I know. It’s been a bit of a dry spell here.

I just updated my reads page and realized that every book I’ve read or am reading this year has been written by a woman. Cool.

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I Went to Vegas, Baby.

I went to Las Vegas last week for a conference. I can honestly say that I don’t need to go back. If the better-half and I ever go to the Grand Canyon, we could spend one night in Vegas and that would only be because of the stellar food. The rest of it is so over the top that it’s hard to describe. Sensory overload is too small of a phrase to describe it.

On Thursday, I took a long walk because I had a gap in my conference schedule. I finally got to see him:

On Tuesday night, I went to a show and the performers were on Cleopatra’s barge. The barge sits in water. Here’s part of the barge as it extends out into the hallway:

Wednesday night, I wandered around outside after I realized I hadn’t been outside since I arrived on Tuesday afternoon.

And, just as there is a little bit of Paris, there’s also a little bit of New York:

The lunar new year is just around the corner and this dragon was 20 kinds of awesome:

There was a SNAFU with my flights home so I flew to Dulles instead. As part of the SNAFU, I ended up with a window seat in the bigger seats up front (not first class, but better than the cattle call area). Lake Mead:

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January walks and things

We took a walk through Hollywood Cemetery last weekend. I have no memory of ever doing this. It seems shocking when you consider how many historical sites we were dragged to as children. An interesting note, it was breezy and cold last Sunday when we walked through the cemetery. As I type this, the windows are open.

The river was high and swift because it rained every single day in December (I kid, not kid):

I really like this shot of the train tracks winding by the James:

Hollywood Cemetery has something like 8,000 confederate soldiers buried in it. I grew up around here and have zero reverence for the debacle of 1861-1865. So, being me, I stood in the field of a gazillion small white stones and said aloud, “we have a black president and he’s in his second term”. Then, I swear to you, the earth churned as a bunch of really dead dudes rolled in their graves.

The debacle’s monument:

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Year in Review

This year has flown by much like every year, I suppose.

Here’s a quick run down on some of the things we did this year…click to make the images larger.

We walked in Amherst, tossing leaves in the Tye river, and hiked Crabtree Falls with the Nieces. We also went to the holiday light show at the botanical garden with them. They had fun goofing around. There were amazing sunrises in Duck, NC and a fun luau in Hawaii. It snowed a bit in Virginia this year and we were semi-snowbound one night in Blacksburg. There was a super-huge bike race in Richmond and we saw a lot of musical acts. We also walked in four 5Ks this year.

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Merry Christmas and all that jazz

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We were on 4th street the other night and I snapped some pictures, rather quickly.

I had forgotten this part of the Media General juggernaut included paper names of old:

I turned around and took this shot. I have taken this building’s picture for years. I’m glad the building is in use again–and it looks as good as new.

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The past little bit at work has been awful. Someone who has been challenging to work with because she rarely completes work on time is finally moving on to something else. That sounds like a good thing, but she’s not leaving those of us who have to pick up the slack much of anything to go on. That disappoints me not for the reason you may think, but because I was really hoping this project was going to be her redemption project with me. It ain’t.

I am working on 5 instructional videos that are due in January. That’s a boat-load of work to get done between now and the end of January. There is a huge gap in time because of the holidays. And, it’s 5 things due in January that entail a bunch of moving parts. Luckily, everyone I’m working with is committed to getting their piece done in time for me to pull everything together into video format. The person leaving is/was responsible for some of the work on two of those videos. I put on my “Seriously, I’m an Instructional Designer, Hear me roar” hat and whammo. One of those videos is nearly done…in a couple of days. Nose meet grindstone. And, bye Felicia to my co-worker.

Yesterday I was so mentally tired that I had to stop working for awhile and listened to this song about 10 times in a row.

Today, I bought the rest of her album. I may need it to get through the next few weeks.

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Like a fart in a diving bell

We had two Thanksgivings this year. One with my family and one with the better-half’s. When we heard my sister was bringing spinach as an appetizer, we made green bean casserole for my family instead of the 3 cheese spinach au gratin. Because we didn’t want to load folks up with the spinach. Next year, if this happens, my family will be eating spinach twice or whatever my mood is in 364 days. Because let me tell you, we brought home nearly all of the spinach au gratin (basically creamed spinach with ricotta, Parmesan and blue cheese). I actually watched a grown man who purports to love vegetables take a hearty scoop and then eat one tiny bite. The hearty scoop went into the trash can.

THREE CHEESES. SPINACH. Smattering of onions and a wee bit of garlic. HATED.

They are weird, yo.

I’m going to turn the leftovers into a funky little lasagna. And then I’m shoving the whole thing in my mouth and I will be super strong (like Popeye) and I will LOVE it. Because I’m not afraid of spinach with THREE CHEESES.

Full disclosure, we’ve had this recipe for years. We made this dish last weekend for friends and only a tiny bit was leftover–mostly because there were also mashed potatoes.

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Two Shows

Tuesday night we saw Stevie Wonder in concert. Stevie. Wonder. He stopped playing abruptly at 10pm. For an intermission. We are old and went to our hotel and fell asleep. A younger co-worker was at the same show and left at midnight to drive an hour home. She’s a bigger bad ass than I am, but Stevie is actually a bigger bad ass because he wasn’t quite done. I don’t know exactly when he quit, but it was way after what we expected.

Tonight we went to a Duncan Sheik and Suzanne Vega show. They were pretty stripped down and played some new songs from a theatrical release they are working on based on Carson McCullers. One song in particular hit all the English major notes perfectly. They came together at the end to perform some of their better known songs (Tom’s Diner and Barely Breathing as examples). It was an interesting crowd. The theater is on a college campus but hardly anyone in the audience was anywhere near the age of an undergraduate. Some of the audience members were easily in their 70s or 80s. I know age doesn’t equate to musical tastes, but I think some of the audience members are season ticket holders and so they get an exposure to a lot of music they wouldn’t ordinarily know. Not such a bad thing.

As we were walking to the car, a young couple walked past us. She had on something seriously skimpy and, in my head, I said put some clothes on (it’s November 20th for crying out loud). The young man kept saying “don’t puke”. So, we went from q-tip old ladies to barely dressed drunk 20 year olds. Not at bad thing.

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Fry it up in the pan

I woke up at 2:45 this morning having to use the bathroom like I was a race horse at the end of a race. Also, I couldn’t remember if we’d put the breakfast sausage in the refrigerator. I was afraid it was on the counter. Our house is old and creaky so I decided to go downstairs to do my thing and then stay downstairs because old and creaky.

The sausage was in the refrigerator just as it was supposed to be. Then the cat was on me so I slept a few hours on the couch. I had the weirdest dream that I was in the basement of our house and it had water in it. That’s not something that can happen at our house, but there you go. I also couldn’t open the door to go out because I’d set off the alarm and for some reason I couldn’t just walk back up the stairs. Thankfully, the cat got off the couch and woke me up.

After breakfast (a sausage and spinach frittata), I went out to mulch leaves with the lawn mower and then we cranked up the old lawn mower named “the clearer of the land”. It didn’t want to start or stay started but I cleared a bunch of ivy, saplings and liriope out from under a holy. One tiny step to order out of chaos. Eventually the backyard will not be such a freak show of ivy, weeds and saplings that spring up from our ugly, you ain’t got no alibi hedge.

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