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Archive for December 2011

Spokane Falls Family Clinic Pharmacy robbed at gunpoint

Good morning, Netizens…


Egods, some malfunctioning member of society robbed my favorite clinic pharmacy at gunpoint yesterday. Spokane Falls Family Clinic's pharmacy is in the basement of the building at 120 West Mission. Despite the fact that police arrived within minutes of the robbery, the robber(s) got away, perhaps in a Volvo ostensibly with a white trunk.


They didn't get any Oxycontin, though. There is a big sign over the counter that states the clinic no longer stocks the drug, a favorite of street merchants everywhere. However the chances are fair the culprits probably did not or could not read the sign.


For nearly a decade I have been purchasing all my prescriptions from Spokane Falls. They are cheaper by far over the “big box stores” and their personnel are truly caring and friendly. For the last few years, I have been playing a light-hearted game with them I call “The Word of the Day” each time I drop by to fill a prescription. The game goes thus: I give them a word, typically one of the most misspelled words, and if they spell it correctly, they win a free latte of their choice. Just so my record is safe, in over ten years I have paid for five coffee drinks.


Obviously the robbers weren't into playing “The Word of the Day”. They were more interested in getting high. Maybe if the police get lucky and capture these dangerous fools, they will have lots of disposable time to improve their personal vocabularies.



Thoughts on Christmas traditions…,

Good morning, Netizens…


For Cindy…


I read an article by Cindy Hval in yesterday's Spokesman-Review called Front Porch: Christmas Traditions Move Along that spoke volumes to me about Christmas Traditions, most of which I never enjoyed until recent years. In her piece, Cindy opens up the doorway of perception, allowing us as readers into her personal space at Christmas time. All those quaint, heartwarming bits and pieces of Christmas ornaments, her Norwegian heritage, her kids and their Christmas stockings, even her infamously misbehaving cats all have become part of her tradition of Christmas.


However, as both she and my wife have taught me, much to our chagrin, even Christmas traditions move on from where they once were to new places and new ways of being. Cindy's reverie of Christmas traditions almost brought me to tears, not so much because I shared so many of them, but I never shared most of them until I married a woman with strong traditional background over a decade ago, and my life has never been the same since.


When it comes to Christmas traditions, I cannot help but remember the late Gus Jordan, a cab driver in downstate Illinois, who once started my first Christmas tradition quite by accident. It was a time of solitary transition, when I was in the midst of beginning a career driving long-haul trucks for a living. I made a promise to Gus, late one Christmas Eve, that I would somehow manage, despite the miles that were to separate us, that once in awhile I would find my way back to wherever he happened to be driving his cab, to spend Christmas Eve with him, a promise which I kept for several years until his death.


Since neither of us had much in the way of family lives that we could cling on to, our Christmas tradition consisted of a quiet meal in one of the many hole-in-the-wall eating places we both knew well, and driving around in his cab throughout the downstate area looking at the Christmas lights and listening to Christmas carols on the AM radio. One Christmas Eve we even drove from South Chicago to East Saint Louis where we welcomed Christmas in Gas Light Square singing carols with a Dixieland Jazz band in some forgotten bistro.


I am beginning to learn the new traditions of Christmas from my wife. This Christmas Eve we attended a thought-provoking Christmas Eve service at a nearby church. Like Cindy, I haven't clung to the old traditions. Instead, I have made new ones.



Sears and Kmart to close…


Good morning, Netizens…


With the news that Sears and K-Mart have already publicly announced that they may be closing as many as 120 stores nationwide, largely due to tough economic times, one can see the impact of Christmas 2011 shopping season. This pair of huge retailers which are owned by the hedge fund manager Edward Lampert, has seen sales decline every year since the $11 billion merger of the two chains in 2005. They face further closings to cut expenses, preserve cash and push back against rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Inc, analysts said.


If you go to one can read the list of stores slated to close in the future, although the list is already outdated and the actual locations of the stores yet to be closed remain uncertain.


K-Mart, founded in 1962, has faced severe competition from WalMart which repopularized its layaway program this year to make it easier for low income shoppers to make purchases by paying in installments. Kmart has found itself squeezed between Wal-Mart's low prices and Target's trendier offerings, while Sears has faced more intense competition for electronics and lower prices, and less demand for household appliances. Sears blamed electronics for more than half the decline in holiday sales.


Wall Street analysts have long faulted Sears for letting its stores become stale, even as rivals ranging from Macy's Inc., J.C. Penney Co, Inc, Target Corp. and Wal-Mart remodeled and spruced up their stores during the pre-Christmas rush in 2011.


It would seem apparent that if you didn't like your vision of retail big-box stores during the latest round of Christmas, the demise of Sears and K-Mart probably are not going to improve your outlook. You will have less variety, fewer choices from which to make your purchases. Not that you will recognize any true savings.


It remains to be seen whether Sears or K-Mart will rebound in the new year, which is too bad, really. I always was fond of the original Sears and Roebucks catalogs, and still remember being able to purchase nearly anything I needed, from tools to shoes, at reasonable prices via the parcel post. At the rate we're going, we may not even have parcel post in the near-future.



The Story of Christmas…

Good morning, folks,

As a writer and journalist, I strive each year to create vivid characters
that reach out to your imagination, to indwell in your consciousness and
allow you to enjoy all the rich, full range of the emotions. Each year, as
has been my habit for over a decade online, I have sent an electronic
Christmas card to everyone on my personal writer's mailing list, and this
year is no exception.

No, this won't be an exercise in plagiarism, by sending each of you graphics
or highly ornate Christmas cards by e-mail, for I know of lots and lots of
people who do that as witnessed by how my e-mail bogs down each and every
year about this time, no matter how robust I build my servers. No, this is a
story, one of the oldest stories I know by heart, and each year I rejoice in
retelling it, over and over again.

In 1983, which is the first year I began this tradition, my mailing list had
only 28 names in it (yes, I have a writer's archive that reaches back that
far) but when I sent out my first Christmas Card, we didn't have the World
Wide Web quite working yet in Spokane, so it was a text file. By 1990 the
numbers of people receiving this same text file had grown to over 60, and
now on the cusp of the new millenium, it numbers around 500 people.

However, in 1992, much to my surprise, I found myself reduced to tears by
the telling of this annual story, because people, most of whom I have never
or will possibly will never meet in my life sent copies of the story they
had received either from me or others, to THEIR friends, adding little bits
of sentiment of their own, perhaps items about their families, afterward.
Last year, over 3200 such messages followed my original posting. As one
system administrator in Bayview, New York observed:

     “…I felt compelled to respond to this, as it came to me through half
a dozen other people, and although it is one of those dreaded “chain
letters” that one encounters so often on the internet these days, I agree
with you— it is well worth repeating and passing on. Merry Christmas to you
and your loved ones. “

It is with humility and best wishes in my heart, I am proud to present the
greatest Christmas story of all time, and I give it to each of you as our
personal gift, in the hopes that you will read the story, take it into your
heart, cherish it and yes, please, pass it onto someone you love.


