a celebration and a cautionary tale (oh, oh, oh)

OH, WOW! (Icing on the Cake)

Here in this humble blog space, the furry kitchen helpers and I have cause to celebrate.

Alphabet Soup is now officially TEN years old!

To think that when I first started blogging — pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-diverse books movement — I could barely insert an image into a post, and pretty much knew next to nothing about how the internet worked. I did know from day one that my focus would be food and books, but I had yet to read a single food blog.

I think this was a good thing, because it would have been way too intimidating to see all those fancy, artfully designed sites with magazine quality photos — blogs written by people decades younger than I was with ten times the energy, ambition, and technical smarts.

Unlike some others, my primary motivation was not to promote my books or profit from sidebar ads or sponsored posts. I wanted to join the online conversation about children’s books, practice a different form of writing, and build self-confidence. I wanted to “take readers by the hand and show them what I loved.”

Though I had published three picture books in the mid-90’s (when there was a blip of interest in “multicultural books”), by 2007, after years of rejection and the crushing realization that books by and about POC were relegated to a kind of ‘afterthought’ sub-category, I had stopped writing altogether, except for personal letters and journals.

If you hear “NO” often and long enough, pretty soon you tell yourself that no one is interested in what you have to say. ‘Don’t go where you aren’t wanted’ is advice I often heard growing up. Life is short — was this a good, healthy way to live — feeling like a failure every single day? Obviously I wasn’t good enough, or maybe “white” enough or young enough or smart enough or perky enough or lucky enough.

But a writer has to write. There is that innate desire for creative expression. As there didn’t seem to be a place for me in the traditional children’s publishing landscape, what about this blog thing? The only person who had to say “YES” to it was me.

And it was scary. What could I write about, and who would ever care? I was not a multi-talented artist who lived in a beautiful home on Martha’s Vineyard, nor had I married a handsome cowboy who had whisked me off to his Oklahoma ranch. I was not a professional chef or even an exceptional home cook, just a technophobe with nascent photography skills.

I’d been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) since the mid 80’s (now I’m really dating myself!), and thought I had done all the “right things” (conferences, workshops, market and agent research, persist persist persist), but I continued to feel like an outsider, a marginalized misfit looking for a home.

In early 2007, I discovered and began to comment on several children’s book blogs (Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Cynsations, Miss Rumphius Effect, A Year of Reading, Blue Rose Girls) as well as many LiveJournal writers’ blogs. Folks were welcoming, generous, and supportive. The conversations were stimulating and got me thinking about children’s literature in new and delicious ways. πŸ™‚

A small crumb of an idea raised my hopes. Maybe I could have my books and eat them too. Instead of dwelling on past disappointments, maybe I could create posts to feed mind, body, and spirit. Maybe Alphabet Soup could be a place where all were welcome to drop in for a quick bite, or leisurely peruse recipes, reviews, interviews, visual art. They might appreciate a quiet moment of reflection or be inspired by a good poem. Maybe Alphabet Soup could be a soft place to fall, a comfortable spot on the web where I could serve up a little joy.

Now, 1800+ posts and 20,000+ images later, I marvel that I haven’t yet run out of things to say. I’ve read and reviewed hundreds of tasty books, collected oodles of recipes from authors, illustrators and poets, shared too many poems to count, and featured the work of amazing indie artists. I’ve had the chance to “meet” and learn from many brilliant writers, illustrators, educators, and librarians. And I’ve enthusiastically explored the ultimate sweet spot where food, memory, history, culture, and artistry converge.

And I’m still hungry for more.

But a blog is nothing without its readers. All along, I’ve been blessed with loyal, whip-smart followers. You have kept me going year after year. Thank you for reassuring me that maybe I have something worthwhile to say after all.

Alphabet Soup started out as a creative outlet, a playful diversion, a search for community. But now, after ten years, I see it’s actually been a journey of healing. Words have immeasurable power.

I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” ~ Emily Dickinson

A once broken writer has found her voice.

*

OH NO! (That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles)

While I am happy to celebrate ten years of Alphabet Soup, I am sorry to report that a blogger’s worst nightmare has come true.

By the end of 2018 (if not sooner), I stand to lose most of the aforementioned 20,000 images posted at this blog (*weeps*). Reason: Photobucket, which hosts 90% of my images, changed their Terms of Service as of June 20, 2017, to allow third party hosting only for those subscribers willing to pay an exorbitant $400/year.

Since Photobucket’s inception in 2003, third party hosting (the ability to share images on social media and forums, or embed them in blogs or external websites) was a given, either for free or paid accounts. I’ve been a paid subscriber ($30/year) since 2007, and currently have 19,000 images stored at Photobucket, most of them linked to my blog. (My WordPress blog itself offers limited storage, hence the need for an additional storage option.)

Sure, companies change their policies and raise their prices all the time, but the way Photobucket implemented this change was egregiously unfair, destructive, and downright criminal.

Without advance warning or prior feedback from its millions of users, one day they simply blocked thousands of linked images on the web, replacing them with ugly placecards. Users either had to pay the $400 “ransom” or have their image links permanently broken. This is blackmail, pure and simple, and it unjustly penalizes longtime users like me, who potentially have the most to lose, maybe not in terms of money, but in terms of thousands of broken links and hours and hours and years and years of work devoted to building an archive of blog posts.

Whether you are a casual user with 10 images, or a commercial website with 10,000+ images stored at Photobucket, if you want to share a single one of them, you MUST pay their ransom. Since PB currently hosts billions of images scattered all over the web, this sly, nasty move has adversely affected thousands of small business owners who post product images on sites such as Amazon, Etsy, and Ebay, and just as many personal bloggers and hobbyist/forum posters, many of whom share photos for educational/non-profit purposes (and cannot afford to pay the yearly fee). PB knew they would have customers over a barrel, left with no choice but to pony up or risk losing even more revenue. Despicable.

