Thursday, December 31, 2009

Straddling the New Year

Well we carried out our wacko plan. More precisely, I helped the children carry out their wacko plan. We rang in the New Year twice.

For anyone who hasn't read the blog since the very beginning, we live very close to the North Dakota line. As it turns out, we live more than very close, we live ON the North Dakota line. While Dad was here he looked up the property description at the county office, and found that the rear of our property directly abuts our neighboring state.

Also for anyone who hasn't read the blog since the very beginning, the children were planning to walk across the line into 2010. Are you kidding? Almost midnight and how many bazillion degrees below zero? In all honesty, during the summertime I didn't see the flaw in walking, either. But sleepy, warm, snuggled in bed at 10:30 pm, the faults were glaring.

So we drove over to the gas pumps, just across the line, and sat there. Devon didn't come, being tired and oh yes, frostbitten (doing superbly, by the way - can't even tell it happened), Jack wasn't insane, so it was just Damon, Tiggy, and me. We sat there for several minutes, till our clock read several minutes after 11 MST, just to be sure, wished each other a happy new year, and drove back into 2009.

The little gravel road that marks our rear property line has the state line running right down the middle of it. So, if you can believe it, we were driving along in both 2009 AND 2010!!! I was in the old year, and the kids were in the new. The car was just confused.

An hour later, the children rang in the new year...again. I snored softly.

Happy New Year!

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Helpful Hints from the Northland

Give the sheriff plenty of time to get there.

Subzero Light Show

First, an update on Earboy: the affected area continues to heal, redder than the surrounding tissue but with excellent capillary refill. Pip pip may keep both his ears...this time.

Christmas lights are a staple of the holiday season across this whole grand country of ours. Still, it should come as no surprise that this area has its own little twist on this favorite mode of decoration. Of course, there are many traditional displays, too, but as you scroll down keep your eyes peeled for...well, just about anything.

A couple weeks ago, we went to a park in Williston, that had been converted into a drive-thru light display. Many of the displays were linked to music being broadcast from wee little FM channels, right there in the park.

At $5 a car, it was one of the few paid attractions I've seen in this area in any season. Some of the museums charge admission, but you wouldn't believe how many places are just plain free.

Plentywood had some very competitive light-putter-uppers, including one on the main street that had their own lights coordinated with their radio broadcast, just like at the Williston show, only it was a house. The kids made sure we remembered to put the radio on 88.9 FM every time we drove past. Maybe by next year I can post a video of that one.

One family went all-out, decorating every square inch of their whole property, front, back, and sideways.

And this one here, ok I have to admit to a bit of a camera glitch. If it had really looked like this, it would have been overkill

by any standards. "And right here in our own Plentywood, we have a man-made display of the famed Aurora borealis!"

As for the last two pictures, they could definitely go under the heading, "Only in Montana."

Whether you're an enthusiastic recycler - even more than Tina and me put together, or just wanted to hitch a reindeer up to an old horse-drawn road grader for kicks, Montana is the place for you.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Helpful Hints from the Northland

Contact the Snowplow Guy right away.

He has to put all that snow somewhere, and where better than in front of every unoccupied house in town? Once a new resident is there, he promises to put those huge piles of snow somewhere else. Where, I'm not exactly sure.

Yellow Birthday

Tiggy turned 11, and we had a happenin' birthday party. It was yellow. Macaroni, corn, garlic bread, lemonade, and probably some other yellow things I've forgotten by now.

We ate the cake, lemon of course, elegantly decorated by the birthday girl, then she and I took a walk down to get the mail after dark. Woo-hoo! Party animals!

On the way home, we stopped off in the front ditch so she could show me the snow cave they'd been digging. I was definitely impressed, and even more so when they continued to dig it out after subsequent storms covered it over. Over and over and over again.

It's still down there somewhere.


Helpful Hints from the Northland

Don't leave your soda cans in the car.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Why You Know You Aren't In California Any More #1

1. You look at the stars. First of all, you can see them. That's different. They're all wrong, too. None of the constellations are where they belong - some are nearly upside down, and you're pretty sure a few are backwards. Then you can't find the North Star...till you realize it's overhead.

