Conversation partners

Meet some fascinating people. Blackwell’s bookstore, Oxford, UK, June 2017

“The borders between reading and writing and living are fluid. I do not take time out from life to write, nor do I take time out from life to read. When I quote somebody, I’m not hiding. I’m introducing you to one of my conversation partners.” — Patrick Henry (no, not that one, this one)

When I first started this blog, I my intent was to hide behind the quotes. In fact, initially I planned to have nothing but one quote and one photo each day. My very first post here was intended to be the permanent format. But then I added a few words, and as the comments and questions began to come in, the borders I had drawn expanded. The rest is history, 1036 posts and counting, available here in neatly archived sequence for anyone who cares to explore.

For me, Henry’s quote explains why I ended up doing more than posting a quote and a photo each day. Reading and writing are so much a part of my life that I find it hard to separate them from everything else, such as posting a blog entry. And the librarian in me, the one who will never retire, loves nothing better than to introduce people to potential conversation partners. Among those whose words I’ve shared here are some of the most intriguing, inspiring and imaginative individuals you could ever hope to meet. Each has, in one way or another, helped me defeat despair. I hope they do the same for you.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    The picture and quote format is great, but we’d all be wondering who you are, and why you choose such photos and such quotes, and pair them thus ….
    Sometimes our interpretation, through our own lenses may miss the point that you saw so clearly. I’m so glad that you have guided us through your thought process. We are richer for it, and I hope that we have shared encouragement with you, when we’ve seen something similar, or even different.
    Bless you, the conversational format is better, yet. 😀 Thank you for braving self-disclosure.

    • Susan, this comment is a perfect example of how I have always received much more than what I’ve given here. Thank you for taking the time (and braving the self-disclosure) to give me food for thought and encouragement for the soul. The wonderful thing about 21st century technology is that it enables readers and writers to exchange ideas– and roles– at a volume and speed that the great authors of previous generations might envy. I appreciate your presence here, and your thoughtful observations.

      • Heba

        Good morning ^_^
        I feel like Suzypax (Susan) just said exactly all I wanted to say! Other dear followers here have added comments that I can relate to very well just like to you Julia ❤
        I love that the quote itself adds a new dimension to reading and quoting! One wise quote and one inspiring picture can go miles!
        Have a great day! Blessing ^_^

        • Heba, it is such a delight to have you here. I agree that the comments people leave are great additions to the posts, and are my favorite part. I don’t think I would have kept going with the blog if not for the comments. I also appreciate those who reach out to me individually by email, Facebook message and other connections, and I understand their need for more privacy. But I love the ongoing conversation we have here with so many people from so many different places, yet all with valuable viewpoints to share with me and all the other readers. In a world full of machines and robots, people of good will shine like stars. Hope your week is full of blessings! Thanks for joining us. ❤

  2. MaryEllen Davis

    Julia, I’ve been enjoying your blog since the earliest ones in 2012. Your beautiful photos and the inspiring words of both you and the great thinkers you have brought to our attention have indeed helped me defeat despair. Love and blessings to you this day.

    • MaryEllen, thank you so much for your encouragement and presence here. I appreciate each and every visitor here, but those of you who have been with me from the earliest weeks will always have a special place in my heart. It’s a true blessing to find there are kindred spirits all over the earth, meeting here and elsewhere to remind each other not to let the naysayers have the last word. I’m so glad you are among them!

      • MaryEllen Davis

        It has been my pleasure Julia.

        • ❤ 🙂 ❤

  3. Amy

    Quoting some of my favorite scriptures, books or movies has always made me feel a like I had something to share with others. A little bit smarter because I took the time to memorize it. A little bit closer to my favorite characters because I loved them enough to remember what they had said or done. I love quotes. I love to learn about new books and places and ideas through the eyes of another so share on my friend. Your blog readers would not have got to know you so well or your dear family if you had only shared quotes. It is in meeting you that we have learned to Defeat Despair. “The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of the ages, may be preserved by a quotation.” Isaac D’Israeli.

    • Thank you, Amy. I’m glad you like quotations too. 🙂 One thing I learned since starting this blog is that there are a lot of us who do. And with discourse (or what passes for it) getting speedier, choppier and more truncated all the time, perhaps the relatively brief quotations that come from longer works can help keep these great thinkers alive for those who are too busy to read more. I once told Ashleigh that his “Pot-Shots” (which he limited to no more than 17 words) were the forerunner of Twitter. Unfortunately, a lot of what gets tweeted is far from being as funny, pithy or thought-provoking as most of Ashleigh’s work was (and still is, for those of us who keep up with him in retirement). Maybe speed really is inversely related to quality, but that’s a different topic…as Raynard says, I digress! Thanks for being here.

