four years of parasol party.

By Stina Wirsen, via Oh Joy!

What a long, strange, wonderful Parasol Party it’s been.

That’s right — I’ve been blogging on WordPress for four years as of today. In my first entry I talked about moving to WordPress basically because Matt Morton was doing it, and because I wanted a cool sidebar.  Done and done!  The next entry talked about going to Hadad’s for Best Friends Day.  I’m preparing to brave those Scope-colored waters yet again tomorrow, a summertime ritual that hasn’t killed me yet.

By Janet Hill, via Oh Joy!

Before WordPress I was on Xanga, which I started on September 8th, 2003…so we can probably go ahead and celebrate my seven-year anniversary of blogging.  The big news in my life seven years ago included watching a funny video made at Dan T’s cabin, going to Bible study, and the face that Chris Lacroix planned to buy a hot pink Queen t-shirt.  And here’s what I opened the entry with:

“So I finally decided to jump on the LiveJournal/Weblog bandwagon, due to my thoughts going too fast for my pen. Although I love the old-fashioned way of documenting stuff, I think that in order for me to actually DO this, and actually KEEP TRACK of what’s going on in my life, I’m going to have to do it on the Internet. It is pretty sad that I have to do that, but the first step is acknowledging that you have a problem. I even get my daily devotionals sent to my email. Seriously.”

Some things never change.  Except using the word “weblog,” of course.   ❤

By Fabio Bartelt for Elle Brazil, via Haute Macabre.

By M. H. Jeeves via Oh Joy!

regularly scheduled programming.

[Note: This is probably the only post on my blog that I continually update. Though it was originally posted in 2010, I update it regularly since what I’m listening to changes over time, and some podcasts begin and some end. Enjoy.]

Lately I’ve been asked a couple of times for some internet recommendations, so I thought I’d post an update of the blogs I’m following and the podcasts I’m listening to.

Favorite Podcasts

Using podcasts and audiobooks is amazing, because it’s hands-free, which allows you to listen and learn while you’re doing some mindless task.  Instead of staring off into space, you can be getting stuff done and reading the Classics.  Life is short, people.  It may seem painfully un-sensational at first, but I promise that if you get into the habit of listening, it’ll be way more entertaining, educational, and stimulating than reality TV.  Trust me.  Here are just some of the times I’m usually listening:

  • while working out (long runs seem like no time at all)
  • while putting on makeup and doing hair
  • while washing the dishes
  • while walking to work
  • while driving anywhere
  • while gardening

And here are the podcast recommendations:


Librivox (Free public domain books. LOTS of them. Which can be subscribed to individually as podcasts, if you want. Or they have a standalone app.)
Audible (Audiobooks to buy.)


The Robcast
Ask Science Mike

Folklore / Storytelling / Life

Welcome To Night Vale
The Moth
This American Life
Little Z’s Sleep Podcast
The Longest Shortest Time
Anything Ghost
Hometown Tales

History / Archaeology

History Replays Today
Archaeology Channel

Stuff You Missed in History Class
The Thomas Jefferson Hour
Virginia Historical Society
The Bowery Boys: New York City History

Science / Tech

Science Friday
Community Signal
Your Undivided Attention
The New Frontier

Etiquette and Grammar

A Way With Words
Awesome Etiquette
(from the Post family)
Modern Manners Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Polite Life
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

So yeah…those are my favorite things to listen to. Of course you can always search your podcast app for more stuff that you’re interested in. I believe that in the post-iTunes world I tried apps like BeyondPod and Pocket Casts for my Android phone, and now I use the amazing Overcast on iOS.

Favorite Feeds

Using RSS feeds to consume stuff on the internet is amazing, as I’ve preached about before, because:

  • It really lets you filter the web for your specific interests.  All of the stuff you want to hear about, none of the garbage you don’t.  Or very little of it anyway.
  • Posts are delivered to you pretty much as soon as they’re published.  So instead of finding out about a fun event two weeks after it happened, when you finally got around to checking the web site, this way you find out as soon as it’s announced.
  • It cuts down on just surfing around to waste time, as long as you keep it pared down to the most useful feeds — constantly removing ones that no longer interest you or aren’t worth reading, and adding new ones you want to try for a while.  Vigilance is key, because otherwise your feeds list can spiral out of control like your browser favorites did in 2001 (ha! remember those?), causing them to become a chore to sift through instead of something you want to do.  And we do not re-make the mistakes of the past, if we can help it at all.

