Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I'll get to the calf in a minute. This morning, after a short nap, Stephan called the Illinois Department of Big Jerks Who Could Really Care Less About Your Question (and that's putting it nicely) and found out that the person who told me that his license would be processed in 2-4 days was fired. She was fired because she was wrong. There is no way, no amount of money, or urgency, that will get the Illinois Board to process a license faster than 4-6 weeks.

Then, we tried just applying for licensing in Montana (Montana, where you can be a licensed "Wrestler"). They need Stephan's test score sent over... from the Illinois Board, which apparently 'owns' the score once the testing center gives it to them. The testing center claims to not even have the score anymore. And quess what? The Illinois Department of Kiss My Butt will, under no circumstances, release that information to anyone. Ever.

Then, just for fun, I went with Laurie to see the house we're "moving into" tomorrow. Turns out that the previous tenant physically tore the washing machine from the wall and water supply, thus breaking the water line in a way that required the water supply to the house to be turned off. And then the pipe leaked. There's not much damage, but there is no water. Laurie's husband can fix it tonight if (seriously, I'm not making this up) the two cows he's watching give birth their calves by then.

Stephan promises that I will look back at today and laugh at everything that's happening. Once we figure out how to pay back his student loans without the scholarship, once we start moving into the house we've bought, once I've set up my corporation and get back to work, I will think that the birth of a calf being responsible for the water condition of our house is hysterical.

I'm not there yet. Not even close. After I dropped Stephan off at work (an hour early because they were short-staffed all day due to the snow storm) I sat on the couch. Elysium crawled up to me, wearing nothing but a diaper, and sat in my lap. She pulled a blanket over the two of us, and we watched Sponge Bob together. For 30 minutes there was nothing more important in the world than whether or not Patrick Star was going to get a driver's license and win a boat-mobile.

Trivia: What is the only North American gem to be included in the Crown Jewels of England?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

FAQ: Does Stephan have a sense of humor about being a male nurse?

Answer: no. He asked me to take down the Male Nurse photo. I figured I could leave it up if I made it more fair.

He got home this morning (Tuesday) at about 7:45 and went straight to bed. He slept until 3pm, when he ate, made a few phone calls about his student loans, and left for work. I stopped by just now to bring him 'lunch' and he asked if he could come home with me. He has about 6 hours left, but he said they haven't gotten a chance to sit down yet! It's a busy night. They had one ER patient when I was there, and with the snow coming down in blankets, they may have a few more before the night is over.

He was upbeat about it, though. I could see he was tired, but I also know that the excitement keeps him going. I would feel more sympathy if things were boring and he wanted to leave. Last night we talked a bit about a patient he has who may die soon. That will be something new for him. He seemed a little cautious about spending time with her, but it's his favorite part of the job. I know he sits with patients, talks to them whenever he can, and really takes time to make sure all their needs are being met. Beyond just temperature and physical comfort- he holds their hands. Kayle says he has a way with the older women. I don't doubt that. I think he has a way with everyone he meets.

Even though I miss him tonight, I know he's with people who need him. As important as he is to folks, I don't mind sharing at all.

Trivia: What is the ratio of cows to humans (or humans to cows) in the state of Montana?

Monday, February 26, 2007

It's Tuesday in Chicago

That's how I'm justifying another post today. Stephan is working, almost half way through his shift. While I was looking for a good picture, I came across the Emergency Nursing World Website. I started to look through it, but realized that my love of nursing had not hit this level yet.

If you want to read articles about what it's like to be Stephan, and see the issues he's dealing with, and learn how to survive the night shift, please click on the link above.

If you're like me, and are very tired because you've spent 24 hours helping your partner learn how to survive the night shift... then please, call me. Because I can't sleep.


I figured that I might as well post something, since I've been sitting in front of the compter most of the day, refreshing the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation License Look-up page constantly. I've been wanting to post about two things for a while- one is the old, "if I could have changed anything about this move, what would I change?" The answer to that one is simple- I would have packed more. I would have been just slightly more prepared. I would have carried more than 5 days of underware with me, more comfort items, like pillows and conditioner. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be too prepared. As my mom has always pointed out, the only kid who's mom brought an extra set of clothes to the zoo is the only kid who falls in the goat pond.