The new Terms of Service is especially cruel because it is retroactive. With standard business practice, changes usually apply from the new policy’s start date going forward. In this case, the third party hosting rule affects all images shared on the web dating back to 2003. The images I stored on PB the last ten years were uploaded to their site in good faith, based on their existing Terms of Service, which always allowed third party hosting.

Like many other users, I would be willing to pay a reasonable fee (perhaps $100/year), if it meant keeping my existing links intact. But the increase from $30/year to $400/year, without tiered options based on user needs is ridiculous and greedy.

But it gets worse.

Naturally, the majority of users are rightfully outraged and the backlash has been fierce and unrelenting. Many have deleted their accounts and many more are trying to remove their images from the site. Just so happens PB has disabled their “download albums” function. Right now, if you want to get your pictures back, you have to “save” one image at a time to your computer. And Customer Support is currently NOT responding to inquiries. Is this a form of content theft, or what? 😦

And even worse.

There are people who have actually paid the $400, but claim their images remain blocked. This whole thing smells of a desperate money grab to pay off debts before the company goes bankrupt. They have destroyed the trust of current members, scared away new subscribers, and done irreparable damage to their reputation. Incredibly stupid business move, or blatant attempt to extort money? I smell a HUGE rat. It is only a matter of time before PB completely folds.

Though I am furious over this debacle, I am mostly sad. I really want to save my archives. They are a visible record of all the heart, time, and effort I’ve invested in Alphabet Soup for a decade. Many of my old posts still receive reasonable traffic, and I sometimes reread archived posts for reference. And what about all those fond memories? You can’t put a price on that.

Yes, I have copies of all the photos I’ve taken saved on my computer, but it’s the image links I don’t want to lose. Even if I decide to pay the new fee, I sense the company won’t survive much longer because of this screw-up.

The lucky thing is that my current subscription doesn’t expire until November 30, so none of my images have been blocked . . . yet. I supposedly have until December 2018 to upgrade to the new plan, but I do not want to pay a single penny more to these crooks — especially because there’s no guarantee my links would remain active anyway. Who can trust them after all the damage they’ve done? They have already ruined so many blogs!

So, since August, I’ve been quietly and steadily copying images from the posts I most want to save, re-uploading them directly to WP, and then re-inserting them into their respective posts.Β  Pretty tedious work and especially hairy re-writing all the captions, and linking back to the sources of other people’s photos. I take pride in my ongoing commitment to practice good blog etiquette by giving credit where credit is due.

Even if I recover several posts per day for the next year (if I even have that long), I’ll be saving barely one half of my total content. Believe me, I’d much rather be devoting that time to creating new posts.

Pictures have always been an integral part of this blog (some of my posts average 30+ images each). I don’t want to think about hundreds of posts full of those ugly PB placecards greeting readers who might click on a google link. (Since the PB placecards aren’t the same size as the images they replace, in some cases they even obliterate the post’s text.) All I can do now is save as many posts as I can, not really knowing exactly how much time I have left.

Part of me hopes for a miracle. Will a clever tech person write a plug-in that can make local copies of Photobucket-linked images on a WordPress blog, adding them to the blog’s media library, and then attaching them to their respective posts? The other option is to move all my images to a private server, with script that rewrites all the image URLS. But first you must download these images en masse — and PB has conveniently prevented people from doing that. Can you believe the gall?

I confess that on more than one occasion, I thought to myself that if Photobucket ever went under, that would mean the end of Alphabet Soup. But it was a widely used and lauded site in its heyday, launched just one year before flickr. I couldn’t really imagine either going out of business, certainly not before I stopped blogging. Chalk it up to naivetΓ© and lack of technical savvy. Lesson learned the hard way.

Meanwhile, it’s one image at a time, one post at a time, tiny step by tiny step. Which of your possessions do you grab first when your house is on fire?

Maira, Beatrix Potter, Paddington Bear, Downton Abbey, Eloise, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Secret Garden, Susan Branch . . .

Three hundred fifty-six down, only 18,704 to go.

*

OH, WELL . . . (A Piece of the Pie)

It’s just a blog.

Nothing earth shattering about it. There are far more important things in life to worry about. And yet . . .

Whatever it is you write — a blog, a journal, an essay, a book — you care more about it than anyone else. Only you were there from the very beginning, as you shakily held self-doubt and the relentless internal editor at bay just long enough to take the plunge.

I’m so glad I did.

Ironic, but I’ve worked harder on this blog than I did for all of my picture books combined. Pictures or no pictures, the real gold of blogging is in the experience — of loving a book and being able to share with others why, of researching a fascinating subject and discovering juicy tidbits around every corner, of idolizing certain writers and discovering they’re good people and more “normal” than you’d imagined, of finding just the right way to craft a post to get your message across.

Then of course there’s making, eating and writing about new recipes and finding ways to demonstrate how they enhance appreciation of a story or poem (licks chops). πŸ™‚ And as with any form of writing, there’s the privilege of using the beautiful and complex English language to discover what you’re truly made of.

I have enjoyed learning how to make public writing feel intimate and personal. There’s been a rewarding sense of liberation writing for an audience who lets you be yourself.

My secret husband Colin Firth once said, “If you don’t mind haunting the margins, I think there is more freedom there.” Blogging has shown me the advantages of being the unnoticed observer on the sidelines, who, without self-consciousness or undue pressure to perform, can internalize details and emotional nuances others miss.

