WHY CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS?

Daily Prompt: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

- – - – -

We can’t be friends because you won’t like me. Really. Count on it.

Marilyn as photographer

Even if I like you, more than likely won’t return the feeling. I talk too much. My tongue is sharp. If you say dumb things, I will snort derisively. I will not take you seriously if you don’t know any history and don’t read books.

If you take photographs with trash cans in the background, I will not admire them, even if the subject is your most beloved grandchild. She/he would look better — guaranteed — without the trash cans. Unless you are making some kind of artistic statement about grandchildren and trash and I sincerely hope you are not.

I am not everyone’s cuppa tea. Sometimes, I’m not even my own cuppa tea. Actually, I’m not all that fond of tea, except for green tea ordered with Japanese food.

This probably makes me a bad person. Screw it.

Coffee anyone?

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  12. Friendship | A picture is worth 1000 words
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  17. The Art and Science of Unmaking Friends
  18. No one is so rich as to throw away a friend | I Didn’t Just Wake Up This Morning with a Craving
  19. Daily Prompt: Making New Friends | A Day In The Life
  20. Daily Prompt: Why Can’t We Be Friends | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

Let the Fun Begin: Williamsburg, Virginia – Marilyn Armstrong

Friends are here and today we shall emerge and go forth to enjoy! It turns out that Colonial Williamsburg doesn’t exactly have an entrance fee. There are things in there that if you want to see them, have entry fees, but it’s free to go to the town and just enjoy it. Which hopefully is what we’ll do today.

Adding Yorktown and Jamestown costs very little. For the historical stuff, time is more the issue than is money. We have to pace ourselves, see as much as we can without getting exhausted. Young at heart? Yes, absolutely. But our bones know the truth and we can’t ignore them.

Tomorrow will be some combination of fun activities … and I’m betting it will be Busch Gardens.

Pricey, but  they have all those roller coasters and I am simply NOT going to pass up the opportunity. I’m not going to miss it.

I didn’t drive all these miles to say “Oops, can’t afford it.” That’s stupid. So I’m doing it, and that it. Even if I have to pay more than I imagined in my nightmares I would need to pay!

The hotel which isn’t a hotel, but a condo time share, is MUCH nicer than I expected.

Living room and dining area lead to a balcony facing the woods.

Aside from our quarters being huge and very nicely appointed, there are many more activities and I expected and just overall, a really lovely place.

The kitchen. There’s a huge amount of storage space … much more than I have at home and there’s also a compact washer and dryer in a closet across from the fridge.

The balcony off the living room has a peaceful view of the woods and trails. Which is what we see out our windows at home, but it’s a big improvement from the many views of parking lots I’ve had over the years from where I was staying!

View from the balcony.

If only it weren’t so godawful far away from home!

We’re pretty much recovered from the drive and now, I WANT TO HAVE SOME FUN!!!

Tune in for updates!

Editor’s Note:  The above was originally posted August 5, 2012.  In the next two days you will get more from this trip.

Neighbors and Old Friends – Marilyn Armstrong

Friends come in many sizes and shapes. Horses, dogs, cats and other warm fuzzy creatures give our lives texture and joy … and old things holding memories of other times and places … these too become friends, holding our memories and reminding us of the lives we have lived and things we have done.

Old Number 2 is one of Uxbridge‘s oldest fire trucks. Long out of service, he still has his own place, standing through the years and seasons in a field across from the post office. He’s become my old friend, put out to pasture but like me, remembering his glory days.

Old Number 2 in summer … with some special effects just because.

Seasons come and go, but Number 2 waits patiently. I visit him. He has many stories to tell and I listen so he will be less lonely and know no everyone has forgotten him.

Horses in the pasture, friendly and hoping for snack, an apple or a carrot maybe …

Retired now, she grazes in a pleasant pasture in the company of her friends and the goats in the adjacent pasture. Do they share their memories?

With a shake of her mane, the pony companion enjoys the autumn weather with an old pal.

Still beautiful, she poses with her good side, elegant in her peaceful paddock.

It’s a fine day to be a horse. Or a human.

Tinker, one of our two PBGVs romps now at the Bridge, but here, her big black nose pokes through the picket fence of our front yard. Just saying hello!

Tinker’s big black nose — a perfect nose for such a hound as this Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen hound nose — pokes through our pickets. She’s gone to the Bridge, but lives on in our hearts and her tooth marks remain forever embedded in our furniture, shoes, remote controls and paranoid nightmares of destruction.

