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Saddle Up Saloon;

“What’re ya starin’ at Kid?”

“Jist admirin’ this fine poster Shorty had made fer all the folks that are a part a Carrot Ranch.”

Celebrating Literary Art From Around the World

“Oh, yeah, ain’t thet somethin’? Who was it done thet up?”

“It was a Australian illustrative artist name a Stephanie Davies.”

“Wunner what else she’s about?”

“Ask her, Pal. Here she is now. Howdy, Stephanie, welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon!”

“Hello Kid. Hello Pal. Thank you so much for having me here.”

“Thank you fer makin’ time fer us.”

“I love interesting opportunities so was excited when Charli Mills reached out for me to create the website’s motif. What a pleasure Charli is to work with; she made the quirky task a very pleasant and straight forward one.”

“We’re real pleased with thet piece too, an’ mighty glad ta have it hangin’ here at the Saddle Up. Have ya always been a artist, Stephanie?”

“I sketched as a child, pausing our Video player to try and recapture Disney characters. In 2016 I completed a Visual Arts diploma after receiving lots of encouragement from friends and family when I started sketching again.”

“Sure glad ya come back ta it! Good on yer folks fer encouragin’ ya. What were ya doin’ when ya weren’t at yer sketchin’?”

“My background the past 20 years has been massage therapy, mostly  in offices, where we relax stressed staff from many industries. One of the clients was Walt Disney Animations Australia, massaging the illustrators shoulders at their desks – weekly for 5 years until they closed their Sydney office; as you can imagine that was a tough place to visit. From time to time massage clients were touring celebrities, to help ground and soothe them after lengthy flights and broken sleep.”

“Well thet sounds like a good gig, thet masseusin’.”

“It is. Was. Thanks to Covid restrictions my massage business almost closed. But my art practise has come to the forefront rescuing me emotionally, and ever so slowly, financially.”

“It’s good ta hear somethin’ good outta present circumstances. ”

“Yep. Stephanie, how would ya describe yersef as an artist?”

“I’m quite an experimental artist (and cook). I dabble in a variety of media and intend to continue the adventure. Though a regular user of acrylic and watercolour paints, I find myself regularly coming back to a simple sketch with pencil on paper.”

“Reckon thet’s where ideas git their start, kinda like sketchin’ out a raw 99-word story ta grow later.”

“Sure, Pal and this year I’ve had a number of requests for digital art including Charli’s and a picture book to illustrate which is a childhood dream of mine.”

 “Well good luck with thet! Mebbe there’s some picture book writers here in the saloon need a good illustrator.”

“Good thinkin’, Pal. Stephanie, I’m wund’rin’ where ya git yer inspiration fer yer art.”

“Well Kid, my eleven and fourteen year old redheads keep me inspired. I sketch them reading and writing their own stories on a regular basis. Beyond that I find great interest in the relationship between animals and man and how we can live together cohesively on this crazy planet.” 

 “We got all kinds a animals roamin’ the ranch, an’ not jist hosses an’ cattle. We got rainbow cats an’ uni-corns an’ mice…”

“That’s great, Kid, very inspiring! This is an eclectic and quirky place! It reminds me of my illustrative idol, Freya Blackwood, with her relatable quirky lovable characters and effortless sketching style.”

“Well, it looks like yer not too far off the mark yersef there, Stephanie. What are ya workin’ on lately?”

“Currently my canvas is a 20 foot Shipping Container! The request was for ‘The Aussie Bush’ an outback scene of gum trees, cockatoos and kangaroos to help it blend into a property North of Brisbane (where it will be shipped to) in Queensland Australia.”

“Kin we see it?”

“Sure Kid.”

“Whoa! Thet is so cool!”

“Thank you.  At nights I’m also working on children’s picture book illustrations via my iPad so I get to sit on my comfy couch to do it.  I also have a butterfly passion at the moment… sketching and colouring with watercolour.”

“Thet’s real purty.”

“Dang. D’ya git any spare time? Ya seem mighty busy fer someone who’s outta business.”

“When I get any spare time, I’m working on a little picture book story idea of my own. I don’t feel writing is my strength, however I have the images and cute story asking to be brought to life.”

“We know a little ‘bout that, Stephanie. Git it writ!”

“Ha! Okay Kid, we’ll see. I can’t wait to see what’s next, I’m loving my artistic path.”

“Well we’re real glad yer path took ya ta the Saddle Up Saloon! Didn’t ‘spect ta see a masseuse mother a two in a place like this.”

“The Saddle Up is so open to art! When chance takes me I adore soulful music and a warm spirit in hand.”

 “We got thet here.”

 “This moody feel will come out in works to come, likely using coffee, red wine, and beetroot juice.”

“Whoa. Soun’s like we need ta serve yer drinks with a brush.”

“Reckon this one kin really paint the town, ey Pal?”

“She sure has brought some color ta the Saloon. Thank ya fer stoppin’ by Stephanie Davies. Let us know when yer website is up an’ runnin’. In the mean time folks should know ta find ya at .”

Free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch, Pal & Kid now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon . Got something to share? Take the stage! If you or your characters are interested in saddling up for a wild ride as a saloon guest, contact Pal & Kid via

Winner Announced! (Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: Wanted Alive.

A Rodeo Contest inspired by the green eyes of a wanted poster. Goldie announces the winner to Rodeo #4…

One day at a time...

If you remember, in October, we tightened our grips on the reins and we Rodeoed. Four weeks, four hosts, four contests, four winners, four prizes! Thanks to Charli and the Carrot Ranch, I was able to not only participate in those writing challenges, but also host one.

When I volunteered, I was not sure what to expect, but since I like trying new things, I just went for it. When the time arrived, I came up with a prompt (quote + masterpiece painting), crossed my finger, and hoped for the best.

If you would like to read more about the contest or maybe even write a story of your own (outside of the contest), take a look here -> (Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: “Wanted Alive”. (You should also check it out if you had missed my art.)

All I could think of was: “What if no one enters?” I wondered…

View original post 572 more words

Saddle Up Saloon; Recipe Rustlin’ Character Klatsch

“Kid, I feel like we come back strong after thet vacation. We’ve had author Sean Prentiss here at the Saddle Up, then a bunch a fine readings fer 5 At the Mic an’ jist this past week, T. Marie Bertineau, Keweenaw author of The Mason House. What’s the plan fer this week?”

“Pal, folks’ll be busy but’ll have food an’ family on their minds this week so we’re jist gonna see if folks got recipes ta share, mebbe a story ta go with it.”

“Thet’s a good idea. Hey! Weren’t the ranch hands goin’ on ‘bout avocado toast over at the ranch? I’ll ride on over there an’ git thet avocado toast link.”

“It’s slow here, Pal, I’ll ride with ya. Mebbe come up with somethin’ ta contribute.”


Meanwhile, back at the Saloon… it’s Ramona Gordon, from the WIP of Charli Mills:

“Kid? Pal? Anyone here? I’m here with dinner for you! Hallooo? Well, I’m going to leave it on the counter with the recipe.”

Ramona Gordon’s Family Spaghetti


2 pounds ground beef

10 mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 large red onion, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 carrots grated


1 quart canned tomatoes from the garden (or 28 oz can from the store)

1 8-oz can tomato paste

1 tsp. dried basil

5-10 sloshes of tabasco sauce

1 tsp. Mexican oregano

1 tsp. dried, crumbled rosemary

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

Simmer on low for three hours

Make 16 oz Spaghetti Noodles according to the box

Double everything for company and serve with a green salad and garlic bread.

“There’s the recipe. No one here, so I’m going to wet my whistle with a wee smidge of apple cider while I wait.”


Meanwhile, still riding back to the Ranch…

“Dang you, Kid, ya wanted ta ride along, but now ya ain’t bein’ present. Shouldn’t ya put thet book down an’ watch where yer goin’?”

“Hoss knows the way. I’m readin’ Bowled But Not Out, by Ruchira Khanna. It’s ‘a delightful story of a conventional Delhi girl who finds herself in the eye of a storm’.”

“Sounds good. Read some ta me, Kid.”

“Okay. Saru entered her unadorned apartment after a grueling day at the University. The thick textbooks needed attention since assignments were due. Frost swirls coated the windows and created a rime on ledges. 

Cold winds were knocking on her window as if wanting to come in. Fatigue and sleep were overpowering her brain as she eyed her mattress and the comforter, but her will power wanted to work on her homework. 

“I wish I’d learned how Momsy used to make that strong cup of tea every morning for me,” she muttered. She looked at her watch, calculated the time back in India, and made a call using her calling card.

“Mom, I have only two minutes on my card.”  Saru came to the point. “Please tell me what all you used to add to my cup of tea every morning?”

“Pour one and a half cup of water in a pan. 

Crush 8 inches of ginger, two cloves, two cardamoms. 

Let the water boil. 

Allow it to turn pale brown. 

Add half a cup of milk.

Add two teaspoons of loose black tea or two tea bags.

Add one teaspoon of sugar.

Boil until the liquid develops a dark brown color.

