Friday, September 2, 2011

End of Summer Blog Mash-Up

Summer slowly sinks on the horizon at Sanibel Island, FL
Farewell to Summer!  Today begins the Labor Day weekend and the official end of summer – although the temperature gauge hasn’t gotten the memo yet.  I guess it’s probably too late to make this the summer I learned to surf.  However, I can at least cram in a few summer blog posts I never got posted.  So buckle up and prepare for the ride.  I hope you don’t get whiplash as I pick up speed.

Tech Tips
I’m not a techie person.  I still mash potatoes by hand and make applesauce with an over 50-year old Foley mill instead of a food processor.  The only apps on my smartphone besides e-mail are the social media ones that came with it.  But I stumbled upon three websites that make my online life manageable:
TeuxDeux – I’m a constant listmaker.  My desk, the kitchen, my purse, my bedside table were overrun with my list of things to do.  If I didn’t finish them all I had to find the list and add to it, or make a new one and add to the piles of paper on my desk.  Online calendars and task bars just did not meet my needs.  But TeuxDeux is a wonderful, online, no-frills kind of list-making machine.  You can do it by days and then it moves forward whatever you didn’t cross off.  It also has an area to list tasks you like to complete in the future, like organize my internet bookmarks better.  And I can’t lose it!

Instapaper – Hello, my name is Julie and I’m an information junkie.  I spend way too much time reading newspapers and magazines and news websites online.  Instapaper lets me break away from that all-important article on how to stream Netflix movies better and get back to the less riveting work of writing.  If you install it on your computer (or smartphone, if you must), then with just a click it can create a list of articles to read later so they don’t get lost amid all your other thousands of bookmarks (or is that just me?).  No more wondering if you had seen that recipe in the New York Times or what was that article on the ten best places to get fried chicken.  It’s sitting there, waiting for you.

Evernote – Just about anything you find online – picture, words, website, audio – you can save here.  See a recipe you like?  Select the text and with a click it’s pasted into Evernote.  Want to save a website address but also make some pertinent notes about it for research purposes?  There’s space for that.  Scan a bunch of Post-its cluttering up your desk and store them there.  I’ve barely begun to tap the well of what it can do.  But it’s great.
Colors of a summer evening in Dijon

Read With Me

This was the summer I got back to serious reading.  So I’m giving you very short list of what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m reading now, and what I hope to read.

The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion) – “Life changes fast.  Life changes in the instant.  You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”  So begins the memoir about the year in which her husband died at the dinner table of massive coronary at the same time that they had been dealing with their daughter in the hospital with a life-threatening illness.  With humor, poignancy, and a lot of “what ifs” she looks at the year in which she had to reach a new normal in which her “memory of this day a year ago is a memory that does not involve John.”  I bought it at Shakespeare and Company in Paris this summer, started it on the train back to Dijon, and devoured it that weekend.

The Paris Wife (Paula McLain) – About a year ago I finally read Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.  It was the only Hemingway book that did not move like slow torture for me.  His memoir was a lovely, human piece about a young marriage in an exciting place, with only hints of what would come.  So when McLain published this novel about that life told from the perspective of our own St. Louis girl, Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson, I had to read it.  I’m still working on it, but it’s lively writing about a woman restrained first by the era in which she lived, then eventually overwhelmed by the character that would become “Ernest Hemingway, writer.”  I’ll get back to it this afternoon.

Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, Chinaberry Sidewalks by songwriter Rodney Crowell, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, An American Childhood by Annie Dillard are just some of the memoirs on my “to read” list.  And then I hope I remember to post them over on Goodreads.

Blogging Challenge
I joined my first Platform-Building Campaign, which is kind of like summer boot camp for bloggers.  I should have noted this earlier so I could invite people to join before the date to sign up closes, blah blah blah.  I’m supposed to put a campaign button thingy on my website, which hasn’t happened yet (maybe this afternoon).  And Yahoo won’t let me into the group discussions (did I miss the “Secret Handshake” post for the campaign somewhere?)

