Rambling Thoughts From A Sleepless Night

~ I rarely have insomnia, but last night I did not sleep.  Too hot and humid outside.  Too noisy and AC-y inside.  I just couldn’t get comfy, so… 

•  I got up and surfed the internet until the battery in my notebook died– which was 2.25 hours.  I decided to go back to many of the new-to-me blogs where I’ve left comments over the past few months.  It takes quite a bit of focus and prayer for me to reach out to strangers and leave them a comment.  I know that comments are a good way of making friends in the blogosphere and I want to have more bloggy friends.  So I take a deep breath, write something sincere, and push “publish.”

It’s not easy for me, but I do it.

Checking back to see how well-received my comments were, I discovered that 40% of the new-to-me bloggers responded back to me – yeah!  40% of the new-to-me bloggers said nothing – hmm?  And 20% of the new-to-me bloggers didn’t even allow my comment to show up on their blogs – ouch!

•  After the battery went dead in my notebook I just wandered around the inside of the house in the dark, looking out the windows at nature and moonlight and total stillness.  I like doing this because it centers me in the moment, encourages me to look within.  I used to always get up early to do this, but fell out of the habit at some point.

While I was moseying around I got thinking about my health.  I’ve just finished a battery of annual tests and am quite healthy, thank you very much.  The only issue is that my cholesterol is a bit high.

Just something more to be aware of, I guess.

As I don’t know of anyone who eats meat who doesn’t have slightly elevated cholesterol, I’m rather “whatever” about this fact.  I figure that some small changes in my diet and a bit more exercise will fix this issue.  I avoid pharmaceuticals at all costs, so I will take on the challenge of making myself better all by myself.  No pills for me, says the doctor’s daughter.

•  Around 5:30 a.m. I decided it was time to make a pot of coffee and get on with the day.  After the elixir of life brewed, I poured myself a large mug of it and went outside to sit on the deck.  Morning was just starting to grace the sky with streaky, pink clouds and yellowish bursts of weak sunlight.  There were bats flying around everywhere– and birds chirping about something of [presumably] birdy importance.

I like our deck because it looks into the forest prime evil primeval
that leads to the ravine behind our house.  But this morning I was a bit wistful as I looked at the natural mess that is back there.  In a couple of weeks, we will have a new backyard.

Change is good.  And inevitable when you live on a hillside.

The backyard project will put in place a poured concrete landscaping wall.  Then about 28 tons of dirt will be hauled in to level off some of the land.  After that, the landscapers will plant lots of bushes in a visually pleasing, manicured way– which will transform our backyard into a more useable, but decidedly less rustic, place to be.

~ I’ve got nothing more to add to this post.  Morning is here and I’m ready to get on with my day.  I kind of wonder how productive I’ll be today, but figure that I’ll give it my best shot.  Some days “good enough” is the new “perfect.”

Our Weekend

Fun.  Lots of newness.  Much happy.

√  Set up our new computer, an iMac.  My first new desktop computer in 8 years.  Rather spiffy.

√  Got together on Saturday with some out-of-town friends who were here for the day.  Lots of laughs and our first visit to the oldest farmers market in the area.  Rather amazing.

√  “Created” a new cocktail.  Sweet tea + bourbon + a spring of mint.  Rather refreshing.

√  Put finishing touches on the paint job in the un-bedroom.  Means that after 3 years we are officially finished with repainting the entire inside of this house– and can reclaim our weekends.  Rather wonderful.

√  Changed my blog template to this more up-to-date one that you’re now seeing.  Rather dashing.

√  Started reading two amazing memoirs.  One with an artistic/scientific bent, the other with a celebrity/humanitarian bent.  Can’t decide which one to finish first so I keep switching back and forth between them.  Rather compelling. 

√  Decided to tidy up my twitter feed by deleting most of my tweets.  Have adopted a “less is more” approach regarding my future tweeting.  Rather liberating.

So how was your weekend?  Care to share?

Regarding Personal Style

I met a friend for dinner.  She arrived rocking the 1970s style trend that’s so popular now.  She looked perfectly at ease in that era’s clothes;  but then I realized that she always looks perfectly at ease no matter what she’s wearing.  So I asked her: “how do you always know what to wear to look good all the time?”

I figured that her answer would be about fashion magazines, long shopping trips to the mall and personal shoppers.

But instead, she seemed dumbfounded by my question.  And her answer made me laugh.  As she looked down to see what she had on, she told me that she had no idea what she was wearing.  She said that she just bought whatever was in the stores when she walked in– or online when she got around to shopping for clothes and accessories.

No planning.  No stress.  No external manifestation of deeper inner meaning. Just whatever.  “I’m too busy to keep up with fashion,” she told me.  “Do I have a style?”

