U.S. Blogging Event Details

  1. I’ve never been to a blogging event before, but I am so excited! I can’t wait to shake each and every hand, take tons of selfie, and blog a great review! Thanks for the info El Paolo Woman. You too Phil.

Life of an El Paso Woman

wp-1490197008047.jpgChicago Prime Italian

Hi everyone. First of all, I want to say thank you so much for your patience and support! I’m excited to say we finally have a location for the first U.S. Blogging Event! Please feel free to reblog and/or share on social media. Here it is below:

wp-1490198552232.jpgOur dinner and awards ceremony will be held at Chicago Prime Italian in Schaumburg, Illinois on Saturday Aug. 26, 2017 at 6 p.m. for three to four hours. Depending on traffic, Schaumburg is about 40 minutes away from Chicago using public transportation or a taxi. You may even be able to stay in Schaumburg. We decided on Schaumburg because costs were more reasonable than Chicago. Since there is a deposit to hold the restaurant, I will need a payment of $5.50 from each person who is attending. The $5.50 will go towards holding the restaurant for us and the final bill. The payment can…

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Expectations

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Photo by April E. Sutton taken with my Samsung Tablet

Living in close proximity to others takes something special.  Especially the ability to overlook minor annoyances.

Hopefully your neighbors will all be polite, and thoughtfully quiet.  Hopefully neighbors will maintain their little piece of the world.  Hopefully neighbors will be considerate of you privacy.   Hopefully neighbors will properly supervise children and pets.   These are the basic requirements of good neighbors.

Recently, our very good neighbors have been busy with home improvement projects. Their seaside colors and nautical design are not our taste, but to each their own.  Our neighbors long for the beach.  Everything is well maintained.  What more can we ask?

Our neighbor’s most recent project was sorting and reorganizing.   Their new storage is attractive.  But….

From previous experience,  I  have learned our complaints are meaningless.   I don’t want to start a battle after six years of living peacefully side by side.  However,  I am distressed by the pile of trash that has developed behind their storage and just off my backyard.  Adding to my displeasure, is that this pile has accumulated just as we have taken more active measures to sell our home.  Who wants to buy a home overlooking a trash pile?  Even a neatly bagged trash pile does not show off our home to best advantage.

We have offered the use of our pickup truck, and our assistance,  to transport the pile to the dump.  None of us know where the dump is, nor how much the fees will be.  I believe more than one trip to the dump will be required.

I may have found my next dream home.  I am anxious to move on, but we can’t move until our current home sells.  Cross your fingers, send up prayers, and wish me luck.   I need all the help I can get.

Life Isn’t Fair

Rains wash out the long awaited barbecue and fireworks.   There is a pop quiz when you haven’t studied.  You fail that big test, because you are sleep deprived after studying 72 hours straight.

These are not examples of the unfairness of life.  These are simply lessons of life. Weather happens and we have no choice, but to smile and go on with an alternate plan. We learn to always be prepared for those pop quizzes of life.   We learn to balance work with rest.

We make wrong choices, and if we are smart, we learn from them.  Neither is this learning process the evidence that that life is unfair.  True, we may cry, and beg God to save us from our shortsightedness, and complain about the unfairness of being constantly tested by life.  Deep down inside we accept the consequences of our actions, and sometimes we learn the lessons, and make changes.  Otherwise, we repeat our lessons until we learn.

The acceptance that is difficult, is the acceptance that we don’t all start off the same, with the same opportunities, and chances.  Poverty rests heavily on some, and lightly on others.  Learning opportunities are given more freely to some that others.  Patience and kindness bless the lives of some, and others live under fear and want.   Some people have teachers and parents to lead them on the right path, and other people must find their own way.

These divisions even occur within the same family.  Family prosperity can change during the formative years of children of various ages.  The poverty one child experiences, is not even remembered by another child, because they did not experience the poverty.  As a family’s fortunes change, the enriching opportunities to the children vary between them.  Educational opportunities can open up that were closed to earlier siblings.  The love is consistent, but parental health, prosperity and changes in responsibly outside the family create differences in opportunity for the children.

Siblings may not be able to see the lost opportunities of another, thinking their differences were a matter of choice, rather than a difference in the circumstances of their lives.  This is unfair.  Not only has one sibling missed opportunities another received, but sharing the grief over missed opportunity can be interpreted as criticism of the family and particularly the very loved parents.

While others may not be able to understand the grief of lost opportunities, there are other opportunities and other dreams.  The struggles are not the same, because things are not equal.  Every person has struggles.  No one knows when fortunes will change, nor when tragedy will strike.  A life that starts out with deprivation, can end with prosperity.  Early neglect can place a seed of compassion for the future.

Life may not be fair, but you can find another dream, happiness, and love.

 

 

Lucky Me

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Photos taken by April E Sutton with a Samsung tablet.

The Daily Prompt- Luck

I do have a touch of Irish in my ancestry, and perhaps a little Irish luck as well.

