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Sunshine Over Cadillac Mountain


Last fall my husband and I took an overnight trip to Maine, specifically to capture the magic of the sun rising over the highest point on the eastern North American seaboard – Cadillac Mountain.


Only when we got there, we discovered the park loop leading to and from the mountain would be closed the next morning.


Undaunted, I changed our plans and decided we would capture the magic of the sun setting from the highest point on the seaboard.


The eve was cold and cloudy, but the sun shining through was all the more beautiful for it.


Then we moved to the highest vantage point…and the light was different.


Then it got spookier.




Poisoned Forest (an open-ended challenge within a challenge)


Click here for part 1, “Barnes of Tombminster,” by Tom Merriman!

Janice let out a sigh of relief, then pulled her silver scotch flash from her fanny pack. “See? I told you to trust me, Elaine.” She smiled, took a swig from the flask, then slipped it back into her pack. “You’re a landowner now, not just a lighthouse keeper.”

Elaine chuckled. ” ‘Bout right time, all the toilin’ I’ve done keepin’ up the crag.” She sat, swinging her heels against the side of the stone slab, and smoothed the fringe of her scarf. “And my first order o’ business is kickin’ the two o’ you off me property! Now scat!”

Ross gasped. “But the will… ” he said, frowning.

“Elaine,” Janice said low, “you have to wait until five o’clock, in case any other relatives show up. Remember?”

“Ha!” Elaine retorted. “They won’t show.”

“How do you know?” Ross said, waving the will.

Elaine gave a satisfied smirk. “The two other relatives be me kid brother an’ sister. They’s twins, an’ as fat an’ daft as the day is long. They got sent away ta boardin’ school fer bein’ whiners. Prolly in they thirties by now. They’ll ne’er make it through Poisoned Forest, not without eatin’ a load of rosary peas.” She chuckled. “Why do ya think the locals call it ‘Poisoned Forest’? Years ago I planted the poisoned peas along the forest path ta weed out the Tombminster meddlers.” Elaine shifted her eyes from Ross to Janice. “Meddler’s always be meddlin’.”

Janice lowered her eyes, reached into her fanny pack, and took another swig of scotch.

“Now look here, Ms. Barnes,” Ross said. “I came all the way down to Tombminster and tracked you down to give you what is rightfully yours and this is the thanks I get?” His face grew red. He took a step toward Janice, then collapsed in her arms, sobbing.

“You always were a cruel one, sis,” Janice said as she patted Ross’ back. “And you haven’t changed a bit.”

Elaine jumped off the stone slab. “Wha-?”

Ross spun around to face Elaine. Tears streaked his cheeks. “That’s right, Elaine! We’re your long-lost brother and sister! When paw-paw died, we thought we’d give you one last chance to step up and be a part of the family. One more chance to prove that you outgrew your horrid ways. But no… you’re just as vile as ever.”

Elaine clenched her fists. “Why ya sneaky lil’ wimp! I thought I recognized that wimpy whine o’ yours! But I put it out o’ my mind ’cause ya so skinny.”

Ross straightened up and wiped away his tears. “Yeah, I was a fat kid. And you were no help, always teasing me. You drove me to eat even more. But when I left home, I was finally free of your constant bullying.”

Elaine stomped her foot and turned to face Janice “Liar!” She jabbed the air in front of Janice’s nose. “Foolin’ me these past five years. I thought the last I saw of me snivelin’ sis was when she went off ta the school. Ya was fat then. An’ I thought ya were the only friend I got in Tombminster!”

Janice shook her head. “You’re wrong on both counts, sis. After I got my surveyor’s license, I dyed my hair and came back down here to survey the area. I knew the three of us were going to inherit the land, and so I spent the last several years codifying the deeds. Turns out you inherited the lighthouse, but my brother and I inherited the forest, which is the only way to and from Tombminster. So if you want to go home to your lighthouse, you’ll have to step on private property.” Janice grabbed her brother’s hand.

“I’ll ne’er give up Poisoned Forest!” With both hands, Elaine grabbed her scarf from the slab and rushed at the two. “I’ll wring yer scrawny necks first!”

Ross shrieked and fainted, and Elaine tripped over his body and fell, slamming her head against the stone floor.

“Me ‘ead,” Elaine mumbled. “Ya broke me ‘ead.”

“You were right, bro,” Janice said, helping Ross to his feet. “She’ll never change.” She unbuckled her pack and tossed it on the floor next to her sister. “A parting gift from me to you.” Janice linked arms with her brother and they stepped over the prostrate, bleeding Elaine.

“Wait! Don’ leave me! I’ll sue ya fer e’erythin’!”

“Don’t worry, sis. The door locks from the outside to keep the dead from rising and wandering out, but I left you the keys to the crypt in the pack.” The pair stepped out and locked the door behind them.

“Wait! What good are the keys if the door locks from the outside?” Elaine pressed her hand against her her bleeding head and winced. She reached into the fanny pack and took out the scotch flask. She finished the bottle, then reached again into the pack. Her fingers felt dozens of small orbs. She scooped them out. “Rosary peas,” she mumbled, rolling the red and black berries around with her fingers. “Keys to the crypt indeed.”

Level Up!

Poppy Bachman hosts the new luxury travel show, “Best Resorts and Spas!”

Growing up, Poppy Bachman dreamed about one day usurping Samantha Brown as the next luxury travel host on her own luxury travel show. She worked her way through finishing school and private spokesmodel lessons by being a dog walker and personal shopper. Now she’s trying to get the attention of NBC executives with demos of her own amateur luxury travel show.

From her trailer park home, Poppy calls the owners and managers of five star resorts and spas around the world, hoping to be flown in style for a free stay in exchange for another five star review. Not giving the managers a chance to get a word in edgewise, she quickly invites herself to these resorts in the hopes of scoring her first big review gig. Poppy has a lot of self-confidence, but she also has dyscalculia, which makes it difficult for her to follow directions or distinguish between left and right. So actually getting to the resort is half the battle.

Undaunted, Poppy is determined to become a paid jet-setter, and every weekend takes a cross-country bus to the next luxury destination on her list. Free first-class travel, complimentary cocktails, getting paid for getting pampered. That’s her dream career. But for now she must prove her mettle to the execs at NBC and produce, direct, star in, and edit her own no-budget travel show herself. And somehow get them to watch it.

Here’s her first episode. Listen as she makes stumbling over words sound like a skill:

So… should NBC give Poppy a chance to take it to the next level?


Thanks to Diane Henders and Tom Merriman for the inspiration for this post!