About Mark Petruska

I'm a writer/editor and self-published author who left the PNW for a fresh start in Rapid City, South Dakota in 2018. I've always been a Midwesterner at heart.

Snow is My Pizza

If anybody is looking for an idea for a Christmas gift for me, I’m a size large snowblower.

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Our driveway, post-blizzard. Yes, we had to shovel all that snow.

The National Weather Service was predicting 8-12″ of snow for Rapid City on Saturday. There’s no way we’re going to get that much, I thought. Well, I was right.

We ended up with 17″ of snow.

And that, my friends, was a record for the biggest daily snowfall in November in Rapid City history. Way to overachieve! We ended up with 26″ for the month, which makes it the snowiest November on record.

Sure was pretty when it was coming down…

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But once those winds started gusting to 60 mph, the snow started piling up into waist-high drifts. Which Tara and I had to tackle with shovels, while everybody else in the neighborhood had snowblowers.

This was our street, before the plow came through Sunday afternoon. Hard to believe there’s a road there!

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Later on, after a few vehicles with AWD were able to navigate down the hill:

I have long been a snow lover. All my friends know this. The climate in Rapid City was actually one of the key motivating factors in moving here. After the blizzard, my friend Heidi asked, “Still loving the snow?” This is similar to comments I receive every time I post photos of snowstorms. People tend to think that I am suddenly sick and tired of snow and ready to move back to Portland.

Here’s the deal. Let’s say you love pizza, and one day, go out to dinner at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. You end up consuming 17″ worth of pizza. Are you going to be “over” pizza forever afterward because you ate too much?

Of course not.

Snow is my pizza, only minus the pepperoni.

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Is it a pain in the ass to shovel? Yes. Are the roads treacherous to drive on for days afterward? You betcha. Is my car still struggling to get up the hill leading to my house, three days after the blizzard, even when it’s sunny and pushing 50 degrees? Yep.

But there’s just something about it that I love. Maybe I’m a little nuts. But I figure, it’s nothing that a snowblower and an AWD vehicle can’t handle. Both of which are very much in my future.

And I know for a fact that my blogging friend Ron can relate.

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My neighborhood is beautiful in the winter!

So, let it snow!

White Knuckles

I was bitching this morning about having to go to work on Black Friday, but alas, I have ended up working from home. Which still isn’t not working, but at least it’s working in the comfort of sweats. One of those split-the-difference scenarios, I guess.

For the record, I tried to go to work, but we have had freezing drizzle since mid-day yesterday and as a result, the streets are a sheet of ice. I didn’t think conditions were going to be all that bad, but Tara and I left at the same time, and I watched in horror as her truck slid sideways down our hill. My brakes were equally ineffective. I almost turned around right then and there but I soldiered on, slipping and sliding, and finally decided going into the office just wasn’t worth chancing, especially since I had my laptop with me anyway. Making matters worse, there’s a 1/2″ glaze of ice on the ground and every step is super treacherous. So I turned around and headed back. If I’d stayed, I would have worried the whole time about getting back home anyway; we have a Blizzard Warning beginning at 6 p.m. and lasting until Sunday morning, so the weather is only going to get worse. That freezing drizzle is going to turn to snow, the snow is going to get heavy, and the winds are going to really pick up. Nobody needs to be out in weather like that.

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The drive back wasn’t much better. Even going 5 mph through the neighborhood I was fishtailing and struggled to get up the hill. Hardest of all was making it back up our driveway; my wheels were spinning helplessly, so I really had to gun it and then hope I didn’t go careening into the side of the house. We just had our sewer line repaired; the last thing we need is exterior damage to our house! Talk about a white-knuckle drive. Apparently Tara slid into a curb in the parking lot of her work, so I will breathe easier once she gets home this evening. I’m hoping they’ll let her go early.

I had planned on taking advantage of a one-day Black Friday sale on a snowblower at Lowe’s on my lunch hour today, but I’m not going to chance those roads again. Too bad. It hasn’t taken us long to realize shoveling our large driveway and sidewalks is a real chore, one that a snowblower will really help with.

