Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Episode 32 - Which is worse?

The last time we saw Barbara, she was dissolving before her workshop guests after meeting up with a baby…a baby that had reminded her all too much of the pregnancy she had lost. Even though Barbara had tried to hold herself together, she had managed to give the most disastrous catalog tour ever before having a breakdown in front of them all.

Amazingly, though, that workshop had not only set the record for the most horrible catalog tour, it had also set the record for sales. Because once the women there found out why Barbara had broken down, they were so sympathetic and wonderful that she had gone on to give a dazzling demonstration and they had responded by pulling out their checkbooks and credit cards. Her hostess had been stunned at how much free merchandise she would receive. However wonderful it had been, Barbara fervently hoped she wouldn’t have to do that every time she did a workshop. As it was, she had gotten five bookings for the next two months and should be comfortably busy for a while.

And now, a few weeks later, Barbara pulled into the garage after having done the first booking off of that amazing workshop. This one had gone very well and she had a very comfortable feeling about the stack of order forms she already had. Because the hostess had decided to keep the workshop open for a few days, Barbara had been able to leave a little earlier than usual. She decided to leave her stuff in the car overnight and tote it all in the next morning. Tonight she was too tired to bother.

Barbara walked into the house and heard the television blaring from the family room…another ball game. “What did men get out of sitting and watching other men play a sport?” she wondered. Barbara had given up doing workshops where she demonstrated most of the projects because the women got bored; they wanted to get in there with the stamps and inks and make things themselves. So it was hard to understand just what people got out of watching sports; surely it was much more fun to play them yourself? She walked into the family room, but her husband Brad wasn’t in there…where was he?

Barbara dumped her purse and her keys on the kitchen table as she walked back to the bedrooms. The master bedroom door was ajar and light streamed down the hallway. Barbara pushed open the door and walked in. Brad was standing in the door of his closet, turning off the light. He turned and said, “Oh, hi, honey! You’re home early! I was just, um, putting on my robe and slippers so I can be comfortable while watching the game!” Brad closed the closet door, tightened the belt on his robe and giving her a peck on the cheek, walked past her, down the hall towards the television.

Barbara frowned; that wasn’t like Brad. He usually wasn’t a robe and slipper man, preferring to wait until bedtime before he got out of his clothing for the day. She glanced around the bedroom. Something was not quite right in the room, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was. The bed was made, the room was tidy, but there was something different. She sighed. It was probably nothing. Barbara went into the bedroom she had turned into her private office and stamping haven and booted up her computer.

Even if she and Brad had been talking much lately, she would not be able to even attempt a conversation until the ball game was over. Things seemed to have been improving between them after the miscarriage, but lately she had noticed Brad was getting more and more distant and less talkative. He wasn’t even bragging that much about the cars he had sold each day. Barbara had tried after the disastrously successful workshop to talk to Brad about trying to have another child, but he had said he was just not ready yet. Since conversation was unlikely, she might as well go online.

Barbara waited patiently for her computer to finish booting so she could cruise the website she had recently discovered: Splitcoaststampers. Barbara had been loyal to Stampin’ Discuss until just recently, when it seemed like it took forever for the moderator to post anything. On Splitcoast, you could post in real time and get answers to questions right away. And the galleries were fantastic!

A window popped up as her computer desktop built itself; it was time for her One Button Check Up, it told her. As she waited for Norton System Works to clean up her temporary files and perform a system check, her glance wandered around the room. There were all of the things she had pulled out in a rush the other day to make a card. “Might as well clean up while I wait,” she thought as she walked over to the desk.

Barbara picked up a stamp, stamped the ink off on her grid paper and pulled the Stampin’ Scrub towards her so she could clean it. Glancing down at the grid paper as she spritzed the Stampin’ Mist on her scrub, Barbara did a double take. This wasn’t the ink she had used with this stamp…this was a dirty brown, not the black she had used to stamp the greeting. She looked at the pads lying around on the desk. There was a Yoyo Yellow pad there, the cover closed unevenly. Barbara couldn’t remember pulling that pad out, much less using it and closing it that way.

She opened the Yoyo Yellow pad and gasped…there in the middle of her beautiful ink pad was a black stain from the same stamp! Barbara could see the ink dissipating into the pad, but the words were still visible. “Husband, Wife, Happy Life!” it said. Her beautiful yellow pad, the one she’d bought just for herself to use after guests had messed up her original one, was ruined! The pad surface slowly turned orange as a Real Red mist of anger rose before Barbara’s eyes!

Who had been in her room using her things?! Barbara’s eyes roamed around the room, looking for other things out of place. She pulled out the wastebasket and found paper scraps and not little ones, either. Whoever had been in her room had had no respect for using the smallest piece of cardstock necessary, but had cut little pieces out of entire sheets and discarded the rest!

Barbara felt her breath coming fast and tight in her chest. Someone had been in her room, using, messing up her things! Then she froze, remembering: the pillows on the bed in the master bedroom had been lying flat on the bed and the pillows with the decorative shams were lying on top of them. She didn’t make her bed that way! Barbara stood her bed pillows up and leaned them against the headboard. She felt her face contort into a mask of anger as she strode into the bedroom and pulled back the covers of the bed. There was a long red hair in the middle of the bed on top of the Gable Green sheets, not Barbara’s hair color at all, at all.

Will Barbara confront Brad with the evidence? Will she kick him out on his rear like he deserves? And what will push her to do it: the long red hair or the ruined Yoyo Yellow pad? Tune in for the next exciting episode of….the Tearing Edge!

Episode 31 - Don't come a knockin' when the UPS van.....

The last time we saw Vicky, she was just leaving on a date with her handsome UPS driver, John. Unbeknownst to them, they had been followed from Vicky’s house as they had left for their date.

However, the date had progressed without incident. Vicky recalled it fondly as she waited for John to show up with her latest shipment from SU! He had been restored to his old route, so Vicky saw him as often as she ordered.

John had taken Vicky fishing, something that she frankly had not enjoyed much…she was not a person who could sit in a boat for long periods of time. Vicky remembered that her mother had been the same way and had told Vicky that most of the fights she had had with Vicky’s dad had been over when it was time to stop fishing and go back to the dock!

But for Vicky, just being with John had been so exhilarating that she didn’t really mind just this once. Hopefully, they could do something more to her taste the next time. Even if the date was not to her taste, the kiss they had shared after John took her to her front door certainly had been! Vicky gazed out the window mistily, not really seeing what was before her. When John came with her order, she would suggest going to the movies or maybe bowling if he enjoyed that.

Suddenly Vicky jumped…she had heard what sounded like a UPS truck outside! But when she ran to the door and flung it open, it turned out to be a school bus dropping the neighbors’ six-year-old child, Emily, off from school.

Vicky waved at Emily, sighed, closed the door, and turned back to the task at hand: trying to decide how many catalogs to order for the new catalog year. Last year she had gotten five boxes and she had regretted buying so many…with her two clubs, the eight she like to have on hand for workshops, plus some to sell…that should make four boxes. Vicky opened her laptop and prepared to sign-on to the SU! site to enter her catalog pre-order, but a noise from outside brought her quickly to her feet and to the door again.

It was John! He pulled his truck to a stop and grinned at her before disappearing into the back to get her package. Vicky smiled; she had a great idea! Quickly, she ran down her front steps, waved to Emily who was now playing outside, and quietly climbed the steps into the truck. She stepped into the back and quickly put her hands over John’s eyes as he bent over her package, crying “Guess who!!”

John grabbed her hands and turned within her arms. Laughing, he said, “I’ve got you now!! You’ll see how I treat women who ambush me in my truck!” John bent his head down to her warm lips...but before his lips touched hers they were both startled by the slamming of the door to the cab of the truck! John leapt for the door and tried to tug it open, but his efforts were in vain. They both heard the truck start up and were thrown off balance as the truck pulled away from the curb. Vicky and John sprawled together over the SU! box, which, Vicky noted rather abstractly, held up amazingly well under both their weights…maybe SU! had gotten a new box supplier? The boxes she had been receiving in recent shipments would never have stood up to this treatment!

Vicky caught her breath and sat up. “What’s going on? Is it locked?” she panted.

“I don’t know!” said John, “This door locks, but the latch should open it; whoever did this must have managed to jam it shut!”

Vicky clung to John, “I don’t understand…who would do this? What do they want?”

Did Emily see Vicky and John being kidnapped? Will she tell her mom and have her call 911? Did she see who did it? Can she pick them out of a police line-up? Who DID do this? And what DO they want? Gosh…I don’t know either! Whoever it was, you certainly won’t find out now…you’re gonna have to wait until the next episode of….the Tearing Edge!

Episode 30 - Barbara - 0, Anouk - 1

The last time we saw Barbara, she was stranded in the bathroom at her hostess Amanda’s house, with ten women arriving for a workshop at any moment. The reason for Barbara’s current emotionally fragile state was crying lustily out in the family room. Barbara realized she had to face being around a baby sometime after her own unfortunate miscarriage, so she managed to screw up her courage, go out and set up her demonstration area and the stamping table, trying not to look too closely at Kelly, the baby’s mother, especially while Kelly breastfed baby Anouk,.

The women all arrived in due course…the workshop was scheduled for 7:00 PM, but as usual, that was when people just started arriving; Barbara’s workshops typically started at 7:30 and this one was no exception.

“Good evening, ladies!” Barbara swung into workshop mode, “I’m Baby…I mean, I’m Barbara Baby…I mean…er…I’m Barbara Bradley and I’ll be your Stampin’ Up! demonstrator for the evening!” Barbara felt herself growing red and tried desperately to make her mouth behave, “How many of you have never had a baby….oops, I mean never been to a Stampin’ Up! workshop before? Wow! So many! Well, let me tell you what to expect this evening! We’re going to have fun!” Barbara’s mind went blank and she had a moment of “dead air” while she desperately tried to get her brain back on track.

“Yes….fun! That’s right, fun. Um….tonight we’re going to make…er…this lovely card and a very cute tag, uh, suitable for many gift giving occasions, like, um…birthdays and with just a few touches, uh…you could use it for, I mean…” Barbara tried to force the word to come out that had come out so easily and in the wrong places before, but she stammered badly as she said it, “B-b-b-baby or wedding showers!” Barbara chanced a look at the faces of her guests and was embarrassed to see that they looked taken aback at their demonstrator’s verbal convolutions. Still, she pressed on, “B-b-b-but b-b-before I get started,” Barbara could feel a muscle in her cheek start to twitch and her voice starting to shake, “I am going to make a nice little gift for our hostess!”

