Heaven Meets Hell on Fri-Yay Funday — Unique Times

Cindy and Gottfried created a story collaboration like nothing I’ve seen before online. It’s creative with both of their voices shining through from their different perspectives. Out of over 230 comments, most of their readers loved it, some objected to it on religious grounds, but few were silent.

I felt inspired by their style of writing together and I think it could catch on as a style of blogging or a challenge. The post reminded me of an English lesson I used to do with my students in which each student would start a story, and pass their story starter in a small group to their neighbor, who would add to it and pass it on. After four passes or so, the original writer had their story back. In Cindy’s case she and Gottfried passed it back and forth until the story ended.

Whether or not you liked the story, what did you think of the style? Do you have a friend that you could spar with on line? Thank you for sharing the link, Cindy.

Hi All, Welcome to Fri-Yay Funday Collab post When Heaven Meets Hell! Once every so often your path crosses with someone that you might never be friends with. You are from complete opposite sides of the coin, or are you? You can’t explain it but there is sheer delight in the irreverent, and light heartness […]

Heaven Meets Hell on Fri-Yay Funday — Unique Times

Get Squared Up for the New Year with Becky B.

I am so proud to introduce today the hostess of the Squares Photo Challenge, Becky B. of Becky of Winchester on my hobby blog, Always Write. I met Becky through my Photo Challenge friends, Cee Neuner of Cee’s Photo Challenges, and Terri Webster Schrandt of Second Wind Leisure last summer or early fall. I love the word games Becky B. plays with her photo challenges. She’s so popular with many of my readers that I was thrilled when she said, “YES,” to an interview.

What prompted you to begin to host a photo challenge? – Squares didn’t actually begin as a photo challenge! The very first one began because I need a focus for a month. I was still reeling from the death of my Dad, and with what would have been his birthday in September and a busy month for my first ever festival I wanted something to keep the blog alive and myself distracted. So Square in September was born, and within hours a few friendly bloggers decided to join in the fun. By the end of the month there were around a dozen joining me daily, and I realised there was potentially a great challenge in my hands. So Squares as a challenge was born! I must at this point shout out to a few other amazing bloggers who run challenges such as Debbie from Travel with Intent, Jude over at Cornwall in Colours, Restless Jo and her Monday Walks and the Queen of Challenges the incredible Cee. I have learnt so much from all of them and other great challenge hosts.

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it support photographers? – I hope to provide a friendly place where photographers can make new blogging friends and find inspiration as well as having the opportunity to share their photographs, thoughts and lives. By making it a requirement that every shot is square it levels out the playing field and so every photographer, whether brand new or experienced, faces the same challenge of creating a great photograph in a square. And it seems to be working as not only has my photography improved, but Squares has become a community. There are now between 50 to 75 bloggers taking part every week during the challenge month, and some of those have become great friends.

How long have you been hosting Becky’s Squares? Have you hosted other challenges? – Squares began in September 2017, and it takes place once a quarter. To date there have been 14 square challenges with the themes of flowers, sky, circles & squares, roofs, in the pink, time, spiky, blue, lines, words ending in light, top, perspectives, kinda and up. I have tried hosting other challenges, namely ‘Past Meets Present’ but as I host two blogs for myself as well as organising a major festival, managing website and multiple social media for a charity I volunteer for I now focus just hosting Squares.

How much time does it take from preparation to follow-up each week? Everyone’s challenges run differently. What steps do you take to get your challenge ready?  – ooh that’s a tough question! I guess each theme takes a few days or even weeks to be born, and then once I have decided upon it I have to start collating my own photographs. Prior to the pandemic I would decide themes months in advance and so I could easily take new photographs specially for the challenge as well as drawing upon the archives. In this new world however I tend to decide much nearer the time and need to dig deeper into my extensive photographic archives. Up to 6 weeks before the start of the challenge month I will share teasers and then an official announcement. Then a week or so before the challenge begins I will set aside a couple of days to prepare the photographs and then schedule every square post in advance. Occasionally the last few days won’t be scheduled until the end of the first week as I like to be inspired by everyone else’s fabulous squares. Everyone is so brilliant in fact that quite often once the challenge starts I will tweak posts or throw in new squares. Once the challenge starts I will spend up to 3hrs each day visiting other posts and responding to comments, and then there are my galleries. These have evolved over the years, but I now keep a record of every participant and my technique of creating prose for each one seems to have become a favourite for everyone. I have such fun collating the galleries, and the half day or so I spend on them is always a pleasure.

