I should have titled this, ‘Life in the slow lane’.  I may use that for my memoires, LOL! My little respite from work ended abruptly with the onset of the busy season, from now through January. So, I will be grinding away from here on out — but not complaining. A little work, a little play, a little rest, that is what I consider to be the good life these days.

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That said, last week we decided to take our annual stroll around the lake here in Valencia as the sun went down and see what people are doing for the autumn season by way of decorating.  Isn’t it funny that things are in the air everywhere — whereas many people decorated last year, almost no one did this year.

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We typically feature the lake neighborhood, which is adjacent to ours and just steps away on the paseos, at Halloween and our enclave at Christmas.  So, I am sharing some photos here now and later, accordingly.

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I am not sure why things are so subdued this year.  We put out a couple of pumpkins, lit them and that was it.  A far cry from our imaginative decorations in years past.  One reason has to be the weather.  When we first moved back to California two decades ago, October was cold and November was almost frigid.  This year? Halloween saw 90F during the day.

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Then, out of the blue, three days ago, it dropped 25 degrees and clouds appeared along with some rain.  Wacky weather to go along with climate change. We never know what to expect. So, I made an executive decision that instead of seasonal lighting, we would put up one set of lights this year — white to simulate snow, or so I hoped — and that will be it all year long. Btw, we noticed some time back that most people in our neck of the woods use white lights, both on their Christmas trees and houses, whereas when I was growing up back East, we always used colored lights.  It suddenly dawned on me that the reason for this discrepancy is the lack of snow here and the abundance of it in winter back there. White lights disappear against snow, and colored ones do the same in all this brilliant sunshine.  QED!

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In the past (foolish youth) I had an elaborate system of decorations marking the holiday of each month. Not necessarily with lights, but with certain types of annual flowers, and the symbols of each season, like pumpkins, autumn leaf wreaths, patriotic petunias in red, white and blue, outdoor Easter arrangements. You get the idea.  I like to think they weren’t silly but elegant, but who knows.  Now I am so done with all of that!

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Thus, I decided on one set of lights to which, if the spirit moves us, we can add special decorative lighting or ornamentation depending on the season. What really prompted this was the fact that I ordered some things for Al from Home Depot this year (for the holidays — I always start in September at the latest, to remind myself that incessant heat will eventually subside – hah!) and sent Geoffrey to pick them up at the store.

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Usually when he goes, he does spend an hour or more trawling for ideas for his work and comes back without anything but full of innovative improvements.  He really is so tight with a dime.  But! This time King G returned with these. OMG! What got into him? Mr. low key.  Mr. low profile. Mr. I-don’t-want-to-be-noticed.  No Facebook, no blogs, no pictures, no selfies, Mr. Invisible.

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It would take 12 of those “light shows” to ring the roof of our house on both the upper and lower floors. We would be the neighborhood spectacle in our little spot.  There are the huge houses in one area of our neighborhood where people hire professionals to trick out their yards. Those things get into House Beautiful and our local society rag.  But our street is the location for dullards like us.  People who peer out suspiciously whenever any dog barks.  When we had our gorgeous and tasteful decorations up, our immediate neighbors relented and finally put up one tiny lit wreath in the window. Or one small electrified pumpkin.

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Basta! One can only imagine their reaction had we indulged Geoff in what he conceived, in a momentary fugue state of Ralphy/Christmas Story insanity, would be the solution to our dilemma each year. One set of lights that has thousands of theatrical seasonal effects. Uh yeah, no!

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So I sent him back to get plain, LED, “pure white” mini-lights to simulate snow, right? After we got them all up, top and bottom floors mind you, with a harrowing episode on the slippery slate roof (slanted, uneven, drizzly, of course) we both stood back to admire this carefully done installation and then realized that the street lights were warm white and made our icy lights look blue. Drat!! Up goes my patient spouse, down come all my lights laced with profuse apologizing and promises of making it up to him.  Back to Home Depot, credit, new lights ordered online, twelve sets of warm white that look nothing like snow but do resemble cozy welcoming candles.  More dare-devil capers on the roof and now, done! Forever, I hope.

Back to the lake.  These are pictures I took with two of my four cameras.  Some were in such low light that they are a bit more blurry than I would like.  I could have brought my tripod but hate doing that and, as I have mentioned before, nothing makes people more suspicious than others taking pictures of their homes and neighborhoods.

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That reminds me that we now have a social media site for our 1500 homes and flanking lake community’s 1100 homes. Reading it is a revelation about the minds of the kinds of people who want to chat and gossip with neighbors.  I am not one of them and all it does is raise my blood pressure.  For example, the guy that asked how to rid his street of crows that gather there at certain times of day (something I noted in a blog post here last year or the previous year).  He got a variety of suggestions and then promptly volunteered that he would simply shoot them. I will leave you to imagine what I think of that idea. It’s illegal to so much as look at any of this wildlife funny, anyway. (What kind of person relishes killing birds?)

