Deep North Design

deepno After procrastinating like crazy, I have finally slightly updated my website! It’s just the portfolio section, but you have no idea how big of a task it seemed like it was going to be in my mind. My biggest problem is that I don’t have the BEST organization of previous projects that I have worked on, so it seemed like a terrible task to take on. But y’all should take a look! Let me know what you think -and also let all of your friends know that you know this awesome railroad conductor / graphic designer that can make all your design dreams come true!


Insulation Overload

This last Saturday my dad, grandpa and I suited up to finally insulate my attic! The house is not very well insulated and so in the winter my furnace would run constantly.

I was in a pretty poor mood to start out with because I had just worked a 6pm-6am shift on the rails, doing a job that I have never done before. But once we got into the swing of things I had such a great time! My dad was in the attic making sure that the insulation ended up where it needed to be and gramps and I were in the trailer. Our teamwork ended up being pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. We found a pooper scooper rake (cleannn of course) to help fluff up the insulation in the fluffer and I cut open the packages of insulation and threw pieces of it into the fluffer. What a productive day!

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Feliz Navidad … from the internets

Welp! Here it is folks. Harvey got an iPhone a couple of weeks ago. And so henceforth our family will be led by a tech guru.

That being said, he wanted to put together a video Christmas card, of which my mother was none too enthralled about. In fact, I believe I heard the words. “The things I do for love.” Or something like that.

So BEHOLD the glorious 2013 Wall family Christmas card…

Disclaimer: We filmed this on an iPhone that was sandwiched in a box that was rubber-banded to a tripod, sooo the sound didn’t turn out so great. Just make sure to turn up the volume!

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  I think it’s safe to say that this thanksgiving was on the non-traditional side. It seems fitting being that life has been so weird lately.

Against all odds, I actually got Thanksgiving off of work. But I still thought I would be going to work around midnight or so, so I made sure to take a few naps!  Since mom and grandma were on their way back from Billings – Dad and Jory and I went to the Cottonwood for their grand turkey feast. It was actually very pleasant. They had everything you could ever imagine you would want for Thanksgiving dinner, and more. It was surprising to see how many people decided to forgo the 12 hours of cooking for a great $14 meal and no cleanup 😉 .

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Once Gram and Mom made it home Aunt Kristi and Kristin (my cousin Tyler’s wife) made made-from-the-home pizza and we called it ThanksGodforFamilyandPizza. Kristin made some BOMBin gluten-free pizza dough and we all tried a coffee-beer. (Too strong for all of us weaklings, but I brought some home to Dan and of course he loved it). It was a lovely dinner. We missed Uncle Arin and Drew, and of course Gramps.

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So Cheyne and Gage helped me make a poster for Grandpa to hang in his Glasgow room. They are a hoot! So fun and creative. Gage can draw a train like nobody’s business, and Cheyne is a little perfectionist with a passion for mustaches.

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I think everyone will be celebrating traditional Thanksgiving tomorrow… unfortunately I will be on a train from Minot to Glasgow about then. Hopefully I will make it back in time to pay a visit to my gramps though! Tyler gave me the report that Gramps made it to Glasgow this evening. Apparently he seemed tired, but happy to be in Glasgow. It is a good sign that they were able to move him all the way to Glasgow but the road ahead is long. Gramps is a fighter though – he wouldn’t still be with us if he weren’t! Just keep him in your prayers : )

I guess Grandma Yvonne is still hobbling along, probably doing more than she is supposed to be. Mom said she was decorating for Christmas when she stopped by earlier. Oh my. Also, as long as I am asking for prayers please send one or two up for my Aunt Carla – currently going through radiation for breast cancer, and also my Grandma Wall – took a spill eating her cheerios at 2am and had to get some staples in the back of her head! Uffda.

But all in all, life is so wonderful and I have many, many things to be thankful for. I have so much more than I deserve. This year has been challenging and exciting and terrifying and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

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Well, I’ve been slacking on the blogging duties lately. It’s been on the top of my to-do list for the past few weeks but there was never anything interesting or important enough to pull me out of the slump. But Alas! I bet there are a few of you out there who would really like to know how my Grandpa Doyle is doing.

[Disclaimer. We have some medics in the family, but I am not one of them. So I’ll give you the basics I understand]


For those of you who didn’t know that Gramps was getting a makeover… he went in for scheduled surgery on November 19th ( in Billings) to get two bypasses and a valve repair on his heart. He came out with a quadruple bypass and a valve repair.

{The Whole Fam Damily}

Wonderfully enough my Mom, Aunt Kristi, and Aunt Kathy and Uncle Wayne were all able to be there with Grandma and Grandpa for the whole week! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get here until Monday night, but it sounds like Grandpa was very happy to have his family here for him.