Barbara began to get into the rhythm of her demonstration as she wheeled the bag and put the incentive stamp, cut cardstock and ribbon within as she showed the ladies how to mount and trim stamps, how to open and close an ink pad and demonstrated the unique features of Stampin’ Up!’s products. The demonstration was going much, much better, and Barbara was just starting to relax when Anouk started to fuss and then outright wail!

“STAMPIN’ UP!’S STAMPS ARE SUCH A BARGAIN,” Barbara had to raise her voice to be heard over Anouk’s strident crying, “BECAUSE THEY ARE S-S-SOLD IN S-S-SETS!” Barbara felt her face starting to crumple into a jagged mask as she fought the sobs trying to come out. “IF YOU J-J-JUST TAKE A L-L-LOOK AT THE IMAGES ABOVE THIS LINE, YOU’LL SEE ALL THE STAMPS THAT G-G-G-OOOOOOO..........!!!!” Barbara found herself giving a primal howl in concert with Anouk; thankfully the tears now pouring from her eyes prevented her from seeing the absolutely horrified faces of what were meant to be customers, but were probably now going to be the instruments of Nemesis, spreading word of Barbara Bradley, Independent Stampin’ Up! Flake, far and wide.

Will Barbara’s guests really be so mean as to tell this story? Will Barbara get herself together enough to finish the workshop? Will she ever want to do a workshop again and if she does, would anyone book with her? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of…..the Tearing Edge!

Episode 29 - Dianne makes a shocking discovery

The last time we saw Dianne, she had just managed to overpower a definitely weird Sara at the SU! convention. She had returned in triumph, to find a very softened Heather and a very unhappy downline, Barbara, who had miscarried her baby. While Dianne was sad for Barbara, she was thrilled to find that Heather had behaved so well over the whole thing. And most of all, Dianne was very happy that the creepy Josh, whom she had never really cared for, was now out of the picture.

But if Dianne had thought it would be smooth sailing with Heather from now on, she was destined for disappointment. Teenagers with hormones at the gallop rarely change for the better all at once. This morning, now that the creepy Josh had gone, Heather was brooding over her college applications. She wanted to go to culinary school, but could not make up her mind which one.

"I just don't know!!" Heather whined, "If I go to this one, I have to live on campus the first year, but this one doesn't have any housing at all! Who knew choosing a school would be so hard!"

Dianne wanted to point out the good features for the school she wanted Heather to go to, one which happened to be close enough to home so that Heather could continue living there. But she had become wiser since the Josh incident. If Dianne tried to get Heather to choose that school, Heather would be bound to pick the school that was farthest away!

"Errghwwewhheh!" shrieked Heather, "I am fed up with this crap! I'm going out for some fresh air!" Heather slapped the brochures and applications down on the kitchen table, grabbed her purse and stalked out the front door, giving it a healthy slam as she did so.

Dianne sighed. She went to the front closet and got Heather's baby scrapbook out and sat flipping through the pages. "God sure knew what he was doing," she mused, "He makes them so cute when they are babies that it becomes impossible to kill them when they are teenagers!"

Dianne often found comfort in gazing at the innocent eyes and chubby cheeks that were once Heather's. Now she was lucky if she saw Heather's eyes at all, since they were often hidden by a curtain of hair or a pair of sunglasses.

Dianne closed the scrapbook with a snap. "Well, that's enough of that! I need to get down to the craft store and pick up some votives for that stamp camp next week!" She stood up and returned the scrapbook to the closet, got her purse and went out to her car which was parked in the driveway since she had set up for her stamp camp in her garage. But as she approached her car, she gasped in shock and disbelief.

All of her tires were flat! And when Dianne got closer, she could see that every tire was slashed with a peculiarly jagged cut in each one. Who could have done such a thing? Dianne raced inside and called the police.Who slashed Dianne's car tires? Was it the creepy Josh? Or the deranged Sara? Is it the same person who is stalking John and Vicky? Only time will tell on....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 28 - Finally...Vicky and John go on a date

The last time we saw Vicki, she was listening intently to a phone ringing: John’s phone. She was calling him from convention on her cell phone when she ran out of minutes and had had to work fast to get connected through the hotel phone. Vicki had finally gotten through to John and had set up a date with him after she got back from convention. She had floated through convention on a Bliss Blue cloud and Dianne often had to nudge her out of daydreams in order to change classrooms or to move out of the main stage area. But now Vicki was back from convention and getting ready for her first date with John.

Vicki leaned in towards the mirror and applied her eye shadow carefully. She didn’t like too much make-up and was sparing with the mascara too. Her own mother was one of those blue eye-shadow queens from the early 70’s, so one of Vicki’s chosen rebellions was to go for a natural make-up look…anything to avoid looking like her mother!

As she applied her make-up, she wondered where John would be taking her. He told her not to dress up, but that they would be having fun. Pressed for details, he just laughed and said he was sure she would love where they were going.

Vicki had tried on and rejected half a dozen outfits before setting on a pair of jeans, a sweater that was a Sage Shadow color, and her favorite pair of cowboy boots, broken in just right. She swept her hair back, checked her make up one more time and decided she was ready, just as the doorbell rang. She rushed to the door and opened it.

John stood outside, a bunch of flowers in his hand. “The last bunch had a card in them, but I figured these wouldn’t need one, since I’m giving them to you in person!”

“Thank you, John, they are beautiful!” Now that Vicky was with John, conscious of the way he was looking at her and knowing that they finally were going on a real date, she felt shy. She stammered, “Um...just let me put these in some vases, I mean in some water in a vase and we can get going! Where are we going, by the way?”

“Oh, you’ll find out when we get there!” John was grinning at her maddeningly.

Vicky put the flowers in some water and grabbed her purse. John and Vicky walked down to the curb, where John’s Chevy Silverado was parked and got in.

As John guided the truck into traffic, a car parked a few houses down quietly pulled into traffic behind them and proceeded to follow them closely as they went on to their destination.

Where is John taking Vicky? Who is in the car following them so closely? Is it the mysterious girl from the hospital who spoke to Vicky briefly when John was in the emergency room? Is it the deranged Sarah, waiting to revenge herself on Vicky for interrupting her master plan to be Dianne for convention? Or is it some other wacko-nutcase whose secret agenda we don’t know yet? Are you biting your fingernails? Are you? Well, you shouldn’t, ‘cause you never know how long it might be until the next episode of…..the Tearing Edge!

Episode 27 - Do we have to buy two of everything?

The last time we saw Barbara, she was recovering from her recent miscarriage at Dianne's house. Since then, Dianne had come back from convention with her extraordinary story of being held hostage by Sara, her downline. Barbara was just amazed at the story, and thrilled with the convention goodies that Dianne had brought back.

Barbara had finally moved back home with Brad. Things were still tentative between the two of them; the loss of the pregnancy had brought them together, but it seemed like a truce rather than a cessation of hostilities. Tonight Barbara had her first workshop since losing the baby; she needed to get back on track to boost her sales.

Barbara looked in the mirror. She definitely needed to make up her face. Barbara was blessed with good skin and rosy lips, so she often only needed a touch of eye shadow and mascara in the morning. This evening, though, she looked tired, so she decided to put on a face for her customers.

First, some foundation. Where were those cosmetic wedge sponges she used for that? Oh, that's right, Barbara remembered, I used them all doing polished stone last week. Instead, Barbara dabbed the foundation on with her fingers, hating how the liquid felt on her fingers. Next some eye shadow. Barbara reached in the drawer, fumbling for a fresh applicator as the one in the case looked ragged. Then she remembered: she'd used all the eye shadow applicators in that stamp camp doing chalk dragging! Rats! Oh, well, just use the ragged one, she thought, wincing as the plastic stem poked through the soft tip and scratched her eyelid.

When Barbara had finished her face, she looked at her hair carefully. There was that strand that always stuck out and it was sticking out again! She reached up into the linen closet for that container of hair goo she used in such emergencies. Her fingers met the back of the cabinet without encountering the round jar. Then Barbara remembered; she'd used up the hair goo doing those water cards for another stamp camp and had forgotten to buy more!

Hairspray! That was the answer! Barbara turned to go to her bedroom to grab the can she kept on her dresser since Brad did not like to walk into a bathroom with "hairspray clouds" floating in the air, but then stopped. She remembered that she'd left it in her car after she'd used it at Dianne's house to try something using pastels and had sealed it with hairspray. Brad had borrowed her car today so he could get the oil changed and had left her his Suburu, so no hair spray either!

Well, there was always wetting that part of her hair and blow drying it...ooops! The hair dryer was in the car too! How aggravating! Barbara wet the strand down and decided that it would just have to dry naturally...she was running out of time!

Barbara hopped in the car, which was already loaded with her workshop gear and drove over to her hostess' house. Her name was Amanda and Barbara didn't know her very well; she'd booked her workshop off Barbara's last hostess' workshop.

Amanda opened the door to Barbara's ring: "Barbara, so great to see you! I am all ready for you in the family room and I have a table set up for you to demonstrate on! Come this way!"

Barbara followed Amanda through the house into a large family room on the back of the house. There was a woman standing looking out the doorwall holding something; Barbara couldn't see what it was since her back was to Barbara.

"Barbara, this is my sister-in-law, Kelly and her baby, Anouk. Kelly, this is Barbara, the Stampin' Up! demonstrator" The woman turned and Barbara saw that she had a small baby in her arms; she could not have been very old since Kelly still looked a bit pregnant and was wearing a maternity top that must double as a nursing top. Barbara's brain went numb. A baby! She felt odd...quite faint, actually. "How do you do? How nice to meet you!" Barbara stammered, her mind reeling. She had been trying to forget about her own misfortune and didn't think about babies any more than should could help, but here was one right in front of her! She stammered, "Uh, Amanda, could I use your powder room?"

"Sure thing, Barbara, it's right this way!' Amanda showed Barbara to a half bath off the kitchen. Barbara shut the door, put the lid down on the toilet and sat, shaking. How was she going to go back out there with that baby in the room! It made her feel...she wasn't sure HOW it made her feel, but it wasn't good. Barbara debated about whether she should just tell her hostess that she was sick and bolt home, leaving 12 women high and dry. Amanda was a new customer and the potential link in a long chain of customers, which Barbara could not afford to alienate. What was she going to do?