    • Well said, Amy! So true.

    • Amy, that’s so true! If we didn’t have Julia’s commentary, we wouldn’t have had a personal guide to help us to defeat despair. Having that personal guide has made a huge difference, and her response to our comments is almost like having a personal coach.
      Additionally, reading others’ comments (and Julia’s responses) had been akin to having classmates, and we learn from each other, too!
      Thanks, classmate! 🙂

      • 😀

        • Ann

          I like being part of this class too! And does Ashleigh have a blog that classmates can follow?

          • Ann, Ashleigh does not blog, but he does send out old-fashioned emails to his “Brilliant Friends,” sharing his thoughts and generally keeping us updated on what is going on in his and Dorothy’s lives. With your permission I’d be glad to send your email address for him to add to his list. He doesn’t write often, but when he does, he typically has his trademakr unique observations to share.

  4. Sheila

    Julia, this day was described by the weather person as a “miserable Monday” and I was determined to prove them wrong. ☔️🌬💦💨 Although it was one of the few days since being off duty, otherwise known as retired, I was so glad to just stay inside, out of the elements. What fun! ☺️ I cooked and took a princess nap then we had movie night and watched “Murder On The Orient Express” and our day was anything but miserable. My morning started with my “Defeat Despair” which means with you! Thank you 1036 times and more smiles than I can count! Hi to Matt! Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, you have given us a great rainy-day template to defeat despair! Thanks so much for sharing your day with us. It’s like an indoor Virtual Verandah! When people tell me they don’t read the comments, I always tell them they are missing the best part of the blog. I have learned so much and been inspired, informed and encouraged by those who meet and share with us here. This blog is, for me, a perfect example of how beautiful things can come out of the saddest and most difficult circumstances. Thanks for being a founding member of such a special community. ❤

  5. Our blogs have a way of taking on a life of their own, Julia. It’s been interesting to see the evolution for all of us. Thanks for sharing what you did today. I’ll add my name to the list of readers who love quotes.

    • Thanks, Alys. Whenever I hear people saying that reading and writing are dying arts, and that “nobody” reads any more, I think of the amazing world of blogging and know their dismal take on literacy is simply not true. The interactivity of blogging has taken reading to a whole other level where people step off of the page, as it were, and into our lives. We who form face-to-face friendships are living proof, as are so many others. I think those of us who love quotations have a lot of other things in common. Through the quotations, people long dead or separated from us by other boundaries and obstacles can join us here and share their intellectual wealth.

      • All beautifully said, Julia. I wholeheartedly agree.

        • Thank you, Alys. ❤

  6. Harry Sims

    Good morning friend.

    • Hi Harry, it’s afternoon now so I will wish you good afternoon. 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful day and week (and month and year etc., but “one day at a time”).

      • Harry Sims

        Thank you my dear–ODAT.

  7. Julia,
    What makes a quote notable is all that is written that surrounds it. It gives the true measure of the person. By quote alone I would not have been so blessed by a new friend.

  8. I love quotes too and think often about using more of them. I am so glad you expanded your blog so we had a chance to get better acquainted. You draw people in with your warmth and sincerity. We would have missed all those wonderful bits of wisdom you share to keep us going when life lets us down a little. Thank you for being here.

    • Thank you, Marlene. I have so enjoyed getting to know you and I still think of you as my “twin separated at birth.” I am hopeful that one of these days Alys can bring me up to see you. Til then, just know that you brighten up my world every time I see you here. Giant grateful hugs!

  9. Sheila

    Good Sunday morning, Julia and Matt! ☀️ We’ll be sharing another Verandah in a few days, trying not to peek! It’s just a glorious day here and I’m hoping the same is true there. I’ll share a little “Walter funny” with you. 🐥 Stephanie came over on Friday evening to watch a pro Basketball game with us. We were enjoying old fashioned popcorn (thanks to Bill) and an adult beverage and there was an occasional cheer or clapping. Walter decided to join in the fun, although he’d been asleep! Every exclamation from us brought a bell-ringing from him. 🐤🛎 Never a dull moment at 428! 😘

    • Sheila, I love the idea of Walter ringing that bell. Who knew he was a sports fan? 😀

  10. LB

    Julia, I enjoyed hearing about your initial vision for your blog. Thankfully, you expanded your original format … I do love the quotes and images, but your writings are great, too!

    • Thank you, LB. I’m so happy you are here! I appreciate your friendship and your encouragement.

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