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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Big Problems

Unsurprisingly, the woman's lawyer turned out to be Cecil Nixon.  He came by a couple of days later with the news that the woman had a broken ankle and said they would be taking the commune to court.  He also served the farm with a restraining order, forbidding any of them from going near the woman--as if the members of the commune might want to chase after her.

Dan and Sal inspected the floorboard several days after the fact and came to the conclusion that it had been hacked at from underneath the building, weakening it enough that a good stomp would easily break it.

"Who could have done it?" Nancy asked.

"Actually anyone," said Dan.  "I suspect that it was done while we were in the commune meeting.  I think someone simply crawled under the building and did the work.  We don't have fences around the produce stand and it's dark out there at night--and we were all occupied.  Unless the person was really loud we would never have heard them."

"I wonder how anyone knew we were in meeting," Luna said.  "They'd be taking a chance that someone might come out and spot them otherwise."

"We found some tracks in the snow which were probably from the intruder," Sal said.  "But we get enough traffic around that farm stand so that it's hard to tell."

"Well, Peter and his friends will be here soon," Luna said.  "Hopefully they'll have some idea what to do."

Peter, Fred, and George showed up that afternoon and were less than thrilled with the news.

"I told you she plays nasty," Fred said.

"I wouldn't worry to much about it," Peter said.  "I have some friends on the local police force that can take pictures and verify that the board was deliberately weakened.  I think that I can make a good case that you were the victims of deliberate sabotage."

"I hope so," said Viv.  "I'm just afraid that this is the beginning of something."

"I'm afraid of that too," Peter said.  "But we can only do what we can do.  One thing that I'm definitely going to do is find out more about this injured woman.  I want to know who she is and where she was treated.  I think we're going to find out that there's a lot more about this than a simple injury."

"Thank you," said Luna.  "I'm glad that the three of you are on our side.  That woman and her slimy lawyer give me the creeps."

"Me too," said Fred.  "And I'm a lawyer."


Several days later, things at the two stands were at a fever pitch.  Folks involved with the 'Save Our Maples (from Monsterinsano)' campaign had heard of the trouble at the commune and were concerned that Ms Reagon was trying to drive the commune out of business so she could create her maple syrup farm.  They put the word out to patronize their businesses.

"Look at this," Cat said and held up a flyer. "It says 'Support the Commune!  Buy from their farm stands!'"

"No kidding," Sal said as she sold some spinach. "That explains why yesterday was our top selling day ever.  We're almost out of produce.  Luna says that the EcoGreenHouse can't keep up with this."

For once, Dan wasn't covered with greens--there weren't enough greens to cover him.

"I'm afraid we may have to close early today," he said.

The situation was similar at the bake stand.  Barbara and Darren were trying to handle all the customers while Nancy and Will were in the kitchen baking up more goodies.

"We're running out of flour," Nancy said as she handed Will a tray of fruit breads to bring to the stand along with his latest batch of cupcakes.

"I'll run to the store after I deliver these and buy some more," Darren said.

"Buy a lot," said Nancy, "And buy extra sugar, honey, maple syrup, eggs, butter, and milk.  And flax and cocoa butter for the vegan stuff."

"Got it," Darren said as he made his way out the door, his arms laden with pastries.

"And rice flour for the gluten free stuff!" Nancy called out after him.

She finished work on several pies and started creating several sheets of cookies.

Fifteen minutes later Darren was back.

"That was fast," Nancy said, before she got a look at him.

His arms were empty and his face looked frantic.

"What's wrong?" Nancy asked.

"I needed money to buy all that stuff,"  Darren said.  "But I couldn't find the cashbox. Anywhere."

"Did you talk to Luna?"

"Luna and Marge and Ken and everyone are now searching the houses for it," Darren said.

"Weren't they going to take it to the bank today?"

"Oh, yeah," said Darren.  "It had been filled with cash from the last couple of days sales.  Luna thinks there were several thousand dollars in it.  And..."  He stopped.

"And?" Nancy prompted.

"And it's all gone."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chapter Twenty-Eight: Problems

"I'm here," said Will as he raced into the meeting.

"Good," said Cat who was facilitating.  "Now has anyone seen Barbara?"

