Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Holiday Tour - A Story in Two Chapters for the Last Week of October

The Holiday Tour
A Story in Two Chapters for the Last Week of October

Margaret Traylor lived alone in a large Tudor house on Simpson Street, the same house in which she’d grown up and the only one in which she’d ever lived.  Her eight year old dachshund, Emmett, shared her quarters and was the reason Margaret never considered herself alone in the slightest, having always preferred dogs to humans, a fact she chose to keep to herself, but one that gave her great comfort nonetheless.   Her house sat close to the street in the center of a quartet of maple trees that burned red as flame in October and rang out with birdsong in May.  On this icy December morning however, they stood still as silver, their  bony-knuckled branches reaching out over the stone wall that bordered the garden in the all too often successful attempt to snare the coat collar of a distracted passerby.  It was dull work for them today, though, as the weather was keeping most of the neighbourhood well behind their painted doors and curtained windows.  The wind was up.  Great gusts of it raced between the old houses like handfuls of quilting needles in search of the ungloved hand or unmufflered cheek.

In the warmth of her kitchen, Margaret and Emmett sat sharing their breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, the lights of the sitting room Christmas tree dancing red and green on the paneled wall behind them.  Emmett, having only just returned from his necessary morning tour of the back garden, had no intention whatsoever of subjecting his shorthaired coat to any more of this dreadful weather, but Margaret was, even now, planning her day with great excitement, the sort of excitement that could only result from six months of delighted anticipation. 

 It had started the moment the brochure sailed through the letter box of her forest green front door.  There it had lain in a beam of sunlight, its pages aglow with the colours of Christmas, red lettering announcing the 21st Annual Grove Hill Holiday Home Tour.  Margaret had snatched it up like a gold piece and tore it open at once.  Would Buckden House possibly be included this year at last?   Margaret had taken a deep breath, opened the brochure and gasped.  There it was!  Stop Number Four on a tour of seven holiday decorated homes.  

Buckden House sat on a hill at the end of Simpson Street, near enough to Grove Lake to be colder in the winter than any other house in town.  A damp wind whipped round it in any season;  the stone lions that stood sentry by the wrought iron gate wore a constant coat of green moss.  For all of her forty-seven years, Margaret had longed to see inside, slowing her stride every time she strolled past in the hopes of catching but a glimpse inside one of the rooms that had captured her imagination since childhood.  No one she knew had ever been acquainted with the owners of Buckden.  Its occupants had remained mysterious to everyone for as long as Margaret could remember.  But she’d always loved the house with its stained glass conservatory and its cobblestoned drive.  She remembered a Halloween party there when she was nine.  She’d climbed out her window to sit on the roof, listening and watching.  She could recall the long black cars snaking down Simpson Street on that long ago late October evening, the bell-like laughter of unseen women drifting across the lake, the orange chinese lanterns hanging from the maple trees like ripe and foreign fruit.

Though she’d kept a close eye on Buckden for all these many years, she’d never seen anyone coming and going, never seen a package delivered, never heard voices from the other side of the mullioned windows.  The garden, though lavish with roses and stock, was never seen to be tended by anyone.   Margaret could well remember the mystery of Buckden crackling through many adult conversations when she was a child, but without a shred of informative kindling to fan its searching flame, it had died down to ash for the people of Grove Hill.  No one gave the old house much thought anymore.  No one, that is, except Margaret.

When the For Sale sign had appeared by the gates of Buckden last September, speculative whispers had started up once again.  Littleton and Marks, the realtors in charge of the sale, had nothing particularly pertinent to contribute by way of explanation as to the owners of the house.  They said they’d been contracted, via email, to handle the sale by a group of investors known only as Daphne, Crabtree and Styles.  Margaret supposed putting Buckden on the Holiday Home Tour constituted an effort on the part of Freddy Marks to show the house to as many people as possible in one fell swoop.  Not a bad idea at all, for the Home Tour was always well-attended and the subject of discussion at many a ladies luncheon throughout the year.  The women of Grove Hill longed to see inside one another’s houses with a curiousity that nudged uncomfortably close to nosiness, even occasionally veering off into jealously, but their motives could be elevated to a nobler plane since the proceeds for the tour always went to a worthy charity. 

Margaret took one last sip of tea and sat her china cup back into its saucer with a rattle that caused Emmett, now curled up by the stove, to slowly open one eyelid.

“Don’t worry, “ Margaret said, smiling down at the comfortably situated dog.  “You don’t have to come along, Emmett.  I know it’s too cold for you today.” 

The little dachshund’s tail thumped vigorously on his red tartan bed.  She bent to scratch him behind one floppy brown ear, straightening up to pull on a pair of red fair isle gloves.  Buttoning her coat up at her throat, she pulled its hood carefully up over her hair and headed for the door, pausing once on the front porch to breathe in a lungful of frigid morning air before making her way gingerly down the stone stairs to the front garden pathway.  Opening the front gate, she turned to see if Emmett was in his usual spot at the window, then laughed to herself at his absence.   Too cold for a formal goodbye, I suppose.

