Voluptuous, vivacious and versatile – that’s me!

My first taste of internet sex was back in the Nineties, when the World Wide Web was a flimsy new creation draped over the moldering corpses of newly extinguished dinosaurs. My business partner and I heard about it (the web, that is; we had no clue about its pornographic potential) and decided we needed to get connected. Boffins installed a modem, did mysterious things to our computers, told us many things that we wrote down and hoped one day to understand, and left us to unravel the mysteries of email and web surfing.

Those boffins were mischievous young men. In the course of getting me set up they signed me onto an online dating site, so when I finally figured out how to open my email I found it awash in penises. There were startling measurements, intriguing claims, invitations to conduct a personal inspection at a time and place of my choosing, and even photographs.

Young surprised woman sitting in front of laptop.
Surprise! (Source)

Nowadays, of course, we can find exactly the same stuff on Craigslist, but back then it made me blink a bit. There were a few penis-free emails (well, not totally penis-free, but the penis was implied rather than being central to the message) and I responded to some of those and it was all rather entertaining, except that it bothered me that all these hopeful young men clearly had expectations based on an ad that didn’t necessarily my reflect my personal inclinations. I eventually got one of my cyber-swains to send a link to the ad and, yeah, it was pretty much as expected. So I deleted it … and replaced it with my own creation, headed: “Voluptuous, Vivacious and Versatile Sweetheart”. Something along those lines, anyway.

And, well, apparently this description still applies, since I have just lately been honored with a Versatile Blogger Award AND a Liebster Award. (Liebster means “sweetheart”, according to Herr Professor Google.)

I have a rule when it comes to awards, which is that their rules don’t apply. My blog, my rules – okay? On the other hand, I do appreciate the compliment, and I welcome the excuse to introduce bloggers I enjoy to bloggers (and others) who enjoy me. (My writing, I mean. Let’s not get carried away here – the penis story is over, folks!)

So here is Jamila, whose blog Thisizapen is a fun read. She’s bright and articulate, and she has a zest for life and an eye for the absurd that bubbles out in her writing. Hop on over and enjoy. And Jamila, thanks for the Liebster. You now have five reasons why I think you’re epic, and maybe I’ll answer more of your questions … one day.

Also, I’d like to introduce My Perfect Breakdown, who writes mainly about the challenges of recurrent pregnancy loss and cross-border adoption. This is a world so far from my experience that I honestly don’t know how I stumbled upon her blog, but she writes with such honesty and so much feeling that I find myself compelled to stick around. I’d encourage you to pay her a visit. And Ms MPB, thanks for the Versatile Blogger Award! Some random facts about me coming up!

Okay, now I’m supposed to nominate a total of 26 bloggers, but that’s just silly, so I’m just going to pick three for each award.

liebster-award

First, the Liebster, which is for bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. Not all these bloggers reveal their numbers, but they’re all new to the blogiverse so I’m taking a crazy chance and nominating them anyway.
Living Between Breaths is by a mom who lost her teenage son last year to a brain aneurysm. Her courage takes my breath away.
Tim at Party of One, Meal for Two is a young gay man who writes with heart and humor about his search for a life partner.
Absynthe Minded’s Fairy Dust is all sorts of this and that – something very new by a talented blogger.

versatile-bloggerNext, for the Versatile Blogger Award I’d like to nominate:
Fiona’s Favourites, mainly because it’s fun but a little because she’s a fellow South African. Also, her recipes are wonderful!
The Tempest and the Teapot, which is every bit as amusingly random as the name implies.
Exile on Pain Street, who has been writing entertaining, sometimes thought-provoking vignettes about his life for the past quarter century or so – and I know this because, in addition to commenting on life today, he periodically publishes a post from one of his old journals. It’s good stuff!

Right, and now I get to talk some more about me… and … umm, no, I simply can’t bring myself to answer a list of questions-about-myself per the award rules. I don’t read lists like that posted by other people either. Sorry, not trying to be rude, and I really do appreciate the vote of confidence, but trust me on this – my list of answers would be very, very boring.

So … instead of lists, here are some odds and ends I found in my “potential blog posts” pile, for your reading entertainment.