Griffin, our big boy PBGV died last winter, as did Tinker. He was my personal cuddle puppy, full of joy and humor. He always made me laugh and the more I laughed, the more he would act the clown. Never has a dog enjoyed making people laugh more than Griffin. A marathon barker, entertainer par excellence, he was the best.

Many of our fur children have gone to the bridge, but they are never forgotten. More of them  on other days, I promise.

One autumn day, in a rare family project, we made a couple of friends of our own … classic New England symbols of Autumn and the harvest. We made them from yard sale clothing, two bales of hay, and their painted faces on old pillow cases were created by Kaity and Stefania … at that brief period as they were transitioning from girls to young women.

Some friends we made ourselves to celebrate the harvest and the season, sitting on a bench, backed by flowering bushes and shaded by oaks.

Finally, we meet the farmer’s old truck. He stands in a field around the corner, behind the fire station … an old friend put out to pasture, holding too many fond memories to send him to a junk yard. Instead, he stands ever waiting if he should  be called back to duty.

Just this, no more, all within a mile of home. It IS home.

AND STILL WE ARE STRONG

Something So Strong

Tell us the origin story of your best friend. How did you become friends? What is it that keeps your friendship rockin’ after all these years?

- – - – -

We knew each other from across a room. She had dreamed of me. I recognized her. We were friends pretty much instantly. Through 40 years, our lives, even when we were out of touch and on different continents, have followed parallel paths. Our husbands are friends and sometimes similar enough to be startling. We wear the same size clothing, even the same size shoes. Like most of the same music, movies, books.

friends - all of us

Yet we come from completely different backgrounds — ethnically, religiously, culturally. It has never mattered. Not way back when we met or now.

We have seen each other through so many crises, so many rough times and we’ve always managed to be there and banish the gloom. I think the thing we have most in common is a weird, ironic humor … a sense that the only real power we have over a malign fate is our laughter.

Friendships that last a lifetime and remain active and alive, not “memories” of what were, are rare. That two lives could follow such similar paths for so long is almost unheard of, but it happened for us and all I can say is how grateful I am. It is a saving grace when the world is unkind. I know there is one person who can make me laugh no matter how horribly wrong everything is going.

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Status

STATS AND STATS

Good intentions

I meant to write a little something on stats when my followers passed the 2000 mark and certainly when the number of posts exceeded 2000. I meant to, but I forgot. There’s been a lot of stuff going on lately. So much so that by Tuesday of this week, I thought it was Friday. Busy, busy, busy. 72-stats-stats My best month ever was November 2012 with a total of 12,067 views. Between hurricane Sandy and the presidential election, the Internet was a very exciting place. The most hits I’ve ever gotten on a single post was The FBI can’t do a simple Google search? on which I got 10,143 hits. I wrote it during the commercial break.

The posts in second through fifth place in my best-ever list are an old Internet joke and three re-blogs.

I have personally answered nearly all 20,000+ comments. If I didn’t answer yours, it was because I missed it (it happens occasionally) or I ran out of levels to continue the conversation. I am a compulsive comment answerer.

What’s the Secret?

After a lot of careful consideration, the secret to success — such as it is — is to write a lot of stuff people want to read. And publish good photographs. With a few notable exceptions, hits on my pictures exceed hits on my writing.

Size matters. No matter what anyone says, if you post more good stuff, whether you write it yourself, reblog it, have guest bloggers or share the spotlight other writers and/or artists, publishing more gets more hits. There’s a direct correlation between the number of posts and bigger hit counts.

What does it all mean?

I don’t know. I stopped obsessing over statistics. These days, I take a look when I think of it. I like to see how my best work does in “the ratings.” Sometimes stuff I like best does well and I’m pleased.

If a good post (in my opinion) gets overlooked, I scheduled it to for republication. I re-post photos, rework writing. I rerun favorite posts, but I will republish anything. I don’t reblog because I don’t like the way it looks and most people don’t like having to jump link to read the rest of the story.

None of us needs to apologize or explain why we republish our own work. If NBC can do it, so can Serendipity. And so can you.

With more than 2000 published posts, it’s too much material to not reuse at least some of it. There are, of course, posts I’d just as soon forget I ever wrote in the first place — a subject for another day.

Often, an under-appreciated post finds its audience the second or third time around. If you’re prolific, you can be sure not all your readers read every post the first time it was published. And if they did? Well I watch reruns of NCIS often enough to do dialogue with them. Reruns make the world go round.

The most important thing to come out of my blogging experience?

