Little things mean so much


So much has happened in the last few weeks…

Younger Son was home on leave for two weeks, and it was nice to have all my chicks in the nest again. So much changes, but then again not. My world-traveling baby is still his same self, but so grown up.

We managed to go away for a weekend to visit my brother’s family, and that was good. Older Nephew is going into his senior year and, this time around, I have to make sure to make it to some of his hockey games. Younger Nephew is only four years behind him, and I have missed out on so much with both of them. I did find out that Older Nephew will be attending my alma mater next year, which makes my heart soar!

Today I discovered I was gifted with a blogger award! Wow! I will be passing that one on to some of my favorite bloggers shortly, but I have some revamping of my page to do first, so more on that to come.

I’ve been a bit under the emotional weather lately, and I am not sure why. There seems to be something under the surface bugging me, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps there has just been too much going on, and I haven’t been able to catch my breath. Whatever it is, it seems only to be cured by the simplest things.

Tonight my Flirt, his Giant Dog, and I went for a walk out in the country. It was just what the doctor ordered. There is nothing quite like the rolling prairies of the High Plains. It’s so beautiful, no matter what season it is. Right now, though, is when it’s at its most beautiful – Harvest Season!

In the pictures above, Giant Dog is shown walking ahead. He knows hunting season is around the corner and was so happy to get out and run around the dusty road, and all in the weeds. He even managed to get in the water and go for a swim.

It aggravates me to no end when out-of-staters complain that there isn’t anything to look at in North Dakota. I beg to differ, and I have come to believe that some people are so used to being handed “pretty” scenery on a platter that when something different comes along, something that’s a little more plain, it is written off without a second look.

North Dakota is full of all kinds of wild life, and beautiful scenery. Today, I was able to capture a lovely sunset, and several interesting plants. Above you can see the wild sunflowers. Below is a picture of some plants I was so pleased to be able to find: wild Echinacea and chamomile! If I’d been thinking, I’d have dug some up and transplanted it into my yard. It’s a good excuse to go for another walk later this week. 🙂

Echinacea and Chamomile

All one needs to do is look a little closer, and you will see so much. I suspect that is the way it is with everything in life. Little things mean a lot.

Here’s hoping you find some interesting things in places you wouldn’t suspect you’d find anything. Look closely…there are beautiful little miracles everywhere, if you pay attention.

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Of role models and fishing trips…


Today, I had to dig a little deeper through the murk collected in my mind to find the blessings that were just waiting to be picked up and marveled at.

Thus, cup of coffee number two. I don’t know exactly what it is about a second cup of coffee that does the trick for me, but I am guessing that it’s just the time it takes to drink the first one and start on the second that gives me time to think and work through the garbage floating in my head. Sometimes it’s easy to mistake the garbage in your head for truth, or for something worth keeping. It took me a little extra long to sort through all of that floating rubbish today.

And, the coffee just tastes and smells good. Hmmm!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Father’s Day, and do wish all of the Dad’s reading this blog a very happy Father’s Day…especially for those who’ve stepped up to be a role model in the absence of a child’s father.  You could be a friend, a neighbor, step-dad or boy friend of a kid’s mom, grandfather… or just a guy on the street who chooses to do the right thing, regardless of who is watching.

Being a role model is not something a person always chooses to do consciously, but it is something everyone is anyway, all the time. For the purposes of this post, let’s narrow the scope a bit. A while back, I wrote a post about what it takes to make a person a mother. The long and short of it is that not all people can be Mom’s, but sometimes people just step up and do the job. The same goes for Dads.

Yesterday was an eventful day. The Flirt picked the boys and I up at 9am, and we drove to another town that was holding a “Ribfest”. It was a nice day, and the food was good. We shopped a little and then came home. Later the boys and I went to pick up supper to take my parent’s house, as we celebrated Father’s day early with my Dad. As we waited for our order, Older Son noticed a car in distress. It was half hanging in the ditch, and the driver couldn’t get the car started again. After we got through the drive-thru, we parked the car and went to see if we could push them back onto the road.

