75,000 Hits – Wow. Gee. Golly.

Yesterday I passed 75,000 hits. In the not very distant future, I’ll cross the Rubicon of 100,000. What does it mean? It’s nice to have substantial numbers. If after all this effort, I didn’t have something to show for it, I’d probably give up blogging. It has been an interesting and sometimes exhilarating year.

Dogged determination got me through a lot of it while trying to work out a formula to create high quality content — every day — and still leave time for the rest of my life. It eventually paid off. Most importantly, it got me writing again. When I started blogging, I hadn’t written anything but email in years. Writing is good for me. It gets my mental gears meshing, makes me reconnect with the world.

Serendipity got off to a slow start. Although I began it in February of 2012, it was well into summer before I began to take it seriously, post regularly. Last June, I was thrilled to get 40 hits a day. I couldn’t imagine getting 75,000 hits. Ever.

I caught some lucky breaks. A couple of my posts hit at a perfect time, a little ahead of events. Pure luck. The rest of it, though, was a determined effort to figure out a way to create good, interesting content and still have time for a life.


Posting daily makes it tempting to just put something, anything out there. For a long time, I reblogged a lot. I’m a pretty good curator and I think I chose good material, but ultimately the sheer weight of so much stuff became a problem. I had to rethink my approach.

I decided if I need a day off — or I just don’t have time to put something together properly — it’s better to rerun my own material. Some of you commented on my reruns; some think it’s cheating. Frankly I can’t see how reblogging someone else’s posts isn’t cheating, but reworking ones own material is. It doesn’t make sense. Every television station reruns shows all the time, so why can’t Serendipity rerun posts? I have favorite pieces I’d run every day if I could get away with it. Gradually, over the past few months, I’ve been limiting reblogs and reworking my articles and photographs. And deleting, deleting, deleting.

And, like distant thunder, the numbers keep rolling in. By the time you read this, they will have chugged along, heading toward the next milestone.

Change is constant

I’ve been changing Serendipity slowly but steadily. Without fanfare and some folks haven’t even noticed, but if you look at past months, the difference is pretty obvious. There is always a price to pay when you stop providing what your audience has come to expect. In my case, it resulted in about a 20% drop in traffic, though it’s picking up again. I think it was a worthwhile trade. Serendipity is a better site. Better designed, better material.

There’s less of a “kitchen sink” feel to it. More focus on reviews — books, movies, television and technology. More stories, less philosophy. More photo essays but in total, fewer posts.


I’ve deleted hundreds of old posts — more than 300 so far and lots more to go. I was storing over a thousand articles. It was too much. Even with all the deleting, there are too many posts, but deleting has to be done slowly and carefully for technical and aesthetic reasons. I’m working my way from earliest to most recent. It’s hard to let go. I fall in love with words. It hurts to throw them away, but everything gets old. We all have to clean house.

Staying fuzzy

After a full year of daily blogging, I am finally seeing a shape emerging, a sense of what this thing I’m doing is and maybe where it’s going. It’s soft and fuzzy, but I don’t need it sharp. Edges become boundaries. I want the freedom to change directions whenever I feel like it. I don’t want to commit to a course. Life already has too many restrictions. Commonsense, personal inclination and good taste should suffice to keep me on track.


This blog is my free space. It is intentionally amorphous. I gave Serendipity to me as a reward for years of following rules I hated, stupid rules enforced by ignorant people. Now, if the rules are stupid or ignorant, they are my own and I have no one to blame.

75,000 is a big number

Numbers have great symbolic power. It’s those tens and fives , numbers that match our fingers and toes. I blithely ignored 71,000, 73,000 and have watched the ascent past 74,000 to the nice round 75,000.

daily numbers

What can you expect in the next months and years at Serendipity? I’m not sure. I’m going somewhere for which I have no map. We’ll go there together and see what we see. I’ll write stories about it, take pictures along the way.

You can count on book reviews. Stories. A rant or two. Technology, gadgets, movies. Lots of photographs. I’ll try to make you laugh, cry, buy cool gadgets. I hope you’ll hang with me because you — all of you — friends, followers, occasional visitors have changed me and my world. You’ve introduced me to art, movies, books and ideas. I’d never have found all this great stuff without your nudges, hints, suggestions.

Change is ongoing. I may find something fascinating and new or may go back to things I’ve allowed to get dusty. It’s a messy erratic unpredictable thing, this business of living. Serendipity is alive. Messy. Like me.

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Daily Prompt: Goals – None are so easily achieved!

I started blogging because people kept telling me I should. All my friends. My husband. My family. I’ve always been a writer, professionally and personally. I’d been sick a lot and for a very long time. A decade of being on the edge of dying is a lot of dying time and I was finally beginning to be a person again. The siege was lifting.

Facebook never did it for me. I never liked the format, the scattershot nature of posting. I have so many connections that aren’t friends, just people with whom I played various games. Even my circle of “friends” wasn’t a natural audience.

I had been following a WordPress blog for some months, ATMTX PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG. Every time I wanted to comment, I had to go through an annoying identification process unless I registered. One day, I registered. I picked a name for a mythical blog I might want to write. I chose Serendipity because I’m a serendipitous kind of gal. I had absolutely no intention of doing anything with it, but it made following other peoples’ blogs and commenting easier.

That was January 2012. In February, I put up an “About Me” page and posted a photograph because as an enthusiastic amateur, I have a great many pictures. Thousands, though many are not good enough to post anywhere but a family album. Still, there were some I thought someone besides my husband might enjoy. It was more than a month before I posted anything else. In March, I posted once, maybe twice. In April, not at all. In May, I found myself posting a couple of times a week. It was like writing letters. I wrote about whatever was on my mind or had caught my interest in the news. The presidential campaign was heating up, though it wasn’t red-hot yet.

Summer was slow. Vacation kept me away a lot. I posted, but it wasn’t particularly interesting or exciting material and my numbers reflected the ho-hum quality of the work.

And then, it rolled into August. Political hell broke loose. America became engulfed in a civil war of words on the Internet. I jumped in too. My numbers soared overnight. When Sandy, the Monster Storm, hit in September, it gave me plenty to write about. October was all-out class warfare. November. Election and aftermath. A tsunami of opinion, violence. Craziness everywhere. It was my biggest month, bringing in numbers I haven’t matched yet.


By then, I was posting daily, more than once a day. I was reblogging other people’s work. I had found friends and colleagues on the Internet. We used each other as sounding boards and still do. The sense of community was not theoretical. I was part of it and I loved it.

The months have rolled on. I still have no goals. The question keeps coming up and I really think about it, but no matter how long and hard I ponder the question, I can’t find a reason better than my original non-goals. I love to write. I have a lot of opinions. And blogging gives me my own space to post photographs where people other than my immediate family can see them.


I’ve achieved much more than I ever imagined because I never imagined anything at all. I’ve gotten close to 73,000 hits and although I’ve never been Freshly Pressed, apparently there are people who think I’m interesting enough to follow. I’ve made a difference to a few lives.

To know I’ve actually made a difference is a great feeling. Addictive.

Apple Blossoms

I have a focus for my time, a way to use the words roiling around in my head. In my working years, I always wrote for a defined goal and was paid for it. Now, at last, I can write about anything. I have no boss, no word limit, no corporate guidelines. Sadly, I don’t get the paycheck, but I have freedom. That’s worth a lot. And I’ve got a reason gear up, grab my cameras and go take pictures.

