Category Archives: Blogging

Dishes #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the dishes. It can be the every-single-day activity, a precious collection, or any other interpretation of dishes as objects or activities. Who is stuck with the dishes and why? Go where the prompt leads!

I had a few ideas for this one but couldn’t seem to make any work until I went back to my two young girls Amy and Lucy and their favourite toys. I hope this one works. Enjoy!

The Garden Party

Ellie observed that the table looked delightful. Ollie said he’d never used such fine chinaware before. Teddy commented that the fairy cakes were scrumptious and iced tea was perfect for a warm day. Everyone agreed. Amy and Lucy beamed.

Afterwards, the guests offered to help with the dishes.

“No way,” said Amy. “You’re our guests.”

“We insist,” said Ellie. Swiping swiftly with her trunk, she launched the plates likes frisbees. Ollie deftly caught them and stacked them by the sink. Teddy frothed the soap suds and washed while Lucy dried.

“Many hands,” said Amy, putting cups and plates away.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Optimism, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Optimism #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that is optimistic. Feel free to explore optimism in all its forms from a positive mindset to toxic positivity. Is it a heartfelt story or a devious one? So much wiggle room for the optimistic writer. Go where the prompt leads!

In her article, Charli linked to another on Positive Psychology called Positive Mindset: How to Develop a Positive Mental Attitude.

The article includes this definition from Kendra Cherry at Very Well Mind:

“[P]ositive thinking actually means approaching life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It does not necessarily mean avoiding or ignoring the bad things; instead, it involves making the most of the potentially bad situations, trying to see the best in other people, and viewing yourself and your abilities in a positive light.”

The article goes on to list some of the traits of a positive mindset, many (most) of which we encourage in young children. These traits of a positive mindset are often the building blocks for success in life. They include:

Being optimistic and having a go rather than being defeatist and not even trying.

Accepting that things don’t always work out and being willing to learn from what eventuated.

Being strong and resilience when things don’t work out.

Being grateful for all the good things in life.

As a teacher of young children and an aspiring picture book author (I’m optimistic), I know that things don’t always work out as I’d hoped, but I am resilient and never give up, being grateful for the people and opportunities I have in my life.

As both teacher and writer, I always try to respond to Charli’s prompts with children in mind, either as subject or audience or both. This is my optimistic story. I hope you enjoy it.

Building Blocks

Clare’s tower was almost the tallest she’d ever made. One more block would do it.

Harry accidentally backed into it and sent blocks flying.

“Sorry,” said Harry.

“It’s okay. I can build it again. Wanna help?”

“Sure.”

“We need a bigger base. That one was getting wobbly anyway.”

“Let’s go as high as the roof,” said Harry.

They carefully placed the blocks and soon had to stretch on tiptoes.

Clare stood on a chair. Harry passed the blocks.

“We’re outa blocks,” said Harry. “It won’t reach the roof.”

“Let’s build on the table,” said Clare. “It’ll reach the sky!”

Thank you blog post

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Lady Shadows, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

A Lady Shadow #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a lady shadow. Who is this person and why do they lurk in the shadows. What is the tone and setting for your story? Go where the prompt leads!

I pondered how I could make a connection between children and a lady shadow without sinister overtones that seemed to crawl out from the dark with every beginning. I finally decided to write about the fun that children have playing chase with their shadows, knowing that they can never catch their own. I hope you enjoy it.

Chasing Shadows

Unable to catch their own shadows that stretched across the sand, they jumped on each other’s then dashed for safety in the tumbling waves. As they dived and splashed, the playful wind captured their laughter and carried it far.

Dragging their shadows up compacted wet sand, they compared footprints that waves would soon erase. Where it met dry, another’s shadow immobilised them as might a barbed-wire fence. They cast their eyes along the lady shadow’s length, then squinted upward at the face, obscure and unreadable, haloed by the setting sun.

“It’s time to go,” said mum.

“Coming,” they chorused.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Rabbits, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Rabbits #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes rabbits. Is it a family? A strange planet? Some crazy bunny person’s pets? Who are they and what are they doing? Go where the prompt leads!

I immediately thought of the rabbit holes that many find themselves in when conducting an internet search. I wondered how the rabbits might feel with all those unwelcome intruders, so that’s where I went with my story. I’m not sure if it works or not.

In the Rabbit Hole

Edward completed every form, followed all protocols, even smiled sweetly at bully boss bunny; but his request for leave was denied.

“When numbers ease,” his supervisor promised.

“If ever,” muttered Edward. The monotony was as overwhelming as the numbers that increased exponentially. Who said rabbits multiplied quickly? If only they’d find another burrow to tumble into.

 “Next!”

Edward recorded the unremarkably similar responses without enthusiasm.

“What brought you here? Where did you begin? Did you find what you wanted? What do you want now?”

“Out of this rabbit hole.”

No more than I. Close all tabs. Start over. Next!”

And while on the subject of rabbits, I was pleased to see the prompt’s relevance to Chinese New Year celebrations which begin on January 22nd. In the Chinese Zodiac, this year is the Year of the Rabbit. My daughter and my granddaughter (son’s daughter) are Rabbits, having been born in previous Years of the Rabbit.

