Saturday, December 31, 2011

What if.....?

Have you ever looked back and thought, "What if I only made a different choice, acted differently, did something to prevent what I knew might grow into something other than that which is desired?" Maybe it was this year, maybe it was last year.....or maybe further back. This question is what haunts me daily.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Amost The End

The end of 2011. So, we all look back and try to figure what was so great or so terrible during the last twelve months. Was it 365 days of putting up with shear terror? Or was it blissful joy? I am not really sure which it is. We want to think that it was a pretty good year.  After all there are still a few bucks in the checking account, the bills are paid....well mostly and debt (of stuff) has begun to be reduced.  Not by much, but some headway was made. Of course the list of "to-dos" around the house really didn't get accomplished this year because there wasn't any extra money for them. They will just get bumped to 2012.

Our health? Well I started running again...a little, got a treadmill for my birthday so that helped held a few dirty clothes too. That helped. Wife is a running fool. She has more perseverance than myself I guess.  More energy than I do as well. Blood Sugar started out this year way out of control.  Doctor sent me to the endocrinologist for supervision.  New insulin, new meds and a few months and my numbers are near perfect.  Weight hasn't reduced like they promised, but that figures. Emotions are still up and down. Topsy turvy. Ok, maybe they are still all over the place. We will see how they turn out in 2012.

House repairs? Well you saw up above so no money for major saw up above that I didn't have any energy either so small tasks were accomplished either. Yard work slipped a bit this year. Plants suffered. Wasn't all that important. Yeah, not many water leaks this year. Heat didn't work all that well in the winter, AC didn't work all that well in the summer....figures. Hot water tank started leaking a few weeks ago....we see about fixing it in 2012.

Vacations? None really of consequence to remember.  One to Texas to pick up Christian. One to a campground over long weekend.  Rained most all of it and we were stuck in the cabin....thank goodness we rented a cabin.....maybe we will take a trip in 2012.

Family? Well lots happened in that category. Another son got married. A third son went to Bolivia.....and lets just say things were a bit out of control with our daughter. Left by ourselves we were empty nestors....that was odd. We were pretty lonesome actually.  Are things better now? Well.....I guess we will see how things turn out in 2012.

Our dog? Well we never really planned on getting another pet after Orion died. But, as circumstances happen we ended up getting Mavrick. I should write a whole blog on that pup. Lets say he has made us laugh all the time......and made us mad all the time too......because he eats everything...sunglasses, reading glasses, tissues, paper towels, chap stick, cell phone cases, head phones, nick knacks and everything else you can imagine. Is he calming down now that he isn't a puppy anymore? We will see in 2012......probably not.

Life? In general, I don't know.  I guess like everything else somethings were good in 2011 and others were bad. So on an average everything was just so so.......So there you go. 2011 in a nutshell. This year was just there...nothing tragic and nothing excellent either.  Just neutral. Bible says that anything luke warm should be spewed out of your mouth. I had a professor in college, Sasha, who once gave a critique to another student.  He said (with a heavy Russian accent, while looking at the student's project), "This isn't bad. This isn't good either. This really isn't anything."

Sorry, nothing motivational here today. Feeling a bit blah at that moment. But that is Life right? Moments all strung together in highs and lows that eventually connect together to form an average of a bearable existence that we can endure. Too much high is bad, too much low is worse. The average is what we are......wonder what the average will be in 2012

See you on the other side my friends.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

BAD GUYS of Christmas

Have you ever noticed that in every movie or story there is always something about a bad guy, villain, evil dastardly individual etc that is trying to ruin Christmas?  Why is that? Why are all these guys trying to destroy our favorite holiday? You we have enough stuff in our lives that seem to drag us down and here we go with the criminal minds adding to it.  Why is it that some curmudgeonly, cold-hearted scoundrel always has a leading role in the best Christmas movies — even the ones crafted for children? Do we really require some naughty with our nice? This is just our nature....good versus bad.  We cannot help ourselves but to create conflict, overcome evil, save the day.  What makes a great super hero? A super villain! I have added a few to this list and lets see if you can remember many of these stories have you watched this Christmas?!!!!

