May 30: 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.

May 30, 2019

A chipmunk huddles in a hollow at the base of a stump. She hunkers down beneath dry maple leaves, quivering at my proximity. I ignore her. Go about my planting, aware she is inches from my left Keen. A massive black cauldron, likely a relic left over from copper mining, engulfs the circumference of stump. My daughter says it was a planter long before she bought this house in 2015. It’s hip-height and full of soil. Mullein and the bones of last year’s annuals remain. I’ve come to leave my mark with seedlings.

Beneath the flowering moon of May, I planted a bleeding heart at the corner of the house that was my daughter’s and might yet be mine. It’s an act of faith, gardening. Seeds may or may not germinate, but when they do, life breaks a crust of soil and becomes something. Every day, I water my Brussels sprouts still in eggshells, waiting for a garden. I’ve turned the dirt and wait for the Hub to help me with a few details before I can plant. The kids move this weekend, so I’m waiting. I ask the Hub if he’s excited about the Brussel sprouts, and he says he will be when we harvest. Not until they are on his plate.

That’s too long to wait. I’d lose hope if I didn’t enjoy planting and nourishing. I’d harden if I didn’t love something until it fulfilled its purpose. Yes, that means I’m often disappointed more than most. It’s painful. But the contrast feels real, feels like living. It’s risky business hoping for a home after the crashes we’ve had. I understand his protective stance, but I’m the planter as well as the hunter, going after the potential every day until it arrives.

As a planter, I’m an all-out plantser. Like a writer who crafts by the seat of their pants, I plant wild beneath the full moon and sow where I see potential. My daughter is a planner. She plots her gardens on grid papers and calculates the amount of sun and shade. Her spring garden blooms by design and she thins veg seedlings with measured exactness. I smile at the spreading raspberries, and she tells me, “Mom, you’ll need to weed those suckers mercilessly.” Kind of like the advice to writers — kill your darlings.

But like writing, I must first dream far and wide and get my hands dirty. I believe in writing to explore, to dig deep, to mulch and compost and feed and weed and plant and water and cultivate the story with bare fingers. My wide plantsing knows means errors. I’ll mistake the plant and the sun it needs. I’ll not like how something in the cauldron grows, or maybe it won’t like it. I’ll go soft-hearted and leave in too many seedlings, again. I’ll ignore the creeping raspberry runners,  I’ll plow the margins and plant in clumps.

For the two summers I’ve helped with my daughter’s gardens, I’ve abided by her plans. Tentatively, I’ve bought a few plants, grown the seeds I like. I’ve held onto hope that I might plant and plants. I’ve respected her boundaries, delighting in how different from me she is as a gardener. When I show her my blue cohosh, she asks, “Did you research it?” No, I bought the cutting.

So we are at the cauldron, pressing a myriad of seedlings into the pot along with my cohosh, a wise woman herb. We leave the mullein, and I transplant fleabane from the lawn. She raises an eyebrow. “It’s white,” I say.

The cauldron was her moon garden — all white flowers. We’ll wait and see what grows.

I’m not the only one in this garden who dreams big. I pat the soil gently, and the chipmunk decides she’s waited long enough. She darts over my shoe and dashes down the hole she’s burrowed in the strawberry patch. I know I’ll have to share because I’m not going to evict her. She’s not in the middle of the plants, and even if she burrowed elsewhere, she could still sneak in and steal bites of strawberries. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to let the raspberries ramble.

The chipmunk dreamed of a place with abundance and shelter. But the unexpected arises, too. My old lady dog still remembers chasing gophers in Idaho, and when I walk her past the strawberries, she catches a whiff and old ears perk like a puppy’s in excitement. Bobo doesn’t get around well, so I think the chipmunk will be safe. Maybe we have to be on the lookout for the bad that can happen but not to the exclusion of the flowers and possibilities. With hope, I add to my daughter’s spring garden — something that rambles — catmint. She’s a bit surprised and reminds me that it spreads.

