Thursday, December 25, 2008

We're Engaged!

Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Today in front of my parents, my brother and his girlfriend Jason got down on one knee and asked, "Will you?"

AND I SAID YES!!!

So while there aren't any pictures right now (I left the cord to my camera at home) I wanted to send a quick note out anyway to break the news and wish everyone a very happy holiday.

I'm so excited!

Cheers,
Nicole

Monday, December 1, 2008

Turkey Day!

This year Jason and I had three Thanksgivings. Two were spent in Great Falls with Jason's family and one was hosted in our house. Our good friend and roommate Dustin was on his way to India for two months and since he was always so fond of food we thought what better way to say goodbye than with a feast. We had some friends over and after more than a few rounds of charades (and a few glasses of wine) we all sat down to a beautifully prepared dinner cooked by none other than Jason and Dustin (I was conveniently working a shift at the shoe store all day--oops!). Here are some photos from that fun night:



Cheers,
Nicole

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coffee Shop Blues

At the risk of losing my mind, I have left the house. I know, I don't have any money (it's a side effect of unemployment) so what am I doing whipping out the credit card for a $3 cappuccino? It's simple: it's either small, moderate, only slightly unnecessary spending or therapy, which as we all know is way more expensive than over-priced coffee. So there. I'm justified.

When am I going to find a new job?????!!!!! I am SO not okay with uselessness. But I know I am much more lucky than some. I was listening to NPR yesterday and heard some crazy statistic that last month 516,000 people filed for unemployment for the first time in the US. All I could think was that I was one of those people. Yikes. But I still get to work the occasional shift at the shoe store so it's not like I'm without options. And the other thing is that I am not alone. I have a fabulous boyfriend, amazing parents and great friends to help me through. Not to metion that Lucy the Little Pup and Fatty Cat are great, though often-times demanding companions. So while I may be a statistic on NPR, I'm okay.

Back to it.

NC

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Okay, so maybe I'm toeing over the line here. Maybe I'm venturing into the land of the crazy pet owner by posting not only pictures but videos of my dog. Next thing you know I'll be wearing a tee-shirt that spells out "I *heart* my Chineranian" and carrying her around in a pink rhinestone studded purse. But considering that she is only three-pounds and still has a soft spot on her head, I am both proud and astonished that my itty-bitty little dog has learned to fetch!

Jason took this video last night just about the time she was catching on to the whole 'mama throws the ball and I bring it back' scenario. And yes, that is a normal tennis ball that she is carrying.

We're so proud.

Cheers,

Nicole, Jason and Little Lucy

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Undedermined

Still no job. Not yet, at least. I have been really, really lucky in that the shoe store has given me a few relief shifts here and there. It's odd how much I actually like selling shoes but I'm glad for that as well. I'll be heading in for a shift in a little bit. I'm taking a minute to get some coffee and breakfast before starting.

I left work last night and found I had a flat tire (thank you Ma and Dad for AAA Gold Card!!!!). Considering that I drive a Subaru this really sucks because if the tire can't be fixed then all four will have to be replaced. It's an all-wheel drive car so if one tire is worn differently than the rest then it will throw the differential off. It's like wearing one new and one old shoe. The guy that fixed my tire last night was a character: tall, cowboy boots, handlebar mustache and a Stetson hat. He was clearly timing himself and probably had the whole thing done in less than five minutes. Now my car and I are limping around town on a doughnut until I can get it fixed. I'm not sure how much that will cost and frankly I don't think I want to know yet.

Cheers,
NC

Thursday, November 6, 2008

An Old Nemesis...

I went for a second job interview on Tuesday. I put on a great suit, did my hair, applied a little lip gloss and *gasp* donned a pair of nylons. Such are the lengths I will go to earn a paycheck.... Anyway, I also prepared in my head a list of questions that I might be asked and then I answered them, just to practice. I recited to myself the answer to my least favorite question: "what would you say your greatest weakness is?". I came up with a list of questions I had about the company: how would I be evaluated? What is their turn over? Is the complimentary coffee in the break room from Farmers Brothers or Starbucks?

But when I got there I was led to a small room and presented with a three-page math test. Yeah. I was not prepared for this. I had gone there thinking I was going to be interviewed. Silly me.

Didn't this company believe in calculators? Didn't they see on my resume that I did in fact graduate from high school and college? Isn't that proof enough that I can do basic math? Why, I wanted to know, was I being faced with three black and white pages of potential humiliation? Screw up just one simple question that an elementary school kid could do and boom--you're done. I made some half-hearted joke that I have an English Lit degree. I smiled and pretended not to panic. I believe I even chimed "No problem!" as the woman interviewing me left the room. She left. I panicked.

I hate math! I have always hated math! Well, not always...I used to like it until I got to 4th grade. That was where I had a teacher who resembled a troll and had one hell of a case of halitosis (she could stink up a room with a single word--I kid you not). When we would grade our tests we had to call out in front of the whole class how many we got wrong. God help the kids who did poorly. With each bad mark the kids would send up a chorus of "Oooooooooo!" just so you knew that you sucked and your existence on this planet was being called into question. Ms. Troll would allow and therefore encourage the chastising. My grades suffered so my parents sent me to a nun at a freaking convent for tutoring, but she was even worse. She didn't carry a ruler, she just ate your soul.

And now here I was: grown up, wearing a suit and flipping through a math test. I had done just fine in life without this sort of thing. I grumbled, sighed, and even got a little flushed in my face. Somewhere in the back of my head I could hear Ms. Troll screaming with sick delight, "you'll never make in life if you can't master math!" That bitch even cackled.

So I completed the test and, with the exception of two questions, did just fine. But I was shaky, rattled and now off my usually confident game. If there was a math test, what else? Would they be calling in character witnesses? Asking to see my high school senior thesis? A cavity search? I mean, really! If they had already digressed me back to my self-conscious 11-year-old self, what was next? Maybe this was all part of their evil plan, I thought. They wanted to see how you did under pressure and then, THEN they would bring out the big questions. You know, the topics that actually pertain to who you are and what you bring to the job you are being considered for. Maybe they wanted to see me squirm...

I gathered myself and straightened my skirt. I would not be intimidated. I've done harder things than this, I thought. I've given presentations to boards, I've landed huge deals. Hell, my first sale on Saturday at the shoe store was over $600.00 and that was before I'd finished my morning coffee. I know I can do sales. I know I can do customer service. I am creative, I am quick, I am driven and I can play well with others, damnit. So no, Ms. Troll, you don't have to "master math" to make it in life. I got my chutzpah back and had the uncanny desire to track down the troll and tell her off.

I'm not sure if I'll be getting that job. This is odd for me because I've never interviewed for a position and not been hired. But not everybody fits in everywhere, as my dad so aptly pointed out. If we did the world would be a very boring, gray place.

So it's back to the drawing board for me. I've been combing through websites and writing cover letters with the best of them. I'm sure something will come along soon and as when I know where the next playground will be, I'll let you know.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Breakable by Ingrid Michaelson

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fate

On Monday I was officially laid off. This news came about ten minutes after hearing that my fallback job (shoes) was also not going to pan out because they too were going through a round of layoffs. Scary? Um...a little. I'd never been laid off before.

I was told that my last day would be Friday, October 31st.

So I went home, grabbed one of our homemade oatmeal stouts and headed for the garage. Because I knew my end at the magazine was just around the corner, I had already scheduled an appointment with a headhunter. Our first interview was for the next day, so even though I had only been laid off for about an hour, I was already in job search mode. I needed to clean up my resume, write a couple cover letters and find my interview suits to get ready. Of course, when I had left my old job in June of 2007 I had absolutely no intention to ever wear my old, heavy, constricting suits again. The only reason I had kept them was because they cost so much and I didn't want to be without. True to my nature, I had only kept them based on the patented Ma Chilton "just in case" philosophy. Begrudgingly, I pulled out my old clothes from my days in Eugene. I unfolded sweater sets, evaluated my conservative heels and wondered whether my old skirts would fit. Essentially, I was not happy to be elbow-deep in boring wool suits that had the distinct odor of moth balls. I slammed a few boxes on the ground. I stomped my foot. After a few angry minutes of digging, drinking and kicking, I scooped up my haul and, with some degree of consternation, deposited them on the laundry room floor.

Returning to the garage I dove into a box of books in search of my very professional looking black leather folder. More than anything, it's a prop for interviews. Sure it keeps my files and resumes in order, but basically it just looks good. As I was extracting the folder I came across my college text books. I was thumbing through them, remembering the days when I actually believed my guidance counselors when they said brightly/ignorantly, "you can do anything you want with an English lit degree!" Bullshit, I thought, as my eyes ran over a section of Milton's Paradise Lost. You most certainly cannot do anything. You can do a lot of things but "anything" is not one of them.

As I was just about to storm off into the house for another beer, Jason pulled up. Smiling and calm, he walked up to me with a dozen long stem red roses in one hand and a Costco-sized box of Dove chocolates in the other. He hugged me, told me it would all be okay and that we would get through this. I started to cry. He then walked me inside, sat me down and we spent the night eating pizza, drinking beer, playing dominoes and just taking it easy. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

I've sent my resume out to a few businesses in town and have managed to snag an interview for tomorrow. The job would be perfect for me and I'm really hoping I'll get it. But that is all I'm going to say because I don't want to jinx it. And as I've been bragging about my chocolate and rose toting boyfriend to anyone who will listen, he said he's happy to brag that even though his girl got laid off on a Monday she had a job interview lined up before the end of the week.

