Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Willyland

So here it is.. Winter!  When we arrived in February it was -45* and snowing.  I swear it didn't bother me in the least! It helped that I couldn't wait to get through the 1600 miles of rainy and snowy roads during a terrible storm the entire way!!! Not to mention all of us wanting to get out of the car that had 4 kids and 2 cats in it.  Snow Drifts everywhere and it was cold, cold cold. 

Now on the first day of snow, I turn into a basket case.  A little snow accumulates on the ground and I can't function!  I drove home from work, white knuckles, radio off, heater on high and defroster going!  OMG I was a mess. I cancelled plans to have dinner with a friend because I was afraid of the conditions...Hello, I have 3 or 4 more months of this... I cant just shut down and go from work to home and vice versa! Right?!

So now I am forcing myself to embrace it, easier said than done... my hair is full of static, my skin is dry and flaky and I have NO idea how to dress.  Some mornings are below zero and some would say cold is cold, is it really any different if it is below zero?  OH YES this girl will tell you the difference.  Your car does not want to start, and if it does it takes forever to warm up.  I started my car (and poor Daisy whined for 10 minutes, much like the kids when they don't want to get up for school) 20 minutes before I was to leave for work.  Threw my jacket, in the back seat with the mittens, hat and scarf in the pocket and started on my way.  Thinking the heater is going to kick in any minute!  UUUH NO! I traveled for an additional 20 minutes and it was like driving with the AC on.  I was a human Popsicle when I got to work.  Friggin Freezing! But on a day it was 3*, I started the car 10 minutes before I left and by the time I was ready to leave the heater had already kicked in when I headed out.  There is a big difference in the above and below zero temps!  You don't want to head out without emergency supplies because you never know that you might break down or have an accident.  You could easily be in a life or death situation if you get stuck in the snow! 

The wind here is brutal! There are days that the wind chill adds an additional -20 degrees! So the temp might be -8 but the wind chill brings it to a "feels like" -28 temperature.  You find many people speak very differently, than in other areas, about the weather in a conversation.  You hear alot about  'feels like' temps and the 'wind chill'.  But honestly... it is just effing cold! 

So here I am embracing it, well actually bracing for it, today it is going to be 32*, I caught myself saying to someone that it was a beautiful day!  I guess it is all relative! With this warm weather maybe all this white stuff will melt...I crack myself up!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

When in Williston do as the Willys do!

It is getting chilly here and I have no idea how to adjust!  In Rancho Mirage CA, it was 85* at 9am the other day.  Williston, 9* at 7:30am, pitch dark and still...we see our breath in the air and have to start the car at least 15 minutes before you head to town. Do that or stand outside in the freezing cold and scrape all your windows! 

Logan my oldest HATES the cold, he now knows if I don't get that car started he is out there doing the scraper.  Thank goodness we have the auto start on the car...Being from California I had NO idea what good this function was!  ...I have started saying "Defrost Activate" and press the button on the car remote and Daisy (the Durango) is toasty warm when we get inside!  Love this feature! Sheila the Rover doesn't have this and having to traipse through the snow and start the car was not my favorite thing to do that's for sure!!!!

It still hasn't snowed yet so it is a little strange to me that it is 'tongue stick to the flagpole' cold but you look out the window and it looks like it should be 60*...Now there are days it warms up to a beautiful 55* blue skies and sunny, there are others that it is Cyclone windy and you need gloves, Parka, hat and face cover just to get to your vehicle, the locals are all bundled up but this Cali Girl still isn't quite embracing the Chilly Willy state of mind! 

They dry air is turning us all into flaky people...I don't mean the type of people who don't show up for appointments... But our skin is such a mess.  The only thing in the world that helps is Grateful Garden Pure Shea Butter.  But man oh man, I have no idea how the farmers or oil workers can stand the chapped cracked skin.  You gotta slather your body with moisturizer to get through the day.

I am embracing the cold this year.  I am a little worried about the driving aspect of it but what the hell, When in Williston do as the Willys do.  Drive slow and let the car stop on its own.  If you end up in the ditch, just drive out the other side (and have a tow strap, just in case) Don't go out, unless you have to, or you are out of wine. Hope for a "beautiful day" one that is above zero.

Most of all, don't let it get to you, enjoy the adventure, you never know what might happen next!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gastromical Delights in Williston

I thought I would update everyone on the changes in beautiful Williston.  First and foremost, I am enjoying every single minute here.  I have never had the enjoyment of seasons.  When Spring "thaw" happened (I have never EVER referred to spring as a thaw) it was like the prairie came to life.  We had NO idea we had so many children in the hood.  It was like someone set out a picnic and the ants came running.  Kids on bikes, Moms with strollers and of course the young studs on their dirt bikes flying down our street heading to the "hills".  (The Hills are a big pile of fill dirt from the basements they have dug out of our subdivision.)  Guys take their jeeps and trail bikes out there and get muddy!   There were people everywhere!  Funny how during the wind and snow everyone goes from their cars to their houses and vice versa!  Its like everyone says when they get out of their car "Heads down everyone...get inside, Go go go!"

The nice months are the only time people have to get their main building done.  During this Summer we had some new eatery's open.  I am a self described foodie and love a good meal!  In turn I have created little foodies who know the difference between a mediocre meal out and a gastronomical delight!  We also like to have great ambiance when we go out.  We are not looking for a Wham bam Thank You Ma'am meal.  We like to enjoy our surroundings, as well as go with our friends to enjoy these places with them. 

We had a few new restaurants open here, and in my book that is reason to celebrate...

