Another Holiday? Whatever

We’re tired. The calendar seems to have more holidays in it each year.

Another month is grinding past with more events and potential obligations to fulfill. Somebody is going to be disappointed, maybe even a lot of somebodies.

  • If they’re waiting for cards and letters from us, prepare to be disappointed.
  • If they’re expecting extravagant gifts, prepare to be disappointed.
  • If they’re anticipating thoughtful hand made items, prepare to be disappointed.

We had a family discussion at Thanksgiving about how much to decorate the house and where to set up the fake, pre-lit tree. We decided not to bother with it at the time. That changed when I purchased a window poster of a Christmas tree on Amazon.

My daughter was upset that I would attempt to hang a plastic poster in a window instead of rearranging the living room furniture and moving the indoor rabbit cage to create a space for the tree. She recruited her brother and they accomplished it all on a recent Saturday.

The fake tree is up. A few other decorations are out. The rabbit cage is at my elbow next to the computer desk.
My new poster went to my day job office window for appreciation.


The holiday season: can’t get enough of it, or can’t wait for it all to be over already? Has your attitude toward the end-of-year holidays changed over the years?

Daily Prompt pingbacks working? Back to the daily action…

My day job has many deadline events. Whatever. That just pays the bills so I can blog on my own time.

With the pingbacks not working or sporadic for the past two weeks, it began to feel like a vacation. Responding to a prompt in the comments field lacks the interaction and rapid browsing of other blogger’s offerings. I missed it.

My own site views dropped dramatically and visitors were from a faithful few followers. Thanks friends!

For all those casual browsers out there, here’s a summary of what I’ve been doing without the visibility of the daily prompt arena. Most are family stories inspired by true events and brought to mind during a recent visit with my parents and some siblings.

Dec 6: Kicked Down Stairs

Dec 7: Boys, Rocks, and Hornets

Dec 9: No Money Boundaries

Dec 11: Not Inspiring Confidence

Dec 13: Lights in the Corn Field

Dec 14: The Outdoor Christmas Tree

Dec 15: Little Green Apples (100th Post)

Today’s deadline assignment for me is to provide this catch-up post and get back out there to read your delightful writings as well.


What’s your next, most pressing deadline? Are you excited, stressed, or ambivalent about it? What’s the first thing you’d like to do once you’re done with it?

Little Green Apples (100th Post)

Apples are great. Whether eaten fresh and raw or baked in one of many delicious ways, they satisfy like no other fruit. With just a little garnish of butter, cinnamon, and sugar they burst with flavor in your pie, cobbler, or tart. Apple fritters, pancakes, applesauce, apple butter, apple jelly are all welcome at my breakfast table.

Early fruit that falls from the tree also makes excellent ammunition among brothers. Little green apples and bored farm boys make for an exciting combination. I seem to remember one fine summer day when…


The brothers took turns helping with the evening milking and related barn chores. With a barn population of almost 80 cows, calves, and steers there was plenty to do. One of the tasks was to scrape the walkway outside the barnyard entrance. This concrete extension of the barn foundation provided a transition from the dirt, mud, and muck of the barnyard into the barn. Each evening the returning herd tracked goop onto the concrete on their way inside. At almost 40 feet long and 10 feet wide, it took several passes with the bladed scraper to clear the muck off.

This day, our eldest brother had the chores. The warm summer day had encouraged him to remove his shirt. He labored in boots and jeans only. We others had gathered loads of little green apples and brought them to the fence at the far side of the barnyard. The distance was about 120 feet and the target was a moving one.

We started slowly, taking turns with our throws. At first we deliberately missed. The intent was to scare him into a reaction, not cause injury. After several near misses we refined our tactics and aimed to bracket him in front and back as he moved. He ducked and arched his back to dodge our missiles. They shattered against the red-painted boards of the barn near him.

He tried to sprint with the scraper, stubbornly determined to finish his assigned chore before retreating inside the barn. The friction against the concrete and the growing pile of muck hindered his progress. He turned and ran to the left end of the platform. Once there, he started another pass and we began another volley.

He moved in spurts attempting to confuse our timing. It backfired on him. One apple intended to pass behind him grazed his back as he suddenly stopped in place. He lunged forward and the next apple, already thrown, smacked him hard in the rib cage.

The impact could be heard across the barnyard. We froze as he dropped the scraper handle on the walk. He pressed his hand hard on the injury and looked at us in rage. He ran straight across the muddy barnyard at us. We scattered by instinct, but he was locked onto the one who threw the offending apple.

No matter how much I dodged and ran, he lurched at me with a single purpose, to share the pain.
Game over.

The Outdoor Christmas Tree

In two earlier posts I shared the contrast between the his and her family tree traditions.

http://pepperconnection.com/348/decorating-the-tree-his-way/

http://pepperconnection.com/356/decorating-the-tree-her-way/

My siblings quickly piled on about my lack of attention given to our outside tree.