Sieve and pour into your cup. That’s Saru’s ginger tea!”

“Kid! There’s a recipe! We kin serve thet ginger tea with the avocado toast!”

“Yeah. A good start on recipe rustlin’.”

“Hey Kid, let’s pull over ta this place here, rest the hosses. Mebbe have a snack. Funny I ain’t never noticed this place afore.”

“That’s ‘cause it’s fictional, with fictional characters, but I recognize ‘em from the Ranch. That’s Lexi an’ Tessa, they’s writ by Sue Spitulnik. You know, Michael an’ his band played at the Saddle Up Saloon one time.”

“Oh yeah. Well speakin’ a rustlin’ recipes, look whut Lexi’s up to.”

“What is she up to? She’s rustlin’ through a recipe box, but is she rifflin’ or riflin’?”

“Let’s keep it fam’ly frien’ly, Kid, no riflin’. Jist rifflin’”

“Gotcha. Okay, let’s lissen in on these characters.”


Lexi riffled through her mother’s recipe box. “Hey, Date Nut Bread. Wasn’t this your Grandma’s recipe? Why did you stop making it? I remember the loaf never lasted long.”

Tessa smiled at the memory. “The loaf disappeared because I ate most of it. I sliced it warm so the butter melted. I ate it cold with tons of butter. I hid the last slices for me. It’s one of those treats I can’t leave alone.”

“Well I think we should make some for the holidays. Will you give me a lesson?”

“We’ll have to get dates.”

“I’ll go now.”

Date Nut Bread

1 cup chopped dates or one box

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup hot tap water

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbs. butter-room temperature

1 egg

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Coarsely chop dates and put in small bowl. Sprinkle the baking soda over them, and then cover with hot water. Make sure all the dates are immersed. Let cool while mixing the rest of ingredients. In a medium sized bowl cream sugar and butter, add the egg and cream again.

Add the dry ingredients. Mixture will be thick.

​Add water from dates to the mixture and mix till smooth then dump in the rest of dates and liquid and nuts. Stir until just mixed.

Pour into greased bread pan. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 


“Yeehaw! We rustled anuther recipe! Soun’s like a good one too. ‘Cept I seem ta have trouble findin’ dates.”

“Mebbe somethin’ ta do with all yer kids.”

“Ya mean my goats?”


Meanwhile, back at the Saloon… Ramona’s grandson Ike Gordon and his wife Danni, from the WIP of Charli Mills, have just showed up:

“Mo wants us to bring her garlic toast recipe by the Saddle Up?”

“Yep. Here it is:

Garlic Toast

Dig garlic from Grandma’s patch when she’s not looking or she’ll come after you with a hoe.

Get your wife to peel it and chop it up into tiny pieces.

Add it to a stick of butter and nuke it.

Use a brush (not your wife’s archeology brushes) and get butter and garlic on two halves of French bread.

Have Grandma stick it in the oven.

Steal a piece when Grandma is slicing it (tastes best stolen).

“Ike, I’m not sure this is a legitimate recipe.”

“Sure it is. That’s how I make garlic toast.”

“With your court case pending, you’d best strike that last line.”

“Hey, is that Grandma’s spaghetti pot on the saloon counter?”


Meanwhile, having collected the avocado toast recipes from the Ranch and riding back to the Saloon…

“Feel like we been gone a while, Kid. Hope ever’thin’s okay at the Saloon.”

“What could go wrong Pal? Hey. Listen.”

“Bethenia Ann Harris! You let the biscuits burn to a crisp again! I doubt the hogs will even eat them.”

“Why, Kid, now we’ve come across some characters from Donna Armistead’s WIP, her first YA novel, inspired by family stories about her great-grandparents, who farmed 100 acres in Georgia on the eve of the Civil War.”

“Yer right. Hey there, Bethenia. I’m Kid, this here’s Pal.”

“Oh, hello. Don’t mind my Aunt Eliza’s hollering. It’s just that Aunty despaired that I would ever amount to any kind of a cook in spite of all her efforts to teach me. Her specialty was her apple stack cake, which folks clamored for whenever we had a dinner on the grounds. Here is her recipe as far as I can recall:

Aunt Eliza’s Apple Stack Cake

You need about 8 to 12 cups of dried apples. Fresh won’t work, nor will applesauce…make the cake too soggy. Simmer them in a saucepan with about 3 cups of water, 2 pounds of sugar and a couple teaspoons each of cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses. Mash into a thick paste and set aside to cool.

Now for the layers. It’s a deal of work! Sift together four and a half cups flour, a teaspoon each of salt and baking powder, half a teaspoon of soda and a big pinch of cinnamon. Then cream together 6 ounces butter, a cup and a quarter of sugar, three quarters of a cup molasses (sorghum works too) and 2 eggs which you beat in one at a time. Add in the dry mix, alternating with half a cup of buttermilk a little at a time, till you get a stiff batter. Roll into a ball, wrap and cool for a spell in the spring house.

When it’s cold, divide and roll out in 6 or 8 equal circles. You can use a cake pan to trim the circles. Aunt Eliza said it works better to bake them not in pans, but on a sheet in a slow oven for about ten minutes. This takes a while, depending on how many you can fit in the oven at a time.

When the layers are cool, spread a cup or so of the apple filling on one, and build your layers. Now, this is important: Wrap the cake in dish towels and leave it set in a cool place for at least a day. This way, the flavors will blend real good. You can dust the top with fine sugar, if you’ve got any, right before serving.

Make sure everybody gets a slice before Uncle Frank and old Mr. James Timothy Hardy come back for seconds. Because they will, if I know them.

“That soun’s real fine, Bethenia, thank ya so much fer the recipe. Reckon ya better git back ta yer Aunt an’ to yer story now.”

“An’ we best git back ta the Saloon, Kid. Bye Bethenia.”


Sometime later, almost back at the Saloon…

“Feel like we been gone a while, Kid. Hope ever’thin’s okay at the Saloon.”

“Almost there, Pal. Oh, somebody showed up. Idaho plates…”


Meanwhile, back inside the Saloon… Ramona’s grandson Ike Gordon and his wife Danni, from the WIP of Charli Mills are still here; but where’d Ramona go? Oh yeah, she was going to just wet her whistle with a wee smidge of apple cider while she waited for Kid and Pal to show up:

“That is your Grandma’s spaghetti pot on the bar. I thought it smelled like her spaghetti in here. But she only said that we needed to drop off recipes for Kid and Pal. Where are they, anyways?”

“Who knows? Kid’s an odd one. He writes poetry and keeps goats.”


“Pal, did you hear that guy?”

“Yep, Kid I did.”


“I don’t like goats, Ike.”

“You and our writer.”

“Pal! We gotta git in there!”

“Hey, Danni, want a cider? I’ll leave tenner on the counter for the bar keeps who ain’t keeping.”

“Pal, that’s Danni Gordon! She seemed nicer when she was here before.”

“Oh, yeah, thet archeologist. I ‘member her from yet anuther visit.”

“A Sierra Pale Ale would be great, Ike. Pal keeps them in the small fridge.”

“Mo! Hey, Danni, Mo’s on the floor behind the bar!”

“Hey! Hi! Ho! Whoa! Mo? Yo, Ike! Oh, no! Kid, the old broad’s hit the boards.”

“What Pal? Oh, no! Did she fall?”

“Grandma, are you hurt? It’s me Ike.”

“Where’s the…hic…Twins?”

“Ike, is Grandma—“

“Than a skunk! She smells like a still.”


“What’s that jug?”


“Not cider, Mo. This is hooch!”

“This is a recipe for disaster!”

“We better get her home, Ike. Sober her up with coffee.”

“Cowboy Coffee?”

“Of course.”

“What’s thet recipe, Ike? I’ll git it goin’.”

Cowboy Coffee

“Fill percolator with water, preferably clean. Toss a heap of ground coffee and eggshells to settle the grounds. Put over a fire and bring to a boil. It’s not cooked until you can stand a spoon in it. Will sober up any whiskey-laden cowboy who needs to get on a horse.”

“But will it sober up Ike’s Granma?”

“Jist don’t let her drive.”

“Hic… I can drive the cattle!…hic… Down in the valley…”

“Danni, Ike, what’re the three a ya even doin’ here?”

“Mo— Ramona— Ike’s Granma– said to drop some recipes off for you.”

“Thet’s yer story?”

“Yes. That’s our story. Now, I’d be thankful if I could have that Sierra Pale Ale, Pal.”

“Sure thing, Danni. Folks, if ya got a recipe an’ a story ta go along with it, they’s plenny a room in the comment boxes. What’re yer characters cookin’ up?”

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 more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via

November 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

Wolferick III has claimed a crack between the wall and wooden frame that encloses a porcelain Yooper Pooper in the basement. Yes, I have a random toilet downstairs and a wolf spider on guard duty about five squares of toilet paper away from the seat.

It’s hard to know where to go next with this story. Do I tell you about the spider or the toilet? Today is World Toilet Day so porcelain wins top billing in this tale. At one time, my toilet stood alone in the open expanse of space where homeowners stored their coal for winter heat. A large antique sink, something I’d call a laundry tray, is mounted next to the toilet.

