Ye Olde Ennui (Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest #2)

“Space: the midlife-crisis frontier.”

“Oh, Nose Bender, you were as bored as I.”

The long-faced android spared 1.356 seconds on his companion before returning to navigation.

“Not that we’ve seen much diversion,” the human assented, “But-”

*Pew!* *Whoosh!* A flash of light and jarring of stabilizers drew both to the porthole. There, defying taste and physics, wobbled a space-worthy Merchantman.

“Avast, ye dogs!” cackled over their speakers. “I be the Heartbreak Kid. Prepare to be-”

Android and man exchanged glances.

“…Thee next contestant on ‘The Plank is Right!'”

“It appears, Captain Bodacious,” his companion noted, “You have your diversion.”

—–

Typed and entered for Carrot Ranch‘s third Rodeo Contest: pirate game show with three specific bull names. I’m not sure why they were also in space, but why not add one more thing to 99 words?

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Young Will for Prezident (Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest #1)

They say Young Will came tearin’ into this here world like a bolt a thunder. His mama woulda agreed; ‘ceptin’ she’d add that he were more like bulls through china once his legs growed and ‘e started runnin’.

And run Will did! He just about run everyplace -walls notwithstandin’.

No; nothing or nobody stood in his way. I reckon that’s why ‘e didn’t ‘llow somethin’ as teensy as impossible to slow ‘im. When ‘e heard anyone could be prezident, he went right home and ‘nnounced he were next.

That’s why, on ‘nauguration day, his mama was the least surprized.

—–

Type and entered for Carrot Ranch‘s first Rodeo Contest: tall tale.

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Ellie’s End: My Winning Entry

Last year, I helped judge one of the contests for Carrot Ranch. Reading through the entrants taught me two things:

  1. People don’t read instructions very well.
  2. More people ought to enter!

I therefore challenged myself to enter all of the contests Charli posed for 2019. Imagine my surprise when she posted one of my stories as a finalist. I thought I’d place in all of them!

In all seriousness, entering contests is difficult and subjective and …wait. You all know this because of my Terrible Poetry thingie every week. Charli knows. A superhuman in her own right, she posted a spot-on description of writing, contests, revisions, and letdown.

Read it.

Oh, and here is my ONE entry that ‘won.’ I’ll schedule one contest entry for each of the following days, now that we’re allowed to.

—–

Ellie prided herself on her independence. Nothing, no one could affect her -certainly not internet whispers or radio station warnings.

She left for work with her earbuds in. She returned to her lonely apartment in the same way. She never listened to the wind, the silenced birds, nor the ever-increasing beeping of impending doom.

In fact, one might say that Ellie was the least prepared for the aliens when they came. No matter -hers was a quick and painless death, immediately decomposing in the stomach of Earth’s attackers. It was those silly survivalists who dragged out humanity’s inevitable demise.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Dice Store: Things I’ve Learned from Online Retail

I shambled down to work in our online dice store this morning. There they sat: shelf after shelf of opaque, transparent, swirled, pearlized, and speckled.

Pearlized Gold and Black 4 Sided Dice

Above the desk hung the Reaper miniatures.

Kieron, Ranger

Upon the far wall and beneath the regular d4 through d60 dice nestled our specialty sets, like stone or crystal-shaped.

16mm Solid Metal Dice

And I knew where they all were.

Mostly.

I recalled those days when we first purchased the website, and did not have such order. Instead, we pawed through plastic bags we’d heaped on a spare bookcase and shelf in the barely-lit basement. We often purchased a grab bag of dice from our main supplier, then spent ‘family time’ sorting through a giant pile.

Those dice would then need to have their picture taken and be entered into the computer. This proved a wasteful process overall, since the dice were often leftovers from product runs that the manufacturer would not continue to make.

