fivecats: (Default)
A large and grateful tip o' the hat to [livejournal.com profile] zeppomarx for the suggestion of using EditPad Lite.  EditPad Lite (a freebie, btw) accurately displayed all of the XML encoding that was somehow inserted into this message and also was able to cleanly identify -- and replace -- all of the garbage characters.  Two more search & replaces to swap out the XML coding for a "<" and ">" and this entry was cleaned up and ready to go.

Now, I only wish it was worth the wait.



Morning After Snowman

Morning After Snowman

December 2005 Raleigh, NC

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[This entry was started back before Christmas and sat, untouched, for close to two weeks.  Instead of tossing it and writing something brief -- who me? -- I'll let this part go along as originally planned]

First, a word about the image above.  The kids next door, Brittany and Brad, have a strong desire to dominate the neighborhood with their Christmas displays.  Regular readers will recall that Brittany wasn't too pleased that I had our lights on before anyone else on the block.  (And, having learned their weakness for custom, i.e. 'No lights before Thanksgiving', I'll be sure to exploit it for the foreseeable future)

What I haven't mentioned his her regular inflatable lawn decorations for a variety of holidays throughout the year.  Now, I understand her enjoyment of All Things Holidays but just because someone makes an inflatable lawn decoration and just because someone else chooses to sell those inflatable lawn decorations that doesn't make them worth owning or displaying.

Factor in the additional fact that the kids next door are seemingly the only ones in their social circle who own their own house and are, therefore, the regular hosts of monthly parties where considerable drinking goes on and the image takes on some additional significance.  Granted, we have yet to wake up to one of their friends passed out on their lawn, but the common sight of their inflatable snowman looking passed out on their lawn most mornings these days was too good to pass up.

As for Christmas, and what it has to do with this fellow to the right, just click on through to the other side... )


...
fivecats: (Default)

UNC Cathedral

UNC Cathedral

December 2005 Chapel Hill, NC

____________________________________


Yeah, so the lo-o-o-ong post is still in critical condition awaiting surgery that's going to take the better part of an hour to remove all of the little ¤ -style squares that are in between each friggin' letter of each friggin' word of the entire friggin' first 3/4 of the entire friggin' entry.

Not that I find this annoying in the least.  Not at all.  More of a Challenge, that's all.

Nevertheless, here are some completely out of context comments and reflections from the holidays that won't make much of any sense until I get that blasted overly friggin' long entry cleaned up.  (And, yes, I've tried saving it as plain ASCII text and, yes, when I've tried to import friggin' plain ASCII text into any one of FOUR LJ entry methods on two computer platforms the text  has either disappeared with the exception of a lone "<" or h?a?s? ?a? ?f?r?i?g?g?i?n?' ?q?u?e?s?t?i?o?n? ?m?a?r?k? ¤o¤r a¤ ¤f¤r¤i¤g¤g¤i¤n¤' ¤s¤q¤a¤r¤e¤ AND ?i?s? ?i?n? ?i?t?a?l?i?c?s? ?j?u?s?t? ?t?o? ?m?a?k?e? ?i?t? ?e?v?e?n? ?m?o?r?e? ?i?l?l?e?g?i?b?l?e? 

It would be nice if the friggin' entry would clear itself out, but...
Now then, where was I?  Oh, yes.  Making next to no sense at all.

To continue:

My favorite quote from my daughter: "At least you're a happy drunk.  It could have been worse -- You could have been all maudalin, crying and saying, "Aw, man, I really love you guys."

Guess which Little Britian character I'm going to be searching for next Christmas?  Is it Anne?  Vicky? Andy? (Trust me, Rob, mine is better) Ray?

Speaking of which: I managed to completely embarass myself on Chirstmas by not getting an answering machine.  I mean, honestly, how can one expect to go through with a well-written and rehearsed script when there's a live audience at the other end of the phone.  Honestly.

Like the image above?  So do I.  That is, presuming you said, "yes."  If not, then we'll simply have to agree to disagree.  I'm stuck with having to do extensive playing with post-camera digital editing on smaller images for a while.  Luckily this one turned out pretty well.

Oh, and another image goes out to the first person who can accurately cite the proper (in my life) reference to the subject line -- without googling the phrase.

...
fivecats: (Default)
[Okay, so, yes, I know there's something majorly wrong with this entry. As in "there is no entry." I've tried reposting it several times and it's just going to have to wait a while. Stupid software. Where's a tech support person when you need one?]

...
fivecats: (Default)

Garden Gates

Garden Gates

December 2005 Chapel Hill, NC

____________________________________


I'm covering several lj friends with this entry: the photo goes out to [livejournal.com profile] new_brunette in honor of some of his de-saturated images. The story* goes out to [livejournal.com profile] zeppo_marx in honor of the kid's wonder of Santa, along with a tip of the hat to [livejournal.com profile] drood who claims to love my longer pieces.

And this one is definitely long.

So, get yourself something wonderful to drink and get comfy. Here's a bit of a bedtime Christmas story for everyone.

Just click on through to the other side... )

...
fivecats: (Default)

Red Light

Red Light

December 2005 Raleigh, NC

____________________________________


Contrary to popular belief, I actually do learn from my past. Most of the time. Okay, some of the time. For instance, at work, "The Wizard of Oz" and I are ancient history. I will check the yard for Big Rocks before mowing the lawn now. And I won't be cutting my hair again for a long, long time.

Today's "What Have We Learned" comes from a story I told back a few weeks ago having to do with being the first on our block to have our house's Christmas lights turned on. Those who have been following along with the story will remember that we were the first because I never took them down last year. They've been up there, unlit, all year long where I've smiled at them through the seasons.

What I failed to mention a few weeks ago was that a number of the lights no longer worked. Like lots of them. The one string that ran across the apex of the roof (which, in my defense, had some serious problems last year) was completely dead with some of the bulbs partially filled with water. Those that ran along the gutters were maybe 20% dead, with many of them suffering from a sad lack of paint on the outside of the bulb.


Green Light

Green Light

December 2005 Raleigh, NC

____________________________________


I climbed up on the roof this past weekend and spent some time replacing most of the dead bulbs and resolved to take them down sometime after Christmas.

It almost feels like cheating now.

...
fivecats: (Default)

Open

Open

December 2005 Durham, NC

____________________________________


See, here's the thing about Christmas.

I grew up watching way too much television, a fact that has warped a great deal of my thinking for far too many years. One of those ways has to do with my expectations of Christmas. The big tree, the lights, the clean house, the cookies and cakes everywhere, a nice fire in the fireplace and, of course, standing by the window looking at all of the snow piling up against the panes and covering the grass and driveways outside.

That's one of the signals that Christmas is really on it's way.

Instead, Real Life is nothing like that. We have about 10 days before Christmas and none of those idealized trappings exist for me yet. Worse, I have to be the one to help create some of them. What happened to those frisky little pixies ("Yeeeeeaaaaassss!!!") that play their magical flutes in Scottish castle hotels, cleaned the Huxtable family's house all through "The Cosby Show" years and, undoubtedly, cleaned, cooked and created through all of the TV Christmas Specials that I watched as a kid.

Geez, do I have to do everything around here?

(Bonn would, undoubtedly, take this opportunity to smack me upside the head and correct me by saying, "No, I have to do everything around here.")

(And she has a point)

For two more images and a bit more rambling, click on through to the other side... )

...
fivecats: (Default)

First Christmas Lights on the Block

First Christmas Lights on the Block

November 2005 Raleigh, NC

____________________________________


The picture above, taken this past Saturday afternoon, stakes my official claim as having the earliest lit Christmas lights on any house on our block. And our whole neighborhood. Probably the whole town and within a 5 mile radius. Not that I drove through that many streets to verify this claim, but I feel pretty safe in saying it.

You'll notice that I didn't lay claim to having put our lights up the earliest, just that they're the first that have been lit.

Yeah, you guessed it.

This goes back a few years. About three years ago, after hanging all of the lights in December, I couldn't see any good reason for taking them down again. Bonn, on the other hand, was a bit more concerned with "what the neighbors might think" and kept asking me to take them down. I viewed this with a healthy degree of Male Laziness while she ended up viewing this as a Battle of Wills.

One Saturday afternoon in May I heard a ripping type of sound coming from the front of the house, accompanied by the shattering of glass. She'd finally had enough and managed to yank them all down. I was equal parts annoyed that so many light bulbs were broken (leaving broken bits of glass everywhere) and impressed that she'd actually managed to do so.

The next year I dutifully took them down sometime in January or February. When she discovered that I'd done so, she asked me why.

"What do you mean, 'why?'" I asked.

"I just assumed you were going to leave them up all year," she said with a shrug.

So, last year I did.

Now, some of the paint has flecked off of the lights and many of the lights have broken since last December, but that's what second-hand stores are for. I plugged them in on Saturday afternoon and loved the sight of them. Saturday night, when they were the only ones lit anywhere around, they made me smile. Driving home after picking up The Boy from work they made me laugh as I drove down the road towards home.

Sunday evening Bonn came storming at me. "I can't believe you have the Christmas lights on!"

"Um, they've been on since Saturday. I forgot to turn them off."

"But we're the only ones around with them on!"

"Yeah," I said beaming pride and happiness.

She just shook her head.

Last night I saw our Christmas Lights Competitive Next Door Neighbors and asked if they'd seen our lights on. The young wife smiled and said she had, but her husband had refused to put out their lights until after Thanksgiving.

"Okay," I said, with a big smile. "That's okay. We just need to be clear that I Won."

"Maybe," she retorted. "But we have a tree up already."

Sure enough, there was a small, while table-top Christmas tree lit up on a table in front of a window in their living room.

I just smiled.

...

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