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Whew! What a busy three days I have had. Friday was Maya’s first birthday. My daughter wanted to take her to a restaurant where they’ve gone for the first birthdays for the boys, to keep the tradition. However, it’s a pricey steak house and no one has any money. My daughter belongs to their frequent diners’ club and got a twenty-five dollar gift certificate for her birthday which was set to expire on the fifteenth of this month. Twenty-five dollars is not enough for all of us to go so I suggested that she and Chris take Maya there for lunch (cheaper menu) and I would take the boys to pizza at the same time. The pizza place was having a promo where we didn’t have to pay for the pizza if we bought a Pepsi product so it was a good deal. After pizza the boys and I went to the park but not until we went to Dollar Tree to get paper airplanes to fly at the park. We also went for a short hike through the park grounds which is a habitat reclamation project so it has nice trails. Then they wanted a slushy drink so we hurried to Taco Bell so we could get them for one dollar during their happy hour! Then finally, home. Or at least to my home where they watched an old movie, Harry And the Hendersons. Whew! I’m exhausted remembering it.

There were a lot of things to be done on Friday night to be ready for Saturday’s party so I was up late, putting together a photo “clothesline” of pictures of Maya’s first year and some other stuff I said I would make. I’ll have to remember to say I will make less in upcoming birthdays (we have Anderson’s in four weeks then Spencer’s four weeks after that).

Then on Sunday I was called to go entertain Maya while Tina got things ready for the party. The cake and pizzas had to be picked up and no one volunteered (meaning Chris didn’t go get them. Tina was busy the entire time. Finally, after one o’clock, Tina sent me home to iron on some transfers for five t-shirts and then to pick up the pizzas and the cakes.  I got that done and dropped off the shirts before picking up pizza and cake. Luckily, I dropped off the pizza before going to get the cake because guest were already there and unbeknownst to me, when I got to the store bakery to pick up our order of two cakes, there were no cakes. They had messed up and had put the order in under the wrong Saturday. By the time the realized they had messed up (after looking and looking for the cakes and calling the bakery manager at home) and solved the problem by giving us a different cake and I got back to Tina’s, it was three forty-five and the party was almost over. They were just waiting for the cake! I missed the whole thing.

That’s the whine which made me need the wine! I had a glass of wine spritzer my daughter had made then sat in the recliner after everyone left. I finally managed to get my weary bones out of the recliner and home by about six. I was in so much pain that I didn’t even make it to my bedroom. I sat on the couch and didn’t get up for about three hours! And today, after twelve hours of sleep, I am still very tired and my body is sore all over, as in where’s the truck that hit me kind of sore! But it’s all over for this month. I told my daughter last night before I came home, that I am not going to go pick things up next time and if I do, I won’t do it at the last minute. She needs to tell me in advance and I need to have time to rest in between because I just can’t do that thing where I go non-stop for twelve to fourteen hours anymore.

And the more! The party was a success. The decorations were fun and the photo clothesline turned out really neat. I stole the idea from my daughter-in-law. I printed out a bunch of pictures in tiny form (nine to a 4″ x 4″ sheet). They are cut out and hung with a tiny clothespin (I used pink glittered ones) on a clothesline made of the thinnest cord I could find. Very cute. The kids had fun. The pinata was a success. The birthday girl was happy and full of energy. All things considered, it was all worth the hassles. At least it was when I think of how happy the kids were!

That’s my whine, wine and more. What do you have to share?

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So this one is sort of about letters. And it doesn’t involve me. It’s about my ex-husband and his sister. They tell a story, and I believe it because I know them both, about one year when his older sister was at UCLA and he was at MIT. They wrote letters all year long. He didn’t have money to fly home for any holidays so he stayed in Boston from August until May. Long distance phone calls in those days (the late 60’s) were very expensive so the only way to stay in touch was through letters. Mr. Google has led me to several sites that say first class letter postage in 1969 was six cents. It doesn’t seem like much, does it?

One year, they used the same stamp all year long, back and forth the stamp traveled. They figured out that you could use a pencil eraser to erase the postmark stamping from the stamp and they were very careful about taking the stamp off. I am not sure which glue they sued but I vaguely remember that it was rubber cement. So the stamp would travel from Los Angeles to Boston and back again, over and over. I don’t know how often they wrote but I am thinking it was about once a month so that stamp must have made the round trip at least ten times! And I don’t think they did it to save money. I think they did it more just to prove that it could be done.