It’s only taken me a decade, but I feel I’m starting to get the hang of the dice store. In fact, today I thought to create a Top Ten List of Things I’ve Learned:

  1. I have no idea what our customers do with their dice, but almost all of them have awesome e-mail addresses.
    “What do people use the dice for?” is a common question I’m asked. The honest truth is that I don’t know. I assume sets are for gaming, odd dice are for gaming, and …well, the expensive sorts are for gaming. See? No idea.
    Clear Red Double 12 Sided Dice
    No matter what they use their dice for, though, our clientele are clearly awesome people. Even back when most people had e-mail addresses for business purposes only, I noticed our customers favored epic varieties.
  2. Shipping costs money.
    From the boxes to the filler to the cost of shipment itself, we usually break about even or at a loss. Most people assume we’re gouging them (thanks, Amazon) by charging a flat rate of $4.95, but the smallest-sized package pays the United States Postal Service around $3.
    A word of advice if you suspect gouging: buy more if you can or need to. You’ll get the most value for the shipment cost.
  3. Companies (like ours) do get discounts on supplies, shipments, and products.
    When regular humans buy anything at a store, they pay retail cost. Places like Wal-mart don’t pay the same as their customers; the most common markup is double the wholesale price. Therein the profit lies, yes?
    Whenever I think of all the hands a product travels through from factory to retailer, I mentally tack on what each ‘hand’ charges. It’s sickening sometimes.
  4. China is cheating.
    This could be a post in itself. With the success of Kickstarter, many amateur businesses post ideas for dice designs and then arrange for companies in China to make them. China, in turn, spams out e-mails to businesses like ours, offering those products to us at a discount rate. Basically, they take the designs and run.
    Not only that, but they downright lie on customs forms in order to save money. We’ve had it happen with everything we’ve purchased for some trial runs of new products this year.
  5. Despite almost everything being online, a lot of business relationships are built by talking or meeting.
    You know: old school. My husband and I are still surprised when we have to call a company and/or their website is terrible.
  6. There’s a die for that.
    Size Comparison Dice
    Visitors to our store express surprise at all the different dice we carry. I mention that we might sell around 10% of those in one retailer’s catalog; about half of another who only makes two varieties. When people see everything from real Tiger’s Eye sets to large cubes with hearts, I can see why some assume we’ve got everything.
    We don’t. There are many, many more options out there.
  7. Stickers are real time-savers.
    Our latest printer types up everything we need (postage, addresses, and tracking information) on one label. I love it!!
  8. People like free stuff.
    Back when we had more random dice to dispose of, we offered one free die with a $20 purchase. One time a customer complained because her free die had a defect. I’m not sure if anyone purchased dice specifically to get a free one, but I was surprised about the one complaint.
    Of course, I like free stuff, too.
  9. Businesses often fill specific requests.
    We will. Want a note to your recipient? A blue d12 instead of green one? A discount coupon? How about getting your gaming candle cushioned in bubble wrap? We’ll probably do it.
    Granted, we’d have to stop doing freebies if everyone asked, but we’re cool to fulfill the odd one now and again.
  10. The customer is always right.
    This was a hard lesson for me the first few times someone demanded something, like that woman and her replacement free die. Still, makes sense. The customers are the ones keeping the business in business so, as long as they don’t ask for the moon, we’ll keep ’em happy.
    12-Sided Signs of the Planets Astrology Dice

Do you have any questions about dice? Running an online business? Painting a minifig? How about whether it’s a good idea to leap over a burning troll during a dungeon raid?

I may have a die to help answer that.

—————-

Check out what I wrote this week:
Wednesday, November 20: “Utah Mormons: What Do You Want to Know?” I’m still open to questions.

Thursday, November 21: Threwback to that time I wrote an epic poem, “The Ballad of the Garbage Truck.”

Friday, November 22: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. One year!! Congratulations to Giselle, Bruce, and Michael!

Saturday, November 23: Slipped in one, last complaint about pregnancy in “What Pregnancy is Really Like.”

