The creative and marvelous Cee Neuner has graced me with not one, but three awards, none of which I’ve gotten before.

First, I want to thank Cee at Cee’s Photography She is not only a wonderfully creative photographer, she’s a truly supportive friend. She puts a lot of effort into supporting the work of others. Always willing to share the credit and help us find our own fans and followers. She creates prompts that are fun, low stress and aim at getting lots of people involved. It’s been a real joy getting to know her.

I’ve been trying to avoid awards. I have so many. It seems there must be other people who need attention and the “lift” an award brings … but saying no makes me feel like an ingrate so I’m doing this … a mega thank you, long overdue.

But after this, no more, okay? It’s an embarrassment of riches and there are so many young, relatively new blogs out there where some attention and an award would make them feel that they are finally appreciated and noticed!

inner peace award


The three awards from Cee are THE FIELD OF FLOWERS AWARD, THE INNER PEACE AWARD, and THE LIGHTHOUSE AWARD. Each suggests I name a bunch of other blogs to honor, but everyone I connect with is full up with awards. So you are welcome to choose to come and accept an award, responding on whatever level makes you feel comfortable.

I more than understand if you just don’t want to deal with it. Our lives do get busy and full. It can seem less of an award and more an exercise in playing creative “tag you’re it”! Let’s not make it stressful!

About Me, First Go Round



I’m a writer, first and foremost since it was my profession for my entire working life, now my joyous avocation too

A photographer second– but not far behind. I’ve been a serious amateur photographer since I got my first camera the year I turned 22. I think I’m finally getting good enough to feel I’ve made progress

I have a ton of medical problems. I am going in for some big deal heart surgery at the beginning of March. I will be in hospital for about a week and get (oh joy) to spend my birthday (again, third time) in hospital — but hopefully, not the ICU. I don’t think I’m going to die. I do firmly believe I’m going to really hate this — but who likes major surgery, right?

With a teensy bit of luck, will be back annoying everyone in short order.

I started blogging for no particular reason but, to paraphrase something everyone says, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” I’m conscientiously unstructured, unfocused and free-wheeling.

I never want blogging to feel like work. I want to be able to surprise myself and everyone else with variety, wild mood swings, and abrupt changes of subject.  I’m happy that my two co writers — Rich Paschall of Sunday Night Blog and my kick-ass husband, Garry Armstrong — are as free-wheeling as am I. They will be carrying on here to the best of their ability while I’m down for the count.

Regardless — if you want predictability, to know what’s coming? There are lots of blogs that fill specific niches. This is not one of them.

More Honors (I am truly humbled!)



From the fabulous Alienorajt, I am honored with the Dragon Loyalty Award. I think I may have really earned this one. I am nothing if not faithful to other bloggers whose sites I admire and who I feel spread “The Good Stuff” around.

There are so many nasty, miserable sods out there … then … there’s Alienora! Thank you my good friend!

Alienora is a writer. She writes bawdy, honest posts. Sometimes fiction, often funny, almost always deeply touching. A woman of integrity, with great heart, please visit her.

Stuff About Me – You really want MORE?

I’m supposed to come up with 7 more things. Okay, if you insist:

  1. Born and raised in New York city.
  2. Married first time at 18. Bore my son at 22.
  3. My grandchild was born in 1996 and when she isn’t making trouble, she’s the light of my life. Okay, even when she is making trouble.
  4. Writer since forever.
  5. Photographer since a few years shy of forever.
  6. Collect old hard plastic and antique dolls as well as ancient Chinese pottery.
  7. I’m a hard-core reader. Take away everything else, but leave my books. And a few tunes.

Four More? Yes, more!



From my good and loyal friend, Sharla Shults at The Catnip of Life and Awakenings, comes this collection of awards. Like me, Sharla accepts and offers, but doesn’t feel obliged to make anyone do a lot of work. Getting an award is supposed to be fun! From Sharla, it always is!

Sharla writes about life, love, this country and those we honor. She writes poetry, short fiction, and just …. rather like me … about stuff she find interesting and fun. Music, holidays and the great people who are part of our history.

Visit her. She’ll charm and delight you 🙂

Versatile Blogger that’s me!

versatileblogger11Almost forgot and I do apologize. I’ve been collecting all these awards in a file, always planning to do something about them and never quite getting around to it. But here’s the final award — one I’ve gotten previously a couple of times but which seems more appropriate than most.

