Numbers Game

Challenge AcceptedToday Google reminded me I have analytics. I have pretty much ignored these since the beginning of my blog. I sometimes peek if someone asks. Mostly though, only Denise asks. I roll my eyes and say that Google Analytics doesn’t work on my blog. I don’t want to login to Bluehost to look. Whatev. Today Google reminded me as I said. By email. I forwarded it to Denise. She replied asking how many page views. I went and looked. Erm. Ok. More than I did 5 years ago.

I don’t reach superstar status though. Apparently that is only in my mind. Ree and Elise love me…so what more could I want? Those are AUTHENTIC. Or just because we get stuck in an elevator together a lot.

This blog has long been about a love song and not so much about the rest of you. Did I say that out loud? Oh well, you know it anyway. You like to watch The Flamingo House Show.

Now there will be a show.

You see, during the series of email exchanges, Denise said I needed more page views. 50,000 more a month. Why? Because she was being sassy. Because she likes to challenge me. Because she spends time with the superstars of the blogging world. Because in our world, a challenge works like flirting. You have seen the story of my first website. You know the story of this blog.

So here I am, once again, forced to prove what I have always said: “I know HOW. I just don’t.”

Of course, the problem is: I haven’t. I have ignored the “Build Your Traffic” and “Take Your Blog to the Next Level” sessions at BlogHer for years. I have been happy where I was with blogging. So, I will be doing my homework.

You will be seeing more posts. More Retro Goodness. I am going to throw in a bit of green blogging, frustrated city dwelling homesteader to be blogging, some grandma blogging, maybe even some blogging about what it means to be a lesbian mother of six, including a transgendered young adult and another GLBTQAI or whatever duck soup letters they choose young adult, a lovely married daughter with a child, a teen dating for the first time, and some other quirky young adults finding their path. (Lesbian mother of College Student Queers, Young Adults, and a Teen. ThatGrandma to one! Light Green. Hound obsessed. Plotting to move to the country and grow a lot of peaches!)

Not only that…I want to make this a love song for YOU.

Escapism

This is the post I started yesterday, then completely scrapped just now. Starting over. Same topic. Different words.

Blame the dog park.

You see like the modern urban pet owner, we take our dogs to the dog park. I’ve rambled about it before. It makes “the dogs” happy. It does, but it also makes US happy. It is not just our happiness at seeing the pups bound through the tall prairie grasses and flowers, though I think that sparked a bit of what happened next, it is that WE are happier mucking through the mud, watching the seasons change, wandering where the only path is one designated by the dogs. We like sitting by the pond. We like cutting through the back brush. We like the dog park. 44-acres of puppy/people fun. The dogs come home content. We come home content.

We come home to a dense neighborhood. We come home to a house suited to our basic needs here in Chicagoland and even a house that screams US. We come home to a house that isn’t really what we will need post-young children at home. And we daydream and escape all of it. We’ve long daydreamed. Once upon it was of 5 kids and us together in a home. Then we daydreamed of a slightly better home of our own. We didn’t buy though. Nothing was quite right. Ok, we sort of still think about that house by the airport in Gainesville, that had an indoor pool and a warehouse. (What a great skate park! Place for the big kids to hang out and play their instruments! A big yard! A POOL.) Then since moving to Chicago and knowing before we even moved here that it wasn’t a place that would enfold us as “home,” daydreams of moving south again. Way south.

Not Gainesville. Not Charleston. Not Anderson or Atlanta. Not Charlotte or Asheville. Somewhere different. It got narrowed down to the area on the coast around the Florida/Georgia line. At first there was a lot of Amelia Island and the surrounding area. There are some great, fairly reasonably priced houses. Of course, with a beach house, we need an elevator. No getting Mama up and down long flights of stairs on a regular basis, not to mention the fact that knees are failing here, and none of us is getting younger. A Peter Pan house won’t work for a forever home.

