Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Garage Hits the Road

So, have anyone of you seen a building moved?  I have occasionally seen them rolling down the highway but usually what I see are mobile or manufactured homes.  Moving an existing building is something that has been hard for me to imagine.  Before my childhood house was torn down there was some casual interest in someone moving it and I truly could not imagine the spectacle.  How could such a thing be possible?  A structure that has stood on its foundation for 100+ years?  Well, that didn't happen but this weekend Justin's cousin met us at the farm because he is going to move the old garage of my youth. 


We didn't have an attached garage so, besides farm buildings for tractors and trucks, this was our garage.  We never parked in it unless a hail storm was coming but it was where the lawnmower, our bikes, other toys and plenty of other junk lived.  Our cat and dog food was in there and it was where they took shelter in the winter (see the pet door on the right).  It has been a well maintained and generally functional building and it still in good shape but it is obstructing the new driveway and "fancy" attached garages so they have wanted it gone for awhile and Ryan was interested and said he could move it. 

My parents were gone for the weekend but they cleaned it out and it was ready to move.  It has been around since my dad's childhood.  My grandpa built it out of boards from someone's old barn so the wood is very old.  Before the newer steel buildings came along this was his main shop where he worked on his farm equipment and it still had the chimney from the wood burning stove.  He had a habit of keeping farm related records by writing them on walls (as a young teenager my dad helped convert an old granary into his next shop which now houses my dads water tanks and the walls of that shop are covered with notes). 


These are the oldest on record, dating back to 1962.  You might be shocked to hear this but his mom was a scrapbook keeper so I've seen his old elementary school report cards and he received C's in penmanship. 

Back to the process...there was originally a wide electric door which ended up being damaged during the great ice storm/blizzard of 1997 that preceded the flood of 1997.  The motor was fried due to our generator malfunctioning. After a few years of manually opening that heavy thing my dad replaced it with a single lift door and a regular door for entry so that section of new wall had to be removed so Ryan can reattach it when he places the building on it's new foundation. 


You can see lots of wires but don't worry...the electricity to this building has been cut for awhile. 

It was finally time to start lifting. 


You can kind of see the reddish color left of the old barn in these pictures. 


Now it sits like this until Ryan comes to load it on the trailer.  Seeing it raised is quite fascinating and it seems like the impossible is possible even though I know many more complicated buildings can be moved this way.  It kind of is amazing to me how such an old building can be in such good shape.  I read on a North Dakota history blog that the act of giving a structure a curved roof like this can give it an indefinite life as opposed to flat roofed buildings which rarely stand the test of time.  It helped that my parents kept the shingles in good shape over the years and my brother most recently shingled it with a friend but that was probably 10 years ago.  And that cement is still smooth and even after all these years.  My mom was saying they might connect it to the new driveway if they can get the raised part around the edge off.  There is barely a crack in it. 


All that's holding it up is railroad tie blocks!  Eeek!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Safety Village Grad

I mentioned Ben's Safety Village session a few times recently.  Friday was the last day after two weeks of mornings spent learning about all types of safety.  They had a graduation ceremony and it was actually very impressive.  The women who run the program are very experienced and one of them wrote all the music and played the piano for every song.  The kids didn't just get a graduation certificate.  They had a full concert with little songs and skits with costumes for every topic.  First they filed in and sang their graduation song.  ("We learned about safety, all kinds of safety...") 

Then the fun started.  Ben showed up in one of the first songs as the "R" in the word "germs". 


I thought that was his part but then he also showed up as a firefighter!


That's him at the end with his back to the camera.  It was cute.  They were supposed to keep their songs and parts a secret to surprise us. 


At the end the kids got their diplomas and then they were able to show off their bike safety skills out in the parking lot.


I tried to get a good picture of them.  Tessa was wearing her crazy best including a dress with pajama pants underneath and sparkly dress shoes. 


Milo was pretty good during the show.  It lasted 45 minutes so I was worried and snacks will only last so long.  He actually liked listening to the kids sing. 


Here is Ben and his friend Owen zooming around the bike safety course. 