Yes, I’m in a spreading mood. Feather by feather, I plan to unfurl my wings and fly home soon.


My friend Cynthia is holding a Homecoming Event to help the Hub, and I plant a new household. We have two lists on Amazon, one for household and one for the future Roberts Street Writerly. Part of the dream I’m planting here is two guest rooms that will be space for visiting writers. Just as we did in Elmira, we offer the rooms without charge and invite the writers to read in the community, privately or at public events. If you want to help us get home, you can find our Household list here and the Roberts Street Writerly list here.

Our new address is:

1112 Roberts Street
Hancock, MI 49930

We still have to close, so keep June 20th in your prayers and positive thoughts. We have contingency plans if the worst happens. I’m familiar with that, but I keep in mind that I have a community and choices. We landed in the right place and will continue to get care for the Hub and even get to NYC for brain scans. Those won’t alter any treatment or definitely diagnose, but it will help track what is going on with his brain and how it could help the next generation of soldiers. I’ll be writing more about CTE, subcussive impacts, and impacts of aging on the veteran’s altered brain over at Medium.

I’ve planned to use my literary art to build awareness for the veteran spouse experience and veteran isolation, which are themes in my WIP. Next, I’ll be workshopping Miracle of Ducks in an MFA program that begins August 12. On Wednesday, I received official notice that SNHU accepted my military benefits. As part of a VA system, that’s a huge hurdle to get over, and I’m so relieved! I have to pay enrollment on Monday, and hopefully, the VA will catch up with me on those payments.

Like a darting chipmunk, I’m going for it all. Strawberries and mint, the fruit and rambles are in sight. And it’s looking beautiful from here. Deep breath! Skitter, skitter, skitter…

May 30, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes strawberries and mint. The combination evokes color contrast, scents, and taste. Where will the combination take you? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 4, 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.


A Peek (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

A hardbound journal lay open on Ramona’s bed. Danni reached for it, and  paused, examining the pencil strokes. On one top corner, strawberry plants clustered with leaves, flowers and berries drawn in great detail. On the opposite bottom corner, mint vined in sweeping strokes. Danni smiled. Ramona liked to say, plant your mint across the garden from your strawberries. On the page, the two plants formed a continuous frame around two little girls with identical braids and short gingham dresses, holding hands. All she could see was their backs and the pond they faced. Were these the elusive twins?

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Aw, Boss! Scent o’ mint! Berry nice news, (MFA meets VA) and you will be a near neighbor to that chipmunk. It’s harvest time for you, you’ve had seeds and cuttings sown for a long time now. Enjoy the fruits of your many labors.

    • Charli Mills

      Almost there! Close enough to smell the mint and feel the breeze of the passing neighbor. Thanks, D.

  2. robertawrites235681907

    A lovely post, Charli. I’ll pop over and view your lists. I can’t comment on gardening as that is the domain of my parents and I am happy to leave it like that. I just supply the plants.

    • robertawrites235681907

      Hi Charli, Amazon wants a phone number. Is it Canada or the USA, sorry, I am not sure. You can send these details via email.

    • Charli Mills

      Supplying the plants is a way to garden at a distance, Robbie. You make cakes as beautiful as gardens. It’s the US, although I could through a rock and hit the Canadian border! I did email, you but don’t go through the hassle if Amazon is being difficult. Thank you for thinking about it! If you want to visit the Keweenaw, we will have a spot for you to stay, pending June 20.

  3. Prior...

    Congrats on the new house and I will keep it in prayer for all to go well with the closing –

    I liked your 99 word fiction and after reading about the cauldron, the okchipmunk, and current news – the 99 words felt like moving into the quietest or calms – I paused with Danni and could imagine the Dresses – the pond – and of course the mint and strawberries.
    And side note – my spouse has his first raised bed this year- he crammed it with some of the wrong things – watermelon plant next to raspberry bush – and tomatoes too close – kind of like someone does not realize little lab puppies grow to be huge dogs – his mentor helped him and I did a little –
    But I found myself having to back off – to let him “discover” and learn. What you write reminded me of that – sometimes it is about “getting the hands dirty” and digging – exploring – doing – ahhhh

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for your prayers, Evette. I appreciate your close reading, and how it brought meaning to you. I understand those planting mistakes, and yet gardens can thrive despite them. Your comparison to little lab puppies is spot on and now, I’m going to look at my seedlings and think of them as romping pups that need space to grow! Keep exploring!