"Basil" is in walking distance of my office and they have amazing Sushi and Sashimi,  You can't go wrong with anything on this Asian Cuisine Menu.  Yes I said it...I am eating sushi in a land locked state.  But I also know what day they get delivery, and have researched their supplier and I am not concerned about getting, the least bit ill, from the food. 

"Williston Brewing Company"...This has been needed here for a long time.  The Decor, fabulous, the proof is in the details, from the Main door handles that are replica antique Rifles, to the light fixture that has been constructed from amber beer bottles and make up the lighting at the bar seating area.  A lovely stone fireplace gives you the visual and physical warmth required here!  Delicious!  Everything we have had there is so very good.  I love having a little craft beer every once in a while and it brings us both back to being a little homesickness!  Every Monday was Beer appreciation night when we lived in Cali, We would enjoy the local brewery and new beers on tap during happy hour at home... As an aside restaurants and bars don't need to offer Happy Hour... ever... because it is busy every minute of every day in Williston. Burgers are incredible and if you want a great steak this is the place to have one.

"Doc Holidays" is another Steakhouse with a small bar but a very inviting atmosphere.  It seems like you have more families that head here than the other new restaurants.  It has a smaller menu and the staff just keeps up but if time isn't an issue I would at least try the food.   It is really cute and has a little Stuart Anderson Black Angus feel to it. 

We keep our eye out for anything new and have been lucky enough to visit these new places during their soft openings and have been loyal customer since!

When going out to dinner (or any meal for that matter) in Williston expect to pay a little more than you would in other NoDak small towns.  With the Oil Boom you have to pay your employees (especially service people are hard to keep) alot more than minimum wage per hour and even in some cases supply them with housing or affordable housing to get them to stay!  It is a different world here and it is reflected in the cost of living.  I refer to Williston as the Manhattan of NoDak because everything is so busy and the prices of many things remind me of the City.  You see it across the board, groceries, eating out and real estate to name a few...but that is the subject for another day!  I am starving now, I am going to visit one of my favorite foodie finds now! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Boomtown Family Williston Nd from Palm Trees to Prairie Pipelines: Celebrate with me! Its my Birthday!

Boomtown Family Williston Nd from Palm Trees to Prairie Pipelines: Celebrate with me! Its my Birthday!: So it is my Birthday...Yes I know it explains alot!  Born on Halloween, Red Hair, the whole package!  I celebrate the whole entire month of ...

Celebrate with me! Its my Birthday!

So it is my Birthday...Yes I know it explains alot!  Born on Halloween, Red Hair, the whole package!  I celebrate the whole entire month of October, yes the whole thing!  I was never really like this until later in life. 

Some times it takes an event to make you realize how blessed you are.  Many of us run around taking everything for granted...when I was 33 I found out I was adopted, it's a long story, but it was a surprise.   In true Redhead fashion I was pissed, very angry.  I think I went through all of the emotions you go through with grief.  It took me a long time to come to terms with the whole thing, but in hindsight it was a good thing and helped me stop and take a second look at things! 

What I did finally come to realize, is that my birthday is a very special day, a day for celebration!!!  I was chosen by my parents to become their child and a part of our family that was already 6 people, and I am sure quite chaotic.  I wasn't planned or thought out, There was never the discussion is the timing right?  ...I had 2 brothers and 2 sisters at the time.  I was the gift on that special day, to them.  I was one of the luckiest people in the world!  If I would have been kept by my biological mother I would not have had the blessed and gifted life I was given.  She was a 16 year old twin, the father went off to Vietnam and never returned and her parents were very hard working people who were struggling to make ends meet for their family of 4.  A baby, much less a grand baby, was not in the big picture for them.  I firmly believe that if I weren't given up for adoption I would have very possibly ended up in the system anyway!

I was never able to tell either of my parents Thank you!  Thank you for always making me feel like I was special. Thank you for giving me everything I ever wanted and more. Thank you for being loving but stern parents. Most of all Thank you for making me believe I could do ANYTHING.  I was taught at a very young age that whatever I wanted to do or be, I could make happen.  It didn't matter what, I could do it, and I am still testing that theory!  (And pushing the envelope at times)

My  Dad was my biggest fan, and I in turn was his.  I remember walking in parades for him yelling "Minney for Mayor" and he was always there for each and every crowning at my beauty pageants. He always made me feel loved.  There was always a warm smile for me and a definite pride I could see in his eyes.  I stood in the passenger seat visiting job sites on Saturdays as a young girl.  I ate on blueprints because there was always a new project to be bid.  He taught me that I could do anything a man could do, and maybe even do it better!  His laugh, infectious and even a little silly but he had a great sense of humor!  My Dad loved to take us out water skiing and that was the ONLY time in my entire life that I was happy to get up at ski glass in Lake Havasu... just he and I.  I am only sorry he didn't get to meet my babies.  24 hours before Logan was born he passed, I think it was so he could grab Logan on his way out and sit down on some park bench in the clouds and tell Logan all of my secrets and the best way to push my buttons.  I swear I see a little more of my Dad in him each year!  My Dad even knew when Ray and I dated in High School that "I should have never let him get away" and when we went on a date 10 years later I never let go!  I am the epitome of Daddy's little girl, in my world Father knows best!

My Mom spent every waking moment doing something for us kids.  She was the driving force behind our family, and a force to be reckoned with.  I know where I got my strength from, she was never ever exhibited and ounce of weakness.  I drew from that everyday and know that I am the woman I am today because of it.  She spent most of her days running me across the "wash" to dance class, or slumber parties or to Catherine's house to hang out and have Paprikash.  My Mom always made sure I had a dinner plate made after dance and would sit with me while I ate because everyone was already done. She was able to meet my babies very briefly...I know they wish they had more time to get to know her.  But they do know that my Mom molded me into the opinionated, resilient, fierce, saucy woman and mom I am today.

