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Baker at the Beech

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Recently, I joined the Nature Blog Network.

It's a consortium of nature bloggers, the brainchild of the estimable Mike Bergin of 10,000 Birds. It's the first such group I've ever joined. I live under a cyber-rock, if you haven't noticed by now. When memes or awards go around, and people are kind enough to tap me, it's like throwing that meme or award into some kind of black hole. The meme stops here. I am sorry. So I don't know nothin' about webrings or chatrooms or guilds, and I kind of like it like that, to be truthful. Picture me in a little lace cap, flailing my apron.

Anyway, the Nature Blog Network's central concept is to get all these good blogs in front of other bloggers, and thereby get them read by more people. It's easy to join, even for a Luddite like me. Just click on the link! I salute you, Mike Bergin. It's a noble goal. There are so many people putting the good stuff out for free every day. It blows my mind. I could easily spend all day every day reading blogs, but I don't, because I have to like, do a lot of other stuff, and somehow squeeze a decent post out 5 days a week. It's the same reason I don't watch TV, except for American Idol. A girl has her needs.

So imagine my giddy and totally overblown delight when my blog shot to #1 on the Nature Blog Network for a shining day, meaning it was getting the most hits of any of the blogs so far signed up. I even displaced Mike. Oh! The ecstasy! So I got all uppity and started thinking I was really something. But it was short-lived, because then some Real Blogs joined the network, and smooshed me back down to #7, where I struggle to stay. I don't know how these blogs get all those readers. 10,ooo page hits a day? Their writers probably do not live under rocks. They probably pass around memes and awards and read everybody else's blog and comment like crazy and do all those nice-person things I avoid. They probably lead upright, wholesome lives and visit shut-ins, delivering casseroles. They probably know all about webrings and chatrooms and Wiccan Web practices I am too incurious to investigate. I know when I'm beat. Visiting the Nature Blog Network for me now is an exercise in much-needed humility. But there's more.

In that narrow window when I was bouncing around between #1 and 2, tromping all over the other Nature Blog Network members, and loving every minute of it, someone posted the following review of my blog:

Sometimes some great bird photos and commentary, but more often lots of personal stuff about Julie's farm, kids, and especially her pet dog.

Pause to reflect. Hmmm. All that is true. Sometimes I get a decent bird photo. I'm not a bird photographer, but if a monkey bangs on a typewriter long enough...Sometimes I write something interesting enough to spark some discussion. Sometimes. But more often...uh-oh. Lots of personal stuff about my farm (minus the chickens and cows, I guess), my kids, and especially my pet dog.

One of the completely ridiculous things about tending a blog, and its resultant Web presence, is getting caught up in rankings and hit counters and numbers of comments and, in some strange bit of alchemy, turning all that in your mind into some real assessment of your personal worth. So I read that review with a small snort, and it still makes me laugh every time I read it. There's something about the words, "especially her pet dog" that sound so...I maybe the reviewer doesn't exactly dig my potatoes. Like, just don't bother with this one. It's a thinly disguised--errrp---mommypetblog.

So, like the craven, groveling person that I truly am, I scrambled around and posted a whole bunch of my less crappy bird photos and tried to think up some great commentary. (Love me! Love me! I don't know who you are, Anonymous Reviewer, but maybe you'll like THIS?? or THIS?? Wait! What if I paint a huge bird picture and tell you all about it? Will you like THAT??) I was like Sally Field, accepting her Oscar. "You love me! You truly do love me!"

(Minus, of course, the Oscar, and the uh, love.)

Finally, I admitted to myself that it's true. I'm not a bird photographer, and I don't actually aspire to be. If I took fabulous photos of birds, I'd probably stop painting them. I need to keep painting birds.

I do like taking pictures of birds so I can share them with you. I like writing about birds, but there are too many other interesting things in the world to focus solely on feathers.

I like writing about my kids, especially as they discover the natural world. Except for a couple of lapses in which I gave too much information about their effluvia, I don't think I've crossed the line into mommyblogging.

I like taking pictures of Chet Baker, because it is obvious to me that you, my admittedly small but growing bunch of regular readers, enjoy seeing him and reading about his adventures.

It's true. What you're gonna get here more often is

lots of personal stuff about my farm, kids, and especially my pet dog.