Sunday, November 24: Nothing

Monday, November 25: “That Awkward First Date,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Tuesday, November 26: “Since the Bombs Fell: Six.” Although I’d love to stay and write in the post-apocalyptic world, I ended this series before it mutated out of control.

Wednesday, November 27: Today.

I also posted on my motherhood site. I wrote “Thanksgiving Dinner, a poem.”

 

All photos ©2019 Kevin Owens and Game Master Dice

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Since the Bombs Fell: Six

Continued from One, then Twothen Threethen Fourthen Five.

Finn’s entrance into the fallout shelter was therefore not a graceful one. Their imminent pursuers, his rescuer’s voice, and her near-pushing him in order to secure the door befuddled him. Patrick was better at instant decisions; perhaps he would know what to do and wouldn’t be walking at near-gunpoint to a foreign elevator shaft.

Perhaps.

Finn stumbled again. “We ‘ave to get b’low,” his companion said. She activated the elevator, then gestured to enter once its heavy cross-doors opened. Finn nodded and went first. She followed, turning a key in the wall and pressing a red button.

They dropped to a chorus of pained and rusting gears. Patrick’d be able to fix those, Finn thought. And the entry. Thinking of his brother worried him. Even one leg down, the rash young man might go looking for Finn if he didn’t return. Muties made the surface dangerous, yes; but there were ways to get back if Finn needed. Not all the train tunnels lay in ruin nor all the rooftops proved unsound, he knew.

They stopped. The door ground open to reveal a dim and untidy living area. The layout resembled Finn’s, albeit in greater disrepair. He made a mental note to thank Mary, should he see her again, for insisting they fix up and clean their post-apocalyptic warren.

“Home sweet home,” she’d said, once things were in order. She’d smiled that charming smile of hers, the one she’d borne since Mother’d first noticed Mary wasn’t -as Father said- “Quite all there.”

After exiting the elevator, his companion sealed the door and punched at the filtration system. It whirred like a hoarse donkey, but worked. She then began extracting herself from her breathing gear. Finn shrugged and did the same with his. He felt this an odd game to play with a stranger; making himself more vulnerable, piece by piece. If she wanted to kill him, however, she could have shot him back at the hospital.

He set his breathing system on the counter. His helmet followed suit. He turned as the woman did the same, her auburn hair falling sweaty and loose. It rested in a disheveled braid and framed a pretty but scowling face.

“All right, then,” she said, setting her helmet next to his. She rested her right hand on her hip and studied him. Then her eyes widened. “Finn?”

“Aye,” Finn answered. He smiled a crooked half-grin at his former girlfriend. Of course she’d been skulking around the hospital; they’d first met there. He’d been a patient and she a surgeon. “An’ how you doin’, Livvy?”

Olivia Green could not reply. She looked at Finn again, who wished he’d shaved before surfacing. “Where …Where’s Patrick?” Olivia gasped. “Oh, no! Where’s Mary?”

Finn waved a calming hand. “They’re fine, though waitin’, I’d wager.” He smiled fully. “Would you like to go to them?”

THE END

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

 

That Awkward First Date

“So, whaddya like to do?” Dumb! Why did you ask that?

“Um, well, I like reading.” Crap! Now he’s going to think I sit at home and knit.

“Oh. Reading.” And probably knitting.

Say something; say something. “So, what do you like to do?”

“Me?” Think of something impressive. “Uh; not much. Mostly I …” Impressive! “I …like movies.”

“Oh.”

She’s not impressed.

“I …I like movies, too.” Like everybody does “What’s a favorite?”

Say it. You’ve bombed the date anyway. “Actually; Big Trouble in Little China.

What?? “No way. Me, too!”

“No way!”

“Way.”