Will Barbara cut and run out on Amanda? Will she do the workshop anyway, all the while pining for her own child? Will she decided she needs to get pregnant again and go home and er...well, you know! Anyway, if you want to know the answers to these and many other questions, stay tuned for the next episode of.....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 26 - Just in case you're wondering...Stella

The last time we saw Stella, she had just walked into the room in response to Cyril's anguished cry of "STELLLLLAAAA!!!" Unbeknownst to her (gee I've always wanted to use that phrase in a story and now I have), Cyril wasn't shouting her name, but was reacting to the fact that Chore Chart and not Stella Stamper was the set released for SU!'s 15th anniversary special. Cyril had collapsed and Stella had called 911. They rushed Cyril to the hospital, but the doctors still weren't sure what was wrong with Cyril. He remained in a coma and underwent a battery of tests, but still the doctors had no idea what had caused Cyril's collapse.

Stella had had to cancel the wedding, of course. She came faithfully to the hospital every day for the first month or two, but lately, she had not been getting there every day. What was the point? Cyril could not recognize her anyway.

Today, Stella sighed and glanced at the clock. Visiting hours had almost started and she really needed to get up to the hospital. She fetched her purse from her bedroom, got into her immaculate BMW and drove off. She pulled into the parking structure and was lucky enough to find a spot fairly near the elevator. Stella worked out every day in her personal gym, so she felt that any extra physical exertion was a waste of time.

Stella nodded hello to the nurses at the nurses station. They seemed to be avoiding looking at her; whatever could be the matter? As she neared Cyril's room, she was surprised to hear the murmur of voices. It wasn't time for rounds, so it couldn't be his doctor. Cyril had no family to speak of, just a far off brother in Texas that he often joked about.

Just outside the door, Stella paused, straining to hear what was being said. But the voice was low and murmuring something she couldn't quite catch. She squared her shoulders, took a breath and walked in.

Next to Cyril's bed, Stella was surprised to find a tall man bending over Cyril and stroking his hand. He was very handsome; this certainly couldn't be the brother Cyril was always joking about! He reminded Stella of something...now what was it? Cowboys...yes, the cowboy in that retired SU! set...now what was the name of that again?

The man looked up at Stella coldly. "Who are you?" he asked with a sneer. He had a British accent, which made Stella revise her cowboy idea immediately.

"I'm Stella, Cyril's fiancee! Who are you?" Stella demanded, flustered.

"I'm Montague Capulet, Cyril's....er...friend," the man replied, staring piercingly at Stella.

"I don't understand," Stella said, "they only allow family members in this ward.""You're not a family member and you're here," Montague retorted.

"But I'm going to marry Cyril! At least, we were going to get married before this happened! Why did they let you in here?" Stella asked again.

"I am, what in Britain would be called, a 'particular friend' of Cyril's," replied Montague.

Stella paled and sat down hard in the chair in the room's corner. She looked at the monitors at Cyril's bedside as they flashed and flickered, letting her know that Cyril's heart was still beating and his vital signs remained stable, something she was far sure of in her own body. Stella was a bit of an Anglophile, so she had a good idea what Marshall meant by that.

"But...Cyril's not....Cyril is....we were......what do you mean?" Stella whispered, unable to force a normal voice out of her throat. She felt something like she used to feel when she'd used stamp cleaners made by companies other than SU! Her breath caught in her throat and she felt dizzy. The room swam around her in sickening Gable Green waves. The room spun crazily and then the blessed Basic Black darkness overcame Stella.

Does "particular friend" mean what we think it means? Will Cyril wake up soon and let Stella know he loves her? Or will Stella finally find out that Cyril was living a lie? Stay tuned for the next.....Tearing Edge!

Episode 25 - Dang cell phones, anyway....

The last time we saw Dianne, she was being confronted by Sara, one of her downline. Sara had been so disappointed by not being able to attend convention that she was holding a gun on Dianne and about to tie her up so that she could go to convention in Dianne's place, counting on their startling resemblance to each other to carry it off.

Dianne's mind raced, trying to think of a way out of this dilemma. She peered at the gun in Sara's hand, trying to determine whether it was real or not. "Sara, don't be stupid!" Dianne tried to model a nonchalance that she really didn't feel, "Even if you killed me, you wouldn't get away with it! Surely going to convention this one year isn't worth life in prison!"

Sara's eyes narrowed. She opened her lips, and appeared about to speak, when suddenly the door opened behind her. Vicky came into the room saying, "Dianne, are you ready.....?"

Sara spun around and Dianne leapt forward, wrapping one arm around Sara's neck in a choke hold, while with other hand she grabbed the hand holding the gun and wrenched it out of Sara's hand. Sara gasped and struggled for breath. Dianne forced Sara to the floor, put her knee in Sara's back and pinned her arms behind her. "Vicky, thank God you came in when you did!"

Vicky stood, eyes wide, "Wha'...what's going on? What's Sara doing here? Is that a real gun?"

"I don't know," Dianne said, "Can you check and see?" I have to hold on to Sara until the police get here."

Vicky knelt by the gun where it lay after Dianne had flung it from her. Without touching it, she really could not tell if it was a real gun or not. "I think the police should check this...I don't want to touch it. I'll call the front desk and get them to send security up here and call the cops."

It took quite some time for the whole thing to be wrapped up. The police finally came and determined that the gun was an old cigarette lighter that only looked like a gun. Dianne was worried about Sara; she felt that Sara was more in need of psychiatric treatment than a spell in jail. Dianne decided to not press charges against Sara as long as Sara agreed to get on a plane home and call a psychiatrist immediately. Sara agreed; the rough physical encounter with Dianne and the presence of the police seemed to have snapped her out of the convention mania that had possessed her sometime before.

When everyone was finally gone, Vicky turned to Dianne and said, "There's still time to visit the Memento Mall tonight. You up for it?"

Dianne laughed shakily, reached out and picked up her purse. "Ready whenever you are! Can we grab a drink first...I need something to settle my nerves." A cell phone shrilled, startling both women.

Vicky said, "That one's mine." She flipped up the cover of her phone and said, "Hello? Oh, hi Barbara! What's up?"

Dianne saw Vicky turn white, then pink with excitement. "You did! You've got John's phone number! I can't believe it! Let me find a pen!" Vicky scrabbled in her purse for a pen and a piece of scratch paper and wrote the number down that Barbara provided. "Barbara, you are such a jewel! Thank you nine hundred million times! I'll have to get you something really great from convention! Bless you!...Okay, I'll talk to you later! Bye!"

Vicky hung up and said to Dianne, "It's John's address...I mean his number, you know, his PHONE number...I haven't been able to call him ever and now I can!"

Dianne said, "Well, of course you must call him now! Do you want to meet me at the Memento Mall after you make your call?"

"Yes! I'll meet you down there!" Vicky sat down on the bed after Dianne left the room and pulled out her cell phone. With fingers shaking with excitement she dialed the number.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Would John ever pick up? Finally Vicky heard a click and the voice she had learned to love so well said, "Hello?"

Vicky drew a careful breath. "John, it's Vicky! About the other night when you wanted to go out to dinner, well, I couldn't..." But before Vicky could finish her sentence and tell John she couldn't call him because he had forgotten to write his phone number on the card in the flowers he had sent her, Vicky's phone made a chiming noise and a woman's carefully soothing voice interrupted, "We're sorry, but your Horizon phone has just run out of minutes. Please call your Horizon representative as soon as possible to load more minutes into your phone." There was a click and the phone went dead.

Vicky swore and flung the cell phone aside. Grabbing the paper with the number, she lunged for the hotel phone and navigated the complicated process of charging the call to her credit card and redialing John's number. She held her breath as the last digit went in.

Will John's phone ring? Or will Vicky get a busy signal? Did John think Vicky had hung up on him? Did he switch his voice mail on so that he wouldn't have to talk to her? Or is he sitting by the phone hoping she'll call back? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 24 - Barbara's loss, Heather's growth...

The last time we saw Barbara, she was being rushed to the hospital by Heather, Dianne's daughter. In spite of the fact that Heather got Barbara to the hospital as quickly as she could, it was to no avail. Barbara had miscarried.

Now Barbara was back at Dianne's house in bed resting. Dianne was due back from convention tomorrow and after that Barbara would be free to return home. Heather had been a model child after Barbara's miscarriage and had shown a new maturity level that was refreshing, to say the least. Heather no longer wanted to have anything to do with Josh since he had shown his cowardly side in the miscarriage crisis. She had been taking tender care of Barbara, bringing her trays with such tempting meals that Barbara had idly wondered how Heather managed to afford buying so much take out. The truth was that Heather was actually quite a good cook and planned to go to a culinary school when she graduated from high school.

Now, as Barbara sat in bed, gazing out the window, she struggled with the conflicting emotions she had had since the miscarriage. The most disturbing emotion was a feeling of overwhelming relief that it was all over. She found it disturbing that she felt this way...shouldn't she be mourning the baby more? Barbara did experience grief and sadness as well; she had just started to feel connected to the baby. But the marital problems she had been having with Brad had made her wonder if she wanted to remain married to him after the baby was born. She firmly believed that children deserved parents who loved one another and lived together to raise their children. Now the baby was no longer an issue; Barbara was free to leave Brad if she so chose. But she wasn't sure how she felt about Brad now. She had not yet told him about the miscarriage.

Another emotion was guilt. Barbara felt very guilty for lifting those catalog boxes. The doctor had explained that the fetus probably was not viable anyway and that lifting the boxes had not made much of a difference. But Barbara felt guilt all the same. And even more guilt because she felt so much relief, it was almost as if she had killed her child by not wanting it enough.

How did one go about telling people about this? She hadn't told too many people about the pregnancy, so at least she would be spared sending out a bunch of notes. Barbara remembered a card she had gotten once from a girl who was just one month pregnant joyfully announcing their "expectations." She had felt amused that the card companies actually made a card for people to announce pregnancies at all...it seemed there was a card for every occasion. Barbara had received cards from people announcing the adoption of children, the amicable divorce of couples, the acrimonious divorce of couples, and deaths of dogs and cats! All made by prominent card companies!

