Category Archives: Blogging

Re-Feathering the Nest

It feels like a day to clean out, reorganize, and start fresh. I have a boatload of photos that I need to categorize in a sensible fashion. I want to redo the categories here on Wordtabulous.  My projects remind me of how, a few weeks ago, I watched some chickadees working on a nest in a tree in my backyard.

I love their little black caps!

I love their little black caps!

Then, after last week’s snowstorm, the nest looked like this:

nest resized

This has nothing to do with the post, I just like how it looks like an ice cream cone.

Today there is nothing left of that nest but a few scattered bits of grass on the snow beneath the tree. What I hadn’t realized is that the birds weren’t building a new nest, they were demolishing an old one for scrap to use in a new location. Talk about green construction.

It isn’t healthy to cling to stuff that doesn’t work anymore, be they ideas, systems, behaviors, or old ball point pens, but taking the old stuff apart, learning from it and reusing what is still good appeals to me. Do you have a closet, a desktop, a lifestyle or something else that needs a fresh start?

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Consistency, Surprise, and a Note to Readers

To all of you who read here, you may be wondering what the hell I am up to (especially lately) with the zigs and the zags on topics. It must be very confusing for those who think they have found here a fitness blog, or a photography blog or a quasi-humor blog, only to see the next post and wonder how many different people write here. This is the thing: I have a lot of interests, a nimble attention span, and a low tolerance for  uniformity. I am approaching my two year Blogaversary and have resigned myself to the fact that my “niche” is more of a blanket. This does not bode well for popularity; all the rules say that to be “follow-able” a blogger needs to be consistent with content. Oh, well. Popularity has never been my strong suit anyway. If you are also a member of the quirky, random tribe, and like what you see here, please follow my blog and let’s see where it takes us. If you have arrived expecting something else and are feeling confused and would like to find the nearest exit, let me just say thank you for stopping by and you are always welcome back. (The door is over there.)

I would like to add that there are certain things that I do often enough that it thwarts my no-consistency approach. Granola for breakfast and tea once or more daily, for instance.  Most days I take time in the morning to face east and greet the day. I take an insane number of photographs of sunrises. At least on this count, I can say that doing the same thing over and over doesn’t yield the same results. This morning, I didn’t expect much from the dawn. It is early March, and this time of year gray skies usually win, but today I got a surprise (click on the picture to see a larger version):

Photo by Lynnette Dobberpuhl

Photo by Lynnette Dobberpuhl

Regardless of what you were looking for when you got here, I hope you found something you can use. Peace!

You’re Going To Make It After All

I have been MIA for awhile. Recently all my blogging has been blocked by some big news on which I was sworn to secrecy. Do you remember back in February when I took a big leap and got a small job with McFarland Cahill Communications in a field I knew nothing about: PR, particularly media relations? I got to run the Kitchen Stage at the Minneapolis Home & Garden show where I met many local celebrities and chefs. I got to send pitches to Ellen DeGeneres, Playboy, Oprah and the Today Show by express mail, often at full speed at the very last minute. I helped create press kits designed to entice media outlets to take an interest in our clients. I visited our metro television stations and newspaper and magazine headquarters. I got to go to events like concerts and parties where I mingled with (or stood near) colorful and interesting people. This job was 90% magic (I also took out garbage, helped with invoicing, picked up groceries and supplies and did quite a bit of filing.) My employers welcomed me with warmth, humor and some borderline painful growth stretching opportunities. During my time there I have been surrounded by educated women with a lot of knowledge that has nothing to do with anything I know, and it has been bewildering and exhilarating.

A a short while ago my bosses called me in and told me that McFarland and Cahill were going their separate ways. They wanted me to start gathering the information we needed to work toward that end: inventory, lease agreements, subscriptions, etc. Until they had their own ducks in a row, the news had to be a secret, even from the other staff. Which sucked. Because misery loves company and I was ALONE, both figuratively and literally, as some or all of the others were out of the office on vacation or working offsite at that time. I was stunned, because I had counted on staying and growing so much more. When I took the job, I had thought it would be something to get me out of the house, brush a few cobwebs off my brain and maybe give me some writing opportunities and ideas, but I got so much more. I was deeply bummed that not only was it ending, it was ending so soon. With everyone out of the office and me doing paperwork and listing assets, I felt morose, like I was preparing grandma’s estate for the sale.

