Saturday, July 16, 2011

Shep Ferguson Ch. 7 The Rest of the Clan Pt. 4

Nicky and Allyn Ferguson

Nicky, formerly a well known bachelor and player, and his new wife, Allyn, were discussing whether to have children right away or not. Nicky was in favor of it, but Allyn wanted to do a little traveling first.
They were virtually newlyweds and still getting used to living with each other, so all differences of opinion were ended with a kiss or two…or more.

The next day Nicky said that if Allyn would really like to travel they’d better start thinking about which places she’d like to go.

He’d been teaching her to fish and Allyn thought it might be fun if they took a few days to go to the mountains and sample the trout fishing. Nicky concurred and suggested Three Lakes as a place she might want to start. He’d been there many times as a kid.

Allyn was very excited and looked up Three Lakes on the internet. After checking out the accommodations In Three Lakes, they talked over where they should stay. Nicky had always just camped at the Axe Wood Campgrounds, but he thought that might be a little too primitive for Allyn at this stage, maybe one of the resorts or hotels?

Nicky preferred that they stay at the Sky Vista Hotel; it was the most prestigious. Allyn protested,

“Can’t we at least try the camping, Nicky? You said it’s free. Then we could save a little money that way.”

She was much more frugal than Nicky.

“Well, I thought this would be our belated honeymoon—how romantic can I get in a tent?”

Allyn giggled,

“I'll bet I’d be surprised.”

He grinned,

“You little savage--but, seriously, baby, I think we should get a room or suite at the Sky Vista. Maybe we’ll check out the camping next time.”

Allyn pouted prettily, but went ahead and made the online reservations.

They now had reservations for three days and two nights at the Sky Vista Hotel. It grew colder over the next week and the leaves that had been just turning colors began to drift slowly down. Fall was finally here and the mountains would be much colder than in the summer. Nicky and Allyn dressed more warmly now. Over breakfast one Saturday, the day before their vacation, in fact, Nicky announced,

“I’ve been thinking I’d like to start inviting some of my family over. I thought I’d start with Margo and her brood. I love those kids and I’d like to see them. Today if possible. Would that be a problem for you?”

“Of course not, silly,” Allyn replied, “But I don’t want to make it too late a night since we’re leaving tomorrow morning.

“No they’ll probably come during the day since it’s Saturday.”

Margo and Kevin brought the oldest twins, but left the new babies with Madeleine and Shep. 

Right away Nicky and Kevin put in a video game. Maddie and Jamie went upstairs to the “nursery in waiting” because Allyn had told them they could use the play-station up there.

Kevin noticed the large portrait of Nicky, done by Madeleine when he was a teenager. It was hard to believe Nicky ever looked that sweet and innocent, he thought, even at fourteen. Nicky's rep as a "rake and a ramblin' man" preceded him, even with his family. They hoped his abrupt switch to a husband and family man was a long term commitment and not a temporary and brief aberration.

Allyn watched the men for a while and then went to the kitchen to fix dinner while Margo sat at the dining room table and chatted with her. Shortly thereafter she told Kevin to call Maddie and Jamie down. After the meal the kids took over the video game while the adults chatted. 

Kevin and Margo left around supper time. To Nicky’s surprise, as he was waving goodbye to the back of the Candeloro Explorer, along came Harvey and Lori Ferguson.

“Well, we were up in town and decided to just swing by and see if you were home,” Harvey said, “Was that Kevin and Margo driving off?”

“Yep, they and the twins were here for dinner.”

“Maybe we should just go on home; you two may have had enough company for the day,” Harvey said.

“No, no,” Nicky waved a hand casually, “Don’t sweat it, kid. Come on in, glad to have you.”

Allyn was anxious to get to know Lori; they were the two “sister-in-laws” of the family. So they sat down in the dining room to enjoy some conversation. It was way too noisy in the living room where Nicky and Harvey were playing a video game. Lori cleared her throat and remarked,

“Um, I notice you have a high chair here in the dining room…”

Ally laughed,

“Oh, I see what you might be thinking. No, I’m not pregnant, but Nicky definitely does want to have children as soon as possible. I would like time alone together for a while before we do that. We’re compromising by taking a couple trips this year and then we’ll be working on it. He even insisted that we decorate the nursery NOW.”

