March 28: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

March 28, 2019

Wolfric III has terrorized me all day. It began while soaping the breakfast dishes, rinsing a cup and spying a slight eminence below the drying rack in the second sink. A small hump of gray darker than the stainless steel about the size of a cast-off peel of avocado caught my eye. When I focused, I realized it was a massive wolf spider. Wolfric denotes the name we give the eight-legged beasts of the basement, adding the suffix for annual lineage. In other words, this is the third wolf spider I’ve seen since relocating to the Keweenaw. Well, third one in this house on Roberts Street.

Last October, while sequestered away with my friend and seafarer historian at a lightkeeper’s cottage on Eagle Harbor, I stirred up a resident wolf spider in the bathroom. When they move, they hustle like arachnid lightning. Without my glasses, the world blurs. Nothing is distinct, but I can catch movement. I was about to step into the shower when I thought a mouse was scurrying toward me. I screamed, scrambled backward, hitting the bathroom door which obliged my force of contact and opened, launching me naked into the dining room. My friend, around the corner in the kitchen, asked, “What’s that you say, Charli?”

Mumbling all was well, I bravely, and vulnerably stepped back into the bathroom, grabbed my glasses and faced the biggest wolf spider I had ever seen. They are poisonous, though hardly aggressive. Living up to their name, wolf spiders are hunters. I’m actually curious about them because they often seem calculating and keen. Reputedly they have far better eyesight than I do. My shower was quick that day, and later my friend and I laughed about her missing Charli Verses Spider Show.

Mona, my daughter and son-in-law’s cat, is tiny but mighty. She’s the most loving critter on our block, possibly in the whole universe. She greets every person who comes to our home on Roberts Street with purrs and snuggles. Mona cuddles the dogs, runs to greet the kids at night, and brushes against Sgt Mills to gain affection. Sometimes, her love runs over. Like when I’m trying to write, and she decides it’s the loving hour. Often she escapes to the basement to hunt the hunter. But being the lovable Mona she is, she’s never hurt Wolfric I, II, or III. I’ve found her with all four paws tucked beneath her, staring at Wolfric staring at her as if she’s keeping the beast company.

It’s not Wolfric’s fault he’s terrorized me. I’m not adverse to spiders, and I understand that his emergence is a cheerful omen of spring on the Keweenaw. I’d prefer he stay in the basement, however. My issue with wolf spiders, in particular, is their size and speed. It triggers one dandy of a panic attack deep in my amygdala. I took caution with WIII and finished loading the dishwasher. Any I washed by hand I carefully avoided dripping water over him. Throughout the day, as I drank water, sliced cheese for an afternoon snack, rotated our baby flower seedlings to sunny spots, and prepped dinner, my mind never released the presence of the spider trapped in the sink.

At last, Radio Geek and Solar Man arrived home. Sgt Mills has a long day of therapies on Thursdays, so he won’t be back until later. And he’d only tease me, calling me his “Cowardly Cowgirl” so I’d prefer asking our kids to help rescue Wolfric.

We’re in the kitchen, Radio Geek and me. I’m tentatively searching for Wolfric as she’s making a snack of popcorn. She has dance rehearsal for the big show at The Continental Fire Company on Friday, and my dinner of roast chicken and cauliflower won’t be done until after. She’s feeling peckish for a snack, and we are chatting. I’m getting nervous because I can’t see Wolfric and I don’t want him to startle me. He’s had me on edge all day. It’s hard to polish my flash fiction for the dance show with spiders on the brain.

Bravely, I bend over the sink, searching. I hear my daughter say in cautious tones, “Mom…Mom…”

All hell breaks loose in my mind. I think she’s spotted the spider and is trying to calmly warn me. This does not calm my heart which is now ready to burst from my sternum. The next instant slams me with unexpected pain. I distinctly feel a whump to my back, claws in my neck. My logical mind goes on instant hiatus. It’s wonderful to be an imaginative person except in instances like this. Without the backup of logic, I interpret that I’m under attack. The hunter has me, and I scream, and scream, and scream.

Through the fog of sheer terror, I hear my daughter howling in laughter. This grounds me, and I realize  I’m bucking and pitching around the kitchen, screaming my lungs out with Mona dug into my back. She figured since I was bent over the sink, it might be a good time to jump from the kitchen table to my shoulders,  She does this sometimes when I do dishes or cook. My feline parrot who nestles into my shoulders and purrs in my ear.

Mona is a cowgirl. That cat can ride.

When I realized what was happening, I slumped across the counter, the cat dropped to the floor, and I joined my daughter’s mirth, and we both laughed until we cried. When she had seen Mona perched, wobbling on her toes to make the leap, Radio Geek tried to warn me. I thought the spider had me. Wolfric had actually crawled into Solar Man’s coffee mug, and my daughter rescued him, releasing him on the kitchen floor.

