Sentimental Saturday #1

Well, another holiday season has come and gone. My fake Christmas tree returned to the basement early this afternoon. I almost didn’t put it up this year. We didn’t do Christmas.

My oldest son lost his job the day after Thanksgiving so black Friday had a different meaning for us this year. He ended up with no health insurance for a few months, and he’s a Type 1 (insulin-dependent) Diabetic. That made things a little scary around our house. I had to hang onto any extra cash I had (in case he needed financial help) so there were no gifts from Santa under our tree this year.

I try not to be materialistic, but having nothing to open Christmas morning really sucked. Much more than I thought it would. It was a depressing holiday.

I enjoyed the tree once we put it up (Hubby insisted we do so). It always looks pretty, and it’s covered with ornaments I made with my mother or that my boys made when they were small. It’s always a walk down memory lane, but yes, I was also glad to see it go this year. Ha! I just realized when I looked for a picture of this year’s tree that I don’t have one of it fully decorated. I took a picture when it was just covered with lights, and I was certain I was going to just leave it that way. It sat this way for several days before we put ornaments on. So here’s a picture of it unadorned with nothing but lights.

Things are starting to look up around here. My oldest son should be starting a new job soon. He’s just waiting to hear on whether or not he’s passed the physical exam. He’s also had several other interviews. He’s receiving unemployment, and he’s signed up for the Affordable Care health coverage. That was a huge relief off of Mom’s shoulders, let me tell you.

So we’ll let this holiday season slip by. They don’t have to all be stellar.

What I Learned About Popularity

When I wrote yesterday’s post on popularity, I wasn’t expecting the results that I got. I guess I should’ve known that the WordPress community would surprise me. Things just kind-of exploded, and it made for an interesting day.

The post (after 18+ hours) has 31 likes. Previous posts this week had 13, 9, 4, 6, 7, 10, 4, 2 and 13 likes. I attribute quite a bit of the traffic to reblogs from blogs with a much larger fan base than mine. I thank everyone for the support, suggestions and attention.

supportGiven all the comments I received, I wanted to share some of the ones that resonated with me.

Some important things I learned from yesterday’s post:

  1. Find like-minded blogs and build a core group. If you have shared interests, you will be more likely to comment on what others are posting. That will facilitate building a community of supporters and friends to share ideas;
  1. Make sure to comment on posts that you like. This increases your visibility. When commenting on posts, check out what the other commenters are saying. I liked the writing style of one commenter recently (he was really funny) so I went to his blog to check out his regular posts. I now have a new blogger to follow. This helps you to branch out and find others;
  1. Try to find an area of focus. I feel this is important for me because I tend to want to do it all and jump around in what I’m posting. The areas that are most important to me are photography (nature and wildlife), book reviews (because I read obsessively), and creative writing (because I like to capture my thoughts and ideas, and sharing my scribblings in my blog seems natural and easy to do); and
  1. Go back through old posts and find some you might want to re-post. I liked this idea a lot. The suggestion was to go back through old posts made before newer followers came along. Either clean up posts that didn’t work and re-post them or re-post ones that did work. Chances are they will get more interest the second time around. I have some posts I migrated over from Blogger. I need to wade through those to see if anything is worth a re-try.

I’ve done some other cleanup this weekend, too. I cleaned up the blog’s side bar to get rid of the clutter, I removed one of the pages across the top, and after I’d fussed with the color scheme, I set it back to something that was easier on the eyes. I love a dark background and white text, but it was harder to see and read.

One other suggestion I received was to end posts with a question. I’m not sure how to naturally flow into a question, but I’d be interested on thoughts about that. Does ending with a question successfully promote comments?

Image courtesy of Pinterest




Writer’s Group – First Meeting

That was interesting. It was also fun. I do have to admit that I felt like a bit of a fraud. I was in over my head. It was a group of approximately 10 people (if you count me, I believe there were 7 women and 3 men present). They were all older people. I was nervous, but I had it under control. The worst part was when I had to talk about myself (of course). I expected that, though.

