“…oh yeah, that’s the night we stole the limo…”

So The Flirt and I are sitting in the living room watching 80’s videos (you know, back when music and their videos were good), and there’s no titles or artists listed on the videos as they came on. We made a game out of trying to remember the names of the bands and songs as they appeared.

Along with guessing the artists and song titles came discussion of what bands we’ve seen, and who’s still on the “to see” bucket list. This one song came on the tv just then that we had a hard time identifying. Then out of his mouth pops… “oh… I saw them. Yeah, that was the night we stole the limo…”

The Flirt used to drink quite heavily back in the day, and has a lot of interesting stories to tell. Today he launched into this story about they got into someone else’s limo after a concert, and got the driver to take them home to the after party. That’s not really stealing, but more of a coercive hijacking. Apparently the limo driver liked to party and was easily talked into shenanigans.

Then there was the time that the Flirt and his friend ran into a bunch of guys coming out of a bar and offered them a beer. Turns out that group of guys was the band Skid Row, and their kindness in offering them beer earned them a pass to the hotel the band was staying at in Fargo that night. The Flirt and his friend showed up, and did in fact party with Skid Row. Not much is remembered, other than a good time was had by all.

This storytelling is something The Flirt does all the time, and it feels normal to hear all about his wild, misspent, drunken youth. I’ve heard so many of the stories several times, but this one about Skid Row was new, and only remembered because their video came on randomly today.

Doing stuff that feels normal is a big deal right now. Everything we normally do has been tipped over on its head, and we are having to find our way again through the most mundane tasks. Today I was messing with my unemployment, having to certify for the week past, and it was stressful. I don’t like being on unemployment. The Flirt telling me stories today was a nice touchstone to help keep me grounded.

Something else we do that is so normal for us is ride the motorcycle. When the weather shows the least bit of warmth, the motorcycles come out in droves. We were no exception. It was good to get on the bike and just go. No masks, no extra social distancing, just he and I on the bike, like normal. Our butts were a bit sore after the first ride of the season, but that’s normal too.

This last week I worked very little, but got very much accomplished around the house. One of the things I did was plant flowers. I usually wait until May or June, but the weather has been so warm that I just needed to get my hands in the dirt and plant something. That’s one of the most normal things I do in the Spring.

Doing normal things helps. Here’s hoping you all find those normal touchstones throughout your days, as we make our ways through these strange and precarious times. Grab onto those… they help so much. Blessings all!

When the $&@/ hits the fan…

Faithful Readers, the stuff has hit the fan. At least, partially.

Yesterday, we were notified that my whole team has been partially furloughed. This means I will be working only two days a week going forward. I think the business I work for hoped that would be at least enough to cover our benefits, while we collect unemployment.

I’m not sure I we will qualify for unemployment, but I will apply anyway. I don’t want to, because there’s a weird stigma in my family about that. I was taught that you get up, go to work every day, you pay your bills like every other responsible citizen, and hope you have enough left over for savings. If there’s not enough money at one job, then you get another one.

Thank goodness I have a little put away in savings. It’s not much, but it will help.

I know I am not alone in this, and the weird shame I feel about applying for unemployment is irrational, but that’s the tape playing in my head. I feel pretty certain that I will feel compelled to look for another job, even though I know there are none to be had in my small community, that pay me what I make now.

I hope this crisis won’t last that long. I love my job, and my team, and I don’t want to leave it. Fingers crossed.

Something struck me today when I looked at my little herb garden. I know for a fact that it accidentally got salted this winter. I told The Flirt not to shovel the salted snow on the back step that direction, but I’m fairly sure he did it anyway, forgetting that you can’t put salt on earth you want to grow things in. I’ve been watching it to see if anything comes up, or if the salt did everything in, and I have been pleasantly surprised.

I see my chives are popping up nicely, but nothing else is growing except some grass and a little weed I spied in the back. It gives me hope that we will also spring up after our earth has been salted and a whole bunch of our friends and family have died. We are losing jobs, and will lose a lot more in the coming days.