                             THE CHRISTMAS STORY
                         As told by a man named Luke
                                 Luke 2:1-17

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar
Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first
made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, everyone unto his own city.  And Joseph also went
up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of
David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage
of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his expoused wife, being great with child. And so it
was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should
be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in
swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for
them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping
watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon
them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tiding
of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in
the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the babe wrapped in
swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in
the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the
shepherds said on to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see
this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in
the manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying
which was told them concerning this child.


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the only true star of Christmas, in a story
that has withstood the test of time for us all, Emmanuel, which translates
from the Aramaic to mean, Christ with us.

May all the blessings of this most joyous time of year be with you and those
you love most dearly. May you be overwhelmed with the depth of love that the
Birth of the Christ Child represents to all our lives, and may it give you
Peace and Goodwill to all men.


Dave Laird (
Suzanne Laird(
…and a cast of 100's of  The Community Comment Blog…

Tale of the Teddy Bears…

Tales From the Front, an ongoing series of stories started four
years ago, offers a means to explore aspects of human nature
which often go unnoticed in the rush and throng of modern
society. In this, the first of four Christmas Tales From the
Front for 1992, we meet a modern-day nurse who, upon losing her
place in the book of life, finds that she still has the means to
discover the meaning of Christmas.

                             TALES FROM THE FRONT

                              The Christmas Bear
                          Copyright 1992 Dave Laird

The wet snow fell earlier than usual that year. The number of
auto wrecks added a particularly heavy load on the hospital
emergency room, so Sue was glad when it drew close to time to go
home. No more battered bodies, children shrilly screaming in
pain, no more crying out in pain. She glanced overhead at the
clock. Only fifteen more minutes to go, yet as soon as the
thought crossed her mind, she heard the ambulance radio come to
life, and in the distance she could hear the sound of a siren
beginning to wail.

Code Blue. Car accident. A child and her mother. She checked the
carts in both of the unused emergency rooms once more, finished
restocking just as the ambulance backed up to the entrance in the
deep slushy snow outside.

“Ohmigod.” someone cried out softly, choking, as the first of the
two stretchers were pushed into the emergency room, for on the
first stretcher the broken, shattered remains of a young woman
was terribly mangled. Most of her face was badly lacerated, and
where her right breast had been was badly dented inward, with
pieces of fractured bone sticking out between the shards of what
remained of her blouse. Her eyes were closed, almost as if to
ward off the inevitable pain. Vital signs were not good, but with
luck, she would live.

The second stretcher bore a small girl, perhaps 10 or 12 years
old. She appeared conscious, but unmoving.

“Put the mother in Room 2 and the daughter in Room 5,” Sue
crisply said, directing the attendants from the ambulance crew.

“I'll take the mom.” Lou Ann, the other Registered Nurse in the
E.R. whispered briskly, striding off behind the first stretcher.

The procedure was deeply imbedded into her consciousness.
Establish blood pressure and respiratory rate. Check for visible
trauma. Pulse checked in thready, breathing shallow. Shock, like
an unwanted visitor, lingered close at hand. A bruise at the base
of the girl's neck, extended around the rear only to emerge on
the other side. The girl continued to lay still, a stolid look on
her face, her deep brown eyes staring soundlessly back at her.

“What's your name?” Silence.

“Do you know who I am? I'm the nurse that's going to help your
mommy get better.” Stillness dripped, like an ugly viscous fluid,
into seconds, then minutes.

“Don't you want your mommy to get better?” She leaned over the
stretcher, examining more closely. Little girls on the verge of
shock were never quiet.

“If you can hear my voice, blink your eyes for me.” At last, the
long lashes closed briefly over the deep dark eyes, only to

She reached over and hit the intercom button.

“Dr. Lindley, could you come in here as soon as possible? I have
a little girl who is paralyzed.”

Minutes later, when the doctor arrived, he confirmed her worst
fears. Injury at the base of the head, possibly nerve damage.
Loss of all psychomotor activity, hence the silent, forbearing
look on her face. Otherwise she would have, in typical little
girl fashion, been screaming her lungs out.

Before the ward nurse came to take the little girl away for X-
rays, Sue held up a button-nosed teddy bear where the little girl
could see it. The teddy bears, donated by the Hospital Auxiliary
for such occasions, seemed to soothe little boys and girls who
were frequently terrorized by the unknown.

The eyes blinked once more at her, until as the stretcher was
moved down the hall, the twin swinging doors closed, as the
little face swathed in white sheets with a teddy bear sitting up
next to her on the stretcher, disappeared from view.

She checked in on the little girl about a half hour later, after
once more cleaning and sterilizing the emergency room. She kept
her voice even, happy, not daring to tell the girl that she no
longer had a mother. Under the watchful gaze of the pair of
sombre eyes on the stretcher, the best that she could do for the
littlest patient and her newfound friend, the bear, was to hold
her lifeless hand, and before she left, tuck the teddy bear in
beside her on the stretcher.

It was six in the morning on Christmas Eve, and as she left the
hospital nearly an hour late, it was beginning to snow once more.

She had done much of her Christmas shopping during the flurry of
sales just after Thanksgiving, yet she still needed to buy
something undefined and special for her dad, not to mention buy
groceries for the big feast that was slated to take place at her
house on Christmas Day. Her folks would be there, along with her
daughter, Melanie, and Larry.

Her heart warmed at the thought of Larry, her good-looking,
boyfriend, for since he had entered her life nearly six months
ago, he had increasingly become the center of her life. At first,
it had been tranquil dinners up at the ski lodge. Then there were
passionate weekends spent up at a friend's lake cabin. Their
relationship had continued to spiral inward until they were
seeing each other exclusively, nearly every night of the week.
She had already begun to admit to herself that even after her
bitter divorce two years ago, she was falling in love, and this
time it felt different. Trust in men was beginning to return to
her life.

On an impulse, instead of driving down the hill toward home, and
some sleep, she turned instead toward Larry's apartment.

Opening the door with the key he had given her, she had an
indefinate notion of perhaps fixing his breakfast while he slept
in. She tiptoed into his bedroom, trying not to squeak the door.
Yet, when the door squeaked loudly, a figure moved in the gray
half-light that lay on the bed.

“Who's there?”

Instead of Larry's deep bass voice, a woman's voice all full of
sleep and slurry with unanticipated awakenings, floated across
the room.

Indignation, betrayal, pain. Somewhere inside her, a voice
started crying out. Only after several seconds did she realize
that she was screaming, at the woman, at Larry. She started
crying, and turned to leave.

Larry grabbed at her shoulder, missed. She slapped his face hard
once, twice, then with the anguish of the scorned, tried to
scratch his face.

Although off-balance from the slaps to his face, he struck back,
his marine training finally discovering a macabre fulfillment. A
savate kick to the midsection. Sue stooped over, the breath
already leaving her midsection. He snapped his arm over his head
in the classic karate chop, and dropped her neatly unconscious to
the carpet with a blow to the back of her neck.

Today, nearly two years later, Sue remembers that morning, seldom
dotes upon it, but never mentions it to anyone, save trusted, few
friends. Although she can talk, she no longer works as an R.N. at
the hospital where she was treated, for she, like the little girl
who was her last patient, is now a quadraplegic. She spends her
days, frantically attempting to continue living life
independently, save for the bevy of nurses, nurses aides and home
care professionals who sustain her new life.

