THE SERENDIPITY SETTING ON THE OLYMPUS PEN PL-5

I just became the tickled pink owner of an Olympus PEN PL-5 camera. It arrived today, having sped here from Arizona, where its previous owner, an old and loved friends, has upgraded to the OM-D.

Somewhere between yesterday afternoon and this morning, a nasty cold hit me like a runaway train, but the arrival of the camera distracted me enough that I forgot how crappy I was feeling … at least for an hour.

The camera, probably while being packed, had gotten set to the Art Bracket setting. I have never used any of the Art effect settings on any of my Olympus PEN cameras. It turns out that the results of using this setting are … well … interesting. Serendipitous. You really don’t know what you will get.

It’s kind of fun. You snap one picture and the camera gives you 12 versions, each using a different Art effect. The focus and bokeh also change. These are some results. What do you think? interesting, yes?

DEAR READER

Audience of One – Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.

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Dear Reader,

I should have written sooner. You have been following me since I started this whole blogging thing, when Serendipity was new and I wasn’t sure it would fly. Didn’t know what I was doing. You helped me define myself as a writer. Nearly three years now and more than 3,000 posts later, all those old posts are floating around cyberspace. It must be getting crowded!

I’m really talking to you. That’s right. You, in the Lazy Boy, with the cup of coffee. You should drink it before it gets cold. (I should take my own advice.)

Take a sip. I’ll wait. No hurry. I cancelled my doctor’s appointment today. I can’t really afford the copay right now. With the “good” car in the shop and the repairs not yet paid for, money is painfully tight. A bit frightening if I think about it. The best I can do is postpone anything that costs money until (hopefully) the coffers refill, at least a bit.

It’s good my husband likes pizza so much. It’s amazing how happy the man is eating a cheap frozen pizza. I try to fancy it up, adding mushrooms, sometimes some bacon or whatever other bits of stuff we happen to have in the house. But it’s still pizza. The king of junk food. It goes very well with football.

You are the one I write for. A lot of old friends are gone, either to that great beyond or moved too far away to ever see them. It’s sad, but you help fill that empty place.

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I’m glad you exist. I’m grateful you like me well enough to spend some of your day with me. Maybe I follow you. I can’t follow everyone because there aren’t enough hours in my life to read that much and also write, but I try.

I don’t always comment. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy your post, just that I’m not feeling witty … or everyone else in the world has already said whatever anyone could possibly say. If I can, I will always send a like. So you know I’ve dropped by.

I hope I can be as much a part of your world as you are of mine. You are terribly important to me. I don’t say how much I appreciate you nearly often enough. You brighten my day when I’m feeling poorly. You make me feel appreciated when I think I’ve been forgotten.

I wish we could meet. Get together to laugh and drink coffee or tea. Eat a few crumpets or donuts. Maybe someday we’ll have a giant convention. I’ll be there, with all my bells on.

Meanwhile, thanks for everything. For caring, sharing, being there. For liking me. For being part of my world and letting me into yours.

Lots of love and a great big fuzzy hug,

Marilyn at Serendipity.

ETIQUETTE ACCORDING TO SERENDIPITY

Time, once again, to review Serendipity’s version of etiquette:

  1. I have extremely limited tolerance for bullshit. When you make a statement of fact, you’d better have something more than your opinion with which to back it up.
  2. Trolls are out of here and I mean instantly, without reprieve. If you want to start trouble, you’re on the wrong blog.
  3. No personal attacks. On anyone. Period. None. Not the President, not me, not anyone who writes or comments here. If that’s your “thing,” find another place.
  4. Publicize your blog elsewhere. This space belongs to Serendipity. Anyone interested in visiting your site can do so by clicking your blog address next to your comment. If you don’t include an address because you prefer to remain anonymous, that’s your problem. Stand up and be counted or shut up about it.
  5. If you aggravate me, you’ll be gone. It IS personal. This is my happy place. If it stops being fun and you are responsible for making the fun go away, I will make you go away.

