Copyright 2008 - 2016 Woodinville Wonderland
We are officially underway with projects. Got my list
of things to build or fix. First up was to create a device I have use in
other areas of the display, a Portable Hole Lite. The brainchild of Walter
and Jackie Monkhouse of Magic
Christmas in Louisiana. 2 dear friends and fellow decorators. Walter
came up with this idea a few years ago, and I employ 2 of this guys big
brother, the Portable Hole. I am making 2 Lite versions this year to help me
with getting Elfis and Rudy up in the air. I usually have 2 - 3/4" gas pipe
frames to hang them, but those take about 3-4 hours doing it myself. They
require guy ropes to stabalize, and I inevitably hang myself running into
the ropes all Season, because they are black. These Lite Holes will
then be coupled with another of Waleter'd designs, the ASAP. Which stands
for A Strap and A Pole, to allow me to winch Rudy and Elfis up in the air.
More to follow as I progress through the build and fix season.
7-21-16 - I am officially an invalid for at least 3-4 weeks. Carpal Tunnel surgery this past Tuesday puts me out of commission doing much of anything. Typing is a PITA with a splint on my right arm. I have looked into getting some help for a few songs, and some planning for the Season can start as well. I don't do well not being able to do much. Perhaps I can get the pictures from 2016 posted on the webpage.........
7-18-16 - Well another Christmas Expo is in the books. Tracy and I got home yesterday afternoon, and unfortunately I carried home a head cold. Oh what a time we had. It was soooo much fun connecting with old friends and decorators from around the country, and forging new relationships as well. The sad fact is that it goes by too fast. The current Expo management and Education Committee members blew me away with an award as pictured below. I am not good at recognition in this sense, as I feel there are so many others who give more to the community and hobby. However, it is good to feel that your peers respect who you are, and what you do. For that, I am humbled by this. Now that I am home, there is a scheduled Carpal Tunnel surgery that I have to have on my right wrist. Now if you recall, this is my GOOD wrist. It is in much worse shape than my left from a nerve standpoint. Which, by the way, the left wrist needs it too, but it will have to wait till after Tear Down in 2017. So I will be out of commission for 3-4 weeks. Now that Expo is behind me, and with the restrictions I will have for a few weeks, I guess I get to start the planning for this years display, and start my computer work. That is all I will be able to do for a couple weeks at least. The main focus is going to be getting 2 new songs added, and ensure that IceZee gets a part in the show. I may juggle the yard a bit, again, and there is a lot that needs fix it attention. Before we went to Expo last week, and just before my birthday, Tracy and I flew to Florida to be with my sister and her family for a mini family reunion! We had a grand time there with my nieces, and husbands, and great nieces! They are growing up so fast. So the past 2 weeks have been 2 nothing but travel for Tracy and I. Thats all for now, I will post more after surgery and as I get more seat time on the computer for the Display planning.
5-19-16 - Hard to believe its been almost 3 months with no update. Mainly because there is not much to report on Christmas, the story has been water issues in the HOUSE! Argh! Tracy went to Hawaii as mentioned in January, and I decided to replace the downstairs water stops to 1/4 turn jobbers. Well, that proved disastrous to some extent. To summarize. The laundry room sink had 2 major failures of the stops. Both about 3 weeks apart. Both were caught relatively quickly so no major damages, just inconvenience. The carpet in the Master Bedroom had to be pulled up twice and dried out. The water stops themselves proved to be the culprit. Of which I am not happy with the product McLendons Hardware sold. The issues were not enough to individually warrant a Homeowners policy claim. THEN in between those 2 events, while I was on the east coast for work, one of the water lines in the Master Bathroom (yes that was on a NEW water stop I put in) failed. Tracy caught that one quickly too. When we built our house, we put carpet in the Master Bath. Not a wise decision then, but warm on the feet in the winter. The leak made us decide to pull out the carpet and put down marble tile to compliment the other marble tile for the walk in shower. So we are extremely sensitive to water anything these days. The house just this week got put back together with all the doors back in place (almost). I have to pull the Master Bath door back off to trim the bottom a bit to account for the slightly higher floor the tile causes versus the carpet. Tracy's car lease is up in August, so she has had me out looking at new rides to replace her "Beamer". That search is still underway. The end of April saw our local Christmas PacNW Christmas gathering, C.L.A.P. What a great day! We had 60+ attendees on a Chamber of Commerce day. The entire day was focused on Christmas, Yah! In early April the effort I assist with for Christmas Expo, got kicked off. I am part of the Education Committee and we are getting ready for the conference in July. March saw a trip to Naples, FL to visit our friends the Allison's. We flew down on Easter and had a week of nice weather, golf, and great times. A badly needed week off. This was make up for missing my time off in December with work. Work has been extremely busy all year so far with no let up in sight. Somewhere here soon, I have to schedule a carpal tunnel surgery very soon on my right wrist (my good wrist!). THEN sometime early next year, I will do the left wrist that I broke last year. I could do them back to back, but that would put me out of commission for almost 3 months. So then the Display. There has not been much time at all to focus on that. That has me concerned as there is so much I had planned. I am halfway thinking of scaling back a bit this year, but I am not certain on that either. All will depend on how the next few months go at work and home. Whew! So that was a TON of update in a short paragraph. I hope to get another update sooner than 3 months from now. Thanks for checking in.
2-23-16 - The days are noticeably getting longer, but Mom Nature is sure not wanting to let go of the rain. We have had record rain falls in WA this year. Seattle typically gets approx 34" of rain a year, statistically very close to Phoenix, AZ (how bout that!). I heard that from Oct 1st to Feb 1st we had 32" fall, and we broke the Dec to Feb winter total that is over 22". Man that is a lot of water. The lawn really needs some serious attention this year, and I started that process with moss control and lime that was applied this past Sunday. Today I will finalize the donation totals. Again, it has taken me longer than usual to get this squared away. $7437 total for the year! A new record for us. Our visitors rock, no doubt. SOWA and the Northshore Wranglers appreciate what we do for them, and they are great to work with. On Tear Down, well since I mentioned the yard, before I could apply those items, I had to get the last of the items off the lawn. The Spiral Tree, Tree within a Tree, and Thomas the Train's tracks were still hanging out. Sunday I got them taken down first. There are still tree trunk wraps, the C9's on the house and one window wrap. Outside of putting stuff away, there needs to be some organization in the garage to get things squared away. THEN I can start the real Honey-Do's. Tracy wants the Dolphin Pond complete and a new arbor off the back patio to replace the one we had. Work has lightened up some, but 2016 already has shaken out to be a busy year. There is one international trip planned for May, that being a trip to India. Bangalore for sure, and possibly Noida which is outside of Delhi. Our C.L.A.P. meeting is April 30th and I may have to jump on a plane the very next day.........
1-25-16 - Well I have been baching it for almost a week. Mrs Claus went to Hawaii while I stayed at home to work and break down the display more. I am owed a lot of vacation time that I missed over the Holidays, and took last Thurs/Fri off, but it was to work on Tear Down. The weather sucked! Thursday I was in the garage most of the day, but the times I had to go out in the weather, I got drenched even with rain gear on. The Tear Down has gotten off to a slow start, simply due to residual Honey-Do's that needed attention, because they were ignored all December long or before that even. I have a list of things I squeeze in while I can. Finally this past Sunday, the weather, calendar and clock aligned to let me get on the roof and get the majority of items down from there. Saturday with it again pissing all day, I built a shelf in the Shed covered area for what will be pixel and icicle strings from the RGB and Icicle Trees respectively. The primed view is below. I need to get paint on it, only then can those 2 trees come down, and the Window Wraps that get hung below the shelf. I have gotten quite a bit done at least in the past week. However, there is more yet to come. So the focus will start to turn to our local Christmas gathering we call C.L.A.P. scheduled for April 30th. Also the big Christmas Expo Conference I have helped with the past 2 years, the city was just announced. Chicago in July it is I guess. So I will keep this short to get outside and get a few more things done, display and Honey-Do!.........
1-3-16 - Alas another Season has come and gone. Closing Night is always met with bittersweet emotion. We do work hard to put the Display up. We enjoy it almost more that our visitors. So shutting down after only 33 days is sort of anti climactic. We finished up with new friends and neighbors, both of which should be adding joy of their own to the Season next year. Tracy dismantled the inside of the house yesterday, except for the Tree in the Window. I love our home during Christmas. It is festive, we love to entertain, and sadly that all now ends too. I have some reflection to complete on the display, photos to get of the various new elements. The RGB Tree became reality finally. So there is work to do in the offseason, and the intent is to revamp the show, and finally get IceZee running things. Keep following us. Thanks for all your love and support.
1-1-16 - The start of a New Year. A day of hope, healing, reckoning, resolution. A day I normally just lay low and chill out. I usually need it by now, and I really do, but however, not today. I will try snowshoeing for the first time. With my abdomen injury I am told I need to start pushing things a bit, not over doing it, just extending. I have not mentioned that much in this Blog, or even out greeting visitors. I mentioned more about this back in my August/Sept entries. During the month of December, with all the running outside, battery for Thomas the Train, etc... I really did not need to do my PT at home. Part of that too, was there was no time to do my PT this month due to work. So I now need to focus on getting myself as whole physically as possible. I am not one to usually make New Years resolutions. I do get very reflective during the Season in general, this year, I have not really had the opportunity to do, so. So hopefully today in the grandeur of Mom Nature, clear skies, crisp cool air, I can look at things in the right perspective. I always remember how blessed I am now and throughout my entire life. I try not to forget that. Alas, there is 2 more nights for the Display. I went out last night and looked at all the maintenance I did not get around to fixing due to my work schedule. The Display still looks great, but needs attention. I hope to get pictures myself, and a regular visitor took a lot plus video, and I will sort through that to post my Photo Entries for 2016. Peace, love and happiness to you all in 2016.
12-27-15- Sorry the lack of updates here. It has been crazy. Work completely tossed a wrench into all plans and activities. I was head down, basically 10 hours till time to set up the Display, manage the street, work a bit after Shut Down, go to bed to start all over. Did all my shopping online. I am exhausted right now. I worked last week, which is supposed to be off, and I will work again this coming week till this project is presented to the customer. I will get my time off after the 1st of the year. The week of Christmas saw our traditional visitation ramp. I lost all my WHS volunteers. Not a one showed up. That was very disappointing. If it was not for my neighbor helper Jacob, one of my best buddies Bruce Lobree and a new friend, Christopher Kent, I would have had to manage all the street and parking myself on my busiest nights. Bruce and Chris came out Christmas Eve THANKFULLY! Our family gathering for Christmas was at the Woodinville Grange. We rented it to have a larger more open venue, which turned out great. Bruce came on Christmas to manage things till I got home at 7pm. Tracy and I normally have a long fun day shopping, and it was Christmas Eve to have lunch, and split up to get things done for Christmas Day. Sadly IceZee suffered in all this. Once again, he was not active in the Show. He looked great in his new stage. His one song got about 1/2 done and remained there as I just had no time. Even regular maintenance suffered some. Christmas Night I noticed some weird stuff happening on the roof, and yard. After focusing on it, I had to replace one of my wireless waypoints that controls the roof and DMX universe. Once that happened, the roof then looked like it should. The visitors have been awesome! A lot of newbie's and some really LONG time visitors who continue to support us. I have no idea where our donation total sits as I have not been able to sort, straighten and count the monies. I am going to see if Tracy can spend some time tomorrow on that effort to get running total. So we have one more week and I decided to close down on Jan 2nd. I hope to get some pictures and possibly video of the display. I had some long time guests, the Pittman's take a lot of shots and vids, so I am hoping maybe something comes out of that. The RGB Tree has gotten A LOT of attention. It too needed tightening, since I had really not seen that programming in 3 years. I will have to scrub all my songs to really get that to look even better. I only noticed the glitches in programming, but it still looked marvelous. Man, without regular updates, I know there is sooo much I am missing. I will close for now to get some more work done and then go to bed.
