Tag Archives: The Handy Helpers books

A Rocky Start: Chapter Ten Continued


Shopping opportunities were somewhat limited in the town of Bluesky. For a quest like this one, Mary and Amber had to drive into Marshallville. For really serious shopping, like Christmas shopping, they might even drive to Phoenix. But they were sure that one of the shops in Marshallville would have exactly what they wanted.

The road from Bluesky to Marshallville winds through open grassland before climbing up into the mountains. Around curve after curve, mountaintops covered with tall ponderosa pines come into view. Approaching Marshallville from the east, it seems to appear suddenly among the mountains, as though it sprang from the pages of a pop-up picture book. It is a city with a long history and a colorful past.

Mary drove past quaint neighborhoods with beautiful old homes built in the Victorian style. The streets were lined with tall elm trees, the branches seeming to hold hands high above the pavement. Victorian streetlights completed the allusion of traveling backward in time. Mary found a parking space along a side street in the downtown section of Marshallville. From there, she and Amber could explore the many small shops. Redbrick storefronts reminiscent of the early twentieth century lined both sides of the streets. One called Lavender and Old Lace was their favorite. Inside, they found some beautiful dresses. Mary quickly chose a flowered dress she liked for herself. It had a fitted waist and a full skirt. A matching hat completed her outfit. Then they looked around for a dress for Amber. She turned up her nose at the ruffled pink dress her mother held up.

“Yuck.” She shook her head. “I haven’t worn dresses like that since I was four.”

“What are you looking for?” Mary asked after they left the third store with no success.

“Something with no ruffles, lace, or bows,” Amber said. “Maybe a simple skirt and a nice top.”

“I know just the place,” Mary said excitedly. “I think you’ll find the perfect outfit there.”

Back to the car, Mary drove them across town to a small shopping mall where a tiny dress shop advertised fashions for teens and preteens. Amber gave a loud sigh of relief.

“I should be able to find something here,” she said with enthusiasm. “This place is new. How did you find out about it?”

“I sold them insurance a few weeks ago,” Mary said. “I had forgotten all about it.”

Several other mother-daughter teams were moving around the store from rack to rack, exploring the stylish choices. After trying on several outfits, Amber selected a black-and-white skirt that she matched with a short black jacket and white top. The skirt was a little shorter than Mary was comfortable with, but she changed her mind when the saleslady suggested tights to wear under it.

Now that Amber was satisfied with her Easter outfit, it was time for lunch.

“What kind of food would you like?” Mary asked.

“Mexican, of course,” was Amber’s answer.

Mary drove them to Amber’s favorite restaurant, Angelina’s Mexican Food. After being seated by the hostess, they studied their menus.

“You always order the same thing,” Mary said. “Are you thinking of trying something new?”

“I was thinking about it,” Amber said. But when the server came, she ordered her usual green chili burro with sour cream and guacamole on the side.

“I’m really proud of you and your friends,” Mary said as they waited for their food. “You’re sticking with this Happy Helper idea. I wasn’t too sure about it when you started, but I can see how important it is to you.”

“It is, Mom,” Amber said excitedly. “I like helping. It makes me feel good inside. But I also like spending time with the seniors. They know a lot of things, and they have lots of patience with us.”

“They probably miss their grandchildren,” Mary added. “You and your friends are sort of filling in for them in a way.”

“That’s true,” Amber agreed. “But it works the other way too.”

“What do you mean?”           “Well, Melissa’s grandmother lives with her family, but the rest of us don’t get to see our grandparents very often. Betty talks to me just like Grandma Snyder does. I really like that.”

“That’s a keen observation,” Mary said. “Obviously, you’ve thought about this quite a bit.”

“The seniors are a lot of fun,” Amber continued. “Take Gus for example. He tells these corny jokes and pops out his teeth.”

“What do you mean ‘he pops out his teeth’?”

“He has these false teeth on the bottom, and sometimes he pops them out. They’re just sitting there on his bottom lip. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“He sounds like a real character.” Mary laughed.

“Oh, he is,” Amber agreed. “But he is a really nice guy.”


Back at home, Amber and her mom put on their new Easter outfits and gave a fashion show for Kyle and John. Mary strutted across the living room like a model while her husband whistled and clapped.

“Way to go, Mom,” Kyle called out. “You’ve still got the stuff.”

“Thanks,” Mary said. “I think.”