Christmas decorations at the farm were plentiful. Wreaths, garlands, lights, sprays, and the living room tree all brightened the inside. Visitors could not escape the pungent odor of pine. At least during December we had pine to offset the barnyard smell of our sweatshirts, jackets, and work boots as we entered through the mud room.

If you read my earlier post, Decorating the Tree-His Way, you experienced our struggle in making the chosen tree fit in the living room well enough to receive decorations. Some years, that indoor tree was the second trip to the woods. The first one was usually too large or lopsided to have any chance of indoor success.

Perhaps it suffered during the long drag home through cow patties on the lane. Or maybe it held live animals that hid in terror the whole time we chopped it down, dragged it home, and stood it up outside the back door. The critters were often revealed by the dog’s constant barking or several cats showing persistent interest that made us suspicious and look deeper.

Whatever the reason, the doomed tree failed even our pathetic criteria for inside use. It was granted prominent status on the front lawn and adorned with strings of colored lights in an attempt to give it the illusion of a conical shape. In daylight it fooled no one. At night, with an absence of other illumination, the colored lights pulled off a passable job.

Another benefit was that it provided a lit marker of our front lawn. The farmhouse sat on a roadside curve. The long straightaway that approached from uphill made it appear the house sat in the center of the road. Tire tracks on our lawn and a few busted mailbox posts attested to the several errors drivers made on the turn. During December, we had the added safety buffer of a lit tree in the yard that stood farther in front of the house that helped indicate drivers should turn sooner.

O Christmas Tree, we thank thee for being our roadside marker.

Lights in the Corn Field

The car slowed. We watched from the dark upstairs windows. This was the fourth one tonight. All the cars approaching from up the road acted the same way at the same spot.

Most nights, cars cruised the straight stretch at a smooth clip. Cars driving up from below still maintained their speed. Only those approaching downhill were slowing to a crawl at that same place. We knew what caused it. We had done it that afternoon.

Each summer garden reached a battleground stage as the plants ripened. Cows would breach fences and trample more than they ate. Raccoons were worse. They would destroy large amounts just to take a nibble of a single item. Corn was a big draw. Coons would knock down a dozen stalks and only bite into a few of the topmost ears.

We checked fences as the garden matured. Strong fence posts, heavy-gauge wire were the starting point. Raccoon minds worked through weaknesses and the arms race escalated. We added barbed wire at the top for the cows. Electric fence lines at the top and bottom levels bolstered defenses.

Coons climbed the shed and jumped over the electric top wire to get in. They rushed out and took their shocks as they left. It did little to deter their return.

Today we added lights. Not spotlights or general illumination. We added Christmas lights. Colored bulbs surrounded the lower level of the fence and blinked at random intervals. The hope was to confuse or at least disorient the coons enough to keep them out.

A humorous side benefit was the reaction of drivers passing by the field. As they cleared the top of the hill and approached the farm house, they could see the lights blinking in the field off to their right. The spot where they slowed matched the lowest portion of the stone wall and provided the clearest view. Cars travelling up the road did not have the field in view long enough to spot the lights and drove on normally.

We speculated how many would report the strange lights in the field. Would the news have an announcement of possible alien visitors? Should we build a crop circle to go with the lights?

Not Inspiring Confidence

I recently visited northwestern Connecticut. During a drive from one point to another I passed the “Lost Acres Fire Department” in West Granby.

The name made me wonder about its origin and other things.

Is their motto?:

  • “We give up.”
  • or: “Call someone else to control the fire.”
  • or: “We’re on our way, just had to stop for directions again. Our GPS took us to a dead end.”

The actual history of the fire department can be seen here.

http://lostacresfd.com/history.html

The Lost Acres name comes from a confused landowner who settled in the area long ago.

 

Another Connecticut land quirk is nearby to the north. The famous border notch with Massachusetts caused by a colonial days land dispute between the colonies/early states. The notch was the compromise. Without it, the Connecticut border would be a straight line.


As it’s been a while since our last free-write… set a timer for ten minutes. Write without pause (and no edits!) until you’re out of time.

No Money Boundaries

We were on our anniversary trip celebrating 25 years of marriage. A generous gift from family allowed us to book an all expenses paid vacation to the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands. We were staying in a gorgeous resort on the island of St. John that had several private beaches, easy access to town, and all the expected amenities available.

We went into town to explore and do a little shopping. The first store we entered was a large jewelry shop with very expensive items. My wife began browsing at the smaller trinket counters and I headed straight for the grand display case. After a short time, she came over to where I was standing and whispered “Are we going to buy something here?”

“Whatever you want. We have no limit. Do you think this piece looks nice?” I answered.

She blinked hard for a moment then drew me aside by pulling on my arm. “We don’t need any of this. I’m just as happy with a tourist souvenir to remember this trip as I would be with a fabulous one-of-a-kind specially designed piece of jewelry.”

I was jolted back to the reality of our lives in that moment.
We have everything we need with each other.
No extravagant spending required.


You’re given unlimited funds to plan one day full of any and all luxuries you normally can’t afford. Tell us about your extravagant day with as much detail as possible.