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

The Adaptable Brew

FOR THE LOVE OF A BEAN

In morning mist of history, someone invented a pot.

Somewhat later one of these pots, full of boiling water, sat over someone’s cooking fire and they decided to toss in some dried berries they found on a bush. And when they took a slurp of the dark, dark water covering the beans, they thought, “Hmm… I kind of like that!” Someone soon thought of crushing the beans to release more of this appealing flavor. And the rest is history.

After years of boiling the crushed beans in a pot some clever soul saw the potential for improvement by putting these grounds in a bag and pouring boiling water over them. His idea caught on; folks did like the taste better.

Some years later another inventive person thought of a longer, skinnier pot with a spout for pouring, a metal basket like a sieve to hold the beans above the water, and a pipe that would pump boiling water up and over the beans. This “coffee percolator” went over well.

While percolators were bubbling merrily on stoves all across the world, other innovative people were at work with wires, metal drums, dams and windmills — testing, adapting. Finally lights went on all across the land and homes were wired for electricity. Some manufacturer of coffee percolators saw and opportunity and invented a stove-less coffee perk.

People developed more refined tastes. The idea of water washing repeatedly over the coffee fell into disfavor. Innovative designers produced an appliance where the water dripped down over the grounds only once. This new drip coffee-maker went over big time.

Electronics were added a clock so the user could programme when the machine would start to drip. Presto! Fresh coffee in the morning. Consumers were delighted with this innovation.

Someone else, in an attempt to satisfy the world’s need for speed and convenience, thought of putting the coffee grounds into small pods — then designed a machine that would hold an individual pod and drip water over it, to produce a single cup of coffee.

Innovation didn’t stop there. Someone else adapted the idea by adding a reservoir to hold water and a heating chamber to heat enough water for each cup. An electronic panel lets users select the amount of water that passed through the pod, and the speed, which affected the strength of the brew.

Our daughter found one of these marvelous inventions on Kijiji some months ago and presented it to us as a just-for-anyhow present. So we’re up with the latest; my morning cup of coffee sits here beside me as I type this. And I see a bug has landed in it. Grrr…! Guess you can’t fix every glitch. 😦

As I write these words, more adaptations are being tested in laboratories around the world. Ideas to make brewing our favorite beverage even more convenient. Who knows when the next clever innovation will appear in the market place?

Alas! If this process continues, I fear the day may come when I can’t figure out how to operate a coffee maker and have to become a tea granny like my Mom.

Disclaimer:
The writer makes no claims as to the historical accuracy of this article. 😉

Daily Addictions prompt: INNOVATION

FOWC with Fandango: PRESENT

Word of the Day challenge: POTENTIAL

The Sweet Life, Thanks To…

…A LOT OF CLEVER PEOPLE!

Good morning everyone. I’ve evicted Pookie from my office chair and taken his place to write a few lines in response to our daily prompt words. Since he’s notorious for jumping back into my chair again the moment I leave the room, I’d best stay put until I finish.

I was awake around 3:30 am this morning — at Pookie’s insistence — and staggered to the door to let him out. Most folks are unwilling to cope with a cat getting them up in the wee hours and I shouldn’t have to, either. New management aim: cats out at 11pm. They can embrace the night with all its wonders, like the scurrying of tiny critter feet. (I’ve observed that they love embracing tiny critter feet et al.)

Anyway, the sun was up already, just starting its long journey across our prairie sky, and the internet is always live, so I took a peek at a couple of sites offering one-word writing prompts for today. Fandango’s word in particular, kudos, opens up a lot of possibilities! My mind circled around the thought for a few minutes as I crawled back under the covers, then I zonked out for the rest of the night.

At a decent hour I got up again and made my way to the bathroom. Kudos to the inventors of indoor plumbing, shower heads, and toilet paper. (How many of you remember the old outhouse with tissue supplied by various mail-order companies? I do, and infinitely prefer the indulgence of today’s softer replacement.)

My thanks to whoever invented the spinning wheel and decided to try spinning cotton into a thread. (I think Eli Whitney fits in here somewhere.) I’m quite thankful to see the end of wool undies and stockings! Speaking of decent undergarments — bless your dear hearts, Wonderbra, Maidenform and other companies that have given us the comfort and support we ladies enjoy today. My mom told me once that all they had in her youth were home-sewed cotton bras that gave neither. And corsets have been abandoned. My undying gratitude for that!

Throw in a heap of accolades to the person who invented polyester. My lightweight dress for today is all cotton, but I’m thankful for all our poly-cotton dresses and shirts that don’t need to be ironed.

