Suddenly last summer

I’ve been on vacation the past couple of weeks, sloughing off the bug-eyed stress and mind-melting  irritations of workaday life. Ah, vacation. Such affection and appreciation I harbour in my heart for these hard-earned days of leisure. If only they were less fleeting and infrequent.

This year my sister and I spent a few days on Bowen Island, hunkered down in a lovely little waterfront cottage, watching seabirds and eagles cavort over Howe Sound and listening to all the noises the Pacific Northwest bestows when the chaos and cacophony of city life is stripped away.

Every morning and every evening (and a good chunk of the time in between) found us ensconced in our comfy red faux Adirondack chairs, sipping coffee, tea, wine or G&Ts, gobbling up the views or immersed in our books or happily pondering the possibilities of picking up sticks and abandoning life as we know it for the solitude and sanctuary of island life.20150615_193234
There was a rocky beach a short walk away from 20150616_131345the cottage which we visited every day when we walked Rory (our dog). You see the little point that juts out from the trees on the left in the photograph below? That’s where our cottage was, nestled right behind those trees. We had neighbours on either side, but they were farther back, and the most we heard from them was an occasional cough. It was like being in the middle of nowhere,

And, speaking of Rory, he’s blind, deaf, diabetic, and ordinarily as poky as an unmotivated slug on on his walks, but he loved being on Bowen. Maybe it was the sea air or the irresistible bouquet of rotting sea critters, but he was  champing at the bit for his morning and evening walks on that rocky beach.

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When I’m in the city, I can barely stand to go a full hour without firing up my laptop. I go through internet withdrawal during power outages, even if they only last half an hour. The cottage had wi fi, and I’d brought my laptop because I knew I couldn’t stand that many days without being connected to the virtual world, but I didn’t open it once.

From the moment we walked into20150617_195729 the cottage, I morphed from madly stressed, wack-a-doo, neurotic computer addict to blissed out deck chair aficionado. And, honestly, with sunsets like this to watch, who could blame me? Hope you’ve all been having as fabulous a time as I have. Today was my first day back at work–quite a shock to the system. I’m still hanging on to my cottage-y bliss, but it’s already starting to fray around the edges. Ah, vacations. What was I saying about you being so fleeting?

The spinny wheel of affirmation

One of my work colleagues has a little pretty little box, and in that box she keeps a bunch of one-word affirmation cards. Every once in a while she’ll make a tour of the office and get each of us to reach in and pick a card.

My current card is “Gratitude” and I keep it propped up at the foot of my monitor to remind me that even when things go wonky there is so much in life for which I can be grateful. It’s a reminder I need quite frequently these days, as it happens, just as its predecessor “Creativity” was a reminder I needed at that time. I find it fascinating that whenever my colleague stops by with her box of cards, I always manage to pick the card I need at that particular juncture of my life.

The other day I stumbled across a blog whose author was talking about choosing a one word affirmation for the year. He’d chosen the word was “Focus.”  I could use some of that, for sure, but honestly, I don’t see myself sticking with just one word for the entire year, however fine that solitary word might be and however much my wayward mind might benefit from the discipline of that one word. I guess I’m just fickle that way.

How about, I said to myself, a word a week? I could do that. Sure I could. I have at least that much discipline. What I don’t have, however, is a pretty little box of affirmation cards, so instead, I Googled myself over to Wheel Decide (thank you again, dear Google, for providing) and built myself a handy dandy Weekly Word Wheel. Now I can avail myself of a one-word affirmation to guide me through the wackiness of each and every week. Or, if I’m feeling super bold and the week is promising to be super horrendous, I can spin the wheel twice and have two words to guide me.

Go ahead. Give the wheel a spin and see what it spits out for you. It’s given me “Imagination.” Yep. I can work with that.

Resurrected

A couple of weeks or so ago I managed to kill my blog. I’m not sure how I did it. I was trying to figure out how why I wasn’t able to preview blog posts, because previewing is kind of critical when you’re tossing in a YouTube video or adding a spin-a-wheel (more on that later this week) or making sure an image is properly aligned.

So, what did I do? I did what anyone would do. I Googled the issue. The problem was, I was silly enough to believe the fixes Google found for me.

Within seconds, my blog metamorphosed from its usual cheerful, bloggish form into something that resembled a relic resurrected from the Wayback Machine.  I was all woe-ish and wailing and, okay, I admit it, whiney, but I figured, whatever. It happened so fast, it couldn’t be a big deal, right?

