Sorry for the unplanned hiatus! My Mac powercord died. The good people at Apple are mostly very helpful and I just love my MacBook Pro. So don't get the impression that I'm complaining about McHenry. (That's the name of my laptop. It probably should be MacHenry, but McHenry is a family name and it just seemed wrong to spell it differently.) So I'd like to stress that it was not McHenry's fault that my powercord blew up. You can blame that on the faulty wiring of our 1959 home. Do you remember that line from Revenge of the Nerds? "Thanks to faulty wiring, we have no place to live! Right? Right! While these freshmen - freshman! - are sitting pretty in there!" Or something to that effect.
I know our wiring was the culprit because my powercord plugs into the same outlet that we used to power our Christmas tree lights. You know how much fun it is to put the lights on a giant Christmas tree, right? (Ha!) I hate the task so one year I delegated the chore to Penn. Alas, he isn't quite as persnickety as I am. Plus he was a tree lighting novice. I spent the entire month of December kicking myself every time I looked at our tree. You can be sure that the following Christmas, the first spent in this house, I resumed my post as the family's designated tree trimmer and hall decker. And I went all out. My personal philosophy regarding tree lights is that more is more. And I carefully wove every strand around the branches - just SO - to hide the wires. I made sure that each branch had a variety of lights, in terms of depth. After the lights were strung I went around switching bulbs so that no two colors were too close together. And I replaced each fuschia light with the individual white bulbs I'd purchased. I prefer the festive look of colored lights, but I don't think some of the colors are at all Christmas-y. Like purple, orange, and electric blue. I was finally ready to stand back and admire my work. My hands were sticky with sap, my arms were quite scratched up, and I was uncharacteristically sweaty. I mean, perspirant. I mean, glowing. But it was totally worth it when I turned out the living room lights. Gorgeous!
Until a strand went out. I replaced the fuse and breathed a sight of relief when the lights flickered on again. But a minute later they burned out again, accompanied by another strand (or two). So I swapped out those fuses, crossed my finges, and held my breath. They came back on. Briefly. Then the entire tree was out. Every light on every strand. "Noooooo!"
I was so mad that I could have cursed. So I used my special phrase which is saved for such occasions. "Fricken-FRACK!" I don't know where it came from or what it means, but it is quite satisfying when used sparingly. It's especially comforting when one stomps their foot on the last syllable.
After my outburst I drove my angry little self to the hardware store and bought a dozen packages of lights and new white bulbs. I came home, stripped the tree, and started the whole thing over. It never occured to me that the lights weren't the problem. Duh. I was a little less exact this time but I figured the end result would be good enough. I was not in a jolly holiday mood at all, at this point. I didn't even get the last strand on the tree before the lights started to blow, one by one. And then it dawned on us. "Oh."
We briefly considered having an unlit tree. But have you ever seen anything more depressing than that? We thought about moving the tree to a new part of the living room, but it wouldn't have been visible from the sofa. Also it was doubtful that any outlet in the "old wing" of our home would be any better. We discussed getting a table top tree, but we'd already shelled out way too much for our beautiful Noble Fir. We debated the merits of stringing a looooong extension cord from the tree all the way to the first outlet in the "new wing" of the house. But the only long extension cord we had was bright orange and the hardware store was now closed. And I wanted to be finished with that tree that very night. So we gathered a whole bunch of extension cords and plugged each individual strand into it's own extension cord and then plugged those into two power strips. We tried to keep the cords (which were brown) toward the back of the tree and hid them with ornaments and bows, as much as possible. But it wasn't exactly what you might call a decorator's dream. Had there only have been some need for duct tape on that tree, I'm certain Jeff Foxworthy would have popped out and declared us rednecks.
Now the unbelievable part was that this was two Christmases ago and we must have blocked the traumatic memories from our minds, because last Christmas we totally forgot about the outlet problem and did it again! I strung three quarters of the (albeit smaller) tree with lights, only to have two strands blow out. "Oh yeaaaaaaah." It all came rushing back to us and Penn and I couldn't believe we'd forgotten about "the Christmas tree light debacle of 2005." We quickly unplugged the lights, before they all went out. Then we dug out the extension cords and power strips and did the same thing as the year prior. And we had a good laugh. Which proves that you really will laugh later about things that make you more mad than you've ever been, at the time! Which is a good thing to keep in mind the next time you get really frustrated about something.
So that's what I was telling myself as I drove for the FOURTH time to the Apple store at our local mall. Because the first time I didn't have an appointment. And the second time I got the new cord, but when I got it home it was missing a component. And the third time, when I went back to exchange it for a new cord (with said component), the clerk convinced me that it probably was back home in the packaging. But then when I got home and discussed it with Penn he reported that he had noticed the moment it came out of the wrapper that it looked funny, and so had inspected the packaging for the missing piece. So I went down a fourth time to exchange it for a cord with the component. And I know all of this must be extremely boring to read about, but venting makes it less frustrating.
And have you ever had one of those days?
Say for example that you're driving home from the Apple store. For the fourth time. Just hypothetically speaking. And say you're irked. And stressed because your husband called this morning and started complaining (legitimately) about something and you decided to just hang up on him. So you have that to deal with at some point. So you turn on your praise CD. And one of your favorite song comes on, so you crank the CD up even louder. And you're just minding your own business, singing with all the gusto you can muster. At the top of your lungs. And, truth be told, you don't have an especially lovely singing voice. And you're more of an alto, but that lady from Hillsong is singing very very high notes. So you are, too. And you come to a stoplight and continue singing your squeaky little heart out. When suddenly you think to yourself, "Hey, where is that breeze coming from?" So you glance over your right shoulder and realize that, not only is your back window halfway down, but you are stopped in front of a bus stop. Where a variety of strangers are waiting for their bus, staring at you. And you don't want to totally stop singing all of a sudden, because that would just emphasize how embarassed and uncool you are. So you pipe down a little, but keep singing. Just counting the seconds until the light turns green, so you can leave those poor, unsuspecting bystanders in the dust.
Has that ever happened to you? Just wondering.
Holiday fiascos. Computer malfunctions. Cross words with husband. Unintentional concert solos. Sometimes we all just have a day, and this is one of them.
But after a week, McHenry and I are finally reunited. I will smooth things over with Penn when he gets home from work. And I will never see any of my bus stop victims again.
I hope you are having a good kind of day. Especially you, Mumsy!