wasting an afternoon

rivulets wind through the sand.

we dig deeper, create more channels.

the water melts the sand and creates a smooth lining for each meandering brook.

our small hands plunge into the dirty sand and wildly attempt to keep up with the cold water.

we build structures with that which was once an obstruction to a now-flowing branch.

the sand piles get higher and more intricate as we drizzle the wet mud to make spires and columns.

We begin smoothing the sand around the structures to create driveways and roads.

Leaves are picked and placed just so to represent landscaping.

As we work, the walls of our channels weaken from the constant flow of water and we need to pause in our city expansion to rebuild.

Basins and bays are created at the sides of the sandbox as the constant flow of water washes over the sand and floods against the wooden edge.

Twigs and leaves are sloshed along the rapids.

Slowly our massive structures give way to the lap of the water eating at their bases.

Our trucks and boats begin to wash over the sides of our play area.

We can’t contain the mess, so we begin to shove our masterpieces into gullies and smack the mud into the water.

The slapping of the mud spatters us with the carnage of our civilization and we laugh.

Our motives are finally questioned when a shout comes from the house to quit wasting water and clean-up.

We toss the hose from the sandbox and, leaving our swamp behind, rush to turn off that which birthed and destroyed an entire village in one afternoon.

This post was written in response to the picture below.

beer run

The following post is another one of my stabs at fiction.  The prompt is to write about having something of tremendous value stolen.  I had no idea what to write, so Cort gave me the scenario and I made up the story around it.

Oh, and also? there is a poll on the left side bar if you want to vote for me to move my fiction to Exploded Moments instead of here.

This post went crazy.  And so I dedicate it to my college years.  And to Todd.

Enjoy.

*************

“Think, think, think,” he told himself.  “Now what?  Now what do I do?”

Burger rubbed his eyes with the ball of his hands.  He was slumped down on Davis Street a block from the party.

He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and looked down the street half expecting them to come back.  Not that he had anything left for them to take.  Not only had they taken his empty wallet, but they had jacked the keg he had been rolling down the road from the party store.

It was a dumb idea, but he had lost the bet.

He had to be in charge of the beer.  Even with no car.

Luckily everyone had chipped in.  Barely.

Burger had spent his entire utility payment on that keg, and now he wouldn’t even get his deposit back.

Those jerks even took the tap, so there went that deposit too.

Awesome.

He ran his hand over his goatee and tried to figure out what to do.  He could still smell the cigarette on his hand.

He would love another one, but they had taken those too.

“Focus,” he said out loud.  He immediately looked behind him.  What if they were waiting for him?

He shook his head and tried to focus his eyes.

He didn’t feel very good.

“See…it’s their fault.  We didn’t even NEED that third keg.  This whole thing is THEIR fault.”

He stood up suddenly with new determination.  And immediately regretted it.

Burger decided right then and there that he couldn’t show his face.  He was too mortified.

A band of crazy drunks had run up on him, tackled him, and rolled his keg away.  And taken his smokes.  Which he needed right now.  He couldn’t tell that story to the party–even it if was the truth.

He would look like an idiot.

And he was too messed up to think of a believable lie.

He took one more look down the street toward the party and turned on his heel and started running.

Burger had only gone about a block when he stopped,  panting and sweating and leaned into a yard.

As he wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, the headlights of a slow approaching car snapped on.

Burger squinted into them, his heart pounding.

“Dear God, they’re back,” he thought.

“Hey Burger!  What the hell are you doing?  Where is the beer, ya moron?”

Burger just stared, gasping.  What was going on?

“DUDE!  Can you hear us?  WHERE IS THE BEER?”

“uh…” Burger stumbled. “well…um…”

“Get your stupid ass in the car, dude.”

“but…the beer…those guys…they…” Burger wasn’t sure where his friends had even come from.  Who was driving?

Dude. WE took the beer.  Those guys were us.  We thought you knew.”

