I don’t know how these years get away from us so quickly – here we are, less than two weeks left in 2011, and I still feel like January 1st was only about two or three weeks ago. Time flies – apparently that old saying was penned by someone right around my age, which is about 8 in dog years. I guess I should start by re-introducing myself, as it’s been quite a while since this organization last released a newsletter. Hello, my name is Churchill Barton, I tape boxes shut for a company called BrettunsVillage.Com up here in Maine, and I wear long underwear from November to March (not the same set the whole time). Here at BV I have several duties, and one of them is sort of loosely defined as ‘coming up with drivel to broadcast on a semi-regular basis.’ I’ve been running at about a D minus this year, but have my excuses all lined up, like out-of-state cars at the toll plaza on the Maine Turnpike on 4th of July weekend. My biggest and best excuse is the growth of our vast empire – it’s been a great year, thanks to you customers, and we greatly appreciate your continued support. I mean it. Busy? I guess so. 2011 has been a year of continuous growth for us, and we’ve broken every sales record we had in the past and drove right through the goals we set for 2011 like green corn through the new school teacher. Let me give that one a second to sink in.
Merry Christmas! Hope you’ve had time to get your shopping done and that you’ve taken time to read each and every word of all those e-mails you’ve been getting from every company you ever purchased anything from online, including the ones yesterday and today reminding you that “there’s still time for gift certificates!” and I don’t know about you but I can’t read the word ‘Delete’ on my keyboard anymore as I’ve worn it clean off. The holidays are upon us, time is running out, and pretty soon we’ll all be taking a nap on Christmas afternoon. You’ll have some Scotch tape stuck to your fingers, and a ribbon stuck to the bottom of your dooryard slippers, and a pile of interesting gifts like shirts that may or may not fit, depending on how the turkey gravy turns out this year, ties that were engineered to not match any garment ever made in the history of this or any other planet, and one of those calendars that gives you 365 bits of wisdom, quotes, recipes, definitions, or wit, even though your favorite thing about it is that when you tear a day off the darned thing you can turn it over and it makes pretty decent note paper. Congratulations.
Our eldest is home from college as of last night – Becca zipped home on a direct flight from DC to Portland, and it’s just incredible to have her home. My Mom flew in yesterday too, all the way from FL, and she mentioned something about it being a bit cooler here then there I think. Throw in the two dogs (That Dog and This Dog) and the house is buzzing now, though it reminds me that a year from now we’ll have two of them jetting home for Christmas break, as our youngest, Hayley, is in the midst of applying to schools now (accepted at 3 of 3 so far – you go, Hayster!). We’re planning an all-out attack on the Freeport shopping scene for tomorrow night – always a lot of fun. Sure, it’s usually about ten degrees and this is sidewalk shopping – not a mall – so it usually leaves the face feeling a bit taut, but the village is always decorated nicely, and there’s a whopper of a Christmas tree in the square, so it makes for a nice holiday evening. I can’t wait. I’ve got some last minute shopping to do too, but LL Bean will be open 24 hours, no problem at all, in case my list includes a flannel backpack warmer or snowshoe storage rack with matching lawn chairs. We’ll have fun in Freeport – wave if you see us; we’ll wave back.
Nobody’s asked me yet, and I want you to know I’ve been waiting for it – listening intently, but it just flat hasn’t happened. Nobody’s asked me what I want for Christmas this year. I’ve been working on the list, but, if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have been a BV newsletter subscriber for a while you know about my list. I can’t make a list of what I want for Christmas – the only thing that ever comes to mind is an Oreo cookie, and my in-laws always take care of me there. Instead, I can think of things that I know I sure as shootin don’t want. It’s my Annual ‘Things I Don’t Want for Christmas’ list. Haven’t heard of it? You’re about to.
Things I Don’t Want for Christmas, 2011
I have a cell phone. Want the number? Sorry, I don’t give it out. I figured out a long time ago that if you give out your cell phone number some people will actually call. Drives me nuts, and interrupts the flow of order processing here at HQ. A friend of mine gives out his cell phone number to everyone he knows, and I think his phone even has a way of embedding its number into your phone if you just get within range or something like that. He’s always looking at that thing, moving his thumbs around, twiddling with this or that. “What are you doing?” I asked the other day. “Updating my Facebook status,” he says, plain and simple. “To what?” I asked. “Going to Starbucks,” he said. Great – I’m sure the entire free world is glad to know that you’re ditching work to go to get a cup of Joe. Through your cell phone? I’m so old I can remember when cell phones were for making and/or receiving phone calls. That’s still all I ask of my phone. I don’t need it to be able to sit in a cradle and pretend it’s a GPS unit (see last year’s list and the year before if you’d like my opinion on GPS units), nor do I need it to have common constellations on it, nor maritime law summaries nor fashion tips for those who prefer loafers over lace up shoes, and I sure don’t need it to update my Facebook status to something so life-threateningly crucial as “I’m going for coffee.” That’s just me. Don’t get me one of these for Christmas.
