Yes, We’re a Writers Group

We’ve come together for some time here as fellow writers, past comrades at Beginning Writers Workshop, and folks who still love to put words on the page.  With that in mind, I want to use this next challenge to invite everyone who stops by here to post a piece that they’ve worked on lately.  This can be a short piece, a poem, some creative nonfiction, a memory, some family history, a bricolage, a YouTube creation—anything you want some feedback on, short of a novel.  Now that we’ve helped Gullie hammer out her sonnet over the past week, I feel inspired to open the door to more support between all of us for some of our individual writing endeavors.

Post something!  I’m sure many of us would like to read your work and share comments.  Let’s be a writing group for this challenge.

91 responses to “Yes, We’re a Writers Group

  1. Hi, all ~

    Okay, I’ll take the challenge. There’s security in the anonymity of an online writer’s group.I submitted the following piece as an assignment for the ed2go Writer’s Guide to Descriptive Settings course. The recipe that follows the written assignment is one that I obtained via a Google search. If nothing else, I hope you enjoy the recipe.
    I opened my eyes and saw nothing familiar. Frilly curtains adorned two windows on the wall directly in front of me. A small desk sat perfectly centered between the darkened windows. White lacquered shelves filled with fancy dolls, books, and photographs of smiling strangers lined the entire wall to my left. It took a few minutes but finally I remembered where I was. I was fourteen years old and just the day before had boarded an airplane for the first time and flown—alone—to Mexico City to live with strangers for the summer. My heart beat rapidly at the realization. Unwanted tears escaped my eyes and rolled onto a satiny pillow case. All I knew at that moment was that I wanted to GO HOME. Trouble was, home was about 2,100 miles away.

    After bathing and dressing for the day, I got the nerve to venture out of the luxurious room. I traveled down an unfamiliar hallway looking for my “summer family.” I was greeted by the father Manolo. “Buenos días, señorita,” he said. “Good morning.” He spoke perfect—though heavily accented—English. I learned the room I occupied belonged to their youngest daughter Maria. The mother, Soccorita, spoke little English.

    The family decided that a Sunday outing to the floating gardens of Xochimilco might just be the perfect palliative to my homesickness. Within the hour we headed south of the city and joined the throngs of people entering the gardens. Bright-eyed children, their faces half hidden behind balls of gooey cotton candy, darted here-and-there enthralled by the activity surrounding them. We made our way to the canals where numerous trajineras—rental boats—awaited. The trajineras were painted bright red, yellow, orange, and green reminding me of rolls of Lifesavers. On weekends the gardens are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.

    A pristine blue sky framed the scene as we slowly floated through the tree-lined canals enjoying the lively rhythm of mariachis as we went. Trajineras carrying trinket and food vendors floated in and out offering their goods. “Do you have maíz tostado picante?” Manolo asked. “It’s a spicy roasted corn,” he explained to me. “No,” the reply. “It is available in the mercado though.

    The smell of sweet corn roasting over hot coals wasn’t new to me but the spicy fragrance that tickled my senses as we entered the mercado was. Manolo ordered a roasted corn for each of us and handed me one. “Cuidado,” he said, “it’s hot.” I took my first bite and marveled at the juiciness of the tender sweet kernels. Instantly, a mouthwatering combination of smoky paprika, fiery crushed red pepper, and pungent cumin exploded on my tongue. I ignored the sweet butter dripping down my chin until I had savored the last succulent bite.

    We strolled through the mercado for a while longer and ended the day with a tasty sweet lime paleta (ice pop). If you’ve ever tasted authentic Key Lime pie made with Florida key limes, you’d recognize the creamy richness of a lime paleta. ¡Yum! Homesickness . . . all but forgotten!

    Roasted Corn

    8 ears of sweet corn
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup mayo
    1 cup freshly grated queso añejo (Mexican cheese: similar to parmesan)
    2 limes, cut into wedges
    1. Pull back husk from corn and remove stringy threads; brush with melted butter
    2. Combine chili powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika; set aside
    3. Place corn on rack of an uncovered grill directly over heat with husks hanging over the edge or away from the heat source; grill for 12 to 14 minutes or until corn is caramelized and brown, turning every 2 minutes to cook evenly
    4. Spread corn with mayo pretty thick (this is your glue); sprinkle cheese and spice mixture and squeeze lime over all


    • LJ….I am so hungry now that I’ve read your excellent piece, I just might have to go to the pantry and heat up some canned corn, (sorry, that is all I have as we have just been blasted by 10 inches of snow over the weekend). I will pretend that it is “maia tostado pincante.” Your time spent in Descriptive Writing has certainly paid off. Loved the visual of “Trajneras…like rolled Lifesavers.” FANTASTIC.

    • Your descriptive tale swept me away. Thanks for taking me on a delightful journey. Can’t wait to try the recipe.

    • The elephant in any writers’ group is that ‘feedback’ invariably means saying only nice stuff. But I’d like to point out a couple of craft issues in this piece, LJ.

      In the first paragraph, ‘Unwanted tears escaped my eyes…’ reads as if ‘my eyes’ is the direct object of the verb and could suggest that the narrator didn’t see the tears. The inclusion of the preposition, as in ‘Unwanted tears escaped from my eyes…’ fixes it.

      Same in the second paragraph, where ‘I learned the room…’ suggests that it was the room that was being learned. The inclusion of the preposition, as in ‘I learned that the room…’ fixes it.

      Elsewhere. a couple of commas would’ve helped: In the first paragraph, ‘I was fourteen years old and just…’ seems to be heading for something still pertaining to the ‘was’ verb and its subject ‘I’. With a comma separating the clauses, ‘I was fourteen years old, and just the day before…’ that’s solved.

      Similarly, in the last paragraph of the narrative, ‘I ignored the sweet butter dripping down my chin until…’ could be suggesting the length of the butter’s travel rather than the passing of time. Again, a comma fixes it: ‘I ignored the sweet butter dripping down my chin, until I had savored…’.

      Okay, so maybe I’m being pedantic and technical, but these are potential ‘stumbling blocks’ that have the capacity to interrupt the flow and remind the reader that he/she is, in fact, reading something. If I’m breaking some writers’ group protocol by pointing that out, ignore me.

      • This is helpful! If we’re to be a true writers group, we can suggest, critique, comment, and correct, as well as support. LJ can argue with you, if necessary, but always feel free to share what concerned you and any suggestions.

      • Muphry’s Law states that ‘if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written’, and I’ve just noticed that in my earlier comment I described ‘that’ as a preposition instead of a demonstrative pronoun. I’ll stay after class and write ‘Real writers don’t cut-and-paste without thinking’ one hundred times. After Bart Simpson’s finished his stuff.