That’s my letter-ish post for today!

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Yesterday I mentioned that I am going to be participating in NaNoWriMo once again. I also said that I am at the very beginning in terms of planning and thought some of my readers here and on Facebook might be able to help me out.  So what can you do?

The premise I will be starting with is a person going to a coffee shop every day at the same time and staying all day. She goes with a laptop and sits and listens to what is going on. She has nowhere else to go. She kinda pretends that she is doing work on the computer but she’s just sitting and eavesdropping on conversations. Over time, she gets to know the background stories and the gossip of not only the people who work there but also of the other customers. She gets to know their secrets, all by just showing up and being there all day.

What I would like from you is suggestions of names for characters and any tidbits of customer stories/gossip or of work place scenarios at the coffee shop. Anything that I can take off and create something out of.

A couple of years ago, I did something similar and one of the suggestions I loved but didn’t use is one I will, most likely, be using this year. The name was Jessica and her back story was “she will take anyone’s man so you gotta watch her!” Doesn’t that sound like fun? I could build entire chapters around Jessica and her escapades!

It doesn’t take much. Just a few words to suggest a story to be built. Or you can even just send me a physical description of someone or of the coffee shop. Sound like fun? I think it is. Please give me a hand. I may be sharing some of what I write here on the blog in November as I also committed to doing NaBloPoMo once again.

How is your Sunday going? It’s a bit gloomy here in Oregon. I’m kinda out of it today. I had a bad day on Facebook yesterday. Much drama. And it cost me a couple of friends. It’s okay though as they have been borderline for some years. Yesterday, the camel’s back broke and I had to disconnect from them. It makes me sad because I am one of those people that likes to keep everyone happy. I hate to have any kind of argument or disagreement but what I hate more is to be attacked about my opinions. So “poof!” They’re gone. And I am left shaken.

In any case, take a stab at helping me out with my NaNoWriMo project. And this stays up so you can help out any time during the month! Thanks in advance. Ciao!

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Today I am reminded that a friendship is a friendship. It doesn’t matter if it is a “virtual” or real life friendship. The emotions and the attachments are the same. And when my friends hurt, I hurt.

I have a friend that I met online around 2006 on a site called Gather. Her moniker there was The Little Fluffy Cat. She was one of the most supportive, loving, friendly, and welcoming people I have ever met. Later, she and her family came to the Portland area on vacation and I got to spend a few hours with them. There was instant recognition and the feelings were as if we had always known each other in the real world.

She’s a very private person. Her name is Lydia. Last week, she allowed her sister to post on her Facebook page about her health issues. She had kept everything secret. If I understand it correctly, she has a problem with the “connectors” in the cerebellum, or blood vessels in the brain. Her sister told of how Lydia has been in the hospital since July when she underwent a couple of surgical procedures to solve the problem but then developed other complications which have caused some loss of brain function, mimicking a stroke but has not actually had a stroke. She has not been home since July, except for being allowed to go home for a weekend here and there. During the last weekend that she spent at home (Christmas weekend), she caught a cold which made her main health issues worse. Since then, she has become gravely ill and had to be resuscitated a few days ago then put into a medically induced coma. The doctors are out of options. They are stalling and hoping that they can solve some of the minor problems which might alleviate the major ones. She has asked her friends for prayers and a miracle because she’s not ready to die. She’s 57 years old. She has a 17 year old son and one that is 14.

My heart aches for her and her family. I have been praying for her. We used to say that one day we would get together and have a slumber party complete with pjs and talking/giggling all night. I want that chance for us to have that long sisterly talk. I want her to see her sons grow. I want her to hold her grandchildren in her arms. I want her to grow old with her husband who loves her so much and has not left her side in months. I want her to recover and live a long and happy life.

If you are a praying person, please hold Lydia up in prayer. Send her positive vibes…healing thoughts…anything that might help.

