Sometime in the year 1920, Raggedy Andy was introduced to the world in the form of Raggedy Andy Stories. His sister, Raggedy Ann, came on the scene about 5 years earlier, so Raggedy Andy has always been considered a bit of a sequel, forever in his sister’s shadow. Even his Wikipedia page redirects to that of his sister. I’m sure I wasn’t aware of his subordination as a child, but somehow my radar for underdogs drew me to Andy, even though both my dolls came as a set.
Truth be known, I was never into dolls that much. I was a tomboy through and through, and would much rather play with Tonka trucks and chemistry sets than with some silly doll (with the notable exception of Barbie.) But I do remember my two Raggedies.
They were very old school and cheaply made. Their clothing and features were simply printed on the cloth and they were then sewn together and stuffed, and had a bit of yarn for hair. This makes me wonder if my mother bought the printed cloth and made them for me. She did love to sew.
I remember staring at them and not quite knowing what to do with them. I don’t think I was introduced to any of the many books that described their adventures. That surprises me, in retrospect, as my mother was an avid reader and passed the love of reading on to all of us.
I remember being fascinated that their stuffed legs had a sewn seam in the middle, to indicate where their knees were, and therefore the legs could bend. I was also intrigued by the point where the yarn was attached to the head, and that their heads were basically flat, stuffed disks. It seems I was more interested in the dolls’ construction than I was in the dolls themselves.
I wish I could report that I got many years of fun and use from these dolls, but I think I lost interest in them relatively quickly. I don’t know what became of them. I know they didn’t move with me to Florida when I was ten years old. They most likely met some anticlimactic end, as is the way with all but the most beloved of children’s toys.
But despite my benign and youthful neglect, I thought it was appropriate to take a moment to wish Raggedy Andy a happy 100th birthday sometime this year. That truly is a milestone.
I missed a very important anniversary recently. On February 2, 2020, Estonia turned 100 years old. But their independence was declared (but didn’t actually “take”) on February 24th, 1918, so by that count, I guess you could say that today they are 102 years old in spirit.
Yeah, I know. You probably go months or years without thinking about Estonia. But to its 1,328,360 people, I’m sure this anniversary was a big deal. It’s no mean feat, being the 153rd largest country in the world, especially when you border Russia.
Estonia is not even 3/4ths of the size of the State of West Virginia, but hey, at least they’ve got universal health care and free education for all, so they’re a heck of a lot more civilized than we Americans are. Something I didn’t know is that its territory includes 2,222 islands as well. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t been easy being an Estonian throughout history. Since the place thawed out and human settlement reached the area 13,000 years ago, it has been occupied, fought over, or at least invaded by Scandanavian and Germanic tribes, the Danes, the Germans, the Russians, the Swedes, and the Polish-Lithuanians, with all the devastation and famine such wars and occupations can cause. Then Russia stood on their neck, basically, until around 1850, when people started looking around and saying, “Hey, we have a national culture and identity, here.”
After decades of struggles, crackdowns and revolutions, World War I, and invasions back and forth between Russia and Germany and Russia again, And that unsuccessful independence declaration in 1918, Estonia and Soviet Russia signed the Tartu Peace Treaty on February 2, 1920, and Soviet Russia “permanently gave up all sovereign claims to Estonia.” Happy birthday!
But you knew it wouldn’t be that clean cut, didn’t you? Of course not. Constitution after constitution, the Great Depression, and then, blam, World War II, which placed Estonia back into the Soviet sphere of influence, causing it to be officially occupied by them. Again. Whew. I’m tired, just reading this, aren’t you?
Then came a period of oppression, deportations to Siberia, and war, where part of Estonia was captured by Germany. Then the Soviets invaded. Again. And the Estonians didn’t want to be on either side of this conflict, and therefore got caught in the middle. The Estonians resisted the Soviets after the war, so the soviets responded with a campaign of Russification, which encouraged Russians to settle the area. By 1989, Estonians only comprised 62 percent of the population.
So why do we consider 1920 to be the establishment of this poor battered country? Because many Western countries considered the annexation of Estonia by the Soviets to be illegal, and so a government-in-exile was established. Their independence was restored on August 20, 1991, and that’s a national holiday to this day. But they also celebrate February 24th as their independence day since that was the date they first declared independence in 1918. The last of the Russian army left Estonia in 1994. If I were them, though, I wouldn’t rest very easy, because, well, Putin, and clearly they can’t count on help from Trump.
