February 18: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at  https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com

February 18, 2021

It’s Thursday again, time for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. Once again we will all fill in so that our friend Charli can focus on that thesis of hers. As I alluded to last week, Charli has set this community up to be successful and to manage even with her not directly at the helm. We know what to do to keep the Ranch running— read, write, comment. A foolproof formula!

All we need is a post and a prompt.

Who’s the fool now? I have nothing to say and a gazillion things I could say. Once upon a time… no. This time, maybe today’s date is a place to start.

Maybe today, February 18, isn’t a special day for you. But it could be. Today is the birth date of both my husband and my sister-in-law’s mother. Birthdays…

I never had children so have never hosted a children’s birthday party, never had to be the one either fulfilling wishes or causing disappointment. I remember many of my own birthdays as a child. One of the best was when I turned ten. First of all— ten! Double digits; a roll over number; a whole decade old; it was a big one. But I remember it for getting what I wanted as a gift from my parents— a hammer. Maybe after ten years I had simply worn my mother down, but my request was not ignored, it wasn’t replaced with a more “appropriate” gift, with what she felt I should really want or need. And it was a nice hammer, with a sleek red wooden shaft and a rubber grip. It was real and it was mine. More important, I had been heard and acknowledged. It was a good birthday, with even better days to follow as I dragged slabs into the woods and hammered together a fort.

As an adult I sometimes ignore my own birthday as best I can, other times I take the day into my own hands. When I was crazy busy during summers with my one-woman landscaping business I would give myself the day off to spend time making the cake I wanted, homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I’m not much of a baker, so this cake making took time and that time was my gift to myself, a time of meditation and reflection.

When I changed careers and had summers off I sometimes chose to spend my birthday making a nice meal for friends and family to enjoy together with me after their workday. Again, it was a meditative way to spend the day and was a way to show gratitude for those people who were going to acknowledge the day whether I wanted them to or not.

A memorable day that happens to have also been my birthday was the one when my sister-in-law took the day off from work just to hang out with me. With no planning we ended up kayaking four ponds, having to portage only small distances, needing no vehicle. We lunched on delicious sandwiches out on the water. We were joined by the local bald eagle for a bit as well as other wildlife. It was a fine adventure, our Four Pond Day.

I’ve had so many fine adventures and memorable days, some with friends and family, many spent all alone. I’m reminded of and just reread a picture book written by Byrd Baylor and illustrated by Peter Parnall, I’m In Charge of Celebrations.How could I be lonely?” the narrator asks. “I’m the one in charge of celebrations.” The setting is the American Southwest, but the narrator’s outdoor wanderings and recognition of amazing sights and events to celebrate resonate with me here in my wooded northeast. With lyrical language, set upon the page as poetry instead of paragraphs, we are told about some of the narrator’s findings and reactions.

And then all day

you think



you were

to be there.

Some of my best


are sudden surprises

like that.

If you weren’t outside

at that



you’d miss them.”

Her New Year celebration has to be “a day that is exactly right…. Usually it’s a Saturday around the end of April.) … I spend the day admiring things…

I celebrate

with horned toads

and ravens

and lizards

and quail…

And Friend,

it’s not

a bad

party. ”

Celebrating New Year’s at the return of spring makes sense to me. I had always thought of the first day of a new school year to be New Year’s Day but this past September was different, as I had left that career for who-knows-what adventures. This year the first day of school away from school was a birth day, a new beginning. While my former colleagues did all that first day stuff I hiked the mountain with no agenda. The barred owl was as surprised to see me as I it. It is quite something to see an owl slipping silently through the trees. How lucky I was to be there.

Today is the birthday of at least two people that I know of and I will let them both know that I appreciate their being in the world. But today could be your special day too, for any number of reasons.

In Byrd Baylor’s book dust devils, rainbows (and the rabbit that also saw the rainbow), a green parrot-shaped cloud, a coyote, falling stars, and the new year are celebrated. The narrator says that she is very choosy about what goes into her celebration notebook.

It has to be something

I plan to remember

the rest of my life.

You can tell

what’s worth

 a celebration


your heart will



you’ll feel

like you’re standing

on top of a mountain

and you’ll

catch your breath

like you were


some new kind of air.


I count it just

an average day.

(I told you

I was


Life is the present. And you are the one in charge of celebrations.

