Well, we've reached the solstice so I guess we'll be stepping into the realm of 'Winter' a little later today, and I'm ready. You know how it is up this way in Maine ' the days are pretty short right now, the nights are long and a bit on the cool side (the 'below zero ' kind of cool). Starting tomorrow we'll be gaining daylight, day by day, though it's difficult to notice it much in January and February. By March though, you notice that you can see threads of daylight in the Eastern sky at five o'clock-ish am as you coast the pick-up down Goff Hill, heading toward the bridge at Great Falls. By May you'll be wearing sunglasses on this same stretch, but you don't need shades right now. We're seeing the sun for only about nine hours a day, which is why I always call December 21st 'The First Day of Maine Summer.' It's my own little message of hope; a hope that centers on not having to wear long underwear day in and day out.
Sorry to be out of touch most of the year. We've had some business management issues to deal with, and will be chalking up the year to improving our web expertise. The vast and expanding Brettuns Village empire has been on a roller coaster ride this year; a ride that came complete with a search engine scare and let me state right here to all you web types that prior to this past summer I thought SEO meant something like 'Save Every Oreo' or maybe 'Start Early, Oscar' but it turns out it means Search Engine Optimization and if you have any interest in your web based business showing up on Google or Bing or Yahoo or I'm sure there must be others then, brother, you'd better do some SEO work from time to time. OK, we get it now. Tough summer and early Fall though. Once we figured it out things sure did bounce back, mostly thanks to you, our customers. Greatly appreciated, and when I say that I want you to know that I mean it from the very bottom of our College Tuition Savings Program (two and a half years to go!).
Got your shopping all done? Me neither. I planned to get done early. I gave it a lot of thought back in October even, but then things got busy and now I know there's one thing I bought but I can't remember where I hid it so I guess I'll start over again this weekend. Wave if you see me out there, stumbling around central Maine, looking for glow in the dark towels or electric underwear warmers or exercise equipment that looks exactly like cinder blocks but comes with a video ('Great job! Now take your wall apart, one block at a time, move it over 40 feet, and put it back up again. Feel the burn!'). I'll wander up and down aisles, pick up something, look at it for a minute, then put it back. I wait for that jack-bolt of inspiration to hit ' and when it does I head to the register, say hi to Gladys, and then I'm off to the next spot. I'll be looking for a few things, but, as you already knew if you've been a subscriber for a while, the list in my pocket will be long, but it won't contain items I want to find ' no sir. It'll be a list of the stuff I don't want for Christmas. So here, without further ado, for the tenth year running, is your old pal Churchill's List of Stuff I Don't Want for Christmas:
It's looking pretty Christmasy around here, thanks to a couple of good snow storms in the last week or so, and more snow plus the rip-roaring pleasure of an ice storm predicted for this weekend (gas up the generator!). The neighbors and yours truly have been running snow blowers, those funny little electric snow shovels, and our manual snow shovels quite a bit. The Farmer's Almanac says we're in for a whopper of a Winter, so item one on the list of stuff I don't need is a gym membership. Very few of you need this either, unless you can buy one for three visits per year, which you and I and Indie all know is exactly how many times you made it the last time you shelled out all that loot for a one year membership. Go shovel snow. In Florida? Shovel sand. I don't care what it is, just shovel it. No gym membership.
Slingbox: I have no earthly idea what this is but it makes me picture that guy with the weird, low voice in that movie 'Slingblade' or was it 'Swingblade' or whatever ' I don't care but every time I hear 'Slingbox' I picture that guy standing at the foot of my bed at about 3 am and I'm telling you it's darned unsettling. It's off the list.
Heating Oil: OK, so this is almost a necessity up this way but what used to be appreciated at 62 cents/gallon is now officially despised at $3.50/gallon. We're burning wood, mostly, and have plans to add a pellet furnace soon, so our fuel will be renewable, and when I say 'renewable' I mean it GROWS BACK in a decade or so, which seems to be somewhat of an improvement over the 32 million years that's required to convert dead plankton and vegetable matter into petroleum. Folks used to give gift certificates for heating oil to their loved ones at Christmas, or you could win a coupon at the local fund raiser over to the high school, but now everyone's so mad about the cost of oil that you don't see that sort of thing anymore. Good riddance.
Wireless ANYTHING: OFF the list. The outdoor temperature sensor. The stereo speakers that sit on the patio. The light switches, fan rheostats, garage door openers, car starters, etc that work at the push of a button with no wires needed at all ' these 'cool' things work for about ten days, as you well know, and I'm not entertaining any comments on this about the remote thingamajig you have that just works so well all the time because no it doesn't and just wait til the next time you try it. No more wireless stuff! Except the light switch that lights up our two Christmas deer out by the pear tree. They look cool. Also except for Amanda's remote car starter that allows her to get the heat going and the seats heated up. I don't have a remote starter for my truck but I guess I do have a seat warmer if you count me letting Indie into the front seat fifteen minutes before we leave the driveway in the pitch black (as described above) whilst I scrape the frost off the windows. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure let me just mention that Indie is the Brettuns Village Corporate Spokes Model and Black Lab. She does NOT have a wireless training collar that makes the tips of her hair smoke when you press the button. I trained her. She's trained. No wireless collar required. Good dog.
Quick, don't think, just tell me right now what your heart rate is? QUICK! Come on!! What? You DON'T KNOW? It's a wonder you're still alive. Don't you know you need a heart rate monitor strapped to you every time you go for a walk from here to there or maybe ride your bike or even just sit up in bed? Don't you need to know your heart rate at all times? No? Me neither. Let's move on.
Now this next thing I want to mention is, well, oops, hang on'. Give me a second here' Oh I see, the computer is telling me that some software needs to be updated. I was just going to say that this year another thing I don't need is, whoops'hold it' restart? I guess one thing I don't want is software that isn't finished yet. Am I over-simplifying this whole mess? Sell it when it's finished. I wouldn't buy a half-way finished pizza nor pickup truck nor best selling novel, so why do I have to buy half-way finished software? Is my time not valued at all? Restart ' just the word itself sounds so easy, but man oh man it takes FOREVER. I don't need any new software this year. Unless it's finished.
More fiber in my diet ' I don't think I need it. Somewhere out in the world of Gigantic Food Generators there seems to be an effort to add fiber to just about everything. It's in your breakfast cereal, your sandwich bread, your juice, your crackers, and even in your chewing tobacco. Is this some plot launched by the last remnants of some Communist regime that's still hanging out there in Siberia or wherever? Add more fiber, and the Americans will be busy when we launch our missiles. You're darn right we're busy ' we'll be in the bathroom. No more fiber in my diet ' just EAT YOUR AGE and pay attention to be sure you get lots of colors on your plate and you'll be fine. Not guaranteed.
Seen those magazine ads for steak lately? Holy cow do those ads make me hungry. The steaks are about two inches thick and they're juicy and cooked to perfection and brother can you spare me a Porterhouse, but then you read the ad and they want to mail the steaks to you. Up our way they're either going to arrive green and smelly or frozen solid. Those are our two seasons. Mail order steak? They're kidding, right? No thanks. Now, the outside of the cow, the leather, that's another story.
One last thing I don't want this year and that's one more and mean just one more e-mail from Kohl's. Not sure how we got on their list but every day for about two years it's been 'Kohl's Gift Card This' and 'Kohl's Gift Card That' and I've had about enough. We have a Kohl's store nearby ' I went in once. For a second or so I thought I was in JC Penney, but then I noticed the racks were a mess and there were new clothes on the floor and boxes in the aisles and I knew for a fact I wasn't in Penneys. Maybe if those Kohls employees spent more time straightening up the store after the stampede that must happen daily and less time sending out e-mails I'd be tempted to go back in again. Not yet though. Not this year.
So, there you go ' stuff you don't have to worry about getting for me this year. I'll take the usual ' a wag from the dog, some time with my daughters (both home from college and both spectacular), and time to sit with Amanda in the living room where our Christmas tree is standing. This, our 25th Christmas tree together, just looks better than any I can remember for a long time. Maybe next year we'll figure out how to work in a visit with my Mom and Amanda's folks, but this year we'll be here in Maine, probably still heating with wood and cooking on the grill since this ice storm forecast for the weekend looks like a monumental tree crusher. In Maine, when trees fall, they take power lines with them. What fun!
A little BV news before I leave you- on the leather side our next shipment of Sunrise WigWam is due to arrive the first week in January. Great way to start the new year. Also, Chaz and his boys have added a mess of new items to the Clearance page this week, and they plan to put in some hours next week adding more leathers and hardware types to that page. On the Trunk side we have standard straps in black leather now; very chic, and a couple of new old trunks for sale, if you'd care to take a look.
Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year ' as in other years I wish you some peace and quiet during the hustle and bustle ' some time to sit and enjoy this wonderful time of year. I recognize that my list of 'stuff I don't want' really comes across as a long gripe session, but I've got nothing to complain about. Business is great. Family is great. Weather is great. For a penguin, that is. Ho Ho Ho.
Best wishes to your family from ours-
Brettuns Village, Inc.
Where's Indie? Tell her to get into my office STAT!