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The family meal was yesterday...I used MyFitnessPal to estimate about 1700 calories just from that one meal! Even if you take just small dollops of each dish, it adds up quickly!

One of my sisters has taken on the role of hosting the meal -- my mom is up in years now. I do my Tree Trimming every year, so I'm not sure I would want to cook and host another meal each year. And the other sister doesn't cook!

My contribution, as usual, was a salad. With the recall of romaine lettuce, I was only able to get spinach for the greens. I added blueberries this time, which I think I will not do again -- they didn't add much flavor, and I think there are other candied berries I would prefer.

It was good to see my family. I showed my New Mexico pics to my parents. And here's a gif of my sisters and I --
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The Thanksgiving meal with friends yesterday was nice and relaxing...I came up stuffed and pleasantly wined! My contribution was a Spinach Gratin -- VERY rich, but good.

Family Thanksgiving dinner is this weekend, so this will be a gluttonous weekend!
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...but Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Now I know why I block this jackal on Twitter! I see enough of these Tweets just by reading news articles.

By the way, we used to be shocked that a president would even tweet, and more shocked that he would tweet so indecorously, but you never really hear anything about that anymore. There's a lot of boundaries he has crossed, as he drags us through the mud.
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As the trip fades in memory....I culled through a few more pics, and de-saturated a couple. Here are a couple of pics, one from White Sands, and one from Bisti, that I de-saturated -- pics to match the memories fading.

Desaturated White Sands

Looks like an old graveyard

I think I'm finally back in work mode.

And my annual Christmas party is on my mind. I've been buying food, and cleaning house for it. This coming holiday weekend, I will have 2 different Thanksgiving dinners...also getting ready to make recipes to take with me to those. Lots to do!
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Fitful sleep last night -- one bad dream followed by another! It was a night when waking up in the morning was a relief! There was one particular dream that I have almost no details about, only that I remember being in the deep forest alone with no light. And it was particularly uncomfortable.

After the next bizarre dream, I did manage to rouse myself to make some notes. FYI -- what follows is NOT a great story or anything -- just a collection of details about frustrating, gross and uncomfortable situations!

The dream opens with me searching for my airline baggage in a big pile in the middle of a small London square. The ground is dirt not asphalt, so maybe it is the 1800s. So yes, anachronistically there is airline baggage in the dirt of an 1800s London square. I am very frustrated because my checked bag is not in the pile.

Next I run into a former friend unexpectedly. She is also looking for her luggage, also seems frustrated and upon seeing me delivers an accusatory declaration that we keep meeting, and that at these accidental meetings I am interacting with her in a manner not to her liking for some reason. Her face is blotchy whereas I remember that she always had great skin tone!

Now, I'm standing on the side street at a covered shop entrance. There is a cop and two of his goons standing on the street keeping watch. I'm standing in the covered entrance while this mean looking, cloaked guy is feeling me up -- running his hands all over me. This is NOT a pleasant experience, and it seems I am only submitting to this gross touch because the cop has insisted. We both have all our clothes on, so it's not intimate, just gross.

Anyway, next the gross guy is gone, and I'm out on the street complaining to the cop. He is quite tall and broad-shouldered and appears to be Irish with gorgeous strawberry blond hair, a large nose and smallish mustache. He called one of the two goons by the name of Francis, and he orders them to go to the baggage to search.

The cop is one of those guys who does bad things and then acts apologetic for it. I remember rolling my eyes in the dream because I hate fake apologies!

Next I'm sitting down the street at a corner to get my bearings. This trip has started out on a very wrong note, and I need to decide what to do next now that I only have my carry-on bag and have lost my checked luggage.

Did I mention there are sick and dying people lying all around on the sidewalks? My first thought is that they have the plague, although I have no knowledge of plague symptoms.

One sick little girl attacks me, and her eyes are darting all around me looking for opportunities to steal the bag I am carrying. I fight her off and notice that her skin is putrid, yellow, and squishy and after our fight some of her flesh is trapped under my fingernails. I am grossed out now and wondering if I am going to be infected with whatever sickness they have!

And THAT is where the dream ended...and I woke up. The dreams really were not happy last night!
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Twice a year I move my grandmother's lemon tree - outside in the spring and inside for the winter. Today was the winter move to indoors.

Couple of things:
1) The pot I transplanted the tree into last year has nothing to grab hold to, so it's really hard to grab it to lift.
2) Usually I withhold water so that the tree dries out -- so that it is as light as possible. But this year, it has rained nearly all year, and even though I put plastic over the pot last week, it didn't help -- water always finds a way.
3) The tree is much fuller than usual because I fertilized it regularly last year.
4) I am no longer a spring chicken, and lifting the tree is just hard.

I say this to say that the tree was ENORMOUSLY HEAVY! I mean damn -- I could not lift it by myself this year! I got a friend to help, but it was still very difficult. And I am now exhausted!

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I was looking for an old picture, and instead I found a screen capture from my very first conversation online with my Brazilian friend .... he has helped me a lot with my Portuguese! I sent him this screen capture tonight!

We first met each other in person at Tropical Smoothie café....he had said he liked fruit, and this was the only place I could think of that had fruit smoothies, lol!

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I went to Chaco again this trip, and experienced the last 5 miles of washboard dirt road to get there, omg...but I did NOT experience the same feeling of 'not being alone', -- when I was totally alone -- as before. Partly because I got to Pueblo Bonito just after a busload of kids, lol!

Still glad I went back.



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When I arrived and was driving around Farmington, I kept seeing these beautiful yellow trees everywhere! I had no idea what they were, and then I later found out that they were Fremont Cottonwoods...an indicator of permanent water...and very pretty in the Fall!

How pretty!

When I travel, I have learned to allow myself down time. Travel is stressful, and you need some down time...some rest time...some recovery. After Bisti, I needed some rest, so one afternoon I spent walking around a park along the river and admiring the beautiful, yellow Cottonwoods!
Cottonwoods in the Fall / Bridges and Fall foliage

Animas River in Farmington


Cottonwoods along the Animas River in Farmington
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The last day I was in Farmington, I had nothing planned. And there was a picture that I wanted to take, but it was 2.5 hours drive away, and I had to be there by 10ish AM. I was feeling so lazy that I did NOT want to get up early and do that drive!

But I did get up, and I think I got a decent photo for the trouble. This is "House on Fire", taken with my iPhone:
House on Fire in Mule Canyon near Blanding Utah

The effect of fire is caused by the sun reflecting off the rock in front of the pueblo. This happens as the sun comes up behind the pueblo, and shines over into the canyon. Once the sun gets too high in the sky and the sunlight gets too direct, the effect stops.

So I had been reading that the effect happens between 10AM and Noon .... but I could never tell what time of year that was (standard time or daylight savings...). It's a 20 minute walk (a mile or so) from the trailhead to the site, so I figured I needed to be there by about 9:30. I got to the trailhead and arrived at the site on schedule...and then I waited....and waited...and waited. I think I could have gotten there an hour later and been fine, lol!

Here's a pic from a different angle. You can see a little of the 'fire' to the right - but the fire effect really is dependent on the angle.
House on Fire in Mule Canyon near Blanding Utah

One thing to note is that there is a small fee for the park service when you go on this hike. But when I got to the trailhead, I didn't see a place to play. It turns out that the fee box is just after you turn off the highway onto the dirt road. I totally missed it. I ended up paying on the way out (I don't mind paying small fees to help the park service).

I think this might be a place that I visit again when I go back to Utah.
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I haven't been feeling well since this weekend. So after I walked over to vote this morning, I decided I needed to take a day off. Feeling sniffly, run down, etc. so I'm just going to rest...and the rainy, overcast day makes for a good day to do that!

I sent this text to friends about a weird feeling I had this morning: "As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I could hear “It’s Raining Men” by the Weathergirls playing. And I had a weird premonition that I was in the opening scene of some B rated alien visitors movie, where the main character is getting ready in the morning and for no reason is a little troubled."

So yea, I think I need a rest, lol!
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For the first time, I think my iPhone rivals my Canon! I mean, phones take great pics now, but previously I could ALWAYS get a better picture by taking RAW images on my 'big camera', as I call it.

And that hasn't exactly changed...but for the very first time I am comfortable having 'just' the iPhone XS. They say the best camera is the one you have with you, but I always wanted to have the Canon with me. And I still do. But seriously, I was impressed with the XS photos!

Still if I need a long zoom...certainly I would use the Canon. Or if I were going to print an image at a larger size -- definitely would need the image taken from the Canon. Or if I wanted to use my wide angle lens, again Canon. But I really was impressed by the shots I got with the iPhone XS, and I think it would suffice for a lot of situations!

Here's a pic with the iPhone on the left and Canon on the right. I'm pretty satisfied with either! (Don't judge them by the warmth or lack thereof of the colors -- they were both edited - one on the phone, and the other in Lightroom. I wasn't intending to keep them the same. This just an example of the detail of the iPhone XS on the left and the Canon on the right.)
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White Sands a ways off from Las Cruces is a "national monument" as opposed to a "national park". I'm not sure what the exact definition is, but it seems that "monuments" are smaller, have fewer personnel and less money to do things. They also tend to be cheaper, and easier to visit.

I didn't know my plan for White Sands. I just figured I would wing the photographs, and I got some decent ones. I went to the Alkali Trail, which is at the opposite end of the loop, when the loop is turning back towards the entrance.

I enjoyed it. I'd like to go again when I wasn't exhausted from traveling, and I'd like to stay until sunset because there are some good photos to be had! There were lots of patterns to look at...and as usual, early morning and evening would be best for photography -- bright light of day would NOT be ideal! The site is heavily visited -- lots of folks coming and going!

Speaking of lots of people...these patterns in the picture are NOT natural -- these are footsteps, lol! Still an excellent photo!
White Sands National Monument NM

In this one, I think the woman in the distance on the dune to the right is taking a selfie, lol! #ModernLife
White Sands National Monument

Is that a VW Bug?

White Sands National Monument

White Sands

The sand is very fine -- I had seen a warning about that, so to prevent getting the rental full of sand, I brought a change of shoes, and took off my hiking boots before I got in the car. Then, I used a large plastic bag to hold the boots until I could get them back to the hotel to knock out some of the sand.
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I had not planned my trip around Mesa Verde...but it was one of my to do list items. Some things to note about the park:
  1. The Visitor's Center is about an hour away from the sites.
  2. In order to actually go down to any of the sites, you MUST participate in a tour, and the tour tickets are at the Visitor's Center! A friend of mine didn't realize that, and had to return the long drive to get tickets.
  3. If you don't have a ticket, you can only look at the sites from the overlooks.
  4. During the winter, no tours are offered. And that makes sense...except I didn't realize that 'winter' at Mesa Verde starts in October! It wasn't really cold or anything, but the week I was there was the first week of winter hours, meaning no tours!
  5. I looked and photographed the sites from the overlooks, and took the petroglyph trail for some exercise.
I feel like they should set the site up so that you can walk at the level of the cliff dwellings without taking a tour...and the tour should allow you to enter the dwellings. But I guess that's not there business model.

Here is Cliff Palace --
Cliff Palace / Mesa Verde
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In general, I tend to chat with people that I run into. Maybe it's weird for an introvert, but I really enjoy that initial conversation with strangers!

There was the guy on the petroglyph trail at Chaco...we walked and talked together for a part of the trail. He was from Colorado....his wife died a couple years ago. He said she told him to not sit around the house after she was gone, and he is following her advice! He was on the way to Austin to meet up with his brother to see some music, drink some beer and hang out! Which sounds fantastic to me!

Then there was the guy at the bar at the airport...an applied mathematician on his way back home. He had missed the shuttle to his city, so he was having a bite to eat and a beer, waiting for the next time when the shuttle would leave.

Then there was the couple at House on Fire in Mule Canyon...she was a retired school Superintendent...and he was 6 months from retiring. They were from Albuquerque I think, traveling around with a camper to enjoy their time! The other folks at the site were from Tucson...and I think Santa Fe?

And even if I don't chat with them long, I usually establish some sort of rapport...the park ranger at Chaco....the guy in the bathroom at Chaco when he found out that there was no hot water...the woman sitting next to me in the plane...the ranger at White Sands whom I made laugh, etc.

Basically, I know how to start a conversation, if the other person is open to it!
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I often don't have any trick or treaters. Or sometimes I have 2 or 3. A friend will come over tonight to drink some wine, and we'll wile away the time 'w(h)ining' :)


30 Oct 2018 20:43
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I tend to use Apple Maps since it is default on the iPhone....and because Apple has a male Brazilian voice, whereas it seems Google only has a female..and I find the Google female voice a bit grating. All of that is really nothing of importance, but I noted some differences.

When Apple Maps first came out, it was a shoddy piece of work.. But Apple Maps has improved a lot since then, and I have no issues with it now.

Things I noted...First, Google's ability to download offline maps ahead of time really matters. If you're going to a place where you know you'll probably have a weak signal, being able to download offline maps ahead of time really matters. +100 to Google on this.

Second...for Apple Maps, I was able to look up 'Mule Canyon', but in Google Maps, I was able to look up 'Mule Canyon Trailhead' -- it's the 2nd one that I needed. +50 to Google.

Third...Apple's maps showed me the speed limit, which was really nice when I was driving a candle-apple-ticket-magnet! Sometimes, I wondered how fast could I drive, and Apple Maps noted the speed limit nicely. At least on the highways in New Mexico, it was pretty much on the money! +25 to Apple

I like Apple's voices better...+10 to Apple.

User interface? +10 to Apple.
Showing me road congestion earlier? +10 to Google!

Sometimes, they used different vocabulary to refer to the same thing. Apple used pista for lane, and I feel like Google used a different word (faixa?), although I can't remember which. Not important -- it's kind of a vocabulary building exercise for me to use both of them.

Nice thing...Apple's CarPlay used whichever map you were using to display on screen. +5 to Apple.

End result Google has a better product, but I like the UI better on Apple. So I tend to use Apple until I need to look up a trailhead or use offline maps, when I switch to Google.
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I like looking at petroglyphs. This one was on the trail at Mesa Verde that leaves Spruce Tree House. It is the only panel on that trail, so while impressive, I took the trail mostly for the exercise.
Petroglyphs at Mesa Verde National Park

There were on the petroglyph trail at Chaco Canyon --
Is this a Kachina explaining things?

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I was surprised when the car rental place gave me a candy apple red car! Not my usual color, and it felt like I was driving around in a ticket magnet!

And I have come back home with a lead foot, having gotten used to 75mph speed limits on New Mexico highways!

Here's a pic of the rental at White Sands -- the 'roads' at White Sands were just packed sand after the asphault ended.
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I was glad to visit the Bisti Badlands again, this time during the day.

I kinda wanted to prove to myself that I was comfortable going out by myself to a place where there are no trails and no cell coverage. I mean, it's only a few miles in and out, so even if I got lost (which I did for a bit), I would still be able to find the road again using the sun as my guide. But it still freaks me out a bit to be out of touch by myself -- what if I broke a leg or something?

I saw 1 person at a distance in the first couple hours. Then I saw about 3 additional couples or small groups as I was leaving.

Bisti draws me, but it's not like I feel any powerful energy when I'm there or anything -- the area just seems to be like a grandfather that I have visited now a couple of times. And I tend to miss it when I leave. It was like that the first time (the nighttime photo workshop), and it was like that this time also.

So speaking of getting lost...I took 1 wrong turn. I already had waypoints on a GPS app on my phone from the last visit, and I could see the route, but the way the arrow was pointing was confusing. So I decided to just 'follow the wash'. 'Follow the wash' is the general instruction for navigating in and out of Bisti. But in addition to the main Bisti wash, there are a lot of 'feeder' washes, and I got attached to one of those feeders. This led me into a canyon which got narrower and narrower before I realized I was going the wrong way. (By the way, there were footprints in the wash through the canyon, so I was not the first there recently, lol!)

Anyways, I found my way after that. Everything looked so different in the daylight! I don't think I got great pics -- the hoodoos are a jumbled mass that are hard to compose into an image. Here are some --


Cracked Alien Eggs in Bisti


Here's my selfie for the trip. See the 2 red hills? The photo group from last year's workshop agreed on the name '2 angry boobs' for these...and they are good for navigating. When I 're-found my way', I remembered the boobs as a sign post. I used them on the way out as well.
Every trip deserves a selfie lol :)


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."