Pa Rock's Ramble began in November of 2007 as I was sitting around my lonely apartment in Goodyear, Arizona, one evening, surfing the Internet and reading a few blogs. The notion suddenly occurred to me that I was capable of doing some blogging on my own. I had no idea of where to start, but already being a Google user, I wound up at their blogging website, Blogspot. The instructions for getting started were simple, so easy that I soon had posted a few paragraphs regarding my enthusiasm for Barack Obama's presidential candidacy.
Soon I was trying to post something every evening. I branched out from politics to include personal history - such as my memories of seeing country legend June Carter in small concert a year before she became Mrs. Johnny Cash. It wasn't long before a few friends and family members began reading the blog on a regular basis, and I began to feel an obligation to them to keep typing. On those evenings when the spirit didn't move me, I posted writings from earlier in my life. (The thirty-some Rusty Pails pieces from when I was an actual newspaperman got me through many dry spells at the Ramble!)
But even with the backlog of years of writing scraps, there were evenings when I just couldn't get a posting onto the blog. When that happened one of my kids (the one who writes professionally) would email (or call) the next morning asking if anything was wrong. Feeling guilty, I would try to make up for the omission by posting two the next day. At some point early on, I challenged myself to do a solid year of at least one posting a day. By the time that year was up, the habit of putting up a new post daily had become ingrained in my psyche. Now, in some twisted way, it is almost therapeutic!
I developed a couple of regular features that also served to provide grist for columns. When the Ramble was barely a few weeks old, I inaugurated "Pa Rock's Dead Pool," an annual contest for readers that has survived through the years. I also began "Monday's Poetry," which features a poem that I find moving or interesting on most Mondays.
Arizona, being Arizona, is always ripe for ridicule, so the shenanigans of our state leaders became a very fertile ground for things to write about. On any slow news pay, there is always a Joe Arpaio or Jan Brewer outrage just waiting to be run through my cynical filter and shared with readers of the Ramble. Joe and Jan truly are gifts that keep on giving! Mitt Romney, "Mr. 47%", was also a gift!
The most widely read posting of the past five-plus years was a mini-biography of an Arizona politician - a very positive piece that I wrote about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a year or so before the tragic shooting in Tucson. My posting was entitled simply "Gabrielle Giffords." It was not widely read at the time of publication, but over a thousand readers visited that piece after she was shot. It became a place to go to learn more about Gabby.
I published two articles on the rich and complicated language of H.P. Lovecraft over the years, and those continue to attract new readers on a regular basis.
Another interesting piece that I wrote was on the disappearance of Kansas teenager, Randy Wayne Leach. It draws regular visitors from all over the world. (Randy, a high school senior, disappeared from a party over two decades ago and was never heard from again. My son, Tim, wrote a play about his disappearance which was produced by a theatre group at the University of Kansas, and through that project he and I became friends with Randy's parents, Harold and Alberta Leach.)
And there were also original stories and poems, as well as reviews of plays, movies, television shows, and books - and a whole assortment of things that were of enough interest to me to warrant inclusion in the blog.
Time has marched on, and still I bang out an entry every day. This one is number 2,000!
My plan for the time being is to keep on meeting my personal goal of posting daily. As folksinger Arlo Guthrie proclaimed near the end of his very long and wonderful song, Alice's Restaurant, "I ain't proud - or tired!"
There is no pay for this effort, just the satisfaction of meeting a goal and the knowledge that I have filed a bit of my story for my grandkids and their grandkids to sift through years from now. I have always enjoyed comments from readers, even the ones that are less than positive, and found that they often elucidate and educate. I have even made a few new friends along the way and reconnected with some old ones. So I guess I have been "paid" for my efforts.
Thanks for hanging in there with me!