Anniversaries and Friends

I’ve been informed by WordPress that it is the two-year anniversary of my blog

Around ZuZu’s Barn and it brought back many memories from the early days when I was even more clueless about this social media stuff than I am today. If it wasn’t for my Rhode Island friends, Rob Bentley and Peg Goter, I’d still be flailing around with no published posts to show for it. But, to date, this will be my 98th published piece, not including the five drafts that I thought the better of before pushing the button and the three I actually trashed for the greater good of all.

My first two entries in April, 2014 (which only a few people read because I only had seven followers – three of which were  spammers) were filled with happy memories of Charley and me traveling to the Berkshires on my 66th birthday to collect my first book,  A Berkshire Tale from Shirespress. I sang along with the radio all the way up to Manchester and Charley turned his hearing aids off. We went into Lenox and Stockbridge to the settings in the book and each place we visited wanted to put it into their gift shops: Tanglewood, where ZuZu first hears the summer music of the Boston Symphoney Orchestra in the air; The Red Lion Inn where the little Tabby meets Simon Treadway Gato, the Lobby Ambassador who introduces her to Santa Claus; The Berkshire Botanical Garden where ZuZu and her friend Nick learn about saving monarch butterflies; and the Hancock Shaker Village filled with history and stories of a long-ago past.  

Rockwell’s Studio above the General store

(For those who are not bloggers and don’t know about links, if you missed any of the posts about these places, just click on any word in the colorful array and you will find yourself transported by a link to that post.)

Soon, we’ll be returning to the Berkshires to visit these places and bring them more books for the summer season. And I’ll be snapping photos to be used in future tales from the ZuZu series. The next book will be set in Stockbridge during Norman Rockwell Weekend and I’m also thinking of doing another about Baby Animals at the Hancock Shaker. I’ll take lots of pictures of the little ones to share with you in a future post.

As I reread posts from the last two years, I realized how much has changed. Blog themes have progressed from reading with young children to much broader topics including: interesting places from our travels, baseball, music, art, photography, health and lately even politics. With those topic changes came new readers, although my original three spammers have stayed quite loyal and multiplied according to Akismet statistics. And many of those new readers have become old friends.

Russ, a children’s author in California, has given me good advice from the first. Osyth takes me on journeys through France with her sidekick, Bean. Andy brings China into my little house in the woods of West Kingston. Clive offers humor from Great Britain. Ann shares her life in the Ukrain with her lovely videos. Melinda in Florida makes me laugh about her trials with staying organized. Joanne and I rant together about the Buffoon who is temporarily ensconced in the White House.  Herb and I commiserate about the role of being advocates for our loved ones. Mary, in Scotland, understands this well, as she writes her book about her Dad’s dementia. Dennis, Thom, and ArtieQ bring music into my life. From Australia and New Zealand I’ve learn about nature from Robyn, bicycling from Gail, public speaking from Yvette. Jaqueline and Bernadette have shared space on their blogs every week for others to meet.  Sharon takes us through the alphabet of the most interesting books to read, Martha gives us Broadway musicals from A-Z  and Lynn gives us recipes and lessons on how to move from a frightening past to a hopeful future. And there are hundreds more bloggers who’ve spent many pleasant hours together with me in my Rhode Island home..

In the past two years, my own followers have grown from the original four friends and the three very loyal and persistent spammers to hundreds of people visiting me and leaving comments every week. People from all over the United Sates and 96 countries have come into my home and in return, I’ve traveled to their sites and learned so much by spending time with them. I’m truly grateful for everything they’ve added to my life and I thank them today and hope to spend more time with them in the future.

During the New Year I have been quite remiss in keeping up with happenings in the blogosphere. They are an understanding group and know I’ve been working diligently to get my first mystery published by this June. Fellow bloggers who are authors and musicians, themselves, are most empathetic. They’ve been through those last few months of re-writes and edits needed before the launch into public view.

So, now I will spend my afternoon editing additional information to be included in the mystery about the historic sites used as settings in Last Train to Kingston.  And then, I’ll write another thousand words for the Last Rose on the Vine.  Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment – I’ve already started the second mystery in the series. In the first book, the body is found on the bike path next to the local railway station. This time the body is found in the rose garden at the nearby college. So many bodies, so little time!

Yesterday, I spent the morning with my friend Zack, who has done a great job designing the covers for Last Train and Carnivore Conundrumthe little verse book about the baby pitcher plant who decides to become a vegetarian. He is now working diligently on the illustrations for Carnivore and we’ll be launching that in the near future. Roxie loves Zack and has convinced him that his next job  should be illustrating a book about her.  I’m sure those of you who are members of the Roxie Dammit Fan Club are very happy to hear this.

Roxie, ZuZu, Charley and I wish you all a lovely spring season and a very peaceful holiday. Take care and remember to stop and smell the roses. Be careful, though. There may be a dead body in the mulch and a killer lurking somewhere close at hand!

