Today’s self care moment

I had extra time this morning, so I stopped at one of my favorite local shops, Minot Daily Bread, picked up a scone and a coffee, and took them to Scandinavian Heritage Park.

It’s so quiet here, even with the traffic from Broadway, and the pine trees smell so good. It feels great to sit here and sip my amazing blackberry lavender mocha, and just breathe. This is what self care looks like for me today.

This is a place I used to come to a lot, and I think I’m going to start coming here more often. It’s especially nice on cool mornings like this, and it’s big enough I could come walking here. What a lovely local resource. ❤️

What does self care look like for you today? Here’s hoping you all can take a few minutes for yourself to recharge. Life is too short not to. Blessings all!

Day 6 – Pancakes. That’s right, I went there.

This morning, I did something a little different. Usually I get up, walk on the treadmill, pancakes-1-29-17write a few words, throw back a smoothie, run through the shower, get dressed, and run to work.

Today, given that it’s Sunday, we slept in. Then we went to my favorite place in town to eat breakfast, Ebeneezers. It was amazing, as always. Not only is their coffee the best in town, but their pancakes are to die for.

Yes I ate the pancakes, with butter and syrup, and it was worth every bite.

So why, if I am trying to lose weight and get healthy, am I eating luscious things like Pancakes? Because I wasn’t born only to go to work, pay bills, count calories, and die.

I really do try to pay attention to what I am putting in my mouth, but if stopping to smell the roses means indulging in the best pancakes in town once in a while, so be it.

On Day 6 of this challenge,  I have  already noticed a positive outcome. I seem to be experiencing a little less brain fog than usual, and I am sleeping better. Hopefully that trend will continue.

Here’s hoping you find some interesting ways to stop and smell the roses. If you live close to Minot, ND, try the pancakes as Ebeneezers…they are worth it! Blessings all!

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.

Football with a view

This Thursday night was the first game of the season for Younger Son’s football team. Now, I don’t understand much of football, but I keep trying. Younger keeps trying teach me the rules, and they are slowly but surely sticking, but by the time he graduates from high school, I don’t imagine there will be much call for me to watch a football game anymore. Football just isn’t something I am interested in, unless Younger is playing, or it’s a University of North Dakota game (GO SIOUX!).

Last year Duane Carlson Stadium at Magic City Campus was under renovation and the teams had to use other venues. This year, the construction is all done, and they have one heck of a field. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Duane Carlson Stadium is probably one of the best, if not THE best, in the whole state. Why is it the best? Because of the view. I don’t know jack about football, but I know a pretty view when I see one.

Not only have the stadium and field  just been redone, but it has got to have the most fantastic view of the Mouse River Valley. The Stadium is built into the side of a hill, and looks out over the valley in a breath-taking way. People think that North Dakota is as flat as a board, but that isn’t entirely true. Eastern North Dakota is just as flat as a board, but once you travel West of the Red River Valley the landscape becomes beautiful rolling prairie full of coolies, valleys, hills and fields.  Below is a series of pictures I took throughout the game.


Here’s one looking North West. The big “M” used to reside on top of the Metropolitan Federal Building. When Metropolitan Federal went belly up, the school bought it, and it looks great overlooking the Valley.

There’s something beautiful about a field lit up in the dark!

Unfortunately Younger Son didn’t get to play until the end, and the game was lost 0-21. Oh well, it was a beautiful night to watch the sunset and enjoy the view!

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!





A new citizen approacheth!

Let me start off by letting you know up front that this is a repeat of a posting I did over at my friend Mark’s blog, The Idiot Speaketh. He was kind enough to let me hijack his blog for a little while tonight, and let me post this sight unseen.  I commented in my last post I thought so much of what Mark was doing that I wanted to give him an honorary North Dakota citizenship. Not just because he’s an all around great guy, but because he flat-out earned it. What I posted at Mark’s blog is as follows:

A few weeks ago, Mark did a most amazing thing. He rode his stationary bike 201 miles in only one day, and invited all of his many blog friends to make pledges in support of the flood recovery effort for my beautiful city of Minot, North Dakota. Not only did he pull off a personal best, but funds were indeed donated to the Red Cross on Minot’s behalf. It makes me tear up just thinking about the effort that Mark, and many others, went to…I thank you all on behalf of my community. (HUGS)

In my estimation, Mark is the embodiment of the word neighborliness. Here in North Dakota, being neighborly is important, because your survival just may depend upon your neighbors helping you out at some point. The climate can be harsh and deadly here on The High Plains, and folks up here just help each other out as a matter of course. Not because they have to, but because they can. He lives in Texas, which is on the other side of the country from North Dakota, and yet he is a good neighbor. A fabulous neighbor. Neighborlicious. That’s right, Mark…I made that word up just for you.