Larry has already completed his jail term, and is once more a
free man, once more the predatory animal he was when she first
met him. He has a new apartment, a new job, a new girlfriend to
whom he is engaged to be married. He filed bankruptcy. He is a
new man.

Her hands, her legs, are lifeless and limp. Yet, sitting upright
in her bed, she can gaze out her front window, where it is
beginning to snow once more, and as the twilight fades into
evening, here and there, across the city, she can see the
Christmas lights coming on. Carolers from the church up the
street come by, stand beneath the street light and sing a few
desultory carols before wandering off in the snow.

She is nearly asleep. The sound of her bedroom door opening
gently rouses her.

“Huh? Who is it?” she asked, thinking it probably was the nurse's

A faded old elf of man, all dressed up in a filthy dirty red and
white suit limps in the door, dragging some sort of a bag over
his shoulder.

“Okay, who's idea of a joke is this?”

“It's no joke, Sue. Come with me.”

“What? You know I'm paralyzed, for Christ's sake. I can't move,
can't feel anything from the neck down. Besides, I don't even
know who you are.”

“Yes, you know who I am. Reach out and take my hand.”

She did, and somehow was not surprised that she could move her
legs once more, stand up and walk with the old man toward her
bedroom door. There, standing just outside the open door, was the
little girl she had treated in the emergency room nearly two
years before. Just before they crossed the threshold, he handed
her a button-nosed, teddy bear, and together, the three of them
walked forth into the sunlight and the haze outside.

Sue and Rebecca, once mutually associated with a house of pain on
a hill in Spokane, Washington, now have gone onto a better place
with an old man dressed up in a red suit. He came bearing gifts
for each of them, special Christmas bears which were made
especially for this occasion.

The Talemaster turns yet another page, and speaks once more.

“Turn the page, child. I'll tell you another tale when you are

Santa’s Ride…

Hello Everyone!

This is yet another of my almost-true stories about Christmas. However, unlike most, in this story I became not only the author but the protagonist, as well. Although in the final version, which you are about to read, I gave Freddy the Logger the credit, whom some of you may know from reading The Springdale Tales, in actuality, I was the Santa in this story. The Darigold milk truck was, indeed, stuck in the snow, and I happened upon it in time to strike a bargain with the route manager and thus procure the milk for distribution. That Christmas Eve, armed only with a Toyota 4X4 full of milk,

I made the first (and possibly the last) ever Santa's ride distributing milk to all the needy families I knew in Springdale. Coincidental to this story, I also managed to capture what I feel is the essence of a real-life character you know by his non de plume of Freddy the Logger. I hope you enjoy it…


Santa's Ride

by Homer Pheeder

Copyright by Dave Laird


Freddy the Logger roundly cursed the guy in the gold Honda driving ahead of him on the highway that meanders between the set of hills that separate Loon Lake and Springdale. He had been following the car since Deer Park and had not once been able to pass in the heavy holiday traffic although he had stuck his head out the window several times to yell at the driver ahead to turn off and let him pass. When that failed, he resorted to leaning out the window sporadically to describe the errant driver's family tree, and almost got a face full of half-frozen road sludge for his efforts.

Here it was,Christmas Eve and Freddy, against all his better judgement,had gone to Spokane to make some last minute purchases for his girlfriend. Of course, on the way home, he had to stop at the Red Hound Tavern in Deer Park to pick up reinforcements,in the form of a half-rack of Ranier Ale since miles, like cutting logs in Stevens County, are often measured in cans of beer. It takes half a rack to log a half-acre of ground, and a half-rack to drive 200 miles.

His rancor on the rise after fighting the crowds in the mall, Freddy the Logger was in no mood for a long, slow drive home behind some farmer in a clattertrap smoky Honda. It was getting close to dark, and his personal bar stool at the Reservation Tavern was calling to him as certainly as a wife might call her husband in from the fields.

He took another sip from his beer only after surreptitiously checking both mirrors for sign of the State Patrol.

“Screw Christmas!” his muttered darkly. “…n' screw all the prairie Hebes that drive Hondas, too.”, he added, bringing to mind his generic slur for anyone of questionable race, creed or political affiliation.

Freddy the Logger has been an instinctively curious man since birth. If something appears abstract, obtuse or otherwise the least bit out of the ordinary, without fail he turns aside, stops dead in his tracks inexorably altering his path to investigate. Ahead, on a obscure side road off Highway 395, he could clearly see that a big milk truck he'd earlier noticed sitting alongside the road had not yet moved since his trip to town.

“Why would anyone park a milk truck clear the hell out here?” Freddy mused. “With the damn temperature down close to zero, if they sit there long enough, they are gonna' freeze that load of milk up tighter'n a witches tit.”

Like the predictable creature of habit that he was,he gingerly tapped the brakes and pulled off on the side road, driving down the narrow farming road to where the truck was parked.In his headlights, he could see clearly why the truck hadn't moved. The wheels on the passenger side of the big rig had slid off the roadway into a deep drainage ditch, trapping the truck in what amounted to chest high snow.

“Goddamn got her stuck good…” he laughed to himself. “They'll need a crane to pull her out of there.”

Someone, obviously the driver of the truck,came walking over to the side of Freddy's truck, wrapped in an oversize flannel mackinaw.

“Looks like you got a problem there friend,” Freddy commented dryly, rolling down his window. “Do you need a lift somewhere, or maybe somebody to make a phone call for 'ya?”

“Nah.” the driver said bitterly. “I already called twice, and there's nobody in the shop to come out with a tow truck until 8 a.m. tomorrow. The milk is already froze up tighter'n a drum so I'm in no hurry. I got a thermos o'hot coffee in the cab, a full load of fuel and as long as the motor still runs, I'm warm. Just stuck is all. ”

“Y'say the milk is froze up?” Freddy asked, his mind whirling.

At first, Freddy didn't make the connection. The truck was stuck, the milk frozen, and that was that. With a flash of genius spawned by idle curiosity tinged with opportunity, suddenly it was upon him. There was nothing wrong with frozen milk, if you put it in the refrigerator and let it thaw, why it was just as good as milk you bought in the store.

“So, what are you gonna do with all the frozen milk?”

“Shit, I don't know. The law says the comp'ny can't sell it to the public after it's been froze so I guess they'll just dump it. I've been here since four this morning, waitin' on a damn tow truck, so I say 'piss on 'em. They should have thought about the milk back several hours ago before now.”

“Christ, that seems a shame.” Freddy murmured unctuously. “I hate to see all that milk goin'to waste.” He paused, then looking directly at the driver, as if to read his deepest thoughts, and asked,”I don't suppose that's there's any way I could talk you out of some frozen milk, since they're gonna dump it anyway, now is there…”

“What the hell are you gonna do with 3000 gallons of milk?”

