Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Sucker

You all know how different our world would be without the 'girls' and the cats. Each of the 4 animals we have now, and any future animals we ever adopt, will always be rescued animals. Although we didn't get the girls from IDR+ (Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus), we love this organization, and support it wholeheartedly.

I got this video this morning, and I watched it, and it made me happy.

Be happy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One Year Ago Today

The 40 Miles South of Nowhere Blog was born.

Hard to Explain

Last night was cold. By all accounts, the air temperature was somewhere near -17F, with West winds up to 30 mph, leaving the wind chill at somewhere around -70F. The car was safely in the garage (still no block heater, but getting it out of the wind definitely helps). At about 12:30am, Stephan got up to start the car, just for reassurance. He had a hard time getting back to sleep, and was just barely there when he heard a strange noise. He thought about it for a minute, then realized that the power was going on and off.

The noise was the woman's voice on our answering machine prompting us to reset the date and time. He made sure the water was still running in the faucets, which is wasn't. The town water pump is on a generator, which must not have kicked in last night. I'm not positive of the story there, but there wasn't water coming through the pipes.

We got all the animals buried under, around, and above the AMAZING down comforter that Aunt Florentine gave us last winter. That may have saved us last night, with how drafty our house is. I was too panicked to sleep, and just kept thinking about the many ways that things could go wrong.

This morning, about 4am, the power came back on. Stephan was back to work by 5am, and I had 3/4 clients cancel on me due to the cold, and other trials. When I came home early at 3pm, the temperature was still less than -11F, with 5-10 mph wind. I checked all the faucets, all were good. I tried to start the laundry, but... no water. The small plastic hose that runs along the basement wall had frozen.

Melanie, if Aunt Florentine's comforter saved our lives last night, the space heater you gave me for my birthday many years ago may have saved our house. I immediately set the heater up next to the frozen pipes, and within 60 minutes, had a load of laundry spinning happily.

I'm trying not to let this get me down. Tonight's temperatures and wind are supposed to be the same as last night. Hopefully we won't lose power. I'll be home all day tomorrow to monitor pipes, water, etc... but I am seriously running out of clothes to wash!

Monday, January 28, 2008

W. T. F.

Through a really weird twist, the room I sit in to blog has become the warmest room in the house, due to the wind coming solely in from the West. Our bathroom medicine cabinet is recessed into the Westward wall, and the toothpaste has frozen. We're beginning to doubt that any insulation exists inside the plaster walls.

Our solution?


"Why's the rum gone?"

What's that from? Name it first and I'll send you a prize.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Oh the Promises I Break

I can't get Stephan to sit down long enough to tell me about the cattle drive again. But something more pressing is on my mind this morning.

Since we moved, we haven't had TV. We have a TV, but there is no cable, or directTV or Comcast, blah blah blah. The only option for those of us who live in Plevna is to have a satellite dish. This isn't a challenge, as there are three of them in various states of disrepair attached to the back of the house. There's also a very conveniently located co-ax box right behind the TV.

How do we survive? We watch movies. Lots of them. Every day. We also have a stash of about 18 that fill-in while we wait for the mail, but by now we have memorized all of them (Which is a real challenge considering one is a badly dubbed early 1980's Jackie Chan flick). For sporting events we have The Plevna Bar. We've even rented TV series like The Office and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Then, there's the internet. I've downloaded a few shows from iTunes, I often watch YouTube and now What Kind of World Do You Want...

Here's what worries me:

(It won't embed for some reason, so click HERE.)

Why are the people who want to run the country acting like movie stars? If you have time to think of funny jokes, you have time to figure out Universal Health Care. I saw Hillary on the Tyra Banks Show, and I started barking at the screen. I don't want to know how they match color coordinated separates to create flirty spring looks. Grrrr. Ending now before the barking begins again.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Best Intentions

Stephan had two crazy-adventurous days Tuesday and Wednesday, but I'm waiting for him to get home (9:35pm) from work so I can quote him.

They involve a cattle drive, coffee, and a four-wheeler. How's that for a teaser!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What I'm Staring at Tonight

1. an external hard drive that thinks it's my laptop
2. my laptop with a new hard drive in it, with no Operating System installed
3. the MacMini, our home computer

I need to Clone the external drive (#1) onto the laptop (#2). I have Carbon Copy Cloner installed on the external drive (#1).

Barriers to success: the MacMini only has one Fire Wire port & I only have one Fire Wire cable. The closest second cable is a 180 mile drive to Billings, or a 5 day UPS delivery charge.

It feels like the stupid brain teaser about the goats and the wolves and the chickens that need to be transported to an island on a boat.

