Archive for the ‘Bloggity’ Category
January 20, 2020 @ 7:16 pm | Filed under: Bloggity
I’m feeling very memory lane-ish tonight! Fifteen years of blogging—not always steadily, but persistently. Thanks to all of you who’ve hung in here with me this long. I’ve been working behind the scenes to tidy things up here and have lots and lots of plans for the coming year—things I’m eager to share—but I’d love to hear from you, too, about what you’d like more of, what you miss, what you’re curious about.
In the meantime, here’s a little blast from the past—a post from a randomly-chosen January in my archives. I landed on 2007 and discovered so many moments I’d forgotten, like this epic battle over…wait for it…dryer lint. I’m howling. The involved parties, now all grown up, are going to howl even louder when they read this.
(And don’t miss the recipe for dryer-lint clay in the comments. Clay!!)
grainy party photo of happy party faces
photo by Jenny Wills
The news that Yahoo is deleting all the old Yahoogroups archives has rattled me a bit. It’s not a surprising decision, and I had no plans to dive back into those old threads and revisit all the things we said to each other when the internet was new; but there’s no small amount of dismay in the thought that all that history will blip away forever.
I was active on the internet for ten years before I started my blog. First: AOL boards—now all gone. Then: private listservs—now mostly wiped. Then: Yahoogroups—soon to be disappeared.
For the next ten years (2005-2015ish), I archived my own thought on this blog. If I made a contribution to the Great Conversation, I brought it back here and developed it. If I had a good idea, I recorded it here. And of course there were the booknotes, the kid quips.
Even after social media altered the pattern of blog discourse (comments happening on FB threads instead of in the comment box here), I stubbornly maintained my daily chronicle for quite a long time. It was work demands that crowded it out, eventually. I took on a lot of grantwriting work and boy did that dry up the blog! Ever since, I’ve struggled to find time after paying work for my own creative practice.
I have certain hacks that work very well for me, like the stitching habit I posted about yesterday. My morning poetry reading/writing time is probably my favorite part of the day. I sketch almost every day, sloppily, often as a transition to paying work. I set Downtime limits on my phone and religiously pick up my Kindle at night—the only screen I’ll allow. When I’m obeying my own rules, you know.
So the creative work does happen. (I don’t like my terms here: all my work is creative. The distinction is between creative practice—work I do for my personal projects, things that aren’t under contract and may never be, as well as books sold on proposal, when that applies—and work that pays my bills. When I say “creative work” I mean work I do that isn’t contributing to next month’s living expenses, but which I find fulfilling in other ways. Important ways!)
The creative work happens, and I get excited and post about it on Instagram. Instagram! Which could also go poof someday, like other platforms we thought would last forever.
Yesterday I had to laugh at myself. I’d written that post about my Dropcloth sampler—wrote it in Slack and posted in on Instagram. Got annoyed with myself: it was a blog post! Why’d I give it to IG? Toyed a moment with the idea of just crossposting everything I share on IG to this blog, so I’ll have the archive at least (but how annoying for friends who follow me in both places). Thought: there’s gotta be an easy way to make that happen, an IFTTT applet or something. Opened IFTTT and remembered I’d already done it. I activated an Instagram-to-Wordpress app MONTHS ago. I set it to save the blog posts as drafts so I could go in and tweak or expand before publishing. There are dozens and dozens of drafts queued up. All those posts! That’s what made me groan and laugh at myself. What’s the point of a good idea if you forget you had it?
And now some of those drafts are old enough that anyone who saw them on IG will have forgotten them anyway…which means I have dozens of posts ready or nearly ready to share here. I’m going to try! If I forget, remind me, will you?
This post I’ve just written has nothing to do with the photos at the top. But they were the ones sitting at the front of the draft queue. So here they are, stuck in my own personal album! I went to a Halloween party with my crowd of singing friends (or singing crowd of friends?). Didn’t get a pic of my striped Pippi socks, but you’ve seen them in my witch costumes of years past. I’m always a last-minute costume assembler. We sang a lot of karaoke—that’s been one of the most amusing developments of my life in Portland: the necessity of having a couple of karaoke tunes in my pocket. (Current standbys: “The Show” by Lenka, “Stay” by Lisa Loeb, and “They Don’t Know” by Tracey Ullman. At the party on Saturday I felt brave and sang 99 Luftballons in German. An actual party trick!)
