Pygmy Tree and More Puking

Posted: December 11th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Holidays, Husbandry, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate | No Comments »

On Saturday I gathered the family in a stern holiday-spirit march and forced them out the door to Half Moon Bay, where a Google Search (TM) had informed me that there was “one of the largest choose-and-cut live Christmas tree farms in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Despite the fact that Kate barfed all over me in the Safeway parking lot the day prior, it seemed perfectly reasonable for me to pack her into the car for a 45-minute drive for Christmas-tree-cuttin’ fun.

About a half-hour into the drive she started kinda whimpering. I offered her water and cereal and she definitively shook them off. Then nearly 10 minutes to our destination I looked into the back seat and got some sort of telltale “I’m gonna spew” sign from Kate. Mark pulled over. Thankfully, giving her some fresh air seemed to intercept the sickies, but did nothing for our feeling of being bad parents for having taken her out.

At that point though, we were almost there, so we didn’t know what else to do other than persevere. At the entrance to the farm we stopped at a small hut that had a friendly “Pick up your saw here!” sign on it. After years of post-9/11 air travel, this seemed utterly disconcerting. Here is a venue that requires you to pick up a saw before entering. It was so perverse, I had Mark stop so I could take a picture.

The hot blonde local teen working the saw-hand-out hut gave us some spiel about where the different kinds of trees were and how it was we were to find and cut and pay for our tree. As we pulled away I confessed to Mark I didn’t really listen to/follow anything she’d said. And in an uncharacteristic moment he said he hadn’t either. (If he turns his brain off when we’re together too, what’s to become of us?)

Well before we had too much time to fret over not knowing where to go or what to do we stumbled upon the “warming hut” which was producing fake snow and trying really hard (and tragically) to give off some alpine woodsy cachet. We pulled over since I’d read there was some Santa-photo op, and with Kate’s poor performance with Santa the day before I thought we could traumatize her anew and/or hopefully get a good (and free!) picture for a holiday card.

But really what happened was we bought some over-priced slice and bake Christmas tree sugar cookies and Kate freaked out when we asked a stranger take our picture with a guy dressed in a Rudolph costume. Turns out she likes Rudolph as much (or little) as she likes Santa.

When we ventured out again for the project at hand—the contrived “we will cut down our tree as part of our tradition, damn it!”—we were totally confused by what the kinds of trees that Mark and I like are called. We were even uncertain that we liked the same kind. Mark seemed set on a short-pine tree, but I had no idea what the needle-length was of my ideal tree.

“I think I like Noble Firs,” I said, trying to sound cool. “Or wait, is it Scotch Pines?” So we drove around a labyrinth of dirt roads following little hand-painted signs and trying to figure out what it was we liked and wanted and where that might be found. In the few times we ventured out of the car, I cared less about getting a tree, and more about photo ops with Kate. Prop her up, take a picture, she falls forward planting her hands in the dirt and yelps, I brush it off and re-prop her for more photo fun. Yes, I was that Mom.

Finally, we found the type we both like—Noble, I think—and realized that all the Noble Firs were teeny. Or maybe at least in this little foresty nook where we were. Was this all the Nobles that they had? We did another lap and found another section, at this point getting well into overdueness for Kate’s afternoon nap. So, determined, we traipsed around and looked for The One.

And thankfully, even with Mark I do maintain some sort of awareness of what is reasonable for me to ask. What I really wanted to do was say, “I know this was my idea, and I dragged you all the way here, and Kate almost barfed on the way, but I really don’t like these trees and let’s just go back to the place 3 blocks from our house and get a tree there.” I kinda knew that saying that wasn’t so much an option.

But all the Noble Firs were so damned puny. I was hoping for majestic, and instead we got what we referred to as our Little Teapot Tree (i.e. short and stout). It ain’t tall, I tell you, but it makes up for its height with its girth! So, $75 later we left the tree farm. We cut our tree and had our experience and made our tradition, and now have a Charlie Browner of a tree to prove it.

Today Mark asked me if it was just him or was our cut-our-own-tree adventure not exactly the scene from LL Bean that I was hoping for. And I had to confess that it wasn’t. But it made me feel like Mark and I had come a long way.

It reminded me of the time when we were first dating when we decided to make our own pasta. We called Shelley and Don to borrow their pasta maker—a wedding present that was gathering dust even for them, hardcore cooks that they are. Mark and I decided to make a lasagna. and slaved over producing perfect pasta and our own sauce. The project took all day. I mean ALL DAY. And when we finally exhaustedly sat down to eat it, I had the horrible secret realization deep down inside that I couldn’t really tell that the pasta was homemade. And that maybe I’d actually even had lasagnas with store-bought pasta and jarred sauce that I even—gasp!—liked better. For shame. Of course, it was too early in our relationship to admit this to each other. So we both cooed over how delectable it was, hiding our secret disappointment.

It was kinda that way with our cut-our-own tree. Here’s all the trouble we went to, and we have an overpriced pygmy tree to show for it.

The next day we ran an errand at Ocean Supply Hardware, and as much as I was chanting internally, “Don’t look.” Don’t look,” I looked at the trees they had for sale in their parking lot and they had some really tall and beautiful Noble Pines for just $45. Oy.

Sunday evening we were invited to the neighbor’s for a Hanukkah party. And Mark had been moaning a bit about not feeling well, but truly I suspected 90% of it was a lack of desire to venture out to a party that wouldn’t be populated with all people he knows and loves. But he surprised me and rallied, coming to the party even when I said I was happy to pop over there solo with Kate. After a half-hour of chit-chattery with various folks, he looked me in the eye and said he was going home. By the time Kate and I got back 20 minutes later, I heard the retching from behind the closed bathroom door.

Kate’s Both Ends Flu has not only made its mark on Shelly, the nanny. Now Mark has fallen prey to it too, and spent today home from work moaning and, as he put it, “throwing himself a pity party.” And this morning when Shelly arrived, she looked green. She started feeling sick on Thursday and is still not in the clear—so I sent her home and called in a sick day for myself to care for Mark and watch Kate.

So now, with the two other people aside from me who are regularly in contact with Patient Zero Kate, I can’t help but feel that there’s a target painted on my forehead. It’s only a matter of time until this plague strikes me too. The pediatrician’s office today told me over the phone that, yes, this stomach virus is going around, and it takes 4-7 days to get over. (Mark was not too pleased to hear that.)

Shelly called tonight and still feels crummy, so it’s unlikely she’ll be here tomorrow too. So if you’re overcome with a desire to stop by Chez McClusky, know that I’ve nailed a large Quarantine sign on the front door. I’m just cowering inside by the overpriced pygmy Christmas tree, waiting for the sickness to strike me too.

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