Prospect and Retrospect 16/17

They say the older you get, the faster time passes, and by the time you’re eighty you’re having breakfast every five minutes. (Any octogenarians out there like to confirm or deny?) It appears to me that by the time you’re thirty, you’re looking at the year in review every few months.

It’s behind me, isn’t it?

A year ago I had 2015 laid out on a page, and rather depressing viewing it was. I expected the same from 2016, given how disrupted it felt, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d thought. Quite.

A quick note on how the analysis works: each day gets one cell in the spreadsheet, which mentions one thing I did. So if it says ‘blog’ it means I worked on my blog, but not my WIP, though I may have done other things as well. It’s a subtle hierarchy of achievement.

Of the 366 days with which we were blessed in 2016, I actually spent 112 days working on the WIP rewrite in some way, shape or form. A lot of it felt guiltily like time-wasting when I looked back from a short distance, but months later, I can see that that was the time that the story most changed form, from the first draft to the second.

Acraea zetes caterpillar to pupae to butterfly metamorphosis by Nick Hobgood
On at least 62 days I worked on blog posts. Writing a puppet play was my sole occupation for one day; another was devoted to writing a newsletter for family and friends, and two days I worked solely on a sermon (for this coming Sunday). There was also one day I focussed on a book about writing (The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke), which I shall charitably include in the writing tally. Ditto the three days I pondered whether to do a sort-of NaNoWriMo, decided I would, and prepared accordingly.

By my count, that’s 182 days spent on writing in one way or another – almost exactly half the year. (Though, rather depressingly, 17 fewer than last year.) So where did the other half of the year go?

Leaving aside the 52 Sundays and concentrating on the remaining 132 days, it is easy to see where a lot of them went. The big distraction of the year was housing: trying to buy a house, buying a house, working on the house (toxic linoleum, anyone?) and finally moving house, unpacking and settling in.

I'll be back..........!
There are 38 cells marked ‘house’ in the spreadsheet, and 22 marked house which was my attempt to make up for the big empty space around moving day when I didn’t make any notes at all. I may have done some writing work, I may have done nothing but lie on the couch and read Agatha Christie, we’ll never know. The presumption is that I was working on making the house habitable, since when we arrived you couldn’t see from one end of the living room to the other, let alone walk across it, and it is now entirely habitable.

Plus one ‘moving day’ makes 61 days spent on house-related things. But wait – there’s more! There were also ten days of Grand Purge in February, four days marked ‘housework’ and one marked ‘garden’ – the day we pruned the apple-tree. That makes a total of 76, leaving a mere 56 to be accounted for. (Mere! That’s over nine working weeks we’re talking about there…)

I had ten health days; all, with the exception of a visit to the dentist, between the 15th and the 21st of their respective months. Obviously that is the week to get sick (or go for eye check-ups). I also took three days in bed (half last year’s total) and a rest day. 14 in this section, leaving 42.

Frederico Maldarelli Schlafende
Seven days were marked ‘guests’; three were used for planning of various sorts; travelling or being away occupied eight (a third of last year’s tally). Eighteen, leaving twenty-four.

The largest section of the remainder, is, I’m afraid, blank – eight days on which I failed to record what I did, and therefore can’t count for either woe or weal. Five days were devoted to handwork, two to reproofing an oilskin coat. Fifteen, leaving nine.

Nine one-offs.

Five were in January: the day when we pray through the year ahead; the day we charge through the ensuing one-off to do list; the day I got my fountain pens cleaned and refilled with the appropriate inks for the coming work; the day I analyzed 2015; and the day I made plum sauce (ripe fruit waits for no man).

The remaining four were: a day when I got a lot of exercise but didn’t have energy for anything else after that (exercise is energizing, but only in the right proportions); the day I disassembled and cleaned my typewriter; Good Friday, and our fifth wedding anniversary.

It's all about love
Fewer writing days, yes, but also fewer sick/rest days, fewer travel days, and fewer holidays. Also – and I feel this is important – fewer blank days, even if I count the house days as blank.

Shows improvement, in fact, but Could Do Better – particularly if we don’t have to move house again this year (ohdearGodpleaseno). And now that I’ve done my PseuDoNaNo, I know what I am capable of, although I don’t think I could keep that pace up year-round. Not without a permanent cook-general.

If you recall, 2015 was my Year of Finishing Things, during which I not only finished things, but grew to regard finishing things as a natural outcome of starting them. 2016 was my Year of Trust, and I think I have made progress in that respect. No doubt I still have further to go, but I find I am less anxious than I used to be, which is a welcome change.

