Copyright 2008 - 2016 Woodinville Wonderland
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.
12-25-14 - Wow is all I can say. Today is Christmas. Merry Christmas! For me the past month has been a whirlwind, and needless to say, not a normal Season. I have so mush to be thankful for, and am blessed. Emotionally I have been all over the map. The joy of Christmas, my Aunt Marie here with us, has been awesome spending time with her. She is so much fun, and while not my Mom, she is the next best thing. We are so glad she wanted to come to Seattle, and has been a great help around the house and the Display. She has been my other hand counting the donation proceeds. With my wrist, I have appointments 2x a week for therapy. My medical team, Surgeon & Physical Therapist, are outstanding. The 3 of us meet a lot, talk about my progress, and plan where this has to go. Only time will tell. Both have brought their families out to see the display, so they now fully understand what THEY are up against. The month has been strange. Mild weather, but oh, so wet. Christmas Eve it poured. One of my best buds, Bruce Lobree is a saint. He has come out on my busiest of nights, last night included. Love that guy. Conner Gracia has pitched in as well. I am really thinking my schedule strategy moving forward. I need more volunteers, no doubt about that. I am going to enjoy the rest of the day, we have dinner with Tracy's family later this afternoon. Thank you all for your love and support and putting up with my eclectic & random thoughts.
12-13-14 - The Season is well underway. Our Special Elf helpers have been out several times to keep us looking good. The wind storm we had this past week, we actually survived it pretty well. Our Harley Gang, Ma & Pa Santa tipped over from their respective roof ridges and needed to be up-righted. During the storm, our lights blinked off twice for a few seconds. We never lost power till the next day, but only for an hour. The area around us did not fare so well. Trees, power poles/lines were down all over. Wind storms are my biggest Seasonal worry, as you can never predict Mom Natures fury. We had a bit of a snafu with our Woodinville High volunteers, and last night being our first busy night, we had one. I think we have a workable solution because I am not supposed to be exerting myself much to help the wrist heal. So less time outside! Argh..... Thankfully a neighbor from Timbercrest Jr High wants volunteer hours and we are seeing if others want to help fill in. With the late start to our Season, our donation totals are lower than we should be. I can't sort or count, so Tracy gets that task now. Last night, we had 5th graders from Emily Dickinson Elementary come out to sell Hot Cocoa, cookies and goodies. It was a great time having them sing Carols and peddle their goodies all for our charities. My aunt Marie is out from Nova Scotia, Canada for the Holiday, and we are ecstatic that she wanted to do this. So we are enjoying our time with her for sure!
12-8-14 - Man, it seems like a LONG time has gone by since that fateful morning of the fall. I am exhausted, and need some rest, That will make Tracy and my medical team happy. We had our dress rehearsal last night, and there are no show stoppers. So tonight we open it up officially for the season. I had a very emotional few minutes last night, when "Angels Among Us" came on. I was in my Home Office listening to the little radio I have there to monitor things. I broke down and realized just how blessed I am. I have some things to work on today, so more of an update will be coming.
12-3-14 - Well, what Tracy deems as her worse nightmare, came true just before Thanksgiving. After a late night of "fixit", on Ice Zee, and after a wind storm knocked Sally of the Peanuts Nativity off her back mount, I went to the roof to fetch her mount, and long story short, I fell stepping from roof to ladder. 4 days in the hospital put us hugely behind. There are a few links on the Facebook page articles, and t.v. spots from that article. Not a stellar way for promotion. This update is typing one handed so it will be short. Bottom line, there were a few guardian angels looking over me, otherwise I might not be in condition to post. Since I got home on Saturday afternoon, there has been what I deemed Team Woodinville Wonderland. Many, friends, fellow decorators, neighbors, etc... pitching in to ensure we have a display this year. I am humbled by the love and support, and un-selfish giving. Once I have more time, I will post more notes.
