Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday on the Prairie: Burke County

We are sleeping upstairs in the 100 year old farmhouse with a window beside the bed that faces east. Pink glows just above the trees surrounding the homestead about 6:30 a.m. these days. We both rise early to enjoy the full 15 hours of daylight, knowing that winter will bring us something closer to 15 hours of dark in the not too distant future.

No rest for this wicked couple. G power blasted the house yesterday after which I started scraping the old cedar in readiness for the first primer coat of paint next week.

Hard on the fingernails, but good for the spirit; this contemplation of a lovely new coat of paint. Pictures will follow as soon as at least one wall is finished.

The Canada geese were honking wildly as we arrived at the house on the slough; the ducks continued feeding off the bottom undisturbed by our arrival. I think that soon they will all grow accustomed to us and simply continue with their daily life no matter whether we are here or not very soon.

Yesterday, I discovered a most paisley frog jumping around the tall grass near a wheat field amongst the billions of grass hoppers. Before I climbed back into the ute, I followed his progress for a bit. Absolutely beautiful the way nature provides for itself.

Swainson's hawk has a nest in the copse of trees by the fairgrounds on the road between town and the farmhouse. Each time we pass, he takes flight. I suspect he is a fat old fellow with all the mice and frogs available for his afternoon tea.

Click on the title of this post for some pics of this lovely prairie.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Calling All Artists: Prairie School of the Arts

Damn, one week after we arrive on the prairie, the local bank, better known as the Flaxton Branch of Dakotah Bank, has closed its doors. Now, this door closing had nothing to do with insolvency. The bank has decided that it can no longer pay an employee three hours a day five days a week to keep the office open so that those of us who live in town can stop in for a chat, buy insurance for our cars, crops, homes, and health, deposit the return on our local oil well, or withdraw funds from our savings and checking accounts.

The prairie has been under attack for so long that these mananagement folks have come to believe that closing down any small town is a necessity no matter that this amazing state is in the black, unlike 44 other states in America. Business as usual means rifling small towns to enhance corporate profits.

And for those of us who live in town, all 72 of us, it means travelling 26 miles to cash a check, to ask the bank to dole out our own well earned cash sheparded by the bank in our savings accounts.

I just shook my head, stopped to talk with the bank manager, and decided to jot all my good friends, the artists of the planet, to consider working for a week end some time in the next 36 months at the Prairie School of the Arts, a new venture here in Flaxton designed to increase interest in prairie living, to give the folks who live and love here in the northwest corner of North Dakota a chance to come together to enjoy water colours, photography, quilting, decoupage, barbershop quarteting, Gaelic dancing, massage, weaving, memoir writing, tattoo, tap dancing, etc. etc. etc. with masters of the style.

Of course, the main purpose of convening the Prairie School of the Arts is to show the corporations who live and make decisions in places that are currently so red with ink that they cannot imagine a new enterprise being successful, that they need to keep their investment in small town America where a great many of us love to live.

So, dust off your travelling shoes, put on your sun glasses cause the prairie can be very very bright, and let me know when you would like to come and share your talent with prairie folks who are among the most welcoming on the planet. We'll provide a bed, a week-end full of good meals, a glass of wine or bottle of beer, laughter, imagination, and transportation from the closest airport or train station, and a small stipend to recompense you for your travel time.

You can reach The Prairie School of the Arts right here on this blog. Think about it, jot a note, ask any questions that puzzle you, and know that the first workshop will be mid September right here in Flaxton - The Memoir:writing stories of the harvest.

Keep tuned for further details.

Friday, August 28, 2009

3000 psi Power Water Blaster

Like the heavenly storm wasn't enough, we're about to rent a Power Water Blaster to blow all the old paint off the outside of the prairie house.

Beats sanding! My nails are happy about this decision. Hope the house doesn't much mind.

Went out and bought six gallons of paint thisarvo. Brick red for the trim and manhattan blue for the rest. With our blue roof, it ought to look neat, trim, and liveable.

Got to get with the program before the first snow flies. The house will take a week to dry off after being blasted and that puts us into a mid September application of the primer.

Windows ought to be here in two weeks. Appliances arrive tomorrow.

Computers are already installed - first things first!

