Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas, 2011: Lights, Trees, and All That

Sunday, December 25, 2011. Merry Christmas! My weekend was quiet, compared to the family get-together last weekend.

Maybe I've mentioned this before. Main Street Theatre still has its art deco marquee and lights: but displays current features on the new digital/electronic signs on the south part of the theater complex. I like that combination of old and new. 'Older' and 'newish,' anyway.

Main Street Theatre marquees: old and new. December 20, 2011.

Eyes on Main: lit up for Christmas. December 20, 2011.

I've got another set of 'Christmas lights' photos to show. My household hasn't done 'outside' holiday decorating for a few years, although I suppose the Christmas tree might count. We've got it near a window. A fair number of other folks around town put on quite a show: which I enjoy thoroughly.

Manger scene, conical helix Christmas trees: and there's more around the corner of this house. December 22, 2011.

One of Sauk Centre's more brightly-lit neighborhoods. December 22, 2011.

This house isn't all that large: but wow, do they have lots of lights. December 22, 2011.

I've got more photos, but they'll wait until another day. The software I've been using to get pictures ready for the Web finally gave up, and I'm learning to use something newer. I'll let you decide whether that's an excuse for not having more photos ready: or an explanation.

Either way, Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Happy New Year, whatever. One more thing: This is the sixth year in a row that the Christmas tree at Our Lady of Angels church hasn't fallen over.

My take on 'the true meaning of Christmas' is in one of my blogs, A Catholic Citizen in America:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Week Before Christmas

Sunday, December 18, 2011. Like I said in one of my
blogs: "Christmas is a time for frenzied purchases, family gatherings, and frazzled nerves. Sometimes family gatherings lead to frazzled nerves, and that's another topic." I suspect that we may hear more about the lunatic end of the holiday experience. My 'family gathering' for the season happened yesterday, and was fun. I hope yours is, or are, too.

Santa, maybe taking off - or landing - with a jet pack? Hats off to the folks who put that up, for a different angle on Christmas lights. December 7, 2011.

Holiday garlands over Main Street. The Original Main Street, that is. December 9, 2011.

Some lights in the yard, lights outlining the roof: and you've got your Christmas decorations. The outside ones, anyway. December 7, 2011.

My family has the 'permanent' Christmas tree set up in the living room, there's a largish real tree in Our Lady of the Angels church, and we've got just one week left before Christmas day. I (finally) remembered to get something for my wife: which I wrapped in a rubber band. Maybe I can get #3 daughter to help me do something a little nicer than that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Misplaced "For Sale" Sign, Christmas Lights, and Poinsettias

Sunday, December 11, 2011. Before getting into the usual Christmas-season photos, a sort of update on my house:
  • It's not for sale
  • We're having a larger garage built
I can see why folks may have gotten the idea that the big yellow house at South Ash and 9th was for sale:

The real estate agent didn't put the sign there. December 6, 2011.

That 'for sale' sign at South Ash and 9th is probably a prank. We live a few blocks from the school, right on the route quite a few kids walk on their way to and from classes. December 6, 2011.

It's about two weeks before Christmas, so stores have a lot of red and green in their displays. Marc'ette Floral, at Main and South 6th, and Hidden Treasure, downtown, also have a new kind of candle.

My son-in-law invented these 'candles that burn in a circle' earlier this year, and this is the first holiday season that stores have had them. I've been working for his company, Spiral Light Candle, off and on, for about a month now.

Marc'ette Floral, on south Main and 6th, has poinsettias, cards, home decorations: and Spiral Light Candles. December 9, 2011.

Hidden Treasure, downtown, has those 'candles with a twist,' too. And a whole lot of nice gift and decoration stuff. December 9, 2011.

Spiral Light Candle has a video on YouTube that shows how the candles work: "Spiral Light's Spiral Burning Self Filling Candle."
(One minute, 31 seconds)

Just one more bit of blatant self-promotion, and I'll get to more photos from Sauk Centre.

I've been writing about my experiences with Spiral Light Candle in two of my blogs:
I like the Christmas season for quite a few reasons: but it's the decorations that seem to make the best photo subjects:

Downtown Sauk Centre: lighted garlands over the street, and Main Street Theatre's signs. December 7, 2011.

P's and Q's Computing, on south Main, puts on quite a show each year. December 6, 2011.

Here's P's and Q's at night. Some of the lights go on and off: it's too slow to call 'flashing.' December 7, 2011.

Yet more P's and Q's, this time on their north side. The display is a little different each year. December 7, 2011.

One more photo, and I'm done for the week:

Marc'ette Floral, again: It's poinsettia season in their south room. December 9, 2011.

I thought of writing something about poinsettias, how the Aztecs called them cuetlaxochitl, who first mentioned them in Europe, that the red things are called bracts, and more of that sort of thing. But somebody beat me to it:
The U. of I. folks did a nice job with that website: including a history of the poinsettia; and how to care for your potted plant, provided that it's a poinsettia.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shopping Days Left Before Christmas, Sensible Advice, and Candles

Sunday, December 4, 2011. Depending on how you calculate it, there are 20 or 21 shopping days left until Christmas.

There's a little snow on the ground here in Sauk Centre. Not much, though. I saw a few snowflakes come down today. But not many.

Even so, the air is nippy enough to make it 'feel like' we're on the pre-Christmas countdown.

I haven't been out much this week, so if you're looking for what's been happening in Sauk Centre, I'd suggest checking out the Sauk Centre Herald, our weekly newspaper. They do news, not the sort of thing I write: and that's another topic. There's a good piece of advice in the Sauk Herald, from Wednesday this week: "Residents reminded to lock up." Between high-value stuff that folks are likely to have in their vehicles, and holiday craziness, it's a good reminder.

I had time to grill burgers at noon Saturday and Sunday, and 'took Sunday off.' Otherwise, I've been spending a lot of my time doing some work for my son-in-law. He's been planning what Spiral Light Candle ("a candle with a twist:" will be doing next year. He's invented a new twist - literally - on candles, and I think they're great. The last I heard, Hidden Treasure and Marc'ette Floral are carrying them.

'Perfect gift,' and all that.

Okay, now that I've got that blatant self-promotion out of the way: I'll try to have something to show next week. With folks getting their outdoor Christmas decorations, that shouldn't be too hard.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Early Christmas Lights

Tuesday, November 29, 2011. Here's what I said I planned to get done, back on Sunday:

Remember that picture I took, on Saturday, November 19? Here's what it looked like by the next Thursday. November 24, 2011.

This is the picture I was talking about: Saturday's snowfall. November 19, 2011.

Twas Thanksgiving eve, and we view on the lawn
Eight reindeer, a sleigh, plus a tree and a fawn:
All spangled with lights colored blue, green and red,
And picture of Santa Claus hung on the shed.

Nope. I don't think that's going to outshine Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

Christmas yard decorations start showing up before Thanksgiving, though. Which is a good idea, here in Minnesota. Quite a few folks got theirs out before the snow fell.

It's the night before Thanksgiving: time for the first Christmas lights. November 23, 2011.

Christmas lights at the corner of South Ash and 9th. November 23, 2011.

I like the way neighborhoods light up, this time of year. November 23, 2011.

The 'Sauk Centre Gills' visited #2 daughter & son-in-law for Thanksgiving, and I'm just about recovered from that trip. I hope you had a fine Thanksgiving, and will see you Sunday.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend's Over: Next, Christmas

Sunday, November 27, 2011. I had a good Thanksgiving Day weekend, spent with my family at #2 daughter & son-in-law's place. I got home with the rest of the 'Sauk Centre Gills' last night.

Some folks have their Christmas displays up and lit, which is a sort of Thanksgiving tradition in this area.

We've had snow, quite a bit of it melted, we've had more snow: all of which is about par for the course here in Minnesota. There's more to say and show, but it's late and I need my sleep.

My plan is to get more done, sometime tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24, 2011. Happy Thanksgiving!

I used that picture yesterday, in another blog:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Winter Weather; 50-Vehicle Pile-Up on I-94; Nobody Hurt

Sunday, November 20, 2011. Sounds like some folks weren't quite ready for winter driving:
"Saturday's wintry weather is wreaking havoc on some of Minnesota's major roads.

"The Minnesota State Patrol said westbound Interstate 94 near St. Cloud closed Saturday afternoon due to several crashes. The closure spread from St. Cloud to Albany and Freeport. The interstate was closed around 3 p.m. and reopened at 4 p.m. ..."
(I-94 Reopened Near St. Cloud: State Patrol," CBS Minnesota (November 19, 2011))
I heard that about 50 vehicles were involved in the Albany-to-Freeport pile-up. Definitely not good. That CBS Minnesota article has more about yesterday's weather and traffic, and says we had 200 crashes in the state yesterday. The good news is that apparently nobody got seriously hurt: or killed.

Remember that photo I showed, last week? The one that showed a little bit of snow from a Thursday-morning shower?

Snow on the ground, Thursday morning: not much; and gone by the end of the day. November 10, 2011.

We've got a lot more than that, now. This isn't official, but I'm pretty sure Sauk Centre got four inches by the time the snow stopped.

Green grass, and folks already have Christmas decorations out? Maybe they heard the weather forecast. November 18, 2011.

An inflatable turkey. There's a joke about low-calorie holiday eating somewhere here: but I can't quite find it. November 18, 2011.

I spent as much of Saturday inside as I could. Which is saying something, since I generally am out grilling burgers around noon on weekends. It wasn't entirely the weather: I'm not a 40-year-old kid any more, and decided to be sensible.

Cat. Window. Snow outside. "Tranquil" - that's the word I wanted. November 19, 2011.

Mid-afternoon in the back yard. It's Minnesota, so we might be using that table again by next Thursday. November 19, 2011.

Walmart parking lot, Saturday afternoon. Between plows and wind, there wasn't all that much snow to deal with. November 19, 2011.

Today was a beautiful wintry day: bright blue sky, sparkling snow, the works. If the five-day forecast is even close to accurate, that's going to change pretty soon. Which is no surprise. It's like you've heard before: In Minnesota, we don't have climate. We have weather.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Synchronizing Sirens in Sauk Centre

Sauk Centre's emergency sirens go off at 1:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. Sometimes they're off by a minute or so: but it's a highly predictable event.

Today's Wednesday, but it's the third Wednesday in November. Which is why I wondered why I'd been hearing the emergency sirens, off and on, through the day.

Another series of wails went up a few minutes ago, and my curiosity got the better of me. I called City Hall and asked 'what's with the sirens?'

There's a perfectly reasonable explanation. They're "synchronizing the sirens," going around town and setting them off: one at a time. I'm not sure why they need to be synchronized, and why that's how it's done: but it seems like a reasonable explanation.

On the other hand, this sort of thing could accidentally train folks to ignore the sirens. On the other-other hand, we're a pretty smart bunch of folks: I figured out that the weather didn't look threatening; and my neighbors probably did, too.

Related posts:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not Much Snow, Charlie Company, and Grilling

Sunday, November 13, 2011. Looks like Friday the 13th falls on a Sunday this month.

Charlie Company is still deployed, I read in the Sauk Centre Herald that the public school is making some sort of change in its lunch schedule, and we got snow on Thursday.

Snow on the ground, Thursday morning: not much; and gone by the end of the day. November 10, 2011.

It wasn't much snow, and it had melted by the end of the afternoon. Or maybe evaporated. Whatever, it was gone. But, for one brief moment: we had snow on the ground! Sort of.

Some sort of bug has been making the rounds. I've heard that some folks got 'strep,' which doesn't sound like much fun at all.

Apart from that, and the sort of thing you can read in the Sauk Herald, I don't have much to report. Except that I was out, grilling burgers, again this weekend. I'm refining my technique, and didn't convert either Saturday or Sunday's batch into briquettes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Autumn's Here, and Daylight Saving Time Strikes Again

Sunday, November 6, 2011. It's that time of year, when pumpkins that didn't get converted into Jack 'o lanterns find their way into Thanksgiving displays. Or, this morning at Our Lady of Angels church, are pressed into service as makeshift doorstops.

The dock's been hauled ashore at the Sauk Lake public landing, down by the campground. Odds are pretty good that we're still a long way from having ice on the lake, but this is central Minnesota: and it doesn't hurt to be careful.

Autumn scene at Sauk Centre's public landing. November 4, 2011.

Folks who go in for yard decorations are probably concentrating on Thanksgiving Day themes at the moment, but as usual some folks are also getting their Christmas lights up now, before it snows.

First Christmas lights: First I've seen, anyway. They look better at night, of course. November 4, 2011.

This is the weekend when we're treated to jet lag, thanks to the 'spring forward/fall back' daylight saving time. Which I think may have been a slightly-sensible notion back in 1918. Today, not so much. I wrote about candle wax, Congress, and electric power, about a year ago, in one of my blogs. ("Ben Franklin and Daylight Saving Time: Even Homer Nods," posted in Apathetic Lemming of the North (November 7, 2010))

As a sort of joke, I came up with a proposal for 'improving' daylight saving time a few years ago. Happily, Congress hasn't enacted a single one of these ideas: each one as sensible as the system we have, I think. Here's what I wrote, back in 2008:

Daylight Saving Time: A Modest Proposal
Posted in Apathetic Lemming of the North (October 26, 2008)
  • Set clocks back 12 hours during August
    • Keeping people quiet during the day could save enormous amounts of energy that would otherwise be wasted on air conditioning in stores and offices
  • Set clocks back ten hours and forty minutes at noon on
    April 15
    • This 10:40 time shift would
      • Remind those who wait until the last minute to file tax returns of the date
      • Give them more than a full business-day's-worth of additional time to get their forms in
    • Ten hours and forty minutes is a large time shift, so clocks should be set forward one hour and twenty minutes at 2:00 a.m.
      • For eight days
        • April 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15
      • To minimize psychological stress
    • Although this stress-relieving measure might not save significant amounts of energy, the psychological effects could make a significant difference in quality of life
  • Finally, replace the evening of December 31 with
    Substance Abuse and Drug Interaction Study Time
    • Instead of over-indulging during New Year's Eve parties, citizens would be encouraged to learn about
      • Substance abuse
      • Dangers of mixing prescription drugs and alcohol
    • This should
      • Reduce deaths in drunk-driving accidents
      • Alleviate the need for expensive security measures in places like New York's Times Square
      • Promote sober, healthy lifestyles among the general public
On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't joke about this sort of thing. With an election coming up, someone might run on a 'more silly rules about time keeping' platform - and win.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day Before Halloween, 2011, With Rain

Sunday, October 30, 2011. Tomorrow is Halloween, so 'happy Halloween,' a day early. My wife and #3 daughter have been cutting wicks for the Spiral Light Candle company. That's #2 daughter and my son-in-law's outfit. Aside from that, it's been a quiet couple of weeks in this household. I've had some sort of bug, and my wife's getting over something she ate. She's missed Soo Bahk Do Thursday of this week, and today.

Making long strands of wick into shorter strands. October 28, 2011.

Enough about me and this family.

Our Lady of Angels church had our annual polka Mass: Larry's Concertina Band from Rochester, Minnesota, did the music this year. I enjoy those polka Masses: but suppose they're not for everybody.

Larry's Concertina Band at Our Lady of Angels polka Mass. October 30, 2011.

Rain. We've been having rain. Not a whole lot on any given day, but we've been having rain. Damp, cool, wet, rain. I grilled burgers this noon, anyway.

October's not-so-bright, not-so-blue weather. October 30, 2011.

I haven't gotten out much recently, so here's a selection of photos from recent Halloweens:

Whoops. That's getting ahead of the season. December 21, 2008.

If that person's standing straight, the house is leaning. The top Jack 'o lantern looks a little worried. October 31, 2008.

I like this one: He's looking at the world from a new angle. October 31, 2008.

I get the impression that group on the right's having a heated debate. November 4, 2009.

