Hold the Sprouts

Today marks the 8-month anniversary of our arrival in South Dakota. Feels like we’ve been below zero for seven of those months!

Ha. Slight exaggeration. I remember well the heat and humidity that greeted us our first week here. But this extended cold snap is something else. I was chatting with a local business owner downtown one day last week on my lunch hour and she said that the cold and snow are not unusual – but typically, temperatures warm up within a few days and most of the snow melts away. Instead, we are locked in a deep freeze that shows no signs of abating. It’s supposed to drop below zero tonight, and tomorrow’s high is going to be 1º. At least we aren’t the only ones dealing with the cold. Snow in Las Vegas last week made national headlines, and Portland is struggling through their coldest winter in 30 years. It’s just more pronounced here. Also, we’ve received four times the normal monthly snow for February – and there’s more in the forecast this week. Spring feels very far away still.

But, they are already advertising the Sturgis Rally (still 5+ months away), so eventually it’s going to warm up!


We decided to take a quick trip to the Badlands yesterday. It was the first time Tara had been in my car in months; she has been doing the majority of driving given the dicey road conditions and frequent need for 4WD, but Saturday was decent and I wanted to chauffeur her around for a change. Also, she was in no mood to drive; let’s just say we celebrated National Margarita Day on Friday in grand ol’ fashion!IMG_20190222_192508_781.jpg

We grabbed a couple of excellent subs from Pauly’s Pizzeria & Sub Co. on the way home. The place came recommended by a coworker of Tara’s, and these sandwiches were some of the best we ever had. In fact, we both ordered the West Coast Club, a combination of turkey, guacamole,  bacon, provolone cheese, mayo, cucumber, tomato, and sprouts. Only mine was on wheat and I told them to hold the sprouts. There aren’t many foods I don’t like – I’m probably the least picky eater on the planet, in direct contrast to my dear wife – but I cannot stand sprouts. They were all the rage when we moved to California in the 80s and I still associate them with the Golden State. It had been decades since I’d tried them and Tara was raving about how good they were on her sandwich, so I took a bite, thinking my taste buds might have evolved enough over the years to provide me with a newfound enjoyment of sprouts.

Nope.

I hated them then, and I hate them just as much now. I guess I just don’t understand the appeal of chewing on grass, because that’s what they tasted like. This is one of those very rare cases where Tara likes something and I don’t! Watermelon being the only other one I can think of.

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Never again.

We spent the rest of the evening watching “A Star is Born” from Netflix. I was very impressed with the movie; both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were phenomenal in their roles. I’m not even that much of a Gaga fan…I mean, I don’t dislike her the way I do sprouts!…but I don’t really listen to her music. I may take a deep dive into her catalog though, because all the songs were stellar. That makes two great rock ‘n roll-themed movies we have seen recently (“Bohemian Rhapsody” being the other). I recommend them both if you haven’t gotten around to watching ’em!

Here are a few photos of the Badlands from yesterday.

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So, I’m curious to know three things:

  1. Are you dreaming of warm summer temperatures?
  2. Is there a food you absolutely detest?
  3. Any good movies you’ve seen lately worth recommending?
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Dodging Snowflakes & Bullets

Holy crap. Has it really been almost two weeks since I updated my blog?!

I blame the government. With the shutdown now ancient history, business is booming – just as predicted. I kinda wish Trump had stood his ground a little bit longer! (Ha, not really. I do wish he’d walk off the side of a cliff or something, though.)

Work has been so busy, in fact, I stepped back in time and bought myself a planner. As in, an actual paper organizing system and calendar. I’ve got a smartphone app, of course, but experience has taught me that I just can’t/won’t/don’t use it to keep myself organized and on track. Maybe that’s because every time I pick up my phone I’m either scrolling through Instagram or playing Words With Friends. Regardless of the reason, the ol’ calendar app just wasn’t cutting the mustard. Instead, I found myself lugging a notebook around and digging through piles of paperwork on my desk. Who knew I was so endearingly old-fashioned?

