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  • 10/08/15--12:26: Snaby (snail baby)
  • Snaby (snail baby)

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  • 10/09/15--06:50: SchadenFriday














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  • BONUS Saturdogs












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  • 10/11/15--06:37: Good morning from Santa Fe
  • We've spent the last couple of days in Albuquerque at the balloon fiesta, and I have tons of pictures, but the wifi here is pretty slow, so I'll wait until I get home to upload. There's a bunch on my instagram already.

    We got to Santa Fe last night and have a really cool apartment above an art gallery for one more night. This building is 130 years old, and the whole neighborhood is the same vintage.

    Edit: I canceled my flickr upload when I saw how long it was taking, but it resumed when I opened the app again. So all my photos are there, but I'll pick some of the better ones and tell the story in a couple days.

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  • 10/11/15--21:34: Helpful alien overlord
  • He wants to hold your stuff.

    Helpful alien overlord

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    I grew up in Albuquerque, and the Balloon Fiesta was just a regular part of life. Ever year, there was a 9-day period (one week and the surrounding weekends) where a ton of hot air balloons would launch every morning. The event itself wasn't really a big deal; you could go to the field and watch, but all you really accomplished was getting close, and you had to bring your own hot chocolate in a thermos. There was always traffic because people would stop and watch, but I can't remember it being particularly difficult to get to where they were launching or anything.

    I can't say conclusively why it's such a big event now. It might be because Kodak started sponsoring it, or because Albuquerque's grown so much. Social media obviously makes events take on a new light. Whatever the case, I was surprised to arrive this year at the new, officially-set-aside park that even has a museum, and see just how big it's all become. All nine days have morning and evening programs, there's a gigantic food and merchandise vendor area, an artist vendor tent, a big play area with a zip line, and even a chainsaw carving contest. And if the park and the parking lots didn't already seem huge enough, there's a giant ramp leading into it for people who utilized park-and-rides all around town, and the police set up really nice traffic control leading from, and back onto, the freeways.

    Garrett came up with an excellent plan to get the most bang for our buck, and despite a few kinks we couldn't do anything about, we had a great time.



    We were already set to arrive very late Thursday night, and the plan was to head straight to my dad's and go to bed. Alas, our flight was delayed, and while they held the connecting plane for us and the 30-odd other passengers joining us from SLC to Albuquerque, Garrett's bag didn't make it to the next plane. That led to us having to hit up the 24-hour Wal-Mart at 1am to get replacements that couldn't wait, like toothbrushes and something for Garrett to sleep in. It was really weird to see how many people have their kids with them out at that hour, and the whole scene was very sketchy, but I wasn't scared because the security staff was pretty aggressive.

    We got to Dad's house and spent about an hour catching up with him. He's at the point in his life where he can tell stories for hours on end, but we had to put the kibosh on it after an hour or so due to total exhaustion.

    We got up about six hours later, and he made us an awesome breakfast. I probably shouldn't have asked him to make a batch of his amazing fried potatoes, because it took a very long time, and was very filling, and we had a lunch date. My good friend Traci, who'd join us with her mom for the Saturday balloon fiesta mass ascension, also had free passes and a parking pass to give us for the Friday night Special Shapes Glodeo event. We met her at a fancy burger place, which I later realized was a remodeled version of the scary burger and taco place in my old neighborhood that I never dared try. Just another example of how much everything around there has changed.

    Anyway, enough blah blah.

    One of the things that excites me about events like this is trashy food, and I was shocked to see just how much was available. I'm still disappointed that NM and WA don't have the crazy, inventive stuff that you see on shows like Carnival Eats, but I got to have a few awesome things. I've been eating half of my meals vegan for many months now, trying to get my blood pressure to behave, so it was fun enjoy vacation food. I had some fried gator, a fry bread taco, and a fried breakfast burrito the next morning.

    One of each, thanks

    Friday night special shapes glodeo (glow rodeo) balloons starting to inflate.