Age has privileges. We oldies have passed the point of tolerating fools. What’s more, I have earned the right to run Serendipity according to my rules.

There are folks who comment regularly, who read this blog and whose stuff I, in turn, read. They can get away with a lot because they are friends and I trust them. Cutting slack for friends is my choice. But don’t pop in here out of nowhere and act like I owe you a hearing. I don’t.

SERENDIPITY STRIKES AGAIN!

A Name for Yourself

Some writers’ names have becomes adjectives: Kafkaesque, marxist, Orwellian, sadistic. If your name (or nickname, or blog name) were to become an adjective, what would it mean?


Lucky me. Smart me. Far-seeing me. Pat, pat on my back, back!

When I picked my blog name, it already meant something, which is “to find something for which one is not looking.” A serendipitous discovery is pretty much a happy accident.

ser·en·dip·i·tyˌ noun
The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. “A fortunate stroke of serendipity”. Synonyms: (happy) chance, (happy) accident, fluke.

I suppose you could talk about my pithy, ironic commentary as Marilyn-isms, but there are more than enough existing words to describe pithiness, irony and wit without making up a new one.

Let’s just stick with serendipity. It’s a good word, a happy word. When chance takes you someplace pleasant and surprising, if you unexpectedly happen upon something that tickles your fancy, think of me.

Serendipity strikes again!

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

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It took me almost two years to build up a following for Serendipity, but just a week for traffic to drop to fewer than I can count on one hand. If anyone needed a test of what keeps a blog alive and active, the answer is utterly simple. Content, content and more content. Pictures, stories, stuff. New stuff, funny stuff sad stuff. But mostly, stuff.

We got home this afternoon and I’ve been running in place ever since, trying to play catchup with unanswered phone calls. Dogs apparently starving for treats … the poor things were practically FAINT and WEAK from lack of biscuits. Garry was actually insulted when, in the middle of giving some serious love to the furry kids, they heard me walk into the kitchen and abandoned him en masse in the hopes of acquiring a cookie. Or a piece of fallen bread crust.

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“Try not to take it personally,” I said. “They are DOGS.”

“Hrmph,” he said and went back to watching Steve McQueen in a rerun of “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

“We shouldn’t bother with vacations. We should just stay home. We like it better here. Except for the pictures,” I paused. “It was a great photo shoot.”

“Yup. That’s exactly what it was. A week-long photo shoot.”

“Punctuated with baseball and two pair of really cool new shoes.”

“Yup.”

That was when Bonnie jumped back onto the sofa.

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“Oh, NOW you want my attention? I was letting you play with me while wearing one of my good shirts. And you KNOW how I feel about my shirts.” Bonnie was unimpressed and continued to dance around. She loves him, but she loves treats more, at least more immediately. Dogs are not into the whole deferred gratification thing.

So meanwhile, because I couldn’t post or edit anything on this site, I started another blog — Serendipity Redux — on Bloggers and I’m not sure how I’ll divide my time. I do know reclaiming a little piece of my life felt pretty good and maybe I don’t want to be quite such a slave to Serendipity. Maybe unplugging for a little while wasn’t such a bad thing.

We’ll see how it goes. Right now, glad to be home, glad we’ll get to sleep in our own bed tonight. Did I mention (no, I didn’t) we left our wonderful pillows at the hotel? We have to drive back to the Cape tomorrow and get our pillows. I was trying to figure out some way to not have to do that, but I couldn’t. They are special pillows and we need them. Love them.

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We’ll take cameras because the trees are amazing right now. Not so much on the Cape, but here in the Valley, wow! It’s autumn, baby.

Daily Prompt: My name is Marilyn. I’m a teepee.

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My name is Marilyn but you can call me Teepee12. I am alive, if not entirely well. I plan to stay alive as long as the choice exists.

I never intended to hide my identity when I chose this Internet ID as a username for my blog on WordPress. I chose it because I’d been using it since 2007 when my book — The 12-Foot Teepee — was published. It was easy for me to remember and no one else wanted it — as opposed to my real name for which there is heavy competition. The perils of having a common name were never more obvious than when I tried to get a piece of my real name for use on the Internet.