The solution, then, was to research planners. I looked at everything from no-frills At A Glance calendars to fancy Day Timers with all the bells and whistles. I hated the idea of shelling out $25 for a disposable calendar I’d have to replace in January and was equally uncomfortable paying upwards of $90 for a leather-encased, refillable organizer. I settled instead on a Tul discbound planner. I’d never heard of such a system before, but it turns out they are quite popular – and rather ingenious! They utilize expansion discs that allow you to add, remove, and rearrange pages to your heart’s content. Kind of like a mashup between a three-ring binder and spiral notebook, but without any rings to open – the pages just slide into place magically. Best of all, the whole thing comes incased in a nice leather cover and calendar inserts are only $9.99. I think this will be perfect for my needs, even if it does make me feel a bit like it’s 1993 again.

Which, come to think of it, isn’t such a bad thing.


Today was President’s Day, and it’s one of the few times in my adult life I haven’t had to work. I’d like to say I took advantage by doing something fun, but the high temperature was only 8º so that’s a big, fat NOPE. But I wasn’t slogging my way through RFP hell, so I still consider it a win.

We made up for our do-nothingness today on Saturday, anyway. Despite 6″ of fresh (and still falling) snow, we did a bit of exploring in the Black Hills, driving through the always-impressive Spearfish Canyon and checking out a little town smack dab in the middle of nowhere called Silver City. The drive home was a bit rough, as we encountered near-whiteout conditions on the interstate with lots of blowing snow, but fortunately the road was dry.

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By the way, we are way above average in terms of snow this winter. As of this morning Rapid City has had 40.1″; the normal season-to-date is 20.6″ so we are just about double where we should be. Sure feels like it, too – especially this month. 14.5″ through yesterday (we should only have 3.0″ by Feb. 17). I’m not complaining, though. This is exactly what I wanted.

Further evidence that moving to Rapid City was the smartest thing we could have done? Tara found out last week that her former employer in Vancouver, WA is looking for a buyer for their mortgage division and portfolio. They are getting out of the home-selling business, which means if we had stayed in the PNW and somehow figured out a way to buy a house, we’d be screwed. Tara would be facing unemployment and who knows where she would have ended up or whether we’d be able to make ends meet. It was already a struggle, and she was earning big bucks. I can’t imagine the fear and uncertainty we would be facing.

I’ll take a little (okay, a lot) of snow and cold and a concealed weapons-loving governor over the stress and anxiety of trying to pay the bills back there any ol’ day.

Periwinkle is a Moose

Tara was looking at houses on Realtor.com last night (her favorite pastime) and showed me one that caught her fancy. The following conversation ensued.

“I love the periwinkle walls!” she said.
“WTF is periwinkle?” I asked.
“It’s a shade of blue.”
“Why not call it blue then?”
“Because it’s not quite blue. It’s sort of violet, too.”
“I’m okay with calling it blue-violet. Periwinkle sounds like a cartoon moose.”

At this point she just rolled her eyes at me. Another favorite pastime, come to think of it.

It’s going to be fun when we start looking at paint samples. She’ll be on the hunt for juniper and lemongrass, and I’ll be like, “Got anything in green?”

Are we painting walls or gathering ingredients to brew a cup of tea?


It’s another snowy, blustery, hovering-near-zero day. A year ago, when I was imagining what it would be like to experience winter in South Dakota, this is exactly the type of day I pictured. I’m not complaining – instead of doing something crazy like going outside in this weather, I just closed my office door and read my Kindle over lunch. However, I wish there had been more days like this when I was working from home. The snow is beautiful and peaceful, but venturing out is a bitch when it’s this frigid. First, you’ve got to brush snow and/or scrape ice from your windshield. Then, you turn the heater on full blast, but it doesn’t warm up your car until right about the time you’re pulling into the parking lot at work. That’s the drawback to a 12-minute commute, I suppose. At least Tara and I can carpool on days like this.

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The view from my office today.

Hard to believe it’s only going to get colder the next couple of days. -12° tonight with a wind chill pushing 40 below zero. Day-um.

It’s also hard to believe our high temperature on Saturday was 63°. What did we do to take advantage of the rare, springlike warmth, you might ask? We, umm, went hiking in the Black Hills. Where it was twenty degrees colder and windy.

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This is why we willingly left behind 60°+ temps on Saturday.