Which brings me to knits. Weaving threads into fabric is fairly self-evident, though looms were a real boost in their day. But I’ve wondered different times, whoever had the brilliant idea of winding threads around two sticks and looping them around somehow to create a fabric. Being a knitter myself, I can imagine how much trial and error that would have involved? That person likely got a lot of criticism for fiddling around and wasting time.

From simple home knitted garments, some brave soul went on to inventing a knitting machine, which now give us our T-shirts, sweaters, sportswear, and fleeces. Kudos also to Whitcomb L. Judson, an American inventor from Chicago who invented the interlocking mechanical teeth and constructed a workable zipper.

I wander into the kitchen and take my morning thyroid pill, which I’ve taken steadily for the past twenty-five years or so. Where would I be without that? We visited with a young couple on Sunday and the husband was telling us he’d come through a rough time when his arms swelled up, the muscles in his legs cramped painfully, he was cold, his hair was falling out. His doctor ran tests and discovered his body was really low on thyroid hormone. He started taking synthetic thyroid pills and his symptoms all cleared up in rapid time.

When I think of all the heath issues I’ve faced, I give thanks for the wonders of science and medicine that have combined to keep me alive so I can enjoy this morning. Antibiotics, anesthetics and surgeries, chemotherapy. Kudos to the inventor of multi-vitamin pills, too, which give so many people all over the world a healthier life. And could do so much more in poorer countries, if only funds were available to purchase them.

Now, with one last word of thanks to today’s Word-Prompters, I’ll end this session of awarding kudos. Have a great day everyone.

Daily Addiction : COPE
Fandango :  KUDOS
Ragtag community: INDUGENCE
Word of the day challenge : NOTORIOUS
Your daily word prompt :  EMBRACE
houseofbailey  : NATIVE

Lessons of Hope and Light

A Collection of Inspirational Short Stories by Marlo Berliner

Lately I’ve been preparing a second book of poems and short stories myself so, with the thought of checking out what sort of books are already out there, I borrowed this one through Kindle Unlimited and enjoyed it enough that I want to recommend it to you.

Lessons of Hope and Light has only three stories, all short and easy to read — took me about twenty  minutes. The first is about finding the silver lining in life’s clouds; the next is a religious parable of sorts, the third tells of an intriguing second chance. Practical, upbeat endings such as I like.

Of Internet and E-mail Issues

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband has switched internet providers. This involved a change of e-mail addresses, which has now been effected. While everything was in upheaval I decided that I’d set up another g-mail account, so as to have one for personal and one for WordPress mail.

Once we had our new service hooked up, I set up an e-mail through that provider, too. And our Xplornet account hasn’t been cancelled yet — so I now have FOUR e-mail addresses. 🙂

I’ve opted to use one g-mail for various sale ads and FREE BOOK stuff: Book Bub, Book Sweeps; Book Cave; Book Gobbler, InstaFreebie, Reading Deals.com. You may wonder why on earth I’m subscribed to so many, but if and when I have more books to promote, I hope to use one or two of these author services. Some are obviously better than others for my kind of writing. So I’ll call it Research, but it gives lots of e-mail I don’t need filling my personal In-box.

I really do like the “everything in its own section” idea. WordPress and other blogging-related stuff, with the many notifications, are coming to the other g-mail account, which frees up my new e-mail In-box for personal mail. I’m getting a handle on managing this three-way split and hope I haven’t missed anything really important in the last few days.

Otherwise, we’re enjoying our beautiful summer days. For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you are, too. Have a great day — or evening, if you’re in Europe. 🙂

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.

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.

“You Have Won A Free Trip”

This is an old news item, but hope it gives you a smile this morning:

An Iowa farmer received a suspicious phone call one morning—from his own cell phone.

A few hours earlier he’d been sorting hogs to take to market that day. During the process he took a few minutes to call the house and check if there were any messages for him on his answering machine. After getting the message, he stuck his cell phone back in the top pocket of his bib overalls and went back into the pig pen to continue his task.

The phone must have fallen out of his pocket and into the pen as he climbed over one of the fences. Later, when he was back in the house his phone rang. He said, “Hello?” and voices at the other end said, “Grunt, grunt, squeal, squeal, snort!”

Evidently his hogs had found the cell phone and managed to hit REDIAL. They say pigs are really quite intelligent creatures. Maybe they were complaining about the conditions in their pen, squealing on on unruly pals, or ordering in more chow?

But the farmer interpreted the message as:
“You have won a free trip to the barn, followed by a lively treasure hunt.”