Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Homer's Travel's Look Back At 2008

This year has been a year of change.  The last time I had this much change was back in 1987 when I graduated from college, got a job, and moved to California.  Thinking back, that year of change seemed to have gone a lot smoother than 2008.

Let's look back, shall we:
The coming year is going to be one of preparation for me.  I want to prepare myself for the 2010 Pilgrimage of Saint James.  There are a couple trails including the Steamboat and Cowboy trails that should provide good training.  I also intend to do more Omaha walkabouts to add miles to my legs in between bike rides.

I want to continue taking pictures.  It is something that I enjoy doing.  While my first photo safari was a bust, I intend to do more.  Who knows, maybe I can find a money making opportunity in there somewhere.

Most importantly, I'm wishing for a less stressful 2009, especially for the Wife.

Here's to a Happy and Prosperous New Year for all.
May all your dreams come true in 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas ... The Day After

Leading up to Christmas this year, I was feeling rather neutral about the whole thing.  I wasn't excited and hopeful as I sometimes feel before the holiday.  Neither did I have the feeling of dread and foreboding that I  feel at other times.  It felt like just another day.  Maybe it was the lack of Christmas music - I haven't heard a lot of Christmas music this year.  I think I mostly avoided it but it seemed easier to get away from than in years past.

We had our tree and decorations up early this year.  I thought this might spur the holiday spirit but it didn't do much really.
I did my shopping relatively late but managed to buy most of the Wife's gifts a week or so before Christmas.  I usually start at the beginning of November but this year it wasn't until the beginning of December.  I bought a Miracle Icon bracelet fro the Wife.  When I went to the store, the artist was there hosting a special event.  She saw me walking in with a print out of the bracelet and jumped up and walked over to me.  She said when a man comes in holding a piece of paper, I know he needs my help (I think I may have been the only man there).  She helped me pick out the bracelet, restrung it because "that bead isn't very pretty," and helped me find the appropriate medal from the heap she had in four untidy boxes.  It was very nice and all, I just wish the Wife could've been there.  She would have liked to meet the artist.

Things finally turned around when the Parents-in-Law arrived on Christmas eve.  We opened our stockings and things started to feel more festive despite the crappy allergy attack that kept me up most of Christmas Eve night sniffling and snorting and wheezing for breath.
On Christmas Day the Wife's brother TE and family showed up.  At the Wife's request I'd connected my laptop up to the big screen and ran a slide show of all my Flickr pictures.  I have so many pictures (3,804 and increasing)  that it took almost four hours to go through them all.  For ambiance, I connected the 'puter to the stereo and played Christmas music.  I received compliments on my picture taking which always makes me feel good.  The pictures and the music set the atmosphere for a relaxing Christmas dinner that, despite the abundance of cooks in the kitchen, turned out pretty good.  My Sugar Cookies seemed to have been a hit.

TE and family went home and the Wife and I took the Parents-In-Law down to see the million lights decorating Omaha'a old market area.  It's pretty amazing down there.
All in all a pretty good Christmas.  The visiting family lifted my spirits and I felt the holiday spirit more with them there.  The house, now that every one has left, is quiet once more.
Now for the loot.  I must have been good because I received some cool stuff:
  • Snowshoes.  Unfortunately it's 58°F (!!) outside as I type this and I expect most of the snow to be gone in a day or two.  I'm sure there will be more soon.
  • Camera Tripod.  Now my night/low light shots won't be all wobbly.
  • Light weight Backpack.  I wanted this for my 2010 Spain Pilgrimage.  I want to start training this spring on the Steamboat and Cowboy trails.  The pack is versatile and very light - 2 lbs 7 oz.
  • Balaclava.  Now I can ride the bike in colder weather and, if the stock market really takes a dive, I can fashionably rob banks.
  • Borders Gift Card.  I transformed this into four books - reviews to follow sometime in the coming year.  Thanks Mom!
  • Amazon Gift Card. I will transform this one into music.  I haven't chosen which music yet.
  • Scheels Gift Card.  Closest thing to an REI in these parts.  I think some of it will go into some good walking shoes.  I think they would be better for long distance hiking than boots, especially since the trail won't be that rugged.
  • Pastry Wheel.  I was looking for one of these when I made lasagna.  Couldn't find one.  The Matron of Honor comes through once again.  Now I can make fancy ravioli.  Thanks MoH!
  • Twizzlers.  A traditional gift from the Mom.  Wouldn't be Christmas without them.  Thanks Mom!  (Yep, they are open but I haven't finished them yet.)
  • A generous donation to the Wife's and my fun money from the Parents-In-Law.  We will be sure to use it for fun stuff.
I hope all you readers out there had as good a Christmas as we did.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brrrrrrr!

The high today is supposed to be 1°F, the low -9°F.  To make it interesting, the high wind chill will be -13°F, the low -26°F.  Yippee Skipee!


We'll be venturing out into it all briefly.  The Wife and I are visiting my Mom's to celebrate Christmas and a Birthday.  We'll be the ones running between the warm car and the warm house.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Ice Day

Last night we got about an inch of sleet/freezing rain followed by an inch of snow.  You know it's coming down when the sleet is hitting the window so hard you can hear it over the TV and the thunder scares the dog.  Yep, sleet and snow with thunder - not a good sign.  The Wife's school closed resulting in extension of her winter holiday by a day.

An extra day of vacation would have been a good thing except the weather also interfered with the Wife's weekend plans.  She was planning to join her dad, uncle, and the Matron Of Honor in some Ice Fishing.  With the bad weather she decided to cancel her fishing expedition.  I'm sure they'll reschedule.

People have called me smart before but none have called me wise.  I had some Christmas shopping to get done and I had all day Thursday before the storm to get it done.  Instead of doing the wise thing, I followed the way of the procrastinator and payed the price.  Today I spent over two hours shoveling snow and chipping ice so that I could get my car out of the garage to do my last minute shopping.  I finished my shopping but I'm pretty sure that I will feel sorry tomorrow as I nurse my sore muscles.

Today's Lesson:  I learned if you kick a plastic snow shovel you can get through an inch of ice but eventually the shovel will break.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Car Noises ... Gone!

Yesterday I posted that the Wife's car was making a noise that sounded like something metallic was dragging under the car.  This morning as I backed out to drive to the dealer I heard one squeak followed by ... nothing.  Yep, the noise was gone.  

I hate it when you go to get something fixed and the mystery noise, twitch, pain, whatever, disappears.  Is it fixed or will it come back when it is most inconvenient.

I still went to the dealer and I was happy to say that nothing fell off the car like I'd expected.  The guy at the dealer though we might have had a rock or something somewhere where it rattled when the car was moving.  I don't buy that but I don't have a better explanation and I'm happy that it didn't cost us anything.  I guess this is better than having the wheel fall off on the way to the dealer but I would've liked to have had a more informative closure instead of some grease monkey's guess based on my inadequate description.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Snow Shovelling, Snack Baking Good Time

We had our first real snow today with about three to four inches falling on and off today. This afternoon I shoveled snow for only the second time of my life. I expect to be doing it quite a lot over the next few months. It took me about a half hour to clear off the driveway, sidewalks, and entryway which is perfect - I'll have no problem clearing the driveway between the time I wake the Wife and when she heads out to work. I'd been a little worried that I wouldn't have enough time. I don't want her to have to shovel snow.

While the snow fell I baked some banana bread for me and some sugar cookies for the Wife. This was the first time I baked these things from scratch. The banana bread turned out okay but I think I put too many chocolate chips in the batter and I may have over-baked them. I haven't tasted the cookies yet - I'm saving them for the Wife - but the cookie dough was great yummy great.

This would have been a perfect day except when the wife was leaving, her car made a horrendous metallic screech. I thought something was dragging but there isn't any indication. The Wife ended up taking my car to work. The Honda dealer is guessing it's the brakes. We'll see tomorrow when I take the car in. I hope it is something simple like the brakes but my worry is that the wheel will fall off half way to the dealership. That would really make my day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Weekend Of Normalcy, Music, And Healing

Well, it seems that sometime over this busy weekend I managed get past the worst of this persnickety bug that I've been struggling with.  I think the hump was Saturday night.

On Saturday the Wife joined her friend the Loon Whisperer (LW) and LW's sister for a movie and some Christmas shopping.  I wasn't invited and that was fine with me as she was shopping for my Christmas gifts, the movie was a hard-core chick flick, and I still wasn't feeling too hot.  I spent the day laying around on the couch trying my best to get well.  The Wife had a great day.  She described Saturday as the first normal day she'd had since we moved.  This makes me happy.  Maybe we are finally finding some sense of normalcy after the year of change.

By 6:00 PM I was feeling pretty bad.  Fortunately that seems to have been the peak of my crappitude.  Maybe it was the leftover homemade pizza.  Maybe it was something else, but I started to feel better.  The girls got back around 8:00 PM and by the time we hit the hay, just after mid-night, I was feeling much better.  

On Sunday we said our good byes to the Loon Whisperer, who spent the night at our place, before heading out to the Wife's cousin's hockey game.  Unfortunately we got the start time wrong and we underestimated how on-time they would be so by the time we got there the game was already underway and we missed a bit of the game.  The game, what we saw of it, was pretty good.  His team lost by one but it wasn't due to a lack of trying.

Sunday afternoon we attended a performance of Stomp at the Orpheum , a great old theater in downtown Omaha.  It was pretty good.  Sometimes it was hard to believe that they were making good music with junk.  It was kind of amazing.  You have to have a taste for percussion to enjoy this show.  I enjoyed the show though it got a little old at times.  The mix of humor in with the music worked well.  We both enjoyed the show.

The day was topped off with the Survivor finale.  We were satisfied having Bob win.  He played the game the best in my opinion.

While I was feeling better on Sunday, the temp was dropping.  The high on Sunday was around 49°F at 3:49 AM and dropped to 3°F by 10:00 PM.  It's going to be a cold week ... just like I like them ... but this week, no cold to bring me down.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Makes Me Want To Howl!!!


That crazy Moon makes me want to grow a lot of facial hair and Howl!


That could also be the virus talking. I feel like crap.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sharing Sometimes Sucks

When I grew up, I was told that sharing was a good thing.  I don't think they were thinking about viruses.

The Wife, a teacher exposed to all kind of high school cooties, brought some of her work with her last Friday.  For the next three days she was miserable.  Two days after getting all better, it's my turn.

My nose is running.  My head feels like it's going to explode in a cloud of snot and brain gunk.  Last night I got little sleep.  I kept trying to shift around so that my sinuses could drain to relieve the pressure but I wasn't very successful.  I had some minor body aches that kept me from getting comfortable.  I was very tempted to get my drill and shove it up my nostril in an attempt to unplug my nose.

I'm now all drugged up and I feel a little better.  If it progresses like the Wife's, I'll be through it by Saturday.  Until then, I'll catch up on my CSI reruns and Sniff*Snort*Achoo*Drip*Ugh.

Some things shouldn't be shared.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Our Christmas Tradition

Each year, the Wife and I buy new ornaments for the Christmas Tree.  It's our little tradition.  This year the Wife went with some very colorful and sparkly balls.  I usually shy away from the traditional balls.  I prefer Santas, snowmen, and the occasional reindeer.  There have been exceptions to this rule like this globe ball I bought a few years ago in Solvang.

Last night after a satisfying meal at the noisy and crowded Texas Roadhouse , home of the annoying singing and dancing waiting staff, we went to World Market for some stocking stuffing shopping and I took this opportunity to buy my ornament.  They had a pretty good selection and I narrowed it down to two choices: A sparkly, hot-pink, winged pig and a gift-toting Santa riding a giant rooster.  My decision was made when the Wife said the rooster riding Santa was "twisted".  I like twisted.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Three Wise Santas

Three Wise Santas
Whittled by the Wife's Uncle TO


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

30 Days - I Made It!

Last month I set a goal to post every day for a month. To my surprise I succeeded and posted every day in November. I can't say I enjoyed the experience as there were several days that I agonized about what I should post about. I think the result was a a month full of sub-par posts. Well, they weren't all sub-par but there were a few that didn't quite work.  Pressure does not induce quality.

Now that we've started a new month, I think I will return to a less frequent posting rate. I won't promise an increase in quality, just a decrease in quantity.