Christmas Blessings


















Dear Yolanda,


Thanks for the candle. You said you made it yourself?

I lit it last night after turning off the television, watching the flickering flame spark and dance so beautifully in the darkened room as I lay on the couch, slipping into that place between wakefulness and sleep where the angels whisper. As I listened, saying my prayers, mesmerized by the candlelight, I dropped off to sleep.

The next thing I heard was the plaintive wail of fire engine sirens as I startled awake to the smell of burning curtains. I'd left your beautiful candle too close to the window and the entire south wall of my house was engulfed in flames.

I shook my wife awake. We hastily grabbed a few things and rushed from the house. The firemen worked hard, knocking down the flaming wall to reduce the spread of the fire, but unfortunately the attic was also on fire. We had so many boxes of flammable stuff packed away up there the flames erupted like a thousand angry torches.

There was very little the firemen could do at this point, other than try and protect our neighbors' homes. The house closest to us (the east side) which belongs to the wonderful blind couple, did suffer some roof damage, but fortunately the firemen put it out quickly. After talking to our neighbors this morning, we learned they unfortunately suffered considerable damage to their carpet and furniture from the fire hose water and rain. Though we've known and loved this elderly couple for nearly 20 years, they said they can no longer talk to us, on advice from their attorney who we will be hearing from shortly.

Cheryl and I are now living at the Howard Johnson's in Pomona. It's not like home, and the people in the next room seem to be continually fighting and shouting, but it's the cheapest motel in the area. We found a few empty syringes in the bathroom, the carpet has quite a few nasty-looking stains and the wallpaper in this room is peeling, but we are just grateful to have a roof over our heads at this point.

I managed to get my laptop computer out of the house and I have internet access here, but it's hard to concentrate on this e-mail, what with the terror of last night continually replaying in my mind. This room smells like smoke, although it's probably coming from our own skin. My wife inhaled so much smoke she has to wear a breathing mask with a portable oxygen tank because of her chronic respiratory problems. We haven't had any sleep since the fire and we don't have any clean clothing.

I called the insurance company this morning and for some reason I had not received my renewal notice, so unfortunately I find that my homeowner's insurance has lapsed. I'm afraid this means our house and possessions are a total loss. We lost our cars in the fire as well. Because the electric garage door motor was wearing out and would not open in cold weather, we did not have time to get our cars out of the garage. The Mercedes was a few years old, so at least I got some fun out of that car, but it is unfortunate that Cheryl had recently purchased her beautiful new Lexus -- full payment in cash. We're hoping the discount insurance coverage for the car will cover part of the loss, but I do worry about doing business with a company based in Bolivia.

I'll have to take out a loan to have the debris of our once beautiful home removed so I can try and sell the vacant lot to a developer, but in these hard times for real estate, it will be practically impossible to get any money out of this property to make much of a dent in the amount I still owe on the home. I'm not sure if I can even get a loan at this point. Bankruptcy may be the best option for us. Unfortunately, we are still locked into a flexible-rate mortgage and our interest rate has risen to slightly more than 12 percent. We were barely able to keep up with the payments as things were.

I wish I'd made a backup copy of my book! I was really counting on this book to move my career forward. The only copies were on computer discs and paper -- all reduced to ashes. The main copy was stored on my desktop computer which was also destroyed. It's not the sheer length of the work that bothers me (about 280,000 words) as much as the length of time it took to do the research, what with all that travel to foreign countries that I'm still paying off on my Visa card. I'd never put this much work into a book before, and I'm afraid I'm too old to repeat what has been a 12-year labor of love.

We were hoping to sell some of the antique furniture and paintings we recently inherited from my family's estate that we'd stored in the house, but nothing is salvageable. And so many things accumulated from 35 years of marriage and from both of our families can, of course, never be replaced. I hate to think about all the wonderful photographs we'll never see again. At least we have our memories!

Unfortunately, our two cats died in the fire, and of course, my wife is devastated. One of them was the cat my son Christopher (who is coming to stay with us for Christmas) grew up with. He was so looking forward to seeing his precious little kitty, Mr. Toodles, again. We'll have to call Chris today and break the news.

