Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sherlock Jacobson and the Case of the Fallen Fir

Christmas is right around the corner and it’s already been an interesting holiday season.  We spent Thanksgiving in Williston, North Dakota which was fun but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I wasn’t slightly uncomfortable with gas stations selling both AK-47s and Jack Daniels. 

From there, Adrienne and I set about the task of getting the homestead ready for the plethora of visitors we will be seeing over the last few weeks of the month.  We have my in-laws in town just before Christmas and then my family after that. 

It should be said that my wife loves all things Christmas.  I like Christmas, sure, I like seeing family and having a long weekend.  I like watching my girls get the things, which they believe in their individual heart of hearts, will complete them as people.  Adrienne is different.  Adrienne loves Christmas.  She loves decorating and planning and wrapping and shopping.  There are little things about Christmas that keep me from going ‘full-Whoville’ like my wife.  I am admittedly a touch claustrophobic and in the days it takes to it takes to decorate our home, the living room and family room become a mine field of large Tupperware containers and boxes.  Our plates change, our glasses, our door mat, furniture moves and so do the schedules.  I generally don’t fear change but the upheaval that the silly season brings can be a touch off putting. 

Last night, I was asked to stop for milk on the way home.  I went to the grocery store and while I was there I called my wife.  (Fellas, put this phone call in your ‘one less trip to the grocery life hack’ file.)  There was no answer.  It was strange but not so unusual.  I paid for the milk, left and called again from the parking lot.  This is a back-up call that either offers one more chance to get forgotten items or to leave a voice mail confirming that I thought to make both phone call ‘A’ and phone call ’B’. This phone call got her voice mail as well.  Curiouser and curiouser.  I set about the business of going home forgetting that I hadn’t gotten a hold of my better half.  It wasn’t’ until I opened my front door that I knew the reason for the radio silence. 

It seems that I had walked in just after the situation in the house had devolved.  Some of what occurs after this point is speculative.  What we know is this.  A catastrophe had befallen our Christmas tree.   Although the tree was upright, he floor was a cacophony of tree branches and ornaments. The tree skirt that the girls made their mother last year was soaked, presumably, with the water that had once been in the tree stand.  The dog was cowering behind the chair opposite the tree and the cat was nowhere to be found.  Of note: Phoebe the cat hates people so her being scarce is not entirely unusual. My children were scattered doing homework in several rooms and my wife was furiously scrubbing dishes in the sink.  The crime scene was set before me, Sherlock Jacobson set to work.    

I began evaluating the facts.  The girls scattered doing homework and not greeting me at the door asking for who knows what, means that they are scattered less by design and more by circumstance.  Something startled them into thinking homework was necessary regardless of where they were when it happened.  The cat being gone could mean several things, she was involved or she wasn’t, she’s scared or she isn’t, or could be bothered to care, or couldn’t.  The tree being upright but the ornaments being scattered shows an instant reaction. Setting the tree upright but then walking away from the rest is an act of frustration.  Pair that with the hurried way the flatware is being scrubbed confirms that.  The final piece of the puzzle is the cowering dog.  When added together, the untrained eye would propose that the dog was chasing the cat who then hid under the tree.  The dog, in turn, couldn’t slow fast enough and careened into the tree.  All of this happened just before Adrienne came home with the kids.  The kids scattered immediately and thought it best to be productive as to avoid the wrath that was developing.  The wife then propped up the tree to see the disaster underneath and upon seeing it she went to the kitchen to take out her frustrations on the dishes, sparing the dog in the spirit of the holiday. The dog still cowered because the noises coming from mom meant that while there hadn’t been a beating yet, it was still an option.  Finally, the cat was nowhere to be found because she either didn’t know or didn’t care.    

That…is the amateur reading. 

Here is the more likely scenario.  There is a firm chance that I could be blamed for not having put the tree stand not on well enough, or not wiring the tree to the wall or not training the dog to not jump into the tree after Phoebe or a variety of other reasons.  Its also possible that I am not to blame and Adrienne witnessed the whole event.  Its possible the kids were decorating and one of them made a misstep and toppled the whole thing.  Only one thing is for sure, it would be in my best interest to put the milk in the fridge and get to cleaning.  Case closed. 

The lesson here little girls?  Well, I guess that doing your homework during the calamity was a smart choice.  But more importantly, and we discussed this recently, it can absolutely be more important to be kind than to be right.  Realistically, I had nothing to do with the tree coming down, nor did you.  What we do know is that mommy had spent the day working on the tree and was now upset and trying to scrub the paint off of the dishes.  It wasn't important what happened, it was important that we helped fix it.  The same thing for you guys when you disagree.  Sometimes, it isn't important to be right.  The way my mom used to say it was "is this the hill you want to die on?".  I watched you girls fight over an extra balloon the other night.  You all had one but decided to fight about the extra one.  At the end of the day, you guys fought, got a lecture from yours truly and no one got the balloon...was that the hill you wanted to die on?  Probably not.  I had the same fights when I was a kid, and truth be told, they all seemed like the hill I wanted to die on.  All these years later, I can't even remember a single one of the fights.  All I remember is that they, along with your mom, are my best friends.  So, yeah, the tree wasn't my fault, but it was also not the hill I wanted to die on. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What'cha Talkin' 'Bout Williston?

Thanksgiving was an interesting time of year this time around.  My wife and I decided to take the girls to North Dakota to visit my brother-in-law and his family.  In true Grizwold style, we decided to visit a place called the Jewel Caves, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore on the way.

We loaded up the vehicle with snacks, three kids, two in-laws, the wife and yours truly and made our way into the great white north.  Twelve hour drive with three different tourist stops, what could go wrong?

First of all, the Jewel Cave is remarkable.  I'd never heard of it before our stop, but it really is incredible.  It has currently has had seventeen of it's miles discovered but it figures to be much larger, per our tour guide.  This is the same tour guide who turned out all of the lights to show us how predictably dark it is thirty stories underground.  A demonstration that one three year old objected to  and expressed her displeasure with a cry/scream hybrid.  The problem was the stand-off that ensued, the kid wanted to cry until the lights came up, the guide seemed to be unwilling to turn up the lights until she had finished her song and dance.  It was a careful dual in which the child finally won.

Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore were great, too.  Perhaps we went through a little quick, but still impressive.  Fun Fact #1: Mount Rushmore would fit entirely in the head of Crazy Horse, if you had the means and the inclination to do so.  Fun Fact #2: At the rate in which they are constructing the Crazy Horse Memorial, my grand kids will need to see their nineties to see the halfway point.  Fun Fact #3: Privately funded Crazy Horse cost around $30.00 to get the family into, National Park Mount Rushmore...$5.00.  There is a lesson in there about private companies and government agencies but I'm not sure what it is.  

Honestly the ride there was fairly uneventful, and Thanksgiving was nice.  My brother-in-law smoked a top loin that brought a tear to my eye.  It was so good I almost forgot about the fact that there would be not be my wife's 'Chardonnay Turkey' this year.  The problem, in truth, was the return trip.  No monuments, no tourist traps, just twelve hours with seven passengers, better than half of which picked up a flu in Williston, ND.  Fun Fact #4: In Williston, there are several gas stations that also sell firearms and liquor.  Nothing in the world says 'freedom' like being to pick up Skittles, an AK-47 and a liter of Jagermeister from the same store.  Fun Fact #5 The afore mentioned gas station also had a rack out front for processing your deer or elk.  That's actually more of a sticky fact as I didn't notice the carnage until it was too late for my Nikes.

The lesson this week, girlies?  I was apprehensive before making the trip.  I have never been a 'half the fun of any journey is the travel' kind of guy.  I'm more of a 'Xanax on the plane makes the flight quicker' person.  Maybe that's something for me to work on.  It was really a lot of fun.  I understand that you may not have seen a lot of the country side as your little faces were stuffed in iPads and the like, but it was really pretty.  There were a few bald eagles, deer and enough antelope to keep Williston in target practice for a decade.  The monuments were impressive, they and the cave reminded me of how small we really are in this journey we are on.  I suppose the real lesson is that this whole go-around is a journey, and it's best not to Xanax your way through it.


On a more somber note, over the Thanksgiving weekend, there was a car accident involving the son of a friend of mine.  It's been a rough few weeks for the Ryder family and it seems they are far from out of the woods.  I've never met Nash but the stock he comes from is about as good as it gets.  They are a very loving family and Mai, Nash's mother, is a very special lady.  If you have a few dollars and want to give, the karma you'll get back will be tremendous.  If you are interested, click HERE and chip in.