April 6, 2019:


The income taxes are finished and were taken to the Post Office yesterday to send out via certified mail, which now costs nearly $16 for two 8 1/2 11 envelopes with return receipt. Yikes! But worth it because I have proof positive once I get the little green cards back that the returns were delivered and received. And just in case, there are tracking numbers that I can also tap the U.S. Post Office for to verify that delivery was made. In these times, it's better to be safe than sorry

I have been working in little bits and pieces outdoors whenever a window in our crappy weather has presented itself. Today, however, was the first day where I was able to spend an extended period of time outside. First, I cleaned up areas on the sidewalk and driveway along the edges where pine cones and branches tiny branches blown off during the seemingly wind storms we endured over fall and winter 2018-2019. After resting for a bit, and removing the winter hat, gloves and jacket, I moved to the back yard because I'm sick of feeling sick to my stomach every time I look at it through the patio doors in the dining room and window above the kitchen sink. This winter left it a true disaster zone. I worked steadily raking small areas and filled two trash can size black trash bags full of debris blown down from my arborvitaes and neighboring trees over the winter, in addition to about half a ton of nut shells. The nut shells are my fault because I feed all the neighborhood squirrels. They are so entertaining, and very smart! I also made a small dent in starting clean-up of the flower beds, where the "mild" (ahem) weather and thawed earth has encourages perennials to start popping through, whether I'm ready for them or not!

All in all, a somewhat decent start to making a larger dent in clean-up operations. I worked outdoors about 4 hours off and on. I didn't want to overdo it, and truth be told, I'm pooped! It's humbling to not be able to work as long or as hard as I used to. I can get it done, but I have to take lots of rest breaks so it takes quite a bit longer now. Good thing I'm retired


Sunday, January 6, 2019

A New Year and a New Christmas Tree for 2019

Hola everyone and Happy New Year!  May all of us have a wonderful healthy and prosperous New Year.

I swear, this has to be the earliest I have ever had my tree down after Christmas, wowsers!  I started deconstructing it on January 2nd and took off all of the decorations over 2 days, just dawdling along.  Isn't it amazing how quickly you can strip a tree down, when it takes so long to dress it?

Today, after sitting there naked for several days (the white sheers are once again closed so the tree's modesty is preserved), the tree itself came down. 

Classic Fraser Fir from Tree Classics (online vendor).

I have been hemming and hawing this season over whether to buy a new artificial Christmas tree.  After experiencing a couple more rows of lights dying on my 6.5' 10-11 year old pre-lit tree, and then running out to try and find "warm white" lights to thread into an already decorated tree so I wouldn't have huge dark spots at the top, middle and bottom of the tree (yes - it's ridiculous - all of a sudden most of the original lights decided to just go out this year, all at different times!), I decided maybe it's time (1) to get a new tree and (2) downsize to a smaller tree.

The idea of a smaller tree has been kicking around in my head for some time.  After struggling this year to haul the old artificial tree up the basement stairs, smaller and lighter has become very appealing.  My buddy Ann mentioned a few years ago that she downsized to a table top tree.  I'm not as strong as I used to be but I figured a shorter, lighter tree (not pre-lit!) that I can place on a stand about 12" tall and then cover the tree base plus stand would work very well in front of my large picture window, and will be easier to get up and down the basement stairs.

I'd heard of Balsam Hill and looked at their trees online.  Gorgeous - and very very expensive!  Too expensive for my budget even on sale.  But most (maybe all) of their trees are formed using PE (not PVC) in injection molds that result in very soft, flexible and extremely realistic needles, and that appealed to me a lot.  They really are gorgeous trees, full and luxurious looking, but just too expensive for my pocketbook.

So, I've been hunting around online for a "PE artificial Christmas tree," hoping to score a super bargain on sale or clearance.  Several vendors try to pass off their trees as PE, but when you read the specs, they're PVC and not PE!  I found some trees that are blended trees of both PE and PVC needles, but not one that I liked enough to consider buying (they are a lower price point because they are not 100% PE "real feel"[TM]). 

But today I did find one tree at Tree Classics online that I liked.  Its tips are made of PE (injection molded) and other needles are made of PVC to fill out the branches.  It's a blended tree, and so a compromise from the 100% PE trees I can't afford, but I liked the tree style and color and the height is perfect at 4.5'.  It's also a space saver, which I wanted.  On sale at $129.99 (just call it 130 bucks and be done with it, geez) with free FedEx Ground shipping.  It is also not pre-wired, which was important to me.  After having lights burning out in large sections of my old tree last year and this year, I much prefer to put short strings of lights on and off myself so that trying to hunt down bad bulbs and/or fuses is easier in the future.

So I ordered it, and now we'll see.  I know I'll have to open it up and check it when it arrives and now wait until December 2019 - not looking forward to that but it must be done.  Imagine not opening it but letting it sit for 10 months and then opening it, only to find it's defective in some way or even the wrong tree!  EEK!  So I will just have to do what most rational people do and open the box to check to make sure it's the right model and all is in order.  UGH! 

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