I’ve gotten much more than I ever imagined or expected.

Goals? What more could I need or want? Oh, I know. Send money? Please?

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Daily Prompt: Key Takeaway — Capture the Mist

A good idea is like a dream.  Perhaps it is a dream, in waking form.  It comes misty and bright, beautiful, floating in your mind. Catch it  before it flies away because it may fade to a vague memory in mere minutes.

I don’t mean you need to fully realize every concept the moment it flashes across your consciousness. But do write it down immediately. Jot it on a piece of paper, as a note in your telephone or computer. Write it somewhere, at least the outline and a few words about your vision. Ideas, flashes and thoughts are ephemeral. They fly away as life intrudes on your consciousness, as reality steals your focus and memories.

The idea you were sure you couldn’t forget can vanish as fast as morning mist. Catch it before it gets away!

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Daily Prompt: Personal Space – Freedom and Compromise

No matter how many ways you slice and dice it, there is always some compromise between blogging for oneself and designing posts to attract a bigger audience. There’s little reason to blog if no one else is enjoying your work. I’m suspicious of people who say they don’t care whether or not anyone visits their site. If that were true, why bother? Why not keep a diary? Much of the joy of blogging is being part of a community, of forming relationships all over the world.

The compromise? I try not to get blinded by my own enthusiasms and remain mindful that some things I love aren’t interesting to most other people. My passion for medieval history and religious philosophy is not everybody’s cup of tea. Even my most ardent fan — my husband — will glaze over when I stay over long in one of these areas. So, when I post this material, I don’t expect to draw a huge audience. I’ve been occasionally surprised when such a post is well-received. Then again, I’m often not so pleasantly surprised when a post I think will have great appeal goes uncommented and unnoticed.

There’s no logical explanation why one post hits big and another does not find an audience. I have run the same posts multiple times and gotten very different results each time though I haven’t changed anything. Luck and timing count too. That’s the wild card.


For the most part, I do what pleases me. I know writing on “hot” topics can produce bigger numbers, but I will only get involved in current trends if it genuinely interests me. Overall, my strategic lack of strategy has worked out pretty well. I get decent numbers, have a loyal following, have formed good relationships with other bloggers and as a reward, genuinely enjoy what I’m doing. If I only wrote to get “the popular vote,” it would be like having an unpaid job. On the other hand, knowing that there are people out there who really like my stuff is satisfying and makes the effort worth it. Without the satisfaction of sometimes making a difference, I’d quit.

It is a balancing act. I won’t ignore the topic or event that appears to be on everyone’s mind, but I will not automatically write about the current hot topic just because it’s hot. I try to avoid mindless partisanship and to keep an open mind. Easier said than done. I could be more popular if I worked at it, but the place I am is good. I believe it will get better. I’m not tied to a boss or an editorial policy.

I get to be myself. So far, so good.

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Epically Awesome Award of Epic Awesomeness

Marilyn Armstrong:

I’ve been many things, but Epically Awesome is BIG and well, AWESOME :-) I promise to respond in full soon as possible. My other half and I have not been feeling well and we’ve been very low energy … which for me makes it difficult to be prolifically creative. As soon as I perk up even a little bit, I shall put my energy into saying a proper thank you to Natasha and the other folks who have honored me. Meanwhile, an itsy-bitsy reblog seems appropriate. Thank you Natasha. You are young, but you are wise, Grasshopper.


Originally posted on Films and Things:


I’ve been very kindly nominated for the ‘epically awesome award of epic awesomness’ by Kim over at Tranquil Dreams, so a big thank you to her :D check out her blog if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it :D Also a nomination from Meera Darji, who also has a brilliant blog that you should definitely have a look at :D

So on to the rules, which are very simple;

1. Tell 10 epic and/or awesome facts about yourself.

2. Pass it on to 10 bloggers you think are awesome and/or epic – or both.

I might do a mixture of photos and facts because I’m not sure I can come up with ten interesting things!!

  1. I met Carol Ann Duffy a year or two ago, and she sat at a big table with all the Alevel English Literature students in my sixth form (which included me). We…

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Blogging Part 4: Etiquette Part II

Marilyn Armstrong:

I try hard to answer every comment, at least to acknowledge that I’ve received it. It’s courtesy and it’s also the only way to have a dialogue with ones readers and get to know them (and vice versa). I think it matters. Others obviously don’t agree. Because I know that the response rate to my comments is no better than 50% across the board.

Originally posted on MikesFilmTalk:

That little badge of excellence.

That little badge of excellence.

Metaphorically strolling through the recent entries on the Freshly Pressed page, I noticed a disturbing trend. Some of these recent winners of that coveted page placement aren’t responding to their comments. They are responding to a few, but not many.

When I got Freshly Pressed last year, I tried my damnedest to answer every single person who commented. I would have continued doing so if I hadn’t had a heart attack and wound up in hospital and almost dying. At that point my blog and getting Freshly Pressed was forgotten. I think it would be safe to say that the only things that existed in the world for me at that point was the hospital.

If I remember correctly, when I came home four days later, full of scars, stitches and medication, the first thing I did was to check my blog and answer comments.

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The Best Moment Award – Honored, Humble and Grateful!

A huge thank you goes to Mike at Mikes Film Talk, who thinks more of me than I think of me. By giving me this award, he has honored me while simultaneously depriving me of someone on whom I would have liked to bestow this award. Mike certainly deserves it. He has a great site that is only partly film-centric. Mike is a lot more than a film critic. He is a literary omnivore, writing everything from personal history and fiction, to book and movie reviews. And such excellent writing it is. Please make sure to visit him. You’ll be glad you did.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the folks over at Moment Matters for originating this unique award. They’ve also created a fine logo for recipients to display on their walls. There are words and music to accompany it. I’m sorry I don’t have the music, but following are the words and they’re lovely:


Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered -
Savoring the experience of quality time.

Pretty nice! As with most awards in the WordPress Blogging community, there are a few rules. Simple guidelines. Not onerous, but specific. Since this is my first encounter with this award, here they are. They are simple:


  1. You can reuse this post, altered to reflect your nominees and including your acceptance speech. You can reuse as much of this post as makes sense for you.
  2. Your can write your speech or put it on video.
  3. Winners have the privilege of awarding  The Best Moment Award to chosen recipients. Your post should contain the individuals and blogs you are nominating.
  4. There is no specific requirement for number of new recipients.
  5. Inform your winners you’ve chosen them.
  6. As a courtesy, please link back to whoever gave you the award.


I’ve included these since they are a legacy from Mike’s post and provides guidelines if you need help:

  • What makes a good acceptance speech?
    • Gratitude. Thank the people who helped you along the way
    • Humor. Keep us entertained and smiling
    • Inspiration. Make your story touch our lives
  • Get an idea from the great acceptance speeches, compiled in MomentMatters.com/Speech
  • Display the award’s badge on your blog/website, downloadable in MomentMatters.com/Award

Acceptance Speech:

I’m genuinely touched by this award. Touched and grateful. Receiving appreciation from ones peers is a special kind of recognition. It means more than I can easily express.