When it was Amber’s turn, she walked casually across the living room, looking at her shoes.

“Come on,” her dad called out. “Show us your model pose.”

Amber stopped and put one foot in front of the other, hands at her side as she had seen models do.

“That’s my girl,” her dad said with pride.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

The Clawson Sisters

IMG_0474 (2)Spike meets the Clawson sisters in book three, when he goes with Gus to handle a little plumbing problem the ladies are having. In book four, not only are the Clawson sister back, but you’ll know the whole story–how they came to live in the elegant Victorian home in the middle of Bluesky. But it’s not just their story, it’s the story of how the town of Bluesky came to be.

Here is Spike’s encounter with the Clawson sisters from Red, While, and . . . Bloopers.

“I hope you don’t mind if we make a stop on the way home,” Gus said. “The Clawson sisters are having a little plumbing problem.”

“The Clawson sisters?”

“Rose, Violet, and Daisy,” Gus said with a grin. “Some people call them the Flower Girls .”

“I can see why. Their parents must love flowers.”

“Yes, they did. Rose was married, but her husband died several years ago. Now the three ladies live together. Violet and Daisy are what we used to call old maids.”

Gus pulled up in front of a gray Victorian-style house with a peaked roof and gingerbread trim. It had a huge porch that went across the front of the house and wrapped around to the side. Rose bushes grew along the white picket fence and beds of daisies, bachelor buttons, and zinnias lined the walkway.

“Wow!” Spike exclaimed. “I guess they really do like flowers!”

Violet Clawson answered the door. She was wearing a bright fuchsia dress with a strand of pearls around her neck. The flower motif continued inside the house—pink mums on the wallpaper, vases full of flowers on every table, and even flowered floor coverings. Her sisters quickly joined her in the living room. “Good afternoon, ladies,” Gus said. “This is my friend, Michael.”

“Thank you so much for coming.” Rose invited them in. “We are having a slight problem in the upstairs bathroom.”

“Daisy dropped her teeth in the toilet,” Violet whispered to Spike.

“I’ll be right back,” Gus said as Rose led him away up the stairs.

Spike stood near the door while Daisy fussed with the vase of flowers on the coffee table. She hadn’t said a word since Gus and Spike arrived.

“She won’t talk without her teeth,” Violet said in Spike’s ear. “She’s so vain!”

“Michael!” Gus yelled from the top of the stairs. “Can you go get the wrench from my truck? They’ve got a little leak up here.”

Spike was relieved to have an excuse to go outside. He climbed into the back of Gus’s truck and took a wrench from the toolbox. In the bed of the truck, he saw the whoopee cushion he had thrown there that morning.  Spike picked it up. It was almost too hot to handle after lying in the sun all day. Spike tucked it in his pocket and went back in the house with the wrench.

“I’ll take it to him,” Violet offered, taking the wrench from Spike’s hand.

Spike sat carefully in one of the fancy high-backed chairs. When Gus came down the stairs with Rose and Violet, Spike stood up quickly, not noticing the whoopee cushion fall from his pocket.

“Okay, ladies,” Gus said. “I think everything is fixed.”

“Thank you so much,” Rose walked with Gus and Spike toward the door.

“Oh, look!” Violet exclaimed. “Daisy, here’s your hot water bottle. It’s still nice and warm.”

Before Spike could say anything, Daisy sat down on the chair he had just vacated. “Pfffbt” came from the whoopee cushion.

“Oh!” Daisy exclaimed. “Excuse me!” Daisy stood up and then sat down again. “Pfffbt” came from the whoopee cushion again.

Gus and Spike hurried out the door. “I guess I should have left the whoopee cushion in the donation box,” Spike said as they got in Gus’s truck.

“Why do you say that? Those ladies are gonna have fun with that whoopee cushion for days.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon



A Rocky Start: Chapter Ten

AmberOn Tuesday afternoon, Amber was surprised by a phone call from Doris Duncan. She asked if the Happy Helpers could come to her house after school on Wednesday to give her a hand at watering her plants. Amber was so excited she said yes about six times.

On the way to Doris’s house, Amber told her friends what to expect.

“Doris has the cleanest house I’ve ever seen,” Amber said. “We’ll have to be very careful not to make a mess anywhere.”

When they rang the doorbell, Doris yelled for them to come in. She was seated on the sofa in the living room as she had been when Amber was there with Betty.