I did find out later that my parents spent the early part of their youth as foster parents.  During this journey in their lives they were blessed with meeting my sister Debi, that is when they transitioned from foster parents to adoptive parents.  If you are keeping score my siblings were : Danny biological (deceased 1991) Debi, adopted (63) Donna,biological (60) David (deceased 2010) Me adopted (44) Dana, biological (42) 

I take today and offer it up to the Birthday Gods!  I hope that there is some little soul out there that needs a family and that they are as blessed, loved and delivered to a parents that give them as charmed a life as I have had. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bloggers sharing their N.D. oil patch experiences : Energy News

Bloggers sharing their N.D. oil patch experiences : Energy News

Job Search in NoDak Challenges and Suggestions *Have a Plan*

I didnt realize what a responsibility a Blog was!  I have been trying to juggle Work, Life, Family, Politics and a host of other things that get in the way of me expressing myself.  I will do better and try to keep you all better informed and updated!  I love hearing comments so feel free to comment all you want.  I am going to get that other youTube video up one of these days too!  I have some strong feelings when it comes to just dropping everything and moving to NoDak without a Masterplan! 

Yes it is exciting being a part of the BOOM!  We are very lucky to be getting in on the ground floor of all of the novelty.  With growth there is challenges, be prepared for taxed services.  Some don't think about the big picture and take what money they have and jump in thier cars or on the train and head on out to the mecca of jobs... Some dont have the luxury of planning ahead and getting everything lined out, This might be the last ditch effort to try to get out of the unemploymetn cycle... It is not easy and it takes a little research and planning.  Try to do as much as you can BEFORE you head to Chilly Willy!

Some of the most helpful hints are:  Do your best to find housing.  Some companies will not even look at your app or resume if you dont have housing   Make sure you can pass a background check.  For insurance purposes some companies will NOT hire you if you have a criminal background. Make sure your driving record is clean.  If you have a DUI your chances are much slimmer of getting employment right away.  Many Companies ask that you drive their company vehicles, a clean drug test and driving record is a must in these situations. 

There are some good people out there looking for a change and a great job.  Employment isnt immediate.  Many large companies are NOT just looking for that warm body to take that position, lesson learned, they want those who are looking to make this their community, with staying power.  It is expensive to train and hire people, assure them that you are looking to be here for a while. 

 I am including some helpful websites to assist in the job search.  Many of these you have jobs listings that would be great for both men and women.,-Llc-jobs , Bakken Staffing,,  Dont forget to visit the websites for the City and the County.  Both Entities are loking for good people and may not pay as much as the "Oil Patch jobs" but the benefits/ retirement etc are worth the difference in pay. 

Williston welcomes the workforce, but I can see now that I have been here for 7 months how the transient nature of the workforce makes you a little cynical.  It is difficult to make friends (and keep them) because suddenly they are moving due to a job relocation or thier position has ended.  I wish all of you who want to head to Williston luck, it has been a blessing for our family.  The kids are doing well in school and we are enjoying fixing up our home and the seasonal changes.  We also look forward to heading to California to thaw out during the winter.  I encourage questions and love to help anyone who wants to head to Williston for some hard work and a new lease on life!

Its a Slippery Slope!

I cant believe I let summer go by and didn't update all of you!...even once!!!  What a blast we have been having!  You would not believe the difference between SoCal and NoDak! Talk about incredible sunsets!  I have some rockin' pictures!  Especially from our trip to Glacier Park!  We have had our share of craziness.  We also have a new addition to family, Gunner Foxtrot Senior a beautiful Blue Weimerainer who has stolen my heart!  My job is definitely full of challenges. I just finished a few great projects that I am very proud of:

The County Housing 18 unit Apartments (for Essential workers and Law Enforcement) First of all I find it hard to believe that we have to BUILD housing for our employees, that was my first order of business as Project Manager for Williams County,   The quest to find housing for 1 person let alone a whole family is a hurdle.  We had to build 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments.  They are not palatial but they are home to many of my co-workers.  It gives them a chance to find a house or property to build their final nesting spot. 

Courtrooms and Judges Chambers, what a learning experience.  We had an architect that was a challenge to work with (being over 6 hours away) and had to get details ironed out to get the job completed.  In the long run we now have 3 courtrooms and a new Judge who was just sworn in.  I am lucky to have gotten this experience and they turned out amazing! We still have some kinks to iron out but any of you in the building business know... the last of the punch list is the biggest task. 

20 Bed Jail Dorm: Now this was an interesting project in so many ways.  Of course there is the learning curve on any project that might be new.  Jail... I haven't been in one before and certainly haven't been a "guest" before.  I had a marvelous Architect on this project and thanks to their staff made this project a breeze! Other than the excitement of entering and exiting the jail common areas, things went pretty well... coming in contact with the residents and occasionally being locked in a 6' x 6' area with a "trustee"(work release parolee, they aren't in general jail population but they aren't OK enough to release on regular parole) you hope no one does anything stupid! The corrections staff have a very tough job and they never ever get the recognition or Thanks that they deserve! 