Living in the moment has become a way of life. After finally admitting I have no control over the future, I relaxed, stopped trying to push the river, and began to enjoy whatever came, even stuff I would have considered “bad news” in my misspent youth. I’m a lot happier since I stopped trying to force life to go my way. Living in the moment and going with the flow takes a whole lot less effort than fighting the current. Whatever chills and thrills come with the ride, I’m ready. Remarkably, I keep discovering it’s fun. Live and learn. I wish I’d learned a little earlier!

This moment — this exact moment in time — IS your life! This is the day you’ve been waiting for. It will never come again. Enjoy it.

I am delighted to accept The Best Moment Award originated by MomentMatters.comanother site definitely worth checking out.

I never stop being awestruck when I realize I have influenced someone in a positive way, maybe even made a difference in one or more lives in this mad, mad world. Again, thank you Mike!

Blogging has become very important to me. I have always been a writer, but until I started blogging, I never wrote about personal things. As a professional, I wrote what I was paid to write. Now, I write from my head and my heart. It has been life changing. Everything inspires me. Other bloggers — especially Mike — have influenced me in more ways than I can list. But in the end, all of  life is inspiration.

To all of my friends and followers, thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to share mine. The blogging community has given me a sense of purpose, participation, comradeship and a much broader life-view than I ever had before. There’s a lot of ugly stuff going on everywhere. Scary stuff, unfair, wrong, dangerous, evil. We haven’t the power fix everything, but we have some influence as individuals and collectively. We can help each other through difficult times, rejoice with each other over triumphs (they are few enough), and maybe give something  back to our human community.

Everything we share has value. Knowledge, memories, pictures that express beauty or expose evil. Stories we write, books we read and recommend. Movies we see and share. Humor that banishes sadness. It’s not just big ideas that matter. Small things resonate and change lives too. Never think the ordinary parts of life are not worth exploring. They may be the most important of all.

Anything we do to make someone feel good, help them think in a different direction, see the world in a new way, is a deed well done. By giving of ourselves, we continue to grow the chain of good will around the world. If blogging has any ultimate purpose, that’s it.

I have saved every “like” I’ve ever gotten and will continue to do so until my email explodes. I am so glad you like me . What a miracle this virtual community is to me. You touch me. I love reading your comments, love answering them. Love writing them, too because I want you to know I appreciate your work. That people follow me makes me glow in the dark. No really, it does. It saves a lot of electricity!

For all of you who I follow, each of you enriches me. Your views about the world, your pictures of it, your understanding and your humor brighten my days, keep my mind alive and make my world exciting.

Like Mike, I have felt the wings of the dark angel brush me. Life is infinitely precious with all of its perils and problems.

Thank you all for making my world a better place to live, and thank you Mike for appreciating the best of me.

The winners for the Best Moment Award are:

I have had to think hard about this one because I can’t give it back to Mike, who I would have given it to. Like Mike, I’m going to limit this to people who really actually truly have influenced me and changed me way of thinking, writing, looking at reality or unreality, as you would have it.

  • For Sharla at Catnip of Life – She’s having a rough patch and I know she’s not really online right now, but eventually when her life is less fraught, she’ll be back and this award, so well-deserved, will be waiting for her. With all the wretched difficulties going on in her world, she is endlessly kind, caring, and good. Deep to the bone, a good person. You don’t meet so many of them!
  • For Rarasaur who has a name, but I can never find it when I need it. She shares my somewhat addled and bizarre view of life, has overcome much and has much to overcome. With sense of humor intact and flags flying, she’s challenged me to match concept and vision in new ways.  and I’ve been having a great deal of fun with her various blogging challenges that force me to put pictures and concepts together and make them coherent. Better yet, she makes me laugh.
  • To Hot Rod Cowgirl whose photo essays make me yearn for a life I’ve never had and has become something of an icon and a living hope for me … to be in the mountains surrounded by nature and horses and sunsets is a dream and it makes me glad that someone is really living it.
  • To Tyson at Head In a Vice. It’s not about movies, though he writes great reviews — mostly about movies I’m unlikely to watch. It’s how he brings people together. Starting with a fondness for horror movies, he has created a community of inclusion, involving all kinds of people in his projects and always having something kind to say about everyone, no matter how strange their choices or taste. He has worked hard and deserves recognition.

To everyone else, I know you and appreciate you. I’m trying to follow the leader in making this award specific to people who, as they live in their moment and in sharing them, have made their moments mine.

I apologise in advance to anyone who may feel slighted. Most of you have gotten awards from me in the past and will again in the future. This one is specific; I hope I’ve chosen well. There are a few of you to whom I don’t give awards because you don’t want them. But I appreciate you anyhow! I have many wonderful followers and I don’t like having to choose. But sometimes — and this is one of those time — that’s the way it is.

My awardees are a varied bunch, but each is great in his/her own way.

The last part of this Award process is the instruction to share this with your followers and to tweet your “success” with the hash tagged  #MomentMatters. And as soon as I figure out how to do that, I will!

Congratulations to all my winners and I want you to know that you have touched me.


60,000 Hits … and I’m a Versatile Blogger, too!

I passed the 60,000 hit mark today, so it seemed an opportune time to accept the Versatile Blogger Award from Dorothy at Eyes to Heart.

It is a pleasure and an honor to receive this award and I am grateful to be found worthy. Dorothy creates images and matches them with words that catch the essence of things, like starlight in a bottle. Some remarkable imagery that I urge you to explore. She is special and has a unique perspective. If you need an example, the following picture of a piece of the  Sydney Opera House is a fine example of the beauty she sees.

Sydney Opera House Roof Detail

 Recognition is always gratifying and it’s lovely when an award and a milestone coincide. This one seems especially appropriate and timely. When members of the blogging community recognize one as having some sort of genuine talent, it makes up for a lot.

If prophets have no honor in their home town, bloggers don’t get no respect from family and friends. They may love us, but they know no matter how wise and witty we seem to be online, we are really the same jerks they’ve known since we were kids and probably even jerkier. Fortunately, blogging gives us a fresh start, letting us show our best face to the world. Our new friends don’t have to know about the other stuff, things we barely remember ourselves because after so many tequila shots, who remembers? It’s good to have a wider world ’cause the folks who had to haul your unconscious butt home in the back of a VW beetle will never give you an award for being versatile, inspiring, or anything else.

versatileblogger11The Versatile Blogger Award is a favorite award because it seems more “me” than other blogging awards. I’ve never aimed to be a particular kind of blogger, never focussed on one area to the exclusion of others. Versatile and mutable would be good descriptors for me as a blogger and a person. I respond to the feelings of others as if they were my own. I react to events rather than marching to a particular drum or along a specific path. When I was younger, I could be enlisted in particular causes, but as I’ve gotten older, I try to use my energy efficiently and let  life and the universe direct where my efforts will be best used. For the astrologically inclined, it’s a Pisces thing. We are tidally related to our world. As the waters ebb and flow, so do we. We do not march nor follow dogma, but can create quite a strong current when we direct our flow to a purpose.

I don’t know from day-to-day what will catch my fancy, what event, dream or thought will set my fingers flying over the keys. The relative importance of my memories and how I feel about them isn’t fixed. I feel very differently about almost everything now than I did a few years ago and will continue to change as life twists me into new shapes. I doubt 16-year-old me would recognize 66-year-old me. I’m not even sure they would like each other.

