Debra Prinzing

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Here’s what I’m reading – a blogging “meme” (or is it a “tag”?)

November 20th, 2008

I’m the kind of person who may be vaguely aware of a trend but I don’t have a clue what it’s actually called.

Case in point: the hip blogging term “MEME.” I kept hearing about this word, but didn’t know its meaning. I thought perhaps it was an acronym (as in multi-electronic-marketing-expression – huh?).

When I moderated the “Blogging Success Stories” panel at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium in September, Dee Nash of Red Dirt Ramblings made a comment about “meme” this and “meme” that. I just smiled and nodded, as if to say: Oh, I am in the know. I really get what you’re talking about.

Except I didn’t. That’s how non-technical I am.

Then last week, my friend Lorene Edwards Forkner sent me a “tag” challenge, one that she received from another Internet girlfriend, “Flowergardengirl” (aka Anna). I received Lorene’s nudge, but I’ve been so swamped that my follow-through has been belated for seven days.

I looked up the word MEME, which I thought might apply to Lorene’s “what are you reading right now?” tag, and discovered the following:

Meme: (Noun) A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

Okay, tonight is the night. I’m down to one kid (the other kid is performing in a play and has informed me he is going to the midnight opening of teen-vampire flick “Twilight” after his show – who cares about first period choir tomorrow anyway? And husband Bruce is conveniently away at a 2-day graduate school commitment), so I can finally sit down and “play” with Lorene. She understands the delay and distractions. I know she does!

The challenge is as follows: Grab the nearest book at hand (no fair looking for something intellectual, just what’s within arm’s reach of your keyboard). Turn to page 56, go to the 5th sentence and post your results – include the 2-3 sentences that follow to provide some sort of context. Then turn around and “tag” 5 or more blogging friends to do the same.

I really hate these chain letters (virtual or tangible), but somehow the what-are-you-reading concept is way more appealing than sending recipe cards to friends from elementary school or summer camp.

Lorene calls this exercise “random snippets (that) give us a peek into ourselves.” She is spot-on right about the generalization that “writers, bloggers, and communicators are generally readers, as well.”

So, Lorene, here it goes. Luckily, the bright red jacketed book on my bedside table is pretty cool. It’s called I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do), by Mark Greenside.

Mark Greenside is a kindred spirit. We’re “related” through my writing mentor, Paula Panich. Paula and Mark have maintained a writers’ correspondence for something like 19 years.

Paula urged me to read Mark’s memoir, subtitled “Living in a Small Village in Brittany.” It was published last month by Simon & Schuster’s Free Press. He charms the viewer in a clip Paula sent me from YouTube.

Here is Page 56. Oh, wait, i must take a sip of wine before I start typing. That’s very French of moi:

The windows of the houses are curtained with lace, each house with its own design: tiny boats in the sea, fishermen, boys and girls playing on the beach, flowers, gardens, Breton people in medieval costumes. It’s as if there were a village competition and the whole village won. Except for the people on the street, it’s a still life, a memento mori, all of it watched over by midget, carved-in-granite, local, Breton saints. They’re perched in niches built above doors or windows, below roofs, into the sides of the houses, or set on lawns, waiting, watching, blessing, judging, every human thing that happens. The whole scene is so perfect it could be Hollywood.

You’ve got to buy Mark’s book and read about his adventures in France (the rest of the time, he lives in the Bay Area, a decidedly non-French lifestyle). It is a love letter to the place on Earth he most cherishes.

And I will single out five friends (friends not already tagged by Lorene) to lend their voices to this game. Isn’t it nice how everything is resolved, so very tidily, in the end?

1. A Very Good Life (Lydia Plunk) Lydia is going to have something interesting to share, I know. She values the small, intimate details of life and writes about them with honesty and love.

2. Cold Climate Gardening (Kathleen Purdy) Kathy is my blogging coach. She has a million beautiful children and acreage. I don’t know if she even has time to read for pleasure, but I’m so curious to know what book is on her bedside table.