Traveling from my home in the southern tip of Ohio, to my sister’s home in the frozen north, I encountered snow.  Not just snow, but a blizzard.  Periodic break checks proved the road condition good, but given the rate of snowfall, I  wasn’t taking any chances.  Driving in the snow safely, reqires traveling a little slower, and leaving a little extra stopping distance.

Other drivers appeared more  confident of the road condition, their driving skills, and my ability to come to a sudden stop.

Another woman entered the highway, and pulled over to the high-speed lane (I  prefer calling it the through lane), right in front of me,   The distance between us was far closer than I would have been comfortable with even if we were going the same speed.  She was going at least 20 miles per hour slower than me.  There were a few stressful moments, and I laid on the horn, as well as the breaks.  All is well.

Safely at my sisters, I enjoyed the snow with some photographs, from the warmth of the house.  Enjoy!

 

On the Edge

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NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The unknown can produce massive feelings of uncertainty.  Starting a blog was nothing like approaching the event horizon of a black hole, but it was new, and I wasn’t sure if I would get likes, or regular readers.  There were voices, some of them in my head, that said, “No-one cares what your thoughts are, no matter what shade of lipstick you put on that pig.”

I know!  Harsh! ( Note to self:  find a picture of a pig and put lipstick on it, these anxieties will hit again.)  I’ve been a newspaper correspondent!  I have had editors that like my stuff!  How much reinforcement do I need?  Quite a bit actually.

My grandson is excited about the 10 followers for his videos, and the videos the family like (his 8-year-old self doing a tie tying tutorial) are not included.  His aunt said,  “How are you going to monetize  your site?”  A  high-achiever, his aunt’s question is probably a good one.  I’ve been thinking about it in relation to my blog.

I have thought about monetizing my blog from the very beginning, if in fact I attracted readers.  Am I ready yet?  I’m not entirely consistent.  My readership grows with every post.  I have over 1000 potential readers if you include Facebook, and those I have invited to read in addition to my WordPress followers.   Friends in the area have started introducing me as a fine writer.

I know I need to invest some money into my monetized blog, but I’m not sure how  it works once I upgrade to the premium package.  Do I even know enough about the mechanics of blogging to be self hosted?

A couple of months ago I had no clue about SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  I have looked at a few SEO sites, but will stick to the free ones for now.  I’ve also been playing with customization of my blog, found some great sites for open source (free) photographs, and incorporate many  of my own photographs.

Yes, my premium blog would need all this, plus a way to make money.  I don’t have enough readers to earn much money from the ads that will be run.  No!  Something else is needed.  I need something to sell.  What I need is a book!  I’m sure a few people will be willing to pay a few bits for a book from an unknown, unproven author.

There I am coming up to the event horizon again.   Actually putting words down isn’t even half of writing a book.  Cover art is needed!  Formatting for Kindle or Amazon is needed, and there are programs for that.  Writing a book is one thing.  Getting a book to the reader is the other half.

Friends and fellow bloggers, what say you.  Am I ready?  Should I make the jump?  Do you have any advice?

 

Blind Alleys

 

1024px-Calle_Florinda_Casco_Antiguo_historico_Jerez_de_la_Frontera_01_edited
Florinda St Jerez by Jerezplataforma via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Don’t follow your instinct blindly!  Why not, you ask?   How many times does your instinct scream, “Danger! Danger!”  How many times do you think the sun is shining, and the idea that anything bad can happen just doesn’t enter your head?  There are those times when the appearance of a situation does not match the reality.  Better to keep your eyes open, and behave with caution.   Mostly things turn out just fine, and our worry is needless anxiety.

Recently we considered a “land contract” on our mobile home.  There was this little whisper that just kept nagging that I really should not accept the deal.  What this simply my ever present anxiety?  For those not versed in such things, a land contract is where the seller is the lender, and maintains a lean on the property.  Research is what I do, so I got on the computer and researched the heck out of land contract.  I even wrote up a very nice contract, putting every protection I could think of into the contract.

I just wasn’t satisfied.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that accepting the offer would be great for them, and bad for us.  I know us, and I know we would treat the buyers well and not take undue advantage of the situation.  An advantage like using their home, that we would retain title to, as collateral on another loan, and then default!  My problem is, I just don’t really know them.  Will they stop paying, have to be evicted, take us to court in an effort to get back part of their down payment, and leave the place a worthless mess?

All indications are that the earnest young buyers are exactly what they appear to be, good honest people just looking for a home for their children.  They have saved a significant down payment, and my first instinct was to help them get a home.  Getting a full price offer and earning a little interest in addition seemed like a good deal.

A land contract could be a good deal, for someone who can patiently wait five or more years to see how everything turns out.  Unfortunately for our earnest young buyers, we have survived a couple of bad financial decisions before.  (Financial decisions that looked good and sucked in people far more financially knowledgeable than we were.)   I am not comfortable with this risk, when it would require that I borrow additional money myself, for my own housing needs.

I’m not saying you should never take a risk.  If I was better able to tolerate uncertainty, and not incur additional expenses of my own, I might have made the choice to accept the land contract deal.

Some risks pay off, like sleeping our our boat on a clear starry night for the first time, or going down an alley and going around the curve to find a beautiful restaurant with an outdoor area for eating, overlooking a cheerful square full of happy people.

