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.

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How Old Man Winter got Jack Frost grounded


It was a dark and stormy night last night.  You might think that we had a thunderstorm, being as it was the last day in April, but no. Yesterday we had a blizzard. It was a no hold’s barred, wind howling, snow flying, North Dakota Blizzard. There are still towns West and North of us that have no electricity due to the wind and ice damage to the electric poles and lines.

This is what I saw outside my back door last night:

I’ve stated before in previous posts that I felt that Old Man Winter has had all the fun he’s entitled to, and should be fired for taking too many liberties with his share of the year. I have to wonder what’s going on in Mother Nature’s realm that our weather has been so out of whack? Let’s take a peek into their world, shall we?

Mother Nature: “Jack! Could you come here for a minute please?”

Jack Frost: “Yes, Mother?”

Mother Nature (one eye brow raised, arms crossed): “Jack, what have I told you about playing with blizzards?”

Jack Frost (Sighs heavily): “You said not to because it causes imbalances in weather all over the world, not just in the area where the storm happens.”

Mother Nature (Other eyebrow raises): “And…?”

Jack Frost (Hangs head, one toe pushes around some lint on the carpet, mumbling):  “And, too much of one kind of weather over and over again wreaks havoc with the humans in that area and makes them suffer needlessly.”

Mother Nature (Hands on hips): “That’s right, you know better. So what gives? What’s your excuse for abusing our humans like that? For crying out loud, Jack, it’s April 30th! Not only are you messing with them, but now my time-table has to be pushed back.  How are people supposed to get out and celebrate Me with picnics and May Pole dancing tomorrow when they are knee-deep in snow drifts?! Not only that, but because the Winter Season has been unnaturally extended, the tornadoes got angry for being cooped up and went on a screaming rampage across the Southern States, en masse. What a MESS! Just what have you got to say for yourself?!”

Jack Frost (Frowning, and stomping a foot. Whines.):  “Well, Old Man Winter said the humans are there for us to play with. He was showing me how they scramble like ants when storms come. He says you spoil them and they need some toughening up!”

Mother Nature (Steam now rolling out of her ears): “Oh really? Jack, when I agreed to let you job shadow with Old Man Winter, it was only as long as you promised not to pick up his bad habits. He has a tendency to play with the humans as though they were expendable, and I’ve raised you to know better than that. (Shouting into the Ether) WINTER! Show yourself… You have some explaining to do!”

Old Man Winter (Pops into the room amidst a cloud of snowflakes): “What!? Why are you screaming at me during my lunch hour? Don’t you know that Days of our Lives is on, and it’s a big cliff-hanger this week. Marlena’s discovered she has another personality, and Roman was just about to find out when you started shouting…what’s so important it couldn’t wait?”

Mother Nature (takes a deep, cleansing breath): “Never mind the soap operas, I caught Jack playing with your Blizzards again. I distinctly remember telling you that he wasn’t allowed to play with your weather, he was just there to job shadow.  Speaking of which, your Season is far over extended. Why aren’t you paying attention to the time-table I sent you at the beginning of the year?”

Old Man Winter (Frowns and stomps his foot): “I’m tired of having to put my Season to bed for months on end. It’s so boring having to wait for all of the other Seasons to get out of the way so I can get back to business! Young Jack shows promise…he could be a big help to me in the event I want to take a vacation next year. Besides, you’re too soft on those humans…they need to toughen up.”

Mother Nature (Exasperated eye roll, heavy sigh. Her spine stiffens): “Ok, that’s it. I’ve had it! Jack, I think you’ve had enough job shadowing with Winter. For the next several decades, you will be helping me get things going in the Spring, and then you will understand why over extension of one Season into another causes problems for everyone. And, you’re grounded until you learn to respect ALL of my creatures, especially humans.”

Jack Frost (pouting fiercely): Aw, MOM!

Mother Nature (Sternly Shakes her finger): Don’t you give me any lip, young man.  As for you Winter, you’re done. Your Season’s over. Box up your weather for the next three Seasons and get ready for a nice loooong nap. You’ll be lucky if I allow you to let your weather out again before January next year.

Old Man Winter (Eyes glow stormily. Bushy white eyebrows rise up on his forehead): You can’t tell me what to do! I’m WINTER, and I’m not done…I have plans! You just watch, I’m gonna… (Mother Nature, lazily waves her hand in his direction)…ZZZZZZZ.”

Mother Nature (tiredly): Alright Jack, while I tuck Winter in for the next three Seasons, you get off to your room and don’t come out until breakfast tomorrow. We have a busy day ahead of us, and we’ll start out with how to make enough Sunshine to melt all that snow you threw down yesterday. Sheesh…what a disaster. I need a margarita!

So, today, apparently young Jack did get some schooling on how to make the Sun shine enough to melt snow. Below is the picture I took from my back door this afternoon. May Day actually turned out to be kind of nice after all. And, I spent it celebrating with friends. We didn’t get to have a picnic or dance around a May Pole, but it was just as great as if we did.

Something to look forward to


I was just sitting here thinking about the fact that I forgot to plug my van in overnight. That could be bad since, with windchill factored in, it was at least -20 last night. Oh well. It usually starts pretty well, and I’ve got high hopes that it will be ok this morning. I’ll just have to leave it running for a good long time before we leave for work and school today.

As I was thinking about that, I began to think about all the other extra stuff you have to do to survive when winter comes and I was appalled at what it entails. Luckily enough, there are blessings to be found everywhere:

1. Everyone needs a whole extra suit of cold weather gear, head to toe. Most years you just use what you had last year, but it must be maintained and items replaced as they wear out…kind of like a soft suit of armor. (Thank goodness I was able to afford to get the boys new jackets this year.)

2. You must plug your vehicle in when it gets cold, otherwise it may not start, and it requires a special heavy-duty extension cord that can withstand low temperatures. (The good news is that these are pretty cheaply found at The Big Box Store.)

3. Your vehicle must be winterized: make sure the engine is in good running order, change out bad wiper blades, and remember to stow away your blankets and winter survival kit. (Thank goodness we can make our vehicles go in the cold. I can’t imagine being cooped up all winter without being able to get anywhere.)

4. A specialized shovel is required to be able to move large amounts of snow out of the way. In many cases, people hurl the snow out of the way with snow blowers. (In my case, I am fortunate to have teenage boys to hurl my snow for me!)

5. Homes must be winterized. Special attention needs to be paid to windows, doors, and any other spots that may leak cold air inside. Any leaks must be caulked up, and if the window is old, it’s a good idea to cover the whole thing with plastic. (I’m so happy that I won’t have to put plastic on the windows this year…I’m getting them replaced!)

6. All travel plans made during the winter are tentative, subject to the weather. A good example is the storm that beginning to blow through the whole Northern region, preventing my brother and his family from traveling to my house for Thanksgiving. Curse you, Old Man Winter. (At least they will be safe and warm, and they have his wife’s family close by)

While there are many ways to feel blessed in the winter time, there is also something to look forward to: Spring!

It’s always such a relief to shuck the winter jackets, put away the shovels, and stow the sweaters. It’s such a blessing to step out of the house and feel the sun shine on more of your skin than the little bit of your face that isn’t covered up with a scarf. Just four more months!

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.

A nice Sunday for all


Today was a very nice Sunday. The weather was very pleasant, if windy, and I was able to open the windows and get some nice fresh air in here. I cleaned up a little, did some laundry, then washed my bathroom rugs and hung them outside to dry.

The boys were supposed to go with their dad today, but they ended up canceling that because he bummed his leg up. So, Older son went to a movie with a friend, and Younger Son and I went plant shopping. After doing some shopping around to see what is available here, we had supper at the Chinese place, and then made the actual purchases.  What we ended up bringing home were a Schubert’s Choke Cherry and two Nanking cherry bushes.

The new additions planted between the shed and the house

In the picture, you can see the whole of my back yard and straight through to Southern and Eastern Neighbors’ yards. I was standing in Western Neighbor’s yard while taking the picture.  The little shrubs I bought should be a good 4-5 feet tall by the end of the season. I don’t expect to get any fruit this year, but it’s a start!

Younger son and I spent a nice few hours in the back yard planting the new shrubs and doing other small odd jobs. I was lucky to run into Western Neighbor and asked him if he minded if I replaced the small piece of fencing (just barely visible to the right of the shed) with some new fencing, which would require cleaning out some of the unruly lilacs (I’ll miss them!) toward the back of his property. He gave his blessings, and we had a nice chat. I don’t get to see him very often, but he’s a nice guy. The fence will run from the front of the Western side of the house all the way around the back end of the property and wrap up to the back door. It will make a nice grape arbor!

Now that Older Son is back from the movie and Younger is back from walking to the local Loaf & Jug, I guess I ought to get back to work and get some stuff done before tomorrow.

Lilacs…just the beginning.


I love lilacs, and am very lucky to have a neighbor with an exceptionally large lilac bush that leans over our shared property line. Most years I get too busy and forget to go clip some, bring them in and put them in a vase, but I got lucky this year. Here’s a picture of my morning haul:

Lilacs half bloomed on May 23rd 2010

I absolutely adore lilacs, but I am allergic to them. For some reason their intoxicating smell keeps me coming back…good thing I don’t suffer anything more than a runny nose as a result of sniffing them with gusto!

Calendula
Calendula

Looking at this lovely bunch of flowers makes me realize that I don’t just want a garden that produces food. I really do want flowers above and beyond those that I will plant just because they perform pest control on the garden (nasturtiums, marigolds/calendula, sunflowers etc.).

Nasturtium
Sunflower

So, what do I want to plant? Good question…

I love lots of flowers, so I think I will have to make sure to pack in a lot, especially in my front yard. Most of them will have to be perennial and I’ll have to plant them in clumps of different varieties that will bloom progressively over the spring summer and fall.  Hm…gives me much plant food for thought, but I do know that some I must have are tulips, irises and lilies. That probably takes care of the spring group right there.

For mid summer flowers, I’ll plant more columbine for sure, but I’m not certain what else I want, but perhaps some peonies? Late summer/fall flowers are going to be mums for sure. I love mums. Roses…Hm…lots of varieties to pic from there!

The beauty of not knowing exactly what I want is that my little gardens will be works of art in progress!

The rain has arrived!


I love it when the snow finally melts. Not only is it just nice to get rid of it, but it goes a long way to curing the claustrophobia I get from being hemmed in by large snow drifts for months on end. The roads in town no longer have the feel of driving through canyons, and you have clear line of sight around turns that you don’t have when the snow piles up.

The only bad thing about the snow melting is that everything looks so dirty underneath. The big cure for that is a good rain to clean everything up, and we finally got that!

I woke up last night about 2:30 because of flashing lights in my window, followed closely by some thunder off in the distance. This one was pretty mild, at least in my area, but it was appreciated none the less. The grass has already been growing, but now that we’ve had some rain, everything will green up nice.  I really love the transformation of the vegetation from slumbering brown to vibrant green. It lights up the whole valley and makes everything fresh and alive again.

I love a good thunderstorm…where the thunder shakes the house, the rain pours down in sheets and the lightning is so bright it lights up the inside of the building. There’s something so very primal about the whole thing. However, as much as I love thunderstorms, I am hoping that we don’t get any really good ones until after I get my new roof.  I spoke to the roofing guy yesterday and he said that it could be as soon as the middle of May…Yay! More about the home improvement stuff in a coming post…with pictures!

Sunshine on my son’s belly


Just now, Younger Son came in from outside and said, “Hey Mom, feel this”, as he’s holding out the belly of his shirt to me. So, I pressed my hand to his belly and his shirt was hot. Not warm…hot. He’d been outside for the last fifteen minutes or so in a black t-shirt and hoodie, and had soaked up a bunch of sunshine. Gods bless him for bringing it inside to share with me.

Perhaps I’m being maudlin, as has been the case my whole life, but it makes me a little sad that Younger is going to be 15 on the 21st of this month…my 6 foot tall baby. He and Older Son (aged 17) are both still in the strange limbo that is the stretch between childhood and manhood, and they seem to display a little of both on a daily basis. I seem to have come to a point in my life where I am agonizing over their loss already. Soon they will move away either for school, military, or whatever life endeavor they choose and I will be alone in this little bitty house that seems so cramped right now. When they are gone this little house will feel like an empty mansion.

The strange thing about already mourning them not being here is that I find I’m also making plans for me and the house when they are gone. What the heck?! How can I feel sad about having an empty nest and at the same time feel a little bit excited? I’ll just tamp that down a bit and examine it at a later time. It feels a little too traitorous and strange to really take that out and unpack it just yet. For the time being, I think I will just make a better effort to revel in their presence now, and not borrow sadness from the future. Even though it’s creeping in at the edges, it’s kind of pointless to wallow in something that hasn’t happened yet.

Younger has been chomping at the bit to plant his watermelons and pumpkins, even though it’s too early to plant outside in North Dakota. So, off to Menards we go today to get some plastic wrap and PVC to make a small green house. Time to take advantage of the nice day and spend some quality time with the kids rather than worrying about what things will be like when they’re gone away living their own lives.

A good Spring rain does the soul good…


Today is Easter Friday and it’s raining outside. So many people I know are moaning about the rain (which could change to snow tonight), but I am grateful for it. After the long winter, it takes a good rain to wash everything off and freshen things up.  In fact, I would like nothing better than for a great big thunder storm to come through and thoroughly wash everything clean.

My Aunty Beth, one my favorite relatives of all, used to say that the weather you got on Easter Sunday is the same weather you would get for seven Sundays afterward. I know it’s just a wives tale, but I’ve kept track over the years, and more often than not it’s accurate. I’m sure it’s just a cyclical thing like all is with weather, but I find it interesting anyway.

Speaking of cyclical things, this is the only time of year that I am truly grateful for the changing of the seasons. I love watching plants and trees wake up and turn green after a long cold winter. I love to start seeds for my garden on my kitchen table, and keep track of their progress until it gets warm enough to put them outside. I love to watch the water run as the snow drifts melt down to nothing. I love to walk outside barefoot and feel the Earth warm under my toes. Just about the only thing I don’t like about Spring is mud…damned stuff gets everywhere in the house no matter how careful you are, but it’s a small price to pay.

Today when I woke up to the rain pattering against my bedroom window, I heaved a big sigh of relief. Winter isn’t necessarily done with us, but it’s certainly on its way out. Now it’s time to plan my landscaping and my vegetable gardens. Now it’s time to make plans to have windows and doors replaced and possibly even the roof. It’s time for renewal and revitalization…and not just for my house and yard, but for me as well. The best thing of all that Spring brings is hope and new possibilities.

I think it’s fitting that Easter is in the Spring. While I have not been a Christian for a very long time, it’s still a holiday I celebrate. Not because it’s the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, but because it is a resurrection of everything up here in the cold Northern Plains. Even though I was raised a Lutheran, we never really did celebrate Easter (or any other holiday, for that matter) religiously. Easter was always a really good reason to get together with family, eat good homemade food, and have a good time. Sometimes it was very much like a mini family reunion, as we’d get to see family or friends who we hadn’t seen for a while. Today my parents are coming over for supper, and it will just be the five of us since my brother and his family couldn’t make it. It will still be a good time, and we’ll eat good homemade food, and reminisce about past Easters and the people who made them special.  I sure wish I’d made time to make some lefse…

I hope this posting finds any who read it well and having a nice Spring weekend, whether you celebrate Easter or no.

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