Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Memories

Easter seemed easy when the children were younger. Easter eggs, bunnies and ham had their place, and so did Handel, liturgy and the two hour long Easter Vigil. Now it is harder to put the two in their right  perspective.

A few memories stand out. I always made the two older girls similar new outfits: in the photo above are skirts and vests, lavender for Liz, cream skirt and cream and blue patterned vest for Kate. My absolute favorites were dresses made of fine cotton—pale blue for Elizabeth, apricot for Kate, with the same pattern but different designs. I can't find photos of the boys in Easter finery, but I will keep looking around. Nor did I find photos of them grasping bunnies, a gift from a neighbor. I did hear the story not too long ago from Andrew about the sad fate of his bunny one year. Andrew was upset with the neighbor for some reason and he therefore hanged his bunny on the lilac tree in full view of her kitchen windows.

The middle photo shows Lucy with her bunny. She must have changed after church and, poor kid, she had probably worn her usual costume, hand-me-downs from her older sisters.

The bottom photo, with its 1970's avocado color scheme, shows that year's version of the lamb cake which I made every year. I still have the metal mold which has two halves bound together with wire, but it has been a long time since I attempted the cake.

It was a lovely day. A big ham breakfast with our three married daughters and their husbands and a phone call from Washington where the boys celebrated together. We spent the rest of the day eating and drinking and all but one of the nine grandchildren were able to run round to the neighborhood school by themselves to play in the playground. Yes, the details of being together have changed, but not the comfort of our celebration.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

And my nomination is . . .

Lake Superior State is a university several hundred miles north of here. It is situated by the Soo Locks which enable tankers to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. The locks are impressive in summer, cold in winter, and that is doubtless the reason that LSSU is the smallest public university in Michigan.

One —and I am sure not the only—distinction of the university is the list of  words it bans each January.  Here is the complete list, and this is the list for 2013.

They give an explanation of the words in the context of the year. I admit I can’t always remember why some of them were used so frequently in years gone by. And they also ask for nominations for next year. That is easy. I just nominated the conjoint words that have been driving me crazy. I nominated  “the next level”, if indeed that counts as a word. It should, because the words are always joined at the hip, be-it describing a dish on Top Chef, a dress on Project Runway, a speech, a performance . . .

It is a long while to wait until next January, but we'll see.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Day of Spring.

And freezing cold. I am not  in the least tempted to stroll the old homestead looking for the emergence of little green shoots. Besides, there is no way I can work in the garden this year. I don’t have anything to wear. An article in the March 7 Wall Street Journal begins: Shovel? Check. Rototiller? Check. $500 Wellies? Check. Apparently we are supposed to exchange “ratty jeans and rubber clogs for trim trousers, sturdy jackets and hunting boots that look to be straight out of Downton Abbey.”

Here’s the idea. Get it? Her gardening essentials include Dubarry boots, a Barbour vest and scarves by Burberry and Hermès. The farm-girl-meets-country-squire look. Just in case a neighbor drops by to borrow a cup of  fertilizer.

“Helping drive the style” apparently, is Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge,, “who is often photographed wearing sporty vests and horsy boots. She favors the Le Charmeau brand of leather-lined rubber Wellingtons, a steal at $480. I don’t think I remember seeing her wielding a shovel or a rototiller.

While I was going back to research the origins of this blog I came across an entry for October 26, 2005.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blogs and bloggers, Part 3

Last entry on the subject. I promise.

 I noted that I started this caper in 2005.  Back then, things were more complicated. You wanted a link, you had to start with a href="URL" target="_blank">TEXT
, then insert the URL and the relevant text. (I purposely left out two <, because if I didn't, it actually worked). Which is more than it sometimes did when that was the only way to link. I can’t remember how we got photos into the text, but looking back to my cheat sheet I discovered the enigmatic code which resulted in this—

 I did want to jazz up the format a bit, so I figured out how to find a color number I wanted (I think it is 7E3517 here) and how to use it to frame a photo ( maybe the above photo frame.)  It worked fine, but when Blogger made things “easier” it meant that I lost the right hand frame of a large photo. You can see an example in my last post. I could probably fix that, but when the instructions tell you to start by making a copy of everything before you begin in case you lose it all, it’s a bit off-putting.

