Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the category “Blogging”

Weekly Photo Challenge. The Sign Says: Attenti Al Gatto

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

cat in italy- attenti al gatto

[Sign in ceramics shop in San Gimignano, Italy]

Maybe this cat is calling a general meeting to discuss world issues like the over abundance of cat-less homes, the ratio of tuna to grain in canned cat food, the lack of cat parks, the need for regulations to control nap interruptions, and many other cat grievances.

Double Sunshine – An Award Times Two

The Sunshine Award   

1 Sunshine Award I

Two writing buddies have nominated me for this beautiful Sunshine Award, an award given by bloggers to bloggers who “creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” It’s an award that brings smiles and encouragement to the recipients. To be recognized by peers is the best kind of award. Here are the two friends who nominated me. They are both excellent bloggers and merit your attention.

Ellen V Gregory, to beyond and back. Ellen writes writes about travel, books, fantasy, and Devilcat on her blog. She is an Australian, so she reads your blog while you sleep.

Mama Bear at Mauldin family Mama Bear Musings: Thoughts and Writing that have been hibernating in my Mind.

The Sunshine Award Rules:

1. Post the logo above
2. Accept the nomination and link back to the blog that nominated you
3. Answer the ten questions in this post
4. Nominate 10 blogs and inform them of the nomination

It is always an honor to accept awards from fellow bloggers. I accept these nominations and would also like to pass them on to the list of bloggers below. Sometimes receiving an aware is not always convenient because of the time it takes to answer questions, identify blogs, make the links, and notify the nominees. Regardless of whether the blogger continues to pass on the meme, check out their blogs. They are all worthy recipients of this Sunshine Award.

1. Elizabeth Barrett Moore, Hush! I Talk My Dream Aloud

2. Ruby at ME, YOU AND ZU: Just a girl blogging about her dog, her crazy cats and all of life’s debacles!

3. Lanita Bradley Boyd, Stories of Heart and Home 

4. Rgemom, Three’s a Herd. Mothering a preemie, a princess, and a work-in-progress

5. Meg Travels: mostly sunny adventures (photo blog)

6. Lingering Visions: a photo blog

7. Lynette Revette Butler

8. CB Wentworth: Just following my muse

9. Cassmob. Family history across the seas (Australia)

10 Sheri J. Kennedy Images both literary and visual

Of course, there are many more excellent bloggers around. I will nominate some of them for the Liebster award which I recently received.

Sunshine Award Questions:

1. Favorite color: yellow as in buttercups and daisy centers

2. Favorite animal: cats. Ellen likes cats, too, but Mama Bear likes…bears!

3. Favorite number(s): 4. Somehow four and yellow go together. Just don’t ask me why.

4. Favorite (non-alcoholic drink): Diet Coke with Green Tea as a second.

5. Favorite (alcoholic drink): White Merlot. Wines generally give me a headache, but I can drink this White Merlot with no problem. Recently I had a Madras (orange juice, cranberry juice, vodka on ice) at a wedding. That was nice.

6. Facebook or Twitter: Both, but Facebook is more fun and informative. My family is far-flung around the country, and Facebook helps me keep in touch with the daily happenings.

7. My passions: family, reading, writing, gardening, family, photography. Ellen said chocolate, and I must agree, but it’s chocolate-covered almonds for me.

8. Giving or receiving gifts: Both are nice. It’s nice to be surprised with a thoughtful gift.

9. Favorite city: I have been all over the world, but my favorite city is Ocean City, New Jersey. Just check out my posts, and you’ll see that I like to write about this glorious beach town. Of course, I am ready to go on a trip to anywhere at any time.

10. Favorite TV show: news programs. I don’t watch much TV because I would rather read books and my favorite blogs or write on my blog.

Thanks again for this Sunshine Award, Ellen and Mama Bear. I appreciate the recognition.

