Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Happy 4th Birthday red Ravine!

In Gratitude for another year of red Ravine, with much appreciation to our readers and guests. You keep the community going strong and inspire me every day with your courage, grace, and humor. red Ravine was conceived in Taos, New Mexico, born on November 3rd, 2006, and launched as an Aries, April 7th, 2007. It seems important to mark the passing of time, to reflect and remember how far we have come.

On the first anniversary in 2008, we were living dangerously. The second year, we celebrated poetry with a Postcard From Billy Collins — Kicking Off National Poetry Month. Year three explored the range of horoscopes of our readers. Here we are at the end of year four. I saw my first butterfly this afternoon signaling the birth of Spring. It held all the promise of a passionate year five. Thank you for all you have given!

-posted on red Ravine, in celebration of her 4th Birthday & Blogiversary, Thursday, April 7th, 2011

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Definition: false name
Synonyms: AKA, alias, ananym, anonym, assumed name, handle*, incognito*, nickname, nom de guerre, nom de plume, pen name, professional name, stage name, summer name
Notes: an allonym is a pen name that is borrowed, not made-up like a pseudonym
Antonyms: name

The time has come. For three years I have blogged and doodled under (and behind) the pseudonym ybonesy. When we started, the alias was for protection; we didn’t know what kind of weirdos might read the blog. (Now we know, and I’m pretty sure I can best any of ’em. Well, except for one, and she knows who she is.)

The nom de plume served me in other ways. It made me freer than I might have been early on in my writing. It’s strange sending your words out into the ether of the Internet. There were times when I thought, Well, no one gives a damn about turkeys who mate on the patio, or a snake who bathes, or my stress incontinence, but who cares? No one knows it’s me!

OK, I exaggerate. There were enough friends and family who knew it was me such that I was never truly anonymous. And I knew the kinky among you would appreciate turkey sex, wet snakes, and bed-wetting. (Going back to read that one, are you?)

But I’m ready to merge. I’m already a Gemini; having a pseudonym is like being four people. ybonesy has become me and I have become ybonesy. Time to take off the mask.

first, the facts

My name is Roma Arellano. I’m married to Jim. My daughters are not really Dee and Em, but since they’re not old enough to choose to go public, we’ll keep calling them Dee and Em. Sony the Pug, Baby the Bullsnake, Otis, and Rafael have used their real names from the beginning. They can all bite; thus, they never have worried about protection.

I work in high-tech. I love my job. I used to be a workaholic. It took almost burning out to finally figure out how to work and write in the same lifetime. My other big accomplishment is that I haven’t puked since I was 11; I’m now 48. I have emetophobia, so called because those who suffer are afraid of others emeto-ing all over us. Other than that, I’m like any other corporate writing painting wife mother blogger.

next, the hair

Why did God give us hair anyway? Didn’t he realize we’d figure out how to knit? I have the worst hair. One hairdresser used to call it Schnauzer fur. Then I’d pay him $85 to turn me into a retriever.

Long? Short? You get to decide which is better. Voting is anonymous, or you can vote using your pseudonym. I will not be crushed and depressed for two weeks if you hate my new hair. (After all, I still have my no-puke streak, and you can’t take that away from me.)

BEFORE: Looking like a raptor that just spotted a mouse in a field.

roma long hair 1

AFTER: Aw, I am so shy. Haven’t I proven myself to be shy?

lastly, the stuff

The biggest reason for taking off the mask is that I’m selling my goods and I want to claim them as my own. Part of embracing myself as a creative being is embracing my creations. So instead of ybonesy being my pseudonym, ybonesy is my muse.

And it’s the name of my new Etsy shop. If you haven’t heard about Etsy, it is “your place to buy and sell all things handmade.” You’ll need an Etsy account to buy there, but you will find great items from so many different vendors that it’s worth the trouble setting up an account.


