Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Edited Early Sunday morning for storm information:  I'm not sure if we were once again over-hyped by the weather people or if the Gator Place was just lucky.  Oh, sure, by 6:15 this morning we did have several inches of snow on the ground, but I don't think we got as much as we were told to expect.  My neighbor, who keeps me rather clean, plowed about an hour ago and has headed off to some of his other friends' places.  I can't tell for sure how much is out there as it's still dark and I haven't ventured outside yet, but from the window, it doesn't look like much more than a normal snowfall in Maine.  The television crew does say, however, that some parts of Maine did get a lot more, up to 20 inches I heard in one place.  Perhaps more later.

Edited Mid-Saturday afternoon for storm information: Really not much I can add about my observations of Maine's Big Storm of 2010. I did take the snow blower out to give the driveway and walkway a quick cleaning of snow which has been falling lightly for most of the day. Nevertheless, the buildup on the Gator chunk of Land has been minimal so far. Our house is a quite a way off the beaten path so I can't comment on roads. We'll be back Sunday AM after the "main event" passes through tonight.

 Edited Saturday AM for storm information: By 6:00 this morning we did have a little more snow on the ground, but it still isn't what the forecasters had predicted for this weekend. Those forecasters are still saying we're going to get a pretty good slug of snow later today into this evening, but it could be over by tomorrow morning. My neighbor, who has a plow, has made a swipe in my yard which allowed Gator Wife to head off to work with little or no difficulty. Now I'm hoping it holds until she gets home late this morning. If conditions change, we'll have another update later today.

Edited Friday AM for storm information:  At 5:50 this morning, it was still too dark to take any meaningful pictures, but a quick glance outside indicates the Gator Land didn't get enough snow to really make interesting scenes anyway.  I'd say this little spot only got about an inch, but some places in Maine got more, some significantly more.  My Fearless Friend, for example, told me yesterday afternoon his Friendly Spot in a nearby town got about four inches.  If a picture presents itself, I'll post one later.  Today we're only expecting a slushy mix with the major storm coming in tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And now the tax decision will be ours.

A very busy day yesterday kept me from even thinking about this internet presence. As a result I find myself without any preparation for expressing my thoughts. Therefore, this will be just one of my rambles.

One thing that I think is positive: Maine voters will get to decide the fate of the switch and shaft expensive sham called tax reform in Maine. The last Legislature passed a bill which the Democrats proclaim have cut taxes for most Mainers by lowering the top rate for income tax. They sort of neglect to remind us they increased the number of items that will be subjected to the state's sales tax.

Between now and the June ballot, we'll be flooded with "facts" as perceived by both sides of the issue. I'll be consistent with my get your own information about the measure rather than rely on me, the Democrats, or the Republicans.

When the measure was passed last session, without a public hearing I might add, the Republicans almost immediately began a petition drive to force the issue to referendum. The Secretary of State missed his deadline to certify the petitions and, according to the State Constitution, the measure would automatically be on a ballot.

The Republicans took the issue to the court. Shortly after the filing, the Secretary of State certified a sufficient number of signatures as legal. Shortly after that event a challenge about the signatures was filed with the court.

Last week a judge ruled in favor of the Republicans on both challenges and ordered the Secretary of State to put the question out to the voters. Yesterday we were told there would not be an appeal of the judge's rulings to the State's Supreme Court.

So now we'll prepare for the onslaught of the truthfulness of the claims by both sides and we'll have the final say in June.

Now we'll settle down and prepare for the arrival of the New Year tomorrow night and the arrival of 2010's first major storm beginning Friday.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boring, uncreative TV commercials

A brand new year, 2010, is rapidly approaching.  At midnight Thursday, we'll be saying "good-bye" to the current and welcome in the new.  Well, some of you will.  I'll probably be long time abed as that ball in New York makes its fall.

We awoke this morning to a light dusting.  I haven't seen the news yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are places in Maine that got a whole lot more than fell on the Gator Land.

This is week two of what must be the best three weeks of college football on television.  There's a bowl game virtually every night, except there wasn't one Christmas night.  I love college football so these nights are just great.  Of course, the best night is yet to come; Friday the Gators play Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.

Speaking of the Gators, what a strange course of events concerning Florida coach Urban Meyers.  Because of health issues, he resigned his position last Saturday.  Then Sunday changed his mind and will go on an extended leave of absence to heal.  I'm glad the Gators aren't losing him, but I'm sad that his health has become an issue.  He is, in my humble opinion, one of if not the best coach in college football today.

I think I'm losing my ability to think, or perhaps reason.  I don't normally object to commercials on television as I realize they're why I can watch programs relatively cheaply, like all those college football games I'm watching these three weeks, for example. 

What I miss, however, are those nifty ads that tried to sell me something and often succeeded.  Some made me laugh or chuckle.  Some I looked forward to seeing as they were so good.  Most of them didn't give me the opportunity to ask, "How much longer have I got to endure this?"  Back in the day ads were replaced just about when they should be.

Most commercials today are not cute, funny, interesting, or intriguing.  Many don't even make me think about possibly wanting the advertised merchandise.  Shucks.  I don't even know what some of them are even trying to pitch.  And some of them seem to have been shown for an eternity.  There's one lawyer, for example, who would never, and I hate to use that word never, get my business just because I'm so tired of his long running ads.

An even worse part of those lawyer ads is if one travels around the country, the exact same ads with the exact same celebrity, are touting a different law firm.

Whatever happened to the creativity prevalent in years gone by?  I certainly hope today's attempts are not an indictment of what people are learning in today's colleges.