Friends. So many of you have become my friends. You are loyal, caring and I love you. You have been kind, supportive, encouraging … all the things that friends are supposed to be. I cannot begin to thank you. So … thank you. All of you. You make my world a better place every single day.

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NED, THE BIKER WHO PLUMBED

When we moved to this town, Garry was the first person of color, and I was as far as I know, the first (only?) Jew. People said stuff like “Gee, I’ve never known a Jewish person before.” Garry just got stares. Hard to tell if they were staring because they’d seen him on TV or because he’s brown. Both?

Neighbor in winter

Our situation was complicated by our neighbor Ned. A big guy. Rode a Harley. I love Harleys, but there are Harleys and then there are Harleys. This one was chopped and really loud. When Ned started his bike, the vibration alone could knock me out of bed. Ned was massive. Tattooed. He hung with a bunch of skin-head friends. They had raucous parties with lots of beer. We didn’t expect to be invited, nor did these seem to be our kind of party.

Ned flew a Confederate flag over his house. Prominently. We learned he’d always done this. It was part of some family roots thing tying him to his original home state of Georgia. Me? I think it’s time the south moved on. The war ended a more than a century ago. Time to get over it. But I’m from New York so I probably don’t understand.

It was ironic that our neighbor’s house was the only one in the Valley flying a confederate flag. We were the only mixed-race couple in town. It made us twitch. We were a poster couple for hate groups — an ex-New Yorker man of color who worked in media, married to a white Jewish woman, also from New York.

black jockey racist statue

Garry is pragmatic. And feisty. He didn’t survive 40-years as a reporter without having grit. One fine summer’s day, music blaring from Ned’s boombox, Garry looked at me and murmured his fighting words: “This is ridiculous!”

He marched down the driveway, through the woods joining our two houses, to Ned’s front door. Garry knocked. Loudly. When Ned finally answered, Garry said: “Hi. I’m your neighbor. Garry Armstrong. Do we have a problem?”

Shortly the flag disappeared along with a noxious black jockey statue. Turned out, Ned was a plumber. He fixed our bathroom pipes. The whole skinhead thing dissolved in the face of a brown-skinned guy who did news on Boston TV. Seemed it was less important who Ned was than who Ned, with a little help from friends, was willing to become.

Eventually Ned got into drugs or something. We were never sure what. His wife left. His life fell apart. One day, he vanished. Fortunately, he returned our extension ladder before going.

New folks live there now. They are neither friendly nor actively hostile. They object to our dogs barking so much. Hard to argue with that. I also wish they’d shut up. But hey, they’ve got big dogs who do their own share of barking.

I miss Ned. No one fixed pipes like Ned and he always gave us a huge discount. He turned out to be a funny guy and a pretty good neighbor. Who’d have thunk it.

Daily Prompt: Good Fences?

SNOWBOUND, RICH PASCHALL

By Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

As far as Ralph was concerned this was the worst winter ever.  There were years with more snow, that’s for sure.  There were years that brought colder days.  There was never a winter that brought one snow after another followed by one arctic blast after another. Memory had no recollection of this many days below zero.  There were several days pipes were frozen at Ralph’s house, leaving him without water to the kitchen.  After that, every sub-zero day meant water would be left running to prevent from freezing.  Towels and throw rugs were tossed against the bottoms of exterior doors to prevent drafts.  Humidifiers were used to make the house more comfortable and the gas bill…  Well, Ralph did not want to think about that.

75-BigSnowHPCR-7While he hated every day of it, the neighbors might have thought otherwise.  Ralph was always out shoveling the snow that fell or that drifted across the sidewalk in high winds.  Even when the temperature fell below zero, he was out doing something for a little while.  For some years, there were teenagers to be bribed, but this year there were none around so Ralph was resigned to doing the work himself.  When he finished the walks, he would shovel around his car and brush the snow from the windows.  Sometimes a snow plow would push a ridge of snow against the car and then it was time to dig some more.  This winter, Ralph was a busy man.

After he finished the work by his house, he frequently walked down the street about 5 houses and shoveled around an old brown Pontiac.  Some days, he could not do it due to subzero temperature, but when he could he went down there.  No one else on the block seemed to know whose car it was that got so much attention.  Now and then it was moved and parked back in the same area, but when the brutal weather hit, it just stayed put.

And yet, Ralph walked down and cleaned it off, just in case.  It was not Ralph’s car.  He never drove it in his life.  A few on the block might have wondered why he shoveled around the car and cleaned it with great regularity.  It was just something that Ralph felt inside he had to do.

