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S.M.A.G., Norah Colvin, @NorahClovin

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Saddle Up Saloon; Walk About

Saddle Up Saloon

“Dang it, Pal, what’s she doing here? I told ya! Barely been a week an’ here she is. Cain’t jist leave us be.”

“Lighten up, Kid. Don’t fergit, ever’one’s welcome at the Saddle Up Saloon, even our writer. Now shush…. Howdy, D. Avery.”

“What d’ya want?”

“Nice to see you too Kid. Hello Pal. I was just out wandering.”

“So yer lost?”

“No! I recognized the Saloon, thought I’d wander in.”

“Ya got lost!”

“No, Kid, all who wander aren’t lost. More important, even though I don’t always know where I am, I know where I’m not.”

“So here ya are. Jist ignore Kid. Seems ta have a permanent burr unner the saddle. What ya been up to?”

“Walking old trails, Pal, checking out new ones. Look at this.”IMG_1830.jpg

“Oh, thet’s purty. Thet along one a yer trails?”

“Nowadays it’s a public trail, but as a kid I used to fish that brook when the softwoods were so thick it was like cool dark night at noon time along there. It’s out back of my old high school; friends and I used to ski this area in our free periods. I’ll admit, it’s much better skiing now with the groomed trails. There’s a lot of steep back there.”

IMG_1835“So, you like ta jist check up on things in thet neck a the woods?”

“Yeah, I guess so. And it’s an honor to be one of the featured poets on the Poetry Loop. That Loop got me thinking that maybe you two might want to blaze a trail from the saloon.”

“Hate ta admit it, Avery, but that ain’t a bad idea. Could start at the Poet-tree.”

“You’re smelling what I’m stepping in Kid.”

“An’ this bein’ a world wide establishment, we could cut quite a trail! Mebbe ask folks ta share their familiar favorite walks with us here at the saloon. Mebbe they’d share an inspiration from their walkin’ place. Wouldn’t be at all surprised ta see the Poet Lariat spin some syllables.”

“Why here she is now! Hey Jules!

 

fearless too young to

understand consequences 

adventure drew me

 

Now I’m on the flip side getting senior discounts. But I still like me a good stroll in the woods. Theres a special word for that shirin-yoko – forest bathing. And I got to venture up some really nice trails up at Hawk Mountain which is part of the Blue Mountain Ridge and Appalachian Mountain Range. Besides the hawks you can see Bald Eagles and just a great expanse of the valley below. But you need to be prepared. Bring your own water and snacks and always only leave footprints. Best to do with a companion or group… though that takes away some of the being alone and enjoying the woods. 

 

old enough to know

wandering off alone might

not be at all smart

 

0.png“Thet one’s a trailblazer in poetic forms I’m thinkin’.”

“Yep. Might jist inspire other folk. ”

 

 

 

 

“Kid, ya reckon we should enlist the Ranger ta hep folks along the trail? Ya know she’s a tramper of moors. Here’s a picture from the route a her guided walk through Jane Eyre territory. If’n ya zoom out ya kin jist ‘bout see the manor house which is supposedly Charlotte Brontë’s inspiration for Thornfield.”

North Lees from Cattiside 8 March 2020

“Jeez, Pal, ya almost sound like ya know what yer talkin’ ‘bout. Here’s what Anne Goodwin has ta say ‘bout all her moor trampin’:

A bee buzzes past my ear as a meadow pipit springs from among the purpling heather. A tortoiseshell and small heath butterfly weave in and out of each other’s flight paths. Across the shoulder-high bracken, the knock-knock of a stonechat. A patchwork of field and forest spread across rolling hills. My conscious mind on nothing else, I’m surprised when it comes to me: the resolution to a plot problem; a delicious image; a perfect phrase. A story that unfolds a little farther each time my boot hits the peat.

Of course, some gets lost in the drive home, but nothing beats a walk across my beloved moors to progress my writing. Treading familiar paths, I recognise, not just the landmarks, but the ideas I’ve formulated there over the years. The steady rhythm puts me in that state of reverie that nourishes creativity. A long walk not only carries me over the hurdles I’ve met in my fiction, but ameliorates the physical ills generated by long days at a computer.

Anne’s talked b’fore how her walkin’s related ta her writin’. An’ lissen ta this from her Early morning walks in the age of covid, her latest Carrot Ranch flash:

Home to breakfast not rocked with rage but inspired by writerly blossom.

Wunder how many folks is like that when they git out an’ walk.”

“Mebbe they’ll let us know in the comments. Hey, is that…?”

“Shorty?”

“Look agin. Thet’s Charli Mills hersef, come by ta share her walkin’ place with us.”

_storage_emulated_0_IMG_20170812_233517_387.jpg

Over gnarled roots gripping ever-eroding dunes of silica sand, I step. The settled grains of quartz form a drum skin and my steps become a sacred beat. I pause. Breathe deeply of cool air and sun drenched pine needles. The surf is lulled tonight, casting pinks and lavenders across the lake that is absorbing a molten copper sun. I walk on the edge of forest and beach and tumbled rocks of the earth’s record. Trivial matters of modern living fade with each step. I am the drummer. Absolved.”

“Whoa. Thet’s some real fine writin’ Shor— Charli Mills.”

“Ahem. Ms. Mills? You know that’s eleven less than ninety-nine, right?”

“Now you lighten up, Avery. Thet don’t matter. Folks kin write any amount they want fer this, an’ kin write any form or genre they want.”

“So I could use this haiku?

walking in circles

all who wander are not lost

simply on their way

 

“Yep. Seems like thet circles back ta where we started, with ya wanderin’ in from the Poet’s Loop.”

IMG_1834.jpg“It is quite a loop. The selected piece for station #11 is 99 words written for a Carrot Ranch prompt! Superior was inspired by a day at the inland sea up at World Headquarters. Guess all roads, even roads home, lead through Carrot Ranch.”

“Reckon. If yer roamin’ this way. Hey, where ya goin’?”

“Me? I’m going for a walk!

 

taking a first step

getting out of my own way

feet lift off the ground

 

See you later Pal. Kid. Good luck catching stories and poems of Ranchers’ walks this week.”

“Yep, folks, do tell. Where do you walk? What inspires the walk? What does the walk inspire? What’s yer walk about?

July 2: Flash Fiction

A bee bobs over my stack of education — a Paperwhite Kindle in a tattered green case; a copy of Story Genius by Lisa Cron as worn as old summer flip-flops; a cheap plastic pencil box filled with colorful gel pens and peony-pink sticky notes; a folder full of plots and timeline notes. Despite the bounty contained there, the bee moves on to inspect the unfurling of French marigolds. The flowers are a deep cabernet, lined in dark gold. I grew them from seed and smile that the bee acknowledges my efforts to garden.

Will my thesis, one day, know such regard?

As artists, we require the interaction of readers, viewers, listeners the same way my courgettes requires the company of bumblebees. Otherwise, we labor without fruit. A writer writes, but there must be some sort of regard of the product. Even a private diary or feelings journal offers insights when reread. At the very least, reading our own output establishes literary art. We are the first to be transfixed or transformed by it.

Handing over our work to the gaze of unknown worker bees feels like exposure. We keep our blossoms close while we write, shading future fruit from direct sunlight with leaves broad as palms as if to say, hands-off. Yet, we must invite the bees in closely, open up tender petals of the page and allow for probing investigation. What does the reader see, we wonder, hoping they don’t see the parts we thought protected. But we put it all out there — our thoughts and feelings, our experiences and imaginings, our deliberations and unconscious biases — and call it fiction.

We call it many things, our literary art, our edible blossoms, our hopes of fruit and best sellers. We call it memoir or personal essay or environmental writing. We call it fantasy or romance or young adult. We call it prose or poetry. In the end, creative writing is fiction the way courgettes are zucchinis. Different names for something beautiful we grow to be consumed. The moment we push the seed into the soil is the same moment we press the keys. We start a story.

Some might argue the semantics or bristle at calling their output fiction. Am I writing fiction right now? Yes, I am. That doesn’t mean I’m deceiving you or making up stories, but I am reaching down into my heart with content from my head to place my philosophizing into a structure that connects with you. It doesn’t get more authentic than this. To me, I’m giving shape to my truth, hoping to link to yours. Wallace Stegner says we can’t invent without experience. Fiction is rooted in every essence of our lives, no matter what name we give it.

Stegner explains the importance of filling our containers the way we amend the soil of our gardens:

“What I meant was that experience sought for the sake of writing about it may produce reporting, or travel books, but it is not likely to produce literature. And experience is of many kinds, some of them so subtle and quiet it takes a good Geiger counter to detect them.

The way to gain experience is to live, but that does not mean one must go slumming for the exotic or outrageous or adventurous or sordid or, even, unusual. Any experience, looked at steadily, is likely to be strange enough for fiction or poetry.

By the same token, the individual who has lived deeply and widely—and I mean lived, not gone slumming or adventuring for literary purposes—has more to write about, and perhaps a better base for mature wisdom, than someone less privileged.

And yet, I don’t know. What did Thoreau know? He lived deeply in Walden, deeply in books, deeply in his mind. By occupation he was nothing spectacular, part-time surveyor and handyman.