And so I return to my roots.

Some of the beeches on the bit of forest I've been walking lately are old enough to wear pants. Cool how the bark looks like any other tree's on this beech's pants.

A bit of Boston terrier trivia: The breed is an American original, said to be the product of a cross between a white rat terrier (an extinct breed) and a bulldog. I see elements of both personalities in Chet Baker. He's got that kind of kooky terrier energy, that go-for-it nature that I love (and, in my own flabby way, would like to think I share). The energy is balanced by the bulldog's phlegmatic, comfy, loving nature, and is most often expressed when Baker flops down and sleeps for 12 hours straight, waking up only to get snorgled or move his lazy carcass to track the puddle of sun on the floor.

On a recent walk on our new ground, I stopped to marvel at a beech tree that was little more than a shell, with some pretty vivacious looking sprouts miraculously emerging from the rotted, hollow trunk. Chet Baker immediately sensed its critter-housing potential, and set about exploring it as only a nutty Boston terrier can. He vanished. I could hear snorfling and scratching, but Baker had been engulfed by the tree.

Clearly, he smelled coon and squirrel in the rotted hulk. There had to be a way up in there.
Using his rocket-propelled hinders, Baker launched himself up into the heart of the beech.

Meanwhile, I went around to the other side to peek in a rotted hole, and saw this:
I could see the wheels turning. Chet came around to my side and tried out that entrance, too. It looked like a breech birth.
So I ran around to the front of the tree and got this image of his soft, ottery throat as he gazed up into the hollow trunk:
What a little goofball. Even though it's blurry, this is my favorite shot from the session:
That, my friends, is the terrier in the Boston terrier. Because I am a primitive blogger, and my first attempt to embed a video will likely end in failure, I will refer you to a link for a video of the anthem, "God Loves a Terrier," sung by Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, from Best in Show, a movie I would have been perfect for. I could step right into Catherine O'Hara's role without even STUDYING. Songs like this get sung in our kitchen every day! I am a Crazy Dog Lady. Christopher Guest, are you listening?

Dang! I think I figured out how to embed a video! It is my valentine to you, gentle readers.


Oh that's not over the line, Dog Lady of Whipple! That's a DoggieMommyBlogger Homerun!

Gee, somehow I wouldn't have thought you'd dwell on one lone reviewer's thoughts. First, yours is one of the best-written blogs (in terms of sheer use of language) out there. Many blogs have great pics, or wonderful topics, links, or even awards, but few have simply great consistent, writing. I come here for that unpredictable new word or turn-of-phrase that is going to delight me, and for the science tidbits I didn't know before. The terrier, family, and home stuff don't drive me here (but I may well be in the minority), but that's who you are and you have to stay true to yourself as a blogger.
BTW, most of the biggies on NatureBlogNetwork are part of the well-followed ScienceBlogs network which is how they draw such automatic large audiences. That you're even in the running with them is quite an accomplishment.
In short... you go girl!

I'm so excited by this post...I'll be back! Dinner on the stove - BTW - guess who posted your second rating? Best all around, gal.

Cyberthrush, I look to you for some of the most insightful and informed writing on the Web. It is the nature of the artist to be sensitive to what people think of one's work. Here, I wanted to poke fun at myself for even caring what one perhaps disgruntled person happened to say. I realized after scrambling to please this phantasm that I am completely at the mercy of my misplaced artist's sensitivity and easily-inflated Leonine ego. Yes, I should be above it, but at the core I'm more Sally Field than tough terrier. Thank you for your nice words. Truly, I'm not fishing for compliments; I'm just continually amazed at my own vulnerability.

And Mare, I knew it. Love you right back.

Keep up the great work! I check your blog every day at least once because I enjoy it so much...for all the reasons that cyberthrush so eloquently listed. You're an original...keep it that way ;-)

Ignore people who trash women for being themselves! Your life is a treat to share; your writing superb! Inspiring!

I am comfortable here. I learn and laugh here. I feel welcome here and I like it here. Thanks. into a song...

"Don't change a hair for me,
not if you care for me..."

Do you know the song?

Happy Valentine's Day!

We wouldn't want you or your blog any other way Julie. Keep being proud of who you are and we'll keep on reading!