Argh. Argh squared, in fact. Google, my search engine friend, that was one massive fail on your part. I’m willing to share the blame, because, really, how ridiculous was I to start mucking about with my WordPress settings on the say so of some random webbish pseudo-expert?

Anyway, after multiple incomprehensible messages from my web hosts (who were actually very cool about the whole thing, in spite of their incomprehensibility) and after backing up my database, deleting it and reinstalling WordPress, and after trying make sense of a filing system with names like cgi-bin and perl5 and favicon.ico, and after much hair pully-outiness and teeth gnashing and and an unholy amount of whining, my blog is back.

I couldn’t understand the explanation of the problem or what was done to fix it. One of these days I should really try to figure this stuff out, I suppose, but, man, there are a couple of thousand things ahead of bloggish know-how on the learning list right now. I’m just grateful that there are people out there in the world who know about these things so I don’t have to.

In the meantime, my blog has rematerialized from the ether, my stress level has started clawing its way back to an acceptable level, and I’m still unable to preview my blog posts before publishing. Everything back to normal. Thank you, universe.

So…how have the last couple of weeks been for you?

Reflections on the A to Z Challenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - LgThis April I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for the third time, sharing a selection  of what I described as “Interwebby Wonderments.”

The first year I decided to join in the bloggy fun was 2012, and I fell and whacked my head on the sidewalk when I was a few posts from the finish line. (Fortunately a few friends banded together and finished for me.) In 2013 I made it to the end, exhausting as as that was. My experiences in both years should have taught me some important lessons, but as you’ll see below. I don’t learn so quickly.

This year I decided to sign up even though I was, by ridiculous coincidence, in the process of recovering from another “head meets sidewalk” fiasco–because I’m just that coordinated–but I still managed to finish. And I think I’ve finally learned some of those important lessons:

PLAN AHEAD

Other than deciding on a handful of topics, I didn’t do much pre-planning, and I didn’t pre-write any of my posts. That was silly for all kinds of reasons, but primarily because it meant the time I spent researching and writing my posts was time I didn’t spend visiting other blogs. I still managed to visit somewhere between 10 and 40 blogs a day, depending on how rude life decided to be about rearing its intrusive head, but my brain felt pretty explodey by the end of some days. And by “some,” please read “most.”

FOR GOODNESS SAKE, DON’T BE SO LONG-WINDED

Please understand, I’m not talking about anyone but myself here. I actually like long posts, even during the challenge, but I realize that others don’t, and to all of you, I apologize! You’d think that without pre-planning my posts would have been, by necessity, brief. You’d be so wrong. It would seem that I am nothing, if not verbose. Case in point? This post. Sorry again.

PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE AND THEY DON’T ALWAYS BEHAVE THE WAY YOU WANT THEM TO

I knew from previous years that a lot of people aren’t terribly reciprocal about blogging challenges. They love your visits and comments, but they don’t feel particularly obligated to return the favour. This year I went in prepared for this, and for the most part it didn’t bother me. I have my own cunning strategies for finding people who will reciprocate. It did annoy me, though, when I saw that some people who were so diligent about visiting a lot of blogs and commenting often received almost no comments in return. No wonder so many people dropped out along the way. That must have been so disheartening.

CAPTCHA IS NOT MY FRIEND

Okay, I didn’t learn that this year, but oh, good grief, that got annoying. Half the time Blogger managed to lose my comments while I was doing the whole captcha sign in thing. After a while I learned to copy my comments before trying to post them, which saved me from banging my head off the keyboard.

MY BLOG CAN BE A SNOTTY MOO

My apologies to anyone who ran into difficulties trying to comment on my blog, which kept pretending it hadn’t received the comment or that the comment was a duplicate, or even worse, hijacking the comment into comment purgatory because it didn’t like one of the links. I wanted to switch themes to see if that would help, but I didn’t dare do anything during the challenge in case I messed up everything.

I STILL LOVE THIS CHALLENGE

For me this challenge is about connecting–with the bloggers I’ve met in previous challenges or through social media, and with new bloggers whom I probably wouldn’t have found without the challenge. I was going to try to name and link to some of those blogs, but I know I’d end up leaving someone out, and I don’t want to do that. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few blogs I meant to follow and didn’t. I’d drop a comment, move to the next blog, and then wonder, whoops, did I click “follow”? I’ll be rectifying that as I browse through the reflections posts.

THANK YOU

To Arlee Bird, the co-hosts, and all the minions, a huge and heartfelt thank you for giving us this yearly opportunity to go blog-bonkers together.