“Wha-”

“IT WAS US, knucklehead!  The keg?  It’s at Gator’s place.  Back at the party.  IT WAS US.”

“Wait.  Wha…”

“Just get in the car, ya drunk.”

Burger still didn’t know what had happened, but he let his friends pull him into the back seat of the car where he promptly passed out.

it’s only fair

I helped Eddie down the steps to the basement at my parents’ house.  He wanted to find the toys.

While he chose dinosaurs and swords from the toy area, I wandered into my brothers’ old room–the cave as it’s called now because of the dark paneling, dark carpet, and just darkness of being in the basement.

This room has a closet.  It’s one of those under-the-steps-so-the-ceiling-is-awkward kind of closets.  To utilize the most space, in front of you are two hanger bars (tall and short) and to the left is a bunch of shelves.

There used to be toys–old school Little People– on those shelves, so I opened the door to peek and suddenly the smell of my childhood filled my memory.

It smelled like wood and carpet and toys.

Like children and games.

It smelled like being seven.

My brother and I would open that closet and take everything out one-by-one: the airport and plane, the farm, the school, the town, the bag of people and vehicles, and the box of blocks my dad made.

One would get charge of the school, the other the farm.  One would take ownership of the airport, the other the town.

That was fair.

Each person and vehicle and animal would get set in a long row on my brother’s thick, brown carpet.  Somehow we would determine who picked first.

Each person, vehicle, and animal would get chosen individually.

Like picking teams in gym class.

That was fair.

We would then lay out each block my dad had cut and sanded for us and choose one by one.

That was fair.

After the toys were divided up we would take our stash to the family room where the carpet was laid out in a square pattern that we used as roads.

We would argue over the prime locations for house building.

There would be disagreement over whether it was logical for the downtown to be on a mountain (the fireplace) or not.

Someone would call someone else’s house construction dumb.

Maybe a car would fly through the air.

Eventually it would all get set up.

And then we would be sick of it.

It would all have to get put away, but not before showing mom.  And then later, dad.

And some begging to keep this masterpiece of a town up for ever and ever.

Eventually each piece would be picked back up–each of us in charge of our “picks”.

Because that is fair.

There aren’t any Little People in that closet anymore; my mom has them out where my son can find them.

As I gently closed the closet door and walked back out to the family room, I wondered if my son could smell what I could smell.

I wondered if the scent of Grandma and Grandpa’s basement will fill his memory as a happy time of dividing toys and setting up cities and letting his imagination create mountains and roads.

I hope so.

It’s only fair.

winterizing

The following post is my first attempt at fiction. Ok, it’s my first attempt at fiction here on Sluiter Nation.  Everything is completely fictional.  That means not true. Any resemblance to real people, places, and/or events is completely coincidental.  Or not.  Whatever.

The prompt is to write from the perspective of someone who annoys you.

*************

There was already a chill in the air.  Winter would be here soon and he had to get busy.

The boys wanted to come help and he wasn’t about to turn away free labor even if they would do more to annoy  than assist him.

He lumbered out to the backyard with the oldest running ahead with a baseball bat.

“Come on, Nathan!”

The middle one was trying to drag something out of the garage, but came running out to his dad at the sound of his name.

The little one was already sitting in the sandbox.

“Matthew, get off the wood pile.”  The oldest was already bouncing off any surface he came into contact with.  He needed to redirect this energy.

“Take the bat and go in the shed.  Start banging out those dents.”

rat tat tat tat tat tat tat

He scratched his head as the neighbor rounded the side of his house with a spreader.

That guy?  Was ALWAYS working on his lawn.

“Hey,” he offered.

“How’s it going?”

“Just doing some winterizing,” he said as he nodded toward his shed where the oldest had abandoned the baseball bat and was now throwing sand on his youngest brother.

The snobby neighbor seemed confused.  “Yeah, me too,” he said tapping his spreader filled with fancy shmancy winter fertilizer.

He gave the neighbor the obligatory dude nod and turned to his shed.

