Background Switcher (Hidden)

Blogging: Year Ten

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I was minding my own bidness this morning, answering a few emails, when my friend Wheatley emailed to congratulate me on my tenth blogaversary.  Well, that was a pure surprise to me because I wasn't even close to remembering that. The only other person I know who's been blogging consistently for ten years is Floridacracker. He's got me beat in posts and longevity, but not by a lot. Every once in awhile he has to marry off a daughter and gets a little distracted, but he keeps popping up like a rubber duckie, giving us a glimpse of the real Florida. When he does, it doesn't feel so lonely out here. And there's Murr, turning out the good stuff from Portland, perfectly twirled, jimmies on top, like some kind of brilliant delicious ice cream machine.

I don't mean to omit anyone. Have to tip my hat to Birdchick, who got me into this in the first place, asking me to guest-blog in December 2005. To which I replied, "What's a blog?"  There are a lot of good bloggers out there, some great ones, too, but most of them seem to have moved on to other media, other stuff, to life itself, not describing life. I'm all for that, in theory. I just can't seem to do it. I would have been a great shepherd, or lighthouse keeper. Put me in a pretty place, give me something to do (clean the salt spray off the lens, birth a lamb or trim a hoof) and man, I'll hang in there for you. A decade. Huh. Well, you have to stay somewhere, and here's mighty fine.

In December, 2005, Phoebe was 9. Liam was 6. They were little kids. Chet was 1, a wasp-waisted pup. I was 47. I didn't own a cell phone or a telephoto lens. I shot everything with a tiny Olympus point-and-shoot that went KCHZIRRRRRR! when you turned it on and KaCLOP when you took a photo. Good grief. I'd love to be 47 now, and know what I know now. You can keep the Olympus.

 But we aren't given to know anything, really; we can't know that ten years later we'll still be faithfully keeping this thing, this weB LOG, having learned all the ins and outs of what to say and what not to say; when to rant (never); when to reveal our deepest, most vulnerable side (never); what to write about. Only the good stuff, thanks; there's enough sadness and bad news out there to paint the globe matte black ten times over.

And keeping it to the good stuff  turns out to be easy for me. Every day, I see and photograph things that I'm still, ten years later, dying to share with you. Holes in the landscape, sky eyes, mirrors on infinity.

What does dawn look like from inside the cornfield? Well, let's climb that hill and see. Who'd ever know that just behind this incredible scene, one of my favorites from this year, a highway project has eaten an entire woodland, all the trillium and Jacob's ladder, the box turtles and foxes and turkeys, gone. 
In this picture, there's only the good.

Blogging fills a hole in me somehow. I'm a compulsive sharer. I'm reminded of that on the now rare and much-treasured times when I can climb the tower with Bill or ride, hike, or run around with my kids. And it's all, "Look at the light!" or "OMG the Three Graces today!" or "Wait 'til you see this sassafras in winter!" "Turkeys!" "Redtail!" "Come down to the greenhouse, there's a flower you MUST see!"

Today, Creole Lady threw out one last blossom for Phoebe to see before going to sleep for a few weeks. 
She's tired, having bloomed hard for a month now, and the fickle solstice sun has failed her. 

This blossom, right at the top of the plant, hung head down, and I found sweet nectar spilling out, and no bee or hummingbird to take it. 
Well, I'll share it here. That way, it won't go completely to waste. We have witnessed it.

I'm grateful for you, the readers, who've stuck with me and want to catch the nectar, see all that great, sweet stuff that would otherwise (horrors!) go unshared. The southeast corner of Ohio, I'd wager, is not a place many would yearn to visit, yet you and I know that its treasure is everywhere, just for the noticing. I love this place with a passion that surprises even me. 

I wonder, if life had dropped me in a city, I would be able to love it like this. I kind of doubt it. I worry sometimes that I'm turning into a recluse, because my favorite times seem to happen when I'm alone, and then I go out for a run and some (more) solitude and wind up yakking for 45 minutes with some person or other I've gotten to know on my dirt-road routes, and breathe a sigh of relief. Nope.  Reclusive, maybe, but not a recluse. Whew. And they seem happy to see me. So, apparently, not a weirdo, either. Always good to check now and then.

You help with all that. You're out there reading, and you're out on the dirt roads with me, too, appreciating these landscapes, these trees, these skies, the animals I've come to love.



