Cast of Characters

Audrey Thompson

Stung by “Mickey’s” statement that my newsletters are unlikely to be of interest to people who do not know my family and friends, my brother has proposed that I draw up the cast of characters. It is not clear what difference this will make, since Mickey’s point is not that readers cannot keep the massive cast of characters straight, but that people who do not know us intimately have no reason to read the stories in the first place. Even if other people did know my family and friends, Mickey says, they would have to know them in the same way that I know them, to want to read about any of them. He may have a point, but then again, it is not clear that knowing people better makes one want to read about them. It would be hard to come up with a list of, say, cement contractors about whom one yearns to know more.

Unpersuaded though I am of the utility of offering reluctant readers a list of characters, I nevertheless have agreed to produce such a list, mostly to keep my brother happy. He himself has provided a long, appreciative, albeit murky self-description, from which I quote selectively below. In the interests of brevity, I have not included Chuck’s entire self-description. My cutting out of many, many sections of his self-description has nothing to do with any hope I might have of indefinitely suppressing the evidence against Chuck. It is merely a question of brevity and general helpfulness.

This is not an exhaustive list of characters but does include most of the regulars. Characters are listed in order of argumentativeness. Ivan is annoyed that he is not at the top of the list, but there is not room for everyone at the top.

Mickey

“Mickey” is the pseudonym I have given to the friend who has advised me to discontinue my newsletters. His reasons for this may not be as innocent and dis- (not to say un-) interested as they appear. It may be that he has something to hide.

Wanted: Mickey

The Colonel

Grandpa was an Air Force Colonel who expected total obedience. When he told my cousin Jimmy and me this, we laughed and laughed, not realizing that it was not a joke. Although Grandpa laughed with us, he was astonished that we didn’t accept his authority as unquestionable. After all, he was a colonel. When Mom was little, he asked her, “Why can’t you call me ’Sir’ like the men do?” “Because you’re my daddy,” she explained. Grandpa liked to be in charge, though not at the expense of a good conversation. He loved to argue, frequently starting arguments for their own sake. He would tell one son-in-law that his car was no good because it was cheap and had no air conditioning and then tell the other son-in-law that his car was ridiculously expensive because it had air conditioning. A mixer, a storyteller, and an eccentric, Grandpa provided the basic mold for Mom, Chuck, and Tom.

Grampa Colonel and Joe E. Brown
Grampa and Joe E. Brown
Grampa and Grandma Colonel
Grampa and Grandma

Marian Thompson

Mom is the mother of Barbara, Chuck, and Audrey. She grew up Mormon but seems to have little if any grasp of Mormon beliefs. When, after moving to Salt Lake City, I questioned her about this, she at first denied being anything other than a fount of theological information. Eventually, however, she admitted to not remembering many details, despite having been regular in her attendance at church. She was surprised to learn things she’d never heard of before. “Is it possible that you weren’t listening when things were explained to you?” I asked. Upon reflection, she granted that this was possible. “I tend not to listen when things do not make sense,” she said. Lest this sound like the slur against the LDS Church that it was intended to be — Mom left the Church a year or two ago, ticked off when she learned from U.S. News and World Report that her kind are consigned to “Outer Darkness” after death — I should add that she also knows nothing about her new religion, Presbyterianism. She loves the minister of her church but does not hold out high hopes for the religion as a whole, or indeed for any religion. “I have never found a religion that agrees with me,” she announced recently. As there are also very few laws, policies, rules, or regulations that accord with her views, including health programs and medical guidelines, she has become adept at striking up acquaintances with those who can be manipulated into agreeing with her so that she can pretend to have taken their advice, such as doctors’ receptionists. If she wants to avoid a visit to the doctor’s office, she will tell the receptionist that she is a registered nurse and will be doing the necessary tests herself at home. Apparently, receptionists are invariably taken in by this ruse.

Tom and Marian Tom and Marian
Audrey, Barb, Marian, Chuck
Audrey, Barbie, Marian and Chuck

Marian and Annika
Marian and Annika

Chuck Thompson

Chuck prides himself on his ability to act as if he were normal. No one knows who it is that he thinks he has fooled so far. Speaking in the third person surreal, my brother explains that “Chuck has been able to set down his own concept of order, against that of the chaos of reality around him. Its anonymity he impresses with his own finely balanced pathos and its run-of-the-mill workings with a solipsistic verve. His aim is not to escape reality, nor indeed to suffer by renouncing it, but instead to make it tangible in a comprehensive sense.” Chuck does not speak Italian.

