Spring at LAST!

Check out that blue Colorado December Sky!
My new house in December
Check out that Colorado Sky!

I live in Colorado – which means my absolute glory in hauling landscaping materials may just as quickly turn to the ‘oh crap – they’re buried in snow’ blues when the next spring blizzard hits.

Nevertheless, I’m ready to begin my gardening project.

My first project is to used rammed-earth tires to build raised planting beds up against the house on the east, south and west sides.

My reasons for surrounding my house with garden beds are many:

  • Why spend $600 for gutters, when I can plant my garden where the run-off occurs naturally?
  • Extra insulation will aide in capturing the sun’s warmth in the winter
  • Growing things on trellises at the back of the bed will help cool the house in summer
  • I’m putting old tire waste to good, ecological use
  • A garden right outside the kitchen door – what’s not to love?
  • My garden will be easier to maintain and future owners won’t be tempted to use a gas-guzzling or electricity burning Roto-tiller in it.  (Although, the dudes from that Jackass show may try)
  • I like trying things the neighbors “pooh-pah” about and that I can’t find specific instructions for – makes me happy.

So Friday was spent getting the brick and gravel to fix the ditches near the foundation that the stucco guys left unfilled.

On Saturday, I suckered the child-unit into helping me haul in tires (for free from grateful local mechanics).

Full disclosure – suckering my child-unit into helping me consists of saying, “Please?  Pretty Please?  It’ll be so much more fun and quicker if you help me…What?  No, I meant funner and quicker for me…Yes, I’ll buy you a Gatorade and Sunflower seeds…I’m going to grow sunflower seeds and popcorn for you…yes…they’ll be planted right here and over here…”

I now have all the materials for Stage 1 of the plan – except for the dirt for the beds – which for my complete project plan will run from $1,380 to $2,000, depending on who I buy it from and whether I haul it myself or not.

What happened to “dirt cheap”?

*********

Getting the dirt estimates Friday night sort of put the nix on my ecstatic mood derived from finally starting the project I’ve been dreaming of before I even moved in.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I research ’til I’m blue in the face – I read – learn – ask questions –  use computer-aided drafting tools and databases to plan and cover every contingency.

And then there’s always one little thing I didn’t think about – that usually puts me in a tailspin – this time it was how pricey garden dirt is.

I woke up Saturday morning at 2:47 a.m., wondering whether I should even haul in the tires, as I can’t put them to use until I have dirt to ram into them…

I learned a long time ago the fastest way to get the Universe motivated to help you with a project is to start and let It figure out the details.  Did I not find this house within 36 hours of my decision to move?

Early Saturday morning, we started hauling tires even while my mind was quietly chanting,

“Dirt – Dirt – How am I going to get the Dirt?  Yes, I know, I should have faith – but I was raised that God helps them who help themselves – okay, mustard seed sized faith – I can do that.   See?  I’m hauling the tires.  Please make sure the dirt shows up.  Thank you.”

While unloading tires, magic happened.   As I reached to haul one off the tailgate, what should appear but a Ladybug!   The Guardian Angel for all who play in dirt alighted ever so gently and then sat calmly while I sent the child-unit to “quickly, but quietly” grab my camera so I could take a picture of her.

The Garden Fairy - Ladybug
The Garden Fairy – Ladybug

After posing prettily for the camera, she enjoyed the ride as I ever so gently carried the tire and placed it in the corner-stone position.

I consider my project duly approved and blessed.

I hauled in all the tires to be had –  here’s a shot of my beautiful Easter Lily and you can just make out the stacked tires behind – patiently waiting for dirt.

My "Thank You for Driving Me" gift from Mom.
My “Thank You for Driving Me” gift from Mom.

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Men at Work

Standard Work Signage
Standard Work Signage

I know you’ve seen it.   The long line of traffic, and when you finally get to where the blockage is, there is usually one or two guys working, one guy holding a sign,

“Slow! Men at Work”

and 7-10 other guys standing around trying to look useful.

First, in this day and age, why aren’t signs made,

“Slow! Persons at Work” ?

