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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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A Hare-brained Idea

Normally Michael had other band members along when he drove the Veterans Music Van to the VA. Today he needed silence to brainstorm. The Irish Dancers needed money so they could attend a competition. How could he get enough people involved so it wouldn’t be a hardship on any wallet? His mind wandered to his stomach. He hadn’t eaten breakfast. Food! What if they had a cook-off? Each group he belonged to could make the same meal using their own recipes. Voting for favorite dishes could be done with dollars. Cooks would get ribbons, and the dancers the money.

Written in response to Charli Mills September 9, 2021, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the cooking show. It can be any cooking show, real or imagined. Who is there? What happens? Make it fun or follow a disaster. Go where the prompt leads!

My Son the Sports Reporter

Off to graduate school

For sports journalism

Syracuse University duffel bag

Bright television lights

Require face make-up

Toiletry bag a must

Not just shaving gear

Also foundation cream and aloe cleansing cloths

Hair products and toothbrush

Prescription eye drops

Bag on the vanity

Means he’s visiting

Duffel has three sets of station call letters

Bigger city each move

Emmys multiply

Written in response to Colleen Chesebro Double Ennead poem challenge at Carrot Ranch Literary

https://carrotranch.com/2021/07/19/saddle-up-saloon-colleens-double-ennead-challenge-no-6/?c=83888#comment-83888

The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS! Punctuation and rhyme schemes are optional and up to the poet.

Spring On the Farm

Notice the outside temp

Turn off the furnace

Lift up the windows, let the fresh air blow through

Hear the geese honking by

Snow banks all but gone

The fat sheep are lambing

Kid goats bound about

Spindly leg foals stick close to their mama’s side

Pollywogs will soon be

Swimming in the pond

The robins have returned

Goldfinches yellow

The rooster struts around his harem of hens

The calves bleat loneliness

Tis spring on the farm

Announcing the WINNERS of the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

When the Rodeo came to town, Rough Writers from around the world answered the call. You came, you sat in the saddle, you rode the bull, and you joined the parade.

Most important, you were inspired by our wonderful friend, Sue Vincent. Sue has been battling terminal cancer, and we’re thrilled that she is around to see the winners (though I admit I cheated and let her know the top winner a little early). Participants were allowed and encouraged to donate to help Sue and her family, but we believe the photo she provided as the prompt was worthy of any prize. Her photo prompted 63 wonderful 99 word stories and 99 syllable poems; if the average picture is worth 1,000 words, then we can be certain her prompt is way above average!

The Sue Vincent Rodeo Challenge Prompt

When speaking with Sue following the contest, we learned that…

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Special Sue Vincent Collection

Many great stories written to honor Sue Vincent. Enjoy.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Stories in this collection honor fellow writer, Sue Vincent who has impacted the lives of many around the world through her stories and prompts. Life is a river of consciousness where writers dip their quills. Sue has provided us access.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

Dust of Life by FloridaBorne

We gather the dust of life, floating inside a watery womb.

We burst into a world too cold, light too bright, sounds too harsh, searching for sustenance.

Held in soft arms, comforted by a lullaby, we forget that once we floated in God’s arms, listening to…

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Remembering Alone

I wake way too early

Age defies long sleeps

Morning light glows over the small frozen pond

Trees and weeds glistening

I see from my room

Memories of thick ice

I long for my youth

When healthy muscles gladly shoveled away

Creating smooth patches

Enticing skate blades

Swishing among others

Speed, spills and laughter

Hearing happy sounds that no longer exist

Alone to remember

Silent tears falling

The inconvenient walking dead…  #COVID #cancer #carers

Take a minute to get to know Sue Vincent and why there is a Rodeo happening in her honor.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

image of cartoon angry bird injured Artwork by deviantART artist Scooterek

I am not a happy bunny, more of an angry bird, and I am going to say so, regardless of how much subtle and not-so-subtle pressure has been applied in various areas to encourage us all to be nice, obedient, quiet bunnies. Given the short space of time I apparently have left to live, my right to freedom of speech is one I feel I should exercise…and even the government encourages us to exercise, after all…

Some of you know the background to what I want to highlight and I apologise for repeating myself. For those who are not regular readers… let me fill you in on the story so far… and if I tell it in some detail, it is because unless you have been or know a carer, you are probably unaware of all that entails. And because, even here, I cannot give…

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The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

by H.R.R. Gorman

Here at the Carrot Ranch, we take the business of 99-word literary art seriously. Those who participate in the Ranch prompts or yearly Rodeo saddle up to TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) it out and train new Rough Riders as we go. Now, the Ranch is hosting a new event to sharpen minds, welcome new hands, and celebrate one of our own the best way we know how: our first ever Rodeo Classic.

