The Blog Propellant Redux #6

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need.

Write a post based on the following prompt. Fiction, poetry, or even a true story! When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! The point is this: Share creativity.


This week’s prompt (based on an actual event):

A driver, driving through a familiar neighborhood of houses and condominiums, comes upon the completely out-of-place site of a two-tiered semi for car transport parked in the left-turn median. The truck is full of newer models of various cars. Nothing cheap, but nothing special. A generic, new-ish model sedan with its hazards flashing is stopped behind the tractor/trailer. What catches the driver’s attention is the young man standing on the sidewalk, taking pictures with his phone of the sedan. Another young man walks over to give the man a pat on the shoulder. The truck driver, who is also standing on the sidewalk, flicks his cigarette into the street and walks back to the truck’s cab.


HAVE A HAPPY, and without saying, SAFE HALLOWEEN!

The Blog Propellant Redux #5

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need. Once a week (or maybe once every other week) on this blog, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or maybe a new one.

Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a true story. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! Then all those who read this post will have a link to your post. And, all that read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers.


This week’s prompt:

I’ve been looking back over all my old prompts and I forgot how many Picture Prompts I posted. So, this week is a throwback to those prompts. Three images from which to select. Bonus points if you can identify the one used before!



In a French Villa

Abigail and Bailey hailed an airport cab and handed the cabby the note written in French with directions and the address of their paternal grandparents’ villa in Beaumont-sur-Oise.

“I hope Aunt Rachel wrote down the right sur-Oise town,” Bailey whispered to her sister. “I looked on a map and there’s a bunch of them.”

The cabby locked eyes with both women in his rear-view mirror. Not certain if Baily’s comment offended the cabby, the sisters remained silent for the remainder of the trip.

The drive through the Parisian suburbs eventually gave way to open fields, contained villages and homes dotted along the way in between. Finally, the cab slowed and took a right turn.

“Mesdames, c’est l’adresse. C’est beau, oui?” the cabby said.

The villa was just as described. A large multi-storied structure built by their great grandparents a hundred years ago, it looked like something out of a gothic novel. It had been vacant a while but was otherwise in good shape.

“This is where daddy grew up? Wow.”

“Far cry from our home, huh?”

—————–

“What’s all this stuff?”

Bailey stood in a corner room on the top floor, lit by a single floor lamp and small a porthole window under the eave. She stared at a wall of cardboard boxes covered in dust and cobwebs. She could not make out the writing.

“What stuff?” Abigail called back from somewhere down the hall.

“All these boxes. I can’t read the writing.”

Abigail came into the room and tried reading the writing, too.  “Well, it’s not French. Dad said his grandparents were from Belgium…so, Flemish maybe? Must be things of theirs.”

“Should we, what…open them? See what’s in them first?”

Abigail grabbed a box and pulled. Dust showered down, filling the room in a fog and subjecting Bailey to a fit of sneezing.

“This one’s got clothes, looks like,” Abigail said as she pulled garments out and dropped them on the floor.  

Bailey held up the garments, one by one. “They look vintage, for sure. Hey!” She held a military jacket up to her chest. “It looks like a woman’s uniform.”

 “Are those medals?” Abigail asked, pointing. Bailey flipped the coat around to look.

“Yeah, I guess.”

Abigail turned her attention back to the open box. She held up a small brass object. It was scalloped shaped with a hinged lid and a handle. The top was decorated with beading and filigree. Something rattled loosely around inside. She opened the lid and took out a pearl and gold beaded bracelet.

“Pretty,” Bailey said. “Anything else in it?”

“No, that’s it. Is this a box, or a, what?”  Abigail held the object this way and that. She put the bracelet back into its curious container.

Bailey reached into the cardboard box and took out a book and a pair of pink ballet toe shoes. “Ever hear of a dancer in the family?”

“Yeah, remember? Grandpa used to tell stories about his sister, the ballerina. She was with some famous company in Paris. Hobnobbed with famous people. What’s the book?”

“It’s in French.”

“Give it here,” Abigail gestured. Baily handed over the book.

“It says, Letters from the Earth. Oh! It’s by Mark Twain. Huh.”

“I know that book. Had to read it in college. I thought all this stuff was generations old. What’s it doing in the box?”

