Weird, random memories encourage my Muse

Tonight As I finished up doing the dishes, I was rinsed out the sink was struck by the memory of my Grandpa wiping their new stainless steel sink dry every time he finished doing the dishes.

He and Grandma saved up to remodel their kitchen, and had everything installed brand new. The previous sink was old, stained porcelain, and that shiny new stainless steel sink was newly in vogue at the time. It’s no wonder he was so careful to wipe it down after every use.

I have to wonder what he’d think about me letting my stainless steel sink air dry? Probably he’d get why I don’t bother, though I can’t remember if he and Grandma quit wiping the sink dry before or after he passed away. I have no memory of Grandma doing it at all.

Strange how random memories pop to the surface like a bottle that’s been trapped on the bottom of a lake, until something shifts.

These are the type of things that roll through me, and inspire me to sit down and write. The Muse hits me and if I don’t get it out in the moment something is lost if I try to pick it up later. I’m glad to have a chance to put this down in writing. Later when I’m gone, I hope my kids appreciate the stories and the quirky way my mind works. Hopefully they see a little if themselves in me.

Here’s hoping your Muse strikes you at a time and place that allows for proper expression. It’s such a loss when the ideas barrel through an are lost for lack of an opportunity. Blessings all!

Day Trip: Theodore Roosevelt National Park-North Unit

Yesterday we got in the car with another couple and drove from Minot all the way down to Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s North Unit. Not only was it a good time spent with good folks, but the 2 1/2 trip to get there was worth it just for the privilege of driving through. The landscape is so pristine in places it looks like humans haven’t touched it at all.

Once we paid the fee to get in the park, we got onto the road heading in and we’re stopped by two bison just standing in the road. I swear they were messing with us and all of the of the other vehicles parked in front of and behind them. They’d take a few steps and then just look around and stand there.

At some point one of them sauntered off the road, but the other one took his sweet time before following his buddy. It was about 15 minutes waiting until we were able to move forward.

I took so many pictures and videos, but I won’t put them all here. I want you to come to North Dakota and see it for yourself. Just looking at the picture doesn’t give you the actual feel of the grandeur of the place, you certainly can’t smell the sage that grows prolifically there (OMG it smelled so good!), and I just can’t adequately communicate the weight of the history of the place. It just oozes with it. As it turns out, this is the northern end of the Badlands, the beginning of one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Wishing you all safety and relaxation in these uncertain times. Blessings all!

Motorcycle riding as good medicine

This week, The Flirt and I went on our first bike run of the year. To be honest, I was dreading it a little.

For the last several months there hasn’t been one day that I have slept well, or haven’t been in some kind of pain. I’ve been dealing with a really bad knee, and back spasm issues that seem to plague me constantly. I was more than a little worried that riding for too long in the motorcycle would exacerbate it to the point of agony.

I’m super happy to report that the opposite happened, and that was an unexpected joy!

We rode and hour to a neighboring town with some people from where I work, had supper and rode home again. Not only was it just a quiet, fun time, but the path we took was beautiful.

It’s hard to take pictures from the back of a moving motorcycle, but sometimes I get lucky.

When we got home, I took a hot bath, and went to bed. I slept so hard and so deeply I don’t even recall waking up in the middle of the night, which generally happens at least three times a night.

I haven’t woke up so refreshed in a long time. I think I finally just relaxed sitting on the back of that bike, taking in so much fresh air, and just watching the scenery as we rolled through. I had no music or news, just the wind and the sound of the bike to keep my ears busy. It was lovely.

It didn’t occur to me why I felt so good the next morning, until I was parked outside of work the next day and I noticed my back and neck were starting to tighten up and ache.

Ah ha… the lightbulb goes on. 💡

I don’t dislike my work, and I love my team, but things have been stressful since COVID-19 rolled through and messed everything up. Even though I’ve been thanking my lucky stars that I still have a job, it’s been weird and stressful. It seems as though I’ve been internalizing that stress, which manifests itself as aches and pains.

I guess we will just have to get on the bike more often. It seems to be good medicine!

Here’s hoping you all find excellent relaxation in unexpected places. Be good to yourself, and take advantage of little ways to feel better. It all adds up. Blessings, all!

Getting caught “naked” at the hardware store, and Bleeding Hearts

With all that has happened with COVID-19, it’s become apparent that wearing a mask to protect others in case you are contagious is a good thing. Generally I do try to wear it when I go out, but yesterday I forgot.

So, here I am at the local giant hardware store, and I run into some people from work, both of which had masks on. I realized I’d forgotten mine, and instantly felt naked. I wasn’t quite busted, because we all still have free will to wear the mask or not, but at my job we are required to wear one. It’s not a good look to be caught out in the community without it.

