I Got My Wivdom Teef Ow

I didn’t expect hilarity – but I’ll take it!

“Why don’t you get yourself a smoothie on the way home?”

“Bup don tho hab lil sees in em?”

“Get a Mango smoothie.”

I started to chuckle, and the chuckle turned into a laugh, and pretty soon I was guffawing and crying.

Guffawing and crying, with my mouth full of gauze.

Ha! I couldn’t stop imagining it, trying to order at the drive through:

“May I pwease hab a man smooey?”

Drive through guy:

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that, can you say it again?”

“Meem man smooey.”

“Sorry, there must be something wrong with my headset. Once again?”

“I wan a meem man smooey! A smooey! Oo know, wif orange fooot? Fwozen and bwended?”

“A smoothie?”

“Yef, yef, a smooey!”

“OK, what flavor?”

“Oh, Ga! a MAN smooey! Manjoo!”

“Mango?”

“Yef! Yef, Manjoo!”

“What size?”

“Oh, GAAAA! Meem! Meem, pwease!”

“Medium?”

“Yef, yef! Meem! Bup no stwah.”

“You don’t want a straw?”

“Wight. Na pose hab stwah fo two wee.”

“OK, no straw with the smoothie. Anything else?”

“Ife cweam”

“Ice cream?”

“Yef, yef, Ife cweam!”

“Cup or cone?”

“Cuh – wif a poon.”

“What size?”

“Warge.”

By the grace of God, they only have one flavor, so I wouldn’t have to try to say, “vanilla.” But it would have been fun.

“Vaniwa. Wif chawla sauf.”

Etc. I’m crying, here, and I’m not supposed to be. Better go re-stuff my mouf wif gaub.

Now what’s so funny, Sophie cat?

OK, so I’m a little swollen.  It is nowhere near as bad as everyone said it would be. I’ve got the tube socks stuffed with ice tied around my head, the bleeding has stopped (but it will start again if I can’t stop laughing), the clove-tasting things the oral surgeon stuffed in the holes on the bottom seem to be numbing whatever pain there is supposed to be, so, so far so good. Not much pain at all.

Yet.

I suppose I should be a little concerned that, as soon as she pulled the final tooth, the oral surgeon jumped up and ran out of the room.

And puked.

I’ve decided to treat that as hilarious, too.

I mean, I’m sorry she wasn’t feeling well, or is pregnant, or my ancient decayed wisdom teeth were so disgusting they made her hurl, or whatever caused her to puke. At least the bathroom was right in the next room.

And she didn’t puke on me, at least. So there’s that.

I’m not even getting all germ-freak OCD about it.

Because I can’t stop finking bow owdwing a meem manjoo smoowey at the dribe tru.

I’ll keep you pof sed.

Until then, I remain,

Your swollen, gauze-biting, laughing-til-I’m-crying, pudding-eating, smooey-drinking, honest-it-was-only-local-anaesthetic,

Ridiculouswoman

The Heat is On

How much? Oh, my God! THAT much?

No, seriously – the actual heat is back on.

I am pleased to inform you that I will not be sleeping in my Santa hat tonight.

After 5 days of heating water on the stove to wash dishes, carrying “dressing in layers” to ridiculous extremes, and keeping my Santa hat on 24/7 (I did do the kneel-next-to-the-tub-and-use-a-cup-to-pour-water-over-my-head hair wash thing, once – the novelty wears off, fast), we now have heat, glorious heat, and hot water.

Drowning in layers of wool (and it wasn’t even that cold – just one day under 30 – we’re lucky it happened now instead of next week when temperatures are scheduled to plunge) I have been staggering around trying to comprehend, process, cope with and respond to the impact of the cost of the new boiler.

Heat guy who lives pretty close by came Saturday morning.

“Sorry, ma’am, you’re going to need a new boiler.”

“How much?”

OH MY GOD! THAT MUCH?

Here I was, spending money on frivolities like new paint (at least the labor was me) and new carpet (which I’m expecting accommodation about, for the little bulldozer tracks in it that don’t vacuum out) when something as essential as the boiler decides to surrender, lower it’s flag, go kaput.

