Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Dispatches from the Lucky Land of Lassen

by Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff Publisher and Editor

Thanksgiving has yet to arrive, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at the SusanvilleStuff office!

Each year, for the last twenty years, Marshel and I have found ourselves with lots of elf work to do as we prepare for a busy season at SusanvilleStuff, which means the holidays start a little early. So, cue the festive music and cookies – here at our office, the holidays have begun!

There are twinkly lights, green and red objects everywhere, miniature snowmen and snowwomen of assorted sizes – and Mrs. Couso’s extensive collection of Christmas paraphernalia is only just beginning to arrive from storage.

See, the thing is, every November and December we have this huge pile of Christmas-related work that must be done, on top of our normal stuff. For the next month, our calendars are full of parades and events to cover, contests and places we have to be. We start working on projects like our Holiday Light Gallery, our Christmas Greetings, the Holiday Event Calendar and other fun holiday goodness at the beginning of November each year.

It wouldn’t be much fun working on all of that Christmas stuff without some holiday cheer in the office so, out come the decorations, just a little earlier than most folks, to get us in the holiday mood while we do our end-of-the-year work.

We normally listen to music in the office around the clock and on November 15th each year we switch over to Christmas music.

You know, now that I think about it, this is a pretty awesome place to work.

Last year’s SusanvilleStuff Christmas Card

Our Christmas Card

This weekend is also the deadline for me to design our annual SusanvilleStuff Christmas Card. This is one of my favorite projects of the entire year!

I always hand craft our cards and some years they are really good, and then other years they aren’t. Usually that inconsistency comes down to me running out of time or ideas. This year I have an awesome idea! And, I think, I have the time. So, it might be a good year for the card. We’ll see.

Last year’s card began with the great gingerbread house debacle. Have you heard the tale?

Somewhere before Thanksgiving last year I had an idea for the card. An awful idea. An awfully good idea!

My plan was to make a three-foot-tall gingerbread replica of our house on Roop Street and then photograph it with a macro lens for the front of our Christmas card.

Imagine how awesome that would look – this richly detailed gingerbread version of the house all decorated and fun. Internally lit, of course, with a thousand twinkly lights like that Star Destroyer model they used in Empire Strikes Back.

Mrs. Couso rolls out the gingerbread

So, I set out to build my Craftsman California Bungalow gingerbread house for the Christmas card.

First, whatever question you need to ask about this method of construction, the answer is… gingerbread doesn’t work that way. Nope. You might think it should be able to, but gingerbread does what gingerbread wants to do. A tasty, molasses-based mind of its own.

Plan two (only about a week behind at this point) was to use foam core board panels and simply cut out the pieces to construct the house, then frost it and put the candy on like you would normally. I also started installing the tiny miniature lights in this step.

Such precision! Such ingenuity! How could this not work?

So far, this project had taken far more time than I had expected. Not only was I way over my deadline for the card, and a bunch of other holiday tasks, but sitting in the middle of the kitchen table was this humungous, scale-model, faux gingerbread version of our house, while poor Marshel tried to decorate the real house for Christmas. I found myself more than once, sitting in the dark at the table in the middle of the night, hot gluing on parts.

I kept building layer upon layer, hoping that at some point it would kind of resemble something like a gingerbread version of our house. I mean I could always Photoshop it right?

I think in the end I finally got it looking like something out of a Tim Burton or Henry Selick stop motion movie. It was, um, unique. Kind of pretty when the lights were on.

But alas… as with all failed projects, there came time to put it on the shelf and move on. I still remember, as the gently falling snow started at the beginning of last year’s big December storm, packing my ‘almost finished’ gingerbread house into a giant cardboard box, which Marshel whisked off to storage.

Honestly, I don’t even remember what last year’s card ended up looking like.

An almost finished masterpiece!

I still stand by my concept though. It would have been awesome. I better get to work on this year’s card.

Questions and answers
Last week here in Dispatches I mentioned the City municipal code that details how campaign signs within the city limits must be taken down within ten days of the election, and a few people asked me if I knew the rules out in the county. So, for all of you who live in the wild and wooly western frontier that fills up the other 4,712 square miles of Lassen County, here is the applicable code:

18.106.040 General provisions for signs.
Political campaign signs or posters may be allowed in any district and shall conform with the size standards of this title and shall be located in a manner that will not block sight distance or impair traffic safety. A certificate of conditional use shall not be required for political campaign signs or posters. Such signs shall be removed immediately following the termination of time intended therefor.

So I guess the answer is, for the county, take them down as soon as the election is over? I think that is what, “immediately following the termination of time intended therefor,” means. Hopefully, someone smarter than I will offer up their legal opinion.

From the December 9th, 1981 Lassen County Times

The Nutcracker
I have this vivid memory from Christmas 1981. Our family traveled to San Francisco during the holiday season, I think Dad was there for some sort of State Board of Education convention thingy, and the last day of the convention we had to race back home to Susanville so that we could get my sister to the college to see the Nutcracker.

Back then it was the Santa Clara Ballet company that would travel up here to perform the holiday dance extravaganza at the college gym each year and then, just as it is now, the performance was a mandatory part of the holiday experience for a lot of local families.

I can remember piles of luggage and stuff hastily unloaded from the car into the house so that Dad and Sarah could race off and make it to the college for the Nutcracker by 7:00p.m.

You can have that kind of memory also! 40 years later we still have an absolutely fantastic Nutcracker performance each year thanks to Susanville Best of Broadway and the Reno Dance Company. Shows are this weekend and the vets hall is a great place to see a show.
Here is a link to our SusanvilleStuff story with more information about tickets.

Hey kids, it will be Thanksgiving before we get around to another edition of Dispatches so I want to say Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours, and we’ll meet up again next week when the holiday season really gets underway.

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso Publisher/Editor
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