Flash fiction – White flowers

The sixth flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch Communications:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes white flowers.

When Charli posted this challenge, I was thinking of writing about my Mum’s white flowers. At the time I didn’t expect that she would pass away before I had it written. After losing her my mind has been otherwise occupied and I have struggled to think beyond those two words “white flowers”. However, tonight I decided to write a brief tribute to my Mum who peacefully went “to Heaven” on Friday evening.  We will say our farewells to her tomorrow. So, it’s not really flash and it’s not really fiction but it is on the topic and is 99 words.

peace lilies

These white flowers in the pot at my door remind me of you.
I bought them for you, to remind you of home, when you moved, with reluctant acceptance.
Peace lilies.
Your beautiful peace lily flourished in the warmth of the sunny spot beside your favourite chair; the favourite chair that you took with you to your new home; that transported you to Heaven. You were ready.
Now they reside with me, in the pot made by his hands; a fitting spot.
You will rest with him in his plot, together again, now at peace, forever.
Love you Mum

Flash fiction – Vagaries of time

The fifth flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch Communications:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that quotes from a song’s lyrics (could be a classical aria, a rock & roll song, anything).

This is my contribution. I hope you enjoy it.

Vagaries of Time

She rubbed the grimy pane, squinting to peer inside.

It was all boarded up now with chairs stacked haphazardly on tabletops and piled in corners decorated with cobwebs.

On one side stood the jukebox covered in dust.

Suddenly she was back in his arms, their bodies pressed tightly together, swaying to Mick singing “time is my side”. They thought they would be young and in love like this forever.

“Hmmhmm! You okay, Miss?”

“Yes,” she stammered, embarrassed.

She stumbled down the steps, smiling as the words in her head became Van’s “precious time is slipping away…”

Thanks for reading. I welcome all feedback.

Liebster Award acceptance responses

liebster2

Recently I nominated a number of bloggers for a Liebster Award. Out of the thirteen I nominated, six chose to share their thoughts by answering the questions I asked. Considering the percentage of responses that are often received to a survey, I think this is a great result.

Below I have presented the questions that I asked and collated a summary of each response. If you wish to read each respondent’s answers in full, please visit their blogs. I’m sure you will find much more of interest.

You may notice that not all respondents have answered every question, and that one respondent has chosen another question of her own. That’s okay. I gave them permission to do so!

Remember, these were open-ended questions with no wrong answers and everyone did a marvelous job in answering them. I am very grateful to each for sharing the depth and openness of their thoughts. I think we have much to learn from them, and from each other. This is a list of respondents with links to their blogs.

Anne Goodwin  annethology  annecdotal Anne Goodwin’s Writing Blog

Nillu Nasser Stelter, Fiction and Freelance Writer

Nicole Hewes Cultivating Questioners

Charli Mills Carrot Ranch Communications Words for People!

Caroline Lodge book word

Nanny Shecando

 

1. What do you value most in life?

Anne Goodwin

Authenticity; ambivalence; fairness; mutual respect.

Nillu Nasser Stelter

the ability to choose how I live my life. Freedom is everything.

Nicole Hewes

moments of possibility and opportunity, where the world seems open and the choices seem infinite

Charli Mills

living in such a way that I look for beauty all around me and find good even when life’s path gets rocky

Caroline Lodge

my daughter

Nanny Shecando

the chance I get everyday to make the most of it. That I can do whichever I chose to do.

 

2. What activities do you enjoy and why?

Anne Goodwin

Reading and writing; walking in the countryside; choral singing and growing (some of) my own food.

Nillu Nasser Stelter

lazy afternoons in the park with my family; sinking into a bubble bath with a good book; singing when nobody is listening and dancing when nobody is watching

Nicole Hewes

reading

Charli Mills

Activities that connect me to living in the moment: gardening, cooking and writing about the birds outside my window

Caroline Lodge

Reading and writing, and talking about both with other enthusiasts.

Nanny Shecando

any activity that allows me to be creative

 

3.What is something you wish you had more time for?

Anne Goodwin

I don’t think we can do everything (that’s what fiction is for – the chance to live other lives) and I’m reasonably happy with how I portion out my time.

Nillu Nasser Stelter

reading and writing; other creative pursuits

Nicole Hewes

travel, try new recipes, read more books, and to spend with my friends and family

Charli Mills

I’ve found that by taking time to stare at a sunset or falling snowflakes, I have all the time in the world. It’s what I do with it that matters.