12-16-15 - Well my 2 week break evaporated for now. It looks like I will be working the next 2 weeks. I was looking forward to that time off, and it will probably happen in January. With burning the candle at both ends and then the middle out, I am now fighting getting sick, not surprising with all the directions I have been pulled this year. The by product is that Ice Zee may only just be a vision in the display, and not an active part. That will be disappointing, but, hey, he is looking good, and giving folks a taste of what's to come. 9 more days till the BIG day! Plenty of opportunity to come see us.
12-13-15 - My oh my. The week we just went through was un-precedence in all the years doing a display. 10 days, 5 major storms, almost all with wind and rain. Finally last night, the wind got us. It knocked out the power at 9pm on a Saturday. Not good. We had a house full of guests and visitors. Not too many on the street, but they still had to be escorted to cars etc... Then I found out our backup generator lost the AC output. Without knowing how long the power could be out, I found a neighbor who had a spare just to run the 2 fridges. I personally am worn thin. I have 2 more grueling days and then a bit of a breather through the remainder of the year and Display Season. The yard needs to be blown out with some of the debris, but at least we are running. We have some maintenance to do, and I lost a controller tonight, that needs replacing. OK so off to close the show down, push these updates out, and get some work done for my regular job. Keep checking in.
12-11-15 - WOW! is all I got. What a week and a half. We went from cold to warm (relatively speaking) and then wet, Wet, WEt, WET! On top of that was wind. We must of had 10 inches of rain in 10 days. Our Season got off to a bit rough start, as one of my key Elves, Don Kohler helped me get 300+ connections done on Sunday before Light Up! Testing that night went to the wee hours of the morning, 1:30am to get a punch list. Monday the 31st was spent getting the major issues taken care of. The RGB Tree, fired up, and tested fine, but was a bit "off". I had a firmware update for it on Dec 1st and installed it. More on this. On Dec 1st, we did some final testing and delayed Opening Night! till 7pm. Some of our regular visitors were out there chomping at the bit to get going. Don Kohler and his wife Roxy were here, Don has been a Godsend this year for me. Without him, we probably would not have made our Dec 1st schedule. ight at 7pm, the Show started and was a bit rough as Opening Nights go. The RGB Tree, looked awesome as it was WORKING finally, but there were a few glitches in it. Some edits to configurations, and checks of everything yielded slightly better results, but was still off. Then on Friday, Dec 4th, another beta firmware hit my inbox from Advatek. BANG! it was ALIVE! Oh man, I was doing a happy dance at the Street Entrance almost all night! I finally saw that tree operate as intended when I started 3 years ago. The Madrix programming was rough, but also the majority of that was set 3 years ago and never seen, so never tweaked. As rough as it was, it was marvelous! All the visitors were very impressed. Things were moving in the right direction. As usual, items had to be fixed that had been sitting idle in the elements for weeks. That punch list is still in place and has quite a few items on it, most guests would never know. The one major exception, is that the Road Tree is still not lit. I hope to get to it. Ice Zee's new stage looks great, the Present Gang is getting a lot of uuhhss and aahhs. Thomas the Train. Well we thought he might be a static item all Season, but even he is cooperating. However when the weather gets very cold, he does not run. Oh well, I need to re-think him for next year. Now for Mom Nature. Oh MY GOSH. We were (and still are) saturated. All our rivers are at flood stage. The wind. While we did not suffer much damage, the East Yard was dark Tuesday Dec 9th due to the fact that the Northpole sign took a header in the wind. While not significant from a Display perspective, the only thing broken was the actual North Pole plaque at the top. However, the communications for the East Yard equipment sits on top in back. So it just made sense to wait till I rebuilt the base for the Pole. All is fixed at this writing. Other display Goomba's did not fare as well. I noted on Facebook those with issues. I am looking to make a big sound adjustment this weekend. I am going to use a job radio in the East Yard, but put outdoor speakers in the main Display area. This will give me one point of adjustment to those 4 sound points and improve the sound quality greatly. Impeccable timing, as UPS just knocked on the door and delivered the new speakers and control center! They will go in the Display tomorrow! So we are off and running. I guess one more update, is that I am having some logistic issues with my normal Woodinville H.S. volunteers. Tonight I will go off without anyone, except my faithful Elf buddy, Don Kohler. Did I say he was a Godsend? Work tossed me a Hot Potato project, a critical customer presentation this coming Tuesday, so I have really been max'd out. I need a nap before the show goes off, and to check one set of lights. Thanks for checking in. There is a lot more, but this gives you a good taste!
11-30-15 - A quick update. "Baby its cold outside" has been the case for a week. Temps have been in the low 20's at night. The past 2 weeks have been productive, but hindered with a 36 hour power outage, and now the big FREEZE. The display is set up. Almost all the connections are complete. Yesterday was a 17 hour day to finalize most of the connections, and do a test of those connections. Now starts a long punch list. Some of which involves the roof and with the cold, it is not safe to get up there. Typical logistic items, but the cold has not helped things at all with regards to sitting idle. I am hoping for a Light Up! and Opening Night on our planned date, tomorrow Dec 1st. I am back at work today and will get to the Display about noon to get working on things. A lot yet to do. Please follow us on Facebook too. While I love doing the Blog, it is a weird way for me to release and express things, but I have to make an cognitive effort to update it. More of an update once things get rolling for the Season. Thanks for checking in.
