Quora Top Question Writer 2017


The package waited for my return from work. Climbing the front steps I heard soggy brown protests whimpering in Vancouver rain. No measure of weather beaten packaging could dampen the moment. I scooped it inside, knowing full well my Quora Top Writer 2017 Patagonia jacket had arrived.

Several years ago a friend introduced me to Quora. A few days later I posted https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/quora/ on this blog. Asking questions that cross my mind, answering others when I have something to contribute, my followers grew to a few hundred. I won’t lie – my top three questions garnering over 5 million views combined, puffed the old chest.

Last December Quara Admin sent a private message, reading in part –

“Congratulations! You’ve been named as a Top Question Writer for 2017.

You should see a Top Question Writer icon on your profile page that indicates you are part of the 2017 class of Quora Top Question Writers.

Quora has chosen you in recognition of your unique contribution to the Quora community. Among the considerations were the consistency, quality, and thoughtfulness of your questions over the last year.”

The message went on to list questions deemed worthy of recognition, conspicuous absence of most viewed questions didn’t help confusion – I have 179 followers, what are you talking about? Mailing a Patagonia jacket, invited to annual conference in New York… Stop! Was I nominated, is this a big Quora deal? Time for a little research.

Launched in 2009, Quora reports 100 million visitors a month, over 40 million users in America alone. In 2012, the first Top Writers were named – that part was easy. Further investigation revealed my soggy brown package was a big deal. A multi faceted conclusion based on Quora’s reluctance to provide recipient stats, abundant chatter indicating annual honorees number between 500-1000 worldwide and scores of  queries on what it takes to be named a Top Writer. None of which matters to anyone but myself, recipient of a soggy brown package confirming I’m a Quora Top Writer.

 

Home Without Punctuation


Above the cacophony of a whirlwind trip to Saskatchewan, home finds me pondering an unexpected gift. One uninterrupted day, spent not with an 80 year old blind woman, but with Margaret – poet, author, artist and philosopher, who happens to be my mother. Her poem Case Histories languished in faded mimeograph purple, forty years of solitary card-board box confinement. A sheet of yellowing paper atop hundreds of short stories, poems and drawings. “Read it to me” she said, “I wrote it without punctuation”.

Case Histories

1.

I cant stand this too splendid too pale believe me Ill leave him I mean it all this marble this alabaster these pearls these sly opals winking weak colors through their milk the food we eat pale splendid food white asparagus tips bleached almonds blanched endive shoots seedless grapes fiddlehead ferns like pale green fetuses on porcelain plates ugh he would faint if he knew how I feel he is so pale and splendid he wont give it a thought his fine chalky hands his long slender back his high arched nose his buttercup hair did you know his hair is thinning what a joke mine is black and thick as ever funny it shames me I tie it up in this snood cant do a thing with my red ladyapple cheeks I frighten him he would like to coop me up my crystal case take me out every six months for that butterfly brush he calls a kiss he is the sick one strokes that fool milk eyed steed leans dreaming against its flank splendid pale

and so I do not think I will ever have a child what will I do what will I do my mother had a trick with a needle prick prick prick snow ebony blood and presto she had me Ive tried it nothing so far I hate embroidary

not a little girl I want a little boy nut brown hair russet skin dark merry eyes blunt hands sturdy legs blustery laugh yes yes yes I know where this comes from what of it

in my dreams Im in the forest the cottage glows with lamplight Im cooking vegetables decent turnips in an iron pot roasted potatoes chickpeas gravy a haunch of venison all juice blackberry wine mulled cloves cinnamon nutmeg the little men come in hooded happy I bend for their rough kiss beards tickle breath warm innocent they open their pockets rubies garnets sardonyx  hematite cairngorm all still in the matrix all unpolished all glinting

oh doctor I was rich the night dark as amethyst the firelight like toast no sign of the witch no sign of the prince

Margaret waits til I finish then asks me to keep her writing when she’s gone. “I know you’re the one person who’ll appreciate it”.  I’ll make sure nothing happens to it, but believe me – my appreciation has company.

