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Saturday 30 October 2010

The Sunday Roast

Let's Open The Door To Amelia's Creative World Of Art

This week I am delighted to introduce an artist, maker, workshop leader, and creator of the 'experimental art e-course' and 'gift grants'.

 . . . . . and here is a more familiar photo used when she comments - many will recognise it.


Amelia also has a very impressive and comprehensive website, Amelia Critchlow, outlining her artwork, gallery, workshops she runs, experimental art e-course . . . and much, much more.  It's well worth a long visit here to see what makes this clever and talented lady tick . . . . and of course we have her blog, the main focus of attention for this Sunday Roast.

This week's interview is with, you've guessed it, Amelia Critchlow
who writes the blog, 101 Bird Tales

Thank you for the interview, Amelia, and the very interesting insight into what you do.

A very warm welcome to you and your followers

Here's the first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?

Eddie, firstly thank you for having me on the Sunday Roast, very honoured to be invited!

(You are most welcome, Amelia, I'm sure all will agree, it's great to have you here)

I blog because as an artist, I had all my visual and creative things on-line on my art website, but I love writing too, and decided a blog was an excellent way to muse about my art; why I did it, and how I got to be doing it in my life and connect with others. At school and uni I could never separate my love of words and images, and now blogging has enabled me to combine the two and get back in touch with my love of writing and connecting with others.

(Great combination and very professionally done might I add)
What's the story behind your blog name?

Ah, now that’s an interesting one and believe me, a lot of thought went in to that name, but no-one’s asked me about it before. Whilst doing my art degree I spent a lot of time looking for famous female artists, but there weren’t as many as the ‘masters’. I looked at the way women were referred to and often portrayed in magazines etc and one thing I noticed was how many references there were to women as creatures – bird is a common one and so I wanted to make a play on ‘bird’ but at the same time I like what birds themselves symbolise: freedom and flight, and for me, by doing art I am taking that flight of freedom and at the same time sharing my tales about it ie.  ‘101 tales’! So there you go, it’s out there now.

(I bet a lot of your readers will be fascinated by this, Amelia)

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

The best thing about blogging has simply got to be the community and kindred spirits out there. As a result of the kindness, sharing, support and compassion I have been able to run my on-line experimental art e-course. It all started with the generosity of Susannah Conway who afforded me the time to speak about getting my on-line course up and running and since then I have met a whole community of creative supportive and lovely people. I wouldn’t have been here and met you if it wasn’t for the lovely on-line community. I have also made some firm real time friends and met up with bloggers from across the pond, and it’s been brilliant!

(BlogLand is indeed a great community with some wonderful people.  I have made some great friends here too) 

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

The best advice I would give would be: commit, comment, share, make friends, reach out. But for more detailed info on this one, I’ve recently done a post entitled top tips I’ve learnt about blogging in the last year.

(I MUST read that one . . . will do so soon . . . . so put the kettle on . . . coffee, milk but no sugar)

What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?
Why Is it Still OK To Judge Children With Challenging Behaviour? by a good friend of mine both in the blog world and in real time. She recently won the MADS most inspiring blog award. She shares some amazing insights into what it’s like to live with . . . . well, I’ll let you read and see.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?

Probably this one,

(I can guarantee - Everyone will take a looksee at that . . . LOL)

Which two blogs would you recommend for roasting?

I would recommend Concetta over at Glittering Shards and
Louise over at Louise Gale

That concludes the formal aspect of the interview but it would be nice to get to know you a little better while you are slowly turning on the roasting spit.  So while you are screaming in agony above the open fire here are a few more questions for you.

Pick three things you can't live without.

Love, my family, and making art.

If we were to make a movie about BlogLand, what would it be and who would you cast in the leading roles?

It would have to be a piece of experimental art film, where the plot unfolds in the most unexpected ways, there are no heroes or heroines, no-one knows what’s going to happen next and it goes on a little like ongoing improvisation. It reminds me of this piece of art work I went to see at the White Cube Art Gallery in Masons Yard, Green Park, London recently. Artist, Christian Marclay has made a 24 hours loop film run of spliced together bits from a tonne of different films, with each take referring to time either by discussion or actual clock. There are huge sofa’s to sit on in the dark and whatever time you go and see the film it’s the same time in real life as it is on the bit of film you are watching! As you can see I was very excited by this and found it different and interesting and this is how I view blogland I guess too. There’s a bit of Alfred Hitchcock in there too!

(True improvisation . . . . sounds good!  But no part for me. then LOL)

If you could live your life again who would you be, and why?
The strange, but maybe good thing is, that I would be exactly who I am today. Either that or a famous female artist, but I think being myself is good. I have learnt, and am still learning so much, and as tough as it can be at times, boring it never is!

(Good choice - do you know I have been doing these roasts for over a year and everyone is content to be themselves - really good.  But some want to have their current knowledge and experience plus a younger version of themselves, especially me LOL)

You have been given a wonderful talent from above.  This causes you to make your mark on humanity and be world famous. In which area would prefer: a best selling novelist, a brilliant artist, a gifted musician, a fantastic singer, a charismatic leader, anything you choose, and why? 

There is no doubt which one – a brilliant artist of course! Art makes the world go round because as it’s about creativity which is the basis of all things (in my view). We are creative from the moment we get up each day and choose what to do and how to do it. Therefore art and creativity are the foundation for living a life one would like or wish for. I’m still working on this concept (and having fun) like an ongoing piece of art-work . . . .

(I think you already are a brilliant artist, Amelia)

If you were an ice cream cone, which flavour would you prefer and who would you most want to lick you?

