Sunday, September 21, 2014

Missing the good old blogging days

This is pretty much what I used to do--shoot
whatever caught my attention during the
week, then post it with a running commentary
on the photography. I guess I still do that a lot.
So I should add that I heavily edited this shot,
taken near Beaver Creek in Logan Canyon.
 I was trying to make the photo match the memory,

and it's still not there.
The photo journey is definitely ongoing.
I miss the old days of say, 2010. Bloggers posted and readers commented right on the blog. Sometimes they talked to each other. It was almost always civil--here, at least.

It was easy to believe we were building a community.

The bust probably began long before some high profile blogs shut down their comment sections in the last year. Everybody and their dog was blogging, readership was fragmented, and even faithful readers were less willing to spend time on junky content. It just wasn't sustainable. I was as guilty as anybody--a lot of what I posted was a half-step up from crap. But we sure talked about it.

Interestingly, my readership statistics are stronger now than they were in 2010, or I should say, my posts are fewer but they get more hits. The comment section is a lot quieter, though.

I was curious why, so I revisited my blog list, which is about 150 long. Of those, 69 posted in the last month, and the number that posted in the last week was much lower than that.

Some of the inactive bloggers dropped out quietly, others revealed a traumatic life event or said they didn't have time to blog anymore before they said goodbye. A few, I'm happy to say, just got too famous and busy. Of those who remained, many were much less active than they were a few years ago. I understand. Life happens, and I think we all want to do higher quality work.

I am commenting on other blogs less myself, too, because... life. And that next novel.

I can think of at least one blog that looks as active as ever, but it's the exception, not the rule.

Some of the professional bloggers I follow claim the art form is dead as a marketing tool, though it might still have some use for customer service types. Other voices--my favorite bloggers even before the bust came along--say there will always be a place for good writing.

I'm still here, and I'll stay around. I like having a place where I can do whatever the heck I want. Meanwhile, the field is less crowded. The renaissance may come, but the comment section may never recover.

And that's okay. I guess.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pizza Night photo album

I've posted so many pizza photos, I figured they'd just be fluff at this point. But when I got them out of the camera, I couldn't resist.


We all love pizza night, but nobody throws themselves into it more than Chickadee the Cat. She pesters the guests, tries to steal leftovers, and once brought a mouse for Husband to cook. (He didn't, but it sure was fresh!)


I never get tired of photographing flame. My little Nikon took this. It exceeded my expectations.


Rosemary and shoulder bacon on red.


Ricotta and shoulder bacon on pesto.

Wishing you all a happy harvest!



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Frost loss: Herbal pizzas of early fall

The basil took it on the chin this week, but some of the lower leaves survived.
Sage and rosemary are more frost tolerant.

You have to hate that first frost. Even when the weatherman warned you, there's still hope he's wrong. Maybe that cold air won't drop down from Wyoming. Maybe a warm pocket will hover over the garden.

Or not.

Earlier this week, husband covered some plants while I made dinner. The ones he covered survived, at least partly. The exposed tomatoes are history, though, and even the basil that was covered got partly taken down. It's too bad, because this is prime pizza season. Fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs, custom sausage... Well, enough survived that we'll have one more go tonight.

Here are some herbs and how I like to use them on a wood-fired pizza.

Basil:

This is the base ingredient for pesto, and we're rich enough with it, I've been using it for pizza sauce (minus the parmesan cheese). Basil on its own is crucial for a margarita pizza. I also like fresh basil with a smattering of gorgonzola, teaspoon-sized dollops of cream cheese, and mozzarella (fresh, if you care to spring for it) over red sauce.

Sage:

I like sage best on white sauce, paired with onions and sausage. I've also tried it on our version of focaccia, and it's not half bad.

Rosemary:

This is a favorite on our "focaccia" (or Lyon bread, or whatever). I also like it with chicken and both red or white sauce. My favorite use is on white sauce with scallions, fresh tomatoes and parmesan.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Week of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is like coming out of a dark place. But it's work.
An online friend of mine invited me to a Week of Forgiveness, and I took her up on it. It officially started Sunday, and it has brought my own thoughts to the surface.

I have felt the lightness, the life-transforming beauty of forgiving and being forgiven. I’m surprised I don’t do it more often, because I don’t think there’s a better feeling out there.

