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.
Today was it was about as hot as it gets in the East Bay, which is around 90 degrees. I’m spoiled by the weather the rest of the year in Oakland (I strongly believe that 75 degrees is the warmest it can get while still being civilized) and I abhor turning on the AC in my car. It’s actually a continuous source of marital strife, believe it or not.
In the midst of this sticky, three-shower day, I met up with my strategic planning group for my Information Organizations and Management class at a cute cafe in Alameda with a patio out back. This was our fourth in-person meeting, and turned out to be a nearly three-hour session to wrap up our 28-page plan and 24-slide Power Point. Luckily we are all on the same page, so to speak, when it comes to being anal retentive about formatting, so none of us minded going through both documents, page by page, aligning bullet points and making sure punctuation was consistent. This must be a common trait among future librarians, because I run across this kind of manic perfectionism a lot in my fellow classmates. We’re not snobs; we just prefer to be correct.
Now that we’ve turned in our strategic plan and I’ve presented on my research paper for another class, it’s smooth sailing for the last few weeks of the semester. I have a twelve-page final for my Info Retrieval class, but that kind of thing is just a matter of doing the reading and coming up with some thoughts about it. I have to finish my 20-page research paper, but luckily I was so freaked out about preparing for the oral presentation aspect of it that I’ve practically written the entire thing already. After that I have one more eight-page paper, and I’m done with my first semester of library school! I’m looking forward to learning some Perl this summer in my Advanced Information Tools class. We’ll see if this English major has a tech side.
I was a little pissed at first that I could only register for one class this summer (due to budget issues, they are offering very few classes). However, I realized that this will be the first summer in FOREVER that Ted and I have both had ‘off.’ After my friend Anna’s wedding in July I’ll be joining Ted in Montana for a few weeks. Hopefully we’ll get to take the dogs on a backpacking trip. Maude’s already got one of these, and she’s dying to pack it with kibble:
At the very least, we’ll have to use it on a hike in one of the many unbelievably scenic locations minutes from my in-laws’ home. Yes, due to unemployment, this will be a ‘real’ summer for me, almost like the early teenage summers before I started working summer jobs. I plan to read, possibly get my old video camera back in commission and make some movies, and get in amazing shape. Hopefully in Montana I can trade my hand weights in for hikes, swimming, backpacking and trail running.
Happy new president day!
Though watching the dogs run through the snow kept me entertained for most of the nearly two weeks we spent in Bozeman, we also spent the time cross country skiing (me and my husband), downhill skiing (me and my father-in-law, who is such a badass that he takes the lifts that require you to carry an avalanche beeper – I stuck to the easier stuff), visiting my father-in-law’s farm and seeing his horses, and generally hanging out in my in-laws’ cozy abode.
The farm. Trooper and Jewel have dozens of acres to roam around on. Apparently the few feet of snow doesn't bother them.
My in-laws' cozy place, nestled in among the trees. The larger building is the shed; the smaller one is the actual house.
Trying to stay warm at Bridger Bowl
Having too much fun on my FIL's new snow mobile. We tipped over moments later.
Santa brought antelope steaks
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.
I’m back in the Bay Area after a month of being mostly on vacation. The last half of December was spent in chilly but gorgeous Bozeman, Montana with my husband’s family, while the first half of January was spent closer to the equator in Panama with my friend G. Both trips were a blast in their own separate ways, and I’ll post more in-depth accounts soon, but for now, here’s a taste of how I’ve spent the last month…
My father-in-law's horses at his farm
Cross country skiing behind my in-laws' house in Bozeman
Making friends with the beach dogs of Panama
Just one of many ridiculously idyllic scenes we stumbled upon
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.