Keeping up appearances

by Yule Heibel on December 19, 2004

It’s going to “posting lite” around here for the rest of the year — whew!, no more run-on sentences for y’all! But there’s that party coming up, last minute preparations to attend to, it’s my birthday soon (d’uh), and between all that and the chocolate and wine, I don’t think I’m going to drag myself to the computer very often. Besides, it’s going to take me a couple of days to get comfortable sitting down again: last night, dancing enthusiastically to US 3, I did a split (too quickly) in exuberant memory of my younger self, and felt this exquisite sensation where my thigh muscle connects to my butt muscle. Sigh. Ou sont les neiges d’antan? Where indeed… I sent out invitations to the upcoming Winter Solstice Party at least 2 weeks ago, and now I worry that, having asked for RSVPs only in the case of “regrets,” any number of people never received their invitation. (Guiding motto: if there’s nothing to worry about, invent something.) If you think you should have an invitation, but it hasn’t arrived, email me (myfirstinitialmylastname at post dot harvard dot edu, or myfirstname dot mylastname at gmail dot com). Perhaps you’re someone I read, but don’t know; or someone whose events I’ve gone to, but didn’t chat up afterwards. And there you are, without an invitation, even though you might be someone I’d like to see! Quelle malheur! (Then again, given my past experiences with local Victoria Nazis, there are some of you out there that I don’t want to see, ever, because you’re terribly scummy people. You can keep away.) Further: email me also if you write something (or read something) I really should read, because otherwise I’ll miss seeing it during my virtual hibernation. We do that tree-thing at our house, and I bought a noble fir at a parking lot last Wednesday night. It went straight into a water-well stand, and yesterday (Saturday) I started stringing lights on it. I have incredibly rigid standards as to what constitutes a “good” Christmas tree — you might say I’m an xmas tree authoritarian (don’t want to use the “n” or “f” word). It has to be lit in just the right way — I once shared a flat with a National Theatre School student who studied set design and whose subspecialty was lighting: she taught me that lighting is everything. With that in mind, I spend hours (or, in this last round, due to problems with the strings, 2 days) putting the bloody lights on the tree, until I bloody well hate the whole thing. I start by wrapping lights around the trunk of the tree. A good tree has to be lit from the inside out. It’s absolutely no good if your tree is lit from the outside in. You have to start at the trunk and wrap it with lights, and then work your way outward, weaving the lights so that they glimmer through the needles. In the end, your tree should be see-through with lights, it should shine like something on fire. I used at least 50 metres of lights on our tree (a metre is just over a yard, I think [uh, no: it’s just under]), and the tree is about 2-plus-something metres high (7 or 8 feet): “lit up like a Christmas tree” has real meaning around here. Once the tree is lit, the kids (or anyone who is still standing after my rages and fights with the goddamn string lights) decorate the tree. This year’s tree event was especially buggerful because two of the lightstrings kept fizzling out, then coming back, and fizzling out again because of a loose connection somewhere, which I hope and pray I managed to fix. I just hope they stay intact for the next 10 days or so, because otherwise I’ll use a flamethrower to light the tree. But you know, lighting really is everything. Once that’s done, the rest is easy. And yet …while I feel that I can relax this year since Martha is in jail, unable to remind me of my hostess-and-homemaker shortcomings, I’m also deeply aware that there’s always Hyacinth….


Doug Alder December 20, 2004 at 8:25 pm

I have to agree with your friend – lighting is everything – I was a lighting designer at SFU for several of my more unproductive years (undergrad :-)) – best damned time of my life was working in the theatre, taking a totally black stage and bathing it with light, making a set come alive.

maria December 20, 2004 at 9:26 pm

Yule: have a blast at your party … but do take care of that busted muscle. I’ll email you with updates…

Doug: When were you at SFU? I was there once myself, in Communications Studies. Years before that, doing a BA in Theater at UBC — so I do know the value of lighting! 🙂

Yule Heibel December 20, 2004 at 10:43 pm

Luckily the muscle thing straightened itself out wonderfully quickly — I was able to do splits and downward dogs the next day, and no spasms travelled into my back muscles, hooray! It’s amazing how, once one reaches a …ahem, certain age, one needs to pay an awful lot of attention to one’s back.

Yes, Doug, you are full of surprises! I remember from another post (on your blog, I think) that you used to work in the wine industry, too! Yo, dude! A guy who knows ights, wine — what more could a girl want? Your pumpkin pictures from Hallowe’en were really impressive, btw, so it appears you really do know your lighting strategies!

The tree has held up thus far — I realised after writing down just how many metres of lightstrings I’d cobbled together, that I stood a serious chance of burning down my house. It’s called living dangerously in middle age, I guess. I’m still living in fear that half the strings will blink out on me again in time for the party, in which case I’ll be really p-o’d.

Thanks for the party wishes, Maria — and yes, do email me!

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