2017 is my Year of Persistence. I know what I need to do. I just need to keep doing it. Some unknown person once said (or wrote), “Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s little nut that held its ground.”

I am a little nut (ask my husband if you don’t believe me), and this year, I’m going to hold my ground, put down roots, and – hopefully! – thrive.

Search Terms of 2016

It is always interesting to find out what people were actually looking for when they found this blog. Happily, WordPress lets me indulge this curiosity by giving me a list. Let us delve, therefore, into the strange and murky depths of the catalogue.

2011 Library of Congress USA 5466788868 card catalog86 searches were simply for ‘deborah makarios’ – hello, Google-stalkers! It always helps if you know what you are looking for in this life, and since I’m about the only Deborah Makarios in these here interwebs, I flatter myself that these 86 searches at least, got where they intended to go. (Be careful what you wish for.)

Handwork formed something of a theme among the more common searches. Nine were for variations on ‘what do I use instead of a darning egg?’ Eight would have found their answer here; the ninth, who wanted to know how to make one, probably went empty away. (Ideas?)

Six searches came to roost on my review of the Karnation needles, though whether they were looking for a review or the needles themselves, I couldn’t say. The needles, you may be interested to hear, are still going strong; I’ve even managed to get the 16-inch cord to work.

One searcher wondered ‘how to make a nightgown out of a sheet’ – like this one. The two searches for ‘deborah makarios jabberwocky patterns’ knew exactly what they wanted – and got it – and so, I suspect, did the person searching for ‘fantastical taxedermy’. This would be a bit much of a coincidence if not.

Unlucky Jackalope 4891624513Eight searchers were puzzling over the meaning of wearing a padlock around the neck, including one who asked if it was offensive (I hope not), one who asked what it means when a man wears one (no idea), and one who simply search for ‘a padlock’ and who may or may not have been startled at what they fished up. Incidentally, while the description of the padlock says it has a brass hasp, the reality is that it has a brass-coloured hasp. Or rather, had. Now it’s just plain steel.

Three searchers were looking for the Shakespeare mask – by which I presume they mean the Guy Fawkes/V for Vendetta/Anonymous mask as shown here. Another three were looking for floor-scrubbing, and found their way to the post in question alongside a couple of searchers who seemed to be looking for the first picture therein.

Then there were the search terms I flatly fail to understand: two searches for ‘makarios shine’ (I don’t think I do), and one for ‘the magic tea and books image’. Sounds fun – I wonder if they found it. Also ‘figure skating spins’ which I’m pretty sure I’ve never mentioned. Until now.

Yukari Nakano donut2Then there were those – always dear to my heart – in search of eccentricity: ‘how eccentric am i’ asked one, and was promptly provided with a helpful assessment tool. Another was looking for ‘suitably eccentric,’ and I certainly hope they found it here. One searcher wanted ‘reasons for being odd one out’ – though if they were hoping for explanation rather than motivation, they may have been disappointed.

One looked for ‘wizards in english literature’ – a popular post; I think people enjoy having lists of things. I am still embarrassed about changing the title from ‘favourite wizards’ to ‘great wizards’ only to realize, after I’d posted it, that one definitely qualified only for the former category, as I’m the only one who’s ever encountered him.

One searched for ‘nightmares mining’ – one of my earliest posts. Another searched for ‘honoria plum’ – she’s over here; Wodehouse fans take a look. One poor soul searched for ‘pretending lazy husband’ – mine isn’t. Others searched for help with procrastination (try here and here), or getting out of bed (see previous), or a secret identity name generator (this post might have what you’re looking for).

Rh Louise Crawford22
Other odds and ends include Agamemnon’s bath (here, with a lot of other bathers); ‘god is working his purpose out nicholas nickleby’ – a good song, it’s by Arthur Campbell Ainger; ‘women signature fountain pen ink color’ – mine is Havana Brown; ‘makarios sex’ – none of your business; and ‘connotation of virtue’ – a question which is still waiting for an answer, so feel free to add one.

And then of course there are the 546 search terms designated as ‘unknown’!

What search term first brought you here? And if you’re a blogger yourself, what are the highlights from your search term list?

The Best of 2016

What a year, eh? But let us overlook (for now) some of the more disheartening things that have happened this year, and remember some of the good things.

The Birthday Mascot (2434877343)What, in your expert opinion, has been the best thing about 2016? Doesn’t have to be world-sized, it could just be something good that happened to you. Let’s hear the highlights!