After reviewing my current financial situation, I've decided the best thing to do is to try and rent a decent trailer home for the holidays, as there are a few mobile home parks in the area that are not as dangerous as some. We're going to try and find a mobile home with an extra bedroom for Christopher who is due to arrive in a few days. I'm afraid all his presents also burned in the fire, but we know he will understand. I suppose I should not have put all that cash in his stocking! It was a surprise down payment for a condominium. I foolishly thought it would be fun for him to see what $80,000 in cash looked like! I was surprised that I qualified for that home equity loan, although I suppose it was because of the high interest rate I'm being charged.

It certainly will be an unusual Christmas for us, what with all of our carefully picked, expensive presents destroyed by the fire. We will just have to focus on the blessings of life itself and be grateful that we did not die in the fire -- only a few second-degree burns and smoke inhalation, although I'm afraid I may have broken my ankle while rushing to get out of the house. It is quite sore! The paramedics bandaged it last night but I refused to be taken to the hospital. I just could not face an emergency room after all I'd been through. Cheryl and I will take the bus to the clinic today. I'm using an old umbrella for a crutch.

We will simply have to learn to be grateful for what we have left, even though it probably means total financial disaster. Cheryl and I now realize we will have to give up the idea of retirement and return to the workforce to try and rebuild our lives. I've already contacted Wal-Mart and they say they are hiring! A light in the storm!

So, once again, dear Yolanda, thanks so much for the candle! It was so beautiful and sweet-smelling, and, in fact, it was one of the few things I managed to salvage from the fire. I have it lit now, near the window of our motel room that overlooks the laundry area. It casts such beautiful shadows against the curtains.

Merry Christmas,

Russ




~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo courtesy of the Bend Weekly
© All Rights Reserved





I've Been Busy!


Brian Williams and I were recently embedded in Afghanistan but we got separated from our military escort and were lost for a week at the Kandahar International Airport, living on vending machine candy and coffee.

Then, in the middle of the night, the ghost of Robert Frost suddenly appeared on a luggage carousel, enshrouded in a glowing blue-white mist. He spoke to us:

"Whose woods these are I think I know, his house is in the village though," pointing toward the northeast quadrant of the airport. At first I had no idea what this meant, but he kept repeating the phrase in a louder and louder voice: "His house is in the village though," until at last, almost shouting he said:


"HIS HOUSE IS IN THE VILLAGE YOU DUMMY!"

This final outburst awakened Brian and between the two of us we realized Frost was directing us to a part of the airport that would facilitate our escape.

By early morning we'd made our way northeast where we finally encountered the ticket counter. We were a bit embarrassed that we hadn't thought of this before, but wrote it off to battle fatigue. Brian tried to charge our tickets on his NBC Visa card, but for some reason his account had been closed, and so I sprung for the airfare. At least they gave me an Auto Club discount.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





Teapot Song




I'm a little teapot
Short and stout,
Kick me in the rear
And step on my snout.

I'm a little teapot
Fat and wide,
Take me to the slaughterhouse
And cut off my hide!





~ Poem & artwork by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





Fried Chicken Crossing















Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get away from Colonel Sanders!





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Illustration by ?
© All Rights Reserved





Kids Need Discipline!





















The school board Tuesday night unanimously approved
the death penalty for dress code violations.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo by Paul and Lora Guajardos
© All Rights Reserved




Meeting Slated
















The Inland Valley chapter of the Society For Clear Thinking will hold an all-day workshop on “How To Make Life Simple” from 10:20 a.m. to 5:47 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at an undisclosed location.

New members are required to attend an orientation session at 7:48 a.m., in the Thoreau Room of the Simple Gifts Meeting Hall at the Southern California College of Agronomy and Moral Certainty.

After the orientation, exit on Walden Avenue South, past Civil Disobedience Drive, then turn west on Emerson Road and make a U-turn at the third intersection past the green/black student dormitories (If you see the black/green student dormitories you’ve gone too far!), bearing to the right onto Harpers Ferry Way to Parking Lot 81, Section 26 (southeastern quadrant), next to the campus greenhouse.

Walk northeast on Campus Loop toward the Transcendental Arts Building, past the Hell No We Won’t Go food court, turning right at the Gandhi memorial bird bath. Walk straight ahead until you see the second unmarked bus stop and wait for bus No. 331, or 28-A if after 9:15 a.m., or any bus between H-9Q and 12 if after 9:33 a.m.