If I was an ice-cream I would be a total mix of many different flavours and one wouldn’t know what they’d get next. The funny thing is I’m sure my partner would vouch for this and incidentally he would be the only person that would be tasting any of the flavours in the manner in which you refer!!!!!

(Very well put, Amelia, the impertinence of Bluelights asking a question like that, indeed LOL)

Describe in one sentence your perfect day
My perfect day would involve sunshine and warmth, lots of people, amazing natural surroundings, and making collaborative art-work that involves making the world a better place . . . .

(I can tell you are really happy in what you do, Amelia - truly refreshing)

If you were a fiction writer which one would you be and why?

If I was a fiction writer I would probably be Toni Morrison, who writes with poetic poignancy about difficult subjects. She has an ability to weave an impacting and visually enhanced experience through words.

Your turn to ask me a question if you wish.

My question to you: What is one of the best things you have done in your life?

OK - but there are several . . so here they are:
1.   Accepting Jesus into my life.
2.   Marrying my darling wife who sadly now has secondary breast cancer.
3.   Bringing my daughter and son into the world . . . and helping them through it.
4.   Joining the ambulance service.

There are lots of others beyond the remit of this question.

Thank you Amelia for your very interesting interview and my best wishes for your art projects. We'll conclude by having a look at you blog screen.

Today's Sunday Roast with Amelia at 101 Bird Tales the 139th
in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.

This interview will feature in The Roll of Honour
for all published Roasts. To view press  HERE

I am introducing a variation of The Sunday Roast, called The Sunday Re-Roast, where I will invite previous roastees to return to the spit so they can update their original answers and to answer my new questions.  I have had some encouraging positive feedback and I will mix these with new Roasts to give some variety. My sister, Maggie May, will be one of the first and my good friend Suldog will be there sometime soon. Of course I will continue with new roasts as well - so please keep recommendations coming.

For those new-comers who do not know anything about the Sunday Roast and would like a little information please press HERE

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Money Laundering

Upon arriving home one evening this week I was greeted by my charming wife, Mrs Bluelights.  "Have you been money laundering?" she asked.

"Not to my knowledge! - why?"

"You left this in your trouser pocket and it must have slipped out!"

"This is most interesting but what's this to do with money laundering?"

"When the washing machine finished I found it staring at me through the glass door."

"It was all soggy and limp!
Would you like me to iron it for you?" LOL

Saturday 23 October 2010

The Sunday Roast

Look, it's Kathryn - Crumbs! What a Catch! - A Novelist, a Co Editor/Publisher and a Blogger to Boot!

Says Kathryn, "Eddie, anyone who knows me knows I suck at titles *laughing* - my first novel had so many titles I can’t remember them all – and of course, my publishers said, “Um, we’ll title it;  STEP AWAY FROM THE TITLE KATHRYN! . . .” So I’m game for any kind of title! I like what you wrote.

And here is her familiar calling card.

Kathryn is an author, and Co-Publishing Editor of The Rose & Thorn. Her novels include: Tender Graces, Secret Graces, and Sweetie, and she is working on the final book in the Graces trilogy now. A novella-length work to be published with novella-length works of best-selling authors Sarah Addison Allen & Deborah Smith will be released winter 2011.

Kathryn lives in a tucked-in cove in Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina, where she spins tales, drinks Deep Creek Blend coffee, an occasional vodka tonic with lime, and contemplates the glow of Old Moon. She is a member of North Carolina Writer's Network, Mountain Writer's Alive in Haywood County, Backspace The Writer’s Place, and Netwest Mountain Writers, and is a sort of distant member of BR NAWW.

Sometimes she writes in the third person but she doesn’t like it, because it makes her feel a bit wonky and ickily self-important, but yet, then again, it allows her to remain distant from herself and that makes her laugh, slapping her knee. Her short stories, essays, photography, and poetry have been published in both online and print publications.

You can visit at her website: or at her blog or @katmagendie on twitter or on Facebook at Kathryn.magendie. You can purchase her books at any store, or go to the library, or from Bellebooks publishers, or Amazon Kindle, or anywhere else online—if they don’t have the book(s) in the bookstore or library, ask them to order!

Thank you for the interview, Kathryn

A very warm welcome to you and your followers

Here's the first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?

If I didn’t blog, I’d be near-completely-reclusive. I rarely leave my little log house unless it’s for an author event, or the local theater (for which GMR sometimes acts), or to go into Asheville or Waynesville to walk the downtown street.

I’ve met so many wonderful people, both in person and not in person, through blogging—it really is my ‘gateway’ into the world, a much wider world than ever I could have imagined to be in, growing up without internet and all. Like pen pals, but better (I’m dating myself!).

It’s been a way to connect with readers, too, and that’s a lovely thing. To know someone far far far away is reading my books makes me very happy.

What's the story behind your blog name?

I named my blogspot blog Tender Graces because that was my first book’s title. Looking back, I should have named my blogspot blog something more generic and put the link in my own name.

I did rename the Tender Graces blog header: Writing from my Mountain, because that’s what I do. Sit here nestled in the cove, in my little log house, with my two dogs, my ghost dog, my GMR, my shadow man (yes, I was visited by a strange shadowman! Do do do do do do do do).

(Most intriguing, Kathryn  - I'm sure we would all want to know more!)

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

Meeting wonderful people. I’ve never had a bad experience. It’s all been positive. I’ve met people, and I’ve mourned people—like the wonderful Barry Fraser who passed away recently. He and I, and his lovely wife, had become friends. Also, I find blogging relaxing because I talk in my own voice and don’t worry about deadlines or being “the author” – I am just Me.

(BlogLand - great place and great people . . . . and yes we make great friends here)

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

Be yourself. Don’t try to Sell Something. I don’t blog telling people to buy my books or talk about myself and my books yackity yack yack yack blah blah all the live-long day. Be genuine and people will respond to that. People can spot a faker from a long way away.