    • Aside from a few grammatical things (stay in the past tense, “On weekends the gardens were…,” watch out for cliches–“pristine blue sky” and take out that final exclamation point), I wonder if you need the misdirection of being on the boat but then having to wait for the mercado to get the corn. I know it likely happened that way, but it’s a bit like “get ready…no wait…okay, now.” Why not “get ready–pow!” The boats make a great setting and take up a lot of your descriptive space, so I’d just drop the mercado and eat! I thought tacking the recipe on at the end was terrific. I’m captured!

    • Enjoyed my trip with the sites and tastes of Mexico. Good job on the descriptions as they took me with you every step of the way. It would be interesting to compare what feedback you have received here to what you received in your Descriptive Settings class.

      • Glad you enjoyed “your trip” and the sites and tastes of Mexico, Walk. My journey was many (many, many) years ago. I enjoyed writing the assignment and the trip down memory lane. FYI–my fellow classmates and the instructor enjoyed the “food memoir” and the recipe. ~LJ

      • LJ,
        I can imagine how homesick you must have been. The descriptions of the home and the Sunday outing took me there with you. I see the merit of suggestions offered and loved the recipe!

    • I really enjoyed reading this LJ. It was serene, and who doesn’t need that? This is my favorite line: slowly floated through the tree-lined canals…

      Now I’m going to have to try the recipe!

    • LJ, It’s amazing how you took a recipe and built a story out of it. While reading your story, I was wondering if this was true or if you made it up. Later when I read your reply to one of the comments that it was from your past, I was surprised how many details you could remember.
      I thoroughly enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing. -SC

  2. Aside from the novel that I’m in the middle of writing, the only things that I’ve done lately have been poetry. some of the poems I have written bare more of me than I care to share at the moment since a poets words are the windows to his or her soul. In my case, they are a window to what I must keep hidden inside of me for the time being. I was going to post one of my favorites but it maybe a bit racy and I wasn’t sure how well it would be received by the group. So I decided to go with my most recent instead.

    Angels dream

    Dream, sweet lady
    let the arms of sleep enfold you
    let the canvas of your mind
    hold a wondrous view
    let not stress or strife
    consume unconscious sight
    hold fast to unfettered fantasy
    and let it give you flight
    free to live the life you choose
    no fear or pain … just light
    heavens song of joy unbound
    for an angel of the night
    and in waking to reality
    fear not as the vision comes apart
    for the fading memory of the dream
    is locked inside your heart.

    • Carl, this is truly beautiful. especially “let the canvas of your mind hold a wondrous view.” Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Very nice, carl speaks. I don’t read (nor understand) much poetry, but I must say I truly enjoyed reading your poem. ~LJ

    • I’m not an avid reader of poetry either but I truly enjoyed your piece. I love the rhythm. It’s a beautiful piece.

    • Great use of rhyming–always a challenge and often a way to find something special emerging. I thought the last four lines were quite special. I guess I wished I knew if this was a child or a lover since the narrator is issuing suggestions. Is this the gentle hopes of the parent or the exploration of a lover watching the woman he loves? I always suggest to people that they don’t ignore punctuation in poetry. There is a temptation to think you’re free of it, but actually it is one more tool to help communicate your meaning to your readers. Same with capital letter. Try it with these same lines, but using commas, periods, and capitals. See if you think that enhances or detracts.

      • Thank you all for your kind words. I have been off for a while, until I posted on a couple of the other challenges recently. I have since gone back to the poems I have written and started utilizing capitals and punctuation. I have to agree, it does seem to add something more to the understanding of the work. For your query, Ann, this was in fact something I wrote for a love of mine as a way of saying good night.

    • I like the way the rhyme set the rhythm. The wish that her dreams would be her reality, good stuff. The implied concept of watching your lady sleep shows the love for the lady, but also has a small amount of eroticism. Of course being a man, I would bring to erotic into it. :>)

      • Rhyming and symmetry take lots of hard work. Nice job. I also would like to see punctuation. I like the fading memory of the dream being locked inside her heart..

    • I’m not a poet because I’ve never been able to understand most of what I’ve read. But I really enjoyed this, especially the tone you’ve given to it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is a small part of a novel I’m working on.

    I met Robbie when I was eight. He lived in the house in back of my aunt’s, through a small copse of trees. The day was warm from the mid-summer sun. My aunt was taking her usual afternoon nap, and I was bored. I felt like the devil she always said I was, so I skipped all the way down to the end of the back yard where the trees were. I was picking blackberries off a bush when I glanced through a little hole in the scrub and saw a pair of brown eyes looking at me, eyebrows furrowed. I startled as he stepped around the bush, but he threw down a challenge that, as a girl, I had no choice but to accept.

    “You can’t pick ’em,” he said.

    “Can too.” I was determined that a boy wasn’t going to tell me what to do, even if he was bigger than me. He moved closer, snapping twigs with his dirty sneakers as he went.

    “They don’t belong to you. They belong to the mean old lady that lives way up there in that big old house.” I turned to see where he was pointing.

    “That’s my house and I live there and she’s my mean aunt,” I said, clenching my little blackberry-stained hands into fists. “That means they’re my berries.”

    “How come I’ve never seen you before?”

    I looked at the ground, kicking dirt with my bare foot. I had been here all along, but never ventured this far from the house. When I didn’t answer, he looked at me for a moment, then reached up to a limb above me, pulled a few blackberries off the bush, and shoved them into my hand.

    “Here, have some of these. They’re sweeter at the top ‘cause that’s where the sunshine hits ‘em. You just have to get to them before the birds do.” He paused, watching as I ate the fruit he gave me.

    “What’s your name?” he asked.

    “Lilly. Lillian May Haight. What’s yours?”

    “Robbie,” he said. “Lilly Lillian May Haight. Hmm, that’s a really long name. Kinda’ funny too.”

    “Is not, and it’s Lilly. Just Lilly. How old are you?”

    “Nine. How old are you ‘Just Lilly’?” he asked, staring me right in the eyes.

    • Celticsky, this is enchanting and intriguing, I hopw to read the finished novel someday….soon. I love “Just Lilly”, just the right amount of spunk. Good luck in finishing this charmer.

    • I love your characters and dialogue. It’s a fun read. I hope to read your novel too someday.

    • Readers love dialogue, and you use it well here. Instead of telling us about Robbie, you show him to us by how he acts and what he says to Lilly. Good details here too like bare feet, those berries, the idea of the mean aunt. Suggestions? Mostly keep going. Just check yourself when you use weak verbs like “looked.”

    • This is fantastic! I can picture these children clearly and the back yard and the berries — everything! I would definitely like to know more about them.

    • Hi, celtic sky ~

      I thought I left a comment the other day, but I don’t see it here.

      I enjoyed reading your tale and look forward to reading more about “Just Lilly” and Robbie. Perhaps, when they’re all grown up.


    • Great characters, I especially like the snapping twigs and dirty sneakers description. Good job, I’d like to read more.

    • Celticsky,
      I can’t wait to read your novel. You left this piece at the right place to add suspense.

