July 20: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

July 21, 2017

During my first attempt to make a pie crust, I slammed the ball of dough on the kitchen floor like a tennis player who lost the match. I grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and somewhere along the lines she wrote I became convinced that a happy home had pie. If I couldn’t master the crust, would I ever find happiness?

Throughout the years others have tried to teach me how easy it is — add ice water only to the dough; vinegar is the secret ingredient to great flakes; beat an egg yolk into the water; don’t over-knead; don’t under-knead; use a wooden rolling pin; stick your tongue out just a little to the left and it will all be okay. I’ve savored the crust of others, but never accomplished the task.

My fillings are divine, and I have a talent for spicing anything. Even when I omit the sugar, something Laura once wrote about doing, my balance of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger hold up. But that blasted crust; I just can’t get it right. I began cheating, buying refrigerator crusts, but even those substitutes can fall apart.

Does a home truly need pie?

Odd thing is, I prefer cake, and I make a marvelous yellow cake with deep dark chocolate frosting. But there’s something about pies. America is baseball and apple pies; Norman Rockwell captured Americana by painting pies from the oven. And Laura, well my beloved heroine of the frontier pioneers, mentions pie in nearly every book she penned.

Every time we moved when our kids were little, the first thing I’d think is that the kitchen needs a pie. Think of the wafting aroma of baked apples and buttery crust. The heat it gives off as it cool on the windowsill. Home is where the pie is. But there is not going to be a new home. The Calumet house fell through the cracks of miscommunication. The chickens are safe from becoming my first Michigan pie.

It’s disappointing to report, especially after the shared excitement and celebration last week, but it was not to be. When we accepted the rental offer, I told the landlords we’d discuss the matter with our kids and give them a move-in date. I asked for the full cost and was quoted first month, last and a deposit.

It was going to be tight. In fact, I burst into tears at JC Penny after realizing I couldn’t even buy the bargains. I realized the rental would strap us in a way, I couldn’t see how we’d make it work. We could afford the place month to month; we couldn’t afford to get in and buy the things we needed — like a pie pan or pants.

All our stuff remains in Sandpoint in storage and we have no plan to retrieve it this far. We simply keep paying on the storage. Because I earn an income as a writer, we don’t qualify for homeless veteran programs. I mean seriously, who works while homeless? I’ll tell you it’s extraordinarily difficult even with a flexible job like writing. That was the whole point of stabilizing. So when the landlord expressed disappointment that we wouldn’t move in until August 1, and tried to pressure us into paying for July to keep the rental, we passed.

As much as I’m craving pie, I’m also relieved.

We don’t want to be a fixture in our daughter’s home, languishing in her space, but they have kindly offered us the time we need to find the right place, save up money and figure out how to retrieve our belongings. In saying no, I felt empowered. So did the Hub. We’ve had to make so many hasty decisions or be at the mercy of transmission shops and VA gatekeepers this past year, that it felt good to make a decision to not be pressured too soon.

Like a kitchen with pie, it feels right to take small steps to stabilize. Already, Todd has had multiple VA appointments and slowly that wheel is turning again. His CBT intake begins today, something we’ve pushed to do for years and finally are receiving. Lots of personal goals are back on the table after being shelved, and I might find office space locally. We are still establishing roots in this marvelous community.

I know it’s a good place because the cultural heritage here is a lunch pie in the hand — pasties. It’s a heated debate as to whether or not the meat pies are of Finnish or Cornish origin, but I know the best pies in town come from a Fin family. I can imagine how miner’s wives once swapped recipes in their kitchens long ago, passing down assimilated foods for their descendants. My latest obsession is to look forward to a pasty on the beach before combing for agates.

Laura Ingalls Wilder has something to say about pie that reminds me about how I feel when writers gather around the table here to partake in the weekly meal, share their talents and hopes, express their ideas and encourage each other in writing:

“Ma said nothing, but a little flush came up her cheeks and her eyes kept on smiling while they ate that delicious pie.”

My pie crusts in the kitchen aren’t much, but my challenges are like a crust by which to frame the filling you all bring. So on that note, let us dig into pies.

July 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a pie. You can make it any kind of pie, focus on filling or crust, or tell us about the pie-maker. How does pie set a tone in a story? Does it warm the hearth or bring disappointment?

Respond by July 25, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published July 26). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

A Ruined Pasty (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni settled into the sand of Sioux Beach, burying her heals in warmth. A crowd of locals splashed in the bay off to her left, leaving this bit of solitude near the sloshing waves. She unwrapped her Bayfield Pies pasty from thick paper. It warmed her fingertips, and her first bite of crust filled with thin slices of carrots, potatoes and beef made her toes wiggle.

“Mmm…” Danni’s eyes closed while she chewed.

