By: Sophie Taylor
Title: The Grim Steeper
Series: Teapot Collector Mysteries
Author: Amanda Cooper (Victoria Hamilton)
Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries
My grandmother - Nana to me - taught me that giving benefits the giver as much or more as the givee. She has always given tea parties for groups that help the less fortunate, hosted fundraisers, and she donates baked goods to shelters and low income groups. But I've learned that you have to make time for giving. When I had a restaurant in New York (In Fashion) I was so busy I'd fly through my day, blind to everything but the next meeting I had to take, or the next crisis I needed to avert.
But I wasn't fulfilled; not really. I loved what I did, but it left me feeling hollow.
One morning I was coming in super early; it was January, and the sun hadn't even crawled out of hiding yet. When I came down the alley to the restaurant backdoor, I heard rustling. The sound was too substantial to be a rodent, unless the rat was about six foot one. I shone my pocket flashlight and blinking back at me was a street guy I had seen many times before. If I didn't know he was harmless I probably would have gone into full hustle mode and scuttled inside. But Eddie, as I only ever knew him, was a gentle soul who played the guitar and fed the pigeons.
I knew someone was raiding our Dumpster at night, and didn't much care who, as long as they didn't make too much of a mess. But finding out it was him - gentle, music loving Eddie - jarred something loose in my soul. Long story short, I invited him in for coffee and leftover brioche in the staff break room. We had a long conversation and I learned all about his past, that he was a music teacher once, but lost his job because of addiction. He was clean for the moment, and trying to get back to life as he knew it before.
It brought me down to reality; how much was I actually living? Or was I just putting one foot in front of the other? He left with a bag of goodies for himself, his homeless friends, and the squirrels and birds in the park. But he left me with a wake up call. That afternoon I took a walk, and that evening I went home at a reasonable hour and slept.
When a crisis occurred in my life recently, I thought of Eddie again and made a decision I will never regret, though others may think I'm nuts and giving up a lot. Sometimes people think you're going backwards, when in truth you're just going back to the point where you went off the rails, and heading down a different path, one better suited to take you where you want to go. That's where I am now.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever made a decision to go backwards a bit, (quit a job or relationship, moved, taken a break) because you knew it was right for you?
To learn more, read The Grim Steeper:
Mid-October in the charming Finger Lakes town of Gracious Grove means it’s time for the annual Fall Fling Townwide Tea Party. The highlight of the festivities is a roaming tea-tasting, which includes a stop at Auntie Rose’s Victorian Tea House. Sophie Taylor would like to share her enjoyment of the event with her sort-of boyfriend, English teacher Jason Murphy, but Jason’s dean has accused him of falsifying grades to help an athlete at the local college. Steamed and stressed, Jason shows up the night of the party with bags under his eyes.
But the dean shows up under Sophie’s Japanese Maple later that night, murdered, and now Jason is suspected of far worse than fudging grade reports. It’s up to Sophie, her Nana, and their friends the Silver Spouts to pore over the clues to find out who really decided to teach the dean a lesson.