Search terms

Sooner or later, every blogger writes a post about the search terms used to find their blog, and when I read these posts I’m consumed with envy because having bizarre and creepy search terms is second only to having a dedicated troll. They let you know you’ve arrived in the blogiverse. Well, things are going a little slowly here … Since December, the search term that most commonly brings anyone to my blog is “bookworm costume”. Really, Google? Yes, my parents did indeed perpetrate a bookworm costume upon my person – but there is so much more to me than that!

Things did look up a little last month, when someone found me by searching for “2015 hot fat sugar granny who want to…” hmm, yes, I’ll leave the rest of that one to your imaginations. Suffice to say that this site must have been quite the disappointment. But it raises a concern. If I want to be noticed (and yes, to be honest, I do, a little bit, anyway), and if I don’t want to be perceived merely as an unreliable authority on Really Terrible Fancy Dress Ideas For Dweebs, do I have to write more about bodily functions? Because I can do that – but if I do, will you still respect me in the morning?

So a parrot walks into a bar…

Not really. It was a restaurant, and I didn’t see the parrot walk in because it was already there when we arrived. I saw it sitting on a big hunk of tree branch, and I got all excited because it was an African grey, and – as everyone knows – they are really smart and interesting and, in every possible way, evidence that African is better. Since this happened during Himself’s first visit to South Africa, I was eager to embrace any opportunity to demonstrate the fundamental and broad-ranging superiority of all things African to him.

So I rushed over to the parrot to get acquainted, and he crooned in a friendly sort of way. A passing waitperson warned me, “Be careful – he bites!” … and the parrot cocked his head and did a little dance on the end of the branch closest to me. I sidled closer, and he leaned, and he crooned, and I murmured sweet nothings, and boop-de-boop he hopped onto my arm and scuttled up to my shoulder.

Awww... ain't that cute! And Not depraved at all!
Awww… ain’t that cute! (If you ignore the depraved look in his eye.) (Source)

“Oh boy … he likes you,” commented another waitperson in tones of gloom. Feeling rather smug, I pranced around the restaurant a bit, enjoying the other patrons’ looks of envy. The parrot nibbled my ear and crooned a bit more. I sat down to eat, and he shared my salad. He snuggled up really close to me, and sort of cuddled. It was so sweet!

“That bird is humping your shoulder,” commented my adoring spouse.

“Oh rubbish!” I said, and offered the parrot another nibble of something tasty. The parrot sort of shuddered, ruffled all his feathers, crooned again, and commenced to hump my ear.

I raised my hand in an attempt at gentle discouragement and – YIKES! “They told you he bites,” remarked Himself, dispassionately.

I became aware that the other patrons were not, in fact, looking envious … although they certainly were looking, and they seemed to be enjoying the show. In fact, I had the feeling that some were regulars who had seen this show before, and would continue to enjoy it for as long as there were tourists to keep it running. It was time to dislodge Humpty Parrot. My head held high, I walked the length of the restaurant and nudged my shoulder against his branch in an encouraging, get-the-hell-offa-me way.

He scuttled to my other shoulder, clamped my ear with his beak and, with a glazed expression in his beady parrot eye, commenced frottage upon my pony tail. It took the manager and two waitpersons, armed with large towels, to get the bloody bird off me.

And I have to say, I think the applause, as I walked back to my seat, was entirely unnecessary.

While on the subject of body parts…

… in the context of the fact that South Africa just is better, did you see what our boys have done now?

Seriously, I’ve always enjoyed opportunities to brag about us pioneering heart transplants. And I think it says a lot about our values as a nation that we started with the heart. But this? It just makes a girl proud!

Awww ... ain't that cute!
Awww … ain’t that cute! (Source)

So … your turn. Have you ever found true love/had sex online? And has this ever involved a parrot? Did you find this blog by googling “lonely African grey needs love”?

WordPress – You don’t decide who is Popular

I don’t especially like Opinionated Man’s blog. I followed him way back because he was one of the first bloggers to follow American Soustannie, and he had a number of posts that I, as a baby blogger, found helpful. But after a while I unfollowed him, for several reasons. Firstly, I wanted to take my time about figuring out how this whole blogging thing works (and I was more interested in creating something I liked, that expressed who I was, than in generating huge numbers of followers, which is a big part of what he’s about. If you want to be a power blogger, he will tell you how!) Also, he posted too often for my taste, and some of his posts annoyed me. (Like he says, he’s opinionated!)

But even though I’m not a fan, I’m grateful to Jason for what he does, and I see him as an important member of the WordPress community. Like when I, as a really new blogger, used his platform to introduce myself to the world. Some visitors stopped by as a result of that. I’m not sure whether any of them actually followed me, but that’s not the point. The point is, Jason the Opinionated Man gave me a chance to be seen – and if I’d wanted to continue hanging out with his crowd there would have been many more opportunities to promote this blog – because that’s one of the things he does. He has intentionally set up his blog to provide a communal platform that pretty much anyone, as far as I know, can use.

Opinionated Man has created a platform for a network that sustains the WordPress community. Even though I don't necessarily want to be locked into it all the time, I like knowing it's there.
Opinionated Man has created a platform for a network that sustains the WordPress community. Even though I don’t necessarily want to be locked into it all the time, I like knowing it’s there.

So okay, I followed for a bit, then I unfollowed. Every now and then I’d see a reference to his blog somewhere and I’d pop in, check him out, usually learn something new, and then move on. The free market in action. It WORKS, guys, really it does!

Does he read every blog he follows? Probably not. Certainly he’s never commented on mine, although he liked one or two posts back in the day when the encouragement meant a lot to me, before I got a little bit established. Do I want to blog the way he does? Nope; my priorities are different. But so what? I figure it’s not my job to judge how he manages his blog or how he uses his blogging time. What I see is a guy with an unusually community-oriented approach to the blogiverse; I see someone who appears to answer every comment anyone leaves on his blog (and there are many), and who actively tries to help other bloggers both by providing a platform and by answering requests for advice.

And now I see WordPress making his life difficult and, in the process, taking something away from the overall WordPress blogger community.

Recently I became aware of some kind of turmoil surrounding Jason’s blog. I still don’t know all the ins and outs of it, but it seems the powers that be within WordPress decided they didn’t like his Power Blogger approach and restricted some of his activity. So his supporters created a bit of an uproar, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who didn’t like what WP was doing and re-followed him in order to keep track of events, and WP reinstated whatever it was they had taken away. So far so good.

Well, apparently now WP is at it again. And once again I don’t know the details, and I don’t expect them to affect a little fish like me … but I have to take issue on the basis of principle.

To be quite clear, I think WP has the right to set whatever rules they like, and shape this platform any way they like. They own it. I can’t walk into a store and tell them how to run their business.

But in the same spirit, I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, because I think they’re jerks. I hate the way they treat their staff and their suppliers, the fact that a huge amount of the stuff they sell comes direct from the sweatshop to you appalls me, and their chilling effect on the economies of small communities scares me. So I won’t go there and I preach against them at any opportunity. Equally, I choose to shop at Yokes as often as I can, even though I can’t afford to do all my shopping there, because I like the fact that they’re employee-owned and that they support small local farmers and they have a good range of organic products. That’s because I believe in putting my money where my values are.

I think the same kind of choice may be arising here. I’m probably not going to up and leave immediately if Opinionated Man does, because it’s a hassle and I’m just starting to feel comfortable in this blogging thing … but the fact that WP is restricting the way in which a respected colleague runs his blog will definitely impinge on my comfort level. It’s likely that I’ll start looking around, familiarizing myself with the alternative options. And I’ll be watching to see if there is a pattern of behavior emerging here that I don’t want to live with.

How do you make your choices?
How do you make your choices?

I was just going to “like” Jason’s post and hope that a few of my followers would read it … but then it occurred to me that this made an interesting follow-on to my last post. This whole situation, and how I feel about it, and how it influences my future choices vis-a-vis blogging – in a small way, it’s about my personal values. And the thing is, I believe in freedom – including the freedom to post things that people find obnoxious, and the freedom to follow or not follow, like or not like.

What do you think? When you choose a provider of a service or a product, do you care about whether their values match yours? And if so, does it bother you that WordPress might be bullying one of its most influential and effective bloggers?

Omigosh – I got my first award!

Dang it, I feel so … so … appreciated! First 100 followers, and now this. This little blog has come of age just in time for Christmas! And yeah, I know that when I’m a real grownup I’ll just smile graciously and say, “Oh how nice!” – or maybe even have a sign up saying, “Thank you, but this is an Award-Free Blog”. But face it, I’m just not that much of a grown-up – or, come to think of it, that much of a snot.

