Sunday, November 25, 2012

Our seasonal celebration begins; the Village is Lit

The Celebration of the Christmas Season has begun in the Gator Home.  Our combination of the Victorian Series and the Charles Dickens Series of the Department 56© collectibles was completed Thanksgiving morning and the official lighting of the Village was held Thanksgiving evening.
Every structure, all the people, 90% of the trees, all accessories except a skating pond and a cemetery for the A Christmas Carol scene, is from the Department 56 collections.  We even use Department 56 "Fresh Fallen Snow" to give the display a winter look.
It is a large display covering homemade tables along three of the four walls in our living room.  Sadly for me, I have lost most of my steadiness over my three-quarters century of life and my camera is of the small, inexpensive variety.  These sample pictures aren't the greatest, but they will give you an idea of the display.
The first picture is that of this year's focus piece (although most of our visitors consider the Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol scene to be the real highlight.  The pieces in it, including Scrooge and Marley's warehouse, the homes of Nephew Fred and Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim's home, the cemetery, and other structures and accessories from the story to be the highlight.
This sample ends with the Department 56 Christmas Tree.




Monday, November 19, 2012

Village completion close; on target for Thanksgiving

Edited Thanksgiving PM:  The Village has been completed.  I'll have some final photos here later this weekend.  Now, we return to the original post.

November is a busy month for this Gator Congregation.  The Dad of the family also has been undergoing some health issues which has consumed a lot of time visiting, so far, three doctors and undergoing a series of tests.  I'm not doctor shopping.  The first was to my PCP who scheduled me for tests from two different specialists.  We think the problem has been identified but one final CAT (I think it's really CTA) Scan has been slated.  This septuagenarian stuff isn't an easy ride.

We could have finished our Village 2012 this past weekend if we had wanted to spend just another hour on it.  But football was beginning and the Old Gator does have his priorities.  The Village is a creation using Department 56 structures and accessories including vendors, people, trees and snow from the company's Victorian and Dickens collections.

We start each year on Nov. 11th with a goal of lighting the Village Thanksgiving Weekend.  We will meet our goal this year.
This a look at the main section, completed Sunday, but apparently I didn't have my camera straight or the settings correct.  But it does give you an idea.  Missing are the trees in the front section although you can see then on the mountain in the upper left corner.  Also missing is the skirt we use to hide the underpinnings.
This is looking across the Main's mountain to the front window which houses the Dickens' A Christmas Carol story.  All except that front above have been "treed."  All we have left to do is place trees there and then my wife and daughter will run a skirt about the base.  The final activity before lighting is letting the Department 56 Fresh Fallen Snow fall throughout the Village to complete the Winter Wonderland look. 

What's left should take about an hour, perhaps an hour and a half, and we plan to do it Thursday while the pies and turkey are cooking.  We could "light" the Village Thursday afternoon but haven't decided if we'll do it then or follow the schedule and do it this weekend.

Our next post here will be late in the weekend or next Monday morning and we'll give you a small look at the finished product.  In the Meantime, I hope you have a most Happy Thanksgiving.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Village construction continues; Could be finished this weekend.

This has been a rather busy week for me as I've been working on getting a personal health problem resolved.  Nevertheless, work on our annual Christmas Village has continued. 

As you've read in recent offerings, we construct a Department 56 Victorian/Dickens Village as the major part of our Christmas season celebration.  We begin on Nov. 11th with the goal of lighting the Village during the weekend following Thanksgiving.   It remains up until early January.

In our last post, we gave you a progress report of what we accomplished the first weekend of work.  Today's offering will be brief due to other circumstances.  We have made progress, however.

First, our depiction of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which we place annually in our front window, is nearly ready for the trees and snow and final tweaking.

We also have the final section base ready for the addition of structures, accessories including people, vendors, animals, skating pond, and other things.
I'm told there's a small possibility we may complete the project this weekend, a full week ahead of schedule.  If that does happen, we will wait until Thanksgiving for the official lighting of the Village.
I hope you have the opportunity to fully enjoy this beautiful but chilly November weather this weekend.  This is really quite a spell of good weather.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Village 2012 is underway

I just can't resist making a quick political comment.  We've heard all election season long that voter laws, such as photo I.D. and proof of citizenship are not needed because there's simply no voter fraud in the U.S.  Stories abound in the news media about "problems."  Here are just some examples of those "problems," but admittedly a biased view.

Imagine that little county in Florida which had a measly 141% of its registered voters willing to cast votes.  And that's just one of the voter frauds we don't have.

And here's another story we won't take too seriously...citizens in 20 states are petitioning the feds to secede from the Union.

Enough of political stuff...for now.

As we mentioned over the past weekend, the family has begun construction om our 2012 Christmas Village.  The Village is an annual event which grew from just one Department 56 Lit Piece to a collection that can't all be displayed in one season.  We begin on Veterans' Day, Nov. 11th, and plan completion no later than the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The Village remains on display until after the New Year.

We made terrific progress this past weekend.  Here are some sample construction pictures:

One section is a space behind a couch next to a wall.  As you can see here, the area has been cleaned to make room for the Village.

In the past, that little table has been stored under the display, but this year we've moved it to make room to crawl under the frame to manage the lights.

The frame for the Village is assembled out in the room and then carefully placed behind the couch.  Each year, the frame is disassembled and stored.  That makes the construction much easier each year.  Once the frame is in place and the corner piece (way back near the window) is attached, it is ready for a plywood top and then, as you'll see below, some Styrofoam to serve as a snow covered base.

Over there on the left is rough look at how the base appears when finished.  You may notice some holes throughout the base which is where the wiring for the lights gets hidden.  Those small extra pieces you can see will be used for elevations to give the finished display some depth.
Altough they may not be in the final position just yet, here we've added some structures as we move pieces around to create a Village atmosphere.  This is a beginning and far from a completed product.
Our signature corner section will give you an idea of the many different accessories we include.  There are people, vendors, trees, other accessories, and Department 56 Fresh Fallen Snow (not included here, yet).  Of course, you can still see the frame here, but it will be concealed with a skirt, the last item to go on the display next week.
If you are a Village follower, you may remember the focus piece last year was Princess Diane's home, Kensington Palace.  The focal point this year is another palace, a Department 56 numbered piece, Ramsford Palace.
I'll have more construction pictures in another, later post.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Great Weekend

This weekend begins another happy time in our household.  There are two reasons for our joy.  The second one is our traditional beginning of an annual Christmas Village we construct as our way of celebrating Christmas.  Here is just one scene from a village that is assembled on all four walls of our living room;
The village uses collectable lighted structures from the Department 56 Dickens Village Series, Victorian Village Series, and an assortment of other Department 56 pieces such as people, trees, street vendors, animals, and many, many more.  Even the Fresh Fallen Snow is from Department 56.

Every year we begin construction on Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11th, which falls on Sunday this year.  Our daughter has a long weekend from her job so we decided to take advantage and start building Saturday.  Our goal each year is to officially light the completed village during the weekend after Thanksgiving.  We’ve only missed our goal once, back in 2002 when I had a massive heart attack.

I’ll give you a brief look at the completed village on Nov. 25th and perhaps some progress views along the way.  You can also see representative samples of last year’s completed village here.
This is also the weekend when we honor the great American men and women for their service and for many, the ultimate sacrifice to keep the United States safe.  We thank all of the veterans from the beginning of our country and through today into the future for protecting this nation both at home and abroad through both peace and conflict.  Thank you.

The first reason and my main reason we are so happy this weekend, however, is strictly personal.  My wife and I are celebrating our 51st wedding anniversary.   
We had met in 1960 shortly after I returned to Maine following graduation from the University of Florida.  I told you a lot more about that story in previous year’s anniversary posts.  She has been my life ever since and her strength and support through several severe medical episodes is why I’m still here today.  I’d like to think I returned a little of that a couple years ago when we went through her cancer together.
So this weekend, the 11th to be exact, we celebrate 51 years of learning, growing, supporting, and loving. We’re planning on more. Happy Anniversary, Sandra, I love you and I’m so glad you’re with me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Phew! Time to move forward.

The battle is over, but I’d bet the war is far from being over.  That would be a safe bet.  After all, it’s about politics and in politics battle winners rarely simply walk away with the spoils.  The debates, the controversies, the ever changing of America will continue.  And so it is.
It’s hard to believe that we’re well into November and that Christmas is now only about a month and a half away.  We’ve got some stuff to get through in that time, though.  Next Sunday is Veterans’ Day when we honor all the men and women who have served in the Military since our country began. 

And, of course, there’s Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 22nd, another day of Thanks, but this for our own blessings that we have received during the past year. 

In my day, the Christmas Shopping season began the day after Thanksgiving and continued right into Christmas Eve.  In those days, the time was even shorter as so-called Blue Laws prevented many department stores from opening on Sundays all during the year.  Those laws have long since been eliminated as has that wonderful, happy short season of shopping. 
Shucks, the Christmas sales and decorations began showing up in our local stores as far back as last summer.  Even the Gator family begins its household decorations this coming weekend.

 I’ve heard some folk say they’re now anxiously looking forward to the arrival of some snow.  Snow in November is not uncommon in Maine.  I’m not among those snow-wishing folk, though.  Snow now scares me as my bones have become more fragile with age and I don’t want to fall and break something.  I do still love snow, especially snow that gently falls Dec. 24th and leaves a nice, pretty, clean white coating for Christmas itself and then leaves the on the 26th.  I call that a good snow season.
Wow!  Have I ever gotten away from the present!  A change of pace is nice, though, don’t you think?


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Polls have Closed.
Voting in Maine has ended, as it has in most of the Eastern Time Zone.
Thank you for your careful consideration of the people and issues and taking the time to vote.

Vote Today!!!

Election Day 2012

Today is a critical day for your local community, for Maine, and for the United States.  If you haven't yet had a chance to visit your polling place, please find the time and do it today.  Your vote truly counts.

Vote Today!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Election Day

Tuesday is Election Day.  At long last this way too long campaign season will come to an end for this time around.  I don't think it will ever return to a reasonable time as too many people want to take over America and the only way that can happen is to see how much money can be spent to control the outcomes.

That's too bad.  Our country is taking on a whole new direction similar to the directions of other failed countries around the world.  Instead of continuing to grow as a leader, we are falling back into being just average.  The ideals that made this country great are slowly eroding away and I feel sad about that.

I have already voted.  I'd bet that anyone who has read these comments over the last several years already knows how my ballot was completed.  But I'll jump in again to let you know one final time.

There are a couple of unofficial "licenses" that may affect my thoughts here.  One of the licenses is called "poetic" or "literary" license.  The other is a "political" license.  There's really not much difference between the two as it gives writers and politicians a "license" to express themselves as they deem necessary.

Politicians and people like me often write or say what they honestly believe even though often people who don't agree with us simply say we're lying.  You've read here before that two sides often have differing versions of the truth and the real facts lie somewhere in between.  In politics it is the negotiations of the sides, we call that "bi-partisanship," that lead to a compromise, probably a "real" truth.  That's the way it should be and that's when government works best.

Unfortunately, today's society has developed into hard and fast sides.  Both sides have differing views and they will not change.  That leads to name-calling and failure.  And government slides.  That's when outside radicals, both left and right, take over and the greatness that once was America continues to fall into that European model I mentioned earlier.

This has been one of the dirtiest elections I've seen.  It may even rank as the worst.  Both the Republicans and the Democrats have engaged in the debauchery, but from the mailings I've received I'd have to say the Democrats are by far the leaders of the pack.  The outright lies, personal attacks, and viciousness have ruined any credibility in the process.  I won't say the Republicans haven't also engaged in questionable campaigning, but not to the extent of the Dems.

I said very early in this year's process, which, I think, began at least two years ago, that one major flaw of the Republicans is the inability to fight the attacks.  It now appears that I was right, especially in the Charlie Summers campaign for U.S. Senate.  He learned nothing from the failure of Dean Scontras two years ago when he maintained a high road to loss.  Summers this year simply tried to maintain the high road and never countered the attacks on him.  Republicans don't know how.

Angus King, on the other hand, who started out saying he wouldn't go negative, began to lose to that high road so on the attack he went.  Following the Democrats mantra of say it often enough, loud enough, and the people will begin to believe it.  Attack without real threat of response and the election will be his.  (King, incidentally, may be unenrolled, but he is a Democrat.)  It appears now that his getting into the Dem playbook has led to success.

The two House seats are interesting.  In the First District, gazillionairesse Chellie Pingree Sussman hasn't needed to go negative.  She is capable of it as she showed Scontras, but the Republican candidate doesn't seem to be much of a threat.

The Second District is a different story.  Mike Michaud has held the seat for a long time and incumbents are difficult to replace.  Kevin Raye seems to be doing a credible job of it and the one totally false ad my Michaud over a kitchen in the Maine Senate was wasn't might be the difference.  I have no feeling right now about that outcome.

You know I always vote against bond issues.  Most voters still don't understand that bonding is debt that must be paid back through our taxes.  Bonds are loans, or mortgages, that have to be repaid with interest over several years thus increasing the cost of that new debt.  Bonds look like they're something the state is selling to get money.  Technically, I suppose, they are; but they're only paper.  Perhaps if the ballot question was rephrased from asking voters if they wanted to sell bonds to asking them if they wanted to borrow more money, the outcome might be different.  Probably not.

Fifty-one years ago this month, the man stood before the girl about to be my bride and me and finalized the occasion with, "I now pronounce you husband and wife."  It was "husband" and "wife," male and female.  He didn't say, "I now pronounce you spouse and spouse."  Nor was it, "Marital unit 1 and marital unit 2."  Nor any other combination.  It was husband and wife.  My values have not changed.  If anything, they've strengthened over the years as my wife and I have grown together.

Same sex marriage is just another step in the attempts to change our culture.  "There's no hidden agenda," we're told over and over again, just like those stories the Dems have learned to tell.  I'm not going to challenge whether or not the accounts expressed in the Vote No ads are correct.  Changing marriage in Maine will be just the first goal.  Edited Fri 5:45 PM...I hope those of you who believe the new culture will never appear in school saw the news on Ch. 6 this evening about the incident at Gorham Middle School.  Whern I added this, it had not yet been posted on WCSH6, but I'd bet it will be soon.  End edit.

Those things in other states (and now taking place in other countries) won't happen in Maine.  Well, they've already started.  Just two or three years ago one local legislator introduced a bill in our state legislature to remove the terms sons and daughters from our legal way of life.  Fortunately, at least in my opinion, the effort to officially rename them to Unit 1 and Unit 2 failed.

A difference between my generation and today's much younger ones is the teaching of history in our public schools.  We used to learn it.  One of the greatest of all ancient empires fell, primarily due to three things.  Society today is already facing two of them, perhaps even all three.  I'm not going to attempt to teach a history lesson here as you would better understand the events if you researched/studied them yourself.  Too bad we can't learn from the past.  Unless we do, our destiny is sealed.

I would suggest to you our best bet to return America to its greatness would be the election of Mitt Romney as President.  He wasn't my first choice, or my second.  But he is what the Republican Party has to offer this year.  I fear greatly what will happen to the United States if he is not elected.  Most of the fears I expressed four years ago have come or are coming to pass.

If you haven't already done so, please vote Tuesday.