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64 thoughts on “Anniversaries and Friends

    1. Kate, I just read about how you set up your porch and made your cats so very happy. Roxie is livid with us because her Gazebo is not ready for her yet. She intends to do a blog post on all of the caring cat owners like you who lavish so much love on their little ones. I do not see me coming out very well in that post! But you will look marvelous, my friend! Have a wonderful week. Clare

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  1. I smiled so much reading your delightful post that my smile muscles began to hurt. The smiles started as soon as my email feed informed me you’d written another post. You didn’t disappoint. Congratulations on all the fun activities. I believe I’ve said this before, but I plan to buy your new book as soon as it’s available for sale. I await it with baited breath. (Why is it that the phrase “baited breath” always reminds me of the smell of fish bait?) ;-D! I wish you much continued success!

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    1. Russ, I’ve really been enjoying the vignettes about your grandchildren and Thomas is a true favorite of mine. It’s good we are Face Book friends, now because I check in on that quite regularly and can link to your posts easily. Happy Easter Egg Hunting, my friend and give Your Beloved a big hug from me. Your old friend, Clare

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    1. Sarah, I just came in from working in the yard with Charley. Those photos are from last spring and I think it will be even more beautiful this year. It’s truly gorgeous outside and tomorrow, Easter Sunday, it’s supposed to be in the 80′. What a gift! Have a marvelous week.

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  2. This is such a great post… beautiful photos and words. We could relate to your note about your earlier post when you had only a few followers. We remembered when we started in September 2016 when we had only a couple followers and felt we had spent hours trying to figure the blogging thing out and nobody liked it, lol. Looking back we see it was a season of growing and learning and are soooooo thankful now for that season. Keep on posting for us. Happy Easter.

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      1. We can understand the dilemma Claremary. It is so wonderful to have so many looking on and we so enjoy looking on to theirs. Some days there are not enough hours in the day. Somehow we do it though and are so happy we did. We are so amazed at how many gifted people we have connected with and there are more to come.

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  3. Wow!! 2 years already?? Congrats, Ethel!! And thanks so much for the mention!! I love you!!
    Yes, he definitely should illustrate a book about Roxie! So, hurry and write it, ok??? See, Roxie, I’m advocating for ya, love!!
    You keep so busy!!
    Happy Resurrection Sunday!!
    Love, Lucy

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    1. Yes, when I checked back, I see we were part of that 101 group. And I’m glad, too. So many have kept in contact. I was actually going to stop blogging last December but decided to at least do a post every month if I could. I think I’d really miss people and that seemed truly sad to think about. So, here’s to another year and who knows what it will bring, C.J. Have a lovely week!

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    1. Yes, Charley and I do keep ourselves busy for two old coots! And I’m very glad to see that you’re getting back into the swing of it again. It is quite a beautiful day here in RI and it’s filling me with an attitude of gratitude. Thanks for stopping by, Robin.

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  4. Happy Birthday, Clare! (You and I are the same age – yay for the younger generation!)

    I’m astounded at how much you accomplish. Just to see the beautiful photos of the farm – how do you have time to manage a farm of such diversity and to write, travel, blog – ? You must never sleep. But please don’t start now – can’t wait to see more photos of your beautiful corner of the country.

    Congrats on your mystery publication – Last Train to Kingston is now on my TBR list.

    I think you gave me a shout-out here, so thank you for that.

    And, I have to mention that Word Press never alerts me about my blog anniversary with them – can’t figure out why I’ve been forgotten.

    Here’s wishing you and Charley and all the critters a wonderful spring around the barn and wherever else you wander.

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    1. Happy Birthday to you, too, Sharon. I told you we were twins separated at birth. Now, about that farm. It only exists in my imagination and in the Berkshire Tales book.(I alluded to this on my About Me Page). The photos are taken in various places here in RI and in the Berkshires.. Tomorrow, I’m headed for Hancock Shaker Village in the Berkshires to get some shots of baby animals for use in a future ZuZu book set up there in the Village.
      Yes, that was definitely a shout-out to you and your wonderful blog. I’m not sure why WordPress doesn’t send you a notice.
      I still have final edit work to complete on the mystery before it’s printed and launched in late June (fingers crossed). But I’ve started the second mystery in the series and it’s coming along quite well. In this book, I am murdering off people modeled after 2 people I cannot abide (and I like pretty much everybody). It is very cathartic. I just came inside from planting colorful pansies into window boxes. It’s been a gorgeous day here in Rhode Island. I hope your day was lovely, too.

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  5. Lovely post and thanks for the mention. Here’s to your next two years blogging. I’m way behind with mine and have been on holiday to the island of Arran and am hoping to start getting back on top of things this coming week.
    Happy spring 🙂 I see our swallows have come back today.

