Prompt: Start with: Once there was this house…

Once there was this house in Findlay, Ohio. It was a three bedroom, two level brick Tudor. The house was haunted. Everyone who toured the house when it was put up for sale, got an eerie feeling. This was especially true in the living room. This room was spacious with glass French doors that opened to the dining room, and had a fireplace. It should have felt cozy, but instead people reported that they felt off kilter in that room.

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The kitchen has last been remodeled in the 1930s. The black and white checker board floor was set off by soft green walls with the latest in 1930s appliances. The room just made people feel odd. Upstairs, the three bedrooms were of different sizes. The smallest, a nursery, looked like it had been a large closet at one time. The thought of putting a baby in there made people feel squeamish. The largest bedroom looked out to the front yard. Next to that bedroom’s entrance was door, which opened to a handmade cedar closet. A very strong feeling of almost hatred spewed from the cedar closet. It was as if the owner was saying this is mine, stay away.

One of the nicest features of the house was a laundry room included inside the upstairs bathroom. The only laundry you would have to take downstairs were kitchen towels and dining napkins. That laundry room location was good for another reason. The basement was dank and dark and occupied by a giant gas gravity furnace. Think Home Alone.

Altogether, the forces in that home combined to keep anyone from purchasing it for many years.

06 Start with: Once there was this house…

Once there was this house in Findlay Ohio. It was a three bedroom, two level brick Tudor. The house was haunted. Everyone who toured the house when it was put up for sale, got an eerie feeling. This was especially true in the living room. This room was spacious with glass French doors that opened to the dining room, and had a fireplace. It should have felt cozy, but instead people reported that they felt off kilter in that room.

The kitchen has last been remodeled in the 1930s. The black and white checker board floor was set off by soft green walls with the latest in 1930s appliances. The room just made people feel odd. Upstairs, the three bedrooms were of different sizes. The smallest, a nursery, looked like it had been a large closet at one time. The thought of putting a baby in there made people feel squeamish. The largest bedroom looked out to the front yard. Next to that bedroom’s entrance was door, which opened to a handmade cedar closet. A very strong feeling of almost hatred spewed from the cedar closet. It was as if the owner was saying this is mine, stay away.

One of the nicest features of the house was a laundry room included inside the upstairs bathroom. The only laundry you would have to take downstairs were kitchen towels and dining napkins. That laundry room location was good for another reason. The basement was dank and dark and occupied by a giant gas gravity furnace. Think Home Alone.

Altogether, the forces in that home combined to keep anyone from purchasing it for many years.

Prompt: Favorite Food to Cook

I am 100% Polish ethnically. I love to cook Polish food such as golumbki (stuffed cabbage), pierogi (filled dumplings), and chrusciki (angel wing pasty). But probably my favorite to make is a typical Polish supper of kielbasa and sauerkraut.

I get both fresh and smoked kielbasa. I boil the fresh kielbasa. While that is cooking, I sauté onions in butter. I drain and rinse a large jar of sauerkraut, squeezing all the liquid out. When the onions are transparent, I add the sauerkraut and salt and pepper to taste. When the sauerkraut is done simmering, I place it in a roasting pan and top it with both types of kielbasa. Then into the oven it goes.

Next I boil several potatoes until tender. I peel and quarter them and place them in a bowl with butter. For a side dish, I thinly slice cucumbers and green onions. I mix them in a bowl along with sour cream, salt and pepper and dill weed. For a second side dish, I sauté more onions in butter, drain several cans of mushrooms and then add them to the pan. I cover and simmer them.

When the kielbasa is heated through, I remove it from the oven. Joining the meat and vegetables on the table will be horseradish, rye bread, butter, and beer. Smaczne!

Prompt: A Blue Car

Marcia and Michael had to get a new car soon. The transmission on their red Mustang had failed for the third time. There was no way they were going to drop two grand on getting it fixed again. Michael told Marcia it was her turn to choose the vehicle. Marcia knew she wanted to stay at or below $16 thousand and that the car had to be blue.

After doing research, Marcia showed Michael the 2013 Chevy Sonic. It was a five seater with fold down seats and a hatchback to make transporting things easy for them. They headed to the dealership in a taxi cab and had the Mustang towed to the dealer’s used car lot. Going inside the dealership, they spotted both the Sonic and the Chevy Spark. The Spark was a few thousand cheaper than the Sonic, but that showed in both the size and the quality of the interior.

A salesman approached the couple and they told him they were quite interested in purchasing a Sonic that day. So, the salesman led them back to his desk and discussed options with them. Fully-loaded, the car came in at just under $16K. Marcia had done her homework well. Next, they discussed colors. Marcia let the salesman know that she wanted the blue. However, when he checked his inventory, he found they only had the vehicle in white or red metallic. Marcia had sworn she never wanted to own a red car again after the Mustang.  However, she and Michael also disliked white cars because they hardly ever looked clean.

After a little discussion, the couple decided to purchase the red Sonic. They named it Cy and within four years, they had put 99K miles on it. The vehicle never had a problem and got great mileage, even using the air conditioning.

Prompt: The Fallen Tree

July 16, 1980

The sky turned black as I looked out the floor to ceiling windows at work. I turned on the radio. The city where my parents lived was being pummeled by a suspected tornado. I tried calling them, but the phones were out. I told my boss I was heading to their house to help, as many trees were reported down.

Heading out towards the storm, the day had turned to night. The street lights came on. Fortunately, I wasn’t driving in the storm for long as we were heading in opposite directions. I had to take detours around downed power lines and trees. The 15-minute ride, turned into a knuckle gripping 40-minute drive to their house.

