You Can Get Anything You Want...

This is my blog's second birthday. Hard to believe that I had my first taste of blogging all of two years ago.

Keeping a journal has been great fun, and it has been a remarkable record of where I've been and what I've done. I've had a surprisingly (to me) full life over the past two years, and I've done a few things that I don't want to forget. Thankfully, now I won't.

Ordering lunch at St. Jerome's cafeteria, a crowd has gathered at the grill counter. One overworked cook is on duty, taking orders.

"Grilled cheese!"

"A hamburger!"

"A hot dog!"

"A veggie burger!"

"Grilled cheese with bacon!" (that's me)

"A hamburger for me!"

"Give me a veggie burger with cheese and lots of bacon!"

That stops the crowd cold. As one, we turn to the girl who has made this order. She blushes. Lunch continues.

Another Blogger Joins the Fray

It would be remiss of me if I didn't mention that my good friend, Dan has caught the blogging bug. He has adapted his own teaching website (which already goes above and beyond the call of duty to reach out to his net-savvy students -- and their parents) to include his personal thoughts. The site is now called Dopplegangland, after a favourite :Buffy: episode.

As you can see, he writes well and is quite funny. We're still ironing the bugs out of his template, but you should still like what you see.

Also, Erin has been using our digital camera more and more. She is posting the results on her blog. I have to admit, I'm jealous of her ability, but I guess it only makes sense that a poet as talented as she is would be good at light and composition.

Renegotiating Impossible Things


The picture on the left is by Lotta Tjernstr'm and is copyright to her. I'm able to use this because the picture is unmodified (beyond resizing) and my use of her picture is non commercial. She is quite good, and I recommend paying a visit to her website.

The workshopping and the rebuilding of Rosemary and Time continues. Thanks to Erin and other good critiquers, chapter four is now done, and I'm moving into chapter five. We finally pushed through the Impossible Things segment, and we've decided, after consulting with a number of experts on this issue, that it would be in character for Rosemary to want to be kissed.

With that out of the way, here's how the Impossible Things sequence now reads (an earlier draft was here, and the sequence below follows from here):

Peter and Rosemary saw movement on the black sea. A boat was gliding across the surface, and a shrouded figure was standing on the prow.

The boat pulled up to the jetty and stopped. The figure floated off. Covered from head to toe in a black cloak, he advanced on the party as though he were gliding on air, though they heard the boards creak beneath him, over the slap of oily waves. Peter and Rosemary backed into Puck.

The Ferryman stopped. "Who asks for passage across the Sea?" The voice boomed from the dark space under his hood.

Puck nudged Rosemary forward. She swallowed hard and tried her best to curtsy. Her jeans made it feel silly. "I do."

"And who are you?"

"Rosemary Ella Watson."

"And who are your companions?"

"Robin Goodfellow, her guide," said Puck.

There was a moment's silence, then Puck nudged Peter. He started. "Peter Calvin McAllister."

"The lady's champion," Puck finished.

"What?" squawked Peter.

"And why do you seek to cross?"

Rosemary looked to Puck. He nodded. She turned back to the Ferryman. "To rescue my brother from the Land of Fiction."

"That is worthy," said the Ferryman. "You may now pay the fare."

"The fare?" said Rosemary. "I didn't bring any money--"

"The fare is not money. You must each submit a verse of your own. If I find the three verses good, then all three may cross. If not, another fare is required."

"Oh!" said Puck. "I'll start."

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

"Hey!" said Peter. "You didn't make that up -- William Shakespeare did!"

Puck smiled. "Yes, but those few words first did come from my lips."

The Ferryman bowed. "I accept your verse. Who goes next?"

"I guess I will," said Peter. He took a deep breath.

"There... once was a bright boy from Clarksbury
w-who was confronted with much sound and fury ...
He did his best...
To keep up with the... rest?
Cause he wanted to go home in a hurry."

The Ferryman considered for a moment, then said, "I accept your verse. And now you, girl."

Rosemary stared at the Ferryman, wide eyed. She opened her mouth, but no words came.

"Rosemary?" said Peter.

She shot him a look of desperation.

Peter stepped towards the Ferryman. "I can do another one."

"No!" The Ferryman pushed Peter back. "It has to come from her."

Rosemary swallowed hard. "One proton, two proton, three proton, four... Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium... more?"

The Ferryman looked at her with thundering silence.

Rosemary drooped. Then she looked up. "You said there was another fare?"

"Failing the first fare, instead of three tasks between you, you now have six."

Rosemary went white. "Six poems?"

