Love for Exploring + Zest for Discovery

It hits me every now and then, this urge to go wandering. I check out a blog post, which leads me to another, then another. Hop, hop, hop. Usually leads to the joy of discovery.

Come hop, hop, hop with me now as I comment on the discoveries I’ve made:

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge today is LOVE. A great word, easy to write about. A heartening and wondrous word — but we’ve cheapened it, I fear. I recall some dear old grandmas warning about this. “Love is for living things,” they said. “Not for inanimate objects.”

When one teen was enthusing about something she really liked, saying, I just LOVE this —” a wise old grandma told her:

“Love something that can love you back.”

Love is a serious thing, a precious word not to be tossed around  and tarnished. We don’t really LOVE clothes, a car or a house. We don’t LOVE writing or running exploring. We love PEOPLE. So my title is misleading. But I ENJOY exploring, checking out other bloggers’ work.

Ragtag’s daily prompt word is ZEST. Merriam Webster defines it as:
: a piece of the peel of a citrus fruit (such as an orange or lemon) used as flavoring
2 : an enjoyably exciting quality : piquancy
3 : keen enjoyment : relish, gusto; a zest for living

P.S.: If you find big words enjoyable and exciting, their Word of the Day is ORGULOUS. And if you toss it into casual conversation, people will think you are orgulous.

As I said at the start, once in awhile I get this excitement, this urge, to explore, instead of ABIDING (Word of the Day’s prompt) here at home.

I popped over to one blog and saw a listing of a dozen different blog awards. One of them was ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD. Curious, I Googled “One Lovely Blog Award.” Up popped ten pages of posts from people who wrote about — usually because they’d received — this award.

I checked out a few for curiosity  and landed on the Fractured Faith blog, done by Stephen & Fionnuala Black, a couple from Northern Ireland. I’ve seen their lovely icon before, as they’ve liked some of my posts. On their Home Page, in the list of their recent posts, I saw this unique Flash Fiction Challenge. An imaginative way to nudge the old muse. I don’t LOVE, but I really LIKE, your idea and am doing a pingback to your challenge. 😉

I’ve found the odd receipt but my imagination was dozing at those moments. I never derived a tale from my find like you did. I did find a wallet once — actually saw it fall out of the man’s pocket as he exited his car. I hurried over, scooped it up and located the man in a nearby store. When he discovered his loss, and saw it in my hands, he gave me a big hug. Definitely worth it. Loved the hug.

I think you can love a hug — even from a complete stranger. 😉

And now back at home, I shall abide awhile by my hallway window to watch the hummers. They may not be able to love us back but I believe they’re as thankful as their tiny brains can be for syrup provided. Then my hands had best abide in meal preparation, as it’s almost dinner time. 🙂

Free Food Always Draws A Crowd

Fandango’s word prompt : TREAT
Word of the Day prompt: BLOSSOM

What goes around comes around they say. If you treat something well, you’re generally treated to some interesting reactions. Around here we treat the hummingbirds well and they in turn treat us to amusing aerial displays.

I was treated to one at 6am this morning. I looked out our hall window to see if the three little hummers we’ve seen buzzing around were at the feeder. And I saw…wait a minute! There are four…no five!…buzzing around the feeder, getting in each other’s hair. Non-stop motion.

Have you ever tried counting hummingbirds while they’re darting up, down, and sideways trying to chase each other away from the food dish? I did manage to count six…and later I thought I saw a seventh hovering around. I did see four feeding at one time, but in a minute one would decide the place was too crowded and someone else had to leave. Right now. I can’t imagine how many calories they burned up just fussing at each other.

Their wings stirred up the air so much they ruffled the petals on the nearby hanging planter. A basket of petunias and some other smaller flowers hangs only about a metre away from the feeder and hummers harvest nectar from those blossoms, too. I try to choose flowers they’ll like but today’s hybrids don’t seem as juice-full as flowers used to be.

Unfortunately our feeder attracts wasps, too. They don’t get active until the sky is lighter but there seems to be one wasp that thinks this is HIS dinner plate and he’ll chase the hummingbirds away. He can’t be on both sides of the feeder at once, though, so the hummers will grab slurps from the other side while the wasp is nosing into the hole, trying to get his own swig.

