Sunday, December 30, 2007

Montana Weather Tip #5

If someone offers to buy you a heavier coat, say YES.

Not that I'm actually getting money for telling you all this, but Stephan and I are the very proud new owners of Carhartt Arctic Quilt Lined coats. With hoods. "How warm are they?" The difference is like going outside naked in the winter, or staying inside and taking a bath.

And I'm never prone to exaggeration.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Just warming back up

Our trip home was so short, and so packed full of food and friends and family but mostly food.

The weather held for the first 10 hours, but we got slammed in the middle of a snow storm in Wisconsin, adding 6 hours onto the drive. After 20 hours in the car, we were happy to be back in Oak Lawn, but mostly tired.

Food, Church, food, presents, food, presents, food, presents, friends, food, food, presents, food, driving, was the schedule. Back in the car, again the weather was ok for a while, but when fog descended at 2am around Fargo, we made the best decision we've ever made together.

Ever.

We stopped at a Super 8 for the night.

We got home at about 5pm, watched a movie and fell asleep. Stephan's got a pretty bad cold, but he only works two days in a row this weekend.

The computer is also fighting a pretty bad hardware problem. The data is safely nestled in an external drive, waiting for me to get the courage up to install a few hard drive. Until then, many email addresses are just out of my reach, so if you haven't heard from me in a while, please use the yahoo.com address listed in the Profile so we can keep in touch.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Which one are you?

There are two types of people in the world... here's the story.

My laptop is now a very flat doorstop. It won't start up. I spent 90 minutes on the phone with tech-support ("Ok, now press the Z Q 9 keys while starting up. No? Ok. With your right hand hold down the apple-shift-P and R while starting up the computer with your left hand") to no avail. What was on the lap top? All my photos, financial information, logos and brochures for the business, things I've written, LOTS of music, etc. etc. etc.

Now, either you're saying to yourself, "Oh, that sucks. Sorry!"

Or, "OH NO! ARE YOU OKAY? DO you need to talk to someone? How are you holding up? Is there anything I can do? Have you tried holding down the eject key and starting up? What about the CD? Does it boot from the CD?"

I appreciate the former. I recognize my universal family in the latter.

So- posting will be really light for a while. Sorry! Enjoy the holiday with your family.

Come to think of it, why are you at the computer at all?? Go. Hug a child. Drink cocoa.

Unless you're Melanie... Melanie, get back to work or your brother is going to fire you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

General Notes about the Internet

I used to work in an office where I had instant-access to the internet (email, information, music, trivia, news, etc.) for 8 hours straight. I would answer email instantly. I could tell you immediately what the weather was like now, and what it was going to be for the next 10 days. I also knew which gas station had the cheapest gas within 20 miles.

Old habits die hard, but they do die. "Hi. My name is Anna, and it's been 72 hours since I read an email message."

But I owe a huge shoutout to this internet radio station that I listen to every day. Sunday mornings from 8-12 they play 'chill out' music from all over the world, and it helps me to feel more human. I don't have anything against Pink Floyd, but there's more out there people. More to life.

I also applaud this woman for her blog, and especially this post, that everyone with 5 minutes should read right now.

Finally, because nothing really exciting has happened in Baker for 3 days, I'm happy when I think about all the family and friends who read what we're up to and laugh, smile, cry and learn with us. We're coming up to a trip home, and our one-year Montana anniversary.

3-year-old: Do you still live in that place?

Me: What place?

3-year-old: You know that place.

Me: Montana? Yes, we still live in Montana.

3-year-old: Oh. Well, my brother doesn't like it when you live there because he misses you when you live in that place.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How YOU Doin'?

I'm not making fun, just observing a local tradition...

Friend: Hey, how's Stephan doing today?

Stephan: Um, me? I'm... uh... ok.

-----

Other friend: How's Anna doing today?

Anna: Which?... Are you talking to?... Oh, me? I'm good. Thanks.

----

Maybe I'm just not used to being spoken to in the third person, but it does throw me off every time. And, actually, it makes me think about myself in the third person. "How IS she doing?" And I evaluate, and I respond thoughtfully, if not a bit slowly. Causing some people in town to think I'm just habitually not paying attention.

Overheard: Making Dinner

Me: How was your day?

Him: You know what I realized? I really do prefer the soap suds enema to the FLEET enema. The soap suds really just goes in and gets a gallon of fluid in, and cleans everything out. With the FLEET, things are much more complicated-

Me: ENOUGH. Forget I asked.

Friday, December 14, 2007

CORRECTION!!!

I was reprimanded just now that I misquoted the ranchers in this post. What was actually said was:

"If we can't bale it or graze it, don't bother selling it to us."

I think I should start donating to wikipedia. Don't you?

Uncomfortable Story about Pork

Me: Excuse me?

Butcher: Yes?

Me: Is it weird for me to ask you for 23 pounds of pork shoulder?

Butcher: No. When do you need it?

Me: Um, really tomorrow morning. Is this weird?

Butcher: Not at all, let me see what I have in back....

...

Butcher: I've got one bag with 17, and I can break into a second bag and give you half. When do you want to pick it up?

Me: Is tonight at 5:30 ok?

Butcher: Sure.

...

Me: Do you want to know my name?

Butcher: Sure.

Me: Anna Koruba.

Butcher (not writing): Thanks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

FAQ: How big is Montana?



I don't know if this relays it exactly, but here's the state of Illinois on top of the state of Montana. I wanted to put Fallon County on top of Cook county, but I couldn't find scale images of the two.

What I want to get across is that a drive to the nearest airport (Billings) is as far as the drive from Indiana to Iowa.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Putting the "H" in ho ho ho

I don't know what that title means.

Sometimes I can't sleep at night because there are too many things to blog about rolling around in my head. After that happens, I always wake up with NOTHING to write about. Any requests?

We have been super busy lately. Even after conquering Christmas, we have a slough of parties to get ready for. The preparation for the FMC Christmas party alone took about a week. The following day was caught up in creating a dip-and-bread appetizer for a party that evening.

That party was fun- we learned about the oldest registered cattle brand in the state of Montana, and the links between a barrel of oil and a bushel of corn. "If we can't use it for feed if it doesn't grow- don't bother selling it to us!" The dip, however, was one of three spinach, artichoke and cheese dips. That made me sad, and a little competitive.

Note to self: Must find new bring-to-a-party-appropriate appetizer.

Eh, and here's the temp, in case you were wondering...

Chicago right now: 35F
Plevna right now: 9F

But I promise I'm not complaining.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Montana Weather Tip #4


When the guy who lived in Alaska isn't wearing any pants... run like hell.

This is Stephan at the FMC Christmas party Friday night. Dressed like Ginger. Holding a curtain so that Barbara Barker can host the Price is Right. And you thought we'd be bored in Montana!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Montana Weather Tip #3

When the guy who lived in Alaska puts on two pairs of pants, you should put on three.

Today's Chicago High: 24
Tonight's Chicago Low: 26

Today's Plevna High: 14
Tonight's Plevna Low: 1

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Montana Weather Tip #2

Never go out in skin-tight yoga pants.

Because even at 5:15am, someone you know may see you get out of the car, and ask you about it later.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Montana Weather Tip #1

After November 1st, bring your heavy coat everywhere.

Yesterday morning it was 49F when I left at 10:00 in the morning, and 16F when I got in the car at 5:00pm.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Worth the Drive

Yesterday we drove out to Dickenson, SD to finish up some shopping (yes, I did just say FINISH- can you believe THAT?!) and as a wonderful excuse to stop in Beach, ND to watch a movie. Not just ANY movie, and this wasn't just ANY movie theater.

THIS was the movie.

And THIS is the theater, run by our new friends, Emmanuel and Cheryl. One of them (I'm not telling which) spent some time living about 5 miles away from where I grew up! Crazy coincidence.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Getting in the Spirit

Me: I think we can move the piano and put the tree in the window.

Him: Well, we can put a 3' tree on the kitchen table.

Me: No. I've seen the Boy Scouts tree sale, there's like, a dozen trees and they're all over 5 feet tall.

Him: Sweetie, inside every 5 foot tree is a 3 foot tree waiting for the bottom 2 feet to get cut off.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Appropriate Lyrics

Stephan has always loved this song. I had no idea he was going to try to re-create it...

I've got some big news
The bank finally came through
And I'm holdin' the keys to a brand new Chevrolet
[Um, OLD FORD ESCAPE]
Have you been outside it sure is a nice night
How about a little test drive
Down by the lake
[MORE LIKE A POND]

There's a place I know about where the dirt road runs out
And we can try out the four-wheel drive
["I thought it was FRONT wheel drive- oops!"]
Come on now what do you say
Girl, I can hardly wait to get a little mud on the tires
[OR THE WHOLE CAR?!?!]