Yes, Toto, you aren't in California any more.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Know You Aren't In California Any More #2

2. "Frizzle" is an actual, official weather term, not just something you did to your hair with a bad blow dryer.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Pip pip, the Naughty One-Eared Chicken

Eric B. Hare, a missionary to Burma back in the early 1900's, told the story of Pip pip, the naughty chicken. Pip pip lived in the jungle with his family, and always disobeyed his mother. When she cluck-clucked for him to come, he would say, "Pip-pip-pip-pip-pip, I'm a big chicken now! I don't have to obey my mother."

Always he was the first one out of the coop in the morning, and the last one into it at night. Day after day, despite repeated warnings, he continued his independent and disobedient behavior. And then one fateful day, he waited too long to return. By the time he got to the coop, the door was locked up tight, and he couldn't get in. The next morning, Mr. Hiss the snake could be seen nearby with a conspicuous lump in his belly.

And no more Naughty Pip pip.

We went to eat dinner with friends today, braving blowing snow and serious wind chills of -30 to get there. After a lovely meal, the kids wanted to help feed the lambs, and take a few slides on the snow saucer thingys. Not all of them had brought every single item of winter clothing they would need, so our friends kindly gathered hats and mittens for them. Most straightly we warned them, as we always do when wind chills are so severe, that they must not set foot outside without the proper coverings. So they all went out in compliance, though not without several arguments from Devon.

A little while later, they came back in. Damon and Tiggy stayed, but Devon went back out shortly. A few minutes later, Jack noticed Devon's borrowed hat and mittens sitting on the counter by the microwave.

Just as I reached the back door to call the disobedient little troll in for a good scolding, in he walked. The good news, I suppose, is that now I know I can recognize frostbite at a glance. Skin turned white, check, frozen solid and hard, check. A stretch along the folded rim of his outer ear (helix) was completely rigid.

He cried through our hasty efforts to warm his ear back up. As with any frostbite, only time will tell how severe the permanent damage is, and it's bound to look very ugly before it gets better. All I can hope is that, whether he loses a piece of his ear or not, that his listening skills improve.

If not, my hair will be snowy-white by spring.

Please - no more adventures for a while,
Noni Beth

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We Remember

December 24, 2002, 8 months pregnant Laci Peterson was reported missing. Not quite four months later, she and her son, Conner, were found dead in the same area her husband, Scott, was known to have gone fishing around the time she disappeared.

Scott Peterson is now on death row in San Quentin State Prison.

Laci and Conner are buried in a peaceful cemetery in Escalon, CA, not far from where we went to church. They are not forgotten - not by their grieving families, and not by the millions of lives they touched.

Right around the corner from our home was a touching memorial to a teen named Justin, killed several years ago by a hit-and-run driver. On a sign posted to the cross, his mother still pleads for "Justice for Justin". The driver who took that young man's life has never been found.

It would never be possible for a mere human to catalogue the pain and suffering that so often seems worst during the holidays - the broken family circles, the lives changed forever by loss. As we go through a time of year that, for most of us, is brimming with goodwill and cheer, let us be sure to remember those mourning for their loved ones, and to pray that we, too, will be ready for that glorious reunion when death is no more, and peace reigns forever.

In Memoriam,
Noni Beth

Put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
Psalm 56:8

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Why You Know You Aren't In California Any More #3

3. You find that, in many places, the lines on the road are imaginary until spring. No worries, just follow the tracks. Right down the middle of the road.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Muroidea on the Loose!

Living out in the country, mice are common. Even for those who have lots and lots and lots of cats are likely to have a few persistent fellas who migrate in out of the fields, drawn by tales of the Great Food Rush of 18.049. (Mouse years are much shorter than ours.) Those who have cat-killing dogs have an uphill battle with mice. Not that I ever knew anyone like that.