"No. You must show me that you believe in six impossible things before you may cross."

"Like Alice in Wonderland," Peter muttered.

"The White Queen, actually," said Puck. "I'll start. I live within a house the size of a thimble, and I believe that all that I say is a lie."

"Hey!" said Peter. "If everything you say is a lie, then how--"

"Shh," said Puck. "Your turn."

Before Peter could say anything, Rosemary jumped in. "Well, I'm standing right here, and that's impossible."

"Go ahead, take the easy one!" Peter looked as if smoke was going to rise from his head. He turned away and gnawed a knuckle before snapping his fingers. "Bumblebees!"

"What?" said Rosemary.

"They say it's impossible for bumblebees to fly, but they do!"

"That's because they flap their wings," huffed Rosemary. "If they didn't, they'd drop like stones."

The Ferryman's voice cut between them. "Two more."

They stood in silence, looking around for inspiration. Peter stuffed his hands in his pockets, digging a toe in the paper-coloured sand. The waves slapped the shore. Suddenly he blurted out, "I-I believe my parents are alive. I wake up and I think that they're downstairs making breakfast and then I... Is that okay?"

"And you?" The Ferryman turned towards Rosemary.

Rosemary had been staring at Peter; she jerked up at the Ferryman's voice. Everyone stood still and silent. Finally a small smile dawned on her face. She stepped towards the Ferryman and beckoned him down. The figure leaned over to lend her his invisible ear, and she whispered into the side of his cowl. He straightened up and put forth a long hand to the boat. "Board."

They clambered aboard. Peter and Rosemary jammed themselves into a narrow bench while Puck lounged on the remaining seat. The Ferryman stood at the prow. Without oars or sails, the boat glided forward into the sea. As Rosemary glanced at the grey-on-black horizon, Peter nudged her. "What did you say to him?"

She looked away. "It's personal."

"Like mine wasn't?"

Rosemary blushed. She dipped her hand in the lake and wrinkled her nose at the faint chemical smell, like permanent markers. "Why is this water so dark?"

"Water it is not, Rosemary," said Puck. "This is the Sea of Ink."

She pulled her arm out. It was black to her elbow. "This is ink?"

"Indelible ink, I fear."

She tried to wipe her arm clean on her jeans, but only smeared them. "Great," she muttered. "Just great."

"The Sea of Ink surrounds the Land of Fiction," said Puck. "It would be wise to keep your hands within the boat. You too, Peter."

He pointed to a wave on the sea. Then Rosemary saw that it wasn't a wave, but the silhouette of a girl, a few years younger than she was, rising out of the water. Her black mouth was open, taking in a great gulp of air before she sank back beneath the waves.

"A character is born," said Puck.

Something bumped the boat. Peter and Rosemary looked over the side and saw the dorsal fin of a great black shark sink below the surface. Peter pulled raised his arm away from the edge. "Can they capsize the boat?"

"No, I think not," said Puck. "The Ferryman has crossed this sea since I was put to paper. Few of his fares have been lost."

"Few?" squeaked Peter.

"The sea is getting thick with characters," said Rosemary.

Other shapes bobbed on the waves. The silhouette of a man in a bowler hat and a suit, carrying a long, black umbrella, walked upright on a swell. He tipped his hat to a teenage girl who cartwheeled past, half submerged. Nearby, a warrior held his black sword high as he sank beneath the surface.

"All the characters in fiction come from here?" asked Rosemary.

"Most," said Puck. "Legendary characters are uncertain of birth, but King Arthur rises every fortnight."

Peter pointed ahead. "I see the other jetty."

The boat coasted up to the jetty and stopped with a crunch against the shore. The beach of white sand stretched ahead for several feet before becoming darker and stonier. Trees rose up further inland, and a forest stretched into the distance.

Puck leapt lightly out and helped Rosemary and Peter step onto the jetty. Then he crossed his arms and bowed low to the Ferryman. He gave Peter and Rosemary a glance, and they mimicked the gesture. The Ferryman bowed in return.

Rosemary started up the beach, with Peter close behind, but Puck stopped them and turned them back to the sea.

"Look," he said. "New characters begin their stories."

Black shapes surfaced from the ink and crawled onto the shore. There, the ink dried on them, changing colour, and they got to their feet as princes and princesses, dwarfs and elves, orphans and detectives, monsters and villains. From the shore, they walked in straight lines to their destinies.

Peter and Rosemary stared after them, awed.

"Come," said Puck, nudging them forward. "Let us begin our own story." And they crossed the beach and slipped in among the trees.

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