I began using the Internet back in prehistory. No one used real names back then. It was considered most uncool. I went through a lot of names before starting to use Teepee12. Unlike many other names I used and abandoned, it stuck, though no one can spell it and auto-correct always changes it to Steeper (damn you auto correct!). I wish I could go back and do it over, using my real name or something close to it  The problem is that there are dozens of Marilyn Armstrongs all over the Internet, on every continent and a bunch of my namesakes recently died. If I Google me I end up  reading obituaries. This can be troubling in some indefinable way.

I got the name Marilyn — never a common or popular name — because my great Aunt Malka died right before I was born. In Ashkenazi families, babies are named after recently deceased family members. They don’t have to be favorites. You don’t even have to like them. In fact, as was the case with great Aunt Malka, you don’t even have to know her personally. It’s just a custom and no one, including my mother, could explain why we clung to it. We weren’t  observant … but my Aunt Kate, who was indeed a traditionalist and family Matriarch, quite insisted.

My mother refused the straight “Malka” because she said it sounded like the cleaning lady. It means “Queen,” actually but doesn’t sound queenly. So she suggested Mara because apparently, to maintain the tradition, all you need is a name that begins with the same first letter sound (the Hebrew alphabet is, after all, different from English). But Mara (the root for all “mar” names like Mary, Marie, Mireille, Marilyn et al) means “bitter” in Hebrew and my aunts collectively objected because you should not name your daughter “bitter,” feh, bad luck. Ptui, ptui, ptui.

“Fine,” said my mother. “Marilyn.”

No one had any objections so Marilyn it was. How romantic! To be named almost randomly after a dead relatively about whom no one much cared. Wow. And to add insult to injury, I wasn’t given a middle name, so I had no name to which I could retreat.

I struggled with my name. I hated it. I’m still not fond of it, frankly, but I’ve at least made peace with it. No one can spell it correctly and it has never felt like me. When I was a kid, I tried to change my name to Linda, which I heard meant “pretty.” Then “Delores,” which sounded like the heroine of a romance novel. Finally, I tried for “Spike” because I figured tough would be better than dorky Marilyn.

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Nope. No other name. Not even a nickname unless you count “Mar” which is just a way of saying it shorter.

As for children? My son’s name is Owen. It’s become quite a popular name, but wasn’t when I gave it to him. It sounded good with his last name, a bit Celtic or Teutonic, depending on how you look at it. Everyone called him “O” from the start and still do.

At this point, my name doesn’t really matter. My identity is defined by electronic documents collected by daemons and maintained in various government and other databases. No human beings review the data. If you find errors, you cannot correct them because being you is not considered sufficient credentials. Human knowledge has no force of law any longer. I’d find that scary if I weren’t so funny.

A lot of people worry about keeping off the radar. The thing is, the radar is so inaccurate, it doesn’t matter. No one will find you because your address is wrong, your age is off by ten years, you live in a house you never owned at the opposite end of the state and have a phone number that was disconnected over a decade ago. Your email address belongs to an ISP that went out of business in 1992 and it is spelled wrong anyhow. I think you might be safer on the radar than off.

Marilyn and Bonnie

I’ve been blogging for a while now and I can’t figure out how to get my name back. I’ve put my name on Serendipity’s header and in the “About Me” section. I sign my name when I write to people. But it apparently doesn’t matter. I have become a teepee and a teepee I shall stay. A 12-foot teepee, which is the smallest possible teepee that isn’t a miniature. Pass the pipe. I like teepees, which is fortunate.

So, consider this my official coming out party. My name is Marilyn Armstrong. I wrote a book titled “The 12-Foot Teepee” and my online ID is Teepee12 whether I like it or not. Marilyn Armstrong is not available and I would have to be MarilynArmstrong00054 or MArmstrong876987 or something and that sounds too much like an android or robot … so for the forseeable future, I am a Teepee.

Teepee12 to you.