Share Your World

There are a number of writing challenges and prompts in the blogging world, among them is Cee’s Share Your World, which she posts once a week. She posts a number of questions, some on the humorous side, supposedly to share some of our likes and dislikes with our readers.

Anyway, here’s her list of questions for this week and my responses:

You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what is it? Sushi? Scotch Tape?

Thinking along immaterial lines, I’d say “FRIENDS.” But in terms of actual things, my practical answer may contradict that noble aspiration. Just leave me in the Library — preferably with pens and stacks of notebooks, since you’re never supposed to scribble in library books.

Books

Pixabay

Teleportation or flying?

Teleportation is a sci-fi thing, where all your cells turn to — energy? — and are flung off to some other place or planet. Then you materialize again. Being fearful of the unknown, I’d worry that during teleportation my cells might get swirled around and I’d come together again with two arms on one side, or lose a foot in transit, or all my hair? Not a risk I’d ever take.

Besides, I love flying. One time, as the plane was taxiing down the runway full throttle  and the roar of the engines thrilled our ears, I turned to the fellow in a business suit sitting next to me and said, “Don’t you just love flying!” 🙂

He replied in a crisp British accent, “Personally, I find it nerve-wracking.” 😦
Oh well. Can’t please everybody.

Would you rather live where it only snows or the temperature never falls below 100 degrees?

winter street

Pixabay

I can’t take the heat…but to live where it only snows? To never have spring…never any nesting birds or flowers? Could I bear it?
In either case I’d be staying indoors, so my choice would be looking out at sand dunes or snowbanks. Hmm…

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

Our private school put on a program of songs and skits Wednesday evening for the end of the school year. Lots of smiles and chuckles. Of course the highlight was watching our three grandchildren up on the stage doing their parts. The oldest is out of school already. Why do those school years fly by so fast?

Cat sleeping

Pixabay

We have two cats that both think my desk chair is the most comfortable and best-located seat in the house. I’ve evicted one or the other of them a dozen times this week, but all I need to do is go pour myself a coffee and when I get back…
(This gives my husband more smiles that it gives me. 😉 )

Flowers & Rainbows

Early Morning Rainbow Spotted

“What is so rare as a day in June…” and all that.

This isn’t a sunny day at all, but the rain clouds that rolled over yesterday afternoon were and are welcome. They’re still hovering, but when I looked out first thing this morning I saw the tail end of a rainbow hanging just under the cloud bank in the south.

Yesterday was the “Year-End Picnic” at our private (parochial) school. Activities started about 1:30; we went over at 3pm to watch and partake of the fried chicken and salads supper provided at 5:30. We were all thankful that the clouds didn’t come over until after all the fun and games. And supper was well timed weather-wise; we were called to partake at 5:30pm and the rain didn’t start until after most of us had eaten. But then it definitely DID start.

The timing of this rain is great for crops and such. Even my little excavation. I have begun digging up a long-neglected flower bed I’d made years ago in our lawn. While I was dealing with my leukemia I let it go; now it’s choked with mats of quack grass roots. I’m trying to get those out and not kill the peonies planted there and the soil has been powder-dry.

I’m thankful that I finally have the energy to work at this project. I’ll have to be diligent with this task all summer, too, seeing as quack grass roots go deeper than I can with my spade and will be popping up whenever they get the chance.

Speaking of pests, I saw oodles of tiny grasshoppers yesterday. We’ve had a number of cool, wet springs and the hopper population has been decimated from what it was when we moved here ten years ago. But it looks like we’re heading into a dry cycle again, so we’ll likely have to contend with them this summer.

Heads Up re: Important Change in Communications

We’ve been having a fair number of problems with the internet service cutting out and/or being very slow. Yesterday Bob decided to sign us up with SaskTel as our new provider; they’re coming this morning to install a tower on our roof and get us set up. Hopefully SaskTel will provide more reliable service than what we have now — which sometimes cuts out for hours when we have thick cloud cover.

