A: Attitude of Gratitude

It’s NANO time – National Novel Writing Month. This month in Tuesday Tales I’m taking a break from romance. Since I’ll be lucky to get to the 50,000 words I need by the end of the month, I’m doubling up and using this work for my Tuesday Tales prompts also. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘stuffed’. It’s Thanksgiving week, so you may think my ‘stuffed’ will relate to a turkey dinner. No. Read on and you’ll find it used in a different manner.

My NANO work is a nonfiction, inspirational, tentatively titled: A BETTER LIFE: A TO Z. Today I’m sharing the A excerpt – ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. Which, relates to Thanksgiving also.

Enjoy, then head back to TUESDAY TALES here, for more story snippets from a creative group of writers.

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A: Attitude of Gratitude

attitude1Have an attitude of gratitude? As in … appreciate what you have? Ouch! Couldn’t we start with an easier lesson to learn?

This is one of the hardest lessons. This small piece of advice, three little words, is contrary to our always-striving-for-more society. It seems to go against the grain of human nature. The mantra of current day USA seems to be ‘More! More! More!’

Our houses are never quite large enough. Our vehicles are never quite new enough. Or fancy enough. Or big enough.

And technology, oh my goodness, we can’t keep up with it. Savvy smart phones have an app for almost everything imaginable. E-readers; I’ll take one of every kind, thank you very much!) We need larger, faster computers. Digital cameras with mega chips hold more photos than we used to take in a year. Or two, or three.

More clothes and shoes over here please. A person can never have enough of those. Closets are stuffed with one of every color. One of every style. One for every perceived need – whether we’ll ever wear them or not isn’t the issue. After all, they were on sale, right?

Storage unit facilities proliferate our urban landscapes now, with thousands more going up as I write this. A large portion of the population now owns more “stuff” than they can fit in their house or garage.

With this explosion of material good and our access to the latest and greatest – are we any happier than before? Are our lives any better?

I’d venture to say no.

Now, don’t think that I’m totally opposed to all the new gadgets that have invaded our lives. They do have their place and are useful, at least most of them.

One icy, frozen 19 degree morning, as some mornings tend to get here in northern Texas, I headed to work. I almost made it. Kind of. Half way. Apparently my radiator had frozen. (So what does this born and raised southern California girl know about Texas winters?)

attitude2That morning I was very, very (did I say very?) thankful and appreciative of my, at that time, less than fancy, un-smart phone that enabled me to call the tow truck from the (semi) comfort of my car. Remember the “old days” when we’d break down, or run out of gas, and sometimes have to walk 2 to 3 miles looking for a working pay phone? Been there – done that. More than a few times.

Am I dating myself here? I hear the younger generation reading this, thinking – What’s a payphone? My boys are probably in that crowd too. I doubt they have any knowledge of the dreaded several mile walk. And then – you get to the payphone and don’t have any change. Or the party you’re trying to get ahold of isn’t home.

The problem lies, not in in technology or advances and changes in our world, but in always striving for something else – be it newer, bigger, fancier, or just plain different. We fail to appreciate what we DO have. We stop living with a sense of gratitude.

T: Take Action

It’s NANO time – National Novel Writing Month.

This month in Tuesday Tales I’m taking a break from romance. Victoria and Toby, in Starting Over, will have to figure out their own way for a few weeks, without me handing them their script. We’ll be back to them when November ends.

The prompt for this week is ‘stark’.

My NANO work is a nonfiction, inspirational, tentatively titled: A BETTER LIFE: A TO Z. Today I’m sharing the ‘T’ excerpt – TAKE ACTION.

Enjoy, then head back to TUESDAY TALES here, for more tales from a creative group of writers.

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T: Take Action

“Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.” ~ Chinese proverb

take actionWe have dreams. We have goals. We envision a better life for ourselves and our family. Our lofty dreams and visions we have for our future are necessary. As Henry David Thoreau said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Putting the foundations under our castles in the air – that is where the stark reality hits us. We must take action.

Having all the dreams, doing all the visualization, reciting all the affirmations – all of which I’m a staunch believer in – is a good start. But to move these thoughts and desires into concrete achievements, we must take action, and not merely wait for the roast duck to fly into our mouth.