  4. Ponder

    The scent of Ponder always announced his presence. His torn jeans and flannel shirt had been through many more fish cleaning sessions than laundry cycles. Each morning, he would come to my small bait shop on the shores of Arbutus Lake in Northern Michigan, pour himself a cup of coffee and take up his post in the corner, on an old rusty lawn chair. Ponder would sit there all day, every day, and watch people come and go out of the shop. Everyone in our tiny resort town knew who Ponder was, but they didn’t really know Ponder. You see, he was a man of very, very few words. I asked him once how he got the name Ponder, he answered,
    “People said I must think a lot because I am so quiet. But they are wrong; I just like to listen more than talk.”
    One slow, foggy day in October, I decided that is was about time I should get to know Ponder better.
    “How are you today Ponder?” I asked as I poured my second cup of coffee.
    “Did you catch anything last night?”
    “Oh sure.” He replied.
    This was our usual opening conversation for the day. Actually, that was pretty much our entire conversation until we exchanged our good night wishes when I locked up for the night.
    “Ponder, tell me something. How old are you?”
    “Oh sure….84.”
    “What is your real name?”
    “You mean the one I was born with?”
    “Mama named me Yves…..Yves Tiernet.,” he said as he took a giant gulp from his cup.
    “What about your father?”
    “I never knew him.”
    “You are French then?”
    “Oh sure.”
    “Why did you come to America?”
    “Mama sent me when I was 14. It was too dangerous for me to stay in our village near Provence after the German invasion.”
    “Did your Mama come here too?”
    I could see a small tear slowly roll down his cheek.
    “Oh no.”
    “Why not?”
    “She was killed the night before I got out. The Germans killed her and our friends. They found out that we were Maquis.”
    “Maquis, what is Maquis”
    “We were Freedon Fighters…you know, the Resistence.”
    I was ashamed to admit that I did not know much about the Resistance, so I just nodded my head.
    “How did you escape?”
    “The Maquis took me underground to the harbor and got me on a fishing boat, ‘Les Travils.’ We crossed the channel to England. Then I signed on as a crewmember in the Merchant Marine. After the war, I worked as a Fisherman in Maine until I came here 30 years ago.”
    “Why did you come to Arbutus Lake?”
    “The fishery in Maine got a call from a man that said he knew my Mama during the war. He promised my Mama he would take care of me. It took him a long time to track me down, but then he brought me here to live with him. He died a few years ago. I miss him. I am all alone again.”
    Ponder went on to say, “I asked him once if he knew who my father was, because I never knew him.”
    “What did he say Ponder?”
    “You know him now.”

  5. Or this True story, which I am going to put into a collection of stories about my years on the Lake. Ann, I hope to put these into a collection of short stories for possible publication. “Beranski’s Brainstorms” is also a tantilizing thought. Thanks for your encouragement and generousity with this site. You are a class act indeed!

    Hog Heaven

    At the risk of sounding like Meryl Streep in “Out of Africa,” I had a marina in Indiana. Johnson Bay Marina was located at the Northeast end of Lake Wawasee , the largest natural lake in the state. We had pier slips for forty boats, two gas pumps and a convenience store. The marina also had a mascot, a Vietnamese Potbellied Pig named, Johnson Bay Bratwurst, or Brats for short.
    In the summer of 1985, it was necessary for me to put down my two best friends, Freedom and Justice Frall, Golden Retrievers that I had adopted them from the humane Shelter 12 years earlier. When Freedom became so arthritic that she could no longer negotiate the few steps to get in and out of the house, it was clear that it was time for her to be pain free. Since her brother, Justice Frall, had never been without her, it was only fitting that they go to heaven together.
    By November of that year, I was emotionally stable enough to get another pet. I am a much better person when I have an animal to share my life, so I went looking for another “Best Friend.”
    Potbellied Pigs were all the rage at that time and had been featured on several talk shows and even made it into our local newspaper. One morning, I had a dentist appointment and while I was waiting, I read about the joys of owning one of these little swines. The article sang the praises of their amiability, intelligence and cleanliness. They were easily trained and were as loyal and loving as any puppy. I was sold.
    I contacted the newspaper and talked with the reporter that had written about a breeder of Potbelly Pigs in a nearby town. The breeder agreed to sell me a piggy as soon as one was born and weaned. She had two sows who were expecting within the month, which would mean I could have my baby by Christmas. I sent the prenatal down payment of $400.00 and started the countdown clock to piggy’s birthday.
    Brats was born on November 6th and was weaned and ready to come home by December 23rd. The breeder called me with the good news and we arranged a time for my mother and I to go to Lakeville and pick up our little bundle of joy. The Breeder told me to bring a sweater that Brats could wear on the trip home because, being a tropical animal, he was very susceptible to the low temperatures. I called several pet stores and ask if they sold sweaters that would fit a 3-pound baby pig. The ones that did not hang up on me, said that I could bring the pig in for a fitting, but they didn’t know what size he would take sight unseen.
    Finally, the day came for Brats to come to live at Johnson Bay. I had not found a suitable sweater for him to wear, so I put him in my stocking hat and held him close to my bosom all the way home. He was the tiniest, most precious piggy on God’s snowy earth, and he was all mine.
    The learning curve during our first few weeks was enormous. On the third day at home, I gave him a morsel of toast. He began to run in circles, kicking up his heels and barking like a dog. I called the vet immediately thinking that I had poisoned him but Dr. Miller assured me that Brats was just being a happy piggy. He also told me that pigs don’t actually make an oinking sound, they grunt and bark.
    Brats proved to be a most astounding animal indeed. He was completely potty trained to a specially built piggy litter tray. He would follow me everywhere around the marina compound, and absolutely loved to take car rides. His favorite toy was a bowling ball and he thoroughly enjoyed swimming with the Canada Geese in the boat ramp. Every evening, we would watch Jeopardy together and Brats would wag his long tail in time with the theme song. I actually believed that he knew more correct answers than I did, but being ever the gentleman, he never made me feel dumb.

    Brats had only one character flaw, he was a drug addict. Once, when he had a bit of a cough I gave him a cherry Hall’s cough drop. He stuck out his lower jaw and I put the drop on his tongue. As if by instinct, he sucked the air in across the drop until the menthol made tears roll down his cheeks. His eyes glazed over and he got kind of a crooked grin on his face, like a college freshman at his first kegger. From that point on, my piggy was hooked. Brats would do anything for the euphoria of a Hall’s cough drop.
    Brats died at age four from White Muscle Disease, a condition brought on by a Selenium deficiency. In his years at Johnson Bay, he brought joy and laughter to everyone that encountered him. We would make regular visits to schools, hospitals and nursing homes as Piggy Good Will Ambassadors. I am quite sure that my beloved Brats is having a swine time in Hog Heaven, and that I will see him again in the great sty in the sky.

    • The Brats story is full of good content, but seems a lot less organized and “story-like” than your piece on Ponder. I’d work to tighten this up by eliminating about one third of the content and deciding how to focus on Brats more fully. Chronology is often a poor organization strategy for stories. Think about how you could work more structure into this. You have a fine topic. Now it needs a bit of plot.

