Monday, June 29, 2009

A Squat Is Not a Hunker

More than a century ago, the first would-be settlers arrived in this region, most often by wagon. Sig Nelson is worthy of mention as the first recorded resident of this area, after he drove his herd of cattle in from the Minot, ND area in 1903.

On the North Dakota side, homesteading went fine and dandy. Folks hunkered down on their 320 acre claims and got right to pioneering. Homesteading wasn't legalized in Montana until 1908, so on this side of the line everyone squatted. Until they could hunker.

Squatting - if you illegally occupy land or space that doesn't belong to you, still goes on today, all over the world. An estimated 1 in 7 people worldwide still squat. Back in the days of Westward Expansion, the government overlooked the illegal part, because they badly wanted to settle the West. Since it benefitted them, the government was happy to recognize many squatters as homesteaders.

Mom will be very interested to know that some of the early homesteaders around here stayed during the summer, and quietly departed for the wintertime, thus making turn-of-the-century snowbirds. Mom won't blame them one bit - there's something about 60 and 70 below that really shivers her timbers.

The harsh winters (major understatement) are why I haven't been having enough fun to blog about the last week or so. As with most of the older houses, our paint (pink, yay) is badly flaking. Or at least it WAS badly flaking until I devoted my whole life to scraping away the flakes so we could paint.

We wanted to get it done quickly anyway, but since our homeowners insurance canceled till it's painted, it's urgent for more reasons than simply the fear of giving aesthetic offense to our neighbors. The more I've scraped, the more there's been to scrape, and it all has to be done by hand. One miserable square inch at a time.

Yesterday we started painting, but found that 5 gallons of paint wasn't going to be nearly enough. So after we went to sing at the rest home, and after our friends from church took us out for a fun dinner in honor of our 13th anniversary, and after we couldn't possibly have held one more bite of anything, we went to Wal Mart to get some more paint.

Our quest was doomed from the beginning. On the bright side, I know way more than I want to about "light base," "accent base," "medium base," etc. etc. etc. They didn't have any of the right base to match my beautiful Lemon Grass pale yellow color, so we decided to try the next lightest on the same color card, Custard. Interior instead of exterior. Oops, but at least it wasn't my fault.

The only base left that we could get a couple buckets of was light base. Oddly enough, light base is used for the brightest colors. Think Las Vegas. The only yellow colors I could have gotten made my eyes hurt. Such catchy names as "Buttercup." "Bright Tulip." "Banana Peel." And my personal favorite, "Taxicab."

My friend said I should have picked Taxicab, because it would be so easy to give directions to the house. Yeah, look for the towering glow that reaches to outer space and is frequently mistaken for the Northern Lights. That's us. Can't miss it.

Time to think outside the box. "What do you have in green?" The green choices, though vivid, were still heaps tamer than the yellows. We went with Summer Ivy. Had I been in charge of names, I probably would have called it Wild Mint, but no one asked me. And not being psychedelic was a real plus.

Sadly, the house at this moment is still white and pink and turquoise and brown, since the paint sprayer decided it didn't like me. To add insult to injury, tut tut it looks like rain. Speaking of...the front windows just rattled from a blast of thunder! WOW!!! If only I could see the lightning, but no. My windows are all covered with thick brown paper. Hey, I could always go sit out in the yard in a metal lawn chair. Or maybe not. I know! I'll sit here and watch the storm online!

It beats scraping by a long shot.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fort Mandan

Saturday night, a thunderstorm came through right at sundown. It missed us except for a few sprinkles, passing just to the north. This is the view from one of the famed (and much complained about by Mom) alkali lakes.

Westby does have its fair share of alkaline areas, big and small. (The above lake is huge.) However, I see the farmers plant their crops right up to the very edge, so it doesn't seem to affect the soil too much. And no matter what Mom says, I think the white-rimmed lakes that shrink to dry white patches during the summer, are kinda cute.

To make up for the surplus of alkali, this has turned out to be Land of the Lilacs. I've always been so jealous of Mom's big lilac bush, and even Tina's little one. But this year I got here early enough to catch the tail end of lilac season, and to make a startling discovery. This enormous line of bushes along one side of my house, which I admired all last summer for the luxurious, privacy-enhancing foliage, are really lilacs.