Uncle John, please email me... I think I need assistance.

Alternative "Therapy"

I've talked about YouTube here- that it sucks hours away from my week, and helps me relax and zone out the way TV would if we sprung for a satellite dish. Well, here's my plug for another video website that actually raises money for amazing charities:

What Kind of World Do You Want?

A few different organizations have pledged up to $1.00 per viewing of each video on the website. I looked all through the site, and doesn't even have anything bad to say about it.

Waste Time. Raise Money. Care More.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Like Olive-Fingers, but Colder

So, it's been freezing here for about a week. Literally- freezing. I know the midwest is getting all this cold air right now, but I swear we warmed it up for you. We're looking at -1 or -10 at night, with a Northwest wind 5-15 miles per hour. That's not a lot of wind for our area, but when I look out my back door, toward the Northwest... all I see is Canada. There's nothing stopping that North Pole air.

Thanks a lot Santa.

Due to the position of our 'office' in the house (it's essentially a wood-paneled front porch with nothing but concrete below it) the room I sit in to blog is about 50 F. I'm wearing two sweaters, two pairs of socks, and shoes. I can't feel my toes.

I say again, "It does not get this cold in Chicago."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Aw Jeeze!

As if I needed something else to capture my short internet attention span, my brother and his gf directed me to Yelp. It's a website where you can post reviews of restaurants, live shows, bars, doctors, plumbers, mortgage companies, etc. etc. If there's a business listing for it, you can review it.

So, I start small and review The Plevna Bar. Then I remember that I ate lunch at Getim Here that afternoon. Sure enough, I'm slowly filling in my opinion on all things Baker and Plevna. I even added Anjali, LLC, the business I started to run my massage company through. Check it out- it's a fun time. I LOVE reading what other people think of my favorite places to eat.

And be sure to check out Jim G. and Colleen C. from Chicago. They're the bestest.

[End of shameless plug for my brother's girlfriend's new employers]

Friday, January 18, 2008

Montana Weather Tip #6

When your neighbor comes over and politely asks if you really plan to park the car outside tonight, it's time to get a block heater.

I had to look this one up. Apparently, in 1946, a man from North Dakota (NoDak) named Andrew Freeman invented a device that keeps the engine block of a car from freezing when the temperatures get too cold. The plug feeds through the front grill, and is attached to regular AC power. It will keep the battery and oil from freezing.

Sometimes, when people learn that we moved here from Chicago they say, "oh, then you're used to the cold." It doesn't get that cold in Chicago people. Not, plug-your-car-in-for-the-night cold. Not, the-oil-in-your-vehicle-could-freeze-tonight cold. Not, honey-could-you-help-me-with-this-fishing-hut-but-first-put-on-three-more-pairs-of-pants cold.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

DIY Montana-style

As I type this: some meat and bean thing is simmering on the stove; the dogs are frolicking in the 5" of snow that fell in the last 12 hours, the cats are sleeping on the heating vents, and Stephan is in the garage with a buddy.

They are (and I can't even type this without both rolling my eyes and sighing heavily) putting together a "fishing hut" with a hand-me-down canvas tent his buddy picked up and about $60 worth of PVC piping. My brain doesn't even know what to do with this. They want to go ice fishing. In welding class (which is going very well) he is going to acquire a 50 gallon drum and create a wood burning stove.

Today I explained to him the dangers of eating fish caught in waters so close to where petroleum products are being mined. He just told me that, "we're not going to eat the fish. Just catch and release."

Still rolling my eyes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Me: We should get some full-spectrum light bulbs.

Him: Why?

Me: Well, you know in the winter I get a little more, um, emotionally dynamic.

Him: Good phrase.

For Sale

copied from this week's "The Finder", a local advertising paper that has more pages than our weekly county/city newspaper:

For Sale: Butcher Hog, can deliver to area processors. Call Jim.

Pasture Needed: For spayed heifers, next summer. Call...

Wanted: 150-160 bred cows on shares, 70-30 Now. Call...

For Sale:Railroad ties. Call...

For Sale:325 Duall Loader with grapple 7' bucket. Call...

Found: White cat with red collar. Call...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Not really worth posting but....

I put some (only, like 5) new photos on the Flickr site. Since the laptop is still unused (I got the new hard drive in the mail, but am too scared yet to install it), I haven't posted many photos. But I will soon. I promise.

Um, kinda unexpected...

Me: Hi honey, I'm home!

Him: I'm in the basement doing laundry. The towels I used to dry the dogs are in the dryer.

Me: Dry the dogs?

Him: I gave them a bath.

Me: We don't have a hose outside. Um, or a bathtub.

Him: I washed them in the shower.

