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I was going out and photographing various Christmas-related stuff starting in late November but I decided to wait until late in December before I started doing any kind of blogging about the winter holidays. On December 16, the day after my birthday, I would write one new winter holiday-related post every day until January 6 (Feast of the Epiphany) and I would even write and upload posts on Saturdays and Sundays.

Except things went a bit awry. I kept on doing winter holiday activities while I was doing my marathon blogging until I discovered that I had more posts than days available, which resulted in uploading two or three posts per day towards the end. I began to burn out on doing this but I kept at it.

Had I gone to the Artechouse Nutcracker event sooner I would’ve accomplished my marathon blogging on January 6. But I ended up not going until January 6 and I wasn’t able to write about it until earlier today. So there was a two-day break between my last winter holiday post and the Nutcracker post that would be the last of the marathon winter holiday posts.

Having done this, I’ve decided that I will never try this again. It was sheer insanity to do so much blogging like that and it also distracted from other things that I would like to be working on. If I was to do this again, I would not save posts until late December. If I come across something Christmas-related in November, I would try to write about it soon afterwards instead of waiting until after December 15 to write about it.

Well, anyway, I’ve learned my lesson.

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Santa Claus

My Unitarian Universalist congregation had its annual Kwanzaa service on New Year’s Eve this year (mainly because New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday in 2017) where lunch was served following the end of the service. Here are my photos of the food and the decorations from that day.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

I can’t believe it’s 2018 already. This video says it all about how much of a fuckery 2017 was.

Well, anyway, I’m still doing my marathon blog posts consisting of nothing but Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s through the end of the week.

And, on that note, here’s the perfect New Year’s song for today: “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” by the late George Harrison.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

The day after I observed yet another birthday I decided to check out the Riverdale Park Festival of Lights and Holiday Market. I ran into a few friends of mine and just basically hung out. Here are my photos from that event.

Near the Christmas tree stand was this toy train layout, which had a toy train that was going around and around.

The two young boys in the next photo were constantly following the toy train. As it rode around and around in a circle, the boys walked around and around in a circle as well.

The bulk of the event was held inside of a building. There were all kinds of arts and crafts available for sale ranging from paintings to freshly baked cupcakes to dolls to handmade soap to fused glass jewelry. There was live entertainment as well.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

These days I usually tend to go to the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s events only on the months when there isn’t a DC Dr. Sketchy’s event. That’s because both events are usually scheduled on two consecutive nights with the DC event being on a Sunday and the Baltimore event being held on the following day. I usually find it a bit taxing to try to make two Dr. Sketchy’s events two nights in a row.

This time I decided to go to the Baltimore event the night after the DC event because they had a burlesque performer in a wheelchair, which I thought was pretty intriguing. I was born with a dislocated hip and had the doctors not put me in a body cast at an early age, I would’ve ended up in a wheelchair. (In fact, I ended up having hip replacement surgery in 2008 when the same hip that was dislocated at birth started to lose cartilage and I couldn’t walk without a cane.) My father ended up spending the last 12 years of his life in a wheelchair due to a spine injury. My mother is currently in a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis. So, yeah, I’ve had people in wheelchairs in my life so I was curious as to how a person is able to have a burlesque career despite being in a wheelchair.

Like I wrote in a previous post, I made an attempt to do some combined trips on December 11, 2017 by going to Valley View Farms first. When I used to have a pet hedgehog, I frequently had to travel a great distance to the pet store where I got Spike so I could purchase hedgehog food. There were times when I tried to time my trips to the pet store on the same nights as the Baltimore chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s. The pet store was located about 3-5 miles away from Valley View Farms so all I had to do was to go in, buy the hedgehog food, then take a short 20-minute trip down I-83 into the city then get off at the North Avenue exit. (When I later discovered that a pet store in Columbia also sold hedgehog food, I started going there instead because it was only a 30-minute commute versus an hour-long commute for the other pet store. The pet store where I got Spike has since gone out of business.) I figured that I would do the same with going to Valley View Farms first.