Sometimes Barbara felt that the card companies grasped at any straw to sell a card. It almost made Brad's stubborn insistence that Valentine's Day was a "Hallmark Holiday" make sense. But Barbara knew this was just Brad being cheap as usual, and lazy to boot. He just didn't want to go out of his way to choose a card, much less fork out the money for one, much less buy his wife flowers and candy to make her feel special! Barbara thought gloomily of the way he always said, "I don't need a holiday to tell my wife that I love her." Yeah right, thought Barbara, you don't need ANY day to tell me you love me...you just don't bother at all!

Dear, dear, this wouldn't do at all...thinking of Brad just required too much effort, too much wasted emotion. Barbara tried to turn her thoughts in another direction. Oh, yes, how should she inform her friends of what had happened?

Barbara picked at the blanket on the bed as her imagination began creating a card for her occasion...how would one make a miscarriage card? One of the babies from Baby Firsts with a big "X" marked through it? The "Uh Oh!" from the retired Everyday Expressions stamped below? How morbid! Barbara thought, Why can't I stop making these weird cards in my head? I must be really such an awful person! I don't deserve to be a mother!

Barbara rolled over in bed and stifled a sob. She didn't want to disturb Heather. Heather had been a brick. Barbara didn't want to be a burden on anybody, she just wanted to be alone with her grief.

All of a sudden, Heather burst into the room with a tray. "I've had about enough of this!" she said, "It wasn't your fault that you miscarried...millions of women have had at least one miscarriage! You need to get back to what makes Barbara Barbara." And with that, Heather plopped the tray in Barbara's lap and left the room.

Barbara gazed, stunned, down at the contents of the tray. On the tray was a pile of cardstock, cut into card sized pieces, bits of cardstock in smaller sizes, a black ink pad, a set of pastels, blender pens, a paper trimmer, scissors and "Coast to Coast"; a set that Barbara had been lusting after but had not bought yet. She gazed at the lighthouses, so serene. Barbara thought how wonderful it would be to travel to the ocean, to one of these lighthouses, and to sit listening to the waves. She could almost hear the roar of the sea and smell the salt air. She picked up the stamp marked "Oregon," inked it and stamped on some naturals white cardstock. The thrill was still there when she lifted the stamp to see the perfect image beneath. Barbara decided that this set was perfect to make cards to send to her friends. The cards would be simple, tasteful, and there would be a brief note written within to let her friends know of the ordeal she had been through. She opened the pastels, picked up a blender pen, and began to paint.

Will Barbara leave Brad? Will she be able to support herself on just her SU! demonstratorship, or will she have to get a day gig? Will Dianne let her stay on after she gets back from convention? And do we know that Dianne IS coming back from convention or did the obviously unhinged Sara murder her? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of...the Tearing Edge!

Episode 23 - Sara's plans are revealed....

The last time we saw Dianne, she was getting ready for convention, secure in the knowledge that her daughter, Heather, was in good hands with Barbara in the house.

And now Dianne had just arrived at the convention center in Las Vegas and felt the usual thrill of anticipation. She was very careful to keep an eye on her bag, knowing that Las Vegas was full of thieves.

Dianne registered for her hotel room and took the elevator to her room. This was the first year she had decided to get a private room; usually she had shared one with some of her downline. This year, Dianne had some extra cash and decided to splurge. She could always spend part of the evenings chatting with her downline, but Dianne preferred to sleep alone!

At first, after Mike had died, she had missed his warm presence next to her in the night. But as time went on, Dianne had found that she definitely did not miss the sound of his snoring, and the sometimes obnoxious BO that emanated from him if he had been working in the yard and had gotten sweaty. Dianne relished having the bed all to herself.

Traveling to conventions and sharing rooms had sometimes been exhausting. Certain of her downline, she found, snored just as loudly as Mike had. When Dianne would make a joke about it, they actually acted like they had no idea that they actually snored! Dianne was a light sleeper since Mike died and just could not sleep through the noise. But there was no worry tonight!

Dianne was unpacking and hanging her clothes in the closet when she heard a knock at her door. Puzzled, she peered through the peephole. It was Sara! What was she doing here? Dianne was sure she was staying home; Sara had registered too late to get into convention and had sent all her swaps with Dianne.

Dianne opened the door. "Why, Sara! I didn't expect to see you here!" Sara seemed to be nervous, but laughed shakily and said, "Can I come in?" "Sure!" Dianne said, "I'm just unpacking and about to go downstairs to go shopping at the Memento Mall."

Sara stepped inside the door and closed it carefully. "Actually, Dianne, you're not going shopping, I am!" Dianne glanced up from her unpacking, startled. Sara had a gun! "What do you think you're doing, Sara!" Dianne sputtered.

Sara sneered. "You mean you don't have any clue? I'm going to go shopping in your place, to convention in your place, because it's just not fair! I NEED to be there, HAVE to be there, don't you understand? No one will know that I'm not you! I'm going to take your clothes and your ID and I will be you!" Sara laughed, a bit hysterically.

Dianne was appalled. She knew that Sara had been disappointed not to go to convention, but Dianne had had no idea that it had unhinged her to this degree. "Wait a minute, Sara, you don't have any idea what you are getting into! This is a felony, you will be sent to jail once I tell the police what you did!"

Sara smiled, an evil smile. "How do you know that you'll ever get to tell? Bwahahahahaha!"

Is Sara going to kill Dianne, or just tie her up and steal her identity? Will she trade all of Dianne's carefully constructed contempo swaps for warm and wonderful ones? Will Sara get her picture taken with Shelli instead of Dianne? Will Sara's picture appear in the next "On Stage" magazine with Dianne's name tag on her chest? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of.....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 22 - What we'll do for a new catalog....

When last we saw Barbara, she had just moved into Dianne's house ostensibly to get away from Brad, but also to keep an eye on Heather, Dianne's sulky 15 year old daughter, while Dianne was at convention.

Today Barbara was excited. Her new catalogs were due to arrive today and she just couldn't wait! Barbara had whiled the first couple of days of not being at convention by reading the highlights on the Stampin' Up! website and anticipating those new catalogs arriving. It was the only thing that made not being at convention bearable, knowing that those new catalogs would be arriving soon. And today was the day!

The only problem was that the catalogs were coming to her own house, so Barbara would have to leave Heather on her own for a few hours while she waited at home. Heather had been distant, but had been home on time each night, so Barbara had nothing to complain of there. But she felt uneasy all the same about Heather...something was up, she was quite sure, but did not have a clue as to what it could be.

Now Barbara sat in her own kitchen, working on her files. Brad was at work, thankfully, so she did not have to deal with him. Barbara glanced at the clock, which said 10:30 AM. It could be several more hours before the UPS driver arrived.

At home, Heather exulted. That woman was finally out of the house! She could finally work out her plan. She dialed Josh's number.

At 11:00 AM, Barbara was startled to hear a truck pull up outside. She hurried to the window; it was the UPS truck! She hurried to the door and opened it wide. The UPS driver wheeled two boxes up to the porch on a hand truck. Barbara had never seen this UPS driver before...he must be new. This driver was handsome; her own driver was a bit of a dud. Barbara had never been able to fantasize about him, like other demonstrators had about their UPS guys. "Hi!" Barbara said, "What happened to Ted?"

"Well, Ted is on vacation and I'm filling in for him. I just got back to work myself, I had a bit of an accident a while back. My name is John," the UPS driver replied.

Barbara's eyes widened. Could this be THE John? Vicky had confided the whole story to her before she left for convention, about John's fall on her front steps, the hospital, the flowers without the phone number, the encounter with the driver who turned out NOT to be John. Vicky had asked the driver she had met that day to get a message to John for her, if he could, and the driver had said he would try, though he did not know John. Vicky had left for convention, not having heard from John, despairing that all was lost.

So it was only natural that Barbara blurted out, "John? John Porter?"

"Yes, that's me! I used to have another route, but they had to do a bit of rearranging when I had my accident and I haven't been assigned another route yet." John replied.

"But, I know Vicky Vellum! She's been trying to get in touch with you. You forgot to put your phone number on the note in the flowers!" Barbara sputtered.

John looked stunned. "So, that's why she never called. Geez, I feel so stupid!"

Barbara laughed, "Don't worry about that, Vicky knows that closed head injuries sometimes cause memory problems. Can you give me your number now and I'll get it to her? She's at the Stampin' Up! convention, but I'm sure she'd be glad to call you from there."

John gave her the phone number and set the boxes of catalogs just inside the door. Then he climbed into his truck, a beatific smile still wreathing his manly features.

Barbara hurried inside. Should she open the catalogs, or should she email Vicky first with the vital phone number? Barbara dithered for a moment, then remembered that Brad had taken the modem out of the computer, muttering something about an upgrade. Barbara suspected that Brad was really trying to sabotage her business; so much of what she did was done over the internet, so going without a modem was a hardship. Luckily, Dianne had a great computer at her house; Barbara could email Vicky from there!

Barbara looked at the boxes and decided to load them in her car and get back to Dianne's house. She felt uneasy about Heather and knew that if she cracked those boxes open she could easily lose herself in the pages of the catalog for hours. Brad might come home soon, as well, and she'd rather not have to talk to him just yet.

When Barbara picked up the first box, she was surprised at the weight. Wow! she thought, these are really heavy! She remembered how heavy her kit was with its box of 8 catalogs within. Barbara had ordered 4 boxes of the new catalogs, so there must be two in each of these larger boxes. Maybe she should wait until Brad came home and have him load them in her car. Barbara remembered Dr. Spec telling her not to lift anything too heavy. But she didn't want to wait for Brad. So she hefted them into the trunk herself.

Barbara drove to Dianne's house and parked her car in the garage. She opened the trunk and lifted the first box out. Suddenly, Barbara gasped as a cramp shot across her abdomen. The baby! Barbara staggered in the door, clutching the box of catalogs.

Barbara dropped the catalogs on the kitchen table and staggered to the phone. The cordless was not on its holder; Barbara pressed the button that would make the phone sound, revealing it's location. Barbara listened carefully to the beeping, it seemed to be coming from Heather's room. She thought Heather must be out, but as she walked into Heather's bedroom, Barbara found Heather and Josh sitting on the bed. The bed clothes were crumpled and in disarray, and Heather's own clothes were not much better. Barbara's eyes narrowed...what was going on here?

