Monday, March 30, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Easter Miracle, Part 5

Note: The beginning of this month, I started writing a real-time, serialized story featuring Kiki Lowenstein. That was so much fun that I've decided to do another. This one features Kiki's friend Cara Mia Delgatto. I hope you'll tell a friend about these blog posts!


To read Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 scroll down your computer screen to the OLDER POSTS button.
 
I grabbed the telephone and answered with my usual, "The Treasure Chest, Cara speaking."
 
But before I could even collect my thoughts, Skye began talking a mile a minute. "I have a great idea. Half the time it rains on Easter Sunday. Why not have an indoor Easter party and make it kid friendly? I bet there's a fifty-fifty chance that no one will be looking for eggs at the park. Even if they do, we can still offer activities for the kids. I have a perfect one. Did you ever plant seeds in eggshells?"
 
I nodded even though she couldn't see me. 

 
 
"We can have the kids do that. And in cans. And then remind them about recycling. How fun would that be?"
 
Mainly I had visions of dirt all over the floors, but Skye's enthusiasm knew no bounds. "Terrific," I said. "Can you save eggshells and egg cartons from the deli? Cans, too?"
 
"Already started. By the way, I'll bring you dinner if you'd like, but I'm not coming straight home. I've decided to paint my bathroom periwinkle blue. You know that I've been lusting after that color for weeks. Tonight's the night. I plan to start taping and removing the socket plates."
 
That made me chuckle. While I've never started decorating the apartment upstairs, that's all Skye does. Decorate and redecorate. Recently she found a garden bench by the side of the road. The piece had obviously rotted through. But the back was intact, and the design of a Grecian key intrigued her. She hauled it back to the store, cleaned it, and spray painted it an antique beaten gold. Now she was eager to put it up on a wall in her bathroom. When she was done, it would look fabulous. In part because she'd also stenciled a similar geometric pattern onto a plain white shower curtain. Waiting in the wings were new white towels. Onto these she planned to sew a simple gold braid. At the rate she was going, we needed to have an open house just for Skye's apartment. Honest to Pete, what that girl could do with no money and a lot of imagination was simply outstanding.
 
When I got off the phone, Sid came up from the back. He was walking along side a battered girl's bicycle. "Look what I found at the bike shop. They were planning to give it away," he said. As he spoke, his chest puffed out with pride. Since coming to work for me, he's been bitten by the recycling bug. "I couldn't let this go into a landfill. Isn't there something you can do with it, Cara?"
 
Coming out from behind the cash station, I knelt by the bike. The old paint had been a garish purple. It was flaking and chipped. But the bike had good bones, as they say. "Would you mind sanding it off for me?" I asked.
 
"Sure," said Sid. "I'll get started right away.
 
"Um, that reminds me. Any way I could talk you into dressing like the Easter Bunny?"
 
He stared at me for a very, very long time. "You're kidding. Right? Me? An Easter Bunny? Do I have to wear, like, one of those fuzzy bunny suits?"
 
"No. You could just take out the piercings and put on a hat with rabbit ears. Maybe add a cotton tail and a bow tie. Please?" I hesitated and then I brought out the big guns. "I'll make you an entire pan of lasagna that's all yours. And a loaf of chocolate chip banana walnut bread."
 
"Sold!" and he wheeled the bike back toward the work room.
 

~ To be continued ~
 
If you like this, please consider signing up to follow my blog. Also, you'll want to sign up for my newsletter so you'll know about upcoming serialized short stories. And finally, please consider "liking" my Facebook page. http://www.Facebook.com/joannacampbellslan

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Easter Miracle, Part 4


Note: The beginning of this month, I started writing a real-time, serialized story featuring Kiki Lowenstein. That was so much fun that I've decided to do another. This one features Kiki's friend Cara Mia Delgatto. I hope you'll tell a friend about these blog posts!


To read Parts 1, 2, and 3, scroll down your computer screen to the OLDER POSTS button.

I raced to the source of the loud crash. There on the floor in a million pieces was a vase that Skye Blue had covered with sea glass. Sitting on the display shelf was a totally calm Luna, my black cat. As I shook my finger at her to scold her, she began to lick her paw.

"That cat," sighed Honora, coming up behind me. "She's a stinker."

Francine Gainer joined us. "My two cats are always into something. Last week Herman jumped into the hanging Boston fern basket. It crashed down into my coffee table and broke the glass. Juniper clawed her way up the curtains in the living room. The rod came loose and the whole shebang hit the floor, knocking over a silk flower arrangement. Before I could get to the mess, Herman shredded many of the flowers."

