Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Homer's Travels Look Back At 2020

2020 … What an unending shit show. A year of two pandemics: one a deadly virus and the other a narcissistic proto-Fascist.  We learned just how ignorant and selfish our fellow Americans are.  It seemed like another bad thing happened every day and the days went on forever … but not in a good way.  A year of anxiety and mental funk that can not be over soon enough.
Let's look back at the dumpster fire that was 2020, shall we:

  • I posted 58 times this year - the lowest since I started Homer's Travels in 2006.  I posted less than I did on the Appalachian Trail.  Sad.  I just couldn't get myself motivated to write.  We didn't go on vacation this year along with almost everyone else.  I didn't want to talk about the pandemic.  I didn't want to post about politics.  There was too much of that out there and everything else was overpowered.  I didn't feel like adding to the dreary mess that we were bombarded with in 2020 so I didn't. 
There is hope on the horizon but there was hope on 2019's horizon as well.  No one saw the pandemic coming and no one knew just how unprepared we were.  But with the vaccinations finally being distributed and a change of leadership we can start dreaming of normalcy again.  How will the future unfold changed by this year's experiences?  Some things will have slowed.  Other things will be accelerated.  The future is in our hands.

Here's to a Happy, Prosperous, Healthy, and Boring New Year for all.  May all your dreams come true in 2021.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas To All

I hope you are all having a merry, healthy, and safe Christmas.  The Wife and I are having a quiet Christmas at home.  I will be taking a Christmas walk followed by Christmas dinner.

Merry Christmas!

We were both good this year.  The Wife got two 32" televisions to compliment her 70"+ television in her She-shed.  She can now watch three games at the same time which makes her She-shed the closest thing to heaven for the Wife.

I put the balls in the tree this year.  They didn't
handle the wind we had a couple days ago very well.

I received a new Tempest weather station to replace our aging one.  The new one had no moving parts using some innovating methods to measure wind speed and rain accumulation.  I'm still working on mounting it properly to get accurate readings.

Mom have us gift cards, twizzlers (a Christmas custom), and a box of heirlooms, including a couple from Guatemala) that will decorate our house. (Thanks Mom!!!)


2020 is almost over.


Monday, December 21, 2020

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today is the winter solstice.  Today, as it is still 2020, will certainly be the longest shortest day of the year.  Winter has begun.  I was hoping for a cold, snowy winter but there is little evidence for that at the moment.  Maybe in 2021.

Also, tonight there will be a conjunction on Jupiter and Saturn.  The two planets will line up forming what looks like a bright star.  It has been suggested that a similar conjunction was the "Star of Bethlehem" that guided the Three Wise Men.

Finally the conjunction will be joined by the small Ursid meteor shower.

Let the lengthening of the day ... BEGIN!!!

Friday, December 18, 2020

Forgotten Remembrances

The last Camino marker
at Faro Fisterra 
 As I was walking today I heard "Walk on the Ocean" by Toad the Wet Sprocket.  This song always reminds me of sitting on the rocks near Faro Fisterra watching the sun set on my second Camino.  As I was brought back in time by the music I realized that I hadn't posted a second Camino anniversary post.  Not only had I forgotten but I'd missed it by nearly two months.  This bummed me out.  My two Caminos (and now, to some extent, my Appalachian Trail hike) were very important events in my life right up there with meeting the Wife and our marriage.  To forget them ... not a good thing.

This is just another symptom of where I've been since I returned from the Appalachian Trail.  As I mentioned in June, I have not been present since I've gotten back and the year since my return has done little to fix it.

I am disconnected from my life and now I am missing things important to me. I am losing connection in my life. Something needs to change soon before I'm too far gone.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

It Has Finally Started

 A bit late this year but it has finally come.  The first bloom on our Christmas Cactus.  Usually it blooms earlier in December but better late than never ... especially after the year we just lived through.

The first bloom of the Christmas season.

Happy Holiday Season's Beginnings Everyone!!!

Saturday, December 05, 2020

History Updated

Last September, nearly a year after I returned from the Appalachian Trail (AT), I decided to reread my posts from the time on the trail.  As I read memories flooded back along with typos and bad formatting.  I decided that it was time to do something I have never done on Homer's Travels - I edited the posts.

Over the last couple months, on and off, I have edited all my AT posts. I corrected errors, massaged the formatting, and most importantly I added stories that, for one reason or other, were omitted from the original post.  I'm sure there are some stories still missing from the record but some things only make sense if you were there.

So, if you are interested in my 2019 AT adventure, go back to April 2019 and reread the posts and learn a little more about my adventures along the way. 


Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Music Of Our Lives

Music is such an interesting thing.  As far as I know it doesn't occur in nature.  This natural things we refer to as song - bird song, whale song, etc. - are more language that true music.  Music is an encoding of emotion into sound and words and how it is interpreted, for me, has changed throughout my life.

When I was young I learned music from my brother and it soon became background noise when I did homework.  Back then it was more the rhythm than the lyrics that mattered.  Most of the time I couldn't even understand the lyrics.  I did read the liner notes sometimes but the rhythm of the music was most important to me.

When I moved on to college my music went with me but it moved from the background to become my escape.  Music was where I went when I was stressed and frustrated with my young adult life.  Headphones would go on, eyes would close, and I would drift away to a world where things didn't matter.  Even then the lyrics were often not important.  Now it was the emotions conjured up by the music that was important.

I graduated from college and the real world intruded into my music habits.  I didn't listen to as much as I used to but it never left my life.  Over the years its function shifted again, this time to nostalgia.  I heard once that our taste in music is locked in during our high school and early college years.  It definitely did for me.  Most of the music (but not all) that I listen to now is classic rock from the 70s and 80s.  

"Holding on to Yesterday"
by Ambrosia

As music has become nostalgic for me the lyrics have begun to be more prominent.  I take the time to listen to the words and the internet has been a convenient source of lyrics.  Putting lyrics to the emotions and the rhythms has brought me to where I am today.  Music has now gained meaning in my life.  I'm not sure if this is necessarily a good thing.  Some music has become more meaningful as I've gotten older and more experienced until it has gained too much meaning.  

Meaning links music to events.  For me these events often have to do with loss.  The passing of my brother and father.  The passing of Gv (four years ago today).  These events link songs to the emotions felt at the time.  I listened to songs to escape from sorrow and the songs become inextricably linked to sorrow.   The links are so strong that, until recently, I have not been able to listen to certain songs.  The emotions and memories they recall were too painful.

As I walked the Appalachian Trail the music in my head was all that distracted me on the hard days.  I was not the only one.  One hiker who I never met would write lyrics in the shelter journals. He would put a single verse in each journal so it took several shelters and thus several days to 'hear' the whole song.

Some of the oddest songs bubbled up during that six month hike and I realized how little of the songs I actually knew.  I began looking up lyrics when I was in town and looking up new songs.  I listened to Spotify on my phone.  Inevitably some of those painful songs would come around in the circulation and, after an initial shock, I found they'd become more tolerable.  The emotions are still there but they now carry the patina of nostalgia.

I suppose that is true with all emotions.  They fade over time and are only brought to the surface if something, like music, triggers their reemergence.  Despite the pain that I sometimes feel, I don't know what I would do without the music in my life.

If you are interest in my somewhat eclectic taste in music you can listen to my far-from-comprehensive Spotify "Music I Like" playlist.




Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy US Thanksgiving!!!

 To all my family and friends in the United States, I wish you a Happy, Socially Distant, and Safe Thanksgiving.

I am thankful that, as this trying year nears its end, there are signs of hope on the horizon.

An iconic image of Zuri Jenson 
by Anthony T. Peña


Saturday, November 07, 2020

Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish

To our EX-President I only have one thing to say which I will express with a song:

Warning:  This song uses the F-word in copious amounts and is Not Safe For Work (NSFW)


"F**k You"
by Lily Allen

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Do The Right Thing - VOTE

If you haven't cast your vote for the Democrats then you'd better get off you bum and get to your polling place and get it done.  Wear your mask, maintain social distancing, and don't be afraid of the lines.  The future of our democracy may very well be at stake.  Do your civic duty.

From BLM protests earlier this year - Wisdom.
If you are not planning to vote or think the Republicans are doing a bang up job, What the hell is wrong with you?


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween ...

 I would wish everyone a happy Halloween but ... it's 2020 so:


Halloween Everyone!!!


Also, enjoy the Blue Moon tonight (Spoiler Alert: It's not actually blue).

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Happy Birthday To My Wonderful Wife!

A song for the Wife on her birthday: 
 
 
"I Love You"
by Climax Blues Band

Thank you for coming into my life.  

Happy Birthday!!!

Monday, October 05, 2020

We Have Done Our Duty ... Now It's Your Turn


This may actually be the most important election of my (and your) life if not for the entire nation as a whole.  We can not stand another four years of what we have been going through.

I dropped the our ballots in the election dropbox this afternoon.  The Wife and I have done our part.  Now comes the checking of the Nebraska Voter website to ensure our ballots have been accepted.  No leaving it to chance this year.  There is too much at stake.

Usually I ask you to vote no matter who you vote for.  This year I want you to vote the straight Democratic ticket.  The Republicans have shown us their true colors over the past three years and we have to vote the bums out.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Fever ... In The Morning ... Aching All Through The Day ...

 Sunday night I was exhausted for no real reason and had the chills.

Monday I was achy and had a headache and a temperature of 102℉.  I didn't have the cough, breathing issues, or taste and smell loss typical of COVID-19.

