Oh Pile of Sticks. Oh Pile of Sticks. Thy Lights are Overpowering.

close up tissue lights

It’s that time of year again… that time when you force your husband to go to the woods and hack away at a pile of dead branches with an axe … that time when you get out the saw and an old cutting board from the kitchen and a bundle of wire in the name of adding a bit of holiday cheer to your living room. Yes, you guessed it. I’m talking about that age old tradition of putting up a tree.

So, I’d like to introduce you to Kyoko, our tree. We’re pretty pleased with her despite some initial setbacks, the first being the doorway to our flat, a space, it seems, that was not intended for a tree of Kyoko’s elegance and height. Nothing a pair of secateurs couldn’t fix.

dave with axe

After Dave jammed bits of wood into the tree stand and Kyoko seemed stable and happy, I sent him off to get some lights since last year’s set went off to Christmas crap heaven last January. This year we’d decided to go for a set of LED lights… 4 watt bulbs that work and work and don’t use up that much energy.

Dave returned having braved the local garden centre/Christmas emporium on a Sunday and began to string Kyoko with her new set of lights. To call these lights bright doesn’t really do them justice. These bulbs have a cold blue light, a piercing glow that makes my eyes feel hung over and weary, like I’m 12 years old in the wee hours of an all night sleep over.

But alas, this was what we’d bought and we were both too lazy to go back to the store and search out some other string of lights that would fit all our demands for energy efficiency and aesthetic beauty.

The next day, however, I found the energy to go out and purchase three packets of tissue paper in red, green and white. I proceeded to crinkle up little squares of tissue and attach them to each and every bulb in an effort to shield our retinas and avoid blindness. As crazy as it sounds, I must admit I enjoyed doing this. It took me back to my elementary school days. There I sat, armed with a tape dispenser and a pair of scissors, cross legged on the floor with Barbara Streisand belting out Christmas tunes. (Yes I know she’s Jewish and I don’t care. No one else sings Jingle Bells with more pizzazz! And what do you mean listening to Barbara Streisand isn’t cool? A curse be upon you.)

bookcase tree

Well, at first I thought my tree was looking rather Italian. Being in my childhood mode I had fallen into a pattern of red white green / red white green. But interestingly the dark branches of the tree and the dramatic tissue paper flowers made the tree seem like something you’d find in a Japanese woodcut, and so I’ve called her Kyoko, a name which suits her and which she seems to like.

I know I’ve been away from this blog for a while… 11 months in fact. I don’t have any grand excuses. It seems keeping up with a blog is harder than I imagined, particularly when you’re a bit of a perfectionist and the whole endeavour starts to feel more like something to worry about and less about expressing how you feel. But I suppose Kyoko, in her way, is pushing me to have another go… to work with the glaring light and the branches that won’t fit through the door.

2012 has been a very interesting year for me, a wonderful year of surprises and difficulties, a year that has taught me about the freedom found in accepting my life as it is.

I hope this will be the first of many entries to come, an experiment in allowing myself to write in the presence of doubt and in the presence of judgement. Don’t be surprised to find a poem in the place of the prose or a few sentences instead of a series of paragraphs. If you are going to confront perfectionism you have to use all the tools in the box… tissue paper included!

Here’s to Kyoko, to imperfect freedom, and the prettiest damn tree in all of Twickenham.

tree at night



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4 responses to “Oh Pile of Sticks. Oh Pile of Sticks. Thy Lights are Overpowering.

  1. Jacki

    I LOVE KYOKO!!!!! This is great, well done you!!!! “2012 … a year that has taught me about the freedom found in accepting my life as it is… here’s to imperfect freedom.”

    Beautiful thought, will try to remember this myself..

  2. Hey Andrea,I love the design of your blog and Kyoko looks great. Happy Seasonal everythings to you Dave and Ella

  3. Andy O'Hara

    Hooray for the stick tree.
    Great lights and new interesting shape.
    Has Ella ‘perfumed’ it yet?
    Kyoko: wasn’t there a climate change summit was held there?
    David, I’m concerned you have big-nose records in your collection. I know Andrea likes them and they only come out at Christmas but I think you need to think about the corrosive effects big-nose records can have on your other records, and your neighbors ears. Firstly isolate all big-nose records and secondly quickly take them to the record & tape exchange. May I suggest exchanging them for an album called The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall. Do it now before it’s too late.

  4. No Kidding! I too returned a set of zizzle deadly blue LED lights just last night, braving walmart and a -shop with a cop- croud that was un-nerving. I had set tth string of white lights around my outside door and stood staring at them for 1/2 an hour muttering to myself. It was NOT the warm glow I remembered as a child but more like the cold dead spirit of Christmas past. But I like your idea of the tissue paper. I made them ok..

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