I’m so thankful our air quality has improved overnight. For the last several days we’re had a smoky haze from fires in northern Alberta and BC; yesterday it was like a gray fog hanging over the land in spite of the high wind. The smell of smoke smell permeated everything; I even smelled it while sitting here in our office.

This morning another treat for me was turning on the computer and going through the collection of incoming e-mails from WordPress. I enjoyed reading new posts from other bloggers as well as comments on my posts. I wish I had more time to post the thoughts that pop into my head as I read, and to follow more faithfully, but there never seems to be time and I have priorities I must observe. Chronic problems for all of us! Plus, I sometimes get to following one track. Speaking of which…

I see Tree Top Haiku has another follower — and I am going to start posting there again. I have so many little verses scribbled on scraps here and there. I’ve considered just posting them all on this blog, but how many of my readers would like that? My husband once told me that haiku is in a class all its own and I definitely agreed, so I started Tree Top Haiku. Now I’d best end this chronic indecision and stick to that plan. 🙂

Once you start seeing and thinking in haiku, you see so many wherever you look. I even came up with one as I watched my hummingbirds. I’ve made it into a challenge: two lines are provided and you can suggest an ending if you like. If you’re interested, CLICK HERE.

On Wednesday we went to Saskatoon to do some shopping and I bought a second-hand Toshiba Tecra laptop. Bob is enthused about the speed (3 GHz) and has been checking out its capabilities (loaded with Windows 10.) I want to try doing some, too, but I was occupied with cooking some meals at the Villa (seniors’ residence) last week. No shifts this week, so I can try it out, too. It will be a treat to sit in the recliner and read my incoming e-mails. 🙂

Hope you’re all having a good weekend and enjoying this last month of summer.

E-zine Haiku Competition

Following a link today, I discovered a new online magazine, Vita Brevis . For those of you who are interested in Haiku, the editor is hosting a four-day haiku competition, ending Monday night, Aug 13th.

Anyone can leave one haiku verse in the comments. Read the complete details here: Comment-a-Haiku Poetry Competition

Nature is the theme so I dug into my archives and pulled up a few that could work. I considered this one, but it’s not very aesthetic so I won’t offer it for the contest. You can read it and give a Thumbs-up or Thumbs-down.

beside the highway
three ravens process
yesterday’s mad rush

Or how about:

the zoo animals
watch the humans play

amusing monkeys

🙂
It’s probably been done before.

Finish the Story: Part 2

Another Wordsmith has handed me the challenge of writing Part 2 of the story she’s started. Read Part 1 HERE. So I took up my pen this morning and will post both parts.

With this disclaimer:
I like a writing challenge and accepted for that reason, but in truth I know little about this subject. Most of what I know about actress-wannabes comes from the song, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose? This song is sung from the perspective of a woman who has come to her senses and is heading home, leaving the broken dreams of Hollywood behind.

I’m tagging fellow blogger & fiction writer, Linda, to write Part Three of this possibly sad or possibly route-to-fame tale.

Here are the RULES —

  1. Copy the story below as it appears when you receive it (and the rules please)
  2. Add somehow to the story in which ever style and length you choose
  3. Tag only 1 person
  4. If you choose to not participate or finish the story, please comment/tag this post so that I know.

And here’s the STORY —

Casey Ann wanted to be an actress from the first time she saw Elizabeth Taylor, Vivian Leigh, and Greta Garbo on the big screen. Every Saturday was spent at the kiddie show with Rin Tin Tin and the Lone Ranger, then she would hide in a little closet in the back of the theater until the adult shows began.

Her parents never asked where she was for hours on end. Their motto was, “Children were better when they were invisible.” So, she learned how to be invisible. She secretly put on plays in the woods behind her house and practiced facial expressions in the mirror as often as she could.

The day she turned eighteen, she bought a one-way ticket to Hollywood. As soon as she stepped off the Trailways…

PART TWO:
…she looked around the bustling terminal and wondered, “What do I go now?” Followed by, “What am I doing here, anyway?” And, “Where will I live?” The questions stunned her for a moment.

