Last Year for the Skinny Tree

This past week, I finished decorating for Christmas. I don’t do much, just the mantel and put up a Christmas tree. I used to decorate the console table beneath our TV until our dog Isis started watching TV. Now, she runs and jumps at it growling any time she sees a dog or other animal (and sometimes other things we have no idea why). One of these days, I need to get some video of this, because it’s hilarious! Sometimes she jumps up on the console table, so anything on it is subject to be knocked over and broken. That’s not so funny. So my nativity scene is now on the mantel.

Our Christmas tree is a skinny little artificial thing that’s 6 feet tall, but probably less than 3′ around at the bottom. It’s great for a small house or apartment, and has served us well for many years. It fits well in the corner of our small living room. But in the new house, we’ll have room for a much bigger tree. Even better, we have 28 acres, much of which is wooded–and a lot of that is pine trees. My husband and I can’t wait to go out on our own land, pick out a tree, cut it down, and decorate it in our new home.

Speaking of which, the rain finally let up in Knoxville, and we now have a floor in the garage and basement!


Next up is either framing the fourth wall of the basement, or putting the main floor in, I’m not sure which. Of course, the timing is dependent on the weather, which is kind of iffy down there this week. And after that will be the holidays.

What I’ve Been Reading: I started another nonfiction book, but haven’t finished it yet. I also am still working on the same two novels, so nothing to report this week. The novels are taking a while since I’m reading two at once – the ebook if my husband comes to bed early; otherwise, I read the print book. Getting close to finishing that one, so I can tell you about it next week!


What I’ve Been Writing: On track with my goals this week! I wrote six days, for a total of over 1600 words. Not a lot in and of itself, but enough to keep my WIP moving along. I also signed up for WMG Publishing’s Lifetime Workshop bundle. These are taught by Dean Wesley Smith (who puts them together along with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch). I’ve taken several of them over the years, and he offered a discount on the lifetime bundle to those of us in that situation. Then last week, he announced on his blog that they’d also throw in some of the separate “pop-up” workshops, AND a spot in his Business Master Class taught in Las Vegas every year. I’ve wanted to do the lifetime bundle since he announced it last spring, and I’ve also wanted to take the Business Master Class for years, so this was too good a deal to pass up. Right now I’m taking his popup workshop on Short Romance Fiction, which is a fun and interesting look at the history of the genre, as well as some tips for writing it in short form. At the end, there is an optional short story assignment, where, if I send it to him by the 16th, they’ll read it and offer feedback. For my writing this week, I might give that a shot. So my goal this week is to write at least five days, and either write a short story, or write at least 200 words on the novel in progress.

What about you–how are your plans and to-do lists going, as we get into this holiday season? What do you do to decorate? Do you read more than one book at a time? And how are you doing with whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

9 Responses to \

  1. It’s exciting when you realize “this is the last time…” for whatever it is before you move on to a new venture. I had to smile when I read that title. Our skinny tree is up–I haven’t decorated for the past three years because of life situations. My writing has stumbled to a halt as I try to figure out what the heck I was thinking when I planned the midpoint of this story. Sheesh. New plot point is in order. Ah, man! I wish I could do Dean’s classes. Right now that’s not in the cards, but they are on my list for the future. Good luck with all that!

  2. When it comes to holiday decorating, everyone always talks about the Christmas tree. I don’t know why – what deep-seated event from my past haunts me – but I HATE the Christmas tree. I decorate all the rooms in my house with various snowmen, Santas, snow-things, and six – or is it seven this year? – nativities in the living room. But I hate the stupid tree. Hate decorating it, hate almost all the ornaments, really hate putting on the lights, hate looking at it, hate pretty much everything about it. I hated the real trees we’ve had and now I hate the artificial one. Sorry for the rant, but that’s just how it is.

    My dog also watches other animals on the TV. He even watches cartoon animals, which I wouldn’t think his brain would make the connection. But if there is a psychedelic dog with stripes and stars and four ears, he still recognizes it and wants to lick it. So, yeah, we gotta watch him when he’s in the living room with the TV on.

    Best wishes with the writing and the house!

  3. Wow, your house is coming along so well. It looks massive in the photos! So exciting that next year you’ll be able to go cut down your own Christmas tree on your own property!

    I have way too many irons in the fire. Spent a night in the hospital with my dad because he passed out in church and was out for 10 to 15 minutes. Didn’t come to until well after the paramedics arrived. He stayed overnight in the hospital for observation, but they didn’t find anything wrong. Echocardiogram looked good and so id CT scan. They think it’s probably related to the Alzheimer’s. Pretty scary. He wasn’t happy in the hospital. There was an alarm on the bed in case he tried to get up, which he did because the IV kept him hydrated. It was kind of comical with him trying to climb over the bed rail, but I was too tired to laugh, plus he could have passed out again. His blood pressure dropped when he stood up. But he’s doing fine now. My mom thought he was dying, so it’s remarkable that the whole thing didn’t give her a heart attack.

    I babysat two of the grands, three-year-old Chatty Girl and 4 and a half week Little Man, most of the day Thursday and until 2:00 a.m. I was so tired driving home, I missed the connecting freeway so I got lost. That’s a whole blog post in itself, but I’m too tired to write it! My YouTube channel is taking off! So instead of decorating our apartment, I’m decorating my channel with short videos each day for Vlogmas. My friend is bringing in decent moola with her YT channel, so I’m going to keep at it. I actually enjoy doing it as much as writing, so why not?

    A video of your dog attacking the TV would be a hoot. I’d love to see it. Maybe you should start your own channel. People love dog vids! Have a wonderful week, Jennette!

  4. Lynette, this is a year of “lasts” – which is strange and exciting at the same time. I hope you get your plot figured out, because you know I want to read that book!

    Chris, my guess is that people talk about the Christmas tree because it’s something most of us do and remember from childhood. That’s funny about your dog! Mine also notices cartoon dogs, but she doesn’t try to lick the TV, she tries to attack it! That’s why my nativity scene doesn’t sit beneath it anymore.

  5. Isis is a Rottweiler, isn’t she?

    My father had a huge 120lb. Rottie named Rex who also would go for other dogs (often other animals, too) on the TV – including cartoon ones.

    Neither my pit bull nor my daughter’s lab pup do that, though they DO like it when I’m watching Enterprise and Porthos the beagle “has a lot to say”.

    We didn’t have a traditional tree for a few years. Once, I put sticks on the wall, strung lights on them, and hung ornaments (we had a new kitten; it seemed safest). Them there was a branch from one of the huge pines at the edge of our property which we cut and let Lise decorate, because she was the only one who wanted a tree.

    Last year, the kids and I got a small tree while Jim was in the hospital for the last time after his chemo heart attack. We didn’t have a lot of energy to make a place for it, so we kept it simple, and had it up and decorated before he came home on hospice care on December 13.

    We decided while setting it up that this year we were going to have a big tree. You see, Jim didn’t like Christmas trees, especially live ones. Being from the Pacific Northwest (he was an Oregonian), he didn’t like cutting them down to decorate and throw out.

    So, for years, we honored that with an artificial or no or makeshift tree he could be okay with.

    But our living room is high-ceilinged and we have a big bay window that can be seen from the next road over, and Lise wanted to put a big tree in that window, so that’s what we’re going to do…

    First, though, we have to clean out the jumble that is the kids’ unused game room, and take down the bookcases that created that space, and reset the entire long, narrow living room. It’s this week’s major home project to get all that done; Jeremiah and I got started on it tonight.

    We’d all rather have Jim than a big tree – but since we don’t get a choice, we’re making joy from sorrow. It’s kind of a specialty around here.

    As for my to-do list – I’m getting things done. Not nearly as quickly or efficiently as I might like, but I’ve decided that this year is just about survival. January 12 marks the first anniversary of Jim’s death – I keep thinking things will start to seem more normal after we cross that date off the calendar.

  6. Congrats on the writing. Every little bit is a step in the right direction, so I never chastise myself for only writing 100/200/500 words. It’s better than zero, right?

    Your house is coming along nicely. Here’s to some good weather to keep up the trend!

    So far my goals for Christmas are going smoothly. Everything that’s going to be decorated is decorated and I only have two shopping trips left (one at the commissary for candy stocking stuffers and one to the mall in Cincinnati that has this specific store I want, which happens to be the closest). Then I get to wrap. Although I could wrap now. I just don’t wanna. 😀

    My exercise goal is going well, too. I actually exercised 4 times last week and started up again this morning (and I almost didn’t–boy did I have to drag myself to the treadmill!). I’m determined to get back into shape, but determination and doing are totally different things! I just hope I can keep at it this time. I’m starting slow so as not to give myself an excuse that I’m too sore to work out. Because you know I’d use it!

  7. Yay on the words! I’m not a big decorator, either. I’ll put the tree up(once I finally make space for it and dig the box out of the boy’s closet) and I’ll put a few ornaments on and let the kids decorate the rest(it’s a fiber optic tree, so we don’t have to mess around with lights at least). But, other than a few small things, that’s all I’ll do. And shortly after Christmas, it’ll all get put away so I can have my living room back.

  8. Goodness it sounds like you’ve really been getting stuff done! Good for you! Moving sucks be it packing up to go or unpacking to stay. But, once it’s done and everything is in its place, it’s really nice. Just give yourself lots of time on both ends.

    Good for you on purging and writing and reading. It only takes a few minutes here and there to see a noticeable change sometimes. I’m getting excited for you.

    And, I know what you mean about the skinny trees. It seems like all the artificial trees are more like totem poles than Christmas trees. We finally found a place here in Vicksburg where we can get a real tree that’s nice a full at the bottom and skinny at the top, like a tapered tree should be. I’ll bet you guys will find the perfect tree next year.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  9. Lynn, the house is 2000 sq. ft. – so not small, but not as huge as it looks in the photos. Sorry to hear about your dad – hope he’s OK! What a stressful day and night – hope you have no more like that for a long time! And you should definitely start a YouTube channel, your videos are great!

    Shan, Yes, Isis is a Rottie! First dog we’ve ever had that watches TV. Our past rotties and our other dog (a lab-pointer) couldn’t care less. This has been a year of such upheaval for you. You’ve had to do more making joy from sorrow than anyone should have to, but you have been such a rock for your kids. I know you’ll come up with some wonderfully meaningful, new traditions. {{hugs}}

    Stacy, anything is indeed better than zero! That goes for exercise, too. I’m trying to keep using the treadmill now that it’s too cold (for me) to walk the dogs. Good luck keeping up with yours, and thanks!

    Patricia, you are so right about ding a little at a time – two weeks of decluttering has already done so much for my house. And thanks!