Wallinga Design, the same graphic design company that created the red Ravine logo, also created my new logo. Professional people and fun to work with. We were aiming for something quirky, bold, emetophobic. Wow, you’re still paying attention?

ybonesy (that's me)

If you have any questions about my shop, you can ask them here. I have more items to add, and more to make. Keep checking in. I haven’t made a sale yet. I might just shave my head when I do make one.


If you want to keep calling me ybonesy or yb, that works for me. Or you can call me Roma. Or you can call me Emeto-dork. Or just dork.

QuoinMonkey, who I fondly call QM, is not taking off her mask right away. But eventually, and she doesn’t look anything like a hawk going in for the kill.

OK. All done now. This feels good.

See? I told you I was a dork.

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Can I be frank? I’m not fond of rules.

I loved the badges they handed out in Girl Scouts for doing things like embroidering (they looked so cool on your sash) but I hated embroidering. In places like Oregon, I admire how the traffic flows so well with those red-light-green-light on-ramps, but I reject the notion that I have to be told when to merge onto the freeway. (You should see me hoot and holler and sing “Oh Fair New Mexico!” when I run those on-ramp lights.)

And I absolutely cherish receiving blogging awards, but I struggle with the requirement that we link back to the person who thought up the award to begin with (who, in this case, we don’t even know) and then dole out exactly five awards to other bloggers.

So, I am going to rejoice in the fact that QuoinMonkey and I recently received The Superior Scribbler award from Sharon Lippincott (aka ritergal) over at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing—who, by the way, we’ve been following for over two years and who we enjoy immensely—but I’m not going to re-post the rules of the award nor do the linky-link thing nor bestow the award (I hate bestowing anything, unless it is a wart) to five bloggy friends.

(I sure hope this doesn’t land me in Blogger Award Jail, or worse, Blogger Award Solitary Confinement, where no awards are ever bestowed on me again, because, by golly, I’m a poor winner. Dang.)
But in the spirit of doing awards ybonesy-style with a big heap of QM thrown in, we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight fellow bloggers who scribble awfully well and photograph like the dickens and make us laugh and are just plain nice people:

  • First, Sharon-slash-ritergal is a Superior Scribbler. She wrote and published the story of her early life in New Mexico (you gotta love that!) and gave a blow-by-blow of how she did the publishing part. And at the end of almost every post, she includes a “Write Now” prompt, motivating readers to not just read her stuff but write their own.
  • Bo over at Seeded Earth has inspired us for a couple of years with her photographs, not to mention I got to meet her and Mr. Bo in person (and they are lovely people), but Bo recently redesigned her website, and man, she is rockin’. Role model, friend, fellow lover of nature, all-around wise soul.
  • Another photographer, Stevo at Asian Ramblings, wows us with the way he documents his life living as an expat in China, plus he’s a friend on Facebook, which means I get to hear what’s really going on in his head. Kidding.
  • If you’ve never visited Jules over at Thinking About…, you have missed some great book and film reviews and a most excellent chicken parmigiana recipe, which, by the way Jules, I made last week and had my family believing that I had been returned from an alien abduction with superior cooking skills. I have since shattered their dream.
  • Corina at Wasted Days and Wasted Nights is another person you must visit if you haven’t already. Her posts are often based on memoir, and what memories she has, not to mention she’s about to become a grandmother. And given that I grew up on Freddy Fender, I was hooked the moment I saw her blog title.
  • You’ll notice we’re drawn to photographers, which leads us to Robin at Life in the Bogs. Excellent photographer and finder of the perfect quote to go with the photograph (although that’s her other blog–Bountiful Healing) and on Bogs we get to share in Robin’s life and her love of nature, especially her ever-changing pond.
  • Heather, Heather, Heather. What can we say about Heather, except, my God, that is one freakin’ funny woman. And she is entering her hour, which is to say, she is the Queen of Hallo-Ween. So if you keep an eye on Anuvue Studio during the month of October, chances are you will see the transformation of her home into a full-blown folks-otta-be-paying-for-this-but-Heather-would-never-make-’em event. Oh, another stellar photographer to boot.