Mark’s reward for being outstanding in the neighborliness department doesn’t stop there. As promised, I have decided to make Mark an honorary North Dakota Citizen. As befitting any occasion where one gains citizenship to a new place, a little pomp and circumstance is in order.

After long thought about how a Statehood Citizenship Ceremony might go, I’ve determined that the symbols of the Great State of North Dakota should be incorporated. However, we’ll have to forgo the buffalo as it just wouldn’t cooperate and let Mark ride it into the Blogiverse Auditorium this evening. (Mark, my humble apologies about him having bucked you off and trod upon your toes!) Ahem…let’s get started, shall we?

(Mark enters, stage right, adorned in lei’s made of the Wild Prairie Rose, and escorted by a jubilant Western Meadowlark)

Here now, in the presence of the entire Blogiverse, all bear witness to Mark’s brave and unselfish deeds:

For initiating acts of Neighborliness from far across the country…

For behavior befitting a Native North Dakotan by coming to the aid of others, just because he could…

For having a “can do” attitude…

For exhibition of stamina, as demonstrated by riding the same distance in one day on a stationary bike (200+ miles), that would take almost four hours by car (like driving from Minot to Grand Forks)…

For having a heart the size of the sky over The High Plains, and as golden as the wheat fields that cover the rolling prairies of North Dakota…

And, for having a sense of humor so great as to make the most stoic farmer crack a smile…

(Whacking Mark about the head and shoulders with a shock of ripe wheat) I dub thee, Mark Pakulak, a true North Dakotan, with all of the rights an privileges wherein. You and your family will always be welcome here with open arms. I wish you joy, peace, and all the good things life has to offer you. May you never hunger, may you never thirst, and may the roads you travel always be clear of potholes.

As is befitting any event done properly in North Dakota, a pot luck will follow!

(uh…Mark…make sure to exit stage left. The buffalo is still behind the curtain on stage right, and he’s looking longingly at your toes…)

Blessed are mundane things

Today started out being not such a bad day. My house wasn’t considered to be in the flood zone, and we had made some progress on going through stuff in the basement that needed to be gotten rid of or brought upstairs. There was a sense of it needing to be done, but not that we had to kill ourselves to finish up.

My Sister calls this "Frog in a Blender"

Then we went out to run some errands. Older Son came with me and on the way home, I thought it would be nice to stop at Starbucks and get us some coffee. Or, in my case, a nice Green Tea Frappuccino.  We sat outside the drive through speaker for a long time, and then a girl came out and apologized, letting us know that they were closing due to the evacuation zones being expanded.


Yep…we came right home and turned on the tv. The big news is that someone just discovered that double the water was coming our way, and those close to the original evacuation zones were to evacuate as well. Well, that threw things into a tizzy. Later on we would find out that we weren’t in an expanded evacuation zone, but that someone had jumped the gun on that announcement. We are still getting double the water, though. It’s going to be what I come to call a Prairie Tsunami.

So, Older Son and I began to get things up from the basement, double time. Younger Son was at Driver’s Ed all afternoon, but got home early. We hauled stuff up and stashed it in bedrooms, we hauled crap out to the curb for garbage pickup, and we took some stuff to a friend who had use for them. It got to be about 9:30, and I walked across the road to see what’s going on closer to the river. I could see straight down one road to a main drag that runs over a bridge across the river. It was still dry, even though the West end of town is flooding. I’m hoping to get up tomorrow and still see a dry road. We’ll see what the new day brings. Until then, time to hit the rack.

Older Son’s bed is smack in the middle of the living room, so he’ll be comfortable enough until this whole thing is over and we can get him back into his bedroom in the basement. He suggested that we watch a movie, Battle: L.A. It’s an alien attack movie, just the kind of sci-fi thing we all like to watch. I sat here earlier flossing my teeth and catching up on the news on Facebook, and realized how nice it was to just do something as mundane as take care of my teeth. Watching a movie together is a nice mundane way to try to normalize after a long day of tearing up your house, and watching your community go under water via the television.  For now, we are just a family hanging out together, discussing the best way for the protagonists to kill the attacking aliens. Run of the mill stuff around these parts.

Good night all…


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.

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