Monday, September 27, 2010

Windows open all night long!

Can you believe it? After a killing frost less than a week ago, we slept last night with the windows open here on the prairie - we didn't even use the bulky 'doona' atop the bed.

I sit here in my bathrobe with my first cuppa close by enjoying the morning sun as it dabbles with building shadows across the room.

We installed a bird feeder full of seeds just outside the lounge room window and wait impatiently for the first winged crittur to find it. The Canada geese honk happily on the slough, the leaves on all our poplar trees , having turned a brilliant yellow, are falling one at a time to the ground.

You are probably tired of reading about the weather on the prairie. I'll try to find something new to share - but let me assure you that life is good - beyond our expectations good!

Hope the same sense of security and comfort and beauty inspire you this morning.

29C - swans are enjoying the slough

Two huge white birds (Swans), Canada geese, and a hundred ducks dot the surface of the slough that backs up to our back garden.

Freight trains chew chew chew chew past on the other side of town after the engineer blasts his warning that the road will be closed for ten minutes while the Canadian railroad cars swiftly head east to Chicago.

Took a mile walk north of town this evening. Gartner snakes lurking in the grass along the road, grass hoppers happy with leg brushing. The sun hot and direct in the western sky kept me company and continues high in the sky even at 7 p.m.

The morning of our killing frost is long forgotten in the midst of this Indian summer weather.

Life on the prairie is relaxed, quiet mostly (in between trains transiting the prairie), and friendly. Several townsfolk stopped to talk while I sifted, weeded, and prepared the rich prairie soil for tulip, iris, and narcissis bulbs that will bloom next March/April.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Afternoon Tea

It's a tad late, really, for afternoon tea - 6:30 p.m.

However, work has come to a close for this day and the computer is on, my Rooibos Tea is warm and inviting beside me. The Aussie has his last coffee of the day accompanied by a slice of warm home made whole wheat-sunflowerseed-raisin bread slathered with fig jam, the sun is hovering in the southwestern sky and all is well in the world.

I do hope your world is as peaceful and beautiful as ours, also as productive.

It was discovered two days ago that the resident raccoons had nested throughout the area between the upstairs floor and the downstairs ceiling, chewing on cross beams, packing the insulation into nest sized areas whilst treading regularly between their chosen sites and the out-of-doors.

As a result, yesterday the upstairs floor was taken up..both of them..two layers.., the old insulation was removed, and today new insulation was placed and the first of two floors renailed onto the remaining studs.

Soon the 40 sq. feet of windows will arrive and be installed. The renovations are moving along nicely.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Everyday Hero

Good cause, this triathlon running!

The Aussie and I are very proud of our adult children who contribute so much to our world and to the cultures in which they exist. Beautiful youth is made more handsome by their willingness to work on behalf of the world which has given each of them so very much.

You can access Everyday Hero web page to read more or contribute by clicking on the title to this blog entry.

Happy Wednesday to all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The 'kid' from Carmel Valley Scores a Win

Hooray for my eldest - the tall, slim, fit young woman whose exploits make my heart sing.

She reached the top of Mt. Whitney ( 14,495 feet) on Sunday and posed for some well deserved photos before heading on down to Whitney Portal.

Congrats to her effort and her ability to set a goal and complete it with grace, stamina, and courage.

love you, dearest child!

(click on the title to this blog entry for a real time photo of Mt. Whitney)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Is George Cadbury?

Whoever he is, this morning his name came up on my Yahoo page as a birthday boy. As a result G-man and I did a little research. Wonderments.

We found out that George was the son of John Cadbury who founded the Cadbury Chocolate empire purchased by Kraft earlier this year. Urgh.

But what we also found out was that Cadbury nowadays uses transfats in their chocolate and using a bit of tricky skull duggery they round down the amount on the label to '0' percent! Triple urgh!!! (info thanks to Wikipedia.)

So, we went in search of a chocolate company who didn't use the ole 'transfat' hydrogenated stuff and what did we find? Godiva chocolate!!

And what did we buy? Dark chocolate cocoa and dark chocolate bars! Yep, we're addicted and we might as well eat cocoa butter rather than hydrogenated palm oil. Want to join us?

(if you want to read the wiki article, click on the title to this post)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kevin is out and about - Hooray for Oz

ABC - Australia's national broadcaster reports:


Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has returned to the world stage, starting with a visit to Washington where he has met senior officials in the Obama administration.

