Empty in the middle

My six-year blogiversary was this past Sunday: it’s been six years and two days since I posted my very first blog entry on December 27, 2003. This gives me an excuse to share my annual retrospective of the past year in blog-posts, loosely organized into categories.

Life as Lorianne

This past year was personally monumental in several senses. I turned 40 this past January, an occasion I commemorated in The Big 4-0. The year 2009 also marked the five year anniversary of my separation and divorce, a milestone I revisited in posts such as Retrospect and Bella Vita.

Under the bridge

Although the daily format of blogging provides an excellent platform for keeping track of one’s mundane life, it also provides an excuse for looking back and taking stock of what one has learned over the years, something I did in posts such as Manjushri’s sword, Water under the bridge, and Checking in. There’s nothing like the death of a dear friend to make you take even deeper stock of your life, and I did so in No words and Wealth.

Not all the personal milestones in 2009 were so somber, though. In Recipe, for instance, I describe a wonderful meal a friend and I enjoyed on the occasion of her “forty-something” birthday.

Posts about Zen:

My meditation practice provides a perpetual source of blog fodder: if nothing else, sitting quietly and following your breath provides ample evidence of the boundless fecundity of your own thinking mind.

Dharma room sunbeam

In Meditation, I struggled with the question of how to illustrate my Zen practice in response to a Photo Friday prompt; in A silent place, I tried to describe, as best I could, the indescribable “place” that meditation takes you after you’ve been practicing a while. In The wisdom of mist, I returned to this idea that meditation changes you over time by considering the way a fine but constant drizzle (like those we had through much of the month of June) soaks you just as surely as steady rain, and in I stand as nigh, I shared some insights inspired by a sidewalk inscription I observed one Sunday morning before arriving for mid-morning practice at the Cambridge Zen Center. And in The replacements, I contemplated the Zen truism that “impermanence surrounds us.”

Writing

Moleskine

Like my Zen practice, my daily practice of keeping a journal fuels my blogging. In Take note and Morning routine , I describe my daily ritual of writing in my Moleskine notebook, and in Riding the waves I describe how I’ve learned not to skip these pages on days that are busy. In Purely prosaic, I talk about how journal-keeping feeds my blogging, and in The bright side, I describe how daily blogging changes the way I look at my own life. Finally, in Just breathe I described the preparations I made before presenting several of my blog-essays at a public reading with a half-dozen of my Keene State teaching colleagues.

Birds and birding

I’ve been bird-watching since I was 12 years old, so it makes sense that I’d occasionally reference birds and birding on my blog. In Extreme closeup, for instance, I describe a wild duck chase involving a Eurasian teal at Newton’s Cold Spring Park, and in Saturday at the cemetery, I describe the hoopla caused by a pair of red-tailed hawks sunning themselves on the tower at Cambridge’s Mount Auburn Cemetery. In Fair and fowl, I once again go birdwatching in a cemetery: this time in Newton Cemetery on Thanksgiving Day.

Mallard drake

In Heads up, I talk about the birds you can see even in the suburbs if you simply look up, and in Picture perfect, I narrate a trip with my family to Pickerington Ponds in central Ohio, a place I birded often when I was a teenager. In Flyby, J and I watch birds and planes at Belle Isle Marsh in East Boston, and in Of frost and pheasants, I’m startled to see a well-camouflaged pheasant on a morning dog-walk in Keene.

Sometimes birds are just birds, and sometimes birds represent something else. In Plenty, the endless flocks of migrating blackbirds I remember from my Ohio childhood serve as a metaphor for infinite creativity, and in Dreaming of Birds, the strange and exotic birds I occasionally see in my dreams are as elusive and unidentifiable as any mystery.

Sports

Waiting for the puck to drop

This year as in past years, J and I went to a lot of sporting events with cameras in hand, on a perpetual hunt for blog-worthy moments. In Freeze-frame, I explain my interest in hockey by describing my continued quest to photograph a puck in mid-drop. In Are you ready for some football and The beautiful game, I explain several of the reasons J and I have recently become soccer fans while Three tells why I’ve always loved basketball.

In The winners, J and I take a walk down the street to watch runners in the Boston Marathon, and in To the nines and Eyes, we travel all the way to Atlanta to see the Red Sox play the Braves.

Good walks remembered

Bumble bee on purple coneflower

They say that golf is a good walk ruined, but I’ve found that walking with an eye toward the bloggable actually enhances one’s perambulations, with some of the best pedestrian discoveries happening almost by accident.

In Unwind, September stride, and Leave your mind alone, for instance, I describe the dog-walks I rely upon to help me relax at the end of a long teaching day. In To make a prairie, Serendipitous, and Gossamer, I’m surprised to discover photogenic insects and arachnids, and in A place like this, The lesson of leaves, and Gone to seed, plants are the ones providing photogenic (and lesson-worthy) blog-fodder.

Art and culture

Art is a perennial source of inspiration in both my writing and blogging. In some cases, I use photographs of artwork to illustrate blog-posts about entirely different things, as is true with Dreamtime, which uses photos from Ugo Rondinone’s Clockwork for Oracles at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art to illustrate a post about the nightmares I often have before the start of a new semester. In other cases, though, I talk about art more explicitly.

Pine Sharks

In Metal, for instance, I use the occasion of a Photo Friday prompt to share photographs of my favorite installation at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts. In The sands of time, I consider a far more ephemeral medium–sand sculpture–as a metaphor for aging, and in Paper thick, the occasion of a New York City art show inspires a meditation on image and fashion. In Drawn from nature, my own nature journal sketches are the subject of scrutiny, and in Everyday use, an exhibit of art quilts leaves me wondering whether Art is the highest use an object can have.

Sounds good!

Nose in a book

At the start of 2009, in a post titled Books for free, I talked about my lifelong fondness for public libraries and my more recent appreciation for digital audiobooks. Also in January, I committed to an audiobook challenge whereby I would blog reviews for 12 audiobooks before the end of the year.

The year ends on Thursday, and I’ve blogged only two audiobook reviews even though I have listened to the full dozen books I’d committed to. Perhaps sometime before New Year’s Day, I’ll take the time to tell you about the ten other books I listened to this year, but in the meantime, I’m proud of the two reviews I did post: Where the heart is, which focuses on Marilynne Robinson’s Home, and As she lay dying, which reviews Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.

And so another blog-year turns just in time for another New Year, and as always, who knows what blog-worthy moments 2010 will bring.

Faithful to the spirit of retrospection, today’s photos are recycled from the various blog-posts that made the year-end cut. If you want to review previous blogiversary posts, you can find them here (2008), here (2007), here (2006), here (2005), and here (2004). Enjoy!