~D. Avery

February 18, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story where a character is in the right place at the right time. It may be cause for celebration! Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 23, 2021, to be included in the compilation. 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 Fish Story by D. Avery

“Luckiest fishing day ever!”

“Hope! You and Cousin Bobby caught enough for a meal?”

He groaned when the children showed him their sleds loaded with pails of fresh perch along with the ice-fishing gear. “That’s a lot of perch to dress.”

“We found a hotspot, Daddy!”

Laughing, Hope’s mother headed back inside.

“Hey! Help skin.”

“After some phone calls.”

Throughout the afternoon people started dropping by, some chatting while peeling perch out of their scaly skins, some cooking fish over an outside fire. Fish stories old and new were told.

Hope beamed.

“This is the best perch dinner ever!”


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  1. Doug Jacquier

    Here’s mine for this time round.

    Title: A French Fantasy (hush, you boys in the back row!)

    I have a celebration fantasy. Perceptive readers will have noticed that my surname is French. However no member of my family has been a citizen of the Republic for many generations and my schoolboy French is close to execrable. So the gods decided to rub my face in my genealogical treachery by having my birthday fall on France’s national day, Bastille Day (July 14). Hence my fantasy of being in Paris at the right time for the biggest celebration of the year and have 65 million French people show me that all is forgiven by wishing me ‘Joyeux Anniversaire’.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Do it, Doug!
      Wow, you were quick out of the gate! I enjoyed this and encourage you to fulfill that French fantasy (as soon as it’s safe to do so).

      • Doug Jacquier

        Yeah, it’s hot as Hades today so we’ve been hibernating but I thought I saw Ted Cruz down at the local pub. 😉 Bottom line, barring a lottery win, France remains a fantasy. Besides they’d probably snub me for having a French name and not being able to speak French perfectly. 🙂 C’est la vie. A bientot.

    • Gloria

      That’s interesting Doug. It’s a lovely name you have….although I probably pronounce it wrong. Your fantasy might become reality some day.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Not even the French agree on how to pronounce it but the most common is either jak-ke-ah (which I use) or jacq-e-air. French phonetics would render it as jah-kee-uh. Within my own family it has three different pronunciations. My favorite anecdote is when I was being paged in a hotel lobby many years ago and the young female staff member was calling for a Mr. Weir, which I ignored, until she finally called for Mr. Jack Weir and the penny dropped that it was meant for me and it was my mother calling. Must use it as a pen name one day.

    • Norah

      I was in Paris on your birthday in 2010. It was a very wet day. We got soaked as we walked from our accommodation to the Louvre. Usually the queue for the Louvre is very long (so I believe) but since it was raining they ushered us all quickly inside. What a treat! I was in the right place at the right time for your birthday. 🙂

      • Doug Jacquier

        I love that you had that experience (except for the bits where I hate you because I wasn’t there). 🙂

      • Norah

        I understand. I wondered if I should tell you.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        That’s awesome Norah, that you did that for Doug.

      • Norah

        And to think I didn’t even know! 🙂

    • denmaniacs4

      My entry is riffing off Doug’s dream. It is a true story (as true as 99 words allow) that I have referenced other times including a story sent in to the CBC (Canada’s National Radio Station) decades ago that was read on the air and which pushed me to keep writing.

      European Summer

      In 1963, along with 300 young Canadians, I was in Paris just before Bastille Day.

      By July 14th, we had convoyed by Bus to Switzerland.

      However, though only sixteen at the time, I immersed myself in the sounds and smells of Paris, acquainted my then lanky and totally unsophisticated self with baguettes, wine, strong coffee, and, to my shame, behaviour so Trump-like that I was tossed out of the Paris Opera.

      Our chaperons, including my Art Teacher who ran the trip as a side business, threatened me with repatriation to Canada.

      They relented.

      I stayed.

      Right decision!

      Great summer!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I am glad the young Canadian was forgiven for acting the ugly American. It seems you’ve recovered and recouped. And how wonderful to know there are two Ranchers (and counting?) who have stepped up and stood in for Doug. What a community!

      • Doug Jacquier

        Just shows you don’t have to age before you can behave disgracefully. 🙂 Come on, tell all about the Paris Opera incident.

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      What a beautiful piece, Doug. I thought perhaps you had been raised in one of the northern midwestern states. I grew up in Wisconsin and French surnames were quite common. What a lovely dream to have!

