Monday, September 28, 2009

Volunteer Sunflowers

These brilliant blooms found their way out of the ploughed and planted acres to spring forth on virgin soil. On the vacant lot beside my new little prairie house myriad blossoms delighted us in the early morning when we first arrived in Flaxton.

This year when I unpacked the cupboards I had carefully filled with the useful debris of our raccoon inhabited house last September, I found the perfect vase for some of those beauties. Off I hiked, clippers in hand, into the thistle protected bevy of yellow. After several stinging nettle bites, I exited with a bouquet to brighten the lounge room.

Like all wild things, being encapsulated in a foreign environment minus the fertile soil of North Dakota wrapped around roots, the blossoms faded, petals littered the counter top upon which the lovely vase sat. Yellow pollen scattered over the red doily, a reminder that wild things ought to be left in the wild.

One wonders if the same will happen to the Aussie and me. Are we wild things raised in an environment far different from the prairie?

Will our wit and energy survive in the cold, dark winter days on the northern prairie?

Yesterday was our first cold, rainy day this year. During a well- deserved day off, we travelled to Estevan in Canada for Vietnamese. Coincidently, in the midst of our curry, we noticed a Flaxton local arrive for his rainy day break as well. This kindly and welcoming native raises cattle and so cannot flee the cold, dark months on the prairie as do so many of his neighbours.

His warning to us about what we could expect during the first three months of winter along the Canadian border was that only eight hours of daylight darkened his mood and created irritability. He cheerfully forewarned that there were environmental ordeals with which we would have to deal.

Hopefully we will not fade and litter the counter-tops with vile moods and dark foreboding.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Survey Monkey - Wanna take a survey about memoirs?

One more publisher in Australia is considering 'Two in the Bush', the memoir Lorraine and I wrote about travelling to Australia to meet and greet a couple of Aussie blokes.

That statement means, of course, that one more publisher in Oz has decided that we write well, but that they don't think our manuscript is worth the gamble.

I am biased, of course; I think it's a pretty good read. However, we need to convince an American agent or publisher that it's worth the risk. Costs bucks to publish a book.

So, in an attempt to gather information, I have used Survey Monkey to ask a few questions about who might be apt to purchase a book like ours.

If you are willing to help me out, click below to go to the survey.

Thank you in advance for taking a few moments to answer my seven questions.

Click Here to take survey

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blue roof - Red trim - Grey surfeit

Hump day! Actually the concept no longer has much meaning - no 9-5 job about which to complain. Only mossies after 4 p.m.

We will sleep tonight with our newly installed window open! Lovely - means we'll certainly hear the 2:30 a.m. train wail as it flashes through town. The honking Canadian geese chatter all night on Stony Run. We'll hear them, too, which is important for they will soon be V - ing south to warmer climes.

The north side of the house is painted - both coats with a startling red trim lined in by the Aussie bloke who has a much steadier hand than I. Will take pics tomorrow and include in the blog notes. The kitchen window still needs to be lined in. And then it will be perfect. Have to admit that the final five boards were painted with my right hand while my left was wildly waving mossies away - not sure just how well those chamfers are painted. Will check them in the morning.

Life is good! Both of us feel accomplished! Wise to have a project to which we can both contribute.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rainy day - Harvest finished at midnight

Rainy morning: Rushed over to Bowbells to put advert for Harvesting Memories in the Burke County Tribune. Nothing like driving on a two lane prairie highway in the rain with massive double oil tankers coming in the opposite direction. The second it takes for their road mist to pass my windshield feels more like ten minute. Steer straight!

A rain forecast on the prarie this time of year is impetus to hard work. For us here in town, it means paint, paint, paint. Get the wall covered with the second coat before the weather arrives.

However, it is my neighbor and benefactor, Chris, for whom it means more. As he rounded the garage to see how my painting was going on Sunday morning, he proclaimed, 'Yep, worked til midnight last night. Finished the harvest at Sorenson's. The others worked another hour, but without me. I was ready to collapse. Gonna finish my laundry and spend the rest of the day watchin' football.'

'Well, Chris, You deserve a day of rest, hope your team wins,' I commented as he headed to put clothes in the dryer.'

'Doesn't matter who wins; I'm just going to relax.'

I reached back into the bucket with my 4inch paint brush and shifted to a lower spot on the chamfers to tuck paint into the grooves made by the electric sander. Weather won't get that spot, thought I. 4:30, I washed the brush, grabbed my digital and took two photos of the finished work. Not a bad day's work whispered my right shoulder, looking forward to the rain and a day of rest of its own.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paint sandwich - prairie echinacea filling

Picture today is of a prairie sunflower. They don't look this way anymore!

To everything there is a season - and sunflowers are an everything! The fields no longer glow - acres and acres of lovely blossoms bow their heads waiting for the harvest - the guillotine combining multiple seeds into the hopper and on to grain bins awaiting the right price in Chicago.

In the meantime, autumn advances - I know that summer does not officially end in the northern hemisphere for another two days and the heat seems summery here in nordacotah. However, snow is on the psychic horizon - just waiting for the unprepared.