'Cause it's a good night
To be out there soakin' up the moonlight
Stake out a little piece of shoreline
I've got the perfect place in mind
It's in the middle of nowhere only one way to get there
You got to get a little mud on the tires

Moonlight on a duck blind
Catfish on a trout line
Sun sets about nine this time of year
[UM, TRY FOUR!!]
We can throw a blanket down
Crickets singin' in the background
And more stars than you can count on a night this clear
[CLEAR MEANS COLD]

I tell you what we need to do is grab a sleepin' bag or two
And build us a little campfire
[TO KEEP US FROM FREEZING]
And then with a little luck we might just get stuck
[JERK]
Let's get a little mud on the tires

**Song by Brad Paisley

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Longer Story

Sunday morning was bright and clear. The temperature was mild for this time of year. Stephan looked out the window and said, "I must be outside today" (maybe not those words exactly, but the spirit was the same). We had a choice. We could:

a) stay home and clean the house
b) go to the bar and watch the Bear Game
c) drive out to Strawberry Hill Recreation Area and go for a hike

It's obvious which option we chose. Getting there was no problem. It's a 70 mile drive on the highway, and a turn-off onto a dirt road. About 1/2 a mile on this dirt road, you come to a gate. The sign says, "Please Close Gate," which we did. This dirt road was pretty frozen at 11am when we got there. There was very little mud, and the steep hills and gullies were navigated with relative ease by my fearless husband.

At one point, we got to a hill that the 2005 Ford Escape (111,000 miles) just could not climb. It was too steep and the mud was too slick. I swear I then said this to Stephan... "Uh oh! If we can't climb that hill, I don't think we're going to get out of here!"

Regardless, we parked the car and went for an amazing 2 hour hike with the dogs. The views were spectacular, and as every hill became more steep and muddy than the last one, we realized that the 'recreation' was of the motorized type- this is a recreation area for 4-wheelers, dirt-bikes, and all-terrain vehicles. Hey, we thought, we should try that some day.

Mud caked our boots as we climbed back in the car after a short snack. The dogs fell right to sleep in the back- very happy for the exercise. The first few hills were no problem. Then, as we were about 1/4 mile from the gate, Stephan stopped the car. The road rose about 70' in the air at an angle of about 30 degrees (this statement is debateable now, but I'm typing so it's 30). It was covered in wet, melted snow mixed with mud.

The car actually made it up the first few steep angles. Stephan hit the gas and did about 35 miles an hour to gain momentum. Soon, though, the car began to slip backward. He found a modestly flat area, and stopped the car. He took several running starts, and rocked the car back and forth. The car slid sideways, backwards, climbed forward a few inches, then slid backward again.

After about 30 minutes of this playfulness, we called 411 for the number of a tow truck. The first number they gave me was a cattle-towing company. Not so helpful. The second one promised to send a truck out in 30 minutes.

Pete was very helpful. However, he didn't want to bring the big $130,000 tow truck to an area that was that unstable. So he brought a 4-wheel drive pick up, and about 40' of tow chain. Sadly, our car was 80' from the top of the hill. Pete tried getting his truck closer to our car, but the truck started sliding down uncontrollably, and, as he regained control at the last minute, parked the car and decided that wasn't going to work.

He fiddled with our car, and a chain, for another 45 minutes. No luck. the sun was beginning to set, things were starting to get pretty cold. The next idea was for Pete to drive us (with dogs) into Miles City, where Stephan could buy chains for the car, and take a taxi back to the Recreation Area, and try again to drive the car the last 80'. Just as that plan was about to go into effect, Julia and Jerry drive up on their 4-wheelers. Jerry had just bought his new, with a....

BRAND NEW WINCH!!!!

That apparently has a towing capacity of over 1,500 lbs- the weight of the 2005 Ford Escape.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It was a Dark and Stor......

Well, not stormy. But the last night of my family's visit ended very abruptly. After a nice relaxing day of driving and shopping, we settled down at the Baker Bowling Center to enjoy a nice pizza dinner. Just before ordering, the power went out in the building. This was about 7pm. People looked outside, and the whole town was out. We called Plevna, and Plevna was out. We decided to wait and see what happened. About 30 mintues later, the power still hadn't even flickered, and it was starting to get very cold.

They decided to drive up to Wibaux, to get gas, and then make their way across North Dakota one day early. We had no way of knowing if the power was going to be out for 2 hours, or three days. We followed them in our car up North to the gas station at Wibaux where we said our chilly good-byes (it was 10 degrees last night).

We talked through our options if the house was frozen solid back in Plevna. Our choices were limited: get in the bedroom with the dogs and cats, crawl under all the blankets we own, and run the taps a little to keep the pipes from freezing. Amazingly, when we got into Baker, 1/2 the city was already lit up! The side with the hotel and the hospital was still out, so optimism was NOT high for the Plevna house.

But- things were fine! We ate leftovers and slept until 11am. Sad to see my folks go, glad they're home safe, and looking forward to an entire weekend together.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!



Mom and Dad and Jimmy are here! So far, we've relaxed, ate, drove around, shopped, and relaxed.

Quotes so far:

"WHERE do you LIVE?!"

"Where's the rest of it?" [at the grocery store]

"Where are we?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And another thing...

Is your microwave sitting on a counter?

Yes?

Right now, get up and clean under it.

....


....

Did you do it?

Yeah?

I KNOW! I can't believe it either!!!

Priceless

3 rolls of paper towels $1.99

4 Advil $1.50

Antibiotics $11.00

6 hours listening to Comedy Radio $0.50

3 trips to the grocery store $45.00

8 cups of tea $2.00

Family coming to visit....

I'll let you know.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Keeping Track

Saturday
12:30am Stephan arrives home after an 18 hour shift
4:45am Stephan wakes up and goes back to work
3:45pm Baker Spartans win the State football Championship
8:30pm Stephan finishes a 16 hour shift

Sunday
2:00am Stephan and Anna arrive home from the Plevna bar
2:25am Fire radio lights up with a car crash North of Plevna
4:00am Stephan comes home
5:30am Stephan wakes up to go hunting
6:00am Stephan leaves with Clint

Seriously, could we please just get 6 hours of sleep in a row? Please???

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Less about Montana...

... and more about how neurotic I am.

It just hit me tonight that my parents are going to be in our house next week. My parents: Stephan's in-laws. We've lived here for about 9 months now, and still have a lot to unpack. There are entire rooms that we've never been in... until today.

Stephan spent the entire day digging his way to the back of the second bedroom that's in the basement. He pulled up old carpet, threw away moldy drywall, and reinstalled pallettes so that the furniture he found in the garage will sit just off of the floor if it ever floods again.

I began looking around at all the other things I've stopped seeing- like the crusted-on burned-ness under the burners of the stove. The flaking paint around the kitchen window. The dog hair that just never goes away, no matter how much ends up in the garbage.

Not that my parents will actually care about any of this. It's just that this is the first place that I've lived that's an actual house [disregarding some past residences that were much more like experiments than actual homes]. This is the first time I've moved so far away, and set up life in a way that's a little unconventional. I lived their way for 18 years, and my way for 10. I'm just a little nervous to show them what I've made of it.

Me: Is this ok?
Him: Yes.
Me: Is it too whiny?
Him: No, but you should add something.
Me: What?
Him: How wonderful your husband is.
Me: Dork.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Less about Montana...

...and more about home ownership.

The toilet seat cracked off of the toilet on Monday, which had nothing to do with the number of times I tried to stand on the plastic lid trying to reach for something on the top shelf...

The fluorescent lights in the kitchen burned out last night, in a fantastic blaze of ballast hum...

The door knob in the kitchen has never actually opened the door. Stephan realized today that it's because there's no inside rod to connect the knob to the latch...

The knob for the hot water at the bathroom sink is sitting on the counter...

The futon frame is in about 6 more pieces now than it was when it arrived from Ikea...

As I was typing this, my hairclip broke and flew across the room.

I'm going to bed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dear Mom & Dad:

Good thing you have a hotel reservation.




Love,
Anna

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Turkey Day


There was more hunting today, early in the morning. According to the stories, turkeys are very smart, and need to be ambushed in order to shoot them. Of course, as always happens, the Tom that Stephan startled earlier in the day was "at least twice as big" as this female. But the safety was on.

Isn't that always the way?

So, he plucked it, kinda, in the garage. Then ended up skinning it, and cutting in into pieces. It's soaking in water right now. We're not going to eat this for Thanksgiving, we're just going to experiment with cooking wild fowl for now. He can get another turkey later this fall if he wants to.

And, because this weekend was actually turning out to be pretty relaxing and fun for both of us, Stephan got called in to work the night shift tonight. He did get a little nap this afternoon, but he left at 5:15pm, not to return until about 7am tomorrow. He's technically on the schedule for Monday and Tuesday during the day, but the night shifts are open now tonight and tomorrow. I'm not complaining, just observing, that Stephan could be required to work 48 hours in a row. Technically.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Just What Were we Thinking?

Today, while driving Stephan to the last day of the TNCC class, I started laughing. How many things are totally different in Montana than I expected them to be? All of them.

Beautiful mountain scenery? Nope.
Cool, moist summers? Nope.
Powdery, snow-filled winters? Nope.
Native American traditions evident at every corner? Nope.
Closed small-town community, wary of strangers? Nope.
Struggling to get a business started? Nope.
Run out of town for doing Healing Touch? Nope.
Stephan struggling for over-time opportunities? Nope.
Renting a small house in town? Nope.

Spending every weekend hiking in the foothills?

Nope.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

You Know that Moment...?

So I'm at a hotel here in Sidney, not naming names, watching TV and just generally relaxing my tush off.

Maintenance*: Knock! Knock!

Me: Yes?

Maintenance: It's Maintenance, I'm here to check the floor and the bed, can I come in?

Me: Just a moment, let me put leashes on the dogs.

So Mr. Maintenance is at the door, and I do leash up the dogs. As I'm standing on the other side of the door, every email forward that warns about gas-station-ankle-slashings and shopping-mall-abductions and rich-African-princesses-with-exiled-fathers (not so much the last one) comes crowding into my mind. Perhaps this is only a trick. How do I know this man works for the hotel? Who cares about the floor and the bed? What's going on here?

So I walk into the hallway with the two leashed attack dogs and stand out there until Mr. Maintenance is finished. He thanks me, and then moves on to the next room. I lock myself in my room once again, wondering if the woman behind the front desk (who can totally be seen from the door of our room) thinks I'm nuts, or just the safest, most bestestly trained young woman (ha!) she's ever seen.

Once again, making my parents proud with every post...

* Edited because Stephan says that he is "Him" and no one else.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sidney vs Sydney

We're in Sidney, Montana for the rest of the week. While researching things to do, places to visit, fun facts, etc. I came across this interesting news story from December, 2006:

Typo sends German to Sidney, Montana instead of Sydney, Australia

A German bought a plane ticket to visit his girlfriend in Sydney Australia, but due to a typo, ended up buying a ticket to frigid Sidney, Montana, 13,000 kilometers away. He landed in Portland, Oregon, where he changed planes and arrived in Billings, Montana. At this point he realized his error, he was about to board a commuter flight to Sidney — an oil town of about 5,000 people. He spent three days freezing his nuts off in the airport waiting for his parents to wire him the dough for a ticket to Australia.

Dressed for the Australian summer in T-shirt and shorts, Tobi Gutt left Germany on Saturday for a four-week holiday.
Instead of arriving "down under", Gutt found himself on a different continent and bound for the chilly state of Montana.

"I did wonder but I didn't want to say anything," Gutt told the Bild newspaper. "I thought to myself, you can fly to Australia via the United States."

As his mother told Reuters: “I didn’t notice the mistake as my son is usually good with computers.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mouse-ably Edible

With the emphasis on the Mouse. We think. The traps are out again, but Stephan keeps arguing that the poops I'm finding on the counter are just crumbs from rye bread. I'm not up for tasting them either, so don't even suggest it.

We're chillin' from our recent whirlwind visitors- Jason and Amanda. The photos are cute, the fossils are amazing, the football game was a riot (especially when 3 year old Jason realized that it was okay to scream, and started imitating the adults around him yelling, "GO!!!!!" at the appropriate times). We had one last warm day with 45 mile per hour winds on Sunday for the drive home. Now it's back to 20's and 30's with the same blowing wind.

Stephan's been studying to take a Trauma Nursing Course this week in Sydney. It means a raise for him if he passes, and 2 days of quiet contemplation for me. My Healing Touch Certification packet came back to me with a "Pending" rating, and I have quite a bit of revising to do over the next few days. If anyone out there knows of an 'alternative healing modality' within 300 miles of Baker, please email me with the phone number.

Other than that, we're back to our old, carousing selves for a while until my parents come to visit. Then the guns, knives, booze and tobacco will go back in the closet and we'll once again assume a fa├žade of dignity.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!


Our Alaska friends are here! Yippie! After settling in, and visiting the fire hall, We all (in turns) went Trick-or-Treating in the neighborhood. Since most houses have very active front AND back doors, it was sometimes hard to know where to knock.

Here's the 'trick'... everyone has a way to pick out which door- some used orange rope-light, or a turned on porch light, others put their jack-o'lanterns out on one side...

But I think we had a mixed message at our house- we actively use the back door for going in and out- and the only exterior light is out there. BUT we have a very prominant front door (that leads right into our office), and that's where we had the glowing punpkin. At some point during dinner Stephan and I divided the candy into two bowls and had one at each door. Next year we're going to do a much better decorating job. If only because we're essentially lazy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Overheard: Cleaning the House

Him: You can't be mad at me. I just used the word 'husband.'
Me: What do you mean?
Him: Hey, I didn't invent the word, I just perfected it, baby.

Him: Did you see all this dog hair?
Me: Yeah, and I just sweeped it Sunday!
Him: Sweeped? I don't think you're doing that 'Barrington' education justice.

Me: I'm worried they did something wrong, and we just don't know about it. That's why they're repentant.
Him: Not recumbant?

Monday, October 29, 2007

"We Shall Take Rome!"


Playoff football. Foot. Ball. People.

That one doesn't really work. BUT I got to attend my first high school playoff game (of my life) on Saturday afternoon. These people really take their football seriously. I went to a pre-game party where the moms were all painting their faces, and the brats-on-sticks were just like home. There's a 4' football in the front yard of one house, all the players' names lining the highway going West out of town for about 5 miles, and LOTS of maroon and gold.

Check out this photo to see how seriously we take our cheering here. The band wasn't playing, but there was a DJ downfield blasting music during time outs and between quarters. I yelled so loud I lost my voice for a while.

It was a really close game- unless you were watching the score. The turning point was in the 3rd quarter when a 10 yard kick was downed by our own team, which let us score twice in that quarter. When the kids jumped on the short kick we all looked around at each other and yelled, "Can we DO that?!". We can, and we did.

The game ended with Baker on the winning side of a 29-26 breathtaker. It wasn't until the last 2 minutes of the game did anyone guess who the winner would be. I'm not THAT into football, but this game was awesome.

Next week we play at home again - the party promises to be even bigger!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Funny?

We give the dogs the scraps from hunting/carving/cooking game. They've started learning the tell-tale signs of a pre-game feeding. It involves a burning smell and some swearing. They've both developed a really great signal to let us know that they're ready, for, whatever we decide to throw at them.

They make their mouths ready. Their little pink tongues start at one side of their mouths, and lick little licks across their little doggie lips. They do this in unison.

They've started getting their mouths ready whenever they're bored, just so we know that, if necessary, they're ready to eat the meat. Doing laundry? Their mouths are ready. Washing dishes? Ready. Cooking dinner? Constant state of readiness.

FEMA should check this out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

While the Sun Shines

If he's reading, or if someone he knows is reading this, I am truly sorry for how frustrating this must be.

And yet, I still tell the internet about it.

I know someone who was going to go to a volleyball game today in town. I think it's the championship game or something like that (forgive me Lady Spartans). But, he couldn't go. Why? Because his cows broke down a fence and got into the hay yard.

The hay yard is where they keep the hay that they've made all summer until they need it to feed the cows in the winter. There can be anywhere from 300-800 bales of hay all loaded up and stacked on top of each other. It's a cow's Old Country Buffett. For a refresher course on hay bales, click here.

So the cows ended up in the hay yard and... essentially... (Dad, do you know where I'm going with this??) ....


Essentially......

Had a Hay Day.


Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Perk

When you live with a nurse, and he has to clean up after you throw up in a bucket, he gets really excited when you actually make it into the bucket.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Surprised PETA hasn't Flagged my Blog

Go now and re-read this before continuing...

Okay, seriously, I can't believe I'm doing this. My involvement in the antelope doe was minimal. I sat in the living room distracting myself with YouTube Videos as Stephan cut it into pieces. I did cook two meals with the meat so far, but I managed to do that without actually touching the meat. And I ate it. It was yummy.

So now we have this deer doe. Stephan cut it into pieces last night, but just quarters, not actual cooking pieces. And he put 'dog scraps' in a bag. Oh, and the back straps [stop reading now if the last sentence made you queesy] were in the fridge. This morning I managed to cook the dog scraps in the oven for 2 hours on low, trying to dry it out a little. Stephan wanted the back straps cooked fresh, so the next thing on the list was to clean them and soak them in milk for a few hours.

Ok. No problem. Except he'd left a good deal of skin, really fascial tissue but that's a geek thing. Ok. No problem. Just have to cut the skin off... Just... find a knife... and, with two fingers of one hand...

Actually I'm really proud that I haven't thrown up yet over all this. I did manage to cut the meat off the fascia and put the meat in a bag with milk. It's still there. If you know me, and a lot of you do, did you EVER imagine I'd be skinning fresh ungulates?

And I've been reminded by a few people that out in Baker, there are many women who refuse to be involved in the hunting/skinning/cooking game process. So, it's not that I'm alone in this, it's just that I'm a minority.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

FAQ: What do you do when you're not working?


Photo credit: Colon

When one of us is working, and the other one is 'home' most of that day is spent cleaning, fixing, organizing, cleaning, resting.

