This is a funny sort of story to read on my honeymoon—the story of a new bride or bride-to-be who escapes into the ocean.

I’m not planning any such escape.

But I do find jellyfish interesting. They can be so beautiful in the water, so peculiar washed up on the beach. They thrive, evidently, in exactly the kind of conditions caused by warming oceans—increased acidification and decreased oxygen—that hurts pretty much everything else. What a strange thing to contemplate, a reversal of evolution, the resurrection of invertebrate dominance.

All of that flowed into the story of radical reclamation of agency.

This video was made at Gulf Shores, Alabama. The beach was sparsely populated, and was just perfect for strolling in the surf, or for sitting and reading this story out loud.

This story was a finalist in a monthly flash competition at Retreat West.

Look at this jellyfish! It looks like a sand dollar!
Also, I need to learn to size photos…

Greetings the Gulf Shores!

And here’s how we honeymoon. I recorded three readings on the beach. Tim played two open mics.

This day there was very little beach traffic despite it being a beautiful day. Off-season is definitely the right time to visit the Gulf Shores.

I wrote this story for a 53-word contest. I didn’t win… but I also couldn’t see adding any more words to it. It was the way I wanted it in just that many words. I sent it later to Mojave River Review.

I have a love – fear relationship with sharks. I love them, but I am absolutely terrified of them. I suppose Jaws might be partly to blame, but mostly it’s the facts that get to me. I’ve watched dozens of documentaries and film clips, and while I accept that sharks — even big ones — don’t go swimming around looking to eat people (they are successful hunters, if they wanted to eat more people, they would), they still scare me.

Real reason? They come to me in my dreams as sort of a “yeah I already know that” warning that things are chaotic in my subconscious. They are the only animal out of the many I dream about that speaks to me in English.

The dream where a shark spoke the most clearly came when I was quite young. I dreamed a shark was above me in the water, a Great White that time though I often dream of Blue Sharks. I swam down to a ship wreck to hide – and idea of dubious merit. The shark said, “I’m going to get you!” And I replied, “No, you won’t!” He said something else but I don’t remember what. Probably if I remembered, I’d be famous or something. But, as in a fairytale I failed the test. Perhaps.

If you look at a map of Illinois, at the bottom, where the state is shaped like an arrowhead point, you’ll see a whole big swath of that part of the state is Shawnee National Forest. Which is part of the reason I moved here. Once you get into Southern Illinois, though, you realize that the forest is more like a patchwork quilt in areas, interspersed with farmland, vineyards, houses, pasture.

I live near part of the patchwork. It’s literally true to say part of the Shawnee Forest is across the street from me. If I walked sort of northwesterly, I could go several miles until I came to Panthers Den Wilderness area, or either of the two wineries in that general direction, and never leave the forest. But there are places where I would be able to see sky on either side, and probably private property. Nevertheless, part of the forest it is, and I love having it there.

This story, “We All Make Mistakes,” appearing in The Tiny Journal, is inspired in part by my several encounters with venomous snakes in the area — Copperheads and also Water Moccasin (aka Cottonmouth). It’s also partly a musing on how sometimes we do things in spite of having misgivings, and how sometimes these things are mistakes. We all do it.

I hope you enjoy! (PS – Is there a way to make the video still so I don’t look silly? LOL)

“We All Make Mistakes”in The Tiny Journal

I have been wanting to get to the Rocky Bluff Trail out at Devil’s Kitchen Lake all spring. It hasn’t worked out. Until now. It’s a great hike for wildflowers early in spring. I didn’t see as many Blue-eyed Mary as I hoped to, but there were plenty of violets, a few trilliums, buttercups, and of course lots of golden ragwort, daisy fleabane and woodland phlox. Also, the waterfall was flowing, which it isn’t always. So that was cool. I have a few pictures up on my Instagram page if you are curious.

And I did a reading! On a big ol’ rock perched about 25 feet or so above the Little Grassy Creek.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight
first appeared in New Flash Fiction Review as part of the Horo-Flash / Horoscope-inspired curated flash series.