      • Prior...

        Thanks for the reply – and earlier I started a draft for my 99 word fiction for mint and strawberries

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joanne!

    • Charli Mills

      Gardening and nature are magic, Ruchira! It’s fun to be a part of it. Thank you for your wishes and for coming to my housewarming. Everything is progressing and we are hopeful. Great flash!

    • Liz H


      • Ritu

        Isn’t it just!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, my — I know know what I’ll be having after a day in the gardens! If gardening is therapeutic, Pimms is the perfect tonic. Cheers!

      • Ritu

        Cheers ???? Charli!

  4. Jennie

    Wonderful post, Charli!

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      Haha! Did not see that coming.

      • Jennie


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jennie!

      • Jennie

        You’re welcome, Charli!

    • susansleggs

      Love the twist at the end.

      • Reena Saxena

        Thanks ?

    • Liz H

      😮 Cocktails with a twist!

      • Reena Saxena

        Thanks 🙂

    • Jules

      oooh… nice ending there.

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you, Jules!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

  5. H.R.R. Gorman

    Ah, what a refreshing tale! It’s been ages since I gardened. Now I sit in my air-conditioned house, enjoying the indoors with my easily-overheated-fluffball of a dog. Perhaps one day I’ll plant some of the heirloom beans typical of where I grew up. If you have never tried a variety called ‘Pink Tips,’ those are fantastic grean-bean type beans.

    Anyway, here’s my story. A little weird this week!

    ***Strawberry Mint Lemonade***

    Jack sidled up to the bar where a single woman sipped her drink. The shimmering lights of the disco ball moved over his face as he waved down a bartender. “Whiskey.” The bartender slid the glass over.

    She bit her straw seductively.

    “What’s your name?”

    “Strawberry.” Her voice had a strange accent. “Strawberry Mint Lemonade. Good to meet you, Whiskey.”

    He chuckled. “My name’s Jack – whiskey’s what I’m drinking.”

    The beautiful woman tilted her head further than natural. “Is not saying of humans, ‘You are what you eat’?” She grabbed him by the wrist. “What does ‘Jack’ taste like?”

    • Susan Zutautas

      Eww, I loved it!

    • susansleggs

      At least she didn’t grab him by the throat, maybe he has a chance.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Maybe he’ll say, “Pretty bad, you might rather try something else!”

    • Charli Mills

      H.R.R. I’ll keep an eye out for Pink Tips. Heirloom varieties enliven a garden and carry stories. I’ll stick to tasting stuff out of the garden. Not at all curious as to what Jack Tastes like, ha! Weird, but a fun twist.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Pink tips are just excellent! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Have they been around a long time? I usually grow scarlet runners for ornamentals and pink pintos for eating. This year, just peas on earth!

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        I think they’re old. The Appalachians have a lot of heirloom beans I’ve kept, and pink tips are some of the most popular heirloom bean. Cut shorts, greasy beans, and Jacob’s Cattle are also heirloom varieties I’ve done.

      • Charli Mills

        They may find their way to Rock Creek in a story one day.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Looking forward to it!

  6. Liz H

    Sometimes all you can do is plant a seed, and hope that it grows to its full beauty without too much interference. And then there are the chipmunks…and the Japanese beetles. But we try and we pray, anyhow…

    After a family-intensive week of worry about a parent, I nipped off to the garden store yesterday and picked out a few flowering beauties to brighten the edges of my yard. Fingers crossed that they survive the continuing challenges of the late-start summer. There’s a little heaven there…

    • Charli Mills

      The chipmunk discovered the new bird feeder and he might have nibbled a few emerging squashes. We find beauty yet in the interferences. I hope the flowers you planted following a week of worry, buoy your spirits no matter what next. Fingers crossed for their survival. And I hope family is doing better, Liz.

