I am facing a dilemma.  For the past eight years I’ve been using a free WordPress blogging platform, and I have written about 2,400 posts.  Each post included at least one visual component — photos I’ve taken of my artwork, my surroundings, and food I’ve prepared.  Most often I included several photos in a post.  And now I have reached WordPress’s media library storage limit.  I can no longer upload photos to this blog unless I pay for extra storage.

I ran out of image storage space at the tail of of April’s Daily Doodles blog posts.  In order to finish out the month, I deleted some old photos from my WordPress media library.  This resulted in those photos disappearing from my archived blog posts.  And it was not even a one-to-one correspondence.  In order to upload just one new photo, I had to delete about twenty old photos.  I’ve decided that even though nobody will miss the old photos, I do not want to create holes in my old, archived blog posts.

I don’t want to pay WordPress a monthly fee for “premium” storage.  My blog is not a for-profit endeavor, and even though the fee is nominal, I don’t want extra expenses right now.  I know that I have no reason to expect WordPress or any other provider to give me an outlet for free.  But if I had to pay to blog, I probably wouldn’t do it.  I do appreciate WordPress immensely, and I’m grateful to have my blog with them.

So I am contemplating what I should do.

One option would be for me to quitting blogging entirely — I certainly have enough to keep me busy and engaged and creative without writing blog posts.  But I do appreciate having a blog platform for several reasons:

  • It’s a great way to share what’s going on in my life with my far-flung siblings and friends and acquaintances.  I have no interest in being on Facebook, and my blog is one way people can check in with me if they care to.  I have siblings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Colorado, and Israel.  We’ve all pretty much stopped corresponding with letters or even email.
  • I’ve made a few lovely friends as a result of my blog.
  • I’ve come to LOVE the blog as a useful tool for keeping my photos and trip notes and recipes and art explorations organized.  The “search” box on my blog works as an indexing tool.  For example, if I want to find a recipe that uses rhubarb, I can type “rhubarb” in my search box and then scroll through my posts about recipes I’ve made in the past.  If someone asks me about a place I’ve been, like my favorite Ebey’s Landing hike, I can search for old posts and email him or her the link.  If I want to paint an iris, I can search through my photos of irises in my old blog posts.  This is VERY handy!
  • I want to continue to document certain things in my life: my art work — individual paintings/drawings and multi-day projects; my travel journals; favorite books, foods and daily experiences.  My blog has become a documentary of my life.  I haven’t finished some of the projects I’ve started, like Armchair America (travel through books) and book covers of favorite books.
  • It’s a good thing to have a reason to think about even one good, beautiful, interesting thing that happens in my day and that I think might be worthy of noting (and sharing).  My blog is a record of what I pay attention to and reflect upon.

One solution would be for me to resize all of my photos for posting to a lower resolution.  This probably wouldn’t be a noticeable decrease in quality to viewers.  But that would mean researching and learning about image optimization, putting all of my photos through this type of editing app before uploading to the blog.   I hate this kind of technical detail, and I simply don’t want to devote time to figuring this out and then keeping it up on an ongoing basis.

Another solution might be to end this blog and start a new one.

Once I figure out what to do, I’ll let you know.  I am so grateful that you’ve taken time to follow and/or read my posts.  I appreciate your interest and attention.

 

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Exhibiting a Life

August 13, 2014

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“Why to people do this?”

“Blog, you mean?  I don’t know . . . didn’t someone once say the unexamined life isn’t worth living?”

“Yeah, Plato,” said Strike, “but this isn’t examining a life, it’s exhibiting it.”
— from The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J. K. Rowlings)

I had to laugh when I read the above passage.  I’ve always considered myself something of an introvert, and yet I’ve been blogging about my life for over five years!  Perhaps I am really a closet exhibitionist.

There are many times when I don’t know what to write about or where my next post will come from.  And even though it is a real struggle to find the time to write, I am not ready to give up the practice of sitting down and thinking about my days to discover something interesting or important or meaningful.  To shine some light on the little ordinary things.

Like these blackberries that grow wild in my yard.  One of August’s gifts, free for the picking. (You can find the recipe for the blackberry cake at this link.  I blogged about it two years ago!  This time I left out the rhubarb and used just blackberries.)

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Unnoticed and Unannounced

December 27, 2013

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I’ve been spending much of my time recently reading through a gigantic pile of books from the library.  I find wisdom and solace from other writers, and not infrequently writers seem to address questions I am pondering and issues in my life.

One of the better books I just finished was The Boy Detective:  A New York Childhood by Roger Rosenblatt, in which he spins a memoir as he wanders from about 14th to 42nd Streets in New York City.  I walked many of these same streets on my November trip, so this was a fun way to revisit vicariously.  Rosenblatt teaches writing, and he’s a good writer himself (so good that I will be looking up other of his books at the library).  And at one point he writes about the joys of living “unnoticed and unannounced,” which I imagine is something of a dilemma for a memoirist, and something I have been thinking about as the author of this website.  He says:

“I like living my life without telling anyone, as if whatever I did during the course of a day — get the car an oil change, shop for coconut ice cream, sit in Starbucks with my grande bold coffee and yellow legal pad — was between me and me and no one else.  I would not say that what I do is none of your business.  That’s not what I mean.  Everybody’s business is everybody’s business once in a while.  What I mean is that doing things like taking a walk in the city at night without telling anyone makes the thing being done a modest gift to myself.  We live most of our lives this way, do we not?  Unnoticed and unannounced.  And who would I tell anyway?  Do you really care if I buy coconut ice cream, or if one winter evening I leave my classroom and roam about New York in search of my inconsequential life?  Would you love me more or less if I told you?”

