Daily Archives: January 30, 2015

Don & Sandy Pyle, The Dry Christmas Tree and Random Memories.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
1. Don Pyle, 1987, was my Best Man!
2. Not convinced Dom & Sandy perished in the fire.


From CNN. Click to access. Google for 500 more!

I still find this hard to believe. That Don and Sandy supposedly perishing in a fire.

That Sandy kept a 15′ Christmas tree in the house three weeks past Christmas (to amuse the grandkids) does not surprise me. That is the kind of stuff that Sandy did. I can believe that in their hurly burly lifestyle she forgot to water it. But, I have to believe she had hired help and one of them should have remembered.

While the experts have come up with this verdict, I am a bit skeptical. I can’t see Sandy using anything other than the state-of-the-art LED lighting. Even if she didn’t ‘new’ lights have fuses in the plugs and new houses have hair-trigger circuit breakers. The other night a 150W light burnt out in our bedroom and that act of ‘blowing’ was enough to trip the circuit breaker. Their mansion was built two years prior to this house. So, I am not totally convinced though I do know how dry Christmas trees go up, WHOOSH, when they catch fire. Around March, when we still have plenty of snow on the ground, I burn the two 6′ trees we get each Christmas. That they go up, WHOOSH, at once cannot be doubted.

I have other questions too. A mansion that big would have had at least two staircases. Plus there had to have, by law, been multiple ways to egress the upper floor. I bought a waterfront house, on Lake Winnipesaukee (N.H.) in early 2001. Since it was ‘old’ I promptly proceeded to have it remodelled and updated. The biggest ‘grief’ that I got from the local building inspector was that he wanted me to put in bigger windows. It was the law. All the windows had to be big enough for egress, to the overhanging roof below! The mansion MUST have had decks. To me it does NOT compute. I remain skeptical and unconvinced.

Got me thinking. As a Brit, I grew up with this tradition that your Christmas tree had to be out of the house by the 12th day of Christmas — or it would be very bad luck. The 12th Day of Christmas, contrary to what many think, is not counted from before Christmas. It is counted as of Christmas. The 12th Day of Christmas is January 6 — Epiphany. I always make sure that we get the trees out by the 6th. This year we had the 2nd tree out about 6pm on the 5th. But after the news of the fire, it made me realize. This age old tradition was most likely to prevent fires from dry trees! I so wish Sandy had kept to that tradition.

But this should be a lesson for all of us.

In memory of Don & Sandy let us all resolve that henceforth we will get our Christmas trees out by the 12th Day of Christmas.


Got me thinking. We used to, by mail, exchange Christmas presents. I think it was Christmas 1987. Sandy sent a wicker basket full of wax infused pine cones. You put the pine cones into the fire and they made all sorts of lovely colors. [Today you can but plastic tubes of chemicals that do this, and Teischan loves them.] It was cute and a load of fun. Now I will never be able to look at a fire without thinking of Sandy.

Wednesday was January 28. The 29th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I am always reminded of Sandy whenever the Challenger gets mentioned. We, CASE Communications, had a trade show in D.C. that week of the Challenger Launch. Sandy used to be the marketing person in charge of trade shows. I had been at the booth all day Monday. I was scheduled for the afternoon shift on Tuesday. I drove down to D.C., in the snow, from Woodbine, Md., where I was living. Just before I got close to where I was going to park I heard the news of the disaster. I bounded into the hall. It wasn’t very busy. The snow had kept most people away and it was close to lunch. I get to the booth. The only person at the booth was Sandy. So I tell her the news, breathlessly. She didn’t believe me. Called me sick pup, and walked away. Came back a few minutes later, in shock. She had seen a TV monitor. I always remember that. Her not believing me and calling me a ‘sick pup’.

Thinking back ‘sick pup’ was the term she used most when talking to me! I am sure that nobody, but nobody else, has called me a ‘sick puppy’ as often as Sandy did. But, I can’t complain. She called Don (‘Gomer’) ‘sick pup’ nearly as often. As I said in an earlier post, we were not in the office much. We both travelled extensively. But if we were in the office and we were together, and Sandy saw us as she walked by, she would, without fail go: “what are YOU two sick puppies up to now?” They were good times. We did have a lot of fun.

And I have to share this one memory because it is so special. There is only one time, as far as we know, that Sandy went dumpster diving. And she did it for me! About 4 hours prior to the wedding, where Don was my Best Man, we discovered that we could not find the marriage license. There were phone calls flying around and much finger pointing. It was supposed to have been in a bag with a knife to cut the cake. After 40 minutes of everybody tearing all the rooms apart and shouting at each other, Sandy decided that the bag must have got thrown out the night before. She was still dressed in jeans and she was determined she was going to find it. We had had one heck of a snowstorm the day before and there was lots of snow outside.

It appears that Sandy went to the kitchen got one of the waiters and went outside to where they kept the dumpster for the hotel waste. She then, per what soon became the talk of the ‘Inn’, proceeded to climb in. Climbed on to the rim and then lowered her self in! The snow helped. She found the bags that had been tossed the night before and one of them had the license. She marched back, a bit grungy, while the rest of us, including Don, were still ripping things apart holding it aloft, triumphantly, and saying: “I am not sure what you clowns are going to be doing, but I am going to take a shower”! That was Sandy.