Exit the bus at Tolstoy Street and walk north on Tolstoy, past the King Cotton Laundromat (on the left) to the Thrifty Chick fried chicken restaurant (on the fourth, north-south corner of the traffic hexagon). Enter Thrifty Chick and say: “Sir Larry has come to collect the poll tax,” if the man at the counter is wearing a hat or an eye patch, or “The goslings weep for their mother” if there is another man without a hat and/or an eye patch, or a woman (mature, no eye patch), behind the counter.

You will be led to the rear of the shop and put into the cargo area of the Thrifty Chick delivery van whose driver will blindfold you and take you to my house where I will then drive you to the meeting. The workshop fee is $20 (stamps).





~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





Pine Koan


















What is the sound of a pine tree falling in the forest
    when no one is there?





~ Koan and photograph by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




The Genesis Of Mail

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without mail, and void. So God said, “Let there be mail,” and there it was.

2  God saw the mail, that it was plentiful and multiplied, and so God divided the occupant from the personal. And God called the occupant, “Junk,” and the personal, He called, “Personal.”

3  Then God said, “Let there be a postal office, and let it divide small boxes among those who would receive, though it be more blessed to send.”

4  And God said, “Let there be stamps, bulk rate, and second-day delivery.”

5  Finally, God said, “I will make a mailman in my image, after my likeness, and let him have dominion over the mail, and postcards shall read he them.”

6  But later, the Lord God said, “It is not good that the mailman should be alone.” And so he caused a deep sleep to fall upon the mailman, and took one of his ribs, and made He a mailwoman, and brought her unto the mailman.

7  The mailman said, “This is now bone of my bones and employee of my civil service. She shall be called: mailperson.”

8  They both were naked, except for their bags.

9  Later on, the Lord God planted a garden, in the lower east side of Eden, and there He put the mailpersons He had formed, and the postal office of which He had made thee it.

10  After that, the Lord God commanded the mailpersons saying, “Of every tree of the postal grounds, thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of collective bargainings, thou shall not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely be attacked by all manner of dog and die.”

11  But the civil serpent said unto the mailwoman: “If ye eat of the tree of the knowledge of collective bargainings, ye shall not die, for God doth know that in the day ye eat of the tree, then, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing of work stoppages and calling in sick.”

12  The mailwoman desired the fruit of the tree and did eat. She gave also unto the mailman and he did eat. The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, except for their bags, and so they sewed many fig leaves together, making postal uniforms.

13  Suddenly, the Lord God called unto the mailman and said, “Why hide you he in underbrush thus?”

14  And the mailman said, “I am looking for my chronograph!”

15  Coyly, the Lord God said, “Who told thee that thou had no wristwatch?”

16  The mailman answered, “The mailperson whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, C.O.D.”

17  Sternly, the Lord God said unto the mailwoman, “What the hell is this thou hast done?”

18  The mailwoman replied, “The civil serpent beguiled me.”

19  Unto the mailpersons God said: “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of the civil serpent, ye shall drive in tiny Jeeps, and delivereth all manner of mail to distant places of dwelling which in turn shall contain multitudes of rude dogs. I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and in sorrow shall the mailwoman bring forth tiny mailpersons. They shall multiply in the earth, and shall be cursed above all cattle, above every beast of the field, and above all manner of living thing, except for used car salesmen.”


 ~ by Russ Allison Loar © All Rights Reserved





Biden Dorks Out!














Vice President Joe Biden appears to temporarily lose his mind during President Barack Obama's "jobs" speech to Congress on September 8, 2011.

Actually, he was licking his lips due to dry mouth.



~ Unaltered photo of freeze-framed TV screen by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





No Wonder!





So old Chinesey man run away from Lost Angeless mental confinement palace and seek taxi cab steerage.

When after much arm wagging hot dog mustard color car stop, Chinesey man find into back seat and profuse:

“Hurry hurry! Drive to Kowloon! No letter from home residents for twenty year!”

“You must tug my leg sideways,” taxi pilot expunge. “Drive to Kowloon impossibility. Kowloon on other shore side of ocean water expanse!”

“Ah,” Chinesey man breathe when brain light explode, “No wonder they never write!”








~ by Whingy Whang
© All Rights Reserved





Sit!







Q:   What's Lassie's favorite
        kind of chair?

A:    A Barkalounger!






~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Baboon-ed!




















M ethinks
These be baboon-ed days.
For want of suck this curv-ed fruit I entreat.




~ by Russ Allison Loar
Photo: Public Domain
© All Rights Reserved