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Blog Challenge And Other Tidbits
An opinion or two...or three or four...
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May 30, 2020 at 11:38am
May 30, 2020 at 11:38am
PROMPT May 30th

Congratulations on making it to the last day of the competition! What was your favorite prompt from the last month? What was the most rewarding aspect of participating in the competition? What did you learn?

Hard to believe that May is nearly done and it's time to say goodbye once more. It's been a fun trip. I met some new people. I surprised myself. I was surprised by others. I got to marvel at all the creative geniuses out here on WDC. And even though COVID-19 has kept us indoors and out of the public and away from people, I did feel engaged and connected with this community. So, I offer heart felt thanks to all who make this happen.

I think my favorite prompt was the one about meeting and talking to a fictional character. It was early on in May. But it gave me a chance to get to know Collin a little better. Oh, he had some things to say, alright, but he made himself known. And he wasn't shy about his likes and dislikes. Crazy Collin...I wonder what I'm going to do with him...???

I won't say I had a least favorite prompt. Sure there was one or two I didn't like. There was also one I respectfully declined. But I understand not every prompt will resonate with me and get the brain cells to flow. But I do feel it's my obligation to find something in the prompt that sparks curiosity in me. Some nugget I can connect with and engage in. And to be honest, Emily did a superb job giving us a variety of prompts to stimulate thought and get the creative juices flowing. I certainly appreciate that.

And of course, I cannot forget my fellow bloggers! All of you have made the trip exciting and fun. All of you are truly wonderful writers. Thank you for encouraging me and helping me along the way. That's something very important to me.

And now...it's time to bid you adieu. Or, as Collin would say, "Slán libh"
May 29, 2020 at 10:34am
May 29, 2020 at 10:34am
PROMPT May 29th

When I was little, I dreamed of living in a treehouse surrounded by a pool with a spiral staircase going up the middle of the trunk. *Tree* In your second to last entry of the month, write about your dream home. Describe the rooms in your fantasy house and any unique characteristics. Be creative!

Collin stirred his morning tea. One cube of sugar and a dollop of cream. He actually liked brown sugar the best but he had only white cubes in the pantry. He'd have to steal some brown cubes from the family down the street. They certainly had quite a few pantry items Collin could use. He also liked the cream from the family at the other end of the street but sadly they were on vacation and someone else was taking care of their cow. So Collin was stuck with the lumpy old cream from his fridge that smelled a little sour and was a terrifying color. But Collin stirred anyway.

He turned from his table and stretched out as far as he could. He rested his feet on a stool and his tea cup on his belly. His beady little eyes squinted as he surveyed his cottage. The one main room was by most standards small. But there a fire crackling in the fireplace with a big overstuffed chair nearby. Well, the chair wasn't really overstuffed. It was lumpy but Collin preferred to think of those lumps as stuffing. And the lumps were pretty big.

The floors were dusty and scuffed but at least they were wood. Real wood. Collin never settled for imitation floors. He noticed some spiders and dust bunnies and a few dead bugs. A broom would certainly do the floor some good, but Collin being Collin, decided he'd tend to floors another day. He gave a sniff and took a glug of his sour lumpy tea. Then his beady little eyes traveled to the big empty space in the middle of the room. No rug, no lamp, no coffee table, no couch. Just one empty space.

But Collin had a plan for that big empty space. He needed a couch to fill it all up. And Collin, in fact, had procured such a couch. It was, at this moment, sitting out in his front yard. He'd found it one day on the side of the road. It was dirty and moldy and there were stains on the cushions. It smelled dusty and sour and...well, something Collin couldn't quite identify. But it was perfect! It would fit in his cottage! And Collin had dragged the thing home. Just like a dragon he'd huffed and he'd puffed and finally collapsed on the rocks just past his gate. And there the couch stayed. But Collin being Collin had a plan for that tool. But he'd get to that another day.