When both of us are off for a day, watch out Montana! Usually we find some place to drive to, some place to spend quiet moments, to explore, go watch movies (that's a 50 mile drive minimum), read books together, take the dogs out to crazy fun places and let them run around.

Usually we close the day by cooking together, or walking all the way across the train tracks to the Plevna Bar to hang with friends and enjoy a refreshment or two. We're known for putting away Jack Daniels and coke, sometimes Pepsi. The walk home is refreshing and fun. Often we watch Netflix movies, or rent one from the bar (totally reminds me to return The Ice Harvest).

The photo above is of us picking out our Halloween pumpkins right out of a field. After Stephan found his, he said, "hey, where was that little one you liked?" and thus began a 20 minute search for that one that I liked. But the weather has been nice lately- little rain and lots of wind, temps in the mid 50-60's, so exploring is still a lot of fun.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Opening Day Part 2

photo by Stephan

Colon, Clint, and Stephan left bright and early to bag a doe. And- they did! Stephan took photos with his phone, and when they got back, Colon grabbed the camera so we wouldn't have only artistic shots of the prize. I'm learning quickly how boring 'hunting stories' really are. A little edited:

"We got up at 5am and were at Clint's by 5:30am. Anna was nice enough to get up and make us a little snack which we needed because we ended up at the verge of death. We drove out about 20 minutes Southeast of town to just about the North Dakota border, signed in at the Block Management Box, and went to a place where Clint said he had seen deer. As usual, when the sun came up, before I could see anything, Clint said he saw some deer in the distance, and Colon and I took his word for it. The deer broke across the plain and headed toward antoher road. Clint drove the truck down the road to intercept them. Colon jumped out of the car to set up for a shot, but didn't get it. Luckily, he didn't get one of those, because we later realized they were the wrong type of deer. We didn't have tags for those...

"We drove to a different part of the ranch, spotted a small herd in the distance, jumped into a riverbed to follow them. We came out of the riverbed to find that the small herd had magically disappeared. When we looked up we saw three trees full of sharp-tail grouse. But we didn't have shotguns to shoot them (since we were too lazy to carry them while hunting deer- lesson learned). We spent about 2-1/2 hours hunting birds. I managed to get two sharpies and a Hungarian partridge. Clint got some too. It was getting toward the end of the hunting day, about 1pm, and we knew we probably only had one long stalk left, so we drove to Clint's father's land. We came up on the downwind side of a small butte, stalked across to another, larger butte where we could survey the land, but saw nothing. Luckily Clint had hunted this land before, and knew there were some contours about 1/2 mile South. So we walked down, and as we popped our heads over a small hill we saw two groups of small deer. Colon and Clint came up with a plan, but I just stayed where I was. The next plan included a 100 yard belly crawl across a small draw- Clint had a good view of Colon's jeans dropping down to reveal his butt-crack. What a view!

"Finally, Clint sticks his head up to get a read on the does and they were basically running right toward him. He did two backward summersalts, grabbed the rifle, put it on his shoulder, plugged his left ear, and instructed Colon to take a shot. Which he did. As the two deers bounded over the next hillside, Colon and I weren't sure she was hit. Clint said she was limping. As we came over the hill we saw her smaller companion running solo, so we figured ours was hit. In the tall grass it took us a good 20 minutes to find her. The bullet had entered just behind the front left shoulder and unfortunately, had gone diagnally through the belly cavity through the back. It was a little messy. We field-dressed her, dragged her 1/2 mile to the nearest access point, walked the rest of the 1/2 mile to get thr truck, and now she's hanging in the garage."

Still reading?

I didn't think so.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Quick before the Melatonin kicks in...

A trip to Billings yesterday to pick up Colon (we're going with the nick-name to preserve a tinsey bit of anonymity) from the airport. We took a quick tour of Red Lodge again to check out more shopping and amazing vistas. Back in Billings we came across tickets to one of the bigger rodeos in Montana, the "Nile". We watched a little over 2 hours of it, including an opening prayer, bare-back bronc riding, saddle-back bronc riding, calf roping, calf wrestling, and a really interesting event where they put helmets on 3-year-olds, instruct them to hang on tightly, and put the kids on sheep. The sheep run about for a while, until the kid falls off. The crowd goes wild, and the kid gets their photo taken. I didn't know whether to laugh or call a government official.

Today- pumpkins, driving, dogs, dinner, drinking, dancing, discussions, (is there a "d" word for bowling??).

Now- sleeping.

Tomorrow- boys heading out to the shooting range to practise for their big doe/turkey day on Sunday. Photos soon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Comparison

8pm in Chicago

Toilet is plugged! Uh oh!
Step 1: Call Dad.
Step 2: Get in car.
Step 3: Drive 5 minutes.
Step 4: Arrive at Wal-Mart purchase plunger.
Step 5: Go home and fix problem.

8pm in Plevna

Toilet is plugged! Oh no!
Step 1: Call Stephan.
Step 2: Walk to neighbor's house.
Step 3: Make funny-but-awkward comment and ask for plunger.
Step 4: Go home and fix problem.
Step 5: Make funny-but-awkward comment and return plunger.

Me: Should I clean it?
Him: Just get the chunks off and dry it off.
Me: Should I disinfect it?? What's the etiquette for something like this?
Him: Anna, it's going back into another toilet, just get the chunks and give it back.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How to Cook Antelope

So far we've made three meals out of it:

1) Marinated overnight, then crock-pot cooked the next night (still dry)
2) Put in chili instead of shreaded beef or pork (VERY good)
3) Stuffed with garlic, covered in Thyme, cooked on low in cream of chicken soup with potatoes and carrots (Excellent!)

I have recipies for jerky and fried steaks. Any other suggestions?

In other, annoying, news Stephan worked until 9pm last night (that's a 15 hour day) and this morning was told he had to work the night shift tonight. Luckily (does that even apply in this situation??) he won't have to double-shift it since someone is working his day-shift tomorrow. He will be back during the day on Wedesday, provided nothing stupid happens tomorrow night.

Grrr. It's like being single again, but someone keeps eating and messing up the kitchen.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Summer's Last Gasp

The last few days have been pretty busy. Since the weekend was chuck full of dead animals, this week was devoted mainly to trying to catch up with house work and preparing for visitors! Stephan worked late most days, and I tried to get my 'act' together to present 30 minute yoga lessons to two groups of women.

Stephan spent his two days away from the hospital clinging to the roof by his toe nails putting up the last of the tar paper and flashing before it gets too cold and snowy. He still has a vent cover to install, and we need a tube of Liquid Nails for something, but he's back to work this weekend so those projects will have to wait. Luckily, the ceiling hasn't bled in quite some time (could be due to lack of rain though).

The dogs and cats are all behaving exactly as they should be- cats jumping and scratching, dogs chewing antelope bones and throwing up in the bed.

The weather has been getting colder (30-50F) but still very dry. The wind howls every day between 15-35 mph. The vacuum is still broken. The antelope tail was removed from the car on Tuesday night (but now I don't know where it is).

That's really it- it's nice to have spent a few days just gettin' it done.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

Overheard: In the parking lot

Me: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guy: What is it? What's wrong??

Me: THERE'S AN ANTELOPE TAIL IN THE BACK OF MY CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guy: How did it get there?

Me: STEPHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Preface

As I was growing up, every summer for a while our family would vacation at a fish hatchery/fishing resort. After more than a dozen years of catching seaweed-fish, at 23 years old, I was determined to catch a trout. Up at 6:00am, waiting for the siren to signal time to fish... My first cast I caught one, nice sized. I reeled it up to the shore, then dropped the fishing pole.

I refused to touch the fish. I didn't have gloves on, and I was afraid I was going to hurt it. The hook was still in its mouth, but I freaked out. I started crying. Eventually, the fish flopped its way off the hook, but I still couldn't get near enough to it to throw it back in the water. There was much yelling. Once the fish was back in the stream (and probably caught by someone else later that day) I had to walk past my uncles to go back to bed. They wouldn't even look at me.

I haven't fished since.

Paparazzi NOT Invited (GRAPHIC)

4:15am Stephan wakes up like a kid on Christmas, gets dressed in his new camo gear (thanks to his dad) and heads out the door.

12:30pm Stephan calls to tell me that he's got a Doe. Not a Deer, an antelope. His friend wants to shoot a few birds before they come home, so they stay out for a little while longer.

3:00pm I hear the car pull up, Stephan walks out from the garage, bloody from the knees down. Tired- sweaty- wet- muddy- and full of cow poop. He tells me the antelope (or, 'meat for the winter' as she's being called now) is strapped to the roof of the car. He counsels me NOT to go outside. But I grab the camera, a jacket, and a deep breath before heading out.

I had asked him to make sure he didn't bring home anything that could look at me. Unfortunately, legally, the game warden needs to see if it's a male or female. Deep inhales. It's ok. Focus on logistics. There's a dead animal on the roof of the car- how's it going to get down from there, and WHERE is it going now??