Not only did I spend my Summer completing those building projects I had to deal with our own construction nightmares at our own house.  A little history for you... Ray came to the Bakken 7 months before we did and lived in a man camp that was provided by his employer.  Imagine a little room with a bed, desk, TV and shower/toilet... all the while we were waiting for our house to be ready back in California, Ray would come home about every 3 weeks.  You don't find as many stick built homes here and luxury housing is really not an option.  Many people are living with their kids/dogs etc in campers and toy haulers as a permanent option. You have homes that have been here for many years that are relatively expensive and then you have to modernize them (imagine burnt orange sculpted carpet with some mauve and teal wallpaper EVERYWHERE)  You can wait for a stick built house but it takes a bit longer because of our lovely weather fluctuations.  There is always the  manufactured home option that might take less time (you think) and get moved in... (that was our hopes, less expensive and less time, NOT)  We had ours add a basement (a must) and a cute little porch.  Now, we might not have 5000 square feet but will finish that basement one day soon and have another 1700 sq feet to send the kids when it is too cold to go outside to play. 

We haven't finished the basement because it had leaks!  Major leaks and had to have the entire thing re-insulated and all of the window wells (fire escape locations in the basement) sealed and the grading around the house compacted as well as this builder said that we didn't need gutters or any other weather/flood proof items on the house so those had to be added... SO we spent the Summer getting the leaking and damp/dankness taken care of instead of getting the (promised)added rooms downstairs done!  I hated dealing with construction crap all day long at work and then coming home to deal with even more of it!  But I think we are through the worst of it.

Many people are happy to have a roof over their heads.  We are happy to have to roof but we expect it to be done right!  It has definitely put some undue stress on our little family and now we can focus on getting those stinky boys downstairs to their own rooms and maybe even get our living room back! Onward and the Basement we go! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spring has sprung!

It has been a long winter for many who have lived here for the entire winter.  For us it really hasn't been the WHOLE winter season, but we did get our share of below zero temps!  I had an office mate tell me to enjoy every moment of beautiful weather you get.  Thank goodness she told me that...we had about 5 days of totally perfect weather.  No snow, wind or rain... Just perfect 75 to 85 degrees.  So I decided to seize the moment... Dug in the basement for the box of Summer shorts and Tanks and was so excited to don them and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin... I sat on the porch (Northwest facing) with a glass of wine, turned on Pandora and just sat... Now know that when I get home from work I don't just sit ...EVER... There is 4 little baby bird-like beings who are asking "Whats for Dinner", "Mom, Where is my..."  "Sign this paper for school" "Can you take me to..."  "Can I go to..." Well.. you get the picture. As well as the never ending pile of laundry that needs to be put away and the general running of the house that needs to be done.  But I took her advise and decided to enjoy the beautiful weather while I could.  It was incredible... 6pm and the sun was going to be up until after 10pm!  What a treat,  The kids were outside, riding bikes, the neighborhood had come to life,  Before that day we had never ever seen another soul out and about anywhere near our little house out in the country!  All of a sudden there were kids in the street playing ball etc... We had no idea there were any other kids in the hood much less 10+!  What a delight!  Before I knew what was happening we had 6-8 adults on the porch enjoying adult beverages introducing themselves!  Every one's mood was awesome!  I got a little insight as to why everyone I had met until now had sort of a negative vibe.  Everyone had put away their good moods and good cheer along with their warm weather clothes.  Everyone had gone into winter mood hibernation.  What a Revelation!

Fast forward to the following week... It is raining, There are muddy cars everywhere, lots of flowing water and foul moods!  It all came back once the weather changed!  I am not a sociologist but this is really becoming quite an experiment for me.  When you live in Sunny California your whole life you completely take for granted that everyone is in a somewhat cheery mood all the time.  I found that when it is cold and dreary many people have the "Gloom and doom" attitude least that's what Ray and I call it.  Some people immediately go to the negative or the worst case scenario first... especially at the end of winter... So now I am looking forward to the dog days of Summer... Beautiful Sun shining on the flowing fields of grain!!!  I can't if I could only train my children to do all the chores before I get home from work, then I would be the luckiest person in the world! 

So wherever you are, try to get out of winter mood and cheer up! Summer is almost here and we get 3 months of No snow!  WOO HOO!!!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The NoDak Dictionary!

I have learned a whole new vernacular living here in NoDak.  I wanted to share these with you and have a little chuckle knowing that some of the local and the new arrivals will love these tidbits of knowledge! 

  • Barbecue: The Midwest equivalent to Sloppy Joes, which are served at most picnics and usually in large quantities. Example: “Why don’t I throw together a little barbecue before the picnic this afternoon?”

    • Bison: (pronounced “Bi-zen”) A large and delicious animal and the mascot for NDSU. Example: “Let’s go watch the Bison play at the Fargodome.”

    • Bars: The name for any type of dessert that is not in cookie, pie, icecream or cake form that is often brought to potlucks. Many bars involve Special K cereal, Rice Krispies, chocolate and peanut butter.
    • Cheese curds: Fried cheese curds. Delicious and fattening. God’s little golden gifts to midwesterners.
    • “Feels like” Temperature: Take a cold temperature, add some windchill, and you will get the “feels-like” temperature. Example: “The high today is -30 but when you step outside it feels like -50 with windchill.”
    •  Glare Ice: The equivalent to black ice except for some reason it is called glare ice.

    • Hotdish: (pronounced “hawt dish”) A baked item, usually served at potlucks, that is similar to a casserole in other parts of the country. Most hotdishes usually contain a starch, a meat and vegetables (canned or frozen) with the most popular being a Tater-tot hotdish. Example: “I’ll bring some Special K Bars to the potluck, why don’t you bring a hotdish?”
    • Lefse: (pronounced “lef suh”) A flat tortilla-like treat, with Norwegian roots (as most things are in the upper Midwest), served usually with butter and sugar on top. Delicious!