I reached for Luna and lifted her into my arms. She purred and rubbed her whiskers against my face. I couldn't stay mad.

"I heard that you are moving into that house your grandfather owns on the island. We'll be neighbors," said Francine. "You'll have to come visit. Maybe you can even stop by before my cats finish their redecorating!"

"That's a kind invitation. As for moving, well, I'm waiting until the septic tank is cleaned and the bug inspector finishes up. But I'm eager to get into the house. I love the beach, and Jupiter Island is so quiet and peaceful."

Francine nodded. "Honora? Are you going to be able to help me?"

"I'll need a deposit." My friend scribbled numbers on a pad she pulled from the pocket of her dress. "This should do it."

"No problem." Francine handed me her credit card and the paper Honora had done her calculations on. The figure choked me; it was that large. But Honora knew her clientele and her business, so I dutifully rang it up and thanked Francine Gainer. Who in turn, thanked me as she handed the velvet covered jewelry box to Honora for safekeeping.  "You don't know what this means. I'll be able to rest easy at night, because at least I've done something to help our darling Dahlia."

After the front door closed behind her, I turned to Honora and asked, "Are you really going to be able to pull this off?"

In response, Honora took off her glasses and began to polish them thoughtfully. "I believe so. Remember, I found those bird cages at Home Goods. I'll buy five of them. Three for the granddaughters. I have a scene in mind. One of someone dying Easter Eggs in a kitchen. The tables will be easy to make. I have a half dozen small hutches I've been hoarding from Michaels. For chairs, we can use ready made items. I'll paint them and get EveLynn to whip up tie on cushions."

I gave a low whistle of approval. "Gee. You've got this all figured out."

She smiled. "Not really. But this isn't my first special order. And I hope it isn't my last."

I handed her the keys to my car, since she usually gets dropped off by EveLynn. As she collected her purse and worked on a shopping list, I went back to Pinterest, hoping to find Easter inspiration. But I didn't get very far when the phone rang.


~ To be continued ~
 
If you like this, please consider signing up to follow my blog. Also, you'll want to sign up for my newsletter so you'll know about upcoming serialized short stories. And finally, please consider "liking" my Facebook page. http://www.Facebook.com/joannacampbellslan

 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Easter Miracle, Part 3

 Note: The beginning of this month, I started writing a real-time, serialized story featuring Kiki Lowenstein. That was so much fun that I've decided to do another. This one features Kiki's friend Cara Mia Delgatto. I hope you'll tell a friend about these blog posts!

To read Parts 1 and 2, scroll down your computer screen to the OLDER POSTS button.
 
"I know it's last minute," said Francine, while drying her eyes, "but I thought I'd ask anyway. Honora? Do you remember that adorable room box you made for my husband when he retired?"
 
My friend nodded vigorously. "Yes, of course. I put all his favorite things inside. The statue of his Black Lab, Rover. The bookshelves were filled with books representing his legal library. A painting of St. Andrews, the golf course in Scotland. I added an hourglass and an orrery because he loved nautical equipment."
 
"Yes, and he loved that scene so much. So does Dahlia. In fact, Durwood had promised her that someday she'd have a room box of her own, too. Of course, when her sisters Daisy and Delphie heard, they said they wanted room boxes as well. Truth to tell, I'd forgotten the matter entirely. But I was hoping that perhaps you could do something, uh, small. For Easter. Could you, Honora? I have some trinkets to get you started."
 
Now calling miniatures "trinkets" is the best way I know to make Honora peevish. But to her credit, she ignored the slight. After all, Mrs. Gainer wasn't herself. She wasn't thinking clearly. Who waltzes into a shop three weeks before Easter and expects a scale miniaturist, an artist like Honora, to whip up a room box? Let alone three of them? I've seen Honora at work, and it takes my friend this side of forever to get one of her creations done. The one inch to a foot scale is very exasperating. I don't know where she finds the patience.
 
"Show me, please," said Honora, even though I was ready to open my mouth and tell Mrs. Gainer she was asking the impossible.
 
Our customer set her purse down on the counter of the cash station. From inside its leather walls, she withdrew a small velvet jewelry box. Opening it with great care, she said, "Durwood was making these for our granddaughters. One for each girl. He'd been reading about the Faberge eggs created for the Imperial Family of Russia, and it got him totally inspired."  
 
Nestled in black satin were three tiny jeweled eggs.
 
"Polymer clay?" asked Honora.
 
"I don't think so. Durwood wouldn't tell me. He said it was a secret. I do know that they are fragile." Using both hands, she clicked the box shut. "Could you do this, Honora? I can't give one room box to one granddaughter and ignore the other two. Dahlia is hurting so much. Showing her something her grandfather left behind would mean the world to her!"
 
