Sunday, December 30, 2012

YOU May Be Somewhere Among These Quirky Blogger Stats

Every now and then I take a peek at the Stats Blogger (Google's blog host) keeps on traffic to each blogger's site, to get a notion of whether anyone at all is taking a look at this blog. I was idly scanning down the categories a couple of days ago when, at the bottom of the page in Search Keywords -- Search Keywords for my blog -- my eyes fell on this:
plants make penis big and how to use it
That was certainly enough to make me sit up and take notice. I could not recall ever using the penis term, and surely not within the context of "how to use it." I did an internal blog search, and there it was, over halfway down the page in a benignly titled Running Faster and Falling Behinder, this photo with my embarrassed admission that I think of it as the penis plant.

(aka California Buckeye)

Somebody looking for various enhancements must surely be disappointed to land on my blog. I've tried to show you this search term in this screenshot so you could see with your own eyes but it's not there any more.  (Isn't it lucky that I jotted it down on a notepad in case I couldn't find it again.)

It wasn't this "day" (for the dailys)  that I actually saw it, so I speculate it had only been tried once or twice, and in an ever changing list, it had dropped out the bottom of longer time periods by the time I took a screen shot early this afternoon. I've looked at seven pages of Google results to see whether my blog shows up, with no luck. Wonder if the little fella actually read down to his (non)answer. Now that I've Googled the phrase myself, I guess it'll show up again.

Here's the whole stats array.

hip hip hooray 
This shows up over and over as a Search Keyword, day after day, week after week. I used this cute little photo in a same-named blog when I finally heard from Air France, after a weekend of suspense, that my credit card purchase of an airline ticket had finally gone through.

Doing a Google search of the phrase myself, I don't find my blog listed, but the cute little photo is in a row of images for hip hip hooray and if you click on it, it's superimposed over my blog. This may be the clue to a pattern, as the same explanation applies to
jumping for joy

aiguille du midi viewing area (listed in two places to accommodate those who prefer a period at the end)
Actually, this is where I first figured out the photo/blog connection, because when I Googled the phrase, Images were the second entry, the whole top row was my own photos "you" and the bottom row was commercial photos I'd gotten online. My photos. On Google. This whole adventure still leaves me grinning from ear to ear whenever I think of it.

Here's the professional aerial photograph of the viewing platforms. Actually, seeing this, I realize I only made it to one of the lower platforms, the one farthest to the left. There's a very protected route to that one, with fewer scary visuals. That's Chamonix down there in the valley. That's where we started.

linn mini mustang

What had I ever written about mini mustangs? There have been miniature horses in our little 49er Festival Parade, but mini mustangs? I Googled it and there in a row of four photos was a picture I'd taken of Linn's Mini Mustang! Here's what happens when you click on a photo in Google, which shows me just how much shows up in Google.

If you ever appear in my blog photos, you'll probably appreciate that I try not to include personal identifying information beyond the occasional first name. Google so wants me to identify everyone and link the world together, but I resist.

The mini mustang picture was taken at airport day festivities at our little airport, nestled under a DC-3. It's a two-part blog, with the earlier part of the day spent at a pioneer days festival.

bilbao dog flowers 
No question what that was about. On a quilters tour to southwest France in 2011, we'd taken a coach trip to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Our Basque guide didn't come with us that day since we'd have a museum guide, but he explained to us that we could rendezvous for the trip home under "the poppy" and summon our bus driver for the trip back to St-Jean-de-Luz where we were staying. "You can't miss the poppy," he assured us. Whilst we were wandering around trying to find out where the heck the entrance was, we located the poppy.

Oh, Puppy. It was the Basque accent. I admit this photo was supplied by one of my fellow travelers. I'd idiotically left my camera on the bus because we'd been told that no photos were allowed in the museum. Notwithstanding the fact that many fabulous photos were to be had of the exterior, the prohibition of photos inside was not well observed. I got a lot of nice photos from several people on the tour so that I almost feel like I took photos myself.
fastlane band reno lonnie garcia
Puzzling, until I figured out that Fastlane referred to an Eagles tribute band that had performed in our little town in the summer. Searched my blog internally and found that Lonnie Garcia was one of the performers. But what's with the very HGTV-ish reno reference? No renovations were mentioned.