    • Lutefisk: (pronounced “loo tu fisk”) Scandinavian dish made from aged whitefish or dried/salted whitefish and lye. It is gelatinous in texture and has an extremely strong odor. It literally means “lye fish”. Example: Person #1: “Hailey, would you like some lutefisk?” Person #2: “No thank you, I would not like some lutefisk.”

    • North Dakota: (pronounced “Nort Da-koe-tuh) The coldest state in the continental United States.

    • Oh: (pronounced “oooooo”) A word used in the majority of conversations in the upper Midwest.

    • Oh, I suppose: The phrase used in a conversation instead of nodding your head or saying “uh-huh” when someone is speaking to you. Can be shortened to simply, I s’pose. Example: Person #1: “I was driving down the road and I saw a deer.” Person #2: “Oh, I suppose!”
    • Oh, for cute: The phrase used to express how cute something/someone is. Example: (A small kitten emerges from around the corner) “Oh, for cute!”
    • Oh, for fun: The phrase used to express how enjoyable something is or sounds. Example: Person #1- “I went to the state fair this past weekend.” Person #2- “Oh, for fun!”
    • The Patch:  An area comprised of the Bakken shale where those work and play.  Many work in the patch.  Meaning the Oil Patch.

    • Plug In: The action required so that your car is able to start when the temperature is below zero. Plug ins can be found in most large parking lots and residential areas. When you install a plug in on your car, the cord hangs out resembling a small booger hanging out of your cars nose. (Sorry if that was graphic, I just can’t help thinking that every time I see one.)

    • Snow Birds: Upper Midwest residents, usually retired, that head south for the winter. Most Snow Birds head to Phoenix or another location throughout Arizona.

    • The Cities: The shortened name given to Minneapolis and St. Paul. Example: “I’m heading to The Cities this weekend.”

    • The Lake: The location everyone escapes to when the temperature reaches above 32 degrees F. “The Lake” is not a singular location. In fact, going to “The Lake” could be one of the 10,000 lakes throughout Minnesota or one of the many across North Dakota. Example: “Oh, I think I might just head out to The Lake this weekend.”
    • Then: A word used to signify a question is being asked. Example: “Are you headed to Fargo then?”

    • Thunder Snow: The weather phenomenon that occurs when it is snowing with thunder and lightening at the same time.

    • Uff da: (pronounced “oof duh”) An expression of Norwegian origin used in the upper Midwest as a term for sensory overload. It can be used to express astonishment, surprise, exhaustion, frustration or relief. It can also be used as an alternate for most swear words (though of course I never use it this way). Example: “Uff da, look at all that snow outside that I now must shovel.”
    • You Betcha: The phrase used to mean: Absolutely, uh-huh, yes, certainly, or anything of that nature. Example: Person #1- “Do you want to head to the movies, then?” Person #2- “Oh, you betcha!”

    • 20-32 degrees above zero: This temperature marks the beginning of Spring and signals that it is now appropriate to put away your coat and walk around in a t-shirt and shorts, showing off your mayonnaise legs.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    Boomtown Family Williston Nd from Palm Trees to Prairie Pipelines: Homesick!

    Boomtown Family Williston Nd from Palm Trees to Prairie Pipelines: Homesick!: I took a mental sabbatical the last few days and was trying to come to terms with my homesickness.  It really isn't that bad but you...


    I took a mental sabbatical the last few days and was trying to come to terms with my homesickness.  It really isn't that bad but you don’t realize how much you miss something until its gone.  I almost think this is the feeling one would get when you get separated or divorced.  A sudden change in your reality...AND total grass is greener syndrome!  I am going to begin with…There is really no where more beautiful than Southern California…2 hours to the beach and a sun that dips into the smouldering ocean that sometimes turns red than orange then back to that shimmery blue just before it takes its final bow.  2 hours to The Mountains where the sunrise is a golden blanket on a brand new day and then the shadows dance upon the rocks and trees like dancing clouds, the shapes turn from a bird, a plane to a witch  on a broom!  2 hours to the desert where you reach the gentle giants that are the wind turbines as they dance upon the trade winds announcing their presence as they are whipped upon a tourist face as they lounge by a glistening pool.  Many would LOVE to call that home.  But because the economy was really not flourishing in that mecca of beauty, we have found ourselves in a different kind of place!   
    I find people in California are generally happier.  They greet each other in the parking lot, may exchange a gentle smile when they see a child that reminds them of a grandchild or someone they are away from .  I am seeing a different side of mankind.  My own personal opinion is that many people are not as happy here… Maybe even a little more abrasive...  Everyone is bundled up and trying to get in the door before their ears get too cold or they are trying to be careful not to fall on the ice (that is me)  Everyone is hurrying to get from one place to another and the daily niceties are not as apparent here.  It is definitely difficult for me because I tend to try to engage the person at the market in front of me or wave at the neighbor (I have kind of started that on our little dirt road… it seems they are coming around, They are recognizing Me and “Sheila” the Rover along the road and are starting to wave back)  and some look at me like I have 2 heads. 
    I remember how much I hated the “snowbirds” growing up.  Now I know why they would all converge on the Coachella Valley and drive like crazy people.  What I have found out is that it is the California drivers, drive like idiots.  Here everyone has to let their car roll to a stop or you will slide right into the person in front of you, because there is either Ice or Snow on the road, every single morning for 6 months .  Of course you are going to roll to a stop at a light or stop sign in the desert, because you have been driving cautiously your whole life, not defensively...and yes people do drive 25 to 30 miles an hour everywhere here.  Its so weird, and takes a little getting used to, many of you that have driven with me to LA or Orange County know my instinctual driving habits and this is going to be difficult to break!  
    I did notice last night, a different kind of beauty!  As the sun was setting (after 9 pm ) I noticed that golden grain that is just coming up and a flare just over a hill, like a sunflower colored birthday cake, with a candle daring me to try to blow it out.  Then the sunset from my porch is always different... Red, Orange and Purple dancing across the horizon long enough for you to be able to enjoy the whole experience.  no mountain getting in the way of its final glow then dipping behind the new fields that are slowing awakening after the last of the winter snow.  After dark is when the magic begins.  As the darkness folds around us we start seeing all the flares light up the fields..It is really and incredible sight.  If you haven't ever seen a flare map of North Dakota treat your senses to a delight! 
    It was last night that I realized I haven't left the most beautiful place in the world, I gained another bookmark in my own mental scenic trip that I can take any time... and know I have been added to this community for a reason, I am still figuring out what it is but it is going to be interesting to see what happens next!



