500 Things

No, this is not one of those annoying blog posts that lists a certain number of things, where the blogger just looks stuff up and cuts and pastes. Oops that an opinion, not the start of a post. Anyway, 500 always feels like it’s halfway to somewhere, and it’s popping up for me.

Master Naturalist 500 hour pin.

First, I managed to reach the milestone of doing 500 volunteer hours with the Texas Master Naturalist program. That came faster than expected, thanks to doing the chapter blog, Nature Along the El Camino Real, being secretary substitute, and being president. I won’t make the next 500 so fast, since my iNaturalist observations here at the Hermits’ Rest no longer are acceptable as hours. You aren’t supposed to observe on your own property. Those of us who live on large properties are not thrilled. And with COVID, it’s hard to go many places. But, yay 500 hours. It’s a glass half full, glass half empty deal!

That was fast.

The other 500 achievement was that I got the notice that this blog has 500 followers. Surprise! That came only a little over a month after it hit 400 on December 4. To contrast, it took 7 months to get from 300 to 400 followers. This reminds me of how I track my exercise on my watch. I’m always thrilled when I hit a milestone, even though I’m not competing against anyone other than myself!

I see some sharing algorithms at work, which is fine. I’m just glad for the readers who are real people and who comment and share with me. Getting to know new friends and learning more about old friends is the best part of sharing my journaling online. And MY blog readers, at least, aren’t mean. I get enough of that in other arenas.

The mysterious hallway henge at the winter solstice.

This is a stretch, but I wanted to share this. The solstices are halfway points through the year, ya know, .500. This year, Lee discovered that we had oriented the ranch house to where the morning sun on the winter solstice shines straight through the upstairs hallway!

We didn’t get a picture on December 21, but the above photo was taken by Lee soon after. I remember being blinded by the morning sun blasting my eyes for about a week! Isn’t that cool? Hallway henge at Hermits’ Rest. Future generations will film dorky shows wondering why the builders of this house oriented it this way!

Thanks

Thanks for all the kind thoughts about yesterday’s post about my son. It helped me get through a long, hard day of endless meetings and people expecting me to solve problems that I can’t. It’s a challenging time, and I don’t post all the stuff here, believe it or not.

I thought y’all might enjoy some positive news today. There’s more to come. I’m doing lots to keep an upbeat focus and do what I can to improve life. What little things are you doing?

End o’ Year Stats

The year has even aged my avatar.

Last year I went over the most and least popular posts of the year, but I’ll just gather a few statistics today and sum the 2020 blogging up with that. It was, at least, a good blog year. It wasn’t all that exciting, though, because I got halfway through this post last week and never finished it. A suiting “tribute” to 2020: Not worth the effort of summarizing.

The trends

I didn’t see it as it happened, but more readers (real and bot) found The Hermits’ Rest blog, which led to more interaction and me discovering more interesting blogs, too!

Yep. Increased.

Slowly but surely, as the months passed, the readers built up, went down, and came back. I think a lot of it was better tagging, linking and keyword use on my part. I was apparently very interesting this summer.

The winners

I always wonder what causes a post to be popular, but this year I know.

Popularity Contest

The most popular post is the one linked to my recent very simple knitting pattern, and #3 is the other post about it. Yep. If I want hits, I need to write more easy knitting patterns. I know why the Passive Aggressive Facebook Posts one got so many hits, too. That’s because I tagged it with “passive aggressive Facebook memes.” That’s apparently a popular thing to search for, and I did include some doozies!

Popularity fell off after those, but I was happy to see so many posts with over 100 hits, which is high for me. Two of those were popular from being shared, the Ghosts from the Past one about my former college professor, Doc Shenkman, and the Restoring Your Historical House one, which the book’s author shared.

Of course, my heart is warmed that my post about Lee’s and my 12th wedding anniversary was a big winner. I guess it’s all the pictures of him.

Losers of the popularity contest

Of course, we will want to know what is NOT popular. I predicted which genre of post would fill the sad end of the spectrum: book reports. I figure no one reads those but me. I like just going to the Book Report page and delightedly realizing that I read 44 books last year (which I just did). Hey, not bad for someone who also reads a lot of wordy magazines!

But, look, I was wrong!

But look, I was wrong!
Virtual xox from scary me.

Only one book report was in among the sad posts that only got viewed 18 times, and that’s the one about one of my favorite books of the year, good old Barry O. I thought I did a good job on that one, too. Well, 18 people enjoyed it.

