A Blogosphere Blessing

With the corn half-grown and the rising heat of summer melting and bubbling the tarred-road boundaries of my world, our great migration began. From a secure and well-loved home eight blocks east and five blocks north of the courthouse square, I was to be uprooted and carried to a house nine blocks west and thirteen blocks south of that same square. It might as well have been Uzbekistan. They can move without me, I thought. They can have their new house. I’ll stay here. They’ll be sorry…

A morose and angry twelve year old, I pitched my version of a fit. I refused to talk. I refused to pack. I didn’t want to move. I may not yet have absorbed the word “subdivision”, but I’d seen the reality. Flat, barren and treeless, its low, porchless houses ambled through bare and dusty plots of land.  There were no cherry trees to climb, no patches of wild asparagus, no hollyhocks to pluck and stitch into fragile, short-lived dolls.

On the other hand, the new house did offer a turquoise bedroom and twin big-girl beds. When my parents discovered a favorite school chum’s family would be living only two blocks away, there was the gift of a grown-up bicycle and unexpected permission to ride it to her house.  I grew less morose, particularly when my parents mentioned there would be a party. I’d never heard of house-warmings, but I knew about parties.

In the late 1950s, we wore gloves to church, dressed for town and cut crusts off our sandwiches. When an occasion for a party presented itself, the same attention was paid  to detail and “proper form”. Days – perhaps even weeks – were spent planning and preparing the menu. There would be individual cheese balls, tiny cream puff shells for shrimp or crab and cocktail meatballs no larger than grapes. There would be colored toothpicks galore sporting little chunks of this and that, and above all, there would be drinks.

On the night of the house-warming, one friend of my father who’d had a few of those drinks wandered away and had to be fetched back from the cornfields. The hunt was easy and hilarious, since he was belting out an indeciperable song con spirito, but the true highlight of the evening was the acknowledgement of my parents’ accomplishment.

Most of their friends had come to our small Iowa town within a few years of each other, and most of the men worked together as engineers at Maytag.  They knew each other well, and had grown into a close-knit community. World War II had affected them all, and its reminders were everywhere. Rebuilding – lives, relationships, a country – was the name of the game, and building a new house as part of that rebuilding effort was well worth celebrating.

For my father, the son of an Iowa coal miner, a survivor of the depression and an engineer by virtue of knowledge and skill rather than academic degrees, the experience was especially sweet. He was rightfully proud of his accomplishments and of the doggedness that had made the house possible. When the community gathered around he and Mom for a night of affectionate celebration, the gifts they brought and the congratulations they offered warmed even the heart of this formerly morose twelve-year-old girl.

Musing over my parents’ housewarming today, I realize anew how important that sense of community was for them.  After the complexities of building a house, after so many hours spent in the process – meeting  architects, pulling permits, revising plans, dealing with cost overruns – it had to have been unbelievably touching to be surrounded by friends offering gifts and congratulations, friends eager to tell them in a multitude of ways, “It looks wonderful”.

Eventually I had my own “house-warmings”, though they were, strictly speaking, dorm room-warmings, cottage-warmings and apartment-warmings. Still, each occasion was touched by joy, gratitude, a sense of adventure and the sheer pleasure of sharing new surroundings with friends.

When this blog was new and readers of my first, tentative postings on another site showed up for a “blog-warming”, I was utterly charmed. I’d never thought of transferring the concept of house-warming to a blog, but I liked it immediately. Even with widgets and links still fighting over placement and a few boxes of paragraphs and images still waiting to be unpacked, I didn’t mind guests.

After all the solitary hours at the computer, after all of the revisions and unworkable plans and mysterious obstacles encountered while trying to create something pleasing, it was wonderful to have friends stop by with their virtual covered dishes, cinnamon pinwheels and bottles of wine, saying, “It looks wonderful.”

Today, Google shows 10,700,000 entries for housewarmings, but only 9,520 for blog-warmings.  I’m not surprised, and I certainly don’t expect Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson or Ree Drummond to pick up on the trend and publish blog-warming recipes or lists of virtual gifts.

But those who are part of this sometimes brave, occasionally snarky and offensive but always entertaining new world, those who are helping to re-shape old traditions  in new and creative ways, know the truth. Human beings are meant to connect. Laughter and good wishes are an appropriate response to new adventures, and gratitude for what has been often walks hand in hand with joy in new possibilties. Whether it’s a traditional house-warming or a modern blog-warming, the point is the same: life is better in community.

In the old days, there was a common Irish blessing for house-warmings.

May the roof above us never fall in
And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.

For our new day, the old blessing still applies, though slightly amended for people who have yet to meet.

May the hard drive that connects us never crash,
And may we good companions around it never clash.

Comments are welcome. To leave a comment or respond, please click below.

72 thoughts on “A Blogosphere Blessing

  1. I grew up in one of those suburban paradises as well, and my dad – a self made man who didn’t graduate from high school but was able to own a successful small business for 40 years -was justifiably proud of giving his family what passed for high style in the post-WWII era.
    I enjoyed the freedom of having friends nearby, of being able to ride my bike to school and to the brand new McDonald’s Golden Arches restaurant at the end of the subdivision. The moms in the neighborhood hung out together, drinking coffee in each other’s living rooms in the winter, and slugging back Cokes on the porches in the summer.

