Why I blog my poems—there’s a reason?


“Why I blog my poems.” Whoa, that sounds as if poetry-blogging is a way of life instead of yet another redundant project thrust into my overloaded schedule a mere four weeks ago. It sounds as if I know what I’m doing. All bluff.

Poems in the Wild. Redundant. Pointless. Impulsive. Nauseating. Embarrassing. Time wasting. Pretentious. Amateurish. Unworthy of you. So my literary self tells me.

But listen to me, literary self! Sit down, lookame lookame lookame! Yes you can keep your coffee but drop the iPhone.

I’m sure if I think hard enough, I’ll find a justification if not a reason for starting yet another blog. Maybe more than one.

7 reasons why I blog my poems

  1. I thought I needed a brand new blog to work on for Blogging 101. I was wrong. So what?
  2. Using Wordpress’s seductive Schedule button, I can impersonate a dedicated, professional, assiduous, skilful, predictable, reliable daily blogger. Poems are banked up in the system now for the next month. Cunning or what?
  3. I have an archive of several hundred mini-poems dating from my first glimpse of a smart phone. It was instantly obvious to me why God created smart phones: for sharing teeny weeny gobbets of poetry. But instead of creating an app or otherwise marketing my little fortune cookie poems, I just went on writing new ones. Today, with an official blog for poems and nothing but poems, I can finally share. (See reason No. 6.)
  4. I looooove taking square photos with my iPhone for no reason. Look, I just took another one. I wear those fingerless mittens on cold type days. What a gorgeous colour! What entrancing shapes! Well, I think so. And how about the lucky placement of “Rejoice” on that red card! I’m happy because my endless stream of photos has found a purpose and a home: Poems in the wild.
  5. Nothing sharpens the editor’s pencil like publication. And a blog is a form of publication even if only three people read it. (See reason No. 6.) Typing each poem out one more time reveals unnecessary commas and a cry for a final edit. Which is nice.
  6. Now for the ultimate justification. A few people have actually read a few of the poems! I can prove it! Perhaps that’s exaggerating but some have clicked a like button and a staggering ten [sic; 10, X, shí, juunin, tekau, dix, zehn, sepuluh] have followed the blog, so there, literary self, take that! Surely even you can see that having a few readers, even a mere two or a magnificent ten, is better than having no readers at all?
  7. And finally: I like my blog. It’s my private indulgence. It makes me smile.

Track Poems in the Wild: this is a link 🙂


77 Things I Learned From Writing 1,000 Blog Essays

Oh, the wonderful James Wallace Harris has done it again. This time he has written his thousandth essay that looks too long to read, but is in fact something I (as usual) am compelled to read to the very end, nodding or squawking all the way through.

One point that crops up repeatedly rings a bell with me: blogging as an aid to memory. But that’s just one point…

These 77 benefits of blogging were never so exhaustively, personally, and eloquently expressed. Which ones do you agree with? Has James missed any benefits?

Source: 77 Things I Learned From Writing 1,000 Blog Essays

How to look young in our 70s

Taylor Family Reunion New Zealand 2016. Spot 8 people in their 70s and 80s.

Every baby looks like a baby. When you look at a baby, you can guess its age to within a few months. No 15-year-old looks like a 5-year-old, either.

Gradually the differences between individuals of the same age stretch out. The difference between two 7-month-old babies is miniscule, and the difference between two septuagenarians is vast. Many, many of us give a first impression of being at least 10 years younger than our chronological age. How do we do it?

Much of this apparent youthfulness is due to sheer luck (but not as much as we used to believe). Good genes are sheer luck. A childhood with good genes, good location, good timing, good nutrition — all luck. Much youthfulness is due to good habits, starting with exercise. And of course people often say it’s all in the mind. “Young at heart” is what matters — that’s true, but where does this attitude come from?

Good luck and good habits can be overturned in an hour, for example by an accident or disease. And just quietly, on some days we look 100.

Younger on the outside, happier on the inside

You can’t rewrite your life from scratch, and you can’t just change your attitude by an act of will. But luckily (!), there’s a great deal of simple stuff we can actually start doing right now, today, that will make us look younger right away, today.

But only if we want to. Up to us, right? I’m thinking of the times when you feel your outside appearance doesn’t match the way you feel inside, and you want to change that.

Often if you change something on the outside, the inside changes too. Isn’t that a clever trick?

If you would like to look younger, more like the way you feel inside, try simply changing one little thing: this you can do. We older people do get fixed in our ways. You might be very surprised at the chain of happy events that result from one small change to your behaviour. Here are some tips. Pick one!

8 tips for men and women

1. Smile. Smile often. Think about something that makes you smile. Or smile for no reason. Smile at strangers. A smiling face is a younger face. A smiling face is a gift to the smilee and it feels more alive to the smiler.

