Friday, January 17, 2020

Spirit of Punta Gorda #SkywatchFriday #blogboost

The weather for sunset wasn't promising, but I had learned my lesson last week, and we went to a park in Punta Gorda, Florida just in case.  Am I glad we did.

There, in a park, we found a statue erected after Punta Gorda survived Hurricane Charley.  It's called "The Spirit to Punta Gorda".

This statue was created in 2005 by artist Peggy McTeague and friends, who welded various pieces of metal, including I-beams from destroyed hurricane trailers.  At the base (you will have trouble seeing it in my photos) there is a sundial, with a shadow at 4:27pm marking the time Hurricane Charley hit the city.
Approaching the statue, which is one upright palm and one bowed down palm separated by a sundial.
I think this one was my favorite.
Here you can see both metal palm trees, with real ones in the near distance.

Just think - Punta Gorda ("Fat Point" in Spanish) remained unbowed despite being hit by a Category four hurricane in August of 2004.

Join Yogi and other skywatchers each Friday for #SkywatchFriday.

Day 17 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Nine Pieces of Blogging Advice #blogboost

As we approach the thrid week of the January Ultimate Blog Challenge, I wanted to share some hard-learned lessons with you.  I've published some of these observations before, but good advice never gets old.  Here are nine things I learned  from all my years of blogging.

1.  My first piece of advise will be strange.  Do you REALLY want to blog?  If so, why?  You have to know yourself AND the audience you want to attract.  I really wanted to blog but I just started to blog one day (after having "thought about it").   I blogged for over two years without any kind of readership, and it is a bit lonely out there. I would not be blogging today if I hadn't been told (by a friend who is a writer) about them. This leads to advice #2:

2.  I wish I knew there was such a thing as blogging challenges when I started.  If you want to grow your readership (and who doesn't want followers, for either personal or business reasons?), this is one of the fastest ways to increase your readership.  In turn, by reading the blogs of those in your challenge, you will quickly learn what works - and what doesn't.

But again, you need to know your "why".  Why are you doing this? Personal satisfaction?  Connecting with people with similar interests?  Gaining customers for your business?  Getting experience so you can write blogs for businesses?  Challenges go only so far.

3.  I wish I knew that consistent posting is key.  I highly recommend daily posting, at least for the first month or two of your blog.   Once you establish yourself, what becomes necessary is not daily posting, but, rather, consistent posting.  If you don't want to post daily - and many bloggers don't want to, or can't - then it helps your readers to know that you have a schedule. Then stick to it.  I know successful bloggers who blog only once a week.  Or only on weekdays.  Whatever works.

4.  I wish I knew there is no such thing as a perfect blog post.  Perfection is not necessary.  Passion IS necessary.  If you don't like what you write, your readers won't, either.

5. If you love something, work that into your blog posts.  If you couldn't care less about that topic, don't bother.  Blog about something you love.  I can't emphasize this enough.  That dislike/boredom/lack of passion will show right through your writing.

6.  But, you must know what your readers want.  A blog is not all about you.  It is about your readers, too.    Your readers may want to know about you, but they also want to learn, or enjoy the music/photos you post, or - there has to be a reason for them to keep coming back.  And, don't ever take your readers for granted.   There are (literally) hundreds of thousands of blogs out there.

7.  I wish I knew how important blogging comments are.  Those comments are more valuable to a blogger than breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even good chocolate. People love to be appreciated?  If you get a comment, try your best to find the website of the commenter (it isn't always easy) and check them out.  That's the least you can do to say "thank you".

Confession:  Even now, when things get busy in my life, I forget to respond to my commenters - not a good practice.

8. If you do disagree with a post, which is fine, please, please, please, be respectful. There is a person, a living, breathing human being with feelings, on the other end of that blog post you like or dislike. If you lurk, please comment on some other blog posts today!

9.  Pictures.  People love pictures.

Flower picture from one of my walks

But don't use photos without permission - EVER.  But no one is going to appreciate people who get photos off of Google Image searches.  Even if the site says you can use photos, please read the fine print.  Do you need to ask permission? Or, is the stated free use without strings attached? For example, if you make money off your blog, that "free use" may go away.

So:  anything to add?  Anything you disagree with?

