I realized with a start that I haven’t written a post in awhile. I have been too busy living my life! Does this mean my blogging days are done? Probably not but I wouldn’t be surprised to find my blog changing again.
No flash fiction because Carrot Ranch is running contests this month. I have entered two of them so far and they don’t want us to publish our entries until late November after the winners are announced. My goal is to finish in the top ten so I can get a critique from Charli who will be practicing on the top ten for her writing class.
This month I have made it a goal to clean or de-clutter one area in my home six days a week. I am picking areas that don’t get cleaned on a regular basis so I am doing odd drawers and nooks and crannies. I have done both refrigerators and I have to say every time I look in the kitchen fridge now I feel nothing but joy. I can’t believe how many expired and almost empty condiments I had!
I am also practicing some self-care and doing a 21 day on-line retreat called “Magical Mindfulness” created by Jools Sinclair. There have been some interesting bits and I am curating a few practices that will hopefully turn long term.
Finally there was the big autumn camping trip. I did a photo Friday of it but sadly it wasn’t that great of a trip because I was sick. 😞 I had been looking forward to this trip for months and the weather was beautiful but all I wanted to do was nap! I had been sick for two weeks and thought for sure I was going to get better.
After we got back I went to the doctor and found out that I have a virus, most likely two different one’s back-to-back considering how long I have been sick. For seven days I have to eat a bland, light diet to give my gut a chance to heal and drink emergence-C everyday to help the virus go on it’s way. Hopefully all will be well by Halloween.
The prompt for this week from Carrot Ranch is unremembered. Not sure where the darkness came from but I went with it.
I was nine when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, eleven when she died. My memories of being ten are ragged, filled with holes.
I remember crying. Hospital visits. Coming home to an empty house, devoid of the smells of baking and lemon Pledge. The panicky feeling as I opened the door, what if this was the day she died and I just didn’t know it yet?
Surely people were kind to me during this difficult time? But no acts of kindness remain in my memory. I can’t remember anyone but my mother and myself during that horrific year.
Seriously, I am not really thinking about Christmas yet, other than with the shock of seeing items creep into stores. But I am thinking about my son turning 12 next month. How did that happen? So that is where I went with this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch.
I studied my son and wondered if he still believed in Santa. He was almost twelve now. I had the story ready. How Saint Nicholas was a real person who did good works and when he died people wanted to continue his kind deeds. How everyone gets a chance to be Santa for others.
Was my son ready to be Santa? Was I ready? Maybe this was an interlude where he didn’t quite believe but had a year to grow into the idea of Saint Nicholas. Or maybe this interlude was for me to adjust to him growing up.
The prompt from Carrot Ranch for this week is “The Greatest Gift”. I had lots of ideas come to mind but they all felt trite, too obvious. I started thinking about how it is not just the story but the way it is told. I have not had much luck getting ideas out of my brain and into words on paper. Often times there is a disconnect somewhere. I suspect much of my problem is simply the need to spend more time, more rewrites, more work on the task. I need to get my “10,000 hours” in.
Still not perfect but after multiple edits and changes I got closer to getting the picture in my head translated into words. I am glad I will have next week to try again!
“Time, Heart and Head”
She was 83, too old to be living alone said her grandchildren. Her house was worth a fortune they said.
“It’s my home, not a house,” she groused. “Fine, when the Cubs win the World Series I’ll move.”
She spent her 92nd summer as always, listening to the Cubs on the radio. She was tired, worn out; it had been a hard year. In her head she knew it was time to move.
Finally, game seven of the World Series. Tie score. Rain delay ends at last. Her heart races, knows: it is time for the Cubs to win.
Here is my attempt for this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch. And yes, hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim is something I think about doing.
I stare at the steep path up the canyon wall and breathe deep. “I can do this. One step at a time. Nice and easy,” I tell myself.
“Think about how happy you will be at the top,” I continue with my pep talk. “How many people can say they have hiked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon? You chose to do this. So what if you are 55 years old. You are in shape for this. Eat some granola and keep moving.”
“You okay back there?” the guide yells. “Yup, gritting it out just fine,” I reply.
I almost skipped this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch. I had no ideas, zip, zero. My brain was empty.
I completed my training and officially started work this week. I think I made a mistake. The work is easy enough and I actually like all the walking, but the heat is killing me. I am re-thinking my hours and promised myself to stick it out to the end of the week. It is supposed to cool down Friday and Saturday and I’ll see if it is enough to make it bearable. And if it is still too hot for me I will resign.