    It was a good time.

    Nowadays we huddle around our laptops, Skypeing with friends and family on all four corners of the world.

    A blessing on ALL our “houses” – cyber and otherwise :)

    1. Becca,

      It’s easy to ridicule and criticize the 50s – there were issues galore needing to be dealt with. Still, while I’m glad to be done with organdy aprons and whites-only drinking fountains, there were values I absorbed which I still treasure: self-reliance, a sense of responsibility, an assumption that people should be treated decently, honesty, thrift, and so on.

      Certainly there were times when I thought my parents and their friends lived unbearably ordinary and boring lives. Now? I live an ordinary life, and I’m quite happy for it. It’s not nearly as boring as I thought!

      We did have enormous freedom then – far more than we have today. Between government regulation and social decay, it’s becoming a quite different world. I’ll keep living in the “house” my parents built, thank you very much!


      1. Speaking of houses, even the metaphorical one your parents built, the Greek word for house was oikos, and that’s what has given us the eco- of ecology. In my personal ecology, I grew up in a household that held thousands of books, and that formation has stayed with me, even though, as you point out, there were also plenty of problems back then, as in any age and any household.

        1. Steve,

          A household containing thousands of books, and a life-long interest in words. I wonder if the two could be connected? I suspect they are, just as I suspect your own parents probably held and encouraged an ecumenical view of the world. (That “oikos” does get around!)

          One of the nice things about “oikos” is that it can apply both to the “house” as a structure and to the “household” – that is, to all of the persons living together there. I noticed your remark that the “household” held the books, implying the human element missing in the phrase “a house filled with books”. That’s very nice.


  2. Now, if only we could find a way to cyber-transfer those individual cheese balls. (Yes, indeed, I remember them, too–along with cream cheese-filled celery sticks.) At our house, we still have colored toothpicks, which we bring out at every opportunity (we seem to have an endless supply). And you know what (as it’s happened to me), even if the hard drive does crash, we’ll find a way back. Lovely post.

    1. Susan,

      I forgot the celery sticks! And the pimento cheese that came in the small glass jars we used as juice glasses once they were emptied. Of course, the height of – something – in those days was the plate of sandwiches made for bridge clubs with bread cut out in the shape of diamonds, clubs, spades and hearts. And don’t forget the bridge mix….

      Having experienced my own hard drive crash, I have to agree – we’ll find a way back. The neighborhood’s too interesting to let it go. (Note to self: finding your way back is easier if you’re faithful about your backups!)


        1. The fact that I know this is just slightly pathetic. $1.75 each at the local antique emporium. I’ve given up the buying and selling, but I still take a look now and then .

          And if Wiki is right, I just learned something. I was curious about our variant spellings. It turns out that “pimiento” is Spanish and “pimento” is Portuguese! Kraft used pimento for their product.

    1. montucky,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. The communities that form here are heart-warming, aren’t they? Despite the foolishness that exists in some corners of the cyberworld, there’s enough creativity and enjoyment to keep us all going for a while!


  3. I remember the hollyhock dolls of my youth, but none here in tropical Australia in my elderhood. :-) Thanks for that posting that lovely photo. Hollyhocks resonate with family memories. You write a lovely story.

    1. JaM,

      I have to make do without hollyhocks here in Texas, too – they’re so lovely, and I miss them. There were great stands of them along the side of my first home, in a variety of colors. They were beautiful, and fine playthings.

      I’m happy to have stirred some memories. Thank you for the visit and the kind words. You’re always welcome!


  4. I’ve not experienced a blog-warming, but it is a wonderful idea. What I HAVE experienced, and continue to benefit from, is the sense of community. There is nothing virtual about how it functions in my life and how we manage to touch one another. In the writing, in the reading, in the comments given and received. When I have felt too alone, as opposed to pleasingly alone, I’ve read the blogs I enjoyed and found new ones–and reached out. People reach back, over our backyard fences.

    Your story resonated, from start to finish. You weave a tale I cannot leave until it’s done. Then I want it to continue. What more can we ask of writing?

    1. Jeannette,

      Now and then I think about how fearful of the internet I was in the beginning. I’d been warned of dangers lurking around every corner – who knew what ax murderer might find you and show up at your doorstep? Who knew what nastiness might show up on your blog page?

      I think most of us had some of those fears, but as time passed, we learned the truth – moving into this neighborhood is no different than moving into any neighborhood. There are gossips and out-of-control kids, helpful sorts and those who clearly don’t want to socialize. Some people tend their yards, while others pile car parts and old mattresses next to the garage. So it goes.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my little tale – and thank you for your very kind comments. I suspect no writer is more pleased than when someone says, “This resonated…”


  5. That is such a tender age, Linda…12. Daughter Amy was also 12 when we had so much upheaval in our lives, and 14 when we moved to Madison, WI, from Pasadena, CA. I’m guessing the two of you could share much chagrin from those memories.

    In the end, it all seems to work out precisely because we DO build community wherever we go…or perish. I guess it’s the way we’re wired, thankfully. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to do this well on all the levels of our lives, even here in Blogland!

    1. Ginnie,

      I think you’re right. The ability to build community in the midst of chaos – even the chaos of a family move – does help us to survive.