Take that, world--we're going to be just fine.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Move Along by the All-American Rejects

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Brief Moment

Well, the magazine I work for has been discontinued. That's right. Done. The rest of the company is still around, and will continue to grow and expand, but the magazine that I sold advertising for has been discontinued. Nothing official has happened with my job yet (and I probably shouldn't speculate about my fate on a public blog) but, just so you all know, this is what is happening in my life right now.

This all came to a head last week at the same time that my parents were here visiting. We'd had a great weekend with them. Jason took dad hunting on the ranch (the ranch is a cattle ranch near Red Lodge that is owned by the company Jason works for. They have a hydo project on the land so he is out there fairly often). Ma and I shopped, reviewed all relevant gossip and basically got a chance to just be. The four of us talked, laughed and ordered more than a few rounds. It's great to be able to hang out with your parents while getting drunk and talking shit over a game of dominos... And I mean that.

Anyway, family traditions aside, we made sure that Ma and Pa saw all the highlights: Virgina City, the town of Red Lodge, the Wild Bill Museum, Yellowstone (complete with a grizzly eating an elk while being circled by wolves), four-point bucks jumping over wooden fences at sunset in the snow, two of the hydro projects that Jason works on and downtown Bozeman. It was a great trip and I was so glad they came out.

I guess that's it for now. As soon as I know what my fate will be I'll let everyone else know.

Cheers,
NC

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Summer Recap

Tonight I've found a rare quiet moment to get caught up on this blog and myself for that matter. It has been such a busy summer. Jason and I were trying to add up the thousands of miles we've driven this summer and I think we got lost somewhere after 5,000 (hey--he produces green energy for a living so don't even try to wag your finger at our carbon footprint). So what's the tally? Where have we been? Between the two of us, we've been to Oregon twice, White Fish, Salt Lake City, Great Falls three times and then drove to Seattle and flew from there to Hawaii. We've been home fewer weekends than we've been away. And we've also had a house guest or two, making the summer all that more enjoyable. And it has been so much fun, almost so that I'm a bit sad to see the summer end. But now, with the distinctive chill in the air and pumpkin motifs popping up in the grocery stores, I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to a cozy and maybe even quiet fall.

Tonight Jason is in Great Falls for his niece's birthday. I was at the synagogue for services tonight so I'll follow him there tomorrow for the rest of the weekend. We recently said goodbye to one of our roommates (the same roommate that accused my cat of pooping in his room) and the other two roommates are either on a trip or gone for the night. So strangely, I'm here alone for the first time in at least two months. It's been a challenge living with four other boys, a cat and occasionally a dog (long story about the dog--don't ask). The one roommate, a.k.a. The Perfect Roommate and/or Best Roommate Ever is so quiet and discreet that it's like he doesn't live here at all. He also pays on time, never causes a fuss, and when we do see him he's a pretty cool guy to talk to. The other roommate is a friend of Jason and I. He works for the Montana Conservation Corps so he's gone three weeks out of four. But when he is here, we have a great time cooking and hanging out together. It's sort of akin to being back in the dorms where ones home was also the center of their social life. And when Jason and I are both here, we're usually cooking, gardening, cleaning, watching a moving, talking, chasing the cat--basically keeping very busy. Needless to say, these quiet moments are very rare for all of us.

What's funny for me is that nights light these, where it's just me, good music, a glass of wine and the laptop used to be my standard evenings. It was easy to keep up on my writing and reading then. The routine was come home, eat, kick up my feet and start typing or grab a book. These days I actually have a social life and home isn't as quiet as it used to be. Not that I'm complaining--it's just startling to make the comparrison between then and now. I'm a lucky girl.

So besides lots of travel, parties, plans and activity, what did we do? Well, we went tubing on the Madison, ate lots of salads from our garden, swam with sea turtles in Hawaii, bbq'd our hearts out, made new friends, visited with my parents in Oregon, hung out with Chris in Maupin for an afternoon, wandered through Pike Place Market, perfected Thom Kha soup, saw the Bison with Jeff in Yellowstone, soaked in some great hot springs and watched plenty of suns set to the sound of bellowing donkeys. To sum it up, we had a great time.

Ma and Pa will be flying out next month to spend a week with Jason and I. Dad is looking forward to bird hunting with him at the ranch (Jason's company owns a ranch where they have a hydro project) and Ma is looking forward to some quality girl time. It will be great to be able to show them around Bozeman and to hang out with them some more.

Lately I've been attached to an album by Ethan Hipple & Podunk Road (http://www.ethanhipple.com/) circa 2005. It's called Prairie and from when I can tell, it's the only cd the group produced. That, and their myspace page hasn't been visited since 2007...BUT it's a fabulous collection of music. They do a gorgeous version of Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show) that just splits me.

They also have this verse on one of their tracks: "I got the blues so bad one time I put my face in a permanent frown, but I'm feeling so much better I can cake walk into town." Well isn't that just the truth for me.

Cheers,
Nicole

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sunsets, Donkies and Strategic Pooping

When I was in high school I used to sit on my parents front step and watch the sunsets. I'd usually go out at night after dinner, just before the mosquitoes started to get really bad. It was quiet and peaceful out there and I could hear myself think. I sat in a nice rocking chair we had given my dad one father's day and I could watch the sky turn pink and and pale peach through the haze of Ohio humidity. It was wonderful.

It's been a really long time since I've done that, but tonight after my walk I found myself sitting on our front stoop watching the sky turn colors again. At the end of our subdivision there is a little farm that hasn't sold out yet. Just about every night, without fail, the donkey who watches over the sheep and chickens will scream out his distinctive call. The first time he did it I nearly jumped off the ground from fright, but now it just seems soothing in a weird way. Within a few minutes of sitting down he shouted out his messy declaration that the day was done. His formality was a comfort.

So I sat there watching the sunset and just thought for a while. I could hear myself think and breath and I was relieved to have the space to do it in. There are five people, one dog and one cat living in this house these days. It's crowded to say the least. I like my space and my solitude. It's not that I'm anti-social, it's just that down time is important in my little world and there hasn't been much of it lately. Not that this is a bad thing. Jason and I have been enjoying the summer with lots of trips, bbq's and parties. It's been good. But if I'm not with him, then I'm at work. It doesn't leave a whole lot of time for curling up with a book and Fatty Cat, which is how I used to unwind in my single days.

And speaking of Roscoe, a.k.a, Fatty, Roo, Rooster and, most recently, Roscoski, he has settled into life in Montana just fine. He just occasionally takes issue with the dog. Oh yes--the dog. Leila is a small, three-pound, Pomeranian Jason adopted. She's sweet with tiny little marble eyes and a delicate, somewhat petite personality. Roscoe, on the other hand, is 20 pounds of opinionated, bossy, hungry fur. The two create quite a contrast. However, he has been a good cat since getting here regardless of the ill-founded accusation from one of my roommates that he pooped in his room. I maintain that it was Leila (the cat and dog poop looks similar--not that I'm looking that close...). But I will say that if that particular roommate ticked Roscoe off enough for him to poop on the carpet, (something that he has never done once in his five years of life) then whatever he did was probably bad enough to deserve that and more. In his day Roscoe has chewed on shoes, knocked breakables off the counters, unpotted/mauled/eaten house plants, attacked various pieces of furniture and drank out of the toilet bowl, but he has never once pooped out of spite. He has drug his butt across an ex-boyfriends pillow, but that is as close as he has come to using poop as a weapon. So again, I sincerely doubt that Roscoe was the culprit. If he could, I'm sure he'd sue for libel...

So there I was, on the step, thinking about cat vs. dog poop and the motives behind it. I watched the birds, listened to the Canadian geese and contemplated how nice it would be to befriend the pleasant lesbian couple across the street (they have two Subarus, a Smart Car, a cat that they walk on a leash and beautifully maintained flower beds--why not?). I also thought about the garden which was pummeled to a bloody green pulp by that awful hail storm the other night (the lettuce and corn was all that survived) and the pock marks on my car from said hail storm and the nauseating fact that it will cost a few hundred bucks to fix. I contemplated all that work that is waiting for me tomorrow at my desk and did my best to try to calculate how much I could get done before the week was out. I thought about taking a second job again to have a little bit more money in my bank account. And on the topic of money my brain wondered down the path of assessing my not so strong assets and wondering if I will ever really get ahead. And then my eye caught a glimpse of the lovely rock I took with me from Sinks Canyon, Wyoming as a souvenir of my time in the mountains. I picked it up and turned it over and over in my palm until my mind started spinning around the man who disappeared last fall. I helped with that search and it a was major effort, but they couldn't find him before winter hit. They found him last month at the base of cliff. And then, of course, I started thinking about people I miss and also some people I don't. And then I started going through that list in my head of all the people I need to meet at the trade show next month. I was ticking through the appointment list and making mental notes of what I need to do to prepare until I inevitably switched to the "what to wear" category of worry that comes with being a woman and before I knew it I was mentally packing my suitcase.

