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Started the new gig...as usual, I felt out of place the first week. I'm a little worried about this place because everything seems to be done via phone -- I prefer face to face meetings because that is actually my skill -- forming relationships with customers. In my not very humble opinion, phone-email-text "conversations" suck and don't allow for relationship building.

Been self medicating this week with yard work, wine, and peep pictures, lol --
Peeps Mountain Climbing

The weather seems to want to become spring, but there's still a fair amount of cold! I've been doing a bit of yard work, putting down some dirt, getting up sticks and leaves from last year. I've also been looking at seeds that I might plant --

The tomato seeds I planted inside have sprouted!

Here's the sky the other night from my front porch -- the rest of the sky was dark and stormy looking, but the west had a nice orange glow -- it made for very interesting light outside!
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The weather is so early Spring-like that the early daffodils are coming up!

I got the last of the Christmas light decorations down today. And because of the mild weather, I have a bunch of windows and doors open to air out the house!
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Family Christmas dinner and gift exchange was very pleasant this year. I'm glad that one sister likes to make dinner and host -- it would be hard each year if we had to decide how to meet! I put in an extra gift card for that sister to thank her for doing Thanksgiving and Christmas every year! I know how much work it is!

In addition to the holidays, I have been getting rid of stuff -- I like the idea of a 'Death Cleaning' -- not that I'm planning on needing to do that just yet, lol! But it's a good idea. So I have instituted a "1 thing in, 1 thing out" rule -- meaning, when I get gifts, I try to find something that I can donate or pitch out.

Yesterday, I took this load to a local thrift store --

And I also put this stuff in my alley. Many times, things in the alley get picked up, so it makes me feel like they are getting used instead of throwing away.

That toilet has been in the basement since 2005 when I replaced it with a newer one in my downstairs bathroom!
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Sem título

I was playing around with holding plastic wrap in front of the lens last night --
Merry Christmas!

Sem título
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The busiest holiday time for me has finally past! I had a gift exchange this past week, dinner with friends last night and family Christmas is Tuesday. I have a couple more dinners and gift exchanges, but generally I'm chilling out this weekend!

Gawd, I feel fat! I have been eating so much crap -- at home, at work, at friends' houses! I was supposed to visit someone Friday night, but the candy and crap caught up with me!

Today I did some laundry, then walked around the neighborhood to test out the new lens some more and get a spot of exercise --
Christmas Around the Neighborhood

Christmas Around the Neighborhood

Ghost of holidays past in the neighborhood --

I watched a movie today on Netflix -- Thor Ragnarok, which was actually pretty good! I usually only 'kind of' enjoy that series of movies, but I like this one. There were some very nice action scenes, and calling the large portal the 'Devil's Anus' was a humorous touch. And damned if Chris Hemsworth didn't look nice shirtless!

Watching the movie also made me look up the actual Norse tale of Ragnarok - I had remembered it differently (and I was correct in my memory) that almost all the gods died during Ragnarok -- I mean, it is the Doom of the gods / Twilight of the gods / Fate of the gods . But in the movie, Thor, Loki, etc. were still around at the end. And poor Freyr got a bum rap in the movie!

I'm still listening to the Myths and Legends podcast, where the guy gathers up old stories and re-tells them. And there is a Ragnarok episode, which I may go back and re-listen to. My habit is to listen to podcasts every morning as I make my oatmeal! The first "oatmeal making" series I listened do was the fantastic History of Rome podcast, and I have followed up with Myths and Legends.

I started my Amaryllis from last year -- I had them out for the summer and then in the basement for several weeks. The bulbs are nicely green at the top so hopefully they'll bloom nicely for me! I would expect blooms by sometime in February.
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I had my party last night to decorate my Christmas tree ... I had fun! And now I'm in process of cleaning up.

Before I get too involved in the clean-up, I am having my traditional after Tree Trimming breakfast of coffee and deviled eggs, lol - there are always some deviled eggs in the fridge left after the party. I just followed the eggs up with a couple of the delicious bourbon balls that a friend brought to the party!

Glad I had my party last night -- we are getting a lot more snow today than expected. Here's an animated gif pointed out of my back door to the back yard.
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Some friends helped me get my Christmas tree today. It was wrapped up when I bought it -- so it's a guessing game as to how the tree will look once the limbs have relaxed.

The car was COATED in needles!

The previous week has been prep work week, and that will continue this week as well. If you grew up in the South of the US, sweet potato pie is a standard holiday dessert. Sweet, sweet, sweet! And a bit fibrous because, well, sweet potatoes. I made and froze these this past week --

I boil my potatoes -- some folks bake them. You have to cook the potatoes before you can mix them with sugar, butter, evaporated milk and spices for the pie --

Pimento cheese , also now in the freezer -- fresh is better than frozen, but this dish takes to much time to make at the last time. And frozen is not bad --

Yum - fresh tarragon - an ingredient in the pimento cheese!

