The next school day dragged on and when the last bell finally rang Lydia was eager to leave class. She had extra luggage with her today since she was going home with Veronica.
“Hi, friend!” Lydia called over as she lumbered down the walkway.
“Hey, friend! You ready to see the inside of a madhouse?” Veronica reached out offering to carry Lydia’s backpack to help lessen the load.
“Lead the way, Mooney!” Lydia threw out a sly reference to one of her favorite books.
“Oh no, my last name is Greyson! Where’d you get the name Mooney from?” Veronica asked as they passed by Lydia’s house and continued on to her house.
“Gosh, you don’t know?! I’ll tell you about it some time, you won’t be able to put the books down and we don’t need that distraction right now.” She was only half kidding.
The girls crossed two streets after passing Lydia’s house and Veronica declared “Tah dah! Mi casa!” and waved her arm wildly around at an average looking house she claimed was mad.
Noting the complete lack of any awe or amazement from Lydia, she continued, “Oh yes, it looks normal on the outside. It’s the inside that crazy.” They pushed through the front doors and were greeted by two young men who Lydia supposed were Veronica’s brothers.
“Lydia, these are my older brothers, Jacob, he is in high school and Michael – the freak who answered the phone, is in middle school.”
“Ah ha, I was wondering why I’ve never seen you around our school. Nice to meet you!” Lydia put out her hand to give each boy a handshake and was given a shock by a buzzer Michael had tucked in his hand.
Giving him a threatening glare, Veronica pulled Lydia into her room so they could work in private.
“That’s how it starts, first a hand buzzer and then all of your underwear is in the freezer,” Veronica informed Lydia in a hushed voice, just in case her brothers were eavesdropping. “We should have plenty of time to work before my mom and dad get off work around five. If they are in a good mood, I bet you could stay for dinner,” Veronica remarked and showed Lydia around the room.
Veronica had a nice size bedroom, with large computer desk like Lydia’s and a medium size bed that fit her plus seven of her favorite stuffed animals. For today’s occasion though, it was clear of almost everything but a couple of pillows and blankets to relax on. There was also a neon green lounge chair by the window and a sturdy work desk on the opposite wall. On top of the desk was a basket with ten different skeins of yarn.
Veronica noticed Lydia sifting through the basket with interest. “I’ve been collecting my inventory. Next I’m going to see how much yarn I’ll use to make one square pot holder.”
“I really like the colors you have, very bright and thick yarn too!” complimented Lydia as she admired the material.
“Thank you! Oh, I have some rolls of wrapping paper you can use for you pen holders. Did you bring any cans and glue?”
“Oh I definitely have plenty of glue,” Lydia laughed thinking back to the box her father had brought home.
She watched Veronica as she started to pull out roll after roll of variously decorated wrapping paper. Her eyes widened at the generous amount.
“Mom just usually throws it away; she likes to have the updated styles she sees on her evening DIY show,” Veronica explained. “When I asked her during our phone call, she said I could keep any from a pile she’d cleaned out of the garage this past weekend as was getting ready to take it to the curb anyway.”
“Yay, your mom is so awesome! Please tell her thank you, in case I forget.” Lydia scooped up the rolls and laid them out on the rug by the bed.
There was a roll of polka dots, two rolls came with rainbow stripes, a bold black and white zig zag print, one had tiny flowers sprinkled around a yellow background and another roll was adorned with colorful hearts placed in no particular pattern on a sea of navy blue.
“These are some great choices, thank you for helping me out!”
Veronica sat on her bed, propped up against three odd pillows. She pulled a ball of bright purple yarn with a crochet hook poking out of the side from the basket to show Lydia.
“This is the average size ball of yarn I have in my basket. So, if I can use this ball of yarn to make ‘x’ number of pot holders, I will have an estimated number of pot holders I’ll be able to produce for my shop.”
Lydia regarded her with admiration; she was nowhere near that stage of her business.
Veronica offered her friend some help. “I can help you with your inventory math. I often end up listening to my parents assist my brothers with their homework at night while I try to fall asleep.”
Veronica was a great friend, and this was turning out to be a wonderful visit! “Ok, how many cans did you bring?”
Lydia proceeded to pull four tin cans out of her tote bag, placing them on the floor next to the wrapping paper.
“Four, alright that will make the math easy! Just pick one style of paper, set the others aside so you’re not distracted and cut your rectangles out,” she instructed, then proceeded to work on crocheting a square while Lydia cut four perfect rectangles out of the wrapping paper with the tiny flowers.
Lucky for her, she was able to cut the paper in a way that meant there was no extra waste. After spreading a thin layer of glue on the outside of one of the cans, she carefully wrapped the strip of paper around the can. Smoothing out the bubbles on the final can, she placed the pencil holders next to the yarn basket on the table to dry.
“Perfect! I love them, I bet my mom would want one to spruce up her workplace.”