Certainly there were some that felt that a man of Ralph’s age should not be out shoveling snow in such extreme weather.  It was winters like this that made Ralph understand why people retired and moved to Florida or Arizona.  As a matter of fact, Ralph might have retired and moved to Florida on his last birthday when he turned 62, but the pension he paid into for decades lost most of its value 6 years earlier.  It was reduced to 25 per cent of what he had.  He knew he would never make that up in the short time left before he would have to retire.  He just hoped when he did, the meager pension and meager social security would be enough to live on.  It certainly would not be enough to send him to Florida.

One particularly frosty day, Ralph arrived home to some fresh snow on the ground, took his usual parking spot and went right to work. When he finished his walkways and parking area, he was tempted to go in, but decided to walk down to the brown Pontiac anyway.  It was weeks since the car last moved and no one had seen the driver.  Nevertheless, Ralph was on the job, cleaning off the car and all around it.  By the time he was satisfied with his work, his fingers and toes were numb and almost in pain.  As he started to walk away he noticed an old man come carefully down the stairs of a brick 2 flat house and walk toward the Pontiac.  He had a decidedly puzzled look upon his face.  Ralph tossed his brush and shovel aside.

“Hello, Mr. Schuman,” Ralph called out.  “How are you today?”

“Cold,” Mr. Schuman replied with an odd smile that he had acquired whenever he was unsure of what was going on.  “And who are you again, young man?”

“It’s Ralphie, sir.  Ralphie Combs.  I had you for Economics in Senior Year at the high school.”

“Oh,” Schuman said.  “What year was that?”

“I guess it was quite a few years ago, but I remember it well,” Ralphie beamed, as he recalled his senior year.

“Were you one of those boys that I put in the front of the class so I could keep an eye on you?  You look like one of those boys,” Mr. Schuman said with a suspicious glance.

Ralphie laughed.  “Yes, sir.  That was me, sir”  At that Mr. Schuman laughed too.

“Well I was expecting a lot of work on the car today, but all the snow is gone.  I am certain it was piled on there earlier when I looked out the window.”

“It must have been the winds, Mr. Schuman, sir.  The wind was very strong this afternoon and has blown a lot of it down the street.”

“It’s a good thing, because I have to run some errands and shoveling snow is too much for me.  I guess I was pretty lucky with that wind.”

“Yes, sir, I think you were.”

“Well, I have to go young man, it is too cold to stand and chat.  Now you be good.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. Schuman.  I will be good.”

The old teacher got in the old car and drove away.  That few minutes of conversation was the warmest Ralphie felt all winter.

Gallery

FAMILY: APPLES, TREES, BRANCH AND TWIG

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

Other Entries:

WHERE DID IT GO?

It started when, the other day, I reached for my sandwich and discovered a frozen sirloin steak. On my desk. Next to my sandwich. I picked up the solidly frozen beef (it must have been recently taken out of the freezer) and carried it back to the kitchen.  I showed it to Garry.

“Why,” I asked him, “Do your think I might have brought a frozen steak to my office?”

“I have no idea,” he said, “But it sounds like a great post.”

96-MyGear_3

I’m still puzzled about the steak. Usually if I bring something odd to some place even odder, it’s because I meant to grab one thing but instead grabbed the other. However, in this case, I also had brought my drink and my sandwich, so I had brought an extra thing, the frozen sirloin. I put it in the fridge to defrost. The mystery remains unsolved.

Tomorrow, we are going away for a few days to visit friends, a long overdue visit to which we are looking forward. In preparation, I needed to do some sorting. Among the many things I’m taking with us — the gifts I bought for them that needed to be wrapped — I’m giving my buddy my oldest, favorite camera, the Olympus PEN PL-1. It was the first of my mirrorless cameras and I love it. It’s been replaced by newer Olympus PENs — the PM2 and E-P3, both of which are faster but not necessarily better. The PL-1 is the camera on which I took many of my favorite pictures. It came with a great little lens and handles beautifully. It also produces the best color balance of all my cameras.

That’s just background information. Here is where it starts getting complicated. Try to follow along.

On Black Friday or Cyber Monday or maybe during one of the gazillion sales events of the past month, I bought two very fast SD 8 GB memory chips for my cameras, replacing the older slower chips. The camera I’m giving Cherrie has a good, premium chip in it, but when I took the older slower chip out of my camera and put the new one in, I was left with one more chip than I had places or containers to store it.  (Are you still with me? Good.) I thought “Okay, I’ll give the chip to Cherrie as a spare since I don’t need it anyhow. It’s not super fast, but neither is the PL-1.”

