2003.12.24 On my knees, staring at dirt

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I’M ON my knees, begging you please to come clean. That’s my plea to the kitchen floor.

Getting ready for Christmas means cleaning house. That’s how it is for busy people. Really busy people. They don’t get enough done in the maintenance phase of life. Then when the crunch time of impending visitors arrives, everything shifts into top gear for preparation.

I don’t know how my wife handles the overnight shift, but that’s when she often accomplishes the most. You know the name of her column that often appears on page 2: Midnight Musings. Last night, once again, it went far beyond midnight. We’re close to running three shifts, with no overtime.

For me, it’s the early shift. I’ve been on my hands and knees getting to know the kitchen floor. For some reason, the kitchen floor has long been mostly my domain. Even when we lived in the Observer apartment, I remember tackling that yellowish linoleum, scrubbing and scrubbing the patches of tar from the roof in back. The roof was our verandah and it led to our clothesline. Unfortunately, we sometimes tracked in roof tar on hot days.

I FOUND no tar this morning in our kitchen, but I did encounter some odd substances. The bright blue spots were the most puzzling, but they were easily removed.

The most annoying were the black smudges of unknown origin and unknown molecular structure. It smears to the right, then it smears to the left, but it doesn’t leave the floor. Hmmm, it’s almost like tar.

When I tackle the kitchen floor, I wear an old pair of knee pads, also of unknown origin. They might be a daughter’s old volleyball equipment, but they look pretty basic and they have the name “Grid” at the top. The mud stains suggest they’ve seen some late-season football duty when I’m on my knees taking pictures in the snow.

The lesson in this “Christmas story” is to never assign janitorial duties to busy people. Look at the Observer, but please don’t look too closely. We get an award for our clean newspaper design most every year in the contest, but fortunately, we’re never judged on the condition of the office where the paper is produced.

I SHOULD be turning out a well-crafted Christmas column for this Dec. 24 newspaper. Instead, I’m rushing from floor duty to column duty and then, I hope, onward toward getting some news written before our company arrives.

This Christmas season is a little extra busy at the Observer, because I’m training someone to take over for Felicia, who has handled ad design, photo tweaking and more for the last four years.

Felicia has taken on a job as cheerleading coach for a gymnastics organization and she’s also busy with her new baking business. Now, I’m training Deanna Gillen. She’s catching on, but of course it will take a while. My double duty eats into my writing time.

For example, here it is near the end of December and I’ve never closed up the girls’ basketball season. Did you know Kylene Spiegel became the school’s first thousand-point scorer? Of course not, I still haven’t written it.

But this is no way to end a Christmas column, so let me repeat the oft’ told tale of a dog named Sam. He was my sister’s dog back in the 1960s. I think the date painted over the door of his dog house read 1965.

Sam’s name should have been Bad Boy. Fleas, vomit, horrible odors, night barking, day barking. I would not want to live in a neighborhood like Sam’s, with one exception. I’m glad Sam was part of our family the year he ate a few silvery strands of tinsel.

Through the normal digestive process, the tinsel later appeared suspended from the back end of Sam and it was such a joy to watch him run off into the sunshine, with tinsel sparkling behind him. Now that was a memorable Christmas, and I hope all of you are left with pleasant memories at your house tomorrow.

    – Dec. 24. 2003 
  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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