Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Interesting People

Our family has certainly run into a lot of interesting people lately.

A couple of days ago Jonathan and I traveled to town in the boys' pickup truck so we could purchase a large bag of grain. Jim had ordered the grain that morning, and it was supposed to be waiting for us.

Before we could get the grain we needed to open up the house we are watching for a friend so a man could install carpeting on some stairs, and also someone else could repair the dishwasher. After this the house should be ready for appraisal.

After talking to the carpet layer by phone, I had a hint that he was a real character. He must be French Canadian, as his last name implied. This guy came in wearing a black beanie, complete with a cross bone skull and lettering of "Sturgis." He was obviously a biker. What caught my attention was as he turned around I saw a braid that extended down to the middle of his back! I don't normally run into people like this, and certainly wouldn't have wanted to run into him in a dark alley at night, but he seemed decent enough. He even brought his son, who was apparently apprenticing in his dad's trade.

They got busy, and then the man arrived that was going to check out the dishwasher. He sported a gray haired braid, only not quite as long as the other guy's braid. We stayed to see what he thought of the dishwasher, and watched him take care of the rather simple problem.

It isn't just the hair styles that catch my attention, but the many people in the area that go about their lives without much thought of how the rest of the world lives. Up here in the hills we have quite a few people that basically just want to be left alone, to live as they choose. Maybe there are characters like this all over, but I've never seen as many in such a short time as I have up here. I sure would hate to be a census taker -- unless I knew the people and the area. Someone recently told me of a place where no one visited unless invited; if you did, you found the end of a gun barrel.

I remember walking a small town during the campaign season with our sons Jonathan and David, and how one lady was very rude and slammed the door in our faces. Shortly after that we saw a group of rough looking characters milling around an old pick-up truck. I took a deep breath, and David and I walked over to give them Jim's campaign brochure. Those men turned out to be the friendliest ones I had met all day. One even mentioned how he had met Jim a week or so ago at the stock car races.

I guess you can't judge a book by its cover, or people by the length of their hair.

However, I am hoping people in the area are not judging us as well. It has been stated that Jim and I may always be considered outsiders, but maybe our boys have a chance to become part of the locals. When we first moved here the gossip went around that we were Jehovah Witnesses from the east coast. I would be hard pressed to consider Fargo as being the east coast, and can't figure out how they ever thought we were Jehovah Witnesses!

This summer will be an interesting one. We are beginning to market our farm products, and we'll see how willing the local population will be to check us out.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Moving out of Fargo, August 2004.

A while back a friend of ours moved from our town to the east coast, and we offered to keep track of her house in town until she returned. Well, it's been decided that she would sell her house and stay in the east, so we were then asked if we would pack up the rest of her belongings and store them until she comes to claim them this summer.

We are finding that selling a house in winter is not an easy task, especially when there's been very cold temperatures and lots of snow. It made me very thankful our house in the city sold in late summer, and we moved before winter set in. All of this packing reminds me very much of our packing days back in 2004.

I'm a careful packer, making sure things wouldn't be damaged. Since our friend will have to haul everything back in a trailer, I've had to pack every box to the top so they won't crush. I have everything that was in the house packed up, and now am working on garage items.
I've been thinking a lot about a post Scott Terry of the blog, Homesteader Life wrote concerning being a "frugal materialist." We got rid of a lot of things before we moved, but it's amazing how much we've accumulated since moving here. We live in our basement, and it's becoming increasingly more difficult to manage all the stuff in here. Either I have to get more creative in how to store things, or it's time to declutter and get rid of them. I've been looking forward to some day moving upstairs and having more room to spread out, but I have a feeling there will always be a storage problem.
Maybe it's a good thing we don't have a thrift store or used book store in the area ...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Poor Marlys