Those are expressions you don't see every day. November 4, 2009.

Some of the costumes were downright cute: like this butterfly. October 31, 2010.

Here's my contribution to Halloween spookiness.

See you again, next week!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October's Dim Gray Weather

Sunday, October 23, 2011. Last Sunday was one of those wonderful October days. Today was another sort of October day: roofed over by gray ribs of cloud, dampened by drizzle, all a chilly reminder that summer is over.

I've had my flu shot for the season, at Coborn's pharmacy. There were only four pages of paperwork to fill out: and the injection itself was an anticlimax. I barely felt it. Not that I'm complaining.

Next week we'll be having a polka Mass at Our Lady of the Angels church. I'm looking forward to that: but then, I don't mind loud music.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

'October's Bright Blue Weather,' and Checking the Furnace

Sunday, October 16, 2011. Today was another one of those "October's bright blue weather" days, pretty much like yesterday. A bit windy, seasonally brisk, and very blue sky.

Some trees, like the one at your left, seem to be going straight from green leaves to bare branches this year. October 15, 2011.

Autumn weather is pretty, and I appreciate that. It's also a sort of 'heads-up' that winter's coming: and that it's time for the usual seasonal routines.

We've had a technician come out and check out the furnace, so we should be good for the winter. At least, there aren't any obvious maintenance issues.

My wife put plastic sheeting over the window by my desk yesterday. #1 daughter's cat, who was here for the weekend - #1 daughter that is, accompanied by cat - was fascinated by what my wife was doing.

I've heard that Diversicom, a regional communications company, has changed hands: but didn't have time to learn details.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gray Days, Wind Turbine, and Charlie Company

Sunday, October 9, 2011. The last few days have been the sort of typical Minnesota autumn days that tourism promoters probably don't like to emphasize: gray sky, wet pavement, the sort of day that makes being inside a treat. I like both the picture-postcard days and the other sort, myself. There's something to be said for contrast.

Sun hidden by a roof of cloud. October 9, 2011.

Wet streets, damp sidewalk: Our Lady of Angels church. October 9, 2011.

We're nowhere near having ice on the lakes. Not thick enough for ice fishing, anyway. Looks like someone's getting ready, anyway. At least, I'm assuming that the possibly-unique red trailer I saw is someone's ice house.

Part of a semi, refitted for ice fishing? October 9, 2011.

I've been watching a wind turbine going up in the industrial park on the west side of town. Today's the first day I noticed it in operation.

Wind power in Sauk Centre. Either that, or the biggest pinwheel in this part of Minnesota. October 9, 2011.

A closer look at the new-style windmill. October 9, 2011.

Charlie Company's been deployed, again, for a while now. The 1st State Bank sign has some good advice, I think.

"Remember Charlie Company?" Works for me. October 9, 2011.

Tomorrow's Columbus Day: which means that the banks and Post Office will be closed. I don't expect many stores or offices will be closed, though. And that'sanother subject.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Beautiful Bright Blue Skies, Estate Tax SNAFU, New Gospel Book

Sunday, October 2, 2011. We've had those typical Minnesota autumn days: crisp air, clear skies, ridiculously cheerful sunlight.

Blue sky, trees turning color: a picture-postcard autumn day. September 27, 2011.

We've also had those typical Minnesota autumn days: chilling air, grim skies, not a ray of sunlight under the gray roof of clouds.

Ungers: stock liquidation sale in progress. September 27, 2011.

Unger Furniture, downtown, has been running radio ads this week: they're selling the entire inventory, to pay estate taxes.

On a happier note, Our Lady of Angels church has a new Gospel Book.

New/replacement Gospel Book at Our Lady of the Angels church. October 2, 2011.

Dr. Mayer, the dentist - and I hope I've spelled the name right - donated the new book, in memory of his wife, done in the same style as the one that got stolen. It's good to have one again.

I turned 60 on Friday, and am still enjoying these balloons. October 1, 2011.

I've been distracted this weekend: for a happy reason. I turned 60 on Friday, and celebrated the event with my family.