Finding Harry Potter in London

by DaniGirl on August 9, 2018 · 0 comments

in Euro2018

If there was a leitmotif for our trip to London, it was Harry Potter. I have spent the last year reading the books to Lucas for the first time (after having read them to the older boys several years ago, and of course reading each book several times by myself) and we broke our cardinal rule of “you must finish the book before you view the movie” to watch all eight of the movies before we left, even though we’re only midway through reading The Order of the Phoenix. All that to say, we were well marinated in Harry Potter lore heading into this trip, and we all five love the books and the movies.

Kings Cross Platform 9 3/4

I have a whole separate blog post planned for our visit to the Making of Harry Potter studio tour, but even if you don’t opt for the tour, there is plenty of Harry Potter minutiae outside the Warner Bros. studio to enjoy. Here are a few of the places we enjoyed finding, either by specifically seeking them out or just recognizing them as we passed by, that have served as film locations in the eight movies of the Harry Potter franchise.

In our first day of wandering and exploring, we crossed the Millennium Bridge, otherwise known as the Wobbly Bridge, that the Death Eaters destroy at the beginning of The Half-Blood Prince, and also passed by the Lambeth Bridge, where the Knight Bus squeezes its way between oncoming double-decker buses in The Prisoner of Azkaban. And we passed both over AND under the Tower Bridge, featured in the Order of the Phoenix when Harry and the other members of the Order zoom down the Thames on broomsticks on their way to Grimmauld Place. (We never did make it to Islington to visit Clarendon Square, where the exterior scenes of Grimmauld Place were filmed.)

Harry Potter sites in London

A few days later, we found ourselves in Picadilly Circus, which was too noisy and crowded and busy for our tastes, but you might recognize it from Deathly Hallows Part One, where Hermione brings Ron and Harry to escape the Death Eater attack on the Weasley wedding. St Pancras station was our departure point, where we caught the Eurostar train to Paris. You’ll see its neo-gothic clock tower as Harry and Ron zoom past in Mr Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia in the beginning of The Chamber of Secrets.

Diagon Alley has two muggle locations in London. The first is the Borough Market, where Harry pops off the Knight Bus in The Prisoner of Azkaban. The second is Leadenhall Market, a gorgeous set of Victorian arcades that has been a functioning market since medieval times and also happens to serve as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in The Philosopher’s Stone. What we did not know is that Leadenhall Market, including all its cute shops AND restaurants and cafes, is closed on Sundays. It was still a fun place to explore, just not a great place to arrive hungry and hoping for a good spot for dinner on a Sunday.

Leadenhall Market for Harry Potter fans

And of course, there is King’s Cross Station, home of Platform 9 3/4 and one of my favourite scenes in all of the movies, where Harry and Dumbledore discuss life after death, and choices, and Voldemort. It also happens to contain two of my very favourite quotes from the movie franchises:

‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’


‘Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.’

Platforms 9 and 10 (and, ostensibly, 9 3/4) are behind a barrier that you can only cross if you have a valid train ticket. However, they have mocked up a more accessible Platform 9 3/4, complete with trolley passing through the brick wall and nearby gift shop, where fans can queue to have their photo taken. They even supply scarves in the Hogwarts house of your choice, and have employees standing by to manage the queue (and your scarf) and take photos. A staff member takes photos of everyone, but you are also welcome to take your own, and you are not obligated to buy the official version. We queued for nearly an hour but found the staff quite accommodating, letting us take individual photos of the boys, then a group photo of just the boys, and finally one with the boys and me in it. (Beloved preferred to remain on the safe side of the camera!) Pro tip: you can save yourself the bother of queuing up at King’s Cross if you’re planning a visit to the Warner Bros studio tour, as they have the same set-up but with poorer lighting and basically no line-ups.