The nature posts generally don’t do too well, so I am not surprised to see lots of them down in the basement. That’s perfectly fine with me, since those are mainly to help me remember what I did and saw.

All in all, though 2020 had its challenges for living one’s life, it was a fine year for blogging. I think I’ll keep it up, as long as writing brings me pleasure and helps me meet new and interesting people. Now, go click a lot of links and get me hits. No, wait, that’s not it. Now, go read things you are interested in and that make you happy. Much better!

Boom! Stats Galore!

Well, yesterday was a fun one for me on WordPress. Innocently enough, I’d posted the pattern for my Fireside Wrap on Ravelry (the popular fiber arts community website), thinking someone else might like to make one. I thought no more about it, and spent most of the day watching clouds.

Sunbeams shining on our house, way in the distance.

Then, I started getting notices that my stats were booming. Hmm, I didn’t think the post about the chicken palace was THAT interesting. So, I checked out what was happening. Oh, of course. The pattern.

Don’t I look all official.

I’d forgotten that new patterns go into a little featured area, where people can look through them. People were obviously looking (drawn by the photo of Penney, no doubt). I monitored the posts all day long, figuring I’d have more hits than usual, but not all that many more. I underestimated how many people look at the Ravelry site on any given day. Lots.

Whoa, that’s some stats!

I never had more than 200 views per day, as far as I can remember. This is not a hugely popular blog (and that’s fine with me; I write it for me, my friends, and nice other people who happen to find it). Thus, 558 blew me away. It certainly makes the rest of the week look sad, right? I’ve already got 78 this morning (written around 10:15 am), which is more usual for a normal day or a medium-popular post or posts.

As expected, the two posts about the wrap/blanket accounted for most of the hits. Still, even without the surge, there were 146 views, more than usual. I think what’s happened is that I hit the magic number of followers that gets the blog picked up by WordPress to display under certain keywords, so my tagging has done its job.

It looks like the mother ship is about to beam the Hermits’ Rest up!

Actually, I noticed that since I hit 400 WordPress followers, I’ve gotten new follows at a much higher rate. I’ve gotten 50 followers since December 4. Also, more and more people are “liking” past posts, which means they got displayed somewhere, because certainly no one is searching for them! Algorithms are pretty interesting, even for people who don’t blog JUST to attract hits and followers.

I’m glad I’m doing something right, and I’m glad that a few people might make a simple, yet pretty wrap like I made. It’s good to give back to the community in a small way. I’ll never be the fancy pattern designer I’d hoped to be, back when I was trying to be a part of the cool kids in the knitting community, but I’m there, and that’s what counts.

What? I Should Look at the Calendar More Often

Aha! I’ve been so busy dealing with the state of the world and the state of my job that I forgot to look at the calendar to see that I totally missed our “blog-a-versary” on April 11! While I’ve been blogging a LONG time, off and on, it’s just TWO YEARS for The Hermits’ Rest blog.

Be glad this doesn’t have sound. I can’t play piano and I can no longer sing!

While I’ve not become a super influencer or celebrity blogger, I’ve enjoyed creating a community of frequent readers and have enjoyed getting to know some fellow WordPress bloggers, which has been a surprising benefit. Enjoy some stats:

We’re coming up on 27,000 hits in the past two years. Not a lot, but not bad.

Followers, explained

According to the stats in the sidebar, 933 people follow the blog. I did not believe that until I finally figured out where all those people came from, which is social media. I figured out that Social is a combination of my Facebook and Twitter followers. Ah.

Continue reading “What? I Should Look at the Calendar More Often”

Time Marches On, and It’s Beautiful

Looking out over the Texas Hill Country’s first hills as Nature gives us a fiery farewell to 2018.

Well, according to the calendar used by most of the world, it’s a new year. I celebrate it as the day I start scratching out the wrong year and changing it to the right one. And it’s a day off, so this is the only blog I’m writing in.

This is looking to the east, a bit earlier than the previous photo. Only the rich people houses peeking up remind me I’m in Austin.

At least we got a lovely show from Mother Nature last night, as the sunset was pretty darned spectacular. I enjoyed seeing many views of the same clouds from different places in my Facebook feed. Since some of you readers may not be in central Texas, I’m sharing a couple of my photos. I especially like the stripey one by the hill.

Speaking of Blog Readers

Since this is the first year of this blog (though the Hermits’ Rest Ranch Facebook page goes back a lot further, to October 25, 2014), I thought it would be interesting to check out how we’re doing, readership- and fan-wise.

Continue reading “Time Marches On, and It’s Beautiful”