Friday, March 1, 2013

Blogging for Ballast

Claudia...glanced at her watch with satisfaction. It was only ten o'clock, the beds were made and lunch was ready, except for frying the bacon. It seemed that the more one used of a day, the more of a day there was to use.
(Young Claudia by Rose Franken)

Think of that! To have the housework done by ten o'clock--in the morning, that is.

Not going to happen if you sit down at your computer in the morning, not for me, it's not. If I sit down to check my blog, i.e., comments left for me and then email to answer those comments and then visiting those blogs first to leave comments on their blogs and then just a peek at other blogs with new posts so I can leave comments on theirs...would you look at the clock! Two hours have passed. How did that happen? And the energy I had for housework when I got out of bed, where did that go? Well, the title wasn't Young Claudia for nothing. Rose Franken didn't name her book Old Claudia, did she? 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness....

(Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities)

Pardon me, I thought we were discussing blogging here...Oh, that's right we were discussing blogging.

When I began to blog it was to be for three reasons. First was to express the love I have for houses. Houses and stories of the people who live in them. Not a house blog like so many charming ones that feature pictures of beautiful houses, although I dearly love to look at them. Not even a house blog showing the blogger's own house, although I have probably tried to do that much too much. R.H. and I are older householders and while I don't think we're stuck in a time warp, which can be a trap for older people, there really doesn't seem to be a classification for our "style." It has derived mainly from having to use what we already owned into the colorful, cozy, cluttered look that we like, along with some gee-whiz-let's-try-this-look-for-a-change decor choices.

No, my first desire to blog was to share (surely there's got to be a better word than the overdone share, but I can't think of it right now) the rooms and houses I've fallen in love with in books, the alternate world I live in. 

The second reason I began to blog was to record the beauty of this secluded valley where we are blessed to live and the simple things of our life here at Valley View. This was to be a joint project with R.H. who, new camera in hand, would make these pictures possible. The blog also wandered away of its own volition to include family history that kept popping up in our minds or that I came across in my old journals.

Then there is that third reason for blogging. I wanted my children, someday, to know who it was they were going to be burying. You didn't read that wrong. Part of the reason I wanted to start blogging was so that my children would someday know who they were burying, because I often felt that they did not have a clue. 

Have you every felt that way?

Here is one of Elizabeth Berg's characters speaking in The Pull of the Moon:

He said, I remember when my mother went through her change. For a while, I think for a whole year, she acted crazy as hell. She was all depressed and weepy--used to lock herself in the bathroom and wouldn't come out. I don't know what she was doing in there, but it was bad, we had only one bathroom and six kids. But then, all of a sudden, she was done with that. She launched herself into a new life where she felt she could say the hell with anything she didn't like, and by God, she did say the hell with anything she didn't like. She quit making dinner unless she wanted to, and she wanted to only about once a week. She wore these turquoise pedal pushers almost every day, big hoop earrings. She was really different, and at first this scared me, but then I realized I liked her better. She became a real person to me. She was interesting. After my father died, she moved into a small house that was entirely her. And she was happy, I swear until the day she died. We knew exactly who we were burying.

Think of that! Wouldn't you sometimes, once in a blue moon, want to be like her? I would, but there's just one problem. Believe it or not, I'm a tad too nice to be saying "the hell with that" too often. Turquoise pedal pushers and big hoop earrings? Probably not but maybe a variation of Jenny Joseph's "When I am old I will wear purple" lines. That sounds doable. And one of my when-I-am-old moments these last two weeks of NOT blogging has been to reassess what I want blogging to be like for me in the future. I cannot make blogging a business, never intended to. I discovered blogs about a year and a half before I began to blog and during that time I visited them for enjoyment, inspiration, often for motivation, and also purely for the good company. I lost some of that lately. Instead I found myself trying to visit as many blogs as possible and leave comments. It took hours of my day, a necessity I was told, if you want to build your blog. Time required for that, ladies and gentlemen. Lots of valuable time.

So, no more attempting to build my blog. I will go back to what it was meant to be, I hope, and limit my time doing it to allow me the time I need to keep my house in reasonable shape, spend the time needed in the office of our family business, and still give me time to enjoy family and my passion for reading and the scribbling I've done for years about families from the 1840s to the 1950s, these secret families whose characters have become as real to me over the years as family.

I hope to post once or sometimes twice a week--much shorter posts than this one, I promise--and spend two or three nights a week visiting my blog friends purely because I love visiting them and seeing what they're up to in their house, their garden, their family, their beloved pets. I will try to leave thoughtful comments to encourage them and exchange emails with those who have become friends.

