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A split personality is a terrible thing to waste

At the end of the 1953 movie “Invaders From Mars“, we are subjected to an agonizingly prolonged flashback sequence in which the annoying little David MacLean flees from an exploding Martian flying saucer and relives essentially the entire movie up to that moment.

December is sometimes like that.

As the last few weeks of 2008 grind away and we reflect over the past year, I can say without reservation so long and you’re welcome to it. Crashes, storms, upheaval, the break from nicotine, madness. Blargh! But there were some bright points.

One of those was working with a pack of willful and mutinous kids on their “Nightmare” haunted house. If your own haunt doesn’t quite empty out that reservoir of time and energy, then this is an experience that I recommend. Track down some of your local 4-H people or find a Catholic youth group (they tend not to be as spooked by all the scary Halloween symbology), and see if they’re planning a haunt and could use a hand.

You’ll have fun. You’ll wonder what in the world you were thinking. But mostly you’ll have fun. I got to drive a tractor in the Harvest Homecoming Parade, and I discovered a “ringleader” alter ego. Sort of what you might get if you tossed PT Barnum, Pennywise, and Krusty the Clown into a blender. A split personality is a terrible thing to waste.

There were setbacks, though, and I pledged that I wouldn’t get quite as intricated in outside haunts next year. But sometimes I think that inner peace boils down to competent time management, and improving that skill could keep these other doors open.

Artist types are quick to lock themselves away, and they’ll collect cobwebs if they aren’t taken out into the light and shaken from time to time.

More of Mrs. Spookyblue’s Harvest Homecoming Parade pics

How to plan outdoor Christmas decorations

A Sunday Afternoon in December, 1941

“We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin.

The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by air, President Roosevelt has just announced. We take you now to Washington…”

CBS News – Dec 7, 1941 – Attack on Pearl Harbor

Marines at Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor Attack – Timeline
Americans Recall December 7, 1941
Photos courtesy of wikimedia.org

Christmas Lights Are Dangerous and Want to Kill You – Part 3

This happens every year. No matter how many times (or how loudly) I swear that I’ll never string Christmas lights in the dark again, here I am (again) at the top of a frozen aluminum extension ladder in pitch black. My fingers are so numb that I may as well be wearing boxing gloves, and I’m trying to replace a speck of a fuse on the highest strand of lights that was working an hour ago.

You didn’t know that Christmas lights had fuses? You know the little baggy that comes attached to every strand of lights? You probably have a few hundred of them stashed in a utility drawer in your kitchen along with your rubber band collection, a Monopoly hotel or two, some Canadian change, and at least one dead battery of every conceivable size.

Inside that baggy, you’ll find a couple of replacement fuses. There’s usually two or three extra bulbs in there too, and one of them has a red tip. Beware the red tip.

In nature, red-tipped things usually mean danger. A frog with neon red spots dares you to touch it. The same goes for a baboon’s incandescent nose and ass. The Christmas light equivalent is the red-tipped replacement bulb, which means “I’m going to flash, but not right away. I’ll wait a little while to give you time to lose me in the crowd. And then we’ll all flash together.”

I pry open the little hatch where the fuses are held. Luckily, I remembered to bring a small flat-tipped screwdriver with me because past experience has taught that even though you may get that plastic door to slide open with your fingernail, the fuses aren’t coming out without a pair of tweezers or a stick of dynamite.

Pop in the new fuses, slide the door shut, plug it back in, and… Nothing.

A strand of Christmas lights has about the same life expectancy as a goldfish and will die as unexpectedly. One minute everything seems fine, and the next it’s floating upside down, usually high up in a tree or on the topmost gable of the house.

The limp string of a carcass is unceremoniously tossed onto the heap with the rest of this year’s deceased. No voices call out “I feel fine! I want to go for a walk!”

Back up the ladder, and a new strand of lights blazes to life, completing the twenty-foot-tall triangle. A new giant Christmas tree in our front yard and I’m at the top, its star. I linger in the high, cold night. Snug Harbor below is a vision of electric gingerbread, and I’m reminded of an exclamation made by Charlie Brown as he stood before the gaudy lights and aluminum foliage of the Christmas tree lot. “Fantastic.”

A faint something like sadness or regret strays through the trees, a coyote’s lonesome call. Time, like the wind whipping a flag, seems to tug at my soul. So much time. Not nearly enough. The mourning howl of entropy makes of dreams dust.

But before the vast night can crash down on top of me, a voice calls out. “There’s a cat in the house!”

My soap bubble reverie pops and I’m jolted back to reality. A what in the who now?

As I was saying, this happens every year. But now I have a new saying. When they’re lacking, motivation and encouragement will sometimes come and find you. For example, coyotes don’t usually show up in the middle of the day to hoot and prowl around the tree in which you’re perched. Ice down the back of the spirit to remind me that it gets dark a lot earlier now, so get up and get going!

By the way, it was an orange cat. A very stupid orange cat who wandered through the open front door and into camp Collie-Collie-Sheepdog. When I arrived on the scene, Georgie had it cornered in my office.

After Mrs. Spookyblue dragged the dogs out the back door, I managed to throw a towel over the very agitated and animated cat. Or, rather, caught the thing in mid-air as it launched itself through the front window. Well, not really through as much as into. Repeatedly.

Anyway, the orange fur storm eventually got back outside, unharmed. I’m waiting to experience “cat scratch fever”. Wikipedia seems pretty upbeat about it, but I’m sure it’s terminal.