You never know what you will find when you take a risk, so keep your eyes open for the unexpected.

*Note:  Sometimes you find a photo to match your topic, and sometimes you shape your topic to match your available photo.  Many of the photos used in my blog are my own, but sometimes I need to reach beyond my own collection of photographs.  Wikimedia Commons is a wonderful resource for open stock photos.  This is also a good place to share your photographs with others.  Have fun checking them out.

 

Contacting My Representatives

I’ve spent my day drafting a letter to my congressman and senators regarding my questions and concerns of proposed legislation.   It took me most of the afternoon.  The first draft was more of a rant.  Realizing these are busy people, I edited my final draft to more than half the original length.  I have family members who may be impacted by the proposed legislation, and I want my representatives to be aware of my concerns and questions.  Hopefully, I will get some answers.

It is easy to find your representatives on-line, with both snail mail and email contact information.  Visiting my representatives’ home pages, I found copies of press releases, statements on position, and some really nice services.  Our representatives have newsletters so we can keep up to date on what is taking place in Washington DC.  There are phone numbers for offices in state and in DC.  There is DC tour information available, and dates when constituents can come in for coffee.

I was nervous.  I know that is a little silly, but I have never written any of the people who represent me.  This is an entirely new experience.  I don’t know what to expect next.  Do my letters and comments fall into some gigantic slush pile?  Will I get a form letter in response?  Will I get a call from someone on staff?  Will my insight prove so essential that my representative will call me himself?  The big question is, will my letters make a difference?

I expressed my concerns.  I asked my questions.  I will be getting the newsletters and will have a better understanding of just what my representatives are doing, and why.  I will even plan a trip to DC so I can go to one of those constituent coffees.   Cherry Blossom season is nearly upon us.

I highly recommend all American’s visit their representatives home pages.  Not sure who your representatives are?  No problem?  Using your zip code your search will be over within seconds.  Then you can read the press releases, look at the legislative calendar, become aware of opportunities to meet your representatives, and more.

Have fun!

 

They Keep Coming

Picture
Olivia de Havilland in Swarm, 1978

They wing their way through the air.  Hundreds upon hundreds without stop.  Birds, bees, grasshoppers all swarm, and a swarm is never a good thing.  A swarm drains available resources.

I love my computer and all it allows me to do.  I can get an instant answer to just about any question.  Feeling down and want an answer to life, the universe and everything?  The computer will quickly give you the answer:  42.

Email is a wonderful feature of the computer.  Email allows family and friends to contact me with news from around the globe nearly instantaneously.  I would love it if I logged on to email to greetings from family and friends, with pictures attached, but that doesn’t really happen in our Facebook world.

What I get are a swarm of emails.  On a normal day, a few hundred emails come my way.  I feel stress!   If I miss a few days, because I’m sick, visiting the grandchildren, or communing with nature off the worldwide web, the emails turn into thousands.

Once, while doing research, I clicked on Railroad Jobs (no, train engineer was not listed). I have received listings of ticket sales and loading jobs, which I hopefully have not blocked.  Hot Brazilians pop up regularly, and I am told there are hundreds of these types of sites, and I just need to keep blocking them.  Every store, every website that I have ever shown any interest in also sends me emails, and I unsubscribe only to get a new round the next time I actually complete some business with them.  There are also the emails from my husband’s recent job search.  (I have begged him to unsubscribe, but there is apparently a delay.

I’ve finally managed to turn off my Facebook notifications that had my phone whistling at me repeatedly during the day.  The phone is another place I have to deal with email, as is my tablet.  After spending hours just getting rid of advertisements on all my devices, I’m not even sure I want to read anything.

Which brings me to my favorite bloggers.  I have found that using the reader, liking pictures and visiting blogs when I want to comment is much more expedient, and I’m even able to catch up where I’ve fallen behind with my favorites.

A recent tip was to read only five other blogs a day.  Okay bloggers,  what do we think of this idea. Is that five currently followed blogs, new blogs, or split between the two?   How do those of you with followers in the thousands deal with your comments and those you follow?

Please give me some help here.  I have been feeling overwhelmed.

Listen to Your Center

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. - Lao Tzu

To someone struggling to figure out what their purpose in life is, the suggestion that, somewhere inside of you, you know is exasperating.  Everyone, at one time or another, asks the questions of:  Who am I?  What do I want?  These questions are often about finding passion, purpose, or happiness.  How do you find your center?

 

 

Proceed by sitting quietly, away from the distraction of television and radio, electronic media of all kinds, and conversation with others.  Enjoy a sunset, gaze into the flames of a fire, watch clouds drift by, listen to the rustle of the leaves and see where your mind goes.

Write upon waking.  Write three pages, by hand of anything that comes into your mind, without censorship.  After several weeks, go back and see what you have written.  Those thoughts that flit through you brain onto the page that you have forgotten as soon as you went on to the next thought, will show you what you are tolerating, what you choose to ignore, what you are struggling with, and what your deepest desires are.

Yes, the answer is at the center of your being.  Be still, and listen.

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