The Journey of a Blog

From 0 to 2000 Followers

I’ve had one eye on my stats lately, watching the number of Followers slowly creeping up to 2000. I wanted to mark the occasion but while I was busy with other things this week, my newest followers vaulted over the magic number. Still, here’s my planned celebration and a few historical notes.

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2000+ Party

I’m Too Tech-Dense to Blog!

Back in January of 2012 a friend and fellow writer was talking about her blog, and the usefulness of blogs in general as a platform for one’s writing. I already had a website, set up by someone who knew what they were doing, and was enjoying posting on it. But I told my friend, “I could never BLOG. Not me! I could never figure out all that tech stuff.”

She said, “Blogging isn’t hard at all.”

And I said, “Well… Okay. Tell me how and I’ll try setting one up. If I can manage it with my limited technical smarts, anyone can.”

So she rattled off instructions, I wrote them down, I came home and started my blog. And it actually WASN’T hard. And now, 6 ½ years later, over 2000 readers have clicked my Follow button. Who’d’a thunk it!

I’m thankful for all those votes of confidence, and I really appreciate those of you who have stayed, liked my posts, left comments, and helped me to become a more dedicated writer. To those of you who make up my readership today, thanks so much and bless your dear hearts. 🙂

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Through the years I’ve learned a lot about blogging. Here are some things I wished I’d known when I started out:

#1. For my first blog address I picked christineevelynvance, which made a too-long web address. It’s getting tough to find short-and-simple names; the easy ones were taken by bloggers years ago. And so many wannabes only posted once or twice, then quit. But newcomers who choose themotherofjosephsabrinaandcrystal or theavidreaderofhistoricalromances as their web address aren’t doing themselves any favours. Fine for a blog title, but for a web address, stay as simple as possible. Be creative if necessary. I called my last blog “Waverations.” Simple; easy to remember.

My second blog, set up to divide my longer prose from short anecdotes and poetry, was “Swallow in the Wind.” In time I merged it with my first. My third blog was “Tree Top Haiku”, which is still going — when I get over there. After trying to keep up with three blogs for awhile, I saw the error of my ways.

#2. You don’t need a separate blog for every genre. Keeping up several blogs can be mega-stress. (Plus I got leukemia, so was dealing with that for several years.) My first blog fell by the wayside and I started “Christine’s Reflections”, with my domain name as the address. Two years ago I renamed my first blog “Friday Tales” and posted flash fiction when I was doing the Friday Fictioneers challenges.

Waverations I set up as a private site to try out new themes without messing up the look of my active blogs. It has morphed into this one. I applied my domain name to this and had the folks at WordPress beam the Friday Tales and Christine’s Reflections subscribers this way.

#3. Use proper categories and tags from day one. A subject all its own — I’ve written about it HERE — and the reason why I felt the need to start over from scratch. Now I’m in the slow process of reblogging all those past posts into this blog. Tree Top Haiku will stay as is.

Over the years I’ve tried to “share the love” by letting my readers know about other great blogs and posts. I could — and plan to — do more of this. Which is why I got enthused about the new “From the Heart” blogging award. You can tell your readers about other interesting sites without putting any obligations on those bloggers. (In fact, my brain is concocting another idea along these lines as I’m writing this. 😉 )

Since I started out, my husband has also gotten enthused and now has his own blogs, one in English and one in French.

And now…here’s my virtual Happy 2000 cake. Cut yourself a piece (it’s zero-calorie, no preservatives 🙂 ) and celebrate with me.

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A Fellow Who Brightened His Corner

Back in the 1960s a man named Jimmy Hamilton was going about his small region of Scotland doing good. He was travelling miles every week to make his rounds of nine hospitals, spreading sunshine. He’d go through the wards, taking a few minutes to stop and chat at the bedsides of those who seemed to need a visit. And folks blessed him for it.

He began this interesting “hobby” after he, as a young man, had to spend some time in a local hospital himself. While there he realized what a lonely place a hospital can be, especially for those with no close kin to pop in and see them, and he resolved to do something to what he could to cheer up a few of these folks. After he was discharged he began coming back as a visitor.

Thus his little mission started in a small way, but soon grew as he visited various hospitals in Motherwell, his own home. Jimmy was a ray of hope: he’d sit by a patient’s bed; show a kind interest in the folks; share little stories to make them smile again. His visits were so effective that surgeons would send for him to visit a depressed patient.

When he first began he made use of the local buses. However, as years went on he expanded his efforts to other hospitals farther and farther away. The many grateful recipients and their families clubbed together to help him with this; they bought him a special car so he could go even farther.