So, I'm off on Tuesday next to pick up the rental in Stanley at Hanks Hardware Rentals in Stanley, only 40 miles away on dirt roads! Love the outback of Amerika.

click on the title to see pic of the sexy little beast! :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

LIGHT SHOW - Dakota heavens open wide

I know, I know..I owe lots of you emails and here I am blogging before I jot notes.

We are off this morning to Minot (the big city) to buy new windows for the prairie house, so time on the machine is limited. Thot I might reach you all more quickly this way..will write more laters assuming we are home before I expire tonight. (Minot is 90 miles distant and we're shopping the big warehouse hardware store; it won't be a fast trip)

So, Light Show..no lie, it was a two hour long display of fireworks from the clouds - complete with sound effects to shake me awake. Finally, I roused myself enough to trundle downstairs to turn off the computers to avoid power surges wiping out entire hard drives. Noticed that the window above the living room (lounge) couch (settee) was open - lots of wet - all is dry this morning.

Just thot you might imagine flash bulbs at some grand opening for 'stars' meshing into a light show; multiply the effect by a million and you've got our enviro for the midnight prairie celebration. Charged would be the operative term.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Furnishings - otherwise known as supporting the economy

It has been a delightful two days. On the advice of our friends, the Flaxton locals, G and I headed over to Powers Lake to buy a refrigerator, washer, dryer, and hot water heater at TRY OUR FURNITURE.

Wouldn't you know, even prairie folks don't keep in total contact with the goings on of their neighbors when those neighbors live thirty miles away. Hell, when I lived in the Los Angeles basin, I had no idea who lived 30 miles away. Here folks know ( even if they don't know the precise details).

Instead of appliances, we bought the most comfy fouton sofa and rocking chair I have ever squirmed onto. You'll not believe me (those of you who know me well) that the sofa has canoes, moose, bear, fish, and diamonds all in rows on a maroon and light brown background.

I don't even believe it! But there you are, Andrew, dear Labour Party President, I am in my element complete with flannel shirts and bears on my lounge room furniture! :)

We also bought a lamp table. Ya gotta have a place to put the light!

And why did we fail to purchase the appliances? The store stopped selling electrical appliances five years ago because after 9/11, the department of homeland security upgraded the road crossings between Canada and the USA - one of those crossings is at Portal, a once tiny community eight miles north and west of our home in Flaxton.

The entire prairie community in this part of the state found federal jobs at the border. You just can't beat government jobs - no matter in what hemisphere they exist. A couple of you will support me in this contention, I'm sure.

So, the owners of TRY OUR FURNITURE no longer had time to deliver and install those appliances - cause they were busy making America safe!!

And making a very good living!!!

Therefore, today, we travelled 40 miles in the opposite direction to Sherwood, also very close to the Canadian border(three miles south), but to the east. We bought a new refrigerator with bottom freezer compartment big enough to hold a quarter beef and all the flash frozen veges and ice cream we can stuff in there before the first snow flies, a new electric hot water heater - 50 gallons size( as though we have any idea how we will ever use up 50 gallons of hot water - maybe just soaking to keep warm when the temps reach -40 F.

We also bought a stacked washer/dryer so we can put it upstairs in the kitchen. I'll just turn it on in the early morning of one of those miserably cold mornings and crawl inside after taking a shower with all fifty of our gallons of hot water while my coffee sizzles on our new propane stove top.

So, we are close to becoming householders.

But, first, we have to take a nap. All this spending is tiring :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dakota - Kathleen Norris

Dakota quotes

p.16 I began to see each of us as a treasure bearer, carrying our souls
like a great blessing through the world.

p. 19 but to be a monk means being still and at peace, at home in mind and body and at ease with one's place.

p.23 basic truth of asceticism-it is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person.

p.58 No good deed goes unpunished

p.68 Mary Pellauer. if there's anything worth calling theology, it is listening to people's stories, listening to them and cherishing them.

p.79 The truth, the whole truth, tends to be complex, its contentment's and joys wrestled out of doubt, pain, change.

p.81 People have been writing it the way they wished it had been instead of the way it was.

p.82 We don't tend to see the truth as something that could set us free because it means embracing pain.

