With apologies to the Beatles, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and the state of Vermont.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Thirteen: A Grateful Finale

Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all the misgivings about the holiday had already been hashed out.

Sal and Dan had made up (yet again), Zelda and Angel had made up, and Mo had made up with three different people.

In the kitchen, the cooking was going full steam.  Nancy, Candy, and Zelda were doing double duty, making all the desserts they could to keep the baked goods stand running and trying to sneak in occasional breads and pastries for the commune’s feast on the morrow.  Darren was busy turning out trays of rolls, rolls, and more rolls.

“Oops,” said Candy.  “I dropped that.”

“No problem,” said Zelda.  “We can have it with dinner tonight.”

“But it was on the floor,” Candy said.

“We’ll let people know,” Zelda said.  “There will be people who will eat it anyway.  I will, for sure.”

“Excuse me,” said Darren, maneuvering a tray through the chaos of the kitchen.

“So, how many people are we expecting tomorrow?”  Zelda asked.

“Last I heard it was something like thirty,” Nancy said.

“Where are we going to put them all?” asked Candy.  “I don’t think we have a room that can accommodate that many people.”

“The construction crew is putting up a huge canopy and tent,” Nancy said.  “Fortunately, the weather tomorrow is supposed to be very mild.”

“The benefits of global warming,” said Darren as he passed through with yet another tray of rolls.


The crowd was well over thirty people, including Luna’s family, some of Dan’s family (down from Canada), Ed and Ralph and their friend Bruce, Peter and George and Fred and their friend Wendy, Amanda and Steve and Edgar and Ken's mother and Cat's mother and Paul G’s mother and Candy’s whole family, and almost all of the old Trollwork team, including Roly-poly and Thistle and The Troll.  Purslane sent well wishes but was off on a secret rendezvous.  Zelda’s husband, Theo, came and with him came her grandson, Alvin.  Even Dazzle made it.

“I got it all straightened out,” he said.  “Finally!  I think I’m back here for good.”  Dazzle got big hugs from his co-workers, Sal and Sally.

And, yes, Stan showed up.

“I’m just here for dinner!” he said.  “I’m leaving tonight!  Really!”

The tables were overflowing with food.  Zucchini seemed to be the theme of the day: roasted zucchini, fried zucchini, stuffed zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini pie, zucchini cake, and zucchini rolls.  There had been an overabundance of zucchini on the farm this year and the commune was making the most of it.  There was even a giant mock pheasant centerpiece made entirely out of zucchini.

Once everyone had been eating for a while, commune members (and occasional guests) took turns saying what they were grateful for.  It took quite a while.  Finally, when everyone else who wanted to speak had gotten a chance, Luna stood up.

“Wow,” she said.  “Wow, wow, wow.  I’m so grateful.  I’m grateful for all of you and this commune and this wonderful life we have built together.  I’m grateful for my family, for raising me right and for being here tonight.  I’m grateful to Ralph and Ed, who helped me buy this place, and to Dan and Sal and Nancy and Cat and even Stan who helped me start this place and start us farming.
“And now look at us.  We’ve got lots of folks and we’re going strong and you can see for yourself all the friends we have.  I’m so grateful for all of you.”

She held back the tears and threw up her hands and said,  “I love you all!”

And the whole group burst into applause.  And at the very back of the tent, clapping and cheering with everyone, was Alec and Hillary Reagon.

-The End-

Author’s note:  

Yes.  I’m ending it there.

Like Luna, I want to give my thanks.

First of all, to all my readers.  Even if you’ve only read a few of the chapters, but especially if you made it all the way through the story.  

I want to especially thank Matt S and Keith W who have encouraged me through this process.

If you want to read more of my (nonfiction) writings,  I also blog at MoonRaven’s Social Alchemy Blog.  I haven’t posted anything there for a while but, now that I won’t be working on this blog, I should have time for putting more posts there.

And, if you are interested in learning about real life communes, I recommend checking out Commune Life.  (Full disclosure: I manage this blog and occasionally write on it.)

And once again, thank you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Twelve: Almost Normal

Dan looked at the faces of the construction/maintenance crew.  “I think that we’re most of the way there.”

“Well,” said Lois.  “It helps that we’ve got water again.”

“I gave all the hoses to the gardening crew,” Sowbug said.  “They have so many leaks in all of them now that the only thing they’re good for is drip irrigation.”

“Thank you for all your help when things got rough,” Dandelion said.  “Even having one more person made a big deal of difference when all heck was loose.”

“It’s the least that I could do,” Dan said.  “Maybe it partly makes up for all the difficulties Sal and I caused when we tried to run the crew.”

“Oh, it wasn’t really any difficulties,” Earthworm said.  “We just ignored both of you.”

