The death knell of summer

Last week, I noticed someone’s tree on the north side of town had started to turn yellow. Today, I see my plum tree leaves are starting to turn.

Yes, it’s only one leaf, but it is the beginning of Autumn creeping in.

So, I feel like a bit of a whiner, but I’m not ready to be done with Summer yet. I have to keep reminding myself that we will still have a couple months of good weather, and there’s no reason to panic.

I also need to remember to be grateful that it’s been such a good Summer, where last year’s wasn’t.

I also need to be mindful to make hay while the sun shines. So many projects to do outside, and so many fun things I want to do before winter comes.

Here’s wishing you all a great finish to your Summer. Don’t forget to squeeze out every drop of fun you can before Winter comes. Blessings all!

Spring rituals

This morning I had some time to putter outside in my yard, which was lovely. I’d have not come inside except that I have to go somewhere this afternoon and need to get cleaned up.

I realized today that we are now into June by two days, and it’s time to put my snow shovels away until Winter comes back around. It sounds strange but, living in North Dakota, I know that snow is possible late into Spring. I use June 1st as my safe date to put winter things away.

Is it superstitious? You bet. Do I feel embarrassed about it? Not one bit. This little Spring ritual works for me.

Speaking of Spring rituals, lilacs are blooming. Oh joy!

I love the smell of blooming lilacs, and am so glad I remembered to cut some and bring them in the house. I was almost too late, but they should last a few more days, and that makes me so happy. ❤️

Here’s hoping you all have little rituals that help you mark the seasons, and bring you much joy. Blessings all!

Day 33 – Seasonal shifts

Today, The Flirt brought over the ice house to store for the season. He went ice fishing with his nephew yesterday and had some success, but it is getting too warm out to be on the ice much longer. Soon we will have to renew our fishing licenses and get our summer poles ready for the new season. Yay!

I am so ready for the new fishing season. Why? Because with that comes warm weather.

Lake Sakakawea from a pontoon last Summer

I’m ready for the good warm weather, and gardening, and fishing in the sunshine. I’m ready for warm breezes and thunderstorms. I’m ready to have weather that requires neither the furnace nor the air conditioner to be on at all.


Today, I planted some herbs and eagerly await their little green sprouts to appear. I do have one regular house plant, but it’s kind of static. It doesn’t change much, and is a little underwhelming when it comes to the kind of growth and change I am looking for.

I love when the seasons change, but I am always looking forward to the change of seasons, but Spring and Autumn are my favorites. These seasons seem to drip with the magic of Mother Nature, and the beautiful transformations that go along with that.

Right now, I am so grateful to have a day in early March which is so beautiful I can shut off my furnace and have all of my windows open. It’s a whopping 39 degrees here today, the sun is out, and there’s just a little breeze. Lovely!

Here in North Dakota we have to take advantage of these nice days. There’s a saying here: If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes and it will change. That’s the truth. Old Man Winter (who can go suck rotten eggs) isn’t done with us yet. Tonight, we can expect, “…a wintry mix followed by accumulating snow and blowing snow possible across western and central North Dakota, Sunday night through Tuesday…strong northwest winds with gusts of between 50 and 60 mph are also possible Monday… 3-5 inches are possible…”. The good news is that it doesn’t look like it’s going to get below zero. There’s always a silver lining!

Here’s hoping you have lovely weather where you are, and that your Sunday is slow and peaceful. Blessings all!




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.

Old Man Winter isn’t done with us yet

We were spoiled for a while, having temperatures in the 40’s for over a week. The snow melted some, and the roads were cleared off. It was glorious to walk outside with the sun on our faces and feel like Spring was just around the corner.

And then, not.

I should have known better. It didn’t quite smell like Spring, even though it looked like it.

Yesterday Old Man Winter woke from his nap and realized he’d been falling down on the job. Now the cold is back and storms are all around us. Luckily we haven’t had it too bad where I live, but others are getting pounded. Here is where I find my blessing for today…I don’t have to dig out to go to work today.

In North Dakota, we essentially have two seasons: Winter and Construction. When the weather is warm enough, people are building and fixing things. With our booming economy, they are still building even though the weather is so cold. I hope someone gives the construction workers the day off today. Wind chills of -20 and lower would seem to warrant a day off from outside work, right?


Here’s to hoping that Old Man Winter gets sleepy again soon and forgets that he has things to do…!



Green Schools – The possibilities are endless

Before you read the rest of this post, make sure to watch this video. It will blow you away:

OK. Now that you’ve seen this video about this most amazing school, doesn’t it make you want to visit Bali? I would love to see this school up close and personal. I would love it even more if the administrators of the schools that my children go to would latch on to this idea and run with it.

