Little house on the prairie | July 14, 2021

After ten years in the country, Kyle and I have sold our house and are moving into town.  While we made the decision for a whole bunch of reasons – the biggest being that we were spending most of our time driving to and from Grand Forks – now that our departure is imminent, we’re all a little glum.  I know I personally am glum because it feels like we’re abandoning a long-time friend, and also because moving suuuucks.

The major suck has been the realization that I’m a hoarder.  For example, at some point I thought, “You know what we don’t have enough of?  Cloth napkins.”  And I bought 100,000 of them.  I then put them on the top shelf of my kitchen cupboards, which was the perfect place for a 5’2” me to hide them from myself.  I also discovered not one, but TWO, unopened birthday presents in my closet.  What kind of a psychopath doesn’t open a birthday present?  This psychopath.  (I didn’t open them because I went through a little phase where I decided I couldn’t open or use a gift until I sent a handwritten thank you note.  Obviously, that worked out GREAT.)

I’m so tired of moving that I’ve started fantasizing that a rich foreigner will come a-knockin’ on our door and proclaim, “I’ve just bought a castle in the area and am looking to furnish it with authentic Americana.  Do you have any used bric-a-brac that I may purchase for an extravagant sum?”  And then I’ll do that thing that card dealers do where they clap their hands and turn them back and forth a few times, and just walk away from my mountain of cloth napkins and (wildly concerning amount of) high school memorabilia and start my hoarding afresh in the new house.

Anyways, because I’m feeling pretty blue about leaving our little acreage on the prairie, I thought I’d share my worst memory of this house, and one of my best.

First, the worst:

We have a metal roof – and when the wind blows hard enough, it sounds vaguely like thunder.  As this is North Dakota and the wind is always blowing, not only do we not notice the roof noise, we often don’t hear actual thunder.  That is, except for one June night about five years ago.

It was 3:00am, and Kyle and I were awakened by a storm.  Despite the fact that it was a moonless night, our bedroom was as bright as day through our blackout curtains due to the constant flashing of lightning.  The thunder wasn’t so much as cracking as rolling, and the clatter battled with the driving wind and rain pouring over the roof to create a symphony made up only of drums.  We’d been through storms before but nothing like this, and Kyle got out of bed and walked over to the window to check it out.

“Kyle…” I said, and realized he couldn’t hear me.  So I shouted, “Kyle –” and with that, our house started to crack.

Our then-five-year-old was sleeping on the couch in our room, and with the first sounds of splintered wood and twisted metal Kyle grabbed him and ran for the basement.  I sprinted the five steps to our baby’s room; by the time I reached the knob the racket was akin to a train speeding through the center of the house.  I picked up our son like a football and took the steps three at a time down to the basement.

The total time elapsed from when I first woke up was about fifteen seconds – it was so fast that both boys were still snoozing when we set them on the guest bed.  And with that, the storm was over.

We walked back upstairs, fully expecting to find half of the house completely gone.  However, beyond a steady dripping of water in our bedroom, everything was as we had left it.  Kyle grabbed a flashlight and went out into the complete darkness to see if he could tell what had happened.  He met our neighbors walking across our yard.

“Are you guys okay??”  They asked.  “Because your roof is in our yard.”

If I had Morgan Freeman narrating my life, he would probably say,

“Amanda and Kyle may have lost their roof, but they gained a new perspective on gratitude.  One of their contractor friends came out at daybreak to button up the damage, and he was there through every step of the repair and insurance claim.  Friends came from far and wide to offer food and a helping hand, and Kyle and Amanda were able to rest easy knowing that their family was safe and sound.”

If I were a better person, Morgan Freeman would also say my worst memory of the house became the best – but in reality I only JUST stopped making the kids go down in the basement at the first sign of rain and we’re still finding bits of our attic insulation and shards of our yard furniture in the trees.  So, yeah, I’d prefer not to repeat that situation.

Now for one of my favorite memories:

When we were house hunting a decade ago, Kyle kept poo-pooing perfectly nice places because, in his words, “The yards are too small.”  Finally I’d had enough of it, and told our realtor to show us the biggest backyard on the market.  He took us to a little house on six acres tucked in a subdivision between three farm fields.

Not only had I never resided in the country, I had never lived anywhere without a lawn service.  I was very wary of rural life with all its wildlife and tractor traffic jams, but Kyle reassured me that green acres were the place to be.  We bought our house on the spot.

Fast-forward to the June before what our insurance agent later called “probably a tornado.”  Our youngest was fresh from the cooker, and I took our two boys outside for some Vitamin D.  We hadn’t gotten around to mowing due to baby exhaustion, and the yard was a field of yellow dandelions and green grass.  Our four-year-old picked flowers and rolled around for about twenty minutes before he stopped, stripped completely naked, and peed into the wind.  I watched that nudie kid bask in the sunshine and thought, “I guess that’s why a person needs a big yard.”

And then a frog jumped onto my foot and I freaked out as if it had shot a laserbeam out of its eyes.  But that’s another story.

(PS, Kyle also wanted to share his own favorite memory from this house:

Kyle built a baseball field at the back of our property, and the neighborhood boys were teaching our youngest son how to play.  After a bunch of swings he finally got a hit, and took off towards first base.

“Run home, run home!”  The big boys shouted at him – which he did, all the way up to the house and into the kitchen, where I was making dinner.)

I figured I couldn’t properly say goodbye to our house on here without a photo of it.  My dad is an architectural photographer and took the pictures when we listed it.  One of those photos is above.

This week’s news has a team of reenactors, a ton of Teddys, and a T-Rex.  Read on.

Bismarck has a new “Adopt-a-Block” food truck, which brings free food to families in need. (KFYR TV)

Our lives are only packing right now, so Kyle is going to be VERY disappointed to find that he will be missing a Living History Garrison event at Fort Abraham Lincoln this weekend. (Devils Lake Journal)

Wahpeton’s Louise Erdrich has received the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel based on her grandfather’s life – and the Wahpeton Daily News has a detailed interview about her process and inspiration. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Minot’s James Baker has a new wheelchair ramp, courtesy of the Northern Lights Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. (KX Net)

Seventeen-year-old Anika Sayler of Stark County saved Duane Sattler after his car rolled over in bad weather. (KX Net)

All of the Teddy Roosevelts North Dakota has to offer will be hanging out this weekend in Medora at the Badlands Chautauqua. (KX Net)

Fourteen-year-old Fargo musician Annabelle Maher will be performing on the “Today” show on July 20. (Fargo Forum)

People have come from all around the country for North Dakota’s annual dinosaur dig, which has already uncovered a T-Rex tooth. (KFYR TV)

The Shakin’ Parkinson’s Up Minot Support Group is holding art classes. (KFYR TV)

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