Our cat Wendell is on the left, and Marlys on the right. All of our cats seem to enjoy watching me from the kitchen window.
Last spring our cat named Marlys was hanging around with Jonathan and Peter when they were setting poles into the ground as supports for our future barn. Peter lost his grip on the log and dropped it -- onto Marlys. She stayed in the chicken barn for a while, and had some bleeding through one of her eyes. She healed up, but that one eye at times is mattery.
Yesterday the boys were doing chores when they noticed some blood on the snow; then they noticed Marlys. We don't know what happened, but her tail is now half as long as it used to be, and its new tip was bare of hair and a bit bloody. I called a friend who had had a cat that had frost bite on her ears and tail, and lost the tips of them. She said the tail never became bloody, but eventually just fell off. We are suspecting that Marlys must have gotten too close to the horse or cow, and probably had her tail either stepped on or laid on, and lost part of it. She doesn't normally spend much time up at the house, but today she was up here quite a bit and seemed to be doing all right. Cats sure are resilient.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Our Singing Lake

Last week before going to bed I stepped outside to see if our occasional house cat wanted to come in for the night. It was very still out there, but all of a sudden I heard something that sounded like music. It puzzled me a bit, until I remembered people talking about lakes "singing" during certain weather conditions.

I thought about that sound again as I was outside today, and decided to see what I could find on the internet to explain the phenomena. All I could find was a journal entry from Bruce Gardner called Singing Lake. This isn't exactly what I heard, but here is a portion of what Mr. Gardner wrote:

As we walked past the first, smaller bowl of the lake, we heard a sound that neither of us could identify. Our first guesses as to the sound’s origin included the bugling of a distant elk, the whine of a chainsaw off in the distance, or maybe the whirring tires of a vehicle stuck in the snow just over the far ridge. As we approached the center shoreline of the lake the sound became more distinct and more regular in occurrence. The loudest echoed and reverberated from the surrounding ridges and were accompanied by a series of pinging notes similar to sonar sounds in an old submarine movie. While we watched and listened intently, we became aware of the faint sound of cracking accompanying the louder sounds. The air temperature was hovering in the low twenties and the sun was at its zenith. What we were witnessing was the contraction of the thin sheet of ice in front of us as it melted and fissured. The fissuring ice created sound waves that seemed to be amplified by the tympanic membrane of ice. The loudest of these sounds were similar to whale music, but much more drawn out, much louder, and a bit eerie. A narrow, open lead had formed to our front. As an individual moan faded, the surface of the open water became calm. With a rising crescendo, the open water quivered as the waves of sound rolled to shore. Ripples splashing through the open lead, launching thin sheets of ice aloft. On impact these thin windowpanes of ice shattered with the tinkling sound of breaking glass. I have read accounts of mariners ice-bound in the arctic who described the booming sounds of the grinding ice pack. I have heard the sharp reports produced by ice during spring break-up in Alaska. I know the sound an avalanche makes. The sounds at Mussigbrod Lake were more musical and outside my personal experience. I am thankful my wife and I witnessed the event. Both of us yearned for a tape recorder with which to convey the phenomena.
We made our way back to the car.
The wind picked up and the air cooled. The sounds of the singing lake, which had sonorously entertained us for the better part of an hour, quickly died. We were left only with the memory as we recounted the experience to each other throughout the balance of our jaunt.

We don't have any open water, but I still heard the sounds our lake made as it "sang."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

On the Road

A friend asked if we were interested in heading three hours east to visit friends today, since she had some ladies to visit (she is a midwife). We hadn't been over to see our friends in quite a while, so David, Andrew and I decided to go along on the trip.

It felt good to get away. I think I've been experiencing cabin fever, and it's sometimes good to go away and come back with a fresh sense of purpose. We even stopped at a consignment store, and the boys found some items they couldn't live without.

We got back on the road and were about half way to our destination when suddenly we started experiencing ground blizzard conditions. The day was sunny and clear, but we were no longer in the Turtle Mountains and there were no hills to protect us from the wind. I had forgotten how scary it is to drive when it isn't easy to see the road. This particular highway is very desolate, with mostly grain trucks using the road. Those trucks kick up even more blowing snow, so it was doubly hard to see. My friend didn't have cell phone coverage in this area, since "progress" hasn't set up any towers yet along this road. Just to be on the safe side, we turned around and headed home.

This is the first year I've seen county road crews having to take bulldozers to break up drifts of snow along the roads and then load the snow into trucks to be hauled away. Thankfully we ran into such a crew working on this before we hit the ground drifting of snow, or we may have "run" into them.

Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow, and we will reach our destination.