BLOGGERS AT PLAY

Garry and Marilyn finally — after three or four reschedulings — finally made it to Connecticut to visit Tom and Ellin Curley. Yes, these are real live friends who we have known a very long time. So long that Tom can remember the first house I lived in when Owen was still a rug-rat.

Tom has all his hair. In our world, that’s noteworthy!

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Tom and Ellin live in a lovely home in the woods with a stream in the back yard. And a boat called Serenity docked on the Housatonic River in Stratford, Connecticut. Pretty nice boat. Pretty big river. The boat’s transmission is currently MIA, having blown itself up some time back — not while we were aboard,  but it’s a great story, in case Tom (hint, hint) feels like writing about it.

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We spent last Thursday hanging out on the boat. It turns out, boats are a great place to hang out, even when they are tied up at the dock. Since Tom has a dinghy with an outboard in good working order, we could still motor up the river, even if the bigger boat is not currently able to do more than float.

Tom took me on a ride, while Garry and Ellin chose to hang with Serenity.

The Serenity is named (by Tom) after the brilliant Joss Whedon sci fi/western series “Firefly” that ran on Fox. “Firefly” lives on Netflix. There’s also a movie, aptly titled “Serenity.” Ellen liked the concept of Serenity which seemed (still seems) a perfect name for a boat. If you can’t find serenity on a boat, you’re hopeless. Many years ago, I had a (very small) sailboat and enjoyed some of my  most serene afternoons sailing her in the salt marshes off the coast of Long Island. But I digress.

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I had brought with me the newest in Serendipity swag-wear — the latest version of our tee-shirt. It’s hard to find gifts for people who don’t need anything. Garry and I don’t need anything either, at least not anything anyone can afford to get for us … so after I designed the tee-shirt, it occurred to me I actually could give them each a tee-shirt since both of them blog.

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Tom and Ellin were exceeding gracious by dressing in matching tee-shirts, something Tom had sworn he would never do — not ever under any circumstances because (in his opinion) it’s the final sign of senility. But I said I wanted pictures. I had a camera and a photo-hungry blog.

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It was a great little mini vacation. Thank you, friends, again for a really love time. And the weather was perfect too. Not too hot, not too cool. Absolutely perfect.

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Garry and I together shot more than 300 pictures, so you’ll see more pictures as I come up with excuses to post them. In the photo galleries, the first set are mine, the second are Garry’s. There are many more! Some days are just incredibly photogenic.

AND SO, THE BIG NUMBER DRIFTED PAST …

I wrote about almost hitting 400,000 on the 9th of June, 11 days ago. Endurance, I called it. Still blogging after all these years. Yesterday, the number was 400,792, but it has changed  hand and I don’t know what it is now. It’s a moving target.

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I had an unstable professional life. I worked almost exclusively for startup companies. Venture capital funded and typically, very small operations doing leading edge work. I fit into that kind of place and the people who worked there. It should there be no surprise that bankruptcy was often the final chapter of my jobs. In any case, single product companies don’t keep a technical writer on staff forever. No matter how much the job is supposed to be “permanent,” after the documentation is complete … it’s time to move on.

Blogging has been great for me, the best gig ever. It has outlasted all but one of my jobs and has been more fun (and more satisfying) than any of them. It has given me new friends, made me a better writer and photographer … and given me epic amounts of pure satisfaction.

Nothing lasts forever, but I’m giving it my best shot.

ENDURANCE: STILL BLOGGING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

If you blog long enough, the numbers add up. I’m surprised so many people take the time to visit Serendipity. I’m equally surprised I’m still posting pretty much every day. Especially because after four years, I haven’t yet figured out what this blog is about.

I have a lot of problems figuring out what things are about. It’s one of the problems I had with my book. When asked to briefly describe it, I was stopped in my tracks. I can’t really answer that, even 9 years later. Maybe because, like this blog, it isn’t about one thing. It’s about a lot of things not necessarily connected in any discernible way.

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Even that is no longer true. I am still the primary writer on this site, but I am not the only one. Rich has been with Serendipity for more than three years and Garry’s been writing intermittently for more than two years.

Ellin’s been on board for six months and Tom for five months. I love that we have so many voices. It takes some pressure off me, but more importantly, it adds diversity and freshness to a site I felt was getting stale. I was getting tired of me, so I had to figure I wasn’t the only one.


I looked at the stats and could see 400,000 coming. On the horizon.

I remember when I first looked at stats — I had only just realized there were stats to look at — and discovered I had 5,000 views!

That was a gigantic number at the time. I had never imagined that many people would ever visit my site and I’m still a bit astounded at how many people have visited over the past four and a half years. And, when I breached 100,000, then 200,000 … and eventually 300,000 … I knew that if I just kept going, that there would be more milestones.

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Endurance is a huge part of blogging. A determination to not let it go. The belief that somehow, I can make a difference. That Serendipity makes a difference. Maybe we won’t change the world, but we can tweak it a little. We can poke the demon. It won’t stop the demon, but it might make him change direction. A little bit.