I thought we agreed to set him outside. There’s only five feet of crumbling snow left. Ah, well, I step firmly into spring. If something emergent doesn’t frighten the life in me, it doesn’t seem like a transition. Spring roars in like a wolf spider or a bronc-riding cat.

Last Friday I coaxed Sgt Mills to go with me up the peninsula. We drove along the shoreline of Lake Superior, looking for signs.  No open water, but the ice is changing color, promising ice-off soon.

An artist couple who live on the lake announced the passage of three freighters, meaning the Coast Guard has cut the ice from the shipping lanes. A small group of friends celebrated Ostara, and we planted seeds together. Last Sunday, I attended the local Iranian community’s Norooz celebration and next month I’ll celebrate Easter. I feel like my candy basket is full of special treats. Hopefully, not spiders.

Once again, I’ll be adding 99-word literary art to a 47 North Dance Show (Awakening). That’s this Friday. Tomorrow! It’s about the transition from dark to light and the fusion of accepting both within ourselves.

On Sunday, I’m leading a writing retreat called To Cultivate a Book. It’s based on other workshops I’ve developed, but allows for continual growth both personally and professionally.

We have room for four more writers at the Carrot Ranch Writer’s Refuge in Vermont at D. Avery’s A-frame cabin in the woods near the Northeastern Kingdom. I’m excited to be living a life-long dream of working with writers in natural settings, experiencing literary art and nature as one. I’ll be adding more details and photos to the Refuge tab.

Let this encourage you to plant, grow, nurture, weed and harvest. No matter if your world is upside down because you live in the southern hemisphere or life sends you unexpected spiders, you can always plant what it is you want to grow.

Here are some photos I wanted to share  with you from last  Friday’s jaunt up the peninsula. Pressure ridges from freezing  waves and erupting sand have formed what look like ice-encased dunes, eminences that will crumble with warmer days, and persistent waves. It’s stunning, gritty and transformative:

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March 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence. It’s a rich word full of different meanings. Explore how it sounds or how you might play with it. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 2, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Find What Glints  (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Eminence of sand rolled across flats, forming dunes. Danni recalled following an old pioneer trail across the Forty Mile Desert of Nevada in her dad’s Jeep, top down, spring sun beating warmly. What was that he said? Turn around and look for the glints among the dunes. Every time he pulled over, Danni scrambled among the hollows of sand, sun to her back. She trotted toward the glints – a purple glass nob from a dresser, a marble, an obsidian arrowhead. Even today, trained as an archeologist, she heard her dad’s voice coaxing her to find the discards of history.

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  1. The Haunted Wordsmith

    I was beyond thrilled last year when I discovered that my lawn was infested with wolf spiders. I caught a few in the house but they are always welcome here. I hate finding black widows and wolf spiders eat widows. The more the merrier. I will be even happier if we start getting the orb weavers back. Our black widow problem got out of hand about four years ago and they all disappeared.

    • Charli Mills

      Now I know what they hunt! In Idaho, we had at least one orb weaver every year over a window or on the porch. Mosquito eaters, I called them. I do like the wolf spiders, which is why I made sure not to harm the one in the sink, but I have a terrible startle reflex. At least we got a good laugh and the cat got a surprise ride.

    • robertawrites235681907

      OH my word, I don’t fancy any spiders in my yard.

      • The Haunted Wordsmith

        Spiders help keep grub and insect populations down as well as the more harmful spiders’ populations. If you find your larger garden spiders decreasing, it usually means you have widow problems. Large wolf spider populations mean no widows or recluse. We have dozens of spider species in our yard. Really hoping to get some garden orbs back this year though. Been fighting widows for four years now.

      • Charli Mills

        You know so much, Teresa and you’ve given me good insights on the wolf spiders. I hope your orb spiders return this year.

    • Miriam Hurdle

      We have many kinds of spiders in our garden and inside the house. I watched them spinning the webs several times, fascinating! They take down the webs in the morning.

      • Charli Mills

        I had not noticed that behavior before, Miriam. But we have no webs in our house and I would say that’s due to Wolfric and his kin.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Oh, we have lots of them. Some spiders drop long silk from the top of the patio cover almost to the ground before they spin.

        I’ll miss the flash this week, catch you next week, Charli.

      • Charli Mills

        Catch you next week, Miraim! <3

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Sure, Charli. I’ll try to start early! <3

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    RE the writers’ refuge: Woods and a LAKE, with kayaks. And loons. Saying. A little lake compared to that of Ms. Mills, but a fine lake. Our ice out is anytime between early April and May. Towns around have ice out pools, fund raisers based on betting on the day of ice free lakes. Mine’s a little later than others because of the mountain that shelters it but I’m betting the water is good swimming by July; bring yer swim togs.

