anecdotes, chores, Germany, weather, Wiesbaden

All the trees are down…

and the sky is… actually sunny right now. For once, it’s not cloudy and gray outside, but I fear that will change in a few hours, when it starts snowing again.

We had snow in the wee hours of the morning, and sadly, the other crepe myrtle in our backyard was a casualty. Bill and I slept in, enjoying the ability to snooze through the dark hours of the morning. I got up to let Noyzi out, and beheld this sight…

We had two myrtle trees in our backyard. One of them mysteriously died a couple of years ago and we basically cut it down ourselves. The other held on for a bit longer, but was looking somewhat peaked this year. I noticed it wasn’t handling the very light snow very well. We’ve also had lots of rain lately, so the ground is very soggy and messy. I guess the snow that fell early this morning was too much for it. Bill was up at about 3am, letting the dogs out for a nocturnal whiz. He said it was really coming down then. But now it’s already melting, as the temperature isn’t very cold.

When I broke the news to Bill about the tree, he was feeling a bit traumatized and full of dread, given our harrowing experiences dealing with the landlady in our last house. But he went out and shoveled the common area, and when the landlord eventually made an appearance, he told him about the tree. The landlord said, “Okay, I’ll come take a look at it later.” Then he drove off in his car to go pick up a new battery.

I set about taking down the two Christmas trees. I’d actually kind of been looking forward to taking them down… The smaller tree had a dead string of lights on it that gave me the excuse to get rid of the other strands like it, which for some reason had about 30 feet of wire for about ten feet of actual lights, and huge boxy plugs that made it hard to plug them into a power strip. I don’t know why they were like that, but boy, were they annoying. But they did last eight Christmases, so I guess that’s pretty good.

I do like looking at the lights… and I will miss their colorful, homey glow in the living room, which is not very highly furnished. But once January comes around, it becomes necessary to dispense with the holiday decor. Oh… I guess I could just leave it up… I did have a friend whose dad left up the beautiful Christmas tree her late mother had put up many years ago. It was actually very pretty, even though it was a holiday relic that had been turned into art.

My friend was an artist herself, and is now a psychology professor at the University of South Carolina, which is where I attended graduate school. I met her in the early 90s when we both worked at a church summer camp in Virginia. She had New Year’s party one year in her hometown of Grottoes, Virginia, for all of us camp folks. That’s how I got to see her mom’s tree… and the beautiful farm her dad owned. I remember it snowed then, too, and we went sledding! Later, we played “Spin the Bottle”, which was weird. But it was also fun! Sometimes, I miss being young.

The landlord just rang the doorbell and he and Bill went out back. He took one look at the tree and said, “Maybe it’s too old. Does it bother you now?”

Bill said it didn’t, but he just wanted to let the landlord know.

The landlord said, “Okay, we’ll just leave it for now, and then when the whether dries up a bit, we’ll remove it and maybe get a gardener to come in and plant something else.”

This probably means Bill will have to re-lay the boundary for the lawnmower robot again. But maybe we’ll get a fruit tree or something.

Wow… the difference between landlord/landlady responses to falling things due to acts of God is astounding. Bill is relieved that went so smoothly. So am I. I don’t know that crepe myrtles were the best idea for that spot in the yard, anyway. The fence that separates our yard from our neighbor’s is overgrown with ivy in the summer. That probably had a lot to do with why the trees died.

Anyway… now we have a reason to plant a real garden, if we can keep Noyzi out of it. I will miss the shade in the summer, though… and the privacy. It’s sad when trees collapse. Rest in peace, crepe myrtle. I’m sure our dearly departed Zane will be happy to lift his leg on you once again, up there over the Rainbow Bridge.

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Croatia, weather

Chasing lakes and waterfalls in Aus-cro-slo-aus… part six

Saturday, October 30, was the big day. It was also really cold and foggy that morning. Bill had purchased our tickets for the Plitvice Lakes National Park for 10:00am. We were allowed to enter the park only from 10:00 am until 11:00am. I think this system is to prevent huge crowds of people showing up at the same time. It’s probably better for the natural environment and everyone’s enjoyment if the crowds are staggered. Of course, COVID-19 also makes the crowd staggering important, as it prevents too many people mingling and creating a superspreader event.