The subject of fiction is not just what one did yesterday. It may borrow from the experience of others than the author.”

Stegner, Wallace. On Teaching and Writing Fiction (pp. 41-42). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Whether we write such experiences in our diaries or in stories constructed of craft elements, we dig first within. No wonder we can feel so exposed to the bees even though our relationships benefit what we write. Bees and readers want honey. We want to harvest what we planted.

So, it is a hot one. As I try to garden and write,  summer arrives relentlessly. I’m missing Vermont, the summer lands of Stegner and Slaytons. What drew my mentor from the West, also draws me — roots. We are a restless sort, Westerners. I am what Stegner describes as the displaced person, “Acquainted with many places, he is rooted in none.” Thus my attraction to a region of placed people, where family has lived for many generations. It is hallowed ground and a sanctuary to someone like me who can appreciate transplanting among the deep roots, even for a brief time each year.

I think writers are a mixture of placed and displaced people. Even rooted, we don’t always feel we belong. Unrooted, and we seek community. We explore externally and then write internally. Stegner calls us to learn to be quiet where we don’t own our writing but belong to it. He was talking about land and rootlessness, but I see it as a driver of all art. The artist doesn’t own the seed, nor does the bee own the blossom, but together they belong to the harvest.

Take a long drink of water this week and share what comes up from the well.

July 2, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the word blossom. You can use the word as a noun or a verb, or even as a name. How does it fit into your story? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by July 7, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Doing Right by Charli Mills

“What’s wrong?” Cate snapped open the canvas covering the freight-wagon. Three pale faces from within stared back in wide-eyed silence.

“Zeb broke my blossom.” Abigail, the youngest, wailed.

“Not-uh. Just made a pile of petals, teachin’ Joseph numbers like Ma did.” Zeb, the eldest, scowled. Joseph hid his face on his older brother’s shoulder.

Cate bit the stem of her pipe. She was a muleskinner not a childminder. With their parents buried three days back, none of the other families stepped up in charity. So, Cate found another blossom, wiped the tears, soothed the fear, and resumed her mules.

I Got Life

Nina Simone understood what it was to lack, but she crooned about having life. What we have lost can often define what we yet have — life. The world spins, seasons change, and generations pass on the baton.

Writers explored life and what it means to have it. Some stories offered insight, others humor, or unexpected twists. This collection has life!

The following stories are based on the June 25, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story with the phrase, “I got life.”

(10-minute read)

I Got Life by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Pre-COVID, we met, early Saturdays, in the Midtown Market. Few stirred: lady mall cop, staff from the attached hospital, lone coffee shop doing brisk business, shops from around the world setting up. We were inspired by Heaven’s scents.

One restaurant owner allowed us space for a free-will donation; he’s a poet and painter himself. In another, possible future, we’ll enjoy his hospitality again. For now, we Zoom.

“Time?”

“Three minutes!”

“OK…prompt is ‘I got life.’”

Puzzled looks.

Anguish.

Biting pens, we gaze to a corner in our separate boxes. Pens touch paper. We begin to scribble.

We got this.

🥕🥕🥕

Result by Joanne Fisher

The scout ship jumped into a new system. Almost immediately the pilots launched probes to the nearest planetary body.

“Results should be coming up now.” said one of the pilots looking at the display in front of them.

“So far nothing.” the other pilot commented as she examined the results. As always, nothing promising… Suddenly there was an alarm and the screen went red. “Hey, I got life!”

They both looked through the window. There in the distance, just coming into view, was a small blue green moon orbiting the larger planet.

They now had somewhere to go to.

🥕🥕🥕

Planet Earth Is Blue by D. Avery

At first, before they sedated and intubated me, my eyes were open. They looked like spacemen.

Can you hear me Major Tom? They don’t know I can hear them. I can.

Though I’m past/100,000 miles/I’m feeling very still. I can’t move. I can’t speak. But I can hear them. They are worried about me. They are worried about themselves. They are scared.

Tell my wife I love her very much/ She knows.

They talk about how pointless it is, say I’m going down. I hear them. Can you hear me Major Tom?

‘Yes,’ I silently scream, ‘I got life.’

🥕🥕🥕

No Lazarus Me by Anne Goodwin

Nine weeks, they told me. Could’ve been nine years. Suspended in a solitary space capsule. Crashing violently to earth.

Resurrection bewildered me. Scarred throat sore from the breathing tube. Limbs learning gravity anew. Homegoing a second culture shock. Staff in scrubs a guard of honour down the exit corridor. Wheelchair-bound, I cringed at their applause.

I couldn’t scale the cliffs to seize the media moniker. I didn’t want to be a heroine. Lazarus. I wanted to be me.

Then sobbing in his arms, I got it. Comeback wasn’t me alone, it was everyone. I got life. We all did.

🥕🥕🥕

Now I’m Living by Susan Sleggs

I was a single military man
A lady here and there
Living the life
I thought of you
Even on the day I met the bomb
I lost my driver
I lost my legs
What’s the point in living
You wouldn’t want me
I met a fierce lady
She taught me to walk
I called her Clarice
She wasn’t you
I went back home
And by God, you did too
Twenty five years later
We’re together again
Today we held baby Emma
Her parents are moving to be near
Now I know why I have life
Four generations’ll do

🥕🥕🥕

Life Sentence by Jeff Gard

Closing his eyes, Marcel imagines there ain’t cinder blocks squeezing the bunk bed, creating a corridor so narrow he can’t walk in his cell without turning sideways first. He dreams of sky, sun, fresh air.

He can’t pretend the bed don’t shake when his roommate coughs and wheezes. He can’t ignore the face mask. When he inhales, it flutters against whiskered cheeks, contaminated air fogging his glasses.

“I got four more months,” his roommate repeats. “What you got?”

Marcel wants to disappear into the threadbare blanket around his shoulders. He’s sweating, but he can’t get warm.

“I got life.”

🥕🥕🥕

Full Sentences by Geoff Le Pard

‘Morgan! Morgan! Are you alright?

‘Wha…? Bloody hell, that was weird.’

‘You were screaming something.’

‘I think it was eating those cheese straws last thing. We had a huge fight.’

‘What about?’

‘What we should wear when we get to the Ranch.’

‘Seriously?’

‘Oh yes. I said jeans. You said a pin-striped suit and spats.’

‘Jeans?’

‘We fought. You died.’

‘Blimey.’

‘I was found guilty of murder, you of a crime of fashion.’

‘What was the sentence?.’

‘Since you’d got death, I got life.’

‘They threw away the key?’

‘They said I’d suffered enough and let me go.’

🥕🥕🥕

He Who Hesitates... by joem18b

I was on vacation in Virginia City when I stopped into an antique store to browse. In the back I found a stack of New Yorker magazines from the Thirties. I opened one at random and found a movie review of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Huh. Interesting. Put the magazine down.

Thought about it that evening. Returned the next day and headed for the back of the store. The stack of New Yorkers was gone.

Up front, I asked a handsome young fellow where the New Yorkers were kept.

“Sold the lot yesterday,” he said, “but I got Life.”

🥕🥕🥕

Hairy Thoughts by Bill Engleson

Simone!

Singing that song!

Hippie joy gone deep.

Soulful!

Hadn’t thought about this in years.

I took a bus to Seattle, late spring, 1970. June, maybe! I’d been bunking in with a friend, providing a shred of male influence to her house guests, first nations borders, teens, from isolated communities up the coast, on the island.

Its pretty much a blur. I was in such an in-between world, a lonely space, sleepwalking, trying to readapt.

So, off I went south to Hair, a local production playing at the Moore theater.

On my return to Vancouver, I got life back.

🥕🥕🥕

I Got Life by FloridaBorne

Once an eager student, the gangly girl finished her paper far later than the rest, eyes downcast.

“Your title is, I got life?” Mrs. Jones asked. “You have an IQ of 134.”

“My brother hits me if I talk like you.”

“We have two languages in the same country! The first is for people who want to have a good job, the second is for those who want to blame others for their failed lives.”

“I don’t know what to do?”

“What if I tutored you after school and called it detention?”

Sheena brightened, “I’d like that a lot!”

🥕🥕🥕

I Got Life! by Eliza Mimski

Miriam had grown up during the time when shaming fat girls was okay. She was heavyset in the middle and by the time she reached fifth grade she wore a C cup bra. Even though she loved to dance, loved sports, she quit because of the comments on the sidelines. But now, in her twenties, times had changed. Fat girls flaunted their bodies in yoga pants and form fitting tops. Miriam’s breasts, her large stomach jiggled up and down when she danced in nightclubs. “I got it! I got life!” she yelled as she kept time to the music.

🥕🥕🥕

Private Percussion by Kerry E.B. Black

I’m a dancer hobbled by regulation. Still, I hum along to the private percussion my heart.

Momma secured an advantageous match for me, one with all the trappings of “making it.” So I try to live up to bejeweled expectations. However, I tumble from atop my stilettos, disused to the thinner, refined air.

I pull within a designer veneer until I’ve buried my old, rebellious self, but it’s like hiding muck-covered boots beneath my mother-in-law’s tea table. I notice guests wrinkle their perfect noses and feign ignorance.

