Blockheads and Daffodils

Which is more depressing, forty days of rain or using the new WordPress Block/Gutenberg editor?

Even the daffodils are depressed

Unlike Enchanted April (link to last blog), this past April has been anything but enchanting.   Day after day of rain and gloomy skies – on Tuesday we even had a bit of sleet, and some places received several inches of snow.   These cold wet late springs are beginning to be the norm here, and it seems you need to book a vacation to an Italian castle if you want to enjoy nice weather and blooming flowers in April anymore.    Despite the debate over climate change, it does make you stop and think – are we ruining the earth?    It’s enough to make you depressed, like poor old Charlie Brown of the Peanuts cartoon fame – remember how Lucy was always calling him a blockhead.

Which brinks me to my second topic, the new WordPress block editor or Gutenberg Editor, as it is named after Johannes Gutenberg, who invented a printing press with movable type more than 500 years ago.    If you are not familiar with it yet, each paragraph, photo, video etc, is contained in it’s own separate block, and there is an option to try out this new Editor on the right hand menu in Draft. Since we are all (sooner or later), to be made mandatory Blockheads by WordPress, you may now have another reason to be depressed other than the weather, unless of course you’re the kind of person who enjoys coding and fiddling with layouts.   If you’re just here for the joy of blogging, then it seems like the new editor has taken all the fun out of it.    I’m not sure how they managed to take something so simple (writing and inserting pretty pictures) and make it so complicated.    Of course, I may change my mind once I get used to it, but it seems to be taking twice as long to do anything, if you can even figure it out in the first place.    On my first try I could not even paste in the draft I had written in Office Word.   I had heard that it would automatically convert it to blocks so I wouldn’t have to copy and paste each paragraph individually.   Was I not in the right block? I finally gave up and tried to exit back to the Classic Editor but could not find the button.    I googled and read the tutorial and tried to contact a Happiness Engineer to no avail, and after wasting an hour finally located it at the bottom of some sub-menu.   Intuitive it is not.   Perhaps hiding the button was deliberate, thereby forcing me to stay here until I figured it out, but the hour grew late and I was starting to panic. It was like being in one of those reality “escape room” games where you have to figure out the clues or you’d be stuck there forever.     

When I first joined WordPress almost two years ago, there were 32 million followers on here, now there are 52 million.     I’m not sure what is behind their reason for the change to the block format (could it be the new European copyright laws coming?), but I would bet the majority of those on here are either amateur bloggers or smaller business sites, who don’t want, have the time or even care about how they can endlessly change and create new layouts by moving blocks around.    It’s a puzzle to me, but then I am only a very small tadpole in a great big pond.    I checked a recent survey though, 1800 of 2700 users who had tried it were not happy, so I don’t think I’m alone.    It would be nice if WordPress would leave us the option to continue with the current Classic editor, if that is a possibility?  (Asking nicely here, but not really expecting a positive response, as they didn’t listen about the dark blue likes and links which don’t contrast well to black ink.)     

Ah well, the second attempt was better, but I watched a youtube tutorial first to get the basics. I’m sure there are many more icons and features I will need to know at some point, like just exactly how did I do the links? The captions were fun though. I’ll try it out to see if it will solve the problem of my very thin font with the Sela theme…(it did not, although I was allowed to make it larger). I’ll even try a background color, maybe yellow….pretty fancy eh? (Except it’s not really yellow, it’s called luminous vivid amber.) But good grief Charlie Brown, it’s just not worth all the grief. I think I would prefer to remain Glutenberg-free! Now where is that exit button again?

To cheer up I went for a walk in the woods.   Here’s a link to last years blog, Among the Daffodils, because daffodils always remind me of sunshine, and we need some right now.  

see how late the spring is, not a bud on the trees.
now this is yellow!
woodland fairyland

PS.  Have you tried the new Gutenberg/Block Editor yet? 

Signs of Spring

Spring is late again this year.  Having survived a particularly brutal winter, which started early and never let up, we’re all tired of the snow and the cold, and anxious for the first signs of spring.   So, here’s my take on the Six on Saturday Garden post….   

March 20 – The first official day of spring – saw my first robin, who was uncooperative for a photo-shoot, hopping away every time I got near.  Unfortunately the zoom lens on my camera is broken so this is as close as I got.  Robin

March 22 –  The tulip and daffodil tips are peeking through on the south side of the house and some of the rose bush stems are starting to turn green.

daffodil tips

March 23 – Went out for a walk for the first time in weeks, the wind was cold but the sun was bright, and the neighbor’s snowdrops were out in full force.  

snowdrops

March 25 – The Angry Bird  – I opened the front door to check the temperature this morning and saw the morning doves have returned.   One was sitting on the front step, looking quite perturbed now that it has to find a new place to nest.   They are life long lovers and creatures of habit, but as they didn’t build a nest last year I thought it was safe to install new light fixtures.    I’m feeling guilty but my new lights are so much nicer than the old.  