From this unique vantage point, where I am not a writer in the maelstrom jockeying for good reviews, better sales, more exposure, I’ve been able to see a different side of the publishing dynamic and have a better understanding of why I was shut out of the game before. I find I am less hard on myself when it comes to things beyond my control, even as my own failings come into sharper focus.

You don’t have to take center stage all the time and shout everything from the rooftops.

You only have to find the courage to embrace who you are and tell it true in your own words. You only have to have the desire to communicate, to gently tap someone on the shoulder and whisper, “Hey, look at this . . .”

So this seemingly inconsequential personal blog, in this microscopic spot on the web, was there for me when I needed it most. It got me writing again, and it pulls me out of darkness almost every day, asking only that I focus on shining a light on good stories, good food, good art. It asks me to choose beauty and to remind others to do the same while all else seems to be crumbling around us.

Flavored with your attention, friendship, and encouragement, my modest piece of the pie has nourished me beyond measure. Shall we have more?

*


Copyright Β© 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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94 thoughts on “a celebration and a cautionary tale (oh, oh, oh)

  1. Happy Anniversary! Jama, you’ve been nothing less than an inspiration to me as I came back to blogging as a creative outlet. Thank you for your positive and kind influence.

    I’m aghast at the terrible behavior of photobucket. I’ll bet your instincts are right and this company is doomed. I’m so sorry that it has hit you and your writing this way. More unfairness does not make this world a better place.

    And, I agree that no one cares more about your writing than you do. Even with the challenges you face, the healing and growth that come from building your incredible blog cannot be taken away by anyone. It’s a beautiful lesson to learn and share. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Linda. It’s been so nice to connect online via Poetry Friday. I have enjoyed visiting your blog and following your writing projects. πŸ™‚

      Photobucket had been in a decline the last few years, and recently changed hands. New management decided to make the company “a viable business.” Their annoying pop-up ads and product sales campaigns weren’t profitable enough so they decided to change their ToS. I think if they had explained the need to charge for services, most of their users would understand and be willing to pay a reasonable fee.

      I agree that no one can take away the healing, growth, new friendships, and wonderful experiences from the last ten years. I look forward to pressing on and writing new posts. There are recipes to make and Mr Cornelius and his helpers are anxious to get to work. πŸ™‚

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  2. Choosing beauty is so difficult these days. Often it is easier to burrow under the covers or dive into a meaningless APP to try and get away. Your blog has certainly been a beacon for me. Thank you for the poetry and pictures.

    I’d suggest taking ads to pay for PB but that doesn’t seem to be the point of you sharing this info with us. I wish you and other PB users luck with some tech or legal solution.

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    1. Thanks, Anna. Choosing beauty is indeed more of a challenge than it has ever been. That’s why it’s good we have each other to bolster our spirits!

      You’re right about the ads — I now pay WP to keep ads off this blog. πŸ™‚ It’s really the principle of the thing. I can’t see how PB can legally get away with this.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First and most important, congratulations to you, Jama, for ten years of this beautiful, kind and tasty blog! I’ve enjoyed it immensely and hope to continue doing so. What PB is doing is absolutely despicable! I can only wish you the best outcome, and thank you again, for the beauty you have put into this struggling, challenging world.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sharon. How lucky I was to stumble upon your poetry one day not too long ago. I am thankful for the beauty you have offered the world with your words and gorgeous photographs. Appreciate all your support and loyalty. πŸ™‚

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  4. Congratulations on ten years, Jama! I’m so glad I found you! Your blog gives me daily enjoyment, smiles, and happiness!!!

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  5. Congratulations on 10 years! For the record I think you are just as talented as the artist on Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve shared many of your posts with family over the years. Good luck with Photo Bucket which seems eerily similar to the service we must use to purchase tickets to an event. Paying a convenience fee for printing out your tickets at home or in your case doing all the work on your blog while they host it. You’ve brought me much joy and smiles with your posts. I appreciate your efforts!

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    1. You are too kind, Sharon. Thanks for following along all this time and sharing posts with others. It’s so good to know you’re out there. πŸ™‚

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    1. Yes, stinks and then some. You would *think* anyone running a photo storage business would understand that when you are dealing with personal photos you are dealing with memories and important parts of people’s lives. Heartless money grubbers!

      Thanks for the congrats and ongoing support!

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    1. Thanks, Annette. Just the other day I re-uploaded all the pix for Robot Zombie Frankenstein. Despite this mess, it’s been pleasant re-visiting some of these older posts. Of course now I want cherry pie. πŸ™‚

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  6. Jama, warm and well-deserved congratulations on keeping us all connected through words and pictures and the love of reading the written word! Shame on Photobucket, indeed — uffda (MN) and auwe! Thank you for your faithful devotion to literature to us, your lucky readers! Aloha!

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    1. Hi Margo! Just “saved” Spaghetti Smiles and An Aloha for Carol Ann. Such great memories of when we first connected and emailed about spam musubi and the like. I feel better knowing that all the wonderful Italy pics you shared are now safely uploaded to the blog, beyond the evil tentacles of PB. Thanks for the warm congratulations!

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  7. Congrats on 10 years. Funny but Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast was pretty much the first book blog I read — also in 2006 or 2007. Happy 10th! I’ll be celebrating 9 next week. I am sooooooo very sorry about the horribleness that is Photobucket. They are just plain mean and heartless. Good luck with all the tediousness. And I LOVE your blog and am so happy to have connected through our blogs and love of food.

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    1. Congrats on 9 years, Janice!! 7-Imp is a beacon for so many and luckily it’s still going strong. I am so glad I found Beth Fish Reads and look forward to rejoining the group now that I’m back from blog break. I have learned a lot about food writing and book reviewing from you! So thank YOU!

