OPEN CALL, "How did you choose your Avatar?"

How did you choose your Avatar?

Where did your Avatar come from?

Some people blog using their real names and picture.  While most of us mix and match one or the other.  Some use their actual photo (as I do) but are still, at the same time, cautious enough not to publicize their true identity.  And still others use an AKA for their name and photo.

So what's the story behind your Avatar?  Is it serious, humorous or tragic? I'd like to hear how you came to pick whatever it is you use to blog under.

And for those of you who blog under your true identity and photo; what would you use if you could start over again?  I'm looking forward to reading your stories explaining how you selected the names and images which make up your Avatar.

The following is my story (some truth, mixed with a fair amount of fiction) about how I got the name “Out On A Limb.”  I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to tell your own stories as well.

This is the story of Old Man Cook and Out on a Limb.

Every neighborhood has one. He's mean, and he's dangerous.  Our neighborhood had “Old-Man Cook.”  At the time, I was six or seven, so old-man Cook could have been anywhere between forty and eighty years old.  The word old is a vague term to a six year old.  Cook was our neighborhood sour puss, mean through and through.

The details

Old-man Cook had a dog, with pointed shark like teeth jutting from a mouth that barked at anyone or thing it saw.  The dog liked no one, not even old, sour puss!  All us kids were terrified of killer because we knew he'd bite us given the chance.  In return, killer was  terrified of Cook for the exact  reason.

Richie, who was off and on my best friend, lived right next door to old-man Cook, and killer.  He had one of those above ground swimming pools, so most of the summer vacation was spent in his backyard along with the other kids. Old-man Cook was always complaining we were too loud he’d even called the police on more than one occasion.  Needless to say, any ball that went over the fence landing in “Cooks” backyard was lost forever.  Killer could rip a leather football to shreds in seconds.  Our respect for him was so deep we were sure he could do the same to a sixteen pound bowling ball.

The story

The summer of 1955 was a scorcher.  Southern California found itself in the iron clutches of a heat wave.  It was so intense it caused the tar surfaced streets to become soft and gooey under both car tires and tennis shoes.  The days were unbearable, the sticky nights even worse.  Richie and his pool were the hit of that summer.  Everyone was his friend or trying hard to be.  He reigned supreme over the daily admission list.  His mom had put a limit of five guest allowed at any one time in the backyard.  I was usually on that list, but had been bumped a few times for not jumping fast enough to his whims. Ruling over the list in a Cesar fashion, Richie would thumbs up or thumbs down kids depending on his daily temperament.  All us kids were reduced to gladiators, fighting for the privilege of splashing in the circular Colosseum of his backyard empire.

It happened on a Friday in mid August.  The mercury bubbled in the patio thermometer, having reached a new summer high that day.  I was back on the invite list after three days of banishment for not kowtowing to Cesar's will earlier in the week.  It had been three awful days in hell, my garden hose brought little relief when compared to the oasis of Richie's pool.  I and the four other lucky gladiators were invited for ten o'clock.  Not wanting to be late, and hoping for an early admission, all five of us were waiting at the backyard gate by nine-thirty.  Richie was in a foul mood, having lost an earlier argument with his mother.  Ignoring our salutations, he continued to kick a beach ball against the fence between his backyard and Old-man Cooks.

It was the first time I saw anyone suffer under the affects of heat stroke.  Pete, who was the oldest at eight and a half; yelled at Richie, “hey you little brat, let us in it's hot out here!” Richie strode over to the gate, looked Pete straight in the eye and gave him two thumbs down.  Pete fell to his knees moaning something about being sorry it was the heats fault, not his.  The rest of us backed away from Pete the leper who had fallen from grace.  Richie turned and gave the ball the kick of its life, sending it high into the thin, hot air.  We all watched in horror – with the exception of Pete, who, with bowed head was on his hands and knees begging for Cesar's absolution – as the ball drifted slowly towards Old sour pusses backyard, eventually coming to rest in his apple tree.  Richie wailed while the rest of us gasped in fear of the tantrum which was sure to follow.  We did not have to wait long.  With his back still turned to us, he announced “NO ONE” would be allowed in his pool today!  Nero played his fiddle, while we, the peasants wilted in the heat.

I was the only one at that moment to see Old-man Cook and trusty killer get into the car and drive off down the street.  Always the quick thinker of un-thought out plans, I yelled over the gate to Richie “if I get your ball back can we all come in the pool?”  Richie turned, and though I know all he said was “deal” at the time I could have sworn he also gave me a wink and a thumbs up.  Safe in the knowledge that Cook and killer were not home I climbed over the fence.  Moving quickly, I shimmied up the tree, only then realizing that the ball was resting higher than I thought, among thin branches.

