Day 35 – Living well in spite of Old Man Winter


It is a bright and stormy day in North Dakota today. Snow is falling and blowing around, and what little light comes through the clouds makes everything kind of blindingly white. As gloomy settings go, this isn’t highest on the list, but it is somewhat disheartening to see snow falling…again.

I saw did see something today that brightened my spirits quite a bit, and Sprouts day 2reminded me how large a difference one day can make. The seeds which were just barely noticeable in yesterday’s picture are now very apparent.

Today is going to be a mixture of crappy chores like paying bills and cleaning floors, but also a trip to the local Rambler’s Magic City Bike Show. It’s always fun to get out and see the motorcycles on display, and running into people I haven’t seen in a while.

The nice thing about being from North Dakota is you learn from a young age to respect our weather because it will kill you, but also how to live well in spite of it.

Today is a good example. It’s snowing and crappy outside. No doubt the roads will be extra slick with all of this new dry, fluffy snow falling. However, there is fun to be had and people to see on the other side of town. It would be easier to just stay put and putter around the house, but getting out is good for the soul. As long as there is decent visibility and clear roads there’s no good reason to let Old Man Winter win. You lose, you mean old bastard!

On the flip side, there is a certain coziness to just being in the house when the weather is icky. Maybe I’ll curl up with my latest crochet project later after the sun goes down.

Here’s hoping you find a way to live well, no matter what weather is thrown your way. Blessings and warm green thoughts to you all!

Day 34 – Killing despair at the end of a North Dakota Winter


It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to write, and I am starting to think that it’s because I have so much rambling around in my head that I can’t begin to know how get it out in words. Sometimes there aren’t words to describe exactly what is going on in my head.

Most of my problem lately has been the weather. We’ve been blessed with two or three good warm spells, which have melted much of the snow that was dumped on us at the beginning of the Winter in December. That has been a big help, but Winter just can’t let Spring Owl - Nopego, and I wish he’d just pack it in and go to sleep for the season.

Just recently, we’ve had some awful storms in northern North Dakota and southern Saskatchewan. The amount of snow we got isn’t great in amount, but the winds whipping it around at 60+ mph is the real evil here. Minot didn’t get it so bad, but mostly everyone north of us did, and it’s ugly. People have dug their way out now, but it appears that we are getting more snow cold this week. As my favorite weather app (WTF Weather) tells me today, it’s “snotcicle weather”, with a low of -1, and a projected high of 10 above zero. That’s really not terribly cold, but we have been teased with 40-50 degree temps, which makes it feel cold all of a sudden.

I don’t want to give the false impression that we have been beleaguered by a long nasty winter, because we really haven’t. Our first real accumulation of snow came late in December with a whiz-bang blizzard, and we have been struggling along ever since, but to only have snow and cold from December through March is a gift. I’ve known years where our first blizzard comes in October and Winter keeps us in his grips right through some of April. When Old Man Winter stays around for so long, it gets really demoralizing. If I were to personify Winter, and I often do, I would guess that he likes it that way. Mean old bastard…

Why demoralizing? Well, for one thing, it’s painful. The cold makes your bones hurt, and when the weather changes and storms blow through it can cause throbbing aches which are hard to get rid of. That’s part of my problem now. I’m really done hurting all of the time. I would love nothing more than to just sit in the sunshine, soak the heat into my bones and be ache free. It was not lost on me that I didn’t hurt the whole time I was in Las Vegas, and when I came back to North Dakota the old aches just fell back into place. Wow…going somewhere else can make my knees stop hurting. Hmmm…food for thought.

Spring Sprouts

If you look really close, you can see little sprouts in the middle.

Something else I am keenly aware of is my need to be surrounded by greenery and things that I can nurture and grow.  I believe what happens when you grow things is that you plant a little hope with those seeds, and to watch them grow is very sustaining in times when regular daily life just isn’t. I’ve started some seeds on my kitchen table, and it’s nice to check on it daily to see the growth and change. This will tide me over until I can get outside to plant in my yard.

It is still only the middle of March, so it is not out of bounds to still have cold and stormy weather. However… we are witnessing the death throes of Winter, and the rattle and wheeze of his last days are loud. Underneath all of that complaining racket I can just hear Mother Nature plotting with Spring and Summer in whispers and grins of anticipation. Their time is coming, and the long wait is soon to be over.

Here’s hoping that your weather is just right. If it isn’t, just hold on…better weather is coming. Blessings all!

 

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.

Getting my way on Mother’s Day


Greetings all,

First, let me wish all of you Mothers in the blogosphere a very happy Mother’s Day!

I’m being selfish with my time today, because I can get away with it. Mother’s Day, much like a birthday, is a good excuse to gather with family and friends, eat good food and enjoy each others company. It’s not necessarily my favorite holiday, as that slot has been occupied for a very long time by Thanksgiving, but it does have it’s good points. Top on the list of Mother’s Day’s good points is that I get to say what goes.

Here’s my list of things I want today… and by golly, I’m going to get all of it.

1. I want to spend time on my blog (check…mission accomplished!). I get precious little time to come out here anymore, to write or to read my favorite blogs. Today, I get to spend time here. Yes!