Abigail opened the cover. “It has an inscription…” she silently mouthed the French words. “It says, To Adrian, uh, que ce livre vous aide à comprendre la nature du deuil. Something about grief. Nature of grief. Doesn’t say who wrote the note.”

“We have a cousin named Adrian. Somewhere here in France.”

“Yeah. Huh.”

The last two items in the box were a broken teacup and a framed photo. “Oh, my god, Abigail, look!”

Bailey held out the photo to her sister. A woman in the same military jacket they found in the box posed with a rifle. “Those are the same four medals, look!”

“She looks like Aunt Rachel, doesn’t she?”

“Wow. You think that’s our great grandmother? Was she a soldier? What army? I thought women weren’t allowed in the army.”

Abigail pried open the frame, pulled out the photo and flipped it over. “A message to a Lucas.  It’s in Flemish, I bet. I can’t read it.”

“Who’s Lucas?”


In response to Objects in a Box writing prompt

Stage Stop, California

It’s autumn now. The overnight temperatures have dropped to just above freezing and the mountain sides seen from the small town of Stage Stop, California, are dotted in bright yellow, red and orange.

Located in the Klamath National Forest, Stage Stop recorded 102 year-round residents in the last census, which included Roddy Zahn, his wife Zelda (Zany Zelda Zahn, as she is called by the locals) and their eldest daughter May (short for Mayflower, because Zelda swears both she and Roddy have family they can trace back to the pilgrims). The three are the current owners of The Black Horse Inn and Tavern, a hotel and eatery built in 1834 by Irish immigrant Ephraim Jonas McComber.

Stage Stop is the only civilized base in the region for outdoor enthusiasts who partake in all the hiking, camping, river rafting and mountaineering the Klamath National Forest has to offer. It’s a great place from which to launch an adventure into the wilderness, or a sort of resort town to recoup afterward. Roddy and Zelda bought The Black Horse in 1983, right before the publication of the memoir by a well-known mountain guide, titled “Meet Me at The Black Horse.” It became a bestseller and put The Black Horse and the town of Stage Stop on the proverbial map. For the next three decades, the whole region flourished as a result.

Then, about 10 or so years ago, the droughts took hold. Popular hiking trails and campgrounds were routinely closed due to fire hazards. Winter and spring remained okay. The visitors still came around. But the rest of the year, the busiest time, business dropped way off. Even those who built vacation homes in the area all but abandoned their places, opting to go to the coast instead.

Roddy, Zelda and May made the most of the changing circumstances by turning a section of the building in The Black Horse into a sort of hostile for wildfire crews and park volunteers. Then came 2020, with its double-whammy of COVID-19 and constant wildfires, one after the other. The Zahns cancelled what few reservations they had and turned The Black Horse into an evacuee, park ranger, first responder and volunteer’s boarding house. The rangers set up a make-shift office in the back corner of the dining room next to Cal Fire’s relay desk. The evacuees created a similar set up in one of the rooms on the top floor where folks could sit at a desk to use a computer, make a call or fill out paperwork.

No one is a guest, at least not in the typical sense. They help the Zahns prepare and serve meals, as well as help with the laundry and housekeeping. A group of park volunteers cleared out the parking lot on either side to make more room for all the cars, trucks, and trailers people arrived in, as well as for the responders’ large vehicles and equipment. One of the Bridal Suites was turned over to make a quiet room and nursery for the very little kids. A couple of families helped a local rancher build a makeshift kennel and corral for the various pets and farm animals that came along with folks, or somehow found their way to Stage Stop on their own. The Cal Fire folks even worked a deal with the state and the Red Cross to get better satellite service and supplies like, pens and paper, diapers, food, bottled water and clothing.

The Black Horse may look more like a refugee camp these days than a quaint nineteenth century inn in the middle of national forest country, but as Roddy, Zelda and May see it, a rising tide will lift all boats. If they can share their good fortune with those in need, then those in need will maybe not need anymore.


