Somehow, this picture of the proverbial chicken crossing the road, which I blogged in February, strikes me as being the quintessential WTF moment here at Hoarded Ordinaries this past year. In a world where beer is Buddhist-flavored and even fences wear glasses, why not ponder the eternal question about pedestrian poultry?
This past Saturday marked my fifth blogiversary: yes, it’s been five years since I posted my first tentative blog entry on December 27, 2003. On (or soon after) past blogiversaries, I’ve compiled a post that looks back on the previous year’s bloggish goodness: an annual excuse for me to re-visit my own archive. For my first few blogiversary posts, I chose my favorite five or so posts to link to, but last year I chose to link to a whole slew of posts in a variety of categories, figuring readers could pick and choose their own favorites. So in the spirit of last year’s blogiversary post, here is a montage of the past year.
Be a good sport
It’s a simple fact I’m well aware of: I like to watch sports, and most of my readers do not. When I go to sporting events, I take lots of pictures, which leaves me with a bloggish conundrum: should I force these photos on readers who probably don’t care, or should I leave them to gather digital-dust on my hard-drive?
This past year, I’ve settled on a kind of compromise: talking about sports on-blog is perfectly fine as long as the sport at hand is somehow a metaphor for something else. So what you’ll find under the “Good sports” category here at Hoarded Ordinaries isn’t your usual sports-bar conversation; instead, you’ll hear what I’d like to think is a slightly more highbrow view of basketball, hockey, and the like.
Thus in “Emotions,” I argued that watching a good game is as cathartic as watching a good drama. In “Fighting words,” I compared a red-blooded hockey fight to the controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s public distancing of himself from his then-pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In “Girls who wear glasses,” I described the hockey film “Slap-Shot” as a metaphor for working class responses to economic emasculation. And in “Up against it,” “Where happy endings happen,” and “Unimaginable,” I used images from my favorite sport (basketball) to illustrate how our daily lives are really just a game.
Zen and the Art of Graffiti
The categories of “Zen” and “Graffiti” might not seem to go together…but since I almost always take a stroll down Central Square’s graffiti-rich Modica Way on my way to the Cambridge Zen Center, my posts about Zen tend to be illustrated with pictures of graffiti and my posts about graffiti tend to carry more than a touch of Zen.
My first attempt to link the phenomena of meditation and street art was “Random,” where I suggest the lawless nature of graffiti makes it as unpredictable as the spontaneous thoughts that pop into mind while you meditate. In “Art,” I explore the classic question of whether graffiti qualifies as highbrow culture, and in “Not-quite-busted,” I describe my experience photographing Modica Way on a morning when one Cambridge cop was looking for breakfast. This theme of police on patrol influenced “On the beat,” where I compare meditation to the act of reconnoitering a familiar neighborhood, and both “While you can” and “Scrambling” admit how difficult it can be to find the time to pay mindful attention when the rest of life is tugging at one’s sleeve. Somehow, amidst life’s clutter and color, we find time to do the things we simply can’t live without.
Light and dark; life and death
Some five years after this bloggish experiment began, I still am obsessed by many of the same themes that captivated me early on. One of my first posts, for instance, focused on particular quality of late afternoon light as it illuminates winter skies, and this early fascination with light and shadow hasn’t diminished. In “Eclipsed,” I describe how I mostly missed a lunar eclipse only to revel in the shadows cast by low-angled light the next morning. In “Made in the shade,” I began collecting a new phenomenon: twiggy shadows I dubbed “shade trees” and which I blogged again (just recently) in “All clear.” And in “Alien oddity,” “Take me to your heater,” and “Straight from the (Holy) Mothership,” I continued to collect the weird window reflections I call “alien eyes.”
Like sports, shadows are often metaphoric. Whenever I write about light, I have in mind the idea that light is finite and thus can be spent. In my mind, light is always a symbol of time, time always calls to mind time’s passage, and an awareness of time’s passage always points toward impermanence. So to my way of seeing, light is like life and shadow like death, with both light and shadow reminding us to pay attention, for these pyrotechnics won’t last forever.
With all this in mind, in “Memento mori” I described the unsettling sensation of stumbling on a grave with my (sur)name on it, and in “Not the rainbow bridge,” I talked about learning to live with an aging (but not yet dying) dog. And in “Without ceasing,” I return to the theme of impermanence–illustrated with images of light and shadow–in response to a fatal MBTA trolley accident that happened not far from J’s house this past May.
The art of blogging, or the blogging of art
Lest you think street art is the only “art” I partake in these days, I did manage to blog several otherwise artsy things this past year. In “Tableau,” I described the accidental (but nevertheless artful) juxtaposition of unrelated artworks at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. In “We meet again,” I had another accidental art encounter, this time with a monumental metal spider along the San Francisco waterfront. And in “I’m feeling…,” I used the occasion of an apt Photo Friday theme as an excuse to blog several encounters with Boston artist Bren Bataclan, with whose paths my own repeatedly cross.
If blogging is itself an art, then I’ve had some stuff to say about that this year, too. In “The wheres and the whys,” I explore (again!) the question of why I blog about the places I find myself. In “Just a note,” I announced the desire to return to more frequent blogging (conveniently timed for November’s National Blog Posting Month), and in “The art of inside,” I gave a status update on how that more frequent blogging was working for me. (In a word, I like to blog often if not early, at least when my schedule allows it.)
State of the nation
I seldom blog about politics per se…but inspired (I think) by this year’s historic Presidential election, I did (briefly) crawl out of my patriotic shell this past November. In “Here’s hoping,” I described the scene at my neighborhood polling place on Election Day, and in “The mornings after,” I described what it’s like (after the fact) to live in New Hampshire during a Presidential campaign. In “Passing the Bataan,” I used the occasion of Veteran’s Day to post (and of course ponder) some images from a Navy amphibious assault ship J and I had toured last summer.
And in a year when the U.S. economy has been direly hurting, its seems that frugality is finally stylish. By way of determining, then, that I am (at long last) a trend-setter, take a second look at “Economic stimulus,” “Not a thing to wear,” and “Food,” all of which insist that contentment and self-worth aren’t things you buy but attitudes you can (cheaply) cultivate.
So that is Hoarded Ordinaries past year in a nutshell: heaven knows what blog-fodder 2009 will bring.