Girls Night in Red Lodge!

In the numerous years that Elizabeth and I have been friends/roommates, we have talked about taking many trips, ranging from as extravagant as Italy to as fun as Vegas to as simple as Bozeman. We have taken none of those (yet). We have always been too busy or too practical with our money. But sitting on her couch the other night, we had had a sudden and random inspiration that an overnight trip to nearby Red Lodge would be a delightful little adventure. And somehow all our usual excuses didn’t deter us, and we found ourselves booking a room for Friday night.

We had our eyes on the Pollard hotel, as A. being pretty awesome historical and B. being situated right in the center of main street. We were sure due to those considerations it would be more expensive and we would actually find ourselves in the Comfort Inn or something, right? Wrong, it actually somehow ended up being one of the least expensive places to sleep for the night, so we got to stay there.

The Pollard Hotel

They have like, 3 separate parking lots each with only about 10 spots in them scattered around the building wherever they could fit them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Lodge is one of the quaintest little towns. It’s a bit of a resort place, due to being so close to the ski mountain, and mountains in general. Stores ranging from rock shops to tea shops to Harley Davidson to Real Estate offices line the main road, and the restaurant selection goes from dive bar to farm-sourced fine dining. It’s an eclectic little mix that’s fun to explore.

I refer to it as Main Street, but I don’t think it was actually called that… Oh! I think it was Broadway?

Half the reason we wanted to stay in the Pollard is because we had already had good memories of the place. One night, at the Christmas Stroll, (I haven’t discussed the Christmas Stroll before, and it’s really deserving of it’s own post. Next year’s, perhaps. Leave it to say that it is AWESOME and has such the perfect holiday feeling to it) we were taking a break from wandering around and, free beers from some store in hand, we sat in the sitting room and chatted with a friend while we warmed ourselves from the chill outside. It was such a cozy, welcoming space, and we knew more time there would be delightful.

So on Friday I picked up Elizabeth and we made the short little road trip up there.

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We were told every room is a bit different. Some don’t even have a view of outside, but instead look down upon one of the sitting rooms.

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The room was a tidy, well organized space quite typical of hotels. The bed was super soft and comfortable. And the desk/dresser was a really beautiful looking antique. Everyone was very friendly. We did take a few moments to figure out how to actually unlock our hotel room door, but it worked in the end and we didn’t have any issues after that. It was just a matter then of setting our overnight bags down and finding somewhere for dinner. We were both feeling like we wanted something a little fancy (All dressed up and ready for a fun night on the town as we were), so we finally settled on Carbon County Steakhouse, a restaurant that’s got a classy, sort of gentleman’s club feel and a whole lot of good food.

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Cheese plates have become somewhat a must-try thing in our circle of friends, and I am certainly not complaining.

We started off the night with a cheese plate and drinks (And warm, yummy, complimentary bread, as well). The cheese plate had some pickled peppers, dried fruit, crackers, olives, and (obviously) various cheeses. Elizabeth and I are neither huge fans of blue cheese, but the chunks that were on the plate we found ourselves gobbling up. It didn’t have quite the strong, sour kick at the end that I often associate with it. The other cheeses were what I would almost describe as a smoked pepper jack, and one with mustard seeds in it. All amazing and delicious. She had the Lemon Ginger Fizz cocktail, with citrus vodka, ginger beer, and rosemary. I had the Buswick martini, which had gin, pink peppercorns, ginger, sugar, basil, and lemon juice. Mine was a surprisingly savory and wonderfully fantastic drink. Hers was a little sweeter and reminiscent of mixing a Moscow Mule with a rosemary mojito (two of my favorite things!). Dinner was a wonderful beef stroganoff (Not pictured, because I was too busy lost in conversation to remember to snap pics). They also have THE BEST after dinner mints, like really fancy Andes Mints.

After dinner (About 8:30/9, by the time we got done) there wasn’t too much going on. The bars were certainly open and hoping, but we weren’t really in the mood for such things. What we really wanted, we decided, was tea. Now there was a very intriguing tea shop just across the street from the hotel, but alas, it was closed already. We decided to ask the front desk man if he could get some for us, and he found some wonderful mint tea that we took to the sitting room.

 

It feels very cozy, and like a den. A perfect place to sip tea for a few hours and relax

 

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Mmm… tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We texted an old friend, studied a book about spying which the hotel had for sale, and just generally chatted about life and work and all the changes that have been happening to our lives and how we were both trying to rise to the challenge. About this time we decided we needed another cup of tea, so we hassled the poor (and cute!) front desk guy to see if he could please get us another? He could indeed! And because we were feeling so crazy and wild this evening, we moved to the second sitting room to shake things up a bit.

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This sitting room has some of the hotel rooms looking out onto it, and had a more open feeling.

