Stashes

The refrain of Springsteen's "Born to Run" jangled on Jackie's iPhone as she peeled potatoes at her polished aluminum sink. She frowned at her reflection, tucked a curl behind an ear, and swore, "Porca puttana!"

Daydream interrupted by ringtone. She paused to wonder what her mother might think of Italian, cursing, and ringtones? Mrs. Clayton, now deceased, would have known about interruptions because that's a mother's life. And about daydream's because that's a woman's.

Jackie knew a little Italian because she was a singer and an Internet trawler bored with daily life conscribed, conscripted, and safe. Her new phone brought portable intrigue, Words with Friends, and calls to fling gossip around town. She no longer feared deleting Steve's business data on the desktop computer.

But this wasn't one of her friends calling. They knew not to interrupt supper chores. The song signaled Brandon, only child and light of her life, he of the never-ending energy since his first day on earth, calling to check in.

Jackie loved the song, her son, and the fact that he called her frequently, but not necessarily in that order and not at this time. In her reverie, she had been in Rome, skirt hiked to step into the Trevi Fountain, its cool water swirling her ankles. She wiped one hand on her apron and reached into its pocket for her phone.

"Hi, honey, I love you!" Jackie tried not to sound as perturbed as she felt. Farm ways didn't allow for unwelcome. "How's everything?"

"Mom, it's all turning to shit!" Brandon's stage whisper sounded like a shriek. "We're gonna lose our home. I'm scared to tell Dad. You gotta help me, Mom."

A request for help was expected - history did repeat itself - but her daydream whispered provocatively, "Come back to Rome!"

Jackie didn't speak. If there'd been a cat about, she'd blame it for stealing her tongue. The dog, Sparty, tail wagging to the beat of dairy chores, was in the barn with Steve.

"Mom. Mom. Are you there? I wanna see your face. Why won't you use FaceTime?"

"Brandon, you know your rural Michigan farmwife mom can't always look like the Avon lady. Hold on, will you? I'm fixing your dad's supper. I have a knife in my hand."

"OK. I'll call back in five." Brandon clicked off.

Jackie placed the phone on the new granite counter, gingerly because of the price of both. She dropped the knife into the sink and elbowed the faucet to a tepid blend of water to rinse and wipe it on a fresh dishtowel, then did the same with her hands. She beamed at the lengthy one-piece potato peel in the sink. It was a game she played to break the tedium of having peeled more potatoes than McDonald's.

Then Jackie strode to the fridge for iced tea, poured a tall glass, and took a gulp to further unlace her nerves. The kids' house loss was going to be most unsettling to Steve, her steady-eddy, church deacon, dairy farming man. Was she going to have to play go-between again?

Genre

Synopsis
Stashes is set in Michigan, where auto manufacturing and agriculture forged a reliable middle class. It’s Fall 2009, after unfortunate real estate practices gutted the American Dream. The plot focuses on two couples: the traditional, yet spunky Jackie and her dairy managing husband Steve, and their son, Brandon and his conniving wife, Amy. When Brandon loses his job and home to foreclosure, he and Amy must move in with the folks, who, with a desire to be as capricious as their kids, leave their homestead in the care of Brandon and Amy to travel the US by RV. Amy expands the business with pot cookies, dragging Brandon and Jackie into the scheme. As the local bank’s VP, Amy secretly increases the Home Equity Line of Credit that financed the RV. Oops! Stashes is a comical crossover between family saga and drug caper, satire spun with good-natured American wit and grit.
I am PJ Colando. I’m a Baby Boomer, retired and footloose. My husband is glad I didn't choose French horn lessons as I considered post-career options. I write while he watches TV sports. Writing is my elegant hobby.

PJ Colando has a natural gift for characterization and a very good 'dialogue ear'. Her book, Stashes, is definitely funny. -Mike Foley, Writers' Review

Steve and Jackie own a small Midwestern farm, content with life. Their married son Brandon loses his job and house, turning everyone's world upside down. Trusting all to the hapless Brandon and his scheming wife, Amy, Steve and Jackie buy a Winnebago to travel the States. An array of impossibly hilarious scenarios are set in motion whereby nerves are tested, values demolished, and self-respect is challenged. You'll join the fun and laugh at the tongue-in-cheek humor. I could relate very well to Jackie and felt she handled all the situations into which she was thrown with grace and aplomb.