    • Charli Mills

      Who ya callin’ a loon? 😉

      When the ice starts thinning in the waterway, the Chamber sets a snowmobile or car out on the ice (engine and fluids removed) and sell tickets to guess the drop date. It’s a way out as we watched snowmobilers on the lake, which I think is nuts any time of year because Lady Lake is unpredictable in all her ways.

      Looking forward to your lake in July!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Awwww, I’m so tempted now 🙁

      • Charli Mills

        The loons, right?

      • anuragbakhshi

        Absolutely 🙂

  3. Violet Lentz

    I am right there with you, Charli being frightened, but not biased against spiders.. Especially big ones!!! Augh!!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for understanding, Violet! My startle reflex is super-charged and overrides the spider curiousity and good intentions.

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    RE the flash: Yeah, that’s real; trained professionals get their training from more than trained professionals. You are making Danni a richer fuller character by these 99 words that show a dad’s influence.

    • Charli Mills

      For years, I had a scene that fit nowhere, D. It was Danni’s first find as a kid, and her dad’s lesson regarding it. As I’ve been working on the latest revision, all these scenes began to shape her more, and influence how she behaves and why. Flash fiction allows us to do exploration, and also process what we discovered. Thanks!

  5. H.R.R. Gorman

    As I read through your story of Wolfric, I kept trying to decide if I *wanted* the prompt to be about spiders or if I specifically *did not want* it to be about spiders. They definitely get my blood rolling!

    Anyway, thought I’d comment now while I’m good and scared about brown recluses in the bed.

    • joanne the geek

      As I was hoping the prompt was going to be about spiders.

    • Charli Mills

      I like to give you all a hint of the prompt, sometimes overt, sometimes hidden or unexpected. But always to leave you guessing! Oh…brown recluses do not make great bedfellows. My nerves couldn’t handle a spider collection right now. 😀

    • H.R.R. Gorman

      Brown recluses live in North Carolina, but they’re rare in my region at the moment. I saw more of them growing up when I lived in the mountains. Even though I know Black Widow bites are worse (we have too), the Brown Recluse ones scare me SO much more because of the necrosis.

      Anyway, here’s my little story! The article contains a bit of explanation if it doesn’t make sense (which I hope it does!).

      **Mongolian Pie**

      The jester bowed before the king and queen. His coat, a tattered, borrowed thing, seemed unfit in the presence of royalty’s eminence. “I will sing you a traditional overtone song of my people.”

      The jester pulled the bow across his khuuchir, and the two-stringed instrument wailed. The voices of the people came from his throat, some deep and worrisome while others were clear, melodic.

      After the song finished, the king stood from his seat and clapped. “Excellent show!” He bent to look down on the jester.

      The jester reached up and snatched the king’s gloried crown, then dashed away.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, yes! I recognize where this story comes from and yet it stands on its own as literary art.

        I’m surprised to learn that brown recluses live in the mountains of North Carolina. I don’t know what I was thinking like spiders can’t climb!

    • Macy

      Ick brown recluses are an awful kind of spider! Hope you didn’t run into any last night! ????

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Nope! Chances are low – it’s a mostly irrational fear!

    • pedometergeek

      I felt the same way…to be about spiders or not. I am absolutely phobic about spiders, yet I hate to kill them as they are great for killing other harmful insects. I would rather remove any spider to the outside (where they belong), but I also know that “if you look up, they jump on you.”

      Charli, you handled your wolf spider incident much better than I ever would have. I once returned from class to find that I had one in my dorm room, and I bugged my RA (Resident Assistant) to come and get it or kill it or expect me to bunk in her room that evening. She thought I was kidding, but she came down and took care of the furry little problem.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha — I laughed that your RA thought you were kidding, Nan.

  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    RE the post: I don’t even know where to begin. Wolfric… there’s a lesson in fear here. Wolfric did nothing but be there… you did all the rest with your own fear. Mona did what Mona does. (Where’s the Ranger? I need some help here, but I think you projected your fear and bam! It rode you like a mutton buster at the rodeo; feeling sheepish?) Seriously, there’s a lot in your post that could be used in the next Rodeo. Bare Naked Buckaroos, Spider Roping, Cat Bucking, and, Mona’s specialty event, Spider Whispering.
    Did anyone run a timer for Mona?

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! What Rodeo line-up that would be! Mona rode at least eight seconds. And yes, feeling sheepish — fear rode me like a mutton buster. That’s the trouble with a hijacked amygdala — no control when it’s triggered. I have fear-based PTSD, the Hub has combat-based PTSD which means I’m always fleeing and he’s always running to danger. We’re quite a pair! He was sorry to have missed the Spider Whispering. Wolfric lives another day and I don’t think he’ll be heading to the sink again.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Here’s the Ranger, but not much help I’m afraid! I can do adders, our only venomous snake, but I don’t know about biting spiders, and I’d also be freaked by an assault by a domestic cat! (Reminds me of being assaulted by a turtle!) Oh, and I’m also scared of cows.

