Saturday, February 26, 2011

Catching Up! Taking the Christmas Tree Down - At Laaaaasssstttt...

Hola, darlings!

I am having guests for dinner at 4 p.m. and I've spent the morning in a frenzy of house cleaning - and I finally got the Christmas tree down, LOL!  Actually, I started the removal process on Wednesday night after I got home from the office by pulling out all of the boxes from the garage that hold the ornaments and decorations, and I proceeded to undress the tree.  It was rather sad, but a must faster process than decorating is!  Anyway, I got a long way before I called it a night.  I finished up removing the rest of the ornaments last night and put the boxes away until this coming Christmas.

I left the hard part until this morning - actually getting the tree from the front window into the garage.  In prior years I have attempted to tie it up to a more slender profile with string and then lug it, huffing and puffing all the way, across my 19' living room, down the hallway to the dinette, around the corner then across the dinette to the family room, another corner, and then wrestling the tree through the service door into the garage, where I then struggle to replace the stand pieces that always fall off, before I can actually stand the tree up again.  Then there is the complicated process of wrapping the tree in sheets to keep bugs, dust and spiders off.

I said to myself this year, "Self, there must be a better way to do this.  Let us think about this for a bit." 

My solution was to deconstruct the tree into its original three component parts.  Sounded easy enough.  When I first bought it, it came in three parts that went together easily enough.  So, bright and early this morning, I fumbled my way into the center of the three and first disconnected the three power cords that light the tree (it is one of the pre-lit kind).  Then I tugged around near the top of the tree and after some effort, voila!  The top third of the tree came off!  It actually would make a very nice little tree on its own - an idea for next year...  On to the sheet on the floor it went, and I tried to mush the branches down a little, without squishing them too much.  Then, onto the middle section.

The damnable middle section.  It would NOT separate from the bottom part of the tree!  I tugged and tugged, to no avail.  It almost all came out, but there was one section in particular that seemed to be stuck to the lower section.  I looked as best I could while balancing most of the section across my chest (it was HEAVY, let me tell you!) when, lo and behold, I spoted what looked like scotch tape!  Scotch tape?  Then I remembered.  When I put tree together this year there was a droopy branch.  No matter what I did the damn branch drooped and left a big gap between the bottom of the middle part and the top of the bottom part in that particular section of the tree, and no matter how I twisted and turned the branches, a big hole remained - much bigger than could reasonably be filled in with ornaments.  I could have parked a tank in that hole.  My eventual solution was to take a roll of scotch tape to the inner part of the offending branch where I taped it to a perfectly situated lower section branch.  I made a "rope" of scotch tape, in other words, since the string "sling" I made didn't work properly.  The scotch tape rope sling worked just fine!  Oh, and I just realized now, duh!  It was actually a drooping lower section branch that I rope-taped to a perfectly situated upper branch in the middle section.

By now, of course, I'm sweating like a stuck pig despite the 64 degree F temperature I keep my house at in the winter. I run upstairs and exchange my sweatshirt (har!) for a Goddesschess teeshirt that has seen better days.  I go back downstairs, grab scissors out of the junk drawer in the kitchen and attack the scotch tape rope.  Voila!  I can now remove the middle section of the tree!

It nearly knocked me over as I staggered backward toward the fireplace mantle under its weight (revenge???)  That section is the heaviest of the three sections by a long shot, and it was all I could do to wrestle it over to the sheet and thankfully let it drop!  KER-PLUNK.  After catching my breath, I tackled squishing it into a reasonably modest shape and I didn't care how squished the branches got, bugger tree!

Finally, only the bottom of the tree remained, the widest part, plus the collapsing stand that always falls apart at the most inconvenient moment.  I sucked in a large breath and attacked!  Two legs of the stand fell off but that was fine as I could maneuver the section onto the sheet with that part on the floor!  Success!

Well, sort of.  I had two legs on the tree stand that refused to come off.  Finally I got a hammer and attacked.  At last, they came off.  I sure hope I haven't damaged them beyond repair...  At any rate, now I had all three sections, plus the deconstructed stand on the sheet.  All I had to do was wrap it up, tie it up and drag it out to the garage.  So I thought.

Bwwwwwwwaaaaaahhhhhhhh!  I heard the Fates Evilly Laugh at me as I struggled, in vain.  The sheet was large enough to wrap around the three parts of the tree, but I lacked the rope I discovered I would have to use in order to close up the thing properly.  I briefly considered and then discarded the idea of trying to use scotch tape.  My plastic kitchen string was not up to the task - plus I would have needed an extra pair of hands in any event, which I could not manage to grow.  Damn.  Time to re-think...

After considering the problem for awhile I said to HELL WITH YOU, TREE, and grabbed two ends of the sheet and tied them together as tightly as I could.  I then grabbed the other two ends of the sheet and, tugging and pulling as hard as I could, I tied them together, too.  I then used safety pins to close up the gap in the middle.

I grabbed the "bows" at either end of the three and, to my surprise, although it was heavy I was able to actually lift the pack off the floor, flew into the dinette through the hall without banging any part of the tree into the walls (me, yeah, I banged into the walls but the tree was safe, that was the main thing), made the turn without scraping any paint off the walls or bending any branches, made it to the family room and made the turn toward the service door (I had shrewdly moved the wing chair out of the way and lifted up the area rug beforehand and opened the service door, plus cleared a path through the clutter in the garage to the target area)---success was nearly in sight!  And then -

TA DA!  I made it!  With the brilliant pre-planning for which I am justly famed (ahem), I had positioned a large box against the north wall of the garage and the sheeted three-parted tree went into it!  With some tugging and pulling I eventually got the thing to balance, leaning against the wall rather than into the garage space, threatening to tip over at any second.

I am certain that with practice, I will get much better at this.

I am sorry to see the tree go.  The living room looks very BARE now, devoid of all its holiday glitter and clutter. No more cards taped and dangling down across the top of the fireplace mantle; no more family favorite decorations scattered about the room.  This year I consolidated storage of the ornaments into what I thought was fewer boxes, but actually turned out to be more.  How could that possibly be?  Well, whatever.  The boxes are now stacked full up to the hanging rod of the closet in the guest bedroom, but there is still plent of room in the closet. 

The living room has been more or less cleaned, and I actually vacuumed AND dusted. All of the ornaments had been lovingly dusted before being wrapped in tissue and boxed.  There is now nothing left to remind me of a lovely holiday and play-off and Championship and Super Bowl season -- the tree was left up as long as the Packers were advancing through the rounds toward the Super Bowl.  Yeah, I know, silly superstition...

One of these years, I really ought to remove the lights that are draped around the round top window in my living room.  I framed and draped them up around the outer-most casing of the window with push-in pins in - 2005, maybe?  And they've been up ever since.  I've never taken them down. Well, I'd need a ladder to do it and I sure as hell don't feel like dragging the thing out of the basement, which is its lastest storage place. That window is probably 20 feet high. I remember how I teetered-and-tottered on the top rung (GULP!) a good six feet off the floor (DOUBLE GULP!) with my fear of heights kicking in (TRIPLE GULP!) as I methodically first pushed in the pins around the outer casing of the window, and then draped the extra-long string of lights. The thing is, the lights can't really be seen from the outside of the house (other than as a vague whitish glow in the vicinity of the window), so on occasion I plug them in and enjoy the white lights outlining the huge window, which frames a rather nice view of the trees and my neighbors' yards across the street, while from the outside it does not look like I've got Christmas lights on :)  I can actually do a smidgeon of "Christmas in July."  I can't quite see Russia from that window but I do see Moonrise coming up over Lake Michigan 6 or so miles to the east...  It is so beautiful. 

Now I've got to run - still much to do.

At least the tree is down for another year!

1 comment:

John Webb said...

OT, for foxophiles.

You must have seen the front cover story in March issue of National Geographic.

The search for the perfect pet - foxes.

The article describes a genetic breeding program in the Soviet Union to selectively breed foxes for human friendliness.

This is what it's about:

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