Me: ...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"I'm just saying..."

Not complaining, merely noticing...

The road between Baker and Plevna is 13 miles long, without a single street light. Often, in warmer weather (35F+), herds of deer, both mule deer and white-tail, feed along the highway. There are also white rabbits that have ill intentions. And owls in the morning. Sometimes foxes, pheasants, snakes, cats and coyotes.

Turning the brights on when you're driving seems reasonable. But what does not seem reasonable, at least to Stephan and me, is leaving them on until you get 50 feet away from the approaching vehicle (or "outfit"). Why do you do this, oh people of Southeastern Montana? We turn our brights off right away. Sometimes we even flash our brights at you to let you know that we're about to be blinded by your headlights. But still, you leave them on. I think my retinas are seriously being damaged.

Not complaining or making fun- just saying.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Blatant Plagiarism

I don't even know if this is legal... but we honestly have just been spending all our free time recovering from the stupid colds we got, and we're really boring right now. I may have more to write once Stephan gets back from his first welding class tonight, but for now, here's more excerpted from the 75 year history of Plevna:

"The name "Plevna" in the Russian Language means "City of Churches." Originally, the Milwaukee Railroad chose to call the new station "Edina." Many Bulgarians worked on the Milwaukee Railroad when it was built and officials of the Milwaukee approved the workers' choice of the name "Plevna." Plevna, Bulgaria, was a historical site where the Russians were engaged in a great battle with the Turks."

Monday, January 7, 2008

What we're doing now...

I don't even really know what day it is. As soon as the water problem was discovered Stephan got called in to work the night shift for two nights in a row. It feels like living backwards. Instead of picking him up from work at 6pm, I dropped him off, and instead of dropping him off at 6am, I'll be picking him up. He tells me the water thing got fixed. I'm taking his word for it.

Health-wise, we're doing much better after two days of bed-rest. We rented 8 movies and read River of Doubt about Theodore Roosevelt's trip down the river of the same name in Brazil. We've got one more day of antibiotic, but it's such a relief to actually breath through my nose again. We feel very lucky that it's not lingering too long.

In other news, more professional than anything else, I finally got the letter in the mail that tells me my application to be a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner has passed! This represents about 3 years of work, a LOT of paperwork, LOTS of research, and a fair amount of harrowing self-development. To find out more about this type of bodywork, check out the Healing Touch Program's website, and their cool new video (scroll down to see it using QuickTime).

The computer problem is on it's way to being solved thanks to some amazing friends. However, I'm still missing a lot of email addresses that were stored on the laptop. If you haven't heard from me in a while, use the account in the profile to get a hold of me. Stephanie H. and Kristen D. please email me so I can talk to you!!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Living near water has always held allure for me. The few years I lived on the lake I found serenity in the reflected light off the waves. The soft lapping instantly calmed my mind.

But water inside the house is a completely different story. Water carves canyons, bleeds through ceilings, and, now, water drips slowly through pipes in the basement, soaking drywall and allowing mold to grow up out of the concrete floor...

More to come as this new story develops.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

These are the people in your neighborhood...

"Ruth Sieler's postal career began July 1, 1946, when she accepted a position as clerk in the Plevna Post Office, a position which she did not apply for. The postmaster needed help, and she responded to his request, thinking it would be temporary at most.

"When Postmaster Herbst retired, postal officials approached and urged her to accept the position as postmaster. She was acting postmaster from December 1, 1953 until July 28, 1954 when she received her commission and has held that position until the present time.

"Since she did not apply for either position, Ruth feels that God Himself placed her here, and therefore she is making no plans for retirement, although she is eligible."

from "Plevna Montana: 1909-1984" published by the Fallon County Times in 1984

I met Ruth last week at the post office. She showed me the plaque and certificate she received a year and a half ago for serving the US Postal Service for 60 years. She also showed me a 100 year old ball of string. The current post office building was built in 1965.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Are those lighthouses up ahead?

No, the dueling foghorns you're hearing are just Stephan and I trying to have a conversation through snorkels at 10 fathoms. We've tried Dayquil, Claritin, Nyquil, and Sudafed. Stephan is claiming that someone left immune-boosting juice for us at the hospital, so perhaps that'll be tomorrow's experiment.

Why aren't we skipping ahead to antibiotics? The answer lies somewhere between testosterone and pure, unadulterated Capricorn.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New... Loogie?

We're sick. Stephan's coughing up stuff, and I'm just starting to feel the pain of this cold that we'd both thought I was immune to. We were in bed by 11pm on New Years Eve. Thanks to everyone who called at midnight. Sorry we turned off the phones. More later.