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March 4: Flash Fiction Challenge

Sweet potatoes arrived in the mail this morning. Two packages of dehydrated fries for Mause, my three-month-old German Short-haired Pointer. It takes her ten minutes to eat one and she gets two a day. This buys me twenty minutes of time. Such is life with an energetic puppy.

The Hub fancies he’ll train her for quail hunting and who am I — an artist of stories who fancies she’ll publish novels — to say how unlikely that is. It’s not because we have no quail in Upper Michigan. He can travel to his family’s ranches in Nevada. He struggles to train her at all. His brain trauma has robbed him of patience and reasoning. Not that a former Airborne Ranger was ever the patient sort, but it’s become comical how I have to clicker train him to clicker train his dog. Of the three of us, the GSP remains the most competent.

We are all allowed our dreams. I’ll kick anyone in the shins who dampens the dreams of another, especially the dreams of the vulnerable. I’m not a violent person but I feel locked in a strange battle where I have to fight the VA system to get the healthcare my warrior needs and I have to fight my warrior to get the healthcare he needs and I have to fight myself to carry on because none of this is normal. But maybe the concept of normal is derived from the same fluff of dreams and cotton candy. Sweet on the tongue but ephemeral. Not real.

I write fiction. I craft stories that are not real. It’s called verisimilitude — the appearance of being real or true.

My life feels not real at times. Like when he badgers me to go outside in the snow at 11 pm because Mars is visible in the sky. He’s obsessed with Mars and can point out all the planetary alignments. That part feels authentic. But when I try to capture a real moment, try to connect, try to remember who he used to be, a car turns down Roberts Street and I remind him to step out of the road with the puppy and he rages at the car for driving fast and reckless. They are not. But I can’t say so.

He continues like nothing abnormal happened and points to Taurus’s eye — “That’s your sign,” he tells me. It is not. A knee-jerk reflex and I protest, forgetting my place of accepting what is not real. “I’m a Gemini,” I say. “No you’re not,” and he continues telling me about the night sky. Sometimes I laugh. But sometimes I cry. He’s my husband and does not know me.

I’ve become the villain in his mind, the person who has trapped him in this God-awful snowy prison. He slips on the ice, walking the dog and it’s as if I’ve deliberately swung a sledgehammer to bash both knees. It takes a week before his counselor can convince him to go see his primary care physician, and it’ll take me days to help him remember he agreed to do it. I’m not too concerned. He’s not limping. Just grumbling. He needs a bad story to chew on and anything that makes me the bad guy is his favorite fairytale.

Remember, it not real, it’s the verisimilitude of an altered mind.

So, here I am, writing fiction about a veteran spouse. She is not me. I couldn’t bear to give her my burden. Instead, I wanted to explore how long-haul veteran spouses come to carry the weight of wounded warriors. I wanted to give a definition of the invisibility of veteran spouses. We are real and so are our loyalty and our brokenness. We get crushed beneath the packs of what they bring home from combat training and war zones.

Forget eggshells. Some of us walk on broken glass.

I wanted to write a beautiful novel. An uplifting story. One that faces death, dismemberment, and dementia. One that shows the struggle to understand what PTSD is and how many soldiers overcome it.

My husband did. He used his combat dive training to manage night terrors. He remained, and remains, fearless. He knew something was wrong with his thinking years ago and back then, he trusted me to find out why. We were still a team. I have much admiration and respect for him in confronting the debilitation of multiple conditions. At what point do I say enough? He doesn’t get to. Why should I?

And so I stand before you a Taurus prison guard (aka a Gemini veteran spouse) and I think of sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes fries (not the dehydrated ones for puppies to gnaw). Twice-baked sweet potatoes. Roasted sweet potatoes. Sweet potato pie. From savory to sweet, these tubers can become many things. Sort of like veteran spouses.

March 4, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes sweet potatoes. It can be part of a recipe, meal, or used as a nickname. Where do sweet potatoes take you? The grocery store? The garden? Mars? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 9, 2021. 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.

Myrtle’s Basket by Charli Mills

Myrtle dug the tubers. Her spade cut the loam, missing the sweet potatoes with garnet skins. She shook them free of California soil, cut their vines, and placed each in a basket her mother wove of old clothes. Myrtle fingered a faded blue cloth, remembering the dress her sister used to wear when she gardened. Before the Spanish Flu robbed them of Althea and Papa. Dirt was harder back then. The graves difficult to hack into the drought-toughen soil. That was the only year they didn’t grow sweet potatoes. Myrtle carried fresh tubers and old memories to her kitchen.

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen

More than ice can freeze the bones.

Writers responded to the 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.


Photo courtesy of 47 North Belly Dance by 2nd Sandbar.


Frozen by Joanne Fisher

“Come in! You must be frozen!” Sonia said as she opened the door wide for her friend. Maddy walked in shivering with her arms hugging her body. She had been caught in a sudden cold snap and felt cold to the bone. “Let’s get you warm.” Sonia wrapped her arms around Maddy slowly warming her with her own body heat. The two of them stood there in silence.

“Thanks.” Maddy said appreciatively. This is what she lived for: being in the arms of Sonia, the girl she deeply loved. If only Sonia loved her the same way in return.

🥕🥕🥕

Gut Feeling by Ann Edall-Robson

Inside the log cabin, a sharp crack silenced the voices of the couple sitting at the table.

“What the heck was that?”

He leaned across the table, blowing out the lantern, putting the room into darkness.

“Get on the floor.”

Grabbing his down jacket he headed out the door.

The snapping and groaning from the moon-bathed frozen lake hadn’t convinced him the noise they’d heard had come from here. Turning towards the silhouetted cabin, the sound of gunfire erupted at the same time that his face was sprayed with tree splinters.

Why hadn’t he just trusted his gut?

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen by Ritu Bhathal

All I could hear were titters, whispering, and the odd lewd comment, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Well, of course I was telling them to ignore the unignorable, and continue to listen to me, as I explained the importance of probability.

My words fell on deaf ears. I could imagine the screen shots, and subsequent memes flooding WhatsApp.

My face, frozen on screen, with my mouth wide open, eyes closed, as if I was in the midst of something much more pleasurable than teaching maths.

Dang remote learning, unstable internet connections, and bloody live lessons!

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen Emotions by Sue Spitulnik

When Mac recognized the handwriting on the package, he froze. His body motionless, his mind raced back almost 50 years to visualize the young Vietnamese woman who had given him a son. “Colm McCarthy and descendants;” why was it addressed such?

Later, with the family assembled, Mac’s wife, Nan, opened the package. She handed envelopes to the three generations, Mac, Thad, and Katie, then read a note aloud. “My husband has died. I would like permission to visit.”

No one reacted.

Finally, Nancy said, “Thad, her situation was forced. I think it’s a good idea.”

Thad wasn’t so sure.

Note:To update new readers, Michael is the lead singer for this band. Thad is a 50/50, half American-half Vietnamese raised by his father, Mac, and stepmother, Nancy. He has no memory of his biological mother. Katie is Thad’s daughter.

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen Tears by Diana Nagai

“Nothing’s more sad than the death of an illusion – Arthur Kesler.” I froze at the sight of the plaque, reminded of our past. Your presence overwhelmed me, elevating me onto a pedestal. I ignored my discomfort because you made me laugh. I convinced myself you needed me more than I needed you. Then you were gone. My attempts to reach you were either ignored or returned with blame, leaving me to wonder if we ever truly friends. It’s been years, and death has taken you permanently. Yet, I shed no tears. I mourned the loss of you years ago.

🥕🥕🥕

Return to Alaska by Luccia Gray

“Hi, my name’s Suzie. I’ll be looking after you this morning.” I smiled at the pretty hostess.
She showed me some images on her screen. “Where would you like to go today, Maggie?”
I needed to return to the cabin where I had left my unfinished manuscript.
“A beach, the mountains, a lake, or…”
“I want to go back to Alaska.”
Suzie pushed my wheelchair into the viewing room. “Why are you always so keen on Alaska’s frozen landscape?”
“I have to finish my novel.”
Suzie squeezed my limp hand and slid on the 3D glasses. “Alaska it is.”

🥕🥕🥕

Catatonia by Anne Goodwin

It isn’t entertainment. It isn’t defiance. Yet they prod me, pinch me, pose me in increasingly awkward positions. I challenge their apothecary, so they challenge me.
They think I can’t feel, yet the ache in my muscles, the cramp, proclaims I’m alive. At night, when my head hits the pillow, I sleep like the dead.
In another life, I’d paint myself silver and wink at the children pitching coins in my hat. Or I’d serve as a sentry outside some palace. But I’m in the madhouse, frozen in sorrow, starved of volition. If an icicle bends, it will snap.

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen by D. Avery

Every visit I am grateful for the window, though it’s always shut tight against any air. Today tapered icicles hang down from the eves, their steady drip in the late winter sun inaudible through the panes, replaced by my mother’s hollow chirping.

I sense my mother is afraid to come here alone. She tells me her granny enjoys seeing me but the old lady never even looks up. Says nothing. Just sits there.

Feels like 80 degrees in this room. As always, Granny’s bundled in thick socks, a lap robe, and a shawl.

Still she just sits there, frozen.

🥕🥕🥕

The Old Orangutan by Donna Matthews

The kiddos burst inside the house, running up to me and yelling, grandma, grandma, let’s go to the zoo!

“Oh no, I don’t think so.”

Come on, grandma! The lions, the monkeys, the elephants!

Oh, why not? It certainly is a beautiful day.

Wandering beautiful park paths, kiddos running ahead, I take in the sounds of the tropical birds, the lush greens, and delighted laughter. Suddenly, monkeys flying through the air greet us. After the flyers, we come around to orangutans; an old male and I lock eyes, and we both freeze. His sad eyes look away first.