(Fortunately there are very few 'bad apples' but there are some out there - but genuine people attract other genuine people)
What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?

I was going to list bloggers who’ve touched my life in some way but there were too many, and I was afraid I’d leave someone out, and then I started daydreaming about ice cream, but then thought how cheesecake would be even better, and there’s no cheesecake in the little log house, and what if I just jumped into my Boopmobile and went to the grocery or even better to a deli or restaurant and bought some cheesecake . . . um, what was the question?

(LOL - well I guess we shall have to rely on ESP then to get the answer to this question)

What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?

There have been emotional posts I’ve written where I was dealing with physical pain or the pain of losing my good canine friend or when my brother was ill, and people responded to those so supportively. I think when we open ourselves up with our vulnerability, people respond to you—it’s lovely lovely. However, I’ve also written posts on writing and reading—NOT ‘rithmatic—and received great responses. Are you getting the idea I don’t know how to answer the question? *teeheehee*

(You would make a great politician LOL. Can't get answers out of them either LOL)

Which two blogs would you recommend for roasting?

Oh, two is hard – I wrote out about ten of them, stopped myself, realizing I had to cut down to two. Lawd! So, I’ll just randomly choose two by the Scientific Method of: Eeny Meeny Miney Moe. So here goes: eeny meeny miney moe; grab a kitty-cat by its toe; if it scratches let it go; eeny meeny miney moe—and repeat—and the two are:

Tartitude – Jan O’Hara - She’s smart and interesting and mysterious at Tartitude.

Tim at Perception is not always reality – he’s cool and funny and interesting

(Well disciplined, Kathryn, sticking at two . . . I will write to them, but please email me with the others . . . . and I will get the 'press gang' onto them LOL)

That concludes the formal aspect of the interview but it would be nice to get to know you a little better while you are slowly turning on the roasting spit.  So while you are screaming in agony above the open fire here are a few more questions for you.

Pick three things you can't live without.

1) My Writing

2) (You think I’m gonna say sex, don’t you?

(. . . . but of course!)

Ha! Well, even if I think it, I’m not saying it – just going to pass right on over that one – ha! Hahahaha!) I’ll instead say: my mountains – because I really can’t live without nature and my mountains.

3) Friends and Family (I had coffee, but I realized I CAN live without that, I’d just be a bee-otch without it in the mornings ….wheee!)

(What a character you are!! They, the Cajun gals, warned me about you!! But great choices, Kathryn)

If we were to make a movie about BlogLand, what would it be and who would you cast in the leading roles?

*white noise white noise white noise white noise white noise white noise* --- that is exactly what happened when you asked that question. Let me try again:

*Big Arse Black Hole sucks up every image and idea*

Okay, um . . . teehee . . . I am supposed to be a writer, right? I’m supposed to be able to create images and scenes and  . . . um . . . Let me try again . . .

*zip zap twang riiiiiiiip kaboing bonkity boink bink blork blork blork*

Ergh. Okay, why isn’t this working? What’s going on here? Dang. Trying again: straiinnning my braaaaiin—

*white noise white noise white noise white noise---WHITE NOTHINGNESS SPACE*


(It's bound to be a block buster. I wonder what answers you'd give them in a job interview! LOL)

If you could live your life again who would you be, and why?

Most everyone says themselves because if you were someone else then you wouldn’t be you and then someone else would be answering this and then—um, my head hurts thinking about it. So, yeah, it’s true, we usually say we “want to be ourselves but better” – I’d like to be me, but take a few detours around some decisions I made, and that sets up all the existential doodly do dah day of “but then this wouldn’t have happened.” Dang. We’re forever lucky or doomed or some of both to be ourselves.

(I see! - neither you are I are really here, then. We are merely figments of our imagination because we are someone else in a parallel universe!  You know what!  I don't quite feel myself today! LOL)

You have been given a wonderful talent from above.  This causes you to make your mark on humanity and be world famous. In which area would prefer: a brilliant artist, a gifted musician, a fantastic singer, a charismatic leader, anything you choose, and why?

You know – I’d want my words to have some mark on humanity but I have to also admit I’ve always wanted to be a dancer—one of those strong graceful women who do all those things I can’t do. Dang. But then again, I can’t deny my passion for words and language. Still . . .

*Kat gets up from her chair and dance dance dances---la la la tee tee tee dum dum* (and no one saw her flail about and fall on her arse *sigh*)

(You are a scream and a riot!! . . . you really are! We seem to have a lot in common, Kathryn, I have 'two left feet' when it comes to dancing (and two left spoons for cooking for that matter) - I leave these things to gals like Marguerite)

If you were an ice cream cone, which flavour would you prefer and who would you most want to lick you?

Teeheehee – My good side says to say GMR (my husband) but my naughty side says—oh, wait a minute here . . . ha! I’m not telling – you almost did it, Eddie, you almost made me tell my secret crush! *hahaha* I’ll never tell! But, while we’re on the subject, instead of ice-cream, I’d like to be Gelato! Any flavor of Gelato –richer, creamier, and more intensely flavored!

(Shucks - your Dr Jeckyll is stronger than your Mrs Hyde.  I must work on the question again LOL)

Describe in one sentence your perfect day

My editor calls to tell me I’ve received a glowing review from New York Times, then Oprah calls and says I’ll be on her book club, then I win a life-time supply of cheesecakes that are delivered to my little log house once a month (any more than that and I’ll die of sugar coma, haw!), and What’s that? They want to make a movie of Tender Graces or Sweetie? And I’m going to walk the red carpet but first I get a huge-arse make-over and get to keep all the products . . . why thank you!