So, I guess it is streaking in public of a sort. oh well. I will endeavor to do better.

In other news, I have really been pleased that a shrub I planted last year, and thought was dead, practically burst out of the ground and flowered.

Bleeding hearts have been a favorite of mine for a long time. My grandmother always had a giant bleeding heart shrub in her back yard, and it’s been one I have tried to grow myself, but just never had any luck with until now.

Every time I see a bleeding heart, peony, or a petunia plant, I think of Grandma. I spent a lot of quality time with her, either baking or puttering with her in her yard and gardens. Those memories continue to bring me joy all these years later. I can only hope that I can learn to be half the gardener she was.

Here’s hoping you all have some precious memories of spending time with an important person in your life. They are more precious than gold. Blessings all!

Choosing to live in the moment

Good morning, Faithful Readers!

I am luck to have time in my back yard this morning, with coffee and a scone from Minot’s Daily Bread, and the weather is beautiful. What a lovely start to my day.

I have a choice of indoor or outdoor chores today, and I think I will do the outdoor stuff until it gets hot. So many chores to pick from, but I think I will work on putting down more landscaping fabric and wood chips. I also need to get a dirt space weeded and ready for planting, but I still have a little time for that yet.

Something I noticed today while driving home from my coffee run, is that even though things are really ugly right now, life will change for the better at some point.

I always tell my kids to appreciate things when life is good, because it doesn’t last. Bad times don’t last either, but many times it feels like it goes on forever.

I think the key to stretching out the good times is to be present, and not take that period of time for granted. It works in the moment as well. Sometimes, it almost feels like time stops when you can be present in the moment. What a rare and precious event that is!

I could sit out here all day, soaking up the sunshine, and listening to all the birds chip as they go about their morning. I really need to get something done… making hay while the sun shines, and all that.

Before I sign off, I want to share a bit of my morning with you. I wish there were more birds and less traffic, but it is what it is.

Here’s hoping you find these precious moments of peace, and live within them for as long as you can. Blessings all!

Tending graves and other simple pleasures

Today was a quiet Memorial Day for The Flirt and me. We went for a drive, and as the holiday called for, we went to visit graves.

And, I’m happy to say, that I learned a little something about how to keep a grave up. You see, it’s become my time to take that responsibility for the family.

First stop was my grandparents graves north of town. It didn’t occur to me to get flowers to take out there, but I got lucky that the ones Dad put out last year held up fairly well. The cemetery owners do a fair job of keeping the cemetery up, but the graves need a little TLC. I noticed that there are chunks missing from my uncle’s grave marker, and I’ll have to take that up with the keepers. There’s no rush, so we’ll leave that for later.

We ended up at the cemetery where The Flirt’s family is buried, south of Parshall, ND. It’s a beautifully kept cemetery on rolling countryside. We met his sister-in-law, and we helped her clean up the gravestones, replace flowers, etc.

The Flirt’s sister-in-law had quite a kit with her. It contained all manner of hand gardening tools, clippers, & fake flowers. grave markers and stones were dug out, swept off, and clipped around. We removed some of last year’s flowers and replaced those. Stories were told, and it was a lovely North Dakota spring day.

We said our goodbyes and went to check out Lake Sakakawea. The water is way down, but it didn’t seem to stop people from camping, boating, and fishing.

You have to love the sounds of birds and water…

Today we remember those who died in uniform. They gave their lives so that we have the freedom to roam around free, and spend peaceful weekends with families and friends. Here’s to them, and all that we owe them just to be able to enjoy the simplest of pleasures.

Here’s hoping you had a lovely weekend, and stopped to take a minute to feel gratitude. It’s the least any of us can do. Blessings all!

It’s better than screaming and throwing things.

Life has been crazy and weird here on the High Plains. We have had relatively few cases of COVID-19 in ND, but two weeks out from our Governor opening our state back up, our numbers are exploding. Yesterday we had 102 new cases reported, and today there were 134.

I called my Mom to talk about what’s going on with Younger Nephew’s graduation ceremony, which we won’t be able to attend, and she let me know she and Dad were on the way out to take her to get tested for the virus.

In ND, unless they are mass testing particular populations of people, you can’t get tested unless you have any of the symptoms. I’m hoping she just has a cold.

More on that later.

In other news, I’ve had a lot of time off being partially furloughed. I managed to get my kitchen painted a nice shade of blue, swapped out the old fridge for a new one, and got some projects done in my yard. I have a whole truckload of projects on deck, but now I’ve been told I am going back to work full time next week. Yay!