How did you attract people to participate rather than to just leave comments on your post? The trick it seems to me is to have a really simple challenge idea that just takes off on its own accord, however I admit it does help if some of the major league bloggers take part! Other things that seem to help is to connect with others both during and outside of your challenge, and this is best achieved by taking part in other challenges yourself and regularly leaving comments on other posts. I love taking part in other challenges so even when Squares is happening you will often find I am also taking part in others. 

Supermarket Views – The UP doesn’t have to mean the direction.

What do your participants say they like most about your challenge? What do you like most about hosting the challenge? It is an honour to host Squares; everyone is just so lovely. You’d probably have to ask all of them though why they like it. If I had to guess I suspect there are three possible reasons 1) there is only one rule your photograph has to be square, 2) it takes place for a whole month x4 per year and you can post as frequently or infrequently as you like, and 3) I collate a gallery so everyone can visit everyone else at least once.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021? Having the vaccine and being able to get out and explore again, and in particular meet up in person with some of my blogging friends and non-blogging friends. It has been so long since I saw them in person.

Do you have anything else to share? Tips for readers, advice for blogging? Take time to understand how your blogging tool (WordPress, Blog, SquareSpace etc) works, it will pay off in the long run, and most importantly have fun with your blog. Not only is it your voice, and a great creative outlet, it is a fabulous place to make friends.

Thank you again for joining me, Becky. I’m sure that my readers, many of whom are mutual friends, will love getting to know you better.

Becky’s Contact Information

BeckyB as in ‘Becky in Portugal‘ and ‘The Life of B‘Twitter – @BBWinch and @beckyinportugal
Instagram – @lifeofbb and @beckyinportugal

Other Photo Challenge Interviews

Looking for #WQWWC?

We moved yesterday. Our internet is now up, but I just rolled out of bed after a night with howling cats because they got scared in a new place. It sounded like a trip to the vet. I moved boxes and papers and cleared a space on my computer table to slide my computer in front of Vince’s.

Submitted for Becky B’s Square Up Challenge MESSED UP

I know it is one of those lame excuses.

Yvette from Priorhouse Blog agreed to host #WQWWC this week, and here is a link to her post yesterday. Like a numbskull, I didn’t announce it until my last post for Sunday Stills/Lens Artists Cee’s, Becky B’s and Colleen’s latest challenges. Thank you so much Yvette for hosting this week!!! Please post your replies and pingbacks on her blog this week.

To get started I have all the topics listed on my #Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays Writing Challenge page. This week’s topic is “Persistence” if you want to get a head start.

Autty Jade is my guest hostess next week. You will remember she hosted a few weeks ago about the topic, “New Beginnings.” Don’t forget to leave your comments and pingbacks on their blogs for today and next Wednesday.

Thank you for your love of quotes and writing. I’ll be visiting all the pingbacks, too. 🙂

#WQWWC Logo

See you back here on Always Write in two weeks. Thanks for joining us. 🙂

Puppy-Girl-Approved Reflection of 2020

Sunday Stills Challenge  

“Retrospective shows our year in words, photos, stories, and other creative endeavors. Share your good and bad, your best and worst, and what your hope is as 2021 begins.”

Terri Webster Schrandt

As strange as it was, it may have been one of the busiest year of our lives. I love what Terri said about the year in her challenge post talking about the game-changing done by COVID 19.

“…If this was a sci-fi movie, the plot would demonstrate the resilience of humanity as we navigate through these unprecedented times.” 

Terri Webster Schrandt

Lens-Artists Challenge #129 – Favorite Images of 2020

Tina Schell’s posts reminds me that I don’t need to be so wordy, I can just share my favorite pictures – even that would be 12 pictures, and I have way more than that to share. Donna had a great idea when she displayed her pictures and grouped several together by month.

Also Included Are:

This post is way too long. Take your time or skim, either way thank you for reading and being part of my Always Write Hobby Blogger Family this year. You are the some of the bright spots in my 2020 tapestry. It was a memorable year with the good and bad woven so tightly into the design that you couldn’t unravel it with the sharpest stitch remover.

January 2020

We brought 2020 in with a bang in Las Vegas with our blogging friends from Australia, Carol and Glen.

Las Vegas Fireworks welcoming in 2020

We only has a short time with them, but squeezed in a trip to Hoover Dam, sights on the strip on New Year’s Even, a trip to the pawn shop of the famous Pawn Stars, and downtown Las Vegas.

We drove home to California and had time for only about an hour in the Sequoia National Park.

Days after they left, I had my final surgery following nearly a year-long bout with breast cancer. Vince was scheduled for eye surgery for cataracts in February and Scardy, our 19-year old cat had successful surgery for nose cancer.