The car contained an elderly couple, with the husband driving.  I’m not quite sure how he ended up with his tail end hanging in the ditch, but the car wouldn’t start and his nose was sticking out into the lane. I offered that we would push him out, and we tried but the three of us weren’t strong enough to push this big old car back up onto the road. Pretty soon a big burly guy came out of the chicken joint and tried to help, but the four of us still couldn’t get it done. Then a kid came out to help, and he couldn’t have been any more than ten or so, but his was the last bit of strength we needed to get the car back up on the road and parked the nearby hotel parking lot. It’s amazing what people can accomplish, regardless of size, when you work together.

Something struck me about these two who came out to help…nobody asked them, they just did it. I wonder if they even knew each other…probably not, but they both had something in common: Someone at sometime modeled that behavior for them.  It’s one thing for me to tell the boys to get out of the car to do this, but it was another thing altogether for them to see two other strangers come out to help, unasked and didn’t ask for anything in return…I hope it’s something my kids remember and repeat. These two guys, even though they were a kid and a twenty-something, were good role models, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they will make good dads, uncles, neighbors, grandparents, etc…

Fishing is something that I used to enjoy as a kid, and Younger Son has expressed an interest in learning. The Flirt and his family are all very much into fishing, and are willing to take us with them when they go. While at my parent’s house last night, I asked my Dad if he still had any of the fishing poles they used to use. Amazingly he did, and tackle boxes too. The poles need some help, but the tackle boxes are FULL of all kinds of interesting things. What’s in them is not nearly as important as who they belonged to. One tackle box belonged to a close uncle that my Dad spent many summers with, and the other one belonged to his own father. I don’t know when he acquired these, but I am willing to guess that these two tackle boxes hold more than just fishing supplies. There are a lot of childhood memories wrapped up in both of these boxes for my Dad, and I am feeling pretty privileged that he gave them to us.

I tried to talk my Dad into coming fishing with us, but fishing isn’t so much his bag. My Mom loves to fish, so I’m hoping we can get her interested in coming out. More on how that progresses later.

Fishing is an interesting way to get conversations started, especially if there are just two of you alone in a boat. I once went fishing up the river with my Mom’s father, whom I never did get a chance to get to know very well. He and I chatted the whole time, and I am kicking myself now for not having the wisdom to pay closer attention. The only thing I remember him talking about was something that happened during the time he served in WWII. He told me a story about how the plane his group was in got shot up by the enemy, and the hydraulic line got a hole in it. He stuck his finger in the hole and left it there until the plane landed. He giggled like a kid when telling me that the government gave him a medal for putting his finger in a hole…he really thought that was the funniest thing. Many years later after he passed away, I found out that the military had awarded him a Silver Star for this because he kept the plane in the sky and saved the lives of his crew members. This is a huge demonstration of how little things count.

The purpose of telling that story isn’t to brag up my grandfather’s heroism, though he is deserving of it, but to point out that those quiet moments when you are hanging out with someone who matters mean a lot. That one fishing trip up the river was the most time I ever got to spend with him at any one time, and I am grateful for it. While I don’t remember a lot of the conversation, I remember having a really good time. He was a good guy and I wish I had been able to get to know him better.

I am fortunate in that my Dad still lives, and I get to see him often. Yet, there are so many other men that have come and gone from my life, related or not, who have made a difference. They have not only taught me things, but they have helped shape who I am. While my kids aren’t so lucky to have a father who wants to be a positive role model in their lives, they sure are lucky enough to have men in their lives, most especially my own Dad,  who are willing to step up and help shape them into the men they will become.

To all those who are Dads, or just have the fortitude to step up and be the Dad or role model a kid needs…I hope you have a tackle box full of memories from your past you can pass on to someone, and that you share those memories, knowledge and values with wild abandon. Happy Father’s Day!

When granny has lust in her eye…


I am generally of the opinion that you are really only as young as you want to be in your head, but sometimes things happen that just stop that happy train of thought right in its tracks.

I had the strangest experience tonight. I picked Younger Son up from practice tonight after I got off of work, and we made a quick run to the grocery store.  We split up so as to make the shopping go quicker, and I was standing a couple of isles away from him when I ran into an old friend of mine. She took a job at another company and I hardly ever see her anymore, so we stood and chatted for a few minutes. Younger Son came up behind me, so I introduced him to my friend and then she said something that blew my mind:

“Oh my, I noticed him in the other row, and admired that he was wearing shorts. What a good-looking young man!”

