Story 2/52: Taking Care


cb radio

 CB radio on the dashboard. (Photo: ^ Missi ^/flickr)
Taking Care ©2018 R.D. Girvan

I could see him out there, hovering. Ostensibly sweeping his driveway, my neighbour Louis was waiting for me to notice him.  I walked through the pantry and opened the overhead garage door to coax him closer.

While worth it, being friends with Louis did take a bit of getting used to.  He had spent his life long-distance trucking, and had never been home long enough to interact deeply with others.  No social media was there to create a portable network of buddies; most of his conversations had been punctuated by “breaker, breaker.” He had come of age seeing the world through the virtual bubble of his cab as if in amber. He meshed with the families our young bedroom community about as well as a black-and-white photo would sync with streaming video.

Hello, Gang of Glorious Readers (both of you! haha), Rhea here.

I am entering stories into contests, some of which do not allow any publication of any kind, even on a baby blog like mine. So if you would like to read the entire story, send me your email address and I will forward it to you.

Best always, RDG


Story 1 of 52: Role Model


Role Model © 2018 R.D. Girvan


The horses died first, then the donkey. Well technically, the neighbors died first, followed by their dog. Then the horses and the donkey.

Mike, digging a trench with the backhoe, tried to make himself laugh so he wouldn’t cry. Should have called that stupid donkey ‘Dug’ instead of ‘Doug’, he thought,  L – O – fucking – L. 

He scooped a fresh bucket of dirt, backhoe lurching as the track caught the edge of the pit. Through the dusty windshield, he could see his wife stagger across the yard. His laugh crumpled up and died in his throat.

Hello, Gang of Glorious Readers (both of you! haha), Rhea here.

I am entering stories into contests, some of which do not allow any publication of any kind, even on a baby blog like mine. So if you would like to read the entire story, send me your email address and I will forward it to you.

Best always, RDG



Guest Writer: From Santa’s Chair


I am a member of the Write Night Writers, who gather weekly at Spruce Grove Public Library.  I am hoping to show off their work here, as well, so here is a festive piece from Greg Turlock.  (Thank you for letting me post it, Greg!) From Santa’s Chair ©2016 Greg Turlock.

From Santa’s Chair – a True Story – Merry Christmas!

I used to be Santa, at a mall years ago

What a fond memory, I cherish it so

One chilly night, as I sat in my chair

A sweet little girl, had a question to share


“Santa, I’ve been good, tried not to be bad”

“But I need your help, for my mom and my dad”

“I don’t want a present, but please can you”

“Help mom and dad get back together, Is that something you do?”


How shocked I was, I babbled and tried, To give words of comfort, but inside I cried

“Santa will try, to bring love and care, To your dear parents, to cherish and share”

“So have a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year”,

She hugged me and smiled, But left me a tear


Not her tear, but mine, it rolled down my cheek

Her gift was special, Her gift was unique

She gave to me, so I could give to her,

And although this memory, is only a blur


I was proud to be Santa, for her on that night

I hoped my Santa, did what was right

The stars lit the sky, on that night long ago

The lonely drive home, seemed shorter you know


I found Christmas that night, I hope you do too

Merry Christmas to all, Merry Christmas to you


Ho Ho Ho

Greg Turlock

Freakin’ Awesome Album to Spend Your Gift Cards on: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats



I discovered some great music recently: the self-titled album by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

The first time I heard “S.O.B.” (you know the one, it’s not spelled out in the song, goes, “Son of a *itch! Get me a drink!”) on CBC Radio 2, I was galvanized by it, consumed. I wanted to hear it again; I actually reached for the dash, trying to replay the song. (My car doesn’t do that and we don’t have satellite radio…)

S.O.B. was so good that I ordered the disk, and WOW! The tracks are fantastic blues-y, rock-y songs that demand – and reward – your attention. You can hear hints of Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison, but while other artists may have provided inspiration, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have their own sound.  Also, the tracks are all very different from each other, the songs are not samey-samey. The rest of the disk proves it: these guys are anything but one-hit wonders.

I love the music but I really respond to the words. Their lyrics feel vulnerable without wimpiness and honest without drama. They sound like a bunch of big strong men who hurt sometimes but still can rock your World.