Ivan feeds Chuck Chuck with green hair
Chuck and Cousin Jimmy
Chuck and Jimmy


Chuck and Audrey
Chuck and Audrey

Charles (“Tom”) Thompson

Unlike much of my family, Dad strongly believes in the value of rules and regulations, provided that they do not require any sort of dieting. He does not take his dad status lightly and has offered fatherly advice to many people who are not his children. It is true that he has never gone as far as Frank’s dad, George Margonis, did. Upon meeting my parents for the first time, George urged them strongly to move to Colorado, since he and Esther were about to do so. But while stopping short of trying to get people to move to wherever he happened to live, Dad has usually been quite ready to tell them how to live. Thus, Mom finds Dad peering over her shoulder while she is cooking (she has since given up cooking); strangers in airports are given advice about stock investments; churchgoers who fail to sing at the appropriate times are given musical ultimatums; and newly met boyfriends of daughters are given extensive instructions on life. Joe is the only person known to have obeyed any of these rules. When Dad met Joe, he told him that he wanted him up at 5:00 the next morning, chopping wood. Joe got up at 6:00 the next morning, feeling guilty for having slept in, and started chopping wood. Mom heard him outside and came out to see what on earth he was doing. She made him stop. If everyone did what Dad said, there would be no peace.

Audrey, Tom and Chuck
Audrey, Tom and Chuck

Tom and Audrey
Tom and Audrey
Tom feeding birds
Tom and Tommy Tom and Tommy

Ivan Van Laningham

The first thing Ivan did was look at this list and argue with the order in which it was set out. I intended to threaten him that if he was going to argue he might find himself relocated at the top of the list, but it turned out that this was what he wanted all along. Among the things about which Ivan is knowledgeable are outdated calendars, Mayan glyphs, computers, Japanese movies, Lego, cooking, and Land Rovers. Among the things about which he is not knowledgeable are medical procedures, math, and Frank Sinatra. I told Barb that Ivan hated math in school, but that when he discovered that he needed to know math for computer programming and for calculating the ancient Mayan calender, he started teaching himself math. “And now he loves it?” said Barb. “No,” I said. “You mean he still hates it?” she demanded. “Pretty much,” I agreed. “I thought that this story was going to have a happy ending,” she said. “No,” I told her, “it doesn’t. Not if a happy ending has to mean that he likes math.” When Ivan read this paragraph, he denied that he hated math, and added broodingly that it was all Miss Sommerfield’s fault that he does. I may have to move him up the list.

Naomi and Ivan

Ivan and Ketzela
Naomi and Ivan


Ivan

Ivan and Ketzela

Marty-Bob

Marty-Bob is the fictional alter-ego of Marty Shafer. While it is not true that he uses Bryan’s grant money for buying pink mixers, Marty is by no means above suspicion. I suspect him of giving Bryan the best access to grant applications, the best gossip, and certainly all the best candy from the so-called communal Halloween candy bowl.

Marty Marty

Olin Bernal Villalpando and Quanah Parker Warriner Brayboy

Olin is the non-Norwegian son of Octavio and Dolores; Quanah is Doris and Bryan’s son. Although Quanah is also not Norwegian, it has usually not been necessary to point that out. Few people have mistaken “Quanah” for an old Viking name. While still in the process of making their preferences known, at present Olin and Quanah show strong favoritism towards girls and men, casting a suspicious eye upon women who are not their mothers and grandmothers. They appear to be particularly skeptical regarding women who are philosophers. I blame Bryan for that. I suspect him of telling them, “You may not be aware of this, but no philosopher has ever won the Spindler Award. Anthropologists are, by and large, your Spindler Award winners. Donna has won the Spindler Award. She is not a philosopher. I think you are safe with women who are anthropologists, but I know of no redeeming qualities among women who are philosophers.” Quanah and Olin adore Bryan and have already given him their own private Spindler Award. This unfair favoritism has been duly noted.

