Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Card Lane

We looked up where in San Diego to see Christmas lights and came up with Christmas Card Lane. It was so much fun. Hundreds of homes on half a dozen streets all participated in creating a "holiday card" on their front lawn. Lots of people walking and driving through, holiday music playing as we went along (we chose to walk), folks sitting around fire pits in the driveways. Many people were selling or giving away hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and popcorn. A huge undertaking but, speaking for ourselves, much appreciated!

I took dozens of photos and had to whittle it down to just a few faves to share with you.

It wasn't just strung lights (although there were certainly plenty of those), each home chose a theme. This was the wonderful movie A Christmas Story. See the lamp in the window?

Many people went with a giant spotlighted wooden display painted as a card.

Just a random photo of one of the streets, taken later in the evening after the constant flow of cars had trickled down to this.

Towards the end of the night I was actively searching to find someone who did The Nightmare Before Christmas theme. I ended up finding two families who had chosen the them. Yay! Made my night complete.

Some people took the opportunity to express their spiritual beliefs or remind us that "Jesus is the reason for the season" with creches and angels and so on. I liked this one with the global peace scene.

I love the image of the Virgin de Guadalupe and of course she's very popular in San Diego.

Here's one that offers up best wishes for any and all celebrations!

And a pretty more spiritual one.

But mostly it was fun and silly. A holiday flamingo - of course!

With all the book and movie recognizable themes, it held the interest of even the tiny folks. Joli might have gotten bored of just house after house of lights, but to see Winnie-the-Pooh and Ariel and Mickey and so on and so on, kept her going for hours. Of course Harry Potter was one of my favorites. There were several HP families.

Another one of my favorites was this sweet book themed one. I'm sure I've seen this image someplace before but I can't remember where - anyone have a clue? This yard had this large card as well as....

...these oversized books and....

.... this sign.

Of course who can resist Gingy from Shrek.

Or Calvin and Hobbes. I particularly liked the evil snowmen.

The holidays wouldn't be the same without Charlie Brown and the gang.

One clever family had a big "elf yourself" display. Here's Joli elf.

This running holiday train town filled a whole front yard. Wish you could see it whooshing by in real time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Al Fresco

We had some last minute shopping to take care of today. We took advantage of the warm, sunny afternoon to spend time walking around in the sunshine.

One of the important tasks on my list was to stop at the nearby Peet's Coffee to pick up a stash of vegan ginger cookies.

I also bought this tin of tea. It sounds yummy and I was tickled at the name.

I just liked this photo of Joli enjoying her peppermint hot cocoa.

And I'm amazed at how much of a baby bump Lisa is already showing! It's still amazing to me that someone related to me is inside this woman. Silly, I know, but it's pretty amazing.

I love the texture on this cactus.

Joli found a feather. She looks a bit apprehensive in this photo because she was concerned the feather might fly away again.

As if I need any more inspiration for clutter, I loved this railing full of pots.

Amusing sign I snapped while we passed by it.

Another amusing sign.

We walked by this cantina and I was pretty sure that Santa up there had had a wee bit too much holiday cheer at the bar before climbing up to the roof.

A rare photo of the photographer herself. I like how Hubby is reflected in the glass behind me. We also enjoyed lunch outside on the sidewalk, something we don't have the luxury of doing back home, particularly not in December!

Someone very much enjoyed the chocolate cupcake I bought for her!

We also spent some time outside in the dark, at an amazing neighborhood filled with holiday displays. I'll post photos for you later.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tree decoration pics up at the studio blog.

Birthday Visit to Sam

It was Sam's birthday a few weeks ago but we waited to stop by for a birthday visit on our way down to San Diego this last weekend.

It was nice because we got a chance to see their house all decorated for the holidays. Sam has never had a tree before. Methinks he's all twitterpated, he and Ashley, and now he's also getting domesticated. It's a good thing.

Of course boys will be boys and they had fun trying on goofy wigs.

Also funny faces. Can't remember why. Ashley, do you remember?

When all else fails, just stick out your tongue and check the breeze.