The 2 weeks before Tree Trimming is actually a bit lonely for me. Because I have so much to do, I turn down most social invitations during this 2 week period. But I do try to plan a few here and there (for example -- last night, wine with friend, tomorrow dinner with another friend...having friends help with the tree...etc) ...

But overall, I feel cooped up in the house cleaning and preparing for the 2 weeks! When the event finally happens, I am totally relieved!
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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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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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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' :)
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I put out the 'girls' tonight -- my yearly Halloween ghost decorations, who now number 15!
Halloween Decorations

Halloween Decorations

I'm hosting book club this week, so I have been cleaning -- lots of energy today, but very tired now!
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The bokeh in the background reminded me of the halos in religious iconography, so I called this 'Our Lady of Perpetual Vigilance'...
Our Lady of Perpetual Vigilance

This one looked like stained glass --
Stained Glass

And some Dragonfly love --
Dragonflly Love

I have to go to work tomorrow after 5 days off! But until I retire, that's how it is! I didn't do the things I had originally considered doing while I was off, but it was still a nice few days off.

Last night, some friends took me out to dinner for my birthday -- it's a bigger one this year -- a definite (minor) milestone! Nice dinner and nice company!

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I had off work again today for the holiday, so I got up early and drove to Shenandoah this morning! I had originally planned to do Dark Hollow again (I did that a few years ago with a friend), but on the way decided to try Rose River -- which is just next to it about a 1/4 mile.

I chose to do the trail counter-clockwise, it seems that there are pros and cons for going in each direction -- you can search and read about it. Counter-clockwise makes the hike much more steep at the end of the trail, but given that my right knee can go "up" better than "down", that sounded like it would be a good thing for me.

I followed directions I found online -- to park at Fisher's Gap, cross the Skyline Drive and use the fire road for about a mile. When I got to the first waterfall, then left would take me onto Rose River trail, and right would take me up (steeply) to Dark Hollow.

First thing of note -- omg, the price of getting onto Skyline is so unreasonable! I mean, 30 bucks is fine as a price for a 7 day ticket, but I only needed 1 day...so yep, even for 1 day, it was 30 buckaroos!

After I parked and was walking the fire road, the next thing I noticed were the BUGS! Every time I stopped, to admire the scenery, to take a photo, anything...and a cloud of bugs surrounded me! I had on bug repellent, but it seemed to not matter!

There's a cemetery on the way. It used to be used by people who lived in the area before this was turned into a national park --

And lots of ferns!
BartCam Rose River Trail / Shenandoah

Then I arrived at the choice of Rose River or Dark Hollow. There's a bridge and a waterfall there --
BartCam Rose River Trail / Shenandoah

While I was hiking along the Rose "River" (I put it in quotes because it's small like a creek), I concentrated on some longer exposures to get the water to come out silky. The settings for this one were: f/20, ISO 100, 2.5 seconds
Rose River Trail / Shenandoah

Settings for this one: f/25, ISO 200, 0.6 seconds

There were many bears out! I did not take any pictures, because when I see a mama and cubs I keep going right on by! But some of the other hikers, some with young kids, were going off trail with cell phones to get better pics...it seemed risky.

I'm really glad I did this hike. I have been hibernating way too much lately, so I'm glad I got my ass up and out the door this morning! It was also nice -- I arrived at the parking area around 9AM, and it was pretty empty. By the time I left around Noon, it was pretty packed!
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Very nice dinner with friends last night...all vegan, and surprisingly good! (Whoever heard of black-eyed peas in a dessert???)....also convinced me to buy a jar of Veganese when I was at the store today!

Today is the 4th...the US Independence Day. Not sure what I am feeling about that this year...I'm off work today and also taking the rest of the week off...still deciding what my activities will be!

Enjoying the garden now that the 'monsoon' rains have stopped. I'm afraid the weird weather interfered with butterflies and hummingbirds and hummingbird moths -- I have seen precious few of them this year. The bees are out en masse, which is good though.
Coneflowers using the Darkr app.
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The long holiday weekend has been a bit lonely for me. Friends were out of town. And while I had originally planned some out of town activities, they would not have been very enjoyable with a lot of rain. So I didn't get past the planning stage -- although it turns out the weekend was not very rainy at all -- some rain, but mostly just clouds, so I probably could have done some of what I planned!

In any event, it's been a restful weekend. Got a bike ride in -- first time this year! Sad that this first ride is so late in the year, but it felt good to be on the bike!

I did get some camera time -- I'm the weird neighbor hanging out in the front yard with a camera, lol! Here's a macro of a bumblebee on a wax leaf privet hedge bloom.
It's a messy job, but somebody has to do it!

And for some exercise yesterday, I walked around Hollywood Cemetery. This angel is so seductive, lol! I like her a lot!
What a seductive angel!


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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."