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So, about our storm: it’s looking to be a doozy. They are predicting heavy snow (8-12″) on top of that glaze of ice, and winds gusting to 65 mph. Sadly, Rapid City’s holiday winter market, downtown tree lighting ceremony, and festival of lights parade are all scheduled for tomorrow, plus it’s Small Business Saturday. It looks like Pennington County may issue a no-travel advisory, so all those events are likely to be cancelled. We were looking forward to them, but what can you do? I’m just hoping our power doesn’t go out now that we have a new aquarium full of tropical fish. We have plenty of food and plan to work on putting up Christmas decorations, so we don’t have to go anywhere.

On a brighter note, our first Thanksgiving in our new house was just about perfect. We always enjoyed hosting family for the holiday, but I’m not gonna lie, being able to kick back and do our own thing is pretty nice. Other than a last-minute trip to Family Fare for a can of evaporated milk, and having to spread rock salt and shovel the driveway and front stairs, it was a pretty leisurely day. We drank wine, listened to music, and ate delicious food. After, we retired to the basement, where we started a blazing fire and watched “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” Really couldn’t have asked for a better day!

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Great first Thanksgiving in our new home.

Now, let the hunkering down commence.

Teddy FTW

I have been nominated by Claudette (a writer of words, etc.) for a major award. (Or maybe I’m just channeling Ralphie’s dad, aka The Old Man, from A Christmas Story.) Instead of a leg lamp though, it’s a Special Blogger Award. I’d go into more detail, but it’s some real high-level stuff and I’m not at the mercy to divulge state secrets.

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I’ve recently been on a quest to read more blogs and have diligently sought out new people to read. You know what? It’s harder than you think to find interesting people who are good writers and storytellers, but Claudette is one of them. Like a few other favorite bloggers, she’s Canadian. How could I resist?

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NOT my award. Unfortunately.

I have seen these awards circulating through the blogosphere for years and have been nominated a few times in the past but never bothered playing along. But I’ve been on a blog-writing kick as of late (like I don’t have enough writing in my life already!), so I figured this would be a fun way to drum up a new, pre-Thanksgiving post. The point is to answer 10 questions chosen by Claudette, and then nominate three bloggers here with questions of my own. So, let’s do this!

Name the book you’re currently reading.

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s a post-apocalyptic thriller about a group of survivors following a flu pandemic that has wiped out most of the world’s population. In other words, real cheery stuff! I actually love this particular genre (Stephen King’s “The Stand” set the bar high for me), and this novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2015, which I’m thinking is a pretty good pedigree. I’m 84 percent finished (can you tell I’m a Kindle reader?) and thoroughly digging it so far.

What is the best/favorite time of day to write your blog posts?

Whenever I have free time, which is hardly ever. I don’t like to rush them! Sunday mornings seem to work best for me, though here I am, banging this one out on a Monday evening (might not get posted until Tuesday, though).

If money and time was no object, where you would you like to go on your next vacation?

Somewhere in Europe, I can tell you that, though the country/city changes frequently with my mood. Lately I’m thinking Prague, with a swing through Budapest and Warsaw. My ancestors were Eastern European and I can’t help but feel a draw to that part of the world. Must be in my blood.

They’re planning to send some people to Mars. Putting aside all the complications involved with this trip, would it interest you to be a part of that group, and if so, why or why not?

No, thanks. We worked so hard getting our house decorated after buying it last summer, I’d hate to part ways with our groovy basement and record collection. Plus, a vacuum-packed and freeze-dried Bloody Mary would probably suck.

Name a tv show or movie you really didn’t like but were compelled to keep watching anyway, and explain why.

Surprisingly, “The Office.” When it debuted, I watched the first few episodes, but wasn’t feeling it, so I quit. Then, when season two began, a coworker kept hyping it up, telling me how funny it was. Curious, I gave it another shot…and fell in love. “The Office” became one of my favorite all-time sitcoms and to this day, I miss the Dunder-Mifflin crew something fierce.

Describe the most challenging part of a relationship (current or past). Could be with anyone (family, friend, professional etc.)