#WANAfriday: Travel Dreams

wana logo

Every Friday, a WANA (We Are Not Alone) member posts a question for members to answer.

This week’s question:  If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Last year, I spent two weeks in Italy (my third visit), but on that trip, I got to know the country much better. In Rome, my sister-in-law, Carol, and I stayed in a centrally located hotel close to Navona Square, convenient to many of the tourist spots, and walked everywhere. We claimed the city as our own.

The Italy trip revived my interest in going back to France for several weeks or longer. I have been to France several times, once with college group, then later with a friend. We went as tourists and did all the tourist things: Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, Versailles Palace, and more.

But on my next trip to France, I would like to take a good city map, revisit the tourist spots, but then just wander the streets and see where they take me. I studied French in both high school and college, and while I have forgotten most of it, I would like to warm it up again. Tea and crumpets at an outdoor café on the Champs Elysees sounds nice, too.

For right now though, I think I will follow a nifty idea presented by The Rider: Travel to exotic places through others’ blogs.  I will check out blogs for France.

MegTravels has a checklist to help me get ready for my trip to France. (Maybe I will spill over into Spain and Portugal.)

And here are other WANAs and their travel wishes:

The Last Meow

Henri, the French existentialist cat articulates the pain of existence here.

(Bleh. Only a French cat would see life this way! Get a life, Henri.)

cat with shades imagesCAOWRXCZ

Meow for now.   =<^_^>=

Music, Memories, and More


Blog Every Day in May:

Prompt 29: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories

Memories of Mom:

Mom loved singing hymns in church, and she had a number of favorites: “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Amazing Grace,” “When We All Get to Heaven,” and “In the Garden.” Click to listen to  “In the Garden.”
001 (4)

Other music that I enjoy:

Yo-Yo Ma performs The Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite, No. 1

Yo-Yo Ma

Sarah Chang, Meditation de Thais

Sarah Chang

Akwarian Sea Rebel (aka Amanda Heck), Selections from the album Epic Gems
Akwarian Sea Rebel is my creative stepdaughter, sister to Cassandra Heck. Mandy is a multi-talented artist and musician. The album cover for Epic Gems is a self-portrait. (She did the music for Sesame Street’s productions “Lonely Eleven” and “Twelve Little Chicks.” Her friend, Mari Jaye Blanchard, did the animations and lyrics for both productions.)

Self-portrait, Akwarian Sea Rebel

Self-portrait, Akwarian Sea Rebel

The Last Meow

Hey, you forgot one. Susan Boyle singing “Memory” from Cats.

CATS logo

Ah, good choices. I like this last one the best!  Meow for now. =<^;^>=

Only Pictures: Garden Critters

Blog Every Day in MayBlogEverday[1]

Prompt 28: Only Pictures

Chipmunk Sitting on Cat

Chipmunk Sitting on Cat

Butterfly on Rhododendron

Butterfly on Rhododendron

Pokey and Grumpy Cat in the Garden

Pokey and Grumpy Cat in the Garden

The Last Meow

Shhhhh. I'm watching the garden critters.

Shhhhh. I’m watching the garden critters.

Meow for now. =<^;^>=

Hello, Dear Readers. Who Are You?

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May Challenge Prompt 27

Write a Letter to Your Readers

Dear Readers,

Almost every writing expert tells us writers that we should know our audience when we write.

But because of Internet and its vast network, our writing reaches farther than we could have ever imagined, so that basic writing suggestion simply doesn’t work.

We bloggers write not knowing who our readers are. We know we have readers because WordPress counts them and gives us fascinating statistical reports.

My favorite report shows a colored map and tells me how many readers/views I have, and from which countries they have viewed my blog.

Wordpress stats

I am not surprised that I have views* in the English speaking countries:  United States (7,198 views), Canada (761), United Kingdom (650), and Australia (390). All four together represent my largest audience. But it is amazing to me that I have had readers in Egypt (38), Saudi Arabia (8), Qatar (8), Brunei Darussalem (3), Occupied Palestine (1),  Azerbaijan (1) Latvia (1), and so many more. (*WordPress counts each view of a post separately. If one reader reads three posts, then views= 3).

