Sparrow's Ramblings

Life how I see it from my nest on the High Plains


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Sleep…where the heck is it when you need it?


My son sent me a picture today of our cat, Harley, and I must admit I was instantly jealous.

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What? Why would I be jealous of whatever my cat is doing at any given moment of the day?

You see, I received this picture on my phone during a pretty dry meeting today. If I hadn’t had my laptop open and actively working on something while trying to pay attention to what was being said, I might have fallen asleep myself. Looking at Harley taking a nap in the sunshine just about did me in.

Sleep is something that I am badly in need of, and constantly find myself chasing after. There are rare occasions where I can just lay down and sleep falls softly on my head like fog moving in. It’s stealthy, calming and comforting. Most times, though, I have to trick myself into falling asleep. There are so many things to think about and keep track of that the inside of my head looks like a million internet browsers open and running all at one time.

When I was a kid, I remember hiding in my neighbor’s garage because I knew my mother wanted me to lay down and take a nap. There was no way I was tired, and didn’t want to have to lay still all afternoon. Looking back, now I realize the poor woman was so tired from keeping up with me and my brother that she just needed a little shut eye. Whoa…lesson learned there. I now understand the magic of taking an afternoon nap.

It’s almost midnight, and right about now I catch a second wind. I’m kind of a night person and don’t mind staying up late. The problem is having to get up in the morning!

That said, perhaps I should go find my pillow and talk my brain into shutting down for the night. Here’s wishing you all a good, solid night’s sleep!

 

 

 


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10 Basic Rules for New Bloggers


Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a young friend at work. He is thinking about taking up blogging and it got me to thinking about what I have learned from the blogging I have done through the years. I think most of it boils down to a lot of common sense – be nice, treat people how you would want to be treated, etc. However, there are some other things that are worth mentioning for those who are new to blogging:

1. It’s ok to blog under a made up name.

Blogging under your real name opens you up for a  lot of garbage you may not want to deal with. Number one thing I can think of is that employers data mine to find out more about potential employees. If you blog under your real name and have opinions that do not mesh with a potential employer, it could cost you that job. Some people may not worry about this, and that’s ok too. Personally, I would rather keep any potential employers guessing. My business is my business, not theirs.

Also, you have family or friends that may give you problems about your opinions/ideas/etc. Sometimes it’s easier just to keep the peace by not blogging under your real name. This brings me to my next point:

2. It’s ok to be yourself.

Your blog should not be encumbered  or hemmed in by what others think. You should feel completely free to talk about any subject you wish, and let your freak flag fly. You may have thoughts and feelings that nobody else knows about that will feel good to just get off of your chest, and blog can be a fabulous outlet for things you can’t tell others. One thing is guaranteed – after a time, you will meet others of like mind, and then your horizons will explode. You will meet some really great people, and run into some awful internet trolls.   See Rules #4 & #5 for more about trolls.

3. Fact check before you post. And then do it some more.

I can’t stress this highly enough. Make sure you know what you are talking about before you blog about it. It’s always easy enough to shoot from the hip and just blurt out what you think you know, but check yourself. Spend some time reading up on a topic and check a couple of different sources. You don’t ever want to be caught off guard by someone who posts on your blog because you got your facts wrong. Be ready to cite reliable sources, but also don’t take criticism to heart.

Also, check the temperature on the topic. What are other people writing about, and what are some of the prevailing notions and opinions? You will know right away if someone is talking out of their ass, or if they have done their homework, if you have already done yours.  It is also OK to ask for your reader’s input about a topic. It’s a good conversation starter and another interesting way to meet people of like mind. Sometimes your comments on a given blog post will get really full!

Not all posts will be totally about a factual issue. Sometimes you will write totally about your feelings and opinions. Be ready for people to push back. See Rule #6

4. Don’t sweat the trolls

Trolls are everywhere, lurking under whatever bridge you come across and are waiting to attack your blog. You can’t argue with these idiots because they live for hurting feelings and making people mad. Your best bet is to ignore them because they thrive on drama and love to stir pots. This doesn’t mean that anyone who posts contrary to what you think is a troll…most people are pretty decent. If worse comes to worse, you can always block them if you have to.