“Oh, we did our nursery ahead, too, but it was me who wanted to set it up ahead of time,” Lori admitted, “We’re waiting the same as you, to travel and enjoy each other while we have plenty of time so, of course, that means no babies yet."

Lori smiled, but looked a bit regretful.

They yakked some more about life in Pleasantview; about being newlyweds and new home owners and Allyn starting a cooking class soon.

“Well, I guess I’d better get Harvey home,” Lori said finally, “He and Nicky have played rock-paper-scissors long enough they’re getting a little peevish about it when they lose. Men are like little boys a lot of the time—did you ever notice?”

Allyn nodded with a smile, “Yep, they can be a real pain in the butt, but then they can be so sweet.”

Lori nodded,

“And besides that; these Ferguson men are so darned sexy.”

Both women giggled like school girls.

Nicky and Allyn thanked Harvey and Lori for stopping by and were wished a great vacation by the young couple.

They were packed and ready and would be off at first light...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shep Ferguson Ch. 7 The Rest of the Clan Pt. 3

Margo and Kevin Candeloro

It was getting close to Margo’s due date—and it was getting close to the twins birthday as well. Jamie and Maddie had been a delight for their parents as toddlers, even if it did get a bit hectic at times. Margo had to take frequent naps so that meant Kevin put in extra daddy hours. It was lucky that he worked at home, continuing to write his well-received novels.

Life was to become not just hectic, but almost frenzied at times, because Margo gave birth to twins again, this time both girls.

The babies were named Margaret Lenore and Mallen de Santis. Margaret was named for Margo's paternal grandmother and Mallen (pronounced like "Allen" with an "M") was named for Kevin's paternal great-grandmother who had come to Atlanta from Italy many years ago. It was decided that Margaret would go by the nickname "Marnie" rather than Margo.

“No ‘Little Margo’ for her,” Margo vowed, “That would make me Big Margo. No sir, no way.”

It seemed to their parents that almost immediately the older twins were ready for their birthday.

“I never dreamed children grew up so quickly,” Margo remarked to Kevin. 

With the new babies in the nursery, Maddie and Jamie were moved upstairs. They didn’t mind, they loved their new bedroom and they weren’t afraid to be up there without Margo and Kevin because they had each other. 

Every day Maddie seemed to look more like her namesake; her grandmother Madeleine Ferguson. Margo had hoped she would be blond like her father and, indeed, Maddie’s hair was blond, but it was actually platinum like Madeleine’s had once been. Jamie had brown hair like Margo and seemed to be an even combination of Kevin and Margo so far. But he definitely looked like a Ferguson around the ears.

Maddie was an energetic and cheerful child who thought even an early morning thunderstorm was something to celebrate.  She couldn’t wait until it was time to go to school and she could wear her new raincoat and splash through the puddles. Jamie was turning out to be more pragmatic and slower to show his feelings, and was perfectly content to play quietly while they waited for the school bus. 

With the twins in school there soon began a parade of youngster who came for play-dates or even impulsively simply decided to get off the bus with the twins. Mindful of the parents, Margo or Kevin immediately called them to let them know where their children were.

One of the first little visitors was the sweet-tempered Kirstie Burb:

One morning when Jamie and Maddie left for school Margo had to plan an extra nice dinner; Jamie's classmate Loni Faye Hammond was coming over after school. Her mother and Margo had talked on the phone and made the play-date ahead of time. Both of the children had been requesting this for a while.

Jamie was quite taken with the effervescent Loni Faye, while she was as charmed by his elfin ears as she had been with his cousin Robby’s. Jamie whispered that he got them from his Grandma Ferguson, but you couldn’t tell she had pointed ears because her hair covered them. Loni Faye found this grandmother with ears like an elf or maybe even an alien quite fascinating; first Robby had told her and now Jamie had confirmed it. She hoped once more that she would meet Grandma Ferguson someday. During the course of the afternoon and early evening Maddie got to know Loni Faye better and the two outgoing girls hit it off. They would become fast friends in the months and years ahead.


