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.

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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?”

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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.

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CRLC Challenge; Dusty Trails

square-template18There’s so much going on at Carrot Ranch! Despite Rodeo contests running all month, the regular weekly challenges continue as well. This week the Carrot Ranch prompt is to: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that happens on the dusty trail. It can take place anywhere. Who is your character, where are they going, and why? Bonus points if they meet up with Kid and Pal from D. Avery’s Ranch Yarns and Saddle Up Saloon (they hit the trail so TUFF could take over the saloon). Go where the prompt leads!” Despite the western leanings of the prompt I was led back to The Fold. But if you look carefully you might see Pal and Kid!

Star Dust    by D. Avery

“It’s my magical palace, Mommy!”

Taking her mother’s hand Hope twirled and danced in the hayloft until they both fell back into a pile of loose hay, laughing. Dusty trails of chaff sparkled in the shafts of sunlight.

“Stars!” her mother exclaimed.

“Make a wish, Mommy.”

“Does wishing work with this kind of star?”

“Yup. Mine came true.”

“What did you wish for?”

But Hope only grew quiet and snuggled closer to her mother, who stared up into the glittering dust. “I’m so sorry, kid,” she whispered. “But I’m here now, I promise.” Then she wished upon a star.

Kettle; #SixSentenceStory

six sentence story copyI’m in with my Six Sentences! I can’t even remember last week or the prompt word, only know that I missed showing up with a response. This week that recurring farm family from Vermont has saved me from such remorse and regret. In this case the prompt word, “kettle”, is this fictional family’s heirloom. Thank you Denise at GirlieOntheEdge for being the Six Sentence Story hostess with the mostest. The linkup for stories is actually tomorrow.

Living History   by D. Avery

She found him in the old part of the barn with its dark slate foundation and thick roughhewn beams and asked, “Where’s Hope?”

He pointed at the old cast iron kettle and explained, “I told her the story of this old sugar kettle, the story everyone in my family has always told their children— of course she’s the first to have wanted to go underneath the upturned kettle herself.”

Her look interrupted his thoughts as he remembered how he and his sister had been affected by the story, how they had been tortured enough imagining the experience, had never wanted to actually experience what it was like to curl up under that dark charred cauldron. He lifted a side of the kettle and Hope rolled out, uncurled blinking at them, more thoughtful than shaken. “And the bounty hunters searched the house and the barn but never looked underneath this?”

“That’s right, Hope, and soon after, your great-great-great-grandfather sold a store of maple sugar that had also come from the kettle, though he knew he wouldn’t get a good price; but he also knew he couldn’t very well be driving an empty wagon all the way to Newport.”

A Blossoming Scene; CRLC & SixSentenceStories

A little late with a Six Sentence Story where the word prompt is “line“, but have combined that with the Carrot Ranch Literary Community July 2, 2020, prompt to “in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the word blossom.The idea of lining bees came, then I realized the characters suited for that would be that Vermont farm family. First I wrote it as it came without counting sentences or words; it was 298 words. I then reconstructed and deleted to meet these prompts. After all that I feel they are each some sort of draft, and highly recommend the exercise.

six sentence story copy(Six Sentences; 217 words)

“I’ll be staying right here until this truck runs right again, so you two go line bees without me.”

He understood he was not to go with them but he watched as they stepped into the uncropped clover that aproned the barn where, as if moved by a gentle breeze, the purple blossoms, held aloft on trifoliate flagged stems, nodded and swayed with the weight of honeybees.

“We start right here, Hope,” she said, “We watch these bees load up with pollen, see which direction they go when they are done gathering; we follow.”

When Hope said “They buzz like sunshine, Mommy,” he knew it was true, that sunshine could be heard and felt as a buzz and hum, pulsating with life and promise; he heard it now and knew it was more than the bees on the clover, more than the tin of the shed roof beginning to ping as it warmed in the sun. He followed with his eyes as mother and daughter made their way across the meadow towards the hardwoods and though they used no compass or bee box he wouldn’t be surprised if they found the hive. He heard their laughter, a buzzing hum like sunshine and knew that even if they didn’t locate the hive, none of them would be disappointed.

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prompt-chomp

Three 99-word sections of the same story:

“Hope, have you ever lined bees?”

From under the truck hood he noted how her French Canadian accent was more pronounced with these sorts of questions, questions that might be asked of a much older person that she was working on getting to know, not of her own daughter. Like Hope, he also recognized it as an invitation, and he turned his head from his work to see the girl’s smile.

“I’ll be staying right here until this truck runs right again, so you two go line bees without me.” He understood he was not to go with them.

***

As if moved by a gentle breeze, the purple blossoms nodded and swayed under working honeybees.

“We start here, Hope. We watch these bees load up with pollen. Then we follow.”

“They buzz like sunshine, Mommy.” When Hope said that he knew it was true, that sunshine could be heard and felt, not just as heat but as a buzz and hum, pulsating with life and promise; he heard it now and knew it was more than the bees on the clover, more than the tin of the shed roof beginning to ping as it warmed in the sun.

***

He followed with his eyes as mother and daughter made their way across the meadow towards the hardwoods. Though they used no compass or bee box he wouldn’t be surprised if they found the hive. The pair paused. Though too far to see he knew they were at another patch of clover blossom, that they were again observing the bees, recalibrating their line. Looking across to where his wife and daughter crouched together he felt as much as heard their laughter, a buzzing hum like sunshine. Even if they didn’t locate the hive, none of them would be disappointed.

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square-template12.pngOne 99-word version of the story:

As if moved by a gentle breeze, the purple blossoms nodded and swayed under working honeybees.

“They buzz like sunshine, Mommy.”

“We’ll follow when they take off with their pollen.”

Mother and daughter set across the meadow towards the hardwoods. Though they used no compass or bee box he wouldn’t be surprised if they found the hive. He saw his wife and daughter crouched at what must be another patch of clover. Well out of hearing range, he felt their laughter, a buzzing hum like sunshine. Even if they didn’t locate the hive, none of them would be disappointed.

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