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thank you, Colleen. Various family members have tried to trace the name back to France, with varying degrees of credibility. 😉 The most likely theory is that many families in the Channel Islands have French names, what with French fishermen plying their trade back and forth over the centuries and engaging in a little bit of horizontal folkdancing, 😉

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        LOL! To be sure. My ancestors were Germans who settled in Russia to farm the land along the Volga River. After 100 years the Germans didn’t claim them, and neither did the Russians. My great grandfather had the intelligence to get out of Russia before the Bolshiviks came into power by sailing to America. Our names make us who we are. <3

  2. Cindy Georgakas

    I feel like this often.
    “I have nothing to say and a gazillion things I could say”.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Right? But I pinballed my way through a post.
      Let’s write!

      • Cindy Georgakas

        I love it!!! and you did it so well!

  3. cbutzen

    Great prompt! Hope I’m doing this right. Please excuse my mistakes–I’m a new visitor at the ranch. 🙂

    Title: A Royal Game

    The queen hurried across the field. She’d done this many times, but now, she had a good feeling about it.
    There he was: the king. Not her king: his coat of arms was that of another of the four kingdoms. He wore black, a stern contrast to her brilliant red. But he opened his arms for her.
    “At last,” the Queen breathed.
    “I knew it would happen,” said the king. Behind the queen trailed Jack in the king’s color, and Ten came after him.
    After eight failed games of Solitaire, the cards were finally played in the right order.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! And what a take on the prompt! That game is all about right place right time, and your perspective brought it to life.
      So you are all right. Thank you for sharing your story in the comments. If you would like it to be published in the collection that gets posted here on Wednesdays you will need to submit it in the form above. I hope you get a chance to look around the Ranch- there is a lot to see.
      (By the way, normally it’s our lead buckaroo, Charli Mills, posting and prompting but we’re all taking care of business as usual so that she can tend to other pressing matters this week. But she’ll be glad to see you and your stories)

    • Jules

      Fun!! And welcome!!
      I’ve been playing a fair bit of Pinochle. Odd that it is only played with Ace through 9, and the order is A, 10, K, Q, J, 9. And why the Queen of Spades and Jack of Diamonds is a special combo – I don’t know?

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      Welcome to the ranch! I enjoyed your take on the prompt. Writing flash fiction is addicting! Have fun. <3

    • Nicole Horlings

      Oooh, that was a really fun story, and a very creative take on the prompt. Awesome job! Can’t wait to read more from you 😀

    • Liz H

      VERY clever!
      And welcome!

  4. Marsha

    Excellent prompt, Dee. The ranch really does almost manage itself. The sign of a great manager and a wonderful team.

      • Marsha

        I’m in awe. It’s one thing to be the kind of leader that can work with people they see every day. It’s another to inspire and manage people you may have met or maybe not except online. Even more, she leads volunteers who are leaders and can inspire others – again not in person, but online. I was a leader in education in a county office, where we had no authority over what the 53 districts in our county did, but we led by example, by training, by coaching, all in person. That was difficult and many people missed having the direct authority or contact of colleagues every day. But to do it all remotely,.. In short – amazing. So hats off to Charlie and to all of you who work so hard at maintaining this community that reaches into our own. and transforms our writing 99 words at a time.

  5. ellenbest24

    Perch, undressed … when seen from above twirling in crystal clear waters

  6. ellenbest24

    Whoops fat fingers lost that slippery beast. Undressed and free as the one that got away is my favourite tail (sic). But your story made me hunger for your supper, Yum.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Fishing isn’t for everyone but there is nothing better than fresh perch cooked in butter in a cast iron pan over an open fire. This is the story that came so there it is. Hope is a recurring character that lives on a farm near a lake in Vermont.

      • ellenbest24

        MY sister spent ten years in Coventry Vermont and while staying I went ice fishing. I Loved the fresh fish and Vermont xx

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Coventry isn’t too far from Hope’s imagined setting. Small world.

  7. Anne Goodwin's Sugar and Snails is free in February

    I loved your birthday stories. Do you still have that hammer?
    Maybe the Ranch does run itself but that’s thanks to your willingness to step in and step up. We’re lucky you were in the right place at the right time.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That day, the one where I discovered the Ranch, is definitely one I celebrate. I love celebrating it every week with all the ranchers.
      That hammer got mixed in with the household tools as my interests changed. I see it on my father’s work bench when I pop in for a visit. I do have a beauty of a hammer again and more. (I gave myself one of those rechargeable battery powered tool kits, the drill/screw gun, saw, etc. Game changer!)

