Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas lights

Ok, I just realized this morning that I haven't posted since we were planning for the wedding. I had to laugh, though. I read my last post about watching the sun set over the waters on the Belize beach...if I had taken the time to think about geography, I would have realized the beach is on the east side of the country. If you remember back to the third grade, you learned the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Ha. Oops. Needless to say, the sun never sat over those waters.

Anyways, I decided as a new husband, one of my first Christmas tasks must be the lights. I decided to consult my first life-line, Mr. Clark Griswold.

Note: I helped my Dad when I was like 10, but otherwise have no experience hanging lights from
a house.


0845: Annie is at work and I decide today would be a good day to do this. Nice weather, plenty of energy, full pot of strong coffee.

1005: Decide I should probably do this. Pretty soon.

1105: Ok, ok, I'm dressed and ready.

1115: Make a stop at Big Lots for some supplies. Already have the lights, thankfully.
Supplies needed: Extension cords. Check.
Staple gun with 1,000 extra staples. Check.
Monster energy drink. Check.

1124: I think I'm ready. I remember watching my Dad sort out the miles of lights crammed into a bag, which last year seemed like a good idea. Same scenario. Except I have to sort out the lights he crammed into a bag last year. Or maybe it was the year before. Either way, it was a mess.

1127: Wow, I have way less lights than I thought.

1129: Wow, I have way less working lights than I thought.

1133: I have tried every combination known to man to find the bad bulb and replace it with the little bulb with the red tip. Nothing works. This is going to be a long day.

1134: Trash can full of tangled lights.

1136: I find new boxes of lights, they all work. I checked. Twice. Oh, and I found a box of gutter hanger things that I was trying to find at Big Lots. Wife will be happy to not have 30,000 staples in house.

1140: Fresh cup of coffee.

1141: The world is a better place.

1142: Ok, now time to get to work. I do a hot lap around my house and decide the best mode of attack. I decide people who put lights on the sides and back of their house are show-offs.
1150: Only doing the front. Our house is a rancher with a peaked garage, so I assumed I was going to be able to get all the gutter things up with a step ladder, but there are bushes in front of our living room, conveniently blocking step ladder access.

1153: Really thought jamming the ladder down into the bushes would work. Not so much. Neighbor's dog thought I was trying to break in, suddenly he really cares about the security of my house. I hate that dog.

1155: Make my way around back where I accessed the roof before.

Step 1: Line up 4' tall swamp cooler next to sliding glass door, close to picnic table.
Step 2: Place step ladder on exact center of swamp cooler. Literally, 1/2" to spare.
Step 3: Hop from picnic table to top of swamp cooler. PS it is on small wheels.
Step 4: Reconsider doing this with no one else home.
Step 5: Step carefully on center of ladder rungs.
Step 6: Panic a little as swamp cooler moves an inch to the left. Not much sick time left.
Step 7: Step from top of ladder to roof with no hand rails.
Step 8: Victory! Admire view. And manliness.

1200: So I'm on the roof scoping out my next move. I decide I have to hang a little over the edge of the front of the house and place gutter things without too much concern. Really wish I had some with me.

1202: Descend ladder, hop down to picnic table. I'm good.

1203: Return to ladder assembly with pocket full of gutter things.

1204: Ascend ladder. This time the other neighbor's (to the southwest) dog barks. Neighbor comes out to silence dog and looks at my assembly. "Oh gosh" is laughed from the other side of the fence.

1210: Figure out how these things work and place them equidistantly along roof line.

1220: Descend ladder again. This is getting old.

1230: Have the rest of the gutter things hung along roof line...ladder can't reach pitched garage roof line.

1233: Ascend ladder assembly with staple gun.

1234: Descend ladder. I'm an idiot. You need lights before you can staple them.

1235: Coffee break. I can't afford anymore careless mistakes if I'm going to have this done before that nasty looking snow storm rolls in. Consider moving to California. For two seconds.

1237: Back to work. I get a strand of lights and ascend ladder assemble. Try numerous ways to attach lights to gutter thing. This is a stupid invention. But whatever, I can make it work.

1243: Sneezing while leaning over roof line is fun.

