Hillbilly Zen – The Liebster Blog Award (I’m lovin’ it!)

For people with a full quota of self confidence, sharing themselves comes easily.  For the rest of us it can be a real struggle.  No matter how much encouragement comes from family and friends, there’s always that hesitation to reveal inner truths.  Ironically, sometimes it’s family and friends who planted that doubt in the first place, but that’s a topic for another post.  When we take that first chance with words on a page, photographs, paint, sculpture or music it’s terrifying.  Even though it becomes a bit easier with each successive effort, we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter if anyone likes our work or not.  We lie.  It matters a whole honkin’ lot.  So to be recognized as a peer by someone whose opinion we respect is a wonderful thing.

That’s what’s happening here.  lovinchelle, whose blog is one of my very favorite places to be and who is one of my very favorite people, nominated me for The Liebster Blog Award.  Some folks don’t care for these awards and that’s cool, but I think they’re great.  Will they enhance a resume?  Nope.  Will they increase income?  Nah.  Will they improve my love life?  Not so much.  What they do is whup the tar out of a creative person’s inherent insecurity.  They allow us a Sally Fields “You really like me!” moment.  They’re also the gift that keeps on giving, introducing us to fellow bloggers we might have missed otherwise.  By participating, we have the opportunity to experience the inner truths of others, to be one of the voices who offer encouragement.  We can make our little blogosphere a better place, and maybe learn a thing or two about ourselves and our universe in the process.

Here’s the deal:

Liebster Blog Award Rules:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger has set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

(I’m going to mix this up a bit and answer lovinchelle’s questions first.  My coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, so I’m taking the path of least resistance.)

1. Favorite thing to do? – Fishing
2. Ideal job – Turning my farm into an agri-tourism destination
3. Whats one thing you wear that probably needs to be thrown away? – A pair of ratty old toe socks
4. Do you work well with others? – Usually
5. Whats your mental age?(kid at heart?) – Hard to say – sometimes I feel incredibly old, but I still laugh when my dogs fart, so….six-ish?
6. Have you ever worked in a restaurant ? – Good golly yes, off and on, either as primary or secondary income for over 30 years
7. What do you like to eat? – Pretty much anything, and I’ve got the hips to prove it
8. Do you prefer outdoors or in? – Out, definitely
9. Could you survive without internet or cell phone? – Absolutely
10. What time is it? – 10:00 a..m. – time for another cup of coffee
11. Di d you groan or smile when you read the rules for this award? – Both

Eleven things about myself, otherwise known as TMHI (Too Much Hillbilly Information):

1.)  My favorite breakfast is pancakes and sausage on a stick and hazelnut coffee

2.)  More often than not I prefer the company of critters over humans

3.)  If the lottery gods ever smile upon me, one of my first expenditures will be opening an elephant rescue

4.)  I studied pre-law in college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth)

5.)  I’m not a big fan of organized religion or political parties

6.)  I’m a huge fan of margaritas on the rocks

7.)  My favorite song is Janis Joplin’s version of “Me & Bobby McGee”

8.)  I’m a sucker for kids, critters and old folks

9.)  I believe that pantyhose were invented by the Devil himself

10.)  I smoke like a chimney when I’m writing

11.)  I do not suffer fools gladly

And now for my nominees:

Childhood Relived

Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Olio talk by Suchitra Kaushiva

The Blue Hour

dlightblog

Rachel Mankowitz

seapunk2

Shoeful of Drool

A Little Bird Tweets

Gnawing the Bone

My Daily Minefield

Here is my list of questions for them to answer:

1.)  When did you discover your talent?

2.)  Who gave you the most encouragement to develop your talent?

3.)  Have you thanked the person from question #2?

4.)  Do you work better on sunny days or rainy ones?

5.)  What’s your favorite beverage to drink while working?

6.)  Favorite comic strip?

7.)  Do you prefer to be on dry land or on/in the water?

8.)  Do you speak more than one language?  (Yes, Klingon counts!)

9.)  If you could re-live one day in your life, which one would you choose?

10.)  What’s your favorite quote?

11.)  If you were offered the ability to fly, but only by becoming a buzzard, would you do it?

Okey dokey, nominees, have at it.  Remember, there’s no pressure here.  If you decide this isn’t your cup of tea, it’s all good, but I encourage you to participate.  It’s turned out to be very enlightening and rather fun.

This award is a little more complicated, logistics-wise.  Eleven is a big number when answering or asking semi-personal questions and making notification visits.  The only really easy part was picking that many nominees, so if any of these folks choose not to participate, don’t be a hater – visit their blogs anyway.  They’re that good.

Speaking of that good, thanks again to lovinchelle for being the wonderful soul that you are.

