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Recent blessings:

     The days are getting longer--I actually saw the sun when I got off the bus at the park and ride lot one day.

     Monday was a Very Bad Day at work, no lunch that day, but Tuesday I was blessed to enjoy a free lunch with Dawn.

     My church did prayer and worship meetings last Sunday through Wednesday, and I was grateful for good weather and the ability to attend three in person and only livestream one of them. Also grateful to have a three day weekend this weekend for catching up on loads of stuff I fell behind with!

     Thankful that despite the snow Thursday into Friday, it was warm enough the highways were just wet. So I arrived at the Towners quite early and have a smooth trip homeward also. We had a great time together.

     Due to the snowstorm being so wet and leaving everything so icy, I abandoned my plans for snowshoeing this weekend. Instead I went for a walk after church at the nearby NWR with my ice cleats. It was a really nice time: since the Minnesota River has not frozen over yet in that area, bald eagles are hanging around! I saw five of them--one adult alone, a pair of juveniles, and an almost-adult with a very young juvenile. Usually, I'd have to drive to Wabasha or Lake City to see multiple eagles together--a big treat indeed!
  • Current Mood
    hungry hungry

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Even against such awful times as last week, delights and blessings remain:

     My replacement for my external hard drive that broke is amazing. It's solid state, with USB-c so I'm not trying to plug it in 3 times, and USB 3.1 speed. I was blown away to copy over 14 Gb onto it in less than two minutes! I wish I could tell my younger self, back in those 1.44 Mb floppy disk days, what was coming!

     Fun to come back to work after my time off and find Christmas cards and goodies waiting on my desk. (Like I needed more goodies, ha ha.)

     Blessed by some website progress on Saturday with no hitches at all. The slowest part was actually researching best practices on naming CSS classes (doesn't match VB naming at all) and figuring out where in the style sheet made the most sense to put my code. And the code worked first time, like it was simple, because that's what it was and how it should work!

     While putting away Christmas decorations, I discovered I could fit a string of LED fairy lights (that I'd bought to decorate Schleffie with years back) inside an art glass vase I'd bought at the State Fair. The glass design on the vase begs to have light inside it, and the color changing LEDs make it look amazing. Now I get to enjoy it in my bedroom as a replacement for the Italian Christmas lights I put away.

     On Sunday afternoon, Cindy and I took advantage of the mild January weather to take a walk near her home. It was a treat walking along the Vermillion River at the places where it hadn't frozen over yet, but the highlight was definitely seeing the amazing ice around the falls, pictures can't do it justice!
  • Current Mood
    busy busy

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It has been a grueling 'vacation,' that's for certain. I'm almost relieved I'm back to work on Monday. Because I felt like I spent half the time reenacting Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill, trying to rebuild and build my website with so much opposition, setbacks, challenges, redos, and so forth. Certainly didn't get to most of the stuff I'd planned on, let alone much relaxing or fun, hah! But again, of course there are always blessings:

     I am so glad for God giving me warnings by way of parables before the big setbacks on the 28th and the 30th. That way I wasn't completely blindsided and the warnings brought their own comfort. He sees where this is headed, nor has He told me to stop!

     A nice dinner and evening with the Johnson's the evening of the 30th made for a needed reprieve. Blessed to get to see them.

     At least 2021 got off to a great start. I succeeded with a platelet donation on New Year's morning, and got a free top from the Red Cross, to boot!

     Blessed that the WordPress timeline plug-in I found on Saturday, after another setback that cost me hours of time, was actually better and more flexible than I'd even hoped for.

     Sunday it was sunny, after some icy fog the day prior. Maybe that was why the snow was more sparkly that morning than I have seen it in a long time--just amazing!

     Sunday afternoon I went snowshoeing with Cindy in the regional park. My second time snowshoeing and my first with my own new snowshoes. Couldn't ask for nicer weather in January--30, sunny, little wind, lovely winter views. The walk went great, though the park was busier than I expected; I'd forgotten that in the first week of January everyone is still working on their New Year's health resolutions!
  • Current Mood
    drained drained

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Recent blessings and joys:

     Monday before my walk with Cindy I brought home a new laptop (actually, a 2-in-1), which I named 'Pewter' due to the color and the fun of assonance. It's been plenty of work getting it set up and backed-up files restored, but I am loving the fingerprint reader and the fact it has a webcam better than the one on my work laptop--and with its own built-in cover, too!