As Paul Harvey would say “And know for the rest of the story!”

I then went “Out on a Limb” which was unable to support my weight.  The sound of a breaking limb accompanied my scream as I fell to the ground below.  On my back and gasping for air, I heard Cook's car pull into the driveway.  Believe it when someone tells you dogs can smell fear.  Killer could smell mine from inside the car as he barked and jumped to get out.  He was the lion, I the gladiator!  I almost wet my loincloth having seen enough gladiator flicks to know how this was going to end.

Most of what followed passed over me like a heat wave mirage.  Old-man Cook kept killer in the car, then called the police, having me charged with trespassing and destruction of private property – the broken limb.  Placed in the back seat of a black and white cruiser, I was sure Al Capone waited somewhere in a four by four cell for his new cell mate.  I was relieved when the ride ended at my place five houses further down the block.  The police never filed charges, although I did get “house arrest” from my parents.  It all seemed unfair, but I didn't complain,... fearing a night alone with “Big Al!

My house arrest lasted one week.  Richie had gotten word to me that I was on the invite list for the rest of the summer.  The heat wave broke on the day of my parole, followed by two weeks of torrential rain, ending just in time for the beginning of the school year.

To this very day I'm still known on the block as “Out on a limb.”  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Views: 244

Comment by Gayla Mills on February 26, 2013 at 7:33am

I've given a lot of thought to how to present myself here but I decided to make up a false name.  I live in a small town where people are quite nosy so I don't want to reveal my "real" identity.   I came up with the horse because the happiest time I had as a kid was while outdoors riding my spotted Welsh pony.   Being online also gives me a freedom I can't have in my home community where people are all expected to think alike.

Comment by Out-on-a-limb on February 26, 2013 at 7:38am

Steel, there's nothing wrong with the "Floyd" just stay clear of the Pink!  Thanks for reading.

Hi Gayla, Wow, the last time I "spotted" a Welsh pony the owners made me remove them all with soap.  They probably would have been up-set had they known the soap was made out of horses!  Thanks for dropping by and reading.

Comment by Arthur James on February 26, 2013 at 7:44am


Gaud. Aye, Gonna be a wild day.

My buttons don't function right.

My Son was Confused. O, well.


He use to help me 'cut' and paste.

Maybe I am just a bum imbecile.

I live ` BC - Before Computers.


I'll read more slowly. I late.

I too lame to read good reads.

Maybe after therapy I be Here.

I ask my therapist to No Quote?

Cn Chapman, You, and alsoknow?

as Who? Kerry Lauderman? Jake?


You Rita Shibr and soothe idiots.

We'd be all Lame Grump Goats.

Seriously. Blogs Entertain Great.

Comment by JMac1949 Memories on February 26, 2013 at 7:46am

This is one of the last pics of my maternal grandfather "Pop"  before he was debilitated by dementia.  I chose it because when I was a kid,  I loved spending summers on the family farm in Indiana and dementia runs in both sides of my family...  which figures prominently in JMac1949 - Memories.  We are how we are remembered.

Comment by Out-on-a-limb on February 26, 2013 at 7:53am

Arthur, keep working on those fingers.  Maybe pick up the piano, well not exactly pick it up but learn to play it!  Thanks for coming by.


1949, There's nothing but truth in your last sentence!  If you're not remembered, what's left?  Thanks for telling your story.

Comment by TG DE VORE on February 26, 2013 at 8:31am

I remember thinking that...within us, we all have so many parts, and that seemed to be the best word  to describe the here and now of being. The present. I was opening my business and knew it would be a synergy of all that woud be within it, personalities, collections, craft, talent, etc.  So Studio Within was born. I being a part of said Studio became tgwithin. The photo changes as does the content within.

Comment by TG DE VORE on February 26, 2013 at 8:32am

My tag was 'Practicing the Craft of Self Design."

Comment by Zanelle on February 26, 2013 at 8:50am

I loved that story!!!   Out on a Limb is also a good book by Shirley McLaine.   My avatar is me and my name Zanelle is from my middle name Elle and my nickname short for Suzanne.

Comment by Out-on-a-limb on February 26, 2013 at 9:27am

I'd like to thank everyone for their comments.  It's a great community, with lots of interesting stories indeed!

Comment by Anna Herrington on February 26, 2013 at 9:56am

I tend to just think a lot.....

...and the quill I went looking for online, wanting a clear and visible, simple yet strong, quill....


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