And even with all of that, there are Harry Potter film locations in London that we missed. If you remember Dudley and Harry encountering the snake in The Philosopher’s Stone, you’ll find the Reptile House at the London Zoo familiar. Scotland Place stands in for the Ministry of Magic and nearby Westminster Tube station was closed for an entire day when it was used as a location during the filming of The Order of the Phoenix. Though the movie shows the Leaky Cauldron as being accessed through Leadenhall Market, the books imply access off Charing Cross Road, and of course Diagon Alley is where one would see the imposing white marble of Gringotts, the wizard bank, but is better known to muggles as Australia House, the Australian high commission.

There are, of course, no shortages of Harry Potter souvenirs available in what seemed like almost every retail establishment. We were unable to resist the attraction of wands for each boy, t-shirts and Pop figures with Harry Potter themes. And I’m positively delighted with my Marauders’ Map scarf, as I do solemnly swear that I’m up to no good. We managed to resist the full set of Professor Snape’s dress robes (£299!) or a life-sized Firebolt at nearly £500.

One of our less-traditional Harry Potter souvenirs came from a candy shop near Covent Garden where we found sherbet lemon drops.

They’re Dumbledore’s favourites, you know!

Make no mistake, we did not (entirely) reduce one of the world’s greatest cities to a giant Harry Potter scavenger hunt. We also learned about everything from Londinium to Henry VIII to the origins of Greenwich Mean Time. I have to tell you, though, nothing quite came close to the magic of London through a Harry Potter cinematic lens!


Navigating London’s Underground with kids

by DaniGirl on August 5, 2018 · 1 comment

in Euro2018

I would not have expected that navigating through London’s (in)famous Underground would be as significant a touchstone in our travel memories as were our trips to the Harry Potter studio, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich and the Tower Bridge. It was certainly something we were anticipating with interest, partly because Tristan, Simon and I read Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere a few years ago, and many of the stations and places played a part in that story, and partly because the Underground is sort of mythic in pop culture in its own right. Certainly, it was both more interesting and less challenging than I had fretted in the planning portion of our adventure.

Adventures in the London Underground

The Oyster card, London’s smartcard system for paying fares for travel in the Tube, bus, light rail and some river boats, seemed fairly straightforward, but I still remain unclear on whether or when one should opt for a special travel card or a visitor Oyster card. I also could see that Simon would be able eligible for half-priced fares (ages 11 to 15), that at 16 Tristan would pay adult fares, and Lucas would generally travel free accompanied by a paying adult. There were myriad options for kids, though: youth Zip cards and travel cards and young visitor discounts and visitor passes; no matter how much I read, I could never quite parse the differences and benefits between them.

In the end, we just used the regular pay as you go Oyster cards. I’d been told it was easy to both acquire the cards (you can get them from ATM-style machines in each Tube station) and to find a Transport for London (TfL) employee to activate a special youth discount on Simon’s card. It was even easier than I expected – there were minimal lines at the machines at the Heathrow station, and there are universally helpful and patient TfL folks at every Tube station to help you figure out how to purchase, reload, or add a youth visitor discount to your card. In fact, if a certain youth manages to lose his newly acquired and pre-loaded with travel money Oyster card on the voyage between the airport and arriving at your flat in your first 90 minutes in London, the station attendant will good-naturedly chide said child as “quite naughty” and give you special sleeves for all of your family cards so that no more of them go astray.

Adventures in the London Underground

Soon, we were all pros at tapping in and out as we moved through various Underground stations. Lucas, who at age 10 travels for free with an adult, learned to look for the wider accessible gate with paddles rather than turnstiles at each barrier so we could move through together. I even showed the boys to watch for the quick flash of remaining balance on the Oyster cards as they tapped out.