Just in time, Karla and Gary show up, excited to see what the great hunter-gatherer has brought home. Karla distracts me as Gary and Stephan get it down, and hang it up in the garage (something about cooling it off and draining fluid). The garage door is closed before I can look at it again. One photo, just of a hoof hanging over the windshield. I don't think I'm going to post it. Thinking about this for a while I'm finally okay with hunting for a few reasons:

1. It's MUCH cheaper than buying meat at the grocery store all winter.
2. We're going to be using everything, not wasting parts.
3. We know that, up until the moment she died, she ate fresh grass, hay and alfalfa, she ran around the plains, she was free. No cages, no overcrowded pens, no eating the mash made of other animals. Ew.
4. We both thanked the doe, and for the first time, I am truly grateful for the animals who give up their lives.

Being closer to the "animal = food" process has made me much more respectful of what I eat. Having a large hoofed animal hanging in my garage does make me nauseous, and trying to explain why to people who live here just takes way to long.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sausage Supper is FINALLY here!!!!


I've posted the full set of photos from the night of sausage making on the Flickr site. There's too many photos to put them all here. Here is the text, and trust me, the photos are well worth clicking on the link. WARNING: PHOTOS MAY OFFEND SOME PEOPLE WHO DON'T LIKE MEAT. DON'T CLICK IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO RAW PORK PRODUCTS.

Making 2,500lbs of sausage in one night - from cutting the meat to grinding, flavoring, stuffing, and smokin'...

Stephan and friends took out veins, glands, hair, etc. from the pork shoulders, being careful to leave in as much yummy fat as possible...

One plastic tub holds 80lbs of pork...

Each tub on the left is 80lbs of pork. Each tub on the right is 20lbs of beef. What you see here is 800lbs of would-be sausage...

All that meat gets ground by this one grinder, by this one man. Thankfully, it's electric. Can't hand-crank 2,500lbs of meat!

Totally reminds me of the Play-Doh "Fun Factory"...

What I can't show you is the little man with the white hair who holds the secret recipe for the seasoning. He makes it by the tub-full and sloshes it into this mixer (a 100lb mixer). The ground meat mixes here for about 10 minutes before moving on...

This is a store bought sausage stuffer (it later crapped out on us). It holds 100lbs of sausage at a time in the tank. It has a water tank, water pump, and the metal cylander is really just a big piston. When the water pressure builds up, it forces the sausage mixture out through the tube and into the sausage casing (pig gut). When all the machines crapped out, it was up to the rookie (aka Stephan) to hand-crank out the last 180lbs of sausage...

As the casing is being filled it's easiest to roll the sausage into a coil before cutting it into smaller links. If you look down the table you can see someone untangling some pig gut to load onto another stuffer...

Here's Anna cutting the sausage into more-or-less uniform lengths. Since most of them were less uniform, she changed jobs soon after this photo...

With all this raw meat flying around, some of it happened to land on the grill. Sausage patties and links- MMMMMM...

We smoke about 1/2 the sausage at a time on Friday, with the high school kids helping to rotate the batches...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Delicious Dish

I recently went to a Soup and Salad Luncheon. It was very well attended, and it was actually REALLY nice to go somewhere are know a lot of people. The food was out of this world. The long line was well worth it. I ate way too much, and got to try a few foods that I'd never even heard of.

Here's the interesting part. Salad... no lettuce was in the building that day. Salad = mayonaise. Or Cool-whip. Or Italian dressing. Now, don't get offended if you live here, I've spoken to the organizers and they told me that usually there is at least one salad with lettuce- usually a Taco Salad.

Today's lesson: Salad does not = lettuce. Maybe that's why the last time I made "That Damn Salad," no one ate it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Souvenirs


(Souvenir is NOT an English word. How would YOU spell it??)

Mom sent us two religious medals from Santa Fe, which we received in the mail today, St. Anne and St. Stephen. We read all about them on the enclosed cards.

Then we got home, to find that one of the dogs had also left us a souvenir: it seems that a long day of stick chewing and office-paper gnawing culminated in an eruption of stomach acid and wood pulp IN OUR BED. It soaked through the throw blanket, the comforter, and the bed sheets to stain our mattress. As we were blotting dry the puke-strained mattress Stephan asked in his best bedroom voice, "Feeling frisky yet?"

On our part, there was much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth. As Stephan trudged out to the garage to find more blankets he yelled over his shoulder, "Call your mom and ask her who the patron saint of puking dogs is!"

Mom, who is the patron saint of puking dogs?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Overheard: Trying to leave the house

Me: OW! You scratched me!

Him: No I didn't.

Me: Yes, you did!

Him: Where?

Me: Right here!

Him: That's not a scratch, that's a stretchmark.

Me: Excuse me?!

Him: [mumble, mumble] Everyone has stretch marks. I have them... It's... okay... they're.... [mumble mumble]...

Note to Men- No matter what it is, it's always a scratch, it's NEVER a stretchmark.

Him: So can I type a note to women? To tell them that's it's USUALLY a stretchmark.

Me: NO! I'm the one typing. [insert glare here]

Saturday, September 29, 2007

7:31


The time in the morning that this guy, right here woke up on a SATURDAY (people, SAT-UR-DAY) to go with a buddy to the shooting range to get ready for hunting season. Much more on hunting season coming soon.

Thursday's Sigh of Relief

Remember this? And then the happiness of this,that culminated in the Friday posting in this post.

Well, after clicking the refresh button relentlessly on the NELRP Scholarship page...



This is THE letter. The letter that says, "Dear Mr. Koruba, I am pleased to inform you that you have been awarded a 2-year contract to participate in the Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Service, Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP)."

Check out the program here if you would like to know more. Essentially, being part of the program means that we won't be paying off student loans when we're both 80. They'll be paid off when we're 60!

Anyway, we've been celebrating, mostly by taking deep breaths and feeling how good the extra space feels. Also by looking around the house and noting all the projects we'd put on hold until we got this letter. And we actually opened the book about traveling to Eastern Europe that we bought back in June. Good stuff!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Open letter of apology to my mom

Mom,

Remember when I was little and you were always asking me to clean up? Sometimes I would be a brat and ask, "WHY?" and you would say, "Just in case someone stops by." Back then, I thought that it was just silly- no one was going to just 'stop by' without calling first. And as I got older, and lived in apartments and houses near the city, this ideology was confirmed. No one just 'stops by' anymore. So I was safe. The house just needed to be clean enough that you had enough time to straighten up when your geographically closest friend called to say they were coming over. No worries!

Mom, I was wrong. People do 'stop by'. Especially here. I'm learning to always have the dishes clean, dog hair vacuumed off the chairs, clothes put away (the neighbors really don't care what my underware looks like, so having it on the kitchen table just isn't required), and at least something in the fridge to offer guests. Gross bathroom? Not when the mayor or superintendant of schools could stop by in the evening just to say hi. Mom, you were right, the mayor could come over without notice.

I'm going to clean my room right now.

Love,
Anna

Monday, September 24, 2007

Overheard: In the grocery store +more!


Local: You guys just moved here, right?

Me: Yep.

Local: And you have a couple kids, right?

Me: Nope.

Local: Why not?

Me: ...?

Our friend's suggested answers include:
Me: Because Stephan's sex-change operation didn't allow for procreation.

Me: Because we're afraid they'd turn out like you.

One of our 'friends' said, "Come on now, Anna... Isn't it about time you start calvin' out?"

I don't know what to do with that.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Whatcha doin this weekend?

If Shakira made a workout video I would totally watch it every day.

Otherwise, it's the last of 4 days in a row for Stephan. Since he had to come in two hours early yesterday he got to sleep in until 6:30 this morning (yea!). Things have been busy enough over there, with a few inpatients, and just enough ER's to keep things interesting. He's got that "Day 4" fever though, where he's really just ready to have a day away from sick people.

I was asked to teach a 30 minute intro to Yoga class at the Baker Spirit of Women Breast Cancer Style Show later in October. I'd never thought of myself as qualified to teach yoga, but I guess since I've been doing it for about 7 years and own almost every video that Gaiam makes I'll probably be ok. This weekend I've been researching yoga's roots, the poses, watching videos, and trying to figure out how I'm going to present an entire spiritual discipline in 30 minutes. Oh, and...

Me: How many people?

Her: 130 we hope.

Me: Um, are they all going to bring towels?

Her: Why?

Me: Because yoga is done on the floor.

Her: Well we're going to do it in chairs.

Me: Huh. Ok.

Which has prompted more research into Chair Yoga. Apparently, there's a woman who has created a certification program to teach her own system of chair yoga to immobile people who can't get on the floor. Interesting. I now know more than I ever wanted to.

Have fun in Ohio Dad!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Overheard: In the Car


Dora: Hey little crab! What's wrong?

Little Crab: I want my mommy!

Me: Hey, I want my mommy.

Him: You know, I want your mommy too.

Me: Have things really reached that level?

Him: Yes.