Quanah and Olin
Quanah and Olin
This picture Copyright © 2002 Doris Warriner
Olin using power tools
Olin using his power tools
on Rudolph’s antlers

Kaarin Thompson

Kaarin lives in a very different world from the one that you and I live in, even if you happen to live in Portland. For one thing, she lives with Chuck. For another, she lives with Sneetchy. But even before she knew Chuck and Sneetchy, her world was not yours or mine. When Kaarin worked at an advertising agency in Chicago, she wore pyjamas to the office — very professional-looking ones, she assures me. She did her job well and the customers never minded her outfits, she says. The only annoying thing was that people on the bus would stare at her bathrobe and slippers, as if they had never seen bathrobes and slippers before; people can be so set in their ways. Not long ago, Kaarin offered me some fashion advice of my own. If I were to collect business cards from friends and strangers, she said, before long I would have enough cards to hinge together into a kind of cape that I could wear to conferences. I would have to turn all the business cards inside-out, she stressed, since it is vulgar to wear labels on the outside of one’s clothing. Ivan has argued with this paragraph as well, pointing out that Japanese business cards are always two-sided — printed in Japanese on one side and English on the other. You really cannot blame Kaarin for not having taken this into account; Ivan is just being argumentative.

Kaarin

William Smith

William earned his Ph.D. at the well-known and highly regarded department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His wife, Paula, was a psychology student and amateur athlete as an undergraduate at Cornell, and later got her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago. William denies the athlete part of this statement. There are no athletes at Cornell, he says. No one knows where he got his information but no one argues with him because he might make fun of our athleticism next. (I am a runner, myself. Even William admits this. He has seen me running through the halls and speed-walking across campus; he knows Big Ten speed when he sees it. I developed my walking rhythms during my first semester at UIUC, racing to an 8:00 a.m. math class from the far end of campus. Campuses on the east coast, since they lack cornfields as part of the campus layout, do not provide the same inherent cross-country training as do Big Ten campuses.) William complains when he appears in my photographs and then again when he does not appear in them.

Richard and William
Richard Lofton and William Smith
William and Donna William

Bryan Brayboy

When students in Bryan’s American Indian Studies course inform him that they were Zuni princesses in a former life, he enthusiastically schedules them to give a lecture on Zuni history. Not being Zuni himself, Bryan explains, and, furthermore, having a hard time remembering what happened to him yesterday, let alone three hundred years ago, he will rely on their firsthand insights. That is all very well, but you notice that the whole point is that it gets him out of doing work. If Bryan is going to shove off his lecturing duties on people who, through no fault of their own, happen to have been princesses in a former life, it is not surprising that they drop his courses. Incidentally, Bryan earned his Ph.D. somewhere on the east coast. Although it was not a school where there are any Big Ten athletes, I am sure that, in its own way, it is a very good school. Bryan is the husband of Doris and the father of Quanah. He has known them for less than ten years.

Bryan, Quanah, Troy, Giancarlo
Bryan and Quanah, Troy Richardson and Giancarlo
Bryan and Donna
Bryan with Spindler Award winner
Bryan and Olin
Bryan telling secrets to Olin
Bryan
Bryan pretending to work (notice the full calendar)

Trillin

Trillin is nineteen and has known Ivan and me for almost the whole of this life. We are not sure which life she is on. Trillin used to sleep on top of Ivan’s head, till he got allergic. She is extremely chatty and has a special chair for chatting from. When we first got her chair, Don Hanrahan said, “I know what this is for. This is a chair for someone to sit on and chat from while you guys cook.” Ketzela took it over and refused to chat from it, but when Trillin inherited it (it always belongs to the oldest cat: cat house rules), she used it almost exclusively for chatting. Sometimes it is also used for yelling from.

Trillin Trillin

Frank Margonis

Frank is a skeptic. When he saw me wearing a new winter jacket recently, he asked me, “Where did you get that?” and when I said, “I bought it,” he asked, “With or without help?” Evidently he thinks that such shopping is well beyond my reach, although all I did was order from a catalogue. This does not seem to me the kind of thing that one needs proof of having done all by oneself. It is strange that Frank regards with such a jaundiced eye the Thompsonian preoccupation with being or at least seeming normal, a state of being he says that we would not recognize in a million years. Frank is not notably normal himself. Still, this does not seem to bother him. He admits it freely. Accordingly, it is very difficult to unsettle him. He is a philosopher and feels that this entitles him to disregard the hard facts of life in which some of the rest of us specialize. Frank is married to Donna and has 20% responsibility for Ponty.

Larry and Frank Larry and Frank

Larry Parker and Frank Margonis

Donna Deyhle

In the past, when I have catsat Ponty while Donna and Frank were out of town, I have sometimes acted as Ponty’s amanuensis and recorded his personal diaries. Donna feels that these diaries should be published. Whereas she recognizes that newsletters about my family and friends, including those about her and Frank, appeal to only a very limited audience, she is certain that Ponty’s published diaries would top the bestseller list. When queried as to the possibility of maternal bias in this regard, Donna has reluctantly acknowledged some degree of prejudice, but contends that her intuition of bestsellerdom is basically objective. Ponty, who does not read, refuses to comment. He doubts that words would do justice to his beauty. Tellingly, however, his own diaries comment on it, noting that “I think that this new servant wants to be near my body.”

