Friday, April 26, 2013

New finds and new spots

Our regular readers (hello, all 3 of you!) might recall that Fayetteville does something called "First Thursdays" which is an evening (the first Thursday of each month, aptly enough) on the town Square, dedicated to music and art and general community revelry.  They started up again in April. [As a side note, I'm still in awe of living in the south where outside events are scheduled from April through October.....I just learned that the drive-in opened on April 19th....these types of things wouldn't open until around Memorial day in the northlands!]

We went to this First Thursday event, mostly because it gets us out of the house and it's a nice walk up to the Square....well it's a nice walk if you're me, if you're my charming husband you complain and grunt at the steep grade all the way up the hill.  Anyway, right when we got up to the Square we ran into a new friend of ours, a fellow I met on campus last fall who is a first year assistant professor in a more hard science-y field, and we helped him find his wife, another new friend-type who runs the "storytelling" event I've spoken about in posts past.

After quickly meandering around the art, we ended up at the beer tent and then the food trucks.  Food trucks have made their way to Walmart Country, starting with the fancy grilled cheese Grillenium Falcon and the expansion has been pretty rapid.  I think there was an episode of the Great Food Truck Race filmed here sometime last year.

This food truck, Nomads, is often parked outside our cute independent bookstore, and they serve middle eastern food.  They have falafal and gyro pockets, delicious hummus, and these "pita fries" that are to die for.  I don't even know how to explain them....they take pita, slice them into strips and fry them like french fries......damn, they're delicious.  We had not intended to actually eat dinner on the Square but the food truck just called to us.

Our other favorite middle eastern place, Petras, is only open for lunch, so now that we have Nomads (which is also open around dinner time and until they run out of food on fri/sat nights), we've got options in the world of middle eastern food.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April flowers and Ground hogs

I have so many things to report on!  Things have been busy here in Walmart Country for us.  First, a simple post.  A few weeks ago, I was walking home from work, as I do just about every day, and I noticed some flowers planted along the brick wall that opens onto the large lawn (as close as we get to a "quad" here--but it's not surrounded by buildings, so it can't in good faith be called a quad).  A week after that, they bloomed, and it was a lovely sight:

It's for reasons like this that I especially like Walmart Country in the spring.  Little touches to make the town stand out.

Of course, two weeks later, the flowers are now dead, perhaps because it's been cold at night, or because they haven't been properly tended idea. The weather here has yo-yoed from low 30s to high 70s and everywhere in between.

It's like the groundhog didn't know if it saw it's shadow or not. 

Speaking of....we saw a groundhog in our backyard recently!  Doug came upstairs to say "Hey there's a big rodent thing in our backyard" and it had scampered under the fence but a few minutes later it popped back into view.  A real groundhog, in our backyard! 

As I am not trained in the ways of groundhog shadows, I could not tell if it had a message for us or not. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Games of Pie and Thrones

Hard to believe it's already April!  Four weeks left of the semester, then glorious glorious summer, when hopefully I can get a lot of writing done.

I'm not here to talk about the future, though, I'm here to talk about March.  March was the month of Pie and Thrones.

Why?  Well, for starters, sometime in late January, one of my students loaned me the DVD set of the first season of Game of Thrones, that HBO show people occasionally go crazy about.  I figured I'd like it, because (a) HBO, and (b) fun fantasy with a good smattering of sex and gore, but I hadn't gotten around to it yet.

I should also point out that Doug started reading the books a ways back.  So long ago that I don't even remember, maybe last year?  He picked up the first book (metaphorically, as he actually picked up the Kindle on which the book was downloaded), started reading it, couldn't get into it, and set it down.  A while later he re-started it and eventually made it through.  And after a long break, decided he should actually read the second book.  For those not in the know, there are currently 5 books out, and the series is slated to be 7 books long.  Each one is 1000ish pages, give 300 pages or so, thus reading them is a true commitment to the craft of reading.

My student kept harassing me to watch the DVDs, so we started Season 1 and by episode 3 I was a goner.  Great sets and costumes, fabulous acting, a cast of what seems like thousands, great use of CGI when necessary but avoided when not, and fantastic characters.  Who the author is willing to kill off when it serves the plot.  And, as expected, a good bit of sex and gore.

When we finished Season 1, we got on the waiting list for Season 2 to come out on DVD, and then we not-so-patiently waited for Netflix to send us each disc.  By the time Season 2 ended, I had already decided to start reading the books.

