Category Archives: Writing

One Hundred

Pupt pupt pupt Kerrrchchchaaaaa pakkkchhhcchhhrr Cchhhrrrr boom boom boom

Baby is not walking on the keyboard. That is the sound of fireworks exploding (or the world’s least accurate onomatopoeia).

I have written 100 posts in 100 days!

P1030513 (500x310)

Technically I took a few days off when we went camping and when we had family in town visiting. And I took Thanksgiving Day off. But I’m probably the only one keeping track of those sort of discrepancies. My fourth grade teacher always told me I was a “great” writer. Even when I ran into her years later she asked me, “Are you still writing?” and I stammered something about painting and I remember thinking later, “I WAS IN FOURTH GRADE?! How good could the writing really have been?!” For a while, I thought maybe I just peaked in fourth grade. I rolled my eyes through four years of Wesleyan University as an English and Art History major and wrote dozens of papers (maybe even one hundred papers) and nothing I wrote was interesting, witty, educational or memorable. I certainly never wanted to show any of it off. It was an “underachiever” phase and mostly I just wanted to fill up the assigned page quota (8-10 pages on Desmoiselles D’Avignon, 10-12 on The Iliad, 5-7 on Dictee and so forth). I coasted through with minimal effort and a B average. A deeper (or more satirical, depending on perspective) understanding of academics and learning and writing would come years later. I’ve always adored the writing style of a few hilarious authors (P.J. O’Rourke being the best example from that group) and I thought, maybe I can write funny things too. Well victory is mine, because I have succeeded in making people laugh, (O.L!) on more than one occasion. And a real-life published author (Mark Coakley) complimented me on my posts and follows Spy Garden! I must be legitimate! Mrs. Harrison was right!

A real-life friend (she doesn’t have a blog, but if she did it would probably be The Funniest Thing on the Internet) helped me out with my “mission” statement and the About page and things when I first started Spy Garden. I’d send a few ideas and she’d send back comments. She told me, “Don’t forget to enable the comments thing so people can ask you questions.”

And I thought, “Why on earth would I do that? This is my place to ramble and blather and I don’t even know the people who will be reading! Why would I want to interact with complete strangers?”

The “social” part of social media was entirely unfamiliar territory to me. Before Spy Garden I used to say things like:

“Social media is useless.”

And…

“The so-called relationships fostered in social media aren’t ‘real’.”

I thought that online “interactions” were basically useless (or at least something “less”) because they didn’t occur in real life.

While I do agree that a social media “friendship” is not the same as your neighbors who stop over, the friends you sit next to at church or peers at your job, it is a perfectly valid (and awesome!) form of sharing ideas and interests. I thought about in “the olden days” when people may have corresponded by hand written letters across vast distances for months or even years: maintaining relationships through 300 words or less at a time. Were such relationships less significant than of those who spent most every waking moment together? Not necessarily. How we share and express and create and communicate with other people takes many forms. One not necessarily less valid than another. That being said, I still don’t do Facebook. And I’m still technically anonymous in the world of social media. But this does not mean I don’t value the people I’ve “met” in blog-world. So I’d like to give a gracious thank you to everyone who has read my posts. A special thank you to two readers who commented on almost every post in these (long!) 100 days: Fran, your unbridled enthusiasm is contagious. Your comments are so…..well, ENTHUSIASTIC!!! Also thought provoking and insightful (and funny!). Eliza, your comments are warm, encouraging and nurturing. Your appreciation of being present in each moment is always so calming. I’d like for Spy Garden to exude both Fran’s wild, unbridled enthusiasm and Eliza’s serene calm. Thanks for taking the time to comment, you guys are great!

What else have I learned from blog-world in this creative process of vowing to write 300-1000 words every day?

