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DIGGING OUT

Sorry Ruddie, I’ve been asked to switch them off

Sunday 20 Jan, Christmas is now officially over, and the lights are out! A lot of melting going on today but in order to get at some areas I had to dig out the tool shed and the workshop.

Some of my helpers are leaving

With the tool shed dug out I had access to the long pole to get the shooting stars down from the trees. All the ice lights for the Boat House and Shade Garden are now down along with the Maple Tree star.

Next thing to do between playoff games is to get some of my furry friends in and let them dry out before I can put them away. Still over the one foot mark in the front beds so this section will take some time before I can get all the connectors and cables out as they are iced in! …… and the forecast is for another 4″ on Monday.

Interesting walking over the 1 foot deep snow in the front bed area as it had a frozen crust and it was like snowshoeing in places. Several soft friends collected and then dried.

Balcony done!

Upstairs all the balcony rail figurines taken down along with the 3 wreaths. Monday will be the last shooting star and ALL remaining house lights.

Lunchtime and all the balcony and upper frontage lights down and boxed along with all the power cables …… just the lower balcony and the LED lights up the balcony poles ….. its getting COLDER as I work and feels like the forecast snow is just around the corner as that evil cold wind picks up.

Big burst of snow, turning into a blizzard, with resort size flakes which are now settling …… and more to come tonight. It continues to snow for most of the afternoon and then as we drop below freezing it starts to pile up and another 3″ are on the rail.

Today, the temps stay below freezing and tonight its down to 4F . Different soft of snow to the heavy wet stuff we have been having as this pure powder and the wind is spinning it up.

You may remember the Christmas season was pretty tough on the sleigh and there were several malfunctions….

The sleigh goes in for repairs and Santa and Ruddie go and see how the mechanic is getting on and what it will all cost.

Well never mind, they have it fixed and its duly delivered back to the North pole.

Good luck for 2019

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS EXTENDED

Still snowing!

With constant snow in the forecast and the large dump from last weekend I have NO choice but to extend the Christmas holiday this year as I can’t get at the outside decorations! All buried under about 8″ of the white stuff.

Destroyed by falling avalanche off the roof

Well as a Christmas lover I can continue with the theme. One major snow slide  off the roof destroyed the wiring to the boathouse side Shooting Star and its associated ice lights but the rest are still functional so I’ll keep the lights on until I can see where everything is and I can safely dismantle the show and put it away.

Meanwhile as we move through a snowy January Rudolph is having his annual confidential job report and after all the breaktime chats things are not looking too good.

Let’s see what everyone is saying about YOU!

Looks like there will be plenty of time to review Rudolph’s fate as the current forecast is 3-7″ tonight and then another 2″ tomorrow and then on Thursday night HEAVY SNOW!

Santa begins;   “well Rudolph there have been several incidents of insubordination as we can see here……”

and then in the Kitchen at Christmas lunchtime……..

“Then there was that navigation incident when your comments were not entirely complimentary”

….. and of course your lack of driving skills with reference to the elf community”

……. and then this happens!”

……and if you want to get promoted you need to brush up on your spelling and planning

…… and then there is the subject of personal hygiene

Well the snow keeps coming! The forecast snow for yesterday was only about 3-4″ but it was that very wet slushy stuff and with temps around the 30F its a real mess everywhere. More slides off the roof and digging out of the Men’s room, again, and Hypertherm was covered and collapsed under the weight. Still snowing and another 5″ on its way for tomorrow night.

We get another4″, there may have been more but it came down in blizzard conditions along with tree branches and anything else the wind could move. Another plough out and a bit of a break until the next round early next week.

Santa tells Rudolph he can stay for another year and shows him how he started the business all those years ago.

Of course he’s worth billions now.

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

BACK TO SCHOOL

The mighty Bluebird School Bus

Tuesday 8th Jan and its back to school day and hopefully the start of a melt to get rid of some of the snow. A quick refresher drive on one of the shorter routes as I’m driving this one tomorrow as the lady driver has to take her three kids to the dentist first thing.

Morning run seems to go incident free despite all the snow and ice on the side roads and no Elves were harmed unlike poor Rudolph on one of his Christmas runs.