I guess there's always the possibility that my age has just caught up to me and processing those ads has become the problem, not the ads themselves.  That would be a very small possibility.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Health Care Reform

I don't like listening to rather heavy rain being blown rather vigorously against my house. That's the way it was Sunday. I like it even less when it happens under the cover of darkness at night. That's when it began Sunday. I guess the one positive note is it was rain on the Gator homestead and not snow.

I'd be remiss not to mention the health care bill passed on a party-line vote Thursday. It's a terrible bill and we all will suffer if it reaches final passage after conference with the House members on their version of the bill.

Just as I would urge you not to just read or listen to news reports about the bill, I'd tell you not to pay any attention to what I say. Both the news media and I are prejudiced over this issue and we'd both be just telling you what we think you should hear.

I'd be telling you about the total unfairness of the bill and the way it's going to surprise you in your coverage and the costs, hidden in new taxes, you're facing. The news media will tell you just how wonderful the bill will be for Americans. You know, great things like an administrator determining who will and who won't get medical care and the creation of waiting lists for care.

I'm sure you won't want to believe what I say, but please don't be judgmental until you read the bill yourself. Perhaps you might want to pay some attention to page 30. Or perhaps page 42. Of course the document isn't easy reading as there are more than 2500 pages. It outlines the taxes you'll pay and the care you will be able to get and won't be able to get.  I just point out these two to demonstrate what's in the bill.  The whole thing is equally as scary.

It tells you of the unbelievable costs that will be passed along to states. It'll also tell you who will be exempt from the bill, people like members of Congress and the White House and some unions. It'll tell you how various states will be treated differently and you'll perhaps even learn about all the payoffs that went into this law.

You'll learn just how accurate George Orwell was in his Animal Farm when he wrote that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

You just might find yourself very scared about your health future.

But as I say, don't listen to me or the news media as we're both prejudiced in our own little way. So that I don't get accused of sending you to a place that only supports me, I'll simply urge you to do a "Google" search, or a search using the search engine of your choice, on Senate Health Care Bill. It can be found in a .pdf file, but the bill is extremely long and complex and difficult reading, which is one reason most members of Congress haven't read it and have no idea on what they've actually approved.

Just read it for yourself and learn firsthand, not from people like me or news persons but rather from yourself just what you're in store for.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Messy weather is possible, probable, this weekend

That was a wonderful day, Christmas was.  I think one of the hardest parts of Christmas is saying "good bye" for another year.

Anyone who follows this little bit of sharing on a regular basis knows this was an especially good Christmas for us.  Gator Wife got the present of a lifetime.  Her life.  What any of the rest of us received was very nice; but for all of us having GW around in relatively good condition made it the best.

I hope each of you received that special gift you wanted or needed most and that your Christmas Day was a special one for you.

Gator Golden and her sister, Gator Daughter's golden,
had a lot of fun with their "toy bags."

Now we have to get through this weekend of what is forecast to be rather unpleasant conditions.  We will have run the gamut before it ends.  Mixed precipitation, some snow, some sleet, some freezing rain ... I've often wondered what the difference is between sleet and freezing rain ... and some snow, all depending on just where you are.

Next up on the important stuff is the coming of the New Year.  I hope yours will be a great one.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

The entire Gator in Maine clan join this day in wishing you and yours

The Merriest of Christmases.

May this day bring you peace, joy, and happiness.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Greetings!

Gator Wife, Gator Daughter, Gator Golden and I join in wishing you and yours

A Very Merry Christmas

and the

Happiest of New Years.


Monday, December 21, 2009

The Blizzard of 2009

That wasn't!  At least it wasn't in my little corner of the world.  While we were watching blizzard conditions on the Weather Channel all day Saturday and much of Sunday, it forgot to snow on the Gator Homestead.  By mid Sunday afternoon when it stopped snowing here, we had maybe an inch.  And it was a short inch at that.

This picture was taken after the storm ended Sunday.  That spot in the middle is the ground showing through a very thin layer of snow. 

I did use my tractor to snow blow the driveway but that was primarily to keep the snow from turning into ice causing bad conditions for Monday. 

I expect the little bit of snow that's left behind from the tractor will melt away Monday.  I probably didn't have to clean what I did because there wasn't very much there.  But at least it's done.

Please don't think I'm oblivious to all the snow that some parts of Maine did get, but none of it compared to the inches in the teens from around Boston all they way down to Georgia.

And did you see the pictures of the flooding in some cities and towns in Florida?

To the right is another look at our artificial tree guarding our Christmas Village display at one of the entrances to our living room.

Christmas is Friday and time is running for those last minute trips to the shopping places. 


Friday, December 18, 2009

Just a week left; our Tree is finally up!

Another Edit, this one Sunday morning:

I should pay attention to my own feelings and not rely on weather forecasters and stuck with my original comments about the potential of a White Christmas.  I awoke this morning with not a new flake of snow on the Gator Homestead and one the "possibility" of some showers today and anytime this week.  Any we get, according to the man this morning, will be light.  Shortly after 8 AMl we did get that first flake.

Edited and partially revised Saturday noon:

When I first wrote this weekend post Friday morning, there was no real snow forecast anywhere.  We had been told that a Sunday storm needed to be watched, but it would probably pass too far off shore to really affect us.

It's now Saturday noon and the forecast has been changing ever since Friday night.  I had said in my original weekend missive that we probably wouldn't have a White Christmas in my little corner of the world.  Now I'm not so sure.  We've gone from no storm to a possible two to four inches beginning tonight into Sunday.

We're also told there could be more Showers Monday night and the possibility of a Christmas snow is now in the forecast, although the weather guy on Channel Six this morning included the word "rain" as a possibility for Friday.

So, as I've often said here that we should simply wait and see what happens with the weather because our weather changes so quickly and often, I guess we'll just have to wait through this week to see what will eventually get here.

