Hector & the Polar Vortex

This weekend felt normal(ish) for the first time in ages.

Saturday morning, we went out to breakfast. At an actual restaurant. It’s funny how something so routine that we used to take for granted felt like an absolute novelty.

It wasn’t exactly like the past. The staff wore masks; there were no condiments on the table; they offered digital menus with QR codes or disposable paper ones; and diners were seated at least six-feet apart. Definitely a “new normal,” but the food was delicious and Colonial House makes the best Bloody Marys in town, so I was one happy camper!

Side note: why are happy people often compared to campers? Does being in the Great Outdoors improve your mood so much it’s considered the pinnacle of bliss? I love camping, but have a few friends who think sleeping on the ground and dealing with the scent of wood smoke in their clothes is anything but fun. They might make happy “glampers” but would be grumpy campers. Maybe I’ll research this someday…

In any case, we really wanted to support this restaurant. They are family owned and have been a Rapid City fixture for 40 years—an eternity in the hospitality biz. The owner was a guest on a podcast I listen to a few weeks ago and got choked up over the closure because he missed that sense of community so much. These guys have gotten really creative during the pandemic (they packaged a bunch of their popular menu items into re-heatable TV dinners and turned their lobby into a mini grocery store), but the restaurant is huge and with razor-thin margins to begin with, couldn’t sustain a closure much longer. Tara and I were perfectly comfortable dining there, and hope to hit some of our other favorites in the coming weeks. Most Rapid City businesses have reopened, with similar safety guidelines and reduced hours. It’s a start.

We also stopped by a nursery. The plant kind, not the baby kind. Tara has been filling pots on the patio with plants and flowers, while I’ve been woking on transforming the plot next to our…umm…not sure what to call it, actually. We had a long discussion this morning over whether it’s a porch (my assertion) or a stoop (hers). Thoughts?

Is this a porch or a stoop?

Tara thinks she “won” because the internet describes them thusly:

  • A porch is “a sheltered area at the entrance to a building that has a roof and sometimes walls.”
  • A stoop is “a small staircase ending in a platform and leading to the entrance of a home.”

Both these definitions could apply, if you ask me. The area is sheltered and has an overhang. It’s also located at the top of a small staircase and, granted, isn’t any bigger than a platform.

Tomato, to-mah-to.

I know. You tell me!

In any case, Doris had a beautiful rock garden next to the storch (compromise!) with pink quartz, driftwood, and coral bells (small flowering plants). Much to our dismay, when they tore up our sewer line in November, they destroyed that area. It’s been a mound of dirt and rocks ever since. Rather than trying to re-create it, we decided to look at this as an opportunity to add our own flair to the ol’ homestead. I volunteered to tackle this project because it seemed like a great way to let my inner landscaper loose.

Never knew I had an inner landscaper TBH.

But apparently I do. His name is Hector and he likes birdbaths and whimsical garden decor. Go figure.

I picked up a couple of shrubs that shouldn’t grow too large (hope Hector knows what he’s doing!) but am holding off on planting them in the ground for a few days because polar vortex. No shit; it was 28º F (-2º C for my Canadian and European readers—you’re welcome) and snowing this morning. Nothing sticking on the ground, but Tara thought the shock of transplanting new shrubs might be exacerbated by the cold. We have a couple more days of this before the weather warms up again, so I’ll get them in the ground mid-week.

Hector’s off to a decent start.

I was able to salvage most of the pink quartz, so I’ll be spreading that on top of the dirt once everything is in place. I’m excited to see how this turns out!

With virtual happy hours all the rage, we decided to have one with a couple of PNW friends on Friday evening. Candace and I worked together at Fuel, and we started hanging out with her and her husband Devon shortly before we moved. I had never done one of these before and wasn’t sure how awkward it might be; I always find it distracting looking at myself on a screen. Turned out to be a lot of fun, though; we chatted for a solid two hours and showed off our groovy basement and liquor closet while they gave us a tour of their home. At one point, I joked that we weren’t wearing pants.

…or was it a joke?…

(Totally a joke, though I suppose pants could be optional in these situations.)

Gotta run. I owe a word to my mutha…

27 thoughts on “Hector & the Polar Vortex

    1. The sushi we ordered to go, which is kind of a weird experience: I feel like that’s one of those meals best suited to a dining-in experience. But once that wasabi hit my mouth, I didn’t care…it was delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Stoop for sure. Porches are larger expanses with room for chairs, tables, flower pots… and more than one person able to gather (when allowed). And covered. Porches must be covered as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I only call it a porch if you can put a chair on it and sit and watch the world go by. We had lake effect snow yesterday that covered the ground. I think this might be the latest I ever remember having that much snow. I can’t wait to go back to a restaurant. Customers didn’t have to wear masks? I’m hearing conflicting reports on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could put a chair out there and watch the world go by!

      Customers don’t have to wear masks, no. I don’t see how they even could, given that you’re there to eat and drink. I’m sure the policy varies by state and city, though.


  3. That’s awesome, Mark! It sounds like they’re taking all the necessary steps in keeping the customer AND them safe. And from your description, the also sounds like a really nice place. I love supporting family owned businesses.

    Being from a city, that looks more like a stoop than a porch because a porch is usually bigger and has room for a chair or two.

    LOVE the bird bath with the rocks surrounding it. It’s so cute!

    As always, sounds like you and Tara a great weekend. Today was stunning here. I was out in the parks for almost 3 hours. I think I got my first sunburn of the summer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I kept hearing about this record cold weather on the east coast, so I checked Philadelphia’s forecast thinking “maybe Ron will get lucky and finally see snow!” No dice, though. Instead, you’ve ended up with a sunburn.

      My condolences, my friend.


  4. My brain went into portmanteau mode before I even got to your voting box. I was like, “It’s totally a stoop, but for the sake of marital harmony, they should just compromise with storch or poo… oh wait.” Yeah, the alternative portmanteau might not be such a good idea.

    I once had a minor argument with a colleague over whether the entrance to our school was a vestibule (which is what I said) or an atrium (what she said). I won. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I grew up in a house with a stoop. What you have there is a stoop. My grandpa’s house had a porch which is way more fun to play on when you’re a kid. Stoop boring, porch fun. Wisdom gleaned from my youth.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. We’ve always had a porch, but my husband grew up with a stoop about half the size of your stoop and that’s why we have always had porches. Our children all want HUGE porches, I assume because we have never had a porch sizable enough to hold all six of us.

    Liked by 2 people

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