    • This is such a beautiful story! Funny and delightful!

  6. PB, I never understood the fascination with pot-bellied pigs but I’m beginning to. Brats sounds like a wonderful pet and I like that you shared him with your community. I also liked your choice of the name Ponder for your first story. I always enjoy your stories and would be honored to have Beranski’s Brainstorms as part of my library.

  7. Wow, Peanut! I check out Ann’s site from time to time and when I stumbled across your stories, I felt like I was in our creative writing class again. I didn’t realize how much I missed your writings until I read these great “Beranski’s Brainstorms!” As always, excellent writing and I am convinced we are “animal adoring” kindred spirits! I love the story about Brats! What a name! 🙂

  8. In my blog I often write a poem just to have something to post. I’m not a poet, I don’t know about the rhythm formulas or any of that, I just put down words. Thus I have a series of poems titled “Why I Don’t Write Poetry”. Here is the first one from this year….I welcome criticism.

    “Why I Don’t Write Poetry 2012-1”

    The fallen leaves,
    Fly in the north wind
    Like a group of thieves,
    Robbing the thoughts of my mind.

    Confined in a depression
    Of my perception,
    Thoughts of confession, obsession,
    Too often misconceptions.

    An escape, a flight to deliverance.
    Of thoughts clear and luminous
    Free from disregard and ignorance.
    Spoken full of truthfulness.

    Still the wind blows,
    The leaves are free to fly.
    But my mind is closed,
    Locked with no reply.

    • Gee, Walk, for someone who says he doesn’t know how to write poetry, I think this is pretty darned good! You have a unique rhythm and the words resonate with me.

    • Good title for this particular poem. By the last line, we feel like a door has been slammed in your (our) face. I have to say this poem begs for a follow up (someday). My one suggestion is to take the “s” off of “misconceptions.”

      I have a similar relationship to poetry. I write it, but always with the same caveat you mentioned. I cling to my ignorance of the fine points of poetry, but am impressed when I can see someone combine elegance of sound, depth of conceptualization, and an ability to communicate. I’m always willing to read a poem more than once, but I never want to have to work at it as if there is a mysterious hidden code I have to crack. I often wonder if this is a kind of stubborness or lack of imagination.

      Anybody have thoughts on this subject?

      • Depends on my mood whether I’ll take the time to reread poetry if it stumps me the first time through. If something catches my attention, I’m more apt to reread it to figure it out. My stubbornness and imagination ebb and flow with mood, so it may be both! Walk, is this about your Muse? I like the leaves being thieves robbing thoughts.

    • Hi, Walk ~ I agree with Barbara Burris that your poem is “pretty darn good.” I enjoyed reading “Why I Don’t Write Poetry 2012-1.” The words make me stop and ponder my own thoughts. This site just might make me a fan of poetry, as I enjoyed reading carl speaks poem as well. ~LJ

  9. Rather than new stuff, I’ve been working on old stuff. I’ve been rewriting, editing, and formatting my blog’s travel “journals,” which consist of stories I wrote about various travels. I insert many photos where appropriate, and even more on verso pages.

    Then I print them, take the works into Anchorage and have Office Max bind them. Then they’re given as gifts to friends and fellow travelers. Very, very time-consuming, but satisfying.

    Here’s one of them from my “Aussie Journals.:

    Chapter 9

    Crossing Fingers

    We are waiting; they are reluctant. We are hopeful; they are suspicious. Curiosity guides us; instinct propels them. “We” are tourists wanting to watch them; “they” are Little penguins trying to reach their burrows safely.

    We sit on pink or green blankets brought from our hotel in downtown Melbourne. Simon arranged with the concierge for a couple dozen blankets to be available to us. When I left the Mercure Hotel entrance and crossed the sidewalk to the waiting coach earlier this afternoon, I wondered what passers-by thought of the stream of us exiting the hotel, blankets in hand. Mass blanket theft?

    Now, in the minutes before it is too dark to see, I smile at the thought. If those pedestrians live in Melbourne, they know exactly what we are doing with all those blankets. We have placed them on the cold concrete and asphalt tiers of the spectator stands at Summerland Beach on Phillip Island. I choose a seat on the risers, but abandon it in favor of leaning against a concrete bulkhead next to the rope that keeps the spectators confined to certain areas. At my feet are tiny penguin footprints in the sand.

    Almost full dark now, I begin to suspect that this is the one night of the year that they won’t come back. We all watch the water’s edge, right where the gentle surf effervesces into white froth before it begins to recede from the sandy beach. I think I see movement there, but nothing appears. The park service turns on floodlights and we can see the beach better. We wait for some time.

    A white spot appears against the inky blackness of the water. Then another and another. Soon I count a dozen white spots. The first group of Little penguins is huddled at the water’s edge, the light illuminating their white undersides. They have been feeding at sea, some for days or weeks at a time. Now they are returning to their colony burrows to feed their young, or just to be home.

    Minutes pass as the group summons enough courage to make the trek across the beach to the vegetation on the dunes. Several false starts are made and with a flurry of flippers they plunge back into the water, then gather together once again on the sand. These birds believe there is safety in numbers. It is not the human spectators they fear, but animal and avian predators.

    I mentally cross my fingers, silently urge them on. I scan the sky, thinking it is surely too dark for eagles, then remember animals that hunt in the night. Suddenly they make a break for it, waddling quickly across a dozen yards of gently inclined sand, and reach the dunes safely. The theme music from “Chariots of Fire” swirls in my head. One penguin lags behind, his distress at being alone obvious.

    I ask the ranger, who is there to make sure humans stay quiet and in bounds and do not use flash photography, about the slow penguin.

    “I got a good look at its legs,” she answers. “It’s okay, it walks okay. It’s just fat.” She tells me the penguins feed alone at sea, then gather a hundred yards offshore when they want to return to their burrows.

    Soon more groups are mustering up and down the beach. After almost two hours we start to leave. One group of penguins has been unable to make “the” decision for some time. It has been in and out of the water a dozen times, and it is still there as we climb the steps to the boardwalk. It takes only one to turn back and the whole group will follow.

    All around us in the full darkness we hear caws and barks and chirrs. Penguins are scattered throughout the rolling dunes, standing next to the low vegetation outside their burrows and chatting with their neighbors. Others are alongside the dimly lighted boardwalk, unafraid of the dozens of humans passing by or stopping to watch.

    A bit further up the walk, a group of people are gathered at the rail. A man calls his wife over to watch. “Ew-w-w-w,” she exclaims as she sees an X-rated penguin propagation spectacle occurring in full view.

    “Aw, c’mon,” the man says. “He’s been gone a week.”

    The night air is alive with penguin calls. They may have been afraid to cross the beach alone, but they are not hiding in their burrows now. Everywhere we look there are penguins, all of them vocal. Some have to waddle as far as a mile and a half to return to their own burrows.

