Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful


             This year I've participated in what seems to have become a social media tradition. For each day of November, I wrote a FaceBook status describing something I was thankful for that day. Some days the post was long and meaningful, being thankful to have a loving supportive partner or being on a sports team that has encouraged my personal growth. But some days were simpler, like being thankful for my new tires after a big snow or at the end of a long stressful day being thankful for my hot tub or new pajamas. I typically write my post each evening so that I can reflect on the day and write about what I had appreciated most. There have only been a couple of days when I struggled to find one good thing, but there was always something there. I've made sure to pick a new thing each day. It was uplifting to see that I could recognize the good there is in my life, even after a crappy day. I've also really enjoyed seeing others posting what they are thankful for. It's inspiring to see my friends finding joy in their lives and realizing how similar we are, even at our most different. My friends are thankful for a nice glass of wine, a good meal, their child getting over a cold. Yet what I've noticed just as much as those posts are the people who aren't participating and instead are posting their regular updates, complaining about having a cold or a sore back or being called in to work on a day off. It's funny that I always can think of a response like "Be thankful that you have a job to be called in to" but I rarely share my opinion because I know it likely won't be appreciated. I wish I could help those people see the silver lining but I know from my own past that no one can force you to see it until your ready, and some people never do.
         So in this season of gratitude, here are some photos of the things I am most thankful for this year: My partner, my dogs, my roller skates, the beautiful place where I live and amazing home cooked meals.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just The Sheets

           One of my coworkers has recently moved here from the south. Talking with her has me remembering what it was like to make that transition, as I moved here from North Carolina five years ago. One of the things that took some getting used to was how much “stuff” you need. If you want to be active and do fun stuff outdoors, you need a lot of gear. I think it's especially true for women because nine months of cold weather is a long time to be stuck wearing just a single coat and hat! When this winter began to set in, I gave her a couple of my older coats and a pair of like new hiking shoes that hurt my toes. My new friend has been very appreciative of my hand me downs. I’ve gotten a lot of joy out of sharing now only my things but my experiences.
            Over the weekend I went into my storage closet to dig out some sheets to give her for her new guest bed. I had a full bed when I lived alone but got rid of it when I moved in with my boyfriend and we now only have queen mattresses. I’ve boxed up a lot of my things left over from my single days that I don’t have use for but haven’t wanted  to get rid of. Initially I was glad that I could pass on my nice comforter set but as I pulled it from its box, I remembered how much I like it and a dreadful thought came to me: What if Reggie and I split up and I have to live by myself again? I was flooded with the memories of living on my own after my divorce and how proud I was of myself as I bought myself new things and made a life on my own. I was overwhelmed by a sense of panic: I don’t want to go through all that again!, I don’t want to get rid of my things! I love my things! Panic!
            “I can’t decide what to do about my sheets”, I said to Reggie sheepishly as we folded laundry together later in the evening.  He looked puzzled. What didn’t I know? Either I give them away or I don't, right?  So I explained myself: I have X number of sheet sets, dust ruffles and comforters. We have no use for them right now and I want to help my friend by giving them to her “But what if I have to live along again someday?” I sniffled, “I’ll want to have my things.”
            No amount of comforting from my boyfriend could ever convince me that I’ll never be single again. No one knows for sure what’s going to happen. I understand that and I honestly think I’m okay with it, as much as one really can be with the ever looming sense of the unknown.
            It’s just amazing to me how much emotion can be entwined with the objects we hold dear. Sure it’s a bedding set that can be easily replaced. But what it represents to me is so much more. So much history and it makes me feel better  to know it’s tucked away. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Welcome Back, Motivation