Kevin was the one who usually helped Maddie and Jamie with their homework, but he and Margo shared duties with the babies. Meanwhile, now that the babies were here and when she could manage it, Margo worked in her greenhouse. The plants and her fruit trees had been sadly neglected during her pregnancy. It took a while but she was finally able to bring them back to life, although one or two pepper plants ended up in the compost bin.

Cousin Robby Blackford was a favorite with both of the twins. He was older than them and they accepted his every utterance as gospel. This was just one more reason he was especially fond of Jamie and Maddie. It was nice to be looked up to and applauded. He loved his little brother Ryan who also thought Robby was the greatest, but a toddler’s point of view was not the same as his cousins’ considered opinion.

When Heath Ottomas was their guest all three of the kids colored after supper, but then Maddie went off to take one of her interminable bubble baths while Jamie and Heath played Rock, Paper, Scissors out on the back porch.

Kevin said to Margo, “If she takes this long in the bathroom when she’s a child; what will we do when she hits her teens?”

Even though their days were busy and long, Kevin and Margo were happy that they now had the large family that they’d dreamed of when they were first married. Would there be more children? They had not yet decided.

One Saturday in October Margo was hurrying her family through their lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches. Earlier that day Kevin had helped Jamie with his homework while Maddie played with the blocks. She was an earlybird and had already completed her schoolwork. Margo was hurrying them because her sisters were going to arrive any minute. They rarely had time to get together, all four of them, so, when she heard Gillian was pregnant, Margo said they should all have a gabfest at her place. 

When the girls arrived, Maddie was already fishing at the pond, but Kevin and Jamie were just finishing up. As he made his way to the front door to join Maddie, Jamie gave a shy smile to his aunts. He knew all of them, of course, but so many grown women in the room made him a little jumpy, although he thought they smelled really good. They were all looking at him with encouraging and fond smiles and were telling him to catch a lot of fish, but that didn’t make him any less apprehensive. Kevin had greeted the women warmly but he had to laugh a little as he cleared the table and prepared to go upstairs and paint. He thought to himself; that’s okay, son, too many women in a room sometimes even make grown men feel a little overwhelmed or perhaps just overstimulated.

When they had the living room to themselves the girls talked on many subjects; husbands, children, recipes and fashion. Even current affairs were discussed with varying opinions. Eventually, though, they knew they would get to the latest gossip in town. Debbie, the youngest sister at seventeen, and the only unmarried one, was a fount of information on that, while Gillian, Margo and Holly were now all too busy with their children to know who was seeing who. Of course, most of her information was hearsay, but she had access to what the others thought was a fairly reputable teenage grapevine. 

Around three in the afternoon Margo served cheesecake to her sisters and called Kevin to come downstairs and join them. It was her sister Gillian’s recipe and she hoped it tasted okay. Gillian was the ace chef of the sisters, but their sister-in-law, Lori, was jockeying for position. Her mother had been a chef and had her own cooking show at one time, so maybe it gave her an unfair advantage. Gillian didn’t feel that way, though, she’d never been a snob about her cooking. It was after that Kevin suggested he get a photo of the sisters out in front of the house.

From left to right, the beauteous Ferguson sisters:

Holly Lomax, Gillian Blackford, Margo Candeloro and Debbie Ferguson

An hour or two later Holly left for home. Gillian went in to help Margo with the babies when they woke up and then Margo had to check out her sister’s pregnant belly.

“I predict a baby will be arriving soon,” she said with a grin.

Gillian laughed,

“Wow, what a psychic, Margo!” she looked over at Debbie and winked, “Come’on, kid, I’ll drop you off at Mom and Dad’s.”

The all sister get-together was over, but the girls had decided they would have another one soon, and this time invite their two sister-in-laws, Lori and Allyn.