Prompts this week from Unofficial Online Writer’s Guild are: What I write; rising tides lift all boats; I’ll be at the Black Horse Tavern


I cut the following out because it wasn’t necessary to the story above. “Murder your darlings,” as the writerly saying goes. But I enjoyed writing it, so decided to post it separately:

Stage Stop was settled on a stagecoach line that once fed into the famous Butterfield Overland trail from San Francisco to St. Louis. Life in Stage Stop in those days was dictated by the hour: The stage to Yreka left The Black Horse Inn and Tavern precisely at 1:30pm. At 9:00pm, a returning coach arrived across town at The White Horse Saloon. In between those times, folks went about their business getting ready for the next departure or arrival.

Times changed and trains took over as the preferred mode of transportation. For forty or so years, a single track lead a twice-weekly train in and out of Stage Stop. The White Horse, located nearby, changed its name to The Iron Horse during those years, and though it was closest to the terminus, The Black Horse remained the preferred lodging. The owner of The Black Horse at the time, a former Canadian fur trader named August DuBois, used one of the former stagecoaches to taxi patrons to and from the train platform, which, as the story goes, was a bone of contention for the owner of The Iron Horse. The many ways the competing owners tried to poach each other’s patrons are well documented in the town’s history files.

Then came the automobile. Gravel from a nearby quarry still in operation was used to pave over the deep wagon wheel ruts left from the stagecoach days, though it didn’t make it all that easier to drive a vehicle over. A couple of locals took to laying out two long sheets of wood planks in front of the tires of a vehicle, then drive the vehicles over the planks, stopping when it rolled off the wood, and repeat the whole process again, until, hours later, they reach the main road. It gave the townsfolk the idea to build a sort-of promenade over the road, which worked for a while, but proved to be expensive and labor intensive to maintain. Fortunately, the train still came up the mountain, but only once a week now, and only a couple of times in winter, weather permitting.

Suffice it to say, everyone welcomed the first asphalt paving crew when the State finally deemed the region worthy of such a luxury. Everyone turned out to welcome the crew, as if was a Founder’s Day parade. And the advent of a paved road marked the final run of the train. Somewhere, someone has an 8mm home movie of the last train to pull out of Stage Stop, rolling off into the distance like the end of some old Western. They used to run it on a video loop at the Ranger’s Visitor’s Center for years.

Getting to and from Stage Stop was an ordeal in automobiles, prone to overheating as they once were. Couple that with the end of mining, logging, and hunting for material gain, and by the 1950s, Stage Stop transformed from tiny, busy nineteenth century regional hub to a mostly isolated mountain community. Regardless the improvement in car engines in recent decades, if you aren’t located near the Interstate, then you are nowhere. And the people of Stage Stop have been just fine with that for the past seventy some-odd years.

What has kept the town alive has been the generations of visitors looking to escape the city. Not only is that old stagecoach route passable now, they can hike or mountain bike in to town from Yreka along the old rail line, the tracks now removed, leaving a solid, clear trail they named The Iron Horse Trail. A little cottage industry centered around summer and winter vacationers grew into a decent economy, and Stage Stop was ordained a “gateway,” as the state touted it, to the “wild and wonderful wilderness of Klamath National Forest.”

The Blog Propellant Redux #4

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need. Once a week on this blog, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or maybe a new one.

Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a photo post. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! Then all those who read this post will have a link to your post. And, all that read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers.


This week’s prompt:

Objects in a Box: Write a post about the five things below you/your character find in a box.

  • A framed photo of an unknown woman in a WWII military uniform with 4 medals on her uniform holding a rifle.
  • A very worn pair of pink ballet slippers.
  • A cracked ceramic mug
  • A copy of the novel “Letters from the Earth” by Mark Twain with a handwritten note in an unfamiliar language on the inside cover.
  • A small, strange decorative brass box shaped somewhat like a clover, with a hinged lid and a three-inch panhandle

The Fork in the Road at Ralph and Dorothy’s

Casandra curled up in a blanket on the rocking chair on the front porch of her great-grandparent’s home. Their Labrador Retriever sauntered over with a shy tail wag, fishing for a pat on the head and settling down at her feet after its request was met.   

The cool, gray October morning’s only bright spot was the cluster of golden-leaved trees in the front yard. Birds called to one another as they darted back and forth, a cozy sight that Casandra found consoling after so many years of living in the heart of a loud and chaotic downtown. In the distance, the hum of traffic on the freeway reminded her that, in spite of the pandemic, the world was still in motion; still breathing.

