Monday, June 29, 2009

A Squat Is Not a Hunker

More than a century ago, the first would-be settlers arrived in this region, most often by wagon. Sig Nelson is worthy of mention as the first recorded resident of this area, after he drove his herd of cattle in from the Minot, ND area in 1903.

On the North Dakota side, homesteading went fine and dandy. Folks hunkered down on their 320 acre claims and got right to pioneering. Homesteading wasn't legalized in Montana until 1908, so on this side of the line everyone squatted. Until they could hunker.

Squatting - if you illegally occupy land or space that doesn't belong to you, still goes on today, all over the world. An estimated 1 in 7 people worldwide still squat. Back in the days of Westward Expansion, the government overlooked the illegal part, because they badly wanted to settle the West. Since it benefitted them, the government was happy to recognize many squatters as homesteaders.

Mom will be very interested to know that some of the early homesteaders around here stayed during the summer, and quietly departed for the wintertime, thus making turn-of-the-century snowbirds. Mom won't blame them one bit - there's something about 60 and 70 below that really shivers her timbers.

The harsh winters (major understatement) are why I haven't been having enough fun to blog about the last week or so. As with most of the older houses, our paint (pink, yay) is badly flaking. Or at least it WAS badly flaking until I devoted my whole life to scraping away the flakes so we could paint.

We wanted to get it done quickly anyway, but since our homeowners insurance canceled till it's painted, it's urgent for more reasons than simply the fear of giving aesthetic offense to our neighbors. The more I've scraped, the more there's been to scrape, and it all has to be done by hand. One miserable square inch at a time.

Yesterday we started painting, but found that 5 gallons of paint wasn't going to be nearly enough. So after we went to sing at the rest home, and after our friends from church took us out for a fun dinner in honor of our 13th anniversary, and after we couldn't possibly have held one more bite of anything, we went to Wal Mart to get some more paint.

Our quest was doomed from the beginning. On the bright side, I know way more than I want to about "light base," "accent base," "medium base," etc. etc. etc. They didn't have any of the right base to match my beautiful Lemon Grass pale yellow color, so we decided to try the next lightest on the same color card, Custard. Interior instead of exterior. Oops, but at least it wasn't my fault.

The only base left that we could get a couple buckets of was light base. Oddly enough, light base is used for the brightest colors. Think Las Vegas. The only yellow colors I could have gotten made my eyes hurt. Such catchy names as "Buttercup." "Bright Tulip." "Banana Peel." And my personal favorite, "Taxicab."

My friend said I should have picked Taxicab, because it would be so easy to give directions to the house. Yeah, look for the towering glow that reaches to outer space and is frequently mistaken for the Northern Lights. That's us. Can't miss it.

Time to think outside the box. "What do you have in green?" The green choices, though vivid, were still heaps tamer than the yellows. We went with Summer Ivy. Had I been in charge of names, I probably would have called it Wild Mint, but no one asked me. And not being psychedelic was a real plus.

Sadly, the house at this moment is still white and pink and turquoise and brown, since the paint sprayer decided it didn't like me. To add insult to injury, tut tut it looks like rain. Speaking of...the front windows just rattled from a blast of thunder! WOW!!! If only I could see the lightning, but no. My windows are all covered with thick brown paper. Hey, I could always go sit out in the yard in a metal lawn chair. Or maybe not. I know! I'll sit here and watch the storm online!

It beats scraping by a long shot.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

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