Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Red Oak House: A (Mostly) True Story (alt. title: Grief and Living in 2020)

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Here's an offering of my own creative non-fiction this morning from my office. Disclaimer: sorry for the black text. I'll eventually figure out how to fix that on my blog platform. Or not.

The story goes:

Threw together my own version of Full English Breakfast in a rush this morning @RedOakHouse. Google Full English Breakfast if you are curious.

Gobbled it down before I took a snapshot. Thanks, Mr. Jim @Jimfuglie for being a good gardener. I opted today for the vegetarian version.

Then I did a little research. I'm behind on gardening, yada yada yada. These past few years have been a whirlwind.

A North Dakota Prairie boulder I received for a gift, dead in the center of my front yard shade garden under the ND Champion Red Oak tree (acorns from said tree). The boulder, the lichen, and the tiny bit of native prairie short-grass endure beyond all odds. I like to sit on the boulder and think. And, no, we don't intend to get a pet cat or dog at this point in our lives for the endlessly nosy (and well-intentioned advice.) 

I did learn when I was eating said breakfast that there is a RedOakHouse council flat in the UK. A "flat" is an apartment and a "council house" being, well, a local jurisdiction in the UK where this particular council flat is located....google that yourself too. Too bad I didn't visit it (although I'm guessing I was fairly nearby about one year ago today).

Being of a curious nature (research is "catnip" to librarians/humans/???), I dug a little on Google Maps of the geographical term Red Oak. There are Red Oak place names in the UK and Red Oak place names in the US, including one not far from the center of my RedOakHouse.com in Iowa, near Omaha.

I use a variety of research and navigational tools. Stars (the Big Dipper last night from my patio), planets (the Green Corn Moon right now), printed maps, knowledge of a landscape, websites, printed tourism guides, Google Maps on my phone, conversations with the locals, family, and trusted friends. For starters. I'm a self-taught sky-gazer, having used tools available along the life journey. Earth & Sky is a great tool and a visit to the Davis Observatory in the Davis Mountains of Texas was a distinct pleasure.

I keep up with friends and family in all manners -- visits, hikes, weddings, funerals, texts, social media, emails (oops, no time to write, I have hundreds of texts and emails to read!).

Some years ago Jim and I took the plunge and got a website for Red Oak House. It was the natural thing to do (or at least it was to us). We even bought the domains. Somewhere along in there, Jim started writing The Prairie Blog (he has had to migrate to a variety of platforms) and I took the plunge with WildDakotaWoman blog via Google (and, yup, Google has changed its blog platform and I'm struggling to figure out the new "look" and "tools". All the funky, unreadable font colors and crap in this blog post are entirely mine.

In the midst of the pandemic of 2020.

Non-sequitur: I have never been known by any name but Lillian. It is an honor. Lillian Hovick was the rock of her family and beloved in Slope County. Coming home meant I was going to stand in her kitchen and help her make sugar cookies when I wasn't doing my chores or going to school or......when my siblings and I lived with her briefly in the 1960s just prior to traveling to Okinawa to join my father there, I was four. I did not want to leave her and my mother said "Ok, but you won't get to see your father," and my little hand went into my mother's hand and I got on the plane in Billings, MT. Life moved on. Can't change that. My older cousins who knew her well say, "She didn't wear her religion on her sleeve." This may have had something to do with a lifetime of watching religions divide people and/or that she married a Catholic and they were not married by a priest. Shocking, I know! True love. She and her husband of fifty years are buried in southwest North Dakota and their funerals were held in the nearby small town Lutheran churches. I attended both. My parents' grief was unimaginable.

All photos cLillianCrook

I've got to push "Publish" now and check my lavender plants and picture myself in Provence, France. This soothes my soul. I've got some pollinators and birds to watch. 

"I write as though I'm whispering in the ear of the one I love." Terry Tempest Williams 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 61

Star of the North Daylily

Assorted Perennials now in bloom at Red Oak House

Little Quickfire Hydrangea, a new perennial I'm attempting in a very dry location. The rabbits are munching on the impatiens in the foreground but I seem to have gotten ahead of those varmints this year in this location. 

Buffaloberry bush near Cross Ranch State Park. There was a male Red-headed Woodpecker perched here, I swear, first I've seen in a while. They spend summers in North America in cottonwood forests, and in ND along the Missouri River watershed. I first saw these at Devils Tower National Monument along the Belle Fouche River many decades ago. 

Dakota Sunshine Daylily

Monday, July 20, 2020

Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 60

Life has been hectic. We are harvesting vegetables and scrambling to adjust to life in a pandemic. When I get time, I will write some thank you notes to the people who have helped us through these past months of lockdown and loss. When we get stamps or get to our nearby Post Office, we will mail those. "Notes" will feel so inadequate to express our gratitude and not dwell on our personal grief journey, but I will make an attempt. 

We have gotten some rain and the roof no longer leaks -- at least we hope not. Water is life, we live in the Missouri River watershed, and sometimes we get too much and sometimes too little. We've been birding in our yard and not so much out of town as we would like. We like to walk and our goal is to walk our metro area more than we have in recent years. The "twin city" in central North Dakota has grown and changed quickly and walking is a good way to refresh our memory about places we've not been to in some years. It keeps us grounded in our truth. Yesterday's walk was an exploration of the "Mary Hill" in the summer sunshine on a quiet University of Mary campus, exploring all of the new structures that have been built there of native prairie stone.

Here are some photos (all but one taken by Moi) from Red Oak House in the midst of the whirlwind (and no, we've not yet had a tornado here in 2020 -- as Jim says "could happen!"). Sorry, no captions. No time for that today.

Big-Hearted Jim daylily (photo by Jim Fuglie)
Well, one caption. The last photo above is Big-Hearted Jim daylily, a gift from a thoughtful friend named Bob.