Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Surprising Book: My Review of Dee Ready's New Release

              At the risk of alienating and even antagonizing a large portion of my audience, I must make a confession:   I am not a cat person.   This is a personal thing that one day I plan to write about on my memoir blog Wrote By Rote.   For now I'll just let it be known that I am not particularly fond of cats.

             For this reason, it was with some reservations that I agreed to read Dulcy and Dee Ready's Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats & Their Humans when the author offered to send it to me to see if I would be willing to review it.  Since Dee was responsible for one of the more popular guest spots at Wrote By Rote, her story of her first book A Cat's Life; and since I have always enjoyed the writing at her blog Coming Home to Myself, I felt like I should at least give her book a chance.  Besides she asked so nicely and wasn't holding me to any obligations of a review that I couldn't turn down her offer.

             In all honesty, I had low expectations of this book.  I anticipated some cloyingly annoying animal story with all kinds of cutesy-isms and boring pet talk.  Instead what I found in this short book was an enthralling story of love and devotion and a philosophical study of what it means to be truly alive.

            Presented in a format similar to a self-help book, there are twelve sections corresponding to each of the twelve habits related to topics such as uniqueness, constancy, listening, acceptance, grieving, and others.  Each habit is first explained by the superior being, a cat named Dulcy.  Then the cat's human relates the life lessons she has learned from Dulcy.

            This back and forth approach is done in a charming and very effective manner.   Both cat and human provide exemplary anecdotes and observations that clarify each topic for the reader.  Dee has done a commendable job of creating the distinctive voices of the cat and the human, filling each with enough humor and pathos to provide a well-rounded presentation that will entertain and enlighten.

             With only seventy pages, this is a quick read that many will be able to do in one sitting.   However the beauty of a book like this is that you can pick it up and open to any page and start reading and gain pleasure.  It's the kind of a book you will probably be tempted to keep nearby to just read a snippet here or a habit there for inspiration.   There is much wisdom in these pages and Dee has written it well.

             If you are a cat lover I can almost guarantee that you will love this book.   Anyone who enjoys animals will undoubtedly like this book.   Even non-pet people like me who enjoy good writing will highly appreciate this book.   Twelve Habits is as much about people and their relationships with other people as it is about cats and the people they choose to be with.  The book can be read in an allegorical sense that can be helpful as much as it can be a fun read.

             My recommendation is that you buy a copy of Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats & Their Humans for yourself and extra copies for the cat lovers that you know.   This book would make a wonderful gift and it's inexpensive enough that it won't break you.

             If you read Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats & Their Humans, I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.   As for me this book almost made me wish I liked cats.   Heck, it actually made me wish I were a cat who had a nice human to keep me company.

Do you yearn for joy? Do you dream of a welcoming lap and gentle words? Do you wish to know the deep delight of a life filled with tangy tuna and abiding love? Then follow my twelve habits for highly effective cats and their humans. 


In this inspirational self-help book, an enterprising feline named Dulcy mews twelve stories that, if applied by other cats, can help them find nirvana with their humans. In an accompanying meditation, Dee helps human readers apply the habit to their own lives so they, too, can find the peace and contentment of a life well lived.

 Available at Amazon.




The author provided me a free copy of Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats & Their Humans for my honest review.  The above is my true opinion about this book.



Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Thank You Day

A young patriot salutes heroes at the 2009 Nat...A young patriot salutes heroes at the 2009 National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol. See more at Army.mil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Reprinted from the May 27th post at my blog A Few Words:


          In the United States  Memorial Day is a day when we give honor to those who have helped keep our nation free and to preserve our way of life.  Many have died and made tremendous sacrifices fighting for the ideals upon which this great country was founded.  

           This week-end we give thanks to all the men and women who died for our freedom.  We should also remember to thank the founding fathers who set the course for our nation.   Thanks could also be offered for the inventors and creators who made our country an innovator that contributed to the betterment of our lives and made the U.S. an economic leader.    And let us not forget the teachers, medical personnel, clergy, and all of those in the public and private sector who make our country run smoothly and provide for a safe, secure, and comfortable living environment.