Collin finished his tea and took one last look around. He didn't think his cottage was so bad. He had everything necessary for a life where he lived. A bedroom, small as it was, had a closet and a bed and little night table. A kitchen with a stove and a fridge. A cup and a plate and a fork and a spoon. A gate with a garden and a canopy of trees. None of it grand, and all of it small. But it was his and he called the place home.

Yes, Collin was happy at home.
May 28, 2020 at 11:45am
May 28, 2020 at 11:45am
PROMPT May 28th

Help me fill the Challenge War Chest with new prompts! In your entry today, write at least three prompts to be used in future rounds of the 30DBC. Then, write the rest of your entry using one of your own prompts.

Time to fill the War Chest! Always a fun prompt. Now let's see...my brain is a little bit slow this morning but I think I can roust some ideas from it. Or...if I can't get my brain to function then maybe I'll ask Collin to step in...

So here we go:

1. It's midnight during one of the hottest summers on record. You gaze up into the sky and...suddenly...every star turns blue and the moon turns red. What does that mean? (This prompt from me.)

2. What is your favorite trick or trap? Does it come with instructions? (This one from Collin)

3. Soon, the Summer Solstice will be upon us. How do you plan to spend it? (Also from Collin)

Well, thanks to Collin I have some prompts to submit. I happen to like the prompt about the summer solstice. That's because it's always been very mysterious to me. And I just love a mystery!

So what do creatures like Collin do on the summer solstice? Well...maybe they do one of the following:

1. Light a bonfire. Collin tells me he likes to be in Norway this time of year. Apparently there's a contest for the tallest bonfire. He notes that in 2016 the people of Norway set a blaze that was 155.5 feet. He also notes another record was broken in 2019 in Austria, but he didn't see that one. He was busy in Norway stealing stuff from people.

2. Celebrate at Stonehenge. Also from Collin. He tells me that although this is a great idea it's also become a little cliche. He's already been to Stonehenge 75 or so times, and he points out there's really nothing new. But let me remind Collin that I have never been to Stonehenge, so cliche or not, I'd like to see it and celebrate the Summer Solstice.

3. Enjoy a midnight baseball game. Now this is interesting. And by the way, it's a fact I found. Collin didn't know about this. Anyway, the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks, Alaska play baseball on the eve of the summer solstice. The game begins at 10:00 p.m. and lasts well into the following morning. And apparently there's no need to light the stadium because the sun is up throughout the night. Collin really likes this idea so he's off to book a trip!

Here's one more thing about the summer solstice. This year, in 2020, the solstice happens on June 20th at 2:44 p.m. here in California. I will be looking toward the sun. And honestly, who knows where Collin will be!
May 27, 2020 at 6:29am
May 27, 2020 at 6:29am
PROMPT May 27th

If your life were a song, 1) what genre would it be, 2) who would sing it, and 3) would it be a hit?

My life is not so much a song as it is a reality show. People have told me that for a long time. Drama, intrigue, mystery, adventure, comedy, romance, and a little bit of vigilante justice all mixed into one. And it isn't because I go looking for all these crazy things to pop into my life. It's the fact, or maybe I should say phenomenon, that they keep finding me. Of course I've always looked at life as a great adventure. Smiles and tears, joy and grief. It's all in there. And I know I'm supposed to be the director of the show, but dang if that doesn't always turn out. Are my escapades worthy of an academy award? Well, yes, some of them are indeed worthy of a gold statue. Are some just plain duds that need to be thrown into the recycle bin? Well, yes, that's true too. One thing I can say for sure is that the reality show called my life is always full of comedy and drama. It's just the way it is.

BUT...if my life were a song? Gosh, there are so many to choose from! The rolodex in my brain can only hold so many titles before it's full. And what about all the music I haven't heard? I'm not sure my brain could hold all of it. Some lovely, some jazzy, some happy, some sad, some crazy. How could I even choose?

