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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

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.

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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.

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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):

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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.

Blog of the Year – 2012 … Four Stars (Gee) AND a new recipient!


Having received the Blog of the Year Award last week from Tyson at Head in a Vice , then a second from Sharla at CatnipOfLife, and yet another from Bette Stevens at 4WRITERSANDREADERS … and, as it turns out, one more from Sharla via her other blog, Awakenings  … I’m all the way up to four stars. I’m dizzy from all the attention.

Boy, this is really cool. I feel so appreciated. Wowie zowie! Thank you all my friends. I’m not sure I deserve it, but I really like it!

It was just yesterday that I realized I had to address this award right now. The year is almost over. I am not ready. I am never ready. Ethelred the Unready (my favorite of the ancient Kings of Britain) had nothing on me. I dare anyone to prove that he, she, they or it are any more unready than I am.

I cannot believe how quickly time is passing. The Christmas tree is up, though half the lights are still refusing to do the thing that lights are supposed to do … and while we have no snow on the ground (Thank you Lord!) , the weather reports are full of dire predictions, leading me to assume this will be a white Christmas — if they aren’t just making the whole thing up so that they have something to say.

The tree — which we keep in a box in the attic because we have four dogs and bringing a real tree into the house would indicate a level of insanity exceeding even this family’s quotient — went up on Monday afternoon while I was sitting around waiting for the radiologist to figure out how to make the x-ray machine take a picture of my lungs so that I could enter the holiday season reasonably certain that nothing alien was growing in there (it isn’t).

He never did get it that particular machine to work, so we had to walk across the road and through the ER at the other hospital to get a picture. That machine, though older and far less fancy, worked. As my reward for being such a patient patient and suggesting that if a reboot didn’t do the job, probably the machine was broken (I’m such a genius!), he let me watch the digital image of my lungs appear on the big screen.

Bright lights, bright nights

Bright lights, bright nights

It was very rewarding. There was nothing to see. When you are visiting your oncologist (what? you don’t have an oncologist? doesn’t everyone have an oncologist?) is exactly what you yearn with all your heart to see. Nothing is good. Nothing is delicious and boring and means that you have a moderately good chance of being around next year to see another picture of nothing.

Once upon a time, I had goals, aspirations, dreams and hopes. I was going to write a novel. Hollywood would buy it, I’d be an internationally renowned author. rich in honor and rolling in the big bucks. Kind of like Stephen King, but not in Bangor. I’ve always preferred the coastline of Maine‘s rocky shore. I wanted one of those houses that sort of hangs on the cliff and looks like it’s going to fall right off. These days, several catastrophes later, I think I’d prefer being a few hundred yards back from the cliff. I’ve seen too much television footage of houses falling into the ocean. I don’t think I need to become newsworthy because my house fell into the Atlantic. What good is renown and wealth if one is swimming with the fishes?

Today, my hopes and dreams are more compact and down to earth. I want to live another year … preferably many more. I want to have enough money to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, medication that will prevent my demise, and I want the same good things for everyone. There was a time when I would have assumed these were things everyone had, not something that needed to be wished for. Many things once taken for granted are now gifts to be treasured.

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.

One way or the other, soon enough white flakes will fall and then, as in one of the old black and white movies of which my husband is so inordinately fond, the page of the calendar will flip over, the ancient Mayans will slink back into their tombs until their next resurrection and anyone who told his or her boss to screw off will be pounding the pavement (or these days, the keyboard) in search of green(er) pastures.

If I can’t digress, what is the fun of blogging? If I have to stick to the subject, built a logical case for whatever drivel I’m spouting and just be limited to saying stuff that make sense, what will I write about? My life doesn’t make sense. Does yours? If you have a life that is orderly, sensible, a life in which you can predict what each day will bring, then you are probably still very young, so you can still look forward to the craziness of the future. Life happens to everyone, sooner or later. And some of the craziness is fun! Some surprises are good.

Having given awards to pretty much every blog I read and enjoy, and excluding only those who actively refuse to accept awards, I feel inclined to say “back at you” to many of my friends and to let as many people as I can know that I appreciate them. You whose blogs I read, who inspire me, encourage me, and bring me joy and make my world a better place — who make the whole world better because you are in it — all of you deserve awards.

To every one of you who promote causes you believe it, continue to fight the good fights, try to right wrongs, attempt to enlighten, inform, amuse, and raise the consciousness of those who you are able to reach, all of you deserve this award. And, you’re going to get one, even if you have one, even if you have two or three or four. What you do about them is up to you, but know that I notice you, appreciate you, and am grateful you are part of my life.

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.  I think I’ve given awards to all of you before, at one time or another. Some of you have been happy about it, some of you have ignored me. I’m not giving it to anyone who has pointedly told me to get lost. One clear rejection is enough for me.

The point of passing these around is not that you’re getting the Oscar of blog awards … or even that you’re getting another award or if the award thing delights or annoys you. It’s recognition from me, a fellow blogger, that you have made a difference in my world, changed my thinking, helped me learn, enabled me see differently through the camera’s lens, through words, via movies or books or ideas or any combination of these things.

You are important to me. You make me laugh, make me feel, make me think, teach me stuff. Some of you suggest ideas, movies, or books I might want 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.

Because I got another star today, I’m giving out one more of these to someone whose blog I really love … and you can tell how much I like his writing by how many times I reblog  his posts … like, uh, most of them I think.

