One of the cool things about starting a blog a few days after Christmas is you get to do your annual blogiversary post around the time that everyone else is doing their year-end retrospectives. I started blogging at Hoarded Ordinaries on December 27, 2003, which means my blog-birthday was last Tuesday. Following the tradition of past years, here is a look back on the past year in blog-posts, now that Hoarded Ordinaries is eight years and several days old.

Soft focus

Just keep doing it

When I first started blogging, I tried to post every day; more recently, though, my posting has been less frequent. Now that I post photos to Flickr and quick jots and tittles to Facebook and Twitter, I typically save my blog for more substantial pieces, which means I tend to post about once or twice a week. There have been two exceptions to that in 2011, however. Last January, I participated in the “River of Stones” daily posting practice and thus shared a photo and short observation every day, a practice I plan to continue this January. And this past November, I participated in National Blog Posting Month by posting at least a photo every day.


Momentous milestones

This past year marked the end of an era as Osama bin Laden was killed, an event I reflected upon in a post titled “At last.” This past year also marked a significant milestone on the ten year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, which I remembered in a May post titled “Memorial” and a September post titled “Sunday on the Charles.” On a more personal level, this past May I moved out of my apartment in Keene, an experience I chronicled in “Moving On” and “Unbound.”


How fragile we are

The theme of mortality is a continual undercurrent here at Hoarded Ordinaries; as a Buddhist, I’m perpetually mindful of impermanence and the fleeting nature of the present moment. This realization of the precious fragility of sentient life is illustrated in “There will come soft rains,” which I wrote in response to the spring earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan, and this same theme echoes throughout “When you live with an old dog,” which chronicles Reggie’s recent decline into old age. In September, a storm that knocked down countless limbs in our neighborhood inspired me to reflect on mortality in “Left hanging,” and earlier this month, a bit of graffiti reminding us that we’re “still gonna die” gave me a bit of “Perspective.”


Art and Writing

I started Hoarded Ordinaries because I wanted a forum to showcase my writing; very quickly, however, this blog became a place where I marry word and image. Because of that ongoing focus, it should come as no surprise that I wrote about both art and writing in 2011. This past summer, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts featured an exhibit of works by Dale Chihuly, which I blogged in both “Enormous” and “A thousand flowers.” (I never did get around to finishing a promised follow-up post about Chihuly’s “Ikebana Boat,” however.) In “Two views,” I blogged about an afternoon spent sketching with a friend; in “Returning,” I talked about the courage it takes to revise a piece of writing; and in “Completion,” I recounted the lessons I learned from writing 50,000 words of nonfiction during November’s National Novel Writing Month.

Traveling a great deal in Boston

Although J and I traveled to Los Angeles and Seattle in August, I didn’t blog our vacation. Instead, I wrote various posts inspired by day-trips J and made in and around Boston. In “Run like the wind,” we watched the Boston Marathon from a vantage point within walking distance from our house. In “Time upon time,” we visited an archeology exhibit at Boston College, and in “Between the lions,” we visited a Civil War exhibit at the main branch of the Boston Public Library. Finally, in “One picture” I shared (yes) one image from a walk in South Boston.

Self-portrait with green mannequin

Inspiring reads

As a college writing and literature instructor, I spend a lot of time reading student papers, so any time I’m able to devote to pleasure reading is precious. Although I didn’t blog any full-length book reviews in 2011, I did write several posts that were inspired by books I was reading at the time. “Remembered landscapes,” for instance, is a meditation on walking and place inspired in part by Teju Cole’s Open City. “In sickness and in health” was my response to Diane Ackerman’s recent book about her husband’s recovery from a stroke, One Hundred Names for Love, and my Christmas Eve post, “Christmas Finches,” was inspired in part by an earlier Ackerman book, A Slender Thread, which describes her experience working for a suicide prevention hotline.

So that is the year that was here at Hoarded Ordinaries; who knows what the next year will bring, blog- or otherwise. Here’s hoping 2012 will be happy, healthy, and hopeful for us all.

The photos illustrating today’s belated blogiversary post feature the mannequins from the Great Eastern Trading Company in Central Square, Cambridge, both past and present.