Monday, November 26, 2007

one down

I know I'm not alone in thinking that the so-called holiday season is a mish mash of conflicting and overlapping symbols dedicated to the god of excess. When the first faint murmurings of Xmas begin to waft through the airwaves around Labor day, you know we're in trouble. At some point I expect to see Santa toting a pumpkin in his stuffed sack of goodies on his way to Bethlehem and a meeting with the three wise men who are dressed in Pilgrim garb and offering a sweet deal on an Xbox through their website. Somewhere along the way a stuffed turkey will be swaddled in a manger being worshiped by a host of ghouls and goblins while "Come All Ye Faithful" is rapped by carolers dressed in their Halloween costumes. And, of course, the mall will be open at 4 AM on Labor Day for those crazed shoppers who simply have to get started on their shopping for their Easter outfits, the groundhog be damned.

So maybe I exaggerate a bit. But we are being overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of holiday celebrations that run over each other, trampling the meaning and special flavor each of those hoidays used to have. When I was a boy (yeah, here comes the old codger rhapsodizing about the good old days)
Labor day meant the start of school and Autumn leaf raking and the anticipation of Halloween. Thanksgiving wasn't on the horizon until after Halloween had passed. Christmas was a distant dream at that point. Once the Thanksgiving turkey had been carved, then and only then, was it acceptable to start getting out the Christmas decorations and maybe begin humming a few bars of favorite Christmas songs.
Every holiday had its own time and place. There was little confusion about which one was being celebrated at any given time.

My fear is that our children and grandchildren and subsequent generations will lose out on all the fun that each of those holidays brought to the year. None will be special with their own particular flavor when all of them are tossed into the holiday stew we have now. Sometimes the good old days were just that--good.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

can't have too many....

canes that is. So here is another one that I call the Bird Cane.

It is a combination of Maple and Walnut
The handle is bird-shaped, hence the name.

The shaft is a series of stacked pieces of Maple and Walnut offset to create the pattern.

Thisi side of the handle is Walnut.

I think this is my new favorite. At least until I finish the next one.

Friday, November 16, 2007

one more blowjob

Oh, cut it out. Shame on you. You know I mean one more leafblowing job. The two big Maples in the front yard have finally given up the last of their leaves, so I get to use my super duper leafblower one more time. And none too soon either. There is a definite chill in the air announcing the imminent arrival winter and snow on the lawn where the leaves are now.

The other sure sign that winter is approaching is the reflector markers my neighbor, with whom I share a good part of the driveway, has placed along his side of the drive to mark it for the snowplower. I used similar markers last year, but the big bad snowplow abused them like a stepchild, leaving them bent and twisted and unusable this time around. So I got me some heavy duty industrial strength steel posts that will need a really big hammer to pound into the ground. Just let Mr. Snowplower Man hit those one time and see how his truck likes it. They will definately leave a mark. He'll think twice about straying from the driveweay boundaries this year. I feel so empowered.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

coincidence or curse?

It has happened too often for us to ignore. We’d like to think it’s mere coincidence, but there is the fear that some kind of insidious curse is at work.

Mary is a loving, caring, generous, sensitive person who befriends perfect strangers with ease. She is a doting mother and a loyal friend. She is a marvelous teacher who has students from many past years contacting her to thank her for her teaching. She remembers birthdays and anniversaries and loves to send cards and gifts to her close friends and many acquaintances on those occasions. She keeps a dustfree house with shiny windows. When she does laundry it always turns out spotless and smelling fresh and she always folds it and puts it away neatly in the appropriate drawers and closets.
She manages the household finances and never has an overdue bill. And she takes wonderful care of me. In other words, she is as close to perfect as a wife and friend can get.

Accept for one thing—if you cross her or antagonize her in any way or hurt those near and dear to her, you or someone close to you WILL DIE. I don’t mean eventually or in the normal course of events, but soon after your confrontation with her. This has happened at least a half dozen times over the years. Someone will say something to her or scold her children or complain about her dog or give her a hard time at school and shortly thereafter that person or someone close to them will bite the dust.

We have laughed about it and made light of those occasions when it has happened, but it is getting downright spooky. Just last week a neighbor up at the lake cottage, who complained about our dog, suddenly developed liver cancer and was dead within the week. Finis. On another occasion, when our kids were little, another lake neighbor scolded them for paddling their paddle boat too close to the neighbors dock. Several weeks later the guy had a heart attack. Gone. Once she had a lousy relationship with the principal at school and his wife died shortly after one of their disagreements. Pushing up daisies.

There have been several other incidents just like that. I’m thinking maybe I can hire her out as a hitman. Make a few bucks. Take advantage of her obvious talent. Coincidence or curse? All I know is that I intend to stay on her good side.

Friday, November 09, 2007

war of the leaves

The guy who invented the leaf blower should be canonized and proclaimed the Patron Saint of Defoliation. I love my leaf blower. Actually, blowers, since I have two of them, one here at home and another one at the cottage. Leaves are everywhere and a guy has to be prepared to do battle at all times. A couple days ago I went to the cottage to wrest control of the lawn back from the carpet of fallen leaves and had a wonderful time, just me and my blower and the sunshine and cool autumn breeze blowing in the same direction I wanted the leaves to go. I was in heaven. The new patron saint was at my side.

Yesterday I did the same thing here at home, but with an added dimension that only a certified lawn control freak could appreciate. I got out my trusty leafblower and the 200 feet of power cord necessary to reach the far ends of my world and blew those leaves into a manageable area. Then the coup-de-grace--I fired up my super duper overcompensating macho lawn tractor with the 38" ultra mulching blades (yes, blades, plural) and attacked mercilessly that accumulated pile of Fall's Finest. Ground those little suckers into confetti. Mulched those lawn suffocating mothers into smithereens. Carved a swath through that pile like a true lawn warrior. I finished with a grin of satisfaction decorating my windblown face. There's nothing quite as satisfying as beating Mother Nature into submission. My manhood was intact and even somewhat inflated.

Two hours after completing the latest skirmish in the war against Autumn's leafy legions, while enjoying the afterglow of my victory, I made the mistake of looking out the window to once more admire the pristine conditions of my leaf free yard. My manhood was deflated, my sense of accomplishment destroyed. Wiley old Mother N. brought out thhe reinforcements. The battlefield was once again under the control of a new blanket of fallen leaves from the seemingly neverendng supply on the two huge Maple trees in the front yard. I had only won a short term respite in the ongoing War of the Leaves. Mother Nature is one tough old bitch.

The battle continues....

Monday, November 05, 2007


I don’t remember how it got started, but the conversation at one of our get-togethers with friends turned toward a game of secret telling. The point was that each of us should take a turn at revealing a secret about oneself that was previously unknown.

By definition “secret” is something that is intentionally kept hidden and unknown. Why would anyone want to willingly give up a secret that until that moment was deemed too important or sensitive or embarrassing to reveal? Good and trustworthy friends or not, I opted out of the game by saying I have no secrets, that what you see is what you get. Lame, I know, but my secrets are mine to keep and not fodder for the conversational mill.

Equally embarrassing is listening to other’s revelations. I really don’t want to know that you sometimes pee in the shower or that you open a package of cookies and eat them while shopping or that you pick your nose when you think no one is looking. Some secrets are better kept that way, thank you very much. I think that some of the secrets are made up anyway just to get a rise out of the audience. I’m sure that if I revealed that I am actually a cross-dressing CIA assassin with a passion for wearing stiletto heels and fishnet stockings, no one would believe me anyway. So I’m not going to tell you that. Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t. Only I know the secret.

Friday, November 02, 2007

seasons change

In the world beyond my front doorstep, the inhabitants have natural ways of observing the changing seasons. When Winter turns toward Spring there is the undeniable fecundity wafting in on mild warm breezes. Spring becomes Summer with the scorching heat of the noonday sun and the enervating humidity that wraps its damp blanket around the world outside. Summer gives way gradually to the endgame of Autumn with its lowering sun and the bursting colors of the leaves accompanied by the nibble of cooler air anticipating the bite of Winter’s cold. Winter’s peace, after the onslaught of blizzards, is a quietly rejuvenating time of restful hibernation beneath the snowy insulation.

I, however, have no need for such natural indicators of the changing seasons. I need only look toward the front door, the side door, all the windows that look out onto the world, and every available horizontal, and a good many vertical, spaces in this house we inhabit. I am married to a compulsive seasonal decorator. Not a season or holiday is allowed free passage through our world without the appropriate decoration to herald its passing.

I know that the Halloween season is over because there are no ghostly stickons on the windows nor a jack-o-lantern on the porch steps. The lighted pumpkin is gone from the window, the witchy broomstick put away. In their place are turkeys and uncarved pumpkins and brightly colored leaves stuck to the windows. The turkeys are lit with tiny twinkle lights of indeterminate color that strive to be festive. By these harbingers of the season I know that we must be nearing Thanksgiving. I have no need to step outside to experience the weather of the new season.

I have no need for a calendar, since I’ll know that Christmas is imminent by the proliferation of red and green decorations around the house that will bury us in their festive gaiety. And once that season of all seasons is past, there will be a short respite until Valentines Day and Presidents day and Groundhog Day and then the first sign of Spring when Easter hops into the picture.

All these seasonal changes are marked by a prodigious supply of colored twinkle lights used to draw attention to the turkeys and pumpkins and Santas and hearts and bunnies. Twinkle lights are the one common denominator in all her decorating schemes. Mary loves twinkle lights. She has them everywhere. I am convinced that global warming is directly caused by her ever-increasing consumption of energy powering her supply of twinkle lights. She has even informed me that her funeral is to be lit with them, her casket wrapped and swaddled with strings of twinkle lights.

Now I am haunted by the disquieting notion that if the lights ever go out, I won’t know what season it is. If the decorations somehow fail to adorn the windows, porches, and walls I won’t know what to celebrate or whether a gift is appropriate. If an energy crisis dims the lights, I will be left in the dark more ways than one. I might even have to stick my head out the door to test the air outside to give me a hint about what season I am currently celebrating. Unlike the rest of the world outside my door, I rely on her marking the seasons with her lights and wreaths and stickon images to keep me up to date on the seasonal changes occurring. I may need to get out more.