So what do you think of the Christmas lights? No, I didn't get up on a ladder to put them on the rain pipes, Peter Pan was in the neighborhood and he helped out. No, that's not what I call Charley these days.
I must give credit where ti is due. He worked hard to get everything done well. He's like that sometimes. When it comes to grilling a steak over the charcoal, or making a pot of Texas red chili, he's a perfectionist, and this year he surprised me with these Christmas lights. What do you mean, how and what kind of surprise? Let me tell you.
It all started about six years ago on a Saturday in December. It was a day with brilliant sun and a little wind, but it was cold. Colder than a banker's heart. I had just moved into this house and Charley and I wanted to decorate for Christmas. Let me tell you, nothing worked except Charley and I.
We started that morning with something easy. I had a bunch of candy canes to put into the ground along the sidewalk between the street and the front porch. I even got a stop sign that asked Santa Claus to stop at this house because a good girl lives there. Well, I might have well asked to dig the Erie Canal that day.
Charley took the sign and a hammer and he set the sign right where I asked him to set it. He brought the hammer way back and prepared to give the signpost a good whack and he hit it for all he was worth. It was a pointed, wooded stake that the sign was on. Well, you would think that the ground was made out of rubber because that post just bounced off! That ground had frozen just enough to be a pain-in-the-ass! And it broke the end of the signpost, too.
Now Charley could sense my disappointment so he came up with a way to dig a hole: he got a pot of hot water and had me pour it on the ground and moved like a man on fire to start a hole while the ground was soft. Problem solved, The sign went into the ground and we both went into the house for a little drink, me a coffee with Irish cream, and Charlie a shot of Canadian Club.
Now we have all of these plastic candy canes to put along the path. 16 candy canes. 16 little holes, Solidly frozen ground, and Charley warmed by a good belt of 12-year-old whiskey.
He walks over to the path and lays the candy canes on the ground beside the path, spaced so evenly you would think that he measured them with a ruler. So far, so good. Then he walks away to his noisy old diesel truck and starts to rummage through the toolbox. I'm wondering what in the hell is he up to. Is he fixing his truck or lost in space? I hear nothing, not even any cussing, so I go back to my work in the kitchen.
The next thing I hear is this electric motor outside. I go to the window to see a genius at work!
From the toolbox on the back of his truck Charley took the biggest electric drill that I have ever seen and he was kneeling on a pad and drilling holes in the ground, one for each candy cane! I am flabbergasted! He was drilling holes 3 cm deep for each candy cane!
So he gets the holes drilled, sets the candy canes in them, and they are a little loose. I'm thinking to myself, "Well, Charley's a little loose, so what can I expect?" He puts the drill away and comes in the house for another shot of Canadian Club and to warm his hands, which by now are getting stiff.
We're standing by the window, looking at the somewhat-crooked candy canes and I ask Charley if he has a solution. I should have known better. He did. We had a bunch of fat-wood sticks that we used as kindling in the fireplace. He took a handful of them and a hammer and put one in every hole and all of the candy canes stood up straight!
Time for another shot of whiskey for him and a vodka martini for me. After all, it was getting into the afternoon and it surely was cocktail hour somewhere!
The shrubs in front of the house needed lights put on them. Charley had that one figured out perfectly. How that man could come up with such ideas after 3 or 4 shots of whiskey is beyond me. He just took a zip tie and fastened one end to the top corner of the bushes and strung the lights across and down. Now I didn't see anyone else in the house or the yard that day but Lady Luck must have been working outside with him because it only took him an hour or so to get those lights evenly on the bushes. He called me out to look at them as he tested them and they looked like they grew there.
And we had another drink, you know, to fend off the cold, because it was getting into the late afternoon already.
Well, the rest was easier said than done. That wind came up and it froze poor Charley's hands so badly that he could hardly hold onto his tools. No amount of whiskey could fix that. And that was the real test of what that man was made of.
He managed to fasten lights on both of the wrought-iron stair railings and around the front door frame. Then he plugged them into an outlet and put a box on it so it would turn the lights on automatically at sunset and turn them off at midnight! Clever guy, my Charley!
By that time his face was as red as a lobster from being in the cold and the wind and his poor hands could barely close. But I had a cure for him. I had a double shot of Canadian Club ready as soon as he got his jacket off, followed by basin filled with lukewarm water at the kitchen table for his hands. I put a fresh pair of woolly socks on his feet and he sat there like the Prince of Wales while I made him a fresh pot of coffee. Then we enjoyed some beef stew with fresh-baked rolls.
He loved all of the attention. And he deserved it, too. And I was glad to share it with him.
He has his days and his ways, but don't all of us? All things considered, I am lucky to have him in my life. Now his family is a different story, but Charley - he's OK with me.
✿ڰۣ❤In Loving Light from the Fairy Lady❤ڰۣ✿