Why are you reading my blog? Are you learning English? Are you an expat? Are you an old friend?

I can look at sections of the map and think about specific people who might be reading my blog: Is that you, blogger friend Ellen V. Gregory in Australia, reading my post? In Alaska, maybe its Jim, Linda, Joan, Tina, Sherry, or other people I knew when I lived there. Maybe it’s Gary or Mary Jane in Korea; or Kent, Mary, Tammy, Jenny, Leslie in Hong Kong, my friends from Hong Kong International School. In Germany, it might be my nephew, Bill. In India, it might be my friend, Abraham, or one of his family or church members. Maybe it’s my blogger friend Julie Ferrar in France. I don’t know. It boggles my mind.

Equally interesting are the white spaces on the map: Greenland;  Paraguay, Suriname, and French Guiana, three countries in South America; all the Middle Eastern Countries; many countries in Africa; and Papua New Guinea in the Far East. It makes me wonder. Is Internet available in these areas? Is Internet available but restricted? What interest would they have in my blog anyway?

So dear readers, I am curious about you. My world geography is getting better because of your interest in my blog. Seeing your country colored in on the map reminds of visits that I have made to many of your countries, and I have many more countries on my bucket list for visits, enough to last a lifetime.

But regardless of who you are or where you live, I do appreciate your taking the time to read my blog. I know you have many blogs to choose from (does that sound like the arrival speech from the flight attendants on your favorite airline?), and I appreciate your interest. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing! To you, my heartiest thanks for visiting.

And if you have a minute, let me know who you are and the name of your country. I look forward to getting to know you better.

The Last Meow.

What about us kitties?  Look at our map. We have fans all over the world. How about that!

INternational cat day map.

Meow for now. =(^;^)=

Memorial Day Reminder – Online News Clip

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May

Prompt 26 Something you read online.

Memorial Day, May 27, 2013

Honoring Those Who Died in Service of Our Country
Memorial Day

US Army Pfc. Corey Shelton uses a wooden stick to drive American flags into the grass on Boston Common in Boston in preparation for Memorial Day. Each flag represents a service member from Massachusetts who gave his or her life defending the country.

Memorial day s

Memorial day 3

The Last Meow

I know this is not very patriotic, but it is so cozy in here.cat patriotic

Meow for now. =<^;*>=

Thou Good and Faithful Servant

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May Prompt 25

Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget (good or bad).

I am not a praise junkie. I tend to evaluate my own work and person perhaps more harshly than another person might. I am a bit of a perfectionist (I wrote about that here in My Top Three Terrible Traits), and I am perhaps more critical of myself and my work than need be.

But I shuffled through the pile of compliments given to me about aspects of my life, work, and relationships and remembered them with gratitude and smiles. I appreciate everyone of those comments as well as the givers who gave them to me. Then I sifted through the much smaller stack of petty barbs of the kind that we all get now and then and decided to just let them go. They didn’t matter then, and they certainly don’t matter now.

I dwelt on several compliments thinking they might be worthy of retelling. But really, what’s the point?

Instead, a comment made in church this morning caused this Bible verse, memorized as a child, to pop into my thoughts, and I realized that this is the comment I long to hear one day:

King James 2000 Bible (©2003) Matthew 25: 21 and 23
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord.

My hope is that one day, My Lord will say to me, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

The Last Meowcat praying...3

I am not sleeping on my feet. I am praying. Be a little more respectful.

Meow for now. ={^;*}=

My Top Three Terrible Traits? Is That Even Possible?

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May  Prompt 24. Your top three worst traits.

I asked My-Heck-of-A Guy (MyHog) what my three worst qualities were, and at first he hemmed and hawed, and then he pleaded the Fifth Amendment. You don’t think he was afraid of starting a little tiff a big fight a friendly conversation, do you?