It won’t last forever, but we are going to feel the hurt, and carry the scars from this, for a very long time. Life will look a lot different after this is done, but we will survive and get through this.

Here’s hoping this note finds you all well, and surviving nicely. Blessings all!

Blessings just hanging around the yard

This last couple of weeks has been full of all kinds of small back yard blessings.

Last post you saw a picture of the plum cake I made, but I didn’t talk too much about the tree and how much I had to baby it along so the plums would grow. Most fell off but I got a good bowlful, which was enough as I don’t have time for canning this year. I wish I’d taken the picture before I started chopping them up!

I also seem to be having good luck with my petunias. They are the small variety, but just right for the front porch.

This going to sound dumb maybe, but I like mushrooms, and I was tickled to find some growing in my yard today.

Small things matter, Faithful Readers. All kinds of small blessings are just out there hanging around waiting to be noticed. Here’s hoping you all have an abundance of them wherever you are. Blessings all!

Pretty weeds, and choosing battles wisely

The “Shoulds” are knocking pretty hard on my door this fine Saturday morning, but I saw something that intrigued me so much I’ve been wanting to write about it all week. Today, I’m just going to make time for it.

There’s this bunch of plants in my neighborhood I have been noticing every morning as I drive to work. They always look so pretty in the morning light. The truth is, they are a bunch of weeds covered in dew, with the light shining through them.

Does that make them any less pretty? 

No, it does not. 

I could easily launch into a discussion about how many weeds are edible, and have way more nutritional value than grass, but that isn’t the point. I think the thing I am feeling about these pretty weeds is that one can apprecciate something, even though most people would only argue that they need to be eradicated just because they are a weed.

Faithful readers, you have witnessed my struggles with the Creeping Jenny in my yard and rock beds. I have to admit, as much as I have tried to kill that noxious weed, I found myself admiring how pretty the flowers were, peeking from my freshly mown yard last week. 

Is that giving up, or giving in? Maybe. The question I have to ask myself is what is the struggle worth?

In the case of weeds, not much. I actually hurt myself pulling Virginia Creeper out of my compost bin last week, and and continues to plague me today. In stead of just waiting until I could get the correct tool to chop that insideous vine off at the ground, I yanked on it hard to pull it out because I was in a hurry. Dork…. Thanks to my impatience, I pulled a muscle that now refuses to heal up. That will teach me to do before I think.

Anyway, I guess the moral of this story is to pick your battles, think before you do, and it’s ok to appreciate pretty stuff, even if it’s not convenient for it to be where it’s at. 

Here’s to hoping you all have the patience today to pick those battles wisely. Blessings all!

Lazy Sunday thoughts from the High Plains.

We’ve had rain on and off for the last week, which is a good thing. Today, we had enough sunshine that it was a good time to get out and mow. I’m mostly mowing whatever weeds were strong enough to grow during our earlier drought, but at least the yard looks less like a jungle than it did after a week of rain.

Sometimes I find things I wasn’t expecting, and that’s all the reason to spend more time in my yard.

My Stella D’Oro lilies finally started to bloom. There aren’t a lot of blooms coming yet, but there were two, which I actually found last night. I’m going to be redoing my rock beds this fall, and this one is going to have to get moved. I might even split it up as it’s gotten so big.

In the back yard, I noticed that the rain has really helped my horse radish explode in size. This poor thing accidentally got weed whacked this spring, but really has made a great come back.

I’ve got so many things to do in the yard, but it’s hot now, so it will have to wait until after supper. I just can’t take prolonged direct sun exposure like I used to.

Time now to get the laundry folded, and swap some loads between the washer and dryer.

Hmmm… maybe some more tea before I do. After all, the laundry isn’t going to get up and run away if I don’t do it right this minute. I’m ok with a slow lazy Sunday. Sometimes that’s just what’s needed.

Here’s hoping you all make time to take a deep breath, and just take a few minutes for yourself between chores. Life’s too short not to. Blessings all!

Creeping Jenny gets evicted

As you, my Faithful Readers, will remember, I have rock beds around the foundation of my house. Weeds growing up around the edges of the quickly disappearing plastic under the rocks has become a problem.