So we're kinda busy lately- Stephan's in the middle of working another 4 day in a row shift. I've signed myself up for more things than I know what to do with. Last night we got home after 8:15, ate leftovers, and fell asleep. Then, of course, we wake up at 4:45am and do it all again. At least the scenery is nice.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stephan's 18 hour shift

Me: So, how was that 18 hour shift Sunday night?

Him: [yawn] You gotta have some better material than that. This ain't cuttin' it.

Me: Seriously, tell me about what it was like to stay awake for 28 hours straight and be responsible for the lives of an entire county of people.

Him: Luckily we had no ER's. And caffeine. That's it.

Me: ... What else?

Him: Nothing.

Me: ...

Him: ...

Well, all I know is that when I picked him up he was making pac-man's with tennis balls. Complete with the "wocka wocka" noises.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"I think the cat is bulimic..."


Ah yes, phone calls home. They're important, and touching. It's great how just telling Mom or Dad about something that happened can make everything better. And it's nice to know that the world is still turning back on your old block. But sometimes phone calls just can't convey the seriousness of a situation:

Me: Stephan's at a fire meeting and I'm doing dishes.

Parent: I think the cat is bulimic.

Me: What??

Parent: She eats all the food and then throws up right away.

Me: Is she losing weight?

Parent: No. But it's gross to have the pile of half eaten soggy food.

Me: Really?? Wow.

Parent: Well, she eats it again in about an hour.

Me: ... [really] ... [um] ...

Me: An hour? You don't clean it up before then?

Parent: No. Why should I? She eats it and then I don't have to deal with it.

Me: Um. Ew.

Parent: Exactly how do you pronounce BLECHAAAAHIICKK?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lederhosen

We drove out to Red Lodge Saturday night to check out their Oktoberfest celebration. It was a cute little town, exactly what we imagened Montana would be like. Teva sandals, Earth shoes, Merrell shoes, babies strapped to breast-feeding mothers... it looked like an entire town sprung out of the Lands End catalogue.

Stephan said of the town, "It's where Returned Peace Corps Volunteers go to die." We thought about moving out there for a minute, but realized we'd never live anywhere where we would actually fit in.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dropping the 'F' bomb

I had it. I just couldn't take any more. I'd seen too much. Things were getting out of control.

So I made Stephan clear the house of animals, cover all the food-prep items, and take a day out of the house... after dropping the fog bomb to kill all the bugs. The clean up several hours later involved finding buckets full of spiders. Dead. Good. Huge wolf spiders, and lots of Pholcidae.

Then, inevitably, someone smart comes along and says, "yeah, this is a good time to bomb, but you should do it again in a few weeks after the babies are born."

BLECHAAAAHIICKK.

No.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Return your foreskin to it's proper position.....

Me: I can't write a blog with this title.

Him: Why not?

Me: It's x-rated.

Him: No it's not. It's biology.

Me: I can't have 'foreskin' in the title.

Him: Anyway...

Me: What was I going to blog about? I forget. Oh yeah...

[5 minutes ago, out of the blue]

Him: FYI- if we ever have a little boy, he's getting circumsized.

Me: WTF?!

Him: The other day at work I saw what happens when you don't return the foreskin to it's proper position. And when our boy is old and someone has to wipe his butt, at least he won't have that problem.

Me: Where's the computer?? I need to type something.

**Stephan would like me to point out that, in his defense, we are watching a movie where a male child gets baptized and he thinks it flowed nicely to the story about work.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

35 minutes to Ohare

Subtitled: Homesick

The first few days (or weeks) after coming home are always the hardest. As Stephan said, "you don't feel that warm cocoon of love out here." It's true. It's like getting out of bed on a cold winter morning. You didn't really know how warm it was under the covers until you roll them back and the cool air hits your skin.

Two things hit me hard this week. One was listening to WBBM radio and hearing the traffic report. It's nice in some way to know what the expressways are doing. Is there congestion at the Hinsdale Oasis? What's the travel time to the Circle? Hearing the report put me 1/2 way home. Okay. It made me cry. I mean, traffic has often made me cry, just not from 1,400 miles away.

The second one is something my brother can relate to: a smell. Stephan and I once were purified by a Peruvian Healer using Sage Bark. The scent was wonderful, and did a lot to calm us both down. There was a little shop in Arlington Heights that sold herbs and oils, and Stephan gifted me with a baggie of Sage to burn in the apartment we lived in. In the cool autumn air, the burning sage kept us emotionally warm.

While he was in Great Falls, he found a bundle of sage and we lit it Saturday to fill the house with the familiar scent. Immediately I was brought back to the tiny expensive apartment with two little puppies and cats that peed on the floor. The small kitchen that didn't fit hardly anything so we stacked boxes and dishes on top of the fridge. Weekend drives down to Oak Lawn, or Tinley Park, or Chicago. Needing to shower after volunteering at the foot clinic. Ordering pizza and having it delivered... the old days.

Making my Dad proud with every post....




Fact #1: We live in Montana

Fact #2: We don't have TV

Fact #3: We do have the internet

Fact #4: We can stream TV, movies, music, even conference calls

Fact #5: According to the NFL we live in a "restricted territory" and cannot stream football

Question: Wtf?

Restricted territory?! What does that mean? If you check out nfl.gamepass you will see a list of restricted territories: the US, Canada, Mexico... I would like to know where on the planet I would need to be to stream NFL games. Why is this web page even in English?

Breathing. Slowly. In. Out. I guess I'll just have to refresh the Bears home page every few minutes to keep up to date. Stephan's working today anyway- so I guess we'll both just have to keep breathing.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Uniformed


What exactly does a Brave Warrior Princess wear to evict intruders from the fortress? Long pants, sweatshirt, boots, gloves (with the sleeves of the sweatshirt tucked inside), and for a weapon? BBQ tongs.

I found this one first thing in the morning in the cats' water dish. Go ahead- take out a quarter. See for yourself. This is getting to be too much. The exterminator promised to call Stephan back, but they haven't yet.

Oh, and Harold and Maude is a movie for hippies.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Maybe I should invest in cable TV

With Stephan gone for a few days, things definitely feel different here. Ignoring the severe diet changes, the lack of grilled meat, etc, I've been getting a lot more sleep. No 4:30am wake up calls. The dogs, however, haven't been sleeping well at all. They bark at every little noise. I don't know if they think they're protecting me, or if they are just nervous. Often one or the other will lay their head on my knee, look up with 'sad eyes' and wimper a little.

All 4 animals slept on the bed last night. Two dogs on my feet, a cat at my tummy, and another near my neck. Everyone was exactly in the same place when the fire radio (which doubles as a bus driver radio) lit up at 7am to tell me that so-and-so wasn't going to be riding the bus today.

Since we don't have cable, and there's nothing we can get via antenna, I often watch YouTube videos. Or, like tonight, put on a movie we own, and just let it run in the background. So far I've seen: Father's Little Dividend, Scrooged, Kingdom of Heaven, Memoirs of a Geisha, Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers, Cars, and the special features for each. The next movie on the list is Kung Fu Hustle.

If anyone wants to watch it with me, let me know!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

*EVERYBODY PANIC!

*Not really.

Two weeks ago Stephan agreed to attend a meeting on oe of his days off. He didn't read the agenda. He showed up in dirty shorts and a ball cap. He expected to be there for about an hour. About 5 hours after the meeting started, he came out with a new title: Trauma Coordinator. Immediately he was given several books to read, and told to attend two conferences as soon as possible. This week he is at one of them run by the state of Montana's Departments of EMS & Trauma Systems".

Essentially, from the moment a person unfortunatelly requires Emergency Assistance, to minute they arrive in the ER, the possibility of a trip (via ambulance or airplane) to another facility, to the final health outcome, the Trauma Coordinator is there. Not physically there, but he needs to know the players, the systems, the vocabulary, and make sure that everyone has everything they need, and that they're all speaking the same language.

The job involves creating procedures, teaching those to everyone, creating paperwork to track the procedures, and keeping track of all the paperwork. He also must track inventory and supplies and be sure they always adhere to state standards. He follows via the paperwork and phone calls the path of the patient. He will make sure that the way we "package" our patients when we send them out makes it easy for the next location to treat them. It is a very involved job, one that he was at first a little nervous about, but now is very excited for. It integrates his community development skill set into the health care knowledge he is still learning to use.

Of course, this means he will be even more busy on his days off, a fact that is easier now that we're done with road trips until Christmas. If you want to see us, please let us know when you're planning to be here!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

You're getting very sleepy....

What a crazy few days, and they are far from over! After the deer, then being stranded in Salt Lake City for an extra day, I arrived back in Chicago to see Stephan for about 2 hours before spending some much needed time with my friend. One night with my parents, then a busy, bustling two days of wedding preparations. It was a beautiful event.

The morning after the wedding, with headaches to prove our enjoyment of the reception, we spent time with family and friends at a Labor Day meal, then headed back to Montana by 5pm. We got to Baker safely around 9am, when Stephan had just enough time to repack, shower, and get into a car with another nurse to travel to Great Falls for a conference about Trauma Nursing. He should be back around 2am on Saturday morning, in time for his shift to begin at 5:30am.

