Saturday, September 17, 2011

Author's Note: there's been a slight hitch...

Usually I try to keep my family updates together even if the chapter is 8 parts long. However; recently I've got ahead of myself in play with two or three families. Their story has moved into the Christmas holidays and I don't really want to publish them until December. Sooo, the updates will be a bit choppy with maybe 2 chapters on a family, then 2 chapters on another family until I can catch them all up to the holidays.

Bear with me, if you will and thanks!

Lomax Family Ch. 8 We're Moving

Mike and Lucy Lomax finally found and bought their new home; a small two story only blocks from Andy and Holly. There was no pool, but the house had a large yard and they could certainly put in a pool later if they wanted to do so.

The front door opened into the hall and to the right was the elevated front living room that they thought was charming and unique.

There was an eat-in kitchen, but no dining room. Since they didn't really care for formal entertaining, this was not an issue for Mike and Lucy.

Also on the ground floor was the master bedroom; an en suite bathroom that was also accessible from the nursery. There was a second full bath for the guests. Upstairs were two more bedrooms and a bathroom, but the the time being they did not even worry about decorating them. In fact, for the moment they were using them for storage and Mike's exercise machine.

Mike had been encouraging Lucy to give up her career in journalism so that they could have more time together and on the hope that she might conceive in the next two or three years. His working hours were much shorter than hers. Now that they had their own place they had definitely changed their views about waiting five years more to start a family. 

Lucy knew that Mike sincerely believed she should write another book and it would be much easier if she wasn't working full time. Her first published book had been a thinly veiled semi-biographical fiction that was completely based on her father. It was titled "My Dad's a Kook". Her father, Josh Burb, never even seemed to know it was about him.  She loved him but his behavior had always been so random and mystifying at times that she had grown up knowing that she could get affection from her father--when he was not distracted with grandiose ideas and schemes--but her mother was the one she could count on. Like the time he showed up at her wedding where everyone was dressed formally wearing a pair of sloppy cargo pants and a sport shirt. Or when he quite his respectable day job to work as a DJ at the Club Dante when she was in high school. He wore shiny pants, a scarf around his neck and tight shirts that were unbuttoned halfway down. It was embarrassing at the time. 

The book had sold quite well and so now she gave up her job at the newspaper and began to work seriously on her writing, trying to complete a certain number of pages each morning.Sometimes, when Mike was at work and she got writer’s block or was just a little lonesome and bored, she’d go over to the Good Eats Café and talk with her father-in-law, Larry Max. He was becoming more of a father to her than Josh was. The food there was delicious—just like the meals Larry Max had cooked when they all lived at the big house—and she was getting in the habit of having a late lunch there every day. She liked the warm atmosphere of the little restaurant and, when it wasn’t too busy in the late afternoon, she sometimes brought her notes and sat at a table in the corner and wrote. It was a good place to people-watch too, and that was important to her writing.

Of course, Lucy wrote at home, too. Often at night while Mike got online and gave financial advice, she sat in the living room and wrestled with her muse. Mike was the one to go to for financial advice since he was at the top of the heap now in the business field, and he was making quite a bit of money as an online advisor. The helicoptor still picked him up four days a week and took him to his office in the big city, then returned him to their new home at 6 pm. The neighbors hated the noise, but they were impressed with his obvious importance, so they didn’t complain too much.For some reason Lucy had found that she could not seem to write as well on the computer as she did by hand. 

As for their free time, Mike and Lucy still loved gaming and were very competitive with each other.

With more time now for just traipsing about Pleasantview and Bluewater Village Lucy frequently went shopping for clothes or books and then always ended the morning or afternoon with a visit to the cafe. Occasionally she ran into not only friends, but family members while she was out and about. She had been checking out the latest sale at Amelia's Closet when two of her in-laws walked in, Andy and Holly. She was happy to see Holly especially; they'd become close when they were all living at the big house. Of course Andy and Holly were still living there with the twins. It was crazy how they hadn't seen each other much since Mike and Lucy moved to the new house, but they were so busy with their babies they didn't get out very often. When she and Holly began to reminisce about their university days, they suddenly remembered the school cheer and--feeling like schoolgirls again for a moment--they lost all propriety and did the cheer right there in the store. Andy just kept going through the clothing racks pretending they were complete strangers to him. That just made them laugh even more.

