Welcome to Small Reflections

"Nothing is ever achieved without enthusiasm."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Duck photo source: Lisa's Chaos
I hope you enjoy your visit. If you're looking for something specific, check out the links to posts by category in my sidebar and down a ways. They'll assist with tracking down different types of posts found on each of my three blogs. You might also enjoy checking out the other sites: Sacred Ruminations, Blog Rolls, Bling & Blurbs, and Happily Retired Gal.

I hope you'll look around & leave comments
then visit me at my new blog ...

Giraffe Journal

and/or website ... Labyrinth Journal
both self-hosted at WordPress
where I publish as myself
rather than under a

I've not had much time for posting or blog visits, but if you're interested I hope you'll find time to check out my new blog, Giraffe Journal or my Labyrinth Journal website ... both self hosted at WordPress.

Thanks for your visit and have a delightful day ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Monday, December 31, 2007

I've revisited the past ten weeks this morning, and it's time to Thank My Blogging Buddies

As 2007 draws to a close, I'm looking back on the year ... mostly thinking about the changes. Today begins my 10th week as a Blogger. My first post entitled Beginnings, bears the date October 22nd and visually appears unique because I wrote it in Word and pasted it into the editor of Small Reflections because I didn't know how to do anything else. I'd never LOOKED at a blog before (my Taos Writer's Retreat friend) Kara's phone call the previous week. She provided some "guided practice" in that call, walking me through the Blogosphere with links she'd emailed ... offering a glimpse into this alternative reality I found intriguing enough to enter. With Santa Ana winds blowing and multiple fires burning out of control all over Southern California, I entered this "virtual world" ... hesitantly.

Kara left a congratulatory comment, but a virtual stranger named Joy found and commented on that 1st post ... offering me her encouragement and promising to return. How could I not post again? My next two posts, although published by me on the 23rd and 24th, bear the same date as my 1st one because I created them on that day while wandering the Blogosphere and experimenting with what I encountered. Answering questions on other blogs provided me with HTML code to copy and paste on my own, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to try doing so ... hence the "Could this be me?" and "What Time of Day are You?" posts.

My friend Jackie, traveling in an RV with her husband, commented on the 3rd post ... but no one other than me commented on #2. Lucy left a comment there a few weeks later
on November 11th after finding my blog and looking around a bit.
I had trouble with "dates" for a while and understand it's possible to modify them after the fact, but I've not tried that yet anyway.

Joy found me again on the 26th as I introduced Molly and Ms. Kitty ... experimenting with inserting photos into posts. My friend Carol, also on the road with her husband, found and commented on the collage of Molly ... (later I gave equal time to Ms. Kitty). Joy discovered my first really successful photo upload, the one I'd been trying to add since the beginning, and reminded me that "baby steps" lead to success. The next day I shared two more photos from the Mabel Dodge Luhan House with details about my Writer's
Retreat experience there and Karen left her first of MANY comments.

My 1st "visual scribble" resulted in a veritable deluge of comments and led to others like it later on, in addition to "outing" my true identity. Who knew that when clicked on these signed images enlarged enough to be come legible? Certainly not me! Just as with leaving my recent "cry for help" post just days ago, temptation was great to removed them and remain "a nonny mouse" storyteller (with a lower case "s" on purpose), but I took the high road and left them in place ... adding #2 here, #3 here, #4 here, and an "authentic gra
phic piece" from my framed collection here with a left-brained linear transcription here.

Annie found me on November 6th and introduced me to Google Reader, simplifying my blog reading immensely ... though I did have to learn the hard way not to bite off more than I could chew. As I visited blogs and encountered posts of interest, the teacher-in-me had to share ... so I learned to create what I've since learned are called "love-links" and leave them scattered throughout my own posts because I realize not everyone has the kind of available time that I do as a young-at heart & "happily retired" individual. No one has to click on any of them, but I offer them an invitations to those with time and interest ... much as I'm doing with "my own past" in this post.

Not long ago I happened upon another Storyteller (she uses a capital "S" however) named Amy Jane who has created a series of links in her sidebar to "introductory pieces" about herself, and when she visited here ... she asked if I could point her
to some about myself. Doing so was tedious, challenging and time consuming. I suspect part of my motivation for including so many links in THIS post is due to her request. In the future I can provide a single link in answer to such a question, and others can read as much or as little as they choose about me depending on what interests them.

That reminds me about memes, hoopla, and Lucy's alliterative game. I've done the following:
1. posted 7 Random Things About Myself
2. published 5 T-13s (#1 on authors and books worth sharing with young children, #2 a random list of things I'd do if I knew I couldn't fail, #3 on Ice, #4 a list of quotes I find inspiring, and #5 links to video clips by Straight No Chaser - a unique & entertaining A'capella singing group from Indiana University)
3. shared Christmas Hoopla
4. posted my Playful Ps and Varied Vs with Verse as per Lucy's encouragement
5. written of Five Really Good Things here and here.

I've been serious, reflective, grateful, and playful with my postings (among other things). I did an (as yet) incomplete serie
s on the slow, challenging, tedious transformation of my front yard in 2006 with photo illustrations: parts one, two, three, and four are posted with additional posts to come. While other bloggers posted photos of snowy weather, I shared what Santa Ana winds leave in their wake here and here ... and what gentle rain looks like in Southern California. Mary designed and shared a lovely award for my Christmas Carol Quiz and introduced me to Blingee where I learned to add snowy effects.

I completed NaBloPoMo (30 posts in 30 days during November) on both my blogs and made many new blogging friends in the process including (but not limited to) Sandy, Melissa, and Eve. Then I joined Holidailies (31 posts in 31 days during December) and met John who along with Peajay, Joy, Karen, and Mary solved the Christmas Carol Quiz. Now Sandy has convinced me to participate in the Blog 365 challenge. If you didn't know it before reading this, you must realize by now that I'm more than a bit obsessive and perhaps compulsive as well. According to my Archives, this will be post #75 published on my 71st day as a blogger, so Blog 365 just could be a piece of cake! LOL

So ... we've arrived at the present. I actually started and my 1st post and worked my way back to return to this point ... reviewing as I did so. Smiler and Melissa deserve special mention for teaching me what little i know about HTML thus far. Somewhere along the line, in addition to all the bloggers mentioned previously ... I met Grandy, Ladybug, Mama Zen, MP Jones, Moanna, Mother of Invention, Talking Bear, His Girl Friday, Kikipotamus, and others I've no doubt forgotten to mention ... but you know who you are! If you send me an email reminder, I'll add you to you list (as long as you promise to forgive the oversight). This has gotten much more complex than I intended at the outset. If anyone discovers links that don't take you where they're supposed to, I'd appreciate knowing that too so I can fix them. (Obsessive, remember?)

So ... without further ado ... I wish to say THANK YOU BLOGGING BUDDIES! As a token of my appreciation I offer one and/or both of the follow
ing to display (or not) on your blogs as you choose.

Andrea, who I learned recently created the Christmas Hoopla thing, shared this on her blog and graciously gave me permission to "snag it" for myself and pass it along to my friends. It seems fitting somehow. LOL (I've given up ROFLing because it's just too hard to get up these days!)

Thanks a bunch!

Please say Happy Birthday to Molly who is 3 years old today.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I can hardly believe it myself, but ...

I'm not quite sure what possessed me, but I've committed myself to Blog 365 this morning. It had a lot to do with all those follow-up comments from Sandy's post at Momisodes announcing her decision to go for it.

NaBloPoMo got me started in November and then Holidailies kept me going for December. I resisted, then wavered (trying twice unsuccessfully to log on to the Ning site). In the end, I left it up to the Universe to decide for me. This morning I tried for the 3rd time, telling myself that if I couldn't log on at Ning today ... I'd pass on the project.

When I found myself connected, it seemed inevitable. I'm NOT committing to blog on BOTH sites every day (although I ma
y do so, just as I have for my 1st two months in the "virtual" world) ... however this "incentive" may keep me blogging when I'm tempted to slack off, and (as with NaBloPoMo and Holidailies) I'll continue to meet new Bloggers who pass this way. If anyone wishes to join the fun, just click on the link below and/or at the top of my sidebar for additional information and/or read on for the rules.

The Rules

1. Blog everyday for 365 days.

2. Feb.29th is a Free Day and will be the Blog365 day of rest!
(Thanks Leap Year)

3. You do not HAVE to post to the same blog as long as you post everyday.

4. No internet? Write your post locally and post it once you are back on the grid.

5. Computer Broken? Grab some paper and do some old school blogging.

6. A post is a post, not everything has to be in writing. Photos, YouTube videos, and the like are all considered content.

7. Have fun, because that’s the whole point!

Any takers?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

All's well thanks to Peajay who saved the day!

I can listen to Straight No Chaser again
the video I shared at Sacred Ruminations and
anything else I happen upon.

HELP!!!!! Methinks I did a FOOLISH thing and ...

now I have NO SOUND on my computer!!! Yikes -- I hope it's recoverable. I'm hoping someone out there can help me figure this out. Early in December I installed Sonic Widgets with Christmas music on both of my blogs. Yesterday the one at Sacred Ruminations kept freezing up my computer for some reason. After shutting everything down and rebooting for the 3rd time, I'd had enough. While clearing out the Christmas decorations here and there, I decided to REMOVE THOSE ELEMENTS in the layout area of Blogger. Apparently in doing so I also deleted something I shouldn't have ... resulting in TOTAL SILENCE (except for the fan working overtime). It's strange how we don't miss something until it's gone. Until recently, I kept the sound OFF most of the time. However, today the silence is deafening.

