please visit…#2

My ongoing challenge to you, dear readers, will be to “please visit” other blogs in the WordPress community. There are literally millions of others whose voices want to be heard. I can’t guarantee you’ll love all that you “hear.” But they will definitely broaden your outlooks, as they’ve already begun to enlarge and in many cases, enhance, mine.

One of the better advantages of the internet, I find, is the capacity to meet people I would otherwise never know. Not only that, but be allowed inside their private world, be privvy to their innermost thoughts, probably be told things that not even those they hold dearest and nearest know. It’s mind-blowing, if you think of it.

Mark Zuckerberg at South by Southwest in 2008.

Image via Wikipedia

Which came first, blogging or facebooking? I don’t know, but they both serve a great purpose, social networking. Although I’m not an avid Facebooker, since blogging occupies the majority of my computer time, there’s no denying that Facebook has risen to the top of the ranks in social influence. Its millions of users are able to change the course of history with a click of their computer keys. Who knew that it would be a global power player? Maybe Mark Zuckerberg had the tiniest inkling when he founded the media Goliath.

A man wearing a tin foil hat

Image via Wikipedia

But my ramblings about social networking are to largely encourage you to visit 3 sites I’ve recently discovered. Beyond a small introduction, I’ll let you discern more about the bloggers for yourselves. “Ramblings of an Emmett” is a single mom’s adventure. She writes from the heart, and shares moments of joy, as well as frustrations. A recent post about her dad resonated with me. “Haleywhitehall” writes beautifully of sweet remiscences. There’s a light and airy feel to her blog. I don’t recollect that she rants about causes, as I’m oft inclined to do. And finally, “Beneath the Tin Foil Hat,” which I’ve just now discovered is poised to take on any ultra-conservatives among you. He makes no bones about being a liberal, probably as left-wing as he can get. I can sense a big heart beneath his brawn. He and I agreed that the current NFL-management money brouhaha is much ado about greed. As I’ve said before, athletes like professional dancers, get paid “peanuts” by comparison, but show up for work every day because of their passion for their job. I wonder if these over-paid, over-coddled, self-aborbed football players would perform for “peanuts,” for the love of the game? What do you think?

go become a “site-seer”…notice my new gizmo in the right side bar of my blog…it’s still getting “up to speed”…hugmamma.

“blog buddies,” getting it…finally

Figuring out how “blog buddies” works has been a bit of a mystery. But I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. It seems to be a matter of finding bloggers with whom I share common interests, and once found, trying to establish continuing dialogue. I’ve begun doing that with a couple of sites, by growing the conversation. It’s not easy keeping several conversations going at the same time. But it is fun, once you begin. I’m sure I’ll find the technical components that make it easier to check in with everyone, without having to click in all the time. Takes me a little bit, but I eventually manage. Good exercise for growing brain cells, and staving off Alzheimer’s.

The first blogger who taught me about being a blog buddy was Scriptor Obscura. A knowledgeable techy, she was the first to leave regular comments and “likes” on my posts. I was very touched when she asked to run some of them on her blog. She allowed me to decide which they should be, but I left the decision with her, emailing those she “liked.” Not all mind you, I didn’t want to overrun her site. As passionate as me about causes, Scriptor Obscura minces no words in her support of issues. A person less than half my age, I admire her conviction to promote compassion for those less fortunate.

Another blogger with whom I’ve begun a conversation is jeanne’s blog. I just learned that she and I share a love of antiques, hunting them down, owning, and cherishing great finds. Her blog’s photo header displays 2 adorable lhasa apsos or shitzus, not sure which. I had a shitzu, years ago, named Sushi. She was the sweetest, smallest dog. Loved her to pieces. Jeanne’s gardens are lovely, like an oasis. Mine will be, once the last dregs of winter pull up stakes and leave. She also shares recipes, which shows a love of cooking, another interest of mine. She’s gotten me started doing book reviews. And the lady has a compassionate spirit, as is demonstrated in inspirational messages she posts.

Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The Daily Dabbler is another blog with whom I’ve begun another conversation. It’s centered around crafting, a shared interest of ours. Both dabblers in creating things, I think we both realize making a living at it is best left to the professionals, not amateurs like ourselves. Nonetheless it’s fun to check out the creative offerings on ETSY, where all manner of beautiful crafts are sold.

My French friend has shared so much of herself in my interviews with My English Thoughts. Besides our love of travel, though we’ve both not the kind of time or money to globe trot, we have the commonality of the theatre, where she works, and my daughter performs. I can understand the trials and tribulations she must endure in such a unique occupation, because of those my daughter herself has endured. But I’m sure they would both say that there’s also something magical about the stage, especially behind-the-scenes. What’s also captivating about Isa is her simplicity. She seems to “go with the flow,” dealing with life as it presents itself. At this stage in my life, taking life as it comes is less stressful. My friend from France has learned it at a young age. Kudos to her!

I’m getting to know other bloggers as well. Random Thoughts from Mid-Life speaks my language, although much better, I think. An excellent writer who expresses herself so clearly, with seeming understatement. By contrast, I think my words explode on the page. But we’re different people, with different messages. Learning from others is always good, great in fact. And I’ve a lot to learn.

Space Buddies

Image via Wikipedia

Pet lovers such as those who blog at The (mis)Adventures of Sage, and Lifewith4cats remind me of my own four-legged family, and how much joy they bring their human family. Never underestimate the healing power of animals. They give so much of themselves, asking so little in return. And they get me up and exercising, even when I’d rather be lazy and blogging. A walk with Mocha, or running down the hallway with Sitka and Juneau, or crouching on all fours to stroke Sunkist, remind me that I too need to move about to keep my joints oiled. And how they make me laugh, watching some of their antics. ha, ha.

So I take my hat off to all who’ve nurtured their own communities of blog buddies. It’s an art form which when begun, takes thought and effort to maintain. But the rewards of connecting with like souls is immeasurable. I encourage you to visit these blogs mentioned above, and I’ll let you know of other blog buddies with whom I start a dialogue.

writing is fun…sharing with others enhances the enjoyment…hugmamma. 

decorating tip, “change it up”

Growing up, our family never bought a stick of furniture. Everything was a hand-me-down, or a thrift shop leftover. Needless to say nothing matched. Since one of my Saturday chores was housecleaning, I taught myself to meld what most might consider junk. I didn’t know it then, but my passion for antiques and vintage collectibles probably grew out of necessity. Overstuffed armchairs, a long sofa with missing springs, a vintage, stand-alone radio whose flat top displayed religious articles, along with an assortment of odd pieces was my introduction to decorating. Each time I swept and dusted, I also rearranged the furnishings, even if it was just a nudge here and there. I continued this practice during my stint in retailing, during and after college. As a sales clerk and then a department manager, I was advised to “change things up” regularly. Customers would perceive that the store was constantly bringing in new merchandise, when in fact it wasn’t. To this day I redo my rented space in an antique mall, which always derives compliments from management and customers alike. Reworking the space freshens the look, and casts each item in a new light. It also helps with the “bottom line,” sales.

My house undergoes the same rearranging, more so in the past than now. Older age brings contentment with the status quo. Forty years of housekeeping will do that. “Been there, done that!” However friends and family will attest to the fact that the holidays consume my time and energy as I transform my home into a wonderland. For Halloween and Christmas my stored treasures are retrieved from the garage and incorporated into my furnishings. As in bygone days I have fun blending furnishings, with seasonal decor. Rather than relegate normal household items to the bins from whence the ornaments, wreaths, and garlands came, I intermingle all to enhance every room, including the bathrooms. I usually “pull out all the stops” for the holidays, because it always gets a jaw-dropping reaction. There are drawbacks, however.

