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Santa Claus

There was a house on Good Luck Road that used to really get into the holiday spirit by decorating every square inch of the house in Christmas lights complete with lights that blinked in synchronization with the Christmas music that was piped outside. It became a bit of an annual local tradition in the Washington, DC area as the locals converged on that house in an effort to enjoy the dazzling decorative displays.

I have memories of when I first visited that house with my then-husband (he was the one who had heard about that house from either a newspaper article or maybe a coworker at his job—I don’t remember which it was) and we would keep on returning to that house several more times over the years. My husband drove me to that house as a Christmas Day treat just three months after I underwent hip surgery in 2011. I even wrote a post about that particular trip while I was blissfully unaware that he was secretly planning on leaving me just three days later.

I would visit that house a few more times by myself after my husband left and I always enjoyed seeing it.

Last year I wrote a blog post titled End of an Era? after I got a message from a local TV station asking me for permission to use footage from a video I had shot of the house then uploaded on to YouTube back in 2010. I found out the reason: Ted Adelman, the homeowner responsible for those Christmas displays, was battling cancer and he did not feel up to decorating his home that year. In an interview he gave to that local TV station, Ted Adelman promised that the lights would return in 2017.

Unfortunately he was never able to keep his promise for this year. During the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Adelman’s family had announced that he passed away.

Last night, on Christmas Day, I decided to drive past the house on Good Luck Road to see Ted Adelman’s family would continue the tradition without him or not. Other years I didn’t need the actual house number to search for as I was driving because his decorations definitely stood out at night, just like these two photos I took three years ago.

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As I cruised along Good Luck Road I didn’t see any signs of any overdecorated Christmas houses. I eventually pulled over to the side of the road and did the one thing I never had to do before: pull out my smartphone and do a Google search for the exact address of that house. I found an old article about the house (back when Ted Adelman was still doing it each year) that had the full address and I typed that address into my smartphone’s GPS, which I used to find it. Here is what the same house looked like last night.

Not only have the family decided not to continue Ted Adelman’s tradition of decorating that house but the house now has a For Sale sign posted in the front yard.

It looks like the Christmas House on Good Luck Road in Landover is officially just a memory now. It’s sad that a local tradition is gone but that’s the way life is sometimes. I will definitely miss going for a special drive on a cold winter December night checking out those lights. I want to give a shoutout to Ted Adelman’s family for all the years of pleasure that their decorations have given to me and to numerous other people over the years. Thank you for your efforts to make the winter holidays a bit cheerier. I wish Ted Adelman’s survivors well in the future wherever they move to.

In case you’ve missed it, here’s that video I wrote about earlier that I shot back in 2010. I not only shot that house but I also shot the house located across the street that seemed to be in some kind of a decorating competition with the other house by loading the front lawn with all kinds of giant inflatable Christmas decorations. (Curiously I noticed that the same house across the street also doesn’t have those inflatables posted on the lawn this year. I don’t know the reason why the owner isn’t decorating the house this year.)

You can also see still photos of the house that I took in 2012 and 2014.

The only moral I can offer about this story is to always try to appreciate whatever Christmas customs or traditions you follow because one day they could change or even go away for good just like the annual Christmas house on Good Luck Road in Lanham, Maryland.

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I spent the Fourth of July holiday attending a party at a friend’s home whose backyard overlooks Greenbelt Lake. Here is what the view looks like.

The View From a Friend's Home at Her Fourth of July Party

It was really cool seeing the fireworks being shot over the lake with the reflection in the water. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a short of the fireworks. Like I wrote the other day, my smartphone camera is starting to act erratic lately. Sometimes it’ll work perfectly while other times I get this dreaded “Camera Error” message along with “Please restart camera.” I restart the camera only to get that same error message. I leave my smartphone camera alone for a while and the camera starts to work normally again. That problem has gotten so bad that I now take the older and heavier Canon Digital Rebel EOS DSLR camera with me if I’m going to a place where I really want to take pictures.

That day I left the Canon camera home because I didn’t feel like lugging it around and my smartphone acted up after I took my one and only photo on the Fourth of July. While I would’ve loved to have gotten some fireworks photos, I’m not too bitter because I had previously taken photos of Fourth of July fireworks in Greenbelt Lake in 2013, 2014, and 2016,

Here’s a gorgeous sunset photo I took on July 11, 2017.

Gorgeous Sunset

And last, but not least, I was visiting a friend at his job at the Takoma Park Public Library on July 14, 2017 when I saw this customized Bart Simpson vinyl toy that was on display there.