What can I do to retrieve sound in my computer?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Rerun "Snow Fun" and Inspiration All in One

In my wanderings around the Blogosphere at the beginning of December, I happened upon this at Melissa's ... and was very glad she found it several years ago, bookmarked it, and shared it again this year.
I shared it at Sacred Ruminations back then, but think this might be worth posting again here for whoever might not have seen it. Click on the Snowglobe graphic and follow the directions. Warning: It's still addictive, but it will make you laugh!

Earlier today, I shared a couple of personal memories on my other blog along with the inspirational video that triggered them. If you haven't visited there and have a bit of time, you might find these links worth checking out.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #5

Thirteen Links to Videoclips
of Performances by Straight No Chaser
(and a few more for good measure)

If you've not heard this group, you'll want to. As I said in yesterday's post regarding them, SNC is an all male A'capella group that creates & shares unique performances. Enjoy!

For slow or choppy online videos,
try the following tips from Melissa:

  • Click the "play" button.
  • Once the video starts to load, click the "pause" button and let the rest of the video load.
  • If you watch the status bar at the bottom of the video, (the bar with the pointer that tells you how far into the video you are) you can see the bar filling up.
  • Once the status bar is full and the video is loaded, click "play" again and the video will usually play through much better.

This will work for most online videos regardless of how old or slow a computer is. The key is to wait until the video has fully loaded before attempting to view it. Try it!

1. 12 Days of Christmas

2. Carol of the Bells

3. Hi-De-Ho (the original 1996 group)

4. Any Dream Will Do

5. Stand By Me

6. Love the One You're With

7. Allentown

8. I Don't Want to Be

9. Insomniac

10. Bless the Broken Road

11. Superhero

12. This is How We Do It

13. Sings Africa

And if you haven't had enough yet, here are 6 more followed by general information about the group!

14. at the Cubs

15. I'm Coming Home

16. Worlds Apart

17. Comedic Concert

18. This Love

19. Don't Stop Believin'

About Straight No Chaser
Official Website with Member Lists by year
Photos and Video Montage of the original members
In the Studio recording Last Call

Facts about Straight No Chaser from their My Space Blog:
"In October 1996, SNC began by performing at charity events and sorority functions on the Indiana University campus. In less than two years, they were touring nationally, opening for acts like Lou Rawls and Aretha Franklin, performing at Chicago Cubs and Sox games, the Brickyard 500, and even New York's Carnegie Hall. They have released seven CDs in their ten years together, and have sold over 40,000 albums. You can read more about them at their website."

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

I’ve listed
more T-13 links
along with
the Thursday Thirteen
Blogroll to my


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Day After Christmas to All

I'm told it's Boxing Day in England, Canada, Australia (and possibly other places) ... a day to clean up and/or "re-gift" things. Melissa at Part of Everything shared about her experiences with this holiday, causing me to check Wickipedia, however I neither cleaned nor re-gifted anything today because I've been catching up with comments on my two blogs and devoting quality time to Molly who spent more time alone the past couple of days than she's used to. I hope your Christmas was merry and bright. Mine was anything but "white" with Santa Ana winds gusting again. They've calmed down today, but yesterday the palms fronds were flying everywhere.

I expected to spend more time here in “this virtual world” (with no family in town with whom to celebrate), but surprisingly I’ve created new traditions of my own this year as I experienced the kindness of friends who knew of my situation. After decades of including “strays” in our family gatherings, I’ve become one … and realize (perhaps for the 1st time while being on the "receiving" end) what a lovely gift such fellowship is.

While responding to Eve at Adamswife's Blog, I noticed that Zazzy left a link to an unique version of the 12 days of Christmas I'd never seen or heard before ... performed by the Indiana University's all male A'capella choir known as "Straight No Chaser". If you've not experienced them, I hope you'll check this out. Their version was most unusual and entertaining.

I hope 2007 has been a good one for you. According to this Blog-thing mine was FANTASTIC, and I'm grateful! If you decide to take this quiz yourself click the link below my results. I hope your prove as good or better than mine. If you'd rather, you can try the second one to see which movie your Christmas was most like here. Mine was like the Charlie Brown's ... but I have no idea what the other options were.

You Had a Fantastic Year!

Compared to most years, last year was definitely great.
Overall, you're living a much better life than you were twelve months ago.
And nothing is a better mark of a good year.
Here's to hoping next year is even better!
How Did Your Year Rate?

I don't know how many of you know that
NORAD tracks Santa's progress each year. We used to check their website when my nieces and nephew were little, but I've not done so for years. I was reminded this morning at Melissa's and have added a note for NEXT year in my Palm LifeDrive along with the reminder to participate in Operations Christmas.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

For Your Christmas Viewing Pleasure

I'm just kidding ... seriously kids! Didn't Santa visit your house? At Spiritdoll, Kara listed John Denver and the Muppets singing "The 12Days of Christmas"
as one of her favorite things and Endment left this link in a comment there. Since I'd never seen
this video clip before, I assume there could be others in the Blogosphere who might enjoy it today. So, on this WINDY day in Southern California (as I go peel Satsuma tangerines to bring & share at Christmas dinner), sit back and enjoy if time permits ... or invite the whole family to watch with you.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Spirit in Action

Browsing a bunch of blogs brought to my attention these stories of the season to warm the heart and inspire Christmas "miracles" of the memorable kind. Reaching out to do for others enriches us all.