Nostrils. My girls.

Buddy. Ohh, Buddy. So much there I can hardly get my arms around it.

The Animal I Love Most. Who is just a little older than this blog. Amazing. All of it, amazing.

Having found a porkchop bone somewhere, and going to find a place to bury it. Got a stick in the bargain.

After the bone burial. December 23, 2015. And of course, I had to wash his face and rinse his eyes out. Twice today. He was in a thing-burying mood. Bill calls him Frost Warning, for his white eyebrows. And just this week, I think, Chet's eyelashes went white. His winky has always been white, glory be! And we love him more than you could imagine, with all his quirks and oddities and that wonderful energy and silliness, still shining so brightly.

Though I almost never read back through it, I'm thankful to have this record of a life lived in the hills and hollers. I sense that, should it survive and remain accessible (always a question with online information), my kids will go back to it to remember how things were and how they looked, what we were doing. Maybe they'll show it to their kids. It's a book, a real-time history such as no scrapbook could ever match. I catch Liam mining the archives all the time, looking up his birthday posts. For that, I'm thankful. It gives me a catch in my throat to see him looking up his own history. And I've used it when I'm at a loss for a subject for those ever-approaching column deadlines, and I know that there are books and books written here that I'll never have time to assemble.

Creature of the moment. It's tremendously difficult for me to write about anything but what's happening now, what I'm feeling and thinking now. For that, blogging is the perfect outlet. I know that some get impatient with me for not spinning travelogues of my insanely cool trips to Central America and South Africa, but the truth is I can't do it while I'm traveling, and when I get back with ten kazillion great photos, all the things that are happening in my little Ohio home, right now, always seduce me into that long embrace with the land right under my feet, now, with the clouds floating over my head, now, with the deer walking lightly into the clearing, now. I think I know him...and I look back in my blogposts, and yes, yes, that's him! Ellen's child! And what cotinga or monkey or eland could be more wonderful than that?

I did 64 blogposts upon returning from the trip of a lifetime to Guyana, and I still wonder how the hell I pulled that off. I want so badly to do it for South Africa. Please know I'm trying to get to it. It's all too wonderful, too big, and oh look at that cloudscape! Hanging out clothes at Christmas time. It's all too beautiful.

I'm grateful to still be here, and endlessly grateful that everything on me still works well and (usually) doesn't hurt. That I can still cover 7 miles in a morning, and Chet, 11 years strong, is still out in front of me, his finely turned legs ticking along like oiled clockwork. I never tire of watching him trot. I know it won't always be so, and it makes me hang on all the more fiercely to him, to the land, the people and the creatures that I love.

I got lost, as I often do during the holidays, when the mercantile world rings and clashes, shrills and jangles and tells us over and over and over that everything's MERRY and BRIGHT, that we'd better not pout, we'd better not fight, and asks us over and over and over if we're ready? Are we ready? Is everything bought and wrapped, cooked and prepared? Hark how the bells All seem to say Throw cares away! Ding-dong Ding-dong that is their song! Gaily they ring while people sing Songs of good cheer Christmas is HERE!! 
Again. Louder. Again. Even louder. And again.

Enough. Too much.

 And a friend said, "Why don't you just go find a warm place and sit, and see what the Universe brings you?"

photo by Shila Wilson

I replied, "Sitting has never worked for me. I have to put some distance between me and what's bugging me. Otherwise, my mind looks for obstacles, flattens itself against them."

But I knew he was right; that getting out was the answer. It's my go-to. And I had my wonderful kids both home to turn to, and I told them to suit up for a December day in the mid-60's. We were going to go put a few miles on our chassis, find a good piece of sky.

And I did find a warm place, and I sat down to see what the Universe might bring. And the sun popped out and the cloudy sky cleared.  I heard a whooshing noise, and two beautiful healthy smart funny big lanky UFO's hurtled down from the stratosphere and landed, right in front of me. FLOOP! Blessings.  And I was ready.

I got the shot.

                           Here's to ten years of good times. I promise to keep them coming.

December 24, 2015                                                                             Post # 2047


Very cool post: I love you and I don't even know you! Well, I feel like I know you, but no, we've never met. Through your blog, I've watched the kids and Chet grow up and you're right, your homeground is so sweet--What a wonderful place and how deeply you share it. Kudos to you on your Blogiversary and keep them coming!