So are the banks upon banks of bushes everywhere, at almost every house here and in Plentywood. Who would've thought lilacs liked such chilly weather? And not only survive, but thrive to the point of being everyone's favorite windbreak? Now, instead of a purple flower envier, I am Queen du Lilac! Not to mention having quite a few chokecherries. (The second part of their name is false advertising, but I hear they make great jam. I'll let you know how that goes.)

So.....last Sunday. When at long long long last the stuff was ready to pick up, it turned out to be a whole bunch more than we planned on. We took the seats out of the back and moved them around, and before it was all done had to strap one of them to the roof. Even in this land of creativity and originality, we were the only vehicle driving down the road with a chair on top.

One of the few good qualities I inherited from my grandmother (not to imply that she had few good qualities - it's just that Tina got most of them), is my ability to pack amazing quantities of stuff into limited spaces. I outdid myself that day. The only bad part was that every time I straightened my back and mentally congratulated myself on a job well done, someone would bring me even more boxes! I rode home with my feet propped up on the dash, since there was nowhere else for them.

There wasn't too much time left before closing by the time we made it back to Fort Mandan. Not the real Fort Mandan, a replica. All the period clothing and artifacts were great!

Just as with the original fort, the replica was three-sided, and made of cottonwood. Two sides consisted of the rear walls of the bunkhouses, and one side was just a tall lonely wall.

Along only one side (why not all three?), punji-stick looking thingys bristled along the top, pointed outward. I don't get that. If attacked, did they just think no one would ever try to get over any side of the fort but that one? Or maybe whoever built the replica just ran out of pokey sticks before they got all the way around.

There's a very good reason why this is a replica, and not the real fort, or even built on the same ground as the original fort. See, by the time the Corps of Discovery got back from - you guessed it - discovering, their cute little fort had burned completely to the ground. And as the Missouri River eroded away the bank, even the sad little charcoal stubs disappeared. The site, wherever it is, is now underwater.

Over the winter, the Sioux Indians threatened to attack. A few bands did try to start a ruckus, but nothing major resulted.

The view if you were with the Corps of Discovery:

The view if you were with the Sioux raiding parties:

Following the short stroll to the fort, we started to sit down and watch the short documentary on the area. I probably would have been able to tell you all kinds of awesome stuff, but part-way through, a tickle on my arm turned out to be a tick. AAAAAAAAH!!!!!!! In my haste to keep it from crawling up my arm, I knocked it on the floor. The carpet, a mottled brown, made a perfect hiding place. We just couldn't enjoy the movie while feeling as if bugs kept crawling up our legs, so we gave up and left.

It's just as well that we did, since only ten minutes remained before the Interpretive Center closed. We took it at a brisk trot, and didn't see nearly everything. Jack really admired the hollowed-out tree canoe.

Even at warp speed, it was clearly a place we want to bring the kids back to. I'll make them pose for pictures with the cradle-board containing a 20-lb flour sack baby.

On the way home, our supper stop was a genuine Mexican restaurant that had live Mariachi music. Amazingly enough, it was hardly any more expensive than Taco Bell. Ah yes, Taco Bell, that place I don't go to any more, since there isn't one. Anywhere. While I'm back in Cali, I'm gonna eat Taco Bell morning, noon, and night. On the bright side, I do have one fast food establishment in Plentywood, about 25 miles away - a Dairy Queen. And a bit over an hour away I can visit Mickey D's and Burger King.

But I digress. This restaurant had a full-color mural of the history of Mexico spread across the walls, from the discovery of the location of Tenochtitlan, all the way to our day. And the chips are free!

On the way home, we went through a bug storm. Too bad for the windshield, even worse for the seat.

To leave you with one final image, let me just say in all honesty, not all of my panoramas have turned out. In fact, only the one panorama turned out, but now that I know how it works, I'll keep trying.

This is definitely panorama country!

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Friday, June 19, 2009

Troglodyte No More

Ever since I first laid eyes on my new bedroom last summer, I've had the itch to paint it. I'm sure the folks who turned it into a cave were very happy with the results, but it just wasn't me.

So after careful removal of all stalactites and stalagmites, yesterday I set out to paint.


Even the ceiling was dark. Once I got it painted white, the room began to look much brighter and less troglodyte-y.

