Blessings just hanging around the yard


This last couple of weeks has been full of all kinds of small back yard blessings.

Last post you saw a picture of the plum cake I made, but I didn’t talk too much about the tree and how much I had to baby it along so the plums would grow. Most fell off but I got a good bowlful, which was enough as I don’t have time for canning this year. I wish I’d taken the picture before I started chopping them up!

I also seem to be having good luck with my petunias. They are the small variety, but just right for the front porch.

This going to sound dumb maybe, but I like mushrooms, and I was tickled to find some growing in my yard today.

Small things matter, Faithful Readers. All kinds of small blessings are just out there hanging around waiting to be noticed. Here’s hoping you all have an abundance of them wherever you are. Blessings all!

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Thoughts from the back of a motorcycle


Tonight we went on a motorcycle ride along with some other folks.

My Flirt’s new bike (new to him, 2012 Harley CVO) doesn’t have a radio, so there’s not much to keep your mind busy other than your own thoughts. That’s ok…it’s a nice chance to let things filter through. It’s no wonder he rides for hours when he’s had a bad day, or just needs the space to work things out on this head.

We had a nice trip from Minot to Kramer, and then through Dunseith, down through Rugby, and back to Minot. Several thoughts rolled through my head during this trip:

  1. I love North Dakota. So many people come through here and whine because it’s too flat, not enough of what they want to do, not enough people, blah, blah, blah. It’s beautiful year round, and bursting full of nice people, and there is ALWAYS something to do. It’s a good place to live, and a great place to explore on a motorcycle.
  2. My backside just wasn’t built to ride all day. His either, it turns out. We were both hurting by the time we got back home. I’m not a “ride or die” chick, I’m a short trip gal, and that’s ok.
  3. I really love this time of year. Everything is ripening, and farmers are already starting to get harvest under way. My favorites are blue flax and sunflower fields. Yellow flowered Canola fields are beautiful too, but wow do they stink. Pew!
  4. Something no biker, or rider, likes to see is storm clouds. Riding in rain is no fun. We’ve been caught in heavy rain and hail, and that sucked badly. We kept an eye on the radar, and were able to make it home without getting wet this time. Whew!
  5. The Flirt is always telling me how great it would be if I got a bike too. Could I ride my own? Sure, I could learn how and get a license. Do I want the debt from buying a motorcycle? No. I don’t even have a garage to put one in.
  6. We meet a lot of interesting people while out on a ride. When stopped to take a break in Rugby, we met this elderly guy who told us everything about him but his name. He was quite a storyteller, and I was glad to have crossed paths with him.
  7. I love to take pictures from the back seat. Tonight’s clouds were beautiful. The storms missed us, and the setting sun glowing on the back side of the storm clouds was stunning. My crappy iPhone camera just can’t do it justice.
  8. Pro tip: wear your helmet. Better yet, spend the money on a good one with a visor. The bugs are hard and juicy all at the same time, and you don’t want that on your face. I made the mistake of leaving my visor up, and took a hard bug to the nose. That hurt, but thank goodness I didn’t get it in my eye. Regular bugs are one thing, but bees and dragon flies are a whole other level of pain. Seriously, just wear a helmet. If not to save your face from the bugs, then at least to save your brain if you have an accident.

Here’s hoping you all have the opportunity to go for a drive in the country, whether driving a car, a motorcycle, or bike. It’s peaceful, and relaxing. Blessings all!

Gift giving without fear


Today I will get really close to finishing a shawl I’m making for a friend, and I’m pretty happy with how it’s coming along. But… I feel more than a little trepidation at giving this shawl to the person it’s supposed to go to.

To be honest, I feel a little of this fear every time I make a gift for someone. Mostly the people receiving these handmade gifts seem to really appreciate them. I generally never get to see them in use, so I take it in faith that they really did appreciate the gifts and use them. Once given, the fear dissipates, and I feel better.

This one, though… the last gift I gave this person she immediately picked apart. It was quite absent minded, as though the filter that normally keeps your inside thoughts from leaking out just failed. Even though it was store bought, not hand made, it was still super hurtful even though I know she didn’t mean to be hurtful on purpose. I’d forgotten that part of her nature is to be critical of every single thing, and she really doesn’t even realize she’s doing it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a person I love dearly. I don’t get to see her often, and I wish I got to see her more. Next time I see her though, pushing back on the constant criticism will be something I don’t feel so shy about. We will see how this gift is received. She may not receive another.

My take away from this is that when you make a gift for someone, you are creating a blessing with your own two hands. What the receivers of those gifts do with those gifts doesn’t matter. If they can’t appreciate it, or at least pretend to, that is on them.