Or, since apparently literacy is in a downward spiral, a picture of someone, digging a ditch?

I’ll take it one step further – why doesn’t the sign read,

“Slow down – Watch People at Play”

Because the new cultural phenomena is that if you do what you love, the money will follow.   And this phrase has been bandied about for so many decades now, shouldn’t we all be done “Working” and be earning our living by “Playing”?

**********

This musing was brought back on my radar this morning by You Can’t Hide the Spark’s glorious experience of Playing Productively.

I had to comment on her post, because I know from the personal experience of both working and playing that working hard is the least enjoyable of the lot, usually not as productive and how horrible my life was when I actually thought being a “Hard Worker” was laudable.

One of my most cherished writing mentors never told me I was a hard worker – even when she paid me bonuses to stay up all night to help her meet a production deadline when I’d rather be sleeping.

She always just said, “You’re a Producer.”

I liked that, because I produce many things – some are marketable and some are not, but I rarely produce anything that isn’t of some benefit to someone, even if the only someone is me.

Even unemployed, I’m still a Producer.

I really, really endorse the Playful Producer lifestyle.

Sometimes, if you spend your life playing, or adopt the lifestyle of a player (not the kind you’re thinking – get your mind outta the gutter!) there will be those around you that disagree with this lifestyle AND will inform you of the error of your ways.

And usually not in a constructive critiquing manner.

I’ve decided they do this, because they aren’t really happy being hard workers,  maybe they secretly know they aren’t that productive, even when working hard and damned if they want to see anyone else enjoying themselves.

Other times, if you produce while playing, there will be those who mistake you for a hard worker.

That’s okay because that perception is about them, not you.

**********

Remember how the hour-long process improvement meeting lasted a year, and you begged to be allowed to leave early – but how time flew by while you spent 32 straight hours writing code to turn a database into a one-click-productive wonder?

Oh wait, that was me, not you…

Maybe that example is your own private description of hell.

That’s why this system is beautiful – if we all produce while playing at something we love, somehow, everything gets done.

Except for useless paperwork – – nobody loves useless paperwork.

And before you Admins get your nose out of joint, remember I said “useless” paperwork – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.   I may just not know what the heck it’s useful for.

**********

If you can’t play while doing that which earns your living, then stop – right now – and do something different.

Yes, yes, I know it’s a recession with high-unemployment, bear with me…

This is not as scary as you think – I’ve only had one person that actually took this advice at face value.   Everyone else just approached their current position with a different attitude which made it bearable until they found they did love what earned their living or they found that which they were better suited at playing.

My favorite story of this school of thought depicted in books is the woman who learned to love her job because she knew she was never going to get the great insurance benefits she had anywhere else.   Her husband was ill, this was her priority and identifying it helped her to fall in love with her job all over again. – if I could remember which book, I swear, I would tell you…

The one exception who  took this advice literally was a waitress – stressed out during lunch rush, nearly in tears, she finally told me that she had just started, hated, hated this job and wished she could quit.  I hung around after my meal because I was intrigued to see how someone who did the mechanics of the job fair, but was a totally lousy waitress, could make it through a whole shift.

I’ve been known to spend my days off in strange fashion…

I tipped her $100 and left a note stating I hoped it would help her to feel more secure while finding a new playing field.

(That was back in the days when I played hard at two waitressing jobs and had more money than offspring to spend it…)

She caught me as I was pulling out of the parking lot, informed me she had just quit and thank you ever so much.

I could see her being a librarian or antique book dealer – no doubt about it.  She was smart, organized and well-read – loved books and almost cried when she told me about the latest book treasure she had saved from a garage sale and was trying to restore.

Why let her waste away working hard at what I considered an honorable and needed profession, when she could just as easily, with a little support and encouragement, be somewhere where she got to play all day long while earning her living?

I figured my outlandish tip was my contribution to making a society full of Productive Players.

I’ve made other such contributions over the years, whenever I could afford it – I hate seeing wonderful talent go to waste – or the human spirit wasting away.

**********

This is not to say there aren’t challenges in playing.  Or that playing is a substitute for ‘easy’.