As I was painting the baseboard, a small, crab-shaped, and VERY indignant spider shot out from one of the cracks, sporting a festive glob of light green paint. He disappeared, muttering, and showed back up a while later. Clean...and still muttering.

He was there again this morning, just glaring at me.


This doesn't do the lovely light-green spearmint color justice, but you get the idea.

Now all I need to do (besides pull the tack strips and staples out of the floor and paint it, ok, that's starting to sound like kind of a lot), is to find the perfect curtains so the room doesn't look this lovely and 4 am.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth < - - - still green and white

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beating the Chickens....

...out of bed in the morning! Surely you didn't think I was talking about poultry violence?

Bizarre - that's all there is to it. It is so hard living right on the edge of a time zone. I do mean right on the edge; according to Google earth we are about 300 ft from Central Time. In fact, the kids have plans for New Year's Eve. Right after 11:00 pm our time, they are going to walk the 300 ft into North Dakota, straight into the year 2010. Then they are going to turn around and walk back into 2009 again. Hey, when you're poor you gotta make your own toys!

So there I was, grudgingly getting up. According to my body, which is still firmly rooted in California time, it was 2:00 am. According to my clock, it was 3:00 am. Not much of an improvement. And then, about 30 seconds after we left, it became 4:00 am. Oy!

It was allegedly a business trip to Bismarck, ND, but in Lewis and Clark country there's just no such thing as strictly business. With so much history tucked behind every rock, hill, and the occasional rare tree, side trips are inevitable. Since we were running ahead of schedule, we both coincidentally decided we needed a pit stop...just as we were going by the rest area that also housed the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Back in the winter of about 1805, Lewis and Clark built a small fort, right near a village of the Mandan Indians. Back in those early days, relations with the Native Americans were mostly friendly, so the expedition and the Mandan tribe got along very well.

The sites were closed until later in the day. but even just getting to see the huge 12-foot-tall statues was fun!

As we were to find shortly, just about everything in North Dakota was closed at that time. Due to Blue Laws that are actually utilized, not just sitting idly on the books, nearly every type of business establishment has to close until noon on Sundays. Drug stores and food stores are apparently exempt, since we were able to go to Burger King. But the malls, the stores, almost everything was locked up tight until noon. (The car dealerships had to close all day.) It was like strolling back in time around 100 years ago.

Jack's appointment was at 10:00 am, and we were there an hour ahead of schedule. (I TOLD him we didn't have to get up so early!) All the stuff we needed to pick up wasn't going to be ready for several hours, even beyond our appointment time. We managed to console ourselves with a trip to the North Dakota Heritage Center.

No images of Sacajawea, also sometimes referred to as Sakakawea, (or Sack-wack-ajea according to Devon), are known to exist. Still, the image of of the courageous girl in her mid-teens, carrying her tiny baby on her back, has been an inspiration to artists ever since.

God's amazing providence led to Sacajawea being in place to lead the expedition through the uncharted territories of the west. Born into a Shoshone tribe near what is now Salmon, ID, she was among the prisoners taken in a raid by Minetarees. They were forcibly marched all the way across to North Dakota, not too far from Bismarck. Sacajawea was only twelve.

At the age of 13, Sacajawea was married to Charbonneau, a French trapper. She was pregnant with her first child when Lewis and Clark arrived in the area and hired her husband as a guide. Charbonneau needn't have flattered himself - it was really Sacajawea and her ability to speak the Shoshone language that interested them.

Upon reaching Shoshone lands, Sacajawea shared a joyful reunion with her brother, now Chief Cameahwait, and a dear friend she hadn't seen in many years. Taken along with Sacajawea, her friend was about the same age. Not being willing to submit to capture and lifelong slavery, this brave young girl escaped, making her way all the way home to Idaho - on foot! Even on today's roads, that's over 800 miles. Following the Missouri River, with all its twists and turns, it was much farther.

The museum started with prehistory, North Dakota being very rich in fossils. That scary looking fish thing is a Mosasaurus. Imagine going swimming with THAT in your lake!

It seems like just about everything back then had big horns or big teeth, since if you were very small you were often very lunch.

Native Americans used to catch eagles by hiding in a covered trap and placing a stuffed rabbit on top. When the eagle landed to collect the rabbit, the brave would reach up through the roof of his hideout and grab the eagle's legs. Do you see those hands reaching up out of the roof? Who wants to try it? Any volunteers? No? I can't think why. Eagle feathers were then collected for ceremonies, and the eagle was usually killed.