"Um, we were just...talking, like, ya know." Heather muttered, scarlet-faced. Josh said, "Yeah, we never get a chance to...uh...talk much lately, and since I was just passing by, like...."

Barbara opened her mouth and was about to say something sarcastic when another cramp startled her. She said, "Never, mind that, where's the phone? I need to call my obstetrician!" Heather scrambled for the phone among the bed clothes and handed it to Barbara. Barbara's face was pale and she grimaced in pain. Heather stared at her...was Barbara going to miscarry? If she did, it would be all Heather's fault for sneaking Josh into the house and startling her!

Heather felt awful. She had never thought of the consequences of her behavior before. It had never occurred to her that anything she did would have much effect on other people, in fact, sometimes Heather felt that she could disappear off the face of the earth and all anybody would say would be, "Heather? Yeah, she used to live her, but I haven't seen her lately!"

In the meantime, Barbara gabbled out her symptoms frantically over the phone. She listened carefully and said, "All right. I'll have someone get me there as soon as possible." Hanging up, she turned to Josh. "Can you drive? I need to get to the hospital!"

Josh said, "I've only just started driver's training! Uh...are you sure you need to go?"

Heather looked at Josh in amazement. How could he be so dense? she thought. Here was a woman in pain, maybe on the verge of losing her baby, and this is what he said? What a dweeb! "I'll drive you, Barbara," Heather said. "I've had just as much driver training as Josh, but I'm not afraid!"

Josh gave Heather a dirty look and left, slamming the door behind him.

Heather helped Barbara into the car, and climbed into the driver's seat, feeling excited in spite of the urgency of her mission. She got to drive a car on the street, not just poking around the driver's ed course at school at 8 miles per hour! Heather started the car and started to back carefully down the driveway, when suddenly Barbara shrieked, "STOP!!"

Heather slammed on the brake and the car lurched to a stop. "What?!? What's wrong?!?"

Barbara said, "My catalogs! I've got to take one with me! I can't wait any longer to see the new Stampin' Up! catalog! You've got to go in and get one for me! They are on the table, just open the box and grab the first one!"

Heather stared at Barbara. This woman was as bad as her mom! "You can't be serious! You need to get to the hospital!"

Barbara took a deep breath and said, enunciating clearly, "I am just fine, 5 more minutes will not make any difference!"

Heather just stared at her, amazed that anybody could get that stressed over a catalog. But Barbara had waited too long for those catalogs; Barbara knew what hospitals were like! She'd probably be waiting for hours there; she could bear the suspense no longer! Barbara said, "I'll feel so much better if I just have that catalog, sweetie, so....JUST GO GET ONE!"

Heather, startled, put the car in park and hurried into the house.

Will Barbara miscarry? Will Heather and Josh ever, erm, get back to what they were doing when Barbara interrupted? Will Barbara remember to email Vicky with John's phone number? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of....the Tearing Edge!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Episode 21 - Introducing Sara

When last we saw Dianne, she had been uncertain as to whether her daughter, Heather, would accompany her to convention this year. Dianne had had a few shouting matches with Heather about her plans, with little results. But when Vicky's recruit, Barbara, had come to her last downline meeting, she had discovered that Barbara was pregnant and that she and Brad had been having marital difficulties. Dianne had a startling idea; she had asked Barbara if she would like to move into Dianne's house for a while. Dianne chuckled as she finished up her convention swaps; she had made it impossible for Heather to conduct any funny business at home and given Barbara a place to go as well. Barbara was not going to convention this year and was glad to keep an eye on Heather's doings while Dianne was gone. In addition, Barbara would get to see all the convention goodies Dianne brought back before anybody else did.

There was only one thing that spoiled this wonderful arrangement. Dianne winced as she heard the sound of retching coming from the guest bathroom. Would Barbara's morning sickness never stop?Barbara came out of the bathroom, her face a delicate shade of Gable Green. "Sorry!" she mumbled, "I can't seem to keep anything down in the morning!"

"Don't worry," said Dianne, "you're almost to the end of your third month...it should start to tail off soon."

"I hope so!" replied Barbara. She came over to look at Dianne's completed swaps. "Oh how cute!" she exclaimed, picking up a card made with the Bear Necessities set. "I wish I could go, but the money just isn't there yet and Brad..." Barbara trailed off, her eyes going blank at the thought of her husband, who had been such a jerk when she announced her pregnancy. It was good for them to spend the time apart, she mused. Brad had seemed to be warming up to the idea of being a parent, but there was still a lot of coolness between them.

"Oh, Barbara, you've been doing so well! You just got your first recruit and you've had so many bookings! I'm sure that your business will allow you to bank a bit of money for convention next year!" Dianne exclaimed.

Barbara grinned. She had just signed her first recruit, a young woman named Melanie. If anybody was more nuts for stamping than she was, it was Melanie! Barbara had already gotten together with her once after her kit arrived and they had made set samplers and stamped hostess color charts into the wee hours.

As Barbara contemplated her new recruit, both demonstrators were startled by the door slamming in the kitchen. Heather stalked by on her way to her room, muttering, "Hi Mom, hi Beverly," as she passed. Heather had not taken to the idea of a "baby-sitter" as she called Barbara and had resolutely called Barbara by the wrong name ever since she arrived. Dianne had explained that she was doing Barbara a favor, but it had gone in one ear and out the other, it seemed.

In her room, Heather fumed. Her plans were all in ruins and, as usual, it was all her Mom's fault! What could she do to keep Barbara from finding out what she was going to do while Dianne was gone? It just was not fair!

In the meantime, all the way across town, one of Dianne's 1st level recruits, Sara, sat in the dark reading Stampin' Discuss on her laptop. It just did not seem fair that everyone else was going to Convention and she would be stuck at home! Sara had the money to go, but when she had gone online to register she discovered that she had left it just an hour too late; registration had closed and she was locked out of all the fun!

Sara was not a happy camper these days. Her husband, Jim had been walking around on tiptoe to keep Sara from exploding in anger. He had wisely said nothing when he found glitter on his steak the other day, he had not even complained when Sara had burned dinner while she read Stampin' Discuss!

Sara mouse-clicked and read messages about convention with increasing bitterness. She had always had a good relationship with Dianne, but now she burned in resentment against her. Dianne was going to convention! Dianne was going to have all the fun! Dianne was going to get to trade all of Sara's swaps for her since she couldn't go...Sara didn't even get to have the fun of that! It would all be done for her and she would have no control of what she'd get.

Sara and Dianne had always joked about how much alike they looked; it was really startling! They had immediately hit it off at the workshop Sara's sister had been hostess for; they had compared family trees extensively trying to find a link, but there had been none. Many times, people had come up to her at regional events, assuming she was Dianne and had begun to talk to her. Dianne joked that she could always get Sara to stand in for her at a workshop if she became too sick; no one would ever know the difference! Except, of course, for their stamping styles; Sara was a definite "cute" stamper, while Dianne liked the brushstroke style sets. Sara hoped that Dianne would keep this in mind when she was swapping Sara's stuff.

Suddenly, as Sara read another message about "the Purple Group" she had a startling idea. Maybe there was a way for her to get to convention after all! But she would have to make plans quick!

What is Heather planning to do while Dianne is at convention? Does it have anything to do with Josh? What's up with that relationship anyway? And what is Sara planning on doing to get to convention? Is she going to try to gate crash despite the recent update on the Stampin' Up Demonstrator's Website about no late registrations? Keep tuned to....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 20 - Even MORE frustration for Vicky

When last we saw Vicky, she had just received flowers from John, with an invitation to dinner. But there was no phone number; John had forgotten to write it on the card!

Vicky had spent a fruitless 2 hours trying every way she knew to try to get John's phone number. She had called UPS, the hospital where John had been treated, every outlet she could think of. Everyone she had spoken to had been very pleasant, but could not give out personal information of that nature. She had called every John Porter in the phone book with no results at all and now her dialing finger was sore. Vicky fumed. How could John have forgotten such an important thing? Frustrated she grabbed her purse, ran out the door, and jumped in her car. Sometimes, aimlessly driving around was very helpful in calming her and allowing her to think. Vicky pulled out into traffic.

As Vicky turned corners and stopped at stoplights, she let her mind dwell on John; on how strong he was, how the hair on his arms glinted against his tan skin, how polite he was, how great his smile was. She felt a smile playing at the corners of her mouth, but it quickly turned into a tremulous frown as she pushed the tears away from the corners of her eyes. Vicky pulled over to the side of the road and parked the car, leaning her head against the wheel as she fought to control the sobs that threatened to rise again within her.

As she sat there, she heard a truck pull up ahead of her and stop. Vicky glanced up and did a double-take. It was a UPS truck! Vicky had never been so glad to see the color brown before! Usually, she made jokes with her friends about her dislike for that color; her favorite one was "Brown isn't a color, it's a DISEASE!" She very rarely used the Close to Cocoa or other brown ink pads in her supplies as she disliked brown so much, having grown up in the seventies, where EVERYTHING was brown, brown, brown. Vicky had lived in apartments with brown carpeting, worn brown clothing bought by her color-challenged mother and had sworn as soon as she could afford it, to never, never wear brown clothing again or live in a house with brown ANYTHING. But now she gazed lovingly on the UPS truck; now brown, for her, was the color of LOVE!

Vicky held her breath as the driver climbed down with a box. Could it be? Could it be.....John?

Was the UPS driver John, or another man? If it is and things go well, will Vicky marry John? Will she dress all her bridesmaids in brown dresses, now that it is the color of LOVE?!? Will she finally have to order reinkers for all those brown pads? Only time (and another episode) will tell on.....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 19 - A New Hope?

The last time we saw Barbara, she had just picked up the phone and found her doctor's office on the other end of the line. You may recall she had been visiting her gynecologist and the call was regarding her test results. Let's listen in:

"Barbara?" the gynecologist asked.

"Yes, this is Barbara. What is it Dr. Spec?" Barbara replied.

"I've got some results from one of your tests today." the doctor said.

Barbara was puzzled. She had just been in that morning and she didn't think they did pap smears that fast. "Which test are we talking about?" she asked.

"Well, it's one of the urine tests. The fact is, Barbara, that you are pregnant."

Barbara stared at the receiver and felt her head spinning. "Wha'...how did that happen?"

"Well, Barbara, usually it takes a man and a woman..."