          Then we should remember all of the responsible and dedicated parents, grandparents, family members, and neighbors who give us support and sense of community.  Perhaps we need to thank everyone in this great country for what good they have done or what they are capable of doing one day.  And a thanks to all of our friends in other nations who stand behind us.


           Thank God for the freedom and prosperity we have in the United States of America.

          Have I forgotten to thank anyone?   Who do you think deserves a deep expression of gratitude?


          
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Friday, May 25, 2012

A Debut and Some Questions for You

            Today I am pleased to share the debut of the cover art from Ciara Knight's upcoming novelette Weighted.  
Weighted is a young adult post-apocalyptic with paranormal elements. It is a prequel novelette toThe Neumarian Chronicles, and will be released August 2012. Book I, Escapement, will be released in 2013.
Blurb:
The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself.  It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.
Link to add Weighted to Goodreads shelf: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13647847-weighted


            The synopsis sounds intriguing and the artwork is stunning.   I wish Ciara great success with this release and the series to come.
And Now Some Questions For You:
           It's Memorial Day week-end!  I've got no plans.  I'll be staying home and continuing to catch up with my blogging activities.   What about you?  Do you have any special plans for this week-end?  How about this summer?    Are you doing anything special for the summer?   



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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ANOTHER THING I DON'T UNDERSTAND AND WHAT I FIND DISTURBING ABOUT IT

GUANGZHOU, CHINA - OCTOBER 25:   People visit ...GUANGZHOU, CHINA - a plastic toy exhibition booth during the 110th China Import And Export Fair . (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

            The other day I heard a report on the radio that said that the biggest U.S. export to China is--are you ready for this?--the biggest export to China is garbage.  That's as in literal trash.  Waste products.

             We ship tons of our waste to China.  They recycle it back into new products and ship those products back to us for us to turn those into more trash to ship back to them.   The upside is that at least less of our trash is going into landfills.  But what does this say about us as far as our productivity?

            In my research on this topic I found a correlation between the United States and the Roman Empire. According to Economy In Crisis, as the Roman Empire reached its fall Rome was importing everything and its only export was garbage.  The U.S. still produces a lot of goods to keep it self-sustaining, but we seem to be heading toward the day when we are totally dependent on other countries.  Would this be a wise thing to allow to happen?

            In all fairness, my research also showed that the United States still exports plenty of goods such as aircraft, automobiles, agricultural products, and many other goods.   We are not a non-productive country by any means, but we are becoming less productive.  The high unemployment figures are probably a good indicator of this.

           Then there is the market anomaly of our largest export on the worldwide scale--fuel and petroleum products.  And our largest import?  Fuel and petroleum products.  Here we Americans sit burdened with high fuel prices in hard economic times and the corporations in control of it all are playing a shell game with the commodities.  

            I'm sure there is a reasonable explanation to all of this back and forth chicanery and I'm certain that it all has to do with money.   But it's money that will mostly not end up in most of our pockets and most of us will never see the benefit of those profits.

             Don't get me wrong.  I'm all for capitalism, but I'm not sure this system should be synonymous with greed.   I can understand the need for businesses to cut operating costs, but at what cost to society?   I think of all of the textile and furniture companies that used to be in North Carolina and other places.  Many of those products are now being produced overseas and the American factories are shuttered.   I look at the "made in" labels and stamps that appear on so many products in the stores.  Not many of those say "Made in the U.S.A."

             My rant could continue for many more thousand words, but since I try to keep my posts relatively short I need to stop.  And like I've said before, there's a lot I don't understand and I'm no economic expert.  I don't know that any one person out there can adequately address all of my concerns to appease me totally, and I might not believe them anyway.  Besides this is not the biggest thing that is disturbing me at the moment.

             Let me get back to the Facebook issue that I was talking about on Monday.  One of the sources of income for Facebook and other such companies is the sale of virtual goods.   These virtual goods include clothing and accessories for avatars and assets such as tractors and equipment for Farmville or other such games or virtual worlds.