"I saw her wandering toward the produce stand for some reason as I was leaving," Edgar said.

Cat was just about to ask if someone could go find her, when Barbara barreled through the door.  "Sorry I'm late," she said.  "I had to check on something."

"Okay," Cat said.  "Let's get started.  We have a lot on the agenda."

It was Wednesday night and commune was meeting as they did nearly every Wednesday night.

"Luna," Cat continued, "you scheduled to give a financial report."

"Okay," Luna said. "Once again we made more than we lost.  We did very well last month. I think we should raise our allowances."

"I'm in favor of that," Ken said.

"Yeah," said Viv.  "I don't think you're going to have anyone disagreeing."

"How about reports from the different areas?" Cat asked.

"No problems at the produce stand," Sal said.  "It's always busy but Dan, Cat, and I are keeping up."

"It's great having Will and Darren baking with me," Nancy said, "and Barbara is still our best salesperson at the bake stand.  No problems with us."

"With help from Viv, Chuck, and Edgar, we have the fields pretty much ready for spring," Luna said.  "Between the hoop houses, cold frames, and the EcoGreenHouse, we should have a steady supply of greens until they're growing in the fields."

"We're all set on housekeeping and maintenance," Marge said.  "Ken and Grace make sure everything is clean and ready.  My only concern is if we get many more people.  We've only got a couple of rooms left in the three houses."

"Maybe we should build a new house," Chuck said.  "We were always working on new buildings at Squat Mountain."

"That's not a bad idea," Dan said.  "But right now, Sal and I are busy enough with the produce stand.  We'd need other people to replace us there, and we'd need more people to form a building crew."

"Wait a minute," Grace said.  "We're going need more people if we're going to make more housing but we'll need more housing for the people that are going to build it.  I don't see how that's going to work."

"Maybe we should hold off on getting more people until the weather is warmer," said Luna.  "Then some people could live in tents while they were building more houses."

"Okay, okay," Cat said.  "Let's try to stay on track here. We've still got a lot of other things to cover in the meeting tonight..."


Thursday morning no one had time to think much about the previous night's meeting.   It was busy all over and it was particularly busy in the produce stand.

It was mostly the usual suspects shopping there but there was a new customer as well, a well-dressed middle-aged woman who seemed to be checking out everything.

"Do you have any more of the White Russian Kale?"  she asked.

Dan tried to answer but found himself caught in the cabbages.

"Sorry," Cat said.  "Can I interest you in any of the Stegosaurus Kale?"

"No thanks.  I guess I'll stick with the mizuna."  She suddenly saw the baby bok choy in the back and headed over to see if she wanted any of that.

An older man, a dairy farmer down the road who was a frequent customer, was asking Sal if she knew when the onions and leeks might be coming in.

"I think it's going to be another month," Sal said.  "We're planning on planting a test batch in the EcoGreenHouse soon to see how they work in there.  We're also planning on growing a lot more this year so we have plenty through next winter."

"That's what you said about the rutabagas."

"I know," Sal said.  "Let's just say that we're planning to do that with everything."

The farmer looked like he was going to say something more but he was interrupted by a loud crash.  The well-dressed woman had stamped her foot over by the baby bok choy and it sounded like it went through the flooring of the farm stand.  She went flying.

"Oww!" she cried.  "My ankle! I think it's broken."

Cat and Sal ran over to her.  Dan shook arugula off himself and joined them.  Most of the customers flocked around.

The woman just lay on the floor, seemingly stunned.  There was a jagged hole in the floorboards behind her.

"Are you okay?" Cat asked.

"No.  I'm not.  What kind of place is this?  I walk around and the floor gives way."

"You stomped hard there," a woman who was one of the regulars said.  "I saw you."

"So what?" the injured woman replied.  "I should be able to walk as hard as I want without the floor collapsing.  What kind of shoddy construction is this place?"

Sal looked at Dan.  "It shouldn't have given way no matter how hard she put her foot down," Dan said.

The woman tried to stand.  Cat and one of the other customers helped her up.  She threw her bags of greens at Sal and began limping for the door.

"You're not going to get away with this," she said.  "I'm going to sue.  Just you wait.  You'll hear from my lawyer."

And with that she made her way to her car and drove off.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chapter Twenty-Seven: More New Arrivals

It was a cold, snowy morning in early February when a black pickup truck pulled in front of the main house.  Three folks got out and walked to the door.

Ken answered it, took one look at the fifty-something man standing there in a buckskin jacket, blue jeans, and shiny black shoes, and said, "Wait a minute."

Marge was nearby, fortunately, and came to the door.  "Can we help you?" she asked.

"Can we come in?"

Marge looked at the three of them and decided they were probably harmless and realised that it didn't make sense to have a conversation with the door wide open and all the heat leaving the house.  "Yeah, come on in."

The older man was followed by a young woman and a young man, both wearing peacoats, jeans, and boots.  Ken wondered if they were a family.

"We heard this was a commune," the first man said.  "We were wondering if you could use folks."

"Are you a family?" Marge asked.  "Or friends?"

"I'm Edgar," the man said.  "I was driving up here and picked up these two and they told me about this commune."

"We just came from the Rainbow Woman Gathering Festival," the younger man said.

"My name's Grace," the woman said.  "Someone at the festival had been at a Faerie Gathering where he heard about your commune.  I thought it sounded great."

"Okay, you're Edgar and Grace," said Marge.  "And your name?"

"Oh, yeah," said the second man.  "I'm Will."

"Can any of you farm?  Are you good at cooking or cleaning?  How about baking?"

"I can bake like nobody's business," said Will.

"Can you make cupcakes?"

"I make awesome cupcakes."

"Okay," said Marge.  "We could use you."

"I grew up on a farm," Edgar said.  "I certainly know my way around growing things."

"And I can cook and clean if you need me to," said Grace.

"Well, we'll need to talk with everyone else," Marge said, "but I have a feeling that you folks won't have trouble fitting in."


Within a few days, Edgar, Grace, and Will were just another part of the community. 

Will's cupcakes, as he said, were very, very good, and Darren was glad to turn cupcake baking over to him, and to simply assist Will and Nancy with all the baking.  Business at the bake stand was doing very well and it kept the three of them, and Barbara as working at the stand, very busy.  Cat was now very much a part of the produce stand with Sal and Dan, and Marge and Ken welcomed Grace as part of the team keeping the place in order.

And Edgar joined Luna, Viv, and Chuck in the greenhouses and hoop houses and in preparing the fields for the spring.  He knew a lot about growing things but he did seem a bit slow in doing stuff, as if he hadn't done farming for while.

"What did you do before you came here?" asked Viv.

"Oh," said Edgar, "this and that."

She was about to ask more when Peter came by looking for Luna.  He was with two other men, one with long hair and a pink open necked dress shirt and the other with a crew-cut and a white shirt and a thin black and silver striped tie.

"This is Fred and George," he said to Luna.  "Fred" and he gestured to the fellow with the long-hair "is an expert on corporate law and George" waving at the man with the crew-cut beside him "specializes in alternative culture and the law.  They're both top flight attorneys and both committed to the freedom of the syrup growers."

"Who's the woman with the blue hair?" George asked.  "We passed her on the way in."

"Her name is Barbara," Luna said.  "Why?"

"She looks familiar for some reason, but I can't place her."

"We want to look at your books," Peter said, "and get a chance to study your operation in detail.  I aim to make sure that everything you do is impeccable and irreproachable."

"I appreciate this more than I can say," Luna said.  "We've had no problems since the new year but I can't help feeling uneasy.  Maybe because it's been too quiet.  I feel like I keep waiting for the other shoe."

"All I can promise is that she won't have any legal avenue to fault you.  Unfortunately, we can't protect you from everything."

"Yeah," said George.  "I've been studying some of the conservative organizations lately, and the way that they attack alternative institutions.  They can be brutal."

"And I've also dealt with Ms Reagon, on several occasions," Fred said.  "I can tell you that she plays very nasty.  I can only hope we can figure whatever she's planning and stop it."

"I really do hope you can,"  Luna said.  "She has me scared, honestly."

"Hey," Chuck said.  "You're all looking on the negative side of things here.  Maybe there won't be any more problems here.  You've got to think positive."

"Oh," said Viv, "We're thinking positive alright.  For example, I'm positive that woman is up to something.  In fact, I'm positive there will be more problems coming sometime soon."