Wednesday, 31 October 2012

the world is planted in pennies

When I signed back in to Google Reader
after my enforced absence
I realised that the little corner of Blogland
I have loved for the past five years
has become very quiet recently.

Not this blog, I hasten to add,
as you entertain us all, day after day
with your effervescent chat in my comment box.

It is my community of blogs that worries me.

My friends have new challenges
to absorb their time
and I am thrilled for them
but I miss their company.

Other friends have found that blogging
no longer fulfils the need that once existed,
compelling them to write and publish,
and have stopped writing altogether.
I miss them too.

There are new friends who find us
and join in the chat with enthusiasm
and sparkling new blogs
that we discover by accident
but I am afraid that I am not looking
in the right places any more
because new discoveries are rare these days.

Some bloggers continue to write year after year,
retaining a fresh authentic voice,
some blogs find fresh impetus
with new challenges for the writer,
other blogs last a short time
but leave a lasting impression.
They are all unique, all extraordinary.

Please don't think that I am referring to myself.
You are always very generous
with praise and encouragement.
I love writing and will continue to do so
while I have the time and the ideas.

I have realised how fragile Blogland is,
that it is vital that we value blogs and their writers
while they are there sharing their worlds with us.
Our imaginations would be a poorer place
without their enthusiasms and new perspectives.


"If you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity,
so that finding a penny will literally make your day,
then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies,
you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.”

Annie Dillard


  1. I think you hit the nail on the head with 'community of blogs', for any blog, no matter how crafted the words and sparkling the photography, does not exist in a vacuum.

    When we begin consuming blogs, as if they were magazines, taking on the content that interests us and then moving on without leaving a comment, they are poorer for it.

    When we pin a picture that we like, without telling the photographer why it appeals to us, we rob them of the joy that makes them take the next one.

    When we let a fellow blogger comment faithfully on our own blog, post after post, but fail to acknowledge them with a comment on their own blog once in a while, our whole community is poorer for it.

    Our community is so much larger than it was back in 2006 - there's nothing wrong with that. I just wish sometimes that it was as strong. Because it is that feeling of being part of something bigger that provides much of the joy. And yes, it is indeed very fragile.

  2. Ali's words stuck a chord with me. I consume your blog to brighten my day but don't stop to comment. ("Too busy, must get on.")
    Thank you for allowing me into this little bit of your world - I always love to see what you show.

  3. I cannot say it better than Ali....

    and I do so miss some of our community too. x

  4. Dear Ali,
    Thank you for this very thoughtful comment.

    I am guilty of not commenting. I know why but I must change the way I read blogs so that I have time to comment and contribute to other conversations. And I must start looking for new ones again - they will be out there somewhere.

  5. Dear Sarah,
    Thank you for stopping by! Blogs need writers AND readers and I am grateful to have the time to write. Please enjoy reading and don't feel you have to comment unless something appeals to you.

    I think my concern is for the community of bloggers that I started writing with. We were like lots of little boats bobbing around in a harbour and it was a sunny place to be.

  6. Dear Tess,
    Thank you! I know that communities change - people come and go - and we cannot recreate the time when we started because we are all doing different things now. I think that I have realised that I have taken it for granted and that must change.

  7. What a lot you have given me to think about this morning Alice. As a late-comer to the party (although now I think about it I have been blogging for nearly three years) I find I feel quite different. I feel very much a part of a blogging community that brightens my life and widens my horizons. Will I feel the same in another three years when inevitably some blogs will have moved on or fizzled out? Who knows?

  8. Dear Alice and Ali, you have both spoken so wisely and have managed to express what I have been feeling for so long. There are people I miss, occasionally new (to me) bloggers and of course those friends who have continued blogging during the time I've been doing it. All of them are valued and appreciated... but it is different, quieter somehow, despite there being many more blogs than there used to be. Like with everything else change is inevitably I suppose and the trick is to embrace it.

  9. I should like to thank you, Alice, and all those who write the blogs that I enjoy and those who comment upon them, you all make my life richer with your words.

  10. I continue to enjoy your wit and style, Alice, although I have rarely left a comment and stopped posting on my own blog more than a year ago, partly because other bits of my life demanded time, partly because I didn't really mean to start a blog in the first place, partly because I wanted to be anonymous. I have enjoyed following some blogs that have either been taken down or where posts have declined or stopped altogether and I have felt concern as to the reason, and for the well-being of the blog author, as one does. Some have published an explanation and said goodbye, others have simply disappeared. We may do as we please but I think some of us feel unnerved by the medium itself and our lasting visibility in cyberspace so that we cannot discount feelings of shyness and worries over privacy and lack of anonymity that may all contribute to persuading folk to withdraw to the background.
    Thank you!

  11. Dear Sue
    Your experience of blogging reflects the energy that you put into writing but also reading and commenting. It is people like you that revitalise our engagement with blogs.
    Thank you!

  12. Dear GIna
    There are new ways to communicate such as twitter and new resources such as Pinterest to absorb our time. These are wonderful but we all have to choose how to spend our precious times and perhaps some of the change is due to people embracing new media because they are better suited to their lifestyles. You manage to write, read, comment and reply to comments as well as teach, create and cook. I am really not sure how you do it!

  13. Liz in Missouri (USA)October 31, 2012

    I send my thanks along with Toffeeapple. I don't have a blog - but I DO have a handful that I love and read daily - this one included. Your photographs, your travels, the quotes you find and use have added a depth to my quiet life for which I don't thank you (or other bloggers)nearly enough. Thank you for sharing. I hope you will continue.

  14. I read both your blogpost and Ali's comment before I left for work and have thought a great deal about it. I came to the conclusion that maybe people were using differing platforms to express themselves (ie Pinterest, Twitter etc. I see you have already raised that amongst yourselves whilst Mr Muscle and I continued our dalliances so will just add that I am very grateful to be part of blogging community.

  15. Dear Toffeeapple
    You read so widely and comment so regularly - it is people like you that make Blogland tick! It is a community of writers AND readers - one cannot exist without the other.
    Thank you.

  16. Dear Mag,
    Thank you for taking the time to comment today. Writing and publishing online is not for everyone and I understand your reticence. I am not sure that I would have been able to write about my family when my children were younger and I tried hard to protect their anonymity when they were at school. Now that they are adults I feel that I would like my writing to have my name attached to it just as it would be if I was an author in a hard copy format such as newspapers or books and so I have gradually changed my approach to my blog.

    I hope that this conversation will reassure you that readers are as much a part of Blogland as writers and that I am grateful for your friendship as you read.

  17. Dear Liz,
    Thank you for stopping by as you often do and leaving your comment - a message all the way from Missouri!It is extraordinary how blogs enable us to link up across the world - sharing interests and experiences. I think of it as a virtual diaspora linked by a common love of chocolate cake and ricrac braiding.

  18. Dear Cathy,
    Just for a horrible moment I thought that you were referring to MrM as Mr Muscle. All this time I have been portraying him as a cuddly travel insurance guru and suddenly you reveal the shocking truth. Back off ladies.

  19. Eloquent, empathetic and oh so true. I am but a humble (not many followers at all) blogger who often wonders exactly what her style is? (this is not false modesty) I too find blogland immensely inspiring, informative and blissfully full of ... dare I say it... LOVE. Now who can't do with more of that I ask you??

    Thank you ♥

  20. I am just a little reader/commenter here but all I know is that I miss you when I don't find new posts and keep on checking regularly until you come back and if you don't hear from me it's because something happened in my "real life" something bad that makes me even forget there are blogs to read ...
    Thank you (all, you know who you are) for your beautiful blogs filled with words of wisdom, beauty, laughter, fun and LIFE.
    I know you find the community changed and I guess is normal, life evolves, everything gets so big, so fast and we're all absorbed by it taking over us but if you stop and look at it closer the circle is still there, you must only stop for a moment and look at it closely.
    My humble thought.

    PS Acqua alta was up to cm 140 last night so I'm guessing you piggy back riding already, aren't you?

  21. I, too, am grateful for the continuing stories of your life, Mrs. M. I read your blog not always daily but I always catch up. I read it out loud to my grown daughter and husband often, because it hits a nerve or makes me laugh, or I make them come and look at your lovely photographs. I try to comment on the blogs I read, because I know it's encouraging to think someone is actually reading it. I started a blog because my sister encouraged me to do it. I post generally the same thing I write to friends and family each day, and it includes the daily poem. I don't think of myself as a blogger really, just a letter writer, and someone who wants to share a poem, hoping to get more people to enjoy poetry! I find the new things like twitter and pinterest too fast for me. I like the leisurely pace of blogs, where you can come for the company and experience lives that are sometimes like yours and sometimes really different! Thanks for sharing, all of you, those who comment and you who write! Though you may not always hear from us, your thoughts and generosity make a difference in lives daily.

  22. Dear Alice,
    I appreciate that you often shine a soft light upon something that needs the illumination and warmth.

    With all of the other ways to connect online now, I still prefer blogs to anything else and am so happy for all those who are still finding pleasure in it. But I think you are right in that it is all quite fragile...I know I have felt so sometimes, and I have sometimes thought of quitting altogether, especially when the comments dwindle to a tiny trickle. I like that you are thoughtful about it and want to find the time to keep supporting the back and forth.

