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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lights and De-Lights

As the swarms of folks descend on the campgrounds... Steveio and I decided to Stay Home!~  Yes....  we are snug in our home instead of battling the weekend warriors who whoop it up one last time before school and jobs and fall etc set in.  Steve left the campground on Friday with a sigh of relief, his work done for the week and we could relax at home.

We used to be those kind of folks, packing it up and rushing off to beat the traffic to possibly get a campsite in the northwoods... hoping we could find a spot or hope a family member was holding one for us.  Not this year, we changed our minds. Maybe we are getting old?

Besides, little Finney had been sick for two days and we were not sure how he would be feeling.  We had made a vet appt. later on Friday, but he was acting back to normal by 8 am, so we called in and cancelled the appointment.  That was fine they said, because someone with two sick dogs was waiting for a cancellation and now they could be worked in.   I think it was just a doggie flu bug, and he has been fine since.

Friday night we tried out a new place for us at a seafood buffet in New Holstein (yes folks, that is a town name for those not familiar with Wisconsin, the heart of dairyland type towns)  It was pretty good and we toddled on home to take a walk with the dogs and head to bed.

Saturday morning, Steveio was up before daybreak, gathering his fishing gear and packing lunches.  Off he went with his brother and father to a fishing day out on Lake Winnebago.  Ahhhhh a morning to myself with a handful of Joann Fabric Sale coupons, and a need to stop at the little quilting store in Plymouth called The Sewing Basket.  It is a delightful little store, and I got just what I needed, and then some.  I buzzed into Sheboygan Falls to the Joanns for the other coupon items I needed... and was home by noon.

Steveio wandered in about 2 pm without any fish, but they had a good family day fishing in the lake with lunches and sunshine and great weather.  Who needs fish?

Of course we tuned into the college football games, the one with our soninlaws favorite Boomer Sooner Oklahoma team and then later the Wisconsin Badgers playing in Green Bays Lambeau field, which they won!  Yay.....

Sunday morning we got around to De-Lighting a Christmas tree!  Yes... a Christmas Tree!

See.... last Christmas, we ended up paying $45 for a live tree and all the needles were falling off in just a few days. We decided then and there that we were going to give up on live trees, and switch over to an artificial tree for 2016.  I had sworn I would never want an artificial tree, loving the smell of the real pines.  Well at $45 a crack and then some, sure to increase over the next few years.... we might as well make a switch to a fake one.  It will pay for itself in no time.  We had looked at end of the year clearance sales, but didnt see anything 9 ft high.

We made a plan to watch rummage sales and Craiglist for a nine foot tall tree that was narrow enough at the base for where we want to put it.  Although Steve had invested in some great LED lights a few years ago (complete with remote control to change the colors or the flashing rhythm and speed)  we even looked for a *pre lit* tree.  I figured that if I was gonna go artificial, I might as well get pre-lit and make it really easy.

Steve found an ad on Craiglist a few weeks back from a lady wayyyy up in Shawano, about 75 miles away.  For grins we wrote to her.  She wrote back.  Of all the people who live in Shawano, I know only ONE person.  A gal from a long ago knitting club I used to belong to.  Lo and behold, that ONE person selling the Christmas Tree WAS her!  LOL

We drove on up and bought the tree.  She said some of the lit branches would not light up, and it was not due to missing bulbs.  It was the type of tree that they all stay lit, even if you remove a bulb.  So it must be in the wiring.  She sold it to us for a mere $20.  Yes, $20. It was in very good shape, still in the original box after using it each year.  They were moving to a condo with smaller ceilings and did not need it anymore.  She said we could just add small 35 light strands to the sections that did not light and plug them into the extra receptacles on the stand.   That would work for us.

On the way home, I looked this tree up and if it brand new from Sears (she still had all the paperwork on it) it almost ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!   I kid you not, a THOUSAND DOLLARS!    OUCH!

It was on sale now for a mere price of $600.00

What was so cool about this tree, is that branches look like REAL pine needles..  not cut bits of plastic between two twisted wires. Nope, these are like a real pine tree made of molded needles and branches.  They are rubber tips and each needle formed like they are growing out of the branch!  I have never seen an artificial tree like this.   No wonder why they cost so much?

Well, now for the *DE-lighting* part of my story: 

Two weeks ago we set the tree up in the garage, all nine glorious feet of it.  Wow... it was lovely!  We plugged in each set of lights of each section into the next.  She was right, some of the sections lit up part way, but not others.  We struggled with it for a bit, but it was so hot humid and icky out, we gave up  and left it sit for two weeks.  

This tree has been set up in our garage, waiting for a cooler day.  Today was exactly that.  Armed with a voltage tester, extra little fuses, extra bulbs and triple tap extension cords we set to work. 

We fiddled and fuddled and futzed with it.  
For over an hour.  
We could not get the entire tree to light up, 
something was wrong in the wires.
We could get a section to light and then it would go out.

The more we worked with it, the more frustrated we got.


Armed with a pair of piers for each of us, we snipped and pulled, snipped and pulled.  It was a laborious task.  We muttered to ourselves about how some little old ladies in Malaysia or Bangladesh were paid 10 cents an hour to wrap these danged lights on each branch.  Here we were, cutting them out again!   They were wrapped and knotted and twisted so tight to each interior branch, so wires could not be seen when decorating the tree on the outside surface.

We sat in the pleasant morning air, with our pliers, our coffee cups and a Christmas Tree!  Our neighbor Diane had out of town company staying over, and they must have thought we were NUTS! They came out and saw what we were doing.  We laughed and said we needed to have some Christmas carols playing.  LOL

The tree comes in five large sections with hinged branches 
that just drop into place when you stand them up. 

