Just A Smattering

Time to catch up on the little stuff.

*We had our first snowfall this weekend.  Actually, it was early Sunday morning, with much bluster and blowing.  But there really isn’t much left on the ground right now.  Normally we get snow right around Halloween, so this is just a few days late.  Guess the time-change screwed it up, hunh?

I’m not a huge fan of the cold, which is ironic, considering where I live, but I do like how clean and pretty things look when the snow first falls.  I could really handle a nice Thanksgiving to New Years’ snow… then poof!  All gone! 

Corner of Broadway & Burdick - Minot

*Now we have to deal with the insanity of that “First Snowfall Driving Experience”.  Every year it’s the same thing, with people forgetting what it’s like to drive on snow and ice.  Or, like this year, with the massive influx of new people we have from out of state, you get those who have no idea what it’s like to drive in this type of weather.  For about the next 2 months, it’s going to be smash-up derby. 

*Update on EldestDaughter – ED is now past the half-way point in her pregnancy, and is ready to be allathewaydone.  I chuckle, because I remember my mom saying some of the same things to me, that I’ve been saying to her lately.  I will get random texts and phone calls now, wondering if she can “eat this?” “take that?” and WHATtheHELLis GOINGonWITHthisALIENCHILDINVADER?  She has gotten into a new 2-bedroom apartment with her fiance’, after my prodding her with my “get a move on before the snow hits” speech.  Now that we know it’s a Y-gendered child living in there, we can start getting the decorations for the baby’s room.  She’s got tons of family down there who all have clothes for the up-and-coming little mensch, so I’m focusing more on other practicalities, like bottles, baby sling, wall hangings, etc. 

*YoungerDaughter has been going through some emotional ups-and-downs as well lately.  Swimming is now over for her, and it was a rough go for a few days.  I think it finally hit her that this is her last year of high school, when she realized that she’d never swim for the high school team again.  Ooof.  Right to the gut.

There are going to be a lot of “last times” this year, and as soft-hearted as YD is… this is gonna be a bumpy ride, I think.  But, I reminded her that this means there are so many new “firsts” to watch for – first place away from home, first day of college, first psycho college dorm roommate… she didn’t find these things amusing.

*OnlySon has been absent much of the time lately.  He has been spending a lot of time with his dad, which, while I want him to maintain that relationship… it gets a little hard sometimes, for me.  I don’t get to do a lot of the things with him that I’d like to.  I think he and I are going to have to come to an understanding – Mom gets time too.  I get it, though, 13-year old boys want dudes to hang out with, not chicks.  Especially Mom-type chicks.  yikes.

Well, that’s just a smattering of the local news.  There will be no “film at 11”.  I’ve been too busy to run the camera!  Up soon, however, will be some of YD’s senior pics, as soon as I finish editing!

 

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Saving The Sanctuary

I’ve written before about my sanctuary – the place I retreat when I need peace and quiet, or to escape from the chaos.  Oak Park.

A beautiful haven, stuffed down in the middle of my city, and one of my all-time favorite places to be.

Unfortunately, being in the middle of the city also means being in the middle of the valley.

The valley that flooded this summer.

And all the green, the quiet, the peace, was drowned under tons of gallons of flood waters.

But, even as the muddy water recedes, leaving behind dying foliage, and wrecked buildings and shelters, there is hope.

I’m not sure how it all began, but a link was posted about a week ago that Coca-Cola was giving away thousands to America’s favorite national parks on their website, and Oak Park, my beloved retreat, was in the running for one of their grants!

There are 3 top positions in this contest – 1st place wins $100,000.00; 2nd place wins $50,000.00, and 3rd place wins $25,000.00 to restore, rebuild, and enhance their park.

And as of today, Oak Park, Minot, North Dakota – is in 1st place!  The people of my community, along with many others from around the world, have been voting to keep our park in the top spot of the competition. 

With almost 700,000 votes as I write this post, Oak Park has a very good chance right now of being able to recover from this devastating flood, and become once more the beautiful place I love and remember. 

And you can help.  Click on the link, and it’ll take you to the Coca-Cola website where the voting is taking place.  If you search for Oak Park, Minot, North Dakota, zip code 58701, you will find the page dedicated to it, and can vote as often as you like. 

The contest ends on Sept. 6, and the winners will be notified sometime in mid-September.  I’m crossing fingers, eyes, toes, and everything else crossable that Oak Park is able to win the grant. 

And there are others out there praying for a win, too.

Help them find their way home?

A Little Hope… Goes a Long Way.

I realize that today is Thursday, and is supposed to be Flash Fiction day, but… I have to tell you a few truths, instead.

I’ve said before that I have the best friends on the planet. 

