03 December 2013

Taking a Break Since My Back is Breaking

Have put up the library tree this morning, and the decorations in the library. For a while it seemed insurmountable because there was so much clutter, which drives me mad. And the poor library tree is getting so limp, but I'm so reluctant to replace it. We've had it since we've had the house, you see, and I'm rather sentimental.

The only rule with the library tree is anything on it must have been in a book first. You can't put a St. Bernard on the tree and say it's Beethoven, because that was a movie first, even if it were novelized later. (You could put a St. Bernard on the tree and say it's the famous Barry, of the Great St. Bernard Hospice, because that was a book. I don't have a St. Bernard, though. I do have My Friend Flicka, Misty of Chincoteague, and My Dog Skip, among others.) Less than half of the ornaments were actually made as book related, and those are Hallmark ornaments: The Cat in the Hat, Where the Wild Things Are, Thomas the tank engine, etc. The rest are figures from Hobbytown or from Richard's Variety Store which represent books. A black horse is Black Beauty, a white baby seal is Kotick the white seal from The Jungle Book, a fawn is Bambi, a West Highland White terrier is McDuff, a one-legged pirate is Long John Silver. I have Merlin the magician and Robin Hood and Zorro and a girl with a horse brush who's supposed to be Dinah in The Horsemasters (or could be February Callendar, I suppose, rubbing down her pony Gorse), a rabbit that is Hazel from Watership Down and a fox which is Cinnabar the One O'Clock Fox, and even Elsa the lioness from Born Free.

Sometimes you have to "go with the flow." My Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the film Dorothy, with ruby slippers. The real Dorothy of the book had silver slippers. I have a sable-and-white collie for Lassie Come-Home, and really, that's how anyone today thinks of Lassie, but the seminal Lassie, the one created by Eric Knight, was a tricolor collie.

I did get the library tidier, put the Christmasy things on shelves, and put up the lighthouse. When we were at the old house, we didn't have room for a Christmas village, so I made a Christmas vignette, with a whole story behind it. I bought one of the LeMax lighthouses and then painted a big rectangular board to look like a lighthouse island with the sea around it. Bought a bag of pebbles to represent rocks at sea and on the jetties, bought some pilings with seagulls on them, and the "sea" has raised whitecaps made with dried glue ridges. The lighthouse is run by old Cap'n Andy, who in his day was a famous ship's captain. Now he keeps the light, with the help of his granddaughter Bess and his grandson Daniel, whose parents died in a typhoid epidemic. They've just come back from the mainland and Daniel is bringing in their little Christmas tree when they see someone in the dusk rowing out to the lighthouse. It is the family's old friend Edward Simpson, who is bringing the family some Christmas gifts in his dory. Cap'n Andy and Bess wait at the headland with a lantern to welcome Ed and invite him for a bite of supper.

Came upstairs to have a few peanut butter crackers. Everything was such a mess downstairs I soothed myself by tucking some Christmas "greens" into the china cabinet and then decorating the ceppo with its manger scene on the top and a woodland scene with St. Nicholas on the bottom. That made me feel good enough to go back downstairs and wrestle physically and psychologically with the containers, which got put back in the closet. Everything needs vacuuming, but it's a lot neater.

Sorted out the porch decorations from the divider decorations; took the latter upstairs on a box lid and installed the former where they belonged, so the porch looks a mite perkier, then had some milk and some chocolate and read a few pages of the November/December "Landlove," a British nature magazine.

[Later: Things didn't go as well this afternoon. Wanted to put up the airplane tree, which is a pre-lit unit. Plugged it in and it's dead. Worked perfectly for several years now, but no juice. Sighing, I went on to do the foyer tree which holds all our miniature ornaments. Guess what—the light string was dead! I don't understand. The string worked for a month, through January sixth, and was working fine when I took everything down. How it "breaks down" without being used flummoxes me. Anyway, I did want to finish decorating the foyer, so I tossed some clothes on. Stopped at Home Depot, but all they had were LEDs. I don't like their color and every string of LEDs we've bought now have at least half the lights off. So I went to Lowes and picked up a string of fifty lights.

I liked the set of thirty-five better, as it was made for single use. Now I've had to hide the plug that enables the string to be added to another light string. Modern Christmas lights are dreadful; it's so hard to fasten them to the tree. The old miniature strings had a ball you slid along the wire to clamp the light to the branch. The poor tree is all wires now. Nevertheless, it "cleaned up" pretty well, although it was a painful task. My hands get so dry from washing in the winter that the skin on the tips of my thumbs crack, and every time I put an ornament on the tree I was prickled with plastic needles or metal hooks. I hate leaving blood on a Christmas tree.

Done with that just in time for supper.]

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