Food was not always so good way back when. The kids learned to make hardtack from their auntie, and it's not half bad...fresh. Add a few months of poor storage and worms, and it's not nearly as tasty. So I have heard.

Medical care back then was not exactly first-rate, either. This battlefield surgeon's kit has some fearsome-looking gadgets in it, most centered around amputation. That was their magic cure-all. If any part of your body offends you, cut it off!

After a little tour through the children's section, which had displays of toys and clothing from the early 1800's through the present day, we went on to the Cold War wing.

Since I'm old enough to have lived through the end of the Cold War, that was extra interesting. There was a replica fallout shelter, with the items inside coming from an actual shelter built by a local family. And have you ever wondered why they put nearly all their missiles up in this area? I guess I always just thought because it was kinda flat and easy to build stuff. Nope, if the Russians targeted our missile sites, they figured fewer people would get killed in North Dakota and surrounding regions. While that makes more sense, I suppose, than putting them in downtown LA or New York, it must be a bit disconcerting to hear that you're so expendable.

There were old Russian maps of our missile sites, especially heavily dotted in the area we drove through to get there, the keys they would turn to launch the missiles, and diagrams showing the underground facilities the crew occupied while on missile duty. Near each missile site, there was an ordinary-looking house with a bunch more underground stuff. The military first attempted to buy the sites they wanted for their missiles and little houses, and if that failed, would condemn the property and seize it.

It's shocking to hear about that sort of thing happening in America, even within my own lifetime, but in times of great fear, our freedoms can become restricted. (The internment camps during WWII also spring to mind. Members of my extended family spent time there.)

With everything from an Edmontosaurus leg to a 1950's era metal garage, it was sure an educational visit. We hardly minded when they told us our stuff wasn't going to be ready until TWO O'CLOCK?!? Ok, maybe I minded a little. At least all the shops had opened by that time, except of course for the car dealerships, so we kept well-occupied.

That was only the first half of the day. Coming up: Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Friday, June 12, 2009

Meet the Family

You might as well know right from the beginning that our family is just a little weird. In a good way, of course. The weird gene keeps getting passed on from one generation to the next, to the next, to the next. Currently we are at four living generations of weirdness, and proud of it! (Most of us are proud of it.)

~ My husband of thirteen years, minus a couple of weeks. He has spent most of his life in trucking, but has many skills in other areas, as well, like security and executive protection. For all that he tries to pretend like he's normal and the rest of us are the weird ones, he is a perpetual practical joker. Usually it's little stuff, like answering the phone, "Domino's Pizza!", or, "We can't come to the phone right now. Please leave a message, and we'll call you back as soon as we can. BEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!" As you get to know the children, please keep in mind that I contributed only half of their DNA.

Recently, Jack took a class from the National Weather Service so he could become an official spotter. Now he gets to make daily reports at 0700, plus report unusual weather events whenever possible. This led to some unusual stories being circulated at school. The teachers wanted to know, "Did your husband really quit his job and become a tornado chaser?"

~ It's always hardest to write about yourself. In fact, during the publishing process for my first book, I had to write a bio for them to draw on for the blurb on the back of the book. It was so awkward, trying to drum up credibility out of thin air. Finally, I wrote a joking bio that included such phrases as, "Her only awards, she claims, would be in diaper changing, commode cleaning, and the county speed record in vacuuming." Then I wrote the REAL bio, doing my best to sound scholarly...someone with sufficient weight that you would want to read a book by them. Imagine my surprise to receive my first, beautiful bound copies, and then see which bio the publisher had actually drawn from!


That'll larn me.

Writing autobios hasn't gotten any easier. Don't look for Noni Beth: Her Story, Her Words in a bookstore near you - you'll have to wait for the unauthorized biography.

Damon, age 12
~ His first word may have been "Mama", but his first recognizable picture was a tornado. As was his second, third, fourth, and on through his bazillionty-ninety-seventh. Even when he draws other things, there is almost always a tornado in the background somewhere. Still Life on the African Savannah...With Tornado. Eventually he branched out a bit in his interests, which now include hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, lightning, and any other natural disasters. (Ok, very short branches.) And ever since he discovered the amazing combination of baking soda and vinegar, my cleaning supplies haven't been safe.