Things really went awry that day. I gave myself plenty of time to get to Valley View Farms in a reasonable amount of time only to encounter this horrendous traffic jam on the Baltimore Beltway. What is usually an hour-long commute took nearly two hours to get there thanks to the traffic. So I had less time to spend at Valley View Farms than I wanted since I wanted to make the Dr. Sketchy’s event.

As I drove on I-83 I got pulled over by a cop for having a broken taillight. (I’ve been wanting to get it fixed for a while. The problem is that the electrical system is also busted so changing the bulb isn’t enough. One garage I went to wanted $600 in order to repair it entirely, which is hard to swing when I’m still looking for a new day job and money is tight.) I got a warning but I was late in getting to Dr. Sketchy’s. Here’s a photo of a promo poster I took during one of the breaks.

Here’s a photo of a Christmas tree in the corner of The Windup Space with no lights or decorations. (I shot that photo on December 11 so it’s very likely that the tree was decorated afterwards.)

A burlesque performer named Jacqueline Boxx was the model for this event and she’s the one who’s able to do her performances while in a wheelchair. Some of the drawings in this post are definitely NSFW.

I took part in two of the contests that were held that evening. The first was where we had to somehow incorporate The Price is Right because that day was Bob Barker’s birthday. I used to watch that game show with my grandmother when I was a kid. I’ve always remembered the big prize wheel so I did a prize wheel where Jacqueline Boxx was one of the prizes. My drawing was among the finalists and it came in second place.

There were two prizes that were offered for that contest. I won a pad of tracing paper.

The other contest I participated in was where we had to somehow incorporate The Muppet Christmas Carol. This one was a challenge because, I have to confess, I’ve seen numerous other versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but the one with the Muppets was the one version I had never seen. So I decided to enter a contest about a movie I hadn’t seen. I don’t know what I was thinking that night other than I was already frazzled due to the crazy traffic jams and that encounter with the cop. I began remembering the fact that I had seen Mickey’s Christmas Carol where Mickey Mouse played the Bob Cratchit role. I know that Kermit the Frog is the most beloved Muppet (just as Mickey is the most beloved Disney character) so I assumed that he would be in the same role in that movie. So I came up with this drawing.

That drawing didn’t make it among the finals. I later looked up The Muppet Christmas Carol on the Wikipedia and I found that I was right in my hunch about Kermit the Frog being cast in the Bob Cratchit role. Maybe I’ll get around to somehow seeing that movie one of these days. (LOL!)

I did one more drawing of Jacqueline Boxx before the event ended for the evening.

That pad of tracing paper wasn’t the only freebie art supply I got that night. Apparently the event’s sponsor, Blick Art Supplies, had sent over some sample art supplies (including colored pencils) and the event organizers offered them for anyone to take for free. I took three tubes of acrylic paint.

As I was driving out of Baltimore, I was stopped at a traffic light when I saw that the M&T Bank Stadium (where the Baltimore Ravens football team play their home games) were lit in red and green lights just in time for Christmas. I took advantage of the red traffic light to take a couple of quick photos, although I have to admit that the red and green lights looked far more impressive in real life than what these photos show.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

I decided to check out the Baltimore chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at The Wind-Up Space when I decided to go to the Christmas shop at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville as well. When I used to have a pet hedgehog I would sometimes schedule buying more hedgehog food where I would go to the original pet store where I got Spike, buy his food, then drive south along I-83 into Baltimore where I would go to Dr. Sketchy’s. (The pet store in question was located about 3-5 miles away from Valley View Farms. That store has since gone out of business.)

