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Christmas Memories

Gift Guide
Supplement to

December 9, 2016

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2 Gift Guide TWO

December 9, 2016

A product of the Auburn Journal


December 10 & 17, 2016
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On the streets of
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Artwork by Jan Kapple
A product of the Auburn Journal

December 9, 2016

Gift Guide TWO 3

Editors note:

Community members
share Christmas memories
A reluctant caroler.
A holiday turkey like no other.
Christmas cookies that somehow went flying.
In this publication, you will find Christmas memories both poignant and funny. As editor, compiling
these contributions has been a joy.
Each one of these essays, in its own way, is a gift,
and I want to thank those who contributed:
Gordon Ainsleigh, legendary endurance athlete,
chiropractor, and regular Journal contributor.
Kevin Ashby, chief operating officer of Gold Country
Carol Guild, the Journals features editor and a
gifted storyteller.
John Bowman, a retired editor who now writes a
column for the Auburn Journal.
Megan Houchin, the Journals lead page designer.
Susan Rushton, featured columnist for the Journal
and woman-about-town.
Janis Shelhorn, the Journals multi-talented newsroom typist.
Bob Snyder, community leader and former Auburn
Randi Swisley, president of the Placer County
League of Voters and guest columnist for the
Dan Tomich, retired from the construction industry,
now a guest columnist for the Journal.
Gloria Young, the Journals very versatile copy editor, page designer and reporter.
I, too, offered a Christmas memory, though its a
truly humble effort compared to those provided by the
contributors mentioned above.
In any case, I hope these essays brighten your holiday season as much as they have mine.

The man who refused to sing carols

or me, music makes the Christmas season. As a child I loved the popular
songs about Santa, reindeer and especially the Christ child. When I got into
high school I sang in a 16-voice madrigal group made up of singers from
throughout the community and performed parts of Handels Messiah. And
for eight years, it was a three-hour dinner performance at a renaissance Christmas feast
all a cappella.
As I grew older, Sandra and I would bundle up the kids each year and head out to our
Kevin Ashby
neighbors and friends, especially my more senior friends, and go door to door Christmas caroling. We have shared many tender moments with neighbors and friends in their own homes,
singing about the Christ child, with tears of emotion blocking our vision.
In one of these lucky neighborhoods, as we were going door to door, we started inviting the family we just caroled to
bundle up and continue on with us. And our group started getting larger and larger after singing at each location. And then
we found ourselves at the door of Jim Carol who showed his bah humbug! attitude by refusing to go caroling with us when
we invited.
After shaming him to the point that he finally broke down, put on his coat and walked around the neighborhood with us I
mean, his last name would have shouted I am a caroling fanatic! But, no. In fact, he was very vocal with his very clear
message that he was only walking with us, not participating and especially not singing.
And as all caroling activities should end, we finished up at our house where we had some homemade chili and hot chocolate.
Now, fast forward 12 months. I am sitting at home looking out the front windows at the neighbors lights and contemplating another wonderful Christmas season, when I get a phone call.
So! When are going? asked the caller.
Ummm who is this? I questioned.
You know who this is. This is Jim Carol and I want to know when we are going out Christmas caroling? he said. Now let
me remind you that I dont sing.
And I knew that from that moment on, I had one more Christmas caroling convert saying merry Christmas to all and to
all a good night!
Kevin Ashby is chief operating officer of Gold Country Printing.

Rich Hanner
Content Director
Auburn Journal
1030 High Street, Auburn, CA 95603
General Information: (530) 885-5656

Gold Country Media Services

Ask us about our design and printing services.

4 Gift Guide TWO


Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The publisher shall not be
responsible for any liabilities arising from the publication of copy provided by any advertiser for Foothill Magazine. Further, it shall not be liable for any act of
omission on the part of the advertiser pertaining to their published advertisement in Foothill Magazine.