The park’s Web site recommended dressing in layers. I was cold enough that I took that advice. I wore heavy wool socks, a hoodie jacket, and my big Irish wool coatigan (basically, a long cardigan that zips and stretches enough to cover my beer gut). After breakfast, we made our way to the park. I was a bit afraid that it would be foggy there, as it was at the house. But as we entered town, the fog lifted, and we had glorious sunshine. It was going to be a great day for a walk through the sixteen named lakes, several unnamed lakes, and waterfalls that make up Plitvice Lakes.

I took so many pictures over the six hours we were at the park. Bill and I ended up walking almost the entire park. We did Route C, which is the third longest. If we had done Route K, we would have been there until nightfall and I would have probably needed an intravenous line. As it was, I was exhausted by the end of our day, but I will never forget the incredible beauty of the lakes and falls, even if the crowds got a little bit annoying. Brace yourself for lots of photos!

After about a half hour of walking, I knew that I was going to get too hot before long. I had been cold at the beginning of the day… but walking makes body heat. Plus, the sun was out in full force. We were very lucky, weather wise. I also got some videos of the waterfalls, which I will eventually turn into a YouTube video. Maybe I’ll get to it today. Maybe not.

Edited to add… here’s the video!

Phew… this was a trial to make on many levels!

As we were walking, jaws dropping at each new sight and the huge panorama of so many brilliant colors, I couldn’t help but realize that summer and late spring are probably madness at this park! But I’ll bet it’s so beautiful, too, since everything’s blooming and green. I’m sure this park is beautiful no matter what time of year it is. I think they do close part of it in the winter, though, which is smart, since there are a lot of slippery areas and the paths don’t usually have guardrails. I wonder how many people have fallen into the lakes, even though swimming there has been forbidden since 2006.

It was at about this time that we found ourselves at one of the several rest stations. This was where toilets, souvenirs, and food were, as well as the boats to the other side of the park. I was ready for a rest, so we went into the restaurant, where sandwiches and french fries were available, as well as a dizzying and surprising array of drinks, many of which contained alcohol. We stuck with good old Croatian beer. It’s important to know that cash is not accepted at the park, so bring your credit card if you visit. Also, don’t buy anything at the souvenir shop if you’re just getting started, because you’ll have to cart it with you… I didn’t learn this the hard way, thank God.

I was already getting tired after the boat ride, which was one way and committed us to walk the rest of the park. Luckily, the sheer beauty of the park and the prospect of being stuck there if I collapsed kept me going. And they were some beautiful sights, even though I don’t walk as fast as I used to. Below is the last batch of photos from Saturday’s walk, which took about six hours and was over seven miles… Not bad for a fatass housewife, huh?

We caught the shuttle at the end. I was grateful I didn’t take the mysterious staircase that would have taken us on another two hour segment. Maybe I could have done it, but I was really exhausted at the end of the day. We got on the shuttle with other masked people… again, probably the only place I saw people in Croatia properly masking. I was pretty irritable, because I was hungry and very tired. But there were many people on the shuttle who had lots of energy… and they were speaking in so many different languages. We heard English, Spanish, Italian, Croatian, and God knows what else… and Bill and I were both reminded of a particularly obnoxious bus ride in Puerto Rico we experienced when we took our first SeaDream cruise and there was a crew of obnoxious Brazilians aboard who were driving the bartenders crazy by staying up all night and getting wasted. We were going to the Bioluminescent Lake in Vieques, which was really beautiful, but I was tired and hungry, and the seat we were sitting on was busted.

Well… the ride in Croatia wasn’t that bad. At least the seat on the bus wasn’t broken, like it was on the bus ride in Vieques, Puerto Rico. But I was definitely running out of juice, and patience, and my muscles were stiffening by the second… By the time we got off at the last bus stop, we had to walk another mile or so out of the park and to the parking lot. I had, by that time, shed my layers and was carrying my sweater and my hoodie.

Despite being exhausted and crabby at the end of our day, I am really glad we visited and walked so much. I’m glad I can still do it. And I’m glad I don’t have to do it again.

Stay tuned for part seven.