Barbara blushed, even though Dr. Spec could not see her, "I mean I know how it happens, but Brad had a vasectomy!"

"Sometimes, a vasectomy doesn't work, Barbara. But are you sure it was Brad?" the doctor asked gently.

Barbara sputtered, "Of course it was Brad! I'm not in the habit of sleeping with men other than my husband. In fact, I've never BEEN with anybody else!"

"Well, I suggest you and Brad make a decision as to what you wish to do...are you going to...er...continue with the pregnancy?"

Barbara said automatically, "Of course, I couldn't not have the baby...I don't believe in abortion."

"Well, that's settled then!" said Dr. Spec, "You'll need to come back here in a month for a prenatal visit and we can discuss your options. I'll switch you over to the receptionist to set up your appointment. See you then!"

Barbara numbly went through the motions of consulting her calendar and setting up the appointment. Then she sat in a chair and stared out the window. Pregnant! She and Brad had agreed when they married that they did not want to have children right away and then Brad had gone and gotten that vasectomy without even asking her. Barbara had been very upset at the time, but she had gotten over it; after all, she had been in her twenties and having children just did not seem to be that urgent a matter. Now she was in her late thirties and she didn't know if she was up to having a baby. What would she do with it when she had a workshop scheduled? How did a demonstrator cope with a pregnancy and then a new baby? Were there things you couldn't do anymore because it would be bad for the baby? Barbara knew nothing about babies; she was an only child and had never been around them.

In the midst of this funk, Brad came home. He walked into the kitchen and set his briefcase on the table. "Hi honey!" he said cheerily as he bent down and kissed Barbara's cheek and sat down.

Brad started talking about the car he had sold that day, rubbing his hands together as he described the customer's naivete and the big commission from the sale. After a few minutes he noticed that Barbara was not responding as she ought; she ought to be congratulating him, after all! "What's the matter with you?" he said.

"Brad, remember when you got that vasectomy?"

"Er, yeah. That was a long time ago and actually," Brad chuckled, "It's not something I like to think about."

"Well, it didn't work."

"What?!?"

"I'm pregnant."

Brad stared at Barbara, his mouth silently opening and closing, much like a goldfish in a bowl, like one of those fish in that Definitely Decorative set...what was the name of that again? Barbara wondered, her brain still numb from the shock. She had never noticed before how much Brad resembled a fish...would the baby look like that? Suddenly, she couldn't bear the thought of a baby that looked just like Brad.

Suddenly, Barbara saw in her mind's eye a card with one of those fish from...Tropical Fish, that's what it was! She saw the fish stamped in Tempting Turquoise with some diapers cut from Ultrasmooth White cardstock and adhered over the tail end using Stampin' Dimensionals. "Our New Guppy" was stamped above the fish with the Alphabet Attitude set and there were waves made in Brilliant Blue with that little curve from the Tropical Fish set. Barbara's mind wandered, continuing to design this rather bizarre baby announcement as she waited for Brad's response. When it came, it brought her back to earth with a thud.

"Ah...er...well, I suppose I AM the father, am I?" Brad asked nastily.

"Of COURSE you are! Who else could it be? I have never, ever cheated on you! Oh, Brad, sometimes you are such a jerk!" Barbara stormed out of the room and could be heard noisily crying in the bedroom.

Brad stared at the door to the bedroom. He had never told Barbara that he had chickened out of the vasectomy and not gotten it done. It's not that he'd changed his mind about children, but the thought of a knife anywhere down in that area was extremely unnerving. Instead, he had been very careful to track Barbara's cycles, using natural family planning. But he supposed he must have gotten the dates mixed up and messed up big time. What was he going to do now?

Will Brad become reconciled to the idea of being a father? Will Barbara make a good mother, teaching her child how to carefully clean rubber stamps using Stampin' Mist and to never, never stamp on a Yoyo Yellow pad with a stamp that still had Basic Black on it? Will she stamp all her baby announcements? Which set will she use? Will she find out the sex of the baby ahead of time so she can have the appropriate color of cardstock to use or is she one of those mom's who doesn't want to know, so she will order both Bliss Blue and Pretty in Pink? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 18 - Introducing Melanie

When last we saw Melanie....actually, we never have seen Melanie, as she is a new character in our saga. So sit down, get comfortable, and prepare to get to know her.

Melanie sighed in satisfaction. She had just gotten her toddler down for her nap and the baby still slept as well. Her 5 year old son was at kindergarten for the afternoon. Melanie could count on 30 minutes, max, to do something without children.

Should she clean the house? It probably could use it. Maybe she should get dinner started? But what Melanie decided to do was pull out the shoebox full of rubber stamps, ink pads and pieces of cardstock already cut to make cards. It wasn't often that she got time to do anything fun for herself and she intended to take advantage of every minute.

Melanie had gone to a Stampin' Up! workshop three weeks ago at a friend's house. Her friend, Priscilla, had come to Melanie's last home party and she felt obligated to come to Priscilla's party. Melanie had no idea how much fun she would end up having! She ended up placing a pretty large order and once it had come in, had sat up late a few nights trying out all her new stuff. She had bought a catalog and spent time at the playground looking at it while her children played. Melanie already had a list going of what she wanted to buy next.

Melanie touched the first stamp to the Lavendar Lace inkpad and shivered in delight. It was just so magical! She simply could not get enough. She "kissed" the stamp to the paper, just like the demonstrator, Barbara, had shown her. When she lifted the stamp, she marveled at the beautiful flower revealed beneath. She would never get tired of doing this!

Melanie worked quickly, finishing one card and starting another. All of the sudden she heard the baby start to fuss. Sarah was a good baby, but if Melanie didn't pick her up when she started to fuss, she was capable of fussing all afternoon and into the evening. Melanie rose quickly and strode into the baby's room.

When she came back, Sarah in her arms, Melanie almost dropped the baby when she saw Victoria, her toddler, standing on a chair with a stamp in one hand and ink smeared liberally all over her face. "I 'tamp, Monny!" Sarah had stamped not only herself, but had "decorated" the table, and a number of sheets of cardstock that Sarah had been planning on using for birthday cards. "Victoria!" wailed Melanie. But she didn't have the heart to punish her, since she knew how much fun stamping was.

Melanie reminded herself that she had never told Victoria *not* to stamp on the table. How many things would she have to remember to tell her children not to do in order to keep them from doing them, Melanie wondered? She had not told Matthew that he shouldn't write on the side of his daddy's SUV with sidewalk chalk; it had simply never occured to her that he would do such a thing. Melanie had never told Victoria not to use her Grandma's lipstick to color in her coloring book either, but that is exactly what she had done. Melanie could never remember doing such things herself, so she just had never thought her children would. Maybe she should sit down and make a list of every outlandish thing she could think of that they might do and then each day tell them not to do at least two of the things on the list!

Plopping the baby in the swing, she ran a wet cloth over Victoria, then used her Stampin' Mist to clean the ink off the table. Melanie got Victoria a snack and settled her in front of a video. She sighed over the cardstock, but took heart when she flipped it over to find that most pieces still had a clean side that could be used. Melanie made a decision: she would have her own Stampin' Up! party. She wanted to learn some more techniques and get free merchandise. Melanie put the rubberstamping box away and pulled a legal pad out and began making her guest list.

Will Melanie find more time for stamping? Will she buy Victoria a set of washable ink pads from the SU! catalog? Will she put the stamps up out of reach to prevent more toddler stamping disasters? Will she end up signing up under Barbara, giving Barbara her first recruit? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of.....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 17 - More frustration for Vicky

The last time we saw Vicky, she still hadn't heard anything from or about John. It had been 4 weeks, and no word at all. Somehow, she hadn't managed to catch the new UPS driver so she could ask him/her about John either; the new driver must have changed the delivery route times.

This morning Vicky was busy getting ready to go into her day job. She worked in the afternoons and into the early evening at the interior design firm. Vicky put the final touches to her make-up and glanced at the clock. Still had 40 minutes before she had to go; she might as well do a bit of Stampin' Up! work before she left. She pulled the retired list out and began marking the stamp boxes that were due to retire soon with a sticker she had marked with the lip stamp from the St. Patrick's day set...that was due to retire itself! Now what was she supposed to do for a pair of lips?

The doorbell rang, startling Vicky from her lip reverie. She went to the front door and looked through the peep hole. She didn't recognize the face at all. "Who is it?" Vicky asked through the door. "Flower delivery for Vicky Vellum!" the man replied.

Vicky opened the door. The delivery man, a short and swarthy individual, said, "Sign here." Vicky signed and took the large box from him. As the delivery man left, Vicky shut the door and put the box on the kitchen table. Who could these be from? She opened the box and found one dozen lilac colored roses! How gorgeous! They were just the shade of Almost Amethyst, her favorite cardstock/ink color! She searched for the card and finally found it nestled in the ferns that accompanied the bouquet.

With trembling fingers, she slid the card out of the envelope and read:

"To Vicky, the woman who saved my life! I apologize that I have not let you know how I am, but I just got my memories back from before I fell. Please call me at this number this evening. I'd like to take you to dinner so that I can thank you properly.

John Porter"

Vicky gasped with delight. John was all right! He wanted to take her out to dinner! But...where was the number she was supposed to call! It wasn't on the front of the card! She flipped it over...it wasn't on the back either! She had heard that closed head injuries could cause forgetfulness, but apparently it had even made John forget to write the very number she needed to call that evening to set up dinner with him! What was she going to do now?

Will Vicky figure out how to get that crucial phone number? Is this just going to be a dinner, or will it be something more? Will John's lips soon make up for the retirement of her favorite rubber lips? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 16 - Extra Effort

When last we saw Barbara, she had been indulging in a session of weeping over the retiring sets list. Barbara had found herself very emotional lately and over the stupidest things! She couldn't think what had come over her. Barbara put it down to fatigue...she certainly had been very tired lately.

To cheer herself up, she had spent last night playing with her stamps and some of the new supplies she'd ordered from SU! Barbara had decided to get as much mileage out of her soon-to-be retiring sets and to demo the heck out of them. She had ordered some Dazzling Diamonds glitter to use with the Magical & Mystical set and it had gotten everywhere. Still, the samples had turned out very well and Barbara was sure they would sell lots of sets, especially when her ladies found out it was retiring soon.

