Bitter Grounds Magazine is the latest incarnation of a long line of blogs/magazines I’ve kept since the early days of the public Internet. My first magazine, written specifically for Netscape (the first) had a grey background, no formatting and a lot energy. The undiscovered frontier! Over the decades, the content has evolved from simple personal ramblings and an incoherent jumble to Bitter Grounds. Less a blog and more a magazine showing various interests that include photography, art and stamps and not so much frenetic energy.

Over time, ideas coalesced about what I wanted to do with the website. I wanted to move away from a generic one size fits all blog. I took a year off writing and redesigned the site and changed it to a magazine format. Gone was the dated name Catpaw’s Blog. New name, better categories. My interests centred around typography, design, art, photography and tech. Also gone was the politics. I’m still a very political creature but began to find writing about politics a chore and began dreading it. We’re swamped with politically laced news, Bitter Grounds was to be an oasis of non political content.

Covid changed everything

Covid caused a massive shift in how I viewed Bitter Grounds. During the first month of lockdown, my mom’s health gave out and she died. The single most important person, and someone I had been caring for over the years. We had fun together and her death left a massive void in my life. It was mom who got me hooked on collecting stamps. When I was a child, we would wander around flea markets looking for bargains. One day mom plopped down a hard earned $10 and bought me my first stamp album and gave it to me as a surprise. She thought philately was something I might enjoy. Little did she realise it turned into a life long passion. I can burble on about stamps for hours. 

Sitting with mom during that long week she slowly slipped away was just about the worst time in my life. When I returned to our apartment, the night she died, I sat in the dark for awhile and just stopped thinking. When I woke up I decided to just delete the site. She and I had been planning to do some articles together and suddenly the site just seemed too much. It reminded me of her joy of life too much. Thankfully a friend threatened me if I deleted the site. I remember her words “don’t you dare!”. So I put it aside and just poked at it for months. 

Sometime between October 2021 and Christmas I realised how much joy I got out of writing about stamps. Just what’s new, what I like. It came so easily. I was still playing around with the other content at that time, but it all seemed to remind me too much of mom. Spring of 2021 brought a realisation that made me smile. Not only did I love writing about stamps, but it brought back a sense of joy to me. I remembered rooting around flea markets with mom looking for little bundles of stamps to sort through, or the usual Christmas gift of a stamp block she picked out for me. It took a number of attempts, but I reconfigured Bitter Grounds to reflect my new focus – Philately. 

Yes, gone was all the old content (some may return) and up went article after article. And yes, life started to feel normal again. Being alone during a lockdown without stamps to write about might have been too overwhelming. I relearned the childlike pleasure of looking at stamps & learning about them. Sharing this with an audience brings me a sense of joy that never leaves. 

Mom would be so proud of this site now.