World Blog Hop

I am not much of a joiner. Or at least I never have been. I have always clung to the vague hope that this would make me seem windswept and interesting, like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, but the sad truth of the matter is that I am bulky and blond and blue-eyed, and started developing smile-lines around my eyes when I was about seventeen. The bulky, blue-eyed, smile-lined people of the world might carry many things around with them, but an air of mystery isn’t one of them.

Which is how this half of the band "Modern Talking" was able to get away with murdering 37 prostitutes and a dental hygienist in the 80's.

Which is how this half of the band “Modern Talking” was able to get away with murdering 37 prostitutes and a dental hygienist in the 80’s.

I’ve been a bad blogger. Since I started doing this, a couple of people have done me the honour of nominating me for the various awards that seem to float around on WordPress. I have spurned them. Not because I have not felt grateful or flattered, but because despite my bulky, blue-eyed smiliness, I have always been fairly socially awkward, and I quail at the idea, fundamental to all of these awards, of passing the award on to others.

This is wrong. I have always tended to be a little inward looking, and a tad cynical, but I was lucky enough to marry someone who wasn’t, and have spent the last couple of decades learning, slowly, that being actively kind is not actually a bad thing. Popping into someone else’s life to tell them that you think they’re doing something cool isn’t a vile imposition. It’s just nice.

So what am I on about? Well, since I started doing this, a few people out there have been kind enough to pop into my blog fairly regularly over the last couple of years, not just to have a look, but to make the whole thing seem worthwhile by having something to say about it all. I have, as the isolated, cynical sort, given very little back. Which makes the part of me that has spent the last few decades learning from someone better than me feel awful.

Fear not! Today I start. There’s a bunch of weirdo’s following my blog. Not the wrong sort of weirdo’s; the sort that spend their afternoons sweating heavily in panel vans outside schools. The right sort. The sort that are actively living the lives that all of us imagine that we would be happier living. People who are moving out to the country and growing their own food. People who make stuff. From nothing. Hippies. I envy these people. I admire them. I’d love to join them for a cup of coffee. But not a meal. Half of them seem to be vegans. No bacon.

 

You can make a panel van seem far less ominous by simply painting a friendly slogan on the side. I just takes a little effort.

You can make a panel van seem far less ominous by simply painting a friendly slogan on the side. It just takes a little effort.

They’re all doing something fun. It’s called a World Blog Hop. I have no idea how it works. But they’ve been kind enough to invite me along. And I’m going to do it! Which is a problem!

The buggers all make stuff. They knit things and sew things and draw things and bake things. I don’t. I sell books. Although, in my defence, I did once make a table out of old pallets. And some children (I made some children. I didn’t make a table out of some children. That’s still illegal ‘round here). I did once take this;

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And turn it into this;

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557795_10151245430859658_2145133260_n

23963_10151245430409658_456559663_n

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Which has to count for something, although it does feel a little like cheating. I did not lovingly nurture nature’s bounty into a leafy green oasis. I just moved some rocks around and then put some plants in the ground and ignored them. It’s gone surprisingly well. Our soil is ridiculously fertile. I suspect there might be some bodies buried out there. The previous owners did look a little dodgy…

I cover up for my horticultural laziness by telling everyone I’m growing a wildlife garden. And I am. We managed to lure in one of these!

We think it was after one of the children. Luckily, we have two.

We think it was after one of the children. Luckily, we have two.

 

And then our bloodhound drove it away again. But I am inspired. I’m busy building a mound of turf, broken tiles, and rotting logs in the hopes of attracting some snakes. Mrs 23thorns is most pleased. I keep catching her staring at me intently with what I’m pretty sure is frank admiration. She’s taken to carrying a large kitchen knife around, so I suspect she’s busy cooking me a tasty cake as a reward…

I was nominated for this by Linda from A Random Harvest, who immediately set about shaming me by putting up a post full of things she had knitted. And sewn. And drawn. And sloshed around in brightly coloured buckets of dye. This is going to be interesting…

img_26831img_35591

Hah. I bet she never made anything out of used pallets using only a crowbar and a sledgehammer...

Hah. I bet she never made anything out of used pallets using only a crowbar and a sledgehammer…

Here’s how it works. Linne sent me a few questions. I’m going to try to answer them without lying too much. Here goes…

  1. Include a quote that you like.

Oops. Bad start. I’m not really a quotey sort of person. Mrs 23thorns has suitcases from her childhood full of books recording the things she read that moved her, or changed her, or spoke to her, or about her. My mother did the same thing. Me? I just never got into the habit. Although I can quote Jethro Tull lyrics, word for word, because my father played them every single day on the way to school. For years.

