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Saddle Up Saloon; Nix Fix

Saddle Up Saloon

“Howdy, Pal. Take care a yer hoss then set a spell.”

“Kid! Yer s’posed ta be gittin’ the Saloon ready! What’re ya doin’ jist settin’ there a’whittlin’?”

“Whoa! Ya kin stop yer yellin’ at me Pal. It ain’t what it looks like.”

“Looks ta me like yer settin’ on yer ass jist a’whittlin’ when yer s’posed ta be gittin’ the Saloon ready fer thet quiller. She’s gonna have a re-tirin’ shindig fer D. Avery.”

“Looks kin be receivin’, Pal. I ain’t jist settin’ on my ass. Ma cell phone’s in ma back pocket. Got it set ta vibration.”

“What? Why?”

“A cell phone, Pal. Got it muted so we kin still hear the crickets. An’ if yer really astute you’ll see that first bit’s 99 words and has this week’s Carrot Ranch prompt word in it. Got the phone handy ‘cause I’m givin’ that so-called writer a ours a bit more time ta change her mind. But so far she says she ain’t comin’ by. Ain’t gonna be no shindig.”

“Reckon ya should text the quiller an’ offer ta refund her deposit.”

“There weren’t no deposit. Nobody aroun’ here has ta PAY, PAL. Though they could.”

“Huh. So if thet re-tirin’ shindig ain’t happenin’ we ain’t got nuthin’ goin’ on here this week. We ain’t got no ennertainment or nuthin’ lined up fer the saloon. Dang thet D. Avery! Why ain’t she comin’ by?”

“Says she cain’t be hangin’ ‘roun a saloon on a school night, still has two more days a school.”

“Ridin’ thet one right through ta the buzzer, ain’t she?”

“Yeh, mebbe that’s it.”

“Yer face is all scrunched up Kid. Is it thet phone goin’ off in yer pocket, or are ya thinkin’?”

“I’m thinkin’ on why she won’t let the quiller throw her a party.”

“Mebbe we should git Doc Ranger ta come by.”

“Should Doc Ranger anal-eyes the matter she’ll only figger out what I already been tellin’ ya— D. Avery’s a pain in the ass.”

“The Ranger’s got degrees an’ sech fer this kinda ponderin’.”

“Thinkin’ the only two degrees relevant here are 0 and 360. They both point north.”

“Seems like thet’s goin’ full circle. If thet’s whut D. Avery’s doin’, why not celebrate?”

“Thinkin’ she’s a chicken, is what.”

“Ya might be onta somethin’ there, Kid. She wrote the book on chickens. Reckon she’s finally found the pluck ta cross the road hersef, see whut’s on the other side. Mebbe it’s jist her time. Check this out:


When comes the time, a road’s the place

The destiny some hens embrace

Chickens rise and leave the nest

To make their dreams manifest.

Their sojourn can’t end unless it begins

So they head out to look within

Pilgrims of regenerate faith

These chickens cross, they go with grace

They cross a road they pass that test

Continue on their illimitable quest

Till comes the time when they stop, content

They know themselves and where they went.


“D. Avery wrote that? And published it? And gave up her day job? Yikes. With a plan like that, no wonder she ain’t inta celebratin’. Sure hope her students kin do better math an’ her. Sayin’. Here’s a thought that might cause some dissension; maybe she’s crossing without any intention, maybe just wandering, not paying attention; maybe road crossing hens aren’t worth any mention.

“Yer bein’ kinda harsh, Kid. Leavin’ a career’s a big deal.”

“She’s kinda harsh, Pal. Listen ta this:


For all you who have wondered why’d

the chicken cross— here’s the scoop:

it’s not about the other side;

she just couldn’t abide the coop.


She’s leavin’ friens an’ kids behind in that coop, Pal, quittin’ on ‘em.”