🥕🥕🥕

Our New Cat by Nancy Brady

Lisa called us about a stray cat that Marcia, a co-worker, had recently rescued. To be more accurate, the cat had found Marcia’s stoop on a wintry December night, begging to come inside. When she first saw the frozen, frightened black cat, he was backed into a corner by a snarling, hissing cat. Marcia opened the back door and the cat raced inside. Unfortunately, her husband’s allergies flared up, and the cat they had taken to the vet and named Graham had to go. The couple wanted a good family for Graham, and we fit the bill, adopting Regulus.

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen in a Field of Pradas by Jack Keaton

“Maximus has something in his mouth!” Janet frantically whispered to Brandon, waking him up. “He’s under the bed!”

When Brandon shined his Maglite under the bed, he saw a three-inch field mouse–scampering into their closet.

“What is it?”

“It’s a mouse, presumably drowning in your Pradas.”

“Ew!”

Brandon found the rodent poking his head out of a black pump, frozen in Brandon’s light.

“Where in the hell is that cat?” Brandon complained to no one while fetching a bag and a broom.

But Maximus was coiled on the bed, content that He did his part for his pride.

🥕🥕🥕

A Frozen Forager by Michelle Vongkaysone

I’m fine with frozen carrots, I admit that. It’s better than digging in the cellar for them.

They’re ready to use in the freezer. At any other time, I would appreciate frozen carrots.

However, this isn’t any ordinary time. That storm came suddenly, forcing me inside for safety.

I wasn’t properly prepared. At least it was quick, if not ferocious. My house was covered in snow.

Afterwards, I went out to check everything. The pipes weren’t frozen, but my carrot patch was!

By salvaging it, I learned a valuable lesson: I’ve had enough of any frozen carrots for now.

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen by Colleen Chesebro

My first walk in the new neighborhood turned up some surprises. Across the street, a fast-running stream bordered the edge of the forest along the walking path.

So, this is where the deer came from, I thought. We’d spotted deer tracks in the snow as they came right up to our front porch. A real Michigan welcoming committee!

Around the corner, I spotted a pond, frozen beneath the afternoon sun. I day-dreamed about the frogs and crickets serenading us in the stillness of a long summer night.

frost-bound pond glistens
cattails rattle in the wind
mourning dove calls spring

🥕🥕🥕

New Home by Hugh W. Roberts

Having travelled millions of miles, had it found its new home?

***

The frozen wastes of space were no place anymore for the light pink sphere.

It had travelled for thousands of years, but the icy blue planet ahead looked the only hope it had of survival.

The glowing rays of a young star rising in the east sent the alien into a potential thaw and deep sleep on this new world.

Millions of years later, it awoke to find new owners’ of the planet had built a city on top of where it had rested.

“Welcome to Wuhan’, it recorded, as it began the fightback to reclaim its new home.

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen (not the movie) by Doug Jacquier

He mused upon his woes then
He went out in the snow then
In his ribbons and his bows then
To find his status quo then
and face his demon foes then
No goal, just to’s and fro’s then
Not following the crows then
He felt the icy winter blows then
Right through his winter hose then
He couldn’t feel his nose then
It spread down to his toes then
He thought he’d have a doze then
As everybody knows then
That’s the way he goes then
And there he sits all frozen
Sadder but no wiser; so zen

🥕🥕🥕

The Frozen Lake by Emma G. Slayton

Kara was ice-skating on Greenwood Lake. She was in the middle of the frozen lake when a snow machine went by. She was scared and she fell and hurt her leg.
The snow machine guy named Tom looked behind him and saw that she was on the ice and she was hurt. He went back to get her and bring her to the doctor. After that she had a leg brace. They became friends and then they went to college. After college Tom went to be a professional snow machine guy and Kara became a professional ice skating girl.

🥕🥕🥕

A Frozen Lesson by Willow Willers

Jasmina was the founder member! Over the years they’d risen to fame internationally.

Geeta was the youngest and most recent member to the group.

The argument all started when Geeta announced they been asked to do an Indian version of Let it Go! Jasmina wanted to dismiss it out of hand, after all she dealt with the bookings.

Well, she was outvoted, to save face she agreed the others could do the video she would direct.

So she picked the costumes and the venue. Dressed warmly she watched from her heated cabin and smiled. They all looked truly Frozen.

🥕🥕🥕

Frozen by Anita Dawes

Frozen with horror by the razor-sharp edge,
the blade at my throat, the overlapping fear of warm blood
Free flowing from my body, zoning out into darkness
Falling into a world of blank memory, near to death
I see the dark cloaked figure of an angel gently waking my sleeping body
Not realising, my spirit had decided to jump around the room with joy
Without letting me know where the happiness comes from
I lie there wondering why I had been sent an angel wearing L plates
Would she pull the two halves of my body together in time?

🥕🥕🥕

A Necessary Part of the Proceedings by Nicole Horlings

“Sir Gilbert, on trial for treachery and desertion,” one of his guards announced as they marched him into the bright throne room. He squinted up at the Queen, who stared haughtily back at him, clearly annoyed at the distraction from her leisure activities.

“Off with his head,” she said emotionlessly, stifling a yawn.

Gilbert’s jaw dropped. “I have an explanation for my actions. Don’t I have the right to defend myself?”

“This that really a necessary part of the proceedings?” the Queen asked her advisor.

“It is,” he agreed.

“Fine,” she sighed, rolling her eyes. “Then explain yourself, traitor.”

🥕🥕🥕

Pine Point 1969 by Bill Engleson

It was a shock to the system,
of this Frontier College guy,
dropped into a snow-swept,
tundra under bright northern sky.

A teacher of the English language,
and the warm-blooded tool crib guy.
Fifty below with wind chill
And death when the arctic winds fly.

A backdrop of constant blizzard
Soil that nothing grows in,
Skin sliced and scissored,
facial baby hair frozen.

This was life in a barracks,
Wild mining camp lore,
an open-pit of errors,
an environmental war

Though now a disassembled ghost town,
Not among the chosen,
A wilderness of darkness
And memories, stark and frozen.

🥕🥕🥕

Terra by Saifun Hassam

Khyrie’s ancestors were spacefarers from Earth’s Alaskan Arctic Zone. From digital archives she learned of Earth’s forbidding and daunting frozen wastelands before global warming melted the icescapes, creating catastrophic conditions for life on Earth.

Terra23’s poles were extensive icescapes of glaciers and mountains. Aquatic life teemed in summer under the melting ice.

When jagged chasms ripped apart ice fields, geologists discovered intriguing clues of past open seas. Khyrie, a biologist, was captivated by the diversity of polar life. She left Terra’s green valleys to live at Northern Glacier Habitat.

🥕🥕🥕

Gaining Ground a Second Time Around? by JulesPaige

Once long ago was a great rumble
Dino’s lost ground took a right tumble
T’wasn’t till a good hard rap
On their ground did man tap
Bones found frozen in time’s ice bubble

With time them dug bones from the ground, rose
Folks drew up the look of dino’s nose
Handled scraps with respect
Deft, no piece to reject
Some guesses accurate I suppose

Hard to fix features a truthful way
Of something that in the ground did stay
Thousands of years frozen
Some looks were just chosen
So we could see ‘em somehow today

…because RUOK looked prehistoric!

🥕🥕🥕

Holy Fishin’ Hole by D. Avery

“Now what ya been up to out in thet cold, Kid?”
“Decided since things is froze up I’d try fishing through the ice on the pond.”
“Catch anythin’?”
“No Pal, but I had what ya might call a mystical ‘sperience. Heard a voice from on high.”
“Been at Ernie’s cookies agin?”
“No, Pal. Ever time I’d drill a hole in the ice a boomin’ echo-y voice would speak ta me.”
“Sayin’ what?”
“Sayin’, ‘Don’t drill there. There’s no fish there.’”
“Wait. Pond? Kid, where’s this pond at?”
“Uh, that flat area below the cookhouse.”
“Kid, thet’s a skatin’ rink!”

🥕🥕🥕

Chop Bustin’ by D. Avery

“Kid, yer a mess. An’ why’s thet puglet a yers wearin’ glass slippers?”
“Jist let poor Curly in next ta the fire, Pal. Temper’tures dropped considerable. Ever’thin’s frozen. Almost.”
“Whut happened?”
“Me an’ Curly was skatin’ aroun’ a bit on the pond.”
“A pig on ice?”
“Her little hooves was goin’ ever which way. Fin’lly she got ‘em all under her. Then, whomp, all four legs sank through.”
“A stuck pig?”
“I yanked an’ tugged.”
“Pulled pork?”
“Fin’lly got her out but the ice clung ta her legs. Gotta git ‘em thawed out.”
“Careful. Smells like smoked ham hocks.”

🥕🥕🥕

“Snow” is a transcultural fusion dance drawing on movement from Raqs Sharqi, Datura, DanceCraft, modern, and ballet. It is inspired by the beauty of Lake Superior’s winter shoreline and is dedicated to the Ojibwa Water Walkers, People of the Heart, a group of women who speak up for and protect nibi (water). 47 North is a performance group named for the far-north latitude that skims through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As a transnational fusion dance troupe, we combine various belly dance styles with modern, jazz, hip hop, and other art forms.

Choreographers – Sylvia Schourek and Allison Mills; Videographers – Amanda Makela, Daena Makela, and Kris Niva; Video Editing – Amanda Makela and Daena Makela; Music – “Luminsade” by Joe Michaelson.

The Words We Know

In recent discussion with my husband about decorating our kitchen, I asked if we had enough paint for the base boards. Base boards? For the life of me, I couldn’t think what we call them here in England. Skirting boards. Yes, that’s what I meant.

