Category Archives: Blogging

Literate Your Art Blog Hop

For the second year in a row, I’ve participated in Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art postcard swap. Kat’s intention is for creators to share their art. It is a blast. It’s always a litte bit intimidated about sharing Myers

Here are the postcards I received:

From Nancy Jean:


From Susan in California:


From Debbie in the UK:


From Paul in Tennessee:


From Izzy in New Jersey , who participated with her sister & Mom:


And from Kat:


Check out other participants:


It’s been a year since I started Four Deer Oak.  330 posts, approximately 1840 comments, 194 followers and nearly 14,000 page views! I’m astonished that I’ve been doing this for a year after I had let my last blog lapse for so long that I was a bit concerned about starting a new one. I’m equally astonished that I’ve been able to update daily since November. But, I’m even more amazed that people  — hello! that’s you! — stop by to read my posts, look at my photographs, and comment. So, a big THANK YOU to all you who continue to make blogging fun!  I hope you find a few enjoyable moments whenever you browse through here.

Happy blogoversary to me, Happy….

Today — and other future days

This weekend holds lots of exciting, happy events for my family, so I will likely be away from anything computer or internet related all day on Friday and probably most of Saturday. But, I doubt that I will even notice. I’ll post pictures and a few details later. Since I won’t be anywhere near my laptop, I’m writing this post in advance.

This gives me the opportunity to address a bit of blog business.

First, a thank you. I am thrilled that I now have 128 followers. Wow! I am honored — and humbled that so many of my fellow denizens of the interwebs would choose to stop by here from time to time.

Next up: my blogroll. Ugh! These things can be a challenge to keep up with — sort of like dusting and vacuuming, except I take a lot less notice. I usually use a reader, so I actually follow a lot more blogs than I have listed here. If you follow me consistently and would like me to include you on my blogroll, please leave a comment with your blog’s name/url. I’ll be cleaning it up over the next few weeks. If you’d like to add a brief (10 words max, please!) description of your blog, I’ll include it for viewers to see if they hover over the link.

Lastly: I have received several blog awards over the last few months and I haven’t acknowledged any of them! I’m not one to write lists of 7 or 10 or 15 oddball things about myself. I figure that a reader can glean plenty of things — oddball and otherwise — from these posts. A plain stone with the inscription “LECTOR SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE” (Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you) rests in St. Paul’s Cathedral, a monument to its architect Christopher Wren. While I in no way want to compare myself to Mr. Wren, I like this sentiment. If you want to know more about me, peruse these pages.

Thank you to those who have nominated me. I appreciate the recognition: Versatile Blogger Award: Morphodidius, EAM Harris, Ellen Peterson, Gracefully50, KerryL29, Little Muddy Boots, and Genuine Blogger/Sunshine Award: Francine. I hope I didn’t overlook anyone. My sincere apologies if I did.

As to the awards: it is always pleasing to be recognized by others. And I’d like to return the favor, although in a different manner.

Since memes and chain-letter type things are not my thing — I enjoy reading others; I just don’t like writing those posts! — instead, I want to start a series where I feature other bloggers. What I envision is having a series of four or five questions, likely tailored to the specific blogger, that you will answer. I’ll include links to your blog and specific posts and/or photographs that you agree to include (something like “What post are you most proud of? Why did you want to write about this?” or “Explain the photograph you’ve received the most “likes” on and why”, etc.). If there is something that you don’t want to answer, I won’t include it!

I hope to publish one or two of these a month and I will let you know in advance when it will be scheduled so that you can link to it on your blog should you choose. Want to do this? Email me at my yahoo account: an-cam-jong (remove the dashes; you know the rest). I look forward to this and hope that several of you would like to participate! Who is the first eager guinea pig? 🙂

I leave you with this. It always makes me smile. Pooh, the Philosopher.

“What day is it today?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

Reflections on the A-to-Z Challenge

I’m not exactly sure when or where I stumbled upon the A to Z Challenge, but I had intended since early January to participate in the 3rd annual challenge during the month of April. It seemed like an easy way to get a little blogging mojo going as well as an opportunity to find other bloggers. Also, it seemed in keeping with my monthly “projects” that I’ve been doing this year (Jan – photo a day, Feb – Good’s Good Citizenship, March – Art Every Day).

Initially I thought that it would be pretty simple to do. I’ve been posting daily since last fall; it has become a habit to seat myself in front of my laptop and come up with something to post. Knowing that I would do something beginning with a certain letter seemed to be a built-in, easy starter. But that wasn’t the case. “A” was easy; I always post a quote on Sundays and since there was only one Sunday in the challenge, I wasn’t going to change that routine. Finding a quote that had something to do with the letter ‘A’, as well as accompanying photographs, was fun and it didn’t take much time. The next day ‘B’ was a bit more challenging but I quickly realized that I had several photographs that were of objects that began with the letter B: birds, beaches, bugs, blossoms. However, I knew that I didn’t want to continue with photos of items beginning with the same letter of the alphabet. Cars and coins? What do they have in common? Nothing except the same initial sound, the letter we use to represent that sound, and that some people — but not me — collect them. Besides, I wanted to write about cameras.