2. Stand up as straight as you can. Long neck, shoulders relaxed and down. This gives you a younger shape, a more positive stature… and attitude.

3. When you walk, look around you. Don’t gaze at the footpath the whole time. Bounce along, swing along. This creates a youthful feeling inside you, and a youthful impression to observers.

4. If your neck is stuck, get it unstuck. You want a head that balances on the spine, not one that’s welded to your spine. Young people move their heads. What to do? Stand up to use your computer — put it on the kitchen bench, sideboard, mantelpiece, or just a box on your desk. (If you sit down to type, your head pokes forward, end of story. A new chair will not fix this.)  And restart that movement thing you used to love — yoga, tai chi, physiotherapy, Feldenkrais, dancing, gardening, whatever suits you and your body.

5. Pay attention to your hair. When it gets thin or doggy, hair is a dead giveaway for age. Colour’s not necessarily an issue, but style needs attention: the old style probably won’t work any more. Men: lose that combover now, this minute, no excuses — get thee to the barber! You know who you are. A shaved head looks young and is appropriate at any age.

6. Find colours that suit you now: they do exist, and they are different from what suited you in your youth. In my case, beige makes me invisible, and young people are never invisible. And black near my face makes me look like a corpse. I find the Gothic look a bit scary on older people — but maybe you like that, in which case go for it.

7. Wear some clothes that are fun or fashionable. Enjoy them. Wake up to what younger people are wearing nowadays. Believe it, some of those things may suit you.

8. Or do none of the above. Please yourself.

4 tips for women only

1. Wear a bit of makeup. You are beautiful, but some people can’t see it because your skin has gone all wishy washy. Find a lipstick you can live with: that looks better, ay? Maybe reinstate a pair of eyebrows, and play around with blusher.

2. Hitch up your tits, whether they’re beanbags or hackysacks. Wear a decent, properly fitted bra. This gives you breasts and a waist, like young women tend to have. If that’s just an illusion, so what? Celebrate the illusion.

3. Use a magnifying mirror to spot and snip those telltale hairs growing into a horse’s tail under your chin. You’ll hate what you see, but you’ll love the peace of mind, which we imagine is a feature of mindless youth.

4. Or do none of the above. Feeling fine? Then I’ll shut up. It’s just that people ask me sometimes, why do you look so young? And I started thinking about it, you see.
We know we’re lucky, we members of this new tribe of the young-old. So let’s bounce around the world with joy. As I said, our luck can change in a flash. How wicked to moan and groan about life when we are so lucky.

P.S. I wrote a similar article in another blog which is being stripped of its assets.

Old lady gets a kitten: pros and cons


Lady Ursula surveys her new domain in alarm. But is it ethical or wise of me to own a cat?

All right all right, so I’ve done it again. Got a new cat, in spite of all the arguments against it. Is that wise? Is it ethical? Is it even safe? Watch me torture myself in public over this decision.

Introductions first. Her name is Ursula, which slid into place merely because it means “little bear” and she is rather teddy-bearish in shape and texture. Breed: British shorthair, and colour: chocolate. She is almost four months old.

Is it ethical to own a cat at all?

This is a hot argument in New Zealand at present. Feral cats and domestic cats eat native birds by the ton. They also eat rats and mice, which eat native birds.

This argument is easy to deal with in the case of Ursula. I live in an apartment, second floor. The boundary of her estate is a deck, and if she is feeling energetic, a dangerous rooftop. Not a habitat of native birds. If the occasional sparrow flies down Ursula’s throat, they knew the risk. Should have listened to Mummy Sparrow.

Ursula can never roam, not even into the neighbour’s garden, and this will not frustrate her in the slightest. That’s why I chose a British shorthair. The polar opposite of Burmese or Siamese, their idea of fun is lolling around the house all day. At present we are teaching her how to play. Teaching her!  And she’s a kitten!

Is it wise for an older person to own a cat?

Arguments against (wild generalisations):

  • Many old people trip over their cats and break a hip. I am very sorry to hear that, and I do see the risk.
  • Cats can spread a parasite that causes dementia in the elderly. (But not, I think, a hermit cat bought from a reputable breeder.)
  • They smell. Yes, they do! And some people, including dear friends of mine, are allergic to cats.
  • Keeping a cat costs money, especially when the vet’s bills roll in. And I’m on an economy kick, planning for when my business income drops away one day. To own a cat is crazy!

Arguments in favour (brutally paraphrased):

  • Stroking animals lowers blood pressure and makes people happy. I don’t have high blood pressure and I’m not lonely or depressed but hey, why not?
  • Heart attack victims who have pets survive longer than those without pets. Be prepared!
  • I’m trying to get used to the idea of being old. So I’m embracing the stereotype: old ladies have cats.
  • Having responsibility for an animal is a factor in keeping older people alive as well as happy. Beat that! End of story!

