Fences and California

We are off to California tomorrow, er, today. It’s actually Monday as I type right now, having just packed my week’s items into my backpack. We couldn’t dig any luggage out of the garage but we did find our backpacking backpacks.

Me: I’ve never dealt with so much laundry in all my life. 
Andy: I’ve never washed so many dishes in all my life.
Margot: I found thirteen more worms!
Ruby: Wook! Worm! Oh, honey.

The last time I travelled with this pack, like for days, seems like a lifetime ago. I measured and weighed each component, I rolled my one pair of pants around a toothbrush and rice. I shimmied my water filter in at the last moment and slapped my thermarest to the exterior. The last time I remember really using this pack for its intended purpose I carried my skis in the spring up Taylor Peak in Wyoming.

Me: We seriously have SO MANY socks. 
Andy: Yeah. We make a lot of dirty silverware.

This time, after packing my kids’ stuff with exquisite detail, I muscled five days of clothes into that same space, under my faded sharpie name on the yellow webbing. I drank a gin and tonic while I dyed my hair, while I talked on the phone to my best friends we are going to visit, while noodles boiled, while I pulled laundry from the line, while the kids scooped sawdust into buckets, while Andy cleaned up from his third 12-hour day of digging fence post holes.

Andy: Babe, I am going to bed.
Me: Will you please pack tonight. I have to work in the morning before our flight.
Andy: I am only packing a pair of pants, flip flops, hiking shoes and some t shirts. It’ll work out ok.
Me (elbow deep in backpack, jenga-ing three pairs of shoes together): Aha.
Andy (under-reacting to the several carefully packed bags already by the front door): You could totally do the same.
Me: Yeah but then I wouldn’t be your foxy wife in mint green jeans. 
Andy: True.

The purpose of our trip is to visit our old, best friends. I met Lindsay 23 years ago when she stepped on a frog. I met Paige 16 years ago in the dorm bathroom. The three of us fall into a perfect rhythm when together: we are hilarious, smart and unstoppable. They both settled in northern California where they fell in love with amazing men. And our men all love each other too. It really is perfect. Tomorrow (today), we unite for four solid days and get to meet Paige and Arann’s baby boy. Holy smokes I can’t wait.

So we leave, a wake of activity in Missoula. Chicks and hens meeting each other and a garden being fenced in.


We introduced Cup and Gold to the flock by placing all the hens in the new run we constructed.


The space was new to all the girls; no chicken had clucked there before and I peppered the ground with freshly dug grass with lots of bugs. 16 Months (above) was the most fired up about the whole thing.


The wee ones kept mostly to themselves and all went well.

Cup and Gold are still separated and will exchanges vows with the elders when we return. The introduction went well.

After eleven million conversations and an equal number of researching hours, we finally decided on a fence plan. 

We scored a pile of reclaimed corrugated metal (from Heritage Timber) for our Epic Fence Project. 

My strong man dug and dug and measured and cut assembles and dug all weekend long.


Taking breaks to tie new swings for his daughters. 

The man has mad knot skills.

I dug two holes. Andy dug 32.


I was blissfully distracted by the dirt. ALL THE SOIL LOOKED LIKE THIS. Oh man, y’all.

More fence stories soon. For now, a little glimpse. Also, my new garden plot is gorgeous and 24×36 feet of loamy, sunshiney promise.

And, hey, while I am in California, I’d love to meet you! A casual chin wag, cheers sort of thing at The Sycamore in San Francisco. I’ve never done anything like this before and it sounds fun as so many of my favorite readers hail from the lovely area. If you are around and into it, come on down between 5 and 7 tomorrow night (Tuesday, May 1). I’ll be the lady in mint jeans near two beautiful, irresistibly hilarious women.

48 Responses to Fences and California

  1. Tammi says:

    Safe travels to you and the family. I will miss you (again!). If you’re reading this now, get some sleep!

  2. Heather says:

    Love the peeks into yourlifeyou share with us. Have a wonderful trip, I can feel your excitment! If I livedin Cali I would be running to clink a glass with you!

  3. PapillionMom says:

    OH MY! That soil is amazing looking. Wonder how much it would be to have 500lbs of that shipped to Nebraska? I swear our house was built on clay and the more I add rich soil to it the more the clay seems to multiply.

    Enjoy your trip. I hail from So. Cal and if I still lived there I would totally drive 8 hours north to meet up with you!

  4. Liane says:

    How exciting! Enjoy your trip! xx

  5. TRB Holt says:

    How fun to find this this morning….I was missing Mamalode! Have a wonderful trip! xoxo

  6. mumofsix says:

    It’s funny to think back to packing before kids. My husband always sighs when he sees my case. I have to remind him that my case includes 6 kids and me while his is just for him. I think I do pretty well. Not that we go away very much!

    Have a safe trip. Sounds wonderful.

    Love the photos of Cup and Gold. I can hear their gulps!

    Also love crocs on the wrong feet x

  7. Malissa says:

    I love your fence. Looks like a lot of work! Have fun in San Francisco! If I were in San Francisco I would join you lovely ladies tomorrow for a drink! :)

  8. ctb says:

    vacation? no you didnt… have so much fun with your gals.

    the yard looks awesome, cant wait to see more as garden season comes straight at us.

    safe travels to you and yours :)

  9. Peeper says:

    I’ll see if I can make it there in time tomorrow night. I work on 16th and Alabama so it’s really close by but we don’t round on inpatients until 6:30, which is cutting it close time wise. I can see me arriving just as you’re all heading out the door. I’ll be the pregnant one who looks exhausted after a 12 hours work day :)

  10. Britta says:

    Safe travels! Are you rocking BFF necklaces in that last photo? Love it.

  11. figwittage says:

    Sounds like so much fun Nici! Enjoy your time in Northern California (my husband almost got a job in the San Francisco area!) Mint green jeans sound awesome! I cannot imagine myself or my husband (super techy nerd) digging holes for a fence. Were there lots of swears? Would have been on my end! xx

  12. Ah! I wish I weren’t busy tomorrow! I am only an hour away from the city and would love a chance to pat you on the back and thank you for all of the inspirational seeds you plant. So, I will instead say, “Thank you, Nici. For all that you promote and inspire. Have a great time in the city!”

  13. Peggy says:

    Oh my! That dirt looks good enough to eat. Have you ever heard of those people who crave (and eat) dirt? I think it’s mostly clay they crave–and boy, could I hook them up with some red Georgia clay!! I must admit, it does smell good, it’s just not so good for growing tomatoes in.
    Have a great time with your sweet friends! Can’t wait to read all about it!

  14. Whitney says:

    How is everything in your life so beautiful!?!? Your children, your environment, and now your friends!?!? What a lovely life.

    I wish that I lived in NorCal…I’m sure that an evening with you and your ladies would be so much fun.

  15. Daniele says:

    Cool, wish I was in that area to meet you, that would be so much fun.
    I have been planning and digging this past weekend too. We are planting four foot lilac bushes along a chain link fence line and I cannot stop obsessing over how far to plant them away from the fence! Don’t want to take up too much of the yard but want to give them space. I can only imagine how my brain would be in constant plan mode doing an entire garden.
    Have a fun trip!

  16. memomuse says:


  17. Jess B says:

    I cussed a little blue streak when I saw that dirt! We are in the middle of tangling with Tennessee clay and rock…So looking forward to seeing the beautiful stuff you grow.

  18. Ellie says:

    Oh man, I am not sure if I can make it to the Mission between 5-7 pm. Hubby works at least until 5.30 pm and we don’t have childcare that time of day and it would take me at least an hour to get there in traffic…Looks like the place is not exactly suited for kids, is it? Otherwise, I could drag the kids…
    Anyway, will see what I can do. Would be so lovely to meet you.

  19. Amy says:

    You seriously have no idea how bad I wish I was in NorCal right now – not only because, duh, its San Fransisco, but also, I would LOVE to meet you!!
    No trip to Canada any time soon, eh?
    Can’t wait to see more of this fence, I am a little perplexed at it!
    Have a FANTASTIC trip!
    Good for you on the mint green pants, that is one band wagon I just simply will not jump on – I lived it in the fifth grade, I don’t need to again!!

  20. Judybusy says:

    The trip sounds so fun–can’t wait to hear all the details. I, like so many others, am looking forward to see how the new house and garden unfold.

    And, yeah, it would be so great if you did a meet-up here in Minneapolis!

  21. Annie says:

    So fun to meet your readers and for them to meet you. I’d love the opportunity when you come to the Twin Cities next!

  22. Natalie T. says:

    love a man that can knot. i got me one too. Say hi to Petaluma for me!

  23. Jayne Barnes says:

    That is really beautiful dirt!

  24. Kate says:

    That last photo has me missing my girlfriends! Have a wonderful trip, looking forward to your post when you return.

  25. Have a wonderful trip full of catching up, baby oohing/ahhing, wine, and wonder! I won’t be able to make it to SF, but will be with you in spirit.

  26. That sounds like such a fun reunion. Enjoy! :)

  27. KWQR says:

    Will totally be there tomorrow! Probably with husband & little baby in tow, but will definitely stop in to say hi.
    Safe travels!
    p.s. Are you kidding me with that dirt?!? Lucky you!
    Can’t wait to see what you grow.

  28. Kelle says:

    So glad you are making this trip and love watching your little traveling souls on Instagram. Have fun, can’t wait to hear all about it. xo

  29. Hazel says:

    Hope you have a fab time in California with your friends, it sure sounds like you will.
    Post hole digging, like you I watched Rob do our fence post assemblies. But it’s looking good so far, almost sculptural.
    Your new garden plot sounds fantastic, and your soil. Looks good enough to eat!

  30. I love the industrial feel of your new fence. It’s so unique. And once again, I really pray that you have a dishwasher upstairs in the new house. I hate wads of dishes too.

    So glad to see that you survived your packing, your morning and are now relaxing. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

    And that soil. Holy. Wormy. Loamy. Eeek! Is this the universe paying you back for all that back-breaking work you put into your soil back at your past house? I do hope so.

    :) Jennifer

  31. That SOIL!!! Holy smokes. Love your reclaimed fence idea. I instantly got on the interweb and looked at our options as we’re putting in a privacy fence soon, too. I am curious about the cost, because from my research so far, the reclaimed materials are actually more expensive than, say, new wood panels (and we are on a bit of a budget). And, that SOIL!!!

  32. Kelly Cach says:

    Oooooh! Can’t wait to see your finished fence….I’m DROOLING! We are planing on putting reclaimed corrugated metal half way up our basement walls!

    What was (is) the name of your friend who makes the wooden spoons and such? Does he have a shop yet? We just had our annual Dogwood Festival and was TOTALLY wishing you’d have had a booth there! Someone with a “BigSky” something er other sign was selling upcycled skirts from T-shirts! I would have bought one if it was from you :) I did buy some wooden spoons & a crepe turner, but I need spatulas…..and I remembered your guy friend but not his name :)

    Have a blast & I gotta say, that last picture of you is SO beautiful….beautiful like made me stop and take an extra short little gasp and called me niece over to see this pretty picture of a pretty lady :)

  33. Kelly Cach says:

    Oh, and I meant to say that the booths/tents were at the Art Under The Elms event during our Dogwood festival….always around this time in April. Seriously, one of my favorite times of year around here in Lewiston, Id. We actually get a little tatse of culture and we only live half a block from the college where they set it all up.

    YOU SHOULD COME SELL SOME STUFF NEXT YEAR! I have extra bedrooms 😉 And again, I’d buy some stuff :)

  34. Peeper says:

    Weird, I thought for sure that I posted a comment yesterday morning? I’ll try to make it tonight. I work pretty close by but we don’t even start rounds until 6:30, which means that I probably will get there just at about 7:00! Nevertheless, I’ll do my best – its’s always fun to make new friends.

  35. Melissa says:

    Nici, I can’t make it before my group starts at 6:30, too squeezy, boo. But I think Peeper and I work at the same place so if she comes, tell her to look me up. I am Melissa Whippo at work. Have fun! xoxo

  36. Have a great trip! Please bring back some warm, sunny weather :)

  37. Unknown says:

    Ack! I’m just reading this now and won’t be making it into SF tonight. Boo. Have a great eye-locking time with the gals though. We’ll catch up soon.

    Nice fence!

  38. FinnyKnits says:

    I am not “UNKNOWN”! Stupid Google accounts…anyway, soon my dear. Have a blast in SF.

  39. Excited to see some of you! Ellie, I think the sycamore is a restaurant that allows kids. Kate, yay!

  40. Ellie says:

    I’m sorry we didn’t make it, Nici…the boy woke up with a stomach bug this morning (which I think I am also getting this very moment), and with no one to leave him to, I couldn’t bring myself to drag him along. Bummer.
    We’re coming to Missoula for two weeks in August, so perhaps we can stop by and say hello then?

  41. Weren’t you preggers in that green top and stripey pants with a wee little Ruby?
    Lovely pictures of dirt and earth moving to settle your family. The fence looks amazing. What a talented hubby, and I snickered at the similarities of our men with their knots and their ‘it’ll all work out’ philosophy of travel.
    Have a wonderful trip. xoxo

  42. Susan S says:

    Andy Cline–Cornish pasties, my friend! They will save you from silverware! Here’s a sample recipe http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegetable-cornish-pasties/,

    but there are so very many varieties. Also, and I’m sure you’ve thought of this, pizza. No silverware, and really, hardly a need for a plate, even.

    As to the laundry, well, hmmmm . . . Layers really do wreak havoc with laundry quantities, don’t they? Summer should help.

    Do have a wonderful time on your trip! Looking forward to fantastic pictures and narative.

    Happy sunny days!

  43. Wow, I used to live at 24th and Mission! I hope you’re having fun!!! xo

  44. @Peeper, It was SO lovely to meet you! Your first comment was stuck in spam…just found it. Wishing you all the best with your exciting changes coming up.


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