This summer has been full of ups and downs, but was helped along by the awesome opportunity to spend almost two months in Montana hanging out with in-laws, helping out around the house (as various health crises occured), going backpacking and visiting friends.
Things kicked off in California with a super fun weekend of celebration at the wedding of one of my best friends. All the beauty and good feelings made me want to go back to being engaged and having a whole wedding ahead of me to plan. Perhaps this is because my wedding was over a year ago, and I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be planning.
In Montana, Ted and the dogs and I spent a total of 6 nights in the backcountry, on two different trips. One to the Crazies, and the other to the Beartooth wilderness:
It was a blast to camp at 10,000 feet, and a total kick to have the pooches along. They loooved the tent.
And we put them to work, of course:
I also got to make a visit to my father-in-law’s farm, where he grows native grass seed and keeps his two horses (that’s me, riding Trooper and leading Jewel):
I even managed to finish 3 courses for library school this summer – one in Perl programming (I earned that A-, lemme tell you), an independent research project about emerging careers in library science, and a class about ‘picture books for older readers.’ We’re starting the 2-day drive back to Oakland on Sunday, and fall classes start on Monday. And after months of loafing around, it’s finally time to start looking for a job… if one exists.
This weekend, we packed the dogs into our car and headed down to the peninsula to meet up with some SoCal friends who were in town for a concert. They were staying at a Kimpton hotel down there with their two dogs, so we decided to join them for a night. If you have dogs and can afford a mid-range hotel (they have good deals on the weekends because they serve mostly the business crowd) you’ve got to check the Kimpton hotels out. There were a plenitude of details to warm the dog lover’s heart:And a million other reasons to enjoy your stay, such as free scented poop bags. This was our first time staying at a “luxury” (read: Marriott-like) dog-friendly hotel. There were pups riding elevators and coming in and out of the automatic doors. It felt like we were at some kind of canine convention, except for the fact that there was also a wedding going on that night, which apparently had nothing to do with dogs.
Our pups seemed to make themselves right at home:
Nina enjoyed the hotel-provided dog bed:
The next day, we went over to my old stomping grounds… the hills of Cupertino/Los Altos. All four dogs went for a swim in Stevens Creek Reservoir:
And then Ted and I drove about ten minutes to Los Altos so I could show him the house where I grew up (from 1986-1996):
I like going down the suburbs, especially when it involves hiking, swimming dogs, and visits down memory lane. We’re only an hour away in Oakland, but it feels like such a different world.
This evening was supremely lazy. I started it all off with a late afternoon nap. I am able to fall asleep during the day approximately twice a year, so this was quite a feat. It probably had to do with the fact that I pulled a muscle in my back a few days ago, and sleeping the last few nights has been rough at times, and downright torturous at others. There’s nothing like waking up to muscles convulsing in pain. Thankfully, after two and a half days of not being able to twist at the waist or bend down to pick things up off of the floor, I appear to be on the mend.
I made some amazing kidney bean curry for dinner (kind of a mix between curry and chili), the recipe for which I found over at Smitten Kitchen. Everything that woman cooks/posts about looks unbelievably delectable. I had a bit of a mishap with the green chili I chopped up — I always manage to rub my eyes before washing my hands, but this time it was worse — the whole apartment seemed to fill up with a toxic spicy air. I couldn’t stop coughing and blowing my nose, and my husband sneezed about eighteen times in a row. He actually asked me if I’d used the bear spray indoors (we keep a few bottles around – not for bears but for the crackheads of Oakland). Luckily with windows open and some coconut milk added to the chili, I was able to avoid further pain to the sinuses or taste buds. Paired with some too-sweet-but-tasty cornbread, it was a delicious success.
That was about the most exciting thing that happened all evening. I guess I’m officially old and boring.
We have two dog beds in our apartment, right next to one another, but sometimes Maude and Nina prefer to crowd onto the smaller one. I can totally sympathize: sometimes I want to share my bed and sometimes I just want my own space.
Today is my husband’s 32nd birthday, and since he’s not much of an early breakfast eater, and since I wasn’t going to work today, we had an 11:30am birthday breakfast (he usually comes home during his conference period). I’ve gotta say, I’ve got eggs and pancakes down, and I’m getting pretty good at bacon (though I won’t eat it).
Berry/banana whole wheat pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon (for those who like it).
One of his presents was a t-shirt with this graphic on it that I designed using Picnik and printed through CafePress. He and our dog Maude have a very special kind of love. I was inspired by the “I hella (heart) Oakland” t-shirts that are so popular around here:
The best part of being in Montana, for the dogs at least, was having a huge snow-covered field to play on at any time of the day. Neither of the dogs had spent much time in the snow, so I got a big kick out of watching them run, or in Nina’s case, spring like a deer through it.
The video and pictures below were taken using my mother-in-law’s Lumix, which she told me she bought at Costco for $200. I *adored* this camera and used it to take a bunch of photos and video while I was in Bozeman. Now that my camera’s gone for good (file that under ‘Panamanian misadventures’ – will post on that later), I am considering getting a Lumix once I have the cash. Great image stabilization, great zoom, clear photos.
My husband and I are currently enjoying a real winter Bozeman, Montana, in the house where he grew up. My in-laws’ place is simply awesome – it’s a modest but incredibly cozy 2-story house just outside of town, with land stretching out behind it for half a mile. While someone else rents this land during the summer to grow things, right now it’s covered in a few feet of soft, dry powder – perfect for cross-country skiing or letting the dogs romp around and exhaust themselves.
It took us two and a half days and $1,700 in car maintenance (almost all of which was preventative, done before we embarked) to get here, so we are taking it really easy so far. Amazingly enough, this is not only my first Christmas as a married person, but my first Christmas away from home. Last year was the first time my husband and I spent the holidays together, but we came to Montana for Thanksgiving and had Christmas with my parents. This year we did the opposite, and it’s a lucky thing, as my mother-in-law is currently in the hospital for some complications following a surgery. A cat scan revealed abnormal lymph nodes, so she is getting those tested today. We are hoping for the best, but also anticipating the worst. Christmas revelry takes a backseat to major health issues such as these.
Hopefully though she’ll be home tomorrow and we can celebrate together – my husband, my mother- and father-in-law, and my brother- and sister-in-law. It’s a wonderful change to have a real winter as a backdrop this year. While I feel a tad guilty for leaving my own parents childless this year for the first time (my brother is also spending his *first!* Christmas away from home, visiting his girlfriend’s parents on the east coast), it’s nice to be spending some time with my *other* family. What I’ve found that’s great about in-laws is that they’re family, but they’re *new* family, free from some of the baggage/issues/annoyance I might experience with my own blood relatives. Maybe I’ll change my tune in 15 years, but right now I love my in-laws, and I’m happy to be spending some time in Montana.
I seem to have misplace my camera batteries, but I’ll try to post some Montana photos (mostly snow-covered dogs, I’m sure) in the next few days.