As any parent will probably recall those words wafting on the ether as the clock chimes 3 in the morning
heralding the presence of Santa ! Yes, you had better remembered to drink the glass of sherry, leave a few
crumbs where the mince pies had been and ensured the dog had eaten a chunk off the reindeer’s carrot.

Well now the bedlam starts, not even chance to get a coffee, or light the fire, as feverish fingers rip through
carefully and well thought wrapping……. but this is Christmas morning. Very soon I must restrain myself
from unwrapping any more….. I’m sorry it never gets old.

Stereo Yule logs blaze

The coffee is on, the fire is lit, and now the sequence can begin. First up the British Government bought
me a NEW pair of Atomic skis, well their pension money did anyway. Brenda got me some NEW Atomic
Live Fit boots so I’m well equipped for this season on the slopes. New shades by Von Zipper (who else ?)
and a good looking Spyder sweater. Not forgetting 2 more year book albums of life’s exploits.

NEW skis from HMG …… thank you

The latest in “foot garages” from Atomic via Brenda 

A Spyder sweater too

A “grapey” set of Von Zippers

2008 & 2009 Year books

Seems as we get older body shape is a’changing, waist size comes and goes, but eventually comfort
takes priority and a bigger size is purchased. By why are my legs getting shorter ? Of course this means
some dumping on ebay and acquisition of replacement goodies.

Brenda is through the “known” items, a NEW ladies alpine ski suit, a NEW Nordic ski outfit and gloves,
a surprise Spyder sweater which she loves……. and the top scoring present for 2013 the two reindeer
I had to drive to Durango to get on Monday.

Brenda’s haul of new ski clothes

…….and this year’s prize winners, the Reindeer

With the tree denuded of presents, time for the round of Ho, Hos on the tellingbone and then some
skyping to see Granddaughter Sophie unwrapping her presents on her third real Christmas. Now its
bird prep time along with my take on stuffing remembering to remove the neck and other giblets I have
no use for in the big scheme of things.

Two bowls, onions, celery and nuts various, pecans, cashews, and walnuts, … Paxo up the front and Mrs
Cuthbertson takes one up the rear for the team. Remainder in balls for later munching when cold.

Get stuffing

Balls to the stuffing

“Ready for some tanning bird ?”

1000, bird finished, bagged and ready to go in at 1200 and table ready for 1500. Dangerous cocktails
ready (limit 4) and sugar cubes dissolving in the brandy.

The “DC’s” ….. limit 4 !

……from the inside as the brandy attacks the sugar cube

Vegetables out and first up is the bullet hard swede and after peeling and chopping into small cubes its
off for about 1 hours worth of boiling in order to mash.

“WOW ! just look at the cleavage on that Swede”

Potatoes and parsnip, (damn they smell good) have their own private pot and will be par boiled before
roasting for that crisp exterior and lovely fluffy inside.

Sprouts, leeks and carrots are given their own vessel too and await their start time which only leaves the
sweet corn which is only a two minute affair while the bird is resting.

Swedes a’boiling

The eating hour draws near, vegetables are going well, the swede has been beaten to death, is well
buttered and seasoned, various gravies are simmering quietly and the bird is brought out for resting. Silly
hats are on, crackers have been pulled and plates are piled.

Tanned and resting

Carves well

….enjoy     Christmas Luncheon by Chef Tony

It eats as well as it looks and the “annual chef” is well pleased. Having listened to Mother and Aunts and all
manner of old wives tales circa the “bird” I have to say that with planning and org it really is a very simple
meal to get right……… however my attempt at the Christmas cake leaves a lot to be desired. I can almost
see and hear Sir David Attenborough doing a documentary on this one with baffled droning voice explaining
man’s early efforts to preserve his treasured fruit cake.

” The Christmas Cake has been one of those fabled artifacts that has baffled mankind through the
ages, ………… was it some left over ritual from the harvest supper, as early man sought to preserve
his bounty of fruit ?    ……… was it decorated to appease the Gods ? ……. did the bullet hard icing
serve in some way as a protective barrier against foraging wild animals coming out of winter
hibernation ? …….. was this man’s first attempt at a door stop ?