“It’s so nice of you girls to give up your afternoon like this,” Doris said. “I can usually manage by myself, but with this darn back, I decided I’d better get a little help.”

As Doris instructed them, they carried the plants into the kitchen. Doris had slowly made her way to the sink. As each plant was placed in the sink, Doris used the sprayer to water the plant. Then she asked one of the girls to remove it from the sink so it could drain. The plants that were too high for them to take down were watered using a watering can. Melissa, who was tallest, volunteered for that job. She stood on the step stool Doris had her get out of the laundry room. With that, she was able to reach every plant.

“You girls did a wonderful job,” Doris said when they were finished. “I’d like to pay you something for your trouble.”

“We’re volunteers,” Amber explained. “We do it because we want to help others. We don’t expect to be paid.”

“Isn’t there anything I can give you?” Doris asked.

“Your plants are so beautiful,” Laura said. “Can you tell us your secret?”

“Of course,” Doris said proudly. “It’s very simple. I talk to them.”

“And that works?” Melissa looked doubtful.

“Well,” Doris said, waving her hand around the room to indicate the plants, “what do you think?”

“It must really work,” Melissa said with surprise.

“I’ll tell you what,” Doris continued. “If you girls come back and help me next Wednesday, we’ll take cuttings from some of the plants, and then you can take them home and grow your own plants.”

“Wow,” Amber said. “Would you really do that?”

“Of course.” Doris smiled. “It’s the least I can do to thank you for all your help.”

Friday was Good Friday, so there was no school. Mary took the day off from work so that she and Amber could have a girls’ day out. They both got up early to take Domino for a walk. Either Mary or Kyle walked Domino every day.

Amber hadn’t been allowed to walk Domino by herself since he was five months old. Something happened that made her parents decide Domino was just too much dog for her to handle. Amber had been walking him on the next block, when Domino spotted a rabbit. Domino and the rabbit stared at each other for a minute. Then the rabbit took off running. Domino tried to run after the rabbit, but with Amber holding on as best she could, he wasn’t able to catch it. When the rabbit ran under a wire fence, Domino tried to follow it. He dug at the ground, throwing dirt all over Amber. The rabbit just sat there on the other side of the fence, taunting Domino. Finally, Domino gave up trying to go under the fence and went over it instead. He would have pulled Amber over after him, but she let go of the leash. The rabbit hopped away across the yard with Domino hot on its heels. When the rabbit went under the fence on the other side, Domino continued over it. Amber ran to the alley to cut them off, but they were nowhere in sight. After looking for Domino for twenty minutes, she went home. Kyle jumped on his bike and rode around the neighborhood, calling Domino. He told Amber to stay home in case Domino showed up there. By the time Kyle caught up with Domino, he had terrorized someone’s cat, torn up a flower bed, and eaten another dog’s food. Kyle and John went back the next day and fixed the flower bed, but they all agreed that Amber’s days of walking Domino were at an end.

After their walk, Mary and Amber got dressed up to go shopping. It was their annual quest to find the perfect Easter outfit. Before starting their journey, they attended the Good Friday service at church. As they walked into the church, Amber spotted Mrs. Snow sitting by herself in a pew.

“Hello, Mrs. Snow,” Amber said. “I’d like you to meet my mother.”

“Hello, I’m Mary Snyder. Amber told me you are the volunteer coordinator at the senior center.”

“That’s right,” Mrs. Snow said. “It’s nice to meet you. You have a very fine young lady there.”

“We think so.” Mary gave her daughter a squeeze. “Thank you for giving the girls another chance. I’m sure they won’t let you down.”

“No one can figure out what happened with the spoons,” Mrs. Snow said. “But I thought I should at least give them the benefit of the doubt.”

“We’ll be there tomorrow,” Amber promised. “And we’ll do exactly what we’re supposed to do.”

“I’m sure you will,” Mrs. Snow said. “We got off to kind of a rocky start, but I’m sure things will work out fine from now on.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Nine Continued

Image1-17_edited-1Laura gave her career report on Monday morning. Just like Logan’s, it was perfect in every way. First she talked about some chefs she liked to watch on television, like Rachael Ray. Then she talked about famous cooking schools. “The best ones,” she said, “are in Paris, but you really don’t have to go that far. There is Le Cordon Bleu College in Scottsdale that has a very good reputation.”