Burgermeister Meisterburger
This grumpy Gus made his appearance in the animated classic "Santa Clause is Coming to Town". As part of Santa's supposed origins, the Burgermeister was the mayor of the small mountain village where Kris Kringle first passed out his toys.  When the Burgermeister tripped on an errant toy duck he banned ALL toys! By making Kris an outlaw he forced Santa to go down chimneys to deliver his toys under cover of darkness.....Now you know who that all started.  (Hey fellow cartoon lovers...doesn't the burgermeister's voice sound like Boris Badenov?)

Heat & Snow Miser Duo
The terrible two introduced in "The Year Without Santa" brings us the two nasty brothers by the name of Heat Miser and Snow Miser. The Misers were the epitome of sibling rivalry (we all know about those right?) and it was only through the intervention of their Mother Nature that Santa was able to get back to business.....(and you thought you had drama in your family) I love these cartoons!

The Martians
Really?! did they get involved in Santa.....Lets through all the fables into the blender and see what comes out. I just saw this a few weeks ago and my wife thought I was off my rocker.  "What are you watching?" A serious low budget...extra extra low budget and say I shall saw.....really bad! "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians". Again...Really?!

Old Man Potter
Of course....the best holiday movie tradition in our family is "It's A Wonderful Life".  I already wrote about it here. He was the meanest old man...and richest in Bedford Falls and made George Bailey's life miserable. Potter goes down as the quinessential Christmas villain because there was no redemption for him. Wanna stump your friends? What was Potter's first name? Henry....or how about Bert and Ernie? The cop and cab driver became the names in our favorite afternoon show Sesame Street!

Jack Frost
He is all over the place in different shows from movies to cartoons.  There are even horror movies with a Jack Frost in it. He is always causing trouble, more like mischief so I wont really put him in as a "villain". He was always freezing everyone.  I like the claymation one best....but "Santa Clause 3" is pretty funny as well. Who doesn't like claymation?

The Gremlins
What a warped little Christmas Story. Don't shine a Bright light on them, don't get them wet and whatever you do....DON'T FEED THEM AFTER MIDNIGHT. Those three simple rules to follow of course are broken in this wacky one of a kind Christmas present disaster. The Gremlins go huge and we all know who Gizmo is....right?

Hans Gruber
Who? What? How is this a Christmas story? " Die Hard". Remember, he counts as a Christmas villain because Hans and his crew picked an office party to raid. Unfortunately, for all of them, John McClane was on the guest list. Bruce Willis made the famous words, Merry Christmas...&%#*!@. Yeah, that one. For the scene when Hans was supposed to take a death tumble from the tower, Alan Rickman (the actor) was actually dropped 21 feet to an airbag. To get the right reaction, he was let go on the count of "2" instead of "3".  The look on his face is priceless!

Harry and Marv
I hate this movie. Dumb and Dumber meets Santa. I cannot image that a mom would forget her child at home...come on really? And the bungling villains are just plain ridiculous. The kid actor I have never really liked because he acted like a spoiled brat.....maybe he mom really wanted to leave him behind? All in all the simple story about a little boy accidentally left behind "Home Alone" for the holidays while two inept burglars attempt to rob the house....they fail.

The Grinch
What else is there to say? He a mean one...Mr Grinch...and yet the funniest cartoon combination for a villain of Christmas.  I love the old cartoon movie (really just a short clip) because of the narrator's voice, famed horror actor Boris Karloff. Dr. Suess first brought the Grinch to life in his 1957 book, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". At first Theodor Geisel objected to Boris because he thought his voice might scare the kids too much.  Thankfully, he was over ruled and a classic Christmas villain was brought to life.

This has to be the longest and oldest running Christmas story around....well certainly the scroogiest around. The oldest version is still the best....a bit freaky actually....Think about it...three ghosts visit you over one night......and I thought I had weird dreams! If there has to be a number one Christmas Bad guy well it has to be Ebenezer Scrooge. The "Christmas Carol" scrooge archtype essentially what every other Christmas villain strives to become......BAH HUMBUG!