It amuses me to think of posts that have little or nothing to do with the formerly-Instagrammed photo stuck at the top. The scattershot approach may be my best bet at recording the multitude of things I’m, for whatever reason, driven to record.
I posted an explanation on Facebook today:
A wee reminder. If you are looking for my discussions of books, art, nature, pop culture, homeschooling, and joyful family life, you’ll find that at my blog and on Instagram.
Here on FB, I write (since 2016) almost exclusively about current events and policy. (Occasional book-related announcements, and sometimes quips that later make their way into a real post elsewhere. But 90% policy discussions and political commentary.)
If you prefer my rhapsodies about pine siskins and Betsy-Tacy books, they’re still happening, just not here.
It was HARD to pick just two items for rhapsody examples. 🙂 It’s a long list, my enthusiasms. Fountain pens, Pacific Northwest skies, Cybils books, Lisa Congdon, Cozyblue Stitch Club, sketchbooks, Creativebug, Scott Peterson, poetry, Ritter Sport Bars, Portland adventures, Journey North, Chronologically LOST, the northern flicker at my feeder this very moment, Holly Wren Spalding, Small Meadow Press, raisins raisins all we are is raisins, the Snoopy cast album, the Bravewriter Arrow I’m writing (Harriet the Spy this time), historical fiction, cherry cobbler…you Bonny Glen readers know better than anyone what lights me up. I could link almost every one of those off-the-top-of-my-head items to a post (or many posts) here. I won’t, because that takes too long.
(The WordPress SEO plug-in is constantly yelling about my failure to include internal links. It also berates me for writing long sentences. I laugh and ignore it. I can’t remember the last time I looked at traffic stats for this blog.)
When I was assessing my lapses here last fall, I realized I knew exactly how I wanted to use this space—the way I always have: a chronicle of my enthusiasms and the hilarious or thought-provoking things my kids say. Those are the things I want to remember, and to lavish words upon.
Two years ago, when I became compelled to do some writing about policy and advocacy, I decided Facebook was the best space for that—the place where I seem to connect most directly with the largest number of people. (I have more followers on Twitter, but I seldom tweet anymore. My FB connections are almost always people I actually know, and therefore the chances of a real discussion are higher than in the Twitter flood.)
A while back, I started compiling these little happy lists—the sorts of things I’ve been posting here in the past couple of weeks—in my notebook at first, and now spilling onto the blog. Two years in a row, I had the Flow Magazine “Tiny Pleasures” page-a-day calendar (I miss it!) and it was easy to jot down two or three or ten tiny pleasures of my own on a planner page. But I write to share, and I believe in habits. It’s a habit worth cultivating: recording those little happy lists here where we can talk about them. I mention something, and you mention something back, and next thing you know, Isabella Tree’s Wilding is on my nightstand waiting its turn…that’s what I always loved about blogging, those sparks flying back and forth.
It does feel, sometimes, like half a picture, or an indulgence. Serious and dangerous matters require our urgent attention. I’m doing my best to further discourse (especially around practical policy solutions) and spur compassionate action. I’m…just not doing it here. My kids love to tease me about my passion for containerizing. Show me a jumble and I’ll give you a nice basket. When things heated up after the 2016 election, I realized I needed online containers, too, in order to maintain balance and composure. In order to do the work, but not be consumed by it. In order to keep noticing and celebrating the many riches all around me—those pine siskins, this beautiful book. The way Scott keeps me supplied with specially extra-caffeinated cocoa so I can get up before dawn to write. The way the sunrise begins with deep blue, not the pink or gold you expect. The delight of seeing Bean and Rose walk down the street to have lunch at a favorite café. The broad expanse of crocuses that will bloom in Wilshire Park only a few weeks from now.
The happy jolt I get—still, a year and a half after the move—every time I see Klickitat Street on a sign.