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    1. Hello, Mary. You are quite welcome. I’m glad you’ve taken some holiday time. Charley and I will head up to the Berkshires for a couple of days. A kind of holiday, but I’ll be doing some work with the ZuZu Series. Thank goodness the mystery is set here at home. Much less travel involved. I’ve started the second book in the mystery series and I’m thinking of sending this one to a traditional publisher. That should prove quite interesting. Happy spring to you, too and we are hearing many more bird songs in the woods around our house – some of them are barn swallows nesting in the rafters of our porch shed. I wish you much luck with your book, too. Clare

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  6. Congratulations Clare! Two years worth of posting under your belt, not to mention the growing list of books. I am so looking forward to ‘Last Train to Kingston’. And to think there is going to be a series!
    The spring garden photos are beautiful. There is something about the sharp seasonal contrasts one has living in a colder climate that I don’t get to experience here.

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    1. Hi, Robyn. Yes, I really love living in New England and this winter was not really bad at all. The spring has been incredibly beautiful; sunny and warm and tons of flowers. Just spectacular. I’ve started the second mystery and I’m liking it even more than the first. I have many of the same characters and more historic settings/pictures on the college campus, but the plot is better, I think. We’ll see… I’ll be by to visit soon. Clare

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      1. I think my writing and plotting improved immensely after reading Louise Penny. Of course any reading is good for writing. I just love the idea of not having to lose well loved characters at the end of a book.

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      2. Yes, and I also go to PD James when needed. Funny story: Our pastor loves Louise Penny and I told him one day that I sometimes read the end of mysteries ahead of time to make sure a favorite character will be still alive when I finish the book. Also, I like to read who dunnit and then read the mystery to check out how and when the clues are given. The pastor was appalled and said he would never read the ending of a mystery ahead of time. (The next week I gave him her newest book for his birthday and he was saving it to read in the summer while on vacation.) A few weeks later, , he told Charley he was going to have a cake (after service in Fellowship Hall) for Charley and me the next week because we had compiled a Church Directory for the congregation. I said, “No way!”. There were too many people in the church who’d done much more over the years. We were new to the church and had done only that one project. We did not deserve special recognition. He insisted there would be a cake. I then warned him that if there was so much as a cupcake with our names on it, I would tell him the ending of the newest Penny book I’d given him for his birthday. He went back to the Deacons and told them to cancel the cake. When they asked “Why?” he simply answered, “Clare is blackmailing me.” They accepted his explanation without further questions and there was no cake. Her newest book comes out in August, so he’d better stay on his toes! Right now I’m ready Donna Leon’s latest, Earthly Remains and am very impressed so far. I love great mysteries by women authors!

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      3. Yes, I workingt with teenagers all of my life. I know how to give a warning that is always heeded. I think you’ll love Leon’s books set in modern day Venice. Guiddo Bernetti and his family and co-workers become more interesting with every new book. This is her 26th.

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    1. Bernadette, you are so kind to give me that needed boost of confidence. You must have known I’ve been thinking about not blogging any more, but I just can’t give up the people I’ve met. I feel badly about not getting to their blogs lately and commenting, and hope to remedy that in the future. For now, I’ll write a post when I can and try to include lots of photos for some interest. And I love your blog, too. you are wonderful to post about interesting women and to share your space with us. Love, Clare

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  7. Oh, dear Clare, how pleasant and flattering to be mentioned by you at your post, so flattering, thank you so much. Congratulations with you anniversary and many new followers that make your blogosphere life colorful. I am honored to meet you and your cute babies who bring us to their adventurous world. Happy holidays!

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  8. What a lovely tribute to your blogging journey Clare. Congratulations! I had a giggle at your reflections on early followers numbering seven with three being spammers. I had something similar at the start too 😀 You’ve developed a wonderful following for your writing and I’m happy to be amongst them. 🙂

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    1. Yes, we seem to attract some of the same nice people. I think I met you from a comment left on Robyn’s page. I’m surprised at the people who continue to log on. I don’t really do anything to recruit more followers. I worry I won’t have time for the ones who’ve been with me for so long.I’m happy you’re here with me, too. Safe bicycling, my friend.

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  9. A belated Happy Anniversary! Hope you had a lovely Easter and haven’t killed off all of your neighbours. Your books are beginning to sound like a tv series we have in the U.K., called Midsomer Murders. It’s a wonder anyone is still breathing there 😊

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    1. I love Midsomer Murders! Watch it every week. Lots of famous English stage actors as extras. I always pick the most famous of the cast to be the murderer. Actually, my neighbors are quite safe, it’s family members who are in grave danger!

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      1. That’s usually the way it works! Been running for about 15 years, I think, so it really is a surprise that anyone gets out alive. Glad to hear your neighbours are alright though not so sure about your family!

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  10. Belated happy blogiversary! I missed doing my own one (for one year) but never mind. Blogging’s a good and often strange journey, don’t you find?

    Clare, I sent you an email, hope you got it – if not you won’t be able to read my blog as I’ve made it private.

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