At the end of the day, I'd have to say my life would be rock and roll. From the 80's. The kind that makes you snap your fingers and follow along. The kind that makes you move your hips. And your shoulders. The kind that makes you want to stay forever in the song. The kind that's honest and true. The kind that makes a reality show worth living.

And yes, my song would be a hit.
May 26, 2020 at 10:51am
May 26, 2020 at 10:51am
PROMPT May 26th

Complete the following sentence: When I’m in the mood to celebrate, nothing can stop me from ___________.

When I'm in the mood to celebrate nothing can stop me from doing exactly that. If I'm celebrating then I'm celebrating. Anything from big parties to small wins during the day. I think it's important to celebrate. Keeps a positive flow of energy around. Besides, it's just plain fun.

I have loved every kind of celebration my entire life. What's my favorite? Most people would think Christmas or Easter or even my birthday. But they would be wrong. I know it sounds corny but my favorite time to celebrate is Halloween. I LOVE Halloween and I love autumn and I love the cooler days and I love the scents and the colors and the spices and the food. I love the decorations and the costumes and the tricks and practically everything else about Halloween. I DO NOT like any of the dark, macabre, or evil things about Halloween. I just love the fun stuff.

One year as I was decorating I decided to play a little joke. We had a statue of St. Francis of Assisi set aside. He needed a major repair before we could put him back out in the garden. He'd been broken during the move we made from Paradise to Antelope. His head came clean off. And it was truly a clean break. I love that statue and I stood looking at him for a time. Then I got an idea.

I took the headless St. Francis and put him outside in the front yard. Now if you're familiar with any statue of St. Francis then you know that he stands with one arm and hand outstretched. There's supposed to be a bird sitting in his hand. But we didn't have the bird. So...I took St. Francis' head and placed it in his outstretched hand! I called him St. John the Baptist!

Some people got the joke but others didn't. Too bad because I thought it was hilarious. Since then, though, St. Francis of Assisi has been repaired with his head securely atop his shoulders and he sits proudly at our front door.
May 25, 2020 at 11:05am
May 25, 2020 at 11:05am
PROMPT May 25th

What is the most useless skill you have? The most valuable?

Collin pulled a rusty tin box from the bottom drawer of his dresser. Once painted in beautiful colors and images, the box was now faded and dull. Collin could barely tell the greens from the blues and the reds from the oranges. But that really didn't matter. Because rusty or not the box was important. It held all the money Collin had to spend until the next time one of his tricks or traps paid off.

He lifted the top and peered into the box. Only a few coins lay at the bottom. No bills. No paper. No other currency. Just a few coins. And with prices skyrocketing all over those few coins wouldn't go very far. He snorted and ran a nasty fingernail under his nose. He blinked a few times and noticed some dandruff float down to the box. He tapped another long nasty nail against the side of his cheek. He had to think. And he had to think about thought. And think he did. Until...

The light bulb blinked on and he knew what to do. He'd get a job! It wasn't THAT bad. He'd find something easy and then swindle his boss for all the money he could. Yes, that was it!

But first, he needed to find such a job. And to find such a job he needed to write a new resume. One that was current and made him look good. And to write a new resume he needed to highlight his skills. What skills did he have? Collin rolled his eyes from right to left and then sat with his thoughts on the skills he possessed. What exactly were the most valuable?

Well, he could perform a little magic. But not much. He never really developed the skill except for a time or two when he needed it the most. He could play tricks and he could set traps. He could lie, cheat and steal. He could swindle and scam. Yes, he could do all of those with exceptional skill. But honestly, who would hire him with a talent set like that? Not anyone Collin knew.

So Collin did what he did best. He thought of the opposite of every skill he possessed. Yes! That's what he'd put on his resume. Because THAT would get him a job. He'd write it all down. He'd look like a catch. He'd get hired immediately, and in no time he'd have the money he craved. He'd write down things like "Standard - no magic at all". And he'd write "No trickery. No traps. Completely honest. Never a cheat." And all kinds of stuff like that. And one more thing he'd write to set it in stone. He'd write that he was "Totally and Honestly 100% True Blue". Now THAT should get him a job with a boss he could swindle.