I was about to tell Mrs. Gainer no, to explain that we had too much to do to get ready for Easter when suddenly we were all surprised by a loud CRASH that came from my back room.
 
~ To be continued ~
 
If you like this, please consider signing up to follow my blog. Also, you'll want to sign up for my newsletter so you'll know about upcoming serialized short stories. And finally, please consider "liking" my Facebook page. http://www.Facebook.com/joannacampbellslan
 
 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Easter Miracle, Part 2


Note: The beginning of this month, I started writing a real-time, serialized story featuring Kiki Lowenstein. That was so much fun that I've decided to do another. This one features Kiki's friend Cara Mia Delgatto. I hope you'll tell a friend about these blog posts!

To read Part 1, scroll down your computer scene to the OLDER POSTS button.
 
Skye left at eleven to work a shift at Pumpernickel's, the deli across the street. MJ rapped on my doorframe. "I'm leaving. There's an estate agent down in West Palm who thinks she has two Highwayman paintings on her hands. She doesn't want to undervalue them, so I said I'd take a look."
 
"You planning to buy them for the store?"
 
"Only if the price is right. Or if they'll let them hang here on consignment." She paused and cocked her head as she considered this. "What if we had a showing of our paintings? That would generate interest in the store and in our inventory. We might even be able to cajole one of the Highwayman painters to come and visit with the crowd."
 
That got me excited. "Sounds super. At least for adults. Since people would be dressed up for Easter Sunday, we could make it a fancy tea. Maybe people would swing by after church services."
 
Honora overheard us. She eased into the space next to MJ. "Except that won't help with sales leading up to Easter. We need merchandise that grandparents would ship north. Stuff for the kids who come down to visit for Easter. Things that need to move right now."
 
"But the Highwayman exhibition is still a good idea," I argued.
 
MJ raised an eyebrow at Honora, who nodded her agreement. "I'm just pointing out, Cara, darling, that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket."
 
Now Sid stuck his head between Honora and MJ's faces. "Put all her eggs in one basket? An Easter Basket I assume? That's so funny!" His giggle was infectious. Soon all four of us were laughing and wiping our eyes. MJ gave me a toodles gesture with her fingers and headed for the back door.
 
Revived by the laughter, I decided to scan Pinterest for new ideas. Surely we could come up with something that was recycled, upcycled, or repurposed just in time for Easter. While I flipped from one board to another, Luna wove her way in figure-eights around my ankles. Finally, I picked her up and gave her a cuddle. Since I've adopted her, she's slowly become more and more affectionate. Of course, Jack, my rescue Chihuahua felt left out. Soon I had two animals curled up on my lap while I took notes about Pinterest ideas we could adopt, adapt, or use as inspiration for Easter products. I had just turned the page on my yellow legal pad when the door minder rang. Knowing that Honora is a bit hard of hearing, and that Sid sometimes scares people with his multiple piercings, I quickly removed my pets and got up to greet a customer.

"Is Honora here? I heard she works here. I need her help. Please? Is she here?" The woman fanned herself as she tried to catch her breath. Before I could assure her that Honora was, indeed, working for me, she popped out from the back room.

"Francine Gainer! It's been forever and a day. How are you doing, darling girl? I heard about your husband's passing. Such a shame." Honora gave the visitor a fast and formal hug. As she did, the miniaturist's fake pearl screw on earrings bobbed a greeting, too.

Francine responded by pulling a linen handkerchief from a pocket of her shirtwaist dress. After mopping her eyes, she said, "Yes, I miss Durwood terribly. Every day, in fact. But even worse is Dahlia, my youngest grandchild. She was Durwood's favorite, probably because she's the youngest. The child just can't seem to get over her depression. And this holiday upcoming is the worst. The absolute worst! Because Durwood and Dahlia loved to dye Easter Eggs and hide them and go for walks over on the island. The two of them enjoyed nature so much!"

A loud sob caused Francine to stop talking.

"Dear, dear," said Honora, as she patted her friend on the shoulder. "I remember Dahlia. Such a bright, energetic child. Wants to be a vet when she grows up. Isn't that right?"

"Yes," wailed Francine. "But now her mother and I are so worried! All the child does is mope!"

All this was sad and touching, but I didn't see how we could possibly help. However, I'm learning to keep my mouth shut and let life unfold rather than rush in. So instead of asking why Francine had stumbled into The Treasure Chest, I maintained my sympathetic expression and held my tongue.

The answer to my question came soon enough.

 
~ To be continued tomorrow ~