My spouse and I set up and decorated our Christmas tree a few days ago. It is one of those pre-lighted deals — I had thought this would make the process easier, year-to-year. This is the tree’s seventh Christmas.
When we set up the tree last year, I found a dead segment of lights that I spent an hour or more troubleshooting. I finally yielded to my frustration and contacted the manufacturer’s chat support line, but it was ultimately to no avail. Our tree turned out to be too old to fix.
Solution? I went to the CVS down the street and bought another string of lights. Adding foreign lights to a pre-lighted tree sort of felt like fitting it with a prosthetic. But it worked.
Which brings us to this Christmas — and another segment of tree lights that elected to die. Only this time, I spent zero hours troubleshooting the problem. I went directly to the CVS down the street and bought a couple more strings of lights. Happy tree, happy life.
Lesson learned: it is just not worth it to buy pre-lighted trees and I will never do so again. They are a pain-in-the-arse to troubleshoot, and it’s much easier to add a string or two of $4.99 lights than to painstakingly pry out and replace bulb after bulb in a pre-lighted tree to find the culprit. Sorry, Balsam Hill.
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In an effort to get re-engaged in my neighborhood, I have volunteered to be a member of our so-called Erosion Committee. This purpose of the committee is to look at the risks to our mountainside development should we get 5 inches of rain in 24 hours. This is not an unusual proposition in these parts, given climate change and hurricane tracks. We, as a neighborhood, have woken up and hope to avoid the tragic fate of the Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida, where community denial, diffusion of responsibility and slow action led to destruction and death.
One couple who lived — and perished — on the seventh floor of the tower that collapsed had just bought a home in our neighborhood. We can see it out our living-room window. Those folks would have been neighbors of ours in the spring.
We need to protect our neighborhoods, if we can. But not just with defensive measures. We need to rethink how we live, what we consume and how that contributes to the threat.
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I have decided to take a break from the blog for a while. I need some time off to improve my attitude and refresh my perspective — I think there’s a string of neurons up there with a burned-out bulb in the middle. So while I troubleshoot, may we all have a great holiday, and I’ll see you next year.