Hillbilly Zen – The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get

I asked for help with a tagline, and got more than I expected from mlewisredford.  In addition to some excellent advice, he included this in his reply, which in turn sparked a couple of brain cells that survived my misspent youth.  Crank up your speakers and rock out.

Hillbilly Zen – “Say Your Name” – Blogging 101

 

Today’s assignment: edit your title and tagline. Make your readers’ first impression a good one!

I’m happy with my blog title, but adding a tagline is a possibility.  The tips included in this Blogging 101 assignment are helpful;  give your readers an idea of what you’re about, make it unique, etc.

Most of you guys have been with me for awhile and you’ve never steered me wrong, so I would greatly appreciate your ideas on this subject.  There are three options:

No tagline, just the header (like it’s been up until now).

“Heaven doesn’t want me.  Hell’s afraid I’ll take over.”

“Exercise.  Eat right.  Die anyway.”

These aren’t terribly Zen, I know, but they’re representative of where my head is right now.  You all know me just about as well as anybody, so…what do you think?

There’s a fourth option, too – if you’re so inclined, suggest a tagline of your own choosing.  I look forward to hearing from you, and I’ll post an update with the results.  Thanks, everybody!

Hillbilly Zen – Happy (Belated) 420!

I Got Stoned and I Missed It

Oh yes boys play it sweet for me
I was sittin’ in my basement I’d just rolled myself a taste of
Somethin’ green and gold and glorious to get me through the day
When my friend yells through my transom grab your coat an’ get your hat son
There’s a nut down on the corner a givin’ dollar bills away
But I sat around a bit and then I had another hit
And then I rolled myself a bomber thought about my momma
Looked around fooled around played around while and then
I got stoned and I missed it I got stoned and I missed it
I got stoned and it rolled right by
I got stoned and I missed it I got stoned and I missed it I got stoned oh me oh my

It took seven months of urgin’ just to get that local virgin
With the sweet face up to my place to fool around a bit
And next day she woke up rosy and she snuggled up so cosy
But when she asked me how I liked it Lord it hurt me to admit
I got stoned and I missed it…
[ fiddle ]
I ain’t makin’ no excuses for so many things I uses
Just to brighten my relationships and sweeten up my day
But when my earthly race is over and I’m ready for the clover
And they ask me how my life has been I guess I have to say
I was stoned and I missed it…

by Shel Silverstein

(Author’s note:  In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t really get stoned and miss 420.  I was aware of yesterday’s significance, but due to budget constraints, herbal enhancement is at the bottom of my priority list right now and likely to remain there for quite some time.  But there are days, my friends, that I really, really miss “missing” things.)

marijuana-poster

Hie Nonny Nonny and a Hot Cha-Cha!

 

Just a little Saturday silliness…

Hillbilly Zen – Annie in the Fog

 
Annie in the Fog

My old girl Annie on this foggy morning. She’s the one I wrote about in Cold Comfort – The Solace of Solstice.

Hillbilly Zen – Tornadoes, Snow Storms and Ducks on Ice

(Author’s note:  Yesterday there were tornadoes in Kentucky, today we’ve got snow and ice.  Like everyone else, I’m starting to feel the strain of constantly being chilled to the bone and interminable shades of gray. So, I decided to take my own advice and count my blessings.  I wrote this column for the local paper back in 2008.  Hope you enjoy it.)

Tornadoes, Snow Storms and Ducks on Ice

Every now and then, our world turns upside down.  We are yanked out of our personal comfort zone and forced into an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with our own mortality.  We all, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, walk a fine line – the razor’s edge of existence – with every single breath we take.  Perhaps it is some primal survival instinct that keeps us from dwelling on this, some intrinsic coping mechanism that urges us to quickly process traumatic events and then resume our everyday routine as soon as possible.  We spare little, if any, time to ponder the tenuous nature of our time on this earth.  But…every now and then…our Creator reaches down, bips us upside the head and commands our attention.

We all accept that Kentucky weather is predictable in its unpredictability.  When 700 temperatures plummet to 300 within a day’s time we just shake our head, roll our eyes and wonder why we even bothered to put the long underwear back in the dresser drawer.  But to see the wreckage from one week’s tornadoes covered by inch-thick ice the next week must surely give pause to even the most stoic among us.  This is not just “Kentucky weather”.  This is a stark reminder of how capricious the Fates can be, how what we often take for granted can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.

Photo by NOAA

Tornado Damage in Town

It gets a little festive on my beloved hill the Tuesday night the tornadoes hit.  For the last few weeks, we have been in some sort of weird pattern in which every Tuesday brings severe weather.  Although the previous Tuesday’s winds seem to have howled a bit louder, it becomes evident that this Tuesday’s storm means business. Brief, fervent pleas tumble from my lips each time the house shakes, and even the cats deign to join the dogs and me as we huddle in the bathroom.  When it is all over, a few tree limbs are the only damage on my farm.  The house withstands the onslaught, the barn and the horses are fine, so I offer a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving and go to bed.  After seeing the enormous property damage done throughout the county, it really hits me that it’s only by the good Lord’s grace that no one was killed.  More prayer then, and grateful wonder at the mercy shown to all.

That’s what it comes down to really, doesn’t it?  It’s all about finding those grateful moments.  In the dark times a little extra effort might be required, but if you keep at it, focus on finding even one thing to be thankful for, gratitude gets a little easier each day.  The coolest part is, even the smallest benevolence can produce sizeable joy; ducks on ice, for instance.