             Okay, fun is fun, but escaping into a virtual world might be inclining toward something more scary than we might normally think.  If we start letting China make our real tractors while some U.S. internet company is making imaginary tractors that we buy and sell to work imaginary fields on an imaginary farm with---well you get the picture.   In fact, you can go to Facebook and get on Farmville and you can see the picture.  And if you want, you can become your avatar and do imaginary work.

            Whew!  That opens a whole can of worms that I won't even get into here.  It all just makes me wonder where we are heading.   We have been reduced to data, trends, and demographics.

             What industries have disappeared in the area where you live?   How is your local job market?  What is your favorite virtual world?   Or do you avoid virtual play?   What is your favorite form of escapism?   What do you think the economic future is of the United States or where you are located?



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Monday, May 21, 2012

About Face!....book

facebookfacebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

          I started to write this post last Thursday to post today (Monday), but then decided it would make more sense to wait until after the big Facebook IPO had actually happened.  This is coming from one who knows very little about stock market issues or finances period.   In fact, I am a financial nincompoop which probably explains why I'm not rolling in dough.

           For the past couple weeks or more we've been hearing all sorts of hype about the Facebook stock going on sale to the public and the billions of dollars that would be raised and that would be falling into the bank accounts of those who already had stock or who would be trading in it.  If I had made my prediction on Thursday that the opening day would not be as big of a boom as some were expecting, I would have been right.

            Now, I certainly don't have any well-founded knowledge about this whole IPO thing.  As I stated at the beginning I'm a big know-nothing about this sort of thing, but the hype was getting to be a bit too much to not make me a bit suspicious.  My own intuitive sense--which is just my silly opinion--makes me wonder about how long Facebook can hold its value.

             Google and some others are certainly holding their own, but there are probably many more tech and  internet related companies that are dying slow deaths or being absorbed into larger conglomerations.  What can Facebook do to grow in the future?

            Supposedly they have potential for selling advertising--this said right after GM withdrew a ten million dollar advertising deal because they weren't seeing the anticipated results.  And who looks at Facebook advertising anyway?   It was a long time before I realized there was advertising.

            Then also I'm hearing this thing about portals, which is something to do with people using Facebook to go to other places on the web and then FB gets some kind of commission.  Supposedly this will be a huge source of income.  Also there could be the possibility of charging for premium services like photo storage.  Those guys at FB are smart--a lot smarter than I am--and I'm sure they can come up with ingenious ways to make money. At least until the next smart guys come along to do something similar in a better way.

            Don't get me wrong--if anyone has some extra stock they want to turn over to me, I'll take it off your hands if you want to give it to me.  And if I had money to play with I would probably be tempted to invest.  I'm just feeling pessimistic.  

             There's something bigger to this whole thing that kind of bothers me and I'll be telling you about that in my next post.  Come back on Wednesday for ANOTHER THING I DON'T UNDERSTAND AND WHAT I FIND DISTURBING ABOUT IT.

               Did you invest in any Facebook stock?  Would you?   Where do you think Facebook will be going in the future?   Do you use Facebook and if so, to what extent?    If there were a charge to be on Facebook would you be willing to pay it?   Is anybody still on MySpace?



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Friday, May 18, 2012

A Writing Experiment: Part 2

 
           I'll admit that sometimes I get fixated on things, but I feel like when I do I have good reason to do so--then again I'm biased.   On my Wednesday post I presented two versions of the same story.  You may wish to go back to read these very short pieces before continuing with today's explanation of the origin of the story.

         One of my latest fixations came about while putting together a post  for the Sad Songs Blogfest hosted by L. Diane Wolf at Spunk on a Stick.  Anyone who knows my blogs well knows that I enjoy writing about music.  This Sad Songs Blogfest was something I liked so much that I put together lists for all four of my blogs.

