I have had so many opportunities to celebrate anniversaries on my WordPress blog. First it was 10 followers, then 500, then an unbelievable 2576 but I hesitated. It is never too late, so – Thank you very much to my followers and friends in the WordPress community. Your kind words have been a source of comfort during a challenging time in our lives. So many of my original blogging friends have stopped posting in the last two years. Even more sadly, some have died and we miss them. Their spirit lives on in their writing.
Then I received this notification of 500 posts and felt it was time to honor my love of writing. When I first started blogging, I was only interested in writing travel posts but as I started reading other blogs I wondered about sharing even more. Admittedly, some of my posts were just drivel, or contentious, and I have deleted quite a few… It always puzzles me which posts generate the most comments or likes. Floral Spike was one of my most recent successes and I was surprised that gardening was so popular.
These are some of the categories that I have chosen to write about with links to my favorite posts: –
I have posted a new avatar photo that better reflects my life now. Every time I looked at my previous image, it felt like someone else. I am older with a new hair color for autumn. Maple spice, perhaps? It is really just a mix of stuff in my hair color box and I will not be able to replicate it. Like so many others, I am looking forward to having my hair professionally dyed once the Delta Variant has been tamped down. So, so excited about going out for a steak dinner!
Thank you for reading and connecting with me – your friendships mean the world. 💕
My friend Ruth, aka rkontheroad, nominated me for Outstanding Blogger Award. I am always honored to be nominated for an award and this one was new to me. Ruth’s blog Musings from the Mountains is full of the most fantastic photography. She has had an amazing life, living around the globe and now settled in Colorado. Our lives have segued in some ways with our love of travel, writing and volunteering. Thank you for the nomination, Ruth!
Ruth’s questions for the nominees
1 Why do you blog?
At first, I created the blog to provide a conduit to my book, Memoirs from Cairo on Kindle. Once I started to connect with other bloggers, I shared travel posts and eventually very personal posts about my mental illness. One friend advised me not to share so much but I felt it was therapeutic not just to me but to my readers who felt less alone with a stigmatized illness.
2. What themes do you blog about?
Generally I blog about travel (fond memories), mental illness, fairy stories, fashion and my ancestry. There is no real rhyme or reason, just following the strange patterns in my head. I enjoy vlogging too, especially during this Pandemic. After a while it feels like other bloggers you connect with are real friends – and they are. We find each other through shared interests, passions or beliefs.
3. What do you like to read?
My favorite genre is fantasy/science fiction. When I was younger, I read most of the books in our local library, even other genres. I have belonged to book clubs over the years and I like that it introduces you to books you would never have chosen. I feel it is my personal mission to introduce people to really good science fiction and fantasy. My choice one year was The Martian and everybody loved it! My illness or perhaps my medication for (OCD, depression and anxiety) sometimes affects my ability to concentrate and read a whole book. It is a real loss in my life but I read other blog posts or article of interest on my laptop make up for that. That’s why I am on/off with blogging – I have to have the muse.
4. Who or what is a person or event that has influenced your life?
I had to think long and hard about that question. In truth, it was my mum. My mum also had a mental illness and a bad relationship with alcohol. Although she has been dead for 18 years, she still affects my every step. I loved her and she loved me but we both resented each other at times. I admired that she had immigrated alone to the States in her early 20s, traveled from east to west. When she returned to Scotland, alone with me, she worked as a private detective for an agency that got taken over by the famous Pinkerton agency. Life was much harder after her major breakdown and it has probably molded me into a caretaking person. She was a beautiful, smart and kind woman whose illness/alcohol use made her narcissistic and critical at times. That contrasted hugely with the funny loving mummy that I lost.
5. What’s one thing that’s important to you in your non-blogging life?
This was easier – my husband. We have been married for over 38 years and had our ups and downs. For the most part we are a very good match and really make each other laugh. He is incredibly supportive of me and I know he always has my back. I always wanted to marry someone who was genius smart, good looking and incredibly funny. He still makes me laugh so much that my body farts without control which makes me laugh louder. Despite that he still thinks I am his baby bunny…albeit with digestive problems.
6. If you could go back and choose a different career, what would you do?
Speech Therapy. I longed to do something in the para-medical field. My family were very insistent that I spoke clearly with a neutral accent. No slang dialect was allowed in our house. At high school I joined drama and debating clubs and realized the pleasure in making your voice heard. I was rather shy as a young teenager and the whole school was asked to write an essay for a Glasgow wide competition. I chose to write about social equity, corruption in the Catholic church and other ambitious topics. My teacher asked me to read it aloud in class and I blushed red. At the end the whole class applauded – it was overwhelming and eye opening. I came second in the school competition to someone who wrote about Scottish Nationalism, a very popular subject at the time. The English principal whispered to me that I should have won. The topic cost me dearly as one of the rigidly Catholic assistant Headteachers refused to give me a referral to college. Our bank manager gave me one. This is why it would have been a joy to help people use their voices to the best of their ability.
7. What would you rather be doing right now, instead of writing your answers to these questions?
Despite the pandemic, there is nothing I would like to do other than answer the questions. Scots are like the Dutch – they don’t do anything they don’t want to do! I have kindly demurred many awards, mostly because I have already been nominated for them. This was a new category and I was delighted that Ruth asked me. To be honest, the pandemic has stopped me talking to so many people. I chat briefly at the grocery store but my Scottish accent sounds like Klingon behind a mask. This post has given me the opportunity for a wee gabfest, as they say in the old country. On a final funny note, I phoned one of my neighbors, during our deep freeze in Texas, to ask if I could take out her wheelie bin. In her New York accent, she queried, “What now?” and I had to go through all the alternatives – big green thing for the rubbish, yellow recycling, trash can, garbage. It was hilarious – and that was without a mask…
As most of you know, I am obsessed with finding new family members. For the most part, they are long since deceased but within the last few weeks a new, and very much alive, cousin has come into my life. Sarah’s great grandmother was my paternal grandfather’s sister (Nelle and Raymond Dellinger) so we are Dellinger 2nd cousins, one generation between us. We have been excitedly sharing information and photographs to help build a picture of our most interesting family. Sarah had never seen a photo of Raymond, or I of Nelle, so that was very exciting. If you look at Sarah’s gravatar image you will see a resemblance in our smiles. To my astonishment, Sarah thought that I look like a Dellinger. As an only child with little connection to my paternal side, this is all manna from Heaven. Curiously, we both have WordPress Blogs and write similarly. Now we are pondering whether the writing gene comes from the Dellinger side…and why do we have so much Swedish DNA???
Please enjoy this beautifully researched genealogy post below on Sam Houston Dellinger (my great-grandfather) and have a look at Sarah’s blogs – Stories of my Family and A blog dedicated to my love for books
The Dellinger side of the family is full of of fantastic stories. Samuel Houston Dellinger and his wife, Lillie (née Dillingham) were quite the characters and it is not surprising that their independent, pioneer spirit rubbed off on their children (though it manifested quite differently in some of them).
Do you ever wonder why you started following someone or vice-versa? My taste in blogs is very varied and my friend Chad’s blog is all about sailing – Live Free 2 Sail Fast
I think what triggered my interest was a shared experience of mental ill health. In Chad’s case it is PTSD and he finds sailing to be very therapeutic. Not only that, he actively helps other veterans with PTSD to find some relief with sailing. His post on this subject is inspiring – PTSD and sailing.
I would rather go to the moon in spaceship than sail on a small boat because I have a phobic fear of deep water…🌊 Despite that, I am drawn to the water like a lemming and am truly envious of Chad’s ability to be soothed by sailing. He is about to start on a new adventure – see this post Saturday Morning Boat Musings and I want to wish him all the luck in the world. Here is a link to a post about his adorable Great Dane Quincy.
Random photo of Teddy standing dressed as Ace Halloween 2009
Another random photo of me dressed as a naughty school girl. It backfired because everyone thought I was someone’s daughter!
