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.

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.

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!

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.

 

Sunshine & Blizzards

It sounds like there’s a serious movement afoot to end Daylight Saving Time once and for all. Actually, the proposed legislation – known as the Sunshine Protection Act – would keep DST and do away with Standard time. Which makes sense, because our clocks are set to daylight time almost eight months out of the year, making Standard time the exception. And an oxymoron.

Honestly, I’d be more in favor of doing it the other way – making Standard time permanent – because if this legislation is enacted, we’ll have 9:00 a.m. sunrises during the winter months. It’s hard enough to roll out of bed and head to work when it’s snowing and zero degrees outside; doing so when it’s snowing and zero degrees outside AND pitch dark sounds like a Herculean task. But you know what? I’ll support anything that puts an end to the pointless ritual of changing the clocks twice a year. If that means more evening light as opposed to more morning light, so be it. At least our sunsets in June aren’t as crazy-late as those in the PNW!

Speaking of sunshine, we’re getting quite a bit of it this afternoon. It is well-deserved after the raging blizzard we just experienced, however! When the warnings popped up two days ago they were forecasting crazy amounts of snow, maybe as much as 2′. Well, the storm didn’t really get going until around noon on Wednesday – about six hours behind schedule – so our totals weren’t nearly as bad. But the winds were (and still are); they gusted to 63 mph overnight and are still blowing in excess of 50 mph now. Needless to say, neither Tara nor I have been to work the past two days. Her employer closed the office and she gets paid for doing nothing, while I actually have to work from home if I want to be paid for time out of the office. The nerve of it all! Obviously I have nothing against working from home; that was my life for six months after moving here (and still is every weekend). But doing so while my wife is wrapped up in a blanket watching “My Cousin Vinny” is a little harder to stomach.

Not going to work was a good call, though. Felt a little weird yesterday morning when we hadn’t spotted so much as a single flake of snow before noon, but once the storm got started, it made up for its late arrival with heavy snow and those strong winds. All night long I listened to them howling and shrieking, rattling the windowpanes as they sang a plaintive tune. I found it oddly comforting, actually. I don’t mind wind from the comfort of home! All that blowing and drifting snow led to the closure of I-90 from the Wyoming border to Chamberlain, not to mention the Rapid City Regional Airport and the majority of businesses in town. I took a walk at lunchtime today to survey the scene, and it’s quite impressive. There are waist-deep snowdrifts in places and the roads were not fit for safe travel. Getting to work in a snowstorm is one thing, but a blizzard is something else entirely. This one was a doozy, though pretty short-lived. And it never got terribly cold – the temperature overnight didn’t drop much below 30º.

Tomorrow, we’re both planning on returning to work. The winds are expected to die down overnight and it’ll warm into the upper 30s, so travel should be significantly better.

Someday I’ll talk about something other than snow, I promise! Provided it ever stops snowing, of course.

Come to think of it, you may be reading posts like this until June…

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It seemed like everybody in the neighborhood was out with their snowblowers this morning.

Check out some of these snowdrifts!

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I love how these ice crystals formed on our window during the height of the blizzard yesterday afternoon.

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This is why driving was not advisable today.

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This is a rare Friday where I haven’t carpooled to work with Tara. My criteria for driving in solo has evolved quite a bit this winter. Initially, if there were even a few icy spots on the road, I’d grab a ride with her in the truck. But after six weeks where the temperature has only cracked 32° a couple of times, there’s pretty much always snow and ice on the road. That’s kind of forced my hand, so now I’m game to take the Mazda as long as a ton of snow hasn’t fallen overnight and isn’t forecast to begin falling before 5:00. I have to say, I’ve gotten a lot better at navigating my car through snow and ice and can’t help but feel a sense of pride over this accomplishment, even though it’s probably pretty basic for a lot of you. Hey, living in climates where snow is a rarity for three decades dulls your driving senses, so I think I’m entitled to feel good about this newfound skill!

It’s supposed to snow again overnight, but the 3-5″ and blizzard conditions they were predicting yesterday has been downgraded to a couple of inches, so it looks like we’re dodging a bullet. I have to admit, like so many other locals (and probably the entire Midwest), I’m actually looking forward to spring. I won’t say I’ve had my fill of snow and cold – that’ll never happen! – but it will be nice to venture outside without fear of frostbite. Plus, we’ve had 50 inches of snow since October (normal for the entire season is 42″ and we ain’t done yet) so, you know, I can’t complain about a lack of the fluffy white stuff.

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Kinda looks like Mount Hood, but it’s the sidewalk in downtown Rapid City.

I will say, living here has given me a newfound appreciation for spring and summer – seasons that I never much cared for living in the PNW. Probably because I was always  a bit underwhelmed by winter out there and always wanted more. It was never cold enough or snowy enough for my liking, so by the time March rolled around and our chances of seeing any exciting weather for the next eight months were pretty much dead, I grieved with the same passion I might experience laying a loved one to rest. That is so not the case in South Dakota! If we didn’t see another snowflake until November I would still be completely satisfied with this winter. So yeah, I’m actually looking forward to spring and summer for maybe the first time in my life, and all the possibilities that accompany warm weather: hiking and camping and grilling outside and Summer Nights concerts downtown and, of course, those spectacular (and ominous) thunderstorms that roll across the Great Plains unleashing their fury. And I’m sure, six months from now, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the first snowfall again. It’s great living in a place where you can appreciate all the seasons instead of just a couple of ’em!


You know what else I’m looking forward to? This magnificent product they were discussing on the local news a few days ago.

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Isn’t it beautiful?! Heinz is coming out with this mustard-mayonnaise hybrid (and a mayonnaise-BBQ sauce mashup called, naturally, Mayocue) on the heels of its successful Mayochup (mayonnaise/ketchup) product launch last year.

Scoff if you will, but I’m excited for this product! Back in 2012, Tara and I went to a street festival in Portland and grabbed a couple of reindeer meat hot dogs (because this was a street festival in Portland). The vendor had squeeze bottles of condiments in which to top your Rudolph dog (for lack of a better term) and one of them was a delicious concoction that he was super cagey about. He wouldn’t admit that it was a mustard-mayo combo, even when pressed, but obviously it was a mustard-mayo combo. I thought that was a genius idea then, so I am thrilled that Heinz is rolling out this product nationally next month.

I mean, I suppose you could always make your own rather than shelling out $3.49 for a bottle, but in this fast-paced and hectic world, who’s got time for that?! I, for one, am all about convenience. Plus, I’m sure the scientists in the Heinz food laboratory spent countless hours perfecting the ratio to get the formula exactly right. I trust their expertise a whole lot more than my sure-to-be-foolhardy attempt at mixing just the right amounts of mayonnaise and mustard together to achieve the perfect flavor profile.

This all might sound a little tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not kidding. I’m already clearing a prominent spot on my refrigerator shelf in which to showcase Mayomust!

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?

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.