I made the decision to start my blog after reading Joy Cho’s book, Blog Inc., on vacation over three years ago. One of the many things the author promised I’d discover as a blogger was a thriving, creative, supportive community. The thought of that warmed my heart.
I have been blessed to find many friends in the blogosphere. My first friend, Tamara Jare of My Botanical Garden, visited my site when it was only two days old and became one of my first subscribers and a loyal reader.
But, beyond that, we became pen pals. I’ve never met Tamara, but I’m sure I’d recognize her if she came walking into my living room right now. We’d hug and I’d ask her to sit down in my incredibly comfy velvet club chair while I poured her a glass of champagne. And, then you’d know what would happen? We’d talk for hours.
First, I’d thank her for the incredibly generous gift she sent to my home. It was just another day, until I heard the dogs announce a delivery truck and then my daughter called upstairs to me.
“Mom, you’ve got an envelope from your friend in Slovenia!”
I have a friend who lives 6,000 miles away! That delights me so much!
Thank you Tamara for the lovely gift. The watercolor is simply exquisite. It will be a delight to take it to the frame shop…someday. I’ll frame it in gold to complement my first piece of your art. You’ve made my life and my space fuller and more beautiful.
Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all.
I’m old. I started my blog when I was 57 and I just turned 60. I majored in journalism in college and learned to write on a typewriter. My work would come back from my professors full of comments and corrections written in red ink…the proverbial blood bath.
I so greatly anticipated receiving editorial criticism. It gave me direction. It presented a challenge and I love challenges. I’d set to work cutting and pasting, in the old-fashioned way, with scissors and tape. I did not conserve paper. The wastebasket was always full of twaddle. Final copies included a dot or two of white out to conceal typographical errors. I expected to re-write everything multiple times.
The shorter the piece, the longer it took to hone it. It’s much more difficult to communicate a clear message in a concise way. I was taught to take every piece I wrote and start by crossing out, with a pencil, every other word to get a sense of how it might be pared down.
One did not share her work with anyone other than an instructor or editor until it had been revised and re-written numerous times. It wasn’t as simple as having a thought, writing it down and sending it out into the world.
After my only child left the nest for college, a younger friend suggested that I start a blog, I chuckled. I’m a perfectionist. Writers should edit and re-write. How could I possibly maintain a regular blogging schedule and still turn out readable copy at a level that I felt comfortable with?
I’ve been a blogger for three years now. I’m renewing and refreshing my site with the help of a young consultant who has probably never met a typewriter. As I review the entirety of my posts to bring clarity and focus to the pink shed, I’m struck by the pride I feel for what I’ve created.
I’ve found errors …awkwardly phrased sentences, an extra space here and there and more than one grainy looking photo. But, life is like that. Imperfect. My blog is imperfect and I’m okay with that!
I’ll continue to send my letters to you dear readers for these very good reasons:
Blogging gives me an emotional and creative outlet.
It provides an opportunity for me to enhance my technological understanding and skills.
The blogging community is great.
It’s wonderfully fun!
I love discovering quotations from accomplished writers who acknowledge the difficulty of the art form. Katherine Mansfield was impressive and yet she dared to honestly talk about the craft of writing. I respect that.
We can not all be best-selling authors or famous bloggers, but that’s not an excuse. There’s no reason to hold back. Share what’s in your heart. Life is short. Life is precious. We must see that now. Have the courage to create a perfectly imperfect masterpiece in the genre of your choice. I promise, you’ll feel good about it.
Nothing like a pandemic to re-ignite one’s creativity! You may have noticed that I’ve returned to the page. I can not say why my move to Sacramento silenced me, nor why a pandemic would motivate me, but it feels good to send my letters into the blogosphere again.
From the Pink Shedis three years old now and I decided I’d like to re-commit to it in every possible way. I’ve got the time now. And, I very much need a break from house cleaning.
So, I hired Joel Williams, a 2019 Cal Poly graduate to help me. It was my daughter’s idea! I’d been telling her that I wanted to polish the look of my blog, but I didn’t know how to do it.
“No, mother, you can not do it on your own and I can’t help you!” she told me one day.
Very sad. But, then she surprised me. She asked a friend if he was interested in working with me. He is! I’m so happy!
Joel graduated Magna Cum Laude in the same class as my daughter in December 2019. He’s got a degree in Graphic Communication with a concentration in Web and Digital Media. I know! So, what’s he doing working on my humble site? Nope, pastel pink is not his favorite color!
Unfortunately, he is one of millions of people who have lost their jobs in the past couple of months. He was just beginning his role as an intern in Talent Acquisition Marketing with the Walt Disney Company when the pandemic hit. He left Burbank to return to his family home in Atascadero to wait, as we all are, for things to return to some semblance of normalcy.
I’m really very fortunate to be able to take advantage of his knowledge and expertise. And, it pleases me to think that in some small way, I’m helping him. I figure if he can improve my technical knowledge and abilities, he’s up to the challenges that will await him later in his career.
Please watch for changes to my site and please do let me know what you think!
There is something both comforting and encouraging about watching this bulb blossom as I attempt to bring focus and meaning into this new year.
I hope your life is unfolding in wonderful new ways, too.
P.S. The cute little bear in the window, a gift from my husband, is a Margaret Hudson design. Margaret began creating art to support her family when her husband became unable to work. She became well known and loved in the Central Valley of California and beyond.
Last you heard I’d found my voice. Well, easy come easy go! I’ve been down with a cold the past week. It’s been doubly hard because I was mentally prepared to charge into 2020.
Last year was a difficult one as we moved from Carmel California to Sacramento. Everything changed. I slipped into depression and gained ten pounds. I’m feeling stronger and ready to chase the attainable yet challenging goals I’ve set for myself.