In 1859, the Quincy Mining Company founded the city of Hancock whose modern population is 4,549 people, give or take several hundred Finlandia College students. Quincy Mine with its massive hoist house sits on the hill above my house on Roberts Street. This was a working-class neighborhood where miners worked the shaft called Old Reliable for 83 years.

In the blip of existence, 83 years is a grandma still driving on her own. But in US mining time, 83 years was stability for two or three generations before it joined the boom and bust cycles prevalent out west where I grew up. Someone constructed my home when work felt stable enough to commit rock foundations and pipes to a family dwelling, around 1905.

My neighbor has a ghost of a toilet past in her basement. She reminded me that in addition to toilet and sink, builders included a drain. It’s handy because I can hose the toilet the way I used to clean bathrooms as a teen when I worked for a state park campground with six public restrooms.

While it makes sense that the lone basement toilet provided a place for a dirty miner to clean up before entering the upstairs living areas, the drain feature hints at another use. My friend and historian, Robin Hammer Mueller, shared an article with me that explains old-time plumbing. The toilet downstairs acted as an overflow in case of a backup.

Or, as other friend said, it was Grandpa’s toilet, Dad’s toilet, something to claim with pride in the dark recesses of the house.

If you read Robin’s shared article, let me explain the difference between a Pittsburg potty and a Yooper pooper — location. Da Yooper is someone from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and you can glean many insights from these authentic locals, including a brief look at an outdoor toilet also known as a Yooper pooper:

My local friends have also informed me that a baby from the UP is also a Yooper pooper, so it’s an informative phrase.

As for the lone toilet, Minnesota has dem too, ya, sure, you betcha (I still remember how to speak Minnesotan).

Maybe we laugh because poop is an uncomfortable topic despite the fact that everyone does it. Listen to Morgan Friedman. He reads Everybody Poops by Taro Gomi (I once heard an Elvis impersonator read this book at a Montana vaudeville show and it is burned into my brain as hilarious). Morgan is more dignified.

But for many, toileting is no laughing matter. Another friend informed me that over 850k people a year die because of a lack of proper toilets. In previous years of following World Toilet Day, I found out that girls and women are susceptible to rape when trying to find a place to go. Imagine the stress and worry.

When I didn’t have a toilet to call my own, I developed a hyper-vigilant bladder and once faced a charging moose to get to a vault toilet because I had to poop. Yet, I also wonder, how did everyone poop thousands of years ago? I’d love to know how Indigenous ancestors lived as one with the land, not contaminating their environment.

Would humanity solve toileting issues if we mentioned it more in literature? How often does a novelist mention toilets in a book? Do you? Well, now is your chance to practice writing about toilets. We will get back to Wolferick III another time.

TWO WEEK DEADLINE: due to the holiday in the US, Carrot Ranch is taking an extended week break. Stories are due December 1.

November 19, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that glorifies a toilet. Capture the marvel and status and love for a contraption we’d rather not mention. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 1, 2020. 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.

The Prized Possession by Charli

Opal prized something more than her grandmother’s Corning teapot. Leonard had hollowed a dead tree in spring after thaw. He and three pals from the mine heaved their backs and pickaxes to carve a year-round drainage system for their new home below Quincy Mine. It made the attic space above her uncle’s bar more tolerable to know she’d soon have a home for her children. The hardwood floors and oak staircase were fine craftsmanship, but the porcelain seat downstairs captivated Opal’s awe. Who’d have thought such privacy existed? For the love of God, she’d have her own inside toilet.


Avocado Toast

From farm staple to foodie extravagance, avocado toast is both simple and gourmet.

Writers responded to the tasty prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

PART I (10-minute read)

Avocado, The Conundrum by Geoff Le Pard

‘What is that?’
‘You’re going to eat it?’
‘It’s a superfood.’
‘Is that like saying something is super good when normal people say very…?’
‘And when you say ‘normal’ people you mean people like you?’
‘Your point?’
‘You hate change.’
‘I do not. I use hand cream. I’ve even trimmed my ear hairs. My old dad would never have done either.’
‘He like avocado.’
‘No he didn’t. Is that what that is?’
‘On organic sourdough toast with tahini shrooms and…’
‘My dad never ate avocado.’
‘Yes he did. With his fish supper…’
‘Morgan, they were mushy peas…’


Avocado on Toast by Anita Dawes

Who decided we could eat such a thing?
I cannot think of anything worse to put in my mouth
Now that is a lie. I could probably write a long list
Of things that should never go near anyone’s mouth
Avocado, in my mind, must have been planted by aliens
As some kind of April Fool’s joke
Like lambs to the slaughter, humans went for it
Chefs charge a fortune, look at me I have five stars
This is what you get, soap on toast
A nightmare on a rope
My tip, don’t eat the stuff…


The Grinch by Ruchira Khanna

“What is that green thingie on my toast?” I inquired with flared nostrils.

“Oh! Sweetie, that’s avocado. It’s supposed to be very healthy for you.” Mom said in a gentle voice as she got busy with the cleanup.

“I just want my PB&J sandwich.” I moaned.

“Besides, I will end up becoming a grinch if I eat these toasts.”

“Who said?” Mom inquired with hands on her hips and a crossed brow.

“Marsha said her brother has turned green ever since he ate avocados.”

Then with a brief pause, “I don’t want to hate Christmas by becoming a grinch.”


Lystra Rejects Breakfast by Jeff Gard

“Mom, it tastes funny.” Lystra’s face collapses around her puckered nose.

I take a bite of her avocado toast. The bread crunches correctly, but the spread tastes metallic like fruit from a can.

“It’s fine,” I lie.

The tip of her tongue touches the green paste. She immediately licks her sleeve and frowns.

“I want to go home.”

Out the window, Earth shrinks to a green and blue marble, glowing in an oil spill sky. I invite Lystra into my lap and stroke her hair. She melts into my chest like a warm handprint on frosted glass.

“Me, too.”


Second Breakfast by Chel Owens

Janie did not like green food. When her mother placed Janie’s toast in front of her, then, she stared at the green slices in consternation.

“What’s this?”

“Breakfast, Honey.” Mother smiled and ate a bite of her own.

“It’s green.”

“Mmm. Yes.”

“It’s green mush.”

“Mmm. Yes.”

Mom wasn’t going to helpful. Janie pushed her fork against the offensive topping. It smooshed and slimed against the tines, leaving green behind it on the bread. “Ew!” she cried. “I’m having normal toast!”

“Suit yourself,” Mom said. While Janie was at the toaster, Mom reached across and ate her daughter’s serving.


Yes, He’ll Do…by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They lay before him, twin treats on crunchy multigrain. Both promised exotic pleasure, both things he’d never imagined trying on his own. She’d wanted to woo him with her cooking skills. Otherwise intelligent, funny as hell, and gorgeous in nothing but his dress shirt, she was worth the risk.

“This one is avocado toast, with homemade pineapple salsa, a dash of cayenne, and a splash of lime for brightness?”

She nodded.

“And that brown one is gjetost, with a swipe of unsalted butter?”

He tried one, then the other, and was pleasantly surprised.


He must really love her.


Breakfasting Alone by Sue Spitulnik

As soon as Michael told Tessa he had to go to Walter Reed she made a grocery list. There were some things he refused to eat so she had them as guilty pleasures when he was away. She had never mastered picking the perfect purplish-green orbs, so would buy three. They were a pain to peel without getting the slimy meat on her hands, and the pit often flew across the room when she removed it, but the avocado mashed on a hot buttery piece of toast was worth the trouble. How soon did he say he was leaving?


Avocado Lover by Jessica E. Larsen

“Who wants avocado?” I asked one day.

My husband smiled. I already expected it when he joked, “Ah that tasteless fruit?”

I used to have friendly banter with him about it. Avocado is one of my favorite fruits. I won’t let anyone make fun of it. However, today I only made a face. I spread the beautiful green fruit on top of a toasted bread and serve it with sun-dried tomatoes. “One avocado toast.” His smile widens as he whispered to me, “You’re the best.”

My four-year-old peered at me. “Where’s mine?”

We exchanged smiles. Yep. Another avocado lover.


One Writer’s Journeys by Saifun Hassam

Madeleine stopped for brunch at a road-side cafe, “The Scrambled Spread.” Her eyes lit up when she saw avocado toast on the menu.

She remembered her early days as a writer, enjoying Sunday brunch at a neighborhood cafe. “Sunny Side Cafe.” Scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes, avocado toast, dark roast coffee. Scribbling thoughts into a notepad.

She savored her chicken-avocado sandwich, with avocado toast to go.

The scenic coastal highway curved northwards. She was on her way to Fort Ross, researching California’s 19th-century Russian settlements. She was writing historical fiction of the Spanish, Mexican and Russian history along the Pacific.


No Guac!? Donna Matthews

Tina and Barbara stood in the burrito line, looking over the menu, when Tina sighed.

“What??” asked Barbara.