I'm working on a post describing Stephan's new appointment as the Trauma Coordinator for our hospital- a job that involves coordinating all the emergency medical responders in the county. Until then, it's my turn to eat Raman and tuna, and try to stay busy until he gets home again.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Deer-ly Beloved

Sorry for the pause in posting. I'm in Salt Lake City tonight because my flight into Dallas (and thus to Chicago) was cancelled. I'm currently enjoying the lush comforts of a delivered Domino's Pizza, and a Super 8 hotel. Not to worry, I should be home tomorrow afternoon, in plenty of time to stand up at my friend's wedding on Sunday.

How did I get to Salt Lake City in the first place? We got our car back from the body shop on Tuesday before noon. It looked perfect. Brand new. Pretty paint, new rear bumper, clean doors. Amazing. At 7pm we drove out of town, North on Rt 12. Not 10 minutes later Stephan asked me, "what was that? Something just crossed in the road behind us!" As he was looking in the rear view mirror, a deer ran across the road in front of us and he breaked just in time for the front passenger bumper to slam into the small deer and send it flying. We pulled over, safe but shaken. I was trying very hard not to laugh. Stephan was swearing up a storm. We got out of the car and saw that, on the same side of the car that had just been fixed, the front bumper had broken off the frame. Some of the quotes from that night:

Him: THIS is why we can't have nice things!

Me: Shouldn't we see if the deer is ok?
Him: What am I going to do? Start an IV?
Me: You could.

Me: STOP! Another deer!
Him: That' a bush.
Me: Oh.

Me: ON THE LEFT!
Him: That's a tree.
Me: Oh.

Me: Ooh, look at the moon!
Him: Where?
Me: On the left. Like, "There's a bad moon on the left."
Him: What?
Me: That song... "There's a bad moon on the right."
Him: There's a "bad moon on the RISE."
Me: Oh.
Him: Did you spend a part of your life deaf?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Universal Truth

No matter how friendly he is, or how long ago you told him you were going to bring your car in to have it fixed, or how small the town is...

The body shop guy will NEVER get the part in on time.

Never.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Question for the Universe

My vacuum cleaner isn't working. The Hepa Filter says to change it every 6 months. It's been 6 years.... is that something you have to change, or is it like that extra car insurance when you rent a car? Can I just run it without the Helpa Filter? What IS a Hepa Filter? Don't they make clothes and rope out of Hepa?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday


We set traps yesterday. My job was to hold the cabinet door open so it didn't accidently swing at Stephan's head and freak him out while he set the traps. There was lots of jumping involved. I picked up the camera for a minute to try to catch a photo, but I had a job to do- photos had to wait until later.

Now, this morning, Stephan left for work. I didn't drive him, and wasn't awake when he left. But I do know that one of the traps is missing, and there are work gloves on the kitchen counter. I'm on garbage duty this morning, and seriously wondering what's going on. Where is the mouse? Is it in the garbage? You can't just spring that on someone- I need to know. Where is the mouse? I don't want to be tooling along this morning, whistling a happy tune, and be surprised that there's a dead mouse... in my way.

Haven't done laundry myself again yet. Just so you know. I wonder, when you see those "Please save our pets" signs on windows for emergency workers, why don't they list spiders and mice?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mornings


This is what it looked like last week as we drove Stephan to work at 5:15am. This week, it's just back to blackness. We miss the beautiful sunrises, the red clouds, the owls trying to fly in front of the car. It's getting cold here very quickly. Last week we had 100+ temperatures, this week is all 60's and 70's. School started here today. What happened to summer?

Stephan is looking forward to the frigid temperatures he misses from Alaska. I'm excited that all the spiders will die when it snows in the basement again. Not that we want it to snow in the basement. But if it does.... bye bye spidey! We haven't seen a Return of the Mouse, but he chewed and spit out a chunk of cabinet. Good for him. Maybe it was coated in formaldehyde.

As Stephan once said to me, I better stop saying those things, or the "NAACP is going to be after you."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

NOT about the Fair

If you read the blog regularly, you know that about once a week I find something to freak myself out about. We've been through the Bleeding Ceiling, snakes, submandibular masses, and spiders. Last week, a mouse jumped out at me from a tall cabinet. I didn't write about this. I was tuff.

Some days I think my house is conspiring against me. Like today. Today, I've moved past my fear of the basement. Spiders? We haven't seen them in weeks! I thought they were gone. THEN I took the laundry downstairs. No problem. Oh, look, a little tiny spider. How tiny and cute. That can't hurt me. No proble......eeeehhhhhhhhMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM....

I walked into a spider web. And, like a warrior holding his shield in front to protect him from death, I held onto the laundry basket as I ran up the stairs. Shoved the basket up onto the kitchen floor (possibly injuring one of the dogs who was in the way). Now, I'm back on the couch. I've relapsed into pre-Montana eating habits like fake-crab meat and pickled okra. I'm in my happy place.

I'll be up here if anyone needs me.

<>

Him: Can we throw insects into the web?
Me: No.
Him: Maybe if we start feeding them, they'll feel more like pets.
Me: No.
Him: Seriously?
Me: NO!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Careful what you wish for...


There's a sound out there this morning I haven't heard since we moved here 6 months ago. I'm learning how the wail of a siren can actually pierce the human body when someone you love is on one of the fire trucks speeding out of town. Funny that the dogs woke up just 2 minutes before the alarm sounded on the radio. Funny that just last night at the Party on the Square, Stephan met two kids he was in the Fire Fighter One class with. They were talking about how few fires have happened in the Plevna Fire District.

I couldn't hear exactly what was going on- all I heard was smoke in some pine trees. It's the "tree" part that scares me. People have been telling me about how fire jumps between trees. How unpredictable tree fires can be. Kristen, I'm sure you can tell me more.

I know everything's going to be just fine. He'll be back in a few hours, stinking of smoke, and tired, but safe. Until then, I'll be pacing the house and listening for trucks returning.

******************
He's back! Home in one piece, wearing cute pants. As soon as I can, I'll 'interview' him about the fire this morning. He had to go wash the truck, and I want to go catch a few more photos!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fair: Thursday and Friday


Photo of a pig, and Stephan eating pie. The best part about the fair, HAS to be the pie. We've had two pieces each night the fair has been going on. As Stephan says, "The Lutherans have the best pie."

Photos are on The Website in a set of it's own called "Fallon County Fair '07". We're going to a concert tonight, if Stephan gets out of work on time.

My greatest moment forced Stephan to say, "Come on, LuAnn, let's get out of here." I saw some cows. I looked at the children taking care of the cows and said, "Can we just touch them?" The kids looked at me like I was crazy, and that's when we left the livestock tent. Apparently, you can touch the cows to your heart's content. Cows aren't a big deal here.

There were also pigs and chickens and things. And canned foods, prized carrots and squash, quilts, and games and rides. It's been a blast so far- even though it's been 60 degrees and soggy for two days.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

All's Fair

It's Officially Fair Time in Baker! Fair. Time. People. What does that mean? It means that every hotel has 'no vacancy' signs up. It means that the lines at the Big K and Frady's (drive up restaurants) are really long. It means that Stephan is bracing himself for rodeo ER's. Here's the schedule:

Thursday
8:00am - 4-H Horse Show
7:00pm - Talent Show

Friday
8:00am - 4-H Livestock show
7:00pm - PRCA Rodeo

Saturday
1:00pm - Rodeo
8:00pm - Entertainment

Sunday
10:00am - Cowboy Church at Fairground Square
12:30pm - Parade
2:00pm - Demolition Derby
7:00pm - Four Shadow Night Show - Tim Gabrielson

I promise to post photos and comments. I've never been to a county fair- and certainly not one in a state that pioneered 4-H.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Overheard: TMI

Me: When you're out of the shower come here and look at this website.
Him: Oh, yeah, that's going to be a great movie.
Me: HEY!
Him: WHAT?!
Me: You just farted, and then waved it at me with your towel.
Him: No.
Me: Yes you did.
Him: No. I just farted and the towel came off.
Me: ....
Him: I am many things, but I am not that guy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"Friday"

We use this word, not to refer to an actual day of the week, but a circumstance: The evening before a day off. For instance, Sunday night was Stephan's Friday because he didn't have to work on Monday. Tuesday night will be my Friday because I don't work on Wednesday. Stephan's next Friday will be Thursday night.

This was all good when he was working 3-4 days in a row. There would only be one Friday per week. But now that life has calmed down, and the schedule he's working is more sane... there are more Fridays. This week, there will be three Fridays since he works two days, is off for two days, works two days, is off for one day and then works one day.

Friday used to be an excuse- now it's a way of life.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Overheard: In the Bar


Stephan told me this story- it is well worth repeating:

I was shooting pool, waiting for you to be finished at work. It was early afternoon, so it was mostly people in their 70's hanging out. They were talking about Sturgis, which, I guess, is a coming-of-age experience here. As I passed by the group to order another drink, an old man pulled me aside and said, "Young man, come over here for a second."

