It seems like yesterday that I was creating this post, Happy New Year! and looking ahead to 2017, and now here we are again, at the brink of yet another new year. I look forward to sharing and connecting with you all in 2018 via the Glover Gardens blog, and looking back at what you liked here in 2017 is giving me some ideas for the days ahead.
Popular Posts and Themes from 2017
You Read My Heartfelt Poems
The #1 post, by far, was My Brother’s Suicide: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light. The poem honors my brother, who left us in 2013. It was hard to write and share this, and yet so cathartic and restorative. Your response uplifted me.
Four other poems were in the top posts of 2017, two of which reflect the unexpected loss of my Dad: you, amazing you / footprints on our heart-sands (another poem for Dad from a grateful daughter) and memory-honey (another poem for Dad) .
I was so grateful that I wrote this one about my childhood while Dad was still with us, and he commented on it: my days by the water.
Haiku for My Dad was a Father’s Day tribute to him just three days before he died. What a gift we had, Dad and me; when my husband took the early morning phone call that Dad had died and conveyed it to me, my response was: “I’m ok, we had no unfinished business.” I didn’t remember saying that until he reminded me later, but it is so true, and I am so incredibly blessed by the honesty and mutual regard of our relationship. And its awesome that you read my raw writings that tried to express this incredible blessing, and found some value in it.
Hurricane Harvey Captivated You
The #2 and #4 posts in 2017 were about Hurricane Harvey: Houston is Paralyzed by Flooding and How You Can Help Texas Right Now. You were interested in what was going on down here in the wetlands. And you didn’t just read the posts, you went to sites where you could help – there were 62 click-throughs on links I shared for donating to help Texas recover from Harvey, from the food bank to animal shelters to the Red Cross and the fund created by Houston Texas JJ Watts. Thank you; we are grateful for your empathy and support. Harvey was horrific for Houston.
You Shared My Travel and Restaurant Experiences
Two of the posts in the top five in 2017 were essentially restaurant reviews, a retelling of amazing meals that I had while traveling.
Edinburgh’s Hipster Food Court and the Butcher Bad Boy Burger was the #3 post.
Close behind at #5 was Comfort Food Alert: The “Best Gratin in Paris” (or maybe anywhere).
Another restaurant outing that was quite popular with blog readers was Simple Dishes: Venison Casserole at the The Ensign Ewart in Edinburgh.
I did a series of posts looking ahead to a trip to the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and two were in the most-read category: New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: The Importance of Hats (and Bandanas) and New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Bayona is a Foodie’s Delight.
A haiku celebrating a marvelous cemetery in London also caught your interest: Haiku for Highgate Cemetery.
The final travel-related post that piqued your interest was our September 30 experience in Colorado, Blizzard on a Train!
You are Interested in Stories about Our Next-Gen Family Members
Our kids were featured in a couple of top-viewed posts. Our Milennial Musician and one of his original compositions is the subject of this one: A Little (More) Music for a Sunday Evening. (Another of his compositions was the subject of the #1 post last year: A Little Music for a Sunday Evening.)
Our other milennial, The Best Eater, got married this year to The Girl Who is Always Hungry, and you liked this post about the newlyweds a lot: Our Next-Gen Couple (Now Married!) and Their Glover Gardens Aliases.
Three Recipes Make the Top 20 Posts
I posted lots of recipes in 2017, and these three were the most popular.
Comfort Food Alert: Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread was a post that originated with a friend’s Facebook post of a picture of his Mom’s meaty cornbread.
The Chipotle Chicken Salad recipe is something I’ve been making for years but hadn’t documented until now.
I like to experiment and create new recipes, and this one caught your interest this year: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam.
I Like Taking Requests – and You Like Reading the Results
One of my readers asked how to make an antipasto platter, so I answered with a post about it and included a long reminiscence about my Mom’s approach to antipasto. I loved getting the request, and you liked the post enough to make it the 12th most viewed in Glover Gardens in 2017: Antipasto Advice from Mom and Great Tastes from the Texas Coast.
A New Name
As I hit the 2-year anniversary of the Glover Gardens Cookbook blog earlier this year, I realized that I was talking about much more than just recipes, my original intent. I asked your opinion about the name of the blog in What’s In a Name? Seeking Your Input. You gave me great feedback, and one of the suggestions was simply to call it Glover Gardens. A couple of months ago, I made this change with no fanfare, and changed the tag line to reflect the multifaceted nature of the topics.
What’s Next? Authenticity, Curiosity, Empathy
I don’t make specific New Year’s resolutions these days because I don’t really believe in them, but I do want to move in these directions in my life in general, hopefully reflected in the blog:
- to be courageous and speak more with my own authentic voice, as I did with the poem about my brother’s suicide.
- to be more in-the-moment-mindful and curious about the world – and to share what I learn.
- to listen more and practice “cognitive empathy”; to truly understand others and learn from their truths.
You Matter to Me
I have learned a great deal in 2017 through my interactions in this blog, spanning a huge spectrum. You validated my beliefs and ideas and added context and color to them. You challenged me and provided a different lens for viewing life and love of all kinds. You gave me interesting perspectives on photography, travel, spices, recipes, mindfulness and your own challenges. I am inspired by you!
The Collective Muse
Although I started the blog to capture my recipes for our sons and their (eventual) families, I actually thought my muse for this blog was my Dad. Then he died. He died. He died. He died. I probably haven’t accepted that – he died.
I wrote about Dad being my muse and losing him: Mourning the Loss of My Father and Muse. Especially during his last year when he had a mysterious illness, I wrote most of my posts hoping to inspire Dad and ignite him.
Reality: Dad died. I have to have a different muse. What a hard truth to absorb.
I kept on writing.
Maybe I’m my own muse? Maybe the muse is this vast expanse of strangers who read, and “like” and comment?
I kept on writing.
I wrote about Dad. Here’s one: you, amazing you / footprints on our heart-sands (another poem for Dad from a grateful daughter) . If you read this, you’ll understand me.
I wrote about Mom. Here’s one: Labor Day: Cherries and Empathy at the Beach.
I wrote about Steve: Looking Back and Finding Joy: Happy 51st, Dear Brother.
I wrote about death, and loss, and grieving.
I wrote about joy. I wrote about frustration. I wrote about travel, the world and food. I created haiku for silly things, and profound happenings. I shared recipes.
I kept on writing. You listened.
A marvelous thing happened. One of my nieces said, “I read every one of your posts, and if I’m with my friends, I read them out loud.” She mentioned a specific post about her Dad (my brother) and referenced a phrase or two from it. Oh. My. Gosh. She’s a living, breathing muse. She is part of me, and someone I can write these memories for. So are my other family members.
And, in addition, so many of you reached out. You said that you had lost a loved one and felt something similar, or you liked a silly haiku I wrote, or a recipe looked delicious, or a family memory stirred an emotion. You shared an approach for editing a photo, or using a special spice in a recipe, or a trick you use to stay sane in a crazy world. You empathized with me. You cared.
I kept on writing. You let me know you were reading, and you became my muse / the source of my inspiration. My family, my friends, my special set of strangers – you are my muse and inspiration. Thank you. Here’s to a great 2018!
Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens