Archive for December, 2010

Let There Be Light(s)!

Okay, I know, last fall I was guilty of poking fun at some of my neighbors for putting up their Christmas or “Holiday” lights shortly after Labor Day.

They took advantage of nice weather so they could avoid spending hours outside, hoping not to slip off of a ladder while decorating on a cold, miserable Minnesota late fall or early winter day!

After experiencing the latter this past Monday, I now plan to hang my Christmas lights around the Fourth of July!

I admit it, I procrastinated just a tad!

We had beautiful October days when I could have easily gotten my work done in a t-shirt and shorts, but no, I had to wait for Monday, November 29th to tackle the job!

What was so special about this past Monday?

Well, the forecast called for rain and a high temperature near 40 degrees.

You’re probably asking yourself, “why not wait a day or two for the weather to improve?”

Well, the forecast called for snow, wind and temps in the 20’s the next day and the rest of the week!

I figured it would be slightly more pleasant to spend five hours outside in a slow and steady light rain with a mild temperature than shivering and risking frostbite by waiting a day or two or three! And judging by the way our early winter is going, I would have probably needed to wait until next April for a better day!

So I broke out my raingear that had kept me dry on my backpacking trip this summer and I hit the garage to begin the process of getting down tubs that contained my many tangled strands of Christmas lights! Those are the same tubs that I always say I will organize better when I take the lights down, but never seem to do, since I’m usually in a hurry to get the job done as fast as possible in January!

Sub-zero temps have that effect on me!

So the tubs came down, were opened and then it was time to figure out which lights worked and which ones didn’t!

Funny, how lights that were working last year, suddenly don’t and then there are the ones which half of the strand will light and the other half won’t! And of course, the most frustrating of all, the lights that work when you test them, but don’t after you get them on the tree!

Forgetting about the tangled, non-working lights, I also have the added pressure to meet the high standards set by my dad.

Much like Clark Griswold in the movie, “Christmas Vacation”, I also have a father who taught me everything I know about “exterior illumination”!

For a number of years, my father had an amazing display of lights and blow-ups in my parent’s yard. He would spend countless hours meticulously hanging thousands of lights and arranging several blow-ups and other displays.

Everything had to be just right!

There was always a spotlight on Santa’s sleigh, which included individually wrapped gifts on the back of the sleigh and a lighted red nose for Rudolph! There were inflatables of Disney characters, a polar bear and even one with a merry-go-round inside!

The front yard was always done in white lights and the backyard in multi-colors!

It was quite the site and every year people would drive slowly past the house to check things out!

In fact, he entered the town’s lighting contest three times and won it every year!

It was well deserved.

I am not in his league when it comes to hanging lights, but I do try to have a nice looking display. Following my waterlogged day on Monday, I was able to finish the lights (almost, I have plans for one more thing, must be my inner Clark Griswold kicking in) and not have to brave the wind and cold that followed this week.

It was all worth while when my daughter came home and was excited to see the lights!

Happy Illumination!

P.S. We head to the tree lot this weekend, should be fun!

Let It Snow…Part 2

If it’s Friday and if it’s Minnesota that must mean there is snow on the way!

Last Friday afternoon and evening we received nearly a foot of fresh powder. Ideal ski conditions if you live within a thousand miles of a mountain range (apologies to our local ski hills) but, not so ideal if your snowblower is out of commission!

No big deal, I’ll just do it the old fashioned way…

With a shovel and a little, okay more than a little, elbow grease!

There is nothing quite like beginning one’s day by removing a foot of snow from one’s driveway manually! It is the opportunity to burn thousands of calories while at the same time making it possible for you to get a vehicle out of your garage! And a special thanks goes out to our city’s snowplow drivers, who made it possible for me to burn even more calories by plowing in the lower portion of my driveway!

That was last week.

This morning the forecast is calling for us to receive another 5 to 9 inches by late tomorrow night. Of course the forecast last week called for 4 to 8 iches and we got 12, so who knows what we’ll get this time!

But this time the snow will be followed by bitterly cold temps!

Temps cold enough even for a polar bear to ask, “Hey, have you seen my long johns?”

Monday’s low is expected to hit 18 BELOW ZERO!

Not even ask what the “high” is forecasted to be!

