Cloud Talk

Today I was early for work, so I leaned back in my car and watched the clouds float by. It was a windy day and they were moving quickly.

Like Charlie Brown and friends, I sought images in the sky. First face I saw was a cameo-like profile of s woman. It morphed into the Grinch of Dr. Seuss fame, and then became nothing more than abstract poofs.

I moved on to the image of a mountain lion, and began to wonder if some legends of old found their start in cloud formations. I know the stars inspired some stories, but what about clouds?

What inspires stories, the tall tales or myths of today? We hear sometimes of odd prompts that influenced an author, songwriter or other artist. We don’t see the connection, but it’s there in the mind of the creator.

As for me, I watch the clouds float by and listen to hear what they might be saying.

Photo Credit: © Pakhnyushchyy – Fotolia

Treasure for the Future

What happens to our words when technology changes?

What happens when the media we rely on today is more outdated than eight-track tapes, and no one can access what we’ve written, the pictures we’ve taken, the record of history our present day communication will someday become?

Who are we counting on to save the gems of personal expression we take for granted today?

It’s phenomenal how much data we can store on a tiny piece of finely-crafted metal and wires, surrounded by plastic. Over time, those drives will corrode or be replaced by newer devices, and much of what you store on them is likely to be lost forever. Think of what you saved on disks just ten years ago, and tell me where you can go to retrieve all of it.

We cherish diaries of our ancestors, no matter how mundane they may have believed their lives to be, as a peek into hearts and minds of the people whose history shaped our own lives. How do we leave this same wealth of information for generations to follow?

This information will be a treasure someday.

I love blogging, but I fear what I write here will be lost eventually. The alternative seems to be print out my entire blog, and that isn’t going to happen.

If anyone has an answer, a real answer, not optimistic speculation, I’d love to know about it.


Image Credits © stock.adobe.com

 

Another Year Older (and deeper in debt)

Well, tomorrow is my birthday…the years keep rolling by…I plan to celebrate! But it brings to mind this much-loved song from my childhood (well, a little before, but I heard it a lot as a kid):

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

— music and lyrics by Merle Travis

Well, whatever else may rain down on me, at least I’m not a coal miner. I know those who built their lives around the mines are often profoundly loyal, literally to a point of death, but from my lofty vantage point, there’s little return for the workers.

Abstract background of Department store interior , shallow depthWhen I worked part-time at a department store, I used to joke I “owed my soul to the company store.” Hey, my full-time job, at least in theory, paid the bills, so that was extra cash to spend as I pleased…and I did. I kept track, and about half of what I earned there went straight back to the company coffers.

Thirty years later, I still have some of the Marimekko dishes I purchased, one place setting at a time, always on sale, until I had nine settings (eight, plus a spare). So not everything was thrown away on clothes and makeup. The first setting I got on my birthday from my sister, Beth, who thankfully has good taste.

But I digress from my original point. Where was I going with this? Oh yes! Tomorrow is my birthday! Yup, another year older…but not really deeper in debt. Except for the debts of gratitude I owe so many people in my life.

  • My mom, who is always there for me in every way. She will sacrifice just about anything to help me. I would give her the moon if I could (although cash may be more practical).
  • My brother, who has proven his love and commitment to me in ways I can never repay. He has shown me the value of family, and more importantly, myself.
  • My dad, who is so in tune with my thinking (or I suppose it should be stated the other way around since I’m his offspring) and never fails to surprise me with just the right support when I need it most.
  • My friends Beverly and Bill, who, like family, gave me emotional and practical support, often at personal expense.
  • My best friend from college, Laurie, who “gets me” like few others — and still loves me!
  • My friend Deb, who thinks nothing of putting others before herself and finding the right gifts on any day of the year.
  • My blogging buddies, for all the support you’ve given me in the past two years, as well as the gift of your friendship…and blogs!!!

So many others, but I’ll keep the list concise so it doesn’t lose meaning.

Thank you, everyone of you, and have a piece of chocolate cake (or whatever) this Saturday — it’s my birthday, and I want to celebrate with you!

birthday cupcake

Another year older, and deeper in debt — to all who have given me love and support.


