My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Welcome Wagon

Alycia's Mom stopped by yesterday on her way to her yearly Mayo Clinic appointment. She had a liver transplant a dozen or so years ago and has yearly checkups to see how the liver is functioning. We chatted for a minute and she inquired if "the Grand Forks Welcome Wagon" had been by? I chuckled that no, we've met a few neighbors but no official Welcome Wagon and thought no more of it.

Later that evening as Alycia and I dined on homemade chili and gluten free blue cornbread, we got a call on our recently set up land line from a lady named Mary. Mary you see is the official Grand Forks Welcome Wagon. There actually is such a thing. Literally. Apprently Mary had received a rather indignant call from Alycia's Mom wondering what kind of town she was running here where new arrivals fall off the turnip truck from California and there's no official greeting.

On the phone, Alycia tried in vain to convinvce Mary The Welcome Wagon Lady that she grew up in the area, knew the local attractions and regulations, and had no need for an official visit. Mary would have none of it and told us she would be by within the half hour to drop off our information packet and explain some things to us.

Mary was a quite congenial elderly woman who seemed a bit taken aback that all of our things had arrived, yet we had no real furniture and received her as a visitor on the screened in porch whilst sitting in camping chairs. She was very nice, inquired what brought us to Grand Forks, what Alycia was doing, what her husband (apparently that was me) did, etc.

We sat and Mary handed to us and explained various brochures, pamphlets, and coupons. There were actually a few good coupons, nothing that we'd normally use, but 2 free Thickburgers from Hardee's? Hell Yeah. I also now have a large booklet on the hunting and fishing license reuirements for both North Dakota and Minnesota. Hint there's a seperate booklet for each state.

We didn't have the heart to break it to Mary that not only were we not married, but that we would likely never use the 2 steaks for $20 dinner coupon at the Bronze Boot Steakhouse (the oldest continually operating steakhouse in Grand Forks by the way) since Alycia was a vegetarian. I firmly believe that explaining our unwed cohabitation and vegetarianism would have sent Mary into a cardiac event of some sort. Though it likely would have given us a fine introduction to the ambulance service here in Grand Forks.

I was a bit bummed that there was no free pie (a berry pie of some sort would have been fantastic) involved in all this, but it made me feel welcome none-the-less. I also learned that Cream of Wheat was created in Grand Forks. Betcha didn't know that

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Little Grocery Shopping

So we're mostly unpacked (Alycia's stuff is unpacked at least, my stuff is still percolating in various boxes) and starting to get settled. With the help of Alycia's Mom, aka Momma Bear, the kitchen is all unpacked and totally usable. Being that food and gluten free living are crucial tenets to our lives, the next step logical step was to replenish the kitchen and pantry with necessary items.

Being that we're no longer in San Diego, finding the things that are "normal" to us and part of our daily diet are, to understate delicately, freakishly weird out here. Wanna get your ass kicked, or at least a lot of weird looks? Try asking a store clerk here where they keep the tofu. Thankfully though there is a natural food store - Amazing Grains with a good amount of gluten free and "unusual" items, like tofu, and organic stuff.

Just a few observations here about my new home town. In my trip to Hugo's supermarket, I noticed that there are a significant amount of larger girthed individuals here. There are also a large number of people who seem to amble about aimlessly with little discernible purpose, and in the close aisle confines of a grocery store, this has proven to be problematic/frustrating. Not sure if this is more prevalent here, or simply I encountered a busy shopping day, time will tell.

My other small bit of information to pass along - frozen Texas Toast is really big here. Not sure why. Two grocery stores that I visited had a proliferation of choices of frozen Texas Toast and numerous shoppers had the item in their cart. Hopefully I'll be able to unravel this mystery and report back to y'all in the future.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Truck Day Today

Today is the day the semi is dropped off at the new house and we get to gingerly remove the bulkhead and see what state our items are in. Hopefully things are not too broken and a few plants have survived the trip. I'm not hopeful about the plants though, it was really hot inside the trailer when we were loading it and I can only imagine how hot it got once it was sealed up and motoring through the desert Southwest.

We'll get a jump start on the unloading process this afternoon by removing the bulkhead, the tiedowns, and anything sitting precariously on top (which is a lot). The rest of the moving party (aka Alycia's folks) are making the trek down from Cavalier tomorrow morning to help us unload. We'll bribe them with breakfast and lunch, but they're happy to help out regardless.

It's another lovely day here in Grand Forks, warm, but still pleasant, a nice breeze and a few puffy clouds moseying across the sky.

The city sprayed for mosquitoes last night. Around 8:30 a low flying plane made several passes and sprayed Lord knows what over everything. You're not supposed to go outside for a half hour after spraying and those who are "sensitive to chemicals" were warned to shut their windows. Isn't everyone sensitive to chemicals? I just know that I'm pretty sure I am.

Monday, July 20, 2009

An Update - North Dakota style

Howdy all. Sorry for the long delay in posting. Sadly after the first day of the road trip, though I had Internet access, my desire/ability to sit and compose coherent English was lacking. So, to update you, the last three days of the drive went well.

Utah was quite pretty, especially North of Provo up to the I-80. Wyoming was full of rednecks and we had a slight incident with a dumb ass chick and her giant pit bull (that she couldn't control even though he was on a leash), who thought it was OK that the dog grabbed Shakk Ti as he lunged out of the bushes because "he don't like other dogs none that much". People like that are the reason pit bulls are so maligned.

The Dakotas were everything they had been sold as, desolate but beautiful. It was also the midst of little yellow butterfly season, and we must have smashed hundreds of them as we drove down the road. It made for some serious window squeegeeing at our rest breaks.

The moral of the story is that we made it to North Dakota safe and sound, people, dogs, and fish are safe and happy. Alycia's parents graciously met us here at the house, stocked out refrigerator and pantry with a ton of food, and brought us chairs, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. All the things that make life much more easier and enabled us to delay the necessary run to Target and the grocery store for a couple of days so we could rest up.

Today was the first day we had internet at the house, so I'll now have the means to throw out much more information down the road - stay tuned.

I also plan on doing at least a three part report series on Home of Economy, which I plan on investigating extensively. What is Home of Economy? Think hardware store, Amish Furniture outlet, flea market, barber shop, bait store and snack bar all rolled together under one giant roof. Lo it shall be awesome.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Excessive Heat Advisory

We're safely in small town Utah, napping comfortably in an air conditioned hotel room through the afternoon heat outside. We're looking forward to sampling some of the "creative American food" that the diner just outside the hotel is allegedly dishing out. As I sit here and watch the weather channel, it turns out that the entire stretch that we just drove through is under an excessive heat advisory, not exactly a good addition to a road trip.

We did get on the road just after 4:00 am, and yeah it was painful, but well worth it to avoid some of the hot hours of the afternoon. Alycia made it just fine, the dogs are lazing around, and the fish did not get boiled alive, all in all a raging success. One which we'll repeat again tomorrow.

It was 96 degrees as we drove through Barstow at 8:00am, and it only got hotter as the day wore on. We got out of the car around 10:30 am in Mesquite, NV and strolled around a park I found online to give the dogs a bit of a respite. It was quite warm, even in the shade, and the dogs were panting by the time their paws touched the ground coming out of the car.

Despite the intense heat the North Dakota mobile soldiered onward and made it through the day with nary an issue, and except for a couple of long uphill grades, we successfully ran the a/c the whole time.

The good news is that though it's supposed to be hot again tomorrow, we should be out of the super hot areas and into northern Utah and Wyoming. We're pondering another early start tomorrow to get some hours on the road before it gets too warm, we'll see.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Go Time

We're wrapping up our short stay at my sisters place in Vista, though it's actually so nice it's like more of a resort; pool, big yard for the dogs to play, tons of lounge chairs for us to hang out upon. It was a great place for us to stay for a few days and recharge our batteries (both actual laptop/cell phone and metaphorical internal) for a bit.

I made the most of my last meal in San Diego by partaking in an In N Out burger....tasty. Truly one of the things that I'll miss about California.

The plan is to take off early, 3:30 or 4:00 am tomorrow morning to try and make it through most of the hot part, through Vegas and up to the border of Utah, while it's still relatively cool. Cool though is a bit of a misnomer since "cool" for that area is only 95 degrees. Hopefully we'll make it by noon, maybe 1:00 and be able to hole up in our hotel during the heat of the day.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Boxes Boxes Everywhere

Yay a packing update.......

The truck arrived promptly on Friday (I'll give a big plug to ABF U-Pack here, they know their shit and do it well) and even Alycia was impressed. Yup, it's a full sized semi trailer, and we're a packin' it. Again a plug for ABF U-Pack - the driver was able to skillfully manuever the trailer without killing or maiming the podocarpus tree along the street, left the end of the truck right at the start of the driveway (exactly where we wanted it), and took plenty of time to explain how everything worked. Sure he didn't have all his teeth, but he more than made up for it by being super nice and helpful.

This morning the nitty gritty work began, the hauling of boxes out to the truck. Naturally the weather has complied and God has rewarded all of my previous blasphemies with hot hot sunshine. It always make me reassess how much I REALLY want to keep something once I've hauled it around in the hot sun a few times. Am I really going to read this book again? How badly do I really need all these chonies? Do I really need all these cooking utinsils, can't I just stir with my hand?

We loaded up the truck for a couple of hours, arranged some of the items and boxes, and by 9:30ish, decided to call it a day, at least with the outside portion. I had already sweated through one outfit, so we are gonna concentrate up inside tasks, packing up the last remaining items, vacuuming, etc, until the cool of the evening returns.

The countdown for departure is now at three days and counting....break out the chippers North Dakota, we're coming!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another Reader

A quick but hearty shout out to my buddy Mike (last name hidden for security reasons) who recently and reluctantly admitted to being a regular reader. He gains notoriety as he is the first non-relative/non-significant other to publicly admit to being a frequent reader. We'll do our best to entertain him with humorous stories of our upcoming acclimation to life in Grand Forks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Zen a Day Calendar

One of the few things that isn't quite packed up yet is the Zen A Day Calendar (it's present from my Dad to Alycia, so technically it's hers, but I ponder many of the wise words of wisdom). The quote from yesterday was fun. I'm not necessarily all about mantras or slogans, but sometimes things are said that are profound and are worthy of further introspection.

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what want so that they will be happier.

The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you really want."

Margaret Young

Margaret Young was no critic of modern society, but a jazz singer from the 20's and 30's.

Sorry to get all thoughtful and pensive on you, just though I'd pass along.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

One Week

Just a week left. Boxes are piling up in the garage, lower backs are tender from all the lifting, and dogs continue to wonder "what the hell is going on around here?" The big truck will be here in a week to hold all of our stuff, and we'll see it off and then race it to North Dakota as fast as our tired little 1992 Camry will take us.

For the most part, we're in pretty good shape, closets are virtually empty and non-essentials from the kitchen, bath, and bedroom have all been packed up. It's been kind of warm so I've been procrastinating on going out to the garage to figure out what stays, what gets tossed, and what can be given away to Goodwill or on Freecycle. I suppose it's not going to get any cooler though, so I'm not sure what I'm waiting for......

That's the update for now. We've settled into the rhythm of working most of the day and spending a few hours of packing every evening. While this helps to ensure that there hasn't been a mammoth "16 hours of packing in 1 day" session, it has drawn out the process and not we feel like we've been moving for the last 2 weeks - ugghhh.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cheap Organic Recipe: Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Sloppy Joe’s

How about a delicious, vegetarian and gluten free dinner dish?

Here's a recipe for gluten free Sloppy Joe's in all their gooey, tomatoey, sloppy goodness. For me Sloppy Joe's are a classic dish that hearkens back to grade school cafeteria lunches. The recipe has been updated for the fashionable vegetarian and gluten free consumer. It's pretty tasty and makes plenty of leftovers....

Cheap Organic Recipe: Vegetarian and Gluten Free Sloppy Joe's

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Travel Warning Article

I read an article in the Sunday paper a week or so ago about folks who post Twitter/Facebook updates or regularly blog who include travel updates and vacation pictures etc. A few people were interviewed who were burgled/robbed while they were on vacation, in a large part because their Facebook friend had a friend of a sketchy nature and ransacked their house, knowing they were away on vacation. The article, as journalism is wont to do, took the fearmingeriong approach and actually seemed to make me a bit wary.

Granted I'm sure that these were isolated events, but it got me to thinking how easily we throw out our personal information with nary a thought on who will do what with it. That being said, for some reason I'm a tad more hesitant to reveal personal info about our packing and moving plans for fear that someone will invade our house, and soon I'll have squatters in my empty San Diego abode. I'm really not that afraid though, mostly because I know how few people really read this.....so that being said.

We continue to make preparations for the trip, many boxes are piling up. I frequently check the weather in Grand Forks and was dismayed when last Friday a huge sumemr storm rolled through and thunderstrorms, tornados, and 3-4 inches of rain were dropped on Grand Forks overnight, man that would have been cool to see.

And though our route is still somewhat flexible, we anticipate going up the 15, turning right in Montana and then heading East towards our new home....more info to follow.