Which brings me to my second thought. My Dad used to tell us stories as kids, right before bedtime. One of these stories, and it's one of my favorites, was "Super Goldilocks." Never heard of it? Well, it's Goldilocks, but instead of coming upon a clean house and messing it up, she comes upon a messy house and cleans it until it shines. Why have I been thinking about this? Because for the last 3 weeks I've been completely unable to sit still. I've done laundry as soon as it was dirty, reorganized the cupboard upstairs in the kitchen, cleaned our bathroom every few days, and organized, and reorganized our pile of bills/important papers/things to do. Somewhere in my little impressionable head, Super Goldilocks became an idol. If you see something that needs to be done, go ahead and do it.

I really hope this hasn't annoyed our guests too much. But I do think it's about time for me find a job.

Trivia: For many years, outside the Prairie Schooner Restaurant located in which Montana town, were tourists entertained by two 12-foot tall oxen statues that would 'urinate' whenever someone in the restaurant turned the secret handle?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Countdown to Plevna: 4 Days

Yesterday we drove out to Miles City again, this time, to buy paint! We're really getting geared up to move into the house at the end of this week. We also bought bug bombs, and some groceries. The trip out was nice. Since Stephan worked all night Friday, he slept on the way there. We stopped for coffee on the way back, and bought a bluegrass CD.

Stephan is working nights this week- Monday night, Tuesday night and Wednesday night. He gets there at 5:45pm, and leaves at about 6:15 in the morning. During those hours the PCP (primary care practitioner, like the MD, nurse practitioner or the physician's assistant) is on-call, not actually in the building. So all the meds, ER visits, or new patients are taken care of by the RN's. They decide whether a problem warrents waking up the PCP's or not- they deal with everything they can before making that phone call.

At the end of this week, Stephan will be on his own! We've been working really hard to get his license taken care of. We have his finished application already sent to the State of Illinois, with a priority overnight envelope so hopefully they will get the license back to us promptly. Once he is issued a license number, it will appear on the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation's website. We can take that number and apply for a "verification of license" to be sent from Illinois, to Montana as rapidly as possible. Hopefully the license number will be a reality by Tuesday, then we can overnight the verification request, and that will hopefully arrive back at the State of Montana by ... let's say ... a week from Monday. They will have the Montana license number by Tuesday, giving Stephan the title of RN in Montana!

The second issue we're dealing with at the moment is the scholarship application. The US Department of Health and Human Services has a Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program that Stephan qualifies for. Their deadline for the 2007 application is March 9th. What is required for this? Well, a Montana RN license for one. A list of all of Stephan's loans for two. A two-year commitment to work at a qualifying facility for three.

Do we have all these things? Will we by March 9th?

Stay tuned to find out!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Countdown to Plevna: 6 Days

Yesterday Stephan and I were looking through a suitcase for nice clothes so we could go out to a fancy place for dinner. We were in a bit of a rush, trying to get a few things done yesterday, with signing house papers, some other errands around town related to actually being Montana residents, when Stephan found his full-sized Polish flag. He immediately draped himself in it and ran upstairs to show Matt, Kayle, and the kids his "cape" and to suggest that he wear the flag to dinner.

And I said, "There are about 10 things you could be doing that are more productive than strutting around in a Polish flag." He couldn't argue with me, so, after making me take a picture of him, he took it off and continued to get dressed.

The dinner was quite good at The Tavern. Luckily we were the only people in there, so Elysium's games of hide-and-seek were uninterrupted. It was a true Atkins meal, steaks, ribs, some salad, and "Pepper Pot" Soup. We'd never heard of it, so when we asked what was in it (remember, this is the fanciest restaurant in town) the server told us, "hamburger meat, some rice, and some peppers." I thought it was funny. Maybe you had to be there.

Stephan got his first paycheck this morning, so we had a very exciting time going to the bank to make an actual deposit. This was also the first real evidence we have that we live in Montana!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Don't Drink the Water

Seriously, we were cautioned when we arrived in Boliv... I mean, Baker, not to drink the tap water. I was a little offended, having drank well-water at my parents' house since I was 12. But when I tasted this water, is was just bad. It was salty. Even if you're boiling the water for tea or coffee, the salt taste is always there. Then we learned that there is also a high calcium component to this water, leading to increased incidence of kidney stones in the local population. Well, I've never had a kidney stone, but from what I hear, I don't think I want one now either.