I’ve never heard my son complain about all the practice hours he spent to get better at basketball.    Or the sore muscles, bumps and bruises.  He’s “working” at improving, but since he’s enjoying himself, it’s classified as playing.

My brother, the sod farmer, thinks I’m nuts for wanting to waitress or stay awake 24 hours or more working on a website.

I think he’s nuts to live a life of watching grass grow and running a business that involves 20 hour days from March through October.

He tells me, “Everyone secretly wishes they could be a sod farmer.  It’s the best life.”

And I tell him, “Everyone wishes they could be me – work 30 hours in a row and take the rest of the week off.”

We each have our blind-spots.

**********

I hope you get to play often and well.

I hope you earn your living by playing.

If you’re in the position to support the person who’s starting their Journey as a Part-Time Productive Player – do it.

And remember, while there is no shame in being a Playful Producer, being a hard worker is just nuts…

Blaging Rizzard Foolery

An exchange of comments this a.m. with Peg-o-Leg reminded me of a time years ago when I first truly comprehended how ignorance, stupidity or egocentric behavior can cost not only ourselves, but someone else.

Place: The Eastern Plains of Colorado – Rip Griffin’s Truckstop in Limon, to be exact.

Time: Spring – evening – a full scale blizzard has swept down upon us and the roads have been closed since early afternoon.

Players: Me (the waitress), a handful of State Troopers, some Department of Transportation (DOT) guys and 10 carloads of tourists.

**********

I’m tired- my swing shift isn’t over and the graveyard shift I will be covering, because none of my relief servers can make it in, hasn’t even started.   I buck up and smile – because I’ve done this before.   Once worked 36 hours straight, until relief could make it in.

Oh, to be 19 again.

A table of troopers wearily converse over coffee and cinnamon rolls.   They’ve spent an afternoon in the sea of white, making sure no stragglers were abandoned along their assigned stretches of three major highways, when they closed the gates.

They’ve worked overtime today, too, but now the roads are cleared of refugees, the gates closed and everyone is taking a breather before heading home to sleep through the rest of the storm in order to be ready for action once it leaves and masses of people begin their exodus.

The phone rings and I answer State Patrol dispatch’s request to talk to Stormy –

(Stormy remains one of my favorite troopers – remind me to tell you about the time I did a ride along with him in the unmarked, forest green Camaro.  One of the happiest days of my life.)

Seems someone has ‘jumped the gate’ – translation: they decided the reflective orange gate that stretches across the highway with a big sign that states “Highway Closed” didn’t apply to them and they carefully maneuvered around it and headed out into the land where snow blows so thick you can’t see the hood of your car, let alone the road ahead.

And now, that fool has dialed 911 and declared, “Come Get Me!  I’m stuck and you need to come get me.”

Stormy, either a hero or the hapless loser of the coin toss, wearily gets to his feet, orders a coffee to go and nods to the DOT chap who also lost the toss and out they head, to rescue Mr. Come Get Me.

I watched the lights of a patrol car and orange dump-truck disappear into the white – before they even exited the parking lot.

Along the rescue trail, they found 10 other pioneering (or moronic) spirits and stopped to pull each of them out, dusted the snow off and got them into a line headed back to safety.

Six tortuous miles before they got to Mr. Come Get Me – whose Jaguar was nearly buried in the median –

And slowly, they start the six tortuous miles back – during which some of the flock strayed, panicked or whatever and after getting the followers deposited at the emergency shelter, they shop-vacced the snow that had blown into the cabs of their vehicles and headed back out to re-rescue those who hadn’t made the full trip.

This little adventure started around 7 at night –

At 4:00 a.m., Stormy came into the restaurant, sat down and gazed at me with eyes rimmed red from blowing snow and tiredness as I poured him coffee and took his breakfast order.  The last stranded chick had been returned to the safety of the shelter fold and he could rest.

It was quiet in my turf by that time – all the stranded truckers, having run out of stories to tell and tired of my jokes, as well, were now sleeping out the storm.   I listened as Stormy told me the story of the night, my anger growing by the minute.