She took a deep breath and headed for the café she saw across the street. She still had enough money for a few lunches and one night in a cheap motel room, but she needed to see about getting a job. Everything would fall into place as soon as she signed a contract.

Casey slid onto a stool at the counter and a waitress about her mother’s age came to take her order. She asked for a pop for starters. When the waitress brought her drink, Casey asked, “How do I get to the MGM studio from here?”

The waitress rolled her eyes and nudged another waitress rushing by. “Hey, Jean. Another one.” She turned back to Casey. “I hope you’ve bought a return ticket, dear. This is a tough place to get started. Every day dozens of sweet young things get off those buses, dreaming of fame and fortune. The sharks soon chew them up, spit them out and leave them bleeding.”

Casey gasped. Jean, passing again, saw how shocked Casey looked and stopped. “I was one of them, too,” she told the young girl. But I’ve survived.” She winked, then grabbed several bottles of pop from the cooler.

Casey looked around the busy restaurant, the waitresses run off their feet. Survival, yes, but… she wanted so much more from life than this. Jean leaned toward her and whispered, “I still haven’t lost my dream. Listen, why don’t you…

 

Linda has written Part Three here.

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.

Fireworks.pink cropped

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. 🙂

Faces.jpg

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.

Birthday cake.rainbow.jpg

Fire + Verse

As Alan Summers, a.k.a. haikutec, so helpfully informed us on my post about haiku, August 15th is the deadline for submissions to the next issue of Cattails, the online journal of the United Haiku and Tanka Society.

The community of haiku enthusiasts had produced a number of societies and journals: Cattails; Troutswirl; The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku

Yesterday I was looking through various haiku I’ve written to see which might be suitable and I came to a sad conclusion: I can’t tell the difference between a verse that is good and one I only think is good because I wrote it. 🙂 I write scads of haiku, but which ones to submit is a whole ‘nother decision.

Anyway, here’s one I concocted yesterday on the way home from work. Seeing the sun so sickly, a pale pink-coral overlaid with a hint of grey, calls out the muse in me. Smoke in the atmosphere does something to the sun you just have to see for yourself.

I’m so thankful this is all we see. It would break my heart to see miles of forest ablaze, to see first-hand the suffering and death of the woodland community. Anyway, here’s my haiku, good or bad, and a verse I wrote another time when our skies were overcast with smoke.

sun’s fire smothered
in a smoky haze
weep, rain, weep!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heavy air smells of burning;
mighty forest fires rage,
send smoke signals wafting
across the province for days.

The animals, the birds, the trees;
my eyes water in sympathy
at their last mute cry for help
as they perish in flames.

Have mercy, Lord, on Your creation;
send them buckets of rain. Torrents.
But, please, no lightening.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My response to today’s Ragtag prompt:
COMMUNITY

Rainstorm Passes Through

I  think this will fit with Fandango’s writing prompt this morning, which is COMMOTION.

Dark clouds and lightening on western horizon when we went to bed last night; the storm system crept closer in the wee hours. By 4 am the thunder was booming over our heads, plus the sound of pouring rain. After weeks of almost nothing we received almost an inch on Tuesday night and I’m sure our rain gauge will show as much again this morning. (We may be almost all metric here in Canada, but folks hereabouts still measure rain in inches — though Environment Canada gives stats in millimetres.)

I couldn’t sleep through all the noise so I got up around 4:30 am and humored the cats with a snack. Then I then checked my incoming g-mail. Passed by the hallway window at 5:20 am; in the faint light of dawn I noticed a young hummingbird at the feeder. The early bird gets the juice and all that. Twenty minutes later I saw two of the three juveniles we often see zipping around, both trying to get a share of the banquet.

We have the feeder hung about three meters from the hallway window so we can observe them. Trouble is, they’re at the feeder so often these days we can hardly go down our hallway without scaring one or the other away. Also, I’m convinced as I watch them interacting that these young squirts burn most of their calories keeping each other away from the syrup.
Hummingbird
They’re curious little creatures, too. One morning I was standing out on the steps at the front door and a hummer whizzed up to about a metre away and just hovered there a couple of moments examining me. Bird watching, reverse version.