At the end of her report, she passed out samples of her homemade cookies. She called them Laura’s Everything Cookies because they were filled with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, and pecans. Everyone said they were the best cookies they had ever eaten. Amber was thinking that Betty Jenkins still made the best cookies she’d ever eaten, but she’d never tell Laura that.

After school, the girls rode their bikes to the senior center. Mrs. Snow saw them looking at the bulletin board. “Girls,” she said, “I need to see you in my office.”

The Happy Helpers looked at each other as if to ask, “Did we do something wrong?”

“Have a seat.” Mrs. Snow pointed to some chairs near her desk. “Bob said he had you set the tables for lunch on Saturday.”

“We did, “Laura said. “We did exactly what Bob told us to do.”

“He said that he made it quite clear that you should put out forks, knives, and spoons,” Mrs. Snow continued.

“That’s what we did.” Amber sounded concerned.

“Well, there were no spoons on the tables when the lunch was served. In fact, there were no spoons anywhere in the kitchen. Later, Walt found them in the recreation room.”

“I know there were spoons on the tables,” Melissa defended. “I put them there myself.”

“Maybe you forgot to put out the spoons,” Mrs. Snow suggested. “That’s possible, isn’t it?”

“No,” Laura insisted. “There were spoons on the tables. We didn’t forget.”

“Well,” Mrs. Snow went on, “I guess we’ll let it go at that. We all make mistakes sometimes. Try not to let it happen again.”

“We won’t,” Amber promised. “We like helping, and we always try to do our best.”

“Next Saturday, the women’s auxiliary is setting up for the big Easter luncheon. We could use your help with that. It’s an important event for the seniors. I hope I can count on you.”

“You can,” they all assured her.

“That was so strange,” Melissa said when they got outside.

“I wonder what happened to the spoons.” Laura shook her head.

“I don’t know,” Amber said thoughtfully. “But I think someone doesn’t want us here.”

At dinner that night, Amber told her family about what happened at the senior center.

“We really did set the table correctly,” Amber insisted. “The spoons just disappeared.”

“It sounds like someone was playing a practical joke on you,” John said. “I wouldn’t take it too seriously. Anyway, you have a second chance to prove yourselves.”

“Yeah, sis,” Kyle added. “What would your life be like without a little drama now and then? Pretty boring!”

“Not to change the subject,” Mary continued, “how are you coming with your career project?”

“Fine,” Amber answered. “It’s almost ready. Laura gave hers today. It was perfect, just like Logan’s. I think Ms. McGuire had the best students give their reports first to make the rest of us look bad.”

“She’s probably trying to let you slackers have more time to finish yours,” Kyle said with a laugh.

“Your teacher’s a smart woman.” John frowned at Kyle. “She had the best students do theirs first to give the rest of you an idea of how to do it. She let them set the example.”

“You might be right,” Amber said. “Logan did a little show-and-tell at the end of his report, and so did Laura. I suppose everyone will have to do that now. I’d better think of something I can show.”

“How about some of your drawings?” Mary asked. “That is, if you are doing your report on art as a career.”

“That’s my secret,” Amber reminded her with a sly smile.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon


A Rocky Start: Chapter Nine


As she promised, Amber’s mom picked her up at Laura’s at noon. On the way home, Amber was thinking that she would get her chores done quickly and then take a nap.

“Did you have fun?” Mary asked.

“It was great,” Amber said. “We made pizzas on the gas grill. We each made our own. Then we made s’mores.”

“Leave it to Laura and her mom to come up with a unique idea,” Mary said. “Maybe we’ll try that some time.”

Amber filled her mother in on the rest of the sleepover and the trip to the senior center. “I sure would like to know how my poster ended up under that table,” Amber said thoughtfully, “and why our names were erased from the volunteer list.”

“It’s probably just a mistake,” Mary told her daughter.

“Yeah, and I’m pretty sure I know who made it,” Amber said to herself.

As soon as Amber got home, she put away her sleeping bag and other gear. Then she started getting out the vacuum sweeper so she could do her chores.

“You don’t need to do that,” Mary said. “Kyle already did it for you.”

“Why?” Amber asked.

“Maybe he just wanted to do something nice for his little sister,” Mary answered.

Yeah, right, Amber thought. And I bet he reminds me the next time he wants me to do something for him.