So as of this afternoon I’ll have a new e-mail address or two! I’ll probably send a note to folks in my current address book to let everyone know.

I don’t know if this will mean a temporary disruption in my blogging, as all my present communications are coming and going via Xplornet. But any of you who wish to contact me can do so through christinevanceg @ gmail.com. Maybe once I’m settled at my new address I’ll install one of those ‘Contact Me’ widgets.

Daily One-Word Writing Prompts

Since WordPress has ceased sending out their daily writing prompt, several sites have sprung up to supply what folks are missing. Judy Dykstra-Brown has posted links to a half-dozen and is interested in hearing if there are more. Click here to see her list.

“Friendship”

I’m happy to say that my visit to the Cancer Clinic yesterday was really encouraging. My white count is about the same as it was back in November, no sign of the leukemia becoming active.

I’m going to take a break from the internet for awhile to catch up with other projects. I’ll schedule some poems to fill in the gap. I trust you’ll find them as inspiring as I do.

Friendship

by Edgar Guest

You do not need a score of men to laugh and sing with you;
you can be rich in comradeship with just a friend or two.
You do not need a monarch’s smile to light your way along;
through weal or woe a friend or two will fill your days with song.

So let the many go their way and let the throng pass by;
the crowd is but a fickle thing which hears not when you sigh.
The multitudes are quick to run in search of favorites new,
and all that man can hold for grief is just a friend or two.

When winds of failure start to blow, you’ll find the throng has gone —
the splendor of a brighter flame will always lure them on;
but with the ashes of your dreams and all you hoped to do
you’ll find that all you really need is just a friend or two.

You cannot know the multitude, however hard you try:
it cannot sit about your hearth; it cannot hear you sigh;
it cannot read the heart of you, or know the hurts you bear;
its cheers are all for happy men and not for those in care.

So let the throng go on its way and let the crowd depart;
but one or two will keep the faith when you are sick at heart;
and rich you’ll be, and comforted, when gray skies hide the blue,
if you can turn and share your grief with just a friend or two.

From the Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

Getting the Scoop

Many thanks to Rochelle for hosting this Friday Fictioneers group and faithfully sending us prompts to set our computer keys a-dancing.  CLICK HERE to join the fun. This morning before I even saw the prompt I was inspired to write something this time. Now how can I resist with such an opportune prompt?

This unique photo was submitted by Connie Gayer — possibly taken at her peril. At least I wouldn’t want to get that close to anyone with a shovelful of mud. I suspect the subject here will need a bath in more ways than one after this week is over. 😉

Photo c Connie Gayer

Book Review: Getting the Scoop

In this fabulous book gardening guru Russell Gayer gives valuable tips on growing everything from soup to nuts. Readers will be impressed by the list of awards he expects to win.

Full color illustrations throughout. In this photo he demonstrates how to plant peanuts, a underground crop. According to Gayer, the deeper you plant them the more peanuts you’ll harvest.

He does warn readers, though: “Before working the soil you should verify with your city engineer’s office just how deep the sewer lines are installed in your area, if you want to produce nuts and not soup.”

Writing Prompt Sources

Like so many of you, I read the announcement last week that WordPress is discontinuing some of its regular features, including its Daily Prompts on May 31st. I haven’t been using their one-word prompts for a long time; nevertheless, this announcement sparked my curiosity. I decided to have a look at how many other sites on the net offer writing prompts.

Hello Mr Google… WOW! I could write a story a day for a hundred years with what’s available out there.

Some sites are maintained by publishers like Writer’s Digest. Some are blogs by published authors like Graeme Shimmin and John Matthew Fox. (For your convenience I’ve put their links at the bottom of my sidebar under Writing Help)

Searching specifically, you can find random first line generators, random plot generators, random character generators, movie script generators. There are prompt sources for teachers, for students, for songwriters. There’s one titled, “Twenty-one writing prompts to help you finish an entire novel this summer.” There’s even “80 Letter-writing prompts” from Compassion International.