Cahill took a position as Executive Director for Smile Network International, an organization we had represented in the past and a cause for which she is truly passionate. McFarland prepared to move her PR skills into Minneapolis with McFarland Communications, continuing with several of her existing clients and some new ones. Eventually the rest of the staff were let in on the news, and they began making their plans. Amazing opportunities arose for them because they all have great experience and skills, while I, petty child, moved into the WTH stage of grieving. I was jealous that they were all moving on so quickly and I was moving…where? I couldn’t get excited about looking  more traditional admin experience. Recently, McFarland and I had a conversation. She said she likes my energy and skills, and despite my lack of industry-specific knowledge wanted to continue to work with me, if I was willing to take on the task of helping get their systems in order and dealing with a really fluid job description working for unknown numbers of hours at least part of the time in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Oh…boy. This was a stretch for both my skills and my tolerance for city travel at a time when I was still a little emotionally saggy from the break-up, but if there is one thing I have learned watching these people, it is that you have to be nimble and leap for opportunity when it presents itself.  I can be nimble. I can leap.

So, for the month of August, I will be archiving and packing and cancelling and throwing out, bringing to close a short but remarkable chapter. Then in September I will turn the page and begin making the 30 mile commute into Minneapolis, which I have been assured I will grow to hate. I am not thinking about that right now, however. When I was in my high school and college years, I always imagined I would end up working in the city, but until now I have never taken a job closer than a second-ring suburb. There is energy there, and untasted flavors that will help me mature as a person and a writer. My anticipation of this new experience downtown is successfully elbowing back any apprehensions. If Mary Richards can do it, so can I.

Blogaversary: Annual Review of Who Showed Up and Why

It is blogaversary time. Yes, Wordtabulous is growing older just like the rest of us. As I reflect on the past year I don’t know if I have learned anything that will help me, but I do, as always, have several observations to share.

Experts say that a blog needs a focus to build a following. I think they might be right. I knew starting out that my direction was a little unclear, but I thought my focus would evolve. I think we can all agree that this hasn’t happened. This is my official apology to people who have found their way here, thinking they were coming to a blog focused on: religion, cycling, fitness, product reviews,  cats, photography, food, wine, books, writing, or humor. If you came here for a  little unpredictability, welcome, you have come to the right place. Judging from the shiny statistics page, some came looking for Wordtabulous on purpose, but A LOT more–hundreds–came to get info or pictures of the musical group Walk Off The Earth, or info on the Beard Guy T shirt.  Just as many came for a word about Leah McLean, KSTP  news anchor. Between the searches on Leah and all the other local news celebrities, I can see there is an opportunity for a thriving site featuring personal information and gossip about them. So, there you go, people who want to do that, free idea with documented appeal. Here are a few other searches that brought people to Wordtabulous:

“what did Laura Ingalls fear the most, pa, animals, the winter, strangers in the long winter.” I LOVE that people seeking Laura knowledge have come here, but I am dismayed that someone seems to be trying to cheat on a multiple choice test. Read the book, cheater! The Long Winter was awesome!

you’ll trust you hate, you believe you tabulous this reality” This person is either drunk/stoned, or just free flowing with the searches. Maybe this is a misspelled song lyric? It seems very poetic. I am sure tabulous is a whoopsie in this context, but I’ll take it. Thank you.

dag yolu” According to a Google search of my own, this is a windy mountain road, or a place near a windy mountain road in Turkey. I once wrote about climbing a mountain road, but this seems very specific. Weird.

small particles in abyss” I am sure this searcher found this site and was all, “Gah! This isn’t what I was looking for!” but now I know I get to claim a portion of the abyss searches on the web so I am happy. Sometimes I think we are all just small particles in the abyss, how about that? Think of the odds of us finding each other!

“shadowtale how to make it night so that lady dances” At first I was all, oooh, dark and vivid, I like! and then I found out that shadowtale is a free online role playing game and so evidently someone just wants to find out how to work the game to get a free show. I am not a gamer in any sense of the word; I literally DO NOT HAVE GAME. I don’t even click on these things because they seem…unhygienic to me. So it is majorly confusing how this search connected here.  Although I do like to talk about nighttime, especially when the insomnia wants to play, so maybe? Seems thin.

naughty nurses with huge racks” hahahahahaha! I don’t know, I truly don’t, how this sad person found Wordtabulous, but I hope they were so entranced with what they found that they gave up their search for titillating eye candy and moved on to higher things, like cat blogs and charity bicycle rides.

I secretly dreamed that blogging would open doors of writing opportunity. I hoped that people would read what I had to say and ask for more. And a few did! Which was awesome. I have met some really interesting people here (check out the blogroll on the right,) and while I don’t want to assume anything, I think some of them would consider themselves friends of mine, as I do them. When I follow a blog, I take it seriously. I don’t “like” blindly. I try to read regularly and comment thoughtfully. But this makes it time consuming, and when I don’t have time to keep up I get way way behind. I am horrible about going out and finding new blogs to check out. It almost makes me wish I could emulate those folk who do the “like” hit-and run. There is a cynical efficiency to zipping around, clicking “like” and hoping that you hit on some people who will “like” you back and stick around long enough to draw their friends. And there are the freaks. There was one blogger, who shall remain nameless but who claims to be a marriage therapist, who “like”d a post I wrote and WordPress was all “Hey, Lynnette, check out some of this blogger’s posts; maybe you’ll like them!”  And all the posts’ titles had to do with the successful performance of a particular sexual act involving swallowing. No thanks, and I will NOT be clicking. Still, good for a (derisively snorting) laugh.

