Accumulating changes

I was hoping for a whole lot of down time and quiet after returning from The Great Road Trip of 2019. But, no. Silly Sparrow… lol.

Work as been harried, and that is to be expected since I was out for two weeks. After this week, it will quiet down quite a bit, especially since we lost a valued and favorite member of the team to a better opportunity. Our office will not be the same. We will hire someone to fill that spot, but who knows how that will change the dynamics of the team. I am more than sad.

I tell my kids to appreciate the good times when you are in the middle of them because, just like bad times, they don’t last.

At home, it’s a little different story. Recently, The Flirt helped me move some large defunct appliances out of my basement, and helped me get my workbench put back together. Today, someone is coming with a truck and a friend to take away an old couch. I’m finally getting my basement space cleared out and will be able to work on it periodically through the winter. It will be a good project for weekends when it is just too cold to do anything else.

So many changes all at once, they seem to accumulate like sticky snow.

Speaking of, it looks like cold and accumulating snow are arriving early. Supposedly we are even going to see some bitter, below zero temps coming up soon. It’s only October and, while we are in that window where snow can happen, I’m just not mentally ready.

Winter is coming to the High Plains, but not today.

Today I will enjoy the crisp fall weather, and the changing leaves. I will enjoy an unencumbered visit to my parents’ house, not having to drive through any snow or ice. Today I will take my time and just be, for tomorrow I jump back into whatever Monday brings me at work.

Here’s hoping you are able to enjoy some good weather before winter comes, and don’t worry about the changes. Life always levels out at some point. Blessings all!

Of beer and home improvement projects

Something that I really enjoy is pizza. The best thing to have with pizza is a cold beer. Just one, and it has to be really cold.

I’m very blessed that my younger son has discovered the joy of cooking, and sometimes he makes supper.  Tonight he made calzones. They were just plain pepperoni and cheese, but they were really good. There’s extra yummy goodness in all things home-made. No lie.

So, what beer did I drink with my fabulous home-made calzone? Now, I am a huge Guinness fan. I like a beer with some backbone, and am not prone to drink light beer. I thought about getting some Guinness tonight, but chose to try something new today. I like to try new things all the time, and very often I will choose an adult beverage by the creativity of the label if I just can’t make a decision, but the name of this beer caught my eye. Tonight’s choice is Heavy Horse Scotch Ale, which is made by Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula, MT. This is the amazing company who are the creators of Moose Drool, another good beer.

I can’t say enough good things about this beer. Not only is it not overly carbonated or hoppy, but it has a lovely smooth taste without being a light beer. Oh, it is a fabulously smooth beer. Hm!! Heavy Horse is a limited run beer, so I think I will go out and get another couple of six packs next pay-day.  Something I’d like to have in my new pantry is not only a wine cellar, but a beer cellar too.

Speaking of my new pantry. It appears that it won’t be built just yet. I still have a few boxes upstairs (left over from bringing everything up from the flood in June)  that need to be gone through and the contents to be kept will have to go in totes and returned to the basement. I have Christmas decorations still stored in my room, and they will have to go downstairs too. So, still having things that need storing in the basement, I’ll need to get those things pared down and squared away so I can get my upstairs finally squared away. Once the upstairs is back in shape, I can pay better attention to the basement. I have some before and after pictures of the organizational project I have going on down there, but I’m saving that for another post.

So, having gone on and on about the stuff I have to get done, I guess I’d better go get something done!


Hear now, the Mouse roars again

In 1969, the Mouse River flooded the city of Minot, North Dakota. After that, the river was known as The Mouse That Roared. It flooded again several times in the 70’s. It now roars again, only this time it’s a roar of epic proportions. This time around, the Mighty Mouse River is estimated to reach 7 feet higher than the worst flood ever recorded for the Mouse River Basin.

Earlier in June a crest was predicted and it was thought that the river would indeed inundate the city once more. Mandatory evacuations were put in motion and the valley went quiet for several days. Then the water receded and the people were allowed to return to their homes, with the admonishment that they may have to be evacuated again.

Today, the Mighty Mouse River roars louder. As I type this, the water is seeping over the dikes in the North West quadrant of the city. Soon it will reach a sea level measurement of 1,556 and it will pour over the dikes. People have been evacuating again for the last two days…everything they own is being moved out. Many will lose their homes, and there are some who will never return. Several people I know have moved out lock stock and barrel because they have relatives or friends who can store their things. I also know people who can’t take everything with them because they just have nowhere to take it to. These poor people will lose most everything except what they can cram into their vehicles. It’s estimated that around 11,000 people will have had to evacuate. That’s one-fourth of the population of the city. That also doesn’t count the businesses located in the valley that will be lost.

