Tag Archives: carding vermont

Tea for Two: A Carding Chronicle

SH-teapotLast week, Edie Wolfe and her neighbors, David and Lillian Tarkiainen, had their good night’s sleep shattered by the scream of a peacock.

It was a bit unnerving, especially when they discovered that the flamboyant bird had a love interest hiding in the bushes.

But who owns the peacock and why is it there?

Edie has a hunch so she calls Lee and Christine Tennyson, Carding’s favorite local farmers, to see if they’re missing any birds.

And that’s when she falls into the “Tennyson tangle.”

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. Carding is the small town (population 3,700 or so) that no one can seem to find on a map of the Green Mountain State. But you can find it any time, right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont.

Details about the novels are at the end of this story. And may I encourage you to subscribe to my website so you won’t miss out on anything Carding.

This three-part tale continues in Edie Wolfe’s kitchen over a cup of tea with Christine Tennyson.

Glad you’ve stopped by for a visit.


“You’ve known the twins for a long time,” Christine Tennyson began as she sipped a cup of tea in Edie Wolfe’s kitchen.

“Since high school,” Edie said. “They were a year ahead of me.” She didn’t know Christine well but it was clear that the younger woman was agitated. “They’ve always had a reputation, one that’s earned in my opinion, as being a bit eccentric.”

“I really don’t know them as anything more than Lee’s aunts. I’ve only met them three or four times since we got married.” She chuckled. “But I have to say that they’ve sent our kids some rather bizarre birthday gifts.”

The peacock in the backyard screamed again as it approached a rather bemused rooster standing in the center of Edie’s stubbled November garden.

“What do you supposed the attraction is there?” Edie mused.

“I have no idea.” Christine shook her head. “We knew that Flora Mae and Mary Beth planned to be in Carding for Thanksgiving but we had no idea when they would arrive. Then yesterday afternoon when I got home from school with the kids, I found Lee standing in our backyard just sputtering with anger.”

“Lee angry? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him angry,” Edie said. “I don’t think anyone in Carding has seen him angry.”

“Well, he was. When he calmed down enough to be coherent, he told me that the twins showed up in a rented van with a peacock in a cage in the back seat, marched into our barn, took our rooster, and then left without so much as a by-your-leave,” Christine said. “He’s still in shock.”

“I’ve heard through the grapevine that there’s supposed to be a meeting of the Tennyson clan over Thanksgiving weekend to decide the fate of the house on the green,” Edie said. “Local legend has it that ownership of that property is so tangled, no one’s quite sure who owns it or who’s responsible for it.”

“It’s worse than that.” Christine set her empty cup in the sink. “Or better, depending on your point of view. During the summer, Lee and I found out that the property taxes haven’t been paid in over a year. The house isn’t in any danger of a tax sale yet…”

“But it could be. If the twins don’t have the money to keep up with the taxes, it’s easy to get so far behind that a tax sale becomes inevitable,” Edie said. “How many of the extended Tennyson family are planning to come?”

“There may be as many as twenty here in person and another ten joining online,” Christine said, drawing on a pair of heavy leather gloves. Outside, the peacock was raising its feathers, and the rooster looked embarrassed. “I think I need to rescue my poor bird.”

“What about the peacock?”

Christine sighed. “I guess I can take him too.”

“So what did you want my advice about?”

“Edie, none of the Tennysons wants to throw those two women out of the only place they’ve ever called home but they also feel a sense of responsibility for the property,” Christine explained. “We just can’t let this situation continue. So tell me, how would you get Flora Mae and Mary Beth to relinquish their interest in that house?”

Edie cocked her head. “My first question would be: Can you determine who actually owns it?”

“Actually, we already have. When we found out that the taxes hadn’t been paid, everyone agreed to hire Charlie Cooper to investigate the multiple wills and inheritance claims,” Christine said.

“What did he find out?”

“Legally, the ownership is shared among the eight first cousins in Lee’s generation. Together, they can authorize the sale of the property,” Christine said.

“What about the twins? Do they have a say?”

“Interestingly enough, they don’t. From what Charlie can determine, their father had a falling out with his parents and they left him only an insignificant gift of money in their will and no part of the house on the green at all. There were four Tennyson children in that family, and the other three siblings took control when their parents died. When the last of that generation passed away, the property was inherited by Lee and the cousins,” Christine said.

“You mean the twins have been squatting in that house all these years?” Edie said.

Christine zipped her jacket up to her chin. “Yeah. Ironic, isn’t it? At the time, no one else wanted to live there because they were all busy with their own lives and careers. As long as Flora Mae and Mary Beth kept the place maintained and paid the property taxes, no one had any reason to bother them.”

“Well, that puts a whole new spin on the situation, doesn’t it?” Edie said.

