Apple Strudel – Carrot Ranch

I gave my brother peeled apple slices. He placed them one-by-one on the strudel dough that we older ones helped stretch across a cloth on our dinner table. He put some in his mouth. Then came the raisins to scatter on the dough. When it was finished I held him so he could watch our mother lift the cloth underneath the strudel, roll it into a long, thick pastry that fit on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven.

We made many strudels for Christmas and everyone helped.

I’ve never had a dessert that tasted so good.

Linked to Carrot Ranch where Charli Mills offers the theme of family traditions.

Also linked to Crystal Grimes’ Holiday Blogging Party.

Skokie Lagoons

Dropped – Friday Fictioneers


Clara remembered how concerned she was when she lost her hair band. She asked her father to find it. He did.

That was Clara’s earliest memory of him, and a pleasant one, but others were painful. With a rebellious daughter of her own she traded positions with her father. Clara, too, would have searched the streets for any hair band her daughter dropped, but her daughter no longer accepted assistance from her.

That may be what a memorial service is good for.  It gets regrets out in the open and breaks habits one wished had been broken long ago.

Linked to Friday Fictioneers where Rochelle Wisoff-Fields offers C. E. Ayer’s photo as a prompt for stories of 100 words or less.

Beam – Six Sentence Story

The open beams joined the walls showing the ceiling and the loft where they slept. These beams pressed low enough that Ben could reach up and touch them in their cabin in the Maine woods.

This morning like those beams his spirit pressed in on him, but Ben had no time for moody temptations. Toward evening as he removed his boots and outer coverings he felt a breeze of consolation. He knew that consolation would come if he were faithful which he was.

Rushing to him he lifted his three-year old son and smiled watching his wife add decorations to their small Christmas tree.

Linked to Six Sentence Stories where Denise offers the prompt word “beam”.

Also linked to Crystal Grimes’ Holiday Blog Party.

Path With Wood and Brick
GirlieOnTheEdge Denise Farley's six-sentence-stories icon
GirlieOnTheEdge Denise Farley’s six-sentence-stories icon

Oasis – Six Sentence Story

Jim opened the certified package from his friend, Steve, whom he had not seen in fifty years. There was a letter and a copy of The Imitation of Christ that Jim gave Steve decades ago. Steve saw the book while sorting through boxes and decided to return it after finding Jim’s address.

A few months before receiving the package Jim wondered how his life veered off course getting lost in a moral dessert. How did he get from being a teenager who could attend Mass with joy to become an old man who barely had a clue?

Jim cautiously opened the worn book and began reading smelling the fresh air of an oasis amidst its aging pages.

Linked to Six Sentence Stories where Denise offers the prompt “oasis”.

Old Bench
GirlieOnTheEdge Denise Farley's six-sentence-stories icon
GirlieOnTheEdge Denise Farley’s six-sentence-stories icon

Cabin – Friday Fictioneers

Photo by Sarah Potter as Prompt for Friday Fictioneers

Looking at the shadow of its chimney I remembered the cabin full of mosquitoes. Mr. McGregor told me they couldn’t get into the bedroom. There was a shower, a woodstove, and a bed. I would only be there a few weeks. Given the bear warnings it would be better than my tent.

Incidentally, there was also a ghost that rattled stuff, but so did the wind.

When I left I told Mr. McGregor about the ghost. He apologized. Normally he wouldn’t have rented the cabin, but I seemed like the kind of guy who wouldn’t mind Megan. I didn’t.

Linked to Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers.

Sunday Walk 16

Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

Isaiah 59:7-8 King James Version (cited by Mario Murillo, WHAT IF THE AMERICAN CHURCH DOES NOT REPENT?, Mario Murillo Ministries, November 11, 2020)
Leafless Trees in Morning Sun

Wax – Six Sentence Story

The wax from a single candle dripped onto the cupcake.  Jim let the candle flatten burning itself out in silence.  After removing the wax he stood in front of his wife Mary’s grave and ate the cake.  

Jim didn’t expect to be here given his own health conditions, but he promised Mary he’d come back yearly as long as he could with a cake and candles marking her “birthday into Heaven”.

Jim’s final cake had seven candles on it. It was made by friends from their small church who pushed Jim in his wheelchair to the gravesite and then celebrated Mary’s birthday with him.

Linked to Six Sentence Stories where Denise offers the prompt word “wax”.

Through the Branches
GirlieOnTheEdge Denise Farley's six-sentence-stories icon
GirlieOnTheEdge Denise Farley’s six-sentence-stories icon

Avocado Toast – Carrot Ranch Story

For years Bill enjoyed beer, pizza and ice-cream. When diagnosed with an autoimmune disease he changed his diet.

Someone told him to stop drinking beer. He stopped. Someone suggested avocado toast. What’s that?  He was told it’s obvious what that is. So he tried it. Someone said to stop eating pizza. Is that because of the wheat? Yes. There goes the toast.

Bill’s weight sank to normal and he felt better. He noticed he was spending less on food than before. Thankfully no one told him to stop eating avocados, but then he no longer asked them for advice.

Linked to the Carrot Ranch November 12 Flash Fiction Challenge where Charli Mills offers the theme of “avocado toast”.

A very short story of mine, “Friday the 13th”, appeared in Whispers and Echoes. I am grateful to the editor Sammi Cox for accepting it.

Wide Lake Michigan

Spring Weather

This memoire recently appeared in the Prairie Writers Guild 2020 anthology, From the Edge of the Prairie. I am grateful to Connie Kingman for accepting it and for the editorial comments from John D. Groppe. This anthology is not readily available and so I am reprinting it here since I still own the copyright.

I was twelve in 1963 living on a farm with my family in Newton County.  My brother, two sisters and I were used to severe thunderstorms in the spring.  Our two youngest brothers were likely too small to realize the dangers.  Each spring I wondered how bad it would get and hoped for the best.  I could sense how serious a storm was by the brightness of the lightning and how loud and how soon afterwards the thunder cracked.  Sometimes the power went out, but that power failure didn’t bother me as much as the thunder.  What really convinced me of the severity of a storm was whether Mom would light a votive candle near the small statues of Jesus and Mary.  I assumed she and Dad knew more than I did and Dad never discouraged any of those prayers.  I imagined he was praying as well as he watched the sky for signs of trouble.

The house was old.  It was set on cement blocks and shook in the wind.  There was a detached root cellar with a dirt floor about two feet below the surface of the surrounding flat farmland.  If it were any deeper, I suspect it could have reached the water table and at least seasonally flooded.  To keep it cool and further protect it Dad piled earth against its cement block walls.  At least once in my memory we used that root cellar as shelter from a storm.

Storms worth worrying about came from the west.  Looking west we could see fields and forests and vaguely in the distance a building from a neighbor’s farm perhaps over a quarter mile away.  To this day, I don’t know who that neighbor was, but I am sure Dad did.  Although there were closer neighbors along County Road 55 on the east side of the house running north and south, some of whom I did know, that distant building was the only one I could see from our farmhouse.

When such storms appeared Mom prayed with us, Dad listened to the radio and watched the skies as long as possible, and our uncle on Dad’s side if he were there might say something like, “If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.”  Once a storm came while we were having a birthday party.  The phone attached to the wall began to smoke with the smell of burning electrical insulation.  I remember another uncle swiftly lifting his foot and kicking the phone off the wall.  

Such were my childhood adventures of growing up in northwestern Indiana.  Although my dreams centered around fighting alongside Flash Gordon as we saved Dale Arden from Ming the Merciless, the real adventures happened on my knees with my brothers and sisters and Mom staying together in case we had to go to the root cellar.

The worst storm that I ever experienced occurred on April 17th 1963. 

I didn’t realize that anything was about to happen, but thinking back on it our parents must have been well alerted by weather reports from the radio.  They kept us all inside for some reason even though the afternoon appeared bright and calm.  Some of us likely wanted to go out. If you looked to the east, it was a nice day.  Then Dad rushed inside telling us to get into the car.  As the oldest I made sure my brother and sisters moved outside.  Mom carried our two youngest brothers.

As we got into the car the clear afternoon sky above us gave me a full view of that contrasting western sky.  A tornado, wider than I thought tornados could get, was heading toward the farm.  It was coming straight for us.  I imagined what might happen next.  First the barn and grain shed would be demolished, then the garage, then the chicken house and finally the farmhouse.  I supposed the cellar would go as well burying anyone seeking shelter in it.

Dad started the car and we rushed to the end of what seemed at the time a needlessly long lane.  Then he had to make a choice.  Should he go north or south on 55?  He chose south perhaps because the view had fewer trees to block his vision of the approaching winds.  We were half a mile away when Mom told him that the tornado had changed direction and was again heading toward us.  I remember seeing the side view of his face as he turned to look through her window to confirm this.  Whatever he was feeling he appeared alert and focused only on his next move.  He braked turning into the entrance of a field, put the car in reverse, backed out, shifted to first, shifted to second, shifted to third.  As we drove north I looked back to see the tornado cross 55.  

By the time we reached the farmhouse, which was still standing along with all of the other buildings thanks to the change in direction of the storm, hail had begun to fall.  Dad parked close to the porch of the house so we could quickly get inside.  He continued to watch the hail and the clearing sky for a few minutes longer. I don’t think he was concerned anymore, but he needed solitude to gain composure and express his gratitude.  

According to the newspaper report I found in our parents’ album sixteen people were hospitalized and the Gifford area in Jasper County was hit the hardest.  There were also a couple of photos of the tornado from that paper, but neither of them compared at all well with my memory of that wide, tall column of darkness full of twisting wind coming through the calm of a peaceful day across open fields toward us.


The American Swamp 7

15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Daniel 3:15-18 King James Version

I just finished listening to Sid Roth’s interview of Mario Murillo during this interim period when the outcome of the presidential election in the United States is uncertain. I agree with Murillo. I agree with both of them.

Sid Roth Interview of Mario Murillo
Leaf Covered Forest