To Hex With It

Be Bold (JULY)So, here’s the deal. Kid and Pal are fictional ranch hands who identify as real. (That’s been an ongoing issue.) Up till lately they have lived relatively quietly at Carrot Ranch and also have their own page here, if you want to catch up. Up till lately they were content to just comment on Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch  posts and prompts. I had thought to give them their own blog but failed miserably at setting up with the new and improved WordPress machinations. But as some of you have noticed, these two seem to have busted out anyway and are doing business here on my front page in addition to their regular chores at the Ranch. I am going to continue to use this Carrot Ranch banner when Kid and Pal have something going here, though these are not your regular Ranch Yarns. These are irregular times and while these two came up with a plan to remain times neutral at the Ranch, they will allude and intrude on current events here. And, as you can take the ranch hand off the ranch but can’t take the ranch from the hands, well, the following is in 99 words, no more no less.  

One more thing… if you’re looking for something to do, these two wouldn’t mind at all if you left a six foot comment, that is twelve syllables. They aren’t too fussy about accents.  


To Hex With It

“Pal, all yer time at the Poet Tree n’ ya got no poem? Not even a haiku?”

“Bless ya, Kid. An’ don’t fergit ta haiku inta yer elbow crook. Anyways, I’m thinkin’ if folks is gonna try poetry they should use iambic hexameter.”

“Really? I am a bit sick of six.”

“Stop draggin’ yer feet, Kid. Jist think of it as a 12 pack a syllables.”


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

“Don’t be a Dickens, Kid.”

Carry on, hearts be strong, share positivity

help, share, extend your care, show true humanity”



March 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

All Normal, See?

“Pal, you’re back from yer time at the Poet Tree. Got some lines that rhyme? Ya been out there fer four days.”

“Seems longer, mebbe ‘cause a spendin’ some time with you, tellin’ ya ta jist keep it t’gether. I ain’t come up with a poem, Kid, but I gotta plan fer us.”

“Plans is hopeful. What’re we ta do? Gather up supplies? Stay put? Keep our distance?”

“Shush Kid. We’ll do the z’act opposite. ‘Cause Ranch plans ain’t changed. So we’ll take advantage a our fictional status an jist keep ta our chores here. No more, no less.”


“Uh, Pal, what’re my chores again?”

“Jist shovel shift, Kid. Hope folks find ya more amusin’ than annoyin’. Figger folks got enough ta worry ‘bout. At the Ranch they kin come close, enjoy a tale or two ‘roun the fire. Yer ta stop yer whinin’. ’Member this is a refuge fer the real folks thet come by. They kin say what they gotta say, but all us fictional folks is jist gonna injoy our normalcy.”

“I see. Too bad.”

“Why’s thet?”

“I got a fictional six-pack a purell fer Frankie an’ a case a tp for Pepe.”

“No shift?”

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

First, the roof-bergs broke loose. Great hunks of condensed ice thicker than a doorstep slipped from the eaves, crashing onto the garage with such tremendous force that my neighbor ran to the side of my house. I happened to be coming down the stairs at the moment and saw a flash of sun on ice before I felt the shock of vibrations that accompanied the blow. Spring wears heavy boots in the Keweenaw.

Next, came the tapping, drip-drip-drapping of water seeping from beneath the remaining bergs, ice sculptures, and packed drifts of geological snow layered storm by storm. A rapping, louder than water tapping, sounded at my door — ’tis a neighbor, nothing more. Cranky (as in Sew Cranky, not So Cranky) smiled and informed me that the maples no longer slumbered. Sap was flowing. Her husband came over and tapped our tree.

Now, this is no ordinary tree. It…

View original post 832 more words

Different Drum CRLC Challenge

square-template.pngThe Carrot Ranch March 12, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tapping. You can play with the sound, make it an action, or create something unexpected. Tap a story and go where the prompt leads!
I managed to get Civil War Veteran Robert to return, along with his young brother. You may remember them from earlier stories like THIS or  THIS.

Different Drum

Robert pitched the last of the hay up into the hayloft. “Just in time,” he smiled at Thomas. “Hear that?”

“Rain!” The much-needed rain began as an intermittent tapping then gathered strength, drumming the barn roof overhead.

“No, that’s not rain, Thomas. Listen.” He grabbed up a bucket and a couple wooden pegs. Thomas, shouldering a hayfork, marched to the drumbeat Robert tapped out, around and around the hay wagon until finally they stopped, exhilarated.

“A call to arms!”

Robert took the hayfork from his little brother, said gently, “No, Thomas. No. Listen. It’s the call to cease firing.”

****      ****     ****

OIP.z7_oYMMEvs9bhBOAFixAkADREqRobert and Thomas sat on overturned buckets, watching the rain.