The water here is also very soft. I can't tell if this is a location-specific fact, or a town-wide fact. But, even more than anywhere in the Chicagoland area, this water is very slippery and gooey. It took a few showers to get used to this feeling. And even now, my hair is just not the same.

This morning I borrowed a hair dryer in hopes of accomplishing some sort of style. But what happened was an odd sort of dread-lock effect due to the heat and the salt. It's "Bob Marley meets the Cowardly Lion." As I complained to Stephan of this today he looked at me straight in the eyes and said:

"It's all going to turn grey one day anyway..."

He saw my quickly saddening face and added:

"And I'll love you even more."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Countdown to Plevna: 9 Days

Here is a photo I took from the car last week as we were driving out to Miles City. It gets a lot more interesting the further West you drive out of town. It's 40F today, the snow is melting, and things are much less dramatic on the horizon.

Stephan is working today, and I was trying to get things done (figure out how he can get his RN legal in Montana, how I can get a license in MT, more paperwork for the house, and I baked cookies). I HATE it when I mix up baking powder with baking soda. I think I used baking soda in the cookies because they all turned out flat and crispy. I shouldn't be allowed to use ovens.

I called the Montana School of Massage Therapy and asked if they knew what the process was to get an MT license here...

Man: Uh, like, a license?
Me: Yes. A license for a Massage Therapist.
Man: Are you nationally licensed?
Me: Yes, and I'm licensed in the State of Illinois. But I want to be licensed in Montana.
Man: Wow, that's a lot more than any of us have. Good job.
Me: So how do I get a Montana license?
Man: We don't license Massage Therapists in this state. You just- uh- go to school and then do it.
Me: ... Really?!
Man: Yeah.
Me: ... Oh. Well, thanks!

I feel two ways about this. 1. Check out the State of Montana Department of Professional Licensing and look down the list of professions they regulate. "Wrestling" is listed, as well as "Euthanasia Technician." I'm seriously not going to ask. But I am glad that I don't need to pay anyone any money, or fill out annoying paperwork.

2. I feel that strict LMT requirements are a good thing- it helps define the profession as something... um... professional. I'm a little worried about how well massage is respected in this state. I suppose I'll find out soon enough. The Physical Therapist and I spoke at length today and we agreed that it would be a good thing if I rented a room out at the hospital. Cool. There's some professionalism! We'll see how things turn out with that. I'm kinda excited to have my own place.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Countdown to Plevna: 10 Days

Here in Baker, Montana, we don't tolerate ANY loafing! Especially not in front of the Seneco gas station.

Today was another standard day. More errands, some shopping for upcoming birthdays, some questions about insuring our car and future house, and then the dinner-making. By the way, I don't recommend wheat-pasta. We tried it tonight, and it just wasn't the same. We did get to tour the cooler in the flower shop. That was amazing, and smelled wonderful! We chatted with the woman behind the counter at the Lawler Drug and Hallmark. I can't remember her name for the life of me, but she really wants us to visit the Old West Town up in Medora, North Dakota. We left there with about a dozen tourism brochures for the entire area... Apparently there's a full skeleton of a dinosaur just 20 miles South in Ekalaka.

No one guessed the trivia from yesterday, the answer is Ismay, population 26, about 18 miles West of Baker.

Trivia: How many dead grasshoppers (in a jar on display at the O'Fallon Historical Museum in Baker) were removed from a single bundle of rye in the bad locust year of 1938?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Overheard: In the Basement

He said: What's wrong?

I said: Today just isn't going the way I thought it would.

He said: Aren't you used to that yet?

Yesterday Stephan had food poisoning and was sent home from work. He spent the day in bed, mostly sleeping, with the garbage next to him. We had another amazing meal with Matt and Kayle. We watched "An Inconvenient Truth", and saved the dessert for later this week. Stephan and I had a room paid for at the Sagebrush so we spent the night over there- it's really nice and clean and comfortable. They have little fridges and microwaves in each room, so if you're coming to visit, bring snacks!

This morning we made a big breakfast, and took the dogs for a long walk while the weather was warm. We're up to 40F today!! Everything is melting! This is the first time since we've been here that we can actually see the asphault on the road!

