My New ‘Holy Place’

My mind is blank, or blanker, than normal. My desire to post something appears to be stronger than the actual ability to say something of note. I will push forward though, I want to be in my Holy Place.

As I sit on my backyard patio where the desire to post first struck me I can smell freshly cut hay. Across the street from our house, from our backyard, are fields. Some are planted with hay and many are full of orchards. Some are in the midst of construction, of what I’m not sure.

Occasionally I hear our chimes ring out. One set is of a low and church bell-like gong and the other a tinkle and soft sounding note. Both I like, but perhaps they’d best be represented singly, alone in their sounds of breeze. Unfortunately in the complex in which we live they are not allowed in the front yards. Don’t want to upset the neighbours I guess. Chimes are not the only thing banned from the front. Any kind of gew-gaw (always thought it was ‘geegaw’), lawn ornament, name plate, any signs of personality or individuality are frowned upon.

Not that I’m bitter, cuz I’m not. I understand rules but I know there’s always someone willing to break them or at minimum push boundaries. In this case that’s us, but we do it discretely. All our gnomes, pots, trinkets and misc. stuff are placed in such a manner as to….(read more here:)

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Build It, They will Come

I can’t explain it, and maybe it’s foolhardy to try. Can it be so simple as to ‘Build it and they will come’?

The quote is a derivation of the famous quote from the movie “Field of Dreams” and in the show the “it” they are referring to is a baseball field. Kevin Costner, as the central character, builds a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field, in order that dead baseball heroes come back from the hereafter to play.

Field of my dreams
Field of my dreams

The quote used here, in this context, doesn’t relate to any out of world sport. What I’m thinking of here is this blog, these posts. The same posts and blog that often surprise me with readership, and followers. Now not to look a gift horse in the mouth as it were, but I wonder ‘why’?

Call me a cynic but I’m surprised if it’s my exhilarating wordsmithing, or the subject matter. I would like to think (optimistically) that it’s my writing, my style or patter. The whole exercise just makes me go ‘hmmm’ that’s all.

Again being the cynic, the perpetual doubter, I’m drawn to the theory that a number of these followers have a somewhat ulterior motive, perhaps that of drawing attention to their own posts. This technique is oft touted as one to be used to garner more traffic. You know, I will ‘like’ your posts if you ‘like’ mine. Sort of a digital ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’.

And this may often work, just not generally for me. Not at this time anyway. I’m quite sure there are tons of great, even superb, posts out there, many written by my followers, but it’s unlikely I’ll see them as I’m so wrapped up in my own sh** that I have no time nor little energy to read them. Just look at my posting frequency. That’s likely my loss.

So I’ll continue to build my field and if the readers come out of the corn to read and follow then I count my lucky stars. If I build it, will they will come?

Back in the Saddle

I’m back in the saddle, or at least on the horse. The saddle may have to come later.

It was my intent to post something much sooner. I said at the outset of creating this blog that it was my goal to post daily, or close to it. It seems I lied. My post frequency has been closer to weekly, or certainly that’s what it seems anyway. ‘Things’ just get in the way. Poor reason/excuse I know. I haven’t even posted photos for the Weekly Photo Challenge lately (to be honest I’m not even sure what the topic is.

The summer has been proceeding at a pace unforeseen or unexpected to me. In many ways it’s just been a spring and summer that has taken on a schedule that I don’t like. I’ve done numerous trips, by car and within 1000 km (~600 mi.). Some have been for pleasure and a few have been to see or support loved ones in need. That being said, I appreciate that I shouldn’t lament the reasons, and I don’t, it’s the time away from my castle and my ‘stuff’ that I lament. That and my apparent inability to manage my time effectively when I am at home.

One thing you do get is to see a bunch of interesting stuff when you’re on the road. This gent was operating the espresso machine at a coffee shop on the road called “Deadwood Junction and Tarnished Turkey Cappuccino Bar”, one of my favourite haunts while en route to Kelowna or back home from a visit to my grandson.

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You can see it hasn’t been all bad. It’s just that since I retired last year I often feel overwhelmed and under capable to handle my various stresses, most or all self inflicted. Plain and simple I see my world as full of these opportunities and things I want do, and certainly there’s no shortage of things I should do. There’s always cutting the lawn, doing dishes or the laundry, shopping, cooking, washing or maintaining vehicles etc. etc.. Never mind the fun stuff like camping or seeing my grandson.

Woe is me, my life is sooo tough isn’t it. Just smack me upside the head.

Like camping was such a hardship. While I didn’t post much I did do some journaling, and what a view. The photo doesn’t do it justice, albeit this was with my phone.

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Early retirement has provided me with challenges I didn’t see coming. Many people have asked me since I retired “What do you do?”, or “How do you stay busy?”. I just laugh. Life is so full, how do I get to do everything I want to, that’s the question.

So if you have any time management tips, or ways you think may help me in my time of need please let me know. I’d love to hear. In the meantime I’ll mount up and ride into the sunset of my golden years……

I Have to Ask…

Does anyone….sorry that’s kinda negative… how many people really follow a blog for any length of time? I ask because I am quite curious. The question could really be put to any type of social media.

I’ve been blogging for a relatively short period of time in the big picture, lets call it 2 years for arguments sake. Certainly many bloggers/writers have hung in longer, many almost as long as the medium has been available, and my question would also be put to them. Do you know many followers have hung in there for the duration, ie how many of the xxxx number of followers one might have are :

  1. current, still reading/following your blog
  2. real, living, followers, ie not dead links or bogus accounts that somehow slipped through the cracks,
  3. still a follower/subscriber, but never (or seldom) read the posts

When I look it up on my ‘Site Stats’ I have a little under 80 followers listed and yet when I review the list on an a person by person basis a number of them are either invalid sites or no longer show as a current WordPress account. Now I’m not really that hung up on readership numbers, it’s just nice (great) to have people interested in what you say. The only real way I can measure what I’m doing is by the followers or subscribers, or any ‘likes’ or comments. I do essentially write for my own needs but let’s face it peer acknowledgement is better, heck it’s awesome. We all like to have our ego’s stroked.

mappa_blog
mappa_blog (Photo credit: francescopozzi)

While on this topic of readership, the idea of which was sparked by my most recent interest in SEO, I came to think if we can’t trust the number of ‘followers’ how do we really know how well we are doing? Of course if I ask questions in the body of my posts and those are answered by some number of readers I will know immediately if I’m reaching anyone. That’s good blogging (according to most ‘good blogging’ practices), and I know I don’t do that well. Partially that’s due to the type of posts I usually generate (journal entries) and partially because when I do create questions they come off as forced, at least to me. I don’t want my stuff to be forced. So I guess I’m stuck, either ask questions, intelligent questions hopefully, take the number of followers at face value, or just not worry about it.

Hmmm, don’t think ‘not worry about it’ is an option. May be a good idea but it’s not my nature, I’m more the type that’ll perseverate over the smallest thing. Just who I am.

So I’ll dig into it a bit further, try to improve the site(s) to generate more notice, and then ponder the results. I might even throw in a few questions, just to mix it up.

If you do have the answer, or would be kind enough to comment anyway, I’d love to hear what you say. I just have to ask…..

I Came Here to Write

reading, books, SEO, search engine optimization

I have some time, I’m making time, I am waiting for my wife.

We escaped our small town today and ran away to the big city to shop, relax, eat, try and relax, eat, shop.  Something tells me the relaxing part may not come to fruition but likely the others will.

Once we arrived in Spokane our first stop was one of the largest malls in town, good planning or what. I knew it would be a good place to begin, the wife can limp around (another story) perusing all the sales etc. and I can scoot over to Barnes & Noble to look at books, and perhaps do some research.  My current ‘interest’ you see is SEO, otherwise known as Search Engine Optimization.

This interest in SEO maybe a fixation, will likely fade over time.  Heck, it may be gone by the time I leave the store, but it is with me now and with me strong. Seemed the least I could do was write about it.

It began when I read a post written by Lesley Carter at Bucket List Publications called “7 Great Ways to Improve Your Alexa Ratings”. I guess it really didn’t start there, but it was re-inspired when I read her numerous posts on ways to improve hits on your site and increasing your readers and followers. I don’t personally subscribe to that particular SEO service but I have taken part in Google’s Analytics and another service called HubSpot, a web marketing service.

I don’t proclaim to know if one site is better than the next, you’ll have to do the research and find that out for yourself, but the concept is sound I think. If you can improve your site by making small changes, by increasing links or putting the name of your site out there on other sites it can only help. I am just touching on the very basics here and there is certainly much more to it than that.

seo, books, bookstore, learning
All you wanted to know about SEO

So this bring me full circle. Here I am in Barnes & Noble, waiting for my wife and spending time searching the shelves for an appropriate book(s) on SEO.