This second sitting room in the back of the hotel had a much different feel than the other. This one has a large fireplace reaching up several floors (unfortunately unlit, but I can only imagine the beauty of it in winter!) The room was only half lit at this time of night, which gave us a nice semidarkness to continue  our conversation. It was probably about midnight by the time we finally decided we should call it a night. Up to our cozy room to realize we were VERY tired and to sleep deeply until my alarm told us we might want to actually get down to breakfast if we wanted to actually get breakfast.

 

Breakfast comes with the hotel room, and it was a little more than the classic Froot Loops and toast. It’s a sit down meal in the dining room. Eggs, toast, french toast, pancakes, your classic breakfast items are there for you. I personally went for the Eggs Benedict, because seriously, how often do you get the chance to eat that? Not enough, world, not enough. The hollandaise sauce was perfectly rich and tangy; the eggs wonderfully poached. And it was served with crispy Brabant potatoes (Oh so nicely seasoned with some warm spices and perfect to dip in that extra pool of hollandaise) Totally worth sneaking in there to get, even if you don’t stay overnight at the hotel.

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That Hollandaise sauce…

We wandered around Red Lodge afterwords. Red Lodge is great for window shopping. Firstly, because of all the different shops. Secondly, because it is generally a very expensive town to go shopping in and I couldn’t justify most purchases there. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t fun things to be found. We did find some beautiful and high quality scarves to add to our wardrobes, and I snagged a pair of green earrings that I really loved for quite a good price. Another place to visit is the Candy Emporium, one of those places that has a thousand barrels of candy and you get charged by the ounce. Also, fantastic fudge. It holds a lot of nostalgic memory for me, as we always had to visit whenever we went to Red Lodge. Also, it’s just fun.

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There are lots of cute clothing boutiques to wander through.

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I love random coffee mugs. And I love owls. Unfortunately this set was 50 dollars, sooo… Not today

 

 

 

 

 

 

For lunch we had the idea to stop by a bakery, grab some pastries, and drive out to the creek somewhere to eat them out in the wilderness. We went to Mustang Bakery, which has a scrummy selection of homemade pastries (Scrummy, because I have been watching a lot of the Great British Bake Off recently and that is apparently a British phrase that is now a part of my vocabulary. Think scrumptious). I had a poppy seed ricotta cherry one which was as good as any pastry I’ve ever been pleasured to consume.  We also grabbed some coffee at the coffee shop (A cupcake latte, for me, which was good though I don’t know if I maybe added too many shots to really taste cupcake.)

We drove out to Joliet and parked beside Rock Creek, dangling our feet over the edge of the car and munching on the absolutely divine pastries. Unfortunately our adventure had to come to an end, and homeward bound we went.

Final thoughts on our adventure:

  1. How the heck did it take us so long to actually enact a getaway? It will not be our last.
  2. Red Lodge isn’t that far. You don’t have to go far to have a get-away.
  3. The trip was really not that expensive, all things considered. Less than $200 for a fancy dinner with drinks and appetizers, a night in a historical hotel, spending money on books and scarves and coffee and pastries. Not something to do often, perhaps, but not something that’s impossible to do a bit of budgeting for and make happen.
  4. I am blessed with an utterly amazing friend. We had so much fun, and essentially didn’t stop our stream of conversation from the moment we started to the moment we stopped. That’s not something that’s easy to achieve with someone, and yet we have. It was amazing time to really focus on our friendship and have some quality time together.
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Rock Creek bubbling away

 

An Open Letter to My Father

My father admitted to me the other day that he still occasionally checked my blog for new blog posts. And honestly, my first thought was “Oh, snap!” Not because I care that Dad see this very real side of me here, but because the last thing I thought he needed was my worries added onto his. I did a quick scan of my posts, and sure enough, found my words of worry specifically about him. He has asked if I care that he still reads my blog, and I have assured him I don’t. I was planning on posting something in the following vein even before I knew for sure he would read it, but now I am glad to know he’ll see this, maybe it will unknot some of the tangling emotions I have added to his pile.

Project time! We’ve had a lot of them over the years

Dad,
I love you so much. And I am sorry that you read my worries about you. They came from a mind crowded with a whole bunch of worries of the future, worries about the whole family. Mom was worried about you too, you know. She made me promise to look after you. Made me promise never to forget you. She should have known I would never let our family drift apart, that I would never neglect our relationship. But she loved you, and wanted you looked after. And I suppose I knew I never could do that as well as her, and so I feared. But let’s come back to that later.