However, I’ve visited other blogs involved and have had those writers visit me and I hope that when it ends in October that I’ve upped my writing game by a small degree.  Yes, it’s too late to learn to surf this summer.  And improving my French will be a lifelong slog.  And I don’t think I’m cut out for Zumba classes.  So if I want to learn something new in order to prevent a rapid slide into senility, I think it will have to work on mastering the blog world.  I hope that you are the beneficiaries of that challenge.

Have a good weekend.  See you on the flip side of summer.

What summer goals did you or didn’t you accomplish this year?  Tell us about it in the comments section.

My husband's Uncle Hal has the right idea for how to light that grill in a jiffy
blog mash2_9/2/11


Michael Ann said...

That list-maker app sounds worth a try! I'm a total list person too. I didn't have any specific summer goals but I did manage to learn a lot about blogging and social networking an all that good stuff. Made a lot of new friends in the blogging world. Got some personal goals accomplished. Nice post!

Laura@Catharsis said...

Beautiful pictures! I am also a list maker. Perhaps that program will work for me. Though I have to say, I'm keen on my good, old fashioned desk calendar. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Unknown said...

hi, i am from your memoir writing group but so not a list maker! stopping by to say a first hello and let you know i am now following you in google reader. I have been writing for about 10 months (just on my blog) and adore it! i am so surprised to have found an unexpected new hobby. professionally i am a visual artist but have always used text as inspiration. i am so excited to meet all you campaigners and get to know you and your stop by the flight platform as well. janexxxx

AJ Borowsky said...

Hello Julie. I'm one of the campaigners from the non-fiction group. Three things that strike me in regard to your profile. First my wife is named Julie, second she takes a million pictures because they're free, and three your new outlook on life is what my book is all about! The search for what next. Congratulations for being proactive and may your journey be full of wonderful discoveries.

Misadventures in Motherhood said...

Hi Julie!! I stumbled upon your blog because I ADORE Catharsis by Laura, and I saw she was celebrating receiving an award, so I had to go check it out. Of course I followed her link back to your page, and I'm a new follower. I am also an avid devourer of books and will soon be friend-requesting you on GoodReads... so look for me! :-) (By the way, did you know that Goodreads has an AWESOME widget that will let you display your most recently read books and the first few lines of your reviews? I LOVE IT... I have a whole page of my blog called "What am I Reading?" that just consists of recent stuff I've read on Goodreads! And it updates automatically when I write a new review! Can we say FANTASTIC??!

I write a humor blog about all things motherhood at Misadventures in Motherhood. As a stay-at-home mom of two kids, I occasionally feel like I am shrinking into nonexistence within the walls of my own home... but then, bam, I get on some blogging sites, meet some awesome people, and feel like I've made some true friends of the heart. Writing a humor blog has been thoroughly therapeutic for me... it's nice to be able to take incidents that would normally inspire me to gouge my eyeballs out with a spork and turn them into stories that can make myself and others laugh. It's been great.

Anyway, it is lovely to meet you, and I have very much enjoyed reading what I've seen so far on your blog! I'm following you via GFC, so I look forward to reading more!

Oh, and I'm an obsessive photo-taker too... the one you have at the top of the page is absolutely GORGEOUS.... that should be hung up in a quiet beach restaurant somewhere so a loving couple could eat a romantic dinner under it!

Hint: Digital photo frames are great! They get rid of the guilt of not printing out the bazillions of photos you take, but you still get to look at your pictures all the time!

Okay, I'm hogging all your comment space... he he... but I'm excited to meet you and I wish you all the best here in the blogosphere! And if you get a chance, pop over to my blog sometime... I'd love to see your smiling face over there!

Smiles, Jenn

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lovely summer for you! I love that first photo too. I read "The Year of Magical Thinking" a number of years ago. Fascinating read. You really feel for Joan and what she goes through.

Brenda Sills said...

Hi Julie! I'm so glad I found you on Nadine Feldman's blog. And it's great that we're fellow campaigners too!

I'm also a maniacal photographer - I take lots of random photos that seem ridiculous to other people, but I love the eccentric, the interesting, the unique. You are such a talented photographer - I sure wish I could take such great photos as you do!

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