Saddle Up Saloon; Interviewin’ the Interviewer

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

August 3, 2020

Saddle Up Saloon

“Howdy. Welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon. I’m Pal, this here’s Kid.”

“Howdy yourselves. I’m Marsha Ingrao.”

“Thet name soun’s familiar. Ya from aroun’ here?”

“If by ‘around here’ you mean the Blogosphere, yes, I’ve been blogging and writing since 2012 on my personal blog, Marsha’s Streaming Thoughts. I renamed it several times, so now it’s Always Write to keep the brand of my closed self-hosted blog. But right now I’m so excited about the new series of interviews I’m hosting with bloggers who host writing and photo challenges. Charli Mills and I had a super invigorating conversation during her interview. It’s turning my personal blogging life around! I am totally jazzed about the future of collaborative blogging.”

“Soun’s as if ya mighta had a backlog a blogs.”

“Yep, those’ll dog ya. So ya thinned the herd. Now’re ya some sorta pro-fessional?”

“I’ve never been a professional blogger or social media consultant, Pal. Always Write has resources for hobby bloggers. However, in my world of non-bloggers, my non-profit friends turned to me to help them create websites and handle social media. You can check out That’s mine. I maintain Facebook Pages for a number of groups including one for my own brand Always Write – providing resources for hobby bloggers.”

“Ya keep talkin’ brand! Soun’s like Shorty! Yer a rancher, then?”

“You bet! I live near Woodlake, home of the big Woodlake Rodeo, about 40 minutes from the big trees in the Sequoia National Park.

“Well ain’t it a small world, after all? Shorty’s buckaroo roots are in Cali-forni-a.”

“Yep. An’ we run a big rodeo here at Carrot Ranch, too. It’s a world-wide event in fact. Ev’ry October.”

“I heard about that rodeo Kid. Your Shorty sounds an awful lot like Charli Mills, who, as I said, I recently interviewed. But I guess I’m not quite a rancher like either Shorty or Charli.”

“Well, Marsha, as ya know, it’s purty easy ta be a rancher aroun’ here. Ya jist gotta write 99 words to a prompt an’ pesto! Yer a Rancher.”

“Yep. Jist gen’ral precipitation is all, really.”

“Precipitation, Kid? Yer all wet. Think ya meant ta say par-ticipation. But, yep, as ya figgered out, Marsha, it’s a purty frien’ly bunch at the Ranch. So, what’s next fer ya at yer blog? What are ya cultivatin’ over there these days?”

“Like I said, Pal, my main thrust right now is to provide a list and in-depth skinny for my readers about writing and photo prompts. Besides that I’m enjoying “par-ticipatin’,” as you say in these challenges. I’d like to collaborate with Carrot Ranch in some teaching projects in the future. Probably I should publish a few more books, probably non-fiction, where I can use my teaching talents. Why waste a good MA and all those other credentials and certifications I’ve worked hard to earn, right?”

“Well, ya cert’nly seem more ambitious than someone we know, someone who jist retired from teachin’ an’ now kin barely tell time or string three words t’gether!”

“Kid, thet’s enough. Ain’t a bout you or you-know-who. Fact, Marsha jist put me in mind a Perfesser Mills agin. Reckon thet one’s always been a teacher but now’s gittin’ it all solidified an’ certified.”

“Marsha, what’s somethin’ from yer teachin’ days that most impacts or informs ya as a writer?”

“Kid, teaching turns you into a life-long learner. I love the challenge of learning something new and sharing it as I learn. I love kids, even you, Kid, in spite of your smart remarks.”

“Pal, she remarked on my smarts.”

“Shush, or I’ll make ya smart, by gosh!”

“I live to help students to achieve their highest potential. Our Woodlake kids have accomplished so much in spite of having to overcome many obstacles. The most important things in education are love and enthusiasm. Without those your teaching won’t impact your students. The same is true of writing. The mechanics are important, but you have to have passion for your subject so that the information just bubbles out of you. You also have to care about your students in the blogosphere and consider what their needs are, then find ways to help them meet them.”

“I reckon they’s lots a learnin’ an’ teachin’ goin’ on all ‘roun the blogosphere. It was real nice ta have ya drop by the saloon so’s we could learn more ‘bout you an’ yer doin’s Marsha Ingrao.”

“Thank you!”

“Folks, if yer lookin’ fer an’ extra prompt, let’s think on ‘lifelong learnin’. Tell us ‘bout the most important, profound, useful, surprisin’ or unexpected thing ya’ve learned outside a any school settin’. Who’s been yer teacher thet ain’t a teacher? Let’s fill up them comment carrels like they was detention hall at Kid’s school.”


“Yep, go feed the hosses Kid.”





