Somehow the Ottomas family home had become a mecca for all the Pleasantview kids, even thought it was the farthest away from the center of town (except for the Cullen house buried in the trees and halfway up the mountain).
At suppertime the meal often spread across the long dining room table and over to the kitchen island because anywhere from one to four additional kids had been invited to stay.
Randy Hanzlik was a frequent guest at the house; he was in the same class as Rocky and they loved to play cops and robbers. The living room was especially good for this since there was a big over-stuffed sofa, two over-stuffed love seats and an over-stuffed armchair. All made for soft landings when one had been shot to death.
Their preoccupation with a life of crime meant that little North could have the video games all to himself which was fine with him.
Brian still worked on keeping the spacious yard up between gardener visits and dog duties were divided between Meadow and Heath most of the time.
Following Heath's example Brook was learning to cook. But with so many people in the family and usually a couple guests Meadow made supper with her, grilling chicken outside while Brook made salmon or pork chops inside. The meals tended to be served with a different main course at each end of the table and the kids were used to seeing a big spread in between with plenty of vegetable offerings and fruit for dessert.
With the kids all in school, Meadow could now occasionally have a leisurely afternoon shopping and one of her favorite places was the Westbrook Candle & Gift Shoppe in Bluewater Village.
Elvis, while a huge scary looking dog if you didn't know better, was actually so laid back and friendly that even the gardener couldn't resist him. The usually tight lipped and grumpy woman was often seen petting and talking to him.
He loved to snooze in the sun especially when his family was out and about in the yard.
Brian was teaching his youngest son, North, to fish in their tiny pond. They usually threw the fish back. Meadow said they probably had the most tender-mouthed fish in the county and they should give the poor things a break and go fish at the park.
North had also expressed interest in learning the guitar and keyboard and was hinting that the family should get a real piano. There wasn't much more room left in the house though and certainly none in the music studio so it was unlikely his "hints" would prove successful. However his father was all for teaching him some other instruments.
Rocky used to love to play in the toilet and create watery mayhem as a toddler. Although he now stayed away from the toilet, thank goodness, when the sink recently overflowed he managed to stomp in the puddles for a while before he ran off to tell big brother Heath there was a slight problem.
"How long did you play in this?" Heath demanded when he went to the sink, wrench in hand.
"Huh?" Rocky hedged with an innocent look on his face.
"Your socks and shoes are soaked, squirt. How dumb do you think I am? Now the water has spread across the whole floor. Guess who's gonna mop it up?"
Heath had to laugh,
"Negatory. You are gonna mop it up as soon as I'm done so don't go anywhere."
Heath started banging on the faucet while Rocky watched. Ordinarily he looked up to his brother but sometimes he was as bossy as Daddy and Momma. Oh, well, next year he'd have his birthday and then they would all have to give him respect. He went to go get the mop and bucket, his shoes squishing with every step.
Ty Generica and Skylar Scott dropped by one afternoon and they and Brook and Willow ended up playing backgammon. Ty was giving Brook lovestruck glances but it was no use. She was friendly but nothing more because most of her attention and effort was into qualifying for University. She was thinking of going into design. She was sixteen and a junior so she had a while to go, but school and an eventual career still occupied her mind a lot. She liked male attention she just preferred to keep it casual. Brook knew what she wanted and was determined to fulfill her dreams.
Willow, on the other hand, changed direction every other week thinking perhaps she'd be a vet, or a model or actress. Lately she'd decided she would go to art school and become an artist, specifically painting.
"I can understand wanting to pursue that, Punkin, and your mother and I both think you're quite good," Brian told her, "But it's an unsteady profession for the most part; remember you want to be able to support yourself. You've been saying you want to have an apartment by the time you're 21."
"Oh, but I don't need anything big or expensive; I'll be so busy at work and going out. Just as long as there's a bed, a bathroom and a hot plate, I'll be fine, Daddy. I can just eat out a lot at diners and Bill's Snappy Service and fix ramen noodles on the hot plate," she dismissed breezily.
"A minimalist, huh?" Brian couldn't help smiling, "Well, you have plenty of time to decide. You may feel completely different by the time you graduate."
Nodding vaguely, Willow went in the living room and flopped down gracelessly on the love seat. Brook, who had been listening rather than watching TV, now sat down daintily on the adjacent love seat. She learned toward Willow and hissed,
"Really, Willow! Why do you say stuff like that? Endless ramen and cheeseburgers?"
"Sounds good to me," Willow replied stubbornly.
"Well, how are you going to paint if you have this dinky little one-room dump, probably with only one tiny window?"
"So I'll go to the park to paint!" she tossed off, "Besides, I have to go to art school first. I'll figure out something; you have to suffer for your art to be good."
Brook rolled her eyes, but her tone was a bit kinder,
"You're so infantile. I thought you wanted to be a vet."
"I did, but then I realized I'd have to go to school for forever. Anyway, I don't like to make plans and sink them in concrete like you. I might change my mind next year."
"Ha! You'll change your mind next week," Brook muttered darkly, "You're so random."
"Why are you giving me grief about this? Just worry about yourself, Miss-Hospital-Corners."
The girls glared at each other and went to their separate corners...
Next blog update: Brian Ottomas Ch. 24 It's Raining Kids Pt. 2