I find myself looking at all the stats too much, too, Julie.
But I'd be happy just thinking I could hang onto a spot on the first page.
That'll be yesterday very soon!
I guess I have to remember, I'm blogging because I feel I have something special to share--and the number of people who visit or the comments they leave doesn't change that.

Yes, Lynne, a certain musician named Chet Baker sang those very words. Thank you, dearest. A funny Valentine right back at ya!

Nina, oh, yes, you do have something very special to share and you move people every day.

The pep talks I give Phoebe, who's got a new blog, revolve around blogging not for feedback or fame, but for the sheer joy of sharing what you know to be beautiful, true, strange or hilarious.

I guess the occasional criticism stings because few of us are doing this for anything but joy.

If there were more hours in the day, I’d hop in my car and head north on 77 to wrap my arms around you. You put my own thoughts and concerns right out here tonight. I’ve been composing a similar post in my mind on the same subject for a few days but you beat me to it. You are right on the mark! Me – the technology challenged,language challenged, fluffy and too busy blogger, stumbled across the NBN on T.R.’s blog a little over a week ago. I joined, on a whim and a curious feeling… JZ was #2! I wasn’t surprised. A few times a day, I watched my “rank” climb steadily and I became vulnerable, too. Delighted and heady – “Love ME! Visit ME!” I worked harder at posting more often on minimal ideas and made an effort to visit everyone on my blogroll every few days, wanting to make the Top 40. I made it a priority to include “birds and nature” at times when I’d rather talk in length about laughing disorders or spigots. Yesterday, I saw my red arrow and thought, “this ranking business is a load of crap.” I don’t need it.

I’m going back to my grasshopping and lazy blogging self and be content with my red arrow.

How dare anyone refer to Chet Baker as your “pet dog”. He is Chet Baker, for crying out loud! Keep on loving that terrier, Julie, and share your Chet Fixes and proud commentaries about Liam, Phoebe and Bill with us every day if you like. You know, you ARE the best out there in blogland.

Ah, Mary. How did you fall prey to this silliness? It's all about putting out a product, and being proud of it. And then, the flip side: caring what people think of it. Why would you put so much effort into your blog if you didn't care what people thought of it? Kind of a catch-22. You grow along with your readers; they respond to certain things and you do your best to give them more of those things. But at a certain point you have to realign your sights and be true to yourself. And if that's writing about laughing disorders, well, I think that just shows your readers another dimension of the whole Mary. Sorry, but I think if I wrote only about birds, I'd be a real bore. FYI I have a laughing disorder too; I'm a horrible church laugher. I can shake a whole Lutheran pew. Maybe it's because I was raised Methodist, and something in me just doesn't get the liturgy. Maybe it's because I'm a hopeless pagan and should be painting myself blue and running around naked in the mist.

This is such an odd little pursuit, and it keeps hitting me that not one of us knows where it's leading us. To good places, I hope.

Hug received, dear one.

Not that you need the validation, but I am very into the "lots of personal stuff about my farm, kids, and especially my pet dog" blog that you post. I aspire to use language so well and so cogently. I admire your ability to blog-ant, wish I could do that. I do it in my own mind, but that never seems to hit the page. Sigh...

And your blog is place of hospitality. Keep it up.


Nice, on the Funny Valentine reference. You rawk.

It's blogs like yours, Susan's, Mary's, Laura's, etc., etc., etc. that keep me returning daily. The variety of the topics that you guys write are what hold my interest and keep me informed and entertained. Some people are more rigid in their tastes than others I guess. You keep on keeping on and we'll keep reading.

I don't comment often because I don't want to muck up your comment column with more of what has been said about what has been posted. However when your excellent use of language to educate, inspire and entertain is not to be pooh poood I must speak up. Stop looking at the stat counter. Look at the kitchen counter and see what Chet and the kids need and keep feeding us what you do best. It is always a treat to visit your blog. You can't please everyone for goodness sake. You have quite a following being yourself. Don't leave just because there is someone that doesn't like kids and dogs for goodness sake. Loved Chet in the tree or any place else. Allow him to trot through the pages of your blog anytime he is ultra cute. You couldn't over do that.

Oh, I knew you'd be a fan of Christopher Guest. I bet the Orangutans' amps go to 11.

We've been watching the Westminster dog show this week -- some discussion as to why the Boston isn't in the terrier group, quetsioning whether it is in fact a 'real' terrier. Suffice it to say if they read your blog about your "pet dog" they would know exactly the answer.

Have to go dig some potatoes now.

Hey Julie, personally, "I dig your potatoes" and I know my mom does too. Please don't change your blogging style, for that is the reason we visit you and will continue to do's like getting a new chapter of "Letters from Eden" every time you do a post.

Blogs that are focused on one thing only lack heart and soul. Your life isn't only birds--there are many other things that make your life whole. Blogging, I think, is about sharing a whole picture of who we are. If I want impersonal, I'll go read the news.

I thought about this when I started my blog--it could have been strictly storytelling, but then how would readers get to know me, the person behind the stories? My life is a quilt of many colors and I wanted them all in my blog. So I write about everything, and the picture that emerges is me.

Your blog does the same thing--that's why so many of us return to read day after day. We want to know you, and then we can see the birds and the rest of your world through the right lens.

Posted by Granny Sue February 14, 2008 at 7:54 PM

Rated #1 every day by your blog army. Furthermore, no one else has Chet, IN a tree, smiling from ear to ear !

Chet in a tree. Breech birth, indeed. :) Chortle. And, yes, though I never thought I'd say it -- former Labrador breeder am I -- but God does love a Terrier. Ruby sends her best Terrier love to Chet! Happy Valentine's Day!

I really enjoyed this post and it was so intresting to me to understand your thought process...I saw your blog on top at Nature Network and then a lot more blogs signed on. Your blog is still right up there at number 7..and your blog is real and human and full of your personality...don't change it one bit. You are the first blogspot blog on there and the other blogs on top of yours are all part of the "science blog" thing. You are the real thing girl. Thanks for being kind enough to help me get started.

Dearest Science Chimp, Bird Artist, Nature Writer/Commentator, Dog Lady, wife, mother, and all-around good friend:

Don't change a thing about this blog. Don't try to please anyone but yourself. Just keep on being who you are, and we, your loyal fans, will keep on coming here for your words, and for photos of geese pooping in flight, alpacas, kids, sunsets and storm clouds, New Mexico and North Dakota, "how to paint like Julie" lessons, orchids, backyard birds at the feeders and in the Spa, Charlie, "crime scene" photos of animal tracks and feather piles, and always, of course, Mr. Chet Baker. We love you.


Oh heck, the thing I hate most about blogs that are so darned specific to birding and nature posts is that I know NOTHING about the person. Makes it clinical and cold to me really. Half the fun of reading your posts Julie is that we've come to know you and that makes them even more special and enjoyable to me.

I remember when I agreed to host I and the Bird last year, someone put the link on their blog for it and made some sort of snarky comment that I was not really a "birder" but someone who likes birds. It stung, especially since I was brave enough to take on the task at all. It's snooty and snobby. No, I am not technically the most knowledgeable bird person, but you'll never find anyone more enchanted and excited by what she sees and posts.

I LOVE your mommyfarmchetbird life and don't you change it one iota!

Oh my, as someone with five planets in Leo including the sun and moon sign -- I so feel your pain -- only I am doing cartwheels when my "naturish" blog clipped 60 after checking in once an hour every waking hour.

Then I watched "Mary's View" come from behind with a silver bullet destined for the stratosphere and I started rooting wildly for her - enter Libra rising -- thank goodness the goddess of balance comes to slap the Leo around a little.

Hey just like the song says" don't go changin' to try to please them - don't change the color of your blog." And trust me there is not one thing about your blog that says "mommypetblog - thinly disguised as a way to get advertising money". I am tragically allergic to those blogs and wading through the ad content to see yet another "cute" picture designed to generate a million hits to get more advertising - no thanks.

The fact that you were the highest rated single non-science-consortium blogger for all those weeks speaks volume to the content and to the impact you have on your readers. Aren't you thankful, though, that not all 850 readers a day leave a comment - imagine the email jam there in the tiny hamlet of Whipple!

Hey Julie I never write comments but I feel compelled to tell you not to chnage a thing about your blog... I LOVE IT ALL... especially your personal stories.... Yeah Chet and the kids!!