Melissa at Part of Everything tells of her active participation in Operation Santa in three parts ... here, here, and here. This is something I plan to do next year.

Talking Bear, at Sleepy Bear Hollow, shares a story of a co-worker's efforts to enlist assistance in transforming Christmas for 7 families this year, and Endlessly Restless left this link to a 2nd blogger's personal memory of being on the receiving end of a holiday miracle in a comment a SBH in response to TB's post.

At zena musings, Carla writes of her poignant experience working with her mother at the Hearth providing Christmas for women in need.

At her writing nook, Mary reveals her memory of meeting and providing assistance to an angel in disguise at Christmas time years ago.

May Christmas Spirit fill your hearts & minds
with peace, love, compassion, and joy
today, tomorrow, and throughout
the 12 days of Christmas
and into 2008

Hugs and Blessings to All!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Playful Participation from a Recovering People Pleaser and another Christmasy Greeting

Alliteration -- always an artfully agreeable
and/or annoying activity

Lucy has pronounced my letter to be "P" ... so this playful post is prominently published in purple to let you all know:

1. I'm a proud member of the Red Hat Society! Even prior to participating, I had plenty of purple clothes because I love the color purple. I mentioned this once previously here, providing some specifics.

2. Pencils (primarily mechanical ones) are my favorite writing implement on paper, but pens and my Palm LifeDrive please me as well.

3. I've pages and pages and pages of poetry pieces and journal entries privately pondering plenty of poignant and playful topics.

4. Once the family photographer, I gave up picture snapping for a period of years until I received a present of a digital camera and plague people once again capturing un-posed pictures playfully, some of which I've published previously on this blog.

5. I use the
pen name (nom de plume) "storyteller" when publishing and/or commenting because I'm a private person, but have presented a few pieces hither and yon, published (unexpectedly) with my real name legible when enlarged.

6. I possess two pets ... Molly (a playful Lab pup) & Ms. Kitty (a perversely feral black cat) ... providing plenty of photo opportunities.

7. I love pears & plums, but (pardon me please) not persimmons.

8. I'd like a pony but have no place to keep one. I've been told by people who know me that I'm an optimist who would plow through a pile of poop to find one however.

9. I play with paradox and perplexing polarities, but no longer feel the pressing need to please people perpetually.

10. I've published prolifically here (and at Sacred Ruminations) & periodically point to poignant and/or playful pieces by others presented in this virtual playground of premiere parties blogging.

I'm not going to "tag" anyone. This is purely for pleasure, but if you'd like to play along, I'd be pleased to provide a letter (as Lucy did for me) if you'll promise to publish a love-link prominently back to this place. Others who have played previously can be found in these posts:
-The Dream and Lucy both had the letter "A"
-Barbara did the letter "W"
-Tess did the letter "E"
-Sunrise Sister did "S" (no surprise there)

On a Completely Different Topic
(but a Christmasy Theme)
I found this in a "comment" from Boneman at Rooted and felt the need to pass it along in case someone needs a GROAN or a chuckle so ... here it is:
Kind of want to tell everybody
Goldfish bowl (wee fish)
a baby lamb (ewe)
a girl horse (mare)
some herons (egrets)
and a moose (not Bullwinkle, even though I'm a big fan.)
So, repeat that two more times and end with an ear hopping along the ground and you have:

Wee Fish Ewe A Mare Egrets Moose
Wee Fish Ewe A Mare Egrets Moose
Wee Fish Ewe A Mare Egrets Moose

and a hoppy new ear!"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Spreading the Word -- Discover the Inner Christmas and Other Holiday "Stuph"

In case you didn't know ...
Ladybug, Kikipotamus, Sandy, Karen and Kara have their 12 Random Christmasy Things about themselves up at their blogs. Just click on the links to read their lists (and mine) if you haven't already done so, and if you wish to join the fun ... please do. The more the merrier! Remember to leave a link to let us know when your list is up so we can all visit.

Something Special
Kara's list ends with a link containing this brief but timely and inspirational Inner Christmas Movie created and offered by Lynn Jerico who reminds us "... wonder and wisdom live in questions, not answers." I hope you'll pause a moment to click and watch it because I'm glad I did. I suspect many of us will be considering "The Twelve Polarities" and participating in the "Twelve Minutes of Inner Christmas Practice" between December 25th and January 5th this year. Thank you Kara!

