First of all, let’s just clear the air. Yes, it’s January 17th. Yes, I’m just taking down my Christmas tree today. The only thing I can say in my defense is that it was a week into February before I took my last Christmas tree down. Improvement!

As a child, I only remember my family putting up an artificial Christmas tree. I am not sure if we ever had a real tree. If so, it must have been before I had a working memory. The arrangement was simple: Dad pulled the tree out of the attic. Dad assembled it. Dad fluffed the fake limbs. Dad put the lights on the tree. Then Dad got a mug of eggnog and watched while Mom, Sis, and I put the decorations on. For a long time, we had a hodgepodge of ornaments (homemade, handed down, gifted, etc…) and garland. We each had our special ornaments we liked to put on the tree. As we got older and Mom’s (at best, just a hyperbole for the sake of my story and at worst, pretty mild) OCD kicked in, she switched it up on us and bought all new ornaments in white, gold, and silver. It would take a whole post to get into her request that we all now wrap our gifts in those same colors so they look pretty under the tree. That aside, we maintained the artificial Christmas tree tradition.

As an adult living in my own home, I’ve put up a Christmas tree exactly three times. Considering I’ve been out of my parents house for almost ten years, this is not a very impressive number. The first two times, I had real trees. They were lovely. The one I put up two years ago was crooked for the majority of the holidays, but that didn’t bother me. When I finally took it down (in February), it made a mess of dead needles, but I just hauled that sucker right out to the street and the garbage guys picked it up the next day. End of story.

This year, my parents donated their old artificial tree to me. I was so excited! And I do appreciate it. It’s a pretty tree and a breeze to put together. My Fella and I had it up and decorated in a matter of a couple of hours, and that’s with him skipping a few steps and moving straight on to the eggnog/watching part after the tree was standing.

Here’s the thing though, and one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to get it taken down this year. The floored storage area in my attic is about the size of an open pizza box, and it previously held my small collection of ornaments that, this morning, still hung in the tree. I do not have a home for this tree. I considered leaving it up year round and being one of those people who decorate a tree for every major holiday (and, now that I think about it, my Christmas ornaments lend themselves well to a Mardi Gras theme, I should have just left it up and saved myself some trouble…), but the idea of a Halloween tree made me feel like an old, lonely cat lady already. My other options included:

  • Forgetting it was artificial and leaving it on the street for the garbage guys/people who love to shop from the things I leave on the street — I’m not kidding…
  • Hiding the separate pieces of the tree in each of my closets…
  • Storing it in the trunk of my car…
  • Or finding a weather proof container to store it in my garage instead of the canvas bag it came to me in.

Luckily, I had an extremely large container that I figured would do the trick out in my garage already, so when I got all set to start the project at hand this afternoon, I went outside to gather it.

Side story: It is seriously VERY cold outside today. I think my reaction to the cold had something to do with the fact that it’s been 70 degrees out for weeks, winter be damned. But the weather shifted and darn if it wasn’t SNOWING when I went out to the garage in a tank top and flip flops. I retrieved the giant plastic tub, plus two slightly less giant tubs to store my ornaments in, thinking I might could use the attic space for something else if all the Christmas stuff made it to the garage. Only problem, they were disgusting. I mean, GROSS. Covered in dirt, spider webs, spider remains, spider EGG SACS (you know how I feel about spiders from the previous post), and other assorted bits of detritus. I hauled them over to my covered patio, praying that I would be able to both endure the cold and the threat of a spider attack. Those tubs were NOT going inside my home in that condition. So I went inside and dressed slightly more appropriately and set to work cleaning the darn things, basically out in the snow. It took awhile and my hands were numb for some time afterward, but with the three tubs clean and inside my house, I was ready to start work on the tree itself.

The next hour was a breeze. I packed up ornaments like a pro. I wound up lights. I smushed the branches and limbs into a more compact creature. The top piece is tiny, no problem. In the giant tub. The middle piece had me a little worried, it was rather massive, but I decided not to worry and instead plow forward. When I saw the length of the bottom piece, I knew my tub was not even CLOSE to being giant enough. FINE. Fine fine fine… I decided it would just have to go back in the canvas bag and into the attic, hanging over the edges as it might end up, and the ornaments could be out in the garage instead.

Only, these pieces are a little awkward to mess with, and shoving them inside a bag is not as easy as it may sound. I knew something was wrong after I put in the first piece. The zipper made a weird noise. But I ignored it. I got the whole tree inside that bag and went to zip it in and, as I’d feared, the zipper was entirely non-functional. Not stuck, but the bits of zipper both above and below the pull were wide the eff open. I know of no way to remedy this issue. And let me tell you, that bag is not going into my attic without being hermetically sealed or I’m not touching it next year.

So I sat down to ponder my options, and I’ll tell you, I was cussing. Not a happy LizHarrell. Here is what I came up with:

  • Give it back to my parents…
  • Put it on the street for some other lucky owner/garbage man…
  • Plant it in my yard and hope no one notices…
  • Toss it in the garage and let the spiders do as they please…
  • Write a blog post about it and wait for my Fella to come and fix it for me.

Best idea I’ve had all day.

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You may recall from a previous post that I have a ridiculously enormous dead tree in my front yard. Up to now, it’s been mainly an eyesore and a bit of a nuisance when little limbs fall into the yard and have to be hauled to the street. In my open letter to the Huge Dead Tree, I made some requests and did a little pleading. Maybe a tiny threat. It turns out my requests weren’t specific enough. I should have said, “Huge Dead Tree, you are welcome to drop limbs. Small limbs, no longer than I am tall, and weighing significantly less. Also, if you must drop a giant limb that weighs as much as and is probably as tall as most normal trees, I have a very specific arm in mind. One that will land in the middle of my front yard and cause a big mess, but nothing more than an irritation and further eyesoreness. Also, I probably should have specifically requested that the Dead Tree not damage any of our property, including (but not limited to) anything that would require an electrician to fix.

We all know my threats to cut down the tree were basically idle, until such point as my disposable income was enough to cover the cost and leave us enough to buy a new transmission (because that will inevitably happen, even though the transmissions in both cars are no more than a year old each), which would probably have been close to never. So I genuinely hope the Dead Tree wasn’t retaliating to my threats by doing what it did.

Naughty, naughty Dead Tree lost about six hundred pounds yesterday by dropping its most gigantic arm right onto the power line connecting my house to the pole. This caused the cables to yank out of their normal positions and some regularly straight piping to bend into an L.

Obviously, this killed the power to my house. Unfortunately, it also killed power to the rest of the neighborhood. I felt bad enough having a dead tree for everyone to look at, now my dead tree has caused hours of powerlessness for them as well.

The power company took down the line and restored everyone else’s power and told me, as kindly as he could, that I was going to have to hire an electrician to fix the pipe and cables attached to the house before my power could be reconnected. Also, it would have to be inspected to make sure it was up to code. It was immediately clear this was going to be an extensive and expensive project. Potentially more expensive than if we’d just cut down Dead Tree a long time ago. The only problem is, we didn’t have the money before, and we barely have it now, so basically, this tree limb fell at the earliest possible time we could have spent any money to cut the whole thing down. Thanks for that kick in the shins, Dead Tree.

I must shout out to newly named and high-spirited Friend-With-The-Worst-Wireless-Password-In-The-World (or FWTWWPITW). Just Kidding! We’ll call her Sassy Friend. Sassy Friend saved me last night by agreeing to let me sleep over, for which I will be eternally grateful. Almost as important to me as having air conditioning was having a wireless connection, which she also generously provided.

Now I just have to learn to deal with the fabulous subset of blue-collar workers known as electricians. So far only one I’ve talked with has had a basic understanding of the English Language and a pretty decent estimate but neglected to call me to let me know something else came up and he couldn’t come to the house before next week when he’d told me this morning he’d be out at the house first thing. Good thing I called him when I did to find out that he wasn’t coming so I could secure someone else to do the job…putting it four more hours behind schedule. I was trying to be funny in this post but I think it’s probably coming through that I’ve about had it up to my frontal lobe with this entire situation and would like to get my hands around the neck of any electrician I can find. Or else just cry.

Freakin’ tree…

This has been a week of perpetual annoyance for me. My cell phone (and at least 1/4 of my life) went MIA on Sunday and didn’t turn up again until Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon, my internet (and the other 3/4 of my life) went out. It’s not scheduled to be back in action until Monday morning. This lapse in internet service springs from a miscommunication between my husband (who pays the bills) and AT&T… It seems Hubby thought AT&T was taking payments directly from our checking account. AT&T thought we were negligent flunkies with no intention of ever paying them for the services they provided. AT&T obviously has the power in this situation, so they shut off our internet connection, disabled our DSL and canceled our phone line (which technically wasn’t a real phone line, it was just used for the DSL connection). Actually, we called and paid the difference as soon as we discovered our error before any of the disabling and disconnecting ever happened. But AT&T decided it would be cool to shut everything off anyway, and then take four days to reconnect it. And Dad, no, they’ve not reported this to the credit bureau or whatever. We asked.

And now I’m sitting in a coffee shop writing this post for my adoring readers so they won’t think I’ve fallen off the face of the planet. I’ve got a few errands to run this afternoon but may pop back into the coffee shop this evening to schedule a few more posts to keep you guys happy.

And I’ll leave you with one final annoyance: there is a fly in this coffee shop that is making me want to become a homicidal maniac. Toodles!

(PS – this blog spellchecker doesn’t recognize the word blog, nor the word internet. Seriously.)