      Of course, there’s also the truth that things often aren’t as painful in reality as they are in our imaginations! All of the horrors I imagined prior to that early move were forgotten by the end of summer. I had imagined total isolation. The truth was I had a good friend nearby, and met plenty of kids to walk to school with. I made new friends who came to my new house for sleepovers, and the swimming pool and ice skating rink were within walking distance.

      When I think about it, the dynamics of moving into a cyber-neighborhood aren’t so different. We introduce ourselves, look for friends with similar interests and values, and begin developing a history together. Simple, no? ;)


    1. philosophermouse,

      We made so many of our toys from parts of the natural world – flower dolls, bark boats to sail in the gutters, baskets woven from willow switches, wreaths of spirea for our hair. Oh – and crab apples, the weapons of choice in our “wars”! We had “store-bought toys”, of course, but we surely did love the ones we made.

      I do like those blessings. I’m sure everyone’s experienced a family “falling out”, and anyone who hangs around the interwebs long enough is either going to see or get caught up in a conflict of one sort or another – but there’s not a thing wrong with wishing it doesn’t happen!


  6. We moved once, when I was thirteen, from a house in the country to another house still in the country, but on the edge of town and right on a lake! I was in heaven. I yearned to see more of life than that small house on a small farm had offered, despite my love of the woods and field. I had a new adventure and couldn’t have been more pleased. But, something happened to my family in that move and our lives changed forever in a different way. Nothing horrible, just quite different, and a price, of sorts, was paid.

    I knew very little about suburban living, but I find it interesting how being upwardly mobile for post-WWII parents meant moving to the ‘burbs, or moving upward while in them, and that usually meant a new house with more of the accoutrements that life seemed to bring. I can so understand appreciate that you came to recognize what that change meant for your parents and why a party was called for under such circumstances.

    I love the sense of community that blogging creates. It means a great deal to me. I’m particularly glad that we belong to this community together. I so enjoy reading your posts. Your writing is just top-notch.

    1. Teresa Evangeline,

      I suspect that’s part of the reason everyone becomes just slightly nervous when it’s time to pick up and move. No matter how desirable the change, no matter how reasonable, no matter how hoped for – there’s no way to predict the unintended consequences. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not – but different is different, and everyone has to adjust.

      I actually remember the first unintended consequence of our move. I was terrified of dogs, but the path to my new school led straight past the home of a fenced, barking dog. I was miserable, until a neighbor told me dogs could sense fear and I should pretend not to be afraid when I walked past it. I pretended, the dog stopped barking, and the fear left me forever!

      I must say that my understanding of my parents has grown in the past decade. My mother’s family, for example, was truly poor during the depression, for a variety of reasons. There were stories my mother never told me because she didn’t want me to know how desperately poor they were. Now, I wish she had, because I would have understood some things much earlier. But our knowledge always is limited and imperfect, even under the best of circumstance, so we do the best we can.

      It is a wonderful community, isn’t it? I didn’t realize how much a community it is until one of my absolutely favorite bloggers simply disappeared into thin air. There was quite a search mounted to find her. We did find out she still was alive, but she never came back. One day, her blog just disappeared.

      It was so painful for so many people that several of us made arrangements to have someone post to our blogs if something happens to us! But we’ll hope that doesn’t happen for a while!

      And thank you so much for your kind words – I’m glad you enjoy my writing.


  7. Blog-warming, what a super idea. But how do you get people to come to you when nobody knows you or your blog? I was slogging away for months, unsure of my blog, unsure of myself and whether anyone wanted to know anything I said; when you are the new girl in town it takes a while to find your bearings.

    We have had only one house-warming, in the house where we live now; since then we have had many gatherings, large and small. I like my community and I am glad that I am no longer the new girl, here in blogland or in my village.

    1. friko,

      Oh, I was so lucky. I had a few friends from another site who were utterly dear about coming over to wish me luck and keep me company while I was getting this blog going. They would leave comments, and tease, and keep me from getting too despondent.

      My experience was the same as yours – one of my “real world” friends still laughs about the day I first had fifty page views and nearly exploded with excitement.My average number of page views for my first nine months, in 2008, was 51. That’s a lot of slogging. But, I just kept posting, and visiting, and commenting, and little by little things began to build.

      Since I was determined to use the blog as a way to learn how to write, numbers weren’t of primary importance to me. I still don’t publicize my stats, number of followers, and such. That’s not to say I don’t pay attention – I do, and when I see blogs with 500 followers and a hundred comments per post, I get a bit of a twinge. But I know I’m doing what’s right for me, so I try not to pay attention. ;)

      It is good to have a place, isn’t it? And it’s wonderful to welcome friends to it – that’s what makes a house a home!


      1. I have the impression, when it comes to some (many?) of the blogs with lots of followers and dozens of “likes” for every single post, that young people are involved—the same people who routinely have hundreds of Facebook friends. It’s a different reality from the one we grew up with and still mainly live in.

        Another thing to observe is the quality of the responses to posts on those blogs, many of them short and often including words like amazing and awesome. In contrast, as I can confirm by scrolling up and down this page, the long and thoughtful articles you write elicit many comments of the same type in return. So what you’re doing is right not only for you but for your serious and well-read followers.