          One song in particular stuck with me well after the blogfest was over and I decided I wanted to make sure more of my readers had an opportunity to listen to this song.  I included this song on my Sad Songs entry at A Faraway View.  When I first heard Steve Forbert's "Make It All So Real" back in the early 1980s it impacted me immediately not only with the quality of the song and melody, but I found the story rather powerful.

           It's a simple tale that consists of snapshots taken from a few different perspectives.  We don't get much detail, just enough to show us that we don't always know a complete story.  Our perceptions of others can be very deceptive when we don't know all of the facts.

           In my Wednesday post I first presented my hastily slapped together version of a prose narrative that is essentially a summary of what is depicted in the song.   The second version is the actual Steve Forbert song written in a narrative fashion, although I think it was probably pretty obvious to most readers that this was a song or a poem.  You may want to read through the comments to Wednesday's post to see some of the reactions to my two story examples.

                    If you had read the two versions prior to reading this explanation did you guess that the second version was a song or poem?   What are your thoughts on this song and the songwriter's approach to telling a story?   Have you ever written a story based on a story told in a song?   Can you think of an example of a story you have read that was based on a song?   Am I being overly obsessive about this song?   If you'd like to listen for yourself here it is:



Here are the lyrics to "Make It All So Real" by Steve Forbert:

Take your seat in the table
watch the cabaret fill
Ted came down for the singer
He saw the name on the bill
how the minutes were draggin'as the audience grew
Ted was growing impatient as he swallowed his brew
" It's time to welcome the artist " he heard somebody say
saw a face in the floodlight an' ev'rything
was ok....


Singer man do your work. Sing your song. Make it hurt.
Sing the tears. Sing the pain. Make it all so real.


Then the singer was singing all his serious songs
and his Band wa a-playing ; Ted was hummin' along.
Meanwhile back in a corner there was a table
for two.
Where sat the singer's cute lover snd she was
drinkin' a few,
all snuggled up with a stranger who had his hand on her tigh,
she was receivin' his message an' gazing into his eyes...
So the sound came a-rollin',tumblin' into the night
an' all the people were ravin', sayin' " Man our singer's allright ! "
An' " Such a burnin' performer ! " " What a fabulous show ! "


Little lover was stirrin'. She was ready to go.
An' while the singer was wailing she got up to depart.
The crowd was stompin' an' cheering. She was breakin' his heart...
Ted was feelin' terrific as the crowd filtered out
ravin' on 'bout the hero, there were whistles an' shouts
There was a guy with his sweetheart.
Ted came walkin' on past.
he could hear what was spoken. He could hear what she asked.
( She said ) " Don't you envy the hero ? "
An' the fella answered his girl 
" Yes. He's the ultimate singer. He's on top of the world ! "



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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Singer Man: A Storytelling Comparison

When Disco Ruled the World  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

          I hope you won't mind indulging me in this little experiment.  Today I'm going to present two different versions of the same very short story.  I'd like for you to tell me which one you prefer and why.    On Friday I will explain a bit more about this.
  

                                     The Singer  

    Ted settled back at his table in the night club nursing his beer while he watched the crowd filter in to fill the seats around him.  The poster outside the door had made him smile with the anticipation of seeing the singer he'd long admired.  Ted had made this special trip into the city to experience this performance.


       Drumming his fingers on the table, Ted's impatience grew.  Finally the lights dimmed.  From some unseen place he could hear the announcer introducing the singer.  Then after the voice said, "Now it's time to welcome the artist", the crowd roared its approval.


        A spotlight illuminated the singer, who Ted immediately recognized.  Ted's excitement swelled and his face beamed as he broke into applause along with the rest of the audience.  Soon Ted was humming along to favorite songs he knew so well.  The singer ran through his playlist of popular songs while his top notch band punched life into each one of them.


        Unseen by anyone in the audience was the singer's attractive girlfriend who was sitting at in a booth at the back of the room. She'd had a few too many drinks and was snuggled up with some guy she didn't even know.  He was putting some smooth moves on the lady while her true lover sang his songs for his adoring audience.


