Happy Birthday to Us!

Old Oak Road, where I grew up

Old Oak Road, where I grew up

Yes, we have reached the one-year mark: the first anniversary of the launching of this blog! It’s been a year of listening to Fred talk — heartfelt thanks to those of you who are still here!

I suppose this is a good time to look back, reflect, and ask for your help in shaping the things to come. What have been your favorite kinds and elements of postings? What have you tolerated — what have you actively disliked? I’d greatly value all opinions. The blog has thus far consisted of:

reflections on the writing life

games and discussion starters



personal updates

What would you like to see more/less of? Are there suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered?


Ice Storm, 2006

Ice Storm, 2006

Today in Writing:

I’m writing again, which feels very good after an unproductive stretch. 926 words yesterday, 1,486 today — not quite up to NaNoWriMo speed yet, but getting there! I think this is going to be a novelette for a teen/adult audience: I thought it was going to be a new story targeted at Cricket, but the story keeps wanting more depth, length, and complexity.

Two friends and I named our road by: 1. thinking up the name, 2. circulating a petition, and 3. taking it to the city council.

Two friends and I named our road by: 1. thinking up the name, 2. circulating a petition, and 3. taking it to the city council.

Since we’re having a birthday party here, I’m going to dissolve into levity again, as we all don our conical party hats, throw confetti around, eat too much cake (Hey, look, you guys! — A blog-shaped cake!), and dodge one another’s party horns (what do you call those things that you blow into and they shoot out like frogs’ tongues?). Awhile back, someone forwarded me one of those cyber-amusements in which there were a bunch of clever answers to the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The answers, as I recall, were mostly political . . . such as “‘It was all about change.’ — President Obama” and “‘What do you mean by ‘cross’? What do you mean by ‘road’? — President Clinton.”

I started thinking of possible answers from more literary figures and even fictional characters, and what follows are — to the best of my knowledge — my original shenanigans. This is definitely a call for reader participation. Entertain us all with your own answers! But I warn you, it’s like eating potato chips: once you start, you’ll be coming up with these all day, so you’d better go get a little notepad right now and stick it into your pocket.

So: Why did the chicken cross the road?

“Because the road was there.” — Sir Edmund Hillary

“Because the road crossed him first. It wasn’t personal, it was business.” — Michael Corleone

“Let us first eliminate the reasons the chicken did not cross the road, and I believe our answer will present itself.” — Sherlock Holmes

“Don’t ask that question. You’re too close. I’m telling you, back off.” — The Smoking Man from The X Files

“Sorry, no spoilers. You’ll have to wait and see.” — J.K. Rowling

“Probably for the same reasons I do. Someday I will meet this chicken in the field.” — Alexander the Great

“Well, if the chicken wanted to, that’s . . . okay. If we start pointing fingers at the chicken, that’s three fingers pointing back at us, and a thumb pointing . . . up at God, I guess. Or something.” — Stuart Smalley

“Ambhthmgybm  anmh bhyxlhmnb! Heh, heh!” — David Bowie

“Why? Why?! Why . . . wouldachicken . . . crossaroad?! Spock — Bones — I want ANSWERS!” — Captain James T. Kirk

“That’s no chicken. If you’ll take a look through the glasses, you’ll see it is, in fact, a gray-throated warbler finch.” — John James Audubon

Okay, have fun! Thanks for coming. I’m going back for more cake. . . .


Tags: ,

20 Responses to “Happy Birthday to Us!”

  1. Daylily Says:

    Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear Blaw-og! Happy birthday to you! And many more! (Sung with great expression) Congratulations on your first birthday, huzzah, huzzah, and I look forward to another year of poetry, games, pictures, thought-provoking essays, reminiscences, etc.

  2. fsdthreshold Says:

    Thanks, Daylily!

  3. Preacher Says:

    Happy Birthday! Great blog! I always enjoy the pictures of where you live, work and play. And writing about writing is always good. Perhaps an excerpt from a work-in-progress once in a while would be cool too. And this is not original with me, but it always cracks me up: Why did the chicken cross the road? Ernest Hemingway–“The chicken crossed the road to die…in the rain.” Have fun!