This award comes from Great Blue Herons, a beautiful photo blog with pictures that make me drool and wonder how come I never get the wild things to stay put and pose for me! You will not, I promise, regret visiting her sight. It’s an inspiration!

I’m (Sort of) (In A Way) Passing Out Batons!



Everyone to whom I would give awards has already given me awards and mostly, I’ve returned the favor. It has begun to feel a lot like a chain letter. So many of you have honored me, it’s truly humbling. I give to all of you a most heartfelt thank you. ALL of you, the people I follow, those about whom I comment … I hear your voices loud and clear. You have supported me, been there for me for two years and you know who you are.

This is my gift to you, originally from Sharla. It’s the award that says it all, the one you can proudly display without worrying about paying anything forward or back. Come and get it! If you are reading this, you’ve earned it!!

Come take an award. Pick one you don’t have. Take them all 🙂

YOU ALL DESERVE THE HONOR and I’m proud to know you!


See on Scoop.itBooks, Writing, and Reviews

Today is a quiet day…a co-o-o-old day so definitely a day to stay inside simply enjoying the warmth of hearth and home. Just finished reading The 12-ft Teepee by Marilyn Armstrong (featured below) and thought I would take some time to visit blogs I am following. How surprised I was upon coming across The Lost Spirits @A Misbehaved Woman.

What better topic to revisit than that of the American Indians?

Disturbing, however, is the fact this story is not totally past history…it is tied to history, yes, but it is also right here, right now, in America, in New York City.

Read the rest of the story on Awakenings!

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

So much good stuff to read in this post … including (blush) the best review I’ve ever gotten of my little book.

See on awakenings2012.blogspot.com

Awakenings: Are we there yet?

Reblogged from AWAKENINGS 

I love western movies. I love the romance of the old west, the line of wagons rolling along in the shadow of the mountains, bravely heading to the achievement of  the nation’s manifest destiny. But I can’t forget that in building this country, we destroyed other nations, slaughtered thousands of men, women and children in a systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of every Native tribe we encountered — our own American Holocaust. That the tides of history have ever been thus is undeniable, but it doesn’t make it less horrendous. So with the romance, there will always be an underlying bitter knowledge. We built our land on the blood and bones of those who were here long before us. 

— Marilyn Armstrong

On the trail again . . .

Do you suppose the children of the early pioneers questioned along the way “Are we there yet?” Every five minutes a repeat of the refrain, “Are we there yet?” An ever nagging, whiny “Are we there yet?”,  “Are we there yet?”,

“Are we there yet?”

Needless to say, the mode of travel was not by air-conditioned automobile, camper or RV. Instead, it was by crude wagon, horseback or on foot. A grueling 2000-mile journey across western plains and mountainous trails would last five months. Conditions were harsh plagued with accidents, illness, raging river crossings, mud, dust, monotony, and often terror. In spite of unimaginable, unforeseen circumstances, they trekked onward … onward toward a dream, hope of better times in a land to the west.

The shadow of fear loomed endlessly regarding the possibility of encountering native Indians who had been reported as being savages. Can you imagine traveling into a territory where it was known for men to be killed and scalped while women were taken prisoner? That, of course, would indicate the women witnessed the brutal slaying of their husbands. While many of the women were eventually saved, it was reported they went insane and lived only a short time after being rescued from captivity. They had nothing left, their husbands were dead, more than likely the children too, wagons were burned and all possessions taken from them. They were stripped of everything in life they had ever known or owned.

Had it not been for the determination and perseverance of these early pioneers the west would not have been won. Winning, however, came at a high price for both the white man and the Native American Indians who, by the way, were not savages. But, that is another story. . .

So, back to our initial question: “Are we there yet?” I do fear had one asked that question he or she would not have been brave enough or in the condition to ask it again! What do you think?

Long dresses, trousers with jackets, hot sultry weather, & tumbleweed were commonalities along the trail.

Hardy Pioneers

After taming the eastern seaboard, crossing the Western Frontier
proved to be just as treacherous as crossing the Atlantic.
This, however, did not impede the push westward
as hope, faith, and courage continued to prevail.
By crude wagon they traveled
With limited communications
Across the Mississippi
Westward to the Appalachians
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif
Walking beside the wagons
Eased the bumpy trails
But not the loudly clanging
Utensils and pails
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif
Fetching water from a stream
Collecting dried buffalo chips
Shaking out dusty blankets
Were never regarded as quips
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif
Days were long and grueling
Under the sweltering sun
Dusk welcomed time to rest
Once chores were finally done
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif
Gathering around the campfire
With smiles and laughter perchance
Lessened the pains of their labors
As they enjoyed song and dance
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif
With new land in sight
After months on the trail
Labors did not end
For bodies thin and frail
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif
Shelters needed building
Fields hoed then plowed
Candles dipped for lighting
To unveil the shroud
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif
Without modern tools
Hands aching to the bone
Time for rejoicing
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif
In a place to call home
Sod shanties, crude cabins
Canvas stretched across dirt floors
Muslin on the ceilings
Kept grime from falling indoors
File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif

But, in spite of it all
Smiles of joy would beam
It was a place called home
A part of their dream

File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif

©2013 Awakenings
Sharla Lee Shults

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

If you think a long car trip with the family can be stressful, try to imagine a trans-continental wagon train … with the kids.  Would anyone arrive at their far off destination with their sanity intact? Perhaps the journey accounts for the high level of guns and violence in the Old West. I bet it was that endless trip by covered wagon with the whole family, a level of togetherness that is almost incomprehensible.

File:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gifFile:Tiny Star.gif

I’d love to be able to retell this from the point of view of the Native Americans whose homelands were being invaded by people who had no respect for their customs, nor the slightest willingness to learn anything about the culture they despised. Our pioneers were so steeped in the righteousness of their cause, the rightness of their greed for the land that was not theirs, they could not even consider the possibility that there was another side to the story. What would they have done had positions been reversed? Would they have been thought savages for protecting their land, families, and homes?

That most of the pioneers were utterly ignorant is probably the best thing you can say about them. Those lands were not uninhabited. They were not empty, waiting for white people to come and civilize them. The rightful owners were not savagely attacking our brave adventurers: they were attempting to halt an invasion.

There were people living there, people with an ancient culture, homes, and families. They too had children, wives, hopes and dreams. In building this nation, we destroyed not one, but many nations.

See on awakenings2012.blogspot.com

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!

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.

Daisy Award: A Special Award for the Brave of Heart

It is on rare occasion that a connection is available to the creator of an award. This time the beginning link in a chain of unknown number of recipients is Subtle Kate.


In Kate’s own words on June 28, 2012, “I would like to start a new award. It’s called the Daisy Award.  Daisy’s are very sweet flowers, but they are stealth with hardiness. They’ll come up anywhere and beat the frost.  This award is for the brave.”

So without further ado, these are the rules to follow:

Thank the person who nominated you.

This is the easiest part. I keep finding myself thanking Sharla, (Awakenings and CatnipOfLife). Sharla, you have become so much a part of my life it’s hard to explain to people who someone who I’ve never met face to face could become so interwoven with my life. You are the best, you really are. Hugs and thanks fly over the miles, from me to you!

Tell your readers seven unusual things about yourself.

What can I tell you that you don’t already know? I think by now I’ve told everybody everything. But let’s see how these fly:

  1. I am a peculiar combination of sentimental, tough, sympathetic, empathetic and impatient. All at the same time. I love and admire people who laugh in the face of disaster but cry at reruns of Flipper.
  2. I love survivors and people who share the good in their lives while trying to spare others from pain.
  3. I appreciate that while I’ve had a rough time, others have had worse.
  4. I’m a risk taker and whenever I take a risk, I’m scared to death. My motto is “What the Hell; do it anyhow!”
  5. I don’t believe that any of us deserve medals for doing the best we can with whatever hand we’ve been dealt. That’s what you are supposed to do. Life can be messy and unfair. No one gets a free ride.
  6. I’m a fighter, even when I know I can’t win. I figure it’s better to lose then give up while letting the fates use you as a soccer ball.
  7. I am a relentless student of everything and when I stop learning, it will be because I’m no longer breathing.

Nominate several worthy bloggers.

This award is for the brave … and I think I’m choosing rightly.

For Mike, at Mike’s Film Talk, because while watching his life crash and burn, he’s managed to somehow keep a sense of humor and a sense of perspective and recognize that there will be another day.

For Jenny Threet at Rumpy Dog who fights a never-ending battle to try to protect our furry friends in the face of ignorance and indifference.

For Jordan Rich at  Jordan Rich, a man who has a been a friend and supporter of every kind of worthy cause, donated his time, his celebrity, and personal resources to help everyone to the best of his ability. Which I might add is considerable. He has his own problems and faces them with courage and honor and without complaint. The Jordan Rich Show airs Friday and Saturday nights, from midnight until 5AM on WBZ AM 1030AM and WCCO Minneapolis.