Hi, I’m Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant – Promoting Hobby Blogging





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

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  1. floridaborne

    Life IS learning, whether we want to or not. 🙂

    Seriously, your joy for learning shines through your interview.

    • Marsha

      You are so right. We learn whether we want to or not, and we can approach that proactively or reluctantly. I think everyone on this site chooses proactively! Thanks for your comment, Floridborn. 🙂 Marsha, Indiana born. 🙂

  2. Norah

    What a great interview. Marsha and I have been friends for many years. She’s even shared teaching tips on my website. I think my own children, and the children of others, have been my best teachers ever. They taught me how to learn and reawakened my curiosity. Children can teach us the most important lessons in life – they love unconditionally and accept us for we are.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You are sure right about learning from children. And as teachers and parents it makes sense to learn from them that we can best help them along. Before their wisdom gets trained out of them.
      Thanks for coming by!

      • Norah

        Exactly! We both agree on that.

    • Marsha

      Hi Norah, thanks for the great comment. What a truth, “They …reawakened my curiosity.” I think without curiosity, we don’t learn as much. My friends spur me on as well. Children have an innate curiosity. Adults that you meet who have followed different career paths, or live in different locations, or have interesting hobbies spark my curiosity, too. See ya ’round, Norah. 🙂

      • Norah

        A good friend of mine used to say, ’round like a rissole’. Do you have those over there?

      • Marsha

        I’ve never seen one except just now on the internet. Surprisingly, your foods seem quite different to me. Lots of pumpkin. Yum! And don’t even get me started on Pavlova. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ahhhh, pavlova! My soon-to-be DIL makes it!

      • Marsha

        Isn’t it grand? Is she Australian? If you start palavering about pavlova, I’m going to be super jealous! 🙂

      • Norah

        Once you get started on pavlova, it’s hard to stop. ????

      • Marsha

        Isn’t that the truth. Carol and Glen’s family teased me unmercifully about wanting it every day – even for breakfast. Of course, I didn’t always get what I wanted! 🙂

      • Norah

        That’s probably a good thing. If you’d had it every day, you’d soon have wanted something else. 🙂

      • Marsha

        True that. I made it once when I got home and it was delicious, but quite a bit of work. I know what an honor it was that his family made it for me. It is a special treat. 🙂

      • Norah

        It is a special treat. 🙂

      • Marsha

        When we get together, we will have some! 🙂

      • Norah


  3. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Lovely to see Marsha interviewed by Kid and Pal. Learning never ends, and often happens when we least expect it, but a good teacher can help it along.

    • Marsha

      Hi Anne, thanks for your lovely reply. It’s great that teachers can help the process. We try to make children’s lives better. It would be terrible to think we wasted our lives! LOL. I remember how little I knew when I first started teaching, but my enthusiasm and their love of learning worked together somehow. One parent told me that their kindergarten child went home the summer after kindergarten and read the New Testament of the Bible. I had no idea he loved reading that much or that he could possibly even attempt such a task. But a teacher’s best efforts + a child’s desire to learn = success. Young adults should never be afraid to try teaching as a career if they love children and love to learn.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        My WIP is largely set in a care home and I’ve just written a scene where a retired teacher feels she’s wasted her life because the students have voted for stupidity. Hope that doesn’t happen to any of yours.
        Wow, that child reading the Bible sounds amazing. Not quite as impressive, but a friend’s son was very slow in learning to read but as soon as he cracked it he bypassed all the easy readers and read an entire Harry Potter novel – obviously you found the motivation!

      • Marsha

        Hi Anne, Wow! It just takes them getting interested in something. Sometimes we don’t recognize true reading handicaps, though, like dyslexia. One of my friend’s grandsons wrote an entire sentence backwards. He turned 8 today and he has a very hard time reading. I used to teach second language learners as well. It is super hard for them because even if they can sound out words, they often don’t have a clue of the meaning, or which meaning. I’ve tried reading in other languages (that I supposedly know) and I understand the frustration of feeling like I don’t understand every other word! Figuring out meaning from context is sometimes a myth! 🙂 Good luck with your wonderful novel. I want to read it as soon as it comes off the shelf!!!!!

  4. Marsha

    Reblogged this on Marsha Ingrao – Always Write and commented:
    I opened up my email the other day and it was none other than Kid and Pal from Carrot Ranch inviting me to visit the Saddle Up Saloon. What a hoot!

      • Marsha

        It ain’t owl over yet! 🙂

  5. Jules

    I thought I recognized that gal! Life isn’t always a box a chocolates. Somes rougher than others so this here’s what I got (‘specially when I smoosh some prompts) Title is the link if you wanna see what the others were:

    Right Words to Leave By?
    (or Ya Don’t Have Ta Say Yes Ta Everythin’)
    (99 word solo renga reverse haibun)

    a valuable
    lesson is understanding
    no is not hollow

    the distance to sanity
    is knowing when to use it

    sleepy water can
    lead to a false sense of calm;
    breaking waves test us

    We learn from diversity and compromise. Often self-reliance may not be what others expect of you – they want capitulation without you complaining. All the same one must care first for the self before branching out to aid another. Many would like to believe that you behave as expected, especially when they believe you lack courage or bravery. Know that promoting yourself honestly should be your reward.