  4. Eunice Says:

    My church: “We need to call a special council meeting to answer this important question of why the chicken crossed the road and see if we can come up with a consensus.”
    “Our meeting hasn’t come up with any answers. Let’s send out a questionnaire to the congregation.”
    “Not too many people have filled out the questionnaire, and we don’t seem to have a definitive answer. Let’s call a congregational meeting.”
    “We don’t seem to reaching a consensus in this congregational meeting. Let’s break into small groups.”
    “Our small groups don’t seem to be able to come up with an answer. Let’s ask the pastor and deacons to work on this problem and submit a report to council.”
    “We have issues with this report. Let’s have a special council meeting to answer this important question of why the chicken crossed the road and see if we can come up with a consensus.”
    (Repeat ad infinitum)
    Okay, it’s not literary . . . but it’s my reality right now!

  5. Catherine Says:

    Happy birthday, blog! And I love the discussion starters and writer’s reflections and personal updates best, personally.

    It’s not very literary, but I learned to read on the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes”. So, I thought of the following exchange–

    Calvin: Why did the chicken cross the road?
    Calvin’s Dad: Because crossing the road was good for it; it builds character.

  6. Catherine Says:

    Oh, P.S.–having just finished _For Whom the Bell Tolls_, I really got a kick out of the Ernest Hemingway one!

  7. fsdthreshold Says:

    Heh, heh! Those are some hilarious answers to why the chicken crossed the road! Catherine–I used to read Calvin & Hobbes voraciously, too! I knew a guy here in Japan who looked EXACTLY like Calvin’s dad!

  8. Chris Says:

    Why did the chicken cross the road?

    “May one inquire where the chicken spent the night?”
    “In a ditch!”
    “A ditch?”
    “Must we wait for the chicken on this side of the road? In this ditch?”
    “I hear nothing.”
    “I thought it was he”
    “The chicken, crossing the road!”
    (Enter chicken who is driven by Pozzo by means of a rope around his neck)

    -Samuel Becket

  9. mileposter Says:

    A whole year! Wonder what my blog will feel like when it reaches that ripe old age? 🙂 But congratulations! Best blog I know about!

    Eunice, your church sounds just like one that I left not too long ago, and the people who are still there tell me nothing has changed….

    Catherine, I love “Calvin and Hobbes,” too, and have two whole books of it, besides a huge stack that my mom cut out of newspapers for me.

    Why did the chicken cross the road? Well, this one isn’t original, but maybe you will still enjoy it:
    “You mean I missed one?”
    -Colonel Sanders

  10. Shieldmaiden Says:

    My favorite posts have been the personal ones. I loved the one about reading in the summertime and everyone thinking Fred was nuts because he liked to be hot. My favorite comment was about someone who would read The Hobbit on vacation and try to leave Bilbo in a good place when it was time to go, having once suffered the guilt of leaving him up a tree with goblins and wargs below.

    I didn’t find this blog until September, and started reading the August posts, I don’t think there were any September ones written. I loved so many of them and I kept reading along. At first I only read Fred’s posts, but when I found the A-Z game and read the comments (some months later) I became as hooked on what everyone was saying, as I was on the topic. So, very slowly (I think I finished by Christmas) I went back through and began to read the blog from the beginning with all the comments. I have to say I laughed so hard a few times that I thought I would cough up a lung.

    Even though I am not a writer, I think “the writing life” is kind of about really seeing life, and noticing the things that can be missed. So writer or not, reading the reflections of all you who are writers, has been fascinating. So I guess I just like it all! The very favorite ones are about nature; like “Light and the Writer” and personal stories and updates; like “Summer Nights and Reading Spaces”, “Enchanted Night”, “The Light in August” and “A Green and Ancient Light”. And of course, any and all news on The Star Shard!

    For sure the photos are one of my very favorite parts of this blog! I am always thrilled when I open the page and see that there are gorgeous pictures on the post! The sunsets, the pix from childhood, and the nature shots are always wonderful! I’ve loved seeing the spaces used for writing and being inspired to write, then hearing how the stories came together. The Cherry blossoms (of the favorite place, and I can see why) at Toyano Lagoon simply blew me away! I actually meant to leave a comment on that one, but obviously it never happened.

    My personal favorite photo was the first blog page picture I saw, the one that went across at the top, it might even be the same Old Oak Road picture seen here (although the cherries and skeletons are great too). On the very first post and in the spirit of beginning, Fred shared with us how Bilbo Baggins famously commented on roads, and how the grandest adventures begin just beyond our front garden gate. I remember from that posting one year ago, that he promised we may be on this road for a good while… for that I am glad, may it go ever onward. And Happy Birthday!

    I’ve got nothing on why the chicken crossed the road. hmmm… “Sometimes a road is just a road.” –Sigmund Freud
    My kids do have one, and I apologize in advance. Why did the chicken cross the park? To get to the other slide. [Groan]

    PS- we call the party horns that shoot out like frogs’ tongues “blowers” but it is almost certainly just one of those words like “Groink.”

  11. fsdthreshold Says:

    Shieldmaiden, you say you’re not a writer, but your comments to this blog prove otherwise. I am extremely grateful for your participation here. I agree, the reader comments make this blog what it is. There’s a lot more in your note here that I’d like to respond to, but I’m just on my way to class — more later! (And thank you, Chris and Mileposter, too! And hey, Movies Person [whatever you’re calling yourself these days]–have you noticed how your Bilbo Up the Tree comment has been so appreciated? This is at least the second time it’s come up!)

  12. Scott Says:

    Congratulations on your first birthday! I hope there are many more to come. Please don’t forget your blog friends when you become a famous best-selling author.

    “Chickens? Dammit Jim. I’m a doctor not an ornithologist.” – Bones
    “I’m givin her all I got captain. The chicken is goin as fast as she can!” – Scotty
    “Why did the chicken cross the road? This question is most illogical.” – Spock

  13. I thank Fred, Chris and Randy Says:

    and whoever else was responsible for the name change. Wasn’t it Glendale Rd or some other lame name before Old Oak Road?
    For those of you who do not know, there is a large, uniquely shaped home on a large, forested parcel of land on the corner of Old Oak Road that a classmate of Fred and I grew up. The home actually has a name — it is known as “The Oaks” though that was not, I believe, the reason for choosing Old Oak Road.
    I, too, love seeing the shots of OOR, but mainly for the nostalgia factor. The street signs brought a sigh, as I always knew that turning left at the sign meant going to Fred’s house, and that meant fun was only moments away.
    As far as the blog, I join others in loving the photos from Japan and the A-Z games (though my impatience oft betters me) and, of course, hearing how my old friend is doing and what he is up to.
    Any Flail of Ralsoth will understand the following:

    “Chicken? Road? Are we sure it is a road? Could it be a lane, a boulevard, a parkway, an avenue or a frontage road? And are we sure we have a domestic chicken and not some other fowl?” —— Mike W.

  14. Marquee Movies Says:

    You know, Shieldmaiden, as I was reading your lovely response, I thought, “Boy, she says she’s not a writer, but she sure can write!” Then when I got to Fred’s post, I saw he said the same thing! I’m glad my story about listening to The Hobbit struck such a chord! The summer is approaching, and I will be listening to that glorious book again – and I promise to make sure Bilbo is safe every time I have to leave the cottage for a while to come back to civilization. Fred, I thought your chicken jokes were terrifically funny (as were the responses you got) – my favorite was Stuart Smalley’s – you got the tone and flavor of that wonderful character just right! That makes me think of the time I asked my therapist, “So, why did the chicken cross the road?” She replied, “Why do YOU think it crossed the road?” I have enjoyed every blog, but a favorite aspect is when you take pictures of your every day life and explain where and what it is. I’d like to see the street you live on, maybe the view from your window, your movie theatre that’s so close to your home, your favorite place to eat, etc. As Frosty the Snowman would say, “Happy Birthday!”

  15. Shieldmaiden Says:

    Thanks Marquee Movies, and I am glad to hear Bilbo is in safe hands.

    OK, so, in regards to whether a person is a writer or not, I guess what I am saying is that even though this blog is on the writing life, and many of the readers are also professional writers, you don’t have to be one to hang out. That if there are others (like me) who are not professional writers they will still find many things to love about this blog. Which was in part, the point I was going for. I can’t remember how long I read along with everyone before I left a comment (a while) and I just thought that if there were any not-writers out there, it would be nice to know that some readers are simply lovers of great writing and stories and not writers themselves. Well, and to tell everyone how much I’ve enjoyed all the great comments; I have loved reading them. So that’s all.

    And Fred thanks for your note, and thanks especially for not embarrassing me, yer a pal! Also, the reader comments do help make this blog what it is and it is part of what makes this the best blog in the world [IMHO]. But just so you know, I would still be reading your incredible blog if you had zero comments, I am just glad that’s not the case. The fact that you have such a group of amazing friends, is icing on the icing on the cake! …In this case birthday cake.


