Jan 24

More presents!

This evening we wrapped up our last Christmas holiday of the season. The god in-laws (just go with it) host us every year. Two empty-nesters are at the center of a house of 15. There are presents. There is lasagna. There are many photographs. It’s a nice time.

Before that, though, it was errands! An oil change! Clothes shopping! Grocery shopping! Lunch! And so on!

I visited Target for the first time in … I don’t recall the last time I was at a Target, to be honest. More than six months. Close to a year? Maybe a year? Anyway, not much has changed at Target. Middle of the day on a Friday after the holidays is a good time to be there, even in one of those stores that feels a little old and tired.

One of the self checkout stations had just … had enough.

There’s a lot to consider here. Is it the neatly creased paper? The crumpled part of the paper? The frowny faces? The target in “broken”? That it says broken?

I think it is the crying frowny face. One is sad, but the other is in tears. There are two levels to the upset nature of things at Target, and that hits home while you’re buying socks at the next self checkout.

Near the house, the line crews are doing line work. It’s a cold day to be in a cherry picker.

At the last Christmas of the year all of the kids presents were a hit. My lovely bride nailed it again. One of the little boys bought me a present. He’s five, and thinking of others. It’s a toy dinosaur excavation kit. When he comes over next time, maybe he’ll help me uncover the bones inside the “fossil.”

Another one of the kids wrapped a present for me — a really awesome mug. You’re just touched when the young’uns think of you.

And the lasagna. First generation recipe. I just sit in the corner and discretely eat as much as I can. That brings this year’s three Christmases to a close with seconds.

Jan 24

2023 2024

Happy New Year! Are you over it yet?

Bah humbug to that, I say. This is going to be a great year! For a time. We’re in control of our perceptions about things from there. So, I say to you, have a great 2023 2024. Happy new year. Peace on earth, good will toward man. Additionally, here’s to food in your belly, spare items when and where you need them, and minimal downtime of your internet connectivity.

Let’s look at some photos I took last week, which will be the official wrap up of last year, here, on the official keeper of such things.

(, the official keeper of such things — since 2004.)

I’ve come to think of this as the daily commute of the Canada geese. I don’t know why they’re still around here. Shouldn’t they be flying south? Instead, it’s just to the southwest in the morning, and the northeast each evening. Maybe they’re doing test flights or getting in the base miles.

So there I was in a Mexican restaurant, washing my hands, and I saw this by the door. At first, I was amused by the name of the product. And then, I chuckled at the location of the can. That gave way to appreciating the accidental photo composition, which was quickly replaced by wondering why I was doing all of that before dinner.

I went to the bank, a branch, or possibly just a company itself, that never gets visited. The one teller was surprised to see a person walk through the front door. It was all solid and old and quiet and vacant. But I liked this chair.

Same seat, from the other side, just so we can admire the craftmanship of the upholstery.

The branch manager was a young woman, swift and certain and equally surprised by seeing a human being in her workplace. It struck me as a nice place to spend a part of a career.

I wonder if the chair was comfortable.

In my life, I have traveled some, I have not seen every place and every thing. So this is probably in error, but: I’ve never seen these colors of winter anywhere but in the ancestral haunts. They’re limping through a severe drought just now, and so the clover is a mystery, but the grass is always like this in the winter, and the leaves are always like that this time of year, curled, desiccated and showing no hint of their previous beauty. Here, though, it always just feels like a pause between seasons rather than an end of one. I don’t know why that is.

I saw this house one night. I don’t know the story of that pig, but you get the sense it must be important to someone inside. There’s just the one, and they carefully spotlit the thing.

I believe this one was taken the same night. We were standing in the driveway talking to the neighbors when I looked up.

I haven’t done a lot of running this year because, well, I’d rather ride my bike. Or swim laps. Or do most any other thing I can think of. And so the running has been minimal. I did a two-mile run in the neighborhood, and late in the week we did the dam run. My lovely bride likes the dam run, an out-and-back that we do on most every trip back to the valley. You park in a park’s parking lot, run a mile over a long bridge, then up a hill for three-tenths of a mile, and then work your way along some beautifully maintained TVA trails, until you get to the Wilson Dam. We run halfway across the dam, and then turn back. Here you’re looking back at the bridge, the Singing River Bridge, from the dam.

That route gives you a 10K. I haven’t run a 10K since last December, in Savannah, because see above. With that in mind, given the cool air, the late hour, and the unambitious mist that couldn’t turn itself into a real rain, I told my lovely bride that I would run with her until I couldn’t. And then I would trail along, and double back when she met me again. So there we were, still together at the dam.

And there she went, back across the dam and back toward the car. So I just … kept on running. Caught her, passed her and then we wound up finishing the run together, victorious yawp and all.

That night, I believe it was, my mother suggested Chinese takeout food. We went to pick it up and, there on the counter next to the register, were these two boxes. For some reason, the idea of buying fortune cookies by the batch amused me.

When we got back, I passed out the food and my lovely bride quickly pronounced the little soup chips to be the good ones. I’m not sure how she knew that while they were all still in the baggie, but she was correct. And they were better, and less expensive, than the cookies.

We saw this in the airport on Saturday night in Nashville. Sunday morning, after weather elsewhere delayed our plane, we got back home long after 2 a.m. But we got back. The night before last, then, I made it to bed at about 3:30 a.m. After a week of almost getting on a regular sleep schedule, establishing a routine that would approach a normal person’s sleep schedule, I am immediately back to this.

But the art dangling from the ceiling was cool. We looked at that wondering what it was made of, and how many different sorts of places you could install that. (Not many.)

Last night, we did a thing we weren’t able to do before Christmas. We went to one of the charming nearby small towns and walked among the lights and looked at the store fronts along a half-mile stretch on Main Street. We drive through it from time to time and, daylight or at night, it is perfectly charming. But, finally, we walked and lingered and enjoyed. Lots of antiques, two book stores, three chiropractors, boutique clothing, rental spaces, restaurants and so on. Perfectly charming. It only took us six months to explore it a bit.

This was on one end of our little walk.

I know this fire company traces its roots back to 1704. (The oldest formal unit in the country is found in Boston. It is only 25 years older.) Given the age, and the prominent placement, there’s a great story behind that bell you can see upstairs. I’ll have to ask around about that.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you what was on the other end of our walk. And, probably, talk about riding bikes and whatever else comes up.

Happy 2024!

Dec 23

Santa, at the Christmas party

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

There were no stockings, but the jolly one was there!

This was not my first run-in with Santa. Here he was, preparing to make his grand entrance in 2018.

It’s a Christmas party my mother-in-law runs. It’s beautiful. They put out the nativity. Santa jingles his bells and the whole room lights up as he ambles in to hand out presents. There are cupcakes and music and a lot of fun and smiling faces. If you need the Christmas spirit, this is where you find it.

The Special Church Christmas party is always one of the best invites of the holiday season.

Nov 23

Punches on ice

So many leftovers. Somehow they all made it into the refrigerator, which is, right now, more full than it has been since we moved. It’ll be a week of turkey and sides for me, and no complaints.

Today we went across the river to catch a hockey game. It was the homestanding Flyers and the Rangers, which drew a large crowd all their own. There was almost as much red, white and blue as black and orange at the Wells Fargo Center.

And the Rangers fans went away happy. They’re team won 3-1.

I might be bad luck for the Flyers. They’re 1-2 when I am there for a game. The win was in … 2007.

We’re there for Gritty, basically.

After the game, I ducked back in from the concourse to see what was happening with everyone walked away from the rink. Those video ribbons, it turns out, go all the way down to the ice. I wonder why. Aside from maintenance, what would be the purpose? And why lower it after a game?

On the way back home, we enjoyed splendid views of the sunset.

After which we started on the leftovers — didn’t make a dent, really — and eased into the second half of this lovely long weekend.

Aug 23

You can eat peaches with everything — and we probably will

Another succesful weekend in the books, but first, let’s get to the site’s most popular weekly feature, checking in with the kitties.

Phoebe has rediscovered a high quality hidey hole.

She clearly doesn’t want me to tell anyone where it is.

Poseidon also wants me to stop typing, but, I’m sure, for different reasons.

He wants the attention, and typing gets in the way of that, you see.

As we tell him frequently, he’d get more pets if he spent more time being charming and less time causing trouble.

They are both, however, spending as much time as possible enjoying the sunshine.

It’s kinda weird when they’re both doing the same thing, but, as you can see, the kitties had a great week.

We had a nice little bike ride on Saturday morning. It was headwinds for the first 10 miles. And it rained on us for a while, as well. And that’s when the humidity rolled in.

When we turned out of the headwind to head for home, there was no tailwind, somehow. We were on a parallel road, but somehow that breeze had disappeared.

I set four new Strava segment PRs, though, so it was a nice ride overall.

I need to ride more.

Afterward, I had to do a little yard work. For reasons I forget now, after deadheading a few flowering plants I took a quick photo of some of our very own pollinators.

Annnnnnnd then there were … the peaches. I spent a fair amount of time, I don’t know how long, working under our peach tree on Saturday. This was a start. Seven baskets of peaches.

I added five more baskets worth to the total.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t pick the first peach from the tree. These are the ones that had fallen to the ground. This does not include the discards, or the two small batches of we’ve frozen already, or the few dozen we’ve eaten.

We have a lot of peaches.

The god-nieces-and-nephews-in-law (just go with it) came over for a cookout Saturday night. And we sent them home with plenty of peaches. They even helped me get a few of the hard-to-reach fruits from the ground, and they were, of course, fascinated by picking their own peach right from the tree. That was really cute, and I hope they’ll come do that again a few times so it burns in as a memory.

One of them took home a peach pit, and I sent some info on growing a peach tree. Maybe that will launch a new interest for her.

Sunday was a quiet, lazy day. We spent the afternoon outside with the in-laws under a sky that looked like this.

And before dinner I worked on my new hobby, peach smoothies.

I am so passionate about this hobby that we broke the blender, and had to get a new one today. Peach smoothie making will continue apace.

My in-laws headed home this morning, and they took some peaches themselves. And then I picked up another basket-and-a-half of peaches.

We are rich in stone fruit.