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
Have you been outside it sure is a nice night
How about a little test drive
Down by the lake

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

'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
We can throw a blanket down
Crickets singin' in the background
And more stars than you can count on a night this clear

I tell you what we need to do is grab a sleepin' bag or two
And build us a little campfire
And then with a little luck we might just get stuck
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....


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?


Right now, get up and clean under it.



Did you do it?


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


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

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

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.


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?


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.