Now to the business of accepting this award. There are some rules that go with it. I bend these rules as I bend all rules. You’ll just have to deal with it. If this were the Oscars, I’d make a long, boring speech. I would thank everyone I’ve ever known until someone gave me the hook and dragged me bodily from the stage, but this isn’t the Academy Awards and I’ve always thought those speeches were stupid. I’ll just say “Thank you” and get on with it to good parts.

These are the traditional rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, name the bloggers to whom you would like to pass the award and send them a link to tell them you’ve selected them.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself,

Since I’m not traditional, I do things a little differently. I feel I’ve told everybody just about everything they could possible want to know about me, so I tell you about my world in pictures. I so not limit myself to naming a specific number of blogs or bloggers as nominees. Not everyone wants or accepts awards and sometimes, you’ve given awards to just about everyone you know and it’s time to give it a rest for a while. Fortunately (or not?) for my community, I have a little list so after you have viewed my gallery of selected images, you may find your name listed. Some are people to whom I always give awards because I always think they deserve them. Others are recent members of my community.

Catnip/Awakenings I have intentionally omitted because she is fighting other battles right now. Sharla, I love you, and you are not forgotten. Take care of Jim and be strong. I’ll give you a dozen or so awards when you are ready to deal with them.

Now the fun part. Here are the blogs I nominate for The Versatile Blogger Award. I hope when you have a moment you’ll take an opportunity to pay them a visit. These blogs have moved and inspired me each in their own way, and while I’m not always able to visit as regularly as I would like, I do appreciate you and you matter to me more than you might imagine.

The Recovering Legalist

Christine M Grote


Films and Things

My Favorite Westerns

My Beautiful Things

With a Friend Like Gary


Sunday Night Blog


Reflections of a Book Addict

Silk Screen Views

Head In A Vice

Mikes Film Talk

Thanks to all of you and I encourage everyone who stops by here to check out these wonderful bloggers. They are creative, original voices that will make you smile, make you think and maybe, inspire you to try new things and go new places.

To anyone I left out, I am sorry. Some of you I know don’t want awards, others I’ve awarded very recently. No one is really forgotten. I’ll catch you on the next round!


1001 Posts and The Dragon’s Loyalty Award

I have been nominated for two awards: The Versatile Blogger Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger award by the remarkable  John W. Howell, at Fiction Favorites. If you are a lover of words and books, you should visit his site. There’s a lot to see and a great deal to learn.

He is a multi-talented man and he shares his experience and knowledge freely. John, for his part, received this pair of awards from Katrina Perkins, a woman whose blog is always worth a visit since she has great scoops on the stage and film-making businesses. It was Katrina’s idea to package this pair of awards into one called The Dragon’s Loyalty Award.

She created a special logo for this duo. It’s on the right. You might not want it on the coffee table, though for me, it depends on the size of the dragon. If it’s a little dragon, I might quite enjoy having it front and center in the living room. Keep the pups in their place. Besides, we already have a plethora of statuettes. Not mine, but impressive enough for a couple.

In an interesting boomerang karmic return, Natasha Harmer at Films and Things has also honored me after one of my honorees honored her,  and I want to thank her most warmly for liking me enough to select me. Please take a look at her site too. She talks with great intelligence and class about movies and things. Just like the name of her site implies.

Usually, there are a few rules that go with awards and this is no exception:

  1. Display the Award Certificate on your website
  2. Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
  3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers
  4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
  5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

This is a most propitious day to accept awards. A bunch of milestones have collided, perhaps related only circumstantially but to me, it all feels related.

1000 Posts and Counting

Yesterday, when I posted a reblog from Catnip of Life, I was caught by surprise to realize it was my 1000th post. A thousand posts. Wow. It had crept up on me very quietly. Sneaky. I knew it was coming and had been planning to write something special to celebrate the milestone. Instead, it just tip-toed up to me, tapped me on the shoulder, said “BOO!” and giggled. I had passed 56,000 hits a couple of days before, but that seemed less noteworthy than 1000 posts. I promptly deleted a few posts that were originals I’ve since re-posted. I figure I will do some more deleting too, which messes up the numbers a bit. But it was exactly 1000, so I’m sticking with that.

“Where did you come from,” I asked. “You really snuck up on me. You should wear a bell or something and not surprise a woman like that.”

“Tee hee,” was all the reply I got. A giggle, a tap on the shoulder and a major milestone has gone by.

Today is post number 1001.


About a third of my posts are reblogs and scoops, but even so, I’ve published and written a lot in a short period of time. The past 7 or 8 months has been the most prolific of my life. I think I must have been saving up words all these years. I gotten a lot of positive feedback from other bloggers, but Freshly Pressed apparently doesn’t think I’m particularly interesting. Whatever is they are looking for, I’m not it. I try to not let it bother me because if in a thousand posts they have not found something that makes me worthy, I doubt more will attract them either.

Blogging has been deeply gratifying for me. It has given me my first chance to write and publish without answering to anyone. It’s the first time I’ve gotten any “formal” recognition for writing and it’s the first time I’ve experienced being a part of a community of writers and artists. All of you are wonderful and I am grateful for your friendship and support. Awards are delightful and heartwarming. Although they don’t come with a check attached, nor is there a fancy statuette to display next to my husband’s Emmy on top of the TV, these come with love. Not a statuette, but it makes me feel all toasty. I wish all of you were my real neighbors so I could come sit with you and chat over a cup of coffee. Writing can feel very isolated sometimes, especially in the winter.

Hitting the 1000 post milestone number on the day John awarded this honor to me seemed propitious. And moreover, it’s my 66th birthday tomorrow. Sixty-five was a legal occasion and felt a bit impersonal. Social Security kicked in, Medicaid kicked out. I became officially senior, precipitating fear and trembling since our society does not honor elders. The younger generations would just as soon we went away, taking our experience and our opinions with us. It isn’t personal.

It’s just they want the world for themselves. We stand as reminders of events that are brand new for them but
which we attest have happened before. They are not interested in our history and stories of the old days. They want to inherit what we built, but without us. Alas, but this next generation will have to cope with the painful realization that they did not invent the world nor do they own it. Every generation wants top billing and believes they deserve it — right now. Maybe they do, but like all who have gone before them, they will have to wait their turn.

Statuettes at home

Statuettes at home – Not mine.

This birthday is personal. I’ve had a year of senior citizenship. I’ve fought my way through the bureaucracy into the next phase of personhood. I realize I am closer to 70 than 60 which is very strange because in my head, I’m still just a kid. I am under no illusion that 66 is the “new 28.” I remember being 28 and this isn’t it. My bones tell the story of the relentless movement of time. My empty bank account is a poignant reminder of my daily struggle to survive. I worry about my friends; the crowd is thinning and the holes left by each star as it winks out is a gap I can’t fill.

The world isn’t such a pretty place as it was when I was young. I feel bad about it and the generations that will inherit such a mess.  I would fix it if I could, but I’m old enough to know I can’t. This is a time for acknowledgment, recognition, understanding limits and liabilities. Coming grips with reality. It’s also the last prime time to taste every possible drop of joy from life because endings no longer seem far away or theoretical.

Today, I have received two awards. I announce having passed my thousandth post, I see myself a year older. I’m glad to be here, grateful for my friends. Thank you, all of you.

Time to give some well-deserved recognition to other worthies in the blogging community. Please note: I am not giving awards to anyone who has directly or indirectly told me that he or she doesn’t want them.