Mentioning that she'd probably be having lunch at the Good Eats Cafe, Lucy asked if they could join her. They had a new live-in nanny and so she hoped they would, but they had just finished a late breakfast of pancakes cooked by Holly so they weren't hungry at all and, in fact, were headed to the mini-mall. They had recently finished redoing some of the rooms at the house, even knocking out walls, and needed to get a few last items for decor. 

So Lucy went on to the cafe and speculated that if she didn't start eating at home a little more she would lose what cooking abilities she had. Holly had been the one who cooked most of the meals when they were all living together, and Lucy had done the dishes and cleaned up things, but her long hours had kept her from doing much cooking.The meal at the cafe was enjoyable as always and she could see that the service was getting better as Larry Max learned the restaurant business the hard way, but she determined that she would start working on her culinary skills at home. She loved visiting with her father-in-law but, after all, he had things to do."Maybe eating there two or three times a week would be okay instead of almost every day," she admitted. But she knew that going there and writing at that little corner table was just one of those guilty pleasures that was hard to give up. Maybe she could learn to enjoy the library just as much, but she doubted it. If only there was friendly book store in town with plenty of seating and a coffee bar. "Oh, well," she thought, "The thing for me to do now is to get back to that oven and see if I can make something to eat without burning it."

Next update: Author's Note "There's Been a Slight Hitch"

Author's note on Chelsea Lomax HERE


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lomax Family Ch. 7 Larry Max Moves On

Finally the “two couples and a dad” started discussing the big house in earnest and after much arguing and laughing the outcome was that Mike and Lucy preferred to move to their own smaller place while Andy and Holly wanted to stay at the house. 

And Larry Max had a bombshell for them; he wanted to buy a new house of his own, too. He was finally ready to move on with his life. He’d already spotted the place and he passed around a photo. It was very sleek and modern on the outside, but what yard there was didn’t seem suitable for much landscaping or gardening.

“But, Daddy, there’s no place for your greenhouse, in fact there’s hardly any yard at all!” Mike said.

“I know, but I really wouldn’t have time to work in it any way. I’ve spotted a little restaurant in Bluewater Village that I’d like to buy and refurbish,” he looked at their astonished faces and hastened to explain, “It wouldn’t be a fancy place at all, just a little café open for breakfast and late lunches available to the business people there. I won’t try to stay open into evening, not yet anyway—probably just 6 am to 3:30 pm. And it will be down home, comfort food—the kind I feature on the show.”

“What about your show, then?” Lucy asked timidly.
“I’ve given my notice,” Larry Max replied with an amused smile--he knew the kids just did not know what to make of him and he was enjoying that for the moment and then he added, “I think I’m going to call it 'The Good Eats Café’.”

“What will you do for—I mean, won’t you be bored when you don’t have the greenhouse and the pond?--not that you can’t come over here and fish,” Andy hastened to add.

“Well, I hope I won’t be bored…I plan on finally spending a little time dating once I find a woman who is interested.”

His sons and their wives all looked back and forth at each other.

“Um, do you have someone special in mind?” the forthright Holly asked.

“Nope, not really. So I’m going to have to get out there a little more. I’ll probably hit some clubs on weekends, maybe even try one of those online dating services.” His sons couldn’t have been more surprised if he’d suddenly danced on the table. Lucy and Holly looked at each other and smiled in understanding. It was time. Larry Max was ready to let go of depressing memories, certainly he deserved some happiness of his own. Leaving behind the house would help him clear out the cobwebs that remained from the painful events that he’d gone through there.

Now that the plans had been discussed and finalized. Mike and Lucy began house-hunting and Larry Max bought the restaurant and began remodeling it. He taped the last three shows for the season and was now an unemployed former TV cooking show host.

