Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Umbrella and Other Holiday Craziness

With company coming to stay a week, off and on, Christmas dinner and other meals to plan and prepare, a house to put to rights, I naturally went to work stringing Christmas lights everywhere. With Christmas decorations to look at, who would notice the messy house?

I pulled out all the light strings from the attic boxes where they have been stored for years... I have not felt motivated to decorate for the holidays for some time. Testing all the strings, I found more than I expected to be in working order. I strung lights on the spruce tree outside the front door, on all the plants in the greenhouse/jungleroom, up and down the hall and in every bedroom, up the stairs, over windows... and still I had a netting of colored lights to go somewhere, but where? I needed something lit up in the back yard that could be seen from the kitchen window. But the linden tree is way too big, the Japanese maple way too small, and the apple tree too spindly.

Johnny suggested the round patio table from Dad's place that has been sitting next to the shop ever since we brought it from Dad's after his passing two and a half years ago. I didn't think a lit up table would be very impressive. Mom and Dad had a big umbrella that fit down through a hole in the table and into a hole in their patio. We had picnics under that umbrella at their house.... such fond memories.

The umbrella! Where was it?

We both remembered we had put it, for safe keeping, in the rafters of the horse barn. I hiked out there and pulled it down, bouncing it on the floor as I did. Out poured about a thousand flies that had been happily asleep for the winter in the warm folds of the umbrella. And one bat. All hit the floor. The bat seemed stunned, but alive. I smashed the flies and left the bat to recover on its own. (It did and later flew off.)

Back I trudged to the table by the shop. "Where is the extension pole?" Johnny asked. I didn't know we needed one and I was tired of trekking to the barn, so he went and came back with the pole. We set up the umbrella and table, threw the light netting over it, plugged it in, dragged a bench nearby and posed my stuffed snowman on the bench. I took a photo and called the decorating over. Time to actually get ready for Christmas and for company. Nothing like a rapidly approaching deadline to get me moving fast.

Christmas morning, the umbrella and table were tipped over on the ground, with a large chunk pulled out of the fringe of the umbrella. The table was too close to the llama pen. We righted the table and umbrella and moved them onto the concrete pad in front of the shop, safely out of reach of curious llamas. After company arrived, grandson Kestrel agreed to pose on the bench with the snowman. Then Grandpa Johnny joined them.

But a few hours later, the whole mess was on its side again. Without the pole safely in a hole, the umbrella and table were top heavy.

As it happens, we have a hole in the concrete pad, created when we poured the pad many years ago to hold a tether ball pole. Tether ball and pole are long gone but the hole remains. We reconstructed the umbrella and table and bench and snowman with the pole in the tether ball hole. Success at last.

But by this time, the much-rained-on snowman was torn and tattered. Johnny wrapped his legs in strapping tape and I put a pair of Johnny's shorts on him.

Meanwhile, back in the house where I was supposed to be preparing Christmas dinner, the kitchen sink and bathroom tub drain were plugged. Johnny worked with a long snake without success, then squirted hot water down to hopefully dissolve whatever was plugging up the works. I really needed a shower. We really needed to wash dishes. Eventually, Kestrel's dad Steve working a plunger in the bathtub managed to free up the drain. Hooray!

Dinner was served; hostess was showered; dishes were washed. What would the holidays be without a little chaos?

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