While I was a bus commuter for years in Ottawa, and while I’ve occasionally used subways in Toronto and Montreal and even Paris before, this was my first experience with extensive use of a subway system. I have a couple of observations. First, it is generally a stunningly effective system. I can see how it would be utter chaos when the system breaks down, but once you get the gist of it, the Underground is a safe, easy and efficient way to zoom around the core. We enjoyed the Tube even better when we learned to avoid the crush of rush hour congestion we accidentally got caught up in a few days in a row, before we learned to travel in off-peak hours. Second, I was surprised at how far one has to follow labyrinth tunnels up and down and over and up and down and over again to make a connection in what is purportedly the same station but occasionally feels like it’s in a different time zone. Third, London in general is not equipped for heat waves of the sort that gripped the city in July of 2018, and nowhere is this more evident than in the un-air-conditioned Underground. Several times we opted for walks of 30+ minutes on sore and tired feet rather than dealing with sweaty, crowded Tube rides of half that duration. Fourth, one does not mess with the rule that the right side of the escalator is for standing and the left is for moving.

Adventures in the London Underground

The fifth and final observation needs a paragraph of its own. The Transport for London trip planner is a great tool, with some caveats. Rather than downloading the app, I simply bookmarked the trip planner on the home screen on my phone, and used it constantly. Annoyingly, it clears your journey when your phone goes to sleep or you open a different app, so I got in the habit of screenshotting our planned routes – I realized only after deleting several days’ worth of them that those screen shots alone would have made a fun souvenir collage! And the trip planner defaults to the fastest journey, not necessarily the most convenient or even sensible, resulting in some suggested journeys that comprised a mash-up of Tube and bus options that were optimized by customizing the results to include only Tube options. In short, if you’re going to London for the first time and planning to use the trip planner (which I highly recommend) I also highly recommend that you play with the trip planner for a few days ahead of time so you get used to the options and quirks, I mean, features.

Since we live on the rural outskirts of the city, the boys have not had a lot of exposure to public transit. And by “a lot” I mean pretty much any at all. By the time I was a teen, living in the smaller namesake London in Ontario, I was able to navigate from one end of the city to the other using transit, and I’ve often thought that one of these days I’m going to have to invest a day showing the boys the peccadilloes of OCTranspo. After seeing how quickly they learned to read the station placards to differentiate between east and westbound lines, following directional signs through endless tunnels and even coming to rely on their quick eyes to navigate busy stations, I have every confidence that they’ll be able to master the relatively simple Ottawa transit system.

Adventures in the London Underground

Using your debit card to top up the cards on the go is as easy as could be. We spent about £45 per adult for a week of travel, including extra for overground tickets to Hampton Court Palace, Watford Junction (Harry Potter studios) and a ride on the Thames Clipper commuter ferry. Here’s another tip for you. You’ll have to pay a £5 deposit when you purchase your Oyster cards from the automated machines at the station, but you get the deposit back and any unused funds up to a certain threshold (I think it’s £10) from the same machine – just look for one that says refunds are available. Just when I thought I was so clever, having spent the last of our British coins on snacks at St Pancras station waiting for the Eurostar, I found myself with nearly £50 more in coins after cashing out our Oyster card deposits and unused fares. More snacks, boys – a LOT of snacks, and quick before the train to Paris comes!

{ 1 comment }

We’re freshly home from our epic two-week adventure in London and Paris, and I have SO MANY stories to tell you that I don’t even know where to begin. So, let’s start — at the beginning!

Although I’d worked myself into a veritable lather of anxiety by the time our departure day arrived, the overnight flight from Ottawa to Heathrow went reasonably well. We had just enough trouble on departure and arrival to make for funny memories – like the pre-booked taxi that first arrived at 7:30 am instead of 7:30 pm, and the second taxi that arrived on time but did not have enough seatbelts for five people and could not (would not?) accept credit or debit card payments. All’s well that ends with an on-time arrival at the airport, and the credit card issue was merely foreshadowing for what was to come.

I knew that Heathrow was to the west of the city, so I was entirely unprepared to look down and see this picture-perfect view of the heart of London on our approach. You can see the coffee-coloured loop of the Thames River, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, the Shard, the commercial towers of the City — spectacular, and such a great introduction to the city. If you’re flying in, consider seats on the right side of the plane for a chance to see this extraordinary view.