And in private, I still tap out the percussion of my heart.

🥕🥕🥕

Parting Gift by Simon Prathap D

Hey! Mr.Clown, Why you look sad?

I got this bag from a kid, that cried on my whole show, she lost her bag, it has cancer reports. she is just 17.

She will live.

No she won’t, My mom didn’t .

Let’s pray for her.

No, I got this life, with purpose, she never smiled today. I’ll never let her die without smiling.

That is not going to save her.

I am not going to save her, I will give her most happiest days of her life. No one deserves to die in pain. It’s my parting gift for her.

🥕🥕🥕

“I’ll Chase My Dreams! Find New Dreams!” by Saifun Hassam

Crystal clear mountain streams raced down ravines and clefts into the valley creeks. Water wheels turned furiously channeling water onto farms as they always did in springtime.

But this spring there were no farmers. Earthquakes had ripped through the coastal lands. The shores tumbled into the pounding thunderous seas. People fled. People died.

One lone figure stood near the broken ancient temple on the crest of a hill. His mind’s eye saw blue butterfly kites. He remembered children singing.

“I got life, got dreams! I’ll fly into the skies!
I got life! I’ll chase my dreams! Find new dreams!”

🥕🥕🥕

Let’s Do It by Donna Matthews

The little boy lying on his side pushed the car back and forth, whining, “I’m bored!” Rain on the windows and a virus lurking outside, the indoor day spread out before us like a neverending road to nowhere.

Play a game? No
Build a fort? No
Paint a picture? No

In defense, we’ve done these things. Life before the pandemic, a day stuck at home a delicious treat. Now, it’s more of the same with no end in sight.

He looks up at me, eyes pleading, “I got life to live!”

“Outside? Play in puddles?”

“Really?!”

“Let’s do it!”

🥕🥕🥕

I Got Life by Robert Kirkendall

Father ran out of the closet holding a board game. “Hey, look what I got. Life!”

“Another old people’s game?” son moped.

“Yeah, those those things are so passé,” daughter dismissed.

“It’s a classic!” father insisted.

“The kids these days just aren’t into board games,” mother said.

“But they’re so much fun!” father pleaded.

“We’ve already played a ton of board games because of this sucky quarantine!” son complained.

“We’re bored of board games,” daughter said.

“Then how about more stories of my high school glory days,” father said dreamily, “back when I…”

“Please! No more! We’ll play Life.”

🥕🥕🥕

I Got Life by Irene Waters

At sixty
the doctor said,
“Prepare to die.”
Not ready for death
she followed orders
special diet,
multiple pills ingested.

At seventy
the doctor said,
” Carry on.
Increase these pills
breathlessness will be gone.”

All good,
she thought
I got pills.
I got life.

At eighty
the doctor said,
“Things are worse.
Let’s experiment
for a longer life.”

Medication
replaced religion
giving life.

At ninety
“I don’t want to live.
Please Help me die.”
Stopping tablets
Not easily done
when the habit of living
is so strong,
pills taken.

No good,
she thought
I still got life.

🥕🥕🥕

Thank you, I Get It by Annette Rochelle Aben

When I think of all I’ve been through in sixty-three years on this little blue planet, I am in awe. The sad experiences that seemed they would tear my heart out. The happy times I enjoyed so much, they drained me of my energy. But I am not about to complain!

It has all made me the person I am today. Even though when you take a look at me, I may appear to be a bit worse for the wear, I am still here. No worries. And though there’s so much more to learn, halleluiah, I got life!

🥕🥕🥕

gone green and rainbow by JulesPaige

Used to up and left the building. Used to get a box full of mail, mostly junk. Nowadays days go by and nuthin’ honey. No cereal samples, no magazine subscriptions. Less stuff to toss. And because I don’t answer junk calls – I get less of them too.

I got life! My raised garden is growing, I completed a project, and I’m going out to eat tonight!

a tumble in time
chores, favors, fill the gas tank
sun shifts the shadows

six digit number on cell
out of country, hit delete

two hours til dinner
actually inside an
eatery…with friends

🥕🥕🥕

I Got Life by Pete Fanning

For weeks the crowds had swelled in numbers, a collective resistance simmering into rage as they marched the town. They were loud, boisterous, lighting fires and smashing windows, drunk on pilfered spirits as they arrived at officials’ quarters.

These final acts had pushed them too far. Treated as second class citizens, the wealthy had the nerve to say they lived too well. And now, led by Samuel Adams, the mob ransacked the Lieutenant Governor’s mansion, destroyed his possessions and looted the house of furnishings.

In the flames, a resistance was born. And soon, a new country would have life.

🥕🥕🥕

They Can’t Take It All by John Lane

The company can fire me because I argued to the supervisor that I felt running the bandsaw was unsafe. The mortgage company can claim a default on my mortgage because I don’t have a job to pay my bills. The bankruptcy court can take my home because I don’t qualify to have a plan. The bank can take my car for repossession because I don’t have the money to pay my loan. Landlords can refuse to rent to me. All these people can take everything from me, but one thing they can’t take. My spirit. Because I got life.

🥕🥕🥕

After the Boomtown by Charli Mills

Saxophone notes squeaked across the empty hard-packed street. Sophie swung her hips to the tempo, stirring a pot of slow-elk stew over a campfire. “What I’d give for carrots,” she told Hal.

He paused his playing. “You got seeds Miss Sophie. Plant a garden.”

“A garden means I have to stay in this god-forsaken ghost town.” She missed Italy. She missed rain.

Hal played lower, softer until Sophie dished them up bowls. “Won’t always be deserted,” he said when she handed him dinner.

“Got no customers. Got no gold. Got no carrots. Got no husband. But I got life.”

🥕🥕🥕

Got My Fingers, Got My Pal, Got My Hunger, Ain’t Got No Bacon…by D. Avery

“I’m hungry Pal. What’ve we got fer breakfast?”

“Outta bacon. Hens ain’t been layin’.”

“Dang, sure coulda gone fer some eggs an’ bacon. Mebbe you’d make me a smoothie?”

“Couldn’t even if we had the fixin’s. Yer fergittin’ yer blender blunder.”

“They was jist twigs.”

“Yeah, well, now ya know where birch beer don’t come from. S’prised ya still got yer fingers after thet. Shut thet fridge already, Kid. Starin’ an’ wishin’ ain’t gonna put food in it.”

“They’s a jug a milk. We got any cereal?”

“Thinkin’ we are a serial.”

“Aha! Here’s some cereal! I got Life!”

🥕🥕🥕

Combat Boredom with Board Games

Home with the Kids by Norah Colvin

One of the best ways to have fun while learning, or to learn while having fun, is by playing board games. Playing games together as a family helps to bond family relationships. Adjustments can be made to suit most numbers and ages and rules can be adapted to suit your purposes. While the main thing is to have fun together, there is a lot of learning going on too.

Social Skills

One of the greatest benefits of playing board games is the development of social skills.

Some of the social skills children learn include:

Getting along and taking turns

Playing fair — accept the roll (if dice are used) or draw (if cards are used) for example, and respond accordingly: don’t try to pretend it wasn’t a “proper” roll (e.g. dropped); or attempt to change the count by skipping or counting twice on a square.

Abiding by rules — all games have rules. For games to work, the rules need to be followed by everyone. That’s not to say that rules can’t be adjusted to suit the ages and abilities of the player, but there needs to be agreement, and it never works if someone just decides to change a rule mid-game to benefit themselves.

Resilience ­— stay strong and focused and don’t crumple with repeated setbacks: okay, so you’ve been swallowed by this same snake three times now; next time you just might overcome it.

Persistence — keep going: you might roll a succession of small numbers but each moves you closer to the goal.

Humour and fun — always look for the light side: it is just a game after all.

Being a gracious winner and loser — while winning usually feels good, it’s not the winning that matters, it’s how you play the game that matters most.

Other skills

Depending on the game you play, children may also be developing their skills with literacy and numeracy, or even adding to their store of general knowledge.

What games?

A plethora of games are available – new ones and old favourites. Games can often be picked up cheaply at second hand stores or dollar shops. They can also be home made. I have made some that can be downloaded and printed from my readilearn website for just a few dollars each. You can check them out here.

As a child I used to have fun making up games to play with my brothers and sisters. As a parent, I enjoyed making up games with my children. In fact, the Trick or Treat Halloween Game is based on one my daughter and I made together when she was about six or seven.

Why not encourage your children to make up their own games too, or make them up together?

Hundreds of different games of all varieties are available. Those listed below are just some of my favourites that are suitable for the 5 – 8 age group and older. I haven’t even touched on some of the more recent games, of which many more are produced each year.

Alongside some of the games, I’ve listed skills, in addition to the social skills noted above, that children may employ when playing the game.

Please let us know some of your favourite games in the comments.

No equipment necessary

Games like I spy, I’m thinking of or Guess my number require no equipment and can be played anywhere, anytime. These games, while not board games, are good for car trips or waiting times and are also great for combating boredom.

I spy can be played using a beginning letter, for example I spy something beginning with ‘t’; a colour, for example I spy something that is orange; or a shape, for example I spy something that is round like a circle; or by a use or feature, for example, I spy something that has legs.

