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winter 2007

Howdy folks,

Well, the season(s) of gluttony are finally passing. Amen! We have survived the annual visit of our Colorado friends the Voits. (You may recall that I have told you about Bob's eating habits. He must eat quite frequently to keep up his blood sugar. He surely must be the sweetest man on the earth. Still, he never seems to gain weight; but in trying to keep up with him, Shirl and I sure do.) Then, this year, my middle sister, who was convicted of malicious food abuse when she last tried to cook an elaborate dinner for the family, decided that she had to cook the Thanksgiving turkey dinner at her new home in some god-forsaken place called Beaufort, Missouri. Of course, since Carol is still on parole for her last culinary crime and since Shirl has always cooked the turkey, Shirl went down Wednesday morning to start pre-dinner preparations. Unfortunately, Carol violated her parole by mashing the potatoes for dinner. They were lumpy. I drove 75 miles for lumpy potatoes. You got to love your sister to drive 75 miles for her lumpy potatoes and not say anything to her. And if any of you know her and tell her of this newsletter, I will personally track you down and give you a lumpy skull.

Shirl and I also give a large pre-Christmas dinner for both sides of the family every year. Now, my family likes food, by the shovel-loads. They are indiscriminate as dumpsters…as long as the food is some shade of brown. The conversation among the 22 relatives who attended this year's dinner is an illustration: "Chomp, chomp. Did you try the beige? It was delicious! Chomp. Not nearly as tasty as the tan. Chomp, chomp, chomp. How was the russet? A bit too spicy for me. Chomp. Well, I liked it a lot better than the taupe. Oh yuk, it had gray and yellow in it! Chomp, chomp. Well, what's a little mistake here and there? Absolutely nobody cooks brown the way Shirl does."

Things ran not so smoothly the first time Shirl did the family holiday dinner. I forgot to tell her of the "brown rule." She placed a large platter of steamed asparagus on the table. Oh lord! My goddaughter and youngest cousin Sharon shrieked (her husband says "If it don't cluck, moo, or oink, Sharon don't eat it"). She grabbed her knife and fork crisscrossed them to form a cross and thrust this talisman over the vegetables. Did you know that the only way to kill a stalk of asparagus is to drive an oak stake through its heart?

Panther, the black tomcat, is still very much with us at 24, close to 25 years of age even though in the last two years he has had more strokes than a golfer with a handicap of 50. Pan is like some demonic feline Energizer Bunny. He is the equivalent of 120 in human years, but refuses to die; rather, he lives to torment. His claws will no longer retract, so they get clumped up with pee-pie from the litter box. Then, I have to pick him up, flop him on his back on my lap, while Shirl takes wet paper towels and pulls the mess from between his toes. Almost as bad, he will not longer eat cat food or canned baby food, so I boil chicken thighs, tear the meat to shreds, then feed it to him in small bits every couple of hours. I find myself babbling in frustration: "Please, sweet Pan, won't you eat for daddy? He's made it so yummy-nummy for you." The mangy old black devil just squints at me, grunts, and gases. I have not lived the most righteous of lives, but I don't deserve this.

May your new year be whatever color you wish…and odorless.

Take care


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