Executive Publisher:
Gary Milks, (530) 852-0250,

Content director:
Richard Hanner, (530) 852-0236,

Advertising director:
Beth OBrien, (530) 852-0223,

writer and photographer:

Tessa Marguerite, (530) 852-0276,

Julie Miller, (530) 852-0256,

December 9, 2016

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Gift Guide TWO 5

Hit the gas and the

cookies went flying

By Janis Shelhorn

bout 30 years ago, I started a tradition of baking cookies for family and friends. It all
started because a friend needed a place to be over Christmas and needed a distraction.
On Christmas Eve, we decided to bake cookies. After choosing several recipes and
making the grocery list, we headed off to Raleys to get all the fixings including the wrapping, ribbons and
glass plates. We mixed, stirred, boiled, and baked until way after midnight.
The next morning, Christmas Day, we were getting all the plates in the car to achieve a day of delivering
the plates of cookies in Auburn, Vallejo, Pleasant Hill, Tracy and Elk Grove and back. All ready we said to
each other I put the car in reverse, hit the gas and one of the plates of cookies took an early leap off the
roof of the car, down the windshield, and up ended on the driveway in front of the car.
Well, my father, bless his loving heart, received only the ribbon and the card.
He said it was good to just have the company!
Janis Shelhorn with her brothers, George, left, and David, during a
holiday visit at their grandparents home in Indianapolis, circa 1957.

Janis Shelhorn is the Journals newsroom assistant

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Gift Guide TWO 7

Randi Swisley

Miffed I missed
Santas visit

The first 10 years of my life I lived with my

grandparents. My grandmother hosted our extended
family for dinner and opening presents on Christmas Eve. There were loads of people crammed into
the 1,200-square-foot house and lots of fun chaos.
Christmas day was left for sleeping in, peacefully
eating leftovers and playing with new toys we got for
Christmas the night before.
My uncle was always an adventure. Any chance
to spend time with him especially if I could get in
the car and go into town with him was a coveted
experience. So for my first several Christmas Eves, it
was easy for me to be convinced to go on a joy ride with
Uncle Kenny right after dinner. When we returned, we
were told the exciting news that Santa had come while
we were gone! I would run into the living room to check
out our new treasures.
Finally, one Christmas Eve, I started catching on.
Even though it was a significant sacrifice to give up
gallivanting around town with Uncle Kenny, I decided
I would rather stay home to make sure there was no
chance I would miss seeing Santa. I really dug my
heels in and put up quite an argument. Finally lots of
pressure from all the adults and the charm of Uncle
Kenny lured me away with the promise that we would
make it back before Santa would come.
All those adults were wrong. Santa came while we
were gone. I had missed him again. I was very upset
about being pressured against my better judgment
to do something that caused me to miss him. It was
the ultimate I told you so moment.
I dont remember ever having that argument again,
so maybe I finally put two and two together during that
year about Santa. From then on, maybe I just willingly
enjoyed my special time with Uncle Kenny and cut
Santa some slack to do his magic in private.

Megan Houchin was proposed to at Disneyland on Christmas day.

I said yes to a Disneyland proposal

or my birthday last year, my boyfriend Ike gave me two tickets to Disneyland and a hotel
room reservation. The dates were set for our anniversary weekend in December, right
in the middle of the Disneyland Christmas celebration. I was excited to spend a whole
weekend with Ike in such a magical place during the holiday season. I have always
loved Christmas and I especially love experiencing it in Disneyland ever since my very first trip to the
park on Christmas Day in 2003.
Finally the date came and we got on a flight to Los Angeles. Our first day in the park was amazing.
Megan Houchin
We went on so many rides and had a lot of fun.
The next day, Saturday, we arrived at the park early. We went on a couple rides and eventually made
our way to Snow Whites Castle at the center of the park, where a band was putting on a show. We were watching the band when
Ike said, Lets go over here, and pulled me off to the side, near the wishing well.
We started walking down a little bridge with hearts on the railings that overlooks Snow Whites Grotto. I looked around to see
14 people holding copies of the Auburn Journal over their faces. I immediately knew that something was up, but couldnt guess
with certainty what was about to happen.
He brought me to the middle of the bridge and got down on one knee. He told me he has a very important question to ask. At
that point, four of the newspapers to my left flipped over, revealing the words Will you marry me? printed on the inside and
the faces of each of our parents. The rest of the newspapers came down to reveal 10 more of our family and friends who had all
traveled to Anaheim and bought tickets to help Ike surprise me. I looked back at Ike and said, Yes.
The rest of the weekend was spent with our loved ones and filled with better times than either of us could have imagined. It
will be the best weekend of both of our lives.
At least until our wedding.
Megan Houchin is lead editorial page designer at the Auburn Journal.