I spent most of one day of Spring Break sitting on the couch, clutching my Kindle to me, devouring Book 3 (which is the best so far, but I'm only on the start of Book 5).

At this point, Doug is on Book 4, I'm on Book 5, and Season 3 just started.  It's been a month of Thrones, with many many Thrones jokes tossed around between the two of us, and sometimes they leak out into my normal life.  One of my grad students gave me a draft of something that included the sentence "It is known ...." and I wrote the comment "What are you, Dothraki?" on the side.  He told me that he laughed for almost a full minute.

What accompanied our month of Thrones?

The month of European Truffle Pie:

It is the pie of champions.  The pie of kings.  The pie worthy enough to sit on the throne, serving lesser pies.

In reality, it's a chocolate cream pie with chocolate whipped cream, chocolate shavings on top, with an oreo cookie crust on the bottom (and some oreo in the middle, too).  Village Inn, elsewhere in the country called Bakers Square, has this pie for one month a year, where it is, aptly, the "Pie of the Month."  It's usually available around easter time.  Last year it was April, and between April 1 and May 5th we ate five pies.  Not slies, pies.

This year, when we went to Village Inn to buy Doug's birthday pie, I saw it in the glass case before we even made it into the restaurant, and I'm not ashamed to say I caused a bit of a scene.  I yelped with joy.  I exclaimed my happiness to the manager.  We hadn't expected to see the pie until April, so we were both really glad that we happened to visit Village Inn early enough in the month to catch it.

The rest of the month, we had a pie a week.  This year we stopped ourselves at four pies in total.  As delicious as the pie is, we can't eat a pie a week forever (well actually we could, but it would destroy my waistline and probably decrease the enjoyment of the Pie food group), and now we will not-so-patiently wait until the glorious pie comes out next spring

I thought about going back the first week of April to see if they had any pies left (last year we got one in early May), but I showed restraint.  Probably  because the last time Doug walked into the restaurant, the manager looked at him and said, "Another pie, sir?"

In sum, here is our House Sigil, demonstrating our mascot and our House words, both together expressing our month of March:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Evil circus cat

I'm not sure I have devoted a lot of time on this blog to our cat, but as time has gone on she has become an increasingly central focus of our lives.  Mostly because she is evil.

Wait, what?  This little cutie-pie?  Margot Dorcas, the cat with the silly name from Saved by the BEll and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?  Yes, that's right, evil. I've used many words for her, some of which are profane enough I will not say them here.  Less profane and more creative alternative include "A Lannister" (for the Game of Thrones crowd) and a popular teenage girl.  You know the type, the adorable girl who smiles at you when she wants something and then when you piss her off....BAM!  She undermines your every turn. My latest nickname for her is "kitbull" (you know, like a combination of cat plus pit bull).

That is the cat we ended up with.  I'm not sure she's always intentionally evil, as she runs to greet us at the door when we come home, and on occasion she rubs against one of our legs or tolerates being pet for two minutes, but most of the time she is a little spitfire of sass.

First of all, she's very bitey.  We think that the people who had her as a kitten probably played rough with her, and she learned fingers = chew toys.  I've tried just about everything I can think of to alter this behavior, and it hasn't really worked.  Despite my training in behaviorist principles, and using "clickers" to train her, I haven't been able to un-train the bad behavior, though I did teach her how to sit, come when she's called, and jump up for a treat. 

Some of this biting appears to be out of pure spite.  She really likes to attack Doug.  He'll be walking across the room, minding his own business, and she'll run over and scratch/bite him at the ankles. Without provocation.  And then if he yells at her, she attacks with greater verve.  She attacks me less often and less randomly, but it still happens on occasion (like this morning, in fact).  I think she just wants to play....but it could be because she enjoys causing harm to those around her.  Especially Doug.  Not a week goes by where he doesn't have a cat scratch somewhere on his arms or legs.

She means harm.  The only thing that kind of sort of works is when she attacks me and I start whining in a "oooooohhhhhhhhh, you hurrrrrrt me, and I want to crryyyyyyyyyy!" kind of tone.  I start sniffling and whining and she leaves me alone for awhile.  But she knows that she's in charge, and she can hurt us any time she wants.

She also gets into EVERYTHING.  She's very curious, which is sometimes adorable, but when she opens closet doors, every drawer in the bathroom, or the doors to our storage spaces in the middle of the night, it's really annoying.  Impressive, but annoying.  And she really isn't deterred by water, loud noises, or any kind of punisher that I've tried so far.  She really just wants attention.