London day 1

We got off to a bit of a shaky start when we could not get in contact with the property manager of the flat we’d rented. How to text or make local calls from a mobile phone was something that I’d assumed would be straightforward, and so was of course the one thing I didn’t research endlessly and also the one thing that caused us the most distress. My instructions were to text the property manager when we cleared customs at the airport, and he’d meet us at the flat. Except he didn’t respond to my texts, and my calls didn’t go through. I emailed the property owner through the rental service, and did not get a reply. We rode the Tube into the city, stopped for sandwiches none of us enjoyed at a local deli, and tramped morosely to the flat feeling increasingly dismayed. We were clustered on the porch, with me trying and failing to connect with the rental service and just about to fully panic that we’d been duped by some sophisticated rental scam when he appeared on the sidewalk in front of us. He’d been wondering why he hadn’t heard from us and thought he’d drop by the flat to see if we’d arrived.

The flat was amazing. AMAZING! We chose Pimlico more or less by chance. We were first going to go with an apartment outside the core areas in Walthamstow, and then we considered dual hotel rooms in a moderately inexpensive place in Bloomsbury. In the end, the flat was perfect for us – cramped to be sure, but we were really only there to sleep – and with just enough hints of luxury to make it feel like home. I can’t imagine ever staying in a hotel with the kids when staying in an actual home is an option. One of the main things we noticed is how not an inch of space goes to waste, like the dual washer-dryer combo machine and the footstool that doubled as an end table and excess toilet paper storage. You know what they didn’t have? Window screens. I never quite got used to the fact that windows were thrown open all day and night (poor London has been sweltering this summer) and bugs never seemed to be an issue. This is the view that greeted me when I opened my eyes each morning – so quirkily perfect!

I’ve been planning this trip for 11 months. There were spreadsheets, annotated maps, and a teetering stack of travel books, to say nothing of websites, blogs and travel forums. On our first day in London, we had our priorities straight. First, we visited St James Park, which was a lovely 20 minute wander from our flat, not to ogle nearby Buckingham Palace, but because it was referenced in one of my favourite books, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, that I had read aloud to Tristan and Simon last year. We admired the ducks, just as Crowley and Aziraphale had done, and the pelicans, too. St James Park would turn out to be a bit of a nexus for us – each day we wandered somewhere new, the most efficient walk home seemed to take us through St James Park again. Despite the grass being burnt nearly brown from the unrelenting heat this summer, it came to be one of our favourite places.

London day 1

I had a lot of things mapped out on my annotated maps – star tourist attractions, food and shopping, and key photo locations. One layer of maps was dedicated to locations of the iconic red telephone boxes. I needn’t have made that particular effort, though – they were not hard to find. Lucas kept count, and we passed more than 50 of them in our wanders. This set of four in a row was near Trafalgar Square, and was practically begging for me to take this photo.

London day 1

Did I mention the red call boxes? (We hadn’t even arrived at the flat to drop off our bags when we took this one. They were overtired and overheated, and still patient enough to do this because I asked them to. Just, um, not patient enough to look like they were actually enjoying it.)

Fun with call boxes

As I said, I’d actually mapped out maybe a dozen spots where the call boxes were located, and yet these ones were a mere block from our flat. This was our last night in London.

Fun with call boxes

So that’s how it starts. Stick around and I’ll tell you more, about Harry Potter and museums and Greenwich and markets and the Tube and parakeets and palaces and manga and fish and chips. There will be photos, and travel tips, and a self-deprecating anecdote or three. And then we’ll talk about Paris, too!


This was the third year in a row that I met up with this fun family for a “day in the life” candid documentary photo session. The first two were so much fun that they ended up being among my favourites of the year, and I was worried that we couldn’t possibly have as much fun for the third year in a row.

I needn’t have worried.

It was a bright, sunny late spring morning, and we had a lovely time exploring the historic locks at Long Island on the Rideau Canal.

Family fun at the locks

Family fun at the locks

I love the setting for the wide variety of backgrounds – grassy hills with trees, giant stone locks with wooden doors and bridges to clamber across, concrete steps and big wooden docks in the open sunshine. It’s a photographer’s paradise!

