Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Disco Closet. Not Everyone Has One!

Having arrived in Westby and surrounding parts ready to settle down and settle in, I next bent my attention to preparing my belongings for winter. Most of my things were stored in Noni's spare house and, since I'm not going to have a house of my own for a while, they needed to be repacked. Not everything in the boxes was compatible with sub-zero temperatures.

Now that my trailer had safely arrived and been installed in the charming town of Grenora, I also needed to work on the wonderful 70's explosion that was my trailer. It needed both practical and aesthetic improvements. My first large project was putting in carpet. I had purchased a carpet remnant and some padding remnants in California, knowing that I didn't have enough carpet to quite cover the floor, but figuring that some was better than none, I persevered.

The first thing I discovered was that cutting the foam padding is hard work and dulls utility blades VERY QUICKLY. Later, oh so much later, I discovered that it works much better to cut from the bottom so you cut the netting first. Then the rest of the cut is much easier! After my dubious triumph over the padding, it was on to the carpet. The carpet looked like a crazy quilt once I carefully cut all the pieces I could get out of my remnant (and as you can see, I had very, very few scraps left!), but a little charming taupe duct tape on all the seams and it looked great. If you squint, you can almost think the duct tape is wood trim. Almost.

After the carpet, it was time to insulate. I had two rolls of foil bubble-wrap like material that I planned to put on the inside of all my cupboards for a little extra insulation against the frigid North. It worked OK, and I got almost all of my cupboards done before my supply ran out. I was especially fond of my closet once the insulating makeover was complete. I call it my disco closet and hope to find an inexpensive disco ball to hang there at some point. It would feel right at home.
I still have so much more to do to prepare for winter, including getting my door fixed. It has decided to quit latching, and I now hold it closed with a leash each night. Not surprisingly, that doesn't do much for keeping out drafts. But, fortunately for my bank account and unfortunately for my time, I have a job now, which is keeping me busy and keeping me not working on my trailer. I suppose when I have icicles hanging off my nose I shall be able to dig deep and find the time, but then again, maybe if I delay someone might do it for me....Hmmmmmmmm.......
Affordable housing, North Dakota Style.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good-bye, Taco Bell

A perfect illustration of the truth that merely believing in something is not enough. Time to go, and Jackie really, really believed she was going with us. But, alas, believing was not enough without facts to back it up, and she was left behind while Finley and Anika rode in regal splendor down the driveway.
I left California early Sunday morning, unsure of how far I'd get that day, but knowing I had to be in Bozeman at 11:00 the next morning for an appointment. Nevada was, well, NEVADA, and there's not much else to say about it. I did finally stop at a fascinating looking California Trail museum out by Elko after years of wanting to stop but never having the time. It was closed for the season.

To add to my distaste of Nevada, when I stopped in Wells to see if I could get a headlight bulb since mine was out, the kind gentlemen at the SHELL STATION IN WELLS, NV tried to fleece me. They began an elaborately concerned act about my something or other in my right front tire. It wouldn't have made any difference if I was gullible, since I had no money for repair. I brightly told them that I'd just have to pray about it, and God would just have to get me to North Dakota safely. After I left, I called my dad who confirmed they had been attempting to hornswoggle me. As Noni says, "Wells is a great place......to leave!"

I stopped at my traditional rest stop by Jackpot and let the poochies out to play in the water, then continued on my push through Idaho. I was able to get a bulb in Idaho Falls and installed it myself, thank you very much. Unfortunately, darkness overtook me before reaching my favorite part of the journey, the little sideswipe through Yellowstone. However, I was able to reach Bozeman by 12:00 that night after 17 hours on the road.

A successful visit with John on the beautiful school campus, and a completed appointment later, I was on the road again heading ever farther east. In Billings it was time for another bitter-sweet farewell, this time to a very important part of my life. Taco Bell. Still, I can hope for occasional reunions, since there is one where both kids go to school.

Much, too much of Montana later, I arrived in Westby, exhausted, but relieved that I wouldn't have to make that trip again for a while. Now it's time to unpack, sort, get ready for winter, fix up my trailer, look for a job, and do all the miscellany required to downsize a 4 person household into a functional trailer-size unit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Little Icebox on the Prairie

Originally, when I thought of moving to North Dakota, I pictured the fun scenario of buying a cute little fixer-upper farm house. I would stun everyone with my hitherto unknown prowess of house repair and transform what was previously discounted and unwanted into a showpiece of cuteness. I even had a blog title picked out for my experiences..."Little House on the Prairie: 21st Century Edition".

