Sunday, December 24, 2006

Franklin and the Night Visitor

There must have been an angel (Bodhisattva?) on my shoulder as I set out from home this year, because somehow in spite of all the snow and snarled air traffic my flight from Chicago to Maine was a mere forty minutes behind schedule. And thanks to the miracle of Xanax, even impressive turbulence over Ohio didn't stop me from knitting briskly on a new, slimmer-fit green sock.

Maine immediately began to have its usual, soporific effect on me. The minute I smell the pine trees, my blood pressure drops and my eyelids clang shut. I barely made it through dinner before slinking off to my bed, which is in the barn.

It's not like it sounds. I'm not sleeping in a pile of hay with an ox and ass breathing on me for warmth. I've been made quite comfortable in the office, which was carved out of one corner of the barn. It's snug and quiet and offers every comfort. Susan even hung a picture of Buddha next to the bed so I'd feel encouraged to do zazen. What a good egg.

That first night, I woke up to find that the rain had stopped for a little while. The moon was shining through the latticed windows, and there wasn't a sound except a little rustling of tree branches. I adjusted my pillows and remembered lying awake like that before so many Christmasses, wondering if I might see reindeer sailing past the stars.

And then somebody threw a rock at the window.

I froze. In the next room, the three dogs began barking and howling. Footsteps came pounding down the stairs. I met, Phil, my brother-in-law, flashlight in hand, in the kitchen.

"There's somebody in the backyard," he hissed, opening the back door. The dogs charged forth. There was a piercing shriek, a cry of "Shit! Get off me, you motherfuckers!" and the sound of ripping fabric. Then a series of thwacks, and suddenly the whining dogs came running back inside as a shadowy figure tapped up the porch steps.

"Well," said Dolores, "that was some diplomatic goddamned welcome to Maine from an official representative of the state."

And she hit Phil in the shins with her umbrella.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I said. "You're supposed to be in Chicago until Christmas Day, and then you're supposed to be in Canada with Victorine."

"I have a swell idea. Maybe we could play 'Firing Line' after I get out of what's left of my raincoat," she huffed. "And I wouldn't mind a drink, either, unless you'd rather let those vicious beasts finish me off."

She pulled her leg away from Milton, the dachsund, who was amicably licking her right hoof.

Meanwhile, my sister had come warily down the stairs. "Everything okay?" she called.

"Sort of," said Phil.

"Is that the little mother?" squealed Dolores. "Is that her? Come here, honey! Let me see you!"

Susan stepped forward gingerly. Dolores kissed her on the cheek and then addressed her stomach. "HELLOOOOOOOO, BABY! CAN YOU HEAR ME IN THERE? IT'S AUNTIE DOLORES! DADDY TRIED TO FEED ME TO THE DOGS BUT I WAS DETERMINED TO BE HERE FOR YOU EVEN THOUGH IT MEANT SUFFERING MINOR FLESH WOUNDS! DON'T WORRY, I'LL HEAL EVENTUALLY! AND WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THE DARLING LITTLE MARTINI SHAKER I BOUGHT YOU AT TIFFANY! HELLO! HELLO!"

Susan clutched her bathrobe shut and ran back up the stairs.

"I repeat," I said, "What are you doing here?"

"Well, you know how Victorine is," said Dolores. "About as reliable as Mark Foley at an Altar Boy Jamboree. I was all set to go up there and then she called and said not to come because she's going to Winnipeg to hang out with some ram she met over the Internet two weeks ago."

"And Harry," I said. "Where's Harry? How is he going to get back and forth to the theater?"

"I know that," she snapped. "I took care of it. Half the sock yarn went to Aidan's, the other half went to Meg and Jonathan's, and Harry is staying with Mrs. Teitelbaum in 1507."

"Mrs. Teitelbaum? You left Harry with Mrs. Teitelbaum and her cat?"

"Yeah," said Dolores, dropping into a chair and tossing her soggy hat on the table. "It's so cute. By the time I left they had already made friends. They must have been playing hide-and-seek, because Tinkles was trying to drag Harry out from under the sofa."

"How heartwarming."

"I have a question," said Phil. "Why didn't you just come to the front door and ring the bell?"

"I didn't want to wake up the whole house," said Dolores. "I thought that would be rude. Kind of like turning one's dogs on a visitor and then not fixing her a nice cosmo by way of saying you're sorry."

"I'll get right on that," said Phil, going upstairs.

"You know," I sighed. "You might have called and told me you were coming."

"I thought about it," she said. "But then I decided I'd rather be a great, big holiday surprise."

"You've succeeded with flying colors."

"Monsieur is too kind. Merry Christmas, Cupcake."

Tannenbaum

51 comments:

Aarlene said...

Oh Happy Holidays to you and yours Franklin. This one is priceless!!
A babe in the barn and a sheep in the yard...ohhh man.

Stasia said...

Franklin, what a great Christmas gift. Thank you. And JINX - we both mentioned Xanax on our blogs the same day. Imagine that. HUGS.

twig said...

Heheheh. It *was* sorta rude to sic the dogs on poor Dolores!

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

I tried to tell people I saw a determined looking sheep as I was coming north on the Turnpike today. But nobody would believe me.

Happy Holidays!

Linda in Maine said...

Hey Franklin, I'm in Maine too.

Carol said...

Now THAT would make a good Christmas card. Next year, mon chere?

Glad all is well with you. Enjoy, knit, rest up, and keep mixing up those Cosmos.

Konchog said...

Very funny image of you away in the manger.

Say, did anyone on the flight ask about prison?

Lisa said...

Merrry Merry. Enjoy the woods of Maine and keep Delores away from the egg nog. :)

Nancy J said...

Keep your fingers (and Delores' hooves) crossed and you may see some snow! And I love your ornament! After the season, it'll go from the big tree to my sheep ornament tree that stays up all year!

MonicaPDX said...

Ohhh, Franklin! Thank you! I shall cherish this one. Sublime.

Now, if I could just put myself together after coming apart laughing... I've got a turkey breast to roast, here.

Happy Yule!

(sxydtx?!?? Dolores! Are you fooling with Blogger again? Sexy detox, oy gevalt.)

Diane said...

thank goodness for the night visitor. i raise my glass fully of Remy to Delores. best to you, your sister and hubby and the arrival incoming at Gate 99.

Paula said...

Oh Franklin. You make me laugh. What a blessing you are. Thanks.

Jane said...

Merry Christmas Franklin. i'm about to make my Christmas martini myself.

Cat said...

I have the peace ornament on the tree, I have laughed about Delores, and so I retire in a great mood.

Thanks,
Cat.

Anonymous said...

You know you are going to rot in hell for that message on Dolores' t-shirt, right? I imagine you will find a lot of delightful company there when the time comes.

kmkat said...

I had to go refill my wine glass when I realized it was Dolores out there with the dogs. What would the holidays be without the *black sheep* of the family?

Anonymous said...

And I had wondered why Phil didn't manage to make it to breakfast with you guys. Now I know - he was hiding all the good liquor.

ali said...

Franklin,
I have the christmas ornamnent and received a Delores T-shirt and mug from my daughter.

Does that make me a groupie?

Holiday blessings.

Helen said...

Fab picture. My cousin's a Buddhist monk and the only time I hear from her is at Christmas; I think it's just a convenient time for keeping up. So have a lovely day with your family, and this devoted reader wishes you a merry Christmas and a peaceful, happy, prosperous and loving new year.

marie in florida said...

hay; she's wearing my t-shirt!

Katy said...

wow, I wish Dolores could be here to add some spice to my holidays. ;)

Susan said...

Thanks for the holiday cheer, Franklin. You are too freakin' funny, ya know that?

Carol said...

OK, now THAT was the best ever! I'd give anything to hang out with you for just one day. I know I'd walk away wiser (assed) and a million times more inspired than my little brain could hold. You seriously rocked the yule! Hope it's a holiday season you'll treasure always!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas! (or whatever!)

Melinda said...

Merry Christmas to you and yourss (that includes Dolores!) Thanks for making me smile all year 'round.

FiberQat said...

Wonderful! Thanks for taking the time to write up a Christmas story for us groupies. Enjoy your time with Sue, Phil, and the puppies. Leave Dolores with Mel and David; they'll take care of her. Maybe have her talk with David's mom.

Anonymous said...

please, please, please put Delores "all i got..." comment on a teeshirt next christmas. cj

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the google decorated headers these past few days? Daddy is knitting for mummy. You are in good company.

Warrior Knitter said...

Oh, Franklin. Thank you for the laugh for Christmas! Comfort & Joy to you & yours.

Konchog said...

Helen: I read, "My cousin's a Buddhist monk and the only time I hear from her is at Christmas" and went, "Wha...?" Allowing for the possibility of very complicated chromosomal issues (we had a transgender person become a nun after lengthy discussion among the lamas), your cousin is a nun, not a monk. And a good egg for sending Christmas cards, something I never got the knack of.

Carson said...

Heehee..were Roger the Alien from American Dad and Dolores separated at birth?

Ann (yet another) said...

For those of you who missed the google headers
http://www.google.com/doodle12.html

bbstewart said...

Merry Christmas Franklin (and Dolores)!

jude said...

As a native Down Easter, I can attest that you had a very typical Maine Christmas Eve! Good tidings and good times to all!

Lizbon said...

Can't talk...laughing...too...hard...

Wendy said...

I was quite pleased to hear that Dolores spent the holidays with you... I worry greatly, though, about little Harry's welfare.

Happy Holidays, Franklin!

KellyD said...

Hope you had a great Christmas. It sounds like it got off to a roaring start! Oddly enough the night shift RNs I work with got on the subject of knitting and prison minstries. They thought it hilarious when I shared your story of prison knitting and pulled up the gift site on our computer at work.
Is Dolores going to be on an ornament next year?

Bev in TN said...

Oh JOY! Now THAT's a T-shirt (I hope!)...I hope you add that to the shop? BTW, Maine (my birthplace) has the same effect on me. Isn't it wonderful! ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

Hee hee, ram in Winnipeg...snork!

(come on now, am I the only one who got the joke??)

knitnzu said...

I was going to tell you that the next time you come to Maine you could stay in our spare room rather than the barn... but with siblings and impending babies, I can see the draw. Susan surely has to make amends with Dolores. .... I dated a guy named Mark Foley in 1978, but different than the one you mentioned, I'm pretty sure...

Gryffin said...

THat was awesome
1 Happy Holidays from your fan in Florida

Anonymous said...

Hey, I know that ram here in Winnipeg. He's baaaad (yet oh-so-good).

Misty

d2 said...

Beading book:$21
New light to read it by: $40
Reading your Christmas Eve blog entry: priceless
(wiping A & W diet root beer off the monitor)

junior_goddess said...

Fa-la. I guess the kidlet will not be named Dolores.

I do like the idea of you tucked in a manger, tho.

very sweet.

Helen said...

Well, Konchog, my cousin is in a mixed order and they all call theselves monks. She never calls herself a nun, so I go along with her and describe her as a Buddhist monk since that what she calls herself. Me, I dunno.

Aidan said...

All are safe and well on our end -- the Sock Yarn has been playing with the neighbors' stash during the day and spending the evenings in idyllic calm listening to audio books while I knit. They've been a joy.

This morning, though, one ball asked me if I wanted a chaser with my coffee...

David said...

OK. You were pushing your luck with the story, but you totally won me with the cartoon at the end.

Angela said...

Maine sounds marvelous. Xanax got me to PA. The problme is that I now have to take a couple at a time which renders me unable to do anything, including knitting. Better than than the alternatives, I suppose...Happy New Year, Franklin.

gaz said...

now why can't I find a hunk in the barn... oh wait, yeah I don't have a barn...damn LOL

Have you ever knitted a jockstrap?

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