Don misplaced the rings but that was minor. 

So, I have a lot to remember them by. It is a shame we lost touch. Partly my fault. I have a propensity to do that. I get busy and unless people stay in touch with me via e-mail I kind of drift away. Since Don & Sandy I have been trying to put that right. I contacted two mutual friends who I had not kept in touch with. So that at least was good. [That one of them, Patrice, left a comment on this post today is good.]

I have a great memory of Don but I can’t really spell it all out. It was a fancy old hotel in Pittsburgh. Don was dressed in a new black suit and had the jacket in his hand. It was about 11 o’clock at night and he was, head down, sprinting down the corridor ….

We had so much fun together. Overriding memory is of huge smiles, lots of laughs, flippant remarks, many a drink, driving to Philly in his Beamer and getting called a ‘sick puppy’.

Why I Personally Find Heated Driveways In Central New Hampshire, Where We Get Some Snow, A SLAP In The Face To Society.

.wasteyyy563Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
by Anura Guruge

Helping-Others-ShoesOn Tuesday while we were still getting snow coming down at probably an inch an hour Deanna informed me that some folks who had moved to Wolfeboro (N.H.) had a heated driveway on their main house, on the water, so that it would also be clear of snow. She thought it would amuse me. It didn’t. It made me rather sad for man’s insensitivity to man. 

Garage pad  and tacks  Christmas 2010 StormIt is not the money. I do NOT begrudge them their money. They earned it and they can spend it, and I am all for conspicuous consumption, because that helps the economy and that is good for all of us. This is what bothers me about opting for snow melt solutions, especially heated driveways, in an area that gets more than its fair share of snow: the wantonness, the missed opportunity to help those around who NEED work to support their families and lastly, the irresponsible waste of natural resources [i.e., the extra coal (or oil) that has to be burned to generate the electricity to power the heating mats.]

Wanton waste of anything bothers me. I have no issue with private planes, $300,000 cars, multimillion dollar yachts, $87,100 for a Patek Philippe, $47,000 for Hasselblad H5D-200c, $20,000 night for a hotel suite or $340 million for a painting. Because in such cases you are paying for excellence — or something different. But, a heated driveway is not in that league. It is just wanton waste. To fritter money away to heat a drive to keep snow away WHEN you could pay a local person, a fraction of the overall cost, to do the same SMACKS on social irresponsibility. I am not talking about charity. I am talking about hiring a local person to keep your drive clear of snow and ice, rather than spending the tens of thousands it costs to install the heated driveways and the operational costs to keep them running when it is snowing.

There is a lot of poverty around the Lakes Region. But people who move up here from the South, and immediately enroll their kids in private school (and as boarders too so that they can get them heck the way out of their lives) and have no idea that our public schools around here have kids whose parents can’t afford to feed them adequately. We have all sorts of programs which eventually result in some of these kids getting backpacks of food on Friday to tide them over the weekend. I have also heard that we have a few kids who are homeless. Again I am not talking about charity. I am talking trickle down economics. Hire a local person, an unemployed father with three kids to feed or a 18 year old, with no job, who would love to make some money. They will keep your drive cleared. The unemployed father, probably a contractor outside of the winter, has a truck with a blade. The kid would probably gladly shovel. I know. I have hired both types. When I was living in Gilford, and my life consisted of traveling, mainly by air, 3 to 4 days a week, I found a local contractor and cut a deal. I needed to get to Logan or Manchester at crazy hours of the day and I would get back to Gilford at even crazier times, like 2 am in the morning. If it was snowing, and snowing badly, I needed to make sure that I could get through and I had a Cadillac FWD STS and a Volvo (something) 70 that could go through snow better than most. I would tell him my schedule and he had the drive and if necessary the whole road up to Rte 11 plowed for me. He would sometimes be there at 3am if I was leaving at 4 or 1am if I was coming back at 2:30. I paid him. He was happy. He needed the money. I was happy on all fronts. Trickle down economy. My clients paid for me (handsomely) to travel and I paid my ‘man’ to make sure I could travel during the winter.

So those are my first two gripes. Do not tell me that it doesn’t cost much to use electric heat to keep a drive clear of snow. Electric is not cheap in N.H., especially in Wolfeboro. I think their rate is 13 cents per kWh. I actually found this quote, here, from a contractor who actually sells and installs heated driveways. His quote: ‘they appear to be eating up power when they are running, making an electric meter look “like an old 78 record”’. Nice. QED. So don’t try to convince me that it is cost effective. If it was we would have them everywhere.

The arrogant, abhorrent disregard for wasting natural resources is my other gripe. Notice I complained about Hannaford wasting paper! I am consistent when it comes to natural resource conservation, if nothing else. I do not believe in global warming caused by greenhouse gases. But, I do know that we are consuming, at far too fast a rate, finite resources like coal, oil, gas and trees. We, in this country, in this state, burn coal or oil (not counting Seabrook) to produce electricity. So using electricity eats into our ‘reserve’ of coal and oil. Not good.

Well, I got that off my chest. I would hate a heated driveway. It would bother my dogs and I could not have that. Having the two dogs rolicking in the drive, in and out of the snow, while we shovel is one of my greatest pleasures these snowy days. I would hate to see them picking up their poor little paws in confusion to work out why the ground is hot. People are funny, but they are also insensitive.