“I can’t wait until I can order guac, and when they say ‘That’ll be extra.’ I won’t care.”

“Why do you care now?” countered Barbara.

Tina stammered…”Well, it’s extra, and I can’t really afford extra things right now.”

“How do you not afford guac? Avocado is a staple! Avocado toast, guacamole, avocado BLTs!”

“It’s all about priorities,” continued Barbara. “You’ve gotta pick and chose what’s important, necessary, AND delicious!”

Tina brightened and faced the burrito server, “I’ll take guac on that!”


Dress It Up by Ann Edall-Robson

A loud snort was heard as the last of the cowboys came into the kitchen. Plates of food sat untouched on the table, ranch hands staring at their breakfast. Rummaging around in the cook’s fridge was forbidden but he’d take one for the team if he had to.

“Got any onions, garlic, hot sauce?”

“Stay out of my fridge!”

“No offence, ma’am, but if you expect us to eat this sh..stuff, maybe dress it up. How ‘bout with tortilla, beans, bacon, and eggs. Never heard of just avocado on toast.”

Sobs choked her words.

“That’s all there is.”


Nando and the Avocado by R. V. Mitchell

Ferdinando was put simply a party animal. He was renowned for his decadence. For Nando late nights followed by champagne breakfasts, and sirloin lunches were the norm. But when his lifestyle started to catch up with him in his late forties, he decided to bite the bullet and see the doctor.

The medical advice was clear, he would have to get more sleep and eat a more nutritious and balanced diet.

Well after consulting his dietary plan he decided that “avocado toast” sounded a good breakfast option. How bad could a slice of avocado be in a martini anyway?


Smashed Avocados by Doug Jacquier

Why are you still renting, son?’
‘Because I can’t save enough to buy.’
‘But you’ve just been overseas.’
‘It’s called a rite of passage, Dad.’
‘Is that a new phone you’ve got?’
‘Yes. This one’s 5G and has an amazing camera.’
‘How’s the car running?’
‘Don’t start that again. All cars will be electric soon.’
‘So do you ever plan to buy a house?’
‘Of course … well, maybe …maybe never. Depends on whether Zoe and I get serious.’
‘Holidays, latest phone, latest car, different girl every month and every morning for breakfast, smashed avocado. That plan is toast.’


Avocado Toast by FloridaBorne

“What is that?” Mother asked.

“Avocado toast.”

“It looks like guacamole on overcooked bread,” Mother said.

“You’re free to find something else in my fridge to eat,” I replied.

“Where’s the mayo…and meat?” she asked, searching through my fridge.
“I’m vegan.”

She took her flip phone out of her purse, found a well-used phone number and asked, “Eddie’s Pizza? Yeah. I’d like to order the Medium all meat pizza with extra cheese.”

Twenty minutes later, she flipped open the box and asked, “Wanna slice?”

I couldn’t help myself. I swear my fingers and mouth have minds of their own!


Avocado Toast by Bill Engleson

I don’t mean to boast,
Don’t mean to crow,
But I love my toast
Smothered wide and deep
with avocado.

Avocado dreams, they sure fill my cup,
Breakfast love or my evening sup,
A midnight snack when sleep won’t flow,
A slice of toasted bread
smeared with avocado.

I‘m a pretty good host
Like to put on a show,
Cook up a veggie roast
And a very slow baked
sweet potato.

Avocado dreams, they sure fill my cup,
Breakfast love or my evening sup,
A midnight snack when sleep won’t flow,
A slice of toasted bread
smeared with avocado.


Avocado Toast by Frank Hubeny

For years Bill enjoyed beer, pizza and ice-cream. When diagnosed with an autoimmune disease he changed his diet.

Someone told him to stop drinking beer. He stopped. Someone suggested avocado toast. What’s that? He was told it’s obvious what that is. So he tried it. Someone said to stop eating pizza. Is that because of the wheat? Yes. There goes the toast.

Bill’s weight sank to normal and he felt better. He noticed he was spending less on food than before. Thankfully no one told him to stop eating avocados, but then he no longer asked them for advice.


Tea and Sympathy by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“What’s the plan for today?” he asked.

Georgia watched out the window as squirrels chased each other through new-fallen snow, then up and around the trunk of the red oak they’d planted at Jessi’s birth. Snow chunks dropped like overcooked spuds.

“Temps must be rising. Might be good for a hike later.”

She pulled on her coffee, felt the burn, the reactive tears. Good.

He pushed the untouched plate of avocado toast her way. “It’s not your fault. We’ll video chat with Jessi later.”

“I was asymptomatic and didn’t wear a mask. And now our daughter’s in the hospital.”


Absolutely Nothing by Jeff Gard

Avocados dangle like testicles from a tree in our backyard. Some fruit has fallen where squirrels and rodents can tear into its black, warty flesh.

“Are you sure?” I ask.

Doris scrapes burnt toast over the sink. Charcoal dust coats the stainless steel.

“All the tests say the same thing.”

“There’s nothing we can do?”

Doris starts spreading thick green paste onto the toast, then stops. She slumps into a chair at the table opposite me, leaving our breakfast just out of reach. She stares at the swollen trees while gutted avocado shells rot on our counter.

“Absolutely nothing.”


Sophie Can Dream by Eliza Mimski

The avocado is the vagina of foods. A slick-rich treat of green heaven. A green world waiting for the tongue. It also waits for the toast.

The toast. That square gluten bed of arousal. Day mattress where the knife spreads the green.

Sophie had been single for so long that yes, she now ascribed sexual meaning to her food. Her olive salad as a bed of eyes waiting for her to undress. Her carrots were tall orange strangers that made her faint.

Tonight, yes tonight, she would have rib-eye steak. Near the bone, the fat sopped up the juices.


Haunted by Her Carbon Footprint by Anne Goodwin

Selena thought they resembled hand grenades, but beneath the toady carapace the flesh was melt-in-the-mouth divine. Yes, the price had doubled recently, but avocado on toast would set her up for a successful day.

Three packets in her trolley, she moved on to the bakery counter. Turning her head, a trail of sooty footprints marked her path from the greengrocery section. Yet the soles of her shoes were pristine.

With a sigh, she retraced her steps. She knew the drill. She could scrub the floor she’d sullied. Or return the airfreighted produce that depleted the rainforests to the shelf.


A Separation Tale by Charli Mills

Maria padded across the road to gather dropped avocados where the foreman lived in a huge ivory house. It didn’t smell of beans and tortillas like her tiny home. It felt cold; its size scared her. When vehicles slid to a stop in front of the bunks, Maria hid behind a hedge of pink roses. Her throat pinched shut at the sight of her Abuela in silver bracelets that imprisoned her hands. The men in black uniforms loaded all the neighbors in two vans and left. When her Papa did not return at noon, she ate avocado toast alone.


Avocado Toast by Joanne Fisher

“Hey honey, have you seen the avocados I bought?” I asked Jen who was looking at her phone.

“Sorry I had avocado toast for lunch.”

“But I was planning to make a guacamole dip for tonight.” I told her. She just shrugged her shoulders and resumed scrolling through her phone. I stared at her evilly.

Later the guests arrived and marveled at all the food I prepared.

“Oh wow you made some salsa!” One guest said. “It tastes a bit weird though.”

“Yeah sorry about that, it was made with whatever I found in the kitchen at the time.”


(24) Damned Family (Jesse Begins Seriously Reading Norman’s Journal) by JulesPaige

Jesse believed she now had the job of finding out more about Norman and this mysterious journal that he kept. She believed she saw his dead body in her hotel room when she had gone to her family reunion. Her own job was flexible, working for herself, which she did even though her own family inheritance had left her more than comfortable. But she had never really had a handle on what Norman did. Something for the government.

Jesse sat down and flipped the journal pages. She discovered Norman wrote poetry. An outlet for both his frustrations and creativity.


(25) Damned Family by JulesPaige

To be heard
How absurd
Spreading avocado on toast
Just to boast
That I exist
I know you’ve woke –
I don’t have to poke
you awake
I’ll stake
My reputation
If I ever had one
Just to have some fun
To breathe, to live
To love, to give
Let you gift me a new toaster
When the this one I’ve used
Possibly abused
Happens to break down
So please don’t frown
In the morning’s light

It had been Norman’s job in his brief marriage to make breakfast. He had to keep up appearances of having a normal job.


Toast by D. Avery

In the beginning we both adored avocado toast for breakfast. Together we peeled and pitted. We ate avocado toast out of each other’s hands.
In the end of the beginning I suggested other breakfast foods, reminisced about eggs. Oatmeal even, with raisins. Surely an avocado aficionado would also appreciate raisins and oats. But you insisted on only, always, avocado on toast.
In the beginning of the end I slumped at the counter slurping oatmeal while you crunched overdone toast smeared with over-ripe avocado.
In the end I let you rush to that meeting with avocado stuck in your mustache.


Avocado on Toast by Hugh W. Roberts

What signal will you give when you’re ready to go?

I always met Carl at this restaurant. But this foggy Thursday evening was much different.

The waiter looked at me peculiarly when I ordered two portions of avocado on toast.

