LINDA’S BIG ADVENTURE: ENTERING “THE BLOGOSPHERE”
This is Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word BLOG:
“a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also: the contents of such a site …. the word “blog” is short for Weblog and its first known use was 1999.”
Well, that is interesting. It appears that blogs originated in the last millennium, so I guess it is time for me to get with the NEW millennium and partake in blogging, lest I be left behind with the dinosaurs. It seems like a worthwhile venture given the fact that I love to write (though I never do so, unless you want to count a little e-mail here and there and tidbits of often un-titillating news and views shared on social media or comments such as thumbs-up “likes” on Facebook.) It would seem a fitting endeavor to spend a little time every day writing from the heart, since I DID graduate from Wayne State University with a B.A., majoring in print journalism. My father often bemoaned the fact that I did not become a reporter, thus rendering the college education he paid dearly for, to be rather futile and the money would have been better spent on a new T-bird for him or a beaver coat for my mother. A cruel comment to be sure, but in 1978 when I graduated from WSU, the market was flooded with college students with journalism majors. The Watergate scandal in 1972 created a bounty of budding journalists who all wanted to achieve fame like Woodward and Bernstein. This journalism major could not even find a job on a local newspaper as a stringer for $0.25 a line! So, I started working at an advertising agency for eighteen months, hoping to work my way up the ladder to a junior copywriter position, but our agency lost a major account and seven of the nine copywriters and art directors I worked for left for other agencies, and eventually I also left to find another job. During my tenure at Young & Rubicam the only writing I accomplished was the chance to dabble in being editor and photographer of the company’s newsletter. which was fun but hardly enough to constitute a journalism career and barely worth mentioning on a résumé.
So, as I embark on this blog, I have fond memories of my little pink leatherette diary with the tarnished brass key on a ribbon that I got for Christmas in my tenth year. For several years I documented my daily events, trivial or otherwise, a recap of the painful travails of junior high. I graduated to a black-and-white speckled composition notebook used in my high school journalism class when our assignment was to keep a daily journal and turn it into our teacher at semester end. Since that time I’ve never resumed keeping a diary, a journal or any record of my thoughts, having preferred to keep them muddling around in my brain, up there with the other gray matter. On occasion, I have thought about jotting down my thoughts, but just never took the time or expended the effort….so here goes, for all posterity and to amuse my neighbor Marge, who has egged me on to complete this “assignment”.
The topic of my blog will be writing about walking. Why did I start a walking regimen in the Fall of 2011? Well, my life has taken a series of twists and turns over the last four years – among those twists and turns was that after thirty-six years of a regular 9-5 work life, first I had my hours cut as a result of the recession, then my mom developed equilibrium issues. She started having headaches, some double vision and extreme dizziness, and the origin of the problems could not be diagnosed, so, I began working from home and remoting into my work computer, a very easy routine to do when you are a legal secretary. I have joked that as a “virtual assistant” I can do everything but post letters, answer the door and make/serve coffee to clients. While I was working on site many, many years, it did not mean that I walked great distances during the course of my work day, but I suddenly realized that there were many days that I no longer left the confines of my kitchen, save to walk down the hall about twenty times a day, and I was becoming way too sedentary. Also, on my grandmother’s side, there was a prevalence of heart disease. The health experts say it is all about “moving that body” and that does not necessarily mean taking an exercise class. Annually, once “garden time” began, I was active every day out in the yard from May to October but with the advent of rats in the yard beginning in 2008, the joy and fascination of working in the garden came to a cruel jolt. When I worked in Detroit all those years, every Summer morning I would get up before the crack of dawn and go out and water all my flowers, shrubs and rosebushes, etc. all by hand. I hated coming home at the end of the day and they looked sickly and it kept them healthier longer. Anyway, that exercise, plus maintaining the rest of the yard was enough for me and by the time the last leaf fell from the trees and the yard was “put to bed”, I was ready to hunker down inside and not go outside any more than necessary.
In the Fall of 2011 I decided to begin a walking regimen …”baby steps” at first and built up to an easy-breezy 3 ¼ miles within a few months. However, I picked a bad time to start – it was a Labor Day weekend when we had unusually steamy temps soaring into the nineties with humidity around one hundred percent. I started off a residential block at a time and worked my way to more blocks so that my route was longer and wider every day. Only that heat wave whipped me that first few days and soon I was bouncing along and I set goals for myself for the end of each month and happily accomplished each one.
The Winter of 2011-2012 was wonderful, perhaps one snow event and the rest of the time, very clear, but cold out. I walked every day and ran errands around town on foot, but when I had grocery shopping, I went earlier and walked the perimeter of the store several times and then a few more laps in the parking lot afterward. I was hooked on walking and needed my daily “fix”.