“Isn’t there, like, a $5,000 fine or something, for jumping the gate?”  I asked.

“Oh, don’t I wish.” He smiled.

“Well, there ought to be and Mr. Come Get Me should have to pay 10 times that, just for the hell of it,” I declared.

**********

There’s a reason why I became a State Patrol dispatcher instead of a trooper.  Oh I passed all the tests, back ground interviews and what not and was offered a position at the academy – but I thought back to that snowy night and realized, I just might be tempted to shoot those I gave my oath to protect and serve.

So I decided instead, to dispatch –  supporting those who save others from their follies and refrain from punishing those they must save from themselves.

**********

Not long after that night, I was once again pulling a double while the most recent Spring Blizzard raged.   A trucker from Florida offers me $100, if I’ll just tell him which country road will get him out of town and hooked back into a major highway, past the Road Closed signage.

I’ve tried to joke my way around this offer, because pissed off customers usually don’t tip well and with the roads closed, my chances for money are sitting right in front of me, without the promise of a fresh batch of possibilities expected for hours, if not days.

He is not to be dissuaded and each return to fill his coffee cup results in him asking again.

Exasperated, I finally ask, “Don’t you understand that it’s closed because if you go out there, you might die?”

He grinned and upped the offer to $200.  He ain’t afraid of a little snow.

So I told him the story of Mr. Come Get Me – about how many trips had to be made for 10 cars and six miles of road.  How much snow blew into the brand new and supposedly well sealed door panels of a patrol car.

I ended with, “It turned out okay that time, but that blizzard raged for three days.   Stormy or the DOT guy could have died out there.  It seems to me, you’re asking me if I’ll put my friends in the position to die for $200.”

That message got through.

Thank gawd, because I was thinking about purchasing a pellet gun from the gift shop and shooting him – just enough painful pings and bruises so he’d remember me and the story.

**********

And for the grand finale – the foolishness that happens when the roads finally open.

Mr. Short and Foul had been pacing around all night, asking every 15 minutes or so when the roads would be open, and then raging at the standard answer,

“When the wind quits blowing and the plows clear the roads”.

Sometime around 3 a.m., my patience grew thin and I told him I knew all the troopers and DOT guys and if he asked, no, if he even looked at me, one more time, I’d make sure he was the last car in the line to leave once the gates open.

I must have convinced him, because he gave me wide berth from then on.

Around 10 a.m. or so, I’m standing up near the front register, sipping on coffee and waiting for the announcement that the highways are open, relief will arrive  and I can go home.

Mr. Short and Foul is dancing a jig as near the front door as he can get, because everyone is tired of coffee, jokes and food, and all are waiting by the wide double doors.  It reminds me of a story I read in my childhood of the great Land Rush of Oklahoma in 1889. (which is a whole ‘nother story)

The announcement of open roads brays across the loud speakers.  Mr. Short and Foul shoves two burly truck drivers out of his way, slips and slides across the parking lot to his little red Toyota truck, revs the engine, slides out of the parking lot, races to the on-ramp and promptly flips his truck right then and there.

Upside down, and rotated to face East, he can see the promise land of the open highway, but he won’t be going anywhere for the 3 days it takes to repair his truck.

I swear it happened and once I learned he was not injured badly (some bruising, is all) I smugly smiled and reveled in my “Serves him right” thoughts.

***********

Don’t get me wrong – I know I’ve done some stupid things in my life – to date, neither I nor anyone else has gotten severely hurt.  I will also say in my defense the things I did where someone could have gotten hurt were performed mostly in my childhood – when the part of my you-should-know-better brain wasn’t fully formed.

But I’ve never forgotten the lessons I learned in early adulthood while working at a truck-stop during blizzards.    I watched the idiotic, the ignorant and the heroic.

There’s a school of thought that says we can only truly learn from our own live experience – that telling or watching someone else doesn’t often make a lasting impression.

Baloney – hearing the stories of others or sitting quietly on the sidelines, observing, has made a profound difference in my life.

