Saturday, February 14, 2009


Happy Almost-Over Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day is a non-holiday in our house. We pretty much haven't observed it since Kristen went away to college. Dan thinks it's all a ploy by the florists, candy manufacturers, jewelers and card makers. He absolutely refuses to take part. Although I was miffed in the beginning, I have come to agree with him. I don't need a dozen roses as proof of his love for me. He has shown me his love by warming up my car for me every cold morning this winter, and helping me do practically everything since I hurt my knee on February 2.

Unfortunately, my knee is no better. I have been using a walker - which, by the way, Dan had the idea to rent for me, as the clinic did not offer me crutches or walker. I took the full regimen of 10-days' worth of anti-inflammatory/pain pills, and still ended up with a pain scale of 10/10. The doctor at the clinic had told me that if the pills didn't work, the next step would be cortisone shots and/or physical therapy. Neither one appeals to me, especially the PT, since it did nothing for my hands when I had moderate-to-severe carpal tunnel syndrome last winter. I had ultrasound, hot wax and fluidotherapy treatments to no avail.

What did help my CTS (100%!) was acupuncture, so I have decided to go that route with my knee. I had my first treatment on Thursday afternoon. I'm hoping it doesn't take too many treatments (it took four for my hands). So I have been pretty much housebound for a couple of weeks. I never left the house at all the first week, and this past week I went to work but nowhere else.

My sister took me to lunch today, which was great, and then she did something even nicer. She offered to take me for a drive! I felt like I had been released from jail - or the loony bin. It was a beautiful day. It wasn't all that warm, but the sun was shining - a rare occurrence this winter. It was warm in the car, the snow on the pavement was melting, and I was free to sit back and enjoy the scenery.

We took River Road north along the Missouri River. On the east side of the road were the majestic bluffs of the river valley, and on the west was the great Mighty Mo. The area is heavily wooded, interspersed with meadows covered by deep, untrammeled snow. The snow was dazzling to the eye against the brilliant blue sky. We had fun pretending that the snow-covered bluffs to the north were mini-mountains (the ND mountain removal project was completed some years ago - LOL!), speculating on the price of riverfront property and wondering about a tiny sign that said "The Road to Nowhere." (I wasn't able to - and she wasn't inclined to - check it out.)


As we went along, I realized I was getting a mini history lesson. Bismarck has a wonderfully rich cultural heritage. It is comprised - in part - by the presence of the aboriginal occupants of this land, the Native Americans; the incredible journey of Lewis & Clark to explore the great unknown continent; the Indian Wars and the colossal Missouri itself, including the days of the paddle boat.

The land by the river in Bismarck is dotted by at least four parks, which contain monuments depicting the area's history. As we stopped at replicas and statues, I was dreaming of days long ago, when Lewis & Clark took on the Missouri with keel boats like the one shown above. What courage it took! In fact, if you want to read about L &C and their historic voyage, you can't do better than "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose. (Forgive me, but we NoDaks consider Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to be our own. They went up the Missouri in 1804 and came back down in 1806. The first year, they overwintered with the Mandan Indians at Washburn, not far north of Bismarck, and found Sakakawea there. (Her statue is on our State Capitol grounds.)

The Lewis & Clark paddle boat is in dry dock for the winter. This boat is a pleasure boat holding dinner and evening cruises on beautiful summer nights. But I was imagining the summer day when another paddle boat, Far West, landed in Bismarck in 1876, carrying the news about/survivors of the Custer Massacre in Montana. The Bismarck Tribune telegraphed reports found with slain Tribune reporter Mark Kellogg and other news about the great national catastrophe. (Remember that I once worked for the Tribune - what a legacy!)

"THUNDERBIRDS," a sculpture by students
at United Tribes Techical College in Bismarck

And of course, there are the days when The People - the Lakota (Sioux), the Mandan, the Arikara, the Hidatsa and the Chippewa - held sway over the land. The days when the lands of The People spanned an area from the Missouri to the West Coast.
Over and over again, the Eagle theme presented itself to us. The case can be made, wouldn't you think, that the Thunderbirds statue above depicts eagles? This sculpture is meant to show four archetypal thunderbird myths from four geographical regions of the United States. This sculpture, along with the keel boat, is in Keelboat Park along the river.

"RISING EAGLE" sculpture by UTTC students

Farther north, in Pioneer Park, we found "Rising Eagle, also created by United Tribe students.

Another view of "RISING EAGLE"

And finally, my favorite sculpture of all, "Reflections" (below), an eagle whose wings surround a reflecting ball. This native sculpture is meant to represent Mother Earth and the area's natural beauty.

"REFLECTIONS" sculpture by UTTC students

Unfortunately, and sadly, both "Rising Eagle" and "Reflections" were vandalized during or shortly after installation. I don't even have words for these despicable acts and the people who perpetrated them. All I can say is thank God - or Great Spirit - that at least one group in our North Dakota population still respects and reveres Mother Earth.