Tuesday I felt worse physically than on Monday but I no longer had a fever.  The Wife stayed home from work out of an abundance of caution.  I took two Covid tests - the first being the free Nebraska COVID-19 test that takes three to five days for results and the second was a rapid test.  The rapid test came back negative so no COVID-19 for me.

Wednesday the Wife went back to work but I still feel crappy with body aches and lack of energy.  My fever appears to have lasted only twenty-four hours.

I have no idea where I got what I got.  I've only gone out when I was going shopping and I always have a mask on.  Somewhere along the way a flu virus, or some other bug, managed to get by my defenses.  In 2020, any sign of illness takes on whole new dimensions.

Be careful out there … and get a Flu shot.


Saturday, September 26, 2020

A Year After

 A year ago today I left Imp Shelter and Campsite and hiked off the Appalachian Trail (AT) for the last time.  While I have physically been off the trail for a year part of me is still on the trail.

After my diabetes diagnosis last spring I began walking again hoping diet and exercise would help (they have so far).  On those walks my mind inevitably wanders back to the AT and I begin second guessing all the decisions I made on the trail.  What if?  What if? What if?  It makes it hard for me to enjoy my walks.  

Sunset approaching along the AT.
  Maybe if I put it down in a post I can find a way to move forward.

  • I should have started earlier.  Even a week earlier may have made a difference in the long run.  I would have reached Damascus, VA around the time for Trail Days.  I could have experienced this spectacle and it would have placed me, at least for a time, in the Damascus Bubble of hikers leaving the town en masse.  The extra people would have made the hike a more social and less lonely experience.
  • I should have continued my food discipline north of Harper's Ferry, WV.  Food discipline while I'm on long hikes is an issue I first experienced on the Camino de Santiago.  In the southern part of the AT I did pretty good eating most of my packed food.  North of Harper's Ferry I began getting lazy.  I didn't eat all my food and I often was too lazy to boil water for my dehydrated meals in the evening.  Several stages I added an extra day while I was on the trail which often forced me to eat four days worth of food over five days.  Poor food discipline may have contributed to my body not recovering near the end.
  • I was too fixated on staying in shelters.  I don't remember how many times I put up my tent but I think it was around fourteen times over my one hundred seventy-seven days on the AT.  I would often stop at a shelter early in the afternoon because the next shelter was too far to reach before dark.  What I should have done is stop at the shelter, eat some food, and take a nap before continuing down the trail, stopping a few hours later in a place where I could put up my tent.  I think this would have added two to five miles onto my day thus getting me that much farther down the trail.  This was especially true during the summer when the days were long and daylight was plentiful.
It's this last point that would have made the most difference I think.  Even If I averaged one mile extra per day I would have been over one hundred fifty miles ahead of where I was.  Having an extra couple of weeks might have made the difference.  The only downside is that the trail might have been even more lonely than it was.  *sigh* What if …?

For those who are wondering, I do not have the desire to go back and finish it.  When I made the decision last April it was final.  I just wish I could find a way to get Little Hill out of my head and move on.  Maybe this post will help Little Hill finally get some rest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Autumn Equinox

We reach this autumnal equinox shrouded by the passing of the Notorious RBG and an election struggling under the weight of a manufactured crisis.

If only …
May we all survive the changing of the seasons during this unending, and exceedingly cruel, year.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Another Year Of 'Winning'

 I forgot to post about 9-11 last year.  I know I was distracted by the Appalachian Trail but I should have remembered.  Forgetfulness is often our downfall.

It has been nineteen years since the towers came down and Bin Laden's victory continues.  America has been in the grip of terror and even the hopeful Obama presidency wasn't able to break the downward spiral of our Democratic Experiment.  If anything the hopefulness only brought out the ugliness once hidden in the shadows.

We are less than a month and a half from the American elections and all I feel is a confused knot of hope and dread.  Which path will our country take?  Does it really matter?  I can't forget the fact that thirty to forty percent supports the President and his sycophants.  They will not go away after the elections ... no matter what the results are.

The towers fell nineteen years ago and the chain reaction that began goes on and on.  It didn't start the corruption of our Democracy but it did act as an accelerant for its downfall.  Now, since the beginning of the year, Covid-19 has claimed American lives equivalent to sixty-four 9-11s. Another 9-11s worth lose their lives every two and a half days.  When will it all end?


Thursday, August 27, 2020

And The Results Are ...

Since the Wife started in-person teaching last week we decided that we should be periodically tested for COVID-19.  On Saturday I visited TestNebraska and, after completing a few easy questions I was asked if I wanted a test.

On Monday I visited the local (decrepit) mall and, entering the now defunct Sears auto garage, had a swab stuffed up my nostrils.  When they say your eyes may water and you may cough they aren't joking.  I guess your eyes water and you cough when they tickle your brain with a cotton swab.

Today I received the results from the Monday test (a three day turnaround) and they are:

"You have tested NEGATIVE for coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19." 