Well, I love Rosenblatt more for his telling of a few moments in his life.  His book brought me enjoyment and no doubt left him many other private moments, still not written about, as modest gifts to himself.  I can take this as a lesson for myself.

I Wonder as I Wander

December 19, 2013

Foggy morning at Green Lake

Foggy morning at Green Lake

I feel misdirected these days, as if I am wandering in a fog.  So my postings are likely to be sporadic until I figure out what I am doing and where I want to be heading with this blog.  I am ambivalent about how I want to use this communication tool.  I still view it as a sort of online journal, but I am sometimes tired of doing the same things with it.

When I started blogging, I had hoped the posts would be a day-to-day reflection of a Pacific Northwest year, and I think I accomplished that.  I’ve used the blog to document the small, ordinary moments in the life of an ordinary middle-aged woman, and I think I’ve done that as well.  So there have been lots of posts about nature, and cooking (with recipes), walking, books I’ve read, day trips, and some longer journeys.  I’ve used the blog to show my slow, gradual growth as a watercolor artist and to show the photographs I like to take.  If I revisit certain themes again and again, it’s because they reflect my interests, which don’t change that much over time.

But sometimes I don’t feel that I have anything to share.  I need to live a more interesting life to have interesting things to blog about day after day.  That’s not always happening, of course.

So I’m questioning how I want to manage this blog in the future.  I’m finding myself getting tired of documenting and writing about my daily activities.  I want to spend more timing actually doing things, and less time reporting about them.

I’m questioning my photography, too. Just this week I read an article in the Wall Street Journal called “I Snap, Therefore I Am.”  The article talks about the widespread practice of taking photographs with camera phones, a proliferation of picture taking that has become almost an addiction.  I feel this way, too.  I take photos many times so that I can illustrate a blog post, but the photos are often neither fresh nor unique.  I want to be more selective about making photographs, to approach photography with artistic intent instead of merely taking pictures to show that I’ve been there.

I sense that it is time for a new approach, new practices, more time just for me and not always shared in a blog post.  There may be gaps in my posting as I work through this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To make my days deserving of preservation, I have to give myself ample time for reflection and repose. . . . It feels as if such entries add an extra layer to living.”     — Wendy Lustbader, The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Old

Rain on the glass at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Rain on the glass at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

These short winter days slip by so quickly, especially if it’s rainy, dark, and gloomy.  Thank goodness this blog gives me the impetus to find something in my days to share with you, my readers.  Sometimes it’s just the excuse I need to see what’s happening at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which is a heaven-sent destination on a rainy winter day.  The warm humid interior is a comforting contrast to the cold outdoors.  Even if I do have to wait for the fog to clear from my camera lenses!

My eyes were soothed by patterns and graceful, curving lines on this particular visit.  Here are a few photos:

Branching pattern with brilliant blue stem

Branching pattern with brilliant blue stem

Ferns with subtle purples and greens

Ferns with subtle purples and greens

Graceful leaves, almost translucent against the glass windows

Graceful leaves, almost translucent against the glass windows

Delicate beaded edges grace these cascading leaves

Delicate beaded edges grace these cascading leaves

Hanging pitcher plant

Hanging pitcher plant

 

 

 

 

Remembering Maurice Sendak

January 3, 2013

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I am reminded how much I appreciate blogging when a post brings to my attention something truly valuable that I would have otherwise overlooked.  I felt that way when I read today’s post by Sally Schneider at the Improvised Life blog, which includes a year-end video clip from The New York Times called “An Illustrated Talk with Maurice Sendak.

I urge you all to take a few minutes to watch the video clip and listen to Sendak’s words.  You will be touched.

I was working for an independent children’s book publisher in Minneapolis in 1980 when The Art of Maurice Sendak by Selma G. Lanes was published by Harry N. Abrams.  I bought the book for $40, a large purchase for me in those days.  But I never regretted it, such a meaty biography of one of my favorite children’s book illustrators with 261 illustrations, including 94 plates in full color and an original Sendak pop-up of Red Riding Hood.  I still cherish it.  I suppose that now it is a collector’s item.

Signed plate inside my book

Signed plate inside my book

 

“All these little, unlooked-at details create the fabric of memory.  By writing them down, we are refusing to let the experiences of our lives get subsumed in the tsunami of time, the onrush of the next, and the next, and the next.”
— Andy Couturier, A Different Kind of Luxury:  Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance

Tree rings — one of Nature’s ways of recording the passage of time

Tree rings from an Atlas Cedar

This blog has become my way of recording the ordinary and special occasions in my life — my attempt at creating an online tapestry of memories.  The practice of writing and posting has become my meditative moment in a sometimes busy and largely routine life.  Blogging helps me integrate things that I observe around me, things I read, things I photograph, things I eat, things that happen to me, and “forces” me to create something meaningful from these seemingly unrelated parts.  Finding that nugget of meaning and then making a post about it feels like a creative act.

So I’m still finding this blog worthwhile.  And yet, after more than 3-1/2 years of blogging almost every day, I think I need a bit more time off to devote to other projects and other aspects of my life.  So I plan to cut back to posting just five days a week, Mondays through Fridays, and take the weekends off.  Let’s see if it makes a difference!