Afterthoughts that are really my core reasons:

  • Pure pleasure and amusement.
  • Aesthetic buzz: beauty in motion.
  • Companionship. Hey there pal!
  • The mysterious sense of another living spirit in my space.

The debate about owning cats in New Zealand

Health benefits of owning pets


Commenting on other blogs: high risk sport


Before Blogging 101, I used to comment on blogs without any worries, just as the spirit moved me. I never thought much about what to say or how to say it.

But in Blogging 101 we were given guidelines on how to make valuable comments, and I’m still thinking about those. One tip:

“Mind your manners. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it in their comment thread.”

But you know, the opposite can be true. When you say something to a person’s face, you provide many extra clues for interpretation. Your tone of voice and facial expression can soften an otherwise abrupt remark. That’s why emojis are so popular. Maybe we should be a bit more cautious when commenting online for this reason.

Even so, at what point does my involvement seem like interference to you? Can I ever be sure that you won’t take my friendly disagreement as an insult or attack?

Who have I offended today?

Today I completed the assigned task by commenting at some length on four blog posts or pages. I did five. And I’m almost sure I have been too bossy or presumptuous or even rude at times.

Do you agree? I’ve provided links to the pages where I commented.

  1. BasantS writes about her experience as a socially anxious extravert. My comment was purely supportive, I hope.
  2.  Phantasmagoria wrote that her ideal audience was just like herself. The post amused me, and therefore I disagreed with her — because I am not just like her, not by a very long chalk! I think I disagreed politely?
  3. Jen Todd in “My Paint Splattered Life” gives excellent advice on How Not to Quit when Blogging 101 is a struggle. But she attributes her own tussles with Blogging 101 to her age (56), and this I strongly disagreed with. Was I rude? Now I’m wondering.
  4. Mashedjam introduced herself and her reasons for blogging. My main feeling about this page is one of admiration. But I think my comment is rather patronising. Why did I presume to give advice out of nowhere to someone I have never met? Beats me.
  5. Kiwinana gave her perfectly reasonable opinion about swearing on WordPress blogs. Not satisfied with dishing out unsolicited advice to one person, I proceeded to do it again — even though I am a Kiwi Nana myself! Even as I commented, I wondered whether I was phrasing my thoughts safely.

Update: Courteously, the lovely Kiwinana thanks me for the comment and link: just what I hoped for. But look, now another person joins in the debate rather more robustly.

Now what?

The photo was taken at the Taylor family reunion last week.

Blogging 101 is not a walk in the park


I’m doing the 3-week Blogging 101 course run by WordPress University. Three weeks is an ideal length. Actually, I’m squashing it into two weeks, and I’m not the only one. I’ve read that the majority of people enrolled in MOOCs (Mass Open Online Courses run by universities) drop out after four weeks. So I’m guessing most Blogging 101 students will tough out our time.

Even so, we got a reminder today that the course is there for us, not vice versa. Do as little or as much as you like. Choose your tasks. Take a break. Whatever. Yep, that’s the way.

You’d think such a short course would be a walk in the park, but no. Each day brings a new task, and they are spread between writing, technical and social activities. Hard to separate, these aspects of a blog are all important.

Why am I doing this course?

A friend urged me to take the course when I began a new blog on WordPress after years of using Blogger and a frustrating start with Squarespace. She had found Blogging 101 so valuable.

Right! My main needs were technical and social:

  • The WordPress platform may be easy when you know how. But flexibility (open source means thousands of developers and themes) comes at a price, and finding the solution you want can be verrrrry time-consuming. Aaargh!
  • Blogger is dying (I think) and downright klunky. Super-cool Squarespace does not encourage community. So the only comments I ever got were from dedicated friends prepared to battle the technology. By contrast, WordPress is designed for community, and that’s what I need to learn about.

Spread of tasks so far

  1. Day 1: introduce yourself on the private online forum (social & writing task)
  2. Day 2: Take Control of Your Title and Tagline (writing & tech task)
  3. Day 3: follow 5 new tags in the Reader and 5 new blogs) (social task)
  4. Day 4: publish a post you’d like your ideal audience member to read, and include a new-to-you element. (writing & social & tech task.)
  5. Day 5: try out at least three other themes. (tech task)
  6. Weekend: Optional tasks (2 social, 2 writing)
  7. Day 6: Make an irresistible “About” page (writing & tech task)
  8. Day 7: Create and upload a header, background, or both, or a widget. (tech task)
  9. Day 8: Leave comments on at least four blogs that you’ve never commented on before. (social task)

And of Day 8’s task, more later…