    Almost a half million visitors come to this site every year to watch this Penguin Parade. The smallest of the seventeen known varieties of penguins, Little penguins are found only in the Southern Hemisphere, mostly along the southern coastlines of Australia and New Zealand.

    They appear to be about a foot tall, but the largest males can grow to sixteen inches. Instead of black, their feathers are an indigo blue. Adults weigh around two pounds, and barring foxes and cats and perils of the deep, have a lifespan of about six years.

    Blankets under our arms, we walk back to the visitor’s center, through the gift shop, and out the front door towards the dark parking lot where our motor coach awaits. As we leave the building, we see a sign that warns drivers to look under their vehicles for penguins before starting or moving them.

    Our group is quiet on the long ride back to Melbourne. Some nap, others take in the night skyline of the city. We are comfortable and reassured in our silence. We have seen the Little penguins safely home and all is well with the world.

    • Sweet story, Gully!

    • Marvelous, as usual. I’m sure the photographs that accompany these works are additional jewels adding a second dimension to the story.

    • One of the things you do well here (besides writing so well) is to teach us something. You take us with you. We learn about penguins. We see them and hear them. We learn about penguin viewing in Melbourne, Australia. It’s all quite fascinating. Loved your last line too. Very fitting and satisfying. Good mixture of facts and people reactions.

    • What a wonderful gift!

    • First time I saw this, Gully (gee, how long ago now?), I loved that last sentence, and it still makes me warm and fuzzy. Exquisite.

    • I’m envious of your travels and just as envious of your writing skills. I loved your account of watching the penguin parade. Unfortunately I’ve never been outside the US but New Zealand and the Galapagos are on my bucket list. Now I have to add Australia just to watch the penguin parade. I went to your site and saw the pictures. They are adorable.

    • I truly enjoyed reading your story of the Penguin Parade.

  10. January in Wisconsin is a pretty forbidding time of year – especially for gardening. The last couple of days had been unusually warm, melting enough snow near the foundation of Mom’s house to expose a few plants in her garden. I spotted the poppy right away, its gray green leaves lying limp on the slick earth.

    “What are you doing?” my husband, Bruce, said as I pulled the shovel from the back of my car. “You’re not supposed to take anything else now that the house is sold.”

    “No one will miss one small plant. Trust me,” I said.

    The earth offered less resistance than I’d expected. My shovel tested it again on the other side of the plant and the blade drove deeper. It was January fifteenth, Mom’s birthday. She’d been gone well over a year. I thought I’d long ago taken my memories from her home. But every time I came to the house, I looked over at the garden, searching for the poppy.

    I grew up in awe of my mother. Mom was a risk taker who ran her own business at a time when most women stayed home to raise children. She had two favorite sayings. What have you got to lose? and You’ll never know until you try.

    I loved to sing and despite my crippling stage fright, she set up an audition for me with a manager. I felt insecure and overwhelmed. My voice sounded weak and thin. The opportunity was wasted. She forgave my failure and continued to encourage me. But I knew I’d let her down and our relationship faltered.

    After Daddy died, Mom bought a small house nearby. My sister, Linda, and I brought perennials from our yards and helped her plant a garden across the front of her house. Mom never did anything half way, so the garden expanded quickly and soon looked like something you’d see in a magazine, overflowing with blooms all season long. It had become her focus and even as her lungs began to fail, she used what little strength she had left to try to maintain it. As she grew weaker, she’d sit in her dining room watching the hummingbirds float from flower to flower. I tried to offer help with the house and laundry, but she took enormous offense if I even washed a dish. The only help she’d accept was with her garden.

    One warm spring night when Bruce and I arrived for dinner, Mom met us at the door, excited to show us a new flower in her garden. She was unusually enthusiastic so I knew it must be something special. Tucked in among the masses of flowers, she pointed to an Oriental poppy. The huge blossom looked like an ethereal circle of crinkled mauve silk punctuated in the center with coal black markings. It was stunning. Neither of us had ever seen one this color. She could see how taken I was by it and promised me a baby from the plant. But that summer, long before any baby plants had the chance to appear, she died.

    For months I forced myself to visit her empty house, dusting the furniture and sweeping up dead flies. I thought it would linger forever. Then all of a sudden the dismal market opened up a crack and it sold. As we hauled the few remaining pieces of furniture out the front door past the garden, I once again thought about the poppy. I knew I should’ve dug it out when it first went dormant, but I’d procrastinated. I already had a yard full of perennials and told myself I didn’t need any more. In truth, I wanted Mom’s garden to remain intact as long as possible.

    This day would be the last time I’d ever see the house again. Since no money had yet changed hands, technically, the property still belonged to Linda and me. But I knew Bruce was right. I’d signed a contract that said I wouldn’t take anything else away.
    Normally, I’m a very ‘by the rules’ kind of person. But on this day, I felt a strong urge to abandon my principles. I’d awakened that morning thinking about that poppy and I couldn’t get it off my mind. That’s how there just happened to be a garden spade in the back of my car on a cold, gray January day with two feet of heavy snow covering most of the countryside.

    I looked again at the shriveled plant. It was now or never. Something told me there was a chance. Slim, but I had to try it.

    “What’ve I got to lose?” I said stabbing at the earth.

    “Why didn’t you do this months ago? You’ll kill it,” Bruce said.

    “I didn’t realize how much I wanted it. And yes, I’ll maybe kill it, but if I leave it here, it’ll end up dead from neglect, anyway.”

    “She had two, didn’t she? Are you sure this is the right one?”

    I scanned the garden, trying to remember where I’d seen the poppies blooming. Both had been very near the foundation of the house where the ground was now wet and sticky from the beginning January thaw.

    “Maybe one died. This is the only poppy I see, so I have to hope this is it. ”

    When it came to saving plants, I thought I’d learned my lesson long ago. Early in our marriage we bought a small house we intended to rent out as an investment. Just outside the kitchen door a lovely little cottage garden bloomed with an assortment of unusual mums and Japanese fern leaf peonies that bore spectacular magenta flowers. I wanted to bring some of the plants home but decided it would be nice to leave them for the tenants.

    The first tenant hated mums. Without asking, she dug them all out and threw them away. She did the same with one of the peonies because it intruded on the area where she wanted to plant annuals. A sharp pain sliced through my stomach when I found out. I swore I’d never make that mistake again. So here I was, after procrastinating for months, trying not to let it happen a second time.

    Knowing the poppy had a deep root, I forced the spade down into the earth until the frost refused to let the ground yield any further. When I’d encircled the plant, I began to pry it upward, praying I’d gotten beneath it. The sickening snap made me stop abruptly. I dropped to my knees and pulled the mud away with my hands.

    • Good story. The focus is on your grief over your mom’s death and that poppy gives you a great way to show us your feelings. I wondered if you might skip the digression to the tenants who dug up your mums. Think about that. Also, this sentence is vague, “I thought it would linger forever.” It took me a while to realize you meant that the house might linger on the market forever. But those are small things. What matters is that you’ve found a good way to share your feelings and also honor your mother. Did the poppy live?

