April 9: Story Challenge in 99-words

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

April 9, 2024

Driving back from Wisconsin on Eclipse Day provided a corridor of spring images — male birds in full strut. One tom turkey swaggered along the northbound highway in full-fanned plumage. Sixty miles later, another tom stepped out of the woods fully strutting. A third failed to woo a female or a vehicle; his carcass beckoned the bone pickers who also puffed their mating feathers. The male ravens strutted from bare birch branch to bare birch branch. The eagles beamed luminous white feathers, standing tall on an unfortunate deer struck down. I narrowly avoided the grouse who tried to stake his territory in my lane. At least the sandhill cranes stayed in the fields away from the paved ribbons of death.

Spring comes earlier in southern Wisconsin than in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My sweet baby granddaughter doesn’t yet know about robins, but the family cat does. The males return from winter clothed in their brightest colors. The females have enough sense to show up in nesting neutrals. Regis is at the stage of development where the repetition of silly sounds is more engaging than pointing out the variety of birds her cat goggles through the kitchen window.

We read several books together, including one board book that compares horses to unicorns. Unicorns, according to child scholars, fart rainbows and horses pass green gas. The latter is accurate. I can recall the soft pffft sound that accompanies a good tail-lifter, thus I demonstrated this by softly blowing in her face with a small pffft sound. This enlisted a broad smile so I played it over and over. Repetition earned me bigger smiles and baby guffaws. Yes, I pfffted my way through the weekend.

The weekend slipped by too quickly. Soon it was time to return to Roberts Street and the ranch website overhaul. Code was the most challenging hurdle when I began building websites in the ’00s. By 2010, I was customizing individual wordpress.org sites for various departments. In 2012, I built my first two wordpress.com sites and another using Blogger. I loved the changes a decade brought — end-user friendly, photo optimizing, and themes. Along the way, I helped other organizations and individuals build websites. What changed? Is it me? The website builders? Is it too customizable?

All the troubles I’ve had so far come from the product I’ve relied on for almost two decades. The latest round of insults is that WP.c created what’s called a staging site after I redirected my domain DNS. I did not create a staging site. I moved my website. I redirected my hosting. But…with a staging site, WP.c could continue to offer me the chance to return. Did you know there is a WP cloud? Did you know there is a “default” website? Thinking I only had one, I thought carrotranch.com would be my default website. Not so. The staging website, my shadow, was also public! The plugins I purchased went to my default site. Comments went to the default dashboard.

Like a tom turkey, I was strutting around the ranch, thinking I only had one. With less confidence, I will say, I think I’ve got this webstuff under control. I think…I hope…Regardless, I’m going to carry on. Hopefully, your comments will now go to the new website, and not some black hole.

April 9, 2024, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about someone (or something) strutting. What has caused the overconfidence? Is it arrogant? Foolish? Legit? How does strutting shape a story? Have fun and go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by April 15, 2024. 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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16 Comments

  1. Sue Spitulnik

    A WordPress Cloud? I wonder what might be there that I created and have no idea about?
    A rainbor or green cloud I fully understand. My big cat is darn good at hazy brown ones.
    The Wisconsin weekend sounds marvelous.

    Reply
    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha, Sue — yes, big and small kitties make clouds, too. The WP cloud is beneficial. It’s where your site gets backedup. And if you have a plan with Jetpack built in, then the cloud is your security system, too. By moving an all-inclusive WP (.com) site to a freeware WP (.org) site but maintaining the original domain DNS is almost insane. Don’t worry, your cloud is connected to your site. Mine became disconnected when I moved mine. I had to change the default and now I access my hosted dashboard through SiteGround and my WP cloud dashboard through the Jetpack plugin on my main site. Good grief! But everything is progressing!

      Yes, Wisconsin was divine!

      Reply
      • Jules

        Visits with little ones can be fun. I’ll be seeing the twin nephews that are now 2 this month!!

  2. Jules

    Charli,

    I haven’t changed my WP theme in oodles of years. And I am afraid to because I don’t want the ‘Block’ stuff. I don’t like it at all. But a) I didn’t get your new challenge until I went looking – do I need to follow, again? And B) Do you know how to get a comment box without the stupid ‘block format’ that WP has inserted into a good many bloggers sites without asking?

    If you go to my site to leave a comment you will see what it looks like if you haven’t seen it before.
    In this comment box I can leave links like I have always done (This is an example not my post for the prompt…) like: the explanation for a poetic form I created; Issho ni kaita retrans

    Leaving links like that doesn’t work in the ‘Block’ comment box. Folks have tried to help me overcome this deliema but it hasn’t yet worked. Since I am not tech savy and it is darn frustrating.

    Oddly enough – though I don’t recall which I have a vauge recollection of dreaming of phesants or other such walking birdies in a dream last night…

    Yes Grandpeoples are fun!! (((Hugs))) Jules

    Reply
    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules,
      At this time I can’t address the “block” comment box issue because I’m rebuilding everything in Divi Builder and do not yet have a blog “built.” What is showing is a default theme within the Gutenberg press. It is temporary. I’m going to take a hiatus until April 30 to focus on building the blog, pages and submission form. Ha — I feel like a walking bird right now, but have patience, the Ranch will fly again!

      Reply
      • Jules

        Be well and please retian you hair!
        Colleen has instructions for those who pay – about getting rid of the block comment box on a page at Tanka Tuesday. I don’t know what or how that would work with Divi Builder – Good Luck!

  3. Jules

    Charli,

    OK at least the one comment got up… but I had issues with the submission area I got this pop up note which I sent to your email.

    Here’s my take; Perspective

    Reply
    • Charli Mills

      Responded to your emails. Thanks, Jules!

      Reply
      • Jules

        🙂

  4. Melissa Lemay

    I keep being unsubscribed from the site. I have no idea what’s going on.?

    Reply
    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I think it’s going to be bumpy for a bit longer. And then it will be righted and all right, I think.

      Reply
      • Melissa Lemay

        It could be a WordPres issue. It unsubscribes me from blogs all the time. Thankfully I catch your posts, and the posts of others. They prompt me to visit the ranch, and then I fix it.?

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        In this case I’m wondering if it’s still part of the rebuilding/relocating.
        But Huh. I seem to have trouble with some sites too, now that you mention it, and have had to refollow. It’s always something.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Melissa, right now the website is in its new space but everything has to be rebuilt. In theory, all subscribers “moved” with the Ranch, using a plugin. I’ve not decided which plugin to use for email updates, or if Jetpack will remain the default container for the subscriptions. Before I can make that decision, I have to first finish building the blog template. I’m using Divi Builder and have lots of options. Don’t (re)subscribe until the post on April 30 because I think subscriptions are in a black hole right now! I’m going to take a break to get this all finished so we can return to the “same page.” Thank you for your patience!

      Reply
      • Melissa Lemay

        No worries!!?

  5. Norah

    I think time with grandbaby is much more fun than time with coding. Good luck!

    Reply

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