5. For the love of all that is green and holy, don’t BE a troll.

When it comes to other people’s blogs, the Golden Rule is the thing to keep in mind. I wrote a whole post about how to reply to posts that make you mad and you can find it here. If you go through and read all of the different associated blog posts and comments that are linked from that post, you can see the whole perfect troll storm that can take place. All it takes is one jackass to light a whole bunch of people’s hair on fire.

6. Use conflicting opinions to foster dialog and learn something about yourself.

When someone posts a differing opinion, do some research, ask questions, and get that dialog rolling. Visit their blogs and make thoughtful comments on their posts, unless they are trolls.  An example I have to share about fostering dialog on differing opinions can be found here, and probably in the blog post following that one. Go ahead and blog about difficult topics. These are things the probably need to have a light shined on them…drag those suckers out in the open and give them some fresh air. Just be mindful that your opinion isn’t the last word on a topic…you never know what someone will be passionate about.

7. Make sure you have permission to post pictures or content if it isn’t yours.

If you copy from other places, it’s a good way to get your blog complained about or shut down altogether, unless you have permission from the artist/author, or use common domain information/ images. It’s probably the best idea to use original pictures you take, and write your own content. Make sure to give credit to someone if they give you permission, or if it comes from a common source. You can always try googling public domain sources for images as well. Just be aware than Royalty Free and free of cost are two different things.

8. Don’t just blog about one topic.

You are a complex human being with thoughts, feelings, and an innate sense of curiosity. Blog about anything that makes you question or feel something. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about something you always wondered about, or expand upon something you know a little about. Write a confession, write a review, share recipes. Whatever interests you enough to think about, is good enough to blog about.

You can always be more specific later, or in a separate blog page. I know people who have separate blogs for separate topics. Me, I throw it all together in one giant pot. Everyone has their own style and you will have to blog a while before you find out what yours is.

9. Keep it positive.

Using your blog as a place to constantly whine/complain/rant is a HUGE turn off to a reader. If you have a rant, bring it, but make sure to do your homework and provide structure to your argument in such a way that people will want to engage you in conversation. This takes practice. Don’t be afraid to leave a post sit over night and read through it again the next day so you can see it with a fresh pair of eyes.

10. Above all, don’t give up.

It takes a quite a while of writing your own blog and reading/commenting on other blogs before you will get your own following. Blog for yourself, and no one else. Those of like mind will find you, so long as you make sure to use your tags effectively, and participate in other people’s blogs.

Well, there they are – Sparrow’s Top 10 Rules for Beginner Bloggers. Please note that these are my rules for blogging…not necessarily anyone else’s. While I feel like these are pretty much common sense rules for blogging, they are not the end all – be all.  Blogging is a good way to learn more about yourself and how you truly want to interact with the world around you. The blogosphere is a vast, amazing, fabulous place, and if you stick with it you will not only make some interesting friends, but learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Now go blog your heart out, and make up your own rules.

Happy Blogging!


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Well, hello there!

I’ve had two weeks off to do what’s needed to get ready for Younger Son’s graduation, which is tomorrow. Unfortunately, work reared its ugly head and I didn’t actually get the time I was expecting. That’s ok… I will survive this too.

One of the things high on my to-do list this week was to sit down to my blog and actually write something. Today, even though I have more housework to do than God, and laundry backed up for miles, I decided to ignore all of that and take time for myself. If my house isn’t perfectly dusted…whatever.

I miss you guys and think of you often. frequently throughout the week I will have some very interesting thing crawl across my brain, complete with a blog title, and then my day carries off with me. Some day I will be able to get back to my regular blogging. It’s one of those things that looms large in my bucket list of things I want for me.  Right now, however, many things appear to need my attention and so I run hither an yon making things happen as requested/needed/dictated.

Soon, my time is coming.

