Tag Archives: Carrot Ranch

Art Class 101 - Portrait Painting

Art Class 101—Portrait Painting

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - painting

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!

For my response to the challenge, I have written a story that begins with an innovation on a true-life story but finishes with something much more common. Potential is not always recognised, even when visible, in children and students. I hope you enjoy it.

Art Class 101—Portrait Painting

The task completed, he took a fresh sheet of paper and sketched the teacher with an enormous warty chin and hair sprouting like an unravelling steel wool pad. He added her name and then, with a flourish, his. He nudged his neighbour whose stifled guffaws drew attention. When the teacher investigated, only the task was visible.

Behind the papers, the portrait remained forgotten at class end. Until discovered by the teacher.

Later, having no satisfactory explanation, he was sentenced to weeks of lunchtimes painting bricks.

Years later, when he was a famous cartoonist, they delighted in telling his story.

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Ice on the rocks flash fiction

Ice on the rocks

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills discusses her daughter’s existence in the treeless landscape in the northernmost town in the world, Longyearbyen on Svalbard, Norway.

This video provides an introduction to Longyearbyen.

In her post, Charli warns that “The reality of climate change impacted the polar regions of our world first. Think of the Arctic as our canary in the coal mine … To say the Arctic is the canary means that our planet is changing so rapidly that species are dying.”

Evidence of those changes is discussed in this recent National Geographic article

and, while this video shows the changes to the Arctic sea ice from 1979 – 2018,

(Read information accompanying this video here.)

this article shows the situation updated to April 2019.

With the effects so evident, it is hard to fathom that there are still some who deny the climate is changing. To what end?

The phrase ‘on the rocks’ often refers to a beverage, usually alcoholic, served undiluted on ice. It can also refer to something in difficulty or failing. It was a combination of these meanings, minus the alcohol, I used in the title.

Charli Mills' flash fiction challenge Ice

Charli’s discussion introduced her flash fiction challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story without ice. It can be a world without ice or a summer camp that runs out of cubes for lemonade. What does the lack mean to the story? Go where the prompt leads!

I took it a little differently.

Let’s Hear it for Ice

A world without ice —

That made me think tw—

Two times.

 

A world without ice

Would not be so n—

Pleasant.

 

We couldn’t play games

With a six-sided d—

Numbered cube.

 

We couldn’t have fries

With a side-serve of r—

Food grain.

 

Our food would be bland

Without pinches of sp—

Flavour.

 

A world without ice

Where rule is by v—

Badness.

 

A world without ice

We’d all pay the pr—

Cost.

 

A world without ice

I’d say in a tr—

Moment.

 

A world without ice

I’d even say thr—

Three times

 

Would never

Could never

Be anything nice!

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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.

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Create the possibilities

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - exhaustion

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can you make art of exhaustion? Go where the prompt leads!

Feeling a little overwhelmed with extra demands on my time over the past few of months, coupled with a recent battle with the flu, I didn’t know if I could muster enough energy to respond this time. But when this blog’s tagline includes the words ‘Create the possibilities’, I thought I should give it a go. I hope you like my response.

Exhausted possibilities

Jolted awake when the bus reached the terminal, they grabbed their belongings and stumbled out. The driver shrugged when asked about accommodation.

‘NO VACANCY’ signs flashed along narrow streets. ‘NOT WELCOME’ lists accompanied the few with vacancies.

Trudging back to the terminal, hoping for seclusion, a ‘VACANCY’ appeared where none before. An old man bade them enter, waved away their money and installed them comfortably.

“Thank you. Thank you,” they bowed, and collapsed into sleep.

In the morning, they were alone. A note lay on the table:

When you think you have exhausted all possibilities, there is always more.”

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flash fiction rainbow futures

A rainbow of opportunities

The classrooms of today are filled with children from a diversity of backgrounds and with a multiplicity of perspectives. The futures of those children are filled with opportunities that were unimaginable when I was a child and possibly even now. The world’s landscape — physical, political and social — is changing rapidly. Maybe we are not too far away from finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Could our ‘wealth’ be bound up in acceptance of our diversity?

Charli Mill's flash fiction challenge - Gender fluidity

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch challenged writers this week to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about gender. It can be fixed or fluid. Explore the topic on your own terms and open your mind to possibilities and understanding. Go where the prompt leads! I thought I’d have a little play.

Rainbow futures

The children went around the circle telling what they’d be when they grew up: police officer, paramedic, teacher, doctor, prosecutor, influencer …

Laughter erupted when Rudii responded, “Mother.”

“You can’t be a mother,” taunted one.

“Can too.”

“But you don’t have, you know, boobies,” said another, glancing at the teacher.

“Dad said I can be anything I want,” retorted Rudii.

“But—”

The teacher shushed them and the circle continued, punctuated only by an occasional half-giggle or nudge.

A rainbow of opportunity awaits, Teacher smiled inwardly, contemplating the question he and his partner were processing: who would be Mom?

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Beach adventures and sea mist

Beach adventures and sea mist

Growing up near the beach

Beach adventures were a big part of my childhood. I spent many long days swimming, sunbaking and exploring with friends and siblings at the beach no more than 500 metres from home. Generally, the instruction was to be home by tea time so, on our long summer holidays, we could spend as much time on the beach as we liked.

It wasn’t the most beautiful of beaches. The sand was coarse and yellow and the shore rocky in places. The water was often filled with jellyfish and seaweed. The narrow beach was edged by tall red cliffs which prompted Captain James Cook to name the area Redcliffe when he passed by in 1770. But we loved it anyway.

There were huge cotton trees, as perfect for climbing as the red cliffs were for scaling, and a playground with swings and slides, many of which are no longer considered child-safe. But we survived.

We’d explore the rocks for sea life, avoiding the jellyfish and seaweed as best we could, both in and out of the water. We’d play in the water and on the sand and lie on our towels talking, laughing and dreaming of whatever we did as children back then.

Sun safety

It may sound idyllic and perhaps it was, though to us, it just was. Most of us are now paying for those long days at the beach with sun damaged skin. If anyone was aware of the dangers of being too long in the sun back then, we certainly weren’t. We considered a bad dose of sunburn as nothing more than inconvenient and we took turns to peel layers of skin off each other’s backs when the blisters burst.

Nowadays, my beach adventures are mostly confined to observations of sparkling white sands and perfect blue water from a shady deck with a cool drink in hand. However, I may venture out for a stroll in the late afternoon when the sun’s light has dimmed, leaving the water and sky to meet and greet in shades of pink and lilac.

Our Australian culture has a love-hate relationship with the beach and sunshine. At the first hint of warm summer weather, we’ll be told it’s a great day for the beach and we’ll be presented with images of beaches crowded with sunbathers. On another occasion, we’ll be advised to stay out of the sun and avoid the damage to our skin. Queensland is, after all, the skin cancer capital of the world. I’ve never figured out why we don’t get a more sensible approach that combines enjoyment with safety.

But let’s not dwell too long on the negatives. Hopefully now with better education and the availability of protective products, the younger generation will not be so nonchalant about time spent in the sun.

A beach excursion

A beach excursion, whether with school or family, presents as many opportunities for learning as it does for fun. There are phenomena to inspire wonder and stimulate curiosity, and countless questions to ask and answers to discover; for example,

Ten beach-inspired questions

  • What makes the waves?
  • Why does the tide come in and out?
  • How is sand made?
  • Where do the shells come from?
  • Why does the sand squeak when we walk on it?
  • What lives in the ocean?
  • Why should we take our rubbish home with us or put it in a bin?
  • How do fish breathe?
  • What made these tracks on the sand?
  • My sandcastle was here this morning. What happened to it?

Some answers can be discovered through investigation and exploration at the beach. Others require research.

Three fun beach activities that involve learning

Shells are not only fun to collect, they are great for sorting and counting, measuring and making, creating patterns and trading.

Fish might be fun to catch (for some); but they can also be identified, measured and weighed. Children can research the different types of fish and regulations for catching them.

Photographs provide a great record of beach adventures. Children can be encouraged to compile them and write a recount or report about the outing.

And of course, there are always wonderful books to read about the beach; such as:

Ten beach or ocean themed picture books

The Magic Beach by Alison Lester

Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker

Circle by Jeannie Baker

The Hidden Forest by Jeannie Baker

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft

Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft

Neptune’s Nursery by Kim Michelle Toft

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Beach-inspired flash fiction

Charli Mills's flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch

I was taken back to the beach this week by the challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does it create an environment for a story? It can set the stage or take the stage. Go where the prompt leads.

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Canned Sea Mist

No more than a hint of sea spray and she was flown back on wings of joy to carefree childhood days frolicking in the shallows, basking on golden sands, fossicking for hints of life in rockpools and amassing precious collections of shells and other treasures arranged for her pleasure by the tide. Lulled by a gentle breeze and waves whispering a heart’s rhythm, she dozed, uninterrupted by seagulls squawking, murmured conversations, hushed laughter, or the shuffle of approaching and receding footsteps. As the sun glowed bright above, she sighed her last, now and forever one with the sea’s mist.

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flash fiction about analysing in detail works of art

Meaning in each word

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads.

I had an idea I wanted to craft into a story. I’ve had a go. I’m not certain that it expresses quite what I was hoping, and certainly not as explicitly as I hoped. I had wanted it to stand alone, requiring no other explanation or padding and, while it fails, I’ve let it do just that.

Analyse the Detail

The artisan turned each piece to the light, this way and that, fitting and refitting, arranging and rearranging. Finally, it was done. Each piece necessary and perfectly positioned creating the whole— exquisite, harmonious, illuminating—not one greater nor outshining any other. It filled each open heart with hopes of dreams fulfilled.

Another sought to analyse its beauty, the power of its message to explore. He picked out all the pieces one by one and examined each in every detail. Too late he saw that, shattered and alone, not one shard revealed a secret. Only united did their meaning shine.

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