      • Charli Mills

        A turtle? We need to hear that story sometime! Yes, in afterthought, the cat incident on its own was not pleasant, but I would not have turned into a bucking bronc had it not been for the addition of the spider to the mix.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Mm, maybe it should be the next Rodeo flash memoir. But doesn’t feel much of a story: Anne in the water, getting ready to return to the boat after snorkelling; something on my back, pushing me down; all I can say is, good thing Mr A was there to rescue me — and laugh!

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, Anne! I never would have thought that a turtle could cause a similar reaction! Animals riding humans. I bet Mr. A still laughs when he tells the story.

  7. joanne the geek

    That writers’ refuge sounds like a great idea. I’d love to do something like that one day, shame I’m several thousand kilometres away.

    I loved your account about the wolf spider. I really love spiders and would have a tarantula as a pet if they allowed them in this country. I must remember to look online for pictures of them. I’m glad the spider and you were all okay in the end.

    Today we had a memorial service here for the 50 who died in the Mosque shootings. It’s been two weeks now and everyone here is still a bit on edge. Yusuf Islam (or Cat Stevens as he is better known) came here from the other side of the world and performed Peace Train. The service had some very poignant moments which I’m sure will resonate for a long time with me.

    That’s a tricky word for the prompt. I’m going to have to think on this. I might have to think a bit laterally here…

    Hopefully the spiders will leave you alone from now on 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      No spiders were injured in the creation of this story! I’ve often adopted spiders, and most are slow. I think they are smart, too. I have a terrible startle reflex.

      Oh, how compassionate that Yusuf Islam went to NZ to sing Peace Train. I’ve been so impressed with how your nation has mourned with such dignity and reacted swiftly with legal changes. My Aunt and cousin live part time in Nelson. I think Cat Stevens and eminence might coalesce into something.

      Thank you! I hope the cat decides to resist jumping on my back, too. She’s snuggled me twice since so evidently no hard feelings over the wild ride.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      How lovely that Yusuf Islam came to your memorial. The world is watching in awe as you grieve with such dignity.

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Crowned Eminence

    “Kid, yer emanating fear.”
    “I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”
    “Ever one’s afeared a somethin’ Kid. It’s okay ta admit it. Then ya kin face yer fears. So jist admit what yer afeared of.”
    “Well, what are you afraid of, Pal?”
    “Me? I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”
    “Huh. Was afraid you’d say that. But you gotta admit yer fears Pal. You said.”
    “Well. I don’t like spiders Kid. Jist don’t.”
    “Right? All scrunchy and hairy and sudden moves. But do ya fear ‘em, Pal?”
    “Mebbe… Why ya pushin’ this Kid?”
    “I’m afraid one’s bein’ an eminence on yer hat, Pal.”

    • Charli Mills

      Why do I think Pal just threw down a perfectly good hat? Bravery is admitting you are afraid but wearing that eminence anyhow.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha.

  9. MacyMacy

    Ick! I hate spiders. I remember the first time I saw a wolf spider I was visiting my family in Nebraska. We don’t have them where I live in California and I saw this huge spider on the side of my aunt’s house and started screaming for my uncle. He comes outside, shrugs his shoulders and say “Eh, yeah… that… a wolf spider” and walked back inside while I sat there, 12-years old trying not to cry! Haha

    • Charli Mills

      They are huge hairy beasts! I am fascinated by them, and I do like having them (in the basement). Mostly they stay out of sight. But alas, this was a day of building terror. I’m sure, at 12, hearing a spider named after a wolf was not comforting, either.

    • Charli Mills

      Good job, Macy! Expanding your vocabulary should you one day take the GRE. As for the prompts, I pull from stories and I have yet to meet a day not filled with them.

      • Macy

        Yes I have noticed that about your prompts and it is just one of the things that I love about them – the backstory you provide every week.

    • Charli Mills

      Your story is expanding, Joanne, and yet each 99-words feels complete. You are stringing together pearls.

  10. denmaniacs4

    Entertaining post, Charli. Very slapstick. Consider this effort a first response…there may not be a second…

    Eminiscule Effort

    There’s that voice in my head again. Don’t hear it all that often.

    “She’s got you this time, bucko. You usually whip off a ninety-niner with your eyes closed.”

    “Yeah,” I riposte, “This time though, I’m stumped.”

    “Could sleep on it?”

    “Yup. I could, but I think all I’d get is a sore brain.”

    “Maybe. Does that mean you’re just gonna roll over?”

    “Nah. I’ll play around with it for a bit. I’m thinking something like…riffing on Eminent Domain.”

