my blogging has really been waning lately, so i’m trying to make a point of blogging daily again for a bit. maybe it’ll work; maybe it won’t. but i kind of miss blogging every day – making a deliberate choice to sit down in front of a keyboard and putting thoughts to screen.
i also have been feeling like a slob lately when it comes to writing, so another reason. with my devil’s syrup book pretty much done (for now, until i get some input from ANYONE who’s willing to read it – i’ll take anyone), it seems writing’s taken a back burner. i’ve been making my way through my reading stack pretty well, but that’s not quite the same.
so back to the blogging board. i really want to take my laptop to SD and blog every day, but i’m not sure that’ll happen for sure. (the blogging part; not the taking the laptop part.)
so, expect to see more regular updates. and if you don’t see them, send me a note and tell me to get my but in gear.
(i was going to correct that but to butt, then realized that the one-T but was more than appropriate as well, so it stays.)
(seriously, download and read my devil’s syrup novella memoir. i want feedback and input on what else i can add in there so it’s NOT novella length!)
when you wake up early on a saturday and jump in the car to go somewhere, and it’s almost summertime or it IS summertime, and the sky is blue, the sun is bright, and maybe there are big, puffy white clouds in the sky, and you for some reason are driving away from the sunrise, and the windows are down, and the morning air is a little chilled but not too chilled, and the tires are humming the pavement beneath you, and the road is before you, it might be time to travel.
I-90 swings across the bottom of the state. when i tried to sleep at night with the windows open while growing up, the hum of truckers and travelers whizzing past austin, mn, lulled me to sleep. now the freeway calls me to travel. i hop on and think, hmm, what if i just keep going…
the hopeful part of me gets wildly optimistic when we get the first few nice days of weather in the year. what is it about sudden 60º weather that grabs minnesotans’ attention and drags it to the outdoors? the small, green buds? the sun’s, which has been subdued and southerly for six months or so, trip north and lengthy day stays? the warmth? the combination of events excites every single person. maybe talking about the weather is a cop-out conversation piece, but here? it’s the number one thing on our minds, especially during seasons’ changes.
but to understand this, you have to understand upper midwest winters.
around september and october, we start to notice the sun’s early setting times. the weather gets a little chilly. this is fine, especially if, like me, you enjoy autumn.
then it gets cold. and the leaves are off the trees. the ground turns brown. then the snow comes, and while it’s pretty, it does make everything pretty stark looking: white snow with black tree limbs dotting the countryside. the wind blows. snow swirls. it gets so cold that it’s hard to breathe. your nostrils glue shut because it’s so cold.
there are some plusses: you get to ski and ice skate and sled. christmas is pretty nice. sometimes when the snow is falling, it’s so silent you can hear it.
but after a while, it just gets oppressive. february is so dark and cold, and the sun barely peeks through the entire month. it’s been so cold for so long, it seems like winter is never going to end. was there ever a time when i wore short sleeves outside? who knows?
so when it starts to peek above 30º, we northerners get a little anticipatory. above 40º? looking good, but we don’t want to get our hopes up. 60º in march? we’re downright giddy. then april comes, and trees start to bud out, and there are days above 70º, and the air starts to smell like dirt, and if you’re like me, the smell of mud and manure brings thoughts of spring, and the ground starts to get squishy, and birds flock back, and oh my goodness the frogs are croaking like CRAZY, …. and april, being april, sinks us back to freezing for a couple days just to let us know who’s boss.
may, on the other hand…
my blog-posting year was an almost success. i took a break over some vacation time, and i missed a couple days. overall, however, i made it a priority to post at least SOMETHING every day last year.
i’ve heard from a couple people that they really enjoyed kablpoye, but a couple people does not a trend make. if you’re reading this, i’d love to know if you liked kablpoye or if you’re like, “meh.”
basically, should i continue writing every day? will you read it? what do you want to see?
this is going to be a blog post about blogging. how meta.
i went to the minnesota blogger conference today and learned stuff about blogging. here are the top takeaways i got from the conference.
1. your blog post needs to be at least 300 words for google to index it. not 280. not 299. 300. THAT is the biggest thing i learned, and i believe the most useful for work, where i just started a news blog. the more we can get out on google, the better.
2. another useful thing i learned that i will apply to work: it can take at least 9 months for a blog to really take off. i’ve gotten more than one comment about how no one’s reading the blog (they are) and it’s useless (can’t say that yet!) so why are we bothering? if we are still getting the numbers we are getting now, which are not horrible (the most read post is 500 views), then i will put a kibosh on it.
3. i found out a useful wordpress plugin that gives a calendar view of posts versus a listing.
4. a personal thought process from novice to expert: “this is neat. -> i might be good at this. -> i’m a _______.”
5. find 6 characteristics you value and use them as a filter for everyone and everything you work with. does content serve your audience? does your content fit your values? don’t dilute your message with extraneous crap. be the guardian leader of your blog. *
6. be the best answer. what can i be the best answer for? what is it i’m best at? what do i want to be known for?
* what are my 6 values?
1. eat well, but remember to eat socially as well.
2. pay attention – beauty is in places you least expect.
3. be cynically optimistic. or optimistically cynical.
4. it’s ok to be excited about weird stuff.
5. be an environmentalist. we only have one earth.