But, I’m currently practicing patience. Life is like that. At 59 years old, I’ve learned that things don’t always go as planned. The year is young. It’s only beginning and I hope to flower, in time, with proper care.
Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, is dead. I feel heavy writing those words as if I lost a friend. I am simply another reader…one of millions. But with her books in my hands, I’ve felt the companionship of a friend. I’ve nodded my head or spoken aloud as if in conversation with her. And, so it would be true to say that we had a relationship. That was the power of Mary’s art. That’s what made her so well-loved.
She was the rare poet who sold well. My social media feeds are filled with her brilliantly strung together words and moving tributes from regular people like me and her famous admirers like Hillary Clinton, Madonna and Oprah.
When I heard the news of her death, I retreated to my shed to pull her book Dog Songs from my shelf. The book popped open to page 31:
BENJAMIN, WHO CAME FROM
WHO KNOWS WHERE
What shall I do?
When I pick up the broom
he leaves the room.
When I fuss with kindling he
runs for the yard.
Then he’s back, and we
hug for a long time.
In his low-to-the ground chest
I can hear his heart slowing down.
Then I rub his shoulders and
kiss his feet
and fondle his long hound ears.
Benny, I say,
don’t worry. I also know the way
the old life haunts the new.
I read that poem as a dog lover, a hound lover, to be precise. But, I also read it as a person whose old life can be haunting. In one of the rare interviews Mary gave, she spoke of her unhappy childhood that included sexual abuse and parental neglect.
“I had a very dysfunctional family, and a very hard childhood,” Mary told Maria Shriver. “So I made a world out of words. And it was my salvation.”
Thank you Mary for sharing your world with me. The joy, solace and inspiration your words have given me are alive. Still. On my bookcase.
My daughter insists that she remembers the day we passed a tattoo shop in Lahaina, HI and I said, “Someday, I’ll get one!” She was five years old, so I would have been 42 years old. I don’t remember the moment, but I’m sure it’s true.
I stop to admire people’s tattoos all the time, and sometimes I ask if I can take a picture. My phone is full of random shots of stranger’s body art. So, when Natalie told me she had a second ear-piercing done at a tattoo shop, I thought…it’s time! I visited her the following weekend and asked her to accompany me to Traditional Tattoo. I figure a college town is a great place to find a good shop; they work in volume.
Before an artist begins to work on you, there’s paperwork to be completed. I laughed out loud when I read the question on the consent form asking if I was drunk or in any other way unable to make a sound decision. Ha, ha…I thought…I’ve been planning this for 16 years!
Then I met my artist, Brian, and told him my story and showed him a picture. I wanted a shell on my ankle because two of the three most important people in my world have or continue to call me “Shell.” My dear, sweet brother, who was four years younger than me, could not say: “Michele.” So, he abbreviated from a tender age and continued to call me that until he died in July 2001.
Sometimes, when there’s a death, little things like nicknames will disappear. But, I’m fortunate. My husband of 32 years mourned the loss of Matt with me. And, he picked up where my brother left off and still occasionally calls me “Shell.” It always touches my heart when he does. (I haven’t told him that…oh, now I have!)
There’s one more very good reason for me to carry a shell around with me; I’m leaving my home by the ocean to move to a tree-lined street in the city! You can read more about that right here in the coming weeks.
Brian checked out my photo and asked if I’d like it exactly as shown or if I wanted him to artistically interpret it. You guessed it. I told him to put on his artist’s cap. He came back a short time later with a tracing of a shell and I agreed to it immediately. I was then ushered back to a room that resembled one in a dentist’s office…if the dentist was really wild.
I took a seat in the dental chair and felt the butterflies alight in my tummy as he cleaned my ankle and started to prep for work.
“Two things,” he said. “Do not move without first giving me a head’s up. AND NO WHINING!”
“I don’t whine,” I said as my daughter took my hand and nodded in agreement.
He began the work slowly pausing to allow me to gauge the level of pain I was going to feel. I knew I could handle it. It’s a small tattoo. From prep to clean-up, it was a mere twenty minutes and we passed the time easily talking about his three daughters and the ink he’d placed on his wife’s body. We laughed when he told us that he sometimes gets carried away checking out his work and noting needed touch ups when his wife would rather he stay focused on her other assets.
My art was covered with a special, medicinal tape used for burn patients, so my after-care has been easy. Nothing was needed until I gently peeled back the tape four days later. After another four days, the redness has dissipated and I love the look. I continue to simply clean it and apply Thayers Witch Hazel Toner and Vanicream lotion to alleviate the itching.
As we left Traditional Tatoo, my daughter asked if I’d be back for more art. My initial response was “No!” But, within ten minutes, I noticed that I kept referring to my shell as my FIRST TATOO!
Let me introduce you to Amy. She’s wearing her Aunt Bessie’s tablecloth, and she’s so happy that I noticed just how magnificent it is!
I had an amazing sandwich at a tiny little neighborhood restaurant in Sacramento last week. Despite how very hungry I was when I walked through the door, the first thing I noticed was that dress and the woman who wore it so joyfully.
I never hesitate to compliment people…why should I…that’s my thinking. I see it…I like it…I say it! And, sometimes I am rewarded with a great story, as I was on this day.
“Excuse me,” I said as she hurriedly passed me. “But, I must tell you that I adore your dress.”
“Oh, it was once my aunt’s Christmas tablecloth and I inherited it!”
Well, that’s not something you hear everyday, I thought. But it helped explain the great happiness that I felt emanating from this woman. Her aunt saved the bright red, hand-embroidered cloth for just a single day each year. Her niece remembers it fondly.
“I wasn’t sure what to do with it,” she continued. “Then one day my friend offered to turn it into a dress so that I could enjoy it all year long.”