    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Boomtown Housing Crisis on a personal note...

    Williston NoDak has its share of hot buttons, one is the Housing Crisis that seems to be on the top of everyone’s list.  It’s almost like the Chicken and the Egg.  Do you get a Job and then worry about housing?... or do you get housing and then worry about a job.  I have experienced first hand employers that do not want to consider someone who has submitted their resume without a local address…  Especially if that company doesn’t offer or have any housing available.  I have also experienced companies that have housing available for employees but for a limited time, giving them ample time to find a home or allow for time while your home is  being built.  In our case we were the latter. 

    We came to town, found jobs and then during one of my trips to town Ray and I found one of the few developments that had lots available and were assured that we would have a house in 6 to 8 weeks.  Most developments are manufactured homes.  SO our house was being built elsewhere while our basement was being dug and poured on our lot seems like a timely way to build!?  RIght.  Thank goodness Ray was one of these Man Camp dwellers  (one of 9700 people as of Dec 2012) because they originally dug our basement in the wrong spot on our lot!  This was when our building issues began! 

    They say… (who are they by the way?) 3 of the hardest things to go through in a marriage is… Death/Illness  of a Family Member, Childbirth and Building a house, many marriages don’t make it through these situations.  We made it through by the skin of our teeth!  BUT this house was a serious challenge.  We had a sales person who said what we wanted to hear and didn’t follow through.  If that isn’t stressful enough I was trying to do all of this from 1600 miles away and trying to get everything done and ready for our move, and let’s remember “The King” Ray was in NoDak living the Man Camp bachelor life.  Me, not having much fun, living the “Single Mom” life!   So by the time the house got completed, 7 MONTHS later not 7 weeks! The kids were supposed to start school in the fall, they started in February, we were forced to move in the worst storm of 2013 and our first day in NoDak was -45* with 55 MPH winds… so could it really get any worse?  OH YES it could! 

    After living in our house for a little over a month, the basement starts to flood. Let me explain, when the snow melts it has to go somewhere… the moisture seeps into the dirt (that is everywhere, our yard is dirt, our driveway is dirt, the roads in our neighborhood is dirt, the road to our development is dirt, the county road at the turn off is dirt …you get the picture) at night it gets back to freezing temps and then the frost line is then deeper and then when it thaws again.  Sometimes when it thaws its creates puddling in areas and the run off travels wherever it can find a route to follow…for us it was down the outside walls of our basement and then into the basement via an area where the basement walls and foundation meet!  Hence a basement with water just deep enough to be troubling ! Eeek!  Many items were ruined…the cardboard box that my wedding dress was preserved in was in the water and I haven’t had the heart to open it and look to see if it is still wrapped in plastic… or ruined!  This is just the tip of the iceberg and I am on the case to getting the problem rectified! 

    Back to the housing crisis… It is very difficult to find housing, Homes that are 50 to 75 years old are selling for upwards of 400k and they are not big houses, and many need countless repairs.  If you are looking for something new with a little more square footage, you are looking at a manufactured house with a basement (if you are lucky) and most likely you will be living outside of town and will be travelling dirt roads to get where you need to. There are some stick built homes but  they take longer to build and are very expensive too!   In that situation EVERY single person who has a newer home is grateful to have a roof over their heads!  A roof that isn’t a travel trailer.  Right now officials say that the population of Williston is a little more than 15,000 people.  9700 of them are living in man camps, and right now there are more than 400 Rv’s Traiers or Motorhomes parked in various areas and there are families of 5 or 6 people living PERMANENTLY in these situations. 

    When our kids started school they were asked by teachers, students etc… “Do you live in a Motor Home or a trailer”, and they don’t mean Mobile Home because that is a middle class home here…  Our kids were completely confused and had no idea that families were living in such tight quarters.  They feel pretty blessed that we have a home and it has actually turned out very “Senior” it is very warm and inviting!  (but there is the mud factor) And as soon as we get the basement situation fixed we will have bedrooms for all 4 kids… they won’t have to share anymore! 

    Moving to NoDak is a challenge in many ways…I think (personally) we did it the right way.  Come to town with a plan (interviews lined up, come during one of the many Job Fairs are come and pound the pavement) to find a job and the head back home to wait for all of the job offers to pour in (hopefully) be prepared to pass a drug test and know that you can pass a background check.  In the meantime look for housing…there are some duplexes going up in the area, there are some apartment buildings that are newer and some housing developments that are starting.  You might get a job offer that has housing available while you look for a permanent place.  One thing I hope everyone thinks about. 