This spontaneous show of support makes the Flying Monkeys in the Wizard of Oz look like four-hand bridge game.

Now, when you get a kranky komment you can simply say "Don't make me get my Flying Monkeys!"

Julie, your blog sits at the top of my Favorites so that I don't miss a day. And that's with dial-up in the country.

Your vulnerability is what makes you such a fine writer. Not many people have the guts to put theirs out there. The tweetybird who wrote that comment doesn't have a clue.

I'm sitting here this morning watching a soft snowfall and about eighty common redpolls. What that does to me is expressed nearly every day in your blog. Never, ever change.

I have never commented on a blog before, but this post has prompted me to do so. Yours is my very favorite!! I save it until the end of the day when my kids are asleep and my work is (mostly) done, and I can enjoy some me-time. I will also echo the sentiment that many nature/birding blogs are so sterile that I never get to know anything about the people who write them, and yours is so refreshing, funny, smart and all-around enjoyable! Thank you for putting so much time and effort into sharing your life and adventures with us. I look forward to reading it every day.

i like your blog just the way it is...especially pictures of birds and personal stories and especially especially your pet dog. :-)

and one more aside, I actually read the title of this post as "Baker at the BEACH." I think I'm getting a little stir crazy here in MN....

That's what makes your blog stand out from the pack - it is all YOU, birds, paint, kids, critters, Chet, BT3, caring, walking, learning, delighting, other words, completely human and speaking to each and every one of your readers. I'm another who visits every day for a dose of whatever you have to say and show me. Your photos are breathtaking, your writing is exquisite, and you find ways to express emotions that are blindingly, beautifully true. A Chet grin, a sunshine-snoozing Liam, or a young hawk waiting for lunch - you capture them all and present them on platters of wit and wonder.

Yeah, I'm a fan. Thanks for all the effort and love you put into sharing your world.

Hey -- I read 3 or 4 blogs religiously. Yours and bt3's are 2 of them. Nuf said, eh?!!!

Julie, I sincerely appreciate the salutation, especially since you called me estimable. My mother would be so proud! I also appreciate the dance that our respective blogs are locked into as we battle daily for the #7 spot. Let the Scibloggers, who number many estimable folk among their ranks as well, have their due. We're independents!

Most of all, I love the conversation around this topic that you've initiated. The reason I included public stats on the Nature Blog Network was so that we could all see what's a stake here. Brilliant nature writing is being offered for free everyday yet not reaching the readership it deserves. At the same time, plenty of people are toiling unfulfilled because they don't know quite what they want to accomplish through blogging. It's quite a dilemma.

I think Nina hit the crux of why many of us blog in her comment. Your question later "Why would you put so much effort into your blog if you didn't care what people thought of it?" closes the circle. We care about the stats because they represent readers we're trying to reach. A blogger who offers something special on a consistent basis and gets it in front of enough people will eventually amass a readership. The NBN, I hope, will serve a similar function as I and the Bird in introducing the right blogs to the right readers. We'll all become better bloggers and reach more like-minded readers. After that, we take over the world!

And Jayne, I'm scandalized that someone would make that comment about someone who clearly loves birds as much as you. Birding does tend to bring out the elitist airs of some people.

I found your blog a couple months ago through a fellow knitter and amateur birder.
I keep reading BECAUSE I particularly enjoy the personal details of your life: your kids, your farm, your "pet dog."
If I had Oscars to give out, you'd definitely get one, regardless of the anonymous blog reviewers and their (decidely ignorant) opinions :)

PS - I love Chet Baker photos so much my own dog is a bit jealous...

I'm in the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset. I look at some of the more interesting blogs out there and typically they are the ones where people write about themselves vs. just trip reports and reporting the latest bird news (the author of this comment is guilty!). I think about you, Birdchick, Susan Gets Native, and others who spend a lot of time writing about their interesting lives. We, the readers, somehow get caught up in it. We learn interesting tidbits about nature along the way and, for me, look to others lives as a way to help our own. Aside from being a terrific artist and author, I don't think that's the primary reason your visitors come and stay for the trip.

