Day 34 – Killing despair at the end of a North Dakota Winter


It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to write, and I am starting to think that it’s because I have so much rambling around in my head that I can’t begin to know how get it out in words. Sometimes there aren’t words to describe exactly what is going on in my head.

Most of my problem lately has been the weather. We’ve been blessed with two or three good warm spells, which have melted much of the snow that was dumped on us at the beginning of the Winter in December. That has been a big help, but Winter just can’t let Spring Owl - Nopego, and I wish he’d just pack it in and go to sleep for the season.

Just recently, we’ve had some awful storms in northern North Dakota and southern Saskatchewan. The amount of snow we got isn’t great in amount, but the winds whipping it around at 60+ mph is the real evil here. Minot didn’t get it so bad, but mostly everyone north of us did, and it’s ugly. People have dug their way out now, but it appears that we are getting more snow cold this week. As my favorite weather app (WTF Weather) tells me today, it’s “snotcicle weather”, with a low of -1, and a projected high of 10 above zero. That’s really not terribly cold, but we have been teased with 40-50 degree temps, which makes it feel cold all of a sudden.

I don’t want to give the false impression that we have been beleaguered by a long nasty winter, because we really haven’t. Our first real accumulation of snow came late in December with a whiz-bang blizzard, and we have been struggling along ever since, but to only have snow and cold from December through March is a gift. I’ve known years where our first blizzard comes in October and Winter keeps us in his grips right through some of April. When Old Man Winter stays around for so long, it gets really demoralizing. If I were to personify Winter, and I often do, I would guess that he likes it that way. Mean old bastard…

Why demoralizing? Well, for one thing, it’s painful. The cold makes your bones hurt, and when the weather changes and storms blow through it can cause throbbing aches which are hard to get rid of. That’s part of my problem now. I’m really done hurting all of the time. I would love nothing more than to just sit in the sunshine, soak the heat into my bones and be ache free. It was not lost on me that I didn’t hurt the whole time I was in Las Vegas, and when I came back to North Dakota the old aches just fell back into place. Wow…going somewhere else can make my knees stop hurting. Hmmm…food for thought.

Spring Sprouts

If you look really close, you can see little sprouts in the middle.

Something else I am keenly aware of is my need to be surrounded by greenery and things that I can nurture and grow.  I believe what happens when you grow things is that you plant a little hope with those seeds, and to watch them grow is very sustaining in times when regular daily life just isn’t. I’ve started some seeds on my kitchen table, and it’s nice to check on it daily to see the growth and change. This will tide me over until I can get outside to plant in my yard.

It is still only the middle of March, so it is not out of bounds to still have cold and stormy weather. However… we are witnessing the death throes of Winter, and the rattle and wheeze of his last days are loud. Underneath all of that complaining racket I can just hear Mother Nature plotting with Spring and Summer in whispers and grins of anticipation. Their time is coming, and the long wait is soon to be over.

Here’s hoping that your weather is just right. If it isn’t, just hold on…better weather is coming. Blessings all!

 

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Counting blessings between the sneezes


The creeping crud: it got me!

Today was supposed to be a day of fun including shopping, and watching of the Superbowl with The Flirt. Two things happened to prevent these activities today; the Superbowl isn’t until next weekend, I now hear, and this morning I woke up sick. Yep…the local cold bug finally caught up to me in spectacular fashion. I will count my blessings that I haven’t had a cold like this in quite a while. Older Son was kind enough to grab me some Puffs with Lotion in them today, and that will save my nose any more misery than it need suffer already. I took a nice hot bath, ate some soup, and cancelled my plans for the day. Time to sit around and just veg.

I was looking at “This Week in Pictures” at MSNBC on-line. There are so many pictures of people enduring terrible hardships, just in the process of getting along in their lives, that it made me feel instantly ashamed that I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself having to skip my plans with The Flirt. It’s one thing to hear about someone else’s situation, but it’s another thing altogether to see it in a picture. I imagine it’s even a different thing altogether to witness it first hand. I encourage you to follow the link above to see just what I am talking about. There are some positive pictures sprinkled throughout this week’s collection, but the tragic ones struck me today, in particular, because I really have nothing to complain about…yet, here I sat wallowing in my own pity party.