Michelle Barr, a Dallas based intuitive coach and business strategist, is a master in helping others transform their life’s calling. Since hearing her inspirational speech at a holistic fair in Fort Worth in 2010, I’ve been following her and seeing the progress she’s made in her life.

Watch the people who call themselves teachers and mentors. See if they ‘walk the talk’ and live their lives according to what they profess. Michelle is one of these that lives her life how she advises others to. I’ve seen her business grow over the past four years that I’ve been aware of her.

Michelle’s repeated mantra is: Take inventory, take ownership, take action. Taking action is a major cornerstone of what she teaches. Her process is to Master the Art of Taking Action. She uses a M.O.V.E. process, where the first step is to M –Make a Decision. She says that this sets things in motion. But then she shares, “You have to take the first step. Every time.” (www.michellebarr.com)

A wealth of advice sits out in cyberspace, waiting for us to peruse. An internet search of ‘taking action towards goals’ revealed 39,100,000 results.

Books on the subject abound by the dozens. Taking Action by Samuel Blankson, Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future by Leonard A. Schlesinger, and Action Trumps Everything: Creating What You Want in an Uncertain World by Charles Kiefer are just a few of the many selections.

The nebulous advice of ‘Take Action’, or as Nike’s infamous advertisement proclaims ‘Just Do It’, often is harder to put into action than the instruction implies. In Miracles Happen, by Mary Kay Ash, I discovered a technique that has changed my outcome from dreams and procrastination to producing viable results.

Mary Kay shares the story of how Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel in the early years of the 20th century, desired to increase efficiency within the company. Ivy Lee, a leading expert on the subject at the time, made Schwab a proposal. He claimed that if he could spend 15 minutes with each executive, he could increase the team’s effectiveness and increase sales. In three months, Schwab could send him a check for what he felt the advice was worth.

His advice netted Mr. Lee a check for $35,000, at a time when the average worker in the United States was making $2 a day.

His advice was simple, yet profound enough that Mary Kay used it to expand her company the nationwide recognition it has. She called it her ‘$35,000 List’.

Mr. Lee shared that he wanted everyone, for the next 90 days, to make a list. Before leaving the office at the end of the day, he asked that they make a list of the six most important things that had to be done the next day and number them in the order of importance.

The next day, complete the items on the list, in their order of priority, and go on to the next. If something isn’t done, put it on the following day’s list.

When I read this, and started following Mary Kay’s $35,000 List, I immediately saw results. Now, I have to admit, that not everything got done each day. I was very good at transferring items to the next day. Occasionally, since I was still working full time at the time, a list would last me two weeks before everything was crossed off. And, there have been times over the past year where I slip and don’t use this method for several days or weeks. I can always tell by my results when I’m not following this and return to the tried and true hundred year old method.

Try it yourself. What’s six things that you can do tomorrow that will move you closer to the dreams you long for? Make a list. Six things. Now number them in importance. What’s number one? Tomorrow –do that one thing, before you work on any of the others. Yes, that means before Facebook and games, and emails. Then work on the second, and so forth, down your list in the order of importance.

Take Action – it’s a concept that’s vitally important for moving your life from ‘dreams’ to reality.

Out & About – Beauty in Nature

TT_bannerThis month in Tuesday Tales I’m taking a break from romance since it’s NANO time (National Novel Writing Month). Victoria and Toby, in Starting Over, will have to figure out their own way for a few weeks, without me handing them their script. We’ll be back to them when November ends.

My NANO work is a nonfiction, inspirational, tentatively titled: A BETTER LIFE: A TO Z. Today I’m sharing the ‘O’ excerpt – OUT AND ABOUT: BEAUTY IN NATURE.

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt. They snippets are short, only 300 words! Enjoy, then head back to TUESDAY TALES here, for more tales from a creative group of writers.

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OUT AND ABOUT: BEAUTY IN NATURE

TT_December picture promptThe best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.

– Anne Frank

Nature. Peace. Serenity. Health benefits. They are all linked.