By gummy, when I drive in a snowstorm – they’ve closed the gate behind, not in front, of me…

My Favorite Lines

My recent foray into answering questions for The Sunshine Award made me despair that no one asked what my favorite movies were.  Then I remembered, I have a blog and can write about anything I want…

How is it I forget that sometimes?

So here’s my list of must-sees with my favorite lines.

Two Mules for Sister Sara

“Dear Mary, Mother of God, help this no-good atheist to shoot straight.”

Kingdom of Heaven

“Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath.” **Slap** “And that’s so you remember it.”

A Murder of Crows

“Drink, detective? ”
“Nah. Never touch it. Makes me happy.”

Gone with The Wind

“I can shoot straight, if I don’t have to shoot too far.”

Rooster Cogburn – The John Wayne Original –

“I’ll be damned – she got in the last word AGAIN!”

Ladyhawke

“I know I promised, Lord, never again. But I also know that YOU know what a weak-willed person I am.”

and

“Sir, the truth is, I talk to God all the time, and, no offense, but He never mentioned you.”

Monty Python’s the Holy Grail

“Those aren’t horses, they’re coconuts”

Conagher

“Who gave you the black eye?”

“No one gave it to me, son.  I fought for it.”

Overboard

“I don’t belong here, I feel it, don’t you think I feel it? I can’t do any of these vile things and I wouldn’t WANT to. Oh, my life is like death. My children are the spawn of hell, and you’re the devil. Oh God.”

“But baby, we LIKE you.”

Sound of Music

“You know how Sister Berthe always makes me kiss the floor after we’ve had a disagreement? Well, lately I’ve taken to kissing the floor whenever I see her coming, just to save time.”

The American President

“My name is Bob Rumson, and I’m running for President!”

“Sure glad he cleared that up, because that crowd was about to buy some Amway products!”

The Illusionist

“From the moment we enter this life we are in the flow of it. We measure it and we mock it, but we cannot defy it. We cannot even speed it up or slow it down. Or can we? Have we not each experienced the sensation that a beautiful moment seemed to pass to quickly, and wished that we could make it linger? Or felt time slow on a dull day, and wished that we could speed things up a bit?”

When Harry Met Sally

“Its amazing. You look like a normal person but actually you are the angel of death.”

and

“How long do you like to be held after sex? All night, right? See, that’s your problem. Somewhere between 30 seconds and all night is your problem.”

The Sum of All Fears

“When I asked for your advice, I didn’t mean that you should actually speak.”

“Each day we lose a little bit more of our separate, sovereign ability to determine our own futures… and each day the world comes a little bit closer to that terrible moment when the beating of a butterfly’s wings unleashes a hurricane God himself cannot stop.”

And I’ll close with this final line –

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s futures, and we are all mortal.”

The Sunshine Award

sunshine-awardToday was spent chauffeuring loved ones to tests that involve anasthesia.  Which makes me a nervous wreck, because we’ve had too many “oops!  the test killed the patient” instances in my family and friends circle – but it all turned out okay and everyone is declared healthy and has arrived home safely.

During my time in the waiting room, I received an email notifying me I had been nominated for the Sunshine Award by Grandma Says – which was funny, because I didn’t feel super sunshiney today, but hey, I’ll take whatever I can get.

I was rather surprised by this all, as her blog is one of my favorites and, as a recipient of so many different blogging awards, I was humbled that she thought that much of mine.

So in true spirit of the supportive blogging world of Word Press, thank you for the nomination, which I accept and will dutifully follow “Da Rules”:

  • Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself
  • Nominate 10-12 other fabulous bloggers
  • Link your nominees to this post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated
  • Share the love and link the person who nominated you

Before I engage in the hard job of picking the nominees – I will first answer “Da Questions”, simply because that should go faster than, say, linking and commenting on every single WordPress blogger out there –

What inspired you to start blogging?

I’ve always been a writer – I still have, ahem, manuscripts written on stenographer notepads because not everyone had a PC in 1980’s – I have reams of poems, short stories, partial novels.  I’ve written for local newspapers and magazines – but the idea of writing to make a living just seemed like more work than it was worth – – When I learned about blogging, and that I could write whatever the heck I wanted too, my only question was, “Where do I sign up and when do I start?”