The strange thing about blogging is that you feel a responsibility to followers and friends. I have been absent without leave for a few weeks and can’t help but feel guilty about it. Like most of us, life has intervened into my usual routine and I have been a little frazzled. Lots of new contract work has kept me busy but my mind has been blank despite all the opportunities for people watching. I wondered if my health was deteriorating but my psychiatrist seems happy with me – I had some wonky blood results (that’s a clinical term…) which raised anxiety levels. My cholesterol levels shot up but my inflammatory markers that indicate plaque, risk of stroke or heart attack were good. My extended Irish family has a huge file on our family risk of heart problems in the main hospital in Dublin, so I have always been proactive about eating well and exercising. But I can’t think of anything nicer than a baked potato smothered in butter…
Then I had a skin biopsy. My dermatologist just went straight to the point – “I am taking a biopsy to check for basal skin cancer”. Yes, it also appears in the Irish family – dang those genetics. Why couldn’t they just leave me money in their will?? I didn’t truly enjoy my short vacation in San Diego which is why I haven’t blogged, although looking back there were some lovely moments including finding ancestors graves. The news has just been so awful that I have started watching Fixer Upper instead of CNN. We finally got around to ordering a new door after Hurricane Harvey only to have the wrong one delivered… Teddy wondered if I made a fuss but there was no point; many of our residents have lost everything.
One of my friends housed their neighbors whose house was flooded. The children just moved back last week and my friend was sad – what a beautiful person she is. All of my contract work dried up immediately after the hurricane because no-one was able to or wanted to hold conferences in Houston. One of my employees had a wee party for their staff in the garden of the office. It was so much fun and I won the raffle for 4 tickets to Kemah which is our equivalent of Coney Island. Well, I have no kids and don’t know anyone who has apart from my angel friend. Apparently her neighbor was overwhelmed that a complete stranger would give them a gift. No one could have felt happier than me, paying it forward feels good.
Two of the events that I have worked for recently have incorporated the conference contributing or volunteering to the Houston Food Bank. Thank you! One day when I was working at the airport, I helped a volunteer by translating for a passenger who only spoke Spanish (then three more turned up). After that, I was still standing there when two men came up and said very loudly and incomprehensibly, “Haw Missus, how do ye get out of this airport?” The volunteer looked perplexed. Was it Serbo-Croat or Icelandic? I recognized the accent from Glasgow in Scotland where I grew up. Laughingly, I said, “Come over here boys!” Their faces lit up when they heard my (much posher, think Maggie Smith) Glasgow accent. One of them had his arms wide open and said, “Gie us a cuddle” which I did and the other one hugged from the other side, kissing my ear. I sent them on their way and laughed at the look of horror on the elegant volunteer’s face. They were either oilmen or mariners who had travelled from some far flung place, Kazakhstan perhaps? A few refreshments had been imbibed but there was nothing sexual about the cuddle. It was one of kinship and comfort in a strange place. Gosh, I felt homesick for the first time in years that day. Despite all the turmoil recently, Texas mostly feels like home.
Get ready for some fun blogs and sorry for my absence.
Before my sad week, I was traveling again and went to the wonderful city of El Paso, Texas. I met up with Lisa, a friend and fellow blogger, and it was so much fun! Lisa looks lovely in our selfie but I look like I was sniffing some cocaine (just Prosecco). 😄 I have a couple more posts from Salt Lake City and then we are off to El Paso, an amazing place. BTW, Lisa was so sweet, kind and generous. It was such a pleasure to meet in person.
Hi everyone! Happy Saturday! I hope your weekend is off to a great start! One of the best parts of blogging is meeting fellow bloggers, especially in person! I won’t lie, I also enjoy the free stuff and the pocket change that allows me to indulge at times. This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow blogger and friend Kerry Duncan from Postcards from Kerry. Please check out/follow her blog if you aren’t already. Kerry blogs about her many travels around the U.S. and worldwide. She recently wrote the Kindle book, “Letters from Cairo.” The book is available for $4.49 on Amazon.com “Letters from Cairo” is about Kerry’s experience living in Egypt a few years ago. In case you missed it, you can check out my Saturday Evening Interview with Kerry here.
