Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31, 1986

Today is our anniversary, not the day Paul and I were married but the anniversary of our first date.

I suppose everyone remembers their first date. I remember it better than the day we were married. It happened 14 years after the first time Paul asked me out, an invitation then that was really made in fun, to tease the 16-year-old girl that I was at the time.

The invitation this time was for real. He called early in the week for a Friday date. I was so excited and so nervous. He was 10 years older. I had never dated an older man, and I was sure he would find me silly and unsophisticated. I was 30 years old, hardly the high school girl I was back then, but I still felt like her that week. I agonized all week about what to wear.

He picked me up and took me to dinner at a restaurant he knew well. A nice steakhouse I had never been to. He saw people he knew and introduced me. I smiled and said hello.....did I look as nervous as I felt?

I remember what I wore. I remember what he wore. I remember what I ate. I remember what we talked about during dinner and the ride back to my house. I remember sitting in my living room and talking for hours as Paul told me stories that made me laugh.

Most striking in my memory is that I remember how he smelled. So wonderful, I wondered, Is that cologne or just how Paul smells? The next day while I was out shopping I smelled that same scent. My head spun around expecting to see him. It was just another man who had walked by. I guess it was cologne. Paul hasn't worn it in years but even today if I get a whiff of it somewhere, it makes me smile and remember that first date.

Six months from the day of that first date, Paul and I bought the house we still live in. Six months after that, we got married. And the story continues.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Quality of Character

There's been a lot said over the last week about quality and content of blogs. Hopefully we have all agreed that quality and content mean different things to different people. I don't need to go over what those of us at WOW hope to see our tribe and WOW become.

What I want to share are my thoughts about another kind of quality.....quality of character. And remember, I never promised not to write about family occasionally, so here we go.

Pam wrote a very interesting post about her daughter Katie the other day. For anyone who hasn't caught on, Pam and I are related. Katie is Paul's and my granddaughter.

Throughout high school, Katie has been involved in several organizations geared towards business and preparing students for a career in business, and she has done well. I'm not going to rewrite Pam's post but I want to tell you about a fundraiser Paul and I attended last week to raise money for water filters in Cambodia. The fundraiser was held at Katie's high school, and she was responsible for its planning and presentation. Although admittedly a little biased, I cannot say enough about how well done this event was.

The event which was attended by about 150 people involved a catered meal, entertainment, raffles and a presentation about the program and organization that provides the water filters. Katie also emceed the event. Did I mention that Katie is 17 years old?

She often spends the weekend with Paul and me. There's not much that makes us happier than to have her call and ask, "Can I come stay this weekend?" Last December we were invited to a friend's house for a holiday party on one of those weekends. Katie came with us. As we introduced her to several people, all adults, she said hello, reached out and shook their hands. When was the last time you saw that?

Let me tell you, Katie is not a nerd (whatever that is, but you get my drift). She's a normal teenager with friends, goes to proms, dances and parties and who has gone through her own teen angst. But she is becoming a very interesting young woman.

At the party she sat with us in a group of adults and contributed to the conversation. She's usually quiet, not one of those kids who needs to be the center of attention, but she spoke when she had something to add to the conversation. She was involved, not one of those sullen teens who sits in the corner plugged into their iPod and texting.

So what was my point here? Even though I'd like to say Katie is one in a million (to us she is) I'm really saying hopefully she's not. I have met several of her friends, and they all seem to have similar talents and quality of character.

So despite being known to think or say "Kids these days!" I am feeling a little more encouraged that if these are the young people who are going to be in charge in the future, maybe we'll be okay after all.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Last Fire and a Cup of Coffee

The weather was so beautiful last weekend. Sunday the thermometer said 70. Not in the sun, actual air temp. Short sleeves, yard work, window washing weather.

Yesterday morning the thermometer said 22 degrees! That's just wrong. But it goes to prove who's in charge here, and it's not us. Mother Nature says we're not done with winter just yet. Or maybe it's just that she's not done with winter. This morning it was in the high 20's with a forecast for mid 40's this afternoon, so there's hope.

The Sunday morning ritual around here is coffee and the paper in front of a fire. Last weekend it looked like that was over for this winter. I almost cleaned out the fireplace this week but didn't. I must have had a premonition that there was one more fire left in the winter.

No one enjoys the fire more than Lucy. She likes her coffee, too. If we could only teach her to read.

