Laughing All the Way
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by Darrell Bain
Description: At last! The hilarious sequel to the five star rated Life on Santa Claus Lane is back! The bumbling adventures of a Christmas tree farmer and his saintly wife who (mostly) overlooks his aversion to work, his inability to handle anything mechanical without a life and death struggle, his aversion to work, his misguided attempts at cooking, his aversion to work, and the foibles of life on a farm his wife has to work to support while he is trying to become a writer. Don't miss it!
eBook Publisher: Twilight Times Books, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: February 2008
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [233 KB]
Reading time: 161-225 min.
I suppose a little history is in order here. A few years ago I began writing short, humorous pieces about everyday events occurring on our Christmas tree farm, which is located on Santa Claus Lane. Yes, that's right. Santa Claus Lane is a real post office address and my wife Betty and I grow Christmas trees here. We once grew chickens but thankfully, that is now history. At the present time we only grow cats and dogs, the dogs one at a time.
You might think that things happening around here would be funny only to us and the rest of the family, which is what I thought at first, too. However, our daughter Colleen began passing the stories around at work where she teaches school and before long relayed word back that I had an appreciative audience reading the stories. Not only that, they began clamoring to Colleen for a collection of the stories. Clamors affect me positively, so that's what I did: collect the stories. That was the easy part. The hard part was finding a publisher.
Print publishing companies were singularly underwhelmed by the collection, which I titled Life on Santa Claus Lane, but eventually I found an electronic book publishing company which recognized my great talent and put the stories out under that title as an eBook, a new paradigm in the publishing world. And then, lo and behold, the reviews began coming in, with statements such as " ... absolutely delightful." and " ... all the makings of an old time story teller" and so on. Eventually a small print publisher believed all those good reviews and brought the book out as a trade paperback.
In the meantime, I started a newsletter for fans and always included one of my wacky stories in each issue. I held a contest to name the newsletter with first prize a copy of one of my novels, Medics Wild. The winning entry, picked by yours truly, caused the newsletter to be named Laughing All The Way. And now, constant reader, as you may suspect, this book is a collection of the stories which have appeared in the newsletter. My readers simply demanded that I put the collection all in one place. So I did, and hence you are now reading it, that is if I ever finish this introduction. Bear with me, it won't take much longer. * * * *
Besides myself, my wife Betty, our dachshund doggie named Biscuit and a few cats, there are also some other family members living on Santa Claus Lane. We and the Christmas tree farm occupy the front fifty acres. Two sets of kids and their families and one granddaughter and her family reside on the back 20 acres. There is daughter Pat and son-in-law Rob and granddaughter Robyn, then son Mike and daughter-in-law Linda and granddaughter Amy and granddaughter Bridgette and her two kids, Matthew and Cheyanne. There. I think that's everyone.
Whoops! Almost forgot. I have to include Biscuit the Weenie Dog since he lives in the house and has wormed himself not only into our hearts but under the blankets, too. At first he wasn't allowed on the bed, and then on the bed but not under the covers and ultimately under the covers, but doggie people will understand how those things go. However, right at first that wasn't the case and Betty could take a nap in peace. I wrote the following while he was still a puppy.
Biscuit knows he's not allowed to lick either of us in the face. Biscuit knows he isn't supposed to get up on the bed. What do little kids and puppy dogs do when they know they aren't supposed to do something? Why, they do it, of course. In Biscuit's case he waits until Betty has napped an hour, no longer, or until daylight in the morning, no longer. If she isn't up out of the bed by then, here he comes, thunkety thunk thunk, little short legs pumping, and takes a flying leap, plop, onto the bed then galumph galumph, up Betty's back (or front) he scampers, slurup slurup goes his tongue up the side of her face and down the other side as she comes wide awake, then galumph galumph, down her other side after she's rolled over, plop onto the floor he goes and thunkety thump thump, little legs churning, as he runs in to tell me what a good doggie he is, grinning and wagging his tail, as exuberant as a boy who has just raided a cookie jar without being caught.
We and the kids and grandkids and great grandkids all live in peace and harmony on the seventy-five or so acres where Santa Claus Lane meanders down at a right angle from the blacktop road, through the Christmas trees, past our house, on past Pat and Rob's house and Bridgette's house and all the way back to Mike and Linda's house which backs up onto a cypress break replete with alligators, wild hogs, turkeys, bobcats, and all kinds of other varmints.
Peace and harmony reigns over this seventy five acres. That is except during the Christmas season when we all lose our collective sanity and during the rest of the year except when either Biscuit or I get into trouble.
The Christmas tree farm is and has been sort of a family enterprise for twenty years now. The kids work during the selling season and the grandkids grew up helping and now their kids are out there greeting customers and handing out flyers. It has been a grand experience and we hope we can keep it up for many more years.
Now, let's get on with the stories. You'll meet everyone again-especially me, as I go my lazy, bumbling way, trying to avoid work by writing books and hiring grandkids and day laborers to do what I should be doing and complaining about my bad back while Betty is out trimming trees, making wreaths and driving tractors. It's a wonderful life. Most of the time. * * * * Chapter One: Personal History and Strange Things
Since I started writing books, a few people have asked what I'm like and what I've done in life. Now that's a hard one, but I'll try.
I am handsome, intelligent, genial, healthy, amiable, pleasant, gracious, clever, able, superbly handsome for my years and a wonderfully gifted writer. I have been a brave soldier, a medical person who always cared for his patients, a paperboy who never threw the paper on the roof and an ice cream machine operator who produced almost as much ice cream as he ate. I am married to the loveliest and most gracious woman in existence who never, ever argues or gets mad. She is also a good cook, a wonderful lover and believes all my stories about having a bad back when I'm trying to get out of work. My dog is smarter than any other dog in the world and my cat can purr louder than your cat.
There. Now you know all about me. * * * *
It was the post office which decided that we and the kids had to have a real street address rather than a route number. When they dubbed the road running through our fifty acres and on to the ten acres each belonging to the kids Santa Claus Lane, our daughter-in-law Linda promptly abolished her mailbox and got a post office box number to handle their mail. She said she wasn't going to be laughed at every time someone asked for her address. I can't say I blame her. It is the perfect address for a Christmas tree farm but I have noticed we get some rather strange looks and have to explain to a lot of people when asked that yes, it really is a real address.
Besides the strange looks, strange things seem to happen on Santa Claus Lane. When the aliens land, they will probably come down right in our driveway. One of the strangest is that, as mentioned, I managed to have a book published about the odd happenings here. Folks who have read the first book, Life on Santa Claus Lane, have accused me of being lazy. That's a canard. I'm not lazy, I just like to work sitting down and writing is easy work if you're just telling the truth about what's going on around your place. Well, almost the truth, barring a bit of literary elaboration. All right, so I exaggerate. I bet you have some bad habits, too, don't you? But sometimes I tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, which brings me to the point of relating one of the most fantastic strings of calamities ever to befall one family trying to move into a new home.
The calamities happened to our son-in-law Rob when he and Pat bought a new mobile home to replace their old one on Santa Claus Lane. Everyone except Pat and Rob thought the events were funny but absolutely no one believed I was telling the unvarnished truth and nothing but the truth when I wrote about them. They thought I was making the whole thing up!
Pat and Rob were happily occupying a fourteen foot wide mobile home and owned another old mobile home they had lived in previously and kept on hand for relatives to occupy when and if needed. Pat was perfectly content with her little place until Rob started making so much money that he hired Pat as his administrative assistant-and then she decided it was time to move up in the mobile home world. Did I tell you that Rob manages mobile home lots for a living? No? Well, that's probably where the trouble started. He thought he knew everything there was to know about mobile homes. And moving mobile homes. And setting up mobile homes. Boy, was he wrong! * * * * Chapter Two: Big Mama and Hubris
When Pat told us about the new mobile home they had bought, I immediately named it "Big Mama" in honor of its size. It was one of the largest, tallest double-wide homes ever made, according to Pat and probably the heaviest after Rob had the factory add all the extra bracing, insulation, and so forth.
Okay, now let's leave Big Mama for a moment and return to the ten acres back behind us where Pat and Rob live. Remember that extra old mobile home they kept around for visitors, out of work relatives and so forth? They had sort of thought of fixing it up as a home for Rob's parents for when they were no longer able to drive but as it turned out, the company doing the financing accepted it as a down payment on Big Mama. Pat and Rob were very happy since that meant they could keep the one they were living in, which was newer and in much better shape, as the spare. Rob was really proud of himself for making that deal. He bragged about it, which perhaps he shouldn't have. Hubris has a way of turning around and biting your behind off if you're not careful. Just to prove this thesis, listen to what happened a week or two later. * * * *
Once Rob had consummated the deal, the old trailer had to be moved to make room for the new double-wide, and of course their financial institution wanted to see it ensconced at the lot Rob runs, all renovated and ready for them to get their money back from it. Moving a trailer costs anywhere from several hundred dollars up to a thousand or two, so Rob decided to do the moving himself, with the help of a friend who owned a big truck.
The first I knew of it, Rob came over to borrow my air tanks to inflate the tires on the old trailer. Then throughout the morning and on into the afternoon Betty and I heard periodic moving noises. At least that's what we assumed they were. When I went for the mail I happened to notice my big tractor was missing. That should have told me something was wrong, but somehow it didn't click. We listened to more sounds coming from back behind the trees, some of them rather strange, truth to tell, and sounding not at all like a trailer being moved. Eventually, shortly before dark, all the noises ceased and we thought the job had been accomplished. At least when I stepped outside and looked in the carport I saw that my tractor and air tanks were back home.
Betty and I decided to walk over and admire Rob's accomplishment, which he had assured Pat would save them hundreds of dollars, money which they could then spend with happy abandon while they were on an imminent three day vacation to Cancun that Rob had won for exceptional sales ability. He may be a great salesman but his trailer moving abilities, and those of the friend he had hired to help, left much to be desired.
The trailer was still there, what was left of it. Rob and his friend had somehow, with the aid of the moving truck and my tractor, gotten the trailer so entangled with the numerous pine trees surrounding it that they had bent the frame, pulled the body apart at the top in three separate places and wedged it so tightly amongst the trees that nothing short of a bonafide miracle was ever going to get it loose. And now, not only did they not have the trailer to trade, they were going to have to pay someone to come cut some trees and haul away the junk the trailer had been turned into because Big Mama was still rapidly making her way down the assembly line-after Rob quickly substituted a substantial amount of money in place of the trailer he had gotten such a good deal on as a trade-in.
They left the next morning for romantic Cancun-with Pat not speaking to Rob and Rob snarling whenever he opened his mouth. Betty and I figured that if Pat came back without him, no one would ask questions because no jury in the world would convict her. They would call it justifiable homicide.