Trivia (prizes for the winner): A railroad man wanted to name a small town in the eastern part of the state after his daughters, Mary and Isabelle, resulting in which town? (hint: with a population of 26, it is the smallest incorporated town in the state)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Overheard: Well, Over-seen really

This photo came from the Wrangler web site. The Product they are selling is called the, "Wrangler 13MWZ
Official Pro-Rodeo Competition Jean." You might look at this and think, wow, what a neat old photo. I wonder where she found it?

Oh, no- this is a current product for sale. We have seen people in town, at bars, around the store, wearing this very outfit. It's not just for competition anymore!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Countdown to Plevna: 13 Days

Today we got a package from Aunt Florentine! I was worried, since she's known for sending animals she's found, in various states of alive-ness. But it was such a sweet package! Lots of hot chocolate, lots of very warm things to wear, and the sweetest note! It's a little funny to get warm-weather clothes from someone who lives in Florida.

Updating this weekend may be spotty, just so you know.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

FAQ: How do I comment on your site?

So look at the bottom of this post, you should see that first set of information: Click where it tells you how many comments have been made to this post. That should show you all the comments, and look like the second picture up there. Type some stuff that's funny or nice, and select "Other" (I'm figuring that if you have to ask this question, you don't already have a BLOG identity, and I HATE anonymous comments, so just click "Other"). Hit, "Publish your comments" and it should pause for a moment, then tell you that you've commented!

Practice this now, I'll delete this post later so no one can see what sillyness we've all been up to.

Go ahead, post. I won't tell anyone.

Countdown to Plevna: 14 Days

Yesterday we spent our first Montana Valentines Day in Miles City by ourselves. We had an amazing lunch at the 600 Cafe, with the best apple pie either of us had ever tasted. I can't quite talk about the hot turkey sandwhich I had, that was covered in butter and gravy, yet. It's still too close to digestion. But we checked out the movie theater there. Every day of the week they play a movie at 6:30pm. Sometimes if it's a short movie, they will replay it at 9pm, and sometimes the movie will start at 5:30 instead of 6:30. But every day of the week they play a movie.

We also stopped in at a little bookstore. Stephan has the card with him, I'll edit this later to include the name of those nice folks. They have an open mic night every Friday at 8pm. And, as the owner said, "sometimes it's even good!" As we walked out of there, and down the one main street in Miles City, Stephan squeezed my hand and asked, "Have you ever had a Valentine's Day like this one before?" and I answered, "Baby, I've never had a Wednesday like this one before."

Before we left town we stopped at the Walmart to stock up on a few things we can't get in Baker, low-cal Apple Juice, swimming goggles, Dr. Pepper in cans, dog bones for the kids... We passed the card aisle and stopped briefly. We both picked out cute Valentine's Day cards and showed them to each other. We smiled, laughed, hugged, and put them back. It's so nice to share economic values with your partner.

AND (wow, I hope you haven't fallen asleep yet) Stephan received a package [finally] from his sister with all new scrubs! He was so excited, and so was I, and I think the other hospital staff was excited to see him in something other than the Bears Scrubs I bought him last Christmas. I think they were worried that he was a little loopy. But, Kathy, THANK YOU. Opening a box from home means a lot to Stephan, and I know it reminds him of a time when boxes and cards supplemented his once-a-month phone calls. He did get kinda quiet for a while, which I think means he misses his family. I don't want to be too much of a downer (thanks, Melanie), so I'll just say, thanks, again to everyone out there who we know is supporting us and loving us from so far away.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Baker: Day 17

I tried to find a funny graphic to talk about being homeless, but after searching through Google Image Search, discovered there's nothing funny about being homeless. And it reminded me how good we have it out here. I was going to write how hard it is to get things like driver's licenses and to cancel our old cell-phone accounts while we're still staying with generous friends, but, wow. How self-centered is that?

We've been hearing about the tragically cold temperatures back in Chicago, and we think often about our friends at the DePaul Nursing Services Clinic. Those men (and some women) are truly homeless. So many of them have amazing smiles, amazing stories, and amazing lives. Some have found shelters, some are working hard to get into a shelter, and some have miraculously figured out how to make life on the street work for them.

Us? We're not really homeless. We're staying in a warm, comfortable, very caring home of two very good, kind and generous friends. We are in a city full of warmth and friendliness, putting in an honest day's work (at least Stephan is) for a very generous wage. We are so lucky, and until I looked through the photos of homeless men, women, and families, I had forgotten that. I'm embarrassed about some of the whining I've done.