So thank you Tim, aka Battlewagon (I have no idea why but would be fascinated to learn), at Flying Here In The Middle Of Somewhere, for nominating me a “Very Inspiring Blogger” and thereby simultaneously giving my ego a huge boost and providing the topic for this post! Go check out Tim’s blog, guys. He will inspire you in all sorts of unexpected and entertaining ways.

For instance, I am now inspired to tell you about my past award-winning experiences. Like the race I ran in about third grade. I came in FIRST! Yes indeed, I was right at the head of the pack! Okay, so the race I won was the one that started after the race I was actually running in, but what the hey – a win is a win, right?

Sure looks like a winner to me! (Pic from DPC)
Sure looks like a winner to me! (Pic from DPC)

And then there was the eisteddfod I sang in when I was about 12. Oh, wait, I didn’t actually win that. But I bet I would have if I hadn’t accidentally sung the choir piece instead of my solo! Well, half of it, anyway. I stopped with a sort of squawking noise when I noticed the dismayed expressions of my fellow choir members. You’d think eisteddfod judges would be used to overlooking the odd little squawk or two!

Back in those days, we didn't give microphones to kids performing on stage.
Back in those days, we didn’t give microphones to kids performing on stage. (Pic from DPC)

And of course there was the time I got voted onto the Student Representative Council at my university, when I was only a first year student. How’s that for huge political success? Well, yes, there were only five delegates running for five seats on the SRC … and after I got elected they changed the rules so that people had to get some minimum number of votes in order to be elected. But I would almost certainly have got more votes if the buttons of my blouse hadn’t all popped open while I was in the middle of a stirring speech to the largest of the men’s residences. Or … on consideration … maybe fewer votes. Ja, let’s not think too hard about that one. The point is, I was elected, and consequently, in an era when women’s residences were locked at 8PM every night except Saturday, when the curfew was 10PM, I – as a designated Highly Responsible Person – received a back door key.

But enough of past glories; it’s time to focus on the present. Here are the rules of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

1. Thank the person who nominated you by linking his/her blog and display the award logo.  – Done, sort of … For the life of me I can’t figure out how to get the image to stick to my widget area. Oh well! Here it is, just in case you don’t believe I actually did in fact manage to inspire someone.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award
Proof that I’m inspiring! You saw it on the internet, so obviously it’s true!

2. Nominate 15 other blogs (more or less). Link their blogs and inform them about the nomination. –  See the list below. These are all blogs I enjoy and recommend.

3.  Mention three things that inspired you the most this week (you can talk about last week’s inspiration too). – Ja, well … I’m taking a different approach to that question. Because I can!

My nominations for the award, in no significant order, are:

1. Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, whose passion for living with integrity, and particularly with regard to her stand against slavery, has forced me to check many of my own values and choices.
2. The Maven of Mayhem, who at present focuses mainly on the challenges and joys of raising a transgender child. She has opened my eyes to a world I had never imagined.
3. The Green Study, which regularly forces me to rethink my own lifestyle choices and priorities, especially with regard to writing.
4. Verbal Dreaming, where Liz shares concise and always insightful thoughts about her writing process. I rarely read one of her posts without feeling challenged.
5. The Monster in your Closet, where Deborah’s discussions about racism – both as it appears on the national stage and within her own small multiracial family – have forced me to rethink many of my assumptions.
6. Notes from the UK, a reliably good read that has reawakened my desire to visit England, plus she’s a published (!!!) author who has just brought out a new book!
7. Raptitude is a live-life-better self-improvement self-awareness blog, a genre I normally avoid … except this one makes sense.
8. Hacker, Ninja, Hooker, Spy is guaranteed to inspire a laugh, plus when I realize how much I enjoy reading about Aussa’s crazy life I can believe others might want to read my own strange stories too.
9. I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog is funny and smart and always readable, and in between making me laugh Katherine quite often inspires me to think about things and wish, quite seriously, for a do-over so I can make the world – or at least myself – better.
10. Amayzing Graces offers a daily reminder of what it means to follow Christ in the small things of life.
11.  You’re Doing It Wrong is more good reading. Therese O’Neill bounces through life without, apparently, paying too much attention to accepted boundaries, and then she writes about what happens. It’s funny and quite often poignant.
12. Do Not Get Sick In The Sink Please inspires me to have sex in various interesting places and ways. (Note to self: Share with Himself.)
13. Mother Hen Diaries is warm, happy writing by a warm, happy woman, and reading her blog just makes me feel good. Plus it’s quite often funny. And she inspires me to take better care of my chickens.
14. One Cool Site is an invaluable resource for bloggers, with a vast collection of tips and suggestions. It’ll inspire you to do great things with your blog!
15. If all else fails…use a hammer makes me laugh, makes me kick my butt to get back to writing, and sometimes makes me homesick. And, yes, all that is inspiring!