So. Little happy lists here, and serious policy discourse there, and occasional light snark on Twitter, and whatever it is I do on Instagram. (It’s seasonal, I guess? My Stories tend to be a mix of day-in-the-life homeschooling glimpses and Portland adventuring. My grid is 85% swooning over nature. I guess it’s like when I sweep everything off the counter into a pretty box to be sorted later. People who’ve helped me pack for a move know what I’m talking about.)
Do any of you compartmentalize your social media this way? I’d love to hear what balance looks like for you. I know some of you don’t do FB or IG at all, and with Facebook especially I see the wisdom in that.
As a postscript I’ll add that lately, my favorite thing about this blog is clicking the ‘related posts’ button at the bottom. It keeps tumbling me into moments I had no memory of, and I’m grateful for the archive.
December 3, 2018 @ 8:32 pm | Filed under: Bloggity
Guess I’ve returned just in time, because my friend Chris O’Donnell tagged me in a 31-day blogging challenge. Several of my favorite homeschooling bloggers from the olden days (circa 2005) are participating. I don’t know that I’ll be able to manage a post every day for December—that’s pressure, and I’m doing my best to give myself a break—but it’s fun to see a burst of activity on blogs I’ve been missing for ages.
I’ve been making a list of things to write about. But it’s like the scene in Overboard:
“Captain Karl, we never talk.”
“Well, there’s no time now!”
Huck is waiting for me to come tuck him in, so I won’t linger here. But one of the post ideas I jotted down was a peek at what he’s been reading lately. Some good stuff! And I need to catch up my own book log as well. My sidebar is months out of date!
How about you? Whatcha reading right now?
What brainpower I might have for blogging, I’ve been pouring into advocacy/activism on Facebook. Scott thinks I should try to archive some of that writing here, though, which is a smart thought. I might try just messily pasting it onto a page (rather than a post) and not worrying about format or anything.
Ever since I joined Twitter in 2007 (followed by FB shortly afterward), I’ve pondered how best to archive things I share on social media. I used to periodically comb both networks for any funny kid quips I’d shared—those are the things I most especially want to keep here in my forever-place. And now there’s Instagram pulling the lion’s share of my attention, social-media-wise, another archive of my work stored on someone else’s server. I never can decide how much to pull over here.
Certainly not the most pressing issue of our time, not even close to the most pressing issue regarding my time, but it’s something I think about. Scott and I recently found ourselves laughing and awwww-ing through a bunch of Bonny Glen and Left of the Dial posts from ten years ago, and those stories are golden. We wouldn’t have remembered half of them (maybe any of them) if we hadn’t written them down.
I also note that my reading life has suffered since I dropped the habit of blogging about it.
As we roll into summer here, I’m shifting the moving parts around and pondering ways to tweak my schedule. There’s room for everything—all the important things, at least—as long as I’m clever about it. But sometimes that’s a pretty big ask. 😉
November 19, 2017 @ 8:20 pm | Filed under: Bloggity
Long, long ago, my children, when the woman was young and the blog was new, and the bees were thick in the flowering sage, and the melting of the polar ice was but a whisper in the dark, and “social media” was a lackluster intersection on a Scrabble board (even with a triple-letter square), there was in the course of each workday a blessed twenty-minute interval of transition between the homeschooling of the children and the writing of the books.
And lo, in this brief span of minutes, hundreds of posts were born.
And the blogger had Opinions and Earnestness, and sometimes Urgency, especially regarding Literary Things. For example, the blogger most fervently wished the world to read The Firelings, because no one seemed to know of it beyond the doors of her home. And the blog flourished, and the pingbacks were abundant and formed pathways to other bloglands overflowing with rich discourse.
But it is the way of the world, my children, that all things must change. In the words of the sage, oceans rise, empires fall, and homeschooling novelists get kinda busy. Or (for let us be honest, children) distracted by Twitter, by Facebook, by Instagram; lo, even by Goodreads. And thus it was that the blog suffered and grew silent.
But now and again the blogger would read a book and long to Write a Post About It Like in the Old Days.
And so it came to pass that—
Scott, walking by: What are you giggling about?