Resisting the urge to go off on my ex-wife pretty much every single day of my life. There’s a lot of water under the bridge there, and none of it is sanitary.

Which politician today do you find most entertaining?

Depends how you define “entertaining.” If you mean like a train wreck there’s only one obvious answer, but I refuse to type his name here. This may be cheating, but today I find Theodore Roosevelt the most entertaining politician. The dude delivered a speech with blood running down his shirt after a failed assassination attempt (he told the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose”) and went on an expedition deep into the jungles of South America after his presidency, pushing on despite a severe case of malaria and tropical fever. I think it’s very fitting that he is immortalized on Mount Rushmore. We need more Teddy Roosevelts in this day and age.

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What is the most irksome thing you’ve come across in recent days?

Umm, the giant hole in my front yard and resulting $12K bill for a sewer line repair?

If someone placed two bowls of nuts in front of you, one with shells and a nutcracker, one without shells, which bowl would you choose to eat?

I think I’d be inclined to use the nutcracker. It’s a great way to take out aggression, and even though I know this isn’t true, I’d have the perception that a freshly-cracked nut was somehow fresher and tastier than one that had already been opened.

What’s the first word that pops into your mind when you hear the word Toronto?

Eh.

That was fun! Instead of nominating specific readers (I love you all!), I’ll just invite anybody who is interested in playing along to answer the same questions. But for fun, we’ll change the last one to, What’s the first word that pops into your mind when you think of South Dakota

Cheers…and happy Thanksgiving!

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bobcat

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the giant hole that used to be my front yard.

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It all began with a flooded utility room last weekend…

Actually, that room flooded once before, at the end of July. It just so happened to occur the one, and only, time we used the shower in the master bathroom, so we sort of figured (hoped) it had something to do with that.

No such luck.

In fact, we weren’t able to flush toilets or use the shower initially, making for a dicey 24 hours—but we eventually figured out that, as long as we were careful, the water would drain as it should. We called a plumber first thing Monday morning but were placed on a waiting list; when they finally made it out midday Tuesday, they ran a sewer scope and gave us the bad news: our entire main line needed replacing. The roots from our lilac bush had busted through the clay pipe to the point where it was crushed in places and there was dirt in the line. I guess Doris had dealt with problems in the past, because the pipe had been snaked so many times, it was basically destroyed, so there was no option to repair or reinforce it. The work would involve digging a giant trench through the front yard and tearing up our sidewalk and landscaping. Our reward? A nice, fat bill for $12,000, give or take a few pennies.

So now, we are dealing with a huge, unsightly mess. We can’t get out the front door but are at least able to go through the garage. The hole they had to dig to reach the existing sewer pipe is much deeper than anticipated; it’s at least 15′ deep, thanks to the fact that we live on a hill. I mean, we can’t even see the bottom from our front porch! It’s a little unnerving, kind of like peering into the depths of hell, minus the fire and brimstone. It’s so deep, in fact, that the first Bobcat they used couldn’t reach the bottom to scoop out all the dirt, so they had to go get a bigger one. What a pain! Our only saving grace is the sewer addendum we wisely added to our homeowner’s policy at the urging of our realtor. They’ll cover up to $10K, but are naturally making us jump through hoops to justify the work. It’ll cost more than that anyway, and we have a $1K deductible, so we may have to get creative in figuring out how to pay for this.

The situation is not completely without humor. My sister-in-law, Esther, asked if they had discovered anything interesting while digging, like an arrowhead or an old toy or maybe a dead body.

They’ve been working on it for two days and estimated the project would take four, so it should be finished by Tuesday. Fingers crossed; Rapid City’s asphalt plant closes for the season on Wednesday, so if they don’t finish up by then we will be stuck with some kind of temporary patch on the street until spring.

We’ll be giving thanks for a nice, new pipe on Thursday, I guess.

Speaking of Turkey Day, it’ll be just the three of us this year (if you count the cat). Of course it would be great to have family around, but after hosting for so many years, it’s nice to have a more relaxed, laid-back holiday. I wish I had Friday off, but we both have to work, so at least I won’t be jealous that Tara’s home while I’m not. Half the office was smart enough to take the day off, but I need to bank more PTO as we have a couple of trips lined up.