You know who you are. If you have gotten awards from me and never acknowledged them, I take this as a clear message you don’t want more awards. If I’m mistaken, let me know. I’m always happy to share the booty but I also don’t want to make a pest of myself and annoy anyone with stuff they don’t want.

So, without further ado, the envelope please:  





Head In A Vice

Emily Guido

Rich Paschall


Scottie Mom

Rumpy Dog

Hot Rod Cowgirl

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlop

Chronicles of Illusions

Our Humble Opinions

Reflections of a Book Addict

We get to the part that always leaves me a trifle baffled. Seven interesting things about me. My blog tends to be something of a tell-all, so I can’t imagine what more there is to tell about me that everyone hasn’t already heard. So instead, I’m going to post pictures of me that you may or may not have already seen. I know it’s not the usual thing, but really, what more can I say about me? I’m getting tired of talking about myself and I didn’t think that was possible.

Here’s a gallery of me-ness. Looking good, looking weird, looking young, old and drab. It’s the various colors of Marilyn.

Related articles

The Best Parts

One of the oddest adjustments one has to make in retirement is how everything transforms into “hobbies” and “activities.” No matter if you spent a lifetime doing something professionally, our society has specific definitions of “professional,”which is you have to earn money doing it. Professional equals paycheck. No matter how hard one labors, it’s not work if you don’t get paid.

Whereas in the past, I got paid to be a writer, writing is now favorite pastime or activity. I think it’s rather a bit past “hobby.” I am no less a professional now than ever. I no longer do only what I’m paid to do, but work harder to be a better writer than I did when leashed to an office and bosses. Deadlines are no less rigid because I set them. My standards are no lower. Just no one sends me a check. Pity. I could use the money.

How do you define a thing that is an essential part of you? Something you need to do or you feel like a piece of you is broken or missing? Is that an activity? A hobby? That seems a trivialization, doesn’t it? The best part of writing now as opposed to then is freedom. I can be playful or serious, topical, timely, or ramble off into the mists of obscurity.

The only one with authority to rein me in is me. As a blogger, I get direct input. If no one likes what I’ve written and no one reads it, that’s a hint I’ve strayed or at least need to rethink my presentation.

I’m stubborn. If I’ve written a piece I believe is good, I will keep redoing it and putting it back up until finally, it gets the notice I think it deserves. I tweak it with each pass but fundamentally, the story stays the same. If nothing else, these long years have given me enough confidence to know if it’s a good piece or not. It is one of the painful ironies that many of the pieces I don’t like are much more popular than the ones I know are better. C’est la guerre.

75-BookStory HPCR-1

Photography really is a hobby. I’ve been taking pictures nearly as long as I’ve been writing. My first camera came into my life when I was a young married woman with a baby. I had been painting and experiencing more success than I could handle. I don’t have any paintings left because I sold every one of them. I often sold them before I was halfway done. Friends and their friends would come, look and buy. It sucked the fun out of it. It was also logistically difficult. I didn’t have a studio and having cats, dogs and a baby, I couldn’t leave projects around unless I was actively working on them. It’s hard to lock up a painting in progress.

When I was 23, a friend gave me a camera, a couple of minutes of instruction and a few rolls of black and white film. Off I went on vacation. I had no idea it would be the start of a love affair with photography that would never end.

Unlike writing, my forays into professional photography were brief. I quickly realized I didn’t want to do baby pictures and weddings. Luckily, I had other professional choices and could keep photography as a thing of love, unsullied by commercial considerations.


Forty years later, I continue to strive for some kind of perfection, trying to grow my technical skills (always my weak point) and to try new and different forms. Photography is a perfect hobby. You never outgrow it. It never gets boring. It may empty out your bank account from time to time, but many hobbies cost more and return less satisfaction for the investment.

What was the question? Oh, right … what activities and hobbies do I pursue. And here it is: I write. I take pictures. I put them together and call them stories or blogs. I will continue doing this until they carry me away.


Most Influential Blog 2012: Taking a Bow and Paying It Forward

I love writing and photography. Writing was my profession and my vocation for my entire adult life. Photography has been my hobby and my avocation for more than 40 years.

 I spent decades dutifully writing whatever my contract, client or boss wanted.  I needed to earn a living while trying to maintain my own standards. Although photography was occasionally professionally useful,  it has mostly been fun and it gets me out of the house and into the world.


Blogging was a  gift for me. It opened the door to a bigger world. Blogging lets me do what I love while sharing it with others. Moreover, it fits my style. I used to laughingly say that I did my best work writing letters. Blogging is a lot like letter writing — focused and concise.

Writers need readers; readers need writers. It is the ultimate symbiotic relationship. Writing for yourself is a diary. You don’t need a blog to write for yourself. It’s just like publishing a book. If you bother to publish, you want an audience. Blogging is publishing. Having a blog tells the world you want to be noticed. If we didn’t want attention, we could keep our stuff on our own computers and it would be sufficient.

The point of blogging is sharing. It’s a statement we believe we have something worthwhile to share. We think other people will enjoy our work, maybe find it interesting, useful, beautiful, inspiring, entertaining or thought-provoking. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, if you don’t care whether or not anyone sees what you do, why would you put yourself on a public venue? Why display yourself and your work on the most public venue: the Internet.

I get a bit impatient with people who claim it doesn’t matter if anyone visits their site. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t blog. It would be an exercise in futility.

Starting a blog is easy. Fill in a form, find a name, pick a format and voilà, you’re a blogger. Maintaining a blog, developing it, designing, writing, sorting through your art to find stories or pictures you think are worth sharing, then doing it not occasionally but day after day requires dedication. Dedication comes from a need to share things that matter to you. So I openly admit what seems to be the dirty little secret of blogging: I want people to read what I write. I want people to look at my pictures.

I like it when others enjoy my writing and praise my photographs. Vanity? Call it whatever you like. It is the nature of artists to need art lovers, writers to need readers. I’m not trying to take over the world, but I like knowing I make a difference to someone. That’s my payoff.

It makes this award very precious.

Self-expression feels so self-indulgent. It’s the chocolate of life. To be given awards for doing something I enjoy so much … well, it’s the icing on the cake. Just when I thought I’d sampled all the dishes life could offer, I discovered a buffet of goodies I never knew existed.

I seem to spend an awful lot of time thanking Sharla at Catnip of Life & Awakenings. She has been so very generous in her support, in sharing and in being a friend — the rarest and most important gift of all. It has been a long time since I formed a genuine friendship. It’s tough to find like-minded people as one gets older and making a new friend … a real friend which Sharla has become … is a big deal.

This is as good as blogging awards get because it says I’ve made a difference. Influence is a word with profound implications. To be influential means you have changed someone or something. It tells me I matter, that I have, against all odds, continued to be relevant. I makes me happy, proud and encourages me to keep going. It tells me the effort is worth it. Thanks again, Sharla.

There are no requirements for this award except to pay it forward and pass it on to one or more bloggers who influenced you. You don’t have name all your awardees all at once, either. You can give the award over a period as much as six months.

On this occasion, I’m going to award this to a single blogger. I have to think on who else I would like to give it to. I need to ponder  on “influence” as opposed to “enjoy.” There are many bloggers whose work I admire and enjoy, but I think that’s not quite the same as influence.

The envelope please.