A sudden burst of cold air crossed the table as he placed two plates of green coloured toast in front of me.

I couldn’t thank him. I couldn’t move, yet my ears picked up the sound of Carl’s voice cutting through the foggy night.

“Good. You’re ready. I’ve been waiting for your signal. I told you I’d come to get you when you ordered avocado on toast for us.


George is My Friend by Gloria McBreen

I often passed him by; the man sitting at the lake in a black shabby coat, and tattered old cap. Today I stopped.

‘I’m George. I’m 79 today,’ he smiled. He told me about himself. He offered to share his special birthday picnic with me. I declined, as I watched his dirty hands lifting the lid of his lunchbox.

‘Actually…yes please,’ I blurted.

He cut his avocado in half. He handed me my share, and a tiny wooden spoon.

‘A birthday toast to you George.’

When we bumped our avocado halves together, I knew I’d made a new friend.


Lydia Avocado Parker by Simon

I met her several times in that restaurant, I was never brave to talk with her.

One day she served me. I had ordered Asian pear crostini. But she gave me Avocado toast on my plate.

I hated that food, I asked her to replace, her face was nervous she looked at her manager, I lied her, pretended I liked it and tasted a delicious food in my life.

I proposed to her, as a sign of acceptance she gave two Avocado toast, and that’s how it all began with “Lydia Avocado” she giggled and said it’s Lydia Parker.


Avocado Toast by kathy70

My year started out very different for me, I became a “professional” house sitter in a very urban setting and completely embracing city life.  Changes in my attitude and outlook impacted everything. Yes, I grew up in the city at a very different time.  Now, this was a choice.

Breakfast would be a walk to the coffee house for some avocado toast and coffee. Afternoons spent in a small museum or specialty shop, a true feeling of discovering myself and making conscious choices. Always thought retirement would mean a slow down not a speed up. Guess I was wrong.


Avocado on Rye by Kerry E.B. Black

Georganne drummed her fingernails, lips stretched thin. She swallowed back her temper and whispered, “You idiot.”

Tony ruffled a hand through neglected locks and smiled. “Come on, G. It’ll be great.”

She shook her head. “It takes hours to cook a Thanksgiving feast, and I work until 3.”

“Can’t you take off?” He dodged the death daggers her expression launched. “With quarantine, they have nowhere to go.” When her expression didn’t soften, he worried his lower lip. “Wait! I’ll cook.”

She snorted. “You can’t even make toast without burning it!”

He nodded. “Yeah, but I cut a mean avocado.”


Ahead a Ther Time by D. Avery

“Figgered ya’d be whinin’ ‘bout this prompt, Kid.”
“Ha! We’re all set. Avocado toast’s been on the Saddle Up Saloon menu since the get go.”
“It has?”
“Jeez, Pal. Pay attenchen. Thinkin’ we’ll add pasties to the menu too.”
“Oh, now thet’s a good idea. Kin we do thet afore November 16 when T. Marie Bertineau takes the stage?”
“Sure kin, Pal. An’ folks kin be thinkin’ now on recipes an’ reminisces fer November 23’s Recipe Rustlin’ at the Saloon. Heck, contact us at , mebbe ya kin take the stage, tellin’ ‘bout favorite fam’ly an’ their foods.”


AND The 2020 Carrot Ranch Writing Rodeo’s Third Event Winner Is:

Masha Ingrao announces the winners of the third Flash Fiction Rodeo and Carrot Ranch trips over the reblog! Go here to read the full details:

Saddle Up Saloon; House At the Corner

“Pal, what’s up with that title? Who’d ya rope in this week? Winnie the Pooh?”

“Nope, got ourselves anuther writer, someone from the Keweenaw, up aroun’ World Headquarters.”

“Ya still ain’t ‘splained the title.”

“The house is The Mason House. Thet was T. Marie Bertineau’s gramma’s house, a place a happy times fer her when she was a girl. It’s also the title a Ms. Bertineau’s debut book, one thet Charli Mills suggests serves as a healing bridge between cultures. Says thet the town a Mason and Bertineau hersef could be considered as being at the ‘innersection a cultures’. Innersection— corner; get it?”

“Charli Mills?”

“Yep, Kid, we ain’t the first ta git ta innerview Ms. Bertineau. If ya wanna see her book launch, hosted by Lanternfish Press an’ moderated by Charli Mills, click HERE. In thet innerview Ms. Bertineau allows as how she come ta realize her book is a bridge to cultural identity, a connecting ta heritage. Thinkin’ as we git ta meet this writer we’re gonna see all kinds a connections.”

“Yep, I read it too Pal. Her gramma give her a sense a belongin’, a safe place. Like we have at Carrot Ranch. Oh, Pal, here she is! Howdy T. Marie Bertineau! Welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“Yep, welcome Ms. Bertineau, thank you fer makin’ time fer us. I’m Pal, this here’s Kid.”

“Well, aaniin and hello there! I’m pleased to meet you and appreciate the invitation! I’ve heard so much about the Saloon, so it’s nice to finally see it in person! And please, call me Theresa.”

“I got all kindsa questions fer ya, Ms. Ber— Theresa.”

“They ‘bout her book, Kid?”

“Heck no! Pal, she’s from up there where World Headquarters is. Let’s find out if Charli Mills is fer real.”

“Course she’s real, Kid.”

“Yeah, but, she tells tales. Ms. Theresa, kin it be true, what Charli Mills says ‘bout snowfall up there?” 

“Oh, yes indeed. Ms. Mills ain’t pullin’ your leg about that. There’s lots of snow shoveling and snow blowing that goes on in the Keweenaw for months on end. As a matter of fact, by time winter is about halfway through, we can barely see our small house from the road. It gets buried behind huge snowbanks. We don’t even need a ladder to clean the snow off our roof by that time. We just climb the giant snowbanks and use a long-handled tool they call a “roof rake” to pull the snow off the rooftop.”

“Reckon, havin’ seen yer innerview with Ms. Mills, that pasties is real. But are they really that wunnerful?” 

“Mm hmm! Pasties are definitely a delicious, regional favorite, and everyone puts their own spin on the recipe, too. In my (humble) opinion, my gram used to make the best pasties in the Copper Country, which—in case you aren’t familiar with it—is another name for the Keweenaw. I can’t make them like she did, but my sister sure can. And seeing as pasties came over with the Cornish miners back in the 1800s, there might be others out there in the Cornwall area who are familiar with them as well.”

“Gramma’s are fer cookin’ connections fer sure. What were the special foods yer gram made fer ya?”

“Well, pasties are for sure one of the main ones. But there’s another one too that comes to mind every time I think of her. And that’s fisheye pudding. Sounds pretty gross I know, but if gramma said she was making fisheye pudding, you can bet my mouth would start to watering. It took me until I was a bit older to figure out that Gram’s fisheye pudding was really what you call tapioca.”

“Ha! Yer gram sounds like my kinda fun. But seriously, I want us ta have an honest innerview, git ta know ya an’ talk about yer book. But I still got some suspicions, mostly ‘bout Charli Mills. Like, did she put ya up ta sayin’ the unicorn song’s yer fav’rite from yer gram’s collection?

“Oh, my goodness, not at all lol! That was truly my favorite song. And one of Gram’s too. As a matter of fact, there was another song on the flip side of that record called Black Velvet Band that we liked, too. Both very folkish songs for sure. Fun to sing along with a heavy Irish brogue. But you’re right, Kid. It was quite a coincidence that Charli was coming to us live from the Unicorn Room the night of the launch party!”

“Thet’s cool thet yer family loved music so an’ sang t’gether. D’ya still have yer gram’s guitar that she played?”

“I do still have Gram’s guitar. My husband even refurbished it a bit for me a few years ago, so it looks all spiffy and new again. It had taken a beating through the years I’m afraid, and its belly swelled. I didn’t keep it properly humidified. It doesn’t play as well anymore, but it still looks nice, and I’m glad I still have it.”

“You told Charli Mills thet ‘Gramma had the stories; she was the tree, I the shoot’… How long were ya carryin’ the seed a this book? When did ya know you was gonna write it?”

“Well, I think I’ve wanted to write a book about her since I was a girl actually–as a tribute to her. I guess I’m a writer at heart, and that’s how I do things. I just didn’t know how I would go about writing it. I’ve always considered myself a fiction writer, so I expected she would become a fictional character. But really, I wasn’t sure. I had been thinking more seriously about it this past decade—sort of processing ideas in my mind. And when I came to a place in life that I could actually devote myself to the writing, I sat down and did it—except it didn’t come out as fiction at all. It came out as memoir, and I think I personally needed that at that point in my life.”

“They talk about pantsin’ an’ plottin’ a lot aroun’ here; which side a thet fence do you fall?” 

“Pantsing is a term I identify with for sure. I have plotted, but I didn’t for this book. I simply started out with the idea that was strongest in my heart when I first sat down to write, and that was the day of the funeral. I knew this was going to be an opportunity to process my grief after all these years, and that’s where I knew I needed to start. Once that was out, I started from scratch recounting all the memories I could and sort of categorizing them as to their overall theme or message. I didn’t write in any order. I did all the sequencing and tying things together later. It actually came fairly easy to me, as each memory begot another. Everything fell into place eventually.”

