The sight of my scrapbook and crafting store, Time in a Bottle, always gives me a thrill, especially during the holidays. We've decorated our front window to the hilt. The roof line is festooned with bright lights. Vibrant colors bounced off the pristine snow that had fallen overnight. I hate the cold, but I love the sights when Christmas is right around the corner.
There is so much to look forward to!
I laughed out loud thinking of all the festive activities documented on our calendar. With two small kids and a teenager, my husband, Detweiler, and I will be busy in a ho-ho-ho-happy way. Already there has been a lot of buzzing around, whispering of secrets, and giggling after lights out. The children have holiday fever. Their excitement keeps ratcheting up, as does the noise level. These days, when I'm in my car alone, I keep the radio off and savor the silence.
Slowly, I pulled into the parking lot. The fresh snow crunched under my tires in a satisfying way. I've owned the store for nearly a year, going on two. When my friend and mentor Dodie Goldfader found out that she had cancer, she sold the place to me, on contract. In the beginning, I had many sleepless nights, wondering whether I could make the payments. Somehow, by the grace of God, and with a ton of hard work, I've managed to keep this train on the rails, chugging down the tracks.
Craning my neck, I realized I wasn't the first person here. In the parking space next to the back door was Margit's car, an old white Buick. Margit also owns a portion of the store, although hers is a teensy-tiny share. I offered to buy her out, but Margit says the store gives her a reason to get up in the morning. She's a widow whose mother has Alzheimer's and is in an assisted living facility.
According to Margit, we're her family. I like it when she says that.
She's right. We have only three full-timers. There's Clancy--my right-hand woman, and a Jackie Kennedy look-alike--and Margit and me.
Margit is a seventy-something-year-old German woman, who typifies what the locals call "Scrubby Dutch." "Dutch" being a perversion of "deutsche," which means "German." My friend is incredibly precise. Her desk is a monument to the slogan, "A place for everything and everything in its place." She knows exactly how many ink pens, paper clips, and so on she has. At the end of any work day, she arranges her pencils in their cup with the lead tips facing the ceiling. Her in- and out-boxes are tidy to the point of ridiculous. She wears the same outfit each Monday. Another is specified for every Tuesday, and so on. Every part of her life is exactly that organized.
I drive her nuts.
With great care, I climbed out of my car, a black Lexus SUV we'd recently purchased. The slick surface of the snow threatened my balance. For a minute, the world seemed off-kilter. I grabbed the door handle, blinked, and realized...the world was fine.
The problem was Margit's car.
Not only was it parked crooked, but one side was noticeably higher than the other.
What on earth?
The question took me totally by surprise. I chewed the air and struggled for a response. But Clancy, bless her heart, was ready, willing, and able to jump into the fray.
Margit’s face turned sullen as she lined up her cutlery next to her plate. After adjusting the placement of her water glass, she looked up with a mulish expression. “You ask who I am? I am the daughter who cares for her mother. Otherwise, I am nothing and no one.”
Today (January 1, 2017) is the last day that you can buy my newest Kiki book--Love, Die, Neighbor-- at only 99 cents. Why not snap up a copy and "gift" a copy to a friend as a treat? Just scroll down to the BUY button and below it, you'll see a button that says, "Give as a gift."