Me: Remember when I used to be able to write a post in twenty minutes? That was pretty cool.
Last night I was chatting with Jane on Slack—she had a story for me about her Victorian Lit class—and Sherlock Holmes came up. She asked if I remembered how old she was when she started reading them. I was guessing around age ten or eleven—was it before or after our move to California?—and she remembered that she first encountered Sherlock on a Jim Weiss story tape. So: Virginia probably. Then she pinged a burst of laughter—
lol lol lol i just searched bonny glen + jim weiss
“Jim’s Sherlock Holmes stories inspired Jane, at age eight, to tackle the Arthur Conan Doyle originals.“
Good old blog comes through again. Our family memory bank.
Of course this made me wince, knowing I’ve dropped the ball on daily posts yet again. I do have a lot of tidbits stashed in drafts, but those aren’t searchable.
We’ve talked so much about how our collective shift to social networks changed our blogging habits, both as blog writers and readers. One of the more subtle shifts, I think, began to happen even before we jumped on Facebook: bit by bit our blogs took on a more formal tone. On Facebook and Twitter, we’re looser, less polished. Personal blogs used to feel spontaneous, immediate, diaristic. A few of them still do, but I think on the broad spectrum of kinds of writing, a blog post is usually closer to essay than tweet. These social conventions fascinate me. These days, more people are likely to read and respond to my writing on Facebook than on Bonny Glen, yet I feel freer about slapdashing an unpolished thought over there.
I used to worry about losing things on Facebook or Twitter. I’d post funny kid quotes there and then, zip, they’d be carried along by the current and disappear. I wanted to archive all those memories here, and I worked out elaborate systems for saving things. I even had a side-blog for a while that was nothing but kid-related tweets I wanted to save. Later, I got savvier and set up IFTTT functions that automatically archive all my Twitter and FB posts in Evernote. This is both handy and dandy, but it’s a clunky substitute for the searchable family chronicle that is this blog.
I’m laughing at myself because I’ve traveled this loop before. There’s such an obvious and simple fix: just post the kid stuff here. Because odds are that one day Rilla will ping me from college—probably via a tooth implant that will trigger my phone-necklace to display her text on the back of my hand—wanting to know when, exactly, was her heavy origami phase. So, for the record: April of 2017, right after you turned eleven, I walked into my bedroom after tucking in the boys, and you pounced on me with a square of pink paper. Which is why I had to write your sister, ten minutes later, to apologize for disappearing in the middle of our Slack conversation.
Lissa: [9:00 PM]
Sorry, Rilla came in with an urgent need to teach me how to make an origami piano
Jane: [9:00 PM]
that sounds entirely reasonable
January 20, 2017 @ 8:35 am | Filed under: Bloggity
Here’s something I can celebrate today: twelve years of chronicling my family’s reading life, homeschooling adventures, and deep-dive interests. Our high tides and low tides, our passions and problems. When I look back through these archives, I find stories I would never have remembered (and books I really want to read again).
To all of you who visit me here, reading quietly or chiming into the discussion: Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading. It’s the absolute nicest thing you can do for a writer.
I was trying to figure out what photo to post today, and it struck me to just go into my media library and pull up a bunch of images from years past. So here’s what let’s do: give me a word in the comments and I’ll type that into my image library’s search bar. I’ll come back throughout the day to post the pictures your suggestions pull up. 🙂
First suggestion! Thank you, selvi, for suggesting: delight.
I love his quiet delight in riding the park tram
Karen E’s suggestion: Stone House. Aw, Martha’s house! 🙂 Huh—I got nuthin. I tried Glencaraid too and nope, no photos. Closest hit is for just plain “stone.” No idea why I have a picture of Stonehenge in my archives. I’ll have to track down the original post and see what the reference was. [Found it! It’s from my interview with Stephanie Spinner about her Lady of the Lake novel, Damosel.]
(But Karen, I love your prompt and got a wave of happy nostalgia. I loved writing about that house.)
Heather’s word, celebrate, brings up a photo of author Kiersten White at the San Diego Central Library grand opening celebration in 2013. She was my boothmate at the author signing. That was the day I met one of my favorite fictional heroes in real life—Miss Rumphius!