  7. denmaniacs4

    A beautiful post, Charli. Lst night, as I contemplated this flash, I channel hopped between two worlds…the NBA final and the Scripps Spelling Bee. The Spelling Bee was a marvel with 8 kids tying for first place. I had to use at least one of the magnificent words mastered by these frighteningly amazing kids. Hence, “jacqueminot”.

    Lady of the House

    She was an elegant woman. Even a scruffy twelve-year-old paperboy could see that.

    Her mansion, my only mansion, was crawling with ivy.

    The lot, pared down by time, by intrusion, rested on a busy corner.

    A harried highway.

    Usually, my monthly collection, and generous tip, was left in an envelope by the door.

    This late summer day, she was there, inviting me in, through to a small, inner rose-infused courtyard.

    “Jacqueminot roses,” she said, “A fading passion.”

    She smelled of peppermint gum and blossoms.

    “I so love strawberries with my tea. Don’t you?”

    Decades later, I’m still not sure.

    • Charli Mills

      What a stunning image your channel hopping led you to, Bill. How out of touch the lady of the mansion seems by her lingering wealth in a lower socio-economic neighborhood growing around her mansion, yet longing to connect. Great sensual imagery.

  8. pensitivity101

    Mix and Match from me Charli
    ‘This diet is so BORING! Fruit and salads are so dull!’
    ‘Have you thought about mixing and matching?’
    ‘It’s all right for you, you’re already skinny.’
    ‘I had to work at it though. Have you tried adding a chopped apple to your prawn salad?’
    ‘No. Is it nice?’
    ‘Well I like it, and it adds a tangy bite to the lettuce.’
    ‘OK. What else?’
    ‘How’s about including cucumber in your stir fries?’
    ‘I could try that I suppose with mushrooms and sliced carrots.’
    ‘Cereal and yoghurt?’
    ‘Duh. Double boring.’
    ‘Maybe, but add some strawberries and a sprig of mint………..’

    • Susan Zutautas

      I keep forgetting to try cucumber in my stir fry. Will have to try and remember this for next time.

    • Charli Mills

      Adding a zing to mixing and matching foods to get in more of the good stuff. I liked, this Di and can I trust your 99-words to give cucumbers in a stir fry a go? 🙂

      • pensitivity101

        Yes Charli, I did batons but I can’t see why circles wouldn’t work as they are like courgettes, and the mint with the strawberries (nicer chopped rather than whole, although it looks pretty for decoration, I posted a pic on my diet pictures page this week)

      • Charli Mills

        Beautiful! Tasty! Healthy!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Michael!

    • Liz H

      Our salad days, when we were young and green. You made me laugh!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Leanne!

  9. floridaborne

    Exciting news, buying a house. Wishing you well and hope it goes through without a glitch

    • Charli Mills

      The transformation is tiring at the moment, but happening, so that’s good. Thanks, Joelle.

  10. tnkerr

    The prompt brings to mind England in July, strawberries and cream, maybe Wimbledon? No, too obvious. Henley Royal Regatta would be perfect. Pimms? Don’t overreach, TN.
    England awakens thoughts of Shakespeare and his violent tragedy “Titus Andronicus” so the heroine must be Lavinia
    Shakespeare evokes verse but I couldn’t pen a sonnet so you’re stuck with this tripe…

    • Susan Zutautas

      I loved this piece. Not tripe at all 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Titus Andronicus is among my favorites of the Bard. No sonnet necessary. Thanks, TN!

      • tnkerr

        If my memory serves, Titus Andronicus was not well received initially. It took a while.

      • Charli Mills

        No, he wasn’t. But not a happy ending, either!