3. Daniel Mount Gardens (Daniel Mount)  Daniel is a gardening friend from Seattle whose river runs deep. Every enchanting word he writes surprises me and makes me feel honored to have him as a friend. I am very interested to know what Mr. Mount is reading these days.

4. My 4th choice was Marty Wingate of Passports and Seed Packets. Except then I noticed Lorene already tagged her. UGH. I’m going to bed. I’ll think of someone else tomorrow morning.

5. Vintage Garden Gal (Bonnie Manion)Bonnie and her husband John are backyard vintners. They just harvested their first crop of wine grapes in San Diego Co. In addition to being garagistes (shedistas?), the Manions are huge Franco fanatics. I know they’ll love reading Mark’s memoir about living in France. And if you have time, mosey over to Bonnie’s blog, where she writes about gardening, growing edibles, and her garden antiques business, Mon Petit Chou.

Bye for now. I’m going to read page 57.





7 Responses to “Here’s what I’m reading – a blogging “meme” (or is it a “tag”?)”

  1. Cheryl in Austin Says:

    Funny I should hop to your site and see this post as I recieved the same invitation yesterday on Facebook! I got a kick out of what everyone else was reading!

  2. debra Says:

    I have to add a post-script to this entry. Just spoke with Lorene Edwards Forkner, instigator of this little game, and she told me there IS a difference between a Meme and a Tag. See what I mean? I can’t really track all these trends, even when I look up their definitions! This what-are-you-reading-on-page-56 game is a “tag,” a one-time exercise as in: Tag, You’re It.
    The garden blogging world had Memes, too, such as the monthly bloom day activity when everyone is supposed to post photos of what is currently blooming in their garden (I haven’t caught up with that phenom yet, but I’ve noticed it.) It is a Meme because it kind of collectively happens to a large group, an organic experience.
    I feel so good about clearing things up!

  3. Anna Says:

    I hardly ever do these tags—but I liked this one too. Except at the time, I was comparing lasagna recipes. I like your book much better. I have read most of the tags from Lorene and others and it made me think—I need to read more.

  4. Lorene Says:

    Thanks for playing in my sandbox, sweetie! I come from a long line of big readers and love nothing more than a stack of books yet to be discovered. Thanks for all the tips and I’m going to make a bee-line for Mark’s book – lord knows that’s as close as I’ll get to Brittany any time soon! ox

  5. Jennifer Bartley Says:

    “The garden shed’s presence in Sunni’s life inpires her many artistic endeavors, including Aunt Coco’s Cottage, a Web-based gift ad greeting-card venture she launched in 2004. Sunni created the business to market a line of beautifully packaged “message in a bottle” gifts. But she began to draw playful flower portraits while recovering from her third surgery to repair a recurring shoulder injury. “I just started drawing the flowers that I was longing to be planting out in my garden.”

    P. 56 from your wonderful book Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways. Received it in the mail. Thank you! I am inspired by the stories and ready to build my own get away studio. Fabulous!

    Loved meeting you at the Garden Writers Association symposium. And yes, absolutely practicing my dance moves for next year.


  6. Dee/reddirtramblings Says:

    Potato, po-tah-to . . . meme, tag. Although this is apparently a tag, I keep getting tagged for it, so perhaps it is a meme, LOL! I, again, laugh when you say I’m cool & hip. If only you could see me sitting in my ratty robe writing this. You are way more connected and hip than me. I’m just a little country girl from the red dirt state. 🙂 BTW, I had a high school and college love affair with France. I took so much French I thought I would die in college. Now, I only parle un peu. At least, I think that’s what I do.

    Extra, xoxo,


  7. Bonnie Manion Says:

    Wow! What fun! I’m so glad Mark’s book is out now. Yes, we confess to being huge Franco fanatics! It is incredibly interesting to share what people are reading. I am just finishing up Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden, and Mrs. Whaley Entertains…a loan from a garden friend. What can I say!

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