Lum: Onward into 2015 |

Lum: Onward into 2015

Su Lum

Now that I’m retired from the official workforce, I can choose to entirely “embadger” myself in my little miner’s shack for the duration of the holidays. Embadger is my friend Bruce’s apt expression for holing oneself up like a badger deep in its tunnel.

This fall, I bought a small auxiliary freezer, making it even easier to stock up on provisions. In the ’60s when I homesteaded in Alaska, I had to make shopping lists to last for a month (don’t forget the salt!), so I know it’s not that difficult to avoid the 10-day Aspen invasion altogether just by staying home with my supplies.

Internet and Grog Shop deliveries come right to my door, and I can stream Netflix and Amazon movies, so who cares if the car is plowed in and it’s 10 degrees below outside? Let it snow!

A fly in the ointment was my granddaughter Riley’s Christmas box, which I should have sent well before the day instead of well after it because that side of the family was spending the holidays at a remote cabin in Idaho, halfway between Seattle (Riley and Colleen) and Carbondale (Skye and Steve).

Once I missed that, I had to wait until after Christmas so the package wouldn’t be rotting in the rain on Riley’s lawn in Seattle, all of which narrowed the mailing date down to Friday.

Good golly, Miss Molly, I had to lash myself out of the house to run that errand, and that was after I had realized that I really had nothing to show for it and should get out of the Christmas-box operation entirely.

A couple of things that looked hilarious when I bought them at Disneyland in the fall (glow-in-the-dark bubble guns, yeesh), some used books on CD and a bunch of socks that Riley had knitted me over the years that I included for major restorative repairs. Not even any grandmotherly cookies.

I, the worst wrapper, crammed this stuff into the box (“You are going to do this today, so get used to the idea,” I told myself aloud), stuffed money into the socks so it wouldn’t be a total loss and rocked out of my embedded parking spot in the alley, surprised to get out like a popping cork. Hello, world.

It was already snowing (again), so I headed straight for the post office, not my favorite place to go. Some time ago — in what was probably a prudent move — the public clock was removed so you couldn’t see how long you were waiting in line.

I was just heading in and seeing that the line was even worse than I had expected when Ruth Harrison came up behind me and suggested I mail the package using the checkout computer.

Years ago when visiting my aged mother in New Jersey, I made it a point to educate myself to use the self-checkout counters in the grocery stores, but I never took to it. Something always went wrong, bells and whistles would go off, and people would appear to right whatever wrong I had perpetrated.

“I’m too old for that,” I said, but Ruth, a retired teacher of the vintage Aspen kind, wasn’t putting up with that nonsense.

“I can do it,” she said, and she reached for my package.

The operation was not without its pitfalls; other locals were lined up behind us waiting to buy stamps and probably thinking they’d be better off in the main room, but my credit card was finally accepted, the computer spat out the postage, which Ruth slapped on the package, and she dropped it into a secret compartment on the wall that looked like a larger version of the round receptacle where you put your urine-specimen samples at Aspen Valley Hospital.

Mission accomplished.

But there was more. Parked alongside me, Ruth grabbed her little kid’s broom and began sweeping my car off. I peeped protests, but she whacked away, even scraping windshield wipers and, when she was done, snapped, “Don’t ask me again.”

I was glad I went out.

Who loves you guys, one and all? Thanks. Happy new year.

Su Lum is a longtime local who isn’t crying. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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