Research is proving what many people have intuitively believed for years. Being outside and finding beauty in nature is good for our souls, our health and our mental well-being. Nature is good for us. Savoring the beauty of nature provides both long and short term mental and physical health benefits.

Are you feeling out of sorts? Stressed? On the edge and ready to snap? Go outside! Environmental Science and Technology (2010) reported that ‘just 5 minutes of activity in natural areas resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood.’

You many reply, ‘But I live or work in the city. I don’t have the luxury to drive away or visit a nature preserve.’ You don’t need the country to find solace. Nature is more than wilderness, mountains, prairies and plains. Small community parks and green spaces in urban environments provide the same benefits. Instead of streams and lakes, look for urban spaces with fountains that give the sounds of peaceful, running water.

Give it a try. I challenge you. Five minutes a day. Or longer if you can. After all, if Anne Frank wrote that she felt being amidst the simple beauty of nature was the best remedy, how can we argue? Her troubles make my life look like a fairy tale.

I’ll meet you outdoors!

Celebrate Life

It’s NANO time – National Novel Writing Month.

This month in Tuesday Tales I’m taking a break from romance. Since I’ll be lucky to get to the 50,000 words I need for Nano by the end of the month, I’m doubling up and using this work for my Tuesday Tales prompts also. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘flower’.

Victoria and Toby will have to figure out their own way for a few weeks, without me handing them their script. We’ll be back to them after November ends.

My NANO work is a nonfiction, inspirational tentatively titled: A BETTER LIFE: A TO Z. Today I’m sharing the C excerpt – CELEBRATE LIFE.

Enjoy, then head back to TUESDAY TALES here, for more story snippets from a creative group of writers.

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Celebrate Life!

Celebrate-lifeCelebrate life. This too can be a hard lesson to learn. I thought I was living a full life. I’d grown a lot in the past twenty years. My world had expanded. I was learning to speak up for myself. I became less afraid of rocking the boat. I was less afraid of living a life of my own choices and not simply following what was expected of me. I was happier than ever. I thought I truly appreciated the goodness of life.

I discovered I was wrong.

I also unequivocally thought I was going to live to the age of 85. I was wrong.

Eighty five seemed the perfect age to me. I’d live long enough to have a full and complete life. Of course, this was long before I’d run across the Barcroft TV video of the world’s oldest yoga teacher – Tao Porchon Lynch, 96 years young and still teaching yoga classes – more limber than I ever remember being.

But 85 seemed perfect. I want to die at home, not in a nursing home, unable to fend for myself and unaware of the world around me.

I had it all “planned out”

My plans went awry on October 21, 2010. I had a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

I was on an airplane. We were thirty minutes away from landing in San Francisco for a paranormal conference.

I was 52. It was unplanned. It was not on my agenda for the day – or the year for that matter.

It took about two weeks for the reality of what happened to become real to me.

Finally, when I acknowledged the truth about my unplanned event, I also realized the synchronicity of the incident and how I got a second chance at life.

If I were at home, I would have been sleeping soundly. At the time this would have happened, it would have been about 15 to 20 minutes before the alarm sounded for the first time. By the time the alarm rang, I wouldn’t have hit snooze. It would have been too late.

Instead, I was on an airplane, sitting next to Lisa who began immediate CPR. Three doctors, oxygen, and a defibrillator were all less than 20 to 25 feet away from me, available for immediate use. Now, what’s the odds of that? Not being a gambler, nor a mathematician, I can’t answer that. I just know that it’s a huge number. And this time it was in my favor.

I thought I had a good life before. I did have a good life ‘before’. I discovered that it could be better. It could be more meaningful. I had a second chance. I realized that I was not celebrating life. I did not appreciate the good things in my life as fully as I could. I was letting too much drama and minor irritations could my life with its incessant gloominess.

There’s a reason I didn’t die that day. I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences. Now, it’s up to me to discover the ‘why’.

I’m sure there will be many more discoveries along my journey. But one that I know is that I want to celebrate life. It sure beats the alternative.

Yes, it’s said that only two things in life are unavoidable – taxes and death. Maybe a select few have figured out the way to avoid taxes. But death, that’s one final moment that will come to all of us.

