We Come From the Land of the Ice and Snow


It’s snowing right now, a fine light powder that is steady and unrelenting. I plowed a path along the driveway to push the garbage can to the curb. It filled back in within an hour. The weather services have been warning that this snow with get wetter and slicker. And that’s a problem.

My wife had a medical appointment today in Minot. That’s approximately 90+ miles. The Family Truckster could deal with that but the problem is the return trip would be driving on slippery roads. Slippery roads infested with southern-born meth addicts driving enormous trucks as fast as they can. So Carjo called the doctor’s office and got them to reschedule. They had no counter to our argument. We’ll stay home, unpacking more of my mother-in-law’s discards and watching the snow pile up. Two of the cats ventured out and didn’t last long. Sansa even had to climb on my chest to warm up once she came back inside, her fur flecked with snowflakes.

I’ll get back to work on converting the old prologue of my book into a short story. It’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever written but it’s workable. And it certainly beats sliding across the highway, nails digging into the steering wheel.

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Staggering Across the Goal Line

North Dakota - Cavalier County 2009

On Friday we drove to Bismarck for one last assault on cleaning out my mother-in-law’s apartment. She’s now in assisted living, six blocks away from her old place. It’s reassuring to see her there, getting the care and attention she needs, three square meals a day, and a resident cat in the room next to her. She’ll do fine there.

Thanks to my cousin JC and my childhood friend we’ll call The Railroad Man, we managed to move her couch down four flights of stairs, onto a pickup, and into her new place. It was a bitch for three guys whose backs are all over the age of fifty five but we got it done. Say what you want about middle-aged men, we get the job done. The couch is in place, my wife hung pictures and arranged things, and MiL’s new digs look presentable.

Her former place was a mess. I would estimate that in a day and a half we must have tossed at least fifteen bags of what my MiL couldn’t part with but my wife considered trash. The Family Truckster is stuffed with what we didn’t move into the assisted living place ranging from an old hard hat to family photos to TV trays and on and on. It was exhausting to deal with all of this in a short period of time but we managed to do a satisfactory job. The church my friend and my cousin go to have been helping people who move here for the oil boom with just the clothes on their backs. They’ll take the bed and dresser to give to someone that doesn’t have one. Last week my cousin delivered an old love seat to a family that did not have a single thing to sit on in the living room of their apartment. So that bed will go to good use. We left the apartment in a mess but MiL assured us that Maintenance in her senior complex will deal with it. It left a bad taste in our mouths but we had no choice.

We left Bismarck well after supper time last night and pulled into our driveway a little after eleven pm. My wife went to bed. I unloaded only the essentials from the Truckster. This afternoon my wife is taking a nap with cats and I’m at my laptop. My arms and shoulders are tight but at least my back is OK. The left foot is swollen and just got back to a normal color. It’ll be a few days before I attempt getting on the treadmill.

I look out my living room window and the wind is strong, blowing around the snow we got a couple hours ago. I don’t regret driving home last night. My body will recover. My wife’s spirit will recover. But I think I’ll be a vigilant watchdog in making sure I don’t collect a ton of crap that my nephew has to deal with when I’m gone. He’ll thank me later.

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The Road Goes Ever On


This week I put a pair of running shoes on. I haven’t been able to do that since the accident. The left foot has been swollen to at least a couple sizes bigger and all I’ve worn is oversize sandals and slippers. Getting my old shoes on again, even for a few hours, was a significant triumph. Not to mention it’s winter now and I need something on my feet when I go outside. I also need something on my feet when I start exercising.

See, we got our treadmill fixed today. It developed this annoying habit of pausing without warning and then starting up again. This is annoying in that it throws the person walking or running on it into a wall. You don’t want that. So it’s been out of commission for a few months.

Because we are in such a rural area, getting service on something like this is difficult. We did have the foresight to get an extended warranty from Sears when we bought it and this is the second time that has paid off. The repair guys live in a small town in eastern Montana that is a hundred and seventy miles away from here but hey, Sears pays the gas so who cares. They ordered parts after talking to me on the phone and making a guess as to what the problem might be. Then came very long wait for the parts to come in. Yesterday I got a call that they got what they need and someone would be here the next morning. Hallelujah.