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Frozen Pactola Reservoir.

But, you know, we’ll have warm weather again. May is practically right around the corner!


Last week the Rapid City Public Library held a scavenger hunt. They hid 10 vouchers for free Rapid City Rush hockey tickets throughout the library, and posted clues on their Facebook page. I love a good scavenger hunt and we have had fun at the Rush games we’ve attended, so I studied the hints very carefully and got there right when they opened on Friday morning. I am fortunate to work a block away.

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Sure enough, I found the voucher I was looking for easily enough. I ended up being the first winner of the day! And then Tara was #7, thanks to some additional sleuthing on my part. I knew the location of a third ticket as well, but I didn’t want to monopolize the whole thing! Plus, you were limited to one per person, anyway. So, we can now redeem our vouchers for two free tickets to a Rush game of our choosing. They’re about a $30 value each. Not bad for a few minutes’ work, huh?

I Survived the Polar Vortex (But Didn’t Even Get a Lousy T-Shirt)

Well, that was fun.

My first Polar Vortex was actually a bit underwhelming. Sure, it was cold. But Rapid City never even dropped below zero. We came close: it was 1° Wednesday morning. When I woke up and looked at the thermometer, I was actually disappointed. Hey, if it’s going to get cold, it might as well get really cold, right?!

I am probably a little nuts.

We were on the western fringes of the Polar Vortex. The farther east you went, the worse it was: Sioux Falls dropped to -25, but that was downright toasty compared to places in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It’s safe to say we dodged a bullet here in western South Dakota! That didn’t stop concerned friends and family from checking in on us, which was certainly appreciated. I almost felt like I was letting them down by telling them Rapid City hadn’t even touched zero.

One thing we did not miss out on: frozen bubbles! Tara and I had seen pics of this phenomenon and were determined to create our own. A little Google sleuthing (Googleuthing?) told us that temperatures needed to be “well below freezing” and ideally “in the single digits or below zero F” for bubbles to freeze before they pop. Armed with this knowledge, we bundled up as though preparing for the Iditarod and stepped onto the front porch in the frigid dawn cold yesterday, cameras in hand, fingers exposed and numb, with vials of store-bought and homemade bubble solution. It was worth the near-frostbite, though!

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Things are back to normal today. In fact, our high temperature will be pushing 60° by Friday. And back down to 20° by Monday, but we’re getting used to these wild swings by now. If Polar Vortex II does show up next week, I want to emulate another popular video I’ve seen circulating by throwing boiling water into the air and watching it vaporize into instant snow.

Who says cold weather is no fun?!


I am thinking about a new mode of transportation to compensate for the wintry driving conditions here, but I’m not sure how seriously I’m actually considering it. When the weather is dry and warm, as it’s forecast to be the next few days, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when it turns snowy and icy again – and it always turns snowy and icy again – I start to think, yeah…this hatchback ain’t cuttin’ it as my tires struggle for traction and I start fishtailing.

As much as I’d love to buy a Jeep Wrangler, I’d have to sell a kidney in order to afford one and I’d rather hold onto all my major organs, thankyouverymuch. I’m thinking about a Mazda CX3 instead; it’s got AWD, has excellent gas mileage for an SUV, and I could take advantage of all kinds of customer loyalty rewards and trade-in points for my Mazda 3. If I’m going to pull the trigger, now’s the time to do so, when I’m essentially bringing home two paychecks at a time. But…I don’t know. When the weather’s bad, we carpool in Tara’s 4WD pickup. And ironically, the more money I have, the less eager I am to spend it – especially when there are credit cards bills to pay a house to save up for. I  can relate a little now to those cheap bastards you hear about who have worn thrift-store clothing, driven clunky old beaters, and recycled Saran Wrap all their lives, whose relatives have been shocked to discover, when they die, millions of dollars in their bank accounts they have been squirreling away all their lives. Not that I’d ever go to such extremes myself, because hey – you can’t take it with you! Also: I’m a solid $996,000 away from having that problem.

In all likelihood, it’s going to take a dramatic incident to spur me into action, like sliding into a ditch or something.

KNOCK ON WOOD.

Fake Like 38

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.

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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.