Fragrant #writephoto

Something came to me for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt this week. Head over the the Daily Echo to see other’s take on the prompt. 


By Any Other Name                                                                               by D. Avery

Stroke has kept her from her beloved rose garden, poor dear. So I bring it to her, one vase at a time, only one, for there isn’t a clear surface for more than that in her small cluttered room. I have been mindful to cut from all the varieties, to include all the colors of her splendid roses. She can’t speak, but every time I bring her a bouquet she tries to thank me, thin breath rasping on quivering lip and I say, hush now, it’s all right, I know how you love your roses. A tear of gratitude invariably falls down her cheek, and I get weepy too, reminded of the healing power of kind deeds. I shall continue always to tend her roses and bring them to her, for they bring her such joy.

Damn fool! Not more roses. How can you go into that garden every week and walk right by my favorite plants? Don’t you notice how they hum with bees? Haven’t you noticed how long their beautiful blooms last? Everything else is just background for them. Don’t you brush against them when you walk by and then smell the rich fragrance that lingers long in the sun-warmed air?

Roses, bah. I can endure the indignities of this stroke, but I get so mad at you and those damn roses every week it brings tears to my eyes. I am doing my therapies. I will speak again, and my first word to you will be ‘Lavender’!


Silence Shared

six sentence story.jpgEven before returning to the machine and seeing that this week Denise’s prompt word for Six Sentence Stories is “trunk”, a boy you may remember from past sixes, or perhaps even from my book, had started in on me to write this continuation of his story.  Six sentences constitute a manageable puzzle. Join Denise and her merry gang in piecing together a response to this weekly writing prompt.


Silence Shared                     by D. Avery

The rest of that long summer, the summer that Jimmy died, I never got past the front porch, never got on my bike to go anywhere, just finished out the time before school started up reading old books I’d already read a million times. Sometimes Jimmy’s mom would come by and mostly we’d just sit there not saying anything, but it was okay, and the day before school she gave me a picture of me and Jimmy from a camping trip when we were little, and his baseball glove. I put both in the small trunk at the back of my closet, the trunk that also held some things that had been my mother’s before she died.

At school every class was the same, me alone next to an empty seat and that empty seat making it hard for me to speak. When I got home and Dad asked me how school went I said ‘fine’ and he didn’t press for more because he and I understood the thing we shared, the silence of our small trunks at the back of our closets. I watched my dad go back to the shop, me still sitting on the front porch trying not to think about much when Jimmy’s mom came by to ask me how school went and I started to say ‘fine’ but my lip started quivering and then I was sobbing in her arms and she held me and comforted me like I imagine my own mother would.

A Heavily Linked Announcement

What?! Posting on a Tuesday? Me?

This post is not a response to Kat Myrman’s Twittering Tales or d’Verse’s Tuesday Poetics. It’s not a tanka or haiku or some other poetry form for Colleen Chesebro’s weekly challenge. Nor am I squeaking another flash in under the wire for the Carrot Ranch prompt and nor am I looking ahead to the Six Sentence Story prompt (which, by the way is “strip”).

This post is an announcement, one that affects me way more than you.

Announcing: I am going to go a week (maybe more?) of being internet free. No blogging in any way shape or form, no tweeting, no reading on-line. Beginning at midnight. Ready or not.

The greatest challenges will be in not reading Charli Mills‘ post on Thursday; in not reflecting on and responding to her thought provoking and eloquent prose; in not reading and responding to all the other responses to her post and prompt. I tell myself it will all be there later.

So why? Why this, why now? I don’t know. Maybe the week will be akin to what Norah Colvin portrays in her latest flash for Carrot Ranch. Maybe a rest will show me some progress and insight. Maybe I need to take a break because I have stooped to posting a picture of my cat. Whatever, it will be an interesting experiment and dang I’m going to miss the Ranch. What will all my characters do? Maybe the experiment is about answering that question. I will write, but the old fashioned way- in seclusion, unprompted, with no audience, other than that cat. And the sourdough.

I am fairly certain that book sales will be unaffected by my week off. It’s possible I’ll end up drifting away from writing and just flip flapjacks and bake bread. If I drift back this way, I’ll let you know, either through telling or through showing, how the experiment went.

Go ahead, like this and leave a comment, but know that I will not be responding for a while as I will not be reading. Beginning at midnight. Or bedtime, whichever strikes first.

I dread the week ahead for what I’ll miss. But perhaps I’ll find something that I have been missing.

See you next Wednesday?

