Blog burnout.

Boogie Pants isn’t burning me out because I don’t post enough for that to even happen.  That would be a good problem, maybe.

Nope, everybody else’s blogs are burning me out.  There really are too many and they tend to run into each other theme-wise. They have me wondering why I even keep this fellow Boogie Pants alive.  I just read a blog post on rebranding and monetization and sponsors and GOOD GRIEF THAT ALL SOUNDS LIKE A NIGHTMARE.  What do bloggers really want?  Fame? Readers? An income? How many more people can write about healthy cooking, fit pregnancy, DIY and parenting without burning us all out?

Why even keep Boogie Pants alive? It’s aimless and meandering and I hardly ever post anything that I really like.

For example, I wrote a draft yesterday about my nightmare drive during yesterday’s snow event and how my Nokian studded tires kicked ass. I wrote how I faced my fear of driving  on untreated snowy mountain roads  in the dark while it’s still snowing because I had no choice but to pick the girls up from school and get us all home.  Then, when I proofread the post, all I could think was, well, shit, that’s boring. Vermonters do this every day.  They drive in the mountains in the dark in the  snow because they need to get their kids and they do not make a deal of it.

Why should I make a deal of it, then?  I had no answer, so didn’t post because then it all seemed silly and trivial and quite shallow. It would be nice to write material that is somewhat more substantial than how much I love my studded snow tires.

But now, as write THIS post, I’m thinking, well, driving in snow like that was new to me. With some thought, that bit alone could be worth writing about, so for now I’ll leave my snow  driving draft where it is and think about putting it up later.   Seriously, though, why do bloggers blog and as long as I’m asking, why is the word “blog” even a word?

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron

Thanksgiving snow Danby

When we lived in Maryland years ago, every winter, right after Christmas, melancholy slipped into our house unannounced and definitely uninvited. It draped itself over me, an annoying, itchy shawl.  Once there, gloom dug in like a briar, refusing to leave until months later when the first crocus peeked through the grass.  I didn’t understand why I had these blues; all I knew for sure was that as soon as spring came, this seasonal cloud of melancholy lifted and stayed away until the next winter.

I felt really victim-y and off-track during those first grey winters. Feeling so glum ticked me off and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. This book, Winter Blues, found its way to me. I didn’t even get past the introduction when it all suddenly made sense.  My unofficial but spot-on self diagnosis? Seasonal Affective Disorder. I bought myself a light box, booked a Christmas trip to Florida instead of New England, and did my best to take control of those winter blues. This investment seemed to do the trick for the remainder of our time in Maryland.  I quickly saw results from the lightbox; after a few weeks of intense exposure, everything lifted just a bit and winter felt more manageable.

fireplace in danby

When we moved to Vermont for the first time, in 2001, I was worried that with the long winters, the Green Mountain State would not bode well for my SAD.  The surprising thing is that this didn’t happen.  In Vermont, once the snow comes, it stays. The ground is light and white and people get out and move in the world because they have to. We bundled up and did stuff outside and made ourselves embrace winter.  We didn’t hibernate, we didn’t let the hazardous weather scare us or get us down, and as a result, I found that winters in Vermont were indeed much easier than winters in Maryland. And now, we’re back in Vermont for a second time, after ten years in southern Ohio, where the weather is similar to Maryland, and I’m ready for it.

Today the weather is rotten.  It snowed a little bit last night, but now we’ve got sleet and are under a winter weather advisory.  We live at the end of a long dirt driveway off a long dirt road, but we have to get out and go and drive and do stuff every day.  I can’t afford to be nervous about it. I’ve got four studded Hakks, a cord of firewood, and my lightbox set permanently to ON.

Victim = out, Heroine = in.

snow from driveway


Holy procrastination, Batman.

You have no idea how many times since May I have started a new post and just given up.  I wouldn’t even have any idea except that my dashboard is filled with automatically saved drafts, daring me to revisit, revise, to simply pay attention to them.

For lack of anything else to post, here’s what I’ve got:

From May 8, 2013:

It’s been 31 hours since the family left for a 3 day/2 night trip to visit family in Maryland.  I had some high hopes for my alone time.  Here’s the list I made yesterday:

  • dishes
  • clear coffee table
  • write 3 articles
  • gather trash and recycling for Thursday a.m. pickup
  • Take a few loads to New to You, the only thrift shop in town that allows after hours drop off.
  • clean C’s room
  • clean front hallway
  • sew

Here’s what I’ve done from the list so far:

  • dishes
  • clear coffee table
  • write 3 articles
  • start gathering trash and recycling
  • start putting stuff in bags to take to New to You
  • start cleaning C’s room

Here’s what I’ve done that not on the list

  • eat frozen pizza
  • eat Thin Mints (not sharing how many)
  • drink wine
  • get an amazing cut and color at Station Street
  • make a new friend

August 25, 2013

Huge family changes are underway and whenever this happens I attempt to write about it, but the many words inside me feel like they are trying to escape from behind a locked door. I can barely get started. This year is going to be a transition year – a big one.  The girls and I will be spending the school year in Vermont so they can go to school, while Aaron stays in Ohio for now and works towards joining us as soon as possible.  There will be lots of visits, mostly from him to us since we’ll be locked into an academic year schedule and won’t be as flexible.  We have a place to live, the girls are almost set up in their wonderful (we hope) new schools, and I’m looking, for the first time in years, at full days to myself.  This is something I am really looking forward to but also a little nervous about.  It will be really strange not having Anna around all day like she’s been for the past three years.  We’ll need to pack lunches.  There will be homework and catching buses.