Younger Son is graduating tomorrow.  I’m very proud of him…not only is he going to graduate on the honor roll, but he scored well enough on the ASVAB test that he is going to be able to train to be an aircraft mechanic in the Navy starting in August. He took the oath back in January, and I think he is looking forward to moving on. Life in our fair city is more than  little stifling for him, I think. I will miss him very much, and I am pretty sure I will be lost without him for a long time after he leaves. But I can’t say I’m not ready to be on my own. It’s been a long haul, and I need to rest.

Yes, there will be much in the way of new beginnings, including a new beginning for me. Once Younger leaves home, I will mostly just be looking after myself. Older Son Still lives at home, but he works and is busy with his life. Many times I don’t even get to see him but a few minutes a day. And that’s ok…he’s 21 and doesn’t need Mom hanging over his shoulder. I’m pretty happy to not hang over anybody’s shoulder any more. I’ll be pretty happy to just live for me for a while. Sweetie and I on the bike

Just me and what I want to do…or not do.

I took a picture from the back of my Flirt’s motorcycle. Going for rides is something I really like to do…

Unfortunately, he’s trying to sell his motorcycle. I will miss it, but he’s looking to eventually buy a new one and I am hoping it has a nice squishy, comfy back seat for my extra curvaceous backside. ;)

I would also like to travel. I generally don’t go too far, but now I’d like to start branching out. Vegas is looming large in my Bucket List, and I am dropping hints to my Flirt now. He’s never flown before, and it’s going to take some fancy talking to get him in a plane. I think I might be able to, though…I just might. Flights from here to Vegas are really cheap, so it’s a doable getaway once I get my post-school-aged-children finances stabilized.

I’d like to work on my house. It needs a lot of TLC, which there isn’t a lot of budget for. I’ll start with paint…the trim throughout the house needs a fresh coat, and my bedroom absolutely needs to be painted. It still has the paint on the walls that my Ex chose. Blech…

When Younger leaves home, I think I am going to redo his room for me, and use my bigger bedroom as an office/craft/storage/spare room. New paint and curtains will make a huge difference in both spaces. It will be just the change I need.

Speaking of changes…mostly, I’m not a girly girl. I am not a huge fan of pink, I don’t wear makeup and I hate wearing heels. However, I find my taste in decorating is beginning to lean that way. I have really plain curtains throughout my house, and I suddenly feel a need to jazz things up a bit. For a while I ignored the urge, but I think I am just going to give into it and see where it goes. I was not born with the Martha Stewart gene, and I am no decorating pro. However, I have had success making my own curtains.  Trying to find interesting curtains in the stores has proven to be not fruitful, so I decided to widen my horizons a little, and I found this lovely scarf at Target:

Curtains I am so looking forward to turning this lovely material into my new kitchen curtains…it will be awhile before I can get to it, but it will be worth the wait.

Speaking of waiting, I need to get off my butt and get some more stuff done in preparation for tomorrow. Lots to get done before family comes in tonight, and the graduation and party tomorrow.

Here’s to new beginnings!

 


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Something about a truck…


I’ve been missing something lately, and it took me hearing a local band play the song “Something About a Truck” for me to figure it out.

Actually, I’ve been missing a lot of things lately, but this little something had been niggling at the very back of my consciousness for awhile. More about the other stuff later…what I have unpacked today is that I truly am a cheap date.

You see, I am a very simple girl with simple needs. I don’t dig fancy stuff, don’t care to wear make-up or curl my hair…God forbid I have to put a skirt on!

Tonight my Flirt and I are out listening to a live band in a small bar, playing pool and drinking pop. He’s playing against a guy from the next table over, and I was sitting here listening to the aforementioned song. It hit me like a ton of bricks just how much I miss driving in the country with my Flirt in his big old redneck truck. Or, the motorcycle. And there’s nothing quite like taking his Giant Dog for a walk on a quiet back road.

I miss the sunshine on my face. I miss the sound of the crickets and frogs in the sloughs, and the lovely breezes that blow in from across the fields. Winter really sucks the life out me, and makes me crave the simplest of pleasures.

Oh it’s going to be a long wait for Spring, but it’s coming… It’s coming.
I am so grateful that I can hang on to that.

There are enough simple pleasures to keep me balanced out until then, but when summer comes, and my Flirt and I can take a drive in the country, or take his Giant Dog for a walk down a country road at the end if a long day, I won’t just feel balanced out… I’ll be blissed out.

