Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Too Much Christmas?

It is January now and I have 95% of Christmas put away. There are still some lights on the roof that I need to take down, but I need a tall later that I don't have to get at them. I would keep them lit until March but since I put them up way early this last season I unplugged them.

I love Christmas. I love the light displays, and the joy of the season. Right after Thanksgiving I can't wait to hear my first Christmas song, and always hope it is one of the instrumental versions of "Sleigh Ride". The Christmas shopping I'm not all that fond of, but the togetherness of Family is important to me and I want to gather with as many of them as I can at this time of year.

The Cute Girlfriend has Grand Children that I love dearly and have earned the title "Papa" from them, which warms my heart wonderfully. I'm blessed with a loving significant other that is totally a Christmas Light Addiction Enabler. She will come home with new stuff for me to put in the yard or on the house. Our light displays are more than some people would want but less than some of the more fanatical enthusiasts.

I kid people that I want enough lights on the house that the Astronauts on the International Space Station can see it as they pass over, but I know that might turn our nice neighbors against us.

This year was my first year decorating this house we are in. Last year I was in North Dakota working so I couldn't put up lights. I started early this year. It has not been a year of good fortune for us, and my feelings on the economy and our political climate prompted to start spreading the Christmas cheer early. My work had been so slow during October, November, and December for that matter I had plenty of time to put up lights.

I usually put up lights the week before we went up north for Turkeyday to visit my folks. This year I wanted to get a real early start. I really needed some Christmas cheer in 2013. On November 10th I started to put up lights.

I posted this on Facebook and got a few..."Already?"..from some of my friends. I was on a mission though. I just felt that I needed to spread the Holiday cheer, now! We went shopping and found some more displays and lights.
It was about this time that I started to notice from my window here at my computer desk that all the cars that normally race by were slowing down to take a look. Local parents with their kids would stand at our fence and look a the lights. I was starting to think my mission was accomplished.

One night I noticed the UPS man slow as he passed the house. We have a very low bridge up the street so trucks like a UPS truck have to turn around and go out the way they came in. I saw him slow like he was looking for addresses. I went to the front door to see if he had something for us. He turned around and stopped down the street for a few seconds then came up and stopped at our gate. He stepped out and said he didn't have anything for us but he was enjoying our lights and thanked us. This was still before Thanksgiving, mission accomplished.

Alas I wasn't done yet. The cute girlfriend bought something huge for the front yard.
This is not a great pic of this Frosted Ferris Wheel, the lights blink and twinkle which made it so the poor camera on my phone could not focus. This thing is 6' tall and boy does the wind catch it!...lol

We had a few more lights to put up, and I got the cool Ferris Wheel up in the yard.

The cool thing or maybe not so cool thing privacy wise, is that the back yard can be seen from across the river. This worked out well because we bought this funny little inflatable Santa in a boat which would fit in well on the River side of the house.

I strung lights on the gazebo too. I could have done the windows on the back of the house but I think I was taxing this poor old houses electrical system as it was.

Here is a huge warning. For those of us who like putting up Christmas lights, after you have them all plugged in and lit. Feel the cords coming out of the socket. If that cord is at all warm to the touch you need to pull some lights off and reroute power from some other source.

This house was originally built in 1928 and although most of the electrical has been updated it is still limited.
I had to run power from the back of the house to the front. If you do this you need thicker gauge electrical cords because of the distance. Distance can equal electrical resistance with small electrical cords so be careful.

We found out one night that one of the circuits in the basement was running a lot more that we thought. Poor cute girlfriend wanted to take the chill off of the TV room and turned on her electric fireplace and POP. I unplugged the lights so she could run her heater.

Timers can be important, I found some that have a photovoltaic switch that turns the lights on at dusk and then will stay on for a few hours and turn off.

The lights were having there affect more and more cars were driving by would slow down to a crawl and view our display. It warms the heart when you can spread the Holiday cheer like that.

We had found these cute Christmas cartoon character sidewalk lights at Big Lots. I had this idea of making a cute little display with them. It was the Peanuts characters skating. I wanted to make it look like they were skating on a frozen pond. So I mixed some old decorations with some new and this is what I came up with.

I thought it turned out pretty good.

Christmas lights can be a crazy affair down in California, with whole neighborhoods decked out in lights. Not so much here in the Pacific Northwest as far as I can tell. There is one house here in our town that was not to be out done. There is a Sheriff's vehicle normally parked in the driveway of this home so I commend this officer for his Christmas spirit. His display is a computerized light extravaganza. Complete with musical accompaniment. There is a sign in his yard telling you to tune your radio to a certain FM radio frequency and then you will hear what the light display is timed to. It is pretty cool. I don't think I would go that far but it is very cool.

One of the things that is popular in this area during the Christmas season is at the Portland Zoo. Known around here as Zoo Lights and is usually done on the Zoo's train that is in the park. This year the train was out of order so it was a walk through display. The lights of course are animal based but it is pretty cool.
It is very popular in this part of Oregon and Washington and can be very crowded at times. This night it was not as busy. We went twice during the Holidays, each time taking a different group of Grand Kids. The displays can be very elaborate. This dragon one puffs rings down over someone standing below it.
I loved this Lighthouse one.

The Animated displays are very nice. Down by the Elephants there is a display with birds of pray swooping down , Hippos popping up out of the water, Lions chasing Gazelles, even Alligators opening and closing their mouths.


Made a YouTube video of our trip to the Portland Zoo Lights above showing the Animation.

We had all the Grand Kids over for Christmas and a large Christmas, Turkey dinner with all the trimmings. As always the Twice Baked Potatoes were the hit.

One of the hard things about the Holidays, especially if you are counting your carbs, is the sweets. We bought a whole bunch of pies. Pumpkin, Dutch Apple, Chocolate Cream, Key Lime pies all stacked up on the counter calling out the amount of carbs they contain and then our names. I had a huge hunk of Key Lime Pie Christmas night and had a sugar rush that knocked my socks off. I was sparing on the amount of pie I ate and kept the carb intake as low as possible this season and didn't gain any pounds. It took me most of a week to finish off the last of those pies. One hard sugar rush a day...grin

I didn't get to see my children this Christmas. Work has been horribly slow so there was no money in the wallet for that...sniff

New Years was just like the 4th of July here. Cute girlfriend had to work early New Years Day so we went to bed at 9pm and were waken by the firing of canons and fireworks at Midnight. It sounded like the shelling of Fort Sumter. It is funny how the people in the crappy trailer park down the street can't afford to put paint on their homes but can afford hundreds of dollars of fireworks...sigh

I'm ready for 2014 maybe a better job will come my way. I have a lot of applications out right now.

One last thing. In October of 2012 on a joke I started a story for the cute girlfriend. It was suppose to be a couple of pages and be ready for the 2012 Christmas season. It took me well over a year and 84,000 words but I finished what now can be called a Novel for my girlfriend on January 5th 2014. Seeing as I haven't written anything like this before and never did well in college composition I have a lot of correcting to do now on my story to get rid of the bad grammar and run on sentences. For those of you that have read my posts here I'm sure understand what I'm talking about....lol

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