Me? Oh just fine. Really. Fine and freaking dandy.

So I sat there, stared at that gorgeous, gentle sunset and did my best to breath. And then I thought, "I am an adult, this is life, and every single person in these lovely craftsman style homes has worries similar or even worse than mine. Nicki, put on your big girl panties and get over it."

And then a blue heron flew across the sky. For whatever reason, these creatures have always seemed like guardians to me. Tall, handsome and so full of grace without a hint of smugness they are a mark of calm elegance. He was alive, high above it all, gliding through all that ethereal pink.

Down the street the donkey cried out again. He's a persistent bastard, I'll give him that, but he's right: The day is over and it's time to give it up and go to bed.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Apologies by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Maybe Montana

Hello All,

I have a bit of announcement to make. It's been a long time coming, but being a fairly un-trusting individual (a couple years in corporate sales will do that to a person) I wasn't willing to post about it right away. But now, after oh, a whole freaking month, I feel it's high time I made it official: I, Nicole HAVE A REAL JOB. Yes, it's true--a legitimate, paying, health insurance included gig. No longer am I trapped in intern-hood at the age of 26. I am now employed. I know, I was shocked, too. But here I am: Employed, coupled, and living in Montana. And, if you can believe it, the craziest thing of all is that I AM HAPPY.

I believe the phrase you're searching for is "holy shit".

So here it is: the end of a year. I started on June 17, 2007 driving like a mad woman out of Oregon headed toward Wyoming to start a new life. I wanted freedom, anonymity, a fresh start and a new career. I wanted a better, healthier and happier life and frankly, I didn't care what I was giving up in the fabled, mythical land called Eugene, Oregon. Quite suddenly I went from being an employed pre-adult working in corporate sales to being a publications intern/cocktail waitress/dog and house sitter in Wyoming. Odd...to say the least.

Then I headed north, against better judgement (that judgement being to go back to Oregon for grad school instead of yet another internship) and found myself in the painfully frozen town of Bozeman, MT. And if there was a theme to go with my first six months in Montana, it would have been "rough starts". My internship, finding a second job, getting health and car insurance, finding a social life (never did quite get that one off the ground), my living situations and even my relationship with Jason, were all bumpy and painful or unpleasant to begin with. By February 15th I decided to throw in the towel and planned to leave on March 15th. But life happened and I ended up in Ohio helping to take care of my Mom and Dad and I completely forgot about plans to leave. I came back to Bozeman on the 14th exhausted, but somehow rejuvenated by gratitude. On the 15th, the day that I was supposed to be leaving Bozeman in a trail of frozen dust and neurotic cynicism, I started dating Jason. It's funny how life stepped in front of me the way it did. Sort of like a train hitting a brick wall... Anyway, after coming back from Ohio I wasn't going anywhere. And then in June the magazine I was interning with offered me a job and suddenly, I was living and working Bozeman, MT.

The day after meeting with my bosses over coffee and cheesecake I woke up with the strange sensation that I had been given a second chance. I was happy. HAPPY. Me, the girl who has been hopping from one fit of melancholy to the next since infancy, was content. Sure, I still had my daily freak outs and ranting fits (just ask Robin), but all and all, I was good. When I had left Oregon I had gone with the desire to land a job at an outdoor magazine. I wanted to be in a town that wasn't too big or too small; that had art, culture, entertainment and the outdoors spilling out its seems. I wanted to be in a place filled with natural beauty and surrounded by trails. I wanted to find a guy and fall in love. And much to my surprise, I found it.

That's not to say that I've reached some sort of pinnacle in life and that I'm done building and changing who I am. There are new goals that I'm working toward now. It will be interesting to see where I end up, but if I can come this far in a year I'm fairly hopeful for where I will be another twelve months.

So here I am. I live in Bozeman and work as the advertising/publications sales manager for an outdoor magazine. I also do some writing and editing for them so I'm not completely out of the literary industry. I have a desk in front of a window and co-workers that I not only like, but enjoy working with. I like going to work in the morning, but I also like coming home at night. It's great to finally have that balance.

So now what? I used to post to this blog every day (it's easy to do when you don't have a social life and it's disgustingly cold outside) but life got busy and then it got weird. I needed some time off to reevaluate who I am, where I am and just what this blog is about. And now that I've done that I think I have a better grasp on it and on me. I'm not the same person I used to be, but I'm not that different either. Life is just altered and new.

Lucky me.

NC

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shacked Up Domestic Bliss

Last week a friend asked me what my days were like. "So what are you doing tomorrow? Tell me everything. What do your days look like now?" he asked me. And as I rattled off the details of my day, from the getting up around 7Am to fiddling with my little red french press at work, to stumbling on home, I realized just how different my life is from anything it has ever been. How strange. So what does my life look like now that I've settled in Montana?

This morning I'm sitting in the relative quiet of the house, sipping coffee with the windows and doors open. It SNOWED last week, so the mild and warm 54 degrees is a welcomed and pleasant change. After all, it is June so you would think we would be lapping up the heat by now, but not in Montana and not this spring. My roommates and Jason are all still sleeping upstairs so it's quiet except for the click of the clock and the birds outside. Jason put up a bird feeder yesterday while I was at work at the shoe store, so now little multi-colored birds are singing his praises from the edge of the yard. For my birthday, a friend of mine had given me a hanging plant for the porch, but a family of birds took up residence and laid five eggs (originally there were five blue eggs, but somehow that switched to two blue and one larger white one with brown spots. hmmmm.....), which then hatched into three baby birds. Jason now says that his bird feeder is feeding the parents, and he checks on the nest every day. The plant, of course, has since gone toes-up, but the baby birds are doing well.

Our veggie garden is sprouting up, almost so fast that I can see it grow. We planted it a couple weeks back with everything from beans to lettuce to watermelon along with the standard assortment of tomatoes, spinach and the requisite zucchini and squash. It's 13 x 50 feet so before I know it I'll be sorting, cleaning and storing vegetables at a pace I may or may not be able to keep up with. Last night we had our friends Max and Ariel over for dinner. Max (short of Massimiliano--he immigrated to the US from Italy when he met Ariel) stood there admiring the garden with me and remarked that when the basil and tomatoes comes it we'll have to call him over so that he can show us how to make 'some real Italian food'. Max and Ariel just found out this week that she's pregnant with a boy, so this fall there will be a little guy arriving that we'll all get to meet this fall.

Jason has woken up since I started writing this post. He's going through his bird book trying to figure out who is making the sing-song "heee-heee" noise in our yard. Apparently it's a Starling and it has friends. The bird family on our porch is of the House Finch variety, and earlier this morning he saw a Red-Wing Blackbird. Apparently we'll be going back to the Home Depot today (they're beginning to know us there) to buy a birdbath. In addition to that project, we'll be painting, spackleing, doing laundry, cooking out, cleaning, weeding, hiking, baking and vacuuming just to name a few things.

So today, that is my day. Simple, calm and lovely. Life is good.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: You Have Stolen My Heart by Dashboard Confessional

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rainy With a Chance of Damp

It's raining in Bozeman today (and will apparently keep going the rest of the week according to the weather forecast) and everything just looks so green. Bright, springtime lime green that you see just before things get hot. Last night we had high winds that were strong enough to flip the hot tub cover up into the air, fold it in half, slam it against the wall and then crash back down. The bowl of chicken I had placed there just moments before was also thrown through the air and we now have bbq sauce halfway up the side of the house. Yeehaw.

On Monday Jason and I went to see Barack Obama speak at the Field House here in Bozeman. It was crowded and hot since we were in the very last row near the ceiling, but we were still able to see him fairly clearly. He's a great public speaker and the crowd was all hyped up to see him. There was even an annoying group of people who was each holding a 6-foot tall Styrofoam letter, spelling out "BARACK 08". Of course they obscured the view for the fifteen rows behind them (us included), causing me to consider at one point just how hard I'd have to hit one of those letters before it broke.

And before going in to the auditorium I actually ran in to someone from high school--which is crazy for me considering I went to high school in Ohio. As I was standing in line waiting to go in I spotted Katy Red, a girl who was a year ahead of me in high school. We had a few frenzied moments of "how are you!" closely followed by a unison, "what are you doing in Montana?!". I got her phone number and I'll call to see if she has time for coffee one of these days. For those of you who know Katy, she's been in Montana for a couple years now, but will be going to South America in two months to finish grad school. Weird, huh?

Oh--and the shoe store totally kicked the coffee shop's butt in kick ball on Sunday. Though I have to say that I don't think we would have won without Jason. And considering I actually MISSED kicking ball once, it was dang good thing that he was there to make up for it. After the game we came home and took a ride around town on his motorcycle at sunset. Yep--you heard me. I had my very first motorcycle ride and it was AWESOME. *And yes, Ma, I did wear a helmet* To those of you whom I have ever scolded or nagged about riding a motor cycle, I apologize. They are just a great as you said they were and more.

In the meantime it's just life as usual...sort of. My internship is up at the end of June and hopefully I'll find out what's next in the near future. I'm nervous but excited. It will be nice to know what the next step is.