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    The darker it got, the crazier it got. What's unique about Balloon Fiesta events is that spectators are allowed to fill the field completely. You can walk right up to balloons as they're being inflated, and if they get blown over in the wind, you might have one lean right onto you. They've never really had any safety incidents on the field, so it continues as it always has. It's pretty great.

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    I don't really have any pictures that show the scale of the full nighttime burn, and the videos on my instagram barely scratch the surface. Oh well. There was also a laser show, which I couldn't get a decent picture of to save my life, followed by an awesome fireworks finale. We then had to spend quite a while waiting to get out of the parking lot, and got home pretty late. Not a huge deal, except that Traci and her mom were arriving at 5am to join us for the Saturday mass ascension.

    It was pitch black when we arrived, so we grabbed some blankets at the pop-up Walgreens tent, and some breakfast. It wasn't too long before the first of the balloons were inflating and burning in formation.

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    Traci and me, reunited after all these years. The last time we saw each other before the burger joint on Friday was in St. Louis in 2006. The time before that was when she visited Seattle in 2005, and my mom happened to die during that visit, which was awful and awkward as hell.

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    I also managed to find Marq and Ed, some podcasters I met at Pride48 last year.

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    A few shots to convey just how many balloons and people there were.

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    We had enough time to get back to Dad's house, say goodbye to Traci, chill for a bit, and then head up for the second part of our trip, which was a nice romantic getaway in Santa Fe. I'll post about that later. There are tons more Balloon Fiesta photos on flickr and instagram, click over if you like!


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  • 10/14/15--09:52: Santa Fe and points beyond
  • The first part of our vacation was a major whirlwind. To review: Thursday night, run from one set of gates to another where they were holding our plane, Garrett's bag didn't make it so we hit Walmart at 1am, stayed up until 2:30 talking to Dad, up again at about 7am for coffee, lunch with Traci, Special Shapes Glodeo that evening, home at 10ish?, up early again because Traci and her mom were arriving at 5am for the mass ascension, back home late that morning. Dad showed me all the landscaping he'd done in his little back yard and next to his house and we chatted a while before time to head out again.



    Saw a spider eating a dragonfly in my dad's garden.

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    Garrett found us a very lovely vacation rental apartment above a high-end gallery. It was slightly intimidating to look around and realize they'd decorated it with stuff by the same artists they were representing downstairs, with many of the pieces being in the $30,000 range. I took a lot more pictures than I'll make you scroll by here, click on any of them and have a look around at flickr.

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    The only specific agenda item I had was to visit Shidoni, for sure, and Site Santa Fe if time permitted. We'd taken the long way to Santa Fe and stopped for lunch in the East mountains, but still had plenty of time before check-in time, so Site Santa Fe came first. Unfortunately, they were between exhibits and only had one gallery open, so we were there all of five minutes. I got a little inspiration for my own jewelry in their gift shop, though, and it was cool to stop by while they were celebrating their 20th anniversary and realize that I'd been going there since 1997.

    Over at Shidoni the next day, I was delighted to find that the piece I'd like to own someday is still there.

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    If you zoom in, you'll see that the clothes are made of metal and have logos from cars on them. I love it. It's $15,000, which I think is pretty reasonable for a piece that size. I'm sure it'd be another few thousand for packing and shipping. If I'm ever in the position to drop that kind of money on some artwork, I hope it's still there waiting for me. There are lots of other delightful sculptures on the foundry's many acres. Of course, click any of them to find my full set.

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    I'm so happy with all this grey in my beard. Bring it on! I wish the hair on my head would hurry up and go more grey, I'm totally ready for it.

    Our rental is about a mile from the main square in Santa Fe, and there are three restaurants nearby, but they're very expensive. We had a happy hour dinner in one of them the first night at the bar, but wanted something nicer, foodwise, but in a more casual environment for our second night. Garrett found us a very lovely wine bar, 315, which we liked very much. Enough so that we've decided it'll be a regular stop for us whenever we go to Santa Fe.

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    We took an even longer way back to Albuquerque than we'd taken to Santa Fe, because I wanted to visit Clines Corners. It's a big truck stop that's about 45 minutes outside of Albuquerque, and we usually stopped at the start of road trips to buy puzzle books and toys so my brother and I would have something to do in the car. My dad used to try to drive all the way from Albuquerque to Fayetteville, Arkansas, without stopping overnight, and we'd at least get to Elk City, Oklahoma. Long day either way.

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    The gift shop there is awesome, and I showed admirable restraint by only buying a Christmas ornament, a zipper pull with Garrett's name on it, and a purple toy pony with a pink saddle and bridle. I was hoping to find one of those toys from the '80s that's shaped like a little can and makes a specific animal noise when you flip it over, but no such luck. They had a lot of the classic truck stop toys, but not that one.

    Dad made us a pot roast for our last night there, and we were joined by my oldest sister and her son for dinner. We were a little worried they might stay late, but thankfully my sister was tired and my nephew had calculus homework. We had to be up at 2:30am to go to the airport, so it was good to get in bed as early as possible.

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    We had plenty of time to kill while waiting for our first flight, so we relaxed on the observation deck for a while. More airports need observation decks.

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    I have nothing positive to say about the Salt Lake City airport. Utah is very strict with alcohol, so there were no drinks to be had before 8am, and we couldn't order doubles. And the view from the bar was a smoking lounge, which is a rare site any more. The gate area was an utter nightmare. They cram about three times as many gates into the area as they should, and they all had flights leaving, so the entire place was packed with people. I'm a little surprised the fire department allows it.

    It was nice to see Seattle on our way by, and thankfully there wasn't much traffic. There was an accident earlier that morning, but it had been cleared out by then.

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    And of course, it's great to be home. Travel is wonderful, but getting back is the best.

    It"s so nice to be home with this goofball.


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    I completely forgot to mention that we went to Los Alamos! We had lunch there after the Shidoni visit, and drove through Los Alamos National Labs to get to Valles Caldera. I didn't take any photos there, because the guard at the LANL checkpoint told us not to take any photos, and I didn't realize we'd driven beyond the area where we had to worry about that. Which was dumb of me, because we were obviously in a national park. Luckily, Garrett took some.

    The caldera is totally cool. Looking down at the top of the crater and seeing just grass is neat, seeing as how the eruption was over a million years ago. Still no trees!





    I was also driving when we went by a gallery that has tons of kinetic art. I'd love to have some of these pieces around the yard.



    He took tons of photos and videos during our trip. Check them out over at his blog.

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  • 10/16/15--04:42: SchadenFriday











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  • BONUS Saturdogs




















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  • 10/18/15--09:44: Schmupdate
  • Lots of pictures. Odds and ends that haven't shown up here because I don't "live blog" here any more.



    Chilling in the basement with Steve after getting back from vacation.

    It"s so nice to be home with this goofball.

    Sam trying to lead me into the kitchen for a feeding.

    Sam, trying to lead me to the kitchen.

    Steve attacking through the door as I cleaned the litter boxes for him. So ungrateful. I converted the front entry closet into their own private bathroom and this is the thanks I get.

    Attacking me while I clean the litter box. Ingrate.

    Steve never wants to be picked up and put on the table to eat, but I have to do that or else Sam will eat his food. He does crap like this to make it hard to pick him up.

    (click for video)
    Evasive maneuvers

    A couple of nice shots from the kitchen window. It's a bummer that we can't get this view from the back deck, just fifteen feet or so to the left, but that's just the way the trees line up. It's also hard to get a good picture of this view, because the windows are pretty dirty on the outside.

    Crazy fog and sunrise.
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    Two amazing new books by suxdonut ! I'm even in the one on the right a couple of times. :D

    Two awesome books arrived today. Congratulations @rupeegroupie!

    A big sheet of uncut Zima bottle labels I got on eBay. Not sure exactly what I'll do with it. A lampshade is a possibility seeing as how another item is on the way that would make a really good lamp.

    No, I don"t know yet what I"ll do with an uncut sheet of Zima bottle labels. Maybe use them as matting in a frame.

    Steve supervising while I made granola. A huge batch of granola. I had it this morning with vanilla almond milk and it was really, really good.

    Keeping an eye on me while I make granola.
    I made granola yesterday. A lot of granola.

    Dramatic moments at the window downstairs.

    Soon...
    Drama

    We finally found a little table for the dining room seating area. There was one I liked a little more, but it was almost three times as expensive as this one.

    New table for the dining room sitting area.

    A little something for my bedroom I picked up at Clines Corners.

    A little something I picked up at Clines Corners.

    And finally, something else purple.

    This app needs more hairstyles.

    I should have taken a walk this morning. It's always hard to get back into the groove after a vacation. Tomorrow.

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    It's definitely hard getting back into a workout routine coming back from a vacation. Vacation mode and work mode are just so different. But today rolling around helped. Mondays are Mondays, and they're a great time to revert back to the routine.



    That Autumn morning darkness is a bummer. Unless I switch to afternoon walks, I have to do that dreaded zig-zag if I want to go to the gulch.

    Today"s awesome walk, 4.63 miles in 1:27, 9,959 steps, 462ft gain
    4.63 miles in 1:27, 9,959 steps, 462ft gain

    I'll just have to have a better attitude about it, I suppose. Exercising early has always been how I'm able to do it consistently. But I think I'll leave just a few more minutes later now that school's back in session. Trying to walk past a bus stop with about 25 kids who don't leave any room to pass--right as their bus arrived-- was pretty annoying. But since the bus and I got there at the same time, they'll be gone if I just wait a bit.

    Otherwise, the timing of the sunrise was pretty nice. As I entered the gulch from the South end, there was plenty of light, but it wasn't overly bright. Fall's definitely pretty in there. It's been going on for weeks now, with different types of trees changing at different times.

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    I was very surprised today by the state of the center trail. I've always assumed that, no matter the weather, that one would stay pretty nice. But that's because I think of it as being completely covered with lots of big gravel. Lots of sections aren't, though, and after last night's rain, a lot of it was very muddy. That doesn't make it dangerous like mud on the trails higher up would be, but it makes it harder to get by.

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    I'll give it a couple of days to dry out over there and do yoga and swim in the meantime. And of course I'll be thinking about routes that don't get muddy, even though my favorites are susceptible.

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    Woke up this morning not feeling particularly sore at all, and also not in the mood for yoga. So I went for a walk. That ended up working out nicely, because we had a conference call that was supposed to end at noon, and didn't, and then I decided it would be best if I worked this afternoon. The time I spent working was the open swim time at the pool, so I would have missed that if I'd planned on it.



    I didn't know until I pulled out of the garage that we had tons of spoopy fog this morning. It was awesome. I headed over to Langus Riverfront Park and Spencer Island to enjoy it, as well as the paved path that's not susceptible to muddy conditions. It was still quite dark when I got there, but it was after the opening time and perfectly pleasant.

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    This is the tallest mushroom I've ever seen. (cc: suxdonut)

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    Today"s awesome walk, 4.58 miles in 1:26, 9,858 steps
    4.58 miles in 1:26, 9,858 steps

    I planned to walk North on the trail until it ends like I did the last time I was there, today was the day I finally encountered something I knew was a possibility but doubted I'd ever see: a hunter! I've always known hunting was allowed in that area, but after so many visits without seeing or hearing any, I started to think it wasn't going to happen. But today I saw a hunting dog who came up to say hi, and then I saw his hunter all decked out in brown camo standing on the side of the trail. No clue which side he was watching and whether I saw the back of his head or the front, but I waved and walked the other direction, and heard several shots a little while later.

    It's been a pretty productive day. I picked up a new pan to replace the one I threw out because the cheap logo on the bottom left a silvery scuff on our brand new glass cooktop. I was hoping to find the ScotchBrite cooktop cleaner while I was there, but no such luck. I'll order one. I also bought the Fred Meyer version of the Magic Eraser to try, but I need to do more research before I'll try it. Some people say magic erasers are perfect on glass cooktops, while others say never to use them. I just want the scuff gone.

    I also got a flu shot!

    IMG_20151020_153328


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  • 10/21/15--17:26: Magic by mail
  • No denying it, today was the day for some yoga and swimming. Thankfully not because my lower back was super sore or anything, but because my ankles and tendons needed a break. Not really surprising with two great walks after such a long time off. I could tell it was nice out and was bummed I wouldn't be heading out, but I at least got some nice photos from the kitchen and back deck.


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    Such a neat morning.

    Work was super busy and today was another day where I worked later than normal because it seemed better to just get it over with. Nobody else is on my schedule and it seems like everything is always happening in the afternoon. The stuff I worked on today came in yesterday shortly after I signed off, so I was already a bit behind. But I've also been picking stuff up early that's submitted after hours, so it balances out.

    I took a break during the lunch hour to run to the pool for a swim. They've done some Halloween decorating.

    Halloween display at the swim center

    Shortly after my afternoon conference call, some neat stuff came in the mail.

    It"s a shame to take a brand new one out of the package, but I wanted one to play with that wasn"t all scratched up.
    Also in today"s mail...

    I've been collecting Zima stuff for ages, but the Magic Window is a new obsession. I mentioned them on twitter by description only recently, and someone replied with the name. I ordered the inventor's new version, which is constructed really well with safety glass and an aluminum frame, but the sand colors don't have as much contrast and it's nowhere near as much fun. I've also bought a couple of desktop versions that also have water, and was watching auctions for a long time before finally buying this original version. Unfortunately, the ones that are cheaper because they aren't still in the packaging are always scratched up, and the ones in the packages are expensive. So I finally just paid up.

    I'm not making any predictions about tomorrow. Except that I'll be a little busy.



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    I decided yesterday not to have a plan for today, as I'm tired of thinking I know how things will shake out and changing my mind a lot. But I said I knew it would be busy.



    My ankles were actually a little sore, so I decided right away that there wouldn't be a walk. After working a couple of hours, I decided to get a little shopping done. I get paid monthly now, and have set up a weekly "payday" transfer on Thursdays because I got used to weekly pay on Thursday after having it that way for many years. That makes it a good day for shopping, because there's plenty of cash in my account, and WinCo doesn't take credit cards.

    And I had a secondary goal. USA Today had a special edition today, with a cover like the one from Back to the Future 2. I've been pretty tired of the relentless BTTF stuff all over social media, but still wanted one. WinCo doesn't sell papers, but I got some good food there. No luck finding the paper at Safeway or 7-11 in our old neighborhood, but I grabbed a couple of things at Safeway. Stopped by Grocery Outlet to see what was new, grabbed a few things, no papers there but I wasn't expecting any. The Everettt Haggen is closing soon and nobody really shopped there anyway, so I figured I might have a shot. They had exactly one.

    I got one.

    Again, I grabbed a few more things. Then I headed home and, as I approached our street, I remembered there was something I needed that I'd have to go to QFC for: porcini mushrooms. Way too many stops this morning, but I got everything I was after. Got home, put out the garbage recycling, and jumped on several conference calls. And got added to some. I ended up doing five conference calls today! That's a record for me. The last one was at 3:30pm, which was a bummer since I started at 4am, but I had a couple of hours before it, so I made mushroom stroganoff for future lunches, did yoga, and showered again.

    It was a very productive day, and there's one thing I keep putting off; I should really decorate for Halloween. We got exactly one trick-or-treater last year, so I haven't been highly motivated. Maybe tomorrow


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  • 10/23/15--07:07: SchadenFriday





  • Slow week. Post some in the comments!

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  • 10/24/15--08:19: CATURDAY














































































































  • BONUS Saturdogs


























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    I was very much not in the mood to head out in the dark and do the damn giant zig-zag in the residential area West of the gulch that I've been complaining about, so I decided to just leave a little later and do a shorter walk. My plan was to go up the center of the gulch and do climbs up both sides, but plans have a way of not coming to fruition. Usually it's because I change my mind, but yesterday it was because I took wrong turns. Twice.



    The first wrong turn was pretty easy to make. I planned to climb to the clearing where the garbage can is, but the path branches off in three directions, and I chose the wrong one. It's the center path that goes there, and I chose the one on the right. That got me back to the center of the gulch much earlier than I planned for.

    So I took the rusty car path next.

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    I didn't climb as high on that path as I know for sure will get me to the highest level, after which I could try to find my way to the particular path I wanted to use to head down. I call that path the bowling ball path, because it's shaped like a bowling lane's gutter. I thought I could make my way to it without going all the way to the top, but I was wrong. I'm glad I made that mistake, though, because I've always thought that the rusty car path and the bowling ball path were the only easy ways down, but the one I took yesterday was easy, too. And it has a bridge over the creek, whereas the bowling ball path doesn't, and it's hard to get across without getting my feet wet.

    It was interesting to see how much more of the sky is visible from the center trail now that more leaves have fallen.

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    Yesterday"s awesome walk, 2.72 miles in 1:02, 5,839 steps, 364ft gain
    2.72 miles in 1:02, 5,839 steps, 364ft gain

    Not sure if I'll make it out tomorrow morning. Maybe if I do, I'll do the path I set out to do yesterday.

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  • 10/26/15--06:07: Sunday Funday
  • I timed my walk pretty well so that, while it was still pretty dark when I parked my car at the beach, there was just enough light when I entered the gulch. There's a sign on the road to the beach stating its hours are dawn to dusk, but the gates were unlocked, so I went ahead and parked.


    The darkness was fun.

    Spoopy morning

    I wore my new shorts that I got on clearance.

    New shorts for walking. Understated, just like me.

    Someone I follow on twitter retweeted this photo of these clouds a woman spotted near Boeing shortly after I got home.



    Funnily enough, I'd taken this picture just before I got in the car, and think it's the same clouds, but earlier.

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    The route was nice. I came in via my favorite of the Western entrances, and came down via the rusty car trail.

    Yesterday"s awesome walk, 4.72 miles in 1:35, 10,150 steps, 557ft gain
    4.72 miles in 1:35, 10,150 steps, 557ft gain

    I thought about continuing up the East side for a bit, but wanted to get home so we could head out to brunch at our neighborhood hangout. That was a lot of fun.

    Brunching.

    I enjoyed that the tire shop's trees currently match it nicely.

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    On the way home, we finally met the woman who lives next door. We've both met her ex-husband several times, and I've been over there a bunch of times picking apples, but that was the first time I've had a chance to meet her. Well, there was one other, but our driveway is much lower than their yard, and I would have been right at crotch level and it would have been awkward so I didn't say anything that time. She was really nice. I brought over a jar of the apple butter I made from their apples, and we also gave her the beers that have been sitting in our fridge since July 4th. We both like beer but just never really feel like drinking it.

    She got the grand tour of our house and also met the cats.

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    While we were out in front of her house, we saw a squirrel get hit by her neighbor on the other side as she drove past. It jumped a few more steps to the side of the road and died on the spot, and then the neighborhood black cat we call Janet walked over, picked it up in her mouth, and took off with it. Circle of life, etc.


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