Category Archives: Carding Chronicles

Short stories about Carding, Vermont

Let’s Do the Math

The Carding Chronicles are short stories and sketches about the little town no one’s ever been able to find on a map. If you hit the subscribe button to the right, the Carding Chronicles will be delivered right to your inbox.

New post on Carding Chronicle blog: October 15

It’s Official—Today Is a 25!
by Little Crow

Foliage has been slow to peak this fall because it’s been so warm so our trees decided to hold back on the annual autumnal display just a wee bit.

We usually hit Max Leaf Peeping the first full weekend of October but now we’re in the middle of the month and BAM!—the weather is rocking.

How great is it, you ask? Well, on a scale of one to ten, today is a twenty-five.

Don’t believe me? Let’s do the math.

  • Temperature: 62 degrees, warm enough for strolling about with just a sweater or hiking without. Points awarded—5.
  • Bugs: None except the occasional bumblebee that’s clinging to the last flowers to be found. Points awarded—5.
  • Sunshine: Plentiful with the odd wispy cloud or two that adds charm to a crystalline sky. Points awarded—5.
  • Foliage: Deep red oaks, yellow and orange maples, flashes of yellow undergrowth that light up the woods, sumacs showing off every color of fall on each leaf, all glowing in the sun under an amazing blue sky on a day that just makes you want to walk or ride or hike or just stand and gaze at this wondrous world. Points awarded—10, because it doesn’t get any better than this.

Total score for this incredible moment in time—25.

Loving every minute of this!

Little Crow | October 15 | Categories: Vermont-in-Season

Needing a Real Map in a GPS World

The Carding Chronicles are short stories and sketches about the little town no one’s ever been able to find on a map. If you hit the subscribe button to the right, the Carding Chronicles will be delivered right to your inbox.

Overheard in Cooper’s General Store, located in the heart of Carding, Vermont.

“Excuse me,” the harried man said as he approached Brenda, the Coop’s head cashier. “Can you tell me where the Tennyson Farm is? Our GPS has sent us all over the map.”

“Aah,” said Brenda, pointing at the digital device. “That’s your trouble, you see. Those things just don’t work in Carding.”

The man looked very confused. “Don’t work? This is the latest GPS on the market. It works everywhere.”

Andy Cooper, the owner of the store, shook his head as he looked over the man’s shoulder. “Well, I think Brenda may be right. It couldn’t get you to Tennyson’s Farm, could it? What you need is a real map.”

“This is a real map,” the man said.

A young woman appeared behind him. “Honey, don’t they know where it is?”

“Oh, we know where the Tennyson farm is,” Andy said. “They are an old family here in Carding. We buy our Christmas trees from them every year. The problem is, you need a real map to get there.”

“You lookin’ for Tennysons?” Lydie Talbot asked as she joined the queue. Then she spotted the GPS in the man’s hands. “Aww, no one ever finds Tennysons with those things. You need a real map.”

The woman’s eyes traveled from Brenda to Andy to Lydie and back. “Come on, Hef, let’s go. I’m sure we can find it.”

“Not without a map,” Gideon Brown said as he joined the circle, a six-pack of Carding Cream Ale under his arm.

The harried man shook his head. “This is a real map. Could you just tell me what street Tennysons’ place is on? That’s all I need to know.”

The Carding crowd looked at one another. “Well, it’s up off of Belmont Hill,” Andy said. “Does the road up to the farm have another name?”

Heads shook from side to side.

“You mean you don’t know where it is,” the woman said, her arms making the sign of the impatient cross over her chest.

“Oh, we all know where it is,” Brenda said.

“Here, let me draw you a map,” Gideon offered. Brenda tore off a length of receipt tape from her register and laid it down on the counter with a pencil.

The man sighed, disgust thick in the sound of it. “Belmont Hill, you say.” He shoved his GPS in his pocket. “What is with you people? What century do you live in?”

Andy laughed. “You do realize you’re standing in a town that’s not been on a map of Vermont since 1731. In a way, you’re trying to find something that doesn’t exist.”