“Thanks, they do look pretty nifty if I do say so myself!”
Just as Veronica was about to help Lydia with her inventory calculations, Michael busted through her bedroom door.
“Hey, geeky grandmas! Mom’s on her way home. Help us tidy up and… I’m not sure you should have a guest over when she gets home, Mom sounded tired.” He surveyed the room and set eyes on their products gathered on the table.
“Wow,” he smirked as he picked up one of Lydia’s pencil holders turning it around in his hands to inspect her work. “You can’t really be serious about selling this rusty old tin can covered in paper to people… to make actual money?” he guffawed and tossed the can on the table upside down.
“Get lost creep!” Veronica threw one of her yarn balls, aiming for his head but missing by a few inches.
“Whatever, just hurry up, before she gets home and don’t forget you said you would do the dishes today since I cleaned out your science experiment from the back of the fridge.” He stomped out of the room, not realizing he’d left behind a very hurt girl.
“Um, I should go… he’s right and you know… I have another idea, so who cares about some stupid tin cans wrapped up in paper? It’s fine. But I should go because your mom is probably tired and I have other things to make.” Lydia’s voice trembled as her heart grew heavy with disappointment and her eyes didn’t leave the ground as they trudged down to the street corner. The friends hugged goodbye for the first time and parted ways with weary smiles.
Lydia took her time walking home, quite upset about Michael’s abrupt rudeness. She barely knew the kid and he stomped all over her work. She pushed through the front door and slammed it closed behind her. She marched back to her room without greeting her mom and shut the door to give herself some time to fume a bit more. She put on her favorite music playlist and started to pace around the bedroom. Listening to the empowering female singers belt out their ballads, she gave herself a mini pep talk that would have made her mother proud had she heard it.
“Ok, I have to give this a positive twist. First things first, I have a few more brilliant ideas up my sleeve to test out… and I’ll figure the rest out when I see the final product.”
She pulled a timeworn science book for kids out of her closet and flipped to a page titled “Homemade Slime Recipe”. This recipe called for a whole heap of glue and Lydia just so happened to have what seemed like a lifetime supply of the stuff! She only needed to collect a small amount of powdered laundry booster, some water and a tiny bit of gel food coloring. She acquired her mother’s Borax from the laundry room, scooping a small amount into a hefty bowl. She added a bit of water and gave it a mix. She pulled out one of the mislabeled bottles of glue and poured it into a separate bowl, along with more water. She blended the glue mixture and dumped it into the bowl with the soapy water. She then gave it a couple of good kneads; dropping in red and yellow colors and pretending she was making some sort of alien bread. Eventually, the colors blended into a lovely orange shade and Lydia had a large tangerine ball of floppy slime. Satisfied with her squishy results, she scooped the product up and placed it carefully into an airtight box for safe keeping. She washed her hands and tidied up the mess she had made in the kitchen.
She was strolling out of the kitchen with a pickle in one hand and the phone in the other when the phone gave a ring. It was Karen on the other line! She called to say she’d heard the pencil holders were lovely and she was excited to see them at their Saturday meet up. Lydia thanked Karen for the praise. Veronica must have called her to fill her in on the working session.
“Yeah, I am so excited to see what products you’ve been working on. You were going to do some sort of accessory?” Lydia prompted Karen in an attempt to move the conversation away from the earlier incident.
“Yes! I have narrowed my choices down to handcrafted bracelets or necklaces.”
“I think bracelets are like, your specialty. You have at least ten different types on both arms combined!” Lydia encouraged her club mate.
They continued to talk about the different varieties Karen could make. “Well, I could make a braided friendship bracelet?” offered Karen as Lydia continued to think about bracelets. “Or, I could make a safety pin fringed bracelet… a button bracelet... Popsicle stick bracelet…”
“Hold on, remember to keep it simple, easy and cheap. Which bracelet can you make with the lowest cost?”
“The button bracelet and the popsicle stick bracelet are equally easy and cheap. Maybe I’ll just do both,” Karen decided over the phone.
Lydia jumped up and knew Karen was onto a genius idea, “oh my gosh, why not do both? What’s stopping us from selling TWO products to make almost double the money?”
“Yeah, all right let’s do this! What item are you going to sell along with your pencil holders?” Karen asked.
Lydia didn’t want to confess that she had given up on “those stupid tin cans” and had only planned on maybe selling the slime she’d just made.
“Well, I am working on a special slime recipe I think would go over well at school.” And she left it at that.
“What? That’s awesome, I love your creativity! Slime? Who would come up with something like that,” exclaimed Karen.
They talked for a minute more and agreed it would be best if they got back to fine-tuning their products if they wanted to be finished by Saturday.
That night, Lydia laid down on her bed staring up at the ceiling imagining thousands of dollars raining down on her. She had to find another product to make so she could make double the profits!