  16. Jedibabe Says:

    While I am currently to consumed by my looming thesis proposal deadline to say much, I couldn’t help but share this little gem:

    “Success consists of the chicken going across the road without loss of enthusiasm: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
    —Winston Churchill

    And now I shall return to my regularly scheduled program, but with renewed enthusiasm! Thanks to everyone for the brevity in the midst of my own insanity.

  17. fsdthreshold Says:

    I just have to say that I’m amazed at what this blog has turned into, and it’s because of all of you, dear readers. The experience has surpassed my expectations in every way. I started it because writing industry professionals kept telling me, “Writers have to have blogs. Writers have to have blogs.” I thought, “Wow, it sounds like a lot of work — like writing a newspaper column without getting paid. Plus, I’ve never been one to pontificate.”

    Well, the payment has been in hours and hours of enjoyment, in the encouragement that I have the best circle of friends in the world. In life, we may all be ships passing across a dark ocean, but thank you all for swinging your lanterns at me!

    And, Shieldmaiden, I definitely see what you’re saying — thank you for being “the Voice of Those Who Don’t Write Professionally” — I completely second that idea, that all are welcome here, writers or not! But if we’re keeping a count, very few of us are professional writers. Okay, by definition, yes, I’m a pro; I’ve been paid for my writing. (I was thrilled the first time my earnings as a writer surpassed what I made playing trombone in the municipal band — for a long time, I made more as a trombonist, and I’m a lousy trombonist!) (To quote Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado: “I knew you weren’t really a trombonist the moment I heard you play!”) Anyway, besides me, I know of two other pro fiction writers and a professional journalist/photographer who frequent this blog. (Yes, that’s you, O Hound of Correllon!) That’s four. The rest of us are just decent folks who appreciate the written word, a tale well told, the chance to breathe, and a warm fireside.

  18. Scott Says:

    Aren’t we all writers, at least in some small way. We write reports for work, letters/emails to friends and co-workers, blogs, and etc. As an accountant, I write letters all of the time to the IRS and state Departments of Revenue in order to get my clients out of tax penalties. Some of us keep journals. Maybe we don’t get paid directly for writing, but we use the writing tools that we have learned over the years to write effectively and to get our point across.

    Fred, I do have a suggestion for your blog. What we need is a reading list. You could list the published works of yourself and the other two pro fiction writers that you mentioned. Also, the bloggers could contribute lists of their favorite books. New releases are good, but don’t forget the old classics. I read “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald in high school for class. I read it again for fun a few years ago. With an adult perspective, I got a lot more out of it than I did in high school.

    By the way, Finny, you are a professional journalist/photographer now? The last that I heard you were teaching school. Or are you doing both?

  19. fsdthreshold Says:

    Scott, about the reading lists, that is an EXCELLENT idea! But everyone, hold your horses on this idea for right now. I’ve made a note of it, and I’m going to make it the main topic of a posting in the very near future. If we all start recommending books here at the bottom of a long comments column, the topic may get lost. Of the general readership, I’m not at all sure how many people read all the comments; it may be a relative few of us. That’s also a problem I’m going to try to rectify immediately.

    Marquee Movies, I also noted your excellent suggestions. I’ve got some great ideas for topics as the blog moves into its new year! Thanks to all who are sending me ideas! Keep ’em coming!

    Back to Scott: you’re quite right about how most of us use writing in some way, both in our careers and in our personal lives. Believe it or not, I was just thinking of that very thing before I turned on my computer just now and read your comment! I hope no offense was taken — by listing the “professional writers,” I wasn’t trying to be elitist! For example, one faithful reader of the blog is a pastor. As part of his vocation, he writes sermons every week. And Bible studies. . . . Isn’t he, then, in one sense a “professional writer”? And the teachers who write lesson plans. . . . And on and on. Your point is well made and well taken.

  20. I thank Fred, Chris and Randy Says:

    Master Belladoc — I left the classroom for the newsroom (actually sports desk) after the 1998 school year. I wondered if this was you posting, and your post about writing gave you away. Still in SPFLD?
    Fred — It appears you have a very steady stream of regular posters. Most keep the same name, and I enjoy reading them all. I echo the comments others have made re: Shieldmaiden.
    I (as Fred knows) am the I guy of all the comments, though it must bug him to have to moderate my comments every time I change the name.
    In honor of Scott, I might just post the next time as “I loved the Big R on Lakeshore Drive”

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