This August will mark eighteen years since I left California. Eighteen years and it still won’t be as long as the time I lived there. I am British born and bred, but I left in my twenties and lived in America until my mid-forties. Those years shaped me into who I am today. They shaped my American/British children. And our heritage is richer for it.

My family is a blended mix of traditions and learning. My eldest son taught me what Thanksgiving meant when I volunteered in his first grade classroom. My middle boy taught me the story of Johnny Appleseed planting apple trees. My youngest gave me a tour of a ruined Spanish mission. Together, we learnt about California’s history.

In turn in England, I gave them fireworks on their first Bonfire Night in November. In the summer, I bought them 99 ice cream cones with chocolate flakes from a van by the sea. In between I took them to Hampton Court to show them where Henry VIII once lived.

In America, I did this: I got married, worked in downtown Los Angeles and moved to the Central Coast. I gave birth, raised my children through the American school system. I took college classes. I rented houses, bought one, lost one and bought again. I drove a Camaro that leaked power steering fluid. I switched to a family-friendly Windstar and got pulled over by a cop for a “moving violation” at a four-way stop sign on my way to church. I travelled the length and breadth of California and marvelled at Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.

I camped at Mount Shasta and watched a racoon steal our Cheezits.

 In America I found joy and heartbreak. People I loved died. I got divorced. I moved back to England with my children and the remnants of our American dream in a shipping container. But America and our life there did not leave us. My husband has observed the unique way, as he puts it, that I interact with my children when we are gathered. I am not aware of it, it isn’t obvious. But it’s intrinsic because it’s who we are

I liken it to a friend from my school days growing up in Suffolk. She would invite me to her home for tea, and one afternoon her grandmother called for a quick chat on the phone. She lived hours away in Birmingham, my friend’s original home. My friend chatted away, oblivious that she had broken out in a strong “Brummie” accent. We laughed about it afterwards, but she hadn’t realised she’d reverted to her childhood lingo. She had slipped into it naturally, without thinking.

Expressions with words used differently once gave me pause. The first time an American asked me, ‘What’s up?’ I was taken aback. Nothing was wrong, couldn’t he tell? I soon realised he meant it in friendly greeting. Today in the UK it’s common knowledge, but in 70s Britain?  Not so much.

As a “Resident Alien” in America, I retained my British citizenship with my rights of permanent abode. I could work, pay my taxes, but I could not serve on a jury, nor vote. This got more frustrating as time went by. I remained close to my family and roots in England to the point of homesickness, which never went away. But as time passed, I aligned myself more strongly with American politics, schooling and life in general.

My British accent stuck out in California. My American children stick out in England. It will always be so, but home is where we make it. And though our lives are different now, distant reminders are never far away.

Not so long ago on a typical food/grocery shop, I placed my bags in the boot/trunk of my car. I returned the trolley/cart to the shop/store entrance. I got in my car, closed the door. Where’s the steering wheel? The ignition? My mind had drifted. A fleeting thought in my subconscious, a distant memory of another day and not much to tell. But enough to plonk me down in the wrong seat. The passenger seat.

I smiled to myself and felt like a right twit. The driver’s side once-upon-a-time ago, but not now. I hadn’t driven in America for many years. A simple matter of getting out and going round to the driver’s side. Except I sensed eyes on me. That feeling you get when someone’s watching. A case of goose pimples/bumps? I turned my head and met the stare of a man in the car next to me. He had a sandwich to his mouth and too a chunk out. Of all the empty cars in the car park/parking lot, I had to get this one

I ducked down on pretence of rummaging through the glove/compartment box. Stupid when I think of it. I wouldn’t give it a second thought now to hop out of my car and walk round to the other side. Covid has definitely changed me. But that’s another story. For this story, I will tell you that I kept my head down. I slid my right leg over the gear/stick shift and hand/parking break into the driver’s seat. I heaved the rest of me into position and took off. I didn’t stop to notice if the man had finished his lunch.

A few times hence this has happened, but the gap grows longer and longer. Life goes on but we don’t forget. The lyrics from a song play on a loop in my head…you know the song, you know the words. Hotel California.

My life in America showed me where I belong. Home, I discovered, isn’t always a place, but it resides in our hearts with those we love most. And love is a word we know on both sides of the pond.

Until next time then, I bid you cheerio and have a nice day.

Sherri has published a collection of non-fiction articles in magazines, anthologies and online at her Summerhouse blog, diverse guest features and a memoir column at Carrot Ranch, an international online literary community. A keen walker and photographer from the UK, Sherri raised her family in California for twenty years. She has worked in the legal and medical fields and is now carer and advocate to her youngest on the autistic spectrum. Today Sherri lives in England’s West Country not far from the sea, hard at work on final edits of her debut memoir.

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Well, howdy! My name’s Chel Owens and I’ve a small confession to make: I’m not much of a rancher. The closest I’ve gotten to a rodeo is watching “McLintock!” The closest I’ve gotten to a saloon is to use the bathroom at a bar during a road trip.

What do I know? Poetry. And -believe me- poetry is amazing. It’s clever, awful, silly, serious, snarky, sincere, and beautiful.

Take Ogden Nash:
The Termite

Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.
(c/o allpoetry.com)

—–

Or, William Shakespeare, the master prose-smith:
Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
(c/o allpoetry.com)

Poems are the beat of life; the catchy jingle we hum whilst eating French fries (chips); the wandering phrase we think as our heart flutters in love.

Poems also terrify a large number of writers.

That’s why I’m here. Or Pal and Kid said I could use the bathroom. Either way, I’m up on this stage and I’m going to get you to write poetry. Everyone can write poetry, just like everyone can write. We each have a voice that needs expression and is beautiful when it finds itself.

So, for this introductory post, I’m not going to ask much. All I want is for you to take yourself on a date.

You heard me.

Get yourself alone, somewhere safe. If you can, go somewhere beautiful and inspirational. The catch is that I want you to bring along a notebook and writing utensil. Yes, I want paper and a pen. No, I don’t want those new-fangled electronic devices.

Step two is to get comfortable.

Third, soak in your surroundings. Meditate. Find your happy thoughts.

After all of that, I want you to word dump prosaically. Write words, phrases, observations, descriptions, and even the odd knock-knock joke –all in the form of a freelance poem.

Once you’re ‘finished,’ you’re allowed to look it over and lightly edit. Maybe you misspelled epiphany and it’s bothering you; you are allowed to fix that word. Perhaps you really hate how you compared a winter’s day to your ex-husband’s drinking habit; you may compare the snowscape to something more appropriate. The only thing you are not allowed to do is crumple up what you wrote and throw it into the saloon’s toilet.

If you’re comfortable, return to your computer thingy and share your masterpiece with me using the submission form. If not, I’ll settle on an “I did it, Chel” in the comments or through the form.

You can do it. Believe me. I can safely say that I have seen the worst poetry ever, and yours is not it.

Lather, rinse, repeat. We’ll have you poem-ing in no time.

—-

©2021 Chel Owens

February 25: Flash Fiction Challenge

I feel like I’ve belly-crawled out of the frozen tundra, my jeans and flannel shirt shredded, my fingers stiff and calloused. Grilled cheese sandwiches and Girl Scout Cookies have sustained me. I left for the wilderness beyond the lights of friendly campfires and the warmth of humanity. I’ve been away on a long journey, herding 71,625 words into a publishable novel. I’ve had to ride alone.

Todavía estoy aquí. I am still here.

It began in seventh grade when Mr. Price encouraged me to write longer spelling stories, inviting me to read them weekly to my classmates. He gave me a purpose, a way to process the wealth of stories that filtered through my soul. He gave me connection, the opportunity to step out of my shyness. He gave me a glimpse of what it means to write for an audience.

Fast-forward through a life dancing with a love of writing. An undergrad degree in 1998. A dream to finish a novel started as an independent project. Twenty years waiting, waffling, denying until the decision to pursue an MFA. A career behind me. A career before me. Sinking into the minutiae of writing a novel that’s been a haggard WIP since conception in 2008 when I grieved a dog, before I lost my home, before his dementia, when I could still connect the dots to retirement when I would write novels.

Displacement. Homelessness. Cognitive malfunction. It may as well be mine the way it colors everything in my life. Even in the wilderness I have to answer its call, be the reminder, be the constant. I wanted a full hermitage but it’s not possible. I weep for what I have and I weep for what I’ve lost, and still I plow through, refusing to let circumstances freeze my dreams to ice.

I could have chosen an easier task. But Mr. Price lit the fires I had built. How can I be anybody else but me?

That’s the thing about writing. It is a Process. Capital P. No skimming the surface. And when you think you’ve plunged the depths of humanity, you have to go deeper within yourself. The minutiae. Always the details. In the details we are unique. We all have mothers and fathers. We all breathe. We all drink water and sleep. We have interests and dislikes. Oh, but the details, the perspectives, the actions, the words and the stories. So much color and diversity.

We process all those details when we write. We are filters as writers. Miners.

Let me explain Process as I’ve come to know it. It comes under different headings. There is Creative Process — the way we catch and express literary art (for words are our medium). There are Mental and Emotional Processes — how we use thoughts and feelings in our art. There’s Structural Process — the forms we give our writing (99-words stories or 28 chapter novels). There’s Craft Process — the elements we use to express literary art. There’s a Drafting Process (pants or no pants), a Revision Process, an Editing Process and each can be separated into layers that must come before others (you don’t proof words you will cut in revision, therefore you revise before you proof). There’s Personal Process — how we discover ourselves in the world through writing.

It’s no joke that writing a novel can be compared to brain surgery or rocket science. You can draft a novel-length work in a relatively short time. How long it takes you is relative to how much Processing you are willing to do. The more Processing, the deeper the work. Notice I did not say “better.” That’s a false comparison. Writing is not a competition, unless, well, you enter one. Then you must heed the Processes asked of you as an entrant.

