I realize 1″ of snow is nothing, and that I’m going to have to get used to a lot more than this. But it sure does make for some pretty scenery.
Bloody Marys, a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” marathon (thanks to a free HBO weekend. I can finally watch the newest season – yay!) and even a little snow in the air. Translation: not a half bad Sunday. It would be even better if I had tomorrow off like a certain unnamed female in the house does. Well, technically three females in the house have Monday off if I’m counting the cat, but whatever.
It’s been a pretty nice weekend. Originally Tara’s friend Betsy and her son were supposed to come up for a visit – they live in Vegas – but she inadvertently booked the trip for the wrong weekend and it would have cost something like $700 to change her ticket, so that visit is on hold. Which is probably a good thing, as the weather isn’t great. It took a while, but winter finally decided to arrive. Friday evening we went back to Shanahan’s. Last week we actually had to walk out and come up with a Plan B because every seat in the place was taken, but this time things were back to normal. We got our regular table (I joked that they should put a plaque with our names on it to commemorate our faithful patronage over the years) and enjoyed fried pickles and other wonderful pub grub. I am going to miss the hell out of that place.
Saturday we drove into Portland to kill a few hours. We’ve been stocking up on things we won’t be able to find in Rapid City, like Wild Roots vodka and Jacobsen sea salt. With only four months to go, it’s time to take this stuff seriously. Afterwards we headed over to my parents’ house. They are still out of town and won’t be home for another six days, so we borrowed their grill again and cooked up some chicken and asparagus. Drank wine and cider while listening to Crosby, Stills Nash & Young and Paul Simon. It was a very nice evening.
Speaking of Paul Simon, I just bought us tickets to see him. His farewell tour is swinging through the Moda Center in Portland on Saturday, May 19. I was on the fence, because honestly it’s kind of a pain in the ass dealing with arena concerts, but I grew up listening to Paul Simon because my dad was a fan. The fact that it’s a weekend show, not to mention his farewell tour, sealed the deal for me. Our seats may be in the nosebleed section but this will be our last big concert before we move and, therefore, totally worth it.
Today I am making chicken noodle soup and plan to finish up Season 9 of Curb. It is otherwise a very chill, low-key day.
Countdown: 125 Days
Last night Tara was wrapping things up in the kitchen, so I told her I’d meet her in the bedroom. Halfway there I realized I’d forgotten something on the dining room table, so I turned around and retraced my steps. She was not expecting me to return, and as soon as she saw me, hid her hands behind her back.
Suspicion level: 10.
“What do you have there?!” I asked.
“Nothing,” she replied.
Suspicion level: 11.
Clearly she was hiding something from me. Upon further interrogation, she confessed to adding a handful of salt to the coffee grounds. I preprogram the coffeemaker every night so a fresh pot brews automatically when we get up the next morning, but salt is never part of the equation. She explained that Alton Brown, in her eyes the quintessential expert on all things cooking-related, swears that a little salt in your coffee grounds cuts down on the bitterness, and wanted to try it for herself. Odd as that sounded, I accepted her explanation and we went to bed.
While showering this morning, it occurred to me that this is how spouses commit murder. You turn your back for a second and your significant other furtively adds something to your beverage. Next thing you know the doctor is pronouncing you dead and Keith Morrison is devoting 60 minutes to exploring the mystery behind your final days in all his velvety smooth-voiced glory. It was a rather unnerving thought.
I mentioned my realization to Tara this morning, and she accused me of watching too much Dateline NBC. Guilty as charged, but that’s beside the point. I wasn’t accusing her of trying to kill me or anything, simply stating that the salt could have been arsenic in the hands of somebody with murder on their mind. Good thing our relationship is solid!
Or was until I almost called her a killer.
Speaking of Keith Morrison, here’s a video of him reading from the telephone book. Why? Because, that voice!
Countdown: 128 Days
I stepped outside this morning and was greeted with a blast of cold air and a brisk wind. A couple of hours later Tara called and, as we were chatting, I mentioned how chilly it was outside. But I immediately caught myself and retracted the sentence.
“It’s not really cold outside,” I said.
