I should have titled this, ‘Life in the slow lane’. I may use that for my memoires, LOL! My little respite from work ended abruptly with the onset of the busy season, from now through January. So, I will be grinding away from here on out — but not complaining. A little work, a little play, a little rest, that is what I consider to be the good life these days.
That said, last week we decided to take our annual stroll around the lake here in Valencia as the sun went down and see what people are doing for the autumn season by way of decorating. Isn’t it funny that things are in the air everywhere — whereas many people decorated last year, almost no one did this year.
We typically feature the lake neighborhood, which is adjacent to ours and just steps away on the paseos, at Halloween and our enclave at Christmas. So, I am sharing some photos here now and later, accordingly.
I am not sure why things are so subdued this year. We put out a couple of pumpkins, lit them and that was it. A far cry from our imaginative decorations in years past. One reason has to be the weather. When we first moved back to California two decades ago, October was cold and November was almost frigid. This year? Halloween saw 90F during the day.
Then, out of the blue, three days ago, it dropped 25 degrees and clouds appeared along with some rain. Wacky weather to go along with climate change. We never know what to expect. So, I made an executive decision that instead of seasonal lighting, we would put up one set of lights this year — white to simulate snow, or so I hoped — and that will be it all year long. Btw, we noticed some time back that most people in our neck of the woods use white lights, both on their Christmas trees and houses, whereas when I was growing up back East, we always used colored lights. It suddenly dawned on me that the reason for this discrepancy is the lack of snow here and the abundance of it in winter back there. White lights disappear against snow, and colored ones do the same in all this brilliant sunshine. QED!
In the past (foolish youth) I had an elaborate system of decorations marking the holiday of each month. Not necessarily with lights, but with certain types of annual flowers, and the symbols of each season, like pumpkins, autumn leaf wreaths, patriotic petunias in red, white and blue, outdoor Easter arrangements. You get the idea. I like to think they weren’t silly but elegant, but who knows. Now I am so done with all of that!
Thus, I decided on one set of lights to which, if the spirit moves us, we can add special decorative lighting or ornamentation depending on the season. What really prompted this was the fact that I ordered some things for Al from Home Depot this year (for the holidays — I always start in September at the latest, to remind myself that incessant heat will eventually subside – hah!) and sent Geoffrey to pick them up at the store.
Usually when he goes, he does spend an hour or more trawling for ideas for his work and comes back without anything but full of innovative improvements. He really is so tight with a dime. But! This time King G returned with these. OMG! What got into him? Mr. low key. Mr. low profile. Mr. I-don’t-want-to-be-noticed. No Facebook, no blogs, no pictures, no selfies, Mr. Invisible.
It would take 12 of those “light shows” to ring the roof of our house on both the upper and lower floors. We would be the neighborhood spectacle in our little spot. There are the huge houses in one area of our neighborhood where people hire professionals to trick out their yards. Those things get into House Beautiful and our local society rag. But our street is the location for dullards like us. People who peer out suspiciously whenever any dog barks. When we had our gorgeous and tasteful decorations up, our immediate neighbors relented and finally put up one tiny lit wreath in the window. Or one small electrified pumpkin.
Basta! One can only imagine their reaction had we indulged Geoff in what he conceived, in a momentary fugue state of Ralphy/Christmas Story insanity, would be the solution to our dilemma each year. One set of lights that has thousands of theatrical seasonal effects. Uh yeah, no!
So I sent him back to get plain, LED, “pure white” mini-lights to simulate snow, right? After we got them all up, top and bottom floors mind you, with a harrowing episode on the slippery slate roof (slanted, uneven, drizzly, of course) we both stood back to admire this carefully done installation and then realized that the street lights were warm white and made our icy lights look blue. Drat!! Up goes my patient spouse, down come all my lights laced with profuse apologizing and promises of making it up to him. Back to Home Depot, credit, new lights ordered online, twelve sets of warm white that look nothing like snow but do resemble cozy welcoming candles. More dare-devil capers on the roof and now, done! Forever, I hope.
Back to the lake. These are pictures I took with two of my four cameras. Some were in such low light that they are a bit more blurry than I would like. I could have brought my tripod but hate doing that and, as I have mentioned before, nothing makes people more suspicious than others taking pictures of their homes and neighborhoods.
That reminds me that we now have a social media site for our 1500 homes and flanking lake community’s 1100 homes. Reading it is a revelation about the minds of the kinds of people who want to chat and gossip with neighbors. I am not one of them and all it does is raise my blood pressure. For example, the guy that asked how to rid his street of crows that gather there at certain times of day (something I noted in a blog post here last year or the previous year). He got a variety of suggestions and then promptly volunteered that he would simply shoot them. I will leave you to imagine what I think of that idea. It’s illegal to so much as look at any of this wildlife funny, anyway. (What kind of person relishes killing birds?)
So, we embark on the upcoming two months with our new tree up and decorated, the Christmas room transformed into a cute guest suite with sofa beds and a desk and computer, and a TV as well as bathroom with new guest robes — his, hers, and little his or hers. 😀 Our lights are up. Our xerigraphic plantings are in. Our gifts have all been ordered and are being stacked in the living room for wrapping — color coded by recipient. We stocked up on coffee and snacks. We are ready for the troops to arrive.
But, since the family is scattering to the four winds this Thanksgiving, for once, we are going to have that weekend to ourselves and will likely spend it at our favorite nearby getaway spot that I will be sharing in a week or two. Welcome November, thanks for stopping by, everyone and stay tuned for more holiday updates.
Images: Chez BeBe/the lake on October 30, 2015; enlargeable