        1. Steve,

          A different reality, indeed. And, although I have no way to confirm this, I suspect the powers that be prefer “awesome” one-word comments on their sites and a whole lot of clicking of the “like” buttons. Follow the money, as they say – the more pages visited and the more links/likes clicked, the better.

          I do use Sitemeter as well as the WordPress stats page, and it’s there that I find the one stat worth following – the average visit length. That tells me as much as anything.


    1. Lynn,

      Thank you so much! I appreciate the award, but even more, I appreciate having you as a reader who considers me worthy of receiving it!

      My approach to blog awards is a little different. Rather than simply answering the questions, or doing whatever it is that the reward “requires”, I like to ponder them until a new post presents itself. You can see how I did that with the “Honest Scrap” award, here. While you may think I’ve forgotten the award, I won’t. One of these days, it will pop up – in who knows what form?

      Thank you again – I’ll be by later this evening to see how it came to you, and to whom else you’ve passed it on.


      1. That’s fine with me, you do it however it suits you. :)

        I would like to respond to your reply to friko. You were talking about your average number of visitors … gosh! I have been blogging on WordPress for two years and my daily visitor count is not high yet. If I get 50 even now I am excited about it. Guess I just don’t say much that is of interest, but .. oh well, I just plug along and live my life.

        Congratulations, you are doing great!

        1. Lynn,

          There are so many blogs now, it is hard to build readership. Time is a big issue for everyone – I find it hard to carve out the time to write, but finding time to read and comment on the blogs that intrigue me is even harder.

          Nevertheless, there are things you can do. One of the very best sites for improving your site and increasing site traffic is One Cool Site: Blogging Tips, maintained by TimeThief. She helped me out on the WordPress forums when I was so new I still didn’t know how to use html formatting tags, and she’s the nicest person in the world.

          She also answers questions on the WordPress forums, and if you see her name, you know you’re getting good information. She understands social media and all that, but she always repeats (over and over!) “Content is King”. Or words to that effect.

          Another thing you can do is promote your blog through an aggregator like Kadency.com. I’ve used it, and you will get new readers that way. I would say that for every 200 page views there I get one new consistent reader – it doesn’t sound like much, but some of my most faithful readers have found me that way.

          Anyhow – do check out TimeThief’s blog. It’s so well done, I enjoy just browsing the archives for new tips.


  8. Oh, Linda, this so touches home. For more months than I care to remember, I’ve had a post in draft form about my move at age 11 across town. New school. New friends. New everything. Like you, I pitched a fit. I was perfectly happy where I was, thank you very much, and I didn’t feel I needed to move. I really do have to finish that post, because there’s quite a message in it — and, as you know, things did work out!

    I love the idea of a blog warming party. We see all kinds of parties in this land of invisible but very real friends. And blogaversaries. Why not a blog-warming party? I’d even bring something to the table!

    You are so right about the warmth of this community. I have found such friends, real friends, here — I count you among them. No one can tell me they aren’t “real” friends because we haven’t met. Real as can be. And really, if one is to spend the time doing something as we do on our blog, then we deserve to get something very special in return. For me, it’s the new neighbors — and the ones who have been in the ‘hood for a long while!

    1. jeanie,

      I think you and I would have gotten along just fine at age eleven or twelve. The longer I read your blog, the more I laugh at how similar we were.

      Something else that strikes me is how similar twelve-year-old me and much-older Mom were when it came to moving.When the time came for her to move from Iowa, she made clear she was perfectly happy where she was, and didn’t feel she needed to move. She did need to move, of course, and I was the one who needed to make that happen, whatever the consequences. In the end, things worked out – barely. Thank goodness Texas had chicken-fried steak! But she always was a tiny bit morose about the whole thing.

      You know, I’d forgotten about the blogaversaries. I marked my first, as so many people do. After that, it seemed less important. And while the blog-warming was great, meeting people is my new goal. Can’t you just see a dozen of us somewhere-or-other, sharing an evening like the Cork-Poppers? What a treat that would be!

      In the meantime, we just have to keep up with each other the best we can, and offer an occasional toast with that good Michigan wine!


      1. I agree completely! We would have such a grand time in every single way, and until then, we keep up. Practically perfect in every way! Little bit of wine and a lot of conversation (OK, a lot of wine, too!) and we’d be good to go! Maybe sometime in 2012…!!!

        1. I’m thinking, trust me. There are so many places I’d like to go, I hardly would know which direction to head first! One of these days I’ll be caught up, and have money and time at my disposal. Who knows what will happen?

  9. I remember the first comments on my blog – I was astounded & astonished that anyone had found me. I had started the blog so that people on whose blogs I commented could have somehere to come to “meet” me – & they did!

    Now, I think I’ll head out to the grocery store to get some cinammon rolls :)

    1. Bug,

      I remember those first comments, too – especially the first that arrived from perfect strangers. It was such an almost unsettling experience to put some words on a page, hit a button and have them fly off into the ether. When a comment came back, it was like nothing else I’d ever experienced. I remember being nervous at the time – who were these people? Why were they reading ME? What should I say? Eventually, it turned into fun, and the rest is history.

      My biggest problem now is finding time to read all the blogs I want to read, and do more writing. But I’m working on it!

