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!

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Little things mean so much


So much has happened in the last few weeks…

Younger Son was home on leave for two weeks, and it was nice to have all my chicks in the nest again. So much changes, but then again not. My world-traveling baby is still his same self, but so grown up.

We managed to go away for a weekend to visit my brother’s family, and that was good. Older Nephew is going into his senior year and, this time around, I have to make sure to make it to some of his hockey games. Younger Nephew is only four years behind him, and I have missed out on so much with both of them. I did find out that Older Nephew will be attending my alma mater next year, which makes my heart soar!

Today I discovered I was gifted with a blogger award! Wow! I will be passing that one on to some of my favorite bloggers shortly, but I have some revamping of my page to do first, so more on that to come.

I’ve been a bit under the emotional weather lately, and I am not sure why. There seems to be something under the surface bugging me, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps there has just been too much going on, and I haven’t been able to catch my breath. Whatever it is, it seems only to be cured by the simplest things.

Tonight my Flirt, his Giant Dog, and I went for a walk out in the country. It was just what the doctor ordered. There is nothing quite like the rolling prairies of the High Plains. It’s so beautiful, no matter what season it is. Right now, though, is when it’s at its most beautiful – Harvest Season!

In the pictures above, Giant Dog is shown walking ahead. He knows hunting season is around the corner and was so happy to get out and run around the dusty road, and all in the weeds. He even managed to get in the water and go for a swim.

It aggravates me to no end when out-of-staters complain that there isn’t anything to look at in North Dakota. I beg to differ, and I have come to believe that some people are so used to being handed “pretty” scenery on a platter that when something different comes along, something that’s a little more plain, it is written off without a second look.

North Dakota is full of all kinds of wild life, and beautiful scenery. Today, I was able to capture a lovely sunset, and several interesting plants. Above you can see the wild sunflowers. Below is a picture of some plants I was so pleased to be able to find: wild Echinacea and chamomile! If I’d been thinking, I’d have dug some up and transplanted it into my yard. It’s a good excuse to go for another walk later this week. 🙂

Echinacea and Chamomile

All one needs to do is look a little closer, and you will see so much. I suspect that is the way it is with everything in life. Little things mean a lot.

Here’s hoping you find some interesting things in places you wouldn’t suspect you’d find anything. Look closely…there are beautiful little miracles everywhere, if you pay attention.

Jump in the lake? Yes, thank you…I think I will!


I got a text from The Flirt this afternoon before I got off work, asking if I’d like to go to the lake for a swim tonight. Oh boy, did I ever. It’s been really hot here in North Dakota lately, and a swim in a nice cold lake would hit the spot.

Earlier this Summer, The Flirt and I met his family at Lake Sakakawea (yes, that is the correct spelling…). I don’t own a swimming suit, so I didn’t plan on getting into the water. When I got there, The Flirt’s sister, my best buddy, “C”, asked why I was just sitting on the shore with my toes in the water. She didn’t care for my “nothing to swim in” explanation and very bossily told me to get my keester in the water. As it turns out, the rest of them were swimming in their shorts and t-shirts as well. After a bit of arguing with “C”, who wasn’t taking no for an answer, I made a decision.

Life is just too short to sit around and watch other people have all the fun. I jumped in the lake with all of my clothes on…and I loved every minute of it. Riding home with wet clothes on was no picnic, but it was worth it.

The big question I had to finally ask myself is, “what will it hurt?” I’ve been asking that of myself a lot lately, and I think my life has been a lot more simple as a result. That has been kind of the crux of my Summer of Yes…Life is too short. If it looks like fun, and it won’t hurt anything or anyone, let’s do it!

Today, I was able to talk Younger Son into going a long, so he and I, and The Flirt, and his Giant Dog, went swimming. What a lovely evening, just paddling around in the cool water while the sun set. I’d had a hard week already, so this was a most welcome event. I think Younger Son enjoyed himself way more than he thought he would, and he agreed that it would be nice to spend more time at the lake next summer.

I had enough to do that I should have stayed home and worked on all of the things that need catching up on. If I die tomorrow, I don’t believe I’ll have any regrets for having let the chores wait another day. I’m glad we jumped at the opportunity and did this very simple, very relaxing thing. It made all the difference.

Here’s hoping that you have some lovely opportunity pop up that you can easily grab hold of and run with. Life on this Earth is too short not to take advantage of them.

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!

Hug your favorite tree…you never know when someone will cut it down


Here in my little town, which isn’t so little any more, we’ve had a really crappy development. The business I work at is located on the Northwest edge of town, not too far from the corner of 21st ave and the 83 bypass. In the field on that corner there was a wheat field, and it had this lovely, great big burr oak growing in it.

I was fortunate enough to have taken one picture of it. This particular picture was taken in September 2010, just before the leaves began to turn. There is more to see beyond this tree…quite a nice view of the valley from the Western edge of the Cube Farm property, but not for long.