  11. Jules

    Dear Charli,

    I enjoyed reading about Ramona’s illustrations… but the ending is a cliffhanger! Thinking so many positive thoughts for you and yours! Hope the ‘kids’ aren’t moving too far. I’ve got a small square foot above ground garden where hail and heavy rain knock off some zucchini flowers… but they are hardy plants.

    I still have to catch up reading from last week. I might go to the compilation page… I’ve got a reverse haibun mash up this week and if you go to my post you’ll be able to link to the other inspired prompts. Please enjoy:

    Opportunity Knocked

    misadventure makes
    memories as well as plans;
    pipers played minuets

    The carriage returning the ladies from an afternoon picnic where they had feasted upon wild strawberries and mint tea. T’was embellished that tea. The ladies were feeling no pain. So while through the purple moors they road home by moonlight ignoring the tempest of threats that the Highwayman might strike were ignored. Their driver well thought the ladies welcomed trouble.

    “The tread of time is so ruthless that it tramples even the kings under its feet.” Claude spoke to his troupe, when he heard rambling wheels, “Time to dance!”


    Note this is a 99 word reverse haibun inspired by three different prompts (four if you count that two were at one prompt).

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! Not far — they moved to “Boston.” Not big Boston in MA, but near-ghost town Boston outside of Hancock about 6 miles. They have woods and trails and orchards and huge swaths for garden space. A place to plan and grow. I have a keyhole garden I call my Three Weird Sisters. A Three Sisters garden is corn, beans, and squash. Mine is potatoes, peas, and patty-pans. Yes, those zukes are hardy!

      Love the “welcomed trouble” of your flash.

  12. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Seeing Red

    “Kid! Yer outta yer tree.”
    “Yep, Pal, I figger the Ranch is at a safe elevation.”
    “The Ranch is safe alright Kid. Not gonna set up in yer Poet tree and mint more buckaroo-ku?”
    “Figger ya might need me. What’s her name is claimin’ ta be too busy, might not be around fer the roundup.”
    “Kid! Ya done used my old red flannel shirt ta mend yer torn britches. Ya look like a baboon.”
    “I like the color, like ripe strawberries. It’s a strawberry patch!”
    “Kid, what’s the real reason ya clumb down?”
    “Hopin’ Shorty’s gonna make strawberry shortcake.”

    • Charli Mills

      A strawberry patch! Oh, yes, strawberry shortcake sounds delightful. Good call to come down from the poet-tree. Hope Kid’s handler is getting through the busy season.

    • Charli Mills

      And thank you, Bladud!

    • Charli Mills

      I love that you looked it up, Susan! And you are welcome to come visit any time now that you know where it is. I just got our bedroom set up, patchwork for now. And the Rodeo Room has a bed. Just a bed for now. It will all grow in time and fulfill the vision I have. It is a beautiful old mining house with lots of character. I’m a cleaning fiend, now and soon a painter! Thanks for your strawberry delight!

      • Susan Zutautas

        I’m so happy for you and Todd. I love older homes and all the character they hold. I hope to take you up on the invitation as I’d love to meet you and yours and it’s only a ten hour drive away 🙂 <3

  13. Norah

    I very much enjoyed your hopeful post, Charli, and wish you all the best with your new home. Fingers crossed the VA helps you across this final hurdle to home. I think you’ve landed in a wonderful spot.
    I enjoyed hearing about how differently you and your daughter garden and the respect you have for each other’s ways. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we, as parents, have contributed to what our children become but that they are far more than clones or indeed of anything we could have hoped or foreseen. It must be good to know that your daughter will still be close by and that you are part of the same community though contributing in different and unique ways – not unlike the combination of strawberries and mint.
    The little chipmunk will be pleased to have you as a permanent neighbour and I look forward to finding out how your garden grows. I tend to like things a little on the wild side too.
    Your analogy of gardening with writing is also a good one. A weed is only a plant that is growing where it is unwanted. More-gardening-minded friends would often tell me that certain plants were weeds, but I liked them. They grew without assistance and bloomed beautifully. What’s to not love? It’s hard to ‘kill your darlings’ when they bring you joy.
    Fingers (and everything else) crossed for 20 June!