So these are the folks we’d like to shine a light on—today. Visit them, comment, relish, noogie, Snoopy dance, high-five. You won’t be sorry.

Oh, and we will do this again, hopefully not before too long, since there are others we’d like to point out and since ya shouldn’t need an award before it dawns on you that the blogging community you’ve been hanging with for a year, two years, some going on three years now—they’re awfully talented and pretty darned special.

Blog on!

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Hello Vietnam, colorful Vietnam, pen and ink on graph
paper, doodle © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

Hello red Raviners, lurkers, and those who stumble upon us quite by accident!

QM and I have been working hard for what feels like a long time, keeping this blog full of interesting tidbits and more, and, well, it’s time for a short vacation. 

I’m heading to Vietnam, where I hope to take photos and eat exotic fruit that I dream about. (Oh yeah, and work. In fact, mostly I’ll work.) QM’s going to putz in her garden and write and get ready for an art event at her studio.

Here’s the basic idea behind our vacation:

  1. From May 11-26, we’re allowing ourselves to be free from the pressure of posting several times a week on the blog;
  2. We’re also likely going to be absent from other blog-related stuff, like reading and commenting on friends’ blogs (although I’m going to miss you guys, and I’ll probably lurk, and what the hey, I bet you one lonely night in Saigon, I’ll even comment);
  3. If we start having withdrawals from red Ravine—itchy fingers, twitchy keyboards, cameras run amuck—we’ll do a spontaneous post or two, but we’re still technically on vacation;
  4. We will tweet now and then, QM from her garden and me from Saigon, so watch our new Twitter widget, which is down the right-hand side of the page;
  5. Mostly we’re going to relax and enjoy the hiatus from electronics.

In the mean time, consider this an Open Mic on red Ravine.

If you’re a regular reader and commenter, a part of this community, drop a line about whatever moves you. And if you’ve never commented before (maybe you worried that we were a bunch of hoity-toity writers, which surely by now you know we’re not) then venture out and let us know you’re there.

One of the things we’ll be doing while on hiatus is thinking about where we want to take red Ravine. So we’d love knowing that you’re out there and hearing what it is that floats your boat.

Thanks, and have a great 2+ weeks!

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It’s kind of cool when someone you know gets recognized for a job well done, and someone we know has done something pretty darned impressive: stevo from Asian Ramblings has become a finalist in the 2009 Bloggies!

The Bloggies are to bloggers what Addys are to advertising folk and the Emmys are to TV-biz folk. More formally known as the Weblog Awards, they’ve been around for nine years, and the winner is chosen not by an academy of blogger hoity-toities but by you and me.

So check out stevo’s beautiful photo-blog. He is an expat teacher in China, married to a Chinese woman (mrs. stevo) and he documents everyday life with unusual and often striking photographs. In this way he gives his readers a sense of what it’s like to be one among literally millions in that dynamic and fascinating country.

Then, if you’re so inclined, vote for Asian Ramblings. It would be awesome to see a truly unpretentious guy win this prestigious award.

The other reason to do it is so you can vote for blogs in the other award categories, such as “Best Kept Secret.” (I’ll tell you which one I picked if you tell me which one you picked.) There are well-written, well-designed blogs that I never knew about before today.

So if you’re at all interested in what’s considered the best in this bizarre medium of “weblogs,” check out the finalists. You won’t be disappointed. But voting closes Mon, February 2, at 10p Eastern, so don’t delay.

Oh, and just a quick logistical note on finding the categories to vote for:

  1. Click on the Bloggie 2009 link
  2. On my browser, I had to move my bottom panel slider-arrow-thingmabob over to the left to find the voting panel.
  3. You’ll see “best asian weblog” as one of the early categories. It looks like this:


Congratulations stevo!!

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Peace Be with US, a flag flies for peace during the rest of the election season, October 1, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

…don’t say anything at all.


