CHRISTMAS 2016

DSCN1906

The “White” Christmas

4″ on the rail this morning and a fair bit of devastation to the display. Frosty took another hit along with 2 deer and a couple of Santakins and the sleigh had a rough time too with another battering. Lights out on a deer and the polar bear is on his side. Well, peeps, no help from me today as its still snowing, mighty cold and pretty windy.

Time for the fire and the new yule log picture on channel 565 to give us fires in stereo. This one has puppies and kittens.

DSCN1907

Stereo log fires

Breakfast with sticky cinnamon rolls and then presents…… and the phone calls begin. woweeee! its gone midday and no cooking moves have been made.

DSCN1905

Brenda salts and peppers the beef into submission while I peel potatoes, parsnips, and my once a year favorite “the bullet hard swede”. Carrots, leeks and sprouts are all prepped for the off so now time for a Christmas cocktail.

DSCN1908

Veggies up and ready …… swede on the rolling boil and parsnips and potatoes finishing their parboil before roasting

DSCN1909

Stand back! Its Christmas cocktail time

Attention to detail pays off with regular basting and core temp checking on the super beef. Circa 1600 we are ready to eat and have a glass of Phil’s v, expensive wine. The bottle goes well in our new bottle holder.

DSCN1910

What a gorgeous lump and roasting veggies

DSCN1911

and roasting sprouts too

DSCN1912

……. and now the carving and the eating. For me, I always love the better done “End Cut” with all the salt and juicy fatty bits.

DSCN1913

Now that’s a meal!

 

TONY DOWN

GUESS WHAT ? …. IT’S SNOWING AGAIN!

night-driving-in-winter-with-light-snow-on-the-road_v1ebzlqrl__S0000

A few warming days with temps up around 47F and slush and mush everywhere. This morning, raining and dreary but now its changed to snow so fingers crossed as we are picking up Brenda’s son Phil from Durango at 2130 tonight!

Well, all’s well on the Christmas decoration front and now it’s time to ENJOY whatever the holiday has in store. On the weather front two major storms will hit us, the first tonight, dropping a foot or more at Telluride and about 4″ for us in Dolores. A brief spell of sunshine on Friday (our planned ski day)  and then another 4″ + on Christmas Eve (night) and another 2″ on Christmas morning.

The day goes reasonably well with a trip into town to pick up Phil’s rental skis and some bits and bobs at Walmart for pies and cookies. Back home some festive cooking is under way and after normal lumberjack duties I can finally get on with some wrapping. Doesn’t last long as I will run out of sticky tape before I get into it so another run for supplies to the dollar store, don’t forget the brandy and champagne,  ….. oooh, and a quick look in the Flying Pig just in case!

Christmas presents wrapped, my skills seem to be going downhill, as I used to be pretty good at this task and quick too!

DSCN1904

2000, and all aboard for Durango and for the most part the roads are just wet with bits of slush to add to the fun. The weather goes as per the forecast and my own predictions as we head for the airport. A fresh fall of a couple of inches as we pass Summit Lake, bit slippy here but on we go. More snow as we crest Mancos Hill and a bit of fog coming down the other side. More snow and fog approaching Hesparus and tandem snow plows coming up the hill from Durango. Roads are mostly clear in Durango but are very poorly lit (need more street lights people). 15 mins out from the airport and Phil texts to say he has landed.

10

2130 we are at the airport and find Phil in baggage claim which ALWAYS seems to be the WEAK LINK in the system here as they are always short of baggage handlers and on one visit to pick up Brenda we waited 40 mins while the handler went on BREAK!!

2200 and we are on our way and hit the edge of tonight’s storm. More snow, loads of slush, fog and generally poor street lighting making everything worse.

snowstorm

Up the hill and it starts as we move into the asteroid belt and it sure is coming down! More fog for the topping on the fun cake and conditions are awful all the way back to Mancos where we get a brief respite until Summit when it starts again.

VertigoSnow_photo-NeilProvo

b463f9c47c46abb99f5adeb260a31d587b58f6e190904844e2aea2ddcd15f66e

Slowly and safely make the top of the hill into Dolores and say hello to a bunch of deer just standing by the road. Home around 2330 and I for one am off to bed!

Friday, the planned ski day, lots of fresh white stuff but very wet and slushy. Plows have done a great job on the roads so if we can get it together then Telluride it shall be! A lot later than planned we are on the slopes and the weather has changed again and we now have a superb “Bluebird Day”, no clouds, no wind, …….. just perfect and of course tons of new snow.

15542408_10100812061115169_4989482118902346504_n

Saturday, Christmas Eve, and its blowing a gale again ahead of the next storm. Not so good on the pool tables today but never mind its Christmas.

15727283_10209541056738178_1153217109838003881_n

Christmas morning and indeed the forecast storm has been through leaving another 3-4″ on the rail and maybe some more to come. Be thankful, plenty of wood to burn and food and drink a’plenty.

 

TONY DOWN

RECTIFYING THE DISPLAY

 

15253613_836541469822244_2172228989365782660_n

Santa suffers a spot of bother during the storm

de8fd7833f3cdec42c48df764a5dfd14

Always loved this card my son sent me ….. sums it up nicely!

Slightly warmer and coming back the other side of freezing for the next few days so work begins on rebuilding the Christmas display after the ravages of last weekend’s storm.

DSCN1882

Scuffy and crew take a hit for the team

DSCN1880

But the crew stay at their posts

DSCN1878

Doorman Frosty took a beating too!

Another timer had to be bought and is now up and running. The boat and occupants got a “brushing” to remove the snow, and the ice over the hull was chipped away like Deadliest Catch! All members of the Santakins family are still moving and are back in situ.

Up the maple tree the Meteor lights clearly do NOT LIKE being blasted by rain and fierce winds and 4 sets of the 8 have given up the ghost.Two sets with bayonet connectors were saved but one is toast and the other I haven’t been able to reach as yet.

Poor Goofy got soaked by the rain on Friday night and then swept overboard by the gale force winds. His body is on the rocks which he is currently frozen to.

DSCN1883

Once I get outside finished, downstairs needs it’s seasonal décor which I still haven’t got to. I did tart it up a bit last year with some super decorations from the 4 Seasons Nursery post Christmas sale where upmarket decorations are for sale with 75% off.

If I get all that done today, which will make me very happy, then I need to rewire some lights on our 2 balcony items of Reindeer and Angel which we first put up on Christmas 2005. The newer LEDs are SO much brighter I think it will be worth the effort.

Outside got finished!! Goofy had to be heat gunned off the rocks and is now in intensive care in the tumble dryer. He should be up and about in a day or two. Just a few ornaments to recover that are buried in the snow.

DSCN1892

Goofy back on duty

DSCN1893

Maple gets extra lights

DSCN1889

Nice!!

Downstairs day today, hallway and the “Yoga room”…… shouldn’t take too long.

DSCN1894

DSCN1900

DSCN1901

DSCN1902

Now to transform the bleakness of the office hallway into yet more of Santa’s hideaways. Two garlands to go up, Bambi and Harley need that yuletide cheer and see what’s left over in the decoration boxes.

DSCN1895

DSCN1897

Harley joins in

DSCN1896

Bambi always looks good ……… but this sometimes doesn’t go down well with overnight visitors!

15578641_834989303310794_6837670246684910842_n

A good day was had! Brenda got her work bonus that she thought was not coming, her hearing aids for the dreaded tinnitus have been approved, I got downstairs finished.

After Brenda’s vicious attack by the dog last summer one of Santa’s reindeer is on hand to deal with miscreants.

christmas toons photostricks_blogspot_com 4

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ……. FINAL

15589828_836134626529595_950777622384198252_n

The last day of school and the arrival of perhaps the most vicious storm I have seen in Colorado. Wet and unpleasant all morning and about 2″ of wet snow on the company car for the 0530 drive to work.

Wet and miserable but warmish at around the 45F mark but by mid afternoon its much cooler and the wind picks up with gusts to 45 mph.  By the time I’m driving home the rain has increased dramatically and as I drive into Cozy decorations and lights are taking a monumental battering and its not looking good at all! The rain is crashing into the windows, branches are bending, lights are on and off ….. I can’t bear to watch! The rain changes to snow and by morning we have 4″ on the rail. Scuffy has taken a few direct hits, but Santa is still at the helm. Crew members still on deck have fallen under the weight of snow and a polar bear and reindeer are on their sides. Looks like some electrical timers are frozen shut.

However, here are some pictures of this year’s efforts prior to the storm and the rest will re recovered today as the sun warms things up.

DSCN1840

First the front beds and the deer by the Waterfalls

DSCN1841

More of the brighter LED lights on the front bed trees this year

DSCN1842

Different angle

DSCN1846

NEW passengers in the sleigh

DSCN1851

More NEW LEDs for the rose bed

DSCN1835

Frosty at the front door

DSCN1837

The popular shooting stars I made!

DSCN1849

The other side ……. and how did he get all those green and blue lights up that tree?

DSCN1836

Home

DSCN1850

Its the Maple Tree

DSCN1854

“Joy to the World”

 

………and now lets see what is happening at the dock. The crew are ready to board, the presents have been loaded, engines checked, lists gone over and GPS coordinates logged in.

DSCN1856

Idling Wake from the powerful Mercury engine

DSCN1859

Presents loaded and patrolled by the dog

DSCN1857

Crew “Santakins” ready to cast off

DSCN1862

First Mate says “Ready to cast off”

DSCN1863

Captain Santa powers up

DSCN1870

” HO  HO  HO  GO!

DSCN1864

Scuffy plows through the waves

DSCN1866

“Twas a cold winter’s night ……. “

Front beds were all completed back after Thanksgiving, the house and finally the NEW sections of the Maple Tree, took another 8 days of work in the cold. 2 more days to load and complete the boat.

15541466_10157873680705257_4625399476873654866_n

A well-wishers photo

Well after all that, and in excess of another $500 of lights and decorations, we achieved a slap in the face SECOND PLACE as the school children that frequent the coffee shop were this year’s Judges. What a great idea that was!!! Well done indeed Chamber of Commerce to let  children decide what business should be!! All flashing lights to music with Darth Vader and friends ……. well in the spirit of this time of the year don’t let the single digit upset you for it is given freely !!!

…..and here is a little yuletide song by my doggie friend composed for the Chamber or is it chamber pot?

15589772_835318286611229_7433618640450184034_n

 

TONY DOWN   

THOSE LIGHTS …… THE END IS NIGH

12311185_748263211995177_5509285921051494176_n

After Saturdays “double” success on the pool table and good work on the lights on Sunday the weather changes again and now its even colder and 4″ of snow on the rail as I start back to work for the last 3 weeks of driving in 2016.

DSCN1826

NEW for 2016, the Advent Tree

A crisp wind to chill the marrow and of course the seasonal batch of idiots out driving in the snow! Tailgating, FULL beam on the headlights, or NO lights at all!! Talking lights Brenda is working overtime on tree and garlands.

DSCN1831

DSCN1832

Just love these ornaments

The weather was so unpleasant that virtually nothing got done outside until Friday when “Front of House” got the twirlers up the poles and the first row of ice lights. Today not much happening as it snowed again last night but seems to be melting quickly. Well, its Saturday again and after Brenda’s excellent performance last week she wants to go for a second helping of the “Pool” pie!

Quick visit to the Community Center for their Christmas wares sale and a few odd ball purchases. Home and get ready for pool. Practice session goes reasonably well and the fun begins with 18 players.

DSCN1833

DSCN1834

A couple of goodies from the craft fair

Eventually Brenda and I meet on the winners side and this week I win and things are looking pretty good in my 3rd match as I’m on the black and 6 balls up! I can’t believe how every time I get back to the table I’m completely “snookered”. I never do get a chance at a decent shot and from 6 balls up I get beaten!!

12313925_1006460216079754_7364915609446452619_n

On the loser’s bench, and now I seem to be in constant play mode and another 3 wins I find myself in 3rd or better against Jerry. A win here and now play the owner and birthday boy, Garry. I win the first game and the second goes all the way to the black with Garry winning. Again I can’t complain with another 2nd place .

Well its Sunday on the lights, and this just might be my last year EVER as some people have made it quite clear as to their priorities. It’s even down to a judging panel of school children (thanks Chamber of Commerce!) who will no doubt be looking for flashing things, music, star wars characters and all the “Non Christmas” crap I don’t have.

DSCN1823

DSCN1824

DSCN1829

Sorry Dolores, WE like traditional, and just maybe we use a Judging panel of members of the Chamber of Commerce!!