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dogs, Germany, live music, weather

A few spring photos…

I took these this morning on our walk… A male mallard was enjoying the creek that runs through Breckenheim. He was a little shy, and I was juggling Arran and Noyzi, so please forgive the lack of artistic merit in these!

I also managed to catch a rather epic play session between Arran and Noyzi. Arran still growls at him a lot, but I think they’ve developed a wary respect for each other. Nice to see them playing, anyway. It’s especially nice to see Arran playing, since he’s officially an old man with the rancid farts to prove it.

I love running into water fowl. I especially like ducks a lot, and we see them very occasionally here in our village. I like creeks, too. The one in Breckenheim is often polluted, though, which is a real shame. I guess it just goes to show you that even rule abiding Germans can be disrespectful to Earth when no one is looking.

Could they be bonding at last?

And last but not least, I made a new video for my YouTube channel. I haven’t shared it anywhere else, because it seems like a pointless exercise… but I think it turned out okay.

I woke up yesterday and felt like trying this… it was a mood booster. I needed one, because I was not in a great mood over the weekend.

My vaccination site is officially back to normal. There’s no more pain, itching, or swelling, and the redness is minimal. I don’t look forward to feeling yucky when I get the second shot, but maybe it will turn out okay. Either way, the first shot wasn’t a problem. Glad to have it behind me, especially now that Germany is officially relaxing the rules for vaccinated people and those who have recovered from COVID-19. I’m ready to reclaim some of my life.

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coronavirus, weather

It’s May… and so far, it might as well be March.

Here’s a quick post to update the travel blog. Right now, things are still pretty much locked down in Germany. Our local Rewe has a new policy to limit people in the store to 40 at a time. They enforce this by only putting out forty shopping carts. Since shoppers have to use a cart to purchase anything, that’s supposedly how they’re going to keep the number of patrons low.

I’m scheduled to get my first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine tomorrow. It’s supposed to be the Moderna shot, which means that in 28 days, I have to go back and get the other one. Bill gets his second shot the day before the Memorial Day weekend starts. Ordinarily, we would be going somewhere fun for Memorial Day weekend, but I suspect he’ll be on his back, recovering.

There’s still a lot of news about Europe reopening to vaccinated travelers, or those who can show a negative PCR test. I still think it’s crazy for people to want to visit Europe right now, since so few locals have been vaccinated. I don’t know how they’re going to make a visit here worthwhile. Will museums, shops, and restaurants be open? Maybe, if the infection numbers decrease… but people will probably have to make appointments and wear masks. I know a lot of people don’t mind wearing a mask, but personally, I hate them. I find them uncomfortable and inconvenient, and seeing a bunch of people walking around in them gives me the creeps. Sorry… I know that’s not the politically correct attitude to have, but it’s how I feel. As long as I comply with the rules, I think I should be able to state out loud that I think the rules suck and I hope they change at some point.

Anyway… it’ll be interesting to see what summer brings for us. I look forward to getting the vaccine, although I hope it doesn’t make me feel too icky. After I get my shot, Bill will be off to Bavaria again for about 17 days, like he did in March. Once again, it will suck for me, but at least the weather might be better. Or will it?

Today is May 4th. We’re well into springtime. But it’s cold and rainy outside, and as of about 9:00am, it’s a nice toasty 53 degrees. I think after I’m done blogging, I might just go back to bed and finish my latest book so I can review it and move on to the next one. Today is a good day for reading… and maybe making homemade soup!

Seriously… I would love to be traveling right now, but I miss it the way it was a couple of years ago. Right now, things are still just too weird. But I’m going to do my part and get the shots. I’ve got no problem with it. And hopefully, the weather will improve and maybe I’ll want to go sit in the garden… or walk the dogs… or daydream about our next adventure. I really feel glad that we were here for a few years before COVID-19 struck. I feel sorry for people who moved to Germany as the virus was hitting us. I remember it took us months to travel when Bill and I lived in Germany the first time. I later kicked myself for not getting out more, and made a point of seeing Europe when we moved back. Now, I’m back to sitting on my ass.

Ah well… hopefully, more people will get their shots and we can have some fun again soon. I would settle for a trip to the Kaiser-Friedrich Theme, our local mineraltherme (nude), so I can get some relief for my aching joints.