To the person who authors the first blog I followed. If not for him, I would not have begun blogging.

 I’d like to give this award to Andy at ATMTX Photography. Following his blog gave me the idea to start a blog of my own. He answered questions that helped me move forward as a photographer. He provided useful information from which I was able to figure out what equipment would best suit my style. Most importantly, his work encouraged me to experiment.

I had never considered doing cityscapes, nightscapes, architecture and objects rather than landscapes and casual portraits — the staples at which I’m good and which are easy for me. I decided to move beyond my comfort zone. This has improved my work and increased the fun factor in photography by 100%. Because of Andy, I carry a camera everywhere I go. He didn’t make me do it but led by example, the finest kind of influence. Thanks Andy!

Thanking my readers in a tangible way: The Reader Appreciation Award


As the first month of this new year crawls to a close, I am grateful to be given a brand new and very special award: The Reader Appreciation Award from Sharla at catnipoflife. Sharla and I exchange scoops, family news, compliments and regrets that we don’t live close enough to visit in person pretty much every day. She has become more than “another blogger.”

She is a friend, the real deal and my world is better because she is in it. I think the world is better for everyone because she is in it and if you have never visited her site, please do. Poetry, quotes … thoughts, feelings and reminders of why being alive is worth the trouble. That’s not facetious: sometimes I need a reminder!


There are a few rules for this award, fewer than for most. As the name implies, this goes to other bloggers who have taken the time to comment and sometimes, contribute to your blog … those readers and followers who have moved from the anonymous category into virtual friends. Some live so far away I know we’ll never meet, yet we depend on each other and we care.

What you can’t do:

1) You can’t award it to anyone who has already gotten it during the same year. So if you got it in 2012, you can’t get it until again until 2013. It can be difficult to determine who has which awards since many bloggers get awards but don’t display the badges, at least not obviously. I’ll just take my best guess.

2) The award can’t be given back to the person from whom you receive it. This is a problem because Sharla is always on the top of my recipient list and she is giving me the award. Drat.

As to whom you should give the award, this one is quite specific. The Reader’s Appreciation Award is given to the top 6 blogger/commentors on your site. This is a little complicated for me personally. Of the top six, two are my husband. No, I only have one husband, but my site recognizes him as two people depending on whether he is writing from his desk or laptop.


Consider yourself awarded!

It would seem odd to give him a blogging award since, although he is an enthusiastic commenter, he isn’t a blogger but he is my biggest and bestest fan. So instead, to Garry who is always rooting for me, I appreciate you a whole lot.

Sharla herself would be getting this award, but she’s the one giving it to me so again — thank you!

The envelope please:

After due diligence, the award goes to:

Gabrielle at My Heathen Heart

jcalberta at A Celebration Of Western Movies … Pardner !

Bob Mielke at Northwest Photographer

Tyson Carter at Head In A Vice

Sally at My Beautiful Things

Emily Guido at “The Light Bearer Series”

This list is in no particular order and there are people with whom I have a lot of interaction that are not on the list because I can’t include everyone, though I would if I could. Because I appreciate my readers more than any of you can know. You are the people in my world who make doing this, writing, posting, sticking with it every day, worth it. You are the folks who let me know that I’m being heard, being understood. You guys “get” me; that’s something special.

I want to extend my warmest appreciation to all my visitors, followers and readers. Although I have listed only six names (my top six commenters after excluding my husband (times two) and Sharla for reasons previously noted :-) so if your name is absent it isn’t because I don’t appreciate you. Moreover, this award is about thanking readers.

It’s meant to be given away … so if you have supporters to whom you would like to express your gratitude, feel free to grab the badge and pass it on! This is about saying thanks to the wonderful people who support our efforts and enrich our lives. In the end, it is about the joy we get from giving something back to those who “feed” us!

As always, I add the proviso that awards are supposed to make us feel good, happy. We all know that fulfilling the “requirements” of most awards is time-consuming and sometimes, close to impossible. Please do not feel obliged to press yourself beyond your comfort zone. Whatever you do in response to this award, have fun, feel appreciated and don’t stress. This isn’t supposed to make your life harder!


Award Time! The Liebster …

Gabrielle at My Heathen Heart has kindly — over my admittedly half-hearted objections — put me up for The Liebster Award. I have no objection to getting an award — heaven forbid that I should be so hypocritical! — but rather that the Liebster is usually awarded to relatively new bloggers who have fewer than 100 followers.


I have 227 follower at the moment (the number goes up and down by a few) and just passed the 45,000 hit mark today (or maybe it was yesterday), so I feel a bit like I’m sailing under false colors. However, despite being a little overqualified for the honor, it is an honor. I am touched, grateful and continually surprised at being honored for doing something I so very much enjoy.  I must be doing something right and I will try very hard to keep doing it, whatever it may be :-)

Thank you Gabrielle — very much! If it weren’t against the rules, I’d give it right back to you because you deserve it! I also want to thank Gabrielle for the nicest version of the Liebster Award I’ve ever seen! It’s great!



Direct from Gabrielle’s post:

1. Publicly thank and link back to your nominator’s blog.

2. Nominate other blogs and notify them.

3. Answer 11 questions from your nominator.

4.  Tell 11 random things about yourself.

5.  Write 11 questions for your nominees  — or they can answer the same ones asked of you.

However. Rules are made to be broken. Please don’t feel obliged to push yourself beyond your comfort zone to fulfill any of the requirements. If you have one or two nominees, that’s fine. If you can’t think of much to say about yourself, write about something else. This is supposed to be fun, an honor, something to enjoy … so let’s not turn it into hard work.



These are same as those on list Gabrielle’s blog:

Why did you start writing a blog? I’m a writer and a very opinionated one … and since no one listens to me at home, I figured I might as well throw myself on the mercy of the Internet!

What is your favorite work of fiction? Angelique, by Anne Golon. Long out of print, but still as wonderful as ever.

How would you describe your personal philosophy/spiritual path? Open-minded, skeptical, and uncommitted.

What has impressed you lately? How many people are really passionate about trivial things when there are so many important issues are being ignored. This is not a good thing.

What has depressed you lately? How ignorant and intellectually lazy the younger generations seem to be.

What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time ten years? Hang onto your money — you’re going to need it!

What are your vices? Talking too much and listening too little.

What would you like to achieve in 2013? Keep me and everyone else healthy and manage wrangle our income and outgo into a state of grace.

Describe your personal style. Casual and conservative to the point of boring.

10 What is your favorite city? Jerusalem, Israel. I often dream of Jerusalem.

11 Name something that always makes you smile. My dogs.



11 random things about me:

If I don’t have a book to read, I’m lost.

My hair turned white overnight, just like in books. I thought it was a myth. Guess not.

I actually can’t remember how many different surgeries I’ve had. I can’t remember why I had some of them, but I have the scars.

4  I was a total outcast as a kid.

I was an excessively popular adult.

I have regained my outcast status as a senior citizen.

My first job was poodle shampooer for a pet groomer.

I met my husband when I was 16 and he was 21. We got married when he was 48 and I was 43: the longest courtship in history.

My first love was Johnny Mathis; my second, Marlon Brando. No one can say I’m not eclectic.

