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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chapter Seventeen: They All Give Thanks

     "And Luna said, 'Folks, it's only a start, we'll do better, we'll do better, as soon as we're able...'"

Two days later, the lawyer showed up.

Ken was cleaning the front room in the main house when he was startled to see a man in a dark suit coming to the door.  He opened the door before the man could ring the bell.

"Can I help you?" he asked.

"I came about the cat,"  the man at the door said.  It would have been hard to ask 'What cat?' because Carrie was rubbing against Ken's leg.

"What about the cat?" Ken said.  He heard Dan come up behind him.

"Whose cat is this?" the man asked.

"It's Schrodinger's," said Dan.  "What is this all about?"

"Is this cat registered?"

"Registered?" Dan looked perplexed.  "Who the heck are you?"

The man reached into an inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out a business card.  He handed it to Dan.

"Cecil M Nixon, Esquire," read Dan, "Attorney at Law."

"This town requires all pets to be registered," the lawyer said.

"Does that include geckos?" Ken asked.

Mr. Nixon looked annoyed.  "I'm sorry. I believe that it principally applies to cats and dogs.  Is this cat registered?"

"We will have the cat registered as soon as possible,"  Dan said.

"Good," said the lawyer.  "I will be back to make sure that everything here complies with town, state, and federal laws."  He made a mock bow to Dan and Ken and left.

"What was that all about?" asked Ken.

"I think it's harassment," said Dan.  "Unless I'm greatly mistaken, I suspect that this is our new neighbor's way of making sure we know we are being watched.  I think, unfortunately, we can expect to have a lot more of this happening."

"And who is this Schrodinger?"

Dan shrugged his shoulders.  "Some guy who had a cat."

Luna was not amused when she heard about the lawyer's visit.  "We'd better make sure we do everything as carefully as we can.  They're watching our every move at this point."

   "And now Luna Lagoon, and the rest of the commune, all gathered around the table..."

"This is a racist, imperialist, patriarchal, and colonial holiday."  Sal was upset.  "We should be in mourning, not celebration."

"It's a chance for us all to give thanks for what we have," said Viv.

"And where do you think we got all those things we have?  From genocide and slave labor."

The two women stared at each other.

Luna was nearby and heard most of this.  "Look, you're both right.  Some awful things happened so that we could be here.  And that's no reason not to be thankful.  It's a reason to work to create a world that works for everyone."

"And that's what we're doing here," added Dan.  "Hopefully we're creating that world in miniature."

Sal looked at both of them like they'd lost their minds.

Nancy came by carrying a stack of pies.  "Don't worry about it.  She goes through this every year.  She's always grateful in the end."

Sal glared at her.  Nancy glared back and suddenly the two of them were laughing.  Nancy put down the pies before she dropped them.

"I'm sorry," Sal said.  "I'm not trying to be a downer.  I just don't want anyone to forget the pain and suffering surrounding this holiday."

"And you can remind us at our dinner," said Luna.

Dinner was a feast.  There were vegetables everywhere, some arranged in such a way that they resembled a turkey.  There were breads and pies and cakes and cupcakes.  There was cider and beer and wine and water and cranberry juice.

And there were lots of people around the table.  Luna and Dan and Sal and Nancy and Cat and Viv and Ken and Marge--and Ed and Ralph and Peter and Luna's mother and Ken's mother and Cat's mother and even Amanda and Steve.

And, as the meal ended, everyone said one or two things that they were thankful for.

When it came around to Sal, she said, "I'm thankful that I'm living in a place that understands the struggles that brought us here."

"And I'm thankful for you, Sal," said Nancy.  "I'm thankful that you came with me here and that this place is here for both of us."

"And I'm thankful for all of you," said Luna, who was last.  "This farm and this commune wouldn't exist without each and every one of you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Here's to many more Thanksgivings here in the future."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chapter Sixteen: When Harry Met Carrie

  "So one day a cat walked onto the place, and got herself a spot in the local commune..."