In I’m thinking of one person decides on a secret person, animal or thing, for example an elephant. The other players ask questions to find out what the secret is. The questions can only be answered with yes or no, for example: Is it living? Does it live on the land? Can it fly?

In Guess my number players try to guess a secret number by asking questions. The questions may only be answered by yes or no, for example Is it bigger than, Is it smaller than, Is it odd? Is it even?

Pencil and paper

If you don’t have a board game handy, but you do have pencil and paper, you can play games like:

Noughts and crosses

Dots and dashes

Hangman

Word search (e.g. find all the little words you can using the letters in ‘ornithorhynchus’)

I don’t think any of these require an explanation. I’ve put them here mainly as a reminder. However, please let me know in the comments if you would like an explanation.

Board Games:

Snakes and Ladders (subitising dots on the dice, counting by ones, one to one correspondence, recognising numbers to 100)

Ludo (subitising dots on the dice, counting by ones, one to one correspondence, strategy)

Chinese Checkers (strategy, planning ahead)

Draughts (strategy, planning ahead)

Scrabble (recognition of letters and words, spelling words, counting score)

*Cluedo (asking questions, recording pertinent information, deductive reasoning, problem solving, planning ahead)

Monopoly (subitising numbers on dice, counting by ones, counting money, reading, comparing amounts of money, following directions, planning, making decisions)

Connect 4 (strategy, planning ahead)

Pass the Pigs (counting, adding to 100, planning, strategy)

Yahtzee (chance, patterns of dice, counting, making decisions, strategy)

Card games are also fun; e.g.

Games with a regular pack of cards

Snap

Go Fish

Happy Families

Old Maid

Memory

Strip Jack Naked (also called Beggar my Neighbour)

Cheat

Once again, I don’t think these games require an explanation but please ask in the comments if you would like any additional information.

Games with their own sets of cards

UNO (matching colours and numbers, understanding special cards)

5 Alive (adding numbers to total 21, understanding special cards)

Jigsaw puzzles

And of course, don’t forget the jigsaw puzzles which help children relate details to the big picture, examine details, and develop knowledge of space and shape awareness.

I hope my brief list has inspired you to open that cupboard and bring out all those old games gathering dust. I hope it has reminded you of fun you had playing games as a child, or, if you didn’t play as a child, bring out the child within to play now.

*I mentioned changing the rules to suit your players and situation. I thought I’d tell you some ways we changed the rules of Cluedo to suit us playing as an intergenerational family. All the players agreed to the changes, acknowledging that the changes would streamline the game and make it more enjoyable.

When we first introduced the game to the younger children, they played as partners alongside an adult so they could learn what was required and pick up some strategy hints for recording information.

We found it tedious having to roll the dice to move from room to room, only to be called back into another room and away from where we wanted to go. First, we eliminated use of the dice, agreeing that we could simply move to whichever room we wanted to be in. Eventually, we streamlined even further so that just the token player we were investigating and the weapon appeared in the room. This made it easy for everyone to see what was being asked and avoided having to repeat multiple times. It made no difference to the fairness or the outcome but the game moved more quickly and was more enjoyable.

Adjustments can be made to almost every game you play to make them more inclusive.

Every day is a good day for playing games, but they may be even more important during our days when outings are restricted.

I’m certain some of the superheroes in this video will be combating boredom with board games.  Enjoy!

Until next time, Norah

Norah Colvin is a lifelong learner and passionate educator. She believes in the power of education to change lives and is committed to raising awareness of ways to support and enhance learning.

Norah has spent her life learning and thinking about how children learn and how best to support their learning. Her own observations as learner, parent and teacher have enhanced understandings developed in both formal and informal study situations.

She believes strongly in the need for learning to be self-initiated, directed and motivated, and the importance of timely and appropriate support for learners on their individual journeys.

While no longer working with children in a school setting, Norah continues to share her passion for education through writing.

Connect with Norah on her blogs NorahColvin.com and readilearn.com.au. She can also be found (occasionally) on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Saddle Up Saloon; the Band Plays On

Saddle Up Saloon

 

 

Co-written by Susan Sleggs, Veteran Stories columnist here at Carrot Ranch and contributor to the Rochester Veterans Writing Group book, United in Service, United in Sacrifice.

 

 

“Kid! Are you up there in thet Poet-Tree? Git down from there!”

“Yer barkin’ up the write tree, Pal, but leave me alone. I’m a settin’ up here workin’ on ma standup material. We gotta have some kinda ennertainment  fer the folks this week.” 

“Yep, thet’s whut I wanted ta talk ta ya about. Kid, ya ever noticed they’s a lot a vets aroun’ here?”

“Duh, Pal, the Ranch is jist down the road. A course they’s vets aroun’. Like if one a the hosses gits sick. The vets come from the hoss-pital. Oh, gotta write that down.”

“No, Kid, vets.”

“Right, the doctors that come check on the cattle, give ‘em their im-moo-nizations. See what I did there? Oh, I got this this week, it’ll be Kid, the standup comic. Did ya hear ‘bout the veterinary surgeon who was a comic? All her patients was in stitches.”

“Not thet kinda vet! Veterans, we’re gonna have veterans inta the saloon this week.”

“What could be better ‘an vets on a Ranch? But animal doctors ain’t as ennertainin’ as me.”

“Git down outta thet tree an’ shush or yer gonna need a doctor. Now jist lissen. I hired a band ta ennertain the folks in the saloon this week. An’ they’s all veterans.”

“You hired the ennertainment? Independent a me?”

“Yep, I did, Kid. In anticipation a Independence Day.”

“Hmmph. Thought we made decisions ‘bout the saloon t’gether. If’n ya wanna do somethin’ independently, include me next time. We’ll be co-independent.”

“Kid, we ain’t got time ta be squabblin’. We gotta set up, git the stage ready.”

“Have I heard a this band?”

“Reckon you have if ya been readin’ Susan Sleggs

 serial.”

“Oh, I have. It’s been killer.”

“Bad word choice, Kid, but yeah, Michael and the Band of Brothers is gonna play the Saddle up Saloon this week. I’m ‘spectin’ ‘em any time now.”

“Pal?”

“What?”

“This band ain’t a bunch of hippies is it, cause I see a painted up van comin’ inta the parking lot. Wait. It says Veteran Music Van.”

“That’s them, Kid. Does the van have wheelchair license plates?”

“Nope.”

“Hmmm. I’m gonna run inside and watch to see how their leader gets out.”

“I kin see ‘im. He’s put a metal square thing on its side outside the van door, now he’s attachin’ a big skinny wheel. Well, looky there, he’s puttin’ another wheel on the other side. Dang if it ain’t a wheelchair and the driver just lowered hisself into it. He’s only got stumps of legs. What happened?”

“Kid, I was explainin’ about vets. He lost ‘em in Afghanistan. IED.”

“Well you couldn’t tell by his face, he’s got the biggest smile I seen in a while. Good thing we got ramps. That old guy gettin’ out t’other side looks a might serious. Wait. There’s another vehicle comin’ in.  Pal?”

“What Kid?”

“You been funnin’ me? These guys is all different ages and colors, how kin they be brothers?”

“Military Brothers I keep tellin’ ya. Git down and we’ll go talk to ‘em in person.”

“I’m comin.”

***

Lit Kit looked when she heard boots on the saloon floor. An average-size man sporting a beard, ponytail, and tartan tam on his head walked to the bar, stuck out his calloused hand, and said, “Mac McCarthy, the ol’ man of the Band of Brothers, known to have some sort o’ squeezebox with me everywhere I go. Your place looks great with all the red, white, and blue decorations. I’ve got a few McCarthy tartan scarves for the crew. If we get into the Irish music, you might feel like donnin’ ‘em.”

“Thank you. I’m sure Kid and Pal will appreciate them,” she said as she tied one of the scarves around her waist.

Kid slipped behind the bar while Pal went to meet the band. “You must be Michael. I talked to you on the phone.”

“Yes. Happy to be here. Setting up the electronics is Kurt, Tyrell’s bringing in the drums, and Thad, Mac’s son, plays the banjo and tin whistle.” As each name was said, the person looked their way to give a small friendly salute. They were all wearing tailored military camouflage short sleeve shirts and black jeans, except Michael, he had on shorts.

***

Kid asked Kit, “You think they look like brothers? That man just said one is t’other one’s son. How kin he be both?”

Michael overheard Kid so wheeled over to the bar and looked at him. “I think I can clear up your confusion if you’ve got a couple minutes to watch a video. The soldiers you’ll see in it are different like we are, and the wars shown are different, but we’ve all been a part of some war so we know what it’s like to be away from home, to fight for what our country tells us to and we’d all do it again if we could. The words describe us pretty well. Here, take a look.” Michael handed him his cell phone and pressed play on the Lyric Video Version of Toby Keith’s American Soldier.

 

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht3ddlh0xm4

 

The band continued setting up while Kid watched the video, and then he repeated it so Pal and Kit could watch. Kid said, “Now I git it. These guys unnerstan’ what it was like ta serve. Sacrifice. Most of us don’t.”

“Jist like I been sayin’.”

“Hey Kid.”

“Yeah, Michael?”