Lined as it was with the town’s grandest houses, Simpson Street was a favourite route, its pavements often full of joggers, dog walkers and baby strollers.  She supposed it was due to the early hour as well as to the icy nature of the morning that Margaret found the street uncharacteristically deserted.  Several of Simpson’s oldest homes were scheduled to be on today’s home tour, but as Margaret had been inside most of those many times over the years, only Buckden held any fascination for her today and she passed these others by with only a cursory glance at the extravagant wreaths adorning each door.  The Stonefield boys had been by delivering their handmade wreaths, she thought.  Always a treat this time of year. By the time she’d passed the third house scheduled to be on the tour, it began to occur to her that the usual crowds waiting outside each location were noticeably absent.  In fact, if she hadn’t known they were only moments away from having their doors flung open to the throngs of Grove Park debutantes and dowagers, she’d have thought no one was home at any of them.  The windows were dark at Dower House, stop Number Two, and the curtains were drawn at The Peterson’s, an annual favourite due to Mandy Peterson’s magnificent gingerbread house that always adorned her dining room table.  Margaret knew she’d had an early start but found herself worrying that tour patrons were ignoring these normally crowded stops and, even now, were forming a long line of velvet blazers and tweed skirts at the front door of Buckden.  Her pace quickened in spite of the slippery pavement.  She’d so wanted to be the first inside.

As she neared the gates of Buckden, Margaret felt the temperature of the air plummet even further as the wind blowing up from Grove Lake reached her.  She stood where she’d so often stood, in front of the house’s tall black gates, looking up the drive to the great house beyond.  But this time was different.  This time the gates were wide open.  This time Margaret had a ticket to enter.  This time she was invited in.

To be continued on Halloween.....

This just in! 
 A very special thank you to the marvelous Joni Webb of the wildly, and deservedly, popular blog, Cote de Texas, for her generous post about the book! 
 Go say hello to Joni and read for yourself, HERE!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Answering Questions

Answering Questions

I had such a wonderful time doing an interview with the fetching London writer, Jayne Ferst. 
Jayne is the creator of the lovely blog, A Novice Novelist. 
 Her questions were imaginative, thought-provoking and so much fun to answer.  
Do visit the charming Jayne and take a look, HERE.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The response to the book has been overwhelming
 and Edward is completely tuckered out from watching me sign copies.  
You all are the best.
We’ll be back with more soon!
Till then, get your copy of From the House of Edward HERE!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Secret Revealed

A Secret Revealed

When I began From the House of Edward four years ago, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  My busy career in interior design had slowed with the American economy leaving my creative spirit antsy and bored, so I thought the little experiment of a blog would be an interesting diversion.  So little, so very little, did I know.  I began to write, and suddenly, to my amazement, doors began to fly open up and down the hallways of my imagination, some locked since childhood and each one more mysterious, more fascinating, than the last.  Finally all the musings and fancies that had flitted through my mind for years had somewhere to land.  I began to look forward to gathering ideas around me like a wildly embroidered cloak and sitting down each day to write.  And strangely enough, the more I wrote, the more generous was the muse; I found my dreams more colourful, my visions more fanciful, than ever before.  Writing this blog has been, and continues to be, a complete joy and through it I have met so many truly lovely people, people I now call dear friends.

For several years now, I have been getting letters from readers requesting the blog in book form.  At first, I dismissed the idea entirely.  But as those requests became more frequent I began, slowly and with no small amount of trepidation, to consider the possibility. So earlier this year I began the long process of editing and reworking the blog essays with a book in mind and now, ten months later, and happily in one of my favourite months of the year, I can say to you all that From the House of Edward is here.... in hardback with a lavender velvet spine and silver lettering. It’s perfectly gorgeous and I'm so tickled!  I’m also so very honoured to have the wonderful artist, Amber Alexander, as the illustrator.  Her magical colour paintings of Edward are throughout the book and I am thrilled beyond measure to have her lovely work grace its pages.

There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “ A book is like a garden carried in your pocket”.  That is exactly what I wish From the House of Edward to be for you. I hope it is a book you reach for on an icy December night, the book you tuck into your bag when you wander down a sun-dappled road on a April morning.  I hope you find it a bit of comfort in a difficult world, and a bit of fun in serious times.  And I hope you enjoy the stories of Edward, the big white dog,
 for none of this would have happened without him. 

Buy Your Autographed Copy HERE!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Tenth Month

The Tenth Month 

From off in the distance I see it.  
Coming through the forest like light from a lantern carried aloft in the hand of the wind,
 it scatters strange shadows that drift past the trees
 like the long black dresses of lonesome spirits. 
 New fruit appears on the trees now. 
 My hands smell like oranges till long past noon. 

 The Great Horned owls have begun to gather.  
Far up in the tops of maple trees only just beginning to think
 of changing their garments to the fall shades of fire,
 they land in the moonlight, 
silhouettes of legend, of wisdom, of dreams.

A grey wind hinting of woodsmoke sweeps in from the west,
 painting sooty faces on the pansies
 and conducting the poplar leaves in recondite choruses
 that rustle and quaver as I make my way past. 
 I look over my shoulder more often now.
The big white dog stays out longer each night,
 wandering under the tall trees in communication with those whose languages remain unknowable to me. 
 He returns to his bed with a cold nose,
 his long white fur redolent of chrysanthemum blooms and pine.

Under a yellow moon hanging low enough to graze the roofline, 
in silver webs as intricate as lace, magnificent and horrible, the spiders sit waiting,
 their calligraphy legs still as the stare of a child.  

The gathering shadows out under the trees only serve 
to make the cottage glow brighter than it chose to do in the earlier months of the year. 
 Apple pies cool their bellies on cold kitchen counters.  
Another blanket is pulled from the wardrobe. 
 Stories are read until late in the night 
while the strains of Vivaldi are heard through the day.

Clad in its raiment of orange velvet and green,
 the tenth month has knocked on my door.
 I revel in the many mysteries of another glorious October.