11-10-15 - A good weekend last weekend despite the fact that I did not have my neighborhood helper. Instead I had to call on neighbors and buddies to get 2 more trees out into the yard in their respective locations for this year. The Spiral Tree and Tree within a Tree get assembled in the driveway and then hand carried out by 4 of us to the yard. With my abdomen, I had to bow out and get 4 helpers. The West Yard is pretty set now. Center Stage and the Street Entrance is getting there, and the most sparse so far is the East Yard. Thomas the Train is getting a work over on the tracks and once done, and the tracks get in place, the rest of that vignette can get set up. Everything is out from under the house. So the Blow Mold collection sits outside my Home Office window and has been slowly dwindling as they get put in yard locations. The west roof pitch got a makeover as well, and I really liked how it looks. Next is to see it in action for the final judgment. Tracy started Woodinville Wonderland Inside, early by all accounts. She wanted to get a jump on things as things always seem to take longer now. What's up with THAT! This always poses time challenges as she does such a fantastic job of decorating, but certain things she needs help with. One of those, is the setting up of the Tree in the Window, which did not make it out last Season due to my wrist injury. I have started on that, and am coming to the sad realization, that, yes, we are getting older. Debugging the lights, I have a highly specialized tool to assist with incandescent mini lights. It creates a buzzing sound at the bad bulb/socket. My buddies say how they get help now with this and I always shushed them, as I had no problems. Well I got problems now! I can locate the area, just not the exact bulb. So I ordered a stethoscope to help with that one! So that Tree set up is going slower that needed due to that. Since the Tree did not make it out last year, there are a lot of lights that are out on the tree. Way more than usual. So Inside is transforming, I have my things to help her with, and still need to balance outside and the remaining computer work. I am off work as of this coming weekend until we Light Up! Not sure Mom Nature is going to be kind, because the long range forecast right now looks wet all the way through Thanksgiving! Time to push an update, and get back to work! Thanks for checking in.
11-5-15 - I need a break tonight. Don Kohler came over yesterday and we whipped out the Sprial Tree, and I had him start the Tree w/ in a Tree while I finished mowing the East Yard. Tuesday I started getting all the crud up off the lawn. Oh my. That was a lot of work. It took me hours to mow 2/3rds of the yard, mainly the West Yard, where all the cedar dropping were. There had to be over 1500lbs of that stuff to get up off the lawn. However, the point to note, is that it is UP and the lawn is mowed. Below is a picture of the size of leaves I have to contend with. Fortunately these only fall in one part of the yard, but they laugh at the mower when I try to suck them up. So after Don left last night, I got a bite to eat, then started hauling out some Leaping Light Arches for the RGB Tree, and Icicle Tree that is already up. I set up the Lighted Forest for the Icicle Tree vignette, and the train wireframe was taken down out of the attic, tested and put out in the yard. It is not secured yet so I hope no wind crops up. I started Ice Zee's song this past weekend. It will be slow going, but should be done by Dec 1st. So tonight, I gotta take a break as I had some things to get done at work, early Physical Therapy this morning, after a late night last night in the yard (11pm). Tracy mentioned she was possibly coming down with something, and I felt some wierd things too. So a break tonight, update all you with a Blog entry, then find the coach to veg a bit. Below is a picture of the RGB Tree all set up and ready for testing. It only needs controllers, comms and power to get fired up. Possibly this weekend. If all goes well, I can run it at night on Fridays and Saturdays in support of UW and the Seahawks. Give it some added burn in. Starting the 14th, I am off work till we Light Up! Updates will be fast and furious here and on Facebook. Thanks for checking in.
11-3-15 - A productive weekend despite Mom Nature. She opened the faucet and turned on the fan Friday and Saturday. I thought I might get a chance to start the major clean up on Sunday, but NOOOOO. The yard was saturated, AND it rained more on Sunday. The yard was sloppy. The big PITA this time of year is the cedar droppings. They get wet, heavy and plastered into the lawn. So it takes mowing, raking and mowing to get them mostly up. That will have to wait till the yard dries a bit. Maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. So thanks to Jacob, we managed to get all the stuff out of under the house, and tested. The Candy Canes on 236th are in place, and most of the Road Arches in front of the house. Turns out somehow, I am missing a few brackets for those, and had to order a few more from 3G Lighting. I don't have time for a search and rescue, so Mike there is sending out some new ones. Jacob has been a great help, along with Don Kohler & Pete Peters. Between at least Jacob and Don since they are very close, if I get more help from them here and there, I should be back on schedule soon. I guess most of it is that I am off the way I normally go about things. I have 2 weeks off, and 4 weekends in November, so I should be OK in the schedule in the long run. I still have to get IceZee's song done, and then get him into more of the songs during the show. The RGB Tree is completely up, tightened up and possibly ready for a test at any time. I just have to put the controllers out there, get the comms in place, and fire that baby up for a test! So probably later this week. So I push this update up, take a break from the garage and do some sequencing! GO BABY! Keep checking in.
10-29-15 - BOO! OK that is all I do for Halloween...... Friends of mine, also Christmas decorators, are quickly trying to get things rolling for the next few days to raise the dead so to speak. Here its all I got to get Christmas up and running. A lot has gone on in the last few weeks, albeit in reality I am very much behind schedule. Due to my abdomen injury, I could not get onto the roof, plus Mom Nature did not comply when I had some help. However, the house Icicles are up, and the roof/house is starting to shape up. There is a lot of lights on the house and bushes that are not there yet. My large Icicle Tree was the first major item up. As of this writing, the RGB Tree frame is up, pixels have arrived, and I tested them, and got them into the strips, and hung on the Tree. Everything needs to be tightened up, and finalized. That Tree I hope will finally be the spectacle I have planned. Both Tree within a Tree, and the Spiral Tree frames are up and waiting on lights. The Candy Canes line the driveway as well, plus some of the Road Arches for the East Yard. I am working on Thomas the Train track to hopefully make traction better as well. This time of year, I really attempt to bend time due to all my time constraints, but needless to say, I am juggling, and that includes Tracy still tossing Honey Do's at me too! Friends, Pete Peters and Don Kohler, have helped out so far, and I have secured one of the Neighborhood kids, Jacob to help out. Jacob gave a hand last year with yard stuff. Speaking of yard stuff, Fall is a bit late, and there has been one cedar dropping so far. The leaves are doing OK, but we need a bit of a breeze to get the next set of cedar droppings to fall. They are actually the main PITA in the yard. The leaves are tough to get up since we have some maples, with HUGE leaves around us. This weekend they are calling for some wind, and that would mean a full day on Sunday getting the yard cleaned up, and then lights too. So it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but there is SOOOO much to do, and yes, I am behind. Keep checking in, and look at the Facebook page as I can update that a bit more regularly.
10-9-15 - Slow but steady progress on the computer work. My RGB Tree is making me nervous, because the pixels are not yet in hand to get those stings finished. I am trying to get an update on delivery. I am fixing LED strings and checking lights now, since that is all I can do at the moment. In that, I took a look at my DMX floods and had to send 5 of them in for work as they had LEDs that were out. Complimentary elements got delivered for the Present Boys. I am getting excited about the layout. There will be just enough different to really give some sizzle to the layout. In a normal year I would have been on the roof last Sunday, but that is not in the cards for a week or so...... Keeping my fingers crossed, I see my Doctor next week and will ask him what he feels my limitations need to be moving forward. Off to do more computer work, maybe get in the garage later to assemble a few things............ We are rolling now. Keep checking back.
9-25-15 - If you are checking in here and not on the Facebook Page its time for an update. Since the injury is hindering what I can't do as far as lifting, exerting etc... I have to focus on what I can do, and that is light garage fixing things work and computer programming work. There is going to be 2 cool new vignettes to compliment Center Stage. Part of this is to get IceZee into the Show. The other part is something that was re-purposed to us from Mike Ziemkowski, of Sherman Oaks, CA and Lights on Display. Mike is a fellow Polack and very cool decorator, and I get to call him a friend. He has been doing Christmas, Characters, animatronics, etc... forever. Our hobby has gotten more ideas from Mike than almost any other decorator. He is IceZee's Dad so to speak. Mike has his company Seasons Greeters, and he wanted to update his own Display this year with the new generation product, so he flipped me his Present Elves as seen below. Not sure what I will call them yet, but I am leaning toward Snow, Moe and Bill (say it fast). Sorta fun. This year they will be bopping about, not sure how much background vocals they will get. Between IceZee and these boys, a lot of the Show needs re-vamping. All most likely 2016 updates. I have a handful this year already. I have started my computer programming work. A huge thing is to refresh and update the "master template" which then gets overlaid onto all my older material. Only THEN can the new updates be programmed. A picture of my Animation screen is below, and it assists me in my song updates, and actually now better reflects the yard set up. Especially the Icicle Tree and Mega Forest. There is a plan for 2 new songs, we will see how aggressive that is. I have new hardware for the RGB Tree in hand. The pixel risers are made and waiting on the pixels to arrive and get plugged (literally) into the material. That frame will need some work to accommodate the new stringers as it will be slightly taller! In the garage, I have started fixing light elements that have LED light problems, and attempting to create a plan for when Set Up starts, what can I work on first, since the roof is out at least till the middle of October for me. So there is going to be a LOT of new things to see and experience this year in 2015. I hope I can get it all done in time, tick, tock!
9-1-15 - The abdomen situation is still a bit iffy. They are taking the approach to address things with physical therapy for now. While still a serious injury, they are not looking to surgery right now. They can't rule it out, especially with one of the muscle tears, but hope that PT does the trick. I start that effort today for 2 weeks then follow up with my GP after I get done. Over this last weekend, on Saturday, we had a weird storm blow through, literally. Rain and wind. Knocked power out for us for about 20 hours. Storms like that usually occur in late Oct or early Nov. I rely on those storms to assist with knocking leaves down, but to have one like that in August is very strange. No damage to our yard, per se, just a few branches down, but a mess in the yard for sure. I spent the first part of Sunday blowing debris out of beds, from the street and driveway onto the lawn to mow up. I started to mow, and realized I was pushing things too much with the injury, so Mrs. Claus, Tracy, thankfully finished up. I am not supposed to be pushing myself, nor lifting anything heavy for a while. With the yard cleaned up, there is the matter of the front yard fountain. That may have to wait a week or 2 after Labor Day to get a buddy over to help get things finished up. We will see. in the mean time, I can work on small projects, and get things moving inside on the computer for 2015's display. We will have to see how things progress and hope that I can get some help from my new neighbor Ian (who has child coming any day now, and wants to get involved) or get some of my elves from last year to help for a day here and there. More updates to follow, that's it for now.