What is not so common, far from the cities and landfills, is the large muroid, Rattus rattus: the rat. Somehow Tina, even with her plethora of cats, has acquired one in her garage. (To head off scientific corrections before they start, let me say that it is possible that her new resident is a member of Rattus norvegicus. However, in the presence of an eyewitness - however unreliable - alleging that the rodent is black, I have opted for the likelier choice of Rattus rattus.)

Now, we like rats. Growing up, we had them for pets. They were funny, intelligent, and very, very loving. They rode everywhere on our shoulders. Once I even accidentally took one with me to choir practice. There was an extra rehearsal coming up on a performance, and I totally forgot about the baby rat curled up asleep in my Special Womanpurse. That is, until my bosom began heaving quite independently right in the middle of a song.

So this new rat was more a source of curiosity than panic. Of course it did eat Grandpa's Christmas present, but people who store peanuts in a garage known to have a large rodent inside have to expect things like that to happen. Tina has even good-naturedly teased her children about having their toes nibbled in the night, ha ha.

The other morning, as Tina got up to take her shower, Laura was still fast asleep. Creeping over to the bed, Tina reached under the covers at the foot of the bed and began to pinch Laura's feet. Pinch, pinch. Pinch. Pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch. Will this child never wake up? Pinch, pinch, pinch.

At last her efforts bore fruit. Laura sprang awake with a roaring shriek.


I'd have a picture for you, if only Tina had taken one.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Why You Know You Aren't In California Any More #4

4. Here, the good children get coal in their stockings.

Oh Shenandoah

Oh, Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
And hear your rolling river,
Oh Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
Away, I'm bound away,
Across the wide Missouri.

Today's fast fact about the above folk song: no one is sure where it came from, exactly. (And Montana may not have the Shenandoah Valley, but it has a very long stretch of the Missouri, currently frozen.) This song probably came from the riverboatment originally, though it was also sung by escaped and escaping slaves, grateful that the river would hide their scent.

As with most pictures of Devon, here he is just about to get in trouble. Again. "But Mom, there isn't any water here. It's all frozen!" "Ok, Devon Smartypants, where exactly does the water begin?" "Uh, I dunno." "EXACTLY! NOW GET OFF THE ICE!!!"

He's very fortunate to have a talented mom who can take photographs and scold at the same time.

Last week was sure busy. We were still practicing for the school Christmas program, and then on Thursday I played dinner music for the Garden Club in Plentywood. At last at long last Tina and I can find out whose houses are nominated for Best Garden each month during the summer. Why not during the winter? That's what I'd like to know. Surely there is someone willing to tackle the challenge of creating a beautiful winter garden, heavily relying on a white color scheme. No, I'm not volunteering.

The music all went well, except for one little part, when I sang Chestnuts Roasting O'er an Open Fire. Being the semi-efficient sort of person that I am, I had stopped off at the bank to make copies of it on the way there, so I wouldn't have to turn pages. (Everyone makes their copies at the bank - didn't you know that?) Of course I sang quietly so as not to disturb the bustling conversation, but by the third note they had shushed each other into silence. That way they were able to hear far too well when I got to the bottom of the first page and found that I had chopped off the bottom part of the music. Oops, and the second page, too.

In for a penny, in for a pound. I plunged courageously through, telling myself that those chords were meant to be kinda jazzy anyway. And boy, were they! For some reason I opted not to take the repeat.

Friday, the kids and I spent the whole day driving a giant loop through North Dakota and back into Montana. First was Alexander, ND. It was a whopping 15 degrees there, and we thought spring had come. That part of the trip was where we crossed the wide Missouri, stopping at the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, or something like that.

There's a bunch of Lewis-and-Clark-named stuff here, as you'd expect, but nothing like Prince Edward Island. I took the kids when they were very small, and EVERYTHING there is named for some Lucy Maude Montgomery story. The Anne of Green Gables Windy Poplars Toilet Paper might have been over the top.

Speaking of Poplar, as we passed through that town, I was surprised to see an old paddleboat sitting beside the road. Once a ferry on the Missouri, it now graces the front yard of the Poplar Museum, formerly known as the Fort Peck Tribal Jail. It doesn't open till June, so until then I won't be able to see the cells, now filled with saleable Native American artwork. I read that the names of some of the prisoners are still scratched into the walls.