And that is quite enough from me. I don’t have to list “three things that inspired me this week” because at least three of these bloggers posted something – and, as explained above, they all inspire me. That applies even to those who will ignore this award because they are hugely successful and don’t need my piddling endorsement. I’ve listed them because I want to share them with you, my loyal readers!

And, of course, there’s the friend I wrote about in my last post. She has inspired me to be a better person. You could read about her too, if you haven’t already done so.

Triple digits!

Picture from Dollar Photo Club
Picture from Dollar Photo Club

Oh my word – it finally happened – I got my first century! Thank you all for your support. It feels wonderful to have people who consider my nonsense worth the time it takes to read – especially when you comment! Knowing you’re out there … well, it encourages me to keep pecking away at my writing – the thing I most love and need to do, yet the thing I am most likely to avoid any time I’m distracted by happy times, sad feelings, uncompleted chores, looming deadlines, and in short pretty much anything that seems easier than actually thinking about what I want to say, and then saying it as well as I can. Run-on sentences and all. (Yes, I know when I’m breaking the rules – I just don’t care.)

A special thank you to Caroline, for being my 100th follower. Swing by her blog and take a look, guys!

Checking in

I don’t really have anything to say.

No, that’s not true. I have lots to say. LOTS. It’s piling up in notes on scraps of paper, and emails to myself, and half-written drafts. I am standing in an autumn storm of ideas – bright leaves swirling about my head, making me dizzy. Which one to grab next? Oops – grabbed two – let go, two is too many, grab another – no, not that one, how about that one? – No, too big for right now.

That’s how it is. Until I turn away, drift over to the Reader, drown myself in the words written by others – so talented, such interesting lives / ideas / problems, so dedicated and so damn disciplined about meeting deadlines – what can I possibly say that’s worth hearing inside of all that?

I cut back my Prozac dose. Sick of depending on drugs to function. So am I depressed?

Prozac makes you fat. There have to be better ways to deal with depression.

So what have I actually done just lately? I have read a lot of books. Most of them were pretty bad, but there were a few good reads and a couple of real gems.

I have spent time with my friend, keeping her company as she continues to take step after slow, steady step into the Valley of the Shadow. It looks like she will still be with us for Thanksgiving, but Christmas? Hard to say. I hope that the end, when it comes, is in keeping with the gentle dignity of her spirit. For now, she says the pain isn’t bad. She enjoys and actively participates in the life she still has. I helped her rescue a cat the other day – a sweet, skinny stray who managed to spend a few days in our guest bathroom without getting eaten, before I could hand her off to a rescue.

Himself brought home another stray dog, and we’re fostering her for the rescue we founded. Apart from that, I am maintaining my Retired From Rescue status. Burnout is a bitch, and although it’s been most of a year I’m still not ready to get back into that particular frying pan!

Koeitjie
Koeitjie – “Little cow”. She is an absolute sweetheart, and just a pup, who has clearly been well loved. How does a dog like this end up dumped?

Work continues on the veggie garden. Most of the effort lately has been by Himself and a helper, but I am the Inspirational Driving Force, plus when Himself finishes doing one last tractorly sweep of the area I will start building raised beds. Maybe next year I will actually succeed in producing the cornucopia of produce that dances across my dreams every spring! (No, I don’t know whether cornucopias dance, but probably they don’t. Yes, I’m aware that, in that case, that’s a mixed metaphor. I don’t care.)

I have been doing a lot of thinking about God and the Bible and Stuff, and my thoughts are finally coalescing into something I can write about.

Right now I am gearing up for NaNo. Because, when you are struggling to get moving, the best thing to do is to attach a rocket to your arse. So, three days to countdown, and them BOOM! … I hope.

Your turn! Please talk to me.
Do you ever find yourself stuck and overwhelmed by too many choices? How do you get traction? Are you doing NaNo this year?