Julie you are an inspiration to me. First of all your harmonious flowing writing but more than that your simplicity, your appreciation of the beauty in your surroundings, your ability to see the gloriousness of your life. I'm trying but so many obstacles, so much clutter. I love that dog, he is the coolest animal ever. He seems so tuned in to you, he knows what you are thinking or so it seems. Have a wonderful Christmas without all that clanging noise. I'm going to try to keep it simple too.

I love this post, love it enough to read through it twice and savor it at 0145 hours when I am dog tired and FINALLY in bed.
So many things fall under the "BLOG" canopy that saying "I'm a blogger " can mean almost anything.
A lot of "blogs" are purely commercial websites, some are purely political, and a few are true weB LOGS...journals of a life.
You are that blogger, the true, Version 1.0.
I like to think I am in that boat with you. It's my story, my ship,and I'm happiest with it when I stay true to the course and remember the prime directive, which is simply, "tell your story."
Not "how can I get more readers", or "who did my rant or dog discipline offend ;)"
I often think if the web is as permanent as we all assume it to be, I am leaving a hell of a resource for my descendents...
In the first ten years I've crossed paths with some wonderful people, only a few who still blog. getting to know you, your crew, and your wonderful blog are at the very top of the "REALLY COOL STUFF THAT HAS HAPPENED THROUGH BLOGGING" list.
Thank you for sharing your world, and although I will probably never forgive you for coaxing me into Facebook, I remain your biggest fan.

Julie. Blessings indeed. I was born and bred in Ohio and came to appreciate its southeast corner and its Beautiful River. But, I have your seamless writing and your joyful photographs to thank for reminding me, for re-kindling that appreciation, that love--for even the little things. Congratulations on your 10th Blogiversary. It's our privilege and pleasure getting to know you and Chet and catching the occasional glimpses of your dear family. You are living proof that we can "bloom where we are planted!"

The first time I met you was at a book signing in Akron, Ohio. You were just starting this blog and your's was one of the first ones I ever started reading. Years ago you posted this quote......
“The lesson which life constantly repeats is to 'look under your feet.'
You are always nearer to the divine and the true sources of your power than you think.
The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive.
The great opportunity is where you are.
Do not despise your own place and hour.
Every place is under the stars.
Every place is the center of the world.”

― John Burroughs

That quote is now posted in my bathroom and has been for years. I read it almost every day and remind myself that there is magic all around me, I just have to be open to it. I can't tell you how many times your blog has inspired me to get off the couch, off the computer, and outside in to my own back yard to explore. Thank you for inspiring and I wish you many more years of weB LOGging!

Thank you so much, Julie, for this gift of yourself that you give to us. Your blog is filled with so much positivity, and it always brings a smile or tears to my face -- usually at the same time! You keep reminding us to notice what is around us; there is beauty everywhere if you only look for it. And you remind us to stay in the present. I admit that this is something I struggle with daily. I'm always angsting about the future or cringing about something in the past. The present is all that exists, and so often we miss it with all our planning and worrying. But you keep reminding us, and maybe someday the lesson will sink in!

I don't know you in a physical time/space framework, but I love you. Much joy to you and your family!

Happy blogaversary. I am so happy that you continue to blog. So many of your posts uplift my day and give me something to think about.

Happy holidays and Happy Blogiversary, Zick! This post came at the perfect time just before we escape the buybuybuyspendspendspends to get out into our own little piece of country and, without any holiday snow in sight, hike in shoes instead of boots. Herm and I are up before anyone else in the house, fussing and packing and dreaming of being away all together. These wonderful words help encourage me and others to find our own dreams and warm spaces to sit and take it all in. Thanks!

Happy blogiversary, Julie! And thank you for all of it.

Oh, how I smiled, and even teared up as I read this post, Julie. I started reading your blog in the fall of 2005, and then got brave enough to start my own in January of 2006. Those were special times, sitting here each morning visiting you, Mary, Ruthie, Lynn, Deb... I lasted five years, and there it is, just floating out there somewhere. I rarely go back to visit, and it makes me sad to think that all my daily thoughts are just floating out there. I can't get the bravery to simply hit "delete," and so it makes me even more in awe that you've kept it going for TEN years! It's been a honor and privilege to watch your sweet ones grow up here. I love that you always focus on the beauty. Your spirit and words make my world a more beautiful place, my friend, and I hope you know how much that means to so many people. I love you and celebrate with you. BLOG ON! XOXO

Happy Blogversary! Keep your posts coming. I love reading them. Merry Christmas!
Lynda in Michigan.