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  8. There’s so much here I connected with, Jama (including the rejections–hundreds and hundreds!). Thank you for your beautiful little spot on the internet, where we all feel so welcome and enriched by your gorgeous words and images. Your posts do indeed feed mind, body and spirit. Happy 10th Anniversary! ❀

    Oh, and a pox on &*%@# Photobucket! I hope they respond appropriately to the uproar and change their terms.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. Just saw the pic again of Sammy and Stella you shared for a Poetry Potluck post. Good memories of No Dogs Allowed and M is for Mischief too . . . re-uploading the pics for all the posts featuring your books. πŸ™‚ Appreciate your following along all these years!

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  9. Congratulations on your ten-year anniversary, dear Jama. I appreciate so much your support for writers and readers alike, and your beautifully creative blog posts. Alphabet Soup is a feast for all senses!

    But BOO on PB! You’ve explained really well the issues, which baffled me. Like you, I’m having to save each image, one download at a time, and then upload them to WP. What a shame, that in one fell swoop, they squandered so much goodwill. Oh well, onward!

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    1. Thanks, Melody. I think most people who were on LJ used PB to store their pics. In hindsight, I should have “moved with the times” when I left LJ and considered other storage options. Of course, the whole concept of a self-hosted blog and a private server were beyond my technical understanding six years ago, and with PB, it was easy to upload and use their photo editor to size pics, etc., before hot linking them here. Live and learn, and as you say, onward!!

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  10. I’m so sorry to hear about the photo-bucket debacle (upset about the impact on you and thoroughly disgusted by the greedy, deceitful actions of PB). Your blog is utterly delightful and I’m heartened to know you are persevering.

    With gratitude and best wishes, as always,
    mb

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    1. Thank you so much for your concern and support. It is quite disheartening to know that things like “customer loyalty” and “fair business practices” are foreign to some.

      Yes, I will persevere knowing there are good people like you out there. πŸ™‚

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  11. Jama, your blog is WONDERFUL! Congrats on the 10 years! Awful move on the part of PB. It sounds like you have a method going, and I suppose it depends on what you want to do with the material later, but a tool I like also is screenshots.

    Hope PB isn’t tainting the joy of your 10-year anniversary too much! I just shared your post about Korean cookery and the kimchi book with my Korean sister, who loved it. Last night when I asked her about it she was in the middle of cooking up kimchi fried rice.

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    1. Excited to hear your sister liked Aram’s post. Mmmm, I love fried rice. Never had kimchi fried rice, though. Hmmm, good idea . . .

      Thanks for the congrats! I still miss Book Aunt, BTW. πŸ™‚ Screenshots is a good idea. Luckily I actually printed out my favorite posts from the first four years at LJ before I moved to WP, so at least I have some record of those early blogging times. But screenshots could serve as good reference for certain posts. Better than just blanks where pictures should be. Good tip, Kate!!

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  12. I love your blog too, and I love you, and I even love your secret husband! Okay, I love him most…. What PB has done is horrible, especially the retroactive part, and I hope what they are doing gets wide exposure. There is enough terribleness in the world right now without their contributions!

    But to end on a happier note, Happy Anniversary and I hope this experience won’t deter you from keeping up your wonderful posting!

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    1. Thanks, Jill — very nice to receive all that love. . . but ahem! of course you know my secret husband is taken. Well, on second thought, since I love you and your blog, I’ll share him with you — lots to go around.

      I agree, there is more than enough terribleness in the world without PB badness. This past summer there was considerable press coverage of this fiasco (just google “Photobucket” to read online articles describing everything). PB has dug its own grave. They stopped posting on social media in mid July. Mum’s the word from their end. The ship is sinking fast.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy Anniversary, Jama – 10 years is a massive milestone to celebrate and you and your little crew have brought so much joy and highlighted so many wonderful books throughout. And you’re right – your photographs have contributed hugely to Alphabet Soup’s identity – I’m so sorry about the PB debacle 😦

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    1. Thanks, Marjorie. So glad we connected via Paper Tigers, and happy that you’re still blogging on MWD. The PB debacle is indeed infuriating and unfortunate, but all part of the learning curve. Blogging is an interesting medium that keeps changing. There are so many new photo storage options now (free to use) that weren’t around back in PB’s heyday. This is likely a sign that I needed to move on before now.

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  14. Jama, I was all teary while reading your writing journey and the beautiful celebration of this wonderful blog, but then got so enraged while reading about PB!! Though I briefly heard about this from you over the summer, this is really heart-wrenching. I feel this can’t be legally possible. Hope this gets resolved well. In the meantime, CONGRATULATIONS on your anniversary. So glad I got to meet you (all thanks to Alphabet Soup!!). Also, I have to let you know, since this is a special celebratory occasion, I always giggle looking at Eye Candy section!! ;D I LOVE it!

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  15. LOL. Aram, you cheered me up with your Eye Candy comment! You are indeed a kindred spirit — books, food, and now, Eye Candy! I will think of you whenever I post a new one. πŸ™‚ If you have any suggestions for future eye candies, please let me know!

    I agree that PB’s conduct can’t be legal. It’s like having a law in place for years saying that it’s okay to cross the street, and then one day, someone changes the law, to say crossing the street is not only illegal now, but anyone who has ever crossed the street in the past has also broken the law. Terrible!

    Thank you for your good wishes for Alphabet Soup. I will not let this ugly PB setback dampen my enthusiasm. πŸ™‚

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  16. Congrats on ten years, Jama! Alphabet Soup has always been a delight to read, full of fun and puns and tasty treats.

