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By the poxed visage of Mogg's bastard uncle… today has been one for the books. I don't even know where to start.

Let's cheat, and jump to the end of the story – I'm in the air, headed for Richmond, Virginia, with a stopover in Atlanta. So all's well that end's well, as I say often and don't care who hears it. (My that sounds familiar…)

I had more to do in my final day in Salt Lake than I actually had time for, and I ended up paying a pretty heavy price in terms of stress. But this morning, I was blissfully unaware of that.

I started with a quick visit to my doctor. I seem to have an insignificant but annoying rash developing, and I wanted to get something for it before I headed off into unfamiliar territory. My appointment was at 7:40, I was first on the doc's schedule, and it was in and out. Good start.

Next I took Molly to be oiled (if you don't follow my adventures, Molly is my faithful Prius – and to get her winter shoes off. I had purchased a maintenance plan in 2007 that took care of all those things up front, but today I learned that they only allowed 15 – supposedly 3 a year for 5 years. However, I've put 65,000 miles on her in the last 3 years, and I've used up my quota early. That was a surprise, but there it is. So she'll have clean oil while she sits for a while, waiting for my return. She got a bath, too – but the whole process took 2 hours, which I wish I could have had back.

Started shifting more stuff – I have more hqiz than I realized. At 5:30 I drove my van to park it in front of my ex's house – she graciously agreed to let me store it there while I'm gone, as well as giving me a whole empty shed to put my overflow in, since my 8x10 storage unit is full to the gills. I'm grateful for her kindness. Funny how things work… we're much better friends now than ever we were while a couple.

My son and his wife gave me a ride back downtown, and I stopped to have dinner with my Mother before leaving. She had forgotten I was coming, but that's pretty normal for her. At 93, her short-term memory is pretty much shot. But she enjoyed the visit anyway, and looked good today in a pretty blue outfit.

Walked home (she only lives about half a mile from me) and ended up making 5 more trips to the shed, getting my last load finished at 4 AM, plus dropping off the perishable food from my fridge at my son's house. Sleep? What's that? Mogg's teeth, I was tired.

By the time I got home, I had an hour to finish scrubbing my kitchen, finish packing, finish scrubbing my bathroom, get dressed, and get out the door to park Molly with a friend of my fiancée. I was just barely going to make it.

I had my keys in an envelope to turn back in to the leasing office, so I left my door open. I took two suitcases down to Molly, and realized that I had left my electronic sensor upstairs – I thought I was locked in the basement. By angel's providence, I had forgotten to take it off my keyring. Whoosh! Catastrophe averted! So I took a shopping cart up and brought down almost everything else that was left, put it in Molly and headed up for the last load… and my door was locked. The inertia of the door closer must have popped the button in. It's now 10 after 5, and the shuttle was to come for me at 5:30.

Hqiz. I was sure I was going to miss the flight. I called the shuttle company and cancelled, and then called the emergency number to get someone to come let me in (one of the benefits of a high-end gated community). Unfortunately, it took about half an hour to get through and get someone there, so I wasn't going to get to my parking spot until 6… and my flight was scheduled to leave at7:05. Talk about thermonuclear cortisol levels…

I called a cab company and ordered a taxi for 6 – the first one that answered (Yellow Cab) was manned by an escapee from the State Home for Cretins – he couldn't understand anything I was saying – so I rang off and called a different company, with better results. Then I called my sweetie and filled her in, with a caveat that I might miss my flight. The dear – she was very understanding and helped me get back to ground and center.

Parked Molly, got my bags on the curb, dropped the key in my benefactor's mailbox, and got into the cab at 6:05. The traffic was still very light, and this guy must have had wings. He made the 15-mile drive in 20 minutes, getting me to the airport at 6:25. A kindly Delta agent took me through a tesseract to bypass the line of people waiting, and I was pleasantly surprised both that there was no line at security and that the full-body scanners were not in use. The cattle prod up my ass stung like a banshee, though. (Haha, just kidding.)

I arrived at the gate just in time to board my flight. The only other hitch was that the plane was full, and I had to check my roll-on all the way to Richmond. May the Luggage Gods smile kindly on me, unlike my son who just returned from a week's vacation in London, of which half was spent without luggage thanks to some weather delays and some unbelievable cock-ups by Virgin Atlantic. (Cxhhhht! P'too!)

