Just time for a quick post today. I thought I should summarize how I’ve done at NaBloPoMo.
I technically did not meet the letter of the event rule – there was one day that I did not manage to post, as I tried to upload a photo from my phone and was unable to do so by midnight. I gave up for that night and finished the post in the morning.
I did manage to post 30 times in 30 days, which to my mind meets the spirit of the month. Als, going for this goal got me to post about a bunch of stuff that I had neglected. So, there you go.
Expect a few posts in December, but certainly not one each day.
As I mentioned briefly in my first post this month, I went to Las Vegas for a convention for work (the same conference I went to in 2011). The trip out there was uneventful, and I made it to the hotel fine.
The hotel I and my co-workers were staying in this time was the Luxor. Yes, it’s the big, black pyramid:
At night it has that huge beacon shining up toward space from the apex. In a city that’s well known for its light pollution, this place may be the worst offender.
Some statuary out front (click any picture to enlarge):
Similar features are found on the interior:
Looking up at the apex from the ground level:
I ended up with a room on the 26th floor (there are about 30 floors total). Getting up there was kind of neat, as the elevators in the place travel diagonally in the 4 edges of the building (you can’t see outside the elevator while you’re in it, but you can feel that the movement is partly horizontal). On each floor, there are walkways which are open to look down, with the rooms all on the exterior of the structure. Here’s the view across the interior from outside my room door:
And looking down:
Here’s the room itself:
There were heiroglyphs on the bureau (not sure whether they’re real ancient Egyptian letters):
The hand soap in the bathroom was also part of the theme:
You can see by the angle of the window that the room is on the side of a pyramid:
Here’s the view, looking northward at the Excalibur:
Looking slightly to either side are the Luxor’s adjacent towers, which hold more guest rooms:
Here is the view at night:
It was a comfy room, and the Internet connection worked well, though I was a bit surprised that the rooms only offer wired Internet. Wireless is only available in the public areas on the lower floors. At least they provided an ethernet cable on the desk, given that I had not brought one.
In mid-October, a new hiking trail on newly conserved land was opened here in Hadley. The Trustees of Reservations, a private non-profit, purchased the property to protect it from development, and are now making it available for the public to enjoy. Mount Warner (a reasonably-sized hill in the north part of Hadley) is the location of this new reservation.
I attended the formal opening ceremony that weekend to check out the new place. I arrived a bit early, and there were already many people there (click pics for larger versions):
And there were tents set up with information displays on the history of that area of town, and on the Trustees and their other properties (a couple of which I’ve been to, such as the Chesterfield Gorge):
Some various remarks were made about the acquisition of the land and preparation of the trail:
They fortunately had setup a PA system for this, as the crowd was easily up to 60 or 70 people by the time things got started.
They had a ribbon cutting with the obligatory giant pair of scissors, and all children in attendance were invited to take part (along with State Rep. John Scibek and State Senator Stan Rosenberg):
After the cutting, there were a couple of guided tours offered of the trail. I started out following a tour group that included a Trustees naturalist talking about various flora along the way, but as I didn’t have a lot of time, I ended up moving ahead of the group to hike the entire trail on my own. The trail is a loop that’s a bit over 2 miles long, so I had just enough time to cover the distance before I needed to get going on other errands.
At the apex of the loop, there was a side trail that led to a lookout point. Mt. Warner is a very gradual hill, unlike many other large hills in the area, so one looks across a field to the view, but it’s still a pretty nice view:
That view looks north, including some of the Connecticut River and, in the distance, Mt. Sugarloaf.
The trail did involve some climbing, and so was a good workout, but overall I did not find it as interesting as the trails on the Holyoke Range (around the border between Hadley and South Hadley). It was nice to visit once, but I don’t know that I’ll head to Mt. Warner to hike again.
So our power was out last night, through most of the night, but it came back on just before 6:00am and stayed on. This was fortunate, as there was a lot of cooking planned for today.
The snow on the trees did look pretty in the sunlight this morning (click to enlarge):
It appeared that we got a total of 6 or 7 inches over the storm.
We did another shoveling of the driveway (which went quickly with the help of our houseguests), and knocked snow off the branches of a lot of trees and bushes that were being weighed down.
Our Thanksgiving meal once again had a bunch of local ingredients. I did not take pictures today, but here’s a rundown of dishes we had and where various foodstuffs came from:
- Chestnut bread stuffing: contained leeks from the Hampshire College farm center (about a mile from the house), chestnuts from our trees, and sage, thyme, and rosemary from our garden.
- Mashed potatoes and celery root: the celery root was also from the HC farm center (they have a fall CSA that we buy a share in every year), and there were also chives from our garden in this dish.
- Baked sweet potatoes: these are from the HC CSA.
- Popovers: eggs and milk from specific area farms went into these.
- Boiled beets: HC CSA
- Steamed broccoli: HC CSA
- Sautéed kale: HC CSA
- Apple pie: made with Cortland apples from Atkins Farm, which is also about a mile from our house.
We also had a bit of a few different vegetables that we’ve pickled recently (turnips, eggplant, daikon – all from HC). More on that activity will probably come in a future post.
We’ve had a bit of a snowstorm come through today – the first snow to stick this season. Here’s how things looked when we were starting to shovel:
Things were otherwise fine until I was defrosting some soup for dinner (to feed us and guests who were about to arrive to stay a few days), and then the power went out. It ended up being off for 2.5 hours. The fortunate thing is that we have a wood burning stove, and I was able to finish heating dinner on it.
We we were worried about cooking Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, until the power came back on just after 8:30. Then things seemed fine.
However, the power went out again around 10:30 or so, and is still out as of this writing (I’m posting this from my phone). Here’s hoping it’s back on by morning.
So I posted a few weeks back about the 2 flowers that bloomed this year on our night-blooming sirius plant. It seems that it had not finished at that time with producing flowers. While I was vacationing abroad in September, 6 more flowers began to grow on the same plant! Now, none of those got to be the usual size at which the flowers bloom, and in fact none of them opened. They ended up withering and falling off.
However, that still was not all for this year. At least a month ago we brought the plants inside as the weather was getting colder. That plant started growing a couple more flowers. We still did not end up with a full bloom, but they got pretty big this time, and one almost opened.
This is the most developed that one got:
The other seemed to start blooming, but did not get past this stage:
I don’t know if the fact that it was hanging in the air made a difference (all the blooms we’ve had were resting on the porch surface).
I expect that there really won’t be any more flowers this year, but who knows?
As I seem to do just about once a year, I went for a bike ride last Memorial Day weekend that included riding through the Quabbin Reservoir reservation.
What I have not done every time is ride up the long hill to the observation tower there, but I did so this time.
Here are views west and north from the tower (click each image to enlarge):
From there I continued riding east on Route 9, through the town of Ware and just a little ways into the town of West Brookfield (which I had not been in before). At that point I needed to turn around for time and energy reasons (I needed to save some strength for climbing the hills on the way home), and I just passed through a bit of the Quabbin park on the way back (one can pass over Winsor Dam without having to go through the hilly parts of the reservation).
Another post involving pictures from this past spring – this time from early May. Around that time, a few bird nests got built on and around our front porch.
There were some finches who initially were determined to build a nest inside a light fixture on the porch, but every time they tried to bring twigs and stuff inside, the materials would just fall out the bottom. We ended up hanging a small basket from the light, and eventually they successfully built a nest in the basket.
Here are the eggs that were laid, which were a pale green color:
Eventually we saw 3 baby birds that had hatched and who eventually left the nest.
In a couple of bushes by the porch, robins nested and laid eggs. Here is one of the robin nests:
Some of the ones in this nest were successfully hatched and raised, though I don’t recall how many. Unfortunately, the other nest, which was in the holly bush, ended up being abandoned with a few eggs in it.
In this case the still life was the bird. Back in the late spring, I looked out on the deck one day and saw a mourning dove just hanging out. It was, in fact, a juvenile dove (you can tell it’s not a full adult because it’s all gray, and not the slightly brown color of adult doves).
It just sat there while I took its picture through the glass door, and for quite a while afterward. Nothing better to do, I guess.
After flying from Heathrow to Keflavik, Iceland, I prepared for an overnight stay in the terminal, as my next flight was at 10:30am. I sat down near a power outlet with my laptop, but though I could get my laptop on the airport wi-fi, I could not connect to the Internet. For some reason, it would not pop up the little “login, accept our terms” page, and without completing that I think it would not let me through. So I had to content myself with connecting on my phone (fine for e-mail, not so much for web browsing).
After a little while, an airport worker came by and informed me, and the couple of other people sitting nearby, that we could not be in that section of the terminal overnight. We would have to go up to the main level for the night. This involved going through passport control, which seemed odd to do given that I would not be leaving the airport. Doing so was complicated, though, by the fact that passport control was already shut down for the night when we got up there, so we could not go through. Another trip or two back downstairs was made before we were finally told that someone was on their way to open up a booth and scan our passports to let us through. In total we waited around for more than 30 minutes.
Finally in the main portion of the terminal, I made a another attempt at the wi-fi with the laptop, then gave up and lay down on gate area seating to try and get some sleep. Though not very comfortable, I did manage to sleep – about 4 hours or so. By that time some of the food places were opening, so I went to get some breakfast.
I got some bland eggs, toast, and potatoes around 6:30am, and then shortly after 7:00, passport control and the downstairs section opened again. I was able to go down and find my departure gate, where I sat and read for a while (still couldn’t get my computer online). The flight was my longest of the whole trip, 5.5 hours, and I spent a bunch of time watching The Sound of Music, which I had never gotten around to seeing before. (It seems kind of like 2 different films trying to be one story)
We got into Boston shortly after noon, and getting through customs was not too bad (it was no hassle, but did involve somewhat of a wait). Some bus and car rides later I was home, in time for dinner, and with one more day off from work to recover from any jet lag.
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