Marching along the timeline of life, you have no way of knowing the the line is going to break two months down the road. Looking back we are so grateful that we got all those medical issues out of the way when we did.

Vince finished building a walkway and bridge in the garden. Puppy Girl inspects all his work and gave her approval. This picture is in black and white for Cee’s Black and White Challenge Outside Your Home.

Bridge over no water at Bellavista, our home in Elderwood, CA

February – Supposed Alien

After his successful eye surgery, Vince and I took one last trip to Las Vegas in which we occupied our time hiking around the gorgeous Valley of Fire. This upstanding statue kept his feelings well hidden. Surely those tears did not come from a volcanic eruption!

March

On the night of our Woodlake Awards Banquet, before the pandemic officially started, we found out that two Kiwanians were quarantined with possible COVID-19. We were stunned, not just that they were sick, but that they were condemned to stay in their home for two weeks. Kiwanians stepped in to bring them food and groceries. Even so, I could not in my wildest dreams have foreseen what was coming. Within two weeks everyone holed up in their homes during the California Lock-Up.

Our son was supposed to visit us at the end of March and he called and canceled. I was shocked and a little perturbed at the time. It only seemed logical that if everyone stayed home for two weeks, the bug would get fed-up and die out.

I stayed home except to walk around Bravo Lake with my friend Sally until the pandemic blew over, which I assumed would be soon. Sally made us masks which I wore when I went out and eventually got used to breathing through it.

April – the Month of Hope

Hope evaporates
Like steam off a cup of tea
Yet life continued

Written for Tanka Tuesday Hope.

roses at Woodlake Rose Garden

May – Month of Mechanical Mess-ups

When our air conditioner died, it disrupted COVID-19 from first place upsets. Washing lettuce from our garden supplied most of our excitement and coolant during May.

cleaning lettuce for entertainment

I grew up in Indiana and then Oregon without an air conditioner. At a family reunion my seven-year-old self overheard an adult relative who shall remain nameless because I don’t have the slightest idea who said it, “Look at poor Marsha, she sweats just like her mother.”

I was upset at her insulting, though accurate diagnosis even though it was supposed to sound like sympathy.

Fast forward nearly 30 years when my first husband and I moved to California we lived in an adobe house with a swamp cooler in the hall ceiling outside the only bathroom. That was important because of my hair and the nature of swamp coolers, which blow hot wet air when the temperature rises over 90. My thin wisps whipped around my face into my eyes, stuck to my contacts and made me cry ruining my carefully applied makeup and my hairdo every time I left the bathroom.

I digressed to supply and explanation for how supremely important air conditioning is in my life. When the AC could not be replaced in a timely manner because of the COVID slow down, a couple of people suggested that we needed a swamp cooler. LOL

June – Month of Real Estate Transaction

Vince retired from real estate because of his bad hearing in January, but that did not stop the transactions. We sold a rental in March – a miracle we thought because of COVID-19. As it turned out COVID-19 had turned everyone into real estate tycoons including us. This was our second transaction – a replacement rental for my IRA account. It rented as soon as it was completed, and has been a blessing in our life.

New rental house in Visalia, CA

Food is always a priority on my list. Our air conditioner still wasn’t working as the weather heated up and the restaurants stayed closed because of COVID-19.

One of our best friends invited us over for dinner and air conditioning several times a week. One couple baked pizza on Wednesdays for pick-up and donated a large part of the proceeds to the Woodlake Food Pantry. June wasn’t euphoric, but it was a time of getting creative and grouping together to get through the crisis.

July – What Else Could Happen?

My blogging friend Terri Webster Schrandt actually came to our home in the short interim in which the air conditioner worked, and the flood hadn’t started. Even though a raccoon bit me in the middle of the night, I was raring to go on a photo journey the next day to Sequoia National Park.

Realtors, even retired ones, invest in real estate. Vince got a call from a builder friend of his asking if we would sell the vacant lot next to us. We had left the acre fallow for twenty years rather than one year every seven as the Old Testament required. At that rate it should be productive for another 140 years.

We sold the lot and the next Sunday Vince invited another realtor friend over to “look at” our house and update the estimate on how much it might be worth. She also listed the rental where Vince’s sister lived, and Cindy moved in with us.

In the meantime, I kept occupied blogging and taking in five of our neighbor’s 50+ feral cats in to the vet to be fixed. They came back missing part of an ear (and other parts, too). That’s how you can tell they are fixed. Another five we caught/trapped and carted off to new homes. That was not super successful.

Neighborhood Healthy Feral Cat Colony

August – More Mess-ups

Some of you have read these sad tales of our air conditioner flood before, so I won’t repeat them. All these catastrophes kept our minds off COVID-19.