{Crash + Boom}

Gramps was kind of having a hard go of recovery.. no appetite and he had an irregular heartbeat. He also wasn’t able to stand without passing out. It seemed that maybe it was getting better but then they had to stand him up to weigh him and he crashed. They had to give him cpr and and oxygen. Apparently the top part of hi heart and the bottom part couldn’t get on sync. So on Sunday the 24th they put in a pacemaker. It did the trick! Since then he has been able to stand without passing out.


He had been in the ICU up to this point. It wasn’t ideally where he wanted to be but apparently the staff were attentive, fun, and made my family very comforted to know Gramps was in their hands. But on Monday it was time to move him to the general population (yay?). Mom said that Monday was kind of a rough day for him. Whatever medication they gave him made him have to go to the bathroom all the time :S

{Time to Party}

Tuesday Jory and I were here and able to visit. We vistited Gramps in the morning and he looked pretty rough but grandma said that he seemed chipper than normal. It was very encouraging that he had actually eaten some cereal for breakfast! Apparently he had only been sustaining on strawberry milkshakes up to that point. Haha, oh gramps. We visited for an hour or so but then left to let him nap. He didn’t have a good night sleep because he sat in his chair all night! He got used to the good life in the ICU with their plush mattresses, and I guess his new mattress was not at all to his liking. When we came back later that day he had eaten lunch and napped and was looking even better than earlier in the day! Jory and Gramps talked trucks and Gramps even asked to talk on the phone for a few minutes. Grandpa was also happy to see all of the photo booth photos that I convinced the family to take with me at the mall 😀 Only for grandpa will Karen ever set foot in a photobooth.

I went to see him for a few minutes this morning and he’s really looking great! They took out the drain tube, and said that later today they would take out the IV in his neck. I think he still has one or two other IVs but the one in his neck is super annoying. Gramps was very proud when he told mom and I all that he ate for breakfast and he was even able to shave : ) When the nurse came in Gramps told him that he really didn’t have any pain. I guess last night was better than the last and he was able to sleep off and on. He hasn’t been on his walk yet today but I have a good feeling about it!

{Oh Boy}

A few more prayer requests are in store as grandma had a little fall on the sidewalk and twisted her ankle yesterday. She seemed ok but it still hurt this morning so we took her to the clinic and.. she broke a bone in her foot! She has a boot and can walk but it’s slow going. I don’t think she’s very happy about it because the boot is not super cutie.


{Friends & Love & Prayers}

Grandma and mom have been inundated with calls and texts and love. We are all so grateful for the love and encouragement that has helped our family, and of course grandpa, get through this.  Of course since being here grandma has made random friends all over the hospital and has been passing on the love by support by being there for her new friends. Please keep gramps in your prayers as he’s not completely out of the woods yet. And maybe shoot up a prayer for grandma. She has been so strong through all of this.

{Are We There Yet?}

I think the plan is now that grampa should possibly be able to go home on Friday. He will be going to FMDH to a swing bed – where he is able to get some assistance and also do some therapy. Uncle Arin and his brother Drew are planning on coming to Billings Thursday morning and then bringing him home on Friday. TWO doctors escorting my gramps. I couldn’t be happier! Mom and Grandma will drive back to Glasgow then Thursday afternoon. Of course plans change, but this is what we will go with for now.

So at the moment things are looking on the up and up! I will try to keep everyone updated.

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i got plant hair!

DSC_2221  Somedays I just feel like hiding out and being a tree (or pretending to be a model captured by a hanging plant?) But alas, at the end of the day I am (still) a conductor. A little over a week and a few trips later I have not yet been fired or killed, so I will count that as a success. The trips I have taken since my first one have been considerably better, all things considered. I attribute it mostly to lots and lots of prayers and … well I don’t know what else.  A lot of prayers. I do a lot of praying when I am working. God, help me line this switch. God, help me not get cancer from all of this second hand smoke. God, please help the engineer be patient with me. God, help me make sense of what I need to do next. And so on and so forth. So for now I am still in the game. I have had a few interesting jobs such as training the NEW trainees, only 6 days after graduating my own training class. I laughed all day at that one… it was so silly to me that I was half in charge of 18 people that are pretty much in the same place as me. But it was a good boost to the ego because it made me feel great that there are at least 18 people out there that have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Ah, those poor souls. Well, we will see what the next week brings!

shit show

moutnains are calling


Well, my last post was full of a lot of excitement and energy. And here I sit… wondering.. what. have I got myself into.

