A Water-Logged White Christmas

So every year my family goes and cuts down a Christmas tree. And this year, things did not go as expected.

So it rained.

Which was good. California really needed it. But because of fire and storm the place we usually go to was closed.

So we had to drive over an hour away, wait an hour to process for permits (never had to do that before), and then drive another hour away.

When we got there, the snow was super deep. The banks went up to your knees and thighs, depending on the area. It was such hard work. We couldn’t drive up to the tree cutting allowed area, as the snow was so deep, we had to hike in.

NoooooooooooooooS

While it was raining, which turned into sleet-and snow.

So it was hard to look for a tree with the snow, as my family we all wear glasses-so quickly fogged up and covered in rain.

Then the chainsaw broke so we are all sitting out there standing in the snow and getting even more soaked then we already were.

We finally got the tree, but the rest of the group couldn’t help, so my sister and I are trying to drag this huge 14 foot tree through the crazy deep snow.

Ugh

And finally we were ready to go. It was so wet that my gloves were full of water and falling off of me, my jacket so soaked it was drippingly full-the rain had gotten through my coat and on my shirt, pants and leggings, etc. I felt like Marianne Dashwood.

[after Marianne has first met Willoughby]

Elinor: Marianne, you must change. You will catch a cold.

Marianne: What care I for colds when there is such a man.

Elinor: You will care very much when your nose swells up.

Marianne: You are right. Help me, Elinor.

But even though it was a lot of work-and we all were soaked it was still fun. Even though after we got home, changed, and ate-all I wanted to do was sleep.

For more stories on cutting down our Christmas tree, go to Winter Wonderland

For more Marianne Dashwood, go to The Austen Series: Reason and Romance

Winter Wonderland

So do you all remember my post last year on chopping down our Christmas tree? I talked about how hard and heavy it was and the way the tree kind of beat me up.

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Well this year wasn’t as painful, but it was just as interesting.

So every year after Thanksgiving my family drives up to the mountains to chop down our Christmas Tree.

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So some of you think that it seems like a ton of trouble but cutting down your tree is way better than buying it off the lot.

1) The permit to cut down a tree only costs $10. That means you can get as big a tree you want for only ten bucks! For instance we got a 13 foot tree for 5% of the cost of  buying one from a lot.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

2) Cutting down your Christmas tree is very good for the environment.

Say What

 I know many of you have just read that and are probably saying to yourselves this girl is stupid, but just hear me out. You see trees grow in clumps and while that is a great thing as they share resources, protect each other, pollinate each other, etc. However, at times this can be bad. Sometimes trees grow too close together that they are unable to get their share. Often times one, or all, the trees will die as there isn’t enough to go around. Cutting down your own Christmas tree from one of the clumps means that one side might be a little thinner (you just aim that side in the corner) and it helps the other trees grow big and strong. Also periodically clearing out sections of trees protects them in the summer when there are threats of forest fires. And of course, this cutting isn’t a free for all. You can only cut from certain sections, therefore protecting a wider majority of trees. You also have restrictions on the tree size. Your trunk can only have a diameter of 6 inches and there is a restriction of high the stump can be. These regulations keep older trees protected, along with making sure people are not cutting off the tops and leaving the rest of the tree.

That's a lot!

That’s a lot!

3) Cutting your own tree means that it will last longer. You see one of the biggest problems with tree lots is that these trees are cut at the end of November, shipped over to the city they will be sold, and hanging around on pavement until they are given a home. They are not getting the same TLC or water and a lot of them die really early, shedding tons of pine needles along the way. Now when you cut your own tree, it is nice and fresh and lasts much, much longer. As I said we always get our tree at the end of November and take it down at the end of January. We could keep it up longer, but usually by February we are packing up our Christmas stuff. Besides longevity, it also smells absolutely wonderful.

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So this year we were gearing up to go, when we were called up by some friends of the family, the Nelsons. They’ve seen our trees and wanted one for themselves, so they asked to join us.

Double double yay

30 mins later, another family called, the Salamancas. They also wanted to join us, the more the merrier.