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Foreseeable Destiny

Foreseeable Destiny

In the vaulted space beyond the grand colonnades the prophetess grew impatient with the plebeians. How dare they entreat her to wash her hands!
“And where’s your Destiny Doll? Don’t leave Granma’s gift outside.”
The voice of the prophetess rumbled from the temple as if from a deep cave. “Destiny has been swallowed whole by an earthquake. Only a great prophetess can save her.”
“Marlie! Now!”
The prophetess foresaw trouble. The colonnades were reduced to table legs as she scrambled out of the desecrated temple.
Even with her great powers it was ill advised to clash with the Titans.



I have yet another response to the Carrot Ranch colonnade prompt.
This little girl recently reappeared for a six sentence story and apparently wasn’t finished. She first showed up at Carrot Ranch as a warrior.


working-template-for-ff-challenges95.pngHere I am with three responses to the Carrot Ranch January 17, 2019, prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades. It can be natural, architectural, or a metaphor. Take a stroll and go where the prompt leads.” Each response relies on previous stories and characters; The Three Sisters; Hope and her family from The Fold; and Ernest & Marge et al. I would have gotten here sooner but have been in the kitchen.


Journey’s End

Do you see those three balsam fir trees, those green colonnades holding up the sky, making a temple of the earth they stand on?

Do you wonder how they got there?

You might remember three sisters that took from an abandoned suitcase hope and their best dream to sustain them on their journey.

As the three sisters let go of fear and worry and idle wishing they grew strong, resilient, and wise.

You don’t have to believe they became trees. They’ll still hold up the sky, rejoicing as you walk the earth your own way, dreaming your own dream.


 Temple Builders

 He found them outside, each with shovels, each pink cheeked, strands of black hair stuck to damp foreheads. “What are you two up to?”

“Come see what Mommy and me made Daddy!”

Hope led him around the mound of plowed snow where the bank dropped away. Once he’d crawled through the entrance tunnel he could almost stand up.

“Is that a skylight?”

“No Daddy, just a vent. Mommy’s gonna build a fire and we’ll cook dinner.”

While his wife and child continued carving out their snug snow house he stacked snowballs and shaped two elegant colonnades at the entryway.



“It’s an epic occasion,” Lloyd announced as Ernest and Marge wedged themselves into the booth. “Gotta send Ilene off with a hearty breakfast.”

The diner that was in the same half dead shopping plaza as the community school served breakfast 24/7, perfect for commemorating Ilene’s first day of evening classes.

They walked her from the diner to the lackluster painted over storefront that veiled the higher learning within.

“Ok. Thanks. See you around campus.”

“Wait Ilene.” Ernest posed the others then had Ilene take a picture of them standing in front of the community school.

“We’re your colonnades.”





Am I Blogging Now? Wonder Bread


On the left is the gift that keeps on giving.   (On the right is a freeloader)

I started this blog almost two years ago simply as a place to post the flash fiction and occasional poetry written in response to prompts at other sites. ShiftnShake is a place of literary art. I write, but not my thoughts or feelings or what I had for lunch. I don’t post cat pictures. So what’s this?

No, that’s not a cat picture. It’s a picture of my sourdough starter that’s next to a cat. That sourdough starter is the other organism that lives in my household now, one that last weekend competed for my time and attention with the characters in my head who wanted me to write; it won. Or maybe it wasn’t a competition, but complementary parallel play. Maybe, like some of my insistent and chatty characters, that glob of dough had something to say.

There’s plenty to be said about the history of sourdough. The Egyptians used sourdough as early as 1500 BCE for both bread and beer. More recently, in this country, it was associated with both the California gold rush, and the later gold rush in the Klondike, where old timers were known as Sourdoughs. It has been claimed that there are still strains of sourdough in Alaska dating back to that time.

My starter is from a friend whose current strain she’s had for over two years now. The initial little glob of starter and I bonded through feedings; I dutifully fed it flour and water in equal proportions and it gratefully doubled in size. I repeated this until I had enough for a batch of bread, made after putting a bit of the gooey mix back into the fridge to grow another time. After those first feedings and that first batch of bread this starter is now wholly mine, the adoption complete.

The bread disappeared fast, but I have been feeding the starter all week just to watch it grow. I have been engrossed by that sourdough starter, and as I said, working with it preempted writing. But this was creativity of a different realm, one I hadn’t played in for a while. The fact that that bubbly starter dough managed to draw me into the kitchen was a newsworthy event around the household. I hadn’t made bread in a very long time and had never made sourdough bread. After I began assembling the bread dough I soon realized there were some discrepancies with the recipe I was working with, so ended up having to figure it out as I went along. I found that the dough was very forgiving and adaptable; the bread turned out great and I was encouraged to pursue further culinary adventures with sourdough.

