Nov 27, 2011

On Artificial Christmas Trees

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For many years we had an annual pilgrimage to a local tree farm to pick out our Christmas tree. This was a ritual that even I - someone jaded at Christmas hoopla and commercialism - actually looked forward to enjoying, and our large family would brave even the worst elements to select and cut our own tree.

This year, however, my wife talked me into buying an artificial tree. Actually, it was more like "my wife went out and purchased an artificial tree," and I did not need to be convinced. I am pleasantly surprised at the quality and user-friendliness of this tree.

All told it took me seven minutes to assemble this tree, which was complete with a lighting system. With a natural tree I cannot think of a single facet of procurement and installation that did not take hours to complete, and I have many memories of hacking oversized trees to make them fit our house and itchy arms from pine needle pokes.

It seems to me that we paid $40-$50 the last few years for natural Christmas trees, so the $230 we paid for this tree will pay for itself in just a few years. Add to this the fact that there is no maintenance, and that the tree does not seem to interest our dogs, who in the past have shown great interest in the various smells associated with a natural tree. I recall the year one of our dogs went berserk and destroyed a tree and a bunch of ornaments, and I suspect that the neutral odors of an artificial tree will not provide scents that fire up the canines.

So goodbye, natural trees: we had many good memories, but I am getting too old to be tramping through mud and snow to chop one of you down.

Nov 24, 2011

November Rose

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Strangely, one of my rose bushes decided to wait until the second half of November to offer up its last blossom of the year. The weather had been in the high 40s (Fahrenheit, for any non-US readers) and almost every leave has fallen from the nearby oak, maple, and hickory trees, yet this rose bush responded to some stimuli that prompted this out-of-season flower.

I did trim the rose bushes a few weeks ago, which might have spurred some growth, but the odd appearance of a red rose so late in the year was a surprise. Beautiful, but still a surprise.