So, Faithful Readers, create away. Give those handmade blessings with wild, carefree, abandon and pay no attention to those who can’t be bothered to appreciate the work that goes into it. Those few will be the ones who don’t receive those very special gifts going forward.

Blessings all!

Be grateful, even when stuff hits the fan


It’s going to be one heck of a week. Work has been throwing piles on top of my piles, and it has been made known to me that there are several other department heads out to get my boss. It has crossed my mind several times in the last month that it may be time to go job shopping. The stuff is starting to hit the fan in a big way.

Alas, I like it where I am, and will ride it out awhile longer. It’s still certainly better than my last job.

As my Faithful Readers are aware, I am big into finding the blessings underneath all of the carnage at the end of a crappy day.  I’m happy to say that it’s still a habit I fall easily into. 

Tonight, my boyfriend and I spent the evening at his boss’s house. We had a nice evening on their back patio, just chatting. The thing that struck me is that it was so quiet at their house. They live on the edge of town away from busy streets and the train, and it was so lovely to be there spending time with nice people in their nice quiet back yard.

Simple things not only mean a lot, but they help. 

I totally forgot about my rotten day, and all of the crap coming our way in the next two weeks. I feel very relaxed, which is something that I don’t usually feel. For that, I am very grateful. 

There is always something to be grateful for, even the smallest thing. You just have to be willing to look around to find those things. 

Here’s hoping you all find things to be grateful for, large and small. Blessings all!

Success…finally!


It’s amazing what a little success can do for a person’s attitude. empty-bulb-and-exclamation-mark

I’ve just started a new job at the Cube Farm, and it’s been like nothing else I’ve ever done. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, it’s been so overwhelming that it’s a little like trying to take a sip out of an open fire hydrant. Today, though, I had a giant light bulb in by head flicker to life. I think I am finally getting some of this stuff, and it feels good.

It was a nice offset to some crappy news I got from my new lawyer at the end of the day. I won’t go into the details right now, but suffice it to say that my ex husband is up to no good again, which gives me no end of heartburn and causes my B.S.-O-Meter to ping in the red zone.

I felt kind of cranky while working my 2nd job tonight thinking about some of the crappy things I have to deal with, especially my ex. Then I got to work with two really great young ladies, one of which I’ve just decided to adopt. If I were to have a daughter, I’d want one just like her. Her mom left their family, so she doesn’t have a good mother figure around. We have good talks and I know she helps me. I only hope that I am as good a help to her. It’s kind of great that she gives me a big hug every time I walk into the store. Today I sure did need it.

Older Son had the day off and was fabulous and cleaned up in the kitchen today. It’s nice to have him to come home to. Our schedules don’t match up very well, but I usually get to see him at the end of the day. We had a nice time on Friday, going out to lunch, and to a movie, on a rare day off together. We saw the 3rd Hunger Games movie: Mockingjay. It was really good, and I recommend it highly.

So, I had a nice end to my evening. You can’t get away from the bull shit in life, but it sure is nice when you have so much good happening around you to tip the scales to the positive side of things. It’s a great thing to have so many blessings.

Here’s hoping you all had a great end to your evening, no matter what other crappy stuff life is dishing out. Blessings all!

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.

Breaking out the titanium blessing shovel


Well, it’s been one heck of a week.

The highs and lows have been of an epic roller coaster level, from one minute to the next. And, while I know that bad things don’t last, I’ve had a really hard time trying to be my normally plucky self.

So, it’s that time again….time to dig out the (cue echo…) Titanium-um, um, um  Blessing-ing, ing, ing  Shovel-el, el, el. 

Titanium is a tough substance, so you can keep digging even when it looks like the BS life has been throwing at you is too deep to find your way out of. My trusty shovel has gotten me out of more piles of yuck than I can count. I think it got a good workout this week.

Yes, I’m digging deep today, through all of the baloney I’ve been wading through. Sometimes you just have to clear all the emotional clutter away so you can appreciate the blessings that are within easy grasp. So, I’ve compiled a quick list of things I am grateful for now that I have had a chance to get over myself and take a look around.

1. Autumn is upon us. The air is crisp and cool, and the leaves are turning. It’s a lovely time of year, and a nice long Indian Summer looks promising. I love it when Autumn is extended all the way through November. Pretty soon the farmers will start burning fields, and the air will smell amazing.

2. Younger Son has had a tough time with ankle injuries this football season, and hasn’t got to play much at all. Last night he was able to play with the Varsity team, and got in some good tackles. It was great to see his happy face when the game was over.

