The Modern Salonnière

Pippa has let us know the sad news of the death of Sarah Vernon. Accomplished actress and artist, and one of the cornerstones of our blogging community for many years. She published the sites Rogues and Vagabonds, First Night Design, First Night History, and First Night Art. One of the first bloggers I followed, and someone I am proud to say I counted as a good friend.

Pippa Rathborne's SCRATCH POST

This is a post from 2013 dedicated to my great friend, Sarah Vernon, who died last week.

Through bad health and bad luck, Sarah’s acting career was cut short. Like many actors’ children, she could never be sure if she would have gone into the entertainment industry if her parents had not been actors. It wasn’t an industry for Sarah: it was a romance and an art. Being an actor wasn’t a job for Sarah: it was body and soul, an act of love uniting emotional aspiration with technical accomplishment, a child’s dream of perfection made real. Don’t put your daughter on the stage.

Sarah could have been a casualty of the devil’s profession, but she had a brain, a life-sustaining sense of humour, and other artistic and literary talents. She engaged in the present and the past with equal intellectual force, she was computer and internet savvy, and…

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Tumbleweed Blog

It seems that one feature of the start of 2021 is a distinct lack of blogging activity from the 100+ bloggers that I follow.

Some of you appear to have posted nothing at all, others just entries in ‘challenges’, and those usually prolific bloggers seem to have cut down their output drastically too.

With bad weather outside, and an early dog-walk under my belt, I have had plenty of time today to peruse both the world of WordPress, and even spend more time on Twitter than I usually allocate.

But there is not much happening, and I can feel the proverbial tumbleweed drifting across blank screens and unused keyboards. I even got to the end of my Twitter feed, for only the second time in eight years!

I have made a fair contribution, as this will be my third post today. And I have written up part one of my new serial, if only to give myself something to read. That will appear tomorrow morning, for anyone interested.

If this carries on, I will be having a ‘Blogs Followed’ clearout, and following some new people this year.

In fact, let’s all do that, shall we? Follow someone new, in 2021.

Guest Post: Cheryl Oreglia

I am very pleased to be able to feature another guest post from the lovely American blogger, Cheryl Oreglia.
On this occasion, Cheryl tells us the story of how she came to be a blogger.

https://cheryloreglia.blog/

She Told Me I Could Fly

“One day, I had an idea.” This is the first line in a little book my sister gave me for my birthday in May of 2015. It was written by Kobi Yamada, entitled, What do you do with an idea? She gave me this gift because she believes in me, from my earliest memories this woman has had my back, and she protects my dreams as if a bulldog. Nancy is my only sibling, she lives just seven miles away, door to door. We calculated it once for fun. She dragged me to a feng shui class a few years ago and now she claims my qi is off because my door is improperly positioned. Flamboyant and mildly quirky, she has a heart of gold, and I have shamelessly monopolized her patience and affection for over half a century. Just entering a room, Nancy can infuse the atmosphere with enormous compassion, and discernible warmth. She is the hand I reach for when I am happy, bored, bitchy, or despondent. I know her grip is solid and she will not let go.

I have to admit there is comfort in knowing at least one person in this world knows everything about me (the fraudulent weight listed on my driver’s license, my secret infatuation with Donny Osmond, even the stash of chocolate kisses I keep hidden in a tampon box in the bathroom cupboard), and she still loves me without reserve. Hiding is impossible with Nancy because she knows my moves and sees the truth often before it is apparent to me. This is the resiliency of sisterhood. And best of all, when I call her in the middle of the night because I can’t sleep, she acts like this is normal.

The import of this little book is almost too significant to explain. As I opened the exquisitely wrapped package, she sat me down and insisted I read it from beginning to end. Older sisters can be so bossy. After intentionally reading the entire book, I looked up, we didn’t speak a word, she just gave me this little nod, and I realized the depth of her fertile generosity. She was willing me to go forth with my work as a writer but I was scared. I have all the normal fears around exposure, and despite behavior to the contrary, I have never wanted people to think I am crazy, off-kilter, or worse – full of rubbish. She was begging me to jump! She doesn’t have a great track record with asking me to jump. When she was six (beyond the age of reason) and I was four she told me I could fly. I believed her and jumped off a shallow ledge, resulting in a nasty cut to my upper lip, I still have the scar to prove it. She insists the story is exaggerated but you can understand my hesitancy when she says, “jump.” I overlooked the past, took a leap of faith, and started a damn blog. My fingers actually shook when I hit the publish button for the first time. My husband immediately yelled, “You misspelled corral.” I almost fainted. Then he said, “No, no it’s right.”

