The Jacksons – for Mar. 31, 2011

I can’t believe how cold it is.” Rose Jackson shivered as she climbed out of

“ I the truck and stepped onto the sidewalk

in front of the café. “It’s almost April for Pete’s sake.”

She hurried to the café door, which Andrew quickly opened for her so she could step inside. Once inside it took the two of them only a second to spot their friends Grant and Karen sitting at the table by the window. They headed over and exchanged greetings as they took off their coats and sat down.

“Isn’t it just ridiculously cold?” said Karen.

“I was just saying,” said Rose. “It’s got to be the coldest spring ever.”

“2004 was colder,” said Grant. “That’s the year my brother David got married. He and Susan were planning an outdoor ceremony on May 15. They figured it’d be warm enough by then, at least during the afternoons, but it just refused to warm up. Every night it’d go down to five or 10 below and some days it wouldn’t even get above freezing. And then, on May 12 we had a big snowstorm.” He paused. “So that was worse than this,” he added.

“I feel so much better,” said Rose. “Thanks, Grant, for those encouraging words.”

“It’s just weather,” said Andrew. “It’ll change soon enough.”

There was a pause as the four of them studied their menus for a few seconds.

“So, what’s new with you folks?” asked Rose, putting her menu down. Grant and Karen looked at each other and shrugged.

“Not much,” said Grant. “Life goes on.” “Long after the thrill of living is gone,”

said Andrew. “I just made that up,” he added. The others ignored him.

“Kendra has decided to go to University of Toronto after she graduates,” said Karen. “So we’re starting to prepare for the empty-nest syndrome. Even though it’s not till next year.”

“Nice,” said Andrew.

“That’s what I said,” said Grant. “Nice for you Grant,” said Rose. “But

what about for Karen?” Grant looked puzzled. “How is it different for

me than for Karen?” he wanted to know. Rose laughed. “Hey,” she said, “you’ll get

to spend every day just hanging out with Karen, while Karen is stuck every day just hanging out with you.”

“Zing,” said Andrew.

“That’s a good point,” said Grant. He pondered that for a moment. “Maybe we’ll have to get a dog,” he said.

“You already have a dog,” said Rose. “Spitz is not a dog,” said Andrew. “He’s

just a skunk-killing machine.” “Your dog’s name is Spitz?” said Andrew.

“What kind of a name is that for a dog?” “I don’t know,” said Grant. “We didn’t

name him. And like I said, he’s not a real dog. Real dogs, once they tangle with one skunk generally leave the next one alone, but Spitz kills every skunk that comes within a mile of the house. Which seems to be about six a year on average.”

“It’s true,” said Karen. “So even if he was a real dog, he wouldn’t be the kind of dog you’d want to have lying around on your couch.”

“I heard on the radio today,” said Andrew, “that people spend 50 per cent more money on themselves after their children leave home than they did before. So you should probably start saving up for that.”

“Fifty per cent of nothing isn’t a huge amount,” said Karen. “I have almost that much in my purse.”

“Yeah,” said Grant. “And I’m pretty sure we’ll still have at least that much when we finish paying Kendra’s tuition.”

“Jennifer wants to be a cowboy, thankfully,” said Rose. “Notwithstanding the gender discrepancy. She doesn’t think she needs to go to university to be a cowboy.”

“She should go to university anyway,” said Grant. “Maybe she could get a barrel-racing scholarship at the University of Texas.”

“She thinks she’s going to be a bull rider,” said Rose. “I said sure, go ahead, over my dead body.”

“She could get a masters degree in bull riding and a bachelor’s in barrel racing,” said Grant. “That way she’d have something to fall back on.”

“You can get a degree in bull riding from the University of Texas?” said Karen.

“You can get almost anything from the University of Texas,” said Andrew.

“Except for an education,” said Grant.

“Which brings me to what I always say,” said Andrew.

“And what do you always say?” asked


“Who needs and education,” said Andrew,

“if you’ve got a degree.”

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