They all knew who they were (as writers). Not all are published, but they had all written more than I have. One lady in particular was fairly successful – she’s written and published enough books to have purchased a second home in Florida on the waterfront where she spends half of her year.

I joined as a member, but I do feel a little out of my depth, and it wasn’t just the nerves taking over. I couldn’t really identify what it is that I write (or want to write) – it’s too much of an abstract for me yet. I will return for future meetings, and I really wanted to volunteer for something or contribute in a bigger way, but I don’t have enough experience yet. My hope is that I can learn from these nice people and maybe soak something up through osmosis.

surroundThe next meeting is what they call a critique meeting – there is no actual meeting; they just review each other’s writing samples. Unless I can write a lot more between now and then, I’m not sure I’ll go to that one, but we shall see. I’ve connected with some of them online, and I’ve signed up for various suggested newsletters, blogs and information.

In terms of my writing, I keep wondering if I should just write, or if I need to learn how to do it better first. There’s so much information out there on how to craft this and that, but most of it just serves to make me doubt myself more. Perhaps I should just write and then worry about making it perfect later on when I edit. I really want to do this. I just didn’t realize it was so hard.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

A to Z Blog Challenge – X is for Xavier


Xavier moved down the hallway towards the Crowley apartment, ready to start the week and his shift as an aide working with Mr. Webb, Mrs. Crowley’s father. He had been working in this location for a few months now, and he liked this assignment. Mr. Webb was an older man with Alzheimer’s. While he had at first needed an aide to make sure he did not wander as dementia patients sometimes do, he had lately begun to require an aide to assist more with his daily self-care and maintenance. Xavier found Barney Webb easy to work with.

He rang the bell, and he heard Mrs. Crowley call out, “Dad, Xavier is here!”

He smiled as she opened the door.

“Good morning, Xavier!” she grinned, “Am I glad to see you.”

“Is he having a bad morning?” Xavier asked, putting down his backpack to follow her down the hallway towards Barney’s room.

“Not bad,” she shrugged, “He’s just being a little uncooperative.”

Xavier found Barney still in bed, staring at the wall.

“Hey!” Xavier called out, in a cheerful, teasing tone, “What’s going on here? Why are you still lying about in bed at this hour?”

Barney turned to look at him, and Xavier was pleased to see a smile tugging at the corner of Mr. Webb’s mouth.

“Come on, now,” Xavier cajoled him, “Let’s see how fast we can get you washed up and dressed. I think I smell pancakes!”

Chloe smiled in appreciation. She gazed fondly at her father, and Xavier was sure she winked at him, too, as she turned to go back to the kitchen to finish making breakfast. Xavier bent down to help Barney sit up, and he gently helped him begin the process of getting up and ready to face the day.

During the afternoon, Xavier and Barney headed outside for the park. They walked up and down for a bit so that Barney could get some exercise, and then they sat on the bench watching the birds for a while. It was a fairly quiet day until they saw Annelise approaching.

“Grandpa Barney,” she said, happily, giving him a hug, “Hi, Xavier!”

“Hello, Annelise,” Xavier said.

“I brought my painting,” she said, unfolding the rolled up paper she was holding. “I brought it home from school. It’s you, Grandpa Barney. See? You are sitting here on the bench, and there are the flowers and the trees.”

Barney smiled and turned to look at Xavier.

“No, I’m not in the picture,” Xavier smiled, “It’s very nice, isn’t it?”

Barney smiled and touched the picture.

“I think he likes it,” Xavier told Annelise.

“I want him to have it,” she said, “Can you ask Chloe to hang it on his wall?”

“I surely will,” Xavier promised her.

Later when he took Barney back inside, the first thing they did was hang Annelise’s painting on Barney’s bedroom wall. When Xavier left that afternoon, Barney was sitting in the chair in his room, gazing at the painting on his wall.

Image courtesy of Pinterest