Christmastime 1998

Dear (fill in the blank):______________________________,

Well, it’s holiday season again in beautiful downtown Bedrock. The Cratons are still here, the town is still here, and the Cratons are still here in this @$#&*~! (fill in the blank):___________ town.

As is typical, not much has changed around here in the past year. The biggest news seems to have come from on high as the city was virtually overrun by pigeons in the summer. A great debate grew out of what to do about them, especially after they mauled poor little Ebenezer Jenkins when his big sister spread peanut butter all over his face down by the town fountain. The local gun club wanted to simply off the critters while Bobby Jim Martin, the city’s token liberal and card-carrying PETA member, suggested the people move out and let the town go feral. Widow Bartlett’s suggestion to start a pigeon festival (with the cry of “The swallows have Capistrano, let the pigeons have Bedford!”) was never seriously entertained.

Fortunately (we suppose) the bickering ended when old Harold Simms took matters into his own hands. Previously non-committal about the turmoil, his mind was changed one afternoon after he parked his '53 Studebaker in front of Rusty’s Tavern. In the time it took him to down a cold one, his car was thoroughly initiated into pigeondom, bumper to bumper. That’s when he decided to volunteer to eradicate the town of the feathered pestilence. Taking cues from techniques he’d learned in Fr. Bob’s Zen meditation classes (Fr. Bob being the new Anglican vicar), he thought the best way to handle the situation was to become one with the fowls. Thus he donned a coat of many feathers, and for several days could be seen perched on the roof of the local A.&F.M. or occasionally squatting precariously on the high-tension lines going into the courthouse. At first his wife seemed supportive of his efforts and made a substantial supplement to their monthly Social Security income by selling lemonade and five-minutes’ viewing time through their tripod-mounted Bausch & Lombs. But as community interest waned, so did Mrs. Simms’ patience with Harold. After he began to molt (and we won’t even mention the droppings), his wife locked him in the toolshed for six days till Deputy Waxman made her let him out. People say it was quite a sight in there when she finally unlocked the door. But at least he wasn’t entirely lonely, nor were his efforts all in vain as the pigeons have now abandoned their downtown haunts and have taken up permanent residence at the Simms place.

As for the Cratons, they’ve been largely unaffected by the fracas. Ben, who’s soon to turn 15, is now in high school and functions as the school’s babe magnet. He insists his life will be fulfilled when he gets a Corvette for Christmas — but sad to say, he will live an unfulfilled life. He continues collecting rare mold spores in his room and is attempting to set up his own computer-graphics company as he sees the current climate the best in which to try to take over Bill Gates’ operation.

Jonathan is mere months away from junior high but has already begun acculturating himself to teenagerhood. He has taken up bassoon this year, though the poor instrument he has is believed to have doubled as an anti-tank weapon during the Korean War. He has added yet more to his menagerie, herding not only the home’s six box turtles but now walking three shrimp in the mix. His efforts to make a how-to video about teaching turtles to play Frisbee have not met with stellar success, but hope springs eternal.

Third-grader Stephen has become something of a computer addict in his old age and would rather be surfing the web than watching television. He still hopes to become a chef when he grows up, though his parents are now beginning to think his real motives are to meet French women. Both he and Jonathan have the privilege of being the object of their older brother’s aggressive tendencies, but the wounds generally heal very quickly.

Dr. Dillo (also known as Debbie) has not had a great year as her arthritis has limited her burrow-digging abilities considerably. Nevertheless, she did manage to climb Mt. LeConte in Tennessee again this year, dragging along her husband and two other victims in the process. Had it not been for the fact that the three would have had to lug the body back down, there was some discussion amongst the group as to how to repay her for the adventure. All survived, however, and new lessons in forgiveness have been learned.

As for old Pop (John and/or Douglas), he mostly hibernates in a little office he’s made for himself in the garage. Having closed his last audiology practice due either to his having healed everybody or lack of interest on the public’s part, he has been working on the internet hawking books and waiting for that job offer from Paris, Brussels, or London. If business doesn’t improve for him soon, he’s giving thought to getting even with everyone by writing music again. The Muses are fervently hoping other avenues are opened.

In spite of it all, the Cratons wish all their faithful readers a blessed Christmas season and a Clinton-free 1999. In the meantime, visit them on the internet.

John Douglas, Debbie, Ben, Jon & Stephen





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