“Well,” Freddy scratched his chin speculatively, “I don't know if I could carry all 3000 gallons in this old truck, but I got a good use for as much as I can carry. Y'see, I know this hog farmer, kind of a broken-down old hippy hog farmer up the road here a piece, and I know he can feed the milk to his hogs. I'm sure he would be grateful, and I damn sure know those scrawny hogs of his would be tickled to death to have something better than the crap he feeds 'em. Why all the poor bastard feeds 'em is corn cobs and molasses…”

“I can't see where anyone would bitch.” The driver muttered. “I had this happen once before, and gave some froze-up milk to a family down by Medical Lake, and nobody said squat.”

He thought a second more, then added, “Well, I guess it won't hurt anything. Pull yer truck around back and take as much as you want. If you'll pardon me, you're gonna have to load it yourself, 'cuz I'm gettin' back in the cab where it's warm.”

Without further ado, Freddy backed his old one ton truck gingerly up to the rear of the milk truck, wisely putting on a pair of heavy wool gloves, proceeded to load his truck up to the gunwales with gallon after gallon of frozen milk in white plastic jugs, humming to himself the whole time.

When there was no more room for not even one more carton in the back of his truck, he climbed into the warmth of the cab, popped the tab on a fresh can of ale, and pulled back around the front of the stalled truck.

“You have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, hear?” he yelled out the window at the driver sitting inside.

Once back on the road, he started speculating about his new fortune, over and over, like a cow chewing on its cud.

“Now what the hell am I gonna do with 500 gallons of frozen milk? You should have started thinking about that before you loaded it on the truck. Here I am, half froze myself, and all I have to show for it is a truck load of frozen moo juice. Too bad it wasn't a damn beer truck.” He cackled briefly at the thought. “Yeah, too bad it wasn't a beer truck all froze up in the snow, now wouldn't that be wonderful…”

They say that the stars of heaven must keep many secrets, since they witness everything that takes place here on earth below. Late on winter's nights, when the temperature sinks off the end of the thermometer out by the back porch, folks in these parts say that if you have the courage to step outside in the frigid night air, you can hear the stars whispering to one another bout the latest scandal to rock the tiny hamlets that lay scattered over the valleys and hills of Stevens County.

However, on once upon a Christmas Eve, there was a secret, of which not even the stars have whispered, for a mysterious real-life Santa Claus came to town, delivering a load of real Christmas cheer, and disappeared in the same mysterious manner as he arrived.

All dressed in a faded, moth-eaten red flannel suit, with a set of moldy-looking fake whiskers that wouldn't fool anyone for a minute, Santa rode into town riding in a sleigh drawn by a tired, down at the ears jackass that occasionally brayed, thus waking up every dog in town. This strange visitor went methodically from house to house in Springdale on Christmas Eve, banging on doors, waking up everyone, and in general pissing off half the damn town.

He came to my door just after eleven o'clock, just as I getting ready to turn off the Christmas lights for the night and go to bed.

“Merry Christmas, there Homer!” Whoever was hiding behind the suit and whiskers obviously knew my name, but was obviously stinking drunk, for he stood there in the front porch light weaving erratically back and forth like a tree in a high wind.

“What can I do for you?” I asked, peering uncertainly at him, trying to guess who this mysterious visitor was.

“Come on and pick yerself out a few cartons of milk out of the back of my sleigh. I was runnin' kinda late this year and ran out of presents before I hit this dog-piss of a town, so I made a stop along the way and grabbed some milk, but the damn stuff froze flying this way, so you'll have to let it thaw.”


“Goddammit, Homer, I told ya before, I got some milk out in my sleigh, and although it's froze up, let it thaw a while. It's fresh whole moo juice. Just a little hard is all.”

Out on the lawn there was a strange noise, and in the dim light of the Christmas lights in the front yard I could just barely see a big gray jackass hitched to a sleigh. He was standing there on three legs, stamping his fourth foot in the snow, his big ears flopping back and forth in the half light.

Christmas Day, the entire town was a'clatter, like a collection of beer cans in the back of pickup truck on a bumpy road.

Some say that it was Juan Guiterrez, all dressed up in a Santa Claus outfit. because nearly everyone recognized that it was his mule pulling the sleigh. Others say no, it must have been Joe Red Deer, because it was his sleigh that the jackass was pulling. Yet both men, when confronted, seemed as startled to hear of the exploits of the night visitor as everyone else. They both left hastily to check their possessions, returning a short time later to announce that although both items had obviously been in recent use, they had been returned as mysteriously as they had been borrowed.

Yet, among the children of the town, the tale is still being repeated, over and over that Santa Claus, Springdale's very real Santa, came to Springdale that year.

Little brown Indian eyes grow bigger and bigger with the retelling of how, in the middle of the night, Santa arrived with a real sleigh and a reindeer, and while he was there, gave their families as much milk as their refrigerators could carry. For that Christmas morning when they woke up and saw the their gifts under the tree, they each could clearly see outside in the snow, the tracks of where the sleigh had driven up into their yards, and where the reindeer stood by while Santa delivered the presents.

Some even say, with a knowing look, that Santa probably must have been pretty burned out from his travels that year, because everywhere that Santa went that night lay crumpled Ranier Ale cans in the newfallen snow.

A legend of Springdale-town was born, and as this tale is retold by hundreds of Indian and near-Indian children, it too, like Christmas, will grow.

As for that Christmas morning, Freddy the Logger sat on his personal barstool, a fresh glass of his cherished ale sitting in front of him.

“Christmas? Santa Claus?” he says, eyeing those around him warily. “Thas' a bunch of whoopie. Bah Humbug.”

Town Marshall Shooting in Reardan…

Good afternoon, Netizens…


Even after making repeated phone calls, I'm not going to touch the story regarding the shooting of an unnamed suspect by the Town Marshall of Reardan in the Reardan Cemetery earlier today. At this time, there simply aren't enough facts available for me to form a cogent opinion, one way or the other. Moreover I also have previous personal knowledge of Town Marshall Gary Redmond that would make forming an unbiased opinion personally difficult.


The Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team is at the scene of the shooting. This team, consisting of Washington State Patrol, Spokane County Sheriff's Office major crimes detectives and the Lincoln County Sheriff's deputies are in charge of the crime scene.



The China Doll…

None of the stuffed animals reclining against the overstuffed sofa in the front window of the Swap and Shop on West First Avenue actually saw the blue china doll arrive, since she was obviously inside a set of pasteboard boxes,although they all could clearly see the boxes being hauled into the front door of the old pawn shop on Monday morning.

The week before Christmas, it had been a few days since anything interesting had happened in the old store. They had long since grown tired of gazing out onto the sidewalk, where hobos, winos and the homeless gathered together to talk, gamble or share bottles of cheap wine, so they welcomed just about changes that might come about.

Peter Panda, because of his great height, could clearly see that the boxes were overflowing with used clothing, tattered school books with their covers all bent and mangled and the various other bits and pieces that were hanging down the side. Old Burt, towing the dolly like a locomotive behind him, set down the dolly on the creaky wooden floor by the cash register. Until his arrival, his stepson Billy had been reading a weathered comic book from apile of Superman comics he kept stashed by the cash register for just such occasions.