We only got TWO sections done and the top piece done. Two more sections to go. By then it was already noon so we decided that it was time to quit.  We had enough *De-Lightful* fun for the day!  Whew.....
Steve is happy to do the job, because then he can still use his fancy dancy LED lights we bought a few years ago.  Get that LED light remote in his hot little hand, he can click and change it from colors to all white to flickers to glow on and off slowly or even rapid blinking that makes you think you are in a disco!  (or start seizures?)

We put away the half finished tree and will get back at it between now and Christmas.

It was time to get dressed and head to
for the afternoon. 

Now for the Lights part of our blog title: 

We volunteer there a few times each month, plus Steve does some maintenance and display building items while I try to keep up with restoring the fiber items and greet visitors.  Another gal, also a Karen, was helping today, so we had company.

Steve was taking care of swapping out some of the dated fluorescent light fixtures, and changing them to regular plug in type LED light fixtures.  The lumins from one strip of these is the same as THREE fluorescent bulbs and uses a lot less electricity.  He found them on sale for $24.00 at Menards, so we tried just two fixtures at first, to see how well they work, and if the Historical Society likes them.  

Two fixtures put end to end really made a HUGE difference in the front area of the museum.  The president stopped out and said they were a great improvement.  Now we have to run back to Menards and get some more before the sale is over tomorrow.   Steve also replaced a bulb in another older fixture since he had the ladder out. 

While he was doing all this technical stuff, the other Karen and I were chatting to visitors.  Also I had set up my antique sockknitting machine and did a demo while working on some sock orders I have for customers.

 My 1926 Gearhart Sockknitting Machine

Steve took this goofy angled pic of me 
Not sure what he was trying to do? Be artistic?  Hmmmmm???

While we were sitting there, I noticed this little fuzzy guy crawling up by my feet!  Awwwwww 

 He is a wooly caterpillar and will someday grow into a Isabella Tiger Moth

As for the wooly bear caterpillar predicting weather, 
Well, lets see what the Old Farmers Almanac says:


The woolly bear caterpillar—with its 13 distinct segments of black and reddish-brown—has the reputation of being able to forecast the coming winter weather.
Here are the history, facts, and lore about this legendary caterpillar.


  • In the fall of 1948, Dr. C. H. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, took his wife 40 miles north of the city to Bear Mountain State Park to look at woolly bear caterpillars.
  • Dr. Curran collected as many caterpillars as he could in a day, determined the average number of reddish-brown segments, and forecast the coming winter weather through a reporter friend at The New York Herald Tribune.
  • Dr. Curran’s experiment, which he continued over the next eight years, attempted to prove scientifically a weather rule of thumb that was as old as the hills around Bear Mountain. The resulting publicity made the woolly bear the most recognizable caterpillar in North America.

this part from:
Long before satellites and weather models, people looked to nature for clues to predict the upcoming harshness of the coldest, darkest days of the year. The roly-poly woolly bear caterpillar, common throughout the United States, earned a reputation as a furry meteorologist that could predict severity of the impending winter. Folklore says that the more prominent the caterpillar’s brown stripe, the more mild the winter.
As cherished as that traditional wisdom may be, woolly bears are actually terrible weather forecasters. There is little reliable or repeatable evidence linking the severity of winter with the breadth of the woolly’s stripe.
So how do we account for the apparent year-to-year variation in woolly bear stripes? It turns out that while woolly bears can’t predict January’s ski conditions, they can tell us something about the weather. Unfortunately, it was the weather last spring.
Lepidopterists think many environmental factors influence the variation in the breadth of the woolly’s stripe. Perhaps the most influential is the wooly’s growing season.

Adult Isabella Tiger Moth, Pyrrharctia isabella.Steve JurvetsonCC BY

When the ground warms in the spring, the woollys thaw and begin to crawl again. Each builds a silken cocoon around itself. After several weeks, metamorphosis complete, they emerge as Isabella Tiger Moths. Oddly enough, while people may sidestep plenty of woolly bears all autumn long, many have never seen the moth. They hide in trees and emerge only at night. After only several days, the moths mate, lay eggs and die. The caterpillar cycle begins anew.
An early spring gives woolly bears a head start on the season. As the woolly bear grows and molts, the width of its brown stripe increases. The warmer the past spring, the fatter and wider the stripe – they’ve had that much longer to grow. That’s why you might notice that the fattest woolly bears are often the brownest.
Still every fall people complain “The woolly bears were brown last year, and it was the mildest winter on record! How do you explain that?” Unfortunately, claims such as these can be chalked up to observer bias. If you love mild winters, you may preferentially notice the browner woolly bears more often.

Beautiful view, not-so-accurate forecast. James D CoppingerAuthor provided

The crawling of woolly bears is not the only beloved winter weather tale. Folklore would have it that bright and intense fall foliage signals a harsh winter to come. (Not true. Like the woolly bear, leaf color is an indication of the current and past weather, not the winter to come.)
Other tidbits of folk wisdom say you can predict the coming winter’s duration by the timing of bird migrations. Or slice into a persimmon’s seed and look to see the predictive shape of a spoon, fork or knife. (Again, that likely has more to do with conditions when the fruit was forming than what’s to come.)
Personally, I love cold, harsh, snowy winters. While I no longer believe that caterpillars can predict the weather, I still can’t help smile when I find an all-black woolly bear caterpillar. Better yet, all-black woolly bears amongst a vivid backdrop of orange and red trees.
It’s hard to let go of beloved folklore.

1 comment:

  1. I would say that is just about a perfect way to spend the Labor Day weekend. No need to fight the crowds, we have all kinds of other times to do all that now that we are old, and we can hide out during the busy times. Love the tree work. Fun.


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