Day 16 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

January Violets - Garden Bloggers Bloom Day #blogboost

The first Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for 2020 leaves me, in my zone 5b garden, a bit short of blooms.

Despite record high temperatures this past week, nothing much is growing outside my home near Binghamton, New York.

Inside, my amaryllis aren't blooming yet (I intentionally planted mine late) so I don't have much to offer you.

Just some African violets, all of which you have seen before.
But what is wrong with reruns?
This is a specialty violet I had bought from a local nursery the beginning of January, and I recently transplanted it into a self watering pot because the small pot had been drying out so rapidly.

Finally, my Thanksgiving cactus, after having a banner year, haven't done that well bloom-wise this season, but one does have a flower to show you.

My thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for keeping the gardening fires alive for us in cold climates (and letting us see the flowers of warm climes) each 15th of the month.

See you again in February!

Day 15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Not Hanging Out in the Waiting Room #blogboost

A blog post I read yesterday hit home so hard that I decided to base my post for today on it.

This blogger's question to us is:  As we grow older, do we become "more"?

I was thinking about this just the other week at work.  I find myself climbing up and down several flights of stairs several times a day.  Recently, it has hit me how I cling to the rail, moving slowly up and down the stairs.  But people working for my company who are 20 or 30 years younger than me bounce up and down those stairs, seemingly without effort.

Once, I was like that.

Another thing about stairs: if stairs don't have rails (and you'll be surprised how many stairs don't) a little thrill of fear goes through me and I almost have to force myself to go down those stairs. ("Up" isn't that hard - yet.)

My back hurts.  My right shoulder hurts.  My knee sometimes hurts.  I have to do stretching exercises.

I am stiff when I get out of bed.

But some of the up sides this blogger mentioned have happened to me, too.
I have discovered the sunrise and the sunset.

I've discovered how wonderful a good meal can be.

I treasure sleeping through the night the way the mother of a newborn baby does.  (Well, maybe not the same way).

I am not afraid to stop and smell the flowers in public (although my sense of smell isn't what it used to be).

Every day is special, just because I woke up.  I don't have to be on vacation to feel that way.

Have you found this shifting of thought in yourself, too?

The only constant in life is change, but, during a recent visit to Florida, I've also seen how that change can enrich you.  Aging is not hanging out in "G-d's Waiting Room" (a certain relative's take on aging and Florida.)

More on that (hopefully) in future posts.

Day 14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, January 13, 2020

Exit Peart #MusicMovesMe #blogboost

It's Monday.   It's time for #MusicMovesMe!

Who are the members of Music Moves Me?  We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only,  please containing links to You Tube or Vimeo for actual music.  Other posts are subject to removal or labeling as "No Music".)   First, there is XmasDolly.  Her chief co-conductor is Cathy of Curious as a Cathy. Her other co-conductors are Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, and me.  

Today, I again welcome those in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to rock out with me.

For January, our guest conductor is Michelle at Music and Merriment with Michelle.

Michelle's theme for today:  "Your Pick".  I wish I didn't have to pick this artist, though.  It's another sad day, with another rock legend gone to the Great Gig in the Sky.

Neil Ellwood Peart, drummer and chief lyricist for Rush, dead of brain cancer on January 7, at age 67.  My age.

This You Tube video claims to be the first recording (bootleg) of Peart, back in 1974.

Next, from 1982, one of my favorite Rush songs - Subdivisions.
Some claim that the song "Tom Sawyer" has been overplayed.  It doesn't matter because this is classic Peart, from 1976.

Listen to the lyrics of "Freewill", from 1980.

Speaking of songs of great power, I end this with an instrumental from 1981 that showcases the talent of Neil Peart-YYZ.  I never knew where the title of the song came from, so I looked it up - it's the transmitter code of the Toronto airport.

And that's a wrap.  I encourage you to listen to other participants in Music Moves Me using this:

Join me again next Monday, same time, same place.

Day 13 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Say No to Nostalgia? #blogboost

Recently, spouse and I visited a neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, which we lived in as newlyweds.  In 1974.

Tampa, Florida has changed drastically since 1974.    It's a bit dizzying, driving down streets that were once familiar and no longer are.  Only the names are the same.  And, speaking of names, there are all the streets that didn't even exist when we lived there.

Oh, for the good old days.