"Unfortunately, I think that was just the opening salvo from our neighbors," Dan said.

It was dinnertime a few days later and Peter, who was now becoming a frequent guest of the commune, agreed. "If they don't like you, I doubt that they'll stop with calling the cops once.  You'd better watch yourselves from now on."

"Oh, great," Luna said.  "Our cash flow is drying up and we have to watch out for the neighbors."

"Why is your cash flow drying up?" Peter asked.

"We're about harvested out and winter is coming up.  I believe in Five Season Harvesting, but that requires hoophouses, greenhouses, and cold frames."

Dan looked at Sal.  "I think we'd better get building," he said.

"Fine with me," Sal said.  "We're not selling much produce these days."

"I can manage the stand," Marge said.  Then she turned to Peter.  "Not to change the subject, but do you know anything about a tabby cat that seems to stroll around the neighborhood?  Does she belong to anyone?"

"I think she belonged to the people who used to live across the street from you," Peter said.  "These days she wanders around, scrounging food at various houses.  I think she's looking for a home."

"Maybe we should adopt her," said Nancy.  "We need a commune cat."

"Fine with me," said Viv.  She looked at Peter.  "Does she have a name?"

"Not that I know," said Peter.  "As far as I know when the folks across the street left, they took her name with them.  You could call her whatever you like.  You could call her Cat."

"That name's taken," said Cat.

"Oops," said Peter.  "Sorry.  I forgot."

"I like something with a 'C' sound for a commune cat," said Marge.  "Carla, Kitty, Katy..."

"Carrie," said Nancy.  "I like Carrie.  It was the name of one of my gerbils back in Georgia."

"Yeah," Viv said.  "Carrie."

"Wait," said Marge.  "We need to do this by concentration.  Does anyone have any objections to Carrie?"

Most folks shook their heads.  No one objected.

"Carrie it is," said Marge.  "I'll bring her in the next time I see her."

    "Ken said, Carrie you met your match..."

Carrie was soon roaming the house.  Marge and Nancy fed her regularly and she rubbed ankles with everyone when they were eating dinner.  During the next (and basically noncontroversial) house meeting, she sat quietly on peoples' laps and appeared to listen.

The biggest question at the meeting was what to do about the neighbors.

"I don't think there's much we can do," said Dan.

"We could make prank calls to them," Ken suggested.

"Yeah," said Luna, "I'm sure there's lots of things that we could do to annoy them, but that's really not going to be helpful."

"We could go over with a loaf of my Raspberry Maple Walnut Bread," Nancy said.

"Somehow," said Sal, "I don't think they'll be won over that easily."

"I'm wondering about their plans to create a maple syrup industry," Cat said.

"That's a good question," Dan said.  "I suspect that Peter will keep us up to date with that one."

Things at the farm were really quieting down.  It was mid-November.  The leaves were turning.  There wasn't much in the fields except some hardy kale and a few root vegetables.  Luna and Viv were working with Dan and Sal to build cold frames and hoop houses to grow winter crops in.

And one day, Carrie discovered Ken's room.

Ken had been keeping his door closed to keep the cat out but one day he left in a hurry and forgot.  Carrie noticed the open door and went in to investigate this interesting room.  Marge was walking down the hallway and saw Carrie stroll into the room.  She went and found Ken.

The two of them ran upstairs and into the room.  They found Carrie involved in a staring contest with the gecko.

Harry seemed to find the cat quite interesting.  When he moved closer to Carrie, she tried to take a swat at him.  Unfortunately, since Harry was in an aquarium all that happened was that her paw bounced off the glass.  This was very frustrating for Carrie.  She started swiping the glass, again and again, with the same result.  Harry put his head right up to the glass and watched as Carrie tried swatting harder and harder.

Finally, it seemed to stop amusing Harry and he went back to investigate his log.