Then I hop on a plane (because there isn’t TIME in this perfect day – it is a very long day you know - ) and I fly to visit my son, daughter in law, and new baby granddaughter and then I fly to see my best good friend Angie, and then while I’m at it, I have coffee with my fave blogger buddies, and then on to Texas to see my mom, dad, nieces, and brothers, and then I am hungry, so I fly to Italy and Spain and Greece and then Morimoto’s restaurant to sample this and that and the other, and finally finally, I come back home and lie in my own bed, let out a big old dog on the porch sigh, and don’t even care what the next day brings, not one bit. Ahhhh.

(Just like a normal day then!)

Tell us a little about your novels.

The Graces Sagas are southern fiction, or Appalachian family sagas. Virginia Kate travels from South Louisiana back to her childhood home in West Virginia to release her momma’s ashes. While there the ghost of her Grandma Faith urges her to the attic to retrieve “mementos.” Virginia Kate then storytells her and her family’s lives. The first book, Tender Graces, is VK’s childhood memories. The second book, Secret Graces, deals with VK’s growing up and her marriage and its demise. The third book, not yet titled (see above—teehee), brings things full circle.

Sweetie is an Appalachian/Southern novel set here in Haywood County North Carolina. Melissa is the narrator—she befriends Sweetie, a mysterious mountain girl who has a strange “affliction” that no one in the town understands—Sweetie thinks the “mountain spirit” gave her special powers when a granny woman delivered her (the moon reflects in her eye, the wolf howls all night); Sweetie’s mother thinks Sweetie was cursed by God because of the mother’s “sin.” It’s been called a “haunting” book—the ending may be the reason for that.

I admit I completely suck at synopsis. People can go by my website at and read up on the book blurbs . . . if they want to!

(Thanks, Kathryn)

What was your most embarrassing moment?

OMG! I have so many! I was always a klutz (see dancing above), but I also used to put my foot in my mouth all the time, or do things just to get a laugh even if it made me look like an idiot! Although, I have learned to think before I speak or do so my embarrassing moments are fewer than they used to be—fewer, but alas not gone. *sigh*

(Eventually we all 'activate brain before activating tongue' - well mostly LOL)

. . . . and if you are really brave, if you awoke to find you had changed gender what would be the first and second things you would do?

Oh – now Eddie – this is dangerous territory for me – because I have an over-whelming curiosity and that curiosity takes me places that, well, teeheehee . . . lawd! Um . . . okay, the second thing I’d do is write down everything I was thinking as I went through my day so that when I was a woman again I could see just what the hell goes on inside a guy’s head!

(So you agree that something goes on in our heads, then!! Well, that is what I can progress LOL.  I can just hear the feminine ripple of laughter spreading across BlogLand.  But as a man you might have made a mistake and written it down wrongly. After all you wouldn't be able to multi-task now you are a man, would you? LOL . . . . and when you change back into a woman you might say, "What the hell is all this crap about?"  So your experiment would fail - miserably wouldn't it? LOL)

OK - you've done your bit, Kathryn. You can sit down in your chair with a glass of wine and it's your turn to ask me a question.
HAHAHA~ I want to ask you the question you just asked me – if you changed gender what would be the first and second things you’d do! It’s just too rich a question not to turn back to you.

Oh Bum!! I might have seen that one coming!!  I might just go back to sleep and hope it was all a bad nightmare! I'd have to embark on a whole new mindset like peeing sitting down but making sure the seat was parked in a down position.  However I suppose I would do these:
First - I would go into mourning for a long lost friend LOL
Second - I would get to know myself much better LOL

Well, Kathryn, that has been a real hoot!! Thank you for being such a great sport and for your interview - I feel rather like a hurricane has hit the place LOL
We'll conclude by 'taking a gander' at you blog screen - glad one of us can 'put their feet up'.

Thank you Eddie - what fun!
Today's Sunday Roast with "Writing From My Mountain" is the 138th
in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.
This interview will feature in The Roll of Honour
for all published Roasts. To view press  HERE

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Common Sense Deceased

An Obituary You Really Must Read.
Printed in the London Times

(Interesting and sadly true)

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.

No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies:
Don't spend more than you can earn and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for:
kissing a classmate;
teens suspended from school for using mouth wash after lunch;
and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;

I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.



And I actually know someone who works for a legal company specialising in sueing the National Health, who do a wonderful job.

The world sometimes makes no sense at all.

Saturday 16 October 2010

The Sunday Roast

Now Look Betsy, Five Men In Your Life Is A Trifle Greedy!

"Five men", did she say? Must look at the situation in black and white and perhaps all will be explained in due course LOL

And listen folks! This gal posts daily.

I have to tell you that Blogger has been misbehaving deplorably and this poor lass was almost roasted alive and served as a burnt offering! Blogger caused me to have tremendous culinary problems, with ingredients and cooking utensils flying all over the kitchen.  Shame you could not have seen Eddie running round in circles trying to fix the roast and steam coming out of his ears and nostrils LOL. I am so pleased I did not incinerate you, Betsy!

This week's interview is with Betsy,who writes the blog, My Five Men .

Thank you for the interview, Betsy

A very warm welcome to you and your followers

Here's the first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?

I had a best friend who blogged and encouraged me to join in. She had moved out of state and wasn't a big email or phone person, so it was a way to stay in contact with her. I wasn't interested in Facebook at all and blogging was very intriguing to me. After enjoying her blog for over a year I decided to give it a try. I immediately fell in love with the whole thing from putting my thoughts down in a concrete way to connecting with people from all over the world.

What's the story behind your blog name?