I didn’t like going along Fort Street as people were always in a hurry and they don’t always watch for pedestrians or they are busy fiddling with the radio or cellphone and if the sun is in their eyes you have to really be careful. I learned which routes had big dogs on the cross-streets. While I have always liked dogs, some of them would run the length of the fence, baring their teeth, trying to defend their turf with a menacing look that sometimes would terrorize me. I settled on a nice daily route which I never found to be monotonous and I was able to say that I walked to another city every day on my morning constitution. I chose walking toward the river by travelling down Emmons to where Lincoln Park and Wyandotte meet. I would make sure I crossed the “city line” which was a little bridge over the “crick” and then turn around to come home. I loved that trip as I’d stop on the bridge and look at the Canada geese and the mallard ducks swimming in the creek which never froze because it never got that cold. Several times I bought loaves of cheap bread and crumbled it up to scatter it in the water for them. In fact my love of nature and animals is intensified by walking. In the Spring, I was able to watch all the trees going from bud to bloom – those beautiful magnolia trees were exquisite to see. I watched the perennials bursting through the soil and like time-lapse photography, they seemed to grow an inch a day and before I knew it the gardens were ablaze in color seeming to cry out “pick me first” … yes, I was sorely tempted.
Of special delight for me is watching the birds; not just the geese and ducks, but the other birds as well. So many people feed the birds and I’d pass many a birdfeeder laden with sparrows and chickadees in a feeding frenzy while their brethren waited in the wings to have their turn to feast. The sparrows and chickadees especially delight me as they remind me of my canary Buddy whose colors greatly resemble that of a sparrow. They remind me of my little one who is home and asleep in the spare bedroom, swaddled in covers and awaiting my return to wake him up and spoil him with treats and love. Seeing the birds gathered around the feeders also makes me sad because for decades I fed and watered the outside birds and enjoyed seeing them waiting in anticipation of their food or delighted in watching them splash in one of their four birdbaths…but those days are over since the advent of the rats. The rats ruined my backyard paradise and it has never been the same since their arrival. My neighbor Marge is brave enough to feed the birds again and I can at least vicariously enjoy the birds getting their food and the squirrels’ antics to beat them to their food. Not so different than the human world is it? Speaking of the squirrels, I enjoy watching their antics as I cross their paths during my morning walk…they suddenly see me and it is an OMG moment for them as they scamper off in every direction, often into the streets. I want to run and grab them and admonish them for not looking both ways before they cross the street in an effort to beat a hasty retreat from this scary human.
The changing seasons are fun as well. There are some people who go to extremes with their holiday decorating – they have adorned every part of their house and their property with holiday animations or greenery and some people who simply mix-and-match their Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day decorations at the same time. Have to smile to myself about those folks.
The smells while walking are always different. Often on a Saturday morning the smell of Snuggle fabric softener lingers in the air and I see many dryer vents huffing and puffing a plume of steam. Around Thanksgiving, we had such mild weather that my walking took me past many houses with open windows where I am sure I pinpointed the smell of pumpkin pies wafting out from the kitchen where a harried mom baked her holiday pies and cracked the window open to cool her off from the hot kitchen. Many times on a Saturday morning the smell of bacon frying fills the air.
Those are some of the many pleasures of walking and I looking forward to walking again if we can ever get rid of this pesky Winter weather. I love the solitude of walking, just an experience to drink in nature, enjoy the cardiovascular and general health benefits and just a welcome “me-time” to just review the prior day’s events, think ahead to the present day and just sometimes just let my mind become a blank canvas.
So I’m gazing out the window and reconciling myself to the fact that I’m just a “Winter Wienie” (smile). You would think hailing from Canada I would perhaps have more Northern blood in me but the simple truth is that I took the bus for years, no, make that decades – and just walked a handful of houses to catch the bus, so I rarely, if ever, drove my car in the Winter weather. I detest the ice – many times when I took the bus, the street was like a skating rink and I was concerned I’d fall and break something and now, years later, an older version of “me” recognizes that a tumble the wrong way on an icy pavement could mean more than a wet butt, holes in the knees of my clothes, a few bruises and a red face from being embarrassed….it could mean a broken bone. So I count down the weeks, and days, until I can go walking again. If Punxsutawney Phil and Woody the Woodchuck, our resident prognosticator here in Howell, Michigan, are correct, we will have an early Spring. That early Spring had better come soon since Easter is on March 31st this year and those little kids will be freezing in their skimpy dresses and little anklets on Easter Sunday. Meanwhile, my walking shoes, pedometer and sweats are ready and rarin’ to go as am I.
Stay tuned for my progress reports when this *&^% snow finally departs…I’m counting the days.