When she realized that what she’d said out loud, and that she’d said it with such frank appreciation of his looks, she quickly change the subject. Now, I know that at some point soon I am doing to have to beat the girls off with a bat. Younger Son is almost 17, and is a good-looking boy. Older Son is pretty cute too…I’m a lucky Mom that way. However, when my friend, who is a grandmother, starts ogling my kid with something akin to lust in her eye, it’s quite a revelation.

First I had to get used to the idea that I had kids old enough to shave.

Then they started driving.

Now I’ve seen someone older than me look at my child with lust on her face. I can’t decide if I should be proud enough to burst, or if I should make sure he doesn’t wear shorts in public any more. Perhaps a nice ankle-length jacket would be helpful here too.

Or, I could just suck it up because I am almost 43, and I am, in fact, old enough to have kids who are lusted after by other people. I’m guessing that sucking it up would be less effort, but it sure has been a shock to my system!

 

 

Life is full of little trade offs…The trick is to find balance.


As all of my Faithful Readers know, I have two jobs. I work at the Cube Farm by day, and The Big Box Store by night…the blue one. I think you know what I’m talking about.

Lately, I’ve had thoughts of defecting to The Other Big Box Store. The red one, with the bulls-eye.

I have a friend at The Cube Farm who has been talking to me about switching over, and I think I just might do it. I have to say, though, that I have been at The Blue Store for long enough that I’m comfortable there. The whole problem with that place is that it’s impossible to get your work scheduling straight, it’s disorganized, dirty and they have such a high turn over rate that there is never enough help. As a result of not ever having enough help, many of us “Floor Help” end up cashiering instead of keeping our departments straight. I hate cashiering, and my right elbow and wrist hate it too.

Every time I go to The Red Store I marvel at how clean it is, how every employee has a scanner to use and that things just seem to be more orderly in general. It’s so tempting to defect, but I would be giving up a lot of benefits I get at The Blue Store that wouldn’t be available to me at The Red Store. Hm…lots to ponder.

Life is full of all sorts of trade offs, and some have been very worthwhile. Let’s take last night for example.

I picked up The Flirt, and we went shopping last night. We bummed around the mall, just going from one store to another looking at stuff. At several points he grabbed my hand and held it as we walked.  Wow… have you got any idea how long it’s been since a man has picked my hand up and held it? Oh…many more than I can count.  That Flirt is full of all sorts of delightful surprises, and I’m looking forward to finding out what else he has up his sleeve.

So, what’s the trade-off?  I gave up time with my boys at home for the evening.

I think the whole trick is to find balance. Sunday evening The Flirt came over for pizza and movies, and we all had a good time. Hopefully I can find and maintain just the right balance, and not let my social life get the better of me.

I think we can do this… Well, I guess we’ll find out!

Sleeping in and The To Do List


Today I got to sleep in.

What a glorious and wonderful thing.

This whole last year has been full of working every weekend day, but that’s all changed now. I’ve changed my schedule so that I get one weekend day off. I had to take on extra hours during the week to do that, but life is full of little trade offs, and this one was worth it.

Not only did I get to sleep until my eyes felt like popping open all by themselves, but now I get to sit in a quiet house and catch up on my blogs. And,  I get to write a post with no interruptions or the boys reading over my shoulder. Now there’s a treat. It’s a little easier to write what I really feel if I don’t have to worry about them walking by and sneaking a peak and making comments.

Aw shoot…I guess I spoke too soon…Older Son just got up, but he’s offering to make coffee, so I guess that’s another one of those little trade offs. Hmm… Coffeeeeee!

This morning is going to be all about The To Do List. Since I’ve taken on extra hours at the Big Box Store, and have stumbled upon my new found amazing social life, my house has really hit the skids. Time to take action, and here’s the plan for today:

Kitchen – (medium bad shape) clean off all flat surfaces of all things accumulated, scrub floors. If time, scrub fridge doors, inside and house, reorganize cupboards and drawers.

Living room -(horrifyingly bad shape) Burn and start again. Nope, too expensive. Dust everything, scrub walls, scrub floors, vacuum rugs, sort bills and papers, reorganize entire room. Hm…maybe it would just be better to burn and start again?

Bathroom – (pretty good shape) Light weekly scrubbing needed only

Entry way – (Not too bad) Sweep and mop floor, reorganize shoes and jackets

My room – (Run away, run away!) Get rid of the last of the things I brought up from the basement during the flood. Sweep floor and vacuum rugs, change sheets, dust everything, organize shelves, organize closet.