I've also decided to rescind my previous declaration to post every day. I just can't live up to it right now. So, I'll be posting as often as possible and doing it in a way that is actually meaningful as opposed to frenzied and crappy or not at all.

Okay--time to fall over and go to sleep.

Cheers,
NC

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Breezy Sunday

Today has been my first day off of work and at home in a month. Actually, it might be longer than a month. I love my Sundays. It's the one day a week that I'm not at work and the chance to sleep in, clean, cook something nice and drink coffee is a fabulous luxury. It's a time to breath and I love it.

Today Jason and I have been doing laundry and taking it fairly easy. I caught up with a friend on the phone and started making some plans for the end of June. It's been quiet and peaceful, and since it's a windy Montana afternoon the breeze is whipping through the house. There is a kick ball game that the shoe store I work for is in later this afternoon, and both Jay and I will be going. I'm terrible at sports, but apparently he is a kick ball bad ass so he'll just have to make up for my falterings. Just add it to the list of reasons why I like him so much.

Cheers,
NC

Friday, May 16, 2008

Maybe Spring?

It snowed last week. Yep. Snow. And the warmest it's been is somewhere around sixty degrees. We're also high in elevation here so at night things can get pretty chilly. However, people still buy tee-shirts and flip flops as if summer just might happen so I've been holding out some degree of hope. Yesterday as I was driving home I looked up at the mountains and they were actually green. GREEN, as in not snow covered, or dried a putrid shade of dead grass beige. Nope. These hillsides are awake. And then there are all those flowers poking up here and there. They suggest that the weather should be warm and sunny, but somehow it's been cold and gray. Jason even went so far as to plant cheery little flowers in the garden. And yes, I do know that summer will eventually get here and all I have to do is be patient. But still, I can't help be surprised that today is sunny with a hint of warm.

Cheers,
NC

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hair Balls

I have no idea why, but this photo made me laugh hysterically:



K...now I'm going to fall over and go to sleep before I end up snoring on the laptop. Such is a hazard of writing late at night in bed.

Cheers,
NC

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Title and Such

I am not a fan of titles. I can write an article just fine but coming up with a catchy, all-encompassing, this-is-what-this-article-is-about heading that will draw readers to actually stop and read what I've written? No. Not so much. This past week at work I've been trying like hell to come up with a title for a new column I'm working on but just about every idea I've had has been nixed by my boss. And rightfully so--most of them have been crap.

And I'm not a huge fan of subtitles either. All of my previous editors will gladly attest to this. Her? Oh she was alright, but damn it if she couldn't name what she'd written to same her life. However, I am good at throwing up lousy suggestions for editors to see explode on the floor. That way their minds can pick through the scraps for something that might inspire them to come up with a phrase which isn't overused, cliché , obnoxious, abstract or dull. How nice for them.

But now here I am, in the comfort and security of my own blog, and I have no freaking clue what to subtitle to this thing. I'm sure it will hit me eventually. Something will pop into my head, or someone will say something at the coffee shop and it will start me thinking. It'll just tap me on the shoulder and there it will be. But for now I've got nothing.

Cheers,

NC

Monday, May 12, 2008

Uh huh...

Hi All,

Have you ever gone so long without talking to a friend or relative that you feel embarrassed to write or call so you just don't? You want to know how they're doing and to catch up on what life has been like, but you just feel so dang awkward about how long it's been that you just don't make that move to call. Yep. That's been me with this blog. However, I have heard rumblings from those who have been in the habit of reading this blog that I had better get back in the swing of daily posts. And by rumblings, I mean this email from Robin:

"You sure you haven't run off to Vegas to get swallowed by a giant hole with Jason while joining a motorcycle gang, donning those funny Groucho Marx glasses and changing your name to Esmeralda? My jonesin' for my daily dose of Nicki Moments must be met!"

Uh huh. Well, I agree. And now that things have sort of settled down in my life I am going to go back to the daily posts of this blog, but it's going to be a little different. Life has been changing a lot for me and because of that I haven't had the time to write, nor have I known what to write about. This blog has been about my nomadic life since I left Oregon last June. It's been about a girl who is trying to become a writer, works 50+ hours a week and mostly hangs out by herself in her off hours with a book, laptop, glass of wine and her roommate's dogs. It's been a single girl blithely living a crazy year of her twenties and...yatta...yatta...yatta... But now life is different and so am I. So what is the blog about now?

As most of you know, Jason and I moved in together on April 21st, just a couple days after Courtney moved to Bozeman. I've gone from being a single girl with a next-to-nothing social life, to a girlfriend who is quickly meeting all of her boyfriend's family and friends as well as hanging out with Courtney and building a social life with other new and exciting people. Life is nothing like it was a month ago and it just keeps changing. But that doesn't mean I get to stop carving out a little bit of time to write each day. So even though I'm not sure what my life is right now I'm just going to keep writing anyway. And when I figure out what the plan is, I'll certainly let you know.

The subtitle and header will be changing as will my bio and maybe my photo (that head shot is at least two years old now). It just doesn't seem to fit anymore. In the meantime, I need to get back to other projects, though I will be posting an update of what I've been doing, who I've met and what I've been working on these last few weeks either tonight or tomorrow in the early AM.

See you tomorrow,
NC

Song of the day: Girls and Boys by Ingrid Michaelson

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Weekly Update?

Hi everyone,

No, I haven't been abducted by aliens, run off to Vegas with Jason or been swallowed by a giant hole in Iowa (coincidentally in the same town as my uncle--hi, Uncle Jerry!!!). I just happen to be 'living the dream' in BozeAngeles wondering, ever so sparingly, just how the hell I got here in the first place. I don't know about you, but life confuses me.

Anyway, my birthday was fanfreakingtastic. Jason and I had a party at the house where a tidy group of people gathered to eat cheese and drink wine. It was simple, tasteful and just right. I was really struck by how different my birthday was from last year. The group of people I got to celebrate with this year are all relatively new to my life. They're also a tiny bit older, mostly married, and are either parents or will be soon. In attendance were two couples who are expecting and Addie (a friend from work) and her little boy who happens to be a truck-loving three-year-old. Last year there wasn't a single married couple to be found, let alone kids. We were also grilling burgers on my spiffy new tabletop grill and drinking beer in the backyard of my apartment. My how quickly things change. But this is all very good change and I was very happy. I will admit though that I was SUCH a spoiled girl. Here a few pictures from the partay:

Two dozen pink long stem roses from Jason.

Friends at the party

Me and the boy:-P

So what else have I been up to? Well, probably a bit more than I realize. The other day I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, completely lost in my own little world, when my cell phone began to ring. I started looking for it, first in my purse and then at the bar, essentially walking in circles until I FINALLY realized that it was in my back pocket the whole stinking time. Yep. That's how busy I've been. And sleep? Sleep is just a myth (sort of like spring in Montana--the forecast calls for more snow tonight). When I have been able to actually fall asleep and stay asleep for more than twenty minutes I end up sleep walking. The other night I came out of the bathroom after having looked for and failed to find shorts, was startled by Jason, yelled "meh!" at him and then kicked the Cheat (or at least the stuffed version of him) across the room. Good times. And amazingly, Jason still likes me.

But now that things are settling into a bit of routine HOPEFULLY I will, too. In retrospect, I did know that April was going to be a tad busy, but I really had no idea how much life was going to change. This weekend Jason and I are going to visit his cousin and a friend in a Whitefish. It's going to be quite a drive, six hours apparently, but I'm really looking forward to finally seeing Glacier National Park, and what people keep telling me is the prettiest part of Montana. I'm hoping the trip will clear my head a bit and give me a chance to relax and just be.

I'm a lucky girl.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Breakable by Ingrid Michaelson

Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's My Birftday!

Okay, so that return to normalcy thing didn't really happen. Oh well. I'm happy :-)

Life is so good.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Han Cart Bowy by Perfect

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Normalcy?

Hello All,

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a few days. Things have been...well...insane. It's a cheap word and possibly overused, but it's accurate. Ms. Courtney came to town on Sunday afternoon and since then it's been a whirlwind of resettling and getting reacquainted. In fact, as I write this I'm falling asleep. I'll give a full update on everything (work, friends, boyfriends, etc...) tomorrow when I'm a bit more lucid and not completely decaffeinated.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Beer for my Horses by Toby Keith and Willie Nelson

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Flowers

Jason surprised me with a bright, sunny bunch of daisies today. They made me happy so I thought I'd post a photo of them here. I know it's simple, but they're lovely.

Cheers,
NC

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Frilly Skirt

Occasionally I like to dress up and look cute. I am a girl, after all. But when I left Oregon I only took one skirt, and one pair of black pants with me. No suits, no nice sweaters and definitely no high heels. But today I was out shopping with Jason and came upon this adorable little white shirt with a black floral pattern all over it. It's really light and airy and when I put it on I just felt good. And because it was only $12.99 I felt the need to buy the matching blouse, too. It was weird, but it felt so good to dress up. And maybe if I keep wearing spring-type clothes spring will actually get here.
I know there is a flaw in that logic somewhere, but I'm not interested in finding it...not yet.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: The Way I Am by Igrid Michaelson

Friday, April 18, 2008

Drug of Choice

Still sick and still slightly cranky. And now my brand new bottle of NyQuill and I are going to bed.

