Monday, December 23, 2013

God bless us, every one

So there I am at the post office today. I know, I know, but I figure, how crowded can it be? Stuff that needs to make it somewhere by Christmas should have been sent out already, right?

Umm, yeah.

I’m standing in the long line with all the other procrastinators, and things are moving along surprisingly quickly, even though there are only 2 mail people. Then along comes Herbie, our bottleneck.

Herbie is an elderly gentleman who decided that today of all days would be a fine and dandy day on which to take care of his mail being transferred to his home in Florida for the winter. Okay, no problem. This seems to be a quick thing. Just hand over the form (that you didn’t bother to get out of your bag until you were at the counter), confirm everything, and be on your way. Ho ho ho!

Umm, no.

Because first he wants the postal woman to explain everything to him in great detail, down to what he should do to his own mailbox back home so they don’t put mail in there. She tells him to just rubber band it shut.

Herbie: What? What do you mean?
Postal Woman: You know, the clips at the top, just take a rubber band and twist it around them.
Herbie: Oh, so they can’t get it open. Rubber bands. Huh, how about that.

The line is building.

But he seems to be done, so that’s okay.


Herbie: So just to make sure I understand this process, let me explain it back to you.

This is when the lady 3 people behind me starts muttering. “No, let us NOT try to get more understanding about this process. I think we get it. I think there’s a long line here.”

Herbie: The mail leaves here, then it goes to Tennessee, where those machines there do something with it….blah blah blah.

I kid you not. This is where he’s going with this. He keeps going until he has literally gone through the entire thing until his mail winds up in his mailbox in Florida.

Lady keeps muttering, louder. “You have got to be kidding me.”

PW: Right, and then you have your mail!

Yay, we’re done!


Herbie: Wow, that’s fascinating. Tell me, is this a new process? How long ago was this type of service enacted?

I am seriously not making this up.

The woman is going to lose her mind. Herbie. Keeps. Talking. I start laughing. Really, laughing. There is going to be a mutiny. Then word comes in from the street that a car parked in front is going to be crushed by a big mail truck, which also appears to be backing its way directly into the post office building.

In the meantime, the woman in the other line is trying to find some package that a girl is insisting is back there somewhere.

PW #1 to PW#2: Does this look like a 7 or a 2 to you?
PW#2, momentarily taken away from Herbie, who, yes, is still talking: A zero.


PW#1: A zero? Hmm, I guess it could be. I’ll just keep looking in back.

She eventually comes back with something that looks like a postcard. Herbie seems to be winding down, though of course he takes his time packing up his stuff so as to free up the line. I finally head to the counter, and hear poor woman in line comment “All this and all I need is two stamps!” And she holds up her stack of Christmas cards, with 2 bereft, stamp-less denizens.


Suddenly I’m doing my best Mary Bailey imitation, where she holds up a fan of cash in Toddlers & Tiaras style, to avoid the foreclosing of the Crappy Old Bailey Building & Loan.

Me: Stamps! I have stamps!
Irate Woman: Oh no, I couldn’t…….
Me: No really. There’s still a line, and you never know when someone else is going to want to discuss the entire history of the postal system.
IW: Well….
Me: I insist.
IW: I’ll give you a dollar..
Me: Don’t be silly. Here you go.

We exchange our Merry Christmases, and off she goes, happy. Whew, disaster averted!

And that, my friends, is what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas tree tips from Miss Tasha

I think we’ve pretty well established that on rare occasion, yours truly gets some pretty damn stupid ideas. Rare to be sure, but it happens. Most recently, this involved my brilliant idea to get a freshly cut Christmas tree, because, you know, Oregon! Trees! Seriously, you can just pull your car over basically anywhere and stumble across a tree farm.

Of course, my scheme revolved around not just getting a freshly cut tree, but cutting it myself. What the what? Yes, this seemed appropriately Christmas-y and lovely and the height of Oregonianness, fa la la and ho ho ho and all that shit. Besides, who knows how fresh the trees at the lots are? They could be days old! And somehow I’m still able to find friends willing to go along with me on my excursions into madness, hence, dear friend Sarah. “Sure, that sounds like a great idea!” Luckily – or not, as the case may be – friends are reluctant to tell me what a total idiot I am, complete with asinine ideas.

So. We set off for a Christmas tree farm that seems to be open on Tuesdays, based on their website, and has both “u cut or we cut” options, based on their handwritten signs dotting highway 213. But hell, even if it’s only  “u cut,” how hard can it be, right? Right. Sarah’s brought her truck, so we’ll just saw that puppy down, pop it in the truck, done!

