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The pantry closet was ready for shelves, so that's what I did today. Now that those RN it was time to unpack the alcohol, and the cookbooks. The only problem is, where the hell are they?

I knew with the bulk of the alcohol was, and so that's been retrieved from the center of the barn. Also retrieved from the barn was the case of homemade vanilla, now residing at the bottom of the pantry closet next to the sake. There's still more alcohol in the garage, somewhere, but we are still remains to be seen. Such is also the case for most of the cookbooks. I found a small box of oversized books, which have now been put away in the closet, but the bulk are still MIA.

It's good and hot here and after getting the bulk of things away after dealing with that much alcohol I decided to make myself something to drink. We have an inordinate amount of coffee liqueur of different pedigrees and there was a bottle of Saint Maartin's which is tequila-based. When I went to open it unfortunately the cork stopper broke off in my hand. There after I took a bottle opener and shredded the remaining cork. Fortunately in with the vanilla with some good stoppered bottles, one of which was perfect for the Saint Maartin's. Ever prepared I had a filtered funnel in one of my kitchen drawers and, perfect for decanting in the remains of the Saint Martin's into the new bottle, with none of the offending cork bits.

A White Russian sounded way too mundane and I'm not a fan of vodka anyway. I knows the rounds on one in the little bit and came across a recipe for a white nun, and in this heat rather than make it over ice it went over some cappuccino ice cream instead. Quite decadent. I think I'm going to go take a nap.

A White Nun on Vacation
1 ounce coffee liqueur
1 ounce white rum
1 scoop cappuccino ice cream

Stir the 2 ounces of alcohol together. Put small scoop of cappuccino ice cream into an old-fashioned glass and pour the alcohol over it. Serve on the veranda with and ice tea spoon in the glass.
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The beginning of last week while I was rummaging through the garage looking for clothing, I had a moment of abject dejection. The amount of stuff I have to go through is verging on overwhelming. After a moment or three of hyperventilating, I made the resolution that I will open and empty a bare minimum of one box a day until they're all taken care of. Now, that's not a maximum; it's a minimum. On days when there is adequate time, I can do as many boxes as I have space and time for, but every day there is a minimum of at least one box.

Friday it was a dozen, yesterday morning before I left for Santa Rosa, five. So far today, I think it's seven or eight. How many I do in a given day isn't important. As long as it least one got done, I can cut myself some emotional slack, secure in the knowledge that eventually everything will be gone through, put away, or gotten rid of.

My former office manager invited us over for a barbecue at her place, intent on having the entire office staff over. My husband decided to take a pass, to stay home to get stuff done here. I felt the need for some R & R; further, other than seeing Oana last week when she came over, I had not seen any of my office self since early December, at my medical assistant's mother's funeral. Not only did I want to see them, I wanted them to see and hopefully take some pleasure in the changes that I'm making physically.

When I headed out to Santa Rosa, the back of my car was full. There were some items to drop off at Goodwill, and a bunch of clothing I no longer can use, to drop off to a friend who has a son, plus three foster sons, all of them sadly approaching 275~300 pounds and beyond. I also very much wanted to hit the gym and treat myself to a soak in the spa after running. I started lifting weights again recently & my arms are not happy with me. When it comes to lifting weights, I really have to push myself to do it. I don't enjoy doing it, unlike my cardio, which I really do enjoy, but building up some muscle in my chest and arms will be a good thing, as I 'deflate'. I really don't want to have nipples down around my beltline. Given the amount of weight I've already lost, I'm actually surprised by the dearth of hanging skin. Frankly, I expected stuff to sag everywhere, and as I get towards goal, likely there will be major SAG, but so far, not nearly as much as I would have expected. Granted, there's probably still another 80 pounds to get rid of, but honestly I seem to be getting flatter. I laughed, when on two separate occasions I've been told by others that I'm "flatter", but as I look at my lower belly for example, that's exactly what's happening.

For years I've used a laptop while sitting at a table or desk, & absolutely never on my lap. I don't really have a lap. Between the size of my lower belly, and the fact that my thighs are actually rather short, there is no appreciable lap for me to put the laptop on, at least, not yet. Such is the case for most people with Dunlop's disease (A.k.a. when the belly done lops over the belt!). Over the last several months my lower abdomen has noticeably contracted. There is still much more there than I am happy with, putting it mildly, but it is shrinking noticeably & at least for the time being along with it, my skin.

This morning I focused on boxes that were upstairs in the house. Within the next few weeks, we will likely be moving into our bedroom downstairs (once the drywall is repaired and the room painted) & the bathroom is completed. Since very little is being done to the upstairs, that hasn't already been done, the rooms upstairs can soon be set up for a combination of my husband's office space and guest bedrooms. It's time to get boxes that are upstairs opened and unpacked – basically out of the way, so that the rooms can be put to their proper use.

I've been spending a lot of my time outdoors focusing on the landscaping. I'm learning. Up till now, I have done very little gardening in my life. I grew up a city kid. A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but it sure as hell wasn't in my neighborhood. Over the last month I have taken out a fair number of bushes & other plants that were unruly and unwanted. One of them was an oleander that despite its size (about 20 feet tall) was looking both leggy & rather sickly. Further, it was right behind the garage, a space that we are planning to enclose and create workshop space for me and my artwork. That oleander was blocking any potential view of the lake and so I decided it needed to go. I managed to get that plant out, but still need to deal with its root ball, which I'm sure will be no small task. I've done major pruning on fruit trees all over this property and have cut back many dead branches off of a fair number of beautiful Manzanitas we have dotting the property. Every couple of days I'm out somewhere with the Weedwhacker, trying to make a defensible space around the house in advance of fire season here. Our county has been hit the last several years by devastating fires, something in our neighborhood has been spared. I cannot afford to tempt fate and so I must continue whacking down the weeds and pruning the plants to reduce our own fire risk here.

60 to 70 years ago, there were a large number of rather stately grafted walnut trees here, both on our land and the surrounding properties. A fair number of them have died, and two of them are just outside of our fences. One is immediately to the side of the garage, while the other is right at the corner of out property where Cliff and Park Drive intersect. The one next to the garage still has some life in it; the rootstock seems healthy and whatever the native rootstock plant is seems to be springing to life. The grafted branches however, not so much. Up until a month ago, I thought the entire tree was dead, but in the ensuing weeks, towards the center of the tree, new foliage is springing up. Unfortunately, The bulk of the grafted tree is not coming back and in addition to it being a fire hazard, it's uglier than sin; not exactly what you want for guests to see, as they drive up to your house and park. When I went to take out the trash, I decided no time like the present to attack the tree with my pruning hook. My pruner extends to 18 feet and has a saw blade out the top. It's a lot of work to get through the trunk-like branches high up in the tree, but it's a hell of a lot safer than climbing the tree myself with a chainsaw. I came back inside, threw on a pair of overalls, without a shirt, slathered on some sunscreen and walked back out with the pruning hook. Did I mention it's 92° here today? I'm on the front porch now sipping a tall glass of ice water, before I go back out to take out the remainder of the dead wood. It's looking a hell of a lot better than it did and if I have the energy, thereafter I will start to attack the one on the corner. Later this week I see a dump run happening to get the deadwood out of here.

I was planning to hit the gym today, but I think I may just skip it given the upper body workout I've gotten today in the yard. Back to work.

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