For those with time
to linger
and consider the season
(seriously or otherwise):

1. be inspired by this T-13 collection of Bible verses about Christmas at Brain Freeze
2. savor this touching personal experience at Los Angelista's reminding us we can all do something, no matter how small ...
if we're paying attention with an open heart
3. for Christmas Facts see
Michelle's T-13 at Artventuring
4. for Christmas Activities to do with Kids (big and small) complete with "how to" links visit Believer in Balance
5. if you need a laugh or two to get you through the day check
out these hilarious Christmas Cartoons at Burnt Offerings
Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Christmasy Video Experiment with YouTube

After enjoying so many video presentations on other's blogs, and discovering THIS hilarious Christmas Countdown video at Lins Honeyman's blog through His Girl Friday's recommendation this morning at Wellied on Life ... I decided THIS was worth the effort to teach myself what I need to know to do this thing for myself here. Perhaps I was foolish, because the clip took forever to load there ... but what the hey? It's worth the wait to laugh yourself silly! Seriously!!! If this doesn't work, you can click on either link to find and watch the clip ... but I've got my fingers crossed.

Hooray! It worked for me ... so it should work for you. Warning ... it DOES take a bit of patience, so while it's loading from YouTube, get yourself a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, eggnog, or whatever you choose ... and give yourself a "break" enjoying "Frank Kelly's 12 Days of Christmas." If you encounter difficulty, check out Melissa's advice from Part of Everything that I've added below the YouTube screen and leave a "thank you" at her blog.

For slow or choppy online videos, try the following:

  • Click the "play" button.
  • Once the video starts to load, click the "pause" button and let the rest of the video load.
  • If you watch the status bar at the bottom of the video, (the bar with the pointer that tells you how far into the video you are) you can see the bar filling up.
  • Once the status bar is full and the video is loaded, click "play" again and the video will usually play through much better.

This will work for most online videos regardless of how old or slow a computer is. The key is to wait until the video has fully loaded before attempting to view it. Try it!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #4

Lest you read only this blog (& not Sacred Ruminations) and think I've lost my ability to count accurately, my 3rd T-13 is located there in case you missed it last week.

Here are Thirteen Quotes I find worth consideration:
  1. "If you think you can, or think you can't ... you're right." Henry Ford
  2. "Make a habit of two things: to help or at least do no harm." Hippocrates
  3. "Nothing great was ever accomplished without great enthusiasm." Ralph Waldo Emerson
  4. "You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
  5. "Happiness does not come from doing easy work, but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best." Theodore Isaac Rubin
  6. "Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions." Dag Hammarskjold
  7. "It is always our own self that we find at the end of the journey. The sooner we face that self, the better." Ella Mallart
  8. "I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: Try to please everybody." Bayard Swope
  9. "I'm worried that we live in a climate where we are not allowed to fail and therefore we are encouraged to take fewer and fewer risks. For all human endeavor is set by risk, as the physicist Franz Kernig believes. Freedom risks its own abuse, thinking risks error, speech risks misunderstanding, faith risks failure, and hope risks despair. The risk of life is death, and man is man only by virtue of his risks of the future." Madeleine L'Engle
  10. "In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning refreshed." from Kahlil Gibran's THE PROPHET
  11. "We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. ... And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Nelson Mandela
  12. "Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world in which you will find before you." Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  13. "Live as if you were die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." Mahatma Gandhi

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

I’ve listed
more T-13 links
along with
the Thursday Thirteen
Blogroll to my


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's another rainy day and I've got places to go ...

but if you're housebound with time on your hands, here are a few more links of interest:

1. Try this weird number game from the creative spirit that can also be found here.

2. At Minivan Diaries learn about the 2 Million Minute Documentary.

3. Consider this Christmas meditation at Prosperos books.

4. For 5 different types of Christmas Carol Quizzes go here, here, here, here, and here. (Aside to all of you, but especially Sherck who found mine too easy, I suspect you'll find these more challenging!) For you moms out there, this page also contains links to Christmas games you might find of use, but no fair peeking at the quiz answers until you've given them a whirl on your own.

5. If you need a chuckle ... read Is Santa a Woman? ... find out if you're a Grinch ... think about these Christmas riddles and/or check out these (politically incorrect) Carols for the Psychiatrically Challenged.

I'm off to run errands, get my hair cut, and engage in "Santa Stuph" for most of the day even if it's raining out and I'd rather cozy up to a cracking fire with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate ... or (more productively) to settle in to create something I can use for my Christmas Cards this year. Sigh ... such is life. "It's always something!" as Gilda Radner used to say.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Links of Interest You Might Enjoy

For today, Molly and I decided to share some Holiday links and other items of interest on a variety of topics encountered recently in the Blogosphere. Enjoy (or not) as time permits:

1. Read this "real-life" story about a unique holiday gift: I Know This Much is True

2. Try this latest Blogthing ... Do You Have the Christmas Spirit?

3. Laugh at this bit of dry wit in a cartoon about Rudolph and name-calling.

4. Discover an amazing bit of the universe and night sky at Quasar9.

5. For other "newbies" like myself, here's the introduction to Smiler's Blogging 101 class followed by the 1st session explaining acronyms and 2nd session on making text links with Blogger and HTML code.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Twelve Random Christmasy Things About Me

No "M" word here ... just some Hoopla!

