Confessions of a linens junkie

That’s right. I said it…I’m a linens junkie.

Over the years, I’ve developed a penchant for collecting sheet sets for the beds. Now that I’ve downsized to a smaller bed, I get to start aaaalll over again!! Hmm…I can’t wait for the White Sale at JC Penny’s this Spring!

As my ten faithful readers may remember, I sold the queen sized bed I previously shared with my ex-husband, and bought a brand new bed for myself. It’s been nice having a smaller bed. Not only do I have more space in my bedroom now, but I love the microfiber linens I bought for it. The afternoon that the bed arrived, I went out to Penny’s and stumbled into the most magnificent sale on bedding. Not only did I get two sets of microfiber sheets for the price of one, but I got a really great quilt. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was a close 2nd, and they had it in the size I needed. Oddly enough, the pattern is called “Wedding Ring”, but it was pretty enough that I didn’t mind. Next year when we get our tax refund, I’m looking forward to buying another quilt so I can change them out seasonally.

My lovely quilt.

I have just a few words to say about microfiber sheets. They feel so nice. The only problem I have with them is that they don’t stay on the bed very well. They are kind of slippery, and I am a rowdy sleeper, so very often I have to put my sheets back on in the morning.  If I had to do it all over again, I’d still buy them, though. Yeah, they feel that good.

I’m thinking about getting a set of flannel sheets for the winter. I had a set once, and they were nice and warm. The only problem I had with them is that they were fire-engine red and had large white snowflakes on them. They were on sale, and I figured I wouldn’t really be looking at them in the dark while I was sleeping, so it shouldn’t have been a big deal…right? Wrong. I’m apparently a linens snob, because I just couldn’t deal with the garishness of them.

I just did laundry and put fresh sheets on my bed, and they smell so good! I put a lot of fabric softener in when I wash sheets. I mean, A LOT.  Hmmmm…I’m going to sleep good tonight! Speaking of putting sheets on a bed, what is the deal with the bed feeling nicer to get into when the bed is made? I hate making my bed, and most days don’t bother much with it. I think I might have to try to get into the habit of it, because I’ve noticed that it is just nicer to slide into sheets that have been pressed flat all day.

Here’s wishing you all, a very good night’s sleep!


Emerald Ash Borer…a nasty little bug

I just got in from my morning walk, and I feel very lucky that I have a nice place to walk through. There’s a little dead-end street not far from my house called Arbor Ave, which is aptly named as the houses on that street are nestled into an almost woods like setting. You don’t see places like this in Western North Dakota very often, and it makes for a nice place to walk and relax. The nice thing about trees is that they provide shade and beauty. In many cases they provide food and a place to hang your hammock.

Sometimes they also provide danger.

The valley I live in is full of Siberian Elm, Ash and Cottonwoods. There are also Oak trees, but mostly only down by the river. We even have a very few American Elms that survived the Dutch Elm Disease that wiped them out in the 80’s across the country. The Siberian Elms (like the one I just chopped down) have a tendency to commit suicide and just die, but they are prolific in their reproduction.  The tree of primary concern these days is the Ash. The Emerald Ash Borer is on its way, and will devastate my little valley once it gets here. I’m lucky in that I got rid of the last of my trees. They were old and dying, so I don’t have anything to worry about, but the rest of my community will have an interesting fight on their hands. This parasite has been detected in Minnesota in 2009, so it’s only a matter of time before it spreads West.

In many cases, the houses here are packed in tight together, and there’s little room for cheap tree removal. In a lot of cases, these large old trees hang over power lines. It’s going to be a mess. It’s also going to be ugly and dangerous.  Now you can look down into the valley and see a nice lush blanket of green, and after the Emerald Ash Borer gets done with us, it will not be so pretty any more. I know that will change with time, as people replace these trees with something else, but it will be hard to watch them die. There will be a lot of people who won’t be able to pay to get these trees removed, and there will be a lot of dead trees standing around for a while, unless the City pitches in.  It’s my hope that these dying trees get replaced with hearty fruit and nut bearing trees, and then an element of permaculture can be implemented in our little valley.

So, why are these dead trees going to be dangerous? We have pretty high winds a lot of days here in North Dakota, and it’s not going to take much to blow down some of these very tall, very dead trees, and they will land on power lines and homes. Did I mention I was glad I don’t have to deal with that issue any more?! Down the street I see one of my neighbors has a very tall tree hanging over the power line that provides service to the whole side of our street. It would be just our luck that it fell down in the winter time, but that’s just the frightened little pessimist in me talking.

All done but the cleanup

On Friday, my friends came over, chopped up the tree and hauled the pieces to their house to use in their wood stove. Today the last load of big branches went out to the curb for pickup. Now it’s just a matter of raking up all the twigs that are tangled up in the grass…but that can wait until later. I do have a couple more saplings that need to come down, but that won’t take long. Dad said he could come over later in the week to take care of that last bit. But the big tree? It’s gone. Interestingly enough, I counted the rings on that tree, an it is as the same as age me. I know it probably means nothing, but I found it a little strange.

So, here is a before and after:

Before the shed was moved and the tree was taken down

The yard look so much bigger!

My neighbor’s shed isn’t the most attractive thing to look at, but I’m going to plant some dwarf trees in front of it, so after a few years, you won’t be able to see it at all. I’ll also be cleaning out all that brush behind the shed and installing a six-foot fence around the back yard. On the fence I’ll be training vines and trees so you won’t be able to see it for the greenery after a while either. I can’t wait to see what it all looks like five years from now!

I’m also hoping to still get a garden in by next week. It’s late, but at least the plants will be cheaper by this time in the season.