“One of our drummer boys often worked with me in the field hospital.”

The beginning of a story made Thomas forget his disappointment with the ceasefire.

“This boy only ever talked about his mama’s chicken dumplings. One day he’s scarce, I figured maybe he run off even. But then he shows up drumming. Soft, taptaptap. ‘What’s that call?’ I asked him. Taptaptap. When I turn he’s not even holding his sticks. Yet still, taptaptap. ‘Call for dinner’. Tips his drum to show me the hen pecking from underneath, taptaptap.”


Keepin’ It T’gether

This post doesn’t meet this week’s Carrot Ranch challenge.

Be Bold (JULY)

“Kid! We ain’t out on some dusty roundup. Git thet bandana off a yer face. I git our whole western mo-tif but ya shouldn’t be ‘round the Ranch lookin’ like a bank robber.”

“Ain’tcha heard nuthin’ Pal? Thought we was s’posed ta wear masks.”

“Not here on the Ranch, Kid. Ya’ll skeer folks.”

“Mebbe I’m skeered, Pal.”

“I git thet Kid, but ‘member, this here’s a safe place, like always. Jist be cautious.”

“’Bout germs?”

“No. Well, yeah, but more ’bout inframation. Only take in an’ only spread what’s helpful and fact based. No matter who mighta said whut.”


“Jist scientific facts?”

“No alternatives.”

“I’m still skeered Pal.”

“That’s okay Kid. An’ since ya done wiped yer eyes with thet bandana, jist keep thet ta yersef.”

“The fact that I cried?”

“Cryin’s okay, Kid. But keep thet bandana ta yersef. Wash it an’ wash yer hands. Plain ol’ soap will do. Kid, you an’ me’re used ta bein’ on our own, but folks gotta realize it’s physical isolation bein’ asked fer, ever’one keepin’ a distance. But with all kinda devices available we kin still reach out, be social. What the Ranch has always done, world-wide.”

“Write on.”



Though this post is in 99 word increments, it does not meet this week’s Carrot Ranch Challenge as it does not include nor allude to “tapping”. This has been a strange week to say the least, getting stranger by the minute, and as so many have said, unlike anything yet known. I want to respond to the weekly challenge as if everything is the same, and may yet, but these two wanted this post. These two, Kid and Pal, have until quite recently been isolated, seen only at Carrot Ranch and on their own pages here at ShiftnShake, tucked within the menu bar. They are hoping that, even as people are asked to hunker down and self-distance, or whatever the term is, people will in fact come together and emerge from this situation as more compassionate and empathic global citizens. One world, one people.  

Somnambulist WWP#148 & #sffiction

I’m somnambulant I said.

You said you didn’t judge, said it takes all types. You said I was your type. You said you just knew.

No, I insisted, this will never work out. It won’t last.

You said you’d convert for me, if that’s what it took. You’d become somnambulant too. You said our being together forever was your greatest dream.

I explained that I was dreaming you and all dreams end upon awakening.

Shh, you said. Sleep.



Above, 78 words for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt, “somnambulist”.

Below, 267 characters for the #sffiction contest. Selected stories will be published in a print anthology. Give it a try!






I’m somnambulant I said. This won’t work out. We won’t last.

You said it takes all types. You said I was your type. You said our being together forever was your greatest dream.

I explained that I was dreaming you and all dreams end upon awakening.

Shh, you said. Sleep.


Another Slice of Pi Day


A ShiftnShake tradition since March 14, 2018, I once again serve you a poem of Pi, that little number that has endlessly delighted mathematicians for four thousand years. See more here (3/14/18) and here (3/14/19). Here’s hoping your day is endless fun.

22/7   (greater than 3.14159 26535 89793 23846…)


Time’s steady beat has brought us to the 14th of March

to again celebrate Pi Day, just for a lark

We’ll examine a number, one infinitely rude

one that has the audacity to never conclude

the little number growing increasingly longer

as its decimal places show incrementally smaller

stretching a number that will always be

less than four, little more than three

On the whole Pi brings no satisfaction

just slightly more than an approximate fraction.

Round off, for we’ll certainly never put pi in its place

the pursuit shows mere mortals too to be approximate

But it seems to give some a reassurance and pleasure

this proof of things beyond the scope of man’s measure

A measure of humility, oh good heavens

measurably less than twenty-two sevenths.

Eyes on the Prize

“Tellin’ ya, Kid, we’re strayin’ too far from the Ranch. First bouncin’ through Fandango’s OWC… now where we at?”

“We cain’t give up, Pal. We gotta find Frankie’s missin’ glass eye. Mebbe the folks over here at Friday Fictioneers has seen it.”