    “Eminence Domain! Hmmm! Might actually mean something. Don’t know what but it smacks of… excellence.”

    Or…I’m an eminently lazy punster.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha, a lot of us are eminently lazy 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      My life is often slapstick, Bill. But you add to the laughter with your lazy punstering! Eminence domain is the White House, right? 😉

      • Bill Engleson

        His Orange Eminence, yes…

      • Charli Mills

        He might even use the phrase in a garbled speech!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I saw you leave it! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      I enjoyed how each line seemed part of an intricate web of writing. Well done, Nascent!

      • Nascent Ederren

        Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

    • Charli Mills

      “Granpa, are you Eminem?” Ha! The struggle is real, Reena. 😀

      • Reena Saxena

        A challenge for Granpa ????????

  11. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    As usual, your post displays your eminence as a leader and writer and I hope your workshop goes well. I enjoyed your photographs. Even though snow rarely stays around more than a couple of weeks here, I was reminded of the shock of seeing a bit of colour on the ground, even if it’s faded brown.
    Sorry about that spider – I’d have been scared by the cat too!

      • Charli Mills

        Why does it seem that the world turned complex and confusing in such a short time? Maybe that’s why we seek undemanding books to read. Escape.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        You could be right, Charli. For me, chaos outside has the opposite effect as I want my fiction to reflect reality. I’ll escape to the hills.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m going to think about this, Anne. It could be an important insight to readership.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m ready for that shock to happen. Snow is shrinking, and someone sighted the first freighters six miles out, following the ice-cutter. Open shipping lanes herald spring. The workshop went even better than anticipated. It’s a joy to work with motivated and creative people. The cat has since hopped on my daughter’s shoulders, seeking another ride.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Glad it went well. Motivated people helps, but you’ve got to be ready to lead them, as I’m sure you did. Spring in all areas, but what’s got into that cat?

      • Charli Mills

        It’s a way to use the skills and training from my career. As long as they are motivated, I’m willing to lead. That’s why I admire people like Norah who can teach even the unmotivated. I run in the opposite direction! As for that cat, spring fever, perhaps.

  12. Jennie

    I prey I never see a wolf spider!

    • Charli Mills

      Especially on your back! 😀

      • Jennie


    • Charli Mills

      This is the beginning, Ritu! <3

      Ha! Okay, noted. No mixing spiders with Ms. Bhathal.

      • Ritu

        He he!!


  13. Nobbinmaug

    I’m not sure what a wolf spider is, but I love the name Wolfric III. I’m not going to look up wolf spider because I want to imagine it as a hybrid of a wolf and a spider, like an eight-legged wolf that spins webs. I’m sure it’s just a type of spider, which will be disappointing.

    Here’s my attempt to achieve eminence:

    • Charli Mills

      I’d say that I “like” your imagined wolf spider, Nobbinmaug, but I don’t want to picture it! Suffice to say you can have that version and I’ll be glad I have a less fearsome version.

      Powerful writing this week!

      • Nobbinmaug

        I want to picture it. I want it to fight a turtle lion. Ancient people got to make up creatures like that all the time, griffins, unicorns, chimera, kraken… I am glad you don’t have any of those in your house, though.

        Thank you!

      • Charli Mills

        Okay — I’ll picture your spider if it gets to fight a turtle lion.

        The krakens I keep contained in the upstairs bathroom! 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, AC! I see you are a drabblist who appreciates what the short literary forms have to offer readers and writers.

  14. Susan Zutautas

    Charli, you had me in stitches reading about Wolfric. You’re hilarious! Love all the pictures you took, just gorgeous.
    Here’s mine for this week. Wasn’t sure if I was going to use it for the flash after I wrote it this morning but decided to anyways.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, the Kitchen Rodeo of 2019 will be remembered with laughs. 😉 Thanks for laughing with me! The remnants of winter, though dirty, are still stunning and expressive of the power they contain to move rock and ice. Hope you are thawing, too! I’m glad you shared your story. <3

  15. Jules

    Charli ,

    We are both seeing signs of spring. I thought your word was emergence – then I looked again to find eminence – and I was able to work that into my haibun.
    I also looked up the definition, as well as poked it in the Thesaurus. And now I say… good night.

    The Weight of Time

    From the edge of the field, five deer emerged from the wood line, a brief view.
    The car on this long highway emerges from fits and starts of traffic.
    Heading south from seven hours north I see emerging signs of late spring.