I have five men in my life ~ my husband and four sons. It's also a running joke in our household that I'm surrounded by men! We even have a rabbit and a parakeet that are males, as were all of our previous pets. What a switch after growing up with only sisters!

(Glad you explained that, Betsy, I was beginning to get a little worried LOL)

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

I'm sure most people say that it's the community and would certainly agree with that! I enjoy several groups of bloggers from (1.) the general group that I find captivating and interesting and even different from me (opposites attract, you know!) to (2.) a group of parents with autistic children (I have autistic triplet boys) and that bond and support we give each other, to (3.) a few bloggers that seem to have taken a deeper interest in me. They phone, email, encourage and love me. I would have never met them outside of blogging!

(I agree - blogging is a way of life actually. It's a great vehicle for making friends and communicating and in my case, hopefully, making people laugh which I love doing. I have some really great bloggy pals out there and today I was delighted to see that David McMahon of Authorblog has returned to BlogLand)

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

That blogging doesn't have any rules! Don't get sucked into the idea that you must post something new every day or even every week. It's supposed to be fun! I'd also encourage them to seek out new friends. The easiest way to do that is by clicking on your own interests on your profile page and letting blogger show you others with that same interest.

(Great idea! I have not done that yet - thanks, Betsy)

What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?

That without a doubt it would be this post Nella Cordelia: A Birth Story by Kelle Hampton from Enjoying the Small Things. It's the birth story of her second daughter who was born unexpectedly with Downs Syndrome. It's a beautiful story with gorgeous photography and I've been following her blog ever since. She's a gorgeous, "glass half full" kind of girl and awesome photographer.
Her journey encourages me since I'm a 'special needs' mom myself. Go take a won't be disappointed...but don't forget the Kleenex! :) Her story is also featured in the October 2010 issue of Parent's Magazine!

(This is a must read and crumbs this gal has 7,685 followers!)

What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?

Well, that is rather difficult after posting daily for almost three years! But there are a few that mean something more to me than others. Currently a significant one is Theme Thursday = Mystery where I talk about how I view myself living through difficult circumstances, hurt and disappointment. In fact, it was through discussing this post with a writer friend that I've been encouraged to write a book about how I've tried to make lemonade when life hands me lemons. If I could inspire other people to take a positive approach to life through my story, then I think that would be really great! And on a completely different topic and
something that is usually a surprise to others is this post Repro Girl or A Brush With Danger for Theme Thursday where I talk about my job working as a 'repo girl' almost 20 years ago. Interesting and fun to say the least!

Which two blogs would you recommend for roasting?

I would like to see you roast Alan from News From Nowhere . He's a smart, funny, British chap with a wonderful, wide variety of interests. He has a great talent for putting his thoughts into words. And secondly, I also enjoy Tracey from Unos, Dos, Tracey . She's a smart, talented mother with a wonderful knack for writing amusing, insightful posts.

(They both look fantastic blogs, Betsy. Thank you - I will invite them onto the SR and include Kelle as well)

That concludes the formal aspect of the interview but it would be nice to get to know you a little better while you are slowly turning on the roasting spit. So while you are screaming in agony above the open fire here are a few more questions for you.

Pick three things you can't live without.

Coffee, Sunglasses, and a Sense of Humor.

(I'll drink to these choices. A sense of humour (spelt properly because I am English LOL) is vital in this life and helps us all get through the day. My grandmother used to say, "Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone" - true!)

If you were an ice cream cone, which flavour would you prefer and who would you most want to lick you?

Mmm. Well, first of all I must say that I love ice cream! It almost made the cut on my 'three things you can't live without' list above! And secondly, I must say that the best ice cream I've ever had was from a little Haagen-Dazs Stand up on Lake Michigan. The flavor was Turtle and it was super dark chocolate ice cream packed with big chocolate chunks, caramel and praline pecans. I ate a double waffle cone every night for a week while we were there! But to answer your question, even with all the fantastic flavors of ice cream in the world, did you know that Vanilla is still the most popular flavor? So, if I had to be a flavor, I think I would pick Vanilla! After all, who wouldn't want the most licks, right? LOL!

(Isn't this question naughty? I deserve to have my knuckles rapped LOL. But I agree Vanilla is superb! Here in England we have Cornish vanilla ice cream - yummy!)

Describe in one sentence your perfect day.

That would have to be a day being completely pampered in a spa...full body massage, sauna, facial, and pedicure while sipping a glass of wine.... yummy, healthy meals served to me....and definitely no cell phone to jolt me back into reality! :)

(Definitely no phone!! agreed!)

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Well, I've had a lot of them, Eddie! But I'll give you just one. While in college, my husband-to-be and I took a road trip from Columbus, Ohio to Kansas City, MO to visit my sister and her family. On the way, he "popped the question" and gave me a beautiful ring! Further on the way, we stopped for a break and I came out of the restroom with my zipper down on my jeans! Embarrassing for me and a little awkward for him to point it out to me! And to make it worse...a few hours later at the next rest stop...I did it again! LOL! Obviously, I was distracted by that sparkly diamond on my hand! haha.

(LOL . . . but I bet you didn't do it a third time! . . . . or did you?)

. . . . and if you are really brave, if you awoke to find you had changed gender what would be the first and second things you would do?

Ha ha...well, this question cracked me up! And the first thing that popped into my mind was Tom Hanks in the movie Big. Well, he didn't change gender, but he "grew up" overnight. He ran and looked the in the mirror and then looked in his underwear. I'd do the same thing! Who wouldn't do that, right? :) Then, I would probably scream or faint! Or maybe that would be my husband that would scream or faint? Ha ha!

(I expect you would have a 'duet scream' LOL . . . or should I say 'sextet scream' with you, an additional fella, screaming in harmony with your five guys! Might just catch on and be a hit!)

