My sister-in-law, Larva, is changing her name.

This has got my mother-in-law Ms. Larda very upset. Larva is her oldest daughter and Ms. Larda gave her the most beautiful name she could think of: Larva Lavender Gunch.

But now Larva is going around calling herself Gnola.

Larva insists this is for business purposes. She now creates gnomes. Garden gnomes – them little statues of bearded guys with pointy hats you see peering out from shrubbery in people’s yards. She also makes mini-gnomes for the mantle and for table settings. 

Anyway, it has become a full-size business, “Gnaturally Gnola Gnomes.”

She bestows a individual name on each gnome: Gnancy, Gneville, Gnorman, Gnatalie and like that.

Now, for years, Larva has worked at Bubba’s Hardware. She knows what a lug wrench is, where to find the picture hanging stuff and all that. And she specializes in tool packs for single women: screwdriver sets, screws to match, nails, plus hammers and advice to not use them on their ex-husband. If a lady asks for a stud finder, she whispers, “Just wear a low-cut dress and go to a nice bar.” Customers love her.

 But now she’s gnome-crazy. 

She almost made a big mistake last month at Halloween, when she created gnomes dressed like ghosts. She just dropped a little white handkerchief over each one and added eye holes. She didn’t think about how the pointy hats under the handkerchiefs would make it look until her husband walked in, saw them on the kitchen table, and bellowed, “You got a mini-KKK meeting going on here, Larva?”  

So she yanked off the handkerchiefs and stayed up late painting the pointy hats black and making little black capes and brooms.

Now she got this rush Thanksgiving order from St. Sloven’s Retirement home. A dozen little gnome place card holders. She got them almost done – gnomes in long aprons holding little pies – right down to their little bare feet, which she always makes out of special clay and bakes in the oven.

And of all times, her oven breaks down.

She calls up Ms. Larda, and says she is rushing over with a pan of gnome feet to bake. 

While they are waiting for them to be done, she and Ms. Larda step out real quick for some lottery tickets. They are gone maybe five minutes, but when they get back, the cookies are out of the oven and three sets of feet are missing. So are my brothers-in-law, Lurch and Leech. 

It don’t take Columbo to figure out that them two mistook them for cookies.

And the gnomes have to be delivered by 5 p.m.

Now, some gnome-makers don’t add feet, but Gnola’s gnomes always have either two bare feet, or two shoes. It’s a trademark.

What to do; what to do? They could run to Wal-Mart and buy Barbies and use their shoes, but Gnola thinks the retired folks would wonder why Gnicholas, Gnathan, and Gnolan  had high heels sticking out from under their beards. You can expect anything these days, but still. Gnomes in high heels might shock the old people. 

Then Ms. Larda gets an idea. She finds some dried fava beans left over from St. Joseph’s Day and slips two of them under each of the aprons of the feetless gnomes. With the ends sticking out, they look kind of like shoes.

So while Gnorma is busy gluing 18 bare feet on nine gnomes, Ms. Larda takes a marker and turns six fava beans into beat-up looking tennis shoes for the three feetless gnomes. Ms. Larda is very talented at this kind of thing and they come out perfect.

“Ok ‘Gnola,’” she says. “You got 45 minutes to get these gnomes delivered.”

“Ohh, Ma, I’ll always be your little Larva.” And she reaches over and hugs her, careful not to glue her fingers to Ms. Larda’s  neck. 

Leech wanders in with a glass of Alka Seltzer.

 “How ya like them cookies? I’m bringing three dozen for Thanksgiving,” says Larva/Gnola. Then she hustles out of there.

 Revenge and (and clay cookies) are best served cold.