Through it all, though, Estonia has trundled on, and has even managed to develop a very strong IT sector. Estonia is where Skype was born. And it was the first post-Soviet republic to legalize civil unions, too. Good for them!
So I’m thinking, if any country needs birthday wishes and a slice of cake, even if it is belated (or not, depending on how you look at it), it’s Estonia. Happy birthday! You sure have earned it, a thousand times over.
December 1, 2019 was the 7 year anniversary of this blog. Seven years, writing a new post every single day. That’s an amazing accomplishment, even if I do say so myself. When I started, I assumed it would be a 6 month project at most, because how on earth would I come up with a new topic every day? Surely no one has that much to say. And yet, here I am.
So you’d think I’d have remembered on the day. I should have taken myself out to dinner or gotten a massage or something. But no. It totally slipped my mind. WordPress had to remind me with their automated congratulations. I celebrated by eating apple pie for breakfast the next morning.
This blog has been a major part of my life. I spend at least 16 hours on it every week, and even more than that if you count the hours of stress over writer’s block and utter lack of inspiration. It’s been the source of great friendships and fascinating feedback. It has also been the source of my first book. I’ve also halfway cobbled together a second book, but I can’t seem to get motivated to finish it. (I was about to say that follow through is not my strong suit, but if that were the case, this blog wouldn’t exist. So the lack of a second book is due to basic laziness. Ouch.)
The bottom line is that I can’t imagine who I’d be anymore without this blog. I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to read it, dear reader. I’ve marked my calendar so that I won’t miss this anniversary in future years. I hope there will be many more celebrations to come.
I can’t help but wonder, though, why it’s so easy to overlook our own accomplishments, even for those of us who wouldn’t think of overlooking the accomplishments of others. That sounds like the topic for a future blog post. Hmmm…
Can you believe I’ve been publishing a post on this blog every day for six whole years? I can’t. I assumed I’d last about six months, if that. But now this blog looms so large in my life that I cannot imagine being without it.
Through this blog I’ve made many friends, have had many unique experiences, and have expressed many opinions. It has improved my writing and given me a platform and a voice to use thereon. It could be argued that it was how I got my husband, because he always says that he got to truly know me by reading my blog posts.
When I realized this anniversary was about to roll around, I asked several people for suggestions as to what I should write about to commemorate the occasion. In fact, they had so many good ideas that it is going to generate a half dozen posts.
But the suggestion that seemed most appropriate for this specific day came from a member of my new extended family, who also happens to be a writer. She said I should pick six blog posts that I loved writing the most. This seemed like a great idea to me.
What I hadn’t considered was that I’d have to plow through more than 2100 entries to pick those six. Yikes. Thank goodness I keep a spreadsheet that includes the title with a link to the post and a short description of what the post is about, or I’d STILL be reading.
What I decided to do was pick a post from each year. Even that was a struggle. But I think I managed to choose some that really speak to my frame of mind during that time. I can’t say these are the absolute best of the best. But they each mean a great deal to me, and I’m proud of them.
So without further ado, here are my six picks. Let me know what you think!
For 2013 I chose Dog Wisdom. I’m sad to say that both the dogs mentioned in this post have crossed the Rainbow Bridge since I wrote this, but they taught me much, as this entry demonstrates. This one was written early on in the blogging process, and I can tell I was finding my footing, and expressing ideas I had been thinking about for a long time.
For 2014 I chose On Looking Homeless. This was the year that my partner Chuck died quite unexpectedly, and I was feeling very lost and broken. Writing this blog every day helped me work through my grief and pain.
For 2015 I chose The Zen of the Pottery Wheel. When I read this one, I’m reminded of how intensely lonely I was when I first moved to Seattle. I can also tell that I was trying really hard to figure out who I wanted to be.
For 2016 I chose Tent Life. By that point I was settling into my new life, and I was able to raise my head from my navel and look about me. It also gave me time to reminisce and to evaluate my past. This post is about that past.
For 2017 I chose Transformations. This post was written at a time when this country was in turmoil, and it is all about how life can turn on a dime, and how scary that can be. But it shows that I’m learning to cope, and that, for me, is a huge deal.