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my story Grandma’s Garden. Here is the link
      But before I post my story here, I want to comment on your flash. I missed reading it when I read your post. I think that sometimes happens because it comes after the submission form and I scroll over it, unintentionally, to leave a comment.
      Ramona’s journal sounds beautiful with its borders of strawberries and mint. Maybe it will lead to a revelation. But what of these elusive twins? Have we heard of them before? I don’t remember them. Their memories elude me too. Anyway, it’s a beautiful scene with hints of secrets soon to be revealed.
      My story:

      Grandma’s Garden

      Jess blew kisses to Mum, then raced Grandma into the garden. She pulled on her boots and gloves and readied her digging fork. Emulating Grandma, she soaked up explanations of magic combinations that helped plants grow. At the strawberry patch, they filled baskets with ripe red berries. On the way inside, Grandma clipped sprigs of mint.
      They dipped strawberries in chocolate and garnished them with mint.
      “For Jess?”
      “For Mum.
      “Just —”
      Jess inspected the chocolate bowl. “All gone.”
      “Stawbwee?” said Jess, pointing to the remaining few.
      “For Jess,” smiled Grandma.
      Jess munched strawberries and Grandma chewed mint.

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for reading my flash, Norah. When this character of Ramona first came to me, she was accompanied by two mischevious twins, or fairies. When I had the revelation to make her Ike’s grandmother, the whole twin story spilled out and I’m working on weaving it in. It is a bit of a mystery. Are they just drawings, figments of Ramona’s imagination? Or something more, something buried?

        Love your flash! Such a sweet interaction between a grandmother and her toddling little one. Of course, Grandma would eat the mint and let Jess have the remaining “strawbees.”

      • Norah

        I look forward to learning more of the twins as their mystery unfolds, Charli.
        I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. Yeah, she’s a nice Grandma – so many are. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I’m sure you know all about being a nice Grandma! ????

      • Norah

        I’m learning. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      You are right, Norah, our children are so much more than our clones, and it wonderful to come to know who they are. My daughter is not far out of town — six miles. They have so much space to plan gardens. I’m rambling outside, cleaning inside, getting ready. Now the chipmunk has discovered the birdfeeder. And I discovered the “weed” in the strawberries is sorrel, which one of the friends noticed on the big moving day (Sunday). I picked it and included it in sandwiches for lunch. It has a bright, lemony taste. I might experiment and make something out of it like a tea. I even like the weeds here! Keep those fingers crossed! Thank you!

      • Norah

        Six miles is not far, and I guess they’ll come into town to work so you’ll still see them frequently. The house, your house, sounds amazing. I have my fingers crossed.
        I had a thought when you said that you even like the weeds there. Perhaps that makes them not weeds after all. One definition I’ve heard for weeds is something growing where its not wanted. I wondered if that applies to people too. So many of us feel out of place, as if we don’t belong. Does that make us weeds too? Perhaps when we go beyond we have been picked by someone like you who sees our value. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ah, yes, that’s a deep insight — thinking of people as weeds, not wanted where they are planted or spreading. That breaks my heart even more for immigrants and refugees. They are attempting to transplant to better soil but the nation gardens have rigid borders and different ideas of what is worthy and what can be discarded.

        My SIL just popped in to grab a tool, which he still has in the basement until he’s through with the siding project on the house. And I’m picking up my daughter from work to join her on her final recording session for her water podcast with the Keweenaw Bay Tribe. So I get to see them.

      • Norah

        Let’s appreciate each ‘weed’ for its unique value and contribution.
        I’m pleased you get to see them. I hope your bed arrived and is suitable and that you have some other pieces of furniture by now.

  14. Ann Edall-Robson

    Perennial Memories
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Occasionally the ranch hands were asked to help thin perennials around the edge of the garden. The greenhorn had been sent, and stood smiling beside the compost heap.