Basement (Good grief, what happened to my clean basement?!) Totes need organizing, floors need sweeping, laundry needs catching up with (my poor washer will be smoking and begging for mercy by the end of the day), items need to be put away in my new workspace cupboards.

Outdoors (Uff-da…) Need to have Younger Son finish pulling in the garden, and weed-whack anything that’s over grown. Solar lights need to be put away for the year, and the shed needs to be organized.

I’ve just read over this list, and know that I have my work cut out for me, but so do Older Son and Younger Son -I’ll be keeping them busy today. I’m also aware of this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’m dying to send a text message to my new man friend. He needs a blog nick name….I’ll have to think on that. I’m seriously aware that we are only friends, but I’ve gotten rather attached to him. Could be that I need to reign that in a little bit…if he wants to be more than friends, I’ll let him let me know. Darned flirty man… makes me want things I shouldn’t want right now. For today, I need to pay attention to my house and spend some extra time with my kids.

I hope you all have much smaller To Do Lists, and a spectacularly restful Sunday.

Editors note: So what happens after I get this posted and get ready to start my day? My phone goes off…it’s The Flirt…texting just saying Good Morning. Life is good…

Flogging depression with gardening


Apparently, I’ve been depressed.

It sounds as though I make it out to be like it sneaked up on me, and caught me unawares. Well, that’s sometimes how it happens…at least for me. I realized recently, that I’d been falling into old patterns and having no feelings other than unhappy. Today I heard stories about two people I work with at The Big Box Store, who have decided to move away because they lost their homes, and most everything in the flood. There’s nothing holding them here, so they are moving to where they have family, and starting over. It really made me think about all the things that I have taken for granted, and how  fortunate I have been.

Do I have more bills than I can keep up with? Oh, yeah. Do I run like a chicken with my head cut off most days? Yep. Do I feel overwhelmed all the time? Most definitely. Has my ex-husband served me with a legal motion because he thinks he’s paying me too much, and wants a refund? Yes he did, that rotten so-and-so.  Has the heart of my city been destroyed, and so many people I know been displaced and won’t be able to get back into their homes before the snow flies? Yes, and it makes my heart ache.  Have I got more things around the house that need doing than I have time and energy for? Oh, man, do I. Did my engine light come on? Unfortunately, it did. Ugh.

I’ve been feeling really down because of all of this stuff on my plate, and didn’t realize how down I was until I realized I have been having a continual internal pity party for quite a while. Hearing about these two families who have had to make such a hard decision really jerked me out of my rut, and I was able to actually get up and do something. Feeling depressed is very much like wearing weights around your neck…it’s just so hard to get up and do anything. I wish I had realized I had sunk down so far before things got so out of whack.

The thing is, I have got so much to be grateful for, and that really should outweigh the bad stuff. Do I have a home to come home to at the end of a long day, that is dry and safe? Are my kids healthy? Am I gainfully employed? Do I have parents that have stuck by me and helped me every step of the way my whole life? Do I have good friends?  Did my garden produce food for me, even though I neglected it all summer? A resounding yes to all of these things and much more. I am so blessed, and it’s a huge bummer that I lost sight of that.

Before - ugh!

So, after I got home from working at The Big Box Store this morning, I took Older Son shopping. We came home, and then Younger Son and I spent three hours outside. He changed light bulbs over both doors and washed the van, and I spent my time cleaning up and organizing the rock beds that surround two sides of our house. The front one was especially bad, but it turns out that it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Since I had extra time, and was on a roll, I weeded out my strawberry/herb garden and found some interesting things.

Rosemary on the right, Thyme on the left

I planted rosemary, thyme and oregano this spring, which grew fabulously. Now I have a nice bunch of fresh herbs to cook with. Actually, I like to just rub them in my hands and sniff them. There’s nothing that drops my blood pressure quick than smelling fresh thyme. Who needs drugs when you have a good kitchen herb garden!

After that was done, I took a look at my VERY over grown vegetable garden. We planted snow peas, corn, carrots and pumpkins. The only thing that did really well was the pumpkins. The vines and flowers are so pretty! Younger Son has been telling me for a couple of weeks about some really strange-looking pumpkins, and he thought the vines might be infected with something and the pumpkins were deformed. I finally made the effort to take a look tonight, and it turns out that not only do we have genuine baby pumpkins, but also spaghetti squash! I had a spaghetti squash that I ended up throwing in the compost heap this Spring, as it went bad before I could eat it. Apparently, they are very easy to grow!