I've been "tagged" by Mama Zen for a little Hoopla, and although I'm sorely tempted to hold onto this for my Thursday Thirteen activity (making it a baker's dozen rather than 12) ... as Mama Zen sez ... time is short for others to play so here I go.

The rules
(though by now you realize
I have difficulty being told what to do):

1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas
2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word (which, for you bloggy newbies, is meme)

3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done. None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the Blogosphere.

4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over b
efore we know it and I'd like to get as many people involved as possible.

In no particular order ...

1. For the first 4 years in our very first home, we purchased live Monterey pine trees to display indoors and decorate. After Christmas we planted these in our yard. When we sold the place after living there 10 years (to move here to the beach), these were HUGE trees with lots of memories attached! Leaving them behind was difficult.

2. I'll be celebrating the holidays this year with friends rather than family because my sister and her husband are on the East Coast (in Georgia) while I'm at home in Southern California. They'll move on to Florida for the winter on the 26th and plan to continue their 2 year trip across the USA.

3. Here are some of the Christmas mugs hanging in my kitchen. If you stop by, I'll be happy to serve you Starbuck's Christmas Blend coffee in the mornin
g and/or make you tea (or hot chocolate) in the afternoon.

4. I haven't put up a tree for several years, but I do decorate with a few special things each year. I shared one such display yesterday at Sacred Ruminations here and intend to share other holiday decorations and traditions between now and Christmas.

5. I create original holiday cards each year to send to friends and family. I'm usually rushing at the last minute to get these in the mail before Christmas comes so they usually arrive between Christmas and New Year's Day. This year I'm worried they might not get out at all because I'm spending so much time blogging. Sigh!

6. Like Mama Zen, I watch "It's a Wonderful Life!" every holiday season, though not always on Christmas Eve.

7. When growing up, we didn't have much money and often gave "gifts of our time & service" to one another ... a tradition I continued throughout my 34 years in the classroom by providing a variety of holiday "coupons" my students could fill in, decorate, and/or assemble into books for friends and family members ... offering services like back rubs, hugs, a variety of specific chores (without reminding), etc. Everyone seemed to enjoy giving and receiving such gifts to one another.

8. When we bought THIS house in 1980 (it was well beyond our means at the time and necessitated serious spending cutbacks) we created and gave as gifts "Invitations" for an evening at our "Dinner Theater and Playhouse" ... complete with official "tickets" (containing instructions for making "reservations" ... along with a variety of menu, film, and video-game choices. Many of our friends had never played video-games at the time and enjoyed "reserving" games & videos as they selected from Chinese, Italian, English, & Mexican cuisine for their special evening at the beach with us. Doing this permitted us to spread holiday expenses throughout the year and spend quality time with friends and family. Interestingly, once we could afford to purchase and give gifts again, everyone missed these yearly invitations even though we continued to entertain regularly.

9. I'll miss my sister's Christmas cookies this year. She always makes the best chocolate chip cookies, but my favorites are the buttery sugar cookies using my mom's recipe.

10. And that reminds me that I'll miss making tamales with her for New Year's ... a tradition we've practiced for a decade or more.

11. Like Mama Zen ... I believe in Santa and one of my favorite Christmas books is THE POLAR EXPRESS. Since I didn't see the Tom Hanks version when the movie was released, perhaps I'll rent and watch it this year.

12. Attending candlelight services on Christmas Eve is a tradition in my family I still enjoy.

(I couldn't resist the bakers dozen idea) so ...
13. Although I don't have a tree, I do hang ornaments and angels throughout the house. Most of these were gifts from students throughout the years ... many hand made by them with loving care ... all bring back lovely memories.

If there are new visitors to my blog today, you can see how I used to decorate for the holidays here.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Now ... I'm tagging
Annie, Kikipotamus, Sandy, and Ladybug!

and Karen,
you can do this only if
you promise
not to stress yourselves out!
As Mama Zen says
the more the merrier so
if anyone else
feels the urge to participate
leave a link here so I can read your answers.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Small Reflections Christmas Carol Quiz Answers

As promised, here are the answers to the 1st Annual Small Reflections Christmas Carol Quiz. Thanks to everyone who played, hummed, and sang along. I'm told #1 & 9 were doozies! I guess we all have our favorite carols, and these are two of mine. I didn't realize they were obscure when I created the Quiz, but now I do.

1. There’s a Song in the Air

2. What Child is this Who Lay to Rest

3. Angels From the Realm of Glory

4. Joy to the World the Lord Has Come

5. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

6. O Come All Ye Faithful

7. The First Noel, the Angels Did Say

8. We Three Kings of Orient Are

9. In the Bleak Midwinter, Frosty Wind Made Moan

10.Good Christian Men Rejoice

Be sure to watch for this lovely award created by Mary (with snow added by me) as you wander the Blogosphere.

Snowy Christmas Carol Award

Saturday, December 15, 2007

FeedBurner Links, Photos, and Christmas Stuph

My Head is Pounding,
but I've got a FeedBurner Link
and a picture by my name
so ...

