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End 2020, Begin 2021

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For most of us this change can’t come soon enough, we are exhausted by 2020 and all that we collectively experienced. I have seen several people writing about their accomplishments in 2020 so the year does not seem like a total fail. Several lists have truly impressed me and I hope good habits learned become permanent in their lives and all the bad habits stay away.

So this leads to thoughts that maybe I missed the mark somehow this year. I do have a couple of positives to share but mine pale in comparison to most I have seen, not that there is a competition. I really learned to shop online, I was in the amateur category before and have advance to professional now. Not sure if that is good or bad.

I competed in several 5K’s from all across the country. My first time ever I was interested in actually running well, jogging in my case. I joined for the t-shirts mostly and the fact that this was a way to contribute to a variety of causes in a minimal involvement way. The t-shirts are so I can make a quilt for myself as a good reminder of this year. This is probably something I will continue as long as I don’t have to get into a huge crowd of people and can run the track at my local closed school.

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I also discovered a couple of online music venues to watch some of my favorite performers “live” performances. Some did live performances on FaceBook , but many of them were really not prepared for no performances or no paycheck anytime in the near future. To keep their families fed they did paid performances online. The cost was less than a regular show and you did not have to be in the town of the performance. It’s great and I am good with this as an option.

I also participated in several online classes to learn or improve skills in a variety of artsy techniques, this was fun but not like in person. Not sure how much of this I will continue.

One of my big disappointments was the lack of travel. I have done a fair amount of travel and had a number of trips already planned. I haven’t been near an airport in over a year. I sure miss seeing my friends in other cities and countries. I will wait until I no longer have to quarantine for 2 weeks upon reaching another city, most of my trips are only 1 or 2 days not for months.

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I agree with the thought of good riddance to 2020. I was at one point happy I stayed alive long enough to live in this year. Today I am happy I made it to December.

Happy New Year.

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Challenge # 48 Santa’s Stocking

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.  My personal goal is to do this for one full year. I am so glad this is almost over, it has now reached the tedious level and I have no plans for after it’s over. I know the writing group is getting together but I have not been brave enough to attend a gathering of that sort yet.

Question:

You have to stuff a stocking for Santa. What would you put in it and why?

Stuffing Santa’s Stocking

This sounds like a fun project and it’s not like I have to shop to fulfill a wish list, this can travel into realms of fun and fantasy. My first thought is the size of the stocking, we all have pretty stockings that look like they might even fit our feet. And they sometimes have our name on them or decorative elements meant just for us or generic. In some homes all the stockings match and in some cases they change each year to match the current decorations for the year.

My thoughts are that Santa might have a five foot long stocking. When one of my daughters was about 5 or 6 she colored a picture at Christmas for a local bank, and she won the prize of a 5 foot stocking filled with toys and candy. It has been more than 35 years since then and she very vividly remembers that moment. So maybe Santa will enjoy having a stocking filled for him, so here goes.

First, hot chocolate, because winter here is cold. The next four items are for the same reason, lip balm, ear muffs, warm gloves and wool socks. Healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruit to keep his strength up. Also can’t forget the carrots for the reindeer.

I would need to throw in a couple of things to keep his mind active as well, maybe a crossword puzzle book or sudoku puzzles. Many of us have learned the joys of jigsaw puzzles during quarantien and one of those would fit the stocking. I always enjoyed some kind of surprise item tucked into the toe of the stockings I have received or filled. I think he might enjoy a gift card for a massage after his hard day of work.

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99 word challenge Dusty trail

October 1, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that happens on the dusty trail. It can take place anywhere. Who is your character, where are they going, and why? Bonus points if they meet up with Kid and Pal from D. Avery’s Ranch Yarns and Saddle Up Saloon (they hit the trail so TUFF could take over the saloon). Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by October 6, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Dusty Trails

Sally walked along the trail covered with dust, no rain in almost two months along her beloved ridge of mountain.  This was where she came to clear her head from all the noise of her family of 11 siblings, all talking at the same time.  She knew that she could only have a few minutes before someone was looking for her.  What would she find here today? Would he still be here, was he feeling well enough to leave?