8-26-15- Well life just continues to pummel me. Taking a long weekend in Idaho visiting friends, I managed to completely trash my groin/abdomen while wake surfing. I can't believe it. My wrist last year, my mid-section this year. Today I am seeing the Seattle Seahawks Orthopedic Surgeon to see what my fate is going to be. I have been walking around for the past 10 days to some extent, which by some is amazing in itself. My regular G.P. is the former Seahawks Physician and is very well connected and got me into this specialist. The injury I have is not very common, and to list the details makes me even wince. So needless to say, my display has been on hold for other reasons, and now it continues to be on hold till we get past this appointment today. Over this past weekend, Pete Peters our long time electrical guru, and close friend, came by to install "D" rings on my roof so that WHEN I can get up there, I can clip in. Tracy is happier now, but who knows when I can get up there now. We are still waiting on the new RGB Pixels to arrive, and they should be early September. The items we bought in Ft Worth while shopping at the Decorators Warehouse there have shown up. A lot of that is to build out Ice Zee's stage, and to create a really cool, Kodak Moment spot for our guests. Mike Ziemkowski generously flipped me his older elf presents, and they will be re-purposed here. I will ensure they have a great new home, and we are looking forward to getting them into the 'Show". Anyway, I just wanted to post a quick update, keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I head out the door for this appointment.
7-19-15 - Just getting back from a week in Ft Worth, TX and Christmas Expo! What an amazing, AMAZING time. While a tremendous amount of work while there, since I was teaching and helping, the energy, seeing old friends, getting to see forum buddies and meeting them for the first time face to face, was just phenomenal. 2015 Christmas Expo was definitely a success, and it was great to be a part of it along with my peeps who were either on the committee, or buds from WA and other states teaching subjects. I am beat, as we just got home. I am posting my class presentations for folks to grab before the CE site gets populated. It was HOT in Texas. Every day was 95-100+ degrees with a fair amount of humidity. We got a chance on the front end to chill a bit, run Tracy around to some quilt shops to get some kits she wanted for a big national quilt of some sort. We spent some time at a place called Decorators Warehouse, self defined as the largest Christmas Store in Texas. While we have no idea if that claim is true, it was HUGE for sure and we dropped a few centavos on some display items for the house. We will be using some of this to modify Ice Zee's stage, and attempting to create a true "Kodak Moment" for our guests. We will see how far we get. There is so much momentum coming off this trip to get moving on the Display, however, next weekend we have a wedding to attend out of town, and I have the fountain, plus a pergola to finish for my great friends Bruce and Rosy's wedding. Now to unpack (literally), do some catch up around the house, and for sure, attempt to go to bed early tonight.
7-2-15 - A big order was placed this week. Advatek Lights was the vendor selected by us to be the pixel technology for the famed RGB Tree. This effort started during the 2014 Season, and progressed through the year till now. Greg Young of Holland's Holiday Lights, The Monkhouse's of Magic Christmas, Darren Huffty of Christmas on Cyrstal Springs, and Pete Peter's of Christmas at Pete's were all part of the discussion. Advatek is in Australia. Luke Taylor the principle owner put up with endless questions, via email, IM, Skype and phone calls from all of us. He was revamping his pixel technology line and the product, warranty and pricing all were weighed in this decision. I think all of us are excited for this to come about. We won't get the items to start working on till late August, so there will need to be a big effort to get the pixels restrung into a new configuration. This will increase the height of the tree at bit, but it should be the marvel we set out to create 3 years ago. Bell Wireframes showed up for the new addition. I hope to get those in place before the pixels arrive in August. These will hopefully be accompanied by a new song for our neighbors across the street. I started to look at options to get Thomas the Train chugging better in the display as well. I only have 2 projects at the house standing between me and the 2015 Display. The Dolphin Pond and a Pergola. Lots to do and time is now already running out.............
6-23-15 - A bit more timely in posting, and mainly this is a test. With the new home computer, what I call the Build Computer for the Display, as mentioned previous, I ordered a new one. Switching over is always time consuming, as I have to ensure everything vital to household, life, Display etc... has to be backed up, moved, then ensure things are running properly on the new one. I am in the final stages of completing. This is one task. The website. I use an older tool to manage it. So this ensures that all gets transferred both ways properly. 2 of the trees will be getting new base rings. There are 5 altogether. So the Tree within a Tree, and the Spiral Tree are affected. The rings are now assembled, cleaned and hopefully today they will be painted. At least movement on the display! One more significant Honey Do on the list and one pergola to build for a very good buddy of mine. Tick tock...... THanks for checking in.