But none of those plans worked out. See, there's something called the Williston Basin, a large geological something-or-other that includes parts of 3 Canadian provinces and 3 states. It also has a lot of oil in it that people start pumping at random times and thus create an oil boom.

When things aren't booming, there's not a whole lot going on otherwise. There's wonderful and important crop production, but that's not exactly the sort of thing that drives tourism. But with the oil boom, and the rest of the country's economy doing so poorly, one thing the Williston Basin has right now is JOBS. Lots of jobs.

Lots of people want those lots of jobs, but during the none-boom years, all those farmers are NOT building lots of houses. There is a finite number needed to support the regular population. This leads to an interesting little equation.
People(P) - Housing(H) = Housing Shortage (HS). Then we get into some of your higher math, which is P-H=HS + Winter = Brrrrrrr!

I looked and looked for some kind of rental, but came up empty over and over again. Finally it came to the point where I had to make a decision RIGHT NOW, so I rented a trailer space in a cute North Dakota town named Grenora. At the time I felt very sorry for myself, but I'm coming to be grateful for what I have as I read of those who can't even find a space to rent.

I still plan on looking very consistently for a house to rent, but barring that happy circumstance, I will be spending my first winter in North Dakota in a little travel trailer. With two hairy dogs. Who didn't want to go outside to go to the bathroom in California if it was raining!

My dad helped me look at a few trailers before we found one that was structurally sound for a price I could afford. We finally got one for $1400 and my wonderful Daddy has been spending the last couple of weeks working on incomprehensible things like lights, vents, wiring, and such. I contributed to the over-all effort by scraping the peeling paint from the roof and re-coating it with roof goo. My mom helped by being properly admiring, and the dogs helped by seasoning everything with a preliminary coating of dog hair.

And so, without further ado, I introduce the new Kahrs' family home.

The interior, including my spacious bathroom, where you have to step outside to change your mind.

I won't be cheated out of my remodeling fun after all, since I plan on doing a few small things the budget allows to update the look of my little house-box. But the main priority will be to winterize it so I don't freeze. And in North Dakota, that's not the hyperbole that it might be in other states. What fun it will all be!

A Photographic Synopsis of Summer

This summer was nothing like I naively expected it to be back in May. I had a whole idea of how it would go, what we would do, and how it would end up. Phooey on that! I can't complain (even though I think that's what I'm doing...) because while our summer experience wasn't what I expected it to be, with God's help we all ended up at the right destinations.

John spent the summer in Georgia working as a Bible worker's assistant. He had fun, got to experience summer in the south, but that removed him from all our activities. He was gone by the 4th of July when we visited the ghost town of Alkabo.We explored the old school house, played on the playground (and let me tell you, things were a lot more fun on playgrounds before they discovered safety), then came home for fireworks in the driveway.

We went swimming,

visited museums,

and finally it was time for Caleb to go to his school.

After Caleb was in school, Laura and I made a quick trip out to California to help my mom pack and to pick up more of our stuff. We also delivered the world's most sweet and innocent border collie pup to my parents for their viewing pleasure.
They called her Jacqueline Hyde due to her split personality. She is the wildest, harum-scarum dog I've ever had the privilege to cuddle with. The perfect companion for their old age; they'll never stagnate while she's around!

When we returned, it was time to claim our North Dakota residency heritage, so we began camping 15 or so miles across the border at Lake Skjermo. It was different, being one of the homeless population, camping in our car. Never thought that would happen! We had tried a tent, but the first time we left it up the wind blew it over and broke it. >:( Still, the surroundings were beautiful, we could always go swimming, and the lightning shows were some of the most spectacular I've ever seen.

Inevitably, the summer rolled to a close and it was time for the other kids to start school. Laura enjoyed transforming her dorm room. As a young lady who had stayed in a made-over closet for the last 8 years, having all that space of her own was quite intoxicating.

John was picked up at the airport later that week, after being 'lost' by the airlines for a second time and spending the night at the airport in Nebraska. We left a couple days later to drop him off on the other side of Montana on my way out to California. His school is located in one of the purtiest places on earth. It's an outdoors-man's paradise. Lots of hiking, skiing, and exploring to do.

I've been out in California for the last 3 weeks having a lovely time packing and shopping at all the thrift stores. Now I need to get back, get settled, and get a job. I am leaving tomorrow night for the long trek east to my home in North Dakota. Oddly enough, I'm bringing my home with me on the trip, as well.