Saturday, March 20, 2010
Margaret Wilburly Snell, a long time resident of Cloverdale and avid gardener, unvield her 2010 Gnome Garden family during a two hour open house held Saturday morning from 10:00 A.M. to Noon. at her home on Millberry Lane.
Margaret's friends filled her front parlor and kitchen. Tea poured freely along with a nice assortment of biscuits purchased the day before during an extended shopping trip at the Piggly Wiggly. Margaret's best china couldn't accommodate everyone that arrived leaving a very panicked Margaret in a rush to the neighbors to borrow tea services. By 10:00 A.M. everyone was seated, drinking tea, eating biscuits and doing what Margaret loves most, talking garden gnomes. Cloverdale's gnome enthusiasts carry pictures of their gnomes to show off whenever given the opportunity. You'll see them proudly exchanging pictures of their ceramic families on park benches, at the check out stand, while filling their cars at the Piggy Mart or during the sermons in the various community churches.
Margaret moved from group to group welcoming everyone to her home. She was sure to admire their photos of their newest additions to their gnome families. At the appointed hour she moved the piano where she had earlier set up the card table from the garage. The table was covered in a lace tablecloth. The gnomes stood at the center of the table, covered by an empty shipping box of Lucky Charms she remembered to ask for while at the Piggly Wiggly. The box was wrapped in silver birthday wrapping and topped with a red bow. Margaret sat at the piano, cracked her knuckles to loosen her joints and ran off a flurry of notes to bring the room to a quiet.
"My friends and fellow Gnomologists, I want to welcome each and every one of you to my home to meet the newest additions to my family of gnomes moving to Cloverdale to take residence in my petunias during the 2010 season," Margaret said with a broad smile that nearly stretched from ear to ear.
Nancy Harkly, a long time friend from Margaret's earliest days at school, clapped politely - bringing the rest of the parlor into applause. Margaret blushed and took an uncomfortable bow. Margaret's husband Earl, chucked to himself from his bedroom. He never understood his wife's passion for gnomes but early in their marriage learned that whatever made her happy would eventually make him happy as well.
"Thank you and thank you so very much," Margaret said. "Well, without further fanfare shall we meet Cloverdale's newest citizens, the Gnomensons?"
And at that, Margaret lifted the box to reveal her newest family members. Again the room broke into enthusiastic applause. Margaret stood next to her little people with arms outstretched like one of those models you see standing next to the newest car model at the downtown dealership.
Margaret spent the remainder of her time reading the story of the Gnomensons she'd written the previous week. Included in the history she'd written brief personality sketches of each family member - all to the delight of the assembled gathering. These extra touches make a Margaret Wilburly Snell gathering an event never to be missed.
The village of Cloverdale welcomes all the gnomes about to take their places in our community's gardens. Welcome to Spring!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Lois Snappling lives alone in the bottom left unit of the Riverdale Apartment complex in Cloverdale. She moved into her apartment when the complex was first built in 1983. In her 27 years as a Riverdale resident she has yet to carry on any kind of a cordial conversation with her neighbors.
The other Riverdale residents learned a long time ago to leave her be. Passing a pleasant “Good morning,” with Lois returns a scowl. A “Good Afternoon,” brings a grunt and a “Good evening,” brings a combination of both. Evenings are her worst when she returns home from the Blovus Call Center where she works as a sales supervisor.
This month the call center is selling The Farmer’s Wife Garden Seeds. Lois is responsible for 20 sales callers, most of whom are students at Cloverdale’s Community College. Sales are down, putting pressure on Lois to motivate her sales staff into more pushy, in your face, tactics. Motivation isn't Lois's strong point. Her usual method to move sales along are threats of unemployment. Her boss is encouraging her to be creative and help her young phone salesmen find conversational approaches that work.
Last night Lois wrote up a new calling script design to move seeds out the door. The next morning she taped copies of the script on every computer screen. The script read:
“Hello, I’m calling to give you some very important information concerning a proposed government program to confiscate unproductive land from homeowners and give it to people willing to use the land productively.From that point the salesperson goes into their normal sales pitch.
Do you have unproductive land? Do you have a lawn? Lawns are considered unproductive land. The government will ask you what good grass does to the community. You can’t eat it and you can’t build with it. It can’t be mined or harvested.