96-MyGear_8

I put the chip down on my desk in front of the monitor and proceeded to search my I-don’t-know-how-many camera bags to see if I had any of those little plastic cases to put the chip in. All chips used to come with a little case, but not anymore. Now you have to buy them — talk about a rip-off. I mean really, how much do they save by not giving you a case? Anyhow, at some point, I found a couple of empty chip cases. I turned around to get the chip to put into one of the cases, then realized I needed to take cases out of the bag. I wheeled my chair around again, but couldn’t remember in which bag I’d found the empty cases. I looked where I thought I’d seen them, but they weren’t there. I rotated again. The chip was gone.

During this exercise, my butt never left my desk chair. I never stood up. But I had lost (again) the cases and somehow misplaced the chip too. On one level, it solved a problem. I didn’t need the case anymore because I had no chip to put in it.

Someday, somehow, I’m sure that chip will show up. And maybe so will the cases because they are in one of the bags. But what about the frozen steak?

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DRIVING ALL NIGHT, THEN ALL DAY

Back in college, my housemate Micki had a tall boyfriend and a VW bug. Her boyfriend’s best friend had rich parents and a hunting lodge on a lake in the Adirondacks. One Friday evening, Micki and her beau grabbed me and said “We’re going to the lake. Come on.”

I didn’t have any plans, so we climbed into the bug and headed north. No one had any money. I don’t mean we didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t have any money. I didn’t own a wallet or a driver’s license. Or an official ID. You didn’t need it in those days. Hard to believe, but it was normal to walk around with no money or ID. No cell phones (what’s a cell phone?). I suppose some women carried makeup and stuff, but not me.

1960_volkswagen_beetle

Odd girl out, I sat in the back behind the very tall driver folded like a pretzel. Along the way, we got hungry but lacking money, we didn’t eat. It was a long drive from Long Island to the top of the Adirondacks. The car got hungry too and unlike people, it couldn’t wait. So we saved fuel by coasting down mountains, restarting the engine to go uphill.

We got to the house on the lake just after dawn. It was beautiful, mist rising on the lake. We were exhausted. So was the bug having made the journey on fumes. No rest for the weary. The sun was up. We had to be sociable.

It was some house. Huge, more like a hotel. I wondered what their regular house looked like. Wooden steps led down to a dock and boat. I met Micki’s boyfriend’s friend. We sort of hung out. He made a half-hearted attempt to neck with me, but my disinterest was obvious and he gave up.

After sex was taken off our dance card, he walked me to the lake for a swim. I had borrowed someone’s bathing suit. He dove off the dock. When he surfaced, I called to him. “How is it?”

75-TwilightWebsterLake-3

“Not bad,” he said. So I dove in too and my heart almost stopped. That water was as close to ice as I’ve ever experienced. I thought I was going to die, and porpoise-like leapt back onto the dock, a feat I’ve never matched since.

“What do you mean by ‘not bad’” I squawked.

“It can be a lot colder,” he assured me. We sat for a while on the dock. There were a lot of round holes in the wood.

“What are those holes?”

“Bullet holes,” he said.

“Bullet holes?”

“I shoot the spiders,” he said. “With the rifle.” I hadn’t noticed it, but there it was. Probably for target shooting. But … shoot at spiders? That’s when the biggest spider I’ve ever seen ambled onto the dock. It was the size of my hand … maybe bigger. Black. Furry.

He grabbed the rifle and shot it.

That did it for me. I found Micki, told her to saddle up. We were going home. The two of us begged and borrowed gasoline money and leaving her boyfriend at the lake, headed home. We hadn’t slept in days. I didn’t drive, but Micki was okay as long as I kept poking her to keep her awake.

It was most spontaneous life would ever be for me. Living with Micki was full of surprises. She was a terrible roomie. Never had the rent, ate all my food, borrowed my stuff, never returned anything. And she was the most fun of anyone with whom I ever shared space.

Daily Prompt: A FINAL MEAL BEFORE OBLIVION

If I knew I was about to eat my last meal, that after this would come nothingness — maybe the void or perhaps that place wherein our souls finally rest. It would not matter to me what (if anything) was on my plate. No favorite dessert would have any importance, nor the finest confections of the greatest chefs.

Thanksgiving006

What matters is who I’d dine with. The faces I see around me, the love I feel towards and from the people with whom I’m sharing what would have to be the ultimate special moment.