Yay for a rockin' Friday night.

Cheers (and tomorrow will be better),
NC

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sick and Cranky

I'm still sick and to be completely honest, I only feel worse. I'm going back to bed and back to sleep.

Oh, and it snowed AGAIN yesterday. Today, on April freaking 16th it is only 27 degrees and that ugly white stuff is still all over everything.

MEH!

NC

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring in Montana

It's sounds odd to admit this, but spring has startled me. Yesterday as I was walking home from work it was well above 70 degrees. There were kids in the streets wearing tank-tops and every car that passed me had their windows rolled down. It occurred to me as I walked carrying my coat in my hand that the last time I was warm like this was last fall when I was living in Wyoming. That was six months ago. And then it struck me that the coming of spring means that I've been gone almost a year.

As I came up to the house where I live, a tidy 1940's log cabin-style home, I saw my dusty Subaru with its Oregon plates. That car has seen a lot of miles now. I guess I have, too. It's just so odd to know that I've been gone as long as I have. I never intended to be out past December. The plan, the original one that is, was that I would go to Wyoming, be there six months and then go back to Oregon to start grad school in June. But instead of going west I went north, choosing an internship in Bozeman over grad school in Eugene. I'd been second guessing, even cursing that decision until recently. January, February and March were tough. There was sickness, family emergencies, work concerns, money concerns and other shortcomings and it was all wrapped in the frigid, gray, biting cold of a Montana winter. I hated it here. I tried to pretend I liked it or at the very least wasn't miserable, but I was. I ignored issues I should have dealt with, letting them eat holes in my life without even realizing it. Every day I wanted to just get up, throw my stuff in that Subaru and not look back.

Come mid-February I had declared I would be gone by March 15th. It was a combination of everything. The weather, the people, the work--all of it. I couldn't and didn't want to find anything good about being here. I just needed to leave. I didn't have a job waiting for me in Oregon, only a couch at Courtney's to crash on. I didn't have a plan either. I just wanted to get the hell out of here. And not having a plan is not like me at all. But I'm stubborn, and when I want to do something odds are I will find a way to do it, regardless of whether or not it's a good idea.

But things change, as they often do. On February 28th Ma called to tell me dad was having bypass surgery. Two days later I was on a plane to Ohio and any plans of relocating were abandoned as I focused on them. I came back and immediately jumped into work with helping to move the offices and the warehouse within a week of each other. I had deadlines to meet (and subsequently miss). After two busy weeks in Ohio I had two even busier weeks in Montana. And then life changed again when my friend, Jason, become my boyfriend. And now, suddenly, it's spring and that long winter I kicked, cursed and stumbled through is over. Life, as it turns out, distracted me while everything else worked itself out.

As I type this I'm sitting on the porch looking out at the yard and the park across the street. My feet, clad in a pair of Frye boots, are propped up on the log railing. A mug of tea, a book and my cell phone are on the ground next to my chair. My roommate has a wind chime that hangs from the rafter and it sounds almost identical to one that my mom had when I was little, though the high note stuck in my memory is missing. Philbert, the barn cat turned house cat, sniffs at the dry weeds next to the porch steps. She doesn't spook or seem concerned when diesel trucks thunder past so I keep an eye on her so that she doesn't go too far. I can see the mountains, still covered with snow from just about every angle in this town. They used to make me nervous, making me feel like I was trapped here. Now their presence makes me feel safe. Funny how that works.

The Subaru remains unpacked these days and my desire to ditch town and run back to the Willamette Valley has all but vanished. I don't miss the rain, that's for sure, and the sun, mountains, forests and rivers of Montana have finally caught my attention. Work, friends, health and family are all great *knock on wood*. To my surprise, spring has found me as a remarkably content person. And now, as I sit here, it feels like this is the calm before the storm, or at the very least a resting point before more transition and change happens. April and May will eventually yield what will happen when the internship is over. Courtney will be moving in in a little over a week, too. But regardless of what happens in the coming months, I am happy about my time here. Yes, I did deviate from my original plan substantially, but I don't regret leaving Oregon and I don't regret coming here. And yes, the thought has also occurred to me that I might not just be passing through Montana. This could very well be the end of the line for a while. How wonderfully strange.

Cheers,
NC

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Of Course...

A spring tease arrived today. Yep. 70 degrees of warm, sunny weather. I was at the shoe store, though. Still sniffling, still coughing and still sucking on gross cough drops. But winter will be back on Tuesday with a high somewhere in the 40's and then come Wednesday there will be snow.

I have never been so ready for spring before in my life!

*Sniffle*
NC

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Meh.

It was 65 degrees today. 65 warm, sunny, happy, blue-sky degrees. There were even happy-looking white puffy clouds here and there. I'm sure it was a wonderful Saturday for most people. In fact, I'm positive it was because from my vantage point on the couch, where I sniffled and coughed my way through the day, I could see numerous people out on the street and in the park enjoying the sunshine. How nice for them.

Me? I ate really healthy, drank a lot of tea, downed copious amounts of cough medicine and read my new book that Jason (a.k.a. the boyfriend) bought online and had sent to the house. Fun times.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Overboard by Ingrid Michaelson

Friday, April 11, 2008

PJs, Tea, Chicken Soup and a Hot Bath

It's official: I have a cold. An icky, achy, cranky, disgusting cold complete with a sore throat and a mild fever. Bleh. And here I am, rich with work and the possibility that Spring just might happen to arrive on Monday or even as early as Sunday and now I can't even enjoy it. Bleh. And for that matter, meh.

I came home from the shoe store, made a giant pot of chicken matzo ball soup and am now sacked out on the couch with the laptop and a new book. But I don't feel better yet. I feel rotten. And cranky. And annoyed. Meh. I hate being sick!

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: The sound the kettle makes when the water is ready for my tea. I hate being sick :-(

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Strange

Every once in a while I am absolutely smacked in the face by just how strange life is. It's hilarious how it all works. Just when you think it's not going to work out, it does; just when you think it's impossible, and that it could never happen to you, it somehow happens; just when you give up, you're given reason to try again. Isn't that just so strange? I'm not saying that life is always perfect, and I'm not saying that it's always good, but isn't it true that it really is darkest before the dawn?

I think about who I was and where I was year ago today and I am stunned. Here I am, 'living the dream' and it's surreal. And a year from now I'll be looking back and probably saying something quite similar to what I am now. I had no idea a year ago today that I would be living in Montana, working for a magazine and writing every day. But here I am. Regardless of the rough starts I had when I first moved here, I think that maybe, just maybe, it's going to be okay.

Today at work I was in the kitchen with two the ladies in the office and we were all laughing about something together. I don't know what it was, but to us it was hilarious. One of the other ladies came in and said that the three of us just had such great laughs and that it warmed the office up. What a great thing to say. There we were, making tea and coffee while three lovable dogs roamed through the offices and one energetic three-year-old showed off his toys to anyone who would listen. It was lovely.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say tonight. Maybe I'm just bewildered by how much has changed in the past two months and continues to change. Maybe I'm just tried, happy and warm all at the same time so it makes for one very sappy post.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: One Step Closer to You by Michael Franti & Spearhead AND Die Alone by Igrid Michaelson.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pertrubed

I have a lot on my mind right now, but it's not anything I can really post about. There have been good things and bad things going on at both my jobs, but because this is a public page I can't say what. And there are also great things going on in the rest of my life, but for multiple reasons I can't go there just yet. So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm both tongue-tied and superstitious. It's kind of put me in a restless, moody, impatient state. Damn it's hard to be patient sometimes...

Good night,
NC

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Eight Inches

I think I'm coming down with a cold. I'm cranky, tired and just generally just don't feel good. That means a cold, right? It's not a side effect of the never-ending Montana winter, is it? Anyone? It's not the eight inches of snow that fell last night? No? Huh. Could've fooled me.

I'm going to take a bath and go to bed.

Good night, all.

Cheers,
NC

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Skinny Jeans

Ha! I fit into my ultra skinny, didn't think it would happen, dark blue, perfectly perfect jeans. Hehe...and I said it couldn't be done.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Business Time by the Flight of the Conchords :-)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday Morning

Slept in, fed the dogs, drank coffee, ate really awful made from scratch pancakes (hey--I tried), did the dishes, took a shower and drank more coffee. That has been my morning. Exciting, don't you think? I'm headed off to the see the Museum of the Rockies with my friend Jason and to get a peek at some dinosaur bones. Jack Horner, one of the professors at the university, works at the museum and worked on one of my favorite childhood movies, Jurassic Park. Yay!

Cheers,
NC

Thursday, April 3, 2008

An Ode to Necesssity

At times, I can be a bit of a spazz. That's right, I'm admitting it. In print. I have been known to send mass emails warning of the perils of cell phone do not call lists, call the cops when mysterious cars have been parked for way too long outside my house and write and publish articles that have to do with everything from climate change to what to and not to read. But most of the time (okay--some of the time) I have good reason to freak out about something so good or so bad that I feel the need to champion it's merits and/or pitfalls. I like to say that I'm opinionated about what's important. How's that?

