Variety is the Spice of Life

We made a Target run this morning, but managed to stay within budget for a change, only spending $150 when our shopping list totaled about $60. If you’re questioning how spending 2.5 times what we’d planned constitutes fiscal responsibility, then clearly you have never shopped at Target. Last time, we dropped $295 after planning on spending $75, so clearly, this is progress.

But I digress.

In the name of efficiency, we often split up in Target. Not in the “I’ve had enough of you, you stupid jackass!” sense; what I mean is, we go down different aisles to grab what we need. Tara is usually stockpiling cleaning supplies and toilet paper, while I’m hovering near the wine section. What can I say? We have different priorities. (We’re still not splitting-up-splitting-up, though.) In any case, after I’d grabbed a bottle of sauvignon blanc, I went to track her down. Found her in the pet food aisle, and to my delight, she was choosing cans of cat food very carefully, alternating flavors to ensure that Sydney had a wide variety.

That is true progress, because once upon a time, she scoffed at me for doing the same. One day soon after we began cohabitating, we were shopping for groceries and I freaked out because Tara was grabbing cans of cat food from the shelf and throwing them in the cart willy-nilly.

“What are you doing?!” I shrieked inquired.

“Buying cat food?” she said, turning a declaration into a question the way people do when they think the answer should be plainly obvious to the person with whom they are conversing. And then, adding insult to injury, she did it again: “It’s on the list?”

“Right,” I said, and began digging through the cans in the cart. “But look at this! You’ve got chicken, chicken in gravy, chicken pate, and…good lord, babe…another chicken in gravy!”

She stared at me blankly for several long seconds, oblivious to the point I was trying to make. “Yes, and…?”

Clearly, Tara had never gone shopping for cat food with me before. Not only do I mix up the flavors so no two cans are identical; when I stack them in the pantry I alternate between different proteins. Beef/chicken/fish. She’ll never be stuck in a rut with me around, that’s for sure.

“Sydney needs variety! It’s the spice of life, you know!”

At that point she laughed out loud. Said cats will eat whatever is in their dish and would happily scarf down chicken in gravy for a month straight without complaint. I, however, refused to accept this faulty logic. “Maybe so,” I conceded. “But she’ll grow sick and tired of it. She cares! I know she does!”

My soon-to-be wife simply rolled her eyes and humored me as I replaced all those cans of chicken with tuna and lamb and turkey.

Eight years later, here she is, doing the same thing she ridiculed me for when we first got together. And yes, she even stacks them in the cupboard the same way I do.

I’m glad she has finally seen the light.

You’d get bored with the same old chicken in gravy every day, too!

Saturday was warm. Record-breaking, even. Our high was 74º, which is about 30 degrees above average. With bright sunshine and a rare early taste of spring, Tara suggested we take advantage of the weather and go hiking. And with memories of last weekend’s Badlands trip still fresh, we decided to head out late in the afternoon so we would reach the summit of Buzzard’s Roost right around sunset.

This was an excellent idea…in theory. But once we arrived at the trailhead, we realized we might have been a little overzealous and jumped the gun a bit. The parking lot was a quagmire of mud, snow, and ice, and the trail wasn’t much better.


Fortunately, we had hiking poles. Unfortunately, that level trail got a lot steeper. Fearing for her safety, Tara decided to turn back, but encouraged me to go on ahead. Honestly, I was fearing for my own safety a little bit too, but the summit was tantalizingly close and we’d come all that way, so I continued my ascent very carefully. There were enough bare patches along the edge of the trail to provide me with semi-solid footing, and a few minutes later, I reached the top. The trail leveled off then, and it was fully exposed to the sun, so it was more muddy than anything else.

I was well rewarded for my efforts.

It’s amazing how the Black Hills give way to the endless flat prairie to the east.
View from the summit.
Another Saturday, another sunset.

I didn’t stay long, knowing that I had to get back down the trail and darkness comes quickly in the canyon. I ended up taking a different path down, which was a little bit longer but not as steep, and didn’t have as much snow and ice to contend with.


The nearly-full moon cresting the treetops stopped me in my tracks. (Literally. If I’d kept walking, the shot would have been blurry, duh.)


I met up with Tara at our pre-appointed rendezvous spot and we made it back to the truck without incident. And okay, fine, lesson learned: even though practically every bit of snow has melted in town, leaving our yard clear and barren for the first time in months, it’s a different story up in the Hills…especially on north-facing slopes. As eager as we were to hit the trail, it’s really best to hold off on hiking around here until April or May at the earliest.

Afterward, we drove a couple of miles to Hisega and treated ourselves to Mexican food from a restaurant we’d heard good things about.

Lemme tell ya, those margaritas never tasted better.

27 thoughts on “Variety is the Spice of Life

  1. Beautiful pictures. I love the isolation. I have 2 extra cans of cat food on my shelf this morning. I bought them for the stray cats but when one didn’t stop howling to remind me to feed him/her, I went my own way. We need our sleep and not being awoken at 3 am, 4 am. Cats are persistent.Dogs are good friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to buy cat food before I owned a cat, too. I figured I could either feed indoor strays or, if times got desperate and I ended up quarantined, at least I’d have a ready source of protein at my disposal.


  2. Long ago, with the last cat, I did exactly the same thing. I want variety in my meals, why wouldn’t a cat as well!
    The pictures you’ve been posting are amazing. I am thinking seriously that my geologically employed daughter and I need to plan a vacation to your area.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark, I had to laugh about selecting a variety of food for Sidney because I did the same thing when shopping for canned cat food for my two felines. I mean, I get bore eating the same food, so why wouldn’t my cats? I used to also feed them hard food, which I left out during the day in case they got the munchies. Even that I varied.

    Speaking off Sidney, that photo of her is ADORABLE! I had a cat in NYC that was calico.

    Wow…shocked to read that it was 74 degrees in your area. WOW! That’s even warmer than it’s been here. Tomorrow it’s supposed to go into the high 60’s, and to me that’s still to warm for this time of year.

    The views you captured at the top of the trail are gorgeous! They look like picture postcards.

    Hope you’re Mexican food was delicious. That’s another one of my foodie favorites.

    Have a superb week, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly it! Some people might be okay eating the same food several meals in a row (coughTARAcough), but I’m not like that. And neither is my cat!

      74 was ridiculous. The next day it was 38 and it felt like we had gone from summer to winter in the blink of an eye. It might even snow later this week…fingers crossed! Winter isn’t over yet; it’s just taking a little reprieve.


  4. That’s downright hot! We only made it to 60 degrees today, but I’ll take it!

    My method of Target shopping is to patrol the outer perimeter. That’s where they put the clearance merchandise, end caps that face the walls.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oof! I’m glad you made it up the icy path, and you’re right, the view was a great reward! So pretty!
    You know, I think some cats will eat just anything – maybe my girl cat. However, my big boy cat will only eat the tricolor kibble and my little boy cat moans when he eats the liver one in the purple can, so yeah, I’m pretty sure they’re like people that way.
    Congratulations on getting out of Target for under $200. It’s really quite a challenge! Sometimes, if I make it out under $150 I treat myself to an expensive coffee 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When we had two cats, one cat would only eat one flavor [mixed grill] while the other cat would only eat a different flavor [chicken]. I served two different entree daily, meaning one cat was happy at a time. Or I guess it was. With cats who knows for sure, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No kitten. Before reading these comments, I thought all cats were like Sydney, eager to scarf down a variety of flavors. Maybe I’ve actually created this monster…


  7. Oh look at that sweet kitty face!!! No, she most certainly does NOT want can after can of chicken in gravy!!!

    I remember the look one of my cats would get on her face if I came home from the store and said “I’m so sorry, Natasha…they were out of Beef Feast.”

    Lord how she loved Beef Feast and the stinkiest fish flavors.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m with you. No matter how much love and attention and treats I give my house bun, I still sometimes think he must be bored with his life. When I’m eating a particularly good pizza or curry at home I sometimes tell my bun I feel sad for him that he can’t eat what I’m eating. Then again, after a bad day at work I tell him how lucky he is to just sit around all day with no one to bother him. Anyway, my point is that I, too, like to get the exciting rabbit food with extra colorful bits in it so it’s not just pellets, pellets, pellets all day every day. Food is pleasure for 2-leggers and 4-leggers alike!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the problem is, we think our pets are bored because we anthropomorphize them, but maybe humans are actually the only creatures capable of experiencing boredom. Whatever…I’m still buying Sydney a wide variety of food!

      Liked by 1 person

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