“It sure does. That’s why I’d be grateful for any ideas or advice or common sense that you can throw my way. No one wants to make the twins homeless but this situation can’t continue.” Christine looked up at the clock. “I’ve gotta go, Edie. Thanks for the tea and for letting me talk.”

Edie nodded her head, her face already thoughtful. “I think I’ll walk down the street to pay the twins a visit. I’ll let you know if I learn any information to add to yours.”

Christine impulsively threw her arms around Edie’s neck. “I feel better already,” she said as she hurried out the back door.

“But I didn’t promise anything,” Edie murmured into now-empty kitchen.

In Edie’s opinion, most sticky situations can be defused by lemon cake or spice cookies. Since she needed time to think as well as do some research, she pulled cookie ingredients out of her cupboards and set a large bowl in the center of her counter.

She was just sliding the first two pans into the oven when Ruth Goodwin appeared at her back door. “I was passing and smelled ginger,” she said. “Are you baking for Thanksgiving already?”

“No, I’m planning on paying a visit,” Edie said. “To the Tennyson twins.”

Ruth’s head snapped up. “How did you hear so soon?”

“Hear that they’re in town?”

“No, hear that an ambulance just took Mary Beth to the hospital.”

Edie sagged down into a chair. “So that’s why they came home for Thanksgiving. Mary Beth was ill. They haven’t made an appearance in years, and I wondered why they chose to do it now.”

Ruth grabbed a potholder as the timer on Edie’s stove began to beep. “I heard they showed up at Lee and Christine’s place and kidnapped a rooster.”

“Yeah. I think it’s supposed to keep their peacock company.”

“Their what?”

Edie leaped to her feet, stripped off her apron, and covered the remaining cookie dough to keep it moist. “I think we’d better get over there to check on Flora Mae. The twins are never separated, and if they didn’t take her to the hospital with her sister, she’ll be frantic.”

Ruth turned off the oven, and pulled her car keys out of her pocket. “Can I assume you’re going to fill me in on what’s going on as we drive over there?”

“The twins didn’t pay the property taxes on the house this year, the building’s getting shabby, the twins don’t own it and never owned it, and none of the Tennysons have any idea what to do with them,” Edie explained as the two women piled into Ruth’s bright yellow Jeep.

Ruth stared at her friend before she turned the key in the ignition. “So we’re off on a rescue mission. I love those.” 


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, has just been published! You can find them all on Amazon or you can order them through your local independent book store.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the 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’d like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.

A Peacock in Paradise: A Carding Chronicle

SH-roosterThere’s a distinct chill in the air of Carding, Vermont now that the calendar has moved into November. The evenings are definitely longer now, the clouds often thicker during the day.

In short, quiet reigns all over town once the sun sets.

So any disturbance is sure to get attention, especially when it occurs in your own backyard.

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. Carding is the small town (population 3,700 or so) that no one can seem to find on a map of the Green Mountain State. But you can find it any time, right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont.

Details about the novels are at the end of this story. And may I encourage you to subscribe to my website so you won’t miss out on anything Carding.

This three-part tale begins with a scream coming from Edie Wolfe’s backyard…in the middle of the night.

Glad you’ve stopped by for a visit.


When the scream pierced the quiet of the night, Edie Wolfe almost levitated out of bed. Her cocker spaniel, Nearly, leaped into his high-frenzy mode, reserved for only special occasions such as screams from his backyard in the depths of a November night.

“What the…?” Edie muttered as a second scream split the dark. “That’s not human.”

Luckily, Edie had left her favorite fall-chore jacket on a chair in the kitchen, the one she used for dirt-inducing chores such as stacking wood and cleaning up the garden. She jammed her arms into its sleeves as she flipped on lights. She was relieved to note that her closest neighbors’ lights had come on too.

“Did you hear that?” David Tarkiainen’s voice swept over the fence between their houses. David, Edie noticed, preferred his bathrobes in plaid flannel.

“Sure did,” Edie said as Nearly whipped out the back door into the yard, sounding for all the world like a big dog. A deeper woof heralded the arrival of the Tarkiainen’s black Lab, Curtis.

“Stay!” both owners yelled at the same time.

The scream sounded again, and the beams of Edie’s and David’s flashlights converged on the same spot.

“That sounds like a peacock,” David’s wife Lillian said as she joined the party.

“A peacock?”

“Yeah. When I was in high school, we took a class trip to Wales to visit castles and attend the National Eisteddfod. There were peacocks on the grounds of some of the castles we visited. The males scream like that when they’re going to display their tail feathers,” Lillian explained. “It’s a spooky sound.”

“Oooh, the Eisteddfod? Isn’t that the big storytelling event in Cardiff?” Edie said. “I’ve always wanted to go to that.”

The scream sounded again, fainter this time.

“Oh, that’s definitely a peacock,” Lillian said.

Edie and David panned their flashlight beams slowly across their two yards. Even the dogs were quiet with anticipation. 

“Oh, there he is,” Edie said as her light caught a glint of iridescent blue feathers.

David’s light caught up with hers and together, they created a halo around a magnificent bird in full display. They watched in riveted silence, speechless, as the bird turned slowly in place so they could get a full view—back, sides, and front.

“Now why would he go to all this trouble in the dark?” David mused.

“He wouldn’t unless there was a female somewhere close by,” Lillian said. “Stay here. I’m going to get another flashlight.”

When Lillian returned, the three neighbors stepped cautiously onto the frosted grass of their backyards, the rimed blades crunching softly under their feet. David and Edie kept their lights steady as the peacock fluffed and waggled its tail while Lillian played her light among the bare trees and shrubs.

“What’s that?” she whispered. “Oh, it can’t be.”

“What? What?”

A muted clucking sound answered their question.

“Is that a hen,” Edie said. “What’s a hen doing in my backyard?”

She nearly dropped her flashlight when the “hen” tilted its head back and crowed.

“Oh gawd, no,” Edie moaned as more neighborhood lights came on. “Those birds have woken up the whole town.”

“Don’t despair,” David whispered as the peacock started folding his feathers. “I think showtime is over,” As the great fanfare of its tail disappeared, the bird slowly strutted to the left, moving out of one beam of light into the next. Then the rooster’s head rose from the shrubbery.

David clapped a hand over his mouth but his wife and Edie both heard him chuckling. “Oh, you know this story will be all over town before lunch.”

His two companions paused to relish the telling and retelling that was to come. 

“So where did this bird come from?” Edie asked. “I don’t know anyone who owns peacocks in Carding, do you?”

The three neighbors blinked at one another, flummoxed for the moment. Then Lillian snapped her fingers. “Edie, didn’t you tell me that the Tennyson twins are back in town?”

“Yes, there’s supposed to be a family get-together over Thanksgiving weekend,” Edie said. 

“That could be interesting,” David said.

“More interesting than usual, according to Lee Tennyson. I gather there’s going to be a discussion about selling the big house here on the green because the twins aren’t keeping it up, and the rest of the family would like to put it on the market before it costs too much to revive it.”

They turned to look down the road toward the once-vibrant Victorian on the far corner. Folks had been muttering about its peeling paint and neglected yard for some time now.

“It has grown shabby,” David said.

“And when you compare it to the other houses on the Green,” Lillian added, “it’s definitely losing value.”

Contented bird sounds filled the backyard, and the three neighbors were suddenly aware of how cold they had become.

“Do either of you know what time it is?” Edie asked, trying in vain to suppress a shiver.

“About 5:30,” Lillian said.

David yawned. “Well, I might as well put the coffee on and get some paperwork done before work.” He was Carding’s new superintendent of schools. “What should we do about the birds? Just let them find their way back home?”

Edie turned off her flashlight, and headed toward her back door. “I’ve never raised chickens but I understand that neither hens nor roosters are all that bright. I think I’m going to put a notice out on the town email system to see who may be short a couple of birds.”

With a wave, the neighbors ventured back inside to stoke their wood stoves.

As she brewed her first cup of tea for the day, Edie poked at her laptop, composing a “lost and found” for the peacock. But halfway through, she thought better of it. After a glance at her clock, she dialed the number for the Tennyson farm to talk to Lee or his wife Christine. Edie had known Lee’s aunts, Flora Mae and Mary Beth, since they were all in high school together. Even back then, their eccentricity—and contrariness—were a legend.

That meant that any discussion about selling the Tennyson house on the Green was sure to be crotchety, disagreeable, and downright testy. 

The sisters had always treated the old Victorian home as theirs in spite of the tangled deeds and wills that governed its true ownership. The rest of the extended Tennyson family had, from time to time, pointed out that the rambling structure was not owned by any single Tennyson or any team of Tennysons. It was truly “a family manse.” But their objections always died quiet deaths in the face of the twins’ fierce defense of their “rights.”

But Flora Mae and Mary Beth had never stayed in Carding long enough to truly care for the house and now it was suffering.

Lee Tennyson picked up on the second ring. “Hello, Tennyson Farm.” His voice was crisp, and Edie wondered how long he’d been up.

“Lee, hi, it’s Edie Wolfe. Are you missing a peacock by any chance?”

There was a long silence on the other end of the line, and then Lee sighed. “My aunts…never mind. I’ll come over and get it. You don’t, by any chance, also have a rooster in your yard?”

“I do, as a matter of fact.” She heard a voice in the background, and then Lee’s wife, Christine, came on the line.

“Edie, I’ll be down as soon as I drop the boys off at school to pick up the birds. Would you have time for tea when I get there? We could use some advice.”


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, has just been published! You can find them all on Amazon or you can order them through your local independent book store.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the 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’d like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.