Julie & Co., and especially the Bacon - sharing your lives makes all of ours richer, and we are so appreciative of the gifts that we find here. Congrats on 10 years of blogging - Weezy in Texas

You keep writing and I will keep reading. Love your blogs and yes, nature ground us in a way nothing else can in this old world. Thanks for taking the time to remind us to slow down and suck in all of the good and positive things in life.
Watching cardinals, titmouse, and chickadees do a fly by on the way to the feeders on a balmy 75 degrees with 100% humidity on a fine Christmas Eve.

Tammy in LA (lower Alabama)

Posted by Anonymous December 24, 2015 at 7:13 AM

Best... blog... ever. I've been reading your blog ever since I "discovered" you through your book "Letters From Eden". Saw it at the Dartmouth Booksore years ago now, when it was brandy new - bought it, came home and "looked you up"; hours later, after reading back through your entire blog, I have been following ever since. My favorite posts are always centered around you and your family and your day to day life, esp. with Chet; sure, I love to armchair travel with you but nothing touches my heart more than when you are writing about those and that which you love. Your writing and photos have brought me to happy tears more than once and I am oh so grateful for all that you continue to share with us. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Wishing you a happy and joyful Christmas, filled with love. xo gretchen

Posted by Anonymous December 24, 2015 at 7:35 AM

Florida Cracker lured me into blogging about ten years ago. I haven't posted much in the last few months but I am a faithful fan of yours. I always appreciate it when Chet Baker alerts me to a new post. Happy anniversary! Here's to many more pleasant surprises and years of gratitude.

Be present. And all this beauty will come to you. Nailed... by Julie Zickefoose. Smilin'atcha from FL. g

Posted by Gail Spratley December 24, 2015 at 10:23 AM

And here's to more, unless something else comes along for you.

Here's to many more years. I look forward to your posts, always happy to see a new one.I love reading about Chet and your children and Bill, you are lucky to have them and them you.

🎶have I told you lately that I love you?
🎶well, darlin', I'm telling you now.

Singing my heart out for you.

And I love your husband for calling Chet Baker frost warning, fercrissake.

And I love your children for jumping for joy.

I love you all. Thanks for keeping in touch.xxoom

You are an inspiration indeed. I've been blogging for five or six years and every year I manage fewer and fewer posts. It's hard. I suspect those of your readers who've never written one have no idea the time it takes, especially when you include photos. The time to sort and edit and organize and.... And so I am amazed, and grateful, that you have stuck with it, so consistently, for so long. Happy Holidays!

You better!!Just saying... Congrats on 10 yrs of sharing a wonderful life. Many, many thanks.

I love your blog. Congratulations on ten years! What an accomplishment. Can't wait to read about the next ten.

Stay with it, Miss Julie! You and yours are a light in a dismal world. Your way with words is an inspiration, an encouragement. I wanna be like you but..oh yes, I can't paint, write like you, travel in an airplane so will never see South America or Africa. I will depend on you for those word pictures, those camera pictures of what you see.

Keep up the good work. I appreciate it.

I can only repeat what others have said----I look forward to every blog post and can't believe it's been a decade!

Posted by mary ellen grimaldi December 25, 2015 at 6:22 PM

Happy Blogiversary! I started in 2002, fresh out of college. It was a time when people still bloged with screennames and pseudonyms. If you blogged with your real name you were a Big Deal. Soon everyone decided it wasn't as scary to use your real name and then more blogs cropped up. I have always hated the lament, about every two years, that blogging is dead. It isn't, there's a lot of us die-hards out there! My readership has never been huge but I don't generally write for readers.

I too have loved Pure Florida for years, and found him when I was still living in Florida. A great storyteller, that one.

Have followed your blog ever since attending a Murphin Ridge Inn writing workshop with you as presenter. Grateful to you for your faithfulness to blog readers!

You want to share what you see and what you feel and blogs are the perfect place for words and pictures. Thanks so much for sharing all those wonderful things with us.

Congrats on 10 years of sharing & making so many of us happy! In a nutshell...please don't change a thing because we love you & yours just the way you are!

Posted by Robin Ford December 30, 2015 at 2:17 PM
[Back to Top]