52 Story Challenge


“Write a short story every week,” Ray Bradbury said, “It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

I hope he was right. My schedule means that my 52 stories will take more than one year – no matter.  I’m pretty sure he would have said something like, “Just jump, already.” Here goes!

PS: RIP Mr. Bradbury


I’m Ba-aack… at School

Uoft cont studies

Last year, I started my Creative Writing Certificate at University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.  It is a 7-part program, with 6 courses and a Final Project consisting of a novel manuscript.   They offer lots of on-campus classes, but most of the courses are provided online as well.

My goals for the program are (a) to learn more about how to write; and (b) to develop the habit of writing daily. I noticed that the kids need me less all the time, and decided to position myself accordingly. The plan is that my increased free time will coincide with an increase in my skills and training.

It’s really working – at the time of this post, I will have finished three of my six courses.  I am learning so much! The instructors have been terrific, the work is pure thought-provoking fun and I love the deadlines. I haven’t made it to writing every day yet, but I am writing most days, so getting there.

And, I have even managed to refrain from posting comments on the Discussion Board about how it used to be called “distance learning” and you had to mail your assignments in.

Carpe that Diem



Carpe that Diem ©2017 R.D. Girvan

A little while ago, this happened:  Three times in one day, I approached my computer to research… what? When I sat down, my mind was as empty as the search field. I had no idea what I had been about to Google.

Sometimes, memories scatter before me like tadpoles in the shallows, blurry black shapes highlighted against a ridged sandy shore.  This time, though, there were not even shadows darting away. Nothing. My inner eye showed only an image of blank sand under a foaming wash.

All my life, I have enjoyed my intelligence, my mind. I love puzzles, puns, cool words and finding the perfect way to turn a phrase. Making a new realization, mastering a subject, taking a mental leap and landing upon firm logic – these things delight and fascinate me.

I have always envisioned my mind as a magnifying device – a telescope or a microscope – and will mentally “dial in” my focus when I am working hard on something. And that day, my mental telescope had lost its bearings and was gawking at a black hole. My microscope, dialed in all the way, was straining hard, illuminating a blank slide.

That experience made me decide: today. I do things I want to do today.

While I still can, right? Write.

One Kind of Kind

Best. Bird's Nest. Ever

Best. Bird’s Nest. Ever

©2012 R.D. Girvan

I love when I find proof that we humans can be graciously humane, especially when the act is committed–and the evidence left–unconsciously.  With no quick glance about for an audience, no need for applause.  If you look closely at this picture, you’ll see traces of one such quiet, matter-of-fact kindness.

The power guys spent a few weeks working at this transfer station (all their extensive repairs and modifications are off-camera).   They had several trucks there every day, plus one there every night, for the Security personnel guarding the supplies.

They were supervised by a bird of prey. I think it was a juvenile bird, since one could usually see it keeping an eye on the men below from within its nest. Sometimes you would see another bird, presumably its mother, even higher above them, riding the air currents.  I’m not sure what breed it is, but it’s the type that build nests out of twigs the size of walking sticks.  OK, maybe just child-sized walking sticks unsuitable for the Alps, but as you can see in the photo, the nest is quite large.

As you can also see in the picture, the nest is on a pole that (now) serves no other purpose.  They re-routed the lines, installed new poles, removed old ones–did over two weeks of work on that site, and when they moved on, they left the bird’s pole right where it was.  Whether they left it there for good or for just as long as the young bird would need it, right now it is the best…bird’s nest…ever.

P.D. Day


Photo © 2010 R.D. Girvan

P.D. Day © 2011 R.D. Girvan


If you drive 30 minutes (40 in the Winter) NW of Edmonton, you’ll arrive at the small town of Onoway, Alberta.  If you know it or of it, you’ll probably agree; it is small.  Sleepy.  Very quiet, mostly, except when multitudes of motorcyclists arrive for a famous pig roast which used to happen on May long, or August long or perhaps on the Labour Day long weekend.  This year, it was on all three. 

Today was Friday September 20th, 2013.  When I went to town to run an errand, I noticed a different kind of hubbub surrounding a motorcycle.  There was a police cruiser parked on one of the main streets, by the pizza joint.  This restaurant is named “Burger Baron”, but, since a) Rocky owns it and b) his burgers are good but his pizzas are better, we all call it “Rocky’s Pizza.”  Beside the cruiser was a fire department  ambulance, one of those sturdy red first response trucks that look like the coolest die cast truck ever, all grown up.