The Chinese Zodiac repeats in a cycle of twelve animal years. Unrelated to her Chinese animal year, when she was little, my daughter loved rabbits and had quite a collection of rabbit ornaments and toys. She would have loved a pet bunny, but they are not permitted in Queensland as rabbits are an imported species that has been quite destructive to native wildlife and agriculture.

When the suggestion was made to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby (to raise awareness of the bilby’s vulnerability), my daughter was adamant that it should remain the Bunny. She refused to acknowledge the bilby at all. Fortunately, her heart softened towards bilbies as she got older and became more concerned about the conservation of the species rather than its role at Easter.

Another interesting connection is that, in Chinese culture, rabbits represent the moon and stories are told about the rabbit in the moon rather than the man in the moon as Westerners often tell. Having heard the story, I am always fascinated to see the rabbit in the moon and consider it more recognisable than the man. Have a look next time you’re out on a bright night and let me know what you think.

If you wish to know more about Chinese New Year, please check out a wonderful resource that fellow blogger Mabel Kwong wrote with me a few years ago. It’s on the readilearn website and is free to access. It’s called Let’s read about Chinese New Year.

If you haven’t already met Mabel, then I suggest you pop over to her eponymous blog Mabel Kwong and have a read. Mabel explores her experience of being Asian and living in multicultural Australia. I learn so much from her about how to treat others with respect. Her posts are always a delight to read and incredibly thought-provoking.

Now that’s a little rabbit hole I’ve drawn you into.

As you know, I’ve been having a bit of a break, a sabbatical, from blogging, as I try to get my head into gear for 2023. Last week, Charli’s prompt was to write about a sabbatical. I didn’t join in, but many others did. You can read their stories at the Carrot Ranch here.

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Wishing you a Happy and Safe 2022/23 Holiday Period – #readilearn

As schools in Australia close for our long Christmas/summer holidays, I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy and safe holiday period, however you celebrate it. May moments of joy be abundant and opportunities to relax and refresh plentiful. Most of all, may you find time for those things that bring you most enjoyment. Life is, after all, meant to be fun.

I will be taking a blogging break for a few weeks to rest and recuperate after a very busy year. I’m hopeful that, early in 2023, we’ll have a fresher new-look website (after it’s had a chance to rest and rejuvenate too).

With best wishes for the Christmas period and wondrous possibilities in 2023.

Norah

Continue reading: Wishing you a Happy and Safe 2022/23 Holiday Period – readilearn

Not My Monkeys. Not My Circus. #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the saying, “not my monkeys, not my circus”. What is the situation that would spawn that aphorism? Have fun with setting and characters! Go where the prompt leads!

This saying was unfamiliar to me, as it was for many of the other writers. It means that it’s not my business, not my responsibility.

For my response, I’ve drawn upon the mountains of lost property that are collected during the school year, items for which children didn’t take responsibility at the time and may not always recognise as theirs when it comes time to claim them.

At the last school I was at, we had one lovely mother who would collect all the items, take them home and wash them, bag those that were named and return them to the owners, and make the others available for collection. She was an angel, and many parents were indebted to her for this very generous and money-saving service. Unclaimed items may have been used as ‘spares’ or sold as second-hand in the uniform shop.

My story is entirely fiction. I hope you enjoy it.

Not My Monkeys. Not My Circus.

Students, instructed to reclaim missing items, trooped past tables overflowing with lost property. Anything not claimed would be discarded.

Henry couldn’t remember what he had to find.

“Not my hat. Not my jacket,” he said. “Not my shoe, not my sock. Not my undies. Pee-ew! Not my lunchbox. Not my water bottle. Not my monkeys. Not my circus.”

“Wait. Monkeys? Circus?”

Henry took the Barrel of Monkeys and the painting.

“Look,” said one helper, amused. “Henry’s mum told him to find three hats, two pairs of shoes and a jacket.”

“Not my monkey. Not my circus,” said the other.

Thank you blog post

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Oh My! including mine, will be available to read at the Carrot Ranch as soon as the WordPress Happiness Engineers work out a technical glitch for Charli. (Good luck, Charli!)

Oh My! #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “Oh, my.” It can be used in storytelling or dialog. What is the cause for such a response? Have fun with this one! Go where the prompt leads!

I’ve written another episode for Amy and Lucy. I hope you enjoy it.

Amy, Lucy and the Cookies

“I’m home!” Dad crouched at the door; arms outstretched ready to cuddle his girls.

“I’m ho-ome!”

“Shh, in here, Dad,” Lucy whisper-called from the kitchen.

“Oh my,” said Dad, surveying open doors, packets spilling contents on counter tops and floor, bowls, dishes and spoons fighting for space in the sink, and two bright-eyed floury girls.

“What are you making?” he asked aloud. “Other than a mess?” inside his head. “Where’s Mum?”

“Resting. She’s got a headache,” explained Amy. “Chocolate cookies.”

“To make her feel better,” said Lucy. “Wanna help?”

“Can I lick the spoon?”