“Kin ya see me rollin’ ma eyes? I jist wanna go home. On the range. Where the buckaroos play. Look, Kid, we’re the only ones ridin’ hosses. This place ain’t fer us.”


PHOTO PROMPT © Ceayr          Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

“Then why’s there a waterin’ trough? Let’s lead the hosses ta water, set an’ think.”

“Kid, look! Frankie’s eye’s in the trough!”

“Things is lookin’ up.”


“Okay, got it, so now kin we head back ta Carrot Ranch, git this eyeball back ta Frankie, an’ jist git back ta our normal routines, chores an’ sech?”
“You betcha, Pal, we’ll even take a shortcut, go by way of Crimson’s Creative Challenge.”

“Kid, what’s Frankie’s eye color, cuz somethin’ ‘bout this here eyeball don’t look right.”

broken-footings“Oh, yeah, the eye color a this ocular prosthetic seems a shade off.”

“Oh shift, dang thing slipped outta ma hand, bounced inta thet concrete crevice.”

“Dang, it’s sure gonna be hard lookin’ Frankie in the eye an’ ‘splainin’ what happened.”



“Well Pal, back at the Ranch, finally. Cain’t believe we went all that way, keepin’ an eye out fer Frankie’s missin’ eye then lettin’ it roll down the drain.”

“I cain’t believe yer gonna make me be the one ta tell her. There she is now, saddlin’ up Burt. It’s thet dang fickle filly Clarice what caused all this ruckus in the first place, dang hoss walks like a four-legged pogo stick.”

“Frankie. You got yer glass eye in. Thought it was lost somewheres.”

“Looks like I found it. Where you two been? You’re a sight for sore eyes.”



six sentence story copy

Lookin’ Good (#FOWC, #SSS, #CRLC)

One eye’s fer lookin’, the other jist fer looks.                                                     

“Ain’t likin’ this, Kid, it’s breakin’ with ma routine, makin’ me feel real outa place cuz we ain’t never been nowhere’s but Carrot Ranch or ShiftnShake.”

“Frankie done lost her glass eye ridin’ Clarice- dang hoss’s gotta gait like a jack hammer- an’ I reckon they mighta been by this way. We gotta hep her, Pal, she’s only got the one visualin’ eye; this other’s jist fer looks.

“An’ we’ll look good fer Frankie, but why’re we trackin’ through Fandango’s site too, what’s searchin’ fer Frankie’s eye got ta do with his One Word Challenge?”

“Word’s ‘visual-eyes’.”

“I see.”


I’m kind of agreeing with Pal. It might be best if these two characters stayed on the Ranch or on their Ranch Yarns page. But here they are, because they want to help out their friend Frankie, the one-eyed postal worker who has has had a rough ride since her horse Burt got put on administrative leave for eating some mail. Fictional characters who identify as real, these two yahoos took up residence at Carrot Ranch some time ago and won’t go away. It is slightly concerning that they jumped the fence and are here in a mash up. 

Carrot Ranch March 5th  99 word challenge: “Clarice”

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: “Visualize”

Six Sentence Story (link opens 3/11/20) “Routine”

The story uses two more prompts in addition to these to continue and conclude in “Eyes on the Prize”.

six sentence story copy                            screen-shot-2020-01-20-at-4.02.57-pm.png square-template9

Clarice CRLC Challenge

Neither are a younger woman’s heartbreaks, nor dreams noted.



TheCarrot Ranch March 5, 2020, prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about Clarice. She can be any Clarice real, historical, or imagined. What story does she have for you to tell? Go where she may lead!”   Yep, Charli has a list of Clarices over there. I investigated one from the list for inspiration for the first non-fiction 99 words. The second is fiction. Though it may ring too true, I hope that it is and remains an exaggeration. 


Clarice Morant

Clarice Morant was Classie to family. The articles about Classie tenderly caring for her aged younger sister and brother for years mightn’t have been written except that at the time of their deaths Classie herself was over 100 years old.

A two-sentence obituary mentions when she died and at what age, and that she is survived by numerous “nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends”. That’s it. She’d been married, but children aren’t mentioned. Neither are a younger woman’s heartbreaks, nor dreams noted.

I choose to presume Classie was a remarkable woman throughout all her decades, even the unwritten ones.



Clarice was tired of not getting out. She used to enjoy the ‘girl parties’ where she and her friends dispensed comfort and commiseration; welcomed and advised another to widowhood; or bolstered grieving husbands with casseroles and sidelong confessions of loneliness. That’s when deaths were predictable and occasional occurrences, funerals social gatherings.

Now there were no gatherings. She and her friends that remained stayed home, kept updated by phone and facebook. Deaths were frequent, funerals hasty transactions for proper disposal.

At 85, Clarice thought she’d be ready when her time came. But this virus unnerved her with its urgent insistence.