But until it does, for its final call, I plan on reveling in my life. Even if I have a few aches and pains – and hot flashes. I’m here, I’m breathing, and I’m alive. I want to celebrate – EVERY day!

celebrate lifeNorman Cousins, well known for his book Anatomy of an Illness, about the positive effects laughter has on healing, says, “The greatest tragedy in life isn’t death, it’s what we allow to die inside ourselves while we are still living.”

What a tragedy. To be alive – yet to not be fully alive.

Joan Borysenko echoed the sentiment, “The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.”

Begin today to celebrate life.

What is in your life that is good?

What do you appreciate in your life?

Celebrate your life. Rejoice in the moments that have value – both small and large.

On New Year’s Day, just after my SCA, I went out back to deliver bird seed, and some stale bread and crackers, to the bounty of birds eagerly awaiting a treat. It was a beautiful Texas day, clear blue skies and a pleasant 60 degrees, a much appreciated unseasonably warm winter day. I stood listening to the myriad avian songs. I delighted in watching a mockingbird chase the sparrows while the cardinals flitted to and fro around the edges of the yard. A pair of doves cooed as they landed, thankful for the feast.

Several lone dandelions lie sprinkled in the yard like golden confetti – a winter day’s pleasure. My jubilation that day was the enjoyment of the brilliant yellow flowers and the birds, being alive to rejoice with them. And you know, this merrymaking didn’t break the bank. It didn’t cost a cent!

“happy” world mental health day

Originally posted on mulatto diaries:

No matter who is “most likely” to suffer, we’re all affected.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

-A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
-Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.
-During the first full week of October, NAMI and participants across the country are bringing awareness to mental illness. Each year we fight stigma, provide support…

View original 966 more words

How to Write a Review

How to Write a Review.

Here’s an informative blog on writing book reviews, by Kristy Tate, AUTHORS OF MAIN STREET.

Baking up a Storm – 1935 style

Baking up a Storm – 1935 style.

Starting Over #4

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES.

Today’s snippet is part of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

The story of Victoria and her little shop in Oak Grove Square continues. This week we’re writing to a photo prompt. Only 300 words!

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tales site for more entertaining story snippets.

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TT_moon july 2014The wagging tails at the front door almost dispelled her wrath. Almost.

It was when she walked out back with Cody and Cowboy that the brilliant calming light of the full moon fully soothed her. In its place a gentle wave of loneliness washed over her. It didn’t happen often. And when this feeling did drift into her life, it was usually only for a brief time. Generally Victoria was extremely happy with her life. It was full. It was satisfying. She did what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. And a life with an occasional moment of feeling alone was certainly better than having someone in your life that cheated on you whenever they got the chance. Or, in the words of the pilot she’d banished long ago, “… only when ‘the magic’ was gone.”

From now on, she was in charge of the magic in her life. She intended on flying solo for the rest of her days. Especially when the world was full of arrogant jerks like that Toby who’d entered Serendipity earlier that day.

Building cookie cutter houses where my cows used to roam. Really! The thought raised her ire once again.

“Come on boys,” she called to the two dogs roaming the back yard. “Let’s eat and go to bed.”

She was tired. That must explain her irritability. A good night’s sleep is what I need.

A good night’s sleep is not what she got. And it wasn’t visions of sugar plums dancing in her head as she tossed and turned. Although, I suppose some girls may consider the blond hunk that infiltrated her dozing thoughts a sugar plum.

Starting Over – #3

TT_bannerWelcome to TUESDAY TALES.

Today’s snippet is the start of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

Victoria moves to Oak Grove, a tiny town in north Texas, looking for a new beginning. From her quaint antique store on the town square, she encounters more drama than she ever expected. In the midst of getting to know her storekeeper neighbors and learning who she can and can’t trust, will she find the one thing she’s not looking for, true love? Stay tuned each week to find out.

This week’s prompt is: Summer.

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tale site for more entertaining story snippets.