Collin wrote as fast as he could. And with one last giggle and snarf he flew out his door with his new resume in hand. He knew it would be only a very short time before he was tricking and trapping and swindling once more. But this time he'd get paid and fill up his box. His skills would pay off.
May 24, 2020 at 12:05pm
May 24, 2020 at 12:05pm
PROMPT May 24th

Write about something awkward or embarrassing that happened in public - it can be something that happened to you, or something you witnessed happen to somebody else. How did they react?

I'd really like to start this story with, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." but that would be plagiarism, right? So I'll just start this crazy story the usual way...

A long time ago, when Spouse and I were newly married, we were driving home just before dusk. We took the "scenic" route, which wasn't so scenic at all. A long hot highway with a blinding glare from the sun. It paralleled the after-bay of Lake Oroville, in good old Oroville, CA. Not the prettiest, nor the richest by any means, but the lake has always been beautiful. Boating, fishing, lounging, you name it. People flock to Lake Oroville.

Anyway, I had just opened my eyes from a short nap. Yes, car rides put me right to sleep. If I'm not driving then I'm sleeping. Can't help it. I've always been like that. So, I opened my eyes and glanced to the after-bay. Spouse and I both saw a flock of birds alight gracefully and elegantly into the sky. Their flight was magnificent. Framed against the setting sun it almost appeared as if shadows were dancing off the lake.

Spouse said, "Look, the mallards are taking off."

Now this observation could have led to some intelligent, even romantic conversation between us. Instead, my brain decided to take a trip to Stupidville, and out of my mouth came the dumbest thing I've ever said in my life. "Don't be silly, Spouse, ducks don't fly." Yes, that actually came out of my mouth. A cultured, refined, college educated woman of the 20th century. So dumb.

Spouse looked at me with his mouth agape. We nearly swerved off the highway. He almost couldn't speak. He could only ask in surprise, "Are you serious? Do you really think that?"

Of course I didn't think that! I don't know why my mouth said that. I don't know what my brain was thinking. Obviously there was a disconnect somewhere. I finally realized my error and tried to back-pedal. But to no avail. The stupid thing was said and Spouse would spend the next 40 years repeating it to everyone.

"Don't be silly. Ducks don't fly." Well, of course they fly. In graceful, elegant formation across the after-bay of beautiful Lake Oroville. Yes, they do fly.

May 23, 2020 at 11:39am
May 23, 2020 at 11:39am
PROMPT May 23rd

What is something you like to do that other people might think is “weird?”

Weird? Practically everything I do is weird. For me, weird is actually a state of normal. Am I the only person out there like that? I don't think so. But weird is weird. The weirdest thing I like to do? Well, that's a pretty easy one for me. I love to visit cemeteries.

Okay, don't cringe. Morbid, and yes, weird, but cemeteries are full of stories. I find my best characters there! Taking the time to read the headstones gives me a sense of what life was like for that person. And it gives me a sense of what the times were like. And it makes me wonder who will read my headstone one day.

And cemeteries can be very peaceful...during the day. And only during the day. I never want to find myself in a cemetery at night. Even dusk is too late. Just gives me the creeps and the heebiejeebies (however you spell THAT word). Can't help it. Sometimes there's too much energy, both good and bad, and I'm sensitive to that. So it's daylight only for me!

Most of all I think cemeteries remind me that each of us is here for only a short time. And we must make the best of it. And when we're gone our headstone tells the story of our life. What we accomplished. What we didn't. A look into how we lived. A look into what was and still is important for all of us humans. Not to be preachy or melodramatic. It is what it is.

So most people would call it weird, but for me visiting a cemetery is considered a fun romp for the day. And only the day...
May 22, 2020 at 11:49am
May 22, 2020 at 11:49am
PROMPT May 22nd

Music often has the ability to remind us of old memories. In your entry today, be inspired by a specific piece of music or a musical instrument. What feelings/emotions does the music or instrument stir in you? Share a specific memory your chosen song or instrument reminds you of.