“Would you post our play list?”

“Sure thing. Um, Michael? Do you mind if I do ma standup comedy between sets?”

“But Kid. I was going to do standup.”

“Ya were?”

“But you do it.”

“Ya sure?”

“Yeah, I don’t have a leg to stand on.”

“Ha?”

“Yeah, Kid, you’ve got a leg up on me in standup comedy.”

“Ha, ha?”

“It’s okay, Kid. I lost my legs, not my humor.”

“Yer quite a guy, Michael. I’m real glad you and the Band of Brothers are playin’ at the Saddle Up. I got yer playlist. Do you take requests? I wonder what songs folks would want ta request.”

Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue  –  Toby Keith

Where the Stars and Stripes and The Eagles Fly  –  Aaron Tippen

God Bless the USA  – Lee Greenwood

Ragged Old Flag  –  Johnny Cash 

Red Solo Cup  –  Toby Keith

Friends in Low Places  –  Gath Brooks

Chicken Fried  –  Zac Brown Band

 

“Folks, ya’ll feel free ta leave yer requests in the comments. I’ll start it— John Lennon’s Imagine.

 

Veteran Stories by Susan Sleggs

 

Michael and the rest of this band of brothers are recurring characters penned by Susan Sleggs. They are usually playing at Mac’s bar, the No Thanks Needed. Read Susan’s columns and flash fiction at Carrot Ranch and at Susansleggs.com.

 

 

Pal & Kid are free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up for a wild ride as a saloon guest, contact them via averydede.1@gmail.com.

June 25: Flash Fiction Challenge

My son tells me its 55 days until his wedding. Then he asks, “Dad got his suit, yet?” Trying to get a 56-year-old brain-altered former US Army Ranger into a tailored suit for his son’s wedding is no minor feat. Never mind it was this same man who taught his son to dress up for flying back when the Hub worked for the airlines and we flew standby, dressed to take seats in first class. Now he tells his son he’s going to wear navy-colored sweatpants. Last year, the joking was funny. 55 days out, not so much.

So, my son is harassing me. (Not that I mind, if this is how I get my son to call me every day, I’ll happily be harassed.)

I thought I was on top of the game. I found a mother of the groom dress I liked and contacted a tailor I know through one of my good Keweenaw friends. Her sister designs and sews all her clothes, and they are stylish and vibrant. The tailor looked at the dress and said she could put various patterns together and make me a one-of-a-kind. My friend and I planned to drive to Chicago where her sister lived for a measuring session. Then COVID hit in March.

That’s when I decided to order the original dress. Except, the online bridal shop gets their dresses from China and they could not confirm delivery. At the same time, I ordered something small from China for the Unicorn Room and it still hasn’t arrived. So, I think it was a good call that I did not plunk down hundreds of dollars for an uncertain delivery of a dress. Still, I haven’t had such a fuss over a dress since my own wedding when a friend re-created a western chantilly lace wedding dress from a 1980s Este Lauder ad.

Finally, I found a dress online, in the states, and on the low end of my budget. When it arrived, I tried it on only to find it was too big. I mailed it back and re-ordered a different size, and now I’m worrying that it’s too plain. I’m the kind of person whose fashion sense vacillates between favorite threadbare flannel and blaze orange capris with flowy butterfly top. My gears are too plain and too garish, and I know my son would be horrified if I showed up with his dad in sweats and me in some sequined purple chiffon.

And if that’s not worrisome enough, when the Hub settled on the suit jacket he hastily bought while we were homeless, our son said that would be appropriate for the rehearsal dinner. I had forgotten about attire for the pre-event. In another tailspin, I began searching for a summer cocktail dress on Amazon (how’s that for desperation?). Don’t knock the soul-sucking warehouse of everything — they literally sell everything. I found three dresses and three pairs of sandals. Only one of the dresses would arrive on time so that’s the one I ordered. The shoes, British-made Clarks which I love for comfort and fit, will mysteriously arrive next week.

Then, today I received a package from another dress shop. Somehow, I had forgotten that I panicked over the rehearsal dress sometime shortly after the COVID lockdown began and it arrived today! Where my memory goes, I do not know sometimes. And I say the Hub is brain-altered. Well, aren’t we all. When I pulled the item out of the package, it was a slinky black dress. I’m flannel or eccentric, definitely not slinky black dress. I looked at the size and barked a laugh. I’m also definitely not a size Extra Small. Evidently, some extra-small gal is scratching her head over my extra-large flowy floral cocktail dress. Having taken months to arrive, I dreaded calling the company, but they were helpful and promised to expedite my order.

So when my son calls to check in on his dad’s progress, I hold back on the full naked truth of our wedding clothes snafus. And we did make progress thanks to a wedding shop in town that just re-opened. As of now, the Hub has rented a tux and ordered a suit online after talking to a specialist. Who would have thought it would be the boy to fuss over what to wear for his wedding? The eldest girl got married on an organic farm and butchered her own pig prior to the ceremony. No, that wasn’t part of the ceremony, just the commitment to harvest her own food for the reception. That, the Hub and I could handle. The other girl? She’s brewing beer on Svalbard with her partner and they have no plans to marry. If they do, we’ll need passports and parkas. Easier than finding me a dress or getting the Hub to agree to a suit, I assure you.

At the end of the day, I can take stock and declare, “I got life.”

It’s not the things. It’s not the clothes. As much as I appreciate the home and its fixings, being homeless taught me the value of life. There’s something empowering about declaring ownership over yourself. I got my toes. I got my arms, my hands, my thumbs. I got fingers. I got my head, my brain, my liver. I take in breath. I got life. Let Nina sing it to you, let her words crawl into your soul, watch her face, her body as she gives her life over to her song and piano. Write like you got life.

Things are looking mighty crazy out there in the big wide world, but if we got life, we got hope. This is a time to keep writing. I know the distractions are huge, but so is our capacity for art. Be oppositional — if you want to write a story one way, write it the opposite and see what pops up. You might be surprised. Let characters talk in your head. Don’t interfere, take notes. Imagine the world upsidedown. What would it be like to walk on the sky? Shake it up, shake your booty, dance on the page. And if you have any tips on how to dress up for a special wedding, I’ll try to pay attention.

June 25, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story with the phrase, “I got life.” It can be told from any point of view. What meaning does it lend to your story? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 30, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

After the Boomtown by Charli Mills

Saxophone notes squeaked across the empty hard-packed street. Sophie swung her hips to the tempo, stirring a pot of slow-elk stew over a campfire. “What I’d give for carrots,” she told Hal.

He paused his playing. “You got seeds Miss Sophie. Plant a garden.”

“A garden means I have to stay in this god-forsaken ghost town.” She missed Italy. She missed rain.

Hal played lower, softer until Sophie dished them up bowls. “Won’t always be deserted,” he said when she handed him dinner.

“Got no customers. Got no gold. Got no carrots. Got no husband. But I got life.”

Good Vibrations

Feel the crackle of excitement, the hum of expectation, the warmth of good vibrations. It might be the dentures or it could be the mob to welcome refugees with life-affirming signs. No matter the reason or sensations, we can readily embrace the promise of good vibes.

This week, writers chased the source. They explored people feeling or distributing the good vibes, and came up with surprising stories.

The following are based on the June 18, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes good vibrations.

Music as a Painkiller by John Lane

A cut-rate dentist pulled out the final piece of Jim’s molar using as little Novocain as possible. The dentist refused to sign a prescription for pain, insisting that he could go right back to work. Jim made it as far as the next town before he barely pulled into the convenience store parking lot with his mouth throbbing from the pain. Aware that Jim placed his hand on his jaw, a quick-thinking store clerk grabbed his CD player, walked to Jim’s car and played the song, Beach Boys “Good Vibrations”. The pain slowly went away and Jim fell asleep.

🥕🥕🥕

The Devil Is In The Dentures by Geoff Le Pard

‘Can’t you sit still, Morgan?’

‘I am.’

‘You’re not. Your foot’s twitching like you’re wired to the mains and everything is vibrating. I can hear my own teeth.’

‘My gran was convinced the devil was in her dentures.’

‘I don’t want to know.’

‘You do.’
…….

‘Go on.’

‘She’d a new plate made and the first evening heard voices.’

‘She was a loony?’

‘The neighbour’s radio. Something to do with a harmonica…’

‘Do you mean harmonics?’

‘Do I?’

‘Yes.’

‘Caused vibrations, apparently.’

‘Fascinating. Will you stop vibrating?’

‘They’re good vibrations…’

‘Morgan, please don’t start singing….’

‘I’m picking up good vibrations…’

🥕🥕🥕

Novice Sensations by R. V. Mitchell

Patrick filed into the choir and waited for the signal to sit. As the abbot made his way into the chapel, Brother Isaac played a low simple piece on the organ. Vespers had begun.

Soon the gathered brothers were fully engaged in the chants, and Patrick, only in his first full day in the house, felt a deep vibration shivering, no shimmering through his entire being.

Was it the physical effect of Isaac’s base notes? Was it the numinous of the collective praise? Or was it the true realisation that he was being touched by the finger of God?

