#SixSentenceStory; Home

It’s Wednesday, Six Sentence Story link up day, with the word of the week being “home”. Use that word or some form of it in exactly six sentences between now and Saturday. Find the linky at Denise’s GirlieOntheEdge blog. This Six is also in 99 words, the form used at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community for their weekly flash challenge. I’m too late for the recent “swift passage” challenge but it helped me here. Speaking of the Saddle Up Saloon at Carrot Ranch, there are now poetry challenges to be sampled there every first and third Monday, each open for a month, and this Monday, the twelfth, our own Clark Farley will be interviewed by fictional characters Kid and Pal.

Battlefield

Guides met me right away, with assurances of swift passage and a guaranteed berth. They would have preferred I take their advice but they have to honor the wishes of their charges and I’d made a promise to myself and to my family.

And so I am not where the guides advised me to go but neither am I where so many others, in stunned and stubborn denial, remain.

No. I promised those I love that I would come home.

I’ve been mourning my decision though, for I’m learning that we ghosts feel more haunted even than the living.

Page Turnin’

Belatedly, a nod to the new year. Kid and Pal want you to know their new page is up, their third, cleverly titled “Ranch Yarns 2021” which follows “Ranch Yarns 2020” and “Ranch Yarns ’17-’19” before that. These pages are where you can catch up on the antics of these fictional Carrot Ranchers who of their own volition respond to the Carrot Ranch Literary Community prompts every week. You may have caught Kid’s recent interview HERE. This past year Kid and Pal wandered off the Ranch for the first time and rode roughshod through some other blog hops. They settled down when the Saddle Up Saloon opened at Carrot Ranch, as Charli Mills left it to them to run the place. What could go wrong? Some things did go wrong, but through the miracles of fiction, were righted by the end. Whether it’s to take the stage and perform, or to just sit at the bar and comment, all are welcome at the Saddle Up Saloon, located in the wildly mild west of Carrot Ranch.


Lookin’ Back an’ Goin’ Forward

“It’s a new year Pal. Tell ya what, I ain’t inta all this visionin’ stuff.”

“Any hindsight on 2020 then, Kid?”

“Ain’t gonna put on rose colored glasses. We all know what went on, an’ is goin’ on, but there’s other places fer that conversation. I’ll ‘centuate the positive lookin’ back.”

“Thet’s why Shorty built the Saloon last March. Givin’ folks a pos’tive place ta come ever week fer a break an’ mebbe a laugh.”

“Thinkin’ Shorty’s jist keepin’ us corralled.”

“Thet too.”

“It worked.”

“The corrallin’? Or the morale-in’?”

“Both! I look for’ard ta more a the Saloon.”

*******************

“So yer lookin’ for’ard, Kid. Thet’s visionin’.”

“Is it? How d’ya see the Saddle Up down the road Pal?”

“Jist want the Saloon ta be a frien’ly hangout where folks drop by an’ say howdy, mebbe git up on the stage an’ showcase themselves an’ their work.”

“Yeah… Pal, in ‘ddition ta the Saloon, we was in dang near a hunnerd fifteen 99-word yarns last year.”

“Think fame’s changed us Kid?”

“Naw. ‘Sides we’re jist legen’s in our own minds— or someone’s mind.”

“S’pose. But thet someone’s corralled our “Ranch Yarns” here.”

“An’ we’re ridin’ for’ard at Carrot Ranch!”

Wanted: Real or Fictional Folks ta take the stage.

Kid Interviewed; facts on the fictional ranch hand

So, I went by tnkerr’s place and was hipped to a prompt by LRose, who brings us The Blog Propellant. The prompt this week is to: “Interview someone! Real or imagined. Come up with five questions and three follow-up questions to your interviewee’s answers. The Interviewer can be in first person, or a third person character.” I am featuring an interview of fictional character A. Kid, known as Kid. If you want to know more of Kid’s story go HERE. Go to The Blog Propellant for more. Who will you interview?

Interview of  A. Kid, aka Kid:

There are disclaimers that you are in fact fiction. Are you for real?

I am fer real, that is I’m pro-reality, well, mebbe not all realities, there’s some realities I’m def’nitely aginst. But yep, I’m really a real fictional character.

            What book are you in?

I ain’t in no book; I got me a real job, two jobs now. I’m a reg’lar hand at Carrot Ranch, not a Rancher or Rough Writer, but a fictional hand that takes care a chores. That shift don’t shovel itself, if ya know what I mean. An’ me an’ Pal also run the Saddle Up Saloon, a virtual waterin’ hole at the ranch, jist over the line.

If you could be in a book, any book, what book would it be?

Bet yer thinkin’ some sorta Western, ain’tcha? But funny thing is, since endin’ up as the residint greenhorn at Carrot Ranch I been rethinkin’ genre an’ tropes an’ sech. Yep, I’m willin’ ta talk like this, but we gotta ‘member a literary community knows no one time, place, or perspective. Anythin’s possible. I’m also thinkin’ my writer don’t read ‘nough fiction, an’ thinkin’ I’d ruther jist stay on the ranch than be in a book, but mebbe I’d be in somethin’ like Herman Hesse meets wild west, meets Cuckoo’s Nest. Yep, I’d git along jist fine in Howard Frank Mosher’s True Account, a novel tells ‘bout his fictional characters beatin’ Lewis an’ Clark ta the Pacific.

What’s the best thing about being a fictional character?

If my writer is payin’ attenshun she kin git me outta jist ‘bout any situation. ‘Course, if she were payin’ attenshun, she woulda kep me outta trouble in the first place, but I kin git inta trouble an’ count on gittin’ safely outta it. The worst case scenario’s been my writer cheats an’ takes an extra 99 words ta resolve my problem. Bet you real folks wish ya had it so good.

As a fictional character living and working on a virtual ranch, do you ever feel stuck?

Golly, no! First of all Carrot Ranch is boundless, a world wide literary community, so there’s lots of safe space and fascinating folks from all over. Every week there’s a new prompt so it’s never borin’. An’ ev’ry fall, in October, there’s the Rodeo, a fun flash fiction writin’ contest that’s open ta one an’ all, that’s always real excitin’. Ev’ry Tuesday there’s innerestin’ columns from dif’rent Ranchers. An’ a course there’s the Saddle Up Saloon that I’ve been runnin’ with my pal Pal since last March. We git ta meet great folks, artists of all sorts from all over, an’ we even git some other fictional characters in. ‘Cause even yer fictional characters need ta take a break now an’ agin, jist relax with those of us that git it, git away from their writers an’ the narrative. An’ there’s karaoke, which ain’t quite karaoke, an’ Five at the Mic, which is live readin’s, ‘cept they’re recorded. Tell ya what, if I was ta be stuck somewhere, couldn’t pick a better place than Carrot Ranch an’ the Saddle Up. Actually, I did pick it.

            So you never get off the Ranch or away from the Saddle Up Saloon?

Well, ever’thin’ we’ve done, me an’ Pal, is archived on the Ranch Yarn pages at our writer’s blog, ShiftnShake. An’ one time we did git away an’ blog hopped through some other prompts but it was prob’ly weird fer ever’one involved. I was glad ta git back ta the Ranch after that. But who knows, mebbe I’ll git out there agin.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

Like I said, I’m in a real good place. The real folks are real good, the other characters are lotsa fun. I been busy takin’ care a my puglet—

Puglet?

Well, it’s a piglet, but at first I thought it was one a them pug puppy dogs, but as the song goes, love the hog ya got, so yeah, I have ta walk the hog, an’ take care a all my kids—

You have kids?

Yep, goats, an’ they’s a lot a work, always gittin’ inta stuff, chewin’ on the poets’ tree an’ they et some a the weekly challenge submissions, but I resolve ta take better care a them an’ ta take good care a my puglet an’ ta jist keep havin’ fun with ever’one at the Ranch. I jist wanna write the occasional buckaroo-ku an’ I want folks ta come by the Saddle Up Saloon an’ jist have a good time, mebbe take the stage even. ‘Cause me an’ Pal do innerviews too ya know. Bet ya’d recognize some a the folks has been by. So yeh, I jist wanna keep on with all I got goin’ on. An’ I sure hope an’ pray fer yer real folks’ situation out there ta git better an fer y’all ta have a happy healthy 2021.

CRLC Challenge; Never Dreamed

You know what’s going on here. You see the image from the latest Carrot Ranch 99-word challenge, presented by Charli Mills. You know that you can expect something from me here in response to the prompt, sometimes calling up recurring characters, sometimes discovering new ones, sometimes entering one 99-word response, sometimes more, but always going where the prompt leads. But did you know that in addition to what I put here on my home page I always come up with a Ranch Yarn’ for the readers at Carrot Ranch? Did you know that Kid and Pal have been fictional ranch hands for some time now? In addition to being weekly regulars at Carrot Ranch, their yarns are on their own pages here at ShiftnShake. Since March of this year Kid and Pal can also be found every week at their very own fictional watering hole, The Saddle Up Saloon. There they provide entertainment and interviews. Did you know they’d be happy to have you drop in and even take the stage?

This week, in response to Charli’s announcement that she is expecting a puppy, Kid has decided to get a puppy too.December 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something a character never dreamed would happen. The situation can be fortuitous, funny, or disappointing. Go where the prompt leads!In three:

Doggoned

“Kid, where’n heck ya been?”

“Saw a advertisement fer young dogs, fer sale at the Slim Chance Ranch. Slim seemed real tickled, me wantin’ a dog. Hopin’ you’ll be happy fer me too Pal.”

“Hmmf. Uh, Kid yer pup’s got kinda a flattened face.”

“It’s its breedin’, Pal. This here’s a puglet.”

“Uh-huh. Kid yer puglet ain’t got much fur. It’s kinda pink.”

“She ain’t fully growed. Like baby rabbits or mice.”

“Uh-huh. Kid, why’s yer puppy wearin’ booties?”

“Slim did that ta pertect her paws, said they ain’t fully developed. Yet. Never dreamed I’d have my own puppy!”

***

“Kid, it behooves me ta tell ya somethin’ ‘bout yer puppy.”

“What kin ya say ‘cept how dang cute she is? Look’t her waggin’ her tail. Might call her Curly. What d’ya think a that?”

“Oh, it’s a fine name fer yer puglet, Kid, but—”

“Look’t how she likes ta be scratched behind her ears.”

“’Bout them ears, Kid…”

“Hey, it’s Shorty.”

“Hey Kid, hey Pal. Oh, Kid! Yer gonna raise yer own? Musta gone down ta Slim’s.”

“Yep, got a puglet of my own. Gonna train it ta hunt.”

“Really? Never dreamed there’s truffles on the Ranch.”

***

“Truffles?”

“Truffle huntin’ might work out, Kid, but I figgered you’d be raisin’ this piglet up fer bacon. Not surprised ya went ta Slim’s when he advertised young hogs fer sale.”

“Hogs?”

“I’m more of a hoss person, but I’d say ya got yerself a real fine piglet, Kid.”

“Piglet?”

“Jist keep her outta the carrot patch. I ain’t fergittin’ yer trouble with goats, Kid, but reckon we kin accommodate yer bacon project.”

“Bacon?”

“Takes a lot Kid, ta raise yer own, ta look yer food in the eye.”

“Never dreamt I’d give up bacon. Come Curly. Good girl.”

CRLC Challenge; Chores

square-template24Over at Carrot Ranch the weekly challenges continue, even though Charli Mills is up to her earlobes in MFA work and related happenings. The annual Rodeo, the Ranch writing contest, is also going on, until the end of the month supplanting the Tuesday columns and Monday’s Saddle Up Saloon feature. It sure is worth a visit to Carrot Ranch to read, write, and appreciate literary art.

This week the prompt is to, “in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about chores. It doesn’t have to be a western ranch chore; it can be any routine task. Go where the prompt leads!” I treaded word water for three 99 word essays before being led to a flash featuring that farm family and another unrelated totally fictitious take apropos of nothing.  

Chores

I, and my brothers, always had chores. Aside from some gender discrepancies, typical for the times, I don’t resent having had chores; in fact appreciate the experiences and learning that came from them. When I was a teacher I often asked students and parents about chores at home. Repetitive tasks, such as setting the table, support number sense. As parental scaffolds fall away a child learns independence and problem solving skills in the endeavor to complete a chore. Balanced with play, meaningful chores provide a child a sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of being a contributing family member.

How chores are perceived by a child, and by adults, depends on how they are presented; attitude and mindset matter. The first definition of chore is a routine task; routine, necessary tasks are not necessarily unpleasant. Shouldn’t there be joy and satisfaction in completing a necessary task? And can’t one bring joy to that task? That’d be a fine thing to model for a child. Chores can be a shared time of skill teaching, of story telling, of instilling habits of stewardship and responsibility. Let a child grow into what they are capable of and don’t forget to play.

Do what you love, love what you do. Because I am able to pretty much do things when I want to not when I have to, I have no chores. I get done what needs to get done without stress. In fact routine tasks reduce stress; so-called chores can be a relaxing time of contemplation and mindful mindlessness, often serving to unblock some other stoppage. Unforced, tasks go more smoothly and successfully; what seems a chore one day eventually becomes another day’s pleasant project, the delay often necessary subconscious problem solving. To master your tasks, don’t be a taskmaster.

###

Lost in Translation  

“I learned a new word at school today.”

Hope’s dad continued scooping beans with his bread. “In the classroom or on the playground?”

“Playground.”

He held his bread and looked up. “What word?”

“It started with a /c/ I think. Melinda made it seem like a bad word.” Hope continued while her parents exchanged glances. “It has to do with doing things you don’t want to do, and not getting to do fun things. Chores! That’s the word.”

“But Hope, you tend the chickens, and the garden; help us both out around the farm.”

“That’s fun! Mommy, what’s allowance?”

###

Tales Out of School

She loved the pedagogy, the art and science of teaching children, of engaging all learners. When she taught she learned, delving deeply into the topic when developing units of study. She led her students by following their lead. She relished helping her students make connections and demonstrate their learning creatively.

Then came the canned curriculum, the boxed units.

“This will be easier for all teachers.”

Easier isn’t better. Let me do it my way, she said.

“Curriculum delivery should all be the same. You can do your thing as long as you follow the program.”

Teaching became a chore.

rwr-1

Write On!; #SixSentenceStory

It’s only six sentences.

But sometimes inspiration gasps for breath, ideas hunch unrecognizable at dark edges.

Still, the cloud cloaked mountain hunches over the lake.

The hunched heron keeps a hungry eye at the water, ready.

The writer hunches over the keyboard waiting, wanting.

Still.

six sentence story copy

The word from Denise at GirlieontheEdge this week is “hunch”, but I have a hunch you figured that out from my Six Sentences. No story, I am not as proficient as that blue heron is. I have been finding it harder to write now that I have more time to do it. I’m not sure what I do all day, but it takes all my time. I do want to take some time now to thank Denise and the Six Sentence Story community for being such a supportive and encouraging group. 

Last February Denise gave us “plant” and I apologized for a somewhat sketchy offering then too. But I have declared that my blog is not just a display case, it is also a workbench. I am glad to have put the unfinished plant sketch out for you because of the feedback it received. I might have left it be, but was encouraged by the Sixers to keep working with it. I did and in it’s expanded and more polished form will be published Saturday at The Hopper Environmental Lit Magazine.

I’m thrilled they were interested in that piece, and I am appreciative of its origins here as a Six Sentence Story offering. Thank you!

Making Room #d’Verse;TuesdayPoetics

dverselogoIt’s Tuesday Poetics over at the D’Verse Pub for poets, and Laura Bloomsbury says, “For today’s poetry  prompt I’m asking us to conjure a room or rooms in the literal, functional, metaphorical, imaginary, and/or fantastical sense.”

That is a most intriguing prompt but as I have little room in my schedule right now, I am going to recycle a poem that I shared at not a pub, but a saloon. The following first aired at the Saddle Up Saloon’s recent open mic. 

 

Opening, D. Avery 

You’re the door
that opened me
the room revealed
by the open door
the room revealed in me

You’re the lamp that shines
the beam of light
illuminating treasures
that were locked within this room

You’re the room within the room
So am I
I am so many rooms
because my door is open.
Because you said, Step in.