    This is where you work so why not make it your home?  Many people come to work and leave to go back home to see their families… this wasn’t an option for us because we do well as a family unit… all in!  I really did miss my hubby while we were apart!  I think we appreciate each other more!  The one thing I missed the most was Ray waking me up (he turns off the alarm so it doesn’t scare the crap outta me) and with the gentle kiss to the forehead he wakes me up!  AM I a lucky girl or what?  But he still leaves his dirty clothes on the floor for me to put in the hamper that is right next to the pile of said clothes!  So he is not perfect but he is close!


    Monday, April 15, 2013

    The Prince is home

    Logan (15) our oldest is less than pleased to be living in beautiful Williston North Dakota.  Ray and I thought we would be nice parents and let him go home for Prom, a trip that ended up being a whole 2 weeks long!  In true teenager fashion, he didn't call his Dad once (who was the benefactor of this whole trip) and did communicate with me many times via text and phone and most of those interactions were re: Money or Prom plans...  Teenagers... He is 15 going on 50.  Let me tell you a little background on Prince Logan, He is one of a kind, he was special from the very beginning.  He was born 24 hours to the minute after my Dad passed away.  We believe after my 22 hours of hard labor I thought he would NEVER make his entrance into the world.  I said out loud, "Dad, will you get off that park bench in the clouds and let him meet ME!"  15 minutes later the Doctor came in and said it was time.. and there he was 45 minutes later!  I will never forget that moment and was grateful I didn't have to have that emergency C-section they were all talking about! 

    To this day I see signs of my Dad in him often, he listens to Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett... all of the greats.  He has a very old soul and on occasion will use an expression or even act just like my Dad.  HE has ambition and drive and has even expressed that he intends to go to Law School, I personally think he would be a great politician!  (Dad was involved in City Gov't for years)

    Now, he is just upset about being here, I am thinking the trip to the beautiful Coachella Valley was a HUGE mistake, now it is fresh in his mind what he is missing and has a lovely attitude to go with it!  What to do?  I guess at this point...keep him busy, be there for him, and hopefully be able to talk through it.  Because right now I am watching him drift slowly away and I am hanging on to a small rope trying to reel him in! 

    I think one day he will realize it really wasn't that bad and when he get accepted to that college and it wasn't his first choice he will already know how it feels to have to move to somewhere not so perfect to get closer to his dreams.  We are in the land of opportunities and as parents we can only hope he recognizes it and appreciates that we aren't doing this to punish him but because we love him! 

    So here is to Prince Logan...may you always remember chase you dreams even if they take you to the frozen tundra!  You never know you just might like it!  or even one day Love it!

    Get this White Stuff out of MY Yard!

    Oh Dear,  It is happening again, snow...snow and more snow!  I guess I jinxed the whole area when I said I would rather have the snow than the mud.  But I guess I should have made myself clear to the Snow Gods...Not 12" of snow!  Everyone around here goes a little wacky when they hear "a storm is a comin'"  If you don't get to any one of the 3 stores that carry groceries you will be SOL... I learned this the hard way and last storm... I think I got 2 things from my list of many. I spent most of last storm hoping we didn't lose power or water (which is more often than not in this area)

    Saturday morning, Ray and I got up early and went to, yes my hangout, Walmart...and stocked up on any and all items needed in the Upstairs Fridge, Pantry, Deep Freezer and Basement Fridge we even had some overflow that we had to take up residence in the Laundry Room!

    When we first arrived in Williston and before I started working, I went to Wally World on a daily basis.  Now let me explain, we were sort of starting over and I had to buy many things to start from scratch to stock the pantry with spices, and other essentials for cooking, baking as well as Cleaning supplies, Bathroom needs etc... this is not cheap!  So they guys at Rays plant would have a standing competition, Guess how much Deanna is going to spend today... They would all guess and I still don't know what they would win (I am not really sure I want to know) but it was more about embarrassing me and giving Ray a hard time.  I am so glad that they find me so amusing!  They would call and ask several times throughout the day if I had made my "final" trip to the market because sometimes I would have to go back 2 or 3 times!  As you can tell there isn't much to do here in Chilly Willy! 

    The other thing that is a definite change is the lack of restaurants... It was nice to know we had a choice, to cook or not to cook... Here not so much!  We cook everynight, there isn't really a choice unless we chose to wait 45 minutes or more for "fast food" or even more at an eatery in the area.  The nicest place to "Dine" is Applebee's and that isn't on my list of favorites.  Unfortunately, cooking isn't my favorite activity.  So the fine dining experience is missed!

    I do think the neighbors think we are all crazy...the snow is coming down, the snow flakes are huge and our kids are begging to go outside and play!  It is hysterical, they get all dressed in the many layers needed to survive here and they go outside to play...for HOURS!  No one else's kids are out in this weather but ours are!  I guess if they were in sunny California and it was over 100* they would have as little clothes allowed and be outside playing...  I have to admit they have been pretty good little troopers!

    We are a family of extremes so it was perfect that we move from a place that has 125* weather for the Summer months, to a place that has -55* in the Winter (and, well, Spring so far)!  No one would expect us to EVER move to "Normaltown, USA"  The Seniors know how to keep things completely abnormal.

    If I could only figure out how to find a genie in a bottle to get this white stuff out of my yard... because we all know that " shoveling snow is a chore not playing" according to Hurricane Sydney!