I haven't had a middle seat for a long time – that's all that was available by the time I booked my ticket. I cannot fathom how the airlines continue to reduce available space in all four cardinal directions – I felt like the poor bastard in the middle of the clown car. Hadn’t had any breakfast to speak of, so I ordered a "Travel Treats" box, which, for $5.00, was about 4 times the value I would have gotten on the ground at the airport. Chips, jerky nuggets, cheese & crackers, dried fruit, shortbread cookies, chocolate and some hard candies.

I'm sitting here typing this in the most uncomfortable position imaginable – there's not enough room in front of me to use a laptop properly, so the laptop is resting about on my solar plexus, and my arms are pinned to my sides by my neighbors. But by Mogg's unobtainium claws, I was going to get this log written. It's 10:10, and it feels like we're headed down for Atlanta. I'm frightfully grateful that everything worked, in spite of the huge rush at the end, and an unexpected disaster. There were angels dogging my steps this morning.

A brief stayover in Atlanta, and a quick 1-hour flight to Richmond - I had a whole row to myself, and was able to sleep almost the whole hour - it felt glorious! I was met at the airport by my beloved fiancée - how wonderful to be with her again. We drove back to H'burg, stopping on the way to have phenomenal Korean food at the Bamboo Hut [groan *belch* groan].

Slept well last night and almost feel human today. A new life begins!

I know I'm in a different world - The WalMart here has designated parking for Mennonite horse and buggies...

For what it's worth, I'm going to be less visible here for a while. To my F-list, if you don't see me commenting on your entries, that's why - but I will be reading...
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So now that the die is cast, the deed is done and the cat is out of the bag, I can share a few details about my relationship with the wonderful, amazing, gently insane and thoroughly awesome ToniAnne. (For those of you who missed the official announcement on at the Couch of Confusion, you can see it here)

This is a long post, with images. If you comment, you'll get the whole enchilada.
Goodies behind the cut. )
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Got back to Salt Lake last nightafter a whirlwind tour to California and back. The first week was spent in the Bay Area with Klemmer & Associates' Advanced Leadership Team #141, where I staffed with 11 others to serve 60 amazing and powerful samurai discover how to take that one next step when they thought they had gone as far as they could. It was a stupendous week. On Monday I Visited with a talented cousin of mine who lives in Richmond, collected some great family history pictures and was gifted with two beautiful books which I look forward to reading, as well as an engraved silver grapefruit spoon that belonged to one of my ancestors - I just need to figure out which one.



The back displays a shamrock hallmark, the word "sterling," and "Pat 92".

As far as I can tell, the monogram says "ELR" - most likely a Rogers, since it came to me from that branch of the family. However, I have no "ELR's" in my family tree. It is a puzzlement.

Bonus: Delightful visit with [livejournal.com profile] sleepyjohn00 and his wife [livejournal.com profile] goodwitch779, and great eats at a great Japanese teppan place. Dinner and a show.

Had affairs to attend to in Los Angeles and St. George, Utah, and then back home. Should be able to post some additional details and the requisite pictures within a couple of days.

Noticed today that Molly had a cracked windshield. Hqiz. Oh well, 65,000 miles on the road, truck ejecta, coyotes and other hazards, I suppose it's to be expected on occasion.
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A breathtaking week in San Mateo with 60 new Compassionate Samurai. More details to follow. Still on the road, visiting friends and having fun in the greater Los Angeles area, figuring out what to do today and coordinating the next visit along the road. Hugs to my F-list!

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Nice day. Went up to a beautiful vineyard area for a look-round the shops, and had lunch in a little cafe - a nice beef burgundy pie and a fruit tart. Visited the "Smelly Cheese Shop" where I picked up some nice Australian honeys and got to sample some very nice cheeses. Also stopped in at a chocolatier where we had some interesting chili chocolates, very tasty with a slight chili kick to them.

Spent the bulk of the afternoon at SteamWolf's folks' house chattering and having afternoon tea, a lovely blueberry bread with fresh home-made butter. Later we went down to Lake Macquarie and walked around, watched dolphins and had ice cream. Today was overcast and significantly cooler, which was most welcome.