Unfortunately I quickly become overwhelmed. The sheer number of books (and the cost) takes the wind out of my sails and I rapidly decide I will endeavour to learn most of what I need to know by getting library books and reading free articles on-line. That’s not to say the books aren’t beneficial, only that for me, right now, they are too much and too soon.

So, as the saying goes, if you can’t do something, you can write about it. Here I am, I came to write.

Where Do You Stand on Only 1 Space After a Period?

Where do you fit on the 1 space/2 space spectrum, on how many spaces to insert after a period at the end of a sentence. I must admit, I’m a “two-spacer”, always was and perhaps always will. It’s just the way I am, just the way I’m built.

Now if you count spaces in this post you may see only 1 space after a period, unless I’ve automatically adjusted for the software on my iPhone. You see the phone will automatically insert a period if you double-space at the end of your sentence. Don’t know why, just does.

Sometimes if I’m thinking of it I’ll triple space just to have the period automatically inserted, and have two spaces after that. Dumb I know. If I post from my phone I get single spaces and posting from my pc I get double. How confusing.

So, does it matter? Probably does to some. Here it’s only idle prattle. Kinda the way my mind is working today.

So let me know, are you a single or double spacer? Inquiring minds need to know.

On the Road Again…., Again

I’m leaving on the next train…. Wait, that’s a song title, not my next step. Of course “On the Road Again” is also a song but that more closely reflects what’s about to happen today. It’s also the title of a previous post but that has no real bearing here. That was camping, this is a road trip, by car.

I’ve been away from home for a week now. Really 8 days but who’s counting?  This whole adventure is partly a life experiment and partly an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family I haven’t seen for a while. In my Aunts and Uncles case it could be 20+ years.  I don’t really recall the last time I saw some of them.

The life experiment part is a little harder to explain.  Sometimes it can be a challenge for me to pass information on concisely so I question whether I should try to do so here, but what the heck nothing ventured nothing gained.

It all started back in the summer of ’72…… Well, that may be a bit too far back but it was when I met my wife and she has a bearing on this story.  Fast forward to a more reasonable time period, say earlier this spring (2012) to my retirement and just subsequent to it.

I adapted to the idea of being at home (I think) but there was, and still is, some adjustment required when it comes to my wife and I occupying the same space in the early morning, before she leaves for work.  This hasn’t presented any arguments or ill will but it has stimulated discussion, and that’s a good thing.  Better to talk than yell I think.  Everything they say is true, when one spouse retires it certainly provides challenges for the other, actually both if you think about it.

So to make a long story less long we discussed the option of me taking a bit of a road trip at this time, a time when she is just beginning her school year as a Child car worker and things are already stressful.  There are little side stories to her responsibilities which complicate things further and add to this stressful time but needless to say after talking it out we both liked the idea of me heading out for a while and her having some “alone time” so she can re-adjust to the idea of being back at work.  It was also a good fit for me, because while we were able to travel a lot this past summer there were still places I wanted to go and people I wanted to meet.  The idea of a road trip was a win-win.

To begin this adventure. we both went to Kelowna a week ago last Friday to see our daughter and family.  It was a nice treat because they were going to a wedding out of town and we would be taking over sole responsibility of Madden’s care (new grandson) while they were away.  Our first over-nighter, there first night away from the baby.  We handled the challenge admirably and while my wife wanted to stay a bit longer after the babysitting tour she had to get back home.  I took her to the bus on Sunday afternoon.  She was back to the grind Monday.

I stayed in Kelowna until Tuesday when I left to go to my brothers in the Vancouver area.  We had a really nice visit and I left there Thursday, hopped on the ferry and stopped at our friends house in Saanich to commiserate with them.

20120922-121048.jpgThe rest is history as they say.  I left there this morning and now here I sit, having some lunch and a beer, taking care of some business and leaving shortly to visit a friend for a day or so.  From there I’ll try to connect with my Aunts and Uncles and then perhaps go to the Sunshine Coast for a brief alone time before heading out again.

I’ll endeavour to provide an update, goodness knows my record isn’t the best for posting lately but I’ll see if I can pick up my socks.  Bear with me please.