So I found myself thinking a lot about weather and finally figured out an idea for the prompt.
Sophia walked into the kitchen and wondered where spring was. Fat snowflakes swirled outside the window, carpeting the grass and mounding on empty flowerpots.
“This would be pretty if it was December,” Sophia told Mother Nature, “but here in May you are just being cruel.”
She put the kettle on and popped an English muffin into the toaster. “Guess I’ll just have to make my own spring,” she said, moving a vase of tulips to the table. She opened her last jar of homemade strawberry jam and breathed in the sweet berry scent. “Take that Mother Nature,” she crowed.
I stopped listening to the news some years ago. I got tired of not being given just the facts and being allowed to interpret them for myself. I got tired of the news sensationalizing brutal events. I listen to my local classical music station in the morning. I listen to the news from NPR they broadcast at 0800 just to see if anything really big has happened in the world. Most mornings I am disappointed to hear them start off with something negative about the President. I find it hard to believe this is the most important thing to happen in the whole entire world in the last 24 hours.
I stay out of politics and though I believe everyone is entitled to voice their opinion I am never happy to hear diatribes. I have very strong feelings about many things, most of which I keep to myself. I also believe in respecting the office of the President. I didn’t love all my Commander-In-Chiefs but I certainly respect the office, and the power and responsibility that entails. So I was tempted to skip this week’s 99 word prompt but…
So the pictures have nothing to do with the story, I just happened to recently take some pictures of rocks. How’s that for serendipity? So here is my response to Carrot Ranch’s 99 word prompt this week.
“Karaoke is not Your Friend”
Lisa’s friends nudged her and told her it was her turn. She gulped down the rest of her drink and as she stood up the floor tilted underneath her. She gently touched people’s shoulders for balance as she made her way to the stage.
She belted out “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”. “I sound just like Pat Benatar,” she thought. She finished to a thunderous ovation, people laughing and clapping. “I am a rock star!” she yelled as she left the stage. She continued to feel that way, at least until she saw the video the next day.
I have to confess I am having a tough time mentally getting back into my normal routine after vacation and surgery downtime. To be honest I am not sure I want to go back to my old routine. But I do think these writing challenges are good for me. I need to keep practicing if I am ever going to improve and learn and grow. I love the story of the baby loon that inspired this week’s flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch. I rather wish I was sitting on a cabin porch by a lake right now!
Here is this week’s entry.
FOR ONE DAY
Kate lies in bed listening to the quiet. The boys are off on a fishing trip. Laundry and groceries flit across her mind. And then, what if for one day she did only what she wanted to do? She breathes deep, does she dare?
In the shower she contemplates and discards options. Then the answer arrives.
She throws her journal, sketchbook and pencils in her backpack. She stops at the cute corner café she always wanted to try and requests a box lunch: “Surprise me,” she says. She heads toward the river, hiking until she finds solitude. Tranquility. Herself.
This week’s flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch was to write a story that involved paint.
This is what I wrote first:
I know it is hormones and heat causing my apathy but it is still scary. Scary to sit and not be able to think of a single thing one wants to do. Scary not knowing when one is going to get one’s self back again.
Frustrating to desperately need sleep, going to bed knowing you aren’t going to get it. Frustrating knowing for a fact that one is going to be awakened at least three times with bursts of heat.
Satisfying to look at the blank page of the sketchbook and add a slash of color. Mindlessly? Or Mindfully?
This is not fiction. This is therapy. So often I find myself using the writing prompt to express my current mental state. This isn’t a bad thing but not my goal. So I tried a second time.
She felt like Myrna Loy in “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House” as she recited paint colors to the contractor.
“I am still figuring out my office”, she confessed. It felt terribly important to get the color exactly right in the room she would spend the most time in.
Since she couldn’t even narrow down a color family she was going by name now. She wanted something literary like ‘Writer’s Retreat’ or ‘Chapter and Verse’.
She flipped through the paint chips and read ‘All Your Dreams’. The palest of pinks, more of a rosy cream. Her future in paint.
I thought this was better but still has too much me in it. I’ll continue to work on that when I get back. I will miss the next two or three weeks as I will be on vacation and then having surgery.
P.S. I don’t know if those are real paint color names, I made them up. If I had more words I would have had the kitchen painted ‘Buttercup Yellow’, the hall bath ‘Tidal Blue’ and the master “Glacier Gray’. Turns out I like making up paint names. And I have a spot to use that skill in my novel!!
In the meantime enjoy your summer and have a safe and Happy 4th of July!