Tag Archives: Carrot Ranch flash fiction

A Kingdom for a Koala flash fiction

A Kingdom for a Koala

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom. You can create a character out of Norah’s koala and give it a Vermont adventure. Or you can make up a story however you want! Can you pull off a BOTS (based on a true story)? Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Koala

Since the prompt was prompted by a tiny koala I’d sent as my proxy at the inaugural Carrot Ranch Writers’ Refuge in Vermont, I thought I’d better join in. And since Charli is busy out of State this week, she’s given us two weeks in which to respond so there’s still plenty of time to join in with your own koala story if you wish.

Here’s mine. I hope you like it.

A Kingdom for a Koala

“Bring me a koala!” The king bellowed, sending servants scuttling.

His zoo was complete with all, except a koala. The omission stoked his anger daily. He wouldn’t accept that his destruction of eucalypt forests had decimated their population.

From the shadows came a tiny voice. “What will you give for a koala?”

“Anything!”

“Your kingdom?’

“Yes, my kingdom! Anything! Just get me a koala.”

“I have a koala. First, your sceptre and your kingdom.”

Blinded by rage and desire, the king complied.

The koala removed her mask. The king gloated pre-emptively.

“Throw him into the dungeon. Free the animals!”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

writing historical fiction

In search of history

When we introduce young children to history, we usually begin with the history of their own families and then extend the circle outward through space and time to other families, other localities and other times.

It was for this purpose that I wrote the Family Traditions and Celebrations history unit for readilearn.

As children love to hear stories about themselves and their families, there’s no better way to introduce them to history. Sadly, some of us miss the opportunity of learning our family’s history until it’s too late.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Keweenaw microhistory

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using your choice of microhistory from Keweenaw National Historic Park. Be historical, funny, or flagrantly fictional. Choose a character, time, place, or event. Be as creative as you want in telling the story.

So, our task was to use one of the histories from the Keweenaw National Historic Park website as the basis for a story to be shared in a public reading at Fort Wilkins on 25 July. I’ve interpreted the task to be one of filling the historical gaps with fiction.

The history I chose as the beginning of my story is that of Mary Metesh Plutt, an immigrant from Yugoslavia. Mary had eight children before the age of 38, seven of whom lived until adulthood. The second youngest was Agnes who married at age 20, had one child, and died at age 24. Agnes and her husband did not live in the Keweenaw. They lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When Agnes died, her husband returned her to the Keweenaw to be buried. No further details of the husband or the child were supplied.

My story attempts to fill in a little of that gap, taking up the story of Agnes’s daughter Nette towards the end of her own life. It was assisted by the information and photographs supplied by the Houghton County Historical Society about the Traprock Valley Schoolhouse. Although this isn’t the schoolhouse that Agnes would have attended, it is of the same era in which she would have attended school.

I hope you like my story.

In Search of History

Sorting through her father’s papers, Nette discovered secrets never revealed in life. “Mum” wasn’t mum. Her birth mother died when she was two. Although obviously named Antonette Mary after her maternal grandparents, their stories had never been told. Now, she needed to know. In the old schoolhouse, she traced her mother’s name—Agnes—so long ago carved into the wooden desktop. She’d felt no connection at the cemetery, nor reading the family’s Census record. But when the school bell rang, she shivered as the spirits of children past, her mother, aunts and uncles, joined her for Keweenaw history lessons.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Waiting for life to begin

Waiting for life to begin

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge waiting

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about having to wait. Who is waiting and what for? Think about how the wait impacts the character or the story. Go where the prompt leads!

There are many things in life for which we wait. Children wait for the holidays, for birthdays, for Christmas and Easter. We often say that much of the joy is in the anticipation. But if we are always focused up what’s up ahead, we may miss the pleasures of the present moment. So, while I’ve gone dark in my response to Charli’s prompt, it is meant simply as a reminder to not let the everyday pleasures of the here and now slip by unnoticed. Enjoy life! We never know what lies ahead.

The Waiting Game

Her entire life, she’d waited:

To be old enough, big enough—

To have left school, completed her degree—

To have enough money—

Until after the wedding—

For the birth of her children

For her children to have started school, left school, left home—

When would be the time, when she could choose what she wanted, for her, no conditions imposed?

In the waiting room, she contemplated these things and delivered her own answer—never! Death was knocking, refusing to wait. She’d hoped to live before she died but life got in the way.  Ah well, the waiting was over.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

News Splash

News Splash

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge Splash

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that makes a big splash. It can be fluid, or you can play with the idiom (to make a big splash is to do or say something that becomes unforgettable). Go where the prompt leads!

This is where it finally led me. I hope you enjoy it.

News Splash

It was splashed all over the front page. There was no hiding it now. Mum and Dad wouldn’t be pleased. They’d cautioned her to be careful. Time. After. Time. And she was. She thought she could handle it. She didn’t need them watching over her every move. She had to be independent sometime. But this front-page catastrophe would be a setback. How could she minimise the damage?

When they came in, Jess faced them bravely.

They looked from her to the paper and back. Jess’s lip quivered. “Sorry.”

“Those headlines look somewhat juicy,” smirked Dad. “More juice?”

Jess nodded.

Spilled juice

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

Would you like strawberries with that

Would you like strawberries with that?

Tomorrow, 5 June is World Environment Day. The theme for this year is Air Pollution. According to the World Environment Day website, nine out of ten people breathe polluted air — a frightening statistic. While the most polluted cities may be far from where we live and the effect of our individual actions may seem negligible, the site recommends ways in which we can help reduce air pollution. I’m sure you already do many of these:

  • Use public transport or car sharing, cycle or walk
  • Switch to a hybrid or electric vehicle and request electric taxis
  • Turn off the car engine when stationary
  • Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy to help cut methane emissions
  • Compost organic food items and recycle non-organic trash
  • Switch to high-efficiency home heating systems and equipment
  • Save energy: turn off lights and electronics when not in use
  • Choose non-toxic paints and furnishings

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge strawberries and mint

While not specific to this year’s theme, I thought the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week was a perfect match for World Environment Day. Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes strawberries and mint. The combination evokes color contrast, scents, and taste. Where will the combination take you? Go where the prompt leads!

