My bed has a shaggy coat. Colder temperatures call for afternoon hot apple cider, flannel sheets, and “blankets of joy.” The one who finds the most joy in winter blankets is Mause. The little GSP will be three in November and she shows no signs of slowing down, although she’s getting comfort dialed in.

I needed something warmer for my bed and when I saw the shaggy duvet cover on Amazon, I giggled at the image of Mause discovering shag. It was also the least expensive cover made of natural fibers, which sealed the deal. I bought a similar blanket from the same eco-friendly company out of Minnesota for Mause on the couch.

Shag is questionable to the dog. When Mause leaped onto the couch, the shag caught her by surprise. It was sleek, satiny, and fur-like. Good surprise or bad? It was hard to read her features. She kept her ears perked in curiosity but had a gleam in her eyes that foreshadowed naughtiness. Meanwhile, the grand shag duvet cover spent the day in the basement at the spa for bedding.

I’m not the biggest fan of duvets after spending half my life wanting one. The struggle to find the right corners, tie the loops, and get the cover situated places the chore low on my enjoyment list. Tussling with a shaggy duvet cover was like wrestling a creature from deep in the winter woods. Once successful, I felt like I had conquered Grendel and his hide covered my bed. I’ve never had a shaggy bed before. We’ll see what the princess upper thinks when she gets home from her run-around-town with her veteran.

When fall came to the small mountain town where I grew up, our herd of horses grew thick, long coats. They did not winter in the Sierras — they left for Nevada. I remember Captain’s coat long and more coarse before he left. I longed for his return in spring with the rest when I’d brush out his coat until it shined. There’s a lovely familiarity with changing seasons. Pre-winter shag feels right.

The Keweenaw holds its breath — will we get 300 inches of snow or will climate change cause different conditions? How much say does Lady Lake Superior have? We have no gales to report, no early white flakes, and no hard frost, yet. It’s due any day. Which has me thinking, so is my grandbaby! The last month of a trimester is the longest. While the maples outside slowly drop their leaves, I wait for news.

The Collections are caught up. Such different ideas, yet visible strands of connectivity. Your stories (and verse) continue to be a joy to work with and I can’t wait to start learning more about the connection between our literary art and the collective unconscious. On November 3, I will begin a journey into Dream Tending and Deep Imagination. I hope to unlock access to our collective “inner genius” for the continued work of collaboration at Carrot Ranch. Tending dreams is akin to how we create from a deep urge.

Another important aspect of dream tending is its potential for group work among veterans and their families. I don’t think veterans need more treatment for mental health; I believe they need more empowerment to work with their PTSD and brain trauma. What better way to bring troubled veteran couples together but through tending dreams. The very tools of dreamers include creating safe space within and working with intolerable images. Already, Todd has been happily sharing his dreams with me.

Another aspect of dream tending is the cultivation of a connection to something bigger than oneself. Do you ever feel that as a writer? The vastness of the space within, the many ways we connect with humanity around the world through literary communities like Carrot Ranch, readers, and our physical communities, take us somewhere. We return with stories. Soldiers believe in something bigger than themselves even when they know they are a cog inside the wheel or a war machine. Stories like “Band of Brothers” show this bond in action.

I feel hopeful that Dream Tending will expand what thrills me about creative writing. For gales, baby news, and shaggy warmth, stay tuned!

October 17, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something shaggy. It can be carpet, a hair-do, or some sort of critter. How can something shaggy steer the story? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by October 23, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.


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