“what you got?” Billy asked his stepfather brightly, as if he really cared a great deal about it. “Looks like you've got yourself some kids' stuff.”

Old Burt chewed on his lip pensively a moment, as if debating whether to chew him out for sitting around reading comic books when he should be sweeping the sidewalk out in front or perhaps, god bless him, dusting off the shelves.

He sighed, and leaning on the dolly, said, “No, I just got some stuff from a landlord over on Grace. He said the tenants were busted by the cops for meth last week, and since they were six months behind in their rent, he finally evicted them this morning. Three weeks before Christmas, and the whole lot of 'em are in jail, excepting for their daughter, who's been placed in a foster home somewhere. A sad story, I tell ya.”

Wide-eyed, but being very careful not to make any noise, the twin stuffed otters peered at one another, their black eyes blinking, at hearing this bit of news. They were both very shy and unworldly, having recently arrived in the store's front window after the freight truck in which they were riding had crashed outside of town some months back.

“We Little Beasts don't use meth,” Agatha the chimpanzee hissed, giving a repoving look in their direction. “Only very sad humans do that.”

“What's Christmas?” Oliver, the stuffed cat asked hesitantly, sitting behind them on one of the semi-vacant bookshelves. Oliver, like most of his species, was exceedingly curious about everything and always prided himself on knowing the latest events. “Is that a thing or just a place?”

“SSSHHHHHH!” Peter Panda admonished them all, waving one paw in the air frantically. “If you persist in making so much noise, I cannot hear what is being said. Even worse, the humans might get suspicious.”

Once more, all the animals gathered in the front window fell back into that peculiar posture of relaxation they all maintain when there isn't anything really important to watch, and within minutes, half of them had fallen back to sleep. It was a short time later that the otters, Hissie and Missie, in adjusting themselves into a more comfortable position, suddenly noticed the Blue China Doll sitting back in one corner of the storefront window. They were both very sure she had not been sitting there before, her expression blank, her eyes gazing through the dusty window to the street outside.

“Hello?” Hissie asked in a barely audible whisper. “I say, how long have you been sitting there?”

“Not long,” the doll barely answered.

Her pretty blue satin dress was soiled in places, her hair badly mussed up, as if she had just arose from bed, with her face smudged with sleep. “I just arrived a short time ago.” Her voice drifted off, as if it took a great deal of energy even to speak. “Where am I?”

Peter Panda, who awoke the instant he heard them whispering, leaned toward the twin otters and looking directly at the doll, stated, “Why, you are in the front window of a place called The Swap and Shop, on a street called West First Street, though we know not where.” The two otters to your right are Hissie and Missie, the yellow tomcat behind you on the bookshelf is Oliver and the Chipanzee to your left is Agatha. I am called Peter Panda. If I might ask, what is your name?”

“I… I'm called Cass,” the doll whispered, brushing fitfully at the dirt on her dress. “If you will pardon my manners,” Peter whispered knowingly, “you look like you could use a bit of rest. Generally speaking, we try to keep our conversations down during the daytime when the owner and his stepson are around, to avoid suspicion. We will have lots of time later on to talk more about things, so close your eyes and try to sleep.”

The day wove fitfully through its paces like a drunken sailor marches down the street, and shortly after Old Burt turned off the blinking neon sign over the front door, and he and Billy left the store for the night, only then did the stuffed animals in the window begin to stir themselves, and only after each of them had stretched thoroughly, did anyone speak.

“How did you come to be here?” Oliver the cat purred, stretching himself to full length behind the blue china doll atop his perch in the bookcase. “Since none of us saw you being carried in, one must presume that you came in among those boxes of things Old Burt carried in this morning.”

“Yes, tell us your story!” Missie the otter exclaimed in a loud voice. “All of us came from someplace, once upon a time. Tell us about where you come from.”

The blue china doll hesitantly stood on her feet, and attempting to again smooth out the wrinkles in her dress, said in a soft undertone, “I came from a horrid place, actually, although my mistress was as gentle and loving a creature as any of the Little People I've ever known. There were terrible things taking place, at all hours of the day and night. My mistress cried a lot, because no one fed her. Once or twice strange men and women came for her, took her away and made her cry some more. I wanted so to make her smile again, but try as I might, I could not. Yesterday more strangers came for her, and took her away for good, but not before the men in blue uniforms had taken away all the rest of her humans.”

“Well, since you had a mistress,” Hissie the Otter said, her oval brown eyes gazing at the doll, “Why is it she didn't come back for you? Peter Panda had a mistress once, for most of his life as a Little Person. Peter's mistress did something he calls passing away, and she was no more. If your mistress is still in our world, why hasn't she come to claim you?”

Peter Panda abruptly stood up at this point, and smiled gently upon hearing this. “From what I have learned about human-kind, when they pass away, they cease to exist. They die. They cross over. In Cass's case, I believe someone took her mistress away before she had a chance to take Cass with her. Such horrible things should not be spoken of so near to Christmas, however. This is supposed to be a time of joy and great happiness.”

“As I recall, you were about to tell us about Christmas,” Oliver the Cat sighed, laying back down, his large green eyes blinking in the dim light shining through the store window. “I am very confused. Is Christmas a place in the heart or a thing?”

“It depends,” Peter said evenly. “To those who have had a mistress or master, it is always a place in the heart. To everyone else it is a thing, a time of the seasons when humans get and give gifts to one another and perform acts of kindness like Little People do for one another every day.”

“Do they only do these things at Christmas? That's ABSURD!” wailed Oliver.

“We're confused!” both Hissie and Missie exclaimed in unison.

Cass, smiling a bit for the first time since she had joined the group of stuffed animals in the window, held up one hand, quieting everyone down. “To my mistress and others of her own human kind, Christmas is a time of love, of tenderness and great mysteries. There are all those pretty gifts to buy for other humans, and sweetbreads and rich fudge to make for everyone. There is crinkly wrapping paper around gifts beneath the Christmas Tree, and sleigh bells ringing in the snow. It is one of the most joyous times, and they do this every year.”

“That sounds delightfully familiar,” Peter Panda said, nodding his leonine head. “I remember something quite like that back when I was with my mistress a long, long time ago.”

He paused, scratching his large pink nose for a moment, then in a puzzled tone of voice asked, “Just a few minutes ago, however, you whispered how horrid it had all been. What went wrong? Isn't Christmas supposed to be a joyous time of year?”

“Oh yes,” Cass said, nodding her head vigorously. “When my mistress and I were hiding beneath her bed one night, she told me all about how, once things got better, we would have a Christmas celebration, just like we once did.”

“Hiding beneath the bed? Hiding from WHOM?” Peter Panda asked gently, his eyebrows arched high up on his head. “That sounds simply dreadful.”

“Our last night together, her family held something they called a meth party”, Cass said. “Lots of new people came over, and started acting in very strange ways. My mistress and I hid beneath the bed after one of the adult humans slapped my Mistress across the face and made her cry. All I was ever able to figure out was she had made them all very angry through no fault of her own. When people started hitting her, she came running into our room, grabbed me and hid beneath the bed. People were kicking at her, trying to drag her from beneath the bed and yelling loudly. It was very frightening.”