    “Heard you needed help. Thought I’d get to it.”

    Standing at the gate to her dynasty, Mrs. Johnson’s mind staggered. All of her precious mint and wild strawberry plants were gone.

    His smile quickly faded to an ‘oh shit’ look of terror on seeing Hanna striding towards him, and Mrs. Johnson had disappeared.

    “Do you have any idea what you did here?”

    “Pulled weeds. What’s the big deal? They’ll grow back!”

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, noooo! He has no idea what a big greenhorn mistake he’s made. Poor Mrs. Johnson! Love how this story is growing (although the strawberries aren’t).

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Nope, he sure doesn’t.

    • Charli Mills

      Go for it, Allison! It’s lovely to be an accidental gardener!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Deborah. Keep sending those good thoughts. The final hump out of homelessness is a hard one to crawl over — all those years of “no address,” trying to update IDs, secure financing, get the power turned on when we haven’t had an account in our names in three years — all those things count against a person making the hole hard to get out of. I’m in limbo, hoping, looking up. But feeling overwhelmed, too. I hope someday your Jane is free and clear of the pit and haunts, too.

  15. Liz H

    Nothing tastes as sweet as success, and drawing on one’s own experience:

    Love Game

    Heather clicked the radio buttons, desperate for a station that didn’t play classic rock. She snuck a shocked glance at Mom, behind the wheel, as MGMT’s “Little Dark Age” floated from the speakers.
    Mom said nothing, minuscule smile quirking her lips. One point, Mom.
    Heather grunted. “Look, I’m going on this lame hike because you’re taking me shopping after.”
    “So happy to have your company,” Mom remembered her sparring teen years.
    “What’s this?” Heather opened the tin of strawberry breath mints. “Disgusting!”
    Mom shrugged.
    Heather tossed one in her mouth. “S’good,” she mumbled to the window.
    Game, set, match!

    • Charli Mills

      Mom knows how to play the game for the long-term goal. S’good, Liz!

  16. susansleggs


    In New York state, a closing date is always a guess, often delayed for one piece of paperwork or another. Here’s hoping in Michigan, the date is the date and all goes according to plan. I know you will sigh in relief when it is final. I love your garden explanation. I love the flowers, but not the upkeep so what grows, grows and I enjoy the neighbors as I drive by. I do water my window boxes on a schedule. Strawberries reminded me of my mother and the shortcake she used to make. ……..on to the prompt:

    Stream of Conscious

    This will probably be the last year I come to pick strawberries. It isn’t the same doing it alone. I remember the fun we had when I brought my kids here and then their children. Now, no one is interested in coming along. I wonder if I would hear about it if I didn’t make preserves for each of them anymore. Good thing I still have my mint bed, they do show up the day before they have a party to raid that so they have fresh mint for making mojitoes. Maybe I could make mint jelly next year.

    • Charli Mills

      The idea is to close on the 20th and so far all the paperwork is in with the exception of the appraisal. That has us all on pins and needles. My son started a large project on the house last summer and is almost finished. I’m waiting for the sigh of relief. Mmm, strawberry shortcake season is almost here! I like mine with angel food cake.

      Great stream of consciousness that feels like the flowing thoughts a berry picker might have. Ha! Mint jelly might cut down on the mojitos!

  17. Pete

    Double Play

    Billie sat back, her jaw working the gum. A shortstop with a pitcher’s gleam in her eyes, she blew a bubble, sucked it back in. “The entire team signed this hat, Darryl Strawberry, Len Dysktra, Dwight Gooden, so…” She shrugged. “Take it or leave it.”

    I leaned closer. “Why do all the signatures look the same?”

    Pop went the bubble. Billie stood. “You know what….”

    “Wait.” A lasting glance at the mint condition Ken Griffey Junior rookie card. But that hat, the signatures. I took a breath. “Deal.”

    Billie swiped the card. “No take backs.”

    Then she was gone.

    • Charli Mills

      Nice one, Pete! Love the characterization of Billie.