A shameless plug here: If you haven't already visited Words of Wisdom, please go take a look.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WOW! Are We Excited

Did we hit a few nerves out there or what? In case you don’t know what I’m referring to, last weekend Pam of Pam’s Perspectives and I launched a new blog called Words of Wisdom……Join the Conversation. Our hope in starting this adventure is to create a place for bloggers who enjoy reading and writing posts with great content to find each other and to share.

As of this writing we have 40 followers which seems pretty good for only a couple days. I’ve been cruising around the blogosphere this week checking out the posts written about WOW and especially focusing on the comments left on those blogs. There have been two recurring themes among those comments.

One is that many of you are questioning whether you are what we are “looking for;” if you “qualify.” Again, I want to stress that we are NOT looking for “great” authors. Who or what is that anyway? A great author/writer means different things to different people.

This is similar to people I call “wine snobs.” People who like to say “this Chapeau due Smurf Pop was exquisite, and it was only $92 a bottle.” Okay, if you like it, great. But I ask, do you like it because it cost $92 a bottle or because you thought it tasted good? Hey, if I like a box of wine that costs 5 bucks, I’m good with that, and I have money left over for a pizza. But I digress.

To those of you who are asking if you are who we are looking for I say, follow our format, submit your posts and let’s see what happens. I can tell you that at WOW we definitely want people who have something to say. While we don’t mean to criticize or eliminate the occasional product review or meme, we are just hoping to appeal to those who write more with “great content” and definitely with less commercialism.

It’s difficult to sum that up in a few words. Pam did it well in her post last Saturday, when she said we are looking for people who write….“blog posts that make me think or sit up and take notice.” They can be funny or serious.

And secondly, we want to stress that in no way are we bashing "Mommy Bloggers." Pam was a SAHM for nearly 17 years. I don’t think anyone would categorize her as a "Mommy Blogger" but she certainly writes about her kids and family. Although I am not a mother, I write often about family. And I plan to continue writing about my family occasionally; sometimes in a serious way, sometimes not so serious.

Both Pam and I followed the particular blog people have mentioned and who, quite frankly, have taken some shots at. We both followed that blog for months and personally I can say I enjoyed the experience. I also found several blogs and bloggers there that I enjoy and continue to follow. WOW is just our way of branching off into something of our own that we thought (and now know) certain bloggers might be looking for.

So if you haven’t stopped by WOW, please do and let us know what you think.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Looking For a Few Good Bloggers

When I began blogging almost a year ago I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into. A blog?! That sounds like fun, why not? Who knew it would take over my life!

But in that year I have learned much about myself. The most important thing I have learned is that I like to write. Once I got over the 'stage fright' of writing and having strangers read my stuff, it really became fun and challenging to produce posts about family, travel and crazy dogs. So many of the comments I have received have been heartwarming and heartfelt.

I have also learned what kinds of blogs I enjoy reading most: blogs written by people who have something to say, something that gets me thinking and makes me want to leave a comment that I give my best to also. Unfortunately those types of blogs are not easy to find.

Most of you who visit on a regular basis read about my family and know about Pam of Pam's Perspectives, my stepdaughter and very special friend. Pam is basically responsible for my venture into blogdom. She always has great ideas and as I mentioned here, I often copy, I mean emulate, those ideas.

Pam and I have talked a lot recently about how to find what we call "blogs of substance." How do we find them all together in one place? After some brainstorming, (mostly Pam's brain) and a little bit of my newly-learned technical knowledge, we have created that place.

We are announcing the birth of Words of Wisdom a blog where we can all hang out; to share some of our more serious posts (and humorous ones as well) and find other bloggers who like to write with a little more "substance." Please don't run away thinking we are looking for "The Great American Novel." We aren't, and we aren't looking to criticize or critique each other, just to get conversations going and exchange some ideas.

We also plan to highlight "Blogs of Note" (BON) weekly to share in the fun and enjoyment of reading some of the wonderful writers out there. If any of this interests you, take a minute to read what's under the TABS below our banner at WOW, then grab our button and let's go!

The best way for this endeavor to become a success is by word of mouth. If this sounds worthwhile and something you would like to become part of, please post about us on your own blog with a link to send people over to WOW.

Pam and I are really excited about this new venture and hope you are, too.

UPDATE: I'm beyond thrilled to announce that WOW will be highlighting its inaugural Blogger of Note (BON) on Monday! Please be sure to stop by and visit this extemely eloquent blogger. And be sure to "join the conversation" by commenting on Monday's WOW post so that other bloggers can find you, too.

(So, who wants to be next? Let me know).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome Spring

We've been waiting for you

Monday, March 15, 2010

Even at 15 Years Old I Knew Better

After publishing my post about the women fliers of World War II, I got an email from Paul's cousin Dale. This is part of Dale's email:

Great job on the lady pilots. I was one of those Vietnam guys and was ashamed to say much when I got home. How many times I was in a bar in Warren and guys would be talking trash about soldiers and I had to bite my tongue.

A young man who served his country and risked his life only to come back to his hometown to be made to feel like he had done something wrong. I remember those days and the pictures of soldiers being met at airports by protesters holding anti-war signs and booing those in uniform. Ducking their heads as they moved through, I'm sure many couldn't get that uniform off fast enough. Shame on America; shame on us for not showing these men and women the respect they deserved. As a country we can never make that up to them.

Dale's email goes on to tell of a recent trip to the Veterans' Association for some medical care. I love this story:

I'm sitting next to this little frail gent in a wheelchair. He had his arm in a sling, a brace on his leg and an attitude that just made me laugh. So there was about a dozen men and women in there and this guy comes in and starts mouthing off about being in Nam and how tough he was and on and on. I was about to tell him to give it a rest when he came out and said to the little guy, "Did you ever see any action or are you one of those vets never been out of the country?" He looked at the big mouth and said "I was a B17 pilot and on one of my missions was shot down over Germany and spent the rest of the war in a prison camp." Well the guy never said another word. I love it when that happens.

Wouldn't you love to have been a fly on that wall?

Dale's comment about being made to feel ashamed of his service in Vietnam brought me back to a time in the 1970's when I wore a POW/MIA Bracelet. Nearly five million bracelets were sold by Voices in Vital America (VIVA) to raise money to draw attention to the MIAs in Vietnam. The bracelets were engraved with the name of a captured or lost soldier and the date he disappeared.

In 1971 I sent $3 to VIVA for the bracelet shown below. It has the name of Lt. Col. James Kasler and 8/8/66, the day he was shot down. The white star meant he was a POW not missing in action.

So many times during the years I wore my bracelet I was verbally attacked by someone who pointed at my bracelet and told me I was "supporting the war." Honestly at that time I didn't understand much about the Vietnam war, but even at 15, I knew they were wrong and would respond, "I'm supporting him. He's doing his job, what his country asked him to do."

In 1973, lists of prisoners scheduled to be freed started appearing in the newspaper. On March 3, 1973, I came home to find a page from the paper left by my father draped over a chair by the door with Colonel Kasler's name circled in red. Still in a scrapbook, that article is show below.
(Click to enlarge)

I wore my bracelet until sometime in March 1973 when I watched Colonel Kasler walk off the plane that brought him and a group of former POWs home. He had been promoted to colonel during his captivity, and as the highest ranking officer on the plane, he spoke at the airport that day. As I sat in front of the television listening, I cermoniously removed my bracelet.

Somehow, long before the days of the Internet, I managed to find Colonel Kasler's address in Zanesville, Ohio, and wrote him a letter. I was 17 at the time and remember spending hours composing and typing that letter. I considered sending him my bracelet but knowing that there were many duplicate bracelets and assuming he'd get others, I decided it meant more to me to keep it than it would to him. In response to my letter I received this card and photo with his signature on the back:

I recently googled Colonel Kasler and found this:

Colonel James H. Kasler is to date the only person to be awarded the Air Force Cross three times.
The Air Force Cross ranks just below the Medal of Honor as an award for extraordinary heroism in combat. The Veterans Tribute organization ranks Colonel Kasler number 8 of the Top 50 Most Highly Decorated U.S. Military Personnel in American History.

A combat veteran of
World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, he flew a combined 198 combat missions and was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam
between August 1966 and March 1973.

Enlisting in the U. S. Army Air Forces toward the end of World War II, Kasler flew 7 missions.
During the Korean War he flew 100 combat missions.

On August 8, 1966, while flying an F-105D on his 91st combat mission over North Vietnam, Kasler was shot down by ground fire. He was captured, not to be released until 6 1/2 years later on March 4, 1973. During those 6 1/2 years he was subjected to torture almost daily.