And my dear friend Sarah H. chimes in with the word joy. One of my favorite words, and a recurring theme of this blog. I’m excited to see what it pulls up. Here’s the first hit: Joyful Noise, Poems for Two Voices—a much beloved book in these parts.
Here’s another photo tagged joy—this one gives me a smile for sure. It’s my drama-program classmates from Loretto Heights College at our mini-reunion in Denver a few summers ago. We snuck into our old theater and struck poses to emotion words, just like in the old days. This was the “joy” pose.
Ellie’s word: friendship. (Back atcha, my dear.)
giraffe and friend
animal friends (by Rilla in 2012)
Quasimodo and friend, San Diego Comic Con 2008
Kmom’s word: sketch. 🙂
filling my sketchbooks, 2016
November 2014 sketchbook page (and the beginning of my fountain-pen mania)
My Jan 1, 2017 sketchbook page
Sketch of me by the amazing Fiona Staples, 2010—still makes me grin.
trio of backyard sketchers, 2009
From Susanne Barrett: peace. This photo got a chuckle out of me, because when I first posted it, it was to note that Rilla, just learning to read, thought it was a message to Santa: “Please be on this house.” 🙂
Peace be on this house, our lovely Small Meadow Press banner
Worth noting that the only other photo to pop up with the “peace” search was another Small Meadow image—the Wild Simplicity Daybook. So Lesley, there you, that’s your legacy on this sight. Peace.
Susanne also asked for a Brave Writer search. That one turns up the Brave Writer logo and the Arrow graphic I made for my sidebar. When I first started writing about BW—in the very first month of this blog!—I wasn’t using many images yet. But I raved about The Writer’s Jungle quite early on. I had met Julie Bogart on a homeschooling moms’ list some years earlier (late 90s) and then joined another yahoogroup for homeschooling moms who write. Julie is the only person I remember from that list. Her name jumped out at me when Brave Writer launched a while later and I was eager to see her materials. And promptly fell in love with them.
Finally got to meet Julie in person at the Brave Writer Retreat last summer. She’s the absolute best.
Heh—I figured I’d start the ball rolling with the word “thanks.” It seems I’ve only got one image with that word in the title or caption. It’s from the author panel at the Deep Valley Homecoming (a Betsy-Tacy event, obviously) in June 2015, in which I am apparently crushing someone’s tiny little head. Hit me with some better keywords so I can push this image down the page!
Discussing our writing processes at Deep Valley Homecoming. Photo swiped from Nancy Piccone, with thanks!
P.S. Happy Birthday to The Wine-Dark Sea, which shares this twelve-year mark with Bonny Glen. 🙂
In addition to the household Fresh Start cleaning spree, the New Year always means an overhaul of my sidebar here on the blog. It begins with the year’s reading log, which must be transferred from sidebar to its own page. (In 2016 I got smart and started the page early—but then Cybils overtook my reading life and the page remains, as my sidebar note says, about thirty books behind. Perhaps more like 27 today. I’m getting there, book by book.) The empty space under the current year’s heading always drives me crazy until I’ve finished a book. Lots of years, I find time on January 1st to read a short children’s novel—last year it was Miss Happiness and Miss Flower—just so I can remove the placeholder text and enter an actual book title. I roll my eyes at myself while doing it, but I do it all the same.
Except I haven’t done it this year. Too busy sparking joy with every book in the house. I’m reading Cat’s Cradle, because I never have and Scott asked me to. 🙂 We often slide each other reading requests, wanting our frames of reference to be shared as much as possible. When Jane was a newborn, Scott would read aloud to me while I nursed her. We started with some childhood favorites the other had missed—The Great Brain (his); Harriet the Spy (mine). (You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Scott’s Ole Golly, let me tell you.)
Cat’s Cradle isn’t a long book, but this week’s pattern of cleaning frenzy in the morning and brain-work in the afternoon has left me too tired to make it through more than a few pages when I hit the pillow at night. So the gap remains.