Caroline Lodge

it’s not so much time as ability to fit all the things I love in my life

Nanny Shecando

read more books

 

4.What is one change you would like to make in the world?

Anne Goodwin

a shift in emphasis from a culture of greed to one of equality and compassion

Nillu Nasser Stelter

more understanding for each other, first within our own countries and then across country boundaries; clean water for all!

Nicole Hewes

change our society so that equal educational opportunity could actually exist, so that everyone could have access to basic resources, and so that money and special interests wouldn’t dictate the media

Charli Mills

contribute to world change through one beautiful book at a time; honor the hero’s journey within us all and to actualize everyday beauty

Caroline Lodge

World peace; access to books for everyone

Nanny Shecando

people holding themselves accountable for their actions

 

5.What is something you would like to change about yourself?

Anne Goodwin

I’d like to be more laid-back; a published novelist

Nillu Nasser Stelter

I’d like to care less about what other people think about me.

Nicole Hewes

I would like to be a tad more outgoing and a little less independent

Charli Mills

To stop worrying whether or not people approve of what I do.

Nanny Shecando

to practice a, “you’re full of greatness so long as you tap into it and utilise it” mentality

 

6.What surprises you most about your life – something good in your life that you hadn’t expected, dreamed of or thought possible?

Anne Goodwin

taking part in choral concerts of major classical works along with some pretty decent singers and a full orchestra. It’s a real emotional hit

Nillu Nasser Stelter

The ease of transition from single person to family life; how tiring and rewarding it would be.

I have evolved from a child with a mass of insecurities to someone who is comfortable with herself.

Nicole Hewes

Being in a relationship with a partner with a worldview quite different from mine who challenges my views and assumptions and is incredibly kind, supportive, and loving.

Charli Mills

an upheaval in my life would open the door for me to step into that writer’s life. It isn’t easy, but it is what I’ve dreamed of doing and I’m doing it.

Caroline Lodge

That it goes on getting better, that I go on learning, that there are so many amazing people in the world and I know some of them.

Nanny Shecando

that I am able to be so happy, comfortable, confident and secure in leading the life that I do.

 

7.What ‘big” question do you often ponder?

Anne Goodwin

The fact that our species has invested so much energy and creativity in the technology of warfare and so little in strategies for living in peace with our neighbours.

Nicole Hewes

Why our differences continue to lead to such polarization and why empathy can be so selective.

Charli Mills

How do I listen to God’s calling and live in the light?

Caroline Lodge

How can articulate and intelligent people inflict direct and indirect suffering upon others?

Nanny Shecando

life vs the state of dreaming. How can we really distinguish which is which? How do we know if what we perceive to be real is actually so?

8.What sorts of things amuse you?

Anne Goodwin

my husband’s dreadful punning jokes. And I quite like dark humour exemplified by the ditty Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from The Life of Brian

Nillu Nasser Stelter

Slapstick comedy and Ally McBeal; innuendo; the children

Nicole Hewes

comments that my second graders make in our classroom; when the ridiculousness of an idea is exposed by positing the same thinking in another situation.

Charli Mills

Silly little things

Caroline Lodge

Unintentional meanings in things like the sign “uncontrolled pedestrian crossing” in London.

Nanny Shecando

the daily conversations that I get to share with the kids.

 

9.What do you like to collect?

Anne Goodwin

Slugs from the garden

Nicole Hewes

copies of student work that blows me away with its insight or hilarity (I have a “smile file” where I keep these items). I also like to collect quotes and articles and stories that suggest that gender roles are actually shifting and gender stereotyping is altering. And pasta recipes

Charli Mills

Stuff from the ground that’s old–rocks, fossils, arrowheads, purple glass.

Nanny Shecando

books and old sheet music

 

10.If you could talk with anyone and ask them to explain their ideas and/or actions, who would it be, and why?

Anne Goodwin

I’d ask the women who doled out white feathers to men out of uniform in the First World War why they thought they had the right. If I couldn’t time travel, I’d ask our Prime Minister, David Cameron, why he isn’t ashamed that a rich country like ours has spawned so many food banks.

Nillu Nasser Stelter

both my grandfathers, who have both sadly died

Charli Mills

I’d love to talk to my 5th-great grandfather and ask him why he left North Carolina. He was a poet and wrote such sad verse about leaving those mountains as an old man.