     It's obvious that I haven't updated this blog in quite a while. I feel the need to clarify that it hasn't been for lack of wanting on my part or even lack of ideas. In fact, I think about writing a lot, every day. It's the time to do it that I've been lacking lately. Or rather, the ability to prioritize my time so that I do some writing each day. I enjoy writing a great deal but I've always felt like conditions have to be perfect in order for me to be productive. I want to feel inspired then sit down at a nice clean work space and write a great piece start to finish. This is a fantasy, I realize that, but for some reason I haven't found a way to regularly work writing in to my routine that feels good to me.
     A few days ago I went to see my favorite author, David Sedaris, give a reading. His writing is what I aspire to. I've read all his books and listened to them on audio. I get my hands on anything that he writes and watch any interview he gives. I've had the tickets for months, held to the front of my refrigerator by a bright shiny magnet. I knew he'd be signing books at the event so my favorite paperback had been on the coffee table awaiting the big day. I'd been wracking my brain trying to come up with a whopping compliment to deliver. I sprang out of bed that morning like a kid at Christmas and all day long I chuckled to myself imagining all the witty banter I would exchange with my idol. I got to the venue early and shot straight to the signing line, scoffing internally at the comments I overheard from people who clearly don't know David Sedaris as well as I do and certainly haven't read all his books as many times as I have. Finally, my turn came and there I stood there in awe, not able to complete a single sentence. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm rarely ever at a loss for words, yet I nodded my head like a bobble head doll and could barely manage simple responses to his attempts to chat with me. He took some markers out of a ziplock bag and did a one of a kind drawing for me: the bleeding severed arm of a snowman. I took my book back and immediately clutched it to my chest as I sputtered out a thank you. I've met my favorite musician, plus plenty of others, comedians and even an Oscar nominated actress and managed to have conversations and not appear starstruck. This, however, was the first time I met someone famous who is doing something I want to do, who is living out my secret dream. There are so many things I'd love to ask or talk about yet I couldn't think of a single one.
     After the reading, the house lights came on and there was a Q & A session. Thankfully other people had the wherewithal to ask the questions I wish I had thought of. I leaned forward in my chair, trying to soak in as much of his knowledge as possible. He talked about how one of the stories he had read us was in its 19th draft and I nodded, thinking what an important fact that is for someone who expects to write something perfect in one sitting. "I get up every day and I write", he said "That's all I've got going for me." I've gone over that evening in my head over and over, trying to take in as much as I can from the experience and it's that line that has stuck with me the most. Get up every day and write. I can do that!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

I'm not ashamed to say that my dog Ritz is not a normal dog. His guardian breed instincts, combined with the fact that he grew up in a house full of cats, often result in odd behaviors. This is a perfect example of how he will do pretty much anything he has to, to be able to see out a window. We refer to him as "the neighborhood watchman" when he is in this position. You can rest assured that no solicitors make it to our door undetected.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Big

I usually like to choose photos that are meaningful to me or have an interesting story. This one is neither but it's fun! This is a picture of me with a giant stuffed moose in Cost-Co last winter. At the time I had a co-worker who loves moose so I knew I had to share this find with her. I had my boyfriend take the photo, much to his embarrassment, in the middle of the store, and my co-worker said she squealed with delight at the sight of me with this big guy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

       When I saw this week's topic, this photo came to mind immediately. It was taken a couple of summers ago on an awesome summer day when I had brought home a blue plastic swimming pool for Ritz and we were splashing around in it. I've always thought that if dogs truly can show emotion, this is a perfect example of a smiling happy face. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Little Bit Of Relief

     Earlier this week we received our first snow of the season and I'm pretty sure I heard the entire state of Montana breathe a collective sigh of relief. It's not that I'm in a hurry for winter to get here, but we've had a particularly hot dry summer that resulted in a dangerously long fire season. While the sudden drop in temperature takes a while to get used to, it's nice to have a change of scenery and wardrobe. It's time for jeans and hooded sweatshirts, almost time for hats and gloves. It feels good after several months of wearing out the same few pairs of shorts and t-shirts. I really enjoy this brief time of year when there is snow on the mountains but not yet here in the valley. The white mountains look stunning contrasted against the sky and dried grasses. In just a matter of weeks it will all be white and stay that way for what will feel like forever and then we'll be anxious to see the grass again in the spring. I enjoy living in Montana more than I ever thought I would. While the weather can be harsh, there is always a change to look forward to.  The mountains may stay the same but they always look different to me, some days hidden by the clouds or snow capped & bright in the sun. I never get tired of looking at them.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

About three months ago I joined a roller derby team. I was looking to enrich my life, round it out a bit. I needed something in my life that wasn't my job or my home. It's something that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember but I never thought I had it in me and didn't know how to go about getting started. This past spring, the universe starting sending me little messages and I decided I was going for it. So I talked to a couple girls who are on the team, checked out a practice and then signed up. In just a short time, roller derby has pushed me and challenged me more than anything else ever has. I've never been an athlete, never played a team sport. But I do now. It's been a bit slow going. I've watched some team mates breeze past me to pass the skills tests and move on to advanced levels but I'm still chugging along, and I know I'll get there when the time is right for me. I have an entire new group of friends, a new skill set and a new wardrobe. It's all mine alone and has already made me a stronger person in so many ways. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