I had forgotten my own lesson; now it has been reinforced.  I'll just wait to see if we'll have a White Christmas, my favorite kind, or not.

And now back to my original weekend post:

Our room Christmas tree has been put up and decorated.  It is an artificial one.  We had an artificial one when we were first married and our two kids only knew an artifical one for the first four or five years of their lives. 

Then with the artifical tree beginning to lose any semblance of being a Christmas tree and desperately needing to be replaced, Gator Wife and I decided to return to the Christmas we both had had with a real tree.  With the children to help us make the proper selection, we headed out to a neighborhood tree stand.

Gator Daughter was just about as sad as she could be.  When we got to the tree place, she absolutely refused to leave the car.  She just sat there pouting with tears in her eyes.  She was positive we were abandoning Christmas by not putting up our old, green fake tree.  It was, after all, all she had known.

She cried all the way home and when we put it in our living room, she didn't even want to watch it get decorated.  So GW and I loaded it with beautiful, sparkling lights, well, as beautiful and sparkling as the '60s lights were.  Gator Son pitched in, though, as that little tyke only wanted a place, real or fake, for Santa to deliver the presents.

Then, with the tree taking shape and the wonderful Christmas smell wafting through the room, GD began to try to be "cool" and pretend that maybe, just maybe, she might like to become part of the fun after all.  She has told us many Christmases since that she didn't know and couldn't realize just what a difference a real tree made.  Hesitatingly at first, she joined in the festivities of decorating for Christmas.  I don't think for the rest of her childhood she would have allowed us to return to an artificial tree.

We only returned to using an artificial tree a couple of Christmases ago.  It was after taking down our last real tree and seeing many spots on the branches that were just a moment away from bursting into flames from the bulbs we decided that safety might be more prudent. 

And now one guards one of the entrances to our living room keeping an artifical watch over our Christmas Village display.

We are just a little late in putting a tree up this year.  Until she got the great news results of her successful surgery, GW wasn't in the mood for a Christmas tree.  So we will enjoy it this weekend and through the week looking forward to our best Christmas ever.

I hope you have a great weekend and that your week long anticipation will be as great as ours.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm not a fan of cold weather

This old Gator Dude doesn't like all the cold weather that moved in yesterday and is expected to be with us for a few days.  In fact, early indications are that today could be the coldest in the current spell with temperatures not getting out of the teens. 

I'm selfish in the way I feel about cold.  This old plagued body of mine is just loaded with little kinks that allow the weather to painfully express itself.  I know this sounds like I'm feeling sorry for myself, but I don't believe that is really the case.  I just don't like cold weather.  I like damp weather less as those darn low pressure systems really push hard.

I've had people ask me why I don't move to a more favorable climate.  It's fun to complain.

Here's today's visit to our Christmas Village:

A couple of quickies...I'm absolutely tired already of Les Otten's "Jobs, jobs, jobs" commercial.  This state desperately needs jobs and business creation.  There's no question about that.  But Mr. Otten hasn't give us a hint of how an administration led by him would encourage development.  Would he fight for lower taxes?  Would he fight for a friendlier business environment?  Would he fight for lower state spending?  And the questions roll on.  And the primaries are still a half year away with the gubernatorial elections 11 months away.  I wonder if an early commercial can work against a candidate.  (In fareness, he's not my choice.)

Another series of commercials I'm finding weak is that one which includes usually a nerdy 'government' guy with a young girl as she complains about provisions of the proposed health care reforms.  The girl keeps getting put down by the government guy.  I guess that's supposed to demonstrate how we'll all be put down when the government takes over health care.

One thing's for sure, every American, except members of the Congress and the administration who have exempted themselves, that hasn't taken the time to read how those reforms will lower the quality and raise the cost of health care is in for a super shock after the reforms pass.  Remember, there's no such thing as "free" health care.

On the other hand, there's a commercial now playing urging support of those reforms.  I don't think I've heard a word of truth in those commercials.  Again, the proof is in your reading those reforms yourself.  You might be surprised at where we're heading.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh, Happy Day!

About all I can say is, "Thank God for those annual mammograms."  Because Gator Wife has them, a lump was discovered in one of her breasts.  That was in October.  The person who reads them acted very quickly and ordered a second round, this time including an ultrasound reading.

The suspicion grew and within a day or two a biopsy was performed.  GW got the terrible news that people fear...she had cancer.

Her physician jumped into high gear and within a week GW was talking with a surgeon.  Let me interject here that her visit to the Breast Care Center at the Scarborough location of Maine Medical Center was as good a session as such can be.  My guess would be that such care centers in all Maine hospitals would return similar feelings.

It wasn't a walk in, told what the surgery would be, and leave session.  Indeed, first we met with the surgeon's assistant who took as much time as we needed to explain what was discovered and the choices GW had for resolving the problem.  (You may notice the uses of "we" and "she" here.  I was in on all the discussions, thus the "we."  She was to make all the decisions as it concerned her body, thus the "she.")

The chances for success were explained.  Since her lump had been discovered very early, her chances for complete success were excellent.  But she was also told about the possibility that she was facing a rather difficult situation.  Nothing was held back and the aide stayed with us until all our concerns were addressed.

Naturally, in these situations there can be no guarantees nor were there on that day.

Next to spend time with us was a representative of the American Cancer Society who explained all the ways that organization was prepared to assist us.  Like the aide, that representative spent as much time with us as we needed.  One of the first things I did when we got home that day was send a donation to the American Cancer Society, New England/Maine chapter.

Then the surgeon arrived and bluntly, yet gently, explained what had been found and the surgical options GW had.  The difference between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy was explained.  Treatment following the surgery was completely outlined no matter which decision was made and the seriousness of the cancer that would be removed.