    While away yellow daffodils emerged in the side and front gardens.
    A soft smile emerges from my lips, the front of my home looks happy.
    On the road home an emerging issue from a distance; Hubby’s work

    his eminence to
    solve issues drains our time
    rising ground slip slides

    Heavy sighs emerge, shoulders sag… as day ends


    Eminence noun :1. fame or recognized superiority, especially within a particular sphere or profession. Formal – literary: 2. a piece of rising ground.
    Two sets of three American Sentences; haibun
    An American Sentence = 17 syllables – 1 line haiku
    haibun ; prose with traditional American haiku;
    And an added line to complete 99 words. I just didn’t have the time or
    wherewithal after a long travel day and then listening to my hubby attempt
    to solve a problem for another two hours after we got home to tweak a renga.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha. It would have been great if the word was Emergence, but then, you might not have been able to get that greater ending 🙂

      • Jules

        First impressions due lead to an odd verse or two 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! Emergent would be an interesting spring word, too. Ah, but sometimes I try to surprise you all and give you a word to explore. 😉 Love the line that captures the image of emerging daffodils: “…the front of my home looks happy.”

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for your thoughts, Michael!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Thank for having fun with my encounter, John!

  16. reading journeys

    Hi Charli,

    Spiders I do not like but I love the ideas and contrasts that come through your photos and words:

    “Pressure ridges from freezing waves and erupting sand have formed what look like ice-encased dunes, eminences that will crumble with
    warmer days, and persistent waves. It’s stunning, gritty and transformative:”

    And your words “to plant, grow, nurture, weed and harvest.”

    I thought of a spider’s web – a ‘home’ of sticky silky threads strong enough to trap and ‘harvest” insects; and yet fragile, crumbling when a hand brushes against it.

    Still thinking over ideas for a FF.

    Thank you !

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Saifun! Oh, I love your idea of a spider web, acknowledging both its strength and fragility. Meaning is created in the space between contrasts. I think that’s why Lake Superior hold my attention in so many ways.

  17. Norah

    Charli, I laughed so hard at the two wolf spider stories you shared. I can just imagine. I would have been exactly the same. We have some dangerous spiders over here, also, but they’re not all big. We do get rather large huntsman spiders in our house from time to time. While not really dangerous or aggressive, they can give a nasty bite. And I don’t like them about!!!! Sometimes one appears in the bedroom just as I’m going to bed. I may try to coax hub to catch it or, if I have to, try to catch it myself to take outside. The process generally gives us a few laughs but we are rarely successful. It usually scuttles off into a corner or behind something. Then I have to use my imagination to pretend I haven’t seen it and it isn’t really there. I am happy for them to live. I’d just rather they lived outside and definitely NOT in my bedroom when I’m trying to sleep.
    The photographs you shared are stunning. Your world is so foreign to mine. While I have a good imagination (especially for disasters like having spiders jumping on my back), I’m not so good at imagining life where you are. I do hope your spring has arrived. We had a hint of autumn today at long last. I hope it stays autumn for a while. We had a really long summer.
    I hadn’t heard the word ’eminence’ used the way you have. I’ve generally heard it used in the context of religion. Sadly, some of those once referred to as ‘your eminence’ have recently fallen from grace.
    I like that Danni was hunting for glints of sunshine in the sand and that it was her father’s words she still heard when so engaged.
    Looking forward to hearing about the flash reading and dance performance. Have a great week!

    • Norah

      And here’s my story, Your Eminence. I hope you like it.

      Your Eminence
      She glided in, regal robes flowing, loyal subjects lining the path.
      “Your eminence,” they bowed as she passed.
      She occasionally extended her gloved hand to receive their kisses of adoration or stopped to bestow a gift of royal chatter. Though her crown and responsibilities weighed heavily, she held her head high as she proceeded towards the throne. Decorum dictated every move. She dared not breathe out of sync. Her subjects depended upon her.
      When seated, she motioned for all to sit. They obeyed, listening respectfully.
      “I decree– “
      “Lunch is served, Your Majesty.”
      “Aw, Mu-um!”
      “You’ll reign again later.”

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Norah! I can image the spider wrangling going on in your bedroom. It’s nearly impossible to un-imagine a spider on the loose is such close confines with what should be sweet slumber. I feel I want more description to this — “…or, if I have to, try to catch it myself to take outside.” Trying to catch a spider one doesn’t want to encounter can lead to rodeo moments. 😀

      Glad you caught that Danni’s dad was her first teacher. And I’ll be writing about the dance performance. It rocked the house!

      Sad, how those once graced with such elevation would fall on account of such dark abuse. But I like how you revived that meaning of the word and kept intact the sweet innocence of childhood.

      • Norah

        Well, Charli, we both have good spidery imaginations. 🙂 I have to work hard on those un-imaginings. 🙂 I think an encounter Hub had with a flying cockroach was more of a rodeo moment, but that’s another story. 🙂
        I look forward to hearing about the dance. The photos I saw on Facebook look spectacular.
        Childhood – my favourite place to be. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        We might need to host a Rodeo contest of who bucks the hardest when under attack by flying and crawling creatures!

  18. Ann Edall-Robson

    His Eminence
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    On Hanna’s first day of the job she figured she would meet a few people, be shown some of the ropes, and get her bearings.