Enter my new favorite toy: a 20 oz travel mug that is also a coffee press. Seriously. I just published an article on buying less, wrote a post about living with less and I work for a company dedicated to doing more with less, YET I have at my side a gorgeous, gleaming, thoughtfully designed salvation to my droopy, decaffeinated soul. It's even candy apply red. I bought it from a local coffee shop here in town but it's made by a group called Planetary Design. As far as I'm concerned everyone should have one of these. And considering that my birthday is later this month, I've written it off as an early b-day gift to myself. And why did I feel the need to essentially drink my coffee straight from the pot? Because the new offices do not have a coffee pot yet and the nearest coffee stand is in the mall down the street. This requires me to leave my office, get in my car, drive to the mall, get out of my car, stand in line (oh the humanity!) and wait for a surly looking, prepubescent barista to get her shit together so that she can brew my trippletallsugarfreehazelnutlattee in my eco-friendly travel mug because I'm an anti-single-use paper cup kind of girl. I'm saving time (it took me twenty minutes to fetch my afternoon cup yesterday), money, gas and sanity by brewing my own cup/small pot at my desk. And while there is quite a bit to be said about what you gain by having less, buying less and even eating less, there is also a heck of a lot that can be said about being a happy freakin' member of society.

Bottoms up,
NC

Song of the day: Catch My Disease by Ben Lee

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Oi

Life is so strange...

NC

March is Finally Over

March was busy. It was also at times annoying, stressful, joyful, cold, warm, lucrative and taxing (pun intended). March, in a sense, was a very moody bitch. There were the lows (Dad being sick), the highs (Dad being okay--yay!), and everything else in between. I was busy with work when we moved the warehouse and then the offices. I was busy with family when I flew to Ohio for two weeks. I was busy with my personal life as I tried to keep up with old friends and simultaneously make new ones. There were birthdays, get-togethers, meetings, car maintenance and late nights. I had taxes to do, a house to clean, dogs to take care of and to top it all of, a bit of stomach flu to get over. I slept less and ate (and drank) more. My cell phone minutes went through the roof. My coffee cup, puffy jacket and laptop were my constant companions. So yes, March was a busy month.

Am I glad it's over? Kind of. There were the good points during March, and I certainly feel like I learned a lot. Dad's bypass surgery was a huge learning experience both about myself and my parents. Work improved, my relationships improved and even my perspective of Bozeman somehow got better after spending time in Ohio. So while March was rough, it was also very good. But now I'm looking forward to April, and the possibility of spring-like weather, parties, more friends and even more change.

April will be great, *knock on wood*.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Hard Sun by Eddie Vedder

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring? No, Not Yet

It snowed. Again. Five dusty, cold, annoying inches dropped out of the sky last night. Meh. I am SO over winter...

On the upside I did have a lovely day at the office. No, really--I did. I worked a normal, happy 9-5 day complete with coffee breaks and a trudge through the snow to the mailbox. It was so nice to be able to settle in get things off that to do list of mine.

And now I need to roll over and go to sleep. Good night!

Cheers,
NC

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Logistics

Courtney will be moving from Oregon to Montana in the next couple months and because her little red Honda can't handle more than a few boxes, most of her possessions are being mailed here. The conversation I had with her about said boxes went something like this:

"Oh by the way--I can't fit everything in my car so I mailed some boxes that will be showing up next week."
"Okay, no worries. I'll put them downstairs in the spare room if it's okay with Tom."
"Yeah, I think that should work. It's mostly books and clothes."
"Sure. I'll ask him about it. He might want some things in the garage."
"Yeah...but don't put my clothes in there, okay? I don't want them getting ruined."
"No worries."
"And I'm mailing a raft."
*Pause*
"Excuse me?"
"A raft."
"R-A-F-T?"
"Yep. It was on sale at Costco so I bought it. It's really heavy though so don't try to move it by yourself. It will be there Tuesday."
"Uh huh...How heavy?"
"Oh...96 pounds. Ask Tom to help you lift it when he gets back from his trip."
"How much did it cost to mail 96 pounds?"
"A bit..."
"Why did you buy a raft?"
"Because it was on sale and I needed one."
"And you mailed it to Montana?"
"Well, yeah!"

Cheers,
NC

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Purge

Okay. So it's been a fairly stressful and busy month. We could go into the gritty, gross and icky (yes, I'm aware of the redundancy, but I don't care) details, buy frankly I don't want to. I'm sick of the details, the drama and the not fun parts of being human. I'm not saying that the difficult bits should be completely ignored, but I am saying that we should all get breaks from dealing with them. Agreed?

I recently read It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. It's a fun, fluffy little book about organization and living happily with less stuff. Basically it's a case against mass consumption, buying things just because they're on sale, and holding on to worthless junk just because you 'might need it someday'. And while the book did at times feel like it was trying too hard to be cool it did get me thinking about my own collection of stuff.

I will easily admit that I have been guilty of "collecting" things I don't need. The book calls this hoarding, but I think it's such a negative way to say it. It's sort of like saying "I'm on an eating plan" as opposed to "I'm on a diet". So much nicer. Anyway, I've taken steps this last year to be kinder to my wallet, the planet and my closet by just not "collecting" so much junk. However, I will say that when I left Oregon I couldn't part with it all so whatever I didn't sell when straight to the storage unit. Into it I crammed furniture, a fair amount of clothing, every paper I wrote in college, cat toys, shoes I have never worn, photos of people from college whose names I can't recall, pop-culture kitchen items and books I have never read and do not intend to read in addition to an astonishing collection of what can only be referred to as "useless shit". The important things are there too, it's just hard to locate them among all the other stuff.

Most of my stuff is there, while very few things made it into my car when I left. I wanted to lighten up my life, be free, carry less stuff, live more with less, blah, blah, blah... But I am glad I left with so little because it has made it easy to be mobile and it's been kind of fun to know that I really can be okay with less. Clothes, gear, a small box of books, a moderately sized box of shoes, a collection of CDs, some bedding and my laptop are the main things that followed me when I left Oregon on that day in June.

But somehow my collection has grown over the last few months. Books, shoes, clothes, gear--it's all multiplied, exploding out of the shelves and boxes that have been trying to contain it all. It's been a bit overwhelming, for lack of a better term. So since I was preoccupied with worrying about taxes, friends, relationships, the price of gas, my jobs, my writing, my family, US politics and how I was going to get that stain out of my sweater, I decided to take that nervous energy and put it to good use. I headed to my room, opened a box and began to toss things out.

First it was a pair of light hiking shoes that I never wear because they give me blisters. Throwing them out was simple enough. Then I sorted all of my work out/rafting/hiking clothing on the bed and decided just how many tank tops, shorts and cotton tee shirts I really needed, then threw the ones I didn't want/need into a pile to go to donation. Then, just for kicks, I went through my bag of gear and paired that back down. Then it was the sock and underwear drawer, the office box, the camping/kitchen box and finally that mysterious none-of-the-above box. When it was over, two cardboard boxes were full in addition to two grocery sacks of trash. I purged and it felt great. Fabulous even.

And what's more, my problems seemed to sort themselves out, too, letting go of what didn't matter and reorganizing what did. Purging, as it turns out, is very therapeutic.

Cheers,
NC

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not All Is Lost

I had a bit of stressful afternoon today. It was the kind of afternoon where I found myself leaning over the laptop with my head in my hands breathlessly counting to ten. Lovely. But then five o'clock rolled around and I decided to put it behind me till tomorrow and go have a refreshing dinner of sushi with a coworker and her roommate. I left the restaurant floating on a sushi high, not even the least bit annoyed that the forecast tonight calls for lows somewhere around, oh, 13 degrees. But who cares? I'm fat and happy off sushi and possibilities. I guess it really is all about finding balance.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Whatever it Takes by Lifehouse

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Because I Can

Last month my dear friend, Courtney (and by dear friend, I mean that she's my partner in crime, drinking buddy, and go-to gal for stealing horses and hiding bodies) came for a little visit. While she was here she became smitten with more than a few things/people and will soon be relocating to the great state of Montana this May, or sooner depending on how she feels about it. With all this talk of her loading up her little red Honda and driving east to live in the west, I started going through all those photos from when she was here. With permission, which was only obtained after I begged and pleaded, I have posted a few here. Think of it as a preview to spring.

Trading mutual funds, drinking beer and getting to the know the cat on her first day in Montana.

The Conversation: This is Courtney and Ike, the oldest male of the three dogs. We call this photo "The Conversation" because it is very reminiscent of how us girls talk to boys who like us in bars. Hmmm...
Ike Hat: The love affair continues...On the way to a short walk, Ike decided that the best place for his head was directly on top of Courtney's. He kept in there for a good five minutes, too. It was like, "Hey, you! Yeah, you. The cute blond. Guess what? I like you. A lot."