The most prolific weed I deal with is what we on the High Plains call Creeping Jenny. She’s quite a nuisance, and is impossible to get rid of. This noxious weed is otherwise known as Field Bindweed, which is an appropriate name, because it winds up all around and inside anything it touches, including the siding of my house, and my air conditioner. I just spent an hour going around my foundation pulling a whole lot of it out by the roots.

Now that I think of it, I may have even blogged about this last year. Well, enough complaining…time to redo the rock beds. This time I’ll put a rubberized pond liner under the rocks, which will help a great deal.

Something lovely I did find tonight, in the old gardens in the back yard, was a strawberry plant. I thought they all died, so it was a nice surprise to find this sweet little plant peeking out between the weeds.

Here’s hoping you all find a sweet little surprise while doing an icky chore. Little things like that can go a long way to lift your spirits. Blessings all!

Last gasps of Spring…

I don’t have much going on in my yard this year yet, but I do have a few things blooming, and it does my heart good.

It’s not lost on me that Spring is almost gone, and Summer is upon us. Yesterday it was 90+ degrees here in central North Dakota, and that is unusual for May. We are looking a drought right in the hairy eyeball, and I am worried that things will be brown for most of the summer season. Time to strategize a passive watering system.

Anyway, today’s nature walk through my yard is certainly something to be grateful for, and I thought I would share a bit of it with you.

Here’s hoping you all have some nature nearby to appreciate. Take a deep breath and stop to smell whatever’s blooming. Blessings all!

Don’t mentally flog yourself with a bar you haven’t reached yet

We’ve had some cold wet weather recently on the High Plains, and it has really ramped up the cabin fever. I’ve got the gardening bug bad, and this week I bought plants and got busy outside, cold wet weather notwithstanding. Today, finally, we have bright blue skies and warm temps. So I went out to check on everyone to see how things are progressing.

One of my favorite plants ever is the Bleeding Heart. My Grandmother always had one in her back yard, and it was something I always looked forward to seeing bloom. I can’t believe I just now got around to buying one. Hopefully the deer won’t find it tasty! I lose a lot of things in my yard every summer… it’s like a deer buffet. This year I bought some deer netting, so I hope that it will keep them away, especially from my tomatoes and peppers.

While digging a hole to plant my Bleeding Heart, I found something that looks very much a zucchini. I planted them last year, but nothing came up. This year I have this lovely little volunteer, so I kept it and will see if it’s what I think it is.

I also planted Thyme, Rosemary, and Basil next to the chives. The chives are already blooming, so I’ll let them be and just cut them back when the bloom is done. They are so pretty when they bloom!

This is the 3rd year the zombie hand has been in my garden. It’s survived some nasty winters, so it gets to stay again this summer. I added the little fisherman this year, and we will see how many years we can keep him around.

The front porch always needs so color, so I put some pots together, and I’m hoping they do better than the ones last year.

Over the winter I forget how relaxing it is to putter outside with the gardens. It’s I’m looking forward to a long summer of that.

So, The Summer To Do list is starting to shape up, for outdoors, and indoors too:

1. Paint the kitchen/entry/hallway

2. Finish the side yard

3. Build a compost container

4. Fill in holes in the back yard and plant grass

5. Redo the rock beds- kill the weeds and put down new plastic under the rock

6. Finish the work area in the basement

7. Clear out the pantry, paint it and put it back together

8. Spiff up the basement utility area

It looks like I have my work cut out for me, and the list feels more than a little daunting. Lots of projects to do, and a pledge of help from the Flirt will go along way to get all of it accomplished. We’ll see what it looks like in September! Usually I get to the end of the Summer, and feel terrible and guilty about anything that didn’t get accomplished. No more of that noise. If it doesn’t all get done, I’m not going to have stress about it, and I’m going to enjoy what did get done. Life’s too short.

Here’s hoping you all have plenty of happy projects to keep your minds happy and your hearts full. Just remember having a bar to reach for is all well and good, but only worry about getting done what you can, when you can. Don’t mentally flog yourself with that bar if you don’t end up reaching it. Blessings 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!


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