My eleven faithful readers who know that I hail from smack in the middle of the High Plains are probably thinking to themselves, “But Sparrow…you live on the High Plains, where there’s snow and bitter cold most of the year! How could you possibly build such a fabulous, amazing, wondrous school such as the Green School in Bali?” Well, the reality of it is that open air bamboo classrooms aren’t going to be a reality here in North Dakota. However, schools can be built using recycled materials and Green concepts that are adapted, or unique, to each season we experience here (yes, we have more than one season:  Winter and Road Construction!)

The thing that intrigues me the most is that the children in the video are given the opportunity to not just go to school, but experience life and really get to understand how everything is connected in their world. They get practical experience for living in their local environment by participating in helping to grow and harvest the food they eat, and I could go an and on, but you get the picture from the video.

Here in the Great White North, schools are dictated by a cookie cutter mentality. If a kid learns differently, they are disabled. Done. End of Story. Do not pass go or collect $200, and for God’s sake, see your physician and get your kid medicated. Both of my children were late bloomers, but they were labeled as learning disabled at a young age, because they didn’t fit the cookie cutter mold that 80% of students slide right into. The teachers insisted that we get our kids on medication to “make it easier for them to learn”. They even talked us into taking Oldest son to a specialist when he was in the 3rd Grade to get him diagnosed, so he would be easier to treat and teach. When the specialist was done testing him, she told us, “he could have ADD, or he could have high-functioning Aspergers…we just can’t tell. That will be $400.00, thank you! Next…”. Meanwhile, the physician we’d been recommended to take him to had him taking Welbutrin, which never worked. None of the other medications we tried worked either.

Soon after that, Older Son cornered me in a quiet moment and asked me if he was mentally ill. By this time Younger Son had hit first grade, and his teacher had insisted that he needed to be medicated too. The Ritalin the doctor had him on caused his behavior to hit the skids. I was at my wit’s end, and that’s when I grew a backbone. My kids weren’t sick, they weren’t broken, or damaged. They were just different.

At first I thought the teachers and administrators must know best because they are the professionals, right? Let me tell you what complete and utter B.S. that is. When I finally got it, when I finally really understood what a racket the schools and pediatricians have going on up here with the whole medicated child idea, I was heartbroken for having gone along with it, and for having medicated my kids, when they just needed extra help in reading and math. They needed a school environment that kept them interested and engaged, rather than sitting in a box all day trying to pay attention to dry subjects that don’t have any real meaning for them because their hands aren’t engaged along with their heads.

When I pushed back and fought against drugging my kids, the teachers weren’t happy. In fact, they if weren’t openly angry about it, they treated me as though I was being a neglectful parent by not drugging my kids. I’d like to speak to those teachers who said my kids wouldn’t make it without drugs. Both are doing well. Not only is Older Son doing very well in school, but he also holds a part-time job. Younger Son, who, as far as his Fourth Grade Monster (ahem, teacher) was concerned wouldn’t ever do well or be much of a reader, manages some how to get on the honor roll every freaking quarter. Success with no drugs…I’d very much like them to stick that in their pipes and smoke it, and smoke it hard.

But, I’ve digressed. As you can tell, education of our youth is something I’m pretty passionate about, given my experiences as a parent. And as a child, too. I didn’t do well in the cookie cutter environment either, but back then there wasn’t the idea of medicating your kid if he or she didn’t fit the mold.

Having said all that,  I think Green can have more meanings that just the materials you use to create a dwelling or how you treat your environment. I think Green means fresh thinking. I think it means thinking out of the box. I think it means teaching children how to be live successfully in their local environments by integrating topics across classes. I think it means constructing the idea of schools being more sustainable on their own, and teaching the kids about living sustainably.

Most importantly, kids need to move. Keeping a kid captive in a chair for most of a day without much in the way of making what little movement time they get relevant to what they’re learning is not good. Memory is made stronger when your body is engaged with what you’re hearing and talking about, so what’s being taught will be that much easier to remember and integrate into their daily lives. Teach practical topics along with the three R’s so that it’s all one integrated, meaningful stream of knowledge. Meaningful, I think, is the operative word here. Parental and community involvement is also key. It really does take a village to raise a child. If one leg of the Parent-Community-School triad is busted, it just makes it that much harder for the kids to grow up whole and become ready to face the world as adults.

I think schools in harsh climates have a tougher job, and I see strides toward integrative teaching methods, but there’s more work to be done. I know it isn’t easy, and it’s simple of me to sit here and blog my heart out about it, but I truly think it’s something that can be done.  If you found the video interesting, there is more where that came from. Double click on the video and that should take you to you tube. John and Cynthia Hardy have some really good ideas about education, and I hope it catches on across the world like a prairie fire. It’s not just the structure that houses the school that’s impressive, but what goes on inside.

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