“So… wanna go get Chinese?”

lily-banse-9eH2QtfQAjI-unsplash.jpg

Enacted for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week: Romance

November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 26, 2019. Use the comment section [on Charli’s site] to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit: Lily Banse

©2019 Chelsea Owens

What Pregnancy is Really Like

I remember my first pregnancy like it was over a decade ago. Mostly, I remember anxiety, confusion, surprise, and trepidation -besides feeling sick all the time, of course. I wrote a journal to my baby. Nearly all of the entries included, “I’m so nervous,” or “I’m not sure what to expect.”

So I picked up a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. From it, I learned that any odd ailment may occur in pregnancy and that my growing fetus was always a type of fruit. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean.

Really, though, for one as curious as I, that book and my laid-back OB/GYN utterly failed to help me know what to expect.

For there is no book that can give you the sensation of pregnancy.

It’s weird.

When you are pregnant, you always know there is something off about yourself. Videos of babies and children and young animals make you cry. Commercials make you cry. Dropping a cup of milk makes you cry. Not being able to think about sex because you are so sick and feel fat and your favorite chocolate bar tastes awful makes you cry.

Then you get some sleep and are sunshine and rainbows.

But… that’s for about two hours. Then you’re exhausted and dropping milk again.

If you make it to a little over halfway, the real fun begins. I referenced the movie Aliens in a previous post; because, at this point, you can feel the growing child inside of you. I explained the sensation to a coworker once: “It’s like you ate something that’s alive and it’s moving around.” If you’re that imaginative, the analogy works.

Now that I’m at hippopotamus size, I can literally watch my stomach surface undulate and jerk. Inside, meanwhile, my organs, lungs, and bladder get kicked, pushed, and butted against.

Pregnancy can bless you with all sorts of side effects like hemorrhoids, diabetes, high blood pressure, changes in saliva pH, swelling, nausea, dizziness, sudden paralysis of legs, hair color or curliness, tender women parts, nail and hair growth changes, spots, skin lines, breast enlargement and tenderness, loss of short-term memory, exhaustion…

It begins to sound like one of those new drug commercials, the kinds where you listen and think, Why in the heck would ANYONE take this medication??

I can’t speak for others out there, but I often wonder that about pregnancy.

Yes, I know this is my fifth impregnation.

Yes, I should have a good reason besides shrugging and saying, “Well, I suppose it was because I wasn’t doing anything else at the time…”

Because -yes, pregnancy sucks. Raising the children produced from pregnancy is difficult. Given my druthers, I’d prefer to selfishly play video games all day while eating a pan of brownies.

However, most employers won’t fund that lifestyle.

And, making kids is actually pretty cool. I remember Bill Cosby dubbing it “erotic arts and crafts.” Really, though, it is. Every time we’ve gotten pregnant, my husband and I have speculated on how the kid will turn out. Will he have my dark hair or my husband’s lighter blond? My brown eyes or his hazel? Will he understand our jokes? Will he be creative? What sorts of dreams will he have? How tall? Cheerful or serious?

Will he like Firefly? What about Starcraft??

Even at almost five, we still have fun guessing.

So, that’s what you can take away from today’s lesson: pregnancy is weird. It’s full of many things you cannot expect. In the end, you get a tiny human that will be like you and your husband.

Yes, that means he or she will be a nerd like you.

Happy crafting.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest: Anniversary Edition

For our one year celebration, entrants did not disappoint. You all made choosing a winner terribly difficult.

Which may be why there is a three-way tie:

My son is Not called Adolf

by Giselle Marks

I have five Kids but didn’t give birth
Stop laughing, that is not a Cause for mirth
And Each squalling BRAT had to B named
Ex and myself could not agree, Adoph! Never! You’ve no shame!
Don’t dig the Garden or my ex you’ll unearth.

—–

Birth

by Bruce

When Bruce said he’d like to give birth
It created considerable mirth.
There’s no need to curse –
Not a baby but verse
Except when it came to creating a possible concluding line to his exquisite limerick he couldn’t think of anything of worth.