Just for curiosity I clicked on THIS ONE and generated a random set of ideas; you can click the buttons and come up with a story line that suits your fancy. Much like WriterIgniter, a site I’ve used before.

Just for fun I clicked the buttons and this is what I came up with:
MC: A young man in his late teens who is very wise
2nd character: A woman in her late thirties who is very lively
Setting: The story begins in a nursing home.
Situation: something precious has been lost
Theme: It’s a story about justice
Character action: MC reluctantly becomes involved

This combination called to mind a real happening, back when I worked in a seniors’ home. Something precious really did go missing. I don’t know if the truth was ever revealed, so I’ll have to fake it. Stay tuned for my tale — with details changed to protect the guilty. 🙂

The Daily Post also has a free e-book of writing prompts that can be downloaded as a pdf. Get it HERE.

When I go to Amazon.ca and do a Writing Prompts search, again I’m bowled over by the 84 pages of books containing writing prompts — and I see a lot of these are “Read Free with Kindle Unlimited.”

The down-side of picking a prompt at random instead of using a central source like Daily Post Prompts is lack of the sense of community. You’re on your own; there aren’t hundreds of people using the same word or photo. For those of you currently connecting via the Daily Post will you miss this? Will you try another community like The Write Practice (link in side bar) or one of the various Flash Fiction groups going?

And for anyone reading this post, what writing prompts sources have you found useful?

Lost Ideas

ideas trickle
through my mind and shatter
a tap’s steady drip

Good morning everyone.

I’m happy to say that since Wed evening my back pain has lessened and I’m able to walk upright now. Something, usually taken for granted, for which I am really thankful this morning! I’ve found the exercise sheets from past physio-therapy and intend to develop a new habit: taking proper care of the muscles that hold me up.

We’ve also had a nice rain over our land lately, needed and appreciated by all. It does look like summer in our yard. Bob put up a block of wood, hammered in a nail and impaled an orange, so we now have a proper oriole feeder. We can watch them from our dining room window. A flicker has discovered that our internet “dish” makes a satisfying rat-tat-tat and is working on his timing as I write this.

Last weekend, a long weekend here in Canada, I saw folks hauling boats to Diefenbaker Lake, not so far away. I imagine with today being warm and sunny, folks will be out boating, fishing barbecuing. 🙂

The haiku above describes the general state of the human mind, with many thoughts slipping through but few caught and used. My mind seems very much that way, but who can actually compare?

I’m dismayed this morning because I can’t find my cell phone. I’m sure I had it here at my desk yesterday, doing some “housecleaning” in my g-mail, but now can’t find it anywhere. So if you’ve been trying to call or text and I haven’t replied, sorry about that.

I tried phoning myself but by now the battery has come to the end of its oomph — and so far no one has put a locator buzzer on a cell phone. Some technological whiz should get on that! Granted, it won’t do much good when you’re out and about, but for situations like this, and people like me… Or would it not work if the phone battery is dead?

Thinking of haiku, and ideas slipping away, I was scheduling a verse this morning Tree Top Haiku, to be posted tomorrow — then forgot and hit Publish. Now there are two posts back to back.  Here’s the second verse I composed while thinking back to my own mud-pie-baking childhood:
sidewalk baker
stirs in pine cones and pebbles
fresh mud pies for sale

However you’re spending this weekend, I wish you all health and safety. Thanks everyone, for dropping in and reading this post.

I want to say a special thank-you to poet Judy Dykstra-Brown, who’s kindly agreed to critique some stories for my upcoming e-book of flash fiction. I’ve been compiling it this week, seeing as a lot sitting was in the daily programme. Once I have it registered and get an ISBN, I’ll post a picture of the front cover.

PS:
Oh, JOY! Cell phone found.
It seems to have slipped down between the seats in the car on the way home after I visited a friend yesterday.