On 15 Sept 2007 the United States Air Force dedicated a monument
to him. James Kasler retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel and continues to live in Illinois.

This was the first time I was able to learn anything more about the man whose name I wore on my wrist for two years.
Whatever your feelings about war, nobody likes it, you have to admit this is a very impressive bio of a true American Patriot.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Amazing Women of World War II

I can get choked up easily about lots of things. I'm pretty much a sap, but few get as strong a reaction from me as patriotic events. The National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance are both good for blinking back a few tears. Whenever I see a soldier in fatigues, I get choked up. I was in an airport when several soldiers walked through and I had to bite my lip. I was thrilled to be able to add my applause when people spontaneously began to clap.

The most amazing patriotic event I have been part of was welcoming my cousin Nelson home from his second tour in Iraq a couple years ago. After waiting for several hours in the hangar at Quonset Point Naval Air Station, we finally got word that their plane was just a few minutes out. As we crowded near the open doors of the huge hangar, the big plane flew past and tipped its wings. What a sight! What a feeling. It was one of the most emotional moments I have ever experienced. As I sit here now my throat is full.

As the 97 soldiers walked off that plane through the phalanx of local politicians and dignitaries into the hangar, the cheers and applause of the several hundred waiting was deafening. It was a beautiful thing to watch and be part of.

In today's paper there was a report of 200 women who served as Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs who were in Washington recently to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress. This honor was in recognition of their service during World War II. Sixty-five years after the end of WW II we finally got around to saying Thanks to these women who flew planes but weren't considered to be real military pilots.

During World War II, a select group of young women pilots volunteered to become the WASPs, the first women in history to fly American military aircraft. From some research I learned that the WASP pilots each already had a pilot's license. Of the more than 25,000 women who applied for WASP service, 1,078 earned their wings and became the first women to fly American military aircraft. That there were that many licensed female pilots in this country at that time stunned me.

Although not trained for combat, their instruction was essentially the same as that for aviation cadets. The drop-out rate was comparable to the men being trained as pilots, too. They received no gunnery training and very little formation flying and acrobatics, but went through the maneuvers necessary to be able to recover from any position. From 1942 to 1943, they flew sixty million miles of non-combat military missions.

Last year, a bill was passed to award a Congressional Gold Medal to these women. Of the women who received their wings as Women Airforce Service Pilots, approximately 300 are living today. Now mostly in their late 80's and early 90's, two hundred of them were honored last Wednesday in a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

Here is a paragraph from today's article:

As a military band played "The Star-Spangled Banner," one of the women who had been sitting in a wheelchair stood up and saluted through the entire song as a relative gently supported her back.

As I read this, I all but burst into tears. And it took this country 65 years to not only honor but to acknowledge these women. When they died during duty, they were not given military honors, no flags draped their coffins. In fact, when some died, fellow female aviators often helped pay their funeral expenses. When the unit was disbanded in 1944, the women had to pay their own bus fare home from Texas. They received none of the financial or educational benefits given to veterans back then either. They weren't considered to be members of the military.

As a teenager I remember the photos and the stories of how the Vietnam veterans were greeted when they came home. I realized then, and we all know now, how disgraceful this country acted at that time. I wish there was some way we could make that up to them, too.

The last of today's article quoted Dorothy Eppstein, 92, of Kalmazoo, Michigan, "It was fun coming into a strange airport and having the mechanics say, 'Where's the pilot?' "

Fun, indeed. Thanks, ladies, you blazed a trail for many of us.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Happiness Project

I don't participate in too many memes but this one caught my eye. Plus I love the button on this blog!

You all know how much I enjoy photography and posting photographs so I thought this sounded like fun.


It's called The Happiness Project and it's all about posting pictures of things that make you wildly happy and then linking them to Leigh's blog at Leigh vs. Laundry.

Here is the last photo I will post for the 2009-2010 winter. If you've seen other photos of Lucy you know that her ears do not stand up. That is unless something is chasing her or she hears a biscuit calling her.

I Think I Look Pretty Good For 2,824 Weeks Old

If you want to know what was happening on the day, and during the year, you were born, this site will tell you. It also tells you how many days, weeks, months, minutes and seconds old you are. Okay, that's more than I need to know but lots of other information is pretty interesting and just plain cool.