It’s my plea to all passionate participants in our national elections.

If you can’t say something nice—about McCain, Palin, Obama, or Biden, and especially about and to their respective supporters—don’t say anything at all.

I’m tired of the bickering. The rage is wearing me down. I am a passionate person myself, and I don’t shy away from making my opinions known, but frankly, I can’t handle any more nastiness.

…you should just shut up and quit showing how stupid you are…

      -one commenter to another, on progressive The Huffington Post

…if anyone is a blathering idiot, it’s you…

      -one commenter to another, on conservative Michelle Malkin

Every morning I get up, grab a cup of coffee and scan my bookmarked websites to get the latest news on the presidential elections. I check all the usuals: AlterNet, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, msnbc.com, CNN.com, Politico, RealClearPolitics, and Washington Monthly. It soothes me to go to these sources as most have stories with a “blue-state” bent. News I can hang on to.

I don’t claim it’s a balanced approach—it’s not—but for someone like me, who can feel the anxiety rise every time I think about what might happen November 4, reading articles that confirm my world view keeps me calm. I get how venting about “the other side” can serve as a release and a way for like-minded people to bond. I find satisfaction there, too.

Well, I used to.

Even as much as I am guilty of seeking that kind of validation, I can honestly say I have finally OD’d.

I’m turned off by the meanness. Bloggers, pundits, columnists, candidates and their campaigns all set off the brawls with their claims and taunts. Then the spectators jump in. Behind the cloak of internet anonymity, they turn into hateful, rageful people. They attack. They say things I can’t imagine they’d ever say in person.

Internet rage has been around for as long as the internet has been around; who hasn’t received a flaming email at least once? But civil discourse has gone out the window, right at the time we need it most. We are losing our capacity to see one another as humans.

Right now, with tensions as high as they are, the last thing we need is to beat one another down. Right now, today, we need kindness and compassion. I need kindness and compassion.

Tonight is the vice-presidential debate. It promises to be a slugfest. Palin and Biden will be ferocious, and if they’re not, the internet and spin machines will fill in on their behalf. I, however, plan to swim against the current, and I’d like you to join me.

Before, during, and after the debate, I invite you to come here and say something nice about Palin or Biden or both. Anything. No sarcasm. No underhanded compliments. Find something you honestly feel the candidates have done well, even if it has to do with how they look. 

You’ll still get mad at the candidate you want to lose (or the one you want to win) and probably reach a point where you can’t believe what you’re seeing. I’m not asking you to be a saint. But find one nugget. See if it helps shift something inside.

I know this is silly. I know it’s more about me than it is the rest of you. But the way I see it, a lot hangs in the balance and it isn’t just who wins in November.

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Mary in Vietnam, statue at Notre-Dame Basilica in Saigon (was
said to have shed tears during my last visit in October 2005),
all photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

I remember one particular moment during a trip to Cuba in 1992. I was talking to a Cuban professor at the national university. We were all over the map—Clinton’s relaxing the embargo, Brazilian investment in Havana, the rationing of electricity that caused “lights out” in our hostel the night before and prevented us from having coffee that morning. I was midstream in a sentence when suddenly he stopped me.

“Please, woman, don’t use (familiar ‘you’ form) with me!”

I was dumbfounded. What did he mean? Had I overstepped my bounds?

We’d been talking for 30 minutes, gesturing with arms and hands, laughing, hitting it off. He wanted me to refer to him as usted? That’s what you called strangers and elders and higher-ups.

“You’re the enemy,” he went on, seeing the confusion on my face. “I wouldn’t want anyone to think you’re my friend.”

Thomas Friedman says the world is flat, and to find myself in this lovely hotel with internet hook-up, my daughters’ clear voices on the other end of the receiver, and the Democratic Convention on television, it’s easy to believe that the world is not only flat; it is teensy-weensy. It’s also easy to forget, like I did in Cuba, that there are fundamental differences not so much in the way we are as humans but in what we can and can not do.