On the first gray, dreary morning after the ice storm I dread going out, but my critters are first priority so I bundle up and gingerly make my way out onto the porch.  The ducks immediately start clamoring to be let out of their pen, and ice stormthus begins one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. The minute I open the gate, they stampede out like they usually do.  Instead of slapping across grass, however, their little webbed feet hit a solid sheet of ice.  This is closely followed by their little feathered bottoms hitting the ice.  I can almost hear “The Blue Danube Waltz” playing in the background; Da da da da dum (Splat! Quack! Splat! Quack!), da da da da dum (Splat! Quack! Splat! Quack!).  Gospel truth, I laugh until I literally have tears in my eyes.  The ducks seem to take offense at my helpless laughter, glaring at me as if their lack of traction is my fault.

After that the day seems a little brighter and a bit warmer.  My burdens, whether real or imagined, feel much lighter.  Each remembrance of that moment will bring laughter and thanks to God for a hilarious mercy shown on a dismal winter morning.

It’s ok to feel sorry for yourself sometimes.  Go ahead and have a pity party, but make it a short one.  Then find something, even the tiniest little thing, that makes you smile.  Blessings aren’t that hard to find, and even a little bit of gratitude goes a long way.

Photo by Marin Winters/Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Marin Winters/Wikimedia Commons

Hillbilly Zen – Temporary InZenity

images (1)More often than I care to admit, my inner hillbilly overcomes my attempted Zen. Today was a prime example.  One of the blogs I follow is Week Woman, which features feminist topics.  I’ve found some other feminist writing to be strident and accusatory, much like a revival preacher in all-out “hellfire and brimstone” mode. That’s not the case with Week Woman, whose posts are well written, containing healthy doses of irony and wit.  Today’s post, “No More Silencing”, really got me stirred up.  I mean full tilt, righteously indignant, panties in a knot, screeching like a howler monkey stirred up.  It was hillbilly vs Zen, and hillbilly opened up a Costco-sized can of whupass.  Poor Zen never stood a chance.

Normally when I post a comment it’s with the feelings of the author in mind.  I try to be complimentary (but only if I mean it), and/or funny.  I was neither in my reply to “No More Silencing”.  I was wound up tighter than an 8-day clock and more concerned with what I had to say than how it sounded.  I suppose I thought it was implied that I agreed with her post.  In this state of complete self-absorption, however, I inadvertently offended the author, who understandably thought my scathing comments were directed at her.

I didn’t realize my error until I read her reply to my comment, in which she calmly and surgically cut me off at the knees.  I apologized immediately, which was the least I could do. The most I can do at this point is to ask those who read this to click on the links above.  Best case scenario is added readers for her blog, bestest case scenario is an “Aha!” moment for those who read her post.

I could blame it on menopause or too much caffeine or rusty blogging skills, but ultimately I can only blame myself for offending her.  I meant every word of my reply, but my diatribe was directed at the subject of the post, not the author.  I am deeply sorry for my failure to make that clear.  So readers, please visit the links above, and hopefully the author will come to see that although I am sometimes an ill-tempered old heifer, I’m not a complete ass.

Back Like A Bad Penny!

Bad pennyAfter six weeks of apoplexy-inducing interaction with an unscrupulous computer “repair” business, my laptop is once again ensconced on my lap. Needless to say I’m delighted, unlike my cat Puh, who keeps shooting me narrow-eyed dirty looks because he no longer has access to said lap. He’ll get over it, and I’m trying to. Instead of dwelling on the negative (the previously mentioned business, which is apparently staffed by chimps with hammers), I’m trying to focus on the genius and generosity of Thomas Vukelic of Cold Springs Computer Repair in Harrodsburg, KY. In one week and for half the cost, he corrected the original problem as well as repairing the damage caused by the tool-wielding primates.

I’ve missed you guys! Scanning through the comments you’ve left reminded me just how wonderful the net can be, and how great it feels to have access to such a talented group of people. It’s going to take me awhile to get caught up, but I’m chomping at the bit to read what you’ve written and see what you’ve painted and photographed. Thanks for all the good vibes and kind words. We now resume our irregularly scheduled programming…

Hillbilly Zen – Hazelnut Coffee and Pancakes on a Stick

I’ve had what I thought was difficulty writing before: no inspiration/motivation, trying to find  just the right phrasing, sweating a deadline, etc.  That all pales in comparison with this last week.  What began as a simple writing exercise morphed into a maelstrom the likes of which I’ve never experienced.

Surgeons are discouraged from operating on family members, detectives aren’t assigned to cases involving relatives or friends, judges and juries are dismissed from deciding the fate of anyone with whom they’ve had prior contact.  So why is it that writers are driven to fill pages with visceral thoughts and feelings?

I’ll ponder that later.  Right now I’m going to seek out the most mindless recreation available, while drinking hazelnut coffee and scarfing down a couple of pancakes on a stick.  The reason for these neuron-numbing, pound-producing indulgences?  The “Haiku for Two Trees” series is finished.

The story it tells may be impossible for anyone but me to follow, but I hope readers will find some beauty in the words.  The memories and emotions that swarmed from this Pandora’s Box have been duly noted and properly dealt with, for now anyway.  I know they will always haunt me, but they are less strident, less accusatory.  Grief has been softened by retrospection.  A fringe benefit of that inexplicable writer’s drive, I suppose.

As stated before, this series was inspired by a photo posted by lovinchelle.  I admit that during this last week I vacillated between wanting to thank him and wanting to throttle him for starting all this.  Now that it’s in the rear view mirror I can sincerely say it’s the former.

If you’d like to see the series presented in one chronological post, it’s here.  I’m still debating whether to use the subtitles or go with I, II, III, etc., and would greatly appreciate feedback.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all who have visited and shown their encouragement.

Online Bingo, here I come.

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

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