My MFA Program at SNHU began Process on day one. It will continue until May 1. At least for me. It has challenged me to dig deep into all the Processes. I discovered weakness in my strengths, strengths in my weaknesses. I formalized Processes to be able to repeat them and write more novels. I blew my own mind with discoveries. For example — writing elements. Did you know you can apply them differently in different processes? “Show Don’t Tell” needs to be “Show or Tell But Know The Difference.” You can apply the Show/Tell element differently at the Structural Process, differently at Drafting Process, differently at the syntax level of the Revision Process.

I went into the frozen wilderness to sort it out into what they call our thesis — a publishable novel. That means we have to tick the boxes for industry standards. As of 5 am this morning (or “last night” to my perspective) I completed my novel according to industry standards. I fell behind my schedule. I worked earnestly at my thesis, not even taking a break. In September, I knew I would not make the deadline AND tick all the boxes. I chose to write to standards.

Early in January, I freaked out because I couldn’t execute the revision process to standard. It wasn’t until I realized the separation and integration of the Processes that I began to make sense of it all. I have, since seventh-grade, struggled most with the syntax level of literary art. I broke free. Free at last! When I saw how elements work different at each Process level, I began to understand how to use them

As of this afternoon, 18 days late, I officially had my thesis approved. My knees are wiggly, my head dizzy, and I’m tired of grilled cheese sandwiches. I looked yo from my crawling out of the wilderness to see an oasis. All of you at Carrot Ranch.

D. Avery, Kid, Pal, and Friends have managed the reins in my absence. H.R.R. Gorman has united us all in surrounding and celebrating a fellow among us. Hugh Roberts plunged into his column, as did Colleen Chesebro with a new poetry feature at the Saddle Up Saloon. This is an amazing community of people who happen to read, write and make literary art. You are water to my parched throat.

It is good to be back!

NOTE: This weeks photo is courtesy of 47th North Belly Dance on a frozen Lake Superior off the Keweenaw Peninsula 2021.

February 25 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word frozen. It can be descriptive, character focused, action driven. Go out onto the ice and find a frozen story. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 2, 2021. 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.

I’m going to do something different just for this week. I’m going to share a 500-word excerpt from Miracle of Ducks. It’s a nod to what I’ve been working on in my absence and I wanted to share a small bite:

SNEAK PEAK: MOD by Charli Mills

Campbell left after he instructed Danni to retrieve their archaeological field camp beyond the safe zone the next morning. They expected the fire to move west. Despite borate bombers, the Cary Canyon Fire mushroomed.
Her cell phone buzzed, and she recognized the earlier unknown caller. “Hello, this is Dr. Danni Gordon.”
“Dr. Gordon, this is Sheila McLeod, public liaison for SandStorm Security.”
“Yes? Is this about my husband, Ike? He’s coming home.”
“There was an incident. In Iraq.”
Danni’s body tingled. The radio report. “I heard three servicemen were killed.”
“Yes, Ma’am. US Army. A joint operation with SandStorm. Your husband remains unaccountable. We’ve monitored communications. No ransoms, no forced statements, no recent… beheadings. His body has not turned up. We’ve listed him presumed dead.”
Danni sank to her knees. “Presumed?”
“We’ll follow protocol. If we have news, we’ll call.”
How long she sat on her knees, she didn’t know. Her deadened legs stumbled to rise. She staggered to the arena and horse stalls. Several Apache Hot Shots leaned on the fence. Their yellow fire retardant shirts clean. They hadn’t gone to the line. Everyone waited for the fire to explode.
“Yá’át’ééh,” one woman said.
Robotic, Danni returned the familiar greeting from undergrad summers among the Dine. Not Apache, she thought. “Yá’át’ééh.”
The group laughed. “So. The bilagaana speaks Navajo.”
Danni needed Blackjack. She ignored the women idled at his stall and climbed the fence.
Another said, “Hey. That horse is blind.”
Blackjack nickered and Danni opened his stall to the arena. Without tack, she guided him to the fence with sounds and firm touches. Using the wooden slats, she mounted her horse. He pranced.
Soft clods cushioned his steps. Freshly turned earth smelled like a womb. No gopher holes, rocks or blow downs impeded his stride. She wrapped her hands in his mane, guided his direction with her knees, and let Blackjack fly. The black and white pinto swooped, a magpie on hooves. Winter races with Ginnie and Cricket had restored his confidence. Throughout summer, Danni coached Ginnie to maneuver a cutting horse, and Ginnie taught Danni to barrel race a blind gelding. Two women waiting for husbands to return from a war zone. Blackjack knew the drill. Danni galloped and released her soul from the confines of panic. She fled beyond thoughts and emotions. Only her and a horse and the thunder of earth beneath them. They rode as one in figure eights. They spun. He reared, and they danced. Numb, she loped to the stall, startled to see a crowd of fire fighters gathered. She heard someone ask, “Who is that?”
The District Supervisor said, “She’s our archaeologist.”
“Dang,” one of the Apache Hotshots said, “That bone digger can ride.”
People chattered about the horse, the moves, the rider. A distraction from the grueling battle against flames. Danni rubbed Blackjack, checked his hooves.
Freya pushed through the gathering and scrambled over the fence. She said, “Rangers’ wives never quit.” Freya had heard the news.

Right Place, Right Time

Sometimes you just seem to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it’s something to celebrate!

Writers responded to the 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.

Curiosity by Saifun Hassam

She remembered that glorious day so well.

Running headlong with the wind along Great Bay’s sandy shores. Stopping abruptly where an abandoned kite lay, the incoming tide tugging at its string.

“Come, come into the ocean” the waves beckoned.

She picked up the kite and ran with it. The wind caught at it! Curious. Would it lift her into the sky too?

She kicked up sand. How many grains of sand on the shores? in her hand? A gazillion.

At night: how many stars? A gazillion.

A dream to explore the stars lightyears away in a sail spaceship.

🥕🥕🥕

Waking Adventure by Ann Edall-Robson

Eyes smile

Welcoming the early ​

morning glow of colour

What escapades

will this day bring

Baileys splashed

in morning coffee

Feet tucked under

reading books

A charcuterie platter

offering treats

Perhaps a wander

Snippets of this and that

to directions unknown

Or a calming glide

on the water

Dip, paddle, silence

Nature’s fingers caress

Is it the gravel roads

enticing the soul

The glory of life

erupting at each

hill crested

Yet the land with

minuscule life welcomes

The scent of sunshine

through the trees

The wonders of life

giving and forgiving

Morsels of celebration

for each waking

adventure

🥕🥕🥕

Birthday Celebrations by Ruchira Khanna

“Did you hear me, Joe?” Patty inquired.

“Yes! I got it. I have to be home on time,” said Joe irritably as he walked out the door.

“I bet he’ll be late, and there goes all my preparation for his birthday party,” Patty whispered to herself as she pulled out the many bowls she had hidden in the oven, away from Joe’s sight. “Oh! I know, how about I move the party to his workplace. That way, I won’t have to fret over him coming on time,” she said with a wide grin and was quick to text all.

🥕🥕🥕

Right Place, Right Time by M J Mallon

The right place at the right time, at ninety-one, that’s a feat. My dad’s ninety-two today. At his birthday celebration last year he astonished us all by serenading the pretty waitress in Russian! Dad’s a Scotsman with one known fear: the snow! He’s always preferred sunny climates. It’s no wonder that he escaped to Malaysia and married my mum, who’s from Kuching, a place that stole his heart too. He always has a tale to tell, or a song to sing and still dreads the snow! Bless him.

🥕🥕🥕

Something To Celebrate by Anita Dawes

Turning 75, something to celebrate, you think?

Not me.

The morning went slow,

dragging my mind further into darkness

Deciding on a fresh cup of coffee to pull myself together,

walk around the Friday market.

I notice a face, my best friend, a sister I should have had.

We lost touch twenty years ago.

Thoughts rush my mind.

Why had we lost touch?

Would she want to speak to me?

Would we have anything to say after so long?

I need not have worried.

My 75th party went like a sixties disco,

With my best friend by my side…

🥕🥕🥕

The Fall Guy by Liz Husebye Hartmann

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

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

“It wasn’t my fault that you drank too much at the party!”

“You should’ve been there to stop me.” A tear slid down as she walked away.

Trevor flipped his hand, palm up, in a bent elbow gesture. “Why did you keep accepting Kevin’s drinks?”

“Because HE was there!”

Just then, a baby bird dropped into his palm and peered up at him, annoyed but grateful.

🥕🥕🥕

The Harsh Truth by Sue Spitulnik

Over coffee, Lexi said, “Mom, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad you left Dad. You’re happy now. Would you mind sharing what gave you the guts to make the move?”

Tessa looked away, remembering, then smiled at her oldest daughter. “I overheard a conversation between the wives of your father’s higher-ups. One wondered to the other if I knew your father’s continual unaccompanied tours were by request. I was shocked at first then soon decided I had been at the right place at the right time to learn the truth.”

“That’s harsh.”

“It was, but beneficial.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Serendipitous Discovery by Nicole Horlings

“Where ends the street, there shall we meet,” the slip of paper stated.

Jack chuckled, paused his exploration of the old mansion, and followed the road out of town, strolling along until it finally ended at the edge of the forest. A fairy flew down from a tree. “You found my note.”

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Lockdown Literary Launch by Anne Goodwin

The kids needed the laptop for their schoolwork. I needed it to practice addressing the camera instead of the screen. I’d neglected them, constantly checking the joining link and time zones. Learning my lines. But they were good kids, they’d forgive me. They’d have my attention once the book was launched. “Good evening, and welcome!” On Zoom, no-one would see me wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans. Gaze fixed on the camera, I didn’t immediately notice the kids had taken revenge. Rubbish at tech, I couldn’t cancel the filter. I read out my poignant passages as a cat.