There seem to be a lot of demons lately. Depending on the day, the hour, the mood I’m in, and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t quite pin down, I’m appalled, shocked, frightened … and positive that I’ve fallen through a rift in the fabric of reality and I’m actually living on some alternate version of Earth. Or I’m in a coma and this is a terrible hallucination from which I will eventually awaken. It’s going to be a long, painful political year.

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So — about the future: I’m planning to stick around. As long as Serendipity has an audience, it’s worth the time and effort. Knowing that you guys out there are willing to take time out of your complicated lives to drop by and visit, I’ll try to be here for you.

I might take a day off. Maybe. One or two, here and there. It might happen, but I will return.

LOVE/HATE CHALLENGE

It has been over a month since WIL threw this challenge my way so it is time to stop procrastinating and give you my top ten lists.

“Ok, so here are the instructions:

List 10 things I love and 10 things I hate – then nominate 10 fellow bloggers to do the same.”

Love:
1. My friends (some more than others)
2. France (Alsace particularly)
3. Chicago Sports teams
4. Deep dish pizza
5. French wine (white mostly)
6. Micro brew (312, Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, others)
7. Travel (I wish I could do more)
8. Music
9. Adventure movies
10. Chicago, the band

Hate:
1. New York sports teams (a requirement to live in Chicago)
2. Green Bay Packers (another Chicago requirement)
3. Cilantro (a little goes a long way)
4. Cumin
5. Guns and Roses
6. Haters
7. Internet memes (a great source of misinformation)
8. Starbucks (pushing local coffee and tea shops out-of-the-way)
9. Religious fanatics (hating in the name of God is particularly sinful)
10. Squid

OK, let’s see who answers back.  It would just be wrong if I did not start the list of nominations with Marilyn.  I nominate:

1. SERENDIPITY
2. SERENDIPITY (This one’s for Garry)
3. MikesFilmTalk
4. Taps and Ratamacues
5. Creeped.
6. wandering story teller
7. That’s Gay.
8. swo8
9. Wheelchair Traveller
10. JamesRadcliffe.com

The hardest part of this challenge was chasing down the urls for the nominees.  I have a few others in mind, but their blogs do not seem to lend themselves to a challenge since they are all photography, all poetry or all politics.  This seems to fits us eclectic types.  So what do you love/hate?

THE SERENDIPITY SETTING ON THE OLYMPUS PEN PL-5

I just became the tickled pink owner of an Olympus PEN PL-5 camera. It arrived today, having sped here from Arizona, where its previous owner, an old and loved friends, has upgraded to the OM-D.

Somewhere between yesterday afternoon and this morning, a nasty cold hit me like a runaway train, but the arrival of the camera distracted me enough that I forgot how crappy I was feeling … at least for an hour.

The camera, probably while being packed, had gotten set to the Art Bracket setting. I have never used any of the Art effect settings on any of my Olympus PEN cameras. It turns out that the results of using this setting are … well … interesting. Serendipitous. You really don’t know what you will get.

It’s kind of fun. You snap one picture and the camera gives you 12 versions, each using a different Art effect. The focus and bokeh also change. These are some results. What do you think? interesting, yes?

DEAR READER

Audience of One – Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.

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Dear Reader,

I should have written sooner. You have been following me since I started this whole blogging thing, when Serendipity was new and I wasn’t sure it would fly. Didn’t know what I was doing. You helped me define myself as a writer. Nearly three years now and more than 3,000 posts later, all those old posts are floating around cyberspace. It must be getting crowded!

I’m really talking to you. That’s right. You, in the Lazy Boy, with the cup of coffee. You should drink it before it gets cold. (I should take my own advice.)

Take a sip. I’ll wait. No hurry. I cancelled my doctor’s appointment today. I can’t really afford the copay right now. With the “good” car in the shop and the repairs not yet paid for, money is painfully tight. A bit frightening if I think about it. The best I can do is postpone anything that costs money until (hopefully) the coffers refill, at least a bit.

It’s good my husband likes pizza so much. It’s amazing how happy the man is eating a cheap frozen pizza. I try to fancy it up, adding mushrooms, sometimes some bacon or whatever other bits of stuff we happen to have in the house. But it’s still pizza. The king of junk food. It goes very well with football.

You are the one I write for. A lot of old friends are gone, either to that great beyond or moved too far away to ever see them. It’s sad, but you help fill that empty place.

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I’m glad you exist. I’m grateful you like me well enough to spend some of your day with me. Maybe I follow you. I can’t follow everyone because there aren’t enough hours in my life to read that much and also write, but I try.

I don’t always comment. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy your post, just that I’m not feeling witty … or everyone else in the world has already said whatever anyone could possibly say. If I can, I will always send a like. So you know I’ve dropped by.

I hope I can be as much a part of your world as you are of mine. You are terribly important to me. I don’t say how much I appreciate you nearly often enough. You brighten my day when I’m feeling poorly. You make me feel appreciated when I think I’ve been forgotten.

I wish we could meet. Get together to laugh and drink coffee or tea. Eat a few crumpets or donuts. Maybe someday we’ll have a giant convention. I’ll be there, with all my bells on.

Meanwhile, thanks for everything. For caring, sharing, being there. For liking me. For being part of my world and letting me into yours.

Lots of love and a great big fuzzy hug,

Marilyn at Serendipity.