First, thanks for your overly-kind comments on my extremely narrow-niche blog JZ (it would mean even more if I didn't suspect you were sipping Whipple moonshine at the time).
And seriously, good to hear directly from "estimable" Mike his thoughts on the matter. Like some others here, I'm not much of a joiner when it comes to 'carnivals,' 'webrings,' 'memes,' and the like (although I'd love to start my own meme if I could think of a really good one), but the NBN did appeal to me because connecting people to nature is so vital these days -- especially people who sit and stare at computer screens much of the day!
Blogs tend to be a labor of love and I don't honestly believe there is a lot of "brilliant" writing out there; just a lot of fairly average writing with moments of brilliance (indeed, many view the growth of blogs as more of the "dumbing down" of the populace!). Again, that is what makes the few blogs like yours JZ, that are consistently engaging, educational, and passionate all at once, so noteworthy. Clearly blogs have something to offer both their creators and their readership, and they're here to stay... and evolve.

Well, I'm not a follower of the Nature Society of Whatever blogs and don't care in the least what reviewers think. While I do enjoy the birds and such (OMG your painting was amazing!!) I do hope you continue to keep writing ALL about your wonderful precious sweet doggy (oh, and the kids OF COURSE too!!) Good work, as always you amaze (and amuse) me.

Julie, I will add to the above comments! I love your blog. I read it everyday! I even posted a link to your blog on my blog long ago! Anyway, keep up what ever you want to write about. It is always interesting!

Shall we make it an even 40 comments? Okay, lets.

I just want to echo everyone's sentiments about keeping your blog just the way it is. Although, since you are a bone e fide scientist, I can understand your chagrin at the reviewer's comment. I think you probably attract way many more naturalist wannabees like myself with your excellent prose, photographs and paintings, making each post a teachable moment.

I also agree with some, there are many, many nature blogs out there that are sooooo dryyyyy.

And, what is with the 10,000 daily hits!!! My lord, I'm relieved when I get ONE comment (bless you, the ever faithful Mary!). But, I'm a lurker by nature, and I know that if you want comments you gotta give 'em.

Signed: one of your faithful flying monkeys

Bless you, Christine, possums are supposed to lurk. This is overwhelming, but pleasantly so. I thought it would be fun to leave this one up over the weekend, because there seems to be a lot to chew on. It strikes a chord because everyone, no matter how kind or misanthropic, wants to be acknowledged. It's amazing how many hard feelings and misunderstandings between people can be traced to that simple desire, that is so rarely fulfilled. I can say that, even as an over-the-top Leo, y'all have filled my heart. Thank you.


I came back here about 5 times today, hoping you'd leave this post up over the weekend. Give your Flying Monkeys time to visit. For your sake, however, I hope not all 800+ don't decide to comment!

Bravo for having the courage to reveal a part of human nature we don't always feel comfortable about sharing. You inspired me to throw caution to the wind and be honest :o)

I am afraid this is the problem with any rating system ,
It is great to be number 1 and then see loads of new visitors but can be no fun if your on the second page.

My wife is a keen blogger on horses and it was quite disheartening in the beginning because the search engines don't love blogs very much. Sites that put the top few blogs up sometimes because of interlinking but not always often because they have been going a long while and can be found in Search Engines so have more traffic leaving the ordinary blogger who knows nothing about SEO or gaining links left in the cold.

Because of that I created a small widget for my wifes site that just includes horse related blogs with Latest Posts , this meant a new blogger had as good of a chance of being found by other like minded bloggers and so far over 20 of the horse bloggers have the widget which means the community keeps up with each other helping to build a sharing community.

I also then created one for MS sufferers for the same reason ( my wife suffers from MS and blogs about it ) and have continued to build around helping blogging communities keep in touch without a rating system


love your blog, never been to one before, Baker makes me miss my Jack Russell of 16 years,"Dottie".
have photos of her in a similar situation. We are enjoying our birds at the feeder as well as the ones in the woods. Flock of 50+ turkeys in the field accross from the house yesterday. Look forward to checking in often and learninig from you. Deb

Well, I came to your blog because of hearing your NPR commentaries (I think it was one about an injured box turtle that made me go looking for it), but I gotta say I check in as often as I do because of the "pet dog". Love the kids and the birds and the nature stuff, but mostly, I adore the dog. Don't change!

