Sorry about my over-long absence – it’s been so long that the interface WordPress shows me is unfamiliar, and I’m distracted by its novelty and the maintenance backlog —and more ideas of things to do on this blog.

In both 2019 and 2020 I had the intention to write much more, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I’d log in, do the routine maintenance, and then a strong bout of snooziness would overtake me. And the longer I failed to do something new and different here, the more I felt guilty. Not posting when-I-could-have is a lost opportunity to show at least several hundred people the beneficial things I’d learned that they might try, or some of the fun stuff I’d been up to.

The fact is, I’ve already set up my home with bird strike-proofing. I have a garden that grows food (or…not; last summer I got a grand total of 6 apple-sized tomatoes and maybe a pint basket of autumn-green, kitchen-ripened cherry tomatoes), flowers, and native plants. These activities may not be common, but they’re as quotidian to me as going through the motions of private daily life. So writing about them isn’t a constant source of inspiration like they were when I was adopting new, green practices. They feel more like empty bragging: look what I have; hope you can do the same!

Also, since 2015 on this blog, I’ve been offering on a part-time, catch-as-catch-can basis to help people who’d like to convert their yards and driveways or apply window treatments to stop killing birds. The only inquiries I’ve received haven’t been relevant.* The blog hasn’t created any employment or form of income. This isn’t to say that blogging’s been a waste of time; my original reason for blogging still stood: posting what I found interesting, testifying in support of the pro-bird, pro-environment research. But a sales vehicle, it is not.

DIYs abound on the things I do, notably from mature organizations. The National Wildlife Federation, Canadian Wildlife Federation, American Bird Conservancy, the Xerces Society for insects and invertebrates, Flap Canada (Fatal Light Awareness Program), the National Audubon Society, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology all promote native plant gardening or bird strike prevention or both. Awareness has been raised! I’m offering only what influence and social proof a blog can offer to the benefits of being this way as well as doing these things.

It’s also true that a lot of good work is done for free or on a goodwill basis, and yet still gets indirectly recorded in figures that add up to a social benefit and positive impact in the national GDP. One example I’ve seen from 80,000 Hours is that a charitable/non-profit/voluntary spend of $2 can end up having $50 of social benefit. So even if I haven’t received a monetary benefit here, and no one has engaged me to help them convert over to these (necessary!) green practices, I can reasonably hope I’ve contributed to an overall cultural change, and a mitigating, or positive, effect in the areas I’ve focused on.

Services still available…

If someone were to say “Hey, I want to do this, can you help me?” then I would, if you need me. Most of the efforts and adaptations here you can do by yourself, but depaving a driveway and putting in its replacement still requires planning, labour, and tools. And then we plant it, and you take it from there.

Personally, I’ve had no trouble at all, none, since I made my driveway green in 2015. I mow it a couple of times in the growing season. I enjoy admiring it, letting the neighbourhood meet and greet my rabbits when they come out and play, and sometimes I let people use it as a parking space. Come winter, I use less than 2 cups of salt and about 4 cups of sand over the entire winter to keep my front walk from being slippery for the postman. A container of road salt lasts me for many years. This saves the yard and the street and our waterways from salinity pollution; mostly, it saves me trouble, at little cost.

You can also do a lot of good by resisting the status-quo “expertise” pressure when the service people you hire for your landscaping try to keep doing what they’ve always done. I still occasionally find a business card in my mailbox from some contractor who thinks my driveway would suit him best if it were paved. Conventional landscaping is too often terrible; trying to imitate it without the know-how then leads people to overdo it, and chop down every growing thing in sight.

You have ready access to all the knowledge you need to make your world verdant. You are the protector of your property and all the things that can live on it and make it enjoyable. You’re the instigator of positive change in your neighbourhood.

…while I’m doing other things (2021 and beyond)

In 2020, everyone had to shut down activities in the face of uncertainty about human interaction. Now, it’s true: blogs are kinda passive; they don’t require much human interaction. But even with the niggling intention to do something for the blog, I just needed, wanted, couldn’t help but, redirect my attention to things where, having put them away while pursuing other work, I was finally allowed to catch up.

And thank God we all were forced to stop busy-work, stop socializing, and stop “networking” last year (scare quotes because: most networking is logging the existence of the people you meet in a personal raising-awareness campaign.) It finally enabled our latent and long-desired-but-not-permitted ability to Work From Home and travel less (and therefore reduce congestion, pollution, and unnecessary energy use). It made me realize how much our every day, enforced sociability and FOMO was literally killing time, preventing reflection, and obscuring focus. Turning my back on public and equivalent digital life did me a world of good.

For right now, I can only promise to continue keeping the blog up for your perusal and research, and if I find something new or interesting to show, I’ll post it here or on my social media channels.

And one more thing before I go:

Renting it all out

All along, I’ve been an AirBnB host, renting out the homestead for a month in the summer to afford traveling somewhere else (since 2016: Oregon and California, England and France, and Boston). At other times, I’ve rented out a room (or two) on a short to mid-term basis. I’m now ready and willing to rent my home out for six full months of the year, preferably in 2-to-4 month periods in the spring, summer, and autumn, with a one-month intermission or house swap possible for an escape during the winter (I love winter and plan on being here from October to March, but with a planned getaway).

This may or may not be with the resident rabbits – lots to discuss – but it comes with the garden and the fish in the pond out back.

So, if ever you’re looking for a home-away-from-home during the warm half of the year, consider here a possibility. I love hosting people and I’m also itching to travel, both in Canada and, when international bans are lifted, worldwide. Having someone else enjoy the garden and the resident or local wild beasts would make me very happy. And you, too.

Now that I’ve shared all this, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And job done, maybe now I’ll take a short snoozy nap.

* All inquiries I’ve gotten on the blog have been from other content producers and associated business services.

More about that: bloggers and businesses that create or aggregate home-based blog content often write to seek a content boost, where they offer a social media post on my behalf in exchange for backlinks that would boost their page legitimacy in the SEO rankings. You can’t blame them for reaching out – helping other bloggers succeed is part of the game of building an online platform! However, participating in an unequal exchange such as this is kinda like paying $12 a month for a Yellow Pages subscription (which I did in 2016) in hope of having customers find your services, only to get phone calls from web development businesses who want to build you a website –  which you already have.

The moral of the story: The money to be made in the online content industry is the same as in the old-time gold rush: selling tools to prospectors. So blog if you love it. Invest some money in it, in order to save yourself time and expand the possibility of a bigger audience. Blog for business if you have a strong content plan and a team to help you. But if you have a business: focus on the business, and let the blog fit itself into that.

jane Sorensen