At the end there is a link to a site which tells you what your name says about you, too.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spit Out Whatever is in Your Mouth

Every morning I put our vitamins out in two little cups and leave them on the kitchen counter. I'm practicing to be a really old lady. To my little cup I add my two prescription meds. Paul manages whatever meds he takes on his own in his bathroom. I don't take mine until after I have some breakfast.

Last week after Paul had left for work I picked up my cup and it was empty. I didn't think I'd already taken them which means, holy crap, Paul took my medication. I wasn't concerned about the vitamins and one of the meds but I thought he might have a reaction to the other one.

I hurriedly dialed his cell and asked, Did you take my pills? His answer was..Yeah, when I realized what I'd done I spit them out. I thought about just swallowing them but was afraid I'd be taking one of your girly pills.

Girly pills? Seriously? For a moment there I was wishing he had swallowed the medication and gotten a reaction. But all I said was Nice going. That prescription has a $50 co-pay and you just spit one into the trash.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March 4, 1953

Fifty-six years ago today my parents were married. This is their formal wedding portrait which was taken in a studio before the wedding. Both 19, they look so young. I don't know if the photos were taken early because there weren't photographers at weddings or for another reason. They had a church wedding and a reception that included a dinner at a local restaurant. It was a very small affair. I have the guest book from the reception, and there were less than 30 people there.

My mother wore a suit rather than a gown. She was poor as the proverbial church mouse. When she and my father met they were both 16, and my grandparents basically took her in. She tells of her first Christmas with them when just about every gift under the tree was for her.

Three years later they married. Just 19 years old, they expected my father to be drafted and sent to Korea. Rather than get their own apartment, after their honeymoon they went home and continued to live with my grandparents. The war ended later that year, and he was never drafted.

For their honeymoon they went to New York City and stayed in the Abbey Hotel for four nights. According to the receipt I still have, the room rate per night was $8.93 including taxes. The bill shows one charge for the valet for $1. They made three phone calls; two at 15¢ each and one long distance call for 84¢, no doubt a call to home.

Below are room service menus from the hotel. Take a look at these prices! Click on any to get a closer look.

And here are two matchbook covers with photos of them taken at the Latin Quarter, a club which in those days was located on Broadway.

Here's the drawing from the matchbook that I grabbed from the Internet. Looks like it must have been a fun place.

I'm so glad my mother hung onto these things over the years. It's so much fun to look back. Dad died in 2001 but it's still impossible to see this date come up on the calendar and not remember what happened on March 4 1953.

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Was It THAT Obvious We Didn't Belong?

Last week Paul and I attended a seminar about Social Security. Invited by our financial guy, Paul isn't that far from retirement so it made sense that we learn a bit more about the benefits, plus I was very excited about the location of the meeting.

The seminar was held at a very, very exclusive private club located in a gorgeous building on the historical East Side of Providence. One of those clubs where you must have the right pedigree and buckets of old, moldy money to join. Where women are probably still only allowed to be auxiliary members through their husbands.

Founded nearly 150 years ago, this organization is in what I am sure was originally a private residence. Renovated and added to over the years but without ruining the wonderful details, the club consists of several dining rooms, reading rooms, lounges, function and meeting rooms, a gym (in the basement) and even rooms where members can stay overnight if they have one brandy too many with the old chaps. Pip, pip, cheerio and all that.

Filled with antiques, this building is so beautiful that I could just walk around looking at the mill work, decor and artwork for hours. (I'd like to didn't say I did) I have no idea who had the connections for the use of this facility for the seminar but I was thrilled to be going there again. I have been to several functions there including holiday parties and private lunches and breakfasts. The owners of the real estate company I worked for when I first started in the business are both members. After parting ways with that agency, I never thought I'd ever see the inside of the club again.

During my previous visits to the club I think I managed to remain cool, calm and collected enough not to stick out like the bumpkin I am. Although I am certain that there are members past and present who share my last name, I'm also certain that my branch of the family came from a tree on the other side of the tracks. Having said that I am in no way ashamed of my family as you can tell from my genealogical search I wrote about. Besides, no one has any choice in where or to whom they are born.

So with as much decorum and gentility as we could muster, Paul and I entered the lobby of the club. Before we even hung up our coats and approached the reception area, at least two men standing nearby almost shouted...."to the left of the staircase, go to the end of the hall." We hadn't even had a chance to ask where the meeting was being held. Rather than making us feel uncomfortable, I found their 'assistance' rather comical. Paul and I looked at each other and shared one of those knowing smiles.