And it wasn’t. The temperature was hovering around 40 degrees, which – granted – ain’t exactly swimsuit weather, but it is only February. We’ve had an unusually warm couple of months, so a temperature closer to the norm felt extra cold to me.
Besides, I keep reminding myself how cold next winter is going to be. I’ve been following the weather in Rapid City religiously for months now, and there have been many days where highs were in the single digits, and nights have dipped below zero. So I’m trying very hard not to complain about fake cold like 38 degrees, because it’s all relative and a year from now that will feel probably feel warm!
My parents are currently on vacation in Florida, so we decided to take advantage of the situation by borrowing their grill. Being as how their grill is attached to the side of their house via a natural gas valve, we ended up borrowing their entire house while we were at it. (Don’t worry, mom – we brought our own wine!).
Grilling is one thing we both miss. When I was a homeowner I’d grill out at least once a week, pretty much all year long. But our apartment complex doesn’t allow grills, and even though some residents break the rules Tara and I choose to walk the straight and narrow. Which means grilling has turned into a special occasion.
We picked up ribeye steaks from Costco, invited our friend Kara over, and had ourselves a feast on Saturday night, kicking back in their sunroom (we borrowed that, too) with the aforementioned steak, accompanied by sauteed mushrooms, shrimp, apricot pepita cabbage slaw, and garlic bread. We had a great time, even if Kara was a little unnerved by the creepy oversized doll in the living room. I didn’t mention how the thing comes to life sometimes and tiptoes up the stairs in the middle of the night, magically appearing in bed with my parents.
Just kidding, Kara.
Countdown: 131 days.
Like most states, South Dakota has several different nicknames. Most are not surprising. It is called, among other things:
But one nickname stands out from the pack: South Dakota’s most unusual moniker is the Swinged Cat State. Wondering where such an odd name came from? You can thank (or blame it on) this guy:
That’s Arthur Calvin Mellette, the first Governor of South Dakota. In 1890, the state was experiencing a drought. Mellette was doing his best to persuade settlers to stick around. While in Chicago on a trip in which he was attempting to secure financial aid, Moses Handy, an associate of Arthur’s and a newspaperman, turned to his friend and asked, “Well, governor, how is South Dakota?”
Well, South Dakota is a swinged cat, better than she looks.
The term “swinged” is an old colloquialism meaning “singed” or “burned slightly.”
The next day, the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper ran a story about Mellette, governor of “the swinged cat state.” And the rest is obscure history.
I’ve been blogging, on and off, for the better part of my adult life now. The platforms have changed, but writing is the one constant in my life. Since 2009, I’ve been posting semi-regularly on WordPress to Mark My Words. That blog has followed me through many ups and downs in my life and contains memories galore. However, 2018 promises to be a year of change like no other, and I feel it’s time for a fresh start.
Welcome to Swinged Cat. This blog will chronicle the journey of me and my wife, Tara, as we leave behind the Pacific Northwest and head 1,200 miles east, to the Great Plains of South Dakota. I lived in Rapid City many years ago and never imagined I’d ever call it home again, but if there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the years, it’s that the old axiom, never say never, holds true.
If you’ve been following me on Mark My Words, first off, thank you. Please go ahead and bookmark this site instead. That 8+ years’ worth of content isn’t going anywhere, but I will be shifting the focus of the blog to business-related articles.
Swingedcat.com (I kind of love the name!) will be my new home for personal posts and more. I have a few goals in mind here: I want to write more frequently, even if my posts are simple one-sentence asides. Or random thoughts. Inspiring quotes. Photos. Reposts of interesting articles. I want to focus more on the attractions of South Dakota, once we get there. The things we eat and drink, the places we go, the crazy weather we are sure to encounter (“Blizzard State,” remember?). But most of all, I want to document the experience of uprooting my entire life, at the not-so-tender age of…never mind…and start fresh. It’s big, and exciting, and a little scary. And I’m pretty sure it’ll be entertaining, too.
So thank you for following along. Buckle your seatbelts…it’s going to be a crazy ride!
Countdown: 132 Days