Our temperatures have been running 15-20 degrees above average for a change. Yesterday was a balmy 61º and today will be about the same. Then winter’s coming back this week. Thanksgiving looks to be cloudy and in the upper 30s. There’s talk of a potent winter storm somewhere on the Plains next weekend, but it’s too far out to know how or if that will affect us. Rapid City’s tree lighting ceremony and parade of lights are Saturday, so that probably means we’ll get a foot of snow.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Veteran’s Day was a holiday for Tara but I had to work. It had snowed the evening before and our high never made it above 12º, so the roads were a mess. Tara offered to let me drive her pickup and I jumped at the chance, since it’s got 4WD. Everything went well until it was time to go home and I could not get into the truck. I hit the remote button to unlock the door, and…nothing happened.

Tried again. Nothing. And again. Still nothing.

At least I’ll never be accused of having a lack of persistence (though some might, and do, call it stubbornness. Whatever. I own my Taurus-ness!).

I was flummoxed at that point, afraid the battery had died. Even more afraid of calling Tara and asking her to come get me, knowing she probably wouldn’t be too keen to leave the cozy, warm confines of our home. When I couldn’t disable the alarm, I at least figured I could unlock the door with the key, but even that didn’t work. By now I was totally confused, wondering what kind of strange sorcery would cause a dead battery to prevent a key from working. I tried several times but to no avail. “What the hell?!” I said out loud…

…and then realized, woopsie, I was trying to break into somebody else’s truck.

Gah. But in my defense, what are the odds that there would be two red pickup trucks parked next to one another?! And okay, fine, maybe the one I was trying to drive away in was a Toyota and not a Nissan like my wife’s, but hey, in the overall scheme of things that is an easily-overlooked detail.

I’d even been nice enough to knock off some of the ice that had accumulated over the wheel well of this stranger’s pickup. I hope he appreciated that.

When I got home and told Tara, she laughed about it for days. In fact, she’s still laughing. I’d be annoyed, but she’s making pumpkin pancakes and bacon, and the house is filled with those heavenly aromas.

Besides, it was a pretty funny case of mistaken identity.


I was finally able to add fish to my new aquarium yesterday.

Actually, I’m not sure I even mentioned the fact that I bought a new aquarium. (Spoiler alert: I bought a new aquarium.) I have long been a tropical fish aficionado. Call me an a-fish-ionado! Bought my first tank when I was 15, and my first job was working in a tropical fish store. I graduated from a 10-gallon glass tank to a 55-gallon plexiglass  and even ventured into saltwater for a while, though the maintenance and expense proved daunting. When we were downsizing back in 2014 after I sold my townhouse, I reluctantly got rid of the fish tank. But I missed having an aquarium, and with my freelance income allowing me some luxuries these days, I decided to reignite my hobby. Bought a 50-gallon acrylic tank and got that all set up at the end of September, but then I had to let the aquarium cycle. It’s complicated to explain, but essentially you have to let harmful ammonia and nitrite levels build up and then drop before it’s safe to add fish. The process can take up to two months.

I’d been diligently testing the water for weeks, and it was finally good to go on Thursday. So I made a PetSmart run yesterday and bought some fish. Tiger barbs (always my faves), a couple of rainbow sharks and a pair of algae eaters. Provided they do well this week, I’ll add more next weekend. The general rule of thumb is, you can have one inch of fish for every gallon of water in your aquarium. So, I have room for plenty more.

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I just love having tropical fish and didn’t realize how much I’d missed them until I added them to the tank yesterday. They are just so peaceful and fun to watch. Good stress-relievers, too. The aquarium is set up in the basement, so we’ll have to make it a point to hang out there more often. Which is easy to do when you have such an awesome basement!

Last evening, we went to the movies. This used to be a favorite pastime of mine; back when I was unemployed for a long stretch, I went nearly every Tuesday to take advantage of $5 flicks. But we’ve really fallen out of the habit lately. This was only our third or fourth movie since moving to Rapid City. A new, luxury theater opened in town, and we wanted to check it out, so I bought us tickets for “Doctor Sleep.” Funny thing: I did not care for the novel all that much, but I’m a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and Mike Flanagan did an admirable job combining aspects of Stephen King’s book with Kubrick’s movie, which the author famously hated. I think it was very well done and a real nostalgia trip. Tara and I both enjoyed it.