A shadow crossed her face and Danni opened one eye. Michael Robineaux. Ike’s best friend. He hated her, and he made her pie taste like sand.

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162 Comments

  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    In just a little while, everything is going to be all right. For you.
    Pie??? Jeez.
    Here we go; cow pies? mud pies? pied horses? pie-eyed wranglers? pied pipers? pie in the sky?
    Ugh. And you got this out early. Nice job, Boss.
    (And it will be okay, you don’t need to be rushed into the wrong landlady.)
    Pie…

    • Charli Mills

      Pie in sky, all around! Yes, everything is going to be all right. We had a good session with our vet specialist and I was invited to be part of a veteran spouse’s group. Each day community seems to swell around us a little more. Tomorrow is Friday — pasties! Ha, ha — you remembered the pies, even pied horses, those bald faces of white. Good not to be rushed and let things unfold. Pie…indeed!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        You continue to be positive and you make me smile. It will be all right. Soon.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I missed one; “Pie-hole”; noun; as in the opening in one’s face that receives pie. “Shut your pie-hole and listen”.
      It’s up for grabs if anyone wants it.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yes! Pie-ing politicians was a thing for awhile.

      • Charli Mills

        Pies bring out the fun in writers!

      • Norah

        Surpies!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael! Good to have your thoughts!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Keep your thoughts. I want some of that pie.

      • Charli Mills

        Herb’s Pie will give you crazy thoughts! 😀

      • Norah

        Not to mention unexpected tilts in kilts! 🙂

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Carrot Pie

    “Shorty in the cookhouse?”
    “Nope, at her chuck wagon.”
    “Oh-oh.”
    “No, she ain’t goin’ anywhere, just cookin’ at the ol’ wagon. She does love the great outdoors.”
    “Well I’ve got the flour she asked for. Second sack. What the heck she up to now?”
    “Wants to make pies. Specifically, piecrust.”
    “Oh-oh. That can be tricky.”
    “Yep.”
    “Why is she so het up on piecrust?”
    “Well, we always wrangle words to fill Shorty’s safe, sturdy corral. This week she just wants us to bring some tasty pie filling to the chuck wagon.”
    “Sounds homey. Raw filling ok?”
    “Yep. Raw’s ok.”

  3. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    So sorry the house didn’t work out. Your positive spirit inspires me every time I come over here. Pie…crust…filling. Love it!

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

      Wasn’t finished… I think sometimes, as I go through my own setbacks and frustrations lately, that it is so difficult to stay hopeful, stay positive, and stay productive. But often even when my heart hurts, I know that what doesn’t work out is perhaps not meant to be because what IS meant to be will be even better and waits somewhere down the road. I think that made sense. Not sure. 😀

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I know you’re talking to Charli, but I will say that, in just a little while, everything will be all right.

      • julespaige

        Lisa – yep, that’s right something better is just around the corner!
        Stay positive and draw the positive energy closer!

        Best to your future, Jules

      • Norah

        We live in hope. It’s what keeps us going. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      It’s disappointing and yet, liberating because it’s not a set back. The ground feels solid and we’ll get the right one to try pies. But I completely understand what you mean about staying hopeful. By the time we got here, I was weepy over every little thing and I felt like hope had dissipated. But that’s not true. Hard as it is, I challenge myself to look at the situation honestly, honor my grief or anger, but then move up from there. Besides, there’s always a bird, a rock, a piece of pie and all the stories collected each week. Community and interests, open minds and open hearts make the bumpy path doable. Thanks for being here, Lisa!

      • jeanne229

        Two proverbs come to mind, my older sister’s favorites: “All will be well; all will be well.” And, “This, too, shall pass.” It’s the adversity in life that builds character. God knows, Charli, you’ve had your share in recent years. But look at what you’ve accomplished.

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for sharing such positivity among each other! We can all use reminders that seasons do pass.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

      D. Avery, and julespaige – thanks much for your words. And Charli, you too. So true that in their due time, things will be just fine. The things that pass by are merely making way for the wonderful that is yet to come. Doesn’t mean the waiting isn’t a challenge, though, right?? I love what Charlie said about honoring our grief or anger. That’s really so important and all too often people perhaps feel that it’s not OK to do that. It is.
      I’ve nothing to add to the roundup this week, sadly, because my mind and energy are on other things. Looking forward to reading from all!

      • Charli Mills

        Lisa, thank you for adding to the conversation

  4. robbiesinspiration

    God works in mysterious ways, Charli. I am sure this is for the best for you both. Funny that you noted the mentions of pie in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. I also grew up on those books and have read them countless times but I don’t remember pie featuring in them at all. I remember the boy that got stung by the wasps and the cheese and butter making. Do you remember Pa killing the pig and Laura wanting a bear drumstick. I really must try this week as this prompt is divine – I wish I had a time turner like Hermione in Harry Potter….

