on repeat.

In 2010, Mrs. Crappy and I ventured to Ohio for a terrific Groundhog weekend.

When we returned, our street looked like this:

cropped-img_4012.jpg

This weekend, I am venturing to Ohio — Mrs. Crappy has to work — for what I hope will be a terrific Groundhog weekend.

Check out what could be happening when I return on Sunday:

stormwarning

So. OK then.

 

getting lit.

icicles2

Confession: this post is for me as much as it is for you.

This is our sixth Christmas in our Pittsburgh house. I don’t think I’ve ever hung our Christmas lights the same way twice. And this post is going to help me remember what I did this year — because it was really easy.

For the first few years we lived here, we strung white lights into strands of garland. It looked terrific, but it was an incredible pain in the ass. If a string of lights wasn’t working when we hauled everything out of the attic, I had a choice: find the single bulb that was causing the problem or unwrapping the entire string and replacing it. This process is why decorating the front of the house used to take multiple days.

I gave up the garland two years ago, opting to just wrap the lights themselves around the porch railings. This presented a different challenge: I had to figure out how many strands I needed — and how many times each strand should be wrapped around the railings to make sure we didn’t have gaps on either side of the porch. And should I wrap all of the porch supports? Just the ones framing the door?

(Does anyone else struggle with these questions every December? Just me? OK. Fine.)

Just after the completion of The Game on Saturday, I ran to Home Depot to buy a few boxes of strands to replace the ones that died since last Christmas (How do Christmas lights die when they sit in an attic, untouched, for 11 months?) and hung the lights. It was … easy. The numbers worked out well. No gaps or overhangs (with one exception that I’ll fix later today).

And that, boys and girls, is the actual purpose of this post — I want to remember what I did, so I can do it again next year.

buhses

The bushes on the side of the house haven’t actually changed over the years. The little one gets three red strands, while the large one gets four (reminder for 2014: make it five on the large one).

shortside

The short side of the porch has always been a puzzler. Wrap the whole railing? The entire post, or just the front? What I did this time: Up the railing’s back post, wrapped once per spindle, down the railing’s front post and then around the front of the porch post. A second strand of 100 lights is enough to up to the porch roof.

icicles1

Fortunately, the icicle lights have always been easy. Two strands of however long they are. Rinse, repeat.

maple

It didn’t occur to me to light the Japanese maple until last year, when I found I had extra red lights. Three strands of 100 does the trick.

railing

And then there’s the rest of the porch. This is where I’ve changed my mind the most over the years — and I hope I have put that to rest from this point forward. Two 100-light strands, wrapped just once per spindle, cover the entire railing, the handrail along the steps and the handrail’s front post. To do the other porch post that frames the doorway, connect a strand of 100 to the connection between the two icicles, run it along the roof frame until you get to the post and start going down. The one thing that didn’t work Saturday night — I need one strand of 50 to finish that post. We’ll fix that soon.

front

That’s it. Easy. And it turned out pretty well, don’t you think?

swimming eve.

We all know the Yinzteam Polar Bear Plunge is tomorrow morning. For those of you who are joining us — swimming or support — here are the details:

* The Crappys — including my parents — will in the Mon Wharf lot by 8:30. As we’ve done the past two years, we’re going to park on the side closer to the Point, so head down that way when you arrive and look for the red Element.

* Haven’t been to the Wharf before? Best way is to approach from Wood Street at Fort Pitt Boulevard and look for the yellow sign, as seen in the pic below:

* Make an effort to get there early. We lost some swimmers last year when they got stuck in traffic.

* Swimming usually starts after 9. We’ll go around 9:15 or something.

* The weather’s going to suck. Expect rain and temps around 40 when it’s time to swim.

* Bring: Towels, warm clothes, cameras, shoes you can wear in the water and others to change into after.

* Tip: It might sound counter-intuitive, but I’ve found it’s easier to make the plunge in just a bathing suit. You’ll have much less cold, wet clothing to remove once you get out — and trust me, you’ll be in a hurry to get the wet, cold stuff off.

* When we’re done? We’re heading to Piper’s Pub, 1828 E. Carson St., for beer and Irish boxty (or maybe that’s just me).

* Watch Twitter tomorrow morning for any updates. I’ll use the #yinzteamplunge hashtag for easy searching.

See y’all there.

swim (volume four).

Yes, I’m going to do it again.

Yes, we’ll be in the Mon Wharf parking lot, on the side closer to the Point, by 9 a.m. Sunday.

Yes, I still think this is the best way possible to start the new year.

No, it’s not going to be as warm as it was last Jan. 1.

Yes, I still think you should join me.

Yes?

a month.

Sure, I’ve posted a couple times since I completely punted National Blog Posting Month, but there’s been a bunch of stuff I missed in the meantime. So: A) Bullet post. B) Completely ignoring the fact that I punted National Blog Posting Month, especially now that we’re seven days into December C) QUIT ROLLING YOUR EYES AT ME.

  • There were several football games, the loss of one I acknowledged with the video of my, ahem, old friend Brutus. The final home game, though, was the really odd one — Penn State with no Paterno was easily the weirdest game of the weirdest season I’ve ever experienced.
  • And then Ohio State hired a new coach. I’m happy that Urban is already making Michigan fans twitchy, but I’m not totally sold yet.
  • We had a lovely Thanksgiving, thank you. Dinner was with Mrs. Crappy’s family in Washington; we then traveled to Columbus to prepare for the Beat Michigan weekend, the results of which you already know. But my favorite part might have been my Thanksgiving night snack of White Castles and Mad Elf at my parents’ kitchen table.
  • And if that wasn’t the best part, it would have been listening to my niece on the phone that evening telling me that her hair had been crumpled.
  • I hadn’t made the family spaghetti in years; in the last month, I’ve made it twice, once for the annual Beat Michigan dinner in Columbus and once for friends just a couple days ago. The good news: I still remember how.
  • Football travel is over. I love going to Columbus for games but the endless driving back and forth gets really old by the end of the season.
  • I saw Yonder Mountain String Band at the beginning of November because I was twitchy for a show; we saw the String Cheese Incident last night because that’s what Mrs. Crappy wanted to do for her birthday. Good stuff, too, although SCI can be a little too noodle-y, even for me.
  • I got to miracle Boo and Butter for last night’s show, thanks to Pam, who won tickets through WYEP but couldn’t go. Teresa gets bonus points for the assist.
  • Remember the nice English lady who helped me through Couch to 5K? We broke up. It wasn’t her; it was me. I finished C25K last weekend, just in time to be ready for my first 5K on Saturday morning. I’ll tell you more about that later today.
  • HOW COME IT’S NOT SNOWING YET?
  • I totally changed our outdoor Christmas lights, and they’re still not quite right.
  • I’m still not really feeling Christmas yet. But that’ll come.
  • And I apparently need to add a picture to the banner; if I don’t you can’t really see the snow that WordPress gives us every December.

So. How’ve you guys been?