I must admit, she has some good qualities.  She's insanely adorable.  Like really really cute.  She's also kind of a circus cat; she parkours off the walls and can stand with all four of her legs on a 3-inch scratching post.  She can scramble up her taller-than-Doug cat tree in a fraction of a second, and she's got a really weak, whiny little meow.  She also really really loves to munch box.  As in, we give her cardboard boxes (like from Amazon) and she slowly rips up the flaps.  It's really funny to watch her tearing into cardboard like it's a mouse attacking her turf.

But oh, the evil.  She's probably a step or two removed from feral catdom, and it's clear she is not stimulated enough.

So, we ponder our options.  Do we get another cat for her to play with?  Do we let her outside?  We don't want to get her de-clawed, as there don't appear to be good reasons to do that to cats anymore, and really she doesn't rip up our stuff (just the boxes).  We play with her, but it's never enough, and she doesn't respond well to discipline. 

For now we've resigned ourselves to owning an evil cat, and feel comfort knowing that she'd probably attack an intruder worse than she attacks us.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Found Fayetteville

A few weeks ago I posted about the Sheet Fort Experience here in Walmart Country and it's still going strong.  We've gone to one improv show, two story telling nights, one stand up comedy night on St. Patricks Day (there was one song and one limerick, other than that it had nothing to do with St. Patty's Day), and now the show called Found Fayetteville.

The show was described to me as a multimedia presentation and love letter to the city of Fayetteville, and I will give it part of that description.  It did have multimedia and the creator certainly loves Fayetteville, though I don't know if it was entirely obvious from the show itself.  Basically, it consisted of items found around town (scrawlings on bathroom walls, notes found around town, Craigslist ads) and put together into a show performed by six capable actors.

I wanted to love this show, I really did.  For me it had two problems, one of them very fixable.  That one was that the show has previously been performed on New Years Eves.  Not a problem, except the slide show referenced New Years Eve...couldn't you take that out, because it's March?

Second, with the exception of occasional references to Dickson street and Walmart and a sequence about Bikes, Blues and BBQ (the motorcycle festival that people either love or hate), the ads really could have come from anywhere.  I used to read Craigslist personal ads for fun when I was bored in Chicago, and they are totally craze balls, but it's rare to find one that is craze balls in a particularly location-specific way.

I think part of my disappointment is that I've grown to really love this town.  It's quirky, and has a lot of personality.  This is evident in the Fayetteville Flyer, particularly the comments section about community plans and such.  Like many small towns, the residents of this one have pride for their community.  They support new initiatives that will help people and actively discourage ones that will be eye sores or hurt the local economy.  The mix of people in this town is likewise awesome, from college students to Walmart officials to low-income people living on the outskirts of town who show up to dinner in a straw hat and overalls (I have seen this, I'm not exaggerating).  Likewise, the local commericals and the local news are hilarious, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not.

In short, I wanted to love Found Fayetteville, and I only just liked it.  I have hopes that over time the show can develop with new found material that really lets the flavor of the town shine.

Oh, one more thing in praise of the event.  For the two nights of the show, all of the proceeds went to help one of the company members who recently had a bad work accident that resulted in loss of a finger.  This fellow works with his hands and due to his injury, business has been halted, and the family has 20K in medical bills.  So there have been some efforts to raise money for them, including a craft sale and two nights of this show.  It's stuff like that that make me love this town--people coming together to support the arts in a sheet fort and to give away proceeds to friends in need.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Casino Buffet

Every time we drive west, to Tulsa or further (usually toward Albuquerque), we pass through a little town in western north-west Arkansas called Siloam Springs.  I am not motivated enough to try to find an audio clip that accurately portrays the way this town name is pronounced with the local accent, but suffice it to say that we both adopt an accent for five seconds every time we drive through the town.

I have nothing against this town personally.  It just happens to be on the way to Tulsa.  But, because of the stop lights and lower speed limits in the town, Siloam Springs really cramps my style and makes the trip to Tulsa take a lot longer than it would if there were an actual, you know, interstate that connected Walmart Country with Tulsa.  Point being that we are typically trying to get THROUGH Siloam Springs and have never actually stopped there.

Right at the Oklahoma border, or really at the border of Arkansas and Cherokee Nation, there is a large casino.  The Cherokee Casino and Hotel, as a matter of fact.  Everytime we drive through town, we say "Hmmm, we should stop there sometime."  Well, folks, some time has finally arrived.