 

11.What is something you can’t do without?

Anne Goodwin

My glasses, voice-activated software

Nillu Nasser Stelter

feeling connected

Nicole Hewes

a good book on my person at all times

Charli Mills

Internet!

Caroline Lodge

my daughter

Nanny Shecando

a notebook and pen

 

12.What is something important you learned about life, and how did you learn it?

Anne Goodwin

That, unlike a work of fiction, we can’t scrub out the bits that don’t work and start again.

Charli Mills

A life of truth is not an easy one.

Nanny Shecando

you don’t get anything unless you ask for it

 

13.What is your earliest memory?

Anne Goodwin

I distinctly remember standing on the steps leading up to the front door of our house, replying “two in August” to a passerby who’d asked my age. However, this being one of the stories my mother liked to tell about me, and knowing what I do about the fallibility of autobiographical memories, especially those from early childhood, I doubt its authenticity, and regard it as my mother’s memory, not mine.

Nillu Nasser Stelter

Probably my gran singing ‘Nanu maru nak’ (my nose is small), a Gujarati nursery rhyme, to me, but I often question whether my memories are real or reconstructed, so I can’t be sure.

Charli Mills

One of my earliest memories is of a black cat that I coaxed into being a pet on a ranch where I lived the first seven years of my life. That cat made me feel safe

Caroline Lodge

Someone threatened to steal my little sister. It was an early experience of a quandary: if I went to get adult help she might get taken, but could I make sure she was safe on my own. I was scarcely 3 and she was newborn.

14.What sorts of things irritate you? (Caroline Lodge)

Caroline Lodge

There are lots of things, and one of them is the pervasive idea of favourite books and writers in tweets and blogs. It’s such a simplistic, reductionist concept that I try to avoid it. I added this question, just so I could indulge in a favourite whinge.

 

The responses reflect the richness of our humanity, both the commonality and its diversity. Which responses strike an accord with you? With which do you differ?

Please share your thoughts and keep the conversation going.

 

 

 

 

 

Flash fiction – It’s just the wind.

The fourth flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch Communications:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase, “It’s just the wind.”

This is my contribution. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Her crumpled body pressed tightly into the corner; she willed herself a part of it.

He was coming to get her.

His tendril-like fingers scratched the window pane, prised up the screen, tore down the blind, demanded entry.

With her eyes clamped shut, the images took charge: too terrifying to forget, too horrible to remember.

He’d never let her be.

His powerful hands pummelled the door, jangled the handle, wrenched it free.

Hands blocking her ears failed to exclude the menacing howl.

“There’s no escape.”

Her screams found voice.

“Hush,” they soothed the quivering mass. “It’s just the wind.”

 

Thanks for reading. I welcome all feedback.

What is education, anyway? Pt.2

Norah:

This week I am sharing a post published on Teachling earlier this year. Teachling introduces her post with a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson, an international advisor on Education. Like Teachling, I very much admire his work and would love to see education systems implement his recommendations. I hope you will set aside the 19 minutes it will take to listen to what Ken has to say. You will be amused, entertained and educated. I intended providing a summary of important points from his talk, but found I was recording the talk in full! Teachling has provided a few notes but I would love you to listen to the entire talk and let me know what you think. How can we join the revolution that Ken says we need?

Originally posted on Teachling:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley.html

Let’s face it, children are basically all the same and should be taught in the same, tried and tested, chalk and talk, fashion. Teachers in schools should focus purely on the 3R’s – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic – and leave that creative ‘fluff’ for kids to pursue in their own time. Children should be viewed as empty vessels and a teacher’s role is to fill them with enough knowledge to pass the test. Some kids are just lazy, hyperactive or incapable of learning, so teachers should let them be whilst focussing on the other kids that can and want to learn. Wait… What? Was there actually a time when people thought this way about education? I do hope that the opinions above are not felt by any person on this earth. My opinions are much more aligned with those articulated in Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk, “How to escape education’s…

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Flash fiction: Hyperbole – Spider attack!

The third flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch Communications:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a hyperbolic response to a frustrating situation (an hyperbole is an exaggeration).

I hope you enjoy it.

johnny_automatic_spider

Spider attack!

 

Arms flailing like a helicopter, eyes wide like headlights on full beam, her screeches rent the quietude.  