Wait a minute....did Bill just call us all Flying Monkeys?

Julie, dear. You said something once in the comments section that I think of a lot: When you did a post about the Fair and the farm machines and your Dad...we seem to have had the same "type" of father, and that upbringing seems to have made a whole generation of approval-seekers, desperately jumping up and down so we are noticed.
When I saw that you had added yourself to the Nature Blog Network, I thought "Well, there we go. Julie's here. So I can kiss #3 goodbye."
But I got shoved down gladly. At least I stay in the Top 100 at FatBirder.
And kid effuvia I can empathize with. And dog-love.

I used to blog for myself (and TO myself, it seems) but readership has become something of a family to me.
Lynne, Laura, Pam, Tom, Liza, Trixie, Mary, Kathi, Nina....I could go on and on. And blogging lead me to RAPTOR, which seems to be my calling in life. And blogging has allowed me to meet wonderful, like-minded souls.
Bird/nature bloggers are a rising wave, and I'm ridin' it in!
As Mike said, we will take over the world!
(and the Revolution will be podcast!)

I've just added you to my Google Reader precisely because of the dog! Oh, and your excellent way with words. But he's completely wonderful. Thanks, from someone way at the bottom of the Nature Blog rankings!

don't change! Your blog is real life, and virtual field trips all in one...lots of us need that!

Ahhh, what the heck, might as well keep this going – dang, I wanted to be #50 too; guess I got tired of waiting – lol!

Well, just wanted to say that I don’t live under a cyber rock but I am new to blogging and I must say that yours is one of the few blogs that I come back to…heck, and I don’t even like to read…so there…lol!
There’s a compliment in here somewhere, I think?...?...

Keep up the good work!

Your friend Alan

Julie, you are a wonderful writer! I found your book at an inn in Adams County and gobbled it up! I tried to savor it slowly but it was too delicious and before I was ready I had finished it. Now I go to your blog for my fix of "Letters From Eden". Thank you.

That (blowing your cover, Catbird) would be Murphin Ridge Inn in the beautiful Amish farming countryside of Adams County. Might as well make a little ad my 51st (!!) comment! Go here:

for details on an artist/writers' weekend retreat in the most simply gorgeous, peaceful and delectable inn I know of. Easy drive from Cincinnati (and Whipple!)

This is SUCH fun. But you know you're spoiling me, very badly.

Dear Julie..

From one who is a reluctant, occasional blogger because I am by nature a hermit and shy,..and megathanks to Mary who helped me get going in blogland...(which was a HUGE step forward for me) I have this to say:

POOH on anonymous!!!!!

I bought your book and fell in love with your writing, and was lucky enough to find your blog thanks to Google.
BLOG? I didn't even know what a blog was. Your blog opened up a whole new world for me.

Your blog brightens my day,
inspires my life, teaches me about birds and art and nature, keeps me laughing, increases my vocab skills, raises my spirits, and makes me want to have a pooch like CB. I wish I lived next door to you..(on the farm next door, that is). You are one amazing person and I will be forever grateful that I found your blog.

Don't change a thing!!!

(besides "Anonymous" is just jealous anyway.)

Luv 'n HUGS!!!

Dear Julie, I found your blog last summer when I Googled "birds nest on edge of pond" and got the post about your porch bucket, wired fix to keep out the rat snake. I thought you were ingenious and who would work so hard for some birdies. Now I read you on weekend mornings and get to travel vicariously with you and yours. I get tickled when I catch you on NPR. When I realized BOTB was the bluebird painter, I sent your link to a friend also named Julie who has a pullover of that painting. Now she is a fan as well. I can't emphasize enough how enjoyable it is reading you.

With appreciation,

You have a unique and magnificent blog, Julie. The artistry you bring to the blogosphere is absolutely unmatched. Your perceptions of the world and the storytelling that springs from them are beautiful, heartfelt, and compelling. Yours is a nature blog in a way that most nature blogs aren't, and that's in the depth and breadth of the human experience you share.

I never join clubs, and even if the dharma bums languishes for dearth of interest, I love nature and politics and write about both.

Julie, this post and its heartfelt responses are sooooooo....GOLDEN. Silly me is jumping up and down for you!