      Maybe a cinnamon roll would help….!


  10. Yes, to your rewrite of the Irish blessing for those of us gathered in Blogworld!

    And above all, you really got me with the picture of the hollyhock doll. Oh my, I’d forgotten about those but remember “making” them. My grandmother had a rapacious (is that the right word?) garden and we were allowed to collect flowers for her tables and porches and also “create” flower chains, necklaces and dolls at leisure. I was just so tickled to see that picture.

    Now, if you’re hosting a “re-blogwarming” by any chance, please allow me to supply the pie – or actually several – Just made two pumpkin pies yesterday and have excellent apples to make another this evening!

    We will turn such wishes into reality as soon as we pick a date for a real get-together. I am trying to get my calendar at work pulled together this week – ahahahaha! More later, my friend. I am toasting you (and your writing accomplishments – this gorgeous blog) with a lovely cup of (winter) coffee!

    1. oh,

      How funny that we both were writing about a “get-together” at the same time last night – me, in my above comment to jeanie, and you, here. One of these days it will happen.

      It’s a commonplace to say children remember “found” toys more than purchased toys, but I think there’s much truth there. I still remember my first drum – an empty oatmeal box. And the parties we had with our hollyhock dolls, setting out every sort of “food” we’d gathered from the garden? They were splendid.

      Love that you’re making pumpkin pie and it isn’t even Thanksgiving! I’ve got some mince that’s waiting for the day when I need a real pick-me-up. We don’t eat potatoes just on holidays – why should we limit our pies?

      I’ve got my own cup of coffee at the ready, waiting to toast the weather forecasters if they happen to be right. “They’re” saying we’ll get good rain over the next 24 hours – maybe an inch, maybe three. If that verifies, they get their own blessing!


  11. Yes, with the high tech they have today, you’d think they can de-materialize those fancy cinnamon rolls and send them here to Cowtown, and I’ll just transport some … let me think – what’s our specialty? ok, maybe Angus steak – to your side of the world.

    In lieu of food, we have thoughts, and endless chats and exchanges of words and ideas, that’s what forms our community. Thanks for hosting so many blog warmings, for every post here is a party carefully prepared for us. Thanks to your hospitality, we’re filled every time we join in the fun. Sherry Turkle should interview you and your visitors here for her next book: The Cyber Community. No, better still, why don’t you think about writing it?

    1. Arti,

      Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to virtually transmit food? No more cookies broken in the mail! Or melted chocolate in summer, or dried out christmas breads that got lost and got found two months later!

      But the exchange of thoughts and ideas? That’s just as good, and even better if you consider the calorie content! We do have a wonderful community – I’d be curious to know if Ms. Turkle’s ever heard of the blog-warming tradition. I suppose so – but blog-warmings may be her bonfires on the levees. They’re around, but we still don’t see them!


  12. Many of our parents worked so hard, and didn’t really have that many material possessions but gave us a warm heart, a warm meal, and a warm bed. What more could we ask for? Things are much different today, are they not?

    I’ve never heard of a blog warming but I really like the idea. It is an extension of our new type of “community”.

    This was a wonderful, thought provoking piece. Thanks.

    1. WildBill,

      The definition of “the good life” certainly has changed. I am so grateful for being raised as I was, in a loving, intact family that had survived want and was grateful for everything they had. Sometimes I feel their values are disappearing from the world, but as long as I’m alive, I’ll carry them on as best I can.

      We are part of a new and quite different community. My poor mother never quite could “get’ the virtual world, but as a friend recently was pondering, we may experience less isolation as we age because of our “cyber-ties”.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your kind comments.


    1. Andrew,

      The next thing we know, they’ll be having blog cocktail hours! I’ve seen a corniche or two in your photos that would be perfect sites. Watch the ships or the sunsets, chat about the kids, pet the dogs.
      I’m in!

      Connection beats isolation, every time.


  13. Each post you write is done with such care with attention to every detail. I feel that each time I come to visit you have put out the best food and set out the best china. Thank you for the memories…how they made me think of where I lived in East Texas, then took off across a few state lines because my dad was making a living and providing for us. With each move we became expert at introducing ourselves, contributing as we knew how and making our way in the new community.

    I agree, this blogosphere hasn’t been too different from real life. I am grateful for the time I spend here, as grateful as I am for having lived in several interesting states. I love your writing filled with images that go with your subjects. I love the calm soothing colors of your site. Each visit here is a blogwarming visit. Thank you.

    1. Georgette,

      One of the great – and entirely humorous – conflicts between my mother and I concerned the use of the “good china”, and everything that went along with it. On each birthday and holiday we’d tote out the “good stuff”, and she always cooed and sighed over how nice it was. I was the one asking, “Why don’t we use it and enjoy it every day, since, as far as I know, you can’t take it with you?”

      Eventually, she was won over, and the good china was on the table more frequently. It gave so much pleasure, and the lesson clearly applies across life. Why not put out the best we can? What are we saving it for? I try to set the best table I can here, too – it’s fun for me, and I hope enjoyable for you.

      As one who’s moved a good bit, I also had to learn the skill of settling in. Remember your post about the creation of “communities” in grocery store lines and such? That’s another example of the same dynamic, albeit on a much smaller scale.