So I had a similar idea regarding Valley View Farms. I left home a few hours early in order to leave myself with plenty of commuting time. I figured that I could leisurely walk through Valley View Farms then head on into Baltimore where I can check out Dr. Sketchy’s. But then I encountered a horrendous accident followed by extremely slow traffic on the Baltimore Beltway. What should have been an hour-long commute turned into a nearly two-hour commute. By the time I arrived at Valley View Farms I only had 45 minutes to browse the store before I had to leave in order to make the start of Dr. Sketchy’s on time. I was kind of peeved that my plans went awry but what else could I do? I decided to make the most of the limited time I had. I also managed to take a few pictures.

The next two pictures show mistletoe, which brings back memories of the years when I used to buy mistletoe for the house when I was married. I haven’t purchased any since my husband left me because it seems useless and silly to buy it since I live alone these days.

I only purchased one thing at Valley View Farms and it was a tub of Fisher’s Popcorn. I used to buy it whenever my then-husband and I went to Ocean City. I haven’t had too many chances to buy it because I haven’t gone anywhere in the Delmarva region since my husband left. I know I can buy it online through their website but I haven’t gotten around to doing it. So I literally leapt at the chance to buy it when I saw that Valley View Farms had it in stock. The popcorn tasted just as good as I remembered it.

I took so many pictures in this post that I’m going to do a separate post about Dr. Sketchy’s. (Link is definitely NSFW.)

Santa Claus Baby New Year

I went to Dupont Circle the day after a snowstorm hit the area. While there was some leftover snow in the suburbs, all of the snow was melted in the city. In any case, commuting to the city was no trouble at all. When I arrived at the Greenbelt Metro station I saw this panda bear advertising the Zoolights event that is held at the National Zoo each year.

I arrived at Dupont Circle, which had Christmas decorations displayed all over the area.

The next fountain shows the Dupont Circle fountain. You would never know that a major snowstorm that dumped around two inches of snow came through the area the day before. Although it was incredibly cold that day. (The temperature was in the low 30’s.)

The next photo shows the window of Second Story Books, which specializes in selling vintage used and rare books. Many of the books in that window were the various sequels to The Wizard of Oz that L. Frank Baum wrote. Note the prices of these books.

For those who prefer to celebrate Hanukkah instead, this sign announced the lighting of the National Menorah on the Ellipse.

 

I eventually made my way to The Bier Baron, where this month’s DC chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School was being held. Here’s a photo of the stage I took before the event began.

The bar was very festive with strings of Christmas lights along the railing.

 

The event’s emcee, Reverend Valentine, was up in the booth spinning the tunes. The weirdest song she played was this song called Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey. I had never heard of it before although it supposed to be a very popular Christmas song among Italian Americans. (My mother’s side of the family is German/Irish/Czech while my father’s side is English/Scottish/Scotch-Irish/Welsh so that probably explains how I missed that one when I was growing up.)

Here are a couple more shots of the bar.

A burlesque performer named Delilah Dentata was the model for this event so some of the drawings in this post are definitely NSFW.

The event ended right at 6 p.m. and most people left immediately afterwards because they didn’t want to linger too much with the weather being that cold. (The temperature eventually dipped from a high of the low 30’s to the low 20’s.) I walked past The Fireplace where I briefly warmed my hands by pressing them against the glass where the outdoor fire was flaming.

I took some random shots of the Dupont Circle area.

 

I shot this next photo of a sticker that was on a trashcan. You can get an idea as to how popular President Donald Trump really is in Washington, DC. (LOL!)

I decided to make a stop at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café where I took these photos.

I stopped by Krispy Kreme where I purchased one of the Christmas donuts for sale.

I decided to take the Red Line Metro to Union Station because I wanted to check out the decorations this year. What I never realized before is that the stores and eateries tend to close very early on Sundays. The lower level of Union Station looked very spooky with the majority of stores and fast food places closed. (The one silver lining is that I knew not to go to Union Station on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve since both days fall on a Sunday this year.)

I got a chance to see this year’s Christmas tree, which is usually put up as a joint project with the Norwegian embassy.