  8. Gloria

    I love the idea of people calling to help cook the freshly caught fish. It gives me feelings of comfort. I remember perch being a very small fish. (Haven’t seen one in maybe 40 years) Am I remembering right?

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      They can be pretty small! They can also be good sized, 1/2 pound to 1and a half pounds each. I remember my brother and a friend coming home with a couple five gallon pails of perch, all fun and games till the skinning. We put the excess in the freezer for later but I liked the idea of friends and family coming by for a big feed in this story and the “many hands” aspect. I hope to get out onto the ice to fish this week with my dad but will stop at a meal, a meal for just us.

      • Gloria

        Oh that sounds so lovely. Just you and your dad. I’m so happy I got to spend time with my dad when he was alive. We did lots of things together. He’s part of most of my beautiful memories. It was with him we used to fish for perch when we were children. It’s the small perch that stick in my mind. It was mostly trout we caught though. And eels…..OH skinning them was something else entirely. I could go on and on!
        Have a nice meal with your dad. : )

  9. Ritu

    Thank you!!
    All done!
    Oh, and you aren’t the only one with multiple birthdays on the same day. Last week was my husband and mother in law. He popped into this world on her 21st birthday! What a gift! Tomorrow is my daughter (turning teen!) and my father in law! And in June my firstborn shares his with my mother! I always say I can never top that birthday present!

    • Norah

      That’s a lot of matching birthdays, Ritu. My husband, my son-in-law and my sister-in-law all share the same birthday. Son-in-law is exactly thirty years younger than Hub. The mother of my son’s previous girlfriend also shared the same day. My granddaughter was born on my grandfather’s birthday, though of course they never met. He was long gone before she arrived. It’s funny how the same dates keep popping up.

      • Ritu

        Wow! You’re like our family with all the overlaps, Norah! February is a special, but very expensive month, here!

      • Norah

        Sounds it, Ritu. 🙂

      • Ritu


      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        I think your family is also blessed with same birthdays. How cool is that? <3

      • Norah

        It’s very cool, Colleen. I especially love that there are exactly thirty years between Hub and son-in-law.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        I looked these family birthday occurrences up and found that it happens fairly regularly in families. I my youngest daughter was born on my ex’s birthday. It’s an interesting phenomenon. ??

      • Norah

        It is indeed. 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      What a lovely story and what lucky characters.
      Yes, February is loaded with birthdays for me, many people in my life to celebrate. How fun that you have so many shared birthdays to celebrate.

      • Ritu

        Thank you!
        It’s a busy month, but very special, too ????

    • Jules

      I’ve got some matching birthdays also… Hubby and my eldest’s BIL, and DIL and a Nephew!

      • Ritu

        Lots of matching birthdays going on!

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      What a blessing to share so many birthdays together in your family, Ritu. <3

      • Ritu

        A blessing, and rather expensive, Sis!!

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        LOL! I bet! Large families are like that. What a blessing. <3

      • Ritu

        True! Bit the joy makes up for it ????

    • Nicole Horlings

      Great story! It’s a heartwarming take on the prompt.

      • Ritu

        Thank you ????????????

  10. joanne the geek

    I learned a long time ago if I wanted a birthday cake I had to make it myself… I tried to organise a meal at a restaurant on my birthday last year, but it turned out the entire restaurant had been booked for a function and they didn’t tell me and I only found out on the day due to a friend noticing it was closed even though I had made a booking with them… To top it of I also put my back out later that day so I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the restaurant anyway as I couldn’t move. At least this years won’t be any worse, I hope.

    • Norah

      That’s so sad, Joanne. I hope you have a much better day this year.

      • joanne the geek

        Thanks I hope so too ??

      • Norah


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ouch. I guess “memorable” can be achieved in different ways. I do hope you have a positively memorable day this year.

      • joanne the geek

        Thanks. I certainly won’t forget that birthday.