It was a good two weeks for him.  As I said in a Facebook post last week, I'm glad there is a window of time where kids can remember this important information but don't yet think that a safety themed day camp is really lame and nerdy.  The program reminded me of a mid 1990's elementary school production we did when I was in 3rd or 4th grade that involved a whole score of music about being safe, saying NO to drugs and being a good friend.  It was called "Forever Free" and after searching the old Internets I found it.  It's still available! 

Forever Free (Musical)

It's by Roger Emerson who was a familiar name on music class compositions.  I had to check out the song list and saw a transcript of the title song complete with the spoken lines:

One Student:
"That’s right! We’re a new generation of kids who are doing positive things to keep drugs and alcohol out of our lives. We’re not gonna give in and we’re not gonna give up!"

I can't remember which star student got to say that premier line.  I'm sure many of the parents in the audience were thinking about Steak Night at the local bar that was starting soon after this program wrapped up that night and all the talk about alcohol probably had them impatient.  Also, like I said it was the 90's, a time when half the men (not my dad, lucky for me, even though often nonsmokers just joined to get the fresh air and talk) in the gym stood outside the side door smoking cigarettes during half time of basketball games and certain teachers not so discreetly tried to hide their tobacco habits so there were probably some cravings going on during the "Smoooooking is dumb...smoking is a terrible habit" song. 

It's so weird how some things just stay in your head forever.  I learned this program 25 years ago (approximately since I don't remember what grade I was in exactly) and I still remember the songs and some of the soloists (I wasn't one!).  I also must have had a small speaking part since I would have been part of the older grades (it would have been a K-6 show) but I don't remember it at all.  There aren't any pictures either because parents didn't feel a compulsive urge to document everything we did because there was no social media to share it on so what would have been the point.  School gym show photos never turned out good anyway.  They were always dark and the videos had such poor sound quality you couldn't even understand what was being said. 

Anyway, if you want to know what you should do if a tornado comes or if you come across a gun hidden in someone's attic or if you see a fallen power line you know who to ask. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Thistles of the Field

It's been six weeks since we planted the pumpkin patch.  We haven't visited for a few weeks and before that the weather wasn't great so I had big plans this weekend.  I was going to weed those rows, and weed them good.  Justin has been gone on a trip to Alaska since last Monday (another post for that later) so my dad stepped in and did the cultivating but the rows were up to me. 


This is what I looked upon on Friday night when I arrived. I was planning to start hoeing Saturday morning but it rained in the night so I had to wait for the mud to dry.  The cultivating happened before lunch on Saturday morning.  Just that act made a huge difference, as you can see from the picture below.


But, the hard part was still ahead of me.  My grandma and aunt were visiting on Saturday and we celebrated my nephew's first birthday so I couldn't get any hoeing done.  Around nine p.m. on Saturday my dad headed out to the field with a full tank in the sprayer and I headed out to the patch (because that's what farm people do!).  No one could find the hoe so I took a small garden fork tool.  The fork didn't work nearly as well as a hoe so I pulled weeds my hand until dark. 

On Saturday morning I was ready to go but Milo was acting really strange and whiny.  My weeding hours were slipping away when he sat up straight in my lap and puked all over me.  Yep, that happened.  So, around 10:30 I finally was ready to go to the pumpkin patch.  And still, we couldn't find a hoe.  My dad produced a metal rake which was really old and it shattered into multiple pieces as soon as I took my first hack at a thistle.  So I started weeding by hand again, knowing I wouldn't get nearly enough accomplished and that next time I came the rows would be overcome with weeds up to my knees.  Finally, my mom showed up with the mystery hoe (yes, I do feel strange saying "hoe" so many times...if only it only had one meaning as a garden tool!) and I was able to focus my energy and clear some rows.  It still doesn't look the way I hoped but each pumpkin plant I was able to clear will make a difference.  I can say with certainty that I would like to never see the following again:

Image result for lambs quarter weed

This little plant is a lambsquarter (this is an internet photo not my own).  It looks innocent but oh my word...they grow like crazy and they are everywhere.  You can see them growing but when you kneel down where each one is there are probably twenty little sprouts ready to pop up around larger one.  They grow right up against the pumpkin plants.  Their seeds seem to live forever and I still find them in my planters even though we haven't brought new field soil here from Eastern ND for three years now and I mix in new potting soil every year.  They were by far the most common weed in the patch.  There was also the occasional mustard, which most people don't need to see a picture of because those of us of a certain age who were kids before Roundup ready beans existed probably were given a job of pulling them from a field at some point in their youth.  According to my quick research while looking for a picture they are considered weeds almost everywhere but they are popular for eating in India. 