Randi Swisley is the president of the League of Women Voters of

Placer County and an Auburn resident.
8 Gift Guide TWO

December 9, 2016

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December 9, 2016

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Gift Guide TWO 9

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December 9, 2016


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Gift Guide TWO 11

Adopting an
orphan tree
By Rich Hanner

It was a chilly Christmas Eve. My wife,

Judy, and I had just moved into our first home,
and wed been busy with work and unpacking.
In fact, the house was a mess.
But we agreed. We had to have a Christmas tree in our new home.
So we rushed out to find one. There werent
many left. Finally, we found a little tree braving the cold night air in a parking lot outside
a supermarket on Greenback Lane.
It seemed like the orphan of the tree lot,
the skinny trunk slightly bent, and limbs
twisted. Standing in the shadows all by itself.
Nobody, apparently, wanted that scrawny
It was prefect for us.
We were able to fit it into the trunk of our
Toyota Corolla and bring it home.
And then, it dawned on us: We had no
ornaments or other decorations.
We couldnt let our adopted tree sit there,
bare, in the living room.
First, we popped popcorn and made a
popcorn garland. Then we made a dough of
flour, salt and water. We carefully sculpted
ornaments with the faces of our parents,
siblings and pets. We baked the ornaments,
then dabbed them with watercolors.
We wrapped the tree with the popcorn and
festooned its limbs with the images of our
family members and our collective dogs and
In the glow of the fireplace, that little tree
seemed radiant.
Weve had many Christmas trees since.
Some big, some small. Some real, some
None, though, as memorable as that little
orphan tree with the handmade ornaments on
that first Christmas in our own home.

How a peek changed my

Christmas years ago

Susan Rushton

or years we had agreed: We had to keep out of the living room on Christmas
morning until Dad opened the sliding doors. He had wired them shut from the
other side the night before, before Santa arrived to demonstrate his thrilling
So every Christmas morning, the doors beckoned, tantalizing us with unimaginable
treasures in that gigantic (of course!) pile on the other side.
Finally Dad would announce that it was time. Hed go outside and unlock the front door
and stand on the other side of those sliding doors. Even then, hed delay letting us in,
instead oohing and ahhing over the loot at his feet.
I know now that he reveled in hearing us beg him to open up: Da-ad! Dad-eeeee!
And finally finally! he flung open the doors. And then, at last, we could see the

thrilling stuff that called to us.

One year, though, we talked our parents into leaving the doors open. After much cajoling, they agreed. But only if we promised not
to open any presents before the rest of us got up. Wed just look. Only look. Yes, we said, fidgeting. Only look. We promised.
It might be that I was the only one that Christmas Eve who slipped from bed, tiptoed down the dark hall, found the doors open
and snapped on the light. Wow: I goggled at all those presents and reveled in the sight.
There was the lap-sized pinball machine for my brother, with only a big red ribbon. There was the silver box with the slippers
for my mother. There on the floor was the fabulous, black, very heavy standard typewriter we had pleaded for because Mother
wouldnt let us use her portable. And there! And over there! And whats that, resting on the Christmas tree branch? And heres
Santas letter!
But I was all by myself. I couldnt share my delight because everyone else was asleep. Worse, now Id seen everything, and I
couldnt unsee it. I knew Id have to crawl back into bed with nothing to imagine. Sure, I could look forward to my familys pleasure,
anticipate unwrapping my presents and watching everybody else unwrap theirs, and of course that would be nice. Of course it would.
But the mystery was gone. Id chosen to end the excitement, and chosen to end it alone. This was no good. Anticipation had
always made up so much of the thrill of Christmas morning in my family, and Id screwed it up.
Turns out I wasnt alone in my discovery. Later, hovering around those OPEN doors, free to gawk all we wanted, if we wanted,
whenever we wanted it just felt wrong. It wasnt fun. We all agreed the experiment had failed. So much was missing.
After that, we agreed to go back to closing the doors.
Mystery won. Imagination won. Anticipation and excitement won. So did togetherness. Learning to appreciate all of those that
made for a nice Christmas present.
Susan Rushton is a featured columnist for the Auburn Journal.

