Stats n’at

One of the features of wordpress.com, the site where I host Writing by Ear, is that it provides statistics about the blog — how many people looked at it each day, how that compares to previous days, how that pans out over several months, what entries they read, what links they clicked on, and what search terms they used that led them to the blog. I imagine other blogging sites do the same.

By far, the search term I see show up the most relates to Fallingwater, the house Frank Lloyd Wright built for the Kaufmann family. People type in “Fallingwater,” “Wright house,” “waterfall house,” and many such variations and somehow hit upon the entry I wrote about my visit there this past May. (Six people looked at it yesterday alone.) Another frequent search relates to the entry I did last September about favorite toys from Christmases past — people find my blog looking for Baby Drowsy (or as one searcher typed: “doll that says I want another drink of”) or the Strange Change Machine or Green Ghost (“glow in the dark ghost toys”). Something called “bubble writing” shows up a lot as well — I’ve never done a search myself to find out what that is or why it leads them to me.

A hit here, a hit there…tiny numbers in the blog world. I know I’ll likely never have a huge following because my writing is all over the place, the same as it is in my Hack for Hire life. The best-read blogs seem to be devoted to one particular topic that like-minded aficionados can latch onto, like Pittsburgh or gardening or parenthood or politics. But every hit I do get is still exciting. And as my one-year blogging anniversary quietly came and went this month, I still find this whole self-publishing-at-will thing astonishing, let alone people actually reading what I write or finding me while searching for something specific. And if you search Writing by Ear on Google, guess what comes up first! Me! It’s probably the only time in my life that will ever happen — heck, I can google my NAME and not come up first.

So all hail the quirks of the search engine, the beauty of Fallingwater, the nostalgia for our favorite toys, and especially, especially the power of the blog.

The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here! I’m somebody!
                                 ~ Navin R. Johnson, aka Steve Martin, aka The Jerk

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Falling for it

Mike and I had the opportunity to visit Fallingwater this past weekend — an outing with Mike’s boss and wife. The timing was bad — so much work to do at my mom’s. But we had committed weeks ago, so off we went. I hadn’t been there in 20 years, and remember being so-so about it last time — those low ceilings? orange furniture? tiny bedrooms? It was okaaaay, but…

Twenty years of maturity and home ownership and design savvy later, I found it absolutely enchanting. As our guide said, “It’s a house you want to live in, but please refrain from living in it during the tour.” He was right. I had to restrain myself from plopping on the bed or the sofa to absorb the beauty of it. The drippy rain, the rushing water, the gorgeous hillside of blue forget-me-nots, the flowering trees. Those magnificent open corner windows, the built-ins everywhere, the charming bathrooms with their cork floors and walls, the boulder hearth — about as far from a McMansion as you could get, and thousands of times more desirable.

I remember very little about my last visit. This time, I wanted to hear everything the guide had to say, and asked a lot of questions myself. As a chatchke person, I loved the objets and art, noting a signed Picasso in the guest house. Genuine? I also admired the beauty of the new Visitor Center and the efficiency of the tours, with strategically placed umbrellas and really knowledgeable guides. Of course, being there with two architects, you get other insights as well. (For once, though, they found very little to be critical of.) 😉

The outing was for The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy annual members meeting, and included a lovely outdoor lunch, the Fallingwater tour, and hikes of the grounds if you wished. At the actual meeting, various Conservancy staff talked about their areas and showed slides of their work — very interesting, particularly the value of the 800 miles of creek fencing installed to keep cattle (and their bodily outputs) out of the water, the lands the Conservancy has acquired, and the urban beautification projects.

The “Barn” where the meeting was held (at Bear Run Nature Reserve) was really wonderful — a mix of natural and contemporary materials, including straw bale walls. Just walking from the Visitor Center to the house was a treat — nothing better than a walk along a wooded path, smelling the pines and seeing all the ferns and trillium and moss and quiet natural beauty.

Oh the joy of a relaxing and wonderful day — so very needed in the midst of my lately very complicated life and so inspirational. Maybe we can make that little cabin in the Smokies a reality someday (even though we’ll never be able to retire or afford long-term health care).

Oh well, reality is calling, but fantasy makes it so much easier to bear.

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. 
                      ~ Frank Lloyd Wright, quoted, 14 August 1966