Your turn to ask me a question if you wish.

OK. Eddie, what was the most interesting job you ever had?

Without doubt, Betsy, my ambulance days as a driver and attendant. I did this for five years before I had to retire through injury to my hip caused by an awkward carry chair lift. I developed arthritis and had a total hip replacement in February. I loved caring for people and helping them and I did learn to comfort them sometimes and to amuse them sometimes. Occasionally I had them in hysterics, or should I say 'in stitches' LOL. I also became good friends with my regular patients, most of whom had kidney problems and I took them into hospital for dialysis three times a week. When a friend died, as they did often, we all were sad and I attended many funerals.  I 'lost' so many patients one month I was knick-named 'The Terminator'.  I had to see the funny side. Although I am officially 'retired' currently I am driving a minibus, nicknamed The Red Baron, (call me Eddie von Richthofen LOL) and have the same rapport with my regular passengers, all elderly. Love the job to bits. Right up my street after the ambulance job. . . . and I am pleased to say I can keep up with the youngsters even with an artificial hip.

Let's take a look at your blog screen - very attractive. I love the blue tit and the wording to the right.  Also I notice you after a nice cuppa to your visitors - mine is a coffee with just milk and no sugar - thanks.

"Thank you so much Eddie! - I really enjoyed doing this interview with you."

And thank you Betsy for your interview and your recommendations. Glad blogger finally 'allowed' me to post it - phew it was hot in the kitchen today!

Today's Sunday Roast with "My Five Men" is the 137th in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.
This interview will feature in The Roll of Honour for all published Roasts. To view please press HERE

Blogger Overcooked the Sunday Roast

Hi Folks

Blogger has been up to it's old tricks again.

The roast is ruined and the oven overcooked it and spilt over onto my sidebar.
There are ingredients mixed up all over the place and steam everywhere - mostly coming out of my ears and nostrils!!  Blogger has a mind of its own sometimes as we all know.

Do not believe anything blogger says on my sidebar about a phantom roast - it does not exist yet.

Excuse me whilst I marinate blogger!!  That's better!!

Please bear with me and Betsy's Roast will appear as soon as possible.

Waiter! Where's the roast? I ordered it a week ago!


Bon Appetite. LOL

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Calling All High Flyers

I posted this Airplane Sketch on my other blog, Plato's Procrastinations, which is full of stuff like this. I think this hilarious video deserves a wider audience since Dave Allen is a hoot and this sketch really touched my 'funny bone'.
Dave Allen, was an Irish comedian who appeared on millions of TV screens throughout the UK and was a household name in the 70s and 80s.  Enjoy!

Saturday 9 October 2010

The Sunday Roast

It’s Easy Being Green When You’re A Frog With A Blog! 

or:  It’s a Frog’s Life

Says my guest, "Behind every Happy Frog there’s a bottle of red wine and a glass. 
All those in favour say ‘I’!"

Froggy on the move – 80s Rewind Festival

Caption - Do you think Happy Frog got the point? I do!

This froggy bloggy follows last week's roast post when we featured Jazz with her froggy avatar,  Michigan. Any relation I wonder LOL??

This week's interview is with I
who writes the blog,
 Happy Frog And I
Thank you for the interview, I 

A very warm welcome to you and Happy Frog and your followers

Here's the first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?

There are so many reasons why I blog and I am always thinking of new ones.  I was first encouraged to start a blog by wendy house.  It was quite a while after she first suggested the idea, however, that I went for it.  I’d had quite a few tough things to deal with and was just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I thought starting a predominantly positive and happy blog would be a good move for me.  The blog continues to change and evolve and I seem to have enough ideas to take me through to 2013 so I am really enjoying it.

The community aspect and support offered by bloggers is wonderful and I find it very cathartic.  There are many generous, creative and caring people out there, which is fantastic. 

I have gained so many new approaches and different ways of setting down my thoughts and ideas.  These include the 100 Word posts of  Mr London Street, which I have so far only used as an exercise but plan to put up my own in the future; the Three Beautiful Things (3BTs) that Clare posts daily, which she knows inspired me to do a monthly round up of positive things on my blog; the photos that tell their own stories in so many blogs, but in particular in the Heyokah and Kitty’s Bloggy Bits blogs.  They have inspired me to try and do better with my photography for myself and also for the blog. 

I love the discipline of ensuring there are 3 posts ready to go each week.  I’d stopped creating for several years so this has been a lovely way to get back into it again.   

What's the story behind your blog name?

At the time I started the blog, Happy Frog was the smiley one and I was hopeful that I could get back to being my usual smiley, optimistic self.  But I wasn’t quite there yet.

I love films and one in particular that has always made me laugh with its witty and memorable quotes is Withnail and I.  Since he hopped into my life, I’ve found Froggy Frog Frogton (Happy Frog) a bit of an inspiration, especially if I’m away in a hotel room on my own for work and/or feeling down – who can resist that massive smile?!  So the name Happy Frog and I (Tales from the Lilypad) seemed right. 

I liked the fact that in Withnail and I we never get to find out the real name of I.  It added a bit of mystery.  Once I get to know fellow bloggers I do often let them know my real name though, so I’m not very good at being enigmatic myself!

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

For me it is being inspired by fantastic people to try new ways of releasing my creativity.   

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

I am a newbie blogger so I’ll tell you a few things I’ve learnt over the last 8 months.  This advice mainly relates to personal blogs where you aren’t looking to make any money out of them but you want to do something for yourself that others may enjoy. 

Personally, I think it is bad form (or should that be ‘netiquette’?) to put people’s real names in your blog posts unless they have said they are happy for you to do so.