So, we started to winnow into rather interesting but fairly suburban/small town/medium town types of houses. Then the dog park happened. Our search widened again. No longer just price points (below 200K), bedrooms (at least 3), bathrooms (at least 2). It changed from no horrible granite kitchen or bad electricity. Suddenly we were looking at homes with LAND. Yes, land. “For the puppies” Yes, we do daydream about being able to open the door and have the pups bound off and have their tails disappear into the tall grass.

Of course, when looking at houses with land…they often come with other structures. A pole barn. A pump house. A pond. Pasture. Fields. This of course sets my heart to thumping. You see, since I was a youngling, I’ve always wanted a “farm.” My grandfather had one. My mother’s family had tales of them. I lived in Wisconsin and fell in love with cows, gardening, and canning.
Soon the daydream of forever home started to include fruiting trees, bushes, and a big garden. But a stable or barn means…animals. So there prances along my family cow…the Jersey girl I’ve wanted for 20 + years. Then Denise has wanted chickens for a long time. I’m amenable to goats. (mmm fresh goat cheeese!) Ava suggests sheep. RJ suggests pigs. (She’s vegan? What am I going to do with a pig? Besides Denise is NOT of the mind that we will slaughter our critters. Erm…I haven’t told her the hard truths about chickens yet. Or male calves.)

Today I ended up on The Livestock Conservancy site. There I learned of Florida Cracker Cows and Florida Cracker Sheep, which led me to learn about Florida Cracker Horses and Pineywoods Cattle. These are all farm animals that will do well with novices living in a scrubby, hot, wet place. Hmm…the daydreams continue. Yes, we might have priced the Florida Cracker Cows.

Now, Ava asked when she heard of the cow plans, just how long I would like it–a week? And Denise keeps saying we will have to get Christopher to move back in with us to be our farm hand–because we have jobs. I tried to tell her that most farmers do. She pointed out that they weren’t me.

But still we daydream of the perfect house that meets our requirements, has some wild yard for the dogs to bound, room for my garden and for Denise’s fussy 5 flower gardens.

Here is where I talk of escapism. You see, not only is this an escape from loud neighbors or grumpy ones who don’t appreciate the dogs alerting them to the presence of raccoons and skunks, it is a mental escape. Denise can play with her phone and watch the properties on Zillow. She can look up ag land exemptions and ponder just what that is in that picture. I can plot the dream homestead–smaller than The Idyll. I can think of waking up to go milk the cows and let them out to pasture. Skeeter will run beside me and help herd. She’s good at that. We can take a sunset stroll around the property with the dogs. I can milk and tend while Denise washes up the dishes. Dinners will be home baked bread, vegetables we grew and I canned, fruits I preserved, perhaps some meat from our livestock from time to time. I will have some retro joy in this life. And I escape. I escape now to this “simpler world” and I will escape then I think. I block out the work, the illnesses, the fact that even in the south where everyone has an Aunt who lives with her friend from childhood, and they are called “the girls” that we as outsiders will be strange. Goodness knows, we are strange anywhere.

But in the fairy tale land of escape today, it is all good. I will be far away from war, from police killing people for the color of their skin, from violence against transgendered people, from rape, from suicide, from death, from ignorance and hate, from hate toward refugee children, the mentally ill, women, gays, and all the things that ache my heart. Instead my brain is plotting what needs to go in the ground, what needs to be transplanted, how we will build a chicken coop and chicken tractor, whether to have honeybees, how we will tend the goats, sheep, cows. Just a Cracker pony to round up the cattle? Or should we get a pony for the grandchildren?

Yes, a fantasy life to escape the realities. I know it is fantasy. It isn’t as huge of a fantasy as The Idyll. It is more do-able. That makes it an easy way to slip away from obsessing about the pain and sadness in the world. Not for long enough, not enough to obliterate the worry for my family, my friends, for people I have never met and for people I have not yet met. And worst of all, people I can never meet. But in the meantime, I can slip into the escape of a sweet daydream with puppies bounding, cows lowing, and maybe even some sheep baa-ing.