6-12-15 - Wow, 2.5 months since my last update. This has got to be one of the longest dry stretches in my Blog ever. Sorry about that. Needless to say, it has not been all fun and games. Where to start. Shortly after my last post, in April our Golden Girls, Jasmine and Deeogee turned 14. 3 days after that, very sadly we had them both, together, walk across the Rainbow Bridge. We were devastated. Our companions, our source of joy, the light in our lives was gone. Both had individual health related items that help us make that decision. Had we let one go, most likely within weeks, we would have had to let the other go. So it was better to take one sad day than spread it out. We had someone come to the house, and Tracy, Chris and I were all around them. As sad as it was, they left knowing how loved they were. It was a very symbolic day, as we had beautiful weather up to that Monday, and then that day, it was dark, gloomy, and rainy. Now you think that is tragic, and it was, but our story is not over. Since January, Tracy's Mom had been in and out of the hospital. Mostly in. Battling many, many things, but initially it started with the flu and pneumonia. That manifested into complicating her congestive heart failure she had been battling for a few years. Other complications ensued. Alas, one week after our Golden Girls, almost to the hour, we passed Mary into Heaven. A gut wrenching 1 -2 punch in our lives. Tracy is still having a hard time with it all. Her and her Mom were so very close. They shared sewing as a passion together and spent much time in sewing rooms, and classes collaborating. With all this, I made the decision, that the Memorial Heart we did for my Mom 3 years ago in our display, will be resurrected for Mary, Jazmine and Deeogee. We will feel this loss for a long time to come. But life goes on. During that time, I was still in PT for my wrist. There is no bad news on that front. I am mostly done with PT visits, and doing stuff at home, and now working the wrist to get it functional. The feeling is S-L-O-W-L-Y coming back to my thumb, index and middle finger. Typing has gotten SOOO much better, finally. It will be at least 18 more months before things fully settle down and I see what it will be like for the rest of my life. At this point, scar tissue still hinders it, I still have discomfort and it is still weak. However I do see progress. Come October and Setup! we will just have to go with what it is. At least I am able to mow the lawn using my large 36" commercial walk behind machine. Also several weeks ago, I pushed out 3 yards of topsoil into some of our planter beds getting ready for compost. Topsoil is HEAVY, and the wrist really felt it. Then, starting the Saturday before last, and finishing this past Sunday, all told I pushed out 15 yards of compost into all the beds. Yes my wrist REALLY felt all that. I have given it a break the past 3 days and started some exercises just today a bit. Lets see. Next our CLAP meeting was the first Saturday in May. A great success and time. I had buddies stay with me here and then we convened at Nancy Foley's house the night before. 8 of us packed her place for a sleep over, rather than the 80 minute drive on Friday and Saturday back and forth. It was a nice diversion to talk about something fun in all the crap we were dealing with. Also in all that, I also was working on our National gathering, Christmas Expo that will be in Ft Worth on July 16-18. Most of the Education and Planning effort finished this week. I am teaching 3 classes, and fortunately all my material was already done, only one class really needed a good dust off. A good article was written with some info in the Planet Christmas - Spring 2015 Magazine. Here is a LINK if you want to read about it. A list of the curriculum I helped put together can be seen HERE. So from here we have about 6 weeks to cruise into a weekend of talking Christmas. I soooo need that break. Tracy and I will spend some time with Christmas buds in Ft Worth for 3 days before Expo kicks off. In all the hullaballu, with us being now close to empty nesters, Tracy and I decided to buy a little Travel Trailer to spend some time camping and chilling. We got it right after her Mom passed away, and have yet to use it unfortunately due to our schedule. BUT! the maiden trip is this weekend. Starting tomorrow we join our friends to break in our abode on wheels in fabulous Kent, WA. Yes, Kent. In the KOA they have. It is close to home, and few biking trails, so Saturday will be a bike ride. We have been spending all kinds of time and money, decking it out, stocking it and getting it ready to go. We are looking forward to some time away with nothing much to do. There are some RGB lights planned for it, but they have not yet made it here to go on this trip. We CAN'T NOT have lights on this beast! So this Blog is really supposed to be about my Christmas Display. Well needless to say, not a lot has happened on that with a few minor exceptions. We have decided a direction for our RGB pixels for the failed Tree. No order yet, but discussions have been taking place with the vendor. We are waiting for some samples to test before we pull the trigger. I am going to try to add some bells. I have long wanted to do this, and my buddy Darren Huffty, the famed week 3 winner of The Great Christmas Light Fight, is giving me an assist. He and my neighbor Marti across the street were the catalyst for these. Frames are ordered, and being made, I need to purchase some new controllers and get them made. Some new rings were ordered and picked up that will retrofit on the Spiral and Tree within a Tree. Those need to be painted and fixed to those bases. I have a LOT to do with how the Tear Down! went from the end of last season. I probably have more on my plate than time, but we will see what we can get done. There is a few more Honey-Do's for the house, and a buddy of mine getting married this summer. So eventually sometime will have to get spent on the display. Wow, it just hit midnight, I did not think all this would pour out of me. I guess for now I will call it quits and post on Facebook that I posted this. I pray the rest of the year comes and goes without any more difficulty. Pray for us too. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, my primary home computer, the one I do MOST of my work on is in a state of disrepair. I ordered a new one (no time to build on myself) and am in the unenviable spot of having to get IT ready so I can START all my work for the upcoming Christmas Display Season. Yup, our lives are not ever without some sort of complication! Have a great Summer, more to come soon. Promise.
3-22-15 - We are hitting our stride getting into the off season routine. I have been working with a few fellow decorators attempting to iron out the situation with pixels for the twice failed RGB Tree. We have had some great discussions among ourselves and with vendors. The list is getting shorter and closer to making a decision. Hopefully in the next few weeks. I am going to move in a different direction for the carrier, and I am hoping that this too will help with making things faster. They say the third time is a charm, right? I certainly HOPE! so. Efforts have bee underway working on Christmas Expo and our local meeting, C.L.A.P. CLAP is May 2nd, and fortunately Lowell Fuher and Kevin Thomas has managed the heavy lifting this year with getting things managed. It helped a LOT. I had a bit of a mishap with the wrist yesterday. It was banged very hard in a slip/fall. It is the sorest it has been in a while. I fortunately get x-rays tomorrow. Both the doc and my Therapist are not going to be happy. I hope I did not create a set back. Taxes, argh! I spent most of today getting the end of year stuff cleaned up, all my stuff figured out to take to my accountant this week. Spring is here, and with that comes yard work. With the unseasonably warm winter, trees, plants and bushes started blooming last month! Well with that, the lawn started to wake up as well. I had to put a bunch of moss killer down, because it was bad this year. I had the gardener punch the lawn yesterday, and very soon it will need to be thatched, leveled or filled in area. One thing so far, is there has been no sign of moles since the last one I caught in November. I'd love it if they gave me a break for a season or 2, but I doubt THAT will happen. I have really not focused much on the display except to plan a bit. There will be NO new items this year. I need the RGB Tree, Ice Zee and the new roof outline in the show. My buddy and Great Chistmas Light Fight winner, Darren Huffty has spurred some changes I may try to attempt on the roof. We will see....... Thanks for checking in.
