Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 6 Over the Holidays

With the holidays looming, Jenny went Christmas shopping for the girls at Inner Child Toys. This was the new toy shop which featured hand-made toys as well as the usual mass-produced variety. She purchased a couple of adorable old-fashioned teddy bears, two new video games and three remote controlled toys. Outdoor items were available; a water wiggler, and she bought two of the spin and twirl rides. She was sure they'd be excited about those, although they could not be used until warm weather came again.

Afterward, she went by Larry Max's cafe; she just couldn't wait any longer to see it. The food was down home and delicious as she knew it would be. He was quite busy, but he stopped long enough to have a few words with her. She was amazed to hear of his recent move to a new house and realized with a start that he was ripe to enjoy attention from some woman or another, after all these years.

Of course, I'm happy for him, she thought, it's just that I guess I never really thought about him with another woman. I wonder if he has his eye on anyone in particular...

The week before Christmas Jenny and Lonnie and the girls attended the school Christmas pageant, where the girls sang carols with their class, and a holiday party over at the Cooke's house across the street. So they actually enjoyed the fact that it was just them; Lonnie, Jenny, Loni Faye and Liara, on Christmas Eve. However; this was not unusual for them. They had cultivated few friends since they married. Jenny had already known Bobbi Jo Cooke from back when she was still married to Larry Max and she'd remained a loyal friend. Lonnie was casual friends with a good many of his customers (and his all-female staff, which irritated Jenny) and he still  saw Nicky Ferguson from time to time, but their life was still insular. Of course, Loni Faye and Liara needed their parents attention anyway, but the truth was that both of their reputations had been somewhat unsavory, especially Jenny's. Many of her one-time neighbors had been avoiding her since before her divorce. Mostly these consisted of wives who, naturally enough, took a dim view of someone who treated their marriage vows as cavalierly as Jenny had. Lonnie didn't fare quite so badly due to a combination of the fact that one; he had been single when he wandered from woman to woman and, two, there was definitely a double standard alive and well in Pleasantview.

But on this evening they were unconcerned about their popularity or lack thereof; they were happy to be celebrating the holiday with their precious daughters. When Santa Claus made his appearance, Jenny and Lonnie were still up; but the girls were fast asleep. Or so their parents thought. In reality, Loni Faye had been so revved up that she couldn't sleep; Santa was coming at any moment! So she went into Liara's bedroom and woke her drowsy sister up to wait with her for the sound of sleigh bells. Soon she had Liara wide awake and practically dancing with excitement as well.

When they heard someone chuckling in a deep voice, they scampered downstairs. Once Loni Faye saw Santa in the flesh she began hopping up and down and laughing.

Impulsively, she ran over to him crying out,

“Merry Christmas, Santa!”

Throwing her arms around him as though he was family, she even cajoled him into playing “Red Hands” with her.

Bashful Liara ducked her head and quietly started playing with the new toys.

After admonishing Loni Faye and Liara to be good girls so he could bring them lots of nice things next Christmas, too, Santa was on his way. The girls had fun with their new teddies and toys while their parents cuddle on the sofa.

After the girls were safely ensconced in their beds Jenny couldn't help but think of her other children. She did every year at this time especially. They would all be celebrating together at the Big House tomorrow. Even thought Larry Max had moved out, their youngest son, Andy, lived there with his wife Holly and they would be throwing a big-old-fashioned get-together. She knew because Larry Max had told her. She also knew that her youngest son Andy had three babies now, the twins who were two, Arliss and Alexa, and a new baby boy, Bradley. Andy had not called to tell her, but his wife had sent an announcement with a photo of the newborn and a wallet-sized professional photo of the twins. She didn't remember Holly among Andy's high school friends back in the day--they didn't date until college--but she appreciated her thoughtfulness. Their children were the first grandchildren Jenny had. She was not particularly happy to be old enough for grandchildren. Lonnie was 15 years younger than her and she was very conscious of the fact. However; she wanted very much to see them. As for Chelsea and her husband, Jenny hardly remembered Trey. He'd dated Chelsea during her last two years of high school, but Jenny was gone from the house by that time. Mike's wife, Lucy, she'd never met at all because they didn't get together until college. She knew they were all thinking that this was what she deserved and she guessed they were right. But her heart still ached to see and talk to her four oldest children and their families. Only Corky kept in touch at all and that was by phone two or three times a year. She didn't know his wife, Elle, either, but they always sent a Christmas card.

