Sunday, November 26, 2006

Up on the Housetop

The day after Thanksgiving is officially "put up the outside Christmas lights" day. Personally I call it "try not to fall off the roof" day. For more than thirty years I've been putting up the lights. It used to be a challenge designing each year's layout and trying to out do the neighbors. Lights on the roof, lights in the trees, lights on the bushes, lights around the windows, colored bulbs, white bulbs, flashing bulbs, and sequenced arrays made up the artist's palette. As night fell, the family would all march to the sidewalk to view the turning on of the lights. When I turned on the lights there were oooh's and aaah's usually reserved for fourth of July fireworks. Marilyn always commented on how the display could be better, and I would always say "yeah, maybe next year".

I don't know if I'm getting smarter or lazier but the glitzy colorful animated spectacles are a thing of the past. My display has been toned down to the white icicle on the eaves theme for several years now. The neighbors in the cul de sac are also getting smarter or lazier since they too have adopted this theme. All in all, it makes for a nice subdued unified neighborhood Christmas light display. I guess I am getting smarter since part of getting smarter is the ability to justify laziness. This makes those people who leave their lights up all year virtual Einsteins.

Even with the simplified pattern there is angst. Each year I pull the light strings from the aging cardboard box. No matter how carefully I tied and laid them in the year before, a giant cube of wire spaghetti comes out. I always think of National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" at this point. I view it more as a documentary than a comedy. Sometimes I think I should just heave that cube of luminescence as is on the roof and call it the Christmas star, but that's laziness I can't justify yet so untangling and bulb checking are still part of the yearly ritual.

The nighttime excitement of lighting the display is gone since the display is now the same each year. This year Marilyn suggested adding some colored lights to the wall of the house. I said "yeah, maybe next year".

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Another Thanksgiving finds the family gathering at our house for dinner. We stretched our furniture resources to the limit but managed to pull together enough tables and chairs to seat 14. Finding that our silverware set lacked the pieces we remember having, we placed two different sets on the table. Marilyn suspects Ann may be in possession. Ann is the usual suspect when we find missing plates, glasses, silverware, or other kitchen utensils that we know we have. Ann always denies it.

For the past two years we've bought small pre-cooked turkeys. Our oven is so small that only one small bird fits. This year we relied on the gas grill outside to heat the other along with a ham. Although the turkey simmered in the grill for over two hours, while carving, I ran across a small hard object in the center of the turkey. It was a chunk of ice the size of an egg. Either the turkey wasn't fully thawed which I claim or the grill wasn't hot enough which Marilyn claims. In either case, It was pre-cooked and we have a microwave - problem solved.

Looks good from the outside anyway

As usual, dinner consisted of catching up on what we're all doing, social commentary, and technical debate. Topics this Thanksgiving included automatic tire pressure monitoring, joining the army, rebuilding DeLorians, what color to paint the cabin, Christmas wish lists, immigration, espresso makers, GPS locating, what the government should be doing, and failed attempts to corner the hot dog market in Flagstaff. Of course, these were only the conversations I heard.

Uncle Jim imparts worldly wisdom

Pictures were snapped recording the 7th Thanksgiving of the millennium. Leftover food and good wishes departed with each family member.

Although the next generation smiles now, the day is coming soon when they will be pulling ice balls from the heart of their Thanksgiving turkey.

I'm relying on these people to keep social security alive

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The $20 Flush

Yesterday I received a certified letter from the Pinetop-Lakeside Sanitary District. Before I even opened it I knew we were in trouble. About three years ago, Our do-gooder neighbor made a ruckus with the authorities about their neighbor who was alledgedly pumping their septic tank into the irrigation ditch that runs through our properties in Lakeside. She made enough of a stink (no pun intended) to force the District to put in a sewer line that ends at our property. I received all the notification letters that told us we would have to connect to the sewer and that it would cost a bundle in fees to the district let alone the cost of putting in about 150 feet of sewer line just to get to the main line. We seriously thought about it but in the end did nothing. After all, we only use our small cabin, tucked away in the pines, several times a year and have never had problems with the septic tank. Why should we as upright citizens be forced to absorb unnecessary heavy costs placed on us by an overbearing government. This is the kind of reasoning that allowed us to ignore all letters and instructions from the Pinetop-Lakeside Sanitary District for the past three years.

We hadn't heard anything from the Sanitary District in the past two years and thought they had forgotten. Yesterday's letter changed that. The District Turd Patrol had sniffed us out and weren't going to be ignored again. Yesterday's notice threatened criminal prosecution. They gave us two months to be connected or we'll be faced with a class 2 misdemeanor. I guess that's better than "be out of town by sundown".

I've calculated that over the next ten years at our current usage, it's going to cost us about $20/flush over using our septic tank. All I can say is, that from now on, I'm going to hold it until I get to the cabin to get my money's worth.