The Aluminum Tree

December 22, 2018


OK, I know this series is only two years old. Like me, you will remember it as if it first appeared yesterday. That’s how two years seem at our age. Still, I enjoyed telling this Christmas story, and I enjoyed it again when I reread it this morning. I reason that if I enjoy it, you might, too. I hope I’m right. Now, if you will excuse me, I have Christmassy things to attend.


120 thoughts on “The Aluminum Tree”

  1. But the saving grace of the situation is… if we’re old enough that time passes that fast, we’re also old enough to forget what happened while it was! E.g., I don’t remember this strip at all, and I’ve been enjoying my daily doses of A&J for many years!

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  2. Love the retros Jimmy. Thank you. Our family had the artificial green tree before we got an aluminum. That artificial tree lasted from the early 1960’s until the 2010 tornado wrecked the garage at my family home. The aluminum tree, only a few years. Putting up that green tree was a family tradition with fond memories for me.

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  3. From 1982 until 2009 I was in the Christmas business in retail a few years but mainly in wholesale, selling and doing shows, setting up trees and examples to teach and motivate others. I sold artificial trees by the ocean containers loads. (Really) to Christmas retail stores

    Those aluminum trees are Mid-Century Modern antiques now, very valuable and expensive to buy if you can find one.

    I love this Christmas arc and the Ludwig talks plus that is great Sunday with possom.

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  4. Thank you for the lovely reference to seafood gumbo, shrimp creole, and especially crawfish étouffée in today’s cartoon. Has Ludwig been making fewer appearances lately? I miss him. I do remember one Christmas Eve episode when he spoke to Arlo. Loved that one.

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  5. The package from Gene might KILL me. I have a pretty severe allergy to shellfish. But the story of the strip is that it is family traditions. Today my wife will be making sugar cookies with her nearly 92 year old mother with cookie cutters that are as old or older than she is. My daughter went to Germany on assignment, but was allowed to come back to Orlando. She just passed her Covid test (I asked her if she studied) so she plans to make cookies at the same time as her Mom and Grandma.
    I made lasagna with sauce from roasted romas, onion , garlic and basil. I made meatballs from sausage removed from their casings and then let them cook with the sauce after I blended the tomato mixture. Then I put the meatballs in the food processor and put it back in the sauce. I assembled the sauce, ricotta and noodles liberally adding mozzarella, parmesan and Romano cheese. The difference was the grinding up of the meatballs, which my wife’s father and grandmother had made for many many years. I finally matched their efforts. Holidays is about family and family is made special by food.

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  6. My family has always had artificial trees and I think they only look fake up closer than I care about. My mother has always preferred the silver tree she grew up with, which she still has and put up a couple of years ago. I prefer the green ones, but silver does look pretty classy.

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  7. Christmas trees (or Hanukah bushes) have never been our thing, but I understand the importance of tradition. I especially liked the Sunday strip, although my cat is more likely to either curl up against my legs or stretch out at the foot of the bed. He doesn’t need to sleep on top of me like that because the Magic Blankie (electric blanket) keeps him nice and warm and avoids the problem of what happens when I need to move or turn.

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  8. Well, not so good news on the car repair front. My shop got the catalytic converter and sensors to replace what was stolen. But they found out when they got it up on the rack, the lousy *** crook cut through a mounting bracket. Of course they don’t stock it and with tomorrow being Christmas Eve there is no way they can get one before Monday. So this will be two weekends in a row without my car.

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  9. Re the 12-23-20 retro cartoon: My first thought was that the black-trimmed gold shirt Little Arlo was wearing was a replica of Capt. James Tiberius Kirk’s uniform shirt some company might have been selling in the 1960s. (We know Little Arlo had a coonskin cap at one point.) Then I realized it looked more like a later version of the UFP uniform. Well, at least he wasn’t wearing Lt. Uhura’s uniform, although he probably really liked the way it looked on her. I know I did.

    And speaking of legs, who’s watching “A Christmas Story” this year? (“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”) I had someone me tell me today that’s the only thing she watches on TV all year.