“Well it reads real smooth, has a good gait right outta the gate.”

“Thank you, Kid.”

“All thet processin’, an’ ‘memberin’; hope ya didn’t git bushwacked. Did ya git any surprises in the writin’?”

“You know, it must be the memoir genre that brings this question up, because I’ve actually been asked that a few times. What surprised me . . . And from one day to the next I may have a different answer because really, there were many things that surprised me, and they probably all weigh differently on different days. So, today I’ll just tell you one of the most fun things that surprised me, and that deals with my Aunty Patsy, Gram’s youngest child. You see, Gram was a dramatic storyteller, and one of the stories she told involved a little girl with blonde ringlets and a beautiful red dress who got herself into a precarious situation. When my Aunty read the manuscript, she recognized that story was actually about her! Now, in order to get the lesson across, Gram did embellish the ending considerably mind you, but the basic story was about my Aunt. It took me forty-plus years to discover that!”

“Seems like though yer book starts out bein’ ‘bout yer Cornish Gramma, it ends up bein’ ‘bout you an’ yer fam’ly comin’ home ta yer other heritages.”

“That’s so true. Originally, I wanted to write a short tribute to my Gram, but in the telling of that story, I discovered it didn’t make sense—why my Gramma was so important, why I depended on her so. And that’s how the rest of the story came to be. That’s how my Native heritage came more strongly into play in the narrative, and how the other painful aspects of my family’s past rose to the surface. In the end, it was our Native heritage which promoted our healing, so it did indeed play an important role in the overall story.”

“What’d ya learn and mebbe wish you’d known all along?”

“That’s an easy one . . . I wish I had known better my Indigenous grandparents. I wish I could have learned from them. I didn’t know how close we were—through them—to the traditional ways. We grew up feeling so far apart from our heritage, when really, it was well within our grasp. I wish we could’ve learned the language from my Grandpa and Grandma Woods, original speakers of Anishinaabemowin. They had all this knowledge which they were afraid to share, or perhaps ashamed to share, like medicines and food sovereignty, and knowledge of our ancestors which we may never know. Or even just their story. We know so little. These are all things that have become so important now to Indigenous communities—that relearning of those ways. But back then, when we were growing up, we were indoctrinated into the belief that it wasn’t important, that it was history, or even that it was wrong. So, I guess to sum it up, learning that I was only one generation away from the traditional ways of the Anishinaabeg was definitely something I wish I had known. And to be honest, it leaves me sad. My siblings and I missed out on all those precious teachings.”

“Thet is sad, Theresa. Seems ta me, we should all be thankful fer our grammas an’ folks thet teach us right ways a livin’, lis’en up while we can… In yer book yer story starts out at the Mason house an’ the foundation yer Gram gave ya, and ends with ya findin’ new foundations. I’m glad yer family an’ community has the KBIC.”

“I’m glad, too, Kid. We’re all healing together, and I’m so proud of that. And though I’m building new ways of thinking and relating to the world around me, I’ll always have the foundation of love Gram provided. That will never change.”

“What’s yer next book about, Theresa?”

“It’s called “Kitchen Remodel and Cooking Again,” and it requires no writing—just a lot of work ; ) Seriously, I have an idea for a book for which I have a few bones constructed, but I must admit the work to bring the memoir to market took a lot out of me. I’m a very hands-on person and working with a small press feels very much like a partnership; I had a lot of networking, and market research, and background work to do on top of the writing and editing. Plus, I was learning so much about my culture, which takes a great deal of time. I’m taking a little time to just get my feet back under me, and then we’ll see what this idea becomes. Right now, in its infancy, it’s a work of fiction involving a diverse perspective on grief. I guess that’s a lot like THE MASON HOUSE, actually . . . ”

“Well, The Mason House is a great read an’ would make a great gift fer just about anyone. And what a gift you’ve created for yer own children, nieces, and nephews, by telling your family’s story!”

“Chi miigwech! Thank you very much : )”

“Thank you very much Theresa, we ‘preciate yer time an’ wish ya well. Thank you fer takin’ the stage at the Saddle Up Saloon!”

 close up of a sign

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The Mason House is available at Snowbound Books in Marquette, Michigan, or most anywhere books are sold (please support your local independent bookstore who will be happy to order it for you if it’s not on their shelves!) It’s also available electronically through Nook, Kindle, and Apple Books. There’s not yet an audio version available.

Instagram: Facebook: @tmbertineau Website: Twitter:

 person sitting on a couch

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Born amidst the copper mining ruins of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, T. Marie Bertineau is of Anishinaabe-Ojibwe and French Canadian/Cornish descent. She is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community on the L’Anse Reservation, migizi odoodeman. Her work has appeared online with Minnesota’s Carver County Arts Consortium; in Mino Miikana, a publication of the Native Justice Coalition and Waub Ajijaak Press; in the annual journal U.P. Reader; and will be anthologized with the Chanhassen Writers Group of Minnesota. Married and the mother of two, she makes her home in the Great Lakes Region.

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 more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via

November 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

I once interviewed an 89-year-old woman who had skin that glowed translucently. Her vibrancy of body and mind rested in her easy smile and witty responses to my questions. When I was writing foodie articles, I asked her, as I asked everyone I interviewed, to share a personal health food tip. You might be surprised to learn that I never got the same answer twice. Or, maybe, you read the weekly 99-word collections and have come to realize that perspectives are unique to each person and their life experiences.

Her answer? Avocado toast.

The interview didn’t end because I wanted the story of why. What she told me was a life-long grapple with pain and joy. Born in 1916, she grew up in southern California, where her family had avocado trees in their yard. To her, it was magical food, and every morning for breakfast, her mother smeared avocado on toasted homemade bread. When she was six, they moved back to the midwest to be near family, leaving behind avocados.

They left California with its breakfast trees after she accidentally dropped an oil lantern on the stairs. Terrified, her mother grabbed her, both suffering burns. She showed me the scars on her hands. They escaped, but the fire took their home and her younger sister. At 89, the grief still showed on her face when she said, “It was my doing.”

She didn’t blame herself, nor did her family. It was an accident. But she took accountability in an interesting way. She lived every day as though it could be her last. And once an adult who could afford to buy avocados, she bought them weekly and ate avocado toast every morning to remind her of the good life she had as a child before the fire.

Stories are powerful, and we carry many with us. Some we discard. Others we re-frame. A few we hold onto as precious and necessary.

As writers, we recognize stories all around us. It was hearing stories like this woman’s that compelled me to want to write fiction, not to make up things but to express the truths I found in stories I caught. Health might stem from a diet of good fats like avocados, but owning our stories makes us whole even when some stories broke us. We juggle to write and revise those stories until the truth gleams like gems within the lines.

It’s not about getting the best words; it’s about getting the story right.

If you want to know yourself as an artist, keep updating your bio. That’s your story as a writer. If you plan to write outside a locked diary, then likely others will read your work. People will be naturally curious about who you are, and we should continue to have that same curiosity for ourselves and others. We are not static. Even our past stories evolve with our understanding of them.

Do you have a set of author bios? Yes, I said a “set.” You need a brief bio for your byline; a short bio for anthologies or social media; a longer bio for speaking engagements or public readings. Seems how this is Carrot Ranch, I’d say 9-59-99 words. However, my MFA program recommends that writers have three 20-50-100 word bios. Here are mine:

100-word Bio

Charli Mills comes from a vaquero culture, winning rodeo trophies before first-grade. She now wrangles words from Michigan’s U.P., where she lives with her husband, a former Army Ranger, and fellow westerner. Charli reclaims forgotten voices, writing about veteran spouses and historical frontier women. In 2014, she founded Carrot Ranch, an online community for international literary artists. As lead buckaroo, she hosts a weekly 99-word challenge and publishes stories from around the world. She’s developing an education program to teach creative writing with her MFA. Charli’s mission is to make literary art accessible among women, veterans, and underserved groups.

50-word Bio

Charli Mills grew up out west, where she once won a rodeo trophy for goat-tying. Now she wrangles words, writing about veteran spouses and the frontier women forgotten to history. She makes literary art accessible at She’s finishing her MFA thesis novel in 2021, planning to teach creative writing.

20-word Bio

Charli Mills, lead buckaroo at, wrangles words, reclaiming forgotten voices from the fringes and frontiers. She’s an MFA student.

Plan to update your bios annually, and every time you are asked to submit a bio. Annually because you grow as a writer and your focus can shift. I love what Anne Goodwin maintains in her bio that “she writes fiction for the freedom to contradict herself.” I recommend her article about brands and bios for ideas on the subject. As you write, who you are will change — you will discover more and release outmoded views. It’s the nature of writing.

When you are asked to submit a bio, stick to the requested word count (it will likely be one of the three formats). Also, consider your audience. If I submit a bio to a school publication, I emphasize my MFA student status. If I submit one to a regional publication, I tweak it to show I’m a local author. If the writing attracts a specific audience, I use my bio to compel them to read. Your bios are part of your author toolkit.