Came home and tucked into some more cheese and fresh lychee nuts for a light supper - a relaxing, pleasant day all round.

Need to call the Foxaroo and see what his plans are, and coordinate what will happen tomorrow and Tuesday. I'm starting to feel really torn right about now - I miss my own place, but I'm dreadfully sorry this amazing 3-week journey is coming to an end. I just want more...

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So I was up at 8, which gave me 4 hours to get everything else ready that I had left undone. Got my desk cleared off and down to where the shuttle driver was supposed to come with 10 minutes to spare.

Of course he couldn't find me, despite my having given precise instructions to the dispatcher the night before. So when he did show up 10 minutes late, he tried to blame me for not being where I was supposed to be. Not a good way to win friends and repeat business.

Took me 45 minutes to get through security at Delta's terminal. I didn't have to pass through a full-body scanner, even though they have one. I was glad. I don't want no dimwitted TSA drone ogling my junk.



As it turned out, I had plenty of time, my flight to LA was 30 minutes late. It was a tiny CRJ-900, but fortunately the flight was smooth. I slept most of the way. Snack: Biscotti with the Delta logo stamped in them.

Had a 7-hour layover in LAX. Fortunately the international terminal was comfortable and had all the amenities I needed. Had a grilled chicken sandwich and a St. Pauli's for dinner, and spent most of the time working on "The Curse of Chalion" which was given to me over a year ago by [livejournal.com profile] sleepyjohn00. I have to admit I had made precious little progress on it because of lack of dedicated reading time, but also because Bujold used about 1/3 of the book setting the stage. As soon as the death magic was worked, the story became riveting. I should be able to finish on the train to Newcastle tomorrow.

My flight to Sydney was an hour late getting off. With all due respect to the airlines, that are doing their best to make air travel possible in impossible economic conditions, the bottom line is that traveling overseas in coach is sheer hell. Add to that a fat seatmate who could barely shoehorn herself into the middle seat, who fidgeted incessantly, who had to get up at least 8 times during the flight, who got airsick halfway through, fat-assed stewardi who kept bumping me as they pushed their carts past, and just the fact of sitting in a barely-adequate, unpadded seat with about 5 degrees of recline for 14 hours, made the trip less than enjoyable. The only redeeming feature was the choice of about 100 different movies at my seat - I watched about 15 minutes of "Push", which was dumb; Blade Runner; The Half Blood Prince; Mulan; and The Soloist, which brought me to tears. Delta did the best they could with the food, which was average but tasty. And they brought round water about every hour, so people wouldn't get dehydrated.

It took a while to get through customs, and I was glad they didn't confiscate one item I had made at home and brought for a friend. Took the train to Artarmon, where I was met by [livejournal.com profile] scottrell001 who bought me lunch, fed me supper, and showed me around. I suggested a walk after lunch, and we took about a 12-mile hike along Flat Rock Creek Gully (see the Foxaroo's post for some photos, most of which look like the ones I took today). We got back to his place around 5, and spent the evening eating, talking, and enjoying various things on the net. I introduced him to "Fluent Dysphasia" and other things from Dough Productions.

Got cleaned up and ready for bed, but had to get this posted before I forgot the details - tomorrow we head for Newcastle to meet up witn SteamWolf and to pick up the wolfmobile for my drive to Brisbane.

The weather here in Artarmon has been delightful. It was in the 70's around noon, although by the evening it had warmed up to what felt like close to 90. Both of us got a bit sunburned, but it was a very pleasant walk, with much wildlife seen - kookaburras, geckos, magpies (different from our U.S. variety), whip birds (heard but not seen - they have the most awesome call) and much flora. Many interesting sights along the way as well, most of which Stephan recorded in his post.

I'll be posting my pix when I get home, but for now, that's the events of the last two days.

G'night, mates!
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Plane leaves tomorrow for the land of Oz. I will be MIA for most of the next 3 weeks, but will check in as computers become available. I hope to have a good report when I return on the 27th.

Play nice while I'm gone.

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I thought I'd take the opportunity to post a few more pictures of what transpired after I attended my family reunion.