Make yourself smile today with this catchy tune from Tennessee Ernie Ford, which spent a combined 16 weeks at the top of the Billboard Top 100 and Top Country hits lists back in 1955-56. (And if you want a good laugh, look up the “Go-Go Version” on YouTube.)


Photo Credits: (Department Store) © torsakarin – Fotolia; (Birthday Cupcake) © Studio KIVI – Fotolia

Resolutions and Revelations: Two Years Later

october-2016Two years ago today, I opened my WordPress account and posted my first post. The page was bare; I later added a small picture, but there were no graphics, no widgets, no header photo, nothing. Black words on a white page. I got three views and much later, one like.

It wasn’t until the following May I really put effort into this blog, and began the design you see now. I went through multiple headers and a few themes before landing here. I added the premium plan because I began to have ideas I couldn’t achieve with the free option (something I’m glad I did) and eventually started two more blogs, one for classic movie reviews (Classic for a Reason) and one for knitting.

But some things haven’t changed. My first post still rings with truth, although I’ve changed and grown in the two years since I wrote it. I was in pain that day, and you may be able to sense that when you read it. I’ve gotten past that pain, but the lessons still apply.

A large part of my growth has come through the process of writing about my experience, beliefs and dreams for the future. This blog doesn’t have a theme (one of topics, that is) like my other two do, and it’s likely to evolve over time. Just as I do.

So here’s the original post, just as I wrote it then. Many of you likely haven’t seen it, but I know some of you did when I re-posted it this day last year, and a handful of you perhaps read it the very first time.

Blessings to all of you!

resolutions and revelations

you bought me the book

I’m not motivated by New Year’s Resolutions. No surprise there, most people aren’t. No surprise what does motivate me either: trying to impress someone important to me is always a big one. Problem is, that comes and goes. Here’s the reason that actually works: finally realizing my life is truly better and I’m going to attract better things when I do things the right way. And typically it has taken failure in my life, and some humiliation, to get to that realization.

My friends say, oh, we each worry about those things a lot more than others do. After all, we have to live with our own failings, our stupidity, our repeated efforts to resolve what’s gone wrong with yet one more foolish gesture.

Right now I’m faced with what seems to me to be huge failure brought on by circumstances I had no control over. Wisdom from others tells me to learn to control what I can and live with what I can’t, but what I can’t control has taken over and felled me. Now I need to stand up and return to where I was only a short time ago. But will I fall again? Probably. That which I do not control will always be with me, and I fear that those I care about will leave me.

So I must do what I can to perhaps ward off the beast that follows me everywhere for longer than before. I must learn from this and pray I have another chance that will allow me to succeed. I weep at the thought I won’t, and realize I now have little control over that, but in and of itself there could stand a truth I need to learn. Truth that belies what I have held so dear for so long.

I face difficult yet not insurmountable odds. I tell myself I can take advantage with hard work and fierce resolve, with fortitude and purpose. No trite quotes for me, but strength of mind and character prevail. This year was better than last. I can’t guarantee next year will be better than this, but I’m hopeful it will be.

A few quick thoughts about this thing called blogging…

The best part of blogging is meeting all the wonderful people I’ve connected with in the last two years. There’s a certain anonymity about writing a blog that I think allows us to open up in ways we might not feel comfortable doing face to face.  Through that, we gain friends and support. Friends we may never meet but who we care deeply about just the same.

About image penA few days ago I wrote a post about skin cancer, a cautionary piece about this serious disease. Through it I’ve been reminded of one former co-worker who lost her eight-year-old son to that disease. It was an extremely rare case, and they had the best doctors in the nation caring for him. As happens so often in someone that young and otherwise healthy, it was also a very aggressive case.

She’s doing well now, has re-married a fantastic man, but never had any more children.

Cancer sucks.

I also have a new follower, Jo, who is in her twenties and has been living with melanoma for 11 years now. Please check out her blog, Melanoma Jo, to learn her story. I understand from one of her posts that she is part of an upcoming BBC documentary. I’m looking forward to seeing it!

Thank you to all of my followers, new and “old.” I try to check out everyone’s blog from time to time, and I apologize if I don’t get to yours right away. I will see it soon! If you leave comments on my blog, I’m certain to get back to you more quickly. That is, if I can link to your blog through your gravatar. That’s often the only way I have of finding you, so I encourage you to list your blog(s) there.

See you in the blogosphere!

Image Credits: (Alphabet background) © flas100 — Fotolia; (Pen) © artender — Fotolia; (Blog typewriter keys) © Marek Uliasz — Fotolia

Thumbs Up!

Sometimes the little things really do us in.

I tore a ligament in my thumb, apparently while moving into my new place,  and now have a “soft cast” to immobilize my hand.  Immobilized it is…writing, as well as buttoning my pants and using deodorant, is downright laborious. The pants and hygiene are necessary, but the writing is slowing down for the time being.

My apologies to all of you for not being as responsive to your blogs as I’d like. Once my hand is free, I plan to spend some time exploring what my fellow bloggers have been posting.

In the meantime, my cats are  thrilled.  Mama can’t write and can’t knit, so what does that leave?  Snuggle time!

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Image Credit:  © Andrew Adams — Adobe Stock

Seek and Ye Shall Find…some kind of weird stuff

I imagine most, if not all, of my fellow WordPress bloggers check their stats on some sort of routine schedule, including the list of search terms that lead viewers to your site.

AdobeStock_109760634 [Converted]Now, for privacy reasons, Google and other search engines limit how much we can actually learn about those chosen words. Usually we get that vague and somewhat frustrating phrase, “unknown search term.” WHY WON’T YOU TELL ME? What privacy issue can you possibly be protecting? (Okay, yes, I can figure out some of that answer. Still…)

But sometimes a term or two gets through, and it can be disturbing. I had to look one up in the Urban Dictionary not long ago. My initial findings were encouraging: it was a much outdated, not particularly popular slang phrase from a limited number of neighborhoods on the other side of the country from me. So it can still be argued I’m not totally unaware of the world around me, I’m cool, I know the lingo.

AdobeStock_111371163 [Converted]Then I looked at definition #2. Oh my. Could they possibly have been looking for something about that and landed on my blog? Big disappointment, since I’m not quite that cool.

(Out of curiosity, I entered the same search terms, and my decidely unhip post came up #1 in my Google search. Sorry folks, I don’t know what you were looking for, but I do feel certain this wasn’t it.)

You’ve probably figured out by now I’m not revealing that search term in this post. We don’t need to taint the relative purity of this blog…but heck, try this one: “dreaming of selling underwear.”

I do not know where on my blog they landed, but Google claims they brought them here somewhere. I entered that search term, too, and had all kinds of mildly and moderately distasteful things pop up, but nothing from my blog. I checked the posts people visited the same day, and I still have no clue what the link was.

If you discover it, there is a prize for you. Not from me, but I’m sure the Universe would reward you (listen to me, speaking for the Universe).

Hands down, my favorite one is this: “Walter Kitty.” That’s my cat’s name, and someone searched it, undoubtedly for reasons unrelated to my sweet baby but, hey, Walter, you’re famous! The only way it could be better would be if they searched “The Secret Life of Walter Kitty” (with a tip of the hat to James Thurber).

Image Credits: © geosap — Adobe Stock

Bragging on Myself (as we say in the South)

Five Personal Achievements —

It’s good to take stock and renew your belief in yourself. Thanks to Christina, who came up with a month’s worth of lists for her own blog, for the idea for today’s post.

Finished my book, learning all kinds of things about Adobe Creative Cloud software in the process.

open-book-simplicity-icon_fk8KRpU_ [Converted]This book isn’t currently available, but the point was to finish what had started out as an offhand comment.  It also gave me a sense of accomplishment at a time when I was feeling lost and alone. As a side benefit, it made a friend of mine laugh during some of her darkest hours.

Went back to college after dropping out the first time and finished with my bachelor’s in journalism.