         Appreciative comments could be heard throughout the audience.  "Man, our singer's alright" and "He's such a burning performer" and "What a fabulous show!"   The singer was "knocking 'em dead" as the old show biz adage goes.


         Amid the stomping and cheering, the movement of the singer's lover and the stranger was unnoticed as they got up to succumb to their passions. Only the singer could see the pair leave the room while he poured out his deepest emotions, his saddest heartbreak, into these songs that his fans loved so well.  His heartbreak was real to him, but only songs to those who heard them sung on that night.


        After the show Ted felt terrific as he headed toward the exit.  He could overhear the raves and excited appreciative buzz of the departing crowd.  In particular he overheard the exchange between one young man and his girlfriend as they discussed the evening's performance.
  
         "Don't you envy that guy?" she said.


          "He's the ultimate singer," her boyfriend replied.  "He's on top of the world."
                                                  ***********

Now for version two:

                 Make It All So Real          
       Take your seat at the table. Watch the cabaret fill.  Ted came down for the singer. He saw the name on the bill.  How the minutes were dragging as the audience grew.  Ted was growing impatient as he swallowed his brew

       "It's time to welcome the artist," he heard somebody say.  He saw a face in the floodlight and everything was okay.


Then the singer was singing all his serious songs and his band was a-playing.   Ted was humming along. 

             "Singer man do your work. 
              Sing your song. Make it hurt.
              Sing the tears. Sing the pain. 
               Make it all so real."


         Meanwhile back in a corner there was a table for two where sat the singer's cute lover and she was drinking a few, all snuggled up with a stranger who had his hand on her thigh. She was receiving his message and gazing into his eyes...

         So the sound came a-rolling, tumbling into the night.   And all the people were raving, saying "Man our singer's all right ! "  And "Such a burning performer!" "What a fabulous show!"

        Little lover was stirring. She was ready to go.  And while the singer was wailing she got up to depart.  The crowd was stomping and cheering. She was breaking his heart...

        Ted was feeling terrific as the crowd filtered out raving on about the hero, there were whistles and shouts.

        There was a guy with his sweetheart.   Ted came walking on past.  He could hear what was spoken. He could hear what she asked.

        She said, " Don't you envy the hero ? "

         And the fella answered his girl, "Yes. He's the ultimate singer. He's on top of the world!
                             **************

          Please come back on Friday for my explanation and some further comments about this story.  What version do you like the best and why?  What  particular impressions do you have about either version?  Honest critiques please.

             
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Monday, May 14, 2012

First Love


First Loves Blogfest - on May 14, post your first loves – first movie, first song/band, first book, and first person. Four loves, one blogfest!   Alex Cavanaugh does it again!   How could I resist?


          First loves?  I think Alex has listed them in the right order.  Love is a complex subject.  I'll keep it simple so as not to delve into philosophical interpretations of what love is.   Maybe these are merely infatuations or perhaps passions, but I'll call them loves. 


wikipedia
          Before I could read there were music and movies.  Since I grew up in the 1950s we didn't have too much opportunity to watch movies on television.  It seemed like nearly every week my parents took us to the movie theater to experience the magic on the big screen.  The first movie that made a big impact on me was Godzilla.  I would have been 5 or 6 years old at the time.  The rampant destruction caused by this radioactively mutated monster fascinated me and filled my dreams and imaginations from then on, leaving me with a love and curiosity of all things related to nuclear destruction and mutations.  Sci-fi became my genre of preference after seeing Godzilla, King of the Monsters!.


wikipedia
          There was always music in my house as I was growing up.  I grew up with my parents' music and I loved it dearly, but I was somewhat of a snob when it came to the current pop hits. The Beatles and the English Invasion started warming me up to the sound.  The first song that really grabbed hold of me was "The House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals.  After that I was hopelessly hooked on rock and roll music.  