We were told of he importance of testing the lymph nodes to determine if the cancer was spreading.  The surgeon did tell us that all indications were the surgery would be successful and she said she wouldn't/couldn't say that if conditions didn't warrant it.  Gator Daughter, who works at the hospital, said GW's surgeon was well known to be blunt and completely honest and fair when talking with patients.

We looked for success.

The surgery took place last week and yesterday the word came in:  Total success in removing the cancer and the lymph nodes were clear.  As a side note, that was important to me as my brother left us because cancer had gotten into his lymph nodes.

She still has a few weeks of treatment and she'll be watched carefully as the time passes.  But the important part is that the time will continue to pass.  Let me tell you, there is no better Christmas present one can receive than the gift of life.

And for anyone who may have read yesterday's post, yes, we did go out happily for some more Christmas shopping.

Want today's peek at our Christmas village?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We'll know the surgical results today

Yesterday was a good one for Gator Wife.  She is recuperating from surgery she had last week and is in recovery mode.  She took it rather easy over the weekend only expanding her activity slowly.  As I mentioned yesterday, her situation has taken its toll on our Christmas shopping this year, but yesterday she wanted to give it a try.

We actually ventured out twice.  Our first trip into crowded shopping places lasted about an hour before she ran out of steam so we came home for a couple hours for her to rest.  We then visited a second shopping area and again after about an hour she was ready to call it quits for the day.

But in those two trips we accomplished a lot and now have a few, a very small few but a start, presents to help Santa on Christmas.  We're planning on striking out again today.

Today's trip, however, will be a little later.  She wants to stay by the phone as her doctor's office told her yesterday that the results of the tests of that which was removed last week will be known today.  The surgeon was optimistic last week so we praying that the results will show complete success. 

Therefore, she will be near the phone today until that call comes.  Good news will result in more shopping.

One thing we noticed about the shopping malls we visited yesterday was the huge number of people looking for just that right surprise to be opened next week.  We had gone out one day early last week and found more clerks than customers so it was sort of bewildering to have to search out just parking places.  Many people were in stores as well, but what we didn't see were baskets full of presents.  People are, or at least yesterday were, being very careful on what they're buying.

One visit caught my attention.  There were rows and rows of those things "As seen on TV" available.  We could have bought just about anything one sees in those infomercials that used to claim, "Not available in stores."  Most certainly are today.  But we slowed down and gawked and then walked away without adding to our cart.

At least our tree now won't be totally void of presents when we get together next week.  It won't be as packed as it has been in other years, but we will have a little cheer.  Good news today could lead to even more good things next week.

Here's a parting glimpse at our Christmas Village display for today:


Monday, December 14, 2009

I can't put off Christmas buying much longer

The Gator clan is quickly returning to normal, whatever "normal" is.  Gator Wife continues her recuperation from surgery last week and will be out of work this week and probably next.  Hard to believe, isn't it, that Christmas is next week. 

It's probably time that I should be heading out to get some Christmas presents.  GW also is giving that some thought.  There are a couple of problems.  Because she's home I don't have that little cushion when I could "sneak" out and get something without her knowing.  She's in the same boat.

I guess this is a year that we'll probably head out together and jointly buy the family some stuff.  If I were an honest man I'd have to admit that after 48 years there's probably been very few "secrets" anyway.  Neither of us needs anything so we'd just get some "stuff" to have under the tree.

Gator Daughter isn't a shopping problem this year as we ran into a sale of some things she really likes a few weeks ago and got her presents early. 

I have to admit we'll be taking the "easy way" of getting presents to our family out west.  We see then so infrequently that we really don't know what they need or want so we'll just send some cash to our son and his wife.  They'll get something our granddaughter needs and put it under their tree in our name.  I suspect other people in this same distance situation have other ways of resolving the Christmas gift problem.

I've been rethinking my pleasure of simply upgrading my computer from Vista to Microsoft 7.  The reviews I've read about M-7 are outstanding, but I didn't do a full, clean, fresh install but rather just an upgrade.  I think there may have been some little Vista hooks left behind that are now causing me some frustration.

My computer keeps crashing.  Each time, M-7 tells me why and even fixes the problem for me so this thing does continue to work 98% of the time, but I keep wondering how many of those little inconveniences I'm facing.  I will give M-7 some works to fix the problems with little effort on my part. 

And that's the way it is on the Gator Place.  Life does continue to be good.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Gator Wife continues her improvement following her surgery Wednesday.  She's close to being back to normal, and we think she'll be doing those things she normally does, except participate in her part-time job, by Monday.

We won't be hearing the offical final outcome of the surgery until sometime next week when the results of the lab tests on that which was removed are known, but the surgeon was very optimistic.

We'll probably just be taking it easy again this weekend as we both think a full recovery is far more important than doing stuff which can easily wait.

Our timing was pretty good with the Christmas Village we display each Christmas season as it was completed and lit within its time frame before the surgery.

And speaking of the Village, here's another peek:

I hope you enjoy your weekend.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Busy Time; a major storm

We sure did pick a pip of a day to have to drive to the hospital Wednesday.  Perhaps the worst part will be the cleaning up after the storm.  I won't get much help on this one, except perhaps Gator Daughter will lend a hand.  The trip to the hospital and back isn't a long one for us, but it could be a very interesting one.

Because of Gator Wife's medical procedure, we'll be just a wee bit occupied for a few days; but I thought you might at least like a reasonably new picture of Gator Golden and one of the village. 

Edited to update:  GW's medical procedure went, according to her surgeon, extremely well and the doctor has confidence she "got it all."  However, there's always that little "But."  We won't know the complete prognosis until after the test results are returned in a few days.

