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February 23, 2020

Some things about blogging...

Perhaps tomorrow or a week from now, I'll regret saying any of these things but at the moment, I'm certain I meant every word I have written here. And I think this posts probably needs some more editing but I don't have the patience to do that right now. So if you read this to the end, I thank you and hope you'll drop by again.

01 | Now and then I had wanted to announce that I'm taking a blog break but that would be silly considering I've been taking blog breaks every other Monday. If you have visited here often, you would know I have not been posting as much as I used. I don't have a schedule but sometimes the prompts and memes that I do (ie, Top Ten Tuesday, Words for Wednesday) sort of keeps me on a schedule though I'm almost always late but mostly, I just post when I have something written or half written. Often I don't have any excuses not to blog but I don't have any excuses to blog either. I write a lot of post drafts but most of them never got posted because after reading/editing them a hundred times, something always makes me not post them.

I guess I've grown into the habit of blogging at a snail's pace which I don't think it's bad but at the same time, I do sort of feel bad about it but apparently not enough to post more. Most of the time, half of me tries desperately for something to post and the other half of me just don't care. I think I'm leaning toward the latter more often now but somehow I don't mind.

02 | I thought about creating a whole new blog and starting over again but then I realized, there's no difference between the blog I have now and a new blog that I might create. The only difference might just be the blog name. Then I thought of creating a new blog and moving everything there but then I got lazy so nothing happened. I seem to want to change blogs every other month but I don't or else I would regret it and come back here. Though I don't know why I keep coming back to this blog. I did sort of started blogging here and there were several blogs before this but I've always stayed on this blog the longest. Currently, this is my third time here. So I guess you can say I have trouble finding a blog name that I like but 'the memory of rain' always appeal to me even if I sometimes think it's not right for me. Maybe some day, I would find a blog name that I would suit me better.

03 | My purpose for blogging has not changed not much: to share stuff. That's enough, right? I mostly just like sharing something like an art piece or a piece of fiction or something that delighted me or touched me. I can't quite say art is my passion, so much so that I want to promote myself as an artist so I don't have an art blog or website. Though I've always thought I would finish writing a novel so I can promote it but honestly, that's not going to happen any time soon. But I still like to blog even if I seem to blogging less and less each year.

04 | I would like it if Google allows readers the option to use the name/url comment option without forcing people to take a difficult eye test. I tried several times to leave comments using this option but I can't get pass the image test. Select all images with palm trees. Yes, I can do that. No, I can't. Some of the images are small and a bit blurry, how am I suppose to tell? You can refresh and get a new test but mostly, they are exactly about choosing certain images with a certain object or feature which I am against because my eyesight isn't great and I can't always pick out objects from images and I certainly don't have the patience to decipher them.

I believe if someone wants to leave spam, a silly image test is not going to stop them. These image test will only annoy and frustrate readers so they would leave rather than leave a comment. I think I rather prefer to type out those Captcha words instead. At least, I can read the letters/numbers. I'm complaining because I occasionally like to leave comments but I don't always want to sign into Google. Plus I think some people would like to comment sometimes but they don't want to sign up which I can understand. I certainly would not force people to sign up for anything to read my blog or to leave a comment.

05 | I notice that I don't get many Wordpress readers anymore which is kind of sad. I'm thinking is because Google had removed a lot of comment options so Wordpress users and other type of users can't comment as easily. Most likely, Google is trying to get people to sign up for Google/Blogger and trying to divide Wordpress and Blogger users as well. I see some Wordpress users signed up for a Blogger account just to leave comments on Blogger blogs which is quite smart of them but those are very few.

06 | Am I the only one happy whenever I see someone has a blog makeover? I love seeing new blog designs and I like that some of these designs improve the blog, make it more pleasing to the eye and most of all, the change reflects the blogger way better than the previous design. So I'm happy to see the change but when the change does the opposite, I have to wonder. Recently, a group blog that I sometimes visit, changed their template to a plain one with magazine style post listing, a strange box style for each post image and using only two colors. I was rather disappointed but mostly I just don't understand the change. Not only is it boring, it looks like an unfinished blog or perhaps a blog that is trying to lose their personality to make it more generic looking? I don't know, I just know the look is very unappealing. At least, the old design has its appeal. I had visited now and then hoping they would change to something more pleasing but I lost hope.