Hillbilly Zen – The Versatile Blogger Award (sometimes ADD really pays off!)

Motivation doesn’t come easily for me.  I have a tendency to rest on admittedly tattered laurels rather than risk rejection.  Pieces that have received past praise get dusted off, tweaked a bit and trotted back out.  Re-entering the whirl that is WordPress is forcing me to change that behavior, and although uncomfortable, I know it’s a good thing.  If we allow it, the Universe will send us rewards for our efforts at improvement, and this is a case in point.  A rockin’ young woman named Britt, who blogs at Fairytale Epidemic, nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award.  I’m a big fan of her work for several reasons;  she’s fearless about sharing her own fears, she’s sometimes funny but can be a little dark and is just a beautiful woman, inside and out.  Plus, the music videos she often showcases keep me from sinking into “Classic Rock Syndrome”.  So thanks, chicklet, for the cosmic nudges.

For those of you about to be nominated who are not familiar with the award process, it may sound a little chain-letterish (a friend dubbed it ” a positivity Ponzi”).  Someone nominates you for the award, you nominate others, they nominate others…you get the idea.  It’s a great way to discover new blogs that you might not have found otherwise, and if you choose to participate I can tell you from personal experience it’s a win/win.  First there’s the warm fuzzy of being recognized by a blogger you admire, which is always nice.  Second, it blows the roof off your blog stats, also nice if your goal is attracting more readers.

Please note that I said IF you choose to participate.  In my  thoughtless enthusiasm over a previous award, I nominated someone who didn’t really want the extra attention and has subsequently deleted his blog.  It may be hubris on my part to think that the nomination provoked his disappearance, but it has saddened me greatly.  So…no pressure, nominees.  If you’re not comfortable answering the questions and/or spotlighting other bloggers and you’d prefer not to cut and paste the “bling”, no worries.  I think your blogs are awesome either way.  With that said, here are some bloggers that rock:

Abandoned Kansai

Inspirez

Urban Wall Art & Murals

conTIMplating

Humbled Pie

Little Mind Seeds

Peculiarities and Reticences

Here’s how this works:

Versatile Blogger Rules  (If you choose to obey them)

  • Display the Award Certificate on your website
  • Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
  • Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers
  • Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

I cheated a little on the number of nominated bloggers.  I was also the recipient of The Liebster Award, so I had to keep some of my other favorite bloggers in reserve for that one.

So…seven things, eh?  And they have to be interesting?  Yeebees….

1.  I’m an aquaculturist (fancy name for fish farmer) with the goal of developing my farm into a successful agri-tourism destination.

2.  I participate in Bible study by phone once a week.

3.  I’m an Aquarius.

4.  Normal people scare me.

5.  Harley Davidsons make my heart go pitty-pat.

6.  One of my dearest friends is a seventh generation witch.

7.  Starting to blog again ranks as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

So there you have it, folks.  Stay tuned for more talented people in my next installment, “The Liebster Award”.  Thank goodness this can all be done while wearing sweats.  If these were red carpet events I’d have to get all gussied up in my Sunday-go-to-meeting overalls.

Hillbilly Zen – El Diablo (The Devil’s In The Details)

 

“Goodnight, babies.  Good job today.  See you in the morning!”  With one last swish of her ponytail, the stable manager flipped off the lights and closed the barn door.

For a few seconds, the only sounds were rhythmic munching and the muted rustling of tired horses shifting in their stalls. Then came the distinct sound of a throaty bass chuckle.

“Did you see the look on his face?  ‘I swear that horse tried to kill me!’” Frank’s normally deep voice rose several octaves, mimicking the panic-stricken voice of the rider.  Still snickering, he dipped his muzzle into the feed tub and lipped up another mouthful of oats.

“Priceless, Frank.  Everybody was looking at him like he was nuts, and there you stood looking all innocent, with that ‘one step away from the glue factory’ face you do.  Priceless, dude.”  Hank yawned and stretched his muscular neck into his water pail.  “That woman, though…she knows one end of a horse from the other. No way was I gonna to be able to get anything over on her.”

“The little girls were sweet.  So well behaved and considerate.  Good hands and seats, too.  I think I got more pats and smooches today than I have in the past month.”  Tinkerbell’s gentle voice floated up the stable aisle.  From the stalls on either side of her, George and Gracie nickered in agreement through mouthfuls of rich alfalfa hay.

Frank stretched his massive frame, old spur scars whitening beneath his bay coat. Yawning widely and giving a dog-like shake, he grunted in contentment.  Life was good, and a far cry from his days in the rodeo.  “El Diablo” they’d called him back then, and many a cocky cowboy had lost his seat and his dignity in the arena dust swirling around Frank’s hooves.