Looking in through a window at our flooded room

By the end of August we had endured all the paper work of two more real estate transactions. Our upmost need was to find a place for Cindy and her stuff to live besides our tiny cabana. Vince still wanted to move to Prescott, AZ, so we embarked on our fifth transaction and bought a condo for Cindy – in Prescott. Good thing she wanted to move with us! Now we had to uproot!

September – Septic Upwelled – AGAIN!

You’ve read our cat stories of Snickerdoodle and Tex. They were untroubled by our turmoil. By September we were itching to move. Vince still wanted to get a few more things perfect before we listed the house, but our realtor Patty urged him not to wait to list the house. So we sold the house, our sixth transaction for the year, and then dealt with the septic problems.

Snickerdoodle above, Tex below, my sunglasses for perspective

October – Giddyup

On a more upbeat note, Patty and Jesse took the three of us to a Dave Stamey outdoor concert as a thank you for listing Cindy’s condo. We felt safe and joyful as we sat in family groups in the open air enjoying the famous cowboy poet. Here is a short video for your euphonic enjoyment.

Open Air Dave Stamey Fundraiser in Elderwood, CA

Another positive event of the month was the honor of hosting one of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contests.

November – Goodbye

“Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.”

Germany Kent
Last view of Bellavista, our house for nearly 20 years.

The garage sale was long over. The movers had loaded the last of our furniture and boxes. It was empty. I took pictures of every room, but no wall hugging pictures. I was alone and I don’t have long enough arms to do selfies.

Vince had gone the day before in a UHAUL with all of Cindy’s things.

Brave or stupid, Jesse agreed to drive Cindy to Prescott in her car and they left early in the morning as the movers arrived. I have never been more grateful to anyone in my life. But the dangers of COVID-19 still raged in our county as they flame now in Arizona. Like Patty and I, they traveled nine hours in a car together and I believe that God kept them both safe.

I said goodbye to our home of nearly twenty years and went three miles up the road where the animals and I spent the night at Sally and Mike’s Bed and Breakfast, Running P Ranch. Smart move!

December – New Beginnings

Bridge at Tanglewood Hills Cindy’s new home

My life if full of new beginnings now. Besides the fact that I am in a new place, one of the tools that has kept me sane and healthy over the last 9 months is blogging.

The series of interviews of so many blogging challenges on the web got me started with a purpose for my blog. By supporting challenges I can share my photos and my stories, meet friends, and have fun.

The series ran its course and then Story Chat sprang up with Hugh Roberts’ The People Under the Stairs. What fun that has been! In less than two weeks you will read “A Postcard from the Past” by Anne Goodwin.

Because of the interview with Colleen Chesebro, I started learning and using poetry in my writing. I’ve met so many interesting people through her blog. She invited me to restart one of her challenges, Writers Quotes Wednesdays Writer’s Challenge, #WQWWC.

Another interviewee, Yvette Prior honored me with an interview. Next week Yvette will host the #WQWWC topic “Persistence” on Priorblog. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about it. Please join in on her blog next week. I will post a response to her challenge right along with you, and will visit your responses along with her.

Searching for shapes at Willow Lake in Prescott, AZ.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long post. Please visit some of the other participants when you visit Sunday Stills, Lens Artists, Cee’s Fun Fotos Challenge, and Becky B’s Square Up as well as Tanka Tuesday. And don’t forget to check out #WQWWC on Priorblog next Wednesday.

#WQWWC: Setting Goals for a Successful Life

#WQWWC #6 Goals

“The thing about goals is that living without them is a lot more fun, in the short run. It seems to me, though, that the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact… those people have goals.”

Seth Godin

What is fun anyway? The people I love and admire have fun doing worthwhile things and making their community a pace you would want to live. I want to be one of those people who gets things done, leads, grows and makes an impact for the rest of my life. Don’t you?

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

Mark Victor Hansen

Where do you record your dreams and goals – In your blog, your journal? I recorded my lifelong goal to be a teacher in my journal. Each opportunity that came up to move me toward that goal, I took even when it meant a hardship financially or a fight to take the step. 

“It’s important to set your own goals and work hard to achieve them.”

Yuichiro Miura

As an eighth grader, my goal in life was to finish college and teach. Yet, I dropped out of college when my funds ran out. My dad had not prepared to pay for three years of college when my scholarship ran out, and offered to pay for me to attend a 5 month course in dental assisting instead. I was nearly 19 by this time and felt desperate and OLD. Even though the sight of blood in a black and white movie made me queasy, I became a dental assistant.