Donna bubbling over Donna

Joe Gilray

Winner of the coveted “It’s/Its Award for Excellence in the Use of Apostrophes,” Joe is the husband of co-winner Barb and father of (sad to say, non-winners) Tom and Annika. Joe is a good person to sit next to in a movie theater, if the other people with you happen to be Barb and Ivan and the movie is soppy. Ivan and Barb are very sentimental. Even if they realize that a movie is terrible, if it is a love story they will weep copiously. The Competition is a terrible movie, and they wept throughout it. It was all about thoroughly dislikable people playing music and falling in love. At one point in the movie two of the dislikable people ran towards one another across a park in slow motion (or something like that; I have almost succeeded in blocking this movie from my memory); Joe leaned over and whispered, “Where’s the orchestra when you need it?” It is good to have a cynic around at times like that. The fact that Joe has no power tools is not his father-in-law’s fault.

Joe Joe and Tommy
Joe with Tommy

Tom Gilray

When his mother told Tom, “you are a stubborn person,” a light went off for him. “It’s true,” he said thoughtfully. “I am a stubborn person.” Barbara thought that that might make him less stubborn, but it didn’t. He took it not in the spirit of corrective complaint but more in the nature of helpful clarification of underlying realities. When Barbara complained that Tom’s motto for school work seemed to be “good enough,” as in, “No need to knock myself out,” he was equally pleased. For years, he drew upon this explanation to illuminate his personal philosophy. After he entered middle school, though, he moved away from this self-description. He had decided to become a physicist and few physicists get their Ph.D.s on the “good enough” program. While now working hard at academics, Tom is still willing to maintain his good-enough identity when it comes to keyboard practice. Last time I was in Corvallis, I heard four hundred missed-note renderings of the first four bars of “Chopsticks.” A boy genius cannot always be expected to keep his mind on lower things. If you ask him to take out the garbage, he may agree to do so, but it pays to check whether he has actually done it. He is inclined to think that if he said he would do it, then he must have done it. In fact, he will insist. When you point out the brimming garbage can, he will do an amazed double take, saying, “What the . . . ?!” like Tintin with a “?!” balloon over his head. This is not the first time that we have had cartoon characters in our very own family.

Tommy eating cereal Tommy and Annika
Barb and Tommy Tommy

Annika Gilray

A faultless photographer of faintly criminal subjects and, by her own not entirely reliable account, an almost flawless speller, Annika is very good at crafts, cleaning up, and keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of political corruption. If she got these qualities from one of her aunts, I am not that aunt. What she did get from me, or maybe from Ivan, is a need to own lots and lots of books. Where she differs from Ivan is in the ability to spell “fault” and “Nahuatl” correctly. Ivan has a sterling record on both scores; Annika’s record is sadly marred. Admittedly, it may be that she does not find as many occasions to write “Nahuatl” as Ivan does, but she could make more occasions. Ivan plans for Annika to be an engineer. He has not bothered to consult her on this question because it is obvious to him that this is her destiny. She is a girl genius. Personally, I can’t see why she can’t be a genius plumber. What we could really use around here is a live-in plumber. I have not actually checked with her whether she would want to live in, but, assuming that she does, it would be handy to have a really first-rate plumber ready to hand. I suppose that handiness is not everything, however. No one considers it especially or even at all handy to have a philosopher right there in the next room, and yet there I am. Needless to say, we do not bother to consult Tom or Annika or their parents regarding our career plans for them. We dislike the idea that they might disagree with us.

Annika Annika and Audrey
Annika

Barbara Thompson

When my sister was three, she ran away from home. She managed to get about four blocks from home before Mom intercepted her at the bus stop. Since that time, Barbara has gone on many, many ship cruises. This is not a non sequitur. I am trying to make a point here. Ships are the single most effective way to sink while traveling, and I blame Mom for Barbara’s infatuation with dangerous travel. If Barb had been allowed to take that one bus trip, I think she would have found it a perfectly satisfactory way to travel. Instead, she has found more reckless ways to travel that will worry her poor family even more. Of course, she always takes her immediate family with her, so now we have to worry about Joe, Tom, and Annika drowning, too. Whereas it is very rare that Ivan or I cause anyone a moment’s anxiety, worrying about Barbara is practically a non-stop way of life. Barbara is a many-time winner of the “It’s/Its Award for Excellence in the Use of Apostrophes” (admittedly, the competition is slim); this is all very well, but it is not something to cling to when the ship is going down. If one were not on a ship in the first place, however, one would be that much further ahead in life.

Barbie running away
Reasons to run away
Joe and Barb cruising
Joe and Barb risk drowning on the high seas
Barb and Annika
Barb and Annika
Barb and Tommy
Barb and Tommy

Rick Silverman

Rick is a Thompson out-law, meaning that he is married to Phyllis. He thus gains notoriety at one or two removes. We are not really counting the number of removes, however. Anyone who wants to be affiliated with the Thompsons and who is a living, breathing human being (as opposed to a stuffed animal, naming no names) is more than welcome; he is not required to be legally or illegally related to us. Still, being an out-law is a distinctive position and I do not mean to suggest otherwise. It is a very, very important position and Rick is to be congratulated.

Rick and Phyl Rick and Phyl

Phyllis Thompson

As a former in-law of the Thompson family, and its most stable current member, Phyllis is the only person we know who is able to pull off seeming normal while being in some ways rather eccentric. When she explains the things that she plans to do or has done, they appear quite reasonable-sounding. For example, if Phyl were to explain why she keeps a baby doll’s head in the sink, you would come away saying, “Yes, I see. Now it all makes sense.” Although normal people never seem to find themselves needing to give reasonable-sounding explanations for this sort of thing, Phyl is really very much like you or me in other respects. She keeps all of the clothes and papers that she no longer has any use for but can’t bear to part with in boxes in the garage, which is damp because it is in Oregon. “What is the point of keeping stuff you don’t want in the garage?” asks Rick. “Are we just supposed to wait till everything turns moldy and then throw it out?” It is surprising that he has to ask. Naturally that is Phyl’s plan. It is just the same as other people keeping their past-date lettuce and grapefruit in the fridge till they get really slimy and only then throwing them out. That is almost the definition of normalcy. Phyllis travels widely and can fit more news on a postcard from Paris than some people can fit into a ten-page newsletter.

Audrey, Barb, Phyl
Audrey, Barbara and Phyllis
Marian, Phyl, Tom
Marian, Phyl and Tom
Phyl, Audrey, Ivan

Octavio Villalpando

When Octavio heard that Frank had called all academics except Ed neurotic, he did not take offense. He did not say, “What does Frank mean by calling me neurotic?” What he said was, “What makes Ed any different from the rest of us?” Octavio owns one power tool that his father-in-law gave him, but he has never used it. “What kind of tool is it?” Ivan asked him. “I don’t know,” said Octavio. “What color is it?” asked Ivan. “I’m not sure. I’ve never taken it out of the box,” said Octavio. The next day, I was talking with Ed, who asked me, “Why don’t Ivan and Bryan shop together, since they both love to shop?” “Because Bryan is shopping for French cuff shirts and cuff links and Ivan is shopping for motherboards and power tools,” I said. “Oh, power tools,” said Ed. “I love those! They are so colorful and they glisten!” This may or may not help to explain what makes Ed different from Octavio, but it definitely explains something about something.

Octavio, Donna, Izel
Octavio and Donna with Izel
Dolores, Izel, Octavio
Dolores, Izel and Octavio

Dolores Delgado Bernal

Dolores has told me some extremely interesting stories about how Octavio tricked her into dating him. These are complicated, involved stories, but I sense that they are completely true. Ivan also tricked me into dating him. You find yourself dating this smart, nice, good-looking, interesting guy who is fun to be with and has the right politics and you have no idea how you got there, because the last thing you knew, you had said no, you couldn’t go to the movies/Mexico/Mervyns with him, and yet there you are. Tricked into it. I know just how that goes. But to get to the main thing I wanted to say: Dolores has lovely Sugilite earrings and a beautiful Sugilite ring, but no Sugilite pendant or necklace to go with them. If you are thinking that this looks like a product placement ad, or rather the “presence of an absent product” ad, you are right. Dolores paid me to mention the Sugilite necklace, to give Octavio ideas. But it was not the money that motivated me. It was the fact that her claim about not having a Sugilite necklace represented actual data. These newsletters are nothing if not data-driven.