In this Rodeo Classic, we’re here to celebrate a stalwart center of many blogging corners, Sue Vincent. Sue has variously contributed to the community here at the Carrot Ranch, through communication with many other bloggers, and run her own famous #writephoto weekly blog prompt. You can (and should!) follow her on her blogs, The Daily Echo and the shared blog France & Vincent. She has inspired us to become better writers and shown…

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Saddle Up Saloon; the Band Plays On

I have a by-line at the Carrot Ranch Saloon. Thank you to Jim Deascher for the wheelchair demonstration.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Saddle Up Saloon

Co-written by Susan Sleggs, Veteran Stories columnist here at Carrot Ranch and contributor to the Rochester Veterans Writing Group book, United in Service, United in Sacrifice.

“Kid! Are you up there in thet Poet-Tree? Git down from there!”

“Yer barkin’ up the write tree, Pal, but leave me alone. I’m a settin’ up here workin’ on ma standup material. We gotta have some kinda ennertainment  fer the folks this week.” 

“Yep, thet’s whut I wanted ta talk ta ya about. Kid, ya ever noticed they’s a lot a vets aroun’ here?”

“Duh, Pal, the Ranch is jist down the road. A course they’s vets aroun’. Like if one a the hosses gits sick. The vets come from the hoss-pital. Oh, gotta write that down.”

“No, Kid, vets.”

“Right, the doctors that come check on the cattle, give ‘em their im-moo-nizations. See what I did there? Oh, I…

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Saddle Up Saloon; Art Showin’

Meet some of the ladies I write with each week. We do more than writing.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Saddle Up Saloon

“Wow, Lit Kit Libation Slingin’ Librarian and new bartender at the Saddle Up Saloon, this art show is happening!”

“Really Kid? I can tell there’s no word limit here. Just call me Lit Kit already. But yes, the bar is busy.”

“Yep, Lit Kit, there’s sure  a mess a folks here ta show an’ see visual art work.”

“Heehee. Some a them make Shorty look tall. Look, there’s Ann Edall Robson. An’ who’s that sippin’ a tall glass a Sauvignon Blanc?”

“You two don’t get out much, do you? That’s author-illustrator Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. And she’s been the lead buccaneer captaining Friday Fictioneers for the past eight years. Look, I have to tend the bar. Go talk to Rochelle, she’s interesting.”

“Howdy ma’am. Welcome ta the Saddle Up. I’m Pal, this here’s Kid.”

“Yer a author-illustrator? Soun’s like a chicken-egg conundrum. Which comes first?”

“Kid!”

“It’s okay, Pal, it’s a…

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Service–Military or Otherwise

When you hear the word SERVICE, what flashes through your mind? Currently, it may be a picture of doctors and nurses. It could be your favorite restaurant server, your mechanic, or someone in the military. I was an Air Force wife from 1972–1979 and I waited tables in the closest restaurant to the main gate of both an Air Force Base and an Army Post in Tacoma, Washington from 1978­­—1991 where most of the customers were active duty or retired members of the armed services. I moved back to the Finger Lakes area of New York State in 1991 and lost my connection to a military-based way of life. When I hear the word service my mind thinks military first, then may drift to other definitions.

I am a five-year member of the Rochester, NY Veterans Writing Group. We meet each month and I have only missed a few meetings since joining in 2015 because being with “my” vets has brought me home to a feeling I didn’t know I was missing until I experienced it again. When I started attending I found my “tribe” of brothers and sisters that “get it.” The group gathers around a table and writes personal experience memories brought forth from thought-provoking prompts. Once the allotted writing time ends, we read our musings aloud, sharing the highs and lows, and sometimes comical, points of military life. It’s a healing process and only safe to do with other vets who understand: the front lines come with exhaustion, bad food, blood, and death; the military comes with pride, service, boredom, and chaos; the home front can be supportive or fall away in a flash, and it takes 22 to 25 other members in the background to support the ones brandishing weapons no matter the circumstances.

I am proud to share, the groups’ anthology titled, United in Service, United in Sacrifice will be released in May 2020. The authors are veterans and family members ranging in age from 27 years to 95 years old. The stories start at WWII and move forward to Afghanistan. The authors’ goal is to help anyone understand the meaning and feeling of “tribe” or “brotherhood”  of the military and the sacrifice it takes to “sign on the dotted line,” hence the book title.

According to the National Conference for State Legislators, only 7.6% (in 2019) of all Americans have ever served in the United States military. I beg to differ because I was a dependent wife and had two children. No, I didn’t serve to the extent of following orders and being asked to brandish a weapon, but I carried a military dependent ID and served by being the back-up, the home front, who gave up my childhood roots, never gave them to my kids, then willingly packed and moved each time the Air Force ordered my ex-husband to do so. I made immediate friends with new neighbors and relied on other members of my husband’s unit as a family because I had no other choice. Becoming a military dependent changed my life by expanding the puddle in which I live.

Today I continue to serve by being the “Mom” of our writing group. I take the coffee pot to each gathering, check-in privately with a member when I can sense they need it, and present each new member a patriotic quilt on their sixth month attendance anniversary. I learned to sew when I was in high school and I’ve been making quilts ever since. I am very fortunate to have a large sewing studio in my home that has multiple cupboards full of many different colors of fabric, lots of it red, white, or blue.  My husband is often with me when I’m shopping for fabric. He carries the bolts I pick, chats with the person who cuts what I want, and pays for it knowing I am going to give most of it away. He’s a veteran too and his generosity keeps me occupied doing something I love, and gives both of us a way to acknowledge our fellow veterans.

The quilt pictured below was made for my WWII Veteran friend, Bob Whelan. It is a replica of the 13th Armored Cavalry (1944-’45) patch of which he was a member and is now the President of that unit’s reunion group. The quilt hangs in his study at home. The pattern for the recurring block is called Kaleidoscope. Fun fact; my husband was in the 50th Armored Division (1970-’76.)

WWII quilt

patqlt

The above quilt was a gift to Steve McAlpin

Vets

We had to say a final farewell to one of our own this past January. Some of “my” vets from left to right; Me, Gary Redlinski (Vietnam), Steve McAlpin (Afghanistan), his girl Carol, Holly Katie (family member), Vaughn Stelzenmuller (Vietnam), Bob Whelan (WWII)

There are so many different types of service whether it is in the military, to your family or community, at work, in your children’s schools, at the Carrot Ranch, etc. Service can be as simple as a smile in the check-out line at a retail store or brandishing a weapon not knowing if you’ll make it to the next day and all points and locations in between.

Charli Mills serves us by giving us a fun, safe, positive place to share the written word. I am thankful to be a part of Carrot Ranch and proudly talk of my international friends who keep my life puddle ever-expanding.

In the comments section please share your service story–military or otherwise.

 

Day 25 – Rt 66 trip

Well, this might be more challenging than working on the balcony a couple of nights ago; I am now sitting on an American flight traveling 512 miles an hour zooming toward Charlotte, NC. I have to pay for internet which I am not willing to do, so I will try to write about yesterday, then when we land, combine pictures and text.

Well, I tried to post this in Charlotte airport, and no can do. So, we are now home, with the football game on, and 24 hours late, I will share our last day in San Diego with you.

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We put our baby on a great big truck at 9 am. Alex, the driver, and his partner are from Massachusetts and they will drive eight cars back east and arrive Saturday or Sunday. We are guessing while one drives the other guy sleeps in order to make it in that amount of time.

A note about writing on the balcony. There were no bugs bothering us, not even a fly. I rarely sit outside at home because of mosquitos, knats and bees. They like me and don’t do nice things to my body.