First, another look at the snow we had over the weekend as GG looks around in absolute wonder.  She loves snow, incidentally, and once we get some snow banks, mainly from my neighbor's plow, a little later in the season, she'll make herself right at home atop the mounds so she can get a good look around her world.  Here I think she's looking for one of those mounds.

I've shown you pictures of Gator Daughter's mountain/forest presentation.  One of the highlights of her section is a skating pond complete with a bonfire

The bonfire is difficult to see in this picture, but it's located just above the heads of the two skaters on the pond.  You may notice a little red light, which is a flickering fire on the actual layout, at the bottom of the logs.


Monday, December 7, 2009

A little weekend snow

There's a contrast for you.  Last Thursday the temperatures in our area reached a record-breaking 68 degrees.  Saturday night we got a couple or more inches of snow.  Getting up Sunday morning was beautiful, although I'm not sure we're quite ready for snow just yet.

One thing that was nice was the scene outside the window which houses a portion of our village.  The snow covered village square had a backdrop of a snow covered front yard.

Even Gator Golden was wondering what all that white stuff was.

It was a beautiful sight out there Sunday; but once the sun began its work, melting was quick.

It was a pretty start to the week.  Gator Wife and I are now hoping for a beautiful ending.  She will be having surgery Wednesday so mid week won't be the happiest without a successful trip to the hospital.

Her October mammogram and resulting tests showed what every woman dreads and we're praying it will resolved Wednesday, but it will still be quite a while before the actual results are known.  She'll begin radiation treatment in a couple of weeks.

Don't expect much from the old Gator Dude here this week.


Friday, December 4, 2009

A Cool Weekend

That was an interesting bit of rain we got Thursday. I'm glad it wasn't snow here, as much as I love snow; but as I said in another post, I like it best at Christmas.  Of course Thursday noontime, when I glanced at the startling temperature of 67 degrees on my weather station, I was totally surprised.  The sun was blazing brightly, but still, 67 degrees on Dec. 3rd???

The previous high temperature record wasn't just beaten; it was annihilated.  It had been 55 degrees and Thursday's high reached 68.  I can't remember any other time a record was set by 13 degrees.

Now the weekend is upon us. It has all the makings of being a chilly one with temperatures being hard pressed to make it out of the 30s in most places. Don't you just love it?  A Record 68 degrees on Thursday and possible snow on Saturday.  Maine!  You gotta love the place!

We'll be spending the weekend taking care of household chores and storing up some meals. We're preparing for a surgical procedure that Gator Wife faces next week and we want life to be as easy as possible for her when she gets home from the hospital.

We'll also be making only a few posts for the coming week. Don't you miss all the political ranting?

Gator Golden has spotted some tracks of an animal that passed through the yard. At least I hope it's only the track.

And here's a close-up view of one section of our Christmas Village display. I guess one could call this little spot the ringing in of the Christmas season.

Yes, you will probably note throughout all these that we're celebrating the Christmas Season and not just a generic, meaningless holiday one.

Have a super weekend.

Edited Saturday night:  I'm still proud to be a Gator!!!!!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December! Snow???

The weather has been a little bit cooler the last couple of days. We are expecting a some rain arriving Wednesday night and saying around until at least midday Thursday. Our part of Maine has seen some below freezing temperatues at night, but the daytime ones have been generally pretty nice.

This is a little strange for early December. More often than not, we've had our first snow of the season. Parts of Maine, those places in the mountains and foothills, have had their first significant snow. In fact, a couple school districts in northern Maine have already had some delayed openings.

But not in the part where I live. It's simply been to warm for snow. That will be the same Wednesday night into Thursday when we'll be getting rain. I think most of the weather forecasters also say even northern sections will be mostly, if not all, snow.

I'm not looking for snow. Snow and ice is my worst season as they increase the potential of my falling down. That could be real disastrous. Nevertheless, I do love it when it snows Christmas Eve and we have fresh fallen snow outside the windows for Christmas Day. I'm equally has happy if it all disappears the next day.

My "wish" only refers to my tiny part of the state. I know most Mainers love to ski or do other outdoor winter activities and for them I say, "Let it snow! Let it snow!" The snow that falls in those winter sports areas wouldn't affect me at all. I guess there is just a little selfish streak in this Old Gator Dude.

Meanwhile, Gator Golden was startled by a truck while she was in the yard. There's something about those diesel motors that drives her crazy.

Here's my offering of village pictures for today. The first one shows the beginning of one of the displays.

A few days later, it looked like this:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gators heading for SEC Championship game

Not too many people in my neck of the world care about the Florida Gators football team. But I do. I've been following the Gators ever since I became one, and that was more than a half century ago. Last Saturday the Gators beat in-state rival Florida State University to end their regular season undefeated and No. 1 in the national coaches' poll.

They will play Alabama next Saturday for the South Eastern Conference championship with a trip to the national championship, probably against Texas, on the line.

I was a student at UF back in 1958 and attended that very first game between the Gators and the FSU Seminoles. There was no question how that first game would end between a well-established program and a relatively new one, but it was a fun time anyway. Yes, the Gators won easily and, except for a couple of brief periods, have dominated the series.

I haven't mentioned the Gators too often here, but it was fun this time.

Meanwhile, Gator Golden enjoyed some fun time with Gator Wife outside on Sunday. She's watching GW carefully as GW was on the other side of GG's Invisible Fence.

By now anyone who looks at this little spice of life knows Gator Wife and I have created an annual Chrismas Village as part of our celebration of the season. I'll be including a picture from the display in each of my posts from now through the season.

This one is a scene from the Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol section of our Department 56 (R) collection. We see Charles Dickens in the Public Square reading his story to the people. In the background you'll see the Scrooge & Marley building.


Friday, November 27, 2009

The Village is Lit!

We have completed our annual Christmas Village display depicting scenes from the Victorian Period and Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. We also have a Christmas Tree scene to celebrate this time of year. We begin construction on Nov. 11th each year and light the village (signalling its completion) sometime during Thanksgiving weekend.

All the pieces are collectibles from Department 56 (C) Victorian and Charles Dickens collections.

We lit the Village late Thanksgiving afternoon. Here are some representative pictures of the completed project.

The long section behind the couch leading to a mountain.

The Window Scene...Every piece depicts something from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

The main display simply because it's the largest of the group.

Gator Daughter's mountain and woods scene, including a skating pond, on the main table.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sometimes the best laid plans . . .

My original post for This Day was an absolute mess, so...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, from the entire Gator Clan. I hope you'll enjoy your time with family and friends and while giving your thanks, remember to thank our brave men and women overseas in harm's way.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Our 2009 Chistmas Village is about ready

As we had anticipated, our annual Christmas village is just about completed. We began assembling our Department 56 (c) Victorian/Dickens collection on Nov. 11th with the completion date schedule for Thanksgiving weekend. It will be finished.

We had already assembled two of the four sections we'll have this year. A village scene behind our living room couch and the most popular display, the Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol window, had previously been completed.

This weekend we assembled the final two sections, a combination mountain/woods/village scene on what we call the main table and our simple Chistmas Tree display on our entertainment center.

We had assembled the frame and half the base earlier and this weekend added the structures and accessories that complete the display. The right side of the frame remains topless as we need the space to stand in while putting together the left side. That mountain in the corner is new this year.

Gator Daughter is in control of the section and she changes it slightly each year. When it is complete (left), it is really quite impressive. Once she has finished the corner, the rest of the base is added and we all begin the process of placing other pieces and accessories.

You'll probably notice that it's quite a scene under the table as the frame and wiring would be all exposed. On Thursday, the final step in the process is to add a skirt around each of the display tables and the underside can't be seen. As you look across the main display you can almost see the Dickens' Section in the window.

Finally, we put up a very simple Christmas Tree park on the top of our entertainment center. It is simple, but makes a nice addition to our celebration of the Christmas Season.

We do have just a little work left. On Tuesday, GW's day off from work, we'll add trees to the two sections. Some have already been placed, but we'll be adding another hundred or so to fill in the spots and hide any flaws we find.

Then Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, while pies are baking in the kitchen, GW and GD will add the skirt and we'll participate in dropping Department 56 "Fresh Fallen Snow" over all four sections. We are quite proud of the final results each year.

A little ahead of the scheduled weeking lighting of the display, shortly after dark Thanksgiving Day we'll flip the switch and begin enjoying our 2009 version of our Christmas Village. It'll be on display through the New Year.

Friday, I'll post some pictures of the completed display.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Village Construction Weekend

"Happy weekend," she says with just a hint of her pretty smile.

The weather folk give us strong indications that it will be a nice one. We'll take advantage of the weather to make our final leaf cleaning trip through the yard. Nearly all the leaves are now down for this season and after this weekend, it will be time to convert the lawn mowing tractor into one that blows snow.

We'll also come very close to completing our annual Department 56 (C) Lit Victorian/Dickens Village. We erect it each Christmas season beginning on Nov. 11th and having it ready for lighting during the Thanksgiving weekend. That's next weekend and it will be ready. In fact, there's a good chance it'll be finished this weekend and lighted Thanksgiving Day.

It has been traditional for both Gator Wife and me to begin our Christmas season on Thanksgiving or the day after all our lives, beginning long before we met. We continue that tradition every year, with the exception of beginning the village.

I think we're even among a minority that hasn't started our Christmas shopping, yet, and won't until at least the day after Thanksgiving. We're too old to fight the Black Friday crowds so it probably won't be until well after Friday.

So, we have an active weekend planned; therefore we're looking forward to a good one. I hope your weekend is a good one, also, and we should have some pictures to show you Monday.


Friday, November 20, 2009

A Rainy Friday

Rain. That's the simple story for at least the first half of the day. At least getting rain on a Friday opens up the weekend to be a nice one.

Because of the weather, there's not much for the Old Gator Dude to do today. Also, I'm not too motivated to write about much, either.

So, have yourself a good Friday. This weekend the Gator family will make our last vacuuming trip through the yard for this year. Enough leaves are down now so that if any more fall, they will become poor man's fertilizer.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

No village today, but a preview of your future health care

We haven't worked on the Village since the weekend so have nothing new to show you or even just tell you about. Our attention has been focused elsewhere as we mentioned in the last post. The Old Gator Dude, however, is thinking about you and thought we'd make a little change in this week's post.

Nothing special here; Gator Golden just likes to be included.

Wednesday was the Fourth Wednesday of the month for my group of fellow retirees who meets regularly meet on that Wednesday for lunch. Yea. I know there's still another Wednesday in November, but it's the day before Thanksgiving and each year we avoid that week considering all the things going on and the big family meals begin planned for the next day. So we normally move the November session to the third week.

I think we're all surprised each year when the full complement of regulars shows up. Actually, only one person wasn't there this week, except for those who've gone to Florida, and he usually only comes occasionally. As always the group had a good lunch and it was full of great conversation.

We also do not meet in December because the last Wednesday is always between the two busy days of Christmas and New Years so we take December off. We'll be back together for the last Wednesday in January. Unfortunately, we will be without one person as he will have made his trip to Florida for the Winter.