       






The Way, the Truth, and the Life:  Ralph Pallen Coleman's Paintings of the Old and New Testaments
amazon
           Books were also prevalent in our home.  I had many of the Little Golden Books when I was in early childhood, but in second grade I was given the two books that made the biggest difference in my life.  Reverend Frank Van Valen gave me my first Bible and this led to my life interest in this book.  At about the same time my father gave me an art book The Way, the Truth, and the Life: Paintings by Ralph Pallen Coleman.  I have often spent time studying these paintings.  The books were given to me in 1958 and I still have both copies as treasured books on my shelves.










                    Annette was a bug-eyed frail little girl with dusty brown curly hair.  In fourth grade she was about the cutest thing I'd ever seen.  She was quiet and shy.  I don't think we ever said a word to each other, but my imagination often ran away with her.  I'd had little crushes before, but I began thinking about Annette more than any girl I had ever known before then.  I don't ever recall her last name--for some reason I thought it was Italian, but it may have been Spanish.  She and her family used to drive the thousand miles from San Diego to La Paz, Baja California in a jeep.  Our teacher Ms. Kingston had her tell about the trip once and it sounded like an adventure worthy of the pioneers in their Conestoga wagons.  The story made Annette seem all the more interesting to me.  I don't remember Annette after fifth grade.  I wonder what happened to her?


          There they are.  Four first loves.   Memories of long ago.   Parts of who I am now.


           For more First Loves visit Alex Cavanaugh's site for the list.










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Friday, May 11, 2012

When Is A Blog Post Too Long?

P questionP question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



        In deference to this week's A to Z Challenge Reflections, I will keep my posts here very short today and Friday.   Be sure to enter your Challenge Reflections on the Linky list and please visit those who are listed there already.  There are some excellent posts.


         When you come upon a long blog post, do you tend to read it, skim through it, or skip it?  


         If you leave a comment on a long post, does your comment tend to elaborate upon the points presented in the post or is it mostly an acknowledgement that you were there?


         What would be your advice to the blogger who often writes long. long blog posts?


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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May I Ask A Question?

Question markQuestion mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

          In deference to this week's A to Z Challenge Reflections, I will keep my posts here very short today and Friday.   Be sure to enter your Challenge Reflections on the Linky list and please visit those who are listed there already.  There are some excellent posts.

         Today I have two questions for you:

         1)   Do you enjoy blog posts that only have a question for you to answer in the comment section?

         2)   Do you prefer deep questions that require a thoughtful answer or lighter questions that ask something about you, your experiences, or your preferences?






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Monday, May 7, 2012

A to Z Reflections 2012

A to Z Badge Artwork by Ada Zdanowicz from CollagePodge.com

          What a wonderful successful A to Z Challenge we had this year.  Third year--bigger and better than ever.  As it should be.   There were so many amazing posts by tremendously talented bloggers that it was not possible to keep up with them.  But some of the ones I did manage to make it to absolutely floored me at times.   A hearty congratulations to everyone of you who participated in the Challenge and a special thanks to those who weren't posting from A to Z, but following faithfully and providing support to those who were.

          In the weeks to come I will be saying more about the good and the bad and my thoughts about the next Challenge.  You will be able to find these posts on the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Blog.  The posts will primarily appear on Mondays starting May 21st but may be elaborated upon on other days as seen fit.

          And just a word  about that A to Z Blog.  It was good to have the focus of the Challenge drawn away from my Tossing It Out blog so a greater focus could be given on this blog devoted to the Challenge itself.  We had some outstanding guest posts from too many of you to mention here.  We thank all of you for your help in keeping content on this blog that one blogger referred to as our "water cooler site" where bloggers could gather to ask questions, make suggestions, and just talk about the Challenge or whatever else was on their minds.

         The A to Z Blog site will continue to stay active for the rest of the year with the Post Challenge Challenge and other happenings.  Just how active will depend on you bloggers.  We are accepting guest posts, so if you have an idea of something you'd like to post, please contact us at one of the emails listed on the "Contact Us" page at the A to Z Blog.