Today’s featured photo is of something I hope to see again soon… road signs!

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coronavirus, weather

Weird June weather…

I thought maybe we’d go out yesterday. The weather has been nice lately, and it’s been awhile since I last had a proper outing. But then the sky opened up with rain, so we decided to stay in…

It’s sad when a Saturday is messed up by rain, but we do actually need the rain to fall. It’s been pretty dry lately. Our rain barrel was so depleted that I put in a few buckets of water from our tap. We use the rain barrel water for the plants Bill is trying to nurture into bearing fruits and vegetables, since there isn’t a spigot in the back yard (but there is one in the garage).

Bill went to the store yesterday to pick up a few things. He says the plexiglass barriers remain, but the cashiers aren’t wearing masks anymore, nor is there anyone “standing guard” to enforce wearing them among shoppers. We also got our tickets to FINALLY see Keb’ Mo’, who is scheduled to visit Germany again in November. He’s doing a show on our anniversary. I’ve been wanting to see him for ages. Hopefully, this will go on as planned and we’ll have our chance. We’ll see. At least Mainz is close to home for now.

Our landlord says he’s going to send in his work crew to check out a piece of siding that came off during a windstorm last year. He asked Bill about our plans, especially since Trump is making noises about reducing the number of troops in Germany. As far as we know, we will be here for at least another year and probably longer. On the other hand, one never knows about these things. Personally, I think Trump is full of hot air, especially right now. Our landlord also worries that we’ll leave Germany for Poland, since Trump has been building up our relations there and there had been talk of a “Fort Trump” (God help us). When we visited Poland a few months ago for Bill’s work, the landlord wondered if it was to house hunt (it wasn’t).

Honestly, I don’t know if a move to Poland would ever happen. I guess I wouldn’t be opposed to moving to Poland if it ever came down to it. Poland has been steadily improving since our first visit in 2008, and I have heard that Americans are moving there to work. But we did reassure the landlord that we like Germany very much and don’t want to move unless we have to. We didn’t want to leave Stuttgart, either, but that turned out to be a the best thing that could have happened, if only because it got us out of an abusive living situation. Our current landlord is a much better fit for us, treats us with respect, and leaves us in peace.

I’ve been reading a lot about the new rules regarding flying. To be honest, as much as I hated flying before COVID-19, I think I’ll hate it even more now. I am not on the mask wearing bandwagon. I know a lot of people think they are helpful, and wearing them is the considerate thing to do, but to be very honest, I think their effectiveness is limited, especially since many people don’t even wash their hands when they use the bathroom. I do know how masks are supposed to work, in theory. In fact, one of my degrees is in public health, so I probably know more about this subject than a lot of people do. I just think the masks are mostly more about comforting the masses than actually preventing infections. When it comes down to it, social distancing and hand washing are a lot more important, and we’re hearing much less about that because they are impossible to monitor or enforce. Simple, loose fitting masks do not stop viruses from spreading, especially when people are constantly touching and fidgeting with them, although they might slow the viruses down a bit if they are worn properly and laundered or replaced regularly.

Masks are inconvenient and uncomfortable, and the idea of being forced to wear one for hours on a plane is very unappealing to me, especially given that air travel is already unpleasant and expensive. Being glared at, judged, and harassed by strangers over the wearing of masks is also unappealing, especially given how expensive it is to fly. I will wear a mask if I have to for essential travel (say, if my mom dies while we’re in Germany or we have to move), but I will not be happy about it, even if it makes other people *feel* safer, *judge* me less, and *think* I’m more polite.

And so, this blog is probably going to be less interesting to most people for the foreseeable future. That makes me sad, since we really had a great time a couple of years ago, visiting places near Stuttgart. I enjoyed writing and taking pictures, too. Maybe I’ll get back to writing about local spots again, but I doubt we’re going to be taking as many great trips, although Bill definitely wants to. I probably won’t be updating this blog as often, either, since no one wants to read about our life at home. It was fun while it lasted.

So sad.

