Christmas, 2008
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Christmas, 2008                                                                                                                                    


Dear Family and Friends,


Well, it’s time once again for your annual serving of holiday cheer from the Franklins. The Franklins, for their part, are sucking up their holiday cheer through cocktail straws and I.V. drips.


Joe was happy to take his family back to Arizona for winter break this year where he’d managed to find the lost kingdom of astronomy nerds, also known as The Astronomers’ Inn. Located on a butte in Benson, Arizona, The Astronomers’ Inn has astral-themed bedrooms, a domed observatory and a retractable roof that, when opened, allows about a dozen telescopes to be trained on the night sky.


The “Galaxy Room”, which is a shrine of sorts to ‘Star Wars’, is where the Franklins stayed and features a 10 foot diameter domed ceiling. Now for those of you not familiar with the laws of physics, if you stand at the rim of the dome and whisper, a person standing on the rim at the opposite side can hear you clearly, as if you’re standing right next to them. This provides hours of fun for your offspring who stand at opposite ends whispering such endearments as “You suck!” or “No, YOU suck!”


Turns out, you can also hire an astronomer, a sort of celestial Yoda with no discernable social skills, to spend a few hours with you showing you the wonders of the night sky. While your astronomer will want to show you obscure nebulae and galaxies far, far away, you’ll be waiting to see which of your kids will ask “Can we see Uranus?” or “Will we see a full moon?” to which Nancy will reply “Only if your father steps in front of the telescope.”


The Franklins continued on to Tucson for the annual rodeo where Nancy decided to pass a kidney stone. This is much like trying to pass a glass shard-encrusted bowling ball through a straw full of nerve endings. Childbirth pales by comparison. This was when Joe, showing an abject fear of Nancy grasping his testicles during a pain spasm, threw her in the back of the rental car and drove her to Tucson Medical Center. There, Nancy got wonderful drugs and a cot while Joe got quality time with the local Tucson drunks and roustabouts in the waiting room. Jimmy and Taylor, left behind in the luxury resort, however, got room service, movies on demand and an opportunity to call Nancy’s family in Seattle and inform them that “Mom’s in the hospital and we don’t know why.”


Of course, this was nothing compared to the Franklin’s stay at “The Presidio on Monterey” over Thanksgiving. For those of you thinking this sounds like a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons, think again. The Presidio is an actual U.S. Army base and only those with relatives in the military can stay there. On arrival, your uniformed welcoming committee will greet you with very large guns and something just short of a cavity search. Once at your quarters, the friendly desk clerk will inform you that there’s no elevator to your third floor accommodations. However, at this point, the helpful “concierge’ steps in with instructions to “Hump it, maggots!” which propels you to your room in no time. Now I don’t know but I’ve been told, Army housing’s far from gold- which will become abundantly clear to you as you admire your concrete block wall construction and the camouflage green tiles end exposed plumbing in the bathroom. Rest assured, this is sensible construction should you be the target of a circa 1944 bombing mission. Reveille is played at 5:30am every morning, taps at sunset every night, and your continental breakfast is a MRE (meals-ready-to-eat) in the mess. Of course Nancy was most impressed with the lovely amenity basket-- lotion, soap, and mending kit-- all in lovely camouflage khaki and green, with the “Army Lodging” brand proudly emblazoned thereon.


In individual news, Joe remains addicted to tennis; apparently it’s the rush of the smooth, rounded curve of the racket coming into contact with fresh balls. Or something like that. He and his group of muchachos play Saturday mornings and then retire to breakfast. Nancy is sure that the only perspiration comes from the hot sauce on the huevos rancheros. Joe entered the Manhattan Open Tournament this year in both the singles and doubles “C” level division. This is not like centre court at Wimbledon. This is more like “slightly off-center” court. Fans included about three guys, two of whom were having Geritol shooters with their Starbuck’s lattes. Joe did, however, manage to win in both his categories, which has made him a target for those other “youth-challenged” buddies he plays with.


Nancy started piano lessons in March and is constantly asked by her family to play “Far, Far , Away.” She also continues to take karate, where her coordination is more like Sara Lee than Bruce Lee. Every time Sensei yells “Pooosh-uhhpps!” Nancy’s already got an advantage, since her sagging breasts hit the floor without her having to bend an elbow. Nancy also started a new job as Regional Director, Marketing & Communications for Providence Health & Services. Providence is a non-profit, Catholic healthcare system; Nancy is a non-Catholic, marketing profiteer pirate. While Nancy’s busy hiding her knuckles from the nuns’ rulers, Joe, Jimmy and Taylor are trying not to stand too close to her lest they become collateral damage when she gets hit with a lightening bolt or spontaneously bursts into flames.


Jimmy, now 17, and Taylor, 16, a junior and sophomore respectively at Mira Costa High School, continue to show the level of scholastic prowess that keeps trade schools in business. Jimmy is playing starting fullback for the junior varsity football team and “tackling dummy” for the varsity team. Joe and Nancy have officially changed his name to “Fresh Meat” Franklin and are simply grateful that football leaves him too tired for girls. Mira Costa made it all the way to the CIF Division III championships this year, finally losing in the championship game. Next year Mira Costa is going to need to pay the refs more than the opposing team and try to play on a field that doesn’t resemble Hell, frozen over.


Taylor had a successful year on the frosh-soph girls’ softball team last spring. She had a .553 batting average and was awarded Most Outstanding Player. Looks like all those years of swatting her brother’s pumpkin-shaped head with a nerf bat are really paying off.


But the big news is that in October, both Jimmy and Taylor passed their California Driver’s License tests. Say what you will about the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and the caliber of employees therein, but Nancy and Joe have a newfound respect for these surly employees who day after day, hour after hour, flip the bird at the Grim Reaper and climb into the passenger seat next to kids who couldn’t find the hood release even if told that an ice cold keg of beer had replaced the radiator.


Driving friends is illegal in California until you’ve had your license for a year, which is how it came to pass that both Jimmy and Taylor lost their driving privileges within 72 hours of getting their licenses. Taylor got caught when the mother of a friend thanked Joe for giving her daughter a ride. Jimmy, when asked directly if he’d driven anyone, figured he’d been narced out by some friends of his parents and sang like a canary.


Being the “decider” of the car keys is much like being Zeus with a big-ass quiver of lightening bolts. And if you’re Jimmy and Taylor and you’ve just had your butt singed by the knowledge that you might never again get your hands on those coveted car keys, you’ll do just about anything to get them back. Which Nancy and Joe took full advantage of for an entire day. After a day of gardening, cleaning, sobbing and garment-rending, it was during a warm and nurturing bonding family dinner that Nancy jokingly said the kids should write “I will not drive with friends in the car” 100 times. To which Jimmy jumped in and said “I’ll do that! I’ll do that holding the pencil in my ASS!”


So Joe and Nancy let them BOTH do that—several hundred times each.


And so, as Jimmy and Taylor drive off into the sunset, picking wood splinters and lead out of their buttocks, the Franklins give thanks, once again, for car GPS systems, web filters and friends who narc out the Franklin children.


May you all have many blessings in 2009!



The Franklins, Joe, Nancy, Jimmy and Taylor

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