After drifting in and out of a variety jobs in my twenties, I wanted to get back to my life goal. 

Our pastor told me I would not make a good teacher because my spiritual gift was encouraging, not teaching. My first husband told me that I needed to be a teacher before I could go back to school. I told him that was impossible, and I thought it was. Becoming a teacher was still a goal I wrote in my journal.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

Pablo Picasso

The only possible way to teach as a profession is with a degree. Defeated, I couldn’t see a way to get to college. We were poor and my husband had a genetic disease that took both his and his sister’s lives at early ages.

When my life was at its lowest, I had lost my job as a dental assistant in the small town where we lived, my best friend invited me to take some graduate education classes with her that she needed to renew her teaching credential. It was not expensive to audit the classes and my husband agreed. 

She invited me to work as a volunteer aide in her kindergarten class. I was thrilled when she invited me to teach a kindergarten class the next year in our church school. The pay was $350 a month, when the funds were there. It was enough to meet my husband’s stipulation for going to college. To me it represented a miracle. I took the next steps to becoming an elementary teacher. 

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”

Bill Copeland

Most of the goals during my thirties and forties focused on achieving the credentials to practice a profession – teaching and then consulting and administration, and remarrying the wonderful man who is now my husband of twenty-five years. I grew in my profession, and never again filled my life with meaningless and unfulfilling jobs. I quit running up and down the field without scoring.

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”

Earl Nightingale

I loved education with all my heart, and when I retired, I set most of what I did aside to build a new life. That’s when I started blogging and it has been a life-changing hobby. My overarching goals were to write and give back to the community that gave me so much. My goals have been much more short-termed, some even could be classified as tasks. Admittedly, in my search for worthwhile goals, I gave up many times on what I thought were goals. 

“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.”

Michael Korda

We’re starting over AGAIN!

We sold nearly everything and downsized to an adorable condo in Prescott, AZ. We hope to move in this week.

This past month, we accomplished my husband’s twenty-five-year-old dream of living in Arizona – talk about a patient and persistent man. Once I agreed, we set goals and tasks. Before we made the commitment we had a vague notion that we might move SOMEWHERE in three to five years – that was eight years ago.

Once we committed to WHERE we wanted to move, he became a driven man, and we had daily goal and task setting meetings to make sure all the details got done in a timely manner. It was hard work, sad, sad, sad to leave the people we love. On the other hand, it was exhilarating to accomplish so much. If I talk about this too much, forgive me. I’m still amazed that we did it!

Yesterday we achieved the goal of walking across Lake Wilson, and climbing a granite dell. We did it one white dot at a time. I was scared to death and none too nimble, but it felt great – when we got back on solid ground!

SMART Goals

While my husband and I walked around Wilson Lake, we set what we in education call SMART goals. Here is one of our SMART Goals for the year.

  • Specific – Walk together 15 miles a week for the rest of the year.
  • Measurable – 35,355 steps per week
  • Attainable – 7,071 steps a day, five days a week.
  • Relevant – It’s important to stay fit. I need to lose weight so hopefully I don’t produce so much estrogen (produced in fat) Estrogen fueled the breast cancer I had removed last year. I don’t need a repeat experience . Vince and I will have a chance to chat uninterrupted for about an hour – WOW! There are lots of beautiful places to explore.- yes very relevant
  • Time-bound – One year

Conclusion

In summary, I believe that God allows us to set goals for ourselves rather than trusting our lives to fate and the backlash of circumstances. My life has been directed by goals and inspired and protected by God. Sometimes goals are wrong for us, they might not be our goals, but belong to someone else. That doesn’t mean we can’t help them along the way, but they probably won’t drive our lives until we make them our life’s passion. Goals motivate me not to waste my life and make me feel that each day has meaning.

So what about you?

What inspiration do you draw from quotes about goals? What do you want to do this year? How do you feel about setting goals? Do they hamper or help you, inspire or discourage you? Do you have an overarching driving goal for yourself? Do you have a goal for someone else? – That’s another story altogether, isn’t it? 

Respond to any or all of these quotes, or find some quotes of your own. Let your experiences lead you. There is no word limit on your blog post. Write a post on your blog and don’t forget to link back to my blog so I can find your blog and visit. Not sure how to do that? See how to create pingbacks here

If you would like your response to a quote published next week, please limit it to 99 words, Carrot-Ranch-style and enter it on the form below.

Thank You

Thanks to the people last week who joined us on my friend, Autumn Jade’s blog.

Comments?

Talk to me. You are my friends, my very life’s blood as we seek greater, worthwhile goals to fill the days of our lives and make them bright with promise and purpose.