    There was no surprise when the foreman drove in the direction of the outbuildings.

    Along the way, he showed her where she would stow her gear, pointing to the living quarters and the cookhouse. Both, he explained vehemently, were Mrs. Johnson’s domains.

    The barnyard came into view, and so did a large grey cat wandering out to meet them.

    “That,” muttered the foreman, “is His Eminence. He thinks he runs the show around here.”

    • Susan Zutautas

      Love this one, Ann!

    • anuragbakhshi

      He doesn’t think that, he ‘knows’ that 🙂

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        That is a true statement.

    • papershots

      hahaha! I can just picture that cat…

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        He was something else!

    • Charli Mills

      Every ranch has a Mrs. J in the cookshack and His Eminence running the place! Great insightful flash, a bit of first-day ranch life.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Most would see His Eminence as just another barn cat. Only those who had been around a while understand his importance.

  19. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    There’s more to this here:

    Age of Imminence, D. Avery

    “What? Her Eminence drinking alone? Where’s Ernest?”
    “Can’t I be somewhere where Ernest isn’t, Nard? Like you should talk. Where’s Kris?
    “Visiting his mother. I just couldn’t.
    “Hey, Lloyd tells me Ernest gave you a ring.”
    “Thought you gals were supposed to be all giddy at a time like this.”
    “Ernest’s giddy enough for the both of us. Driving me nuts.”
    “Am I a peckerhead for being glad Kris is gone for a couple days?”
    “Not if you’re looking forward to him coming back.”
    “I am.”
    “We’ll have to get used to being happy, huh, Nard?”

    • Susan Zutautas

      Peckerhead, there’s a word I’ve not heard in a while. Made me laugh.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        It’s what Marge calls L’Nard, though he’s becoming less of one as time goes on. It is a classic word and just fits some people.

      • Charli Mills

        Susan’s on to something — I think peckerhead fell out of fashion. It’s a revival. 😀

    • Charli Mills

      I like the contrast of imminence and eminence as two friends settle into their relationships. Yeah, I think it is healthy to spend time apart, pursuing individual interests.

  20. Jackie

    Mona sounds like a treasure!
    I’ll give this challenge a go before the deadline.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Jackie, Mona is indeed a treasure! She just wants to love on everybody. Thanks for taking up the challenge!

  21. Liz H

    I’m back and have a flash of fantasy, horror, and freedom

    Portrait of Marion Gray

    Marion stared at herself, staring at herself, daring the other to step over the line.
    “What d’you want me to do about it?”
    “Can’t you absorb one more?”
    [Continue ]

    • Liz H

      (Charli–small edits on my website version)

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome back, Liz! You achieved all three in 99 words, and small edits noted.

      • Liz H

        Thanks, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      I have a dream to travel the world, Anurag. To get to meet each of you is like a bucket list dream. Maybe Svalbard, lol? Or an Australian cruise, or England! These retreats are such an infusion of energy.

      I also make Wrangling Words available to our online community if anyone wants to use the program to promote literary art. I use the library system. I should mention this more. My vision is that each of us at Carrot Ranch can spread literary art where we live, too. And I will be building free online tutorials as I work on my MFA. Eventually, I’ll build some online courses, too.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kate! I don’t want to have to scream, and pitch about while reading — that would be of the horror genre. 😉

      • calmkate

        lol I can try that next time if you’d like Charli 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Shivers like cat scratches down the spine! Thanks, the book cultivation retreat was a smashing success.

      • papershots

        Glad to hear that! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Robbie, your imagination catches fire and off you go burning through the pages! Good use of prompt fuel. Good! I was hoping this would be an unfamiliar word to work with.

  22. susansleggs


    I was away with three friends at a quilting expo when you posted this weeks blog. My roommate was in the bathroom and heard my laughter when I first read it. It took me a while to calm down enough to read her the antics you shared. I too would be one to save the spider. The naked “escape” from the bathroom still has me chuckling. As my mentor you are on a pedestal, but your humbleness and ability to laugh at yourself, then tell us about it, has me counting the days till July when we can share stories in person.
    On to eminence……

    Two Meanings

    “Look at all those eminences in the back yard.”
    “What are you talking about? Speak English.”
    “If you did crossword puzzles like I do, you would know I was referring to all the little mounds of dirt.”
    “Oh, yes. We have a mole problem.”
    “And if your furry, four legged friend lounging in the sun over there knew she was a cat instead acting like a feline eminence, she might go outside and kill the moles.”
    “She’s an indoor cat and I don’t think it’s funny that you used the same word with its other meaning.”
    “Glad you noticed.”