I cannot even begin to explain this past summer.  Every day was a moving target.  We put 10K+ miles on our van.  Anna spent a month in Germany with a youth orchestra.  We spent a lovely but super hot week in Slaughter Beach, Delaware with Aaron’s extended family.  My brother and his wife welcomed their first baby. Nine family members ages 4-73 spent a week in Prague for my host sister’s wedding. We drove from Ohio to Michigan to Vermont to Washington DC to Maryland to Delaware to Ohio back to Michigan to Vermont to New York City flew to Prague and back then to Ohio then to Vermont.  And now, suddenly, the girls start their new schools this week. I have handled the summer in a pretty calm and cool fashion, but then last night it got to me just a little bit how fast this all happened.

September 11, 2013

How did that happen? That I last posted on May 2?  It was that kind of summer.  On May 2, we were calmly and rather mundanely living in Ohio, looking ahead with equal parts excitement and anxiety at the months to come.  Now, on September 10, we’re on the other side of all that.  We’ve welcomed a nephew to the family, taken a family trip to a wedding in Prague, sent our darling Anna to Germany with a youth orchestra for four weeks, spent a hot week in Delaware at a lovely but sweaty family reunion, and, well, moved to Vermont. Around the end of July, we decided to move forward with the plans we’d previously thought of tabling for a year and we enrolled Anna as a 10th grader at the Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont.

I’m still processing everything that led up to this, and there are certainly thousands of words wanting to be released.  For now, though, they’re all stewing in my head.  I’ve been debating whether or not to start a spinoff blog called something like “The Dutch Hill Diaries” or “The Danby Diary” (this is where we live) but,, as always, I struggle with how to start.

For now, though, I’ve got some pictures, and they’re lovely.  And since both girls are in school and A is holding down the fort back in Ohio, I have the days to myself.  Whether or not I use them to write is all up to me.

In the meantime, pictures.

September 19, 2013


Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

We spend as much time as possible every summer at our simple, small cottage on an uncrowded Vermont lake.  We never forget how blessed we are to have this place to call our home, and we try hard not to take for granted the easy access to such natural beauty and still waters. Whenever I look closely at this picture, it changes.  One moment, it’s what it is: a raft on the water.  The next moment, if I don’t blink, it’s a Magic Eye illusion: a raft not on the water, but floating over clouds. It’s easier if you click on the image to enlarge it. Can you see it?


On my mind…the heavy and the light.

The heavy: CHF

Late last night we got a call from my sister Beth that she and Mom were at the ER with Dad.  On his birthday.  Turns out that his lingering cough, disorientation, fatigue and lack of appetite all add up to  mild congestive heart failure.  Things are going to be different from now on. I’m still processing all of it, but I’m not surprised at this diagnosis at all.

The light: The Ninja

On a lighter note, a few days ago we bought a Ninja Master Prep and the whole family is in love.  Why doesn’t everyone own one of these?  We have made Cashew Queso, Black Bean Dip, fruit smoothies and green protein shakes.  It’s easy to use, easy to clean and fast as lightning.  Love, love, love, love it. I love it so much I used this phrase, “OMG OMG I LOVE OUR NEW NINJA” in a facebook comment.  At my age, that’s embarrassing, but that is how much I love the Ninja.

The heavy: Home?

We decided back in January that we are ready to leave Ohio and move back to Vermont as soon as we can make it work, which of course might be never.  My job can go on the road, both girls are homeschooling now, and Aaron is working on a flexible arrangement for the upcoming school year.  I don’t know if it will work.  Whenever I have an Athens moment, I wonder if we really want to go as much as we think we dodo.  We live in a wonderful, wonderful town, and leaving, whenever it happens, will be emotional and fraught with doubts.  Still, no matter how hard we try, when we leave our cabin in Vermont at the end of every summer to return to Ohio, it feels increasingly like we are headed in the wrong direction.  Plus, Dad’s got that bad ticker and being a 12 hour drive away from my family has not sat well with me for a while now.

The light: Quitting Camp Nano

Quit?!  I never even started.  About a week ago, when I had a few free moments to get started on an April novel…I had nothing.  Emptiness.  I’m not even bothering.  What really happened to all my novel ideas?  I had them, but they ran away.