When I was first learning to ski, there was a day when I was riding the chairlift alone. As I took in the scenery a thought occurred to me "Oh this is why people want to live here and do this". Skiing is an exciting, invigorating sport but it's punctuated by moments of stillness and quiet. Even if I spend the day skiing with friends, there's still an independent, solitary element to the activity. There's nothing else quite like it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Messy Pets

        A long time ago, I resigned myself to the belief that I would either have nice things or pets but not both. I don't believe this is true for everyone but it has been for me. I wouldn't say my house is a pig sty by any means but it definitely isn't a neat, tidy place all the time. "Lived in" is what I like to call the look.

       We currently have five pets, which I will admit puts us a bit above my comfortable maximum. Some days are definitely more challenging than others, but I truly believe animals find us for a reason and these creatures all need to be with us right now. Between work and life, sometimes it's hard to find the energy to sweep the floor again immediately after the dogs drag in dead grass, and I often avoid sitting on the floor while wearing dark pants.

       How would my life be different if my car seats weren't covered in dog hair but I'd taken all my road trips alone? Sure the couch wouldn't have dents but it'd probably be a pretty lonely boring house most of the time. For me, it's more than a fair trade.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

I've often joked that in my next life, I want to come back as a dog with a life as sweet as the one Ritz has. This photo was taken on an afternoon when I was asking "Where's the dog?" and finally found him sound asleep like this.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

This spring was the second time I've run the same 5K race that takes place just outside the borders of Yellowstone National Park. It's a challenging course but I enjoy running it because the views are amazing and quite honestly it makes me feel strong and very proud of myself. I love this photo because it places something sweet and simple, my boyfriend pinning my number on to help me prepare for the race, against the historic Roosevelt Arch in the background. It's ordinary yet scenic at the same time. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

This is one of my favorite photos of myself. It was taken a few years ago at the Columbia River in Washington state, when I took a trip to see Dave Matthews Band at The Gorge. It's fitting for this challenge because it represents to me a time when I did something sheerly for my own enjoyment. At the moment this photo was taken, I was feeling pure joy, far free from my day to day life & obligations.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few Of My Favorite Things

     I have a large tattoo of a goldfish on my left arm, an oranda goldfish to be exact. People often ask me "Why a goldfish?" and my answer is always the same "Because I really like goldfish". I've liked them as long as I can remember and had many as a kid. For the past 12 years, I've had a tank of goldfish at all times, in every place I've lived, sometimes a small 10 gallon tank in a studio apartment, currently a 75 gallon in my living room. Watching the fish swim often provided me with more entertainment than prime time TV. They've been a constant in my life and a source of joy.

 I've loved rainbows ever since learning about ROY G BIV in grade school. I think it was one of the first times I realized that I enjoy science. I'm sure I've seen more rainbows in the years I've lived in Montana than I have in the rest of my life combined. Each one is amazing and beautiful, no matter how faint or small. I almost always run outside to look and usually take a picture.

I remember having strep throat at Easter as a kid and being devastated because my throat was so painful I couldn't even eat one single jelly bean. I'm convinced I have a chemical addiction to sugar but I've never been motivated to do anything about it because I enjoy candy so much. All through high school and college, classmates would whisper "Pssst...Ramona, do you have any candy?" because they knew I'd have something stashed away in my bag. Same goes for my desk drawer at work now. My boss' three year old daughter is even wise to me "Mommy, I want some candy" she says when she's in my office. We're pals. I've definitely scaled back as I've gotten older. If I'm consuming the extra calories, I want to be sure it's worth it. That means no yellow or orange candies and no dark chocolate.
This is me eating the "world's longest gummy worm" in Las Vegas a few years ago.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Seriously, where's the fire?