Sworn in as minister just days ago, it is his first official overseas trip since he was removed as prime minister.

Mr Rudd kicked off his official duties by winning a promise from US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to visit Australia in early November.

"Thank you very much for making me feel so welcome here at the state department," he said to Ms Clinton at a press conference. "I feel very much as if I am here among old friends."

Ms Clinton said she was "delighted" to see him again.

"Let me warmly welcome a friend and colleague back to the state department in his new capacity as Foreign Minister," she said.

Ms Clinton describes the US-Australia relationship as "long and deep", while Mr Rudd says it is a relationship Australia takes "deeply seriously".

Mr Rudd's return to the world stage after his removal as prime minister was always going to be closely watched and on his first official overseas visit, he snared a promise from Ms Clinton to visit Australia in November for the US-Australia Ministerial meeting.

"We're a very hospitable people and we believe you can do some serious work and have a good time at the same time," he said.

The US is trying to deepen its engagement in the Asia-Pacific region - encouraged, Ms Clinton says, by Mr Rudd.

"Australia, when Kevin was prime minister, now as Foreign Minister, was very supportive of that effort," she said.

"So I will be attending the East Asia summit to be held at the end of October in Hanoi.

"Because of the growth in Asia and the many issues that are now having to be confronted by the nations there, we need a different architecture," she said.

"In addition to deepening our commitment to ASEAN, we began the process of exploring the opportunity for the United States to join the East Asia Summit. Australia... was very supportive of that effort.

"This will be my first trip as secretary of state because I had to cancel my prior trip due to the earthquake in Haiti, and I am so looking forward to returning to a country that I admire so greatly."

No high level meeting between Australia and the US would be complete with a discussion about Afghanistan.

Mr Rudd has told Ms Clinton that Australia's support for the war in Afghanistan remains "strong and robust".

"This is not an easy conflict, it is a hard conflict. But we are resolved to stay the course with our friends and allies in the United States and we'll maintain a very close dialogue with the administration on the future shape of our engagement there," he said.

Mr Rudd will soon head to New York for the UN General Assembly, another spot on the world stage he last visited as prime minister.

(click on the title to this post to go directly to the article on abc.net.au)

Friday, September 17, 2010

No more Carcinoma

Two hundred miles, two hundred miles = 400 miles round trip; a long way to go for medical treatment!

Just before I flew north from Australia, my GP diagnosed a basal cell carcinoma growing on the right side of my nose just below the corner of my right eye. No time to see a surgeon in Oz.

Yesterday, with the help of the Crosby Clinic nurse here in my neighbourhood, I met the surgeon who removed the red devil and sewed my face back together.

No biggie!

The larger than life part of the story is that in order to see a surgeon trained to do this work before 1 December I had to travel 200 miles to Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. The doctors in my immediate area are 40 miles distant and untrained to do this work. The dermatologists in Minot, 80 miles distant, had no appointments until 1 December. I think that means there are simply not enough doctors trained in dealing with carcinomas in this region of the country.

Taking that into consideration, it seems to me that the 'outback' of America is in dire need of physicians trained to deal with the most common sorts of medical problems facing the residents. More places must be funded at medical schools across the country to accommodate the training of medical professionals; those professionals, it seems to me, ought to repay their financial debts for their medical training by spending the first five years of their professional life in the 'outback'..whether that means 'outback' urban areas or 'outback' rural areas.

We all deserve to have well trained medical professionals available to us so that America can regain her position in the world as a healthy culture...dont'cha think?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September

Memories are made of this:
evocative feelings (sometimes created by unexpected events)

Well, they are supposed to be.

However, nine years after 9/11 I find myself safely, comfortably, happily dwelling on the golden plains of north central North America. From here it is impossible to recall the exploding urban environment of that date so long ago.

This land in which I currently reside has so few people that newspaper adds for job opportunities wait for months to be filled. This is the land that produces food for a nation, actually food for the planet. This is the land that produces enough oil from deep within the earth that drilling in the Gulf is unnecessary. This is the land where folks do carry guns in order to hunt for the meat that will feed the family for the winter - elk, moose, and deer wander among the stubble left behind after the harvest. This is the land where fresh beets and new potatoes just dug from the garden will sit upon our table this night.

Why have so many fled this fine land to live in the troubled and unemployed cities of our continent? Damned if I know. Devilish hard to figure out.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

Blue skies permeate the morning - huge sun fills the house with warmth - for a little while..