As you migh recall from my last post, we recently went to the Drive-Thru Safari, which is just up the road from Siloam Springs.  So, leaving the Safari at 4:30pm on a Saturday afternoon, going to the casino seemed the logical choice of activity.

The casino was crowded.  We caught a glimpse of a couple with matching M&M jackets as we walked in....which was too awesome to not take a picture of:

Then we went inside, and it was a typical smokey casino.  Initially we were going to play the penny slots, but it seemed as though one needed a card to play the games, or some kind of ticket/token system, and I felt stupid for not being able to figure out how that worked, so after walking around the casino a few times, doing some stellar people watching, we decided our money would be better spent at the buffet.

Buffets are dangerous places.  This one had stations from all over the world, with a Mexico station, an Asian station, an Italian Station, a salad bar, a BBQ station (which I think was called "Local Favorites") and a big dessert station.  We both loaded up our plates with grub and made it through only one round before we realized that the major pull of the buffet was, in fact, the dessert station.  So we abandoned "real food" and hit up the desserts.  Round 1 involved pie.  For Round 2, I visited the chocolate fondue fountain and got strawberries, cherries and marshmallows dipped in chocolate, as well as an "ice cream" sundae and chocolate pudding.  Doug got cream puffs, his own "ice cream" sundae and more chocolate pudding.  We skipped the cobblers, the jello, the bread pudding and the cupcakes (though the cupcakes looked fancy and delicious).

We left the casino in under an hour, maybe a record for a casino goer, and only $20 poorer.  And with enough dessert to get us through the next month.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Drive thru Safari

When we first moved to Walmart Country, I was sad to learn that Groupon doesn't exist here.  I quite enjoyed getting the daily emails of random services, events and restaurant deals in Albuquerque.  Thankfully, within a few months I was informed that although Groupon doesn't live here, Living Social does.  Same deal, different name.  Living Social has given us deals for all kinds of restaurants, like the sandwich place (Hog's Breath Eatery) we thought was a BBQ joint.  If/when you ever visit us in Walmart Country, friends and family, the fried "corn nuggets" at Hog's Breath are a complete marvel.  Mmmmmmmm.

Living social has also given us deals for some other random adventures too, like the 2-for-1 admission to the Wild Wilderness Drive-Thru Safari, which we visited recently.

The safari is about 45 minutes away from Fayettville, off the road we take to Tulsa, almost at the Oklahoma border.  Some friends of ours visited and had a hard time telling us what it was like, and now that we've been there, I can see why.  It was weird, ya'll, but more fun than anticipated.

The brunt of the adventure is, as should be obvious from the name of the place, a drive thru "safari."  You take your car on a 5-mile dirt road loop around 400 acres and look at herds (yes, really, HERDS) of animals roaming around.  The more dangerous ones (lions, tigers, ligers, bears, hippos, rhinos, panthers, etc.) are caged, but the other ones (deer, elk, zebras, camels, buffalo, piggies, tons of creepy looking emus) just wander around.  Sometimes in front of your car.

Sometimes right next to your window.  I have seriously never been that close to a cow or an emu before.

 Plus, a herd of like 15 zebras running on a hill?  Pretty spectacular, albeit odd to think about in Arkansas.

In addition to the drive-thru safari, the place also has walk-thru and pet-thru parts where you can feed piggies, goats, chickens, llamas and the like.  Plus, you can hang out with kangaroos!  

In a barn-like area they also had monkeys, parrots, lizards, and snakes.  And then in a real barn, they had chickens with baby chicks, rabbits, piglets, and a couple of giraffes (one of these things is not like the other!).  I wanted to pet the giraffe but I kind of forgot to do it.

The best part, though, was the 7-month old lion cub one of the staff members had out on a leash.  A baby lion.  On a leash.  He was ridiculously cute and had such an adorable, loud, low lion roar.  This cat did not sound like a house cat.  But he sure played like one!  His paws were as big as my hands and he kept grabbing at his leash to bite it, rolling around on the ground to let people pat his tummy, and generally entertaining the crowd.  We seriously could have watched him all day:

Apparently there were some even smaller cubs people could play with in the barn area, but the line was too long and we were unwilling to wait for half an hour to even get a glimpse of the little cubbies, though now I kind of regret not doing it.  I can say that I've pet a lion, though!  His fur was much coarser than I expected, and his teeth were just as big as I expected.