Growing plants, particularly those that produce edible delicacies, including strawberries and mint, is a great way of introducing children to the importance of caring for the environment. Both strawberries and mint are easy to grow and require little space.

The rewards are not only in the eating. Children can learn where their food comes from and understand that it doesn’t just appear in plastic packaging on supermarket shelves or in the fridge at home. In caring for a garden, they learn about what plants need and the importance of caring for the soil. They learn to be patient, waiting for the plants to grow and to be ready to harvest. Understandings learned from small-scale gardening, even in a pot, can be applied to caring for the environment on a larger scale. It is never too soon, or too late, to learn.

In my response to Charli’s prompt, I have considered gardening as nourishment for the mind and spirit as well as the body. Because strawberries are a favourite with both my grandchildren who would probably eat strawberries anywhere and anytime, I settled on a story featuring a grandmother and grandchild. Any similarity to this grandmother is non-existent. I hope you enjoy it anyway.

(I included some favourite family strawberry desserts in this post.)

Grandma’s Garden

Jess blew kisses to Mum, then raced Grandma into the garden. She pulled on her boots and gloves and readied her digging fork. Emulating Grandma, she soaked up explanations of magic combinations that helped plants grow. At the strawberry patch, they filled baskets with ripe red berries. On the way inside, Grandma clipped sprigs of mint.

They dipped strawberries in chocolate and garnished them with mint.

“For Jess?”

“For Mum.

“Birfday?”

“Just —”

Jess inspected the chocolate bowl. “All gone.”

“Stawbwee?” said Jess, pointing to the remaining few.

“For Jess,” smiled Grandma.

Jess munched strawberries and Grandma chewed mint.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

What lives in trees?

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - trees

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes in search of trees. It can be one particular tree, a grove, woods, or forest. What makes the tree worth seeking? Go where the prompt leads!

This week, we’re observing a science lesson with a group of 5 – 6-year-olds in search of knowledge about life in trees.

What lives in trees?

The teacher displayed photographs of trees.

“We’ve been learning about where animals live. Today, we’ll list animals that live in trees.”

Hands shot up, bursting to contribute.

The teacher wrote:

possums, koalas, beetles, snakes, birds …

Amir’s English was developing but his classmates were puzzled when he said what sounded like ‘goat’.

“Repeat,” encouraged the teacher.

“Goat.”

When asked, Amir drew a tree with a recognisable goat standing in it.

“Not story,” smiled the teacher. “Real.”

Amir nodded and pointed to the laptop. “Google.”

A quick search confirmed it.

Everyone cheered. Amir added to their knowledge tree that day.

……….

Many of you who have travelled may have seen the tree goats of Morocco. However, I wasn’t aware of them until, a couple of weeks ago, a photo popped up on my desktop. Intrigued, I had to find out more. A search for the goated tree began.

I discovered that the photo wasn’t fake, as I had first thought. The tree is the Argania tree from which we get Argan oil, and the goats like to eat its fruit.

Although more hygienic methods are now often employed, the oil used to be pressed from the seeds which were passed in the goats’ poop after the fruit had been eaten. I’m certain that 5 and 6-year-old children would love this titbit of information.

If you are interested, here are some links to help you learn more about the tree goats:

The Tree Goats of Morocco

The Story Behind Bizarre Tree-Climbing Goats of Morocco

Moroccan argan oil: the ‘gold’ that grows on trees

However, it seems, as with so many things, some people thought they could make extra money from tourists wanting to photograph goats in trees. Sadly, it is not only the goats that suffer from these unkind practices. The trees suffer too and, according to one article I read, “are in danger and the forest is listed by UNESCO as an International Biosphere Reserve.”

Iconic ‘tree-climbing’ goats of Morocco revealed to be a scam

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

Can you fool the tooth fairy

Can you fool the tooth fairy?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills discussed important things in life including attitudes to aging. She challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older. It can be humorous, dark or poignant. It can be true or total fiction. It can be fine wine or an old fossil. Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - ageing

Most of my work as a teacher has been with children who are experiencing one of the earliest physical signs of growing older — losing their baby teeth and growing adult teeth. The loss of these teeth is usually accompanied by great excitement, especially with the expectation that the tooth may be replaced with a coin by the tooth fairy.

lost tooth - Artie Feb 13 16

I previously wrote about the world’s diversity of traditions dealing with the loss of children’s baby teeth in A tooth for a tooth. That post also contains a flash story involving some gappy children’s smiles that help to cross barriers.

When I was growing up, many of my grandparents’ generation had false teeth or dentures that they left in a glass of water by their bedside when they were sleeping. With improved dental hygiene over the years, those numbers are now decreasing. This aspect of growing older — losing teeth whether at six or sixty-six — made me wonder if the tooth fairy might be fooled by false teeth and whether a creative child may have once tried to raise money that way.

Great-Grandmama’s Teeth

The sound like freight trains roaring through a tunnel assured Billy Great-Grandmama was asleep. He turned the doorknob ever so slowly, pushed the door gently and slipped into the darkened room. A chink of light bounced off the glass at the bedside. He daren’t breathe as he tiptoed over. Three quick whistles and he froze. The cavern with wibbly wobbly edges stretched wide. Would she wake? No, but better be quick. He lowered his fingers into the glass and withdrew his prize. All that was left was to fool the fairies and he’d buy his Mum that birthday cake.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.