07 | Do you write properly when leaving comments? Like capitalizing when it's needed, lines breaks for paragraphs and complete sentences? I find myself making caps and correcting phrasing and I also run a spellcheck on every comment that I write. (I usually write in a separate app and then copy and paste the text.) Before, I wrote in all lowercases and I didn't care my writing was rubbish but now I'm more careful with my words. I also write fictions so it helps me to practice, not that anyone is correcting me but it's still nice to write as best as I could even just leaving a few words on someone's blog. And I perform spellcheck for every comment because I suck at spelling. I still cannot spell procrastinate without being corrected by spellcheck.

08 | I seem to comment less these days. I read a lot of blogs (check out my reading list here) and about eighty percent of the time, I don't know what to say aside from a few nice compliments. I don't want to be obligated to leave a generic, nice comment that really doesn't sound like much even if I do mean it. I'm not going to force myself to write when I have nothing so there's my excuse for not commenting. I know I probably could do more commenting if I try harder but that's still like forcing myself so I won't make any commitments about commenting but I will say, if I leave some generic comment on your blog, it means I have enjoyed reading your blog.

09 | I still do not get email notifications when certain bloggers/readers leave comments on my blog. I think there are about 5 or 6 of them. I do check for comments but only for my more recent posts because that is where most readers leave comments but for older posts, I seldom check them. I would have to go to the comments in my blogger dashboard to see them. It's been, I think, about seven or nine years. I don't know what the problem is and I don't think it will ever get solved. So if you leave a comment on some of my older posts, please note that it would take me awhile to notice them.

10 |  I do reply to comments on each posts but I do it a lot later, like a few weeks later because I'm that lazy. But I never really know if people come back to check if there is a reply with me being so slow. It is easier if I just don't reply. Sometimes I don't think a reply is necessarily but I like to reply with something if only to acknowledge someone had visited my blog. I also occasionally return to blogs that I have commented just to read their reply.

Some bloggers reply through their blog and through email as well. I only reply through my blog because I think the thread of conversation is easier to understand. Email is great but email messages are harder to read because they go in reverse order so that your most recent message is at the top and not at the bottom. I'm a more linear kind of person so I like things to flow accordingly so I like recent message to be at the end instead of at the top. Of course I am not against responding to emails but some readers don't have email even in this modern age or that if they're on Blogger, they have their email turned off so people cannot reply to their comments through email.

11 | I'm pretty sure I'll blog into old age even if I just post one post a month. Even though I have thought about quitting blogging a lot, I don't think I ever will. It's still sad to me that so many of my favorite bloggers are not blogging. They are all on social media. I'm not against social media but I just wish people would not flock to social media and leave their blog without a blogger. I guess I just miss the old days because I may have brought this up a few times. But it really is damm disappointing to see all those blogs now gathering dust.

12 | Things that I posted seems random at times and it truly is random because I don't write anything ahead of time and I don't always post what I set out to. And I also lack motivation for reasons I can't understand. In fact, most things that I posted here came out of some stray thoughts from being awake at 3:30 in the morning or perhaps I thought of it just this morning. I started this post with various thoughts that have nothing to do with blogging. My mind seems to work at random and yet I love order and organization and so it is why this post is in list form. I think it's actually the best way to blog — just make a list and go with it.

February 13, 2020

Fiction: Aunt Beth's House

This week's Words for Wednesday is hosted by River at Drifting through life. This week's prompts are pizza, vase, racing, chainsaw, derelict, buttery and/or hand over the ham! Visit other participants at River's blog here.

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Fiction: Aunt Beth's House

Oh, do not mind me. Sit wherever you like. We do not often have visitors. When Mrs. H., my housekeeper, informed me you are here, I was pleasantly surprised. But here you are. No journalists has visited us for some years, not since Aunt Beth's passing.