  11. Norah

    Lovely birthday reminiscences, D. Thank you for being the right person in the right place at the right time to hold the reins for Charli. You do it so capably. I don’t think it’s true to say the Ranch runs itself. It takes a lot of organisation behind the scenes.
    I love the photo of Charli’s two daughters at the top of the post. What joy they share.
    I also have memories of my tenth birthday. My grandfather told me how special it was to enter double figures. When my grandson turned 10, I wrote him a letter telling him of its significance too. One of my brothers (#7, I’m #3) was born 4 days before my tenth birthday and my mum was still convalescing in ‘hospital’ so my Dad prepared my birthday party – a huge pot warm cocoa and maybe a cake. I’m not sure about the cake. My neighbour came over to celebrate. Usually, if Mum was home, she made me a marble cake. I miss her marble cakes now.
    I love Hope’s story. Of course she found a hotspot for perch. I love the way everyone gathered around to lend a hand and join in the celebrations – just like at the Ranch. 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yes, that’s the trick, there is organization behind the scenes, deftly set up by our lead Buckaroo. It’s like that part of the Tao Te Ching on good governance when the people say ‘look what we did, all by ourselves’ because of the wise management of the leader. Like the invisible structures and supports of a classroom.
      I love that photo too. I again snagged it from the archives, as the dates from 2015 challenges are aligned with 2021. This photo does seem to fit the post this week as they seem to be celebrating something- each other, the moment, spring…
      My mother will still make me any cake or pie I want for my birthday if I let her. (Lemon meringue pie this year) As a teenager working summers in Massachusetts they would come down for a visit and pick the wild blueberries that were in season then make my birthday blueberry buckle.
      Hope’s stories are all over the place, but I thought you’d be pleased to see that it was her mom that put the calls out in this scene. Yes, let’s have a big ol’ fish fry at the ranch on July 14th. Bass-tille Day for Doug.

      • Norah

        Anything that runs smoothly is as a result of the behind the scenes organisation. You do well in helping out.
        You are fortunate to still have your mum to bake your favourite cake, whichever it happens to be for the year. Blueberry buckle with fresh blueberries sounds delicious, or would if I knew what blueberrry buckle was. ???? I’m sure you’ve told me sometime but I’ve forgotten and I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment. Nah, I couldn’t be lazy. I had to look it up. Delicous!
        I don’t mind reading Hope’s life stories out of sequence. It’s rare (in fact I don’t recall it ever happening) that anyone tells me their life story in sequence. We usually find out different bits as our friendship grows. We just file them all in the right order in our memory.
        A Bash for Doug on the 14 July sounds like a plan.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you for joining in! The more the merrier.

      • willowdot21

        Thank you ????

    • Jules

      So nice to see you here Willowdot21 – It is good to celebrate relationships that work!

      • willowdot21

        It is isn’t it ????????

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      A lovely story filled with hope, Willow. <3

      • willowdot21

        Fingers crossed ????

  12. Jules

    D. ~That’s one way to celebrate – food and friends 😀

    My Double Ennead looks better in my post, as there is also an illustration to go with it;

    Cautiously Staged

    Convinced by prompting he
    Chose kabuki to
    Celebrate life – then he could hide in plain site
    Only a few close friends
    Shared his deep secret

    He loved to paint his face
    And pretend to be
    Heroines in plays to arouse audiences
    He really had to
    Act without costumes

    Such was his lot not to
    Incite the wrath that
    Could befall any who were deemed different
    At least in this year, this
    Time of harsh judgements


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Wow! The ranch’s own Poet Lariat has done it again. I said more at your site, which folks should go to for the complete package. I love that you are making the Double Ennead a real deal thing, 99 syllables, no more no less. You do it well.

      • Jules

        he Double Ennead is a little more work than a haiku! But it does have its own rewards. ~ Thank you!

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      I’m thrilled of your embrace of the double ennead, Jules. It’s perfect for longer poetic tales. <3

  13. Jim Borden

    a four pond day sounds like a lot of fun, and quite tiring!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      It was fun to realize how near the ponds are to each other when you don’t drive around them by road over hill and dale to the usual launch sites. And to give yourself over to the day and the adventure.

  14. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Doin’ Shifts

    “Kid? Yer lookin’ a might discombobulated.”
    “Kinda am Pal. They’s a lot goin’ on seems like. How kin I know I’m in the right place, right time? Shorty’s cloistered away at Headquarters, schedule’s been shifty, guest hosts at the saloon, an’ a outta season Rodeo?!”
    “Thet’s ‘zactly how ya know, Kid.”
    “Here we are! Right here doin’ what we do.”
    “Yeh… what d’we do?”
    “Shush Kid. Colleen’s got the Saloon ever’ third Monday, hear tell Chel’s gonna guest host ever’ first Monday, an’ the Sue Vincent Rodeo’s wrappin’ up, winners announced March 22.”
    “An’ we do…?”
    “Shush Kid.”