“Okay, time for this old gelding to hit the hay.  Night everybody.”  As his stablemate’s responses drifted from the rows of stalls, the old quarter horse shifted his weight one final time and dropped his head.  Almost immediately he began to snore softly, dreaming of cheering crowds and glaring lights.  His slightly swayed back twitched with memories of tightly clamped legs loosening as bronc busters flew off his back in windmilling arcs.

“Gelding, schmelding.”  Hank murmured, lips twitching in a sleepy smile.  “You’ll always be a stud.  Sweet dreams, El Diablo.”

 

bucking horse

Hillbilly Zen – Ponies on the Patio

When I was a kid, I had an imaginary stable of horses in one of my Granny’s flowerbeds.  There were horses of every conceivable color and breed, their names changing each day with the winds that swept the hilltop of our old homeplace.  They were perfect, requiring no food or maintenance of any kind, always ready for any adventure that a solitary child with a vivid imagination could dream up.  All I had to do was pick one from the “stalls” lined up in the beautiful deep purple iris beds that lined the fence in front of the house, saddle up and we were off to the far reaches of the farm, as fast as my pudgy little legs would carry me.  Scraggly scrub cedars became a dark, forbidding forest.  The large pile of moss-covered limestone remnants from an old rock fence was the perfect spot to converse with faeries and elves.  I pretended that the barn was a haunted castle (complete with very real cows that would occasionally emerge from the shadows to scare the peewaddin out of me).

Now I’m on a farm that reminds me of the one I grew up on, and I have three real horses that require real food and maintenance.  Lots and lots of maintenance.  Iris blooms don’t keep them in their stalls these days, and patching the dilapidated fence around their pasture is often an adventure in itself.

One repair mission in particular produced a surprising result.  Luckily, most of my neighbors are truly good people who alert me when there’s been a breakout, and sometimes even help capture the varmints.  A friend’s son was on his way home and noticed a large hole in the fence, my three hay burners investigating the gap with obvious mischief in mind.  He alerted his mom, who in turn sounded the alarm to me.  So it was that at midnight on a 20-degree winter evening I found myself ankle-deep in snow with wire cutters in one numb hand and a stubborn strand of barbed wire in the other, seriously questioning the benefits of horse ownership.

Hooves and Hammers

The three potential miscreants observed attentively, crowding in way too close and completely ignoring my irritated attempts to shoo them away.  Irritated is a gross understatement, and the printable gist of my grumbling was a caveat to my “helpers” that if they got knocked in the nose by a hammer it was their own darn fault.

It wasn’t until my grumpy muttering finally subsided that I began to notice the frigid tranquility of the night.  In the ensuing silence hooves and boots squeaked in the snow, interspersed by the crack of hammer against fence post that echoed like gunshots across the frozen field.  As anger’s heat dissipated, I began to feel the warmth of their bodies as they surrounded me, and appreciate their steamy puffs of breath as they peered over my shoulders.  Squinted grouchy eyes widened to see the brilliance of a full moon sprinkling diamonds across the snowdrifts, rivaled only by the crystalline clarity of the stars.  I was entranced, lingering even after the last strand of barbed wire was in place, just being present in that moment, trying to absorb such wondrous surroundings.  After planting frosty goodnight kisses on three soft muzzles, I drove back up to the house, musing on what I’d have missed if I’d have continued to feed my initial anger.  It’s extraordinary what our Creator sends us when we open our hearts and minds, and shut our mouths.

Equine Therapy

As I write this, my three red-legged devils are roaming loose in the yard, having escaped their pasture yet again to take up temporary residence with the dogs and cats.  Between working full time in town and more pressing chores on the farm, there just hasn’t been time to remedy the situation.  Truth be told, I’m dragging my heels a bit because I’ve grown to like having them so close.  There’s just something about having a conversation with a horse through the back door that makes me smile.

Some of their antics are not so endearing, true, but I love them just the same.  I love the way they smell when they’ve been warming themselves in the sun, and the calmness that envelops me while combing burrs from their manes and tails.  They listen patiently without judging as I recount the day’s events, commenting only with soft nickers and gentle nudges.  They don’t understand a word I’m saying, of course, but that doesn’t matter in the least.  They respond simply to the love they feel in my touch and the tone of my voice.  They also respond to the peppermints they get as treats when they hold still while being groomed, but mostly to the love thing.  Really.  It’s the love.

Even the mounds of “horse apples” that dot the yard (and the driveway – and the patio – and on one unforgettable occasion one of the cats, but that’s another story) are somehow comforting. They remind me of where I came from and where I am now, of childhood dreams that have come true.  If I don’t watch where I step they’re also a fragrant, squishy reminder to fix that fence.

 

Horse

The Reality Blog Award – How Cool Is That!