A day with the ponies. On the last day she was here, my roommate was kind enough to take us for a ride near Sheridan on his horses. From left to right: Gabby and I, Courtney and Star.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Love is Free by Sheryl Crow AND The Brightside by the Killers. It's been a good day ;-)

Rock on, dude...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Apparently, I Need A Social Life

It was recently pointed out to me that after spending a total of three months in Bozeman I have yet to accumulate a social life. I mean it when I say that I was surprised by this. The conversation with person X went something like this:

"How are you liking Bozeman?" (I hate this question.)
"Fine...better...it's not so bad...well...spring will be here soon, right?"
"Yeah."
*Awkward pause*
"Well what about friends? What do you do when you're not at work?"
"Not at work?"
"Right."
"Um..."
"Well, what do you do with your friends?"
"Friends?"
"You do have friends, don't you? You know--people you see when you're not at work?"
"Uh...well...I have the one friend. We see each other sometimes."
"One friend?"
"Yeah."
"Outside of work?"
"Well there are my roommates dogs, and I see my roommate when I come home...and at my other job there are lots of coworkers I like."
*Doubtful blinking from person X*
"I read a lot."
*More blinking*
"And spring is coming soon."
*Awkward silence*
"You don't have friends, do you?"
"In other states I do."
"But not here?"
"I guess not. To be honest, I hadn't really noticed until now."

Yep. The fact that I hadn't noticed let alone been at all concerned by the fact that I've become a reclusive-workaholic-loner-bitch is a VERY BAD SIGN. And now, after having just worked a 12 hour day, I'm going to finish my beer and go to bed. So there.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Say by John Mayer

New Digs!

Whew! Yesterday I helped move the office across town. Yep. Lots of boxes, dust, car loads and schlepping up and down stairs. Duct tape, mud, bruises, blood, sweat and tears--the whole bit. BUT the new place is so worth the effort. The old office was located in the industrial district in a warehouse literally on the other side of the tracks and conveniently located to what we suspect was/is a meth lab. Yay. The new offices are in an office park on the nicer end of of town and come complete with carpet, new paint, offices with doors that close (for a writer who has been known to work with ear plugs this is fantastic!), a lovely kitchenette, windows, beautiful landscaping and boys and girls bathrooms. In short, I love it!

K...time to run off to my other job at the shoe store.

Cheers,
NC

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Having a Sunday

I had a great day today. In involved pj's, walking the dog, drinking coffee, talking to friends and family on the phone, cleaning my room, changing the sheets, getting the groceries, answering emails and making dinner. I didn't even get dressed until 3pm. It was normal, calm and overdue. I realized how much I actually like and value my solitude, which is something that took me a little bit by surprise. Not that I'm saying I want to be alone all the time. I like being around people and socializing with friends, but I also need the down time to recharge and be healthy.

I've got another busy week ahead of me. We're moving the offices tomorrow and I'm excited to get a move on with that. I get to inventory and number all the boxes coming out of the upstairs AND put it into an excel spread sheet. Hehehe... I mean it when I say it will be fun. In fact my boss said that my enthusiasm for such a project was "spooky".

So yeah. Apparently solitude and organization that borders on obsession makes me happy. Who knew?

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Shadow of the Day by Linkin Park

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spent

The warehouse got on a truck and left for California this morning. Woohoo! But where was I? I was at my second job at the shoe store wondering why it is I love shoes so much. I still have yet to find out.

Anyway, my point is that I'm all farted out. I need sleep. I need solitude. I need fresh air. In short, I need a day in my pj's. But that isn't going to happen until Sunday when I will blithely emerge from my bed sometime around noon, stumble to the coffee pot, grab the lap top and then commit myself to a day of writing all while muttering to myself about the cruelty of March and it's fickle weather.

I have never claimed to be normal...

Cheers,
NC

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Little Bits

Here and there, there are beautiful acts of kindness. Little things. A hello, a phone call, a smile, a bunch of flowers. Just little things that in truth, are huge. Those are the best pieces of life. The ones you scoop up and put in a box where you won't forget them. It's the beauty of the little bits that hold up everything else. And I am so grateful for those ribbons of life.

Cheers,
NC

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Taking Five Minutes

I'm camped out at the coffee house with a triple latte before going into work this morning. The view is pretty awesome with the still snow-covered hills starting to glow in the early morning light. And this, right here, is my last little moment of calm before launching into my day. And my reminder why I'm in Bozeman at all.

This week is kind of crazy with the moving of the warehouse to San Francisco and relocating the offices across town. I'm really psyched to be working with my coworkers a bit more today (yay! Face to face contact with real live people!) since I spend most of my time quietly tapping away at the computer. Not that I'm complaining--I LOVE being a writer and the work I get to do for the magazine, but every once in a while it's nice to interact with others. I'd like to think it's healthy... Anyway, it's a busy week but I'm excited for it.

Spring is also peeking around the corner here in Montana. It snowed a bit again last night, and we might be getting more tonight as well. For the most part the big heavy piles and drifts that have been permanent since I moved here in December seem to have retreated for the time being. Maybe I'll take a quick day hike on Sunday. Get out, enjoy some fresh air and play a little. Ahhhhh spring...

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T's

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Little Reminder to Myself...

Okay. So sometimes I get going on tangents, flying off the handle, spouting off any number of grievances that just don't make sense. Typically this happens when it all becomes just a bit too much and I don't know what else to do. And since I like to fix things and try to achieve unobtainable perfection and lack patients, ranting just becomes the only avenue available to me. And yes, I do know that ranting is simply a waste of time, and that it is only time itself that will fix things.

As of late I've tried to let up on the ranting to others and keep it more self-contained. Healthier behavior, right? It seems to be working, but because I don't have someone to rant to, I lack seeing that opposite person start to cringe, avert their eyes and/or hand me ice cream and then slowly back away. This is my usual indicator that it's time for me to calm down and let things be. But since I am my own ranting buddy now I've had to keep myself in check with a short list I keep on my computer:

1. Slow down
2. Do one thing at a time
3. No bitching
4. Be grateful

It's short, maybe too short, but it works for me. Life can be so good if you let it.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: If I Had Eyes by Jack Johnson

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back to Work

I had a fabulous lazy day today. Lots of loafing around, hanging out with a friend and not so much as peeking at my work email. It was great. Tomorrow I start back to my usual, normal work week and I'll be happy to head off to the office, coffee in hand, to get back to the usual.

Sleep has been a bit of scrooge lately. I've never had problems falling asleep but it seems that I've become a night owl as of late. Even the thick metaphors that Garbiel Garci Marquez dishes up can't convince my mind to give in to sleep. Oh well. Tonight's another night so I'll give it a go.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the Day: That Girl by O.A.R.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Montana Bound

Damn. It's been a long couple of weeks. I'm sitting in the Starbucks at the Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio waiting to board my flight. This morning my friend Scott picked me up at my parent's house and drove me here. We laughed and joked the whole way, giving me the curious sensation of being so glad to see him, but missing him at the same time. I wish I'd had more time here to see my friends from high school that I still miss (which reminds me, HI JEFF!!!!!!), but it's not like those were the plans when I came out here. Taking care of Ma and Pa was a full time gig, and I was happy to do it. Not coming home to help them would have been a mistake.

But this place, Ohio, is such a weird state. It's the land of Styrofoam cups, fried macaroni and cheese, shopping malls, and freeways as far as the eye can see. It's fast food, SUV's, sweater sets, and lawn figurines. People here dress, talk and act so differently than anywhere else I've ever lived. There is a sort of Ohio look about the people here. It's hard to describe, but it's definite. The highlights in their hair, the gold jewelry, the nail polish, the khakis and the white Nike shoes just seem to exude a certain Ohio brand. It's commercial. It's bizarre. I have to think that when foreigners think of Americans, it's the humble Ohioan that comes to mind.

Seeing the town I left behind nearly seven years ago is also a jolt. It's changed a lot, but in so many ways it's the same place. At least it's the same people, only older. Even my parent's dogs are sporting more gray in their hair. Either way, time certainly is marching on in this part of the world.

I am just so glad that I was here to help my parents out. I'm grateful to my employers for not only letting me go, but being so supportive about it. When I asked for the time to go, there was no hesitation on their part. It was just, "Go. You have our full support". It's bewildering to find an employer like that. Refreshing, too. I'll have to thank them when I get back with a round of corn dogs and ice cream (my bosses favorites--not sure about those corn dogs though).

The weather has also been of interest while I was here. When I arrived on March 2, it was a balmy 45 degrees outside. The next day we got on ice storm, and a few days later a blizzard came through and dropped a whopping 20 inches on us. Now, as I wait to leave, it's back in the 50's and all the snow has melted. Strange place.

What the ice storm left behind...



And then the blizzard...


Yep. And now it's back to Montana. Yeehaw.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Back at Home

Dad finally got to come home from the hospital yesterday afternoon. The roads were fine and the ride was happily uneventful. My parent's two golden retrievers were thrilled to have him back, and promptly brought him their favorite toys. Dad had a shower, a sandwich and then quickly dozed off. And now while Dad sleeps and Ma naps, I'm going to dive into a bit of work and get caught up on some emails.

In other news, you can see one of my articles on the main page of www.backpacklight.com. It's a small review of a website and really doesn't qualify as hard-hitting journalism, but I'm happy about it nonetheless. I've also done a review of a book that will soon be up on the site in addition to some other projects. I've been really grateful to have writing projects and things to do for work while being here in Ohio with my parents. And while my first priority has been to take care of them, it's been nice to be able to curl up at night with the laptop and tick things off my work to do list.