I realize that blogging may be something entirely different for others, and I do offer this word of encouragement for women from the pen of Catherine Drinker Bowen from an article she wrote in 1937 in Woman's Home Companion--and this lady knew whereof she was speaking:

I urge women, young women, to find out now what they can do and enjoy best, and do it all during those busy years of motherhood, if only for ten minutes a day. Or if they cannot do it for ten minutes, then let them think about doing it...We need it as ballast for our emotions, as wings for that individuality which we abandoned during our busy happy sacrificial years. Begin at twenty or earlier, if you are lucky enough to have found your bent and your talent then. Nor need it be talent. Taste, inclination, curiosity, interest--any of these is enough.

Catherine sounds like a smart cookie to me. If blogging gives you this ballast or is a means of sharing (Help! another word, please!) the loves and talents you have, then what an amazing thing blogs are and no doubt a huge reason for their popularity today. How much of your life that blogging consumes is something that has to be examined personally and periodically. I have read several posts lately where some smart cookies are doing just that. Good for them!

Blogging can be "the best of times and the worst of times" and it can also be valuable ballast.


  1. Oh my goodness, true, true and true. I have had ONE click on any of my ads in the last two months, so just an absolute JOKE to have ads, and they may go away this week. Didn't put them on there to earn money, we have more than enough... put them on there because I thought people would like them. Our purpose always has been the journal of our lives, and I think I'll go back to just that. So good to see you, and another good post!

  2. Perfect...and your watches remind me to get my mom's watch (circa 1950's - I was born in '51) out and get it up and running again so I can wear it! However often you post, I'll enjoy reading what you write...

  3. Dewena, Wow!! So true and powerful!! You are one wise women!!

    Blogging is fun, but oh yeah It can take up some serious time. Just last night my husband asked me why I didn't watch soaps any more my reply was "Who does these days when we women have computers for blogging"

    For me it isn't about the amount of followers I get or the number of comments that doesn't bother me. I do it for fun, and to be honest with you Dewena I also do it because my grammar isn't the greatest, so I use this to sort of practice grammar skills. As weird as that may sound it is so true.. I don't care if no- one reads my blog as long as I know I am practicing... Believe it or not sometimes I go over my preview about 500 times!!

    There are bloggers who post everyday, I don't know how they do it?.. That would be total torture for me, so I blog about once a week because one post takes me one Saturday morning...then during the week I go visit maybe 5 blogs and leave a comment.. I don't allow myself to get wrapped in it all day.. I am a clean freak and I have get this house cleaned and dinner ready by 5pm.

    I love your honesty Dewena I truly do!!! I hope you take a break between posts and do what you want...
    This is only for fun!!
    sending you a big hug!! Xo Marissa.

  4. Dewena,

    This was an amazing post. So heartfelt.

    I took that avenue to building a large blog with my old one. I spent way too much time on the computer and it took up a huge bite of my life.

    One day I just stopped.....I rested and started another much smaller blog with probably one tenth the traffic. I am happier. I blog for myself.

    You will find your own path....I truly, truly think YOU have so much to give.

    Blessings to you!


  5. such beauty. in thought. in word. in picture.
    the first quote is from a character in books that i literally lived in when i was a girl . . .
    the 'claudia' books! how i loved them.
    the old classic watches are a perfect foil for these wonderfully wise thoughts.
    time. gold. age. value. and in the end ~ timelessness.
    you have touched me today.
    and that is the very best thing about blogging.
    you never know when it will happen or to whom ~ but it is a gift to receive it!
    thank you!
    tammy j

  6. Dewena,

    Well said! Well said! I have only been blogging 2-3 months and I realize that my reasons for it are so similar to what you have written. I have several times asked my kids (aged 40 and 35) "Did you read my blog this week?", because one of the reasons I do it is for them. Usually the answer is "Oh !! I'll have to check that out." I blog and Rita, my wife, does genealogy. We have remarked so many times that we wish we could ask our parents this or that about the past. Why is it that we wait until they're gone?

    So, hopefully, my blog will help my kids know "who they are burying" someday.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts!


  7. so good to see you back, Dewena. I can really relate to all your comments today. Especially the part about our children not really knowing us. My two sons don't read my blog and really aren't interested in all my decorating and crafty ideas. But I hope someday they will get to know me through my daily journal. Blogging does take up time, especially if you do it every day. And I, like you, spend hours just going from my favorite blogs one after another. I can't get enough of these talented and inspiring women. But there are books to read, and other things to do and it's not good to be obsessed (especially like me with my new ipad). But your blog is one I will continue to find time to read. So please, enjoy your time away from the computer and know whenever you want to we will be here to read your interesting words. And enjoy your great pictures. Peggy from PA

  8. This is a great post, Dewena.

    I am back to about three posts per week, after the whirlwind January post a day. The Back Porch is my little go to place for myself. It takes me away, just like Calgon.