Kerry was staying at the beautiful Hotel Indigo in downtown El Paso for a few days…
When I was growing up we didn’t have a TV – WHAT???? We had a huge radio that was the size of an old fashioned TV. In the UK, the hip radio stations were pirate radio that operated offshore on ships and they would change their frequency. That combined with your parent’s choice of music (blah MOR), you had to fiddle about with the dials to find a station with music worth listening to and often you would just get radio static. Occasionally, I was lucky enough to tune into Radio Luxembourg, which played all the latest hits.
Right now my followers might get blog static – sometimes I will be writing every day, then not for a while. Some days I will look at your blog but if I don’t, please excuse me. I will just be resting and waiting for the menopause to be over! My latest symptom is mini hot flashes – 30 seconds and they are over. It is utterly fascinating especially since I normally have lizard DNA – always cold out of the sun.
No mood swings, thank goodness, nor night sweats. How can you tell when it is almost 100 degrees and humid for the whole summer? 😌 Anyway, thank you for tuning in…more to follow.
I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers (that’s said in my best Southern belle accent). None of you are strangers, of course, you know more about me than most. One of my dear friends was concerned that I was revealing too much of my soul when I started being really honest on my blog but I think it is good for me and for any one person that may be helped by my revelation and insight.
I hoped today might be almost back to normal but Zhenny the crazy cat had one of her occasional pancreatic attacks with blood in her urine. They happen dramatically quickly so we rushed her to the vet this afternoon. Both the new veterinarian and the assistant were AMAZING. They listened to me (treat her like a wild raccoon and pump her full of injections), the assistant who had lived in third world countries held her like a baby so she did not have to be tranquilized and then rocked her like a baby. In 12 years I have never been able to rock her like a baby. If she does not recover quickly (she probably will) or has another attack soon then we have all made the sad decision to send her to meet Grandma Kathleen in heaven. One of my mum’s many saving graces was that she adored animals.
We are back at home now and I thought you might like to meet Katniss (above). She left for about a week but has been coming every day (and now twice or three times a day) for dinner. Our weather has switched from too hot to freezing so she needs a little extra food although she is a perfectly good hunter. As you know, I am trying to tame her a little so that I can neuter and release her. Then I will cut back on the feeding as there is plenty of prey just in my back yard…
Katniss is the daintiest little girl with a tail longer than her body. We previously called her the slut (kittens, many kittens) but she sits like a lovely little lady with her tiny toes tucked in. Sometimes I imagine she is wearing a black satin dress with some white pumps. It worried me when my husband named her because we only ever have three cats and it felt ominous. Right at this happy moment we have three indoor cats, one on massive pain relief, and a contented Katniss.
You have all been so wonderfully uplifting in your comments about my illness and husband being laid off that I thought you might like this hilarious tale. He has applied for endless jobs which will not be looked at until after the holiday period. One in particular was in Saudi Arabia. We are doubtful about this because their retirement age is 60 (how civilized?) and they rarely take anyone over 55 unless they have specific skills. He certainly has the skillset and some Arabic but there are plenty of contenders in this slump. Two nights ago he noticed a missed call from Saudi Arabia on his cell phone. He waited until it was morning and then called the number back, with some excitement. Can you believe it was a wrong number? What are the chances of getting a wrong number from the exact town in Saudi that you applied to? With our current luck he was phoning the local branch of Al Qaeda and we will get even more strange clicks and cut-offs on our phone line!
A big thank you to Lisa, Life of an El Paso Woman who nominated me for a Liebster Award. I was going to say this is a No Award site but the Grinch has left my soul after a lovely day working on Christmas Day and I will accept with gracious appreciation.
The rules are: 1. Say thank you to the person who nominated you. 2.Pick 5 people to nominate 3. Ask 5 questions. 4. Post the pic in the post.
These are Lisa’s 10 questions –
1. What’s your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving. Everyone can celebrate it, no one needs to fight about what they should call the holiday (yes, it’s a happy holiday :)). There are no presents and most of us have something to be thankful about.
2. What is your favorite thing to cook or bake?
Nothing at all. Does salad out of a packet count with bottled dressing?