An afternoon run into Cortez to see the route for a “Special Needs” boy who we take into town. I’ll be driving this one on the 17th when another lady driver needs a day off.

Thursday and a morning and afternoon “drive along” refresher ride in case I need to drive the “Chicken” route in the near future. A couple of activity trips on Friday and next Monday which have a bit more distance and meat on the bones but as I know where the schools are not a lot of time map searching and planning. (Unlike friend Santa)

Rudolph has been in a bit of a depression since the beginning of the Christmas season with identity crisis issues and worrying about zero pay rises and whether the whole deal is viable in 2019. Always a problem when  you work for the government and the Clown has shut it down.  A lot of these chats occur during breaktime and is does seem if this goes on Rudie might get fired as the lead sled man/woman or whatever.

This all starts up on the roof

Continues in the workshop

More heated breaktime chatter

Still more questions …….. could be handled by Amazon next year

Meanwhile, back here in Dolores its Friday and I’m on an activity run to Ridgway this afternoon with some snow showers in the forecast but nothing here at home base.

With the melt going on the Shade Garden and Workshop entrance have taken some heavy hits with the snow almost up to window lines as it continues to slide off the roof with audible “thumps” as it lands.

A LOT  of heavy wet snow and ice from the roof

On the other side of the building I’m on constant call to shovel this heavy wet snow, including a night outing, to rescue our new cabin tenant who was in the Men’s Room when the “crash” was heard! New warning signs are now in place.

Much cutting and shoveling

The signs go up

The activity trip to Ridgway yesterday went more or less as planned on the outbound portion with the snow starting as light rain just after the turn at Telluride. At the bottom of the hill is had become light but steady snow and continued all the way to Ridgway. Forecast was for it to stop about 1600 but it just kept coming and was still falling as we left at 2200. Going through the town I could feel the bus sliding a little on corners and under light braking. Up the Great Divide Pass I have about 6 cars behind me and I’m crawling along at 35 mph and even when we get to the two lane uphill portion nobody wants to overtake.

The slow drive continues all the way to Telluride and onward up and over the Lizard Head pass and down to Rico where eventually it has stopped and the last 30 miles are snow free. Home just after 0100, now that’s another long day!

Saturday morning and the snow (unforecast) is now here in Dolores and we have an inch or so ….. surprise, surprise!

Christmas Eve surprise!!

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACK TO NORMALITY

Saturday 5th January   …. its here again

So soon ?

Always a sad time for me as 12th Night approaches and you know its time to get those decorations down and put back into storage for another year. Being Saturday its pool again so not much happening on the Christmas decs front and the current weather forecast may well become “a delay of game” penalty as we are in for 3″ tonight and another 4″ + tomorrow. Finding electrics and collecting wet items out of 12″ of snow may not be a good or pleasant idea.

Pool went well, after two good wins a black and scratch in game three which I should have seen coming. No matter, an excellent comeback on the losers side with wins over Sam, Marty, Chaz,Terry, Destry, and then Michael for third and better who I had scratched against earlier. Can’t match John today so I finish second for the second time this week! Total winnings $66.50 …. not bad!

The weather forecast was spot on, started to snow just before midnight and still going strong this morning. Looks like inside decorations, upstairs and down, a couple of play off games to watch and officially declaring Christmas 2018 is now OVER.

I found a “boatload of my favorite Reindeer cartoons” on the internet, the first being one from a Christmas card from Edward several years ago which made me laugh.

Just luv’em and the Rudolph looks, got a ton of these so here are a few more ….

Just like hunting for Black Bears

Monday 7 Jan, the storm has passed, it dumped about 10″ of wet snow and is still very cold at midday at only 24F. Just adding a note for myself here as I have just cancelled a free trial which turned out to be a scam and post 18 days from the day I ordered they would be charging me $160 monthly!!!! It was one of those scams claiming it was Shark Tank approved etc, etc……. thanks Brenda.

Loopy Reindeer

As the month moves on we did complete all the “take down” of Christmas decorations, both upstairs and down and they’re all away in the loft for another year. Outside will take awhile as its over the 1 foot mark and needless to say downright dangerous working up a ladder with snow and ice everywhere. Time for a break (kit kat) and here’s one I like but I guess you don’t get Penguin bars in USA which is a favorite UK snack food bar.