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So, we embark on the upcoming two months with our new tree up and decorated, the Christmas room transformed into a cute guest suite with sofa beds and a desk and computer, and a TV as well as bathroom with new guest robes — his, hers, and little his or hers. 😀  Our lights are up.  Our xerigraphic plantings are in.  Our gifts have all been ordered and are being stacked in the living room for wrapping — color coded by recipient. We stocked up on coffee and snacks.  We are ready for the troops to arrive.

But, since the family is scattering to the four winds this Thanksgiving, for once, we are going to have that weekend to ourselves and will likely spend it at our favorite nearby getaway spot that I will be sharing in a week or two. Welcome November, thanks for stopping by, everyone and stay tuned for more holiday updates.

Images: Chez BeBe/the lake on October 30, 2015; enlargeable

16 Comments on “Lakeluster”

  1. Your first two photos ROCK! I suppose you LR’ed them? I’m still not doing LR. I like white lights, they seem so much more…hmmm…elegant than all those brash colors. But yeah, we had the colored ones in MD when I was growing up, I liked them then! Didn’t have no taste, didn’t have a choice. And bright was right. Love your days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! The first was taken with the D610, the second with the D5200. All these were LRd and that was it, nothing more. That program makes my life so much easier and fixes most of my mistakes.

      Yes, it didn’t occur to me at all when I was living in NY/NJ that white lights would be more elegant. My parents did the thinking and probably followed what their parents had, etc. I am so happy with the white and its simplicity. We could have done this years ago because all the fancy houses around here, with the pro installations, have white. Duh. And it is warm white. Why oh why didn’t I pay more attention?

      Yeah, so here I am working like a slave for the next few weeks solid. Then I get time off again in late January. That is the nature of our global workplace, no?

      Thank you BF! 🙂


  2. I enjoyed the stroll around your neighbourhood, Beth! I love the turtle, poised, thinking “should I go in or shouldn’t I?” I envy you living in this little slice of heaven-on-earth. Too bad some less-than-perfect neighbours cast a bit of a pall. But you and G brighten things up! Pace yourself in this busy season; take a few moments every day to say ‘thank you God, for…’ Best, V

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Vera. If only it were a bit cooler in Valencia, I would never budge. Ah well, every place has its drawbacks. Our neighbors are buzzing this morning on the community site about mailbox thieves. Apparently they take envelopes with credit cards and rub them with pencil to get the numbers. Yikes. Now the group wants to form a neighborhood militia to stake out and catch the perps. That is what occupies their minds lately.

      I try to celebrate here in my own way, no matter who surrounds me but it would be nice to be among more like-minded people. That’s why I value my WP friends as much as I do. 🙂


  3. Your pictures are all so lovely, Beth. I particularly like the second to last with its long view of the lake and the lights. So serene. I wondered what G had brought home and couldn’t figure out what was wrong till I read the description on the site and then yours. Those would create quite an impact! You’re so well organised, as I know you have to be with work commitments and visitors to descend. I need to get a move on. Done absolutely heehaw in prep for Christmas. Every year! But I’m working right up until the 23rd of December this year so better start soon -ish. :/
    A lovely slice of life, Beth. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • One reason I have to get going early is this is my busiest time of year, work-wise. In fact, it will be a struggle to post pictures and blog pieces but I want to do it as it is one of my favourite passtimes now.

      Yeah, I watched the videos that light system provides and saw what can be done with them. We might as well add a loudspeaker and narration — it would be just as inappropriate. This neighborhood is usually like a cemetary all year long. We would be driven out on a rail, LOL.

      Thank you Anne-Marie. I don’t know how you have any time at all, what with your brood, work and poetry. How you find time to do the holidays is a mystery to me! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked the beauty of the lake, the ripples with duck and the turtle on edge. You found a pretty house with the nicest Halloween decorations. It is great how you had varied stages of the day, the lights and magic of early evening was captures beautifully, Beth.
    I do love Thanksgiving and Christmas! I have most family gifts bought and stored in closets. Sweater and flannel shirts for the men and women get gifts like jewelry or some scents, plus gift cards. I went a little wild with the grandies. I seriously usually spend less than $20 each and yet find great surprises. Beth, enjoy and savor your busy season! This is the first time I have noticed your labeling Geoffrey as, “King G.” His idea for going overboard may have been fun!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know what, Robin, you just gave me an idea. Flannel shirts! Yes! I think I will do that for a couple of people on my list. I run out of ideas every year and end up just giving gift cards or baseball caps. Thank you for that!

      You are so observant. I purposely put the photos in order as evening fell. I looked at last year’s and it was a better sunset than this year, but, whatever, I went at exactly the same time and almost to the day, both in 2014 and this October. It prompted my title: dullish this time around.

      I do refer to Geoff as King because he really feels like he is my servant a lot of the time as I bark instructions. Then he mutters about ‘king in his castle’ and we have the usual discussion about gender bias, etc., LOL! It is our little joke that the master is the slave, etc., etc.

      Thank you for the compliments, Robin. You are always so encouraging!! This is my favorite time of year too. Let’s relish it together. xo


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