“I liked being with my idea. It made me feel more alive as if I could do anything. It encouraged me to think big… and then, to think bigger,” Kobi Yamada. I started by blogging daily for the entire summer and moved to posts thereafter. It has been my greatest joy and a disastrous chore. I live in fear that I have used up all my words, there are no more valid experiences to write about, and the three people still reading (Mom, Nancy, & Larry) are doing so out of obligation (This might be true). Yamada writes, “Then, one day, something amazing happened. My idea changed right before my eyes. It spread its wings, took flight, and burst into the sky.” This happened when Krista Tippett tweeted, “I love your blog,” in my second month of blogging, she was referring to a post where I had summarized an interview she did with John O’Donohue, and she retweeted the entire post. The power of sisters, by blood or by choice, is truly a blessing. The page views lit up like the Rockies during the summer of 2015 and of course, I called Nancy to tell her about my new best friend. I think she’s jealous. She said, “Is she bothering you?” Love you my fearless guardian angel, my sister, my friend.

Blogging In 2021

Judging by the immediate new crop of new bloggers, some of whom are following my blog now, I suspect that 2021 is going to see the explosion in blogging continue, at least for now. It will be interesting to see if they carry on blogging past any return to something like ‘normal’.

If something like normal ever happens again of course.

As for me, I survived not using the Block Editor in 2020, and will continue to not use it in 2021 for as long as I am able.

At the start of last year, I was going to take a lot more photos to put on the blog. That never happened, as the stresses of the year sucked out all my enthusiasm for photography. I didn’t even bother to set up the new full-frame camera I got, and that was in mid-September. It is still sitting patiently on a shelf behind me, no doubt in need of another full charge for its battery.

I bought a combined handle and holder for my mobile phone, intending to carry it on my walks to capture more videos of Ollie.
That didn’t happen either, it’s still in a drawer.

Note to self. Don’t buy any more ‘stuff’ in 2021.

What I did do was to post a great deal on my blog. Seemingly unable to read, concentrate on films, or bother with my cameras, writing took over. That was my safe place during 2020. Sitting quietly in the office, typing away, and not thinking that much about whether that sniffle or cough was the start of impending doom.

Blogging kept me going, and it seemed to work for this blog too. Many more followers, the most views ever in one day, and welcome comments and contact from my blogging friends. That made each of us feel that we were not alone with our problems, worries, fears, or even bereavements.

I am not making any predictions for my own blogging in 2021, and definitely no resolutions. I almost gave up this blog for various reasons last year, so who knows if that might happen yet? Working hard on fiction serials that had a much reduced engagement with readers also made me think twice about continuing with fiction. My most popular posts last year were an Alphabet of things I like, followed by an Alphabet of things I don’t like. That sort of posting seems to appeal to a very wide audience, as I discvovered.

It would be nice to think I might post a lot less rants about followers who don’t follow, and comments that are links or sales pitches. I would like to think that, but I am afraid I cannot promise not to do that if the mood takes me.

And guest posts may cease to feature, as the take up for my last offer was zero.

However, if you are a part of this community, have a book to promote, or just want me to feature you as a Guest, then the offer is still open. In case you have forgotten the email address, here it is. petejohnson50@yahoo.com Write to me there, and I will reply telling you what to do.

For the time being, you can expect more of the same. Ollie and Beetley, the closing episodes of my fiction serial followed by the whole thing in one post, and random thoughts that usually occur to me on Sundays. If I watch a film I will probably review it, and if I ever finish a book again, I will make sure to review that too.

See you soon.

Happy New Year

I would like to wish all my lovely blogging friends a Happy New year for 2021. I doubt it could be worse than 2020, and we do have some hope now, with vaccination programmes being rolled out around the world.

