The Big Day (town meeting day) is right around the corner, and plans are afoot to upset G.G. Dieppe’s apple cart.
G.G., you see, expects to be elected to the Carding select board where she intends to rule with the same unerring sense of control that she exerts over the Carding Quilt Guild.
But as I said, plans are afoot.
Wouldn’t you like to know what they are? Read on!
“Please excuse the mess,” Edie said as she led Brenda Underwood into her lair at the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Then she laughed. “You know, I have no idea why I say that because my office always looks this way. Though the color palette does change with the season.”
Edie swept her hand around her office, and Brenda sighed with pleasure. It was just the sort of creative chaos that she loved. Red, pink, and white strips of cloth were draped over the top of an open door. There were more pen-pencil-and-marker-filled jars than she could count. Every bit of wall space had a drawing or painting thumbtacked to it, and many of them sported Post-It notes in various colors.
“It’s always worse when we have Open Studio during school vacations,” Edie said as she cleared the chair near her desk. “I love the energy of the kids but I have to say I’m always relieved when it is over.”
Suddenly, a brown mass on the floor that Brenda had taken for a failed sculpture began to move, and a cocker spaniel appeared in its place, wagging his tail. She kneeled down close to him, hitting the right scratching place behind his ears the first time.
“Oooh, aren’t you beautiful,” she crooned. “We had a cocker when our kids were in high school. She was the most intrepid dog. She hiked with us, swam with us. Whatever we did, she had to go too. What’s his name?”
“Nearly,” Edie said as she poured hot water into a bright yellow ceramic pot.
“Nearly? That’s kind of a strange name. Isn’t it?”
“I suppose so until you consider that my last name is Wolfe so my boy’s full name is Nearly Wolfe.” Edie set a timer for the tea to brew. “And genetically speaking, every dog is nearly a wolf. My son Daniel, who was in a science phase at the time, named him that, and even though it is odd, it stuck. What do you take in your tea?”
“Just some milk, if you have it.”
The two women waited until they’d had their first sips before they spoke again, and it was Edie who started.
“I am so sorry that you had such a bad experience at that guild meeting. Reverend Lloyd tells me you’re a newbie quilter, and I can’t think of a better way for someone to get turned off to the craft than how you were treated. Believe me, the Carding Quilt Guild was not that way before G.G. showed up.”
“Gordon told me that the guild split in two a while ago. That seems like a pretty drastic step when you consider there can’t be that many quilters in this area,” Brenda said.
“You’d be surprised at how many creative types live among our hills. But you’re right, it was a drastic move.” Edie set her cup down. “Small social service organizations like guilds just don’t have mechanisms in their bylaws to cope with…hmm, how shall I put this…unwanted members. You’ve met G.G. so you have some idea of how much she needs to be in control of everything and everyone around her. When all of those ‘Stepford Wives’ from Mount Merino showed up in her wake, guild meetings became very unpleasant so those of us who had been there for a while decided to move on.”
Then Edie blushed. “Oh, I am so sorry. I forgot that you live up on Mount Merino. I didn’t mean to…”
Brenda waved her hand. “Look, I’m not so sure I belong there either so don’t worry on my account.” She pulled a piece of pink paper out of her pocket, G.G.’s campaign announcement, and handed it to Edie. “I found this under the wiper blade of my car after the meeting. I understand that G.G. is running for a seat on Carding’s select board.”
Edie shook her head as she read. “That woman is obnoxious even on paper.”
“She believes she has enough votes among the people who live on Mount Merino to win. Please tell me it isn’t true,” Brenda said.
Edie smiled, tapping the offending pink sheet with her finger. “I don’t believe that any election is completely predictable. But that being said, we do have an alternative to G.G. on the ballot though he’s not a strong candidate.”
“Who is it?”
“A man named Eugene Becker. He’s our local insurance agent, and a great guy. He’s been on the board for five years now. But he’s not actively campaigning because of health issues that came home to roost after the deadline for getting someone else on the ballot had passed,” Edie said.
Brenda’s shoulders sagged. “So you’re saying there’s little hope that G.G. will be defeated?”
For an answer, Edie reached into a box on her desk, slid her hand carefully under a pile of paper, and gently laid it near Brenda. It was a stack of what can best be described as “love signs.” Some were handmade. Others were obviously computer generated. All of them were different from one other.
“How are these going to sway an election?” Brenda asked with her eyebrows cinched up.
“By this time tomorrow, Carding will be covered in signs like these,” Edie said. “They will be in all the shop windows, along the hallways in the schools, on the benches on the green, and stapled to all the telephone poles in town,” Edie said, a smile playing tag with her lips.
“And that means?”
“We happen to know that G.G. Dieppe has a particular abhorrence for what she calls ‘unsanctioned signs.’ She shows up at town hall to complain every time there’s an event like a clothing swap or an ice fishing derby or church supper when folks put out signs along the local roads for publicity,” Edie said. “She wasn’t here last year when we celebrated Oona Lovejoy’s birthday so she hasn’t seen this particular event. That’s why we’re making sure there are more signs than ever. I’m sure G.G.’s protests will be loud and will wake up the town to what she would be like in a position of authority. That’s step one.”
“But if this Eugene Becker is ill and not campaigning…,” Brenda began to say.
Edie leaned back in her chair. “There’s always a chance for a good write-in candidate to carry the day. We’ve seen that happen here in Carding a number of times.”
“So do you have someone?”
“Oh yes. How would you like to help Amos Handy get elected?”
“Amos Handy.” Brenda whispered the name as she shook her head to jog her memory. “Isn’t he the man who runs the Swap Shed at the town recycling center?”
“One and the same.”
Brenda smiled. “I thought he was a real character the one time I met him.”
“He is all of that. So what do you think?”
“Will he be any good?”
Edie laughed. “In my experience, Amos is one of the sharpest tacks in the box though he likes to let folks like Mount Merino’s ‘Stepford Wives’ believe he is rather dull. But in my experience, his perspective on the world provokes thoughtful responses in other people. There’s a number of us who believe he’ll turn out to be a real asset for Carding.”
Brenda picked up her teacup with a smile. “What can I do to help?”
Edie stood up, pointing toward the second floor of the Carding Academy. “Would you like to meet our campaign committee?”
“Will I get to make some of these?” Brenda pointed toward the pile of love signs.
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, Light in Water, Dancing, will go on sale on June 15, 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.