      • Barbara Burris

        Thanks, Ann! Your feedback is invaluable. Yes. it lived. At first I panicked, though, because I couldn’t find anywhere in my yard where the ground had thawed enough to plant it. There was one spot, however. Only one. I also found out the reason I didn’t see the other poppy was because my nephew had dug one out earlier. When I found out, I wondered which one he’d gotten. He didn’t know because the squirrels had eaten the buds off it before it could bloom! So it took 2 spring seasons before I knew I had the one I wanted.

  11. This is the beginning of a story I tried to get published. Any and all critiques gratefully accepted.

    • I really like your story and found myself feeling deprived because I couldn’t read the rest. Have you considered publishing through kindle? I read somewhere, possibly on Ann’s blog, that you can publish for free. Good luck with publishing.

      • Barbara Burris

        Hi Lisa, Thanks for the compliment. I did not know about publishing through Kindle. I’ll look into it. Thanks for the information.

  12. This is the Prologue to the novel I am currently revising. Is it too confusing and/or too long?

    Hillside Manor 1909

    “He’s here, he’s here! He’s come for Anna.” The housekeeper ran into the library wringing her hands.

    “Go. Now. Leave us,” Isabella said to the housekeeper, as she closed and locked the double doors.

    Isabella’s heart was racing as she gathered her swirling thoughts together and concentrated on the hastily scribbled instructions for the spell she was about to cast. It had to work, it just had to.

    She moved to the fireplace and hugged her beautiful young daughter. Above the mantel hung a portrait of Anna, commissioned and completed upon her graduation from Miss Porter’s Finishing School this past spring. Isabella fastened the ancestral sapphire pendant around Anna’s neck and placed her rose gold wedding band in her palm.

    “Mother, are, are, you, you sure?” said Anna. Tears slid down her cheeks as she struggled for control, gripping the ring.

    The desperation in Isabella’s eyes spoke louder than her words. “It’s the only way I know to insure your safety, my love. Alfred is a danger to you.”

    She took a deep breath, cleared her mind for a moment, then clasped her daughter’s hands as she spoke,

    “Be still
    Be safe
    In this painting you shall dwell
    Till one true love breaks the spell

    Be still
    Be safe
    Carefully watch and wait
    For release to your one soul mate.”

    The instant her daughter vanished, a flash of blinding light filled the room. Isabella shielded her eyes with trembling hands. Her knees gave way and she sank to the floor. She touched her head gingerly and rubbed at the ache there with one hand. Because it was breaking, she moved the other hand over her heart.

    Had she done the right thing? Had she spoken the words correctly? She looked up at the portrait. It had changed ever so slightly to show the beautiful twenty- year-old now wearing the sapphire pendant and holding her gold wedding band. A hint of lilac, her daughter’s favorite fragrance, remained in the air.

    Relief and sorrow washed over Isabella as she stood, pressing her palms down the front of her skirt, absently smoothing the fabric. It had worked. She stumbled as she took the first step, and grabbed the back of a chair, steadying herself. Squaring her shoulders, she moved forward opening the doors to the library and walked to the front door of the Manor to answer the insistent knocking.

    She stood tall as she met Alfred’s gaze. She knew she must maintain control of the conversation. Her husband had been found dead in his carriage at the side of the road the day before. George had been to see Alfred to call off the betrothal of their daughter to him.

    “I’ve come for Anna. We are to be married as our families agreed. I will be moving the date forward, since you are without protection now that your husband is gone.”

    She looked into his cold eyes and saw the lack of compassion there, even as his words belied it.

    “I know you are responsible for my husband’s death and you will not take my daughter. Anna has been sent away to safety. She will not be marrying you now or ever. Good day to you, Mr. White.”

    She slammed the door and bolted it, leaning back against its solid support. She could hear him yelling as he left. The housekeeper peaked from behind the living room door. “Is he gone?”

    “For now. For now.” She needed time to figure out what to do next. She would talk to Nathanial. He would help her with a plan.

    • Good action here. The spell is very daring. Some tips: Watch your feminine pronouns so that it’s crystal clear which female they refer to. I was a bit confused by her hugging her daughter and then there being the portrait. Can they look at it together? Work to show the mother’s feelings instead of naming them. She must be quite emotional at this moment, so show that she’s rattled and grieving, not just plannning the next move. Keep going with this fine plot!

      • Thank you, thank you for the tips. This plot all started with the paragraph I wrote for lesson 5 “Galumping.” Looking back at my BWW notebook made me decide that I would read it from front to back today before doing any more revision. There is exceptional information in that class!

    • I loved this! I want to read more of this. I love the originality of this piece. Hooked!

    • I’m intrigued and I enjoyed reading your piece. I didn’t think it was too confusing or too long. I’d like to read more. Good luck with your revisions and publishing.

  13. Hi, Parrot. I did not find your Prologue confusing nor did I find it too lengthy. I know myself well enough to know that I would have stopped reading if I was not enjoying it. I read it all. 🙂 Good luck with your novel. ~LJ

  14. I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted to post. I sat at my laptop hoping for inspiration. Nothing came. I had just finished making meatballs and putting them in the oven. My husband was cooking spaghetti sauce from scratch. When suddenly it hit me – I’d write about my new-found love of cooking.

    After 45 years I have decided that I now enjoy cooking. I thought I hated cooking but what I actually hated was cooking badly. I tried to follow recipes but didn’t have enough focus, discipline or experience to know when and how I could diverge from the recipe. Yet, I would. If I didn’t have an ingredient I’d replace or omit without much thought. If I didn’t have enough time I would simmer for half hour instead of two. If I didn’t have the right equipment I would use inadequate equipment. It’s hard making meringue or whipped cream with a manual hand mixer. (Is “manual hand mixer” redundant?) I think the only thing I did well in the kitchen was chop, mince or dice.

    When I was a newlywed my husband would come home to dinner. He would leave his street clothes on in preparation for the eventual food run that would follow the taste test. Throughout our marriage I had to replace burnt wallpaper after a grease fire, clean up bits of glass following the explosion that occurred after pouring cold water over a hot Pyrex dish and suffer through many disappointing meals. The number of ruined meals I threw out could occupy an entire landfill. I eventually improved enough to have one thrown-out meal a month but the disappointing meals continued.

    My husband wasn’t much help. He really did hate cooking. He could barely step in the kitchen without feeling a panic attack rising. Fortunately, we had a rough patch in our marriage and were separated for a time. (You may ask yourself why this is fortunate but please read on.) During the separation he tried to distract himself with new hobbies – gourmet cooking being one of them. At the time I thought how convenient we’re on the verge of divorce and now he decides he’ll cook. Had he learned to cook before, I would have thought twice about a trial separation.

    He decided to enroll in a gourmet cooking class. My husband is the type who becomes absorbed in his hobbies. He is meticulous in detail and in the technical aspects of each new pursuit. Cooking was no exception. He was precise in his cooking. Ingredients, measurements, cooking times had to be accurate. He bought several new cooking appliances, a slew of exotic ingredients and a new set of pots and pans (Emeril, I think). Although we were separated we spent many dinners together and I enjoyed more delicious gourmet meals during that time than any other in my life.

    Sometimes we decided to cook together and our mismatched cooking styles insured chaos and fighting. Still, I would try, or he would try, and chaos and fighting always ensued – not conducive to reconciliation. Miraculously we did reconcile. Who knew the way to a woman’s heart could be through her stomach?

    It’s been six years since we first separated. His cooking classes inspired my new interest in cooking and I started making the recipes from his class. Admittedly, he is a better cook, but I was able to use the recipes to at least improve my cooking. I now enjoy attempting new recipes and go to sites like or I’ve had more successes than failures and find this encouraging. Recently I’ve discovered Southern Living recipes. So far they have been foolproof. My husband, my daughter and I now enjoy many delicious, or at the very least, edible meals together. I haven’t thrown out a meal in months. Now that my husband has come to respect my kitchen skills we rarely fight when cooking together. And fortunately, for me, my husband is no longer averse to stepping into the kitchen.

    • Good cooking story! We’re all like family here, and my temptation is to say “fine fine” and leave it at that. But I’m trying to generate some comments that go a bit deeper than that, so here goes. This needs tightening up. It’s got some really funny parts, and you should focus on the humor here. The story really gets going in the third paragraph. I’d also work to highlight the intertwining cooking/marriage plot. That added good structure. Look for things to cut and I think you’ll increase your impact.

      • Thanks, Ann. I worked on this too quickly because my hubby was pestering me. (We were not in the kitchen.) I knew it lacked something and your comments are always so helpful. I’m hoping to put together more stories like this one and bind them together for keepsakes for my daughter and other family members. (Thanks, Gullible, for the idea.)

  15. Lisa,

    I truly enjoyed reading your submission. Since we were in the BWW together, I have been struck by your sincere, heartfelt way of writing. As a reader, I feel connected to your subject. I can truly relate to your memoir. My ex and I divorced; then he learned to cook. Go figure! Now I have a very helpful “significant other.” I’m glad you have a newfound love of cooking. (What time is dinner?) I’m particularly pleased that you and your husband have found togetherness in the kitchen. Bon appétit. 🙂

    Looking forward to reading more of your writing, Lisa.


    PS As a personal aside–I gave up on writing for the current session at ed2go. I’m taking Drawing for the Absolute Beginner. Sooner or later, I’ll find my niche . . . at least I hope I will.

    • LJ, Don’t give up. See the course through. You never know what might happen along the way.

    • Thanks, LJ for always being supportive. It feels like a continuation of BWW having former classmates here. I’m glad you’re here. I’m not quite as thoughtful as your are or I would have included a recipe for everyone to share but better late than never. Here’s a great recipe for shrimp puffs — simple and delicious.

      Shrimp Puffs
      1pkg buttermilk biscuits
      1 pkg frozen shrimp (6 1/4 oz. Wakefield)
      3/4 cup mayo
      1/2 cup parmesan cheese
      1 tsp grated onion
      sesame seeds

      Make biscuits as instructed. Cut in half. Mix remaining ingredients and spoon mixture on top of biscuits. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Broil until bubbly 3-5 minutes. I actually used fresh shrimp. I’ve also used crescent roll dough and puff pastry dough and just shaped them like biscuits. It’s delicious on whatever you put it on. My favorite was crescent roll dough. For those allergic to shellfish I thought using chicken would also be good. I haven’t tried it but how bad could it be?

      • Thanks for the recipe, Lisa. Looks yummy. I’ll try the dish with shrimp, as I have no problem with shellfish; plus I enjoy shrimp. Mostly, I like the “simple” part! Maybe I’ll try the crescent roll variety since you say it’s your favorite.

        Hope you’re still writing the story with your daughter in mind. I know you’re not up for a novel at this time. Maybe a short story will suffice? Keep writing.


  16. Gullible ~ Hi and thanks for the encouragement. I didn’t mean to imply I stopped my writing class. The writing course concludes tomorrow. The drawing class started yesterday. So, there’s just a little overlap.

    I enjoyed reading your “Aussie Journal” and learning about the penguins. I imagine the completed journals with photographs are lovely. Your friends and family are fortunate to receive your gift.


  17. I’ve been working too hard lately, on both a time-consuming, tedious, but ultimately rewarding project, and in trying to keep up with the curve balls this minus 25 weather keeps throwing at me.

    Now it’s time for some fun. I hope I don’t regret this in the morning.

    Three of a Kind isn’t a Full House

    There once was a ruler called Nero,
    Who’s said to have played on his fiddle,
    Around him Rome burned,
    And duties he spurned,
    Which the people considered most crim’nal.

    There once was a despotic dame,
    Marie Antoinette was her name,
    When told there’s no bread,
    She said “cake” instead,
    Now the loss of her head is her fame.

    There once was man named Barack,
    Whose country had run off the track.
    He went on vacation
    To the people’s vexation,
    And shook hands with a mouse to distract.*

    (This is in reference to the recent “promote tourism” trip to Disney World in Florida and the big-eared, shoe-wearing mouse of fame.) Didn’t the President just get back from Hawaii?

    I know these don’t exactly follow traditional limerick form. Rhyming “Nero” with “fiddle?” Yet, it seems to work. And in the last one, six syllables instead of five for the two B lines? Oh, well, fun was the intent and fun was had.

