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A collection of gushes

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A bundle of joys:

     Right before getting on the bus, I heard a little bit of cardinal song. Such an amazing assurance of spring in the middle of a snowy February!

     After all the snow recently, and having to work short lunches or stay late at times to make up for late buses, a delight to get to work in good time Thursday and Friday.

     It took them so long I was beginning to think it wouldn't happen and I'd need to do some shoveling myself Saturday, but the city finally cleared the path I take to the bus stop!

     Over a month yet from the equinox, but a delight to have a little sunlight while heading home from work now, and some obvious predawn light in the mornings at the bus stop.

     Wednesday was the big day this week. All Company Meeting. For a few reasons, I watched the livestream with part of my department rather than walking over, so that made for a different experience. The big announcements were some significant changes to the dress code, and then the yearly PSP (bonus) announcement. 6.5%! Better than I was hoping for, and while half goes into the retirement account and the remainder gets majorly taxed, I'm happy to have it!

     (My list keeps growing! 2005 - 8%, 2006 - 9%, 2007 - 8.5%, 2008 - 9.5%, 2009 - 5.5%, 2010 - 5.5%, 2011 - 7.5%, 2012 - 9%, 2013 - 10%, 2014 - 9%, 2015 - 9%, 2016 - 6.5%, 2017 - 4.7%, 2018 - 7.7%)
Emotional Status:
pleased pleased
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Recent gratitudes:

     My old coil-style ice cleats were too tight for my new boots and not good enough for how bad the ice was early last week, so I used a gift card from Christmas to get some really good cleats. They make a huge difference but I can't walk indoors with them lest I put holes in flooring! I'm glad they're easy to take on and off and work so much better on sheet ice.

     I was not happy that, after scheduling my blood donation for Sunday expecting a snow-free day, we got nearly 5 inches instead! But I was able to get over there with a minimum of trouble and get back home before the roads got really bad or busy, and my iron was high enough--success! That made up for not being able to give in January due to being sick.

     Got my fourth Geren book ready and off to my editor Saturday, and she starts on it today. Excitement!

Emotional Status:
excited excited
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Glad for a weekend after so much weather drama!

     After taking nearly 2.5 hours to get home through the snowstorm Tuesday evening, it was nice to savor the gift of Chicago-mix popcorn that Dawn gave me as a thank-you gift.

     I actually startled my boss out of some hiccoughs!

     I wasn't in the mood to put up with more crazy amounts of time commuting through yet another storm Thursday, so my boss kindly gave me permission to work from home that day. It was very interesting to get a feel for the pros and cons, and I quite appreciated the escape from traffic!

     Friday made up for that, as it was -7 or so out, with a wind chill, and my bus didn't show up at all (or very very late). That meant hiking over to the transit station and taking two other buses to get to work an hour late. Thought it would be worse when one of them broke down, but thankfully the driver got some good advice and was able to get it running again in a few minutes. Grateful I wasn't any later, and that my heating pad kept me from becoming badly chilled during all that time, except my feet. And those got taken care of by being planted on the heating pad the rest of the morning. What a week!
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
Reaching My Ears:
'Oh My Soul' by Casting Crowns
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Recent gratitudes:

     I'm grateful for the handicapped bathroom stall on my floor at work when it's time to layer and unlayer in cold, cold weather! Having space and a small bench makes it so much easier.

     Deliciousness is getting to feast on my mom's fantastic homemade spaghetti and meatballs this weekend, that she so kindly made and I brought home frozen from California. Yum yum YUM!

     Enjoyed a different sort of deliciousness as my exercise fodder this weekend. That was thanks to the BBC 1995 Pride and Prejudice being available on Amazon streaming. Saw it all over three fun sessions and put 48 miles on my exercise bike!

