If at First You Can’t Succeed, Throw Some Lights Around

Today is not going according to plan. In almost every meeting I’ve been to today, someone has been reprimanded for something. That usually doesn’t happen. Or, I’ve had to deliver bad news to someone, a thing I don’t enjoy at all.

My pretty corner with a very nice pinecone and pearl tree from Chelle’s.

To top all that off, I can’t get my email application to go online and get email on my laptop. I can see it on my phone, but that doesn’t let me click on Zoom links to get to meetings. I managed to get my work email via web browser, so at least I can respond that way. I will just have to do the same for my personal email, I guess. I have enough on my mind without systems going awry. Whine!

I do have a wreath and some other stuff you can see from outside my office. Next week the window glass will go in!

So, once I finally got out of meetings (some of which had been triple booked, because I’m not important enough to stop someone from booking at a time when I’m clearly busy), I gave myself permission to do something else. Meghan had brought me some Christmas lights that she wasn’t going to put up at her house this year, so I started slapping them all over the Pope Residence.

Because we aren’t spending much this year, most of our decorations are from last year. The gold tree looks good on the upstairs landing!

Since we’re closed, no one is going to see them, anyway, so once again I am decorating to cheer me up, or in this case, to take my mind off things.

Last year’s tree gets one more shot at cheering up the neighbors.

I put lights up that only a mother could love, they’re so uncoordinated, in my office window. I then draped some lights in the reception room, on the mantel, where we’d already put up the somewhat nice decorations. They don’t look horrible.

Well, we tried.

There were some red lights, so I put them on the credenza thing.

The red light district. I could have hidden that extension cord a bit better.

I put some on the hallway counter.

Making coffee and microwaving is much more festive now.

And the rest of them, I put on the stairs in a most random fashion. I figure they’ll look cheerful at night, at least. I couldn’t put any outside, since I couldn’t find an outlet anywhere. Darn.

Random lights

I did make my office a little more tasteful, with my newest Trail of Painted Ponies horse on the mantel and some other reasonable things. But, at least I got myself out of my rut and into a more cheerful space.

It looks fine.

Then it was back to thinking about work priorities! I wish I didn’t have a headache!

The weird cats are into the holiday act, too. If I’d been smart, I’d have gotten more of those tall silver things I have in Austin to put in the pots.

A 2020 Kind of Christmas Hope

Enjoying a raspberry Coke on the deck.

I’m tired. I’d hit all my exercise goals by 3 pm, so you know I’ve been physically active. It’s all good, though. Some of that time I even spent walking with my son. Finally. We got to walk and chat outside. It takes a lot of coordination to get to see each other, but it’s just so nice to hear stories of his work, his friends, and normal stuff like that. It was a pretty day, too. Cloudless!

I spent much of today outside, which was much better than the hours I spent yesterday in a chilly drizzle. My decoration and home improvements have been quite 2020. Allow me to explain.

Yesterday

I worked so hard that I bruised my hands, but I got stuff done I’d been putting off, boring things like changing the air conditioning filter that’s practically inaccessible in the attic, and replacing all the burned out porch light bulbs.

Oops

Unfortunately, the teeny nut that holds one fixture together fell out of my hand and landed somewhere under the deck. Anita and I searched for it, but no luck. I tried many things to save it, but failed big time. Duct tape only lasted a few minutes.

Ahh

Finally, today it occurred to me I had wire. It worked and hardly shows. 2020 ingenuity!

The main project I worked on yesterday was outdoor lights. Our next-door neighbor, Ruth, gave us 3 boxes of icicle lights. We had another one just like it, hanging around in the Big Box of Lights. So, I set about lining a long stretch of our deck with them. I used pushpins to hold them up (one way I got bruised). I finally finished, in a dripping rain, only to realize I’d put the female end on the far side, rather than close to the extension cord. Face palm. After going inside and sulking, I figured out a way to rearrange the cords to make them plug in. A 2020 Holiday Miracle.

You can sort of see the lights. This is right after I got them working.

I also set up some lights in a different spot from usual, down by the basement, where people driving by could see them. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that before. It was a start on a winter wonderland to match my indoor stuff.

Little sparkly trees outside the door to Anita’s den.

I managed to get up lights around the front door, with Anita’s help, and think it looks cheerful.

Not perfect, but okay. And the fact that I changed the bulbs in that porch light is a mini miracle. It was not easy.

Today

At some point, I had to drag myself inside and warm up. This morning, I was back at it, driven to use every single light we have. I’m not sure why I felt so strongly about it, but I think there were two reasons. One, it cheers me up to decorate. I’m not as good, nor do I have as many nice things as a lot of people who decorate do, but I have fun and it looks like “me” when it’s over with.