        Our most recent winter here in Montana was unusually mild and we all knew what that meant. We talked about it everywhere; with clients at work, with strangers in line at the grocery store “We really need more snow or we’re going to have horrible fires this summer”. Now here we are at the beginning of September, still experiencing one of our worst fire seasons in recent years. I certainly haven’t seen anything like this in the five years I’ve lived here.  I know there are other places that have had much worse fires than ours this year but really when it's the area that you live in and love and people your know being displaced, it's always terrible.  Thankfully the towns where I live and work haven’t been touched by fire but many people who live outside of the towns have been evacuated along with many poplar recreational areas. For the last couple weeks, I’ve gone about my regular routine while the air smells like a campfire and the smoke is so thick I can’t see the Bridger Mountains from my house one some days. There have been warnings that it isn’t safe to exercise outside and school children are being kept indoors for recess. Some days it’s hard to go about my normal business knowing how much damage is occurring and thinking of all the firefighters who are working around the clock to keep our towns safe. And even though I know my home is safe, it’s still a bit unnerving to be driving home and see something like this

Or to get of the interstate, look back toward Bozeman and see this

        I know that wildfires are a part of nature's cycle and a part of living in Montana. Other parts of the country have their own risks like tornadoes or earthquakes. I lived in the south for many years and experienced hurricanes but this is a little different. With a hurricane you have warning and then not much to do but get ready and wait it out. Here, it's a little different. Often I'll we'll arrive at work in the morning literally asking each other "Where's the fire?" and determining whether or not we have anything to worry about. Then we just wait, keep informed and hope for rain (without lightning). 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

      Winter in Montana can be beautiful and enjoyable but it can also feel overbearing and endless at times. This photo is a perfect combination of all of the above. Sometimes on a frigid snowy day it can be hard to tell where the earth ends and the sky begins.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong

          I’m pretty happy that this week’s photo challenge allows me to use a photo I took quite a while ago and have been holding onto for an opportunity like this. Winter often comes early in Montana and in October 2010, I left work one evening to find this on my car’s windshield

           I thought it was a joke, likely played by my roommate at the time, mocking my interest in younger men. Then I looked around and noticed every single car in the lot had this same ad tucked under a wiper blade.  I’ve never heard anything else about this “business” but I really think that if there is a wrong name for a business, this is it!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

That's Not Fair

         Last month, on a hot dry Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend and I went to our county fair at my request. I don't exactly have a reason for wanting to go to the fair other than to take in the sights, sounds and smells. It's also a great excuse to eat terrible food and attempt win a prize that you have no need for. I enjoy the fair atmosphere mostly because it reminds me of all the fairs I went to in my early teen years in Pennsylvania, when it was one of the few times I was allowed to roam around unattended with my friends.
        Reggie and I shuffled around the dusty fairgrounds alternating an exchange of "What do you want to do?" "I don't care, what do you want to do?" We ate corn dogs, brats and ice cream. Then, as we got to the farthest most end of the midway, there was a big colorful exhibit with flapping banners and a recorded carnival barker calling everyone to see the "great freaks of the world" and I saw this 

       There is a part of me that is perpetually immature so I snickered "Hey, I want to see that", not being serious. But my normally squeamish boyfriend was actually quite intrigued by the promise of a demon's skeleton and multiple two headed creatures. I typically have the stronger stomach but am easily scared by creepy things or gory images. I wasn't so sure about this. We paid our $2 a piece and entered through the thick yellow canvas flaps. It actually wasn't scary, as I had feared. There were a few pens holding live animals that had extra legs and some tanks of turtles with two heads but they didn't appear to be suffering. The rest of the exhibit was creatures in formaldehyde or taxidermy mounts to show off their grotesque features. I had made it through and was peering into the last turtle tank when a nicely dressed man in a bowler hat approached us and invited us to join a few other people at a small stage near the tent's exit. He started to speak and I realized "Uh oh, something creepy is about to happen here" and tried to dart for the exit. Reggie squeezed my hand and tried to convince me that it would be fine but as soon as I realized the guy was going to "swallow fire", I hid my face in the back of Reggie's neck and didn't look up until it was over. Apparently he took what looked like giant cotton swabs, lit them on fire and put them in his mouth. To me, that is much creepier than a mutant sheep with six legs. I joined in the polite applause and scooted out of the tent. We made a couple more laps around the fair grounds, I won a stuffed dog by throwing darts at balloons, and then we headed to the parking lot. Fair experience accomplished!
         For me, the fair is about having fun and feeling like you've escaped every day life for just a little while. I'll look forward to the fair when it arrives again next year, but I'll skip the freak show. 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