And so it went for the next few days. I easily thought of items that I could write about. But, as I progressed through the challenge, the difficulty I faced was an unexpected one: it wasn’t that I couldn’t think of something to write about; rather, it was that I had myriad choices. Focusing on one topic is a challenge all writers face at times. At times recently I had felt that I had become a bit of a lazy blogger, opting to post photographs rather than write at length because of time constraints. But the real constraint was finding a topic and composing a cogent post. The easy way out, at times, was to grab a photo from my archives and post it. Following the challenge forced me to get back into writing posts, to developing an idea and crafting sentences about it. And you know what? It was a lot of fun.

I consider myself a responsible person, but I am not a disciplined person. If I have an obligation to do something, I will do it. But, if I set up a goal for myself, I’m not as likely to follow through. Write every day? How many times have I made that pie-in-the-sky promise? Participating in a group challenge, though, helped me make a commitment to do it. It was only 26 days, after all. There were some days where I still only posted a photograph — sometimes truly because of time constraints — but mostly I thought at length about what I would develop for my letter of the day post. In the end, challenges like this are about writing prompts; with the sketchiest of prompts, this challenge gives you lots of options. I know that there were writers that had a theme that they followed. Some of those blogs were very interesting to follow during the month. I think that in many cases, such themes make the project more difficult, but at the same time allows the blogger to examine thoroughly her subject matter.

I follow lots of blogs, but I don’t read every one every time they post. Often, I will visit a blog and catchup on 4 or 5 posts. I make an effort to visit every blogger who comments or “likes” a post when they link back to their blogs. (Why don’t people have their gravitars linked to their websites? What lost opportunities!) If I click on a link and I like what I see, I add the blogger to my follow list. At this point, there are a few bloggers that I wasn’t following a month ago, but I no longer think of them as A-to-Z participants; they’re just bloggers who I like to visit. I would have liked to visited more of the participants, but there were just too many. It was fun, though, to randomly click on a blog in the participants list, and view the next five blogs. I intend to revisit the list, as well as the link list to the reflections, to meet other bloggers over the next several months. Some of them may not hold any interest to me. Some may only get a few seconds of eyeball time and I may end up missing out on a really great blogger. But, I know that I will continue to meet and follow interesting people out there in the blogosphere, especially if they are interested in photography, reading, writing, and wondering about life.

Thanks to all who found my blog through the A to Z Challenge. I’ve acquired several new followers recently and I’m flattered every time someone decides that they want to know what I’m up to here at Four Deer Oak. I hope that you find something of interest here and continue to drop by from time to time. You can find links to each of my A to Z posts here. You can find other participants reflections here.

This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.  Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. To find other A to Z Reflections posts, click here. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.

Backlit branches — and a question for photographers

As I was returning to my car last evening, after visiting the wicked-looking Thorn Tree, the sun was hugging the horizon, sending that low golden light that you only get at sunset along the ground and highlighting the plants and grasses. Since I was still in the woods, the light was fading quickly; it would be dark in the woods before I left the lot, although there was about 20 minutes of decent light for shooting outside of the park. I was cold and hungry and my feet were wet from stepping in a creek. I had collapsed my tripod and turned off the camera. Having forgotten my gloves in the car, I had my hands tucked into the sleeves of my fleece jacket. Still, once I saw this plant on the edge of the trail I had to stop.

Intentionally backlighting subjects is not something that I have done before. I think that these were okay for an initial attempt. I love the way that the dried, white flower stalks have an orange glow. On a windy, cold day, when the air smelled like rain even though the rainclouds had not yet arrived, I would not have had the patience to wait for the sun’s angle on these winterdead plants. Happening upon them at just the right moment was serendipitous.

This morning, Light Stalking posted a link to a series of backlit photographs. These are far better than what I’ve done and have given me ideas for how I might compose other backlit shots in the future.

On a different note, take a look at how the photos on the Light Stalking page are credited. Title and Flickr user name is on each. I have a blogging friend who has been using a plug-in to find photos to illustrate her blog posts and we recently had a discussion about how to credit properly. Her plug-in provides the link to the photo on Flickr; hovering over the photo displays the photo’s title, but not the name of the photographer. (All are properly licensed via Creative Commons, so that is not the issue.) For those of you who have photographs in the public domain, how would you want your photographic credit to appear? Light stalking gives the Flickr username, rather than the photographer’s name even when that is available. I have mixed feelings on this. While citing that one of my pictures was created by SilleeShutterbugz2785 (that is NOT my real user name, btw) would be better than no attribution at all, if I have my work publicly available and my name is on the same site, I think that I would want that. On the other hand, I could make my username the same as my legal name so that was used, even though it is available on my profile.