If you’ve never spent time in a small town, you have to realize that sirens are so rare out there that when the Fire Department pulls out of their Hall, people go to the window to see who’s driving the truck.  Two emergency vehicles beside each other means a serious event.

I asked the water store guy what had happened.  “Oh,” he said, sighing, “I’ve already told this story to so many people…”  But he filled me in as he filled our reverse osmosis containers.

A 3 wheeled motorcycle had driven over the rail road track and something had fallen off.  The driver stopped and went back to get it.  The trike started to move, so the passenger attempted to apply the brake.  They must have engaged the throttle instead, for the trike took off over the tracks, screamed through the four way stop, blew past the nail salon, jumped the curb and crashed into a pipe guard that separates Rocky’s from its parking stalls.  Cue the sirens—and the neighbours.

My friend at the water store said he thought no one had been hurt. One of the motorcyclists had been taken away in an ambulance (a THIRD emergency response vehicle!) but had walked to it without assistance.

In my mind’s eye, I could see the look on the driver’s face, as he bent down to pick up the errant motorcycle part, turning around to see his trike leaving him, him running after it.  I can see the trike in slow motion as it made its dash for freedom and bucked off the passenger.  I imagined what could have happened if the traffic guard had not been there, and the trike slammed into the restaurant.  I can almost hear the crash, plastic shattering off the bike and the siding crumpling against the fender.  By then the momentum would have been mostly spent, and I envisioned a cartoonish man in the bathroom at that end of the building, reading the news, answering the dull crumping thud of impact with a cheery, “Occupied!”

As I drove home, I realized what could have happened.  What should have happened, really, on this sunny September Friday afternoon.   At 4:08 p.m.  On a Professional Development Day.

There was one thing that should have been present, but was thankfully, serendipitously, absent:  all the kids.

There was no school today.  There were no knots of children lining the sidewalk to be run over, no little brothers straggling behind older sisters walking with their friends.  No groups of boys watching girls giggle over cell phones, no boarders, no jocks, no geeks.  No students walking home, none heading from the Library to the Bank or the Bigway grocery store.  No one on their way to the candy counter at the Shell gas station (which we all still call “the Tempo” ).  Thank goodness.

On a different Friday, this could have been an horrific accident, instead of an amusing “you shoulda seen it!” traffic story.  I guess it’s true; life can turn on a dime.  Perhaps comedy and tragedy are fraternal twins.  And timing really IS everything.

Hearts Found on the Road

16 Hearts of Stone

Photo ©2010 R.D. Girvan
Hearts Found on the Road ©2010 R.D. Girvan

I have a thing for heart-shaped rocks.  Fascinated by their very existence, I am struck by the fact that they are by-products of slow-moving, implacable forces working to some other end entirely.  I choose to think there is a purpose, a Higher Purpose, one too significant to be revealed; a secret worth keeping.

Regardless, for all of Time, since Day One–or maybe even long before that–the forces of Nature have been working on these stones, inadvertently turning them from mountains to boulders to rocks to pebbles.

All the while, as we are busily living and dying, and our parents are doing the same and our parents’ parents’ parents’ were busily living and dying–as far back as Time goes, there were rocks being worn away into shapes that we now appreciate as symbolic and pleasing.

I find this contrast between the eternity of Nature and the immediacy of one’s daily life to be humbling and embarrassing, diminishing and yet motivating.  I have the same reaction when I gaze at stars, but the heart-rocks… these urgent reminders of my own human frailty and mortality keep appearing at my very feet.  They arrive as unearned bounty, as lucky talismans, proof of odds overcome.  It’s as if someone were saying, “Here: look.  If this is what can happen by Chance, what could be wrought if one put their mind to it?”

Am I reading too much into it?  What does it all mean?  Seriously, is there a Design, a Hidden Hand?   Considering all the immense forces of gravity, pressure and time… the Earth’s plates shifting and glacial movement across the Prairies… keeping in mind the oceans forming and then receding, mountains rising and crumbling… it makes me wonder.  Was it all meant to be?  Was all that pressure brought to bear so I could walk down my gravel driveway and discover another stone heart for my collection?  Or perhaps it is all just a happy accident, purely random–including my presence on the driveway.