ZWANI.com - The place for myspace comments, glitters, graphics, backgrounds and codes

After beginning early this morning with good intentions, I find it's well into the afternoon before I've return to write and publish this. Once again, Kara saved the day by helping me clean up the mess I made and finish the installation. Thanks my friend! :)

I've jumped on the RSS FeedBurner band-wagon. After finding links like this on other blogs useful to me as I've wandered the Blogosphere, I decided to experiment here. I'm not sure exactly how all this works, but since I've used a "reader" for a while now (thanks to Annie), if linking up like this makes it easier for others to keep track of things, I'm willing to give it a go. So ... you'll notice the RSS "Subscribe" logo in my Sidebar. Hopefully this makes it simpler if you use a "reader" and wish to subscribe. If you encounter problems, please let me know so I can make modifications as necessary.

While I had Kara on the phone, I asked her to help me add a picture to my profile (something I've been trying to do for a couple of weeks now without success because I couldn't figure out WHERE to add it) but she directed me to the Bloggers Dashboard. Yes, it was there all along in the upper right hand corner ... clear as day! EDIT PROFILE (duh). I've searched every menu in Settings and Layout multiple times on numerous occasions, but it never occurred to me to check the Dashboard. Sigh! I don't think I've looked at that page since late October when I created my blogs. Doesn't the holiday wreath Mary made for me look festive? I'm happy to add that I've already passed this information on to another blogger seeking help a little while ago, and share it here for anyone else struggling with this challenge.

I'm pleased to report that I've been keeping things under control finally with Google Reader by choosing the "Mark all as read" option every time I add a new blog ... something I could have done all along, but for some reason couldn't make myself do until "rambling" about this dilemma recently at Sacred Ruminations and deciding to take action. MSN is another matter.

And finally (as promised previously) here are the "now you see them, now you don't ... oh there they are again" holiday decorations in my neighbor's yard. It seems these little Christmas Critters scurry to take cover when the rains come, but return to their places when the sun comes out again. Only in Southern California, right?

Last Call!

Christmas Carol lyrics will be posted tomorrow morning, so if you haven't done so already, be sure to email your Christmas Carol Quiz answers to me before you turn off your computer tonight. Remember, it's not necessary to have all ten. Send what you've figured out and celebrate the fun! My e-address is: smallreflections@gmail.com

Friday, December 14, 2007

T-13 thanks, Friday Hugs, Christmas Carol Quiz info, Windy California Weather, & Problems Leaving Comments on either Blog

ZWANI.com - The place for myspace comments, glitters, graphics, backgrounds and codes

First off ... thanks for all the heartfelt comments left about yesterday's T-13 here! I'm overwhelmed by the supportive encouragement from everyone, and I've added a series of personal responses to your feedback (within the comments section) yesterday and this morning ... some of which are longer than my average daily post. LOL

I gave some thought to using the one I wrote and left this morning as a post for today's offering, but figured I'd simply reference it here and move on to other things. I do encourage others to consider the question of what you might do if you knew you couldn't fail, and invite you to leave a link here if you decided to do so. I'd love to read (and comment on) your lists!

Regarding the Christmas Carol Quiz. Several of you have indicated (with creatively colorful language) that a couple are giving you fits. May I suggest you email me the answers you have today and relax. Absolute accuracy isn't necessary to have a good time, and (as others discovered previously) ... sending the list removed stress allowing answers to arrive unbidden. You can always send another email with additional answers as they show up. Google gives me LOTS of free storage! I'm currently using 0% of the available space there. You have until midnight on Saturday, December 15th, to send me your list. I'll end the suspense and post the answers on Sunday, the 16th ... and will email the HTLM code for the award to participants then as well.

A little more than a week ago, we had stormy weather in Southern California (no snow or ice, just wind and rain). Interestingly, the palm fronds all landed in a pile in the middle of the street (see the 3rd row in this collage for those first pictures) ... something we've never seen happen before. After taking a few photos, I went on about the day's activities without giving it any more thought ... although all of us in the neighborhood assumed someone from the City would send a crews to gather them up at some point.

This morning, the pile remains ... though someone has moved them from the middle of the street to a pile near the curb (see photos on left side of collage). One can only guess how long they'll remain ... but the street sweeper does come next Monday (on MY side of the street where the pile currently resides) ... so we'll see what happens in a few days. Does anyone know how to change the sequence of pictures when creating a collage with Picasa? I've got no clue how the program decides to arrange the pictures in a collage, but it clearly has nothing to do with the order in which I take the snapshot. Sigh! So much to learn ... still.

If any of you need to feel warmer today, I hope my photos help. Certainly, I've enjoyed YOUR winter weather vicariously without having to shovel sideways or bundle up to go outdoors ... so thanks for sharing and I look forward to more wintry pictures as I wander the Blogosphere.