If those temps hold I think even Santa considers Minnesota a “No Fly Zone”!

The weatherman blamed it on La Niña, which has to do with ocean temps and weather patterns.

I prefer to blame it on latitude, specifically, 45 degrees North Latitude, which is where the city of Minneapolis lies!

Oh sure, you can blame La Niña, El Niño, Al Berto or El Toro, but with 26 inches of snow so far this season and more on the way, it is for sure going to be an old fashion Minnesota winter! (Which, by the way, hasn’t officially arrived yet!)

And judging by the backlog at the repair shop, I’ll be able to burn some more calories this weekend!

A winter wonderland!

A winter wonderland!

I did manage to finish my outside Christmas lights, but I had to fight through the snow last Friday night to get them all working! Much like Dave’s lighting troubles in the strip, I too have had my share of difficulties getting everything to work.

Hello, Clark Griswold!

A couple of blown breakers, having to run electrical cords to different outlets and even discovering a few bad cords along the way has slowed the process considerably!

Everything is lit and looks pretty good, just don’t use the microwave between the hours of six and midnight!

Slightly "Griswold"!
Slightly “Griswold”!

In search of an outlet!

In search of an outlet!

Happy Shoveling!

Snowpocalypse ’10

Don’t know if you heard the news or not, but it snowed in the Twin Cities over the weekend.

17.1 inches officially fell at our airport, but some areas picked up as much as 21 inches of new, unused powder!

It was for all practical purposes a blizzard!

Not since the “Halloween Blizzard” of 1991 had we seen such a storm in our “neck of the woods”!

Oh I know that everyone living outside of the Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes thinks we deal with these kind of storms on a weekly basis during our long winters, but in reality, we don’t! The kind of storm we experienced over the weekend is actually pretty rare here.

Here’s my “unofficial” tally…

17.1 iches of snow, which for my own non-meteorological reasons, I am going to round up to A TON!

Our International Airport-CLOSED!
This also a pretty rare event, although often times it may seem closed during storms due to airlines cancelling flights, seldom does the airport officially close. Timing of this was poor for some friends of ours that had just left for the airport to catch a flight to Orlando and a week at Disneyworld when it was announced the airport had shut down. No word yet if they made it out yesterday and judging from the forecasted high of 49 degrees in Orlando today, not sure I would want to be there anyway! (For their sake and that of orange juice prices, I’m pulling for a Florida warm-up!)

Our Bubble Burst!
Our not-so-beloved Metrodome deflated at 5:00 AM yesterday due to the heavy amounts of snow and high winds. Workers armed with shovels and hot water hoses made a gallant effort to keep the thing up, but were pulled off of the roof due to the dangerous conditions. In case you haven’t seen, (thanks to FOX Sports who had cameras running during the night) there is video of the dome coming down on YouTube. The game between the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings needed to be moved to Ford Field in Detroit. There was some talk about moving the game to the University of Minnesota’s new outdoor stadium, but those plans were shot down, with one of several reasons given, the lack of winter gear for the Giants! It would have been fun though to watch an outdoor football game in the sub-zero cold of Minnesota again!

My driveway cleared four times!
Following Friday’s post, I was able to get my snowblower running just in the nick of time! My oldest son did a terrific job of keeping the driveway cleared throughout the day. I was even out there plowing a path after the city plow had gone by and the end of our driveway looked like a mountain range!

Sunday morning brought clear skies and coooooold temps! I think we made it up to 10 degrees yesterday and this morning it was a not-so balmy 7 below at my daughter’s bus stop!

We managed to make it to our church service yesterday and to my oldest son’s basketball game later in the day. Late in the evening people we’re still digging out cars and driveways and a slow commute was promised for today.

The good news is we’re experiencing a good old fashioned winter.

The bad news is…

It’s a good old fashioned Antarctica winter!

Scenes from the Snowpocalypse 2010…

View from my garage, early in the storm.

View from my garage, early in the storm.

My son working to keep our driveway clear!

My son working to keep our driveway clear!

It's getting deep!

It's getting deep!

Neither rain nor comes the mail!

Neither rain nor comes the mail!

My neighbor clearing his drive!

My neighbor clearing his drive!

Street view on a snowy Saturday night!

Street view on a snowy Saturday night!