Turns out that heart-stopping amount was lower than the next guy and the first guy could install by yesterday.

So, you, first guy – your company has been servicing this house since before we moved in, anyway.

Sigh. Sell the mutual fund in the morning.

Miraculously, market rockets up and the value of the fund to be sold is calculated at the end of the day.

So there’s that, anyway. Small buffer.

Begin job search in earnest.

And I love looking for a job.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I wouldn’t say we’re exactly desperate.

Yet.

But I’d better get a move on, here.

A woman’s gotta make a living, until she gets a job that is actually a living.

I’m trying to turn writing into a living (HA!) but that takes time, so since I’m still determined not to allow ads on this blog, because I think they detract from the….well, blogginess of it, I have succumbed to the PayPal “donate” link.

Hence, the new “Donate” page on the menu.

So that explains that.

I will now penalize myself 500 words for the excessive use of italics. So gushy. Damn, there, I did it again.

May you never have to kneel by the tub with a pot of water heated on the stove, may your showers ever be hot and your radiators…uh, radiate.

I did it! Resisted the urge to italicize “radiate!”

Now, if we could just get a grip on those dashes and exclamation points…

Until then, I remain,

Your humble, devoted, loyal, always-willing-to-edit-if-it-makes-it-better-and-especially-shorter,

Ridiculouswoman

Dear Santa:

Please direct your attention to those in greater need….

Look, I know this is absurd, a grown woman writing a letter to Santa.

Absurd.

Ridiculous, even.

But ridiculous is kind of what I do.

And here’s the thing: I believe in you.

When you are in the picture at this time of year, people are more likely to be kind. Caring, giving. Generous, even. (Battle lines at big-box stores excepted, of course).

Magical things happen. They do.

It snows magic Christmas snow when the weather nerds insist none is in the forecast.

Packages and invitations turn up unexpectedly, from friends you didn’t know were thinking of you.

Customer service people actually provide service.

I confess I was going to write a tearjerker of a letter, asking you to send us a new man.

Because we could use some company.

My daughter is feeling our two-of-us-that-used-to-be-three-of-us, hard.

She misses her Dad, a lot.

So do I.

I miss the way he danced (very goofy.) I miss the way he used to peek around the door of her room when we were sitting together at bedtime.

I miss us sitting in companionable silence, each reading our own books, pausing to identify and then listen intently to, whatever selection was playing on our beloved classical music radio station.

So I was going to ask you, Santa, for a little help, finding a new man for us. A little help, here?

But I changed my mind because of a few intervening events that put things in perspective since I started writing this letter:

Sophie cat became “Sophie the Christmas Miracle Cat.”

She had suddenly lost the use of her back leg.

Vet said prognosis dire. Probably blood clot.

Might have to say good-bye.

Oh, shit, at Christmas?

But Sophie the Christmas Miracle Cat, being, shall we say, un-enamored of said vet (who is a really nice lady, but Sophie sees her and thinks, “shot! run!”) managed to drag herself upstairs, do a pull-up with her front claws (and this cat weighs at least 15 pounds) onto my bed, and make herself well.

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Meaning she somehow managed to dissolve the clot, regain use of her left hind leg, and after climbing up and being carried back down twice (for food, and, erm, other necessities) she got down herself the third time, limping a little, but by the next meal was walking along just fine, asking for her next meal, as usual.

Then, just as we were preparing for our annual ladies’ holiday excursion downtown, I happened to go into the basement utility room (OCD, just wanted to check and make sure the previous night’s fireplace ashes hadn’t done something weird and dangerous while encased in masonry behind an iron door in the ash box – you know, the usual, rational concern) I noticed the boiler was leaking. A lot. And not from a pressure release valve – from underneath.

Call heat guy, who luckily lives pretty close by.

Sorry, ma’am, you’re going to need a new boiler.

How much?

THAT much? Oh, my God!

Try to retain calm during ladies’ annual downtown excursion, while also seeking bids from two other heat guys.

Enjoy lovely excursion, including breathtaking, moving and lovely performance of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theater. Wow. Stunning.