So, if you can, find some old coats, hats and blankets, and give them to your local shelter. If you can't find a shelter, let me know and I will put you in contact with our friends who need help.

Stephan says to stop preaching. Stay warm!!

FAQ: How are the Puppies doing?

Second to, "How does Stephan like working at the hospital" is concern over the dogs, and how they are dealing with the "cold". Well, firstly, it's actually been quite warm here, with temperatures ranging from 30F to -9F, so things are about average for February in the Northern US. BUT, the girls don't seem to even notice the cold. They love playing in the snow, digging for sticks, rolling around on the ground, eating frozen poop-cicles...

Actually, a really weird behavior has started along with the discovery of snow. Whenever they get out there, it's like someone has told them that buried deep under the cold, wet stuff, is a treasure, and the first one to unearth the treasure gets table-scraps for life! They dig their noses into the snow and sniff and dig until the entire yard has been turned over every morning. I don't think they've found treasure yet, unless, to a dog, frozen poop is a treasure beyond human understanding.

I've also finally uploaded a photo of the chicken coop in Plevna. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Overheard: In the Car

Often, when I see photos of Stephan in Bolivia, Africa, Alaska, or Haiti, I wish I could have been with him to be a part of the wild and crazy adventure. He looks so exotic in all those photos, with long hair, messy hair, gaunt features, etc. But the other day while we were driving out to Plevna, I turned to him and said, "You know, we don't have funny hair cuts, but moving to Montana with no place to live for 4 weeks is kind of an adventure, huh?"


And he said, "You don't think you have a funny haircut?"

Monday, February 12, 2007

Last man standing

This is Stephan making a guest appearance on the blog because everyone else in our house has fallen victim to a belly bug. As Matt. Kayle, Anna, and the kids have spent the last three days praying to the porcelain alter, I have been enjoying all the yummy food that the fridge holds. I wouldn't want any of it to spoil! Anyways, I am actually just waiting my turn and enjoying tasting my food only once.
Lets see, all the news that's fit to print...
I have an in service training tomorow that doesn't start until 8A, so I get to sleep in from my normal starting time (5:45A). We found out today that if all goes well, we'll close on April 1st on the little house in Plevna. So that's cool. We'll be neighbors with the chief of the volunteer fire fighters, so I'll give that a whirl before too long. Also, Anna and I have been invited to catsrate and brand cattle this May. Should be interesting. I hope Anna doesn't mistake me for a bull! Anyways, we got about 5 more inches of snow today and the temp is hovering around 5F.
That is a snapshot.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

No Update Today

Turns out the 'laziness' I experienced was just a run-up to me catching some type of flu. Stephan helped me out a ton, and i'm getting addicted to The Social Crime Radio Network, since they play stand-up comedy 24 hours a day.

If you're looking for more photos of Baker, Plevna, or us, check out our Flickr site.

Baker: Day 11

Could YOU say 'no' to that face? I have a hard time.

Really, I have no new news today. We slept late, stopped at the grocery store, came back and watched some TV. Stephan is working tonight, his first experience with the overnight shift. He's still loving this new job.

There are things I haven't written about yet- mostly about how much we miss our family, how hard it is to still feel like we're on vacation instead of in the middle of relocating, how weird it is to still have everything in boxes, to live with people, in their basement, for two weeks. And it's so weird for me to not be working. Like Matt said today, "It's a great day to be unemployed." Neither of us is used to living like this yet. And, really, we're ready to move on. But it's not time yet.

I feel lazy. But Stephan keeps saying this is what relaxation is. The dogs are good at it. I should spend more time with them.

Friday, February 9, 2007


Okay. Wow. Okay. We spent yesterday between the credit union, the county offices, the credit union, and home, with a stop in Wiboux for a great lunch. We were holding our breath to see what a qualified professional would find wrong with the house. BUT he didn't find anything major! He gave us some suggestions on how to fix the leaning garage, along with a clean bill of health for the house. Laurie is getting a contract together, and we may move in as soon as two weeks from now!! (Assuming her nephew can move out that fast)

This morning, while we were holding our breath, we travelled out to Medicine Rocks, AND the Fallon County museum, the home of the World's Largest [Stuffed] Steer! Actually, the museum is the subject of a whole nother post. Look for it early next week.

