At the Age of 14

The summer that I was 14 was not my favorite summer. I guess I was supposed to be excited to be starting high school in September. But our ninth grade was in the same building as grades 7 and 8 in the configuration known as a junior high school in the days before middle schools. It didn’t seem like a big deal to be a freshman in the same building.

My father had gotten very sick the summer I was 10. He had a brain tumor and when they removed it he was paralyzed on the left side of his body. I was 10, and that was the last summer of my childhood.

What set me down this sad nostalgic path to the past was a calendar reminder on my phone that today is the 14th birthday or anniversary of this Weekends in Paradelle blog. That’s almost as hard to grasp as how many years it has been since I was 14.

Weekends in Paradelle started July 30, 2008. I was still toiling full-time in the fields of academia. Actually, I had recently changed jobs moving from one college to another college to direct a writing initiative that was a five-year federal grant. I thought then that the grant would carry me to a point where I might consider retirement from classrooms and campuses, but the end of that grant didn’t mean retirement. But that’s a different story.

As you can read in the first post on this blog, I intended this to be a place for things that didn’t fit on other blogs I was using. More personal, I suppose. It took a month to two to find its place.

The”paradelle” part comes from an invented poetry form – part villanelle, part parody. It is a form I have tried my hand at writing. rather difficult.

The “weekends” was my idea of controlling the posting and limiting myself to Saturdays, Sundays, and sometimes Friday nights. I’ve stayed with that except for the occasional celestial observation that occurs during the week. A Full Moon on Wednesday will get a midweek post.

“Memory is partly fact, partly fumes,” writes Norman Lock in A Fugitive from Walden Pond. I picked up that novel at one of the local leave-a-book-take-a-book Little Libraries in my neighborhood. It was the title that hooked me, since I have been a Walden fan since I read that book the summer I was 14. That’s just one of those many synchronicities.

I didn’t know it was the fourth book in Lock’s historical novel series. It is about a slave, Samuel Long, who escapes from Virginia, and travels the Underground Railroad to Massachusetts. In Walden Woods, he meets Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Lloyd Garrison, and other transcendentalists and abolitionists. Having made my own journey a few years ago to Walden and encountered all those characters via their homes, books, and graves, I enjoyed the read.

But is memory “partly fact, partly fumes”? Perhaps. I’ve read in several places that our memories change every time we access them. Some of the recollection is fact and i suppose you could call the rest “fumes” from those facts. Fume is an odd word to choose since it is defined as “a smoke, vapor, or gas especially when irritating or offensive.” It goes back to Latin fūmus “smoke” and it shows up in fumigate and the verb form is to be in a state of excited irritation or anger.

Happily, most of my memories are not irritating or offensive. They are partly fact and possibly partly hazy, as through smoke, and not as clear as they once were to me.

I begin another year in Paradelle, my weekend getaway. The weather is excellent today. Clear and not too hot or humid. My 2-year-old granddaughter is her on an overnighter visit. We walked to the Little Library up the block and she found a book she wanted to bring home. She had her sippy cup, we read the book, and now she’s napping as I type. This memory is all fact and partly perfumed by her.

520 Weekends

I started posting here on in July 2008, so now there have been 520 weekends in Paradelle covered. This post is #1,434. That’s 2.75 posts per week on Saturday, Sunday and most Fridays.

I started this blog even though I was already writing elsewhere online. My biggest blog (in terms of numbers) is still Serendipity35 which is about technology and learning and has posts during the week when folks are in their offices and classrooms. And back in 2008, I was also writing on another blog that supplements my Poets Online website. The Poets Online Blog offers a way to extend the site and some dialogue with the site’s participants. I usually post there only about once a week.

But there were other things I wanted to write about that had nothing to do with poetry, technology, education or learning. I started a third blog called Evenings in Paradelle where I posted at night about books, movies, science, music and almost anything that caught my interest. That blog was the starting place for Weekends in Paradelle. The old site still exists with a slightly different mission under the name One-Page Schoolhouse.

The plan for this site was to post only on the weekends when I wasn’t writing on the others. With 8 current blog sites, I’m pretty much posting something every day. Yes, I have a calendar to keep the posts straight and try to prevent overlap.

Weekend ideas for posts come from reading walking and working outside, gardening, travel, relaxing, staring at the sky during the day and night, walking through bookstores and wandering around the Internet.

Why “paradelle?” It has a poetic origin, but I think of it as a place where I go for my weekend retreats. It has a root in paradise, but it’s more real than that.

My Tenth Year in Paradelle

As this past July closed, Weekends in Paradelle closed out its ninth year online. An achievement of sorts. Since 2008, I have written more than 1300 posts here. That can either be viewed as impressive output, or a lot of time spent on something that I am not compensated for doing.

“So where is this Paradelle place?” asked a friend tonight as we sat with our drink looking at the New Moon.

“Mostly in here,” I replied, pointing to my head.

“But you often refer to New Jersey,” she said.

“Well, my body is there most of the time. But it doesn’t take a lot to get away to Paradelle, so I try to get away every weekend.”

“There’s also the allusion to poetry, right?” she asked, though she knew the answer was Yes. (see this post from 2008)

“Yeah, but I don’t think there is a real solid connection. I just liked the word and I like the suffix from French where it originally formed diminutives. After all, Paradelle is a little place on this enormous World Wide Web.”

So, now I’ll get back to writing and closing out this online decade. You come too.

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

“I’m gonna raise a fuss. I’m gonna raise a holler. Working all summer to try to earn a dollar.”  “Summertime Blues

weekend farm500

Weekday work life has been all-consuming the past few weeks. So much so, that I have had to ignore the things I do online that I enjoy much more than all my online “work.” That leaves the weekends.

I do enjoy writing here for the weekend, but it takes a few hours away from other real world things. And I enjoy reading the poems people submit each month to my Poets Online site. I enjoy coming up with a new writing prompt.  I don’t enjoy as much formatting all of it and creating the web pages. The enjoyment ends with work.

My friend, Leon, teaches all week and then “works” on the weekend on a farm, but he loves that work – so is it work?

The song “Summertime Blues” popped up on my Pandora playlist this morning (the version by The Who though I like those by Blue Cheer and Eddie Cochran’s original). As serendipity or synchronicity would have it, it was followed by “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend.” That 1981 pop-rock hit that is more about romance than work or play, but it led me to write today a bit about the weekend.

After all, this blog started the summer of 2008 as my weekend retreat from whatever else I was doing online for pay. I said back then that meant I would write about  “things that I do or want to do on weekends – work outside, garden, paint, draw, travel, relax, stare at the sky, walk, hike, visit friends.” Somewhat ironically, writing about those things means you are not doing those things.

Where and when did we come up with the concept of the weekend anyway?  It is pretty modern. As you might guess, hundreds of years ago when you were farming or working at your craft every day was a work day to some degree.  Organized religion changed that. The Christian Sabbath was just one day each week, but the preceding day (the Jewish Sabbath) also came to be taken as a holiday as well as we entered the twentieth century. Combined with by a reduction in the total number of hours worked per week, we ended up with two days separated from the rest of the week.

Do you think of the week as beginning on Monday even though our calendar says it started on Sunday? It varies all over the world. In the United States, it was not until 1940, when a provision of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act mandating a maximum 40 hour workweek went into effect, that the two-day weekend was adopted nationwide.

Okay, that’s enough writing. I’m headed out into the garden.

The 2013 Weekends in Paradelle

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

We are close to 225,000 visits overall which is pretty cool. It will be nice to hit the quarter million mark in 2014.

In 2013, there were 169 new weekend posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 754 posts.

The busiest day of the year was December 21st with the most popular post that day being Celebrating the Winter Solstice with Words.

The posts that got the most reads this past year (other than the perennially popular Full Moon, solstice and equinox posts) were:

Visitors came from 156 countries and although most came from The United States, The United Kingdom & Canada were not far behind.