Much to my surprise, he pulls a two-foot zucchini out of a produce box, slaps it on my upper thigh, and says, "I just wanted to see which one is bigger." To which I respectfully replied, "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't want to embarrass you." His friends all got a good laugh out of it, and I was glad I didn't have to show up The Zucchini.

And so it goes on the great plains...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

An Outing



We went golfing this week. We didn't keep score, and we shared the one set of loaner clubs. Actually, we just played like we were one person- Stephan shooting the long game, and me doing the medium stuff and putting. We played the 9 holes that we have here in Baker, at the Country Club that you can see above. The closest I think we got to playing real golf was getting a double bogie (which apparently means hitting the ball two more times than par) on a hole. Everything else was 9-12 strokes to get to the green.

It was ok, though, since we were the only ones out there. I learned that golf is a lot more fun with whiskey, and that my fun-limit is about 4 drinks, or 6 holes, whichever comes first.

Later that day I claimed that I'd had to much "sun", leading Matt (of Matt and Kayle) to offer me a "sun and coke" at dinner.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Overheard: More Insects

Me: There's a big bug.

Him: Kill it.

Me: With what?

Him: Toilet Paper.

Me: It's too big to kill with toilet paper.

Him: Then use... ah... use a labrador.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Back from St. Louis


I had a long, wonderful trip out to St. Louis, passed the Healing Touch Level 5 class, and had a peaceful journey home. Passing the class officially makes me a Healing Touch Practitioner. Check out the video to learn more about it.

Home has been nice. The weather is cooler. I missed my clients, and am happy to get back to work. Things are going really well for Stephan at the hospital too. We're both looking forward to a few calm weeks before a trip home for a (really exciting) wedding.

Thanks for bearing with the blog while things have been shaking around. I have photos from the class on the photo site.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Starting another week

First of all, thank you to everyone who posted and emailed with their concern. We really do appreciate it! The short version is: my aunt passed away suddenly last week. I flew down to Oklahoma City to be with my family, and now I'm back.

We haven't seen a spider since last Tuesday. Of course, I haven't been in the basement either.

We had 2-3 days of relief from the 100+ degree heat Thursday and Friday, but we're climbing back up there, and should get hit with hot hot hot and dry dry dry and sun sun sun by Monday or Tuesday. We sill only have the one small window air conditioner (for which we are eternally grateful) but Stephan worked on a window-screen project the other night that's helping cool off the house at night.

In other Stephan news... he helped save someone's life on Monday morning! A person came in with chest pain, and between Stephan, the night nurse (who was amazing and stayed 3 hours after his shift was over) and a doctor, they got the pain down, and got everything prepped and ready for a plane flight to Billings. Stephan found out later that the person is doing very well. The flight nurses were very impressed with how well "packaged" the patient was. I'm so proud.

This coming week has us driving to Wolf Point, Montana so that I can pick up an Amtrak train that will take me to St. Paul, so I can catch a plane flight to get me to St.Louis for a week. I'm taking my last Healing Touch class Thursday through Sunday. For sure there will be no internet next week- so if you're bored, you can go back and read some old posts. Here is a post with my favorites.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

For Someone- and Anyone

Sorry to bog down the internet, but when I heard this song, I started crying. We've had a very recent tragedy in our family- we would appreciate kind thoughts right now.

No Vacancy



Responses to our spider problem (This photo is of the 3rd one we've found. It's not a good photo because I took it from 10' away)...

1. "You guys have guns in the house, right?"
2. "It would have just handed me the shoe right back!"
3. "We need to get county tags for our spiders, forget about the chicken idea."
4. "It asked me if anything had come in the mail for it."
5. "I would move."
6. "Whacha need tuh git yurself dair is uh can uh raid."
7. "...and then the spider grabbed the can out of my hand and said..."
8. "...he spit the bullet out and asked me..."

This one looks different than the last one, but it's the same size (cue the AA batteries). Any ideas?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not What Martha had in mind





Take out a AA battery. Really. Do it. Now, add legs. Not kidding. It's spider time people. Spider. Freaking. Time. People.

The spider was on the landing on the way to the basement. According to Stephan it's a wolf spider, not harmful at all. But it was waiting for a package to be delivered to our house, and was reading a newspaper just before posing for the photo. Not to worry, Sierra Club Members, Stephan relocated it out back, unharmed. During the Wildlife America Episode occuring in the basement, I was happily breathing into a paper bag on the couch in the living room. Stephan is currently yelling at the cats for not earning their kibble, allowing things like this to live with us.


In other news, I'm slowly finding out that homesickness is a normal part of adjusting to a new life. I have the guru here to help me navigate my way through this, and, as he says, it's a good thing.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What we're doing today...

Stephan got up and is at a fire department meeting. Apparently it will last through most of the day, and include training sessions, and vehicle maintance.

Which left me to take out the trash.

About "the trash": Saturday morning from 9-noon, and Wednesday evenings from 7-8pm, the dump is open. There is no home-pickup of garbage. No garbage trucks in Plevna, Montana. So, during the week, we put our garbage in the garage. On Saturdays, or Wednesdays, depending on our schedule, we put the garbage bags IN THE CAR and drive about 1/2 a mile to the dump. The garbage goes IN THE CAR. We don't have a truck with an open truck bed. We have a Ford Escape. All the windows rolled down, the air blowing at maximum, sometimes the rear trunk window open, we drive to the dump.

You get there, back up to a big truck-trailer sized open bin, and throw them in. Now, anything can go into this dumpster, large sticks of wood, metal, furniture, walls of chicken coops, animal skins....

And today was my turn.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mostly funny, but a little sad too

Yesterday

7:00pm "Hey, let's grill burgers! I'll let the dogs out..."

7:30pm "Hi Mom, we miss you..."

8:00pm "Wow, these are great burgers..."

8:45pm "Little Miss Sunshine IS funny..."

8:57pm "Where are the dogs??"

8:58pm "At least we know they'll stay in the yard..."

Yesterday was also the day that Stephan lost a patient while he was at work. It was early in the morning, and the family was all gathered together. It was a very peaceful moment, but a new one for Stephan. He said it the whole day was just a little more sad than he's used to, but he was okay overall. Of course, we wish peace and comfort to the family and friends of this very special person.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Overheard: Lemon Squares

Him: This package says that high altitude is 3,500 feet.
Me: I think that's us.
Him: Really?
Me: [typing]
Me: Oh, we're only at 2,900.
Him: Um, then I'll split the difference.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fired Up

Ok. So I'm finally recovered from this morning's Fire the Grid events, and thought I'd write about our little vacay last week. We took off on Tuesday night, around 8pm (dogs were in a kennel for the first time in their lives. I cried) and drove straight to Shell Knob, Missouri. We got there 18 hours later to visit with my family for a while. It was a wonderful visit, as they all are. Too short, as they all are. Everyone left Friday morning, which left us with a few hours to ourselves!

I dragged Stephan through Southwestern Missouri to Roaring River State Park right on the Arkansas border. This is where the family vacations used to be, and where some of my fondest memories take me. We spent the afternoon hiking and exploring, feeding the fish (where was a paper cup when I needed it??), buying snacks at the store, and smelling the wonderful fish-hatchery smell that is such a fond memory.

Up from there to Osage Beach, Missouri to rondaveu with Stephan's parents for a few days of exploring and fishing. We stayed as long as we could with them, eating lunch at Peckers with the early family, and headed out... which meant 24 hours in the car, stopping only a few times. Once, in Grand Island, Nebraska to visit Henry, but that was at 11:30pm. I don't remember much of that. The ride home was brutal, and left my brain scrambled. But last night we slept well (in air conditioning, since it had been almost 100 degrees during the day) and today we were both back at work.

I didn't take any photos. Sorry.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Re: The Zombies

We're home! We're exhausted! We're homesick! It's almost 100 degrees here again today, so we've got the air conditioner doing its best to cool things off as we take stock of the damage that leaving in a hurry for 7 days caused. There's food in the sink, poop in the litter box, and dirty clothes everywhere. It's the post-vacation denouement.

We have some photos and some stories, including the mini-golf episode and book on tape that prompted the zombie comment. I promise more posting soon!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

We'd be in trouble if we were being chased by a hoard of killer zombies.

We would be.

Missouri is great. We've had some really wonderful vacation days. We've rested, we've visited, we've driven. I'll write more later- the speed of the internet at the Super 8 is a little slow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Busy Busy!

The ER was so busy this morning, they didn't have time for stitch-removal. So I left and got things together for this latest car trip halfway across the country. This time it's 18 hours to Missouri. I've got a few more books on tape, and my next stop is out to the grocery store for caffeine!


So, I mowed the lawn and took the stitches out myself! I'm kinda proud, kinda woozy, kinda itchy. I don't know what the internet situation will be for the next week. Sorry if you miss us! We'll be back with even more summer in Montana news soon!