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, yes! The bear drumstick! I think Little House in the Big Woods is my favorite. Pie was part of the pioneer experience with fruit and berries extending the season. Sometimes they had pie or pudding every night, and jam, too. Hope you whip up some time! Thanks, Robbie!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

    • jeanne229

      Bleak? Perhaps. But also strong. I like the sense you covey of a young one having to wait for some things, in this case that secret recipe …

  5. floridaborne

    You are no alone in your inability to create a pie crust. I buy the frozen ones to make apple pie, or the graham cracker crusts when I’m making a key lime pie (from the key limes in my back yard).

    I’m just as inept at making pie crusts, but we can both spin a crusty tale. 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      A crusty tale… now there is an idea for a ranch recipe book. Do you like your crusty tales layered; chewy; fluffy filling; sweet or savory?

      • floridaborne

        I like my flaked, crusty pie topped with a twist of meringue. I’m not a fan of meat pie — you never know what’s in them. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Your crusts, Irene, often have the right touch of darkness to bring a smile! 😀

    • jeanne229

      There is also the issue of time. I have resorted to the store crusts too. Where do you want to spend your precious time and creativity? (Not that cooking doesn’t nourish the soul…sigh.)

      • Charli Mills

        Ah, good point!

    • Charli Mills

      Good to know others struggle with crusts, too! Oooh, key lime pie! And from pies in your own back yard. Yes, I’m drooling, as I ponder yonder sweet-tartness. Cheers to spinning crusty tales and knowing what good filling works!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

  6. MENTALLY ME (@stuckinscared)

    I grew up on Laura’s books too. Now I read them to my daughter. I do remember the mentions of pie, the homely feeling that comes every time the reader is taken to the Ingall’s dinner table. I also remember, very clearly, the excerpt… “Ma said nothing, but a little flush came up her cheeks and her eyes kept on smiling while they ate that delicious pie.” If I remember correctly someone (Pa I think) had just complimented Ma on her pie.

    I’m sorry the house didn’t work out for you. I hope you won’t have too long to wait for your own warm kitchen, and homemade pie…or cake, as the case may be 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I’m hoping Charli gets to bake her cake and eat it too. But knowing her she’ll share it all around.

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes! I believe it was Pa who paid her the compliment. I also remember Laura’s first pie, omitting the sugar. She had a masterful way of bringing those simple details and stories to life, which is no easy feat of writing. Thank you, Kimmie! Days of cakes and pies and warm kitchen will come around again.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      As I said at your site, a fine 99. You served a deep dish pie.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Reena! Great flash this week, much going on beneath the crusts.

  7. Reena Saxena

    Frozen pie crust is fun. It can be cut up into thin strips, and deep-fried to make a quick noodles and honey dessert. Food can lift your spirits up, whatever happens later.

    • Charli Mills

      Oooh, that sounds like a quick and fun treat! I used to make my kids “doughnuts” from refrigerator dough in a similar way.

      • Reena Saxena

        Good idea!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I commented at your site. Great use of apple pie.

      • kittysverses

        Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Happy to have you writing here, Kittyverses!

      • kittysverses

        The pleasure is mine, Charli 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      There are all sorts of recipes and ideas getting shared this week.Other forms of revenge, if you have a rabbit, are servings of cocoa puffs.

      • Norah

        How do cocoa puffs work with, or not work with, rabbit?

    • jeanne229

      Even better than a pie in the face! Left a comment too on your site.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Susan! Revenge pie is sweet for the baker! 🙂 Fun take on the prompt.

  8. julespaige

    Charli,

    Even stepping sideways is progress. We don’t always have to go forward fast.
    We’re trying to get a commode fixed/replaced here for about a month now. You think that would be easy enough – but the plumbers just seem to vanish down the drain… The second guy we called hasn’t called back…yet. The first guy, well to make a long story short, after giving us a quote, quit his company and moved south.

    We’ve made arrangements for the old ‘John’ to be picked up. And the new ‘John’ is still in a box in one of our extra rooms. At least the toilet is still flushing… though slow. The commode holes are crusted. After thirty years… I guess that’s normal though we don’t have extremely hard water.

    I’m not an original pie crust maker myself. Exact measures aren’t my forte.
    I take boxed mixes and substitute applesauce for the water and often add an extra egg. And then I also add other stuff, fruit and spices. A good topping to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of coconut mixed with brown sugar, after about 3/4 of the baking time then cover that with foil for about half the remaining baking time then uncover and let the sugar melt and get crusty. Works with cake and quick bread mixes.