This morning Barbara had her yearly check-up at the gynecologist office and had, for some reason, slept late. She realized she didn't have time for a shower, so she ran in the bathroom, grabbed a washcloth from the edge of the tub and gave herself a quick wash in the area that mattered most. At least her legs were shaved! Barbara finished getting ready and ran out the door to her car.

At the doctor's office, Barbara waited patiently in the room until the doctor came in. After discussing her fatigue problem and the irregularity of her cycle lately, he had her hop up on the table. Barbara lay on her back with her legs in the stirrups and tried to think about stamping. The doctor turned on the lamp and remarked, "My, you *have* made an extra effort today!" Barbara was puzzled...what could he mean? The discomfort of the procedure soon drove the question completely out of her head.

Later, after he was done, the doctor asked her to step across to the restroom and give a urine sample. After that, Barbara was free to go home.

When Barbara got home she decided to tidy the bathroom, which she had left in some disarray with her hasty preparations that morning. She turned on the light and picked up the washcloth she had used. It glittered in the light and Barbara recalled that she had used that very washcloth to wipe down her stamping table last night. Suddenly Barbara realized what the doctor must have meant! She blushed in mortification, but the thought of what must have happened when he turned on the light soon had her laughing hysterically!

At the moment when her laughter was finally dying away, the phone rang. Barbara answered it. "This is Doctor Spec's office calling. The doctor would like to speak to you about the test results from this morning. Could you hold please?"

What is wrong with Barbara? How can Barbara even talk to the doctor again after what had happened this morning? Will Barbara be more careful with where she put the wet washcloths next time? Will the doctor tell all the nurses, making them snicker every time Barbara came back? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of....the Tearing Edge!

(note: this episode is based on a true story someone had sent me in an email. Apparently this actually happened to an Australian woman when she went to her gynecologist...her daughter had left a washcloth filled with glitter in the bathroom! I thought with a little adaptation, it would make a great Tearing Edge episode! The woman had submitted her story to a newspaper for a "Most Embarrassing Story" contest and had won a lot of money for it.)

Episode 15 - A bouquet of reactions

It was May 15th and all over Stampingtown demonstrators were waking up to find the retired list of stamps on the SU! website. They were emailing each other with the tidings of favorites being retired and many were the moans heard. We thought instead of following just one of our characters today, we would jump around a bit. If you get nauseous, take a deep breath, gaze at the horizon and return when you're ready!

Vicky woke up early and kept checking the SU! Demonstrator Website until finally she got the flyer. It was true...Button Bear was going! Button Bear was one of Vicky's favorites for demonstrating masking techniques and now she would have to give some thought as to what to use in its place. Still, Vicky was hardly affected by the news. Vicky had been a demonstrator long enough to realize that old sets must make way for new. And she was still on tenterhooks in regard to John, the UPS driver. After waiting for a good length of time in the waiting area of the emergency room, she had finally had to leave without finding out who the lovely young woman was. Vicky had left her name and number at the reception desk, but had heard nothing yet. The hospital would only say that John was in "good" condition, whatever that meant.

Barbara sat before her computer in a state of shock. Nearly every set she had bought since becoming a demonstrator was on the retired list. This was going to be a significant financial hardship for her...so far, she had managed to cover her expenses, but now she'd have to reinvest in new sets. How was she going to manage? And she'd been so tired lately! Barbara began to sob.
Dianne viewed the list with satisfaction. So many of the sets she considered to be "clip-arty" were going. Some of her favorites for demonstrating were on the list, but overall, she was more than satisfied. Dianne favored the sketch sets and the more contemporary designs. She had also received her June Stampin' Success in the mail and was captivated by the three new sets shown, resolving to preorder every single one. She marked her calendar to remind her to order the sets and the new catalog cards on June 1st. Flipping forward she looked at July...yes she had marked the dates for convention there, but she was troubled. What was she going to do with Heather? The girl was still too young to be left alone and seemed to be hinting that she actually did not want to go with Dianne to Las Vegas! If Heather thought her mother was going to leave her in the house alone while she was gone, she had another think coming!

As one of Dianne's best customers, Stella had been emailed the flyer as soon as it became available to Dianne. She had put it on the sideboard resolving to look at it later. Cyril had come to pick her up so they could go play tennis and while Stella was finishing the final touches to her make-up, Cyril looked it over. This was gold, this was, this inside knowledge of what was being retired, Cyril thought to himself. Cyril did not understand why Stella had never taken the step of becoming a demonstrator; she certainly spent enough money on stamps! He resolved to try some more gentle persuasion to get her to sign up. If Stella were in-the-know about things, if she could order soon-to-be retiring sets in quantities for him, he could sit on them for a year or so and then clean up on that auction site!

Stella's computer beeped and said "You've got mail!". Stella could easily afford a cable connection, so she just left it online all the time. Cyril surreptitiously looked at the e-mail subject line; it was the new announcement of the re-released set for the next month! Cyril couldn't resist...would it be Stella Stamper? He personally had 50 potential clients waiting for Stella sets and he could really make a killing. His heart pounded and his fingers twitched as he clicked open the attachment.....

Cyril moaned in anguish; it was Chore Chart, not Stella! He grabbed both sides of his head and twisting violently to and fro, Cyril's frustration was finally voiced in a loud cry as he fell to his knees, "STELLLLLLAAAAAA!"

"Why are you shouting, dear, I'm only in the next room?! Oh, my, are you okay?"

Will Cyril's anguish result in a brain aneurysm? Will Heather be left to her own devices during convention, or will Dianne drag her kicking and screaming to Las Vegas? Why is Barbara so tired? Why hasn't Vicky heard anything from John? So many twists and turns along the road of life, it's impossible to tell what may happen next on....The Tearing Edge!

Episode 14 - What Cyril really wants

The last time we saw Cyril, he was talking on the phone to a mysterious someone. It wasn't completely clear what Cyril was up to, but we felt that it was no good.

Now Cyril sat on the sofa in Stella's lovely townhouse. Upstairs the water was running; Stella was showering and getting ready for a night out on the town with her fiance. Cyril carefully waited until he heard the shower curtain being drawn shut, then softly rose and stealthily tiptoed into the dining room. This was where the object of his desire was; this was the jackpot.

Did he sneak stealthily to the wall, move a picture aside and with sensitive fingertips, dial the combination safe to get the cash and jewelry stuffed inside? No.

Did he grab the small framed Monet landscape that hung on the other wall? Nope.

Cyril knelt next to the sideboard and opened the doors. A sigh escaped him as he ran his hands over what he had found...dozens and dozens of wood mounted rubber stamps. He'd been affecting ignorance of rubber stamping ever since he had discovered that Stella had the biggest "stash" of rubber he had ever seen. Cyril was a stampaholic. He'd do anything to get his hands on all this rubber, even marry Stella! Now he examined his find; nearly every manufacturer was represented in Stella's stash, but the greater majority of the stamps were rare retired Stampin' Up! sets. Cyril knew that if he could only get all this for his own, his troubles were over. He could sell off the retired sets on that online auction site and be able to buy even more rubber stamps; enough to last him the rest of his life. Of course, it would be hard to part with all of this lovely rubber; maybe he'd keep just one for himself. But which should it be? Definitely Decorative Hydrangeas? Holiday Hannah? Oh, it was agony trying to choose!

A cough behind him startled him. It was Mrs. Rumplemuch, Stella's cleaning lady. She stared at him with suspicious eyes, "What you lookin' for?" she asked.

"Ah, um, well, I was just thinking that Stella kept her vases in here and since I was thinking I'd get her some flowers from the corner while she was getting ready for our date, I wanted to be sure that there was a vase ready!" Cyril lied.

"Vases are kept in the pantry...I'll get one." Mrs. Rumplemuch stumped down the hall to the kitchen. Cyril closed the doors of the sideboard, rubbing his hands down his trousers in an effort to get the feeling of that wonderful rubber off his hands.

Did Mrs. Rumplemuch believe Cyril? Or will she report Cyril's odd behavior to Stella, shattering her dreams? Will Cyril take steps to silence Mrs. Rumplemuch's wagging tongue? Or will he give up on his dream to own Stella's rubber stash? Only time will tell this jagged tale on.....the Tearing Edge!

Episode 13 - Sister act?

The last time we saw Vicky, she was kneeling beside John, the UPS delivery man that she was secretly in love with. The ambulance was just arriving as Vicky discovered that John had amnesia and didn't remember her at all! The ambulance had pulled away with John inside and Vicky had followed it to the hospital. Now she paced in the waiting area of the emergency room, waiting to hear word of John. Because Vicky was not a relative, she had not been allowed
to accompany him into the emergency room.

Suddenly, a lovely young woman rushed into the emergency room reception area and ran up to the information desk. "Is John Porter here?" she breathlessly asked. Vicky didn't hear what the woman at the information desk asked, but the young woman said, "Yes, yes, I am! Can I see him now?" She was escorted into the emergency room. Who could this be? Was this a sister? A cousin? Worse yet, a fiance? A wife?


Vicky didn't know if she could bear it if John was married. How would she avoid seeing him when he was the driver assigned to her route and she had to order things from Stampin' Up!? Vicky decided she'd have to move! And she'd just finished stamping all her kitchen walls with the Definitely Decorative Country Apple set and was now working on her powder room, using Cottage Rose! Not to mention, Vicky would probably never find as good of a stamping room
in another house! Life just wasn't fair!

As Vicky gloomily sat contemplating moving to a new house with unstamped walls, the young woman came into the waiting area. Glancing around she finally saw Vicky and came up to
her. "Are you the woman who helped John Porter?" she asked in a quiet voice. Up close, she was even lovelier than she appeared from a distance. She had lovely dark hair and Vicky could swear she had violet eyes, like Elizabeth Taylor. Vicky thought of her own light brown hair and hazel
eyes. How could she compete with this goddess?

Vicky nodded. "Yes, I am. I'm Vicky Vellum. John was delivering a package to my house when he fell. Is he going to be all right?"

The young woman said, "Yes, the doctor thinks the amnesia is temporary and he should get his memories back soon. He knew who I was, which was a good sign. The doctor said that childhood memories don't disappear as easily as things that have happened more recently."

Vicky perked up. Did this mean the young woman was a relative? Was there hope after all? "I'm sorry," Vicky said, "I didn't get your name?"