You will also want to write a story that answers the question, why do you write? It can be an avocado toast moment. What are your joys and sorrows tied to a writing life? Who influenced you? Do you have an origin story or cultural influences connected to who you are today as a writer? You might actually write ten different stories! Pare it down to one, blending details or going with the strongest account. Share only the details you are willing to publicize. This is the story of you, and you are evolving.

For my final (this is finals week; only two more terms left after this one!) I developed an author platform. I focus on my community platform here and treat my author brand more like an archive and work for hire that I no longer do. Talk about evolution. I will be cleaning up Carrot Ranch to emphasize community outreach and use for my author platform. I’ll be making changes as my May graduation date approaches, and I start teaching. Compare how my story differs (it has definitely evolved) here and at the site under construction.

You can have both your bio and your story on your website if you have one. Include the basics — who you are, what you write, why you blog, and how you connect with readers and the writing community. Your platform is to demonstrate your brand, credibility, community, and engagement of your target audience. I have been to too many blog sites where the About Me remains a mystery. If you write under a pen name, say so and clearly state the pen name. It’s your right to be private, but you do have to present an identity of some kind. I can’t call everyone, “Hey, you!” If you dream of being a published author (or if you are a published author), you impair your reach by not having basics such as bios.

So, added homework this week — update or write your set of bios and your story about why you write. Feel free to link in the comments, too. Ask for feedback if you want it, otherwise, I will celebrate your feat.

And to all who signed up to serve in any and all branches of the military (anywhere at any time), I want to recognize your willingness to die for others. My husband volunteered three times. That is more than enough to tell you, “Welcome home, and thank you for doing something I did not.” May all you sheepdogs feel welcomed among the sheep you protect, and may all of us spouses who share your burdens be seen. I see you and honor your service, too. (Veterans Day, November 11, 2020.)

November 12 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story includes avocado toast. How can this be a story or a prop to a story? Use your senses and imagination. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 17, 2020. 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.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

A Separation Tale by Charli Mills

Maria padded across the road to gather dropped avocados where the foreman lived in a huge ivory house. It didn’t smell of beans and tortillas like her tiny home. It felt cold; its size scared her. When vehicles slid to a stop in front of the bunks, Maria hid behind a hedge of pink roses. Her throat pinched shut at the sight of her Abuela in silver bracelets that imprisoned her hands. The men in black uniforms loaded all the neighbors in two vans and left. When her Papa did not return at noon, she ate avocado toast alone.


Lost Time

It’s easy to lose time when we walk away from our screens or misplace a watch. Other forces might be at work, too.

Writers responded to the prompt of lost time, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

A Brown Rubber Watch by Ruchira Khanna

My owner was one careless soul. One day she came to Lake Superior for a picnic. She was careful to remove me before a dip but forgot to pick me up after that.

Time ticked away, and I saw many sunrises and sunsets.

One evening, I felt a wet grip and realized a canine had fancied my ticking sound. He dropped me in the water when he went to fetch the ball. The waves welcomed me. I found a new home until they swept me over.

“Hello beautiful lady, what year is it? How much time did I lose?”


Time Lost by D. Avery

Give my watch back to me
Lost since ‘83
Relic of time— brown rubber band, hands that wind,
Never thought I would see
its face again; Sea

scratched, sand-blasted; etched, lined
not so unlike mine
Time-keeper losing faith; time come back to me
Covering sands march blind
measuring marked time

Not for the watch these tears
Thirty-seven years!
It’s the time that went (foolishly spent) I want
In a flash, disappeared!
Suddenly I’m Here.

Another flash, lost time
No reason, some rhyme
Give me my watch, give me back the time it’s seen
Worn trails, tracked storied lines


When Did You Last Have It? by Anne Goodwin

It was there when I sat at my desk to write this story. It was gone before I typed THE END. Would I find it buried in my Twitter feed? In the dregs of my coffee? Behind the TV?

It was there when I rose from bed this morning. Gone when I crawled back tonight. Did I lose it in an endless to-do list? Distracted by the chatter in my head?

It was there in abundance in my twenties. Each decade chipped more away. Did I waste it mourning what was missing? Or was it never mine to use?


Out of Time by Norah Colvin

“Time’s up!”

“Not yet! I’m not finished.”

Mallory stared at the page, blank except for some scribbles and a few false starts. Others smiled as they handed in their papers, earning accolades and rewards for tasks successfully completed.

“Please, just a little more time?”

“You’ve already had more than most.”

“I can do it. Promise.”

The timekeeper tapped the watch. “Five more. That’s all.”
Mallory worked frantically until the timekeeper declared, “You’re out of time.”

Mallory smiled, “It’s never too late to begin.”

The timekeeper agreed. “But you could have achieved much more had you not wasted time earlier.”


Finding Mr Bunny by Joanne Fisher

Their rabbit had escaped to Faerie, and Cindy followed him. When she finally managed to grab him and take him back to the farm, Cindy found the sky was darkening though it had only been an hour. She put Mr Bunny back in his hutch and went home. Jess was waiting for her.

“Where have you been?” Jess asked. “I couldn’t find you!”

“Mr Bunny escaped and I was looking for him.” Cindy replied.

“The whole day?”

The trouble with Faerie was that going there meant you always lost time in this world, but Cindy didn’t tell her that.


Chronos-4000 by Saiffun Hassam

Spacecraft Hermes-25 zipped through wormholes in the Andromeda galaxy. The spacecraft’s superintelligent AI Pegasus-5 swore when unexpectedly Wormhole-EXP12, the newfangled gates, were NOT functioning! He lost light years of time.

Wormhole-EXP9 was too far back. He sped forward to Star Gate-Hydra, an obsolete gateway, but functional. Pegasus had an important birthday gift to deliver.

It was the 4000th birthday of Old Yusef on Planet Yggdrasil. His ancestors were Terran and once owned a watch manufacturing company. A time capsule containing a 1982 brown rubber watch, Chronos-4000, dropped down on the planet. Just 5000 parsecs late. Better late than never.


Stanton Near Forsyth Street by Donna Matthews

“Hey, your school called, and classes are canceled.”

Charlie, staring out the window, asks, “Why?”

“Dunno, but I thought we’d hit up the modern art museum.”

“Yeah, okay, I guess.”

Walking through the heavy front doors, a hush falls over their footsteps. They wander the halls until they find an empty gallery and sit in front of the Stanton near Forsyth Street.

Long minutes pass.

She chances a sideway glance and sees a single tear fall.

“What do you see?” she whispers.

“Huh?” His eyes coming back into focus, he whispers back, “Remembering dad, last time we saw him.”


Lost Time by FloridaBorne

My right arm feels like it’s moving, my hand is in front of my face, but I blink at the white ceiling.

A nurse in white, a doctor in white… their words echo with an unbearable reverberation. The room becomes black.

Awake again, I move my head. The dark room has turned white walls into grey. People rush inside, lights blink on a monitor. When the doctor speaks, his words no longer sound hollow.

“You’ve been in a coma for 10 years…”

My family dead, my arms and legs amputated from the accident, my eyes close one final time.


Time Lost, and Found by Chel Owens

His gnarled, brusque, tannin hands caressed the watch band. He’d found it and its watch face along Lake Superior; brushed it from forgotten memories and dormant agate stones. Now, warmed in his fingers, the band changed. He saw it new, cut, fresh, oiled; attached to his grandfather’s timepiece for his son’s eighth birthday.

A long time later for one as rough as he, the old leatherworker released a breath. Rising, he set the wind-worn watch on his curio shelf near a faded photograph and a curling crayon picture. Tears in eyes, he shuffled out to put the kettle on.


Overcoming Obstacles by Sue Spitulnik

Michael sat on the floor of the rehab room facing a young woman, wheelchairs beside both of them. Her leg stumps matched his. He said,

“How did you pass the boot camp obstacle course? You appear too short to defeat the rock wall.”

“You mean I was too short!” She stopped. He waited. “Another recruit showed me the trick.”

“How long in hospital?”

“Six months.”

“That’s lost time, but if you’ll master getting into your chair from the floor they’ll let you learn to use legs back home.”

“Nobody told me that.”

“I just did.”

“Show me how. Please.”


Friendship of Time by Ann Edall-Robson

Whirr, bong, bong, bong. The old clock echoed through the dark house. He counted hollow sounds off in his mind. His trusted friend spoke to him hourly. And so his days and nights went. The mantle clock kept him in sync with the goings-on in the house. When the neighbour would drop by for his lessons in braille and sign language. When his family would come home from their day to lavish him with news and gossip of the world outside his personal cave. The accident had cost him, but he had not lost the friendship of time.


Too Tak by Anita Dawes

Humans would call me a bad fairy
They don’t know much about my world
I am known as a Too Tak
I need to steal time
In order to feed the hunger inside
Without this, my kind don’t live long
Let’s face it, humans get plenty of time
To lose a little won’t hurt
Half an hour here and hour there
What harm can it do?
They think the clocks are wrong
Running slow or fast
They blame the time loss on bad memory
When my time is done
They get the borrowed time back
As a lost memory…


Lost Time by Frank Hubeny

Thinking back Bill wished he did things differently years ago. Not that he would have had any basis to change given what he knew then, but he wished he knew then what he knew now.