Let’s all keep blogging, keep communicating, and continue to expand this great community that we love to be a part of.

My very best wishes to you all, Pete. X

Increased Views=Increased Spam?

Most days, I get anything from 30-40 Spam comments captured by WordPress and consigned to the Spam Folder. However on Monday, I had an an increase in the number of views on this blog after posting five rather random articles.

In that 24-hour period, I received over 800 views, which was very satisfying.

But on checking my Spam Folder, I found not the usual 30+ comments locked in there, but an unusually high 160!

So I have come to the conclusion that more views generate more Spam.

Enjoying A ‘Wallow’

beetleypete
The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Maybe it’s the time of year, the dark afternoons, or just my age, I don’t know.

But for the last couple of days, I have been enjoying a nostalgic wallow in the early days of my blog. (Hence reposting one of my original ‘Significant Songs’.) Picking a header comment, photo, and theme. Never sure if you got the blog name right, or if anyone was ever going to read so much as one word that you wrote.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I got excited to receive as many as two comments on a post, and sometimes even six likes! I would return to my old computer and check on the progress of a post, just to see if anyone else had left a comment.

One of the sad things about revisiting those posts from the first eighteen months of blogging is seeing comments from former ‘regulars’ who just disappeared, or decided to stop blogging. I wish they were still around, and if any of them read this, I hope you are well.

Using the stats page to see which posts are being read is often a revelation. People have been reading posts that I had forgotten about, and in some cases don’t even remember writing. I love it when someone randomly reads very old stuff, as it reminds me of a time when I really didn’t have the first clue about blogging. (Before you tell me, I know I probably still haven’t)

FR (Fragglerocking) wisely counsels me to always look forward, and to never dwell in the past. But I can’t help myself, especially where my blog is concerned.

I am sure you all remember those tentative first steps. Checking your post over and over before hitting ‘Publish’, then wondering if anyone other than your best friend was ever going to bother to read it. The first time you were notified that you had a follower whose name you didn’t know, or received a comment from an experienced blogger who said something nice about your post.

Blogs needs to evolve to survive, and to remain interesting. But there is little to compare with that thrill of those early posts, and the feeling of dipping a toe into the vast ocean of communication and community known as Blogging.

So if you will forgive me, I am going back for another short wallow.

An Unexpected Gift

I was surprised to receive a very welcome but unexpected gift in the post today. It was not wrapped in gift paper, so I had no choice but to see what it was.

Given my recent rant about use of the word ‘Awesome’, I have my suspicions that it was sent by someone who reads my blog.

It was posted in England, but has no sender details, and no card or other note inside the parcel

So whoever you are, thank you. I love it!

(But it’s still not awesome… 🙂 )

Some Rare Praise For WordPress

As most of you will know by now, I rarely have anything good to say about WordPress. Whether it is the fact that they will not be retaining the Classic Editor soon, or the endless glitches that fling our comments into Spam Folders, the host company of our blogs has received the sharp end of my keyboard on more occasions than I care to remember.

However, credit where it’s due.

This morning, I received conflicting communications about the renewal of my paid ‘Personal Plan’. One message said I had to renew it, and another told me it had been automatically renewed, supplying me with a confirmation invoice number to prove that.

So I used the ‘Live Chat’ system to query the confusion.

They replied instantly. I typed out my question, and received a reply resolving the issue in less than sixty seconds. I know this is not available to anyone who uses the Free Option. But at £3 a month, it has to be worth it. And it gets rid of the advertisements too. Some people pay that much every day for a takeaway coffee.

Compare that to so many years of teeth-grinding frustration trying to contact WP through the help pages and forums.

Comments Awaiting Moderation: A Warning

In the past four days alone, I have counted fifteen comments awaiting approval that were merely links to a post or product for sale by the person supposedly commenting on my post. I have warned you before, and here is that warning again.

A link to what you are selling is NOT a comment.

A link to your post is NOT a comment.

Just asking me to follow your blog is NOT a comment.

Anyone who does this on my blog is instantly SPAMMED, and the comment deleted.

So don’t tell me you haven’t been warned.