Fast moving weather swirls past my lounge room windows, faster than anything I can remember passing my office windows in the fig tree wilderness of Brisbane. Beneath the clouds intersperse swathes of blue skies backdroping the green filigree of trees dancing in the breeze.

I am reminded of my mother's frustration with me for choosing loyalty to California rather than to my birthplace, Michigan. It always irritated her that I left, but even more she was irritatated that I preferred some other climate, some other cultural ambiance.

Her own loyalty was promised to the industrial city that Detroit and Flint had become as well as to the change in seasons of her home. She had travelled outside her state, but it was always with a breath of relief that she returned.

Although as I grow old, I look more and more like my mother and my laughter is a sound bite taken directly from her vocal chords, the similarity seems to be mostly physical; my loyalty to any one place is far less developed than hers.

I have lived for long periods of my life in Michigan, Arizona, California, Oregon, South Dakota, Queensland, and now North Dakota, I feel no particular call to be loyal to any— well, except for the dramatic sun filled, snow covered Sierra Nevada of central California.

I intended to write this entry dismissing my need to have a special place on the planet. I thought I was one of those persons who just settles into whatever weather pattern or cultural milieu in which she found herself.

But, that is not true. I am loyal and most comfortable in one geography — the backbone of the western edge of the north american continent. That is where my heart sings; where no depth of snow is too deep, where no thunderstorm is too violent, where no predator is too dangerous; those mighty granite slopes bring peace and joy to my life.

Here on the prairie, it is the companionship of my longest known friend who creates that same sense of comfort, who gives me pause for hilarity and joy.

What a fortunate 'oldie' I am to be so blessed in the last third of my lifetime!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nordacotah Bluster

It's a stormy day here on the northern tier of the USA — not so wet, but blustery - big winds and entirely overcast skies. No vitamin D produced on my skin today. All the lights I bought at Menards last year are full sunlight bulbs, but they do us no good these days since we have no electricity..ho hum...

The state electricity inspector won't be in Flaxton til Monday or Tuesday of next week..makes it two weeks with no power except for 'Owen' the Briggs and Stratton generator pumping power into the house from outside. Actually, he's sitting on the covered bed of Tina's UTE parked outside the back door.

The G-man is superb in all ways. He not only fixed the osmosis machine this morning — it had a small leak, but he also, brought me a pair of down slippers and even put them on my feet so my toses wouldn't be cold. How's that for service?

We are smiling in our 60 degree home no matter that the weather storms around us. The question is will we still be smiling when the temps drop to '0' or lower and we've lived two weeks with no sun?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sunshine on the Prairie - Reason for celebration

Cool this morning inside the little house on the prairie.

Good reason to stay abed a bit later - at least until the sun broke the horizon.

Ridiculous for me to clamber out of bed at 6 a.m., search for my slippers, grab my fleece robe and tip toe over to the couch with Ray/Vac lantern in hand to copy numbers onto a soduku puzzle. Had to hide my light (not beneath a bushel basket, but behind the barrier created by my upended lap desk) so as not to awaken the deep breathing Australian.

Around 7 a.m. the sun delighted the skies with brilliant hues directed into the eyes I was trying to protect, woke him, and I shed robe and slippers to crawl back into the warm nest for an hour or so. My toeses were pleased at the decision and warmed rather more quickly than usual.

There may be one or two perks to enduring the missing electricity that would have othewise powered the furnace to bring the temps in the room up from 45 degrees to a warmer 60.

Happy Wednesday to all the northern readers..and Thursday to those in Oz.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Government for Australia — FINALLY

Whew! And now the real fun begins.

How ever will the Labour Party manage so many prima donnas..or is that prima dons?

Gonna be a sideshow a minute for the duration of this government.

But happy I am that Kevin is about to be welcomed back into the echelons of power in Australia. His abilities are the ones I most admire. Watching him brush back his blond fringe just feels like old home week.

Been a long time, Kevy! I will not be comfortable about the government til you are re-instated as a senior official in what could be a political golden age —predicated on the power of the independents and the greens some honest to goodness diplomatic decisions are going to have to be actualized.

Watching carefully, ya'll, from far away on the American prairie, but happy as a cuckoo whose found a nest into which to deposit the eggs of my expectations!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Rain Rain, Go Away!