Christine, age 10
~ Aka Tiggy. She inherited my love of spelling and music, but has her daddy's dimples. (And addiction to practical jokes. It's funny in a pathetic sort of way to hear her answer the phone, "Sorry, *giggle*, we can't come to the *giggle* phone right now. Please leave a *giggle* message...BEEEEPhahahahaha!!!") Overall mellow and good-natured, one of her biggest flaws is sweeping. Moving to a house with almost all wood floors is going to be a challenge for this broom-hatin' girl.

Devon, age 8
~ Words are so inadequate. Calvin and Hobbes? Dennis the Menace? Amateur wannabes. When he was smaller we called him a baby velociraptor. He has grown into some very nice manners, when he wants to use them, but you can tell he's still a wild critter at heart. Thin is an understatement. We call him Long John Sliver. Though very smart, he much prefers physical pursuits to bookish ones. None of us were entirely surprised to hear that he had announced to his teachers, right before summer vacation, "I am not going to school any more! I am moving to Montana, and I will be a farmer!" Got some bad news for ya, Buddy!

Dillon, asleep
~ Still very much a part of our family, our dear little boy is waiting for the resurrection. Stillborn at 20 weeks.

Diesel & Clancy
~ Diesel is our Montana cat who visited California this winter, and Clancy is our California dog who is visiting Montana this summer. At least, that's what he keeps telling us, being in total denial about moving.

Mom & Dad
~ Both now retired, not exactly voluntarily. The company Dad worked for went through a lot of "changes" (a euphemism for "getting rid of all the employees"), and Mom's foot surgery, done to try and keep her off permanent disability, didn't work. Now she is on permanent disability - "differently abled". (I can only say this because I'm safely in Montana at the moment, and she's in California. She still runs really fast despite her injuries; she just can't walk for 12 hours at a stretch.)

Dad is a former engineer, Mom is a former OB RN. Now they are both getting ready to be former Californians. Nobody is sure where they're going yet - just somewhere else. (Pick Montana!!!!!!)

~ A teacher for many years, including 14 years at Hawaiian Mission Academy when Hawaii was still considered a mission field, Grandpa has been living with me full-time for the past 7 or so years. I cared for Grandma until her death at home, in 2003. Now that I'm moving, Grandpa will be living with Mom. He appreciates being able to stay with family, having been unable to live alone for about 10 years.

~ My brother. Computer programmer and gold dredger, not necessarily in that order. Still a California resident, poor thing.

~ Also my brother. Professor of herpetology, recently distinguished himself by his first rattlesnake bite. He may lose his finger yet, or part of it. Teaching a herpetology class in Oklahoma at the time of the bite, he is moving back to Arizona over the summer. They had to consult the doc from Venom ER about his bite, so I feel like I'm basking in fourth-hand fame at the moment.

~ Single adoptive mother of 3, she does an amazing job each and every day. A published author and accomplished musician, she is talented in so many areas. If you need something big done in a hurry, she's the right one to ask. She has a real passion for raising awareness about Reactive Attachment Disorder: it's causes, resulting behaviors, and how to treat it.

John, Laura, and Caleb
~ My nephews and niece. Each one has brought so much to our family. Intelligent, artistic, musical, creative...and they'll be visiting us for much of the summer!

You will meet other family members and friends as time goes on. My brother-in-law and his family live right here in Westby. (They're the reason we even heard of this tiny little place.) Last summer while I was out here, he was a contestant in the first derby car race I ever saw, and even made the finals! He finally had to quit when his car caught a wee bit on fire - for the second time. Apparently they have funny little rules about your car catching on fire more than once per derby. Quotas, maybe.

And wait till you hear what we did Sunday!

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gettin' There

The journey of 1,500 miles begins with a single step... crackers, carrots, a case of water, 15+ cubic feet of clothes, a bookcase, 2 boxes of books, 3 boxes of china, 4 CB antennae, a weed eater, gas can, 6 bottles of root beer, an ice chest, a computer, 2 strawberry plants, one tomato plant, a larg pot with brand new baby zucchini and crook-neck squash plants, a dog, and me. There might have been a partridge in a pear tree in there somewhere, too.

It used to be a lot simpler in the olden days.