On to Wolf Point, up to Scobey, and at last...east, south, north, west, north, east, home is best. I'm almost sure that's how the poem went.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Why You Know You Aren't In California Any More #6

6. The houses have names. When someone asks you, "Where do you live?", you don't give them the address. You tell them, "I live in the old Johannsen place."

There, I did it! I thought of one more thing that didn't have anything to do with freezing weather! Funny, but I could come up with a lot more of those in the summertime.

Oops, I did it. I turned even this into a post about the temperature.

Troll, The Ancient Yuletide Carol

It's always so hard to pick just one, but this year a movie-imitating late-comer has scooped up this year's nomination for Yuletide Troll, 2009. I was so sure Devon was going to win, too.

We'll get to that in a bit. Wintertime in the Frozen Northland is quite an experience. Just when we were getting used to the outlandish 15-30 degree weather, (-9 to -1 for all you Celsius people), the temperature plummeted. It was bad enough when our highs weren't even getting above freezing. Now, our highs are doing good to get above zero. At all. In fact, this coming Sabbath they're predicting a high of -9 (-23C).

The other morning I went out in -24 weather that, with the wind chill factor, felt like -38. (Which, oddly enough, is -38.888888888C. I guess that's about where the two scales cross paths.) It wasn't really any worse than the other stuff. I could get used to this, eventually.

The local elves put up the Christmas decorations around town. I'm going to have to keep trying to get a good picture, since I'm finding that my camera is rather sluggish about focusing in extreme weather.

All three kids warble carols day and night. Two of them even know the words. One of Devon's favorite songs is We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and he always has such a hard time remembering the word "kin". He knows it means family, so he substitutes other words in when he needs to, which is most of the time. "Chill-dren" and "kill-dren" are his new favorites.

All three kids have also been making tiny snow angels wherever we go. Hey, there's only so much you can do with 1/2 inch of snow. And on the other blog, there's a picture of Devon making snow angels ~ in the road! ~ right before I hemmed him up. He's sure glad there was no "after" picture...

People around here really believe in their heat. I had kinda expected that, since it was so cold outside, everyone would keep their houses, oh, say about 50 degrees. Nope, everybody so far keeps it quite warm, and some downright tropical. We seem to keep our house cooler than average, being more used to the mild California winters and lower heat settings. Kinda ironic.

So, the Yuletide Troll 2009 award. It belongs to an anonymous local child. We'll call her Lindsay. Having just watched that horrible Christmas classic, A Christmas Story, she had expressed curiosity to her mother as to whether tongues will really freeze to metal in the wintertime. Lindsay's mother assured her that yes, they most definitely would, and to NOT TRY IT! It had not worked out well for her big brother, or anyone else, either.

Lindsay was still curious. Very, very, curious. She went over to visit my niece, and talked to her about it. Now they were both curious. What would happen? Would it really work? What to do, what to do? At last, they reached a decision. Scientific inquiry must be satisfied.

"Oh Little Brooooooother," my niece called.

A few minutes later, my sister-in-law was startled by her hysterical daughter screaming, "Help, help, help! Bubba's got his tongue stuck to the pole! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!"

What followed wasn't pretty. Let's just say that, even yet, the pole bears mute testimony of my little nephew's struggle against nature. You can also see why Lindsay was a shoo-in, even going up against such a formidable competitor as the Asphalt Angelmaker. My niece won Best Supporting Troll, and Devon, for the first time in his life, dropped into third place. He's going to have to get back on his game if he wants to have a chance to regain his supremacy by 2010.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Friday, December 4, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Why You Know You Aren't In California Any More #7

7. You walk outside to leave, forgetting the windshield is icy. No problem, you push the washer button. Nothing happens. At 10 degrees, your fluid is frozen. Right. You go inside, get a large cup of cold water and pour it on the windshield. Before you can turn on the wipers, it freezes into an even thicker sheet of ice. Nice.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009