Rudolph often has these break time chats with Santa and after the next one changes his opinion of the penguin.

Break time again

There you have it Penguins are  gooooood !

The day continues with a much needed plough out and after a lot of serious thumps as major avalanches off the roof take place I’m in shoveling mode to clear the falls so that people can use the men’s room. Meanwhile Rudolph sets up a stall to make some money from all the extra snow.

Rudolph the entrepreneur

He is also out on the main road playing with a road sign and drumming up some trade for the snowmen

Tuesday and its back to school and a nice sunny day with hopefully some melting so I can get on those outside decs.

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WRAPPING UP 2018

Saturday 29 Dec, last part of the year seems to have gone very quickly? It has to be said I’ve been a bit “off” since the end of October and not 100% sure what the problem is, it could be the remnants of my last cold, as since then I’ve been short of breath again, feeling congested, and bloated and very uncomfortable sleeping and sitting, exactly like the first dose of pneumonia I got back in 2015.

Well I’m thinking another dose of the Nutrisystem Diet is coming in the near future, I did it back in 2016 and got down to 195 and I think despite all the cycling I’ve put about 10 lbs back on.

Talking cycling, just before Christmas I thought I might get out there and knock off a few more miles, but it was not to be with the  awful cold and miserable conditions.

Lunchtime on New Year’s Eve and I have 4″ on the rail and the forecast is about 10 more to come!! So without more ado I can safely say I will not be venturing out on snow packed roads with a temp of 17F !!!!

Not all gloom, as the 3 year cycling total now stands at;

2016               2031.22 miles

2017              3602.09  miles

2018               4644.30  miles

TOTAL      10,277.61 miles @ 7000′  Still a fair way to go to the finishing line at 24,902  !

Nice big fire required to deal with all this, better invite Snoopy in

They like it

Well the snow kept coming and we ended up with 8″ on the rail and about 12″ overall. We were ploughed out again yesterday and eventually the snow stopped around 1900.

Plenty of NOG

Can’t remember when I’ve ever been this bored in my life as with nobody to talk to life becomes very dull. New Year’s Eve night I could not sleep at all and had to get up and watch Hallmark movies and the snow which was incessant. Last night wasn’t much better and I woke up at 0500 and very cold. House heating on, coffee in cup and relight the fire as the temp is  -6F, now that’s cold, very COLD !

Major problems of the New Year become evident the moment I have a look at my bank account ……. my UK Old Age Pension did not get paid ????? in December. This is a 4 week pension (you get paid 13 times a year) and it was due when the bank account was having problems with the new debit cards which were not working and the account went into a “hold” status…… and as I know NOW, that not only means you can’t get money out, but you can’t get it in EITHER!

Today was my second day struggling with this one but fortunately the good people at the UK Pension Center traced my  money and it had been returned.  They will pay it again TODAY!

Yesterday was my last day of the “Cabin Fever” as Brenda will be back this evening and I shall be joyously pleased to see her and have someone to talk to. Being Wednesday I walked down to the pool competition and sailed through to a good second place and $28.00 prize money. That took until 2230 as we had 16 players.

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

BOXING DAY

 

December 26th or Boxing Day going back to when Christmas was a fully religious day and Boxing Day was the day when boxes, or presents were traditionally opened and the landed gentry rode to hounds!

My early memories of the festive season were always Christmas at Auntie Glad and Uncle Tom’s, then everybody crowding round the 9″ TV with the 3″ magnifier, for the Queen’s speech and the cold ride home and getting ready for Boxing Day at my Godmother’s, Auntie Madge.

Circa 1956 the whole  family watching

Maybe 1959?

Later in life Boxing Day was always a local trial and super fun in the snow up on Jumping Downs where the Barham Club ran most of its Trials.

1962 on the Greeves Scottish 9E, Beatles Hat and snow

1964 on the Square Barrel Greeves TES just before I joined the RAF for Officer Training

Later still in the 80’s it was a pheasant shoot somewhere in or around my RAF base and again a load of fun and  great walk round with all the friendly farmers and loopy gundogs.