But forgiveness is a constant battle. My experience is nothing like that tidy ending act in an opera, when two people embrace in a moment of sublime understanding—and then one of them dies.

Real life is a lot messier. My decision to forgive must often be made over and over again, as more mistakes are made or my tendency to hold a grudge reasserts itself. Sometimes I get tired, fighting my own nature like that.

But this week has reminded me how rewarding it is. I remember the sweetness, the amazing clarity that comes with throwing off a burden of anger and hatred.

It’s an exercise of faith as much as an effort of will.  And I’m officially back in the fight.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Summer's over.

It is going to be a sleepless night, and I only have myself to blame. It's a lonely feeling, staring straight up, knowing I am in for some long, miserable hours.

Since I am not sleeping, I have time to mentally kick myself. After that one night in the car, after that disastrous trip to the Bighorns, I should have known better.

Next to me, Husband's even breathing tells me that his flannel pajamas and hotter-than-mine internal thermostat are serving him well. Outside the tent, the wind stirs the pines beneath a clear, star-strewn sky.

How many extra quilts do we have at home, I ask myself. How long would it have taken me to grab just one of them? Thirty seconds to grab one quilt. And one quilt would make the difference between sleep and shivering in a curled-up ball.

At least I have my wool sleep-socks. When I packed them I thought they might be overkill.

Morning comes and I go through way too many matches, coaxing cold, damp pine needle kindling to burn. Eventually I have a fire to huddle by.

All around me, frost glistens. I'm in the Wind Rivers, and summer is over.

I wish I had a picture to go with this, because it really was beautiful. But I forgot the camera, too.




Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back at the ranch, and home again.

This week we fetched our daughter from the Wyoming ranch where she was working and brought her to the place where she will attend a university. This involved a day of solid driving. So how did we break up the monotony?


Actually, it was one of the most beautiful drives I've been on, as storm clouds were low enough to catch on the mountains but light enough to still let the day's color shine through.


Still, we didn't have time to explore--just shoot from the road and move on.


We arrived at the ranch to meet the welcoming committee. She was friendly at first, but didn't want to pose for me more than this one shot.

Then it was back again, with a quick stop for dinner in a Wyoming diner. It had this framed sign over the counter:

Guns welcome.

Please keep them holstered unless needed.

If the need arises, careful aiming is appreciated.

I'm a Wyoming native, and I'm still not sure how seriously to take some of the signs I see there.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Western mystery giveaway.



I first discovered CJ Box's writing on vacation. I was writing Wyoming-themed fiction at the time, so it was nice to discover I wasn't alone. I would look at scenes like the one above during the day and read suspenseful mystery at night. It's no wonder I fell in love with the book (Free Fire) and the bookstore (The Book Peddler).

I was already hooked on Yellowstone.

To celebrate Western literature, I've teamed up with Lady Reader's Bookstuff to offer Truth is Relative for 99 cents through August 22. We're also giving away a free Kindle ebook of Box's latest Joe Pickett mystery, Stone Cold. So drop by her site and sign up for the giveaway.

Summer's over, but you can take a reading vacation anytime.




Emails from home

Most of our email is pretty mundane. Once in a while, though, the immediate flavor of country life sings amid the shopping lists and communications to the office. Here are some stored on our home computer, written by people in our house and edited for privacy.

Some of the terms are softened for a family audience, but not by much.

9/16/2003
Your evil kitty just woke up your son by urping up a mouse on his lion blankie.

10/13/2005
You know you live in a small town when…

...Fifty-year old people born and raised in town are ‘new comers’.

...You are more afraid of locking yourself out of your house than of being robbed.

...The library has a different schedule on every day of the week.

...You are darn proud that your town has a library. Incidentally, your library account is handled not by a card but by a number that the librarian types into her computer. You have trouble remembering it, but the librarian can always tell you what it is.

...You can honestly say, "The Mayor is in front of the house fixing his manure spreader."

4/26/2006
Good news: We caught another mouse.

Bad news: We have at least one more.

Good news: He must be hungry and he thinks of traps as a food source, since he robbed the bait of an un-sprung trap, finished the bait of the sprung one, and ate an eye from his dead brother.

Hope you're done with breakfast.