Sunday, February 27, 2011

That was some decade!

For some reason, this past month has been calm and quiet enough that it has sent me looking out the back windows and thinking about the decade we closed in the end of December. I don't think I've ever done that before. There were years that ended with a wiping of the brow and a "good riddance" from me, but in my personal 5 and a half decades, I've never looked at one as a chunk of time before.
The "aughts" were quite a gang. I haven't decided completely if they were a gang of thugs or a gang of friends. Personally and in the world, so much has changed in such a small period of time. Without a doubt, this gadget I am thumping away on is the chief cause of much of it. It is difficult even to remember life before!
Up until 1999, my sister and I had a brick and mortar shop with a website AND a cart, and we were pretty far ahead of the pack in that regard. At least 50% of the country still wasn't online. Almost all business was conducted via fax or telephone, and very few suppliers had sites (or email). If they did, they didn't have online shopping capabilities. We knew all of our suppliers from talking to them over the phone or meeting them in person at conferences and festivals. It was not unusual to drop a letter in the mail to request a catalog, since not all businesses list phone numbers.
After a brief business hiccup, the magazine was started in '02 and did not have an on-line presence for a full year. Can you imagine? I traveled to as many herbal events as possible, and used a few other tricks, but looking back... it was a rough time to get traction. That was the year I met my sweetheart, and without im's and emails it's hard to imagine how we could have made it work. In fact, it occasionally amazes me to think about the people I converse with on a given day, and how many continents they come from. This is nothing for someone under 30, but for those of us who remember not being allowed to talk to the kid a town over on the phone because of long-distance charges, this is nothing short of a miracle. As late as '99, we were dialing an 800 number and a 5 digit code prior to dialing a long distance number in order that it would only cost 5 cents a minute.
By '05 the blog was up and running and things started to really take off. '05 was a big year. Mom died and we moved into this house. Molly changed schools. The magazine was now large enough for bulk mailing rates. We could write about the gardens here and post pictures. We added recipes and instructions, tutorials and poems... We fell in love with blogging and were reaching more people through the magazine than ever. We started meeting lots of herbies who send interesting, unique articles for each new issue. Heady stuff!
The next year my brother moved in here for a 3+ year losing battle with liver disease. That was a true learning experience. Some things were just clearly reinforced. For instance, when I gave birth to Molly, motherhood was a struggle. Not because I didn't care enough, but because I too closely identify with whoever is in my care. To this day, if Molly (20) needs to blow her nose, *I* sniff. Taking care of my sister's dog while she's away this weekend, I woke up several times at night wondering how difficult it is for him to wait until morning, both mornings dragging on clothes and going to let him out long before the sun came up. Some people think I am cold and don't have pets out of selfishness. The truth is that it's too darned painful. So anyhow, you can extrapolate from those things just how challenging it was to care for a terminally ill sibling. I've already forgotten more about the horrors of liver disease than I ever thought I'd have to know. Certainly the internet helped us take care of him, and even keep him alive longer. We found information and got guidance that was truly helpful. When he didn't make it, the internet was filled with solace and kind words.
As the decade grew older, my child got her driver's license (we had to schedule the test on-line), moved from high school to college (applications for everything - on-line), and has become a fairly independent, strong, interesting woman.
Facebook arrived somewhere in there, and brought along vast amounts of information and news of current events. Actual news from either the TV or newspapers is bland and passe, while there is no end to the information available on-line. The business page for the magazine has been so much fun to work on! Now that I'm getting the knack of it, something new will surely come along that I will need to figure out.
This morning I was reading a trade journal (print, btw) on computer mechanics and the notes from the editor concerned when they would eventually switch to an on-line magazine rather than print. It's a little odd that they are just now having this conversation considering the material inside... and they are working with information gathered during a '06 survey. Four years in that decade might as well have been 25 years in the first half of my life.
Eventually it will be a conversation I will have to have with my readers too. Probably mid-decade, I assume. The post office may not even exist by then, and what about printers? If you think I'm exaggerating about the post office, ask a 20-something when they last mailed something. Ask them how much the postage is for a one ounce letter.
So... that was some decade, wasn't it?
We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of heartache. And now we're ready to see what this decade has to throw at us. I'm afraid this will be the decade during which I learn that I can learn no more :-).
So often while we were growing up, we marveled at our grandparents and how they watched as cars replaced horses and buggies, and men went to the moon. They didn't make it to see computers. Mom just barely made it to the emailing era. What miracles will our children see?

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