Monthly Archives: December 2012

’nuff said.

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Martha Stuart, I am not…

Well, another Christmas has come and gone at the Bahr household. Family members are returning home and the kids are playing with playdough and coloring in their new coloring books.  Even at 16 and 14, both girls still cannot resist the lure of new toys!

I know you’ve all so many stories to tell, pics to share and I can’t wait for them to start rolling into my reader. For now, I thought I’d share with you a few of my own.

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My hubbie so wanted this Christmas to be special. He worked extra hard on decorating our scrawny home-grown Christmas tree we plucked from the yard. Delicate, like lace, the limbs could barely stand the weight of a simple ornament. Not to fear – he used some wire to support those tiny twigs. I told him he should’ve used a blankie – like Linus in Charlie Brown’s Christmas. He turned that pathetic tree into an amazing piece of glory with just a little love!

I was treated with a blank stare.

What? Geesh, I was just trying to be helpful…

He also wanted sugar cookies – the kind you roll out and cut into shapes. Grand and glorious plans that man had in mind. And so, ever the dutiful wife, I somewhat followed a recipe, stuck the dough in the fridge thinking it seemed a bit tough… Alas, something when terribly wrong and the whole caboodle ended up in the garbage.

I was treated with a  disappointed sigh.

What? I used a recipe! Kinda…

My kids know I make a tasty pie, if not a bit… well, un-uniformly. I run out of patience when it comes to crimping that silly edge and the top? Who cares if the basket weave is perfect and the lattice cut in equal lengths? They eat it anyways! And I tell them as such. Now they call them “Mom’s ugly pies…”

No photos – these things are just TOO ugly…

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And don’t get me started on wrapping. I hate wrapping. For whatever reason, I end up doing the bulk of it. Ah, but payback came this year when I messed up and wrapped my hubbie’s and the girls socks together. Oops! And so, I embrace my hatred and wrap things as I feel like. Like this beauty – our nephew’s new fishing pole. See the reel?

Martha Stuart really has nothing to worry about. I won’t be replacing her any time soon.

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For those of you who were alone this holiday – I felt a special connection. Here is the candle I lit just for you. I hope you found some joyful moments….

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My love to all of you-

Sue

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everywhere you go….

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snow? love this stuff – can’t get enough!!!

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snow? crap. Let me go inside, will ya? I’m freezin my tuckus off out here…

More snow yesterday has left my car looking like a marshmallow. The dogs love this stuff, the kids, too. I’m just glad to have a white Christmas!

So, here again, for those that won’t are more pics of this silly land I call home.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays everyone.

Stay safe. Stay well. Know you are in my thoughts.

Sue

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Yesterday began with snow, then the wind picked up, knocked out power for hours and finished with torrential rains. No wonder I was in a funk! Now another storm’s here, bringing back the snow in abundance.

A white Christmas?  Looks that way.

So for those of you who won’t – let me share. I’d ship you a snowball if I could…

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My best to all of you! Wishing you the best holiday, the merriest Christmas full of good health and cheer.

Love,

Sue

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My Second Life… Part Two

I suppose it was natural, this restless feeling. I’d been searching through family photos, compiling a genealogy of my father’s family all summer long and as much as I continued to enjoy working on my mighty Irish epic, other stories needed to be told.

I shuffled outside my  site, one that had grown more comfortable with each passing day. Look, I thought with joy, another follower, another comment! With each post, Down the Mountain Road took on life.

Darkness quickly enveloped me, but I wasn’t afraid; I’d already explored this process. Setting up a site was easy, it was bringing others to read that would be difficult. I chose this space with care, set up the theme to reflect a simpler time. These stories were personal – they’d reflect my family’s history in rural Vermont.

I shifted boxes around to form walls and moved in an old sideboard to hold some mismatched tea cups.  A large hooked rug – one worn from generations of use – would add comfort and cover the concrete floor. I brought in chairs – as many as could fit- in hopes that others would feel comfortable and would want to sit down and stay a while.

Then I got to work writing Letters to Rosa.