 

 

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Last Friday I participated in Friday Fictioneers, a weekly blog hop that asks Readers to write a 100 word story inspired by the photo that is posted. It’s a great little exercise in word efficiency and it’s also fun to hop around to visit all the other blogs that participate in the challenge.

While visiting blogs, I came across this blog by C.E. Ayr. He had a wonderful little story written for the challenge. I commented on it and he came to check out my blog. He looked around and left a comment jokingly asking why his books were not on my reading list. We had a brief exchange which led to my purchase of a novella written by him, The Second Request, which I read yesterday.

I will review The Second Request on Monday but I thought I would just write a quick post pointing out one of the things that I love about blogging. It’s a community where one short comment leads to another and before you know it, you’ve been introduced to something new: a book, a song, a movie, a destination, or a person!  Friendships begin and the net of the blogging community stretches in welcome!

I love blogging!

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I have been reading lots and lots of blogs over the past three months and I keep coming up with blogs that aren’t very Reader friendly or sometimes even inconsiderate…not that the blogger is doing these things intentionally. I think they just aren’t aware of it.

One thing that would help, and I realize it isn’t possible on all blogging platforms especialy if you have a free blog, is changing the font. I have to increase the view size in my No Squint plugin to about 150% in order to be able to view the font without serious eye strain. I know some blogs have a variable font size where the Reader can pick the font size. I love those blogs but I think it’s probably a feature available only on pay blogs. However, if there is anything you can do to improve the size or the crispness of the font, that would help your Readers.

Another thing that would help is to keep in mind that your Followers probably follow a lot of other blogs. When I follow a blog, I read every single post as soon as I am notified of the post. Each day I spend upwards of three hours reading and commenting on blogs. So, when a blog I follow post five, six, seven, or more times in one day, that’s a bit much, especially when a lot of them are just reports of what the Blogger is doing at the moment or is about to do. Some Bloggers seem to run to publish a post every hour to report on every detail of their lives. Too much. And often too much information, too! Be considerate of your Readers’ time or you may lose those Readers.

And that brings me to commenting. Why would you make your Readers jump through hoops to comment on your post? First I have to enter all of my identifying information, then I have to prove I’m not a robot, then I have to post my comment and then I have to preview it before it publishes and then it will finally publish. It often takes me longer to comment than it does to read the post and by then, I’ve lost interest in commenting. Then there are a couple of blogging platforms that make you join their platform before you can comment. Not going to happen with me.

I often tweet the urls of blogs I enjoy so that others can visit them, too. However, if there is no Share button available or if it is there but not configured, then I have to copy the url, open Twitter, paste the url, type in any hashtags I want to add, type in a comment, then post. Takes too long. I’m not doing it and you are missing out on shares and visits. So get that Share Button up on your blog and get it configured so that all Readers have to do is hit the button and share it!

These are the top things bugging me about reading blogs today. There are others but these made it to the top of the list today. It may not apply to all of you, in fact I know it doesn’t apply to most of my Followers. However, when you have just spent the last three hours reading, commenting, and sharing blogs, these things are really aggravating and they keep me from coming back to your blog!

To those of you who are nice to your Readers by not being guilty of any of these pet peeves, thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Since I’ve gotten back to writing in this blog, I’ve also gotten back to reading blogs. They go hand in hand. Without reading and commenting on other blogs, you won’t get much traffic on your own blog. Also, one of the reasons I enjoy blogging is to make friends and have the (virtual) conversations that I lack in daily life.

While clicking on links from lists for NaBloPoMo and other blog challenges, I’ve come across a lot of younger writers, some of them really struggling with a number of issues and some of them just questioning and exploring. I guess it’s my maternal nature kicks in at these times and I find myself taking an interest in many of them and commenting on their blogs. I try to leave encouraging, even inspiring little “pep comments” whenever I can and I leave little bits of caring and support wherever I can. That’s just who I am.

Yesterday I got a reply to one of my comments and I replied back to the blogger then she replied to me thanking me for always being supportive. Another blogger, also yesterday, thanked me for supporting her “fledgling writing attempts”.

Needless to say, it has left me with a big smile on my face. I guess being me is making a difference to a few people. I guess my attempts at encouragement and support are hitting their marks. Yay! It really makes me feel good to know this.

And so I keep reading and commenting.

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