       Last year, my boyfriend and I went a bit overboard in our excitement to have a large garden. We started planting seeds in early March when it was still cold and snowy. We provided artificial light and tended to the seedings daily. It was a lot of work and we couldn't wait to get them outside. Our intention was to spend Memorial Day weekend transplanting our young plants and establishing our garden, but in typical Montana fashion those three days were gray, rainy and chilly. So what we ended up with were couple hundred small plants covering every flat surface in our home that got direct sunlight until mid June when we were finally past the danger of frost. This photo shows some tomato and corn plants in my laundry room.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

    I didn't fully understand "purple mountain majesties" until I moved to Montana. I live very close to the Bridger Mountain range and even though I see it all the time, I'm constantly amazed by the beauty of the mountains. I took this photo one evening early this year as I was walking in my neighborhood and feeling particularly stunned by the scenery.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Write It Down

          Today I did something that's been on my mental to do list for about a year; I wrote a letter to a friend I've fallen out of touch with. Yes, I wrote an honest to goodness letter by hand. I even had to dig through my desk to find my official writing tablet. It felt good. It reminded me of when I was in high school and moved out of state, my friends and I wrote long letters back and forth for years. Then came email and the internet with all of it's mixed blessings. I'm thankful for social media because I'm in touch with many awesome people I wouldn't know anymore otherwise. But sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the over sharing that occurs on FaceBook and Twitter. Although the recipient of the letter is my friend on FaceBook, I knew a hand written letter was the way to go to properly express my feelings. It's gotten me thinking about who else might appreciate a handwritten note (my mother for sure!). 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

      I like to play a game with my dog that I call "Let's See What Ritz Will Get Into". My boyfriend jokingly calls it cruelty. Usually it's boxes, suitcases, once a gigantic laundry bag. It makes for some pretty memorable photo opportunities. It was hard to choose a favorite but this was probably one of the funniest things he's done. Being a Shar Pei, Ritz has skin issues and so I feed him high quality food with supplements. I had a roommate who fed her dog a different, likely better tasting food and this empty bag was sitting in the living room waiting to go out with the trash. At least we thought it was empty but there were a few delicious morsels left and no matter how far back in the bag I pushed them, Ritz would scoot in to get them.

A Good Find

    One of my favorite summer hobbies is yardsaling. I've taken to getting up early on Saturday mornings, spending an hour or so cruising the neighborhood with a mug of coffee looking for treasures. This past weekend, I came across this gem for fifty cents.
      I snatched it from the pile immediately, glancing around to be sure no one else was scoping it out (they weren't). I had this book as a kid and I absolutely loved it. The most beautiful thing about this find is that I had recently been telling my boyfriend about the book and when I looked it up online, I found copies in good condition ranging from $25-$40! I rushed home to share my joy and he patiently sat through a complete reading. It's the story of Louis Pasteur inventing the rabies vaccine. This drawing of an infected dog was always my favorite page in the book.

       Perhaps this is where my passion for veterinary medicine started?

I've actually bought several books from my childhood at yardsales. It's hard to pass on them when they're so cheap and evoke such strong emotions and memories. It's interesting to look back and wonder if these books helped shape who I am or if I was drawn to them because my interests were already there. Either way, I'm thrilled to have this one for my collection and I'm looking forward to Saturday morning!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sorry For Slacking

I haven’t been good about posting entries lately.

As much as I enjoy writing, it’s still something I feel I need to practice. It’s just like physical exercise, only for my brain. I’ve found that the more I write, the more ideas I have, the better I am and the more motivated I become to write. It’s a nice cycle. If I don’t have enough time or I’m too tired and I try to force it, I’m completely worthless. Similarly, when I have a phase such as I’ve been in lately, where I don’t have much spare time, I get out of the habit of writing regularly and I have to start the cycle all over from scratch.  So here’s hoping I can stay in shape this time!

I missed posting last week’s photo challenge, which was dreams, simply because I had a busy week and forgot to post. So here’s the photo I had chosen.