Then...there was the big one..the demon weed of the pumpkin patch.  Thistle.  These things are so nasty.  I tried to pull a few with gloves and they poked right through.  Even the base of the roots (or should I say singular root, a deep, long taproot that is very hard to pull up) is prickly.  And they grow so huge.  These ones in the picture were almost to my knees.


Apparently, thistles submit to herbicides just as easily as the other weeds although it's hard to imagine that these things and lambsquarters and grasses are on the same level.  None of that matters because pumpkins are not bred to withstand any herbicide and they would die with the weeds if we sprayed them so hoeing and pulling are the available options.  I guess we could cover the plant and spray around it but that would also be pretty time consuming...

Hopefully we can get the rest of the patch weeded sufficiently  before some plants get overtaken.  The first year we didn't weed and the pumpkin vines had to climb the weeds to get to the sun.  It gets out of control so fast.  I need a week of recovery anyway.  The physical motion of hoeing is really good exercise and my arms are very stiff as are the backs of my thighs.  If I had shoveled some grain and lugged around some bales or sacks I would have completed a traditional farm daily exercise program.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Allan's 8th Birthay

After three "siblingss", I try not to let my poor kitten get lost in the shuffle.  Sometimes I remember that he used to be a major topic of this blog.  He's still as cute as ever.  He has gained some weight over the past year or two (only about four pounds...which is hardly anything on a cat who has always weighed 11-12 pounds and now weighs 16 pounds...that's what he tells us anyway!)

His birthday was two days ago.  Eight years ago he was a tiny two day old kitten with his eyes still fused shut as he fought with his siblings to be with their mother who came to the shelter as a pregnant stray.  I wonder what his father looked like, that gutter cat that he must have been.  One thing I can say for sure is he isn't inbred.  I have seen enough farm cats in my life to know the signs and he isn't.

Happy birthday Al...enjoy your rare blog feature. 




In other news, you may have seen my ND hometown on the national news yesterday or today.  There was some unusual weather there yesterday and a guy I went to high school with took some pictures and a video that has gone viral and it was even on the Today Show and the other morning shows this morning. 


Of course, my social media was full of pictures yesterday afternoon.  Apparently there were a few funnels. 


Jesse's was the famous one but I think this one is a bit more terrifying.  It turns out they weren't real tornadoes but some kind of whirlwind phenomenon.  I want to say a cold air funnel but I think it was pretty hot out.  I knew the pictures did not look like real tornado weather.  They sky looked too light in the first one and in the second one the sky is blue with fluffy clouds.  Real tornado skies are so dark and strange they are unmistakable.  They are still quite a sight though.  I think the tube one would have sent me speeding in the other direction very quickly.

 I have some anxiety over tornados and severe weather even though I've never experienced the worst of it.  I always worried what would happen if a tornado came in the middle of the night when no one was watching TV (now our phones alert us but that hasn't been the case until a few years ago).  We lived in the country and couldn't always hear the sirens at the fire department that would alert the town when questionable weather was happening.  My closest encounter happened a few years ago (2011 I think?) when I was driving to my sister's house for a week of work on Memorial Day.  As I approached Fargo on the Interstate the temperature spiked twenty degrees higher and as I turned at the exit into Fargo the sky turned so black it was like night and I got a really bad feeling.  The wind came up as I parked in her driveway and I left everything in my car and ran for the door which almost ripped off the house when I opened it.  I'll never forget the weird feeling of the air pressure and my sister said, according to the news, that I had barely missed being out in a tornado.  I don't know if a funnel was spotted that evening but the next morning the shingles were ripped off her room and there was crazy debris all over town.  I think I have a post about it way back in the archives.  My other close encounter was when a neighboring town was hit and heavily damaged by a F4 tornado in 2006 and I was at my parent's farm that night.  We knew bad weather was brewing in the area and I saw some very strange animal behavior that evening.  It was so still and calm but our dog was racing around the yard like a lunatic when he usually spent all his time hiding under a shrub in the shade and we saw a family of deer calmly walking down the road past the house like they were in a daze.   We all know animals have instincts about these things...

