From Theme to Shining Theme


This LEGO sculpture was part of a Sean Kenney exhibit at the Arboretum last November. All other pictures were taken October 2, 2014. Kenney takes LEGO creativity to a new level.

As any child who has ever built a LEGO set under my roof knows, I have compulsive tendencies. Woe to the child who skips a step in building his X-Wing fighter or–unthinkable–attempts to make his own design without first assembling the figure as laid out in the instruction booklet. I have even gone so far as to order missing pieces from the LEGO company. Once the prepackaged creation–an oxymoron, I admit–has been assembled, I accept that I must allow the toy to function as a toy. On principle, though, I prefer to follow steps in the correct order (a preference that has resulted in conflict with my husband, who turns to the directions when all else fails).


Quilt garden at the Arboretum

And so, in my dilatory but determined progress through Blogging 101, I came to Assignment 5 and felt compelled to complete this exercise if for no other reason than that it was the next step in the plan. I felt unenthusiastic because this assignment involved change: experimenting with three different “themes.” For the non-blogging reader, a blogger chooses the header, page layout, menus, and so on when she sets up the blog. There are over 290 themes here at WordPress. Not all themes are free, and, given that I was unsure how long I’d stick with this gig, “free” was my prime consideration when I became a blogger.DSCN0464

Anxious to get my blog set up, I had settled quickly on Twenty Ten, which allowed me to upload a header image; the title’s white default font, however, did not show up well over the photo, making my quotation hard to read. I had headed back to the theme showcase and chosen the first theme I found that would give me both a custom header and a visible title. Big Brother did the job, although the title font seemed a bit utilitarian.  After a week or so, I was used to it, but I had been bothered by my inability to use a featured image. Still, playing with different themes takes time. Was tweaking something that wasn’t broken worth the effort? On the Commons, I had read about bloggers trying to go back to their original themes and having to start from scratch. This worried me.

DSCN0453But the theme assignment was before me, with no way around it: I had to go through it. I was emboldened because of another blogger’s explanation of how to restore a theme. Counting Big Brother as my first experiment, I had to try only two more. So–deep breath–I set off to find a theme. By filtering the themes according to features that I wanted, I narrowed down the field to 78. I still had some browsing to do. Finally, I got out a notebook, archaic though it felt, and wrote down a few themes to try. It did take time, and I had to backtrack from activation more than once. After Twenty Twelve, Simplicity, and Widely all let me down, I was on the verge of restoring Big Brother, when I spied Able. I liked the preview well enough to activate it and have decided to keep it.

DSCN0442DSCN0437Once again, it seems that the folks writing the Blogging 101 assignments know what they are doing. Able is working far better for me than Big Brother did. I like the way my title looks. I can customize my header and my font color. I can feature an image when I publish my posts. While noticeable to me, the changes probably seem insignificant to others, but maybe that is the easiest way to approach change: one step at a time–one shade darker here, one shade lighter there.

DSCN0469With the assignment done, I felt so light-hearted that I proposed a walk at the Arboretum to my husband and son. There, the gradual move into autumn is changing the look of things.  The color changes are subtle in the woods, but, slowly, the greens are giving way to reds, oranges, and yellows.  Since it was late on a week day, we had the place almost to ourselves and could enjoy a quiet walk, drenched in the afternoon sunlight.

One incidental felicity of our visit to the Arboretum was an indoor exhibit on deep-sea exploration that my fourth grader found fascinating. He and his father had fun trying to piDSCN0444ck up a sponge with a robotic arm like the one recently attached to Alvin, a submersible that helped to photograph the Titanic. Science lesson for the day? Check!


Although the Arboretum grounds are open until 7, the exhibits close at 5, so I had time for only one bonsai photo.

Although David would have happily remained at the Extreme Deep exhibit for another hour, I welcomed the time when the curator ushered us out of the building and back into the sunshine. My husband and I are going to enjoy our year’s membership at the Arboretum, an anniversary gift from our children. Nothing clears away the cobwebs like a walk in the woods.

One challenge down–for the moment, at any rate. In the wonderful world of WordPress, nothing is set in stone. Who can say that I won’t find a theme that I like better next month? For now, I can stroll past the reddening leaves of the dogwood and take cheer from the yellow daisies, knowing that today’s decision is behind me.

Note to the Reader: as of late October 2014, Able no longer appears to support a Featured Image.


14 thoughts on “From Theme to Shining Theme

  1. Pingback: Retreating to the Trees | sappy as a tree: celebrating beauty in creation

  2. Pingback: Finding Words for Spring | sappy as a tree: celebrating beauty in creation

  3. I noticed your tree photo in your banner right away — is that one of the changes from your theme assignment? Lovely. I’ve tinkered with my blog so much over the years. So much. I change my banner photo fairly often, but keep the title, the quote, and the font the same. I hope you enjoy the fiddling you’ve had to do. I found it eventually to be a very creative part of blogging. Don’t know how it all works in WordPress (your terms are new to me), but assume it’s somewhat the same as blogger. I enjoyed this sentence: “Nothing clears away the cobwebs like a walk in the woods.” Made me think of Bilbo in Mirkwood!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha to your Bilbo comment: those were some pretty big cobwebs in Mirkwood! Yes, I did change my banner–or header, as we call it in WP World: it’s supposed to randomly go between a few photos of trees. The next day, we were supposed to personalize even more, but my experiments in that area fell flat.

      I love the look of your blog, MK–and I usually notice (and enjoy) the banner change. Some day, I want to come visit Oriental!


  4. Enjoyed this, Sandi. Can appreciate your word work to get through the assignment. I sometimes wonder if, in our late forties/early fifties, we are somehow craving college-like assignments again, perhaps for self-approval? A sense of authority guiding us? I don’t know … Your photos and descriptions of the arboretum are beautiful and so relaxing. I was just in Asheville today and saw signs for the arboretum. Didn’t go to it today, but have wonderful memories of its peaceful forest walks and gardens. A walk in the forest will truly restore your soul and clear your mind. Maybe even a new theme with WordPress will approach that kind of serenity, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good call, Deborah: it is a coastal California redwood in Muir Woods (I still haven’t made it to Sequoia National Park or Yosemite–maybe one day).

    With Blogging 101, I keep having to tell myself, “No one is grading this.” Old habits die hard–same with finishing books (although I have a stack of half-started ones on my bedside table).


  6. I fiddled with the appearance of my blog a little in changing the header image. I love trees and love the tree in your header. It looks like a redwood. I changed my font as a result of accidentally hitting a key while working on a draft and the font became very tiny and I could not change it back so I picked a new one. 🙂 I have decided not to do some of the assignments because I have already been doing them by myself after starting my blog. But I can relate to this in a way. It is to me like starting a book and finding you do not really like it. I used to force myself to finish the book. Finish what you start. But now I have begun returning them to the library. I do not want to waste time and I have a stack of other books to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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