11-21-15 - Coming up on the end of our third day of vacation and Set Up! A lot of great progress has happened, but as the song goes, "I've got a long way to go and a short time to get there" ring true. I have come in from outside or the garage no earlier than 10pm on the past 3 nights. Tracy keeps looking at the yard and saying "it looks great, you're almost done"......... I say NOT! There is sooo much detail that goes into the Display Set Up! Testing, fixing, building, modifying etc... While the yard layout and most of the detail is done, there are still a few big project items to be worked on. I kept telling myself I should do the Procrastination Tree (Road Hedge Tree) while Mom Nature gave us cold and dry weather. True to form, procrastinating on it, Mom Nature said, "fooey on you" and we have rain for the next several days. Today is a garage day with some trips outside. Tomorrow is a short day as Tracy, I and some other great friends and decorating buddies make our annual Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) trek to Seattle to see this powerhouse Christmas Rock Opera. We all look forward to this activity. It always falls right in the middle of my big push, so I leverage it as a motivator. They yard layout does look great and flows well, some neat subtle sub vignettes have popped up due to the new new look. 9 days till planned Light Up! on Dec 1st and we are holding hope we can make it on Nov 30th. Check back.
11-17-14 - OK finally a regular update, or I should say more timely. A pretty good weekend overall. As posted on Facebook, the East Yard, that has now become the North Pole vignette is pretty much done. It was finalized and buttoned up over the weekend. This side of the property has grown over the past 3 Season's and this years marks when some regular items from the Main Display snuck over to complete things. What I call the Tree Within the Tree, it has 4 Trees, R-G-B-W and they are tall to short. This and its accompanying Leaping Light Arches are now located here. Below are the pictures I posted on Facebook, and will be the last pictures of the Display we will post so as not to give all the surprise away! The Display Layout is set and locked. Some fill in need to happen, but all the main anchor points are set. My helper Conner Gracia and Tracy pitched in on Sunday for input and suggestions. Tracy had not seen all the updates by walking around, and the 3 of us with Hot Cider in the early morning did just that. We looked and looked, and adjusted some item placement. Tracy loved some of the new layout, then whipped out a great new change herself. She gave me a great idea I had not really thought of. So naturally it happened. Problem is, now I have to absolutely re-string the wireframe deer that have not been in the display in 2 Seasons! I meant to convert them to LEDs, and I need them now to complete a part of the yard. All this is Tracy's doing. Last night I was able to get 2 of will now be 6 deer re-strung. Conner knocked out a decent punch list for me yesterday while I got back on the roof. That is so far behind at the moment. There have been other things to focus on, plus with the frigid temps, getting up there is right now only for afternoon time because of the frost. The computer work needs finalizing, and I can see I will be making adjustments to things even after Light Up! So things will be what they are to start with. I am going to try like heck to Light Up! on the 30th. I am officially off tomorrow from work all the way until the 1st. Although I can already see work commitments creeping into the mix........... This is the time of year when I wish I was able to slow time down. To start our 2nd decade of growing the Display, we wanted to really mix things up and, well, I think once you see the joint, I hope you agree. Keep checking back.
11-10-14 - In the past week and a half, Mom Nature has given us 2 wind storms very close together. Normally they are spaced out by a few weeks. The good part of that, is that they helped to knock the majority of the leaves off the perimeter trees that litter the yard with leaves (that were very late falling this year). This time of year, many hours are spent, cleaning the yard, literally. The lawn needs mowing still, the leave need to be cleaned up, but the biggest headache is the cedar droppings. They do not mow up very easily, and need to be raked up. The center planter island is the biggest culprit with droppings, as it has to be blown out to the lawn, then tended to. I hosed myself this season and applied the winter fertilizer a bit too late. I attempted to use this to assist with the moles I have in the yard, and get the lawn ready for the Spring. All this did, along with the warmer than seasonal weather is to keep the lawn growing. (Slap on forehead). It is cut down to the "Winter" height, but still, it wants to grow. Oh well. We did however, start to pull stuff out of hiding, and as much as possible, started to put items in the yard. The new Icicle Tree is up in all its grandeur. It was a bit more prep than I anticipated, getting the light strings to attach easily to the tier hoops. I had to create what I call Super Strings. As most of our display is, the Icicle Tree is all LEDs. LED icicle lights are nowhere near as dense as incandescent, such as on the house. These strings only come with 70 LEDs. So first each color has to be doubled up, to give me 140 lights. THEN, I have to take a Red, Green, Blue and White string, and zip tie them together, keeping the entire assembly managed, and try to straighten and organize the down drops. Not an easy task. Tracy helped me with the first 3 strings you see in the setup picture below, but I had a lot to make over several hours/days. So below is what I came up with, using our Yard Waste bin (full of course with lawn, leave and cedar droppings), and a bungee cord for tension. After the first big wind storm, I set up the Icicle Tree (after a BIG yard cleaning) as you see below. Pete, my next door neighbor and Display Conscious, kept telling me last year to "put more trees in the west yard!" So, I try to take Tracy's and the neighbors input and incorporate them. It helps as you can imagine. So Viola! We have a big change in the side yard, there will be 18 total Trees as the Spiral Tree will replace where the Light Fan usually went in the yard. The computer work is progressing, it should have been mostly if not all done by now, but, hey, it's been one of those hectic years that things are what they are. With the past several days, the yard is getting more and more populated, and I will take extra time off this year to get things finalized and set since it has been such a hectic year for us. Lastly, we are keeping our eye on the weather report with the call for frigid temps to hit our area tonight and tomorrow. I need to get the hoses and hose bibs all squared away. From here on out, it is a sprint to Dec 1st. Keep checking back for updates!
