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.

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

We (me, my boys, my Dad and my two nephews) just came back from a concert in our Oak Park, where we listened to Dennis Warner sing. He was absolutely wonderful, and I think my favorite song that he sang is called The Garden Song. I couldn’t find Mr. Warner’s version on You Tube, but I found a good version of it by John Denver, and wouldn’t you know it but he’s singing on The Muppet Show:

As much as I love John Denver’s music, I have to say that Dennis Warner did it better. He has a You Tube Channel, and I urge you to go out and give his songs a listen. His music is really worth taking the time:

I think the nicest thing about his concert tonight is that he had us all singing together, and it was a such a beautiful evening. I’m so glad we advantage of the opportunity to go hear some great music and enjoy a nice evening outside. Mr. Warner has published eight albums as well as a children’s book titled Beads on One String which is now being used in elementary school education programs.

Emerald Ash Borer…a nasty little bug

I just got in from my morning walk, and I feel very lucky that I have a nice place to walk through. There’s a little dead-end street not far from my house called Arbor Ave, which is aptly named as the houses on that street are nestled into an almost woods like setting. You don’t see places like this in Western North Dakota very often, and it makes for a nice place to walk and relax. The nice thing about trees is that they provide shade and beauty. In many cases they provide food and a place to hang your hammock.

Sometimes they also provide danger.

The valley I live in is full of Siberian Elm, Ash and Cottonwoods. There are also Oak trees, but mostly only down by the river. We even have a very few American Elms that survived the Dutch Elm Disease that wiped them out in the 80’s across the country. The Siberian Elms (like the one I just chopped down) have a tendency to commit suicide and just die, but they are prolific in their reproduction.  The tree of primary concern these days is the Ash. The Emerald Ash Borer is on its way, and will devastate my little valley once it gets here. I’m lucky in that I got rid of the last of my trees. They were old and dying, so I don’t have anything to worry about, but the rest of my community will have an interesting fight on their hands. This parasite has been detected in Minnesota in 2009, so it’s only a matter of time before it spreads West.

In many cases, the houses here are packed in tight together, and there’s little room for cheap tree removal. In a lot of cases, these large old trees hang over power lines. It’s going to be a mess. It’s also going to be ugly and dangerous.  Now you can look down into the valley and see a nice lush blanket of green, and after the Emerald Ash Borer gets done with us, it will not be so pretty any more. I know that will change with time, as people replace these trees with something else, but it will be hard to watch them die. There will be a lot of people who won’t be able to pay to get these trees removed, and there will be a lot of dead trees standing around for a while, unless the City pitches in.  It’s my hope that these dying trees get replaced with hearty fruit and nut bearing trees, and then an element of permaculture can be implemented in our little valley.

So, why are these dead trees going to be dangerous? We have pretty high winds a lot of days here in North Dakota, and it’s not going to take much to blow down some of these very tall, very dead trees, and they will land on power lines and homes. Did I mention I was glad I don’t have to deal with that issue any more?! Down the street I see one of my neighbors has a very tall tree hanging over the power line that provides service to the whole side of our street. It would be just our luck that it fell down in the winter time, but that’s just the frightened little pessimist in me talking.

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