Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I have a really hard time staying positive and upbeat. I can go negative real quick, real easy. When your adolescence is filled with poverty, disappointment, negativity, and disillusionment, it can be difficult to transition into adulthood seeing the good instead of the bad, the happy instead of the sad, and to remain appreciative of what you have, instead of desirous of what you don't have. And when you find yourself in a (physical) place that had so much potential, and held so much promise, but has failed to live up to the happy, positive expectations you had, it can be an even bigger blow. I find myself wishing - every day - that we lived anywhere but here. That's not entirely fair, I know. We have a beautiful house that we have managed to make into a lovely, comfortable home for our little family. But so often I find myself wishing this house was located in a different town, in a different state, across the country. I sometimes think that if I was just a different sort of person that I could be happy here. But then I wouldn't be me, would I? I could, of course, lie to myself everyday in an attempt to convince my psyche that I do in fact love where I live. In my old career we had a saying - Fake it Until You Make It. I found, however, that by the time I made it I was so exhausted and overwhelmed with the faking it part that I couldn't appreciate the fact that I'd achieved something. I also suspect that I couldn't appreciate that I'd achieved something because the thing I'd supposedly achieved held no real value for me personally.

And I think that's at the heart of what's going on in my heart: what do I (or don't I) value?

When we first moved to the Bay Area we lived in a tiny apartment in San Francisco and that felt like a huge accomplishment to me because living in a fast-paced, vibrant city full of food, arts, and culture was something I valued. I wanted to be that girl - the one who rides public transportation to go shopping, who wanders down trendy shop-lined streets, and eats at both the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall restaurants and the ones that were being written up and praised by national media. And it was great, and it definitely had a place in our life, and I'll always look back on that time fondly (even though not everything was peaches & cream, unicorns & rainbows) because it fit perfectly for the me - the us - of that time.

But over time what I value and who I want to be has changed - dramatically.

Growing up in the desert, I wanted nothing more than to live in the city. Going to college smack dab in the middle of the city was an exciting, rewarding experience. When we moved to the suburbs of Pittsburgh I felt a bit dead inside. I felt like we'd given up on who we wanted to be. Who we needed to be. And then it was back to the city. And now we've been living in an urban area with what is described as having a neighborhood feel. And I'm sure that's true - for the right sort of person. But I'm not the person I used to be. I sometimes wonder if at the ripe old age of 35 I am having an identity crisis.

As I drove down Telegraph this morning - the main thoroughfare for our neighborhood - I tried to see what everyone else sees: cafes, shops, food, art. I tried - I really tried - to look at it with fresh eyes and love it the way everyone else who lives here seems to love it. I had a moment where I imagined the neighborhood as if it was the first time I was seeing it after reading about it in Sunset or The New York Times. I can see what they see. I can step outside my own narrative long enough to understand the allure that this place holds for people - the realization is that I'm just not that type of person. The simple truth is that no matter how much I might have been that person before, today - and tomorrow - I don't want a gentrified urban slice of life.

I want quiet. I want solitude. I want nature, and beauty, and green. I look around and I see concrete as far as the eye can see. I see cars for miles. I hear noise. So much noise - people screaming, buses churning, cars honking, sirens blaring, helicopters whirring. And I see people I don't relate to on any level - hipsters, hippies, homeless people, thugs, mommies with $600 strollers. I'm in a world between. No, not between. Outside of.  And then it hits me: I'm not suffering from an identity crisis. I think maybe, finally, I know who I want to be when I grow up.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


The only thing we had planned for today was cooking dinner for my mom and her husband, which was good since the weather did not cooperate at all. I woke up around 8:30 a.m. to find about an inch of snow on the ground. It was already starting to melt and the streets were completely clear. I made coffee and about an hour later most of the snow was gone. I found a house on Trulia this morning that I kind of loved so before going to the grocery store to pick up bison & beef for dinner (chili) we went in search of it. Unfortunately we couldn't find the street that Google Maps told us to turn on so instead we just drove around checking out the area. We drove through Bridger Canyon, and continued on up to the entrance to Bridger Bowl Ski Resort, 15 miles outside of Bozeman. It was clear most of the way there, but about five miles out from the resort we noticed the roads had been salted and the snow was starting to accumulate. It was such a pretty drive. We turned back around to encounter more rain, and then spent the rest of the afternoon futzing around the house - I finished a book, we started the chili, and Alan played games. It was good spending time with my mom and her husband. Renting houses while we're here is such a better idea than getting a motel room because it really allows you to be comfortable and feel like you're at home. And I really do love this house.


Yesterday we spent the day at the Museum of the Rockies, learning about dinosaurs in the area and the history of Montana. From there we hung out at our rental with my mom and then went to dinner at Ted's Montana Grill. Perfectly cooked prime rib is a gift from heaven! We closed out the night by watching the first disk of Ken Burns' National Parks. It seemed fitting.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Most people I know are getting ready to head out for the long weekend for sun, sand, and bbq. Not so for us. We boarded a flight this morning at 6 a.m. and touched down in cold, snowy Bozeman, Montana. Yup. SNOW. I am beyond giddy.


We rented a house in the historic downtown area, within walking distance of Main Street (that's not it, above - that's a random house on the walk from breakfast back to the house while it was snowing like mad). The house is adorable. So cozy and welcoming. This is the second time we've rented from Mountain Home Vacations and I wholeheartedly recommend them if you're ever up in this area. Great service, great properties. 

A winter weather advisory was called earlier this afternoon for the area. They're calling for 10-12 inches of snow at elevations of 8000 feet or higher (we're not), and 4-6 around the area. Keep your fingers crossed for us! I'm one of the few people you know that would rather be cold than hot. I'm a weirdo, I know.

For dinner we went to Montana Ale Works and had a fabulous hamburger. It makes such a difference when you're eating local, organic beef. It's all about terroir, people! (I jest ... but not.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


On Sunday, after several years of saying "I wish we had a table & chairs back here" we jumped in the car and drove around town to find something that would fit our needs.

1. Not too big
2. Not too expensive
3. Not too grandma

What's that, you say? Not too grandma? What does that even mean, you wonder.

You know those old, tan, leathered grandmas down in Florida who wear bright white tennis shoes and sun visors made of clear colored plastic? In my mind they always have patio sets that look like their giant RVs. Huge, padded, floral.

Yeah, we don't want any of that.

First we went to Cost Plus World Market. They had a lot of really cute accessories, and several different options for patio furniture, but it all seemed cheaply made and it was pretty expensive. To get the table, chairs, and umbrella we wanted we were looking at over $600 with tax.

Then we went to Ikea because, well ... Ikea is the other kind of cheap, and we like that kind. They had a lot of good options as well, ranging from cheaply made to somewhat solid construction. I hemmed and hawed about getting an expandable table made from acacia wood but it wasn't very sturdy at all and the chairs were even less comfortable.

We decided to go to OSH as we had been there the weekend before and I saw a handful of patio sets. When we got there we saw a wrought iron table & chair set that was marked down to $300 as it was the last one. We went inside and didn't love any of the sets they had on hand, especially at the prices they were offering. The wrought iron set out front met a lot of our initial requirements so we decided to get it. The lady at customer service also gave us a 20% off one item coupon so it was even cheaper - score! Unfortunately when we went to put it in the Highlander we realized the 52" table was broken. The man helping us called to the back and they had another on hand for us. It wasn't until we got home that we realized they gave us a 44" to replace the 52" but in hindsight it's fine as I'm not sure we necessarily had the room.

Last night after work we decided to grill up some buffalo steaks and kale & collards from the garden and have dinner alfresco. It was awesome! I can't believe we've lived here nearly six years and it has taken us this long to get to this point. We still have a lot of work to do - landscaping and cleaning, and maybe someday even a new deck - but for now it's nice to sit outside on a warm evening with a glass of wine and chat. I can't wait to pick up an umbrella so that maybe I can even work outside at times.

Daily dose of Dakota (Taken with Instagram at casacaudill)

Weirdo Oakland Sunset (Taken with instagram)

Tatanka (Taken with instagram)

Dinner is served (Taken with instagram)

New deck setup  (Taken with Instagram at casacaudill)

Dinner on our new patio set (Taken with Instagram at casacaudill)

Ghetto yard is coming (Taken with instagram)


Now that I'm back from my work offsite, I can get caught up on all the posts I've been wanting to write.

This weekend was productive, and relaxing, and everything good that a weekend should be. It feels lovely just saying that.

Our garden is starting to grow and with the warmer weather, we're starting to make use of our backyard more and more. This backyard has been a work in progress since the first day we moved in. It was hideous. It won't win any landscaping awards in its current form, but it's leaps and bounds above where we were and best of all it's functional and usable space.

On Saturday we were going to go to the Oakland Museum but they were closing at 2 p.m. for a gala and several of the exhibit areas were closed to the public in preparation for the event. Then we decided to drive into SF to go to the Legion of Honor museum to see a couple of Victorian exhibits but then Twitter reminded me that it was Bay to Breakers weekend so we decided to stay on our side of the bridge. We've been wanting to go to St. George Spirits for years (they make my favorite domestic single malt whiskey), so I threw it out there and a couple of hours later we were pulling in to the hangar, on the former Alameda Navy base. For $30/person you get a small sampling of 8-10 different liquors and whatnot and an hour-long tour of the distillery. We started with gin and finished with absinthe. Yup, absinthe! 

St. George's Absinthe Verte is the first domestically produced absinthe since the ban in 1912. And it's lovely. Alan's not a fan, but I was hooked.

After the distillery, we grabbed a snack at Safeway and then headed over to Crown Memorial Beach in Alameda. It's not the mighty Pacific, but the water was gently lapping at the shore and the sand was soft and warm. Perfect for another nap on the beach! (Because clearly I haven't learned my lesson about beach napping without sunscreen.) I was quite shocked to see a number of people actually swimming in the bay. To each their own, I guess. For me, it's all about looking and hearing.

We finished the night with white bean & chicken chili and some movie watching. All and all, a great Saturday afternoon. One of the best ones we've had in awhile, in fact.