I assured her that she did, and explained it to her.  She thought about what I’d said, agreed with me, and then asked me: “How do you know about all this?  Where are you getting this from?”

My answer was easy: “I read blogs.”  Blogs written by women with professional backgrounds in fashion who work as stylists.  Woman who are active amateurs with a passion for fashion.  Woman who dress well and like to share what they’ve figured out along the way.  All sorts of women.  All ages of women.  All kinds of styles.

Naturally, she wanted to know specifically what I was reading, so I told her.

When I got home I realized that a list of personal style/fashion bloggers would make a good and useful addition to my “Wonderful Blogs To Read” tab.  [Look up– white letters in the black line– kind of middle to right-ish– the one at the end.  Yep, that’s it.]  So I added a section to my blog roll that lets you, my gentle readers, know my current fav blogs.

Check it out, why don’t you?  You know you want to look good.  🙂  [Please note: fashion blogs on my blogroll deleted 10.11.  No longer interested in them.  Learned enough, I guess.]

Red, Wet & Blue

Our Fourth of July weekend was rainy, damp, humid.  No picnic in the park.  No day at the zoo.  No baseball game with fireworks afterward.  Instead, we had a weekend that only a mold spore could love.

Not. Too. Exciting.

So having nothing festive and fun to do, Zen-Den and I decided to be very grown-up and act like serious homeowners.  First, we super scrubbed the kitchen— oven, cabinet doors, pantry, freezer, granite counter tops.  Granted the kitchen wasn’t particularly dirty to begin with, but I have to admit that it’s amazing how shiny it looks now.  Clean and inviting.  Quite the happy space.

Then Z-D painted the sitting room— aka the un-bedroom.  After much debate about what color to put on the walls, we chose a very pale shade of gray that reads slightly blue.  Combined with the room’s white trim, this shade of gray creates a relaxing and easy space.  Rather like being inside a cloud.  Airy.  Filled with possibility.

And that, kids, was our weekend.  Not the traditional sort of Fourth of July celebration that we all know and love– but a practical use of our time.  Which, God willing the creek don’t rise, means that next weekend we can have some fun.

Let’s hope, shall we?

Blogging: Then And Now

Subtitled: In Which I Explain How I Came To Be A Blogger

Sub-Subtitled: Blame It On The Dirt

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I read my first blog in the summer of 1997.  I was searching online {pre-Google} for info on gardening in clay dirt when I stumbled across this unique website by a regional gardener/college prof.  The website was called a weblog and I was amazed to discover that this weblog was updated on a weekly basis.  I could return to the site every week and learn something new!

I was smitten: info, updates & a bit of personality.  Yes!  This was my kind of place.

###

But then my life got very busy and I forgot about weblogs.  In the fall of 2002 I read an article in a newspaper that linked to these new things called blogs— which I instantly realized were more advanced versions of the gardening weblog that I’d loved years before.  According to the newspaper article people were writing personal blogs that they filled like a diary or a scrapbook.  Then they shared their blogs with the world– and encouraged their readers to leave comments.  

Comments, I wondered?  What might this be?  So I followed the links in the newspaper and discovered that people were indeed now keeping daily blogs– and that readers were leaving their 2¢ on the blogs in a place called comments.

I was re-smitten: info, updates & a bit of personality combined with the ability to talk with people all over the world.  What was not to love?

###

Soon thereafter I jumped into blogging.  First, I commented and emailed with bloggers I found {mostly by spending hours surfing the pre-Blogher net}.  Then, on the advice of a blogger friend, I started my own blog– which turned out to be a huge challenge to create and a great deal of fun to keep.  However, after about four years of being a daily blogger, I was tired of keeping a blog so I let it go and walked away from the blogosphere.

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Fast forward to the winter of 2011 when I decided that it was time for me to get back into blogging.   Much had changed in my life– and in the blogosphere– so I decided to start this blog with the understanding that I’d not post on a daily basis and that I’d write about whatever interests me in the moment.  Just because I could.

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IMHO, the coolest thing about blogging is– and always has been– that with a bit of desire and gumption anyone can have a blog.  That’s what hooked me on blogging in the first place.  Personal expression + instant connection.   

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Blogging has changed along the way into something more polished and more organized than the early versions that I fell in love with.  Having recently re-entered the blogosphere, I see four things about blogging that surprise me.  Whether they are idiosyncratic to my experiences or the norm, I could not say;   I’ll leave that for others to figure out.  All I know is that things are not as they once were– and I’m cool with that.