I’m interested in what you think. Would it make a difference to you if you were being paid? What if the site using your photograph was generating income, though not directly from your image? Is linking to your photo, which gives a link to your name and information on your profile, what you would expect if someone used one of your photos from a photo sharing site?

2011 Blogging in review

LOVE that WP compiles this info!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My own thoughts:

I started blogging in 2006 and did so consistently for a few years (I’ve ported that blog to this one, so check the archives if you’re interested.) But, once I stopped, it was difficult to get started again. When I finally did, it took a while to get rolling. Each month from July onward, I tried to post every day. I was able to do that in Sept, Nov, & Dec, with Oct being a close contender.

What have I learned from posting everyday? I don’t always have something to say — or, rather, I often don’t have the energy to prepare a blog post. While I like sharing links, quotes, photos, videos, sometimes I feel that those posts — with the exceptions of my photos — can be pretty lame. In those cases, I wonder why I continue with the PostADay. But, I think the benefits of having a practice of writing something everyday outweight those times that fall short of what I’d like to post every day: something that’s been thought out completely, that’s not only coherent and well-written, but worth your while to read.

What has surprised me about blogging?
1: That I’m really enjoying it.
2: That my photos have received such amazing feedback from others, especially those who have great photo blogs themselves.
3: That I have 31 people following me, all but 1 are new to this blog (that is, they weren’t following my older blogspot blog). I don’t like making resolutions such as “increase the number of followers by x%” or “Have xx followers within 6 months”, because I can’t really control whether people decide to follow me or not. What I can do, though, is to resolve to make this blog the best possible blog I can produce, and hope that those efforts keep people coming back, whether they click the “follow” button or just amble over here from time to time.

Thank you to all you have visited, commented, or “liked” a post here this year.

I intend to continue trying to post every day, although there may be a time in the summer when I won’t be able to do that. Stay tuned for details of the big adventure I am dreaming about and hope to accomplish in the next year!

May 2012 be a year of good things for each of you!

You can also find me on OpenSalon, where I tend to post longer essays than what I typically post here.

>Writer’s Block?

>I was speaking with an acquaintance yesterday, who called me from BVI where she lives in the winter. We were speaking about some events that have impacted both of us and many friends, trying to come to terms with our feelings. I had written an email to her earlier in the day.

“You write so well”, she said, “you should do so more often”.

I found myself saying “I used to write a blog…” I startled as I realized I had used the past tense.

“You should do so more often,” she said.

Yes, I should, but I just haven’t been able to sit down, clear my thoughts and write for so long. Funny how the longer one goes avoiding something, the more daunting it becomes. Even when I have drafted something in my head, I have been unable to get it down with pen and paper or keyboard and screen. Posts about books and movies and plays, about daffodils and bleeding hearts starting to poke through the leaves in the woods or pictures the old dead stump of a tree that is about to fall, about the small joys of family, or how I’ve struggled to recognize the good in a difficult employee and suddenly we are able to laugh even when we disagree; about how writing status updates in 160 characters is too confining to me and that I think Facebook for finding high school friends is stupid, but that it has been a wonderful tool for communicating with a specific circle of friends, even in times of crisis: all of these and more would have been great posts; perhaps some will appear in the future.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m not worried about not being able to write again –it is temporary — but I wonder how much of this is a general malaise that I see in many of my friends right now. I don’t know if it’s being at mid-life, if it’s the economy, if it’s only because it is still winter, despite the recent warmer days, but it seems that everyone I am friends with is going through some sort of major life stress — stress at work, fear of losing their jobs and the fear of not being able to find another one, sickness, death of elderly relatives, struggling relationships, pain from one kind of loss or another.

It is all very real, painful; psyches bobbing in rough wakes. Not quite gale force winds in open seas, but stormy. It can wear you down and make it seem like there isn’t time, or strength, or determination to do things like write.

As I read through this, I can predict that some people might conclude that I’m depressed. Let me assure you that it isn’t something as drastic as that. It isn’t as if I can’t laugh, can’t enjoy family and friends, or am ready to jump off cliffs real or metaphoric. It is only that writing is the activity that is getting squeezed shut right now.

Thanks to those of you who periodically stop by here. I don’t intend to let the past tense to describe permanently this blog. But I don’t know if I’ll be back here tomorrow, or next week, or in a few months.