His son Clifford was screaming obscenities at him. He saw himself through his father’s eyes and cringed. He realized he deserved the scorn, but for reasons Clifford wouldn’t acknowledge.

Bill regretted all this lost time. How could he make things right now? He considered praying and cringed again. Was it a miracle, he wondered, when embarrassed he bent his knees, cringed and finally understood?


Regret by Gloria McBreen

Rose opened the shabby old shoebox.

‘All my favourite things,’ she said softly with her hand on her heart. ‘You kept them.’

She rummaged through the box and lifted out a brown rubber watch.

Laughing she said, ‘Matt gave me this when we were eight.’

Nancy dabbed her eyes with her hanky. ‘I’m so sorry Rose…and ashamed. I’ve missed so much.’

‘We all have Mam. I’m sorry too, for staying away.’

The doorbell rang. ‘Are you ready?’ Rose asked.

Nancy nodded. Yes, she was at last ready to welcome her son-in-law Matt, and to finally meet her twenty-eight-year-old grandson.


Lost Time by kathy70

In this lost year, we’ve missed parades, holidays,  graduations, travel, hugs and so much more. We also have learned how to see family on our phones and have work meetings without leaving home.

We learned to ration TP and hand sanitizer as well as wearing masks. I guess it’s silly to talk about things, it’s the lives lost that is devastating. We have lost the time that would have been spent with all our friends/family.

It may be easier to count our learned stuff and not the lost. Still miss hugs the most. Where do we go from here.


Time Lost by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Elbows on bent knees,
Hands dangle between, wings on a gentle-breezed bird.
Butt planted, chilly on Autumnal Earth.
Grass spent, golden and crackling
Under a sky sharp as blue porcelain.
Leaves flicker down from balding trees,
The memories still, cut deep.

Nothing reaches me here on this hilltop.
High above the world, separate, waiting.
Stop time in order to save time.

So much lost, so much to be repaired
Pray what’s gone before yields wisdom.
Waiting for a miracle, knowing it won’t roll out on its own
I rise and stumble, back into the wicked world I helped create.


The Brown Rubber Watch by Doug Jacquier

The Great Crisis of the History of the Universe included the collapse of the Daylight Savings Bank. Claims were made (but never verified), that people were seen leaping from the clock face of Big Ben, in despair at the plummeting value of their Time shares. The only asset holding its value was the Futures market, dominated by Brown Brothers, which had a history of bouncing back like a rubber ball, no matter the catastrophe. Elections and the virus disappeared from screens as the world settled into nervously searching for signs of recovery, later known as the Brown Rubber Watch.


Time Bandits by Geoff Le Pard

‘Here we are.’
‘Are you sure this is a new motel. It feels the same.’
‘There’s no ashtray.’
‘Small mercies. I’m losing track of time.’
‘You’ve never cared about time.’
‘Very Einstein, Morgan. What’s that even mean?’
‘You’re never on time.’
‘I’ve never missed a plane.’
‘What about that old brown watch? It was always fast.’
‘It meant I knew I had more time than I thought I did. What about you? Your watch never even went.’
‘At least it was right twice a day.’
‘Which is more than could be said for its owner.’
‘It was dad’s.’


Not Her World by Charli Mills

Ivie stashed her digital watch in a pile of discarded clothes, ready to dive into Superior. She waved at her dad and brother bobbing in the lake. When she emerged, her family had vanished, the beach became a sterile room. Medical equipment pulsed and wheezed. Nurses initiated a flurry of activity until the room swelled with old people claiming to be her relatives. Ivie requested her watch to check the date and time for herself. A bearded geezer claimed it was lost the day of her accident. That’s when she knew. Ivie dove through time to a strange world.


The Present by D. Avery

“Welcome to the What-You Seek Boutique.”

She said she was just browsing, not really seeking anything.

“No?” The shopkeeper proffered a brown rubber banded watch.

“I had a watch like that once, but haven’t missed it. I don’t need it.”

“It’s still ticking. Look.”

She looked. The path around the watch face showed all she’d ever done, places she had been. The watch’s one hand pointed to Home, not a written word but a feeling of what Home meant to her and her alone.

“Home… but— what next?”

The shopkeeper smiled. “There’s time. Take it. A present for you.”


Lost Time and Lust by Kerry E.B. Black

The Doctor hunched over Gretchen’s cauldron and sniffed.

“So.” He jumped at her voice. “You’d like potion, would you?”

He straightened, imperious, and nodded. “If it works.”

A half-smile stole across her face. “Just like my Granny’s. We’ve bottled lost time.”

“How many years will this give me?” The sack he tossed clanked with wealth.

She ran her fingertips over the coins. “This’ll give you thirty years.” She ladled brew into a cup.

He licked papery lips with enthusiasm, nostrils flaring. “No tricks, witch.”

She handed him the cup. “Of course not, Faustus.”

He swallowed without noticing the undertaste.


Lost Time, Never Found by Simon

He stared at his mom’s 1982 Brown rubber watch. It triggered his memories.

His phone rang, She usually calls him at that time. But he was busy that day and ignored it. But she continuously ringed him, his skin felt a sudden goose bumps. He quickly stopped his work and called back, no one answered. He reached his home to find his mom on floor unconcious. He broke in tears, he immediately called up medic team, in moments they came and declared she’s dead, he regretted the moment he couldn’t answer her phone, but, lost time never found again.


Lost Time by M J Mallon

Stan picked up an imaginary sand timer, turned it over and watched as the grains of sand ran. He didn’t say a word. His grandchildren were playing on the beach building sandcastles, oblivious to his moment of sadness. On his wrist, he wore a 1982 brown rubber watch. It was now 2020. The watch had long since given up ticking, but he’d never throw it out. It would be terrible to do so. The watch belonged to his beautiful wife and brought back happy memories.

June died in 1983, was never fancy but always special.


Time Bus by Bill Engleson

“Been waiting long?”

“I don’t know. Hour, maybe? Two months?”

“What’s time’s it supposed to be here?”

“Schedule’s on that pole. Didn’t look.”

“How come? Not curious?”

“Just didn’t, that’s all. Look, don’t look, it’ll come when it does.”

“Makes sense. Think I’ll take a boo.”

“Be my guest.”


“Hmm what?”

“That’s odd.”


“Took a look…”

“At the schedule?”



“Well, it’s kinda confusing.”

“It’s a schedule. They’re all confusing. That’s why I don’t bother.”

“Not that kind of confusing.”

“What kind, then?”

“It says…Time Bus Leaving When It’s Your Time.”


“What time you got?”


(17) Damned Family (Lost Time) by JulesPaige

Jesse paced the Presidential Suite, an escape gifted by Uncle Stan. The dishes in the kitchen sink was proof that she had made something to eat. But what it was she couldn’t recall. Or how long ago she had actually eaten – she didn’t remember.

The curtains were closed, only minimal light illuminated the path that Jesse had created from the Master suite, around the dining table and the sitting area. She unplugged all the clocks, and landline phones. As well as turning off her flip phone. Sleep meant she might dream. Jesse wanted to lose time and some memories.


My Own Re (Treat) by Michelle Vongkaysone

I retreat into myself on occasion.
Sometimes these treks last for ages.
I know better uses for my time exist.

However, I can’t deny my urges.
My journeys give me perspective.
During them, I am completely alone.

There are no demands to obey.
My time is something to devour.
I can spend it just how I want to.

What matters is my pleasure.
I want to binge on time itself.
I wile away my days in silence.

I lose myself as time passes by.
I retreat into myself for that bliss.
It’s the best treat I can give myself.


Time of Hands by D. Avery

“Tellin’ ya Pal, I’m glad vacation’s done. It’s easier knowin’ how ta spend time when ya ain’t got so much free time.”

“Thet’s true Kid. I thought it’d be a good time visitin’ my cuzzins, but ended up more like doin’ hard time.”

“Ya spend any time at the Rodeo?”

“Was gonna but time flew. You?”

“Dang goats took too much a my time. I was ferever roundin’ ‘em up.”

“Once upon a time thet’s how Shorty got started rodeoin’— ropin’ goats.”

“She’s put her time in, fer sure.”

“Yep. Her time’s comin’. Now move, Kid. Time ta work.”


The Results ARe IN For the Winner of the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Poetry Challenge

Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry

For this year’s rodeo, I created a special poetry form called the Double Ennead. The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Finally, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprised five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS!

The twist in crafting the Double Ennead was that poets had to choose five consecutive words from the poem, “The Springtime Plains,” from Cowboy Poet, Charles Badger Clark, found at the link below:

The five words had to be reworked into one stanza following this word placement:

Line 1 starts with word 1

Line 2 ends with word 2

Line 3 starts with word 3

Line 4 ends with word 4

Line 5 starts with word 5

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