Our recent expedition into deepest Colorado discovered some examples of this strange object,
the first presumably as some sort of table decoration, as it was clearly inedible, …… another acting
as a wheel “chock” under a motorcycle trailer ……. and further examples have been unearthed in
a little known island off the coast of Europe where they have been secreted in round tin boxes
and wrapped in some sort of parchment or grease proof paper. It seems the female of the form
was given the task of creating this unpalatable lump and further decorating it with twigs and
berries after the “pollyfilla” like substance had sealed it solid. ………  many known examples have
some sort of “bonsai” fir trees, and figurines involved in winter fuel related activities…… others
have polar bears as well although historians are still puzzled as to the significance of this animal
as it relates to fruit cake….. if indeed that is what it was.  Theories abound that this wicked device
was indeed to stave off polar bear attacks as it would surely have ruined or broken their teeth,
….and if swallowed the high alcohol levels would have the bewildered creature wandering into
deep crevasses to its final demise.

A local guide took me to the site where a polar bear had encountered a lump of this cake and
had perished amid broken teeth and shattered icing. A devilish device to be sure!”

The Christmas Cake,  …… ancient weapon or food source ?

The two Attenborough brothers swop a few yarns from their Colorado adventure on the BA London bound
from Denver

“………. and then they even asked us if WE wanted to try a piece !!!!”

We wish our explorers well and a safe flight, and now settle down to Christmas night with a blazing yule
glow as lights across the valley come on once more.

“…..and to ALL a good night.”






2013 the year of the Snowman

As the year comes to a close, school bus driving ends today, the decorations are up and the lighting prize
was won once more. Now time to sit back and enjoy, what is for me, one of the best times of the year. A bit
of pool to crack the weekend off, after a few bulb changes in the light display, and perhaps a few less GT’s
to ensure I make it to nightfall !

A couple of our local ladies will be playing their Sonny & Cher numbers at the Hollywood as the pool final
competition finishes and onward for a couple of hours. Tomorrow we are getting a pool table light hung over
ours in the morning after which I shall be off collecting all the goodies for my cook duties on Wednesday. All the normal fare of Turkey, a spiral ham, fresh potatoes, sprouts, leeks, swede, parsnips and some stuffing
extras. Sunday night the Brewpub has its private party with ugly Christmas sweaters ……. and I have mine!!!

Pool and Ugly Sweaters

That should take care of the weekend and after one last real surprise present it will be wrapping time and
perhaps a tour of the local area to see some of the light displays and other people’s hard work. Of course
there will be a ton of Hallmark movies with all the old tear jerkers. Seen Christmas Vacation, need White
Christmas and A Wonderful Life then I’m good to go on some new ones in the Witch series or Debbie
McCumber does Christmas.

Saturday came and went, light bulbs replaced where the trash collector had flipped the dumpster and
broken some bulbs, so an easy fix there. Logs a’plenty and onto the pool. We don’t do too well but with the
main game finished they want to play 3 ball. 12 players shoot at 3 balls and the best score wins …. unless
there is a tie when all pay again and further rounds are completed until an eventual winner gets the low
score. 2 rounds nearly done and all equal, until Brenda sinks 2 balls off the break and gently pots the last
for a guaranteed winning score of 2 !! 2 more rounds and I’m last to shoot, nothing off the break but a
good chance and I get a double and then the single for the win. We are well pleased.

Sunday then, time to gird the loins once more and go Turkey & Hog hunting at Safeway. Handy man does
not make it, but at least he calls, so I’m off into town and as far as I can see I have all I need for the annual
cooking spectacular. Small impulse purchase here.

An impulse purchase

A little football to close out the morning and then my first ever attempt at icing a Christmas cake ! I hope
it will be similar to what I remember.

Icing first attempt

Sunday night a private party at the Brewpub and Brenda gets a couple of unexpected surprises and an
excellent bonus for all her hard work. The party is for employees and invited customers and the dreaded
kareokee features heavily. Good food and free beer on tap! Being Christmas I’m into the stout with tons of memories of how I used to do Christmas shopping, and always on Christmas Eve. With dining complete it
starts to degenerate as the booze flows and bar dancing begins.

Brewpub owner Mark, welcomes one and all

Mark leads off with his rendition of “Hot Hot Hot”

Brenda gets the bar dancing started

How strong is your bar top ?

Ugly sweaters by “Croft & Barrow”

Monday and the game plan post dog walking is the 50 mile run to Durango to pick up a surprise present
to go under the tree as everything else in this day and age is a “known” gift as its been sourced and
purchased through the internet. The single present becomes two, well it is Christmas after all. On time,
an afternoon of wrapping and relisting some ebay stuff. The presents are wrapped and offered to the tree
in some pagan ritual.