p.84 Robert Kroetsch, a writer form the Canadian Plains, suggests that prairie writers can learn to see in "the particulars of place", old photographs, diaries, and the like, archaeological deposits of great value. But in my area more than one family has abandoned such evidence of their past; they've walked away form farmhouses and moved to town,leaving behind not only the oak furniture but old china and handmade quilts, even family photographs. The truth was so painful it literall had to be abandoned.

p. 93 it was search of inheritance, for place.

p. 965 Fundamentalism is about control more than grace, and in effect my grandmother implanted the seed of fundamentalism within me, a shadow in Jungian terms, that has been difficult to overcome.

p. 96 Trust comes before belief and faith is a response to love more than an acceptance of dogma.

p. 97 Sin, in the New Testament, is the failure to do concrete acts of love.

p.98 They saw sin (what they called bad thoughts) as any imp;pulse that leads us away from paying full attention to who and what we are and what we're doing; any thought or act that interferes with our ability to lov God and neighbor.

99. sin is the failure to grow

p.105 given a choice of explanations of phenomena, one should choose the most simple. Ockhams razor

p. 111 I am learning to see loneliness as a seed that, when planted deep enough, can grow into writing that goes back out into the world.

p. 119 book learning and training matters less than one's ability to draw from the well of one's experience, to learn by doing.

p.120 Small town American s like class America. More difficult, too, I would add, then holding to the pleasant but unrealistic ideal of human perfectibility that seem sot permeate much New Age thinking.

p. 121 to love anyway, to love what is dying, in the face of death, an not pretend that tings are other than they are.. .paradox of the contemplative life, that the desert of solitude can be the school where we learn to love others.

p. 122 It is partly that monastic people value the leaven that outsiders can bring: as they're not easily suckered by the all-American myth of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, they're less likely to persist in thing they can stand alone.

p. 127 the one thing that distinguishes a frontier is the precarious nature of the human hold on it.

p. 129. I suspect that when modern American ask "what is sacred?" they are really asking "what place is mine? what community do I belong to?' We are seeking the tribal, anything with strong communal values and traditions. But all too often we're trying to do it on our own, as individuals. That is the tradition of middle-class America; a belief individual accomplishment so strong that it favors exploitation over stewardship, mobility over stability. That we pay a high price of r applying upward mobility to the life of the spirit, denying roots, and turning a blind eye to that which might nurture us in our own heritage has began evident to at least one native american writer.

p. 134 The end f all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. TS. Eliot

p. 141 It is a global world.. to prepare youngsters to operate in that world it is essential to have a "global classroom". reach out via internet.

p. 145 to value change that is not sudden or ill-considered bu grows out of the ground of experience.

p. 152 Being continually open to change, to conversion, is a benedictine ideal.

p. 153. We have time on our hands here, in our hearts, and it makes us strange. It is easy to 'demonstrate that there are no more minutes in all of eternity than there are in say, one minute"

p. 158 put it down to ecstasy

p. 159 When you come to a place where you have to go left or right, says Sister Ruth go straight ahead.

p. 168 A people that has lost its traditions is doomed. Ole Rolvaag.... what are my traditions?

p, 170 But these places demand that you give up any notion of dominance or control. In these places you wait, and the places mold you. Ghost doesn't exist n some cultures, he said, adding dismissively, they think time exists.

p. 171 telling a poet not to look of connections is
like telling a farmer not to look at the rain gauge after a storm.... connections.. what else
matters?

p. 172 the power of words to continually astonish and invigorate us day by day remind yourself that you are going to die recalling our mortality can be healthy realism in an age when we spend so much time, energy,a nd money denying death.

p. 182 If a man settles ina certain place and does not bring forth the fruit of that place, the place itself casts him out.. .the reasons to volunteer

p. 185 community in the classroom.. listen together.. for.. minutes?

p. 186 If I live my faith is it hot a greater teaching than if I proselytize/

p. 197 it calls a monk not to refuse to look at the world bu to discover God at work in it.
true hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person.

p. 198 it is in this sense that monastic hospitality has made me feel part of a vast giveaway, to use a native American term.

p. 2003 but we need to be disillusioned. We need to lose our false selves. can redefine success an an internal process rather than an outward display of wealth and power

p. 210 one important element of play involves mimicking, and sometimes mocking the things that grownups or superiors do....

p. 213 lack of proportion always corrupts

p. 214 they also begin to understand the depths o joy and how little it has to do with what the world calls happiness.

we are all beginners.

p. last...... .you have only to let the place happen to you!