3. My sister by choice has started a blog called My Dandelion Wine, and she wrote a poem about Autumn, and how it feels to experience it. Reading this poem really helped to jerk me out of my rut this week. I encourage you to stop by and give it a read.

Well, that’s all I have time for today. I hope this weekend brings many easily observed blessings your way, and that you have a fabulously rejuvenating weekend.

Of role models and fishing trips…


Today, I had to dig a little deeper through the murk collected in my mind to find the blessings that were just waiting to be picked up and marveled at.

Thus, cup of coffee number two. I don’t know exactly what it is about a second cup of coffee that does the trick for me, but I am guessing that it’s just the time it takes to drink the first one and start on the second that gives me time to think and work through the garbage floating in my head. Sometimes it’s easy to mistake the garbage in your head for truth, or for something worth keeping. It took me a little extra long to sort through all of that floating rubbish today.

And, the coffee just tastes and smells good. Hmmm!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Father’s Day, and do wish all of the Dad’s reading this blog a very happy Father’s Day…especially for those who’ve stepped up to be a role model in the absence of a child’s father.  You could be a friend, a neighbor, step-dad or boy friend of a kid’s mom, grandfather… or just a guy on the street who chooses to do the right thing, regardless of who is watching.

Being a role model is not something a person always chooses to do consciously, but it is something everyone is anyway, all the time. For the purposes of this post, let’s narrow the scope a bit. A while back, I wrote a post about what it takes to make a person a mother. The long and short of it is that not all people can be Mom’s, but sometimes people just step up and do the job. The same goes for Dads.

Yesterday was an eventful day. The Flirt picked the boys and I up at 9am, and we drove to another town that was holding a “Ribfest”. It was a nice day, and the food was good. We shopped a little and then came home. Later the boys and I went to pick up supper to take my parent’s house, as we celebrated Father’s day early with my Dad. As we waited for our order, Older Son noticed a car in distress. It was half hanging in the ditch, and the driver couldn’t get the car started again. After we got through the drive-thru, we parked the car and went to see if we could push them back onto the road.

The car contained an elderly couple, with the husband driving.  I’m not quite sure how he ended up with his tail end hanging in the ditch, but the car wouldn’t start and his nose was sticking out into the lane. I offered that we would push him out, and we tried but the three of us weren’t strong enough to push this big old car back up onto the road. Pretty soon a big burly guy came out of the chicken joint and tried to help, but the four of us still couldn’t get it done. Then a kid came out to help, and he couldn’t have been any more than ten or so, but his was the last bit of strength we needed to get the car back up on the road and parked the nearby hotel parking lot. It’s amazing what people can accomplish, regardless of size, when you work together.

Something struck me about these two who came out to help…nobody asked them, they just did it. I wonder if they even knew each other…probably not, but they both had something in common: Someone at sometime modeled that behavior for them.  It’s one thing for me to tell the boys to get out of the car to do this, but it was another thing altogether for them to see two other strangers come out to help, unasked and didn’t ask for anything in return…I hope it’s something my kids remember and repeat. These two guys, even though they were a kid and a twenty-something, were good role models, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they will make good dads, uncles, neighbors, grandparents, etc…

Fishing is something that I used to enjoy as a kid, and Younger Son has expressed an interest in learning. The Flirt and his family are all very much into fishing, and are willing to take us with them when they go. While at my parent’s house last night, I asked my Dad if he still had any of the fishing poles they used to use. Amazingly he did, and tackle boxes too. The poles need some help, but the tackle boxes are FULL of all kinds of interesting things. What’s in them is not nearly as important as who they belonged to. One tackle box belonged to a close uncle that my Dad spent many summers with, and the other one belonged to his own father. I don’t know when he acquired these, but I am willing to guess that these two tackle boxes hold more than just fishing supplies. There are a lot of childhood memories wrapped up in both of these boxes for my Dad, and I am feeling pretty privileged that he gave them to us.

I tried to talk my Dad into coming fishing with us, but fishing isn’t so much his bag. My Mom loves to fish, so I’m hoping we can get her interested in coming out. More on how that progresses later.

Fishing is an interesting way to get conversations started, especially if there are just two of you alone in a boat. I once went fishing up the river with my Mom’s father, whom I never did get a chance to get to know very well. He and I chatted the whole time, and I am kicking myself now for not having the wisdom to pay closer attention. The only thing I remember him talking about was something that happened during the time he served in WWII. He told me a story about how the plane his group was in got shot up by the enemy, and the hydraulic line got a hole in it. He stuck his finger in the hole and left it there until the plane landed. He giggled like a kid when telling me that the government gave him a medal for putting his finger in a hole…he really thought that was the funniest thing. Many years later after he passed away, I found out that the military had awarded him a Silver Star for this because he kept the plane in the sky and saved the lives of his crew members. This is a huge demonstration of how little things count.