It took me two days and some not terribly sophisticated finagling of code to access wordpress.com from Vietnam. Vietnamese government censors the internet and has used firewalls to block content “opposing the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, disturbing security, economy, social order… and undermining the nation’s fine tradition and custom.”

Bloggers are persistent and creative creatures, though, and they seem to have managed to exercise their voices in spite of the government. And thank goodness. Vietnamese bloggers have a lot to share, I imagine, just as any citizen of the world might.

I remember back in 1992, when the internet was still a baby, we talked a lot in Cuba about what would happen if people got access to the rest of the world via the web. “There will be change,” was the consensus.

What that change is exactly and how fast it happens…well, that’s yet to be fully understood.

For now, all I can say is, change is good. Here’s to change—positive change—in the U.S. (Yes, we can), in this unbelievable fast-moving Ho Chi Minh City (named after the revolutionary who once brought a different kind of freedom), in countries all over the world whose citizens are ready to join the world in speaking up about everything, from Doesn’t James Carville drive you crazy? to My anxiety is doing quite well considering to You gotta see the fruit here.

You really do gotta see the fruit here. And on that note, I think I’ll run down to the cafe to get some.

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I notice in the blog world there are those who do and those who don’t. Those who write using their real names. Post photos of themselves and their children. Tell us what cities they live in and when they’re out of town. Those who give “the internet” almost all the pieces of the puzzle.

Then there are people like me. I tell you where I’m from, who my family members are and some of what we’ve been doing. I say when I’m feeling down and why. I write about my past, and I post photos of things I see day-to-day. But I don’t divulge my name, and I don’t show you what I look like or what my kids look like.

As long as I hold some things back, I’m free to reveal others. It’s a balancing act. And it’s unique to blogs, I think, and unique to this blog, for which I am a principal “character.” If I were to write an article for a magazine, I would use my real name. Same if I were to write a book. But right now, maintaining this blog day-to-day, I’m not there.

And when it comes to my kids, I might never get there. Some children I’ve seen so many times on their parents’ blogs that if I saw the kid at a grocery store, I’d be able to say, “Hey, you’re so-and-so from xyz blog.” That’s kind of scary. I mean, who am I from Adam and how do those parents know I’m not so unstable that I might just do something harmful? (I wouldn’t. I would never harm anyone unless in self-defense, in which case, watch out!)

There’s something about the immediacy of blogs and the intimacy they seem to require to gain a following, that begs the question, Who’s reading our blogs? And how do we know all those people are just as harmless as I am? So, why take a chance?

QM and I laid out our boundaries when we launched red Ravine. We give a lot; we don’t give it all. Since then, no one has asked me to give any more than I do already; yet, I wonder about this as each week passes. I continue to test the limits.

Where all this is leading is, I want to hear from other bloggers. What about you? Where do you draw the line?

              what's in and what's out
              –What’s In and What’s Out, asters coming through the fence
              at home, Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Valley, September 2007,
              photo © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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Kendall from Splice Heretagged” us at red Ravine to share eight random things about ourselves. “Tagging” (aka a meme) is kind of like those chain letters you get via email — send this note to a dozen other people and you will get showered with joy — except without the prognostications of happiness, good fortune, or money if you follow through. It’s also a great way to learn about blogs/bloggers you didn’t know much about before.

The rules for this particular tag are: 1) Post eight random facts/habits about yourself; 2) Tag eight people who are to write their own blog entry about their eight things and post these rules; 3) Leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.