10 I read between 5 and 10 books per week. I have done so since I was 9 or 10 years old.

11 If I don’t put the pizza in the over now, we are NOT going to have any dinner tonight.



My list of nominees, in  random order, ar:

j. alberta – My Favorite Westerns

Sharla – Catnip of Life

Rich Paschall – Sunday Night Blog

Bob Mielke – Northwest Photographer

Emily Guido – The Light-Bearer Series


Congratulations to you all. I follow all of you, read all of you, enjoy all of you. You make the world the better place because you are in it.

Shine On!


A huge “Thank you” and a hug to Emily Guido for giving me The Shine On Award. I am not convinced I deserve it, but I very much appreciate it.

During the months I’ve been blogging, I’ve encountered many fine, generous people, folks who have offered me support, friendship and encouragement with no agendas. It’s enough to renew my faith in humankind. Emily Guido has been among my most staunch supports. She is one of a handful of people in my acquaintance who has displayed genuine courage. She doesn’t merely do what she must; she does what she can because she believes it matters.

“Shine On” is not a blogging award. It originated in the real world a few years ago and is awarded to men and women who serve their community. I’m not sure who was its original creator, but the award’s description is consistent:

“The recipients of our Shine On Awards are not only incredible men and women who made or are making history, but are also the people remarkably like us all. They work hard, struggle with balance, and dream of a better world. We applaud them for the extraordinary ways they have shared themselves to benefit others.”

Four to be honored at second annual Shine On Awards: The Ogemaw Herald

“There is not nearly enough applause in the life of the average American woman. And you might well think that if you won a Nobel Prize or were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the juggling act would get easier, but not so. The winners of our Shine On Awards are not only incredible women making history, but also women remarkably like us all: They work hard, struggle with balance, and dream of a better world for themselves and the people they love. We applaud them. And we applaud you, for making a difference in someone’s life every single day.”

 Shine On Award Winners – Women Honored for Charity Work – Good Housekeeping

I’ve found this quote … almost word for word … in multiple places. This award has entered the blogging universe, but it did not originate here. I hope I can adhere to the original spirit of the award — offering recognition to people who have contributed to the greater good of their community.

In the blogosphere, our community is the World. I have put considerable thought into what service I offer other than entertainment. Is offering my opinion and distributing the opinion of others who I believe positively contribute to a sane public dialogue a sufficient service?  Perhaps, though I never thought of it that way. The blogging universe is young. As a group, we are still feeling our way around, figuring out where we fit on this huge stage.

There are blogs on every conceivable subject from fashion to cooking, sports, film, books. decorating, gossip and making people laugh. History buffs and movie mavens, authors, poets, painters and photographers and everyone else have a home on the Internet. More rare are people whose goal is to make the world a better place.

If, as a group, we have any power, it is that we can disseminate information and ideas, offer perspective on issues that concern us. We can sometimes influence minds and opinions and that’s no small thing. Regardless of whether we touch a few dozen people or tens of thousands … whether we focus on art, books, movies, technology, education, faith, ecology, politics … or any of millions of issues, we do what we can.

As a generalist without a specialized focus, I try to encourage literacy, civility and dialogue between people who have something valid to say. Like most of you, I try to do the right thing. I may not agree with your definition of “the right thing,” but I acknowledge the importance of differing opinions. Disagreement is the backbone of a free society.

It isn’t easy for me to recognize the validity of opinions with which I disagree. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I do and one of the most important.

There is far too much hate, anger, and meanness on and off the Internet. Cloaked in the first amendment, people promulgate hate, violence, cruelty and ugliness. I’m sure demagogues and hate-mongers have existed throughout history, but the Internet brings them into our homes and pushes them in our faces. It has become impossible to ignore and I’m not convinced ignoring the clamor is the right thing to do. Ignoring evil is a kind of tacit agreement. Silence doesn’t send the right message.

The recent presidential election brought home with stunning clarity how far we are from being a civil — or civilized — society. I am disturbed at how many people are recklessly careless of how they express themselves. They are either unaware or unconcerned (both?) with the impact their words have, how much pain they cause, how much damage they inflict.

“Words can never hurt me” was a childhood mantra, but it isn’t true. Words hurt, words damage. They destroy reputations and ruin lives. Lies parade as facts. I would never dispute anyones’ right an opinion, but spewing hate isn’t an opinion. Intentional cruelty isn’t an opinion. Applauding and encouraging violence is not an opinion. These do not deserve respect. Hiding behind the first amendment doesn’t make hate, cruelty and violence acceptable. Just because you can’t be jailed for saying it doesn’t make it right. When I can, I weigh in, try to offer informed opinions and support for causes that matter to me. If that’s community service, then I guess I serve. But there are so many others who deserve to be honored, I feel rather like I’m sailing under false colors. All I can say is thank you and I hope I live up to it.

The Shine On Award recognizes individual contributions to the community.

There are no specific requirements, no designated number of recipients or questions to answer. The only requirement is that a recipient be an individual who has contributed to the good of the community.

My two candidates are women who have worked hard to help those who can’t help themselves and to educate others on issues that matter to them.

Jenny Threet of Rumpy Dog has waged a relentless campaign to help save dogs, cats, and other animals who have been victimized or abandoned. She never gives up on the furry creatures she loves and always strives to protect and save them. She deserves recognition for the good work she does. There are a many beautiful creatures who would not be alive today were it not for her efforts.

Jo Ashline of A Sweet Dose of Truth is a fine writer. She is mother to an autistic child and has put her heart and soul into educating people about autism. She takes on other causes too, but autism is near and dear to her heart. She is a determined soldier for truth and justice. I admire her dedication and passion and am very pleased to nominate her for this award.

And that, my friends, is it for now. Some of you to whom I would award this prize have already received it . To the best of my knowledge, my two candidates have not previously received it. I hope I got it right.

There’s no time limit as to when or to whom you can choose to pass it. The important thing is to not cheapen the award or its meaning. It isn’t an award for fine writing, taking beautiful photographs, or making people laugh. All of these are wonderful things, but there are other awards to show that kind of appreciation.

Congratulations and keep on doing what you do. The world is better because you are in it.

Blog of the Year – 2012 … And now we are five!!

I just got my fifth star from Eunice at Living and Lovin:Living Life surrounded by all I love. PEACE. Thank you I am extremely grateful and touched. I didn’t expect it and I’m not sure I deserve it, but it’s great to have it!

I also received the Blog of the Year Award  from Tyson at Head in a Vice , then from Sharla at CatnipOfLife, another from Bette Stevens at 4WRITERSANDREADERS … and yet one more from Sharla via her second blog (talk about ambitious, I can barely keep up with one blog, much less two), Awakenings  … I’m all the way up to five stars. 

It’s amazing to me to  have gotten any awards, but a fifth star is really special and deeply appreciated. I’m not sure I deserve it, but it has turned out to be the high points (five high points) of this otherwise rather difficult holiday season.

Today was the day the world was supposed to end, but it being the Winter Solstice, it actually was the shortest day of the year, which is not the end of the world, just the official beginning of winter … and ironically, the beginning of the lengthening  of the days, the shortest day, the longest night … but also, the beginning of the return of the sun and a hope that spring will come again.

It’s no coincidence that Christmas … Yuletide falls approximately on the Solstice. Every religion, every culture celebrates the solstices as well as the equinoxes. Christianity, as it was developing, adopted an “easier to join them than fight them” attitude … as had every other religion and culture before it. It doesn’t make the holiday less meaningful, it just lets people celebrating at a time that feels familiar, comfortable.