Sunday morning, Amber awoke to loud screeching from outside her window. She pulled back her curtain to see a cat crawling out on the branch where the bird nest hung. The worried parents were dive-bombing the cat, trying to keep it away from the nest. Amber opened her window and yelled at the cat. At first it just stared at her. Then it crawled backward along the branch until it could climb down the tree. By that time, the parents were back with their babies at the nest.

“That was a close one,” Amber sighed to herself. She worried that the cat might return later and finish the job.

After church, Amber asked her mom if she could go visit Betty Jenkins. She found Betty busy in the kitchen, getting some food ready to take across the street to Doris Duncan.

“Why don’t you come with me?” Betty asked. “It’ll give you a chance to meet Doris. I know you’ll like her. Besides, I can use some help carrying this stuff.”

“Okay,” Amber said. “Do you take food to her all the time?”

“Not usually,” Betty explained. “Doris injured her back a few days ago, and she can’t get around too well right now.”

“How sad,” Amber said. “She’s lucky to have a good friend like you. Are you bringing her chocolate chip cookies?”

“Not for Doris,” Betty said seriously. “She has diabetes.”

“That’s awful!” Amber exclaimed.

“She’s had it for a long time,” Betty assured her. “She’s really healthy otherwise.”

“I meant it’s awful that she can’t have chocolate chip cookies.”

“Oh, I see,” Betty said. “But you can still have some when we get back.”

Doris Duncan’s house was neat as a pin and filled with beautiful green plants. Tiny little figurines sparkled on glass shelves in her very tidy living room. Doris was stretched out on the sofa in her robe but sat up when they arrived, which obviously caused her some pain. It was her daughter Lisa who let them in. She had come to take care of her mother for the weekend.

“They brought you some food, Mom,” Lisa said. “I’ll put it in the refrigerator for you.”

Betty introduced Amber, and the two of them sat down in chairs across from the sofa.

“How are you feeling today?” Betty asked.

“A little better,” Doris said. “The doctor told me it will take a few months before I’m back to my old self.”

“That’s too bad,” Betty responded. “How did you hurt your back?”

“The usual way,” Doris explained. “Trying to reach something on an upper shelf. I hadn’t cleaned up there for a while.”

“I’ve told you before,” Betty scolded, “dust that is out of sight should be out of mind.”

“I can’t help it,” Doris said. “I like a clean house.”

“Amber here might be able to help you while you’re laid up.” Betty nodded in Amber’s direction. “She and two of her friends just started a club to help seniors. What do you call yourselves?”

“We’re the Happy Helpers,” Amber said. “But we really haven’t helped anyone yet. You could be our first though.”

“I’m sure I’ll be able to keep up with things.” Doris grimaced as a movement caused her some pain. “I’ll just have to take it easy for a few days.”

Doris and Betty chatted for a while about friends and things that were happening around town. Then Amber and Betty said their good-byes and left. Back at Betty’s house, the two enjoyed some chocolate chip cookies and milk.

“Why doesn’t Doris want us to help her?” Amber asked. “Does she think we’ll break things?”

“She does have a lot of pretty things,” Betty said. “But I don’t think that’s the reason. You have to understand something about seniors. We need to be independent. Sometimes people treat us like we can’t do anything. Sometimes they make us feel like we’re just in the way. Doing things for ourselves is really important.”

“I do understand,” Amber said. “It’s the same way for kids. Sometimes adults treat us like we’re helpless. We may make mistakes, but it’s because we’re still learning. We like to be independent too and show everyone what we can do. That’s what we like most about being Happy Helpers.”

“Just give the seniors some time,” Betty went on. “After they get to know you like I do, I’m sure they’ll ask you for help.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Sneak Peek at Book Four: Not A Happy Camper


I’m still working on the final third of book four. I’m excited about how it is turning out and wanted to share a little bit. This is my favorite scene so far.

Trisha pulled a chest from under her bed and opened it. Inside were dresses and scarves, shoes and purses. One at a time, she lifted dresses from the chest and held them up for the other girls to see. “This is my favorite.” It was a purple dress with a V neck and a narrow skirt. “I’m going to wear this on my date.”

“I have a date too,” Molly said. “I’m going to wear this dress and these shoes.” She picked up a red dress with tiny beads around the neckline and red high-heeled shoes. “Oh, there’s a purse too!”

