Octember, Anyone?

It has been freakin’ cold here lately. So cold, my words froze in midair this morning; I had to thaw them out in a frying pan before Tara could hear what I said. We ended up taking everything out of the freezer and huddling inside to keep warm. Three pints of ice cream are now serving as handy footstools in the living room, guys.

It’s so cold the local politicians have their hands in their own pockets for a change.

Think I’m kidding?

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This weather isn’t unusual for Rapid City, but it is unusual for Rapid City in October. Our high on Tuesday was 10º colder than our normal low for the date. If this is a harbinger of what’s to come this winter, we’re in for a brutal one. And the local weather guys are saying it just may be

It’s supposed to warm up for Halloween. This means upper 40s, which is still cold for the date, but at least it’s above freezing!

And yes, Ron, we had more snow.

This storm rolled in Monday evening, just as we were finishing up carving pumpkins. We only got 2” out of it, so not a lot, but again…October. I think we’re going to have to rename the month Octember, because it definitely feels more like Christmas than Halloween.

Speaking of jack-o-lanterns, I hadn’t carved a pumpkin in…hmm…maybe 10 years? The last time was with the kids, before Tara and I even got together. She hadn’t carved one since 1995! So, it was a fun (and novel) experience for us both. I have no idea how many trick-or-treaters we will get, being new to the ‘hood. I spoke to a neighbor recently and she said it varies; some years there will be a lot, and last year there were…two or three? I’ll be happy to see even one! It’s been a long time since I’ve passed out candy.

Plus, I really want an excuse to fire up the fog machine. Although the fog might freeze and force us to break it off in chunks in order to dispose of it.

Life on the great plains, I tell you!

2020 Visions

I’ve been reading posts about NaNoWriMo the last couple of days, and they have brought back memories. Back in 2016, I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first (and only) time in my life. It was a heady experience.

By “heady,” I mean, tough as hell.

50,000 words in 30 days is no small feat. And while I “won” the challenge, I didn’t magically write an entire novel in one month. I didn’t finish “Dream Sailors” until the following February (it ended up being closer to 80,000 words) and, I’m embarrassed to admit, I still haven’t finished editing it. Only one person has ever read it, and her name is not Tara (hi, Chris!). I’ll blame life’s general business. After finishing the novel, I uprooted my entire life and moved 1,250 miles across the country in 2018, and bought a house/started a new job in 2019. I have excuses, dammit!

But those excuses are beginning to wear thin. We’re settled in now. I have money in the bank. I really need to finish editing that novel and get it published. Tell you what: I’m making that an official New Year’s resolution for 2020. Next year, you’ll see my name in print again. It’s happening.

I also think I’d like to do NaNoWriMo again, but that’ll be next year. Yes, it was a lot of hard work. But I also think back fondly on that sense of accomplishment I felt. My favorite part was the two days I spent holed up in a vintage trailer in Ocean Shores, WA. Writing by candlelight, with wine and music and the gentle pattering of rain on the roof. I will always treasure that experience.

Because I’m a sucker for punishment apparently, I also took it upon myself to blog every single day that month. If nothing else, I was a freakin’ beast in November, 2016. I’m tempted to do that again this year, but when you work 40 hours a week as a writer, and much of your free time (mornings and weekends) as a freelance writer, the last thing in the world you feel like doing in your very limited free time is writing some more. Then again, we’re finally all settled into our house and winter is FAST APPROACHING (we had a little snow last weekend, and there’s more in the forecast), so what the hell else do I have going on?

Besides five more seasons of Mad Men, of course.

Work is still bomb dot com. Last Friday, I interviewed the GM of the Hotel Alex Johnson for a story about ghosts. That’ll go live on Monday. Talk about a topic right up my alley! I was regaling my coworkers afterward with stories of my own paranormal experiences. Oddly enough, here we are, living in a house where a woman died in February, and we haven’t had a single odd experience. Back in my old townhouse in Vancouver, Washington, my bathroom couldn’t have been more haunted. Go figure.

Saturday, I took advantage of decent weather to rake up a yard full of leaves, but underestimated the complexity of the project. I did not anticipate that it would take me a solid four hours and I’d end up filling fourteen yard waste bags (and a compost bin) full of leaves. Or that my arms and back would be throbbing with pain after. Tara suggested I take a hot bath and that sounded like a great idea, but we had a game night planned with people from her work and I just ran out of time.

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I talked to my parents that evening, and my mom asked if we had a grass catcher attached to our lawn mower. Yes, I said. Yes, we do. Why? “You could have just ‘cut the grass’ and then emptied all the leaves into those bags rather than kill yourself raking,” she replied.

Wow. Talk about a lightbulb moment. Moms really do know best!

So, should I shoot for 30 posts in 30 days next month, or what?

 

Objects in the Mirror

I had a traumatic incident today as I was headed home for lunch. It’s a warm day, so I had my car windows open. A wasp viewed this as an invitation to fly inside. While I was driving.

Oh, hell no.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep your eyes on the road while simultaneously staring into the rearview mirror, tracking every movement of an insect with a sharp stinger flying around the back seat?! The damn thing looked like it was hovering near the back passenger window, but then I remembered that objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear and freaked out all over again.

I’m pretty sure the only reason I didn’t end up in a ditch on the side of the road is because I was driving through downtown, where there’s nary a ditch to be found. Amazingly, I managed to keep my wits about me (meaning I didn’t scream like a little girl). Instead, I calmly slid open the power moonroof and started singing “Born Free” to encourage the wasp to exit my vehicle. Either that or I yelled, “Get the f!ck out of here!” To be honest, it’s all kind of a blur.