        I would be remiss to not mention my biggest source of support and creativity--the incredible A to Z Team of 2012.  I couldn't have done on my own anywhere near what we accomplished as a team.  These are some of the greatest bloggers around.  If you haven't visited all of them you need to get over and make friends with the ones you've missed.  These are good people to have in your corner.

Here is our 2012 A to Z Team:


Amlokiblogs (Damyanti Biswas) -- Despite some personal challenges she was dealing with, Damyanti kept a strong presence throughout the A to Z Challenge.  She was our Twitter maven who injected vitality into the Twitter activity and put together our Twitter news that you might have noticed on some of our sidebars.   She wrote some very effective material on her blog as well.

Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) --The famed Ninja Captain Alex, who probably needs no introduction.  He's been a presence since the very first Challenge and a mighty presence in keeping up with visiting, commenting, and giving recognition to other bloggers on his own blog.

Life is Good (Tina Downey) -- Tina set up and managed our A to Z email account and has corresponded directly with many of you with help and advice.  She kept the A to Z Blog schedule organized to make sure daily content was delivered to you readers.  You will be seeing much more of Tina when the Post Challenge Challenge begins next Monday May 14th.

Cruising Altitude 2.0 (DL Hammons) -- DL's influence reaches a wide range of bloggers and he did a tremendous job of drawing many to the Challenge and leaving his encouraging comments with many of you.  He was a huge asset in adding his much loved personality to the Challenge.

Retro-Zombie (Jeremy Hawkins)--  This guy is a boundless creative source.  He is the one responsible for nearly all of the graphics, banners, and animations that dressed up many of your blogs.  His blog added a quirky touch to our collection of host blogs.  Jeremy's behind the scenes availability made him a go to guy when we needed special assistance.  He had so many ideas that we never even got around to using most of them.  Next year.

The Warrior Muse (Shannon Lawrence)-- Shannon was rock steady in keeping things going from her corner.  She had a fascinating series on her blog during the Challenge that I'll have to get back to when things slow down some.  At the same time she made sure she visited plenty of your blogs.  Shannon along with Lisa will be a major force in the weeks to come as they take over with the Post Challenge Challenge.  More about that next Monday on the A to Z Blog.

The QQQE (Matthew MacNish)-- Adding literary integrity to the Team, Matthew was another one who was all over the place during the Challenge.   He was always on call and ready to go when he was needed and an integral cog in the well-tuned A to Z machine.

Author Elizabeth Mueller(Elizabeth Mueller) -- With grace and charm, Elizabeth was a welcomed addition to our team.  She is full of ideas and artistic vision.  We were thrilled to have Elizabeth by our sides.

Pearson Report (Jenny Pearson)-- Jenny provided one of the biggest surprises to me.  She approached me last year about being a co-host and assured me she would give it her all.  She not only gave it her all, but her energy was incredible.  Jenny was a huge motivating force leading up to the A to Z sign up day and she was there to encourage all who needed it once sign ups started.   What a great addition she turned out to be.

No Thought 2 Small (Konstanz Silverbow) --I didn't know about Konstanz until Elizabeth recommended her and what a coup it was to land Konstanz on our Team.  She is a creative visionary who is filled with great ideas.  I thank Konstanz for getting us on track with the A to Z Blog Facebook page.  This became such a great tool for communications.  The great many of you who were using the Facebook page to publicize your blog posts can thank Konstanz for that idea.

Breakthrough Blogs (Stephen Tremp) -- The Beatles may have sung about "Nowhere Man", but they didn't know about Stephen Tremp who is like "everywhere man".  I couldn't keep track of this guy a lot of the time, but I knew I didn't need to worry about him.  This was Stephen's second year as an A to Z co-host so he knew what was going on.  Great job, Stephen, for the things I knew about and those I didn't.   

Coming Down The Mountain(Karen Jones Gowen) --- Karen is an experienced professional who knows what she's doing.  I was grateful to have a cool collected individual like her to step in and do what needed to be done.   She also had a very informative and practical series on her blog that I will have to visit later on.