    • Nicole Horlings

      Came back from a hiatus and didn’t notice anything different (still got to get our stories written by Tuesday), so it seems to me like this lovely community is going strong and the leader can step back comfortably. Love the creative way of discussing it 😀

  15. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Wrestlin’ Wangler

    “I know Kid, this’s a tough one.”
    “Sure is Pal. How’ll I know right time, right place?”
    “Thinkin’ we all jist end up where we are, where we’re needed, when we need ta be there.”
    “Reckon. I always seem ta be where I’m at. Figgered I’s jist lucky.”
    “Ya are some lucky Kid. Thing is, ever’one’s lucky. Thing is, not ever’one ‘cepts their luck, don’t recognize their learnin’ op’r’tunities.”
    “Easy ta say, what with a bunkhouse roof over us an’ a cookhouse full a carrots an’ bac— baked goods.”
    “Yep. So don’t jist be lucky. Share fortune. Spread luck.”

  16. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    It’s my dads birthday on the 23rd. I was convinced he is 91 and then realised with covid I’d lost track of time. He’s 92 on the 23rd!

  17. reading journeys

    Hi D.

    A great post, full of reflection on life…
    Teasing out thoughts about a FF, mind-mapping:

    Your post and all those amazing FF stories for Sue Vincent, about life as a “river of consciousness.”
    Poems came to mind.
    Perhaps it was Jules the ranch Poet Lariat
    or the thought of Kid in his Poet Tree
    And all the poets of Carrot Ranch:
    Right times and right places.
    Poets from the past & present.
    “Gazillion” reminded me of Wordsworth and the sight of a thousand golden daffodils along the bay.
    Finding solace and seeing with the mind’s “inner eye.”
    And Robert Frost came to mind; in Vermont; his farm, his cottage, two roads in a wood; and the road not taken; and reflections decades and decades hence…
    Emily Dickinson and the slant of light in a cathedral. …
    More modern poets come to mind — Whitman…
    Amana Gorman and the inauguration poem of stepping from the shade into the light.

    A lot of food for thought. A challenging FF for me.
    Thank you!


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you. I find myself continuing to think on this prompt, now that I got the thing done. So many many “lucky” situations, life saving and life changing. Oh, ear worm!
      I look forward to reading what comes to you!

  18. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Lovely thoughtful post with poetry, D. I always enjoy your stories and this one reminded me of a great family memory from Montana when a neighbor fried fish for our entire family… good times. <3

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you. Byrd Baylor’s books are great on many levels and for children of all ages.

  19. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Here a true story:


    “How much is the black puppy?” I pointed to the fuzzy Pomeranian in the cage.

    “That one? I’ll have to check. He’s been here for months.”

    Dark, soulful eyes stared at me as if the pup understood the conversation.

    “Pure black Pomeranians are rare. Is he papered?”

    “Yup. Two champions in his line. Nobody wants him because he’s all black. You know, bad-luck.”

    He nosed my hand through the cage.

    “I’ll take him.”

    “Looks like you are in the right place at the right time. He’s on sale, only $99.00.”


    In my arms, Pu-Chai found his new home.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ha! $99, no more no less!
      What a perfect story. ad luck my bass.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Ha! You’re the first to catch that! Back in the 1980’s these dogs were around $200+ per puppy. They cost so much for pure bred dogs. My poor boy came out of a puppy mill that was later shut down. I’m just glad we had all those years. ????

    • Liz H

      So glad your were there for the rescue!

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Thanks, Liz. He was such a sweet dog. He grew up with our cat and they were both pals. <3

  20. Ann Edall-Robson

    Waking Adventure
    by Ann Edall-Robson

    Eyes smile
    Welcoming the early
    ?morning glow of colour
    What escapades
    will this day bring
    Baileys splashed
    in morning coffee
    Feet tucked under
    reading books
    A charcuterie platter
    offering treats
    Perhaps a wander
    Snippets of this and that
    to directions unknown
    Or a calming glide
    on the water
    Dip, paddle, silence
    Nature’s fingers caress
    Is it the gravel roads
    enticing the soul
    The glory of life
    erupting at each
    hill crested
    Yet the land with
    minuscule life welcomes
    The scent of sunshine
    through the trees
    The wonders of life
    giving and forgiving
    Morsels of celebration
    for each waking


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Hey. This… feels familiar.
      I like the “morsels of celebration”, those little daily joys to be grateful for.