So don't be a bad man this Christmas.....get rid of your scroogieness....don't be a Grinch. Have some holiday cheer and eat some cookies by the fireplace and wash it down with eggnog...or milk......Just don't eat it after MIDNIGHT! And remember, It's a Wonderful Life George Bailey! Have a Merry Christmas my friends......tell me, how do each of the bad guys get defeated!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Tree.....finale

OK, so how did it all end? Well you will have to read the first two parts of this adventure to understand how we got here. begins the story of picking and cutting down the tree. shares the adventure of us actually getting the MONSTER tree inside the house and setting it up. So now, the rest of the story.

The Christmas was a huge success and as always we had lots of fun watching the kids open their presents.  Over the years we have created numerous holiday traditions for our family that began in that little school house. It is amazing to look back and realize that was SO many years ago. Where did the time go? Where did our little babies go?  All grown up now....that is what happens.  We have pictures but it doesn't seem like there were many.  My kids have asked that I continue to post some of their photos, so in the future I will have to write about those adventures as well......there have always been adventures....there undoubtedly will always be.  That is a good thing.

One of the things we have always tried to do pretty quick after Christmas was to begin the clean up process.  You know! Putting all the decorations away and getting life back to the normalcy of ...well ...I guess the daily grind.  Why did we always do that? I am not sure.....wouldn't it be great for the Christmas spirit to last just a bit longer?  Apparently not! My wife has been the scrooge of Christmas all of these don't take that wrong.  She loves Christmas, and loves watching the kids and loves everything about it. However, she is a bit of a slave driver from time to time. You see, when it is over.....its lingering, no procrastinating, not dilly dally around...MOVE IT MOVE IT MOVE IT! (This could be one of my favorite traits about her...otherwise I might sit around and do nothing) Yes, she is the taskmaster! But that is okay.....Christmas is over so.....NEXT!

Next, was always getting the house back to normal before life started back.....meaning New Years Day....all over. THAT became our next family tradition. Packing it all away.  Back then we didn't have as many ornaments or decorations or stars or lights or much else for that matter.....but this year we had the TREE to end all trees! And what happens to most LIVE trees after they have been in your house for a while? That's right....THEY GET DEAD! and drop all their needles. We could have created a small mulch bed underneath this tree. By this time, you just look at the tree wrong and needles would fall off.  I was just imagining how much of a struggle it would be to get it back out of the door again and what a mess we were going to create.

And then it HIT ME.....I had a brilliant idea of how to get the tree out neat and clean. (okay so I thought it was a bright idea at the time) If you look in the corner of the house, we had a wood burning stove....yep you got it.  I was going to cut up the tree in small bits and burn up! This was going to be awesome.

A few pointers one should realize about this process: (that now is engraved in to my head)
  1. Wood burning stoves are small...means you have to cut everything up pretty small to get it in the door.
  2. PINE is not a great thing to burn in a stove....yes it burns quickly, but apparently the sap is a very bad mess and requires flue cleaning.....not just chimney cleaning in our case.
  3. Needles still fall on the floor as you are hacking at the tree.
  4. A 13 foot tall tree produces a lot of branches....therefore a lot of fire wood...therefore a lot of heat.
  5. It is best, that the day you pick to burn your Christmas tree doesn't happen to turn out to be the hottest day of the winter....yep, I think it was up to the low 70s in Pennsylvania that day....OUTSIDE.
So, branch after branch I cut (dismember: my kids thought it was sacriligious o be cutting the was like killing Santa or something and they thought I HAD to be doing something illegal) and place the branches (the body parts) in the stove.....and hotter and hotter it got in that house.  I kid you not, it had to be nearly 100 degrees inside that day. Blazing hot sauna type of heat!  We had always put a small black kettle on the top of the stove with water and potpourri in it.  It was great, created beautiful smells while the fire was burning.....however today.....that pot was boiling over......seriously BOILING OVER.  It was a rolling boil on the top of the wood burning stove.  We could have cooked a soup on top of the fireplace!

Little by little the tree disappeared.  Remember I had tied it to the top? Well, it is pretty funny looking to have a tree (near naked except for the top 6 feet that I couldn't reach except with a ladder) swinging....yes swinging from its tether at the ceiling. All done....the rest of the day we went outside to play ...... And cool off! Truthfully, I didnt finish cutting the tree up.  I was too tired and too sweaty to deal with it anymore.  After all I had made a huge HOT mess regardless.  I took the rest of the tree and threw it down in the woods (like a dead body being hidden and never discovered by the authorities) and called it a day.

Memories my friends...make them and never forget them. They are the special moments in our lives.
(The names and places in this story have been changed to protect the innocent....are you kidding? Nope it was me guilty as charged! Merry Christmas my friends.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey!"

It has been a holiday tradition around our household to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart every season.  I have always watched it since I was a kid, I had to introduce it to my wife only a few years ago. (She never watched any of the 'great' movies growing up!) The kids would never watch it because it fell into that category of B&W shows so therefore it must be old and therefore must be boring and therefore "we ain't watching it dad!" Finally I turned them to the light. I believe they think it is a favorite now too.

Last night my wife, daughter and I went to a school musical based on the movie.  It was pretty fun and absolutely different perspective of the story.  We enjoyed it immensely. However, last night I started thinking about the story (probably more of the movie than the play) and how we all have a bit of George Bailey in us.  Well at least I certainly do.....maybe a bit too much. Don't we all sort of wonder what our life would be like if we made different decisions? Not so much if we were never born, but even that is intriguing to know if we really made a difference in anyone's life. It certainly makes you think that you need to do more.  Okay maybe not so much like, prevent the druggist from poisoning someone or saving your younger brother from drowning in a frozen pond.  But I do think we wonder what sort of an impact we DO make. 

We would all like to think that we have made an impact otherwise what is it all worth? Certainly if we got the opportunity to see how things 'could have been', without us, like George Bailey, things are pretty much POTTERSTOWN. "Each man's life touches so many others."
A line from the movie.....has our's touched others? And how so?
I can identify with George Bailey for the shear fact that he came from a small town.  Yes I did get away from that small town. And no it didn't have a mean ogre like Old Man Potter.  There wasn't a Mr. Gower at the pharmacy but we visited the Boulevard Pharmacy across the street from my father's office getting a soda or candy bar (Payday) from time to time. My dad did have a small business and no I didn't take over the family business like my father might have wanted.  Though if I did take it over I probably would have been just as equally dissatisfied with my career as George was at the Building and Loan. My father did pass away when I was just a young man and the doors did close. I often wonder what would have become of it had my choices in life been different. Would I still be there?  My father's business was about as far away from my dreams as was George's and his father's.  My father was an accountant and Peter Bailey was in the lending institute.

My dreams weren't too far off from George's.  He wanted to become an explorer and builder of many great things, bridges, towers, skyscrapers.  I always dreamed of being a great architect.  I wanted to create the great iconic buildings of the future. Nothing really held me back like George did, there wasn't a depression or war or anything that preventing me from going to school.  Yes, I did go to college to become that architect and was awarded one of the highest honors a graduating student could receive from Oklahoma State University, the William Caudill Traveling Scholarship. Several national and international awards for my designs were also received. That award allowed me to travel around the world, or at least throughout Europe, just like George Bailey always wanted to do.

From there, like many of us, we wonder what our lives would have or could have been like. Marriage, jobs, moving away to the east coast. Starting a family has a huge impact of my dreams. So what would it have been like if I didn't get married, I didn't take that first job in Pennsylvania and I didn't have any kids.  I am pretty sure that all those choices I made also made the person I am today.  Without those selections in life, life wouldn't be, nor possibly would I even be asking myself the question, "What if...?"

I guess I can even compare the small business of Ionic DeZign Studios to the Bailey Building and Loan. It isn't my father's business but rather my own creation.  Founded on the thoughts and principals I have gathered (from the decisions and choices I have made along the way).  It is a small business.  We don't get the opportunity to do high rises or community structures, just smaller buildings for clients that have always seemed very appreciative. We never have big budgets nor big profits.  It is always a struggle to 'make things meet'. A small staff slave away at the office with me creating the work that we produce.  A family that I have always loved dearly. George Bailey was always envious of Sam Wainwright and all that he had.  I too am envious of the BIG firms with the beautiful offices and custom designed decor that flaunts their talents. Sometimes embarrassed by the bare entity that we call our office.  Always the dream of a new exciting home, yet seemingly far from our grasps financially.

And yes, George moved into the old Granville House, that drafty old run down building he and Mary called home.  Yes, we moved into a foreclosed upon house that we pretty much feel is the same drafty shack that the Bailey's had.  But we do call it home and there are many memories here. I don't see that changing. Funny, Mary put up posters of all the places George wanted to visit......I have posters of all the places that I did get to visit.

So what is worse, never getting the chance to go do all the things one dreams of and never getting to see if those dreams can be fulfilled or getting the opportunity and failing at all those HUGE dreams.  Again, just like the movie, it goes back to you perspective of things.  It takes a Clarenence Oddbody to have you clearly understand and see that perspective. Yes, my business is small but it is mine and I enjoy the people we work with.  Is is hard and difficult at times? Very much so, but the rewards have been bountiful so far. I look forward to what the future will bring.  There was even a time recently when I wondered if my family would be better off without me.  A thought that many probably had during this recession. My insurance policy made me worth more dead than I was worth alive. (or so I thought at the time) Yes, we drive old clunkers right now, that will change I am sure.  Yes, we live in an old house.....and yes the repairs are never ending, but that is the place where our children grew up and and where we call home.  Many fond memories. I feel like the richest man in Bedford Falls by the shear fact that I have the most wonderful loving wife and some of the greatest children a father could ever have. Beyond that what else could a man really ask for?  At the end of the day, we take the two dollars that are remaining, and put them away and pray that they make like rabbits.

Life is a neverending challenge.  It changes all the time. We must all remember that Life is Living, it is an action not an observationLife isn't a destination, it is the journey to that destination.  My friends, always remember the wonderful life that you have and hug the person next to you.  Have a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winter Holiday Trivia

Confection Affection

In 1847, a process was developed to allow confectioners to mold chocolate into shapes, paving the way for candy bars and chocolate Santas. In the 1920s, the first chocolate gelt was made, allowing Jewish families to use candy in lieu of actual coins for the custom of giving money to their children during Hanukkah. Today, the winter holidays rank third, behind Halloween and Easter, in terms of U.S. candy sales, and National Confectioners Association reports that approximately 150 million chocolate Santas will be made for the season.

Getting Hooked

While the candy cane is a seasonal staple in the U.S. today—1.8 billion canes in traditional peppermint, super sour, and tropical fruit flavors were made for the holidays this year—it has a storied past. The first canes were created in 1670 by a German choirmaster, who gave out all-white sugar sticks—bent like the shape of a shepherd's staff—to keep children in his congregation occupied between hymns. In the U.S., the treat began as a straight, white stick of sugar until the turn of the century. The jury's out on who exactly brought the stripes and shape to America.

Big Spenders

American consumers took advantage of Black Friday sales, spending a record-high $52 billion this year, with the average shopper shelling out around $400 over the course of the weekend. The National Retail Association predicts that the total holiday spending this year will reach approximately $465.6 billion and, to accommodate all the extra shoppers between Thanksgiving and Christmas, retailers expect to hire roughly 490,000 seasonal employees.

Tree Truths

Between January and September 2011, $79.7 million worth of artificial Christmas trees were imported from China to the United States. However, real trees still outsell artificial trees 3-to-1. To accommodate the demand, Christmas tree farms in North America planted an estimated 40 million new seedlings in the winter and spring of this year to replace harvested trees and meet future needs.

Spruced-Up Spruce

In 1931, construction workers raised a 20-foot tree on the muddy site that would become Rockefeller Center. They had no idea that, 70 years later, tens of thousands of people would crowd the sidewalks for the ceremonial lighting of this year's 74-foot Norway Spruce, which features 30,000 bulbs attached to 5 miles of wiring. The glitzy star atop this year's tree weighs a whopping 500 pounds and is adorned with 25,000 Swarovski crystals.

Toy Story

Run by U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Toys for Tots began in 1947, when 5,000 toys were collected outside Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles and given to local children. Since the nonprofit's launch, more than 500 million holiday gifts have been donated and distributed to underprivileged kids throughout the country. Last year's campaign collected a record 16.7 million toys for almost 7.2 million children. Let's try to beat it this year!

Gingerbread Giants

The largest gingerbread house in the U.S. was fittingly constructed inside the largest mall in the U.S. when a 67-foot-tall gingerbread abode was built inside Minnesota's Mall of America in 2006. The house, which took nine days to construct, could have fit the country's largest gingerbread man, also made in 2006, who stood over 20 feet high and weighed over 1,308 pounds. In 2009, a potentially record-breaking gingerbread man was created in Madison, Wis., but Guinness World Records has yet to officially recognize the achievement.

Trash Talkin'

The U.S. produces an estimated 1 million tons of additional waste per week between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. This includes 38,000 miles of decorative ribbon, enough to tie a bow around the entire globe. If each family in the U.S. sent just one less holiday card, then the nation would save 150,000 cubic feet of paper, enough to fill 25,000 wheelbarrows.

Yuletide Tunes

According to American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, between 2000 and 2010, the most-performed holiday song was "Winter Wonderland," which was written in 1934. While recordings by The Andrews Sisters and Perry Cuomo popularized the song in the '40s, versions by Eurythmics, Jewel and Air Supply are frequently heard on radio today.

Having A Ball

When fireworks were banned in 1907—just three years after the first New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square—officials lowered a ball from a flagpole to signal the end of one year and the start of another. The new tradition wasn't out of the blue, though: For decades, residents of various U.S. cities synchronized their watches using a giant globe that would descend from a pole in a public space. In 1907, the New Year's orb was composed of iron and wood and weighed 700 pounds. Today's ball contains 32,256 LED lights and 2,668 crystals, tipping the scale at 11,875 pounds.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Managing Stress When You Have Diabetes

Reposted from an article I found.

Getting used to life with a chronic condition can be hard. You might find yourself feeling angry, sad, or even afraid. Rest assured, these feelings are normal. But excess stress or sadness can actually affect your blood sugar. Learn to watch for signs of these feelings. And know that you can get help.

Talking with Your Healthcare Team

Learning to control blood sugar can sometimes be frustrating. You may have questions or fears about how diabetes may change your life. Your healthcare team is there to help you and answer questions. They can show you how to follow your meal plan, be more active, and check your blood sugar. Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare team for help.

Asking Others for Help

You don’t have to deal with diabetes alone. Support from family, friends, or a diabetes support group can help you take better care of yourself. Ask others to:
  • Listen to your feelings. This will help you work through fear or anger.
  • Eat the same meals you eat. Your meal plan will be healthy for family and friends, too.
  • Exercise with you. Exercise is good for everyone. It strengthens the heart and helps relieve stress.
  • Go with you to visit your healthcare team. This will help your loved ones learn what you need to do.

Taking Time to Relax

Learning to relax and doing things you enjoy may reduce stress. Staying active also helps.

Ways to Relax

To relax your muscles and calm your mind:
  • Sit or lie back in a chair. Take a slow, deep breath. Hold it for 5 counts. Then breathe out slowly through the mouth. Keep doing this until you feel relaxed.
  • As you breathe deeply, tense and then relax the muscles in your body. Start with your feet and work up your body to your neck and face.
  • Picture yourself in a peaceful place, such as the beach. Feel the warm sand. Hear the waves. Smell the ocean. Doing this will help you feel more relaxed.

Activities That Can Help

Focus your mind on things you like. This may include:
  • Enjoying a hobby
  • Meditating or praying
  • Taking a walk with a friend
  • Exercising
  • Taking care of pets
  • Keeping a journal
  • Joining a social club or group
  • Learning yoga or tai chi
  • Spending time with people you care about

Recognize Depression

Many people feel sad or down when they first hear that they have diabetes. But frequent feelings of helplessness or hopelessness are symptoms of depression. Although depression is a serious problem, it can be treated. If you are having trouble sleeping or eating, or if you feel overwhelmed, contact your healthcare provider. Don’t wait! Get the support you need to feel good about managing diabetes.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Christmas Tree.....continued

Okay, so if you haven't read it yet, you need to go back and read the first part of this little adventure. That will give you the background of how in the world we got to this point.....actually I am still not sure even to this day! So we survived the journey of cutting down the tree, loading it onto the car.....correction into the car, and the kids didn't fall out of the back of the wagon while we were driving home.  So far a successful adventure...Let me stress the word ADVENTURE.

Once we got home we basically dumped it on the front lawn. I realized I wasn't going to get it in the door that night for several reasons.
  • 1st: It was a bit longer than expected (duh).
  • 2nd: It had begin to get really cold and was misting outside.
  • 3rd: It was also pitch dark.
  • 4th: I was exhausted from the adventure so far.
  • 5th: I had to figure out how in the world I was going to actually set this monster up!
  • The 6th and probably the most challenging effort was going to be the actual method of getting the tree in the house.
Our house wasn't like any other ordinary house. (Of course not! Have I ever done anything that was ever ORDINARY? No....Wait maybe the word ordinary should be substituted with easy or sane or maybe realistic or even humanly acceptable.  Yes, I seemed to also do the....let's be nice to me today and say IMAGINATIVE.) Our house was a beautiful 150 year old one room brick school house. Now, you might say one room means ONLY one room.  No, originally the school house had an entry hall in front where you can enter into from the front door. Once you walk in the front door the hall was only five feet deep where you had to turn either left or right.  When the school was functioning, I am told that the boys went left and the girls went right.  At the end of the hall, just after the doors leading into the classroom, on both sides were closets that were only about six feet tall (remember the ceilings were 13') so we used the top of the closets for additional storage.  The closets were accessed from inside the classroom, not the hall. Once you got inside the house, the owner had added a few walls to create a small bedroom, bathroom and divided kitchen. The walls were only about 8' tall and the bathroom had a "lid" on it while the kitchen and bedroom were open above to the main part of the house. Yes, it was also an adventure living there.  My wife and I slept in the "bunk" above the bathroom that was accessed from a ladder in the bedroom while the kids shared the bedroom.

Ok, back to the story at hand now that you understand what predicament I was in.  I got a friend from church to help measure and cut off about 5 foot on the tree.  (And yes, I did cut off the BOTTOM despite what some of you might think of me as being a bit "challenged" at times.) Now to get it in the house. We had to get the 13' tall tree into the front hall, turn quickly (again because the hall was only 5' wide) and then stand it upright in the hall (again because the hall wasn't long enough due to the closets at the end of each hall), and then close the front door, back up, lower the tree and make the next turn.  Yes a lot of needles feel off and yes we had to really tug and pull and slightly bend the giant tree to make each turn.  Did it!

Now the tree was in the house and we needed to stand it up.......hum?  How do we do that? We tried a giant homemade 2x4 base as a tree stand.....didn't work.  My wife was afraid the kids would bump into the tree and then TIMBER! it would fall down and crush all that remained in it's path of trajectory.  Good point.  Okay, so the ceiling plaster was removed during the renovation and the large wood ceiling joists were exposed and perfect for attaching a nail and then securing the top of the tree with rope.  Perfect! The tree was straight and no worries.....humm. There was a few times that the tree actually did SWING from the rope when the kids bumped into it but it didn't fall.

Decorations were another adventure.....we didn't have nearly enough for this behemoth.  I honestly cannot remember what we did to help fill it up.  I know we didn't enough money to go BUY any additional ones.  Well we needed to make a star.  We had just begun this tradition of making a new star each year.  We most certainly needed one here and one that was equal in size to the tree.....of course....proportions mattered...they always mattered.  Another little detail that we (or I) overlooked before beginning this so called ADVENTURE.

We made the star out of newspaper and glue and then painted it bright yellow.  When it was done it sort of looked like a Dr. Seuss starfish sort of thing.  But it was awesome!

So that was the story.....the last bit of this adventure will be continued when I share how we got the tree down and out of the house! Yes.....yet another memorable moment!  Enjoy your tree this year my friends and never forget the adventures you have on your journey of life.

(I will keep looking for better photos of this adventure)

Friday, December 9, 2011


An architect is said to be a person who knows a very little about a great deal and keeps knowing less and less about more and more until he knows practically nothing about everything, whereas on the other hand, an engineer is a person who knows a great deal about very little and who goes along knowing more and more about less and less until finally they know practically everything about nothing.

A contractor starts out knowing practically everything about everything, but ends up knowing nothing about anything, due to their association with the before mentioned architects and engineers.