Speaking of things that are going away. It was announced the other day that our neighborhood restaurant, the Alt Breckenheimer Stübchen, has been forced to close. Bill and I only ate there once, in January 2019, because it was always packed and reservations were essential. Now, thanks to the coronavirus, it looks like yet another great local haunt is being forced to close its doors. This virus has really screwed things up for a lot of people. I also read that the wine stand is going to be dismantled at the end of June. That is especially tragic, since we really enjoyed attending last year, and getting to know our neighbors.

But people are trying to keep up their spirits. Kids in Hofheim and apparently other communities, according to my German friend near Stuttgart, are making painted rock snakes. Here’s a screenshot from our local group about that.

Anyway… I try to keep perspective. I’ve noticed that the kids at the local school seem happy and are still playing. Some wear masks and some don’t. I’m grateful that people where I live are sensible and reasonable about mask wearing, and don’t freak out if people leave their residence without one, since it is entirely possible to stay more than six feet away from others in our neighborhood. I also realize that this is certainly not the first or last time humans have been confronted by pandemics. They always eventually pass or become controllable. This particular pandemic has only been a thing for a few months, so people are still very scared. Some are downright panicky. That’s understandable, given the horror stories about people who have come down with COVID-19. However, I think most of us will eventually be exposed to it and most of us won’t die. Some will die, and some will be left debilitated. And hopefully, there will be some semblance of normal life and travel again at some point in the future.

We’ll see what happens. This blog has been slowly dying anyway, since we left Stuttgart and I quit promoting it and left most of the Facebook groups (which was really a smart thing to do, but that’s a rant for another day).

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weather

Germany sizzles!

It’s so hot. Yesterday, it was officially the hottest day ever recorded in Germany. Temperatures swelled to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). Thank God we bought air conditioners in 2015 and 2017, because I bet they’re sold out at the local hardware stores. The vast majority of German homes lack air conditioning because up until recently, it never got that hot here. Unfortunately, that is now changing.

I remember as recently as 2009, it wasn’t that hot in Germany. In fact, I remember ten years ago, it snowed much more often than it does now. We got maybe two or three weeks of warm weather, then we were back in jackets. That’s not so, nowadays. The past few summers have become increasingly brutal. Climate change is a real thing, and it’s scary.

Fortunately, our current house has rolladens on all of the windows. Our upstairs doesn’t actually have windows, except in the bathroom. What we have are glass plated doors that open to large balconies on either side of the house. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to use my air conditioners in this house, but it turns out they’re even easier to use here. There’s no need to use a hot air stopper, because all I have to do is drop the rolladen just to the point at which I can stick the hose outside. Yes, hot air still gets in, but it’s mostly blocked by the rolladen. There’s no need to use adhesive or anything else to hold the hose outside and I don’t have to roast in my own sweat. An added bonus is that I also don’t have full scale sunlight hitting me in the face anymore at my desk, so that I have to drape a towel over the window for the morning hours in the summer. I had to do that in the previous house.

I don’t think it will be much longer before people in Germany start air conditioning their houses. Last fall, we even looked at a house in Wiesbaden that was having it installed. I was tempted to take that house, but there were a few things that prevented us from pulling the trigger. The biggest issues were that I wasn’t sure our bed would fit and I would have had to go outside to access the laundry room. But, I won’t lie… air conditioning for these increasingly brutal summer weeks was a huge draw. I have done my time sweltering in the heat. I don’t want to do it anymore if I don’t have to.

Although the past few months have been an adjustment for us, I definitely like Wiesbaden. It has a different vibe than Stuttgart does, and people seem to be more friendly and peaceful. There’s much less of a social media presence here, so I don’t get caught up in ridiculous online dramas. There’s a smaller military presence here, too, and most everyone seems to be with the Army rather than all branches. The garrison commander is supportive of everyone, including contractors, so that’s a big plus. When we move out of this house, we will have support from the housing office, which we were denied in Stuttgart. I definitely enjoyed our time in Stuttgart and I have many pleasant memories from all six years, but I’m glad we moved… for many reasons.

Hopefully, this heat wave will be finished soon. I’m beginning to feel like we’re back in Texas, although in Texas, we had air conditioning (that cost us a fortune). Supposedly, the temperatures will be pleasant in Scotland when we’re there. Now that I think about it… August seems a strange time to go whisky tasting. Ah well, I’m sure we’ll have fun, anyway.

