Where Does One Go After Z?

In April, I participated in my first A to Z blog challenge. I wrote 26 posts based on the letters of the alphabet, blogging every day but Sunday. The organizers have asked us to reflect on the experience. It was good, it was exhausting, and it took time away from my other writing, but I’m glad I did it.
Having an assignment and knowing somebody will read it gives great comfort to this old newspaper reporter who spent years cranking out stories on deadline with little question about what to write next, only worries about getting to the end of the list. Of course, with the blog challenge, I could quit any time. It was tempting. April, like every month so far this year, was fraught with challenges, including plumbing issues, the Easter music marathon, and being sicker than I’ve been in years. But I didn’t quit. Most of the time, I had written two or three posts in advance and just had to post them, but even when I got to Z with nothing written and was miserably sick, I got up and blogged.
Having to write something that fit the letter of the day sent me in directions I would not have thought of on my own. Weed whacker? Dog ears? Milk-Bones? It led me to what I think is some good writing. The challenge also brought me some new online friends. We are now following each other’s blogs and cheering each other on.
It was fascinating to see how other bloggers used the same letters. So many great ideas. One blogged about cheeses, a different kind for every letter. Another blogged about movies. Yet another wrote a short story every day. Some posted pictures, others travelogues. The challenge is over now, but I urge you to do some blog-hopping from the A to Z site and see how many ways those 26 letters can be used.
If you look to the right side of the screen, you’ll see links to my A to Z posts here at Unleashed in Oregon. On Wednesdays, I posted at Childless by Marriage and on Fridays, I took my traveling blog show to Writer Aid. If you missed any posts, they will remain archived indefinitely. And if you’re a writer looking for inspiration, try going through the alphabet.
Have fun. Annie and I are going to take a nap.

Q is for . . . Question

I have a question. Why do we need the letter Q?

Q is quirky, which is a polite way of saying it’s crazy and doesn’t make any sense. Look at it. It’s an O with a tail. It can’t travel alone, always has to have a “U” after it. And it makes the same sound as a K or a hard C, so it’s redundant. You have to look hard to find Q in the dictionary between P and R. It doesn’t even take up a whole page in the white pages of my phone book, and it isn’t there at all in the yellow pages. P goes straight to R.

We could say Q is “quaint,” which might be a snarky way of saying it’s old and out of date, like my Windows XP computer which was being stripped and its contents loaded into a new computer as I wrote this on my laptop. Querulous is how I feel about that. But the dying of my old computer left me in a quandary and forced me to go to Staples for a new one.

Q is quizzical, meaning it makes us raise our eyebrows and say, “Huh?”

Q sits way off on the upper left edge of my QWERTY keyboard because everybody knows you don’t need it very much, unlike D or I, which are right under my fingers. 

Q makes a body want to quit this alphabet challenge because what can I write about Q? I did come up with some words: quail, beautiful birds which I have seen wandering around my woods; quilting, which a lot of Oregon coast ladies are crazy about; quiet, which it is up here in my trees when the ocean isn’t smacking the sand in a hissy fit; quill like folks used to write with and dogs sometimes run into trouble with when they get friendly with porcupines; quote, which would require me to find somebody else’s words to quote; quarter, one-fourth of something or the coin I have stuck in my Wells Fargo stage coach bank that I can’t get open; and query, which is a pitch letter I could write about in my Writer Aid blog, but this isn’t Writer Aid day (Fridays). I keep coming back to my question:

What’s up with the letter Q?

Answers greatly appreciated.

I’m participating in this month’s A to Z blogging challenge, and Q is for Question. My alphabetical posts are distributed among my various blogs. Here is the schedule:
A Newsletter–A is for Annie
B Childless by Marriage–B is for Baby
C Unleashed in Oregon–C is for Crate
D Writer Aid–D is for Deadline
E Unleashed in Oregon–E is for Ear
F Unleashed in Oregon–F is for Fur
G Unleashed in Oregon–G is for Gunk
H Childless by Marriage–H is for Harley
I Unleashed in Oregon–I is for I-5
J Writer Aid–J is for Job
K Unleashed in Oregon–Key is for Keys
L Unleashed in Oregon–L is for Lick
M Unleashed in Oregon–M is for Milk-Bone
N Childless by Marriage–N is for No, I Don’t Know Any Children’s Songs
O Unleashed in Oregon–O is for Oregon Everything
P Writer Aid–P is for prompts
Q Unleashed in Oregon
R Unleashed in Oregon
S Unleashed in Oregon
T Childless by Marriage
U Unleashed in Oregon
V Writer Aid
W Unleashed in Oregon
X Unleashed in Oregon
Y Unleashed in Oregon
Z Childless by Marriage

More than 2000 other bloggers have signed up for the challenge. For more information, visit a-to-zchallenge.com You might find some great new blogs to follow. I know I will. Come back Monday to find out what R stands for.

E is for …. Ear!

As you might guess from the photo, this post in our alphabetical journey from A to Z is about my dog Annie’s ears. Big, aren’t they? Also prone to infection in this damp climate. But those ears can really hear. Even when she appears to be sleeping while I’m cooking dinner, her ears are cocked, ready for the least sign that there’s something for her to eat. If she hears me gasp and say, “Oh no!” it means I dropped something. Annie to the rescue, hoping it’s meat or cheese and not carrots or cauliflower. She’ll nibble at those and leave the remnants all over the carpet, but a little chicken or cheddar instantly disappears.

As I age and my ears age with me, I appreciate how well Annie can hear. She can be sound asleep in my lap, but if a dog barks a  half mile away, she’s up and out the door to bark back. Often on our walks, she’ll stop and look and I’ll say, “There’s nothing there.” But a minute later, I’ll see a car or some other people walking or a dog. A few times we’ve seen deer or horses, and once, without Annie, I saw a bear, but I have learned that if the dog suddenly freezes or tugs me in the opposite direction, there’s something there. After all, dogs can detect a much wider range of sound than humans. Their ears have 18 different muscles and move in far more directions than ours can. They are able to hear sounds up to four times as far away.

As I mentioned, Annie’s ears are prone to infections. Apparently it’s a common thing with Labs and other dogs with flop-over ears. We have made several trips to the vet to have the ears swabbed out and medicine poured in while three people struggle to hold the dog. I have finally learned how to wash her ears and watch them for signs of infection. If they start looking red and raw, I start putting medicine in. If I do it just before her walk, Annie will almost stand still for her treatment. Sometimes when her ears are red, it has nothing to do with infection. Did you know dogs’ ears turn red when they get excited? It’s like blushing, I guess.

E could stand for elephants or excitement or elevators, but this time, E stands for ears.

A Newsletter–A is for Annie
B Childless by Marriage–B is for Baby
C Unleashed in Oregon–C is for Crate
D Writer Aid–D is for Deadline
E Unleashed in Oregon
F Unleashed in Oregon
G Unleashed in Oregon
H Childless by Marriage
I Unleashed in Oregon
J Writer Aid
K Unleashed in Oregon
L Unleashed in Oregon
M Unleashed in Oregon
N Childless by Marriage
O Unleashed in Oregon
P Writer Aid
Q Unleashed in Oregon
R Unleashed in Oregon
S Unleashed in Oregon
T Childless by Marriage
U Unleashed in Oregon
W Writer Aid
X Unleashed in Oregon
Y Unleashed in Oregon
Z Unleashed in Oregon

More than 1300 other bloggers have signed up for the challenge. Check out the list at kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/p/under-construction.html. You might find some great new blogs to follow. I know I will. Come back to Unleashed in Oregon on Monday to find out what F stands for.

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