I use Feedly for this, and they’re now allowing people to share their feed collections, so here some of mine if you need reading suggestions:

I also read books! Paper ones. Books I’ve been reading lately can be found on Goodreads.

I’d like to see your recommendations, too.  ❤

captain’s blog.

How happy is the blameless Vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.

– Alexander Pope

Lovely image from Barnaby.

Just a quick acknowledgment of the obvious —

In 2003 when I first began blogging, my Xanga journal had a very diary-esque, captain’s log-type format.  We’ll call it “captain’s blog.”  Har har har ughhhhhhh.  Anyway, I would recount each day or week’s activities and talk about how I felt and what was on my mind.  Over time as the popular concept of blogging and online networking has morphed into a less personal and more “public stage” thing, my view of my blog has gradually changed as well.  First it was like “Oh if I’m working on trying to be kinder, I shouldn’t vent about this person or that person and make them feel bad or make them think I’m dramatic,” and then it was “Oh I can’t talk about work frustrations because I’ll be sacked,” and then “Oh I shouldn’t talk about ideas for improvements to such-and-such because people will think I’m being critical,” and then “Oh nobody wants to hear about the details of my Thursday afternoon,” and then “I’m so busy and don’t have time to be more detailed,” and finally “Why the heck is Stranger McPlatypusface already following me on Google Buzz?” and so on, and so forth.  And as the love of keeping in touch and keeping tabs on people has spread to even the most determined luddites,  the list of things appropriate to post publicly (for example: things appropriate for one’s peers, one’s boss, one’s mom, and random 6-year-olds in other countries to read) certainly dwindled.

So after moving to WordPress in 2006 (time flies!) and slowly getting more readers, I started to try to shift the blog’s style from epistolary, daily housekeeping stuff to more succinct, visual stuff.  I like where it has gone, and I think it performs a great function in my life: I’m able to share things that inspire me and interest me with others who either know me or have common interests, and I’m able to keep people up-to-date on the general happenings in my life.

But recently I started reading Pepys’ Diary, the diary of a 17th century Englishman converted to a blog, and I have been engrossed.  He’s a pretty ordinary guy, and that’s actually why the text is so valuable.  It’s amazing to see him feeling a certain way that I feel sometimes, which makes me realize how much things stay the same.  Or worrying about something I just don’t get, or doing something that I can’t relate to at all, which makes me realize how much things change.  It’s interesting to see what he considers worthy of keeping track of.  Above all, I love the idea of possible descendants amusing themselves by seeing what I was doing on a given day centuries before.  Posterity!

Also recently I had a conversation with Deanna that made me want to pinpoint my feelings at a specific point in my life circa 2003 – 2004.  I cracked open the old, diary-esque blog and went to town searching for it, and had a similar experience to reading Pepys’ Diary.  It’s also a lot like when I was moving out of the old house on Floyd and I went through my shoeboxes full of letters and flyers and ticket stubs.  There’s such a sense of awe and nostalgia that reading detailed descriptions of old events brings!  It’s so amazing to read about some random night when I went to such-and-such a place with such-and-such people and we talked about such-and-such.  The brain naturally forgets these small details or at least rubs them smooth in our memories, and yet here they are, laid down in perfect sharpness for the future.  By turns it’s incredibly uplifting and humbling to gaze at my then-self through the glass of the years, seeing how much things have changed and feeling relieved “to grow older / to move away from those awful times,” and also seeing how much some things haven’t changed and feeling embarrassment at still being so hardheaded and having so far to go.  I was also struck by the fact that I have this daily record of my life from my sad years, but none from my happy years.   Seems lopsided.  Also, I remember that the daily (or almost-daily) practice of quieting down for half an hour and typing in an almost stream-of-consciousness fashion was healthy and therapeutic, if not entertaining for the world at large.