🥕🥕🥕

Pu-Chai by Colleen Chesebro

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

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

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

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

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

He nosed my hand through the cage.

“I’ll take him.”

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

“Sold.”

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

🥕🥕🥕

We All Have A Purpose by Ritu Bhathal

Walking home, shoulders slumped, I wondered what my purpose was. No one really needed me. What use was I? Might as well just keep walking, until I walked off a cliff. No one would miss me.

A sound caught my ear. A whimper. I looked around. No one.

Another little yelp brought me closer to a box. The flap was open, and inside I found him. The runt of the litter, left, abandoned.

He looked up at me with those eyes, and it was in that moment I realised that I did have someone to live for, after all.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Cause for Celebration by Rebecca Glaessner

A metal ship crossed the perfect sector. Great Mind opened a path beside the ship as a youngling’s human host floated out. Great Mind pulled the host through and sealed the path. The ship drifted onward, oblivious.

“Ugh-” the host, a human female, stumbled beneath unexpected gravity. “We’re saved!” came a voice in her head. She stared at the alien structures, the creatures beyond.

“You are home,” began Great Mind, “we aren’t yet part of your second world. It’s not safe.”

“No-“

“When we supplant an Elder, you’ll be returned. For now, you are home.”

“This is not home.”

🥕🥕🥕

Right Place, Right Time by FloridaBorne

Atop the Ferris wheel, with no other riders, Marjorie felt free for a few minutes each day, compliments of her father, who owned this stately wonder. Father understood that each generation possessed a different gift. His charm attracted riders. In winter, when the park closed, Marjorie’s victims provided anything he asked. Her mother felt contentment inside their home, refusing to leave a vessel filled with her love. Today, Marjorie had walked among the crowd, implanting ideas and imparting suggestions into unsuspecting minds. Sherlock Holmes had appeared and she’d saved her family! Neither he nor his client remembered their investigation.

🥕🥕🥕

Just in Time! by Joanne Fisher

Jeremy’s car had broken down, so he walked to the creepy castle in the middle of a thunder storm for assistance. When he knocked on the door, it was answered by a creepy-looking old man who led him straight to his Master. While Jeremy explained to the Master about his car, everything suddenly went black and he collapsed onto the floor.

“That was fortunate. Talk about right place, right time!” the Master said as he looked down on his creation, now with Jeremy’s stretched face added. “Now Igor, let’s hook this up to the grid, and see what happens!”

🥕🥕🥕

No Mention by Simon

He wore it for the first time and looked in the mirror, he saw himself as his own mother wearing it. And something inevitable happened, his dad entered and saw his son standing in front of the mirror wearing his wife’s skirt. The rage in his eyes burned his son alive.

At the right time, his step mother entered and saved him, stating he was practising for the drama and helped him tie the skirt properly and placed a kiss on his cheek and said he looked pretty, Just like his mum.

He thanked her.

She said no mention.

🥕🥕🥕

A Million Dollar Question by Goldie

They stopped at the local bar on their evening walk around town.

“Wanna get a drink?” Scott asked.

“Sure,” Emily shrugged.

Inside, a live band played and patrons swayed to the beat. The music was loud, but the vocals decent and the songs classic.

“I said: ‘Hey! What’s going on?’” Scott belted out.

“Hmmm… but he only sings funny, made up lyrics,” Emily frowned.

When Linda Perry sat down next to the couple, everything changed. Scott now has a recording deal and Emily a new lover.

Which one of them was at the right place at the right time?

🥕🥕🥕

Cautiously Staged by JulesPaige

Convinced by prompting he

Chose kabuki to

Celebrate life – then he could hide in plain sight

Only a few close friends

Shared his deep secret

He loved to paint his face

And pretend to be

Heroines in plays to arouse audiences

He really had to

Act without costumes

Such was his lot not to

Incite the wrath that

Could befall any who were deemed different

At least in this year, this

Time of harsh judgements

🥕🥕🥕

Overboard by Donna Matthews

“Gonna be a nasty storm!” The captain declares.

Prophetically, it turns out. But he couldn’t know then. Could he?

Looking toward the horizon, I see the dark clouds gathering. The winds soon howl, and rain thrashes our fishing charter. Shaking below, I fear this will be the last of adventures. But hour by hour, the fearsome storm wears itself out and finally settles into a harmless drizzle. Coming up to deckside, I see the entire boat is taking on water! I grab a bucket and start scooping!

“Where is the captain??” my children shout behind me. “Overboard, my guess!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Fish Story by D. Avery

“Luckiest fishing day ever!”

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

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

“We found a hotspot, Daddy!”

Laughing, Hope’s mother headed back inside.

“Hey! Help skin.”

“After some phone calls.”

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

Hope beamed.

“This is the best perch dinner ever!”

🥕🥕🥕

Right Place, Right Time by Di @ pensitivity101

Right place, right time, right nurse, and a casual mention that I qualified for three months free membership with a slimming group.

I signed up, and within a few months had lost almost 3 stones in weight.

Something had been lurking under the flab, and if I hadn’t lost weight, we wouldn’t have found the lump.

Discovered early, it was analyzed and found to be treatable and curable.

Radiotherapy followed, and all was good until 2019.

Not quite so lucky this time, and a mastectomy was needed.

But, again, it was discovered, analyzed, dealt with.

And I’m still here.

🥕🥕🥕

Stargardts by Willow Willers

Norma knew her sight was failing ever since she was ten. But what really worried her was, had she passed this fate on to her daughter?

The day had arrived when they would get the test results. They’d been at the hospital two hours waiting. Finally they were called in. The doctor smiled at them both and without any preamble told them the Stargardts had been passed on.

Outside Jenny hugged Nora. “Mum you can help me through this. I have seen you cope, you have taught me so much already.”

They basked in the warmth of the sun.

🥕🥕🥕

Dominic to the Rescue by Annette Rochelle Aben

Annette loved her job at the Ambassador Bridge. Hers was a glorified secretarial position processing Import and Export paperwork for U.S. Customs. And the friendships formed with people from all walks of life were the best part.

As she did several times a day, Annette walked along the bridge plaza to the Customs dock office. Suddenly, she felt the ground give way under her feet. She screamed for help, and a nearby truck driver grabbed her and pulled her to safety.

It seems she had stepped on a loose manhole cover and that quick-thinking driver actually saved her life!

🥕🥕🥕

European Summer Bill Engleson

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

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

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

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

They relented.

I stayed.

Right decision!

Great summer!

🥕🥕🥕

Jack Shift

“Kid? Yer lookin’ a might discombobulated.”

“Kinda am Pal. Shorty’s cloistered away at Headquarters, schedule’s been shifty, guest hosts at the saloon, an’ a outta season Rodeo? How kin I know I’m in the right place, right time?”

“Thinkin’ we all jist end up where we’re at, when we need ta be there. Doin’ whut we do.”
“Reckon… uh, what is it we do?”

“Well, Colleen’s got the Saloon ever’ third Monday, hear tell Chel’s gonna guest host ever’ first Monday, an’ the Sue Vincent Rodeo’s wrappin’ up, winners’ll be ‘nounced March 22.”

“Yep. Agin, we do…?”

“Shush Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

Saddle Up Saloon; Barroom Free For All

“Kid, whut’s goin’ on? Looks like mebbe some movie stars asettin’ at the bar. They here ta take the stage?”

“They might be some sorta celebrities, Pal, but they jist wannered in. I ain’t got no acts or innerviews lined up this week.”

 “These three ladies soun’ like they might be from thet same place as them two blokes thet come through thet time, ‘member? One of ‘em, Logan it was, tangled with yer goats.”

“Think these ladies is arguin’ a might ‘bout where they come from, Pal. Thinkin’ there’s some drama unfoldin’ right here at the bar.”

“Ya best not be eavesdroppin’ on the customers, Kid. Least ways not so’s they notice ya doin’ it. So who’s who?”

“Well, them two at the end a the bar come in t’gether. Venus – that’s the curvaceous one with the dangly earrings – said Diana needed a drink ta calm her nerves.”

“So they are going on stage?”

“On a plane. Seems she’s scared a flyin’ but Venus says she’s got ta rise above her fear.”

“She’s goin’ fer her pilot’s license?”

“Jist as a passenger. There’s some place she’s gotta visit. Cairo. Think that’s in Illinois.”

“Or Egypt.”

“Gypped? Nobody gypped me, Pal. These women is runnin’ tabs. Anyway, then this other lady come in, name a Ruth Thompson. That’s when it got kinda tense.”

“They’re campin?”

“What? No! The first two, Diana an’ Venus,  are jist on a day trip. They’ll sleep at home t’night. An’ if Diana ever gits ta Cairo, she’s gonna stay with a friend.”

“An’ who’s the older one? Thet Venus don’t look so pleased ta see her.”

“Ms. Thompson. She’s movin’ ta France ta live.”

“An’ here they are, at the Saddle Up Saloon. Strange. Hey! Whoa. Stop. Back up. Them’s characters outta Anne Goodwin’s book!”

“Which a her books, Pal?”

Sugar and Snails. Yeah. I recognize Ms. Thompson from A Postcard From the Past; was recently at Story Chat.”

A Postcard From the Past?”

“Yeah, Kid. A Postcard from the Past is a short story based on a scene from one a many drafts a Anne Goodwin’s day-bew novel, Sugar and Snails. Sugar and Snails was published by Inspired Quill in 2015 and shortlisted fer the Polari First Book Prize. Ya kin read it fer free durin’ February 2021 by registering fer Anne’s newsletter here: https://www.subscribepage.com/sugar-and-snails-free-e-book.”