In all honesty there have been times in my life when I haven’t felt like we were very close. I NEVER doubted you loved me, and I NEVER doubted that you would do anything to help me if I needed it. But I remember feeling like we didn’t really talk, or converse regularly, and I remember being very frustrated and hurt over it. Then one day Jenna made everyone in the family take the Meyers-Brigs personality test, and you ended up scoring as an ISTJ, which is what I was. There was a light bulb moment when I realized you and I functioned so similarly. We both hold our emotions so deep within us. We both are reticent when it comes to sharing and opening up. You wouldn’t know, but I think that was a major turning point for me in our relationship. I understood you, and understood what you did and didn’t do because I tended to do the same things. And somehow it suddenly didn’t matter that unlike Mom and I who might stay up late into the night ranting or whatnot, you and I had a quieter, less visible relationship, and that was okay.

That doesn’t mean that before that I don’t have the bestest of memories of the two of us. I’ve written to you of those before, if you recall, quite a while ago. I don’t think I even realized back then just how out of your way you went for me. I was thinking just the other day how many wild cat sanctuaries you let me drag you to on vacations. Or how you sometimes let me order dessert instead of dinner. My goodness, you spoiled this crazy cat girl. Teaching me to drive, teaching me to fish, teaching me to be independent and studious and strong. I remember you’d come to tuck me into bed at night and you’d start chanting “Fee, Fi, Fo Fum” just like Jack and the Beanstock. You never could give me a reason why you did it, or why you did it only for me. But I loved it. We’ve worked on so many projects, the most recent of which is your remodeled bathroom. I love that I’m the designated tile picker and how we can just dive into projects together.

You had always struck me as a person who didn’t need anyone but Mom, and I think that was a really sweet, beautiful marriage. And a lot of my worries for you  stemmed from what you would be without her. I was worried that with the one person you confided in and leaned on gone that you would bottle it all up inside. I was worried that as you hadn’t been very social of late (Due to wanting to stay close to Mom), you had developed a habit of it and  would not socialize anytime soon. And all this culminated in me picturing you as very alone, no matter what schemes I tried to form to make it not so.

But with the downward turn of Mom’s illness, that quiet friendship we had seemed to be morphing. We had already shared going to church together without the rest of the family for more than a year, as Christian stayed home with Mom, who couldn’t come. It was a simple pleasure to have that little thing that just the two of us shared, even though it came with the sad circumstances. And with that came a little more conversation into our lives. And I have of recent watched you open up more to everyone. I remember sitting in the kitchen talking to you sometime very early this spring, and having the thought “Is he confiding in me? When did that start to happen?” I have seen you make an effort to attend events and I have seen you hang out with friends and family and not dwell on the past, and it has cheered my soul greatly.

So shorten it all to say that while I won’t say I don’t still worry (I still worry about all the family, after all. I don’t know that that will ever change) I do not have those terrible fears that so beset me when I first wrote them down. And I have always loved you and I have loved the relationship we had, and I love how we have developed a new, deeper one.

I hope this post doesn’t bring you any pain, goodness knows I want to spare you any of that on my account. I just hope that you know that I think you’re going to be alright, as I think we all are. I am looking forward to all the conversations and the adventures we will have in the future. You’re the best of dads.

Love,

Your fellow early morning riser, your fellow quiet person, your Brat girl or Bratoria or whatever form of Brat and my name you can think of (I must have been a really snarky kid for all that), your daughter,

Victoria

 

The Story of the Plastic Cup

IMG_2538On top of the bookshelf in my bedroom, there is a plastic cup. It was placed there the day I moved in by my pesky brother, who set it up there and with a sly smile said “You can’t reach that.” He was right, being a decent foot shorter than him I couldn’t. I probably jabbed him in the ribs and continued hauling and unpacking the boxes that would start my new life in the apartment.

I had made the choice to move out of my parents for several reasons, I suppose. I wanted to be in town, and not 45 minutes away from everything. I was commuting in way too many times a week for that. I was looking at an opportunity to share a place with one of my best friends, and I was excited about that. Though honestly there was just a feeling in my gut that said “you want to do this.” When Elizabeth first pitched the idea to me, offhand, that if I wanted to she would like having a roommate, I at first told her no. I hadn’t considered moving before that, and moving out of a rent free place for a place I thought I’d have to live tightly on and get a second job to manage, add five minutes to my work commute, and generally have a LOT more responsibility than before wasn’t something that made much sense. But the idea stuck, and grew, and I don’t even know when or how anymore but I found myself hauling boxes on a June day. I was excited, I had to take a long walk afterwards because I had all this energy that wouldn’t go away.

That plastic cup was forgotten. I found a temporary second job, worked it for six months, killed a lot of the social life I might have gained by moving and then blessfully realized I didn’t require it to live. In that time I went to Texas and saw Amy, who helped me to decide I should pursue a degree in Paralegal studies and work towards that. I learned so much about myself and my limits. The cup was found at some point in the fall, I think, and I thought about how I should throw it away.

I didn’t. I found, you see, that I am a nostalgic person. That cup was not a cup, it was an item tied to a memory of a distinct moment with my brother. Not a grand moment, not a super special moment, not even a unique moment, as he uses his height to his favor as often as he can. But somehow none of those rational things swayed me to throw it away, and instead I held on tightly to the fond little memory.