Even as those first loaves baked the remaining starter dough was exhorting me to feed it some more, wondering what else I might be willing to try. I was distracted from writing, which itself usually distracts me from work that I “should” be doing. But as I fed the starter and the resultant bread fed me, creativity also was fed and nourished. It was a wonder-full experience working with my hands in the kitchen discovering an old process that was new to me. I was practicing patience and mindfulness. If the starter dough had something to say, it was to speak about nurturing and growing creativity, a reminder to seek balance through one’s activities.

My sourdough starter is similar to characters that demand to be written, but is also a wise totem of potency and possibility. It stands vigil, ready to give form to an inspired idea. Just now it is well fed and bubbling contentedly on the counter, eager for the morning transmutation into pancakes as well as more bread.


If you were considering a pet, or any long-term relationship, don’t discount sourdough starter in lieu of other life forms. It does require a degree of care but it is minimal and it gives back way more than it demands. Your starter just might provide inspiration in exchange for the time spent with it. It’s never to late to start something new.



Destiny’s Fate

Destiny’s Fate

Marlie was both pleased and annoyed by the buzzing presence of her visiting grandparents, of being the center of attention and of getting gifts she didn’t really like. Even her mother said something about this latest one, letting her granma know that she didn’t think she’d ever play with a Barbie doll.

“Of course, she will, what little girl wouldn’t, and it’s not a Barbie, her name is Destiny Doll; she can do anything.”

Taking Destiny outside, Marlie went to her trucks that were parked at the mound of dirt at the end of the backyard, thinking Destiny might fit in the big Tonka dumper, but Destiny got caught, it was a terrible accident, and scraped her leg pretty good when Marlie rescued her, heroically pulling her from the vehicle.

After Marlie used grass shears to cut the doll’s big hair short so it wouldn’t get dirty and tangled, Destiny became a spelunker, exploring a network of caves that Marlie created in the mound of dirt, but unfortunately tragedy struck in the form of an earthquake and subsequent landslide.

Trapped beneath the rubble, Destiny could not hear the summons to lunch, could not see brave Marlie running across the expansive fields of the small backyard, running to the cursed castle where the intrepid girl would tempt fate once more.

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It’s story time, Six Sentences at a time. The prompt word is “destiny“. The prompter is Denise of GirlieOnTheEdge. The time is now to write a Six Sentence Story. Get your ink to the link.

What’s New?

What’s New?


Old friend! How long’s it been?

…. Not much. You?


Getting old is all that’s new.

Hair’s gone gray; added pounds, inclined to stay.


Isn’t it strange, our focus on what’s changed?

We might ask, what still holds True?

What remains for us to Do?




The prompt for Quadrille #71 at dVerse Poets’ Pub is: “The changing of the guards. Spare change. Positive change. Change your clothes. Change your attitude. Change your life. Changed. Changeability. Changing. You could even go a little creepy on us, and write about a changeling. Whatever you write, just be sure it’s 44 words, and includes some alteration of the word change.”  Thank you De Jackson for pouring.



The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge for January 10, 2019, prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment. Use many of its different manifestations or explore reasons why it matters to the character. Go where the prompt leads.”  

I was led by Ilene Higginbottom to pick up her story. This double 99 word installment follows on the heel (get it, heel, not heels) of  Sort of Out where we found Ilene and Ernest in the singlewide while Marge and the guys played poker in the garage. This installment also reflects back to Latching On when Ilene determined to become a more independent and self reliant woman. That resolution may have appeared to go off track with the subsequent appearance  of Lloyd in her life, but that now appears to be another epic romance that will only aid Ilene in her goals. See the entire collated collection of these characters’ vignettes at their page, HERE.



Lowering her book, Ilene answered Ernest. “You just might like some of these stories. But here, try this one first.”

Ernest took the anthology that Ilene handed him. “Congress of Rough Writers? Is it a western?”

“No, it’s not a western. It gives background on flash fiction with excellent examples. These books are for my literary arts course at the community college.”

Ilene and Ernest were still reading when Marge and Lloyd returned from the garage, the poker game over. “If you’re wondering, bookworms, we both won, but didn’t get rich.”

“No? We both got enriched.”

Lloyd beamed. “Epic.”


“How’re your classes going, Ilene?”

“Good. I’m getting myself ready for an office job. It’s all about the spreadsheet.”

“So why a literary arts course? What’s this flash fiction stuff got to do with anything?”

Lloyd spoke from his perch at the counter. “Ernest, literary art is cultural literacy. It’s…”


“Epically enriching.”

“Lloyd’s right. Honestly, the secretarial skills courses would be such a bore without the Literary Arts class. And it’s going to help me get the job I want, help me to sell myself.”

“Ha! I thought you were giving that up.”

“Marge, don’t be a Nard.”