    Our aluminum tree (with color-wheel light) served honorably from 1962 until at least 1965. My parents moved a couple of times in that time-frame, and I’m not really sure where it ended up, although a vague recollection is that my sister may have had it for awhile.

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    • Ghost, I can never figure out the timing. The strips with Arlo and Janis as counter-culture young people in the 60s has always made me see them as about my own age or maybe a year or two older at most. And I was already in college when Star Trek ran, not a kid. Plus in some strips Little Arlo has a coonskin cap like those that were popular for a while around 1959 when the Disney Davy Crockett series ran. That fits my age timeline as well. But NOW they do not seem to be 70, which they would be according to both those reference points. So . . . is a puzzlement (Yul Brynner’s King in “The King and I”).

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  10. So I followed the link and found this comment under the last of the series:

    “JJ CREATOR about 2 years ago
    Daddy had a gruff side. I learned later, as an adult, that most of my cousins were afraid of him! He was a real Christmas hound, though. It was he, not Momma, who brought in sacks of oranges and nuts and tangerines at Christmas. All day Christmas Eve, he’d make solitary forays into our little downtown for one more gift. He never thought there was enough.”

    Made me tear up, ‘cos my Dad did the same thing – came home Christmas Eve with a sack of oranges, tangerines, nuts, chocolates and candy. As Bob Hope says, Thanks for the memories…

    Merry Christmas to All.
    Bill

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  11. Dickens misses his sofa for napping. (We donated it to a needy family a couple of days ago to make more open floorspace for Jackie and her new conveyance next week.) When we got in from visiting her this evening, he obviously didn’t know where in the living room he could rest his weary little head. It turns out that a couple of my t-shirts from the laundry hamper folded and placed on the floor makes a worthy successor to the sofa, even if not as cushion-y a one. But a few minutes ago, he apparently had a bad dream, what I call a “puppy-mare”. He does that occasionally, and I have read that it’s best not to awaken him when he has one, and after about five little whimpers, he stopped. I wondered briefly what he was dreaming, but then I decided I really didn’t want to know what could give a sweet little puppy-dog a bad dream.

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  12. OK, this is semi-weird. I just clicked past the retro series about the aluminum tree and came to the November 23, 2018, cartoon, that features an opossum ambling across Arlo back yard. Tonight, exactly two years later, when Dickens and I returned from the hospital, and I pulled into the driveway, my headlights revealed a possum casually walking by the outside of the roll-up door to the shop.
    Oh and Jackie’s seven cats that hang around the shop (because that’s where I feed them) were about as useful for pest control as Ludwig is in the cartoon. Of course, I can’t blame them too much…the darn thing appeared to be about the size of a small feral hog, most likely from eating half of the food I put out for the cats.

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  13. My family in NYCity always had a natural tree which was a major pain to decorate – though it looked good. Mom liked all blue lights with a white light star at the top and lots of tinsel (which was the time-consuming part) as well as round glass ornaments. Not much home made stuff – we two youngsters were still young. When I finally received my American Flyer trains around ’47 or ’48, setting that up under the tree (or, under the piano) was a highlight. Never did use that train except during Christmas season, and sold the set almost 35 years later.

    ‘Twas a busy time in the parsonage. Dad was minister and general factotum: he had to compose/type the bulletins’ stencils for the services, run them off on the manual mimeograph with slip-sheeting, haul & unwrap the flowers (LOTS at Christmas), place them into containers, lug them into the worship area and arrange them on the altar. We two kids helped with the mimeographing and flowers. Dad also ran a service on Christmas eve (late) and mom hosted both choirs on Christmas morning for coffee and cake while Dad ran yet another two services. One of them was in German, at least until 1950. The family opened gifts after doing the flowers on the Eve.

    When my MBH married me in ’62 and we then lived in student housing, we had neither the funds nor the room for a tree of any kind. The MBH came up with the idea of fastening a cut-out star high on a wall and then attaching thin ribbons (as might be used in wrapping gifts) from the star downwards in a spreading pattern. It was a nice 2-d tree, and colorful. I think some paper cut out ornaments were there, too. Very cheap and very space-saving!

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  14. My favorite tree was one of my first, a little cut tree about 4 feet tall that I picked out the first year we decided not to drive home to Arizona from our graduate school in eastern Kansas. But late on December 23 we got so homesick we decided to just take off for home after all. We had an old camper shell (kind of gutted but suitable for grad student grunge) and my now ex slid that in the back of the pickup and we tossed in our clothes stashed into trash bags. But I said, “I am not leaving my tree!” There was a little closet thing just inside the camper door, so I stuffed the decorated tree into that so it wouldn’t roll around and off we went. The whole way, my husband was telling me, “You’ll never get that thing across the border.” AZ has border inspection stations to protect the citrus crops (or at least they did; don’t know now), and they regularly confiscated pretty much any plant material. Well we got to the border and they guy asked us to open the camper. My husband looked at me pointedly that I had to do it. So I hopped out and opened the camper door. This huge wave of Christmas tree scent rolled out like you would not believe! The officer looked at me and got this funny tight grin on his face and asked his usual question: “Do you have any citrus fruit to declare?” I answered honestly, “No sir.” “Any other fruits?” “No sir.” Then his smile got bigger and he said kind of slyly, “Any pecan trees in there?” I kind of gulped because this was NOT something the usually asked. But I said (truthfully) “No sir.” “Apple trees?” “No sir.” “Oak trees?” “No sir.” He asked me about maybe 10 different trees, but never pine or Christmas tree! LOL At this point he was laughing and looked really genuinely happy. So he shut the camper door and kind of saluted me and said, “Merry Christmas and enjoy visiting your family!” I was 23 years old. Seems like forever ago. But a cherished memory of Christmas and of Christmas trees. When we got home, I set it up in the camper aisle and we slept in the bed in there in my parents’ driveway. We got home late on Christmas Eve and surprised them. It was awesome.

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    • A great story, Dawn! And it was only California with agricultural inspection stations when I was trucking. My only story from that era was my handing the Coors paperwork to the guy in the booth and proclaiming, “Beer for California!” He smiled and said, “Keep it coming!”

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      • Last time Marcia and I went back to LA for a convention, we had to stop just inside California for an inspection, but not in either New Mexico or Arizona. And, Colorado doesn’t do it either. Just California, as far as I’m aware.

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        • Well I guess it’s official then: urban sprawl has finally crowded out the citrus groves in Arizona, so the border inspections are no more. On the plus side, you won’t get your picnic lunch confiscated now. 🙂

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      • Goodness! Yes, I was at KU as well, ’73-’77. Finished my BS in geology there in ’74, then did Systematics and Ecology for an MA. Spent most of my time in the Natural History museum as I was in vertebrate paleontology and worked in public ed and curation in the museum to earn my bread. What field were you in?

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        • Officially, I was in chemistry (Malott Hall except for other courses elsewhere) seeking a Ph.D. The museum you mention was interesting. If memory serves, it was on Mt. Oread just off the top of W. 14th Street. For my first year in Lawrence, I roomed at 414 W. 14th and saw the building any number of times. After marrying, we lived in Stouffer Place, building 3, apartment 12. Those buildings were razed a few years back, and I am glad I saved a computer site showing them – maybe Google maps?
          Besides chemistry, there were necessary ancillary courses in, say, French and German. I added about half a dozen graduate level math courses, since my first love was math rather than chemistry. Those other courses were not taught in Malott, of course. My doctoral director was Jack Landgrebe who was only 3 years older than I!! We still trade Christmas cards. Finally completed doctorate in August 1967 and moved to VA.
          The kindness of Mr. Ryan, a vice president at Lawrence National Bank, in lending us (unsecured) funds to make the move (and occasionally, just to tide us over until a new paycheck) will never be forgotten; really nice guy. Otherwise, my MBH was getting her own PHT = “putting hubby through” degree!

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          • Oh gosh. Our first year there, we also lived in Stouffer Place! — but I’ll be darned if I can remember the building or apartment number. Your memory beats mine all hollow! The Museum was (and still is) Dyche Hall, on Mt. Oread and (I think you are exactly right) at the top of 14th — right next to the Memorial Student Union (which might not have been there yet when you were; I’m not sure when it was built). It’s certainly a small world. 🙂

  15. Dawn. You reminded me of our first Christmas tree, a scrawny, pitiful thing in a trailer we lived in outside the military post where I was assigned. We had just got married in November (we had no business getting married at 19 and 20 years old) and it was all we could afford on PFC pay. We bought an angel for a tree topper and promised each other it would always top our Christmas trees. Our marriage only lasted 58 years and I’m keeping the promise. The angel is on top of the small tree in the family room.

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  16. You are ALL bringing lumps and tesrs. I am still in the hospital, my tree is 2 feet tall artificial mailed by my daughter. Smallest I have ever had.

    In 1940s and 50s on the farm in Louisiana Delta a tree was cut in woods and dragged to house. Pines did not grow there so cedars substituted. Cedars were thought to be death trees because they often grew in cemeteries.

    I remember live tree stands opening in our small towns and Mamma shopping at night. We never had artificial trees until sometime in 1970s after I married.

    Myself, I love real.trees, elaborately decorated and overdone. If not real, super real looking.
    n

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  17. Today was hunter-gatherer day, in the course of which I discovered what one gives a woman who has everything…a portable wheelchair ramp.
    A very, very old joke…
    Q. What do you give the man who has everything?
    A: Penicillin.

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  18. I am going home Monday with a wheelchair, a portapotty, a reach and grab. Ghost had bought me walkers before I broke my leg. He has bought me other Christmas gifts related to my home equipment too.

    The goal is for me to establish an almost independent life style that closely follows the one here i have thrived here. I met another 86 year old lady who did not want to leave today. She loved it here.

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  19. Need to get dressed before Christmas lunch. Still in bed but lots of visitors! Giving jewelry to as many staff as I can reach out to.

    Poor Ghost is home trying to get front three rooms of house cleaned and emptied to make room for my wheelchair and walker.

    The reason this may be a permanent arrangement is not my broken left leg which I expect will recover. It is my right leg which is bone on bone and unrepaired. Yesterday it went loudly crunching (audible to staff) twice and I just started falling!

    Before I broke my good leg my previous orthopedist had recommended I use walkers and a wheelchair to avoid falls and fractures. I just don’t see that changing in future. If anything, the “bad leg” has worsened due to being the “only leg” now.

    Positively this facility has gotten my diabetes, heart, digestion and all health issues totally corrected. I am ready to go home and implement what I have learned!

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    • Jackie, the way you’ve taken so much positive benefit from your experience, learning how to handle your diabetes, heart, digestive, and other health issues so much better than before, is very inspiring. It reminds me that the chronic health problems I so often curse can actually teach me how to live more wisely if I will just shift my perceptions. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.

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  20. We have a white Christmas here in southeast Ohio. The first time in 10 years! It is beautiful, but so cold I have not yet stepped a foot outside.

    Merry Christmas to the Village! And I pray for God’s blessings on all in the coming year.

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  21. As an old friend with a certain sense of humor said today:
    [Deity or higher power of your choice] bless [or otherwise bestow something good/happy/positive] us every one! *
    *void where prohibited

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  22. Dawn, clearly I have no idea where in Stouffer Pl. you were, but our building 3 was the one in the most extreme SW corner of the then-campus: tucked into the corner of Iowa and 19th Sts. It was about as far as one could be from any academic buildings. I did buy a bicycle once, but, while the ride to Malott was OK, it was a very long uphill on the way back, whether or not by road. I always ended up walking it back. Subsequently, I always rode with my MBH or alone (for evenings). Most of my lab work was composed of reactions which took a day or so, and each kinetic study ran from about 7:30 a.m. to the following 2:30 a.m. Needless to say, I took the rest of the ensuing morning off so as to sleep, and was thankful for our car rather than bicycle.

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    • Ohhhh yeah. I’m oriented now. We were in a unit that faced east, just down the slope from the main entrance off 19th into the complex. There was a big empty field between us and the road that led north into the main part of campus from 19th — a road that went uphill past the computer science building to the roundabout by frat row to the north and the geology building on the south. There were a couple more Stouffer Place units to our northeast. But mostly we were on the eastern limit. When the Bicentennial Wagon Train came through town on its way to DC in ’76, they drew up their circle and camped in that empty field near us and I went to visit them. Imagine my joy in discovering the team from Arizona were friends of the cowboys I had known there! We hashed over old times and various horses we’d all known, and I felt so much less homesick! They wanted me to ride on their wagon with them in the parade that was held the next day, but my then-husband wouldn’t hear of it. And I was so young I thought that was something I had to listen to. At any rate, those were still the days of mini-skirts, and one of my clearest early memories in Kansas is of walking from Stouffer to class, climbing that steep hill to Geology, heading north, in my short skirt and too-thin Arizona “winter” coat as the wind pelted me with icy snow “sand” and I tried not to slip and go all the way down the hill on my kiester. I don’t know which thing was more of a surprise to me: the grade of Mt. Oread in a state I’d always heard was flat as a pancake, or the ferocious bite of winter just one state north of Oklahoma (whose weather was familiar to me and a good bit less intense). But I loved KU. I guess once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk. 🙂

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  23. Re 12-25-20 real-time cartoon: Anyone else remember the last scene of the season finale or “St. Elsewhere”? Beside perhaps JJ and me?
    I truly hope all of you, along with your families and friends, had the most merry of Christmases.

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  24. A Christmas Miracle, Just One Day Late: In the midst of reconfiguring the house so Jackie can maneuver around in it in her chair next week, I walked into the kitchen this morning to fix a bite to eat. I flipped on a ceiling light, and FLASH, the bulb shot. Tripping a breaker and taking out the kitchen, hallway, master bedroom and master bath. Oh, and the central heating unit. No problem, right? Just reset the breaker. Weeeeeell…
    The breaker box is behind the refrigerator. A very large and heavy double refrigerator and freezer combination. In an alcove. Barely larger than the refrigerator. As I recall, the last time it was moved out, it took two men and a boy. And a lot of military-grade cursing. I could certainly handle the cursing, but I’m just one guy.
    “What to do?” I pondered as I stood looking at the stainless-steel monstrosity. Then I noticed a door magnet Jackie had placed on it: “No one can stop you but yourself.” Well, awright. Ten minutes later, I had worked the SSM out of the alcove, a half inch at a time. and I was behind it, resetting the breaker. Five more minutes, and the SSM was back in place and the lights were on. Mission accomplished.
    “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.” 😀

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      • Yep, we’d planned to have the entire house re-wired and the box relocated a couple of years ago, but stuff happened. The current location was more from necessity than from planning when the house was remolded many years ago, as I understand it. Also, the refrigerator was never supposed to be that large, but the seller sold the one Jackie bought and delivered the SSM instead. Since it was larger and nicer than the one she bought, she decided to keep it.

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    • Or, you know, maybe you were Christmas-infused by the infamous “strength of ten Grinches plus two” !! 🙂 (Not saying you are a Grinch, to be clear. Saying this was a related phenomenon, given that the darned circuit tripped and took everything out the day after Christmas while you were fixing things up for Jackie to come home — which is a pretty darned Grinchy time for the circuit to trip!)

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  25. I’m glad you were able to move it, Ghost. I recall dealing with that when the fridge it replaced died. Since the entry foyer is just the other side of the wall next to that alcove, maybe the breaker can be relocated there where it will be easily accessible. From what Jackie told me, that house was built piecemeal from what was originally a fishcamp for lake visitors, which is why getting repairs done is such a nightmare. And while it is a nice country home, that also plays havoc with appliance repair/replacement, and finding anyone who will come that far out to do remodeling work.

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  26. Oh, and I always thought it would have made more sense to have the fridge in that huge laundry room instead of crammed into that alcove in the kitchen. If it was there, there would be no need to move the breakers.

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  27. I especially enjoyed the 12-24-18 cartoon. I encouraged Dickens to say something Christmas Eve, even bought him a bag of puppy treats, but he didn’t say a word. It reminded me of the story of the little boy who never spoke growing up. His parents took him to developmental specialists and speech therapists, but nothing worked; they couldn’t get a peep out of him.
    One morning at the breakfast table, when he was six, he looked up at his mom and said, “You burned the toast.”
    “Johnny,” she exclaimed, “you can talk! Why haven’t you been saying anything?”
    “Up until now, everything was OK.”

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  28. Dawn: I’m putting this here because earlier entries are now distantly above.

    I found a way to see the old Stouffer Place before razing – maybe you can use the method, too. Go to Google maps and get to Lawrence, Ks. Go to street level view somewhere on 19th not too far from Iowa. If you look about, the old Stouffer Place is mostly gone and newer 5- or 6-story buildings under construction. The old multistory dorm which was along Iowa is also gone. HOWEVER, if you move on 19th to the entrance to old Stouffer Place which is Ellis Drive, you can then proceed north on Ellis and scan about to see all the old buildings. Go to the next intersection (Bagley, if I recall) and turn left. The old buildings as well as that huge dorm are clearly visible. If you then proceed (left) on Bagley, you can get all the way to our building 3 (which, by then, was not still called “3”) – it is the last one on the right (west). We had the apartment on the R end of the top tier. In those days, they had 6 apartment on each level, but that was reduced to 5 or 4, probably to accommodate more marrieds with kids. Hence, our number was “12”. You can discern where the former door to “11” was bricked in.
    I wonder how much of the older campus can be viewed by such a method.

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    • Go to Google Earth and download it. In the row of buttons up top there is one that looks like a globe with an arrow circling counterclockwise over the top. Enter the address you want to see, then click that button, and you can go back on most to aerial images as far as 1997. At least that’s as far back as I’ve found.

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        • You’re welcome. And like you say, you can use Google Maps Street View to see things at street level. I don’t know how far back they started that, but I know some places I’ve looked at had rather old images, say 2013 instead anything newer.

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          • OK, CEP and Mark: I have copied out these instructions so I can “get ‘er done” as the fellas used to say on my tractor repair message board. I will report back when mission is accomplished — which will take longer than it ought to. I am, er, well . . . Google and I have a bit of a contentious relationship. Or maybe it’s my laptop and I. Or the internet and I. But whichever, it’s their fault. Not mine. Nooo, this has nothing to do with my inability to handle computer stuff. LOL OK, so. And meanwhile, I can’t *believe* they tore down that gigantic dorm at the top of the hill too! Sheesh! Urban renewal gone mad. I get the Geology newsletter to this day and they’ve moved into a new building now somewhere. Hope this doesn’t mean they tore down the old one. Sigh.

  29. So tired tonight I could only eat part of dinner, asked to be helped into my Christmas nightie and fell asleep before 6 p.m. I may not be exciting to have home.

    The hospital starts early here and keeps patients working all day. For instance taking shower, washing, drying and styling my hair, getting dressed is occupational therapy. Brushing teeth, personal care all counts. I have to have someone for movement security but I am supposed to do things for myself.

    Some here refuse to try or cooperate. I feel sorry for nurses and staff who try so hard with each patient. I saw a very young female uncooperative patient today, wondered how she arrived here? They treat every case you can imagine including drug overdoses, cancer, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, head injuries, hip, leg, back, arm fractures.

    Idea is to return you to functioning either at home, in assisted living or even in skilled nursing home.

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  30. Amen Arlo and Jimmy! Going home for New Year’s and 2021 with a different attitude and a new plan, new life. Things will be different and better.

    We didn’t choose the way things have happened but we can choose how we react .

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  31. Re 12-27-20 real-time cartoon: Marko Kloos, an author I follow, had a similar sentiment the other day on his site regarding 2020…“Stay safe, stay healthy, and let’s shank this year in the back with glee.”

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  32. A while ago, I asked if anyone knew of the A&J in which there is a reference to Janis’ “I.P.O.” [“initial public offering”, in stock market talk] and her reply. It just happens that I saw it yesterday. The cartoon is from August 20, 2000, if you care to read it. IMHO, it is quite subtle in the way it implies affection.

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  33. I have been reading the strips from month of December (only) have made it through 1999.

    Interesting where Gene’s girlfriend shoplifts in one arc, another year Janis trys to trap Arlo flirting online with her coworker.

    My idea was to see what Jimmy dealt with in Christmas season in the past?

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  34. In December 3, 2000 Arlo and Janis are waltzing but Arlo has brown hair, almost red. The next Sunday December 10, 2000 Janis has silver gray hair. Creative colorist?

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  35. Well, Jackie is preparing to be discharged. Other than the fact they can’t find the wheelchair they purchased to send home with her. 🙁
    Have you ever moved a king-size frame, box springs, and mattress out of a house by yourself? And then moved a queen-size into its place? I have. (Our help we had lined up couldn’t make it on time.) “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.” 😀
    Poor Dickens kept running into the bedroom after I got the big bed out and whining like he’s thinking, “What happened to my bed? Where will I sleep?”

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  36. Sitting in my wheelchair which they found waiting for transport driver. Had my pain pill. It is 2 hour drive over rough beaten out roads back to Eufaula. In Oklahoma we don’t drive on the left side of the roads, we drive on what’s left of the roads.

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  37. Helpers showed up, loaded king-size, and left. (We gave it to them for hauling it off. They needed it, badly.) Ready for final wet-pad mopping of bedroom, then queen-size will go in when floor is dry. Interestingly, just the box-springs and mattress. The 24-inch height actually aids in Jackie (who has short legs) making the transfer from chair to bed, and vice versa. Me getting out of bed may resemble a comedy skit more than anything else, however. I’m six two.

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  38. Dickens is confused with furniture moving and vanishment. I got home and started moving clothes to lowest closet rack, all I can reach. He lept onto stack of clothes to use for a bed

    Wheelchairs are hard to work from. I got ten pairs leggings and ten shirts hung together. Exhausted and ready for bed. Ghost is cooking dinner.

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  39. Welcome home, Jackie!!!

    Curmudgeonly Ex-Professor: Wow. I don’t know why I thought I had to download something new but I finally finished the grant proposal I’ve been working on and so sat down with your instructions and went “Oh sheesh it’s just Google maps street view” and went to look at the pics. Yet though I have used street view, I didn’t ever realize it shows archived images of things that are now gone. So what a creepy time-machine sort of experience that was, to see all the buildings of Stouffer Place but with much bigger trees than when I lived there, and with surprising additions (a third story added to some of the buildings? unless I have forgotten things?). I lived there the academic year of 1972-73, my senior year in college. That’s nearly *50 years ago* now! Which seems impossible. Yet, looking at the pictures, somehow I can feel that span of time and perceive, at a very deep level, just how much has changed since then — in the world, yes, but also in my own life. It was a whole nother reality. In so many ways.

    Sometimes I think about how the world used to be, especially the wild places I love so much, and I feel a lot of grief. But visiting this place I used to live when I was so young (just 21 when we moved in) showed me that I actually like the life I have come to live *now* a whole lot better. That’s a very pleasant surprise, and I don’t think I have ever felt it this way until now. So thank you for sharing this with me.

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  40. Dawn, there are many sites these days that are trying to capture the lost and abandoned before they are gone for good. For my home part of the country there is one called Abandoned Southeast on the internet. On YouTube there is Exploring Alabama, Adventure Archaeology and Sidestep Adventures. I just found another YouTube site that is covering old mining and railroad sites in Alabama under MrTropics64. So if you do some googling for your area, I bet you can find lots of photos and maybe video of the way things were and as they are now. Have fun.

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    • I did run across something like this not long ago for Scottsdale, the little one-horse town in Arizona to which we moved in 1959. Now it’s, well, not a “town” anymore. It’s Rodeo Drive East, more or less. I literally do not go back to my old haunts there because I just can’t take how it’s changed. I guess that brands me in some way. But I cherish the memories I have of what used to be, that’s been obliterated by pricey neighborhoods of the extremely well-to-do that used to be beautiful desert. It literally hurts to see the places I once walked and rode horseback “miles from anywhere,” covered over with freeways and strip malls that extend 40 miles *beyond* the places I never imagined would be “developed.”

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      • When we moved to Houston and Kingwood in 1974 we were among first 500 families. Texas Highway 6 was 2 lane and still gravel in stretches. The little towns extended north with big stretches of highway and country, a Sunday drive for a country cafe and lunch.

        Now Houston suburbs stretch towards Dallas, endless shopping malls and food franchises. Our 500 initial families are now 500,000 fifty years later.

        Have not been in Houston for six years, hate the big cities, not much of Texas that is charming anymore. I loved it once.

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  41. Re 12-29-20 real-time cartoon: Late, unexpected Christmas gifts can be the best Christmas gifts.
    Much the same as I don’t like for my birthday celebration to last just one day. A week, at a minimum, is much better. 🙂

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  42. I now have to admit that I must be “post-middle age. I now have a walker and today I ordered an “I’ve fallen and can’t get up’ button Does anyone remember who said “God is in his heaven and there’s a Democrat in the white house”..

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  43. So tired. Working on getting things organized here at house in bedroom and bathroom for my access. Had two different nurses today for home physical therapy and home health.

    Ghost is cooking delicious meals, tonight’s is chicken stir fry on noodles with fruit for dessert. Dinner has arrived!

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    • Jerry I agree. What I tell people is I have a flock of guardian Angels because one is not enough. So many miracles

      Ghost is a Special Angel sent to me by God. And Arlo and Janis.

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  44. Jackie is working herself to a frazzle trying to get everything in drawers and hung on racks down to within reach in her wheelchair. I commented that what she needed was one of the “Hobbit houses” like they built in New Zealand.
    She told me she has a friend in Australia who is about four feet tall and has a number of Hobbit costumes she frequently wears in public. She wore one when she got to visit the Hobbit village in NZ, and the tourists went crazy taking photos of her and posing with her. She had a ball.
    https://mymodernmet.com/hobbiton-new-zealand/#:~:text=Called%20Hobbiton%2C%20it's%20a%20movie,the%20sides%20of%20rolling%20hills.

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  45. If I’m figuring it correctly, the New Year arrived on the island of Tonga several hours ago. I suppose Arlo has been doing his campaign-and-kisses-with-Janis-every-hour-on-the-hour.

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  46. I didn’t realize it, but I had been posting as Anonymous here the last couple of times. I’ve remedied that now.
    Got my car back from the shop yesterday. Final repair cost for catalytic converter, two oxygen sensors, new muffler and I think some pipework: $2780. I have a $500 deductible and Geico covered the remainder. Thank you, Geico. And thank you to Christian Brothers of Tulsa Hills.

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    • Big Box Electronics Store of Tulsa Hills was where I got my iPhone battery replaced. Good service there. Nice shopping center. But if, Heaven forfend, I ever have to fight Christmas Eve traffic there again, I’ll pack a lunch.

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  47. Happy New Year to the Village. I have to say it now, because I’ll be doing my Darth Vader imitation courtesy of the CPAP at midnight. Still have to be up at 530 in the morning to work. At least it’s my 6 hour day.

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  48. This just in from China: The Committee on Renaming Asinine Zodiac Years (CRAZY) has unanimously voted to retroactively change 2020 from “Year of the Rat” to “Year of the Dumpster Fire”.
    Happy New Year, everyone.

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  49. Here we are in 2021 and I sort of slept through the momentous event. Ghost and Dickens made enough nouse to wake me. Only Dickens kissed me.

    Happy New Year’s everyone!

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  50. Been quiet a while and will continue. Managed to jab a thumbnail into my cornea and abrade far too much of the latter. Amazingly painful; not recommended for anyone. Sight gone in that eye for a day or so, very slowly returning. Trying to read eyechart in the ER, I had to admit I could not see even a single letter nor the chart not even the person holding the chart!! Couldn’t even make out the wall of the room…it was all a big blur.
    .
    Wish you all well in 2021, but I probably won’t be commenting a lot for a few more days. Injured eye is teary and my nearby sinus is sympathetically unloading itself, so it’s tissue city. Hard to read the screen.
    .
    Humor: with only one eye working, at supper last evening, it took me 3 tries to get my table knife into the jam bottle I was holding in my other hand. Need two eyes for accurate 3-d spatial relationships. Sure felt incompetent.

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