"Oh, my gosh, I can't believe I didn't tell you! "I'm..." the young woman had begun to say when suddenly the emergency room doors burst open and a nurse came rushing up to her. "Come quickly, there might be a problem!" the nurse said breathlessly. The young woman and the nurse rushed back into the emergency room, leaving Vicky staring after them, her fears at their worst, and still ignorant of the young woman's identity.

Is the young woman John's sister? Or his childhood sweetheart, now his fiance or worse, his wife? Will Vicky have to move to a house with plain walls? Or will she learn to avoid John, hiding in her house until after he leaves the package on her porch, with the door mat draped over it
to hide it? And who do they think they are fooling, anyway, when it's so obvious that there is a box under that mat? HEL-LO! Oh, uh,...anyway, stay tuned for the next exciting
episode of....The Tearing Edge!

Episode 12 - Dianne & Heather, Heather & Dianne

When last we saw Dianne, she had just had a confrontation with her daughter, Heather, over store-bought greeting cards. It had been a couple of weeks since that confrontation, but Dianne and Heather had been skirting around the issue ever since. Dianne wondered what was going on in Heather's life; she had become rather withdrawn and secretive. Dianne had caught her with the phone in her room a couple of times, giggling and acting flirtatious with whoever was on the other end of the line. When Dianne had asked her who she was talking to, Heather had just muttered, "Nobody," and hung up abruptly.

Heather had been campaigning for her own phone for quite some time now, but Dianne kept saying "No", just as she had said "No" to the request for her own television, for a modem for the computer in Heather's room so she could go online, and for her own cell-phone. Dianne's assertion, "I grew up without all that in my room and I managed to survive just fine without them", fell on deaf ears.

Now Dianne, who had not been able to get on to Stampin' Discuss for a few days because Heather was always on the phone, was beginning to wonder if her hard line was really worth sticking to. Most of the moms she knew had already caved in and bought whatever their teenagers desired. Dianne knew that this was just the thin edge of the wedge and if she gave in now, the arguments and demands would not stop, but probably increase exponentially. Still, it would be nice to be able to use the one phone line they all shared!

Dianne wished she could have discussed all this with Heather's father, Mike, but Mike had died five years ago. If only he had listened when she told him that embossing gun was still hot! But he had picked it up by the wrong end and burned himself, falling over the balcony of the patio of their cliffside home in the agony of his pain, right in the middle of a stamp camp! Mike had always been a bit of a clutz. "Maybe Heather has always blamed me for her dad's death," Dianne mused, "That would explain her dislike of stamping!" Dianne knew she should sit Heather down and talk to her about this, but she had a downline meeting scheduled for tonight. She had started making eyelet charts for them all and needed to set the last few. Dianne had left her hammer in the kitchen where she had needed to rehang a picture that had fallen down, so she went to fetch it. As she neared the kitchen doorway, she overheard Heather, on the phone yet again.

"So..like...watcha doin'?" Heather said in a breathy sort of voice. There was a short pause.
"Oh,....I'm like...ya know...just hangin' at home. Mom's got a meeting tonight...yeah....oh, really? Well...I dunno...I guess I could...all right!" Heather turned and saw Dianne standing in the doorway, "Oh, uh, I'll...well..later!" Heather hung up the phone, tossed her hair, and stalked down the hall. When she reached the door of her room, she said, "Oh, um, Mom?"
Dianne turned, "Yes, honey?"

"Oh, um...like, I'm going to go out with Melissa tonight, uh, we're going to the library to, uh, like study!" Heather blurted out.

Dianne was suspicious, but what could she do? She couldn't follow Heather everywhere. "Who's driving you?"

"Uh, well, Melissa, her dad is going to lend her the car."

"All right, but I want a phone call when you get there and you can only stay out until ten, it's a school night."

"All right mom...ya know, if I had my own car, I could drive myself!" Heather had returned to the litany of teenaged demands she had been reciting for the last two years.

"Don't even go there, Heather!" Dianne retorted. Sometimes, this teenaged slang came in handy, she thought to herself. She certainly had no pithier way of saying it!

Who was Heather talking to? Is she really going to study with Melissa, or is the dark, handsome Josh going to be waiting for her at the library? Life is never dull along...the Tearing Edge!

Episode 11 - Ink, the gift that keeps on giving...

When last we saw Barbara, she had just discovered the joys and pitfalls of dollar store shopping. Barbara had already bought large quantities of things to use in her workshops but she had finally managed to bring her spending under control. The sight of a dollar store still made Barbara's heart leap, but she had managed to drive by her favorite one yesterday, even though she had longed to go in, just to see what was new.

But Barbara wasn't thinking about dollar stores this morning. She was tired after a long night of stamping. Barbara had decided to hold a stamp camp next month and she was experimenting with all kinds of different projects for the make and take projects. Stamping on tiles with Stayzon had been a hot topic on the Tips & Techniques conference on Stampin' Discuss, so Barbara had gone down to the home improvement store and bought a box full.

She hadn't noticed how late it had gotten, had not even noticed when Brad went to bed, she was so absorbed in her projects. When she had finally decided to stop, she found she had red Stayzon all over her hands. "What a pity it didn't look this red on the tiles!" she said to herself. But washing her hands would not remove the tenacious ink and it had been too late to get some solvent cleaner from the craft store.

Barbara could not go this morning either, as it was not only Sunday, but Easter Sunday as well. As a lay reader at her Episcopal church, St. Timothy's, she had been appointed to be the chalice bearer at the Eucharist at 10:30 AM. Barbara hurried to get dressed, not that anybody got to see what she had on under the robe she wore! She washed her hands yet again, but the ink wasn't budging.

During the service, Barbara sat during the sermon and tried to fix her mind on the Easter message. But her mind kept straying to her business, no matter how hard she tried to think about what Father Herbert was saying. Barbara had found, now that she was a lay reader, that much of the service's beauty was lost to her. She found herself preoccupied with what was going on, who was doing what, and what her part would be. Barbara mused, "It must be like doing workshops...once you are used to it you stop worrying about making mistakes and start having fun." Not that fun was the point of church, but she missed the quiet enjoyment she used to experience.

When it was finally time for communion, Barbara took the cup from Father Herbert carefully. Because it was Easter, the church was full and so was the chalice. Barbara followed Father Herbert, careful to let him get to the third person before she started offering the cup to the first one. People who took communion were, as Father Herbert had jocularly told her, either "sippers, dippers, or like-it-on-the-lippers." Barbara appreciated the people who dipped their own wafer; she did not like being responsible for drops of wine dripping off the host onto someone's white blouse, as had once happened. She really didn't care to place the host in someone's mouth, either, as sometimes she ended up touching their lips, and once, to her dismay, someone's tongue!

Barbara noticed that the people taking the host in their mouths were looking at her hands rather strangely. "I guess they do look sort of...bloody." she mused, "Just like I'd killed a chicken or something!"

"Mommy! Mommy! That lady, she got blood all over her hands! Is there blood in that cup?!?! I don't wanna drink blood! Aaaahhhhhh!!!" As the small child was born by his mother wailing from the nave and into the narthex, Barbara stood, aghast, her face almost as red as her hands! Father Herbert was moving rapidly along the line of communicants; Barbara quickly calmed herself and began again. It would never do to let him get too far ahead.

"Kiss off!", the woman at the corner of the altar rail whispered. Barbara stopped, startled. Was this woman insulting her? She only knew this woman, Wendy Martin, by sight. Wendy was on the vestry, the committee that ran the church. "What did you say?" Barbara whispered back.
"I said, 'K*ss-*ff'; it's a cleaner. You can get it at the craft store. It will take that red ink off of your hands!" Wendy smiled at Barbara and gave her a wink. She dipped her wafer herself, crossed herself and went back to her pew.

Barbara moved down the line of communicants, resolving to send Wendy a special invitation to her stamp camp, her heart finally open to the message of redemption that Easter offers us all.
Will Barbara get the ink off of her hands? Will Wendy come to her stamp camp? Will the little boy suffer from a life-long trauma of seeing Barbara's inky hands? The journey of life is sometimes jagged and sharp, but it only prepares us for the beauty ahead....on The Tearing Edge.

Episode 10 - John comes around...

When last we saw Vicky, she was kneeling beside John, the brawny UPS driver. John had fallen down the icy steps when he was making a delivery to Vicky's house. Vicky had called 911, but the ambulance had not yet arrived.

Vicky sat back on her heels, stunned at the import of what she had just seen. When she had opened the neck of his shirt to make it easier for John to breathe she had discovered a tatoo on his collarbone that said, "I love" with the rest hidden beneath his brown t-shirt. Vicky, unable to bear her curiosity, had tugged the t-shirt down and read: "I love stampin'!"

Was it true? Had Vicky found the man of her dreams, one who would truly understand her?

Vicky had almost given up on dating; at her age, so many of the good men were already married and Vicky doesn't mess with married men. As for the rest of the men she had dated, they were either jerks (like Carl) or simply strange in some other way, like the man who was obviously such a mama's boy that he talked to his mother on his cell-phone through the entire date. Vicky had also grown extremely wary of work-place dating; at the place where she worked, an interior design firm, she had seen couples come to grief at the workplace after meeting and dating each other. Plus, it seemed like so many of the men in interior design, were...er...well, her dad used to say, "Their door hinges swing in the other direction." Not that Vicky felt there was anything wrong with that, but it didn't get her a date on a Saturday night.

Vicky heard sirens wailing in the distance. She looked up to see if she could spot the ambulance, but it hadn't come into sight yet. Vicky looked down at John. His eyelids were fluttering!

John opened his eyes; those blue eyes that were not full of laughter, as usual, but now reflected puzzlement. "Where am I?" he whispered.

"Oh, John, thank goodness you've come to! You're at my house...you fell...the ambulance is on it's way! You're going to be just fine!" Vicky sputtered in relief and joy.

John gazed at Vicky, a small frown creasing his forehead, "Yeah...I get that part, but....who are you?"

Will John regain his memory? Will another woman show up at the hospital to claim John as her own? Will Vicky finally be able to use that Happy Healings set she bought with her last instant income to make a card for someone who really will appreciate the effort that went into the creation? Will she dare to use the "Hugs & Kisses & Get Well Wishes" stamp or will she opt for the more emotionally conservative penguin with an ice pack stamp? Life's imperfections only contribute to its charms on....The Tearing Edge!