Playful family photography in Ottawa

Family fun at the locks

Family fun at the locks

Of course, it certainly helps that this family is content to just hang out and have fun while I follow them around with my camera. And it also helps that the kids (and of course, the parents!) are super adorable and easy going.

Family fun at the locks

Family fun at the locks

Family fun at the locks

Family fun at the locks

Playful family photography in Ottawa

I really love this quiet little moment between mom and daughter. My favourite photos from a session are always the ones I wish I had of me and my kids, and this is definitely a keeper. No posing, no looking at the camera, so stress – just mom and daughter, being together.

Family fun at the locks

And how can you not love a kid who spontaneously dances like this?

Family fun at the locks

Seriously? Adorable.

Candid Manotick family photography

Documentary-style candid family photography sessions are my favourites. Invite me to come along on your family’s favourite summertime adventures: a day at the beach, a picnic at the park, family game night or a trip to the farm. If you love to do it, you should preserve those memories – I promise that those are the photos you’ll treasure in years to come, when you see your family’s quirky personalities caught forever.

I’m now booking for late summer and autumn sessions, and spaces are limited, so get in touch today!

{ 1 comment }

It went something like this:

**ring ring**


DaniGirl! It’s the Universe calling. Long time, no chat!

Universe, you old dog star! It has been long time! What’s new?

I’ve been having a grand time telling Stephen Hawking how the universe ACTUALLY works, and I think it’s safe to say I have literally blown his mind.

Ha, I can imagine! I don’t suppose you’d let me in on it too? Wait, nevermind. I can wait.

I can assure you it’s worth waiting for. So, hey, I wanted to talk to you about this thing with your teenager.

Uh oh. Which thing?

You know, the gender fluidity thing. About him being non-binary in his gender identity.

Oh that! Yeah, that’s been a parenting adventure for sure. What did you want to talk about?

I’ve been watching it all unfold, and it looks like it has indeed been an adventure for you. It’s been about two years since he started talking to you about it, right?

About that. He says he’s known since at least Grade 5 that he didn’t fit into what felt like “normal” male gender identity, but it wasn’t until he heard about our incredible friend Amanda and her wife Zoe and her daughter Alexis that he began to have words for all the things he understood about himself on an instinctual level.

Words like trans and non-binary and genderqueer and Two Spirit?

Yup, those ones. He says that Two Spirit is what he most closely identifies with. He feels a male and a female aspect to himself, or in his words, hears a male and female voice in his head. But Two Spirit is a term that’s particular to Indigenous culture, and has very specific cultural context that just doesn’t work for non-Indigenous people. So, we’ve settled on gender fluid and gender creative.

Does that mean he’s gay?

Not at all. Sexual orientation is who you want to sleep with, who you are attracted to on a physical level. Gender identity is about how you perceive yourself, your internal sense of self as male or female or a blend of both — or neither. It can be aligned with your biological sex or not.

So he’s transgender?

Well, being trans means that there’s a disconnect between your biological sex and your gender identity, so in a way, yes. But he doesn’t feel like he is exclusively male OR exclusively female, and he still feels connected to his male identity. He just wants to explore the female part of his identity as well.

That doesn’t sound so bad. The teenage years are all about experimenting with identity. Does he want to use different pronouns or change his name?

Not so far. We talked about using “they” as a singular, non-binary pronoun, and he said he considered it but that it felt like a lot of work, and a big inconvenience for everyone around him, so he’s happy enough to keep using his male pronouns and his given name.

Have you taken him to a doctor or a psychologist to discuss this?

Well no, we haven’t had to. When he first started talking to me about this, I admit that my very first reaction was to think of this as a problem that had to be managed. But over lots of conversations, reading, and research, we’ve realized that his gender identity is not a problem that needs to be fixed, it just is what it is. Really, what difference does it make whether he’s wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt or a bra and makeup? He’s still the same witty, smart, perceptive kid he’s always been. And he’ll be happier if how he looks on the outside matches how he feels on the inside – we don’t need a doctor for that.

So he wants to wear women’s clothing?

