Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge #27: Fast Food with Elvis

Click here for Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge, Week #27

Elvis in a Burger King? What next?

I couldn’t resist taking his picture.

Elvis at Burger King, Buena, NJ   Janice Heck, photo

Elvis at Burger King, Buena, NJ

My Whopper Jr. sandwich was good, too.

The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Zigzag at the Beach

The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Zigzag

Zigzag: This week, share a photo that foregoes the straightforward in favor of the twisting and winding.

Ocen City, NJ beach Janice Heck photo

Zigzag fences at Ocean City, NJ protect the new straight-row beach grass plantings.


Ocean City beach, Janice Heck, Photo

Zigzag trench brings water from ocean to castle as the tide comes in.

Making licorice salt water taffy at Ocean City, NJ (zigzag)

Making licorice salt water taffy at Ocean City, NJ (zigzag)

Dear Readers: On Flying Deeper into the Blogosphere

Dear Readers,

From time to time, I sit back and evaluate my purpose and progress in maintaining a blog.

Three years ago, on a lark after I retired from the world of education, I started my first blog, Janice Heck: My Time to Write. I tiptoed into the blogosphere, filled with beginner’s anxiety, to test the atmosphere. I joined Kristin Lamb’s little army of baby bloggers in WANA112 (We Are Not Alone) and launched out into unknown territory.

Feeding My Blog

At first I wondered how I could maintain a blog because these word-swallowing vacuums have voracious appetites and must be fed constantly. I thought I would rapidly run out of ideas. I also wondered if I had the sustaining power to keep a blog going. After all, I have been known to start projects, and then let them drop when other interests crashed the party. (Moi? Yes, moi.)

But look! Now, almost three years later, my blog is still alive, still begging for fodder, still holding my attention, still getting regular visitors.

I call myself an “eclectic blogger.” That is, I write articles or post photographs about whatever strikes my fancy: cats, family, travel, book reviews, current events, food, recipes, senior health issues, eldercare, grammar, writing tips, writing quirks, and writing “fix-its.”

I love blog challenges and have entered a number of writing and photography challenges.

My first A to Z Challenge (to publish a post six days a week in the month of April) in 2012 helped me prove to myself that I really could blog every day. I began to see myself in a new light: as a writer and a blogger. Since then, I have joined the A to Z every year and met that same goal. In the process, I have met many amazing bloggers and photographers.  Here are my three survivor badges from those challenges.

I joined other challenges well and enjoyed posting on them: Cee’s Photo Challenges, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges, Post-A-Day Photo Challenges, and others.

Feeding my blog has been easier than I thought possible.

Stats Report

My stats look pretty good with 52,593 visits (as of 8-31-14) and almost 500 regular followers. I’m not a Jeff Bullas, a Kristin Lamb, a Bradley Will, or Matt Wolfe, but I have had fair success (i.e. regular readers) for a novice. My Time to Write has had visitors from 176 countries. Alas, Greenland is still white on this map. (Hint, hint, Greenland bloggers. I know you are there.)

Blog Viewers by Country-Janice Heck, My Time to Write

Blog Viewers by Country-Janice Heck, My Time to Write

Of course, no visitors from Iran have dropped by. No surprise there. But look at Africa. Each time I check this map, more readers from Africa have visited my blog. Amazing. English as second language (ESL, ESOL) readers pop up everywhere. I have had visitors from countries that I have never heard of until I started blogging. (Brunei Darussalam? Djibouti? Vanuatu?) Yes, Mr. Disney, “It’s a small world after all.”

Funny thing, though, the posts that I thought would be the least interesting have turned out to be the ones that people search for: grammar posts, “writing quirks,” and other topics related to writing. With the exception of one oddball post, Two Oceans Meet in Gulf of Alaska. Not., which has now had 15,279 hits, the English writing and grammar posts get the most daily visits. (For a sampling of these posts, check the end of this post.) Other posts have shorter term interest.

Decision Point

The stats on my blog dashboard indicate that my free WordPress blog is currently at 87% capacity (2667.67 MB). In other words, a decision point. Should I shell out some bucks and buy more space? Or should I morph into a dotcom? WordPress encourages me almost daily to do either of these things. Should I? Shouldn’t I?