When the guy showed up today, he replaced the big switchboard in the guts of the treadmill because that was a lot easier than replacing the motor. And that indeed turned out to be the problem. He tightened the belt which was very loose and we cleaned out what the cats had managed to get stuck inside it. The repair man and I got it maneuvered back into place on its rubber mat and we’re ready to go. Carjo had this dream of moving this beast out of her office and to the downstairs but I think that can wait until this spring. Even with the top portion and legs off, the bottom section weighs about three hundred pounds. Yeah, it can definitely wait until spring.

I have not had much exercise since breaking my ankle. A recent visit to the doctors office confirmed that I have gained a lot of weight in the interim and that’s not good at my age. But I just got on the treadmill and found out that I can achieve a decent pace. So from here on out it’s a little bit every other day until I can get up to doing a couple miles. Maybe by then I can switch to running. Cross your fingers for me.

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Foggy Mental Breakdown

I’m feeling a little groggy today. I had a severe bout of insomnia last night and I don’t think I got a wink until at least four am. My mind just kept racing but it wasn’t behaving in a coherent enough manner for me to actually sit at my computer and try to write.

Part of this is of course my ADHD. Some times my brain just will not rest no matter how tired I am. When I used to be on meds I would hit this crash point at the end of the day and fall asleep. So tonight I will resort to a solid dose of Zzzquil. We’re doing more on that “moving family member to assisted living” project in a few days and I need to be alert and somewhat cognitive for that. Note the use of the word somewhat. I’m always a little foggy. That just goes with the ADHD territory.

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When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth

Led Zeppelin MSG 1973

Found this great photo in an article about Jimmy Page’s new autobiography/photo collection. I still don’t know if I’ll get this book, it’s about fifty bucks and funds are tight right now. They always are this time of year. Now the Zeppelin reissues are another matter. I get those the week of release. The bonus tracks are OK. I’m not much for studio outtakes. But the live album that accompanied LZ I was just raw muscle and grit. No wonder they had such a reputation for destroying headliners when they were starting out.

We won’t see these days again, where music defined a generation. Now the audience is too divided, caught up in different mediums (like games) and social networking or smart phones. The music market is hopelessly fragmented and the news of an album going gold or platinum is a rarity. That used to be a common occurrence.

I’m not trying to get a “get off my lawn” guy about this. To each generation their own. Then again…our music was WAY better because it was all we had and it mattered.

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Caturday is for Sleeping In


This morning the actual temperature is zero with a “feels like” reading of minus fifteen. One of the young cats pleaded to go out. Carjo indulged the idiot and then let him right back in again. Arya is watching sparrows and chickadees from the windows of the man cave. But Sneakers and Jasper prefer to dream of summer days.

Me, I’m going to continue hacking away at this short story and then I’ll watch the Bison game. Tomorrow we get to have winds of thirty to forty mph. Yeah, we’re all staying inside. Have a good weekend.

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Gets a Little Cold on the Foot Pads

P1010186This is Sansa taking some baby steps outside. The three cats most accustomed to going outside are still a bit frustrated by the appearance of January weather in mid-November. They see the sun is shining and hey, it must be nice out. Actual “feels like” temperature at this moment is a frosty one above.

Apparently “Feels Like” is a combination of the heat index and the wind chill indicators. I don’t know if it is more accurate than the old wind chill charts but my brief exposure out there did indeed feel like it was around zero. Zero is cold. It’s not bitter cold, which I figure is about fifteen below or lower. My sister-in-law referred to it in an email as ass-bite cold. I can see the logic in that. An unprotected ass would surely be bitten in such weather.

The image I am using on my PC for my desktop features a young woman standing on the second rail of a corral, somewhere in the front range of the Rockies. There is about a half foot of snow on the ground. For aesthetic purposes, she is not wearing pants. Which proves it’s all about acclimation. What feels cold in November becomes temperate in January. Sansa might come scrambling back in now after five minutes outside but when it’s about zero in January that might mean half an hour outside. A strong woman of the American West might freeze her booty in November but come a January thaw, she might be compelled to bare her buns to the breeze. Just the same, I’ll keep mine inside until at least May.

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