Thursday, December 15, 2011


Today was Myladylove's half day at work. As usual, we're rather behind on our Christmas shopping. We'd therefore planned on a serious session when she got in—one of those marathon hit-every-store-you-can-manage assaults which, with a little luck, just might have seen us finish out the remaining gifts still on our list.

But when Myladylove came home, she was feeling really bad—and showed it. Whether just a combination of doing too much recently without sufficient rest (we were up until midnight last night), sinus issues from the up-and-down weather we've been having lately, or the beginnings of a cold or a touch of flu…who knows. 

I fed her a late lunch and suggested she go bed for a few hours and see how she felt. "We can always visit a few stores later tonight if you're up to it," I said. "If not, you'll have a head start on getting well."

I'm thinking we're probably staying home. Which may be for the best, anyway, since I need to keep an eye on the Christmas tree. 

I'm concerned because when we got up at 6:30 this morning, Myladylove noticed the tree had developed a serious lean during the night. It's a big tree, somewhere around 9 feet tall, and surprisingly heavy. We managed most of the decorating the other day, stringing lights and hanging countless ornaments, but still hadn't gotten around to the mylar icicles, not to mention all the other things we stick on, under, and around the tree…plus there's doubtless another box of ornaments, yet to hang, lurking in the back corner of a closet or up in the attic. 

Tree-decorating is an evolving task the way we operate, ongoing over several days.

Now, the semi-loaded tree was listing at about a fifteen degree angle. Not good. I held the trunk and Myladylove released the catch on the bucket part of the holder into which the tree sits, where it is held in place by screw-clamps tightened down against the trunk. This bucket, in turn, is clamped into a sort toothed ratchet. A lever allows the bucket to move free so you can stand the tree plumb; when you push the lever down, the ratchet's teeth hold the bucket in place. 

Theoretically. At least that's been the case for Christmas trees in the past. Only this morning, when I had repositioned the tree where I wanted it and Myladylove set the clamp we heard a burrrr-bur-burrrrr! as the ratched clamp failed and I had to hang onto the tree to avert disaster. We tried again: burrrrrr-burrr! And a third time: buuuuurrrrrrr!  

Myladylove and I looked at each other. "What's wrong?" she asked. 

"No idea," I said. 

"What are you going to do?" 

"Dunno," I said. 

"Well," she said, "you have to do something!" 

Why oh why did I have to be the one who had to "do something?" Especially given that I had no idea how to immediately solve the problem. It was early. I hadn't had my coffee. Doesn't Santa provide elves for such emergencies? 

"Let's try it one more time," I said, not exactly rising to the occasion. But the way I figured it, unless the stand worked, all I could do was either lean the tree into the corner until inspiration struck, or continue with the status quo and become a human tree stand for the day.

Luckily, the fourth time was the charm and the ratchet-clamp held. I know because I just checked—the tree's still vertical…though, alas, Myladylove remains horizontal. 

Nope, we're definitely not going shopping.   


Bernie said...

I so hope your ladylove is feeling much better by now. Your tree is really lovely......:-)Hugs

Arija said...

Oh what a saga! Whatever you do, don't let that tree fall, the first and last time we had a 12' tree fall flat, the house burned down within 6 weeks.

My best to your Ladylove, may the spirit of Christmas waft through the house and make her happy and well again in a twinkling.

Grizz………… said...


Thank you. She is feeling some better this morning. Hers is a sinus-related inner-ear problem. Whenever the weather changes drastically, she gets almost "seasick" though it's less overall nausea, and just dizziness, queasiness, poor balance, constantly feeling-in-motion, with headaches, and an overriding desire to sleep. She's been to several doctors and specialist, and they all tell her this is one of the most difficult deals to cure…if curing is possible—including surgery to enlarge her eustachian tubes—and even just managing symptoms is seldom wholly successful. The problem there is that any drugs which do work fairly effectively have the side effect of making you groggy and slow, not a good thing given her job. Time and rest are pretty much her only recourse…and usually she doesn't have the option of leaving work early and going to bed for the next 18 hours.

Last week it was 14˚F (-10˚C) here, and spitting snow. Yesterday and the day before, it was in the upper-50s, which would be about 13-14˚C. For whatever reason, a rise from cold to warm causes Myladylove more trouble than going warm to cold.

Grizz………… said...


Well, that's not comforting to know. I hope that only holds true south of the equator.

