December 10, 2006
I'm Robbo The Llama And I'm An Idiot
So yesterday afternoon we broke out the footlocker full of ornaments and decorated the Christmas tree.
The Christmas tree that had grown on a hillside so that the base angled away from the true line of the trunk.
The base that I was too lazy to recut true and figured I could compensate with some clever adjustments of the holding screws on the stand.
The stand with the water reservoir that has bulged out over the years so that all four feet never touch the floor at the same time.
The floor in the corner of the living room that is somewhat warped and no longer, strickly speaking, a horizontal surface.
A surface the uneveness of which I've become accustomed to compensating by placing blocks of wood under the feet of the stand as needed.
Surely you can see where this is going by now.
Yippers, I fought the law of physics and the law won. About three quarters of the way in, with most of the decorations on the side of the tree facing out into the room, the damned thing fell over on me. Literally on me. One minute I was standing with my back turned to it, the next I was enmeshed in fir branches and being showered with glass. As you might imagine, this caused something near panic among the Llama-ettes. Picture me, then, hunched over, draped with light strings, and surrounded by broken glass, one hand jabbing into the bush for the trunk, and doing my best Kevin Bacon/Chip Diller home-coming parade crowd control, "Remain calm! All is well!!"
The good news is that despite the fact that a number of decorations fell off, only one or two were actually smashed, and none of them were among the ones we really value (which include a pair of beautiful sand-dollars with red ribbons on them, both of which survived intact, mirabile dictu).
The bad news is that unlike a patient man (which I've never claimed to be), who would have taken everything off the tree, pulled it outside, sawn the base properly, brought it back in and tried again, I simply redistributed the decorations a little more evenly and reenforced the legs of the stand on the weak side.
This may qualify me for coveted double idiot status.
Let's hope she holds this time.
Posted by Robert at December 10, 2006 11:52 AM
sand bags on the legs of the stand....
And if you don't have sand bags go to your local gun shop and buy bags of shot (for shotgun shells) They work great.
I too am an idiot. After spending an hour or so with the family decorating the tree, I went back to my office to blog. That is when I heard the crash. I thought of asking what the heck was that, but I knew instantly what the sound was. The tree lying prostrate on the livingroom floor, spilling the two gallons of water from the stand. Ah, perfect.
My solution was two twenty pound barbell plates on the base of the tree stand. It seems to be working.
A guy-wire from about 2/3rd's up the tree to preferably two places on the wall (or the top of cove molding so you don't see the screw eyes) has always done the trick. I had a stand where you drilled a hole in the base and impaled it on a 8" or so pole. Never could get it stabilized any other way.
Mine is, sad to say, an artificial. But it is a high end artificial from the 1980s where you place each individual branch; it fools all but a few observers.
No crashes. This year Mrs. C. was agitating for the real tree, in a role reversal. I've grown fond of assembling the damn thing, and so it is up, in its 20th or so year of service.
Nice game by Miami today, by the way.
"My name is Robbo the Llama
Look upon my works and despiar."
Just after reading your account I went out to the garage to check on my husband's progress in prepping the tree. There he was, mumbling again, because the stand was not behaving properly. I related your story and he took off like a shot to Ace to get a new stand.
When he got home he said "I am not going the way of that Llama Robert!" (mumble, mumble, orgle...)
Got a beautiful 7 ft. doug fir from a local tree farm (the proceeds went to our church's youth group missions trip fund). Full, symmetrical, with a straight trunk with a clear base. Set it up in the old tree stand, and it stayed upright and straight, but one of the screws was missing so I went to Freddie's for a new base. Set the tree up un the new stand, went to straighten it, and it immediately proceeded to topple on me.
Robbo. Been there, done that. I feel for you, guy.
I've been through five different stands in the last nine years. The one I have now - heavy plastic with a conical base and legs seems to work for me these days.
A new development this year, though. Usually I cut the base, drag the tree into the house to the waiting stand and coordinate "the drop" as close to the center as possible - tightening the screws while the Mrs. holds the tree as straight as possible.
This year I brought the base outside to ensure that the there was enough clearance from the lower branches. The Mrs. poked her head out of the back door and said "Oh, great idea! You're going to put the base on first and then bring it in?"
Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head. And after looking bewildered for a few seconds I said, "Well of course that's what I'm doing! Duh."
And guess what? It worked. Duh.
Falling Christmas trees is nearly an annual event at my parents. We used to be able to blame it on the floor - which wasn't level when it was built in the 1800s. Since they moved however, we have had to blame it on bad seating of the tree. That and placing too many ornaments on one side of the tree. Usually now we get a string to tie the tree upright.