What did he care about the yard?  That guy spent way too much time on grass.  Although he mowed every week like clockwork which was a good reminder that after it got dark, it was time for him to fire up his trusty Craftsman POS.  The baby always fell asleep best that way–riding on the mower with him.

Anyway.  Back to the shed.  He had to get it winter ready.

Since all three boys were now out front jumping on the car, he was going to have to do this himself.

He grabbed the baseball bat out of the sandbox, and went into the structure.

He began banging at the roof…attempting to pound out what had collapsed yet again before the snow began to fly.

Maybe he should have followed the directions when assembling it.

Maybe those extra parts went to the roof.

like I said, totally fiction. ahem.

 

short and sweet

I don’t remember my first one.

There are pictures, but they are yellowed as photographs from the 1970’s tend to be.

In one shot I am sitting in a high chair at my grandma’s house, confused.  In the very next I am covered in yellowed cake.

I vaguely remember Cookie Monster.

My aunt made it for me when I was six.  Or thereabouts.

In this photograph, I am standing on a chair leaning forward onto the table–hovering over the perfect cake.

I am missing teeth, which is incredibly apparent by the giant smile on my face.

At some point I decided marble cake was my favorite, and my mom started making me a round double-layer each year.

Always with homemade chocolate frosting.

Always with the sugar candy attached to a piece of paper that needed to be wet before the candy would release.

Always with pink letters spelling out: H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y  K A T I E !

On Sunday my mom will again make me a cake.

An ice cream cake.

I will do my best to eat the vanilla ice cream, fudge, and cool whip first, saving the Oreo cookie crust for last.

But first I will blow out my 33 candles.

And pick off the pink letters one by one.
This week’s prompt was to be inspired by this photo:

what? it's a CAKE donut!

repeated forgiveness

In the almost six years that Cort and I have been married, the following dialogue has happened so many times, it doesn’t matter who is saying what anymore.

We have both been wronged.

We have both begged forgiveness.

And, unfortunately, because of who we are?  I am sure that this will happen many, many more times.

It is always bed time.

It is always way too late…past when we should be sleeping.

Maybe this is why it happens.

Just as we say goodnight…

“Babe.  I am really sorry about this…”

And then it happens.

Sometimes it thunders through the room shaking the windows and the bed frame.

Other times it silently warms us under the blanket and seeps into the room.

Either way it is everywhere.

And we are gagging.

“OH. MY. GOD!  Babe!  What did you eat?  For the love….”

This is when the giggling begins.

“I’m SORRY.  I can’t help it.  My tummy hurts.”

And now both of us are laughing because it is still hanging in the room.  It’s like someone smeared it right under our noses.

“I can’t get away from it!”

“Me either!  I am SORRY!”

At this point the laughing has taken over. Every time we think we are done, we lift our faces from our pillows, breathe in the funk, and dissolve into tears and giggles all over again.

“Oh no.”

“‘oh no,” what?”

There is a silent pause.

And then the air is filled with a new batch of stench.

“BABE!”

“I’m SORRY!  I can’t help it!”

“YES YOU CAN!”

“No, I can’t!”

gagging mixed with laughing combined with coughing ensues.

“Seriously, babe.  Next time, you need to take that to the bathroom.”

“Why?  You never do!”

“Well this is BAD.”

“Yours are bad too.”

“Ok, I think I can breathe again.  Wait…don’t point that thing at me.”

“Now you’re just being mean.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too.”

And then it happens again.

Luckily, by morning the air has cleared and the gruesome events of the night before have been forgiven.

We are a happy couple again.

Until the next time late night flatulence hits.

This week’s prompt asked us to write about a time of forgiveness.

deluge

The windshield looked like it was melting.

The rain wasn’t coming down in individual drops; it was a steady stream washing out everything in its path.

Including roads.

I shifted the weight of my distended middle so that I was leaning on the center counsel armrest.