Actually, our tree fell down a couple of years ago (or maybe it was last year?) while we were in the midst of decorating. Only broke a couple of ornaments, and none of them real keepsakes. That time it was due to installer error (me) not getting everything tightened on the stand, and not making sure the tree was stabilized when we set it up.

However, I didn't duplicate mistakes this time around. If we make it through this Christmas, I'm going to have to figure out the problem with the stand—and if it can't be fixed, get a new one. If need be, I'll drive up to Bronner's, in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Bronner's is the largest Christmas store in the world (45 acres, a store the size of almost 6 football fields) and a fantastic place to visit. You can buy everything there from a single ornament to a commercial twice-life-size Nativity display suitable for the largest buildings or settings; Macy's or the White House would buy their Christmas stuff there. From here, it's about a five-hour drive—a nice weekend trip. I'll be able to get a great stand for any size tree there.

Thank you re. Myladylove. She is feeling better (see my comments to Bernie) and I'm sure will be okay by the weekend. Right now, what's wafting through the house is the heady scent of baking cookies, a few overtones of Scotch pine from the great room, cinnamon rolls (baked before the cookies were put in) and coffee…a pretty Christmassy breakfast combo. Works for me, anyhow.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ - I hope your Lady Love is feeling rested and better. I love your tree, it is HUGE! And I was also thrilled to get a 'peek' inside, finally. Very nice. And the tree tilting is hysterical, well, you know what I mean, it is funny in - "isn't life fun" kind of funny, ya know? :-) Glad it is standing tall and straight, for now. phew. We are laying low today - Skipp is battling a head cold and I am trying to catch up with myself. We love being home anyways - it all looks so festive and comforting and warm and 'Christmasy'!
Love to you

Grizz………… said...


Yup, big tree. But our great room ceiling is 16 feet; what you're looking at is the lowest corner, maybe 12 feet. And the tree decorations weren't finished (still isn't!) when I made the photo, nor was that corner of the room yet decorated. I think we have something over a dozen of those big plastic tubs of decorations—4-5 of ornaments alone!—we keep stored away in closets and attic. Still haven't drug all of that down. But…we will!

Enjoy your day together. Colds aren't much fun, and I try and not have them. But if you have to have one, home and fireside is the place to do it.

Scott said...

You know how plants have phototaxis--the ability to grow toward a source of light? Well, it looks like the star atop your tree has phototaxis, since the very tippy-top of the tree seems to be stretching in a direction opposite the general trend of the rest of the tree. Maybe it's just the angle from which the image was made... I hope the stand holds!

Robin said...

Grizz, I hope she is on the mend.

Question. Have you ever had a tree that large/heavy in the stand before? I tried to put my tree in one of those stands and had the same problem. Had to go to storage and get the heavy metal stand. (You can always put a J-hook in the ceiling and tie the tree to it.) :)

And what Arija said. The first and last time I had a tree fall, we were forced out of that apartment for remodeling within two months.

Grizz………… said...


Huh. Leave it up to a botanist to come up with a ten-dollar word—and a botanical albeit incorrect diagnosis—for what is nothing more than a simple (social) case of tree abuse. I'll have you know that 9 foot tree's top was straight as an arrow until I stuffed it in the 8 foot bed of the pickup and hauled it around for three days. I had hoped it would renew its natural line once it was brought into the heated room. Now I think I'll have to lop off a few inches and replace the star.

I hope the stand holds, too…man, do I EVER hope it holds!

Grizz………… said...


Yup, I've had several trees that big and heavy in this stand. This is not one of those paltry discount-store stands, or a stand intended for what I like to refer to as "Christmas bushes." Nope, this is a heavy-duty, he-man, up-to-6-inches-in-diameter stands. For extra stability it can be mounted on a 4x4 ft. square of plywood. But the trouble this year isn't balance, rather the ratchey-clamp thing which holds the 2-gallon bucket in the support part of the stand.

I have thought about doing the hook-and-line business from the ceiling…although I'd have to borrow a taller step-ladder, or better yet, get the ladder and draft my son-in-law into the task.

And FYI, I'm trusting there is still sufficient Druid blood remaining in my Celtic veins to thwart any fallen tree curse, should it occur.

Arija said...

so glad your Ladylove is feeling better, Maybe due to the lovely scents wafting from the kitchen.
I really must get down to some Christmas baking but somehow a hot summers day is not a great incentive.

I'm still waiting for the promised eggnog recipe . . .