Happy New Year—Chutney Edition

SH-ChutneyFaye Bennett’s mother, Diana, has a twin brother, Daniel. It’s fair to say that he’s Faye’s favorite uncle.

Dan was in town for the holidays, spreading himself a bit thin so that he could catch up with his mother, Edie Wolfe, as well as old friends and family members.

But Daniel’s job—he’s an art appraiser with an international reputation—kept his holiday visit short. So he’s relying on Faye to keep him up with all the news in Carding.

She’s happy to comply.

You can visit Carding any time in my novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, and The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life. The fourth in the series, Lights in Water, Dancing, will be out early in 2018.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday without any further effort on your part.



Dear Uncle Dan,

I wish we had had time just to hang out while you were here at Christmas. I liked it better when you had a different job than the one you have now because we got to see you more. I’m not really sure what you’re doing but you always feel like you’re full of secrets. Wil says we should start calling you “the Clam” because you can’t talk about what you’re doing.

And you missed out on all the Carding news because you had to leave so soon.

First off, Brian Lambert and I broke up on New Year’s Day. He’s getting scouted by colleges who are interested in his basketball skills, and the whole business just makes him mad, mad, angry, and mad.

Which means he’s a real pain in the neck to be around.

You see, Brian’s not that interested in basketball. He once told me he only joined the Carding team to get to know people when he moved here last year. But it annoys the heck out of him that just because he’s tall and has a better tan than the rest of us, people think he should be playing basketball.

What he really wants to do is art, and he’s really, really good at it. But his father keeps pushing the basketball stuff because he wants Brian to get a wicked good education so he can do whatever he wants.

Brian keeps asking why he can’t skip the whole basketball thing and do what he wants now, which I think is a good question. But asking it only makes his father mad.

Anyway, Brian thinks it would be better if I’m out of “harm’s way” when the big explosion between he and his father happens. It feels weird not to be hanging out with him but it’s okay.

The other big news around here is town meeting. I never used to pay attention to town meeting until Dad got elected to the school board last year and then all of that nasty stuff about the Rosens came out and he was in that horrid accident. (You can read more about this in The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life.)

So now I pay real close attention because I don’t want anyone else that I love to get hurt like Dad did.

Which is why I’m kinda concerned about Gram.

Did she ever tell you the story about how her quilt guild broke up because of this woman who lives in one of the big houses up on Mount Merino? The woman’s name is G.G. Dieppe, and she’s one of these it’s-my-way-or-else types that just makes you want to take poke at her.

She’s the one who got so pissy when Suzanna and I wore our pink pussy hats into the Coop last year. She made such a stink that Gram and Andy Cooper organized a town wide hat-making effort so that the next time old G.G. showed up at the store, everyone was wearing a pink pussy hat.

After that, you’d think the woman would know better than to shop at the Coop but she thinks she owns Carding, and that we should all bow down to her.

I don’t get people like that.

Last week, when it was so cold and icy, she went to the Coop wearing high-heeled boots and this flimsy jacket and then stood there complaining about the ice and the cold.

I gather that Andy was shorthanded that day because a couple of his regular cashiers were out with the flu and Corker Smith’s truck (you remember Corker, right?) went off the road into a snowbank. When they heard, a bunch of people went to the store to help Andy out, one of them being Amos Handy.

I know some people don’t like Amos because they think he’s grumpy. And he likes to pretend he’s just some dumb redneck with people “from away” because he doesn’t think much of people “from away.”

But I like him. He’s got this dry sense of humor that comes out of the corner of his mouth so you have to be quick to catch what he says, and then when you do, he goes all innocent-looking when you start laughing.

Anyway, Amos thinks that high-heeled boots are about the dumbest thing anyone could wear in the winter around here. So when G.G. started complaining about the ice in the parking lot and how cold it was in Andy’s store, Amos asked her how many degrees below freezing it was at her house.

When she tells him, Amos says she’s wrong because she didn’t count the number zero in her calculations.

You and I know he messes with people about that every year, and it would have blown over if G.G. had just laughed. But she didn’t.

So one thing led to another until this G.G. stomped out of the Coop yelling at everybody, and saying they’re going to regret yanking her chain.

Well, it didn’t turn out to be an empty threat because G.G.‘s now on the town meeting ballot running for the empty seat on the selectboard.

Her friends who live in the big houses and condos on Mount Merino are backing her up but they can’t vote for at town meeting because they spend most of the year living somewhere else so they’re not Vermont residents.

But that doesn’t seem to matter to them because they’re in the town hall arguing with poor Paula Bouton and trying to register to vote.

All this makes Gram, your mother, spitting mad because of the way this G.G. tore the quilt guild apart and how she treated Suzanna and I. Lately there’s been a lot of cars parked at her house at night so I suspect there’s some plotting going on.

I’ll keep you posted because we both know that if Gram’s involved, it will be interesting.

Oh, and I wanted to thank you for the cranberry chutney that you contributed to my marmalade-jam-and-jelly collection. To tell you the truth, I had no idea what chutney was, even after I looked it up in the dictionary. But I figured since it had cranberries and raisins in it, I couldn’t go wrong.

Your chutney had a bunch of cinnamon in it, and it’s awesome on toast. In fact, it’s all gone so put it on my list for next year, okay?

Well, I gotta go. There’s a game at the high school that starts in about an hour, and if I want to hitch a ride with Wil, I better bolt.

Hope we see you more this year than last.



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