- The Winner of the Best Pumpkin Is.....
- The judging had already begun when the Maloneys arrived at the pumpkin coloring contest site. Blue ribbons were attached to the first graders' winning pumpkins and the judges were now deciding among the second graders' pumpkins. It seemed to both Mal and Mel that the judges were picking the most ordinary pumpkins for prizes, bypassing the pumpkins that the children thought were more creative. When it came time to judge the third grader pumpkins, the twins were hopeful but resigned to the fact that neither of their pumpkins were ordinary enough and probably wouldn't win any prizes.
- The judges came to Mel's shiny pumpkin and paused. "Interesting," Mel heard one of them say. "But too much glitter."
- And they passed by Mal's pumpkin with hardly a glance. Again, the judges seemed to select quite ordinary pumpkins as the prize winners.
- "Well, guess what? We get to take your creations home. The winners have to leave their pumpkins here because there are new contests each week until Halloween and the winners from each week are entered into the "all-October" contest," Mike said, trying to console the twins.
- "It's ok, Grandpa," Mal said. "I didn't make my pumpkin for the judges. I made it for us. Only WE know about the Loch Ness Monster, right?"
- Mel was disappointed, though. She thought her pumpkin was the prettiest of all the pumpkins in the contest.
- Agnes put her arms around Mel. "I know you're disappointed. You know what they say about beauty being in the eye of the beholder. I guess not everyone appreciates glitter in the same way."
- "Let's take pictures of our pumpkins, Mom. Then we can remember what they looked like after you make them into pie," Mel suggested.
- Mike looked at his watch. "Say, it's getting time for us to change into our square dance clothes. I understand there's going to be a nice buffet set up before the music starts, and I'm getting hungry!"
- "You're in a hurry, Dad," Agnes said, looking at her own watch. "I didn't realize you were that interested in square dancing. Let's take a few pictures of the most interesting pumpkins we'll probably ever see and then we'll go get ready."
- Grandpa's Square Dance Surprise
- Mike quickly looked around when they got to the big barn where the buffet and square dancing was scheduled. Only a few guests had arrived and the servers were still setting up the buffet table, starting with mounds of bread rolls, corn, various kinds of salads and vegetables. Next they brought out the main courses, including sloppy joes, sliced beef, pork chops, fried chicken and what looked like beef stew. Then came fruits, cheeses, brownies, cookies and, of course, pumpkin pie. There was coffee, wine and beer for the adults along with milk, juice and bottled water.
- "It's good we came early, Grandpa. I'm hungry!" Mal announced.
- "They're not quite set up yet, Bioloney. Let's give them a few more minutes," Mike said.
- "You said you were hungry," Mel observed.
- "Well, I am, but I don't want us to go racing to the table like we're wild animals or something" Mike responded. "Let's find a big table where we can all sit comfortably while we eat."
- The twins found a big table near the dessert end of the buffet. "How about here?"
- "We don't need such a big table," Agnes said, pointing to another one. "That one should do."
- "The big one will be fine," said Mike. "More elbow room."
- As the twins ran to their chosen table, Mike caught sight of someone just coming into the barn. Tall, white hair, about Mike's age, her friendly smile broadened when she saw Mike.
- "Hello there, Mike Maloney," she called out, waved in Mike's direction.
- Mort and Agnes looked at each other, eyebrows raised in confusion. "Dad..." Mort started, but by that time Mike was already walking toward the woman who greeted him.
- After giving her a brief peck on her cheek, Mike brought the woman over to Mort and Agnes.
- "Mort, Aggie, this is Inge. Inge, this is my son Mort and my lovely daughter-in-law Agnes."
- "Nice to meet you, Inge," both Mort and Agnes stammered, shaking her hand in greeting.
- "Likewise, Agnes, Mort" Inge replied. "Mike never stops talking about you. Where are your children?"
- "O...over there," Mort said, stumbling over his words and gesturing to where the twins commandeered the big table.
- "Ah, I take it all the while you've been talking to me about your family, you've not been talking to THEM about ME, Mike Maloney," Inge said in mock surprise.
- Now it was Mike's turn to stumble over his words. Just in time the twins ran over, rescuing Mike as he hesitated, not having planned or knowing what he was going to say next.
- "Grandpa!" they said in unison.
- "Bioloney, Melody, this is my friend Inge."
- "How do you do," said Inge, shaking both their little hands. "Bioloney? I thought your name was Mallory, young man."
- "It is, ma'am; Bioloney is just my nickname," Mal explained.
- "Since your grandfather and I are friends, would you please call me Aunt Inge?"
- Mal and Mel liked this new lady right away. "Sure." "Ok."
- Everyone sat down at the long table. Mike spoke first.
- A Bit About Inge
- "I should have told you about Inge. Do you remember when we went to Door County? This lovely lady was also visiting there. We met at the pancake house. That's where the goats graze on the roof. She's Norwegian. Her husband passed away more than 10 years ago..."
- "Mike, why don't you slow down and give your family time to catch up with you," Inge suggested.
- Mike was so nervous that the words just kept tumbling out of his mouth. He finally paused when Agnes intervened.
- "Dad, we're delighted to meet Inge," Agnes said, smiling. "Inge, why don't YOU tell us how you met Dad?"
- Inge explained that she and Mike were both in line at the cash register to pay the bill when they struck up a conversation. They had a lot in common. Both their spouses had died many years ago. Inge was Norwegian and Mike was fascinated by Norway. They kept in touch by e-mail and phone ever since. It was Inge's idea that their October adventure should include this particular area, since she lived nearby and used to be a bow hunter; the buffet included stew made from local deer.
- "You hunted Bambi?" Mort exclaimed in mock horror.
- "Dad, a girl in my class brought homemade deer sausage for lunch one time. I tasted it and it's really good," Mel said, nodding her head knowingly.
- And so the evening unfolded, with hearty food, stimulating conversation and energetic square dancing.
- When Mort and Agnes were alone for a moment, Agnes leaned over to him and said, "So THAT's why your dad suddenly got interested in losing some weight and getting healthier. I totally approve!"
- Mort agreed. "They certainly are enjoying the square dancing. That Inge gal has made quite an impression on Dad. I like her too. I just wish he told us about her beforehand."
- "He probably was afraid you'd disapprove, you old fuddy-duddy," Agnes teased.
- "Mom's been gone for quite a while now and Dad has been pretty alone except for us. It's time he had a nice lady friend like Inge, isn't it, Ag?"
- It seemed to Agnes that Mort wasn't entirely sure of his feelings about this new side of his father.
- "Yes, Mike's a big boy now, Hon. And Inge is delightful, not to mention such an athletetic background. Skiing, hiking, hunting...and dancing! I could learn a thing or two from her. And so could the twins, I'll bet. They seem to be smitten by her too."
- And so the evening ended on a happy note, happier than anyone expected or could have predicted.
- An Interesting Question
- The next day Inge helped the twins pick up different colored leaves that they could press into a scrapbook when they got back home. Everyone went on the hayride in the afternoon, the last activity of the weekend. The talking and laughing was non-stop the whole time.
- "Grandpa, are you going to marry Inge?" Mel asked once they were driving back home.
- "Hush! What an impolite question to ask," Agnes admonished.
- "Not at all," Mike said. "It won't be next week, I promise you that, my dear Melody. Other than that, who could say?"
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iNTRODUCTION TO BOOK 2
INTRODUCTION TO THE BIOFABLES SERIES