Marge and Ken broke out laughing.  Carrie looked at them for a moment and then began licking her rear paw. A moment later she sauntered out of the room with as much dignity as she could muster.

Ken left his door open from then on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Chapter Fifteen: Vivian Goes to Court

    "Vivian came in, grinning a grin..."

The folks of the commune were waiting there to greet them when Vivian, Luna, Sal, and Peter arrived home.  Viv smiled at everyone and then burst into tears.

"I'm sorry," she said.  "I know that I didn't play fair with everyone and should have let you know about the plants in my room.  I was just afraid you wouldn't let me have them."

"Tell them what you told us in the car," Sal said.

Viv sobbed for a second.  "I've been fighting depression for a long time.  I didn't want to take medication any more and pot was the only thing that helped."

"There's going to be a court hearing in a week," Peter said.  "That's what you'll need to tell the judge."

People started hugging and holding Viv.  "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said.

People started hugging and thanking Peter as well.

"Don't thank me until after you see my bill," he said.

Several people stopped and looked at each other.

Peter winked at them.  "Of course, if you need to, you can pay me in vegetables."

"You may never pay for food again," said Nancy.

"Assuming, that is, you can live on veggies and baked goods," said Marge.

Cat just handed Peter a cupcake.

Peter beamed at everyone.  "I'm going home," he said.  "I still have to get up for work tomorrow."

Of course, it wasn't that easy for him to get out of there.  He left finally after many more hugs, with a loaf of Nancy's Apple Zucchini Bread under his arm.

Most of the commune headed for bed shortly after that.  Nancy and Sal took Viv with them.

The next day they were back to work as usual.

The fields were about empty, other than some greens and a few root crops.  Luna talked with Viv about her plans to build a greenhouse for winter crops.  She also consulted with Sal and Dan about building plans since things were slowing up at the produce stand.

Two days later, an envelope arrived in the mail with Vivian's court date on it.

          "Okay, Viv, this is a showdown..."

The courthouse was three towns away, in the county seat and biggest town in the area.  Viv, Luna, and Peter arrived almost an hour before Viv's hearing.

Two days earlier, Viv had seen a psychiatrist that Peter had recommended and now had a letter from her.  She had it in her bag as they sat in the gallery and waited for the hearing.  Other folks were coming before the judge, a quiet person with white hair and a soft voice.

"I think we're in luck," Peter whispered.  "This judge is known to favor defendants involved in what's known as non-violent crimes."

They watched as attorneys and clients went in front of the judge and presented pleas and witnesses.  In some cases the witnesses were cross-examined.  The time for Viv's hearing came and went before the judge could see her.

"Vivian Mooney," the bailiff called finally.

Luna squeezed Viv's hand.  "Good luck," she said.

Peter and Vivian went up to the front of the court.

"Please approach the bench," the judge said to them and turned to the bailiff.  "Where is the prosecutor?"

"The prosecutor for this case hasn't shown up," said the bailiff.

"Your honor," said Peter, "my client has a letter from her physician that she'd like you to read."

Vivian got the psychiatrist's letter out of her bag and handed it to the judge, who quickly scanned through it.

"Has the prosecutor shown up yet?"

"No, your honor," said the bailiff.

"You need to register with the state to grow marijuana plants for medical use," said the judge.  "Please do that promptly.  Case dismissed."

The bailiff shrugged her shoulders and called the name of the next person.

Viv and Peter went back to the gallery where Luna gave Viv a great big hug.  Then she hugged Peter.  Viv hugged Peter and then the three of them were all hugging together.  Someone hissed, "You're blocking the aisles," and they broke it up and made their way to the back of the courtroom and out of the courthouse.

"And now," Luna said, "it's back to work we go."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chapter Fourteen: The Sheriff Comes Back

  "The sheriff, he thought he was looking for pot..."

Ken was in the main house cleaning and Marge was making lunch.  Dan had stopped in to get something when he saw the sheriff's car parking through the window.  He was at the door and opening it before the sheriff and his deputies could ring the bell.

