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Getting rid of old tree begins a clean sweep of critters

December 22, 2003

The cleaning spree started when I decided to give away the large Christmas tree I had stored in cartons in my basement. Each year I debated on whether to lug it up the stairs, put it together and lose my religion as I tried to string the lights on it. One year they were such a jumbled mess, I had to take them all off and try again. This brought on much crying and wailing and led me to say bad, little, unprintable words.

I had no experience in this part of decorating. My husband always put up the tree, strung the lights on neatly, then left the rest to me. I always loved the spicy fragrance of a live tree - that cedary aroma bringing back childhood memories.

When the kids were grown, going out and cutting down a tree no longer appealed to him, so we ended up with artificial trees.

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I had tired of the struggle with the big tree and when I saw a little tree at Molly's Florist, I decided then and there I would go for the smaller version. I decorated it with tiny decorations - I love miniatures - and have used it for several years.

After Christmas I carry it downstairs still decorated, throw a sheet over it, and take it out each year. Then abracadabra, I have a small but fully decorated tree.

Since the time had come to part with my big tree, one morning a fellow from our church came to pick it up. Not wanting him to keel over in a dead faint upon seeing the disarray in the storage part of my basement, I pulled it over to the not-as-messy side.

After he left, I got out my handy dandy little Dirt Devil and swept the floor where the cartons containing the tree had been. I decided that while I was at it, I'd just sweep the rest of the basement, getting down cobwebs that will be right back before I can say Jack Robinson. (Now who the heck is Jack Robinson anyway?)

You know how one thing leads to another, so I continued upstairs and decided to do something about the little clusters of ladybugs huddled together near the ceiling in the kitchen. It's really hard for me to kill ladybugs, since they're such cute, colorful bugs.

I had let them stay for a while, but decided their life span was limited anyway, so I'd suck them up in the sweeper. I guess this actually kills them, but I'd like to think they're lying all cozy and comfy amidst the soft lint in the sweeper bag where they will hibernate for the winter.

Then, it was time to deal with the crickets. I can't kill a cricket, as it's supposed to be bad luck. I'm not all that superstitious but for good measure I try to lure them out the door without killing them.

I ignored the ones that ended up in the basement until I was told they will eat your clothes. It's bad enough to have to worry that moths will chow down on your garments, feasting and yumming up your woolen coats and jackets.

Still, I'd almost rather have the moths as smell those atrocious mothballs. I did buy some this summer, since a salesperson told me sprinkling them around would keep cats out of the garden.

I could go on and on about our neighborhood menagerie of cats, but it's a rather long story that could easily contain more of those naughty, little words I spoke of earlier. Since it's the season to be jolly, I will try to think of something positive to say. I decided the cats do have one good quality. They keep mice away, creatures that frighten and repulse me beyond all words. I think I could face a snake more easily than a mouse.

Enough about pests. The time is here for partridges in pear trees, reindeer dancing and prancing on rooftops and all that jazz. I'm thinking of writing Santa and telling him what nice little gifties our neighborhood kitty cats would make for the wide-eyed boys and girls asking for pets. The large collection would make nice stocking stuffers.

So kiddos, get your stockings hung, and you might want to use extra-large ones for the really fat cats.

Norma Buchanan lives in Danville.|12/21/03***

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