    I don’t have a story yet. I’m just ‘jawing’ around ‘Shorty’s’ Chuck Wagon. 🙂
    And yes, sometimes saying ‘No’ is very empowering. Hugs, Jules

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Hope you have managed to get the loo replaced. I don’t think it can be too pleasant having to hold on for too long.

      • julespaige

        We did…though we had a spare… and the old one that was replaced was just old and slow 🙂

      • julespaige

        :S
        🙂

    • jeanne229

      Coconut and brown sugar–heaven! Now I am just exploring how to bake with no eggs 🙁

      • julespaige

        I just went looking – and there seems to be lots of ways without eggs or milk. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        My daughter is allergic to eggs, so we get creative with tapioca for creating a similar set the way eggs would in some recipes.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! Thanks for jawing around and bringing pie (and cake!) tips to the chuckwagon. Your plumber story sounds like ours about the transmission. Three plumbers down the drain! I hope you write the company a Dear John letter. 😀 Probably good plumbers 30 years ago. Now, not so much. And yes, no can be empowering. Hugs back!

      • Norah

        Dear John – pun intended!

  9. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Uninitiated

    Now the children and even grandchildren bring their own signature dishes to family gatherings, but her mother remains the pie maker, her piecrusts legendary, the recipe and technique an unwritten mystery. To learn it, she would have to apprentice under her mother, observe and practice. That takes time. She would become initiated later.

    At the last gathering even the uninitiated recognized that the slits in the top crust, usually cut so artistically, had been forgotten, the pies uncharacteristically soggy.

    At this gathering they mine their pie with worried forks, something less obvious forgotten.

    She would never know the mystery.

    • julespaige

      The wait for later that never comes…
      Having relatives with dementia and Alzheimer’s makes that later seem to arrive faster…

      • Norah

        It does. Such a sad, dehumanising disease.

    • jeanne229

      The wisdom of the elders is not so easily mastered. Sadly, the young don’t realize it until it’s too late. And when the keepers of the knowledge fade, something is irretrievable lost. Love this line: “they mine their pie with worried forks”!

      • Norah

        Agreed! It’s a greet line holding much meaning.

    • Charli Mills

      A crack in the cohesive family from an unexpected robber or memory and time. Well told in 99 words, D.!

    • Norah

      Sad, sad story, but all good pie makers come to the end of the journey some time.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Lady Lee!

  10. Annecdotist

    I’m so sorry that house fell through, Charli, but perhaps you’re better off waiting for something more suitable.

    As for pies, I do like them but only very rarely can be bothered to make them, which is a shame as I like mine with wholemeal pastry which is difficult to buy. I’m a reasonable (basic) pastry cook, although the way I learnt originally was with lard which has definitely gone out of fashion (especially for vegetarians like me).

    Your prompt pushed me to figure out how to create pie charts in Excel – quite easy, but all these things take time, which is the topic of the post I’d been cooking for a little while:

    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/a-writers-audit-of-desk-time

    • jeanne229

      Pie charts! Great take on the prompt. I remember the huge sense of accomplishment I felt when learning how to make them many years back.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s better to wait for something else, and I will have a kitchen long before I ever develop any ability for pastries. Ah, I do like wholemeal. Bob’s Red Mill in the states has a fabulous flour. Lard always made the best refried beans, too, although these days I buy canned which are typically vegetarian. Pie charts! That’s a good one!

    • Norah

      I’m pleased your post wasn’t overdone, as some of my pies seem to be!

  11. julespaige

    OK folks a double header…
    2 JvR When the Pie was Open? & More than one Beer at O’Malley’s…

    Note: Yes, I know the “pie” reference is on the slight side. I was working with two wordles that I hadn’t used while busy and then out of town. And I did mix the lists up. I wrote the flash in two segments of 99 words to fit the Carrot Ranch guidelines. You can see the full wordle lists at the single post where both segments are located in the combined title link.

    When the Pie was Open?
    (Janice vs Richard #14)

    Janice knew Richard thought he was a king who would
    never abdicate. What Richard didn’t know the case against
    him was nascence. The police were able to find some of his
    prints on the cassettes of barking dogs that Richard had
    destroyed at Janice’s home. They had gotten a warrant to
    search the dwelling the couple had shared. And even years
    later were able to retrieve the man’s prints that were
    everywhere.

    The capture of such a disturbed man who now behaved
    like a bohemian would be a hard. His almost illusory trail
    would not be easy to topple.

    ©JP/dh

    Nascence (adj.)) Beginning to exist, develop.)

    Title in reference to the nursery rhyme (birds and kings).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sing_a_Song_of_Sixpence

    More than one Beer at O’Malley’s…
    (Janice vs Richard #15

    Longhorn saw sadness in Janice’s eyes. As mother bird, she
    often chided herself for Richard’s offhanded behavior. Blaming
    herself for the man’s sallow appearance. Richard’s return in
    her once insouciant life gave the detective heart pangs.