What about Sparrow’s little nest? Well, I’m fortunate in that I have a home that is at an elevation that should keep us out of the way of the river. The thing I’m worried about is that the sewers will be infiltrated by rushing water and then be forced back the way the sewage came from – right into people’s basements. My Dad came over and plugged up my drains for me, complete with wood and sandbags on top, hopefully to keep the pressure from blowing the drain plugs out altogether. I have high hopes that it won’t be a problem but, just in case, I’m making Older Son pack up his room, and we’re bringing all of his stuff upstairs; bed, carpet and all.  I’m also going to spend the afternoon going through what’s left of the boxes left in the basement, and much of it will get donated or pitched today and tomorrow.

Once again, blessings come in ridiculous packaging. Either way things turn out, I’ll have ended up with a cleaned out basement that is ready for remodeling. And, if that’s only as bad as it gets here, I will consider myself truly blessed. So many people here will lose their homes.

Here is a link to the map of my fair city that shows the different original evacuation zones. It also shows, appropriately, in blue how far they expect the water to inundate the valley, which now exceeds the evacuation zone areas. This map in the link is a PDF file and you can zoom in to see specific areas of town a little clearer. Please bear in mind that the water will be one foot higher than this map shows:

Here is a still image of this map. It’s a little on the small side, but it gives you a feeling of scale, and how big an area we expect to go underwater. Our mayor said, during a television interview that the valley is going to become a giant lake:

Please send the people in my beautiful city all the good vibes you can…the people here can use every bit of good luck they can get.

Water, a blessing and a curse. But isn’t everything?

It’s 9:13am, and I am sitting here glued to my computer listening to the ongoing coverage of the efforts to fight the flood in my home town of Minot, ND, and all the little towns in the located up and down the Mouse River Valley.  It’s a little mesmerizing and I find that I’m having a hard time looking away, kind of like a mosquito flying toward the disaster that is a bug-zapper. Not blinking doesn’t help, and certainly doesn’t take you out of danger.

I read a post on Facebook from a friend of mine with a 5-year-old child that had to do with the fact that she wouldn’t watch her cartoons, or play. All she wants to do is watch the news and keep tabs on what’s going on with the flood, even though they aren’t in the affected area. I wanted to post back to my friend to shut the tv off for a while and give her little brain a rest. Then I realized that I was doing the very same thing. I’m so concerned that I will miss some important announcement that I just can’t seem to shut it off.

So, I shut it off.  The reports last night said that the water was expected to spill over the top of the dikes made me concerned so I got up a couple of times in the early hours of the morning to check to make sure the sewer hadn’t backed up into my basement. As things stand right now, my basement is dry and all is well.

It got me to thinking about how everything in life can be a blessing and a curse. Take the obvious example of water…it means everything when it comes to sustaining life, but it can just as easily kill you. Fire keeps you warm and helps cook your food, but it also burns. A nice breeze on a hot day is refreshing, but too much wind blows things over. The steady, grass-covered Earth is a wonderful thing to lay on in the sunshine, unless it’s heaving and moving. A nice cold beer with a pizza is a fabulous thing, but too many beers can poison you.  Hm…I could use a nice beer right now. Best leave that until after Noon, huh? lol…

So, instead of sitting static, focusing on what might happen, I think I will get up and organize something. Or, perhaps Older Son and I will go out and plant his herb garden. I know one thing…no more news until a regularly scheduled news time comes along. It’s going to be a nice sunny day, weather wise, and I think I will make the best of it rather than stew on a disaster than hasn’t occurred yet.


A blessing in strange packaging

I’ve lived in my crappy little fixer-upper of a house for the last eleven years, and I’ve never really liked it. It was supposed to be a starter house, on the way to something bigger and better. Well, here we are all these years later and there’s really no sign that we’ll be “moving on up” any time soon.  Some improvements have been made, but this little house is just tired. It’s old and definitely feeling its years. Who’d have thought that it would be a blessing in disguise?

My Dad always told me there are three things to consider when choosing a home: 1. Location, 2. Location, and 3. Location.

When we originally bought this house, its most outstanding feature was that it fit into the budget. It’s a tiny little house, and it came with a manageable monthly mortgage payment. The location didn’t appear to be that great because there is a busy highway in the front, and on the other side of that, not 100 ft from my front door, is a rail road track. It’s a loud, dusty place to live. But, it was what we could afford and as long as it keeps the rain and cold out that’s the most important thing.

I live in Minot, North Dakota, and my beautiful city is flooding. Due to more days of rain than we could deal with, and the ground already saturated with water, the Mouse River (a.k.a. Souris River) has risen past the flood stage of 1549 ft, and could possibly rise to 1558 ft, which will engulf much of the valley.  Almost everyone that lives in the portion of the city located in the valley has been ordered to evacuate immediately. People are having to move the contents of their homes, and are expected to have to stay away possibly for weeks.  Right now the City is building emergency secondary dikes to save infrastructure like lift stations, and schools, etc.  My heart goes out to them…I desperately hope that their homes are salvageable after all is said and done.

