… made its debut one decade ago, on February 11, 2013, so it is time for me to EMBRACE it with this post. What better time to choose to write about your PASSION and labor of LOVE, than in conjunction with the day of hearts a/k/a VALENTINE’S DAY?
A little lookback, a half-century ago (gulp).
After eighteen years of schooling, from kindergarten through college graduation, undoubtedly the class that had the most impact and value for me, was one taken way back in 9th grade, circa 1969. This was a typing class. I believe it was only girls that took this class, as I vividly remember Mrs. Miller, an old-biddy schoolmarm, walking around the room, not just to ensure we sat up straight, fingers precisely poised on the “home keys” but she was adamant that our youthful fingers remained unadorned during her class. Oh … dainty rings were allowed, but back then, the style was clunky, junky and funky-looking rings to be worn on multiple fingers.
So, Mrs. Miller went up and down the aisles to ensure all gaudy jewelry was removed before we even rolled our paper into the platen and began that day’s lesson. Yes, no jewelry would impede our cadence in her class if she had anything to say! So the offending “jewels” were removed and placed in a neat pile next to the typewriter while we pounded out “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” over and over to build up our typing speed.
In later years, with Mrs. Miller long gone and Yours Truly immersed in the workplace, bangle bracelets that banged incessantly on the desk, or charm bracelets laden with trinkets, guaranteed to dangle onto the typewriter keys, or catch onto the platen knob, were problematic, but hey – if you wanted to be stylish, you just dealt with that conundrum, but never removed the jewelry.
Those of you that have never used a manual typewriter can’t fathom what I’m saying. Word processors and wonderful wraparound text was eons away. So, there was a certain rhythm to your typing. You, of course, are used to the featherlight touch of a computer keyboard, but before electric typewriters came on the scene, the manual typewriter required clippin’ along and swinging the carriage return when the bell dinged to signal you were nearing the end of your paper. And, if you were “in the zone” i.e. typing feverishly at top speed, you had to watch your “Ps” and “Qs” because Heaven forbid a long fingernail would embed itself somewhere in between those raised-up keys.
Aah, the good old days (and I won’t even get into how we corrected our spelling boo boos, the misery of calculating footnotes at the bottom of your page and the most-dreaded of all … multiple copies using carbon paper.)
So, in the grand scheme of things, algebra and geometry, the nonsensical diagramming of sentences, or the dreaded dissecting of a frog or fetal pig, were hardly instrumental in my post-education, day-to-day life, but typing … well I wouldn’t be writing this post had I never learned to type!
So, now that we have dispensed with this preamble about the benefits of typing in my formative years, without further ado, I shall now pat myself on the back for my 10th anniversary of beginning WALKIN’, WRITIN’, WIT & WHIMSY.
It’s been quite an evolution this past ten years.
Simply put, I love this quotation by the author of “Little Women” but I didn’t always feel enamored about my blog, especially at the beginning.
Most of you that have followed my posts for a while know how and why I began this blog on a snowy weekend back in February 2013. My mom passed away in 2010 and I had been laid off, a casualty of the Great Recession. After I was hired back part-time in June 2011 and working from home, I realized sitting for hours hunched over the laptop at the kitchen table, then hours more catching up on social media every evening, was taking its toll on my body. Hours of barely moving, with my only exercise of gardening/yardwork and housework, plus, because heart disease runs in the family, I began a walking regimen at Labor Day 2011. My walks grew longer in the various ‘hoods and often expanded to the River’s Edge Marina in Ecorse, where that four-mile morning meander included crossing multiple sets of railroad tracks.
Marge, my neighbor and friend, marveled at my miles racked up and cautioned me to be careful, especially about the railroad track crossings, where I’d look both ways, then sprint across all the tracks. Sometimes, while homeward bound, I didn’t time the train right and stood, tapping my toe for up to a half-hour while it rumbled past me. One day Marge e-mailed me “why don’t you let me know when you’re back from your walk so I know you returned safely?” So I did so as soon as I was online again..
Then Marge encouraged me to tell her what I saw on my ramblings. I accommodated this request as well, sometimes regaling her with a funny tale of birds or squirrels along the way, or people I had chatted-up in my daily travels. Soon Marge was forwarding e-mails of blogs she subscribed to and
bugged encouraged me incessantly to write about my adventures and misadventures in a blog. I had never kept a journal as a school exercise or on my own and I certainly didn’t count my pink, pre-pubescent diary with its laughable entries from years before, so I really wasn’t interested and told her so. But Marge was persistent and, because I valued our friendship, I gave her a half-hearted “okay” and set about finding a platform to use for this “blog thing” I had reluctantly agreed to. I chose WordPress from the get-go.
After drafting a 2,162-word post …
… about entering the Blogosphere, which I labored over that snowy weekend, I e-mailed it to Marge for her “approval” … “yes, yes!” she said (probably thinking if she said “no” or “I don’t think so” I’d abandon this venture she had thrust upon me). I picked the easiest WordPress theme and my blog began.
February in Southeast Michigan is nothing to write home about, or to write about either. The snowy Winter weather persisted and boots and a shovel became the norm and walking became a distant memory for the time being. With no walks to provide fodder for my blog, I posted a few quotes and half-heartedly eked out a few posts about Winter weather. I would not publish another walking post until March 24th, wherein I whined about the weather and my lack of miles. It took a couple of months before I found my stride, both literally and figuratively, as finally wintry weather waned.
I decided my blogging style would be one short paragraph and a one-word title and, while returning from that day’s walk, I felt the narrative bubbling around in my brain and I’d sometimes struggle for the one perfect word to describe the walk.