Clouds like these often inspire me to day dream and take some time to calm my mind. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement

         My dog, Ritz, is a Chinese Shar Pei  so he has an excessive amount of skin and wrinkles. Because of this, he often does what I call a "full body shake" when he gets up from resting, as if he needs to get his skin back into the proper place. It's a flurry of noise and motion. This photo captured Ritz "mid shake" in our back yard.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting Moment


             Two summers ago, I traveled with my boyfriend and two good friends to see Dave Matthews Band in Idaho. It was the first time any of them had seen the band with me. The whole trip was a pretty trying experience for us but once we got into the venue all the hassles went away. This was the first time I'd ever seen the band in a general admission setting and the closest I'd ever been to the stage. My friend Jake took this photo as he stood behind me and that's my arm in the air. I love this photo because every time I look at it, it brings back the sheer joy I was feeling at that moment.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Something To Think About

            Last weekend I went to see “Seeking A Friend For the End of the World” and I’m still thinking about it. It was by far my favorite movie I’ve seen in a long time and that says a lot. I thought it was an absolutely beautiful film, so much so that I’m tempted to go see it again which is pretty rare for me.
            The funny thing is, when I told my boyfriend I was still thinking about the movie almost a week later, he said “So am I…” and looked a bit nauseous. He liked the film but it affected him in a very different way.
            The premise is: there’s an asteroid approaching Earth and everything will be destroyed in three week’s time. The movie counts down over those 21 days showing mankind’s true colors, in my opinion. The characters are fantastic and the story is lovely, considering the circumstances. There are some great moments of humor as everyone tries to make the best of their last days. Of course you can’t help but wonder what would really happen in that situation, and I think that’s what makes my boyfriend queasy. It’s not a fun thing to think about or to watch other people deal with, even in a fictional setting. It is not a feel good movie, but that’s what I like about it. I think it was a pretty bold move to make a movie like this and I’m glad they did. Instead of making me feel scared or ill, it kinda woke me up a little bit and it really has me thinking about things I had never considered before.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Create

          Initially I drew a blank for this challenge and wasn’t sure I had a photo to use. When I got to thinking, I realized that if there’s one thing we’re good at creating in my house it’s lovely meals. My boyfriend is what I call a “food snob” and he loves elaborate fancy meals. Lucky for me he likes to cook them as well and we are often trying new recipes and taking photos of our (more like his) creations.
            Last spring when his sister graduated with her masters degree, she wanted a home made sushi meal as her celebratory dinner. The two of them spent several hours in the kitchen preparing all the food and it was a lovely family meal. I was tasked with setting the table so I feel like I can take a little of the credit for the creating this time!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stop To Eat The Yogurt

I have a confession to make: I’ve acquired a new obsession. I’ve only recently been introduced to the phenomenon that is U-Swirl Yogurt and now I can’t stop thinking about it.  My friend Sophie took me there for the first time last month and I dreamt about it for the next two nights. The concept is simple, it’s a frozen yogurt restaurant where you serve yourself and pay by weight.  It’s a bright, clean, minimalist set up. There are about a dozen different flavors lined up on the wall, each with a shiny silver lever for dispensing. Then there’s a looong toppings bar with anything you could ever want to top your dessert with (and some things you may not-candy rocks?) and at the end there’s a rack of syrups for drizzling. I’m not exactly sure why, but the whole thing brings me a great amount of joy.
Earlier this week, after a particularly rough day I decided to treat myself to a solo trip to U-Swirl on my way home. I sat quietly in the sun enjoying my creation and it was honestly a healing experience.


My "Buy 9 Get One Free" punch card is almost full. Each time I go, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for why it was okay to spend $5 on dessert in the middle of the day. Frozen yogurt is good for you, right? Plus I always put some fruit on it and that’s healthy. I like it to think I’m motivated to work out after I eat it but it’s actually usually a relaxing experience that doesn’t really motivate me to do much at all. I like to think that maybe U-Swirl is The Universe’s way of telling me to stop and take a break when I need it! I guess I’d better listen!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

              This is hands down my favorite photo of my pets. It was taken last summer when Jelly was still a young kitty. My boyfriend and I had been watching a movie and when we got off the couch and turned on the lights, this is how the pets were laying. They didn't even move when I got up for my camera. I love this picture because it is not only unbelievably cute but it really displays the rare bond that these two creatures share.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Friendship

            This week’s subject has proven more difficult than I expected. Initially I thought it was a no-brainer. Because I’m an only child my friends fill many roles for me. I have a few friends I’ve known for many years and by now our bonds feel much like what I imagine having a sibling would be like (in fact, I often refer to my friend Jake as “my brother from another mother”). I have many wonderful photos of me with friends but as I scrolled through them all I realized that the most important moments of our friendships are not ones that are typically photographed. When I lost my job a couple of years ago, my close friends rallied around me in a way I had never imagined. I couldn’t have made it through that experience without them but it’s tough to capture that in a photo. So while thinking about why I love my friends, I remembered a text picture that I received from my friend Melissa a couple months back.