Here’s my good news. My crappy little fixer-upper is located very close to where the snow plows are kept, so we are always one of the first areas to have clean streets to drive on after a blizzard. Something else I didn’t realize when I signed on the mortgage dotted-line is that the train tracks across the road from my front door is what’s keeping our butts from getting flooded. That’s a pretty important feature of my location which may just cause me to learn to love the train.  The only thing we have to worry about is the possibility of the sewer backing up into our basement. I have all my basement drains plugged, but you never know. So far, so good…all we can do now is just wait. I’m feeling blessed by living in this little house. Fixer-upper it might be, but perhaps it’s not so crappy any more…turns out my location is pretty darned good as things stand today.

The Mouse River is supposed to crest by Thursday or Friday, and then start to go back down again this weekend. We are expecting good weather, with the exception of thunder storms projected for Thursday night. With any luck, that storm system will miss us all together, and then the river can get on with the business of shrinking back into its banks.

Below I’ve posted some useful links for those of you who might be from this area, or have relatives in this area:

City of Minot Website 

Minot Flood Evacuation Map

Ward County Website

KX13 News

Good luck to everyone who’s in the affected area…here’s hoping the Mouse River doesn’t get as high as the Army Corps of Engineers is predicting.

The Universe has a twisted way of making you move forward

I got a call from Older Son while I was at work today. Apparently, condensation from the air conditioner is dripping down through the furnace and all over the floor in a part of the basement we generally don’t pay much attention to.  It just so happens that this area butts up against Older Son’s room, and now his carpet is wet. Ugh…I will count my blessings that it isn’t a lot of water, just only enough to be a pain in our keesters.

Well, it just so happens that I have a lot of work that needs to be done in the basement, as you’ve read in many of my previous blog posts, and I have successfully avoided every single opportunity to get it done. It’s a particular skill of mine, avoidance. Do you know that I very craftily made my way through a four-year BA degree without ever once having to take a math course? I’m always on the look out, consciously and unconsciously,  for ways to avoid things that might be unpleasant, time-consuming, or might require tough decision-making (as is with my basement).

So, now I can avoid it no longer…the basement must be dealt with (cue Vincent Price’s evil, echoing laughter…we haven’t heard from him in a while!).  As with all large projects, I supposed a “to-do” list is in order, but I think I might have to take a more than cursory look at the issue before I drag out the dreaded “to-do” list.

The good news is that I have so much to gain by just diving in and getting it the heck done. I’ll keep you posted on the progress…

Fear and loathing of storms on the High Plains

I live on the High Plains. Yes, I capitalized that on purpose.

Let me make something clear to begin with. I LOVE living on the High Plains. The rolling prairie is where I want to be. I love the ability to see for miles. I adore the sun rises and sun sets. I aspire to own acreage one day and grow wildflowers in stead of a front lawn, keep bees and plant orchards.  I love to watch storms roll in across the prairie in all their furious glory.

I have always been an avid storm watcher. The louder the thunder, and brighter the lightning, the better I like it. Torrential rain and hail is to be marveled at, and compared to previous downpours. The rainbows that precede and follow storms here in North Dakota are the best in the whole world. Montana thinks it has a big sky, but I beg to differ (North Dakota’s Mountain Removal Plan was effective, and now we don’t have anything blocking our view – LOL). The process of seeing a storm coming on, experiencing it, and watching it leave again is something I’ve always loved…that is until last week.

Last week a very severe storm came through, and dumped a good two inches in less than an hour. I learned very quickly that I had leaks in my basement that I never knew existed for the 10 years I’ve lived in this house. I learned the hard way that it’s a good idea to check for the small cracks, and not just big ones…the small ones let in lots of water too. Our basement didn’t altogether flood, but we had rivulets of water running down where the water collected in a low spot next to the house, and rose high enough to seep in between the foundation and the house. I also discovered a previously unknown crack in my foundation that sits right on an interior wall.  The good news is that all of this is easily fixed with caulking and some creative landscaping, at least for now. When I see storms barreling across the TV weather map, headed straight for us, I am no longer eager for it to come… I fear it and hope to heck it goes around us.

This picture of a "highly organized super cell" was taken by one of the local weather guys as the storm was rolling towards Minot last night

We had another severe storm last night, complete with tornado warning, and we all sat around Mom and Dad’s TV watching the weather reports break in every 10 minutes or so. We were warm, comfortable, dry and safe, but all I could think about was how things were going at my house. We can’t live there while the only bathroom is being remodeled, so we’re staying with Mom and Dad at least until next Thursday.

The funny thing was I dreamed last night of having exploding man-hole covers in my basement floor, with water gushing out of them. I know it was just my own paranoia playing out while I sleep, and there is no water damage today. I will be going out to get some water proof barrier for my foundation and will be caulking cracks through the weekend.  I will also be fixing my eaves troughs to plug up the holes. Every little thing I do will help.

So, after all is said and done, perhaps I can go back to enjoying a good storm? I hope so!

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