Expanding my horizons.
Marge, my first and only subscriber for a looooong time, was happy to receive my tidbits from the trail and then she wanted me to kick it up a notch and
strongly nicely suggested I submit my blog to “The Wyandotte Patch” a hyperlocal news site. “Patch” had hyperlocal sites across the nation, all owned, at that time, by AOL. Once again, to appease my friend, I did so and yes, they were happy to have me aboard. I remained there until a few years ago when they changed their platform and picture format i.e. photos could only be horizontal, a certain size and had to be displayed using a gallery style and that did not work out with my picture-laden posts.
Next, Marge relentlessly
pushed encouraged me to apply to the Downriver newspaper “The News Herald” to appear on their blogroll. I reported to Marge that they were going to link to my blog as well and she was ecstatic. I was too to be honest. I got a few comments and views directed from the various online newspapers under the umbrella of Digital First Media. The new editor of “The News Herald” (Jason Alley) had previously been the editor of “The Wyandotte Patch” and he had once done an interview about me as he found it amusing I walked more miles than I drove. Here is the interview if you care to read it.) I remained at that publication until just a few months ago. The newspaper went to a paywall in 2022 and while the community blog forum was still available to read for free, I was no longer comfortable detailing my rather predictable walking schedule in this age of crime, so I e-mailed Jason and asked to be removed. To be fair, someone reading about mischievous squirrels and strolling herons, was an unlikely burglar, but ….
It was serendipity that I discovered Council Point Park.
Considering my all-time favorite nature nook is about a mile from my home, how did it take me so long to discover it? I will say I am richer for the experience, but poorer from the peanuts I have doled out over the years. It is all worth it though. I long ago decided on no more pets due to the grief factor, so who doesn’t want to have 50 squirrels and an assortment of birds greeting them as they begin on the perimeter path? Not to mention an adoring (or would that be an adorable??) Parker, my furry friend pictured below.
I heard a story on the radio touting an event at this venue commemorating the 250th anniversary of Chief Pontiac’s council which convened on April 27, 1763 at this location along the Ecorse Creek. There would be teepees and birchbark canoes, so a “must-see” event to blog about, right?
That morning I discovered a gem and I don’t mean the event festivities. A little nature nook tucked away in a residential area with lots of geese and ducks on land and in the water. Squirrels aplenty were scampering around near my feet. I came home, heady with the joy that comes from any nature outing and I knew before my next visit, I was going to the grocery store for peanuts to toss to my new furry friends.
Into the wild we go …
I was writing more and often using “Dollar Photo” for images (a buck for each image) to match my posts which were primarily walks to/from the Park and around each one-mile walking path and, with images so readily available, it was easy to crank out a post and publish it the same day (unlike now when I am almost eight months behind blogging about Summer treks). Silly me had not heard about free online photos – I finally got smart a few years later and the rest of the time I used my 4X zoom digital compact camera.
Marge and I went on a few car trips to her favorite local venues on weekends when I had more time and, although frivolous, I bought a second compact digital camera with 12X zoom power and began going on longer treks and taking lots more photos. I still have that camera and it has served me well while taking thousands and thousands of images.
So, in retrospect, Marge was instrumental, not only in encouraging me to start this blog, but I learned to love photography all over again, like I once did when I used to travel in the 70s and early 80s.
Mixin’ and minglin’ while raising $$ for a good cause.
In 2017 I did my first 5k run/walk event. It was held at Council Point Park and was a lot of fun. Since then I have done about a dozen more 5k events; this is the swag from some of them.
As of now, I have booked two 5K events for 2023: “Run for the Trees” and “Fish & Loaves Happy Soles 5K Run/Walk/Bike”. They can be done in person or virtually; for now, I am participating at a venue of your choice within a designated time frame.
I never really thought about the “Blogosphere” as a place to share my thoughts.
Why? Because I was merely writing for my own enjoyment. I look back now and wonder why I was not interested in interacting with other bloggers within WordPress. I enjoyed interacting in a Facebook group of fellow “Patch” bloggers from across the country. But we never commented on each other’s posts per se; we merely shared our most-recent post(s), then commented amongst ourselves in our blogging group.
My friend Ann Marie was the only other person who commented on my blog both before and after Marge’s passing in August 2017. We met at Council Point Park, but she moved to another city, so we haven’t walked together for a while.
Finally, in November 2017, a fellow WordPress blogger with the moniker of “Uncle Tree” commented on a post I wrote about trees and I rather naively asked him how he found me? The rest is history. I have taken screenshots as my followers steadily grew through the years and there were spikes and sometimes lots of views, likely for nature-related tales. Here’s a quick rundown of that journey …
… but please don’t let those numbers above fool you. In reality, there are probably 25-30 bloggers I routinely interact with and some more than others.
My last follower was Linda Lou – we visited each other’s blogs after fellow blogger Ally Bean circulated her 2023 Blogroll and suggested we visit a new blog and “introduce yourself by saying: ‘Ally Bean sent me.’”
If you will please indulge me in one more stat …
This is post #1,800. In the Fall of 2022, I computed I’d likely get to this #1,800 stat by my blogiversary with my normal weekly posting schedule of Mondays and (Wordless) Wednesdays. Woo-hoo, I made it!
I have written plenty of words here today and have plenty more words left to say as I write about my joy in the journey. If you made it all the way to here, thank you. Yes, ol’ Bill Shakespeare said “brevity is the soul of wit” so I hope this long post does not make me witless!?
[Photos of the WordPress Scrabble and vintage typewriter and keys are from Pinterest]