The front door opened and a tray with a coffee mug and a bowl of oatmeal appeared, presented by the ever-smiling person of Casandra’s great-grandfather, Ralph.

“It ain’t fancy, but it’ll warm you up.”

Still a very tall man at 98 years, Great Ralph, as Casandra and her siblings and cousins called him, defied the notion that aging was a debilitating process. He was healthy, fit and full of energy.

“Is that bacon I smell?” Casandra asked as she eyed the tray.

“Grams insists we have the full breakfast spread this morning to celebrate the end of your quarantine but didn’t want you to wait, out here in the cold. Wanted to get you started with something hot.”

Casandra unwrapped an arm from her blanket and took a spoonful of the oatmeal. Plain, unsweetened and without milk, probably the instant variety, but gratifyingly warm, as promised. She unwrapped the other arm and took the coffee mug in both hands up to her nose, breathing in the rich smell of roasted beans before taking a sip.

“A girl could get used to all this service, ya know.”

“Best room service in the country, no doubt!”

“I can’t thank you guys enough for letting me stay here.”

“Enough of that. We’re here for you, and all you kids. We’re fortunate we can still help in any way we can. We’re just so happy you reached out!”

“Well, again, thanks. So much. I’m sorry the quarantine thing has been so weird.”

“It’s so damned strange to not be able to touch people. Give a hug! And staying in the guestroom like that? You could have come out, you know. Seemed a ridiculous business.” Ralph said.

“I’d never forgive myself if I brought the virus into your house. It’s the only way to make sure.”

“Well, let’s not worry anymore about that,” Ralph leaned forward and gave Casandra a kiss on the forehead. She smiled at Ralph and then turned to the opened front door.

“Grams? You need help in there?”

“No, no, honey,” the distant voice of her great grandmother Dorothy replied. “You keep visiting.”

“She remembered her hearing aid!” Ralph chuckled.

Dorothy stepped onto the porch with a thermos and another mug. Quick on her feet with an equally charming smile as Ralph’s, Dorothy was in as much defiance of her advanced age as her husband. They were quite the pair, Ralph and Dorothy. Always grinning and laughing, as if nothing could ever phase them, and still very much in love. It was a mystery to Casandra how people like her great-grandparents managed to make the happily-ever-after thing actually work.

 Dorothy handed Ralph the mug and topped Casandra’s coffee off from the thermos. “You certainly are a night owl, sweetie”, she said.

“I like working at night, I guess. In the city, nighttime is the best time. It’s quiet. I’m sorry if I kept you up, though!”

“No, no,” Dorothy shook her head, “not at all. I just noticed your light on when I get up to use the bathroom, is all. Well,” Dorothy continued, “I’m going to finish up in there. How ‘bout you two come in in a bit, OK?”

An easy silence passed between Casandra and Ralph as they drank their coffees. It felt good to Casandra to just sit still without the worry that she should be somewhere else doing something else. She allowed the dog to finish her oatmeal.

“Don’t tell Grams,” Ralph teased.

“Great Ralph, do you mind if my plans are still indefinite?”

“Of course not. Love having another person around the place. Been kinda lonely these past months, just me and Grams. But, don’t they don’t need you at work?”

Casandra shook her head. “No, still have a work-from-home-until-further-notice order.”

The two sipped their coffee, again in silence. Ralph fidgeted in his chair and cleared his throat.

“Honey, you know you can tell us anything,” he finally ventured. “Of course, your folks are worried about you, but we wouldn’t betray your confidence.”

Casandra watched the dog lick the oatmeal bowl clean, avoiding Ralph’s gaze. She knew she owed her great grandparents a full explanation in return for their generosity, especially given the risk they took that she might be one of those with the virus and not know it.

“Garrett’s OK, he’s just not…It’s not like he’s a total jerk. I made mistakes, too.” Casandra gaged Ralph’s reaction. He only offered the same smile he perpetually wore. “Coming here, I know it’s like running away, but, the past two weeks, holed up in the guestroom, no distractions? It’s forced me to take stock. To be honest, I don’t know if it was lust or love. I mean, it was something. We care about each other, I guess. Anyway, I’ve thought it through and I’ve decided he can keep the condo and all our stuff. He can even keep the cat, if it comes to that. I just need a fresh start.”