Norbert Zerbes


Ponder inexplicable coincidence, a tale of odd circumstance that began with the name Norbert Zerbes. A few days ago a friend emailed the following….

“I had a very odd WordPress related encounter yesterday while searching for the name ‘Norbert Zorbes’ on Google.   Norbert, as his business card proclaims, is ‘The German Watchmaker’.    Uli put me on to him when I had problems with my watch a year or two ago.    I had to hunt him down then because he had moved his shop from where Uli thought it was.   He works now out of a tiny shop/office in a tiny arcade fronted by a coffee shop on Homer at Davie.  Last summer he fixed my sister’s slate clock ( a sentimental treasure from English Lakeland)  which I brought over from Sechelt and he also quickly and cheaply fixed problems with two watches of mine.  At Christmas I learned that the hour hand on my sister’s clock had come loose and was hanging down at 6 o’clock.   I brought it back with me again  –  but I could not find Norbert’s business card to confirm his opening hours and the new location.
As an aside,  this man is the very best in the now rare calling of watchmaker and watch repairs.   If you ever have trouble with a watch or a clock,  be they high end or Timex,  take it to him.  Business card pic attached.
A Google search quickly found the man.  I took the clock to him yesterday and he quickly fixed it free of charge as well as giving me an opinion on my grandfather’s pocket watch ( recently given to me by my sister,  along with its original 1921 receipt!)  He said it was worn out and not worth fixing, as even $500 spent restoring it would result in a pocket watch which kept poor time.
While glancing through the several entries on Google, including a lot of great reviews, I noticed a WordPress entry which made me curious   (linked below).  I opened the link and my interest was immediately piqued by the story.  It appeared to be quite long and well written.  What could this be,  I thought?  Another review, more wordy than the others?  A tribute to the man?  Some unusual background story about his watchmaking skills?    I read on with continuing interest   ……    and then in growing amazement,   finally disbelief!     How could someone write this?   Why would they write it about a deliberately named and unmistakably real living person  –   right next to business listing and reviews of his work.”
Yesterday, I found time to click on friend’s link – holy crap. ( link below )
I left WordPresser greenmansvoice a message. This morning he replied – “Wow ! You mean there is a real Norbert Zerbes, watchmaker!?!”
 

Notes Turns Two


I almost forgot Ponder’s birthday – Mother’s Day 2012, my daughter sent me an email asking that I log in to a wordpress account. Never having heard of wordpress, knowing only that she had my complete trust, I obliged by clicking on the link and entering our trusty old family code word to pass the gates of ho-hum into “where have you been all my life?”.

I can’t take credit for my first post – it met me at my wordpress gate,  posted by my daughter based on a story I told her a few days earlier. It stoically boasts one “like” and seventy five “views”.

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/transactions-of/

My daughter claimed there was far too much rattling about my head and I needed an outlet. Wading cautiously forward, I had the advantage of exploration – no expectations, preconceived ideas, or notion of grandeur. I wasn’t plotting a path of clicks and views, didn’t contemplate strategies aimed at monetary gain or methodically increase my presence. My “about” page, kept brief, vague and on point – simply a post a day, something to think about, talk about, learn more about. Reluctant to divulge personal information, self consciously I began to write for the first time in thirty years.

Shaky at first, not sure where it would take me, I posted meat and potatoes snippets I found fascinating. Clinging to my knowledge of ancient history – Gobekli Tepe, Derinkuyu, Peri Reis, Hypogeum of Malta, and Mica lined Pyramid of the Sun. Terrified I might be “pegged” a bat shit alien conspirator or crystal fondling numerologist, I tested the waters of space weather wing nut by posting on the Carrington Event, meteor showers, and to cascading groans of my family – solar flare alerts.

Six months later, not a soul outside my family knew about my blog. One night, well into a bottle of wine I found the courage to hit “publish” on something terrifying – a personal story. I held my breath, briefly paralyzed by second thoughts. None the least of which – it wasn’t particularly well written. I’ve left it alone, resisting the urge to fuss and polish the rather childish story because it was the turning point. I relaxed, told friends about my blog and never looked back.

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/regret/

I never know what I’m going to write, don’t apologize for who I am and care little for pointless mud slinging. What astounds and warms the tip of my toes are the remarkable people I’ve met along the way. I consider myself lucky to have found a little rut to run in. People who know me only through wordpress likely know me better than those who have known me for years. This is who I am – I’ve grown immeasurably in two years and can only daydream of where it will take me. Thank you wordpress.

 

Tin Box


The tin box caught my eye; bravely perched atop piles of garbage, discarded clothing and broken furniture. It was old, probably 50’s or 60’s, a bread box in it’s day; the kind of box that sat on your grandmother’s kitchen counter. Discarded behind a derelict house; tossed out in haste or aggression, left to fend for itself in the driving rain.

My fondness for vintage nick knacks brought the car to a stop, I tossed it into the trunk with nary a thought to the contents or owner. I hadn’t noticed the weight of abandoned tin box, it didn’t occur to me to look inside . I confess it lay forgotten, weeks passed before remembering to take a look, what I discovered broke my heart – I had become the caretaker of another’s life.

This wasn’t something a person discarded when cleaning out the closet or packing for a move. Tin box protected a family history; decades of photographs and letters – smiling faces of those who have come and gone, birthday cards, best wishes lacking any hint of origin. Familiar words intended for those who had no use for envelopes with return addresses or last names. A tin guardian lost forever.

Tin box rests undisturbed in my basement; I’ve pondered long and hard how it ended up in that alley, asked myself if someone came looking for it, and agonized over my rash decision to toss it in the car. Tin box refuses to reveal a single clue as to where it came from, who might be missing it or how I can return  it safely to anyone who cares. I suspect the demise of tin box was ugly – likely a casualty of circumstance – testament to a life gone astray.

In my heart I know tin box would have gone to the dump had I not thrown it in my trunk. I understand lives fallen off the rails, tin boxes the least of your worries.  All the same – my sincerest apology tin box, I had no idea how valuable you were. I’ll keep you safe and warm and promise not to use you as a flower pot. My hope your owner has their life together is sincere, your treasure testament to a once happy family – a family that loved the one who saw you languish in that dark, forlorn alley.

Vintage bread box – sadly not my tin box since my camera is acting up, but very close to my treasured burden. Photo from primrose.blogspot.com

Pachamama


In Ecuador Mother Nature is Pachamama – she now has constitutional rights. In 2008 65% of Ecuador’s population voted in favour of re-writing the constitution, giving legal rights to Pachamama. Her new bill of rights was written by a group from Pennsylvania, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).

CELDF wrote –  “nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.”

Ecuador’s president Raphael Correa dubbed his countries new approach “living well”. One of the smallest, poorest countries in South America, oil production is the life blood of Ecuador’s economy. Millions of barrels of oil beneath rain forests so ecologically diverse – one hectare contains more species of trees than all of North America.

Here’s the catch – Ecuador estimates oil worth $3.6 billion pool beneath Yasuni National Park. Correa asked the world to pay Ecuador, half the value of oil reserves in exchange for keeping it in the ground. His rational – global benefits of preserving Pachamama, far out weigh short term financial gain for Ecuador. So far 300 million dollars has been raised.

Correa’s forward thinking blows me away – 30% live below the poverty line, yet this tiny nation supports initiatives to preserve and dignify Pachamama.  Ecuador’s innovative, refreshingly simple plan serves to remind us – change is possible.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/what-if-mother-nature-had-rights-she-does-in-ecuador/article7039202/

Yasuni National Park – Bing images

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