Huge Travelog with many photos behind the cut )
It was a wonderful trip, and I arrived home broke, but safe and happy, and with many memories and much good accomplished.
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Last night at 1:00 AM, my cave in the woods found me. 6,500 miles, give or take, much accomplished, many wonders experienced. I prayed for good weather, and for the most part, got it. With exception of a bit of snow between Hartford and Albany and some sloppy sleet between Buffalo and Casper (both in Wyoming!), and a couple of days of rain in DC and west of Chicago, I encountered a lot of beautiful, warm, Indian summer days, and enjoyed the company of good friends and close family. But even the rain couldn't dampen my enthusiasm for the marvels of the journey. Molly performed flawlessly, not a hint of mechanical trouble.

As I get caught up today, I should be able to post more pictures and an update of the last several days.

Now I need to spend a month repenting of my culinary excesses...
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Day Three

Missouri and Eastward behind the cut )
I'm grateful for the good weather, the safety, and the company of good friends.
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Treated myself to a workout at the local Gold's Gym, followed by fine liver & onions, green beans, Limas & corn pone. The one cancels the other, much as Tybalt cancels Capo Ferro, but I deserve it.

Full & happy in Richmond... :^)
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From handheld - Cold! heavy snow from Evanston for about 25 miles, then broken clouds & temps around 35-40.

Hazmat spill at Green River, huge delays as semis detour ... 10 mile backup Westbound. 5 miles farther down the road, a flipped semi. Must have been a nasty storm.

No coyotes thus far, thank Mogg!

N 41° 46'42", W 107° 18'38".

While driving, a reporter from KSL Channel 5 callled me hoping for an on-camera interview about my little citizen good deed, but had to settle for u phone interview... much ado about nottin', t'inks I.

After greasy eggrolls at Flying J, Onward!

Stupid predictive typing, if I type "eggrolls" I don't want "tomorrow"...
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Flickr photojournal of my summer adventure on the farm, as well as sights seen to and from. This is a representative sample of the pictures that were taken. Some of the farm shots are courtesy of Mark Stanley.

This took a while to do, but I promised. Enjoy!
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Made it home safe and sound, in one piece. Very grateful for safe travel. Had a nice dinner with my son and his wife this evening - they invited me for a belated birthday dinner and provided all the fixin's, and I helped with the grilling. Steaks were delicious with some Épice Bifteck Montréal...

Very tired tonight - I'll work on getting my pix up in an album somewhere tomorrow, as I get things sorted around.

Stopped at historic Fort Bridger on the way home, it was fascinating - I had never been there.


Last night's sunset


Commanding Officer's Quarters
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Just stopped for a hasty dinner of seraphim and cherubim outside of Galatin, Missouri - I drove through Liberty where I visited the site of the old Liberty Jail where Joseph Smith was imprisoned,


Liberty Jail Reconstruction on original foundation

followed by a visit to Adam-Ondi-Ahman, which to me is one of the most peaceful, sacred places on earth. It's the second time I've had the chance to visit the site - today it was very thunderstormy but still delightful to be there:


Interesting Cloud formations


Adam-Ondi-Ahman Valley Overlook

These are not my best composites but I don't have access to my stitcher on the road. They will have to suffice.

A little farther down the road toward Omaha tonite, until I feel like I've done enough.

Kathy made me laugh when she came back from Hawaii and described the natives at a Luau as saying they don't eat until they're full... they eat until they're tired. Sounds like my kind of people!
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Holed up just outside of St. Louis. Went up the arch for some spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The museum of Westward Exploration is fascinating - I could have spent a whole day there.

Looking up at the arch from below made me think of "Ringworld" so I came up with this composite shot...



Feasted on a caesar salad with wood-grilled shrimp at Red Lobster this night. groan belch groan
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On the Woad again
Just can't wait to put on the Woad again
The life I've Pict is tending sheepen for my friends
But I just can't wait to put on the Woad again...


Left Gap Mills today around 2, amidst the most mixed of feelings. Much done, so much left to do and undone because time ran out. But there's always another time. Now my family awaits me in Salt Lake, and I hope to get back before my Daughter takes off to parts far, far South on a grand adventure of her own. I pray for her safety - she wants to wend her way down into Central or South America, and I will send her blessings of Godspeed.

Many, many thanks to all my friends for the warm Birthday greetings - I shall find some appropriate means of celebrating. I have many trinkets and gifts coming home with me, so I feel not at all neglected as I travel through the beautiful countryside.