>I’m Back — with survey results

>It has been almost a month since my Year End survey closed, but I had yet to post results. I decided today, that if I didn’t do it today, I might never. Sometimes it’s hard to get back into something if you leave it too long. But, I felt I couldn’t post on anything else if I didn’t publish the results. I wish more people had participated this year; maybe next year I’ll do something different. So, here are the results

1. Favorite book you read this year:

Wesley the Owl

Imperium (nonfiction)

Paper Towns (YA)

Chess Story (Short fiction)

Stranger on a Train, Jenny Diski

The Gone Away World, Nick Haraway

2. Favorite Blog you read regularly:

Bookfoolery and Babble

Tales from the Reading Room

“I have too many to play favorites”

“I can’t choose one favourite. I keep my blogroll small because it is the people I look forward to reading”.

“I have a long list of blogs I read. I can’t keep up with all of them on a daily basis. What I read each day depends on how much time I have and what sort of blog I want to read. I read some blogs that are strictly book reviews, others more general topics, some criticism, so it really just depends on my mood and available time. The problem with not reading some blogs every day is that you lose out on the comments discussions as others have moved on to more recent posts.”

3. What surprised you most about blogging this year?

“How international blogging really is.”

“How wide-spread the blog phenomena have become.”

“How I really have come to know some bloggers, and regard them as friends. Sure, I only have a limited perspective presented in their blogs, in emails, etc., but I only present certain faces in some public arenas. I’m not sure what to call them if not friends.”

“I didn’t expect to get to meet so many bloggers in real life and to have online interaction with them in places other than my blog (email, Facebook, Twitter).”

“What always surprises me is that anyone out there wants to read what I write! And also, that a fair number of people are very interested in shoes.”

4. Did your blogging change this year? Why?

“More posts.”

“Yes, I feel as though the character of my blog ‘settled’ a bit and that my writing became freer.”

“I began to post less frequently than in previous years, mostly because I have less time than I used to and perhaps a bit less energy too.”
“It reduced, because I have less time at home.”

“I thought I had posted less frequently but I checked and I had the same number of posts last year. I wrote less about books this year, but I also read fewer books.”

5. How many books did you read this year?

21 -50 1 respondent

51-75 3 respondents

76-100 1 respondent

6. How frequently do you post?

1 -2 times a week – 2

3 -5 times a week – 2

daily – 0

1 -4 times a month – 0

Randomly – 1

7. If you participated in any sort of blogging challenge, how did it impact what you read and what you wrote? Did it challenge any assumptions you had? Change the way you read or wrote? etc.

“I hosted the Southern Reading Challenge. It opened my eyes to the amount of readers a little Mississippi blog could generate. I did add more “southern” posts during the challenge.”

“The only thing challenges end up doing is frustrating me. I say I’m going to read many things, but the nature of my reading is more impulsive and I really like it that way. I still ended up reading and blogging on whatever I felt like. I don’t know why I bother to do challenges, but I will probably do a few more next year.”

“I didn’t participate in any challenges. I’m trying to keep my reading plans as open as possible.”

“I tried to participate in a reading challenge, and realised they are not for me. Even though I just fitted what I already wanted to read into the challenge, as soon as I committed to reading those books, I didn’t want to. But, I thoroughly enjoyed NaBloPoMo, even though it was a lot of pressure. It showed me that I could find more blogging time when pushed (although I have fallen back into my old ways since).”

“I am always tempted to join every reading challenge I come across, but I’ve learned not to make commitments, since I never seem to meet the challenge. I do follow some of them though, as I discover interesting books that I might want to read. “

8. Participants:

Maggie Blogging since 2005

Ted Blogging for 1.5 years

Dorothy W Blogging for 2 1/2 years

Becky Blogging almost 2 years

Thanks to those who participated and thanks to all of you who continue to stop by my blog to help blow away the cobwebs. I intend to be posting more regularly in Feb and beyond. It was good to be away — but it’s always great to return to home!

>The Absent Blogger

>I haven’t abandoned this blog – just snowed under (metaphoricallly, though it is cold & snowy here). Promise I’ll be back here soon. For those of you in snowy climates: stay warm.

>3rd Annual Year End Survey

>Updated: I’m up to my eyeballs in work stuff, so I won’t be able to post until midweek. So, I’m keeping this open until Tuesday night if you’re interested in completing. Click here to participate.

For the 3rd year, I’m doing a survey and asking for participants to comment on books and blogging. None of the questions are mandatory — you don’t even have to give your name. As in the preceding year, this is a survey of your favorite books and blogs, not a competition to see who is most popular.

Because Emily has written many times that there is an unwritten rule about memes being limited to 7, I’ve limited the survey to that number — unless you want to indicate your name and blog name. Blogging alias are okay, of course.

Survey closes at 11:45pm (EST) on Sunday, 4-Jan. Results to be posted sometime during the week of 4-Jan. If you indicate your name/blog, you’ll be cited here.

Stay tuned for what’s coming up in 2009 at Cam’s Commentary.

You’ll find the 2008 survey here.