On February 11, 2011 I mark the one-year anniversary of my blog.  That’s a year of reflecting, ruminating, remembering, rhyming, reminiscing, regretting, ranting, rooting, relishing, reveling.  You get the idea. I’ve had a  great time.  I’ve learned a lot, but even better, I’ve attained citizenship in the eclectic community known as “Blogland.” Any frustrations attendant upon churning out posts on a reasonably regular schedule have been far outweighed by the experiences enjoyed, and best of all, the friendships begun.  My thanks to my readers who suggested the move from “Blogspot” to “WordPress.”  That was a definite step in the right direction, particularly in increasing my readership.  I am not big on keeping track of numbers.  I do have a “hits counter,” but only as a gauge for myself.  I am interested in what weeks do better than others, and trying to figure out why.  It’s not the main focus of my writing; however, in my efforts to become a better writer, or even to become a writer at all, I have found the counting exercise marginally useful.  Oddly enough, low numbers haven’t bothered me, and high numbers (for me, anyway) aren’t as exciting as they are puzzling!  Oh well.  As I enter my second year of blogging, I am excited at the prospects for more learning, more friendships, more ideas, and new avenues to explore.  I might even try blazing and paving a new avenue or two.  Who knows?

In honor of this landmark, I am inviting you to participate in a contest.  The theme of the contest is “Clouds.”  An essay, story, poem, photograph, video – whatever form you wish to use – tell me and my Gentle Readers about the clouds that may (or may not) have been a part of your life over this past year..  Did they always have silver linings, or did they get in the way of  “so many things (you) would have done,” as Joni Mitchell wrote. You have free reign in this contest.  Other than the theme, there are no rules! The 3 winning submissions will receive a prize. I am offering a signed and framed print of your choice from among my original photographs.  Not all of these photos have been posted on my photos page, but some have. A gallery from which to choose your photo will be made available to the “winners.”  The top submissions will be determined by a panel of judges consisting of Ashley (Hubs),  a non-blogging friend of mine (anonymous), and myself. Please send your submissions to my e-mail address:  paulatc@hotmail.com  All entries will be published in my blog, but rather than have them get lost in the comments section, I will receive them via e-mail, and then post the entries as they come, as a part of this blog posting. You will all be notified when new submissions are received.

Recognizing that I might not get any submissions, let alone three, I am not swayed or deterred in my desire to involve as many of you as possible.  So, please, stop and think about the clouds that have been in your sky over the past year.  Were they a positive or a negative influence? Were they figurative or literal or virtual? Did they highlight your living or block light?  This inquiring mind wants to know!  The contest opens today, January 11, and closes on the anniversary day, February 11.  You have a month.  We are all mirrors that brightly reflect what we hold inside – even if our mirrors are cloudy – they reflect who we are!   So start reflecting.  Don’t hesitate – just do it!  Write!  (Right?) 

More than ever I am grateful for each of you my Gentle Readers.  Over and over again you have encouraged, amused, intrigued, and delighted.  You have offered so very much.  You have given me enough. . .