It’s been over three years since I moved, and since that cup was placed there. I still think of that moment and smile every time I see it. But I have to throw it away now. I move on Saturday. My darling roommate has gone and gotten herself engaged, and that left me on a search for new lodgings. I’ve found a new roommate, and together we found a new place. It’s bigger, though it doesn’t have the pool and hot tub that have been so nice. It promises to be a new adventure, and I should be excited about that.

I am excited, I suppose. But nostalgia is all about holding onto the past, isn’t it? I don’t know what prompted me to move out of my parents three years ago, because I’m not the person to make such leaps of change with no solid reason. I’m happy for Elizabeth and her new chapter in life. I think Kathy (my new roommate) and I will have some great times of her own. But this era of being roommates with Elizabeth has been so special to me. I have grown so much during this time. I am not the shy, bashful girl I once was.  I love the changes that first move catalyzed in me. It is hard to leave that behind.

But I hold onto the hope this move will bring good changes too. Elizabeth and I went to Relay for Life on Friday. It’s apparently a pretty big deal in Billings – a fundraiser for cancer which goes all night and people walk along the school field track and there are 4,000 candles lit in honor of cancer patients. All in all it was a good event. There was a part of me that struggled a bit, thinking of Mom. I for some reason hadn’t even connected her story to the Relay, though I should have obviously known some memories would be churned up. But it wasn’t bad. I wrote a letter to Amy recently, and poured out a lot of the feelings I haven’t even voiced here. It helped, it really did. I finally got a lot of dark, sludgy emotions out of the pit of my gut and I have felt better ever since. But none of that was the point of this paragraph. The point was, that Elizabeth and I found a soft spot in the warm summer grass and watched fireworks go off. They were some of the best I’ve seen, seeming to pop right out of the dark sky and reaching towards us. And we talked. A really nice talk. We discussed how recently with my college and her wedding we tend to see each other a bunch but not really make time for each other. This event was the first time in a while where we just went out and hung out, just the two of us, making time for each other. And we thought that maybe with us not living with each other, and feeling like we were seeing each other but not, we might actually put more effort into our friendship. We might actually spend more quality time with each other. I certainly hope so, we need to.

I wasn’t quite expecting this move so fast. I was expecting it about a month from now, but you can’t quite make moving work perfectly with your personal schedule. I suppose it’s time to wrap up my time here with a nostalgic bow, to throw away the plastic cup, and make a new move with new adventures, new memories I hold onto just as desperately as I hold onto these. Change is hard for me, and certainly this year, but hopefully I come out of this thinking “I really like the person I’ve become since then”, too.

Family Camping Trip in the Beautiful Rockies

My beautiful Montana Mountains. One of the many places I will always call home.

There are very few years in my life where I have missed a summer camping trip. We usually take at least one, sometime around Father’s day, to unplug and get away from everything for a few days, soaking in the beauty that is my magnificent state. It’s always great, perhaps this year especially of all years. This year was especially a year of calming and healing and growing together as a family, and it was fun and distracting too.

Dad and Christian went up to

Road beyond Absarokee, MT. (Pronounced Ab-Zor-Key for those out-of-staters who will no doubt get that wrong)

the campground on Thursday night, and so I solo drove up directly after work on Friday. The campground chosen was up above the small town of Fishtail, Montana, and a decent 2 hour drive from Billings, but it was a gorgeous one and very worth it. I finished my audiobook What’s Wrong with the World by Chesterton. I disagreed with most of his points, but found them thought provoking and interesting, and a worthwhile read.

 

Emerald Lake Campground

It’s not my first time camping at Emerald. We went as kids. Besides the local reservoir it is the closest body of water to drag our kayaks too. It’s a beautiful lake, with a lot of memories tied to it. Dad told me how his family used to camp out here long before I was born, how they’d always drink Shasta Creme Soda and how jealous his brother would be if we had only been thoughtful enough to bring some creme soda with us so we could send him a picture of us all drinking it without him. (Ah, brothers)

 

Trying to be all artsy and get a picture of my kayak in the water. Not sure it quite worked.

The creek flowing into the lake. With mountains. And clouds. And blue, blue sky.

Dinner was on me the first night, chilli and homemade cinnamon rolls. Yum! Tim and Jenna showed up not too much later, and pitched their camp. We huddled around a toasty campfire and caught up, laughed, talked, and tried not to inhale too much acrid smoke. I crashed with Christian in his tent, and managed not to freeze to death, (Which always comes down to bringing a few more blankets than you think you’d need. I could have used just one more…)

The next day was boating day! Tim and Jenna have a canoe, Christian and I have kayaks, and Dad just got a pontoon boat. After a breakfast of Tim’s camping biscuits and gravy, we took them up to West Rosebud lake, which is right next door. It’s technically a smaller lake than Emerald, but it has more tree coverage and character, so it was a great place to avoid the wind and paddle around the coast.