But while walking along The Magnificent Mile, between the Disney store and American Girl Place,  among the expensively dressed, happy holiday crowd, we passed many, many homeless people.

Every three feet, there was another person, huddled in filthy blankets, head bowed, cardboard sign propped against their knees, or wheelchair, or walker, plastic cup standing, hoping, for something. Just a little something.

I gave the only dollar I had, because I don’t really carry cash anymore, to a person who was propped up with a walker, legs trembling, speech impaired, seemingly brain-injured and desperate.

And turned to continue our walk past the next homeless person, and the next, and the next.

Overwhelming need, smack in the middle of the swankiest part of town.

I have never been so grateful to come home to an unheated house in my life.

Yesterday, I washed my hair with water heated on the stove, and was warmed by the hair dryer, before we headed off to church.

My dear brother brought over two space heaters.

We attended a last-minute, lovely, holiday party at the home of a family who have been exceptionally kind to us, especially my angelic, autistic daughter, who loves them, as they have come to love her.

I watched her make conversation with other guests without my cueing or help, or presence, really, beaming, like the lovely young adult she is, heart full of joy.

Today I’ll  make our traditional Christmas Eve clam chowder and cornbread, to be consumed after church, and then, we’ll put on our warm jammies, make a fire in the fireplace and we’ll make s’mores.

Camping! Pioneer ladies!

I have no heat and no hot water, Santa, and I won’t until Wednesday, when the first heat guys who came, whose heart-stopping bid was actually substantially lower than the next guy’s, will install a new boiler.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Because today, we have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, two space heaters and enough blankets, hats, sweaters and sweatshirts to get us through to Wednesday.

Three years ago, our first Christmas without Mike, I burned the cranberry sauce for the first time in my life. I’ve been making it since I was twelve. I think that happened because of sadness, distraction and depression.

I burned it again, just now, for only the second time in my life.

Because I was distracted by writing a blog post about gratitude.

I’d call that progress.

So Santa, don’t worry about us  Please direct your attention to those truly in need, and we’ll try to figure out something we can do in our own small way. (But maybe could you save a package of cranberries for us at the local market for when we do our shopping after lessons and carols? They were out by this day last year).

Thanks for listening.

God bless us, every one.

See you next year.

Until then, I remain,

Your grateful, silly, burned-the-cranberries-but-thankfully-not-the-house-because-I-was-distracted-by-gratitude,

Ridiculouswoman

Problem? No, Learning Opportunity!! Or, How Not to Make Christmas Cookies

It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity. Right? Right?

Years ago at work, right after I nearly had to call security, a colleague advised me that she didn’t see such things as problems – rather as learning opportunities.

Oh, well, thanks! Yes, I guess being in fear of your physical safety can be regarded as an opportunity to learn…hmm, let’s see..to get the fuck out of that job as fast as you can?

I had a day full of both learning and opportunities yesterday.

To wit: annual Cookie Press Conflagration.

You’d think after decades of Christmas cookie making I would remember:

  • how to assemble press (nope, three tries)
  • that dough would be way too dense and stiff (even if you follow the recipe, chill, warm up again, etc. – what’s the point of that?)
  • and that lemon juice or almond extract gives much better flavor than plain old vanilla. (Not. Zoned.)

Three ejected tubes of dough and a quarter cup of heavy cream later, a much softer, more pliable dough is loaded into cookie press. Viola! Fat, relatively flavorless but at least decorative cookie lumps vaguely resembling stars, trees, and ornaments.

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Bleh. Regard this an as opportunity to try again Friday, wised-up.

While dough is uselessly chilling, mix up a different batch of dough for peppermint thumbprint cookies that were so delicious last year.

Follow recipe. Dough is really crumbly. I’m supposed to be able to form it into balls, roll in egg white and sugar, dent the middle and put a peppermint kiss in the dent.

Crumbly dough rolled in egg white just sticks to hands. Mess. Manage to roll in sugar and form vaguely round blobs with dent in the middle for peppermint kiss.

Recipe says ungreased cookie sheets, which usually turns into a burned-sugar mess. I know! Parchment paper!

Recipe says cook 10 minutes, tops, don’t overcook.

25 minutes later, they still don’t look done, the peppermint kisses in the thumbprint are browned but not melted (supposed to be the other way around) and several cookies have little puddles of cooked egg white around them. Pull them off the parchment paper and put them directly onto the cookie sheet. Cook five more minutes,

Success! Kisses melt, cookies cook.

Sort of.

Too chewy, underdone, too much flour, not sugary enough.

Dump the whole batch.

An opportunity to do better when I try again on Friday.

At least the new carpet I splurged on has arrived and is being installed! But wait, what’s that? It looks like tread marks, right across the middle of the room, as if someone drove a miniature bulldozer across it.

Oh, that must just be from that loud old vacuum the installers use, right?

Except the tread marks don’t go away when you brush over them with your foot or hand, like they would if they were just marks from the vacuum.

Do you mean to tell me that this carpet, carpet I waited over two months to receive, carpet I splurged on because I thought remaking the bedroom would help me in my grief,  is damaged? Flawed?

I know what this is. I had to wait two months for it so the manufacturer could get enough orders for it to make it worth a run, and they gave me, probably the smallest order, the mangled-remnant-tail-end-of-the-run.

Breathe.

View as an opportunity to get a boatload of my money back, dammit!

And, bonus! The installers, who move the furniture, caused my headboard to fall apart.

Oh, Yay! An opportunity to spend an evening I was going to spend regarding the tree and listening to Christmas music with my daughter rummaging around in the garage to find that little wrench tool that came with the headboard (three tries to find, but at least I had saved it) which is the only tool that will undo the nuts that hold the bolts that hold the headboard to the bed frame, so I can remove it and rebuild it and reattach it, having tightened the cam locks around the screws…oh wait, they LOST one of the cam locks! And one of the wooden pegs that I had the opportunity to add wood glue to, to tighten the damn thing up, also lost.

I had been meaning to tighten everything up. I just thought I’d do it when I had all the parts.

Which I don’t, now. Found the lost wood peg in the wastebasket in my daughter’s room. Cam lock still missing.

Oh Yay! I have the opportunity to go the the hardware store (they are always happy to see me at the hardware store) and try to find a cam lock of the same type and size.

Needle, meet haystack.

Feh.

I thought I’d do the headboard repair on a day when my side wasn’t killing me, because while I was trying, in order to restretch them, to pull on the shrunken leather Ugg boots that my precious daughter innocently put in the washing machine because they had road salt stains on them, shrinking the boots and turning all her other clothes in the load a blueish green (toss) I sat down in a chair, bent over to pull the boot on, and

FOING!

What the hell was that? Something inside on the left went “bloop” and sort of slipped up over my rib! OW! Sit up slowly. Remember this is an old injury from a previous warehouse job. Not as bad as then, I can handle it.

An opportunity to go find that elastic corset-like thing that provides support to the ribs, and BONUS, acts like a waist nipper.

So I might be groaning in pain when I move, but damn, look at those curves, girl!

Lemons, meet lemonade.

Carpet guy who was supposed to call before he came didn’t call, but did show up.

Looked at the carpet.

Agreed with me.

Wait, what?

Where’s the learning opportunity in that?

I learned that sometimes, customer service actually serves. Wow.

We’ll see what happens when the store guy calls to offer solutions. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime,

Wishing you a day of learning actually sought and opportunities happily fulfilled,

I remain,

Your loyal, devoted, actually-looking-forward-to-baking again on Friday,

Ridiculouswoman

One Chord of Joy

Moments of music bring comfort and joy…

Great choral music contains chords I could live on for years. The buildup to them is always great, too, and you can’t really appreciate how wonderful the chords are when they burst forth without hearing what comes before.

I’ve had the opportunity to sing some new music this year, I am so grateful these modern, living composers are writing music with chords to live on – sounds that can cause a broken heart to soar.

(Heads-up: some of these YouTube videos may contain ads, sorry – there doesn’t seem to be any way for me to block them for you, so I wouldn’t click other than on the little “x” to close them, if I were you):

Here’s one the chorus that has graciously accepted me is doing – “A Christmas Blessing,” by Philip Stopford. The video has him conducting, in an Irish Cathedral with a much smaller choir, but you’ll still get it (the echoey-stone-pseudo-medieval church we usually perform in was unavailable, so we performed this time in a modern, brick church building that looked more like a 1970’s school or county office building – very exposed sound, not echoey – but we pulled it off).

Anyway, the big moment comes at about 1:25-1:26 on the word “joy;” there’s another at 2:00 on the word “always.” It is worth listening to the whole thing so you get the context and the run-ups to these moments. “Joy” and “Always” just open like a time-lapse film of a huge flower blooming. Yummy.

Here’s another one, by a composer I hadn’t heard of before, that will just sort of rip your heart out, if the Christmas story means anything to you. Even if doesn’t. It feels like comfort for those who feel broken, or out of place, lost or lonely – listen for “love” at about 1:40. Another good one at about 2:43 and the end is gorgeous, so I hope you listen to the whole thing – it has such a beautiful arc to it:

Another by Will Todd – the punch I get from this is on the word “all” at about 1:28:

Because I’m talking about moments in choral music that just slay me, blow me away, blast my heart open, here’s one from the Brahms Requiem, 6th movement, “Tod, wo ist dein Stachel? Hölle, wo ist dein Sieg?” which means, “Death, where is thy sting? Hell, (or grave) where is thy victory?” Von Karajan takes it much more slowly than I’ve ever heard before, but that gives you a chance to really hear the moment I’m talking about. I tried to excerpt it but it didn’t work, so the section I’m talking about starts at about 5:55 with text that means “death is swallowed up in victory” and the big moment actually comes on the word “wo” at about 7:00:

Again, it is worth listening to the whole thing.

At the time I learned this piece, when I was a college kid, it was the sheer beauty of the music that made me come undone, and I never forgot it.

Now, of course, this section holds special meaning for me. There is something so urgently hopeful about this – the music is so, almost vehement – you can feel Brahms desperately trying to convince himself of the text – trying to hang on to hope in the depth of the sorrow of death and loss that gave birth to the whole piece. Tears every time.

We have the second and final performance of our Christmas concert tonight, so I’m off for some more salt-water gargle and tea with honey, just so I can sing my part on “joy,” “always” and of course,

Love.

Sending love and hope that you find your way to joy that will be with you always,

I remain,

Your tea-swilling, salt-water gargling soprano,

Ridiculouswoman

My Side of the Bed

A bed for one person doesn’t need two sides.

Our little family had symmetry, like the lamp and candles – we were balanced, with me in the middle, constantly pulled in two directions by the competing needs of the two great lights of my life – my husband and our daughter.

Now we are two.

There isn’t really a “middle” with just two.

I feel myself shifting out of that middle-that-is-no-more, drifting over to where he isn’t. As two, we measure the distance between one another, trying to stay close enough, but not so close as to crowd out our separate experiences of grief, and of learning how to carry that grief forward into whatever our lives will be.

Beside each other, with empty space between.

Sophie the cat does her best to fill that space, but still. She thinks she’s a person, and she thinks she’s the most important person here. But she’s a cat.

A cat who still meows loudly when she crosses the rug that was under his hospital bed.

Since late July, we’ve been sitting together in this house, defining our days by how we will spend our time together, what time I’ll drive her to work and what time I’ll pick her up, and what we will eat for dinner at our table for two. But after the holidays, our lives will change. I will have to get a job again, and she will have to re-learn the busses to and from work, the checklists (phone? keys? bus fare?) and maybe get used to a new companion/caregiver.

And get used to a lot more time without me beside her.

That scares her. Of course it does.

I have my annual “body and soul” cold, that turns my first soprano into a tenor, but let’s me sing “Body and Soul” in the right key, way down low – unfortunately, it’s the high notes I need right now. The cold ran its usual course, into my aching joints and down my throat, landing in an annoying, frustrating cough-with-throat-tickle, just as the choral concert is coming – the concert I really want to sing, because the music is so beautiful.

Tea, steam.

It’s helping.

But I still cough, and she says, nervously, “you alright, Mom? Getting back to 100%?”

“I’m fine, sweetheart. Getting better each day.”

Am I?

I bought new mattresses for us both. Bye-bye saggy old mattress with the cozy me-shaped trough in it.

The trough on “my” side of the bed.

Because over all the years we slept separately, I still stayed on “my” side of the bed. Occasionally he’d climb in beside me to spoon, to warm up on a cold winter night.

But not often.

When she was a toddler, as most toddlers do, she would sometimes climb in between us. Then back to her own beddiehouse.

I started on “my” side with the new mattress.

But without really noticing, I’ve drifted – into the middle.

It feels like an acknowledgment that, even though it was pretty much just me anyway all those years, it now definitely will be just me – in the middle of the bed.

A bed for one person doesn’t need two sides.

And she, an adult now, will be in her room down the (short) hall at the other side of our small house. What had been his room on the opposite side of her wall is now her “computer lounge.” He’s not in there to tap on the wall and laugh with her, goofing around like kids until they fell asleep, on either side of that wall.

She put his stocking up on the middle hook in front of the fireplace, but I put it away.  A little one that says “meow” on it, for Sophie the cat, hangs there in the middle now.

I explained that Dad doesn’t need a stocking in heaven, and that I don’t think it is good for us to pretend that he ever could be here with us again. But remember, …

“Dad’s love never ends.”

“That’s rights, sweets. We carry that love with us always, and Dad wants us to move forward and to have the best lives we can, knowing that his love is with us.”

“Dad is free from pain, free from anger, and he wants me to have a happy life.”

“That’s right, sweetheart.”

These conversations often happen during our evening “music time,” when we listen to one Christmas CD she has selected and then turn it off and sit, with the lights off, except for the Christmas tree.

Sitting quietly together in the dim glow of the tree, she in the “Grandpa” chair and me in the “Grandma” rocker, (because they were their chairs), until she needs to say it again.

“When people go to heaven, they can’t come back. Dad’s love never ends. He wants me to have a happy, independent, adult life.”

Yes sweetheart, we’re working on it.

From opposite ends of the hall.

In the middle of our beds.

At our table for two.

Wishing you balance, light and peace,

I remain,

Your faithful, trying-not-to-let-the-space-between-feel-so-empty-or-the-lights-feel-so-dim,

Ridiculouswoman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Three Years Tree

Rule of three tries…

Approach the task with good humor and humility. Presume things will go wrong. Resolve to be patient about it. Presume, but don’t believe, because you got this. Third time’s a charm, Right?

Third time without him, that is.

Set specific time to depart for the local big box hardware store where we always buy the tree. Wear Santa hats.

Strap tree to top of car, rather than stuffing it in the car to provide a year’s worth of needles to vacuum from various crevices for the year.

Get home without tree falling off top of car. Leave tree in cold garage for lunch break.

And now….

Tree stand.

Complimenting yourself for being clever enough to leave the stand on the work shelf in the garage since last year, rather than high and unreachable in the rafters where Mike used to put it, pick up stand.

Discover that unspecified rodent has purloined substantial amounts of insulation (must be from the bathroom in the breezeway that connects to the garage – the one that is now so cold) to construct cozy nest in the tree stand base. Eww.

Don gloves. Remove insulation. Wipe with disinfecting wipes.

Place protective plastic on floor in front of bay window (that Mike meticulously re-puttied when he was so sick, taking breaks to sit down, over three days), for inevitable spillage of water when attempting to nourish tree.

Attach base that looks oddly like a giant cervical cap (ewww) to fresh-cut base of trunk. Place in larger base, that has a foot pedal that is supposed to allow you to waggle the tree around until it is straight, upright and stable, and then lock it there.

Angelic daughter holds tree strait. Perfect! Lock.

Let go.

Tree immediately lists sideways.

Try again.

Tree lists again.

Remove tree with giant cervical cap from larger base.  Notice puddles, resulting from brilliant inspiration to put water in the stand before you put the tree in, on the plastic intended to protect wood floor, running inexorably toward said wood. Dash to kitchen for paper towels.

Angelic daughter decamps to watch TV when Mom’s swearin….erm, expressions of frustration, become a bit overwhelming.

Notice that in your efforts to place and lock tree, plastic has skidded on the floor, shifting tree way off center in front of bay window.

Sigh.

Try again.

Breathe. Employ observation, reason and calculation. Realize giant cervical cap thing needs to be snugger on trunk, and needs to sit lower in base.

Use garden loppers to remove low branches interfering with giant thorn-looking thingees that have to be screwed in tight to tree trunk.

Screw in giant thorn looking thingees.

Sit back in satisfaction. Nice and tight.

Time to try again.

Third time’s a charm, right?

Lift tree with giant cervical cap thing into larger base, and feel the satisfying click as it settles in to the correct spot. Feels stable. Step back to look.

Looks straight.

Praying (because God really cares about whether my Christmas tree is straight and stable, right?), shove foot pedal intended to allow waggling-around into lock position, and stomp down.

Holy crap. Maybe God does care that it is straight!

(No, dumbass, God cares that you get this done so you can calm down and stop swearin…expressing frustration, and move on to the decorating part which allows you to involve angelic daughter, retrieved from her retreat to the TV).

Praying more (hey, it worked), every-so-gently drag plastic back to center tree in front of window.

It worked again.

Lights!

Having been brilliant enough to buy two extra sets of lights last year, in anticipation of the future inevitable malfunction of lights that worked perfectly before, begin stringing lights – smugly, because you checked, to be sure the star that will go on the top gets the female end it needs to plug into.

Carefully distribute two strings of 300 lights in tiers around tree. Pick up third and final string.

Realize that final string will have a female end where it needs to plug into the wall.

Swea…Sigh. Breathe.

I put 600 lights on the tree, backwards. Used the female end that also has a male end at the top instead of the one with just the female end.

Unwrap lights. Rewrap lights. Decide 600 is enough. Last year’s tree, which had 900, was bigger.

Plug in.

Looks good!

Angelic daughter, creeping back in from TV room, proceeds with garlands and chains, and we (ok, I) only break four ornaments in the process of getting them out of their nests in the Christmas boxes and up on the tree.

After placing all her own handmade ornaments and garlands from school years, especially anything that has a picture of her on it, and the one with her Dad’s name on it, daughter decamps to take another break and watch more TV.

Which leaves me to hang the significant ornaments.

Listening to Vince Gill, “Breath of Heaven.” Hold me together.

The one with the little mouse at the front door, welcoming us to our new house nearly 20 years ago. House had LOTS of mice, we discovered.

Sniff.

The one of the little snowman with a shovel, that symbolized that year that Mike shoveled every two hours, seemingly for weeks on end. Big snow that year.

Tears.

I didn’t expect the one that really got me, though – a little bear dressed as Santa.

“Bear” was my pet name for Mike.

More tears.

“Can we have our quiet time now?

Breathe. Dry up.

Of course, sweetheart.

Regard the tree.

Oops, forgot the star.

Managing not to break anything (third time, anyway), clip top of tree with garden loppers. Pop star on top, held by treetop twig through the arms of the star.

Plug in.

Ta-da!

I really should have put that third string of lights on.  The lowest branches have none.

Abandon perfectionist tendencies.  Decide this is good enough.

Because, however imperfect, to me, there really isn’t anything as lovely, peaceful, and comforting as a Christmas tree.

Angelic daughter is tired. Sit with her upstairs until she falls deep asleep.  Return downstairs for more “tree regarding” time.

Play Christmas choral music, volume very low, by some Englishy choir, recorded in an echoey-Englishy-medeival stone cathedral.

Lo, how a rose ere blooming.

Smile.

Wishing you a beautiful tree, or Menorah, or whatever brings you peace and light this time of year, and hoping to get over this cough in time to sing Englishy carols in a big stone church, I remain,

Your tree-regarding, Santa-hat wearing, soon-to-be-cookie-baking,

Ridiculouswoman