Each post flew from my keyboard, each one was published without fear. These were my stories, I lived them; I had to trust that they would be received in the spirit they were told –  sad at times and funny, but always with honesty to honor my family’s memories.

Imagine my delight when people started dropping by. A quick nod, a simple like, maybe a comment or two; I started noticing Rosa was attracting regulars and smiled. With each visitor, the space began to glow. A lovely comment touched me and added color – like a beautiful vignette I could hang on my wall. Another follower, one who would come back often, and I noticed a new mug sitting on the sideboard- ah, Teresa from bellybuttonblues had settled in! Each time I checked, I found mementos from other bloggers – a warm blanket from Liz at thekovies.com, a knitted shawl from Paulineknits in Ireland; a beeswax candle from Lynne at freepennypress and a cozy armchair from Eunice at livin and lovin.

Others would come and for each one, I’d cherish the visit. Denise at justasIam added a beautiful lamp and Ashi Akira, a wonderful Japanese poet, brought a stack of delightful verse.

Every one of you have added something special to Rosa – you’ve taken a place in an abandoned warehouse and helped me create a home and for that I am grateful.

So, please, pull up a chair – or add one of your own. Leave a comment, a quick “hello”. I’ll cherish the time we have, I promise.

And thanks for stopping by.

Sue

(I’d like to invite you to visit letters to Rosa – simply click on the lovely sepia photo on the sidebar. I’d love to hear from you!)

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My second life… part one.

In the midst of a poor night’s sleep, I had a revelation. Gravatars and wordpress – my blog has become my “Second Life.” Please allow me to paint a picture – and know, I’m really not crazy!

When I first decided to blog, it felt like I was driving down a long, deserted stretch of road. You know the kind – broken concrete with weeds growing up from the cracks and everywhere I looked there were derelict warehouses. I pulled up to my designated spot and turned off the car.

I’d asked for the code to enter, but felt such foreboding. Open this Pandora’s box? Create a website where others can comment, attack or worse- ignore? Just what the hell was I doing? I didn’t belong here – I’m a country girl, for crying out loud. They’ll eat me alive.

I blew a breath and steadied my nerves. Isn’t this what all writers are supposed to do? Create a “platform”, find buyers for the stupid publishers  who might produce my book someday? I’d heard it all and had enough – it was time to end my self-imposed  exile and reach out to others.

The door was massive – rusty and gross. This? This was to be my new home? I’d been promised privacy and safety. WordPress provided the shell and here I would build my second life.

The code worked without a hitch. The door slid open on newly oiled hinges and I stepped inside a massive, cavernous empty space.

“Hello?” I called out, though I knew no one was there.  A silly instinct, but my nerves were threatening to send me running.

A single bare bulb lit the center and I approached. No walls, just boxes scattered around the space would be my building materials. Themes and widgets to create a  blog that would draw others in – it was up to me to write the posts that would keep them coming.

My sneakers made a shuffling noise as I began arranging those boxes to make a room. I’d call it “down the mountain road” eventually. Like every new house, it needed constant re-arranging to make it feel familiar. I’d write about my novel, garner some insight from all my wonderful reader’s comments and then I’d strike out – well, more like, peek around, my neighbor’s warehouses and see who was home.

It was a learning curve. The boxes just didn’t provide enough cheer. So I added more content- humor where possible and eventually they came. A quick hello from a woman in Ireland, wishing me well with my novel and promising to share special spots to see when I finally arrived for a visit to her native land. Her comment added a dash of color to my space – like a wonderful painting I could now hang on one of my rough walls. More came and added their touches.

I began following. Learning the lingo of wordpress. Learning that when I gave to others, they gave back.

I moved things around and added a big, overstuffed chair. Now it felt comfortable, more like home, but something was missing. As much as I loved this blog, just outside my temporary walls was a vast warehouse; dark, rough and untouched and just beckoning for me to explore.

please stayed tuned for the next installment…

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Operation Christmas Lights…

Christmas is a time for joy, right? For wrapping, baking, the simple things? So why do I always dread these tasks?