Classic Lincolnshire Pheasant

Well that was back then, since moving to the USA in 1995 its either been working, as in Phoenix, or more latterly skiing up at Telluride our local resort.

The Dynamic Duo at Telluride

Telluride with Phil

Bluebird Day in Telluride

However this week the weather is not so friendly with the big dump on Christmas Night and a bit of a plough out today before some 9 Ball pool.

Yesterday was mainly clear in the morning but then the next winter storm arrived around 1600 and by bedtime there was about an inch on the rail with a forecast of 2″. We got the 2″ by dawn and today the forecast is 1-3″ and we already have one!

Brenda is off to see Phil in LA again to complete one of her bucket list items, which is the Rose Parade in Pasadena. She is leaving this afternoon from Cortez on a small but comfortable aircraft and goes to LA via Denver. At the moment we can’t get hold of the airline or the airport to see if the flight is on and if the runway is open ?

Later we get the call that it IS on but delayed 1 hour. Plenty of time in the Denver layover so all should be well. I’m back home about 1615 and the temp is already down to 20F. Hypertherm  dragged out of the snow and brushed off before evening light up. Fire lit, plenty of checks on the traveler and before 2200 I get the call saying she has arrived safely and enjoyed the flight.

YYEEESSSS! it really is THAT cold!

3F at bedtime! and the same this morning but now the sun is up its crested 8F. Going to be a COLD, VERY COLD few days and I’ll be watching a fair bit of TV !

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS DAY

 

Here we are again, Christmas morning 2018. Forecast to snow this afternoon and night and  through most of Boxing Day tomorrow bringing about 7″ of snow ….. we will see.

The weather as it is now

As it will be!

Almost time to prep the vegetables, and then if time permits maybe I’ll try for 5 miles on the bicycle as I haven’t been on it for over a month!

Vegetables prepped, swede done and mashed, parboiling of parsnips and spuds done and the lucky ones set aside for roasting. More wood chopped ready for the snowstorm and the cycling project gets put on a back burner again. At the last count I had knocked up 4644.30 miles on my quest to cycle the Equator. Could still make 4700 for the year but looking outside this morning that is looking unlikely.

That good looking beef!

Swedes first

Spuds peeled

Parsnips ready

Brenda likes them roasted

The last of the veggies

Swedes on the rolling boil

As a surprise gift I got a cycling Stein which is strangely delightful and has a “bicycle bell” on it so that you can ring for another.

Ding .. Ding

I also got a full blown weather station so I can compare my forecast with the experts.

The beef rests, the veg are back on the boil and an excellent Red vino is selected to replace the morning’s champers.

Fantastic!

Snoopy and Charlie enjoy their lunch

The eating was as good as the preparation.

Looking in

Time for more films and more classics. we have done Chevy, took on Danny and Bing (always good) so now its Jimmy as George,  and then our huge list of Hallmarks

1600 and a few spots of rain and the weather forecast, which keeps changing, is now saying less than 1/2″ today and 1-3″ tomorrow. Brenda sends out the “Snow Dance Team”.

The rain changes over to snow and very soon the dancers are back inside and take over “Greeter Duties” for the guests that Brenda invited on the 25th by mistake! However we do get an unexpected night stopper.

With the snow really coming down in resort style things are looking very “White Christmas” and Brenda has her wish.

Now this one says it all ….. The Perfect Christmas Night.

However, the snowfall changes over to buckets and the dump is on! Hypertherm can’t take the weight of wet snow and falls over, my new metal trees are bending under the load and team Santakins,  and Claus are none too happy as they try to dock the boat.

SH 1T this is getting SERIOUS

Forced out for dog walking in the blizzard of 2018 we all make it back and get into Hallmark.

By dawn’s early light there is the duty 7″ on the rail and the forecasters are saying less than 1/2″ for today and by 1000 the expected melt begins.

A bit excessive Brenda!

But we did win the lighting contest

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS EVE

 

Brenda decided to have a late brainwave and go for an “impromptu” party tonight and with all the other venues and plans it will be interesting to see “who”, if anybody shows up ?