     I would rather have it be -20 again than the nerve-wracking challenge I had trying to get to the bus stop this morning. Snow-melt, freezing rain, sleet, some combination thereof made it a gauntlet of wet ice to try to get across. It is a minor miracle I managed the distance without falling. Glad temperatures are dropping--cold ice is better than wet ice!
Emotional Status:
satisfied satisfied
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An interesting week:

     The 'polar vortex' cold snap has been fun. Walking home Tuesday it was -18 out, and I was very grateful for the wind at my back. In the morning Wednesday, it was -28, and I was the only person who got on the bus at a place other than the park and ride! For Wednesday evening it was -15 out heading home, and -26 or so heading in Thursday morning.
     My wonderful boss's boss called a jeans day Wednesday to help us stay warmer. I appreciate that!

     Amazon Prime was a great blessing, as I was able to order clear ski goggles, pay a couple extra bucks for one-day delivery, and have them in time for Wednesday morning. They made a big difference since I didn't have to deal with my eyes getting cold or eyelashes freezing closed.

     Especially grateful for heat in this weather, as some people were without power and my work building ran off generator all day Wednesday. And for my heating pad, since when it's this cold, helps a lot to hang it in a bag under my coat and use it for warmth as I walk to/from the bus stop.

     Finished the winter picture I've been working on since December, so I'm happy to be free to gear up for the next art project.
Emotional Status:
busy busy
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A treat to have a quiet weekend at last!

     A blessing to have mostly clear skies Sunday night a week ago. That meant I could get up right around when totality started, drive to a parking lot, and shoot a picture out the window of the lunar eclipse. Didn't hang around to watch, between it being zero out and having to work the next day, but glad I got to see it.

     I've been enjoying the benefits of Amazon Prime movie streaming and being able to hook up my projector like it's a second monitor.

     It's plain the forecast is a little chilly when my area gets a post on the Weather Underground blog! So far, it's been "only" -6 or -8 some mornings, so it will be interesting to see if this -20 or lower pans out!

     Speaking of cold, I'm glad the Towner's minivan has started for me the past two Sundays so I could drive to church. Also very grateful yet again for my heating pad to keep my hands from freezing stiff as the heat in the minivan doesn't really work.

     Delighted to reach the end of the reading part with pass 6 in my fourth Geren book. That means I only have some final checks and formatting next weekend before I'm ready to send it to my editor! It will be great to have reading time again, it really will...
Emotional Status:
content content
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Recent delights:

     It was a real treat to give my last single page calendar to Carla who does my prayer counseling. More so, as she was just saying how much she needed a 2019 calendar right before I whipped it out. Fun for both of us!

     I am immensely enjoying the load of homemade pear bread my wonderful mother made me. Won't last much longer!

     To my delight, winter has finally stopped being completely pathetic around here. Finally had a little snow Friday, and it got cold enough I could 'squeak' my boots on it as I walked to the garage Saturday morning. Saturday morning was 0 and today it's -4!

     Saturday's quote on my perpetual calendar is one I really like: "The weakest among us has a gift, however seemingly trivial, which is peculiar to him, and which, worthily used, will be a gift also to his race." John Ruskin

     Saturday was fun and food-filled because Cindy and I got together, did shopping at Costco and Trader Joe's, had lunch at Cafe Zupas, and caught up. Got to show her my photos from my trip and see photos of her grandkids.

     Can't forget--Trader Joe's was double the fun with a Christmas gift card to spend!
Emotional Status:
pleased pleased
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Mid-January good stuff:

     Delighted to find out that my boss is using and enjoying the Christmas gift I gave her.

     Happiness is delicious leftovers sent home with me from my mom. Got to have pink beans and fried plantains with dinner on Monday, a tiny taste of Puerto Rico!

     Been making superb progress with pass 6 of my fourth Geren book, so that meant I was able to move forward with setting up a contract with my wonderful editor. Excitement!

     At the beginning of the month, I broke a watch band I'd enjoyed for a few years. So...that was my cue to go back to the Etsy seller and buy four from her this time, and now I have five color options total. I'm so glad for places like Etsy so I can get bands small enough for my scrawny wrists!
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
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Vacation blessings:

     Leaving aside this cold I've been dragging around since Christmas, my time in California was great. Blessed to have smooth travel and no delays on my flights both there and back.

     It was very nice to attend a traditional Christmas Eve service with my mom at a nearby church with gorgeous decorations, pipe organ, traditional carols, and candlelight.

     Christmas afternoon/evening was at my brother and sister-in-law's home, with the ten kids. Lots of noise, food, and gifts. The kids seemed to like them, which was good!

     My California visit contained two small trips within it, and a blessing to have fabulous weather for both of them, with the winter rains coming at other times.

     My mom and I had a wonderful time on our farewell visit to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-sea. We did the Pebble Beach seventeen mile drive for our second time, and really enjoyed the sunset, the bagpiper, and the creme brulee at Roy's in Pebble Beach.

     My mom and I took one niece and one nephew on a short trip to the San Francisco area. Riding the ferry was quite fun; the hotel we stayed at was beautiful, with glass-fronted elevators, indoor garden, and an amazing breakfast; the Exploratorium on the Pier was fantastic.
Tags:
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
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A week of feasting!

     On Tuesday Dawn and I had lunch together an Asian restaurant I'm quickly getting very fond of--I'm glad she introduced me to it!

     Wednesday evening was dinner and giving gifts at the Johnsons, and it was a wonderful time.

     Then on Thursday another evening full of food having a huge potluck with the singles' church group I attend.

     Friday was the yearly party at work and since the food was catered from Brasa, it was my favorite yet. I got to happily pig out on yellow rice with black beans--I have an extra stomach for anything that reminds me of Puerto Rican rice and beans! ;) Handed out gifts as well, and ate lots of leftover cookies from what I'd brought on Thursday.

     Delighted that both Linda and Dawn really liked their gifts.

     Used my last two hours of unallocated time off to leave at 2 on Friday. That meant I was able to attend the 4 pm showing of Aquaman at the IMAX theater. Very glad I did, as the movie was gorgeous and deserved the biggest screen I could find!
Emotional Status:
busy busy
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Recent delights:

     Since I certainly have no space in my one bedroom apartment for a Christmas tree, I decorated Schleffie instead. (my dwarf umbrella tree/schefflera arboricola) He's even more decked out than last year, with lights, ornaments, and garland--quite the gaudy display, and funnier with the three sets of flowers growing quickly as well. Oh yes--I wrapped a red towel around the bottom of his pot like a tree skirt. I can only wonder what he makes of all the action!

     I finished pass 5 with my fourth Geren novel editing last week and I'm getting it ready for pass 6, which I look forward to diving into after my vacation over Christmas and New Year's.

     The weather this weekend was sunny and 40s--really nice. So I took the opportunity to walk to church Sunday since the construction blocking me from crossing the river is finally done. It was a great way to get some exercise and fresh air at the same time!

     Thanks to great reviews and my movie theater gift card, I treated myself to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Fun and very creative...I think a few of my nephews might enjoy that one... ;)
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
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The good stuff:

     Very grateful as ever for the loan of the Towners second minivan. Thanks to that, I could run errands to places like Penzey's Spices and Hobby Lobby, not to mention the blessing of having wheels to get to church and food shopping!

     Also grateful yet again for my old microwavable heating pad that I've used over many years. The heat in the minivan barely works, so the heating pad keeps my hands from freezing stiff!

     One of my big regrets is losing the original file for my 'bookmark' image I made of Geren & t'DoL well over a decade ago. Since CafePress has part of the image in my account, I've at least been able to order a steady string of mousepads over the years. But this month I decided to order a poster just to see how it would come out, and I'm quite pleased with the result.

     I got the 'D' elevator four times on Monday!

     Tuesday evening was wonderful. Got together with the Towners and we went out to eat. It was so great to see Mary free of the wound-vac, find out the home health care nurses were no longer needed, and that she's free to get out of the house and even drive a little. Hurrah, thank you, God!
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
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So happy for a payday Friday!

     Just finished up my mom's wonderful pumpkin bread, which I've been quite enjoying this week. Delicious!

     I've been having loads of fun lately with a song I found on the radio that strangely reminds me of Geren book 5.

     My illustration for my 2019 single page calendar is finally done and the order place, whew! I'm grateful as well for the feedback I got from Dawn and my boss at different stages. It's helpful to have that confirmation when trying to chose subject size ratio and lighting options!

     Been having a blast rereading the Harry Potter series on bus rides and lunch breaks lately. Apparently I haven't read them since 2009, so I quite enjoyed devouring the first four and I'm looking forward into getting through more before Christmas. Very nice to have a reprieve from editing for a little while!
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Emotional Status:
pleased pleased
Reaching My Ears:
'Wherever I Go' by Dan Bremmes
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Counting my blessings:

     At the risk of jinxing myself, made it to December without getting sick, which I appreciate. My poor boss was sick for weeks, between one thing and another.

     It's been fun getting a steady stream of stuff delivered lately, thanks in large part to Christmas shopping (and some good sales!).

     Got myself an electric duster largely funded by credit card points. While a bit loud, it was fun how great it was for cleaning out inside a computer and getting rid of dust on highly textured lamp bases and my big wolf statue.

     As ever, plenty of setbacks and hold-ups, but happy to finally be down to the final stages with my illustration for my 2019 single-page calendar. Very grateful for Walmart same-day printing and the minivan to go pick them up as a way to do trial runs. Hopefully I can place the order by the end of the week!

     A treat Tuesday when my boss spotted one of my 'Relentless' wallpaper images and really liked it!

     An even bigger treat at the end of the day when the news came out that Mary is finally free of the wound-vac she's been largely tethered to for months. Praise God!
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
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Recent joys:

     I had two meals worth of delicious Thanksgiving feast leftovers, over the weekend, including pie. YUM!

     Last winter my dwarf umbrella tree "Schleffie" had its first flower stalk. Recently I discovered that it has three coming for this winter.

     A neat sunset on the way home from work--an orange sun pillar (pillar of light) rising above the setting sun and the under-lit clouds. Quite striking and it's been a long time since I've seen one so dramatic!

     Got some warm wool leg-warmers made in Canada from Etsy and got to try them out today--they work great!

     Got to do something wonderful on my lunch break today.
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
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High points in a memorable week:

     My boss got me three balloons for my 20th service anniversary October 16. To my great delight, they are still floating over a month later--they made it to t'DoL's birthday and beyond!

     Got a big surprise and blessing in the mail Monday that was an answer to something I've been praying about for months.

     On t'DoL's birthday Tuesday, took a half day off, treated myself to lunch at Afro Deli so I could get some fried sweet plantains, and divided the extra time between exercise, art, and fun with puzzles and a new cd. Oh yes, and read 'Happy Birthday' of course!

     So it was a day late since UPS can't seem to figure out how to leave packages in the package room at my apartment, but... Got my Relentless 25th anniversary commemorative image printed on metal almost in time to celebrate 25.75 years and t'DoL's birthday. Looking forward to hanging it up!

     Thanksgiving was wonderful. It was at the Towners as ever, but this year Aaron and Deb did all the cooking and they excelled! The biggest feast we've ever had yet! Mercer is now old enough to run and bounce and could probably power half a county with his crazy energy level. It was great to have the second annual conference call for Thanksgiving Bible verses with around 15 participants. Can't forget the eight varieties of pie I was too stuffed to appropriately enjoy, or the loads of leftovers to feed me this weekend! A great day, and so much to be thankful for.
Emotional Status:
pleased pleased
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Another weekend gone too fast...

     t'DoL's birthday is coming up fast, so I decided to kick off the festivities by treating myself out to Freshii for lunch. That was delicious, and I wasn't hungry that evening for quite a while, which was great for taking time to exercise.

     More goodies on Saturday, in the form of a wonderful package from my parents, containing (among other items) some of my mom's fabulous apple bread, shortbread cookies, and pumpkin bread! I am so blessed to have such a talented and generous mom! =D

     Glad to be back on the bandwagon with art progress and Geren book 4 pass 5 after a very frustrating and over-busy work week in which it felt I got nothing done. Oh yes, and exercise too! It was great to watch the Collector's Edition of Close Encounters as I haven't seen that movie in quite a while.

     Got it down to 59 inside by Saturday morning and 57 inside by Sunday morning, which made for some of the best sleep I've enjoyed in a while. t-shirt and shorts don't cut it at those temps--I need socks too!

     Speaking of enjoying movies, that's what I did Sunday afternoon. Got out to see the second Fantastic Beasts movie, using the gift card I received with part of my 20th service anniversary reward. Not only that, but I had enough points on my membership card for a free small popcorn. So upgraded to large for $2 plus tax and had a fun cheap afternoon!

     In two days--t'DoL's birthday! Two days after--Thanksgiving!
Emotional Status:
excited excited
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Recent delights:
     My iron was (barely) high enough and I succeeded with a blood donation Sunday after church. It was at a different location that's closer to home and good to keep in mind for the future. Glad I could squeeze it in on the weekend so I'm eligible to give again when the blood drive takes place at work in January.

     A couple weeks back I got some lovely fingerless gloves on Etsy so I'd have a pair for work as well as for home. The older I get, the worse my circulation in hands and feet. Very glad I bought them, as it's been a help lately when my hands get cold in the mornings.

     So, usually I try to avoid getting out the winter coat until December, and some years I don't really need it until January. But not this year. It got down to 7 this morning, so on with the winter coat and the thermal undies! I'm curious how many record lows my area has cranked out in the past week...

     Thanks to pass 5 of my fourth Geren book being done at home, I have time for reading on the bus rides again. It's taken a few weeks, but I've finally gotten sufficiently caught up with magazines and quarterly stuff...so time for FUN reading at LAST!

     Took a while to get around to it, but I finally finished edits on 'The Lark and the Lion' and got it ready for readers. Now to finish the calendar illustration...
Emotional Status:
cold cold
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I think my area skipped November and headed straight to December. So I have lots of gratitude for the minivan this past week!

     Nice to drive to the polls after work Tuesday and not deal with walking there through snow and ice and very cold wind. Also grateful to have it for shopping Saturday morning, as it was a record-shattering 11 degrees out!

     On Thursday my employer had their first benefits and community fair. Lots of freebies I'll actually get to use: travel-sized toothpaste and a new toothbrush, a pen, a cookie, and two cloth bags I'm very glad to have for shopping, since one of my old ones is falling apart.

     A really nice evening at the Towners on Friday, enjoying dinner from the local Mexican restaurant, along with flan. Pat and Greg came too, and it was a wonderful time.

     A treat in the mail: after three-plus weeks of waiting, got the gift cards I'd picked out for my 20th service anniversary. Now I'm anticipating the fun of USING them!
Emotional Status:
excited excited
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Recent delights:

     Picked up some pumpkin bread at Kowalski's early last week and I've been greatly enjoying it with the homemade applesauce I made. It will vanish fast!

     I couldn't make much progress on pass 5 work for Geren book 4 Wednesday and Thursday, which about drove me up a wall, but I more than made up for it Friday and Saturday. Now I'm nicely ahead of quota and up to scenes where I don't mind stopping.

     A gloomy, chilly, wet November weekend is great for cooking. Black bean soup on Saturday, and homemade granola on Sunday. Now I get to ENJOY it!

     Also glad for some good art progress over the weekend--it fits well with running back and forth to the oven when cooking granola!
Emotional Status:
busy busy
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