Welcome to My “Homey Diary”

It’s a quirky, wonderful world when my second husband’s late first wife’s sister and her husband will be our house guests for three days next week, culminating in a big family hoe-down on Saturday night with in-laws, ex-laws and kids of all ages, and we’re all happy as cinch bugs about it. Can’t wait, in fact.

Buck and Granddaughter Andie 1-3-2013
Buck and Granddaughter Andie

And it’s a wonderful world when a 19 year old granddaughter comes for lunch during an infrequent day off from both university and work and stays all afternoon, the three of us decamped from lunch in the bar (Diet Ginger Ale, mind you), to the foyer, where we wind up talking so long we variously drop into a nearby chair, lounge on a step, or sit cross-legged on the floor (me). It was a “just because” time. Just because there’s so much to talk about, so much life — past, present, and future — and because there’s so much connection and love.

I stumbled onto your site from Richard Gilbert’s Narrative. At first I thought, oh boy, here comes another homey diary, an adult, country version of show-and-tell.

I replied to the visitor who left this comment sometime last year that his first instinct about my blog was right: it is at heart a “homey diary, an adult, country version of show-and-tell.” He had been relieved to find a reasonably well-crafted turn of phrase somewhere in that particular post, something he found free of low-brow sentimentalism.

I’m smiling about that this morning as I empty the dishwasher, spray cleaner to sit for a while in the oven, contemplate going upstairs to begin preparing a guest room for our visitors who will arrive on Thursday, jot notes about the menu for next Saturday night’s family supper, and look up hours for the University of West Florida library so I can run out there, take an elevator to the third floor (fiction), and fill up my canvas bag with some of the books on the mental list I carry around in my head.

I’m smiling about that as my sleepy husband comes into the study for a warm morning neck nuzzle, and we mosey (the only word for it) to the kitchen, arms entwined, to share a bit of breakfast. He is weary with effort, but purring with a lovely growly intensity as he moves to his writing space, where he is into the final scene of the first draft of his book. I try not to disturb him when “the fever” as I call it is on him; when the blue pen is spilling ink like a cut femoral artery; when he turns pale and his hair is on fire.

And I’m loving the sweet air in this space where some of the most authentic humans on the planet come to say their piece and share their world in all its exhilaration, loss, playfulness, discovery, ennui, courage, inventiveness, fear, poetry, falling down and getting up again, adventure, art of the written word, love, creativity, passion, lazy bones, knowledge, and wonder. People like Wally, Elizabeth, Richard, Dick, Jeanne (Gullible), Kathleen, Deanna, Denny, Verna, Patsy, Gale, Jane, Flo, Stephanie, Loretta, Susan, Charlotte, David, Kate, Mira, Meg, Dave, Rick, and others.

The only ones of you I know “in person” are Wally and Flo, because they’re my brother and sister, and Patsy, Gale, and Jane are local friends. But if any of us saw each other in an airport or hiking in a forest, we would meet, talk, probably hug, and we might say, “I’d know you anywhere.” And I would say the same. There would be no daylight between the person we know on the page and the person before us, because each of us is genuine, honest (sometimes painfully so), and congruent. (Not to mention complex — oh hell, yes. That’s a major part of the delight of our interactions.)

In the closing months of 2012, I went through a periodic time of “discernment.” That’s one of those words my fellow Episcopalians may smile over. “Period of discernment” is a phrase sometimes used to give folks cover when they are asked to do something they don’t want to do, or are going a different way, as in, “I’m not ready to commit right now. I’m in a period of discernment.”  I felt overexposed on the ‘net. Always using my real name, for heaven’s sake.

And so, I pulled back: deleted my Facebook account along with the timeline — the whole shebang. Deleted and erased profiles from any and all online writer groups whose door I had ever darkened — legit places, but more vanity than value. Began to think more intentionally about the “live” relationships in my life, their care and nurturing. I deleted my Goodreads account and instantly regretted that move. It’s reinstated now, but my earlier book lists (that I would like to be able to peruse again) are dead, killed by my own impulsive hand.