I know this is even more true now, than ever – for many reasons.

My very dear friend, Sparrow, is dealing with her own flooding issues right now, due to her house being close to the flooded area of town.  And yet, between worrying about not only losing her possessions, trying to move everything to higher ground, and still keep her boys safe, she has repeatedly told me that if I need anything, I am to call her.  I’ve said the same to her, of course, and I’ve offered her space in my house if she and the boys do have to relocate.  After all, my house is on the top of the hill, not sitting only feet from the flood zone like her house.  Crazy lady, she’s worrying about me?  Yeah, she’s just that good a friend.

Another wonderful friend is living in another city, south of here – Bismarck, where the muddy Missouri River has decided to rampage as well.  Even with her flooding concerns, she too has offered to come to Minot to help, in whatever way she can.  I told her to stay home and stay dry.  Their river hasn’t crested yet, and it keeps creeping ever closer to her home.  I wish there were something I could do for her.  Other than offering my shoulder to cry on, and a couch to sleep on if she needs it, there’s little I can do to help at this point.  But the offer is there, regardless.

Sparrow, Mark & Me

My friend, Mark, over at The Idiot Speaketh, has decided to ride a marathon on his stationary bike, asking for people to pledge so much per mile to the minotredcross.org.  The last time he rode a marathon?  He rode a little over 160 miles in one day on his stationary bike.  And no matter whether he rides 5 miles, or 150 miles… he’s a hero in my book.  He’s a relatively new member to my “chosen family”, in that I met him about a year ago through the blogging world.  But, he quickly became a dear friend, and I’m honored to call him my BigBloggingBro.

Mark has asked that all donations be sent directly to the Minot Red Cross.  He will not see a penny, and doesn’t want to.  He has not asked for anything at all in return for his time.  All he asks is that if you have something to give, to help, that you do it. 

Another dear friend, another “chosen family” member, is my friend, Max. 

I’ve known Max for more than half my life, approximately 23 years, and he’s always been someone that I knew I could count on, even if he spent most of those years hopping all over the globe.  He’s been to almost every country on the planet, working for geological survey companies, as well as just being “Captain Max”.  I’ve lived vicariously through him for years, following his escapades on facebook, as well as the occasional jog that he makes through town every couple of years, checking in with family and friends.  He’s just one of those guys that… when he shows up, you know you’re going to have fun, and – it’ll be as though he never left in the first place. 

Today?  He’s running a new business out of another city not too far from here, and he started out with his partners, hauling water to the oil rigs in the area.  But, as soon as he heard about the catastrophe in Minot and the surrounding areas, he decided he had to do more.

For days now, he’s been giving away free, clean, treated water donated by another city to those in need in my city.  He came up with the idea because he had a large water tank, and Minot needed clean, drinkable water.  He approached the city of Stanley, North Dakota, with the idea that he could get some treated water from there, and haul it to us.  When they found out that he was giving it away, they told him that he could come back and get more whenever it was needed by our city.  So far, he’s brought 1,600 gallons to Minot, and has only been able to give out about 600 gallons.

Only 600 gallons.  When I talked to him last night, he was upset that he couldn’t give it away faster.  He was hoping for a more centralized location, so that more people could get the water they need.  All people have to do is bring containers to hold the water, and they can take away whatever they can carry. 

One story he told me… was one he repeated at least twice, it affected him so strongly.

A lady came up to his rig, with her little girl, and as he was helping her fill her water jugs, she broke down, crying.  She wasn’t sure if the city’s water was safe enough to shower in, due to the contamination that leaked into the city’s system a few days ago.  Her little girl hadn’t been able to take a bath for days.  Max… looked at the little girl, and asked her if she was “stinky”.  Shaking her head quickly, the little girl tried to deny it, but her mom disagreed.  In the end, the mom brought out a large garbage can, Max filled it for her, and she gave her little girl a bath… right there, in the garbage can, in the parking lot where Max had parked for the afternoon.

He has been posting his locations on the local news’ facebook page throughout the day, with help from friends.  I’m also going to be passing his card along to everyone I know, in the hopes that he can empty the tank he brought with him, and be able to go back for more.

Max has not asked for anything in return.  He does have a tiny cardboard box sitting at the end of his trailer, just in case anyone wants to chip in anything for his gas to drive back and forth to Stanley for more water.  It’s a little over 50 miles away, and hauling a trailer with a 1600-gallon tank full of water… that’s a lot of gas consumed.

He’s also spent a couple of nights sleeping in his truck, which has now been remedied through friends offering him a place to sleep here in town. 

And, finally, today brought one of the first signs of our city’s recovery from this catastrophic event.