Rich Hanner is the content director for Gold Country


12 Gift Guide TWO

December 9, 2016

A product of the Auburn Journal

A first Christmas together

and a shopping flurry

t was our first Christmas together. We were both recently divorced and in a way we
were rescuing each other from what could have been a sad and dismal holiday. As it
turned out, it was one of the most memorable ones Ive ever experienced.
First, there was the introduction of Valerie to my six children at an impromptu
John Bowman
gathering in my home a week before Christmas. At one point, one of the teenaged kids suggested we take a photo of all six of them. Valerie invited them to lie on the floor in a circle, star-like,
head-to-head. Within seconds they were in position on their backs. She stood tippy-toed on a chair, snapped the photo, and a family
legend was born.
Then, there was our Christmas tree decorating at Valeries townhouse a few days later. It was just the two of us. Her two children
were visiting their father for the weekend and mine were with their mother. Valerie announced that she thought that any couple who
could trim a Christmas tree without a skirmish had a long and bright future ahead of them. We made a game of it, seeing how fast
we could get done. This included betting on who could toss tinsel onto the tree from the farthest away. My hook shot from the kitchen
won the day. (Maybe not, but Im the one writing the story.) Within an hour we were standing back, admiring our creative, asymmetrical handiwork. That was 36 years ago.
Finally, there was the flurry of gift shopping together three days before Christmas. I admitted that morning that I had not yet
purchased a single present.
Ill help you, Valerie offered. We can do it all today!
We breezed through several downtown stores as if we were stars in the first TV reality show, working against a time clock.
About five hours later I had checked off everything on my list. We decided to celebrate by going out to dinner together at our favorite bistro. As we sat down and looked over the menu, I said, So, when did you finish your shopping?
To which Valerie cheerily replied, Oh, I havent started yet.
John Bowman is a retired journalist and former editor of the Roseville Press-Tribune. He now lives in Auburn where he edits books and writes poetry and
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Gift Guide TWO 13

Bright lights and oyster

stuffing in Portland
By Gloria Young

Ive enjoyed a lot of great Christmases over the years, but my favorites are from childhood.
We spent the holidays with my uncle and his family, usually at their
house in Portland, Oregon. My grandmother was there, too.
Wed arrive a few days before Christmas, providing plenty of time
for visiting and doing last-minute shopping. There was always a trip to
the ice skating rink at Lloyd Center to watch the skaters and admire the
huge Christmas tree. My mother especially loved to watch the skaters. It
recalled her teen years growing up in Eugene, Oregon, when she would
go skating every week.
In the evenings after dinner, wed go out to look at the brightly decorated homes in the surrounding neighborhoods.
As Christmas neared, each day brought a few more presents under
the tree. My cousins and I would pick up each one, shake it, and try to
guess what was inside.
Our family opened presents on Christmas Eve. That evening, one of
the adults would bundle the kids into the car for a drive so that Santa
could make his delivery. When we got back home, it was always exciting
to walk in the door and see what awaited.
As we seated ourselves around the tree, my aunt would put Christmas music on the hi-fi. In those days it was a rather large piece of wood
furniture that had a prominent place in the living room. The top was a
hinged door that lifted to reveal the turntable.
Opening the presents was very organized at least for a short time.
My dad or my uncle, wearing a Santa hat, would hand a gift to each
person. Wed each open a gift, one at time, and hold it up for the others
to see. When my dad opened a gift, especially if it was from one of the
kids, hed hold it up and say just what I always wanted. After a while,
the excitement got the best of the kids and paper and ribbon would be
flying everywhere.
Afterward, it was time to enjoy our bounty.
One year, my parents bought a set of wooden pegs and hammer for
my cousin, who was 3 or 4 years old. For the next couple of days, as the
bigger, shinier, more expensive gifts sat largely untouched, he and that
hammer were inseparable. He was all over the house, nailing down
everything in sight.
On Christmas day, my mother, aunt and grandmother would start
cooking in the morning and spend most of the day in the kitchen preparing all our holiday favorites. In addition to turkey, stuffing and all the
trimmings, there would be a half a dozen kinds of pie.
Some years my grandmother, reflecting her Louisiana heritage, would
make oyster stuffing. On those years, I kept as much distance as possible from that dish. But it was a minor inconvenience.
Gloria Young is a copy editor and reporter at the Auburn Journal.
14 Gift Guide TWO

Joyful memories of tossing icicles

Carol Guild

ne of my favorite memories is from my 11th Christmas.

