Young Valrae Ferguson talked her mother, Lori, into accompanying Val on a play date with her best friend, Scarlett Caswell. This was because Scarlett had a two year old sister who was very cute and Valrae had been urging her mother to consider having a baby.
The visit went well and Lori did spend some time playing with little Monie but, unfortunately Valrae's father, Harvey, said that Lori's new bakery had only been open a year and took a lot of her time. Too much time to be able to have a baby. A baby that would most likely turn out to be twins since both Harvey and Lori are twins and so are Gray and Valrae. He also pointed out that they were still living with Harvey's parents since their home burned to the ground and had not yet decided whether to rebuild or find another place entirely.
It was a potentially blistering Saturday morning when Harvey made the announcement to the family that they had decided not to rebuild the burned out house. They had just sold it, as was.
"We bought another place," he said, and his blue, blue eyes went in turn to each face at the table and then came back to Lori who gave him a slight nod of encouragement.
"Is it far away?" Mamie asked, concern on her softly aging face. She'd loved having them so close all these years and especially now that they'd stayed with her and Grandpa Shep. What if they moved out of town? Her husband put his hand over hers,
"Now, Madeleine, it would be much easier for them to be in Bluewater where the bakery and gym are."
Harvey shook his head no,
"We're staying in Pleasantview, don't worry; after breakfast I'll show you the place."
Gray and Valrae instantly began to squirm in their seats with excitement,
"I'm full, I don't want any more pancakes," Gray insisted. He loved his mother's sausage pancakes and he'd only demolished one and a half, whereas she usually had to stop him after 4. But the thought of seeing where they would be living was just too much.
"Me, too," Valrae tried to disguise her breakfast which was mostly uneaten, by conspicuously crumpling up her napkin and tossing it nonchalantly over the plate of food.
Lori smiled at Harvey,
"I think you'd better stop a minute and do it now or no one will eat their breakfast."
"Oh, my goodness, I'll have to clear the table first and--" Mamie said, jumping to her feet.
Grandpa Shep was looking down at his plate with clear regret; his appetite hadn't been diminished one bit. Nothing ever did that especially when a steaming hot plate of sausage pancakes covered with boysenberry syrup was concerned.
"Don't do that, Mom, this won't take long at all and we can be right back here," Harvey said.
With everyone but Lori confused yet filled with curiosity, Harvey led them all out to the front yard. Lori stood at his side but the twins and his parents were looking at him questioningly.
"Turn around and face the street," he instructed them, "I want you to look out at the town from here. Look to the left and all the way to the right. Then tell me what you see."
He stood behind Valrae and put his hands on her little shoulders. Gray spoke first, pointing to his left.
"Over there I see our first house we ever lived in and the Little Woods on the corner."
The "Little Woods" was a vacant lot with a large stand of trees on it. The twins had sometimes played fort there when their parents didn't know; Harvey and Lori being strict about respecting other people's property. Grandpa Shep knew, but he pretended not to see.
"And behind the Little Woods I see the Burb house," Valrae added.
"You bought back your old house?" Mamie asked, "Isn't it too small?"
Harvey didn't answer her but only said,
"What else do you see?"
Their eyes scanned across all the way to the ocean. Grandpa Shep spoke up, looking at the barn red house,
"I see the Wilson place, Mark put it up for sale? Say, that's some prime property. There's only three of us in town right on the bay; your folks, Lori, the Wilsons and us. You'll get that additional little house that they use as an office for his car restoring business. I never thought he'd sell it, though. He has the biggest pond in town besides the one at the park.
"You don't see anything else?" Lori prompted, looking perplexed. How could they not see it?
"Thee is a fourth house on the bay; what about the Brace-Gidion mansion?" Harvey asked, "That big pink Victorian?"
The mansion had been empty nearly 20 years. The owner had kept the large yard in repair, but there were windows broken here and there and then boarded up due to kids throwing rocks on a dare.
"The ghost house!" Gray muttered, awe in his voice and fright on his face. He had loved talking to the ghost captain on the derelict pirate ship on Twikkii Island, but the chance of waking up one night to chains rattling and a shadowy apparition hovering at the end of his bed was another thing entirely.
Meanwhile, Valrae clasped her hands together in rapture,
"Oh, it's so awesomel, Daddy, so quaint and old-fashioned!"
"You didn't, Harvey," Mamie's hand flew to her cheek in shock.