So I’ll give you something obscure. Various members of my family have been rather taken by Rudyard Kipling’s If, but I always preferred this one;

The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild–as wild as wild could be–and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.

cat36

Make of it what you will…

And now for the tricky part.

  1. Why do I create what I do?

I’ve checked out a couple of the other people taking part in this. As I mentioned, they make things. They knit and sew and grow things and then do complicated things with them in stoves and then eat them. I have a sister who studied fine art and a wife who can sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and produce something worth sticking up on a wall. Me? I warble. I tap things into a keyboard and throw them out into the world. It doesn’t really feel like the same thing.

But the question has been asked so I will try to answer it. I create what I do because Mrs 23thorns started a blog and I got jealous. So I started my own. And I found that I liked it.

I hadn’t really written anything at all since I had been in school, and I’d only done that because they bullied me into it, but writing things purely for my own enjoyment turned out to be kinda cool.

And there’s more. The internet can be a pretty ugly place. The cloak of anonymity seems to turn ordinary people into monsters. But not here. Not on WordPress. I seem to have stumbled onto the only corner of cyberspace that isn’t populated with ugly-minded little trolls who live to question your sexuality, parentage and race whenever you say something they are mildly challenged by. The ugliest things I’ve come across here have been snippets of awkwardly delivered constructive criticism.

 

I said your posts are a little on the long side. You got a problem with that?  Nice pictures though.  And I really like the layout of your homepage.  What theme is that?

I said your posts are a little on the long side. You got a problem with that?
Nice pictures though.

Everybody is just nice. It’s all a little peculiar, in the best possible sense of the word. I can think of worse ways to fill up my free time.

  1. How does my creative process work?

Um. That sounds far too grown up for what I’ve been doing here. I see things or hear things or do things and then try to pass them on in a way that I hope will make people smile a little.

But that doesn’t really describe a process, does it? So here goes; I have never been described as having laser-like focus. My mind tends to hop from one thing to another, usually long before I’ve had time to deal with the first thing. But every now and then, something will grab my attention for a little longer, and it will tug at the edge of my consciousness like one of those songs you can’t stop singing.

So I let it in. It will fill up my head with words while I’m in my car, or at work, or while digging in the garden. When there are too many of them, I sit down and pour them out into a keyboard so my head can be empty again.

 

A dramatic reconstruction, using a highly paid professional actor, of me writing a blog post.

A dramatic reconstruction, using a highly paid professional actor, of me writing a blog post.

I did, for a while, try to write every day. That was a bit harder. I had to go out and find the words. But they did always seem to be out there somewhere. It was just a matter of catching them and tying them down. It helped that I come from a large, loud, and ludicrously opinionated family. In order to avoid disappearing completely, you had to learn to form opinions on everything, instantly, and then defend them to the death no matter how ludicrous they were. Until the next day, when you could cheerfully discard them.

  1. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I have done my best to avoid having a genre. I reckon that the vast majority of people out there in the blogging world are doing this for their own enjoyment, rather than for monetary gain, so why not keep your options open?

If anything, I have tried to keep a vein of humour running through things. It’s hard to be objective about something like that, and there is nothing worse than the sort of person who laughs too loudly at their own jokes, but I try, at the very least, to keep it light.

This has proved to be a bit of a problem of late. Winter has ground on for too long, and it gets dark too early, and my garden is bleak and dry and dying from the cold, and someone is killing all our rhinos, and the government is corrupt and the workers are rising up and Ebola is coming to get us and the words that fill up my head in my car or at work or while I’m digging in the garden don’t really belong here, so I find myself writing less. But fear not. Spring is springing and soon all will be right with the world again. Or at least all will be right within our four walls…

Grow, you bastards! Grow!

Grow, you bastards! Grow!

 

  1. What am I presently working on?

I am trying to get a blog going for the bookshop where I work. It’s proving to be a little tricky. We are supposed to be doing “community marketing”, which is easier said than done. Our store is on the outskirts of Johannesburg, in an area where there are lots of new housing developments and young families. Everybody comes from somewhere else and works somewhere else. There isn’t really a community.