“Uh, Pal, that’s real awesome an’ all, but mebbe we best git back ta the bar. Somethin’s goin’ on.”

“Put it behind you? Just ‘put it all behind you’?  It’s that easy to start fresh, ignore your own past?”

“Ma’am, please…”

“Venus, please, just sit down. It’s not her fault. No-one knew what to do with me.”

 “Oh, jeez, Ms. Diana, yer arms. Did ya climb the Poet tree out back or somethin’? Yer scratched up purty good.”

Shit! I thought I’d dealt with that last night. Could I borrow a bar towel, Kid?

A bar towel won’t stop it, you goose! You’ve lost a humongous amount of blood. I’m taking you to A&E.”

***

“Whut is goin’ on? Ms. Thompson, that woman was sure lightin’ inta ya jist then.”

“I’m happy to see that Diana has such a good friend. But that’s all I can say Pal. Confidentiality and such.”

“But… Jeez. What’re ya even doin’ here at the Saddle Up Saloon?”

“I’m sure I don’t know. I’m a minor character in Sugar and Snails. Described as a hippie-haired social worker. The first ‘Ms’ Diana met.”

“Ya musta had a major impact ta keep showin’ up; first at Story Chat, now here.”

“I arranged Diana’s place at an elite boarding school as a teenager. I thought it would help her shake off the past. But it seems it wasn’t enough. If you want to know more, read Sugar and Snails. Remember, Anne Goodwin is offering it for free during February 2021 if you register for her newsletter HERE. And she’ll be discussing it soon in an online event with author Mia Farlane. You’d be welcome to join them.”

“When? Where?”

“Soon! Wednesday the 24th of February, 7 GMT. Just click HERE. Now, I must catch my plane. I have someone waiting for me in the Dordogne, someone special. I am sorry for causing tension in your lovely saloon. Good bye.”

“Bye, Ms. Thompson.”

***

“Kid thet was weird.”

“Ah, come on Pal, jist some harmless characters that ended up at the saloon. It happens.”

“Since when is the Saddle Up Saloon a layover for flights ta France an’ Cairo?”

“Jist this week, Pal. Jist as long as Anne Goodwin’s free e-book offer lasts.”

“Soun’s good. Reckon them women’ll ever come back by here?”

“Hard ta say, not knowin’, Pal. Why d’ya ask?”

“’Cause all three a them characters left yer bar without payin’ fer their drinks. Sayin’.”

“Yeesh! Gypped!”

“Yep, Egypt. An the uther one is done gone ta Dordogne, doggone it.”

https://www.subscribepage.com/sugar-and-snails-free-e-book

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Anne Goodwin is the author of two novels and a short story collection. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Throughout February, subscribers to her newsletter can read Sugar and Snails for free: https://www.subscribepage.com/sugar-and-snails-free-e-book 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnJ5pbhSLho&feature=youtu.be

Website: annegoodwin.weebly.com

Twitter @Annecdotist.

Link tree https://linktr.ee/annecdotist

Amazon author page: viewauthor.at/AnneGoodwin

YouTube: Anne Goodwin’s YouTube channel

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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Maths is Everywhere

Maths is something many say they can’t do and didn’t enjoy in school. Many say it’s too boring or too complex or that they don’t understand it. If you have an aversion to maths, you’re not alone, and you probably don’t want me quoting figures about what percentage of the population suffers from it. Let me just say, it’s a big number.

However, we use maths every day. We couldn’t function fully in everyday life without it. From the moment we wake up and look at the clock until shutting down at night, we are using mathematics. Even if you don’t look at the clock, knowing that it’s morning is using maths.

You see, many think of maths as having to do exclusively with numbers, but it is more than that. It involves patterns, shape, probability, data collection and problem solving. We use it almost every moment of the day without giving it a thought.

We use it when we schedule events in order, like deciding what we will do in the day or even in what order we will be dress ourselves.

We use it when we sort items to place onto shelves, in cupboards or drawers.

We use it to work out our budget — what to spend and what to save.

We use it to navigate our way around the neighbourhood or places further afield. 

Since maths is such an integral part of everyday life, it is important to avoid, as far as possible, passing on one’s anxiety about maths to children, not just because they are equally capable of developing it on their own, but because they’d be better off without it.

If a child does experience difficulty in any areas of maths – try to avoid reinforcing it by saying that you always had trouble with maths. Instead, say something like, yes, it is difficult, but we can work on it. We’ll figure it out. Encourage them (and you) to develop a growth, rather than a fixed, mindset. We can all learn given the appropriate support.

As an early childhood educator, I focus on helping children find enjoyment and purpose in the world around them, including things mathematical, from a young age.

Here are a few ways to get your children using maths in everyday situations (without necessarily labelling it as maths) that make its use fun. The suggestions come from 25 ways to keep the children thinking mathematically during the holidays. The full list can be downloaded free from readilearn here.

Number and place value
  • Count items e.g. birds in the sky, shells collected from the beach, people for lunch, steps in a staircase, windows on a house, seats in a bus . . .
  • Include your child in shopping activities
  • When your child is sharing e.g. the biscuits, balloons or slices of fruit, ask them to:
    • Predict if there will be enough for everyone to have one, or more than one each
    • Share out the items, allocating the same number to each
    • Determine if there are any left over and what to do with them
  • Use terms like half and quarter correctly, e.g. when cutting apples, oranges, sandwiches, pizza, to indicate pieces of equal size
  • Read books with number concepts e.g. Pat Hutchins’s The Doorbell Rang, Eric Carle’s Rooster’s off to see the world or Kim Michelle Toft’s One Less Fish
Patterns and algebra
  • Use items to make patterns e.g. sort and create a pattern from shells collected at the beach
  • Look for patterns in the environment e.g. fences, tiles, walls and window, zebra crossings
Measurement and geometry
  • Include your child in cooking activities and allow or support them to:
    • measure the ingredients
    • set the temperature on the oven
    • work out the cooking finish time
  • A child’s understanding of volume and capacity can be developed when they:
    • pour glasses of water from the jug and discuss terms such as enough, full, empty, half or part full, more, less
  • Scales can be used to compare the mass of different items or quantities e.g., compare an apple and an orange, measure the quantity of butter required for a recipe
  • Measuring length can be included by:
    • measuring and comparing height
  • Use the calendar to
    • learn the names and sequence of days in the week or months in the year
    • count the passing days or the number of days until an event
Probability and statistics
  • When discussing the weather or desired activities include the language of probability e.g. possible, certain, likely, unlikely, impossible

These are just a few simple ideas to get you started. I’m sure you will think of many other everyday activities that will help your children develop mathematical concepts.

Celebrate Maths with the International Day of Mathematics

Another reason to celebrate maths and to turn around any negative attitudes is the International Day of Mathematics coming up soon on March 14. This year’s theme is Mathematics for a Better World. I can find no argument with that goal.

If you are keen to be involved, there are suggestions on the website, including a poster competition which is open until 1 March. Most of the suggestions are suitable for older children in classroom groups and organised events. However, I think the Scavenger Hunt could be used by a family working together and the Paper Activities could be adapted for younger children or substituted with; for example, making origami shapes, making shapes from tangrams, completing jigsaw puzzles and colour by number activities.

A gift for you

Many lessons and activities in mathematics for children aged 5 – 7 are available at readilearn. Like the list above, many are free. Others are available individually or as a collection through a small annual subscription. If you would like to see what’s available and whether they may be of benefit to your children, I am happy to offer Carrot Ranchers the first year’s subscription free. Simply use carrot at the checkout to obtain your gift (valid until the International Day of Mathematics, 14 March 2021).

But wait there’s more — Pi Day

Many of you will already know March 14 as Pi Day, celebrated because the date is often written as 3/14 and Pi (the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter) is approximately 3.14.

The Pi Day website is also loaded with mathematical information and activities. I really enjoyed reading the Top 25 Most Interesting Pi Facts. It also lists ten reasons why mathematics is important and has information and videos to support understanding of some hard-to-get concepts.

The Exploratorium is also a great resource for learning about Pi. And of course, if all else fails on Pi Day, eat pie. Of course, you will discuss what fraction of the pie each person gets, won’t you?

The Birthday Paradox

In her post here at the Carrot Ranch last week, D. Avery stated that her husband and her sister-in-law’s mother shared a birthday. In response to the post, Ritu commented that there were a number of overlapping birthdays in her family, and I agreed that there were also a number in mine. I am constantly amazed by the frequency with which births, deaths and other events in my family fall on the same date while other dates remain bare.

I guess the further you cast the net, the more dates will coincide. However, I was intrigued by a phenomenon referred to as the birthday paradox. This states that in a room of 23 people, there is a fifty-fifty chance of two people having the same birthday. It doesn’t seem that likely to me but then others more mathematically able have worked out the probability.

What’s your birthday?

I thought it might be fun to compare dates to see how many of the Carrot Ranchers’ birthdays overlap. To join in, just pop your birthday (no year required) in the comments. I’m 18 June.

Matching family birthdays

Although I am one of 10 (so 12 in the family), there are no overlapping birthdays, though some are close with just one day apart. We only have to move sideways and compare the cousins’ birthdays to find a few that match, some with three or more sharing the same day.

I was interested in the following information that came up when searching the birthday paradox, so I followed it to the source at KLTV and an article about Unusual Mother Trivia

The highest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, to the first wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782) of Shuya, Russia. Between 1725 and 1765, in a total of 27 confinements, she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. 67 of them survived infancy.

My mind boggles. Of course, each set of twins, triplets and quadruplets share the same date, but there were 27 ‘confinements’, so chances are there were at least two matching birthdates in different years. Unfortunately, there appears to be no proof of the births or of the claim itself. Vassilyev’s wife, identified as Valentina in this article on Wikipedia, must have been healthy and strong. In fact, the meaning ‘healthy and strong’ is attributed to the name Valentina. Another coincidence? What are the chances of that?

