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An eensy weensy check-in

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Some seasons can’t be wrapped up into compact little blog posts. So let’s just pretend that I haven’t not written here for a while – at least anything of substance – and catch up free-form. Like a meandering conversation – but with me talking into a megaphone (everyone’s dream).

We’ll start with the most important things, such as my sadness over Zayn leaving One Direction. Where do broken hearts go, Zayn? Things will never be the same. In light of his departure, I have reordered my ranking of best voice to worst voice to Zayn, Liam, Harry, Niall, Louis (Louis will always be last) – because what can I say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We didn’t know what we had when we had Zayn. Paved paradise and all that.

Now, an explanation for why I’ve been a bit MIA. In the past three weeks, I’ve been in nine different states (Foxy joining me for eight): Colorado, obviously. Then Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, and Minnesota. I am finally back home for the next two and a half weeks, reacquainting myself with my morning routine, exercise, and dry air. Each time I’ve reentered Colorado in the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a bloody nose. Love, your ideal woman.

Speaking of Foxy (not that we were, but let’s do), I thought about creating an ongoing series on this blog called Fox News – but then I remembered that it would all kind of be the same. She’s the best! I love her! We go on walks! She doesn’t eat her food! She’s scared of strangers and kids and balloons! She loves kittens! So there’s your Fox News, no Ann Coulter necessary. And if you’re feeling nostalgic, here’s a Then & Now warm fuzzy.

Foxy then now

I’ve made a list of things I want very much, but for financial reasons will need to pace myself in the procurement thereof. In no particular order, here they are: a new bike, a Shark vacuum, a Fitbit, a new rolly suitcase, a grown-up size CrockPot (right now I just have a little one), a new Sonicare toothbrush (mine died), and an entirely new wardrobe.

I am still working from my dining room, which means that I am still living in squalor, like a natural foods Grey Gardens. One hundred square feet is simply not enough space to house all of the STUFF my job requires, so it’s all spilling out into the rest of my 500 square feet and making me twitch.

And with that, I’ll let you get back to your day. Keep going! Pink bunny with the drum.

More adventures in flight

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

This morning when I woke up at 5am in Minneapolis, the “feels like” temperature was -30 degrees. “How am I going to make it from the hotel to my car?” I was legitimately afraid that somewhere in that 500 feet, I would freeze, suddenly, like a Neanderthal.

But my 7am flight would be leaving with or without me, so I made a run for it. It was like inhaling a block of dry ice – absolutely wicked, not in the Boston sense, but in the Witch of the West sense. My skin almost cracked right off me like a frozen shell. But because I am rugged in my soul – a hero, really – I made it.

As we lined up to board the plane, I put in my earplugs – because the only thing worse than being crammed into a tube with 150 other people is to be crammed into a tube with 150 other people that YOU CAN HEAR. Whenever I wear earplugs, I pull my hair over my ears so no one can see the bright blue foam – but this time, there in line, I was standing next to a man who was wearing earplugs too. Neon green.

And what on God’s earth convinced me that this would be a good idea, I will never know – but I caught his eye, tucked my hair behind my ear to reveal the earplug, and tapped it twice. Just like the early Christians would trace half a fish in the dirt with their toe, waiting for a stranger to complete it, it was our secret code. We were comrades – in the war against noise!

However (and telling the story now, I suppose predictably), Earplug Man did not see it this way. He quickly looked away and ignored me for the rest of the boarding process. I found my seat (far from this fellow noise hater), and we were off.

Mid-flight, it started. Music. Loud enough to hear through my earplugs.

“Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul…”

Someone was listening to the Doobie Brothers with no headphones on an airplane, which, in my mind, is worse than sin.

While the music was loud enough to cut through my earplugs, I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. I waited for the culprit’s seatmate or a flight attendant to politely ask them to stop disturbing their fellow passengers (because isn’t it a rule that you have to use headphones on an airplane?), but by now we were to the head-bobbing part where everything but the drums drops out and all of the DBros are singing a cappella in harmony and still, no one had intervened.

When Eric Clapton’s “Layla” started in, I shot up out of my seat like a Whac-A-Mole. WHO IS DOING THIS. WHO. My head on a swivel, I scanned the tops of heads looking for the miscreant, but the engines scrambled the sound and garbled my otherwise bionic hearing.