It usually takes me 2 weeks of cleaning and decorating, to dress 5 or 6 medium-sized trees for display in various rooms, to hang garlands with ornaments atop cupboards, to create elaborate centerpieces for the kitchen island and dining room table, to configure a unique vintage vignette across the fireplace mantel. And that’s only a sampling of the holiday facelift. THEN there’s the dismantling, not done until April the last couple of years. Having taken so long to arrange, I’m in no hurry to destroy my masterpiece. Luckily my husband enjoys my creativity, or else he’s a saint for humoring my eccentricities. Probably a little of both. Friends don’t mind either. They enjoy a prolonged Christmas, especially when it’s in my house, not theirs.

So while visiting with my daughter, it’s fun for me to redo her apartment. Physically and mentally spent at day’s end,  learning and dancing new choreography, she is only too happy to let me “have at it.” She enjoys her mismatched furnishings, bistro table and chairs from Pier 1, ottoman from Bed, Bath and Beyond, long, antique dresser serving as a side table, antique Queen Anne side chair in need of reupholstering, vintage corner cupboard in a pretty, muted yellow. My daughter has grown up with my eclectic taste, and passion for vintage and antique furnishings. And we both love a good bargain, so Target is always one of  the stops when we’re out shopping for something new.

Well I’m off to perform some “magic” on my daughter’s apartment. Will chat again later. Enjoy all the moments of your day…

hugs of energy, as you go about your day…hugmamma.

in the moment, “live-life-large”

In one of our many chats, my daughter spoke of the guest who has been assisting with company rehearsals for the ballet, Swan Lake. When the woman was younger, she danced with another company and had performed the lead roles of Odette, the white swan and Odile, the black swan. Throughout her coaching, she has earned the respect and admiration of all the dancers, including my daughter, who has often remarked that the woman could still perform the leads in Swan Lake despite her age. “She’s still technically strong and artistically beautiful.” One day during morning ballet class, she advised the dancers that they should work “in the moment,” focusing upon the step they were doing, not the one before, nor the one after. She also explained that they should immerse themselves completely in a role, so that when they’re done they can put the performance behind them, knowing they did their best. My daughter felt this was very sound advice, as did I.

The life of a ballet dancer seems the perfect metaphor for living life. Find one’s passion, be disciplined in working toward achieving a goal, be flexible in allowing for “detours” that will undoubtedly occur, formulate new resolutions accordingly, relish the journey for its as important as the “pot-of-gold” at the end of the rainbow. If the “pot” is not reached, the trip will still have been worthwhile because of the “nuggets” gathered along the way.

I try to “live-life-large” in the moment, savoring it with all 5 senses. Some days I’m more successful than others. I try not to think of what I might have done better in the past, or what I might accomplish in the future. If I’m blogging then I focus upon the subject at hand, bringing all my thoughts to bear. When I’m cooking, I’m Julia Child celebrating food with abandon. As housekeeper I’m my mother’s daughter, cleaning every nook and cranny with determination. When out walking Mocha, she sets the pace, sniffing every blade of grass, running freely through ground cover up to her chest or low-lying bushes, where she often does her business. When Sitka or Juneau decide to use my lap, I’ve learned to sit-a-spell reveling in their contented purrs. When I crawl into bed, usually in the wee hours of the morning, I’m grateful to have had another day of  good health, for it enabled me to “live-life-large” in the moment.

Outstanding adults who influence my daughter for the better are  a gift. She will have them in her life to reinforce the values with which she has been raised. At 24, my husband and I are no longer the center of her world, nor should we be. She is already striving to “live-life-large” in the moment, gathering “pearls of wisdom” as she  matures.

hugs for living “big”, in the moment…hugmamma.

the internet, friend or foe?

Among other books of lighter fare, I’m beginning to read “What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains – The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr. On the inside jacket Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe, challenges, “Nicholas Carr has written an important and timely book. See if you can stay off the Web long enough to read it!” I have to admit now that blogging has become a “part-time job,” I may find it difficult to finish the 276 pages of technical information. I’m hoping it reads like a bio, the central character being the internet user, me and you. As with other revolutionary inventions of the industrial age, like TV, I will probably rationalize using the “beast” that threatens to take control of my life.