Sometimes, I feel like this sad face I found on a rail trail in Dunedin, Florida.

But wait.  There is no such thing as the 'good old days".  Never has been.

If you are in your 20's and 30's, just wait.  In about 20 or so years that nostalgia mosquito is going to bite you.  One day you'll find yourself frustrated with technology that your 10 year old child uses effortlessly.  Or you'll suddenly realize that TV shows (if they even have TV in 20 years) just aren't made the way they used to be.

That "my childhood is a museum" feeling that I used to get talking to my soon to be 30 year old son will be your feeling, too.

"Those days" weren't ideal.   Not everything was great.  Not everything has gone downhill.

So exactly what it is about the "good old days" that I don't miss?

1.  Coke-bottle eyeglasses.  If you wear glasses and have poor vision (like me) I am thankful daily for ultra light lenses that don't leave permanent sores on your nose and your ears. And I'm grateful they aren't made from glass.  I remember the pair I broke minutes before a job interview, back in Tampa.

2. Typewriters. 
And anything connected to them: carbon paper.  Correcttype.  Onionskin. 

Typing was a complex process:  inserting paper into a roller, rolling it into position, setting the margins, typing.  When you heard a bell, you knew you were about five spaces from the end.  Time to hyphenate, then return the carriage to where it started, and start typing your next sentence. 

Nope.  Don't miss it.  Give me a computer, spellcheck, and cut/paste any day.

3.  Old fashioned medicine.  I'm probably going to get an earful about this and I totally agree our current medical system in the United States is dystunctional.  But I have a medical condition, easily treated today for many people with diet, exercise and medication.  My grandmother died from the same condition in 1937 because there was no treatment.  That condition, by the way, is high blood pressure.

I may also have died in childbirth without modern medicine, which is a story for another day.

Modern medicine has a lot of problems, no doubt about it.  But enough of us are walking around right now who may not be on this earth if we hadn't expanded on the medical knowledge of the 1950's.

4.  Long distance phone service.  In my childhood, a long distance call (which included, if you lived in New York City, calling another borough) was an expensive proposition.  If you wanted to call another country, what a process that was.

Now, we keep in touch with people from all over the world with ease.  That includes reading each other's blogs.

It's true that our modern world has lots of frustration to it, especially if you have ever been hacked, or had your identity stolen, or other things that a person of the 1970's would have stared at you if you had gone back in time and complained about it.

But nostalgia?  It has its place.  But let's be real - our modern age has a lot to recommend.

Do you feel nostalgic for your childhood or teenage years?  What don't you miss about it?

Day 12 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Saturday, January 11, 2020

International Blog Delurking Week 2020 #blogboost

It's that time of the year - the time that comes once a year.

Are you a blog lurker?  I am, at times.  I admit it.  How about you?

What is a lurker? You like a blog, and you may even read it regularly, but you rarely (or ever) comment.

Maybe you are shy.  I understand. I'm shy, too. Maybe you feel you have nothing to say.  I understand.

This week, the blogging community asks you to speak up.    It's International Blog Delurking Week and it lasts until tomorrow, January 12.

This year, a blog I like to read (Happiness and Food),is hosting International Blog Delurking Week. Parul also hosts the #ThursdayTreeLove twice a month meme I enjoy participating in.

International Blog Delurking Week - 2020

The badge?  Go to Happiness and Food, get it and comment there, too.

Blog comments are like chocolate to a blog writer.  I'd love to see you comment.

You can just comment below, where it says "Post a Comment", and say "I'm here!" (unless, of course, you're a spammer.  If you are, don't even think of commenting.  Just
go away.)

I know, Blogger blogs can be difficult to comment on.  Today, I ask you to try.

  You can ask me questions.  You can suggest topics you would like me to blog about.  You can talk about the weather, food, or chocolate.  You can follow me on Twitter or Pinterest (see right sidebar), too.

I am honored by everyone who comes by to read my posts.  Thank you, if you have commented before.  And thank you for commenting today, if this post moves you. (And thank you if you have delurked on your own!)

I look forward to hearing from you today, but, most of all, if there are other blogs you like where you won't you comment on them today, too?  A new blogger, especially, gives up if he or she blogs in silence.  Please make a blogger's day today, even if it isn't me.

Day 11 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.