Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Inspector signed off on the cover yesterday -the cover with the big, deep holes filled with concrete, a ton of steel in the posts and headers, and a thousand bolts into the house- so I can finally put that all behind me. More or less. A friendly man is coming to install solar panels atop the overwrought aluminum edifice next week, so I may have to field a few questions. Otherwise, the permit is initialed and the box is checked -the one that says READY FOR OCCUPANCY. Burden lifted.

Also finished another one yesterday and signed up at least one for December. Though the year is slowing down to a close, with our income flow reduced to a trickle, I am very grateful. I need a bit of rest.

But there's no time for that! Gotta get up at daybreak for the local Turkey Trot! And then drive 125 miles to Thanksgiving, where the Little Ditchman has been promised she would get to build a gingerbread house. And then later this weekend: Christmas lights.

I actually had the foresight to purchase some lights the other day, knowing that they all sell out by Saturday, and since last year I found myself stuck mid-strand, without a workable set to move forward with. You see, our house requires a very specific type of light string with a "random twinkle" effect. This is different from the "blinking sparkle" effect, which will not do. Putting up these lights is a whole day affair, somehow, but I will blast Christmas music and pack away everything pumpkin and replace it with all things pine and winter. It's here. Time to stock up on the necessities: firewood, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, cards, stamps, gifts, and other sundry items.

I was impressed with myself for a few hours, having bought the lights before that inevitable crisis of '08 was repeated. I was at Lowes and found the display box of my needed lights empty and I almost ho-ho-hollered in despair -until I saw an unopened crate of them buried up and behind the rack. I got it myself. Whipped out my key chain x-acto and began stocking shelves. No one said a thing. (My contractor work shirts happen to be a Lowes blue and, as a result, customers are always asking me where things are. Unfortunately for corporate, I usually have a quicker answer than the employees. No, seriously. I was waiting at an empty checkout counter the other day and the guy behind me asked sarcastically if I was going to fire up the register or just stand there looking stupid. I almost took his money.)

So I was impressed with myself for being ahead of the game, but when I turned up my cul-de-sac at day's end I noticed that one of the Jims had his lights UP AND ON! The Monday before Thanksgiving! The bastard! And then I drove past another Jim's house and HE HAD CHRISTMAS GARLAND HUNG AROUND HIS GARAGE! This was especially intimidating because I know he happens to be in Guantanamo, but damn, he is on top of it this year! So I gave up, and decided that Saturday I would give them all hell for going at it early. Later that night I went out to fetch the mail. Another neighbor had his ladder against the house. He was hanging lights in the dark. They were already plugged in. Damn you, Rod! I shaked my fist.

But it actually makes perfect sense, since you can more easily tell which bulbs are out when you're hanging them in the dark. So that will be my weekend, amid a paltry few other chores. What am I thankful for? So many things, but my family and my country more than anything, since just about all else can be remade. Gratitude wards off ruination, and is the key to happiness. It's not a key I intend to misplace.