“But having you working on the floor of the produce stand gave us time to focus on the hoses and the thermostats on the new stoves,” Sorrel said.

“Now we’ve just got to focus on the ceiling of the seed office,” Mo said.

“Yeah.  What’s going on with that?” Dan asked.

“We’re going over there to check it out,” said Sowbug.  “Want to tag along?”

“No, thanks,” Dan said.  “I’m still avoiding being around Sal too much.  We’re doing well with each other these days but I’d like to keep it that way.”


Sal looked at Sally.  “The tarp is helping.  At least we’re keeping the debris out of the seed packets.”

“Yeah,” said Sally.  “I’m tired of people asking what the plaster that we enclosed with the seeds was for.”

Sowbug and Sorrel showed up a couple of minutes later.  “Sorry this has taken so long,” Sowbug said.   “We’ve been dealing with a lot of difficult situations.  We’ve got most of them under control now and we can focus on your ceiling.”

“Okay,” Mo said.  “Let’s get everything out of here.  Once we’ve cleared out your stuff we’ll be able to begin working.”

Sal and Sally shrugged and left.  As soon as they disappeared, the construction folks moved everything out of the office and got to work.  Sal and Sally came by periodically to see how the work was going.  Mostly it was hard to tell.

Two hours later,  the crew stopped.  

“That’s it,” Earthworm said to Sal who was waiting anxiously outside.  “It’s all scraped and primed.  We’ll come in tomorrow and paint it and your ceiling will be as good as new.  You can move stuff back in and start working again in a couple of days.”

“Great,” Sal said.  “I’ll be glad to get back to work.”

“Yeah,” Sally said.  “And without even having to stop every two hours to wash my hair.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Eleven: Field Work

Viv, Patsy, Sally, and Bob were scouring the rows of the commune’s cropland looking for whatever vegetables they might have missed.  As they were gathering up the last of the season’s harvest, Chuck, Angel, and Luna were over in the EcoGreenHouse with Birch and Winter going over the cold weather crops they had planted there.

Meanwhile, Sally made a discovery.

“Hey, I found a zucchini,” Sally said.  “It was hidden under some leaves.”

“Yeah,” Bob said.  “Their leaves can get pretty big.”

Patsy looked up.  “I found another zucchini over here.”

“I thought we planted cucumbers over there,” said Sally.

“Well, this is definitely a zucchini,” Patsy said, holding it high.

“Yeah,” Bob said.  “Sometimes they migrate.”

“I guess they do,” said Viv.  “And I think that’s the last of it. It looks like we’ve got this field pretty much cleaned out now.”

“I love that we’ve got the EcoGreenHouse so we can grow food almost all year round,” said Patsy.

“So cool,” Sally said.  “We can keep going while our fields are empty.”

“Not like the farming I used to do,” Bob said.  “Nine months of the year, you were out sweating in the fields, and then you had whole three months to relax and…”

“And…” Viv prompted.

“And try to figure out how you were going to pay all your bills with nothing to sell,” Bob finished.


A few days later the entire farming crew was out in the fields, planning for next year.

“As far as I’m concerned, the layout from last year was pretty good,” said Luna.  “I think we should basically keep the same plan.”

“Cat says that we should plant more carrots and tatsoi next year,” said Viv. “She said that they could barely keep up with the demand.”

“And pumpkins,” said Sally.  “We need more pumpkins!”

“Can we please put in another batch of turnips?”  Angel asked.  “We could stick it over there.  I don’t think that space is being used for anything.”

“That’s where I was hoping that we’d put the trellis for the extra-hardy kiwis,” Luna said.

“I thought that was where we were going to put the hazelbert tree,” Winter said.

“No,” said Chuck.  “The hazelbert tree was going over there.”

“Oh, no,” Patsy said.  “I was hoping to put an extra crop of zucchini over there.”

“There’s a real simple solution to all this,” Bob said.

“Really?” asked Luna.

“Yep.”  Bob paused a moment.  “You just gotta buy more land.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Ten: Spooked

“Didn’t have many trick or treaters this year,”  Paul G remarked.

“I wonder if the election had anything to do with it?”  Cat asked.

“You mean that there’ll be bigger monsters out on election day?” said Blue Sky.

“Yeah,” said Cat.  “I’m not sure if we’re in for a trick or a treat.”

Patsy came by with some produce for the stand.

“Hey,” said Blue Sky.  “It’s unusual to see you delivering stuff.”

“I know,” Patsy said.  “But Luna got called away to deal with something.  I think that there’s something weird going on.”

Before anyone got a chance to quiz Patsy, a customer derailed the conversation by asking about the difference between kabocha and kombucha.

“Can you make tea from kabocha squash?” he asked.

A few minutes later, Nancy came in looking for Dan.

“He really isn’t here,” Cat said.  “I’ve looked under all the vegetables.”

“Why?”  asked Blue Sky.  “Is there something happening that we should know about?”

“I think there is,” Nancy said.  “Peter is looking for him.  He’s been talking with Luna and Sal.  I don’t think that it’s good.”


Peter was talking with Luna and Sal when Dan came in.

“I was meeting with the construction crew,” Dan said.  “They’re having some difficulties.  What’s up?”

“I was just telling them,” Peter said.  “I got a call from Edgar.  He’s a bit worried.  It seems like the Reagons have escaped from their maximum security prison.”

“How the heck do you escape from a maximum security prison?”  Sal asked.

“With a lot of help,” Peter answered.  “The whole thing is being investigated, but it looks like it was an inside job.”
“Like the guards were in on it?”  asked Luna.

“Like the warden was in on it,” said Peter.  “Unfortunately Hillary and Alec have a lot of friends in ultra-conservative circles.”
“You mean wingnuts,” said Sal.

“There’s a lot more of them around than you might think,” Peter said.  “And it looks like the Reagons had help on the inside and the outside.  This escape was pulled off with precision.  Heads will roll, but I don’t think it’s going to help much.”

“So what do we do?” asked Dan.

“Just keep a sharp eye out,” Peter said.  “If you run into any trouble at all, don’t hesitate to call Edgar, or me, or Fred, or George, or even your neighbors.”

“We’ll bring it up in the commune meeting tomorrow night,” Luna said.  “I’m feeling apprehensive just talking about it.  I can only imagine how everyone else is going to feel.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Nine: Whatever Can Go Wrong

“I just found another leak in that hose,” Dandelion said.  “Whose idea was it to get our water this way anyhow?

“Yours, as I recall,” Lois said.

“I was afraid you’d remember that,” Dandelion said.

Lois looked up from the leak she was working on.  “I’m not sure I can think of any way to have hoses this long running for this long without there being leakage along the way.  I am sure that I couldn’t think of any better way for us to get water this while the water company is working on the pipes.”

“It was supposed to only last a week,” Sowbug said.

“Then they found additional problems,” said Earthworm.

“Hey, folks!” Dan yelled from down the field.  “I’m glad I found you.”

“Now, what?” Sorrel yelled back at him from further down the hose.

“Come in, come in!” Dan yelled and waited until they had all gathered around him.  “I’m afraid there’s going to be another delay.”

“Again?”  Mo asked.

“Oh, yes,” Dan said.  “The water company guys found an auxiliary line that they wanted to investigate and when they dug it up they hit a phone cable that they didn’t know was there.  The phone company is on it’s way but they say that this is one of their major cables for the region.  They estimate that it will be another week before the water company will be able to get back to the pipes--and then they’re going to need some time to get everything back on schedule.”

“Oh, great,” Sowbug said.  “At this rate it will be November before we get our water back.”


Meanwhile, the kitchen crew were having problems of their own.

“Oh, no!”  Nancy cried.  “This is the third batch of blackberry sage bread that I’ve burned this week.”  She looked like she was about to cry.

“Go easy, dear,” Zelda said.  “It’s not  your fault.  You know that oven is off.”

“But I hate throwing good food away,”  Nancy said.

“It’s okay,” Candy said.  “We’ll get the ovens fixed and we’re not losing that much stuff.”

“What’s that smoky smell?”  Paul G asked, coming into the kitchen.

“Oh, fudge!” shrieked Darren.  “I just burnt a whole batch of biscuits!”

“Can we help you with something?”  Zelda asked Paul G.

“Yeah,”  Paul G said.  “I’m looking for someone in the construction/maintenance crew.  One of the flooring supports just broke.”

“Oh dear,” Nancy said.  “Was anyone hurt?”

“No,” Paul G said.  “But now there’s a big hole in the middle of the produce stand.”

“It looks like I’m going to need to get in line,” said Sal, standing behind Paul G.  “The ceiling of the seed office is cracking and there’s plaster falling down on us.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Eight: Dazzle Comes Clean

“Can I talk with you?” Peter asked.  “Privately?”

“How private?” Sal asked.  “I don’t think there’s anyone else around.”

“I want to make sure that no one can hear us and that no one will walk in on us,”  Peter said.

“Oh, dear,” said Sal.  “This doesn’t sound good.”  She thought a moment.  “Let’s go up to my room.  Everyone should be working and I’ll tell Nancy not to disturb us.  She’s the only one who would walk in if the door was closed.”

They found Nancy in the kitchen and she agreed to make sure no one disturbed them.  “Good thing that I know that you’re not interested in men,” she said.

“Okay,” Sal said when they were alone in her room.  “What’s this all about?”

Peter pulled out a copy of the Wall Beast Journal.  He pointed to the picture on the front page.  “Does this guy look familiar?”

Sal stared at the picture for a minute.  Suddenly she gasped.  “That’s Dazzle!”

“I told you that I thought he looked familiar for some reason,” Peter said.

“Doug Danford Disappearance Perplexes Police,” Sal read.  “Oh my goodness.  What’s he wanted for?”

“Apparently there’s a whole bunch of money missing from the firm he worked for.  There are rumors that he’s skipped the country.  He’s been gone for almost a month now.”

“Wait,” Sal said.  “It says that he was known on Madison Avenue as Doug Dazzle.  That’s exactly what he told us.  And he gave us his real name when he started here.”

“Yeah,” Peter said.  “That is puzzling.”


The next day  there was a very private meeting in the back house.  Sal, Dan, Luna, Peter, George, and Fred were there and Dazzle was invited.

“I’m here,” he said as he entered.  “But I’m not sure why.”

Peter handed him the paper.

“What the…”  Dazzle scanned the article.  “I don’t believe this!”

“You want to tell us what happened?” Peter asked.

“I don’t know anything about this money,” Dazzle said.  “I left the firm less than a month ago.  I just had a big, and I mean big, argument with my boss.  I told him, ‘I’m out of here and I’m not coming back,’ and I left.
“I had had it with the Gigantic Apple and all the craziness that it represents.  I was complaining to my friend Alex and he mentioned this commune up north that his cousin lived in.  I said, ‘I didn’t think there were any communes any more,’ and he said, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a bunch of them around.  Candy really likes the place.’ So I figured I’d check it out and now I’m here.  It’s been great.  It’s been just what I needed.  And now it looks like the craziness has followed me up here.”

“What are you going to do?” George asked.

“Go back there, I guess,” Dazzle said.  “I’ve got to get this straightened out.”

“I think it’s probably the best thing to do,” Fred said.

“Stupid cops,” Dazzle said. “I can’t believe that they couldn’t find me up here.  It’s not like I left the country.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Seven: Now What?

“We’re too good,” Mo said.  “We think stuff up and we do it and then what do we do?”

“The new kitchen is all set and running, we don’t need anymore housing at the moment, and I think we’ve maintained everything we could possibly maintain,” Sowbug said.  “We’ve got to find some new projects.”

“Something that will keep us busy for a while,” said Earthworm.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it,” Sorrel said.  “We’re living in a place full of people.  People are hard on places.  We should relax while we’ve got the chance.  I’m sure we’ll be needed for something soon.”

“I’m with Sorrel,” Lois said.  “Something will come up sooner rather than later.  We’ve been working nonstop for weeks.  We should take advantage of the break while we have it.”

“Okay,” said Dandelion.  “I’m with that.  I’m going to rest while I can because…”

“So there you all are,” said Dan, coming through the door.  “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Oh-oh,” said Sorrel.  

“There’s some folks from the county water department saying that they want to redo the lines.”  Dan didn’t look happy.  “They’re telling us we’re going to be without water for a week while they fix stuff.”

“When are they starting?”  asked Earthworm.

“Tomorrow morning,” Dan said.

The construction crew looked at each other.

“Okay,” Sowbug said.  “We’ll be back to you with a proposal by tonight.”


The commune meeting was that night.  Winter was directing things, wearing a lovely lavender frock and amethyst slippers.

“So,” he said.  “Do you have a proposal for what we will do without water?”

“Okay,” said Dandelion.  “We’ve talked with Peter who isn’t on the same water line as us and he’s agreed to let us run a couple of hoses from his place to ours so that we can get fresh water from him.”

“We had also installed a couple of rainwater barrels a few months ago that have been collecting water which we can use for washing and bathing,” Mo added.  “We’ve also been using greywater for the crops so that we can make every drop count.”

“Are we going to need to repay Peter for his water?” Luna asked.

“He said that we could pay him ‘in kind’,” Dandelion said.

“I know what that means,” said Nancy.  “He’s going to wants as much baked goods as we’re willing to send him.”

“How are we going to heat the water?” Marge asked.

“We’ve created solar showers to go with the rainwater,” said Sowbug.  “It does mean that you’ll need to shower outdoors but fortunately the weather isn’t supposed to be too cool this week.  For everything else, we’ll need to heat the water on the stoves, I guess.  We’ll work on fixing something up.”

“I hope that you’re also planning on working on the floor in the produce stand,” Paul G said.

“Why?” asked Earthworm.  “What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s starting to give way in several places,” Cat said.  “I think the wood may be rotting.”

“Yeah,” said Darren.  “That’s happening at the pastry stand as well.   I think you’re going to need to deal with it soon.”

“That reminds me,” Zelda said.  “The thermostat on one of the new ovens broke.  Do you think one of you can fix it?”

“You know,” said Sowbug, “I’m sorry I said we were going to need something more to do.”