I guess I’ll have to answer this prompt on my own. You have to know one thing though: I have an innate ability to see the bright side of every negative. It may sound like I am avoiding the subject talking around the topic, but really, I’m not. You believe me, don’t you?

Terrible Trait One: Procrastination.

To some, this may mean being late with assignments, like posting a day late, or something minor like that. I do pay my taxes on time. That’s good isn’t it? And I am always ready on time when MyHOG wants to go out to dinner. So really, I don’t see procrastination as a big problem for me. So what if it takes me a teeny bit longer to get a few bitty things completed. I take my time to evaluate all possibilities before selecting the most obvious one. MyHOG calls this “analysis paralysis,” but I call it “exploring my options.”  Sometimes I nap take my time so I don’t make rash decisions and major mistakes.

Procrastination (which is a teeny problem for me, I admit that) connects with negative quality number 2, perfectionism.

Terrible Trait Two: Perfectionism.

I have discovered that errors creep into my blog posts while I sleep at night, so I have to be extra vigilant to guard against them. MyHog helps me root them out, but even so, if I even touch a post after it is polished off, the irksome pesty typos sneak in on their mission of havoc and destruction. That means that I have to read and reread and reread my posts before I post them. Perfectionism is tedious and dampens the creative spirit.

Terrible Trait Three: Poor Housekeeper Problem

My perfectionism does not apply to my housekeeping, which is, ummm, sort of a problem. I would rather write blog posts than clean house. I would rather look for cute kitty pictures on Internet than clean house. In fact, I would rather do anything rather than clean house. I was very clear with MyHOG before we married: “I do not vacuum.” I hate vacuum cleaners, and they hold me in similar contempt. I dust, but only when the sneezing gets out of control. So that’s our deal. He vacuums. I dust if I feel like it.

MyHog is also perfectionistic  obsessive-compulsive helpful in ways that assist me with my Poor Housekeeping Problem. He has Rules for Loading The Dishwasher, and somehow I have not mastered those rules (hahaha sorry about that, not), so therefore, he loads the dishwasher. Really, I don’t want to cause pain extra work for him by having to move cereal bowls to the top rack (Rule 1) after I put them on the bottom rack. And  heavens, what if I mix up the silver flatwear and break Rule 2, Keep eating utensils in like groups. No, it really is easier if he loads the dishwasher. He might as well unload it, too, since he knows how he loaded it.

I do clean house though, but definitely under pressure, like when I invite company for dinner, and the house is a wreck. We both go at it in a blitz and get it cleaned up. Yes, I dust. We try to have company over again within the next few days after this first dinner while the house is relatively neat. A week later is too late.

Well, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to go on and on with my top three terrible traits. I’ll do better next time. At least I’m not blowing my own horn.

The Last Meow.

Ah-choo. Ah-choo.  Bleh to housework! I mean, Meow for now. =<*;*>=  Bring on the weekend! Ah-choo.

weekend cat

Life Learnings Gleaned through The Passage of Time

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May. Prompt 23: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you.

Primary school, elementary school, junior high, high school. Twelve, maybe thirteen years in school. Add two more if you went to preschool.  Add more if you went to college.  Our formal schooling took a lot of time, and we learned a lot of capital letter stuff and crossword puzzle stuff: the periodic table, the presidents of the United States, the state capitols, great battles in history, the amendments to the constitution, vocabulary lists, and more.

But life has taught me so much more.

I went to my 50-Year Golden Reunion at Gordon College this past weekend, driving from New Jersey to Wenham, Massachusetts (north of Boston) with my classmate, Judith Krom.  In chapel, we sat next to each other for four years in alphabetical order in numbered rows, class by class. Judith and I were both “Kro. . . . .”JudyK&JanKH Gorodn College 2013

On our road trip, we talked nonstop, and I do mean nonstop, about life and what we have learned in the 50 years since we graduated from Gordon. Here are a few of our highlights.