Between this place and the Wild Life Refuge I wrote about awhile ago, whodda thunk there'd be so many exotic animals in/near Walmart Country?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Holiday traditions

We have started several holiday traditions which in my mind will actually count as "traditions" next year, after we've done them three times (once is just random, twice is a line, only three times do you have an actual pattern or tradition...just like a serial killer isn't a serial killer until three kills).  One of these is watching the delightfully awful ABC Family Christmas movie "12 Dates of Christmas."  Mark-Paul Gosselear, of Saved by the Bell fame, is the male lead, and it's kind of like Groundhog Day for Christmas Eve.  A self-involved woman has to do Christmas Eve over again until she gets it right (and it's 12 times, unlike the many years Bill Murray spends reliving the same day in Groundhog Day).  We watched it for the first time in December of 2011, and in 2012 we decided to watch one "date" each day leading up to Christmas.  It's our own silly advent calendar.

The other holiday we have a tradition-in-the-making for is Valentine's Day.  Now, I have mixed feelings about V-day.  On the one hand, it's nice to celebrate romance. Who doesn't like gifts, chocolate, or flowers?  On the other hand, why does one need a day for that?  The expectations are high, the single people are sad, and I doubt anyone has the perfect romantic date of their dreams.  Sure, restaurants make a lot of money and I'm sure the lingerie business sees a nice boom, but overall I can't really get into the hype.

Therefore, we have started what I like to call "trashy Valentine's day."  Instead of going to a nice, romantic restaurant, we go to a kind of trashy place that we wouldn't otherwise go to very often.  Last year we went to Hooters.

Ever since February 15th, 2012, I knew where we were going to go this year: Chick-fil-A.  Here's the thing: I've never been to a Chick-fil-A.  I love me some KFC and other fast food fried chicken, but we didn't have Chick-fil-A where I grew up and I just never got into it.  But it's huge here in Walmart Country (and all over the South).  Last spring at some point I mentioned to my undergrad class that I'd never been there and they all freaked out; one of them tried to organize a class field trip to the closest Chick-fil-A right then and there.  But after class one of my more politically active students came up to me and told me that Chick-fil-A is anti-gay, which I then verified by the many stories on the Internet, so I thought it would be good to boycott the anti-gay, super religious establishment.

Except here's the thing.  Boycotts are more meaningful (to me, at least) when you know what you're missing. It's like giving up motorcycle riding for Lent when you've never been on a motorcycle.  So I decided it would be best to go to Chick-fil-A just once, and then boycott.  Thus the plan for Valentine's day was born.

Also, Chick-fil-A does Valentine's day up.  Last year it was a romantic candlelit dinner.  This year the theme was "A night in Paris."  Seriously, it was.  See?

It was more spectacular than I ever dreamed.  Inside the tables were decorated with black tablecloths and red table runners (note: they also gave free desserts, either cookies or a little ice cream sundae!):

All the people working were wearing berets or black and white striped tops, and/or red neck scarves.  And they brought the food to the table.  This is actually our waiter delivering our food:

The best part part, though, was the corner of the place where they'd set up a little Parisian cafe, complete with a violin player and a big ass cow dressed as a French beat poet or something.  How awesome is this:

The place was packed, which was probably the biggest surprise to me, as Hooters was dead last year.  The staff and guests alike appeared to be in an excellent mood, and there were people on hand taking pictures of guests with the big French cow.

Are there pictures of us with the cow?  Well yes, yes there are.  But thusfar my tradition has been to avoid personal pictures on this blog, which I will uphold today.  I will say, however, that in a very small position of defiance against Chick-fil-A's anti-gay leanings, I did dress in drag for our Night in Paris.  Not very well, either.  Doug dressed up in a shirt and tie, and I did the same--wearing his shirt, tie and khacki pants.  We got quite a few weird looks around the restaurant, and the staff member taking pictures did NOT offer to put ours up on the Facebook page.

Still, I feel the night was a success (note: after dinner we went to the arcade and then watched the "excellent" 80s breakdancing movie Electric Boogaloo).  One more step toward a legitimate holiday tradition, and a full step into a legitimate boycott.  Trashy Valentines day is absolutely a tradition we enjoy upholding.  Stay tuned to see where we go next year!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sheet forts and improv groups

Last year sometime, shortly after we moved here, we went to a performance of a local improv troupe and were less than impressed.  The audience seemed to like it, but with my Big City background and Doug's actual improv training, plus with our general judgmental natures, we found much to complain about.

Yet, it was the only game in town, so we went again a few weeks ago and were equally unimpressed.  We walked home feeling like snobs--we'd *wanted* to like them, we had hope they had perhaps improved over the year, and the audience was even larger and more enthusiastic than last year.  Obviously they are catering to their audience well, and if the goal is to make money, they look like they are having some success.  But we felt many of the games went on too long, they gave too much power to the audience (e.g. don't TELL the audience what the nouns and adjectives are going to be used for, that's less funny!), etc.

Then, miraculously, the tide turned.  In reading the Fayetteville Flyer, I learned about some "fringey" (word used by the artistic director herself) theatre company in town called Artists Laboratory Theatre who are hosting a month of shows in a sheet fort. Yes, you heard me, a sheet fort.  They have a small space rented out that they've draped sheets all over, and put up some lights to make a stage.  They're doing all kinds of fun stuff, from long form musical improv (more on that in a second) to viewing movies (Goonies! In a sheet fort!) to open mic storytelling nights, etc.  The company also does "secret theatre" where 10 audience members are taken to a random location for a special performance. It's just the kind of fun, fringey types of theatre that I've always enjoyed, and very local.

It was a performance-heavy week for us, as we saw shows three nights in a row.  First the movie Amour (the last best picture nominee--I've now seen all 9!), the next night the touring production of Hair, and then musical improv.  While I'm here, we had fun at Hair, although Doug was perturbed about the cast interacting with the audience.  I thought it was fun, and we both got up and danced on stage with the cast at the end.

The sheet fort show was really fun.  A beer company donated beer that they sold for super cheap, lights bouncing off the sheets, performers peeking their heads through gaps in the sheets to be was a lighthearted, fun performance.  They did two "long form" improvs, one beginning with a song and the other incorporating music throughout.  We had a great time.  Afterward I went up to talk to the Artistic Director of the Artists Laboratory Theatre (who we've seen in several shows in town) and chatted with her for awhile.  We're going to go back to their storytelling night next week, and Doug may attend a rehearsal of the improv group; he's been hoping/wishing to get back into that and this may be an opportunity.

In short, yay for the sheet fort!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Snow freakouts

Sorry for the long absence, ya'll.  I was doing so well at posting regularly in the fall and then....nothing for two months.

In those two months, we spent two weeks in Albuquerque over Christmas, and almost a week in New Orleans, Louisiana, at a conference.  Doug came along to the conference too and hung out with friends while I spent my days listening to research talks with my four stellar undergrad companions.

Mostly I've been putting my nose to the grindstone, trying to get a bunch of papers out over the first portion of this year, and due the conference it's taken awhile to adjust to the craziness of this semester.  Not to mention that even though I'm teaching two classes I've taught before, I'm always updating and trying to improve the student's learning, which means more prep work than I would like.  But still, things are trucking along nicely.

Until now we haven't had a ton of things to post about, because we haven't been doing a whole lot out of the norm (working, watching TV, trying to see all the Oscar movies, etc.), but it is winter in Walmart Country, and thus worth spending a bit of time talking about the weather.

The weather here is really quite lovely and mild during the winter (the summers are soppy drippy gross hot).  Highs in the 40s and 50s, lows in the 20s and 30s, very little snow or rain.  Similar to Albuquerque winter weather, actually, but without the dryness.

"Nice winter" actually translates to "complete freak out when snow might fall."  Granted, this region got hit with a couple of big storms a few years ago that resulted in the University shutting down for over a week and many power outages.  Also, it's below freezing at night and above freezing during the day, so when it snows/rains and then hardens into ice, navigating the hills on car or on foot can be pretty tricky.  And, of course, they don't have the salt and dirt and general "winter machinery" to move the snow around like the northern cities do.  Still, though, this town freaks out when a storm hits.

Earlier this week we had a snowstorm the likes of which Chicago would scoff at and Minneapolis would barely even notice.  Here, though?  Classes were cancelled in the afternoon into the next morning, University offices were shut down, and everywhere we went people said "Stay warm!"  The last part was particularly amusing to me, as it's been much colder here this winter.  I guess people just lump "snow and freezing rain" into "it must be cold out."  Throughout all of this, I was at work on time, enjoying the lack of activity in the hallways, and happy to wear my winter boots one day this year.  The snow was gone within a day, though there is a leafy, dirty snowman a couple of blocks away that is still standing.