In the meantime, check out the Flickr site for more photos of the house, the garage, and chicken coop!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Baker: Day 10

As if Baker wasn't small enough... turns out one of the nicest houses we've seen is located in Plevna, population: 131. The house is SO cute! Perfect size, perfect condition (with room for customization), big plot of land, one car garage, dog-run, and of course a chicken coop! We're going to the bank today to check on financing. Wish us luck!

I promise to post actual photos I've taken once I find the camera cable- but that still might be a while since everything is so packed into the garage. I did manage to find my basket of lotions and hair ointments, so at least I'm on my way back to shiny hair. Stephan is thrilled.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Baker: Day 9

Today I did some research on Baker and the surrounding areas. Check out the new links to the left, and the link to information about Medicine Rocks.

The most popular question I've been asked, by people in Chicago, Montana, and beyond, is, "What brought you to Baker?" So, here's the answer:

Stephan and I knew there were opportunities for him to get his student loans repaid (at least partially) by working for Native Americans, or in rural communities where health care workers were hard to come by. In the midst of this research Stephan's roommate from Alaska, Matt Prince, emailed him about their impending move to a small town in Montana where his wife, Kayle, would be working as a Nurse Practitioner in their medical center.

A few months later Stephan emailed Matt and Kayle, asking if they were looking for nurses there, and if they liked the town. We came to visit in December, and immeditely fell in love with the town, the people, the area, and the idea of living a little more slowly and inexpensively than we had been in Chicago. So, from the middle of December to today the journey has been a little crazy, but a beautiful adventure nonetheless.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Baker: Day 8

So you want to know how my first two days at work went?

My orientation will last roughly a month, and I will be working with Peggy. She has over 25 years of experience, is very nice, and can handle just about any medical situation. Between the medical/surgical patients and the ER I'm a bit overwhelmed at all the possibilities. I'm on call three nights a week, which means that I must be in Baker, and sober, in case anything major happens. If anyone is really bad I may have to ride in an ambulance with a doctor the 4 1/2 hours to Billings with the critically ill patient.

Next week we get to practice for a large scale chemical contamination emergency in which the entire hospital will practice its disaster response and I will learn to triage patients during a disaster.

Everyone has been really nice and helpful in getting me orientated, and I hope to report soon getting my head out of my butt.

Fallon Medical Complex (FMC)

Here is some information about Stephan's new employer:

Fallon Medical Complex (FMC) is the sole community health care provider for a rural population in excess of 7,200 people spread over seven counties in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Considered "frontier" by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, this region has less than two residents per square mile. FMC is a nonprofit corporation providing primary care, emergent care, and long-term care to its service area.

It is comprised of a Rural Health Clinic (RHCC) staffed by two physicians and one physician's assistant, a 25-bed critical access hospital offering outpatient surgery on a monthly basis, a 27-bed skilled nursing home and rehabilitation center, and a home care department offering personal care services under a Medicaid waiver program as well as skilled care services under the Visiting Nurse Services program through the RHC. FMC's diagnostic services include a CLIA-certified lab, an ACR-certified mammography unit, CT, x-ray, ultrasound, teleradiology and mobile MRI.

Patient care services include cardiac rehabilitation, chemotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, nutritional therapy, dental services, and an outreach clinic offered once a week in neighboring Wibaux, Montana. FMC's in-house services are augmented by routine visits from traveling physicians specializing in general surgery, ophthalmology, pathology, podiatry radiology, and urology.

Common Phrases

"Call my cell phone. The number is 3265."

"Leave the car running, we'll only be in here for half an hour."

"Guess what type of music is in THIS juke box?"

"That will totally slow down the pace of our day."

"You must be the new nurse and his wife. Have you found a house yet?"

"That house has been sold already."

"It sure is fresh outside today."

"That street? Well, that street doesn't have a name, just turn right when you get to it."

"Oh, there's no address on the house, it's just the one on the corner."

