I’ve neglected this blog as badly as I’ve neglected this strawberry pot of succulents — the one that’s now crowded with ferns and weeds. You would think a quarantined person would have time to keep up with a weed-filled strawberry pot and, of course, a blog.
Apparently, not always.
At some point in the midst of COVID madness, I received a message from the WordPress gods that my blog had reached its 9th anniversary, the gift for which is pottery (hence, the opening photo). That announcement, in combination with all of the quarantine days and weeks and months I’ve had to work in the garden, I’ve had some — and by some, I mean a lot of — time to reflect on this blog… where it began (during my time as a Long Island gardener), where it is now (during my time as a South Florida gardener), where it’s going (I haven’t a clue), and all points in between.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. For me, they create too much pressure — and within a week, they’ll be in the trash heap and I’ll be spending the rest of the year beating myself up because I didn’t go to the gym or lose weight or learn a new craft. Besides, in my world, each day gives us a chance to get a fresh start — hence, the sunrise photo at the top of this post.
This year, though, is different.
It’s funny to write that headline, “Honey, I’m Home,” because I’ve never really gone away. There have been a few trips — all crammed into a short span of time — but for the most part, I’ve been home.
I was as surprised by the emailed notice as I was by the mysterious moth resting on the edge of a terra cotta strawberry pot. My blog was nominated for The One Lovely Blog Award.
I know blog awards receive mixed reactions. Some people love ‘em; some people don’t. Some see them as an honor; others see them as a chore.
Personally, this particular nomination could not have come at a better time.
It’s been some time since I posted a “Bloomin’ Update,” because — well — I had nothing bloomin’ in my garden because I didn’t have a garden in zone 10.
But as 2014 changed into 2015, so too did the garden change. Where there was once only lawn, there are now beds. Where there are beds, there are now plants and pots and paths. (Speaking of paths, I’ll describe the path I took to create this garden in a future post.)
With all of the changes happening around me, I decided to make some changes to this blog. For a while, I’ve considered purchasing my own domain — which I have now done. It’s official, I am now Nitty Gritty Dirt Man dot com.
April 15, 1941 – December 3, 2014
When I started this blog, the first piece of advice I received was to find other blogs that I admired, blogs that I thought would appeal to the readers I hoped to attract. After scrolling through blog after blog, I found one that stood out from the rest.
It was classic and classy, well-written, witty, and wise.
It was Lee May’s Gardening Life.
I left a comment immediately and added the site to my newly learned term: a blogroll. For some time, Lee May’s Gardening Life was the only blog listed on that roll.
It had been a long time since I had written. Prior to blogging and prior to my life as a school social worker, I had been a journalist — but that was a long ago chapter in my life. So when Lee — a much-respected journalist — replied that he liked my writing, he provided water to my young sprouting blog and to my soul.
There’s no other way to describe my brain during these frigid January days than this photo of a foggy, foggy night. I admit when I first saw the lights beaming through the misty mid-winter air, I thought of a scene from “The X-Files” — you know, an alien spacecraft had landed just on the other side of the trees behind my house.
But the more I stared at the photo, the more I thought about the tangled thoughts and clouded emotions and glimmers of light in my head. There’s a lot happening up there, and very often it’s difficult to make sense or to accept what it all is.
I know I said I would see all of you in 2014 — and it may already be that in some parts of the world — but I wanted to share this post, compiled by the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys. It’s the annual report for this blog and the data is fascinating — from a listing of the most popular posts to the most frequent commenters to the global location of commenters.
Not only do I thank the statisticians for keeping this info, but I also thank all of you — because without you, there would be no statistics to keep.
Following the stats are my plans for 2014 and one more tune to end the year.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
Plans for 2014
I’m not one for resolutions — they don’t last very long — so I’ll stick with a to-do list. Here are a few highlights:
- I’m currently compiling the posts from this blog into a book. My dilemma is which self-publishing platform to use. It’s a bit overwhelming. So far, I’m debating using Smashwords or publishing straight to Amazon, where a book could be distributed to Kindle or print-on-demand. There’s also Blurb, which creates coffee table books. If anyone out there as any experiences/opinions/ideas — I would love some guidance.
- I was also nominated for a blogging award, and the acceptance post is on its way. As with many of these awards, there’s a place for seven random facts about me — so if there’s anything you would like to know about me, please leave a question and I’ll choose some of those (or at least those that I can answer).
Just when you thought I had exhausted the December with yule tunes, I had to share one more — one of the most beautiful renditions of “Auld Lang Syne” I’ve ever heard. This is Mairi Campbell.
Happy New Year!
“My name is Allison MacKenzie. Where I was born, time was told not by the clock or the calendar, but by the seasons. Summer was carefree contentment. Autumn was that bittersweet time of regret for moments that had ended and things that were yet undone. And then winter fell, with a cold mantle of caution and chill, it nipped our noses and our arrogance and made us move closer to the warm stoves of memory and desire. Spring was promise. But there was a fifth season, of love. And only the wise or the lucky ones new where to find it.”
This is the opening monologue from the film Peyton Place. It’s here because a few weeks ago a reader, Camille, commented on an earlier post entitled Autumn In Peyton Place. She had been searching for the verse and could I help her. I popped in the DVD and took some dictation.
But after I read over the words, it occurred to me that if only seasons could be so easy and uncomplicated that their description could fit into a single — albeit melodramatic — paragraph. If only . . .
Because lately, it seems, seasons are not so neat and tidy. This spring, for example, has been one of the coolest — make that coldest — and dampest ones that I can remember. Even this Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, had snow falling in upstate New York.