Life is good. If I were any better, I'd have to be twins.
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So, mathematically speaking, the equation balances.

Got some good work done around the farm today, but the afternoon was the pits. Loaded up the truck with a ton of crap for the landfill, drove 30 miles to Lewisburg only to get to the dump at 4:15 and find out that they closed at 4:00. Yes, I do hate government, thank you for asking. Sheesh.

By this time it's started raining buckets, so I drive home in the deluge - stopped at WalMart to get some replacement wiper blades for the truck, which helped a lot - and got back to feed the critters in the downpour. Sheep don't like to move when it's raining - took me twice as long as usual to get them back into the paddock.

Went to repair a gate that had popped of its hinges and found I had one too many sheep on the lawn - had to chase one back to the other side to keep my count straight.

Was supposed to take the sheep with a sore leg to the vet again tomorrow morning at 8:30 - had to reschedule so I can unload the truck tomorrow morning before taking him in. Never a dull moment.

Saw no cows today. I'm tired, soaked, and hungry. About to go home and fix myself some farm-fresh scrambled eggs for supper. The clock is ticking down - only three work days left before the landlords come home, and still a huge project left to finish.
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The animals need to be fed morning, noon and night. If you're not there, they go hungry. Feel like sleeping in? Hungry animals. Feel like taking a day off? Hungry animals. I don't know how full-time farmers do it.

Hats off to those who grow our food.

Got the lamb with the broken leg in to the vet yesterday to get his cast off. He's got some pretty mean cast sores on his leg, so the vet dressed the wounds, put a bandage on and told me to keep him clean and dry for a couple of days and then bring him in again. Repaired a gate on a shed area and turned it into a lamb hospital - cleanest and driest place on the farm I could think of. Hope the little guy does well.

Partly cloudy and some sprinkles in the Cove today, but that helps keep the heat down. It's starting to warm up. Taking care of the farm would be easier if I weren't also "taking care" of the farm wife's mom - nice lady, but a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. I answer lots of the same questions over, and over, and over... But we get along just fine. Ever see Guarding Tess? "Yes Ma'am". "Yes Ma'am". "Yes Ma'am". Works like a charm.
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The farm day is done. The laundry - lots of it, all covered with mud and other unmentionables, is humming.

This morning I saw Mark and Angela Stanley off, and by now they should be back home. Better people do not exist. I greatly appreciated Mark's engineering expertise, his facility as a sheepdog (go! go!), his wicked sense of humor, encyclopedic knowledge, and his willingness to work - as well as his mindboggling generosity. Angela enjoyed taking care of Misha, the bottle-baby lamb, and helping in any other way she could. She is a gentle soul and supremely giving.

The last 11 days have been a joy, and I'm most sorry to see them go. We parted with a lovely breakfast at the Kalico Kitchen in Union, and then I was able to take advantage of the library's wireless to get caught up on some things.

Agatha, or sick sheep,has reached the end of the line. After reporting to the farmer, she decided it was time to have her put down, as she has been having difficulty for years. Frank, a good neighbor, will come over and take care of it tomorrow for us.

Honey, the killer chihuahua, danced with a baby possum tonight. I wanted to get a picture of it, but by the time I got back with my camera, the beastie had escaped. It was so cute...

Along with four other dogs, Kathy and Scott own a rescued border collie named Princess. With a little training, she would be a first-class sheepdog - she has all the right instincts. This evening I walked the dogs in a light drizzle up to the upper pasture looking for the sheep which had not come down by themselves. They were scattered all over. I simply told Princess, "Round them up! Take them home!" And she did just that. She got them all into a cluster, rounded up the strays, and sent them down the path toward the house. Good dog. Good dog.

Later I came back and drove the perimeter looking for the cows, but saw no trace - saw all 5 plus the calf yesterday at noon, so at that point all was well. Hope they show tomorrow.

The weather has been wet for the last two days. Sun is predicted for tomorrow - I hope they're right. It's Farmer's Day in Union, and I'm hoping they have good weather for their big parade and all the festivities. I'm not sure if I'm going in or not, but I think I probably will - and then I need to take my car into a shop in Lewisburg and have the oil changed.

A good day draws to a close with peepers and bullfrogs singing in the pond, and fireflies dancing in the dark.

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