All animals except, apparently, my beloved childhood cat Rascal.  One summer when I was a teenager, I think it was after my freshman year of college, my brother and I were home by ourselves and had to take to the basement because of severe weather.  A tornado never happened but there was strong winds and hail that piled against the sides of buildings.  When the sun came out  after the brief deluge I opened the door to survey the damage and saw Rascal sitting at my feet, curled in a ball.  When I picked him up there was  dry spot under him.  Yes, he sat on the step through a hailstorm and torrential rains waiting to be let in the house while all the other cats and the dog went to the garage like they were supposed to. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

LV 2017

As the days go on I am getting a bit behind on here as usual.  I better fit in everyone's favorite type of information...stories about other people's vacations!  I was in Las Vegas recently.  I have visited there most years for awhile now at the beginning of summer with family.  We didn't go last year, so I was really excited about this year.  I couldn't even recall the last time I had been away from the kids overnight.  I have been away from one or two here and there but not all three since October.  I was planning to leave from a other city on Thursday afternoon but Ben's preschool graduation was scheduled after I booked the trip an I felt horrible about missing it so I did the unthinkable and tangled with Allegiant airlines on the phone, waited on hold for 40 minutes and managed to change my flight to leave from Bismarck late the same night.  Well...the trip didn't go as planned.  As we were eating supper at a restaurant to celebrate Justin's birthday my app on my phone notified me the flight was delayed.  I instantly got a bad feeling because the same thing happened last time I flew on Allegiant two years ago and my flight ended up being cancelled and I was stuck in Vegas alone for the night in an off-strip hotel.  (I was pregnant so the extra night of partying wasn't really appealing to me at that time.)


Just as I suspected, the flight was delayed again until 11:30.  Justin was tracking the plane and knew it was still on the ground in Las Vegas so I had a very bad feeling.  I knew it was coming but I was still very very angry when I was finally notified my flight was cancelled. 


I waited to see when it would be rescheduled so I could plan when to wake up in the morning when the real blow came...it was rescheduled for 11:00 PM...PM!!!!!! the next night.  26 HOURS after it was supposed to have departed.  I cannot explain the rage I felt about this.  It is the worst feeling because there is no help from anyone and no one cares at all about the plans that are ruined and disrupted.  Wedding?  Who cares.  Funeral?  Who cares?  Extra day of child care to pay for and plan?  Who cares?  Hotel room already paid for in Vegas that you can't cancel?  Nope, no one cares.   Hey Allegiant...here's an idea...maybe you should have an extra plane or two available for the times your junky aircraft break down on  REGULAR BASIS so people could at least leave for their travels that they have payed for less than 26 hours late?  The talk was that this was the third cancelled Allgiant flight out of Bismarck in May.

Meanwhile, in Vegas, the rest of the group was trying to check in at the hotel around midnight and the room for my sister and me was under my name.  Since I wasn't there they wouldn't give her the room.  Flight cancelled?  They didn't care.  NO ONE CARES! She had to sleep in my cousins' room.

There was a flight leaving from Grand Forks the next day at lunch time and Justin was heading there anyway with the kids so we thought we would try to get me on that flight.  Only one problem...we live approximately a four hour drive from Grand Forks and Allegiant doesn't answer their phones until 8:00 a.m.  So we wouldn't be able to be sure I was on the flight until then and their average hold time is 30-40 minutes.  I went to sleep since I had been up most of the night with my eyes pulsating with rage and Justin started dialing their number at 7:30 and actually got through right away at 8 and I got on the flight.  He drove approximately 90 mph to get me there in time and I made it on the plane with time to spare.  The plane even landed early and I was finally feeling better.  But then we boarded...and sat...and sat...and sat...for 45 minutes.  It turns out the toilets were not operating.  They didn't have enough of that blue liquid in them.  Then the truck they use to fill them didn't work.  So finally two guys with big plastic jugs of blue liquid came on and filled them manually so we finally took off almost an hour late.  I was in the second to last row of the plane and the people around me were all from the Bismarck flight and we were all filled with so much anger and despair we were laughing like maniacs at how absurdly bad our travel experience had been.  Some of them had drove from Fargo to Bismarck and had to drive back in the middle of the night then get up and race to Grand Forks like I had.  Because it's really hard to inform passengers that their flight won't be arriving within an hour when it's still parked at the airport in Las Vegas.  So hard.  One guy was so tall his head was about an inch from the ceiling of the plane and he of course lost his exit row seat he had paid extra to choose and was practically jammed into the back of the plane.  It was all really bad.  I had real anxiety about my trip home after having two Allegiant flights in a row descend into chaos for me.   