There are more eagle sculptures in Bismarck that we did not explore today. There is a magnificent eagle in full wingspan in Custer Park in the center of Bismarck not far from where I live, and I understand that there are eagle sculptures at Dakota Zoo in Sertoma Park in the south end of Bismarck.

One of these days (but in summer time) I will take you to to the west side of the river - where the Mandan Indian population thrived in a stationary agricultural settlements along the Missouri, and to Gen. George Custer's Fort Lincoln - located in the same spot but centuries later.


I know, I know: Some of these pictures were taken in the winter and some in the summer. Not having a digital camera, I had to find the pictures on the Internet. But that will soon change, I hope. A dear blogging friend has offered me the use of her "old" camera as she updates to a newer one. Thank you, Miss S! (I will let you remain anonymous unless you want me to print your name.)


Sometimes It's Good said...

Really enjoyed this post! Hope the accupuncture works quickly.
Hugs, Susan

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

Thanks for the tour- both summer & winder :-)

Hope your knee get better- I can't believe how much you've gone through! If the acupuncture works, be sure to let us know - Mr. B may be a good candidate!
Have a sunny Sunday my friend.

Anonymous said...

You are a very good Tour Guide! I hope the treatments have your knee feeling better soon. Take Care!

marthaberry said...

I am glad you got out. It can be so difficult to heal when cooped up. Sunshine does miracles.

I like hearing about your local history. I didn't realize the connection to Lewis and Clark, who were probably my favorite American explorers.

Take care!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

What a lovely trip through your local history - so glad you could get out for a while - and happy we could go along.

As for Valentines Day - sometimes Don and I do it up fancy - with flowers, candy and dinner out - and sometimes we spend the day having a nice breafast out in the morning - then helping our kids clean their apartment before moving into the new house they just bought - and end with two old people :-) sitting in the living room talking and eating pizza. Just depends on the year - we've been celebrating Valentines Day long before it was the big commercial whoopdeedoo that it is now (now you know why there were two old people sitting in the living room last night) - and it usually ends up being a day that includes family and friends - just like our everyday life - which I think is a super way to celebrate (just like Dan starting your car - what a sweet thing to do)

Sheila said...

We don't celebrate Valentines Day either, other than to send cards to the grandchildren.
I enjoyed going along with you on your drive. Your area is rich in history, it's very interesting. I'm hoping the acupuncture helps with your knee,the cold damp weather at this time of year must make it more painful. Fingers crossed it will soon heal.

Lila Rostenberg said...

So happy you were aboe to get out and enjoy your Saturday!
Very interesting post about the things you saw!
My hubby's very fond of the "Undaunted Courage" book!

Kate Robertson said...


I hope your knee is better soon. Pain as a constant companion is no fun.


Michelle said...

I hope your health get better! I't sad that your knee hurt :( But it's great that you spent nice day with your sister - what a lovely trip :)

Leanne said...

Hi Julie, St Vals day here was quietly ignored, especially considering my ex left in February last year, the day after!!
I am so glad you had a lovely day out, a real break for you, and i hope it lifted your spirits, and that you feel a lot better really soon

leanne x

Leanne said...

Hi Julie, St Vals day here was quietly ignored, especially considering my ex left in February last year, the day after!!
I am so glad you had a lovely day out, a real break for you, and i hope it lifted your spirits, and that you feel a lot better really soon

leanne x

gma said...

Julie...So glad you were able to get out and about. It sure helps the spirits to get a change of scenery once in a while. I love history so enjoyed your ride as well...Praying the acpuncture does the trick. LOVE!!!

Bimbimbie said...

Oh Julie, Sorry to read your knee is no better. I'm glad you got to enjoy some time out from your temporary prison and were able to share some of the history and sights with your sister and us. It's sad to think there are people who are happy destroying art which has been created for everyone's enjoyment :(

Shopgirl said...

You have gone through so much with this knee, I have a husband that had a knee replacement after years of pain. I Understand.
A couple of years ago Arney and I decided to go from our house to Portland Oregon and then down the cost of Oregon and California. Lewis and Clark went down the Columbia river, and it is wide and beautiful. Then we spent the night in Sea Side Oregon where they first saw the ocean. It must have been a thrill to behold, so they have a statue in their honor there.
To go to the places they have been is remarkable. I will find my pictures and share them with you when I get my mind right.
Thank You for sharing, Hugs, Mary

Miss Robyn said...

so glad that you are finding acupuncture such a help. I am off today to have some for my back and legs. the legs keep going numb, so hopefully that will be fixed!

I am just catching up and tracing blogs .. a new computer and lost all my favourites! I hope the weather is warming up for you xo

Kim Campbell said...

We do cards and little inexpesive gifites. I got "Cars" stickers for my scrapbboking endeavors. THAT'S the kind of stuff I prefer.

What a great tour! I love history and this bit your area really appeals to the "history buff" in me.

I hope the acupunture is going well.