"Maybe this next year will be the one where your sons and daughter will want to see you again," Lonnie said hopefully and Jenny realized he knew where her thoughts were. She only nodded; she didn't trust herself to speak without tears and she would not ruin their Christmas. She had given up everything to have Lonnie and their daughters, and never regretted it, but in the last few years she was more and more torn. They were her very life and she would die for them. But at the time she turned her back on her former life she had realized all that she was losing or how impossible it would be to ever get any piece of it back. For years now she had still hoped to have her cake and eat it, too. Now she acknowledged at last that she had made choices and they had consequences attached to them.

The snow was once more falling softly outside as Jenny tried to sleep, Lonnie's arms tight around her. There had to be some way to unite her youngest daughters with Chelsea and the rest of the family. Now she not only wanted it for Chelsea and herself, but for Loni Faye and Liara, tool. Maybe Lonnie was right; maybe this year would be the one where she could make a miracle happen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Harvey and Lori Ferguson Ch. 11 Christmas Day Pt. 2

When it was time to eat everyone oohed and ahhed over the buffet tables; a sumptuous feast was laid out there. Melora made the roast turkey with sage and onion stuffing and Lori again made her crown roast of pork with apple pork stuffing and these were the two centerpieces. They were surrounded by fluffy mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, savory turkey gravy, sweet apple-cider gravy, candied yams and fresh green beans from John's greenhouse. Grace brought her personal favorite; a winter fruit salad with lemon-poppy seed dressing. There were flaky herb crescent rolls and a sweet homemade cranberry sauce brought by Barbara. 

All manner of desserts were on hand, Lori brought Ambrosia cake, and a California Harvest pie, brimming with plump raisins, and Chelsea made two loaves of pumpkin bread. Rounding all this out were the sweet Christmas sugar cookies and, of course, Melora's famous Chocolate Oatmeal Icebox Cookies. This was a family recipe she had been making since 1964 when she was a young girl. The secret that made these cookies different from all other chocolate-oatmeal cookies was the peanut butter, not too little and not too much, just 1/2 cup.

"I always use Jif," Melora told Chelsea, "You can't be chintzy with your ingredients; it can make all the difference."

Grace's Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing


•    1/2 cup white sugar
•    1/2 cup lemon juice
•    2 teaspoons diced onion
•    1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
•    1/2 teaspoon salt
•    2/3 cup vegetable oil
•    1 tablespoon poppy seeds
•    1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
•    4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
•    1 cup cashews
•    1/4 cup dried cranberries
•    1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
•    1 pear - peeled, cored and sliced

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix.
  2. In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat. 

Melora's Chocolate Oatmeal Icebox Cookies


2 cups granulated sugar 
1/2 cup whole milk 1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
1 stick (8 tbsp.) of butter or margarine
3 cups Quaker QUICK Oats (do not use instant or slow-cooking)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or Melora prefers almond extract for an elegant touch)

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the sugar, milk, cocoa and butter and bring them gradually to a slow-rolling boil, stirring all the time. As soon as the boiling begins, set your timer to let it boil for two minutes, still stirring the whole time. After two minutes, remove the pan from the heat and quickly add the peanut butter, Quick Oats and the extract. Mix quickly together until the oats are evenly moistened and the peanut butter is mixed in but no longer than that, do not over-mix. Quickly drop by teaspoonfuls on to waxed paper using cookie sheets, baking pans or platters. Refrigerate immediately. 

