November 31st -- 12/01/01

Yes, I can read a calendar (even though my previous entry was called Calendrical confusion )... but the other day I had some coupons for a local business that were labelled with an expiration date of "November 31, 2001" (and one of the coupons was good only on Wednesdays!) so I just couldn't resist making that the title for today's entry.

We do continue to have confusing weather here.... Nancy and Jennifer and I went off this morning to get a Christmas tree (Sean was asleep... he's not an early riser on weekends *grin*)

We reminisced about prior year's Christmas tree searches -- we tend to like cutting our own at tree farms -- and repeatedly marveled at how different this year's weather was from those past years. (No winter coats needed; we've got shirt-sleeve weather.)

We remembered the time about ten or twelve years ago when we went to a tree farm about twenty miles from Binghamton, one that featured a lengthy hayride out to the field where the trees were waiting to be cut. It was a definite upstate New York white Christmas... this was about a week before Christmas and a foot or so of snow had fallen earlier that week... that Saturday was cold and windy... temperatures in town were in the low teens (minus ten or colder for those of you who have metric thermometers) and out in the countryside, with a brisk wind blowing over the hills and fields, it was painfully cold (probably sub-zero wind-chill factor... minus twenty or more metric.) We cut our tree and waited, shivering with cold, for the tractor-drawn wagon to return... and then had to endure a frigid ride back to the parking lot. Hot chocolate was being served in a building heated by a roaring fire in a woodstove. Nancy and the kids went in for warmth and hot chocolate while I attempted to fasten the tree to the roof of our car. We had a big Chevy station wagon with a roof rack, so it should have been simple to fasten the tree to the roof... but when I picked up the tree (a very large one, naturally) and lifted it onto the roof, a gust of wind rolled it right off before I could get the clothesline around it. Numb with cold, I struggled the tree up once more and again the wind rolled it right off again.... Over to the side they had a tree-bailing machine... for an extra dollar they would wrap the tree in plastic netting... I dragged the tree over to their machine, pulled off a glove and, with frozen fingers, found a dollar bill in my pocket... the bailed tree was easily tied onto the roof... and Nancy and the kids came out with a cardboard cup of hot chocolate. Ahhhhh.... (As we were leaving we saw another family arive and, instead of going off to select a tree, they went inside for hot chocolate first.... big mistake... how could they ever bring themselves to leave the warmth of the woodstove to brave the frigid trip to the trees?)

This is our seventh Christmas in Rhode Island and (since we were living with Nancy's mother that first Christmas, with our furniture in storage, waiting to close on this house so we could move in) our sixth Christmas in this house. This is the third Christmas that we have selected our tree from this farm on route 2... They have a nice arrangement... pre-cut trees (and wreathes, etc.) are available at the main farmhouse or you can buy a tag and take a ride in a tractor-drawn wagon out to where the trees are growing... then you find your tree, cut it down (saws are provided), tag it, have it bailed out there, and have another wagon ride back to the farmhouse.... trees are brought back on a separate wagon. In previous years there had been a group of boy scouts selling donuts and cider and hot chocolate but they were not there this year. (Perhaps too early in the season?)

I had been planning on going for a run this afternoon, but it is already nearing four o'clock and I think I will have to pass on it for today because it is too late... we are going over to URI tonight with Nancy's mother for a performance of A Chorus Line and we've also invited her to join us for dinner first... so I don't really have enough time left.... I need to go into town a pick up some stuff for dinner, asparagus, etc. and then have to get started on cooking. Well, I had a nice run yesterday... and if I skip today, maybe I can go for a longer run tomorrow...

Back home now after having enjoyed A Chorus Line... nicely done, one of the better performances I've seen at URI. This is the third production I've seen of this play (not counting the motion picture... and you shouldn't count it because it lost a lot in translation from the stage)... Nancy and I caught a touring company production many years ago and I had been very disappointed, not in the performers themselves, but (probably due to a late arrival and rushed preparation -- we were seeing the first performance in that stay) there were a number of technical glitches, especially microphone failures so that performers' voices suddenly disappeared beneath the music. A few years later we took the kids and a couple of their friends to a performance which we all enjoyed, although the performer who sang the lead on "What I Did for Love" didn't have quite strong enough a voice... tonight, however, that was sung by a young woman with a very good voice who carried that song well. I'm finding that the URI productions we've seen in the past two or three years have been much better than the ones we saw when we first moved here.

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