The whole day my main though being, “I should be in the mountains graphic designing stuff.”

Dan says that it will get better. And I am going to try to believe him. I have only gone on one trip so far as a wholly certified railroader. And of course my first trip was one that involved taking this engine to this place.. moving cars around to get it where it needed to be.. and then taking the rest of our train to another place and setting out all the cars and cutting the crossings (cutting the train into smaller pieces so that the vehicle crossings aren’t blocked) and so forth. And all in places that I have never done work at while I was in training.

In the words of my engineer “I supposed all first trips are a bit of a shit-show” and “don’t take this the wrong way, but I think if you wanna keep your job you’re gonna have to eat some Wheaties.”

I messed so many things up – and couldn’t line a switch – and wasn’t able to take down one of the derails. They all say that if you can’t throw a switch or a derail it’s not your fault; they are the ones that hired you and it needs to be bad ordered if even one person can’t do it. But.. it’s still frustrating. And embarrassing. Needless to say I did make it through the day and nobody got hurt. So there is my sad story that I needed to share with the world.

I am just praying now that I get a nice easy trip to Minot, or even a dogcatch! (Where you go pick up a train somewhere and bring it back to Glasgow or wherever it needs to go). Something that doesn’t involve being in charge of switches and derails and lots of plans about things that I don’t really know yet.

I picked out this verse to memorize to hopefully help me the next time I am out there:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Also, I made the little graphic above, but the photo credit  goes to Dan (here is his 500px) and also the quote. Well, it’s not his quote but he did tell me about it.

Railroad Certified

Guessssss whattttttt?!!??!!


The photo above is me.. as a weak little conductor trainee. Behold! Now this lady is a certified conductor! My bad study habits paid off and (bragging rights for a sec) … I got the second highest score in my class! It doesn’t really matter because a pass is a pass. But I was pretty nervous, and the test was a little difficult. Needless to say I am proud of myself. This has been a pretty weird experience so far, and I can’t wait for it to get weirder!

It’s actually so weird, that I had a few thoughts today.

1) I can not believe how much useless information I now know about the rails! Well, for the the job it is useful, but for anything else in life .. I can not think of a thing that I could apply it to. Playing Thomas the train with little kids? Sure. That works.

2) These last few months have really felt surreal. Or, more like I feel like I have been playing dress up. As a conductor. When will it start to feel like my life?

3) What in the world.

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Anyways, referencing my earlier tidbit about being a successfully unsuccessful studier – yesterday (when I should have been studying) I made homemade granola for all of my classmates! I thought it would be a nice ‘goodmorning and goodluck’ gesture to all of them. Our exam was at 6am, so a cute mason jar full of healthy treats could only be good for the brain, right? I used 100 different kinds of nuts, some oats, random dried fruit, and my secret ingredient – crystallized ginger. The base of the recipe I got from my American turned German turned American friend, Shawna. Then of course I swiped all of my mom’s mason jars that she has been saving, slapped some chalkboard stickers on the side (that I found on sale $1.59 for 12 at Shopko!), and put a half-bow of baling twine on the top for good measure. I figured twine is manly, right? And also it’s the signature color of the railroad that I work for. So it all worked out great!

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The guys thanked me appropriately (their manlihood couldn’t handle looking like they were actually excited about something so cute and homemade).. but most all of everyone’s was gone by the time we left. And we all passed! That’s a win win win.

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It was a beautiful day for passing a test!



I don’t have much time to blog today. My conductor final is on Friday and I’m soooo nervous! There are about 10,000 questions and you have to get a 90% to pass! If you don’t they send you to Kansas City for an extra week of training, and if you don’t pass there.. tttssssssstt. You’re out. Pack yo bags! <ok, I guess it’s more like 200-some questions, not ten thousand> So I just finished my graphic design homework and now I am off to make sure I know all of my railroad.

So I leave with you a photo of the most gorgeous human being alive. You’re welcome.

Sighhhhh. : )

music FOR your ears

I’m usually pretty behind in the times.. so I’m sure I am here too. BUT. I just heard this song and it made me bob my head a little, so I deemed it worthy of a share! It was released in June 2013 as the first single from Avicii’s full-length debut studio album, True, which is set to be released … today!

Have you seen the music video? I’m really not sure how I feel about it.. or what it means exactly. I do know that one of the first things that I noticed were the blatant product placements for Ralph Lauren and Sony :S I really disliked that. My second reaction and thought to what the video represents is that the the beautiful people don’t fit with non-beautiful people. So when the older girl found other beautiful people on her Ralph Lauren horse her life can now be fulfilled.

Amen to that?