"What can we do for you today, sheriff?" Dan asked.  Marge and Ken were right behind him.

"I'm sorry to bother you.  I have a search warrant for this house."

"Well, if you got a warrant, I guess you're gonna come in."  Dan stood aside and let the sheriff and the two deputies walk into the place.  "What are you looking for?"

"One of your neighbors claims that you are growing marijuana in a second floor room in this building.  We need to investigate."

Dan looked at Ken.  Ken shook his head and then shrugged.

"Okay," Dan said.  "Let's check upstairs."

Dan, the sheriff, the two deputies, Ken, and Marge, went up the stairs and began looking in the front bedrooms.

They started with Ken's room.  There were clothes strewn all over the place and bits of junk food in the corner, but nothing in the window.

Harry the crested gecko looked inquisitively at the incoming crowd.  When he realized that none of them were going to feed him, he went back to examining the log in his aquarium, in case some tasty insect had appeared there since he last checked.

The sheriff and deputies half-heartedly looked into the closet, through Ken's dresser, and under his bed, but since there weren't any plants in the window, it seemed unlikely they were hidden somewhere.

Cat's room was next.  It was neat as a pin.  There were some old white curtains in the window, but no plants.  And, again, a search of the room turned up nothing illegal.

The third front bedroom belonged to Viv.  As soon as the door was opened, the two tall plants were visible, right in front of a window.

"Okay," said the sheriff.  "Who's room is this?"

"Ken," Dan said, "go get Luna and Viv."

The sheriff and deputies waited patiently while Ken got the two women.  It took longer than Dan would have thought but eventually Viv and Luna came up the stairs with Ken following.

"This is my room," Viv said, "and those are my plants."

"I'm afraid you're under arrest," said the sheriff.

  "Now Luna Lagoon, she left the commune, only to find help that's legal..."

After Viv left with the sheriff, the rest of the commune gathered to be with each other.

"Let's hold hands and breathe with each other a moment," Nancy suggested.  "We really connect with each other right now."

The group stood a moment in silence.  Then everyone started talking at once.

"Well, I have no question which neighbor called the cops," said Marge, a little louder than most of the folks.

"The question is," Luna said, "What do we do now?"

"Get Peter," Sal and Dan said in unison.

"Absolutely," Luna said.

"We don't know what kind of lawyer Peter is," Cat pointed out.  "He didn't talk about his practice.  For all we know he may only know about real estate law or corporate lawsuits."

"True," said Dan, "But if he doesn't do criminal law, I'll bet he knows someone who does."

Nancy looked at Ken, who was the only one who hadn't been talking.  He still looked stunned.  "Whatcha thinking?"

"That could have been me," Ken said.

"I think we'd better get back to work," Luna said.  "I can see customers at the farm stands.  Peter won't be home until after six. I'll walk over to his place around then."

That evening, Luna and Sal went to see Peter.  They got there before he did, but he arrived shortly after they got there.

"This can't be good," Peter said when he saw them.

"What kind of law do you practice?" Sal asked.

"Oh, this really isn't good," Peter said.  "A little of everything.  What happened?"

"The sheriff found pot plants in Viv's room," Luna said.  "He took her away.  What can we do?"

"Well, we can start by bailing her out."  Peter and the two women got into his car and they drove to the sheriff's office.

"What's the bail on this young woman?"  Peter asked the clerk there.

"Five hundred dollars," the clerk said.

"No problem," Peter said and pulled out a check book.  "They're not taking this very seriously if bail is this low," he said to Luna and Sal as he wrote the check.  He handed it to the clerk.

"We owe you," Luna said.

"Don't worry about it," Peter replied.  "I get it back when she goes into court.  She just better show up for her court date."

The clerk gave him a slip of paper and they drove to the county jail.  Peter handed the slip to the clerk at the jail and moments later they had a very apologetic Vivian in the car with them.