“Okay,” the girls giggled.

“O-kay!”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt A Story with a Lie, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

A Story with a Lie #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills was talking about family histories not always telling the truth. There are parts of my family’s history that may not be totally accurate too. There are different versions of some tales, and not just of events from different perspectives.

Last year when I wrote a brief book about her female ancestors for my granddaughter on her tenth birthday, I included a version of a story that my father related. When his only remaining sister read the account, she informed me that it was wrong. Somehow, she said, all the males of the family told my father’s version, but my aunt was sure she had the correct version.

My father said that my great grandmother Hannah was born in England and met her future husband George in England before emigrating to Australia. He said that George came to Australia as a paying passenger and that Hannah masqueraded as a cabin boy and worked her passage out. He said that George called her Jim so as to not give her secret away. They arrived in Brisbane in1891 and married on 11th June that year. Hannah gave birth to six children, two of whom died in infancy. Fortunately for me, one of the survivors was my grandmother.

According to my aunt, it was Hannah who paid her way out and George who worked as a cabin boy. I think. Perhaps I’d better check while I can and before I spread too many other lies.

As well as untruths, many families have skeletons that they like to keep locked in the cupboard. My family has a few of those too. When my mother’s brother was researching the family history, he discovered that one of our ancestors had been transported to Australia for a minor misdemeanour, as many were, such as stealing a loaf of bread. I can’t be sure. Both my mother and uncle were horrified and didn’t want to tell anyone, but somehow the word got out. It’s not so bad really. We found out that there’s a similar ancestor on my father’s side. Nowadays, it’s more acceptable to have a convict way back in the family tree than it was for previous generations. Most are no longer fazed by it.

When Charli challenged writer to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a lie. What is the lie? It can be subtle or blatant. Who tells the lie and why? Is it an unreliable narrator? Go where the prompt leads! how could I go past family lies and skeletons? I’m sticking with my two little girls again, sans their red car this time. I hope you enjoy it.

A Skeleton in the Cupboard

Lucy was opening and closing every cupboard in the house.

“What’re you doing?” Amy asked.

“Mum lied,” said Lucy.

“About what?”

“The skeleton.”

“What skeleton?”

The skeleton. Mum said Dad has a skeleton in the cupboard. I can’t find it.”

“You won’t find it.”

“Why not?”

“Cause it’s not a real skeleton.”

“Skeletons are so real. I’ve got one and you’ve got one. Everybody’s got one.”

“Not those sorts of skeletons.”

“Then what?”

“Secrets.”

“Secrets?”

“Things they don’t want nobody else to know.”

“So, Mum did lie.”

Amy sighed. “Mum didn’t lie, but there’s no skeleton in the cupboard.”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Something Squeaky, excluding mine because I didn’t get it done in time, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Something Squeaky #99WordStories

Last week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something squeaky. What is squeaky and why? How does it move the story or disrupt a character? Listen, write, and go where the prompt leads!

I didn’t have time to write a story in time to be included in the collection, but I wanted to write one anyway. I’ve stayed with Lucy and Amy and their little red convertible as they play with their toys. I hope you enjoy it.

The Squeaky Wheel

“Shh! What’s that noise,” said Lucy.

Amy stopped the car. Everyone was quiet.

“I don’t hear anything,” said Amy.

The others agreed. Nothing.

They continued on their way.

“There it is again,” said Lucy.

Amy didn’t stop the car, but they all listened.

“I hear it,” said Monkey. “Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.”

“Eek!” screamed Ellie. “There’s a mouse in the car!”

“No, silly,” said Bunny. “It’s a squeaky wheel.”

“Just needs some grease,” said Amy. “Everybody out!”

They all piled out. Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to grease the wheel, then they were on their way again.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Wheels Keep on Turning, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Wheels Keep Turning #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about how the wheels keep turning. Are the wheels tangible or metaphorical? Go where the prompt leads!

My first thoughts went to the Rawhide theme song with its ‘Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’’ refrain.

Of course, they’re not wheels that are rollin’, so that song wouldn’t do. But how wonderful to see these actors, who looked so old when I was a child, look not much more than children to me now.

My next thought was of Proud Mary and her big wheel that kept turning.

But that wouldn’t do either.

I wanted to return to my girls Amy and Lucy and their little red convertible from previous stories but couldn’t decide how. You could say the wheels were turning but I wasn’t getting anywhere. Fortunately, I thought of a third song about wheels.

That was more my style and this is my story. I hope you enjoy it.

The Wheels of the Limo

“The wheels of the bus go —. No, wait. The wheels of the limo go round and round, round and round —”

“Why’d ya stop?”

“I didn’t stop. We’re stuck.”

“But the wheels are turning.”

“Must be something underneath. Okay. Everybody out.”

Teddy, Ollie, Ellie, Monkey and Bunny piled out. They watched as Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to check underneath.

“There’s a rock,” said Lucy. She reached under, withdrew the culprit, and hurled it into the shrubs.

“All aboard!” she called.

The passengers settled back in, and everyone sang, “The wheels of the limo …”

Thank you blog post

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Bones, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.