The other two girls looked at Rachel. “What do you want to wear on your date?” Trisha asked.

“Can I wear anything I want?”

“Of course, but you want to look nice don’t you? How about this rufflely dress with blue flowers on it?”

“Okay,” Rachel hung her head.

“I’m just kidding,” Trisha laughed. “You should wear this black dress on a date. You’ll look totally hot!”

“Hot?” Rachel looked worried.

“Hot’s a good thing when you’re on a date,” Molly assured her, “and you’ll look hot in that dress.”

The girls helped each other into their dresses and shoes. Then they stood in front of the long mirror on Trisha’s wall. “We all look hot,” Trisha said.

“Yeah,” Molly agreed, “but we’d look hotter if we had on makeup. Where’s your makeup?”

“I had some play makeup, but I used it up. I guess we’ll just have to pretend we’re putting on makeup.”

Rachel watched in wonder as Trisha and Molly went through the motions of dusting powder on their faces and put on lipstick. “Aren’t you going to put on makeup?” Molly asked her.

“I don’t know how,” Rachel sighed. “I’m not sure what makeup is.”

“Didn’t you ever watch your mom put on makeup?” Trisha asked.

“My mom died when I was a baby.”

“Oh, sorry.” Trisha put her arm around Rachel. “I forgot.”

“I wish we had some real makeup so we could show Rachel how to put it on,” Molly said.

“Actually, I do know where we can get some makeup. My sister Melissa has some hidden in her closet.”

“Won’t she get mad if we use it?” Molly asked.

“She’s not s’posed to have it, so she can’t say anything or she’ll get in trouble too.”

Trisha peeked around the corner to check the hallway. No one was there. She put her fingers up to her lips to tell the other girls to be quiet. Then they all tip-toed down the hall to Melissa’s room. The door was closed and locked, but Trisha had a key and quickly opened it. When all three girls were in the room, Trisha closed and locked the door. Then she led them to Melissa’s walk-in closet and took down a box from the shelf. Removing some winter sweaters from the box, Trisha revealed compacts with face powder, blush, eye shadow and two tubes of lipstick.

The girls sat in a circle on the closet floor, the makeup lying on the carpet in the middle of the circle. Trisha opened the face powder and dusted some on Rachel’s face. “Now you put some on me.” She handed the powder to Molly. When Molly had finished with Trisha’s face, she handed the powder to Rachel who did her best to dust it on Molly.

“Next we need blush.” Trisha picked up the small compact with bright pink powder and used the brush to apply it to Rachel’s cheeks. “You’re putting on too much!” Molly gasped.

Rachel was concerned, but Trisha assured her that it looked fine. Next came the eye shadow—in tiny cases of blue, pink and purple. “You look so lovely,” Molly told Rachel as she brushed on an ample amount of purple shadow.

“I want blue,” Trisha said, “because it will go with my eyes.

“But your dress is purple,” Molly reminded her.

“That would be too much purple,” Trisha pointed out.

“That’s true,” Molly nodded. “The blue will look better.”

“Can you put on your own lipstick?” Trisha asked Rachel.

“I’ll try,” Rachel said, taking the tube that Trisha had turned until the lipstick was all the way out. As Rachel pressed it against her lips, the lipstick broke and fell onto the carpet. Trisha grabbed for it, but Rachel, shocked by what happened, stood up quickly, stepping on the lipstick and smearing it into the carpet.

“Oh, no!” Molly witnessed the catastrophe. “What are you going to do now?”

Just then the closet door opened. There stood Fran and Molly’s mother, Emma.

“What are you girls doing in here?” Fran asked.

“We’ve been looking for you everywhere!” Emma said, upset.

“Trisha, you know better than to go in Melissa’s room. What have you got there? It’s all over the carpet. That looks like makeup.”

“We were playing dress-up and we didn’t have any play makeup,” Trisha said, innocently.

“Whose makeup is that?” Fran asked

“It’s Melissa’s,” Trisha admitted.

“How did you know it was in here?” Fran demanded.

“I accidentally found it.”

“Accidentally. You accidentally went snooping in Melissa’s closet?”

“I was just looking for some . . . some . . . some colored pencils.”

