Category Archives: Novels of Carding, Vermont

Updates and news about the Carding books.

Formal Attire

SH-fireworksHi folks,
Today’s Carding Chronicle is actually an excerpt from early in the next Carding novel, Lights in Water, Dancing (which will be available soon). It’s a piece that seems appropriately timed for this week’s holiday.

Just a bit of background for those of you new to the series about the little town in Vermont that no one can seem to find on a map. Carding is reeling from the revelation that the man hired by the town school board (Reggie Rosen) is a fraud. Together with his step-sister Margie, he was systematically embezzling school funds to the tune of $3.5 million.

At the end of the third Carding novel (The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life), Reggie was arrested and Margie was on the run.

Richard Monroe, who is featured in this excerpt, was a member of the school board that hired Reggie Rosen.

Intrigued? Read on!


You are invited to a Fourth of July party at
193 Kingswood Avenue on the 9th hole of the Mount Merino golf course.

Drinks at 6. Dinner at 8.

Formal attire please.

Richard Monroe was a fastidious man. His clothes in his closet were hung with an eye to precision, his suits collected in sets of dark blue, gray, and black. His dress shirts were always pristine white or cream. His casual slacks were well-pressed, and matched meticulously with his stockpile of golf shirts. All his shoes were clean and polished.

His socks never sagged.

Monroe leaned forward to examine his face in the bathroom mirror while his current housekeeper filed his latest batch of dry cleaning in the room reserved for his clothes. He wanted to be sure she touched nothing but hangers. He despised snooping. He knew his demands drove his paid help crazy but that suited him just fine. Turnover kept the gossip flow to a minimum.

 He had to make the right impression for the official launch of his latest real estate project, Maplewood Knoll. “When the Knoll is complete,” he whispered to his reflection, “Mount Merino’s second golf course will be an international sensation, and the luxury homes that accompany it will be a haven for those with taste.”

Monroe grinned at himself. He liked that version of his speech the best.

It was obvious to him that an expansion of the entire Mount Merino complex was long overdue. The development’s original condos and luxury homes were showing signs of wear as they neared their twenty-year mark, and the design of the golf course had become achingly familiar. The Mount Merino Landowners Association needed waking up if it was going to survive, and Monroe knew he was just the man to remedy that situation.

He smoothed the collar of his shirt as he practiced his talking points for the evening. “Who will design the course, you ask? What if I told you I’d tempted Ernest Hollingsworth out of retirement? Would that interest you?”

That type of news was sure to interest any golfer. Hollingsworth courses were renowned for their devilish trickery, and the golf course designer’s services were notoriously difficult to secure. The fact that he might work on a course in Carding, Vermont would make Monroe’s proposal irresistible and open the wallets of prospective investors.

He turned to look at the tie selection he’d spread across his dresser, thumbing the silk of each one in its turn. Monroe knew he needed to impress the men who’d gather in his study for brandy after dinner. He was quite aware that the ritual of men-in-the-study and women-in-the-drawing-room reeked of a class system popular in the nineteenth century, a fact that Monroe knew would please his audience.

Once his after-dinner presentation to the men of Merino was over, Monroe would launch his campaign among the wives. He needed a bit more time to prepare for that because, in his experience, women required more individualized attention than men.

But that could wait until tomorrow.

“Is there anything else, Mr. Monroe?” the housekeeper called from the next room.

“Have the caterers arrived?”

“Yessir, they’re setting up in the kitchen now.”

Monroe selected a red tie with a subtly overlaid design in silver thread. It would be an elegant contrast with the understated charcoal gray of his suit. “Then I won’t require your services any more this evening,” he said as he started the tie-knotting process. “But I expect you here early tomorrow morning. I don’t want to see a mess when I get up.”

“Yessir.” The woman shook her head as she glanced around Monroe’s spotless master bedroom. With a sudden twitch of insight, she realized that the room held nothing of a personal nature, no photographs, no mementos, not even pocket change or keys stashed carelessly in a bowl. The two prints hanging on the walls were best described as innocuous if they were described at all.

Her reverie was broken when she heard Monroe stir in the next room. She quickly pulled her letter of resignation out of her pocket, and placed it on the seat of the room’s only chair. Mr. Monroe could clean up after his own party.


I’m so glad you’ve stopped by to enjoy this excerpt from Lights in Water, Dancing, the fourth novel of Carding, Vermont.

As always please share the  Carding Chronicle with your friends and be sure to subscribe to this website so that the next story will be delivered to your inbox.

If you would like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.

Do a bit of good in the world today!

You Are Invited…

The fourth novel of Carding, Vermont—Lights in Water, Dancing—is now available for order on Amazon.com or through your local independent bookstore.

So tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle is meant to whet your whistle with an excerpt from the book about a party in a big house close to the Mount Merino golf course.

It’s being hosted by Richard Monroe and you’re all invited.

Here’s a sample of what’s in store!

SH-fireworks

Song of the Queen Bee

SH-queen beeI just finished reading A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell. (Highly recommended, by the way.) The book is a combination of beekeeping basics, the history of beekeeping, and sundry ruminations on the natural world.

And it’s well-written and researched to boot.

In other words, my kinda book.

Among the inclusions that Hubbell added to the basics of beekeeping is this poem published in 1945 by E.B. White (he of Charlotte’s Web fame). I had never read it before and it tickled my funny bone so I thought I would share it with you to celebrate the first day of summer.

By the way, you need to know that when the queen bee mates, she flies into the air pursued by the breeding drones from her hive and mates indiscriminately with every boy she can.

And as for the drones—well, let’s just say after meeting the queen, they buzz off to bee heaven with smiles on their little bee faces.

So without further ado, here’s the Song of the Queen Bee.


Song of the Queen Bee
by E. B. White

(“The Breeding of the bee,” says a United States Department of Agriculture bulletin on artificial insemination, “has always been handicapped by the fact that the queen mates in the air with whatever drone she encounters.”)

When the air is wine and the wind is free
And the morning sits on the lovely lea
And sunlight ripples on every tree,
Then love-in-the-air is the thing for me—
I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
That’s me

I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,
It’s the place to pair
With a bee.
Let old geneticists plot and plan,
They’re stuffy people, to a man;
Let gossips whisper behind their fan.
(Oh, she does?
Buzz, buzz, buzz!)

My nuptial flight is sheer delight;
I’m a giddy girl who likes to swirl,
To fly and soar
And fly some more,
I’m a bee.
And I wish to state that I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

There’s a kind of a wild and glad elation
In the natural way of insemination;
Who thinks that love is a handicap
Is a fuddydud and a common sap,
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
The test tube doesn’t appeal to me,
Not me,
I’m a bee.
And I’m here to state that I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

Let mares and cows, by calculating,
Improve themselves with loveless mating,
Let groundlings breed in the modern fashion,
I’ll stick to the air and the grand old passion;
I may be small and I’m just a bee
But I won’t have Science improving me,
Not me,
I’m a bee.
On a day that’s fair with a wind that’s free,
Any old drone is the lad for me.

I have no flair for love moderne,
It’s far too studied, far too stern,
I’m just a bee—I’m wild, I’m free
That’s me

I can’t afford to be too choosy;
In every queen there’s a touch of floozy;
And it’s simply rare
In the upper air
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

Man is a fool for the latest movement,
He broods and broods on race improvement;
What boots it to improve a bee
If it means the end of ecstasy?
(He ought to be there
On a day that’s fair,
Oh, it’s simply rare
For a bee.)

Man’s so wise he is growing foolish,
Some of his schemes are downright ghoulish;
He owns a bomb that’ll end creation
And he wants to change the sex relation,
He thinks that love is a handicap,
He’s a fuddydud, he’s a simple sap;
Man is a meddler, man’s a boob,
He looks for love in the depths of a tube,
His restless mind is forever ranging,
He thinks he’s advancing as long as he’s changing,
He cracks the atom, he racks his skull,
Man is meddlesome, man is dull,
Man is busy instead of idle,
Man is alarmingly suicidal,
Me, I’m a bee.

I am a bee and I simple love it,
I am a bee and I’m darned glad of it,
I am a bee, I know about love:
You go upstairs, you go above,
You do not pause to dine or sup,
The sky won’t wait—it’s a long trip up;
You rise, you soar, you take the blue,
It’s you and me, kid, me and you,
It’s everything, it’s the nearest drone,
It’s never a thing you find alone.
I’m a bee,
I’m free.

If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wive me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows who have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for the man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I’ll multiply and I’ll increase
As I always have—by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I’m a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
Love-in-the-air is the thing for me,
Oh, it’s simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.


I’m so glad you’ve stopped by to enjoy this rollick with E.B. White to celebrate the summer solstice. As always please share the  Carding Chronicle with your friends and be sure to subscribe to this website so that the next Chronicle can be delivered right to your inbox.

If you would like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.

Do a bit of good in the world today.

Delay of Game

LiWD cover March 2018Hi folks,

The production team for the Carding novels is behind on layout and design so we’ve had to delay the publication of the fourth Carding novel, Lights in Water, Dancing, for two weeks.

In the meantime, we thought you might like a preview of the book. So today, we’re sharing the opening chapter.

And stay tuned for a special offer—free books for subscribed readers!

Details to follow.

Here’s the opening of the fourth novel of Carding, Vermont, Lights in Water, Dancing.


Last Day of Winter on Sunrise Hill, Carding, Vermont

Tupelo barely heard the roar of the school bus as it turned back to town. She was its last passenger, and she still had a bit of a walk ahead of her before she reached home. The question was: Which way should she go?

Straight uphill toward the rivulets murmuring down the creases among the hills? If she chose to go that way, she could watch water drip from the last ice of winter. She knew some of it would refreeze on the rocks, making and then remaking tiny icicles. But some of it would stay liquid in the sun that was riding higher in the sky now. When that happened, the water would shimmer and wiggle in the light, reflecting the blue of the sky and the red tips of the twigs that were now free to think about spring.

Tupelo found water fascinating to watch, and she’d worn her tallest boots just in case she decided to go to that way.

On the other hand, she could turn left and hike to the Big Apple Tree to see if the redwing blackbirds had come home from their journey south. They’d be all full of chatter and chaff. Her favorite place of all places was in the top of the Big Apple. From there, she could see the whole Corvus River Valley, all the way to the waterfall at the head of Half Moon Lake.

Just then, the wind kicked up, tossing the still-bare branches of the maples and birches. Their shake and shiver reminded Tupelo just how cold it would be in the top of her tree.

She cast her eye up the slope of road that led to the home she shared with her family. As much as she loved them, Tupelo regarded the outdoors as her true kin. It was the place where she could always be “just Tupelo,” no one’s child, no one’s charge.

Today was the last day of winter, she reminded herself, and the last day of winter is a special day. Everything in the woods changed fast on the crest of a new spring. Tomorrow, the waters and snow and ice would be different in the creek than they were today.

“And now it’s safe,” she whispered to the wind. “It’s safe for me to go anywhere.”

Tupelo laid her books on the ground so she could reach inside her boots to pull up her socks. Then she marched straight uphill to catch the lights in water, dancing.


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 30, 2018. And yes, it will be available on Amazon.com.

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.

If you would like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.