“Thet’s enough, Kid. Mebbe she’s modelin’ somethin’ good fer folks, ta take a risk an’ take car a yersef. Reckon they’s all happy fer her. Look, here’s Will, a colleague a hers:



“Huh. Seems like our so-called writer knows shift. Kinda remin’s me a someone…”

“Here’s another colleague a hers:


My mentor has been a mentor a time or two.

She says ‘it’s been a wild ride, and I end with you’.

Who knew I could fly up to the sky?

She did, from the start.

My mentor taught me many lessons of how to be

the type of teacher who was thoughtful like she.


Applied mathematics.

Who would build benches, fences & trust.

Who would do what is right & do what is just.

My mentor reminded me to work & to play

life was short she always did say.

When it came to emails she’s taught me less is more.

The words were important but must come from the core.

My mentor was a chicken & I her squid.

Dede, thank you for everything.

Love Always, the Kid


“The kid?”

“Relax, Kid, it’s a different kid, aka the Cisco Kid, aka, Squid. She’d been a fourth grade writin’ student a D. Avery’s, then ended up bein’ a math teacher with her.”

“Well, yer right, Pal, there don’t seem ta be no hard feelin’s.”

“But there are feelin’s. We’ll leave her be, let her git through the final school days with her kids.”

“But Pal, what about the folks that come by the saloon? We still ain’t got nuthin’ lined up.”

“Let’s jist ask folks thet might come by ta reflect, mebbe in 99- or 59-words a prose or poetry tell ‘bout a time they made a big change fer themselves. Could be a made up story even; kinda hard ta tell the dif’rence ‘roun here anyway.”


“So if folks come by lookin’ ta relax an’ sech, we hand ‘em an extra prompt? ‘Cause our so-called writer nixed a shindig here at the saloon? Hmmph. Told ya that D. Avery’s a pain in the ass.”

“Yep. But she’s our pain in the ass. Write on, D.”




If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up for a wild ride as a saloon guest, contact them via


  1. Having home schooled for the past three months, my respect for teachers has gone up a few more notches, Miss D. Retiring to write sounds pretty awesome. Have a wonderful new week.

    • It’s more of an un-tiring than a re-tiring. The word retire doesn’t fit well, it’s stiff and uncomfortable, but maybe I just need to break it in. Thank you Robbie, you have a good week too.

  2. Charli Mills says:

    Some Day (99 words)
    I remember that night you picked me up at the airport and it took you three days to figure out it wasn’t a scam, this writer’s life. You wanted to be a believer in good things across the road like safe schools and loving loon parents. Skepticism balances you in a kayak on a lake. Otherwise, you might be too giddy for a rooted New Englander. Nonetheless, you shield the six of those you find in the road like a hen herding lost turtles. Not so bad, this writer’s life. It’s a wandering, wondering active stillness. Time to be.

    • I remember that Charli Mills packs light. One small bag with nothing but a notebooks and pens and a few jars of snake oil. But it was good. Tasted like kool-aid. (a person can survive for years on snake oil kool-aid, right?)

  3. Charli Mills says:

    Hey, Kid and Pal. Shorty says the Ranch is a better place for the likes of you characters. Kinda knew that PIA D. Avery was gonna be sumptin’ speacial. She’ll be missed in schooling circle but she’ll keep on mentoring. A natural, that one. Cut her some slack, let her get through these endings and beginnings.

  4. Norah says:

    She’s no chicken when it comes to crossing the road, our D. From the moment she hit the Ranch, she’s been scratching around the barnyard, barking up the poet tree, whittling words that make us laugh or think philosophically. Her words are kind and generous. She’s not afraid to share. I know she can achieve whatever she will dare. While her classroom days are numbered, I know that through and through, her teacher’s heart will always beat with lessons that are true, through characters that breathe her wisdom through their words, no matter how superficially they might appear absurd.

    I wish you all you are hoping for and more, D. You are an amazing friend. I’m so glad you popped by the Ranch and decided to stay. It’s been a delight to get to know the band of friends you brought along. Here’s to many more happy days ranching and writing.