I fruitlessly attempted to pull the black maternity dress back down over my lap where it belonged, and my red wedges had been cast off long before we had gotten into the truck so that I could wade through the rushing water to get into our vehicle.

Because we couldn’t stay at the restaurant.  There was no power.

We had been in the truck for over an hour and had only gone about 3 miles.

The normally easy 20-minute route home around the lake had turned into rivers of detours.

Each time we tried to turn we were faced with more streets acting as reservoirs for the deluge we were experiencing.

We were on the Southside trying to weave our way to our Northside home, but the land in between was low, and the safe paths were few.

Each time we were forced to take a water-logged road, I held the door handle tightly, peering out my passenger-side window as the waves lapped the door and almost covered the tires.

I had to use the bathroom, but I wasn’t about to say anything.  There was nothing he could do about it and whining would just make the situation worse.

I tried to quietly massage Eddie into a different position–one that didn’t involve his foot in my bladder.

I started breathing calmly through my mouth to avoid thinking about the liquid jostling under my son.

Cort gave me a worried sideways glance.

“No, I am not in labor.  Just have to pee.”

“Do you want me to pull over?”

“Where?  No, just keep driving.  It can’t be too much longer.  The rain is letting up.  I am sure we will be home soon.”

I had no idea it would be another hour before we got to our subdivision, only to find the entrance completely flooded forcing us on yet another detour to find dry land.

We had no idea what was ahead, but we were trying to have a good outlook, stay calm, and not have an accident before it was all over.

This post was nonfiction.

Please vote for Sluiter Nation in the Mom Central Grant Contest on facebook.  You may vote once every 24 hours.  Thank you.

forced labor

I am pretty sure it was always somewhere around a hundred degrees outside, and we had at LEAST thirty bushes to pick between the two of us.

My mom would tell you that I am exaggerating.  If fact, she will chuckle and say all of this is exaggerated.  And maybe it is.

source: Jsanckenphotography

But it is what I remember.

It was the middle of the summer and it was hot.  My long hair was damp and clung to the back of my neck, my forehead, and my cheeks as I would stoop to get the berries from the lowest branches.

The ugly camouflaged hat of my dad’s did nothing to keep the deer flies from swarming around my head, but it did help them stay out of my hair.  Because no one wants to pick tangled, angry flies from their long hair.  Nobody.

It maybe wouldn’t have been so bad, but the bushes were so far from the house.  My brothers and I, buckets in hand, would trek down the path through the woods in our backyard out to the clearing where my dad had planted apple trees and blueberry bushes–the two fruits that completely Michigany.

The apples were to feed the deer.  The blueberries to feed the humans.

My brother also insisted on lugging along our little boom box so he could listen to Ernie Harwell call the Detroit Tigers’ games through the loud buzz of AM radio.

We would spend more time trying to find just the right spot to get the least amount of interference than actually picking berries.  Many times we would make our baby brother hold the radio and move around until it was how we wanted it.

Stand closer to that tree.  No!  Farther away.  Ok put one foot on that stump and hold the apple tree branch with the other hand.  Maybe if you put the antenna in your mouth.  STOP!  That is exactly perfect.  Oh quit crabbing.  You don’t have to pick.

Starting on different ends, we would go for the brilliantly blue ones first–the ones our dad warned us that the birds would pick off if we weren’t out here every day. The ones our baby brother would munch on if we didn’t put him on radio duty.

The ones we would pop into our own mouths so we could taste summer while we worked.

We didn’t say  much as we picked.  If anyone said anything, it usually resulted in arguing and someone storming off in tears to “tell”.  So we quietly listened to what there was to hear.

thud thud thud

Until the bottom was covered and the second layer of berries began.

Plop plop plop

The shuffle of bare legs in the tall grass as they moved around the bushes.

The occasional slap at a mosquito or deer fly on our legs and arms.

The rustle of blueberry bush leaves as our hands moved around them.

The relentless plopping of berries on berries.

And the strike of a baseball bat hitting a foul ball with Ernie letting us know that “the kid from Freemont caught that one.”

My parents still have those bushes, although when I venture back to the clearing there are only about eight bushes. My nephew loves to help my mom pick, and I wonder if Eddie will stain his hands and lips blue just like I did when I was younger.

This piece is did not come out the way it was behind my eyes…if that makes sense.  Concrit is welcome.Please vote for Sluiter Nation every 24 hours to help me with a grant that will get me to BlogHer and help Sluiter Nation do BIG things!

once…

…I stood up to a bully to protect my little brother.

…I chose band over sports because it’s what I really loved.

…I chose my friends because of who they are and not because of what they wear or what gossip has been spread about them.

…I graduated with honors despite the fact that many of my friends didn’t.

…I refused to give in to peer pressure, but still had fun.

…I chose to go to college away from home despite knowing I would be terribly homesick.

…I was there for a friend when his parents divorced.

…I was there for that same friend when his girlfriend of four years broke up with him.

…I was there for my brother when he had to make a difficult phone call to me.

…I decided not to drink myself to death.

…I fell in love with my best friend.

…I was in the room for a cancer diagnosis…and bleak prognosis.

…I married my best friend.

…I watched my best friend and husband say goodbye to his dad.

…I was the first in my family to earn a Masters Degree.

…I suffered two miscarriages but refused to give up on the idea of being a mom.

…I was weak…but my husband was strong.

…I fought PPD.

…I helped pay for a boy’s graduation costs so he could be part of the ceremony.

…I cared even when I didn’t want to anymore.

…I admitted I was wrong.

…I took on more jobs than I should have.

…I chose my family over myself.

…I rocked a wee little boy as he smiled up at me sleepily.

…I snuggled in next to my husband, held his hand, and fell asleep.

…I hoped.

…I believed.

…I held on.

Don’t forget to vote every 24 hours for Sluiter Nation to win the Mom Central grant!

And don’t forget to shop my Thirty-One party!  Ends this week! (go to “my events” and shop my party–Katie Sluiter).

Syndicate? No, SEND-A-KATE!

Let me start this by saying I am not asking for your money.  Cool?  No money is being asked for here. Ok?  Ahem.  Anyway….

my BlogHer jar

 

 

It’s official.

Cortney bought me a ticket to BlogHer in San Diego at the beginning of August.

And that is as far as the Sluiters can go with funding this huge endeavor.  That is why every post I have syndicated on BlogHer (three so far!  Dang!) and every sponsored post you see on this blog?  Is money going toward my trip.

Even though I believe in my writing ability?  I know it’s probably not possible for me to save up the close to $1000 I will need to make this trip happen in that small of increments.

So I have applied for some help.

One that is for a sponsorship through a company is announcing this weekend.  With over 200 applicants, it’s sort of a long shot, so we will see.

The other is for a grant through Mom Central–a $2000 grant to be exact.  My application was accepted and right now, on faceboook contest apps, they are holding public voting.  Voting is open until April 15 and people can vote once every 24 hours.

To vote for me, click here and then click the big, green VOTE button.  It’s that easy.  Every 24 hours.

Clearly if I win this grant, I will get more money than I need to go to BlogHer.  With whatever is left, I plan to take a writing course and put the rest into The Red Dress Club. I believe that ever since I began linking up with their prompts, I have been producing better writing, and since becoming one of the hostesses?  A whole new world has opened to me.  I credit those ladies with pushing me to be the best writer I can.

I really need to get to BlogHer.  I want to be a better blogger.

Oh, and Nichole, Natalie, and Tonya will be mad if I drop out of our roomie pact.

So please?  Vote for me every 24 hours!

And if you love Thirty-One and all their SUPER cute stuff?  You can go shop now!  I am having an online party!  Click here and go over to “my events” on the right and choose to “shop” at Katie Sluiter’s party!  I would really, REALLY love if you did.
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