So, I returned home yesterday from a trip w/ my sister to Central Florida. We were visiting our parents, who I hadn't seen in more than a year.

It was quite lovely. On the same day that I stepped off the plane I was photographing manatees in Blue Springs with my new camera. I got to see a pre-dawn Space Shuttle launch (sadly, the last). I got to watch the Super Bowl with my dad. My mom gave me a sewing lesson and I stitched a hole in my favorite sweater; it's good as new. I paddled a kayak through a mangrove swamp with my sis, mom & aunts. I won four games of ping-pong, three games of Scrabble. Climbed an orange tree, and scrapped-up my hands leaping out of it. (plus, the oranges I picked were under-ripe and mercilessly bitter. oh well, it was fun anyway.) I saw hawks, herons, huge pelicans, ibises, ospreys... birds of all shapes and descriptions, everywhere. Watched some charming films: Up in the Air, Pixar's Up, The Hangover (also, an old favorite: Jean Reno & the 13-y.o. Natalie Portman in The Professional). Just a fun week all around.

Last year my family went through some serious upheavals, so-- most of all-- it was good to get back together with my sister & parents and see that each of us is falling into our new routines pretty well.

Now I'm back in B'ham. Mostly ignoring the big Winter Olympics hubbub going on 50 miles to the north of me. I may wander over to the brewery later this week and do some spectating, but right now I have other things on my mind.

Since it's been such a warm winter here in Whatcom County, folks at the greenhouse are talking about planting even earlier this year. I could be starting my "summer" weekend job this month(!), maybe even this weekend. That means going back to a no-days-off schedule again-- kind of a bummer-- but I'm excited by the prospect of two more paychecks each month. If my budget stays on track, I could have more than 50%(!) of my remaining debts paid off by October.

In the off-hours, I have my usual spread of pursuits and hobbies. Getting more serious about practicing on my guitar and piano again. My friends & I are still playing a lot of MtG, and I've also started playing Pauper Magic on MTG Online, which is a surprising amount of fun. I bought a new-used camera (a Canon G10) with the intention of improving my photography and getting back into Flickr. I'll be restarting Nodeslam.com this week, finally. I've also been recording myself reading The Silmarillion outloud, purely for my own amusement. (I may upload the recordings at some point, but in a more out-of-the-way location. I don't want to run afoul of the Tolkien estate. I'll let you know.)

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