I finally recalled that the band was from Reno, as in Nevada. In fact, there seems to be a whole industry in tribute bands based there, all on one website. This was one grand experience. I'm not sure it doesn't bring just as big a grin to my face as conquering Aiguille du Midi.

mont ventoux 2560
Yes!  When Sister and I went on the Experiencing Provence photo tour last year, we'd gone to the top of Mont Ventoux. The mountain towers over the Provençal countryside, a landmark, a subject of paintings and photos, a challenge to Tour de France teams. I assumed without thinking about it that the 2560 referred to its elevation but when I pulled up my own photo of the road marker just below the summit, that clearly wasn't what it referred to.

So I Googled the phrase and find:

Caromb, a charming village near Mont Ventoux, Avignon in Provence. Famous for its Cotes du Ventoux wine, black figues and olive oil.... in the foothills of the Mont Ventoux. Sleeps: 6. Price guide: 1,460 to 2,560 € / week.

We were hoping for terrific views of the surrounding countryside, but it was a cold and blustery day, making the Mont's bare top look really bleak. That's Sister, shivering there.

 the quilt revival
There are several of my blogs with mention of a quilting book I'm working from, The Tile Quilt Revival but only one with a picture that connects the book with what I'm working on.
As far as I can figure, someone who knows my blog types the blog name into a Search box and comes here directly, like I do myself.

So that's the tour of the Search Keywords stats. With a little digging, most of them made sense. Sometimes it's more obscure.

I'll just give you a peek at the other two categories, no big explanations.

Here's Referring URLs. I'm pretty sure it means that a link here is clicked to arrive at my blog.

I don't find any link to my blog in that ontimemarketing(biz) link and I don't see those 61 pageviews in any other statistics I get. I don't even remember seeing it here before. Others I recognize, including Google from different countries and a fellow blogger's links from the US and when she's in France. And, hey, some of you always come here via Facebook.

Here are Referring Sites. I'm not sure of the exact distinction between this and Referring URLs, and there's clearly some overlap, but it has the simplest look to it.

So, like the title says, YOU are somewhere among these statistics, and I'm always curious about who might have come calling.

See  you soon.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Calm before the storm . . .

I could be talking about the weather. But as it is, I'm not. I'm talking about trying to grab a small space of time for myself, to blog, to read, to decompress -- hours, maybe a couple of days -- between the rush pell mell toward Christmas, and the impending launch of the room addition, during which I'm expecting myself to maintain my regular activities, although I'll be displaced much of the time from my bedroom and my current office/study/computer room and scrunched into the kitten room, living room, kitchen and somewhat in the garage.

My displacement date has a red box around it on the builder's timeline, somewhere around the weeks beginning Feb 4 or Feb 11. Weather will affect the timeline. It already has. Groundbreaking had been hoped for December 24.

It almost seems like I can't operate without a drop-dead deadline for completing tasks, such as getting myself well-frazzled by sending out an already-tardy edition of my Soroptimist Newsletter at 1:30 a.m. on the day Sister-in-Law and I were heading for our four days in Yosemite. I hadn't even packed when I went for my brief sleep, but nonetheless, I think we were on the road by about 10:30. We returned home by midday on the 13th to a round of pre-Christmas social events and appointments: a marvelous performance of holiday music -- unusual pieces, some of them, from around the world -- by a local singing group, the Pine Cone Singers; a ladies' tea/luncheon at Dori's Tea Cottage organized annually by a friend; a fancy Christmas dinner at the Groveland Hotel with the RV club; a morning assisting a beginning computer class; a nominating committee meeting for Soroptimist; NeedleCrafts; manicure; haircut; hemmed a couple of tea towels for a gift for Daughter from French fabric I bought on my September trip. Interwoven throughout these activities I was writing and producing my (ta dah!) holiday letter. I believe I was folding the last one and stuffing envelopes at NeedleCrafts on Thursday. Oh. . . and I decided to bake shortbread and pfefferneuse pfeffernüsse to take to Daughter's house for Christmas. Somewhere along the line, Daughter came to borrow my truck, stayed overnight, and left her car for me to return at Christmas.

I made this list more for my edification than yours, because I'm sure you were just as busy and are mumbling "yeah, yeah." This blog serves partly as a diary for me, and as evidence that I don't dawdle all my time away, which it often feels like.

At NeedleCrafts just before Christmas, Barbara had completed this felted hat. (I think Barbara's next project for crafts fairs might be felted hats, but she was at the other end of the tables and I didn't hear the whole story.)

Sandy knitted two sets of pink tutus, leggings and hats for two-year-old twin granddaughters. Those are not tutu diagrams on the chart on the wall!

