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!


Things to do up on the snowy High Plains

​Life in North Dakota, really the whole of the High Plains, can be brutal. Winters can be bitter cold, and snowy. This year it’s so snowy that we received 50 +\- inches of snow in December alone. That’s like getting a whole  winter’s worth of snow right away at the beginning, and we still have two months of winter left. Uff da.

Well, what does one do when it’s cold and snowy? 

You go ice fishing. 😀👍

My Flirt and I got ourselves a pop up fish house, an ice auger, a heater,  and some chairs. Add that to the ice fishing poles, fishing licenses, radio and lures we already have, and we are ready to go fishing. 

It is currently 31 degrees out, but it feels more like in the 20’s with the wind blowing today. We wouldn’t know it because the heater keeps us warm, and we have everything we need right in the ice house. 

The hard part is finding ice that has the snow cleaned off of it. Lake Audubon has several spots where the ice has been cleared so you can find a spot to fish, so we gave that a try.

There haven’t been any bites today here on Lake Audubon, but it’s good to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and spend some quality quiet time with my Flirt. There’s always next weekend to find fish that bite and mean it.

Well, now… someone is slurping on my Flirt’s bait. Maybe we will get lucky? Who knows. It’s a good time out here on the ice, and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, regardless if we take any fish home or not.

Here’s hoping you are having as relaxing an afternoon as we are. Blessings all!

The lack of cacophony

I’m sitting here at my desk and there is no sound other than the traffic going by, the cat crunching away at his breakfast, and the wind blowing the rain against the house. The absence of noise other than those few sounds is really blissful.

I think that we get so caught up in the daily grind that we tune out most of the racket that is generated by daily life…the phone ringing, people talking around you, the tv or radio playing in the background, etc.

A person doesn’t realize how far a little solitude can go to soothe you, until the cacophony stops and you aren’t bombarded by so much sound anymore. You just don’t realize how large sound is until there isn’t any, and then your head is literally filled with thoughts that there wasn’t room for with all of the sound shoved into your ears all day.

I so badly would love to crawl back into bed and just listed to the rain. But, not today…work beckons.  What a blessing to have been able to sit here in peace. I think this is a habit that needs cultivating…

Here’s hoping you all have peaceful moments in your day. They make a difference.

Be open to opportunities

I have a lot to do today…cleaning, laundry, yard work. I have baking and cooking to do. There are bills to pay and closets to organize. This moment finds me already having had a nice walk this morning and downed one cup of coffee. Another one beckons…and so I refill my cup.  I just need one more hour for me before my day has to really get started.

Younger Son brought in the last of the two surviving plumbs that came from our plum tree. It was quite a trip to see our tree covered with plumbs this Spring. Unfortunately only two survived. I shared the first one with him, but he didn’t like it. So, I’ll eat this last one by myself….it sure is sweet. With any luck, we’ll have more than two next year.

This last week has been quite a trip. The Cube Farm I work at has changed hands, and I am now with my third employer in this same building. There wasn’t so much upheaval the first time we changed employers, but if I couldn’t deal with change and upheaval, I wouldn’t still be working there after all this time. I keep telling myself that…I figure that if I make it my mantra, it will become truth. Over time, the dust will settle and life at work will settle back into a routine again. What that routine will be, I don’t know, but it will settle.

It’s getting time to prepare my house and yard for winter. We had a very mild winter last year and after having a run of bad winters, last year’s was a gift. Generally, mild winters and harsh winters come in groupings, or cycles. Just like everything else.

I’m struck today by the cycles of different things and I am reminded that even though nothing good (like my lovely Summer of Yes) lasts, nothing bad lasts either.  I will get through the upheaval at work, the court date that looms ahead of me, this coming winter, and all else negative that comes my way.  I will string together all the “Yes” moments together and create a cycle that may not have existed if the effort wasn’t made to see a positive pattern and grab hold of it before it evaporates. Because they do…if you don’t make the effort to be in the moment and grab the happy times when the opportunities present themselves, they are lost and you have to wait until the next one comes along.

Having said that, the coffee pot is dry, and my house is not getting any cleaner while I sit here. Time to jump back into the routine and keep things going. If I am really good with my time, perhaps I’ll have time at the end of my day to find something outrageously fun to do. What would that be? I have no idea…but I’ll make sure to stay open to the opportunity should it arise.

Here’s wishing you all many lovely opportunities to live in the moment. Grab them and hang on tight before they slip away.

That dirty four-letter “s” word

That’s right…you know the one I’m talking about: SNOW

This morning we woke up to huge flakes falling out of the sky.  Older Son enjoys taunting me with the idea that Winter is here, and there is nothing I can do about it. Well, he’s right. There’s nothing I can do about it, and whining doesn’t help at all.

The Flirt has been looking forward to the snow falling as it makes hunting easier, apparently.

I know a lot of other people who have been looking forward to Winter arriving just because they love snow. Apparently it’s good for things like driving snowmobiles, skiing, sledding and making snow men and snow angels. I’ve done all of those things, and had a blast doing them. Of course, I was a lot younger then.

I have to wonder if I have become an old stick in the mud, but I think that I just haven’t had an opportunity to do those fun things in the snow in the last ten or fifteen years. Most of what I do with snow these days is move it out of the way, or drive through it. It occurs to me that I need to make more time to find fun things to do with snow to balance out the things that make it not so fun.

It could be that I’ve needed a change of perspective for a long time about a lot of things, and I know snow is the least of them. However, I guess a person has to crawl before you can walk and starting with small things might be the way to go.

In the course of writing this post it occurs to me that I have not made time for a lot of small things, and little things do make a difference in the course of a day and a life. Time to start observing the small things, as the small things build up to make something bigger.

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!