The trip was hugely different from what I am used to. Especially since an astute reader will notice that there are no children on the packing list. I'm going to be doing a bunch of interior painting, sans cherubs. (Unkind people might point out that even if I had brought the kids, I would still be painting sans cherubs.) It was so quiet, and I only had to stop every several hours, instead of every several miles.

Just before dark, I paused at a rest area in Idaho, where I was able to see preserved Oregon Trail wheel ruts. Apparently the early pioneers didn't believe in angles. Nope, right straight up the steep hill for them. It wasn't too hard to picture the wagons sliding backwards, perhaps even tumbling back to the bottom. Ok, maybe it wasn't so simple in the olden days.

I spent a cramped and chilly night in the car with the dog, not wanting to bother with a motel for such a few hours. If they'd ever agree to a per-hour rate I might consider it. Then again, any motel charging by the hour is not a place I would want to stay. The rain and lightning woke me up several times, as did the cold. I kept turning on the ignition, letting it blow more cold air into the car, and then turning it off before it had a chance to warm up. Nobody said I was a genius in the middle of the night.

Except for a dead badger, that whole lovely stretch through Idaho and Yellowstone was devoid of wildlife. Oh, and there was also a dead sparrow in my grill. I had nearly given up in despair when I took the Detour to Nowhere. The sign said to go left for the detour, and that the bridge ahead was one-way. I could see that yes, indeed, it was one-way for the oncoming traffic, so I turned left like the sign said to.

It turned out that what the sign really meant was, "Since there is no flagman, and the bridge has narrowed to one lane, take your life in your hands, and when you see your chance, go for it. If you meet someone going the other way, try to squeeze by. You'll probably make it." Maybe all that was too long to fit on the little orange sign. So that is how I ended up taking a wee side trip 10 miles up a steep, winding mountain road, till it dead-ended into a fancy resort lodge.

My sole consolation was that I saw and photographed a cow moose and her brand-new calf. Much of my consolation faded when I viewed the pictures later, and found out that the camera was inadvertently set to "panorama". This meant that, instead of 3 pictures of the moose mama, I had a single wide, sweeping scene of what appeared to be 6 moose, with some rather choppy cabins in the background. Oops.

Sadly, that was not my only detour of the day. In Culbertson, I made another funny little mistake. The sign said,

<-- Wolf Point
Williston -->

I wanted very much to go toward Plentywood, and made the mistaken assumption that it was a left turn. You can see how I could make that mistake, right? Riiiiiiiiiiight???????

Exactly 44 miles later, with no turnoff to Westby, no signs for Plentywood, it finally dawned on me that I was headed into the sunset. Last I checked, that would mean I was going west, not north. And exactly 44 miles later I was back on route again. Hungry, tired, and late for supper. Supper which my beloved husband cooked for me with his own hands. (Thank you!)

He was pretty excited to hear that I had at last gotten to visit the Pictograph Caves just outside Billings, MT. We had driven past many times, but always in the truck so we couldn't go.

Even though I don't totally feel like a resident yet, my Montana license plate entitled me to free admission, which would have been a $5 parking fee otherwise. It would have been well worth it even if I'd had to pay. The 2 caves I saw were beautiful. Pictograph Cave still has remnants of numerous pictographs. (Hmmm - could be why it's called Pictograph Cave, maybe.) Maybe I was too travel-fatigued, but I couldn't find most of them, even with the help of the guide picture. But even I could see the several places where red paint still marks the shapes of some of the pictures.

The other cave I went to, Ghost Cave, is like a mini ampitheatre set into the rock. Two guys were up there talking, and you could hear them all over, just as if they were using mics. When I take the kids by there, I'm going to make them stand up there and sing something loud.

If you want to read more about that fascinating site, which is only 7 miles off the highway, check out their official website. Visit the Pictograph Caves.

After 4 months, I'd almost forgotten what it was like to not have the whole bed to myself, so it was a little surprising to wake up this morning and be...not alone. And for Jack, it must have been a change of pace to be nice and warm all night, without needing any large blanket spread out over his comforter. Excuse me - our comforter. My only complaint is that he somehow lost 2 of the pillows when he brought the bed out from CA. And which 2 pillows did he decide were missing? Yep. Mine.

So now I have arrived, rested up a bit, and tomorrow the work begins.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth