Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘My Mother’s Cottage’ #99Words #SundayBlogShare

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to write a story about variations in property values. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

My Mother’s Cottage

I wished I hadn’t inherited the beautiful, but run down cottage from my eccentric yet inspirational mother. I’d have preferred to hear her reading extracts from her bestselling novels, but she finally succumbed to a long illness and donated everything else to Cancer Relief.   

It didn’t feel right to sell her home, but I couldn’t afford the maintenance, until I met Jason, who contacted me on Facebook. He was the first to offer to pay for spending a few hours in my mother’s study.  

Now we’re married, the cottage is fully booked for years and the value has tripled.


Exterior view of the Emily Dickinson Museum with Dickinson’s bedroom visible on the second floor.CreditGreg Miller for The New York Times

We all enjoy visiting an author’s House-Museum with all the other visitors and tourists, but what would it be like to spend a week, a day, or even an hour alone, in the same room where one of your favourite writers penned their novels? Imagine sitting on Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Daphne du Maurier, or Ruth Rendell’s chair, at their desk, in their study. Would it be inspirational, scary, or life changing?

I visited Emily Dickinson’s homestead in Amherst, on several occasions, the last one in 2007. It’s a beautiful house with a delightful garden. I peeked into her bedroom, where she cut herself off from the rest of the world writing her cryptic poems, rarely leaving its confines. Much has been written about her mental frailty, some scholars have suggested the possibility of agoraphobia.

The Dickinson Homestead was certainly atmospheric, and I can imagine that time alone, in her room, would prove inspiring, and it’s now possible to rent her room for private visits, by the hour.

I recently came across an article about Emily Dickinson’s Museum in the NYT by a reporter who had paid for the privilege of spending an hour, alone in her room. The idea of such a possibility inspired this week’s flash fiction.

If you are interested in ghost stories or paranormal events, the reporter narrates a very spooky experience in Miss Dickinson’s bedroom. Follow this link to read more about it.    

Emily Dickinson’s bedroom in the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass., with a replica of one of her famous white dresses.CreditGreg Miller for The New York Times

Which author’s house-museum’s have you visited?

Which is your favourite?

Would you enjoy spending time there alone?


This week I asked my older grandson to colour a picture of a cottage, while I wrote a story about one.

#AtoZChallenge ‘W’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Wild Nights’ by Emily Dickinson #amwriting #poem #NaPoWriMo

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of the  poem, or the author’s name will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you Wild Nights by Emily Dickinson and Wild Nights by Luccia Gray.


Wild Nights by Emily Dickinson


Wild nights! Wild nights! 
Were I with thee, 
Wild nights should be 
Our luxury!

Futile the winds 
To a heart in port, 
Done with the compass, 
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden! 
Ah! the sea! 
Might I but moor 
To-night in thee!


This short and intense, love poem by Emily Dickinson never ceases to astound me. The fact that a solitary and introvert recluse, who may have suffered agoraphobia, wrote such a passionate poem is amazing. Although the poem is allegorical, it is clearly about the poet’s yearning to meet, ‘were I with thee’, and make love ‘wild nights’ with ‘thee’, the person she has given her heart to. She compares meeting this person to ‘rowing in Eden’, and longs to ‘moor tonight in thee’. The experience is never accomplished and remains in the realm of her dreams, which is why she describes ‘wild nights’. Presumably, her desires were never fulfilled, so the contained and repressed sexuality is even more powerful in its tragedy.


Emily Dickinson is a fascinating and enigmatic poet, read more about her here. From the age of thirty, Emily always wore white, and she was buried in a white casket, wearing a white dress. I was fortunate enough to visit Emily Dickinson’s Homestead some years ago. Her white house dress, exhibited on the top floor landing, just outside her bedroom, is one of the highlights of the museum. The dress impressed me at the time and inspired me to write this poem, which is a reflection on her unfulfilled desires, making use of the imagery in her poem, Wild Nights.


Wild Nights! By Luccia Gray (After Emily Dickinson)

Wild nights! she cried, 

A tiny, frail figure,

Yearning for love.

Futile winds,

Rocked her boat,

Rowing to Eden,

Dressed in white.


Wild nights, she cried

As she swayed in the sea,

Neither compass nor chart

Led the way.

Still she craved

Her Nirvana,

Dressed in white.


Wild nights, she cried,

Her heart reaching its port,

Where she moored at last.

Finally resting,

In her casket,

Far from the sea,

Dressed in white.


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Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 5 – Pairs

I took this photo last Sunday as I walked along the beachfront with my grandchildren.



Everyone enjoys the beach in spring or summer, when the weather’s warm, but the beach in Autumn and winter is majestic. the sea is more furious, the colours are bolder, and the promise of long lazy days is alluring. This pair of baby palm trees seem to be huddled together, keeping themselves warm and sheltered from the merciless colder seasons.


The theme pairs, reminds me, once again, of another one of Emily Dickinson’s most famous poems about a ‘pair of nobodies’:

 I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there ‘s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They ‘d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Emily’s poems were published posthumously (except one or two published in literary magazines in her lifetime). She wished to remain unknown, probably even a recluse. Some modern researchers have even identified a degree of agoraphobia in her later years.

In this poem, Emily claims to be ‘nobody’ and asks the reader if he/she is nobody too, so writer and reader are united in their anonymity, which they must fight to preserve, because if they dare to become ‘public’ or well-known, they’d be like frogs living in bogs. Evidently, she thought very little of fame and fortune!