Baker: Day 7

Sunday was Stephan's first day at work. He seems to like it a lot. It took him a few hours to get his "nurse" hat back on, but once he did, I think he was fine. The medical center can accomodate up to 8 in-patients at a time. Yesterday they had 4. It seems like such a small number, but, as Stephan said, when you realize you're THE nurse for those 4-8 people, and you have to keep track of their medications, their needs, their schedules... it's a lot to juggle. He's working with a very experienced nurse named Peggy. She is the only other staff nurse here in Baker, the rest are all contract nurses. When Stephan is comfortable with everything, he and Peggy will alternate days on and off.

We're not talking about that game... the one with the oblong ball played on a 100 yard field. Let's just not go there.

Nothing new on the house front. The plan seems to be to move into a small rental we looked at last week until something comes up for sale, or spring thaws out the "sewage-house." With Stephan's extensive knowledge of sewers, replacing the line shouldn't be too tough, if that's what needs to happen.

Matt and Kayle continue to be blessings to us- opening up their home and lives to us. We are very lucky to have them here.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Baker: Day 6... 80 miles West

We spent a good amount of the day in Miles City- the closest "metropolis" with all of 8,487 people! There's a Wallmart, Albertsons, Wendy's, Taco John's (no Bell though, much to Stephan's dismay), and a few other nice amenities (a movie theatre playing second-run movies). We stopped at Pizza Hut and a coffee place, then a trip to Wallmart. The moon is out tonight, and is huge and beautiful.

In housing news, we looked at the $32,000 "fixer upper" here in Baker. Not too shabby. Actually, the first floor was amazing! Great shape, huge kitchen and living room, with a dining room AND a large windowed front porch. There's a bathroom on that floor with the washer and dryer right in it.

The catch (here, there is always a catch) is... major sewer problems in the basement. In fact, we were really glad for the cold weather, as we were slipping on frozen sewage walking through the downstairs. There are 2 bedrooms, one bathroom, and a workshop in the basement- all very good sized. BUT there is the sewage problem.

There was that moment when we looked at each other and said, "Hey, this isn't that bad." And that's how we knew it was pretty bad. We have one more to look at this week, $15,000 in Plevna. Another "fixer upper" we've been told.

Tomorrow is Stephan's first day at the Fallon Medical Center. They are letting him come home early to watch the Bears beat the Colts. We hung a Bears flag on the fence next to our car to claim that little bit of driveway for Chicago.

Go Bears!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Baker: Day 5... Overheard in the Post Office

"At least it's better than five years ago when the snow drifts covered up all the cows."

We might get only 20" of snow per year, but apparently, it constantly redistrobutes itself daily. Every morning the car is covered with snow, eventhough it hasn't snowed since Tuesday night. Yes, it is cold. The sun is a smiley reminder that the clouds have let all the heat out of the state of Montana.

12 Miles West of 40 Miles South of Nowhere

Today we took a short tour of Plevna, Montana. There is a small house for sale there for $15,000. The town is smaller than I would have ever imagined. In 2003, the population was 131. Apparently there's a high school there, but I didn't see one.

We did see the Sand Stone thing. Which was beautiful, with views of some smaller mountains in the distance, and little picnic areas set next to the lake. It was a beautiful drive, which helped me remember why I wanted to live here. I'll have to bring my camera next time we venture out of the city. It IS big sky country for real. It felt like we were up right next to the clouds. Amazing and beautiful.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Baker: Day 4

Yesterday, after a long lunch, Stephan decided not to get a haircut, to which I replied, "oh, good. That would totally slow down the pace of our day." It was the funniest thing I'd said all week.

The house hunt continues. We looked at two houses yesterday- one to rent, and one to buy. The one to rent is nice- a little small, but definitely workable. The one to buy was huge. 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, full garage, new appliances, beautiful yard. The asking price is $75,000. There's a second house to buy in Plevna, about 12 miles West. We're going out tomorrow to see that one, and one in Marmarth, North Dakota. I think we're pretty much done going outside today- the high was -9 this morning, and that's the warmest it was going to get.

We talked about getting a unit that will heat the car's engine and oil pan when the car is parked. Yes. We have to plug in our car at night.

Last night Matt made Briskett. Wow. Amazing. I don't know exactly how he did it, but I know wood chips, brown sugar, and garlic powder. Amazing.

We found a home away from home at Thee Garage, one of the local bars. We met some really fun people there last night. And two Jack and Cokes were $7.00. We like it here.

We have new cell phones, email me if you didn't get the numbers.

As always, email and phone calls are really appreciated. We love and miss everyone.