After all that I did finally arrive in Las Vegas and, after a short and pointless argument with the front desk people about locking my sister out of our room which got me nowhere I was finally with the rest of the group and able to relax. 


We stayed at Bally's, which you can see on the right side of the picture.  I was standing in my room in Bally's when I took it so that shows how huge Bally's is and on the continuum of hotels in Vegas it's really not big at all. 



Ceasar's Palace...now that place is huge.  So is the Bellagio which you can see on the left.  The blue lighting is the huge fountain in front of it. 

My mom's 60th birthday happened two days ago so we thought we would celebrate in Vegas.  We (and by "we" I refer to my sister because she did all the work) secretly reserved a cabana at the pool and made some fun shirts for us to wear that day.




Cabanas are good because you get unlimited water included.  The price gouging over water is something I notice everywhere that involves tourists these days and I hate paying for it.  It is even overpriced if you buy it from the CVS stores on the Strip. 

The rest of the trip was good.  We didn't go to any shows or anything.  We mostly just shopped, walked around and tried different restaurants.  Oh, and played the slots. 



 I thought this floral carousel was pretty cool. 

So was this display of vintage bikes hanging from the ceiling.  Both of these were at higher end hotels which Bally's is not.  Who wants to pay a lot for a room they only sleep in though?


Within the last few years Bally's has had some improvements.  This is a new little market area with stores and restaurants in front of the grand entrance.  It used to be a rather dingy looking expanse of concrete with some old and faded fountains.  I don't recall them even having water in them. 

On the last morning I was the last to leave so I walked around by myself to check out a few things we missed.  The Bellagio has a seasonal floral display in their conservatory so I had to see that. 


The fountain shows were taking a break for a few hours so the pool could be maintained.  This little raft boat was floating around and people in wetsuits were picking up garbage and probably adjusting the jets.  That would be a fun job except I believe the fountains in Vegas are filled with purified drainage water like shower and sink runoff.  That is kind of gross. 


It was a pretty good and low key trip.  The city itself was quite wild (it always is but this weekend seemed even more so) because it was Memorial weekend.  Also, Nevada has recently legalized marijuana.  The law doesn't take effect until July 1st but no one seemed too worried about getting caught anymore and you could smell it everywhere.  Weed smoking has never been my scene so I honestly can say I have never smelled so much in my whole life.  I'm sure by this time next year there will be dispensaries on every corner. 

When it was finally time to take a taxi to the airport I had a knot in my stomach over the upcoming trip.  It went just fine except I had bought Ben and Tessa snowglobes and I had them in my carry-on...or I guess I should say my one personal item that is small enough to fit under the seat because Allegiant charges for carry-ons...and I got flagged going through security and the TSA agent almost confiscated them.  I know the rules about liquids but it never even crossed my mind.  I looked so horrified he let me keep them which I was very appreciative of.  The TSA are humans under those uniforms.  So...lesson to all...no snowglobes on a plane! 


I'm glad they made it through because Tessa loves her snowglobe.  Milo also loves these snowglobes and I didn't get him one because, even though they are plastic, I knew he would throw it around and probably end up breaking it.  And that's exactly what he wants to do so they are fighting over them now and they have to hide them from him. 


My mom sent back these fun lollipops with little stuffed animals attached.  They have wire in them so they can bend around stuff. 


Milo loooooves his.  Of all three kids, he loves his the most and his is the smallest because he throws a huge fit when you take it away so I just let him carry it around.  This is a dentist's nightmare.