A banquet? Or a trip to some fast food joint? Why would it matter?

Gather to me the friends and family of a lifetime. Fit us tightly together, body-to-body so we can feel each others’ warmth. I want to share the breath of my friends, feel their touch, the beating of each and every heart. If the world and I are going to end, let me be with people I love.

IMAGINE THAT! THE IMAGINE AWARD COMES TO SERENDIPITY

Dawn Hosking, a woman who hasn’t let fibromyalgia (ouch!) stop her … or even more than slightly slow … her hurtling passage through cyber-space, has honored me with a brand new award created by the lovely Jenny at My Fibrotastic LIfe.  

How can I not admire Dawn’s site? It looks a bit like mine, after all. It is one of the few blogs I can visit that has sufficient white space. I can read it and stay awhile without getting a headache. Too many of us clutter our sites with every widget and badge until there’s no place to rest your eyes. Fine if that’s what you want, but I appreciate white space. Probably that’s a remnant of my life in the world of books. But I digress.

edward-gorey-donald-imagined-things

She deals with her physical issues without whining. That’s not easy. Sometimes, I feel extremely whiney. Snivelly and whiny and miserable and scared and all I want is to go online and beg people to send love and cash (or checks or money orders). Usually I resort to humor to keep from humiliating myself, but she does it with just enough humor to keep from being — what’s that word? Oh, I got it. — dull. That’s what she isn’t, just in case you got lost in my Byzantine sentence structure. She keeps us reading and wanting more. To really spice it up, she includes information that is accurate, useful and can be passed on the medical professionals who rule our lives.

And speaking of writing, Dawn can. Write, I mean. She can tell a story. Whether it’s about herself, or something imagined, or just talking about “stuff” going on in the world, on WordPress, or whatever. She expresses herself simply, cleanly, without excessive embellishment or convolutions. Like the white space on her page, it’s refreshing and easy on the brain cells.

the-imagine-award1

About THE IMAGINE AWARD: 

“The Imagine Award” is an award created by Jenn Mulherin (who is the writer of the blog “My Fibrotastic Life!”) in October of 2013. This award was made in order to recognize the bloggers who express their passion and dedication towards their blogs through their creativity.”

How is creativity found in a blog?

There are many ways by which bloggers can express their creativity. Creativity can be displayed through:

  1. Words — fiction writing, real-life experiences, memories, humor, poetry, quotes, metaphors, tackling issues, parody, reviews and so much more. What can’t you do with words? The sky’s the limit and these days, not even the sky is a limit.
  2. Graphics including photography, comics, computer-drawn graphics, cartoons, paintings, illustrations and more.
  3. Video. Personally, linking a YouTube video is about as far as I’ve gotten with this one, so I greatly admire those who have found far more creative ways to use this medium.
  4. Layout of the post itself and the blog page. We are all constrained to some degree by whatever template we choose, but within those constraints it is remarkable how many artistic choices remain to us.
  5. I’d like to add community to this list. It takes a unique type of creativity to draw others in to form a community. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Some people create networks that stretch around the globe while the rest of us remain essentially on our own … wondering how those amazing others form solid durable relationships with people they’ve never met in person.

Why is creativity so important?

Creativity is one quality in a blog that not only draws readers, but shows how much a blogger cares about his or her (or their) blog. Taking care of a blog is like taking care of a plant. To keep it healthy and growing, you feed the blog with your ideas and give it a lot of love. And time. (I dream about mine!)

Here’s what you need to do to accept the Imagine Award:

In a post dedicated to this award:

  1. Copy and paste The Imagine Award into your post.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog page to your post.
  3. List 3-5 things about the nominator’s blog that you like (which you think are very creative).
  4. Nominate 5 other bloggers/blogs which you think display a fantastic use of creativity and imagination.
  5. Notify your nominees.
  6. Display The Imagine Award to your blog’s award page.

Should you prefer to decline The Imagine Award, that’s okay, but please — pass the award to a blog you find really creative. If it inspires you, even better.

Now, back to that envelope. Since Dawn has already given this to a couple of people who’d be on my list … well … you beat me to it. Great minds think alike and if this isn’t proof, I don’t know what is. I’m giving this to people who actually inspire me. I refuse to be responsible for what they do about it after I give it to them. I give the awards. You will have to deal with them :-) Just play nice and say thank you Marilyn (all together now: THANK YOU MARILYN!)

LASERS, MONSTERS AND BARBARIANS OH MY! is a totally bizarre blog that makes me laugh. Half the time I haven’t any idea what he is talking about. Creative language skills and effective integration of graphics media — including video — has made this one a keeper, even though I wind up scratching my head and saying “huh?”

