A YEAR AGO TODAY, on the parlor floor of a Brooklyn brownstone, I started this blog. Sitting next to me was web designer Ken Smith, whom I’d hired to show me the ropes. I had a vague notion I ought to start a blog as a way to use the photos of apartments and gardens I’d scouted for magazines, and the notes for stories that never came to be. I didn’t want all that effort to go to waste.
Also, I had just published an article in the New York Times Escapes section about my weekend pastime, looking at old houses for sale. I wanted to keep writing about old-house real estate, and other things, without the hassle of pitching and selling the stories to an editor.
Ken steered me to WordPress.com, then to the Tarski ‘theme’ (design template), and then he opened a blank window called New Post and said, “Type something.” I could have written dfghjklytriuytrdcvbnm,lkjhgfrtyuiopl. Instead, without thinking too much about it, I typed what was top of mind at the time, “ISO The Perfect Beach House,” and casaCARA was on its way.
I invited readers to come along on my beach-house quest. Many have. Down the left-hand column of this page, there’s a number approaching 200,000. That’s cumulative hits, or clicks, over the course of the year, not individuals — but it’s still a lot of people, and I’m grateful to all of you for your readership and support (whoever you are).
My house search ended in May with the purchase of the East Hampton cottage where I now reside in happy exile, but my blog kept going. I’ve learned a lot in the past year, about blogging and about myself. I don’t need to live in New York City, for one thing. I’ve met a lot of creative, interesting, thoughtful people “out here,” and anyway, I like the quiet life. At 3:30PM today, determined to wrest all I could out of the fading afternoon, I spent an hour filling up a giant trash bag with twigs and rotting lengths of wisteria vine. I had so much fun, I vowed to do it every day, weather permitting, from now until springtime.
I realize that pleasures that simple do not a very exciting blog make. Not to worry. I’m going to Spain in January (it was 63 degrees in Seville today), blogging all the way. I pledge to start a Hamptons Voyeur series ASAP, snooping inside people’s homes to see how they’re decorated — continuing what began back in Brooklyn as Brownstone Voyeur. And I’m still forever looking at old houses on the market, because I can’t stop.
I’ve learned not to obsess over stats. My biggest day was back in March, when Brownstoner linked to casaCARA for the first time and I got 1,700 hits. Now I average 600-800/day. Granted, a lot of them are people looking for something on raccoons (my all-time top post is “Midnight Intruder,” about a raccoon break-in.)
Frequently, my motivation flags. At least once a day, I wonder, “Why am I doing this? There’s no money in it.” Then I tell myself, “Just keep going; it’s not yours to wonder why.” Some people enjoy my blog, and that makes me feel good. But it’s not as if I have voices in my head screaming to be heard. It’s more that having a blog keeps me on my toes (literally, trying to peek over gates and fences). It keeps my eyes open, gives me a reason to carry a camera. It’s a platform, structure, communication, fun.
I recommend it.