Cheesy, but cheery.

The other thing is I know how I get cheered up when I see cheerful lights on houses, and I just want to give back. No one’s going to be able to enjoy our inside lights but me and Anita, so I’m sharing 2020 Christmas Hope with others by my decorations.

I did NOT get a dumpster fire ornament. Proud of myself.

The first thing I did was complete the winter wonderland. I added our snowflake lights that we’ve had a few years down at ground level. I hope they look pretty. And then I also brought down our sleigh with a tree in it, which usually sits on the deck. I had no way to light it, thanks to my icicle-light-stringing faux pas, so it didn’t hurt to give it a new spot.

Here’s how it looks in the daytime.

I put some decorations on the rocking chair area on the porch, so it didn’t look neglected, and put some stuff in my sad Texas mountain laurel at the entrance to the deck, too.

Then I went into some kind of overdrive. Honestly, I had decided to tone down my lighting this year, you know, because it’s a somber time.

Looks so exciting.

But nope, I kept thinking of Anita walking Pickle, making her tea, or whatever. She needs cheer, as hard as she works every day. So every light that was left got strung in a tree branch.

From the other direction.

It’s not a thing of true beauty, but no matter what window you look out, you’ll see lights this year. Woo!

Obviously I need another extension cord. Back deck.

Plus, it’s a family tradition to just sorta throw lights on trees and call it done. Declan remembered us doing it at our Braesgate house for many years. Back then we used brooms to get higher in the trees. No professional light-stringing service for us! And it showed. But, it was cheerful.

Yes! You can see them from the road!

What’s left now is decorating our villa-sized tree. It may be the tree’s last year, since it no longer will sit up straight in its pot. Anita tied it up with string, and at least from the front it looks all right. From the side, though, it’s a 2020 Christmas tree.

It’s just leaning a LITTLE.

I feel better having done this. And a neighbor texted that it looks good. My 2020 Christmas is just fine.

They look good from inside, too.

Do whatever works for YOU to get through the season. I will support you! Now this is a real Blogmas post!

Ready for a disco party for me, Anita, and Pickle!

One More Light Inspiration

While two of these people aren’t related to me by blood or marriage, this constitutes the family who joined us on our holiday. They are all goofy.

I took a day off to drive, and am back in Cameron. Naturally, I was happy to reunite with the Hermits’ Rest and all its charms (and dogs). I did want to share one more holiday event and why it makes me glad to have a ranch home.

That’s just pretty. The live oak leaves add a mossy glow.

On Christmas evening, we piled the family into cars and drove to Johnson City to see the lights there. They have two main sets of lights, plus the town square. The first set we visited are courtesy of the Pedernales Electric Co-op, one of the larger electric co-ops in Texas. They want to remind folks of who brings them light everyday, by sharing a LOT of light.

The blue lights are for the co-op’s corporate colors.

I’m proud of the work that all the co-ops do in Texas. The one in Cameron is the much smaller Heart of Texas Electric Co-op, with HQ in scenic Rosebud, Texas. We love getting their magazines and reading the inserts specific to our area. We see that they give money to local charities and institutions from people rounding up their bills. That just makes me happy. And as a co-op member, we own our utility. All good.

Anyway, we also visited the city’s display, which is nice because it also looks good in the daytime. Someone spent a lot of time cutting out and painting cartoon characters for this display.

We found the courthouse especially lovely. They just draped lights all up and down it, and they lit up the tower on top. You have to hand it to these small towns. They have spirit.

Just one more pretty tree for good measure.

We will have to work to get Cameron this spirited. They did much better this year, and had some nice signs from business sponsors, and very cute wreaths made of green painted tractor tires. Next year we can go for more!

Should We Torture Plants with Lights?

It is the time of year when some of us go a little crazy with decorating for the various holidays involving bringing light to the darkness in some way or another (Christmas, Yule, Hannukah, and more). Seeing all those lights, candles and blow-up characters does life one’s spirits when driving home in the dark. (I admit, I’m actually more fond of lights and less fond of blow-up things, which look so sad during the day when they are deflated.)

Never thought I’d decorate an aloe plant.

This year, we’ve brought more light to the darkness than usual, thanks to our love of battery-powered lights and a gift of a lot of regular lights that my coworker no longer wanted. 

After this photo, I also electrified Rudolph. We have so many lights.

We did put a few lights on the deck and door, but most of them are in plants, both outdoors and indoors. I even bought NEW plants to stick lights on (and I hope they will live a long time and decorate the house the rest of the year, too).

Continue reading “Should We Torture Plants with Lights?”