    As one of your other readers mentioned, I do think that blogs can become like magazines to the busy reader, but the difference is, magazines are created by teams of people there for all sorts of reasons. Blogs are created by one person, wanting to share something beyond their own minds and of course, there needs to be a response.

    So, thank you, for all the glowing pennies I have picked up here in your space.

  23. Having only been blogging seriously since February of last year I feel rather like Sue, that I am part of a vibrant community of bloggers. But I have already seen blogs that I love abandoned or fall into a slow decline, some I know because the authors lives are troubled, but others I fear because the latest distraction - Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter - has won the day.

    That saddens me because blogging alone is truly about story telling - in the broadest sense - and there is not enough story in our lives these days. Pretty things and pretty pictures make lovely eye candy but they do not feed the mind or the soul.

    The rest of what I would have said Ali has already expressed far more eloquently than I could. Just keep sharing your stories Alice, please :D

  24. Well, as a blogger, I find that if I grow silent it's usually because my mind is lingering on one particular hobby horse. I'm self conscious that my readers really cannot bear to read one more word about death, dying, and impulse control. I envy bloggers like you who can take an amazing photograph of the everyday and say something new and fresh with it and about it.

  25. It really is a difficult thing to keep going. I used to read all the blogs on my list religiously but then the list grew, and I just couldn't do it.
    I have come to terms with it and read when and where the fancy takes me, still feeling I have friends I can visit whenever I feel like it. As for my own blogging..its a journal for me nowadays and comments are a welcome bonus.

  26. And now I've read all these comments I have to agree that it is very dispiriting when one comments time and time again and gets no response. Not that thats why we leave comments..its just joining in the conversation but it so often becomes a monologue.

  27. Very sad, yes...
    "it is vital that we value blogs and their writers"

    glad you still blog

  28. I found you, a new to me blog, via a link on Gina Ferrari.

    I find most of my new blogs via comments.
    That tells me they are interesting, the comment caught my attention.
    They are active in blogland, they did leave a comment.
    And if I click thru and the new blog appeals, then another will be nudged out of my Reader. Those I can't/don't read are so long goodbye.

    I find a gentle rhythm with the blogs I read, sometimes I leave a comment, sometimes she does - and we know we are reading our posts in between.

  29. Oh, to me as an old lady blogger who struggles with each post, this is such a lovely space and place. You have enriched my life, Alice. Truly, and having a bit of space of my own has been such a challenge and such a wonderful journey. I do not have the beautiful words of others, but..guess what? I am finding my own and is that not the best gift of life forever?
    Thank you.

  30. I do so agree with Ali's comment,"When we begin consuming blogs, as if they were magazines, taking on the content that interests us and then moving on without leaving a comment, they are poorer for it."
    Back in 2006 when I first blogged there was a wonderful community feel, people commented on each other's blogs, we were actually talking to one another and it was good.
    But blogging started to change,it seemed to become more about the number of followers than the conversation and I abandoned it. Several times I've attempted to get back into blogging but somehow it just hasn't worked for me. But I do miss blogging. So I'm giving it one last try with "Lemon Layer Cake", I'd love to get the feel of that "2006" community back.

  31. Dear Brown Paper Packages,
    There is no such thing as a 'humble' blogger! We are all created equal with the same tools - our minds and hearts and the ability to press the Publish button. Perhaps the only difference is that some bloggers have more time at their disposal but from my own experience more time does not always equate to more interesting writing. Thank you for this and for all of your other comments which are always thoughtful and generous.

  32. Dear Paola,
    What would we do without the little blocks of Italian sunshine that arrive in our comment box all the way from Positano? I always feel so fortunate that you join us because you read solely for the pleasure of it and because you enjoy our company - not just mine, the writer, but everyone who shares their ideas in the comment box. I'm not sure I say thank you enough but thank you!

  33. Dear Dilys,
    I love the idea that you read my work out loud. I mainly compose my posts with the look of the page in mind and I never read my writing aloud. In fact it was about a year before I realised that 'the sight of morning' had two meanings if spoken and I felt rather stupid. Thank you for your regular comments - you are right that each comment encourages the writer and, as I admitted in my response to Ali, I need to change the way that I read blogs in order to make time for comments.

  34. Dear Lesley,
    Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I don't pretend to have the answer - but perhaps it is a moment to make choices. If we acknowledge that blogs are written by people 'wanting to share something beyond their own minds and hearts' then we must be more mindful as we read and sensitive to the fact that these writers are laying out their pennies for us to share.

  35. Dear Annie,
    You are part of the wonderful new wave of blogs and I am grateful to you for the time that you commit to supporting other blogs and also for the thoughtful way that you write. As I said to Sue - you find the community to be vibrant because you make it so. Thank you!