So as my title asks Was it that obvious we didn't belong there?! I guess I'll have to be more careful about the straw sticking out of my clothes next time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adventures in South Africa--Paul's Dream

I've never felt the need to include a disclaimer on any posts but I'm going to now. This post contains photos of dead animals. Nothing gruesome in my opinion, but you have been warned.

The trip to South Africa was a safari and not just a photographic safari. Paul is a hunter, and he tells me every hunter's dream is to hunt Africa. So these photos are of the animals he shot while in South Africa.

With one exception, the Red Hartebeest, each was killed with ONE shot (not the same shot, they each got their own) which means that there couldn't have been much suffering. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a dedicated animal lover. I am not a hunter, but I am a meat eater. I have been known to tell anyone who criticizes hunters that the animals my husband has 'harvested' had a better life AND death than anything you buy in the supermarket.

I will also tell you that none of the meat from the animals he shot was wasted. Yes, the heads were sent to a taxidermist and are mounted on the walls of our our game room, and the zebra skin was made into a rug. But the hundreds of pounds of meat was used to feed many people. We weren't allowed to bring any of the meat home but we did have some of each while we were there.

In addition to feeding his own family and the hunters and non-hunting guests like me staying with them, Erik, the professional hunter, provides food and shelter for the Africans who work for him. He also sells some of the meat in Johannesburg at a discount to people who can't afford to buy it in the stores. On his ranch they have a huge meat storage building where the meat is kept frozen. While we were there two women came by with a refrigerated trailer and took away many, many pounds that Erik was donating to a nursing home.

So here we go.

Paul with guinea fowl. Tillie, Erik's wife, and the ranch cook, made a wonderful guinea fowl pie from some of these birds.

Paul and Erik with Paul's Greater Kudu.

Me and Paul with the Blesbok. I was with him on several hunts/stalks but I turned my head for the shot. I am always fascinated to see the animals up close but not until they are dead. I can't deal with anything hurt.

Paul and Erik with the two trackers. This is a Gemsbok. These animals have been known to kill a lion.
Paul with his Blue Wildebeest, also known as a Gnu.

With his Red Hartebeest.
With the Warthog. Only the tusks came home from this guy.

Paul and his Impala.

Paul and his Burchell Zebra.

That's the end of photos I'll post of our safari in South Africa. Paul and I have traveled a bit and hope to do more but I don't think anything will ever top the adventure of this trip. We talk about going back some day but in the meantime, we've got other places to go and things to see. Thanks for your comments on all my posts about this trip. It's been fun for me going through all the photos and remembering what a great time we had.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Is Imitation Flattery or Just Plain Copying?

Do you believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? I have friends who get so upset when another friend or acquaintance copies one of their ideas, usually it's about decor or fashion.

I honestly don't understand that because I wonder Are there really any new ideas? Aren't we all getting inspiration from somewhere, whether we do it consciously or unconsciously?

Maybe it doesn't bother me because I'm not sure anyone has ever imitated anything I've ever done. And if it ever does happen, I'll be flattered.

Many of you know Pam of Pam's Perspective. Pam is my stepdaughter, but she is also my friend. Pam has so many great ideas, and I copy them whenever I can. So far she hasn't told me to cut it out. However, I do try to give her appropriate credit.

Pam began her blog about two months before I started this one. I was immediately intrigued by the whole idea and asked her a million questions. In her usual style, Pam read books about blogging. I just copied her. Not exactly, I think my blog style is quite different but I wonder whether I would have ever gotten started here if it weren't for Pam. Much of her blog is about books (I am always asking her for suggestions of books to read) and her reviews of theater productions she has seen (I have hitched my wagon to many of her theater excursions, too).

Pam wrote a great post yesterday about the things she's learned about blogging over the last year. A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about our family which Pam played a prominent part in. In her comment she said something about taking it and posting it on her blog. That would have been fine with me, and after this post is finished, I am going to wish she had.

So with thanks and apologies to Pam for the almost blatant plagiarism, although I did make several changes to her original post, here are many of the things I have learned about blogging since Pam, I mean I, began.

1. I really don't like it when I have to type in word verification to leave a comment on a blog. Do people really get that much spam that this is necessary?