I’ve written about this before, and I don’t recommend dropping out of college. In my situation, however, I was burned out and likely would have failed at least some of the courses ahead of me had I stayed during my first time in college. There were numerous other factors that led those closest to me to agree it was my best course of action at the time, and I never doubted I’d go back to school when the time was right.

Became an expert knitter.

skein of yarn and needles c mtzsv smI’ve been knitting so long I forget that it’s an accomplishment, but this is a skill I have I can use for myself, gifts for friends and family, and charitable giving. It led to the next achievement…

Designed numerous knitting projects, including some available for sale.

Kims Slippers red rose IIOne of my favorite patterns I never fully wrote out, and I doubt I’d ever make it again. It was a cardigan for my niece and I learned a valuable lesson (knitters will understand this): don’t design a pattern too heavy with cable designs. It takes up way too much yarn.

I also saw a pair of hand-knit slippers once that I really liked, and someone challenged me to try to figure out the pattern. What I came up with looked nothing like that original pair, but I’ve made dozens of these slippers for myself and others, and sold quite a few patterns to boot.

Developed and maintained this blog for more than a year.

AdobeStock_74229029 [Converted]Those of you who’ve been with me since the beginning (thank you!) have seen how this site has evolved and even produced a “spin-off,” my new blog for my reviews of classic films. It’s been a process, from designing the header to figuring out what to write, even changing the domain name. I can’t imagine life without writing, nor, at this point, without my blogging buddies.

Image Credits: (graduation) © carballo – Fotolia; (woman typing) © RetroClipArt — Fotolia; (skein of yarn) © mtzsv — Fotolia; (book) © GraphicStock.

“Three Day” Quote Challenge

 

Quote.png

Normally, I don’t do these challenges…and I’m a little late in responding, my apologies. But the blogger who nominated me has touched me lately, so I want to honor her with what is, for me, a full-throated response.

She has a fun, honest, straightforward approach, so if you like that style, check out her blog at Stealing Quiet Time in Noisy Disorder.

Of course the problem for me is leaving it at the quote. I want to expound…I think a future post is germinating…

The Inaugural Post!!

I imagine several of you, knowing what today is, have been thinking as you go about your day, I wonder how Belinda is doing with her new laptop? You probably pictured me tearing open the box, pulling out the slim new piece of equipment, opening it up for the first time…

Oh, get over myself. If any of you remembered, thank you. One or two of you maybe had a nagging thought today was important for some reason, and rolled your eyes when you remembered why.

But if you’re wondering, yes, it’s exciting! After I get this posted I plan to download a few things I rely on, connect to Google Drive, and a few other “fun” things. I still have to figure out how to get some things done, but I am certain I have the option to do them.

One thing that is disappointing. The space bar on this keyboard is a bit sticky. Let’s hope that’s a minor adjustment.

This post was almost subtitled Get It Over With, and part if the reason why is the frustration of learning a new keyboard. It’s inefficient. That’s the nice way to put it.

Also, it is a bit troublesome that I keep getting a message to sign up for Office 365. I am signed up for Office 365. Shouldn’t that automatically be recognized with my Outlook account? Hmm…

But the screen resolution is good, which I’m very pleased about, and it isn’t as disconcerting working with the much smaller screen as I thought it might be.

I was lucky when my computer crashed, and I know it. I was able to replace it rather quickly. I’m grateful for the timing of this situation, the extra work I’ve been getting, and my brother’s help.

And the support of the blogging community. Back to blogging as I know and love it!

Image Credit: © SCPhotog — BigStock

OM Heavens

Oh, heavens. I’m a bit embarrassed at how dependent I’ve become on my computer, and really mortified at how excited I am to be getting a new laptop soon. I’m lucky, I’ve gotten some extra work lately, plus my brother is helping me with the financing.

I may be less excited when I actually get this laptop. It’s only a 14″ screen, and I’m used to much larger. But I think I’ll get over that very quickly. Lots fewer cords — oh my!

This reminds me of a book my teacher read to us in maybe first grade. It was about a little boy whose entire house was automated — the stairs, the doors, the hallway, you didn’t do anything. It was all done for you. Until the day the electricity went out. Poor boy had to learn how to walk, pour a glass of water,  even call out for his mom. He was helpless.

image

I’m not quite helpless, but I’ve had to rethink a few things. Like this blogging stuff! It’s definitely different on a smartphone. You’ll have to excuse the unedited nature of this post.

The new laptop arrives next Thursday. Patience…. 

Photo Credit: © Adobe Stock

A Blogger’s Worst Nightmare (or one of them)

Oh my…it’s happened…my computer has died. I’m creating my first post on my smart phone (a little bit scary since I don’t see all the same buttons, bells and whistles, plus there’s that darn autocorrect — and what happens when the phone rings?). So now I’m scrambling to find the money for a new computer and cursing the universe because that money should be going into savings or toward a new sofa.

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All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put my computer back together again. © Fotolia

Life isn’t fair sometimes.

I got this job house-sitting not long ago, and it paid well. I was thrilled. I needed some dental work, and when you need dental work, you need it. It was a little disappointing the money couldn’t have been used for something more fun, but c’est la vie. I refused to be grateful and resentful at the same time. (It did take me a remarkably long time to make that dental appointment, though.)

However, now I’m stuck realizing lightning doesn’t strike twice, nor do I want it to. I had to move my cats with me for the house-sitting, and I can’t do that to them again. So getting a new computer may take some time.

But that’s life, I guess. (I’m saying that a lot, aren’t I?) I’m not happy about it, but I can’t waste time whining. Because right now I have to figure out how to get images on this post. And a caption with the image so it makes sense. If it isn’t one thing…

Thank You, Fellow Bloggers

Well, I had a delightful surprise this evening.

First, (I’m creating a little suspense here) the not-so-delightful part of my evening: I spent 100,000 hours battling the dreaded Blue Screen of Death that kept crashing my computer. The battle may not be over, or I may have solved the problem…it remains to be seen. For the moment, anyhow, I’m up and running, and not cursing.

Not cursing, because, I checked out the blog of one of my new followers, Hopeless Hannah, and at first was just tickled by several of her posts, especially one describing a device that allows cats to talk to us (I’ll let you visit her site yourself for more on that topic).

Then I discovered she paid me the high compliment of listing my blog under her post titled 10 Bloody Good Blogs About Life, Art & Sexism. Mine is a Bloody Good Blog! Woo-Hoo!

woo-hooNow, I am an award-free blog, but I’ll go for a listing like this anytime!

And yes, it’s self-serving to write this post, but that wasn’t (entirely) why I wrote it. Blogging is so important to me. I love to write, and while I’m seeking further outlets for my writing, as of now, this is my main showcase. It gives me an endless opportunity to write (well, sort of endless, I do have to work, feed the cats, walk the dogs, and all of that), and I get immediate feedback from people I’ve come to respect and admire, my fellow bloggers.

You have made a world of difference to me at a time in my life when it counted most.

Thank you, Hannah, and thank you to all of my followers, as well as the now-and-then visitors who happen by. I value all of you.

And hey, the computer hasn’t crashed since I started writing this post…that’s a good sign…

Ten Practical Tips for WP.com Bloggers

A slightly different kind of post for me, but one I hope is useful to some of you. Here are some practical tips, not of the improve-your-stats type, but rather, improve-your-overall-blogging-experience.

Blog and pen
This photo went from 3 MB to 637kb and for this post, it works just fine.

Keep the size of your uploaded media (pictures, graphics) as small as possible. I’m referring to kb, MB and heavens, GB size here, not the scale it ends up on your blog. Use a photo editor to reduce the size if necessary. You only get so much space in your Word Press account to store media, so why waste it with unnecessarily large photos? At a point they won’t look any better online.

Note: Since I first posted this, a fellow blogger, Becky, suggested finding an online image compression site for reducing the size of your photos. She uses compressjpeg.com. I also found Caesium, a free image compression site that’s gotten good reviews and ratings. I tried it out and found it easy to use with good results. Use your own judgment and discretion when downloading software from the web; neither Becky nor I can be responsible for any problems or mishaps.