🥕🥕🥕

Good Vibrations by kathy70

How long since I felt vibrations about something, it was just a little over a week ago.  A friend put a picture of a quilt block up and it drew me in totally.  I created 4 similar blocks in just over a week using scraps. Unheard of.  New fabric’s quarantined.

I am now in the final stage of quilting the entire quilt inspired by that picture.

It is 4 faces made from random fabric pieces and things like a purple nose seemed to work for me. Today a friend reminded me about a quilt show looking for covid-19 projects to display.

🥕🥕🥕

Liberation by Charli Mills

Gran’ma’s mama was an Okie from Muskogee, a fruit-picker in Tres Pinos, California, where Steinbeck Country ended in hayfields, orchards, and coastal mountains. She died young – 36 – cancer from unbridled use of pesticides in the 1930s. Gran’ma married a bull rider, a real bull shitter, too. They chased the tails of rodeos and ranch work across Nevada and back to Tres Pinos too many circuits to count. When he finally died of liver cirrhosis, Gran’ma shocked us all and married a Moscogo. White hand in black, they held the good vibes of Juneteenth, understanding the long wait for liberation.

🥕🥕🥕

Sixties Vibe by Sherri Matthews

She got up early, made tea and thumbed through Gardner’s Weekly. The Beach Boys played on the radio while she waited for her husband to get dressed. Hmmm…Good Vibrations…he loved that one! His other favourite song ran through her head and he appeared, fresh and bright, at last. Ready? Ready! Their arrival at the allotment was greeted by a patch of once empty scrub ground now awash with giant sunflowers in full yellow bloom. ‘You grew all these?’ ‘Yes’, she said, beaming. ‘Sixty-Four, for you’. She kissed his head. I still need you and I’ll still feed you. Always.

🥕🥕🥕

Good Vibrations by Anita Dawes

The sight of spring flowers
Rushing me back to the sixties
Where we believed in liquid bliss
Not the bottle kind
It’s something in the air
It washes over you.
Dark days drop away
Days when we wore flowers in our hair
Music, smiles on people’s faces
Especially on the faces of my grandchildren
When I speak about the old days, strange clothes,
like the bell bottom jeans, the mini skirt.
Nowadays, I walk home washed over
With good vibrations
From the smile of a stranger
Young man who offers to carry my shopping bags
I look for tomorrow…

🥕🥕🥕

Rainbow by Reena Saxena

What was so pathetic about her, that most people turned apathetic?

She silently suffered the punishment for being different. Her skin color and facial features all resembled that of the family, but the mind was different. Her mother often made these remarks, that her brain on a petri-dish, would look green or black or some atrocious color, not pink.

She grew up to be a writer, and discovered to her delight that readers loved her flow of thoughts. The atrocious green had metamorphosed into a lovely rainbow.

The good vibrations she waited for all her life were finally there.

🥕🥕🥕

Growing Pains by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Janina sat on the stone wall of the spring-fed pool. Behind her, her father’s castle clashed with loud music, shattering glass, and women’s high-pitched giggles. Her fourteenth birthday; she was sick of it all.

Slipping out a door, she’d dashed to the ocean-side pond, losing her shoes and muddying her hem in the marshy grass.

“Boo!” the frog interrupted her thoughts, nodding at the golden ball balanced in her palm. “All that glitters isn’t gold. Choose and transform!”

The ball became translucent; it vibrated, glowing. Popping it in her mouth, she swallowed.

Flipping her new tail, she dove deep.

🥕🥕🥕

Minority by Eliza Mimski

People always tell me I have a 100-watt smile, that I give off good vibrations. I light up a room. I’m a breath of fresh air. The sun has nothing over me.
I use that smile to hide my rage. Inside, I simmer. I boil. I seethe. The years have worn me down. All the crap I’ve put up with. But there’s something called self-preservation. Yeah. You do what you have to do. That smile has protected me. It’s been my friend. It’s a force I hide behind. My smile is white and bright and it will eat you.

🥕🥕🥕

Fight’s A Beach by Dave Madden

The cage on the sand with a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean made the first installment of Shark Tank the, as advertised, “most scenic violence in MMA.”
James sold over a hundred tickets for his pro debut, but all the nerves that served as a disruption throughout his time as an amateur drifted away in the salty breeze.

To coincide with Shark Tank’s theme, James walked out to “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys. Win or lose, he intended on having some fun in the sun when the cage door locked and the referee ordered the bout to begin.

🥕🥕🥕

Butterfly Kites by Saifun Hassam

Early morning sunlight and flitting shadows weaved between open spaces around broken sandstone pillars of the temple.

A sea breeze sent elusive vibrations rising and falling in the air. Wind chimes and miniature bells caught the good vibrations from the sea.

Sandalwood smoke wafted through the temple. Diamante prayed for the coastal villages. Tears fell as he prayed for rain, for a plentiful harvest on the farms, for the sea to share its abundance of fish.

The excited laughter of children came up the path, tugging at blue butterfly kites, winged kites vibrating with celestial music of their own.

🥕🥕🥕

Perfect by Ritu Bhathal

Pete took a few steps onto the pathway leading up to the house.
After seeing numerous houses, he was hoping that this would be The One.
Positive energy radiated off the property.
He glanced over at his wife, Nina, noticing a glimmer of a smile curling her full lips upwards.
She could feel it too.
Taking her hand in his, they stepped up to the door, lifting the brass knocker.
Nina winced, suddenly, and pulled his hand to her swollen belly.
A kick reverberated against the palm of his hand.
Looks like Junior was feeling the good vibrations, too.

🥕🥕🥕

Good News by Joanne Fisher

Cindy spent the afternoon planting saplings. Hidnoot, her gnome helper, dug the holes while she brought them over. During a break Hidnoot surveyed the land.

“You’ve done a great job with the farm,” he said.

“Thanks, I appreciate your help.”

“My pleasure Miss Cindy. I think good news is coming. I can feel it in my bones.” He suddenly hid behind a bush. Cindy saw Jess was walking over with a letter in her hand.

“Hey sweetheart, we’ve been accepted for IVF treatment! We’re going to have a baby!” Jess told her excitedly. They hugged for a long time.

🥕🥕🥕

Meeting the Granddaughter by Susan Sleggs

Michael said, “I’m sorry. I need to stop at the next rest stop.”

Tessa reached for his hand, gave him a sideways glance, and asked, “Are you all right? I can feel you shaking. Besides, we just stopped.”

“Believe me, I know. I don’t know if I’m excited to meet your granddaughter, or scared, but I need to go again.”

Tessa laughed aloud. “I thought only women had nervous bladders.”

“Don’t pick on me,” he laughed. “I haven’t held a baby since I was in high school and I want this to go well.”

“You’ll be a fine Grandpa.”

🥕🥕🥕

Summer, 1966 by Bill Engleson

The sweet river water flows. The small G.E. transistor catches bits and pieces of the local station’s airwaves…”the way the sunlight plays on her hair…” and it does, glancing off the light blond strands that dangle just above her left breast.

“Is that where…?” I ask.

“The tick? Yes,” she says.

“We should have come back here earlier,” I lament.

“You’re the one who left.”

“I did. And I shouldn’t have.”

“It might not have mattered. It was destiny.”

“You were destined for me,” I say.

“That’s sweet…but…”

“Don’t say it….” I dream…as “the sunlight plays on her hair…”

🥕🥕🥕

A Dream of Airliners by Gordon Le Pard

Men dream, these men dreamt of airliners.

The wings vibrated as the tiny steam engine spun.
“Good to go.” Called Henson.
Stringfellow released the tail and the Aerial ran along the line gathering speed, as it came free at the end the wings lifted it and the machine flew across the room, dropping into the catch net at the far end.
For a moment the engineers looked stunned, then grinned and shook each other’s hands.
The world’s first powered flying machine, the first aeroplane (albeit a model), had flown.

The first step to realising their dream had been made.

🥕🥕🥕

Good Vibrations by Marjorie Mallon

Good vibrations can come in the most unusual ways! A friend of mine asked me to beta read for her. She mentioned that her story wasn’t her usual style of writing and she was using a pseudonym. With various writing projects on the go, I didn’t give it much thought. I knew I’d help her, as she’s always supported me.

When I started reading the manuscript, I soon realised what she meant. This was a sensual read. I ploughed on; completing the beta edits of the romantic erotica in record time!

🥕🥕🥕

We Are Here For U by Simon

Sam: Please take a seat Mr. Berlin, I have a surprise

Berlin: Well, Thanks. What kind of surprise?

Sam: It’s about the secret to good vibration

Berlin: Really? Can’t wait to learn that.

Sam: Repeat my words slowly “I will never do this again”

Berlin: What? Why should I say that? Berlin face changed.

Sam: repeat after me, you got no choice (Sternly said)

Berlin repeated, after seconds a cop showed up and gave boxes of foods, We know what you go through Berlin. If you need something, ask, don’t steal, we are here to help! Berlin hugs both!

