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Ten years ago today, I wrote my first blog post. I had decided to try a blog project that involved writing every day for a year, using only the number of words that matched the number of years I’d spent on the planet, about people I’d met in my life. (That blog is no longer public.)

My first entry was about a friend I’ve known since we were both four years old. It was about her humour and kindness and anger at injustice. I’m pleased to say that we’re still friends; my husband and I had dinner with her in Christchurch just a few weeks ago. She’s also the friend who gave me the advice about earthquake preparedness I referenced in my previous post. I like having that continuity in my life.

That project brought a number of people into my life. I have an ornament (see below) hanging in my dining room window from the very first person to comment on that blog. I haven’t met Indigo Bunting yet, but for the last ten years, she has been present in my life. I am confident I will meet her one day. I’ve dreamed about it (though oddly, there was a bad flood at her house in this dream)! Either I’ll get to the US or she’ll get down here, and we’ll get to drink some wine together.

I’ve blogged about some of my blogging friends in my Friends-Not-Yet-Met series. Ten years on, we’re pretty much all still in touch. Whilst we no longer blog every day, and some don’t comment on my posts anymore, and I comment only belatedly on their blogs, we are still in contact. Over that time we’ve seen love stories unfold, books published to great acclaim, children born and other children graduate from high school and college. Each of these events has touched my life. We still talk about a possible meeting somewhere – Italy was always a favourite dream destination, though I suspect it is more likely to be Toronto or Vermont or New York  – and believe that it will happen one day.

Ten years on, I’m still writing, though I’ve been through a couple of different blog projects now, finally settling here at A Separate Life. I don’t write as often these days, and certainly not as succinctly as that first year, when I used only 44 words. I intend to continue, though. It seems that A Separate Life is here to stay.

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I tortured or bored – depending on their perspective – my Fb friends on the weekend, documenting for them the six-course degustation (tasting) menu my friend and I prepared for Saturday evening.

We had made the drive out of the city and up the coast to the beach house of friends we’ve known for years. In fact, one of them remembers me from my job interview before I even moved to Wellington in 1985, and we then worked together for the next ten years, albeit sometimes in different countries. It was nice to get out of town, to enjoy their garden with flower buds and asparagus spears and spring freesias, and flowering herbs and bees and eels and one stray goose, and to walk along the beach (though we did get soaked as the squall we watched come across Kapiti Island caught us before we got home).

Preparing and eating the meal together was fun, and I definitely recommend trying it with friends. Divide up the courses, make things you can cook in advance (my lemon tart for dessert, or the beef tagine that was pre-marinated and just bubbled away in the evening till we needed it), or need little preparation (whitebait fritters, salad, or cheese board). Match the menu with wine, drink LOTS of water and make sure you don’t have to drive anywhere afterwards (we were overnight guests), size the portions accordingly, and take lots of photos.

We’re going to try it again, but might up our game next time, with a more adventurous menu – or not.

 

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I discovered Loribeth in 2010 or 2011, finding at the same time a woman my age who seems to speak my language. Along with some of my other favourite Friends-Not-Yet-Met, she hails from Canada, a country that New Zealanders always feel that we know much better than we actually do. So Loribeth teaches me about life in Canada, the freezing winters and the hot, humid summers, the huge distances they travel (she’s taking me – virtually at least – on a road trip right now), the busy cities. She’s a writer and a reader, and as a result of her reviews, many non-fiction memoirs have now been added to my To-Read list, to be tackled one-day-when-I-have-time.

We may be separated by half the world, but I feel that we have much in common. Like everyone I write about in this series, I hope to meet Loribeth one day. I suspect it will be in Canada or the US, and the fact that she lives in the same city as some other Friends-Not-Yet-Met and near still others just across the border greatly increases the possibility of a meeting. Still, I regularly encourage her to escape the harsh Canadian winter and enjoy a gentle New Zealand summer, including a glass of wine on our deck (wind permitting).

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Today is the last day of a three-day weekend here in New Zealand. We have had magnificent weather – sunny and calm, chilly but not too cool. So yesterday we drove over the hill to Martinborough, participating again in our friend’s annual olive harvest. Their crop this year was abundant, and the 33 workers (okay, some of the kids didn’t do too much) who turned up were unable to complete the job (though some slackers spent some time with their (her)  foot up, and then left earlier than some, but not as early as others), as not only did time run out, but we all proved to be too short to reach the tallest 20% of most of the trees. But the bumper crop still meant that they ended up with 1.5 tonnes of olives, their most bountiful crop yet, and twice what we gathered on the first harvest five years ago. I wrote about the 2011 harvest here – check it out (it’s a much better post!) and see how the trees have grown.

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This year the sun shone more brightly, we ate Indian food and drank beer or wine for lunch, but the timeless tradition and the camaraderie continued. In a few weeks, we’re looking forward to our free bottle of oil.

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Susan’s life is almost the complete opposite of mine. As a child, I lived on a farm, and she was in an apartment in New York. I have few childhood photographs (and few adult ones either), and she had an adoring, photographer father. She blogs rarely these days, but her Fb feed is full of old photos of her father’s she has found, documenting the physical changes in New York City, and societal changes too, with photos of parties that look as if they were the inspiration for some scenes in Mad Men.

These days, her own photographs are more likely to be stunning scenes of rural life, winter shots, or of deer or other wildlife venturing into her yard, that always intrigue me. We both share a love of photos of beautiful blooms, though I suspect her camera (and eye) are rather better than mine. She has known tragedy though, as a girl and later as a mother, and I love the way she keeps her daughter Jill alive through her memories.

I would love to meet Susan one day, but to be honest, her stories of tics and lyme disease might keep me away.

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Facebook killed blog comments. I looked back about eight years recently, and it was so lovely to see who was commenting on my blogs. Fortunately, many of this small group of people I first met on my blogs are still around on social media, so I still see what’s going on in their lives. But many are no longer writing or commenting, not even on the blogs of their real-life friends. I blame Fb, as well as mobile devices that make it hard to comment, so I doubly appreciate the comments I do receive when I know it would be so easy to just read and move on.

But on the bright side, there are two young men (okay, boys) in my life who are currently on holiday with their parents. They’re each keeping a blog. I’m getting to see some of my favourite places through their eyes, and it’s wonderful.

 

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  1. I still live in Wellington, in the same house, and we still haven’t redecorated our bedroom.
  2. I write for pleasure, almost daily.
  3. I write two blogs, and one of them is about infertility and not having children.
  4. I consider a number of people (from all over the world) my friends, yet I have never met them in real life, and I have welcomed people into my home, and people have welcomed me into theirs when we have never met in real life.
  5. I carry a device in my handbag that is simultaneously my book, my diary, my notebook, my camera, my newspaper, and my phone.
  6. I talk to people regularly, face-to-face, through a computer – and it’s free.
  7. I have a colouring book.
  8. I still haven’t been to China.

Notes:  

With thanks to the lovely writer of Euler Not Venn, for this idea.
Eight things, because it is Microblog Monday, and I have an eight sentence limit (though this is not included in my eight sentence limit). 

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