We also have ground cherries and dill that re-seeded themselves from last year. The strawberries looked a little worse for the wear, but were holding their own and had sent out runners. We even had some carrots that survived all the rain we received. Even though Younger isn’t a veggie eater, I talked him into trying a carrot straight out of the garden, since he was the one that planted them. I was surprised that he actually ate it, but he did. I ate some too, and it was a little woody as it should have been picked earlier, but it was good anyway.

So, by 7:30 this evening, the rock beds had been cleared of all weeds, one garden had been weeded and watered, and the van had been scrubbed for the first time all summer (There wasn’t

Whoa! Now you can see the rocks in my rock bed!

much car washing going on with the city requesting water conservation during and after the flood, until just recently),  and I was able to sit down and eat supper with a genuine feeling of having accomplished something for the first time in a long, long time.

Tomorrow, I work on the inside of the house!

 

 

 

 

Quiet moments, and some blather


Yes…yes, I’m still alive. It’s been awhile since I posted, but I have to say I was a running fool. Seems like the whole summer has flown by. While I feel like I have nothing to show for it, I’ve actually been pretty busy. That’s ok…It’s better than sitting around, I guess.  And then, when I have time to take a breath, all the fabulous things I had found to blog about evaporate like flood water on a hot July day.  Amazingly, I was sitting in the living room alone with no sounds other than my Wood Wick candle burning, the traffic outside and the noise of Younger Son taking a shower. It was a lovely quiet moment, albeit brief. Apparently that was just enough to break my writer’s block. Strange, the things my brain will respond to.

The flood situation in Minot is no longer all about being wet, but now about recovery. Most everyone who was displaced has been allowed back into their homes, and the gutting and cleaning has commenced.  We have heard that there is a plan being proposed that will straighten out the river, and provide protection from the river for up to 30,000 cfs (cubic feet/second).   We dealt with upwards of 22,000 cfs this go around. Whatever plan they come up with, it will take a long time to put into place, but Minot will be better off for it. More on that as things progress.

Right now we are sitting in the living room watching a movie called Escanaba in da Moonlight. It’s an old family favorite that we got through Netflix. It’s one of those shows we all agree on, and can have a good laugh over.  There’s nothing like sitting around with your kids having a good laugh.

Speaking of kids, I had the last three days off so I could get them registered and set up for school, which is starting very late for us this year. The flood took several schools in town so the State has forgiven five school days, plus there will be three more tacked on to that will be made up throughout the school year. As a result, instead of starting school August 24th, school won’t start until September 6th. Older Son is a Senior this year, and so come all things associated with that: Senior pictures, applying to colleges and graduation…amongst other things.  Older Son isn’t too hip on the whole graduation tradition, and would rather skip all of the pictures and ceremony. Well, he’s just going to have to tough it out. Some traditions just need to be observed. I think he’s feeling a little overwhelmed with the end of school coming and having to make choices. I don’t envy him…it’s no easy thing to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. I still am not sure what I want to do when I grow up either, and I’m 42.

Younger Son cooked supper tonight. It was a <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/t1IiUAtoNBk“>grilled,  bacon wrapped, vegetable stuffed meatloaf. OMG. That kid is going to make me fatter than I already am. He’s also going to make some nice girl a fine husband one day. He’s got that cooking thing down for someone who’s only 16 years old. This is the third time in the last month I’ve come home to find supper grilled and ready to eat. I’m truly spoiled.

My lovely kitty, Harley, got declawed this week. As lovely as he is, he’s got a taste for scratching everything but the scratching post, including box springs, the dish washer, the heat vent in the bathroom, the living room furniture, and anything Older Son owns. It’s not something I had planned on, or liked, having to do, but it was either that or he’d have to go. The good news is that he is making a remarkable recovery and is up to the usual mischief…except without so many scratch marks.

Now it’s quiet again, and all I hear is my tapping on the key board and the wooden wick of my candle crackling away. Pretty soon I’ll have to get up and put my laundry in the dryer, and hit the rack, bringing  my rare quiet moment to an end, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.