And on that note, back to it.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: All at Once by The Fray

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday

Ma and I saw dad today. He had a rough night but seemed to be doing much better this afternoon. I think we'll all be relieved when he comes home.

Other than that, there isn't a whole lot more to say. I've been working and writing when I can, which is keeping me grounded. I'm also reading a fantastic book called The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. It's a fictional novel that is so beautifully written that I find myself rereading passages just because the beauty of the words demand to be given more than just the once-over. In a word, it's enchanting.

K...off to bed.

Cheers,
NC

Friday, March 7, 2008

Day Five

Ma and I visited Dad on Tuesday and he seemed like he was doing really well. Then on Wednesday he had a bad day, and was feeling fairly gross on Thursday as well. The internet went out on Wednesday because the ice storm managed to rip a few cables down somewhere and it didn't come back on until this morning. A snow storm then decided to blow through (don't you just love Ohio?) and so Ma and I have been stuck in the house all day today and couldn't go see dad. They're even saying we're in some sort of blizzard watch thing. Seriously? Yeah. Seriously. So instead of seeing dad (which is what Ma and I really wanted to do) we got caught up on work, checked emails, called relatives and watched the weather blow through. Fun day. At least the dogs were happy we were home.

On the upside, I did get work done which felt really good and really normal. I figured I'd make the most of it and get some of that out of the way. Other than that, things are as good as they can be. Ma has switched over to feed everyone mode, which is also a sign that things are on the mend. A sample: "Have you eaten? You haven't had a decent meal since you got here. That's what you need--three meals a day. All this noshing and no real eating...why aren't you saying, 'yes, Ma'? Just say 'yes, Ma' and let me do my thing."

Ah normalcy...

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: How Far We've Come by Matchbox Twenty

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

In Ohio...

As I write this I have my feet propped up on the coffee table with a dog at my feet and a cup of tea at my side. It's almost the same set up I have where I live in Montana, except that I'm in my parent's house in Ohio. Dad's surgery went really well. He had five arteries and veins bypassed (I think that's how you say it) and is doing really great today. The surgery was about four hours long but he was able to speak later that night. Today Ma and I spent a couple hours in his room while he did his best to gag down orange Jello and broth.

Ma and I are doing fine. We're holed up in the house tonight while an ice storm blows through. She had foot surgery last month and still has her foot in a cast where it will stay for another six to eight weeks. Today she had it replaced because the one they put on her yesterday was too uncomfortable. This new cast is a walking cast, though it hurts to put weight on it so she's zipping around in a little red scooter with flame stickers and a handlebar basket. It's actually been kind of nice to be able to walk quickly with her, though she has run over my toes a couple times. The dogs also look especially nervous when she throws it in reverse.

The hospital where dad is staying is a huge complex and is insanely busy. Every time we walk into the main lobby I can't help but think that it's a strange combo of nursing home, airport and college campus. It's also fairly multi-cultural. So far dad's nurses have been from the Philippines, Germany, Ghana and Haiti. I'm sure there are a few other countries represented on his floor that I've forgotten, but he'll just have to fill us in later.

Okay...back to work for me.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: The Lucky One by Alison Krauss

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Leaving On a Jet Plane

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be flying to Ohio to be with my parents for a couple weeks. My dad is having bypass surgery on Monday (is that even how you say it? "bypass surgery?" Why does this so not sound like the pretty people on Grey's Anatomy?) so I'll be there to help with mom and play dominoes with dad as he gets better. Will I be posting every day? Hopefully. Will I promise this? No. But I will try.

Okay. Time to pack, eat the perishables in the fridge (does that include the beer?) and go to bed.

Good night,
NC

Friday, February 29, 2008

One-Liners

Hi. My head is full right now. So full that I can't come up with a post, but only post titles. So here you go: all of the post titles that may have had posts attached to them if I had the rest of the week to sit here to write and subsequently figure out the last 48 hours. I will preface this list by saying that while I am not a perfect person, at least I strive to be honest.

Dogs Get it
Jonesing for Spring
Taxes: WTF?
You know what God is Thinking? Are You Delusional?
Judgment Sucks
Things You Should Never Say in a Shoe Store...
Why is it Still Cold?
Down to the Last Thread of Sanity, and You?
Road Trip, Anyone?
I Have No Intention of Being Patient
Bitchiness is Highly Overrated
I Need a Week in the Woods
Fat Cats, Farting Dogs and Why I Drink Red Wine
Baby Cages Really Are a Good Idea
Heterosexual Life Partner
Tofu-Farting Hippies
"Hi!...Hi!...Hi!"
The Weather in Bozeman
I Do Not Need New Boots!
Is It Bad When There is More Ice Cream Than Veggies in the Freezer?
Dancing in the Living Room
Why Middle-Schoolers Should Be Banned From the Coffee House
Coping Mechanism: A Pizza and a Six Pack
I Do All My Own Stunts

And finally,

At Least I'm Still Laughing

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Move Along by the All-American Rejcts

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why I Love Charlie

I was up at the mountain today having my weekly ski afternoon with Charlie, the mega rock star seven-year-old wonder kid. It was just the two of us today as the volunteer list is getting a bit thin as the program winds down (next week is sadly the last week). It was snowing pretty heavily and everything was covered in thick powder, making Charlie one very happy powder-hound. I don't know what got into him, but he just had no interest in practicing turns, stopping or keeping his arms up today. The only thing he wanted to do was snowball fight. He threw snow at the instructors, the liftees, the other participants and passersby. He even pitched a few handfuls at people from his vantage point in the chair lift. There was just no stopping him.

As we were making our way down his favorite gully run, I manged to trip over my skis and fall (big surprise, right?). The ensuing conversation went like this:

"Haha! You fell!" says Charlie, who quickly flings a wet, heavy handful of snow at my neck.

"Hey now--reign in that snow throwing, okay? Let's snowball fight at the bottom of the run. Sound good?"

"But can I through snow at you when you fall down?"

I pause and think about this. "Yes. But only when I fall down and only when we're in a desiginated snow ball fighting area like the hut. Deal?"

"Deal."

I haul myself up, dust myself off and look down to see Charlie scooping a fresh handful of snow. "What's that for?"

"Oh. I'm waiting."

And then he smiled. SMILED a great big, "I know I'm super cute and there's nothing you can do about it" smile.

I love this kid.

NC

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Finding the Humor In It All

The three dogs I live with, Sage, Ike and Echo, are just that--dogs. They are furry, chew on bones, track in mud, bark at passing cars and fart with abandon. They whine to be let in, luxuriate in front of the fire and occasionally get caught with their heads in the trash bin (Echo is usually the culprit there). But every once in a while, they are much more than floppy dogs covered in mud and that's what gives me pause (pun intended).

They're not my dogs and I'm hardly a foster mommy to them. From the human perspective, I'm a babysitter; from the dog point of view, I'm a litter mate, but I do feel some sort of connection to them. I guess it's because they make me laugh even when I'm in a foul mood. Or the fact that when I come home they each jockey for my attention and obnoxious baby-talk. When I block the entrance to the rest of the house with chairs when they're wet and muddy from being outside Echo wedges his head all the way under until he is just barely past the barricade just to be closer to me. And when I'm working on the laptop Sage walks up to lay her head across the key board, just in case I hadn't noticed she was already there. They dance with me in the living room when I'm blasting the stereo, lay their heads in my lap when I'm working and if I let them, they'd share my beer with me.

These dogs, for all their silly, dusty, bone-chewing antics, have become slightly more than just my roommates dogs. They've become co-workers, workout companions, dance partners, assistant chefs, wake-up calls, jokesters, friends and sounding boards. And yes, even I am rolling my eyes at myself for my "oh-my-gosh-these-dogs-are-so-cute-and -let-me-tell-you-all-about-them" post, BUT they really are that great. And when you live in the frozen, red state of Montana and spend more time with your roommates dogs than any other humans in your life because you work from home four days a week and can't stand to be out at night because it's too cold, then yes--you do get to know and appreciate them more than you thought you would. Besides, they're cuter than most humans I know.

NC

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spring Was a Vicious Rumor

It snowed on Monday. And by snowed, I mean that three very soggy, very heavy, very COLD inches of snow fell out the sky and landed within my line of sight. The nerve... And here I was getting ready to pull out my lightweight jacket, dust off the old sandals and squeeze a lime into my beer. And I had legitimate reasons for being lulled into the unsafe notion that spring was just around the corner. The weather had been sunny. At 65 degrees one day you could even say it was warm. The dogs were getting restless and tracking mud into the house instead of snow, flip flops were being hung in the shoe store and on one fine afternoon I realized that my cheeks were flushed and that (gasp!) I was warm. So no, I was not happy when it started pouring down heavy, soggy spring snow. I was practically a Scrooge about the whole thing and protested by not shoveling the walk, which is city law here in Bozeman, until the afternoon.

But I do have to begrudgingly admit that it was pretty. Because it's heavier spring snow it clung to each and every tiny branch and twig, giving the neighborhood a kind of winder wonderland look. It was also the perfect type of snow for snowmen and while no snow statues were erected anywhere in town on my part, I did seriously think about it.

NC