I don’t know what happened. I went from being someone who wanted Christmas slathered all over the house—decorations, lights, greenery, my battery-operated Jingle Frog—to someone who wants all that in someone else’s house. This year we might not even get a tree. We’ve been saying that for a while but we might really mean it this time.
But then I catch Pootie looking at me out of the corner of his buttons and I feel remorse. And I do like lights.
Almost forty years ago, I put Christmas lights all around the kitchen windows. It was tremendous. Our kitchen walls are brick. That’s what happens when you sign on with someone in the masonry trade. At some point they’re going to get all their buddies together and brick something the hell up. There’s never any trouble finding their houses when they have a party—you just get close and look for the big brick mailbox structure with shelves, cubbies, newspaper slot, pizza oven, ammo storage and secret entrance to the bunker.
Dave confined most of his brickly urges to the inside. So we have a brick kitchen with a hearth and new chimney for a wood stove and arches over the windows. His buddies told him it looked like a Pizza Hut but they can be mean. I’ve always loved it. The arches frame the original windows from 1906, thin little ripply bastards that have somehow survived all this time. Yeah, early on we did have a break-in on a side door window but we fixed that vulnerability by replacing the whole door with a beer refrigerator.
I’ve wanted to put the little lights up around the windows ever since but that was a serious pain in the butt. I cut duct tape in quarter-inch segments like it was a tapeworm and stuck every light to the bricks. More than a hundred of them. Taking a scissors that many times to a roll of duct tape leads to quite a bit of unseasonal profanity, although jamming a Christmas tree in a stand produces the same effect. I’m sure we could hold back if the Little Lord Jesus and his mom were actually in the room, but mostly we’ve let fly.
Plus, after a while some of the taped lights started making a break for it, and had to be re-disciplined, and when the whole thing came down there was a veritable topography of adhesive residue on the bricks which was solved only by a liberal application of Goof-Off. I happen to love the smell of Goof-Off and have found over the years that it solves a lot of problems, including malaise, resistance to gravity, and the ability to count to three.
Anyway I haven’t done the window lights since. And I miss them. And—I realized—although I still have duct tape and Goof-Off, I also I have the internet. “How can I affix Christmas lights to brick?” I inquired. Well! Glue-gun! Thanks for asking, said The Googles.
Weirdly, I do have a glue gun. I do not remember why. It’s used for lots of arts and crafts but not really the kind of art I do. I associate it with poster board and glitter and scrapbooks and googly-eyes and I don’t do any of that. But I looked around and by gum I had a glue-gun and an unopened package of glue sticks and, somewhere in my past, another project that had never gotten off the ground. I headed to the kitchen and plugged it in. Sure enough, it got hot. But nothing much came out.
It’s kind of sad to not be able to figure out how to use a glue gun. The Googles won’t even tell you because it’s too straightforward to explain. Plug in. Pull trigger. Glue. It’s like being baffled by a swizzle stick. Finally I noticed a picture where the glue stick was hanging out the back end, which I hadn’t considered, and before long I was gluing like nobody’s business.
Nobody’s successful business, anyway—it worked great, absolutely great, but there was a degree of cobwebbing with what we shall call runaway glue tinsel until I got a bit more skill. But doggone. So much better than duct tape. It makes me real happy and might even perk up the Poot. Maybe I’ll haul in some boughs from the cedar tree. Maybe I’ll light a candle.
I’m considering the whole thing a success. And I will continue to until the twelfth day of Christmas, when I snap the lights off Dave’s beloved brick. The Googles say the glue will come off too, but I really don’t know. Maybe it won’t. One way or the other, it’ll be an Epiphany.
Murr! I absolutely LOVE that room! The bricks, the wood floor, the wood stove! And is that a sky light? That is my idea of a comfy but minimalist room. Kudos to Dave!
There are two large skylights! Installed almost forty years ago during a massive 34-degree rainstorm and still not leaking. My man. (And Chief Buddy Mikey Smith.)
Bricks are a fine indoor motif…reminds me of homes back east, where apparently trees were in short supply.
I think the current ice situation here is an admonition for moving back to Portland, but then again, it got down to -42 in Butte, so there’s that.
Happy holidays, Murr.
Mike (should fish more)
I grew up in a brick home in Virginia but they weren’t inside. -42 is a stupid temperature.
Your Christmas decorations thoughts and mood nailed now Christmas spirit has not yet arrived for me too.
I so missed busting a gut reading your way with words, thoughts and deeds.
Are you churning out ideas during the time you are working for the USPS? Or have you retired?
I really didn’t write at all while I was working. But just before I retired, in 2008 (!), I started writing, and I haven’t stopped. i feel very lucky to be doing what I always wanted to do! (And it’s cheap!)
I’m a sucker for a Welsh bond.
I was just going to say “I’ve heard of a FLEMISH bond…” and then I saw your next comment. Anyway this is plain stretcher bond.
Flemish bond. Whaddoiknow.
I wanna know if the glue-gun glue really will come off of the brick. Oh, be careful about breathing too much of that heated glue — some of it might be as toxic as the stuff used for bathtub reglazing. Aside from what it might do to your brain, think about your lungs getting all, well, glued up.
Gee, I don’t think I’ll spend enough time with it for permanent damage! I hope. So far, once every 69 years….
My husband used Goof-Off for something or other. Gave me a terrific headache! I try anymore to deter him from using anything remotely permanent to afix something.
I am apparently a huge fan of the benzene ring.
I used to be one — until I worked in a chem lab and read all about it.
You should never read about any of this stuff. Or your food either.
Why not just leave the lights up? There’s no reason they have to be just for Christmas. I love the room!
I remember when there was a British show — Changing Rooms– back a couple decades ago. I had what they called “fairy lights” all over the place. All over the deck. On the diningroom ceiling. The ones on the deck were gnawed by squirrels. The ones on the ceiling fell off and it was just too tedious to replace them. Sometimes you just have to say “fuckall!” and go on with your life.
river, it might come to that….but I do like special! For instance, I like that I can’t have pomegranates all year.
May I assume that you and Dave have read Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”? Every bricklayer (and every bricklayer’s acquaintance) ought to.
I know I have because the title is so familiar but it would have been fifty years ago and I don’t remember it. Will revisit!
Only if you want nightmares.
Poe was the greatest one to give you nightmares (apart from working in the restaurant industry!) Not only The Cask of Amontillado, but The Premature Burial! Apparently, that was a real fear of his, and in that time period, it was a definite possibility. Now, of course, if you aren’t already dead, you will certainly die of their attempts at preserving the body. I seem to remember a horror story about that (not by Poe, of course.)
Oh gosh, are nightmares worse than insomnia? Think. Think.
No. They are not. I know that nightmares are just dreams once I wake up. Insomnia can be Hell, because when I’m awakened, my mind generally turns to things that make me anxious and afraid.
This skit from SNL resonates with me: ww.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-e&q=SNL+skit+I’m+awake#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:af0bea6b,vid:FZQsW7VPhj8
Ah, man…. it didn’t translate into comment field. Just Google SNL skit, Now I’m Up.
You nipped off an all-important W in the WWW. Here it is: http://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-e&q=SNL+skit+I’m+awake#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:af0bea6b,vid:FZQsW7VPhj8
I don’t celebrate Christmas. Just the Solstice. I love lights and have them all year. On my arbor, in my windows, on my bookcase. On timers. They remain special.
Well that’s good to know. I love them too. For sure they’ll stay up if they…don’t come off…