  18. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Lunar See

    “Why’d ya git us out here, Shorty? It’s mighty dark.”
    “I know; it’s the new moon.”
    “Where? I cain’t see it. But the stars sure are sparkly.”
    “Yep, stars are shinin’ bright ‘cause the moon’s outta sight. Ever’thin’s in alignment.”
    “That sounds good, Boss.”
    “It is good, Kid. New moon, new beginnings.”
    “Ain’t you got enough started?”
    “It’s all comin’ ta fruition. Think that’s why the next alignment’s the Strawberry Moon. Now help me pick mint.”
    “Hmmff. Pickin’ mint in the dark a the new moon?”
    “Yep. Mint’s fer hospitality. Gonna have a home, Kid, where all are welcome.”

    • Liz H

      Nice!! <3

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a lunar see you get to see for yourself! All are welcome. Ah– that’s right, we are coming up on the Strawberry Moon.

  19. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    I think my gardening style must be partway between yours and your daughter’s. I’m in charge of the vegetables and have ten raised beds and move the various crops around on a four-year rotation. I use a chart to keep track of everything. Perhaps that sounds more like your daughter? Well, I rarely go back to the chart, haven’t given a thought to how different crops require different conditions – although I am careful not to shade my low-growing lettuces with my climbing beans – and I’m happy for flowers to self-seed among the veg. Although I draw the line at letting mint run free, but have a small patch for my tea next to a fence. At the moment, the majority of the plot is a riot of purple phacelia – which I planted and will use for compost when the bees have done with it – foxgloves, marigolds, and poached egg plants. Although I cleared a little this morning getting brassicas and other stuff in the ground ready for the rain that was forecast. And it’s here! Hurrah!

    So your daughter’s having to leave home all over again? I hope the move works out for you all. I had a quick browse through your lists, smiling especially at the unicorns! I’d love to buy you something, and will have another look at what feels right, but does it work from overseas? When I go to the site it tells me whether the item is available for shipping to the UK. I need some reassurance that the gift would go to you, not me.

    After all that, almost forgot to add my flash, which seems to be about sex again:

    • Liz H

      Sharp and true…when strawberries and mint signal a red flag raised, but we go forward anyhow… 😉

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Still a chance it’ll work out for them, all relationships require some kind of compromise.

      • Liz H

        Yep. The best seem to inspire a change in taste…

    • Charli Mills

      The charts are definitely like my daughter, Anne! I do practice crop rotation with the veg, but ah, you mentioned a mistake I almost made. I was planting lettuce in front of my climbing lemon cucumbers. I’m going to check the sun and shade tomorrow (maybe planning does rub off some). I checked on the bleeding heart I planted and it has burst to life. I have so many brassicas! I may have to find creative places to plant as they won’t all fit in the veg garden.

      I’m glad you like the unicorn theme! That is what one of the rooms will look like. The lists help me visualize, and I’m looking or possibly making (stay tuned, it will be earth-shattering news if I actually do something crafty) for items in thrift shops and at garage sales. I think the overseas ordering can get complicated with Amazon. You can set up my address for delivery if you do that but it’s not necessary. It’s enough for me to know that you noticed the unicorns!

      Sorry that I’m late getting to your post. It’s been quite a week with so much activity and the big transition. Yes, we joke about the kids having to leave home again. But the fact that they gave us space and time to get the Hub stabilized within the VA system, and we are all on talking terms, is a testament to their patience and character.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        We have rain here now so the slugs are at the plants – if that’s a risk for you I’d hang on to your spares! I’ll get back onto Amazon once your ownership is confirmed. I appreciate the opportunity to support the new venture. And yes, hats off to all of you that you’ve combined two households at a stressful time without falling out.

  20. Natives and the Cave blog

    Congrats on the new house and I will keep it in prayer for all to go well with the closing –
    –Neat step in life.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you! I appreciate your prayers!

  21. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  22. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Yvette!

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kelly!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Shane!

  25. Charli Mills

    Great roundup, Sally!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!


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