10-30-14 - The day before the scariest night of the year (besides my 4 busiest display nights of the Season!), Halloween. I have been overwhelmed with work and other items that have been a a bit of a distraction from the Display. That has been a bit concerning, but I hope to start getting on track as of this weekend. I found myself gone for 6 days to just outside Boston for some work training. Not unusual to travel this time of year, but I had not had to do so in several. It was a required trip, but it afforded me the opportunity to do one more thing for my Mom and Dad. If you have been following, when Mom passed 2 years ago, we co-mingled their ashes and instead of leaving them in one place, me and my siblings have been laying them to rest in the places they loved, and where they were born. Dad was from just outside Boston. So they were taken to Lawrence, MA to the house he was born and raised it, plus my grand parents are buried in a historic cemetery there. They were laid to rest in both spots. Tracy and I took Mom to Nova Scotia this past summer. We visited my Aunt Marie and had a great time. I just got great news that my Aunt Marie wants to make another trip to Seattle at Christmas! We are excited about that news. OK the display. Well the yard is getting there. There is still a lot of leaves in the trees. We normally have had 2 good wind storms by now, but to date, we only had one, and that was last weekend. We did not lose power surprisingly, but we did not lose all the leaves either. I spent most of Sunday cleaning up. The lawn is now at its winter height, and needs to slow down a bit more. I did myself no favors by fertilizing it a bit late this year. It wants to still grow. Plus we have had an un-seasonably warm Fall. No super cold nights yet. That has not helped with the leaves either! So if you drive by, you will see some familiar features already out, but I am way behind where I normally am this time of year. I hope to start getting caught up this weekend and will solicit some help from Conner Gracia who has been a great help at times the past 2 years. I will schedule some extra time off work like I did last year and I should be good for a Dec 1st Light Up! Inside computer work has been underway since the beginning of Oct and I am about half way done updating the show songs, announcements, and bits with the new elements and layout. By changing things in the yard each year, I always add more work in this area than most, who just keep their displays the same. I move things around and and promised, there is a big juggle coming this year. I got some Christmas related news last night, and I have to sit on a secret for a few weeks, but I was very jazzed after a call last night! I will say more later. One more item, is that we have quite a few new neighbors in the "hood" this year. I really do try to keep a low profile about the Display. However the neighborhood Facebook page had a very recent thread about things. I always want to be supportive of our neighbors and not be too much of a burden on them during the Season. As we get more turn over each year, it becomes more effort to reach out to the new neighbors and discuss my philosophy about things. Being busier does not help that effort. So depending on how busy I am, I do hope to get more regular Blog updates with my progress. Check back.
9-20-14 - Well the calendar is getting away from me, the air is getting cooler, and the leaves are thinking about turning color. This is the last weekend of Summer, Autumn is coming fast. The dry summer has caused some of the trees to drop leaves already! There was a lot of work done last weekend and this week with the Icicle Tree. The pictures below give you an idea of what it is all about. The pulley assembly, shown in the lower right, was the key. The original unit, went through 3 modifications, and ultimately I scrapped it for the unit show below. What was happening, was as I pulled the rings up the pole, weight and the way I had the cable originally routed was causing problems. The weight was making a pinch point at the pulley on both sides. Then the pole itself was bending, sort of like what happens with a bow and arrow, when you string the bow. I needed to get the cable routed as close to the pole as possible, and allow it to move more easily. Hence I added more pulley blocks. Problem solved. This is by far my most technical element in terms of engineering. It really tasked my brain. The sites Facebook page has a lot more pictures of the evolution, and if you have a hankering to see, go check them out. I am now working on the strings that will go onto the rings. LED icicle lights are no where near as dense as the incandescent strings that outline the house. So I double up the strings and have to zip tie them together. I am almost done with the RGB Pixel strings for the RGB Tree. I had 4 failed strings, and my vendor shorted me one. So hopefully those get shipped this weekend to me. 3 more need to be strung, and then 2 spares. Ice Zee's stage needs some work, I have to get the roof prepped (get rid of all the wasps nests, yuck!) etc... The big push for Set Up! is underway. I am juggling when the official date will be due to calendar commitments. Needless to say, the focus is now the display and getting things finalized and ready to go. I hope to start more regular updates to the Blog as things continue to move and get done. Tick, tick, tick, the clock never stops. Oh yeah, one more thing. Chuck Smith of Planet Christmas, asked if I would write an article for Planet Christmas Magazine. I did so based on some material I presented at Christmas Expo this past Summer. Check out the article, click on this LINK. Thanks for checking in.