It takes talent and dedication to continuously draw followers and keep them. I admire those who are successful and wish them well. I suspect I will continue off to the side, musing and observing and throwing the occasional post out to see what you think. Thanks for visiting and being part of Year One of Wordtabulousness. Come back again, and comment any time you have something to say!

The Terror That Squeaks in the Night

An interesting confluence of bloggy circumstances had me dashing up the stairs the other night like a little girl, which is to say fast, knees high, squeaking in terror. First: a post on Lucy’s Football got me thinking about horrors that stalk the night, particularly little monkey horrors that might or might not glow in the dark and have long, scimitar claws. Secondly, the death of Ray Bradbury reminded me of the book Something Wicked This Way Comes, which was one of my earliest *can’t turn out the lights–the monsters on the loose will get me–read on read on* books. Then, I read a funny post by sillyliss which related one of her own experiences with conjuring up nightmares from books. I read this last post as the rest of my family were already sound asleep in their beds, oblivious to a horrendous thunderstorm which was shaking the house.

In our house we can turn off the upstairs hall light from the downstairs switch panel by the front door, but we can’t switch off the downstairs hall light from above. So, unless I wanted to potentially wake my mate by flicking on the upstairs hall light, (I didn’t) I either had to sleep on the couch downstairs or had to take the stairs in the utter dark, illumined only in sporadic but frequent flashes of lightning. Here’s the thing. Ages ago, I wrote a short story about a woman in either a mental health or supernaturally induced crisis (you be the judge,) and there is a bit that reads like this: I was watching the strobe of the lightning fill the kitchen and I could see the road, too, through the sidelight by the front door. I stood there, mesmerized by all the light and the oddness of being up at that hour, and I must have gone into some kind of a waking dream, had to have, because I heard a voice at my ear calmly say, “There is a gentleman at the door.” And there through the sidelight I saw a very tall gaunt man with misshapen legs, like the hind legs of the deer my husband brings home from hunting, only withered and knobby like sticks. He wore a fitted red jacket and a top hat tipped forward that hid his face. Seeing him in the flashing light almost made my heart stop, but watching him become invisible in the dark was even worse. The voice in my ear whispered, “I wonder what really happened to Grandpa?”  (If you want, you can read more, here.)

Maybe that just sounds weird to you, but the image is VERY REAL AND SCARY in my head and I about popped a ventricle getting up the stairs before I saw it for real, or got snagged by a mutated monkey claw. My point? I don’t have one, I think, other than that except for a little caffeine, I really don’t require drugs for entertainment. I got a whole amusement park going on in my head, powered by the ideas of my fellow writers. So, thanks for the kicks! And the palpitations! If I can return the favor I will be sure to do so!

So, what chases YOU up the stairs in the dark of night?

To Err is Human, to Post is Feline.

In 2002, when I read the writing on the wall, I knew one of two things was going to happen. Either I was going to drive my growing sons crazy chasing after them and wailing, “Hug me! Why won’t you cuddle anymore?” or I was going to get a kitten and transfer all my neediness onto it. No-brainer. Mr. Wordtabulous has always been miffed that he was not consulted, only informed of the cat acquisition, but to my memory I have only brought three major things into our home without discussing it with him: garage sale dining room table (epic win,) garage sale loveseat/hide-a-bed (epic fail) and Catabulous (epic win, with allowances for noise, midnight bed stomping and litterbox maintenance.)

Having neglected my blog lately, I was racking my brain for a topic to post on (yes, preposition, I know) and all I could think of was how adorable my cat is. One of my simple but guilty pleasures is looking at pictures and videos of cats online. They are funny, and often beautiful, and sweet. I like how people caption the photos. I am amused when people dress their cats, although that is going a bit far. The thing is, people LOVE cat pics and they get a LOT of hits. So “Cynical me” posed a question to “Deer-In-The-Headlights me” (she is my default–the one who is wandering around taking everything in and hoping to make sense of it all before the screeching crash.)

Cynical: Would you ever write a cat blog?

DITH: What do you mean, like a single post, or a whole, like, themed blog?

Cynical: Don’t play coy with me. Would you ever start a blog strictly around cat images, cat care, and cat love? Just to get the hits?

DITH: Let me think. I do really love my cat. If I did start such a blog, it wouldn’t be just for the hits.

Cynical: Oh, please.

DITH: Stop it. I don’t think I have enough material.