I would heartily recommend turning to and getting in touch with other bloggers for advice.  They won’t bite in my experience and everyone I have communicated with has been very helpful and encouraging. 

Always let great writing and ideas in other blogs inspire you rather than put you off writing yourself.  Try not to get disheartened if you have a long period of time where hardly anyone comments on your blog, or you can’t think of anything to write.  Don’t become childish in a bad way and let that stop you following others or leaving comments on other blogs.  Try to respond to people who take the time to comment on your blog; it is appreciated.  If you lose your way, remind yourself why you started blogging in the first place. 

Never be afraid to change your vision of your blog and where it is going whenever you want to.  It’s your blog!  When I first started I envisaged a large part of the blog being about Happy Frog’s travels to far flung places courtesy of anyone who wanted to take him and send back photos (a bit like the gnome in the 2001 film Amelie).  However, my vision of the blog has changed and continues to shift the more I see other blogs and have different ideas, which I find very refreshing and enjoyable.

If you feel a bit bogged down and want to take a bit of a break from blogging, do it!  You are likely to come back feeling full of ideas and raring to go instead of feeling resentful that blogging is taking over your life. 

So, to sum up in a sentence, try to remember that you can’t please all the people all the time, so just have fun with it. 
What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?
This is a really hard question for me as I’ve read a lot of blog posts that have been significant to me for different reasons.  Also, the one that instantly popped into my head (Happy Pills by Mr London Street) has already been (quite rightly) mentioned before by other Sunday Roast participants. 

One that I think about and revisit every so often was written by Lo over at It’s Always Something.  It was entitled ‘back to the kitchen and fireplace’.  Lo managed to discuss good times and bad times in her marriage, a Bridget Jones food moment and the minutiae of life so well in the space of one post.  I found it significant because her writing has helped me put a lot of my past experiences into perspective and to ponder on the good as well as the bad without being too sentimental.  She strikes me as an incredible woman who has really lived her life and has been through a lot this year alone.  I’m so glad that she is blogging about her past and her present. 

What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?

I liked an unanticipated off-shoot of my first and, at the time of writing, only meme post entitled A list of 30 things I like.  A couple of people who commented thanked me for making them aware of what vitiligo is (a condition I developed out of nowhere in 2005). 

At the moment, I think the most significant blog post I’ve written is called A Difficult Journey.  It’s a truthful account of a holiday I took several years ago and the subsequent fall out.  I had been mulling over how to write it for months and then suddenly one day it popped out while I was attempting to write something else.  The significance is there because it is quite personal to me and yet it resonated with quite a few people, some of whom emailed me rather than commented.  Some of the comments and emails I received really moved me.  It has given me the confidence to explore that side of me within my writing in the future.

(See what I did there Eddie, sneaked in two when you only asked for one – positively shameless!)

(No just typical of your gender LOL - none of you can count!)
Which two blogs would you recommend for roasting?

Right, this is going to be very hard for me to do as there are so many blogs/bloggers I would want to recommend for roasting. 

I have not met either of these bloggers but would love to know more about them.  The first is Amelia who writes the blog 101 Bird Tales.  I find her and her blog posts a real inspiration, as do many other readers.  Often when I read her posts I can feel the excitement that Amelia clearly feels when she is sharing ideas on how to be creative just bubbling through the posts.  She has just had her first solo exhibition, she offers courses to help anyone who wants to become more creative, she gives free ideas of how to express your thoughts in a different way on her posts and she has recently run a competition to give funds to people who wished to spend the money on a creative project.   Yet that really is just the tip of the iceberg.  Do please look at her blog if you haven’t already.

The second is Forgotten Old Photos which is run by a lovely lady (I know her name but don’t feel right about putting it here without her permission as it isn’t in her blog profile) who also has a blog called Far Side of Fifty.  I love the concept of finding boxes of old photographs left discarded in antique shops, putting a different one onto the website each day and trying to reunite descendants with their family photos.  She has had several successes and I love those moments when we get to hear about a photo that has made it home safely after all these years.  She recently posted her 300th photo; the time has just flown by!
That concludes the formal aspect of the interview but it would be nice to get to know you a little better while you are slowly turning on the roasting spit.  So while you are screaming in agony above the open fire here are a few more questions for you.
Pick three things you can't live without.
Hope, optimism and love.  Or, if I need to be a little more practical and a little less conceptual in my choices then I would say chocolate, nice tea and hair conditioner.

(What about poor Mr Froggy LOL? He'll be 'hopping' mad!)
If we were to make a movie about BlogLand, what would it be and who would you cast in the leading roles?

As someone who is quite interested in Sartre’s vision of existential humanism, rather than the other 3 versions I have seen expressed, my initial thoughts had gravitated towards a remake of The Matrix.  However, when I really thought about it I realised it wasn’t quite right. 

I need a film in which some of the key protagonists might change their names for the best of reasons and intentions; where the characters often stumble across help and interesting insights when they least expect it; where community spirit is a daily way of life that could ultimately overcome all; where the urge to express yourself is always nurtured and encouraged. 

So I came to the conclusion it would have to be an adaptation of Sister Act.  I had considered calling it ‘Caught In The Sister Act – A Guilty Pleasure’ until my husband (who has an annoying habit of always being right) noted that this sounded like a lesbian porn flick.  Having brought this unforeseen interpretation to my attention, I thought it wise not to recommend any fellow bloggers for the casting couch.

If you could live your life again who would you be, and why?
This question makes my head hurt!  The obvious answer is I would want to live my life over again as myself because all the successes, failures, lessons learnt, friends and family gained and lost have made me who I am today.  While this is true, I like to problem solve so there may be a better way of answering this question.

