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Holiday Travails and Holiday Travels

We're out of town, visiting Santa Maria's family in rural Pennsylvania. The trip is a welcome relief from the stress of our real-estate situation.

I haven't been cooking much while here. Santa Maria took charge yesterday and made seven (seven!) lasagnas. Some with meat, some without. Some without even cheese, to accommodate the needs of her emergency animal surgeon and animal rights activist sister-in-law. My brother-in-law is cooking tonight.

I've been getting lost in a Jack Higgins novel, "Thunder Point." Santa Maria's mother has stacks and stacks of paperback thrillers in her basement. The last time I visited I got hooked on Carl Hiaasen's "Stormy Weather." Let me just say what needs to be said. Higgins is no Hiaasen.

We took a fantastic trip this morning to ride on a horse-drawn sleigh. Santa Maria's mother arranged it with a local Amish farmer, proprietor of his domain and father of ten children, five of whom are still at home. He doesn't even have a telephone, and yet she made the plans. After crossing the snow-swept fields, he invited us into his house to warm up. The stove above is what his wife cooks on. It is also the only thing that heats his house.

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