Morning Doves

Mr. And Mrs. Lovebird

light fixture

March 26 –  So nice to see a blue sky again, especially against a budding maple tree.Blue sky and maple buds

March 27 –  saw my first crocus while returning a book to the library.   Their flower beds are always gorgeous because they have professional gardeners maintain them.  

crocus

March 28 – first spring-like day, 15 C, and first milkshake from the Dairy Queen –  chocolate of course.   Drove home with the windows down.  Dairy Queen Milkshake

March 29 – The ice is gone from the river and the sunlight is sparkling on the water again.    river view

March 30 – our first all day spring rain flooded the back forty, but brought a tinge of green to the grass.  spring rain

March 31 – brought a return to winter and a couple of inches of snow – the robin was not amused.    The snow hung around for a more few days – is this some kind of April Fools joke? Robin

A pot of hyacinths can provide a small dose of beauty, hyacinth

while we wait for this.        

Daffodils and hyacinths

What wonderful sights await us in a few more weeks.   Happy Spring!   

Enchanted April

“To those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine.  Small medieval Italian castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April. Necessary servants remain.  Z, Box 1000, The Times.”

Despite being written almost a hundred years ago the book, The Enchanted April, is just as enchanting today.   Four very different women, all unknown to each other in dreary post WW1 Britain, answer an ad for an Italian villa.   Two are married but taken for granted by their husbands, one is single and beautiful but tired of grabby men, and one is a widow facing a sad lonely old age.  They have nothing in common other than they are starved for beauty and love, and for the fresh air and sunshine of the Italian coast.

Italian Villa - AMc - 2015

Italian Villa – 2015

I watched the movie first, before I read the book, which is what I would recommend.   The movie is from 1992 and while film quality has improved tremendously since then, it is still a lovely period drama, (and if I’m ever reincarnated I want to come back with straight black bobbed hair). 

My Good-reads review:

The Enchanted AprilThe Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book, but I had watched the movie first. A timeless tale with a lovely story line and such vivid descriptions of flowers, gardens and beautiful countryside that you almost felt like you were there.
I ordered the book because it is one of those timeless classics you simply have to own.   It was a bestseller in it’s day, 1923, and was based on a month long trip the author, Elizabeth von Arnim, made with her husband to the village of Portofino, Italy, which soon became a famous tourist destination because of the success of the book.  They stayed at the Castello Brown, (now a museum), which is where the movie was filmed seventy years later.

It’s such a charming story, that it might inspire you to grab three of your girlfriends and go off on your own Italian adventure.   Who wouldn’t want to live la dolce vita?

Tuscan Villa - AMc - 2015

Tuscan Villa –  2015

Of course in the book the villa came complete with all the necessary servants, so hiring a chef to do the cooking would be the sensible thing to do.  (You could invite Amal for tea, she’s British and may be in need of a cuppa and a break from the bambinos).   Isn’t that part of the attraction of period pieces, there was always someone to prepare the meals, wash the dishes, care for the children…..and look after the garden.

It’s not surprising that there were such lovely descriptions of the flowers and grounds in the book, as the author’s first bestseller was Elizabeth and Her German Garden in 1898.   I have not read that one yet, as I plan on reading it outside on the deck whenever it gets warm enough, as inspiration for gardening season.   But I did read her book, The Solitary Summer, last summer which I enjoyed also, which concerned her need for solitude and beauty in the countryside with her April, May and June babies.  Her first best seller was published anonymously, and the subsequent ones as by the author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden.   Because these books are old and often out of print they are best ordered online.

Perhaps there is something about being in such a lovely setting that inspires love.  In the book their husbands became more appreciative, although no one runs off and has an affair, (it was a more decorous time), well only the single one.    I remember reading once in a book on Italy about a medical condition called, Stendhal’s Syndrome, which is an emotional reaction to too much loveliness.   A handful of tourists are treated for this every year in Florence, having been overwhelmed by an excess of beauty.    Finally a medical condition we can all aspire too!   Of course we don’t have to go to Italy to experience beauty in our lives – it is all around us, we just have to pay attention.   Is it possible to surround yourself with an excess of loveliness, especially in a world which so often seems full of evil, hate, and ugliness?   Perhaps not, but  it is an admirable goal to  choose to focus on what is lovely in the world, and so much better for your health!   Buona giornata!

Quote of the Day:   “It is their manners as a whole, their natural ways, bonhomie, the great art of being happy which is here practiced with this added charm, that the good people do not know that it is an art, the most difficult of all.”  (Stendhal on Italy)

Song of the Day:  April Love by Pat Boone