Maybe it’s because by the time the house is cleaned and ready for decorating, I’m pooped. By the time I get home from work and the dishes are done and dinner’s cooking, I’m ready for a nap…

Sad to think how much of the holidays are often just about survival.

Much of the decorating has shifted to my two daughter’s shoulders – and I’m glad for it. Glad they’ve taken on hanging the lights outside and locating the perfect tree from our woods. I should feel… guilty? Bad? Rotten? Instead, I feel relief.

It started a few years back.

“When are we going to hang the lights, Mom?”

A simple question with a simple answer.

“Tomorrow.”

“But it’s the week before Christmas.”

My argument fell on disgusted ears. And so, they took it upon themselves and hatched a plan. One their father and I wouldn’t discover until the next morning.

Off to bed they went with nearly a whine. I should’ve known something was up, but I was just too tired to notice.

While my husband and I sat all cozy in our rocking chairs watching Survivor, our two wee ones were in their rooms prepping for Operation Christmas Lights.

They’d hang the lights on the front porch by themselves.  A great plan, except they realized they couldn’t get to the mud room without us hearing. No coats or mittens? No problem. They loaded on layers of sweaters till they looked like Santa himself. For mittens, they improvised and used socks.

Then they’d sneak out the bedroom door, plow through waist-high snow and hang the lights. If you knew where we lived; how dark it gets at night; how scary the woods are that close in around this house…. brrrrr…… I rarely wander outside after dark and here they were tackling the decorating alone and in the cold…

We didn’t discover their surprise until the next day. Both girls wore early with massive grins and poorly concealed giggles. Both tried to appear nonchalant as they casually asked if we’d looked outside yet.

Imagine our astonishment when we discovered those lights, strung from high rafters, looping around posts and framing the door.

No longer could they contain the giggles; they burst out laughing and explained the entire operation.

“We could peek in and see you in your rockers.”

“Yeah,” added the oldest, “we kept trying to be quiet – but you never turned around.”

A new tradition has begun for our family. Though they don’t have to sneak out, the kids still are in charge of decorating the front porch.

Sarah took it on this year alone. Her sister simply wasn’t in the mood.

And so I leave for you a picture of her endeavors, her project, her joy.

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Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays to you all.

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Drive-by likers and weird spam comments…

Ah, the joys of wordpress. I’ve learned a lot in the 5 months since I began blogging. Some things I’ve picked up quick (like always use the spell check before hitting publish), other things took a while to understand.

Like, how could I have 5 “likes” and no views?

Don’t ja just love that little page that loads partial posts with a convenient “like” button on the top right-hand side?

So THAT’s how they do that!

When I’ve let curiosity get the better of me and I check out a new “likers” site, I always find they’re the bloggers with ten thousand followers and all their comments read something like this:

“Thanks so much __________ (insert drive-by liker’s name) for ‘liking’ my post. I couldn’t wait to check out your blog…”

Don’t they know that now the drive-by has 1) a view and 2) a comment when they have given you neither?

No, no, don’t go there….

And now to the second part of this silly little post.

The weird spam comments wordpress so conveniently filters out.

Most of you have them – they usually go something like this:

“Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is
missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post,
also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO
optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update:
Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the
key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So
what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it
must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it
has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent
Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your
article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last
sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of
your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you…”

Has anyone ever checked this out? I’m afraid to…

Then you get the sex sites. Do you get the sex sites? You know, when you hover over their Gravatar and your mouse blushes? The last visitor I got said:

“I like the content of your post. If you keep writing so well, I will come back and follow this blog.”

Needless to say, I will no long write so well…

But my favorite comments are the ones that’ve obviously gone through some translation program and something’s gone terribly wrong. Like this little beauty:

“loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike.”

I’m so glad my little blog catches the attention of drive-by likers. That they can’t help but press that darned button to show how much what I’ve taken two hours to craft means to them. I love all the comments, even those I’m forced to “delete permanently.”

I will leave you with one final comment from my consistent spam buddy. I’ve no idea what this person means, ever, but it sure does make my day when I get at least one comment…

“this is a great subject to discuss, i am glad you mentioned it so we can solve our doubts.”

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