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(Jim Horan - 1996) Copyright © All Rights Reserved.

Christmas is a joyful time....if you're a survivalist.

"Beeep" "Beeep" "Beep"

Oh no! This couldn't be happening, as we tried to focus on the clock, which was showing 2:00 a.m.. We had worked so hard to make this Xmas different.

Three years ago HE had shown HIS impatience for opening HIS presents, by clamping HIS fangs on our toes to awaken us. Luckily...actually by design, we live near an ER, where they were able to suture our slashed feet. For Valentines that year we gave each other Sorrel Boots with thick felt liners, to avoid a repeat of the incident. Within 4-5 months we had grown accustomed to a peaceful repose in the boots that were incorporated into our sleeping attire.

Two years ago HIS retaliation was to walk on our foreheads thus bringing us to an awakened state. The skull fractures were quickly set by our friends at the ER. For Valentines that year we gave each other official "NFL Helmets", which when the bandages were removed, were made an integral part of our bed wear.

Last year, HIS vengeance was exposed where upon HE flexed HIS claws and tramped across our eye lids. We still recall that rather vividly as it brought us to a quick and immediate visit with Jesus! Our dear friends at the ER do wonderful work in micro surgery. Unfortunately, the mix-up of my right eyelid with Dottie's left eyelid, was a small sacrifice, but still it would be nice for each of us to be able to close more than 1 1/2 eyes upon retiring. That Valentines, we gave each other Lexan face masks, heavily tinted, ala Jim McMahon.

All of this "defensive" bed clothing does dampen "intimacy", but it's a minor price to pay to be able to "survive".

Last night we had donned our gay apparel. Ma in her Sorrels, which I helped her lace as the palsy resulting from our "traditional" Thanksgiving, was still apparent. Me in my "Cowboys" Riddell cap. As we stood with our face masks raised, sipping our Thorazine cocktails, we gazed at what was Dottie's all time best in decorating of the Xmas tree. Finishing our vials, we clumped off to bed.

"Beeep" "Beeep" "Beeep"

It took but a few seconds to realize the sound came from a beeper that Dottie had given me as a "summons" should she experience a "flashback" of the TT (Thanksgiving Trauma). That damn CAT had dialed the number, after first stuffing the beeper under our pillows!

I flipped on the light as we both came upright. Slowly we lifted the tinted face masks, allowing a meager amount of light to penetrate, where upon HE bounded upon the bed, coming to a full and forceful "rest", face feet ward, a top Dottie's stomach. At that instant, total recall came to me as HIS "rocking" motion was most apparent. This activity generally results either in the expelling of a monster hair ball....if we're lucky, or as it was in this case, the expelling of a noxious wind from HIS southern port.

It was in that instant of "recall" and "action" that Dottie's safety was in doubt. The "recall" had it's origin, when I received a "page" from Nature an hour or so before. Returning to bed I had glanced into the living room to gaze again at our beautiful tree. Only, it wasn't a tree! It was a large stick, with some smaller sticks protruding outward! Not a single Pine needle remained! Still under the effects of our "cocktail", I immediately had concluded that this was a matter to be dealt with at another time and closed the distance back to my awaiting pillow. However, it did occur to me that perhaps it had not been the best of ideas to spray the tree with the scent "Smoked Halibut".

The "action" required a micro-second movement to simultaneously flip down both our face masks prior to the "event". All manner of quickness was required before the blast!

Laying stunned from both the sound and the actual concussion, I slowly lifted my mask to observe HIM with an insidious smirk, as HE peered toward the wall above our heads. As a small boy in Iowa during tornado season, we had learned of the effects of such forceful winds, seeing straw driven into fence posts. That understanding, coupled with the recognition of the indigestibility of Pine needles, had brought all senses to bear and forced me to comprehend the need for "action".

Sluggishly we brought our eyes to focus, and saw the wall. There embedded, were masses of Pine needles, protruding forth, forming the the letters ...     M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S ...!

A tear came to one each of our eyes. Dottie was so terribly touched by such tender Holiday salutations coming from HIM. While I had to admit a certain admiration for HIS creativity... and HIS correct spelling, it was difficult not to appreciate that HE had put us in another position of life threatening risk...just for the purpose of "expressing" HIMSELF.

Clumping to the kitchen to fix Dottie her OJ, it became apparent the need to give her a double dose of "meds". She would need all the fortification possible to enable a proper attitude for revisiting her "beautiful" tree. Thinking about it, I tilted the bottle upward and drained the remaining contents down my own gullet.

What the hell! Again we had survived and would for the first time in years be able to enjoy a Xmas Day without a visit to our now very close and dear friends at the ER. It would be a Merry Christmas.... maybe!

********** The Best of the Holidays to One and All **********