Monkey Business on the Mouse River

Roosevelt neighborhood takings

At a meeting at the Moose Lodge several years ago, a spokesman for the city of Minot commented about one intention of the resilience grant was to keep people from being financially ruined by the city’s taking of their property.

This is an established neighborhood of moderate means. People have worked very hard and paid for their houses, and they cannot afford to start making mortgage payments because somebody in another part of the city wants to profit off the backs of those of us in a less expensive neighborhood.

One intention of this resilience grant was to permit the city to make up the cost difference, because if you have a paid off, three bedroom, 1500 square foot house that is being taken by the city, you should be able to move into another paid off, three bedroom, 1500 square foot house without being driven to financial ruin in the process.

Nice Girls

Nice Girls Don’t…

In the world where I grew up, I was taught from infancy, “Nice girls get fully dressed before leaving their bedroom.”

Fully dressed includes all clothing, socks, and enclosed shoes.

It was never acceptable to walk around the house wearing stockings without shoes. Socks are an undergarment, not outerwear.

Nice girls would no more go out in public with bare feet than with a bare bottom.

At the pool or the beach, you could wear thongs or sandals, but they were not considered appropriate for street wear in public.

A few years ago, people started wearing shower shoes in public and calling them “flip flops.” About that same time, some people started asking guests in their house to remove their shoes. In my brain, that is a slightly disreputable request. I always expect the next comment to be, “Pssst…Take off your pants, and we can look at some naughty pictures.”

not so tasty chicken

slim chikn

The good, the bad, the ugly.

The lines have been insane since it opened, so we waited to try the new Slim Chickens until today. (13 Jan 2020, 1214hrs)

The cute guy ordered a Classic Meal and I ordered a Bacon Ranch Chicken Sandwich Meal.

$18.79. Spendy for a fast food lunch – about five bucks more than eating at McD’s or our usual order at Subway. I pay at the counter, they give me a number and two glasses, and we go into the dining room to look for a seat.

The cute guy spotted the row of tiny tables for two. I could not see them, as they were hidden behind the bar-high tables for six. These tables for two are tiny, but we sit down and stand up the number. On the table is a cardboard corral, holding a roll of paper towels and a ketchup bottle. The table is a bit wobbly, so the corral is needed to keep the paper towels on the table. The cute guy raises his eyebrows at the roll of paper towels instead of a napkin dispenser. We laughed, assuming the need for a roll of paper towels was a good sign and promised us amazingly juicy fried chicken.

We filled our sodas from the dispenser and the server brought out our meals. The tabletop was completely filled when she set down the meal bowls. My sandwich was dry. I had expected it to be juicy chicken, dripping with gooey ranch dressing. It needed salt. The cute guy also needed salt for his meal, so he went up to get some from the rack. He brought back packets of pepper. There was no salt in the holder marked “S & P,”  just pepper.

“I’ll go to the counter and ask,” I said as I stood up.  The table rocked, and my cup hit the floor. It exploded. It had a “spillproof” lid on the cup, which was still secure, but the side was split out.

I picked up the cup and went up to the counter.  I waited as several other people were waited on. Each of the two people working the counter took several new food orders as I stood there. Finally somebody noticed me. “What can I get for you?”

I smiled. “I need salt, a new cup, sauce for my sandwich, and a mop.”

The lady working the counter handed me a cup and tossed the broken one. She called to a young man in the back to bring out salt, and went back to the front counter to take orders. He brought two salt packets and four pepper packets. I shook my head. “I don’t need any pepper — just salt.” He took back the pepper packets and brought out salt.

Half a loaf is better than none. No sauce for my sandwich, no mop…but I did get the salt and a cup. The cute guy used the roll of paper towels to mop up the floor. He didn’t like the garlic parmesan sauce he had got, so he offered it to me to try. It was more of an oil-vinegar salad dressing with garlic and parmesan – more oily than creamy. I was not impressed either.