In the past, it has been Memorial Day that has been full of rain, not Labor Day. But, in the past, these were holidays spent in Michigan or California. This Labor Day we celebrate five miles from the Canadian border which makes it even stranger that our weather harkens from the east and the Gulf of Mexico. I am accustomed in my short sojourn in North Dakota to have weather slither down from the Gulf of Alaska.

It strange to realize that living in the middle of North America one is so influenced by what happens in the ocean waters; reminds me that there is really no independence, there is no safe place, there is no hideaway from being a planetary citizen. We are inter-dependent in all ways with those who live on other cotinents, time frames, culturally diverse settlements thousands of miles hence.

It so often feels to me like Americans lose track of their dependence and commonality with those who live in other cultures, on other continents. Perhaps my perceptions have been coloured by my own travels, but returning to the prairie where we now call our little house home and interacting with the folks who were born and raised here, I am often called to recognize that some of these residents have taken advantage of vacation time to travel across the globe while others have seldom left the county ( not country) but county of their birth. Like an ingrown toenail, these folks find pain a daily reminder of what they no longer experience, a sense of tolerance and compassion for others who have similar problems to solve and similar fiscal issues with which to contend.

Today, on the other hand, once again I feel a contentment with our chosen prairie town, a thankfulness that the farmers and oil field workers who surround us have provided the wherewithal to keep our economy moving, our children fed, and our automobiles fueled.

I am never sure that returning to America will be comfortable. Today it is!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sleeping with the Angels

Yep, my favourite angel was snuggled into his side of our queen size last night, snoring gently away this early morning after a good night's rest.

Woke to overcast skies - damn - was going to trim the weeds, grass, and upstart trees around the garage in preparation for new paint tomorrow. Drizzle will keep me indoors instead. Not a negative change in plans - I've emails and letters to write so the folks back home know they are loved and missed.

Brekkie at the Nygaard farm - oatmeal, flax seed, yogurt, and sultanas - perfect Sunday breakfast with friends. An internet connection together with electricity to boot makes all the difference in our Sunday celebrations. My silver laptop is plugged in, booted up, and functioning perfectly.

Unlike our PC which bottomed out on Friday night - monitor developed long lines of colour, motherboard followed shortly after. As a result, we toddled off to Minot and Best Buy on Saturday to buy a new Asis computer and LG LED monitor - As soon as the electricity is connected, we'll be back to streaming video instead of a TV set and I won't have to hike out to farmland to jot you all a note.

Life is certainly NOT boring on the prairie - good friends and community make it all work, however. Thank the goddess for the little town into which we have fallen.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Friday Evening and the sun refuses to set

Seems so strange to be wandering around the garden at 9 p.m. with the sun not yet over the horizon.

Wasps are beginning a new nest after we decimated their previous nest three days ago. Insects rule - no doubt. Saw two little yellow and black behinds weaving a new paper wasp house in the bushes near the front door. Makes me smile to know just how inventive and determined they are.

Today was a delivery, shopping, and doctor's appt. day only the doctor is a nurse practioner and she was busy. My needs were tended to by the nurse - she worked miracles. I will have an appointment made with the dermatologist and be off to the big town 80 miles away sometime late next week. I left Oz with a basal cell carcinoma, not serious, but needing removal - on the corner of my nose just below my right eye.

Still no electric power except with our little generator which enables me to type this note on a Friday evening so we had dinner at the farm - delicious parmasan breaded chicken, fresh peas and asparagus along with a decent white wine. Yummy and I can still type

I hope to sleep with the angels tonight.

A Few Glitches

Guess boring would be the situation if not for a few glitches here and there. We face a couple that give cause for concern.

First deals with Immigration typos that require reams of paper to rectify. We're in process. No trips to Canada for yummy Vietnamese til a green card is returned. We must remain within the confines of US borders until the requisite card is in hand.

The second has to do with bureaucratic dilemmas in the power industry of Dacotah. We checked with our local electricity provider about regulations concerning rewiring our home and were given the go-ahead to proceed. A noon raid by a local electricity company employee put an end to that process. Looks like we will be without power for the ensueing two weeks - a circumstance that causes us no problem in the mountains but one that creates an entirely different reaction here on the prairie.

Updates to follow when they occur.

In the meantime, work with a local committee to complete a new look for the local municipal hall took most of the morning yesterday - rake and shovel in hand, I felt very proud of the final product - pics to follow.

Hope all is well in your world and that we find enough electricity to stay on line for the next two weeks. Should I not, I'm sure you will understand.