

He clicks the record button again to stop the video, and gingerly sets the rig onto the seat of the boat. With the same momentum he grabs a white rope from the floor and tosses it towards a small tree leaning from the eroded shore towards the water. His hand snakes down the line and he tugs it tight and knots it securely in a hitch around the tree’s lower trunk.

Wading a few steps back out into the water, plodding deliberately on the uneven riverbed below, he grabs the camera once again and scurries back onto dry land.

Recording. 

“I likely drifted thirty or fourty more meters downstream before I was able to row myself to shore.” Gaige explains to the camera, pointing it into the woods in front of him as he climbs from the bank. “I’m not one hundred percent sure what I saw—“ he is stepping between the trees now ”—but I know a few people who run through the trails down here—“ he pauses to push a branch clear of his face “—and if I’m right—“ he is jogging up a single-track trail leading into a small clearing set back a dozen paces from the water, finally exclaiming with a yalp “— Yes!”

Weather-worn and slicked with a greasy layer of rainwater and decaying leaves, a trampoline crouches between the trees sheltered from the glaring late-morning sunlight.  The legs are spotted with rust and two of the springs are missing leaving a flap of the mat dangling limply.  Footprints smudge the entire relic, and impressions of multiple shoes have dried in the half-baked mud and grass that encircles it.

Gaige pans the camera across the scene, angling the shot between his own giddy expression and the trampoline as he walks the circumfrence and narrates the moment. “You never know what you’ll find out here in the woods, do you? I’ve heard a few stories about this place, even seen a photo or two—“