So I thought I would try to start an online community. It’s going swimmingly. There’s just one tiny problem. Blogs know no boundaries, and I’m not sure than convincing people from Wales or Tasmania or Atlanta that they need to read about seductive and shirtless Highlanders will win me much favour with the powers that be…

The writing is proving to be a little tricky, too. I’m having to go out and find those words again, and then beat them and bend them and pull them into shape ‘til they fit, rather than just writing whatever is on my mind. I’m having fun, though, and that has to count for something.

*****

So that’s that then. I joined! I took part in something! With other people! And I had fun doing it!

And now for the tricky part. I have had to go and find some other people to join. And I did it! Here they are;

Marcia Meara:

Marcia was one of the first people to comment on my own blog. She was, back then a sweet older lady who was kind about my first faltering steps into the blogosphere. She had a couple of blogs; one about the books she loved and another, more personal one.

But then she went and upped the ante. I first learned that she was getting poems published in collections all over the place. Then she went off and wrote a book. And then another one.

She did it! I suspect that most of us on WordPress are frustrated authors in one shape or another. I also know, from years of working in the book industry, that that whole story of everyone having a book in them is a half-truth at best. We might all have a book in us, but most of us will never get them out of us. And that might not be a bad thing.

She also created this gif of herself. And that's all I have to say about that...

She also created this gif of herself. And that’s all I have to say about that…

 

So there’s my first nomination. The one who just up and did what we all dream of doing.

KokkieH

I’ve nominated KokkieH because looking at his blog is like looking at a mirror. He’s doing what I’m doing, so if I crack the nod for answering questions about my creative process, so does he. He started off blogging as an aid to writing a book. And then he just started blogging about everything. And anything.

But that’s where the similarities stop. He has actually started work on his first draft. Me? I got nothing. So I’m giving him a push so that at least one of us can go off and join Marcia. Then I can claim his success as my own instead of being jealous.

 

He also likes hammers...

He also likes hammers…

Mrs 23thorns.

I just had to do it, because it was so easy. Or not. Mrs 23thorns has several books in her. But she’s a little busy right now. She has, for various reasons, always been fascinated with history, and with tracking down her own roots.

A few years ago, she learned how to do this properly. And she loved it. So now she’s doing it for other people. She loves that, too. But. Mrs23thorns is an obsessive. In the true sense of the word. She quite liked the first Lord of the Rings movie. So she read all three books. Over a long weekend. Then she read everything else Tolkien had ever written (and taught herself elvish) over the next week. Then she ate something.

Why is this a “but”? Well, right now, Mrs 23thorns is busy doing family trees. She is not a genealogist. She’s a family historian. She doesn’t find out that your great-great-grandfather’s name was Charles. She finds out that your great-great-grandfather’s name was Charles, and that he once passed through the Congo on his way to New Zealand, and then writes you three pages on the rubber industry in the Congo in 1897.

As an obsessive, this keeps her a little busy. I have to feed her with a drip and carry her out into the sunlight while she’s napping so she doesn’t develop a vitamin D deficiency.

So she’s not doing much blogging right now. But she has two blogs. One on which she brings history to life, and another on which she dresses up in peculiar outfits and makes me take photos of her dragging the dustbins out into the street. I am so very much the normal one in my family…

A completely

A completely…

...normal person...

…normal person…

...playing with...

…playing with…

...her dustbin.

…her dustbin.

As one does.

As one does.

 

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18 thoughts on “World Blog Hop

  1. Being seriously bashful on the social media front, I, too, have trouble following the Hops that happen on here – but am, usually, a silent spectator, enjoying the ebb and flow of the wonderful wit that my fellow WordPress users express so well, so it was lovely to read that you had dipped a toe into that world – is it as warm as it seems to be? 🙂

    It was great to see the pics of Mrs 23Thorns again – it was through you that I found her wonderful Blogs, and reading both her historical journeys, and the hilarious journeys of her mind, cheers me up no end when you have been silent for a while – so kudos to you both, for making my tiny, and rather soggy, corner of Wales seem that much brighter 🙂

    I’ve been quieter than normal on my own blogs recently, but I’m determined to get back into the swing of things again, especially now that my laptop, and internet access, are back in good form! 🙂

  2. Linne says:

    More blogs to follow . . . good thing I have so much time in my days with which I have no idea what to do.;-)

    Marcia; well! I love anyone who loves books, whether or not we read the same genres or not. Even nicer when we overlap, I think.

    KookieH is going to be another blogger of interest, too. His se of hammers is quite intriguing . . a that bit about using a song title as the kick-off point for a short story . . . more to read . . .

    As to Mrs. 23T, I’ve been following her for some time. I LOVE he dustbin episodes. Who would have thought taking out the trash cold be so entertaining?

    So, thanks again. Just what I needed! ~ Linne

  3. Linne says:

    . . . actually, I HAVE made something from old pallets, but sans crowbar and sledgehammer. I used several wire coathangers and a pair of pliers with a wire-cutting notch. I stood seven pallets up on edge, wired them together in the shape of an ‘eight’ and left one side of the two front ones free so they could swing open. Those I closed with a twist of coat hanger. Then I dumped in some hedge trimmings and grass clippings, followed by kitchen waste (veggie and fruit peels, etc.). Presto, change-o . . . compost!

  4. mariekeates says:

    Weirdos make the world a better place 🙂

  5. Linne says:

    Thank you for the fantastic post, Mr. 23T! I love it. And ‘crafty’ can take many forms, you know . . . I’ve posted about your post, just in case any of my followers missed this.
    https://arandomharvest.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/the-voyage-through-the-virtual-village-continues-part-1/
    I appreciate so much your taking up the baton and then passing it on. No time tonight, but I’ll be reading your nominees’ blogs soon. I just love this bit of the blog hop – meeting new people I might never have found otherwise. (I found you because Ms. Narfie7 follows you, was intrigued by the name; came, read, fell in love while falling off my chair laughing . . . But Mrs. 23T need not worry; I’m older than your parents . . . 😉 ~ Linne

    • Linne says:

      BTW, I forgot to say (for benefit of your readers), that’s not me wearing the knitted shawl thing above; that’s my tiny, 94.5 year old Aunty. She loves to serve as my model . . . ~ L

  6. Spy Garden says:

    Delightful. Fall (aka s. hemisphere spring) is a good time of year for spreading the wordpress niceness. This time last year I was inspired by your 100 posts and it was a wonderful exercise. Now I am back to writing only captions under photos instead of 300-1000 word essays…mostly of pictures of dirt and plants. aha Moving rocks and digging holes is highly underrated and really that pallet coffee table on wheels post of yours was funny and memorable. Home & Garden can never go wrong!

  7. KokkieH says:

    Like looking in a mirror? That’s high praise indeed – just the other day I was telling someone I wished I could do humour as well as you. Thanks for the nomination 🙂

  8. Heather says:

    We have bacon … they have tofu. One of my coworkers compared it today to elasticated chalk, while I compared it to a marshmallow gone badly wrong. I admire vegans very much, but I’m staying on Team Bacon …

  9. Bacon? You wnt bacon? We got bacon although I do recommend the home raised chook or lamb instead. MUCH tastier. I’m working on the bacon though. 😉 Welcome for coffee anytime you happen to land yourself in Oz.

  10. menomama3 says:

    I used to think you were the funniest person on the internet until I saw the pictures of Mrs. 23Thorns. You are meant for each other.

  11. narf77 says:

    (Just threw Mr KokkieH into my RSS Feed Reader mix. Anyone who can rewrite Uriah Heap with a hammer and who survived till now with a name like Herman Kok is A.O.K. by moi! Cheers for the share Mr 23Thorns. I am thinking that if I hang around long enough, some of that literary genius might just rub off…)

    • KokkieH says:

      Hey! What’s wrong with my name? I see I’m going to have to keep the BIG hammer nearby with you around…

      • narf77 says:

        I bow to your literary genius Mr K. (tee-hee 😉 ). I have a penchant for calling everything that I assign masculinity to, “Herman”. My sourdough starter, robust, angry, testosterone fueled (sour as buggeries) is “Herman”. Thus you see, I couldn’t help but start following your blog. You had best start writing sir. I am waiting…

  12. narf77 says:

    Windswept and interesting like Billy Connelly is more appropriate Mr 23Thorns…

    Candy in panel vans? I am IN! Au contraire about the bacon Mr 23Thorns. We vegans can have our coconut bacon (or eggplant, or shiitake) and eat it! We just can’t manage to force our minds to not remember the real stuff while we are smiling and pretending that it is “SOOO good!”

    You are SO completely showing off with those before and after garden shots Mr23Thorns! Some of us have been languishing in the Morlock mines slaving away 24/7 and unable to haul our pallid derrieres out into the slowly rising temperatures and hints of blue sky…some of us are resentful as all hell!