2. I don't like blogs that are all about giveaways and advertising. If I can’t find the post within a couple seconds because I have to weed through links, ads, etc., I’m out of there usually never to return. I’m not talking about the occasional give-away or fund raiser for a cause that’s important to the blogger. I’m talking about ads for toothpaste and diet programs. I've got enough commercials in my life, thanks.

3. I miss my favorite blogs when they don't post for a while. I check the blogs that I enjoy almost daily and when I see a new post, I can’t wait to read it.

4. I really enjoy bloggers who write insightful and thought-provoking posts. But I enjoy many of the lighter posts, too. Some of you are hysterical, and I love it when someone makes me laugh out loud.

5. I can't comment on every post I read because sometimes I don’t have anything to contribute and don’t want to be one of those people who just leaves something like “stopping by from SITS.”

6. I wish everyone who left a comment on my blog had their email address attached to their profile. I really like to go to the commenter to visit their blog and to say thanks for the visit. I do attempt to follow them back to their blog through their profile but some are impossible. Do you know if you're a "no reply commenter"? Check your dashboard. You may be missing out on some of the fun of blogging.

7. I love the friendships I've found with some fellow bloggers. I've gotten some great advice, support and encouragement behind the scenes and I consider these people to be friends.

8. I have to admit I’m still a little caught up in the whole Followers thing, although on my blog you’re Trackers. I do realize that of the 100+ followers I have (not that many in the bloggy world) not even half of them read my blog on a regular basis. And that’s okay. I get about 30-40 visits (I check that with Sitemeter) with about 15 comments a day. Most of the regular commenters I have gotten to know and look forward to hearing what they have to say about my posts. One very exciting thing for me about Sitemeter is that it tracks where the visitor/commenter is from. I have readers from all over the world which I am totally into.

9. I love having the opportunity to express my thoughts here on my blog. Many of my posts have been reminiscing about family and friends and I’ve enjoyed writing those posts so much. I especially appreciate the thoughtful and heartfelt comments left. So thanks for listening and participating.

10. One of the great sites that Pam introduced me to was SITS. For the most part, that association has been fun and helped me build up my readership. SITS is a group of women bloggers, mostly work-at-home and stay-at-home mothers, a group that I don’t fit into. But I have found several great blogs I may have missed otherwise, and it was exciting, fun and hard work to be featured blogger recently. Pam and I have talked about the idea of developing a SITS-style blog that featured more "serious" blogs. We’re working on it and hopefully will be able to figure out how to start our own “tribe.” Personally I would like to have more men bloggers to read, too.

11. I love the idea of Awards, at least at first I did. The first couple awards that I received were very exciting because I took their sentiment seriously. But there is a responsibility involved in having an award given to you, and I took that seriously, too. It got very difficult and time consuming to do what was required and to pass them along to other bloggers. So I became an Award Free Blog (copying Pam once again). I look forward to and enjoy receiving and reading comments on my posts and that’s enough for me.

12. Currently I think I have 149 blogs in my Google Reader. An impossible number to keep up with. Soon I plan to go through them and reluctantly let some go. That’s a difficult decision but it needs to be done. I tend to follow anonymously at first just in case I don’t stick around, and then I won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if I decide to drop out. The one exception to that rule is if I find a new blogger that I think I will continue to enjoy. I know how excited and encouraged I was to get my first followers so I like to pass that feeling on.

Despite some of the things I mentioned here that I don't care for, blogging has been a wonderful experience that has brought out things in me I had either forgotten about or didn't know were there. Most definitely it has become a part of my life that I hope will continue.

Highbush Cranberry--March 2010

I know this monthly post is getting a bit predictable. But I commited to it last June and I'm going to see it though. I have to admit the Highbush Cranberry hasn't shown much change over the last couple months. Very little change in the bush itself but some in the berries. The first day of spring is March 20, and I expect to begin to see some major changes. I hope you'll check back on April 1 to see what Mother Nature has in store.

We have had a very cold, windy, stormy winter. That these berries have held on in nearly 50 mph gusts amazes me. I have always loved this bush but I have never paid this much attention to it and its cycle. I really don’t know when or how it drops these last berries. Do they get pushed off by new growth? Do they finally just dry up and fall off? It is amazing that so many are still there after this winter.

To see the changes, go to June, July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February.


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