Ah, you've noticed the vases. They are lovely. I do not know how many there are. Here and there, they appear all over the house. They seem to demand flowers. If you happen to see one starting to fill with water, ignore it. Aunt Beth used to have a man bring in flowers for them on a weekly bases. But later, she realized how costly that was. She then had the man emptied the vases instead. He had since retired. But Mrs. H. performs the task now, quite admirably, but I see her sometimes whispering to the vases when she thought no one is looking.

We have our own garden but we grow only fruits and vegetables. The gardener, Mr. Z., often complained about the lack of rain. But he cannot complain today. The rain will certainly bring out the zucchinis. I must call Mrs. H. to bring us some tea and cakes.

You have never met Aunt Beth? That is unfortunate. Aunt Beth was my father's older sister. I have known her since I was three when she brought me here to live with her after my parents' passing. She was very kind to me. Yes, of course, the house is mine now but I have always thought of it as Aunt Beth's house. Yes, quite a lot of rooms here. Seventeen of them.

What have you heard? Nonsense! There are no ghosts here. None that I have seen. But I do wonder why pizza boxes with books sticking out of them often appeared on the third floor guest room. Everyone I have asked, did not have an answer. Nor do I know why the teddy bears on the window sills keeps racing across rooms and even across hallways to other window sills in the house.

Indeed, we have a library that took up the whole of the fifth floor. Somehow, a white oak tree had grew on one side of the room. Aunt Beth said it appeared the same night that she brought me here. I do not remember the tree had ever been small. I guess to a child, all things looked bigger than they really are but the tree did grew. It would take a chainsaw to get the bits and pieces that had crawled into the cracks of the wall and around the book shelves. Its lean, thin branches had since glued themselves to the walls almost covering the entire room. Every time I thought it has stopped growing, I would find a new branch covering yet another patch of the walls. The book shelves holds ancient hardbacks that might fall to pieces if you pick one up. Aunt Beth had said they would not do that, not when they have been standing up for a hundred year. But I dare not give permission to anyone to try and read any of the two thousand books. Mrs. H. often pops into the library to dust but she is the only one I can trust with the books.

Oh no! You have been misinformed. Aunt Beth's spirit does not haunt her bedroom. It is true my aunt worn perfume with the scent of honey. There is a derelict dresser in Aunt Beth's bedroom that is full of old doll dresses and in the bottom drawer, there is a tiny family of spiders who likes to collect buttery honey cake crumbs. Sometimes the scent of honey would fill the room and trail through the hallways and all around the house. You can smell a bit of it now. This morning, a group of cats enticed by the scent, appeared in the yard, yearning to come inside. Thank goodness Mr. Z. knew to give them milk and send them on their way.

The kitchen is quite large. Our cook, Mrs. Q., said she feels like a queen when she prepares meals each day. But she dislikes the voice that keeps calling out 'Hand over the ham!' every time she opens the cabinet door second from the left. The voice has never explained himself. It is a man indeed as the voice is thick and husky and once in a while, he pleads for a wife.

But I'm straying. I know the many rumors that has been going around about my aunt. Some said Aunt Beth was a witch. Others said she was a goddess who once ruled the underworld. And then there are others who thought she was a crazy cat lady but without the cats. Please understand, my aunt was not a witch nor a goddess nor crazy. She was an extraordinary lady who just happened to have a peculiar taste for odd things. She even bred tiny horses. Mrs. H. and I went through her wardrobe before the funeral and we found six ponies about an inch high in a hidden compartment. One of the ponies even had a tiny white horn on its forehead. The next day, they disappeared. We never saw them again. But I'm not suppose to tell you any of these things. But just in case, drink this tea before you go.

February 9, 2020

April Gale 31

~ ~  Read previous April Gale here ~ ~

April Gale 31

April giggles at the sight of all that snow. An image of a boy with chubby cheeks comes into her mind. Has she known a boy with chubby cheeks? She shakes her head. There have not been that many children around at the farm. She had only one friend back there - James, the stable manager's son - but he was sent off to school and never came back. She remembers he had  always been too skinny to have any kind of cheeks.

She should have remember to wear gloves. The snow is freezing. Round and round, she adds more snow to the bits she is molding. Perhaps she will build a snowman. She had done it once with someone though she can't remember with whom. Now that she thinks about it, she doesn't quite remember her childhood at all. Had she been a good child? What is this strange memory she is experiencing?