The main thoroughfare through town has been opened up, for a limited time each day, to alleviate the traffic jams on the bypass around town.  It will open for a couple of hours in the morning, and another couple in the evening, to allow people to get from the north end of town (where I live) to the south end of town (where most of the businesses are).  This is a HUGE step forward for us.

This first picture is of the secondary dike, from the ground level.  I was able to take this while driving, slowly, down Broadway.  It was humbling.

 

And, this is not just a wall of dirt.  This is all that holds 13-15 feet of water away from a good portion of our city.  This wall of clay has protected a huge portion of our city, even though many homes were lost.  This is our Great Wall, holding out the horrors of a river running wild.

And, with the long weekend coming up… this sight almost made me cry.

This flag, just one of many posted up on the Broadway Bridge that spans the Mouse River running right through town, was flapping and fluttering as I drove across the bridge.

It unfurled perfectly, just as I took the picture. 

I am proud to live in Minot, in this city that won’t give up.

I am proud to be from North Dakota, where people that have been gone for years, or just moved here yesterday, or have lived here all their lives, band together in times of trouble to help one another.  And when some from out of state ask “Why did you do that?”  We simply answer… “That’s what we do.  We’re from North Dakota, we help.”

And, on this Independence Day weekend, I am proud to be an American.  This is my home, my city, my state, my country.  And that means something to me that’s hard to put into words.

So here.  Take another look.  A picture’s worth a million words.  Inflation, you know.

One resident's idea of "getting his point across"

The Mouse That Ate My City

My city, Minot, North Dakota, is still dealing with severe, catastrophic flooding from the Souris/Mouse River system.  There are a lot of communities stretching from Canada all the way down the river system, that are being flooded.  This is not just affecting my city, but I can only speak to my own experiences.

My house is outside of the evacuation zone, up at the top of what is known here as “North Hill”.  Nevertheless, we’ve had to plug all our basement drains, to prevent possible sewer backups, we’re now under a “boil order” for our tap water, because of possible contamination in the city’s water treatment system, and there aren’t a lot of facilities available on my hill as far as groceries, so we have to try to conserve everything.  We’re kind of cut off – there being only one route from the North end of town to the South end, and that’s pretty choked with traffic most of the time.  They’re hoping to remedy this soon.

I know that I have been out of touch for a while, with spotty posting, and not a lot of contact with friends/family via phone, facebook, etc.  I’ve been mostly hibernating, waiting, and watching the local news with an almost manic obsession.  *sigh* 

And I know that a lot of people have been displaced here, lost their homes completely.  I’m lucky to still have my home, electricity, internet, etc.  But it’s still hard to cope.  I’m working on it. 

My community has come together like I’ve never seen in all the 12 years I’ve lived here.  I am really proud to live here.  And proud that I was able to help, even in the small way that my kids and I were able on last Thursday, trying to help a local family save their gas station.  And now, for some pictures.

This is just part of the crowd of people that gathered, trying to save the gas station located behind me in this picture.  OnlySon, YoungerDaughter, a friend of YD’s and I worked for 5 hours Thursday afternoon helping them.  The shop shown in the photo…. is under water today.

This picture – is from one of our local tv stations KX News Minot.  You can find them on Facebook, to see even more pictures.  They have a TON of still pictures and videos of Minot and the surrounding areas.  This picture is showing the dike that we worked on, from a tour taken in a Black Hawk helicopter from the local Air Force base here in Minot.  I found out today that there is water inside the dike now, having leaked in from underneath, but it is only up to the countertops inside.  It could have been so much worse, as shown from this photo here.

This is OnlySon’s school.

Right next to the red banner showing the name… that’s the roof of the school’s entrance.  There was a dike built around this school, but it wasn’t high enough to keep out the water.  I have no idea how long it’s going to be before they get the school in any kind of shape to actually have school again this fall.  They’re talking now about the possibility of a later start on the year.  My son’s actually hoping they just skip it altogether.  Not.

This – is supposed to be a picture of the park that I like to go to a lot.

I can’t even tell you that I recognize it just from the picture. 

And…

This church and school are located at the bottom of my hill.  I drive past these two buildings every day on my way to work.

Well, I did.  I won’t be taking this road for a long time.

And one last picture for today.  Just to show you the difference between “wet” and “dry” portions of town…. The dike shown in the picture is our major secondary dike system keeping water off our main thoroughfare through town.  This road, called “Broadway” is closed to regular traffic, to allow the people working on the levee system to work in safer conditions.  The difference is… breathtaking.  This dike?  Is about 18 – 20 feet high from ground level to the top.  The blue/gray buildings in the picture are 2-story apartment buildings.  Just on the “dry” side is Minot State University. 

Thanks to KX News for the pictures with the red banners.