Enjoy your mathematical encounters.

Until next time.

Norah

February 18: Flash Fiction Challenge

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

All we need is a post and a prompt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then all day

you think

how

lucky

you were

to be there.

Some of my best

celebrations

are sudden surprises

like that.

If you weren’t outside

at that

exact

moment,

you’d miss them.”

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

I celebrate

with horned toads

and ravens

and lizards

and quail…

And Friend,

it’s not

a bad

party. ”

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

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

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

It has to be something

I plan to remember

the rest of my life.

You can tell

what’s worth

 a celebration

because

your heart will

POUND

and

you’ll feel

like you’re standing

on top of a mountain

and you’ll

catch your breath

like you were

breathing

some new kind of air.

Otherwise,

I count it just

an average day.

(I told you

I was

choosy.)

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

~D. Avery

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

Respond by February 23, 2021, to be included in the compilation. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

A Fish Story by D. Avery

“Luckiest fishing day ever!”

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

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

“We found a hotspot, Daddy!”

Laughing, Hope’s mother headed back inside.

“Hey! Help skin.”

“After some phone calls.”

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

Hope beamed.

“This is the best perch dinner ever!”

🥕🥕🥕

Special Sue Vincent Collection

Stories in this collection honor fellow writer, Sue Vincent who has impacted the lives of many around the world through her stories and prompts. Life is a river of consciousness where writers dip their quills. Sue has provided us access.

Writers responded to the 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.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

Dust of Life by FloridaBorne

We gather the dust of life, floating inside a watery womb.

We burst into a world too cold, light too bright, sounds too harsh, searching for sustenance.

Held in soft arms, comforted by a lullaby, we forget that once we floated in God’s arms, listening to celestial music.

Our universe becomes a nuclear family, adults become gods that fall from favor once we discover their flaws. We become gods to a new generation and fear the loss of our borrowed time.

We cast away the dust of life to float in a universe of joy… knowing we’re finally home.

🥕🥕🥕

Adrift by Rebecca Glaessner

A youngling cast eyes skyward upon birth. Energies entered its being, strengthened its mind, its heart.

That youngling grew, phased, loved, laughed. Built together a house-family, welcomed partners and friends, life happy and full.

Years on, now-grown, they lay ready. Every village eagerly awaiting the next youngling’s birth on the morrow.

Eyes closed now, their mind drifted.

No longer amongst their house-family’s hearts, but rather above, looking down upon sprawling villages-turned-cities.

How they’d all grown.

Life flowed onward.

A new youngling cast eyes skyward upon birth, its mind and heart strengthened by an ancient energy.

Unseen, yet deeply felt.

🥕🥕🥕

The Everyday Physics of Dreams by Jeff Gard

Like matter, dreams cannot be destroyed. Unlike matter, they are created by scattered dandelion seeds, extinguished birthday candles, teeth hidden under pillows, and wishes cast upon twinkling stars. They are first kisses, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, and promotions. Desires are our bones and blood. One day we will exhale our aspirations. They will rise on thermals, waver within a red and green Aurora Borealis. They will race into space, outpacing radio waves and light. They will dance in the Milky Way and body surf Saturn’s rings. In spiraling clouds of gas and dust, our dreams will condense into newborn stars.

🥕🥕🥕

My Thoughts Move Like Water by Brandon Ellrich

Sometimes quickly over rocks with ripples and waves,

Moving so swiftly I get lost and afraid.

At times it slows, spreading deep and wide,

Touching places unknown, feeling peace inside.

As the river bends and winds I go to and fro,

Joined by streams and rains, as I learn and grow.

I give of myself to those who thirst,

And I am changed for better or worse.

I draw near the ocean and my journey’s end,

And reunited with lost family and friends.

Part of the whole, the greatness, the sea,

My body is loosed, my soul is free!

🥕🥕🥕

Every Ripple by Willow Willers

“What are you looking at?” the young man asked the older woman.

Smiling she turned to answered him. “I am looking at life.”

Perplexed the young man wondered what she meant. “Every ripple, every shimmer of light upon the water is a life, a story. You see we all flow from the source encountering highs and lows as we meander along. Traveling though the seasons we learn. Small streams join as we travel they do not diminish us but help to us grow as we journey on to reach our sea of enlightenment.

The young man saw the truth.

🥕🥕🥕

Believe by Sherri Matthews

She waited by the brook where the fairies played. Where water bubbled gently over smooth, wet stones – she had seen them. Sparkle sunlight drops had danced and promised it would be all right. But years had passed and she wasn’t all right. Where had their promises gone? Like the river beyond she had yet to find, did they exist? How could she trust when she’d known only lies? A twig snapped, she gasped. He had come! She ran to his embrace, he kissed her tears away and said, ‘I never left you.’ And the girl now a woman believed.

🥕🥕🥕

Forward Facing by JulesPaige

An odd vista up in the Arizona mountains, riding on a paddlewheel riverboat on a manmade lake. After taking twisting winding roads, some one lane only to reach our destination. The cacti forests were over hundreds of years old, their multiple arms each at one point a stub at fifty years young, amid the scenery. What more could we wish for? A new beginning perhaps for the loved one we had lost. Buried in a box in the same plot as their spouse. Thankful to still have each other to lean on. We silently contemplated where we were going.

🥕🥕🥕

Lynn Valley: Tom by Saifun Hassam

When Janice died shortly after her second brain tumor surgery, Tom was desolate. He felt marooned on a sandy bar, his capsized boat swept swiftly downstream on a mountain river. He felt he was in that river cascading over boulders and rocks, perhaps to disappear into a desert even.

Tom went kayaking again on Seasquall River. It was painful at first. The glint of sunshine on the whitecaps. The distant snowcapped Seasquall Mountains. In Lynn Valley, he spent time with Aunt Bev and his cousin Hannah. Their love turned his silence into conversations and his moroseness into laughter. Janice.

🥕🥕🥕

Trust by Bill Engleson

I stand on the bank of the river.
It winds through my starving soul,
the water, cool, clear, dream-like,
as I float on its sea-bound roll.

I stand on the shore of the river,
pebbles, pools, and sandstone knoll,
as a broken limb of arbutus
drifts by in the currents control.

I wade knee-deep in the river,
stand in a soothing shoal,
bend, as one will in a river,
take hold of my new walking pole.

I drift in the flow of the river,
no destination, no particular goal.
Full fealty to the river,
Allegiance to my inevitable toll.

🥕🥕🥕

Flow by Myrna Migala

A child is born, parents have high hopes, small as a sprinkle, and grows as the world pulls the child into it.
Growing and flowing began a small stream. Gravity pulls it down, moving toward an ocean of eternity. Banking, down to the river’s future. The twists and turns, the bends. The land around is life! Changing from an uphill climb to a comfortable flow in a low valley. Life as a river flowing from height, beginning down through the world. Ups, downs, twists, bends. Life, a gift — a river that someday will end. Ends — or begins again?

🥕🥕🥕

The Ripples of Life by Norah Colvin

The stone made a mini fountain where it plunged into the water. The boy and the man watched the ripples spread. The boy’s eyes filled with wonder, the man’s with life’s wisdom.

“Where do the ripples go?” asked the boy.

“Everywhere,” said the man. “Even when we no longer see them, their effects go on. Like that stone, we make a splash in our family when we arrive. Our circles grow as we grow. Our lives touch more and more. We may never know the effects, but they are there, rippling through the world, flowing forever in the river of life.”

🥕🥕🥕

Life Explored by Jo Elizabeth Pinto

They sat on the riverbank, the waning sun on their shoulders, poles in their hands with limp lines in the still water, their laughter light on the air.

“A tug, a tug,” she said. He took her pole, his hands over hers.

“Gentle … gentle …”

They lifted the trout, shining, dripping–he held it below the gills while she felt its curves, its muscles rippling. Then he quickly slipped it off the hook and let it drop with a splash; it disappeared into the stream of life.

He touched her cheek tenderly; his wet hands smelled of fish.

🥕🥕🥕

Off Balance by JulesPaige

Too many adults weren’t talking. Too many changes were taking place at one time. Her river of consciousness had divided to conquer the fragile sanity that only a child who is kept in the dark after a parent’s death can muster. Willing herself to be in a place of comfort, she sat comfortably in her grammar school art class until the teacher asked why she wasn’t in her reading class. The magic bubble burst, hope dissolved like candy floss on the tongue. Reality slammed her back where her body sat like a mannequin. Reality was cold, bitter and harsh.

🥕🥕🥕

Through the Rough by Gloria McBreen

As a young girl, under the watchful eyes of my father, I paddled with the minnow in the shallow part of Dundragon River. The safe part, where the water flowed gently across a million pebbles. As years passed, I ventured further up the river. Deeper, muddier waters, where I learned to trust my own judgement in the absence of my protector. Tread carefully or be swallowed. Keep my head above the water and prepare for the inevitable ripples. When the dam breaks, keep swimming, knowing that those watchful eyes will guide me across the rough, to gentle waters again.

🥕🥕🥕

Choices by Ruchira

Today, as I stand on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and observe the waves come crashing, I contemplate upon my life. The goals I had in mind, but the choices I made, paved an unknown path. It made me wonder why I chose to tread on it? Why didn’t I give up and decide to pursue my goals instead? Just then, drops of water fall on my face, and a smile crosses my lips. Aah! It gave me happiness and peace of mind. It’s impressive how life can flow in a flashback anywhere as a river of consciousness.