By the way… today marks my 1200th post on this blog!

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Germany, weather

Flooding!

Yesterday, I made an ill advised comment about how I hoped it would rain a lot.  I made the comment without thinking.  I wasn’t in town when Baden-Württemberg got drenched by massive rains and my allergies have been driving me crazy.  On Tuesday, I went as far as taking a Benadryl, which led to my having to take a two hour nap.  I figured a good rain would wash the allergens out of the air and help me get rid of my stuffed up nose, itchy eyes, and gunky throat.

My German friend, Susanne, reminded me that there’s been a lot of flooding in these parts recently.  This morning, she even shared a news article about the area where Bill and I used to live.  We were even saying last night how we now live at a high elevation as opposed to in a valley, like we did when we lived in Pfäffingen, which is in Ammerbuch.  Last weekend, we went to see our old friend The Mad Scientist in Entringen.  I see in Susanne’s link that Entringen was flooded last night; there’s a picture that shows how bad it was/is.

This morning, as I was walking my dogs along our regular route, I heard the rushing of water.  Sometimes, water flows through drainage ditches.  I thought they were for irrigating the fields near our house, but I think they may also be for dealing with flooding.  I didn’t think we had much up here, but as you can see by these photos, we did get some…

It looks like it goes into the forest…

 

I didn’t take the dogs in the woods today, but it looks like if we’d gone back there, we would have run into some flooding.  I can’t even imagine what Pfäffingen must look like today.  On a related note, I kind of like it when the ditch has water in it.  It makes me feel like I’m at my Granny’s house in Virginia, which has two creeks running through the property.  Sadly, the ditches up here are usually dry.

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Germany, staying home, weather

November snow…

Yet again, we stayed cooped up yesterday because the weather was kind of yucky.  But we were rewarded this morning with some pretty snow.  I have taken a few photos for your perusal.

Just as the snow was starting yesterday at about 2:00pm.

 

The sky was pretty angry.  One thing I like about where we live is that it’s easy to watch the weather.

An hour or so later, the sun came out…  It looks like it’s literally chasing the clouds away in this photo.

Another view.  Looks like a totally different day.

One more shot of the crazy sun/clouds…

 

By about 11:00pm, we had a good covering of the white stuff.  This morning, we had about two or three inches.  Although we got rare snow during our Thanksgiving visit to Virginia last year, where I come from, snow in November is almost unheard of.

It’s not very cold outside and I see the sun trying to peek through.  This may be gone by tonight.

I do enjoy watching snow, though… especially if I don’t have to go out in it.

 

Maybe later, I’ll have the chance to dine at a new restaurant…  We’ll see.

 
 
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anecdotes, Germany, weather

Psycho weather!

I wasn’t going to blog again today, but I have to comment on the weird weather we’ve experienced in the last 35 minutes or so.  Actually, the weather has been weird all day.  We’ve had rain, sleet, wind, snow, and sun in less than 12 hours.  Things got very strange just as dusk began…

The sun was out, then dark clouds overtook it.

Bye bye, sun…

Then we got freezing rain…

 

I took a film…  

And snow…

It was coming down like gangbusters… with lots of wind.

Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped.

There was the moon…

And it looks like it might be a clear night after all…

This happened in the course of about 35 minutes.  Psycho weather, I tell you.  I thought Virginia’s weather was odd.  Germany’s is definitely in the running for weird weather patterns.

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Germany, weather

Ambivalent about all this weather…

I like snow.  I really do.  It’s still snowing right now.  Big fat flakes are falling gently to the ground, covering everything in a cold blanket of soft white.  There’s something about snow that makes everything seem cozy and sweet.  But it’s been snowing for days now and I’m feeling a little eager to get out of the house.  The trouble is, even when it’s nice out, I rarely go out.

Still, I have to admit, the snow is very pretty, especially since we live in a somewhat rural area where there are a lot of trees.  I was thinking I might want to go for a walk in the forest and take some photos.  But it’s cold out and even the dogs don’t even want to stay out for more than a minute or two.

I took this picture right before the snow started up again.  I like how everything looks blue…

 

It’s hard to believe that soon, this will melt.  As soon as we get weather above freezing, anyway.  Looks like that will be Friday.

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