  18. Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

    The Object of My Affection

    The object in front of me is an empty wine bottle, not from a binge last night, but from 1976. My dear departed mother, Josie could do almost anything. She was the lead singer in a jazz band, she could mix, pour and finish a concrete patio and she designed and sold marching band uniforms for colleges and high schools. However, Josie could not cook and actually had very little interest in anything culinary until Euell Gibbons published his book on eating wild, natural things “Stalking the Wild Asparagus.”
    One afternoon, while we were in the kitchen, Josie was looking through the Gibbons recipes and an entrée caught her interest,
    “How do Rock Cornish Game Hens with Stinging Nettles sound?”
    “Painful,” I replied.
    “How about Hazel Nut Porridge?”
    “ Even Goldie Locks and the Three Bears would run from that.”
    Then she found the Magic Chapter, “Making Wild Grape Wine.” Eureka!
    We lived on a 36-acre, non-working orchard, with an amazing amount of wild grapes. Josie and I picked grapes for days then stomped them into juice, added some yeast and put the mixture into a new Rubbermaid 5 gallon trash can to ferment. After the prescribed amount of days, according to Gibbons, we put our nectar into 15 wine bottles, tightly corked them, and put them in a wine rack in our basement T.V. room. The wine rack faced the back of an all white sofa.
    After we filled the rack, Josie and I sat down on the sofa to watch our favorite show, Beacon Hill.
    “Don’t you feel proud that we made our own wine, with our own hands, from our own grapes…
    “In our own 5 gallon Rubbermaid Trash can.” I interrupted.
    “You know Peanut, sometimes you are a real kill joy.”
    At that exact moment, I was struck in the back of my head by what I thought was a bullet. Before I could react, Josie grabbed my hand and yelled,
    “ Hit the dirt, I think the invasion has begun!”
    “Invasion….Invasion of what?” I streaked.
    “CORKS !”
    It became obvious that my mother missed reading the fine print in the recipe cautioning about “corking too tightly” when the wine is fresh. All 15 bottles ejected their corks and our beautiful purple nectar became the new color of our old white sofa.
    The sounds from the firing range woke my father, who ran to the bottom of the stairs. He stopped on the bottom step, surveyed the carnage, looked at Josie and I, prostrate on the floor and covered in what must have looked like blood, and he said,
    “What happened to the couch?
    The next day, we rented a carpet-cleaning machine and 2 gallons of liquid soap from the drug store. I was stuck cleaning up the mess because I lacked seniority.
    Like every self respecting know-it-all, I didn’t bother reading the operating instructions, I just poured in a gallon of soap, pushed the on button and began to dance with the monster machine. I was amazed that one gallon of soap did not clean even half of the floor. I poured in the second gallon. The amount of bubbles produced by that machine was astounding. The second gallon was gone and there was still a considerable amount of carpet yet to clean.
    I called my father at work and told him to bring home another gallon of soap.
    “What are you doing with all the soap? Two gallons is enough to clean all the carpets in the entire house. How on earth could you need more soap?”
    I had not read the instructions on the soap container, “2 parts water to 1 part soap.” OOPS!
    We walked through purple bubbles for six months….squish….squish…squish.

    • Very entertaining, Peanut Beranski (aka Becca). I especially enjoyed the line where your father asked, “What happened to the couch?” I guess you and Josie didn’t worry him. ~LJ

    • PB,
      I’m in agreement with PW and LJ. This is hysterical and you are a master story tell! Keep ’em coming. I love it!

    • I agree with everybody. I laughed out loud at least twice. It was great how you got stuck with the carpet job because you lacked seniority. Good one. I trust there is no stopping you now.

  19. Peanut, you’ve done it again!
    I love, love, love stories that make me laugh out loud. They are few and far between.
    You pot bellied big story was the first, and now this, the exploding corks. You tell a great tale.
    -Patsy Watsy

  20. Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

    Thanks everybody. And Ann, I’m sad to say I can be stopped, I just started a 36 week Bible Study in the Old Testament….That will knock the “Creative” right out of you! I realize it is”The Good Book” but it ain’t Creative Writing! It is drudgery!

  21. Virginia Berlando


    I took and completed Ann’s course a few years ago and it was fabulous. However, I lost all of my lessons that were on my computer when I lent it to someone who erased my entire hard drive! Therefore, I no longer have any of the lessons. Would anyone be so kind as to e-mail me the lesson plans? I can provide proof that I completed the course. My e-mail address is I thank everyone for their help!



  22. Marion L. Ritcey

    The Pebble by Marion L Ritcey by Marion L Ritcey
    As I walked along the beach in North Turo this summer. The waves with strong white caps rolling ashore bringing with them sand, seaweed, sea glass of blues or greens and driftwood. I should not forget the shells big and small also coming to the tide line. The green of the seaweed made the sand turned into a garden of sea treasures. Due to the hurricane that had just passed off shore, Cape Cod was lucky only to get the wind and waves .As I looked at the pebbles being tossed ashore , a thought came over me. Now where did they come from? I picked one up looking at it for a long time. How long had they traveled to get to this beach? What sights did it see along the way? I wondered if it was bigger to start? Did it meet any sea creatures along it’s journey? If talking what would it tell me? Was it worn down by waves ? How many other beaches had it been tossed onto, only to be swept out to sea again on a journey to another part of Cape Cod . Had it come down from Maine on wind swept waves or across the ocean? Adventures untold caused by the waves crashing on the beaches and rolling out again. Bringing in all the colors of the earth, stones of grey with silver speck , ones of the rich brown of the earth. and the pure white of a dozen small pebbles being tossed ashore. If it could only tell me. Oh, the adventures it must have had.

    I can only wonder how far it had traveled. Is the journey over? Will the tide take it again, putting it on another beach for a short time to enjoy the sun and salt air. Could it be tossed back into the ocean by a child trying to skip a rock across calm water. Maybe a seagull will carry it further up the coast to Dennisport. It may have many more adventures. A winter storm could toss it in many different directions. Someone walking along the beach may pick it up and take it home.

    Well, the pebble spoke to me. I took it home to rest in a wine glass filled with sand from that beach. I added a few more rocks and shells to make a nice display. A starfish had washed ashore during the storm also. It too is in the glass When I look at the wine glass I will remember the walks along the beach that vacation. The pebble has a warm home and will not ride the waves again. I do hope it’s happy?

    The pebble’s adventures are over for now, but it can sit there and see what adventures await it in my home. I wonder what it will think of the Christmas tree or other decoration . Will it long to tell it’s friends about the home it now lives in? Or wish it were still being tossed about on ocean waves? Maybe it will miss it’s adventures, but for now it will sit on my shelf giving me fond memories of salt air and sounds of the surf bringing more pebbles ashore.
    When the snow comes I can look at the pebble remembering the warm breeze and the setting sun of September. Closing my eyes journeying back to the mornings I walked the beach, heard the seagulls cry and got my toes wet in the surf picking up pebbles. I’ll remember the colorful sun sets. As the sky turned brilliant aura of color and then the sun drifted slowly into the bay. Then warm nights sitting by the ocean with friends, wine glass in hand talking till all hours. The fog being burned off in the morning bringing in a clear late summers day . We just sat in the brilliant red adirondack chairs and watched it all. The deep blue of the ocean was there to start the day. The good morning cry of the seagulls looking for a morning snack. Most of all the sight of the pebbles being tossed by the waves. I’ll think of the seals bobbing up and down in the surf. But the pebbles will help me remember a grand time.
    Next time I walk the beach I’ll bring a few more pebbles home to fill the glass a bit more. If I find a group of little shells to add to the arrangement it will bring the memories a new. Maybe a bit of the sea bleached drift wood. There is always room to create memories, ones for myself and the pebbles too .Who knows maybe I’ll bring home Pebbles old friend and they can reunite for a while. Talking about what they have seen and done since they last saw each other. They can catch up on lost time and enjoy the winter in the wine glass.+


  23. The Trophy

    He carried me
    like a trophy
    upon his neck

    An emblem
    of his manhood
    I represent

    The chosen child,
    and the honored role,
    My “Knightly” duty
    to him console

    I stand now, a cracked
    and battered trophy,
    an emblem of his
    his manly deeds
    have rent

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