Mostly, it is up to you. I claim no expertise. An online search for this information turns up far more ingenious solutions than I could devise.
But this is what I (with 3 cats – that is, I live with 3 cats, I decorated the tree with my daughter Gamma) did:
First, I got a nice tree. A few weeks ago, my wife Alpha and I went to the tree guy (local tree farmer) as early as possible. We weren’t the first people to go there this year, but we were the first ones to buy a tree.
In fact, they were still setting up when we arrived. Only one tree was standing. Viennese people (they had Vienna license plates) were looking at a pile of trees lying against the barn. Alpha and I looked at the first tree standing. “What about this one?” I said. “Ok,” she said.
She did insist the owner measure it before we bought it, and the tree was a little tall for our living room but I always cut a bit of the tip off to fit the red star on the top, and she raised her eyebrows but relented. It was, after all, a very nice, thick, symmetrical tree. And it is such a pleasure to buy the first item you inspect when you have been dreading an hour of comparison shopping.
We asked them to deliver it, as every year, and NOT to grind the end that fits into the holder because we have our own holder and it has a big hole.
They delivered it with the end ground down to fit into a wooden base that they had attached.
We like to use our own holder because you can put water into it and maybe the tree lasts a little longer, or at least the needles might not fall off as fast. I don’t know if there really is a difference because we have never tried the old-school wooden cross holders. So I considered using it this time because 1. it was already attached and 2. I might find out experimentally if the needles fell off faster without water.
My daughter came out on Sunday to decorate it with me while my wife Alpha did a writing retreat with our daughter Beta.
The most important thing Gamma and I did was, we didn’t get high before decorating the tree.
The weed kids smoke nowadays is stronger than it was 40 years ago etc etc.
I will spare you the comedic anecdotes.
So, sober, we stood up the tree.
That wasn’t so easy, it turned out because this was the biggest, heaviest tree I had ever purchased, I noticed when I tried to carry it into the house. But eventually it was inside, and standing.
Gamma determined that we had an appropriate tree for our family Christmas, because it was left-leaning.
So we took off the wooden base (with a hatchet) and stuck it into the holder thing and eventually, after some trial and error, got it to stand straight.
Then I put the red star on the top, which involved some clipping and trimming, then more clipping and more trimming and a little carving. (I was happy because I had a chance to use my Japanese carpenter’s saw.) The tree was so much too tall that not only the tip, but also the top tier of little branches had to go.
But we got the star on in the end, and didn’t damage the ceiling very much in the process.
We had received a little bit of friendly derision from family members when it was announced that we would be decorating the tree this year all by ourselves, for examples predictions of an “ADHD Christmas tree”, so we knew we had to have a plan.
This is the plan I came up with: because cats in the Pacific Northwest DO NOT climb Christmas trees due to there being cat-eating eagles at the tops of evergreen trees there (story my sister told me backs it up: a tree fell on her property one year in a storm, they found an eagle nest with a bunch of little dog and cat collars in it, minus the pets) we would put an eagle at the top of our tree. And because cats are afraid of snakes, according to the Internet, we would put a snake at the base. And because there is also a snake at the base of Yggdrasil (the tree of life of Nordic myth), that snake being the terrible serpent Níðhöggr, the eagle at the top of our tree could be the nameless eagle at the top of Yggdrasil, and so we would also need the squirrel Ratatoskr running back and forth between them, carrying messages.
Gamma and I were at an advent market at Schönbrunn a while ago and all we found was a felt squirrel, but no eagle or snake ornaments. I did however buy a deep-sea diver ornament along with the felt Ratatoskr.
So anyway we still need an eagle and a snake, maybe next year.
Alright. That was how the Yggdrasil plan played out this year – cute squirrel, in the upper third of the tree, with the deep sea diver.
That is because of our damage mitigation plan – cheap, sturdy, unpopular ornaments at the bottom, within cat range. Medium ornaments in the middle, where cats might jump, precious ones in the upper third. Then, candles everywhere. We now use LED candles, powered with one AAA battery each, because burning candles on a Christmas tree indoors scare me too much. Alpha bought 3 boxes of 15 candles each at a local discount supermarket and they are cool – not only can you choose between 2 shades of white, they also have an RGB mode where they cycle through the colors slowly, which is really hypnotic and makes me want to get high and watch it although we don’t really need to get high, we just turn off the TV and sit there on the sofa staring at the tree in the dark. (We like them so much Alpha bought 45 more but we still have to install them.)