It is a common phenomenon in North Dakota to see a lone tree growing in a field. Some speculate that farmers left a tree here or there so they would have a shady spot to take a break under. It seems plausible, and I have to wonder how many different times this tree sheltered someone in the middle of a hot work day. I estimate that it was somewhere between 75-100 years old when it was cut down. It would be interesting to have a playback of all that has happened in the presence of this tree. I’m guessing there have been some interesting things going on when nobody was looking.

Because of the dire situation in Minot with the lack of housing, due to last year’s flood and all of the oil workers swarming into the area, all the available land is being snapped up and built up with homes. I truly do understand the need, and we all knew it was coming, but I wonder why it is a good idea to tear down this lovely tree rather than use it as the focal point for a park in the new neighborhood that is in the process of being built? I predict that the homes that are to be built here will be cookie cutter in nature, smallish,  and set very close together.  I can’t say that it will be an improvement.

There are a lot of people at the Cube Farm who will be really angry that this tree was torn down. So many of us enjoyed watching it change with the seasons. Sometimes, when times were stressful it was nice to take a break and walk out to the Western edge of the property and just watch the branches of the tree sway with the breeze. That simple activity did so much to help decrease my stress level. I am very sad to see this lovely tree go.

Now that Spring is here, I’ll be out and about taking pictures again, and will show the “progress” that has happened since I last took pictures around the edge of town. It’s now become my new hobby to catalog the changes in the landscape around town with all the building going on.

Don’t forget to hug your favorite tree…someone may cut it down when you aren’t looking.

May I see your identification, please…this ride doesn’t stop.


Recently, I’ve run into a lot of situations where I’ve had to card people while working at the Big Box Store. You wouldn’t believe what kinds of things you can’t buy in North Dakota until you are 18…some movies, cold medicines, spray paint. The list seems to be endless these days, and I find myself having to ask people for proof that they are old enough to purchase these items.

Very often, the ID’s that are shown to me are by people who were either born on the year I graduated from high school (20+ years ago), or were born the same year Oldest Son was born. It’s pretty bizarre that I am running into so many people who are just young enough that I could be their mother. Add to that the fact that I have several friends my age and younger who have grand children.

Needless to say it’s been weirding me out something fierce.

Today Older Son had his senior pictures taken (thank you, Brea!), and it was kind of surreal in a way I can’t even begin to describe. He’s really graduating from high school. Really. No take backs or do overs. The boy, er, young man, is getting ready to launch.

!

Please excuse me while I put on my crash helmet and strap in… I feel a little bit like I’m on a roller coaster, and the ride attendant has decided to give me an extended ride. I know this is just part of life, and I certainly remember being on Older Son’s end of things, but it is almost a little bit more jarring than I expected.  I’m betting this is normal and that a lot of parents have this issue. I think the strangest thing is that there is now no more road map. After graduation in May, the road map butts up against blank paper and then he has to start writing his own story from there.

Here’s the thing I know to be truth. There is no stopping. There is no Ground Hog Day scenario where I get to be Bill Murray and keep doing a day over until I get it right. There is no going around the block to make sure you take the turn you meant to take. The train has definitely pulled out of the station and I’m not going to be the conductor for very much longer.

I would be a bald-faced liar if I didn’t admit that there is some freedom for me in that. I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, but I do. I’m guessing that will pass and life will just keep going, just like it always does.

Pretty soon, Older Son will be purchasing things that will cause him to have his ID checked.  I haven’t been carded in a very long time, as I don’t color my hair to hide the silver. I figure I worked hard for those natural highlights…who am I to paint over what Nature gave me? It has the effect of letting everyone know that I am definitely old enough, for whatever. I guess if I’m old enough to have goodly sized silver streaks in my hair, I’m old enough to have a child who’s become a man and let him move on with his life. See how I talk myself into things? I’m very circular that way sometimes.

The good news is that it’ll be a small practice run for the whole Empty Nest Enchilada. I have a few years reprieve from that, as Younger Son won’t graduate until 2014.  And then what happens when Sparrow’s Nest holds just one sparrow in it again?

My life begins again.

The holding pattern evaporates and I get to reinvent my life. My road map will then butt up against a blank page, and I’ll get to start writing my own story again. It will be my turn.

I might even bump into a man who will be worth my time.  I’m pretty convinced that’s unlikely, but one never knows for sure.

Hmm….

Most days, two years feels like a small drop in a cosmic bucket, but there have been a few moments here and there where it seems like it’s going to be an eternity. Every now and again I get a small glimpse of what life  might be like when I can concentrate on myself and the things I’d like to do.  I hear people really do that. No joking. At least, that’s what I hear.

We’ll see if the rumors are true.

Until then I’ll keep on going, because this ride just doesn’t stop.

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!

 

 

 

 

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