So, Thursday and Saturday, I painted the east outside wall of the house..pics soon when I have before and after to share. The primer is completly applied. Tomorrow is 'grey' unless it rains. Then the wicked rest - me.

Cause yesterday, I travelled to Lund's Landing on Lake Sacajawea for lunch with the prairie women. This spot seemed suburban rather than rural; I enjoyed succulent buffalo burgers and rubarb pie! My FAV!! Lemonade to make my heart sing and my palate wince - the very best!! No one makes lemonade from scratch like the Americans - no one.

And then, Sharon, a chiropracter of many talents took us to her childhood home to bask on the top of a plateau of non plowed prairie where teepee rings clearly marked the homes of indigenous peoples of some former time.

A spiritual connection shimmered between the ever present wind winnowing the grass and sage seedlets and the drumming of planetary variety provided by Anne, a friend of Sharon's from Williston who collects drums from around the globe.

We six walked among the aimlessly sprinkled dry cow pies and marveled at the valley below, the green tree filled, stream fed lowlands where the White Valley River wends its way through the canyon on its way to the Missouri.

And then, on the way home, Sharon shared her sister Donna - an artist of considerable talents - not only does she gather eggs from her hens which she gives away to strangers, but she creates booklets of humourous praise as a birthday gift to her hubby.

Prairie life! These are moments I treasure.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two blogs for the price of one

Can you believe it - two blogs, I've taken on the responsibility for two.

The teacher has left the classroom, but the tendency to share new information and clues about how to 'write' more regularly is still a major part of my psyche. I note, however, that adults really hate to be told what to do. I know, I know..neither do their children or grand children.

I just stopped in to check out the real life feedjit portion of this blog. So far, almost 5000 folks have at one time or another chosen to read a portion of what I go on about. Makes my heart sing.

I would have told you that although I may be a prima dona, I'm not interested in being in the spotlight - blinding, simply blinding. However, here I am bragging about the fact that a few folks have chosen to read these few words; some folks come back repeatedly - I guess I have Upland in mind, although there are an awful lot of Brisbanites stopping in these days..thank you very much for taking a moment to listen to my rant about renovation.

Today is a rest day. Yesterday I applied the primer to my scraped west wall. Carpel tunnel - NO, not quite, but my right wrist and shoulder blade know they have had a workout.

Any of you who have painted raw wood know the struggle involved when the paint keeps seeping into the grain. However, even though it is a white wall of chamfers now, it is quite ready for the lovely grey to follow tomorrow.

Today is a teepee ring day down on the Missouri River - yes, time for some R&R. The Aussie has driven into Minot to pick up some new sanding discs for the tip tops of the house. The women of the prairie will pick me up before noon for a wonderful journey into the indigenous history of this lovely place. I'll share about that journey on the morrow.

Here's wishes for a delightful week end for each of you from the prosperous prairie.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prairie School of the Arts: First workshop

Remember earlier, I mentioned that the Prairie School of the Arts idea was underway.

Now, it's more than underway. It exists!!

Check out this blog spot to see our first flyer. Workshop will be 3 October. Hooray; I think we already have four or five folks interested.

http://prairieschoolofthearts.blogspot.com/

Be well..btw, I did my final scraping this morning when I received an email telling me that DAS BOOK had been turned down yet again by a publisher. Good review though and constructive criticism. Back to the drawing board, I hope..and we'll try again, I hope. Have to talk to my fellow author about all of this..ya know..

In the meantime, have to keep my hand in the community, not just in the paint can..so hope to bring folks together to WRITE...

love you all..

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fog; Not a weather condition

The deep white stuff outside my window must be a figment of my imagination. There's a breeze. I always thought that fog and still air went together. Go figure.

Couldn't sleep last night. Was up from midnight til 2 a.m. Slept badly after that as well. Too much chocolate, methinks. But, my aching right shoulder may have had some responsibility.

Went looking for ibprophin to mitigate the discomfort. Found my computer and snood instead. Two hours later, I clicked the off button and snuggled into the back of my Aussie bloke who was cozy warm and sound asleep. Finally, I drifted off as well.

8 o'clock rising this morning to that furry white stuff that camouflages Stony Run and quiets the Canadian honking geese wading in the shallow waters.

The bloke was up and offered coffee! What a wonderment he is! Back downstairs lifting the house quarter inch by quarter inch. It might have been an easier job if accomplished prior to the arrival of washer/dryer, refrigerator, and stove to the kitchen add on.

When the wet air disipates, scraping continues. I paint tomrorow. Hooray..pics to follow

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Raising the House: easier than raising the children ;)

Here I sit working on the flyer for our Harvesting the Memories workshop on writing the memoir when suddenly the floor beneath me shivers, then shudders.

The Aussie is downstairs playing with his tinker-toy - a house jack that lifts 20 ton.

Yikes!

He tells me he raises each section of the house by 1/4 inch, is that 1 centimeter? then moves on to another section, raises it the same distance, goes on to a third section and then back to the first to raise another 1/4 inch. Eventually that whole section of the house is raised 4 inches!! double yikes!

What happens to the plumbing and the wiring? Hopefully, it handles the change cause otherwise we are outta luck for a few days while repairs are made.