Sometimes. It’s part of his expression of that female aspect to his gender.

And do you think that’s a good idea?

What I think is a good idea is supporting and loving my child no matter what he wears or what his gender expression is. I love that he’s so comfortable with himself and the space he occupies in the world that he feels comfortable wearing a dress in a world that says boys don’t do that. He’s got this subversive streak, so is this related to that? Maybe. I mean, it’s all just a part of who he is, and if society isn’t completely on board with the idea of gender fluidity yet, it’s society’s problem to work out.

Are you worried that his peers, and society in general, will not be accepting of his non-binarism?

Yes, yes I am. It’s my biggest concern in all of this, that people will be cruel and hateful. Here’s the thing, though: he doesn’t care. He’s been thinking about this for two years, and been taking small steps like wearing shirts that are cut in a more feminine way, and leggings with boots and a long tunic. Some of the kids have looked at him askance and a few have teased him, but he saw it as their problem, not his. He’s got this. I wish I had his courage and poise.

I’ve noticed that kids and teens these days tend to be open-minded about gender than their parents’ generation.

I noticed that, too. I mean, kids can be assholes to each other for sure, but on the whole, I think Millennials and my kids’ generation are much more open-minded and accepting of concepts like being pansexual or trans or genderqueer than my fellow Gen Xers and the Boomers. I think being gay in the 80s is a lot like being genderqueer in 2018, and I’m hoping that in 30 years, being non-binary is just as normalized in society as being gay is today. Did you catch what he said about pushing boundaries?

Which time?

Ha, yes, he does love the concept. This one stuck with me, though. It’s actually what inspired me to finally write about this on the blog. He said, “Someone’s got to push the boundaries to see how far we can go.” I admit, over the past couple of years, I’ve had a few times when I wished it wasn’t my child who was on the pushing edge – but he is, and here we go!

Sounds like you’ve become pretty comfortable with all this now?

Mostly. I mean, I’m fine with him expressing his gender in whatever way he feels comfortable, and he’s convinced me that he’s not anxious about being “out” about it, so I’m trying not to be. It’s funny, five years ago I barely knew what the word transgender meant. Now I have half a dozen trans friends, a couple friends parenting trans kids, and a non-binary kid of my own. I’m working full time as the LGBTQ2+ Network coordinator for my department, and I have been facilitating training on LGBTQ2 inclusion in the workplace. Talk about becoming an accidental advocate!

If you’re thinking of yourself as an advocate, why have you been waiting so long to write about this?

You know, I’ve been wondering that myself. We’ve been talking to our family and friends a bit at a time, but he’s a private, introverted sort of kid to begin with, so we’ve been taking everything in small steps. My strongest urge is to protect him, and protecting his privacy seemed a part of that. I’ve said before, as the boys get older, their stories are no longer mine to tell. But by NOT talking about it, it’s beginning to feel like we’re hiding it, and that it’s something to be discussed in whispers, which is not at all the case. He wants to spark conversations to normalize the experience of being non-binary, not suppress them like it’s something to be ashamed of. So we’re going to the mall to find a bra that fits him and if someone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem to manage.

It sounds like you’ve got this figured out!

Well, yes and no. We know we love him and support him no matter what, and we know letting him be his most authentic, whole self is the only choice. It’s the rest of the world we’re a little worried about, and he knows it might be a harder road being out as gender non-conforming. But he’s thought about it, he acknowledges the risks, and he wants to express who he really is. How could we not support that? And we don’t want to seem like we don’t support him by not talking about it, you know? So let’s normalize it by talking about it.

Good luck with that shopping trip, DaniGirl. You’ve always got some sort of adventure going on, don’t you?

We sure do, Universe. We sure do. Tell Stephen Hawking we miss him!

Will do, DaniGirl. Until next time!


We’re back with more stories! In case you missed it, the adorably amazing Christine Hennebury and I have been playing a game that we’ve recently opened up for anyone who wants to play along. Each week, I take or choose a photo and share it with the players, each of whom use it to craft a piece of flash fiction. We’ve moved to a bi-weekly schedule to accommodate the madness of June and what I hope will be a lazy summer break. I like how this week inspired a lot of the players to riff on the theme of relationships, and quirky ones at that!