My family had just moved from Sacramento up the mountain to Lake Tahoe.
My dad was a musician, and was working at different
venues around the lake.
My mom, who always worked as a legal secretary, was home more during
this time. My sisters, brother and I liked having her there.
Everything was wonderful.
I was enrolled at Kings Beach Elementary School, the first indoor school

Id ever seen.
And everything was big; the lake, the trees, the piles of snow; and the ceiling of our house.
We always cut our own, large, fresh Christmas tree. But this time, we really went big to try to reach that high
ceiling. We chose the tallest tree available. It was so grand to us that it just as well could have been the tree in
Rockefeller Center.
Decorating the Christmas tree was always fun. My mom would guide us, but trust us to do a good job. And
we would do a good job pretty much.
Those were the days when we also decorated with icicles those foil strips that looked practically nothing
like icicles, but reflected beautifully the Christmas lights.
After gingerly placing two or three of the icicles at a time, we would ultimately start tossing handfuls with
impatience and laughing to the end. My older sister, Deb, who always seemed so smart and grown up, and who
we trusted, with her big sis sort of authoritative manner; Lorna, kind, quiet, inquisitive, noticing the smallest
nuances of her surroundings; Denise, with her dimples and sunny disposition, cheerfully bouncing about; and
Robert, staying tough in a houseful of women, passive but strong like his grandfather, his big brown eyes open
wide with wonder, and a great throwing arm.
Together we could cover the tallest tree with icicles.
This was my favorite Christmas as a child, and a cherished memory I will keep with me always in that big
house near the lake, my big beautiful family all together, and our big, brightly lit, well-icicled Christmas tree.
Carol Guild is the features editor for Auburn Journal
December 9, 2016

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Gift Guide TWO 15

A legendary burnt or black

Thompsons Turkey!

y familys most unusual Christmas dinner was the result of a

recipe printed in our local Sunday newspaper with the name
of Thompsons Turkey. The late Morton Thompson, who came
up with the turkey recipe, was a New York newspaperman and
columnist who is best remembered today (except by turkey-lovers) as the author of
Not as a Stranger, a best-selling novel.
I was 17 years old (1957) and the recipe was crazy. It described a finished cooked
turkey that was beyond your wildest expectations. If you were up to the challenge of
Bob Snyder
the time-consuming, 32-ingredient shopping list and almost constant basting for
four and a half hours, the bird would be the best you have ever tasted. The recipe
boasted that Thompsons Turkey is to turkey as Miss Monroe is to women, as Jones was to golf, as and on and on. If we
followed directions, the constant basting with an egg based batter would produce a hard black shell that once peeled away would
leave a bird bursting with delicious juices and have a variety of tastes stretching from marvelous to unbelievable. Now these are
all strong claims. We were hooked.
My mother did the shopping with the clear commitment that the preparation and cooking would be a family affair. The stuffing
takes two hours to assemble, longer if you pause periodically, as Thompson advised, for a drink. It is a mixture of meat (veal and
pork), fruit (apples, oranges and even pineapple), garlic, lemon and preserved ginger, every spice and herb on your rack and lots
of water chestnuts to give it crunch. There also is a separate basting liquid, based on hard cider, and the turkey needs basting
and turning every 15 minutes from start to finish.
My family wasnt of the gourmet variety but we did like a challenge and this recipe shouted out to us I dare you to try this and
no complaining. You dontcookthis bird unless youre willing to work.
So we assembled the team and began the arduous preparations, stuffed the bird and started the roasting. The secret of the
rich moist taste is of course the hard shell that is a result of the constant basting and turning the bird over each time. At the end
we just shook our head at the blackened shell and hoped the constant attention would be worth it.
Peeling the blackened shell from the turkey skin was also difficult but the juicy tender turkey we served was fantastic. The
Thompsons turkey Christmas dinner is the only one of which I have vivid memories. It was a family affair from start to the last
bite for which I will always be thankful.
Bob Snyder is a former mayor of Auburn.

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16 Gift Guide TWO

On Morton
Thompson and

Morton Thompon

Editors note: Our astute staff writer, Gus

Thomson, recalled that Morton Thompson,
the creator of the Thompson Turkey, once
lived in Auburn. He provides a bit of background on Thompson below. Also, we couldnt
resist sharing the original recipe for the
Thompson turkey.
Morton Thompson lived two years inAuburnin
the 1940s, working as a lab technician and soaking up imagery of small-town doctoring that he
would adeptly work into his bestselling novel Not
As A Stranger.
Thompson based his novel around characters he
encountered in theAuburnarea and the ensuing
novel became one of the biggest-selling books of
1954 nationally. A year later, Not As A Stranger was made into a major motion picture, with
Stanley Kramer in the directors chair and Robert
Mitchum and Frank Sinatra in lead roles. The movie was a box office hit but any lasting recognition
for Not As A Stranger or Thompson, for that matter, never materialized. Sadly, Thompsons death
in mid-1953 at age 46 closed the door tightly shut
on a literary career that held much promise and
produced one monumental work.
Gus Thomson is a reporter at Auburn Journal.

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December 9, 2016

A product of the Auburn Journal

By Morton Thompson

A product of the Auburn Journal

Morton Thompons turkey recipe promises a black skin and the best juicy meat.

down in a rack.
In a cup make a paste consisting of the
yolks of two eggs, a teaspoon of Colmans
mustard, a clove of minced garlic, a tablespoon of onion juice (run an onion through your
chopper and catch the juice), a half teaspoon of salt, two pinches of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and enough
sifted flour to make a stiff paste.Take a
pastry brush or an ordinary big paintbrush
and stand by.
Put your bird into the red-hot oven.Let
it brown all over. Remove the turkey. Turn
your oven down to 325 degrees. Now, while
the turkey is sizzling hot, paint it completely
all over with the paste.Put it back in the
oven.The paste will have set in a few
minutes. Drag it out again.
Paint every nook and cranny of it once
more.Put it back in the oven.Keep doing
this until you havent any more paste left.
To the giblet-neck-liver-heart gravy that
has been simmering add one cup of cider.
Dont let it cook any more.Stir it well. Keep
it warm on top of the oven.This is your
basting fluid.Baste the bird every fifteen
That means you will baste it from twelve
to fifteen times.After the bird has cooked
about an hour and a half turn it on its stomach, back in the air, and let it cook in that
position until the last fifteen minutes, when
you restore it to its back again. That is,

unless you use a rack. If you use a rack dont

turn it on its back until the last half hour.It
ought to cook at least four hours and a half to
five hours and a half.
When you remove it the turkey will be dead
black.You will think, My God! I have ruined

it. Be calm.Take a tweezer and pry loose the

paste coating. It will come off readily.Beneath
this burnt, harmless, now worthless shell the
bird will be golden and dark brown, succulent,
giddy-making with wild aromas, crisp and
crunchable and crackling. The meat beneath
this crazing panorama of lip-wetting skin will
be wet, juice will spurt from it in tiny fountains
high as the handle of the fork plunged into it;
the meat will be white, crammed with mocking
flavor, delirious with things that rush over your
palate and are drowned and gone as fast as
you can swallow; cut a little of it with a spoon,
it will spread on bread as eagerly and readily
as soft wurst.
You do not have to be a carver to eat this
turkey; speak harshly to it and it will fall apart.
This is the end of it.All but the dressing.No
pen, unless it were filled with Thompsons
gravy, can describe Thompsons dressing,
and there is not paper enough in the world to
contain the thoughts and adjectives it would
set down, and not marble enough to serve for
its monuments.

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Rub the bird inside and out with salt and

pepper. In a stewpan put the chopped gizzard
and the neck and heart, to which add one bay
leaf, one teaspoon of paprika, a half teaspoon
of coriander, a clove of garlic, four cups of
water, and salt to taste.Let this simmer while
you go ahead with the dressing.
Dice the apple, one orange, in a bowl
and add to this bowl a large can of crushed
pineapple, the grated rind of one half lemon,
one can of drained water chestnuts, three
tablespoons of chopped, preserved ginger.
In another bowl put two teaspoons of
Colmans mustard, two teaspoons of caraway seed, three teaspoons of celery seed,
two teaspoons of poppy seed, two and a
half teaspoons of oregano, one well-crushed
large bay leaf, one teaspoon black pepper,
one half teaspoon of mace, four tablespoons
of well-chopped parsley, four or five finely
minced cloves of garlic, four cloves, minus the
heads and well chopped, one half teaspoon
of turmeric, four large, well-chopped onions,
six well-chopped stalks of celery, one half
teaspoon marjoram, one half teaspoon savory
(summer savory if you can get it), and one
tablespoon of poultry seasoning. Some like
sage, some like thyme. Nobody, apparently,
objects to poultry seasoning, which, ironically,
contains both.Salt to taste.
In another bowl dump three packages of
bread crumbs, bought at a bakery. Add to this
three quarters of a pound of ground veal and
one quarter of a pound of ground fresh pork
and a quarter of a pound of butter and all the
fat (first rendered) you have been able to find
and pry loose from the turkey. Mix in each bowl
the contents of each bowl. When each bowl is
well mixed, mix the three of them together.And
mix it well.Mix it with your hands. Mix it until
your forearms and wrists ache.Then mix it
some more.
Now toss it enough so that it isnt any
longer a doughy mass.
Stuff your turkey, but not too full. Pretty full, though.Stuff the neck and tie the
end.Skewer the bird.Tie the strings.Turn on
your oven full force and let it get red hot. Put
your bird on the drip pan, or, best of all, breast

How to cook a turkey

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December 9, 2016

Gift Guide TWO 17

Memories of the pig who came to Christmas

nce upon
a time,
back in the
90s, my wife Paula decided
that we should become the
focal point of family unity.
So we invited my Mom and
Gordon Ainsleigh
my brother and his wife to
Christmas dinner.
And my sister-in-law (SIL) brought her pet pig.
When I opened the door, SIL walked in all smiles, and
behind her, carrying an open-faced blanket-lined box, like
a page carrying the queens crown, came my brother. And in
the box was SILs pot-bellied pig, sort of cute if you like the
way pigs look, and about the size of a medium-to-large cat.
She wants to keep her pig with her, Bro explained.
Trying to be accommodating, I reached out to pet the
pig. But when I touched her, she let out a series of squeals
that reminded me of a donkey braying, except that donkeys
seem happy enough when they bray, whereas this pig was
decidedly unhappy and didnt like being touched.
Little piggie quieted down in about 10 seconds, and
we sat down to appetizers, the pig either beside SIL or at
her feet. Friendly conversation ensued and the pig was
quiet. But I tend to be forgetful, as does my Mom, as does
my brother familial trait I suppose and every time
someone or something jostled the pig, it would go back to
its braying.
Nevertheless, we made it through wine and cheese,
Triscuits and Ak-Mak, adjourned to the kitchen-diner, and I
was able to negotiate putting the pig in a quiet nook where
she wouldnt be disturbed. That worked, and dinner went
well. Better yet, I managed to arrange for pig to stay in the
kitchen while we adjourned back to the living room.
I put in a videotape of an episode of Have Gun, Will
Travel, and we all went off into the world of Paladin, a
knight without armor in a savage land, the elegant charmer
in his fine white suit when he was escorting a pretty woman
home from the opera, interrupted briefly by the need to go
hand to hand with thugs, and then quoting Shakespeare as
he lamented his besmudged top hat.
Paladin was winning a big poker hand from a newspaper
publisher when we were taken aback by SILs voice, saying to
my brother, I want my pig.
He leaned forward to rise, but I put a hand on his arm
and said, Really, Id rather have the pig stay in the kitchen. My brother sagged back in his chair, and we went back
to San Franciscos Hotel Carlton, where he was scanning

18 Gift Guide TWO

newspapers from all over the west for news of desperate

people in desperate situations who might be in need of
Paladins special talents.
Tranquility reigned for a while, until we were jerked back
from Paladin by seriously authoritative voice: Mel, I thought
I told you to get my pig!
Again my brother leaned forward to rise, and again I laid
a restraining hand on his arm, saying, more firmly than before, Look, Id really prefer that the pig stay in the kitchen.
All went well until, abruptly, we were jerked back from
Paladin quoting U.S. Territorial Law to a mine owner who
thought he could do anything he pleased, by SIL saying,
more forcefully than ever, I told you to get my pig!
Once again, my brother leaned forward to rise, and once
again I laid a hand on his arm, and my words almost echoed
in the silence: Look! I may be mistaken, but I believe I still
own this house, and I want that pig to stay in the kitchen!
I felt for my brother, frozen except for his eyes glancing
nervously from left to right and left again, looking for the
world like a jackrabbit fleeing down a headlight-lit road in
the desert in the dead of night, trying to
decide between the overtaking vehicle and
leaping off into the
darkness where
everything stings,
bites or impales.
My dear brother
remained transfixed, a
quarter of the way out of his
chair, for about half a minute.
And then, with only the crackle of the
wood stove disturbing the smothering cloak of silence, he very slowly
and cautiously eased back in his
chair, and we were back with Paladin
transporting a gold-laden coffin, fighting for his life against the man who
wanted the gold, and whose body was
supposed to be in that coffin.
The pig remained in the kitchen
and the day finished with conviviality,
thanks to the fact that the woodpile
was big, the stove was hot, the wine
was good, the stream was moving
along nicely off the back deck,
and Paladin had explained to the
love-struck young farmer that
he had seen the look in the

December 9, 2016

eyes of the wealthy ranchers daughter, and it was time for

the young man to stop the range war by asking the beautiful
woman for her hand in marriage.
By the next Christmas, the pig had grown up into a decidedly unattractive 200-pound sow, had never lost her bad
attitude, and was finally given away to someone who wanted
to eat her. Paladin was still heeding the calling wind, far,
far from home, and California would somehow survive Gray
Davis, who was far too important to prosecute and imprison
for selling us out to Enron.
Gordon Ainsleigh resides in Meadow Vista, where he has a chiropractic practice. He is an endurance athlete and guest columnist for the

A product of the Auburn Journal

New car adventures at Christmas tree lot

tience had finally run out. He told us to get into the car NOW
and to be quiet. Back then, when Dad said NOW, it meant
I jumped into the back seat, on the drivers side, figuring
Id stay as far away from trouble as possible. Vonnie seldom
got to sit in the front seat so she jumped at the chance. Peggy
knew better and went for the back seat, too.
Dad lit up another Lucky, put the Ford into reverse, cut the
wheels, and gave her some gas. We moved a little and then
stopped. It felt like we were against a wall. Dad looked over
his shoulder. Nothing in the way. Ah, hell, whats going on
here? He gave it lots of gas.
I was in the back seat, on the left, when suddenly the arm
rest was trying to touch my leg. The Ford listed to the right
and groaned as if wed hit an iceberg. Dad, Dad, the door
is moving, its coming in. He got off the gas. Hed squeezed
into a narrow parking space, between a tarred telephone pole
on the left and another car on the right. Hed forgotten about
that pole in the darkness.
As he eased off the gas the door tried to return to its original place but it would never be the same and it would always
carry that heavy coat of tar within its big dent just to remind

t was almost
1951 and
our father
came home with a new
car. Dad was in the
Christmas spirit, and
wanted to help a friend
who was down on his
Don Tomich
luck, selling Christmas
trees in another town. My
younger sisters Peggy and Vonnie and I jumped at the chance
to ride in the new car. It was a long ride.
When we arrived the parking lot was full. We had to park
in a field. I remember the dark and bumpy approach as we
entered. Most of the lighting was over at the tree lot.
Dad parked with little concern and went off in search of
his friend. The three of us kids couldnt wait to run down the
aisles and hide amongst the trees.
Dad found a tree, paid his friend, and two guys carried it
out to the new Ford and tied it on the roof.
We were still running wild when Dad returned and his pa-

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him of what he had done.

When our Dad opened his door and saw what he had done
it was quite a shocker, even for a guy with his vocabulary. He
went nuclear, he scorched the earth. We shut our mouths and
looked straight ahead. Vonnie may have cried. Not a word was
spoken all the way home.
That dent stayed there until Dad traded the four door in
That night will always remain my very own Christmas Story. Our poor dad set out with three wild kids, trying to help
a friend, and returned with his new car dented and smeared
with tar. And then he had to explain it all to our mother.
We kids had a wonderful Christmas. Santa left us lots of
toys and gifts. And I dont think any of us gave a thought to
what our poor father had gone through that fateful night.
Im left with the memory of our dad, suffering the humiliation of denting his brand new car but still seeing to it, with
our mother, that we kids had a wonderful Christmas in the
midst of his own sorrow. For all his grief, he hadnt lost the
spirit of Christmas.
Dan Tomich is a guest columnist for the Journal.

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Gift Guide TWO 19

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December 9, 2016

A product of the Auburn Journal