I could not even enter their street as there were so many trees and branches covering it. I parked on the side street and ran to their house. The giant poplar in front of their house was down. Most of it had landed on their week-old car in the driveway. However, a giant spear had twisted off and gone through their roof.

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My parents and brother were safe inside. The branch that pierced the roof came through the attic and landed on their bedroom ceiling. They were without electricity and phones, but their gas still worked.

Neighbors came out with chainsaws and we all pitched in to cut up the trees and haul them onto the tree lawn so emergency crews could have access to the neighborhood. The humidity was unbearable and the temperature just kept climbing through the nineties. With everyone pitching in, we managed to clear the road in a few hours.

I ran to the store to buy ice for my parents’ food and then returned home. I was soaking wet and filthy, besides being thoroughly exhausted. My parents were left with no power for a week. The poplar tree left a four-foot tall stump which my dad hired to be cut down. However, the stump in the ground was an issue for him for many years. He tried grinding and burning to get rid of it. It was just so large that the roots stretched to the foundation of the house and entwined with the sewer system. He eventually got it below ground level so grass could grow to cover it.

Prompt: Thunderstorm

The kids came running in the house, screaming, “The sky is orange. Mom, Dad, you should come see this. Everything is orange outside.”

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I went out and it was true. For some reason, all the light hitting our area was orange. The sky was filled with clouds and it was getting both darker and more orange. I shuffled the kids into the house and aimed them to the basement stairs. Before going down, I grabbed my son’s portable radio.
Once we were all downstairs, I turned on the radio and listened to the weather report. We were under a thunderstorm warning. It was currently 25 miles away but heading our direction at 50 miles an hour. We would be hit with rain, high winds, and hail within the next 30 minutes. I ran back upstairs and grabbed flashlights for everyone. We sat down to play Yahtzee to keep everyone occupied. About 20 minutes later we could hear thunder booming in the distance, but getting closer. Lightning flashed and as the storm drew closer, the lights flickered several times, until going out altogether.
While the children were frightened, they were also excited. My husband and I assured them we were in the safest location. The rain pelting the roof sounded like drummers marching across our heads. The thunder was immediately followed by lightning, telling us the storm was directly overhead. We could hear the pinging of hail bouncing off the basement’s glass block windows.
As the stormed moved eastward and away from us, I climbed the stairs to look out the back door. Several tree branches laid on the grass and driveway. Dime-sized hail still littered the lawn. I called the kids up to see the remnants of a terrific thunderstorm. We stepped outside and I let the kids pick up the hailstones. They could see how layers had formed as the ice pellets dropped through the clouds.

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The power came back on about two hours later. Turns out that lightning had hit a transformer for our neighborhood and it was an easy fix.

Prompt: A Stuffed Polar Bear

Michigan State University was a huge school with over 500 buildings. During his Freshman orientation, Randy visited a handful of them. Today his first class was in the Natural Resources building. Pushing one of the double wooden doors open, Randy entered and gasped.

There in front of him was a giant stuffed polar bear. It stood nearly nine feet tall. The claws on it black-padded paws were easily three inches long. And those teeth. Randy would hate to meet this polar bear.

He wondered how the bear had found a home here at MSU and after classes went to the library to do some research.

The bear had been shot in Alaska in 1957 by a Michigan man and donated to the university shortly afterwards. It had been in the Natural Resources building since 1966.  In 2015, the bear was looking ratty. Its fur had faded to a grungy yellow and its paws were peeling. Students held a crowd funder to refurbish the bear. The money was raised in only four weeks, with extra funds used to buy a flat-screen TV to show a loop of the repair work done by the taxidermists.

Randy decided to adopt Beary White, as the bear was known on campus, as his personal mascot. It only made sense as Randy was pursuing a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. He and Beary would be seeing a lot of each other over the next four years.

Prompt: A Walk Along the Beach at Night

A Cheshire moon hung in the sky with glimmering stars dancing all about it. The beach at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was deserted except for Kristina and Sean. They held hands as they walked towards the Atlantic Ocean. There was a slight breeze on this warm July night and it wafted the smell of living water to them. Once they reached wet sand, they both removed their sandals and placed them well above the high-water mark. Continuing to the waves, they dug their toes in and enjoyed the feel of the waves pulling the sand out from under them. Little cochinas twirled above the sand for a few quick seconds as each wave rolled out.

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Kristina rushed into the water ankle deep. She was afraid to go any further as she had seen people pulling in hammerhead sharks that morning. Sean was right by her, placing his arm around her shoulder, making her feel safe. As they waded in the water, they enjoyed each other being in the moment. Life had gotten so hectic with kids and jobs. They booked this trip for some well-deserved couple time.

Sean was the first to spot the glow and pointed it out to Kristina. A blue radiance was rippling through the water. They had heard of bioluminescent plankton, but this was the first time they saw it. Kristina was treasuring each moment and saving them in her heart to pull out when life got frantic.

bioluminescence from glowing plankton in tide line on beach, with stars above,  Vaadhoo Island, Raa Atoll, Maldives

When their feet got too cold, the couple returned to their sandals and scooped them up. They continued their walk near the wave line and came upon a small tidal pool. A small crab and starfish looked cozy in their small home in the rock-protected pool.

Eventually, they left the wet sand and headed up to the grassy dune that was at the top of the beach. Turning to each other, Sean took Kristina in his arms. He planted a soft kiss on her lips and she pulled him in tighter.