8-27-14 - Coming up on the long Labor Day weekend always gets folks thinking about back to school, Summer is winding down, Fall is quickly coming, and at times, it can be felt in the mornings. It is key transition time for me. While I have split time with family, house, work, and yes the display to some extent, after Labor Day the push starts. It has been a hectic Summer, which for use is not unusual, and I have not had as much time on the Display as I would have wanted. The Facebook page has had a few more updates, so for those who visit the Blog, this will bring you up to date as well with our progress. I have been working on a few Display items over the Summer. The first major project was to re-string the newly revised RGB Pixels onto the polyester banding for the RGB Tree. 56 stringers had to be redone, and I am about 2/3rds of the way home. 43 have been completed, and 13 more to go. Below is pictures of a new jig a buddy of mine (Brandon Whitehead) came up with. I leveraged it, and it did shave time off the each string doing it this way, along with giving my back a break. The pixels are put face down into holes drilled into the 2x4, the polyester band is tightened over top of them, then zip ties are put around the pixels, tightened and cut. All told each string takes me about 18-20 minutes, shaving about 5-6 minutes off from what I did last year. I am praying with these strings, that the RGB Tree is the masterpiece I intended. Thomas the Train, and that entire vignette will have a new look. The tracks needed repainting, and I used high traffic/traction paint. The paint had sand, and I added crushed walnut shells to add more material for traction. The first coat is on the tracks, one more coat will be put on after this one cures, so in about a month. I am sprucing up the Engine with a new coat of paint, and the details will be redone, and the wheels on it, along with all the cars were replaced. With all the efforts to combat the slippage occurring last season, the tires were pretty worn down. There will be 5 new sections of static Road Arches, that will be the newly revised barrier for the East Yard. Those arches were made back in April/May as written previously. Then we have some "hide" paint on a few things. Ice Zee's new stage, the Icicle Tree Base, and the supports for the Train all got painted black to make them less obvious. So the list as it stands right now is to get the RGB Stingers finished. Then work on the icicle strings, (again R-G-B-W) for the new Icicle Tree, and get the center pole, pulley systems in place to put UP the Icicle Tree, then get Ice Zee all set up and ready to rock. At some point the inside work needs to take place, with the logistics and update to all the songs, with hopefully at least one new song in the show. I hope to be able to replace the Red Roof Outline with RGB nodes, but with time slipping by, some things may fall off the plate for this year. That about brings everyone up to speed. Tracy and I will be camping for the long weekend, and then, the real clock starts ticking toward Light Up! Thanks for stopping in to check on things, I hope for more regular updates as we transition our activities.
7-28-14 - A lot has transpired in 2 months since my last update. I am just getting back from a 2 week whirlwind vacation. Of which I was limping into that, from 4 months of work travel and activities. One of the busiest stretches I have had in some time. I really needed the vacation for certain. Plus in all that, I had to get finalized and ready for Christmas Expo. The vacation, and Expo went awesome for sure. Tracy and I spent time by ourselves, then with friends in New Orleans. It was our first time there. Then off to Biloxi for Christmas Expo, and a ton of work for the conference. It was a huge success. After that we were off to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia to take some of my Mom and Dad's ashes to where my Mom was born and raised, plus visit with family. I had not seen that area of the world in about 37 years. We had a fabulous time. Then spent an overnight in Toronto to visit more family. Whew! In all that, there was some work that was happening on the display, but not a lot. We ordered lights for what is now going to be officially designated as the Icicle Tree, formerly the Wedding Cake Tree, in addition to getting the rings for that tree delivered, assembled and a bit of a mock up done. The base is done, and I still need to work out how I will raise it, but have a good idea on that methodology. I built Ice Zee's new "stage" and it needs painting and then the material to cover him in. Plus, he needs plugging into his controller, measurements worked out, and then to add him into the show! In the next day or so, I need to sit down and really plan out my new additions and lock it in. I have a LOT to do, maybe more than I realistically have time for due to the last 4 months of work and Expo effort. Facebook got a few updates and pictures, so to save time on this post, and website push (to publish my Christmas Expo material) I will keep this short for now and have you go check out the display FB page. More to come in the next week or so. Promise.