"Of course, there will be a lot of work to do, but we think it will be an amazing project, Mom, and we got it for a song. Don't forget Harvey is an architect," Lori said and she smiled indulgently at him, "A really wonderful architect who has been away from it for far too long."
"It's a beautiful old house with good bones; it just needs some special attention," Harvey obviously relished the idea, "Lori and I want to keep it as much like original as possible allowing for a modern day family living there and requiring some new technology."
"Well, I'm glad you will be so close; the kids can easily walk over here in a few seconds to use the pool or the pond," Mamie said hopefully.
"That's true," Harvey said, "Although I expect we will put in a pool at some point. The yard is hilly but not impossible."
"It's going to be the showplace of the town by the time we're done," Lori smiled.
"You'll be competing with that huge new home they built on the other side of town, young lady," Grandpa Shep warned with a grin.
"Yes, it will be bigger than ours, but we'll have more character," Lori teased back.
"Well, that's all the news for now. We will be closing soon and when we get the keys we will all go over and you can have the tour," Harvey said, turning and leading the way back to the kitchen to their no longer steaming, but still warm pancakes.
We are going to live in a mansion! And Mumma told me it is all old-fashioned inside and I just love that! We may even be able to keep some of the old furniture there to use. I have been looking up Victorian houses online and they are so pretty. She says ours will be beautiful when she and Daddy are done. And Gray and I will have our own rooms at last. It's exciting but Mumma says it will take some time and a lot of work. We'll stay here with Grandpa Shep and Mamie for now. It IS called the ghost house by everyone in town, but Gray and Daddy have both talked to the ship captain ghost at Twikkii, so they can talk to any ghosts and ask them politely to leave. Unless it is a beautiful lady ghost and then she can stay but not in my room.
A lot of times my Aunt Debbie puts pictures up online about her life in Pinenut Dorm at University. She is Grandpa Shep and Mamie's youngest child. She was adopted as a little girl, but that was before I was born when Daddy and Aunt Holly were kids.
She is dating Brand Generica, and her cousin and best friend, Jessamyn Blackford, is going with Brand's friend, Danny Williams. Brand has long hair which I don't like long hair on boys, do you? But...he is still kinda cute. I guess. I think Danny is cuter though, even though he wears glasses. So I think Aunt Debbie and Jessamyn should swap boyfriends so Aunt Debbie can have the cutest boy. I mean, they are best friends, couldn't they work something out? I like our cousin Jessamyn, but my first loyalty must be to Aunt Debbie.
Mumma said in her strictest voice that I was definitely NOT to mention any of this to Aunt Debbie when I talk to her on Facebook, or when she comes home. Then she added,
"It's none of your business anyway, young lady."
But I overheard Mumma (yes, I know, I was eavesdropping again) telling Daddy about my idea of swapping boyfriends and she was laughing. I couldn't hear what Daddy said about that because his voice is so low that if you're not right in the room with him or unless he is yelling like this: "Who opened two cartons of milk--again!" all you can hear is a deep rumble. You can't tell what words he is saying. So I only get to hear half of their conversation most of the time. Rats.
Here is Mamie with Aunt Debbie when she first came to live with them, isn't she adorable?
Here are some of Aunt Debbie's pictures on Facebook. 1st one: Aunt Debbie and Danny. He is Jess's b.f., see, isn't he cute? 2nd one is Aunt Debbie and her friend Colleen playing pool in the lobby at Pinenut Dorm.
Below the 1st one is Jess, Danny, Aunt Debbie and Brand. The 2nd photo is Brand. He does have pretty eyes, I just don't like his hair or that wispy thing on his chin. I like boys to have a regular mustache like Daddy mainly. And the third photo is of Aunt Debbie playing poker with Danny, Sierra and Drew.
Grandpa Shep always looks at Aunt Debbie's photos on her Facebook page and says,
"I hope she's managing to squeeze a few academic classes into her busy social schedule."
When he says that it makes Mumma giggle. When it comes to Grandpa Shep, Mumma just loves him to death and she teases him all the time and he teases right back. He says it makes him feel young again. Daddy looks a lot like him when you look at old photos or the portraits on the wall of Grandpa when he was younger and even when he was a private eye. When Mamie was young she was a famous society beauty in San Francisco. I've seen the pictures and paintings and she looked like a movie star. Grandpa Shep met her when he was on a case--isn't that exciting and dramatic?
I have to go now on account of Mumma just looked in here and said "Lights Out, sweetie".
I love you and you love me,
Valrae Melora Ferguson