Here I am…

heron on the roof

Stop Press!

I heard this crane (egret?) walking around on the roof of our boat just as I was about to start this post. Not impressed, it seems, by rumors of a fierce and fat orange cat aboard? I climbed halfway out the window, camera at the ready, looking for the animal walking overhead…when this long neck snakes out from behind a pile of plastic tarpaulin, and I got this clean shot against that gorgeous wall of sky. Yessss!

☐☐☐

I was up late last night, reassigning new categories to my posts, and then making a rather overfull menu to replace my lost widgets.
I am so sorry if your feed readers are swamped with several dozen ‘UPDATED’ posts that—apart from the way they’re categorized—haven’t changed one bit.

Wish I could say it’s all done, now, and I certainly thought I was doing very well—bleary-eyed and squinting till 3 a.m.—but I’ve just worked out that there are some 200 posts left to sort! Blarghhh

And yet I can’t just leave them…it’ll drive me nuts knowing the posts aren’t under their correct headings! So please, please just bear with me another week!

☐☐☐

What else has happened? I have a new camera; my lovely little Finepix S7000 had one fall too many and broke into 5 (“Plastic? No wonder!”) pieces. I’d been talking about getting myself a grownup’s camera for years…the time had finally come. The Nikon that I’ve bought is my very first DSLR: can you believe it’s taken me this long to get one? I’ve been grappling with it for three weeks, now, feverishly studying how to use it and trying to get comfortable with all its buttons, dials, and functions. I really miss the familiar feel of my old Finepix, and I’m desperate to build a similar relationship with my new one.

evoking the sea

So I took the Nikon for a walk last Saturday to the Parap morning markets, where I very shyly and self-consciously took a couple of shots of my friend Jan’s market stall—her own gorgeous photographs (which made me very embarrassed to be holding a camera), as well as jewelry, gifts, and novelty items, all centered around the theme of the sea—and then met up with Darwin’s happiest painter, Marita Albers, and her daughter, Ginger. They took me to their home.

I love artists’ homes, don’t you? Paintings EVERYWHERE, shelves groaning under the weight of art and children’s books, stuffed and painted pillow creatures crowded on the lounge, homemade toys, little sculptures, and installations sitting on every available surface; mobiles of color, light and sound hanging from the porch roof. Marita’s playfulness suffuses the rooms and garden of her home; there is none of the sterile, minimalist interior decorating you might see in magazines and, importantly, no television in this creative home. It was a large playhouse for mother and daughter and their friends. It was so personal and unaffected, I didn’t even ask Marita if I could take pictures; I didn’t want to invade that fun-filled privacy.

Ginger was happy to have her picture taken, though, with Mrs. Feather, one of her pet chickens. Ginger LOVES chickens, and the chicken theme is everywhere in her drawings and paintings. Hurrah! for precocious and ferocious little girls who read, and paint, and build pink cities in the garden for chickens, and love to travel overseas, and think eating is better than television, which is “boring”.

Ginger and Mrs. Feather

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seeds & lentils


Sick of this embroidery, yet? Now that I’ve spent a day or two on it, my passion for it has come back to life, and I am excited to do as much work on it as I can before…uh, well, before I lost interest in it again. LOL. I have the attention span of a house fly, never mind a puppy’s.

I’ve sprinkled the spaces between the lentils (Circular Rhodes Stitch, that stitch is called, let’s get that right,) with seeding stitch, and love the very lizard-skin effect of it all.

I know, watching me slowly complete my projects is getting boring. Sorry. I feel like I have to post about something, every couple of days, if only because I’m conscious of those brave people who have subscribed to this feed in good faith!

Though sometimes I don’t know why I bother writing anything else for this blog…did you know that the majority of my visitors come to view this? It’s been viewed 173,658 times. Somewhere out there (I have no idea where, I never come across it!) my little tutorial has gone viral. It has been going strong for two years. Last January, WordPress sent me the year’s stats for my blog, and congratulated me on this particular post, saying it proves that my writing has “staying power”. It’s ironic because there are hardly any words to this post, just a bunch of photos; and it’s success is made even more bittersweet by the fact that I came up with that project just to ‘feed‘ my blog…you know, to pad it with some quick and easy post because writing something of substance or interest can be hard, and in 2009 I had just started blogging, and hadn’t quite found my voice yet.

It’s pretty funny, when you think about it. My most ‘immortal’ post is nearly wordless, about some project I had devised while in a silly mood, and just so that I would have something to post on my blog that day. It’s not particularly close to my heart, that project, and I haven’t made any book beads since!

I have a bit more confidence in myself, now, so I no longer rack my brains to come up with projects and posts that I desperately hope readers will like. I work on my shit—embroidery, painting, bookbinding, whatever—I write about whatever I’m working on, or thinking about, or grappling with at the moment, and just sort of trust that there will be a few people who like the same sort of stuff that I do, or who think that what I am writing about is interesting.

I suppose that if I thought blogging was my occupation then I would care more, and I would be one of those bloggers who sees herself as “a brand.” My time and energy would go into boosting my numbers on social networks, and my blog would be set up so that I got paid every time someone visited, or clicked on an ad, or for every person who liked me on Facebook. I guess I would have to give things away and run contests, because with all the time spent marketing my “brand”, I wouldn’t have time to work with my hands or write anything really challenging or honest, and I’d have to woo my audience over with freebies and contests (and, seriously, what sort of an audience would that be? Do I really want an audience that’s just watching for the next giveaway?)

The domain name smallestforest.com was bought by a speculator company, shortly after I’d started using ‘smallest forest’ for all my web accounts, from Flickr and Facebook to DeviantArt and Twitter. Every year this company contacts me, trying to sell me the domain name. I told them sure I was interested, “I’ll give you $50 for the name.” The man who rang me seemed flummoxed. The company wanted to offer it to me for around $450. I laughed heartily, told him it wasn’t worth that much to me, and hung up. Ask me now, and I wouldn’t even offer you $50 for that domain name. You can stick it. 😀

I finally have things in perspective: I know I will never become a social-media blog whore…frankly, I just haven’t got the energy to be that peppy and pushy all the time. I make exactly the same amount of money if my blog had 3 visitors, or 7,000 visitors, in a single day = zilch. I don’t have to pander to anyone, and I can do what I like, and if nobody likes the day’s post, I shrug, and if 7,000 people swamp some other post I can’t let it go to my head, either, because it’s the same damn thing, in the end. An even keel. I don’t spend my days mapping out marketing strategies, though, or checking my phone every 10 minutes. I spend most of the hours of the day making things, doing things, reading books, getting my hands on real things and getting them dirty doing real things…a pay-off that I’m happy with.

I’m really curious to hear how your own blog’s stats actually relate to your favorite posts…are the posts that you are most proud of also the ones that others read the most? Do you ever find yourself wondering why something you posted is attracting so much attention, when something else you had really hoped to wow the internet with was pretty much ignored? Do you write to please yourself? Or others? Or have you found a balance between the two?