Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Holiday Abominations

When should you take down holiday decorations? Personally, I hate taking down our tree. I like to have a little bit of the outdoors inside for a while, even if it is an already dead tree. I asked Mark when I had to take it down and since he knows my tendency to refuse, he replied "Well, I guess I don't want to still see it in February..." So I have some time left. Part of the problem is that our city will no longer pick up and recycle the trees. This is a problem for someone with a tiny little Honda. Getting the tree to the recycling center is a huge logistical problem. If you knew us at all, you'd understand why tying anything to the roof of one of our cars is just asking for trouble. A few years ago, we were subletting a condo from someone, and we took care of the problem by leaving the tree in the garage until it was crispy. When we had to move out the following May, it was still there so we took a hack saw to it and disposed of the pieces in garbage bags. I now have some idea of how murderers end up with body parts in black plastic bags. Sometimes it really is the only way to deal with things. Last year was no different. The tree made the short trip to the garage, where we saw it every day, reminding us to please put it out of its misery. When we had to move last August, it was there waiting for us. The new folks were already moving in as we were getting the last of our stuff out, and there it was, a symbol of our shame, in the garage. In a panic, and without a saw or a garbage bag, I called my inlaws to come over with their truck and take it away. I think they're still laughing at us. I can promise to be better this year, but I really think we need to be realistic. That tree will undoubtedly haunt us for months. We don't even have a garage anymore. Maybe it would enjoy the deck.

There are always people like my mother-in-law who goes to great lengths to make her home a winter wonderland and it's worth every second to see it. She does a beautiful job and could easily leave everything up for an extra week or so, but she takes it all down and bundles everything up to the attic by the end of the following weekend. The other side of the holiday coin would be the woman who runs the local Doll Hospital. There isn't a holiday that goes by that she isn't massively decorated and apparently her true holiday of choice is Christmas. You can't possibly miss the yard lit up like a landing strip, illuminating the nine, yes nine, inflatable Christmas Atrocities. There is a snowman, a tin soldier, a Chritmas tree, Rudolph helping Santa out of a chimney, Rudolph and Santa standing next to something that looks like a pile of presents, Santa on his own, Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger wearing Santa hats, Rudolph and Santa on an ATV (apparently the sleigh was out of service), and a rotating carousel that is supposed to look like a snow globe. To say nothing of the red and white lighted candy canes circling the house and lining the driveway and blinking lights that would do a convenience store justice on every available space. What would you like to bet that these are the decorations we're still driving by in February?


kate said...

"holiday abomination" - sounds like something i should be when i grow up!

why isn't there a tree fairy? like the tooth fairy... takes your tree and leaves you money whilst you slumber. we need to seriously rethink some of this holiday tradition. i detest taking the tree down.

Heather said...

Hi Kate! I hope your holidays were good! Is your tree still up? Mine is.

Alex said something the other day about things you and I had in common, and he mentioned that we both "perpetuate" crafts. While I don't think I like the tone or implications of the word perpetuate, it made me curious. What kinds of things do you do?

kate said...

hmm... perpetuate crafts. perhaps that means "stubbornly make things other people just buy from target"? i knit some, felt my knitting to hide its flaws, string beads a bit, cook a lot (unfortunately, if it has lots of heavy cream and butter, i'm good at making it), sew (mostly halloween costumes), refinish furniture (w/little skill and lots of sailor-mouth), i'm trying my hand at turning old denim and calico into a funky quilt, i'm picking my crewel and embroidery work back up (just got some great used books the other night - now if i didn't have this darn job that takes up what could be productive creative time...). i'd love to learn how to do canvas floor cloths, braided rugs, cane chairs and reupholster furniture. i tried pottery, but despite my heartfelt notion that earthy materials and i were one... i sucked at it. so for "earthy" i garden instead. i also think stacking wood is a craft in and of itself. our family is split down the middle - bark side up or bark side down?

i got the impression from the way my folks raised me that the more i knew how things were made, the greater the chances that i would be able to continue my way of life if our consumer culture crumbled, and america was bereft (heavy sarcasm here)of walmart and i'm building my stockpile of books so that if our country implodes, i have enough to read when we're all forced to go rural and sustainable. i sound like a new generation hippie - i suppose i am if i got a yogurt maker for christmas. but i still love target and action movies and cool shoes. and most of my crafting is purely selfish. i keep lots of it. either because it's just not good enough to give away, or because it actually looks the way i wanted it to and out of sheer suprise, i can't part w/ it. i'm not particularly skilled at any specific thing (except maybe making dessert), but i always *think* i could be, and that's half the fun. i think really i have craft attention deficit disorder. when forced to go to a yarn or craft store my husband (who is an artist) says "have you touched *everything* yet, are you ready to go?". that probably sums up my craft perpetuating the best.

you? other people feed my overactive sense of "can do". ;)thanks for asking and merry 2007!

Heather said...

Well, I like your ideas about the word perpetuating better than mine. Maybe I should cut him some slack and give him the benefit of the doubt more often. Nah.

I'm kind of a fair weather crafter. I tend to leap into new projects with optimistic abandon only to find myself frustrated or bored. So, there isn't much I haven't tried, but I rarely stick with most things.

The thing that has been the longest lived is the knitting. It's probably been five years since I started that. I've actually made a couple of sweaters and vests that turned out to be wearable. Mostly anyway. I just recently figured out how to knit socks without a pattern, and this was a major revelation. I don't follow instructions well, so being able to sort of wing it with something appeals to me. Plus, they're small and that means I can stuff one in my pocket and always have a project on hand for waiting in lines or sitting at work with nothing to do. I like the fact that it's something I can do while sitting on the couch watching a movie.