I will say my blogging has suffered these past few weeks, because I’ve finally decided to pull up my big girl panties and try self-publishing and I’m in the midst of formatting three of my book manuscripts to upload to Amazon – – Blogging is what has given me the courage to put myself out there, in this manner.

How did you come up with the name to your blog?

For some strange reason known only to the gods, I have a dream of Ireland in my heart and hope that if reincarnation is true,  I once spoke Gaelic.   Don’t ask me why.  It’s one of those reasons that escapes explanation.   I named my blog, “Bally Bin” – literal translation “Peak Town”, which I give the reason for in my About Bally Bin page.  As a tag line, I put The Good, Bad and Ludicrous”, so the reading world would know this isn’t a niche site and I may just write about any durn thing that pops into my head that morning.

I don’t like misleading keyword or titling attempts by others, so I was deliberately obtuse and vague in both my name and titling, so others couldn’t accuse me of leading them astray…

What is your favorite blog that you like to read?

All of them that I follow – all the ones I find because they find me – the ones I find via comments on those I follow – – I’ve never fired up the computer to read while drinking my morning cup of tea or joe without being amazed at all  the awesomeness out there – You all Rock – even the ones that write about stuff I’m not particularly interested in – I still like that you make the effort to write and put yourself out there.  And even if I don’t care passionately about what you do, I can’t resist reading a well-written piece – and there are so durn many of them out there.

Tell about your dream job?

I’m living it – I write some and support small business some and if the goddess Demeter and Grandpa Golden smile upon me, I’ll also earn some of my keep by being the local market garden come 2014.   I’ve lived long enough to know that having all your eggs in someone else’s basket is a bad way to go –  as I’ve also learned to have a high tolerance for financial uncertainty, I bounce from day to day, earning my living through a variety of endeavors.   I spent 25 years making someone else rich while missing family events, evening lecture series and many a sunrise and sunset – I’ve lost everything and managed to regain my feet – so I’ve decided life is too short to work for someone else.

Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

Glass?!?  There are glasses?  And here I’ve been guzzling from the bottle….

Because I hate to do dishes…

If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

Ireland, I’d like to spend a year there some week – Not the tourist spots – no, some little village that’s close to some cherished spot that everyone locally knows to be magical.  I’d like to live there long enough that the local pub gatherers know my name and welcome me in, instead of shaking their head over the ‘narky American lass’.

What food can you absolutely not eat?

Anything that is found in the Insect genus – This is why I don’t have a bucket list that includes going Native in some far off country – they’d offer me their finest delicacy of the local insects and I’d throw up and be put to death for insulting the cook –

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Chocolate?  There are people who like chocolate?

I will confess to trying to figure out how to make locally-sourced-ingredient Gummy Bears – – haven’t figured it out yet and so Gummy Bears is on my ‘non-local’ treat list – I gave up coffee, to have Gummy Bears.

How much time do you spend blogging?

Some days, all day.  Others, none at all – I write when it moves me.   I never try to do 30 day challenges or set a goal of blogging every day –  that would take all the fun out of it, for me.

A mentor (who worked in San Francisco in the Summer of Love and told me she was the only one in Haight-Ashbury who had a job that season) told me that before she ever wrote an article, she knew who would publish it, who the readership was, who the advertisers were and what each of them wanted.

I decided then and there I Never wanted to be a freelance writer.  I could feel my soul curling up and dying when she told me I had to learn those skills, because I was a writer, but I needed to be a Paid Writer

I’d rather build websites, databases, or chew ground glass than do that.

When I write, it’s because the first spark came to me – upon rising, or on the drive home, or while my son was explaining the current level of his latest Xbox game (I admit it – my eyes sometimes glaze over when my teenagers talk – I call it tit-for-tat)

And the words come – they flow out and the minute one is not right, I know it.

If I try to write any other time, well….let’s just say I have tried it – and those drafts get Trashed, because even I think I’m a liar while reading my own work…

Do you watch tv – if so, what are some of your favorite shows?