This weekend is the Memorial Day weekend, and unofficially marks the beginning of summer here in the United States. Fanfare and celebrations all around. Boating, picnics, parties, ceremonies and military pomp and circumstance. Because I come from a military family this is an important holiday for me.

Aside from all the ceremonies and celebrations I have always watched the National Memorial Day Concert broadcast from the East Coast. I love the stories, performances, and documentary footage. Mostly I love the music. It's powerful and uplifting, and brings my American heritage to life.

They tend to play a lot of the same pieces each year, but that's okay with me. I look forward to my favorites. And speaking of that, my all-time favorite movement is Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland. This anthem literally brings me to tears. For some reason it moves me in a way that a lot of other music doesn't. Now I love all kinds of music. Music is in my heart. But Fanfare resides deep within my soul. Melodramatic I know, but it's true. I just love that piece. And I look forward to it each year.

But this year? I'm not sure. There's talk of performing the concert virtually...but...although I appreciate the efforts it just won't be the same. At least I don't think it'll be the same. Who knows? But at the end of the day I can always stream it from You Tube.

Here's to Memorial Day and the unofficial opening of summer. Coronavirus or not, let's celebrate and have a great cry with Fanfare for the Common Man.
May 21, 2020 at 11:17am
May 21, 2020 at 11:17am
PROMPT May 21st

Not including your phone, computer, or other Googling device, write about the top five most useful items you own.

Collin splashed a little cream into his tea and stirred it with his crooked spoon. He peered out the big picture window of his cottage. Well, it was the only window Collin had, and it was smeared with dirt and grime. But Collin had rubbed a spot clear. One that was big enough for him to see the world outside. There was a lot to see! The trees and foliage were all overgrown and taking over the yard at a quickening pace. The flowers were fading and gasping for water. Some even lay dying in brown brittle heaps. The little path to his cottage was quite a mess with weeds sprouting everywhere and gravel kicked aside. Collin sighed because his yard screamed for some care. But when would that be? Collin didn't know. Really didn't care.

But as Collin sighed some more and splashed more cream into his tea his beady little eyes spotted the flag on his post box. It was up! There was mail to be had! So Collin threw down is spoon and raced out for the mail. There was only one piece but Collin hugged it to his chest. Then ran back inside to open his prize.

And there...there before him was a glorious prize. Collin's eyes brightened as he read through the letter. A survey! Collin loved surveys! And with a little laugh and a kick of his heels he tore through his cottage in search of a pen. And when seated again in little chair at the little table in front of the big picture window with its dirt and grime, Collin lowered his head and tucked into the survey.

It was a simple survey of course, but Collin tapped his head and gave it a thought before he answered the one question the survey contained. Five useful items it wanted to know. And yes, Collin did know. He knew exactly what items he would note. Well, four of them at least. He'd have to think of the fifth. But he picked up his pen and scribbled his list:

1. Me Walking Stick. That's number one. It helps with me knees. After 300 years me knees tend to give out.

2. Ah! The Little Bag of Charms I keep close to meself. Comes in handy for a trick or a trap.

3. The Spell Book my Ma gave me as I went out on me own. Haven't used it but once but it's important to me.

4. Oooooo...The Cloak I stole from Dylan 50 or more years ago. It keeps me hidden when I need it the most.

5. Hmmmmm....now that takes some thinking and some serious thought. Hmmm...but...Of course! It's me noggin! It's crafty and sly. And it keeps me in profit with my tricks or my traps.

Collin put down his pen and read what he wrote. Yes, he was satisfied and gave a shake of his head. He stuffed the survey into the return envelope that came with a stamp, and then race out to the post box and shoved it in. He closed the door of the box and lifted the flag. Then he marched back inside to finish his tea. And hope beyond hope he'd find another the next day.

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