Check out Hugh’s blog and some of the other pictures and reflections on pairs here


Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 4 – Isolated

This photo was taken on 12th October. There used to be splendid rose-bush in that spot, but it dried up, or so I thought, and it was cut down last summer. Twenty days ago, I noticed one solitary, brave rose had grown, and was defiantly facing the autumn wind and showers. I remember approaching this lonely and isolated flower, and noticing the smell was as intense as its crimson petals.


It’s not a beautiful photo, but it’s a beautiful flower.

This isolated and solitary rose is a symbol of resilience, intelligence, courage, and humility. These are the lessons the rose is teaching me.

Resilience. Hang on in there! Only those who abandon the game lose. Everyone who takes part gains from the experience. Losers are those who gave up. Life is a journey, not a destination. Make sure you stay on the train.

Intelligence. Don’t fight a battle you can’t win. Learn, like the rose to bend with the wind, there’s no use in resisting, it would only break the stem. Go with the flow, and accept that there will be good moments and more difficult ones. Adapt. Learn the lesson and move on. The wind will stop eventually.

Courage. Move out of your comfort zone. Follow your dreams and be brave enough to make the effort to grasp them. It’s easier to do what’s expected, to do what you’ve always done, but if you want to grow, you need to pursue your dreams.

Humility. Be humble enough to keep learning. However much you think you know, you can always learn more. However good you think you are, you can always be better.

This tiny rose is beautiful as well as strong, clever, brave, and humble.

Finally, the rose is also telling me that solitude and isolation need not be a disadvantage. I can do it on my own. Although, like the rose I’m never really alone. The rose has the earth, air, and rain, to nurture it. Although I sometimes feel isolated, I’m not alone, because we are all connected to the universe.   

This rose reminds me of a dramatic short poem by Emily Dickinson (She was a Master at Flash Fiction! Her verses are short and powerful).

When Roses cease to bloom, Sir,
And Violets are done —
When Bumblebees in solemn flight
Have passed beyond the Sun —
The hand that paused to gather
Upon this Summer’s day
Will idle lie — in Auburn —
Then take my flowers — pray!

As I interpret this poem, Emily is telling us about the poems she wrote (The hand that paused to gather), which are her flowers (Roses and Violets), and asks Sir (the unknown person she loved), to take them (Take my flowers) once she has died (will idle lie).

My rose has, in fact, died now, but that’s the rose’s destiny, to be admired only for a short yet intense lifespan.

I know there will be more roses shortly, my rose-bush has definitely not dried up!

Check out Hugh’s blog and some of the other pictures and reflections here


There was no possibility of taking a walk that (November) day.

November is a dark and ominous month in Jane Eyre’s life.

Firstly, she is locked in the red room, as a child, at Gateshead. Secondly, she is lonely at Thornfield Hall, before Rochester’s arrival. Finally she is leading a solitary life in Morton, while her cousin, whom she doesn’t love, proposes to her.


The first lines of Jane Eyre presents the reader with a gloomy November day:

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day…. the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.

The young girl, under ten years old, was confined to the house she detested. She had been taken in by a family who relegated her to the position of a homeless poor relative they despised. In the breakfast room, where she was expelled, away from the rest of the family, who were comfortably seated in the drawing-room, Jane observed:

…to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.’

Later that day, she was confined to the ghostly Red Room, after refusing to be bullied and beaten by her cousin John Reed.


Jane arrived at sombre Thornfield Hall  in October, but chilly November arrived fast, and Mrs, Fairfax informed Jane of what to expect from then on:

I’m sure last winter (it was a very severe one, if you recollect, and when it did not snow, it rained and blew), not a creature but the butcher and postman came to the house, from November till February; and I really got quite melancholy with sitting night after night alone.

Thornfield Hall was a vault-like, dreary place between November and February. On this occasion, Mr. Rochester returned in January, when he met Jane on the icy causeway, on her way to Hay.


Shortly after moving to Morton, and recovering her health, in November, Jane set up a school, where she lived. She found both a job and lodgings. She describes the rudimentary building:

I had closed my shutter, laid a mat to the door to prevent the snow from blowing in under it, trimmed my fire, and after sitting nearly an hour on the hearth listening to the muffled fury of the tempest, I lit a candle, out of the frozen hurricane—the howling darkness.

Shortly after, still in November, she learnt of her uncle’s death and the fortune she had inherited. Months later, she returned to Thornfield Hall in search of Rochester.

November in Jane Eyre

November is the month of transition between the warmer and colder part of the year. It heralds a time of introversion and hard work in order to lay the foundations for the spring.

During those chilly autumn days at Thornfield, Jane more than teaches, she transforms Adele into a more docile pupil, and ears the respect of the rest of the staff who thought she was too frail for the job. By the time Rochester arrives she’s literally become the ruler of the roost. She sleeps upstairs with Mrs. Fairfax, very near the master’s room, she has got to know the house and the area, she has gained the respect of everyone, and she loves it at Thornfield. There is no-one to boss her around, until he arrives.

In Morton, she occupied her time drawing and reading, teaching, and gaining the respect of the locals as she worked as their teacher at the newly founded school, until she learnt of her new and improved situation.

The positive events in Jane Eyre occur in spring and summer, while winter is a time for introspection, loneliness, and hardship. Fortunately, spring and summer bring renewed hope and love to her life, as we have seen in other posts on this blog.

Emily Dickinson, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, also had a sad, cold,  and difficult view of November.

Charlotte Bronte would have loved this poem, which she probably never read.

How happy I was if I could forget
To remember how sad I am
Would be an easy adversity
But the recollecting of Bloom

Keeps making November difficult
Till I who was almost bold
Lose my way like a little Child
And perish of the cold.