    Your images have been an important part of what makes it so special. Not just food or crafts or books or authors or artists or some cool thing that I need to buy NOW, your photos are often works of art themselves. You are a talented photo stylist. What a shame that Photo Bucket is messing with ten years of your hard work and artistry. I hope that PB has resipiscence and changes its ways.

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    1. Thanks for the vote of encouragement, Barb. If AS weren’t such an image-heavy blog, I wouldn’t be in quite this much of a pickle. Needless to say, Mr Cornelius is pretty upset because he liked his pictures best, but I’ve assured him we’ll just have to take more shots of him in the future.

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  17. I was completely despairing and then utterly outraged as I continued to read your post and learn what has been happening. But then I got to the part about your secret husband CF and I laughed, cheered up, and knew it would all turn out OK. Somehow you will make a silk purse from a Photo Bucket’s rear…I mean, ear. Sorry for all the un-fun saving, pasting, uploading, screenshotting and time wasting. Sending you light and love and hugs to Cornelius.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Colin saves the day once again. πŸ™‚ Who can feel blue when he’s around? Age and “maturity” (ahem) have taught me to keep things in perspective. This is an unexpected glitch and definitely a hassle, but not the end of the world. There will be new posts. We will press on . . . now pass the dandan noodles and cookies.

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  18. Congratulations on ten years, Jama – you are more of an asset to the kidlit (and foodie!) world than you know! So sorry to hear about Photobucket – I have an account (unpaid) and have not heard about any of this. But I suppose all you can do is the best you can do, and try to make the best and most of it. Oh, and you are NOT “haunting the margins”…you are actively helping to promote and support kids, writers, and readers everywhere! You’re front-page!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Front page! Wow, flattery will get you everywhere, Matt. I’m used to haunting the margins — after all, that’s where Colin is. πŸ™‚

      I’m surprised you hadn’t heard about PB’s change in ToS, especially since you have an account. Most users with free accounts had their pictures blocked — but then maybe you hadn’t been linking any images to your blog.

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  19. Happy Blogversary! Yes, please, can we have some more, for as long as you can manage it?

    Oh, man. Jama!! I’m so sorry. I hate Photobucket with the blazing nuclear warmth of a thousand suns. I will ask Tech Boy if he can think of something to help get the pictures off faster – this is ridiculous. I’d say “no, they can’t do that,” but companies can do some crappy stuff, I’m finding. UGH. SO much ugh. And I really do think this needs to have a constant presence in the interwebs – you are a treasure, and there are so many interviews, so many bowls of cheery alphabet soup – so many gorgeous artistic things here (additionally, so many other reasons I’m broke), and much love and joy here that it would a shame to lose it. Your blog is like the Food Network became after September 11th – a place where we could go where there were still good things. Especially now, in these dark days, we need you. And, we love you, so you could maybe just stick around for that. β™₯

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for asking Tech Boy to help. He did come up with the perfect solution — but unfortunately my blog can’t do plug-ins. Ugh. There’s always something.

      Since you obviously need someone to help you spend your money, I guess I’ll have to stick around. πŸ˜€ Cool things to buy seem to follow me wherever I go; I figure if I can get someone ELSE to buy these things, I can be happy just looking at and telling others about them.

      You were among the first to comment regularly when I first started blogging. I did think, then, that you were Scottish. This may have lasted for at least 6 months. Since then, there have been many good memories, furry bear slippers among them.

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  20. Wow, Jama, I’m late in reading, am so sorry this has happened. Although not as catastrophic, I remember when we all had to find a new RSS reader, from Google Reader to “?”. Then I realized I shouldn’t depend on much from the web, though using a web-based photo deposit is something I do, but not only it. I wish I could help you do the transfer, and know this is causing a lot of hand-wringing and just plain work! I’ve loved your posts for a long time, count on you for the yummy, the beloved and the extraordinary. And I share it to people often. Happy Tenth Anniversary, and hugs for a quick solution for you from PB because of pressure!!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Linda. I remember the panic when Google Reader stopped too. You make a good point about not depending too much on the web. Any online/cloud-based service could fail, disappear or prove undependable at crucial moments. I don’t know that any online photo storage service wouldn’t be susceptible to the same fate as PB. Things change rapidly, competition is fierce, and the almighty dollar clouds people’s judgment. Who can keep up with it all?

      Appreciate your good wishes, your ongoing presence here, and your constant kindness. πŸ™‚

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  21. Oh Jama, I’m soooo sorry you have to go through this. It is so unfair!!!! I love your posts. I love your writing and the care and thought you put into each and every one. I’m glad you are able to save some of your favorites. It is terribly sad. But I also want to say, congratulations at making the ten year point! Wow. You’ve given so much to the kidlit community during the past decade. Hugs to you and good luck with all of this!!!

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    1. If any good can come out of this experience, it’s that I’ve been able to revisit the old posts and they bring back great memories of email exchanges, interviewing people, sharing their personal pics, reviewing their books, or sometimes making their recipes. I always think of you as Soup Day Melissa and think I should make your veggie soup again this Fall. I remember the video of you and Jamie making it — he was so little then! And of course, who can forget the joint Hush Little Monster interview with Denis, and your Graveyard Cups. Great Halloween costumes! Does Jamie still go trick or treating? πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the Congrats. I love hearing about your new books. Hope your right arm is doing much better. What a huge challenge it must have been to back off work for awhile.

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      1. What a positive attitude. You’re amazing.
        Thanks so much, Jama! I’m so happy you like the soup. I hope you like the pizza one as well. Thanks for asking about my arm. It comes and goes but it’s much much better! And yes, Jamie still goes trick or treating but alone with his friends now. πŸ˜€!

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Jama, first of all, congratulations on ten years of a beautiful, inspiring, enchanting blog, and one of my favorite places on the internet! As for PhotoBucket, shame on them! That’s really awful. Good for your for trying to retrieve and save your property.

    And although I think your secret husband’s pride in your work might prejudice him a bit, you should send him to have a little chat with the company. He’s been known to put a cad or two in his place.

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    1. Great idea, Karen! Maybe he can go as Harry Hart, a la Kingsman, and do some of his stunts. Those PB people definitely need a good wake-up call to get those dollar signs to stop spinning in their eyeball sockets.

      Has Atticus made any bread recently? πŸ™‚ It’s been wonderful to know your shockingly clever self all these years.

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  23. Happy blog birthday! I am glad you found a place and audience for your voice that inspires as it shares so many good things. And I am so sorry about the PhotoBucket changes. Shame on them. That is a shameful decision and I can’t imagine it working out well for them. Unfortunately, it won’t work out well for you or its other members, either.

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    1. It’s ironic that their rationale for changing their policy was to make more money, but they’ve done just the opposite by driving everyone away. You can’t treat customers like that and expect to thrive. In one article I read, the CEO admitted they were “surprised” at all the backlash. What planet are they living on?

      Thanks for the birthday wishes, Kay. Looking forward to reading your PF posts now that I’m back from blog break.

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  24. Happy 10th Anniversary, Jama! You have delighted so many with your 1800+ posts and 20,000+ images! I’m in love with your blog and make it a point to view every post because coming here brightens my day.
    I’m so mad at PhotoBucket on your behalf and the others who trusted them with their beloved images! It’s not right at all! But it seems they don’t care!

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    1. Yes, they don’t care. They’ve wrecked a lot of blogs and forums and I feel sorry for the sellers who lost money because of blocked images.

      I love reading your Great-aunt and nephew series. Visiting your blog always makes me happy and your books make me laugh. Are you the funniest of the sisters? πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know if I can claim “funniest.” My older sister and I think a lot alike and sometimes have the same comeback at the same time! My two younger ones are pretty funny, too. And my mom was hilarious in her day, but she has dementia now. Even in her dementia she still catches a joke or two and has a good laugh. So “funny” runs in the family πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Happy Tenth, Jama! You have such a wonderful children’s literature blog–and have most certainly committed yourself to making it a great place to visit. I appreciate how much time and effort that goes into all of your postings. I am sorry to hear about your problems with PB.

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    1. Thanks, Elaine. It’s been nice reminiscing about the good old days — when there were fewer blogs to keep track of, no FB or Twitter, and people had more time to leisurely read and comment. I so enjoyed following Blue Rose Girls, and learned so much at Wild Rose Reader. Glad you are back and I look forward to your next book. πŸ™‚

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  26. Big hugs to you and Cornelius! One precious experience in my own writing journey was the alphabet soup you made when my first book was published! I know you have thrilled so many writers by celebrating their work that way. And you have brought joy to so many of us readers with this cozy corner you’ve created here, full of good food and good visual art and good words.

    I recently left LJ for good when they instituted a terrible new TOS, despite having stuck it out for years there.

    the only constant online is change.

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    1. Yes, I finally deleted my LJ too. No Russian servers for me! I miss the old LJ neighborhood, but as you said, the only constant online is change.

      I haven’t made as many alphabet soups recently because, believe it or not, it’s hard to find the right alphabet pasta. I’ve gone through several brands that eventually went out of business. The only pasta available now won’t work — either the letters are too small, or the pieces are too fragile to handle (even if I slightly undercook them). I did enjoy celebrating first books that way, and you are so nice to mention the memory of yours. πŸ™‚

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  27. Happy 10th anniversary, and YES we want more! So sorry about your problems with PB, that is unbelievable.

    I loved your beautiful words that ring very true:
    You don’t have to take center stage all the time and shout everything from the rooftops.
    You only have to find the courage to embrace who you are and tell it true in your own words. You only have to have the desire to communicate, to gently tap someone on the shoulder and whisper, β€œHey, look at this . . .”

    Thanks for creating a cheerful place to read about and see happy, yummy things (and for being a person who generously shares her secret husband with others)! πŸ™‚

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    1. Dear Lynn, are you asking me to share my secret husband with you too? Oh, alright — since I like you and you’ve said such kind things in your comment. πŸ˜€

      I do love hearing the story of how you and Debbi met and became BFFs. It was fate! Have fun at the booksigning this weekend, and thanks for visiting this little blog.

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  28. Oh, oh, oh!

    So, the good – congrats on your TENTH anniversary of blogging! That’s quite an achievement! Your blog has always been one of my favourites to visit – it always feels like there’s a real person behind the words, with a real heart.

    And now the bad – how dare PB be such heartless moneygrubbers?!? How terrible, what an awful way to treat loyal customers, it’s just terrible!

    But your loyal readers will continue to love your words no matter what images accompany them (though we love the love and work you always put into them!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, heartless moneygrubbers one and all! For less money than they’re asking, I could get a business account here with unlimited storage and other good benefits. I would really like to know how they came up with the $400 rate, and actually expected people to go along with it.

      Thanks for all the kind words — I enjoy visiting your blog too!

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  29. Oh, MY! To imagine Alphabet Soup with no images is like…oh, I can’t bear to even create a simile! It’s just so…WRONG of them. So…current-political-climate of them. So…big-bully of them! You and your blog have been beacons of all that’s good and right and beautiful in the world, and you get this?!?! WRONG, just wrong.

    But you are like the hummingbird who works to put out the fire one drop at a time, doing everything she can…and still being remarkably cheery in spite of it all. (Although I do imagine that you have had your tears and yelling and perhaps even language unsuitable for the blog.)

    10 years is a mighty feat of blogging. Franki and I shake our heads every anniversary when we think back on where we started and everything that’s changed in the world since then. We’ve been blogging longer than our current 5th graders have been alive. Long enough that blogging is a measurable fraction of our lives. I’m so glad that our blogs have been crossing paths all that time. Here’s to 10 more years! (WITH FREE IMAGES!!!!!…sorry, that just slipped out…)

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    1. Thanks so much. These words of praise coming from a blogging veteran mean a lot, ML. Yes, you and Franki were one of the originals and you’re still going strong. It’s amazing how fast time flies — I kept thinking I’d only blog a year or two, and then it became three or four, now, suddenly, it’s ten. And in many ways, I feel like I’m just beginning to get the hang of it.

      Since FB and Twitter came on the scene, many abandoned their blogs and many think blogging is now passΓ©. FB and Twitter have their places and specific usefulness, but for me there’s no substitute for the blog — because you are forced to slow down a little to read and think about something presented to you in a longer form. Things in our world feel too fast, too rushed, and too compressed into short blips, destroying attention spans for people of all ages.

      I’m also glad our paths crossed online and we continue to visit each other this way. Hooray for A Year of Reading! (I still want to be a student in your class.)

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  30. What a saga, Jama. You must be exhausted. But your positive attitude is wonderful. That must be why your blog is always such a joy. Congratulations on the significant milestone. May there be many more!!! (And may there be a simpler solution to the rogue photo-storage saga!! – and may it come to light soon!)

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    1. What can you do — but make the best of it? Maybe it’s a sign I need to do some serious blog housekeeping. In my re-uploading efforts, I’ve been able to trim away some of the fat, which is a good thing. It will be very “interesting” to see how the whole PB saga pans out. They’ve completely stopped posting on social media since mid July. Cowards? No one left working there?

      Thanks for the Congrats, Kat!

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  31. The news of your tenth anniversary as a blogger is fantastic. Your other news, not so much. My heart and soul ache for you.

    Maybe someone will put together a class-action lawsuit? Count all your posts and multiply by time spent with the photos in each one and multiply that by minimum wage (though you’re worth more than that) and I’ll bet it’s one hefty sum. Hang in there, Jama.

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    1. I like how your mind works, Diane. Other users have wondered the same thing about suing them. They DID have a “contract” with their customers in place that has been nullified with this change. Don’t see how that can be legal — penalizing people now for following the policy they had before.

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      1. No, I haven’t linked any photos – whatever I’ve used I’ve downloaded. Still, I would’ve thought I’d have received some sort of notice. Regardless, I hope things turn out ok for you…I know how much work it is to copy, paste, upload, re-insert, and re-caption!

        Liked by 1 person

  32. Please don’t end this blog, just because Photobucket is heartless! Not that it sounds like you will, but that you even *thought* about it makes me cling to you all the more. I can’t believe your blog has been around for 10 years already! I think I waltzed in around year 2, having read your book in 2008.

    In the meantime, I hope you’ve had a good summer (photo trauma not included) and I’m so happy to see you back again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debbie! I wouldn’t want to end the blog — the PB fiasco has made me more determined to press on despite their nastiness.

      Hope you had a nice summer!

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      1. Yes, we did – the highlight was going to Hawaii in August, several days on the Big Island and several days at Disney’s Aulani resort in Ko Olina on Oahu. We kept seeing signs for places like Wahiawa that made me think of Dumpling Soup, so you were definitely on my mind while we were there!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I didn’t realize you’d gone to Hawaii, Debbie! Glad the word “Wahiawa” caught your attention. The town looked pretty run down last time I was there. And Grandma Yang’s house looks really different, since they added a second story to the building. Sounds like you had a nice vacation. I’m glad you went to the Big Island too instead of just visiting Oahu. πŸ™‚

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  33. Jama–I am so sad and sorry to hear about the nightmare with Photobucket. It’s utterly outrageous.

    I love reading your posts–they are beautiful, heartfelt, touching and so artfully done. It has been a pleasure to get to know you through them, and I am grateful for all of your recommendations and the many recipes that you have shared. I’m glad that it has been a journey of healing for you in writing it and sharing it with us, your readers. When your posts pop up in my feed I know that I’m always going to be in for a delicious treat for the eyes, the soul, and the belly too ;).

    Thank you, Jama!! I’m sorry that you have to go through this tedium, and I wish you a very happy 10th blogiversary, and many more!! We are so lucky to have you! ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really appreciate your kindness and support, Maria. Nothing that happens with PB can negate the positive energy and encouragement I’ve received from loyal blog readers like you — no matter what, I still come out on top. Thank you!!

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  34. Jama, thank you for your beautiful blog and congratulations on its tenth birthday. Your writing is so joyful and the photos make it the Taj Mahal of blogs! I remember one photo that commanded me to bake raspberry lattice bars. When I read Alphabet Soup, my mouth waters for high tea.

    Photo Bucket ‘s treatment of its clients is despicable. I do hope you find some resolution to this problem. But it’s just like you to turn lemons into lemonade by enjoying your stroll down memory lane as you revisit posts. Sending hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joyce. Love your remark about those raspberry bars “commanding” you to bake them. My evil plan is working :D. Good to know you are a fellow tea lover too.

      The PF community in particular has been such a great joy. I started posting poems from the very beginning and have learned about so many new poets over the years. I knew very little about children’s poetry when I first started, and am now a big fan, obviously. I’ll always be a fangirl — and still marvel at writers being “real” people, instead of just names on a book cover.

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  35. Yay for your blog-aversary and the power of (your) words, Jama. I love visiting your corner of the universe. You make me smile. Except when I read about…PhotoBucket! Boo! I am sending you positive vibes as you do what you need to do to preserve your amazing body of work. Ugh.

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    1. Positive vibes much appreciated, Bridget! I do feel fortunate that my images weren’t blocked from the outset — that would have been such a huge shock. Going through old posts, I’ve found a couple of those ugly placecards, even though PB is supposedly giving paid subscribers a grace period until the end of 2018. See what I mean? You can’t trust them.

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  36. Oh, Jama, you valiant soul, taking back your property picture by picture, link by link. Congrats on 10 years, but what a thing to encounter. I worry about the storage issue, too. I only use one or two photos a post, for that reason. I never used photobucket except for uploading pix of my kids’ plays. What if WP holds us up next. Terrifying. I’m not out of storage yet on WP, but someday I will be.

    I loved reading your writing journey, and I want to tell you, I feel the same. I thought I’d write something I could read with my kids in the dentist’s office or on an airplane. Something we could talk about and share. I work very hard on it, but not to monetize. I also pay WP for no ads. I’m always trying to improve my writing, meet other like-minded authors and spend time having fun, weaving magic. Using my imagination and photography skills. It’s been such fun. The disappearance of my content or pictures would be devastating. I had no idea I would come to love blogging so much.

    I hope PB retracts its ultimatum. I hope you somehow can save everything. I love your posts, your whimsy, your photos and your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, you know I’m a big fan of your blog, constantly marveling at the gorgeous photos and poems — and all of us who follow you can feel the love and effort you put into it. There are rewards that can’t be measured in terms of $$ — as you said — improving one’s writing, networking with other writers, simply having fun, exploring new ideas and getting immediate feedback.

      Don’t think PB will change its policy; they will probably close up shop permanently, it’s just a matter of time. I only discovered the new ToS at the end of July. I feel lucky I had the entire month of August to save some images, and I’m still saving some every day. I’m streamlining some posts too, not necessarily copying every. single. pic.

      Your blog is a treasure, and I’m so glad our paths crossed via PF!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blushing here, you’ll turn my head. I’m submitting PB mss to agents. I’ve been asked to do a couple R&Rs by one agent, and fingers crossed. That is what I really want. One of my books to be in a library, with a chance to make a child feel less alone, as I experienced when I discovered libraries. Maybe you should dust off those mss. Maybe they were ahead of their time…. Anyway, I also am glad our paths crossed. XOXO

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  37. Happy 10th “blog-aversary,” Jama! You are one of my MOST FAVORITE bloggers and I hope you will “keep on keeping on”!

    I not only sympathize about PB, I also EMPATHIZE. My primary social media platform until the recent Russian ToS was LJ, and I am still on LJ because I’m a co-maintainer of several communities there and am in the midst of importing them to a different social media platform — suddenly the images I had on LJ all turned into that ugly PB “we’re holding your images for ransom” notification, and PB has done the same thing to images I had attached to my fiction writing archived on the Organization of Transformative Works site.

    PB is evil.

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    1. Oh no! That’s terrible. So sorry to hear you’re having PB woes too, Shaynie. PB is definitely evil. I do think what they’ve done is illegal — a class action suit is in order. But as my husband said, it doesn’t make much sense to sue someone who doesn’t have assets to speak of. Since PB users are spread out all over the world, it would be very difficult to get people on board. Besides, who has the money to sue?

      I finally deleted my LJ blog this summer. Having everything on Russian servers just didn’t sit well with me at all. Things change and we have to move on.

      Wish you the best migrating your forums/communities to a new social platform. Will you just delete all the ruined images?

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  38. Oh Jama, you are so much more than good enough, a perfect color, the right age, brilliant and perky! What you have done with your blog is outstanding- offering insight, education, yummy recipes, humor, charm….the list goes on….Thank you so much for all your delicious posts and in bringing the kidlit community together. Nasty Photobucket. I am so sorry for the immense trouble the have caused you, and I hope they get their just desserts. Happy Blogiversary! Here’s to another ten years! Xox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your warm, kind words, Iza. I hope PB gets their just desserts and then some. It’s disheartening that with some people running businesses, their bottom line is more important than the people who patronize their services. This brand of callous disregard is so symptomatic of the times in general. Why don’t people care anymore? In some ways I’ve gotten spoiled by the kidlit community — which is, in its way, pretty insulated. Oh the harsh realities of the outside world . . . those people need to read more children’s books to learn the lesson of the golden rule.

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  39. Oh Jama, don’t even ask “Shall we have more?” We all want more of “Jama’s Alphabet Soup!” I’ve enjoyed so many of your posts the last 9 months, and I look forward to many, many more. From Colin Firth to all your lovely bears and accompanying art, table arrangements–your posts are fun, rich, enticing, intriguing, and a wealth more, thank you for all of these!

    I’m so sorry to hear about the photo catastrophy with PB. I’m glad you are trying to preserve many of your posts, though sorry you are having to backtrack to do this.

    Wishing you a Happy 10th blogosphere Anniversary and many more blogs to come!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle. Appreciate all the kind words and support. It’s a pain to go back and re-upload images — if I do indeed have a year I could probably grab most of what I want, but of course no one knows just how much longer PB will stay in business, so I’m trying to go as fast as I can with saving stuff. I hope to retrieve at least the last five years of important posts.

      I always enjoy visiting your blog and envy your artistic skills! I guess part of my “obsession” with images is that they compensate for my inability to draw my own pictures. Mr Cornelius likes to pose for pics so at least it’s a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to creating more posts and of course keeping up with the PF gang. Happy Almost Autumn!

      Liked by 1 person

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