18 December 2011

And So It Goes

by Jan Grape

Okay we're only one week from Christmas, December 25th. What's happening at your house?  Things are fairly calm at my place with only my alien and I and Nick & Nora, my two cats.

I put up a tree...well, I call it a tree and it honestly is one. It's made of tomato plant wire and lights. You've seen those surely? It was what I used outside my RV because there really wasn't enough room for a tree inside.  The new house has plenty of room and even a lovely bay window where a tree would sit in splendor but have you priced Christmas trees lately? And the thing is, the day after the 25th the prices will be reasonable. So this year, I'm making do.

I also couldn't find my box of "grape" decorations. They were stored at a friend's house or my sister's house or someplace and I still have not located them so I'll need to buy decorations. Same thing as the tree, after the 25th everything will be marked down about eighty per cent. And my final reason for not putting up a traditional tree, with only Cason and I here for the holiday, there won't be many presents and if there were presents under the tree, the cats would probably tear, scratch, play with and generally wreck havoc.

So we have the little light tree in the bay window and from the street it looks just like a regular tree. I put some lights on the wooden railing and hand rails on the front and side porches. Which brings me to another unusual event. When I plugged in a string of lights in the kitchen, all the lights lit up and looked just fine.  Ten minutes later when I plugged them in out on the porch (and the extension is fed through the front window) only half the string lit up.  Mind you it's just one string. Brand new mini lights, 100 lights long and only half of them now light up. That half blinks and looks really cool, but the other half of the lights just sit there. This is NOT two strings plugged into each other, it's all one string of 100 lights.  I have no idea what's going on there.

I did find my purple "chili pepper" lights that we used to attach to our RV awning when I unpaked boxes after the move. Two strings. I attached them to each wooden hand rail along the steps and both strings lit up and look awesome. All of them work.  All bulbs burn on each string. Then I went out to the side porch which also has stairs and a wooden handrail. I found a string of lights I had used on my RV handrail last year. Now this is two strings of lights plugged together. I tested them inside and all the lights worked, no problem. Ten minutes later, I plugged them into the outdoor electric socket. Guess what?  One string lights up and one does not.

Okay, I admit that I have the mechanical aptitude of a horned toad but good grief, even I know to check each little bulb and be sure it's tight in each little socket.  There's even a little statement on the front of the box that says if one bulb burns our the rest stay lit. NOT. They all worked in the kitchen electrical outlet. What changed in that ten minutes? Heaven only knows, but I sure don't. And it happened to two different set-ups. That's what really confuses me.  The 100 string lights on the front porch are brand new. The two stringer set up on the side porch are from last year. BUT they ALL worked at first. So we have a few outside lights and some non-lit bulbs. You can't tell from the street, it just looks like I only half decorated. Like maybe I'll buy more lights tomorrow. NOT.

BUT we do have stockings hung by the chimney with care. Problem is they won't stay hung.  The fireplace mantle is limestone rock so I can't attach them with thumb tacks or push pins.  I used Scotch tape.  That worked fine for about a week and then the stocking with my name on it fell off. Scared Nora half to death when in fell just as she walked by. She's a bit of a scaredy cat anyway. Next I used that wonderful gray duck tape that holds everything together. That worked for two days and the stocking with my name fell off again. The two little stockings with Nick's & Nora's names on them fell off. At the moment all the stockings are laying on the hearth. I have yet to figure out what I'll do next.  Maybe just wait until Christmas Eve, hang with the duck tape and hope the stockings stay up until Santa slides down the chimney and fills them.

In the meantime, I went to a Christmas party today and two people asked at different times as I milled around, if I was working on a new book. I shook my head sadly and said, "not right now. Not until after January first." Both looked as if they understood.

And so it goes....
Merry and Happy Everyone.


  1. Jan, the lights are not all supposed to go on. Cursing at them is a deeply ingrained and widespread American Xmas tradition.

  2. Jan, when I am confronted by similar circumstances I find it best to have a glass of holiday cheer and meditate on the problem. After a while, and perhaps a glass or two more, I generally find the issue diminishes in importance and can safely be laid aside. Your philosphy of waiting until after Christmas to resolve some of the problems you mention is a sound one.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  3. and a merry Christmas to you, Jan

  4. Jan, I hope the holidays are great for you, Alien, and Cats! Of course, my mom won't be home, but she's all excited (as we all are) because my younger son who teaches in Japan will arrive in SC tomorrow. I think I'm going to follow David's suggestion in honor of all the SleuthSayers tonight!

  5. Awwwww! Merry Christmas! (My tree is two feet tall, fake and has the lights on it all year, I carry it upstairs from the storeroom in early Dec.)

  6. Hey, Jan! I really enjoyed this.

    When I lived in North Carolina, they sold a thing in local shops that looked like a set of hooks attached to a flat, heavy iron weight. It was made just for this purpose; you could put it on the mantel and hang things off it. I can't find anything like that in Scottsdale, where I live, but maybe they've got one in a shop near you.



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