    NOW I see where this is going! Ms Linnie got you by the short and curly’s eh? This blog hopping thing is harder to get out of than one of those (inane) ice bucket challenges. I see why you succumbed rather than had to think of a way to dissuade Ms Linnie who is persuasion personified ;). I felt like a fish out of water when I was asked to blog hop a (mercifully long) while ago as I am not particularly “crafty” either Mr 23Thorns. I waved a few crafty things that we made out of necessity (the mother of invention flows strong on Serendipity Farm young padawan) but never once felt like I was really included in the hallowed halls of crafting fame. I was a blog hop fraud and quickly nominated someone else better equipped to take up the baton as I was a spent husk with all of that thinking about creativity and trying to channel my muses into (behaving) going in the same direction at the same time…wasn’t easy…don’t want to talk about it…

    Clever quote Mr 23Thorns, you obviously know cats well and know that most of your dear constant readers are cat lovers. “Tick”…Calling us “nice” is a big stretch of the imagination Mr 23Thorns…methinks we are “nice” primarily because you haven’t given us anything to be “not nice” about to this point. Keep trying 😉

    Kudos Ms Marcia. Anyone who can get off their derriere, organise a clean space on their desk, enough hot beverage of their choice and a quite space to write long enough to produce an actual book is an object of my admiration

    More kudos Mr KokkieH. (How long do I have to pretend that I am not GREEN with jealousy that other people actually got it together and are writing a real book eh Mr 23Thorns? I hope I am doing a good job not showing my green gills…) “Wonderful blog Mr KokkieH, I wish you all the success in the world” (my head hurts…)

    OH Mrs 23Thorns! The woman who is able to balance out Mr 23Thorns as an equal (yeah…we let him believe that 😉 ) and perfect alter ego producing a side by side inseparable pair of salt and pepper shakers. Where would we be without your salt to Mr 23Thorns pepper eh? I miss your blog posts but completely understand how you need to forge ahead and channel your muses in order to keep sane. SO many muses…so little time.

    And so we get to the end Mr 23Thorns. You managed to do what I couldn’t. You pulled a blog post about the creative process out of thin air whilst hardly mentioning the “craft” word at all and you got three people to fall for your charms…THREE! I am off to twitch a bit and read Ms Marcia’s and Mr KokkieH’s blog. We can always dream…

  13. Three Cheers for Mrs 23Thorns! I’d love it if she lived in my neighbourhood and put the bins out whilst wearing fancy costumes! Strangely, I never see any of my neighbours putting out their bins, but when I put mine out (usually late at night I will admit, and occasionally in my dressing gown!) the others are already out. Perhaps all my neighbours do go out in fancy dress and I’ve just never seen them. 🙂

  14. Marcia says:

    Reblogged this on Bookin' It and commented:
    23 Thorns is doing a Blog Hop. Read about it here…trust me, it’s funny. And oh, yeah. I’m proud to say he’s nominated me to take part, too, which I will do very soon. Maybe tomorrow.

  15. Marcia says:

    Okay, 23…you’ve gone and done it! You’ve made ME look positively inspiring…except for that part where I look ridiculous in the animated .gif, of course, but I have only myself to blame for that.

    Your post, as always, made me laugh. It also made me feel connected to you via the somewhat circuitous route of shared insecurities. I have two things to say on that.

    One, there is nothing wrong with doing things the way you always have done. You are YOU, and not to be compared with anyone else. (Does the profundity of that remark nearly knock you off your feet? You learn some things over 70 years, even if you aren’t trying to.) Being a bit withdrawn and shy (read anti-social and possibly paranoid) has stood many of us in good stead since the dawn of civilization. Sometimes it works out quite well.

    Two, is that there is always an upside to being open to change and growth. If that’s what you are looking for, then you just take those first faltering steps and have at it. I think that’s what you are doing via this Blog Hop, if I read you correctly, here. (Always a challenge, because I’m too busy laughing at your subtitles…YOU are the Subtitle KING.) At any rate, if you have really decided to come out and play, I for one am thrilled. I think you have real genius in you, Mr. 23, and I love that you are planning (I hope) to share more of it with the world.

    In the long run, do what’s right for you, and you can never go wrong. (More profundities, here. I’m full of ’em.) Unless what’s right for you is making a hero out of that first guy, who apparently thought dental hygienists were every bit as bad as prostitutes…something I’ve long suspected, myself, though I have managed never to kill any, despite provocation.

    Thank you so much for nominating me for this Blog Hop. I’m truly flattered, and I’ll be on it this week, for sure. And welcome back, 23. You’ve been sorely missed!

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