I hate it when you spot a bug in close proximity and then lose sight of it. One is never more aware of one’s own skin until one believes a bug is crawling over said skin. I swear I felt it land on me half a dozen times over the course of two miles, but I’m sure this was nothing more than my imagination.

Damn you, imagination! ‘Cause that was the longest eight-minute drive of my life.

By the time I pulled into the driveway, the wasp was gone. Either that, or hiding so it could torment me on the way back to the office.

So, yeah. It’s warm today. Pushing-80-degrees warm. You’d never know we had 6” of snow one week ago.

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Our tree lost all its leaves in 18 hours.

Naturally, the storm blew in right around the time I was playing staff photographer and doing a photoshoot for a groundbreaking ceremony downtown. It was cold and windy and spitting snow, and even though the event took place inside a tent, it felt like that might blow away at any moment. Fortunately, it didn’t, and my pictures turned out pretty good. My favorite part was hearing one of the city council members reading my executive proclamation out loud to the crowd. Pretty sure I had goosebumps the size of Cadillacs on my arms. Not that I could feel them ‘cause I was numb from the cold.

Fortunately, the worst of the storm held off until nighttime. The next morning, we awoke to a winter wonderland. On October 10. What can I say? Fall is the shortest season of all around these parts. I bounced up and down excitedly like a kid in a candy store…

…until I remembered that I actually had to shovel the stuff now.

That took a solid 45 minutes because we have a pretty good-sized driveway and decent stretch of sidewalk. I mentioned to Tara months ago that we might want to invest in a snowblower, and now I’m more convinced than ever that would be money well spent.

In any case, the snow’s all gone now, other than a few slushy piles in parking lots. I’m happy to report that autumn is back.

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Fall foliage at Horse Thief Lake.

But probably not for long.

The other big event last week was my company’s Raw Couture fashion show. It’s an annual event in which models wear edgy costumes made from raw materials that reflect the businesses sponsoring them, as well as the theme. This was our third year putting it on, and it’s growing more popular every time. The theme was “Forgotten Toys,” so we had a lot of really cool and slightly creepy costumes.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, since this was my first go-round; my job as “runner” sounded fairly generic. In the end, I was tasked with corralling the models, making sure they had their photos taken, lined up where they were supposed to, etc. It may sound glamorous, but…

Yeah. Not gonna lie. It actually was pretty fun. And revealing, in more ways than one. My only regret is that I remained backstage the whole time, so I didn’t actually get to see the show. But Tara was in the audience and enjoyed it very much.

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Me and the work crew.

Maybe next year I’ll get to do something where I can actually watch it myself.

 

I’m a Little Teapot $hort and $tout

When we were unpacking boxes that had been in storage for years this past summer, we came across a few items we’d forgotten all about. It was kind of like Christmas in July! One of these was an unassuming silver teapot that had once belonged to my grandmother. We already had a teapot—something cheap we’d picked up from Target years earlier—so I almost put the hand-me-down in our Goodwill donation pile. There was a card that accompanied it though, so I looked it up out of curiosity…and discovered we were the proud owners of an Alessi Michael Graves Kettle with Bird Whistle with a suggested list price of $190.

Umm…’scuse me?!

It’s a teapot. It boils water. Doesn’t get much more low-tech than that. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $20 for one (and I probably complained about that). And yet, it’s pretty much the most expensive kitchen item we own. I’m almost afraid to use it for fear that I’ll somehow break it. But the weather turned colder last weekend, so we did in fact try it out. The tea was amazing; there were hints of orange peel, lemongrass, licorice root, and affluence. I now know how Jeff Bezos feels when he’s sipping tea in his lakefront mansion while deciding whether to buy a Bugatti, Rolls Royce, or Lamborghini.

Thanks, grandma!


We are currently entertaining my parents this weekend. They decided to come out for one more visit before the snow begins flying (and might have made it up just in the nick of time…more on that in a sec).

Yesterday, we took them to Deadwood for Oktoberfest. That was kind of a disappointment…it wasn’t much of a festival, as far as German beer festivals go…but the day wasn’t a total bust because we drove through Spearfish Canyon after, and the fall foliage was absolutely stunning—at its peak this weekend, as a matter of fact.

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Sure do love that place.

After leaf peeping, we stopped for pizza at Dough Trader in Spearfish. Their claim to fame is sourdough crust. It’s pretty much our favorite pizza joint in the Black Hills.

Today, we went out for lunch at Prairie Berry Winery and stopped by Horse Thief Lake on the way back. Beautiful day, but a little chilly with the breeze blowing.

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They leave tomorrow afternoon, and that will officially mark the end of two months’ worth of visitors.

One of my goals this weekend was to practice my photography skills. Our staff photographer at work is on vacation this week, and asked if I would step in and do a photoshoot for a groundbreaking ceremony in downtown Rapid on Wednesday. A local business development corporation is building a new campus and the mayor and city council will be there. In fact, they’ll be reading a proclamation declaring October 9 “Innovation Day” in Rapid City. It’s kind of a big deal. I think I have a pretty good eye for photography, but am lacking in technical skills. Jesse (our photographer) gave me a crash course in shooting in RAW format and editing with Photoshop, so I was super excited to get out and shoot in Spearfish Canyon yesterday…

…but when we got there, I realized I’d forgotten my camera at home.

&*#$%

At least I was able to make up for that today with the trip to Horse Thief Lake and a detour past good ol’ George.

By the way, guess who wrote the Innovation Day proclamation for the city??

Yeah. I have the best job ever.

The only downside might be the weather. Tuesday is going to be sunny and 72º but because this is South Dakota, they’re predicting rain turning to snow on Wednesday and possibly heavy snow overnight. Our high on Thursday is forecast to be 29º. This about sums it up:

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Hope you’re enjoying nice fall weather and colors in your neck of the woods!