The books I’m reading about the internet and hive mind stuff, have more to do with authenticity and how to separate the wheat from the chaff than whether being electronically connected is positive or negative. In my own life, the connectivity and reach is not only positive, it’s joyful and an incredible tool, a huge amendment to my quality of life.

I’ve returned to Facebook, but only as a sharing with family and a very few close friends; only people I know in “RL” (Real Life). We share photos, cartoons, music, books, videos and other cool stuff, kudos when someone gets a promotion, or graduates from school, or when the family soccer keeper star, Ariel, gets written up in the local paper for saving the day for her team. Like that. Warm fuzzies. Keeps us all in the loop.

In my end of the year thinking about thinking, I found a few nuggets to keep: I finally learned to love Google Reader, and follow your blogs and other feeds of interest to me there, such as Open Culture and Smithsonian Magazine’s Food and Think blog. I also finally learned how to fully utilize EverNote, and now it’s my favorite place to put all my stuff and be able to go back and retrieve it seamlessly.

So here we are. We use our own names, we’re authentic, we work hard, love without stinting, play hard, learn like crazy, and never get old even when we do.

Buck would be the first to say, “Okay, then, let’s get after it.”

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Some of the Westmark clan on Christmas Eve, 2013. (Buck is behind the camera.)

11 thoughts on “Welcome to My “Homey Diary”

  1. Oh, this is such a perfect post, Beth. I am inspired to follow your lead in some way, particularly when it comes to Facebook, and I’d love your advice on how to maximize Google Reader. Do you know that I only read the blogs of those on my blogroll and that process is often laborious because it means I have to click on and off my own page over and over. In any case, the idea of Google Reader intimidates me — I just don’t understand it!

    I love how you spun this post from your own brain and spirit and soul, and that last photo was perfect. I look forward to meeting you one day in an airport, perhaps, where I know I’ll recognize you instantly!

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. Facebook makes much more sense to me now. Doesn’t take up much time, doesn’t feel intrusive, but I stay in the loop with kids and g-kids and an itty bitty circle of local friends. As to Google Reader, explore it. It’s easy — and I love how you click on “subscribe” and can paste in any feed and then it will appear in your reader each time there’s a new post. I mine set so that as I scroll down, they are automatically marked as “read” so they don’t stay on the reader forever. However, if I want to click on one (like yours, or Gullible’s Travels, or Hill Country Mysteries, for example) to make a comment, then it takes me straight to your site and I proceed as usual. Good magic.

      Hey, don’t you like Susan’s (Carny Dog) idea that we should meet in an airport sometime preferably on our way to Italy. How about “on our way to Italy for a writer/blogger/photographer retreat?

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      1. It’s worth mentioning, too, that WordPress blogs automagically generate feeds for categories and authors, and to get them, all you have to do is add “/feed/” to the end of the URL. So for instance if there’s a blogger who writes well about food, but otherwise just blogs about cats and you’re a felinephobe, find the category they use for their food posts, append “feed” to the end and plug that into Google Reader.

        I’m so encouraged to hear that people are still using feed readers! All the tech gurus have been telling us for years that RSS is dead, and we should just use Twitter. But trying to follow blogs that way doesn’t save time; it wastes even more time.

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      2. Hi Dave! Wow, it’s great to hear from you. Thanks for the WordPress feeds tip. That is very cool. I had no idea — interesting tweak. I totally agree with you about Twitter. Psychic chaos. I love the calm, linear Reader.

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  2. “Turn of a phrase” is a mighty understatement and I totally agree with Elizabeth on the airport. I hope we’re all on the way to Italy when it happens. Happy New Year!

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  3. Matt Mullenweg keeps saying that blogging makes more sense now in a fragmented social media landscape, since the blog becomes a home base where people can share the things that really matter to them — and then push links out to Twitter, Facebook etc. if they choose. Sounds as if that’s what you’ve been discovering, too. I do like some of the conversations on Facebook, but it can be a hell of a time-suck.

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