      As always, thanks for stopping by. Our mothers had the “coffee klatch”. Our version is equally nice!


  14. You have conjured a rich slice of Americana here in your beautifully rendered retelling of your parents’ housewarming. Ah, being twelve. The cusp of becoming, of growing consciousness, of self, of being pulled this way and that. So many choices seem to be made at that age, a path differentiated.

    Yet yours was softened by some loving reality, a new friend, the joy and pride of your parents.

    Truly the blogging world contains as much neighborliness as any 1950s neighborhood. Something has been reborn since the dissolution into suburbs and too-busy lives. We still long to be in relationship, and so, here we are, pursuing it with gusto.

    1. Ruth,

      What a delight to see you – a sign that your voice and hands are working together in fine concert! I’ll be by this weekend for the updates – the processes you described were nearly unbelievable. We do live in a marvelous age.

      And isn’t it interesting to see such enduring human longings – for community, for creative work, for shared effort and beauty – to begin taking on form in this new way? It’s hard to imagine now how young all of these endeavors are – the blogs, the social media and so on. I read an article in The New Yorker last night about the beginnings of YouTube – only years ago.

      Perhaps there’s a more interesting role for us “ancient ones” here than I’ve realized – with our postings, discussions and perspectives, perhaps we can help to humanize these new ways of being in human community!


    1. Many thanks to Dave Bonta of Via Negativa and The Morning Porch for his kind words. If you’re a poetry/literature lover, the goings-on at his site are sure to please.

      I had planned to do a year’s worth of Morning-Porch-like observations as a poetic discipline for 2012. Perhaps I’ll manage eleven months’ worth.

    1. Ann,

      Weren’t they fun? They were a little more work than sticking dandelions under each other’s chins to see if they liked butter, or punching holes in the peanut butter jar lids so we could catch fireflies, but we never cared one bit. We just loved our dolls.

      I’m glad I was able to remind you of such pleasant times!


  15. Linda,
    What a nice little story to read this morning. I love it but you know I love all your stories. They always seem to bring back special memories.

    I would have given anything as a child/teen to have moved into town in a community with neighbors so I could be close to friends. But I lived in the country and my closest neighbor was my cousins about a quarter mile down the dirt road! But now I am glad I grew up in the country but back then I wanted neighbors and close by friends!

    I was late getting on the internet my first experience was on the “other site” and it was so tentative. Then I open my first Blog on Dec 3, 2005 I was so afraid. And so shocked at all the visitors. I guess my “blog warming party” was all the Holiday Parties I had on my blog for about 6 weeks straight. And I was amazed at how many stopped by to chat and leave messages. I love my “internet community” very much and would miss everyone if it was ever taken away.

    And I love coming here and reading all of your stories; I look forward to getting the notices when you put up a new one! Enjoy your weekend.

    1. Patti,

      You made me curious, so I went back and looked. I joined WU in 2004, but didn’t really become active until 2005, because of the hurricanes. Even then, I missed those early parties – just too shy to join in, I guess. Maybe the twelve-year-old still lives inside!

      Aren’t we funny creatures? I grew up in town, but joined the town 4-H group and spent my days longing for County Fair time. I had a friend who lived in the country and showed calves – I thought the best thing in the world was getting to curry them!

      Facebook certainly has changed things, as you know. Still, I prefer the blog postings to FB and twitter. For one thing, it’s hard to tell a story on those sites. Luckily, we don’t have to make a choice!

      I love having you stop by – it still amazes me how similar our backgrounds are. I suppose that’s why we share some of the same values.


  16. Somehow – as I read your beautiful heartfelt story..and as a child of the same era and age – it brought tears to my eyes. I love the thought of a blogosphere housewarming. Who would have ever thought?

    Thank-you so much for your post over at Vision and Verb. Your writing is simply wonderful…transfomative!!!

    1. Marcie,

      “Who would have thought?… Who could have imagined?…” How many times I’ve said that in my life. But people do think and imagine, and despite all of the doomsaying, thought and creativity keep popping up in the most unexpected places. Thank goodness!

      I’ve always enjoyed V&V – it was fun to be a part of it in a new way. Thanks for the invitation!


  17. About ten years ago, we sold the center-hall colonial house we had built with our own hands — and, significantly, those of Pat’s father, who was a building contractor — and we moved to a townhouse in a small “over-55” community about ten miles to the east. When one of our daughters visited us after we had been here for a couple of years, she noticed us waving or talking to one person after another as we strolled over to the clubhouse. “Do you know everyone here?” she asked. “As a matter of fact, yes.”

    I hear a lot of jokes about these communities, and I know contemporaries of mine for whom they have no appeal, but we have found the familial spirit of our neighbors to be enlivening and fulfilling. There a sense of mutual dependence and mutual trust here that reminds me of the town I grew up in in the ‘forties and ‘fifties — a town where we had only screen doors on our store in the summer, where a local cop — finding one of the screens unlocked during the night — would go inside and leave a note saying he had taken an orange, where we didn’t always remember to lock the doors of the house when we went away for a day and might come home to find a cake left for us on the kitchen table.

    One of my neighbors was born and raised on the front stoops and sidewalks of a brownstone neighborhood in Brooklyn. When she moved here from a New Jersey suburb, she brought her son around for a look. He didn’t understand. “Mom!” he said. “They’re like row houses!” To which she replied: “Exactly!”

    1. Charles,

      “Mutual dependence and mutual trust” – there’s the heart of it. My aunt experienced it in her Manhattan apartment – a rarely-remarked benefit of her rent control was a more stable population that allowed ties to develop – but in my situation, it simply doesn’t exist. There’s too much mobility. People continually are on the move, either into homes, or on to new cities because of their employment.

      I remember those cakes and pies left by neighbors, and the sound of screen doors slamming. One night, subject to nagging by his own parents, my dad locked our house and then had to shove me through a window to unlock the door. Unaccustomed to locking doors, he’d forgotten the key.

      I’ve already begun thinking about where I’ll go when and if I ever “really retire”. A small town is sounding better and better, since my requirements are few. Friends who were visiting this weekend asked in surprise, “You mean you’d leave the water?” The water makes for a nice view, but I’d rather have a nice neighbor.


  18. It is interesting, the attachment to people and places switches easily to attachment to blogger and blogs. Maybe one day we really will just be brains in jars living in a virtual world!

    Thanks for the link to the Knysna webcam – it’s fantastic that you can virtually see my real world!

    1. Jeannine,

      I’m not sure about that brain in a jar business – maybe. But in the meantime – it’s clear to me that relationships can develop and thrive here in such a way that “virtual” and “real” are fuzzy categories at best. After all – when you’re absent for a while, I miss you. I wouldn’t even know there was someone living in an apartment near me if it weren’t for their trash bin being put out and taken in!

      Isn’t the webcam great? It’s never occurred to me until this minute to look and see what might be up and running in my neighborhood. I’ll take a look. It would be fun to send along a link to my backyard!


  19. Good gosh! I’d totally forgotten about those little glass jars of pimento cheese!

    Mama always filled her celery sticks with pimento cheese. She did make homemade pimento cheese but if a party was looming, I can imagine that she probably used store bought. From those jars. We had to get our juice glasses from somewhere!

    The only jars available now, that are similiar, are the ones that contain dried beef for creamed chipped beef. At least, I think they’re still available. Haven’t looked lately. I use the Stouffer’s in the microwavable bag, instead of making it from scratch.

    Mama loved hollyhocks and would plant some at one side of the house that got sun and was a bit protected from the wind. I’d never seen those dolls made from the blooms, though.

    I had a little bit of both worlds: city and country.

    We lived downtown until I was almost 7. We then moved to a new house in the ‘burbs across the Ashley River. Which was still mostly farmland at the time but that changed real fast. I did have a few years with fallow fields to roam with my dog and BB gun before they were built up. (I shot at targets, not critters.) I had friends close by and my school was across the road.

    Dad’s folks owned a 135 acre farm near Orangburg. We spent a lot of time up there on weekend visits. I was usually sent up to spend a week or two in the summer. There was the kitchen garden to help Granny with in the summer. Beans and peas to shell or snap. Boiled peanuts, iced tea and rocking chairs on the front porch. Butchering in the fall, after the first frost. Lots of cows, chickens and pigs to tend to. The occasional excitement of the menfolks dispatching rattlers that made their way into the barns or outbuildings.

    1. Gué,

      Though our family didn’t have a farm, I had the same routine as you – weekends at Grandma and Grandpa’s, and a couple of weeks there in the summer. We did the same things – well, minus the boiled peanuts. I’ve never had a good boiled peanut in my life. I suppose it’s going to take a trip to your part of the world to see how it’s really done.

      I love the thought of you with a BB gun and dog. Did your Mom ever say, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” I suspect not. A friend grew up hunting in the part of Houston that has the Galleria built on top of it now. When things started to change, they changed fast. No more quail there, now, and no more kids with their guns.

      You know, I’d never had homemade pimento cheese until I came to Texas. If I keep writing about it, I’m going to have to make some – that’s one of the best sandwiches in the world. During my little stint in rural Texas, it was made with the addition of ground onion, too, plenty of pimento and more mayonnaise than is good for any of us. And it always was served on white bread. If they’d start serving up those sandwiches in school lunchrooms, kids wouldn’t be tossing their lunches in the trash.

      I did the research for you. The glass jars of Hormel chipped beef are available, in the canned meat section of the grocery. Mom loved the stuff, and we began using the microwavable, too. Until the last year or so, she could fix it for herself, or for the two of us for dinner.

      Our hollyhocks were at the side of the house, too. I wonder if they weren’t planted close to houses for support. Ours grew quite tall – taller than my Dad by far – and if they were freestanding somewhere I can imagine them not lasting long in the wind. I miss so many of those old-fashioned flowers – bachelor buttons and zinnias, too. I only need two things to grow them – land, and being farther north!


  20. Lovely post, Linda. We moved quite a bit when I was a child, so I can relate with your “version of a fit,” as I was never happy to leave my friends, neighborhood and school. I hated being the “new girl” and was often teased. Of course, I always made new friends and learned to love my new home & community.