    • This is very kind and generous Norah. I have been lucky. At my school and at the Ranch I have had excellent role models and people that I could respect and emulate. But as you know, there are some rotten eggs in Education (or should I say with Schooling) Another quote from the good book of crossings, Chicken Shift: and the answer to the question/ as to what she was going towards/ isn’t so much that, as that she left what she abhorred.

  5. 59 words

    The egg had served its purpose. It could no longer contain what it had nurtured and protected. She bore herself without, to save herself from drowning, rested briefly beside the wrecked vessel. Once dry she would stand up on newly discovered legs, would walk the terra firma, would run, would jump. She would stretch newly discovered wings, would fly.

  6. Jules says:

    For D. Avery

    I’m thinking D. and me arrived at the ranch
    close to about the same time…
    (several years now)
    And we helped each other git along…

    I got to meet D. at the first ever
    Carrot Ranch retreat. D’s Sort a quiet,
    yet encouraging; even said she learned
    a thing or two from me…

    Lent me her ear to listen
    and a kayak to paddle –
    let me reconfigure her hi-cubes,
    and gave me a honorary title too ~

    I’ve been re-lifing (not retired as tired)
    a while now, hope D gets re-lifing too.
    So D. Live! That’s my wish for you!

    ~With respect and admiration,
    The Poet Lariat

    (That’s life – lifing – living!)

  7. susansleggs says:

    99 Words

    When I met Dede in person, she was the hen showing new chicks where to gather, introducing them to neighbors and family, sharing books, recipes, beer, and “things meant to stay at camp.” She took us on a hike up the stream and for a ride in the country, bear included; fed us fresh bread and beans. We communed and flourished.
    These characters she writes have become friends too. They make the Ranch and Saloon a friendly place to commune and flourish further. I’m thinking they’ll be able to keep Dede occupied now her day job’s done.

    P.S. I’m happy Pal and Kid opened the Saloon. They give me the opportunity to practice more spontaneous writing. It’s a fun place to play and be seen.

    • Thank you, Susan. My re-lifement was supposed to begin with another Carrot Ranch Writers Refuge but that is not to be this year.
      I am so glad you are enjoying the Saloon!

  8. Is that furniture starting from wood? Goodness, that’s so much harder than it looks! Well done!

    • That photo? My math classroom sometimes morphed into a wood shop. These boys wanted to build a bookshelf for the reading teacher. You should see the benches and hinged boxes and shelves some of the girls built. They never imagined they couldn’t but they also planned and plotted and measured twice before cutting. All I did was provide the em-power tools.

  9. Wow! Big changes! But my first thought was ‘Oh no, she’s retiring from the Ranch!’ Glad you’re not, you’d be missed as I’m sure you will at school.

    Do you know that the Spanish for retired is jubilado/jubilada (gendered adjectives — yuck!). I think that should suit you. You’ve served your time, now it’s your time. Enjoy!

    Shame not to be able to have a live party, though.

    • I have stealthily been avoiding any large gathering in my name. So far so good. I’m still resting beside the cracked spent shell. Maybe when I actually take a few steps or a successful flight I’ll feel like celebrating. For now I am enjoying… well, you know that feeling hiking when you take the heavy back pack off and feel like you’re floating for a bit?
      (Um… what kind of retirement plan does the Ranch offer? Maybe retiring is my next career…)

      • Not even a book launch?

        But, yes, I know that feeling, and the luxury of not having to go to work.

        I think the Ranch is kind of Hotel California – we can check out but never leave completely, but then why would we want to?

      • To be clear, I don’t mind work. Just the bs aspects; meetings, reports, schedule keeping, inept adults. The Ranch has been my safe haven as I came to terms with the fact that I no longer identify as Mrs. Avery.
        I reckon I’ll always enjoy being around the Ranch. And having a saloon just down the road…. western dream come true.

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