—–

Untitled piece

by Michael Fishman

The man and the woman were naked
the man said, “If I’m not mistaken,
I find you attractive
so how’s about we get active
and make ourselves one beautiful kid?”

Congratulations, Giselle, Bruce, and Michael! You are the most terrible poets of the week!

Giselle’s poem employed my recommended elements: bad structure, some spelling/grammar issues, and messed-up meter. Bruce’s, meanwhile, mostly nailed first with his aberrant final line. Michael submitted several poems, and this one rose through the ranks for its mis-meter and non-rhyming last line.

As is usual, the others are more than a close second:

Untitled piece

by Trent P. McDonald

Telling poems with mirth
About how I came to this Earth
To meet Chelsea’s rating
I’ll skip what happens while dating
And get to the part about birth

—–

Untitled piece

by Trent P. McDonald

Those dirty limericks, so bold
Say where babies come from, I’m told
With language so crude
Some think it quite rude
But without sex, there’d be no one to hold

—–

Untitled piece

by Deb Whittam

Grunt groan, all I can do is moan
Wail cry, all the while
Scream shriek, beyond relief
Then you ask, what’s my beef?
Childbirth, it’s beyond belief.

—–

There once was a tiny ball…

by Tiredhamster

There was once a tiny ball
Who decided to end it all
So with all its might
It squeezed real tight
Now we dance upon its pall

—–

Ooh, Baby

by Michael Fishman

Their bodies they did so adorn
and maybe they watched them some porn
the months they rolled by
nine of them to quantify
and then a little baby was born.

—–

I knew this gal from Fort Worth
she ate pancakes drowned in Mrs. Butterworth
She made me an offer
her body she did proffer
with an end result of her giving birth

—–

“Wanna roll?” she said, and I said “Maybe”.
“Is it safe,” I said, “You won’t give me rabies?”
She said, “It’s OK, we can skip the foreplay
I’m just looking to have me a baby.”

—–

He’s generally a really nice gent
She’s honest and won’t misrepresent.
One fine day they wed
then rushed home and into bed
now they’re counting the days ‘till their blessed event.

—–

The Neon Nose

by Susan

I’ve a birthmark upon nose

and in the dark it glows

I want to remove it

but the doctors say screw it

for when my nose runs I’ll know where it goes!

—–

TBD (terrible birth diatribe)

by Ruth Scribbles

When Chelsea decided to write
She thought “ah me thinks they should fight”
She birth-ed this mess
Named terrible poetic-ick-ness
It’s all just a blather and blight

—–

Borne

by Violet Lentz

Borne more of angst than understanding
Employing methods, far off from upstanding
The young anarchists ploy
Was to seek and destroy
Whilst obtaining all they were demanding

The first threw himself on the tile
At Walmart, in the Christmas toy aisle
He screamed and he pitched
Held his breath till he twitched
As his mother did her best to smile

The second locked himself in the loo
And screamed out, “There’s nothing you can do!
I will not wear that Tee!
Kids will make fun of me!”
Till his mother, her demand she withdrew

Now sister thought herself a bit slicker
She’d not fight mom, instead she’d just trick her
Off to study she’d go
And little would mother know
Till she came home awash in malt liquor!

—–

Untitled piece

by Gary

Boris Johnson was asked how many kids he has fathered
It wasn’t a surprise when the posh fart spectacularly dithered
Rich entitled Eton Boy has had fingers in many pies
Trouble is that people are starting to see through his web of lies
He may well have the last laugh by making us all Brexit buggered

—–

Untitled piece

by The Bag Lady

There once was a pregnant lady

Not happy to birth more babies

A control split the seam

Now she’s just acting mean

Too bad for the coming baby.

No more children said to her hubby

He insists on getting more huggy

So now she is groaning

With birth pain she’s moaning

And here comes a baby so chubby.