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In between the few customers that wandered in during the afternoon, Victoria priced the dishes and added them to her burgeoning collection. That task out of the way, she allowed herself to sit and peruse the items from the trunk she’d just purchased. She sorted the small quilt pieces, most of the like pieces strung together on a thread. Just like my grandmother kept her quilt pieces together, she mused. She arranged the photographs in various piles. A very few had names and dates written on the back, their fading ink barely legible. She wished that more of the photographs had been documented in some fashion.

journal_Charlotte M CopelandVictoria was elated to discover an old leather bound journal hidden at the bottom. The sporadic dates began in 1903 and ended with a few random entries from the early 40’s. Charlotte M. Copeland. Victoria began reading her tale, fascinated with this woman from the past. How can she – or her relatives – have just left these in the attic of the house they sold?

She started sifting through the photographs, trying to find Charlotte’s name written on any of them. She glanced up and was startled to see the darkness enveloping the square, with the golden halos from the street lights piercing the night time. Goodness. Where had the time gone? A glance down to her watch revealed that she’d technically been closed for over two hours.

And not even an extra customer, thankful that I was open later than usual. Which was too bad. The few customers she did have that day didn’t even begin to cover what she’d paid out to the handsome stranger.

After locking the front door and turning out lights, she grabbed her jacket and headed for the back door. I guess it doesn’t matter I was here late, she muttered to herself. It’s not like anyone’s waiting for me at home. Except the menagerie of dogs and cats that would be irate because their dinner was late.

Turning the corner near home, her headlights reflected ghostly giants sitting in what used to be a twenty acre field. Bulldozers, bobcats, and water trucks sat scattered around the new housing tract that was in the early stages of development. Water and sewer lines were in the midst of being laid, giving the skeleton appearance of where new streets would follow.

OGS_longhorn bluebonnetsA frown settled across her face. So much for enjoying the pasture at the end of my street. I used to love seeing the bluebonnets and paintbrush scattered across the vista and watching the longhorns laze around in the summer shade of the oaks, she thought.

Now it’s going to be just another cookie cutter field of houses. More cars. More traffic. The glow of the headlights illuminated the developer’s sign, posted next to the mandated zoning change sign. ‘TL Burdett Developers’.

The vision of writing out a check to Toby L. Burdett earlier that day surfaced in her memory.

It’s got to be him. No wonder he has no interest in sentimental items – he’s too busy destroying the community in the name of progress.

By the time she reached her front door, her mild irritation had grown into a full blown fury. I hope to goodness that man never crosses my path again.

Starting Over – #2

TT_bannerWelcome to TUESDAY TALES.

Today’s snippet is the start of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

Victoria moves to Oak Grove, a tiny town in north Texas, looking for a new beginning. From her quaint antique store on the town square, she encounters more drama than she ever expected. In the midst of getting to know her storekeeper neighbors and learning who she can and can’t trust, will she find the one thing she’s not looking for, true love? Stay tuned each week to find out.

This week’s prompt is: Sea.

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tale site for more entertaining story snippets.

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The jingling bell above the front door caught Victoria’s attention, interrupting her task of sorting out silverware patterns. A blond god stood in the doorway, haloed by the golden sunshine behind him. His image banished all thoughts of spoons and forks. Well, not all thoughts. Visions of spooning and forking quickly filled her head, but they didn’t have anything to do with the piles of silverware scattered around on the table.

“Hello,” the vision inquired. “Do you work here?”

Victoria momentarily forgot that she was a store keeper and here was a live, walk-in visitor. Where was her customer service? “I’m the owner.” She advanced and held out her hand. “I’m Victoria. Is there anything in particular that you’re looking for today?”

When her extended hand was ignored, she dropped it to her side. Well! How rude. His golden image receded to a mere mortal, an ill-mannered one at that.

“I’m not looking to buy today. I’d like to sell some things. Are you buying?”

“It depends on what you’re offering.” Victoria tried to keep a clipped tone out of her voice. He was still a customer after all, even if he was brusque and obviously didn’t believe in the art of small talk.

Oak grove_old trunk“I have a box of old dishes and a trunk full of old things – mostly junk it looks like, but some old photos and letters, pieces of fabric, things like that.”

“I’d have to see the items to see if they’re anything I’d be interested in.”