The morning of the first day!

Ah, woke to raptors hunting in the back paddock. Woke to morning coffee and laughter from our hostess in the kitchen. Woke to friends conversation over porridge and toast.

It's good to be back to the simple pleasures. I know you all think that North Dakota is somehow less complex than other spots on the map, but let me assure you that the colours, the skies, and even the folks who choose to live this rural lifestyle are just as complex, just as hot tempered, loving, and high on life as those of you in more urban environs.

So eat your hearts out, folks. Cause life here on the prairie so far..about five waking hours..is superb...and PODster..yes, we intend to be here in the winter where yes, we can see the horizon five miles distant. The first time I came here, dear friend, I cried several times a day at the beauty and clarity of this place.

Look up flights to Minot. We'll meet you at the airport.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Home again, Home again, jiggedy jig

Greetings from the prairie!

We are home - the blue roofed prairie house is well and kind of smelly after being closed up for 9 months. The slough is full of water and reeds, canada geese, and all manner of ducks.

Weather is perfect, the prairie is bronze and golden and full of sunflowers. The horizon is forever away - well at least five miles in any direction.

The Aussie still has a voice bouncing around the lower octaves and we had chili for dinner after which we walked through the mown fields.

Being home is pleasure - now to winterize!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Miles City, Montana

Well, here we are, about 300 miles from home, tomorrow maybe. Seems the Aussie bloke caught a cold from me. Now, he has never been a very cooperative patient, and on the road, less than ever. (Natch, I'm entirely cured - it always works that way).

So we pulled over at the first city with more than 500 residents, found a nicer than usual motel and bundled him under the covers for a long afternoon nap.

I went shopping for lunch. Our fav. sandwich shop is empty - exists no longer - so I headed for Safeway to pick up some luncheon meats to fill the sick Aussie's tummy. As you might imagine, my imagination did not coincide with his appetite. Seems he wants a piza later this evening. Piza with snotty sinus? You've got to be joking.

Unfortunately, he's not. So I'll be off in a bit to see what I can find to satisfy his appetite.

In the meantime, I jot you all this note while sipping on an Odwalla carrot juice and he softly snores in the background.

Hopefully tomorrow his mood will have improved and we can head out of Montana and onto the real prairie.

Catch you laters...love..

Friday, August 14, 2009

Airplanes fly to North Dakota

Come, sweet Podster..do come..love you all..must go..espresso parlour is closing it's doors for the night.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wilderness Wedding

Okd..done deal..sunny Sunday..20 adults and 5 kidlettes walk the mile to Wedding rock at 2 pm surrounded by seven Sienna flags - extra-ordinary colour to offset the Ponderosa and White Pine needles..a huge rock to climb...pictures to follow..the best of days..except for one..the first wedding promise in Brisvegas.

And the treatment at the end..clogged plumbing - no metaphor - sink and toilet and shower backed up. the goddess refuses to let us rest on our laurals.

So we are settling into the mountain for another couple of days while we locate the leech fields...you all know how I hate leeches!! :)

Then we head for the prairie house.

love you..love Graham...love my famly..love our friends...will write more laters..

hugs

Saturday, August 01, 2009

100 degrees in the Valley; Afternoon showers in our Sierra canyon

Yep, it's been warm in the Owens Valley of eastern California, only 100 miles from Death Valley. Yet we trek down the mountain 3000 feet in order to get our expresso and greet you all on line.

Yesterday, the rains fell at 3 pm as they have all but two days of our visit to Whitney Portal.

Thankfully, temps dropped and sleep snuck up on both of us; nap time! Only then I couldn't sleep last night. 3 a.m. and I was solving soduku puzzles with a flashlight until the mountain winds made me check outside to be sure the jr. black bear who uses our back terrace as a highway to the campground where goodies await hadn't stopped to check out our car. Oh, there are pics of what any little ole black bear can do to a vehicle...yikes!!

Hopefully, rain showers will come later on 9 August when we trek the mile to Wedding Rock to have a wilderness wedding scene with 18 of our good friends.

love you all..bye for now