One of the "kids" licks the bowl after I make cookies.

A couple of days later, the big rain storm begins. Feral kitties who had frolicked in snow now hunker down in damp misery atop the woodshed in the shelter of the eaves, or wait it out in the darkness under the patio table cover.

Looking for a "decoration" photo for my Photo-A-Day, and a way to get out of planning a couple of meals, I swing by the pizza place.

This little thing turned out to be enough for three suppers.

Jean-Luc has invented a soccer game for cats, using a photo paper box and the strip ripped off the top of his treats. He races down the kitchen floor tossing up and "dribbling" the strip, then slams it home in the box.

"Who, me?" Then he does his best to keep me from putting the sewing machine back in its rolling carry case after I finish hemming the tea towels.

The sun returns on Christmas Eve morning and a bunch of damp kitties warm up and wash in the sun.

Tiny Kitten flops on the toasty deck rail and lets Extra do some extra grooming.

Interesting clouds are coming in as I prepare to leave for Daughter's house in Fresno. I chicken out on driving her car back to her due to its almost-bald tires and leaky power steering. I'll have to get my truck back some other day.

"Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house I go." What? I'm Grandmother, going to Daughter's house.

A favorite intersection where you can see an old stone circular corral. It's obscured by leafy oaks in summer time, but you can enlarge this and see it in the middle of the picture.

Granddaughter's Boyfriend, Granddaughter, the "puppy" Daughter found a few months ago, tangled in tumbleweed by a freeway, Grandson.


Right to left: Daughter, Grandson (Son's son), Grandson's Girlfriend, Girlfriend's Mother. Getting the posole ready to serve.

Left to right: Son's Daughter (arm & tiny profile), Son, Daughter's Daughters, Girlfriend's Mother, Granddaughter's Boyfriend, Grandson's Girlfriend

(You have all this straight, right?)

Daughter and Happy Puppy

 We all took a big after-dinner walk up and down Daughter's street.

The White House is on Daughter's street.

Pennsylvania Dutch? Their puppy looks just like Puppy, who didn't seem to appreciate the comparison.

Antique lamp with leather shade

Waiting to open presents, sometime between brunch and supper.

Son's Daughter and Son, plus Lady, their elderly doggie, after presents, waiting for their Dad and Cousin to play music.

The Granddaughter

The Cousin (Sister's son and my nephew)

Nephew, Son, Puppy and Daughter singing

Sister, Brother-in-Law, Nephew's Wife, and Family Friend

Daughter, rockin' it

Nephew's Wife, Nephew, Son

Dessert time. Sister made this layered cake, from scratch! Yum. Even though I'd had stomach problems all day, this went down just fine!

The morning after. Leftover pie for breakfast, glasses awaiting their turn in the dishwasher, pots and saucers draining.

One of the Granddaughter's found this Kitten as a tiny, starving stray and she and her Mom nursed it back to life. He had a recent bad encounter with a pit bull but has pulled through. He is a beautiful little cat. I couldn't get him to sit still and pose properly to get a picture of the interesting stripes on his chest.

Last but not least, the Family Photo. Got a bunch of tall boys back there. And a few pets.

I drove back home the day after Christmas. There had been a lot more rain in my absence. I kept driving toward black clouds, running low on fuel which had not cost any less in the Valley than it does at home, fingers crossed that the shortcut with the river fords would not be closed, that the short steep road up the hill to my little town would not be closed, that the gas stations hadn't run out of fuel with the holiday traffic. You could tell by the snow clumps that had fallen from cars onto the road that it had snowed higher up the hill, but I didn't run into any rain or snow in my journey, got gas fine, and got a kitty cat welcome home.

Nothing had happened on my room addition, which we'd hoped would begin on Monday. Nothing happened on Wednesday. On Thursday, I heard a car pull up in the driveway and looked out to see my builder knocking down the rickety fence around my propane tank which has to be relocated. He and another guy staked out the boundaries of the addition and put three stakes across the middle. I assume those have something to do with where the existing propane line runs or where it will run. They walked around some more, sizing up something.

Today I saw a truck with a porta potty on the back drive up the road. Mine, I thought. He'll be back. Soon I heard the truck backing into the driveway.
(Light bulb indicating that I suddenly realize that) The guys had been sizing up where there the porta potty driver would make his delivery.
It's a beginning.