Well, enough of that.

It gave me pause to think about all of the things I have to be grateful for today.  The first example I have is this new frozen soup mix I’ve discovered: Bertoli Roasted Chicken & Rotini Pasta. I’ve actually tried all of the different flavors, and they are all tasty, and easy to prepare. I ate two bowls full of this soup today, and it was heavenly. Felt like I’d had a home cooked meal, and I didn’t have to do anything but add water and bring to a boil.

The second thing I’m really grateful for is my trusty tweezers. My Faithful Readers will recall that I discovered several black hairs growing from my poor innocent chin, and I was forced to dispatch them with all haste and vengeance. Apparently one of the little buggers had decided to make another try for it, so I had to mercilessly kill it again. I’m rather violent that way, I’m afraid…bye, bye little vermin!

When I got up this morning, I was alone and it was a little chilly in the house. I turned on the tv, sat down and pulled the afghan up to my chin. Harley curled up on my lap and instantly warmed me up. He sat on my lap keeping me warm as I sat up waiting for Older Son to get off of work last night. He’s growing into his role as Professional Lap Warmer very admirably, which is exactly what I wanted.

It snowed today, but we have precious little snow on the ground already. Last week we had a few days where the temps hit at least 45+ degrees, which is unheard of for January weather. I feel more than a little spoiled, and I know that not having any snow could cause drought this summer, but after all of the water we dealt with last year, I think I won’t complain too much. We still have two months of winter left, and we will most likely have at least a couple more blizzards before the season is done. I’m just grateful that my snow shovels have been gathering dust in recent days.

I have this fabulous new fuzzy blanket, that I bought at the Red Big Box Store. Not only is it soft, but it’s been keeping me very warm at night in my cold bedroom. For some reason, my room is very cold, even though the new windows have done a good job keeping the drafts out, and this new blanket is so very warm. I haven’t slept so well in such a long time.

So there it is…some of the many blessings I have to count for myself on this sneezy day. I hope you can count as many blessings in your life, or more, today.

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.

Bummers are always tempered by blessings…


…that is, if you dig hard enough.

I have had the week off, and had many plans for home improvement and catching up on housework. Generally, I get more done while I am home alone than I do with the boys here. This week, I have been sick for the third week in a row with this blasted head cold that’s been going around. The good news here is that I have had a LOT of sleep, and while I’ve not been productive AT ALL, I will probably heal up all the faster for having  just laid around like a slug. I can tell you that being a slug has helped me catch up with my blogs in the last few days, so there’s a blessing.

As my faithful readers have witnessed, my new kitty, Harley, can be a little bit of a challenge sometimes. This morning, however, he was all about snuggling. I’d forgotten how fabulous it is to hold a purring cat. I’ve really enjoyed how affectionate Harley is between playful and grumpy moods. I was just sitting here reading blogs while holding a loudly purring Harley, and smelled something horrible through the one nostril that’s functioning today. I thought for sure that one of the boys had left dirty socks lying around, but I could find nothing. I even smelled myself and I appear to be fairly clean smelling. I smelled the cat and he didn’t smell bad. I searched around the living room, but couldn’t find any source of the odor. Where the heck was it coming from? I gave up my search for the stink, picked Harley up again and went back to my blog reading.  Pretty soon, there’s the smell again. And then, I realized…Harley appears to have some issues with flatulence. That’s right. Not only is my cat perverted and naughty, but now he gets his jollies by expelling  Silent-But-Deadlies. What’s the blessing here? Apparently, nothing has crawled under my couch and died.  Even so, note to self: Don’t squeeze the cat today.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac gives predictions of what kind of weather we’re supposed to have. The prediction for Region 12-The High Plains, has been right on the money so far this year. For February 19th-28th is says: “Snowy periods, then sunny, cold.”  Sigh. Yep, that’s exactly what we’re experiencing. Today we have -25 with the windchill.  The good news here is that my friend, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, hasn’t lied to me yet. I will take that as a blessing because it tells me that March is supposed to be much milder, and I’m looking forward to that.

