Blogs with Style

Last week a friend of mine, Charles Gulotta of Mostly Bright Ideas, nominated me for a “Stylish Blogger” award.  This is quite an honor for me–not for the money or the nice plaque (those are forthcoming, right Charles?)–but because I think very highly of Charles.  His blog reveals a depth of thought and skill with words that are rarely found, especially in the same person.

According to Charles, the award comes with four basic tasks: to present seven things about yourself, name about a half dozen bloggers you think deserve the award, contact those people, and create a link back to the person who gave you the honor.

First, the seven things about myself:

1.  I love history.  From a young age I have enjoyed history.  When I was in 8th grade I won a “Daughters of the American Revolution Award” for history.  In high school and college I took as much history as I could.  Then I got a Master of Arts in history at Ohio State University.  Now I spend much of my free time reading and thinking about history.

2.  You may have wondered, why did he call the blog Arbor Familiae?  It’s very simple:  I took ten years of Latin.  While I don’t regret it and I still recommend taking Latin to anyone who will listen, there just aren’t as many ways to use it anymore.  Every once in a while I find a place I can sneak in some Latin.  So rather than trying to think of some clever variation on family, tree, genealogy, history, etc. as the title for my blog, I just slapped down some Latin.  I believe it means “Tree of Family,” i.e. “Family Tree.”

3.  Family is important to me.  My family means the world to me.  My wife, my two sons, my parents, my siblings, my grandma…  I can’t imagine where I would be today without such a wonderful family full of talented, caring people.

4.  I wish I could travel more.  Being somewhere new, experiencing a different place, finding interesting sites to see–there’s so much to relish about travel.  I know it’s cliché, but I’m desperately looking forward to a time in life when the necessities of work and parenting subside and I can travel more.

5.  I am sarcastic.  You probably won’t see it in my blog.  You may not even see it if you meet me in person.  But it’s there.  If you ever doubt it, ask my wife.

6.  Books are my drug.  (And yes, Charles, my obsession.)  I shudder to think how many books I currently own, or–even more scary–how many I have owned over the years.  The number is certainly in the 4-digit range, but I wouldn’t even hazard a guess at how high in the 4-digits it really is.  Our house is full of them.  My office is full of them.  If only I had the time to read even a significant portion of them.

7.  Tempus fugit.  (I had to throw in a little more Latin, while I had the chance.)  Time flies, it flees, it slips through my hands like sand.  There are so many things I wish I could do, and so little time.  I say all of this fully recognizing that in doing so I am revealing one of my greatest weaknesses: time management.

The earliest known instance of this particular phrase is in Virgil’s Georgics (on a side note, Virgil is one of my favorite Latin authors and I had to read a good chunk of his writings through my ten years of Latin).  Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore, which means, “But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while entranced by love we linger around each detail.”

I promise there won’t be any Latin in any other blog posts.

And now, some blogs I enjoy:

1.  Mirrored Images by Julia Harris.  My wife writes this incredibly funny, insightful blog.  She has a way of writing that lets you see what she sees, feel what she feels.  And what she sees and feels is invariably both unique and common to all (yes, I know that’s a contradiction, but somehow she makes it work).

2.  A blog inspired by my Mom’s Brain by Emily Caldwell.  Emily’s mom has Alzheimer’s.  She started her blog just over two years ago to help process the emotions of caregiving.  She recently wrote, “Blogging has definitely been a therapeutic activity. Not just the act of writing about Mom and my emotions about her, but because it has really helped me redirect my thinking about this part of Mom’s life and my life.”  I think Emily’s blog can be a great encouragement to anyone caring for a sick or aging relative.  More than that, anyone dealing with emotional turmoil or challenges of any kind can learn from Emily’s blog.

3.  The Faces of my Family by Lisa Ellam.  I recently found this blog when I was googling “69th Indiana Infantry.”  My great-great grandfather served in that unit and it’s one of the topics Lisa has chosen to highlight in her blog.  She also writes about other aspects of her family’s history and about the process of doing genealogy.  Her blog is a great place to find hints and ideas on how to use the internet to discover your family’s history.

4.  Dan Tate’s Blog.  This blog is filled with information about the history of Richmond and Wayne County, Indiana.  I can’t tell you how many times I have referred to it for information about my family’s history.  And it’s got some great pictures too!

5.  Civil War Books and Authors by Andrew Wagenhoffer.  This was the first blog I ever read.  Several years ago when I was doing some research on the Civil War I found this site, and I’ve visited it pretty much weekly since then (sometimes when I’m busy I skip a week, but I always scroll back through to make sure I didn’t miss anything important).  Andrew reviews books about the Civil War and gives insightful commentary on new and forthcoming books.  I wish there was a high quality blog like this about every historical topic I’m interested in.

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9 Responses to Blogs with Style

  1. mirroredImages says:

    Kevin – thanks for nominating my blog! I feel truly stylish. And it’s true: You ARE sarcastic. One of the best wielders of sarcasm ever, and a lot of the time you do it with just a smirk or a lift of your eyebrow. I don’t know if that’s rightfully called “sarcasm,” but it certainly makes me chuckle. I’m really glad you started your blog — and tho I often tell you that you should write a blog with all your humorous interactions with people, I like reading this one too.

    • You are stylish. You don’t need me to tell you that. People are always telling me how much they love your blog–literally stopping me in the grocery store, the library and all around town to extol your praises. And the praises are well deserved. (You should write a book.)

      Maybe someday I’ll write a humorous blog. We’ll see. But that would be a lot of pressure, to try to compete with you.

  2. pokedpotato says:

    So interesting to read more about you! We will never be in the 4-digit range for books =( Zach is constantly making me get rid of books in mass quantity…I got rid of maybe 50-80 books a weeks ago and it pained my heart to see those books go, even though I probably would’ve never read them again. They were good books.

    • Thanks, Rebecca. You sound like my wife (“so interesting to read more about you!”). I much prefer writing about dead people.

      You should be glad that you have someone in your household who’s willing to get rid of books. We have at least 3 (one of the boys is still a question mark), if not all 4 of us, who are unwilling to get rid of books and who are constantly finding more that we need. It really is scary how many books we have. We’d have to have a whole moving truck, just for the books, if we ever move.

      Maybe we should have Zach come over and help us clean things out. But then we’d be sad too.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. bronxboy55 says:

    Great post, Kevin. I can empathize with you about the number of books and the scarcity of time. I sometimes wish I would be put under house arrest, just so I could read more of the books waiting patiently on the shelves at home.

    I’d never heard about your sarcasm. Julia’s is legendary, as you know better than anyone. If I ever find myself seated between the two of you, remind me to duck.

    • My sarcasm is to Julia’s as a feeble star’s light is to the sun. Just as the light of the star fades and becomes invisible in the brilliance of the noonday sun, so does my sarcasm remain undetected in the presence of the overwhelming power of Julia’s.

      Also, as partners and parents, if there is to be any balance in our world, I can’t let my sarcasm have free rein. I have to be the foil, the complement, the counterbalance. And I don’t mind so much. I get to enjoy the barbed wit and sarcastic edginess that Julia exhibits without having to experience any of the angst out of which it comes.

  4. Julia says:

    I am legend.

    Charles, if you’re ever sitting between us, I think there would be a rupture in the space-time continuum. Or at least a big swirl of sarcasm that would scorch the earth for miles in every direction.

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