So now I've about dawdled away my two or three days of leisure. For pure relaxation, I had a mini-marathon of Downton Abbey last night. I have the DVDs of Seasons 1 & 2. I'd seen Season 1, but I decided to refresh my memory by rewatching it, and I've begun Season 2, all in preparation for Season 3, which will start in about a week. (So, looks like I'll have to sneak in a few more relaxing episodes over the next few days.)

But the big project is about to begin. I have to get my truck back and start moving stuff and throwing away and giving away. My daughter's car is in the shop, to get new tires and have its other issues analyzed and perhaps corrected before we do the swap. (Yeah, Mom got recruited for automotive repair duty.)

See you soon. Don't be surprised to see pictures of construction and men at work in our future.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dress Rehearsal

We arrive as the Parson addresses the assembly.

Last Tuesday I was standing in line at the Yosemite Village Food Court, waiting for my French toast to finish grilling, casually chatting with the man next to me who was waiting for his and his wife's pancakes. He mentioned that they had reservations for the dress rehearsal during Wednesday's lunch for the Big Festival Event at the Ahwahnee, for just the price of a lunch from the menu.

I'd heard about this access to rehearsals, but was only moderately interested, having attended the actual BFE the past two Christmas seasons. It's a spectacular four-hour Renaissance event, featuring pageantry, music, good humor, food, and wine . . . .  The premise is that the Squire of the manor has invited the villagers to his Christmas banquet, and we are his villagers. The meal is served in eight courses through the evening.

Sister-in-Law stood in the grill line even longer than I did and came back enthusing about the prospect. I was still lukewarm. But Sister and Brother-in-Law arrived a little later that morning for their two night in Yosemite, and they were as enthusiastic as SIL. So . . . I'm easy. I'd met Traveling Friend on my tours in France and she'd be arriving Wednesday, for a stay that overlapped ours by 24-hours. We tossed her name in the pot for five reservations for lunch at 1:45 Wednesday, hoping she'd get in on time, given weather forecasts for snow.

TF made it by the skin of her teeth. The Dress Rehearsal runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If they had been running through it sequentially, we came in near the end.

One of the absolute no-nos of the BFE is NO PHOTOS. In a fit of optimism, I carried my camera to the Dress Rehearsal and asked as we were being seated whether photos were allowed. "YES."

Yes yes yes. Because I almost feel like I'm getting away with something, I'm not mentioning the actual name of the BFE here, so it won't show up in a Google search. If you haven't guessed its name, check this link and scroll down to Food and Wine Events and choose the likely candidate.

Dining room patrons were seated on one side of the grand dining room, moving in and out as they finished eating and new diners were escorted in. The other side of the dining room had chairs and tables to which we could move to when done eating and continue to watch the rehearsal.

So here we go. I can't tell you exactly what is happening in each picture. Sometimes I could hear direction from Director and Producer Andrea Fulton, but more often not.

Lords and ladies file in.

The Squire of Big Event Hall addresses us.

Filing out singing . . .

Our lunch is served . . . I have corn-fed beef meat balls with a mushroom gravy over noodles, and seasonal vegetables.

Rain outside the windows is turning to snow.

Cameras turn toward the snow swirling outside now.

Lady Delphinium and the Parson make ready to file in, in a swirl of motion.

The Woodsman and the Squire . . .

The Wee Forest People file in . . .

The families settle on the steps.

The Jester, without his jester's hat . . . I didn't recognize him. Sister insisted. "Look at the costume." But I knew him as one of the actors who eats at the Food Court. He performs a most impressive musical number. If he did it at dress rehearsal, we were not there for it.

The Housekeeper speaks out. She is played by Andrea Fulton, in her 63rd year performing in the BFE (she did begin at age 5), and her 34th year as Producer and Director.

The Housekeeper directs the chorale.

Filing out . . .

Snow intensifies.

The virgins sing, and although it's not the end, we must eventually leave.

There was so much nostalgia for Sister and me. Our parents belonged to a social group at their church throughout our childhoods. Indeed, our parents stayed connected with the people in that group throughout their lives. The group did amateur musical productions, including a Christmas one each year. Some talented singers from the church choir were in the group, and when one of the soloists sang a carol at the BFE, I think it was "O, Holy Night," with the snow outside whipping by the window, it evoked such fond memories, and Sister and I teared up.

After the Big Festive Event Dress Rehearsal . . . our party of five . . .

Sister-in-Law, Sister, Moi, Brother-in-Law and Traveling Friend

Snow in the evening . . .

As it turns out, I'm really glad they talked me into going to the rehearsal.

See you soon.