    Friday, April 12, 2013

    Friday Night in NoDak

    As I sit here with a glass of wine in hand I realize how things have changed in the last 2 months.  We moved here on the 1st of February and the second day we were here it was 45* below and the wind was blowing about 30 miles an hour.  That week I began unpacking...I realized all of those fabulous high heeled pumps will remain in their boxes and will probably not come out unless we travel somewhere "resort" style for vacation.  I get excited when I find a great sale on Sorel waterproof boots that have all of the items on my checklist (must withstand temps of 25* below or completely waterproof or have skid proof bottoms ) Items I had no idea that I would EVER require.  There was one thing I wasn't prepared for... The MUD, we are in a housing division that we have to drive on dirt roads to get to and from both of our jobs, the kids schools and to the downtown area and any shopping.  Every car, truck, auto etc is covered in Mud.  There is nothing that can prepare you for that.  It sounds crazy but I think I would prefer the snow rather than the mud. We have had the craziest situation where the builder didn't get our driveway right (it is made out of mud) and we actually have to tear out of our driveway at max speed just to make it out!  It is like an adventure every morning... like 4x4ing and slipping and sliding...its kinda cool in a way but so NOT normal!  this city slicker has become a little bit country in a very short time!  There are things I never thought would be a daily thing.  Every day there is something else in me that becomes a little less city and a little more country!  So I guess I am embracing the life we are calling NoDak style.  So its Friday Night and I am waiting for my hubby to get off work and we will settle back on the sectional and probably watch something on Netflix or Hulu, maybe catch up on a series we missed because we didn't have internet, cable or phone for an the entire first month we lived here, Why you ask? because they didn't have Fiber Optic line to our house and "they would get to it when they could"  ...So tonight when you realize that you can jump in your car and within 5 minutes you can be at your favorite eatery, or you can put on those Manolo Blahniks and head to the club, know not everyone has a fabulous life like you do... Enjoy it... Every little nicety you enjoy!  And by the way I am Jonesing for the moment you walk in Starbucks and the annoying barista yells "Good Morning" ... I wish I didn't have to drive 160 miles to hear those 2 annoying words!!!!

    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Introducing The Senior Family from Williston ND

    Hi All!  I am doing it,  I have started to blog,( it feels so good to write it finally)I have been warning the world that this was going to happen...So I will introduce us and then let the Blogging begin... The economy in CA wasn't the best and my husband and I were trying to come up with ideas to make enough money to support our family and STOP worrying about where the next paycheck was coming from.  We were told about North Dakota and that it was the answer to many of our problems.  After seeing an Episode of Rock Center with Brian Williams and Harry Smith (October 2011), we were convinced that we should at least EXPLORE the possibility... you will find that Ray and I don't leave many stones unturned.  We are a family full of drive and personality and our sense of humor is sometimes taken the wrong way but we enjoy every moment of life that is presented to us and have in turn given that drive to our children.  After a 1600 mile drive to North Dakota, without hotel reservations, but a job fair to attend, we took the leap!  (The kids were at home with the grandparents) If you do not know already, Williston ND has a housing issue...a HUGE housing issue, people were living in their cars, bringing campers and trailers and living in the Walmart parking lot and even if someone could afford a hotel room that didn't mean they would find one.  Many people who work in the oil patch live in "Mancamps"( equal to a FEMA type trailer that people use for emergency situations like a tornado ETC) feel they are lucky to have that housing and have made it a permanent situation, some companies even pay for that employees housing there.  Those are people who are not really members of our community because they travel back home to their families during their days off.  Sorry, Back to the Jobfair/hunt... We came to town, found a Hotel room (lucky) and Ray interviewed with the company he works for now, a Natural Gas processing plant.  Blessed beyond belief he was offered the job...not on the spot though, which is what we kind of expected from the newscasts and other research we had done.  We had to travel back to Ca and go back to our lives and wait for all of the background checks and Drug Testing results and final job offers etc.  It was over 6 weeks before we had the final answer that he had the job and yes he did get housing on a temporary basis.  The minute he got to town he found a community that was under construction and we signed contracts and got our house started.  This is March 2012, We have everything planned out to move September 2012 so the kids can start school and I can start a job that I have my eye on working for Williams County.  There were so many problems with the builder of our house...that from CA I felt like I was the Superintendent on the job... That is a whole other Blog for another day.  The kids ended up having to start the school year, renew all of their relationships and then I had to yank them out of school to move in the end of January... Wow that trip with 4 kids Logan 15, pissed about moving away from his new High School friends, Dillon 14 Happy go lucky boy who has the newest soul and is game for anything, Mirada 12 who has preteen angst and was in tears about 1500 of the 1600 miles about leaving her best friends, Sydney 10 who is sassy and is nicknamed Hurricane Sydney, because she leaves a disaster in her wake... Then there are the cats who were in individual carriers in the back of "Sheila" (our family Land Rover who, yes is a member of the family) Smitty, is a tabby who doesn't like people and Bubbles who adopted us last year by coming to our door one day and walked in (after a search for her family) she became part of the Senior Clan.  We drove through a White Out Storm, we had rain all the way and I had several occasions where I had to diagnose and fix an issue with Sheila as well as flip out on the kids for fighting and sneak cats into hotels 3 nights in a row hoping we wouldn't be discovered OR kicked out!  I will never forget the feeling of overwhelming relief when I drove up to our new home... That was OUR House...for OUR  little family only... it is going to be filled with OUR things and I don't have to share space or have someone else live in our home!  Then the waterworks started flowing...there he was... my husband standing on our brand new porch to greet us along with an entire 54 foot moving truck filled to the limit! But we made it... and so the adventure begins...