    I never was into growing my blog. I like it just the way it is. I don't need to be doing anything to add to our already very busy and sometimes stressful retirement years.

    I applaud your decision.
    Enjoy our weekend.

  9. Blogging is what you want it to be. So many struggle with that. You can make it be anything you want. I don't do advertising. I don't care how many followers I have, but thankful that I do have some that listen to me, hah. I have ment so many really sweet people. I don't live in a fancy house. Mine is like yours, cozy. I am in real life how I am on my blog. BUT, I spend way too much time on blogging. I do need to figure that out soon. Great post.

  10. Great thoughts Mom. I always enjoy reading what you have to say you always give me something to think about. Oh , and one of my favorite Star Trek quotes "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" other Trekkers will think so too.

  11. Oh Dewena, You are so wise. That was the very EXACT reason I started my children would know who they were burying. I wanted them to know my thoughts and why I bought things and did things etc. Then when I got into it and started making kindred spirit friends, I said..Aw,the "heck" with them. lol. It's my outlet. For some reason I feel the need to create and share, always have. It's my therapy.

  12. Sometimes around October I started blogging more regularly, Mon.-Friday. Before that I was barely blogging once a week, and there were weeks (months) where I didn't blog at all.

    I find that I am having more fun now that I'm blogging more, lol!

    I was struggling with the blog reading and commenting thing, which is enjoyable but time consuming.

    Now I have what you have, the ability to reply right on my blog. Now, I don't worry if I can't get back to their blog or pop them an email. I respond on my blog.

    I respond to emails too, and on my blog. I visit other people's blogs when I can.

    I try and live my laptop open to my blog (or email). Then, throughout the day I might pop over and respond to a few emails or comments. Or I may respond to all the comments at once.

    When I have my linky party, I spread out my visiting as I try to visit every blog that linked up. I will do that over the course of one or two days.

    I am enjoying blogging and I love the social interacting to. I just try and squeeze it in as I can.

  13. Hi Dewena,
    My what a thoughtful post!
    I think that many of us, from time to time, review how, when, and why we blog. For me, creating a blog was about replacing (in a small way) my old magazine job. I adored creating picture/word stories for BH&G but found I'd outlived my time on staff. Creating a blog from a template, helped to fill the empty spaces left behind when I left that wonderful world of creativity.
    That was four years ago, and now, from time to time, I ask myself if I've used myself up again, have become boring and repetitive in my blogging. I've never been one to attract many followers and have been here long enough to see my followers come and go for various reasons.

    These days, I'm at a loss for subjects to post. My original blogging goal (as it was for magazine publishing) was to offer my readers a take-away~~something they'd find intentions were not to report the activities of my daily life. Now I feel as if I've run through all the abbey-style ideas I can think of and, perhaps, should stop blogging.

    However, I'm not ready to toss out this lovely creative opportunity that helps to fill my retirement with color and beauty.

  14. I very much enjoy reading your blog and thinking about it all day long. For me, posting more than once a week can be exhausting mentally. Usually after a week, I have something ready to "bust out" of me so I go to the keyboard. I like reading blogs because I am so inspired by what everyone is doing in blogland. It's like visiting old friends and sharing the garden, kitchen recipes and warm hugs when the heart is speaking. Your post today was incredible. ...none of my family read my blog either. However, I ask my husband to read and make suggestions on every post before I publish.

    I know when I take time off to renew and catch up on life, I always feel better and fresh. Besides it almost Spring and time to travel and visit.

  15. I enjoy your blog too. Keeping up takes time I must admit and I don't always do a very good job doing it.

  16. Well it is good to see you back...I've checked in now and again and if you still hadn't posted I was going to do a "YOO HOO" comment on the Taking A Break Post that you'd had going there for awhile :)

    Now as to THIS : " Part of the reason I wanted to start blogging was so that my children would someday know who they were burying, because I often felt that they did not have a clue. " HA i have 3 sons and they have no clue and when I am dead they still would not read my blog :)

    Then THIS " scribbling I've done for years about families from the 1840s to the 1950s "
    Go to the parties or blogs but just click on what interests you! For instance, reading what you just said ( above ) you will probably like the post that I recently did about a memoir that focuses on a home and family, early 1900's, "Spencers of Amberson Avenue" but other stuff that I post might bore you to tears, lol

    Just do what works for you :) ! :)

  17. I linked to your blog from the blog of my friend "Trash Talkin' Deb". You'd said something about a blog break, which caught my attention. I've been blogging for about 6-years and have fond myself taking blog breaks for much the same reasons as you've expresses so eloquently here. Nowadays, I post what I feel like when I feel it.