She couldn't help herself. When she saw Vincent, her shoots up and the snowball fly toward him. He barely budges as it lands pass his shoulder.

April grabs more snow off the ground and presses them tighter. Someone, she doesn't know who, have taught her to build snowballs. She aims another at Vincent's right shoulder.

Vincent waves a hand and the snowball turns around and heads toward April. She dives to her left but the snowball hits her right shoulder. "Ou!"

Vincent laughs. "I apologize but that is what you get for your sudden attack."

April picks up more snow and balls them up tight and aims at his head just as he bends down to pick up some snow. It shoots past his back. She packs another snowball and aims again at his shoulder when he turns and it strike the center of his face instead."Ha!" She laughs but then she stops. It isn't fun when the opponent look so serious. Bits of snow slide down the side of his face. He wipes the rest away with the back of his hand.

Vincent retaliates by throwing a whole bunch of snowballs at her. She imagines them flying backward but only a few they did that. The rest slam into her. She picks up more snow and throws them at him without bothering to look where she is aiming. He seems to be doing the same thing. The image of the boy with the chubby cheeks appears again. She knows him or rather she knew him. His voice calls her name. Something large hit her and she falls to the ground. She touches the cold bundle of snow sliding down her head.

"April! Are you alright?" Vincent looks down on her. The image of the boy with chubby cheeks appears again, a transparent layer over Vincent's face. What is this? She blinks in successions. He does have her father's eyes. Why does Vincent have her father's eyes?

"Here." Vincent holds out a hand. She grasps it and he pulls her up but he does not let go. His eyes roam hers as if he is trying to read into her. April doesn't pull her hand away.

"Are you alright, April?" he asks again.

"Ye— Yes." She releases her hand from his and brushes snow off her coat.

"I am sorry about that. Allow me to escort you back to your room."

April's head throb but she nods.

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Josephine watches from the hall window in the West Wing. Below, she takes notes of the young man playing with April. She has not forgotten how her brother-in-law looked. This man, tall and graceful, is exactly like William. Especially when he smiles.

She looks up at the gray sky. What in heaven is happening here? Did Father know about Vincent? Of course he does. Mother often tells him all her visions and predictions. There is no way he does not know. She sighs and hopes this mess will be resolved somehow.

February 3, 2020

Books Read in January 2020

These are the books I read in January or rather, these are the books I finished reading in January but I started some of these in December and November of last year. I'm quite a slow reader these days. I don't even know why I keep losing interesting in reading/finishing a particular book. I'm afraid owning a Kindle makes it worse because now I can get my hands on more books than I can ever read. It's probably why the books listed below are very short reads but I at least finished them so that's something.

01 | Crimson Roses by Grace Livingston Hill > link
My modern and extremely reasonable & skeptical heart, thought Marion, the protagonist, is meek, naive, dumb and a martyr but my softer side thought she is a kind girl who wants people to be happy and have a very vivid faith in god. My modern heart also thought the love interest is a bit of a stalker. He acts with kindness and appears quite a nice guy though I think Marion gives in to his demands far too easily. And Isabel - she is just as a bad as she sounds - a snob who thinks the poor should not mix with the rich. But nothing happens to her even when she does bad things. It just seems like the book keeps preaching about having faith and that if you're a good person, you should not think badly of others. Marion has doubts, lots of them and she also thinks she shouldn't associate with rich people either - that kind of thinking just makes me sad but this was set in the not so modern days so I suppose such thinking is normal. So there is a happy ending but it seems to me things just got resolved far too easily but I like the writing, I like the story and I enjoyed it. 

Image from here
02 | The Fire Rose (The Elemental Masters series) by Mercedes Lackey > link
The Fire Rose is book 0.5 of the Elemental Masters Book, so technically, it's the 1st book but probably they should just said it's the 15th book so not to confuse people. Frankly, I don't quite understand the idea of putting a book at 0.5 listing although in the Amazon website, it does say this is the first book. All the books in this series are separate stories so you don't have to read all the books to know what happens which I always appreciate in book series.

Anyway, this is a sort of Beauty and the Beast retelling but with magic which frankly, there isn't a lot of it in this book. That Paul DuMond character, wow, I really didn't like reading his point of view — he is as far as villains go, quite vile. I prefer Rosalind's perspective the most. The beast character Jason Cameron, not a bad guy but I think he's a bit egotistic but he's kind though I'm still not sure if I like his character. I really enjoyed reading this book but the ending seems a bit rushed. I get what happened but still, a little more story at the end would have been nice.

Image from here
03  | The Light Princess by George MacDonald > link
This is a short fairytale story. It's written kind of like someone telling a story to a child, sometimes the words are for young children and sometimes it seems to be written for adults. There is singing, lyrics that is, which I don't care for. But it's a decent tale though I don't care much for any of the characters especially the light princess - since she has no gravity, this also means she has no seriousness about life? I don't know. There's a joke about how angels can laugh at themselves because they are light and can fly, that kind of apply to this light princess — she laughs a lot and never sobers up unless she is in the water. I guess the water weights her down though it does not explain why she is sober in the water. Overall, a delightful tale. There is no actual book cover since it's a short tale and I got it free from Project Gutenberg here. The painting above represents a scene in the story but I don't know who the artist is.

04 | Drops of Gold by Sarah M. Eden > link
I saw this at Lark's blog and it sounded good so I read it and it was good. Sometimes you want a short, sweet story and this is a short, sweet story though I really dislike that there are so many coincidences in this story but I can ignore them. I sort of don't like the final reveal of who (the protagonist) Mary Wood really is, that just seems a bit much but there is a happy ending even if it feels like it took forever to get there though the book is short.  I enjoyed it quite a lot. This is a novella and a romance, by the way.

05 | The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell > link
This is a non-fiction which I do not read a lot of. But after reading this book, I now know I can never be a bookseller but I still like the idea of owning a book store or bookshop. This book is about book shops around the world sprinkled throughout with little fun facts and notes about bookshops and stuff that you might never know. Of course I have already forgotten a lot of what I read but I do remember one of the booksellers carrying his baby on his chest and saying 'You have to start them young.' Campbell writes really well. I think I enjoy it more when she is the narrator and not other authors telling tales of their bookshop and book reading experiences. This is a book to thoroughly enjoy at the wonderment of bookshops and booksellers and also to celebrate the love of books.

Read any good book lately? Do share in the comments.

February 2, 2020

I Need Some Suggestions

April is kind of far away but it's not too soon to think about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge which I have been doing for a couple of years. This year I am simply going to write short stories, no random stuff in between. Well, maybe there will be some random stuff if I really cannot come up with a story or if I get terribly lazy. So yeah, just like what I did last year only with more laziness.

So I thought I ask my readers (that would be you reading this) to help me and offer me some inspiring words. An example: pigs, wolf, home. I would then create a story using these words, sort of something like this:

The wolf's front door slammed down and three fat pigs entered. Stunned, the wolf swallowed the bit of bread that he had taken, stood up from his chair and blew the pigs far until he saw only their tiny dots in the sky. After a few moment of stillness, the wolf sighed. He then straightened the fallen table, retrieved the plate and the half eaten bread from the floor, refilled his cup of mead and returned to eating his dinner. These uninvited appearances at his home is tiring and yet, he could not stop them. It had been years since he ate meat and nothing his mother did will make him change his mind.

This is the kind of weird and simple stuff that I usually come up with. I pretty much write whatever comes to my head which is really how I write most things anyway but for the April challenge, I'll write with a tiny structure by using words that you have thought up.

This is not a new idea. If you have noticed, I have been (occasionally) participating in Words For Wednesday and usually 10 words are given and I mostly use some of them but for this challenge, I'll try to use most of them. It's not a guarantee. I might stray and use my own words. I don't expect a lot of suggestions but if I get 26 suggestions (one suggestions for each letter of the alphabet), then it would be nice.

So what do you get out of this? Stories? Tales? Snacks? Unicorn rides in the park? Maybe. Probably. Probably not. But you will have my gratitude and my thanks.

If you're incline, leave some words in the comments and I'll use them to write a story in the A-Z Challenge in April. Thank you!