 But if it’s already been unleashed, like Pandora’s Box, can the internet be returned from whence it came? Probably not. But can this Frankenstein be controlled? Or is the monster free to do evil, along with the good it was intended for? Do inventors ever look past the perceived  immediate need, to what injurious consequences might be wrought upon humankind?

Again on the inside jacket of Carr’s book the question is posed “Is Google making us stupid?”  It’s followed by this paragraph “When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?”

I have taken to blogging because of my passion for writing. I’ve tried, albeit half-heartedly, to get published in non-mainstream print media, as well as online, to no avail. Rightly or wrongly, my desire to have my voice “heard” motivated me to blog. Judging from my oft lengthy “dissertations,” you can see that my attention to detail involves more than superficial thinking. And so it begins, … my attempt to rationalize using the internet.

You, dear reader, have been with me since the start of my internet journey so, in a way, you are complicit in my “crime,” i.e. my use of the “beast.” What say you in our defense? It’s use for all the small things that give quality to our lives must count for something?! I’m certain you’ll agree that searching for medical answers, support comfort when a child dies, discounted products in the current economy, are viable reasons to keep the internet going. Or am I again trying to rationalize too much? But what else can we do?

Your opinions on the subject are appreciated. The internet has impacted our lives beyond imagination. But did we sacrifice too much in our rush to deify it? Your thoughts?

are we beyond deep thinking?…hugmamma.

eclipse, the twilight saga

Saw the latest installment of the much hyped vampire series, The Twilight Saga. Eclipse did not disappoint, unlike its predecessors. Twilight and New Moon were not as appealing because the actors seemed stilted in their conversations and movements. They projected as teenagers who don’t want the world to know their true thoughts and feelings, very different from their counterparts in reality TV. Viewers know only too well what they’re about, TMI (“too much information”, as explained by my daughter).

Robert Pattinson as a vampire, Taylor Lautner as a wolf, and Kristin Stewart as their human love interest were more engaging in this, the final episode. All 3 seemed to have matured since they were last on the big screen. Their complex love triangle assumed more depth. There seemed a real possibility that Bella could be in  love with both Edward and Jacob. I wondered if the story would end in a menage a trois. I’ll have to wait and see the final, final episode. Yes, it’s a two parter.

Pattinson’s handsome face, chiseled like a Greek god’s, seemed less overwhelming, while  Lautner looked less like a high school star athlete, and more like a man. Eclipse seemed less focused upon capturing their obvious traits, Pattinson’s brooding glare and Lautner’s 6-pack, bronze abs. More filming from the neck up meant they needed to express their emotions more fully, more genuinely. Tears welled in their eyes as they spoke with angry passion or loving comfort. There were tender moments, humorous asides, and fiery encounters. The teenagers who began the journey had evolved into young adults, finally comfortable in their own skins, whatever their composition.

Leaving the theater, I announced to my daughter that, for her sake, I’d see Eclipse a second time. I’m a fan of seeing performances more than once, as I like to do when my daughter dances. The first time unleashes a floodgate of sights and sounds which overtake  my senses. (Back from exchanging bear hugs with Juneau, my other Maine Coone, mixed-breed.) Subsequent views allow me to dissect a performance, so that I become aware of details that I’d not noticed before. I leave the theater with a greater appreciation or better understanding of someone or something. I may confirm an opinion, or have a change of heart.

It’s undeniable that the casting net trolled for only the gorgeous among us. Pattinson, Lautner and Stewart are easy on the eyes, as are the other actors. Would we be as attracted to ugly vampires and wolves? Perhaps if we were paying to see a sci-fi thrillerBut The Twilight Saga is fantasy, and we want fantastic, not scary, looking creatures.

If you want to feast on “eye candy,” first love, gorgeous vampires and hunky wolves, then I suggest you “fly like a bat outta…” 

and see Eclipse  …hugmamma.