AWESOME!!!

And not too long after that, the Hawkins called and wanted to come too.

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So the next day, the day after Thanksgiving, we headed up the mountain caravan style. When we got there we got one big surprise. Snow!

Now you may recall me stating again and again how California has been in a drought the past few years. I mean, yes, we have had a few rainstorms but no one was expecting this. Of course when we saw it, we were all kinds of excited!

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Now we may only be like an hour or so away from the snow, but where I live it never snows. It may get under 30 degrees, but if it does it will never rain.

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 We never get a white Christmas, the closest we ever come to it is a wet one.

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And after like three years of going to the mountains and getting nothing, we finally had snow once again!

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Of course I always dress for the snow, even when there isn’t anything, just because it is cold up there. But my family is the only one who was prepared that way. Everybody else had the wrong shoes, jackets, etc. Oops!

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In fact there was so much snow that we weren’t even able to go to our usual tree cutting spot. The road was just covered in snow and black ice, in fact we almost got stuck at one point.

OMG gasp

So we went back down the mountain, found a spot, and began the search for the perfect tree.

It was hard going, even harder than last time as the snow blinded us and made every tree look amazing. But upon closer examination, they were not quite what we wanted.

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At one point it felt like we were never going to find it.

Reality Sucks

But then we found it. A beautiful 13-footer.

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But then came the problem of cutting it down.

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You see we had forgotten to bring the chain saw, and instead only had a regular saw. A saw which is very hard to cut down the tree with.

We all tried, but it was hard with that sap. However, thanks to our extra help we were able to get it down and to the road.

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When we reached the road, we discovered we had walked really far away from our cars. So my dad went to get our truck while we waited.

Now by this time it wasn’t really snowing, but it had gotten colder and icy. The roads were completely covered in ice.

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My dad drove down the hill, but when he tried to get back up to us, he almost got stuck in the side of the road as he started swirling off the road on the ice.

OMG gasp

Luckily my dad was able to drive in reverse and get out of the ice so we could put the tree in the back of our truck.

When we got home it started raining, and we had to get our tree into the house in the wind, rain, and the dark. But it was all worth it. It looked absolutely beautiful when we put it up in our house and decorated it.

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A absolutely beautiful tree.

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For more on cutting down the Christmas tree, go to O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

For more on White Christmas, go to Sisterly Roles

For more stories from my everyday life, go to A Baker’s Four Dozen

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So today’s Christmas Carol is not Winter Wonderland as let’s be honest, it’s not even really about Christmas. Instead today’s song is I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. The song was written by Irving Berlin and was sung by Bing Crosby, originaly in Holiday Inn, although at the time it was overshadoed by Be Careful It’s My Heart.

For me this wasn’t the first place I heard the song. The first time I was  introduced to the song was in the Christmas special claymation, The First White Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow. In it one of the nuns, Sister Theresa, sings about how she misses the white Christmases from her hometown.

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However my favorite version comes from the film Holiday Inn, the first film to showcase the song.

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I think the way that Bing sings it in this film is much better than the way the group does it in White Christmas. In Holiday Inn it just sounds so much more personal and meaningful.

Plus I like that movie better.

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For more on The First White Christmas, go to 25 More Films of Christmas

For more on Holiday Inn, go to the 25 Films of Christmas

For more Christmas carols, go to Fah Who Foraze, Dah Who Doraze, Welcome Christmas

That Video…is Not of This World: Ringu (1998)

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This kind of thing… it doesn’t start by one person telling a story. It’s more like everyone’s fear just takes on a life of its own

On April 13, 2011; I was chilling with my friends when I suddenly recalled it is Friday, April 13th!

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It’s Friday the 13th! We must watch a scary movie! We weren’t satisfied with what we had in the dorm so we headed out to the library and checked out what they had. We were looking out the horror section, when my friend Freda saw Ringu and said that we should watch it since she had heard it was really creepy. I was totally down for that, and I have to agree that it was pretty creepy, but did have some dull moments.

So the film starts out with two girls hanging out one night.

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One starts joking with the other, telling her about a story she heard about these people checking out a strange video, and later they recieved a call saying they would die in seven days. It quickly goes from funny too serious when the other girl, Tomoko, tells her friend that she saw the video and got the call. Her seventh day is tonight. She then says she was just kidding, and that it’s no big deal, she’s going to be fine. However the two go downstairs, Tomoko is killed by some unseen force. Her friend then goes into shock and has to be put in a mental institution. This scene is pretty creepy.

Tomoko’s aunt Reiko Asakawa is a journalist and comes over for the memorial, bringing her son.

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She feels that something is not right, as there has to be more to the story. She starts going through some of Tomoko’s stuff and finds a strange picture of Tomoko and her and friends at a cabin in Izu. In the photo all the kids’ faces are blurred out. All the kids in the photo are also dead.

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 Reiko  goes down to the cabin in Izu and finds a strange tape, intrestingly it is not the orginal piece but a copy.  Reiko watches it and it is full of strange images that don’t seem to make any sense. At the end the image cuts off and snow flurries take over the screen.

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Immediately after, the phone rings and the voice on the phone says she only has seven days to live.

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The rest of the film is now counted in days as  Reiko’s time is limited.

Reiko goes to see her ex-husband, Ryūji Takayama. One thing they never explain is that Ryūji is a psychic. This is part of the reason why the two broke up as Reiko couldn’t deal with it. Reiko goes to him to tell him he might have to care for their son if she should die. Ryūji doesn’t believe her, so she forces him to take a picture of her. In the pic her face is blurred.

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Ryūji works with media and asks to see the video hoping to figure something out. Reiko doesn’t want to show it to him but gives in. He gets a call too. She also makes him a copy to study.

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Ryūji  is able to discover a phrase “frolic in brine, goblins be thine” hidden in the video, a saying that came from Izu Ōshima Island. That night, Reiko catches her son watching the tape and is now more than ever determined to discover how to defeat the thing that is killing people. Reiko and Ryūji team up and travel to the island to find out more.

On the island they discover that there used to be a great psychic Shizuko Yamamura. A doctor was working with her, showcasing her powers, but she was denounced a fake and disappered from sight.

The two find the doctor that was working with Shizuko and discover that the doctor had a deeper relationship with Shizuko than just studying her. He was her lover. Shizuko and him sired a child, Sadako, who was uncontrollable. She killed all the horses because they were disturbing her, killed people, etc. The father couldn’t handle her after the mom died and killed her by throwing her down a well. However, that didn’t completely kill Sadako as she psionically put her  vengeful spirit into the tape. This spirit or Onryō killed the teenagers.

The two go back to the Cabin because that is where the videotape surfaced. They uncover a well and try to empty it to appease her spirit. Minutes before the seven days are up, Reiko finally finds Sadako’s corpse at the bottom. She hugs her and kisses her forehead, giving her “a mother’s love”. When nothing happens to Reiko, they believe that the curse is broken.

All seems fine until the next day. Ryūji is at his home and his TV switches on by itself showing the image of a well. The ghost of Sadako crawls out of the well and out of Ryūji’s TV set.

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This wasn’t very creepy which disappointed me. I mean that was the whole buildup right? Well it just seemed very fake to me as she takes FOREVER to crawl across the floor.

So as Ryūji is dying he manages to dial Reiko’s number. She realizes the curse wasn’t broken and tries to figure out wat she did differently. She goes over everything she’s did in the past seven days and realizes what she did that Ryūji didn’t–copying the tape and showing it to Ryuji.  Reiko figures out that by having her son make a copy and give it to someone is the only way to save her son. The last shot is her driving to her father’s and talking to him on the phone letting him know that her son has a video to show him. (I know HORRIBLE BETRAYAL)

It was pretty creepy and compelling, but the last part when Sadako comes was just not creepy. But this film is worth a watch. What’s interesting is that the director Kôji Suzuki got his inspiration for the Ringu novel, which the film is based on, from his favorite horror movie Poltergeist.

Here is a cover page/poster for facebook I made as part of my countdown to Halloween.

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