Here’s a closeup shot showing the U.S. and Norwegian flags that were strewn throughout the Christmas tree.

There is usually a Norwegian themed toy train layout. The toy trains had stopped running when I was there but I was still able to marvel at the realistic miniature replicas of a small Norwegian village.

I took a few more photos of Union Station before I left. With nearly all of the stores and restaurants closed, it wasn’t worth hanging around Union Station too long.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

One Saturday in early December a snowstorm hit my area. The snow lasted the entire day and into the night, it was ultimately somewhere between 1-2 inches, and it basically laid in the grass but not on the sidewalks and streets. The temperatures were below freezing the entire day. The weather wasn’t very conductive to doing much of anything outdoors. I decided to take a short drive to Roosevelt Center so I could check out what the Festival of Lights display looked like in the snow.

I’ve taken photos of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights before. The first time was in January, 2016 just before the festival officially ended. The second time I shot the opening ceremony in December, 2016. I skipped this year’s opening ceremony because I decided to attend the Holiday Warm-Up Party that was scheduled at my church the same evening. I decided to take pictures of what it all looked like in the middle of the snowstorm. Here is what I shot in the afternoon.

I briefly stopped by the Greenbelt Makerspace, which was deserted because most people opted to stay in their own homes instead of venturing out. That makerspace had its own decorations for Christmas and Hanukkah up.

I didn’t stay in the makerspace too long due to a lack of people plus I was in the mood for some hot chocolate at the New Deal Cafe. As I walked across the way I saw this squirrel who seemed to ignore the snowstorm all around it because it was more focus on satisfying its hunger.

I basically spent my time at the New Deal Cafe sipping hot chocolate, talking with the few people who were there (there were more people than at the Greenbelt Makerspace but it was still less crowded than usual on a Saturday afternoon), and doing some web surfing until sunset. The snowstorm was still going strong when I took these night photos of the Festival of Lights.

I began to feel some icy patches forming underneath my feet so I decided to return home. The snowstorm didn’t stop until around 9 p.m.

Santa Claus

On that day the local weather forecast was not only calling for snow but the temperature had plummeted to below freezing. In the Baltimore-Washington area such forecasts usually result in people cramming into the grocery stores and buying everything in stock because they are so afraid of being somehow snowed in for months. (It turned out that the snowstorm didn’t begin until sometime after midnight on early Saturday morning.)

I needed some tissues but there was no way I was going to get into the crowded mess complete with long lines at the checkout counter just so I can purchase a couple boxes. Instead I went to CVS where I was able to buy those two boxes while waiting no more than five minutes in line. While I was there I saw the Christmas stuff they had on sale, which I took pictures of.

I also noticed a different line of Christmas plush on sale at CVS that I didn’t photograph on that day. However, when I returned to CVS just a couple of days before Christmas I saw that the prices of this plush were marked off 30% and each plush was on sale for just under $5. So I decided to buy it on impulse. Here is my newest Christmas decoration.

It’s the plush version of the famous Internet celebrity Grumpy Cat. I liked the fact that this cat is wearing a black Santa hat with the sarcastic words “HO HO NO.” Here’s a last shot of my new Grumpy Cat plush sitting pretty on my coffee table along with my other Christmas decorations.

Santa Claus

One Thursday evening before I went to my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced I went to a couple of nearby places starting with a visit to Homestead Gardens’ Christmas shop, which I wrote about in my last post. After I went to Homestead Gardens, I decided to go to Wegman’s so I could get a quick bite to eat before attending the meeting. I found a few interesting displays that I photographed.

This particular Wegman’s store is located in Crofton, Maryland. Crofton is located just a few miles away from Annapolis, where the Naval Academy is located. Naturally Wegman’s would sell baked goods as a tie-in with the annual Army-Navy football game, which was held a couple of days after I took these photos.

Wegman’s had a variety of Christmas items available for sale.

They also had these giant inflatable Christmas decorations on display in the store.

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