     Since I had to go into work last Tuesday, so I drove in and parked there. That worked perfectly for bringing in Christmas gifts to pass out. But also for finally getting a work monitor, keyboard, and mouse for my work-from-home situation, instead of using my spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse, which I now need for Pewter. The new work-from-home monitor is VERY nice compared to my spare one, so I know I will enjoy it!

     Since I was downtown for work, a perfect excuse to drop by the Johnson's afterward to give them their gifts. They weren't expecting me, but they had gifts ready, too. We had a nice time talking and planned on dinner for this week.

     I'd wanted snow for Christmas quite keenly...then found myself grateful I didn't have to drive on Wednesday when a projected light snowfall first turned into a storm, and then actually became a true blizzard by nightfall. It's rare to get an actual blizzard classification in my local area, and wow, what a Christmas gift from God! (Complete with -20 wind chill Thursday morning, ha!)

     So blessed to spend close to six hours at the Towners on Christmas, for a nice relaxed time. Can't forget leftovers, gifts, Jesus' birthday cake, the obligatory 'twistie' jokes, and a nice crackling hot fire on the fireplace. Wonderful.

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It's been a wild ride lately, with Sidekick, my computer I use for internet and was building my website on, dying without warning the evening of December 16th. A massive setback in terms of time, money, and plenty else. But God always provides reasons for gratitude...

     Before that debacle, blessed to come up with a creative 'self portrait comic' idea for my website and get it done. Since it's the wrong time of year for outdoor photos, or hiring a photographer, and 2020 restrictions on top don't help!

     Speaking of 2020, so grateful that the Minnesota governor loosened restrictions just slightly, so I can actually see the Towners for Christmas, yay!

     My third spiritual healing session on December 16 was short, powerful, and amazing. So grateful that God led me to that ministry.

     Last Saturday was great for making homemade granola to share and enjoy. My coworker Nancy gets so excited every time I give her some!

     On my day off Monday, went for a walk with Cindy in the afternoon, to a portion of the regional park I'd found only this year and she had never been to. Worked out great, as it's quite wooded and the weather was very windy--the wind could hardly get through all those trees.
Winter Light

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Recent blessings and joys:

     Took advantage of a forecast near 50 last Wednesday to take a half day off work for using up vacation time. It worked out great to do a Costco run when it's not quite so busy, and go for a walk to some small parks nearby I've never been to. I had fun looking at Christmas decorations too.

     Getting to work from home half the time is even more of a delight now, since I can play Christmas music either on the radio or from my collection of cds for hours on end. Yay!

     Now that I have lights up and my lighted tapestry installed, I've been enjoying looking at them with the Holiday Specs I got a few years back...they were cheap and more than worth what I paid!

     Blessed to get a few Christmas gift ideas in answer to prayer over the past couple weekends. Good thing, too, with just around 10 days left!

     An amazing dream Saturday morning. The Wolf Lord showed up! (A character in six of my novels thus far.) He stood right beside me; I touched his fur and got a clear impression of his size in height and breadth. He had a message from heaven for me--I was shot out of the dream right after he 'spoke.'

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It's not been fun lately, first dreading it might not work, then having to cancel the trip I'd planned out to see family over Christmas. But there is always cause for gratitude:

     Got to have lunch with Dawn at work last Thursday. We took our free lunches and sat at adjacent tables for proper distancing. Gotta cherish those few opportunities to be around a live person (who isn't a stranger on a bus/in a store)...and have fun imagining what my pre-2020 self would think of even writing that sentence!

     My Thanksgiving cactus started blooming two days after Thanksgiving and I am quite enjoying the magenta flowers.

     I got out Saturday for some "shopping therapy" and quite enjoyed browsing through At Home and Hobby Lobby. Blessed to find a wings candleholder I couldn't walk away from, and also more Christmas lights that I used to decorate the window of the guest bedroom. (I LOVE that the At Home Christmas lights are not made in China.)

     My new landlord put wreaths on all the units! I'm sure the novelty will wear off for him after a year or two, but what a delightful surprise!

     Happiness is the goody package from my mom finally making it to my doorstep after unreasonable delays. Homemade yummies and praline pecans, yay!

     Due to the severity of the restrictions, and the fact that December is too cold for outdoor 'picnics' like we did in April and May, the Towners and I did a Zoom meeting in lieu of our monthly dinner. I had a plan all sorted out for the 40 minute length limit, but ended up not needing it, perhaps because the meeting had just two members. It was a great time, nice to "see" them and catch up.
Favorite Things

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Gratitudes on a Thanksgiving unlike any other...

     My first time ever having Thanksgiving home alone, but I still managed to consume plenty of calories. I made honey glazed carrots, mashed sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole to go along with purchased corn bread, vegan roast, cranberry sauce, apple cider from an orchard, and vegan eggnog...oh, brownies too!

     Even in a year like 2020 I have so much to thank God for! Some are 21st century comforts so easily taken for granted, yet likely so amazing to earlier generations. Central heat and air conditioning, space heaters, running water, reliable electricity and internet, well-behaved sanitation. Oh, and Zoom too, so I could see the Towners despite us having to keep separate; share Thanksgiving Bible passages with them and then later with my brother and his family, whom I haven't seen in over a year.

     Then the personal luxuries I enjoy, like my Starfire spheres and fake fireplace for neat lighting effects. (And the mp3 track of fireplace crackling sounds to go with it!) I bought a fire bowl recently too, which is a delightful source of light and heat on long, dark winter evenings.

     Consuming an (over)abundance of calories reminds me to be grateful for my rowing machine and my exercise bike--which passed 11,000 miles of my pedaling this year! I'm grateful as well for my projector, stand, and screen to go with it, for watching dvds/blu-ray or streamed media while I exercise.

     Celebrating my beloved t'DoL's birthday over the past few days has reminded me to be grateful for how many music pieces I've found over the years to remind me of characters, events, or places in my writing. And how many illustrations I've made in the past years, and how delightful it is to do puzzles of them while listening to the aforementioned music.

     This post could go on and on and on! The 'gift' of 2020 has definitely been getting to work from home 50% of the time, and seeing how committed my employer is to the safety and well-being of their employees. So much to thank God for, and that list only ever gets longer!

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It's been a hard week, with a few painful kicks in the teeth regarding two of my three favorite days in the year: Thanksgiving and t'DoL's birthday. But as ever, blessings still abound:

     As part of Fraud Awareness week my employer had a special seminar by a former CIA guy with an amazing resume--testifying in over 2000 cases involving relating to computer crimes. But the presentation itself was so engaging it felt almost like watching a movie! Just a blessing to get to hear from somebody of that caliber.

     The science lover in me had fun geeking out over these amazing images of Mars. If you can cross your eyes to make it 3d, even better!

     I finally had the right Thursday of the month free of meetings and aligned properly in other ways, so that I could get down to the new monthly blood drive that happens in the city in these Covid-19 days, since the drives at my workplace are cancelled. And I succeeded, yay!

     Saturday's weather was wonderful--near 40, sunny, with little wind. Perfect to have Cindy come over and go for a walk. Very, very fun for me, because I finally got to share my favorite neighborhood with somebody, and she enjoyed it too.

     Had fun this evening helping a coworker practice on Zoom. And learned something new too, which is always nice!

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Sundry blessings:

     Did a little research and then bought myself an oil-filled space heater, which I was able to start using last week. It's great because it doesn't make noise (don't need to turn it off for Zoom meetings) and it warms up the kitchen and dining room area pretty well. Well enough that I can keep my thermostat set to 60, like I was not home.

     My teammate kindly let me stay home on Thursday to avoid the snow, since he was onsite for training. That made for three days in a row working from home--I could get spoiled!

     Thanks to that, I also got to very much enjoy five days in a row of not having to drive anywhere (since my church is not meeting for two weeks due to a small Covid-19 outbreak).

     Friday the 13ths are just fun, even if it wasn't a payday Friday.

     Blessed last Monday morning by an idea for my website and grateful that I was able to get it drafted on Saturday. Everything takes longer than I want, but I also have 22 illustrations watermarked and set up, with short excerpts for most of them. Hurrah for progress!