The main 30' x 20' section of the house seems to be even on its foundation. The kitchen, an add on, however, has slipped deeper into the earth and needs to be raised 4 inches.

Spills on the stove head right for the north-west corner of the appliance as does the water spilled out of the sink.

I know you were just dying to know all of this...speaking of BORING - a topic heading last night that deeply offended the locals. Sigh! We do love our home turf, we humans. Only the born here locals are allowed to be critical.

Which reminds me that I reconnected with the Cubans who moved to Flaxton from Miami at the same time that G and I relocated from Australia. They were having a garage sale today - selling an old but small round dining room table, one of which was absent here in our home! We traded - my $130 for their table and four chairs - made in Malaysia in 1997.

The world really is one huge community. We southern hemisphere Asian-Australians are now in possession of a product made close to home, a deed made possible by a famly who emigrated from Cuba to Miami in 1985 and then on to Flaxton.

Maeia and I will have tea one day next week - hopefully, to celebrate our sense of being in a new community! After all, we need to support one another in the acclimatizataion.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Boring! Well, maybe except for the mosquitoes

Windows had not arrived in Minot!

We stayed overnight, bought $400+ worth of stuff we needed; potato peeler, toilet brush, brekkie cereal bowls, (forgot the clothes hangers), a vice, a 20 ton hydrolic jack to lift the back of the house a couple of inches; you know, all the stuff any decent householder needs to survive in the wilderness!

And because I was exhausted afer all that shopping, we stayed the night at a Comfort Inn - non-smoking room away from the indoor pool smells. When a motel says it has non-smoking rooms, I expect that the rooms ought never have been smoked! Silly me!!

Who doesn't know that the damn fragrance is stronger than any for whichI have paid fifty dollars? The walls reeked!

We headed off to see Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds! Since have read several reviews - all mixed - must be a Tarantino! I loved the first thirty minutes and the last twenty. The rest of the film could have mostly been left on the cutting room floor!! But I have a prejudice against lack of focus in any film on which I spend money or time.

Home again, home again jiggidy jig! Mosquitoes are rife tonight. We've run off to write blogs inside!!

No T.V. ONly the quiet chatter of computer keyboards and the humming. :)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

And it was the morning after the first night!

Yes!
Resounding positives.
Coal trains thundered at least once during the night - echoing blasts just twice
6:30 and 48 degrees F - Second train sounded the morning alarm.

I was already up, checking my email, listening to the Canadian Honkers! Happy geese arriving in Stony Run, the pond next to our back garden, signaling the rising sun, deep red on the eastern horizon.

7:30, bed is made, coffee drunk; time to pack up for the 90 mile drive to Minot to pick up our new windows!

So, what's with the pics of some silly ole house in nordacotah

I have had several folks ask for pics of the process of renovating this little house for which we paid a very small price in order to have a base in nordamerika when we leave the southern hemisphere to travel in the great not so white north.

The pics are my attempt to chronical this process. More to come on future dates.

Tonight will be our first overnight in the house. We have cordoned off the upstairs; too much raccoon fragrance still up there. Much work to do with the space between upstairs floor boards and downstairs ceiling filled with insulation used for nesting purposes by the wild critturs for the past few years.

We cleaned it up - sparkling, but still smelly. Probably we will work on that process next year when we put in the cathedral windows facing the summer's northern lights.

G just completed the frame for our queen size bed which is located in the south end of the living room opposite the new fouton couch on the north wall of the same room. He also created a shower where there was not one - so that we can bask in the 'rain'. Neither of us is a tub 'sitter'

So, tonight is the first of many in which we celebrate our prairie life. The local cafe and the local bank may have closed, but in all ways this property is open for business - thinking seriously of opening an espresso shop out on Highway 5 at the doors to Flaxton. No dearth of plans in this corner of the universe.

Hope the same is true for all of you..


Farewell from a rainy sky which stretches forever in this world.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Furniture arrived today!

I am so comfy as I write today! At 4:45 this afternoon, a new couch (fouton fold out with elk, leaves, canoes, and bear stanchly parading across the fabric) arrived. Here I sit on the plushy 12 inch thick fouton in 'couch mode'. Glorious, just glorious! A new lamp table that is really an old trunk sits beside me. The amazing Aussie bloke crawled under the house about 15 minutes ago to do the wiring/plumbing for our washer/dryer tandem. It almost feels like home! (where he spends most of his time in his shop under the house - only not in a crawl space.)

Spent the day scraping old paint off the west wall of the house. Ugh! My shoulders and biceps complain and the wall looks awful- devoid of white chipping paint - the grey cedar boards cry out for primer - soon, very soon! I have only two more walls to complete at the 9 foot level...then the scaffolding arrives so that I can do the higher aspects. Scrape, scrape, scrape!

The first killing frost arrives on the prairie most often by 20 September, so we have a bit of a rush on this painting. Paint doesn't like to dry when it is really cold outside.

Of course of greater importance is the furnace, which has not yet begun it's revitalization. Soon, very soon!

And yes, I'll take a photo or five and post very soon! Just found the cord that translates pics from my camera into pics on my mac..