  36. Dear Jen,
    Your blog is a celebration of the power of knitting, Perlman lore and a window onto Polish cooking that I would not otherwise have. It is also the Magic Spaniel Kingdom. I miss you when you are not writing although I probably don't tell you often enough. Also I don't heart your knitting on Ravelry because I don't do Ravelry but I hope you won't hold that against me.

  37. Dear Jackie,
    Over the years we have had quite a conversation started by a mutual affection for dachshunds. So much has happened since then to both of us. Your creativity remains the driving force in your blog and it continues to be a space of vivid jewel colours which I am grateful to visit and also for the occasional glimpses of the adorable H. Thank you.

  38. Dear zephyr,
    I can remember being completely amazed when you wrote to me to explain that you had read both of my blogs from the beginning. I am so fortunate to have readers such as yourself who encourage me even when it is difficult to find the words for the things that I want to say. Thank you and thank you for your continued friendship - you are so far away but it reaches me and I am grateful.

  39. Hello Diana - all the way from South Africa! I am glad to meet you and look forward to learning more about your garden in the Cape.

  40. Dear Ellen,
    I am so lucky that I have a reading community of friends who are so diverse. I am always grateful for your insights which are informed by your experience - they are so warm and supportive - thank you! As for your own writing - you must be patient! When you look back you will be delighted that you spent time to capture a memory - so many of these posts are moments that would be forgotten.

  41. Hello Essentially Curious
    thank you for introducing yourself and good luck with the new blog. I hope that you find a community of like-minded blogs to share with and that the fun returns. As Sue and Annie have both said, there is a vibrant community out there if you want to join in.

  42. Right, lovely blogging/reading/commenting folks, I am going to go back to my usual habit of responding by email. I will try to find email addresses for comments that are 'no-reply' but it is not always possible.

    Also, apologies for the word verification thingy, I am afraid that I was being bombarded with spam comments with really objectionable content. The spam filter prevents them from being published but it doesn't stop them from arriving in my email inbox.

    Thanks to you all for your comments on this post and for the conversation that it is has started.

  43. Hmm. I wonder. I think about my own voice and how it has changed. Who I follow - I find that I check in with people less regularly and I comment less because I have more restrictions on my time. I also am striving to do of my own work and I spent a fair bit of my available work time reading others words as a distraction... it is a fine balance.

  44. I must be honest, i very nearly didn't comment on this post, not because it didn't ring true - it's painfully close to home - no that so many others have written my thoughts more clearly than I ever could. I think the fact that I am reading this 5 days after you write it sums it up - I am just out of the habit of blogging, both reading and writing. Much of the time I feel overwhelmed with everyday life, but then that was the same 5 years ago and I managed it then ... I do miss the community that seems now to be disappearing. Food for thought.

  45. The community is indeed disappearing, but I stopped being so active when I commented lots of times on blogs, and never got a response either to my comment or on my own blog or where the reciprocal comment seemed false or contrived. It felt like a one way street - I shared in someone's life but they didn't share mine, so it seemed pointless. No exchange = no relationship. I rarely blog nowadays but it is even more rare that I comment. I do still read all my old favourites from 5 years ago but I have virtually no new favourites.

  46. I am still so struck by this post it is difficult for me to respond. All the thoughtful and articulate comments make it even more challenging. Falling into the group of fallen silent I am at a loss to say why, but I can say I miss writing and sharing very much. Thinking perhaps I have been missed is an inspiring revelation. Thanks Alice, XO

  47. Dear JuliaB
    I have always responded to comments by email because it was the norm when I started blogging. It is a real problem if people such as yourself who leave lovely comments do not include an email address in their Blogger profile because I cannot reply. In these cases I visit the blog to see if I can find an email address but when I visited yours I couldn't find one - this is not unusual because some bloggers choose not to have any contact details on their blogs to preserve their anonymity but I hope that this might explain why you have not had responses to comments that you have left.

  48. I may be one of the bloggers that blogs less frequently because of new challenges. I admit to struggling to find the time, both for writing posts and for visiting my favourites. Structure and routine is key for me, with so few hours to spare. I must do better.

    You are right, the bustling community I crept into back in the Spring of 2008 does not seem to be there now, but this is perhaps because I am absent from it so much. I didn't realise it would be transient and I wish, in a way, that we could recapture it or that somehow we could have realised back then that things would change. Thankyou for capturing my feelings on it so eloquently ALice.

  49. It's an odd thing, blogging, isn't it? I love it, but often have very little that strikes me as interesting or indeed shareable to write about. And commenting is even harder - I read and enjoy so many blogs, and would consider myself a faithful follower of many, but I genuinely fail, again and again, to find anything meaningful to say. And now I feel guilty and neglectful for not commenting more often!

    Will try harder, I promise.....


Thank you! I love reading your comments and even though I don't always have time to reply I am really grateful to every one who joins in the conversation.