Arghhh- Now you all are going to know the truth – –

I don’t have cable or satellite TV – all movies eventually make it to Netflix or my local library – these locations also have literally millions of documentaries – I could watch documentaries until I’m 90 and not see them all.

My favorite Documentaries are, “How the Earth Was Made” and “The Revolution” series, both narrated by Edward Hermann.

But I do admit that while I stayed at my Mom’s during my stroke recovery – I got enamored of Big Bang Theory – Sheldon is my hero – he’s smart enough and dysfunctional enough to get away with his non-pc way of interacting with others.   I tried being myself, but wearing ugly pants and a Batman t-shirt while being brutally honest – – still didn’t work, so obviously, you gotta be really smart (and have a PhD.) to be Frank and get away with it.

Now on to the Nominees –

The World’s Top 10 of Anything and Everything 

Russell Deasley is just an awesome guy and his blog is one of the most consistent and quick pick-me-ups I’ve ever seen.   How he manages to put out the fabulous Top 10 lists he does, every day, amazes me again and again – (remember, I wait for inspiration before blogging – rain or shine, I have a Top 10 to enjoy every day!)

Not only does he post every day, but I’ve never left a comment that he didn’t respond to – and while looking to see how amazing this is, in ratio to how many millions of followers he has – I see he has already been awarded the Sunshine Award – I don’t care – I’m nominating him again…. 🙂

Thanks Russell – you make me smile!

I Pledge a Fallegiance

This is one of my go to blogs for current events – since I don’t watch the news, and often don’t like reading it, but hate being in the dark – I look to those bloggers who write about current events.

His common sense approach to a variety of subjects makes me feel not so alone when I look around and wonder what the heck is going on with our culture, politics and systems.   He questions the status quo and hence, is a man after my own heart.

New Urban Habitat

One of the first blogs I ever started following – Abby Quillen keeps me motivated when I’m not at my best and writes about subjects dear to my heart.   During my stroke recovery, I even emailed my thanks for her words motivating me for one more day and she never failed to email back with a friendly thanks and encouraging word.

A splendid writer who sees, in my opinion, what’s really important and is fashioning her life around those values.

Break Room Stories

This funny blog is full of one-liners, OMG’s and “Are you Kiddin’ Me?” stories from those who work in the trenches every day, serving the often unpleasant and ungrateful – yup, it’s about the Bar and Restaurant industry.

I worked in the ‘biz’ from age 14 til I was 23.   It sometimes gets rough in the trenches, but reading these stories reminds me of the good things that happen too.    To all those who send in your Yippee and Woe-is-me stories –  Good Job!   And thanks for doing the job that is very needed, but our society fails to recognize as an Honorable Career.

Canadian Hiking Photography

Now, full disclosure – this guy and his pals are way more into activities that I avoid like the plague (hiking, snow-shoeing, skiing) and more enthusiastic than my couch-potato butt is comfortable with (sometimes reading his trip itineraries wears me out) but the images he captures of his adventures are awe-inspiring and sometimes make me regret that I’m not the athletic type.

His works are things of beauty and I triple-dawg-dare anyone to visit his site and not come away renewed with appreciation of how beautiful the world is.

Daily Echo

Sue Vincent inspires me.   She’s the one I read when I’ve woke up on the wrong side of the bed and figure I might need to cheer myself up before interacting with anyone, including the dog.

She manages to take the high road on so many subjects without ever leaving me feeling like the road I’m on is somehow lower – even when it really is.   A great lady and if you love fractals, you just have to visit her.

Data Driven Viewpoints

I just recently discovered DataHeart because he found me in cyberspace – I admire this man.   He writes about subjects that  I would love to write about, but my musings would undoubtedly turn into a bloody rampage over the injustice of it all.    He does so with logic, finesse and a calm spirit that tells, “Just the Facts, ma’am.”

He also manages to take data points from a variety of places and show you how they relate to one another.  In our complex world and especially as we try to make better decisions regarding the systems we have that are failing both us and future generations, thinkers like him are sorely needed.

Kudos to you DataHeart – may you never tire of  taking the data and explaining it well to those of us who prefer the written word to charts.