Some did, and we fed them

Yesterday was a full on action day for me starting with cleaning the activity bus I was using for my 18 hour day yesterday. Duly swept, refueled with 50 gals, and all paperwork completed it was off to Cortez for the Christmas lunch shopping. Fortunately for me I had ordered my Prime Rib as Safeway had sold out unless you had put in a reserve order.

YUMMMEEEEE!

All the usual vegetables are loaded in the cart, leeks, onions, swedes, farticus continus (otherwise known as brussel sprouts), parsnips and corn and carrots at home.

Parsnips, Swedes, and Sprouts all on this section ….. leeks with the onions

Some extra ground beef which is almost the same price per lb as the prime rib!!!

Yesterday we lost our  shivering  polar bear, Polaris, leaving a big gap in the center bed so time to look for a replacement and we now have a shivering snowman to be called, Hypertherm, who is now erected and on duty. On the balcony Olaf got replaced with Snoopy  and Woodstock in the mailbox to go with Brenda’s  peanuts theme.

Happy Christmas to you “Hypertherm”

Olaf spending Christmas with Darth this year

Peanuts gang are taking over the balcony

All wind storm damage rectified, Santakins upright, Mrs Claus back on her feet (“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”) two Teddys back on their steeds and spotlights readjusted.

Teddy back in the saddle

New trees with baubles

“All aboard its Christmas!”

But look ……. it’s The Christmas Star

Now it is Christmas Eve and time to relevel the pool table which means I get to lift the huge piece while she slips some shim plates under two of the legs. Yes, pool tables are bloody heavy but my qualification for World’s Strongest Man is in with about 10 lifts to get her level !

Yes it feels like this!

One last visit into the loft for Christmas gift bags and clear the halls of a box of my old RAF Squadron Shields and trials trophies. Another load of wood to be cut and the last few items to go back in storage, just in case someone shows up tonight?

More guests

Well since the Lighting Contest Judgement Day of last Wednesday the Chamber has been very quiet despite returning to the previous  judging format with well qualified Senior judges. No more school children, thank goodness!  …… So today, Monday, we are told we have officially won. However, in time honored tradition, and in a final tribute to last year here is that little song …….. for the Chamber or is it Chamber Pot ?

Well the lights have all come on, glass in hand, carols playing, let the fun begin! …….and then there’s a knock on the door …..

“I canner decorate every bloody tree in this forest “

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SCUFFS UP !

Several complaints from Elves, Team Santakin, and of course Father and Mrs Christmas. Every time I venture into my workshop its a stream of non stop questions as to when the ship will be ready to put to sea.

Its the lights I tell you!

The forecast for tomorrow is good, 47F and a light wind so NO excuses as the Broncos are playing today. All seemed simple and I even managed to get my Mojo working at pool and finished in the money at Pool …… about time! Sunday however, did not go at all to plan as I slept nearly all morning in front of the TV and by the time the Patriots were playing the Steelers I declared a rest day.

Monday and a morning fighting with my bank over the telephone re the NEW cards they had sent. I had followed their instructions and destroyed the old one only to find the NEW one keeps coming back Declined!!! Despite 3 phone calls and more instructions, from the last phone call it transpires the bank had put a block on both cards and we now need Brenda to give them some more info to unblock!

During the afternoon much transporting of boxes of goodies sent out to the dock and keel lights go on, replacement multi colored  strings are set and with the majority of snow and ice removed. 3 of team Santa are in their seats.

The Red lights go on topped with the whites

NEW multi colored lights on the top and 3 Santa from the crew in place along with 1st Mate Teddy

Tuesday morning and I now have one day to complete Scuffy as the Christmas Lights judging is tomorrow. So far the bank has now said the blocks are off! No real idea what that was all about but having spoken to many of the customer service agents it seems the bank had to send out these new cards to comply with some UK rules.

I start at the back of the boat and build the present racks and set up the boxes. Some candy canes and the 4 moving Santakins army are added along with Goofy on top of the engine.

Getting there!

Giant bells and ornaments fill the space. Spotlights on the boat and the Lazer House built on both sides, and after an hour untangling all plugged in and working.

The final blue lights for the wake and the gold ones for the engine on those gold rocks and the shimmering blue for the moving water effect. Timers reset !

