Scouting out the neighborhood

Since it's light out here until a little past 8 PM, we've been going on walks after dinner to get better acquainted with our neighborhood (and check out the ice cream stand that just opened for the season). I had this afternoon off because of the holiday, so we went to check out Capital Lake and see how the geese were doing.

Most of the geese headed north, but there are still some flocks coming through and hanging out.
However, there are more seagulls. These are seriously the cleanest seagulls I've ever seen. It must be because it's the start of the season and they haven't had a chance to get all scruffy. I love menacing seagulls.
Historical marker lit up by the sunset.
I love how the older buildings have the street names built into them.
You can't hear it, but this tree was full of noisy little birds. They were well hidden, so I didn't get a chance to figure out what they were.
I should probably also mention that we're officially buying a house. We're lining up the home inspection and bank appraisal since our offer was accepted by the seller. There will be guest rooms and a claw foot tub.


Passive aggressive parking

This is from the alley parking where Josh's car lives but it wasn't directed at his little car. I think.

I'm crossing my fingers that we can successfully negotiate the offer on a house with a 2-car garage that we just submitted today. There will be so much to blog about if we get that house!


My first insect in the mail

About 2 weeks ago, an envelope showed up at the office for me. It contained the remnants of an insect.

The biggest piece was the abdomen, and luckily it was distinctive enough for me to ID the insect. It was a Western Conifer Seed Bug.

I really hope I get a microscope soon.

P.S. Our microscope request was approved! I should have it in a month. Just in time for it to actually feel like spring out here!

Leaving on a tiny plane...

I flew to Chicago this week for a one-day meeting. This meant that I got to experience the Pierre airport for the first time, and it is smaller than SCE. They don't let you go through security until your flight is called, and the planes are tiny. Like 2 seats across, propellers, if there aren't enough people we have to rearrange the seat assignments to balance the plane tiny. On the trip back when the co-pilot was going over the pre-flight instructions he asked us to keep our seat belts on for the whole trip because, really, where were we going to go? There's no bathroom.

Anyway, I did make it to Chicago and the meeting was at the Doubletree. It was a fancy hotel and I had a nice view of the Hilton which was probably even fancier.

I think it's a rule that the fancier hotel, the more expensive the internet is and there is never a mini-fridge.

Sioux Falls

We visited Sioux Falls last Sunday so I could give a talk about pollinator gardening at a Master Gardener event. On the way out, we saw a lot of geese. I think there were some snow geese mixed in with the Canada Geese.
The white dots are geese. We passed quite a few flocks stopping in the fields before they headed north.
There were also tumbleweeds. I'm not sure if they're official tumbleweeds, or just some other plant that does about the same thing, but Josh managed to hit one with the car.

Dead tumbleweed.
After my talk, we stopped at the mall and had a late lunch at the food court Culver's. I'm not sure if I mentioned Culver's before, but we discovered them on our trip out. They have fried cheese curds and frozen custard and are generally delicious.


South Dakota in the news

The story about the new South Dakota law allowing teachers and school employees to be armed while at work finally started making the national rounds (NYTimes article with comments here). I say 'finally' because it's been on the local NPR news for what feels like the past month. This is what happens when you live in the capital where these things are being decided.

I will say that I don't think this law is the most fantastic idea, but it is not mandating the use of firearms by teachers as some are saying. It's entirely up to each school district in the state whether or not they want to train and arm their employees. On my drive home today, I heard that the Sioux Falls school district is not planning on using the law. So it might be on the books, but I don't think the school districts are rushing out to buy guns for their teachers.

One of the comments on the NYTimes article from a more liberal South Dakotan said something along the lines of 'as a rule, people in South Dakota don't care what anyone else thinks of them,' and it seems to be true. South Dakotans could prove me wrong, and vote out every state legislator that voted this bill into law.

Things we found at Wal-Mart

Daylight savings time is pointless

Really. It is. Especially when you're living on the edge of a time zone. Pierre is in Central Time, and not too far across the river is where Mountain Time starts.

Last week, back when we were on actual time, it was light when I drove to work and the sun didn't set until after dinner.

Today, it was dark when I got up and I could see the sunrise from my office. Tonight, sunset is at 7:42. 7:42!


We made bread!

I'm not on Pinterest, but occasionally a pin will show up in my Facebook feed or on Twitter and I'll get curious. This time, it was a pin for something completely doable (thanks, Dee)!

After a trip to Wal-Mart (don't judge me - there aren't a lot of shopping options in this town), I had everything I needed to make no-knead bread (really, I was just missing the yeast).

My trust enameled cast iron pot. You pre-heat this in the oven and then plop in the bread dough.
The finished product!
The bread is really good. Sometimes when I make things from the internet it doesn't really go as planned (I'm looking at you, Pioneer Woman vodka sauce aka the Red Russian), but this bread is awesome. And easy.

I found the recipe here. We knocked the baking temperature down to 400-425 because our oven runs HOT. The next time we make this, I'm only going to use 1.25 tsp of salt. I used one of the tips from the comments, and put the dough on a piece of parchment paper, and then put that into the heated pot. It worked and was way easier than trying to manhandle the dough. I also made the mistake of mixing up the dough last night, and then had to deal with the oven and all that this morning while I was getting ready for work. Next time, I'll mix the dough up in the morning and then bake it when I get home.

If you're so inclined, you should definitely try this recipe. We're going to take full advantage of the fact that this apartment is very warm (like 75 degrees warm), and experiment with this recipe instead of buying boring sandwich bread.

There are a few slices of boring bread left for the geese. I'll take pictures.


South Dakota wildlife

We've covered Canada Geese already. And Prairie Chickens.

Today I give you, this:

The elusive Prairie Tribble.

As you can see, once you find their favorite habitat, they tend to hang out in groups:

It's best to leave them undisturbed, back away slowly, and hope they don't follow you home.