Jump for Joy Photo Project

Another consistent blogger, Eyoälha Baker never fails to leave an inspirational quote in my reader and at least one awesome photo of someone, somewhere, jumping for joy – Every Day –

The fact that

A. So many people can jump that well

and

B. The pictures are never blurry, never fails to amaze me.

And on my Beware of Owner days, she reminds me that there is still joy in the world and shares it with me.

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There are so many other blogs I follow – people who I appreciate and whose writing touches me.   It was hard to pick who to put on the list, but it really came down to those who never fail to inspire me, make me smile or motivate me when I’m struggling.

Thank you all.

Blaging Rizzards

How much snow?  3 feet on the north side of truck, 1/4" on the south side...
How much snow? 3 feet on the north side of truck, 1/4″ on the south side…

Some of my family’s favorite stories are not our own – two are from local weathermen who managed to flub up, live, during a forecast.

The first one was all excited to tell us about the Blaging Rizzard that was heading straight towards us.

The second one managed to inform us of the cold mare’s ass that was working it’s way down from Canada then finished the show without peeing his pants from laughing.

So when I awake to find howling wind, blowing snow and poor visibility – I can’t help but think,

“Well, that cold mare’s ass sure brought us a blaging rizzard.”

Brightens my day and hope it entertains you, your next blizzard.

Hope of Spring Must Be Eternal

Springtime in Colorado
Springtime in Colorado

Yesterday I spent nearly 6 hours in front of my computer working on my garden.   You may scoff, but I’m a data freak at heart and I just recently traded in my home-built Access database for the Mother Earth News Garden Planner software – simply because I’m not talented enough to figure out how to insert Google Sketch plans into my Access database and have everything do all the cool functions this new software does.

And so, I patiently added all my existing seeds, added the new ones I ordered to try this year and spent quite a few hours researching vines, fruit trees and other perennial staples, as my secret wish is to have a self-sustaining garden area here in about 5 years.

I can see it already – I awake to the lovely fragrant smells drifting in my window – I’ll go out to the yard and pick my breakfast out of the garden which consists of delicious, native fruits and veggies that flourish in our wildly fluctuating weather and survive our mid-summer droughts, re-seed themselves each year and require nothing from me except some singing and dancing in the middle of the yard in absolute glory over how smart I was to plant this way five years ago.

(Right after the bluebirds, deer and field mice help me get dressed for the day, of course…)

I then spent quite a bit of time in the Accounting Software, trying to budget out the landscaping materials I must buy, extra bucks for the Auto:Fuel:Gas-Guzzling Beast Truck account and spent quite a bit of time at the landscaping materials website – complete with calculators and just how much will an aging Ford long-bed truck haul in one trip?

I need a dump truck that’s powered off unrealistic dreams and used tissues…

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Then I awoke this morning to find Mr. Winter not quite ready to leave yet.   I knew it was coming – my body had told me so by screaming out it’s frustration at yet another barometer change, but still, my heart sunk as I saw the area on the south side of the house once again blanketed in a foot or more of snow – – and realized a lot of shoveling would need to be done to keep the drive from becoming the Okefenokee Swamp.

It’s not that I am bemoaning the moisture – I truly am grateful.   I don’t even mind sunbathing one day and shoveling snow the next.

What I mind is that folks want me to be normal and consistent and organized when any look around them would tell them that if I’m to live in harmony with my environment, my flaky desire to start seeds in January and rest during a June snowstorm are right on target.

That my desire to research plants until my vision is blurred will pay off, someday.

That the hundreds of hours spent in front of my computer, putting this plant here, or moving this perennial here and limiting the areas I actually will have to irrigate is worthwhile and that someday, either my body will be strong enough to do all the work, or fairies and elves will show up to help.

Either way, what good is having the help if the General Contractor doesn’t have a blue print?!?

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So my hope of Spring is always eternal – it carries me through funky weather and funky moods – it reassures me that what my best is today does not necessarily mean tomorrow will be a disaster as well.

Of all the evolutionary mutations we humans have been given, the hopeful spirit is the one I’m most grateful for.