Focus, Focus, Focus

Years ago, I went to a writer’s conference and met with an editor who gave me this advice: “You are a good writer… BUT… [always the but ! ] you need to FOCUS.”

He called me on my eclectic writing behavior, my tendency for random thinking, my propensity for great ideas, and, well, my many unfinished writing projects. How did he know?

At any rate, I see now, that he was right. And that is the issue on my current blog. It is eclectic. On the one hand, that is good because it has wider audience appeal; on the other hand, people who visit my blog looking for help with writing have to surf through all sorts of material not immediately relevant to writing.

Final Decision: New Focus, New Dotcom Blog

With T. S. Eliot’s line from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” firmly in mind, “decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse…,” I started playing with a blog (Janice Heck Writes) that has been sitting dormant on my WordPress shelf since I initiated my first blog.

Now with my first blog pool almost filled to capacity, I have decided to officially launch Janice Heck Writes as a dotcom. focusing completely on the writing process and writing craft. My goal is to help writers move to the next level in their writing abilities, whether they be wannabe writers or published writers.

As I attend writing conferences and meet and read the writing attempts of many wannabe writers, I encourage them to keep writing and writing and writing. Then when I notice the randomness of their writing, I tell them to focus. There it is. That advice given to me more than ten years ago has come spouting out of my own mouth! We become like our own editors!

Posts on my new blog will focus on helping writers develop their writing craft using this formula:

Writing graphic by Janice Heck

While natural talent and a wide background in reading help create a good writer, a strong grasp of writing craft (grammar, usage, punctuation) helps build a writer’s power. Effective writing strategies can be learned.

So this new blog Janice Heck Writes: Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Writing Craft will focus on the specific writing techniques to enhance your writing as well as quick fixes for the most common errors in writing. I will also include book reviews and writer interviews that focus on building effectiveness as a writer.

Of course, I will keep my darling kitties (a regular feature on my first blog) in my posts as often as possible because their witty remarks often bring chuckles to readers… and extra comments to my blog. But don’t worry, my dear eclectic readers, I promise to post on this ole blog as well. Since I love the writing and photography challenges and the relative freedom of topics of my first blog, I will continue to post there. Gradually, I will pull my grammar, usage, punctuation, and writing tips posts over to the new blog.

Come on over and check out my new blog: Janice Heck Writes: Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Craft.  I’d love to see you there. Leave a comment if you have time. (Launch date: September 1, 2014)

Read the first post here: What? Another Blog on Writing?   URL address: http://janiceheckwrites.com/

Your Turn

So, what do you think? Am I making the right decision? Do I have any other options?

Popular posts of the past in order of highest frequency of hits. (Alphabetical posts come from the A to Z Challenges.)

Q is for Quirky Dreams, Susie Q., and Prepositional Phrases
R is for Reflexive Pronouns Cause a Ruckus
K is for Kernel Sentences: Nouns and Verbs Control the World
D is for Direct Object or Happy Birthday
A is for Adjectives, Anteaters, Armadillos, and Aardvarks
Hyper-hyphenated Words Make Surprising Adjectives
I is for Invented Spelling of Kids and Cats
“Don’t Use Adverbs.” Book Reviewers Use Them!
Common Errors or Effective Writing?
G is for Great Gobs of Gramma’s Grammar Goodies and Goofs
And more…


Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge: Oddballs in Mykonos

Keep a camera handy anywhere you go and you will find oddball photo ops.

Oddball tree in Mykonos Janice Heck photo

Oddball tree in Mykonos


Mykonos Janice Heck photo

Determined plant growing through worn steps on Mykonos


Doorway to nowhere, Mykonos Janice Heck photo

Doorway to nowhere, Mykonos

Person who takes oddball photos in Mykonos

Person who takes oddball photos in Mykonos

WP Weekly Photo Challenge: FRAY

Sometimes it takes a bit of courage to enter the fray on the Accademia bridge in Venice. So many people, standing, talking, taking pictures, not moving…

Accademia Bridge, Venice

Accademia Bridge, Venice

Ah, here’s a break and a bit of time to check the signed padlocks of lovers proclaiming their undying and everlasting love for each other.

Addacemia Bridge, Venice Janice Heck photo

Accademia Bridge

Venice. A city of delights.