I hope all of you are following the debate over the recommended changes in mammogram recommendations for women. The group of physicians which did not include oncologists or other cancer specialists and apparently in support of the Obama health care reform, changed long-standing recommendations that women begin annual mammogram testing at age 40 to beginning them at age 50. The group also recommended the tests be every two years instead of annually.

It is my understanding that there was no peer review of the recommendations. Medicare, the government health care reformists, and insurance companies will jump all over the recommendations. Why? Simply because of the theme repeated often throughout the news interviews of the doctor in charge. They will save money.

Of course, less frequent and later starts will save money. But at what real cost? We were told that the recommendations were in line with similar suggestions from other countries that have government sponsored health care. Government sponsored health care. And this is what I hope you're noting. It is the beginning of what will happen to health care in America if the government takes over health care.

We, like those other countries, will have care rationing and the government will control the waiting lists for care. Yes. Rationing and waiting lists. They are already a part of HR3200, the U.S. House passed health care reform bill.

Is this what you really want?

We have been told the best way to rid one's cancer is early detection and early treatment. A person near and dear to me was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and it was found as a result of her annual mammogram. Because of early detection, her prognosis is excellent. I'd hate to think of what could happen if she had to wait another year for that test.

It's also interesting that none of the groups involved with cancer care, prevention, or education has endorsed the recommendations. I'm urging all of you to carefully consider what will happen to our health care if the government does take it over.


Monday, November 16, 2009

More village progress; and a sad note

Thanks to our rainy Saturday and cloudy Sunday, we were able to work on our annual Christmas Village over the weekend. We had all but completed the first section last Wednesday, Veterans' Day, the day we traditionally begin. Because of a change in the way we took down the village last year, this year's project is already ahead of schedule.

On the left above is the beginning of the Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol section. The frame was positioned, the bases were put in place, and some structures and accessories were put onto the section for arrangement. It wasn't long before the section was all but finished. Every piece depicts a scene from the famous seasonal story about Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim Cratchet.

Before the weekend's activity ended, we had already set up the framework for the third section which probably could be called the main section as it is the largest. We are so far ahead of schedule this year, we are contemplating adding a section in another room. That will depend on events not in our control.

Last week we mentioned that Gator Wife had to undergo an unexpected test. We got back the results and they weren't very pleasant. As a result, she will begin the process of preparing for surgery and probable chemotherapy. It is my turn to walk at her side for next several weeks as she has walked beside me for the past eight years.

I will keep you informed of the progress of the Village from time to time, but there won't be much ranting and raving on events I can't control anyway. These posts may also be few and far between for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for being with us and, if you're so inclined, a little prayer for Gator Wife would be greatly appreciated.

And finally, it's easier to reach A Gator in Maine now. We are also at


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wet, but possibly productive weekend

"I think this is my best side. Is this my best side?"

This is another Christmas Village construction weekend. Sometime rain, or even the threat of it, is a good weekend friend. It gives us the excuse to remain inside to add the second section.

We have the first section all but finished. That was accomplished Wednesday, the first official day of this year's version of the Village. We create a Department 56(c) lit Victorian/Dickens Christmas display each year. The official lighting takes place Thanksgiving weekend.

This weekend we're adding what is perhaps the most popular display in our four-part production. Every piece depicts a scene from Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, the famous annual seasonal story of Ebenezer Scrooge. Most people know it as the story of Tiny Tim.

First comes the construction of the frame, then we add the layers of styrofoam, which serves as a base and is used to conceal the wiring that makes it a lighted display. We will add the structures and accessories, including the three Ghosts and a cemetary. When it is finished, it should continue in its own little tradition of being the best.

I'll try to have some pictures of it Monday.

The rain also has a downside. It will probably keep us from making a final pass through the yard to vacuum the remaining leaves and acorns. Some of our trees do still have leaves so perhaps not being able to do it if it rains will be a good thing. That rain and any wind could finish the leaf-dropping for this season.

I hope you're weekend will be as full of good activity as ours.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gator Clan's Village Construction continues

As we do annually, we began the actual Christmas Village construction Wednesday. We had spent some time last weekend putting up the frame that holds one section of the Village. The placement of the structures was begun on our traditional annual beginning day, Nov. 11th. (You can see some pictures of the frame in Wednesday's post.) To the right here is the beginning one of two mountains areas we'll have this year. Remember, this is just the earliest placing of some structures.

Another view of the early placing is on the left. As you can see, only a few of many pieces have been placed. You may notice little ridges in the styrofoam which we use as a base to contour the area to give the overall affect of some depth. The blank spots will eventually have more structures. We'll also be adding accessories to create a "village feeling."

Before we begin the lighting process, we put all the pieces in the section generally where we expect them to be, although we do quite often make many changes before the final layout is completed. On the left is a look at more of the structures along the full length of village portion behind a section of the living room couch.

On the right are the hands of Gator Daughter as she gives us a hand by putting the lights in place. These are the lights that allows us to give the night time look of a village all lit up. You'll notice we have at least two layers of styrofoam on the base which allows us to create channels for the wires and still keep the wiring invisible when guests come to view the village.

It's a little hard to see them lit on the left here, but you can get an idea of what a Department 56 (C) Lit Villlage looks like. As I've said, all the pieces we use are from the Victorian/Dickens collections. We'll add accessories this coming weekend and begin another section, the depiction of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. When all four sections are completed Thanksgiving Weekend, we'll add trees and snow and officially light the Village.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Annual Christmas Village Construction Begins

Happy Veteran’s Day. We all should be honoring all our fine men and women who have given the ultimate gift to America in the various wars and conflicts we’ve been through since our beginning. And we all should be honoring those men and women in today’s Armed Services who continue to protect this great country of ours.