It’s best to write your posts directly in the WordPress editor rather than cutting & pasting. If you do cut & paste, absolutely click on “paste as text”formatting icon in the toolbar at the top or your post might do some funky things, and you may never even know about it. Yes, you will have to reformat — which could be all the more reason to start out in the WP editor. Your preference.

For that matter, get to know the toolbar at the top of the editor. Here’s another cool feature:   character icon has all kinds of characters you may find useful for words like naïve and fiancée.  WordPress might say you’re spelling them wrong if you use those letters correctly, but ignore that. You know better and you’ll look smarter.

There’s also the horizontal line, third from the left on the bottom row of the toolbar, that’s a great subtle way of breaking up text. I use it at the bottom of my posts if I have a footer. You can barely see the line, yet graphically, it makes a nice difference.

If you have a really cool WordPress domain name (i.e. reallycooldomainname.wordpress.com), consider purchasing the “regular” domain name (that would be reallycooldomainname.com) before someone else does, particularly if you’re trying to build brand identity. It’s only $18 a year (well, $25 if you buy the well-advised privacy feature) and could pay off if you have long-term plans for your blog.

Pixabay has great free images you can use in your blog, and you don’t have to credit them or anything! Also, if you go to Google Images and look up images in your category, click on “Search Tools” then, below it, “Usage Rights,”  and go to “Labeled for noncommercial reuse.” Pictures in your category that are public domain or available for free with some attribution are shown (click on the picture and follow the link to find out if any attribution is required).

Google Images Usage Rights
Look at all the free pictures of kitties!

Never, ever use a copyrighted picture without permission. Simply saying it’s copyrighted by that individual, unless it went out over a newswire or was made available to the public in some similar fashion, typically isn’t enough. Similarly, if you purchase an image from a stock image company, always attribute. Generally giving credit in a caption or footer is appropriate, as long as it’s reasonably visible.

Learn a little HTML. WordPress has several tutorials; look them up in the Help section. It helps if you have goofy formatting stuff going on in your post. One “problem” I frequently have is “ ” ends up between paragraphs, which adds an extra space I usually don’t want. You’ll see “ ” on the HTML side of the post editor, not the Visual, and all you have to do if you don’t want it is delete it.

problem

For that matter, if you’re not familiar with WordPress’s Help section, get to know it. Click on your Gravatar image in the upper right hand corner of your page and it will take you to your Gravatar page. On the bottom left-hand side you’ll see “Help.”

Learn about WordPress’s Blogging University if you haven’t already, and take a class or two. It’s well worth the time. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/blogging-university/

Hope some of this has helped make your blogging experience just a little bit better. Happy blogging!


 

Image Credits: (blog paper & pen) © Graphic Stock; (Question Marks) © tiero – Fotolia.com

Writing, No, Dreaming Without Limits

I love to write, or I wouldn’t be blogging.

In fact, that’s part of why I started blogging, this incessant need to write. I had a journal, but that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t doing quite what I needed it to do. I wrote on my computer about various and sundry things, but those stories would sit on my hard drive and languish there.

Until this blog came along.

I always knew I loved to write, from the time I was six years old. For years my mom had a very simple story I wrote in the first grade that had impressed my teacher, who wrote, “Good Writing!” across the top in big, bold letters. I’m sure that story was on the refrigerator for a long time.

All through grade school, even into college, it felt like cheating if an exam was written. It was almost a certain “A” for me, if I could write on the subject.

I was a journalism major and started out as a reporter. I did well those first couple of years, but decided to pursue public relations and communications instead. The problem with that line of work is, you don’t do as much writing. There’s a whole lot of other stuff thrown in the mix.

Of course there’s plenty of other stuff to love in life besides writing.

But among other things, writing is how I dream. So I can never give it up.

Things happen and we don’t always get to do what we want to do, be who we want to be. We get sidetracked from our dreams for a time. That doesn’t mean we stop dreaming. I’ve had some setbacks in recent years, and I thought I was doomed, quite frankly, to a minimized life.

I no longer believe that. Yes, reality limits us. But dreams can come true, and life can be good again. You never know what day will bring the magic.


Learning Style


Image Credit (background) © GraphicStock; (fairy) courtesy of Pixabay