🥕🥕🥕

Migrants Welcome by Anne Goodwin

Turn around! Turn around! There are people on the beach.
White people.
Waving.
Weapons?
Books!
Mein Kampf? Atlas Shrugged?
Who knows?
I’m weary, let’s chance it!
I’m hungry.
I’m so thirsty I could drink seawater.
Turn around! I won’t birth my baby in a detention centre.
They’re waving placards!
To beat us?
To warn us?
To greet us!
Don’t rock the boat, I’ll vomit!
Can’t you feel the good vibrations? Row nearer so we can read the words.
Wow: MIGRANTS’ LIVES MATTER!
What makes you think we can trust them?
Isn’t it obvious? The apostrophe’s in the right place.

🥕🥕🥕

A Walk by joem18b

Walking through this young forest on a game trail, I breathe deeply. The path beneath my feet is soft. Light from a friendly sun, filtered through green canopy, dapples my face. The variety of trees here is amazing. Beech, tulip, oaks and hickories, other hardwoods. An understory of hornbeam, flowering dogwood, strawberry bush. Animals of all kinds thrive in this forest. That’s the word. Thrive. An environment in balance but evolving through vigorous growth. I count my breaths as I walk, to clear my mind. To let in the positive vibrations that envelope me. Life is good in Antartica.

🥕🥕🥕

Resonance by JulesPaige

opportunity
in that empty train car waits
imagine what fills
that vibrating space like birds
taking flight – here’s my ticket

Wynn Woo had never traveled by train before. While he was no longer a younger man, there were still many surprises left for him to encounter. All he had to do was open the door step inside his train compartment. The Steward said he would return in the evening to set the Pullman Bed down. While meditation usually calmed him, it was difficult to keep his eyes from the window and the rolling landscapes filled with free flying birds.

🥕🥕🥕

Shaken, Not Stirred by D. Avery

“Really, Kid? Ya come limpin’ in here, all bruised, an’ yer blamin’ our writer?”

“She decided ta write that ma hoss threw me.”

“Thet’s outta character fer a Carrot Ranch hoss. Why’d it toss ya?”

“They was a rattlesnake.”

“She brought a rattler ta the Ranch?! Not cool. Folks gotta feel safe here.”

“Desperation, Pal. Realized time’d run out on the prompt, thought ‘bout the vibration of a rattler’s tail. I’m jist collateral damage.”

“This ain’t even well writ. An’ she give up her day job? She’ll go hungry at this rate.”

“Mebbe not. Claims rattler tastes like chicken.”

🥕🥕🥕

I Sacrificed My Roots

    

In the fall of 1971 as the Vietnam war was winding down my long time boyfriend enlisted in the Air Force to avoid being drafted. Seven months after I graduated from high school, I left my hometown to marry him after he finished boot camp. The husbands of the two couples who attended our wedding at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi were his classmates who he had known for mere days. There was no one from either of our families present. He was the oldest of six children who had known too much responsibility and I was the youngest of four girls who had known little. We were excited to be starting a new adventure together thinking we were escaping the ho-hum of the small town we grew up in.

We learned quickly that military life was unlike what we were used to. There were many rules to be followed by the service member; no calling in sick, wear the uniform with precise requirements of creases and boot shine, learn how to budget on little pay, don’t even ask to have a holiday off, live and work where you were told to, and sometimes end up working in a job field different than the one the recruiter promised you. We were young and giddy, we didn’t recognize these rules as sacrifices of our freedom, it was just how things worked. For him, he had a job with good benefits, and for me; I was getting to “see the world.”

Now it’s almost 50 years later and I have realized when I left home, the familiarity of family and friends went with me. I lost, sacrificed, a personal connection to the daily lives of my sisters and their families and my school chums and their siblings. Had I stayed near my hometown I would have maintained a closeness to my nieces and nephews. I would have known one of my classmates became a local businessman able to pay for the town’s new playground and own a golf course. I would have known the neighbor’s little brother ended up working for the state and has been able to retire comfortably at age 55. Instead, I met lots of people who I have no connection to today. The exception being one girlfriend that is a letter writer who keeps the communication alive. I’m attempting to regain friendships with people I grew up with via Facebook. It isn’t all that satisfying nor successful.

My life as a military wife expanded my horizons like I didn’t know was possible, but I sacrificed my roots to live in a bigger puddle of experience. I can’t change the past, but I can go to my veterans’ writing group and discuss what I have learned. They will understand because they sacrificed their roots too, or in one lady’s case, she feels she has lost familiarity with her child to the service.

Diane’s son is a 10-year Marine and now a Major. She tearfully shared with me she doesn’t know her son anymore. Her memory of him is an immature, but driven college student and now he is a man and she didn’t witness the growth because he was “off in the service.”  She continued to tell me when they Facetime and she asks what he is doing at work, his answer is, “You know Mom, military stuff.” The sad fact is Mom doesn’t know. She doesn’t know when he switches girlfriends or where he might be stationed in two years. She doesn’t know when he buys a new car or has a toothache and he doesn’t think to tell her. She tells him she would like to set up a ZOOM chat with him and his sister and he says he has to deal with his men first. She has fallen on the list of importance for him. It hurts her and he doesn’t realize it because his focus is elsewhere. She feels like she has lost him and longs to see his face more often. I expect some sons stay in touch better, but this is her story.  (Name changed for privacy.)

The Rochester Veterans Writing Group book, United in Service, United in Sacrifice is now available on Amazon. The writing group is proud the project is finished, of their service, and of being able to share their experiences to maintain a record and help non-military folk understand the sacrifices some made so others didn’t have to.

In the book I didn’t use a pen name, so look for Sue Spitulnik’s essay. Included in the back are prompts you are welcome to use to help you start a personal notebook or writing group.

 

What Amazon says: Scan through packets of old letters, undiscovered until 2012. They reveal a World War II love-story that lasted a lifetime. Ride with Kurt and thousands of other scared young G.I.’s in the boat they called “the steel coffin,” as their convoy zig-zags across a heaving ocean and U-boats hunt for and torpedo some of the ships around them. Flee with Jake and his buddy down through the frozen mountains of North Korea with hoards of the Chinese “People’s Army” in hot pursuit. In the wee hours of an inky-black night, climb the compound guard towers with Vaughn, a mug of coffee in each fist, as he brings comfort and a kind word to the frightened young look-outs at Dak To Special Forces Base in Vietnam. Learn how to survive being “waterboarded, Air Force-style.” At 2 AM, stand at attention with Tim at Dover Air Force Base, as grieving loved ones wait for the arrival of their dead from Iraq. From World War II, Korea and Vietnam, through the Cold War to the Mid-East conflicts of today, the authors of the Rochester, NY, Veterans Writers’ Group bring you these and many other stories. Some are shocking, some are humorous, all of them are gripping. They will give you a new perspective on the service and sacrifice of our military, and especially their families—and what it means for the rest of us.

In the comments please tell about something you have given up, sacrificed, for the good of others.

If you would like to contact me personally, you can do so through my blog Susansleggs.com.

Saddle Up Saloon; Nix Fix

Saddle Up Saloon

“Howdy, Pal. Take care a yer hoss then set a spell.”

“Kid! Yer s’posed ta be gittin’ the Saloon ready! What’re ya doin’ jist settin’ there a’whittlin’?”

“Whoa! Ya kin stop yer yellin’ at me Pal. It ain’t what it looks like.”

“Looks ta me like yer settin’ on yer ass jist a’whittlin’ when yer s’posed ta be gittin’ the Saloon ready fer thet quiller. She’s gonna have a re-tirin’ shindig fer D. Avery.”

“Looks kin be receivin’, Pal. I ain’t jist settin’ on my ass. Ma cell phone’s in ma back pocket. Got it set ta vibration.”

“What? Why?”

“A cell phone, Pal. Got it muted so we kin still hear the crickets. An’ if yer really astute you’ll see that first bit’s 99 words and has this week’s Carrot Ranch prompt word in it. Got the phone handy ‘cause I’m givin’ that so-called writer a ours a bit more time ta change her mind. But so far she says she ain’t comin’ by. Ain’t gonna be no shindig.”

“Reckon ya should text the quiller an’ offer ta refund her deposit.”

“There weren’t no deposit. Nobody aroun’ here has ta PAY, PAL. Though they could.”

“Huh. So if thet re-tirin’ shindig ain’t happenin’ we ain’t got nuthin’ goin’ on here this week. We ain’t got no ennertainment or nuthin’ lined up fer the saloon. Dang thet D. Avery! Why ain’t she comin’ by?”

“Says she cain’t be hangin’ ‘roun a saloon on a school night, still has two more days a school.”

“Ridin’ thet one right through ta the buzzer, ain’t she?”

“Yeh, mebbe that’s it.”

“Yer face is all scrunched up Kid. Is it thet phone goin’ off in yer pocket, or are ya thinkin’?”

“I’m thinkin’ on why she won’t let the quiller throw her a party.”

“Mebbe we should git Doc Ranger ta come by.”

“Should Doc Ranger anal-eyes the matter she’ll only figger out what I already been tellin’ ya— D. Avery’s a pain in the ass.”

“The Ranger’s got degrees an’ sech fer this kinda ponderin’.”

“Thinkin’ the only two degrees relevant here are 0 and 360. They both point north.”

“Seems like thet’s goin’ full circle. If thet’s whut D. Avery’s doin’, why not celebrate?”

“Thinkin’ she’s a chicken, is what.”