As she searched the trees and bushes there was no sign of him.  The eagle free from his trap was gone.

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Challenge # 47 Ravinia Concert

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.  My personal goal is to do this for one full year. I am so glad this is almost over, it has now reached the tedious level and I have no plans for after it’s over. I know the writing group is getting together but I have not been brave enough to attend a gathering of that sort yet.

Question:

Describe a perfect evening under the stars.

Ravinia Concert

The Chicago area has the benefit of a large variety of entertainment venues both indoor and outdoor. One of my absolute favorites is Ravinia in Highland Park, IL. Ravinia Park opened in 1904 and is the oldest music venue in the United States still in operation. It is a short train ride from Chicago which made it very popular as a place to escape from the city.

The setting is in the midst of a wooded area and has trees throughout the area. There is a large covered area with seats and a stage for the performances. There are other performance areas on the grounds but the pavilion is the main stage. Surrounding this area is a lot of lawn area and several special food service places.

Lawn seating is the least expensive seating and usually our favorite place. We would get there early to find a good space and then spread out the picnic type meal we brought along. Blankets were spread on the ground, candles at the ready for when the sun went down and the food was spread out and consumed. Not so much the fried chicken, potato salad and fruit bowl type of food.

This was where I introduced my daughters to some more “exotic” cheese other than those squares of American cheese. Flavor combinations they might not ordinarily try. I might have a little more of unique fruit in the salad combination and the crackers we used for our cheese were not saltines. This is the vibe on the lawn seating. Not unusual to have your neighbor borrow your wine bottle opener or a lighter to light their candles.

The music is as eclectic as the audience and this was an opportunity to introduce different genres to my family. From most of the lawn seating you are not able to see the performance . I can picture it now, a warm evening, good music playing in the background, laying down on the blanket on the lawn and just chilling and looking up at the stars in the sky instead.

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99 Word Challenge Snacks

September 24, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking. It can feature crunchy snacks or creamy one. Who is snacking on what and why? How can you make this a story? Go where the prompt leads!

September 24: Flash Fiction Challenge

Road Snacks Are Special

Snacks are serious.  No idea when they developed this attitude but they wear the crown well.  Road trip snacks are in special categories while still having the requirement of being bad junk food.  Healthy snacks don’t live in this world. Trip snacks require a salty brand of chips, chocolate that does not melt, caffeine drink and something with peanut butter.

In my vehicle this is a well proven larder that can sustain me for days.  In the past my excuse was mid-west winters that could be brutal.  Now this is just one of those grandfathered laws of my car.

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Challenge #45 It’s A Rap

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.  My personal goal is to do this for one full year. I am so glad this is almost over, it has now reached the tedious level and I have no plans for after it’s over. I know the writing group is getting together but I have not been brave enough to attend a gathering of that sort yet.

Question:

Write a short rap song about yourself. Make sure it rhymes.

I can tell you with all positive information this has never been on my radar. I am not sure if I have ever listened to a full rap song. I may have heard bits and pieces but that is it. So I did the only thing I could figure out, I cheated, well not really but I looked for some help. There is a thing on the internet that will help you write a rap song, you enter a few details and it spits out a song. Not a pretty one or even one that could be considered interesting but one that meets the requirements of the challenge. The only saving grace is that it really is short.

It’s A Rap

Hey all my crafty friends, it’s time,

It’s time, all my crafty friends

Beyond the wall of quilts life is defined

I think of quilting when I am in a Chicago state of mind.

In a Chicago state of mind,

What more could you ask for? The bright silk?

You complain about not enough time,

I gotta love it though somebody still speaks for the ilk

I’m rappin’ to the thread

And I’m gonna move your spread.

Beyond the wall of quilts, life is defined,

I’m in a Chicago state of mind.