And after the candles are on the tree, the chocolate. We overpurchased the chocolate ornaments (Mozartkugeln, chocolate umbrellas (those you hang with the little hook handle things), various chocolate ornaments, and, for the kiddies, little chocolate bottles filled with booze.
Then Gamma and I let the cats in and they were well-behaved for the most part, only 66% tried to climb the tree. Then Alpha came home later and kicked them out of the living room.
So now the cats are nonplussed and a little insulted and a little insecure, and when you enter the living room you have to first go into the kitchen, and close the outer kitchen door after clearing it of cats, airlock style, and only then can you go into the living room because if you don’t, no matter how careful you are, a cat will sneak in with you otherwise.
Between the end of Christmas tree season and the day the garbage truck collects our tree, we plan to leave it standing, sans ornaments, and grant the cats access to it.
But they don’t know that yet, all they know is they have been banned and they are mystified why. Certainly not that little bit of furniture scratching, or that negligible amount of peeing.
What could it be? They must be crazy, the humans.
Happy holidays to all who observe.
Tag Archives: cats
Mostly, it is up to you. I claim no expertise. An online search for this information turns up far more ingenious solutions than I could devise.
- 3:50 AM give up, go take pee, look at clock, wonder if you’ll get back to sleep before alarm goes off
- 5:00 AM wife shakes you, says “your alarm” which would be unnecessary, since you’ve been awake since 3:50, except you can no longer hear the first couple higher-pitched cycles of the alarm so, ok. You turn it off and get up.
- Let in cats. Feed cats. Close 2 doors so sensitive cat is isolated from the less-sensitive cats and can eat in peace. Turn on coffee machine. Open windows to air out downstairs.
- Go check the trap line. It’s still dark. One dish of beer has a few slugs. On the way to the other 2 dishes over by the echinacea a slug somehow gets into your Birkenstock. You do the “A slug got into my Birkenstock” dance but he holds fast so you take off the sandal and flick him into one of the beer traps, kerplunk. A dozen or so of his buddies are in there too.
- That’s fewer than usual lately, maybe you’re making headway. Maybe they’re hunkered down waiting for the hot weather to pass. Maybe they’re on the tomatoes.
- You’ll never know cause you have to go eat breakfast (slice of rye bread, butter, ham, Greek yogurt with blueberries + honey)
- One cat wants out. No not that door the other door. Then another cat wants out, but not the door the first cat went out, the other door.
- You tiptoe around while you do all this so your wife can sleep.
- But she gets up to make sure you don’t forget to throw lettuce and blueberries out the window for the tortoise.
- Throughout all this you have the idea of distance in your head. Maybe you had a dream. Distance between galaxies is the same as distance inside atoms, between the nucleus and the electrons, it’s mostly empty space, you think. And yet we find each other.
It was my first day of freedom following the expiration of my quarantine. The others still had a day or two to go.
We were sitting on the terrace chatting after eating noodle soup for dinner.
We were talking about dreams.
We talked about dream architecture. I mentioned my theory that houses in dreams represent aspects of our minds. Generously, no one mentioned that everything in our dreams represent aspects of our minds. Everyone described houses and other buildings they had dreamed of.
Houses I have dreamed of: repeated dream of standing on the street looking at a suburban single-storey green house in which a family has been murdered. Repeated dream of (imaginary) sex club in Seattle that, the last time I dreamed of it, had gone out of business. One-time dream of a friend’s house in which I was fighting a stranger to the death and he Would.Not.Die. no matter what I did, including stabbing him in the jugular with a shard of glass; a frustratingly thin stream of blood sprayed out.
Alpha went inside to talk to someone on the phone.
A cat took that opportunity to lick our soup bowls clean.
I told Gamma that, regarding the shirt-shopping nightmare I had described earlier (two understocked shirt shops that overlapped such that one could not tell where one shop ended and the other began, nor even where the real entrances were, and which carried no really nice shirts, just mostly factory rejects or oddly-styled and funnily-sized strange-fitting shirts with unusual or ugly patterns that I did not want) that I had yesterday been thinking about Uferlosigkeit and Grenzenlosigkeit (and wondering whether there was a significant difference between the two). (Something that is uferlos is unbounded, and grenzenlos would mean without borders).