I still have a lot to do. All the wrapping, the grocery shopping. Our trip to visit friends after Christmas just got called off due to illness … hopefully just delayed.  I find myself not feeling the magic. Not feeling festive. Tragedies in the news, close friends sick, one family member passing … and a serious scarcity of money have all combined to make this a dreary excuse for what is usually a fun time of year.


And then someone gives me a little star … a bit of recognition … and the world is just that much brighter. Thank you again.

There is definitely something to be said about this virtual world of ours: it is a world of sharing, caring and preparing: Sharing around the world, Caring for others, Preparing for the future. Whatever endeavor you are engaged in at the present moment or seek in days to come, there is always someone willing to tell you his or her story which will in provide a beacon of light down a sometimes dark highway.

The ‘rules’ for this award are simple and easy:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award.
  2. Write a blog post and name/tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Please include a link back to this page Blog of the Year 2012 Award and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!).
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
  5. You can now also join The Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars.


Because this is an award that you can “collect” and get many times, I’m going to give it back to people who I know have gotten it before, but who I’m reasonably sure don’t have all six stars yet. I may be wrong, but I think so.

You are people whose work I follow. You mean something to me. You make me laugh, make me feel, make me think, teach me stuff. Some of you suggest ideas, movies, or books to read, watch, or learn, technology, cameras and accessories I might want. Some of you champion causes important to me … and some of you are living lives I wish were mine. Many more of you are living lives a lot like mine and I empathize and sympathize with you. You make me feel less alone.

All of you have touched me. It may not matter a lot to you, but it makes a big difference to me.

For those of you are getting this award again and need one of the other versions with a different number of stars, I’m including (thank you again Sharla) all six of the award medallions at the bottom of this post.

Since I got this fifth star today, I’m going to pass it along to people who to whom I gave it before, but who I’m pretty sure don’t yet have their sixth stars (no, not me … I can’t give it to myself and I wouldn’t if I could … Jeez):


Feel no obligation to do anything beyond your comfort zone. I know the holidays are on us and if you are anything like me, you don’t have time to spare. Do whatever feels good to you and don’t feel obliged beyond that. I may take a week off blogging altogether after this: I’ve got so much to do, I finally feel like if I don’t give myself a break, I’m going to break.

May your holidays be bright, may all good things come to you and yours. May we all move into the New Year with joy and purpose, overcoming all the problems that assail us and coming out the other side.

Revel in the season! Be happy whatever it is you celebrate … and may you enjoy everything you can in any way that brings you peace and joy.


Very Inspiring Blogger award

Tonight I went with my husband to Sutton’s Congregational Church. They were having their Christmas Concert and Garry and a friend of his had produced a documentary about the concert … how it was put together, how the choir family pulled together to create this every year. It’s playing now on local cable stations around the valley.


This was the official Christmas concert performance. Considering how trying these past few days have been, a trip to church to hear Christmas carols was exactly what we needed. It was a nasty night. When we got out of the car at the church, the entire parking lot was covered with black ice. It was drizzling, but just cold enough so that the drizzle froze instantly on all the paved surfaces. I barely made it the 20 or so feet from the car to the church without falling and the minister did fall on her way out of her house.

The concert was lovely. Good singing, lots of smiles. And I took pictures and by the time we left the church, it had warmed up just enough so that the ice was gone. As the minister said, we had been blessed.

And now, blessed again by yet another gift of a Very Inspiring Blogger Award, courtesy of  Dear Kitty. Some blog: On animals, peace and war, science, social justice, women’s issues, arts, and much more. This is a woman whose causes are my causes, whose passions are also mine, a woman who I greatly admire. I am touched and honored to receive this award from her.

I often don’t feel particularly inspiring, but inspiration comes from many sources. I am glad that my words and pictures … and the other posts I find and reblog because I think they are important and worthwhile … provide inspiration for others. It makes the effort worth it to know that there are people “out there” who read the words and it means something to them.

That somehow I’ve gone in less than a year from “who’s that?” to getting more awards than I imagined possible leaves me a little breathless. Awards are always given by people who do not know us intimately. I am sure if people knew me better, they’d be incapable of giving me an award because they would, as my old friends do, remember that time I had one Mai Tai too many, fainted dead away and had to be dragged home by three big guys in a fork lift. People who know you very well may love you, but they don’t give you awards. Moreover, anyone who met my second husband or first boyfriend would never find me inspiring, although I might serve as a cautionary tale … if that could be considered inspirational.

The difference between something that gives me a migraine and something that inspires me can be razor-thin. This last week, full of tragedy and madness has been inspiring … but not in a way I would ever have chosen. It’s been a grim week. I only hope that from this something positive will emerge. I guess we’ll see how long people remember and if all the talk turns into some kind of action.

Being told that I’m an inspiration is an inspiration. It means I have not become irrelevant and maybe the experience of a lifetime is was not entirely wasted. All of you in my blogging world inspire me. I read your stories and poems. I admire your photographs and art. You change my view of the world, the way I do things, give me food for thought. If I do a bit of the same for you, I am glad.

Keith and St. Nick

Happy whatever you celebrate. Celebrate everything, why don’t you? Rejoice that you are alive, because you have a friend, a roof over your head, and maybe something to eat. Forget for a while all the problems and craziness because it won’t forget you … it’ll be there, waiting, when the party’s over. Love you all!!

The rules of this award are:

  • Display the award logo on your blog
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Tell us at least seven things about yourself that you would like to share.
  • Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them. I am not going to set a specific number. I know how difficult it can be to keep coming up with nominees and rather than burden you all with having to find everyone all at once, you can keep a few awards in your back pocket and pass them along when the time is right. The holidays are upon us all, so please don’t feel pressured to push beyond your comfort zone.
  • Notify your chosen bloggers of their nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven things about myself that I haven’t explicitly said before (at least not where anyone could hear me) are:

  1. I was a music major in college, then finally graduated as a drama/broadcast dual major. I would have stayed for a third major in social science, but they told me I had to graduate.
  2. My favorite movies are comedies. I love to laugh.
  3. I have owned so many cats and dogs that I really can’t remember all of them any more.
  4. I’m a good cook, but after more than 40 years of dishing up meals, I’m very happy to eat other people’s cooking.
  5. If the mother ship comes and offers me a ride, I’m outta here.
  6. I learned to read in about two hours when I was five.
  7. I believe that anyone could write well if they would just remember that writing is just talking through your fingers. Good writing should sound as natural as speech. Most people try too hard; others don’t try hard enough.

My nominees (the envelope please):

  • Lust and Rum: New York, thy name’s “Delirium” — because I grew up in New York and  Anton Brookes’ photography and commentary reminds me that I still love it. His pictures are touching, evocative, the kind of photojournalism you rarely see any more.
  • Wessays – by my old friend Wes Richards whose writing is so good  that every time I read one of his posts, I immediately feel inadequate.
  • Awakenings: Awakenings from Then ’til Now allows you to Embrace Your Past, Empower the Present, Enrich Your Future. Because Sharla inspires me every day in more ways than I can count.

For all of you to whom I’ve already give awards, know you are likely going to get more. I like you, I like your websites, your thoughts, your pictures, you opinions … so you’ll have to cope with getting a few awards now and again. There are worse fates!