“They’re in the car. I’ll go get them.” The visitor reached for the sunglasses perched on top of head and headed outside.

Victoria edged towards the front window, curious as to which vehicle he approached. He was unlocking a sapphire blue BMW Roaster parked directly in front of Serendipity. A soft sigh escaped her lips. The perfect car to showcase such a handsome man. Good thing I’m not in the market for any man or I’d be like a swooning teenager right now.

As he grabbed a dusty box from the trunk, his bulging forearms brought a flush of heat to Victoria’s face. She scurried back to the table filled with silverware, not wanting to be caught watching.

The tinkling bell gave her warning to compose herself.

“Here’s the dishes.” He sat the box on the floor next to Victoria’s well-worn sneakers.

She looked down at her feet. I would have had to dress for comfort this morning. I knew I should have dressed a little classier today. She kneeled down on the floor and folded the box edges back. “Oh! Franciscan Desert Rose! It’s a very …”

“I’ll go get the trunk.”

“ … popular pottery pattern, first produced in 1941,” she muttered to the retreating back. “Not that it looks like you care.”

oak grove_old trunk filledWhen he carried the old steamer trunk in, Victoria didn’t even care that he’d left mid-sentence. Seeing the vintage trunk, excitement bubbled up inside, even if it was marred by a tacky piece of duct tape. He opened the lid, hinges creaking the whole way, and Victoria could hardly contain herself. “Ohhh,” she gasped. She carefully sifted through the sea of treasures within. There were lots of cut out quilt pieces, all vintage calico fabrics, easily dating to the Depression era and possibly earlier. A few skeins of yarn looked handspun and precious. But the tattered box filled with photographs and letters was her favorite find.

She carefully sifted through the old tin types. “Did these belong to one of your relatives?”

“Oh good Lord no. I wouldn’t have any of this old junk around. I found them in the attic of a house I bought. What would you give me for all of it?”

“It depends on how old the dishware is. Although it was first produced in 1941, Franciscan put out this pottery design until 1962 when they sold their plant. In 1984 Wedgewood bought the pattern and moved production to England. Then, Johnson Brothers bought it and ran a limited 60th anniversary line in 2001. Let me take a closer look at what you have.”

The silverware on the table was pushed to one side as piece after piece found their way on the table. Dinner plates, dessert plates, a serving platter, cups and saucers. “These are definitely older pieces, not reproductions. They’re all in very good condition. The butter dish has a few nicks at the base, but they’re not terrible.”

Victoria reached for the pencil and pad she’d been making notes on earlier. Flipping the page over, she started making a list. “Six dinner plates, eight dessert plates, eight saucers, seven cups …” She jotted numbers beside each item on the list and tallied up a total. “I can give you three hundred and fifty dollars for the dishes.”

“Only three hundred and fifty dollars? They’ve got to be worth more than that.” He walked over to some similar plates displayed in a white distressed hutch in the corner. He picked one up. “Look. This single plate here is fourteen dollars.”

“Yes it is.” Victoria bit her lip in an attempt to remain calm. “But if I sell it for fourteen dollars, I can’t pay you fourteen dollars for it. I have to make some money on it too. I have a landlord to pay, utilities to pay, insurance to pay. I’m sure that as a businessman you can understand that.”

A look of understanding passed across his face. “Of course. I didn’t stop to think about that. How about the trunk?”

Victoria looked fondly at the leather carrier. “While this is personally my favorite, the items inside don’t bring much money. Pictures usually only go for a dollar, two tops. The fabric pieces, while fascinating, will probably only sell for maybe ten dollars at best. And the trunk itself is in pretty poor condition. I could go a hundred and fifty dollars for the trunk and everything inside.”

“That’s five hundred all together …” He paused, deep in thought.

Victoria noticed that when he was thinking so intently she liked the way his blue eyes softened with little crinkles on the sides. He wasn’t quite as foreboding or ultra in charge.

The transformation vanished and Mr. no-time-for-dallying-Businessman was back in place. “Deal. I’ll take five hundred for all of it.”

Victoria quickly made out a check, before he changed his mind. She wondered as she was writing it out – ‘Toby L. Burdett’ – why does that sound familiar?

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