 They came running.

 “What’s wrong?”

 “Get it off! Get if off me!” she shrieked.

 “What? Where?” they asked.

 “In my hair! A spider!”

 “Stay still.”

 They looked. 

 “Nothing. No spider,” they said.

 “Are you sure?” she implored. “Something ran across my cheek.”

 “Maybe this?” He chuckled, untangling a wizened leaf.

 She scowled.

 In agreement, another leaf fluttered down.

 They raised their eyebrows, smirking conspiratorially.

 She stormed away, tumbling over chairs and cushions, leaving them speechless with mirth in her wake.

 

 

I welcome any feedback.

Empowerment – the importance of having a voice

In a previous series of posts I wrote about science inaccuracies in a picture book and questioned with whom lay the responsibility for providing young children with correct information.

While this post builds upon those posts, it also takes a divergent path: the need for children to have a voice; to be empowered to ask questions, to state their needs and report wrongdoings.

On a highly respected educational website Scholastic, with the by-line “Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life.”, in an article about Eric Carle author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, children are told that

“Eric already knows that a caterpillar emerges from a chrysalis, not a cocoon! So don’t bother writing to tell him.”

This seemingly innocuous statement may be easily overlooked but packs a powerful message.

What does it tell children?

The author has been told many times, already knows and isn’t going to do anything about it.

The author is tired of being told he is wrong and doesn’t want to hear it any more.

The author is “right” and not to be questioned. (The book, with its misinformation, is highly acclaimed by millions around the world. However if, in answering a question on a test, children were to write that a butterfly comes out of a cocoon, they would be marked wrong. Explain that to them.)

For me the most insidious part of this message is

He already knows, “so don’t bother writing to tell him”!!!!!!!!

You can’t change it.

You know it’s wrong, but you can’t change it, so don’t bother trying.

Although many societies are now moving to eradicate it, child abuse is still far too common worldwide. Not only must the attitudes of societies change, but children must be empowered, they must be encouraged to speak up and they must be listened to: their voices must be heard.

In a recent child abuse case that occurred at a Queensland primary school, the student protection officer reportedly said that she couldn’t understand why the children who had been sexually abused did not come forward.

couldn't believe 1

The accused had continued in his role as child protection contact for a year after the first complaint was made. The student protection officer found it hard to believe that her colleague was a paedophile;

couldn't believe 2

and still she says she doesn’t understand why the children didn’t come forward!

Click here to read the complete article.

It seems to me the children did come forward if the first (indicates there were more) complaint was made more than a year before anything was done about it.

The children tried to say, but were not believed. The predator was believed and protected while the plight of the innocent victims was ignored. The report states that parents who complained about the abuse of their children were ostracised by the school community and made out to be the “bad guys”.

Is it any wonder that, if not listened to and not believed, and if more is done to protect the offenders than the abused, the children become increasingly reluctant to tell?

After the first children had come forward and not been listened to or believed, may not they have said to others, “There’s no point in saying. They already know. They won’t do anything about it?”

Or what about the parents who were ostracised and made out to be the bad ones?

Doesn’t it make the message very clear – you are powerless. Your voice won’t be heard. Your opinion doesn’t matter.

Carry this message over into countless other situations and you have a population who is afraid to speak up, fearing the disdain of reproach, the embarrassment of being unvalued and the helplessness of one’s message being unheard.

How many times have you felt you must remain silent for fear of ridicule, rejection, or worse?

How many opportunities for creating a positive change have been missed because the task seemed insurmountable or the personal repercussions too unpleasant?

When have you stepped up and made that change happen because you were not afraid to speak up or speak out when faced with an issue you felt strongly about?

What changes can we make to empower children (and adults) everywhere?

By the way, in that article on the Scholastic website, it is reported that Eric Carle believes that “the most important part of developing a book . . .is working with editors to revise it.”

Would it make any difference to the magic of The Very Hungry Caterpillar if, after all these years, Eric Carle rewrote a corrected version with a butterfly emerging triumphantly from a chrysalis?

What would that act tell all the countless children who have written to tell Eric about his mistake, and the many others who wanted to but were told there was no point?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Please share your thoughts.

Related posts:

Searching for meaning in a picture book — Part A

Searching for purpose in a picture book – Part B

Searching for truth in a picture book – Part C

Finding power in a picture book – the main event