—–

Whoops

by Richmond Road

By day she’s disarmingly mild
At night unexpectedly wild
Unpredictability frisky
Ill advisedly risky
So now she’s expecting a child

—–

Thank you all, so much!! I will not be posting a new prompt tomorrow. Please come back at the first of the year (2020) for the next one.

nick-fewings-kmLUcvhqhSo-unsplash

Giselle, Bruce, and Michael: D. Wallace Peach created this graphic that you can use (if you want) for a badge of honor as the winner:

©2019, the respective authors and their poem(s)

Throwback Thursday: The Ballad of the Garbage Truck

From June 29, 2017, an epic poem I’m stinkin’ proud of:

Oh, hark! -and hear my tale of old –
‘Tis true in ev’ry way:
The ballad of the garbage truck,
A loud, machine-drawn dray.

The daylight barely paints the East,
The weary man just waked;
A stirring in the quiet air,
A song of metal brakes.

How now, my lads? What sings this sound?
What draws attentive eyes,
A-pressed against the window panes,
Or gathered round outside?

Oh, feel: the porch, the walk, the lane!
Oh, see: the living things!
They shake and dart in worried dance
Of what the daybreak brings.

The song exults effulgently
As it comes round the turn:
Vehicular efficiency
As refuse is o’erturned.

Majestic rolls the garbage truck;
Ungainly -yes, but true.
A dutiful collectioner
Of everyone’s snafu.

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Utah Mormons: What Do You Want to Know?

I am a Utah Mormon.*

If that shocked you, you may need to spend more time plowing thru -okay, you’re right: I don’t mention it much. I mostly don’t bring up my location or religious affiliation because of The Box Phenomenon. People are so keen to categorize that they will automatically assume things about my character, things that are probably not true.

There are, however, many characteristics or behaviors or habits or lack of cuss words that are true because of my Utah LDSness.

Like

  1. I don’t drink alcohol. Never have, and I mean never.
  2. I have not done recreational drugs.
  3. I’ve never had a cup of coffee.
  4. I have no tattoos. Never have.
  5. I wear one set of earrings, in my ear lobes.
  6. I lived a very clean dating life and my husband is the only man I’ve known.**
  7. I don’t swear, unless it’s the morning after the children have not slept and they will damn well hear about how frustrating they’ve been after the umpteenth time -in which case, it’s still only “damn” and “hell.”
  8. I attend church every week and (before I was pregnant) voluntarily worked a ‘job’ in our ward.

The list could go on, I suppose, but that’s why I’m writing this post. I am naturally curious about how other people live their lives, and assume others might be curious about mine. I specifically wonder if everyone else starts the day with a cup of coffee. Does everyone else flip off bad drivers on the freeway? Does everyone slip on a tank top and short shorts and call themselves dressed?

I don’t.

And so, what do you wonder about MY day-to-day life or views based on my location and religious leanings? Within reason, what questions do you have? Do you have any?

I’m no official representative of my faith and will not purport to be so, but am willing to answer what I can.

Try me. I’m curious.

michael-hart-fEQx6UmD178-unsplash

*The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has officially stated that its members are not ‘Mormons,’ but are ‘members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.’

**You know, in the biblical sense.

—————-

Besides a question, you may also be interested in my writings of last week:
Wednesday, November 13: Made some important announcements about the blog’s schedule in “I’m Having a Baby (I Think).”

Thursday, November 14: Attempted an homage to Geoff’s style with “A Tribute to Geoff LePard of TanGental.”

Friday, November 15: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Matt Snyder!

Saturday, November 16: Announced the 52nd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest! Happy birthday to bad poetry!! The theme is BIRTH, and is the last contest of the year. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, November 17: “A Confusing Session,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Monday, November 18: Shared LA’s astute assessment of life and its responsibilities.

Tuesday, November 19: “Since the Bombs Fell: Five.”

Wednesday, November 20: Today.

I also posted a poem on my motherhood site, “Is There an Echo?

 

Photo Credit: Michael Hart

©2019 Chelsea Owens