Photograph of a rocking chair on a porch

Worth the Wait
by Christine Hennebury

“I’ve heard that’s all she does, just rocks in her chair and watches the road. She’s waiting for him to come home.”

“Ah, well that explains it then. I heard that he was getting released this afternoon. They must be inside.”

“At their age?”

“What does their age have to do with it?”


“Listen, why don’t we finish painting this porch another day?”

“Yeah. Good plan.”


Click through to read:
The Old Rocking Chair
by Gal Podjarny


Sunday Morning
by Mimi Golding

He picked up her knitting that she had left on the porch and moved to the rocking chair.

Holding her last project in his lap, he looked out across the veranda, his mind drifted to the past, to the images of her working the garden, her apron filled with the bounty she collected for the soup pot. With it came the memory of scent, of the aromatics cooking in the morning’s bacon renderings.

Chubs, their skinny marmalade barn cat, rubbed up against his legs, bringing him back to the present.

“Woman! Get me a beer!” he shouted over his shoulder.

And that was the last thing he remembered.


by Bob LeDrew

The rocker was moving. By itself. Again.

He looked over. Just the wind. A strong breeze making its way around the house, finding the objects that could be moved, leaving those to heavy for its ephemeral power.

But it was pleasant to imagine otherwise. That had been her rocker, as this was had been, and still was, his. It hurt to sit there alone. But it was also necessary. He needed to experience the pain, over and over, like a tongue poking at a gapped tooth’s absence, like a teenager, cutting herself to feel the pain as familiar.

He sat because if he was going to be reminded she wasn’t alive anymore, he might as well dive into her absence, to drown himself in the pain that her death had brought. One man, sitting on a porch, with an empty rocker rocking. Out of balance and asymmetrical, like the rest of his life since the day he’d come back from the hospice with a large paper bag full of her few personal items.

The rocker rocked. It was a beautiful day, and the wind coming around the house cut the heat of the sun nicely, vinegar to the sun’s sweetness.

And then he heard the wind whisper his name.

Want to get in on the game? Write your story and leave it in the comments, or leave a comment and I’ll add you to the list!

Read previous stories here:
The school bus: A photo-story collaboration
The workshop: A photo-story collaboration
The gate: A photo-story collaboration
Perspective: A photo-story collaboration
Patience: A photo-story collaboration
Anticipation: A photo-story collaboration
The Plan: A photo-story collaboration


The one with the veggie dog fail

2 June 2018 Ah, me boys

We’re trying to eat more thoughtfully these days. I still like Michael Pollan’s advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” My brother has been trying to follow a mostly vegan diet for a while now, and while I don’t think I want to give up meat entirely, and I know for a fact I […]

2 comments Read the full article →

The school bus: A photo-story collaboration

20 May 2018 Creative licence

Over the years I’ve developed a fondness for photos of random things, photos that beg you to ask the question “why?” Lucky for us, the question “why” makes great inspiration for flash fiction. Each week, I send a photo to a growing list of players, and they riff on it with a piece of flash […]

1 comment Read the full article →

Euro2018: The carry-on vs checked luggage question

15 May 2018 Euro2018

Help me, sophisticated travels of the blogosphere! With two months left in the year-long adventure of planning our trip to London and Paris this summer, we’ve arrived at the time for some tough decisions. Today’s debate: carry-on versus checked luggage. I’m an inveterate over-packer. Nearly two decades of motherhood has made a good boy scout […]

4 comments Read the full article →

The workshop: A photo-story collaboration

13 May 2018 Creative licence

We have three players this week in our ongoing photo-story game. Each week, I toss out a photo to a group of players, and whomever has the time and/or inclination sends back a story inspired by the photo. I find it interesting that these stories have varying vibes of darkness and melancholy, despite the bright […]

1 comment Read the full article →