Friends Who Blog and an Enchanted Light-Catcher

Washington DC and Virginia

The Gathering of the Bloggers, Washington DC and Virginia, Spring, 2015

A year ago last spring, I spent an extraordinary week gathering with bloggers from around the world. It was an experience I’ll never forget. We traveled from Canada, parts of the US and as far away as New Zealand, gathering in Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

Laurie of Life on the Bike, and Julia of Defeat Despair, invited us to stay in their homes. They were excellent tour guides, showing us the sites and sharing stories about their community. Shelley, of Peak Perspective hosted several of us for an engaging afternoon atop a hill in Virginia. We enjoyed laughter and an amazing spread of food under the watchful, curious eyes of Haggis the dog.

Lisa of Arlingwoman provided local perspective as she guided us through the enormous Washington Mall. Her knowledge increased my enjoyment of the incredible history that resides there. We toured Lisa’s community garden and learned about her Plot Against Hunger.

We shared a meal with Lisa as well as Stacy of  Visual Venturing and Patti of Displaced Beachbums.

Rounding out this amazing journey: Kelly who blogs at Boomdeeadda and Kelly’s Korner  and Pauline of The Contented Crafter.

What started as “blogging friends” became “friends who blog.”

One of the visual reminders of our time together is my beautiful light-catcher. Pauline made one for each of us, selecting charms to reflect our interests and our lives.

You can see the amazing details in the short video below.

Five years and 940 posts later the most amazing statistic is this: there are nearly 16,000 comments on this blog. Comments become conversations, conversations lead to friendships and in this great big world of ours,  interesting, like-minded, bright, clever, talented, and wonderful people from around the world, log on and add sparkle to my day. I can’t thank you enough.

Blogging 101: Branding Your Image?

daffodil altered 2015Today’s blogging 101 task asks us to extend our brand with one of the following: a custom Blavatar, a custom image widget, or a fan page.

Since I already have a Gravatar and lacked the energy to create another Facebook page, I opted for the image widget.

It was fun playing round with my photo using a (mostly) free app called PicMonkey, but the idea of creating a brand is a bit lost on me.

You can see the image widget on the right side of my blog. Of all the lessons over the past few weeks, this was the most challenging, mostly because I just couldn’t see the point.

Have you used the image widget on your blog? How about PicMonkey?

Oh, The Places You’ll Blog*

*with humble apologies to Dr. Seuss.

It’s day eleven of Blogging University: Blogging 101. With two weeks down and one to go, I’ve learned a lot.

Today’s assignment is to

publish a post based on your own, personalized take on a blogging prompt.

The prompt is

Places: beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?

Where Am I?

Where Am I?

When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
Love’s Labours Lost (5.2.900-4)

In 1989, single and unencumbered, I flew to Europe with a backpack and stayed for two months. I traveled mostly by train, but also by bus and boat. The best days were those spent on foot, exploring small towns, large cities and everything in between. I covered ten countries in all, including most of the British Aisles as well as France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

I traveled on a shoe string, working from a copy of Let’s Go Europe. Staying in youth hostels made the trip affordable and fun. I met travelers from around the world and in addition to their good company, I learned about other places to stop along the way.

It seems a life time ago, and of course in many ways it is. I’ve since married and had two boys, started a small organizing business and moved to San Jose. When I look at this photo, though, all the memories come back. Photographs, much like music or a certain smell, have a way of transporting you back in time. I remember buying the dress I’m wearing and the sweater to go with it. Those comfortable, ubiquitous sandals carried me everywhere. It was a thrill to step foot in this aging town and to learn more about its history.

A woman I met at one of the youth hostels snapped this photo on a warm, July day. Then we explored the sites together. We were still buying rolls of film in those days and developing them at a nearby drug store. It was here that I bought the first of many travel patches that I would later sew on my backpack.

Of course lots of the memories are lost with the years. Sometimes I want to peer outside of the photos edge, to see what might be there.  I remember arriving but not departing and I don’t remember any of the meals. I wonder if I’m really that close to the river’s edge or is it simply an artifact of the camera’s lens?

What I do know is this: Traveling alone on another continent was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. There were times when I was lonely, cranky and scared, but they were far outweighed by the interesting people I met along the way and the tremendous sense of independence that comes from finding your way in a distant land.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Can you guess where I am from these clues?