Here’s hoping you find that thing, that very simple thing, that gives you so much joy you just can’t hold it all. Blessings…

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Unpacking some stuff


Hi all…long time no blog!

I’m not sure where the last six months went, but they sure did go by in a blur, with nary a post from this little sparrow. My apologies to all for leaving you hanging. It seems that I have not only been tremendously busy, but have also struggled with some wicked writers block.

Sometimes it’s not just about feeling blocked up…I’ve been struggling with some emotions I just wasn’t quite sure what to do with, how to categorize, or how to think about them. When it came time to days when I did feel like writing, it wasn’t always the most positive things to talk about and I needed some time to try to figure out what was really going on in my head.

What’s gone on here at Sparrow’s nest during all of that time? A lot, and yet nothing. It’s been a quiet summer. I did just a little fishing, a little riding on the motorcycle with my Flirt, and spent some excellent quality time with my kids and my friends. I spent a whole lot of time trying to help Older Son get a real job, which was finally accomplished. I worked more than I should have at my two jobs, but it was a good Summer. The Fall season is proving a bit more hectic, and challenging though, which is a whole other post-full of stuff to talk about.

Something that’s come out of the woodwork lately is friends who are experiencing divorce. It started with one, and then another, and then another. The unraveling of someone’s life, especially a dear friend, is heartbreaking.  Having your life rearranged by divorce is such a traumatic injury to recover from, and it’s very hard to describe to someone how to go about trying to put it back together. In an overly simplistic analogy, it’s like unraveling a blanket you have been crocheting or knitting. When you’ve been working away a project like that for a long time, and then discover that there’s a defect, you have to unravel it and start again. Sometimes others unravel it for you. Either way, whoever is responsible for the unraveling,  your hard work has been pulled out, has become misshapen 006and now you have to begin again. There you sit with kinked up, unraveled yarn in piles around you, the warmth and comfort of a blanket you’ve been working on so diligently is now gone, and it takes effort to figure out where the next stitch goes…starting up again is slow going, but with careful consideration and thoughtfulness, it can be done. The end product won’t be the same as what you anticipated, but will be every bit as functional and lovely…maybe more so. Well, anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

You see, I think feeling like I’m becoming unraveled has been a large part of my problem these last few months. One of the big reasons I had such a hard time writing was that I am now having to unpack things from being divorced I didn’t want to deal with before. Four years later, I have people asking me for advice on how to survive the process, and I feel quite a bit like a fraud. As it happens, I am still on that road, and haven’t reached anything close to the end.

I discovered just last night that I am not done on this journey of recovery. What made me realize this was Parents Night at Younger Son’s last home football game. Ever. He’s a Senior this year, and the parents of Seniors get recognized for all of the time, effort, money and hardship that goes into supporting a child in the local football program (which my Ex really hasn’t had to experience. Ouch…did I just say that out loud?). As such, I was required to stand with my Ex on the field, and step forward when our names were called on Younger’s behalf.  Until that moment, I didn’t realize how much I haven’t progressed or evolved. I have a very difficult time speaking to my Ex, and don’t care much for looking him in the eye, even though I haven’t done him wrong at all. He will try to engage me in trite small talk for the sake of appearances, but I have a difficult time responding with more than a word or two. During the time I endured spending on the field with him,  I realized that I still carry around a giant open wound that hasn’t healed. I’m not sure how to reduce said injury, but I think that acknowledging it gets me going in the right direction. More on that later.

Something else that has plagued me a bit is the discovery that I have been experiencing early menopause. That’s right…this old lady has hit that time of life at the ripe old age of almost 45. The rough part about that is how I am feeling quite maudlin and weepy all the time. Hormone imbalance, coupled with anticipatory empty nest syndrome, is quite a ride, but I keep telling myself to not borrow trouble that hasn’t manifested. My worry-wort self has been pretty active, and it’s time to shut that down and just live for today the best I can.

light-beamOne of the best things I can do for myself is to get back on the blogging bandwagon. I do so much better when I write, as I make myself find something positive to write about. Time to get my Pollyanna on, and get back in the groove. I’m ready to get out of the rut I’ve been in, and exude some positivity and sunshine.