And I won’t think too hard on the fact that my father dreamed of and finally escaped from the farm for many of the same reasons that I want to escape to one.

Robin Williams Scares Me

The news just broke about the reported suicide of Robin Williams. A suck of my breath as I heard it invade my mother’s watching of the evening news. A dragging of my computer back out. I had not turned it off. I’d started a post and it wasn’t right. I was regrouping. CNN? Nothing. The evening news must be wrong. Unfortunately it wouldn’t be the first time the mainstream media was wrong. Glad I didn’t take Brian Williams at his word. Let me Google though. One source showed up. Hadn’t heard of it. Looked at Twitter. There were a few voices but I had seen fake celeb deaths before. Google again. Oh. Damn. Not fake.

Before I get to rambling about Robin Williams, let me say I admire the fact that his family, the emergency staff, and so on, managed to keep a lid on the news for long enough that the publicist could release a statement, his wife could prepare a statement, and presumably, his children were notified. It wasn’t on TMZ while young children were still screaming for daddy as they rolled the stretcher out.

Back to Robin Williams, like everyone my age, my life was tattooed by Mork, first on Happy Days and then on Mork and Mindy. He became a star about the same time I was dipping into getting the jokes in stand up. Robin Williams threaded into and out of my life for the rest of his life. A movie, a late night tv show appearance when my husband was away, late night tv as I nursed my babies, another movie, daytime talk shows, and of course, last year I watched The Crazy Ones.

Watching The Crazy Ones, I remembered all those days and nights with the tv as company. I remembered the manic energy. I watched as Robin once again showed the kind of wall-bouncing energy of the same sort that tends to get me THE LOOK from my family and friends. I watched the frailty as well. Magnificent. A sit-com that was really a sit-com. But it was more. And as I watched a show set in Chicago, I started to think of the ways I could accidentally run into Robin Williams. I’ve got a drama geek child who attends Piven, for example. Robin and Jeremy Piven know each other. Dramatic child is dramatic. And funny. What if?

And I realized I would babble. I realized that as much as Robin Williams made me laugh and brought me to tears, he scared me. Was he dancing as fast as he could? Would he miss a step? What would that mean for my eccentricities? Would it mean anything?What would I see in those eyes close up?

After all, I never have had a drug or alcohol problem. No hospitalizations for depression.In fact, when concerned about depression, the doctors then smile and say “No, you aren’t depressed.” So why the fear? Why did seeing Robin Williams, a man I admired, a man that was such a part of so many domestic moments in my life scare me?

Perhaps because my heart knew it isn’t something outgrown. Perhaps because seeing that you aren’t out of danger once you are out of high school or make it past 27 or go to rehab and then stay sober for years after is frightening. It means you can’t stop worrying about the ones you love. It means you can’t trust that you are fine. It means that you can’t believe that all the genius madness is safe. That it is just a laugh, a cry, pretend.

So here I sit, just one more piece of breaking news when all the news seems “breaking” and I just want to hide far away from it all.

Six days. Sigh

I made six posts in a row. Then missed yesterday. I thought about it, but kept putting it off until “later.” Then I forgot altogether until my computer went to bed for the night. So I missed yesterday. Not much to miss really. It was a draggy day for me.
Today was much better, despite the fact I had the most tired, unrefreshed day EVER and then at bedtime I couldn’t fall asleep. What the heck? It was after 2 am when I finally fell asleep.

Today we went for a long visit to the dog park. We meandered. The dogs ran and and ran and ran and ran. They are now very tired. The park was nearly empty. Surprising it was so empty because well, the weather was perfect.

Tomorrow the “little girls” come. RJ’s last long stretch before college. GIANT SNIFF. Ava comes for just a wave and hug length visit Sunday. Monday night the big kids come. Tuesday morning Johnny Mac Pippin and his Mama come. It is a busy week ahead.