1256: Have all lights routed tightly through gutter things to make a somewhat clean line. I wish I still had my staple gun.

1300: Grab staple gun, more lights, more coffee, extra staples.

1310: Roof line is done. Not bad, I must say.

1312: Plug in lights via a geniusly-hidden cord route. All of lights work. Except exactly half of pitched roof over garage.

1313: Cuss. A few times.

1314: Decide there must be something small wrong. I replace one light, miraculously, it was THE light that went out.

1315: Apologized to neighbor's dog for my language.

1317: Still admiring my accomplishment.

1318: I bet I have enough working lights to wrap windows and door.

Note: One door in the center of the house, small bedroom window to the left side. Large great window to the right side, above those ill-placed bushes.

1319: Measure and plan layout. Warm up and reload staple gun.

1320: Start placing lights around great window. This actually lines up perfectly to connect another line of lights to go around door and bushes make a come-back by providing effective cover for non-needed lights stretching from window to door. (You would think they would make lights where you can take out however many you don't want, and still complete the circuit. We have McDonald's that are run by robots, but this is still out of reach? Come on.)

1342: Decide that the ONE strand of colored lights (Crayola Pizazz Purple to be exact) we have should be centered. These go around the door.

1343: Also decide that the "hard" setting on the staple gun has enough force to penetrate a bullet-proof vest. Wonder what it would feel like for a little while.

1356: The other window is now complete but have two problems.
Problem 1: Once again, because of the design, there are little white and purple lights running along the ground to the window.
Problem 2: I have no idea where to plug everything in.

1403: Decide Problem 2 is of greater importance for the time. Wind is really starting to pick up.

1405: Scope out garage for closest outlet and longest extension cord. I found one that will work, but has to pass under a door.

1406: Try it a few times. I don't know. Looks like a bad idea.

1407: Wrap cord in black duct tape around contact points. I don't know. Looks like a bad idea.

1409: Decide since I own the house, I can make a minor adjustment to the door frame to allow cord access. I mean, I will probably be using this cord route forever, so it seems justifiable.

1412: Get out hack saw, flat head screwdriver, hammer, exacto-knife, sip of coffee.

1414: Start making small cuts to base board by the door in the interior of the garage, cut out more space in door keeper area, and more very careful cut around to exterior to garage.

Note: By cuts, I really mean linear lines of chunks removed. I actually had to go caveman. The hacksaw was too big, so I used the flathead screwdriver as a pick, and hammered out little sections.

1425: Genius!

1427: Take on Problem 1. I use a 3' decorative pine tree, place it by the small window, wrap the lights that would have gone straight up the wall around the tree to cleverly add more Christmas cheer to the front of our house, and wrap the rest of the lights around the window like normal. As for the lights running along the ground. Remember that black duct tape I used to protect the cord? It also doubles as a Christmas light hider. Since they haven't designed lights you can take out, I'm sticking one to them and making my own means of light-concealment. Ha!

1435: Look very carefully at every light, every cord, and every bend.

1436: I really think I smell smoke. Not normal fireplace smoke, an acrid, nasty plastic type of smoke. Great.

1437: Sniff around all the lights. Not all the lights, but enough to feel better.

1438: Go inside. Ok, nothing on fire. Go back outside.

1439: Ok, I visually see haze. Perfect. Trying to think how I'm going to explain this to the guys at work.

1445: Smoke has dissipated. Blame it on smoke conversion from the weather and someone else's house.

1645: Wife comes home. Victory! (after I take down the nice Christmas tree decorations from our little dead Aspen out front).

Pictures to follow.



  1. Josh you are so funny. I wish I could have seen you doing this. No probably not because I would have been yelling at you to be careful.
    Love you!

  2. I think in time you will rival Clark W. Griswold, Josh. This would only be better if I could have watched and laughed.

  3. Josh, with the great results I've seen it's obvious that you apparently come from a great family of Christmas decorators!

  4. Hey Josh. This post is funny. (And long!) Give it a couple years ... I bet you have lights on the side and back of your house.

    P.S. I didn't know the sun ever "sat."


  5. Well, Josh, where are the pictures? We need to see this masterpiece of though and ingenuity. The In-Laws!