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.


A fabulous evening outdoors

It’s been raining a lot in my area lately, but today it quit raining long enough for the sun to come out and dry things up a little bit. As luck would have it, I have a friend who needed to thin out her strawberry patch, and she invited me to come out and take some of her extras. As Older Son had to work today, it was just me and Younger road tripping out to the country to pick up the strawberries. It was a lovely drive in the country and I had a nice visit with my friend. But, the fun didn’t stop there.

After supper, Younger Son and I went to the back yard to work some manure into the garden, plan seeds and put the strawberries in. The place the strawberries went was an over grown bed that we never really do much with, so now it’s been all cleaned out and the strawberries have been planted:

Apparently onions thrive when planted with strawberries, and my friend was kind enough to send along some “volunteers” that came up from last year, so we have onions and strawberries. I can’t wait to be able to go out in the back yard and pick fresh berries!

Another extra that she sent with me was an oregano plant. I’m looking forward to using that, and the basil we’ll be planting in fresh spaghetti sauce!

To the left of my new strawberry patch is the rest of the garden that needs cleaning out. We’ll have basil, dill and other herbs to plant there.

While I was busy cleaning out this bed and planting the strawberries, Younger Son was busy with the vegetable garden. Not only did he spread some manure and work it into the soil, but then he planted the corn, peas, carrots and zucini. Last year we didn’t get the garden put in until June was half gone, but we got a nice start on it this year. I want to pick up some peppers and grape tomatoes to plant too. I also bought some blueberry bushes, but they are waiting by the garden in buckets yet, until I can move the rhubarb.   This is going to be a fabulous garden year!

Even better than getting out and getting my hands in the soil was just spending a lovely evening outside. The bugs were minimal, the air was clean and fresh, and the sun did a fabulous job taking its time setting…it was still light out at 9:30 when we finally went inside. I feel so relaxed and content now, even though I gardened when I should have been cleaning house. My house is a wreck, but I feel fabulous!

I’ll post more as progress is made through the summer. I can hardly wait for harvest!

Where is Barbara Eden when you need her?

Holy cow…life has taken be for quite a ride these last two weeks. The end of the school year, combined with everything else that’s going on has left me with my head spinning and my house is a complete disaster. Here it is, Friday already this week, and I have company coming this weekend. Uff da.

I woke up today thinking how lovely it would be if I could have mad skills like Barbara Eden’s Jeannie. I would love it if I could clean my whole house with just a sharp bob of my head.  In my youth, when I spouted off about how I wished something could be different, my Dad would ask me if I had a pile of wish in one and a cow patty in another, what do you get when you rub your hands together? Better to get your hands dirty with work than to rub them together wishing things were different. Well, I’m unhappy to report that Dad was right. Wishing doesn’t quite fix the problem, so I guess I’ll stay up a little later tonight and get everything in order.

In other news, we’ve had a few gloriously sunshiny days. We deserved this nice weather, and I even got a little bit of a sunburn at the garage sale last weekend. Today we have 100% chance of rain, but I’m hoping that things will dry out enough this coming week that we’ll be able to put the garden in.

In North Dakota, we have a LOT of different Seasons, all of which overlap each other. For example, right now it is Spring, but it is also the beginning of Road Construction and Home Improvement Seasons. We have a lot of pot holes in the streets after a long hard Winter…axle-busting pot holes…and it could very well take most of the Spring and Summer for them all to get repaired. Home Improvement Season will be long too. There’s just no end to the work of art in progress that is my home. Thank goodness for my Dad, who has a handle on all things that have to do with home improvement.

Last year I had the roof replaced, the bathroom gutted and redone, and all of my windows were changed out. This will be the Summer of Small Projects. Lots of paint, lots of organizing and much getting rid of stuff that I don’t need anymore. I’m looking at doing some different things with my garden this year too, but more on that later.

Today it will rain and wash away the dust and dirt that covers everything, and make the air smell good. I have lunch with my Sister by Choice today, and work should be light….at least at the Cube Farm. It’s going to be a good day.

Waterlogged blessings

Last night we had one humdinger of a thunderstorm pass through. It passed by quickly, but there was a lot of bright lightning, and the thunder was so loud it literally shook the house. While I’m a big fan of thunderstorms, I have to say I could have waited. We are so waterlogged here that more rain is just not what most people needed here. Not only are people still dealing with flooding issues left over from the snow melting, but the farmers are over due trying to get their spring seeding done. Uff-da, what a mess.

So, where’s the blessing here? As Older Son astutely observed, “Well, at least it isn’t snowing”.  Amen to that.

In an effort to lighten my over-watered mood, of course I went out to You Tube looking for something to make me laugh. I found lots of interesting things to post, unfortunately Word Press isn’t cooperating and won’t let me embed videos today. Suffice it to say that videos I found were hilarious snippets of cats doing silly things. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Speaking of cats, I’ve not posted an update about my lovely kitty, Harley. Turns out he can be quite a handful, and has discovered the joys of clawing the corners of the box springs our mattresses. Baaaaad kitty.

Harley is also not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. He likes to hide in things, but has gotten big and doesn’t fit quite how he used to as illustrated by this picture:

This is Harley playing in one of his favorite boxes. He used to be able to fit all the way inside, but now he can’t even get his whole body in.  He’s kind of like a little kid who hasn’t learned yet that just because he can’t see you, it doesn’t mean you can’t see him. So, Harley’s backside sticks out a lot, and he thinks he’s good and hidden. At least it provides us with on-going entertainment!

Anyway, here’s hoping that you can find something in your day to make you laugh. Better yet, here’s hoping that you need not go seeking for something to make your day brighter.

How blessed is Friday, let me count the ways…

We made it!  Friday is here again, but it’s not just any run-of-the-mill Friday. This Friday is special for a bunch of reasons:

~The boys don’t have school, which means I don’t have to take anyone anywhere else but me to work. That means I’ll have time to stop and get myself a fluffy coffee…score!

~Everyone in my office is off for the weekend except me. It’s going to be super quiet and I’ll have no distractions today. It’ll be a good day to catch up on all the podcasts I’ve been missing out on due to phones and the office being loud.

~It’s not raining anymore! After one day of thunderstorms and another full day of persistent rain, I’m ready to dry out.

~I get to have lunch with my fabulous friend Brea. Her creative muse had a party in her head yesterday, and she’s posted this very cool story on our story blog, Two Be Named, entitled Come Along With Me. Check it out!

~I got to spend extra time reading and writing in the lovely quiet of the morning. Can you hear that? That’s right, no banging of the water heater…just the sound of traffic and my fingers tapping the keys.

Well, now that I’ve reviewed the blessings for morning, I guess I’d better skedaddle off to work. It’s going to be a good day!

There’s a blessing if you dig deep enough to find it…

Start digging!

There are some days where there just isn’t enough coffee to cover the stress, bills, work, kids, home, etc.  Some days there just aren’t enough margaritas either.

Something I’ve learned over time, the hard way, is that it doesn’t pay to wallow in all of the things that cause stress and sleeplessness. Rather, it is less stressful if you look for the blessings where others may over look them.  Once you find a reason to be grateful, everything else becomes a little more tolerable. I know it sounds very pollyanna-ish, but it works. Here are a few examples of the blessings I dug up today:

1. We are expecting severe thunderstorms today. While it’s definitely the last thing we need, rain sure beats the heck out of snow. I hate shoveling snow. At least when it rains, it just runs down the gutters and away from the sidewalks and driveways.

2. It’s bill paying time again, and I despise paying bills. That I have  house and utilities payments means that my kids and I have a place to live, where there is heat, lights and water.

3. My kids eat me out of house and home. They are teenage boys, and if they didn’t eat a lot, there would be something not right. I’m blessed with healthy children.

Well, that’s all for now…I hope that you find as many, and more, blessings in your day.

A Very Sultry Day

Grandma and I used to sit on her front porch watching the traffic go by, chatting about stuff. I remember one particular evening, we were eating New York Vanilla ice cream and cantaloupe (yum!). It was one of those July days when the air is so thick with humidity, that it makes you want to grow gills. Grandma turned to me and said, “It sure is has been a sultry day today”.

At the time I was about 13 and didn’t know exactly what sultry was, but I’ve come to associate it with hot, sticky, July days. Today is one of those days. When I walked out of the house this morning at 7:20am, it was already starting to heat up. When I walked out of work at 5:00pm,  the humidity was so thick, I felt like I was swimming across the parking lot.  I only had about 100 feet to walk from work to the car, but poor Oldest Son walked almost two miles home from work this afternoon. Poor kid!

So, with the hot, humid weather comes the storms, and we’re currently under a severe thunderstorm warning. Holy cow… the Emergency Broadcast System just announced that the Minot Air Force Base is expecting a tornado as we speak. Not a tornado warning, but an actual tornado. I hope it misses them.

Time to batten down the hatches!  [UPDATE: No tornado actually touched down, but a friend of mine that lives at MAFB said they saw lots of swirling in the clouds!]

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!

The garden is in, and an early Fathers Day

The weather was gorgeous today, and so we went out right away this morning to finally put the garden in. Now, most of you are probably thinking to yourself, “shouldn’t the garden have been planted a loooong time ago?” Yes, it should have, but events conspired so that it just wasn’t possible to get the garden in before now.  No biggie. It’s better than no garden at all.

Older son helped me plant, starting with the onions. Younger planted the pumpkins, watermelons and cucumbers earlier, and they made it through the recent prairie hurricane that blew through (thanks for that, Brea. It’s an apt term given all the wind and water that came our way!) . We’re not quite done, though…the herbs and flowers, and two packs of peppers still need to be planted.

Here’s a quick list of what we have so far:

  • onions (Walla Walla)
  • garlic (left over from some a friend gave me from their garden last year. Hopefully they will take root!)
  • six kinds of  hot peppers (Jalapeno, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Anaheim, and I can’t remember exactly the other three at the moment)
  • three kids of tomatoes (Amish Paste, Sweet Cherry and Manitoba)
  • cucumbers
  • watermelon
  • pumpkins

I have more space to dig up, and I want to plant zucchini and spaghetti squash. I know it’s late in the season, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get at least a few squash by the middle of September.

Well,  we are off in a few minutes to go celebrate father’s day early with my Dad, since the kids are going with their father tomorrow. Oh…I forgot about what I got my Dad for Father’s Day…and I got some for myself too! When I was picking up the other vegetables, I ran across some Yellow Husk Ground Cherries. I have heard that they are very delicious and easy to grow.  I’m hoping that the seeds can be saved to make some more next year too! Here click HERE to read more about these interesting plants.

I’d post a picture of the garden, but the yard’s a big mess, and we’re not quite done yet. I’ll post one after we get it all done and cleaned up.

Oh well…off I go to order the pizza and get dressed for the day. It’s going to be a nice day at Mom and Dad’s with the boys.

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