“They do such strange things whenever there is meth around,” Agatha murmured. “I heard about these things from Richard the Lion, who chanced to be here, in this place once. He had a huge tear in his side, the direct result of a meth party. Eventually Old Burt gave him to some strange woman who chanced by the store one day. Richard was SUCH a delightful old scamp! Despite his injury, he told us such marvelous stories late at night and made us all laugh. I was so sorry to see him go.”

“Now I'm REALLY confused,” Hissie the Otter said softly, speaking to Missie. “First they are planning a delightful-sounding celebration, and next they are chasing Cass's mistress into her room, where she and Cass both hide beneath the bed. Were they celebrating Christmas?”

“No, silly,”Cass said gently, scratching both of the otters behind the ears which sent the pair into throes of delight. “It was the adults and whatever meth is that started the problem. Once the meth started coming by, they stopped celebrating Christmas entirely. Had I not been there, to see the pretty lights and hear the joy in their voices, I would have never believed that such a thing was possible, after seeing what meth did to their lives. Meth destroyed Christmas for everyone. Everyone. I so wish I could have seen another Christmas with my mistress. It is such a special time,” and with a glance in the direction of Oliver the Cat, added softly, “It is such a special place in my heart.”

“Meth does terrible things. As I said, you never find Little People that use meth. We are smarter than that,” Agatha said with another reproving sniff. “They say humans are the smarter species. HA!”

The rest of that night, they sat up telling tales about The Humans, laughing at some of the funny things they did. Even Cass, who had once been so forlorn, joined in their laughter, and sang a few songs for them. Still, it was long before the sun would soon brighten the eastern sky when nearly everyone had fallen back to sleep, except for Oliver the Cat, that is.

Like usual, he was sitting with his tail curled up around his nose, cautiously watching the window, when the old elf dressed in red and white came by. The wizened up old man dressed in red somehow stepped inside the store, although it was hours and hours before Old Burt was due to arrive. Peering uncertainly at a list he held in his right hand, he walked over to where the Little People were all laying in the store window. He stood looking over the top of his glasses, until he spied Cass, sitting back in the shadowy corner where she had returned for her day's rest.

“Ah,” he said, and reaching past Peter Panda, he gently picked up the blue china doll, first smoothing her hair and then smiling to himself. To everyone's surprise, he spoke the language of The Little People flawlessly, not the language of the humans. It was the first time any of them had everheard a human speak in their own tongue.

“You are the one they call Cass?” he gently asked the Blue China Doll.

“Y-y-yes,” Cass said uncertainly. “Are you taking me back to my mistress?”

“Not to worry, pretty doll. I am taking you home with me, right now, and in a few weeks, I will take you to a new home, where they still have Christmas lights, sleigh bells and shiny presents wrapped up beneath a Christmas tree.”

The old elf wrapped her up carefully in a warm fluffy blanket, and pausing long enough to pet and admire the other animals who, by now, were wide awake. Having petted all of them, once more, he strode out the door to where an old wooden sleigh and eight tiny reindeer stood waiting in the cold gray of the early snowy morning. Putting Cass beside him on the worn leather seat, he called to his reindeer by name, and with a hearty wave at the assembled Little People remaining in the window, they mounted up and up into the sky, and as they rode out of sight, and everyone, all the Little People with their noses pressed against the glass of the old storefront heard him cry, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Somewhere there is a storefront, a bit tattered and weatherbeaten from its years of surviving on West First Street in Spokane. It is a halfway house of sorts, for Little People who have either lost their way or have been separated from their past lives. Occasionally an elderly gentleman named St. Nick comes by to check on the Little People, and occasionally takes one or more of them with him on his flight to the North Pole, and the return to Christmas as they once knew it. The city breathes.


The Christmas Present

The Christmas Present
                           Copyright December 2000
                                by Dave Laird

The weatherbeaten old highway had seen better days, lots of patch jobs
hastily done by county employees who didn't care how well it held up. Where
it crested the steep grade, the roadway generously overlooked part of the
sloping valley to one side, with a tiny creek now frozen hard as a rock in
the throes of winter. Down the road a quarter of a mile, there were a set of
huge scars where, one spring several decades ago, the creek had neatly
bisected the roadway in a flood. The patch job bore mute testimony to the
violence of the washout, still to this day.

In the half-hearted sunshine of a cold winter morning, a rattling
clattertrap of a vehicle, a faded red Toyota Landcruiser with dented fenders
and a spare tire on the back door that jiggled at every bump, began wheezing
its way up the hill, desperately attempting to dodge the potholes, and as it
reached the scars on either side of the roadway, it momentarily slowed.

Behind the wheel, a woman with hair gone to white, slowed down, carefully
downshifting, easing her way over the broken pavement. Although she wasn't
that remarkable, really, she was the kind of woman that if you met her in
the grocery store, you would remember her brilliant blue eyes and white
hair, all soft and downy, and perhaps the gentle lines of humor that tickled
at the corners of her eyes. She wore a brown 60's-style Chairman Mao work
cap, shoved back on her forehead, and was dressed in a faded pair of bib
overalls with a blue nylon down-filled jacket, open at the throat. There
were a brace of pencils jutting this way and that out of the front pockets
of her overalls, which lent her a rather businesslike air, much like a
farmer on his way to town.

It was not unusual that the road was devoid of any other traffic at this
hour of the morning. Those few houses scattered throughout the hills on
either side seemed vacant, or so it appeared, driving down the road. Having
been this way a number of times, she knew better. Since this was part of the
Spokane Tribal lands, there were Indian families for the most part, living
back in the trees, eking out their humble living hidden in nearly invisible
cul de sacs that more resembled dirt tracks than driveways.

Down the road a few miles from the summit, where the valley began spreading
out a mile or more on the right side of the highway, there was a wide spot
in the road, and easing the Landcruiser off the side of the road, she
stopped, turned off the engine, listening to the sound of silence,
interspersed with the cooling sounds of the exhaust. A pair of brilliant red
cardinals landed on the barbed wire fence to her right, and saluted her with
a blast of song before they, too, went along their way, leaving her and

As she opened the driver's door, it complained with an angry squeal of rusty

'I must do something about that hinge', she thought to herself, and she went
around to the back of the Landcruiser and opened the rear compartment.
Sitting on the rear deck, she began unlacing her brown leather shoes, and
putting on a pair of well-worn hiking boots in their place, meticulously
making certain to tie double knots.

Inside the open maw of the rear compartment, she fetched a tiny Coleman
stove, a large canteen and a slightly-dented teapot, which she carefully set
on the rear deck, and fumbling in her jacket, she came up with a book of
matches. She lit the stove, poured water into the pan and setting it atop
the stove, she then squatted on her heels beside the road, gazing at the
snow-covered mountains off in the distance. A meadow lark gave voice,
somewhere off in the wheat stubble, but otherwise, there was no sound to
break her reverie until the tea pot began whistling.