  18. Dewena, thank you for posting this today. I get off track so easily with my blog, thinking I "should" be posting more, I "should" be posting about. . . whatever, I "should" be taking more/fewer photos. Need to get back to the basics -- there are no 'shoulds' in blogging. I started blogging because I enjoy writing and it's good exercise for doing so. I love visiting other bloggers, having people come by and visit me, and yes I do love comments. But, there are only so many minutes in a day. Sigh.

  19. Love this post!! I'm one of those who blog because I love connecting with other like minded people. Not looking to make money, just enjoy "sharing" my little nest. I have also discovered the need to take days off during the week so I don't feel burned out, if that makes sense. Anyways, I really appreciate your insights and thoughts.
    Mary Alice

  20. As my sister has advised me over the years, we must save time for ourselves and do the things we enjoy. How long does it take in a lifetime to accomplish this ideal state of life. I am working on it still at the age of 63. During this time of the year, cold and often dark, I find that returning to my Agatha Christie books tremendously comforting. I believe that I have most all of her books. I love just reading about her time of life in England and all of the little things they do every day. The mysteries are all great, more like puzzles to be solved.

    Dewena, thanks for all of your inspiration.

  21. Dewena, thank you for this timely post. I've been thinking along these lines for the past month or so. I started blogging as a way to hone my writing skills and journal my new life in the Colorado Rockies. I added my cottage blog a year ago because I wanted a place to "share" my love of cottages and cottage living(I don't think there is a substitute word for share, by the way). I have met some wonderful people like you who have inspired and encouraged me, and I love connecting with them. But, honestly, I don't want to be so tied to writing about life that I miss living it. And that's what happens if I become obsessive with my blogging. Keep your wisdom coming, Dewena. I appreciate it so much. Oh, and I love the photos of the watches. I think my mother had a watch just like the one with the stretch band. It's stored away with some other things, but it surely looks like that one. Blessings, Nancy

  22. Elizabeth Berg is one of my all time favorite novelists. It does suck up lots of time. I'm basically on a computer from morning till night. But then I can't get around a lot now anyway.

  23. Dewena, well said! - even with your use of the word "sharing", which is the best description I can think of too. I've always thought that, for me, blogging is crazy. I work all day, 5 days a week, sitting at a computer! Then, I come home and sit at a computer again. I have nothing spectacular or new to share with the world. I've been bloging for more than 4 years, and I've often taken blog breaks, and I've often thought about giving it up completely. When I began blogging, my purpose (other than to prove that I could set up a blog) were a hobby, an outlet, and a way to give my children and grandchildren some insight into "me". Since my children don't read my blog now, I don't really think they ever will read it. One or two of my grands might, though. My brain seems to run dry frequently, and I am intimidated by the wonderful projects and home decor shown on other blogs. The problem is that, when I take a blog break, I begin missing it very quickly. I always said I wasn't blogging for profit, so I refused to put ads on my blog (I also didn't think advertisers would want to place ads on my blog). About six months ago, I started running ads on my blog, and although I make very little money, it somehow makes me feel that I am not just wasting my time posting to my little blog. Now that I have "justified" (in my head) my blogging, I'm happier with it. If I'm going to do it anyway, I might as well make a little extra money doing it. Okay, now that I've written an entire blog post in your comment section, I'll tell you that I really enjoyed your pictures of the watches (some of which appear to be vintage) and your quotes. laurie
    P.S., have you ever done Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus? You would be so good at it. I have a second blog (which I have ignored since the birth of our grandson in Nov.), and I only did writing on it. There are several blogs out there that give you a prompt for writing each week, and I love doing those. The Sat. Centus became a great way for me to learn to limit my words (you wouldn't know it from this comment)! On my sidebar, there is a linke to my 2nd blog, "Battling My Inner Critic". If you are interested in doing the Sat. Centus, you can go to BMIC and get the link to Jenny Matlock's blog. Whew! I'm really done now!

  24. Dewena, You know I just got back on line with my blog:):) I loved your post today. I have often wondered if my children know me...because I sometimes say we never really know a person, not totally. xoxo,Susie

  25. I too blog to help my children know who I am and what I value. Blogging helps me examine the "simple pleasures" in my life, and taking photos helps me do that as well. I seem to flit from one interest to another, but blogging has been a constant, and it is a way to document all of my interests. I often think that I will quit blogging, but I know I would miss it, so I babble on.

    I am glad I discovered your blog. I love the quotes.

  26. You are so kind and organized too! I get sidetracked with my blogging visits and miss out on a lot. I like to visit as many blogs as I can but often I don't always get to answer all the comments i get. Makes me sad because I love everyone who stops by.
    I am going to try to find a different way of visiting but I really enjoy the blogs I visit and sometime I stick around for a long time! Then it cuts my time to visit others. Sigh!

    I need more time management I think!


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