In blog-world, word count isn’t everything. Hamlet for Babies was one of my favorite of the 100 and only 20 or so words were actually mine (the rest were Shakespeare’s). Sometimes an original idea or a set of great photos makes for a great post. Words aren’t always mandatory in blog-world. 100 essays in 100 days was a fantastic exercise for Spy Garden. I highly recommend creating a challenge that suits your individual interests. Exercise every day for 30 days? Vegan for 50? A picture a day for 365? A drawing a day for 75? The possibilities are endless.

I don’t know how other blog hosting sites operate, but I’m really glad I chose WordPress. It is very cool to check out the site view statistics that tell you which countries your viewers came from. In the past 30 days Spy Garden has been viewed in over 50 countries; Norway, Iraq, Mexico, Israel, Sri Lanka, Guam, Japan (to name a few). When bitter winter winds are blowing in Spy Garden, it’s spring in Australia. The global aspect of blog-world always serves me as a good reminder that (in the wise words of Spongebob Squarepants):

“…the world doesn’t revolve around you.” (excerpt from the Spongebob Christmas song)

Hhahahhaha But seriously, I know it doesn’t. So enough about me. Let’s talk about you. I’m looking forward to having a little more time to peruse blog-world and take it easy on the Spy Garden word count for awhile!

80. Progress Report VIII

I’m writing 100 posts in 100 days, 300-1000 words each. To my regular readers: that’s the second to last time you’ll hear that! WoO! Instead of writing how another ten days of writing has changed my thoughts on the creative process, what I’ve learned about blog world, etc. I’m going to use this time of reflection to add to existing posts. In writing a post everyday I often forget to include various details or images in each essay. So here they are, the forgotten points and pictures…

When I quoted The Poetics by Aristotle I forgot to make a joke and link to my How to Write A Sonnet post. But then I put the link in my Mark Twain post so I guess it’s been covered. But I could’ve linked to my limerick too (A limerick accompanying some of the Spy’s great art!)

I also forgot to say something nice about our military on Veterans day (November 11th) or about my husband or the Spy’s late grandfather on the Marine Corps Birthday (November 10th).

1992

1992

1953

1953

In my Pare Down: A Style Story post I didn’t include this little gem:

The contents of Baby’s purse.

The contents of Baby’s purse.

And I forgot to make some sort of bad joke like: shake off your accessories, as the trees drop their leaves. Pare down. Get it???

These pictures were taken back in early August, when I was busy grieving over our late golden retriever and were never posted:

Cicada

Cicada

This bug was there the whole time while my husband engraved her headstone.

This bug was there the whole time while my husband engraved her headstone.

On my Fooding post and my slight rant against foodies and my “ITS JUST FOOD, PEOPLE!”: First of all, jeez, Self, there’s no need to shout! And even though I do find real versions of my “Inspired Lunch” menu to be annoying, sometimes I make up the same sort of recipes myself. I obviously do think food is important.  I think eating a lot of vegetables is very important. Making food pretty and interesting is fun and worthwhile. So poking fun at a “pretentious” menu was meant to be a silly joke. And the fact that such menus often lack self-awareness is what my beef is. Not literal beef. Literary beef. AHHAHAhaha Anyways, some food blogs just seem so very serious. I have no problem making something beautiful and photogenic and intricate and complicated with food. But without a dash of irony or a pinch of humor added, it’s all a bit bland. (A bad pun will do to spice things up if irony or humor are in short supply.)

Quinoa and peas

Quinoa and peas

So obviously I DO post recipes and again half my yard is a garden of edibles so I don’t mean to insult fogs because sometimes they have wicked good ideas. And even the people with a bottomless pit of creative ideas can still garner MORE great ideas from other cooks, chefs and bakers.

 VERY simple, but nutritious and delicious!

VERY simple, but nutritious and delicious!

I just love Baby’s high chair. I got it from someone who knew the original owner, who sat in it as a baby in 1903! So it is minimum 100 years old. Love it. I have posted about it before (Strawberry Snack and Some Indoor Inspirations) but can never say enough great things about this high chair!

Big tree!

Big tree!

This huge tree is not in our yard, but only a couple dozen yards from our property. I’ve walked by it a hundred times but never noticed how big it was before. I think this observation really sums up a lot of what Spy Garden website is about. It’s the same garden. The same little mudlets (Spy and baby) frolicking around the house and yard. But there are always new things to notice and the perspective always changes.

A few weeks ago I posted this story by the Spy:

    A Birthday Story, by the Spy, age eight

    One day there was a boy who was walking in the woods. That boy had his birthday coming up. His parents promised that boy he would get a bb gun for his birthday. At that moment, the boy heard a “grgrgrgr.” He turned around and saw a zombie. He sprinted to his house. When he got to his house he told his parents what happened. When he was done the house was surrounded. He asked his parents if he could open his presents. They said yes. He opened his presents. It was a bb gun. He ran outside like a wild man. He shot every zombie. He stopped and stared. He was smiling. He sprinted to the road and stopped at a 1971 Dodge Charger.

And I forgot to say that at least part of his story came true (back on his actual birthday):

You’ll shoot your eye out kid!

You’ll shoot your eye out kid!

Yesterday, a blustery day. I took other pictures that had nothing to do with the wind so I didn’t post them:

Furniture by Smoochie (my husband):

Fireside Loveseat

Fireside Loveseat

Stump Table

Stump Table

Kid Seat

Kid Seat

And sculpture:

Wood Pile

Wood Pile

ONWARD! 20 posts to go!

ONWARD! 20 posts to go!

78. Leaves and Words

I began raking today. We live on an acre, about a quarter which is wooded. An eighth is the house. An eighth is the garden. So it’s really only half an acre to rake. I like raking.

“Nobody likes raking.” That’s what my husband just said reading over my shoulder.

BAHHAhhahaa I really do! It’s an instant gratification thing. When you begin the ground is a brown and orange textured carpet.

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Immediately stripes of green appear and suddenly I am the Robert Smithson of gardening; creating images of green on the earth that evolve with each sweep of the rake. Farfetched?

photo (500x358)Perhaps. But I’m not really joking. I do like raking. And for the record Mr. Spy likes splitting wood. And who likes doing that?

Baby likes raking too!

Baby likes raking too!

Gusty wind on a warm(ish) fall day: raking is pretty much the ideal activity for this sort of weather. So rake I did (while Mr. Spy split wood).

A leaf angel

A leaf angel

I’m not really eleven feet tall, I shaped the figure by pushing the leaves with my foot. Then I felt that was cheating. But I had just showered and had wet hair so I didn’t really want to lie in the leaves. Then I figured that was a poor excuse. So I made a real leaf angel. But the puppy messed it up before I could take a photo of the real version. Wow great story! Jeez. I wasn’t going to write about raking at all today. I am writing 100 posts in 100 days, 300-1000 words each. For today’s post I was just going to think of a list of 300 words that I liked. Not necessarily the meanings but how they sound. I figured it would be an easy, quick post. However, when I got to 31 words I realized 300 is a lot. To press on I felt I would need to trawl my favorite texts (Aristotle, Shakespeare, etc.) for inspiration…which would sort of defeat the “easy, quick post” objective. Wow, great story! Jeez. Can you tell I am tiring of posting every day?

Here’s the list of words. I do like the meaning of some, but they were all chosen chiefly for their sound.

Obelisk ● Glow ● Loathe ● Wretched ● Toast ● Judicious ● Acerbic ● Ironic ● Ridiculous ● Globe ● Click ● Skip ● Maverick ● Iconoclast ● Goad ● Spur ● Mostly ● Recalcitrant ● Angle ● Ire ● Sort ● Becloud● Sabbatical ● Complex ● Jam ● Form ● Mold ● Sculpt ● Stare● Tackle

And the best for last:

Syntax: Apparently what is required for me to supply 300+ (444!) words.

syn·tax

noun \ˈsin-ˌtaks\

linguistics : the way in which words are put together to form phrases, clauses, or sentences

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syntax