More pictures to come as the summer progresses!

Nothing like a bonfire and good company

I was invited to spend the evening at a friend’s house in the country last night. In this particular housing area every home sits on no less than two acres of beautiful North Dakota rolling prairie…gorgeous wide open spaces!

We stood outside trying to get the bonfire going, but then a storm rolled in and we had to go inside. That was ok, because we all had a good time just chatting, no matter where we were standing or sitting. There was a lot of good food and good company, and I was able to catch up with some old friends, which was fabulous.  Eventually, the skies cleared and we all piled back around the bonfire (which burned brightly through the storm).

It may sound a little silly, but it seems to me that there’s something very primal and essential about the activity of standing around a fire with other people. Yes, I said essential, and I used that word very purposefully. Sitting around a fire with others is something I used to take for granted when I was growing up, as we spent a lot of Summer weekends at a cabin and always had a fire burning.  I love the smell of wood smoke, and the sight and sounds of the embers burning and the sparks popping off the logs. I love the heat of it and how the luminescence of the flames lights up people’s faces. I love sharing a fire with others, whether we’re talking or not. For me a campfire is a total mind/body experience, and I thirst for it. I didn’t realize how badly I missed it until last night.  It’s been many years too long without.

So, I stayed until about 1am and drank in all the fire and good companion ship I could.  Being able to sit around with other adults in a non-work setting was a complete balm on my soul, and the fire was the big fat icing on the cake. I hear from my friends that they are planning to have a bonfire once a month, and I’m invited back.

I just can’t wait!

The quiet of the morning…bliss

I am sitting here quietly reading through other people’s blogs, like the junkie I am, and I realized that I was missing something. So, I quit reading and just paid attention to the sounds around me.

I hear the fish tank bubbling, the traffic going by the front of the house, and the fridge in the kitchen. It’s really quiet when I can hear the fridge in the kitchen.  Ah… the relative silence of a morning when I don’t have to get anyone up but myself is sheer bliss! Now if I just had a newspaper to sift through and some coffee to slurp…

Today is Friday and I have a short day at work, so that’s a bonus. I’ll come home at 3pm and then take Younger to his ROTC Camp meeting. I think we’ll do pizza for supper tonight. It should be a nice relaxing Friday evening. Maybe we’ll even get a movie just for fun.

I am hopeful that the day will continue and end as peacefully as it began.

***Editors Note, 5 minutes after posting***

Yeah, so about that stuff you just read up above? Not gonna happen. Dad called and he says he wants to come take the tree down today! So, I’ll run around and wake up the zombies, er, I mean, boys, and get them started for the day. That’s ok…the quiet was nice while it lasted!

A nice Sunday for all

Today was a very nice Sunday. The weather was very pleasant, if windy, and I was able to open the windows and get some nice fresh air in here. I cleaned up a little, did some laundry, then washed my bathroom rugs and hung them outside to dry.

The boys were supposed to go with their dad today, but they ended up canceling that because he bummed his leg up. So, Older son went to a movie with a friend, and Younger Son and I went plant shopping. After doing some shopping around to see what is available here, we had supper at the Chinese place, and then made the actual purchases.  What we ended up bringing home were a Schubert’s Choke Cherry and two Nanking cherry bushes.

The new additions planted between the shed and the house

In the picture, you can see the whole of my back yard and straight through to Southern and Eastern Neighbors’ yards. I was standing in Western Neighbor’s yard while taking the picture.  The little shrubs I bought should be a good 4-5 feet tall by the end of the season. I don’t expect to get any fruit this year, but it’s a start!

Younger son and I spent a nice few hours in the back yard planting the new shrubs and doing other small odd jobs. I was lucky to run into Western Neighbor and asked him if he minded if I replaced the small piece of fencing (just barely visible to the right of the shed) with some new fencing, which would require cleaning out some of the unruly lilacs (I’ll miss them!) toward the back of his property. He gave his blessings, and we had a nice chat. I don’t get to see him very often, but he’s a nice guy. The fence will run from the front of the Western side of the house all the way around the back end of the property and wrap up to the back door. It will make a nice grape arbor!

Now that Older Son is back from the movie and Younger is back from walking to the local Loaf & Jug, I guess I ought to get back to work and get some stuff done before tomorrow.

Lilacs…just the beginning.

I love lilacs, and am very lucky to have a neighbor with an exceptionally large lilac bush that leans over our shared property line. Most years I get too busy and forget to go clip some, bring them in and put them in a vase, but I got lucky this year. Here’s a picture of my morning haul:

Lilacs half bloomed on May 23rd 2010

I absolutely adore lilacs, but I am allergic to them. For some reason their intoxicating smell keeps me coming back…good thing I don’t suffer anything more than a runny nose as a result of sniffing them with gusto!



Looking at this lovely bunch of flowers makes me realize that I don’t just want a garden that produces food. I really do want flowers above and beyond those that I will plant just because they perform pest control on the garden (nasturtiums, marigolds/calendula, sunflowers etc.).



So, what do I want to plant? Good question…

I love lots of flowers, so I think I will have to make sure to pack in a lot, especially in my front yard. Most of them will have to be perennial and I’ll have to plant them in clumps of different varieties that will bloom progressively over the spring summer and fall.  Hm…gives me much plant food for thought, but I do know that some I must have are tulips, irises and lilies. That probably takes care of the spring group right there.

For mid summer flowers, I’ll plant more columbine for sure, but I’m not certain what else I want, but perhaps some peonies? Late summer/fall flowers are going to be mums for sure. I love mums. Roses…Hm…lots of varieties to pic from there!

The beauty of not knowing exactly what I want is that my little gardens will be works of art in progress!