6. still working on this one!
in one of my earlier memories of autumn, it is after school, and i am walking by aunt mary’s house in austin. it must be magazine selling time at our school because that’s the only reason i can think of to explain why i am in that neighborhood.
my sneakered feet kick through piles of orange and brown leaves covering the sidewalks, making the leaves fly up against my bare legs.
on a recent run, the fallen leaves were pushed to the sides of the streets that i pound my feet on, and suddenly i felt like kicking through leaves. i veered to the left and kicked up the leaves with my once-again sneakered feet.
the st. john’s campus is beautiful to begin with, but then you add in fall, and it turns transcendent. when you walk from the bus stop to the classroom buildings, the lawn stretching out in front of the quad, the air just crisp enough, the overwhelming presence of trees, it’s like you are home.
there is a tree in front of simons hall that turns brilliant orangey-red. students dwell under it, kick up its fallen leaves, play guitar underneath. it’s known as the god tree.
but wander to the woods and the hue turns to yellow. the trails in the woods meander over hills and along lake sagatagan out to the chapel. all along, you feel like you are floating through a yellow wonderland.
when i dream of universities and colleges, it is some variation of st. john’s, not my alma mater.
i listed my tree photo on etsy. i wrote this for the description: In Southeastern Minnesota, the fields go on forever, like looking at a sea of waving green. The cornfields hedge you in on your drives on country roads, while the soybeans take a more forgiving approach with their crouching stance in the field dirt.
When fall comes, the corn leaves turn brittle and combines roam the fields in straight lines, sucking up what it needs. The soybeans turn from green, to yellow-green, to brown, the bean pods slowly losing their moisture as the air turns crisp and the nights swallow the daylight. ‘Tis the loaming.
the best thing i ever read written by a peer was a story in the annual csb/sju artist and writer publication, lower stumpf lake review. the last essay in the book of black and white art projects and senior creative writing poems was a long-ish essay about a 22-year-old and his car, which he affectionately named blue balls. i was so enamored by the story that i sent it to my dad to read, despite the questionable name of the car.
i have since striven to write to that level. the only thing i know that could possibly come close is my tale of a porta-potty, which i rank as one of my best pieces of writing.
the thing is, i haven’t read blue balls’ story in years. perhaps the level or writing is not as great as i remember, or maybe the content was what really grabbed me, as it revolved around roadtrips.
i got a subscription to national geographic from liz for christmas last year, which i really enjoy. as such, i read a lot about climate change, which is freaking me out (we’re going to lose the loon in MN and the current drought in the southwest is a huge thing – huge), but what i really like to read are the stories about places i’d like to go. this latest issue had an essay and photo essay on chernobyl, one place that really intrigues me. i’d like to go to machuu picchu some day. europe fascinates me.
i’d love to go to these places, but the money issue is a huge factor. i can barely scrape enough cash together to go to the black hills this spring (which i am NOT complaining about! ha!).
so i sit here and think, what did i spend my money on that i could have saved instead to take me to ukraine to check out the radioactive ruins? stuff for my house. a garden in the back. hopefully a deck next spring.
i’m really a homebody, when it comes down to it. i love going places, visiting people, thinking about where to travel; but nothing beats walking in your red door at the end of it all and being in the place where you spend the majority of your time.
literally, just now, i tromped downstairs to my three boxes of yet unpacked books where i knew i would find the blue balls story. true enough, “blue balls, rambo, and the open road” by john steingraeber in 1998.
(i had done a prodigious search online to no avail. apparently searching “blue balls csb sju” will result in some weird, science-y faculty blogs.)
he speaks of his navy VW rabbit (“blue”), truck stops, wall drug, and the road. it’s lovely.
“and maybe, dear reader, maybe i’ll swing by your house, because the road never ends – you just have to figure out how to get around the place where it stops.”
may we all have a blue; better yet, may we all have a place to park blue.
a publisher in rochester puts out a women’s magazine, and my mom was looking at the most recent issue yesterday when she told me i should submit something.
so, i looked in the mag and saw they only had directions for hard-copy submissions, so i emailed the contact. she got back to me straight away, asking me where i hailed from, and then to send something.
i wonder if she’s needing writing?
anyway, i’m wondering what i should submit! oh my. i think it can be any length. i’ve got to go back and search through old blog posts.
i just wrote these couple paragraphs for the last chapter of my DS book!
This part of the state is a contrast in land studies. On the one hand, there are flat expanses that open the sky up to a driver with few trees dotting the horizon. Sunsets are vast and pastel. Fields are large, but there are more owners than west central; farmhouses crop up often and are easy to spot with the small cluster of trees close to the roadside. There are far fewer trees in this part of the state, and once you’ve gotten used to trees, it’s hard to go back.
When a person heads in a more southeasterly fashion toward the Wisconsin/Iowa/Minnesota intersection, the river valley rears its head, and valleys dip in and out of existence. One minute you’re driving across a flat expanse of corn-riddled farms and the next you’ve pushed on the brakes as you head into a rolling valley filled with trees with a river at the bottom. Nate and took a drive to a valley town during July, and as we drove along the ridge of the valley, we could see the rolling hills and trees – over the tops of corn fields.
“This would be a whole lot prettier if there weren’t so much effing corn,” he observed. Truer words and all that.