🥕🥕🥕

Clearing Your Mind by Ellen Best

Sit unmoving, unrestricted by the flimflam of everyday drudgery. Listen, hear the burble of the brook giving life to fish, frog and newt. Hear the flop flap as webbed feet slap to keep her afloat, the duck rounding up her ducklings. Inhale, fill your lungs and hold until your head swims, like that day, you took your first sip of golden nectar; back when you were too young to try it. Give thanks for the now. When you hear the beating wing of the hummingbird moth you are there. in the right space to know the measure of self.

🥕🥕🥕

Do What You Love by M J Mallon

What makes us human extends beyond the care we give our young. Perhaps it is our creativity which marks us as distinctive from other species. Life is akin to a river of consciousness, we may drift along, or choose who we truly desire to be. Whatever we decide, we must live life to the full, expressing ourselves in music, words, performance, or art. Troubling obstacles will come and go, pebbles of uncertainty, meandering moments, thunderstorms and floods of tears, unsure and uncertain times. To accomplish our hearts’ desires we must stay focused, determined and resolute on life’s turbulent river.

🥕🥕🥕

Common Waters by Kerry E.B. Black

Everyone knows brooks babble, but not everyone listens.

Legends explain waters spring from the same source – Then take on their own lives. Sometimes they secret underground, but other times, they flow, vast and muddied with so much information, even the most astute has trouble understanding.

Clever streams of consciousness skip from rock to pond, clear, youthful, only to pool resources and tumble as mighty waterfalls. Be they sluggish and algae-thick or coursing with rapid purpose, people dip into waterways in dreams Jung interpreted as universal understanding.

We test waters to share commonalities, if only while we wade and listen.

🥕🥕🥕

Clouded by JulesPaige

within the acceptable range

all the courses, the trails

worked up and down, predator and prey

 in the air or on the ground…

the black bear went over the mountain

crossing the valley…

test results were blurry facts

that just flowed on the page like that snow melt

from the peaks into the common valley below

who wanted to read the writing

that determined any finality?

who wanted to read the last sentence?

🥕🥕🥕

Life’s Flow by theindieshe

She lived in an ivory castle with pink lined walls beneath the canopy of the bright blue sky and spun happy dreams. But Sisters of Fate deluged her paradise and she drifted into stormy waters. Meandering down the cobbled bed, she was tossed and turned to be chiseled fine. Savouring each rough tumble, she bravely flowed on to learn new lessons at each turn. The tiny bubbling rivulets infused a surge of hope in the weary, battered soul. She drifted along to new shores to make a fresh beginning. She was reborn to be as bold as an unleashed tempest.

🥕🥕🥕

A River’s String of Consciousness by Kate

I am a river born from the rattling-cold mountain streams, a peaceful current sliding around rocks and meandering amongst the trees, on my way to the sea. Silver-coloured fish hide beneath my surface while armored turtles plod covertly along my bed. Iridescent and blue, playful dragonflies swoop over my waters catching their prey and howling coyotes come out at night and frighten the gentle deer away. People rarely visit me, but when they do, they usually come alone or in twos. They always sit and listen to the gurgling of my waves, while I give comfort to their souls.

🥕🥕🥕

Epic Places: Crater Lakes: Jeff by Saifun Hassam

That spring, when the snow melted, the earth tremor’s impact on the Crater Lakes’ bio-habitat became more evident. The historic Ranger Station west of Lizard Lake tilted at an alarming sharp angle. Lizard Lake, an ancient volcanic crater, overflowed with snowmelt from a new underground river. Green Lake, a meteorite crater lake, had sunk deeper into its bedrock. Its marshes were alive with songbirds. Jeff discovered a new sinkhole near the Greenford River bearing snowmelt from the Granite Mountains. Broken pine trees and rock debris filled the dry sinkhole. In time Greenford River would flow into a new lake.

🥕🥕🥕

Forms by D. Wallace Peach

“Men are like the wind,” she said as they strolled beside the river. “Untamable, borderless, playing life like a flute.”

He grinned. “And women?”

“Rivers.” Her gaze roamed to the water. “We possess boundaries through which we channel our power, connecting the past spring to the future sea, always present as the river is present, though each day it is entirely new.”

“Am I truly the wind?”

“I think you are clay,” she decided with a laugh. “You’re still forming. Pushing and poking. But do not worry. I am the river. I’ll keep you from drying before you’re done.”

🥕🥕🥕

No Vessel by Anita Dawes

Shout it from the roof tops
Climb the highest mountain
Let out that long held yell
The universe should know better
Than pluck a beautiful flower too soon
How dare that unseen hand
take that which we long to keep
Rage against the injustice across the planet
Rub out as much of it as you can.
Beautiful people, music, words of a song
They leave their mark on your heart,
Live for ever, in memory
they remain forever young.
Love flows like a river from heaven.
So much, it cannot be contained.
No vessel will hold it all…

🥕🥕🥕

River Drops by Barb Taub

My beachball, almost as big as my 4-year-old self, shivered in the current carrying it away. I laughed.

My fluorescent pink float dropped into the River Liffey, tracing the path in Ulysses we’d read together. He laughed.

My children dropped sticks from the bridge into the stream below. We laughed.

I dropped his ashes into the waves above the beach we’d loved. I remembered laughing.

I stand at the water’s edge. A bobbing flotilla approaches, beachball stripes proudly at front. All the bright tear-filled laughter calls, my flotsam raft. I step aboard, head out to sea. All the laughs…

🥕🥕🥕

Finitely Endless by Goldie

I was born high up in the mountains. In the beginning, full of energy and with my head up in the clouds, I navigated twists and turns with little care. Splashing outside my confines, I caressed rocks, inviting them to join the party. Some gave in and rolled with me, while others remained stagnant. Somewhere along the way, the terrain had changed, and the excitement vanished. Open plains contained me. There will come a time when I take my last breath and become one with the sea, but, until then, I must keep on running. Running like a river.

🥕🥕🥕

The Life River by Ritu Bhathal 

Life is a river

Of consciousness

Each of us a drop

Merging together

To become one

When we clash

Life flows

Unevenly

Turbulent currents

Water gushing

Fiercely

Banging and crashing

Against the banks

When we live

Harmoniously

Gentle ripples

Dapple the surface

Creating

The illusion

Of peace

Together we flow

Side by side

Whether we like it

Or not

Life is a river

Of consciousness

Echoing the

Ebbs and flows

Of life

River beds

Dry up

River banks

Burst

But, in the end

The river

Continues to flow

Like life

Ups and downs

Ebbs and flows

Life goes on

🥕🥕🥕

From Where I Came by Donna Matthews

It’s summer; you’d think it’d be hot, but not so in northern California. Instead, downright chilly, I think, as the freezing river water makes its way inside my shoes. We have two miles to hike along this riverbed to reach the Tall Tree Grove. As typical on the trail, my thoughts soon join my feet in wandering. I love the cold air on my cheeks. Yes, the feeling of being wide awake at this moment — exactly where I need to be. Finding myself at the exit into the woods, I stop and look back from where I came.

🥕🥕🥕

On Beeley Moor by Anne Goodwin

Legend coats this landscape: stone circles, the bronze-age burial mound, Hob Hurst’s House. Layers of later industry: guide stoops for the packhorse trails, millstones left unfinished when grit-grey bread went stale. My thoughts flow through histories of those I’ve met here, steered here, recollected on these moors. Consciousness a stream of memories adrift from date or time. Ideas I’ve birthed amid the heather, drowned in peat-bog, revived on bilberry bushes as green hairstreaks feed. Until the final stile prompts my wondering: What happened to the ice cream lady? How many rambles since her van’s been spotted on the bend?

🥕🥕🥕

River Life by Di @ pensitivity101

Silence and solitude,
Magnificence of Nature,
What secrets does the river hold?
A haven for wildlife,
A studio for birdsong,
Each has a story to be told.
The river bends, hiding
Its twists and turns of mystery,
Reflected images awaken,
Dawns and sunsets,
Colours undaunted,
Feathers and foliage shaken.
Ripples are gentle,
Cascading outwards,
Tickling the surface so sweetly,
Poetry in motion,
Majestic and regal,
At one with each other completely.
Man is a visitor,
This world is for learning,
Take heed and a privileged pride,
Watch, see and wonder,
Relax in its splendour,
Its beauty cannot be denied.

🥕🥕🥕

From One Question To The Next, Ad Infinitum by Geoff Le Pard

Earliest memories are impossible to confirm, as time coalesces when young. Mine, if it be such involves me, in my pushchair watching a thrush smash a snail on a flagstone. My reaction was to ask my mother why. First memory and first question.

Life runs on questions, expanding from the toddler’s incessant whys, through the hows and whens and wheres to the teenager’s whatevers and beyond.

We paddle forwards on those questions, sometimes battling intractable ignorance and at others flowing easily as answers accumulate in our wake.

Eventually Mother Nature answers my final why with a terse ‘why not’.

🥕🥕🥕

The Hunter by D. Avery

The pale winter light was already waning when he began following the buck.

Only the frost sparkled moon witnessed his pursuit farther and farther into the snowy woods.

The buck loped across the snow covered river, looked back from the tree line. He followed. Midway he heard water chuckling under soft ice. Breaking through, he chuckled too, suddenly realizing the joke.

Letting go his rifle, he slogged through deep icy slush, pulled himself up to where the deer had disappeared. Soaked and freezing, he nestled into the snow, saw the river of stars overhead.

He chuckled again. Another river.

🥕🥕🥕

The River of Life: Double Ennead by Colleen M. Chesebro

dawn reflections shimmer

a blood-red birthing

the new journey meanders in small ripples

searching for a known truth

testing the waters

a small stream traverses

the land, growth is key

consciousness actuates a forward passage

as water rushes fast,

over stones ahead

From the sun’s dying light

the darkness succumbs

to the passage of time, the river still flows

 in the celebration 

of a life well lived

🥕🥕🥕

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