Here’s hoping that you can see to get out of the ruts you fall into, and that you can find the sunshine behind the clouds. Keep looking up…the clouds move out of the way sooner or later.

Blessings all!


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Confessions of a blessing junkie


Over time you, my Faithful Readers, have heard me blather on about blessings. Well, now it’s confession time.

Hi. My name is Sparrow, and I’m not just a blessing blatherer – I’ve become a junkie.

I’ve made such a habit of collecting even the smallest of blessings that I can’t stop. That’s right…I get my jollies from taking notice of neat/sweet/nice/peaceful/happy/joyful things and hoarding them093 away for enjoyment when things get bleak. My brain is riddled with things like smiling babies, cool breezes on hot days, and the heat my cat generates when he cuddles up to me during a nap.

What’s the smallest blessing? Who knows, but whatever it is, it’s still worth tucking away so you can pull it out later on so you have something to light your way back to sanity when times get dark.

Here’s wishing that you all suffer from the same affliction, and that  you are able to scoop up the smallest of blessings without a blink. I hope that these small blessings help keep the darkness at bay on bad days, and give you lots of warm fuzzies when you need them.


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Getting my way on Mother’s Day


Greetings all,

First, let me wish all of you Mothers in the blogosphere a very happy Mother’s Day!

I’m being selfish with my time today, because I can get away with it. Mother’s Day, much like a birthday, is a good excuse to gather with family and friends, eat good food and enjoy each others company. It’s not necessarily my favorite holiday, as that slot has been occupied for a very long time by Thanksgiving, but it does have it’s good points. Top on the list of Mother’s Day’s good points is that I get to say what goes.

Here’s my list of things I want today… and by golly, I’m going to get all of it.

1. I want to spend time on my blog (check…mission accomplished!). I get precious little time to come out here anymore, to write or to read my favorite blogs. Today, I get to spend time here. Yes!

2. I want to cook lasagna from scratch today. I love to cook, and don’t get a chance to very often. I have invited my parents over for supper tonight, and when I told Mom what was on the menu, she tried to tell me I should buy a frozen lasagna instead of making it from scratch. I was surprised at how I almost came completely unhinged. I know her heart was in the right place – she didn’t want me to put too much effort into cooking dinner on Mother’s Day. She just doesn’t understand how much like to cook, and how deprived I am in that department. That’s ok… I’ll get my way in the end.

3. I want asparagus. (Demanding wench, aren’t I?) I haven’t had asparagus in years because my picky children won’t eat it, and it really doesn’t pay me to buy it if I am the only one that likes it. Today, it’s just too bad for everyone else that doesn’t like it. I. Will. Have. My. Asparagus! In fact, I have a lovely new recipe that I found on Pinterest for roasted asparagus with olive oil and thyme. I can’t wait!

4. I want to clean my house. The boys are generally pretty good about helping out around the house, but their idea of clean and my idea of clean are galaxies apart. I’ve spent such precious little time at home lately that what little I am able to do gets undone pretty quickly. Today, that gets corrected, even to the point of scrubbing out the fridge. I think something died in there, and is crying out for a decent burial. Argh!

5. I want to spend time in my yard. Spring finally did make it to North Dakota, and there hasn’t been a snowflake in sight for a good three weeks. I think Winter is finally gone for good this year, but I’ll leave my collection of snow shovels out until June 1, because I am just that superstitious about that sort of thing. My yard needs a good raking, and my strawberry/kitchen garden needs to be weeded. There are lots of plants returning from last year, but the grass is trying to overtake them. Time to get out the gloves and open a can of whoop-ass on that nasty invader.

There it is…my top five demands for today, in all of their glorious depravity. Like I said, today I get what I want, and no one best get in my way…or else! ;)

Lilacs half bloomed on May 23rd 2010

Here’s hoping all of you Moms in the blogosphere get exactly what you want, how you want it, and when. More importantly, I hope you have a lovely day with your families and friends.

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