Here you go — a star to:

Beasley Green: Write up my street … because he manages to make me laugh and think at the same time, which is not unlike chewing gum and walking at the same time (something which isn’t as easy to do as it might sound to the uninitiated). I know you’re busy, but please, write more!

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I’ve probably forgotten somebody, maybe more than one somebody. If I did, it’s an accident, I assure you … unless of course you are one of the people who have explicitly told me to not give them awards. I wanted to make sure all of you know that you are important and that I honor you.

Feel no obligation to do anything beyond your comfort zone. I ask only that you play nice and remember you really don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to.

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.

Better late than never? Accepting (finally) the Super Sweet Award!

Super Swe-e-e-e-et Award!

BY CATNIPOFLIFE ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2012

Last night I baked banana bread and when I added the sugar, I remembered you. Yay Sharla!

Thanks for the Super Sweet, Super Easy Just Plain Fun award! I want to thank you over there at Catnip of Life for this treat, the sweetest surprise that Autumn brought this year. So many other things were fraught and so many angry words were spoken. You are always a place of peace and inspiration.

Please visit Sharla. She never fails to lighten my mood, enlighten my mind, and brighten my life. Shine on Sharla!

When Sharla gave me the Super Sweet Blogging Award way back on September 8th, I fully intended to do something about it immediately. The problem was that she also gave me another award at the same time, and then someone else gave me another different one, and the election was gearing up …  and then, it was fall. The leaves began to change and was lost in that place to which Autumn always takes me, my personal fairy world. 

It’s something about the golden light, the trees all aglow, the sudden sharpness and tang in the air plus the awareness of how brief this time is and how terribly fragile. I have but a few weeks to grab that golden light. Every day it doesn’t rain is a gift to treasure.  No time to waste, no, no … I have to run to catch a sunbeam shining through a golden and scarlet tree before it melts into winter. Thus from mid September through most of October, I was out there, camera ready, catching the light and banking it against the coming grey and cold.

Then came the rain and the storm. Autumn was gone leaving only a carpet of leaves on the ground.

Now other urgencies came scurrying up, a presidential election in full swing … and the hurricane blew through and cleared the calendar right up to Election Day. In a state of near fugue from too much sensory and mental input, too many strident battles of words with so much rage and anger swirling everywhere, I realized that I was facing a hard deadline for a big but separate project to which I am committed … and I was far, far behind. I had to buckle down, settle down, do what I need to do and the days seemed to be flying off the calendar and dancing past before I could grab hold of them.

“Stop!!” I shouted. Time turned around and looked kindly at me.

“I don’t do that,” she said, most gently.

“I need you to hold still, just for a little while, until I catch up with myself,” I explained, barely able to speak, out of breath from so much running.

“I stop for no one,” she reminded me as she slid effortlessly along on thin air. “But I give you memory so though I pass, you can recall each day, should you make that effort,” and then she was gone, leaving a silvery trail and a reminder that I had an award, a sweet award, waiting for me. Time might not wait, but email may.

And here I am. Late, but not quite never.

It’s more than two months and I hang my white-haired head in shame at how tardy I have been in both accepting and thanking this wonderful lady who has been so kind and generous to me since we connected online months ago.

These last months have been a wild ride. When I got this award, I was doing well if 50 people clicked over to my little site on any day. Something happened since then and I pile up numbers that make my head spin. I’m not complaining, but I often feel like I’ve slipped through a warp or weft in reality to a parallel universe that looks like Earth, but isn’t. Blogging has changed my life. I’ve heard other people say that, but it doesn’t make it less true. It has given me focus. It has gotten me writing and taking pictures again. It’s brought me back into the world, brought me back to engaging with others, even if most of the engagement takes place in the virtual realm.

As I have more and more difficulty navigating hard-copy reality where my legs need to work in getting from place to place, never have I been happier than in this virtual realm where I have wings. I may limp from office to kitchen, but I can fly to the other side of the world. People who live oceans and continents away can talk to me and I to them. What a gift this is and how wonderfully, richly grateful am I that this other reality is here for me when I so much need it. I can only imagine how different my life would be and how isolated were the virtual world not as easy … no, easier … to get to than the local mall!

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Guidelines:

1. Give credit to the person who chose to nominate you. Sharla, CatnipOfLife  … an inspiration and a fine friend.

2. Answer the “Super Sweet” questions.

3. Nominate a “Baker’s Dozen”

“Super Sweet” Questions:

1. Cookies or Cake?   Cake for sure. Devil’s Food or any version of cheesecake please!

2Chocolate or Vanilla?  Vanilla straight up unless someone has fresh fruit for adornment.

3. What is your favorite sweet treat? Cheesecake or frozen yogurt.

4. When do you crave sweet things the most? Late at night.

5.  If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?  I’ve never had a nickname, but I’ve always wished I did. Give me one and I’ll thank you! Back in the 1970s, I asked everyone to call me Spike, but it didn’t work out. So I guess I need something else, but I think it’s a bit late for Spike. Gimpy, more like it.

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Now, on to the award. . .

Ready your trumpets! Roll your drums! 

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Special posts on blogs, quotes for inspiration, book sites and much, much more!

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That’s not all, but I’ve saved a few, kept them in my pocket for award emergencies!

To all of you who have made my virtual world so a great place to be, thank you. You are always welcome here at my place!