The purpose of telling that story isn’t to brag up my grandfather’s heroism, though he is deserving of it, but to point out that those quiet moments when you are hanging out with someone who matters mean a lot. That one fishing trip up the river was the most time I ever got to spend with him at any one time, and I am grateful for it. While I don’t remember a lot of the conversation, I remember having a really good time. He was a good guy and I wish I had been able to get to know him better.

I am fortunate in that my Dad still lives, and I get to see him often. Yet, there are so many other men that have come and gone from my life, related or not, who have made a difference. They have not only taught me things, but they have helped shape who I am. While my kids aren’t so lucky to have a father who wants to be a positive role model in their lives, they sure are lucky enough to have men in their lives, most especially my own Dad,  who are willing to step up and help shape them into the men they will become.

To all those who are Dads, or just have the fortitude to step up and be the Dad or role model a kid needs…I hope you have a tackle box full of memories from your past you can pass on to someone, and that you share those memories, knowledge and values with wild abandon. Happy Father’s Day!

Counting blessings between the sneezes


The creeping crud: it got me!

Today was supposed to be a day of fun including shopping, and watching of the Superbowl with The Flirt. Two things happened to prevent these activities today; the Superbowl isn’t until next weekend, I now hear, and this morning I woke up sick. Yep…the local cold bug finally caught up to me in spectacular fashion. I will count my blessings that I haven’t had a cold like this in quite a while. Older Son was kind enough to grab me some Puffs with Lotion in them today, and that will save my nose any more misery than it need suffer already. I took a nice hot bath, ate some soup, and cancelled my plans for the day. Time to sit around and just veg.

I was looking at “This Week in Pictures” at MSNBC on-line. There are so many pictures of people enduring terrible hardships, just in the process of getting along in their lives, that it made me feel instantly ashamed that I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself having to skip my plans with The Flirt. It’s one thing to hear about someone else’s situation, but it’s another thing altogether to see it in a picture. I imagine it’s even a different thing altogether to witness it first hand. I encourage you to follow the link above to see just what I am talking about. There are some positive pictures sprinkled throughout this week’s collection, but the tragic ones struck me today, in particular, because I really have nothing to complain about…yet, here I sat wallowing in my own pity party.

Well, enough of that.

It gave me pause to think about all of the things I have to be grateful for today.  The first example I have is this new frozen soup mix I’ve discovered: Bertoli Roasted Chicken & Rotini Pasta. I’ve actually tried all of the different flavors, and they are all tasty, and easy to prepare. I ate two bowls full of this soup today, and it was heavenly. Felt like I’d had a home cooked meal, and I didn’t have to do anything but add water and bring to a boil.

The second thing I’m really grateful for is my trusty tweezers. My Faithful Readers will recall that I discovered several black hairs growing from my poor innocent chin, and I was forced to dispatch them with all haste and vengeance. Apparently one of the little buggers had decided to make another try for it, so I had to mercilessly kill it again. I’m rather violent that way, I’m afraid…bye, bye little vermin!

When I got up this morning, I was alone and it was a little chilly in the house. I turned on the tv, sat down and pulled the afghan up to my chin. Harley curled up on my lap and instantly warmed me up. He sat on my lap keeping me warm as I sat up waiting for Older Son to get off of work last night. He’s growing into his role as Professional Lap Warmer very admirably, which is exactly what I wanted.

It snowed today, but we have precious little snow on the ground already. Last week we had a few days where the temps hit at least 45+ degrees, which is unheard of for January weather. I feel more than a little spoiled, and I know that not having any snow could cause drought this summer, but after all of the water we dealt with last year, I think I won’t complain too much. We still have two months of winter left, and we will most likely have at least a couple more blizzards before the season is done. I’m just grateful that my snow shovels have been gathering dust in recent days.

I have this fabulous new fuzzy blanket, that I bought at the Red Big Box Store. Not only is it soft, but it’s been keeping me very warm at night in my cold bedroom. For some reason, my room is very cold, even though the new windows have done a good job keeping the drafts out, and this new blanket is so very warm. I haven’t slept so well in such a long time.

So there it is…some of the many blessings I have to count for myself on this sneezy day. I hope you can count as many blessings in your life, or more, today.

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