She made two cups of tea in tiny porcelain tea cups with matching blue
flowers around the sides; she used a pair of tiny tea strainers to brew the
tea. She carefully set both cups in matching saucers on the rear deck, then
turned off the Coleman stove, and taking one of the cups with her, once more
resumed her vigil squatting alongside the Landcruiser, leaving the one cup
sitting in its saucer beside the stove.

It was cold there in the shadow of the mountain on the other side of the
road from the valley. She quietly sipped her tea, and the steam from the tea
in the icy cold air quickly built a soft-edged cloud around her head.

The land was hard and cold, with tiny bits of snow and ice hiding in the
shadows where the sun would not reach until spring. It was, as she had once
read, resolutely sleeping. If you were to gaze across the wheat stubble
toward the mountains, you would never know it was the day before Christmas.
Nothing moved, not a vehicle in sight and only a few birds chattering in a
madcap way from atop a nearby power pole broke the serene silence.

“Time to go', a voice inside her head spoke, and quickly gulping down the
last of her tea, she reached inside the Landcruiser and removed a holly
wreath from inside, and carefully draping it over her left shoulder, hanging
it beneath her right arm, she picked up the single remaining cup of tea, and
closed the back door.

She'd been this way for fifteen years, so her feet, unbidden, knew the
nearly invisible path that led between the rocks on the side of the road
opposite the valley. She moved with care, trying to avoid spilling any of
the tea, as she wove her way up into the rocks overlooking the road.
Finally, just as she was about winded, she reached the peak of the hill,
overlooking not only her Landcruiser parked below, but the entire valley,
open at her feet.

A pair of towering fir trees stood back among the rocks, and as she neared
them, she could see an empty china cup and saucer were still sitting there
where she had left them the previous year, untouched and unmoved. She
carefully set the cup of tea sitting on its saucer beside the empty cup, and
taking the wreath from around her shoulder, she hung it on one of the giant
fir's spreading branches. There was no sign of the previous wreath, but
nature has its ways.

Then, picking up the empty cup and saucer, she softly said, “I just came to
wish you a Merry Christmas, honey. It's been fifteen years since I last saw
you, but I'll never forget our Christmases together. I brought you a cup of
your favorite tea, and a wreath, just like always. Oh, how I wish you could
be here, with me, again. I miss you so.”

She stood, unjudged by any, save a curious blue jay who carefully examined
her from the relative safety of a nearby branch, curiously observing the
tears silently streaming down her face and onto her jacket.

Then, as soft was the feathery white hair which shone in the morning's
light, she walked from that place, her hands brushing the hot tears from her
cheeks, as she strode back down the way she had come.

Over fifteen years earlier, at her late husband's request, she had buried
him there, between the pair of fir trees, where he could gaze at the valley
below. Each year, in good weather and bad, she had brought him her presents,
and thus she had become a part of Christmas itself.



Christmas in Iraq…

Good morning, Netizens…


Ostensibly the War in Iraq is over. At least American's parts in this most-bloody vicious war is over, according to all the news wires. But what about Christmas in Iraq in this new “peacetime” Iraq? Christmas was first observed in 2008 in Iraq as an official holiday, and some of their customs, while quite a bit different from the materialistic West, nonetheless will be celebrated this Christmas.


  • On the 25th of December, a bonfire is built in the church and the faithful men of God chant hymns while the fire burns. A bishop, who leads the church officials in the procession, carried an idol of Baby Jesus on a crimson cushion throughout the church. The religious service always ends with the blessings of the bishop.

  • Even a bishop’s blessing is carried out differently in Iraq. He blesses people and touches one of the faithful men of the congregation with his hand. This blessing is then passed on to all the people beside and continues until all the people in the church have received that touch; it is called the ‘Touch of Peace’.

  • Apart from this divine tradition followed here, gifts are also a part of the Christmas Eve. Here, Papa Noel, the Iraqi Santa Claus, brings gifts and presents for the kids like Santa Claus in the west. Gifts and greetings are exchanged amongst the families. Visitors are also offered special food and drink.

While it is not known whether the fanciful tales associated with Santa Claus here in the United States, such as the reindeer flying Santa through the night to deliver toys to boys and girls, exist in Iraq, if one takes the tale of Santa and his sleigh flying around the country at face value, we can perhaps believe that the Iraqi military, much like the United States SAC-NORAD, are aware of Santa making his rounds on their radar screens, and allow him safe passage on Christmas Eve.

Thus the stories and tales of Christmas, once banned in Iraq, are now told over and over by little children in this once war-scarred country and that future generations will learn and repeat the stories of Christmas each year in Peace.


Down but not out at Christmas…

Good evening, Netizens…


By this time, almost 10 days from Christmas, if I were following my traditions of years past, I would have already begun writing about Christmas, both in fiction and comment. What I didn't count on this year is that two weeks ago I came down with bronchitis which rapidly metamorphosed into pneumonia as of last Thursday afternoon. I have been told having Type II Diabetes considerably weakens ones ability to fight off such things so I comprehend why this happened. So rather than writing about Christmas, I have been drifting in and out of consciousness on an antibiotic haze mixed with codeine and all the while still feeling the urge to tell about Christmas.


As my beloved spouse will quickly tell anyone who asks, I am not a good patient at all, as I simply do not have the patience. However, with a fever and rales in my chest that sound like a city garbage truck each week, I have been increasingly aggravated at the thought of being so ill.


However, now that I have managed to accomplish sitting upright in the Great Chair for nearly an entire work day, and because the medications I am taking have gotten my vile ailments more or less under control, I anticipate that within a day, perhaps less, I will begin writing about Christmas and once more cast my thoughts on this most sacred time of the year into the ether once again.


Of course, if Christmas is not a sacred time to you, the readers, then I apologize for having interrupted your mid-December reveries with the ramblings of an old man who remembers how it has been and hopes that they will continue to be.



Harry Morgan passes on…

Good morning, Netizens…


I would be remiss in my duties if I did not note the passing of Harry Morgan, who played the crusty yet sympathetic Col. Sherman T. Potter in the sitcom “MASH” and the hard-nosed LAPD Officer Bill Gannon in the television drama “Dragnet, who passed away Wednesday.


There has already been enough printer's ink spent in waxing prosaic about this man, who rose from a lowly youth to become one of Hollywood's most-recognized actors, so I'll forgo the emotional blather and simply say we probably will never see an actor of his stature in our lives again.


Of his role in MASH was ending in 1983, Morgan once stated, “The sadness will fade after a while. The cup is so damn full that you can't really be sad that you don't have any more. We've all gotten so much more than we ever would have doing anything else. That will last a long, long time.”

I can easily say much the same for Morgan, if not the entire cast of MASH.


Rest in Peace.



On the road to recovery…

Good morning, Netizens…


After nearly four days and counting, I have finally crawled from bed after suffering a bad bout with a cold, complete with all the dandy side-effects that typically accompany such things. When I was much younger, I used to catch one of these infections perhaps once a year. I vaguely remember an otherwise profitable weekend in a Wyoming truck stop once, spending what seemed like a week in the sleeper of my truck, with an occasional visit to a nearby clinic, and eating my few meals in the restaurant lined with cheap pine paneling and greasy food. Of course then, I was much younger, and better-equipped to fend off what passed for walking pneumonia, much less poor interior decor.