As the question doesn’t categorically state I can only live my life again once, the permutations are huge regarding how many different lives I could live before I went back to living my current life again.  I’d love to live lots of different lives in various cultural states and then remember them so that I could have a much better understanding of humanity in my final life as me and hopefully find it easier to communicate with and understand better the motivations of others.

You have been given a wonderful talent from above.  This causes you to make your mark on humanity and be world famous. In which area would prefer: a best selling novelist, a brilliant artist, a gifted musician, a fantastic singer, a charismatic leader, anything you choose, and why? 

I would love to be a gifted musician; that would be amazing.  I would like to be able to play lots of different instruments really well such as the piano, guitar, harp and oboe.   Music can reach and move all types of people around the world without the barriers that language can often create despite the best of translations and intentions.  All I can currently play is a treble recorder and a kazoo (though not at the same time!).

If you were an ice cream cone, which flavour would you prefer and who would you most want to lick you?

The ice cream I would choose to perch on top of the cone would be Earl Grey flavour, specifically from mya lacarte.  I cannot stand Earl Grey, I think it smells of perfume and tastes horrific, but my other half loves it and that’s all you need to know really!   

(Last part - nicely side stepped)
Describe in one sentence your perfect day.
After waking up late in a boutique hotel situated near the seaside, following a long and deep sleep, I enjoy a long vegetarian brunch with my other half, which includes copious amounts of English Breakfast tea (Earl Grey for him), after which I successfully write a funny, eccentric episode of my first ever sitcom, read and comment on some excellent blogs, go for a long walk, head to a fantastic restaurant where I can sample lovely food and red wine, before retiring to bed where there are chocolates on my pillow, and looking forward to more of the same the next day.

[Ok, it’s more of a paragraph then a sentence, but I’m hoping you’ll let me get away with it Eddie!]

If you were a fictional writer which one would you be and why?

Hmmm, this is a tricky one.  If I could go back in time to when he was alive I quite fancy being William Shakespeare as I would love to know how he felt when creating so much amazing work and what his thought processes were.  Otherwise, under the same proviso, I think I’d like to be Beatrix Potter as I love her illustrations and children’s books and would be very happy if I was able to think, draw and write as creatively as her. 

(Talking of frogs Beatrix Potter wrote about a great character, Jeremy Fisher!  Are you sure you are not her?)

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Goodness me, so many stories, only one asked for.  This could be tricky!  I’ll have to go for several moments in one afternoon.

One that particularly springs to mind that I haven’t yet mentioned on the blog was the time I went to South Wales for a long weekend with my university motorcycle club back in May 1997.  I had only passed my test in October the previous year and had picked up my new (to me) Kawasaki 500cc motorbike with twin after market exhausts the week before.  The seat was a bit higher than my previous 250cc bike and it was a heavier vehicle, but I was very happy with it.

I am notorious for being unable to find my way.  I often do not realise where I am in relation to where I need to get to and constantly get lost; I always have been that way, always will.  After we had been travelling for quite a while and had reached Wales I really needed to go to the toilet.  It was just fields and bushes everywhere as far as the eye could see.  My fellow motorcyclists kept telling me to hold on, we were nearly there, but after a while I had to stop.  Having parked up the bike, removed my helmet and sorted out my leathers I settled myself behind a bush and relieved myself.  After I had finished I felt as if someone was watching me from behind.  I turned round quickly and let out a torrent of verbal abuse, convinced that one of my fellow bikers was spying on me for a prank.  The poor sheep I had sworn at looked pretty mortified, I can tell you, while its mate gave me an evil look before knocking over my helmet in disgust. 

That wasn’t the worst of it though.  Firstly, I had to explain to my fellow bikers why they had heard me swearing so loudly.  Then I had to watch them fall over laughing at me.  Within ten minutes of setting off back on the road we reached a village and everyone pulled over and stopped.  They then all walked into a tea room to use their facilities and stop for tea and cake.  Apparently, we had been driving the long way round and round this village and I was the only one who hadn’t realised.  They had duped me and duped me good.  

When I thought the trip could not get any more embarrassing, I went to park up at the youth hostel where we were staying and didn’t see a pothole to my left.  Down went my foot and down and down.  Over went the bike, with me pinned underneath it.  When the gales of laughter eventually died down I was helped up.  I never lived it down.

. . . . and if you are really brave, if you awoke to find you had changed gender what would be the first and second things you would do?
I would probably think at first that I had been reading too much Iain M. Banks books where people in the culture can change gender whenever they want to.  So firstly, I’d pinch myself to see if I was dreaming.  If I didn’t let out a girly high pitched scream as per usual I would know it was true. 

Secondly, I’d check if my other half had also changed gender, as I now know that on occasion things aren’t always just about me and this could all be some strange experiment gone wrong.  If he had changed gender as well I’m pretty sure the first thing I’d do is make him shave his legs!

Your turn to ask me a question if you wish.

I am a massive fan of history in all its manifestations but particularly the social side, so I’d like to know if you could live in any historic time period which would it be and why?

Life is quite hard in the age we live and if I travelled back to a previous age it would probably be even harder.  For starters I would not have been able to have my new hip but there again I probably would not have lived as long so I wouldn't need one.  I read somewhere that the best time to live in the UK was from 1906 to 1914, just before that awful war began.  Probably the most interesting period and therefore the one I would most like to live is the Elizabethan age but I would have to be part of the aristocracy and to be very careful or I might lose my head in which case I would speak these words to Lizzie from my severed head held aloft, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much!" LOL. 

Thank you very much for your interview, I

Today's Sunday Roast with "Happy Frog And I" is the 136th
in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.
This interview will feature in The Roll of Honour
for all published Roasts. To view press  HERE