Good news I guess but it is only a snapshot in time.  Since the test I've been to Sam's Club and Walmart and the Wife has been to school four times - all possible infection events.

In a couple weeks I'll probably go do it all again.  Until then, Woo Hoo I'm Negative!


Friday, August 21, 2020

The Return Of An Annual Traveller

Monarch butterflies migrate through Eastern Nebraska.  They tend to move through our area in late August - Early September.  Over the years Monarch Butterfly populations have been declining.  The Wife, in an attempt to help the Monarchs, went on a milkweed quest earlier this summer and she planted some in our backyard.  Milkweed is special as Monarch Butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed.  This week, as I was mowing, I noticed this:

Monarch Caterpillar on milkweed. 

I hope it finds a safe place to cocoon so we can have one more butterfly in the world.


Saturday, August 01, 2020

A Week Later ... And An Almost Tragic Bunny Tale

It's been a week since Iago left us and it is strangely silent in our house.  I can't go into the kitchen without checking to see if he has water in his bowl even though the bowl has been gone for a week.  At 6 am and 5 pm I have to check myself since I no longer need to feed him.

Iago's paw print ... full of love.

I am sure he is still with us in spirit ... he is definitely here in hair.  The vacuum canister was half full with black dog hair when I cleaned this week.  It will diminish over the next couple weeks as the last vestiges of Iago are sucked out of the carpet.

Along with the mourning of Iago's passing there was some bunny drama this week.  If you follow me on Twitter you have already heard but for those who don't, here is the story.  We have rabbits in our backyard.  This year they started digging holes in the grass.  After chasing them away a few times I made a pile of stones on the deck that I could throw at them to get them to quit.  This week I saw a rabbit digging in a hole.  I went out on the deck and threw a stone and missed it by about a foot.  It didn't budge.  I grabbed a second stone and threw it.  I didn't think I was a good throw and I expected to hit it on its back but to my horror I hit the rabbit square on the head.  I could hear the stone thunking it's poor little bunny skull.  The rabbit staggered around a bit and laid down.  It's head slowly went back until it was staring straight up.  I think at this point it went unconscious.  A few minutes later it lowered it's head and just sat there.  After about fifteen minutes I went down the stairs and, seeing me, it hopped off into the bushes.  I felt very relieved.

I don't think I could ever hit a rabbit's head at 20 - 25 feet like I did.  Heck, when I toss the remote to the Wife less than ten feet away I usually miss by three feet.  But, if I see another rabbit digging ... I will try to be less accurate as my heart wouldn't be able to take it really.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Santiago 03/10/2007 - 07/25/2020

Last night we made the hard decision to put down our dear companion Santiago.  He had been suffering from all sorts of old dog ailments for the past three years and, while we tried our best to keep him healthy and comfortable, on Saturday he reached the point where we couldn't help him anymore.

The day we got Santiago.
We adopted Santiago - I called him Mr. Iago - from one of the Wife's friends.  We named him after both the Camino de Santiago and the Wife's favorite character from Ernest Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea". He was five years old when we got him.  He's spent his first five years being a farm dog.  Unfortunately he had a taste for the neighbor's chickens so we took him in to keep him out of trouble.

Iago was such a laid back pupper.  Nothing bothered him.  He was unflappable.  The only thing that would set him off was when he saw a raptor circling overhead.  He would run around the yard barking at it until it flew away.  Other birds, big or small, would not even get a second glance from him.

He wasn't much into toys.  You could throw a ball and he would bring it back but after the third throw he would be done.  He did have a plush candy corn that he liked but he would only grab it when he had to go out to do his business.  We started calling it his "pee pee corn".

Iago was not a smart dog - in fact, he was as dumb as a box of rocks - but he was the sweetest dog I've ever had.  He loved licking hands, chewing ice cubes, eating hibiscus flowers, and hunting rabbits in the backyard.

Iago being a trooper with snuggle bear.
In 2017 he developed laryngeal paralysis.  This made it hard for him to breath.  If he got too excited he would weeze and almost passed out.  His heavy breathing became the background noise in our house.  Later the same year he developed issues in his rear end - a possible result of being hit by a car as a pup.  He was started on opioids and anti-inflammatory meds to control the pain.

Over 2019 and 2020 he slowly lost control of his rear legs.  He became incontinent and would spontaneously poop ... often in his sleep.  He could walk but his rear legs were becoming shaky.  He also began suffering from short seizures.

On Saturday he refused to go down the stairs.  The final straw was when he struggled to go up two stair treads.  We knew it was time.  We let him go so he wouldn't suffer anymore.

The Wife and I will miss him.  The house is already so quiet without his heavy breathing.  We are comforted that he lived so long - thirteen years and four months - and we could give him a good life in our home.  If someone ever asks me to describe him in a few words I will simply say he was a very good boy


March 10, 2007 - July 25, 2020


Santiago

aka Mr.Iago, Old Man, and many other names.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Another Year Around The Sun For Me

Yep ... I'm fifty-seven.  Another year has passed and for the first time in a while I am really feeling my age. The more I think about it the more I'm sure that I have yet to recover from my Appalachian Trail hike and the more I think about that the more I doubt I ever will.

I came back diabetic but I've managed to lower my numbers a bit but I am still on the divide between diabetic and pre-diabetic.  I probably could get my numbers lower but I have lost the fight in me.  This strange year we're working through is not helping any.

But that's OK.  The fact is my body isn't what it used to be and that's the natural progression of things.  So instead of worrying about it I started celebrating my birthday on Friday with a couple scoops of Cold Stone Creamery birthday cake ice cream with cookie dough mixins.  Tonight it will be Italian take out. I'll get back to trying to be healthy tomorrow ... or not.

Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Another Year Around The Sun Together

Happy Anniversary to the best Social Distancing partner and world traveling buddy a man could ask for.  Every day I count my blessings that I am yours.

Happy twenty-third anniversary!!!
May our wonderful life together last longer than we can imagine.


Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Piece Of Our World

This weekend across the country various Juneteenth celebrations are taking place.  I have to admit that, while I've known about Juneteenth for awhile, I have not known its true significance until this year.  Omaha has always had Juneteenth parades celebrating the liberation of the slaves.  This year, with the ongoing protests against injustice and bigotry, the day has taken on a new importance.

A memorial to James Scurlock killed during the protests.

Omaha has not been immune to the protests.  Early on a young Black man (James Scurlock) was killed by a white bar owner (allegedly prone to racism) during a protest in downtown Omaha.  It was first declared self-defense but it was soon handed over to a grand jury to determine if charges should be filed.  On one of my walks I took some pictures showing the signs of support from the community. 




More pictures of the protest signs can be found in my 2017-2020 Protest & Resistance Google Photos Album.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

I Hope The Summer Is Better Than The Spring

Spring has been ... interesting this year.  I can't say I'm a fan.  But as of now, it is the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere and maybe ... just maybe ... the Summer will be better.

... but probably not.


Happy Summer Solstice Everyone!!!


P.S.  Also Happy Hike Naked Day for those ambling about in the buff.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Not Present ... But Accounted For

I haven't been posting much lately.  It's not like I haven't had enough to write about with the pandemic and the continuing protests of injustice and inequality.  Some may assume that the social distancing may be at the root of this blog inactivity but that would be far from the truth.  When the stay at home orders came down in mid-March my life, frankly, didn't change a whit.  I've been socially distancing, self-isolating, and staying at home since long before the world even heard of COVID-19.  The only change I had in my life, really, was the Wife being with me all day - a plus in my book.

The fact is, since I returned from the Appalachian Trail I haven't been ... present.  I feel a bit adrift ... tuned out ... and I am content with this - at least for the moment.  This feeling is probably a result of having completed all my plans that I've had since 2012.  Ending my Appalachian Trail hike was the last thing on my list and I'm still digesting my experience.

Now, while part of me feels disconnected, my Twitter followers (@HomersTravels) know I am following what 2020 is throwing at us very closely.  I've kept Homer's Travels fairly politics-free.  Twitter is where my politics comes out full force.  So, If you are bored by the blog silence, feel free to check out my twitter feed.

At this point in similar posts I would pledge to either make plans, do things, or post more ... yada yada yada.  I'm not doing that this time.  My head isn't in the right place to make plans right now and, frankly, 2020 is not making it easy to make plans - a good thing since I've had my fill of plans for a while.  This may change ... or it may not.  You'll know it as soon as I figure it all out.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Ghost Droplets

I was taking Iago out to do his business in our backyard when I noticed something.  It had rained that morning (Saturday) and there were droplets of water on the long leaves of a potted plant on our patio.  That's what I thought until I took a closer look ...

Ghost droplets.
... and I realized that the leaves were in fact dry.  Somehow the image of the raindrops was printed on the leaves like a photographic exposure.  I've never seen this before and I have to say ... It's pretty cool!

Friday, May 15, 2020

My Ninth Caminoversary

While I walked the Appalachian Trail (AT) I often ran into people who had either already hiked the Camino or were planning to do so in the near future.  I had a Camino shell attached to my AT backpack.  One hiker even recognized it and asked me about my Camino.

As I was hiking the first half of the AT I decided that I would like to do a third Camino along the Camino Del Norte route.  I was even a little excited about the idea.

The path of the Camino.
Then the second half of the AT happened.  As I went through New England the desire to do the Camino, or any long hike for that matter, faded ... it faded very quickly.

At this time, the ninth anniversary of the start of my first Camino, I doubt I will ever do the Camino again. But, as the world had reminded us lately, you never know what the future holds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Sometimes I'm Too Honest ... And An Update.

I was suppose to go in to get my teeth cleaned today.  My original appointment had been postponed due to Coronavirus.  I get to the office, they take my temperature (normal range), and give me a questionnaire.  One of the questions was "Do you have a runny nose?"  It's allergy season.  We have had moderate-high to high pollen counts for a few weeks here in Nebraska.  My eyes are itchy and, yes, my nose runs. I marked Yes.

That honesty killed my appointment.  I'd not mentioned my seasonal allergies to my dentist before so there is no note of them in my record.  So, in the day of covid-19, that was enough to stop my cleaning in its tracks.   *sigh*

My allergies are now part of my record so when I return next week, my teeth will finally be sparkling white.

Also, an update for my last post.  On Mother's Day I talked about the little bunny babies in a hole in our yard.  I'd placed a paver over the hole to keep Iago out.  Well after that post I looked off our deck and noticed the paver had moved nearly a foot off the hole.  Looking closer I saw the hole was empty.  Not sure what happened.  Either Momma bunny moved the paver and removed her babies or Iago move the paver and had a snack.  I think it was most likely the latter.  His farts reeked that night.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day ... To All Types Of Mothers

I want to wish My Mom a Happy Mother's Day in a socially distant way.  It's a nice day to remember mothers of all type.

For example, our yard - our neighborhood actually - is being overrun by mother bunnies.  Looks like an Easter Bunny convention out there.  They are starting to dig holes into the middle of out backyard.  Iago found one such hole and pulled out a tiny two inch long furless snack.  I covered the hole with a paver so that he wouldn't get to the other baby bunnies.

A bunny sitting in our front yard probably contemplating
where she will dig a hole to fill up with babies.
I'm kind of torn.  I don't like killing little baby critters but at the same time we have too many rabbits around.  Kind of wish the hawk I saw in out backyard a while back would return and pick off a few.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The Changing Landscape Of Street Garbage

Over the years I have noticed that one of the most common pieces of garbage I see along the streets of Omaha are mini-bottles of vodka and whiskey (notably Fireball).  I have found empty mini-bottles of alcohol in poor neighborhoods and wealthy neighborhoods.  They seem not to discriminate socio-economically.

The all too common fireball bottle trash along the streets of Omaha.
Now, in the age of Coronavirus I am seeing a new addition to the ubiquitous whiskey bottles.  The surgical glove and the slightly less common surgical mask.  They are appearing in parking lots and along the side of the street.

Pink is pretty unless it's a medical glove on the grass.
Just another sign of how some people are slobs and how our world is changing in the time of pandemic.

Monday, May 04, 2020

May The Fourth ... And All That

I couldn't find a Star Wars related picture to post to celebrate May the Fourth day so I decided to post a totally unrelated picture of a cardinal sitting on a light pole.  May the Fourth be with you.

A non Star Wars related picture of a cardinal.

P.S.  Happy first anniversary to B & E !!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Social Distance Art

On my walks around the city, I sometimes come across driveway art.  Many are the art of children but some are really nice ... like this parrot.

Chalk art Parrot.
It seems social distancing brings out the artist is some of us.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Comfy Chair For Chillin'

We got eight and a half inches of snow yesterday ... in the middle of April.  It was crazy.

A Comfy Chair for Chillin'
Today, twenty-four hours later, all the snow is gone except for a few traces in the shadows.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Photograph: "Praying For April Showers?"

Taken today during an ... April Shower.

"Praying for April Showers"
by Bruce H.
Can this please be our last winter snow?

Sunday, April 12, 2020

For Easter ... A Goldfinch

Happy Easter to all today.  To celebrate, here is a picture of a Goldfinch.  Goldfinches aren't that common in our backyard but they are occasionally attracted to our thistle feeder.

A Goldfinch checking out the backyard.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

I Expected This ... But I Don't Have To Like It

Having been outside for nearly one hundred seventy seven days while hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT), when I got home last October I had no desire to go outside.  I hunkered down playing computer games and watched TV and movies.  I practically became one with my recliner.  With the inactivity came bad eating habits.  I gained twelve pounds.  I sit so much that I hobble around like an old man when I get up.  I knew I should be doing things differently but I was just not motivated.

I tried to force myself to go walking but, again, the motivation wasn't there.  Since 2009 I'd walked a lot to prepare for my first Camino, my second Camino, RAGBRAI, and my two AT attempts.  With the AT and all the other goals behind me I no longer have any goal to push me outside the house.

The universe made it even more difficult when they asked everyone to stay home because of the pandemic.  But the universe is sending me mixed signals right now.  I had my blood tested for my annual exam.  My lipids are high but more importantly my Glucose and A1C are way too high.  As a matter of fact my A1C says that I am officially diabetic.  I'm not stupid (most of the time) and I was expecting the bad news.

So now I am motivated.  Now my body is forcing me to watch what I eat and to get off my butt and do more exercise.  In three months I will be retested and we'll see if I can wrangle my numbers into a better place using only diet and exercise.  If not I will have to add another prescription to the one I already take for my high triglycerides.

Have to say I am not very happy with my genetics right now. *sigh*

P.S. Damn I want a sweat snack right now!

Friday, April 03, 2020

Appalachian Trail - One Final Post

A year ago today I started my Appalachian Trail (AT) attempt at Springer Mountain, Georgia.  I'm not sure I was full of optimism on that day but I was determined to give it my best try.  That I did.  One hundred and seventy-seven days, and one thousand eight hundred and ninety-four miles, later I decided to end my attempt.

When I quit I told myself I was done.  A few days later I changed my mind and thought I would return to finish the last three hundred miles to get to the end at Mt Katahdin. Over the past seven months I have vacillated between completing it and calling it done.  But this week the last vestige of my AT was removed when, with the help of the Wife, I trimmed the long, bushy beard I grew on the trail back to where is was when I started my adventure. Now when I look in the mirror, Little Hill is no longer looking back.

So I have made a decision and I have settled on not finishing the AT.  I'm not getting any younger and those last miles are not easy.  My attempt is officially over.

Not that I don't have my moments when I look up at the night sky and regret and the desire to finish what I started wells up in me and I get a strange feeling in my gut.  But, in the end, I remember how I felt and the reasons I had for ending my attempt and the moment fades.

Despite knowing I did the right thing, these moments will haunt me for years to come and when I look up at the stars I feel Little Hill, somewhere on the AT, looking up at them too.

Monday, March 30, 2020

And The Cupboard Was Bare ...

I do my shopping on Mondays.  In this time of Covid-19 it is the only time I get out of the house.  Today I went to whole foods to purchase a couple items I use for homemade trail mix.  I add the trail mix to cereal and fruit and eat it for lunch.  Two of the items I was looking to buy in bulk were slivered almonds and pumpkin seed.  Here are the bulk bins at Whole Foods:

Empty bulk goods bin at Whole Foods.
At Sam's Club I am still amazed that there is no toilet paper.  What are people doing with all of this paper?  Paper mache?  I suppose this tells you how many people do their duty at work/school instead of home.

Empty toilet paper isle at Sam's Club.
Walmart is trying to keep things stocked but it may become a losing battle against all the people panic buying.  Soon grocery shopping may become a scavenger hunt.  The times we live in ...

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Blackbirds ... Everywhere.

While some people mark the coming of Spring by the sighting of the first Robin, in our backyard it's the return of the flocks of Blackbirds and Red Wing Blackbirds.  They swoop in and empty our birdfeeders several times before moving on.

Blackbirds in and near the suet feeder.
While they are visiting, our backyard is full of the trill of birdsong.

A Red Wing Blackbird.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Book: Margaret Atwood's "Testaments"

My one and only read so far this year was Margaret Atwood's sequel to "The Handmaid's Tail".  "Testaments" takes place a few years after the events of both the original book and the Hulu streaming series.

"Testaments" is a collections of recollections and ... testaments ... from various girls and women in the theocratic authoritarian nation of Gilead.  Many of the testaments are from characters in the streaming series as well as a few from the original book.

When I started reading this book I had a difficult time trying to put the story together.  The chapters, while interesting, seemed disjointed.  This changed as you progressed and the various stories began to weave together to a satisfying cohesive ending.

While the original Handmaid's Tale was a bit dark and dreary, Testaments tried to end the reader with some hope.  I read this before the Pandemic exploded but I would say the ending is a good one for the times we live in teaching us that all bad things, through the work of many, will come to an end someday.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads because it was interesting and had an uplifting message at its conclusion.

Friday, March 20, 2020

A Bird ...And Not A Bird

Here is another visitor to our backyard feeders.  A Downy Woodpecker at our suet feeder.

A Downy Woodpecker on our Suet feeder.
A new visitor to our backyard was not a bird.  It was a squirrel but not just any squirrel - a black squirrel.  I've seen them in other parts of Omaha and Council Bluffs but this was the first in our backyard.  It's not the best picture but it's the best I could do before he scurried off.

A black squirrel looking for fallen bird seed at the bottom of a fence.
If I get a better picture I'll share it.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Happy First Day Of Spring?

As I sit in the basement watching movies during the Covid-19 social distancing, I would like to wish everyone a happy first day of spring.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in winter.  We had very little snow and unusually warm temperatures - not the type of winter I like.  I like the crisp air and the purity of a freshly fallen snow.  This winter was just drab and dreary.

Now winter is ending with a pandemic that is trying its best to mess up our lives.  The social distancing isn't really changing my life.  Since I returned from the Appalachian Trail I have been a hard core homebody social distancing before it was cool ... or necessary.  The Wife, though, is having a tougher time as all this staying at home is not normal for her.  For her sanity I hope this subsides sooner than later.

I can't wait for this already unending year to be over.  Maybe spring will bring an improvement.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Chilean Patagonia: Magnet Edition

Well, I have no excuse for the delay but finally, over two months after we returned from Chile, I finally photographed and posted the travel magnets from the trip.

You can find them all on the Travel Magnet tab at the top of the blog.  Here are a few favorites:

The local Selknam figure common in the Patagonia area.
A fury rhea.
Torres del Paine national Park hand painted embellished with sand and crystals.
From the protests in Santiago, the Cacerola.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

The Endless Jerking Around Of Time

If you haven't already, set your clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time.  This has become less relevant in this world of cellphones and clocks that set themselves.

End the endless back and forth cycle - take back our time!
Frankly, I wish they would pick a time and just stick with it all year.  This switching back and forth twice a year seems silly.

While we are talking about time, how about eliminating two time zones in the US?  Merge the Pacific and Mountain time zones and merge the Central and Eastern Time zones.  This would simplify a lot frankly.  Heck, if China can have one time zone for the entire country surely we can reduce ours from four to two.

Now I just need to find that lost hour of sleep.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Photograph: "Sunbeam Flowers"

Silk flowers caught in a sunbeam.

"Sunbeam Flowers"
by Bruce H.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Happy Leap Day And A Photograph: "Concrete Steps"

I hope everyone enjoyed/is enjoying the extra day this year.  It's a beautiful one here in Omaha with sunny skies and unusual warmth for February so the Wife and I went out for lunch followed by antiquing.

"Concrete Steps"
by Bruce H.
The person who left these prints should have leaped a little farther.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Bird Nerdy

I have to admit that I am getting bird nerdy as I get older.  I feed the birds in our backyard and have accumulated quite a following of birds there.  Over the last year or so I have played around with the birdseed mixture as well as added new feeders with different foods.  I now have three feeders: a standard one with a mix of birdseed, a suet feeder, and a thistle seed feeder.

In the past year our usual sparrows and mourning doves have been joined by goldfinches (who like the thistle seed), downy woodpeckers(who like the suet), cardinals (who go for the Cardinal mix in my main feeder), and, more recently, robins and blue jays.  I'm excited about the Jays since I have seen them very rarely in our yard but I've seen one twice in the last three days so I'm hoping it/they stay.

A hawk squatting on a light pole behind our house.
Also attracted to our backyard, and the new street light poles the city has installed behind out house, is a hawk that, I expect, is hunting critters that feed off the seed that falls from the feeders.

I will have to try to get some pictures to post as I discover new birds checking out our yard.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Chilean Patagonia: Days Seven And Eight - The Way Home

Day Six:  On our last partial day in Patagonia we took a free shuttle into town for the last gasp of our sightseeing and shopping.  We visited the modest church and a few stores we'd stopped at a few days earlier to finish off our shopping list ... mostly.

After a lunch at our hotel we were taken to the airport for our mid afternoon flight to Santiago (the flight where I left my fleece).  We were picked up at the airport by the same guide who's helped us nearly a week earlier.

We ate dinner at our hotel's rooftop bar before walking to our favorite ice cream shop in Santiago.

Day Seven:  Our flight home didn't leave until the evening so we had a free day in the city.  The Wife had one task - buy Cuban cigars for her brother.  It now seems to be a custom since we've bought them in Cuba, Canada, and now Chile - all the 'C' countries.

The Wife had asked our guide about the easiest way to get to the Casa de Habano cigar store.  She suggested we take the subway.  She also suggested take the subway to a market connected to a church.  Her suggestions became our last day itinerary.

We walked a couple blocks to the subway and rode it to the end of the line.  A short, and hot, one block walk took us to the market.  We ate lunch in a restaurant connected to the market before we dropped some more money here buying some rather unique pieces for our collection.

There was a funeral going on in the church so we couldn't go in so we got back on the subway and headed to the Casa de Habano.  This was a longer walk from the station and I was sweating by the time we got there.  The Wife pulled out her brother's list and impressed everyone with her brother's taste in cigars.

After the cigar shop we stopped at an ice cream place.  It was good but not nearly as good as our favorite.  Our guide had suggested another ice cream place but we didn't see it until after we'd had our ice creams.

A subway ride took us back to the hotel's neighborhood.  On the walk back we browsed through the protest stickers and found some more treasures.  I'll have to share one or two in future posts.

Cat on a chill tin roof.
The rest was uneventful. They took us to the airport where we caught our red-eye flight back to the States.

A peacock displaying his finest at the church market.
It turned out to be a nice relaxing trip.  It is the southernmost the Wife and I have ever been.  The opposite of last year's trip to Iceland geography wise.  I think next Christmas we'll stay home.  I kinda miss being home during that time of the year.

Pictures can be found in my 2019-2020 Chilean Patagonia Google Photos album.