The Pagans offer gifts to the tree

Now time for a run around Cortez to see others endeavors at the lighting game including all the ones I
drive by in the School Bus. Like most things they seem to go in batches and you can suddenly come
across a side street where the inhabitants have all tried to out do each other. Here are a couple of “our”

While shooting a couple of these I saw a nativity scene down the road with the classic stuffed animals
standing in the lights so ventured down for a few shots. Got one hell of a surprise when they moved!

Yikes !!! these things areal !

Time to move on to the scene of the Christmas Massacre that I pass every morning on my Middle and
High School run. Always makes me chuckle as I see the carnage of dead Santas, elves, polar bears
and others and their lifeless corpses face down in the snow or collapsed on the roof having been
deprived of their source of air.

Dead Santas abound in dawn’s early light

A different story by night

With Cortez behind us back to Dolores for some side street viewing in the residential department who have
their own competition. All the normal standard stuff but a couple that catch the eye are the use of real trees

A near perfect outside tree

Egg Nog time and some of that tasty spiral ham and with blazing fire settle down for Hallmark’s best films.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter

Santa takes a nasty “5” trying too hard for a dab !





The scene of another Yuletide Massacre…… a drive by shooting by the
anti “Merry Christmas” brigade…. corpses of Santa, elves, snowmen and
polar bears litter the front yard

” …….its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas……” here we go again, Thanksgiving over, still full of turkey and
the decorating ritual begins! I’m also reminded that “We have lost a week already” as the 28th Nov was the
last possible date for Thanksgiving….. so it will be boxes galore this morning, the new tree, my stars to hang
and the ever growing light display to crack on with…… yes, I’m under pressure! Now add in the birthday girl
wants to go out tonight, pool at the Hollywood tomorrow and Sunday in Mancos.

The day starts well enough with the loft ritual of upstairs boxes and some of the upper balcony lights. The
new tree comes up from downstairs and is opened and its crap! This means a trip to Walmart for a quick
replacement… not exactly what we wanted but it will do. Decorating begins while I have a few setbacks on
the new star projects. The tails are too big! More work on this required so hop to it.

Boxes for everything

Need to put lights on these wreaths

Brenda decides she doesn’t like either of the new trees so the old fiber optic reappears from the loft and
gets a full tune up which takes all day. Meanwhile my Sunday is spent outside in the freezing cold playing
with the stars and getting them up in the trees. By nightfall they are done and are test fired and m’lady likes
them so having wired up the wreaths with new LED I’m about two days behind in the big scheme of things.

Tree No 2 is decorated ……. but she doesn’t like it !

Old faithful is recalled from the loft

The week goes from bad to worse with some bitterly cold weather and a fresh fall of snow. Bus driving is
hazardous to say the least but we press on as there are NO SNOW DAYS in Cortez!! With delayed runs
in the morning my home time is down to 3 hours a day tops and working outside with the staple gun is not
pleasant ! By Friday the outside of the house is done and all that remains is the front lawn and now more
pressure as it MUST be completed before the pool competition and the onset of a winter storm which
could dump a foot if their forecast is correct. With numbed fingers the timers are set, the cords are given
one last check and if Clarke Griswold has it right they should all be on when we come home.

It snows, the lights come on, and it continues snowing all night and all Sunday morning.

It works !

2 weeks left of school bus driving and now it has got really cold! Monday morning as I leave at o’dark thirty
its -4F or -20C in new money. The bus starts but won’t do much else and then shuts down with a CHK
ENG light. No spares as many others refuse to start point blank. It gets marginally warmer, well out of the
minus numbers, and the rest of the week hovers around zero.

Bus gets a mini dec

Judgment day is Friday when the Chamber of Commerce tours the town and awards the prizes. It does
seem that some years they give first timers the prize for effort rather than the total effect…… we will see
how it goes this year. Another player at the coffee shop had a pretty good display but was clearly sand-
bagging until Friday and then went all out in an attempt to snatch the trophy….. but as the results are now
in the “Cozy Comfort” wins again! Must have been the new shooting stars. Lets review the light spectacular
and see what might have caught the judges eye.

Deers drinking at the waterfall, new shooting stars

For the redneck…… the shivering polar bear

Front of house with the new lit wreaths

Another shooting star up the Cozy sign

New lights on the mini conifers in the front bed