3. What’s the best thing about the city where you live?
My city is built in an indigenous forest. There are critters everywhere. We had the infra red camera out on Christmas and counted Betsy Sue the Possum and her two kids, Louanne and Chuck, two Woodrats, Willie and Winnie, the Raccoon twins, Rocky and Robbie, KATNISS, our feral cat who came back for Christmas. We think that Betsy Sue’s ‘husband’ was there too – Travis?
4. What are some of your favorite movies?
The Wizard of Oz and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. How is that for a contrast but they both have a moral tale…
5. What was one of the hardest thing you’ve ever done in life so far?
Move to Egypt and stay there after the Gulf War started.
6. Who are you the closest with in your family?
Does my husband count? If not, probably my dead mother, I see her in the mirror every day and somehow her words come out of my mouth in an involuntary manner. “Do you want a smack?”
Here are my questions –
1. Who was your first TV/Film hero or crush?
2. What other place in the world do you think you could live in?
3. What would you like engraved on your tombstone or written on your obituary?
4. What food to you hate to eat?
5. Star Wars or Star Trek?
For some reason I thought it was perfectly okay to announce that my husband was laid off on the world wide web before telling family or friends. It is as if I am writing a diary to a special friend instead of hundreds of people. Once we started receiving email attachment and snail mail letters my husband thought that I should compose one. I had actually written a short note to put in my overseas mail but they were sent before the bad day. It was impossible to think of a way to write a letter. Should I do my usual, list our vacations, health issues and then just finish with ‘and BTW my husband was laid off’? I finally decided that humor and straight forwardness was the best bet. This is, more or less, what I wrote to friends and family (leaving out some personal details). My husband is A.
Festive Greetings friends and family
First, and most important, who sent the chocolates to Auntie M.? She thought it was me, so before any other relatives get embarrassed and have to say, “I haven’t sent you anything” please tell her who the culprit was.
I saw this marvelous quote from NBC News –‘Tis the season to get flooded with Christmas letters — often a litany of bombastic bragging disguised as holiday cheer’. I thought that is a tad harsh but sometimes I have thought that and you might have about our letters… So without further ado, as soon as we came back from a fabulous vacation in Baha, A. was made redundant or laid off, as you say in the States. His company has been really struggling with both the oil price and the hostile takeover. They kept moving him from job to job but I could see the writing on the wall.
A. has been given a good severance package and we figure we have a year to get him a job in Siberia or Saudi… At first you are devastated – what next – but then reality sinks in and you think, ‘I could be living in Syria’. He is most likely going to become an independent contractor and has been given a verbal offer of a contract in the next few months. Given how bad things are, however, we will wait until there is something in writing before we open the cheap wine.
We applied for Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act and are eligible, but not able to apply until our health coverage runs out (3 months as we are, 18 months on Cobra). I was putting off applying for Disability as my doctor suggested I do, so I will think about it seriously in January. In the meantime we had a laugh when my earnings were predicted to be more than A.’s in the next few months between the book earnings and my occasional job as a writer for a local magazine. So far, so good and I am onto my third article. Blogging is keeping me sane so there are endless blogs for you to peruse when you are bored. This is the one about A. being laid off A Bad Day This is one about our vacation in Baha The Exciting Bus Ride Our oldest cat Mrs. Stripe
So have a wonderful holiday season, Merry Christmas, Super Solstice, Happy New Year. I am working on the 25th then will come home and cook my Teddy something reasonably nice for dinner. We swapped offices yesterday and didn’t start divorce papers so all is well and we had great fun at my fancy holiday event.
Love Kerry and A. xxx
We have had a few lovely responses from friends offering commiserations to practical help such as visiting Mum in the Alzheimer’s unit in Scotland. Many people we know work in the oil industry so there is barely anyone unaffected by this current downturn. Misery loves company! I laughed when I read the quote about Christmas letters. We have no children and have traveled frequently so ours probably sounded a bit like that in the past. You tend not to say that you have had vajazzling or many psychiatrist’s visits… Still, this blog is a way for our friends to know more than they ever wanted to about our sex life, my bad mental health and all the other funny things I write about. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!