While the boys "played" in the garage, Ashley and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to see the lights. They had some awesome displays. I'll post them later here or on the studio blog. But look, a star in the sky, a pregnant woman, animals in a manger (well, a dog on a leash) .....

Pregnant shadows lurking, sneaking up on unsuspecting men hard at work. My car CD player went out right at the beginning of a twelve hour car trip. I don't think I could have stood for that many hours worth of "All Christmas All the Time" stations or "The Best of the 80's". Yay for me Sam was able to install a new system and the trip was saved!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Light Returns

"So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!"
- Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Raymond Crowe - The Christmas Bunny

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Neil Gaiman - "Instructions"

I've been craving fairy tales lately. Stories full of dark woods and choices to make and adventures unplanned. I'm not sure how to explain WHY I'm craving fairy tales. I don't know why. I'm still mulling over what it means. More important than figuring it out yet, I'm trying to feed my craving.

At the moment I'm reading Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock. It's the perfect literary appetizer to start what I hope is a winter's feast of stories. Sadly, I was reminded of the book because of Holdstock's recent, unexpected death.

I can't give you any insights into my mood, but I can share this poem, Instructions by Neil Gaiman, which gives you a small taste of the type of imagery I need to gather round me.

Neil Gaiman - "Instructions" at Listal

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snow, Stroll, Storm, Stomp, Shiver, Season

We had ourselves quite a snowstorm a couple of days ago. Of course I thought it was a perfect occasion to catch up on my walking. That last comment is only partially tongue in cheek, it actually was a good time to catch up on my walking as the below zero temps that hung around for the better part of last week were far less do-able. So lots of clothing layers, cell phone (so I could call Hubby when I got cold and wanted a ride), and my camera - off we go.

Anyone for a game of snowball?

Not sure how this empty, nonheated house managed to grow icicles, but they were pretty under the brightly colored eaves.

Nature's ornaments. Crisp (really, really, really crisp!) apples.

More of nature's ornaments. This is a case of "any port in a storm" as it was certainly not "birds of a feather flock together". In a larger image you can see nuthatches, chicadees, sparrows, a blue jay, and quail. Probably other birds I don't recognize.

Close up of the quail in his jaunty headdress.

Fluff up those feathers - brrrrr.

I'm guessing this couple is having a conversation. He's caught responding to her last comment "I told you to put up the Christmas lights BEFORE the snow arrived."

This young sledder was taking a break at the top of the hill down by the rail road canyon.

I walk by this tree a lot and never realized it had such unique branches until they were cloaked in snow.

The river was almost completely frozen over.

Little duck prints connect the open pools.

When I leaned over the bridge I startled the ducks who took off down river to a more secluded pool.

It was snowy but I was still toasty warm.

A lone straggler.

Frozen little bobbles.

Here's that mailbox again. You can see how the green stands out better in this light.

Another frozen apple, close up.

Chip and dip?

I'm totally noticing mailboxes everywhere I go these days. I'm sure there's some psychological signifigance although I don't know what it is. You can see why I couldn't pass up photographing this bright bearer of news.

Another bright spot of red in the winter white.

It was at this point, about two miles out, the snow started to come down so hard I kept turning into a wandering snowman. I was still warm, cept for my cheeks and nose. Which I bet was also a bright spot of red in the winter white. But I couldn't cover it up with my scarf because then my glasses would steam over. Vision or warmth - tough choice but being able to see where I was going won out in the end.

Sun set but there was still a lot of reflective light. The mountains were hidden by the storm but you can still make out the closest foothill.

One of our neighbors has a house full of cute kids (one of them is staring at me as I snap the photo, the other is yelling in to her parents that "Someone is taking a picture of the house again!" and a voice inside yelled "You're letting all the heat out! Shut the door!" LOL). I love how they went all out decorating their home. I'm sure they did it for their children, not for me, but I still appreciate it - thank you kind neighbor!

And here's my contribution to the neighborhood holiday display. A grinning pumpkin welcome. And snow! Snow is a traditional holiday decoration. I made sure to have EXTRA snow fall on my sidewalk. That's me, I go the extra yard to make things jolly.