Inside the house, Alpha said something that sounded as if she were wrapping up her conversation, so I carried the soup bowls into the kitchen and put them into the dishwasher so the cat wouldn’t get in trouble; but it turned out she was not done with her conversation after all.
Gamma asked me how my first day out of quarantine had gone. I said I had forgotten how to drive. When I took my car into the dealer for a check up, I had drifted too close to the shoulder, for example, and was not paying as much attention as I should have. And while at the dealer waiting for my car, I looked at Humans of New York on Instagram and the stories made me cry. I imagined an apprentice mechanic asking the mechanic, Gee did someone give Mr. Living his bill already?
That’s all I did today. Plus a little work. Plus I went grocery shopping and the cashier had to remind me to enter my PIN code.
I was going to take a walk but it’s too nice in the hammock now.
I’ll take a walk tomorrow.
I didn’t gain weight in quarantine (actually I lost a little) but my belly is fatter, which I guess means muscle mass is down.
Washing dishes, taking walks. Life is an endless struggle against entropy.
The essential question is, precisely which pheromones are in the shower gel you use that advertises “With Pheromones!!!1!”.
Most people will want a shower gel with human pheromones, and not, say, moth pheromones.
Or tiger pheromones.
This morning I woke up at 2am and couldn’t fall back to sleep for a long time. Hours.
At 4:20 I woke up to my wife opening the window and making a big deal about how much it had snowed at night.
I fed the cats. I got dressed. I gave my wife a cup of coffee and went outside and shoveled snow.
I went back inside, took a shower, ate breakfast at some point, had a cup of coffee, got re-dressed, shoveled more snow, went to work.
At the train station my long underwear relaxed and slid down and gathered around the low-water mark of my ass which is uncomfortable and I went into the restroom and hiked it back up and since then so far so good.
I dunno, did the cold weather paralyze the elastic? Am I getting a teeny old-man ass? Do I need a booty workout? The long johns are new, I got them for Xmas.
Question upon question.
Cat: (Takes hit of catnip) So — who would win in a fight, an accordion or a vacuum cleaner?
Other cat: (Engrossed in moving dot of sunlight on wall) Hrm. Hmm.
Cat: (Passes catnip) It might depend on the accordion.
Other cat: Yeah.
Cat: Right? Button accordion or piano accordion, right?
Other cat: Totally.
Cat: Not to mention unisonoric or bisonoric.
Other cat: And diatonic or chromatic.
Cat: (Takes another hit of catnip) And Mig’s has that extra button that makes the scary breathing noise.
Other cat: Mig’s could totally take a vacuum, hands down.
Cat: (Nods) I abhor…
Other cat: (Holds up paw) Don’t say it, dude.
Yesterday I remarked on FB that a co-worker whose monitor stands at an angle such that I cannot see it from where I sit was moving in such a way that I had to assume he was either watching K-Pop or had a snake in his shirt and of course someone (Ms. Jersild) asked ‘Why not both?’
Indeed, why not both?
Why NOT both?
This morning, snake shirt man has an earworm, apparently, because he is singing to himself and hitting the high notes like a castrato stepping over an electric fence.
Now he is eating cake and can’t sing and eat cake.
This morning, sitting on the stairs at home, I put a cat under my shirt, because of all this.
I guess an advantage of a cat is when you have a snake under your shirt you don’t know if it wants out or is just being a snake, but when a cat wants out you know.
Animals I have had under my shirt at one time or another:
- Adult dog
- Adult cat
- Spider, but not for long
- Other crawly things, especially ticks
- Chickens of various ages
- Adult human
- But no snakes yet
Gather round ya bastards
and I’ll teach ya a lesson
for pissing in all the corner
and pissing on my blinds
Yeah right snarf your food up
then it’s back out in the cold
cubic meters of litter
and ya piss on the toaster
too bad it wasn’t plugged in
Honey are you singing to the cats?
It calms them while they eat.
who pisses on blinds anyways?
who gets ideas like that?
only a cute little tuxedo cat.
who pees on appliances
on the stove, boiler and microwave?
it’s the fuzzy little grey psycho that’s who…
too bad it’s not snowing
and freezing with ice
i’d lock you out all day
it would make me feel nice…