    Offhand Longhorn wasn’t sure what to do next. He felt that
    Janice wanted to climb the walls of the safe house after just
    four days. His team had to work quicker than Neolithic Man
    and clinch this case.

    Carla Scott thought; Perish forbid we can’t find this creep.
    We’ll never have pie with nepenthe, which we’ll need after
    dealing the likes of Richard.

    ©JP/dh

    Sallow : adjective (of a person’s face or complexion) of an unhealthy yellow or pale brown color.
    Insouciant (free from worry, concern, anxiety) Illustration bird in flight
    Nascence (adj.)) Beginning to exist, develop.)
    Nepenthe (n.)) A drug or drink, or the plant yielding it, mentioned by ancient writers as having the power to bring forgetfulness of sorrow or trouble.

    Perish Forbid (Google search via Yahoo): It came from a 1940 s radio program, the Easy Aces -Goodman and Jane. It was Jane who used to say, Perish forbid! It s a humorous scrambling of two phrases, “God forbid!” and “Perish the thought!” which the character who was noted for her malapropisms and odd turns of phrase used for comic effect. Another such phrase was, “You could have knocked me over with a fender” a play on “knock me over with a feather”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Love some of the words and expressions. And the thought of that bad guy getting caught. Perish forbid if he doesn’t.

      • julespaige

        I’m actually not sure where I heard ‘Perish forbid’ but I looked it up…
        It’s always interesting where a Wordle list takes me 😉

    • jeanne229

      I just love your wordplay! And though I pride myself on a fairly high-level vocabulary, you always get me with one or two words. (This time, nascence got me, though the adjective form “nascent” is a word I would commonly use.) Also, “napenth.” I appreciate your historical references. And love the malapropisms. Such fun! I opened with my last blog post with one from a past president of ours who was famous for them: “Make the pie higher.” 🙂

      • julespaige

        Ah…the wordle lists are what make me ‘make the pie higher’ – though I have seen some pretty high apple pies!

        I’m still behind on catching up…but now – I’m curious about the quote and your post! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Your wordle play and subsequent sharing of meanings and phrases are so rich, Jules. It’s interesting to see these character develop from them, as well.

    • Norah

      I always admire the way you can use such a variety of set words to create a meaningful story.

      • julespaige

        Thank you – it’s just another form of solving a puzzle. I guess that’s one way to look at it. Add to that word list challenge using them in the order they are presented. I did that …once.

      • Norah

        Clever!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That was a cool take. I liked how you used “upholstering.”

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing a (pie)ce of your mind, Kalpana!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      The rabbit may disagree, but there was a lot of kindness in that pie.

    • jeanne229

      A fruit pie is one thing, but a rabbit pie? I am impressed. Touching flash.

      • pensitivity101

        He wasn’t the only one I made rabbit pie for!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Di, for both the homey pie and good luck. Dare I say, a rabbit’s foot might help? 🙂

      • pensitivity101

        I always wondered about that, as it wasn’t exactly lucky for the rabbit!

  12. denmaniacs4

    Below the Bridge

    When the tide went out as far as it could, we’d scamper down the steep slope of the bridge.

    There were always treasures to be found, rebar, erect in the salted-sludge, a fortune in bottles and cans tossed from the bridge into the sea.

    Once, we found a baby carriage. There was even a blanket attached, pink, I think, twisted around one of the wheels.

    Sometimes, we would race the incoming tide.

    Life or death, we told ourselves.

    You needed gumboots.

    The swill and the slop would suck you down like you were drowning in a giant mud pie.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This reminds me of playing among the uncovered treasures at low tide as a kid. Scary fast incoming tide. Never a good time to be stuck in that oozy mud.

      • jeanne229

        What a perfect description of the sludge revealed by a low tide! I remember picking through such a mud pie in the Thames once. I still have the old tin pub ashtray we un-mucked, and an ancient, porous, yellowish brick. Unlike the gifts given up by the sea in your flash, they are treasures.

    • Charli Mills

      What a great final line, and use of the prompt, Bill. Kids can find such adventure in their natural surroundings and I like how this has a carefree tone, wonder out of discarded things in the muck.

  13. Sarah Brentyn

    I prefer cake, too. But, alas, it does seem that America is “baseball and apple pies”. I never read Little House but did watch it growing up. 🙂 The prairie… So nostalgic.

    Sorry the house fell through. As others have said, perhaps it was for the best (I’m sure you’re sick of hearing that). Best of luck with the house-hunting and enjoy each day as much as you can.

    I love this flash. It is so relatable.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        You do prefer cake! I think that it will be a short lived argument for those characters.

      • jeanne229

        I’ll have the cake, please. Love this flash. As I said on your site, it’s cinematic. And yes, I for one can certainly relate!

    • Charli Mills

      Baseball, apple pie and Little House on the Prairie. That’s Americana right there! Thanks, Sarah. I’m feeling the house luck rubbing off on all these pies. 😉

  14. jeanne229

    Ahh a prompt with so many associations! What is it about pie crusts? It’s like a badge of real American womanhood or something, at least after you reach a certain age (25 perhaps?). Somehow the younger Jeanne never felt she had quite made it until she could make a pie crust. My mother never baked pies, as far as I can recall. Her fingers were crippled up with rheumatoid arthritis by the time I can remember. Anyway, working full time as an RN, and with five of us at home, she was never in the Betty Crocker contest anyway. But I had an aunt who excelled in all things domestic, including pies. My sisters and I all remember her intimidating perfection in this area. When I finally did manage to hold a crust together, what a feeling of accomplishment that was. Alas, the last couple of Thanksgivings, (the holidays being the only time I ever bake) I reneged and bought a Marie Callendar pie. Perhaps this year, I’ll tackle it again. As for your further adventures I think I missed the last update on housing. I am so sorry….just in reach. But, yes, you have a small luxury where time is concerned. If it’s true good things come to those who wait, you and Todd should be cashing in big here soon. Oh, and yes, on being a working writer… Since my doctor ghostwriting gig ended, I’ve been feeling the pinch too, to say the least. have even considered returning to a 9-5 for the next several years. But no! I am holding out. After all, I’ve got the Charli rough-rider model flashing like a shooting star above. Will be back if I can in a bit to throw my 2 cent flash in. (Now put all those metaphors in your pipe and smoke ’em!)

    • Charli Mills

      Got my pipe out, and contemplating all that pie has brought out in you. It does feel like a badge of womanhood and yet I think of women like your mother who expressed theirs differently. My son is the one who mastered pie crusts, and took to baking from my Betty Crocker Cookbook every weekend to take treats to friends at school in the off- season between track and cross country. There’s that pinch with the writing life and it’s different than what I imagine as the pinch of 9-5 shoes. I’d think your last client could give you an interesting niche. Shoot me an email if you want to talk shop. I’m determined that writers have can find value for their skills between bouts of creativity. Your writing is worth more than 2 cents, even the bits!

      • jeanne229

        I will shoot you an email soon. And I will respond to that other long message as well. I still have a couple of steady editing gigs and am working up steam to write some articles for a niche market I am interested it. It will be good to talk shop with you!

  15. Kerry E.B. Black

    Oma’s Wisdom
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Oma Rochinka relaxed into her rocker, her smile bleeding into the crepuscular rays of the setting sun.

    Her granddaughter scowled. “Why’re you smiling? Daddy’s crashed. He coulda died.”

    Oma touched a wizened finger to the child’s nose. “But he didn’t.”

    “He’s hurt bad, though.”

    Oma nodded, assuming an enigmatic expression. “He’ll have a tough patch alright.”

    Her granddaughter thrust out her chin with indignation. “And he lost the whole harvest of apples.”

    Oma nodded. “Can’t sell bruised fruit.” Cinnamon wafted from within and mingled with petrichor.

    “Then why’re you smiling?”

    “Cause he’s alive, and we have lots of pie.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I like that old woman. I bet when life gives her lemons she makes a tasty lemonade.

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        Me, too. Oma is special.

    • jeanne229

      What a beautiful flash, and lovely writing: “her smile bleeding into the crepuscular rays of the setting sun”… And the dialogue is spot on. I can see these two characters and the setting. I can smell that pie.

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        Wow, you made my day, Jeanne

    • Charli Mills

      Kerry, this reads like the kind of American hardiness I think of when I see all that’s left of a pioneer house is an apple tree. Beautiful writing and expression of wisdom as how we choose to look on the matter.

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        My husband was in a car accident a week ago. He rolled his car and broke his back, so he inspired me to channel Oma. I’m grateful he is alive.

    • julespaige

      We had an apple tree at one of the homes we lived in. While MIL was visiting she helped to make applesauce. Which reminded me of one of my neighbors that had an apple tree and too many apples. So one year (with store bought crusts…) I made apple pie with their apples and invited them over to eat the pie (their might have been more than one).

      An excellent adage to the when life gives you lemons make lemonade 🙂
      Life happens – it’s what the choices you make towards and because of what you can’t control that helps to make you feel alive.

    • Norah

      That’s reason enough to smile. Good reason.

    • Norah

      Sorry to hear about your husband’s accident, Kerry. I hope he’ll be okay. Sometimes it’s difficult to channel Oma’s wisdom, but it’s definitely worth a try. Take care. Hugs.

  16. Norah

    Hi Charli, I thought I’d responded to your post, but I’ve just remembered that we were away for the weekend with a very poor internet signal. I had enough to read, but not for a comment to send. Crazy. I think I commented on your FB post.
    I hope things are starting to work out for you and Todd, and that the support from the VA and the CBT live up to your expectations.
    I’ve never been much good at making pies either. I think I probably excelled in mud pies in younger days, but don’t have much use for making those these days. I’ve never liked making pastry. I don’t like rubbing the butter in by hand and getting the mixture under my fingernails. And as for putting it in the fridge for 30 minutes before kneading again and rolling, well really, who’s got the time for that! I much prefer the crust of your challenges to hold our fillings together. You always mix them well with added spice to enhance the flavour.
    I like your latest pastime – looking forward to a pastie before searching for agates on the shore. That’s a good one. But goodness me, Danni didn’t get to enjoy her pastie, did she? Why did Michael have to cast a shadow upon her enjoyment. I’m guessing this is early in their relationship, before they developed a healthy respect and tolerance for each other.
    There’s a lot of reading for me to do in the comments above, so I’ll just add my little piece of pie before I read the other delicious morsels.
    With thanks for the challenge and best wishes. A piece of pie http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-WJ

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You found the time to write and rhyme; to play with words is not absurd, but spelling rules are.

      • Norah

        Thank you! Yes, spelling rules are quite absurd!

    • jeanne229

      Delightful!!! Left a comment on your site. Reading your posts transports me from the often sad frustrations of the adult world back to the time of wonder. Love the book suggestions and the wordplay. What lucky children they are that have you for a teacher.

      • Norah

        Thank you, Jeanne. I very much appreciate your beautiful comment. I’m so pleased I can help you to once again capture that sense of wonder, if only momentarily.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Norah! You’ve encountered one of those lovely internet-free spots in the remote world. I seem to find many, and often it’s peaceful A correlation? And yes, I know exactly what you mean by having enough to read but not respond. I’ve been thwarted many times. The Keweenaw is gorgeous but riddled with dead zones, especially where the agates hide. Perhaps it’s to keep less serious agate hunters away! Good detail, you picked up on — yes, early n the relationship Michael would have soured any bite Danni were to take. Thank you for your well wishes and pie dishes! You remind me why I never mastered crusts! 😀

      • Norah

        Thanks for your understanding, Charli. The dead spots would have been more peaceful if I hadn’t been so frustrated at not being able to connect. I didn’t expect to be cut adrift, so to speak.
        Keweenaw – what a beautiful word. I think it is more beautiful than our English meaning.
        It’s good to see the development in the relationship between Danni and Michael. Obviously they are real characters. I care about them. 🙂

  17. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    It sounds as though you are being enveloped by the community and it is nice to hear that empowerment in your words and in your action. I have no doubt you will get a rental but glad that you have a safe place, such as the one you give us, where you can bide your time until the right one comes along. You have written that feeling of content and despair well in your flash. Easy how emotions/taste can change so quickly. Mine this time https://irenewaters19.com/2017/07/25/pie-99-word-flash-fiction/

    • jeanne229

      Very clever Irene. I particularly enjoyed the leap into a different reality there at the end. A pie chart indeed!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a good community and the right place will emerge eventually. Thanks for your encouragement, Irene! How delightful to see a flash from you!

  18. Rachel A. Hanson

    I love making pie, and my crust is definitely nothing to sneeze at (just tooting my own horn a little bit).

    I’m so glad you’re feeling empowered to take care of your needs! Family really is an incredible thing.

    • Charli Mills

      Rachel, I might have to order up a horn-tootin’ pie crust from you! And yes, I feel that way about my family. We have terrific kids. 🙂

  19. The Plagued Parent

    I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I somehow always ending up making my response to the prompt slightly depressing… I’ve gotta work on that…
    Thanks again for the exercise Charli.

    http://wp.me/p5u9VI-17T

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Real life stuff is not necessarily depressing. It’s a positive thing she’s still making pies.

    • jeanne229

      Sad and nostalgic. So reflective of the passing of things that are most valuable to us. But also a call, perhaps, to not let them go…

    • Charli Mills

      I don’t know Tony, maybe it’s the thought of pie! There’s some dark crusts in this collection.

  20. jeanne229

    In under the wire again. Thanks for a thought-provoking prompt Charli that took me in an unexpected direction.

    https://jeannelombardo.com/2017/07/american-pie/

    American Pie

    “Nothing more American than apple pie,” she said.
    “Oh, I don’t know. There’s lots of things.”
    “Okay, sure, there’s baseball and Mom, too.”
    “That’s not what I was thinking about.”
    “What then?”
    “Oh, oppression of the poor, Wall Street fat cats, imperialism, misogyny, institutionalized sexism and racism, homelessness, addiction, environmental destruction…”
    “God, you’re so negative.”
    “No, just realistic.”
    “I still think it’s a land of opportunity for all.”
    “No, you think it’s a zero-sum game. Not enough pie for everyone; some must go without.”
    “I never said that.”
    “No? Then what’s with ‘the poor will always be with us’?”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      The truth hurts. Way to write it! That she refers to the speaker as negative for disagreeing is part of the slippery slope the nation is sliding down.

    • julespaige

      There is another thing I don’t make and it is ‘Good Gravy’ – Poor, the upper crust and the middle that fights to hold humanity together.
      I read your whole post at your site. I’m not a political person. I would however like things to be equally fair. And that never does seem to pan out…

      Sometimes people just don’t see what they say. I remember getting a hair cut once and commenting to an acquaintance about it. Asking if they liked the ‘new look’ and they said without batting their eyes: “Gee I don’t know I never look at your face when I’m talking to you.” I think the Head Honcho doesn’t look at who ‘e’s talking to either. I think if the bird company wasn’t afraid of the bad press they’d tell ‘im to fly elsewhere or clip ‘is wings. But I actually read that the ‘company’ that hadn’t been doing so well has rebounded because of ‘im. And that’s just too sad.

      • jeanne229

        Well, as someone said back in the 70s, the political is personal. And yet, I think of the time wasted in wallowing in all the sensationalism. I must fall back on a Ghandi saying: “Be the change you want to see.” Thanks for visiting the site Jules. I do so appreciate it!

      • julespaige

        Our family has and does its share of volunteering… one person at a time. Being kind to everyone does not seem to be the focus of the main stream of politics. Sensationalism and commercialism seem to go hand and hand.

        Some folks don’t like change, and yet ‘Change’ is really the only constant. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Beneath the pie crust we think is so American are bad apples we don’t want to examine. Sometimes I think what we are experiencing as a nation is a crisis stemming from generational denial of these very issues. It’s a shift in thinking we need — that pie for the pieless does not take away someone else’s pie. The point is, we can all have pie. Isn’t that the American dream? Ah, a provocative flash!

  21. Kate

    There is something to be said about the aroma of freshly baked pie that makes a home inviting. When my in-laws sold their house, my mother-in-law had a steaming cinnamony apple pie sitting on her stove when potential house buyers arrived to check out the place. It only took two pies to sell their house.

    My writing is rusty but after reading about all these pies, it gave me a craving for some.
    https://eloquentlykate.com/2017/07/25/humble-pie/

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Craving some pie, or craving some writing? The writing is not so rusty. You served up a fine flash. Humble pie! Good one.

    • jeanne229

      Humble pie may not be sweet but it is nourishing! Great take on the flash. And I like the way you told the whole story through effective dialogue.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Sold her house in two pies! How clever. Perhaps I do need to improve my pie skills in time to sell books. 🙂 Good to see you Kate, and you’re writing is not rusty!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Well, now in my head is that old song, When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.
      Worth it for reading your flash.

    • jeanne229

      Thanks for the wisdom of your post. I left a comment on your site but will commend you again here for taking the step to wean yourself off a blood-sucking social media site. Your flash conveyed so much pathos. It is in the simple tasks of ordinary life that we find the treasures of love, and miss them when they are gone.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, definitely! Especially now that I’m sharing a house with a cat wearing bells! 😀

    • julespaige

      I’ve got a neighbor without his wife….He is in his mid 90’s and still cooks for himself. Except when he eats out. But he has a service that delivers portioned dinners – so all he has to do is heat and eat.

  22. Damyanti Biswas

    This looks like a cool exercise, and I’m sorry to have missed it. Would love to participate in the next one.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. July 20: Flash Fiction Challenge – Herb’s Pie. | Morpethroad - […] Written for: https://carrotranch.com/2017/07/21/july-20-flash-fiction-challenge-2/ […]
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  5. Dessert for One | Lemon Shark Reef - […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]
  6. A piece of pie | Norah Colvin - […] This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less)…
  7. Pie: 99 Word flash Fiction | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) - […] response to Charli’s prompt where she […]
  8. Pies in the Sky - The Plagued Parent - […] 99-word story for Charli at Carrot Ranch. This week’s prompt was… […]
  9. Humble Pie | Eloquently Kate - […] wrote this in response to Charli Mills’ July 20th Flash Fiction Challenge.  In 99 words (no more, no less)…
  10. American Pie-Not Enough to Go Around - Jeanne Belisle Lombardo - […] George Bush. The line resurfaced in my head this week when thinking of two recent exchanges: the flash fiction…
  11. Breakups: The downs and ups | C. Jai Ferry - […] week’s prompt from Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story…

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