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winter 2004

Howdy folks,

I fear this newsletter is going to read like an itinerary of the travels of Shirl Henke. Poor ole Jim just gets to stay home and write newsletters. An unpaid publicist-spouse.

In October, Shirl drove over to Kansas City for the Romantic Times convention with her buddies Eileen Dreyer and Elizabeth Grayson. As usual, it was a great "crush," with countless writers, agents, booksellers, readers, vagrants, and assorted creepy people in attendance. Shirl got to pal around with old friends (not creepy people) Heather Graham and her husband Denis, Kat and Larry Martin, Nan Ryan, Lady of Barrow Kathryn Falk, Carol Stacy, and a bunch of others whom I am forgetting to mention. There was a big book fair and Shirl sold out of her copies of recent Leisure release Yankee Earl. Dorchester/Leisure threw a big party and a good time was had by all--even the vagrants-- don't know about the creepy people; nobody talks to them.

Shirl wasn't home long when she took off again, this time with a mob of my female cousins and sister for a trip to Minnesota, to the Mall of the Americas. I will never understand the workings of the female mind: to pay $250 to fly up to the arctic, live in an igloo by a shopping mall, so that you can spend three days abusing your feet by walking around all day on a concrete floor, buying things you have no need of, and call it fun? I'd rather suck stuff out of the septic tank!

Apparently, this mall is four stories high with about seventy-eleven thousand stores in it and an amusement park in the center, complete with a roller coaster! Ye gods. Well, my one cousin Sharon and my sister Carol are into crafts and collectibles (read garish trash).

I am sure their purchases alone filled one cargo plane, at least, with little elf figurines for their yards and assorted dolls and plates to clutter their houses. I won't tell you what Shirl bought, but I try to stay out of our guest bathroom; so do the cats.

Over Thanksgiving, we had a nice break from Shirl's travels when our friends the Voits came to visit for a week. Oh, they didn't bring their horses. Tends to scare the cats. We acted as tour guides for various sights around St. Louis, a few of which I had never seen myself. For instance, I have lived here for 97 years and never toured the Anheiser-Busch Brewery. Perhaps, that is because I don't drink (Budweiser, that is). One of the most interesting things on the tour was a TV monitor that continually ran various TV commercials for Bud. You have not seen, nor will you see, these commercials on your screen at home. Some were obviously European and sold the beer by linking it to sexually suggestive situations. Others were obviously American (no sex) but so grossly funny that I am certain they ended up on the cutting room floor. Best part of the tour except for the free beer. (Well, when there's nothing else, I will drink Budweiser.)

Ah yes, one more Shirl excursion to report. In March, she goes to the Novelist Inc. convention down in Santa Fe. She'll probably buy rocks and have them shipped home. Of course, I'm not going.

On the domestic front, perhaps the most important item concerns our son Matt who has been living with us for the last fifty-nine years. Last January, Matt finally got another job in telecom. His last two positions in the field dissolved underneath him as the two companies went belly up. Thank you lord, this company seems stable, the job pays decently, he saved enough money to buy a fancy late-model car, and about a month ago (debt-free) he moved out again into his own apartment, taking his brute of a cat Max with him. Some things are worth staying home for. Can I have a hallelujah?


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