The reading log is my sidebar equivalent of Flylady’s shiny sink. Once it’s been updated for the year, I have to start moving other things around. As the year’s book log grows longer, it throws columns off balance. I rearrange things and in January have to arrange them back. Which leads to a reassessment of what else is occupying space there. I’ve nixed some bits this year, tried to make the informational bits up top more compact so you get to the part that contains actual content—the recent comment widget and the “Caught My Eye” links—more quickly. I let the links section slide a bit during Cybils season, but I’m planning to use it more actively now, entering short remarks on the shared links so that section is more like a mini-blog within the blog. I know from your comments in the past that some of you do click through to see if I’ve added new links, which makes me so happy. 🙂 I’m glad you find them useful or interesting.
I’ve found a way to add links to this section directly from Feedly—very convenient! But I have to go in manually to add commentary.
At the bottom of my sidebar you’ll find a new addition: a “Blogging Like It’s 2005” blogroll. Yes, a blogroll—seriously old-school! This is the fruit of a conversation on my Facebook page. I asked my FB friends questions whether they still read blogs, and if so, do they use a feed reader like Feedly or Bloglovin, or do they rely on social media for notifications of new posts. I was surprised to discover that almost everyone who answered said they pretty much just click through on links from Facebook or Twitter.
It gives me the shivers to think of relying on the caprices of Facebook to find out if blogs I love have new content up. I will forever mourn Google Reader, but Feedly does the job pretty well for me—and has some nifty post-sharing functionality that comes in quite handy, as I mentioned above.
But I seem to be in the minority. Now, until this conversation I was posting my own blog links on FB only sporadically, because 1) I hesitate to spam my friends’ feeds with my own content; and 2) Facebook’s tricksy algorithms have a way of downgrading your updates if they too frequently contain links to the same website. Which means there’s no guarantee your friends will see your new post links, even if you do put ’em on FB.
But that’s fine, now that I know people prefer to see blog updates in their newsfeed, I’m happy to comply. And I have to say I’ve been thrilled by all the discussion happening in the comment box this week—thank you all for taking the time! 🙂
Well, as I said, this FB conversation led to a burst of wistful reminiscing about the lively blog community of old. A few of us decided to try to revive the spirit of those days by posting more often, more chattily, and by making an effort to comment on one another’s blogs. Thus the new blogroll. Let me know if you’d like to be included.
Today’s picture book: well, so far we’ve only read Hedgie’s Surprise again. (“Because I love it so much!” Huck pleaded.) But I found Jan Brett’s The Wild Christmas Reindeer mixed in with non-Christmas books (so we missed it), and I think since we’re on a Brett kick, it’s what I’ll read tonight. I did begin The Firelings last night, by the way. Huck had played outside all day and fell asleep two pages in. And today I happened upon The Minstrel in the Tower, which is a nice short readaloud that I haven’t done with this set. I’m contemplating holding off on Firelings for now.
I’d like to start sharing thoughts on some of the Cybils nominees I read this fall. To begin with, here’s the blurb I wrote for one of our finalists, a beautiful historical novel called Salt to the Sea.
As the Nazi Reich collapses and the Soviet army sweeps across the East Prussian countryside in the winter of 1945, three young refugees find themselves thrown together among the crowds of desperate, uprooted travellers. The distinctive voices and histories of Joana (“the nurse”), Florian (“the knight”), and Emilia (“the Polish girl”)—each guarding painful secrets—create a harrowing picture of the lives thrown into tumult by the war. A fourth narrative voice, the self-aggrandizing declarations of a young Nazi soldier named Alfred, adds an unsettling counterpoint to the narrative. The fates of the four narrators will converge at the doomed MV Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship targeted by Russian submarines. Ruta Sepetys brings authenticity and heart to this moving, gorgeously realized work of historical fiction.
It’s hard to pull off good historical fiction, and even harder (in my opinion) to manage multiple narrative voices gracefully. Sepetys excels at both endeavors. Her characters have lodged in my heart—particularly the old shoemaker, whom you’ll meet on the road. Highly, highly recommended.
I’ve been so busy this week, I haven’t had time to explore the other Cybils categories. We always try to read as many finalists as we can, especially the picture books! Time to fill up my library cart…