  1. Blogs all look very pretty now.  In fact, in the process of setting up this blog I have not once used a piece of code.  Amazing.  I spent hours & hours & hours working on the code to get my first blog to look passible.  Now, pretty is a given.
  2. Blogs are all classified into niches.  I’ve found very few generalists like myself.  Instead, everyone who keeps a blog is [or wants to be] an authority on one specific subject.  I see nothing wrong with this, but realize that connecting with other bloggers is more difficult because of it.  Blogging is not as open and free-form as it once was.
  3. Most blogs are monetized now.  That was a new concept when I left the blogosphere, but today it is ubiquitous.  I understand the reason why people are trying to make money off of their blogs.  However, adverts and product placements put a different vibe into the blogging mix;  one that wasn’t there years ago when people blogged just for the fun of it.
  4. Many blogs do not seem to want commenters– as much as followers.  I see a shift away from the comment section as a cocktail party {with everyone chatting it up & discussing all sides of an issue} to the comment section as standing in line at the coffee shop {with casual, polite encounters & indifferent shrugs}.  It’s a different take on what it means to connect and communicate with others.  I get it, but it has taken me awhile to adapt to this more reserved approach to commenting.

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I feel fortunate that I discovered blogging early on and allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to give it a try.  It has evolved so far from my first encounter with it in 1997– and I couldn’t be happier.  Yet different as it is now, the basic concept remains the same: info, updates & a bit of personality.

Yep, I’m still-smitten… after all these years.    

Five Senses Friday

~ ~ • ~ ~

Feeling:

slightly anxious about home improvement decisions that we will be making this weekend

Hearing:

orchestral version of “Somewhere” (West Side Story) on classical radio station [not quite sure what’s up with that]

Tasting:

freshly brewed black coffee

Seeing:

bright pink petunias growing every which way in the planting bed next to the front sidewalk

Smelling: 

the slightly herbal, kind of citrus-y scent from my bath soap

~ ~ • ~ ~

{This wonderful idea is from abby try again.   If you wish, you may play along in the comments below or on your own blog.}

Visiting The Oldsters

Over Father’s Day weekend we went to visit my in-laws, aka the Oldsters.  They live a good four-hour drive from us and are 80 years old, more [FIL] or less [MIL].  This weekend reminded me of many things that I’d long forgotten about.

•  We drove in Z-D’s SUV which is eleven years old.  It has no place for an iPod, with a broken CD player, and a radio that works when we’re near signals, but not in the empty spaces we were driving through this weekend.  We turned off our cell phones and sat together in silence only broken by our conversation.  It was wonderful to be totally detached from noise.

  I didn’t feel like reading– roads too bumpy, sunshine too intermittent thanks to lots of trees blocking it.  So I looked out the window to see what I could see.  It’s been a very long time since I just watched the world go by– cows, barns, farms, and exits with fast food establishments and gas stations.  It was relaxing to be out of the city and just existing as we drove along. 

•  The Oldsters were happy to see us.  We had lunch at their house [chicken salad sammies, natch] then went shopping for a wedding present that we were buying together.  BB&B fascinated them with all its stuff– and the price tag of said stuff.  It was fun to watch them be amazed by the beautiful things that the world has to offer now.

•  We left the house at 3:30 pm so that we might get to dinner at 4:00 pm!  This was to ensure that we’d be back home and safely within the house before 6:00 pm when FIL’s fav tv shows are on.  The small restaurant we went to had delicious, old-fashioned style food– ham loaf, smothered chicken, basic cole slaw.  It also had the smallest wine & beer list I’ve seen in years, so Z-D and I had a glass of the only Cabernet Sauvignon on the menu– which was delicious.  It was fascinating to be somewhere with so few choices and such good quality.

•  We got back to the house in time to watch Sanford & Son and All In The Family.  I hadn’t seen either of those shows in– well, decades.  And while the former is very dated and tedious, most of the humor in the latter has held the test of time.  It was entertaining [and a bit sad] to see FIL laugh with Archie about the way things should be. 

•  We left mid-morning on Sunday.  The Oldsters had turned on the Weather Channel at 7:00 am to check what might be in store for us on the drive home.  Once they saw that there were thunderstorms on the way, they became agitated about us getting on the road ahead of the rain.  In their world, driving in the rain is very bad and risky.  Z-D pointed out that we have a SUV with 4 wheel drive, but they were having none of that nonsense!  So we packed up and hit the road.  It was interesting for us who live entirely apart from any family to experience a bit of “parenting.”

•  Driving home in silence, just watching the road go by, I saw a sign for a small town called “Belleville.”  I know nothing about this particular town, but in a snap my empty mind filled with the images of and the theme song from a delightful movie called: “The Triplets of Belleville.”  It was a pleasant, but unexpected, ending to a visit that went quite well– and brought back to me memories of times gone by.  

[for your entertainment…]