Dad quickly got a hang of his new water craft.

Me, pre-sunburned because I forgot sunscreen on my arms.

Christian does not care that is not a fishing boat. Christian fishes in any boat.

Jenna and Tim parked their canoe and enjoyed the coast, playing catch with their dog, Paige.

Christian said this hammock was probably the best $80 he ever spent. I agree.

At that point Tim and Christian decided they should paintball in the woods, which would be particularly fun, but I was tired and Dad and I both sunburned. So we headed back to camp and did some reading. I was reading The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor. Her short stories are well crafted and unexpected. Not perhaps the happy feeling at the end type, or even full on twists and darkness like Poe, but a (good) sense of unease and thought. I didn’t read long right then, however, because I fell asleep on Christian’s hammock.

I for sure recommend you go to the mountains with a hammock and take a nap beside a burbling creek. It’s absolutely wonderful.

Dinner was brats (Grilled to get some color and then boiled in beer, chicken broth and onions for 20 minutes, which is perfection, by the way), French Onion dip and chips, fruit salad, and pork and beans.

Dad can be a reluctant selfie participant, but I make him take them anyway

Tim, Jenna, and Christian took the boats out one more time, but I hung back with Dad and we sat on the rock clustered shoreline and watched as they paddled around. He was working on his photography schools, and he was telling me he used to do it as quite the hobby and wanted to get back into it more. I worked on writing a letter to Amy.

Dessert was hot chocolate with Captain Morgan Loconut rum (Tastes like a Mounds bar, YUM!) and s’mores around the fire. I tried a few different types of s’mores for fun. Dark chocolate, white chocolate… all good. BUT! As ingenious a camping discovery as the aforementioned hot chocolate, I used dark chocolate with chili in a s’more. Oh. So. Perfect. S’mores will never be the same again.

We called it a pretty early night, as we were all a bit tired. The next morning we had more awesome breakfast from Tim’s Camp Kitchen, this time bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches with a toasted bagel bun. We really did have quite the awesome menu for this little adventure, didn’t we?

Christian and I took the kayak’s out for one last run in the morning, this time on Emerald. The creek that ran past our campground perfectly poured into Emerald lake, and we simply launched our kayaks into it and rode it down. Getting them back up was harder, and I have the bruise to prove it, but it was very worth it.

We packed up camp, and started the trek homeward. I came home and washed my car, and then crashed and took a long nap. Apparently I had some sleep to catch up on still, or perhaps didn’t do as much catching up as I thought over the weekend. But either way the trip was amazing and fun and relaxing and what I really needed.

Bozeman Again! (This Time for Amy!)

In an unbelievable stroke of luck, I found myself last night in the company of one of my best friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Amy has been having adventures this year, working for a camp out in Idaho. Well apparently this camp has some connection to my beautiful state, because she messaged me telling me she would be in Bozeman for a week and is that perhaps anywhere close to Billings?

Uh, yes. So much yes. We decided Wednesday night would work for both of us, and even though I wouldn’t consider Bozeman close enough to be an evening adventure generally, there was no way it was not going to happen.

I never have enough time with this girl! But what time I do have is always such fun

I rushed out the door as soon as work was over and drove up to Bozeman. The time passed quickly as I listened to G.K. Chesterton’s What’s Wrong with the World. The book is somewhat full of generalizations and some rather dated sentiments, but between those are some really interesting and thoughtful pieces of reflection. Chesterton never disappoints.

Bozeman has a really awesome selection of restaurants.

At about 6:45 I got to Bozeman and picked Amy up at the church she was helping out at, and then we cruised around downtown Bozeman while we debated where to grab dinner. We found a place called Whistle Pig Korean, and with Amy’s love of Korean food and my own enjoyment of random cuisines, we decided that was the place. I bow to Amy’s superior Korean food, and she said it was quite good. With dinner we had a quite fascinating Barley Tea. It tasted earthy and kind of like Rice Crispys, if you could make a tea from them. That might sound weird but I actually thought it was really good.

Speaking of tea! We decided to check out Townshend’s, a cute and DELICIOUS tea shop. They had a wall of amazing smelling teas (Much better than our last tea adventures, as you can recall.) Amy got an actual cup of tea, and I got the Albert Palmer, which was mango lemonade and black tea and so so amazingly good.

(I don’t even particularly care for regular Arnold Palmer’s, so it’s not that I have an affinity for them or anything). We then headed towards Amy’s host family, where we had homemade ice cream and sat on the floor and talked for as long as I thought I could before heading for the long drive home. (As an aside, her host is so super sweet, and made sure to check if I needed to spend the night? or caffeinated beverages for the road? Or not caffeinated beverages? She was just ultimately so amazingly nice to me, some random stranger at their house.