6-1-14 - Another update. Seems we are in our typical monthly schedule for Blog updates this time of year. Work has been very demanding on my time for the entire month of May, and June it will only accelerate. I am gone on business almost the entire month of June. We executed another very successful C.L.A.P. local Christmas gathering on May 3rd. We had about 45 folks attend, and a great time was has by all. More Honey-Do's, around the house captured most of my "spare" time. Christmas Expo planning is picking up, and boy, I have been wore out and wore thin of late for sure! We had the front doors to our house replaced, and I spent the entire Memorial Day Weekend prepping and painting the inside of the entry, and the front living room wainscoting on the wall. The doors still need to be finished, prepped and painted from the outside, and that is what I tried to get done this weekend, or at least to the point where I can get them done possibly next weekend. THEN! I will be done with the Honey-Do's for this year. I wanted to get some yard work completed, but the calendar is flying by. My battle with the Moles in the yard has gone well. I have trapped 3 so far this Spring. Good for me. I usually have better luck later in summer. I bought some new style traps that seem to be working very well. Hopefully after next weekend, the focus can then be on the display. Some planning has been done, I finished the 4 small Leaping Light Arches, and the 10 new Road Arches. The Wedding Cake Tree I am having the rings fabbed for me instead of making them myself. I am about ready to order new pixels to replace and make the pixel light strings for the RGB Tree. I then will have to make 50+ stringers again, arghhhhh! A quick post to catch anyone up checking. I hope to update more as I get moving on the display items.
4-26-14 - Ahhh, Springtime in the Pacific Northwest, almost no better time other than Christmas! The yard starts to bloom, the lawn starts to grow, the birds are singing, rabbits playing and the gosh DANG moles are still hangin' around. On Facebook I have the Mick and Moles game being described in play by play, ala, Baseball style. With what they do to my yard, I guess you got to have some fun, right. Everyone comments on how great the yard looks this time of year, but in reality, if you walk out there (or mow in my case), you see and feel all the damage they have done. Dips, divots, indentations, undulations etc... I need to really do some filling in and leveling at some point. The Honey-Do list grows ever longer too. We replaced the front entry doors and now they need patching, priming and painting along with the jam on both sides. One of the yard arbors needed a bit of a refresh, so I pulled it out of the ground, refinished it and got it back in place. All that while Tracy was in Mexico, enjoying fun in the sun with a girlfriend at our timeshare in Mazatlan! What's the saying "while the cats away, the mice will, work, work, work!!??" LOL. Most of the pre-season buying things is done, with one exception that has to be ordered in the next day or so. Those are R-G-B-W LED icicle Lights for what may be the new Wedding Cake Tree. I need to make some concentric rings, 7 and then suspend them. Should be a good look. Our local Christmas gathering, C.L.A.P. is next Saturday. Most everything is done from a planning perspective, we just have to execute, enjoy the day, talk about Christmas Lights and relax a bit. After that, then comes Christmas Expo, the national meeting. I am working on getting stuff ready for that event too. And then there is Christmas. I have been testing new pixels for the new RGB Tree. I have to order those still, but no matter what, those will be the same price no matter when I order them. I have been in the process of making 4 mini Leaping Light Arches, (LLAs). With the yard re-design, all the "trees", or most of them will go into the side yard and out from under the full sized LLAs. So these smaller ones will be located under the big ones. There is a system I have to help me put lights on the LLA, as you can see from the pictures below. A buddy of mine came up with this jig set up, Lowell Fuher, and while it does not get used often, it is great for when I need it. In the pic, you can see a foot switch at the end of the red extension cord. I power the drill to turn the PVC pipe and I feed the lights. It still takes me a little over an hour to do one stick but it is much easier this way. I will also be making 5 more sections of the Road Arches to make a barrier for the East Yard and keeping visitors from getting at the Train. I will use this jig to help me make those as well. I also have been fixing things. The smaller multi color trees, what I call Mini and Midi Trees have what I call LED Super strings. Basically 4 strings of each color, R-G-B-W, and they are zip tied together, and strung on the frame. When an LED string goes out, I have to take the one section off the frame, cut the lights apart, remove the faulty string, lay a new string in place, re-zip tie, then rehang on the frame. Not trivial. I have 8 Midi and Mini Trees like this. 7 needed strings replaced, and a few of those needed multiple strings replaced. I had to order more 100ct Blue M6 LEDs as for some reason, blues want to fail the most. A lot to manage this off season, and we are off and running with what will be the biggest juggle so far of the display. Thanks for stopping by, keep checking back.