Sandra, Savina, Dolores
Sandra, Savina and Dolores
Sofia, Izel, Dolores
Sofia Villenas with Izel and Dolores

Doris Warriner

When Doris married Bryan, he took over her chocolate chip cookie recipe and started making the cookies himself. Now he claims to do half the cooking in the house. This is one of the dangers in setting up household together. It is why William refuses to give Paula his two prized recipes. “She would take them and ruin them,” he says. “I have to do practically all the cooking.” William cooks on Wednesday nights, so you can see how exhausting that is. My father used to claim that, if he made the gravy, it was the same as cooking the whole meal. Now he has stolen all of Mom’s recipes. On the other hand, now he also does all of the cooking. When Ivan and I got married, Ivan stole my cream cheese and black olive spread recipe and then claimed to have invented it from scratch. “Ivan, that is not your recipe, that is my recipe,” I said, although actually I got it from my Aunt Carol. “You’ll say anything!” I complained. “You’ll say anything,” said Ivan. This is the kind of witty repartee you can find at any time of the day or night in our house. It is too bad that you don’t live with us so that you could hear it for yourself. Doris does not live with us, possibly because she and Bryan have their own witty repartee. Doris refuses to let Bryan have any power tools. Normally I never take sides, but I am taking Doris’s side on this one. It is dangerous for Bryan to use the blender, let alone a sawzall.

Doris

Teddy

Teddy is a convert to Buddhism, though only as far as other cats and birds are concerned. He makes an exception for mice. It is kind of like how some vegetarians eat seafood even though it is perfectly obvious that fish is not a vegetable. Teddy is very live-and-let-live unless you are a mouse.

Teddy

Harley

Harley is afraid of grass, doorbells, dogs, vacuums, ironing boards, phones, and water. She loves newspapers, Trillin, empty boxes, cat brushes, and Teddy’s food. When she forgets where her food bowl is, she wails pitifully. She never forgets where Teddy’s bowl is.

Harley and Lego® Harley

Audrey Thompson

Audrey is an innocent bystander. She is merely a recorder of events; it is not her fault if — well, if anything. It is just not her fault, that’s all.

Audrey Audrey and Tim
Audrey with Tim Clancy

Ed, Sandra, and those cute Buendía girls, Savina and Briana

Some years ago, when Savina and Briana Buendía were little, I sat down between them at lunch. “Well!” said Savina in congratulatory tones, “you get to sit next to those cute Buendía girls!” They are still those cute Buendía girls, outranking even Bryan in the sights of Olin and Quanah. Olin, who is a little over two, and Quanah, who is just past one, look upon them as goddesses. Only Atzin has the same mesmerizing power over them. Sandra and Ed are very cute, too, but they are not girls, so Quanah and Olin are not nearly as interested in them as in their daughters. Lucky for them that they are not philosophers is all I can say.

Briana Briana and Savina Savina
Briana and Olin
Briana and Olin

Savina and Izel
Savina and Izel
Ed
Ed
Sandra
Sandra

Izel Bernal Villalpando

Izel is Olin’s little brother. He is very open-minded, allowing both philosophers and anthropologists to hold him without prejudice. Whereas the Viking pronunciation of “Izel” is “EYE-zul,” the Nahuatl pronunciation is “ee-SEL.”

Izel and Donna
Izel and anthropologist
Izel and Audrey
Izel and philosopher

Woody Dyke

Woody is the angelic golden retriever who lives next door with Kanyon, Rayn, Raegan, and Glenn. He is a very good friend of mine, in spots. It depends on whether his front door is open so that he can go inside and also on whether I have one of the Buendías’ used tennis balls to give him. Sometimes Ivan, who is not allowed to buy toys for the cats because they pointedly ignore them, buys Woody tennis balls at Petsmart. The tennis balls are always gone by the next day, so then Ivan has to buy new ones. This does not bother Ivan, who has no objections to buying multiple items of the same description. Reading one of my stories, the Dykes were surprised and pleased to learn that I considered them normal. Raegan commented on it later. “We had no idea,” she said. “Yes, you are just like me in that way,” I observed. There was a pause. “I see,” said Raegan.

Ivan and Woody
Ivan and Woody

Rayn, Raegan,
Kanyon and Glenn
with Woody
Rayn, Raegan, Kanyon, Glenn, Woody

Sneetchy

The less said about Sneetchy, the better. Sneetchy is a sock monkey. Kaarin and Chuck view him as an intimate and integral member of the family, but relations with the rest of the family are formal and strained.

Sneetchy takes a nap
This photo copyright © 2002 Charles E. Thompson III

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