Trees and friends in place

Deers and Teddy ready for switch on

Darth is now on site

“Hello Gringe” note the red berries of the ground cover and white lights, Dolores version of Holly

How it looks from the balcony

All done and ready for Judging

Short Activity Drive for the school and home at 1500 in time to see what damage the gusty winds have done …. not too bad, a Teddy Bear blown off his deer and a Santakins on his side but good enough for the final judging and then on Thursday night I’ll have a walk round for this years final pictures. Fingers crossed on the judging!

Well judging done ….. not even a comment from the Chamber!! and now its Friday and school has finished although I’m taking an all day trip to Colbran tomorrow which is about 250 miles away and I won’t be home until around midnight!

Sad news of the day is my shivering polar bear blew a fuse and tonight despite several fuses I fear the motor is shorting out and beyond sensible repair!

Let’s see what was revealed for the judges (assuming they came)

What you see from the main road

……. and now in more detail as we wander through the winter wonder land………

The Lazers

The Effects

Walk with the Reindeer

There’s a lot of them!

…….and now a run down the Center bed …..

Before my polar bear lost his motor

Gringe and friends

The new sleigh and helpers

New horse and carriage

and now, over to the dock where Santa is powering up the mighty Mercury 100HP motor to get Scuffy out to sea

One hand on the throttle and one of the wheel they look as though they are leaving

CAST OFF !

All hands on deck from the Santakins and Goofy

Moving away from the dock

“See you on Boxing Day”

There they go then …..

That’s all for the 2018 Decs, back to the house and hang up stockings

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS DECS PHASE II

With the vicious cold and 8-10″ of snow from last weekend its time to get outside of house set up but its taking a lot of time and made difficult with all the snow.

All ready for layout in Santa’s Workshop

Temps well below freezing time to uncover the fir trees and boat so that I can get some lights and cables in place.

Hard work clearing all the snow off the trees

A melt helps on Wednesday but on Thursday its snowing again and forecast for another 2″ tonight so I’ll give it best today and try again tomorrow.

Friday and as No School Day and the weather is nice! First up clean all the snow off the new balcony ….. and there was a lot of underside ice but its all broken up and over the side ……. let the melt continue!

Snow and ice off the balcony, now time to get the shooting stars and their associated ice lights checked over. All up and working but as yet not on timers. Twirlers next for the 5 balcony upright pillars with their bright LED lights and then the lower row of ice lights which are determined to tangle themselves and also have several lights out and sections not working at all.

By close of play on Sunday ALL front lights are plugged in and as a bonus the rose bed is lit up as well …… now the wait for 1630, then, all being good it should fire right up.

Rose Bed done

Monday, still bitter cold overnight but when the sun comes up it feels warm as there is no wind. Today its an Activity trip up to Ridgway School which will be a pleasant drive but no time to get the front bed finished which is my next task. Home around 2200 and I see a couple of sections of the old ice lights are out!

Tuesday, and the morning is lost to ice lights, now repaired, and checking all the lights for the center bed. An afternoon in the bushes with strings of lights and cables and at 1720 the final plugs, Chevy Chase style, without the drum roll, but, “Joy to the World” as it all lights up and deers start moving.

Main House with the bigger balcony

Wednesday, more in the center bed as more cables are added and the last items, including the Horse & Carriage, now on their own wooden bases, and the two new trees go in along with some spots on special areas. All looks good then the wind gets up, temps drop and it starts snowing again!

Thursday and another activity trip so just time to stand up anything that the wind blew down.

Friday, a little tired after yesterday’s trip and off as a Sub for 4.5 hrs so not much happening outside as the nasty wind is back again. Bus back in it’s slot and home to take some shots of the 2018 center bed display.

Standing guard at the “Backwash Kennel”

Deer and Santa at the Waterfall

Different angle

The Big Picture

The NEW “Horse & Carriage

Shivering Bear and NEW Sleigh  and Trees

Lots of helpers in the sleigh

Center Bed looking towards the Waterfall

Even got a “tree topper” this year

Boathouse Shooting Star

Front Door favorites

With that section complete all that remains is Scuffy for the weekend…………

TONY DOWN