I have a list of “out takes” or, lessons learned, from our trip that I will share tomorrow but will give you one of them now. No matter how tired you are when you get to your previously unfamiliar destination, drive a mile in each direction to find out what is close at hand; liquor store, grocery store, restaurants, places of interest. We missed some great photo ops along Rt 66 because we stayed in the hotel instead of exploring. In San Diego we almost missed a good breakfast place just a few buildings from ours. So, after watching the guys load the car, in eight minutes, we went to breakfast at the Point Loma Café. I had an avocado, cream cheese omelet, and Bob had a Fajita Delight with steak. The corn bread muffin was the best I’ve had since living on the west coast in the ‘80’s.

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I have to admit, we have not been getting up early, so we went back to the hotel for a little snooze, then got around and Ubered to where the we could catch a tour boat to be shown both the north and south ends of the bay that we could see from our hotel room. One of the trolley drivers had suggested it would be a worthwhile thing to do. He was right. We boarded a boat that was docked by the Midway Aircraft carrier used from just after WWII through the Iraq war. The carrier is now decommissioned and is a museum you can tour daily from 9 am – 5 pm. The pictures are of the planes that are on display on its deck.

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We rode under the Coronado bridge and from underneath, you can really see the curve of the structure. They used to charge a fee for crossing the bridge, but as soon as it was paid for, they dropped. It. That’s of interest because in NY we have a toll road called the thruway, that was supposed to be built and paid for that way, but the tolls never went away. Now we are told the tolls pay for its upkeep, but it’s not in very good shape a lot of the time. It makes us wonder where the money goes.

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Most of the rest of the bay is “owned” and used by the US Navy. There were two other carriers in dock, three submarines (I wouldn’t have known what I was looking at had I not been told as only a portion of them show out of the water,) and countless other navy vessels. From the boat we were on I could only see grey in front and behind me. I overheard a comment from another passenger, “Hmm, does all this make one feel safer, or less, because it would be a prime bomb target for an enemy?” It did make me think for a minute.

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I got a great picture of the downtown skyline. Ignore the big fat flag pole that cuts the picture in half please.

On our tour we also went to the sleeping quarters of the sea lions that we have been hearing. They share their quarters with hundreds of cormorants, the black birds, and also some pelicans. It’s funny how one noise during the night can be calming and enjoyable when others are disturbing.

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When we got back to shore, we asked the narrator from the boat, who explained a lot of Navy history and gave us descriptions of all the vessels, where we should go to dinner. He told us the Fish Market, but don’t look at the prices. It was our final night in town so we took his advice.

Outside the fish market is a statue of Bob Hope and some of the troops he is so famous for entertaining. It was a moving display.

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Inside we decided to sit at the bar. Jeff and J.V. were our bartenders and we met Michelle and Garry from Iowa and Nora, who is from Poughkeepsie, NY, much nearer New York City, than we live.

Bob and I shared some oysters and then I had the fresh Dungeness crab cioppino, along with three cocktails. No judging…we were on vacation.

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We also met Juan whose “big Circles” aren’t quite as endearing as my Honey’s small ones, but the comparison made for some good conversation and a fun picture.

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One of Bob’s friends wanted a report on what it was like to spend so much time together. I have to admit, I was concerned about it before we left home. I’m happy to report except for some stress when I couldn’t make sense out of the EZ66 guide and shoved the book into Bob’s hands, and a couple of crabby moments when I was tired and impatient, this trip brought us closer together. We had time to talk about the many first things we have done together in 19 years. We figured out we have only 17 states left to visit to make it to all 50 as a couple. We talked about which places we want to return to and which we don’t care to. We were so busy we had no feeling of wanting to go home in the middle of the trip and we knew we were sad it was coming to an end because our daily lives are so routine and full of responsibility. We do take time for regular date nights. My blog will be a gift to ourselves as we already can’t keep track of what we did in which location. Thankfully our phones tell us where we took pictures, so we can go back and say, yes, we went dancing at the Corral in Holbrook, AZ. That was a really fun night.

I’m not done yet. See you tomorrow. Oh, Bob had been my proofreader the whole trip, no matter how long the post, or how late I finish it, he has been a help. Thank you Honey.

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