The choice of templates was few when I started, but I knew I wanted something simple. In fact I think this is called minima. I’m not sure it is exactly what I want, but I don’t want to mess around with it. Some of the changes installed by Blogger coincided with my “time off”, so it was doubly hard to figure out what was going on. I didn’t feel like wading through Blogger Buzz. The changes seemed to make it easier to install a header and I was able to change the color of the background. I was aiming for butter yellow, but . . . ”They” say that I can just click on another template, and everything will be moved over seamlessly, but I think that is too much to hope. Obviously I am not the only blogger wanting to jazz up my current template and we have seen the introduction of Shabby Blogs and hot biggity blog and decorations that seem a little twee. And I do want to change the font, but it seems to me I should have figured that out on day one.

A few more points. I do think branding is important, so I don’t see the point of continually making changes, though I like seasonal changes for the header. Nor do I want to clutter up the margins that minima provides. In fact, I am going to think about the widgets I use right now and clean them up. Well, soon anyway.

Should a person display a list of “favorites”? I think I will continue to do so, but I will edit my list. It seems silly to display links to people who haven’t written for weeks. Then one feels as if the links belong to a slightly recalcitrant child, or a small dog, and feel a tad abashed.

How do I chose new blogs to read on a regular basis? That is a hard one now there is a plethora of blogs to chose from. I often go from link to link, but somehow very rarely bookmark a new blog. Some I never give a chance if the post I link to doesn’t do it for me. And I immediately close down the blog if it looks too political, religious, philosophical, crammed with photos of small babies or (forgive me some of you) animals. And if after a few seconds your blog starts to talk to me or play New Age music—that’s it. I do need to widen my horizon. In the early days I used to click on the “next blog” button at the top and after a blog or two I was invariably linked to a Japanese porn site. I read somewhere that now there is an algorithm in place which sends you to blogs a similar nature to the one you are on.

Comments. Do you look for a certain number of comments on each post? How many, if any, do you make per day? And if any one feels like making a comment, I would like to know your feelings about some of the points I have raised. Do you ever think about this stuff any more? 

Philosophical comments will be accepted.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sorry, Paper Person

Today is Saturday. Our paper has a couple of big sections—fashion, art, theatre, books—you get the idea, and we both love to sit at the kitchen table, drinking coffee, eating breakfast and reading. But this morning the front path was cushioned in snow and there was not a single footprint to indicate a visit from the paper person. That's pc, because today the paper boy of the past drives a car and, I was convinced, belongs to a union which won't allow delivery when there is more than a certain amount of snow on the ground. In spite of our handsome Christmas tip.

I went in to the kitchen to make the coffee and we had to spend breakfast discussing abdicate vs. resign when it comes to popes. Sigh. After that scintillating meal I grabbed the snow shovel and broom and went out to clear the porch and the front walk. I shoveled and swept the porch and made my way down the front two steps. And lo and behold, on the bottom step, swaddled in a red plastic bag and covered with an immaculate layer of snow, was the newspaper. I felt bad for the paper person I had impugned.

Hardly a post here because I wanted to follow up my last two entries, but it will mark the date of what is hopefully the last snow of the year.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Blogs and Bloggers, Part 2

I ended my last entry with a question. I only got two answers (thank you Maggie May and Z.) And although I wrote about the how part in my post, I never answered the why.

I saw myself as the Samuel Johnson of the family. I had written regularly to my children when they were away at college or living abroad, I had friends and family in various parts of the country and in Europe who received regular letters from me. As technology reared it’s ugly head, I substituted e-mail for some of the letters, but whatever medium I used, there was a lot of repetition involved. I was typing the same news over and over again. That was when it struck me that a blog was the ideal method for communicating with everyone in one fell swoop.