3-26-14 - A few weeks since my last update. Not much on the display front except to say, my eye is still on the 2014 plan. I have one more light order to put in, and I have picked up some used LOR controllers from fellow decorators. I should probably be expanding the use of my Lynx Express kits to add channels, but these come fairly inexpensively, and they are very reliable units. Most of my time of late has been consumed with Christmas Expo planning, our local C.L.A.P. get together, work, and the Honey-do's are already piling up after the winter. Christmas Expo has gone surprisingly well from a planning perspective. We have assembled one of best curriculums I have ever seen. I have 2 classes I will present. Fortunately most of the work is done on them, and I just need to do a bit more work on the Decorating 101 subject. This will be the "freebie" track for anyone to attend, hopefully enticing them to sign up for Expo and see the rest of our subject matter. Our C.L.A.P. meeting is rounding out nicely. Most of our traditional vendors will be supporting us again. Our local agenda is once again, top notch. I will do a dry run of my "Art and Presentation of a Christmas Display: The Holy Grail to get some practice in for Expo. Final planning will start in a week for this May 3rd event. Then comes the yard. I have a lot of tailoring to do to the lawn as the moles have wrecked havoc, and there is dips, divots, indentations etc... that make it difficult to walk, mow and most importantly, decorate on! Tracy will be heading of to Mexico with one of her girlfriends, and one of my best buddies, Tom Lieb will be coming up to Seattle to have some fun play time. I just got back from a whirlwind Asia trip for work. I visited Shanghai, Penang/Kulim, and Singapore. There was a few hours squeezed in there to get some down time and sight seeing, but the trip was brutal on the body, as we did that in 10 days. I got home this past Sunday, and my body is just now getting back in our time zone. Now, on the display, I have to order LED icicle strings for a new tree in 2014. I am going to create a smaller version of the Mega Tree that Ron Lister (Christmas Wonders) has created. This will be the 3rd item I have "borrowed" from Ron. I have had to fix some of the LED Super Strings on my Mini and Midi Trees. I have about half fixed, then they can be put away . I have a BIG list of mods and changes I am tracking for next season, and will start juggling fixing the remaining items, working on the new features, and keeping Tracy happy with the Honey-Do's. Thanks for checking in.
2-18-14 - Well 2 very important dates around our house have come and gone. Valentine's day and Feb 16th, Tracy's Birthday. I had intended to take her over to Chelan to a B&B as her present(s), but with the weather we had, we opted to stay home. Thankfully, as we probably would have gotten stuck over there with the conditions of both passes between the west and east side of the mountains. We postponed our weekend to this coming weekend. Tear Down! is almost a distant memory, but NOT quite. It is about 99.5% done. The Procrastination Tree in front of the house still has most of the lights in it. I have to work on most of that tree by climbing inside it. With the weather as wet as it has been, I can't get up there as the branches are very slippery when wet. Like the rest of the country, we have been getting hammered with rain in the past 2 weeks, plus we did have a good snow that lasted 3 days at our house. The RGB Pixel Tree has all the lights off it, the Topper is down, and most of the stings are on the lawn. I started to clip off the pixel strings from the riser carriers as those will be put into my failure bags and donated to Bellevue Botanical Gardens, Garden D'Lights. Remember the pixels were a miserable failure this year :( I have a test string that has been running in the backyard for over 6 straight weeks, so there is promise for the coming season with a new pixel for sure. That tree will finally be the masterpiece I have been planning for years! The last of the 3+ miles of extension cords required to power and connect the display are out of the yard and drying. They will get put away tonight, and then Tracy should be able to get her car back into the garage. The entire yard needs a LOT of work in the offseason, as Mick and the Moles have really wreaked a lot of havoc in it. There is all sorts of dents and divots in the lawn that need smoothing out. As soon as the Pixel Tree gets moved out, the work can begin! Planning for Christmas Expo and our local C.L.A.P mtg is well underway. Expo has had a lot of work done so far to the education tracks. I am really looking forward to this meeting, as it should be a lot of fun. This will be a very busy off season with all the modifications and work that needs to be done to overhaul the display, the items that need fixing and attention, plus all the Honey-Do's! around the house/yard that are backing up too. The 2014 Christmas Light Fight show approached me once again to consider doing this. I hate to keep saying no, but there is no way I can comply with their requirements. That's all for now, I just wanted to post an update. Thanks for checking in!