2. I want to cook lasagna from scratch today. I love to cook, and don’t get a chance to very often. I have invited my parents over for supper tonight, and when I told Mom what was on the menu, she tried to tell me I should buy a frozen lasagna instead of making it from scratch. I was surprised at how I almost came completely unhinged. I know her heart was in the right place – she didn’t want me to put too much effort into cooking dinner on Mother’s Day. She just doesn’t understand how much like to cook, and how deprived I am in that department. That’s ok… I’ll get my way in the end.

3. I want asparagus. (Demanding wench, aren’t I?) I haven’t had asparagus in years because my picky children won’t eat it, and it really doesn’t pay me to buy it if I am the only one that likes it. Today, it’s just too bad for everyone else that doesn’t like it. I. Will. Have. My. Asparagus! In fact, I have a lovely new recipe that I found on Pinterest for roasted asparagus with olive oil and thyme. I can’t wait!

4. I want to clean my house. The boys are generally pretty good about helping out around the house, but their idea of clean and my idea of clean are galaxies apart. I’ve spent such precious little time at home lately that what little I am able to do gets undone pretty quickly. Today, that gets corrected, even to the point of scrubbing out the fridge. I think something died in there, and is crying out for a decent burial. Argh!

5. I want to spend time in my yard. Spring finally did make it to North Dakota, and there hasn’t been a snowflake in sight for a good three weeks. I think Winter is finally gone for good this year, but I’ll leave my collection of snow shovels out until June 1, because I am just that superstitious about that sort of thing. My yard needs a good raking, and my strawberry/kitchen garden needs to be weeded. There are lots of plants returning from last year, but the grass is trying to overtake them. Time to get out the gloves and open a can of whoop-ass on that nasty invader.

There it is…my top five demands for today, in all of their glorious depravity. Like I said, today I get what I want, and no one best get in my way…or else! 😉

Lilacs half bloomed on May 23rd 2010

Here’s hoping all of you Moms in the blogosphere get exactly what you want, how you want it, and when. More importantly, I hope you have a lovely day with your families and friends.

There is something about the smell of The High Plains in the evening…


Hmmm…oh lovely Summer evening, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1. The setting sun paints my precious High Plains with gold, and makes me want to cry for the sheer joy of seeing it.

2. The temperature is just right. So right, in fact, that it’s perfect for a motorcycle ride in the country.

3. There is so much to see along my fabulous countryside ride that I can barely take it all in. It’s amazing how much you miss when driving the same route in a car.

4. This lovely ride in the country is just another good excuse to have my arms wrapped around my sweetie.

5. One of the best part of this whole lovely evening is the smell of it all…

There is something about the smell of The High Plains on a lovely Summer evening that is amazing, and I guarantee you that the smells are different in the evening than in the morning or afternoon. A lovely summer evening can take you straight to olfactory heaven. It’s difficult to describe, but I would have to say it’s kind of a sweet smell, like fresh mown hay, punctuated with wood smoke from people’s backyard fire pits, and the occasional whiff of a farm added in. It’s one thing to smell all of this as it drifts by you while you are sitting in your back yard, but it’s another thing altogether when you are tootling around the countryside on a motorcycle. The way it made me feel to have access to all that good smelling fresh air, at speed, defies adequate description. One thing I can say for sure is that I will sleep very, very well tonight.

The picture I posted here isn’t from my local area, though it easily could be. There is no other place on Earth I would rather live than on my beloved High Plains.

Here’s wishing you all lots of good smelling fresh air to share with your sweethearts, and a lovely night’s rest…sweet dreams all!

Explosive Expansion


Generally, I have a hard time coming up with something to blog about, but recently I’ve had a topic I’ve been burning to get on the blog: Expansion.

So, you might ask, what about expansion? Well, it seems that we have more than a wee bit of a housing shortage here in Minot. In fact, given the oil industry boom and the disastrous loss of housing from the flood, we have quite a problem.

What’s being done about it? Plenty. It’s astonishing to me how many houses are going up right now, and it’s a little disturbing. Minot is not a large town, or at least it wasn’t. Three years ago we were sitting at somewhere around 36,000 people, plus or minus. As of the 2010 census 40,888 were definitely living here, but a recent housing study gives a higher estimate of approximately 45,000 people living within the city limits. That’s a lot of growth in a short amount of time.

Minot is surrounded by lovely countryside. Given the building boom happening right now, much of that will disappear. This last weekend, I snapped some pictures of areas on the North end of the city where most of the home building is taking place. The picture below is taken from the corner of 16th St and 30th Ave NW, looking in a SW direction. In the distance on the left, you can see some new homes that went up last year, and in the center you can just see my Cube Farm peeking from behind the landscape. With in the next couple of years I predict that this whole place will be filled with homes. This area used to be farmland.

This next picture is still at the same corner of 30th Ave NW, but looking straight West toward the Hwy 83 Bypass. This is still farmland to the North of 30th Ave, but I predict that it won’t stay that way too long. While I understand the need for people to have a place to live, I’m a little sad that my little city is now growing so quickly that the beauty of the surrounding area isbeing obliterated.

There are more places not too far from my Cube Farm where buildings are going up quick. I’ll be taking pictures and posting them here for posterity’s sake, if nothing else.

North Dakota Governor, Art Link, made a famous speech entitled  When the Landscape is Quite Again, which had to do with water/energy resources. In this time of things changing due oil energy resources, I hope that our leaders are paying attention to not only how quickly things are built and put into place, but also how well things are built and put into place.  My fondest wish for my little city is that the dignity and beauty of it and the surrounding landscape can be preserved. I hope the small town feeling doesn’t go away.

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!