At any rate, I’ve started back up with the journal-style recording, blogging elsewhere with the “today, I got up and did this and that” posts.  I’m glad to have an additional captain’s log-type record, starting now, when I’m at the happiest and most energetic I’ve ever been.  And I’m glad to have my space here to share with you, so don’t worry — this will still be the place for general news, inspiration, pretty things, interesting links, and a measure of introspection.  By the way, thank you for reading after all this time, because, you know…you don’t have to.  You could be reading about Mr. Pepys instead.  ♥

Image from trumpetvine.

Writing a journal implies that one has ceased to think of the future and has decided to live wholly in the present.  It is an announcement to fate that you expect nothing more….Writing a journal means facing an ocean you are afraid to swim across, and deciding to drink it drop by drop.
– George Sand

of awards and antidotes.

My dear friend Kristin was gracious enough to bestow an Inspiration Award upon this blog.  Thanks, Kristin!

The rules are as follows:

* Put the logo of the award (above) on your blog if you can make it work with your format.
* Link to the person from whom you received the award.
* Nominate seven or more blogs.
* Put the links of those blogs on your blog.
* Leave a message on their blogs to tell them.

And here are my nominees:

  • Haute Macabre.  Because it’s my new favorite thing!
  • Gothic Charm School.  Her level-headed commentary, etiquette, and open-mindedness never cease to amaze me.
  • Decor8.  As I’ve added, evaluated, and removed a lot of crafty, interior-design-y blogs from my feeds over the past few years, this one has stayed around.  I get a TON of ideas from Holly and beautiful pictures she posts.
  • Phil Has a Blog. Thank goodness for Phil.
  • And That’s How I Choose to Remember It.  With every post, I’m reminded how similar and how different Brandi and I are.  I love it.
  • Appalachian History still blows my mind, all the time.
  • Kitty Meets Goat.  Michael’s still pouring his heart out, but now…online!
  • Liebemarlene Vintage Look Book.  Oh, how I look.  And look, and look, and look.  This girl has style.
  • Knock Kneed.  Her ability to make me laugh from afar is astounding.  I love her list-format posts, which I need ot emulate more often.
  • King Keaton’s Babbles.  Gianna is tirelessly chronicling her son’s early life, and I’m so glad she hasn’t given up yet.  These blog posts will be cherished.

Now, on to current events…

The whole house smells like banana bread.  It’s currently 69 degrees outside.  Things are wonderful.

The weekend was great.  On Friday we dined at Ruchee Express and then saw Bride Wars.  The movie was silly in general but I enjoyed myself.  Saturday I lunched with Corey at Black Sheep, played Star Wars: Episode 1 Monopoly with my siblings, and saw some of my favorite people at the Best of 2008 Photo Show.  Then we went to the Twist & Crawl dance night at Ipanema, where I played mini Connect Four with Dan at the bar and beat him twice.   Sunday at work it was Tu B’Shevat, so I listened to the librarian read The Giving Tree to several different classes.  After watching the nursery at church (where Dan built a “wobot” out of green legos with an adoring little girl), we had dinner at my parents’ house and watched Father of the Bride: Part II.  This weekend was really a perfect mix of activities; I’m so lucky to be given the opportunity to be involved in so many different things.

This week so far I’ve done a lot of wedding planning: arranged the rental of tablecloths, etc., updated the wedding web site, printed out drafts of invitations I designed so that Dan and I can discuss them, got together almost all my addresses for invitations, and made a wedding playlist that needs to be edited wayyyy down because it’s 21 hours long.  I have to do things like cut back from 12 Cure songs to 6 Cure songs.  Planning this big party is fun, but sometimes painful.  Human beings shouldn’t have to choose between “Mint Car” and “Just Like Heaven.”

This morning I baked banana bread and made some naan dough so we can have Indian for dinner tonight.  I think baking is the antidote to overcast days.  That, and looking out my window at my favorite tree and counting the blackbirds in it.  Right now there are 16.

On to links…

And, I liked this picture that Sara posted on her blog.

That is all.  For now.