I’m afraid Ultimatums and Christmas do not go together in my book so next year I’ll sit by the fire and watch the many Hallmark movies. It was fun over the years but this is it and if people screw with MY deadlines and planning then they can DO IT THEMSELVES. Definitely the end of this, rather like the Escalante 2 Day Trials.

Last shooting star hauled up and the final 2 rows of ice lights. Now all the cables and timers upstairs and down. Finally by 5 its all done for the day and now time to adjust timers and check their on/off functions. All looks good, save for a missing bulb on one strand which put a section out and the last shooting star may have the same problem.

Missing bulb replaced, loose wire reconnected, and 12 dead bulbs replaced in strings various. House done! Next up the Maple tree and Scuffy as the “NEW” addition for 2016.

Last year I bought some globes, which light up an internal and changing light sequence. Problem here is the batteries are expensive and don’t last that long. Now the question is….. “Is it possible to change over to mains power?” A standard cell phone charger reduces the 115 down to around 5 so I acquired 3 chargers for defunct cell phones and wired them in ….. yep! they work perfectly.

DSCN1850

Now on Mains power

I took Friday afternoon off to try and finish the lighting, added a few extra bits, sorted out the Lasers from last year and strung the red and white main lights on Scuffy. Bells, balls, tree toppers all rigged and now waiting for my “elf” who will leap around the tree for me on Sunday.

Saturday again, another Christmas wares sale at the Brewery and yet more pool. Pool starts badly with Lauren nearly running the table on me but I fight back from my first loss and march up the loser’s board and end up taking another well deserved 3rd place.

Sunday and into the last week of driving and also the “Light Contest” so flat out to achieve the goals that have been set. Elf arrives and 90 minutes later all lights are up with the extra tree toppers and 4 more strings of falling ice lights.

IMG_2350

Into the last week of 2016 driving

Monday and a few changes to positions, some extra lights, and the purchase of the 3 spot lights to illuminate Santa and friends. By Tuesday everything is in place and looks good! …… but just like last year there is always a sting in the tail! A huge storm rolls in and it rains all day Friday and about mid afternoon the winds increase to about 45 mph.

I’m into my last 2 miles with the last 3 passengers, when rounding the bend from CR20 and onto CR U, there is something strange ahead in the dusk as the headlights are having trouble with the transition from daylight to night. ………. better radio this one in!

the-goat-herd-1862

“While Shepherds watched their flocks by night etc etc”

“Base this is 43”

“43 go ahead”

“Base ……  Sadly…… I must report that the Shepherds have NOT been watching their flock! …… there are about 50 goats racing down the road in front of me at 15 mph heading to Highway 491….. Due to the rain and cloud cover I’m afraid  I’m unable to determine if there is a NEW STAR in the East”!!!

herd of goats on the road, Aveyron, Midi Pyrenees, France

By the time I get back from my last drive it is not at all nice. As I drive through the town I notice several displays are NOT working at all, and our main competitor only has 1/2 of his lit up.

The wind is wreaking havoc in the maple tree, with lights out, spot lights on the move and the shivering polar bear taking the battering of his life. The rain hammers into the windows and lights are being blown in all directions. By bedtime it has changed to SNOW but the wind is still  blowing.

Saturday and the chill factor is horrendous, no repairs will be undertaken today! Pool as usual and I finish in 4th which considering how badly I thought I was playing can’t be all bad.

Sunday and no change in the bitter cold!

 

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – THE BEGINING

15056349_10209209108119670_6831390760958982094_n

The site has been made ready, the additions purchased and on their way so now it begins! HO, HO, HO!

By dawn’s early light its dreary and wet and the forecast is a 100% chance of rain turning to snow tonight so there won’t be too much in the layout department and I’ll be reverting to the “Wet Weather Program”. The weather followed the forecast to the letter and poured down with rain all day culminating in a thunderstorm at 4 in the afternoon and then a massive blizzard which covered the wet road and puddles and within 15 mins everything was solid snow!

DSCN1785

DSCN1786

Not what I wanted ……. yet!

Needless to say the day did not go as planned on the decorators work sheet but some more essential jobs were completed and I’ll be moving forward this afternoon as its all in full melt mode at the moment.

The Gazebo needs to come down and garden furniture moved out of the way before falling snow smashes it beyond recognition.