“That’s impossible,” the woman said. “Every town has been mapped.”

“Not Carding,” Gideon said, and the crowd could hear the pride in his voice. “The 1731 map was drawn by Robin Dutille and printed in Boston.”

“He was an ornery man,” Andy said.

“Always thought people were going to steal his stuff,” Lydie said.

“So he put fake towns on every map he drew so that if someone plagiarized his work, he’d catch them,” Brenda said.

“Then when the Vermont map was revised in 1774 by Augustus Chapman, he took off the towns he thought were fake so that Dutille wouldn’t catch him,” Andy said.

“Only he thought Carding was one of the fake towns, so he took us off,” Gideon said.

“And we’ve never made it back on,” Brenda said.

The man sighed again. They could feel the force of it in the back of the store. “Okay, let’s start again. Could you tell me how to find the Tennyson Farm.”

Gideon picked up the pencil. “Let me draw you a real map,” he said, wetting the tip of it with his tongue.

Some Days

The Carding Chronicles are short stories and sketches about the little town no one’s ever been able to find on a map. If you hit the subscribe button to the right, the Carding Chronicles will be delivered right to your inbox.
365-5 ————————
The people of Carding, Vermont like to know that one day will be like the next, that it will snow in winter, that the sun will rise over Mount Merino, and that the smells of coffee and morning glory muffins will waft from the Crow Town Bakery.

But it is an indisputable fact that control of the future is an illusion that can be upset by the smallest misstep—the car that doesn’t start, the bathroom sink that gets clogged, the slippery ice in the driveway. That’s all it takes.

This particular shattered day started when Hillary Talbot stopped in front of the calendar in the Crow Town Bakery’s kitchen on her way to the walk-in cooler. “Uh oh, did you see what’s on the calendar for tomorrow?” she asked her boss, Diana Bennett.

“Wednesday?” Diana asked.

Hillary nodded. “Yeah, that and Mercury’s going retrograde until the ninth.”

Diana frowned. “Um, okay. What does that mean?”

“Delays and frustrations!” Hillary said. Then she shrugged. “It’s just smaller stuff that doesn’t go right. You know, like Alice in Wonderland.”

“And how long does this Mercury retrograde last?”

“Oh, just seventeen days,” Hillary said cheerfully. “It’ll be over before you know it.”

Now, Diana Bennet does not count herself as a believer in astrology but she’d learned there was sometimes a price to be paid when she ignored Hillary’s pronouncements. So that night, she checked to make sure her alarm clock—timed to go off with the weather report on Dirt Road Radio—was set. Then she glanced at the knobs on her stove to make sure they were all in the “off” position, and that there was milk for breakfast in the fridge.

Satisfied, she snuggled in beside her husband Stephen to pass a quiet night.

But while Diana slept the sleep of someone who thought she’d beaten Mercury at his retrograde game, tiny technology glitches collaborated to knock Dirt Road Radio off the air. No radio, no alarm.

That’s all it took.

A finger of sun poked through a gap in her bedroom curtains, waking Diana with a start. Still half asleep, she rousted her husband, rumbled up their kids, lost the keys then found the keys to the bakery, forgot the code for the alarm on the back door, fed the policeman who arrived when the alarm went off, and then realized her left heel was gaping out of a huge hole in her socks.

With a deep, steadying sigh, she retrieved a spare pair of Hillary’s socks from the back room then started juggling eggs and bagels out of the second refrigerator before she realized that someone had forgotten to plug it back in after defrosting.

Turning quick, she tripped over a mop handle, splayed the eggs all over the floor, and had just performed an accidental set of splits when Hillary walked in the back door.

“Diana, why are the police here?” she started to ask when she realized her boss was sitting in the middle of an egg puddle with strips of bacon plastered across her forehead.

Diana sighed as she peeled bacon off her hair. Then she looked down at the sodden tubes of lime green socks puddling around her ankles. “Wonderland,” she said. “Some days, you just wake up in Wonderland.”

