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winter 2009

Howdy Folks,

Well, the holidays are over. Thank you, Lord! But I feel much like the ancient Egyptians after the scourge of the various plagues visited upon them, especially the plague of locusts.

The tribulations started when our friends Ken and Carol came from Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with us. That, of course, became a three or four-day exercise in gluttony and sundry other debauchery. Instead of turkeys, Shirl buys small Emus to cook on Thanksgiving Day. Even after a ferocious feed by assorted family and friends, whose appetites and table manners would shame a pack of starving hyenas, the size of the bird she buys insures that she and I have to “feast” on leftovers for two weeks. Ah, turkey fritters sautéed in cranberry and green bean casserole sauce…for breakfast!

We barely got rid that fare and it was time for the family Christmas dinner of mid-December. Although we have a twelve-foot long dinning room table, we had so many carnivores that we had to set up two additional tables and cook five (that’s 5, folks) large pot roasts in a dark, rich mushroom gravy. Oh the joyous sounds of Christmas feeding: the snarling, the growling, the snapping. If not bright, it makes the season noisy. And god help the tiny tots that don’t keep their hands close to their plates. We already have one junior member of the family called “Stumpy.”

The day after the family feeding was a Sunday. We got up early and just did finish cleaning up the kitchen and dinning room (a seven-hour chore, seriously), when our friends Pam and Bob from Colorado arrived to heap good cheer and abuse upon us for some seven days or so. For instance, the morning after their arrival, after we had sat up half the previous night, I was sound asleep at five the next morning when I heard this hideous screeching coming from the guest room below our master bedroom—“Cock-a-doodle-do,” a high-pitched mechanical replication of a rooster’s crow went on and on and on. I could hear Pam shouting at Bob to find the alarm clock and shut it off before it woke Jim and Shirl. He shouted back that it was buried somewhere in one of their six suitcases (that’s 6, folks). Everybody else was apparently able to go back to sleep, but I just lay in my bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking about the week ahead…as visions of sugar plums danced in my head.

Pam and Bob left a couple of days before Christmas, and I began preparations for the Christmas Eve dinner that I fix for Shirl and our son, Matt who dutifully comes over to take his mom to midnight church. This meal is always assorted seafood cooked in various Chinese styles. Then the next day, we had our traditional rib roast dinner to which we invited Matt’s best friend and the friend’s grandmother.

But wait a moment. Like that annoying guy on the TV commercials who can’t sell gizmos without screaming, “I’M NOT DONE YET!” we really were not done. Our next-door neighbors, who have become our very good friends, were enjoying visits home from two of their kids enrolled in distant grad schools. A couple of days after Christmas, we fixed a beef brisket dinner for twelve. The next day, just as we finished the kitchen cleanup, Pam and Bob pulled back into the driveway”

Thank god, they thought the tears in my eyes were the result of joy from seeing them again so soon. You see, after they had visited us earlier, they had traveled on to visit their grown kids, but they had not realized that their six suitcases (that’s 6, folks) and sundry boxes of presents and Bob’s favorite recliner left little room in the Audi for Pam’s sister, Kathy, who lives in St. Louis and was riding with them to visit her niece and nephew. So of course, our guest room served as a cargo bay where they stored half their original cargo to make room in the car for Kathy…who was allowed to bring a toothbrush for the trip. Well, it took them a couple of days to repack the Audi for the trip back to Colorado.

But “I’M NOT DONE YET!” Then, and this part was mostly Shirl’s chore, immediately after Pam and Bob left we had to get ready a variety of tasty finger-foods for our New Year’s Eve buffet and poker party. This of course was followed the next day with a New Year’s Day pork roast dinner for eight.

Shirl, who seems to thrive on this madness, says to me: “Honey, I don’t understand it. Every year you’re sick over the holiday season.” SICK! It’s a wonder I have some lungs left to wheeze, some stomach left to churn, some liver left to ossify!

Hope your holidays were as good as mine. I’ve got to go now. We are having mummified slices of leftover pork roast for supper. We have to hurry and clean it up because next week we go to Carol and Ken’s for our belated Christmas celebration…and more revelry! Happy New Year!

Take Care,

Jim

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Jim in front of a classroom, teaching during his tenure on our local school board.


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Jim posed for the River Nymph book cover, chose the lady with the cards model and created the basic design from which Kim Killion worked.


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