They're cutting down trees, they're putting up reindeer, and singing songs of joy and peace ... oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here, stays pretty green, I'm gonna make a lot of money and then I'm gonna quit this crazy scene, oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on....
I've admired Joni Mitchell's music for many years (even before college where I really became a hardcore fan) and I've always considered Blue one of her finest albums. For me, this often sad and heartbreaking collection of songs is pure emotion in poetry and music and if I could only own one of her many fine discs, this would definitely be my choice.... And River is perhaps my favorite of the many favorites I have on this disc (Little Green, Carey, California, A Case of You, I could go on and on). I realized today (while trying to leave a coherent message about Pepa on my sister's answering machine) just how very close to the surface my emotions currently are ... and lo and behold, River popped into my mind. So I decided I'd post the YouTube audio tonight.
Yes, the connection to Christmas is obvious, and it's not really "Christmas Music" per se, but it's always one I think of at this time of year, especially when we trek out into the frequently cold and stormy weather to pick out our own tree, which we did tonight, amidst the misty damp cold of an approaching ice-snow storm making its way to our area. We figured that with an additional 5-8 inches of snow on the way tonight and tomorrow and very cold temperatures forecast for the rest of the week, that it was now or never tonight ... so off we went.
In the 10 years we've lived here, we've always gotten our Christmas trees from a family run tree farm business in northern Wisconsin, and have become quite fond of the people who sell them. They're real Wisconsinites from up north (complete with accent and all), salt of the earth, hard working people who provide great trees at a more than reasonable price. So we set off to where they always set up this time of year, in a vacant lot across from an old (now closed) Target store on the north side of the city. As soon as we got close, I began to worry ... there was no giant illuminated snowman or Santa as in past years, and it looked ominously dark as we got closer to the lot. Then our worst fears were confirmed ... they're not there this year. I started wondering about why, after over 10 years, they had suddenly disappeared ... had the business failed? Did they not make enough money here last year and decided it wasn't worth it this time, with the economy faltering? Did they lose their lease on the lot for the season? All sorts of theories swirled around in my mind, and I suppose I'll probably never know for sure....
But we were on a mission (interrupted yesterday for obvious reasons explained in the previous post), so I got to thinking where I had seen other small lots popping up around the city yesterday ... then it came to me, we had passed one in the old Beaverdale neighborhood (where I lived when I first came to Des Moines in 1994). So we drove back, found the lot and pulled in as the weather really started to get a bit nasty (windy, cold, freezing mist) ... as we were the only customers there at the time, we got lots of attention from the very eager guy selling the trees. I asked him where the Scotch Pines were (that's what we've always gotten in the past) and he said they only had Fraser Firs and Balsams (which I'm not very fond of), so we started having him show us the Firs. He had a lot of really nice trees, but most were bigger than we had in mind until he showed us one that was about 6.5 ft tall, and we decided that one would do quite nicely because it was very full and well shaped. So I asked the price. $60. I gulped, because we had never paid more than $30 in the past, so it was one of those situations where we had to decide quickly, not only because we were on a mission, but also because the weather was chilling us both to the bone! So I said, we'll take it, pulled out my $60 and a couple of minutes later, he had it bagged and loaded into the back of the Vibe (we didn't have to strap it to the roof this year, lol). And to sweeten the deal, he even threw in one of those clean up/disposal bags that you just put under the stand and pull over the tree when it's time to take it down. That should help eliminate the never ending vacuuming up of fallen needles this year, so that's a good thing. In all likelihood, if the bag isn't damaged too much taking it out in January, we'll just empty it in the compost and save it for next year, because the city collects the trees for composting, and of course, we're the composting kind of guys after all!
We came home and got it into a bucket of fresh water on the porch for the night, and we'll probably bring it in tomorrow night and get it set up in its stand, and if we both still have enough energy left at that point, we may start getting the lights on it. Once that's done, the real fun will begin ... hauling out our enormous glass ornament collection and decorating it! Though we vowed not to buy any new ornaments this year, Fernymoss has fallen off the wagon a few times and brought home some very nice new additions (such are the perils of working in a crafts store!). So Ornament Blogging should start very soon here at Casa IVG ... I hope you will enjoy it as much as we like showing off our rather eclectic-traditional collection! So stay tuned ...
Brief Pepa update: Today she showed some improvement over the past few days, so we're cautiously hopeful that she'll make it through these next critical couple of weeks. The Lasix appears to be working and helping to eliminate some of the accumulated fluid and her belly is visibly less distended than it has been over the past several days. She rested comfortably and slept a lot on the futon couch in my office most of the afternoon until it was time for her dinner and evening meds. Her eyes are brighter, her ears are perkier and the tail wagging is starting to come back more frequently than before. I hope we can notice improvement a bit every day until she goes back to the vet next Monday ... I know it's going to take time to get her stabilized, but we remain hopeful she'll pull through!
LATE UPDATE: 11:30 a.m. 12/09/08
Pepa came to my side of the bed about 5:30 this morning, saying goodbye, I believe. Sometime between then and 8:15 she passed over and I found her at rest in the kitchen. I am giving her and myself today as a wake, and we will take her into the vet's tomorrow, where they have arranged for a cremation. We are already missing her grievously, and it's going to take a while to pass. I'll post an obituary sometime tonight or tomorrow.
Thanks again for all the kind words of support and love offered in this very sad time.