I was immediately drawn to this book because the people on the cover could be my parents. The image really captures the relatability of the main characters and their situation. The mingling of generations is very natural and, again, relatable. Interesting use of bouncing between Amy's perspective in some chapters--this breaking down of the 3rd wall allows readers to, again, see the difference in generational perspectives. -2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards Review

PJ Colando's sprightly novel shines its light on an uncommon slice of contemporary Americana, a Midwest culture most often viewed from flyover range. Dismayed by a cynical world gone to hell? Stashes' hearty protagonists, good-humored cussing, rewarded kindness, and luck synched with prayer might just be your antidote. -Art Plotnik, author of numerous writing books

Stashes, by P.J. Colando, is a fast-paced read with sparkling dialogue, tightly crafted sentences and insightful commentary on the human condition. It pits a resourceful, manipulative daughter-in-law, Amy, from California against a traditional mother-in-law, Jackie, from fly-over country who uses home cooking both as a weapon and a pacifier to further her objectives. Jackie has installed her son, Brandon, a former high school football star, on a pedestal and doggedly defends his shortcomings more out of dislike for Amy, one guesses, than conviction. Problem is the daughter in law thinks her husband is a loser. Bad financial management and high living cause Amy and Brandon to lose their home, forcing them to move in with Jackie and her husband Steve.
But the arc of this story is anything but predictable. Faced with her son's money problems, Jackie busts out of her traditional role to join forces with Amy, and under cover of darkness, whips up batches of pot-laced cookies in the high school cafeteria. At the same time, Amy, a bank vice president, is concocting a scheme to take out a $100,000 line of credit on her in-laws farm (unbeknownst to them) to help keep the pot business afloat and pay Brandon a salary.
A road trip to California, long planned by Jackie and Steve, gets cut short when they discover that their checking account is empty and they are forced to sell pot to buy gas in order to limp home. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, things are even worse. Amy leaves Brandon and moves in with the guy who has stolen their marijuana plants and equipment. I'm not going to tell you how the story ends. It's hilarious. You'll need to buy the book to find out. - Seamus Bierne

Oh gosh what a fun book.

A typical midwestern couple, with a son and daughter in law. The couple, Steve and Jackie, he a dairy farmer and she works at a school. Jackie decides to retire and they buy a RV and the fun begins. They goal is to travel the country and let their son take over the business. Their daughter in law, Amy, who works in a bank, comes up with a brilliant idea to sell "pot' cookies along with the bottled milk that the dairy delivers. Now mind you Jackie is all for this, has imbibed a bit in the wacky tabacy a bit herself. Well she is is of the baby boomer generation!! She agrees with Amy and they set up one of the barns as a place to grow the stuff and Jackie and Steve head off on their adventure.

Sadly while on the road they find out that the nest egg they though they had is gone, thanks to Amy's dabbling into the account. Amy has made some financial errors in Steve and Jackies accounts and it causes some big issues. She tells this to Jackie over the phone and the Breeden's are forced to come back home with limited funds.

Told in alternating viewpoints with a lot of humor thrown into the mix. Jackie and Steve are a great couple, the son needs a kick in the pants and the daughter in law is just not my favorite character but they say things happen for a reason and that is the premise of the whole story. I could relate a lot to the Breeden's as we are of an age. This is a lighthearted and funny story. I got the giggles when explaining the book to hubby. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next one in the series, Hashes and Bashes. -Kathleen Kelly, Celtic Lady's Reviews

A fun slice of Midwest life is found in PJ Colando’s Stashes. I instantly fell in love with Jackie and cheered her on as she bravely tried to help her family through some tough economic times. I laughed at the incorrigible Amy and how she and Jackie interacted. What a fun trip in the RV. It completely showed Midwest outlook and genuine openness when meeting others on the road, even down to the collectables!
I really enjoyed PJ’s lovely descriptions of people and places and could not put the book down for wanting to see how it all turned out!! A wonderful read and good book for the first time author PJ Colando. Is there a sequel coming, or a TV movie? - Cheryl Hall, Book Clubs of Irvine