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Challenge # 44 My California

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.  My personal goal is to do this for one full year.

Question:

When you think of California, what comes to mind?

My California

Right now, I think of California with a great deal of sadness because of the fires and the loss of lives and property and the uncertainty they are experiencing. It is such a dangerous situation for so many. The first time I went to California was about thirty years ago and I was flying out to visit a friend. It was also the first time I saw fires burning on the mountains as we were flying over and I was very amazed at the isolated areas in the state, coming from the Chicago area where almost every inch seems like it is taken up by some building.

It was a fabulous trip and as we drove around you could smell the ocean and feel the cool air as we got closer to it. Her home was up in the hills and you could watch the fog “walk” up the hill during the course of the day and then magically see the ocean below.

Years later I was living in San Francisco and loved the very cool evenings in the summer. I was frustrated, again because I am from the Midwest, the lack of weather reports on the local news because the weather didn’t change much from one day to the next. Day trips to smaller towns along the ocean or into the mountains.

Special trips to Santa Barbara for the Summer Solstice celebration, what fun. The magnificence of the Hearst Castle and my delight in fulfilling a bucket list item. I was able to help decorate and then watch the float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena. We were also lucky enough to have tickets to the Rose Bowl that year.

Overall I have fond memories of the places and friends I experienced in California. I know there are a lot of not so nice things also, but every place has both good and bad. I was lucky and think it would be nice for everyone to have an opportunity to live there at some point in their lives.

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Challenge #43 Age Improves

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.  My personal goal is to do this for one full year.

Question:

Name something that gets better with age.

Age Improves

First thing that pops into my mind is of course me! Well, friends and family may greatly disagree, but we all know people who improve with age. Dolly Parton, my all-time favorite just gets funnier and smarter as she ages. Cher, who defies age, just gets better and better. That’s just the first two who popped into my mind.

Cheese that just gets better and better is cheddar. We just purchased some 15 year old cheese that wound up costing at least 5 times more than any of the other cheeses purchased at that point and worth every cent.

Music in my mind in many cases is timeless. Operas performed and appreciated today that same as they were 100 years ago. I was a big fan of folk music from the 50’s and 60’s and I appreciate it just as much today as then and much of it seems as relevant today as it was then.

A pot of soup, stew, spaghetti sauce or chili always tastes better after a few days. If I have the time I will always prepare any of these items in advance of when I am planing on serving it. At least one day will certainly help the flavors to blend and deepen.

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First Flight

August 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a first flight. It can be anything or anyone that flies. What is significant about the first? Go where the prompt leads!

Here is my contribution for this week.

I’m taking the early first flight out this morning. Handy trick learned years ago that allow options if I miss it. DC is ugly hot this summer. Today’s assignment is to meet an old friend for lunch. Twenty years is a long time, I wonder how he’s changed. Will he know me? My job today is simply gathering information on what’s next years hot clothing color. How does a nice girl from Kansas get in the spy business? Should I have married that farmer? On my flight there is a familiar face in the next seat. “Hi I’m Dorothy.”

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Covid Safe Travel

Sorry, hope the title did not give you the false impression that a private jet was pulling up to your doorway to whisk you away on your dream vacation.  Since I am in the same time-out, stay-at-home, do not pass go, lock-down plus “your grounded” feeling most all of you are having, I want to give you a little hope.  Extreme-mini-vacay is what we are talking about here.

My first suggestion is a trip to the closest nursery or garden center.  If you have a garden space outside here is a chance to pick some new  plants to live in that space.  If you have no garden area, it’s just nice to go and look at what they have that is blooming.  Take a few photos or make a sketch or two of your favorite plants on display.

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Also, take your time.  This is not a place to race through to get the best bargains or sale items, enjoy the beauty, enjoy the fragrances, enjoy the sunshine or rain, enjoy just being out of your house.  Since most of these are outside it becomes a very safe place to be, but wear your mask while walking around.