Gus stretched to see over the ladies’ bent heads at what was going on in the closet. There sat Rachel in the black dress, her cheeks painted red. “What happened to you?” Gus asked. “You look like a raccoon.” Rachel lowered her head as purple tears ran down her cheeks. “That’s okay,” Gus said, soothingly, “but we’d better clean you up before I take you home. Jeremiah’ll be angry with both of us if he sees you like this!”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon



A Rocky Start: Chapter Eight Continued

Image1-17_edited-1Sunlight was coming in through the seams of the tent when the girls woke up. As soon as talk was coming from the tent, Taylor appeared at the door flap. “Daddy’s making french toast,” she announced.

“My dad makes the best french toast,” Laura informed them. “He makes it with thick slices of bread, and he puts cinnamon in the mixture.”

After downing two servings each, the girls went to Laura’s room to get dressed.

“I don’t have my bike here,” Amber suddenly realized. “I’ll have to walk to the senior center.”

“Mandy will let you borrow hers,” Laura assured her. “I’ll go ask her now.”

At ten o’clock on the dot, the girls arrived at the senior center. They quickly checked the bulletin board to find their assignment. After going down the list several times, they were convinced that Mrs. Snow had forgotten to assign them a job. To make matters worse, Amber noticed that her flyer was missing from the bulletin board.

“Maybe it fell off,” Laura suggested.

“I don’t think so,” Amber said. “See, here’s the corner where I put the tack. I think someone pulled it down.”

After several minutes of looking, Amber located her flyer under a small table. She dusted it off and stuck it back on the bulletin board.

As they had been instructed by Mrs. Snow, the girls went directly to Walt’s office. They found him at his desk and explained the situation.

“Mrs. Snow isn’t here today,” he said. “Let’s go take a look at the list. Mrs. Snow said she was going to have you girls set the tables for lunch. Your names should be on the list.”

Walt checked the list but couldn’t find their names. “It looks like it was there, but someone erased it. I’m going to take you over to meet Bob Stone. He’s the lunchroom manager. He’ll show you what to do.”

Bob Stone was a big man with sandy-blond hair and a mustache. He was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, with a large white dish towel tied around his waist. Bob smiled broadly at the girls and talked fast as he filled them in on what they would be doing.

“Usually, the ladies’ auxiliary from the Community Church sets up our lunch on Saturdays,” Bob explained. “But they’re working on table decorations for next Saturday. We’re having a big Easter luncheon. You will need to put out a plate, silverware, a glass, and a napkin at each place around the tables. Usually, we just put out forks and knives, but since we’re having pudding today, you will need to put out spoons as well.”

Bob showed the girls where to find everything. Then he left the Happy Helpers to set the tables and went back to preparing the food. Laura took charge of explaining proper table setting to the other two girls. She told Amber to put out a plate and glass at each place. Then she put a napkin and fork on the left side of each plate. Melissa placed a knife and spoon on the right side. In about forty minutes, the girls had finished their work. On the way out, they waved to Gus, who called them over to where he was sitting with some other guys.

“Like you to meet my cronies,” he said. “Here’s Al, Bert, and Norman. We’re planning our Monday-night poker game.” Gus gave the girls a wink.

“It’s nice to meet you,” the girls said.

“Tell them a joke before they leave,” Bert told Gus.

“Okay, try this one,” Gus said. “Why did the boy eat his homework?”

“Was the boy named Spike?” Amber asked.

“Okay, why did the boy eat his homework?” Laura played along.

“His teacher said it was a piece of cake.” Everyone laughed.

“That’s a good one, Gus,” Melissa said. “You’re a pretty funny guy.”

“We’d better get going,” Laura reminded Amber. “Your mom will be at my house to pick you up.”

“See you later, alligator,” Gus called after them.

“After a while, crocodile,” the girls called back a little awkwardly.

Out in front of the senior center, the girls saw Chris and Logan sweeping the walkways.

“Where’s Spike?” Melissa asked. “Isn’t he one of the Handy Guys anymore?”

“He went inside to use the bathroom,” Logan answered. “He’s been gone for a while though.”

“Are you volunteering here now?” Chris asked.

“We are,” Laura announced. “We just finished setting the table for lunch. It’s kind of fun.”

“Some of these old guys are really great to be around,” Logan said.

“You mean like Gus?” Amber asked. “He just told us a funny joke.”

“Why did the boy eat his homework, right?” Chris laughed.

“That’s the one,” Laura said.

“Kind of corny, huh?” Logan asked.

“Yeah, but we’d never tell Gus that,” Chris added.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon