Ho ho ho!
I'm up before dawn and caught the Star of the East just as dawn started rising over Lake Michigan. Sorry for the blurred image, I'm not very good with this camera even after years and years but I think it's pretty cool. I also took a quick photo of my Christmas tree lit up in my front window about 6:45 a.m. I did not have a clear idea until this morning what it looks like from the outside!
This is looking off my side stoop that opens to my driveway, toward the southeast. The glow of dawn can be seen roughly at the roofline of the garage and the Star of the East can be seen near the top of the tree's branches just to the center right of the photo. [Note added later: I thought it could be Venus, but I checked a sky map for the month of December and it is probably Jupiter - or a comet that is right now at about 30 degrees angle in the south/southeast sky. Holy Hathor!]
Thar she glows... It looks massive, but it's an artificial 6.5 footer and not super-wide.
It was a beautiful, perfectly still morning, and not cold at all, probably in the mid-40's. This entire month has been unusually mild, perhaps due to the El Nino. We have had a lot of rain - thank goodness it wasn't snow, we would be buried under 20 feet of it!
Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates; Happy Yule and Happy Winter Solstice to those who celebrate those traditions. I totally missed Solstice this year, but it came and went and now the days are starting to get longer again, hooray! The tree will be up until the end of January, when it will be noticeably lighter earlier in the morning and in the evening. The lighted decorations all around the house and candles at night help keep the darkness at bay. I am a creature of the light.
April 6, 2019:
The income taxes are finished and were taken to the Post Office yesterday to send out via certified mail, which now costs nearly $16 for two 8 1/2 11 envelopes with return receipt. Yikes! But worth it because I have proof positive once I get the little green cards back that the returns were delivered and received. And just in case, there are tracking numbers that I can also tap the U.S. Post Office for to verify that delivery was made. In these times, it's better to be safe than sorry
I have been working in little bits and pieces outdoors whenever a window in our crappy weather has presented itself. Today, however, was the first day where I was able to spend an extended period of time outside. First, I cleaned up areas on the sidewalk and driveway along the edges where pine cones and branches tiny branches blown off during the seemingly wind storms we endured over fall and winter 2018-2019. After resting for a bit, and removing the winter hat, gloves and jacket, I moved to the back yard because I'm sick of feeling sick to my stomach every time I look at it through the patio doors in the dining room and window above the kitchen sink. This winter left it a true disaster zone. I worked steadily raking small areas and filled two trash can size black trash bags full of debris blown down from my arborvitaes and neighboring trees over the winter, in addition to about half a ton of nut shells. The nut shells are my fault because I feed all the neighborhood squirrels. They are so entertaining, and very smart! I also made a small dent in starting clean-up of the flower beds, where the "mild" (ahem) weather and thawed earth has encourages perennials to start popping through, whether I'm ready for them or not!
All in all, a somewhat decent start to making a larger dent in clean-up operations. I worked outdoors about 4 hours off and on. I didn't want to overdo it, and truth be told, I'm pooped! It's humbling to not be able to work as long or as hard as I used to. I can get it done, but I have to take lots of rest breaks so it takes quite a bit longer now. Good thing I'm retired