“My darling girl…” Ralph began, when Dorothy interrupted, calling for them to get a move-on before breakfast got cold. As they stood to go, Ralph held Casandra back.

“My girl, if you have to ask that question, ‘bout whether it’s this or that? Then the answer is plain as the nose on my face. Now, Grams and I have no problem you staying here as long as you like. We’ll get a desk up in the attic for you and Grams will make the guestroom all yours. Besides, it’ll give me a legit reason to get internet cable installed, which will finally get everyone off my back!  No, you take all the time you need. In fact, why don’t you just plan to stay through Christmas. That’ll make Grams so happy!”


A couple weeks’ of prompts: The dog in you; rocking chair; night-time is the best time to work; the world breathing; it ain’t gonna be pretty; lust or love, plus the image I found online.

https://aooga.wordpress.com/2020/10/04/olwg-175-the-girl-from-oscuro/

The Blog Propellant Redux #3

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need. Once a week on this blog, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or maybe a new one.

Write a post! Fiction, poetry, even a photo post. When you are done, include the URL address of this post in your post. Simple! Then all those who read this post will have a link to your post. And, all that read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers.


This week’s prompt:

The “Four Food Groups” of a sentence game was fun! How to play: Create your own prompt by mixing/matching one phrase from each column. Example: On a ski trip, a deceitful novelist accidentally reveals a secret.

Sometimes, you’re gonna have to own up to your mother

Not even the poets could put a shine on this situation, mm-mm. I understand you and believe you aren’t lying. Your sincerity is a good thing, honey, and you have always been honest, almost to a fault, but you can be sincere and still be stupid.

Now, here’s the thing. Nothing you learned in school from those rocket scientists, in the long run, is going to deliver you from this. It may be sunny southern California, with its beaches and Hollywood la-di-da, but shady people are anywhere you go. You are old enough to know this. You must know this sort of crap happens all the time, to good people as well as bad, right?

No, you’re wrong. There’s no other way to see something that should be as plain as the nose on your face. Sorry kiddo.

Call it quits. Hm? Walk away and leave the whole thing in the gutter where it belongs. Come home, apologize to Dad, and move on. Rise above it.


Three weeks’ worth of prompts, rolled into one:
throw it in the gutter; learned in school; long term; the nose on his face; can’t there be another way?; rocket boys; you can be sincere and still be stupid; sunny place/shady people; not even the poets

https://aooga.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/olwg-156-the-pavilion/

The Blog Propellant Redux #2

I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent. It was a lot of fun and these days, fun is what we need. Once a week on this blog, I will repost former TBP or WP prompts, or present a new one.

Readers have two choices: Re-post your former response, or create a new post. The thing is, it is all about writing, so, whatever you decide … edit or create!

When you are done, include the URL address of this post at the end of your post. Simple! Then all those who read this post will have a link to your post. And, all that read your post will have a link this one. More readers = more followers.


This week’s prompt:

Think of a time that you/your character let something slide, only for it to eat away at you/your character later. Tell us how you/your character would fix it today. Write a fictional story, or a tale based on actual facts, or a poem in any form you wish.

Welcome to LRose Weekly Prompts

Long ago and far away… around 2012… I used to maintain a writing prompt blog called The Blog Propellent.

(Drum Roll, Please…)

TBP is back!

Once a week on this blog, I will “repost” former TBP or WP prompts

(Yeah! the crowd roars)

Readers have two (that’s 2…) choices: Re-post your former response to the posts, or create a new post. The thing is, it is all about writing, so, whatever you decide … edit or write!

When you are done, include the URL address of this post at the end of your post. Simple! Then all those who read this post will have a link to your post. Here’s why that is important: More readers = more followers (so they tell us).


THE PROMPT:

Dig through your couch cushions, purse, wallet, pants pocket, loose change jar, or the floor of your car, blah, blah, blah, and note the year printed on the first coin you find.

Nonfiction: Tell us the story of you or your family or friends that year.

Fiction: Tell us what you think you, your friends, family, associates, or your neighbors were doing that year.

Poetry: Seriously? You have to ask?