Finally, I've received email from a few folks who have found it difficult (if not impossible) to leave comments on one or both of my blogs. If you experience problems, please let me know so I can look into the problem and figure out how to solve it. I like reading and responding to comments, so I wouldn't want anyone to feel frustrated or discouraged.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #2

Thirteen Things I’d Do If I Knew I Couldn’t Fail (in no particular order)
  1. Submit a manuscript for publication
  2. Participate in a Poetry Slam
  3. Create educational environments to empower kids and inspire them to explore whatever interests them (for however long it does) … allowing & encouraging them to follow their dreams and desires rather than “contain themselves”
  4. Become a “motivational speaker” and/or storyteller in the oral tradition
  5. Fix my leaky faucets myself
  6. End world hunger
  7. Rid the world of violence, war, aggression & hostility
  8. Learn to draw and/or paint to illustrate my writing colorfully
  9. Teach Molly & Ms. Kitty to be friends
  10. Calm myself and overcome self-doubt
  11. Clear clutter from my home and distractions from my mind … learning to focus on one thing at a time and make decisions easily
  12. Set up a foundation, a scholarship, and/or create a legacy for the future
  13. Learn to speak and understand other languages.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

I’ve listed
more T-13 links
along with
the Thursday Thirteen
Blogroll to my


Reminder: You've got 2 more days to figure out the Christmas Carol Quiz answers and email them to me. Did you notice the "snowy" effects in the award Mary created that's now displayed in the sidebar here? As previously announced: Peajay, Joy, John and Carrie were the first 4 Bloggers to get all 10 correct and have the Small Reflections Christmas Carol Quiz Award to post on their Blogs.

Who's going to be next?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Luck Quotient and other Random Musings

This Blog-thing came up as a "random choice" while I was doing the "inner child" quiz from Lucy's today. I used a different Quiz at Sacred Ruminations earlier and found myself pondering a variety of issues there for quite some time this morning. It's all saved as a "draft" as I go about the day's activities ... but here I am generating a similar (but different) post. If you take this quiz, I hope you'll share YOUR results in a comment (or a link to your Blog if you'd rather share there).

Your Luck Quotient: 84%

You have an extremely high luck quotient.
Not only do you consider yourself lucky, probably everyone you know does too.
But you're smart enough to know that you've mostly made your own luck.
By being positive, open, and flexible, a lot of luck has come your way!
How Lucky Are You?

I'm reminded that over the past week or so, Bloggers have discussed a "Reading-level Analysis" tool that apparently analyzes URLs and assigns a "rating" from Elementary School to "Genius" levels. If you want to give it a try, it's here. When I've tried it, this Blog comes up College Undergrad Level, but Sacred Ruminations comes up "Genius Level" ... but since I write them both, I can't help but wonder what criteria is used. The one thing I am relieved about is that they neither comes up "Junior High" where I know from experience, hormones are raging and the brain is "on hold" for the most part. If you'd care to share ... feel free to add to your Quiz results.

For the "public service" part of this post, I offer the following link to a one at Living on Purpose that asks the question ... "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" If you decide to consider the question on your Blog, be sure to leave a link here. I'll do likewise. That way we can share our answers with other another.

In case you
missed yesterday's
winner ...
to Carrie of
Earthmovers and Sandcastles
who is the 4th person
to correctly identify all ten of
the Christmas Carols
in the Quiz.

Reminder: You've got 3 more days to figure out the Christmas Carol Quiz answers and email them to me. Did you notice the "snowy" effects in the award Mary created that's now displayed in the sidebar here? As previously announced: Peajay, Joy and John were the first 3 Bloggers to get all 10 correct and have the Small Reflections Christmas Carol Quiz Award to post on their Blogs.

Who's going to be next?

Happy 9th night of Hannukah
to all those who celebrate
this holiday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Decorating for the Holidays -- Christmas Past

ZWANI.com - The place for myspace comments, glitters, graphics, backgrounds and codes

Once upon a time, a few years back a friend helped me decorate for the holidays each year on the day after Thanksgiving. Making my home festive encouraged others on the block to do likewise. This collage is composed of photos from 2003 and 2004 mixed together, and illustrates Christmas Past.

In the last few years, I've decorated less ... but I have neighbors who have taken up the challenge. I'll show THOSE pictures another day. I've walked out into the garage a few times in the past week and considered taking some of these decorations out of storage and putting them on display, but thus far MY only decorating has taken place on both of my Blogs ... and inside my house. Watch for those pictures in the days to come.

to Carrie of
Earthmovers and Sandcastles
who is the 4th person
to correctly identify all ten of
the Christmas Carols
in the Quiz.

Reminder: You've got 4 more days to figure out the
Christmas Carol Quiz answers and email them to me. Did you notice the "snowy" effects in the award Mary created that's now displayed in the sidebar here? As previously announced:
Peajay, Joy and John were the first 3 Bloggers to get all 10 correct and have the Small Reflections Christmas Carol Quiz Award to post on their Blogs.

Who's going to be next?

Happy 8th night of Hannukah
to all those who celebrate
this holiday.

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