Today I can only thank my wife for what I have come to view as her “sure-fire” old-fashioned cure: hot pekoe tea with honey, which seems to have done a better job of eliminating this scourge from my aging fat-body than all the professional pharmaceuticals I've ingested combined. I had a regular military row of bottles of medications that I tried, some prescription, some not, but each with diminishing results. Until I finally began her regimen of tea and honey, I had been missing a lot of sleep, not eating well (which for me is truly an anomaly) and in general hacking up indescribably ugly bits of human biochemistry, and I was beginning to worry I might need to go see the sawbones for a cure.


It seems that nearly everyone in my family has had a bout of this malignancy, beginning with my grandchildren, who brought it home to our house from school. I'll leave it to others to determine whether this is a classic case of the younger generation educating the old.


But as of this morning, I am almost back on schedule, and although I still am hacking like a bullfrog looking for a hot date, at least I can see straight now, the wretched fever seems to have departed and suddenly now I am hungry. The latter is, of course, a positive sign. Damn! I hate it when good signs collide with bad outcomes. It makes one wonder why we try.


So, onward into the new day.



Somehow we must win this war…


Good afternoon, Netizens…


Some of you already know Larry Shook who, in my opinion already had a proven history of telling the truth the way he sees it. He put this in my INBOX earlier today and I found it quite poignant and sadly true.

This is why hate is bad, why love is good. Why love is all that can save us. Pass it on.

Love, Larry


Unfortunately, I sometimes wonder if the hatred is winning over love, especially at this time of the year. All you have to do is watch the loving citizenry threatening to kill one another over some Christmas trinket they spied in Best Buy at the same time.



Magic and Christmas are often the same…

Good morning, Netizens…


If you haven't been looking, it is almost Christmas, and Santa Claus has already arrived in a typical blast of public relations gusto at most malls and other public places. Yet if you peer closely at those faux Santas at the malls, through the eyes of adulthood, you will see only that – just an impersonation. Most mall Santas have fake white beards, padded outfits to make them appear rotund, and in reality they might not be as kindly as the real Santa Claus. Of course by now, being good adults, you know the legendary tale of how Santa Claus hops on his sleigh each year at Christmas Eve, making the rounds of all the good little boys and girls around the world, delivering their Christmas gifts.


In fact, you probably do not even believe there is a real Santa Claus. The Santas that appear about this time of year are, for the most part, all fakes. However, before you get all jaundiced and smile at one another with an air of superior knowledge, as if this business of the fake Santa Claus is a big, hidden secret that only adults truly understand or know about, guess again.


There are many things in our lives of which we have very little knowledge or control, things such as unavoidable accidents, matters over which we have no warning nor the ability to change. Then there is the matter of gross stupidity, because not all of us are rocket scientists despite what it suggests on our resumes. Acts of God, of course, fits in with unavoidable accidents, but if the acts are actually preordained by God, such things were not accidents, at all.


Then there is the matter of magic. No, this doesn't imply that Jeanie nor I are going to perform cheesy magic acts on Community Comment. We both have health issues that, were such a thing possible, we would unquestionably cure with just a few chosen words. You betcha!


To better answer your question about Santa Claus and magic, some have asked why Community Comment has a Virtual Ballroom and Virtual Garden where ghosts and garden gnomes abound. It is because we believe in magic.


What better method of divining who is a real Santa Claus? What better way to reinstate the miracles of Christmas that appear to have fallen on hard times in favor of materialism and greed?


Welcome to the run-up to Christmas, my friends. Some of the stories, tales and fables that will grace Community Comment until the day after Christmas may contain elements of magic, as well.



Herman Cain quits his Presidential run…

Good afternoon, Netizens…


Although this David Horsey cartoon of Herman Cain does not truly apply to a perceived conspiracy of the liberal news media, perhaps the truth of the bra over his eyes is more accurate than one can imagine. However, at some point, Cain must have taken the bra off his eyes and, realizing the truth of where he was heading (perhaps his wife spoke to him) decided that politics and infidelity were not a good mix. As JeanieSpokane noted just a short time ago, Cain is quitting his run for the Republican Candidate for the Presidency.


Rather than haul off and buy into any kind of a conspiracy theory regarding Cain and his various love interests, purportedly sponsored by some cabal of the leftist news media, let us simply state he might have been as horny as a bachelor goat in a herd of ewes. This brings us to a number of moral lessons every politician should know and obey.


Lesson one: No man should ever run for public office when his zipper is prone to flying open at the first possible licentious opportunity. Outside of marriage, if one cannot keep their zipper firmly closed, the chances are that sooner or later everyone else will know about it and probably tell everything they know.


Lesson two: The grass does not grow greener on the other side, despite what it might appear. Serving divorce papers on an ex-wife laying in a hospital bed with cancer to marry with unconscionable haste to his present wife made Newt Gingrich a pariah in some political spheres, including his own Republican Party. He should stay that way, a castaway in his own Conservative Republican Party, rather than attempt to sweep the past beneath the rug.


Lesson three: Do not tell the members of the news media to ignore ones private sexual life if you are running for the Presidency. Once they will know a candidate has skeletons in his closet they will begin pounding on the closet door until they find out what the skeletons are.


Lesson four: Sexual harassment is illegal, whether or not you are a political candidate,


It doesn't make a bit of difference which political party one hails from.



Herman Cain is Getting Out of the Bed

Well, it has begun - all the sniping, gutter-swiping, yellow journalism, affairs, un-affairs, and innuendoes have finally sent Herman Cain out of the bed he was lying in.  He has “exited the political campaign” according to news sources (CNN for one).

I hate politics, don't you???  I would never run for an office - my personal life would be scrutinized so closely, most likely you would find out little trivial sins - like all the times I utilize the 10-second rule (especially if it is chocolate).

Cain didn't stand a chance once the first woman spoke up.

Fair warning to all of you potential presidents - lock your closets!  Those skeletons are just itching to escape.


Shannon Sullivan files complaint against Tucker…

Good morning, Netizens…


It is my lasting impression that Shannon Sullivan has more chutzpah than any of our elected officials in Spokane County, especially but not limited to County Prosecutor Steve Tucker. I remember the hue and cry that arose when she took on our former Mayor, the late Jim West and how she brought West down. Now Sullivan has set her sights on Tucker, and rightfully so. Tucker needs to go, for the various reasons stated in Shannon Sullivan's complaint, a copy of which can be read here:


Detractors to Sullivan's plan has used the comment she must has missed the limelight. I find that and other negative comments regarding Sullivan's recall plan to be farcical, of limited imagination and an outright insult to her good character.


What I find particularly ugly is that, once Shannon Sullivan announced her intentions, Steve Tucker has all but disappeared from most of his favorite haunts, such as The Globe downtown and various golf courses. His office? He only goes there when re-election looms, or someone in what passes for high places in Spokane desires his company. He even ignores judges sitting on the bench, because he is purportedly not under their control.


It is time for Steve Tucker to be recalled. The stench that wafts out of his office is particularly bad, and he needs to find a new job, hopefully somewhere other than our local government.



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