Blogging: Using Categories and Tags

Some time ago I started dropping in on First Friday to meet and greet a few new bloggers. A lot of them are just learning the ropes and open to a little guidance, so I often leave some advice about categories and tags. I’m posting this here today in case these thoughts may help some other newbies and maybe some longtime bloggers who haven’t attached much importance to this angle.

Categories & Tags

…are very useful creatures. You can create them as you publish each post, using the sidebar on the right. Tagging our posts is how we invite other bloggers to check out what we’ve written. For example, if I create a Personal, or an Education, category or tag for my post, it will send my post title and a couple of lines to the Reader. Other bloggers searching for posts on Personal or Education will see mine listed and hopefully come and read what I’ve written.

Note:
WordPress says they allow only fifteen C’s & T’s per post. If there are more, their SPAM detectors will boot the post off the Reader. Like coming to a beach party in tux and tails, golden cuff-links and a flashy silk tie.“Too much is overkill; go home and change.”

Some bloggers use C’s and T’s; some may use only one or the other. It’s up to you. Both go to the Reader. However, categories and tags also become, over time, your blog’s filing system. I wish I’d understood better how they work when I started blogging. In fact, I started a brand new site last year and am slowly reposting all my writing so I can use Cs & Ts properly for each item.

For my own blog, I use Categories as the drawers of my filing cabinet. The big sections: Poetry or Fiction. Then the tags are like files within the drawer. Under Poetry you’ll find tags like: Nature, Seasons, Children, Inspiration, etc. Under the Fiction category you’ll find tags like Travel, Truth, Children, Relationships, etc

Among the Widgets there’s one bloggers can install that puts a list of Categories on your blog’s front page. You can put them in your top menu as I’ve done on this blog, or you can display them in your sidebar. Another option is to install the widget that gives you a Tag Cloud. You can choose how many tags will display.

To each his own, but in my opinion it’s better to limit the number displayed, or choose “Display as a drop-down list,” rather than having a list of seventy-five categories running down your Home Page sidebar. Generally speaking, try to make things as simple as possible for your visitors.

Be selective when choosing C’s & T’s. Pick something pertinent to your post, topics people are actually going to be looking for. “Aunt Sue” may be an intriguing person, but not a very compelling tag for someone who doesn’t even know who YOU are. Ditto with Flowers or My trip. Titling your post Cheap Vacation Spots and tagging it Travel, Adventure, River rafting, Timbuktu would be far more apt to draw visitors than Vacation. The specific English language tag will draw readers more than the general Grammar. For more ideas on what Categories and Tags to choose, check out the Reader:

One Sour Note:
When I first started blogging the tags were much simpler: Articles, Opinions, Home, Family, Religion, Books, etc. Thankfully these tags still show up, but one sad thing I’ve seen in recent years is some sites creating tags with their own (usually advertising) posts. So you get a tag relevant only to purchasers of, say, women’s t-shirts. As one example, right now I see a tag: Baby Bodysuit Designs. It appears that one site selling some of these outfits has published almost 3000 posts — most of them TODAY! Sigh.

Uncategorized Posts

I often see posts listed as Uncategorized. I consider this the waste of a perfectly good tag. Like dropping a luscious ice cream cone in a puddle.

Uncategorized is the default setting that comes with every new blog. It tells no one anything about your post. My advice: get rid of it.

A blogger can change their default by going to the left hand sidebar and selecting Settings. Next you see a screen where, across the center at top are four words:
General, Writing, Discussion, Traffic. Click on Writing
The first line under writing is for Categories. You’ll see how many you have and what the Default is.
Click on the arrow at right. Now you get to add more categories and also change the default to something that better suits your blog’s general theme. I’ve chosen Reflections.
If there’s a Save Changes button somewhere on the screen, hit it. You should be good to go.

And now I shall use as many pertinent categories and tags as possible, and hit publish. 🙂