            Of course this isn’t very significant without a back story, but that’s what’s so special about friendships. This wine comes from the winery owned by Dave Matthews (I happen to harbor a borderline obsessive love for Dave Matthews). I had a difficult time finding his wine when it first came out and in fact was able to get some at Target thanks to Melissa telling me she had seen some there. On this particular day, Melissa had seen the wine on sale for a price that she believed was actually a mistake and was giving me a heads up so that I might be able to get some. This sweet friend of mine has two beautiful little children plus a husband so I am sure that her time at the grocery store is not leisurely. When I saw that she had taken the time to take this photo & text me, I was touched and I remember thinking “Now that is friendship”.    

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Recent Guest

         Recently I was happy to have the chance to participate in a pretty cool project. I have a FaceBook friend who is an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania. Several months back, she asked me if I'd be willing to have a "flat visitor". Her students had apparently been reading Flat Stanley books (click here if you don't know the story of Flat Stanley) and had created flat versions of themselves to mail to various locations. As the recipient of a flat student, my job was to show them around a place they'd never been and document it with photos I would then email to the teacher so the real student could see their travels.
          I was very excited when Flat Katie arrived but quickly realized it would be difficult to find the right times to take her out and about due to her size (she was almost as tall as me and had long limbs that like to flap in the Montana wind!). I managed to take her hiking once

and for a walk in our neighborhood

        I finally sent Flat Katie home shortly after Memorial Day and was pleased to hear the kids had enjoyed the photos and the letter I had sent. It was fun for me to share a little bit of this beautiful space I live in. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

                              This week’s challenge required that I post a photo taken today.

       I took this photo this afternoon on my lunch break while out for a walk. I usually do the same lap on nice days to get out of the building to decompress. This is the view as I turn the final corner to head back to my office. I’ve lived in this town for five years and I’m still regularly in awe of the amazing scenery that surrounds us every day. It’s a reminder to me of why I choose to live here and sometimes I need that half way through a hectic work day!  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer


            When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, the first fireflies at dusk meant school would be out in a few weeks and summer was just around the corner. Here in Montana there isn’t anything quite so clear cut to indicate that summer is coming. In fact, we had temperatures in the 80’s last week and are under a winter storm warning this weekend. There are a lot of things we do here even if the weather isn’t ideal. You can bundle up to go hiking or camping, but there is one thing you won’t do until it’s truly hot and that is go floating. This is a photo I took of myself a couple summers ago after floating the Madison River with some friends. It’s a perfect snapshot of what summer looks like to me now. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Take A Picture

I have a tendency to think about my past and focus on the mistakes I’ve made or things I’m sorry about. It’s a habit I’m constantly trying to kick. Today I was scrolling through photos and I thought “Gosh, I’ve done some pretty neat stuff”.

None of those photos are of a bad memory. Sure, there are some people in those photos who aren’t in my life any more but at the time each picture was taken, we were happy. And even thought I might not have good feelings for that person anymore, I find a little comfort in remembering that I did at one time. It’s a nice reminder that everyone comes into our lives for a reason. Of course there are many people who show up in my photos over & over and I’m still close to. I appreciate these people even more when I look at everything we’ve done together.  And when I scroll through pictures of myself to see how much I’ve changed and all the places I’ve been, it renews my faith in myself and inspires me to be thankful for everything I have right now and keep truckin' through the tough stuff.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hands

One of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had in my life is hand raising kittens. The first one I ever raised turned 10 this year. She lives with my mom and she is a very special kitty. In the years since then I’d say I’ve probably had at least 60 kittens pass through my hands, some staying longer than others, some who lives I saved but also a few I couldn’t.
This photo was taken last spring on the day Jelly came to our home. It documents one of the first interactions between him and my dog, who is always very helpful in the kitty raising process.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

This photo was taken at Fairmont Hotsprings Resort last summer. My boyfriend took me there for a weekend getaway to celebrate my birthday. I had climbed out of the pool to grab our drinks and when I turned back around there he was waiting, making sure my tube didn’t float away. This is one of my favorite photos of him because it reminds me of how thoughtful and kind he is and why I enjoy being with him. We always laugh and have a lot of fun no matter what we do and I think this picture is a perfect example of that.