"What you're gonna get here more often is

lots of personal stuff about my farm, kids, and especially my pet dog.

And so I return to my roots."


OK--by the time I caught up with everyone commenting, there are 56 comments. So here comes 57.
I have a different reason for reading your blog.
I don't bird--oh, I watch them and occasionally photograph them, but I am no expert.
I love reading any and all observations you have on birds.
I love to garden--and I love reading your garden posts.
I have two children (now grown) and a dog I dearly love--I love reading about your children and Chet Baker.
But the MAIN reason I read your blog is your command of language. Words are among the dearest things to me--I simply LOVE words. And you have the most expansive vocabulary I have encountered on all the blogs I read. You outstrip my word knowledge, hands down. You have no idea how unusual that is.
So blog on--and all of us will be here, reading you and cheering you on.

Every time I check back in here, I see more and more comments.
Still think you need to change? Still think a site meter really means anything?
You know we all love you, Julie. You are the original Blogzilla.

KGMom is right on. Yeah, your words make me value Merriam Webster at my side. But most of all, they way in which you use them puts all of us in a trance. Yep, that's true, Sally.

I am in love with this blog! Magnifique!

Muska from QC canada:)

This is the post that keeps on giving. Blogzilla! Love it. Love you! See why I want to be you when I grow up!!

All this praise is nice, be we all know we really come here for the sex. I mean, where else can we go to see photos of horny box turtles?

Julie, you not only provide wonderful reading and viewing with your multitude of skills and your great knowledge, but you literally change lives. I heard your NPR commentary on blogging nearly two years ago and it opened a whole new world for me and inspired me to start my own blog. You have changed the way I look at the world and myself, as I'm sure you've done for many others. You make us look for the good in the world and in ourselves. You are a genius with a big heart and it doesn't get any rarer or better than that.

I agree with cyberthrush--after all, your blog may have your family on it, but they're usually out in nature, so it's still a nature blog!

As much as I love nature, I get bored with strictly nature blogs. I come here as much for the family as for the science-y nature stuff you mix in.

63 and counting, very impressive.
I is what I is. to misquote a certain sailor and your blog is what it is. Don't you go changing it, just go with the flow Julie.

holy crap, julie. that best in show clip was hysterical. i haven't seen that movie in a long time. after laughing hysterically at the stupidity of the dog owners the first time i saw it, i can now say that i could actually see myself singing such a song to the likes of chet baker.

I love that dog. I love his name. What great shots of him in the tree. I found myself worrying he wouldn't be able to get out again, that somehow he would just keep climbing up and up. :<) We are in the northeast, and honestly our beeches are not much more than twigs with leaves that never, well, leave. They seem to be the same leaves year in and year out. I'm sure there must be a moment when the old ones go and new ones come, but it isn't a moment I've ever seen.

I realize I am very late to this discussion, but found a link to it on another site and it is exactly what I needed to hear/read today. Thanks for your fine example of staying true to yourself in your blog. I'll be back. Deborah

I agree wholeheartedly with the other comments. I would add that the reasons cited by the negative reviewer are exactly the reasons why your blog is so good - entertaining, with lovely photos on a variety of subjects. Nowhere on your blog have I found anything stating that this is a blog about birding and nothing else.

You have a wonderful blog, and everyone looks forward to reading it. You should be proud that you were ranked so highly on the Nature Blog Network.

I, too, am a Leo, but I think of myself as more of a Cancer. I am sensitive, I don't toot my own horn (not even a peep), and I thirst for validation from other people. So I have an idea of from where you come.

I don't know how certain blogs initially attract all their readers, but I would guess that it is by word of "mouth". I'm a newbie blogger. Owlman has graciously included me in his sphere of online discourse. I've had my blog for only a few months now. I've had something like 190 visits - many of them my own - and a total of maybe 6 comments. I've entertained, and dismissed, the thought of going to other blogs and posting a comment saying "Hey, come look at my blog. It'really cool." LOL

But I know that it will take a while before people hear about it, and I am excited just to be able to put my thoughts, photos, and adventures online and look at it myself!! :)

I can't get sound on your videos!! I love your blog. Ignore the critics.

I love your blog. Ignore the critics.

I love your blog. Ignore the critics; I do.

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