The purpose of this call is not to frighten you but to urge you to do something with your lawn to prevent the government from taking it. Have you thought of planting a small garden? Gardens are considered productive land.
A good garden starts with good hearty seeds. Today we have a special offer on The Farmer’s Wife’s Seeds.”
The staff laughed when they read her script. Some threw it away, which didn’t do anything to improve her already nasty mood. Lois spent much of the morning walking up and down the isles with her ruler making sure everyone was using her script.
Around 1:00 P.M. Lois’s manager ran into the room. He motioned to Lois to meet him in the conference room.
“We got a call from Capital City,” He said in a panicked voice. “They say people from this call center are telling people that the government is preparing to confiscate their land if they don't plant gardens! Cloverdale Weekend Television has gotten hold of the story and is sending reporters to investigate. Stop using that script now and shred every copy you’ve got. Lois, how could you be so stupid?”
Lois went home before the news crew arrived . Unfortunately one of her staff slipped her address to a reporter. Later that evening CWT sent a camera and reporter to the Riverdale Apartments to get a comment from Lois. The report was put through live during the evening news. The reporter walked up and knocked on her front door. Lois opened the door, staring directly into a CWT camera. Her image was beamed into every home in the Confederacy. It was not a pretty sight.
Lois will not be in a good mood for the foreseeable future, which is normal for her. At least she still has her job. The news coverage did sell seeds and for that the company was grateful.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Vincent and Vorleen Vandaloop have shared each other's company for the past 54 years. Thirty of those happy years were spent in their lovely white cottage with rose trim and white picket fences on Pine Book Circle in Cloverdale.
Neither Vincent nor Vorleen drive any longer, so Vorleen takes the number 3 bus to St. Bartholomew’s School every day where she works as the lunch room manager. She’s been feeding the children of St. Barth’s for the past 24 years. Her cooking is legendary. Very few of her students toss their partially eaten lunches in the bin like they do at the Comprehensive School at the other end of the Village. Vorleen takes great pride in that fact and the several articles written about her cafeteria in the village’s weekly newspaper, The Confederacy Times. The articles are framed and hang on the wall near her small wooden desk just off the kitchen.
Last Friday was the couple’s 55th wedding anniversary. Vincent got up that morning acting as if he’d forgotten. Vorleen let it go. She was too exhausted to care. She’d been up most of the night baking several dozen of her special oatmeal with raisin cookies for the school’s annual “Tossing of the Students” celebration. She could have use the school’s ovens but her oatmeal with raisin cookies are special and she prefers to bake them at home herself. It is her unique contribution to the festivities.
Friday started cold and foggy. Vorleen bundled up tightly before stepping outside into the fog and down the cottage’s walk to the bus stop. Vincent blew her a kiss from the front window. She nodded, unable to wave due to the two large bags of cookies she carried in each hand.
At 2:00 P.M. Vorleen left the school. Her Lunch service was over and it was time to go home. She walked slowly around the back of the church. There was a cool breeze moving a thick blanket of clouds overhead. Vorleen was pleased the fog had broken. The damp was a cross her joints had to carry. She walked toward the bus stop thinking how nice it was going to be to put her feet up in front of the fire when she got home.
She got to the bus stop a few minutes before the scheduled pick up. She closed her eyes and drifted away.
“Excuse me, but is this the number 3 bus?” she heard a familiar voice ask. She opened her eyes. There in front of her was her husband Vincent, holding one red rose. “Happy Anniversary dumpling,” he said with a smile and a twinkle in both eyes.
Vorleen and Vincent rode the number 3 home together holding hands on the back seat. Vincent started the gas fire while Vorleen separated herself from her scarf, coat and sweater. She sat down in her chair and let Vincent rub her aching feet. They spent the rest of the afternoon keeping the fire and each other company. At 6:30 they dressed and took the number 3 bus to the village centre. They walked the two blocks from the bus stop to the Kicking Donkey Pub where Vincent had a table reserved for himself, Vorleen and two of their dearest friends.
It was a nice quiet meal making a lovely 55th anniversary for Vincent and Vorleen Vandaloop.