1-29-14 - It has been a few weeks since my update and a in some ways not much has happened, and in others, lot has gone on. I attempt to not sweat and stress about Tear Down! A display at this level certainly has it's time commitment, and I really try to balance things. So to date, I have not yet spent a full 2 days on a weekend on getting things down and away in January. Normally I have a deadline of a family vacation in mid February to get things completed. That is not happening this year. So I took a day and a half to go to our property in Lake Chelan, visit L.A. for a very special B-Day party for Mike Z of the famed ZTree, and visits to old neighbors and dear friends. I have spent some weeknights working on getting things down, and am about 1/2 done with everything. Super Bowl this weekend will again only give me about 1-1/4 days to focus. With the Seahawk's in the throw's of the championship etc... Sundays have been spent at my Bro-in-laws Man Hut, just literally down the street from us. This place is truly a marvel that rivals my Christmas Display! He has been published in articles and featured on the landing page at one point of MSN.com. I have been approached to be part of an Advisory Team for a national event called Christmas Expo. What started out (in my mind) attempting to be a very light participant, has turned out to be a passion to make this event a success. That coupled with our own local Christmas gathering, C.L.A.P., I have some planning work on my plate. I will be presenting at Christmas Expo material I feel very passionate about, that is geared toward a national audience. More on that later. 2014 planning started even before 2013 was finished. With the difficulties of a new feature, the RGB Tree, I was chomping at the bit. I started planning in my head almost mid-December. Most of that in now on paper, and I am working some key activities to bring it to fruition. I have to have a fairly good sized LED light order that is due in by tomorrow, with already 2 orders in to vendors for other very specific items. More orders are due in the next 2 weeks to get the best pricing available to me. I want to really make a big splash in 2014 as it will be year 11 for us doing a Mega Display. Really, the past 8 years, things have progressed to a certain point, and I want to really juggle things up next Season. So more than usual, I am putting cycles into changes, additions, and the like. The RGB Tree has to have a HUGE overhaul. The product used in 2013 was miserable. So research is being done on what to use in 2014. I want this to be the center piece I have been planning for 3+ years now. Also, Jr, who will be deemed IceZee, will be incorporated into the show as our new Master of Ceremonies. His personality is already being worked on. His new stage is in planning and, he will have a few accompaniments that will be a big hit I believe. All of this and more needs to be re-written into all the scripts, bits and announcements. Fix-it work needs to be done on display items, man I am keyed up about 2014, the most I have been in quite a few years. Late in the Season, the Executive Casting Producer of the 2013 show, Christmas Light Fights, approached me to be in the 2014 show. I very kindly turned them down. A lot of my Facebook fans and guests said I should be in that show. I appreciate the sentiment, really. I knew half the participants in 2013. One of them very well, namely the Simmons's in Cathedral City, CA, a goomba of mine. The requirements are numerous, and for me, prohibitive. I am on one man band, so to speak, and have a huge balancing act already with life, family, work and the display. Plus, I do what I do, out of love for doing it, the joy it provides my family, friends, neighbors, supporters and guests. I have all I need from you all. Thank you though. I do believe I could do well, but have no desire to have to prove it. Tracy and I are really involved in our property in Lake Chelan to build a 2nd home there. Already I have the outline for a Christmas display is in my head for that place. One of the best things, my next door neighbor there, just recently found out about what I do, and is already talking about what we can do between our 2 houses! Gotta love that attitude! So a 2nd display is in our future! Chelan Christmas, or something named as such. Tracy is already rolling her eyes at me. Let's see, what have I left out, oh! our CHARITY! For Special Olympics of WA and the Northshore Wranglers, we came in at a whopping $7574. Woo-Hoo! Our best year to date. My visitors, ROCK! That is what pumps me up. We have done about $34K for our charity in the 7 years we have had collection. THANK YOU!!! We are all about giving back, and with your help and support, we accomplish that. Lastly, pictures! I did take some this season to capture the additions and changes. They should be posted soon in case you did not get by to see us. Well, thank you for reading this. Thank you to those during the Season who mention that you read this. I find it creates a nice outlet for me to pour things out of my brain. Keep checking back, and oh, in case you did not get it, GO HAWKS!
1-6-14 - The display is now closed for the year. It's always a little bitter sweet when I walk in the garage and throw the switch after the last show of the year. We had a wonderful Season, not without it's challenges and those were mostly technical. Our guests continue to amaze me in so many ways. First, just the joy, love, and support they give to us. I get emails, cards, letters, & IM's during the Season, all heaping accolades and thanks. The Thanks truly needs to go to all of you. Friday night, our last night, we had folks here up to and after our closing announcement. They did not want to leave! However, after all cleared out, I then started to pull some things in immediately. The road parking cones, signs, Santa Power panel, Donation Box, and some of the blow molds out on the road or in the display entrance. Saturday was spent getting the electronics out of the yard, and a few other misc items. Saturday afternoon, Tracy and I decided we would head to Lake Chelan and our property over there. It was nice to drive, have dinner in Leavenworth, WA, spend some time with Lindsey, our bro-in-law, then wake up to that beautiful view that we too will have soon, when we start our cabin over there. I spent some time on our property looking at things to get situated so we can start the building process. This year I will split time to manage the Chelan project, and our Display. Tonight, I will have to break the "Tree in the Window" down and put it away, and that will be a wrap for Woodinville Wonderland Inside. Outside will be a process over the next several weekends to pull in, dry and put away. As always, balancing time becomes paramount. Work, Tear Down, and life all needs to be considered. During the next few weeks, I have to decide on a direction to take for next season. While I have been running different scenarios in my head, they have to somewhat take a formal tact as a light order is due by the end of January or mid February. The RGB Tree is already being researched for new a product to light it with. The yard will get a big juggle I think. I have several new items to contemplate, and several from this year that need refining, such as Ice Zee our new MC. So there will be a lot to keep you posted on during the coming year. First up is the planning for our annual C.L.A.P. meeting for the PacNW decorators. I took some pictures on Friday night. Not a lot, but enough to capture the uniqueness of 2013 over other years. They will get worked on this week and posted here and on Facebook. I guess I will sign off for now. Thanks again for taking the time to read these random thoughts, and too, for telling me that you do read these. I appreciate you all for that.
1-1-14 - Happy New Year! I'll update this so that I can go vegetate in front of the tube watching football and relaxing. 2013 is behind us now. It was an interesting year, and not all bad for us. We were just very busy, mainly with work and life. There was one sad note when my nephew passed away unexpectedly, and there is still some family stress, but that will always be the case with families. 2014 should see the start of our cabin at Lake Chelan, which should be exciting. So closure, and new beginnings, isn't that what today is all about? As far as Woodinville Wonderland, we have had an outstanding year, that saw visitation be consistent. There were new Traditions born, and old ones realized. So many smiles, accolades, a few cards and emails expressing thanks for what we do. I could easily have taken 2013, just like 2012, but in the end, I really love sharing our passion with our neighbors and guests. Speaking of neighbors, our Honker, the one neighbor for the past several years who expressed his displeasure with our celebration, was cooperative this year. I did see him drive past and not a sound. Just a hi-beam flash at one car. I can take that. There is some blading of the road shoulder, and some rock that should be brought in to make things less muddy in our parking areas. I should see if my bro-in-law will bring his tractor up to assist. The display has 3 more nights, and like all years, I have a lot of grandiose ideas and plans for next year. As life weaves it's way through that path, we will see what is in store for Woodinville Wonderland for 2014. I have a LED light order to place in the next few weeks. Our donation total surprised the hell out of me. The way visitation was going, I thought we might even come in less than 2012, but as we stand now, purely our cash donations are over $6850 and my company has not kicked in its contribution yet. That exceeds our total from 2012! We have awesome visitors who support our display, and SOWA and the Northshore Wranglers. I am in awe with everyone. No major weather issues this year, and I just hope that Mom Nature gives me just partially what she bared in our Set Up! time. OK time to feed the dogs, get some coffee and relax one more day. Thanks for taking all the time to read my random thoughts.