By the time “American Pie” rolled around, I felt myself shutting down. Everything within me was in agreement with Don McClean; this will be the day that I die. This will surely be the day that I die.

When I landed in San Francisco, it was 70 degrees, meaning that today I have experienced a 100 degree swing in temperature. I peeled off my down parka, changed from Sorels into flip-fops, and caught a cab into this gorgeous city. I’m here for work, just like I was in Minneapolis for work, and while I miss Foxy, I am grateful for a week of mixing it up – because there’s nothing like breaking routine to make me grateful to get back to routine.

In the meantime, I’m wishing this is how I got to San Francisco:

Flight of the Navigator

Northern exposure

Monday, June 9th, 2014

I spent the weekend in Minnesota along the edge of Lake Superior, an area called the North Shore. I’d been to Duluth once before – but that was in November, and I was really only there during the dark. I needed to see it in the summer, in the daylight.

I was not disappointed. Northern Minnesota is magic, and I had the dreamiest time.

On Friday, I drove north from Minneapolis and was in Duluth by 5pm. I checked into the Hampton Inn (which is basically just like the Hamptons), and immediately changed into my walking clothes; it was 85 degrees outside, and my very top #1 hobby is walking around. Talk about low-maintenance – someone marry me!


After a shower, I headed out on Friday night to realize a dream I’ve always held: to eat alone in a legitimate restaurant, a place with a menu and a server and a cloth napkin. For the amount that I hang out by myself, I don’t know that I’d ever gone out for the express purpose of dining alone – but I’m happy to report that everything went really well. I ordered Pinot Grigio and the truffle mac & cheese with bacon (a respectable Grown Up Lady meal). And because I tend to excel in situations where I don’t know anyone, I struck up conversation with the man sitting next to me.

He was a complete weirdo.

I wasn’t being flirty or anything – I just wanted to talk to someone. I wound up having my leftovers boxed up and walking back to the hotel, turning around every block or so to make sure he wasn’t following me. He wasn’t. I am not blogging from the grave. Hooray!

I had big plans for Saturday: I was going to hike 18 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail. With just 3 weeks to go until I set off to thru-hike the Colorado Trail, I felt the need to get some mileage in – but Mother Nature (that old hag) had other plans. When I woke up on Saturday, it was pouring rain.

Ever delusional, I got in my car at 7:30am and headed toward the trailhead. “It will burn off in the next 30 minutes,” I thought. “Rain never lasts.”

Oh sweetie. Welcome to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, all of which were apparently filled by ceaseless precipitation.

It kept raining. So I kept driving north. For hours. All the way to Canada.

And since I didn’t have my passport, nor a legitimate reason to flee the United States of America (besides the national debt, portion sizes, and Pat Robertson), I turned around. Still in the rain.

North Shore

When I stopped at the Java Moose in Grand Marais to order a chamomile tea, I noticed a massage parlor across the street – and it struck me. That would be a great place to wait out the weather. Whilst someone rubbed my body.

Let me tell you, the worst mistake I ever made was to have smelly massage oil smeared all over my skin, only to have the rain let up and therefore head out into the boggy, mosquito-ridden wilderness of Minnesota. I now have West Nile. I don’t even need a test – it’s just a fact.

I wound up hiking for a little bit around the Temperance River – which, for the record, shows no temperance. It shows rage.


Then I hiked 6ish miles around the Split Rock River, which I felt earned me all sorts of snacks and sweets. So I ate cookies and drove back to Duluth.

If you’re looking for natural beauty, lighthouses, interesting people-watching, and gift shops with names like Moose-scellaneous, get ye to the North Shore. It’s one of the most lovely, charming places I’ve ever been.


The whole time, I felt a million miles away from Seattle Pacific University, the school that used to be my address.

I don’t understand why some of us get to live longer than others. I don’t know why I was able to spend my weekend up to my eyeballs in beauty and charm, feeling wonderfully independent and alive, while others were forced to grieve. But I know that I can’t be okay unless you’re okay – because to quote the ever wise Frederick Buechner, “there can be no real peace for any of us until there is some measure of real peace for all of us.”

Seattle, from one waterside town to another, I’m sending you all my love.


Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

I am the girl who balances her checkbook. Makes her bed every day. Drives the speed limit. Plans in advance. Goes to bed at a decent hour. Projects ahead so the future will never take her by surprise. Always has a responsible amount of gas in the tank of her car.

This is what’s known as “foreshadowing.”

On Monday, while driving west from Kansas City to Denver after being gone for 10 days, Foxy riding shotgun and both of us desperate to get home to the Shotgun, my mind anywhere but present, I ran out of gas. Subaruthless just sputtered and gave up, right there on I-70.


Western Kansas was unseasonably warm that day, inching toward 80 degrees. And when the air conditioner died, so did the manic vim, vigor, and verve I’d been running on for a week and a half. I was spent.

My friends call me “the most extroverted introvert” they know, but for whatever amount of social prowess I might possess, the truth is that people, noise, and chaos drain me of my very lifeblood – and right there on the shoulder of the interstate, I realized that the past 10 days had been too much. They’d been good, really good – but they’d been too much.

When I finally arrived back in Denver and stumbled through the door of my house, dragging suitcases, a dog crate, an ice chest, three hardback books, two laptops, and one very squirrely puppy, I could have kissed the hardwood floor. But there’s no rest for the weary; I had errands to run, laundry to run, a dog to run, and a full day of work waiting for me the next day.

Disorganization makes me twitchy, like a spider. And a lot of areas of my life feel disorganized right now, the least of which is the explosion of detritus all over my house or the pile of receipts or the significant amount of sleep debt. Last night, I came home from work and, rather than taking care of the things that needed doing, opted to just twitch for a while instead – which means that today, my house is still a disaster, my calendar is sneaking up on me, I forgot to pack a lunch, and I’m wearing yoga pants at work (although… okay, yoga pants at work are not unusual).

I wish that life was like a gas tank, and that through a simple act of fuel in, our wheels would be guaranteed to keep moving.

Actually, I think that’s just called sleep.

I hope to emerge in a few days. Until then, my earplugs are in and I’m laser beam focused on getting my life back in order. If you know any happy news, please share it – I could use a little oomph in my day.


Friday, March 7th, 2014

This week, work has had me ping-ponging around the nation (and thus, ping-ponging around in the otherwise vacant warehouse known as “my head” – watch out for raccoons!). I needed to be in Minneapolis for meetings followed by Anaheim for a trade show, and all of that travel was going to equal 7 days.

Fine, except for Foxy.

Even for a snuggly wonder pup, 7 days is a really long time to ask someone to dog-sit – that is, unless “someone” is family. So what did I do? I left Denver last Saturday, drove east on I-70 for 600 miles, dropped the little mongrel with my champion of a mom, and arranged all of this travel out of an airport that is conveniently in the middle of the country. Way to go, Kansas City!

I spent a few days in Minneapolis immersed in meetings, the kind that are engaging and interesting and important but leave your brain feeling like a deflated pufferfish, depleted after all of that, well, puffing. Yesterday, I hopped a flight to California, and today I’m in Anaheim for National Products Expo West. After the craziness of the last week, I’m ill prepared for the extroversion it’s going to take me to get through the next 3 days – but it’s time to gird up my loins (any excuse to use that phrase, really).

It’s been an exhausting time, and the trip isn’t over yet – I still need to fly to Kansas City on Sunday night, and then drive 9 hours back to Denver on Monday. But the cause is noble – because like Schmidt says, “I’m in marketing, the backbone of capitalism. Without it, you’d be dead in two days.” Also known as my new professional motto.

(Also, if you are at the Anaheim Hilton and heard an alarm go off this morning, that was me accidentally opening a door to the roof. I’m sorry, and I hope I don’t get arrested.)


Monday, December 16th, 2013

Fear not, loyal readers – despite last week’s ridiculous debacle, Foxy and I have not been nabbed by the Canine Gestapo. It probably helped that I was out of town for the second half of last week, far from the arm of Colorado law in a mystical land called Wisconsin.

Actually, I was only in Wisconsin for one night. The bulk of my trip was spent in Minneapolis, a city I pop in and out of for work – but rather than holing up in a hotel room to order room service and catch up on “The Mindy Project” (not that I would have complained), I opted to spend Friday evening doing as the locals do. In this case, I was swept away to a truly bizarre place: Trollhaugen.

They call Trollhaugen a “ski resort,” but it’s really just a hill in Dresser, Wisconsin. Maybe they piled up some dirt with bulldozers? Who knows. What’s important is that the slopes are open until 3am, which, judging by the festivities I witnessed in the lodge, I can only assume leads to many a drunken concussion. But if there’s anything I’m learning about the folks up north (or as the ‘Sconcies* say, nort’), it’s that they are hearty stock.

Drinks were $3.50 (read: three dollars and fifty cents). I ordered the cheese curds, because when in Wisconsin – although upon delivery, I found them to be nothing more than string cheese nuggets that were battered and fried. Again – NOT COMPLAINING. Just giving you an accurate vision. College-aged kids swept in and out of the lodge all night, en route to another kamikaze run down the snowy hill. I kept my parka on the entire time.

And so the evening passed.

The only people I knew were the band that was playing, so during their set, I did something that I’m finding I quite like: I talked to strangers. For being an introvert, I really love people – and given the three significant moves to different cities in my adult life, as well as my propensity to go places by myself, I’m getting pretty good at talking to the ones I don’t know. The trick is to swallow your pride and get nice and comfortable with the awkward, because of course it will be awkward – at least for the first sentence or two, if not the entire interaction. Oh well, get over it. There are worse things in life than awkwardness (see: tapeworms, the DMV, velour sweatsuits, hangnails, loud talkers on airplanes, paper cuts, grenades, running out of hot water when you still have conditioner in your hair, litter, wet socks, people saying “irregardless,” slow internet, the way your hands feel after peeling an orange, cold sores, SeaWorld, stepping on a thumbtack, dental work, passive aggression, Styrofoam, perhaps the way this blog is ending?).


*I have zero idea if people from Wisconsin are known as ‘Sconcies, but if it’s not already a thing, please. Let’s make it a thing.


Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

This past summer, I helped run a singer-songwriter contest at work. This was one of the entries.

Is that guy Minnesota or what?

Gabriel Douglas wound up being one of the winners of the contest, and I met him in San Diego when he opened for Gregory Alan Isakov. His personality is bigger than life (as is his beard); he’s like a caricature of himself. He’s out of control. And since he makes me laugh A LOT, we became fast friends.

When we met, one of the first things he said to me was, “Duluth is the greatest city in the world.” Duluth. Duluth, Minnesota. The song above is about Duluth, Minnesota. And geographical chauvinist that I am, I knew that this could not possibly be true – Gabe Douglas must be very sheltered. Minnesotans must never get out.

Those humble Midwesterners – they’re so precious.

But when a work trip took me to Minneapolis last week, I decided to make the jaunt north on Friday night to hear one of Gabe’s bands play in – you guessed it – Duluth.

And I loved it.

Duluth is nestled on the shore of Lake Superior, built right up on a hillside. When I-35 dropped down toward the city, the lights were sparkling on the water and the stars were bright as flashbulbs. I used all of my hotel points for a room on the waterfront, and then walked up the hill to the little downtown strip.

We spent most of the evening at Tycoons, a bar/restaurant that used to be the City Hall, with a speakeasy in the basement that used to be the town jail, all “Not in Nottingham” style. Since Gabe was my only friend and he was busy being the Most Popular Man in Duluth, I made friends with the locals. By the time the show was over, I’d social butterflied my way around town, crashing into bed at 3am because Duluth makes you wild and crazy.

The next morning involved a stroll along the water, coffee at a bakery called Amazing Grace, and – once again – the confirmation that my assumptions aren’t always right. Of all places, I can’t wait to go back to Duluth, Minnesota. It charmed me.

[And speaking of charming, listen to this song Gabe wrote for his niece on her 3rd birthday. It’s magic. You’ll be happy the rest of the day.]

From the bottom

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

A few months ago, Fair Trade USA invited a few brands that source Fair Trade Certified ingredients, LÄRABAR being one of them, to tour some participating cocoa farms in the Dominican Republic. Naturally, I volunteered myself to go. Not being an incredibly experienced international traveler (prior to this trip, I’d been to Canada, Mexico, England, the Czech Republic, and Haiti), I got vaccinated, haphazardly threw together a carry-on suitcase, and this past Saturday, found myself in Santo Domingo.

The hotel had arranged for a driver to pick me up, and promised he would have my name typed on a sign (life dream come true). When I walked out of the airport, there were the men holding signs, but none of them said “Annie Parsons.” Instead, my eye was drawn toward a man who was wildly waving – waving at me. I walked toward him and he said my name: “Annie Parsons!” Yessssss? “I searched for your picture on Google Images!”

I am very Googleable.

His name was Victor, and his English was pretty good – which I was grateful for since my Spanish these days is very bad. He led me to his car, but before he lifted my suitcase into the trunk, I remembered that my hotel confirmation was buried somewhere in it. So I stopped him: “Un momento – I need to get something from the bottom.”

I wish you could have seen the look on his face. Confusion? Horror? Amusement? Yes to all. And it soon became clear that when I said “from the bottom” he thought I meant a DIFFERENT kind of bottom, which is one of the best misunderstandings of my entire life. Victor and I laughed the whole way to the hotel, because if there’s anything that crosses cultural barriers, it’s butt jokes.

I spent a very full 2 days learning how cocoa is grown and processed, and met some precious people whose livelihood is cocoa farming. I ate empanadas and fried plantains. I sweated – Lord, did I sweat. I issued a personal challenge to myself to translate the chorus of Katy Perry’s “Roar” into Spanish (“Tengo el ojo del tigre…”). And I came away with a deeper appreciation for the Fair Trade movement and what it means to farmers.

Plain and simple, Fair Trade is a model in which fair prices are paid to workers in developing countries. When a product is Fair Trade Certified, it means that it was produced in an ethical manner; environmentally sustainable farming methods are required, and forced child and slave labor are prohibited. In some cases, the product might cost a little more – but that premium is routed back to the community where, by a democratic system, the farmers decide how to invest the funds.

For the group of Dominican farmers we met, they’ve chosen over the years to use the money to help them build drying and processing facilities for their cocoa beans. While they used to have to outsource those steps, now they can bypass the middleman and sell their beans at a higher price. In a world of corrupt supply chains, the farmers are often the most easily cheated out of a fair wage – so the Fair Trade premiums help ensure a just income from the bottom (there it is again) up.



Now listen, I’m a thrifty girl. What’s the least amount of money I can spend to get the most amount of stuff? Let me tell you, there’s an answer to this question, and it can be found within the walls of Wal-Mart (for shame). I’ve purchased things from Forever XXI (double for shame). When deciding between two products that serve basically the same purpose, I’ll generally choose the less expensive. I love a good deal, and historically, I’ve sought it out.

But my insistence to pay the cheapest price very well might be at the expense of someone else’s living wage, or even their freedom.

I live in America, which automatically makes me one of the richest people in the world. I, like most of you, have some level of expendable income, and I get to choose how to spend those dollars each month: do I want to go out to eat? Go shopping? Splurge on foundation at Sephora? I can blow through money faster than you can say “Mas cosas, por favor!”

Admittedly, global economics is a bit out of my wheelhouse, and I know that poverty is a humongous and complicated issue. But here’s what I think. We have money, and we’re likely going to spend it anyway – so why not choose to support responsible vendors? This seems like a no-brainer, and a really good place to start. Sometimes it might cost a little bit more. But trust me, you have that money. I have that money. And as such, we have an opportunity to choose products that don’t just make the rich richer. Let’s support companies with a conscience.

Fair Trade USA, I was so grateful to be included in this trip. Thank you… from the bottom… of my heart.


New York

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

So many things were old hat: the quick note of my parking row, the toiletries in Ziplocs, the train to concourse C, the weight of my book-laden purse. After all, this was my third trip in so many weeks; I am no stranger to Southwest Airlines and Denver International Airport.

But as I boarded the plane, I felt an alien sort of energy: the destination was unfamiliar.

And waking up this morning in a very plush Hilton, the unfamiliarity was confirmed. I am in New York City. Word.

Prior to today, I have only been to New York once – five years ago. Another life ago. I spent a week crashing on my sweet friend Heidi’s pull-out couch in Brooklyn, and hoofed myself all over the city with absolutely no idea what I was doing.

One night, I was on the subway around 1am when the train just… stopped. Everyone off, they said. Trouble on the tracks.

So I took the stairs up to the open air of the dark night streets, and looked around for some sign of what to do next. Street signs did me no good; I had no context for where I was, and the hint of red wine lingering around my edges wasn’t exactly helping. I figured that I would get on the bus that I saw some of my fellow/former trainmates boarding, and just see what might happen.

Inexplicably, and hours later, I made it back to Brooklyn that night, elated at my sheer moxie (when really, it was all due to a merciful stranger who nothing short of spelled out directions for me). I had had a CLOSE CALL in New York, New York, and lived to tell the tale.

Yes, I acknowledge my naiveté. But I also acknowledge the possibility of my very large face on a very tiny milk carton. Touché.

In addition, I acknowledge the fact that I just used é twice.

This week, I am in New York for a work event – something rather outlandish and fun in and of itself. But I’m extending my visit through the weekend to a) rendezvous with the one and only Valerie Morby, b) test out the services of airbnb, and c) attend “Newsies” on Broadway. If there was any weekend to be jealous of my life, this is it.

Back in August, I started the book Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, but wound up shelving it when life got crazy. On a flight to Austin just a few days ago (I told you – flights in abundance these days), I started reading again, and I finished it last night en route to New York.

In the last 15 pages, I underlined this: “One of the beauties of New York is that you can be from anywhere and within moments of landing it is yours.”

I’m wide open to that possibility.

Runaway train/bus/thoughts

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

These days, life is like a runaway train.  It’s like that movie “Unstoppable,” except – spoiler alert! – that train actually stopped.  It’s not still barreling out of control through Pennsylvania.  Not that I’m barreling out of control through Pennsylvania, either, but…

Okay.  Analogy over.

All I’m saying is that life has been busy and full, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.  So maybe it’s less like “Unstoppable,” and more like the bus in “Speed.”  And I’m Sandra Bullock, somehow, so far, successfully navigating my way through a complicated network of roads, and thinking that I ran over a baby, but it wound up just being a baby carriage full of pop cans, and for the moment, we’re all just catching our breath.

First of all, I have news.  The Hooker House has a new addition: Becca and I have a new roommate.  She has moved into the room that used to be my home office, and if you’ve known the Parsons for any length of time, then there’s a chance you know her, too.

Her name is Hannah, and here she is as a child.

I know.  Things are about to get really good.

In other news, I’ve barely been sleeping in my own bed.  After six days at Sundance in Utah, I spent the first half of this week in Minneapolis for work.  This morning, I was supposed to fly to Seattle for a dear friend’s wedding, but Denver’s heavy blanket of snow canceled the flight.  I was rescheduled for an afternoon flight, but just got the call that they canceled that, too.

I’m not going to Seattle.  Frowny face.

My bedroom looks like a dirty bomb exploded.

I’ve switched to cash envelopes.  Dave Ramsey is really proud of me right now.  (Sidenote: I talk about Dave Ramsey like he’s a real person.  Yes, I KNOW that he’s a real person – but he doesn’t know who I am.  I talk about him like we have a personal relationship, and I imagine his reaction to all of my financial choices, sort of like when I was a kid and I imagined the various reactions to everything that I did by all seven members of the Baby-Sitters Club.  Mark my words: one day, when I’m debt free, Dave Ramsey will know who I am.  Oh yes.  He will know.)

I’m sure you’ve seen this video.  But I just have to make a point of saying that I have watched it over and over, and think it’s the greatest ever.  Dang, I miss “Veronica Mars.”

Tomorrow is my half-birthday, which means, yes, I have 6 months and 1 day left in my 20s.  I can’t wait to be in my 30s.  I’ve waited my whole life for my 30s.  People in your 30s, it’s the greatest, isn’t it?  Tell me that it’s the greatest.

And now, it’s time to figure out what my Friday is going to look like.  If it’s not going to include a trip to Seattle, then I’m sure it will consist of exciting things like “going to the gym” and “cleaning the kitchen” and “swinging by the dry cleaners.”  A little bit of snow has never scared Subaruthless.