Cloud Collectors

Did you know there was a website and book dedicated to cloud appreciation?

Early morning clouds over the White River
Early morning clouds over the White River

I just love that idea.

I bought the book for my husband for his birthday a couple of years ago and picked it up last night, intrigued anew by the idea.

So when I went out for my early morning walk today, I decided to start my collection. The combination of the river, the magical quality of light in Vermont, and the ephemeral nature of clouds is a perfect combination, in my book.

Reader Reviews

Most readers don’t realize how much power they have in the brave new world of publishing.
Thieves-front cvr only-6x9-04272015
You see, back in the traditional-publishing-only era, reviews were all written by professionals who served the interests of the publishing establishment. This is not to say that reviewers wrote what publishers wanted to hear. For the most part, that is definitely not true.

But publishers fed reviewers the books they really wanted to sell, and didn’t bother with the rest.

If you were the author of “one of the rest,” getting reviewed was nigh near impossible.

But then Amazon tore that whole cozy relationship to pieces when they created a review mechanism that was open to EVERYONE!!!

Gasp! Horror! Readers can’t write reviews, the establishment said.

Ah ha, but they can. And they do. And they’re really, really, really good at it.

Reader reviews drive book sales. A lot of reviews raise a book’s visibility. A lot of bad reviews can sink a book. Pointed comments about a lack of editing can get a book pulled from the Amazon shelves.

Yep, readers are powerful.

My latest novel, Thieves of Fire, has just opened up for reviews on Amazon and I have been so touched and honored by what folks have to say. I’ve always believed that books are incomplete until they are united with readers so hearing what folks have to say about Thieves is crucial to me.

Here’s one of my favorites so far:

I loved this book. I am an avid reader and do not say that about many books, but this one creates a world that I wanted to inhabit, with characters that I felt I knew, both the endearing and the annoying, and a story that kept the pages turning. The back story within the story was far more complex than I expected at the outset, and the way that it intertwined with the main plot was masterfully executed.

I live in Vermont (only 25 years years so no delusions that I’m a Vehmontah) and am a bit skittish about books that are set in our just about perfect world. Thieves of Fire hit all the right notes and showed us for what we are: a rugged, quirky, individualist bunch of interesting (on a good day)/curmudgeonly (the rest of the time) people who like to be left alone except when someone needs a hand or has a good story to tell. Well done, Sonja Hakala, you’ve done us proud!

Revision Is the Soul of Publishing

Every creative being revises. Does the soup need more salt? Thyme?

Does this scarf go with this jacket? Does this fabric make this a better quilt? What happens if I move this plant from here to there?
TRU-2015 front cover only
If I change this word in this sentence here, does that make the story flow more smoothly?

One of the many benefits of independently publishing my books is that I can change and revise as I see fit.

My thinking about the covers for my Carding novels has evolved a lot since I first publishing The Road Unsalted in May 2013. Back then, I was wedded to using quilts for the covers. But I’ve been reminded that when you change a medium (book-to-movie, quilt-to-book cover), you change the viewer’s perception.

While I love the quilt made for the cover of The Road Unsalted, I realized it had too many elements in it for a book that’s only 5 x 8 inches in size.

So I downsized, sort of, keeping that lovely yellow VW that Nancy Graham made for the original. And while experimenting with that, I scanned the black and white background from another piece of fabric in my stash and suddenly realized that the wavy effect is just what roads feel like this time of year, all bumpy and wiggly with frost heaves.

With Thieves of Fire charging up to the publishing gate, I figured it was a good time to revise the cover of The Road Unsalted and fix some of the little stuff that others have found in the text. I also changed the description of the quilt made by one of the characters so that it coincides with a quilt I’m working on for an upcoming quilt book that’s a companion to The Road Unsalted.

That one is called String Theory I: Quilts and Patterns for the Parkinson’s Comfort Project. That one’s coming out in May.

Meet Chloe Cooper’s new quilt:
Chloe's quilt top-2015