So, in no particular order, here are eight personal factoids about QuoinMonkey and me:


  1. I was in the glee club in grade school. I’m completely tone deaf.
  2. I was part of a Tri-Hi-Y in high school named the Zodiacs.
  3. In my early thirties, I went on a month long canoe trip in the Arctic on the Nahanni River in Canada. It was the first time I had ever canoed. We flew all our gear and the canoes in a small plane and landed on a sandbar in the middle of nowhere. There were five of us and I didn’t know what I was doing and felt like an outcast half the time. On the other hand, it’s one of the greatest things I ever did for my self-esteem and what an opportunity to see the rugged beauty of that part of Canada.
  4. I swore I’d learn to ride a motorcycle by the time I was 50. When I turned 49, I picked up the book, studied for my permit, and bought a purple Honda Rebel. The rest is history.
  5. I once owned a turquoise Ford Econoline van with shag carpeting. But my favorite car was my first, a ’63 red Austin-Healey Sprite convertible with a black roll bar. My step-dad helped me get the engine running (it had been stored in my uncle’s barn). My mom helped me fix up the inside. I wish I still had that car. It had a wooden dashboard with flip switches and a muffler that kept falling off in freeway traffic. I’d have to stop and wire it up with a coat hanger. It was all worth it. If I had photos, I’d post them.
  6. In high school, I was voted athlete of the year my senior year. I think Title 9 was still in the works sometime around then and Billie Jean King was on the Virginia Slims tour. We’ve come a long way, baby. But not far enough.
  7. I lived in Montana during most of my twenties. I loved it there. And have been saying I’m going to move back ever since. I never have. Turns out, I love Minnesota, too. And somehow, this place has held me.
  8. I knew I wanted to write in 8th grade. That’s when I had Mrs. Juarez, my 8th grade English teacher. I never forgot her and the literature she taught me, especially Dickens. A few weeks ago, after almost 40 years, I decided to look her up. I found her living only a few miles from where my mother lives. We met for two hours and I got to tell her how much she meant to me, and how key she was in shaping me to become a writer. She told me she never forgot me either. In fact, she said, “Did you honestly think I’d forget you?” We were kind of teary when we left each other. For a writer and a teacher, does it get any better than that?



  1. I married a man I first met at age 16 (even though we didn’t date until I was 27).
  2. I gave birth to both our daughters at home, with my husband and midwife attending. Em had the cord wrapped around her neck and was purple, but the midwife fixed that with no hitch.
  3. I have a tracheotomy scar from when I almost died of pneumonia at the age of 18 months. A female doctor from Mexico saved my life.
  4. My dad calls me “ma-di-nes.” It’s a word he made up.
  5. When I lived in Santa Fe, the land of second homes and the super rich, I joined a dart league called The Dancing Pigs just so I could meet regular folk. The only team we cared about beating was the one from Los Alamos, who all wore matching shirts with a mushroom cloud as their logo. We never beat them.
  6. My favorite job was working at Japanese bath house Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe. The owner and I dated after I quit.
  7. I’m afraid of heights, but to overcome my fear of heights I rode something called The Skycoaster at the NM State Fair. I still dislike heights.
  8. My mom played poker for 30 years with a bunch of viejitas who smoked cigarettes by the pack, drank 7-UP, and knew games like “Spit in the Ocean” and “Chicago.” I have three letters that Dad wrote 30-40 years ago pleading that she stop playing, threatening divorce, even. She wouldn’t stop, and now that Texas Hold ‘Em is so popular, Mom regularly beats the pants off anyone who invites her to a game.


OK, the bloggers we tag are:

Starting Over
mimbresman (mm, you haven’t updated your blog for about a month…)
jaggedeye (OK, Ron, this means you have to do a new post on your blog!)
Ritergal (Congratulations on the book!)
Anuevue Studio

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Ten Thousand Views

This weekend red Ravine passed the 10,000-views mark and, well, we wanted to shout out to all you readers: Thanks for clicking! We went live on April 7, and we’re having a blast.

What all this has to do with Back of the Napkin? Nothing, except I happened to doodle on one. But that’s the beauty of blogging. It’s ours to make up along the way.

We really do appreciate you if you’re out there reading this. We especially love the commenting, but lurking is fine, too. We did that for a long time ourselves before speaking up. Hope you’ll eventually speak up, too, if you haven’t already.

Here’s to 100,000 views.

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