 

 

Blogging Nirvana

A few months ago, I updated my ‘About’ page to read:

I came for the writing and stayed for the friends. Who knew the blogging community was so rich and diverse?

On WordPress alone, bloggers produce over 44 million posts a month. My blog is a tiny minnow in a vast sea. Yet somewhere along the way, I’ve connected with a handful of remarkable people scattered across the globe. In many ways, blogging is the start of a conversation. Great things reside in the comments that follow. Like the oft-compared pen pals of our youth, we form relationships through the written word.

Without face-to-face exchanges, bloggers rely on words and pictures. When you’re first starting out, you hunger for comments. It’s a way to validate why you’re here and what you write about.  In a short time, however, relationships are born. They grow and strengthen and before you know it, you’re logging on every day to connect with like-minded and interesting people.

For me, it all started with ‘Boomdee’. I can still remember the first blog that caught my eye, a beautiful transformation of her front porch.  I love before-and-after pictures and I liked her style.  A little exploration told me she had two rescue cats, and that she lived in Canada, my country of origin.

The connection could have ended there, but before long, we were exchanging multiple comments back and forth every day. Unbelievably, someone I didn’t know just a few years ago, became one of my closest, dearest friends.

Through that connection, I found other bloggers.

  • Dani, at Teddy and Tottie. She writes a slice-of-life blog from a small town in Australia.
  • Julia, at Defeat Despair, writes inspirational posts from her homes in Washington D.C. and Virginia
  • Laurie, at Life on the Bike,  also lives in Virginia. She’s a fabulous photographer and a serious biker and she shares her experiences with both.
  • Pauline, at The Contented Crafter, blogs from New Zealand. Pauline blogs about her process of creating mixed-media art and crafts.

…and we all include our wonderful animals in our posts.

Yesterday, an amazing thing happened. Ms. Boomdee organized a global Skype Tea.She put together a schedule that accommodated five different time zones, then placed the call.  We had a series of technical issues, but it added to the fun.  Each of us read a pre-selected poem, wearing a hat and gloves of course. We enjoyed the novelty of hearing each other for the first time, and our diverse accents on the call. I can’t remember the last time I experienced something so unique and fun.

Special thanks, dear Boomdee, for making this all possible. Fellow bloggers, thank you for reading, writing, photo-sharing and commenting. My hat (and gloves) are off to you.

 Who Ya Gonna Call?

Skype Tea Selfies

Skype Tea Selfies

skype tea

Skype cast of characters

Snow-in-a-Can, Winter Wonderland

Early last week, I received a package in the mail.  Not just any old package, but a package from a garden gnome named Alyster.  He’s a clever little fellow, small enough to fit in your hand, but full of big ideas.

Alyster says he’s “up to his eyeballs in snow” and wishes he could come back to stay in sunny California.  I wish he would come and stay, too.  I need to check in with his traveling companion, Boomdee.

Since Alyster is missing the sun, he thought I might be missing the snow.  (You are so right, Alyster).  That clever garden gnome sent me snow-in-a-can.  Just add water and watch the snow grow.  Along with the snow came a tiny glass igloo, and the smallest scarf you’ve ever seen.

snow in a can

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

So what does one do with snow-in-a-can, a tiny igloo and a pint-sized red scarf?  You make a snow globe!

Several years ago, my friend Marcia sent us this super-cool acrylic globe.  We’ve used it in many ways over the years.  It was a terrarium for a while till the plants outgrew it.  One year we filled it with colored silk Christmas ornaments.  It’s also beautiful unadorned.

Acrylic globe

Acrylic globe

This season it’s a tiny winter wonderland.  Here’s what I did:

I filled the bottom with airfill packing, then topped with a paper plate, cut to fit the opening.

Airplus Packing material

AIRplus Packing material

I foraged a couple of Christmas ornaments from our tree to help set the scene.  We bought the tiny wooden snowman for our first tree 18 years ago.  We were starting from scratch so we bought a small tree and even smaller ornaments at a local import store.  The little door decoration came from our local Hallmark store the year we remodeled our house.

snow globe details

Snow globe details

I added sprigs of Christmas greens, a small pathway and then it was time to let it snow.  I haven’t had this much fun in ages.

It’s ‘snowing’ on WordPress throughout December.  I can’t wait to hit the publish key so I can watch the snow falling on my winter wonderland.

PS…Alyster, I found your flip-flops.  You left them on the bottom of the box.  Please pop over to pick them up whenever you like.  🙂  I’ll keep the light on for you.

snow globe

Snow globe

under the dome

Under the dome

falling snow

Now just linger over this last photo and wait for the snow to fall

 

Boomdeeadda, Boomdeeadda

Welcome Boomdee and Mr. B.

A Fairy Garden Welcome for Boomdee and Mr. B.

I once marveled at friendships forged by letter-writing, the back and forth exchange of lives via the written word. What fun it would be to share the minutia of life with a kindred soul.

I’ve found that kindred spirit here on WordPress at Boomdeeadda!  Instead of forging a paper friendship, we’ve connected through our blogs. It started simply enough, with an exchange of comments. Before I knew it, I was following Boomdee and checking in every day. We connected on Facebook, Pinterest and finally Skype.

It’s been an extraordinary journey, one of affection and discovery, leading the Boomster to my doorstep this week. The odds that we would ever meet seemed improbable: she lives in Alberta, Canada; I’m in San Jose, California. But connect we did and due to this amazing blogging community, we found ourselves together in a cozy tea shop swapping stories and sharing our mutual admiration of our fellow bloggers.

Boomdee is warm and kind, generous to a fault, clever, creative and fun. I wish you could hear her laugh or collect one of her spontaneous hugs. Like a couple of school girls, we found something to laugh about around every corner.

Beautiful Boomdee Near the Fairy Garden

Beautiful Boomdee Near the Fairy Garden

Alyster dropped by for a visit.

Alyster came with!  What a nice surprise.

Lisa's Tea Treasures with Boomdee and Sharon

We donned wigs and false eyelashes, then went out for tea.

I’ve been teasing all week that I would like her to move here, but in reality, well… I would like her to move here.  Sure, it’s impractical with jobs and family and lives, but the alternative meant saying goodbye at the curb. Alas, with heavy hearts, we did.

Safe travels my friend. You’ve filled me with joyful memories…until we meet again.

Boomdeeadda is…

No need to take my word for it.  You can go see for yourself. 🙂

Blogging vs. Facebook

facebook snip 2013Do  you have a Facebook account? I have a handful of friends who are hold-outs, but the number of account holders globally is staggering.  Many of my readers land here as a result of Facebook. More and more though, other social platforms are sharing the love.

When I sit down to write Gardening Nirvana, I’m generally armed with photographs, possibly research and the seed of an idea.  Writing a blog every day is hard work, but it grows on you…just like gardening!

Some days my blog “writes itself,” but more often than not it takes work. While I’m busy procrastinating, I leave a window open with Facebook. You never know what might inspire you, right? WordPress is all business, offering editing prompts such as “Save Draft” or “Add Media.”  I’ve noticed lately that Facebook is much more touchy-feely:

facebook snip how are you feeling

How am I feeling?  Well…I made the mistake of reading a comment in my Spam Folder.  Honestly, I really ought to know better. Most of the “comments” are advertising ploys but this one had the sense of legitimacy.  Here’s what it said:

“The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought you’d have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.”

My Facebook tribe set me straight while at the same time piling on the loveliest comments.  Most of my blog readers are the same. I’m feeling better with all that support. I’m also sorry for anyone with so much negativity in their heart.

facebook snip what's happening

Let’s see…well, the broccoli is looking really good.  It’s dark green, pest free and almost ready for harvest.  The cauliflower didn’t survive the frost, so I finally yanked it out and tossed it into the compost heap. I tried an orange from our tree today, but it wasn’t as sweet as I would like.  I’ll try again in another week.  I see a gallon of fresh-squeezed juice in my future.  Be sure to stop by for a glass.

One of the tulips is popping up between the potted cyclamen. I’d forgotten all about it.  Otherwise, is sure looks like winter out there.  Brown, cold, dry, repeat.  Not a drop of rain in sight, either.  [heavy sigh]

Note to self: I hope no one interprets that heavy sigh as whining.

Gardening Nirvana reader. What’s happening?  How are you feeling? I’m so glad you stopped by.