Perhaps Jimmy had a special inroad with folks who feel there’s no hope, for he himself was seriously handicapped. As a boy of three he lost both his legs in a railway accident. When he talked to other patients folks about courage and healing, they knew he’d been there, done that himself. When in despair they felt their useful days were past, Jimmy’s example of finding a small corner and filling it cheerfully was a quiet rebuttal.

Someone may say, “It seems my life has no purpose.” Rest assured, there’s a little task for each of us, something useful we can do for others that will boomerang and cheer us up, too.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. Jimmy has proved it.
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Story taken from an account in THE FRIENDSHIP BOOK of Francis Gay, 1969 Edition

“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

Do You Know Your Neighbor

by H Howard Biggar

Do you know the neighbor who lives on your block;
do you ever take time for a bit of talk?
Do you know his troubles, his heartaches, his cares;
the battle he’s fighting, the burdens he bears?

Do you greet him with joy, or pass him right by
with a questioning look and a quizzical eye?
Do you bid him “Good Morning” and “How do you do,”
or shrug as if  he were nothing to you?

He may be a chap with a mighty big heart;
and a welcome that grips, if you’d just do your part,
and I know you will coax out his sunniest smile
if you’ll stop with this neighbor and visit awhile.

We rush on so fast in these strenuous days,
we’re apt to find fault when it’s better to praise.
We judge a man’s worth by the make of his car;
we’re anxious to learn what his politics are.

But somehow it seldom gets under the hide,
the fact that the fellow we’re living beside
Is a fellow like us, with a hankering too,
for a grip of the hand and a “How do you do!”

Note about the author:
Harvey Howard Biggar (1886 – 1965),  was born in SD and died in Chicago, IL. He was an agronomist, an instructor in agriculture, and a poet.

Books: Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

I downloaded an e-book from the local lending library a couple of days ago and read it yesterday evening. Now I want to tell you about it because I thought it was a really neat novella and well worth reading.

The title: Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine
Book #13 in the Isabel Dalhousie series

© 2016 by Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher: Penguin Random House

This is a unique story about ethics.

Isabel Dalhousie, a young wife in Edinburgh, owner and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics meets a friend at an art previewing prior next week’s auction. As they visit and look around at the upcoming sale items, Roz draws Isabel’s attention to one picture. She shares a bit of vital information about its value — and extracts from Isabel the promise that she’ll not tell a soul. Since the auctioneer obviously doesn’t realize the painting’s true worth, Roz plans to get it for a song, resell it, and make a small fortune.

The story’s maybe a bit wordy in places as Isabel muses over the ethics of this and other sticky situations she encounters during the week. She tries to sort out what she should do, if anything, with the help — or dissuasion — of her husband. He calls her his “sweet, thoughtful valentine” and wishes she would stay out of other people’s problems.

The art drama intensifies when she meets another friend by chance one day. Ruth’s in a financial bind, having to sell her home, also her mother’s belongs, to pay for her mother’s stay in a nursing home where she’s getting really good care. Ruth has sent a few of her mother’s paintings to an upcoming art sale. They likely won’t bring much, but…

The awful truth dawns — and Isabel is really in the treacle.

The writer has done a great job of squeezing poor Isabel between a rock and a hard place, between one friend and another, between promise and conscience. Will she practice the ethics she preaches or mind her own business? I found the solution intriguing  and unexpected.

This author has also written the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, the 44 Scotland Street Series and the Portuguese Irregular Verbs Series and others.

As We Grow Older

Not knowing who wrote the poem I posted yesterday, I meant to put “Author Unknown” at the bottom. This morning I’ve corrected that little omission, also searched for the first line to see if Mr Google could help me out again.

I discovered another version — I’m thinking this is probably the original. And a sobering thought for a Sunday morning.

As We Grow Older

A little more tired at the close of the day;
a little less anxious to have our own way;
a little less ready to scold and blame;
a little more care of a brother’s name;
and so we are nearing the journey’s end,
where time and eternity meet and blend.
And so we are faring a-down the way
that leads to the gates of a better way
A little more laughter, a few more tears,
and we shall have told our increasing years.
The book is closed and the prayers are said,
and we are part of the countless dead.
and so we are going where all must go,
to the place the living may never know.
Thrice happy if then some soul can say,
I’m better because he passed my way.

Rollin J Wells

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ROLLIN J. WELLS, of the Wells & Blackman law firm,
Sioux Falls, SD, was born 1848 in IL; died 1923 in Sioux Falls.