“Ya might be onta somethin’ there, Kid. She wrote the book on chickens. Reckon she’s finally found the pluck ta cross the road hersef, see whut’s on the other side. Mebbe it’s jist her time. Check this out:

 

When comes the time, a road’s the place

The destiny some hens embrace

Chickens rise and leave the nest

To make their dreams manifest.

Their sojourn can’t end unless it begins

So they head out to look within

Pilgrims of regenerate faith

These chickens cross, they go with grace

They cross a road they pass that test

Continue on their illimitable quest

Till comes the time when they stop, content

They know themselves and where they went.

 

“D. Avery wrote that? And published it? And gave up her day job? Yikes. With a plan like that, no wonder she ain’t inta celebratin’. Sure hope her students kin do better math an’ her. Sayin’. Here’s a thought that might cause some dissension; maybe she’s crossing without any intention, maybe just wandering, not paying attention; maybe road crossing hens aren’t worth any mention.

“Yer bein’ kinda harsh, Kid. Leavin’ a career’s a big deal.”

“She’s kinda harsh, Pal. Listen ta this:

 

For all you who have wondered why’d

the chicken cross— here’s the scoop:

it’s not about the other side;

she just couldn’t abide the coop.

 

She’s leavin’ friens an’ kids behind in that coop, Pal, quittin’ on ‘em.”

“Thet’s enough, Kid. Mebbe she’s modelin’ somethin’ good fer folks, ta take a risk an’ take car a yersef. Reckon they’s all happy fer her. Look, here’s Will, a colleague a hers:

 

 

“Huh. Seems like our so-called writer knows shift. Kinda remin’s me a someone…”

“Here’s another colleague a hers:

 

My mentor has been a mentor a time or two.

She says ‘it’s been a wild ride, and I end with you’.

Who knew I could fly up to the sky?

She did, from the start.

My mentor taught me many lessons of how to be

the type of teacher who was thoughtful like she.

A7E720B0-731D-4288-8415-A3838B616A52

Applied mathematics.

Who would build benches, fences & trust.

Who would do what is right & do what is just.

My mentor reminded me to work & to play

life was short she always did say.

When it came to emails she’s taught me less is more.

The words were important but must come from the core.

My mentor was a chicken & I her squid.

Dede, thank you for everything.

Love Always, the Kid

 

“The kid?”

“Relax, Kid, it’s a different kid, aka the Cisco Kid, aka, Squid. She’d been a fourth grade writin’ student a D. Avery’s, then ended up bein’ a math teacher with her.”

“Well, yer right, Pal, there don’t seem ta be no hard feelin’s.”

“But there are feelin’s. We’ll leave her be, let her git through the final school days with her kids.”

“But Pal, what about the folks that come by the saloon? We still ain’t got nuthin’ lined up.”

“Let’s jist ask folks thet might come by ta reflect, mebbe in 99- or 59-words a prose or poetry tell ‘bout a time they made a big change fer themselves. Could be a made up story even; kinda hard ta tell the dif’rence ‘roun here anyway.”

IMG_3080

“So if folks come by lookin’ ta relax an’ sech, we hand ‘em an extra prompt? ‘Cause our so-called writer nixed a shindig here at the saloon? Hmmph. Told ya that D. Avery’s a pain in the ass.”

“Yep. But she’s our pain in the ass. Write on, D.”

 

 

 

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 fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up for a wild ride as a saloon guest, contact them via averydede.1@gmail.com.

June 18: Flash Fiction Challenge

When my eldest was a toddler, she’d express her excitement by clenching her fists close to her head and vibrating her entire body. Ever get that feeling? I want to clench, squeal, and vibrate every evening as the Roberts Street “Littles” emerge — a menagerie of baby critters. Somehow, the word’s gone out that my fairy gardens and below deck are safe places to leave off little ones, including two baby chipmunks, two fledged robins, a baby gray squirrel, a baby bunny, and a juvenile frog. They are so cute, my body hums.

Pre-summer evenings linger at the 47th parallel on the tail-end of the eastern time zone. Throughout June and most of July, last light remains past 10:30 p.m. It’s deceptive when we BBQ in the “evening” and realize it’s 9 pm. Of course, my personal time clock is wonky — I come to life in the evening and write or study most productively until 3 am. It’s a joy to watch young life unfold in my yard before sunset the way I imagine some people enjoy sunrises.

My former boss was a sunriser. She’d get that vibration about her every new place we went for conferences or work-related travel. It was bad enough that she was parsimonious (her favorite word), cramming her senior managers into as few hotel rooms as possible. I’ve even slept with my boss. Slept. I joked that I was going to turn her into HR, and from across the room, HR laughed with me. We were a close-knit management team, and I wouldn’t trade the lessons of that period of my life. My boss was a true servant-leader and taught me the value of building platforms that benefited communities. And sometimes, that meant sharing a room, bed, and sunrises.

One particular sunrise I remember was on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota (that Lady Lake of mine gets around). We were on a work retreat, and it was close enough to autumn to be cold in the pre-dawn morning. No one else would go with our boss to the lake to catch the sunrise. She had figured out the precise point to see dawn slip over the lake’s eastern horizon. By the time she laid a hand on my shoulder, I could smell coffee brewing. We filled a thermos and grabbed two mugs. Everyone else slept. We walked along a narrow and craggy trail to a place where we could sit on the bedrock and wait for the sun to appear. We shivered, huddled around our coffee, and were not disappointed.

When I watch the sunset over the western horizon of Lake Superior, I feel like that sunrise over a decade ago reflects back to me. I’m on the opposite side now, in tune with what harmonizes in me.

Earlier today, I met with a representative at the Michigan Small Business Development Center. It’s a resource of the US Small Business Administration, a government organization that supports entrepreneurs and small businesses. As a professional writer (meaning, this is my source of income), I’ve contracted a patchwork of services. Every author grapples with the reality that books alone will likely not make a living. I say likely because there are exceptions, superstars, and specific strategies to that truth of authorhood. Some exceptions include moderate success within a lucrative commercial genre (this requires multiple books). Superstars are the likes of J. K. Rowling and Stephen King. Specific strategies include shrewd studies of market trends and writing books to fill readership gaps (rather than writing the books you want to pen).

Mostly, professional authors find secondary sources of income. One professor told me he publishes books and “assets” (and, obviously, he teaches). Assets are value-added products that enhance your book — e-book, audio recording, a graphic novel based on your book, a series of podcasts, figurines or jewelry based on characters or props, music based on your book, character drawings. In addition to products (books and assets), professional authors teach — universities, online courses, webinars, workshops, retreats — or speak at conferences for a fee. Some work the book club angle and sell packages of their books and access to Q&A with the author. Some sell international book rights, others option their books for movies or Netflix series. Some offer services — agencies, PR, editing, coaching, marketing. Some supplement income, working odd jobs or temporary gigs in between writing and publishing books.

Whether you make it to superstar status or you work the secondary sources of income, authors do more than pound away at the keyboard and publish books.

This is what I’m working with the SBA to develop — a way to recognize the hard work of any path a writer takes and define what steps next for personal growth and professional development (if that is your path; it doesn’t have to be). Imagine being a writer who writes every single day — that’s commitment! But this dedicated writer has no interest in creating products or offering services, which leads to others not counting them as a “real” writer. I’ll be creating something that honors such a writer in addition to recognition for annual growth. It’s based on a program I used to apply for as a marketing communications manager.

Earlier in my MFA, I got excited (not quite full-body vibrations) about the possibility of coaching. However, after creating plans in my course, I realized it’s hard for me to offer individual services. I’m a high-energy person, and I put a lot into anything I do. Coaching would wipe me out. I realized it’s why I was struggling to work as a writing contractor. What I’m going to build will be more like mass coaching with a platform where I can invite other writers to coach and teach, too. I can get focused, manage my time, grow the literary outreach to expand beyond libraries and veterans to include more diversity and greater involvement from the community. The SBA is helping me build a business plan that is both sustainable and supportive of the writing community. I can incorporate the lessons of my sunriser boss to lift up others to make the writing world a better place. And I get to define my role in that ecosystem as a professional author.

Often, when you follow your North Star, the excitement can be palpable. Yet the possibilities of how to get there can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it shines down on us, and we are in the worst place to manifest its promise. But circumstances are always shifting, like it or not, life is in a daily flux between sunrises and sunsets. What’s important is that we set our North Star and follow its guidance. Right now, mine is starting to hum. And I’m ready.

June 18, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes good vibrations. What is unfolding? Is someone giving off or receiving the feeling? Where is the story situated? Gather some good vibes and go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 23, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Liberation by Charli Mills

Gran’ma’s mama was an Okie from Muskogee, a fruit-picker in Tres Pinos, California, where Steinbeck Country ended in hayfields, orchards, and coastal mountains. She died young – 36 – cancer from unbridled use of pesticides in the 1930s. Gran’ma married a bull rider, a real bull shitter, too. They chased the tails of rodeos and ranch work across Nevada and back to Tres Pinos too many circuits to count. When he finally died of liver cirrhosis, Gran’ma shocked us all and married a Moscogo. White hand in black, they held the good vibes of Juneteenth, understanding the long wait for liberation.

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