We finally found a place to live!  Yay!  Once we get married, we will start searching for a house of our own, but until that happens, we found a little “in the meantime” place to lay our heads.  The reason we’re so excited about it is because it’s been surprisingly hard to find a rental.  Every time we find something we would like, it gets snatched up before we can even apply for it.  The main reason is, surprisingly, the oilfield boom has reached Billings (6 hours from Williston, ND).  In my mind, that’s a little ridiculous.  I don’t know if everyone has seen the news articles, but you can read about it here.  Yes, it’s wonderful that there is so much work up there, but there is no where to live in that town.  It’s so bad that apparently a 6 hour commute (one way) from Billings is now considered reasonable.  And that’s great for the landlords, but guess what?  Most people don’t make $2K-$4K a week like they do working on the oil rigs.  Yet somehow the housing costs keep creeping up, despite the fact that the average Montana household only brings in about $40K per year, and 14.5% of Montanans are at or below the poverty line.  In Williston, single wide mobile home rentals are going for $3500/month.  Per month!  And you’re considered extremely fortunate to be able to find one of these places.  People consider themselves lucky to even be able to live in a “man-camp”.

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Man-camp in Williston, ND

Fortunately, it’s not that quite bad in Billings, but it’s slowly getting there.  That’s scary for people like Eric and I who are wanting to find a place of our own. 

The other problem we’re facing is the fact that most Billings landlords are not pet-friendly.  I’ve never run into a problem finding a place that wasn’t ok with my dog in any other town I’ve lived in.  It was a bit of a shock when I moved here and found out that my options were very limited. 

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How could you not love this face?!?

So, that’s why we’re so excited about finally finding a place that suits our needs.  It’s just a little 2 bedroom apartment, but it’s dog friendly, reasonably priced and close to work.  And we’re excited that it’s a month-to-month lease so we can start the house search right away after we get married.  Eric will be moving in next month, and I will join him after our wedding in August.  Now we can breathe a little easier knowing we checked a big thing off our to-do list.

 

I can’t believe it’s almost Easter!  I hope everyone’s spring has been as warm as ours!  It’s so refreshing and unnerving at the same time to be outside without a coat in March.  That just doesn’t happen here.  This weekend we took the dogs for a few walks by the river and they all came back with ticks which, again, doesn’t happen in March.  I’ve never had to put tick meds on the dogs before May.  Despite the ticks, they were full of doggie joy since they were able to run around the trail and go swimming in the river. 

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(The picture is from last summer, but you get the idea – Happy dogs.)

The other fun thing that happened this weekend was that we bought Eric’s wedding band!  He loves wearing it so much he hates taking it off.  I suggested a “man-gagement” ring, but I don’t think that idea sat well with him.  I thought it was a good idea…  It’s a rising trend, according to all the ring manufacturers who want to sell more rings.  Gotta keep up with the times, Eric! 🙂  

Detail work has started with the wedding.  We took a couple trips to Bozeman in the last few weeks to figure out details like bouquets and table placement – really exciting things.  I’m wrestling with some decisions about accessories for my dress (long veil, short veil, two veils?  Too many options!) and Eric is figuring out his tux.  We’re about to wrap up our pre-marital classes at church, and we need to get together with our officiant soon to figure out the ceremony details.  Just checking off the list!

 

As I write this, I am drinking from my last jug of sun tea for this year.  I made it the other day, sadly succumbing to the fact that it was likely the last hot day of the year, and therefore could be the last day hot enough to make sun tea.  That makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry a little.  Don’t get me wrong, I love fall.  I love the crispness of the air, I love the colors of the trees, I love Halloween, I love the clothes I get to wear, and I really love football.  But in Montana, fall really only lasts a couple weeks then we’re stuck with bone-numbing, snot-freezing winter for the next six months.  A logical person would wonder “Well, why do you live there?”.  Reasonable question.  The main reason is that I love being close to my family.  They’re weird and sarcastic and hilarious.  I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world and it makes me happy to be able to see them often.  A close second is Montana summers.  They’re incredible. In the dead of winter, when I think I just can’t stand another spirit-crushing day, I think about hiking in Glacier, camping in the mountains, biking with Pasha, road-tripping to Missoula, checking out historical sites like Virginia City, boating, baseball games, and barbeques with friends,  and I realize that hell has not, in fact, frozen over as it has seemed for the last few months.  I just have to suck it up for a little longer and I get to experience paradise when the weather warms up.

Eric, Jaci, Scott, and I with our dogs, camping on the Boulder River this summer

The stream by our campsite in the Beartooths. I mean, come on!

Nothing better than waking up in a tent on your birthday, and then coming outside to see this. I have the sweetest fiance ever!

This past summer has been especially eventful.  So many wonderful things have happened:  Eric proposed in June, my brother got married and I gained a sister in August, we got to watch two of my favorite musicians live (and got to meet one of them, as you can read here), we got to see tons of family that we hadn’t seen for a while, we nearly ran headlong into a moose while hiking, we got to do lots of camping, road-tripping, and were generally “tourists” of our own state .   Unfortunately, there was a tragedy also.  My poor dog Charlie of seven years was taken away from us in a drowning accident a few weeks ago.  That’s been very hard to deal with, but I’ve been slowly coming to terms with it.  I guess events like that tend to snap me back to reality.  No matter what happens, life keeps moving on.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve just had the best moment of your life, or the worst, time keeps marching.  It’s made me especially grateful that everything is in God’s hands and His timing is perfect even if I don’t understand or like it.  It also makes me joyful to think that someday, when we’re in His kingdom, we won’t have to worry about these highs and lows – the rollercoasters of life.  Knowing that makes the tough stuff just a little easier to deal with.

So, here we are, with the last little bit of summer hanging on.  You better believe I will keep doing my summer things until there is no getting around the fact that I can’t walk through the snow in my Chacos.  Because that’s how I get through the transitional periods: denial.  Does anyone else have these problems?  I hope everyone is dealing with this change a little better than I am!