Our tree farm seems a wee bit deserted, but hey, there are trees! And a couple of puny saws by a little shack, so clearly we can just have at it. I assume. Luckily, the owner of the farm comes out of her house, and gives us a bit more direction.

Tree Farm Lady: So those are the Nobles, and then there are the Grands, which are generally fuller, taller, and more fragrant…
Me: Whee!
TFL:…..but those are down that hill off into that valley way off there.
I look off into the yonder, trees stretching as far as the eye can see, and can’t even tell where the Grands start.

Me, to Sarah: Yeah, screw that, we’re not going that far.

Off we go, our lumberjack selves, and we soon run into the problem that all intrepid tree-killers face. Namely: trees! Everywhere! How to choose?? They all look pretty damn good, to the point that one has to practically make up flaws. “That one has a few brown needles, so clearly it’s defective.” Stuff like that.

Me to Sarah: It’s exactly like Sophie’s Choice, well, if the trees were children and we were trying to decide which one should die immediately.  Otherwise, same thing.

I really don’t know why Sarah sometimes looks at me so oddly. Nervous tic perhaps?


Luckily I thought to bring a tape measure as well, because I have zero depth perception. Four inches, 6, 12, 2 feet, whatever. Kind of all the same to me. I see a tree that looks like it would work. Yay, my tree! Umm, except that it's 12 feet tall, and I need one that's 9-10ft. Oops. 

And have I mentioned yet that sawing down a tree with a puny saw is really fricking hard? Because it is. In case that wasn’t clear. Or perhaps it IS clear to everyone but me. So for those other two people out there who didn’t know this, consider this a free but important tip from Miss Tasha: never try to saw down your own damn Christmas tree. Leave it to the professionals. There are roving bands of merry tree-cutters for a reason.

We start trying to saw the chosen tree down, and damn, it’s hard. We’re trading off, and in between collapsing on the ground to rest, trying to recall a time when we didn't have hours of sawing to contend with. I blame cancer surgeries – who knew that not having a lat muscle on your sawing side would be such a detriment? WHY was I not WARNED about this???? Hello, Dr. Fine? I have a bone to pick with you! Hmph.

Fast forward about 2 hours later, when we’re still sawing down – and cursing – this damn tree. As we’re almost done, who should come along? Yes, a lumberjack, or as commonly known, a guy with a powersaw.

Guy with powersaw: You ladies need some help?

We just look up at him, mouths agape, gasping, kind of like beached carp breathing our last.

Sarah: Trunk…..even…….

I think she’s trying to ask if he can even out the trunk where we cut it, but somehow, we’ve managed to make it pretty straight. Rock$tars!

Have I mentioned yet that 10-ft tall Noble firs are pretty damn heavy?

Because yes, now we have to carry this sucker to the truck, and get it in the back. As we’re doing this, lumberjack guy comes along, whistling merrily, having powersawed down HIS tree in about 5 seconds. Also at this point, TFL comes out of her house and asks us if we need help. Oh, and informs us that we should come on a weekend next time, when “my husband will have his 4-square (which I assume is an actual powersaw) running!”

Who knew? Apparently the entire population of Oregon other than me, that’s who.

Because we get back to The Manor, drag the tree into the house, and I get a text from Most Excellent Neighbor Laura.

MENLaura:  Tree delivery?
Me: Omg, that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done! Well, one of. There are so many. Sawing down my own tree – never again!
MENL: What?!?!?!?!?!
Me: Omg, that was freaking hard! I cant’ believe my friends go along with my stupid ideas.
MENL: Are you kidding me?! You and your friends went and cut down trees….by hand??

As should be becoming clear by now, everyone ELSE in Oregon is too smart for this kind of tomfoolery.

Me: Yes. At a tree farm, with a puny saw. Freaking. Hard. More people need to tell me that I’m an idiot when I come up with shit like this.
MENL: You’re an idiot!
MENL: You’re an idiot.
MENL: You, my friend, are an idiot.
Me: NOW you tell me!

I must say, however, it’s a glorious tree: pine-y, fluffy, fragrant. In fact, I’ve already forgotten about what a total pain in the ass this was – maybe because the Tree Farm Lady promised us mulled wine next year.

Hmm, maybe I need another tree for the upstairs of The Manor……