My other current craft is kind of mixed media collage, if you want to give it a fancy name. It really involves lots of things my husband assumes is trash and lots of glue. I have a bit of a paper fetish, which explains a good deal about me. I think in the end it's really just an excuse for me to continue finding little interesting bits to hide away for later use on a “project.” At least this is how I rationalize things when I buy yet another old musty magazine from 1942, or a postcard that I can't leave behind of an old motel in Pennsylvania that doesn't exist anymore. I can't pass up photographs of people or scrapbooks if I find them in antique stores or junk sales. It makes me sad to think that these were people and things that were important to someone once. I have to take them all home so they will still be loved and not be forgotten or mistreated. So, then I have to make up stories about who these people are, because someone always wants to know “who's the funny looking guy in that thing on your wall?”

Cooking is one of my favorite things to do. My husband seems to think I'm pretty successful, but I've seen him eat things I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole, so I don't know how reliable he is. I've had a little training, but it's mostly trial and error. I have more cookbooks than I will ever use, but I love them all anyway. Right now I'm trying to find someone local to sell me some raw milk so I can try to make my own cheese. I love gardening even though I don't have much dirt to speak of. We rent the top two floors of an old house, but we do have a great deck, and I'm already planning where all the boxes and pots will go, and bargaining with Mark over how much space I can use. He thinks we should be able to sit out there too.

Let's see, what else? Well, in no particular order, and with varying degrees of success – quilting, stained glass, jewelry, painting, needlepoint, crochet, photography, making doll house furniture, scrapbooking, wood carving, flower arranging, cake decorating, weaving, sewing, and just about every sub-category imaginable that involves paper and glue.

Don't even get me started on books. We have a sickness in our house regarding books. I like to say that we've never met a book we didn't buy. I don't choose to think of it as mindless spending, it's just our way of showing the terrorists that they haven't won.

kate said...

ooh... i love little bits o' paper. i used to make my own mixed tape liners w/ magazine pics and interesting paper. and i'm glad *someone* takes those poor photographs home because it just breaks my heart to think that bit of history was misplaced, or that there is just no one left who cares. your collages sound neat.

i have decided to be a chicken about knitting socks, so in my world, you are fearless. i do hear they are addictive. i made one sweater. it was a brown monstrosity. didn't check gauge. whoops-lesson learned.

and stained glass! something on my list. a grade school teacher showed me how to do it at one point, and i've never forgotten how neat i thought it was. i've done etched glass and that was fun. my friend's mum used to take gravestone rubbings and use them as patterns for her etched glass - they had the neatest windows in that house.

learning to crochet made me cry. so did learning to do my own taxes, and tying shoes. i can do the latter two now, maybe i should try again.

the littleness of doll furniture is so fascinating to me - did you ever read "the borrowers" series? tried doll making recently, but hit a how-to block and had to put it down for a bit.

you do neat stuff! crafty people are some of the neatest i've met. because of alex's creativity i can say i helped build a sunken pirate ship in his backyard for halloween. i love crafty people enable/justify each other's habits.

cookbooks. are dangerous. they call to me. the used bookstore is full of them. they have bright colors. cool fonts. yumm. the women who wrote the food column for the local paper for years admitted to having hundreds. and immediately i felt better about my "a few more than slightly too many".

looking at how long my "comments" are - if you'd prefer not to fill your blog w/ me-ness, (it is YOUR blog), alex has my email. and oh, he's probably already sorry he facilitated this... ;)

Alex said...

Actually I meant to write that you both "perpetrate" crafts- I want no ambiquity.

Alex said...

In all seriousness, though, this was a fun exchange to read- so I hope you too won't take ALL of it into private email.


Alex said...

Oh! ONE last thing...Kate made comment about the Pirate Ship, but didn't mention the Amazing Dragon she and Steve made in 2004.

It is at the end of the "Flash Movie" I had to build for my class website. The "movie" is not so good, it was my first effort...

...but there are some great pics of the dragon near the end.

Heather said...

Hi Kate,
I just wanted to let you know that I got your email from Alex, and set you a quick message today. The subject line reads Hello from New Hampshire, in case it ends up in your junk mail. Talk to you soon!

kate said...

aww, alex thinks our perpetual perpetrating is fun to read about. that's nice. since he's a perpetual perpetrator too... showing up at the first halloween party ever as a russian accented frankenschtein. which was a big hit, and scored him extra eyeballs in his punch. or did he get punched in the eyeball? it's all so blurry now) another alex-made favorite of mine is his birdhouse that looks like his peoplehouse. i like it so much, i'd ask for one, but the distinctive feature of our apartment building is a hedge college students like to pee behind... just outside my living room window. i'm envisioning popsicle stick people and an attachment for the garden hose, and i just don't want THAT kind of birdhouse. yet to be perpetrated by alex (egged on by me) is the guillotine w/ which to marie antionette pumpkins some future halloween.

p.s. my tree is still up. everyone say goodbye, tonight is its last night of glory. i'm sure it will barf needles all over the floor in protest. at least our vacuum cleaner will have that nice balsamy smell...

kate said...

h- i don't see an email... but that means nothing. i may see it tomorrow (tuesday the 9th)? the university tends to batch emails and then put them through.

Heather said...

If you don't see it today, let me know. I'll try to resend it.