1. Learning is lifelong.

School is a nice, safe cocoon, but when you jump feet first into your chosen vocation, that’s when you start learning. In fact, we learned more on our first jobs than we ever learned in school.  We hustled in these jobs, working long hours just to make it through, learning to manage our time wisely, trying to do the best job we could do before going home exhausted.

Both Judith and I went on to earn higher education degrees, but we used our everyday work experiences as examples in our written class assignments. By day, we learned from supervisors and work associates; by night we learned how and why these associates worked the way they did. The extra courses and degrees? Those are all extras, refinements of our knowledge and essential to our personal and professional growth. The classroom learning polished off some of our rough edges and hopefully made us wiser.

Then when we retired and finished our work requirements, we both went back to school again. Learning is lifelong.

2. People are important. Nurture relationships.

We learned more from interactions with other people than we learned from our textbooks. Work associates, friends, and family members all gave assistance along the way. When we were willing to listen to their cogent advice, they helped us avoid physical, emotional, even financial disaster; they opened doors to other experiences and opportunities; they encouraged us in hard times; and they carried us (or covered for us) when we couldn’t quite make it on our own.

Our relationships grew deeper over time as we experienced together successes, sorrows, embarrassments, troubles, accidents, and mistakes. Our true friends stuck with us through it all.

3. Laugh a lot. Petty things don’t matter in the long run.

We talked about our insecurities of our early working days.  The old “If I knew then what I know now, my life would be different” entered the conversation. It’s true. But learning is a process, and it takes time. In hindsight, we can laugh about our mistakes. We acknowledged that we learned from our mistakes as well. Mistakes brought a deeper awareness of factors in situations that we had overlooked.

Our advice to others: Don’t get caught in absurdities or petty cricisms, or even self-imposed limitations.

4. Read, but do more than that, think. Think about what you read.

Read broadly and deeply. Pursue those interests you could not develop in school when you had to take the prescribed courses for your degree. Compare other disciplines with your own. I was lucky enough to enroll in a master’s degree program at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California where the administrators and professors emphasized an interdisciplinary approach. Although I was seeking a degree in educational administration, I worked through the master’s program in public administration, meeting with health care workers, fire workers, postal workers, city administrative officials, and others in public service. This led to an awareness that our problems in educational administration were not unique; others faced these or simiar problems. By teaming on class projects, we broadened our ideas and developed a greater appreciation for our public servants.

5.  Write. You do have a voice. Write.

Part of my lifelong learning plan is to read more and to write more. The form of reading for me has changed a great deal. While I used to read more fiction and nonfiction books, now I read more fiction and nonfiction posts. When I do read novels, I tend to read them on my Kindle, although I do love holding a hardback book in my hands when I read.

I started my blog on a lark, just to see if I could do it. At first, I felt a bit intimidated by the sheer numbers of blogs written by such good writers. But I have kept with it, and I have gotten some positive comments on my efforts.

6. You can do anything you want…just set your mind to it and do it.

Posts I have read today:

Sometimes we don’t write because we fear what others might say.  August McLaughlin responds to that fear in “Smash the Tomatoes: Dealing with Bad Reviews.”
Kristen Lamb, WANA guru, writes about Steve Jobs and 5 Tips for Being a Successful Author in her may 23, 2013 post.
Here’s the article that Kristen refers to in her post. “Wisdom for Writers from Steve Jobs Yes! THAT Steve Jobs.”

The Last Meow

Things I Learned in Catergarten:cat sleeping - academic

1. Wake owner up early.

2. Start the day with a good catfeast.

3. Nap often, on owner’s computer keyboard preferably.

4. Act cute and get treats.

5. Be annoying and get treats.

6. Nap on the windowsill in the sun.

7. Eat dinner, and then get ready for bed.

Meow for now. =<^b^>=

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