They're better if made the night before, but can be ready to gobble in few hours. Serve them cold. You cannot believe how good these are, so when making them for parties, make an extra batch for home use!


Lori's Ambrosia Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. oil
1 sm. can mandarin oranges, un-drained
1 tsp vanilla
(Or ½ tsp vanilla and ½ tsp orange flavoring)
Mix all ingredients, including liquid from oranges. Pour into 13 X 9 greased pan. Batter will be thin. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. Don’t worry that the cake doesn’t rise really high. This lower half of this will be cake and the upper half the frosting and fruit.
Super Easy Frosting:
1 lg. can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 lg. container Cool Whip
1-1/2 cups flaked coconut
Mix pudding, pineapple and pineapple juice until set. Add Cool Whip. Frost the cake. Sprinkle coconut on top. You must keep this refrigerated. Harvey guarantees it's to die for.

The dining room was full of good cheer, good food, and people who loved each other and were happy to be together.

After the meal Grace helped her mother with the dishes and cleanup. David and Barbara sneaked back to the now deserted library for a little private one on one time. Melora and Chelsea started a video game in the living room. The others moved upstairs to the entertainment room where Harvey and Trey began a game of pool.

Only one person was not filled with comfort and peace of mind at the moment. For Lalique was at it again, moving sylph-like through John's thoughts right while he sat next to his oldest daughter. He had always considered himself a responsible man with a will of iron and complete control over his emotions, but at the moment he felt like a randy old goat. If Melora ever guessed what his subconscious was doing he knew she would smack him into the middle of next week and then burst into tears. 

Watching Trey and Harvey playing pool and joking around John reflected how young and healthy they were with the world before them. When he was their age he had not yet met Melora. How had time slipped so quickly through his fingers? What he really wanted was to be young once more and do it all over again. Start his contracting business with his father, and fall in love with Melora once more. And he wouldn't change a thing, just live their life together a second time. But, of course, that was a crazy notion. He would never be young again.

Melora was still with Chelsea in the front room.

"Yes, I expect any moment to hear that David and Barbara are getting married," she told Chelsea and gestured toward the room behind them, "I know they're in the library right now making out like high school kids."

Chelsea laughed.

"I just hope they won't run off to Vegas the way Grace and Devon did," Melora teased, "You and Trey, too. I forgive all of you, sweetie, but I can't help hoping for one more wedding besides Lori and Harvey's. Well, we'll just have to wait and see. Anyway, she's a lovely girl and I'd be very happy if she was his choice. Otherwise, I fear he'll never settle down."

When her father happened to step under the mistletoe Grace caught his hand and pointed above. She'd always kept him on a pedestal her whole life and nothing had changed about that. Giving John a Christmas kiss on his cheek she said warmly,

"Merry Christmas, Daddy--you're the best!"

Lori took Harvey to her girlhood bedroom to see the desk she wanted him to move to their house after Christmas.

"Ahh, I finally make it here to your virginal sanctuary after all these years," he spoke softly in her ear, "So this must be where you had all your girlfriends over for pajama parties. And I bet you all gossiped, watched scary movies and did your nails?"

"You forgot ordering pizza. We always ordered from Pizza Shack; it was an unwritten rule. Oh, yes, and we ALWAYS talked about boys."

"I see. I hope I was included," he grinned and then his eyes went over the huge desk again, "Sure, honey, I can get Gareth over here with his truck and we'll get that big mother out of here. And we won't let your dad lift a finger--I promise."

Lori kissed his cheek,

"I knew I could count on you, m'lad. And, yes, you were very much in the conversation."

Of course, she didn't mention that Brian Ottomas had figured even more prominently. It just wasn't necessary--it was time past.

By the time they all left to go their respective homes it was quite late. The snow glittered in the moonlight and crunched underfoot and they called out "Merry Christmas" to each other as they went on their way either by car or by foot, depending on the distance.

For the moment the Lassiter family was peaceful and happy, but trouble was brewing, in more than one way.