On a more personal note perhaps I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, emotionally.  I don’t feel depressed, or at least most of the times I don’t.  I still struggle with understanding if the issue is really depression or just pronounced mood swings.  Maybe I’ll get smarter as I age.  Time will tell.

Perhaps this road trip will also be an opportunity for me to learn more about myself.  I often hear people say “I know so much more about myself now”, or “I want to learn who I am”.  Although I aspire to acquire this knowledge to date it’s escaped me.  I really don’t know what more I can learn.  I think I’m an open book but perhaps I’ve not read every chapter.  I hope the road can tell me.

Coffee, With a Capital C

20120810-091635.jpg

20120810-091635.jpgWhen I saw the results of this photo’s manipulation I thought Coffee, but not really coffee as the drink, although that what it is, but the stimulating results of Coffee.  Perhaps it’s the result of too much coffee, the edginess you might get, the effect you might see where Colors are Heightened and your Perceptions only appear Sharper.  That kind of Coffee.  The too much Caffeine capital C Coffee.

I don’t necessarily see or feel that this morning.  My morning brew today is conjured up using decaf grounds so I wouldn’t experience such things.  I have found the capital C Coffee to be counterproductive.  It does NOT help my mood.  Necessary at times but not today.

I struggle still this morning with the doldrums of past days.  I question whether to even write or journal about it as it sounds like so much whining.  I consider posting to another blog of mine, one that is private and not for public consumption.  I consider not writing at all.  None of these options bears fruit at this time.

I come back to my original intent of this venue.  It was to communicate how I was feeling, what progress if any I have been making along my journey.  It might mean something to someone, or help them along their way.  Isn’t that what we all want, to help someone else?

I must admit in some cases that journey may have been obscured by fancy writing or stories of humor and light heartedness.  There have been stories of Dad or perhaps family tribulations with other members.  All along though it should reflect where I am on my path, on a road where the way is marked by colors and light or one where the ruts along the way are bouncing me from side to side.  One where my full attention is spent solely maneuvering my way through the myriad of obstacles, trying to stay on the road.

So I don’t know where the road will end.  This particular section of the trip seems to be more challenging but as always I will survive, and along the way try to learn something.  Maybe you can learn something too.

Blogging Adventures

I never appreciated how complicated, yet so simple, something like a blog can be.  I’m sure the designers have an appreciation for the complexity etc. and I figured I’d have it figured out in a snap, but such is not the case.

In an effort to improve the looks of my blog I felt some changes were needed.  Perhaps a theme change, some posts re-organization, and category creation would be beneficial. I’ll rewrite my “About” page and just generally update things. To streamline the process and minimize any collateral damage I thought that creating a second blog and making changes to it would be the key.  That way I should be able to learn the various processes of making any changes, see them in action, and hopefully not destroy or delete any original posts that have collected over the past year or so.  For the most part that was how it went down.

After creating the second blog in the theme I desired I felt I needed a good selection of posts/categories/pages etc to play with.  To generate this quickly (it’s all about fast don’t you know) a wholesale importing of another blog would be required. It seemed like this blog would be a perfect candidate as it was the one I wanted to change anyway, so I read through the various WordPress instructions on “Importing blogs”, followed the steps, and badda bing badda boom we were off to the races.

Before I go any further I have to say the documentation I found was excellent, if anything went wrong it’s only because I failed to read about it, or I did read the info but was to arrogant to actually “read” it and just skimmed over the highlights.  That is certainly one of my character flaws.

So the “test” blog now has the new theme, has all my copied posts/comments etc., and I’ve played with the categories and created new menu items.  Did you know you could convert a tag into a category and visa versa?  Too cool.  Made organization a breeze and made it easier to find posts on certain topics.  To whoever invented that my hat goes off to you.

I think I’m pretty much done with my testing now and ready to go whole hog on the original blog.  Unfortunately I’ve realized after the fact that in the original set up of this blog I renamed some pages, such as the Home page, and it has created some potential wrinkles.  Before I go much further I will have to see if I can undo my change and try to get back more to the original structure.  Not a biggy but when I made the original change I didn’t appreciate any potential implications, specifically the blog opens up to “About Me” instead of the primary posts page.

At any rate I’ll do a bit more concerted studying and then make my changes.  I hope I don’t lose anyone in the process.  Hang in there.