Thank you to both veterans and those still serving from the Gator Clan.

The Gator Clan also celebrates its beginnings 48 years ago as we begin our 49th. It was on Nov. 11, 1961, that Gator Wife and I became one. Wow, I’ve enjoyed about two-thirds of my life with my wonderful bride. Trust me; she’s had to endure a whole lot more than I as we embark on #49. Happy Anniversary, Gator Wife.

It’s also the day we begin formal construction of our annual Christmas Village which takes up a good portion of our living room between Nov. 11th and shortly after the New Year. This year we got a little head start this past weekend when we brought the table frames and coverings into the room. One frame has been put together, and Gator Wife has also begun bringing some of the collectables out of storage.

Our village consists of lighted pieces we’ve collected over the years from Department 56 © collectables. The Village primarily consisted of Victorian houses and business with a few from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. We have noticed a subtle change in the naming of the offered displays so that most of the Victorian Collection now contains the Dickens’ Village designation.

Department 56 © also has other organized villages, such as a New England presentation, a Santa one, and several others. We have remained loyal to the one we use and our collections includes more than 250 houses, businesses, people, accessories, that bring Victorian England to life. We also keep our collection intact and put all the pieces into their original boxes for storage.

We do not include all our collection on display every year and we’ve narrowed it down somewhat from its optimal presentation a few years back when it literally consumed 75% of our living room and extended into the dining room. We now only have it along one wall, in the bay window, and a short section of another wall.

Only one section remains relatively unchanged from year to year, and that is a section dedicated entirely to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Every piece in it represents a scene from the popular Christmas story that depicts the change from the piker Scrooge to his becoming a generous old man. Even the ghosts are included.

In case you’re wondering, we do not use the living room for living per se. It is reserved for when we have guests. Our TV resides in a room of its own so we don’t have much reason to use the living room.

And so our season has begun. We have a lot of work to do between now and our scheduled “Lighting of the Village” during the Thanksgiving weekend, but we’ve always managed to stay on schedule. I’ll have village updates and pictures as we go along and a picture roundup when it’s finished.


Monday, November 9, 2009

A very busy week for the Gator Clan

Come on, Dad. Get out of that chair! We've go work to do.

Monday begins a new week. This one will be active for the Gator clan, primarily the mom and dad duo, so we won’t do much, if any, ranting and raving.

Monday begins with a morning visit to a local medical testing facility so that Gator Wife can have a procedure to check on a development she didn’t expect. The test itself we’re told isn’t too difficult but the anxiety will be prevalent for the remainder of the day, at least.

I’ll have my normal senior fitness session Tuesday morning, and then we’ll be waiting patiently for the delivery of a new refrigerator, probably early afternoon. I wouldn’t be too surprised if we didn’t get a start of the Christmas Village, scheduled to begin Wednesday, to keep us busy while we wait.

Wednesday is the day of days for this week. GW and I will celebrate the beginning of our 49th year together. Not a bad anniversary for a pair whose attendees at our wedding almost a half century ago were entering a pool betting on how long it would last. No one knows whatever happened to the pool money and only a small handful of people there, none of the poolers of which we are aware, are still around to ask. (If the money were still available, I’d claim it. After all, GW and I entered this thing for life.)

Wednesday also begins the formal construction of our Christmas Village and I’ll have more on that, especially if you’re new to our project, Wednesday. It is a giant undertaking which occupies most of our living room. I’ll be posting project pictures along the way.

Gator Wife will be on ‘vacation’ from her part time job until Friday.

The activity continues Thursday as two more projects are scheduled. I’ll begin with my senior fitness session then come home to work on the Village with GW. Also Thursday we’ll have a couple necessary project completed by professional work people. We were very late scheduling our chimney sweep so the chimney cleaning guys are coming Thursday. I take full “credit” for the delay. We got a post card way back last spring or early summer reminding us to schedule the cleaning. I didn’t so when I did call, the first day I could get scheduled was this Thursday.

Also Thursday gutter workers are coming to clean our gutters, check to be sure they’re still O.K., replace any that needed replacing, and install gutter guards on all of them. That will cut down on the cleaning as this old Bull Gator doesn’t do ladders any more.

I’m looking forward to Friday for a “Whoooh” day, but GW will return to her job. So the Gator Clan has a busy one ahead of us and not one that will give me time to rant. Probably a good thing. There’s that House so-call health reform bill . . .


Saturday, November 7, 2009

A nice, November weekend

What's any better than a roll in the leaves, especially
when it helps get them moved for the family?

The first full weekend of November has arrived, and the weather people tell us it is going to be a relatively nice one with Sunday being the better of the two days. November is always a good month as we make the transition from summer/fall to winter/spring.

More than that, however, it is a great month in the Gator clan as the old bull and his wonderful sow have their anniversary. It’ll be number 48 this year, not a major number, but still 48 years together is a wonderful accomplishment.

It was in November, 2001, when I had that adventure the many people believed would lead to my not seeing even that Thanksgiving. A burst aneurysm and heart attack had me on my death bed for more than a month and here it is eight years later and I’m still looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Christmas season begins this month, although some stores started the season as many as several weeks ago. Traditionally, it’s the day after Thanksgiving that brings the season into full bloom.

This is also the month Gator Wife and Gator Daughter and I establish our annual Dickens/Victorian Christmas Village from Department 56. That officially begins this coming Wednesday although we’re going to spend some time this weekend bringing the frame parts to the living room where we construct the village.

There’s just a chance GD will help us clear some more leaves from our yard. Those darn acorns may get some attention, too.

So we like November, a month of beginnings for the Gator family and a time that brings real pleasure. We hope you have a great weekend and your November is as happy as ours.