Customized Bart Simpson Vinyl Figure

My support group for people who are separated or divorced was having a pre-Fourth of July get-together at this park in Catonsville which also included a free concert by a local band. I originally intended to go to that event but I got diverted by attending the weekly meetup of this animation group that I’ve been involved with since last year.

I left as soon as the meetup ended and I decided to check out downtown Catonsville first before going to that park. I remember going to that town on a Saturday every few months when I was growing up because my grandmother’s doctor had his offices there. My mother used to drive her there and I would tag along as well. I hadn’t been to Catonsville in a very long time so I thought it would be nice to reacquaint myself with the area before I headed off to the park.

I vaguely remembered Catonsville having a lot of shops but we never shopped there. We only went there for my grandmother’s doctor and that was it. I wanted to know if I remembered this correctly and, sure enough, I was correct.

The entire downtown area is totally charming to walk around.

I found a sign mentioning the fact that this part of Catonsville is a historic district.

Here’s one of the street signs celebrating the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

I found this gigantic store known as Bill’s Music. If it weren’t for the fact that I was in Catonsville on a late Sunday afternoon (when many of the stores tend to close early) and I was planning on joining my friends in the park, I would’ve gone inside that store and checked it out. The next time I’m in Catonsville I definitely plan on going inside, especially since I’ve been playing the guitar off and on since I was a teenager.

In addition there is another guitar store that’s located right across the street from Bill’s Music.

I just walked around for a bit taking various pictures. It looks like all of the businesses on this street are locally-owned. (Or at least I didn’t see anything resembling a chain store on this street.) It was too bad I wasn’t able to go inside any of the stores. The next time I find myself in Catonsville for any reason, I will definitely go inside at least one or two stores while I’m there. (I’ll probably wait until the fall before I do this because the area is currently undergoing the usual hot and humid heatwave that always plague this area in July and August and I prefer to walk in more pleasant weather.)

I ended up not going to that park after all. When I arrived I saw huge throngs of people entering the park (and, no, they weren’t all from my support group either) and I had a hard time finding parking. I finally found a spot several blocks away but I lost my enthusiasm for going to that park because I would have a hard time finding where my friends from the support group were located due to the huge throng of people who were going to that park for a free concert. (It’s not like the band was this nationally recognized recording stars. Not only had I never heard of this band before, I’ve since forgotten that band’s name.) Plus it was hot that day because it was the usual hot and humid day in July.

I ended up driving back home. I still don’t regret seeing Catonsville again for the first time as an adult since I now know that I was missing out on such a nice area.

My Unitarian Universalist congregation threw a pizza party in the glen after Sunday service on July 2. Since it was held during the throes of the long Fourth of July holiday weekend it was lightly attended. But the people who were there had a great time. I took a few pictures with my camera.

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

I had a pretty busy Saturday before the Fourth of July holiday. I drove my car to the North Linthicum light rail station where I saw this cool looking art truck. Then I took the light rail to the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium where I saw this excellent toy show that was literally a trip down memory lane for me.

As I went back to retrieve my car at the North Linthicum stop I decided to make a short drive to my hometown of Glen Burnie since I was in the area anyway. I went to Ann’s Dari-Creme because the weather has finally gotten hot enough that I felt a craving for a milk shake from that place. It’s a fun place to visit, which you can see in the photos I took for this blog post back in 2015.

The Accuweather app on my smartphone went off notifying me of a major thunderstorm that was passing through the region. The thunderstorm started after I ordered my milkshake and I was drinking it in the car. I decided to just stay in the car consuming my milkshake until the worst of the storm passed.

Afterwards I decided to heat towards Crabtowne USA. I initially thought about eating dinner there then playing its vintage pinball and video arcade games until I saw that the restaurant part was crowded. (I wasn’t surprised since it was the weekend before the Fourth of July.) I decided to just stick with playing the games and I had a great time. So did the kids who were riding the one of the mechanical horses in the next photo.

The crab statue outside the place was all ready for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday with its own little American flag.

The next photo shows what the sky looked like outside of Crabtowne USA, which still showed the effects from that short yet intense thunderstorm which passed through the area.

And then there is the next photo, which reminds me that, yes, I am in Glen Burnie and it provided me with yet another reason why I’m not exactly rushing to move back to that town.

“I Don’t Brake for Protesters”?!? What the ever loving fuck?!? Has this guy ever had an American Government class in high school? Had he even read the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, especially the sections about people having the right to peaceably assemble and allowing the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances?!?

I don’t see this kind of shit in Montgomery County or Prince George’s County. I don’t see this in Baltimore City or Howard County or Annapolis or Crofton. But I go to Glen Burnie and I see this shit and it makes my blood boil. This comes on the heels of seeing Donald Trump Make America Great Again signs on a few front lawns and that barber shop with a Confederate flag and that former Baltimore City police officer’s ill-fated attempt to do a benefit concert in Glen Burnie as Al Jolson in blackface. I wouldn’t be surprised if that asshole “I Don’t Brake for Protesters” pickup truck driver was among those people who were protesting NPR tweeting texts from the Declaration of Independence on July 4.

That truck provided yet another reason why I am pretty grateful that I no longer have to live in Glen Burnie if I don’t want to.

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, a national U.S. holiday that was originally created to honor the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence. NPR decided to issue a series of tweets on Twitter using text that was directly taken from that document. Sounds pretty innocuous and very appropriate for the occasion, no?

Except plenty of Trump supporters actually protested this on Twitter. These links show just a fraction of the angry tweets from Trump supporters protesting the Declaration of Independence being posted on Twitter.

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/07/calling-for-a-revolution-trump-fans-triggered-after-npr-tweets-out-the-declaration-of-independence/

https://gizmodo.com/trump-supporters-cry-bias-after-npr-tweets-the-declarat-1796633566

http://www.newsweek.com/anti-trump-resistance-ready-rise-after-reading-declaration-independence-tweets-631942

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/npr-declaration-of-independence_us_595c6525e4b0da2c7325bd50?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003

https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliareinstein/we-hold-these-alternative-truths-to-be-self-evident?bffbmain&ref=bffbmain&utm_term=.loaR8Em7a#.vdxgLXlNG

http://www.salon.com/2017/07/05/nprs-declaration-of-independence-tweetstorm-angered-some-trump-supporters/

I’m just going to say that if you are against the Declaration of Independence and the ideas that are in that document (such as “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”) then you are anti-American.

I’m old enough to remember when those who were against the anti-Vietnam War protesters used to say “America—Love It or Leave It.” I would say the same thing to those Trump supporters who have protested against the Declaration of Independence on Twitter. Protesting that document is the same as hating America. Protesting that document is just like burning the American flag and they’re the same as hating America. If you hate America that much, then maybe it’s time for you to move to a country that’s more to your liking in terms of having less freedom and more dictatorship. You could move to Russia, where Trump’s buddy Vladimir Putin rules that nation. You could move to Saudi Arabia where you can lose a limb or even your head if you toe the line way too often. You could even move to North Korea where the people there worship Kim Jong Eun just as much as you worship Donald Trump.

But you Declaration of Independence-hating Trump supporters need to decide just one thing: America—Love It or Leave It.

Ted Adelman’s name may not mean much to people who live outside the Washington, DC area but to the locals he produced Christmas magic each year. Yesterday I learned that he had died just a few weeks ago. In a way it’s fitting that his family waited until another major holiday weekend (Fourth of July) to announce his death because Ted Adelman celebrated Christmas in a really big way. Boy, did he ever celebrate that holiday! Each December his home would look like this.

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You can see more photos I took of that house in my blog posts that I wrote in 2012 and 2014.

I also shot a video in 2010 of both that house and another home located across the street that was also decorating in a big way. That video shows how the house had Christmas lights that flashed in synchronicity to cheerful Christmas music that was piped outside.

That tradition abruptly ended last December when the family decided not to decorate their home for the holidays. It was when NBC4 investigated and learned the reason why: Ted Adelman had been battling cancer and he simply didn’t feel up to it. His neighbors decided to organize a group of Christmas carolers that came over to his home on Christmas night singing Christmas carols as a way of thanking him for all the years that he brought cheer to neighbors and strangers alike.

As of this writing it’s not known whether his family plans to continue with this tradition or not and we probably won’t know until December. If there’s a Heaven, I can imagine Ted Adelman trying to overdecorate it at Christmas so much that even Jesus will tell him “You don’t have to do this for me. Really. Oh, well, I’m very flattered that you care this much about me.”

UPDATE (December 26, 2017): I drove by the house on Christmas Day to see if his family would continue the oversized Christmas decoration tradition since Ted Adelman is now deceased. I took pictures that not only showed the house not having any lights but the family have also decided to put the house up for sale, which means that the Adelman family’s Christmas tradition on Good Luck Road in Lanham, Maryland is now only a memory.

American Flag

Happy 241st birthday, United States of America!

And, on that note, here are some patriotic-themed products I’ve seen on sale at various stores this summer.

Today is also an appropriate day for me to once again embed my animation, The March of Liberty, which was shown at Light City in Baltimore earlier this year. After all, it ends with the Statue of Liberty marching to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

On July 4 I went to a party at a friend’s place whose house directly overlooks Greenbelt Lake, where the city of Greenbelt, Maryland has its annual Fourth of July fireworks. The party started in the afternoon and the original plan was that we would all head outside and see the fireworks from my friend’s place. It was a great plan.

Except it rained on July 4. The party went on as scheduled but we all got word via the Internet that the official Greenbelt Fourth of July fireworks would be postponed until the following evening. Instead we watched a broadcast of the Fourth of July celebrations from Washington, DC, which featured fireworks that briefly became a controversy when footage showed the people attending the pre-fireworks concert wearing rain ponchos while the stage was wet and the sky was cloudy yet the fireworks themselves showed them being launched in clear pristine skies. (It turned out that someone at Maryland Public Television decided to show recorded fireworks footage from a previous year instead of live broadcasting this year’s fireworks because they were launched in thick clouds.)

Having the city of Greenbelt postponed the fireworks for the following evening prompted the cancellation of a scheduled late afternoon pre-fireworks performance of patriotic music by a local orchestra because the members of that orchestra are all volunteers who have day jobs. Since July 5 was a workday many of them couldn’t abruptly take leave from their jobs to arrive by 2 or 3 in the afternoon so they could set up and perform. But a community drumming circle that was scheduled to perform after that orchestra was not only able to go on as scheduled but it even took over the outdoor stage that was originally reserved for the orchestra.

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Basically people were free to join and leave the drumming circle as they saw fit. (The organizers of that drumming circle provided drums and percussion instruments for those who didn’t bring their own drum.) I even joined in at one point, while I played on my small Ron Jon’s Surf Shop bongo that I brought with me from home. I shot a video of the entire Fourth of July festivities, which you can watch below.

Here are the rest of the still photos I took at that event, starting with a gathering of people late in the afternoon just before sunset.

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I took a telephoto shot of the area where the fireworks would be launched from.

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There was this vendor who was going around selling all kinds of glow-in-the-dark toys for kids to the crowd. The police showed up and started to grill the vendor. I saw the vendor show this pink slip to the police but apparently it wasn’t what the police wanted to see and he left soon afterwards. I have a feeling that he just showed up selling his wares without formally applying for permission to sell his stuff but I don’t know for sure. I was near the action but I wasn’t within earshot (plus there were other people talking all around me) so I can’t say for sure what was going on.

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I took a few gorgeous sunset photos.

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The rest of the pictures are ones that I shot of the fireworks. I didn’t take as many firework shots as previous years because I’ve already taken numerous fireworks photos and I decided to just enjoy the spectacle for a change. I did take a few token shots because just a few days before someone had posted this article on Medium.com saying that you shouldn’t use a smartphone to take pictures of fireworks because they never turn out well. I wrote another post rebutting that assertion while providing evidence (mainly firework pictures I’ve taken with my smartphone in the past). So I took these firework photos with my smartphone in order to provide recent examples of, yes, it’s possible to take excellent photos with a smartphone.

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A couple of years ago I went to a party at the home of a person whom I met through my support group for people who are separated or divorced. She announced that she was having a bonfire and she invited people to bring anything they would like to burn. A couple of years ago I brought my wedding cake topper to burn, which I wrote about in this blog and I shot this short video.

Recently the same person was having another party with a bonfire at her home and she invited people to bring something to burn. I found something that had been hanging on the wall of my home that I thought would be proper to burn. It was a wedding present from my parents and it featured this embroidery piece that was handmade by my mother the placed in this lovely frame. It had hung in the living room of my home for many years and it still remained there after my husband literally ran away from home and subsequently divorced me.

I no longer wanted the embroidery piece as is. I couldn’t sell it on eBay because it was personalized with my name and my ex-husband’s name along with the date of our wedding. I thought of ways that I could somehow alter it and maybe use it in some kind of potential future arts and crafts project only to find that it really can’t be altered without ruining or destroying the piece.

I called my mother to see if she would want it back since she worked hard on it but she said she didn’t want it either (especially since it has my ex-husband’s name on it).

So I did what I felt I had to do. I removed the piece from the frame (which I kept because it’s really too lovely to destroy and I can definitely recycle it), brought it with me to the party, and burned it. I also made a video of its destruction.

The party hostess also provided sparklers for the guests to light (especially since it was the night before the Fourth of July holiday) and here’s a photo of one of the sparklers I lit using the bonfire.

sparkler

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