Cynical: That isn’t an answer. And seriously? About a fourth of your posts have something to do with a cat anyway. You aren’t far off from being a cat blog. As for material, what did you just buy?

DITH: A leash. For my cat.

Cynical: And if we looked in your photo gallery on your phone, what would we find?

DITH: Cat photos…lots of them. But he’s very photogenic! And everyone else I take pictures of look like they’re in pain!

Cynical: So you have the material, you have the obsessive interest, and you have the attention-seeking personality that would dangle tags like “cat,” “cute,” “funny,” and “playful,” with the objective of luring people in just to raise your stats. Why don’t you start taking pictures of your cat next to photos of movie stars, or of him watching trailers of new release movies so you can work those into your tags, too?

DITH: I don’t like your tone. And I don’t think people who write cat blogs are only interested in hits, they are sharing the joy of cats.

Cynical: Now you are just pandering to the cat bloggers.

DITH: Wow, you’re mean. Look, the answer is no. I wouldn’t write a cat blog just for the hits. Also, I don’t have the attention span for a single topic and I lack commitment. That is why my blog is the whack-a-doodle mishmash that it is. I write what I want to (yes, yes, PREPOSITION.) Besides, if I were really cynical, I’d write about Walk Off the Earth T-shirts and local news anchors because according to my stats THAT is where the action is.

That being said, here is a funny picture of my cat sitting on top of the novel A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. If only he was wearing my WOTE t-shirt and sitting on Leah McLean’s (from KSTP) lap.

A Note To Those Who Stop In

I am not trying to blow up my own blog or anything, but for those of you who blog here, there or anywhere, do you ever get the feeling some bloggers “like” your posts  just to get your attention and lure you to their site? And then their site is nothing more than the reproduction of other people’s posts? Or  images from other sites? I don’t want to be overly harsh, here. I mean, some of these images are clever and funny and I am glad I saw them, but they weren’t original to the person who posted them, and it was hard to figure out where they originated…which I am sure was a total accident. One time? (At band camp? sorry–I just heard that in my head.) I posted on my blog and within ten literal seconds of uploading my post I got a “like” from another blogger? It was a longish post, one that would be hard to even read in under a minute, let alone ten seconds. It was pretty good though, don’t get me wrong. Totally “like”able. Just maybe not that fast?

When I first started blogging, oh so many months ago, I was just a teensy bit raging against the void. I was having some trouble with pitching a manuscript to agents and publishers, and struggling with my voice and how tiny it sounds in the vacuum outside my head. I found friendship here and built some confidence. I stepped wrong a time or two, and owned it. The world didn’t shatter. I discovered others struggling with some of the same and some different issues and I found myself caring about them and what they have to say. In this time I have also been slammed with spam, and culled through tag-trawling in a most cynical way. I have built a following of real people, spambots and the hapless google searchers seeking information on the musical group “Walk Off The Earth” (yes, I totally love you kids and you can sleep on my couches if you come through town–you kids in the band, not the searchers, sorry,) and the ones who want to know what’s the latest on KARE 11 news anchor Rena Sarigianopoulos (I know, she’s awesome, I love her too, but I have nothing further on her since the Home & Garden Show.)  So speaking in terms of gross vs. net, I have increased my gross following. Do I have more net readers? If I do, what does that, exactly, signify?

Some of us write for attention. Okay, all of us here write for attention. If we weren’t, we’d be writing in a journal and it would never occur to us to “put it all out there” where anyone can see. Some of us write for the possibility of being discovered, hoping someone will find us on our counter stool at the soda fountain and say, “Hey, kid, I like your style! Why don’t you audition for a role with us? We’ll make you a big star!” It could happen. I would be swimming in my lottery millions, statistically speaking, before it does, but it has happened. Some of us simply write trying to make that ephemeral connection, thought to thought. The connection where something we think, then write, hits another’s neurons like the 4 ball into the side pocket, when just a second before the 4 ball was perfectly stationery there on the green felt. This next statement is important. We. Never. Touch. Each. Other. Not physically. Google it. It has to do with electrons and electromagnetic fields and the kind of stuff that simultaneously attracts and repels (like my brain and physics,) but we never never physically touch anything or anyone. But an idea can be transmitted from one brain to another and a connection made in that transmission. And that…that is what brings me back time and again to the words and the page and the endless frustration and joy that is writing.

So to all you real people out there, the ones who are here on purpose and the ones that just want to know if Leah McLean from KSTP 5 is pregnant (yes, she is, send her a note with your best wishes) and even the ones who are hoping I will click on your link to see  your plagiarized images or your digital cookie death traps, I want to say thank you. Thank you for checking in. Thank you for letting me know you are there. I hope you find what you are looking for, or at least something worthwhile. I hope you find a connection in this world and that it warms your soul, as you have mine. Thank you.