ALIENORAJT - Creative, sensual and blunt writing from Ali’s pen… And so it is! What she doesn’t mention is she is funny, sensitive, kind, bawdy, bizarre and a master (mistress?) of words. They fall from her virtual pen like a tidal wave of wit and unique imagery. Sometimes, imagery so intense I can’t escape it for hours … or at all. Ever. Like a haunting (annoying?) little song, it just goes round and round. Whatever else, call this woman creative. Fantastically, magically creative. In every way. Her response is here..

CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS is one of the most eclectic and amusing sites I know. She writes (very well) about anything and everything, from family life to cooking and politics. Her humor is wry and ironic. She employs subtle wit and honesty as a rapier. I never miss one of her posts and reading her stories and anecdotes gets me thinking about what I am going to write. Great work!

I’M JUST SUPER SAIYAN is pretty new, but she’s a pistol of creativity. It’s worth a visit just for the hand-drawn cartoons. And she’s funny, witty, and so far … prodigiously productive. Being a grandmother, it’s fun for me to plug into a younger world and see what they’re doing, saying. The new words used in an old way, the old words used in a new way. For graphic creativity and humor, this young woman absolutely deserves The Imagine Award.

DRALIMAN ON LIFE - Because sometimes life just makes you stop and think. Not only does he make me stop and think, he makes me stop and laugh, makes me admire his very cute cartoons. Are they cartoons or doodles? Droodles? Whatever. I didn’t know physicists had a sense of humor. Go figure, right? He’s also … gasp … a shockingly talented writer, both of fiction and oddball posts about anything and everything. I worked as a tech writer for a very long time … and to find someone who’s a scientist or engineer who’s funny and can write too? Wow. I mean, that’s like discovering a new species of something cute and furry, or a star cluster or well something anyhow. Check him out. You will like him, I absolutely guarantee it. Or your money back. Has anyone ever gotten their money back? Just asking.

Daily Prompt: HOME SWEET VIRTUAL HOME

I’ve been trying to figure out why I missed Serendipity so much. It was less than a week, I felt like I was missing a body part. Why? Isn’t one site the same as another?

75-PumpkinsGAR-56

It turns out, no, they aren’t. Every blog has a unique flavor, a personality. They grow and change with whoever is minding it and in response to feedback from readers and followers. In other words, you. It took me almost two years to develop an active following for Serendipity. I know many of you as friends. I know stuff about your lives. I know what makes you laugh, grabs your interest. Over the almost 1500 posts I have put up on Serendipity, I tailored my writing to accommodate your interests … and mine. Finding that balance has been a dance, a complex two-step of trial and error.

Sunset Barnstable autumn

I love making you laugh. I enjoy poking holes in “what everyone says.” Your comments and responses give me ideas and feed my muse — and she’s a hungry babe. And you feed my soul, answer my need to relate to a wider world. To be part of something more than me alone.

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Writing a new blog is strange, like standing at a podium in a city I’ve never visited, knowing I have to give a speech to an audience of strangers. I know some of my old friends are out there, but I can’t see past the footlights. I’m not sure if this new group will like me. I’m not everyone’s cuppa tea.

The new people don’t know my history. Here I have a storyline which builds on itself. I don’t have to explain who I am. Here, I can build from the last story, link earlier stories, refer to things I’ve written about before. It’s the difference between comfortably chatting with an old friend and cultivating a new one who doesn’t know any of your personal history or those quirky twists and turns of your brain.

New acquaintances can easily misunderstand my peculiar brand of humor! It’s definitely odd. Weird, even.

Forgive me while I fumble a bit, trying to find my feet, but please check out Serendipity Redux. I don’t know what it will be yet. It hasn’t its own personality. How it grows — or fails to grow — will have a lot to do with you. The ground is slippery — new territory.

Autumn tree 1

I didn’t intend to start over, though I knew I would have to, sooner or later because the volume of material being supported on Serendipity is perilously large. It’s exploding; there are a lot of warning glitches. The mechanics of Blogger are different than here at WordPress. It’s not a criticism of either platform: it’s merely different. It will be a while before it feels like home.

Until then, this is still my cyber home.

ARE YOU SURE? REALLY? 100,000 HITS? ME? WOW … THANKS GUYS!