It’s going to be kind of rocky, as a condition of our return is that we are going to have to fill in for others who either can’t, or won’t, come back to work. Some tasks I’m qualified for, and some I’m not. I’ve had to push back on being asked to do some things that I just know I’m not qualified for. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down for what you believe in.

Today I worked a few hours, and I will work a few more tomorrow. This will be my last opportunity to get any of my projects done. No more weekends as I’ll be working Sundays going forward. That’s ok. Sundays are good, quiet days to get a lot of work done, for the office at least.

It’s been stressful, and weird, and I don’t like any of this. Sometimes I get so wound up about all of this crap, I find myself crying over stupid things. I’m guessing that I get just too full up with the stress of all of this, and it has to leak out somewhere. I guess it’s better than screaming and throwing things.

The other day I went out to mow my lawn, and I noticed all of the dandelions in the neighboring lot.

The site of all of these happy little flowers made me take a deep breath and just relax, even if it was for a few minutes.

It’s good to stop and notice the flowers. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air. Open your windows and get some fresh air in. Do something that makes you happy. Just make sure to do something for you. Little things matter. Mental health matters. You matter.

Here’s hoping that this note finds you all well and thriving. Remember to take care of yourself. Blessings all!

“…oh yeah, that’s the night we stole the limo…”

So The Flirt and I are sitting in the living room watching 80’s videos (you know, back when music and their videos were good), and there’s no titles or artists listed on the videos as they came on. We made a game out of trying to remember the names of the bands and songs as they appeared.

Along with guessing the artists and song titles came discussion of what bands we’ve seen, and who’s still on the “to see” bucket list. This one song came on the tv just then that we had a hard time identifying. Then out of his mouth pops… “oh… I saw them. Yeah, that was the night we stole the limo…”

The Flirt used to drink quite heavily back in the day, and has a lot of interesting stories to tell. Today he launched into this story about they got into someone else’s limo after a concert, and got the driver to take them home to the after party. That’s not really stealing, but more of a coercive hijacking. Apparently the limo driver liked to party and was easily talked into shenanigans.

Then there was the time that the Flirt and his friend ran into a bunch of guys coming out of a bar and offered them a beer. Turns out that group of guys was the band Skid Row, and their kindness in offering them beer earned them a pass to the hotel the band was staying at in Fargo that night. The Flirt and his friend showed up, and did in fact party with Skid Row. Not much is remembered, other than a good time was had by all.

This storytelling is something The Flirt does all the time, and it feels normal to hear all about his wild, misspent, drunken youth. I’ve heard so many of the stories several times, but this one about Skid Row was new, and only remembered because their video came on randomly today.

Doing stuff that feels normal is a big deal right now. Everything we normally do has been tipped over on its head, and we are having to find our way again through the most mundane tasks. Today I was messing with my unemployment, having to certify for the week past, and it was stressful. I don’t like being on unemployment. The Flirt telling me stories today was a nice touchstone to help keep me grounded.

Something else we do that is so normal for us is ride the motorcycle. When the weather shows the least bit of warmth, the motorcycles come out in droves. We were no exception. It was good to get on the bike and just go. No masks, no extra social distancing, just he and I on the bike, like normal. Our butts were a bit sore after the first ride of the season, but that’s normal too.

This last week I worked very little, but got very much accomplished around the house. One of the things I did was plant flowers. I usually wait until May or June, but the weather has been so warm that I just needed to get my hands in the dirt and plant something. That’s one of the most normal things I do in the Spring.

Doing normal things helps. Here’s hoping you all find those normal touchstones throughout your days, as we make our ways through these strange and precarious times. Grab onto those… they help so much. Blessings all!

Feels like I’m playing hookie today.

Today is Monday, and I feel pulled to go to work, but I’m not working. Having been partially furloughed, I am off more than I am working. I kind of like it, and I kind of don’t.

Not working on a Monday makes me feel like I am playing hookie. The Flirt and I have errands to run today, and while he ran into a store to grab something I’m parked in the street, facing the northern most part of Main Street. It looks like a ghost town.

Usually Main Street is packed with parked cars, and there is all kinds of people either walking or driving around. Not much happening these days due to the virus, and we’ve already lost one downtown business.

Many businesses are trying creative ways to keep going, and I hope they do. I’m sure there will be a few more businesses lost before this thing is done with the virus, but I hope we are able to keep that to a minimum.

Until we see the end of this virus we are doing what we can to support our economy, while staying as safe as possible. It’s a tough balance given that there’s less money coming in, but every little bit helps.

Here’s hoping this post finds you all well. Blessings all!

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