2-9-15 - Almost a month since the last update. So tonight I decided to get the website updated, and in some cases, fixed up. I did not realize some of the pages were as bad as they were. During the Season, one visitor offered free of charged to spiff and update the website, for FREE! She friended the Facebook page, we connected a time or two, and well, these days, nothing happens lickety split in my world. After the Season, I went to look for our PM's and dang! she un-liked the page and I lost all contact with her. A missed opportunity. Lesson there, in the moment, if someone makes you a hell of an offer, snag it right then and there. So for now we still have our antiquated site. Although, I still like the way this site looks and feels. Some have given me the same feedback. The Display is fully down and out of the yard, off the house. The garage and shed needs some organizational work, but things are mostly out of the way. The elves that helped were awesome. We finished up Superbowl Sunday getting the miles and miles of cords out of the yard. One of my best buds, Tom Lieb, who lives in Roseville, CA, and was also here the day I fell, came back up to help. Monday after the Superbowl, all the cords were in their bins or totes and at least out of the garage. Again, I am soooo thankful for the help. But, after all endeavors like what we just did, there is going to be more time next year in Set Up! while I try to find where everything is at! Things are tossed in bins and not fully marked. Nor are all the bins put away. The covered area next to the shed is packed full. OK so the wrist update. This week marks 11 weeks since the fateful fall. Today, I had x-rays and the first of my once a week therapy sessions. I also had to come clean with a confession to my PT Kristin, that I was on my roof yesterday. Tracy was not happy as was Kristin. I needed to get up there to put some Moss Out on it. There was a lull in the rain that has been pelting us for the past few days. Work is under way for our local C.L.A.P. meeting in May, and the team at Christmas Expo asked me to be a part of that team again. So I have told everyone that my role in those 2 events will be reduced this year to focus on healing the wrist, as October is only 8 months away. Lastly on our donation front. I finally got he numbers completed. We came in with donations, and the matching funds from my company with $6265. Outstanding given the shorten season we had. All proceeds will be sent off this week. So for now it is off to the hot tub for another session on my wrist. Thanks for stopping in, check back and see our progress during the year.
1-13-15 - Happy New Year! When I looked and saw nothing since Christmas, I figured I should take a few minutes and provide an update. The Season for us came to a close officially on the 4th. However, we did have an Encore! Thursday the 8th, and pictures were took on Friday the 9th. Saturday the 10th, 4 of our Special Elves came over to strike the Display. We have 2 days under our belt, and quite a bit down. There is a lot still out there, but 2 more weekends should do the trick. Upon looking back, I realize that I did not go much into detail of the "accident". Not that I want to provide gory details (as there are some), for those who may only touch this site, you were left in the dark. In the fall I took, I essentially fell about 9ft to the concrete in one of the highest traffic areas on our property. Right outside the side garage door, in front of all our garbage, recycle and yard waste bins, is where I landed. My left wrist had a major compound fracture, where my Ulna bone punctured the skin, severed an artery, ligaments, and muscle. In all the damage (I essentially pulverized my wrist). Where bone once was, nothing existed. The only bright spot in an otherwise tragic accident, is that the 2 nerves in your hand, were amazingly in tact, albeit pissed off from all the trauma. I spent 5 hours in surgery where my ace orthopedic surgeon, Dr. John attempted to piece the jig saw puzzle together that I gave him. Today, just about 7 weeks later, I can tell you he pulled off something short of miraculous. He had never in his career seen a wrist damaged like mine. I have a LOT of hardware now in my wrist. Plates, rods, screws. Dr. John then turned me over to his hand picked Therapist, Kristin. This duo, worked like hand in glove together on a plan so I could have function out of devastation. Both at points in the Season, brought out their respective families to witness what they could only see in their minds eye from my descriptions. They came, they saw, they understood, and got "it". I was in therapy 2 times a week since I got out of the hospital. I saw Beck at just about every therapy visit (even outside my appts with him). I will owe life to them. As of yesterday, I am in my 5th apparatus on my left arm. Only one week was I in a full cast. They were aggressive on therapy, but cautious at the same time. I now have a brace to wear outside of the house. I spend 30 minutes or so 2 times a day in our hot tub doing work on things. Progress to date is ahead of where they thought I would be months from now. There is a LONG way to go yet. Feeling has not fully returned to thumb, index and middle fingers. Scar tissue prevents me from making a fist normally. I can get close only after working one of my 5-7 sessions a day on my wrist, hand and fingers. A LONG way to go. OK enough about me. December was a blur, literally. I thank one of my best friends, Bruce Lobree for pitching a hand on Christmas Eve. One of our busiest nights, and one I had and can get no volunteers. It rained, and was cold, which worked in our favor, as by 9:30 the crowds were thin enough we both called it a night. Our RGB Tree failed for the second year, although after about a week I disguised it and it looked great. Ice Zee never made it out of the garage, much to Tracy chagrin. With all that was bad of the Season, then, after 3 hours working on a "Picture Sequence" so I could get some great shots of our huge success for the year, the Icicle Tree, the sequence turned out to be corrupt. Never fails. We got some pictures, and will work to pick the best ones to post, but alas. The Icicle Tree was better seen live for sure. It was marvelous. The Display had its weak points, a few gremlins, and typical light failures, but all in all, it was one of our best Displays to date. The yard juggle, the new additions, the Icicle Tree vignette, the East yard vignette, all turned out great. No one noticed the little flaws. I have 8 months to get my wrist to a point here I can start Set Up! in October. There will need to be a lot of work fixing things. I have a light order that has to be turned in, in 3 days. I need to take it easy and heal. Work, family, health. I am going to have to adjust priorities this year, and stick to it. Sorry for the length of he post, I could go on, and on, but the hot tub awaits for my night session. Bless you for getting to this point.