A Word A Week Photography Challenge: Arch

Click here for Suellewellyn’s A Word A Week Challenge.  This week’s challenge:  Arch

Janice Heck photo Istanbul

Istanbul, 2014





Blue Mosque through an arch, Istanbul

Blue Mosque through an arch, Istanbul

Travel Log, 2014. Venice, Italy: Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Travelog: Venice, 2014 The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection was high on my list of things to see in Venice. We arrived in this spectacular city mid-morning, checked into our hotel, and then wandered slowly but deliberately from San Marco Piazza, meandering along the calle in the general direction of the Accademia Bridge, and taking our time to view the exquisite sights on our way. I must have looked pretty silly with that grin of happiness filling my whole face as we explored the city, checking out every nook and cranny of the calle and campi we crossed. So much to see, and of course, not enough time.

Accademia Bridge over the Grand Canal, Venice

Accademia Bridge over the Grand Canal, Venice

photo, Janice Heck Accademic Bridge and padlocks of couples proclaiming their everlasting love.

Hundreds of couples proclaim their undying and everlasting love for each other by signing their names on padlocks which they lock on the railings of the bridge.

After crossing the bridge to the Dorsoduro section of Venice, we turned  left and headed to the Guggenheim Collection, zig-zagging genrally to the left on the calle until we found the museum at 701 Dorsoduro. (If you turn right at the base of the Accademia Bridge, you will find the Gallerie dell’Accademia, a museum housing Venetian art. It’s a museum well worth visiting.)

Entrance to the Guggenheim courtyard

Entrance to the Guggenheim courtyard

Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979), niece and heiress of mining magnate Solomon R. Guggenheim, collected modern art in Europe and America at the beginning of and through WWII. Her home, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, built in the 1750s on the Grand Canal, was never finished by its original owner who had intended it to be a grand four-story masterpiece. Venetians have nicknamed this structure Il Palazzo Nonfinito (the unfinished palace). Guggenheim purchased the one-story building in 1949 and used it as her home as well as a museum for her extensive modern art collection.

Exterior courtyard of the Guggenheim museum

Exterior courtyard of the Guggenheim museum

Guggenheim encouraged and supported many young modern artists (Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Vasily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, just to name a few) by collecting and displaying their artwork. She married Max Ernst, also a contemporary artist whose artwork can be seen in the gallery and courtyard at the Guggenheim.

For Your Eyes Only, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, photo by Janice Heck

Current Exhibit: For Your Eyes Only, Mannerism to Surrealism


A man sits and contemplates a piece of sculpture in the Nasher Sculpture Garden (added in 1995)

A man sits and contemplates a piece of sculpture in the Nasher Sculpture Garden (added in 1995) in the center courtyard at the Guggenheim Collection.


Max Ernst (1898-1986) Dans les rues d'Athenes

Max Ernst (1891-1976) In the Streets of Athens (Dans les rues d’Athenes) Bronze, 1960


Henry Moore Sculptue, Janice Heck, photo

Henry Moore (1898-1986) Three Standing Figures (Tre Figure in Piedi) Bronze, 1953


A Calder sculpture on the terrace of the Guggenheim Collection.

A Calder sculpture on the terrace of the Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal


A school group visits the museum

A school group visits the museum and hears about Alexander Calder’s life and art while sitting under one of his mobiles.


Philosophy on the wall at the Guggenheim

Our visit to the Guggenheim Collection was everything I expected it to be and more. To be in the galleries viewing the artwork of such well-known artists of the Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism movements was thrilling, and I definitely want to visit again.

Don’t miss this museum if you visit Venice. You only need a few hours to enjoy the gardens and the galleries. (Yes, I know, you could do some of this artwork yourself! I heard that comment at the museum. But you haven’t, have you? And you won’t, will you?)

Go and enjoy Peggy Guggenheim’s Collection. Your college arts and humanities professor will be proud of you.

Click here for a delightful video peek at the Guggenheim Collection.

For my other posts on Venice, click on the titles below.

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge #25

Odd Ball Challenge:  Week 25

Cee's Odd Ball Photo Challenge“Odd Ball Photos are those great photos that you take which really don’t seem to fit into a common category.” Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge

Here are a few odds and ends that seem to fit in the odd ball category.

T-shirt design found in Mykonos, Greece. A true LOL.

T-shirt design found in Mykonos, Greece. A true LOL.


Give me that chocolate. Janice Heck, Photo.

You heard me. Give me that chocolate. Now. Ocean City, NJ fudge shop

Liebig street. Photo, Janice Heck

Not sure I’d want to live on this street!

Please check out Cee’s featured bloggers for the Odd Ball Challenge for Week 24.


On Dragons Wings with Buttercup Tea

Through the Milk Glass

This, That and the Other Thing

#WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouettes in Venice

Travel Log: Venice, 2014 #4

I love photo challenges and try to jump in on them whenever I can. This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Silhouette, so I have combined my Travel Log with the silhouette photo challenge.

It was a dark and stormy day in Venice...

It was a dark and stormy afternoon in Venice…

Statues atop the Libreria Sansoviniana in the Piazzetta next to Piazza San Marco.

Statues atop the Libreria Sansoviniana in the Piazzetta next to Piazza San Marco.

The Lion, symbol of Venice and St. Mark, patron saint of Venice. Janice Heck

One of the many lions in Venice. This one can be seen guarding the Molo San Marco near Piazza San Marco. The lion is a common symbol in Venice and reflects its historical connection to St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice.

For more posts in Travel Log: Venice, 2014 see below.

Venice, Italy #3: San Marco Piazza, the Campanile, and a Spot of Tea

Travel Log: Venice, 2014, #3 

The off-again, on-again light rain continued through the late afternoon and early evening on our visit in late May. Although it did not dampen our plans for exploring the square, others stayed away. Even the caffés (Italian spelling) closed their outdoor venues. (See Venice, Italy #2: San Marco Piazza in the Rain for my post on Basilica San Marco.)

Campanile of San Marco’s Basilica

On the right side of Piazza San Marco, the Campanile (bell tower) rises 333-foot-tall (98.5 m). First built in 1173, the tower’s five bells each ring out different messages. The marangona rings in the morning and at night signifying the beginning and end of the work day; the nona rings at noon; and the other three ring for special situations. The mezza terza tolls the meeting times of senators while the trottiera calls the Great Council into session. The last, malefico, rings as an ominous warning to others: an execution is about to take place.

This tower is not the original Campanile. The San Marco Campanile had been restored after an earthquake (1514) and totally rebuilt (1912) after its collapse in 1902. An inside elevator will whisk you to the top to see incredible views of Venice.

Campanile, Venice Italy. Janice Heck

Caffé Florian

In the foreground of the Campanile, shops and caffés stand at ground level with the Procuratie Nuove above. This colonnaded “new” building, built in the mid-16th century, houses the offices of procurators (government agents responsible for finance, taxes, and management of government property).

On the ground floor, one of the most famous caffésCaffé Florian, opened in 1720 as Alla Venezia Trionfonte (Triumphant Venice). The rain showers closed down the caffé action for a while, but as soon as the skies cleared a bit, the waiters wiped down the tables and business started up again. Musicians  supplied entertainment for the diners, walkers, and pigeons in the square.


San Marco Piazza, Venice. Janice Heck

The rain stops all outside activity at Caffé Florian.

Take a peek at the Florian menu here.

Procuratie Vecchie

On the left of the Basilica, stands the Procuratie Vecchie, built earlier in the 16th century, which houses more government offices. On the ground level, shops and caffés carry on their lively business indoors, serving both locals and tourists alike, but somewhat less so in the rain.

Caffé Quadri, a favorite of the Austrians when they were in power in the 19th century, 1898-1804 and 1814-1866, serves guests indoors while it rains, but spreads out again outside when the rain stops. (See Venice, Italy: San Marco Piazza in the Rain for more historical detail.) (The Venetians at that time preferred the Caffé Florian on the opposite side of the square.)

Procuratie Vecchio in San Marco Piazza, Venice. Janice Heck photo.

Procuratie Vecchie in San Marco Piazza


San Marco Piazza in the Rain, Janice Heck

Procuratie Vecchie

 Now let’s stop for rest, have a spot of tea, and check out these links to articles on Caffé Florian:

Tea at Caffé Florian, Venice, Italy. Photo: Mr. Rothschildt

Tea at Caffé Florian, Venice, Italy. Photo: Mr. Rothschildt


You can read more of my travel log of Venice here:

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