I’m going through what can only be called a life crisis. Looking at my stats this morning I saw in that funny place called search engines, two separate entries, one saying ‘Valerie Davies died abroad’, and the other ‘Valerie Davies dies abroad’.
I tried to click on it to find out more about my death, feeling somewhat as Mark Twain must have done when he said that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated.
But it won’t let me click, so perhaps – since I feel very much alive – I’m in that place called limbo, where I gather, we spend some time reviewing our lives and our mistakes and our decisions.
This feels quite a familiar place to me, having spent or wasted quite a chunk of my life reviewing my decisions, and regretting my mistakes, and now I’m doing it in Bloggerland.
It’s four months since in blissful ignorance, I posted the first blog. If I’d read any blogs first, I might have started differently, but since I knew no better, when my friendly printer said he’d got my blog ready, and now all I had to do was to write, I believed him. Four months later, having worked my way through the most obvious Blogger Complexes, I’m now swimming in deeper waters.
Yes, there is that Bloggers Delight, when a reader writes a comment that blows your socks off with its intelligence, perception, kindness or goodness. There is also the Bloggers Delight of discovering a blog that sings to you, so you click the follow button without more ado. This can happen with both photos and the written word.
Then there are the Bloggers Friendships, when a select group of like minds read your blogs regularly, and leave comments that range from encouraging to loving – a unique form of friendship, in which goodness and mercy float across the aether, blessing him that gives and him that takes.
Bloggers Dilemma is the apparent randomness of whether a post is successful or not. The blogger writes a post, anticipating a nice spike in the stats, wall to wall ‘likes’ or a rash of interested comments, only to find a flat plateau, and few ‘likes’, and nothing much in comments. This leads to Bloggers Heart-searching: was it too long? Was it too short? Why didn’t they like it? Am I writing too often? Am I writing enough? Longer or shorter gaps? Should I take it off now, or leave it a little longer?
In its most extreme form, this Bloggers Angst is likely to deteriorate into Bloggers Breast-beating: am I a bore? Do I kid myself in thinking that what I have to say is interesting? Am I old hat? Am I irrelevant? Was it a mistake? Should I stop blogging and get myself a life again?
Looking on the bright side of things is Bloggers Fancy, the logical conclusion of that wonderful hobby of Blog Hopping. Browsing through a blog and its comments, the wit, intelligence or humanity of a comment invites you to trace that blogger, and having found her and read her stuff, finding another like minded comment, jumping to that blog, scattering ‘likes’ and ‘follow’ with gay abandon. Which means that when one of these bloggees asks how you found him or her, you have no idea by what zig-zag path you got to them.
Bloggers Fancy can thus trigger a certain amount of over-indulgence, which begins to add up to Bloggers Burden. This is when the blogger opens her e-mails and finds dozens and dozens of tantalising titles, subjects and topics, all must- reads, all demanding her attention, and too little time on her hands.
Suddenly meals arrive late, ironing piles up, business gets pushed aside, weeding is forgotten, books are unread, nights get later. This is the stage when blogging slides from a Bloggers Hobby to a Bloggers Complex, before flowering into a full blown Bloggers Addiction.
And this is when we become defensive about the amount of time we spend on the computer. We hastily switch off when partners come into the room, pretending we’ve just been reading a book, or checking something. We find ourselves making meals a little more ordinary, no time to spend slaving over a hot stove any more, whipping up some fresh mayonnaise or concocting a tasty rice dish.
Pasta becomes popular, as it’s quicker to cook than potatoes when we’ve forgotten the time. Saucepans get burned as we slip away to the computer to catch up on just a few more blogs, while the eggs boil, or the soup heats up, or the potatoes cook. Sometime later the soup is stuck to the bottom of the pan, the boiled eggs are hard as cannonballs and about to explode in an empty smoking saucepan, and the potatoes are an un-mashable soggy disintegrating pulp.
This is the dark side of blogging! There are also Bloggers Challenges. I inadvertently stumbled into an impassioned defence of guns between a macho group of far right extremists, who all agreed that Jefferson had said they could all carry guns and defend themselves, rather than that he meant they could carry guns to defend their homeland. The Challenge was to move on before becoming either depressed or dismayed by an alien culture. There are, I discover, plenty of alien cultures in Bloggerland.
But the Challenge is a necessary stage of the Bloggers Rite of Passage, when we discover that though we all share the same planet, we actually live in different worlds. Bloggers Challenge then, is to find our own world. And the funny thing is, since birds of a feather actually do flock together, we do all find our own community of kindred souls. Not quite heaven on earth, but better than limbo. And it’s called Bloggers Blessing.
Food for Threadbare Gourmets
While still plying my husband with steak and the like, I’ve given up eating meat myself in the hope of easing my arthritic hands, having tried everything else, like giving up sugar and giving up carbohydrates. Still eschewing the sugar, and hoping that the meatless regime will help. So this is one of the delicious non-meat dishes I’m enjoying.
It’s an Indonesian dish called Sambel Goreng Telor, which means eggs in coconut milk, and though it may not sound very promising, it’s actually delicious (and cheap).
This recipe is for four eggs. I use two, but still make the same amount of sauce. While the eggs are hard boiling,( and no clandestine checking of blogs) finely slice an onion, a large clove of garlic, a tomato and a red pepper. Fry the onion and when it’s beginning to soften, add the garlic, tomato, pepper, some salt and some sugar to taste, and continue to cook. Lastly add half a cup (I use a bit more) of coconut milk, and finish cooking. Slice the eggs in half and pour the sauce over. Serve with rice.
This recipe was adapted for westerners. I think that the original recipe would have used palm sugar rather than sugar – it also specified a tablespoon of sugar – this seemed a lot to me, and I used less.
Food for Thought
I love the juxtaposition of serious and ridiculous, so this parody of Kipling by Catholic priest and English writer Ronald Knox 1888 – 1957 just fits the bill:
The tumult and the shouting dies,
The captains and the kings depart,
And we are left with large supplies
Of cold blancmange and rhubarb tart