The boiler room where much of the outside soft furnishings are stored over winter was a complete tip so after rewiring the light work began in earnest. Everything out, mega throw away with all the section begins and ends boards that I made for the Escalante 2 Day Trials. Won’t be needing those anymore! Lots of gardening pots get the heave-ho and now I’m ready to clean everything. The room has been a magnet for spiders and the yearly cottonwood fluff that sticks to anything it touches. All the furniture cushions are now safely stacked and stored for winter.

Outside the two electrical trenches were dug ready for cables tomorrow, and finally the workshop was changed and handed over to Santa. First boxes brought forward, bikes pushed back for the season, and the big ladder in place, ready to unload the loft tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile the lighted gift boxes arrived along with the new Scuffy driver all ahead of their delivery estimates!

DSCN1807

The NEW Driver

Wednesday morning and the loft treasures come down and with the aid of many zip ties they are restored and checked over for the 2016 season. All in place, now the trenches are cleaned after passing visitors had filled them in again! Cables laid and buried.  Hopefully out of harms way from the snow plow.

Well, here we are on Thanksgiving morning. Todays tasks, other than gobbling the Gobbler and drinking copious numbers of champagne cocktails is connecting cables and checking lights. The front bed and waterfall area will take priority. At this stage I feel as though I’m about 2 days behind schedule but I could catch up if I get a break and things come together.

Last remaining boxes of goodies down from the workshop loft, lights repaired and ready to go, the shivering polar bear up and working, a quick ride on the bike for a can of yams (not trials) and a quickie 1.52 in the book after a week off …… now up to 2031.22 and still alive.

After the “Feast of the Pass Out” and much giving of thanks, the body said that’s enough and I retired to bed. OK, Friday then, a new full day for me and now its “Internal” and all the new stuff from up in the loft. More and more every year but, hey its Christmas!

DSCN1808

Once its all down Brenda will be on the tree and inside while I persist with outside and Christmas lights. Still a load more to find but I suspect they are in the office.

Complete chaos inside as boxes are opened, more lights checked and laid out. Front bed, rose bed and waterfalls all cabled up and working! Now I need to move on to “front of house” with ice lights down the fences, shooting stars, and the spirals around the five pillars. A quick check of the weather and the forecast is 6″ of snow over the weekend!!

DSCN1809

Early morning repairs to more strings of lights but all done and ready to be put up. Too much stuff on the pool table so an early arrival at the Riverfront for some practice. Brenda has been on a roll the last couple of weeks and her game has improved a lot. Practice was no different and we were both playing pretty well.

The competition with 24 players begins and we are both going well with 3 wins a piece. With this number of players you need 4 wins to get in the money and 5 to get to the final. Brenda and I play each other for our 4th round and although I’m first on the black it rattles in the jaws and stays up! Brenda wins!!

Being on the loser’s bench I have to play Bob and then Tom and with 2 wins here  means I’m now in 3rd or better and must play the loser of Brenda’s 5th round match which will be either Brenda or Lauren who are both undefeated. Brenda wins again!  …… I now play Lauren and once again I’m first to the black but can’t make a huge cut. Lauren cleans up and now meets Brenda in the final. It’s certainly her day and she wins AGAIN!! 6 wins, no losses and FIRST EVER 1st Place. ……. and I can’t complain with another 3rd place and 2 winning chances  in my 2 losses.

Sunday, my last day of the Thanksgiving Break, which seems to have gone in a flash! Weather less than pleasant this morning but I’ll try for some outside work but its less than friendly! Several repairs to strings of lights but finally all working as they should. Put up the strings along the fences BUT,  the brain isn’t working in the bitter cold, and find I’ve been going the wrong way and now have socket to socket! Take it down and do it correctly.

Monday and snowing and very, very cold. No outside work for me, other than log splitting, and a double hip transplant for our NEW Santa as his legs are not working and he can’t do the samba!

DSCN1815

Santa looks shocked when I tell him its a “double leg job”

DSCN1814

The patient in the “ER”

DSCN1813

It’s Serious!

Due to the timeframe and the task in hand after a discussion with Kris Kringle  a double “Legoctomy” was necessary but he should be up and about in a few days

DSCN1817

Much better

…….. and at Christmas we always have nuts…… and here is one!

DSCN1805

 

TONY DOWN