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Now, THIS is how to enjoy a movie!

And the theater? Man, it just oozes luxury. The seats are the best I’ve ever experienced at the movies. Power leather recliners. It’s one of those theaters where you can order food and they deliver it right to your seat. We tried the fried pickle spears and they were really good. Kinda reminded us of Shanahan’s in Vancouver, WA. Well played, Golden Ticket.

The movie was a 4:30 showing but ran 2.5 hours, so it was after 7:00 by the time we left. We grabbed dinner at a Mexican restaurant we’d heard good things about but hadn’t tried yet. The food was good, and the margaritas were very unusual. Our server informed us that they make theirs with agave wine instead of tequila. I’d never heard of such a thing, but if he hadn’t warned us, I’d never have known there wasn’t tequila in there. They were smooth and tasty.

Today is football and blogs. The weather warmed up after last Monday and has mainly been in the 50s, so at least I won’t try to steal somebody’s truck this week.

Shivering Like Egyptians

I opened the front door this morning to grab the newspaper, and saw six deer trotting across the middle of our snow-dusted street in a formation so perfect, I half-expected to find them pulling a sleigh driven by a fat man in a red suit. Then I realized, ha-ha, that’s ridiculous, if they really did belong to Santa, there would be eight of ‘em. Maybe a couple were off lollygagging somewhere. My money’s on the two who seem the least invested in Christmas: Dancer (who clearly prefers hoofing on Broadway) and Cupid (I’m guessing Valentine’s Day is more his speed).

Surreal sight. You get the point.

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The snow did not let up; in fact, it intensified, and continued most of the day. It wasn’t a lot by South Dakota standards; about 2” in most spots, but the temperature was in the teens, and when I went home on my lunch, my Mazda struggled to get up the hill leading to my neighborhood. The traction warning light came on, I slid a little bit, and the wheels spun while attempting to find purchase on the too-slick street. Those were a few tense moments, but eventually I made it to the safety of my driveway.

This does not bode well for the remainder of the winter, namely because winter is still six weeks away, but that’s merely a technicality around these parts. That hill isn’t going to get any less steep, but the snow will fall harder and pile up deeper. I am revisiting the idea of buying a vehicle with AWD. A Hyundai Kona SEL Plus, preferably orange, with  a power tilting/sliding sunroof, shark fin antenna, optional mudguards, and all-weather floor mats.

Let’s just say I’ve done my research.

All things considered, I’d rather not spend the money, but if I’m going to spend the money, I’d rather spend the money when I’ve got the money to spend.

I hope that made sense.

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Apparently, ice cream sales take a nosedive when it’s below freezing.

By the way, it’s going to be 62º on Saturday and 31º on Sunday. I know that doesn’t make sense. Tara said today, “Thank god I won’t have to go out into the brutal cold on Monday!”, knowing full well that I will have to, because some of us aren’t lucky enough to have Veteran’s Day off. Small price to pay for the privilege of a dream job, I s’pose.

Speaking of, last week I got paid to walk like an Egyptian around the streets of downtown Rapid City. My company has a friendly little lip sync competition with another downtown business every year to raise money for a local charity. This year’s theme was ‘80s music, and we chose The Bangles’ “Manic Monday.”

Yeah, kidding. We chose “Walk Like an Egyptian.” Duh.

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Because The Bangles are an all-female band, only the women in the office did the actual lip-syncing. And they did a great job, all four of them; I was impressed with how committed they were to embodying the spirit of the ‘80s, right down to the big hair. Our staff photographer shot it like a music video and it turned out really good. The guys in the office only had to walk like Egyptians, so we had it easy in comparison…except the day we did it was super cold and windy. It was more a case of shivering like Egyptians.

If you follow me on Facebook, I linked to the video on my page there. If not, you’ll just have to trust me. We nailed it.

Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh.

Take Me to Your Leader

Close Encounters of the Weird Kind

Recently, there was construction taking place outside the office. Guess what? Jackhammers and productivity do not mix.

Good thing I have noise-cancelling headphones and Spotify Premium.

At one point, the jackhammers were replaced by a deep, metallic, droning sound that lasted for about five seconds at a time. Really creepy-sounding, and it kept repeating; kind of like an ominous foghorn that I found eerie and familiar. I knew I’d heard that sound before, but couldn’t quite place it.

tripodFinally, I realized it was identical to the sound the Tripods made in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation of War of the Worlds. I played it out loud, and everybody in the office agreed—the resemblance was uncanny.

This reminded me of the time I was convinced I’d been abducted by aliens.

Cue flashback music…

It was January 2007, and my life was in flux. I was newly-divorced and living in a brand-new townhouse of my very own. One evening, I was parked in front of the computer in my bedroom, chatting with a female. (Newly divorced, remember?) Suddenly, three events occurred in rapid succession:

  • A dog began barking urgently outside.
  • The lights dimmed. They didn’t flicker, as will sometimes occur when it’s windy; they just got real low for a few seconds.
  • I heard a mysterious sound. In my blog post dated 1/24/2007, I compared it to “an electronic sort of humming, followed by what sounded like clashing cymbals.”

This was well nigh disturbing, to say the least. (Also, I have been blogging forever…)

I mentioned these strange occurrences to my chat companion, who joked, “Sounds like the Mother Ship just landed.”

I didn’t think much more about it until the following morning, when electronic devices began conking out anytime I drew near. Seriously: my fully-charged cellphone wouldn’t let me make a call, but instead emitted “a series of weird electronic beeps and clicks.” That same day, I was in Best Buy on my lunch hour, buying a CD (because it was early 2007), when the sales clerk’s cash register froze. She could not get it to work and was forced to do a hard reboot. “That was odd,” she said. “It’s never happened to me before.” Weird things like that happened, off and on, the rest of the week, before things finally returned to normal.

Suddenly, those jokes about the Mother Ship weren’t so funny to me. I wondered whether I had been abducted by aliens and had my memory erased, the side effects of which were an ability to disrupt the electro-magnetic field. Sure, we scoff now, but it seemed at the time to be the only logical explanation to my weird ability to unwittingly kill all electronics around me.

To this day I can’t explain what was going on, though later events in the townhouse make me feel that I had a bigger problem with ghosts than aliens.

I’m Here for the Boos

Between carving pumpkins for the first time in years and actually passing out candy to kids, Halloween was a novelty this year. I hadn’t had a trick-or-treater come to my front door in 14 years. Not because I didn’t have a front door (turns out those are a pretty standard feature in most dwellings, minus tipis and igloos), but rather, kids avoid apartment and townhouse complexes on Halloween, so we always ended up with a couple of unopened bags of candy. We figured things would be different now that we’re in a house, and sure enough, we saw maybe 40-50 costumed kiddos over a three-hour period. It was actually a lot of fun, even though I didn’t discover until plugging it in that evening that my fog machine was broken. It emitted a few half-hearted wisps of fog before sputtering out, the last futile gasps of breath from a dying soul. I wasn’t too surprised though; the thing had been boxed up since 2006. I’ll be sure to buy a new one for 2020 so I can really set a festive tone.

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Glutton for Punishment?

The weather has been its usual mixed bag of late, alternating between cold, a little less cold, snowy, a little less snowy, windy, and a little less windy. It looks to be the same for the foreseeable future.

You will notice, by the way, that I did not in fact post anything on the first two days of the month, which means I’m bagging my idea of blogging every day in November. You can breathe easily, Betsy. We’re gearing up for the winter issue of our parenting magazine at work and I’m still freelance blogging like a madman, so I figured I was overextended enough already. Can you believe I’m averaging 75 freelance articles a month?! It’s a wonder I have any brain cells left. I’m passing the torch and handing over 90 percent of the work to a former colleague at the end of the year, so at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully not a weird, flickering light accompanied by strange sounds and dying electronics…

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!