    Surprisingly, as an adult, every so often I get itchy feet and wonder what it would be like to live in, say, Eugene or Friday Harbor or Santa Fe or Tuscon. But then I think about how much I love my friends and the college town (Lincoln, NE) in which we live, with its Norman Rockwell neighborhoods and parks, and I think, How could we possibly leave! We know our neighbors. Dozens of them! We live on our front porch from April to November, greeting these neighbors as they walk their dogs, stroll to the park with their children or wander down to Leon’s, the neighborhood grocery store. We see friends and acquaintances as we run our errands or go out to dinner. Community? Yes, we are lucky to live where there is still a great sense of community. If every winter were as mild as this year’s, I’d never want to move! ;)

    Again, lovely post. I maybe quoting a small passage for my blogiversary next month, if you don’t object.


    1. Lesley,

      I just was talking with an aunt in Kansas City this morning, and she was commenting on the warm, snow-free winter and how lovely it had been – at least, in terms of comfort. It’s a little disconcerting to be short on the moisture.

      Porch-sitting is a long and honored tradition, which deserves its own post. And as for dog-walking – that’s one aspect of apartment living which engenders community. The dog walkers know one another. The cat people? Not so much!

      I’ve moved enough and lived in enough places to understand that there isn’t any perfect place. But there are “more perfect” places, and to my taste, most of those are either in the country, the midwest or the south. I’ve experienced the variety and vibrancy available in a city, and loved it at the time. I guess I’m just winding down.

      Of course you may quote a passage on your blog – with a link and atrribution, of course. (That’s for others who might come along – I know that you know how to do these things.) I’d be honored!


      1. I believe one of the “more perfect” places would be near water. I miss the ocean (lived in San Diego for 20 years), but would be just as content being somewhere near a large lake. If it isn’t in the cards, I can always spend an afternoon perusing my photo album from a two-week cruise in the San Juan’s on my dad’s 48′ Richardson. It was the best vacation ever and truly unforgettable!

        Thanks for permission to quote from this post. I will definitely give credit with a link–I want everyone who sees my post to pop over here and read your post in its entirety.

        1. Lesley,

          Life’s full of ironies – I’m wanting to get away from the water eventually, because I don’t want to live with the anxiety of having to evacuate or the possibility of losing my home when the hurricanes come. I love water, too – but I’ve seen first-hand what a chore evacuation is even for the elderly who have plenty of assistance. If I were no longer able to drive and had to evacuate? I might be one of those who shows up on the nightly news, acting crazy and determined all at once and saying, “Nope, not gonna do it, staying right here!”


  21. I was thinking just the other day that when I move to NJ, there will be no goodbyes necessary to those I’ve come to know or are getting to know through blogging.

    1. Claudia,

      Isn’t that neat? I first experienced that “stabilizing” effect of the internet during hurricane evacuations. There we were, stuck in a motel room a couple hundred miles from home, and I was chatting along with friends in wherever without a thought. It really was great.

      As a matter of fact, we were in a LaQuinta, and they reserved one room just for evacuees who were camped out in their cars or whatever, because there wasn’t any more space in town. They let people use that one room to charge cell phones, laptop batteries, etc. And, you could take a shower there or use the microwave, too.
      That’s a little beyond your point, but it is a fact that our technology and all it’s brought can make life a danged sight more bearable!


  22. You write so beautifully Linda that I know I need to set aside a decent amount of time to give your posts the proper slow reading that they deserve, but lately I’ve had so much trouble finding that time – with all the blogs I want to read I’m never able to “catch up” – so that’s why I’m late coming to the party. I’m so glad I came.

    What a great idea to throw a blog-warming party. I love sticky buns and tea always tastes better when drunk out of one’s good China cups.

    As I wrote in a recent post after living in three countries I didn’t know where I belonged or who my people were, but after blogging for two years I’ve discovered that my people are right here in the blogging community. I’ve been welcomed into the community without even having to re-write my resume, or show my skill in baking.

    The warmest messages of condolence when my Mom passed away (just after your Mom) came from fellow bloggers, strangers, some of whose names I don’t even know, or like you who didn’t even show their faces in their gravatar.

    1. Rosie,

      I’m often “late” in my reading, too – it’s just a part of life. It can be so tempting for me to read first and write later, but that doesn’t work. That’s one reason I often am roaming the blogs after I get a new post up – I have time to enjoy and comment on what other people have to say before getting started on my next entry.

      So many people have found a different sort of community through blogging – accepting, and welcoming. Anyone who reads the comments on sites like HuffPo, or who has seen a flame war break out on a forum might be put off – but we choose our neighborhoods here, too, just like in real life.

      Like you, I’ve been a little surprised at times by the depth of sharing on the blogs we visit. And after my own experience with my mom’s death, I’m so glad I wrote about it here. It’s the sort of record that will endure – for me, if no one else.

      I’ve already figured out that if/when my mind really begins to go, I’ll have these blogs to remind me of where I’ve been and what I’ve done! They’re scrapbooks for the digital age!


  23. an interesting comparison to your first move. as i read about you moving to the burbs i thought how many similarities you and i had. intriguing.

    1. maggie,

      I could be really off in the weeds with this one, but I’ve often thought your photography appeals to me because of those similarities. Our “eye” gets trained early, and I think we often see the world with those early eyes. Even when we’re looking at something that seems strange or totally disconnected from our past, others with the same background can see the hints and feel the resonance.


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