    • robertawrites235681907

      A clever post, Susan. How lovely that you can join Charli in July.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I’m happy you got a good chuckle, Sue. Oh, we’ll be doing lots of belly crunches with laughter. I’m fond of laughing! It’s going to be a great time in Vermont and you’ll find the only eminence will be the rolling hills. Great flash to play with the double meaning. Love crossword quip. Sounds like your quilting trip was fun!

  23. robertawrites235681907

    Haha, Charli, you story about the spider is so funny. I don’t overly love large spiders, they give me the creeps. We get rain spiders, they are not poisonous but are large and hairy.

    • Charli Mills

      Rain spiders? That has horrific potential in a story!

  24. Michael B. Fishman

    Spiders are cool but not so much so when they’re inside. I’m happy that Wolfric III made it outside and not into Mona’s tummy! And here’s hoping that Wolfric IV and onward all stay outside or in the basement. Here’s mine:

    • Charli Mills

      Michael, I’m pleased Mona doesn’t eat the Wolfric family, but I share your sentiment of hoping they stay in the basement. Thanks for your flash!

    • denmaniacs4

      I could almost Bogie and Lizabeth Scott having this conversation. Thanks for referencing a great noir.

      • denmaniacs4

        Oops…meant to say, I could almost “imagine” Bogie and Lizabeth Scott having this conversation…

  25. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    I’m late to this week’s post, Charli, but oh how worth it to read of your antics! I am laughing out loud at the images. I feel a bit unsettled that WIII was released in your house, however. I’m not sure I could sleep until I relocated it to the outside. Terrific photos of winter receding to make way for spring. Looks a lot like my back yard – without the lake. Not sure I’ll have a FF this week but I’ll see what my mind comes up with over the course of today. If not, I will enjoy all the other creations!

    • Charli Mills

      Well, that’s inspiring — to make the humorist laugh! Thanks, Molly! WIII went into hiding so we are all good. Bedroom is on the third floor so there is distance! I understand what your back yard must look like. Tonight, I went to a township meeting and a friend said, “The banks are getting smaller, hey.” That’s progress!

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        You are a humorist and didn’t know it. 😉 I’d still be worried about WIII hiding out in my house! But sounds like you’ve made peace with it. We had a snow storm yesterday and while I was annoyed by it my grandsons were making snowmen, teaching me to make the best of whatever happens. It was in the high 30’s and my older grandson was playing so hard he threw off his coat and hat – a true Mainer!

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! We’ve been having a few fits of snow. It refreshes the ugly heaps of gritted ice decay. Your grandson is in the right place!

  26. Allie P.

    I was packing up my tent from one of the multitude of camping trips we’d gone on since the boys started cub scouts only to nearly trip backwards over an exposed root due to the realization that more than the boys had shared the tent with me during the evening prior. A huge wolf spider stared back at me. I can only guess how equally frightened it was of me as it quickly disappeared into the folds of the fabric. I decided at that point, it was time for me to get some coffee. Always fun times.

    • Charli Mills

      That would be a startling discovery in the morning pre-coffee! Cub scouts can be interesting especially when you add boys and critters. Thanks for sharing your story, Allie!

  27. tnkerr

    This required a lot of thought and I almost gave up. It’s not a word I use on a day to day basis. The Spanish I used, roughly translates to:

    “Majestic and eminent, in his own right, he is well known along this coast.”

    • Charli Mills

      Cheers for not giving up! The Spanish adds a velvety dimension of language.

  28. Kerry E.B. Black

    Goodness, it would be fabulous to see you all. And how restful! I can almost imagine the healing breaths of retreat! Sigh. Alas, I’ll have to live vicariously, though. 🙂

    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    The assembled bowed near enough to the stone floor for their noses to touch as he passed. The gold trim of his robes reflected candlelight until it seemed alive. Frankincense wafted from the silks as though trapped by a thousand incense burners, and the fan of silver hair beneath his miter gave the illusion of a halo.

    “Rise.” His rings flashed as he motioned impatience.

    “Your Eminence?”

    The Pontiff removed his cap and ran a shaking hand through his thinning hair. “Of course, we’ve always been brothers and sisters in faith, but in these troubled days, we’re also equals.”

    • Charli Mills

      Kerry, I would travel the world to meet you all! Your comment about vicariously has me wondering if I could do something virtually, like a virtual writing refuge over a period of days. Now you have my squirrel wheels churning! Hmmm…the “what if” mosquitoes are biting!

      Your flash shows that humility can be a great unifier.

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        Please let me know how that what if solidifies!

      • Charli Mills

        I will!

  29. Charli Mills

    Welcome to Carrot Ranch!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Frank!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sarah!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  33. Charli Mills

    Catch the Weekly Roundup from Sally!

    Thanks for including the Ranch!

  34. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  35. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

  36. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!

  37. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!

  38. Charli Mills

    Good to see you, Deborah!

  39. Charli Mills

    A full week for you, Chelsea!


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