When’s the next presidential election? Come on, quick. Next November? The year after that? You don’t know, do you? Not 100% sure, am I right? That’s because the political ads started about ten minutes after the last election. Not that you were going to give me a political ad for Christmas anyway, but I’ve had it with these things – grant me a little literary leeway here. I don’t watch much TV – no time for it really, so I try to be very selective about what I watch. When I finally decide that there’s an important program on the tube, and it’s worth my time to sit down and watch it, I’ll be darned if I want to see political ads on there while the Red Sox are making a pitching change. Knock it off. I think political ads should only be allowed for two weeks before the election. Unless the World Series falls during that time frame, in which case political ads should be cut out altogether.
On account of this rather rural lifestyle we enjoy here in Maine (which is how we put a positive spin on the fact that not many people live up here anymore) your basic television reception can be a bit spotty. If you don’t mind shoveling snow off the roof so you can clamber up there and turn the antenna toward Bangor for CBS, Portland for ABC, Lewiston for NBC, and I guess straight up for Fox because you’ll need help from Up Above to get that one to come in, then rural television viewing is a snap. It’s taken a few decades but now they’ve run cable along many of our rural roadways, giving many of us the chance to finally sign up for cable. So we did. Three days later they announced an improvement, more channels, just a little more money each month. Then the phone service - add that one. More channels, and pay-per-view, and 22 versions of Showtime, and HBO Gone Wild, Spring Break Addition, and there I was the other evening, looking at the channel guide, and there was a channel number that was higher than 1000. I kid you not. I found over 20 channels of nothing but hockey games. Three hunting channels (“We’re here today in rural Ohio hunting with Bob Trousergas and – whoa – there’s a 28 point buck right there – bang – well folks thanks for tuning in”) and enough already. Please don’t give me any more cable upgrades for Christmas. I may refuse to accept them, right after I go through them, one channel at a time, from start to finish. Just to see what’s on.
I don’t need an iPad or an iPhone. You lost me at iTunes and the weird way that even after I bought the three songs I liked on the entire planet I couldn’t play them on anything other than something from the company store. Steve Jobs, rest in peace, and I respect your sheer genius, but like Roy Rogers said better than anybody ‘Don’t fence (my music) in’ which is available for only $1.00 plus tax and did anyone notice that last year it was 99 cents? No thanks. Free my music. Dude.
High Definition TV – what’s the point? I don’t need to see the eyelashes on the pitcher or the catcher. My eyes are bad anyway, so let’s just let this one go. Sorry, Santa. Return to sender. Three years in a row – this one may never get off this list.
By the way, and this will be a brief intermission right here, a few words from our sponsor. We’re selling some very nice bison hides that were intended for use as upholstery. One of our favorite tanneries has started this as a new product line and the hides are awesome. We’ve got three colors at the moment, and the hides are very soft, and even when they just sit there on the shelf they scream ‘Go West, Young Citizen’ and it’s really getting annoying. They’re selling very well for us as our customers have been grabbing them for garments, couches/chairs, and even wall coverings. These are hides from USA bison, and many of them are branded CNN. You’ll figure it out.
The Deal of the Week has been nuts lately, and thanks to those of you who zero your sights on that sale every Wednesday morning. It’s really helping us to make some room in the warehouse, which we just fill right back up again with bison or cow or goat or sheep or elk leather. Like us on Facebook and you’ll get a friendly reminder each Wednesday morning to check out the DOTW. This is just the sort of excitement you need in the middle of the week. Trust me.
A rare, oak slat trunk is listed on our ‘Trunks For Sale’ page. Ten years ago these trunks sold for $3000 a piece. With the global economic U-turn ours isn’t even half that amount. It’s a nice looking trunk, and if you don’t mind shelling out most of your 401K to UPS we can still ship it overnight and have it under your tree for Christmas.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled painful reading experience.
McRib. It’s not ribs, it never was ribs, and it’ll never be ribs. Thanks just the same. While we’re at it, I don’t believe I have any use for all those ‘food-like products’ that seem to fill the grocery store shelves. You can fill your cart in there without ever getting any real food. Read the label – if it’s got more than four ingredients then put it back and move along. None of us need that garbage and certainly none of us should eat it. Except BBQ Fritos, which are approved by NASA for space missions and have been shown in lab tests to be part of a balanced diet. I love those things. The rest of it though – don’t need it. Stick to the produce section and the meat counter.
Next time you’re trying to wake up and find yourself staring into a bowl of Cap’n Crunch just take a good look at it and ask yourself how we got from crops, hoof, and claw to this. Ribs my eye.
I like Christmas music. Like you, I’ve got my favorites, most of which are a few years old. I like Andy Williams and Der Bingle and Dean-o. I’m having a little trouble convincing myself that Lady Gaga’s “Hey Santa Gimme a New Tattoo” or Snoop’s “I’ll Bust a Cap in Your $*! Elf Boy” have what it takes to become a timeless classic. Can’t we just leave well enough alone here? Last Friday evening I heard just the very beginning of some guy calling himself Bruno Pluto or something like that singing “Chicks Want Sensitive Gang Members for Christmas” and I’m telling you plain flat out that I almost drove what’s left of the Corporate Dodge Limo/Truck into Taylor Brook. While I was gathering my wits in that inky darkness of a cold Maine night I changed stations to the other one we have up here and was treated to “Give me Gold, Claus Man, or Die Trying” by some guy who decided to name himself after pocket change. I think. Go watch ‘Holiday Inn’ and listen to the music. It’s pretty good. I don’t need any new Christmas CDs from anyone wearing big gold chains or with metallic objects sprouting out of their kisser. No sirree Bob.
Flashing Christmas lights. To each thine own, but you can keep your flashing Christmas lights in thine, not where I can see them. I think the frequency of the flashing does something to my brain – I know it takes over my thoughts completely and makes me want to... well, the neighborhood will never be the same and the screams would be heard all the way to Calais (rhymes with palace, Mr. Outta-Stater). Pick a nice color – we can all see them just fine. They don’t need to flash.
Just now I heard on the radio (station #1) that the roads are icy and a lot of cars are off the road. A good night to be a tow truck driver I guess. We have a lot of folks in Maine who spend their free time walking in our state’s roadside ditches. They find fiddleheads in the Spring, and Maine Roadway Nickels throughout the year. Here’s how it works: When you buy a six pack of your favorite Friday night paycheck celebration brew you pay 30 cents extra for it than you would if you were, say, right next door in New Hamster. Maine charges an extra 5 cents per can, but when you go to the redemption center you get your cans/bottles/jugs/flasks counted and they give you all those nickels back. Apparently a lot of my fellow Mainers speed along our roadways on their way to very important meetings with very influential people, and the last thing they need is for Mr. or Ms. Bigshot to ratchet into the vehicle only to find beer cans rolling around the floor boards, so, being a very business minded populace, Mainers heave their cans out the window. If you’re running short of cash you just go wander the roadside and pick up Maine Roadway Nickels. It’s easy work, and you might find some old tire weights that can be used as fishing sinkers if you ever get invited back on your cousin’s boat again after the incident with the flare gun. Maybe. Anyway, from the sounds of the weather our roadside money pickers may get lucky tomorrow morning and find themselves a fancy European sports car in the ditch, right next to the Allen’s Coffee Brandy bottle (known as LPR in Maine and don’t think for a minute I’m going to tell you what it stands for if you don’t already know). I guess this topic doesn’t have anything to do with what I do or don’t want for Christmas; I guess I just hope we all make it home safe this evening. I just went out to check the parking lot with This Dog (Indie, almost a year old now) and we both did some pretty fancy gyrations trying to stay up on our own two/four feet.
Pitch black at 4:10 pm today, with this ice on the ground and rain falling, but there’s good news here. Check the date – its December 21st. Tomorrow is the first day of summer. Sort of. The days start getting longer again – we’ll be gaining a minute or three of daylight each day from here until June 21st. Sure, we’ve got three months of winter to get through, and then the muddy, black fly-infested phase that we call Spring. Take heart, loyal newsletter victims – things are looking up.
I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, and as always, I wish you a few moments of peace and quiet so that you have time to do something that you want to do – something that you just flat haven’t had time for all year long, whatever it may be. For me it’ll be flying my radio control helicopter. Don’t ask. My annual sip of some distilled beverage, and some time with my gals – All six of them (Amanda, our two daughters, my Mom, and Those Dogs). I’m looking forward to these simple things. Don’t get me a sweater shaver.