    • suespitulnik

      Beautiful Ann. I agree with Dede, it sounds a description of a place we have shared, but I missed out on the Bailey’s. The dip, paddle, silence was a pure treat.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        You didn’t miss out on anything, Sue. Merely a whimsical thought with conotations of home.

  21. suespitulnik

    As others have said, thank you Dede for taking the reins again this week. We do appreciate your loyalty to all of us at the Ranch, especially the “boss.”
    Cleaning fish with my father was expected when I was young. We all loved eating the fresh fish so cleaning them wasn’t a chore. I can picture Hope’s family and friends gathering. What a fun, memorable experience.
    We have been having sightings of owls in my locale also though I have not been one of the lucky ones to catch a glimpse. On to the prompt…

    The Harsh Truth

    Over coffee, Lexi said, “Mom, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad you left Dad. You’re happy now. Would you mind sharing what gave you the guts to make the move?”
    Tessa looked away, remembering, then smiled at her oldest daughter. “I overheard a conversation between the wives of your father’s higher-ups. One wondered to the other if I knew your father’s continual unaccompanied tours were by request. I was shocked at first then soon decided I had been at the right place at the right time to learn the truth.”
    “That’s harsh.”
    “It was, but beneficial.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      She had the right attitude and is now with the right guy. She has much to celebrate!

  22. Liz H

    Some guys just can’t catch a break, so the lesson keeps coming around until they learn…

    The Fall Guy

    “I don’t understand what you want from me.” Trevor was mystified. Heather was leaving him. Again.

    “That’s it!” she huffed, jaw clenched. “I just can’t trust you’ll be there when I need you.”
    [Continue ]

      • Liz H


  23. Nicole Horlings

    What a lovely post to be in the right place at the right time to discover when returning to this community after taking a hiatus from writing, lol. I’m glad to be back. Here’s my story:

    A Serendipitous Discovery

    “Where ends the street, there shall we meet,” the slip of paper stated. Jack chuckled, paused his exploration of the old mansion, and followed the road out of town, strolling along until it finally ended at the edge of the forest.

    A fairy flew down from a tree. “You found my note.”

    “You can predict where I’ll go to explore next too well,” he grinned.

    “Is that a problem?” she flirted, fluttering her lashes.

    “No,” he laughed, then kissed her. “Your little game is fine. I’m glad I met you while exploring the forest,” he sighed, hugging her close.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Welcome back! (There’s a lot going on and nothing’s changed.)
      The bond between these two is strong! Thank you for your fairy fine story.

      • Nicole Horlings

        It’s good to be be back 🙂

  24. Anne Goodwin's Sugar and Snails is free in February

    Although not a BOTS, my 99-word story is rooted in my current anxieties about a Zoom event tomorrow. Follow the link to my blog to register for the session and see how I do. The rehearsal has shown me I use my hands way too much when I speak, which is distracting enough if you can see them, but even worse when the screen cuts me off at the chest and you just see twitching shoulders.

    Lockdown literary launch

    The kids needed the laptop for their schoolwork. I needed it to practice addressing the camera instead of the screen. I’d neglected them, constantly checking the joining link and time zones. Learning my lines. But they were good kids, they’d forgive me. They’d have my attention once the book was launched.

    “Good evening, and welcome!” On Zoom, no-one would see me wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans. Gaze fixed on the camera, I didn’t immediately notice the kids had taken revenge. Rubbish at tech, I couldn’t cancel the filter. I read out my poignant passages as a cat.


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ha! Way to write out your nerves.
      I am sure you’ll do fine tomorrow. See ya then.

    • Liz H

      As if ripped from the headlines themselves! Lol, nice one!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      She’s determined to make this work!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You’re right on time and in the right place too. (Unlike Jeremy…)

  25. Sherri Matthews

    Hi D, I know I’m late catching up somewhat at the Ranch. What a lovely post…

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you. I’m glad you made it by.
      I’m even more glad that Charli is back on the Ranch!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thanks, D, and yes, I bet!

  26. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Thank you for your story. I am so glad the timing was right in your story.

  27. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Jules, I loved your double ennead!! This form is so versatile. I love how your stories slip into the syllables. <3


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