30 November, 2009

On Line Photos 2009

The photos from November are online. More photos will be posted as I turn, crop, reduce size etc.

Hard at work making Lighted Christmas Balls

Newcomers and experienced Lighted Christmas Ball makers gathered side by side to bend chicken wire, push, and poke into a roundish shape. Lights go on next and voila.. all one has to do is connect the ball to power and get it into a treetop.

Now seen in Beaumont Texas - Lighted CHRISTmas Balls

We received this happy email from a new friend in Beaumont Texas on Saturday - I uploaded his photos in collage format. Nice work (is it work?) maybe we should say Nice Play! They do look terrific.

Jonathan and Anne,
I saw a link to your site on how to make the balls on
I watched the video and was so taken with the story that I had to bring it down here to the Gulf Coast.
I hope it catches on here like on your street!
Merry CHRISTmas.

--Steve Dallas Johnson
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28 November, 2009

Fun on Ridgeway Drive

When Alison Hassard said she wanted to make a potato launcher, she wasn't just kidding.  A trip to the internet, Home Depot and this is her creation.  It makes a very cool whooshing sound and as the Englars exclaimed, we can now get the string up higher than ever before and all the friends came out to play.  We now have many strings in the neighborhood.  There will be Lighted Christmas Balls up soon.  Nice Day!

26 November, 2009

Lighted Christmas Balls in Historic Charles B. Aycock neighborhood

Four generations of women bask on the porch following an awesome Thanksgiving feast.  Mamaw and Susan went back to Raleigh, Grayson went down for a nap, and Millie and Anne watched Justin and Jonathan use a super-sized slingshot to pitch an 8 oz. canvas throw bag over high limbs in one of Historic Aycock's pecan trees to pull binding twine up and over its branches before finally tying it off.  

Next steps: connect grounded extension cords to light balls, tie each binding twine "halyard" to its respective ball, hoist, and tie off. 

Last 100 visits to LCB

World map showing last 100 visits to Lighted Christmas Balls blog.  'afternoon, Australia. 

Happy Thanksgiving

Peeps renews the mini lights on Toad Hall's light sign.  MayMay puts new multi-function lights on Show Off ball.  River the Golden Retriever, long passed out on ottoman.  Georgia the Boykin, she disappears when her eyes close.  She's next to MayMay.  Excited about making preparations for Sunday's Lighted Christmas Ball Workshop in the morning.  Lighted Christmas Balls already appearing in the neighborhood already.  Lots to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving.

24 November, 2009

And there was light !

As I drove home down Market Steet I thought I had better swing by Rolling to see if Jamey and Phil had their Lighted Christmas Balls on and they started shining through the trees as I turned onto Greenway. They are beautiful and bright. I love the lights just like a little kid. I will drive by them everytime I leave the neighborhood or return. Let the fun begin.
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22 November, 2009

Lighted Christmas Balls Host Families Coverd Dish Supper

With the Lighted Christmas Balls Party one week away we wanted to get as many of the host families as possible together for a short meeting to tie down loose ends.  Gardner reportred that the hunger problem in NC is showing no signs of letting up.  Second Harvest, which distributes donated food to more than 400 non-profit partner agencies that serve people at risk of hunger and others in need from Boone to Burlington, is experiencing its second consecutive year of unprecedented demand for food.  Last week, WFDD reported that one in six North Carolinians worries about running out of food sometime in the next seven days.  Documented research shows one out of every five children in North Carolina experience food insecurity. 

Sunset Hills Neighborhood is committed to doing something about this.  Jamey and Phil are providing a 2nd food collection trailer at the corner of Rolling and West Greenway North, and can safeguard donated food from the elements and redeliver it to food banks.  John Englar suggested yard signs signs with a simple catch phrase could go a long way to helping connect the experience of enjoying the lighted balls with the bigger purpose of shining a light on the problem of hunger in North Carolina.  Triad sign maker Bravo Signs, who helped sponsor our last two workshops/food drives, will make signage for 2nd food trailer and our new yard signs.  More later.

Jonathan announced that Glenwood Tutoring Program will have their Christmas party December 7, and they'd love us to be part of their effort.  For the last two years, Sunset Hills neighbors worked with the program's tutors and students to make and hang over 50 Lighted Christmas Balls.  Neighborhoods like Glenwood live on life's margins.  Poverty, drugs, and prostitution are in ample supply.  Stability, hope, and joy are scarce.  Glenwood may be on the margins, but it benefits from a huge multiplyer affect: any good done there gets so much bang for the buck.   Just imagine what Greensboro will be like if each student of Glenwood Tutoring Program hangs a Lighted Christmas Ball in their yard 40 years from now, offering stability, hope and joy.  Jonathan will send around a signup memo with some possible dates. 

Everyone signed up for all the working parts of the party.  Despite that the City of Greensboro has offered us an optional "rain date" for the following Sunday, we said if we could take last year's nasty weather, we can take anything.  Besides, our statiscian says, it's rained the last three years and we're overdue for a clear day.  The forecast for next Sunday indicates cold and clear, but that could change.  Stone soup is in the offing again so remember to bring your canned vegatables to add to the pot.   If we have more vegtables than we need, they will be added to the food drive trailer.

As always there was lots of stories and lots of laughter as this is just the start of the season when we all meet new neighbors, get to know neighbors better and make new friends. The Lighted Christmas Balls no longer just Christmas decorations, they are the cord that binds a neighborhood, one more thing that makes living in Sunset Hills so very special.

While we adjourned to the living room to enjoy an open fire, a glass of wine, and friends, Janet and Jeff took over the kitchen and scraped, scrubbed, and washed evey pot, bowl, plate, fork, spoon and glass in sight, and left us with a spotlessly clean kitchen. What a wonderful treat. What a joy. Thank you, guys.

When the going gets tough, the tough hang Lighted Christmas Balls

We had an absolutely wonderful day joining our long time friends Bill and Paulette for lunch (we had yummy lunch by Wendy Cardais - caterer extraordinaire). After lunch we rolled out the table protector covers and started cutting chicken wire right then and there on the dining room table. We gathered in the living room with football playing on the big screen and made the chicken wire balls. I am not 100% sure they believed they would ever look like anything other than a wire 'foot stool' but to the amazement of all (including us) they do finally take shape and when you wrap the lights around them, they suddenly are magical.

Next step take them to the front lawn, put the strings up in the trees, attach those strings and power to the Lighted Christmas Balls - then just at dusk, we hoist them up - you can the lake beyond them and I am sure the boaters can see them from the lake.

Paulette is supervising the whole hanging operation from the porch and by now it is 5 and time for an afternoon glass of wine. Our dearest friend is fighting a very aggressive cancer and we are praying for God to intervene with a miracle and extend her time with all of us and her dear family. The day was special and full of joy.

Bill emailed and said Paulette asked him to leave the them on all night, in case she wakes up and wants to see them.  We understand that fully. We leave ours on all night and when I get up in the middle of the night, I always peek out the upstairs window.

"The life light blazed out of the darkness and the darkness couldn't put it out." John 1:3 The Message
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14 November, 2009

FAQ - Lighted Christmas Balls

Why are the Lighted Christmas Balls so important to you? It has been a great neighborhood project for Sunset Hills. We know more neighbors than we ever would under 'normal circumstances.'  Lighted Christmas Balls are beautiful (in the dark), they encourage the old, thrill the young, amaze all in between. We have laughed with our neighbors and family and spent hours of enjoyment putting them up, keeping them lit, and eventually taking them down for another season.

What have you enjoyed most as this tradition has continued? We love that they are used in the spirit of increasing fun, joy, hope, beauty, and encouragement. We like to help people make them. We are touched that the regional cancer center in Greensboro sends their cancer patients, who have just recieved chemo, radiation or other therapy, to our neighborhood for an extra dose of hope. Many of the retirement communities in the area drive their little buses through the neighborhood to delight their residents. And finally - people who want to show gratitude to the neighborhood for the lights leave canned food in a trailer in front of our home and other collection points in the neighborhood. Those canned goods are then taken to 2nd Harvest Food Bank and Urban Ministry in Greensboro. Last year we collected close to 2 tons of food thanks to the generosity of those driving through. This year we hope to double that amount.

Do you care that other neighborhoods have also done this? We love that most of all, we would love to see them all over the city, county, state and beyond.

What else is fun about them? The emails and phone calls we receive from as far west as California, as far south as Florida, and as far north as the UP of Michigan. We have put those letters on this blog, look around for them with their photos. This week we received a box from a family in Laurel Mississippi who sent over some equipment and new ideas about getting the balls installed and getting electricity to them. We can't wait to share them with you at this year's workshop.

The photo of Jonathan with the box of goodies from Mississippi is shown above.