For 2018 I chose “I Can Do It Myself!!!” This post looks back on the strong, independent single woman that I was, but it also looks forward to the still strong and independent married person I’ve become, and it has made me realize that it’s often a lot more fun to do things with someone else.
Well, holy moly! When I started this daily blog back on December 1, 2012, I would have never guessed that I’d still be going strong 2000 posts later. It’s hard to believe I’ve had 2000 things to say, and that I’m rapidly approaching 200,000 views by 110,000 visitors. A conservative estimate suggests I’ve written over 830,000 words.
I couldn’t have done it without you, dear reader. What has kept this blog so vibrant and interesting for me, especially on days when writer’s block was crushing me like a bug, is your feedback and suggestions. Without that input, I’d feel as though I were typing into a void.
I’ve also made quite a few friends on this forum; people from all over the world. Drawbridge Nation feels like a small, friendly town to me, one that I get to walk through every day. I even think that reading my blog is what finally convinced my boyfriend that I was relationship-worthy, so, yay, there’s that, too!
Because of this blog, I’ve written a book, and am working on a second one. I’m very proud of that. It feels like a tiny bit of immortality for someone who chose not to have children.
I’ve even been recognized on the street a few times, which astounds me. I’m used to thinking of myself as relatively invisible, not, as one reader once described me, “a sort of famous person”.
So I just wanted to thank you for indulging in my random musings, and I hope you’ll stick around for my 4000th post! Meanwhile, I think I deserve a cookie.
After yesterday’s blog entry, Chuck is on my mind quite a bit. Even more so than usual, because I recently celebrated the 7th anniversary of our first kiss, or as I like to describe it, “The Moment My Life Changed”.
I actually made the first move. We had been talking for 4 hours on this particular day. We had everything in common. And he was about to leave for the last time. He had been my roofing contractor, and his crew was finished with the job and had left. I knew that if I didn’t do something, he’d walk right out of my life and I’d never see him again. So I kissed him.
And I felt it in my knees. Which was kind of dangerous, since we were standing on my roof. But it was worth it.
I had 4 amazing years with Chuck before he died, and he really taught me a lot about what love is, and also what it isn’t. Ours was a complicated relationship. But I don’t regret any of it, and I miss so much of it.
While he was alive, I described that first kiss as the moment my life changed, but little did I know. My whole life can be divided into before that kiss and after it. That first kiss meant I experienced love, but it also meant I experienced death and grief and excruciating pain and loneliness and despair.
That kiss and that love and that death also sent me headlong across the country, to Seattle. That has also been a bit of a jumbled bag of joy and sorrow. No regrets there either, most of the time.
Every year when this anniversary rolls around, I experience very mixed emotions. Part of me thinks I should stop writing it on my calendar, because I suck at remembering dates, so if I left it off, I would stop riding this particular roller coaster. But part of me thinks, no, I should hold on to it, at least until I experience another kiss that I feel in my knees. If I ever get that lucky.
It was my boyfriend’s 61st birthday this past week. Or it would have been, if he had lived to see it. Needless to say, this caused me to think about him quite a bit. I wonder what my life would be like now if he were still in it. Without a doubt it would have been quite different. But I have no idea whether it would have been better or worse.
Chuck was the most amazing person I ever met in my life. And when he was at his best, I’d be speechless with admiration for him. I loved his generosity, his humor, his integrity, his determination, and the quirky way he looked at the world. But no doubt we’d have fought over this recent election, and his extreme health issues took a lot out of both of us. Would I have made it to Seattle? This climate would have been awful for his asthma.
Would we even still be together? Our relationship was a passionate one, which was great in many ways, and not so great in others. We tended to wash over each other like waves on a beach, unstoppable, and yet advancing and receding with the phases of the moon.
Why even speculate? Why do I mark my calendar with the date of his birth, the date of our first kiss, the date he moved in with me, the date of his death? Am I simply torturing myself? Maybe I should stop keeping track of these things. Maybe I should only remember them if I don’t have to be reminded.
But I’m not ready for that. Not yet. I have not yet reached that level of letting go.
My friend Carole recently told me, “Sweet memories are hugs we give ourselves when we are alone.”
I like that.
Don’t take anyone for granted. My book makes a great gift for the one you’re most grateful for. Check it out.http://amzn.to/2cCHgUu