           In addition to the above mentioned team members I have a few unofficial team members who provided me with support and assistance.   My thanks go out to the following:

Yvonne Lewis at Welcome to My World of Poetry not only commented on every one of my posts on all of my blogs, she mentioned me in a few of her posts and commented on many of your posts.  Yvonne is like our A to Z Goodwill Ambassador.  She is also the first person who took me up on my original Challenge in 2010.

Nicole at The Madlab Post provided us with several informative posts on the A to Z Blog, assisted in putting together the A to Z Video Challenge, offered a number of helpful suggestions, and left many substantive comments on many blogs.  You will be seeing more from Nicole at the A to Z Blog in the weeks to come.

Ada Zdanowicz is the artist behind the official A to Z Badge that you see at the top of this post.  I'm not sure how closely you've looked at this artwork, but there is an intricacy there that may be lost in the casual passing of this badge on the sidebar.  Ada worked with me many hours back in October to come up with something that would be unique and aptly fit the spirit of the Challenge.   The serendipity of her name escaped me for a good while before I noticed that she was signing her emails to me as Ada Z--Ada Z?  Could a better name be found for the official A to Z artist.  Thank you Ada.  She doesn't have a blog, but you can find more information about her work at CollagePodge.com.

      Well I hear the music playing as they try to get me off the stage.  Thanks again to everyone.  Now be sure to visit some of the others on the list.     



For Reflections Linky list go Here.





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Friday, May 4, 2012

Fires Burning

BURNED OUT SHELL IS ALL THAT REMAINS OF THE HO... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


            Once when I was fourteen, I was awakened by an orange glow in my bedroom that cast shifting patterns of light on the walls.  Frightened, I quickly sat up in my bed and looked out the window.   Behind our house, a very large old barn that had stood on the the remainder of the farmstead that was now being turned into a vast subdivision was in flames.  I watched with eyes wide as the flames raged with loud crackles and hisses, sending glowing embers and smoke high into the air.

           There was no great concern that our house was threatened by the fire.  The barn was at least 300 yards away and none of the embers were falling near to us.  Yet I couldn't help but think about the possibility of losing our home to a fire--losing everything I owned, my parents owned, and our refuge of security and comfort.

            My mother used to tell the story of when her family's house burned down when she was still a young girl.  She was at school  on the playground.  The children could see the smoke from the fire in the distance.  One of the boys teased her that it was her family's house burning   Later my mother was informed that it was the house where she lived that had burned.  When she got to the home site she saw that there was little left of the place.

           Later, a man who was known about town as a drunk and who had sunken into an errant life came to my mother's family with his story of change.  After the house fire, he had looked among the ruins and found on the fireplace mantle a small Bible, lightly singed but otherwise intact.  This discovery caused him to evaluate his life and decide to change.  He had given up alcohol, and now reconciled with his family was intent on living a useful life.  He thanked my mother's father and returned the Bible which eventually ended up in my mother's possession.

        Another artifact of fire that I recall seeing when I was a kid was something that one of my friends showed me.   My friend's father had a rectangular mass of nails that had been melted together.  His father had found them after a fire at a business place.  The nails had apparently been inside of a box which had acted as a mold to keep the contents intact after the box itself had burned away.   The individual nails could still be seen, but they had been fused into the permanent shape they now held.

          I would never want to experience the loss of my home or any of my possessions through a fire.  Losing everything I own seems so devastating.  Yet people survive these losses and start over.   Perhaps there is a certain sense of being unshackled from the binding nature that possessions can hold upon us.

          A fire can purge, fuse, or free us.   Fire can give us light to help us see, give us heat to make us warm, or unleash energy to provide us a comfortable  lifestyle.  The flames might be controlled or might be a destructive force gone wild.  Fire can be many things but hopefully we are never burned by it.

          Do you have a fire in your life that is threatening to go out of control?    How do you control the fires that are burning in your life?   Is there a fire smoldering within you that you need to let burn?


             Be here Monday May 7th for my A to Z Reflections for Tossing It Out.     Watch for the Linky list at the A to Z Blog so you can add the  link to your Reflections post.






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