There were two byproducts to this decision. Firstly, sheer annoyance. I had notified friends and family (with the exception of two elderly in-laws who, it seemed, would never use the internet, although my brother-in-law eventually became a wiz at e-mail.) I gave out my URL and slept soundly knowing that friends and family would be following us via my blog. Wrong. I would write a post about our re-modeled basement and there would be a dozen people who asked if we had ever recovered from the water damage, if I wrote about a visit from the family out east, someone (many people) would be sure to wonder when we last saw Al’s family. So, yes, I was annoyed, but I could not go back to my old ways. In fact I eventually started two more blogs, one to assimilate all the news I gathered from my classics classmates at Bedford and a little gimmick I picked up which showed a daily photograph of my everyday life and which somehow got stuck at a photo of fried potatoes.

The second byproduct was a yearning to find some English blogs. Somehow or other I had found two, both by elderly English gentlemen, well, one is four months younger than me, one several years older. I e-mailed them both, asking for some recommendations. I e-mailed them a second time. They never replied. I’m not sure how I came across the results of a competition for the best world blogs, including the category of English blogs, which was won that year by Little Red Boat. Hurrah, I had my foot in the door and I went from there. You know how easy it is to jump from link to link.

Just a little more to say about blogs, but you will have to wait. Bate your breath.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Blogs and Bloggers

I began my blog on July 28, 2005. I had been lurking around the edges of what is now called the blogosphere since the end of the last century. Let me repeat that phrase, “The end of the last century!!” There was a specific and rather personal reason why I read my first blog and that blog led me to a few bloggers whom I like to refer to as the old timers. For the most part they intimidated me. They were all American, they could be generalized as “womens’ libbers”, they were mostly thirty or so years younger than me. I was trying recently to do some research; I can’t find most of them on line now. Even the ones I can find have changed the name of their blog, killed their archives and made it pretty much impossible to locate them.  I seem to remember that they organized a yearly meeting called Journal Con, Com?,  but I am having trouble tracking it down to check on the details. It was held in various American cities.  There were talks and round tables and lots of drinking in the hotel bars. I would never have dared go near them. They did attract an odd person from across the Atlantic. I remember a woman from Ireland with the distinctive name of Caoimhe. So though I lurked, I kept my distance.

As I read their blogs, I eventually noticed a distinct similarity between the layouts. Eventually. I am not too tech oriented and although I thought vaguely of setting up my own blog, I realized, quite correctly, that it involved html, which was as foreign to me as Greek was to most of the bloggers. Yes, there were lots of blogs out there which looked the same. By this time I had been retired for five years. If I had still been working I would not have got away with not noticing that little orange square to the left of a blue bar. One day, and it must have been July 28, 2005, I also noticed the words they had in that blue bar back then. “”create your own blog” or words to that effect. So I clicked on it, and all of a sudden, I had my own blog. No sand box, no practice, but a real, live blog.

I have a lot more to say, but in the mean time, I would be interested to know how or why any of you started your blog.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The A-list

I have been realizing of late that I need to tidy up some functions on my blog, adding, deleting and bringing up to date. I also wanted to say a thing or two about blogs in general.

And I still will. The timing seems perfect, because I have more reason than before to make some decisions. I have written several times about Ronni Bennett. I admire her blog enormously. Some of it is aimed solely at an American audience, some, it can be argued applies only to women, and it is written entirely with an older audience in mind. That said, never think that blogs written by older American women are not worth reading by any audience.

She has just taken a few days off researching and writing to bring up to date her list of selected blogs by people fifty or older.  As she says, "Check out some of them; you will be glad you did." Use dicretion: they are utterly diverse—as blogs should be. I was originally on the list, but I was dropped when there was a hiatus in my blog and one of her criteria is that the blogger should post at least once a week. I don't think she checks much, but a break of over a year became apparent last time she revised her list. She has just spent time bringing her list up to date, and I am glad that I am back. It is a much longer list than before, so you have all kinds of choices. You can use the link indicated above, or click on the red badge in the right hand column of my blog.