I nibbled on a few fries. Then I picked up a French fry and saw the hair attached to it. Not a long hair of mine sitting on top, but embedded into the fry – short, black and curly. I showed it to the lady wiping the table next to us, and she was horrified. She quickly grabbed it, grabbed my bowl, and whisked it away.

A short while later, she returned with a new meal. Beaming proudly, she said “I had them remake the meal for you!”

She meant well. I wished she had not done that, as my appetite was gone. It is actually hard to destroy my appetite — I didn’t get this girlish figure by missing many meals — but I was not able to eat the replacement meal.

To be honest, I’m not sure what Slim Chicken could have done to make me happy at that point. I do know I won’t ever go back there, and I cannot give them a good review.

Once Upon a Time in Albuquerque…

The house was brand new, built to  “order” as part of a builder’s development. The back wall of the yard was cinderblock, and beyond the wall was the school yard. Milly liked the idea of looking over the back wall and watching her children walk up to the doors of the school.

One of the big “selling points” for Macon Builders was the school. They were not in charge of building the school, but Macon could point to the brand-new school as an enticement to prospective buyers.

The school was supposed to be completed and open in the fall of 1964. Assorted strikes slowed the construction. Not only were there strikes involving different groups of workers on the project,  but the supply chain was in disarray. Some materials were in short supply because of different disputes with union workers.

Even though the construction was slow, the school attracted more families with small children to the area, and other subdivisions sprang up around it. When the school was finally completed and open in 1967, it was already far too small for the number of children in the area.

Two years later, they brought in portable classrooms. These portable classrooms were called “barracks buildings” by the community. No Army surplus was involved in the purchase, but the name stuck.

Barracks buildings provided extra classroom space at many schools in the district. Bringing in these fully-built units did not require the years of construction and cost-overrun it would take to add on to all of the schools. Everybody won with this arrangement — several of the school board members owned the company that provided the portable buildings.

These barracks buildings provided another purpose. Blocked from view with a cinderblock wall on one side and a square metal building on the other, an alley market sprang to life. Local preteens found it to be the perfect smoking section, free of prying adult eyes. Older teenagers bought, sold, and traded pot, pills, and pilferage.

Neighbors called the city to complain. The police were not interested in these petty complaints, as they were never able to catch any drug sales in the act. Due to the layout of the school yard, the teens could scatter before the cops could reach them. The school system shrugged it off. These problems were not happening during school hours, and the culprits were not their students. This is an elementary school, for goodness sake!

Summer dragged on. The neighborhood was losing patience with the situation. Now piles of trash were building up in the alleyway. As school was not in session, the school system did not have any groundskeepers actively policing the corners of the schoolyard.

Preteens smokers are careless. Being children, they don’t think consequences through very well. When they heard a noise and scattered quickly, their discarded butts were tossed into a pile of trash to hide the evidence.

The garbage smoldered quietly, spreading lazily from pile to pile, until a stray breeze fanned it into flames.

As flames licked up the wooden steps, the neighbors saw the smoke. Several neighbors had called the Fire Department to report the fire, and were impatiently waiting for the fire trucks to arrive.

Flames were now dancing against the side of the building. “This is bullshit!” Dave yelled, he grabbed his garden hose from his back yard. Herb and Johnson quickly followed suit. The three men aimed their water hoses at the building, stopping the fire from engulfing it. The steps and landing were a total loss, but the quick action by the neighbors meant the building did not catch fire.

The Fire Chief was not amused. “What the hell did you think you were doing?” he shouted at the bewildered neighbors. They had expected a word of thanks. Possibly a pat on the back for a job well done. Wildfire is a problem in dry desert areas – an untended spark can rapidly blow up into an inferno – and the neighbors had no intention of losing their homes without a fight.

Red faced and blustering, the Fire Chief harangued the men. “I oughta have you all arrested! Interfering with the  Fire Department!

Shame on them for saving their homes…