Zero-Visibility Blogging: My Second Blogiversary!

January, 2014

I just drove my daughter to the airport on this week’s second white-shrouded zero-visibility travelling morning.

Metaphorically, on my second blogiversary it remains difficult to see all of gems which may glitter in the most unexpected places once the fog lifts.

Ireland 1726

Grief has quite the half-life.

I continue to marvel at the geographic variety both among the blogs I follow and the people who drop in on my little site–sometimes accidentally, as are, no doubt, the people who persist in being disappointed by reaching my fly-balls-at-Fenway post after typing “live shagging” into their search engines.

Readers from 96 countries have dropped in this year–two countries up from last year, though I haven’t yet figured out which two, or whether other countries shifted and realigned on the list.

In the cyber-house today, so far, have been visitors from the United States, Canada, Estonia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic.

The convicted murderess who shares my name continues to be one of the top leading search terms.  (As I said to the person who once accidentally phoned our home seeking the public defender’s office, “Boy, do you have the wrong number.”)

And the late lamented Solitario Jorge continues to be the most common search term that does not involve my own name.   Close to this magnificent tortoise, in search term popularity, are chickens: specifically, the no-nonsense chickens of whom Pablo Neruda professed to grow weary.

Disdainfully down/He casts his small eyes, as if/Weary of humans
Disdainfully down/He casts his small eyes, as if/Weary of humans

My random thoughts remains well (and oddly) distributed.  On a single day, I was amused to find that readers had reached assorted posts by searching terms as diverse as “variegated temple bamboo,” “duke of earl,” “jose saramago elephant onomatopoeia man,” “fibonacci spiral and cancer,” and “sibling rivalry irish twins.”

This year’s runaway most popular post was The Rusty Nail.  Somewhat oxymoronically, that rusty nail was Freshly Pressed, an honor bestowed upon Disbelieving Dark during my first year of blogging.  Both prominently featured birds, my messengers from the husband I lost to pancreatic cancer.

I briefly experimented with new graphic formats for the blog, but returned to my original formatting theme, which happens to go by the name “Twenty Ten”–the year my husband Jim was diagnosed, before he was with us in the way writing this blog helps me preserve his life with us.  Coincidence?

I am grateful to anyone who pops in and reads a post, accidentally or otherwise, and especially to those who take the time to leave such wonderful comments and open up their own hearts and memories.

Here’s to year number three, and perhaps a little more lifting of the fog.


The Size of the Cloth


“Who am I?  Why am I here?” was an uncomfortable rhetorical device at a 1992 Vice-Presidential debate.

Today we bloggers have been asked to address that question.

Jean Valjean posed the musical question.  Just weeks before my husband Jim was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we had listened to the song with our daughters in a London theater.

Who am I?  What am I doing here on a blog about love and loss?

I’m a mom of sons and daughters, a widow at an age at which I never previously could have imagined losing my husband.

I’m a friend, a teacher, an attorney, a quilt designer and maker.

I’m a terrible, verging-on-dangerous, cook–not so much for the content of my frequently failed culinary creations, but due to inattention: I am likely to wander off with water or worse boiling on the stove or something blackening to an unrecognizable state in the oven.  Not much of a domestic goddess either.  And I can’t do math.

I started out here almost two years ago, mainly for therapeutic reasons.  I discovered early on that I needed to write about our family and about our loss.  Most important, my husband entrusted me with his story.

Writing helps me remember and preserve what is important.  Like a first-to-fall domino, a flash of a single scene with all of our younger ghosts can lead to a cascade of the extraordinary ordinary, thoughts and feelings recaptured, pieces reassembled.   Wanderers returned home.

Sure, I could have kept my own grief’s open wounds to myself–perhaps hand-stitched quilts in shades of black; stayed in a darkened room and sipped amber tea; and in wee, sleepless hours scratched my illegible looping script thoughts in journals for my eyes only. With a house full of children and beagles, that wasn’t really a winning option.

I certainly could have kept to myself the shame of having fled a surgeon’s office in panic when he and my husband began animatedly discussing his labyrinthine pancreatic tumor, pointing to it on a laptop as if it were a piece of abstract installation art and not a killer poised to take my husband from us.

I need not have travelled to more than thirty hospitals to talk to health care providers about what it is like to receive such news and to live and love in the space between diagnosis and death and thereafter.

But then no one who didn’t know my husband–with the possible exception of the medical and dental students who knew his first name as they worked with his body–could have learned from the remarkable way he lived his too-short life.

The people who travelled those three seasons in hell with us might not have known how important they were, or appreciated the many things they did which were so important to us.

So here I am.

I like to think I’ve evolved a little over the time I’ve been blogging, pressing the “publish” button on more than 260 posts.

Now I think I’m here at least in part because writing, and receiving feedback from people all over the world, has helped me see both the “size of the cloth” of sorrow and the persistent presence of kindness.

Jim had his own way of sending me on this path: “You’ll get through this,” he told me. “Lots of people do.”  He, of course, knew I would have unflagging help from our friends and family.

He saw the whole.

It’s easy to get consumed by one’s corner of the cloth, wrapped tightly in an overwhelming loss.

It can be daunting to rejoin the world still out there, whether it’s the front path or the internet blogging community.  Above and below are pictures I took near my front path today, in a gathering blizzard.  I’m glad to be in both places.



January 2013 (c) SMG

Exactly one year ago, with considerable technical assistance from my daughter, I began the adventure of blogging.  I thought it might be a good way to organize my thoughts and keep a circle of family and friends enlightened as my children and I tried to navigate the first year after my husband Jim’s death.

I thought it might also enable me to share Jim’s story, and help keep him with all of us.  His unerring grace could be an example–perhaps, most of all, to me.

Along the way, I have been surprised and moved by responses from people we know and people we likely will never meet.  More than 900 readers have taken the time to leave comments on the first year’s posts.  Two of my five most frequent commenters are women I have never met, but I can say with certainty that I adore them and their writing and know we would be “real-life” friends.

I have been inspired by other bloggers’ stories and photographs and artwork, and enlightened by their perspectives.

My most-read post was not the one that was “Freshly Pressed”; it was an account of an event I never could have conceived of when I started the blog.

Blogging has brought me fun facts: in the past twelve months, people have dropped in from 95 different countries, including the Isle of Man, Panama, Finland, Luxembourg, Gabon, Djibouti and Morocco.  Today people have visited from four continents, and 14 countries are represented among this week’s readers.  In the last seven days, the second leading source of visitors was Trinidad and Tobago.  I have seen my posts translated into Arabic and Russian and Spanish and Japanese.

I have learned that people who type in the search term “live shagging” are likely looking for something very different than they get here: an account of Jim shagging flies on the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

Evidently Pablo Neruda’s poetry is very popular among my readers, as is the late and lonesome Solitario Jorge.

My name is the most common search term.   At first I was a bit unnerved at the frequency of searches which couple my given first and last name with “murder” and “murdered.”  I soon discovered that a notorious murderer shares my name.

The search terms “Freddy Krueger tombstone” and “biker gangs in Scotland” also somehow will get you to my posts–as will “weary of chickens,” “bad beagle blog,” “indigo autistic idiot savant syndrome,” and, “did albert einstein know what a quark was?”

My favorite search engine phrase is the amazingly elaborate one that included this snippet: “during consultation, the patient said that he is married to a fairy that he loves so much and that he can hear voices from space telling him that his daughter. . .” (My search engine page leaves me hanging at that; I wonder what this reader may have been looking for?). Continue reading “Blogiversary!”

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