Monday, June 11, 2007

My Blogging Story

Chili wants to know, and since I am a big fan of Chili's, I'm going to answer her questions.

How did you start blogging?

Daughter Jeana introduced me to blogging when she started her blog,

I had never heard of blogging. But you know if my little girl is doing it, then by golly I am going to read it. So I did. And she introduced me to other bloggers. And then she started pestering me to start a blog. So I did. As an English teacher, writing of any kind interests me. I hadn't been doing much writing for a long time, and starting a blog seemed like a good way to get myself to write more often.

Did you intend to be a blog w/a big following? If so, how did you go about it?

No, I never thought much about who would read it, other than my daughter, and maybe a few other family members. If I knew how to be a "blog with a following," believe you me I would do it. Having people comment on what I write is such a huge rush! It's even better than getting something published, because people respond immediately and personally.

What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful? If not, do you have a plan to achieve those goals?

My goals....hmmm... Mostly my goal was to preserve some of our family stories, experiences, humorous incidents, for our grandchildren. We are a family of story tellers, but when someone passes, that person's stories are often muddled or forgotten. I hope to preserve some of their stories here, so that years from now our grandchildren and their grandchildren can read about my granddaddy and what a kind person he was, and about Wick's cousin who drove a tractor through Highland Park late one night, and the time Wick and I had a date and his car blew up on the way.....
You know....all those stories that all families have.

Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How?

No. Stuff just keeps happening, and I keep writing about it. I still have a bunch of stories to tell, one of these days. I do hope I am getting better as a writer.

What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started?

I wish I had chosen a shorter, easier name for my blog. jeana is actually responsible for the title. She said it was so descriptive of how I think.
I wish I was better organized.

Do you make money with your blog?

I wish!

Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why?

Yes, they know about it. A few read it. If they don't, it's probably because they are not particularly tech-savvy. My mother would probably read it, if she used a computer.
My husband reads our daughter's faithfully. He reads mine if I insist.

What two pieces of advice would you give to a new blogger?

1. Get a copy of Blogging for Dummies. My daughter-in-law got me a copy, and it was very helpful.
2. Write regularly. Read regularly. Leave comments. Become active in the blogging community. New friends, great advice (sometimes), lots of laughs, and sometimes very thought provoking--that's what blogging is for me.

Now, go to Chili's and read about other people's bloggy adventures.

Zebras and rhinos and ostriches, OH MY!

Last week daughter Jeana invited us to join her and her family for a couple of days of their vacation, which we were very excited about. I mean, really, how many people's kids actually *want* them to come along on vacation! We were delighted to accept, especially since it was the day on which they were going to Fossil Rim exotic animal park.

If you have never been to one of these places, it's sort of like a zoo, except that instead of the animals being in cages, they are running loose, and you drive your car through the park to see the animals. When you buy your tickets, you have the opportunity of also buying a bag of food pellets (they look like pressed cardboard, and smell vaguely like graham crackers--they taste awful--and yes, we did taste them).

As you drive through the park, you can entice many of the animals to come right up to the car, by offering them these pellets. Apparently they taste better to the animals than they do to humans.

Since there were too many of us for one car, we took two, and divided the kids between us. The girls rode with us, and we followed the car with the boys in it. A good deal of our time was taken up with the kids waving, shouting, and squealing at each other from one car to the other. This was a show in itself.

One of our first encounters was with a large ostrich. Ostriches tiptoe like giant, fluffy, feather dusters in toe-shoes. Their long, muscular legs are a sharp contrast to their dainty steps, like ballerinas on pointe.

This ostrich stood right by the road, exacting a toll from each car that passed. The girls told us to put the pellets in the groove of the window, and the ostrich would take the food from there. The girls were right.
The huge bird pecked the food from the window groove, bit by bit, and then looked for more. I reached into the paper bag for more food, but the ostrich was too impatient to wait for me to deposit it in the window groove. He stuck his whole head through the window, his huge shiny eyes intent on the bag of feed, and his huge hard bill much too close to my face.
When I reacted by screeching, waving my hands wildly about my head, and making shooing sounds, the little girls in the back seat dissolved into giggles.

Knowing that we had a couple more hours of animals to feed, we reluctantly left him waiting for the next car, and drove on.

We saw many kinds of small deer, antelope, kudu, gazelles. Many would come quite close to the car, waiting for us to throw a handful of food, which they eagerly lipped from the grass. Lolly worried about them getting bugs in their food, but as Katoushka pointed out, they probably eat a lot of bugs on the grass when no people are around to feed them.

One highlight of our drive was the giraffes. I had never seen these tall, graceful animals so close before. One, a baby, was probably only about six and a half feet tall, and was very curious about us, bending his long neck to peer at us through his amazingly long and thick eyelashes. They remind me of sunflowers, on long, slender stems.

Another was the zebra, who ate food pellets out of my husband's hand, and allowed him to pet his soft nose, just like a horse.
Just twenty feet before we saw the sign that said, "Warning. Do not feed zebras by hand. They bite."

About half way through our trip, we stopped at the gift shop/picnic area for lunch under the shade trees. Since we forgot paper plates, napkins, or paper towels, we had to make our sandwiches on our palms, and eat the chips directly from the bag.

For Big D, I think the highlight of our lunch was the grapes. He had been hungry for fruit the night before, and asked if he could eat some. Jeana told him no, the grapes were for our picnic. He asked if he could have some strawberries. Jeana said no, those are to put on Katie's birthday cake. And the bananas were for breakfast. Finally he sighed dramatically, and asked, "Is there any fruit here that I can actually eat?"

A-man, our budding naturalist, told us many facts about the various animals we had seen. Near the picnic area there were large open-air cages of birds, which were fascinating. We ate a leisurely lunch, looked at the birds in the cages and the ones flying free around the picnic tables, and toured the gift shop, which was filled with all kinds of stuff, ranging from hugely expensive wood carvings and decorated ostrich eggs to games that promised to add to our knowledge of the animals in the park. I looked at the walking sticks, and seriously considered buying one, which I thought was eminently sensible, considering my past history.

However, I just couldn't convince myself to spend that much money for what was, after all, basically a big stick.

Since we had to be back in our home town in time to pick up Frankie the Pomeranian, we had to take leave of our babies at that point, and finish the drive alone. We left the remains of our feed bag with them, so that they would have more to offer to the other animals they might encounter. We did not anticipate that either the ostrich from the beginning of our trip, or a close relative, would be waiting for us around the bend.

He was standing in the middle of the road, wings spread to make himself look even larger than he was already. The road is too narrow to drive around him, so we a crawl.....and finally had to stop, because the ostrich clearly had the right of way.

He held his head high, making eye contact through the windshield, and obviously waiting for us to offer some food. Wick and I looked at each other and shrugged. We didn't have any food. So we sat there, waiting for him to move.

He didn't.

He bobbed his head up and down.
He examined each headlight.
He inspected the front bumper.
He looked over every inch of the hood, the windshield, and the wiper blades.
He made the kinds of noises a large, impatient bird makes when people don't cooperate by paying their toll of food pellets.
He did not move out of the road.

We had been warned not to honk at the animals, so we couldn't honk.
We couldn't drive around.
We couldn't take another road, since there was only the one.
We waited.
And waited.

Finally, I rolled down my window and waved my hand gingerly at the ostrich.
Who assumed that I must be offering food, finally.
He stuck not only his head but his whole impossibly long neck through the window.
My previous squawking was nothing to the panicked gestures with which I tried to shoo this bird out. Finally he stepped back and allowed us to pass.

As we drove past, I could see him staring us down, and muttering to himself about people who trick birds by making them think food is being offered, and then stiffing them.

That's the first time I have ever been given the bird by a bird.