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...