100,000 HITS

A few hours ago while we were stuck in traffic on Route 95, I hit two major milestones: 600 followers and 100,000 hits. On the same day — entirely coincidentally. I wrote this post a couple of days ago . I knew the 100,000 would happen this week. (The 600 followers was a total surprise.)

When I started blogging, I wasn’t sure why. A year and a half later, I still couldn’t tell you why. I still don’t know. The simplest explanation is the truest: I enjoy it. I love writing and having people read it. Having an audience is a huge gift. Writers really need readers. Anyone who says they write for themselves is lying … to themselves, if not everyone else. Fortunately, readers need writers. Together we have a wonderful synergy.

I mustn’t forget photography. I’ve been taking pictures almost as long as I’ve been writing. Posting my favorites — not to mention Garry’s photos and other members of the family — really beats out slide shows after dinner or emailing them to people who may or may not even open the attachment. Finally, I get feedback. Somebody out there likes me!

I’m not as good a photographer as many of you. Some of you who follow me — I can’t figure out why. I’m flattered, of course, but you are so much better than me. Despite all the years this has been my hobby, I’m still a babe in the woods with Photoshop. I never seem to get the beautiful “finish” the rest of you get. Part of it is equipment. Lenses to be more exact. I don’t have the great glass I would like. I wish I could throw money at it, but not now. I live in hope of miracles.

Where does hope live? Where is the place we live when life’s not treating us well? When things are going wrong and if you stop and think about it, your brain turns to jelly and you can’t form a coherent thought? When the magnitude of the problems in your life exceed your capacity to process?

Me? I read, write and make pictures. I read your posts, look at your pictures. Sometimes I comment, often I read, look, smile and leave a “like” behind, kind of a calling card to say “Hey, I was here!” I wish I could spend more time on your sites but I run out of time. This blogging thing … it really chews up the hours and days.

I started small. I posted something once in a while and then didn’t post anything for a while, then started putting a few things up now and then. Then … oh, I don’t know. I just got into it. There was no epiphany, no revelation. One day, I just felt I should write, post a picture. The next day, I felt that way again, so I did and then more than once a day.

It was the presidential election that sucked me into the maelström with a vengeance. Talk about lively. The Internet wasn’t merely buzzing. It was screaming. People who normally wouldn’t get involved were out there, giving their opinions on every public forum. The cyber world was wild and I got a share of the action. I doubt I’ll ever post numbers as high as I did in October and November 2012. Crazy numbers, crazy time.

It’s easy to blog when there’s huge controversy everywhere, gigantic hurricanes washing away the right coast of the U.S. It’s harder now. There is always a horrible political thing going on but I find myself writing about my smaller world. Sometimes, it’s about how my little world intersects with the great big world. That’s when politics become deeply personal.

The road, as J.R.R. Tolkien says, goes on and on … back to the point where it began.

And so it does. There’s no starting point, no inherent end. I write, I take pictures and will do that as long as I can. Eventually, after the New Year, I’ll have to stop. For a while. Hopefully not too long a while, but I know it will happen. I hope you folks will remember me and come back to visit now and then.

Meanwhile, it’s been a Hell of a ride. I remember when I got my first 5,000 hits and thought “Wow! 5,000! Never thought this would happen!” and the numbers kept marching upward. A couple of months ago, it became obvious I would cross over the 100,000 mark — a biggie. So … what next?

I never had a plan for my site. 100,000 hits was never a goal. I never told myself if I get “this many followers” or “that many hits,” I will know I’m successful. I consider myself successful because running this site gives me so much pleasure and I don’t want to stop. There are popular blogs that baffle me (why?) and wonderful blogs that fall by the wayside. You can take you best guess at figuring out (1) what constitutes success and (2) why it comes to some, but not others equally or more deserving. Some of is luck, stumbling onto a topic that catches peoples’ attention. And getting noticed by people who help promote you. And I suspect much of it is persistence — posting interesting material often so everyone knows they can always find new stuff on your site.

I never had a goal. I still don’t. I love writing and photography. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world. Learning how their lives are the same and different from mine. Chatting through comments. Getting new ideas. It is the stuff you guys say, in comments and on your own sites, that triggers what I write. You feed my imagination, inspire my muse. And challenge me to be better.

Thanks. Everyone. Really thank you. Truly you are the wind beneath my wings.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside The Yarn Shoppe

I peeked inside the old shop. Outside, looking in. Old Williamsburg. The Yarn Shoppe.

Yarn Shoppe back door

It’s right there, on Main Street. I didn’t go in. Looking through the partly open door at the back of the shop was perfect. I didn’t need more. It would have spoiled the moment.

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