 

I got home at about 12:30. A long evening, especially for a Wednesday. But so totally worth it. Bozeman continues to be amazingly enticing and beautiful every time I go. Amy continues to be her awesome, awesome self. I’m glad we got to adventure this week.

 

I’m still wondering why there is a creepy taxidermied bat in this store window. I should have got an up-close of it, the thing was scary looking.

 

 

The End of the Story

I have decided not to write out the last month as planned. The memory sticks painfully with me, and it probably always will. I don’t need the vivid reminder. I don’t need the rehashing of painful details. I don’t want to skim this blog in the future and remember what little bit might fade with time.

It still hurts and it still weighs down my life, but it is time to stop writing about that. Time to write about my awesome siblings and Dad, the time I spend with friends, the adventures in life again. While this blog has been a very helpful venting ground, I don’t ever want it to become a wasteland of my pain. And I think it will be nice to focus my mind on the little details that still shine bright rays of happiness into my life.

I am not done writing about Mom. She is gone, but she is still a major part of who I am. She was amazing and beautiful and wise. And I want to dwell on that, and not on her sick and suffering.

Tiny Reminders

She always did leave numerous, coffee stained notes laying around.

I was back out at Dad’s this weekend. I was handling it really well, it didn’t even particularly feel weird, until I made the mistake of flipping through some paperwork out of curiosity. I found a journal of Mom’s, one that Jenna had given her a long time ago. She had some Bible verses copied down in it, but nothing too personal. But tucked inside the pages I found a little sticky note. The top corner has my initials in it, followed by a simple comment: “my advocate – who fights for me-”

My mirage of okay crumbled. It still crumbles, every time I see the picture I quietly snapped so I would always have a reminder of it, every time I start remembering the words to myself in my head.

I have no idea why my mom thought to wright this down. An important enough detail she wanted to remember it, but also one that shares the scrap of paper with “There’s a harvest to get in this year!” written below. I am always protective of the people I love, but I didn’t know I ever did anything to make it stand out from the others who were on her side. I wonder what I did that day that she thought to make note of it. Why me out of the many people fighting for her? I’ll never know. But I am so, so glad that I could do something for her, so glad that we were close enough that we could have this connection, close enough to be equals and advocates and friends. Because she was always my advocate, always my support too.

It isn’t just little snippets of her writing that remind me of my loss. (There have been other scraps of paper, other notes, whether it was a letter to us kids or just little to do lists. They are all so her and they all really hurt). The stupidest thing is that I’ll see something, and unbidden the thought pops into my head “That outlasted Mom.” It’s terrible and such a stupid, horrible thought. I pulled out my violin today, thinking I could fill some empty, lethargic time with music. A few seconds of playing and I realized it would be hard. It had been Mom’s violin. We had learned to play together. I had played it for her the last day she was alive, because I always promised I would bring it out for her again to hear and I didn’t want to go back on that promise. She was pretty far gone by then but Roxy said she thinks she heard me. I found the rosin for the bow, the old, broken chunk that goes back however long ago when we actually played together – something past 10 years now I’m sure. And instantly “This rosin is here still and Mom’s not.” It’s not even nostalgic stuff.  “This stupid ketchup bottle,” “This notepad I haven’t used yet,” “The dang old cat is still alive, but Mom’s not.” I hate myself every time I think it, but it still comes to mind.

I think a big issue is that for some reason I feel like I should be okay now, even though I know it’s not true. I feel like I should just plow back into life and get beyond the pain, maybe it’s a lifetime of pushing pain aside that makes me feel like that. But when something comes up and suddenly I’m reminded I’m not okay. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not. And because I’m not the facade is easily broken by violin rosin and the beautiful curve of her penmanship.

Or realistically just a night like tonight, where I don’t have anything to fill my mind enough to distract me from the pain and suffering of these last few months. But I don’t know how this pain is ever going to go away so how else am I to cope than to just push it away?

By blog posting, apparently. I would apologize for gushing my pain out here, but let’s face it, that’s always been a major reason I had this blog, and there’s certainly more to come. But to have this one place where I can come to and just sob out the fears and thoughts of my innmost heart… it’s the only place I can, and it means the world to me. 

1 Week Later

It has been several months since I posted. Truth is I’ve had a lot to say, and not enough strength to say it. Easter was hard, because I saw how terribly my Mom’s health was fading. Mother’s Day was horrific, because I realized she was actually dying. 1 week ago she did.

At some future time I might try to revisit all that, to pour out so much of the fear and pain that has bubbled under the surface of my life for so long, but right now I won’t. Right now I want to just try to open up again by talking about the now and not the horrors of the past few weeks. I don’t yet have the strength for that.

This past week has been easier and harder than I expected. Easier simply because none of it feels real. It is hard to grapple with emotions when the emotions are tied to what feels like a dream. I can’t imagine the fact that my mother is actually gone. I can’t imagine not being able to talk to her again, how I can’t rush to her with my good news and bad. And so it is a vague fear of the future that fills me, but not a very precise one. Yet.

I sense a breaking in the dream coming. More and more things happen that remind me my Mom is dead, and more and more I feel the truth prick my heart with pain. I have a friend who is thinking of buying a house. Mom used to be a realtor, and I almost told her my Mom could probably offer advice on that. Someone mentions their mom in a conversation and a blunt voice in my mind rings “I no longer have one.”

Accidentally saying “My parents house,” or “I am going to visit Mom and Dad this weekend,” and thinking that those are no longer correct phrases, is only slightly more painful that actually saying “My Dad’s house,” and realizing that not only is it true, but my mind actually went to the right phrase first.

I fear so much for the future. For Dad without his other half. I don’t know that Dad has ever needed anyone besides Mom, they were always so content together. Now I worry what his life will look like without her. I worry about that big house, and the days Christian might not be living at home anymore. I worry about all my family without my Mom as our rock.

I worry about the day I get a random bloody nose or a bad flu and I can’t call her to ask her what to do. I worry about what should be happy days and wonder how they could be happy without her there to participate: holidays, when I graduate, if I get married someday, if I have kids someday.

I worry about major life decisions without her advice, I worry about struggles without her love to support me.

I wonder why she had to go through so much pain, why her body had to waste away to nothing, why, why, why…

And how in the world am I going to move on from this?

I can, for the most part, shove this all inside and ignore it, as I always have done with pain. But it creeps up and if I don’t surround myself with distractions it hits me, more persistent than any emotion I have tried to set aside before.

I wish she was here to hug me right now. She would know the right words to say.

I hope this doesn’t make me sound desperate and alone, because I have wonderful, amazing friends and family who have been so supportive of me through this. But they aren’t mi Madre, my Marme, my Mom, and they never will be.

And I haven’t figured out how to come to terms with that yet.

Bastille in Bozeman

I like taking photos of tickets with this. Something about the excitement showing in my eyes being more fun than just a picture of the ticket? I don’t know, but expect to continue to see them.

You guys! Or more correctly, you very few mostly strangers on the internet. BASTILLE WAS IN BOZEMAN! Now to translate this for you. Bastille (AKA the only band I buy every song of and adore oh so much my favorite band) not only decided to grace my beautiful state, but came to Bozeman, which is only a short 2 hour drive from home.

Now, I am not a particular fan of concerts. Anyone else I would have no real desire to see. Haven’t actually gone to but one concert back in 2010, had fun but it wasn’t exactly my thing. But I always said if Bastille even came as close as Colorado (the closest that people seem to actually get to coming to Montana some days) I would totally make the effort to go. So when Bastille announced on Facebook they would be here, I knew I’d be at the concert. I tried pulling some friends into the fun, but they, a. not having the obsession with the band, and b. protesting to the late Sunday night right before work and/or finals, declined.  I was unable to get a posse together. A solo adventure it was to be then.

My beautiful, beautiful state of Montana. I had to take several photos without looking at the camera to be safe while driving, and actually ended up with one that was decent. Yay!

I remember thinking in Germany how easy it was to find adventures, and how I really needed to make the effort to just get out and find some in my own state. Winter isn’t very conducive to traveling here, so I haven’t had much chance, and lets face it, some days I need a push. But here was my chance, and Bozeman had been one of my first thoughts for destinations all this time. An audio book on Boenhoeffer by Eric Metaxas made the drive short. I highly recommend it.

I have for YEARS heard about this chocolate shop in Bozeman. La Chatelaine Chocolat Co. Boasting of Truffles and hot chocolate made from scraps of truffles and all sorts of good things had been described to me. It was obviously the first place I went, and of course I find it closed! Sad day. But someday I will make it back up to Bozeman and get me some. An excuse for another adventure, perhaps?

“We will rule over this land, and we will call it… This Land.” “I think we should call it, Your Grave.” “Ah, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

Nom Nom Nom

This forced a change of plans upon me. I pondered what this meant for my day for a few minutes, chilling in my car, wondering why everyone was wearing coats when I thought it was gorgeous outside even with the spattering of rain. Snacking on the way too plentiful pile of snacks I had stocked up for the short drive, and perhaps reenacting some Firefly scenes with cinnamon gummy bears? I admit nothing.

Feeling throwbacks to Germany when stores have year round Christmas sections.

The sad thing is that I had to carefully prop up my cellphone to actually make an effort to take these photos.  On a side note, aren’t cinnamon gummy bears one of the most perfect candies ever? Maybe it’s a nostalgic thing because Mom always would buy them when she was writing a book with a friend and the childhood feels of hanging out with the friends family every week are strong. But gosh dang it they’re good.

So the obvious answer was to go shopping downtown to kill a half hour or more (I may or may not have had that amount of time planned for chocolate shopping)

 

 

Obligatory wall of huckleberry products in Montana store is obligatory.

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was dinner time! Not that I needed any with the snacking I had done. But it’s the experience of it all, you know. So I headed to the highly recommended Montana Ale Works. Known, as you can imagine, for awesome beer. I am not a huge beer fan, but the food is fantastically worth going for as well.

 

 

 

 

The pomegranate mojito was fantastic. I asked my bartender what I should be getting for dinner, as I was torn between the taco and a burger. He told me to get one taco, as they were small, grab a side of house made tater tots, and a salad to round it up. I thankfully took his suggestion, and was very happy I did so. The beef taco was savory and flavorful, with a nice crunch from a cabbage slaw and the perfect corn flour tortilla over notes. The tater tots were spicy. I was not expecting the punch they packed, as people tend to oversell the heat in dishes. The jalapeno and pepper jack and divine crunchy outside with soft pillowy inside were such a perfect thing. Not sure the tots and the taco were something to pair together, but I honesty didn’t care. They were both fantastic with the mojito though.

Aaand concert time! Standing room general admission for me. And I ended up being about 12 feet from the stage. Parking was actually super easy too. Brick Breeden Fieldhouse is a fantastic venue.

Waiting, and waiting. And so excited so not feeling like too much of a wait. Read some of the Odyssey on my phone. I look like a total dork in this picture, but I was one, so all is cool.

Opening act was Mondo Cozmo. Not familiar with their work but they were fun. A little heavy on the instruments so I couldn’t hear the vocals as well, which is just a personal taste thing.

I absolutely love this picture. Great one of lead singer Dan with the blue light behind him. And actually semi okay quality with all the weird lighting going on

You are probably most familiar with Bastille’s song Pompeii, which came out about two years ago and was quite a hit. You know how usually you can overplay a song until you are utterly sick of it, but somehow there are those few golden songs you never get tired of? I never got tired of Pompeii, and when I searched out more of their music, I find I never get tired of any of that either. They don’t go the cheesy romantic way that is so overplayed nowadays, and pull inspiration from history and lore and the harder, more difficult aspects of life. Perhaps if I searched off the beaten path of music a bit more I’d find more of that, but something about this band has just always spoke to me for several years now. I was so blessed to see them live.

I even got to stand within like, 6 inches of Dan at one point, so fangirling was for sure happening. I apologize to everyone who’s toes I accidentally jumped on during the night, by the way. It was crowded and I’m not coordinated enough. I’m altogether surprised I didn’t lose my voice, what with screaming and singing and just getting over a bit of a head cold, and then driving home and singing to all their music for 2 more hours, and then getting up for work the next day after a long night. But I didn’t, and I’m super thankful for that.

See my dorky smile of happyness leaving the concert below. I still get that when I think of my adventureful weekend. So glad I took the dive to have a solo adventure. So glad I got to see my favorite band. So glad I am a dork and I let myself brazenly enjoy things that other people might not and that’s okay (thinking not so much of the concert now as I am of the afore mentioned cinnamon bear part of this post…).

Now for a 2 hour drive home. And work in the morning!

 

 

10/10, will certainly be going to a Bastille concert again the next time they’re close… or in like Colorado or something.

Hey Tweety Bird, What Do You Want?

 

Today I heard someone whistle, and the sound instantly reminded me of a meadowlark’s call. It made me realize that there are sounds that will take me back to some place, make me feel at home, and/or give me joy and calm, and the sound of a meadowlark is certainly one of them.

Some people think of robins when they think of spring. But it’s the meadowlark that makes me realize that winter is finally over. They’re the state bird of Montana, so it’s natural they are prevalent. We used to live at a place that had a giant chokecherry bush (chockecherries are certainly a topic I should expound upon eventually… I want to petition for them to become the state fruit)  and the meadowlarks would sit in it and sing all day, hopping around the field and just being so beautiful.

They have a very distinctive song. I remember my Mom once pointing out that it has the same rhythm as saying “Hey tweety bird, what do you want?” It’s one of those things that once you hear it you can’t unhear. And maybe it’s because of that that the sound always reminds me of Mom. And it reminds me of running through the fields and carving my name in sandstone formations that dotted our property or hiking up the road near the ridge line or swinging on the swing set, watching dad mow the sporadic lawn on one of those perfect, balmy spring days that make you want to take a nap in the sun.

They remind me of Montana and what it means to be carefree and they take me back to that time of innocent childhood.

It is, in short, a song that evokes the feeling of belonging, and home.

Amazing what a few short notes can do, isn’t it?