The last bummer I have for the day is that I have several boxes I need to go through in my basement. The blessing that tempers this bummer is that most of  that chore is done, and there are only about 10 boxes left. I’m betting that I will be able to throw, sell or give away most of what’s in those boxes, leaving me with very little I need to keep. Most of the items I will keep are things that belonged to my children as infants, and I will pass that on to them when they have their own kids…thereby leaving me with even MORE storage space. Yes!

Finally, the biggest blessing I own right now is the pot of chicken and wild rice soup that bubbling away on my stove top. Time for me to go grab a bowl and let that most delicious steam from the soup unclog my head while I eat it. I hope you all have such a blessed 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?

Right?!

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

 

 

Winter weather blessings come in strange packaging


Yes, that’s right. There are even blessings to be found in the depths of winter. What’s today’s blessing? You’d be surprised.

I heard on the news this morning that the windchill in Winnipeg, Manitoba will be -49 today. You didn’t read that wrong. It’s that cold. Winnipeg is a neighbor of sorts…about a five hour drive from my house. Here it will only be -20 below with the windchill. It’s a small blessing, but a blessing none the less.

Another blessing I ran into yesterday was a fabulously good deal on a sturdy new winter coat. My old coat was starting to resemble Swiss cheese. The pockets were full of holes, and the zipper lost the little tab so trying to get it zipped up was quite a chore. So, now I have a spiffy new coat, and I’ll be warmer for it.

Even better, we are half-way through January. I’m gunning for March, when I can plant the seeds which will be the start to my garden. I’ve been giving some thoughts to starting my herbs in pots that I will just transfer outside. Oh…just thinking about it makes me feel warmer already!

Next you will see posts here about garden plans. Stay warm everyone!

Batten down the hatches, an Alberta Clipper is coming!


What’s an Albert Clipper?

Is it a boat? No. Is it a brand of hair clippers? No. Is it a wind storm that can freeze the flesh off of your bones? Yes, oh yes.

We here in North Dakota have been spoiled rotten with the weather this Autumn. By this time, in a normal year, we should have at least a foot of snow on the ground. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve had only one blizzard, and in the North Central part of the State, it’s all melted away and we are left with bare ground again.

Old Man Winter may not have been able to conjure up lasting snow for us, yet, but word has it that we are going to be having a series of Alberta Clippers sweeping through this week.

According to Wikipedia:

An Alberta clipper (also known as a Canadian Clipper) is a fast-moving low pressure area which generally affects the central provinces of Canada and parts of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the United States.[1] Most clippers occur between December and February, but can also occur occasionally in the month of November. Alberta clippers take their name from Alberta, Canada, the province from which they appear to descend, and from clipper ships of the 19th century, one of the fastest ships of that time.[2]

The storms sweep in at high-speed over whatever land they encounter, usually bringing with them sharp cold fronts and drastically lower temperatures. It is not uncommon for an Alberta clipper to cause temperatures to drop by 30°F (16°C) in as little as 10 to 12 hours. Often, the storms bring biting winds with them, only increasing the effect of the newly lower temperatures. Winds in advance of and during an Alberta clipper are frequently as high as 35 to 45 mph (56 to 72 km/h). These conditions would cause wind chill values to drop into the -20 to -50 Fahrenheit (-30 to -45 Celsius) range[4].

Oh well…the good weather couldn’t have lasted forever. The good news is that they generally don’t bring a lot of snow with them, so there’s something to be grateful for. Time to batten down the hatches and bundle up the children. The wind is going to blow hard and cold. Not the kind of thing you want to get caught outside in.

Something else that’s good news is that Thanksgiving is coming, and it’s an indoor activity!