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      “Pal? ‘solo renga reverse haibun’??”
      “Yep, Kid. See, yer payin’ attention, might even learn somethin’. Count syllables, Kid, you’ll figger it out.”
      “Figger the Poet Lariat’s twirlin’ some fancy rope.”
      “Yep, an’ lassoin’ some truths as she does.”

  6. Charli Mills

    Nice to see Marsha at the Saloon! Thanks for the inspiration to always be learning.

    A Natural Classroom
    The rocks teach me to look closer, to examine the drusy for identifiable crystalline structures and relate color to mineral paint – red for iron, green for copper. The birds gift me with song though they be no lauded scholars of music. I learn to whistle like a red-tailed hawk, caa in my throat like a crow, and discover ways my human body can harmonize with the woods around me. The water holds a master class on life and death, teaching a balance between too much and too little. Water is life — from it, I’m born to learn to swim. (99)

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ah, good one, Ms. Mills. Love the master class of water. You are a born swimmer!

      • Charli Mills

        I’m working on not drowning. 😉

    • Jules

      I like that Charli… I was told I could swim before I could walk.
      Most babies are supposed naturally hold their breath when ‘dunked’ – and don’t fear water at all. If they are taught early enough.

      • Charli Mills

        Ah, I hadn’t thought about babies having a natural reflex when dunked. Are you still a swimmer?

      • Jules

        I don’t really have any place to swim, but it’s like riding a bike. Once you learn… I’ve only done snorkeling once. Not with a tank, you have to be certified for that. I don’t mind pools, or even lakes but I really like the salt water oceans. While it might be deep enough in some areas of the creek… well we’ve got snapping turtles big enough to bite of a toe and I’d rather have sand underfoot than squishy mud between my toes 😉

      • dessertflower5

        Hi there, such a facinating interview. I see that you are making a difference to the world of blogging. Your work is so different. Something very unique. I just saw your bio and was pleasantly surprised to see a multi talented person in the world of blogging. Keep up the good work ????

  7. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    I’m finally learning to still my mind and listen.

    I’m listening to the mountain, imitating it, learning it.
    Like a child at play, I become the mountain
    My mouth, my voice, formed only by wonder; Oh!

    When the trees sway and dance, I do too
    We make our own music, soft wind-song and laughter
    The birds sing another way; I listen, enchanted— Ah!

    I’m learning the sound of sun sparkling after rain
    I listen to the dew glistening in the morning
    At night I hear pinging starlight, moonlight’s soft caress

    I’m finally learning to still my mind, listen; be. (99)

    I believe we learn by jumping in and doing, whether it’s carpentry or writing or blogging. Yes, we can inform ourselves by watching and reading others but still must Just Do. Have to stop saying I Can’t based on the fact of Haven’t Tried. And then try again.
    I tried a poem in response to Kid and Pal’s prompt and perhaps on the heels of Jules and Charli. I kind of like the form for Carrot Ranch! 11 lines of nine, first and last repeating.

    • Charli Mills

      I like that 99 poetry form of 11 by 9. Mathematical. Balanced. Poised as O’Mountain. And sound advice: “Have to stop saying I Can’t based on the fact of Haven’t Tried.”

    • Jules

      I really enjoyed this D. That saying …”Have to stop saying I Can’t based on the fact of Haven’t Tried.” While there’s just some things I know I can’t or don’t want to do. We need to listen and learn. So very true.

      I often try and have conversations with the birds… I think they know it’s me who feeds ’em and they leave me feathers in return. I’ve got enough feathers in from my yard to maybe build me a bird 😉 Well maybe not quite. 😉

  8. H.R.R. Gorman

    Professional blogging! That’s a cool thing to do – wish I could be ‘professional’ about it, but curse words just keep poppin’ out!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Well, shit, yeah that’s a hell of a problem.

  9. dgkaye

    Fabulous tellin’ Marsh! Great to see you featured here. <3

  10. robertawrites235681907

    It is great to learn so much more about you Marsha, and your thoughts on teaching and learning. This is a subject that I have been thinking about a lot recently with the home schooling in place. A lovely collaboration.


  1. nd 8.4 Right Words to Leave By? 3p – Jules Pens Some Gems… - […] Carrot Ranch Saddle Up Saloon “Folks, if yer lookin’ fer an’ extra prompt, let’s think on ‘lifelong learnin’. Tell…

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