The twins were growing fast and kept Andy and especially Holly busy pretty much all the time, but having children was something they had looked forward to and were now enjoying. Once they were the sole occupants of the house they planned to make over several rooms to suit the needs of what they hoped would be their growing family and to this end they spent several nights making up sketches and plans to redo two rooms upstairs and one downstairs.

When Larry bought the house and moved in Mike, Lucy, Andy and Holly finally got a chance to check it out. The floor plan was definitely unique.

Upon entering the front door they stepped into a small but light and airy living room. There was an arched entryway into the huge kitchen, definitely designed for someone who loved to be in the kitchen.

In the center of the house were two staircases going to the second floor. Across the other side of the first floor there was also a den with a big flat screen TV, seating for five, a bookcase and a stereo system. The only bathroom on the first floor was a half-bath off this den.

Upstairs Larry Max was using the second bedroom as the place for his music, with a guitar, bass and piano in there as well as a book case and armchair for a little reading. There was an en suite bathroom off this room, too.

The master bedroom was large enough for a desk and dresser and a sliding glass door led to the deck that overlooked the tiny pool. The master bathroom was tucked away but definitely the jewel of the place—large, masculine and yet built to relax in luxury.

“Wow, what a bachelor pad, Daddy, you must have big plans for your sex—um, I mean, social life!,” Mike marveled, sounding a little jealous. He looked at Lucy; he was somewhat startled and offended because she had just elbowed him sharply in the ribs.

“Ouch! What’d I say?”

Lucy just frowned and looked away in irritation.

“Great kitchen, Dad,” Holly smiled, “You’ll be able to do all the cooking you want and still have lots of room for your guests. Looks like it would be great for throwing casual parties.”

The first guests had dropped by the day Larry Max moved in and he knew all three of these neighbors; David Lassiter, Heather Ferguson and Bridget Ottomas, who had just recently moved back to Pleasantview. The weather had grown cooler and Larry Max fixed them a hearty lunch of chili con carne with a Caesar salad, cornbread, and pinto beans. Of course, there was freshly shredded cheddar and jack cheese, and chopped Vidalia onions to sprinkle over the chili. The friends stayed until evening and it was an encouraging first day in his new home.

Not long after the day his kids surveyed his new digs, Larry Max made calls to Mike, Corky, Andy and Chelsea to tell them that the restaurant would be ready in about a week and he hoped they’d come and bring their wives--and Chelsea her husband--to check it out. Free meals for family; now that sounded agreeable to all.

The cafe was still not running smoothly, however. Larry Max had originally thought he would do the cooking and just hire servers and a host. It soon became apparent that he would have to run around putting out brush fires a lot of the time so he hired an excellent cook, Jenna Blackford. She was not a professional chef but she knew how to cook the kind of meals Larry Max wanted and she was eager to try his recipes. He had to be careful not to call her Jenny—the names were too similar—but he could hardly ask her to change her name to work there. Then his host quit one memorable day so he was the host until he could hire someone else. As he learned his way around the restaurant business, he felt sure he could make it a success eventually, but it certainly was taking longer than he’d originally envisioned. 

On the first day off he had from the café, Larry Max decided to check out the Club Dante after dark. It was Wednesday, a very slow night at the club, but it was also their “Talent Night”. So he got up and played drums with the owner of the club, Dylan Ottomas, and the manager, his brother Brian Ottomas. It was a great jam session, but not many women came in that night. He decided he’d have to go there on a Friday night. Dylan had assured him that Friday night was "singles night" and many more women came, while Saturday somehow always seemed to be a "couples night".

So many hours and days had been consumed by the cafe that Larry Max hadn't had much time to work in his new kitchen or really to enjoy his new surroundings, even. And still he did not have much of a social life, but he was determined that would change. His remark about trying some of the online dating services had been meant to be funny, but it no longer seemed like a joke. He wondered if those things really worked or if they were a scam…