I’d like to thank the Academy…oh, wait…wrong acceptance speech.  That’s the one I do in the bathroom mirror on the rare occasions I have a good hair day, which involves the obligatory hairbrush/microphone and bottle of Suave/Oscar. Ahem.

Seriously, I do want to thank  janna hill for this nomination.  It’s funny, I just read a comment from another blogger, nominated for a different award,  who has “so many awards” she doesn’t accept them anymore.  No chance of that with this little hillbilly.  To be recognized by one’s peers is an honor, no matter the frequency.  By the way, I’m changing that “Y” in Reality from “Yippee!” to “Yeehaw!”  Just sayin’.

There are logistics involved with this.  The deal is, when you’re nominated, you:

1.) Visit the blog of the person who nominated you, thank them, and acknowledge them on *your* blog.

2.) Answer the five questions listed below and nominate up to 20 bloggers whom you feel deserve recognition.  Visit their blog to let them know.

3.) Cut and paste the award to your wall.  Easy peasy.

So with that said, on with our regularly scheduled program….

If you could change one thing, what would you change?

You earthling’s Humankind’s seemingly constant inclination to fight about every little blessed thing.

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

Fifteen.  That’s when I discovered boys.  If I’d left them alone like my Granny advised, I’d be Supreme Ruler of the Universe right now.

What one thing really scares you?

Driving on snow.  I live on a little country road that’s only marginally better than a cow path, and getting up and down these hills scares the peewaddin out of me.

What is one dream that you have not completed, and do you think you’ll be able to complete it?

To be Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and (see question #2) …no. ~sigh~

If you could be someone else for one day, who would it be?

Again, I refer you to question #2.  As Supreme Ruler of the Universe, I could summon all  the world leaders together in one big room, slap the snot out of them, tell them to get their act together and then make them by golly do it.

Okie dokie.  Now here’s the fun part – the bloggers that deserve all the love and recognition  they can get.  There’s prolly a bazillion more, but these are my personal favorites (not including  janna hill):

Thirsty Murphy

Masqua’s Art 

bussokuseki

lovinchelle

Masako and Spam Musubi

Wandering through Time and Place

Zen in the City

Mythic Bios

Undead Dad

hastywords

Jump for Joy Photo Project

Talinorfali

Now, all you freshly nominated folks – pay it forward!

Hillbilly Zen – Silly, Silly, Silly (The Ballad of Hank)

 

Silly, Silly, Silly

(The Ballad of Hank)

 

I sat on my back porch one morning,

drinking coffee and having a smoke.

Now this story is true,

I swear, although you

might think I am telling a joke.

 

The sun was up long before I was,

and really was getting too hot.

So I hauled myself up,

grabbing ashtray and cup,

to search for a cool, shady spot.

 

I settled in under a maple,

thinking “Yeah, this is where I should be!”

Then I heard a faint humming,

looked to see what was coming

just as Hank landed on my right knee.

 

I’ll confess I made quite a commotion

as I leapt from my seat ‘neath the tree.

Lots of yelling and fussing

(and a wee bit of cussing)

’cause Hank is a HUGE honeybee.

 

“Don’t be zcared,” he gasped,

plainly exhausted,

lying flat on his back in the grass.

“I’m in no zhape to zting you,

I can juzt barely cling to

thiz pollen that’z ztuck to my azz.”

 

He fluttered his little wings feebly,

after taking that ill-fated dive.

“Pleaze don’t kill me,” he pleaded,

“thiz pollen iz needed!

I’ve got to get back to the hive!”

 

Now I don’t claim to be a spring chicken,

this ain’t my first walk ‘round the block.

But it’s pure gospel truth,

though I’m long in the tooth,

I’ve never seen bees that could talk.

 

So I pitied the poor little buzzer,

trying so hard to just stay alive.

He told me his name,

I told him the same,

scooped him up and set off for his hive. 

 

He told me that bees get up early,

so this morning had been a great shock.

He’d slept in, overused

the button marked “Snooze”

on his minuscule honeybee clock.

 

As we walked, Hank revealed nature’s secrets,

things I never imagined I’d know:

why the sky fills with stars,

that there is life on Mars,

and what causes the breezes to blow.

 

I was just getting ready to ask him

something I’ve pondered for years;

how the Sun likes his coffee,

when Hank suddenly stopped me –

“I think I can make it from here.”

 

As I watched Hank fly off o’er the hillside,

and bid him a cheerful adieu,

I knew that this tale was a tall one.

No one would believe me,

do you?

 

So I sat down and wrote out this ballad for Hank,

I acknowledge that it’s quite a dilly.

Hadn’t been smoking chronic

or guzzling spring tonic,

sometimes…it’s just fun to be zilly.

bottom bee15

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