Category Archives: Castle Willett

The Night Returns

It’s always a melancholy night when the Christmas lights come down. The tens of thousands of festive lights, marking and celebrating the weeks surrounding the Winter Solstice, driving back the long nights – they’re all gone and the the night returns.

Tonight the moon, a couple of days past full, is helping to keep the darkest of the dark at bay. It’s always a pleasure to see it rising beyond the trees and the lights of Los Angeles.

Up near the zenith, winter’s guardian, bold Orion is bright – but not as bright as normal. (One of these days we need to talk about Betelgeuse. What’s up with that?)

The cycle will go around again. Spring is coming, the days will get long, we’ll roast through the summer, then the days will start to shorten again and next Thanksgiving we’ll decorate and light up the night.

Until then…

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Filed under Astronomy, Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Paul

Windy Night

The winds were back last night, at least at our house.

Those are the wind chimes that were banging away, with the trees in the background swaying and swishing and whooshing and generally making lots of very loud, spooky noises.

What’s really weird is that a couple of folks at work who live within a couple of miles of here kept getting “HIGH WIND!” alerts on their phone, but it was calm as could be. Meanwhile, when I took out the trash tonight I found that the BBQ has been wandering again. It’s sitting ten feet away from where it was parked, and the big, heavy cover that was on it was nowhere to be seen.

Maybe I’ll borrow a set of chocks from the hangar. If they’re designed to keep a B-52 or C-46 from wandering, maybe they can keep the BBQ in place.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Weather

It’s A Fine Line

…between tradition and madness.

The cards were received two weeks ago, and signed about ten days ago.

The mailing list has been updated and edited for address changes, returns from last year, and those who are no longer celebrating with us.

The inserts have been written, edited, and printed.

The labels have been generated and printed.

The first batches of cards are in the mail, more will go out tomorrow, the rest by the end of the weekend.

Hey, when you get your card, look at the “Total Eclipse” stamps we’re using this year – put your thumb or finger on the eclipsed sun for a few seconds and the full moon appears! How could I *not* get these and use them?

If you don’t get your card in the next week, well – do I have an address for you? Only you can solve that issue.

As for “madness,” since it’s still something I really enjoy, and since I have a fair number of people tell me how much they enjoy getting our cards every year, I’m going to say it’s still “tradition.” And a good one, at that.

Watch the mailboxes!

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Christmas Day 2019

I hope that everyone had a Christmas Day that was as calm or exciting as they wanted or needed, with as much or as little drama as requested, and that everyone had been good (enough) this year so that Santa brought them what they wanted.

If you didn’t get everything you want, it’s never to early to start planning for next year.

Here’s a short video of our lights turning on:

And a picture of what it looks like after dark:

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, y’all!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography, Video

Christmas Eve 2019

It was a new Christmas Eve tradition – Chinese dinner

The tree and presents are ready.

I hope you and your family have a most happy holiday filled with laughter and love, no matter what your celebrations entail.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography

Bizarre Perspective

The season advanced, the neighbor’s trees with the giant, dried up leaves finally had enough, the wind picked up, and in a matter of fifteen to twenty minutes between the time I left the house and the time I came back, there were leaves everywhere. In the street. Filling the gutters.

All over our lawn.

In the bushes


On the porch.

The offending trees next door.

It struck me that I have a bizarre perspective on this sort of thing, especially compared to that from my childhood. On the one hand, from the viewpoint of my life here, both in the “here in this particular house” and in the “here in Southern California” frame, this was an unusual and noteworthy event. I made everything look different. On the other hand, from the viewpoint of my much younger self, growing up in the midwest and New England, this was absolutely normal and borderline trivial.

There was a voice shouting in my head, just a bit shocked at my attitude. Perhaps with the tiniest bit of outrage.

It’s. Just. A. Few. Hundred. Leaves. Falling. Onto. The. Grass. In. Fall!!!

In Vermont, by mid-October there were parts of our yard where we would literally be knee-deep in leaves. We had a couple of maple trees that would turn bright red so it all looked very pretty, but it was more of a chore to clean up than an event. The first few hundred leaves falling didn’t mean that a novelty was being presented to us – it simply meant that it was time to get raking.

Yet here in SoCal – not so much, at least not these leaves, today.

I found it somewhat disconcerting, odd, yet couldn’t shake it every time I saw the leaves out there.

So I took the pictures and chose to share the story and my accompanying feelings of disconnect.

Will I start raking the leaves? Nope. That’s why the landlord has gardeners. Not for me to deal with.

Which is also more than a little bit disconcerting.


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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Up On A Ladder Again

It was sunset (nice), ten days before Christmas (coming at us like a freight train), during one of the very, very, VERY few chunks of time per week that I have as discretionary or recreational time, so what am I doing?

Putting up MORE Christmas lights, of course!

Some of these aren’t exactly what I thought I was ordering, but they’re not too bad. I think they’ll grow on me.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography