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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chapter Thirty-Eight: Spring has Sprung at the Commune

“It’s so nice out there,” Grace said.

“I know,” Marge said.  “It’s hard to be working in here now that the weather is so much warmer.”

Ken was just staring out the window at the green lands filled with wildflowers and the very green mountains in the distance.

“Can we take a day off to just enjoy the spring?” Grace asked.  “I feel like I’m developing commune fever.”

“I’m sure you could, but I worry that if I take a day off and really enjoy myself,  I’ll want to take even more days off.”  Marge looked out where Ken was watching then pulled herself back.  “And also, then everyone might want to take time off.”

“Maybe we should all take off a day together.”

“Maybe we should have some sort of event to celebrate spring,” Ken said.

“Like what?” asked Grace.

“How about a big benefit concert?” said Ken.

“That sounds great,” Grace said.  “I know some folks in bands that would probably be up for playing here.”

“Maybe we should do something about these dreary rooms here,” said Marge.

“I don’t think the rooms are that bad,” Ken said.

“Yeah, but now that we have that neat looking Groovy House, the stuff in these two other buildings just looks drab.”

“Maybe we should repaint some of the rooms,” Grace said.  “Make them look a little snazzier.”

“I’d be up for doing that,” Ken said.

“I think that’s a good idea,” said Marge.  “I’ll see what I can do about getting us some paint.”

“Thanks, you guys,” Grace said.  “I’m glad we’re working together.”

“Yeah,” said Marge, “and we’d better get working now.”

“Okay,” said Grace.  “And let’s do a super cleaning job.  It’s spring!  Let’s do some spring cleaning.”

“Off to spring cleaning,” Ken said.

“Off to spring cleaning,” Marge said.

“Off to spring cleaning,” Grace said.

And off they went.


The idea for a spring concert came up again in the community meeting.   Grace raised it but pointed out that it was Ken’s idea.

“That’s a cool idea,” Viv said.  “We could raise some money for the farm and have fun at the same time.”

“We know some musicians that play in a band at Three Sycamores,” Nancy said.  “I bet they’d be happy to come up and play here.”

“I know some folks in a band that plays around here,” said Ken.  “That’s what gave me the idea.”

“I know a faery band down at Squat Mountain,” Chuck said.  “I’m sure they’d enjoy coming up to play as well.”

“I think this is a really good idea too,” said Luna.  “We could hold it in the back field.  We’re not going to be planting in that field this year.”

“What do you want to call this concert?” Dan asked.

“How about The Spring Fling Concert?” said Cat.  “Just to celebrate the warmer weather.”

“I think that’s a great name,” Dan said.

“Me, too,” said Ken.  “I think we should make up posters for it.”

“I’d be glad to draw posters,” Will said.  “I like making things like that.”

“Dan and I can work on creating a stage,” Sal said.  “But we’re going to need time to do it and probably quite a bit of help.  How are we going to get the time to do this when things are so busy anyway?”

“I want us to start getting more people again,” Luna said.  “Even if they’re temporary workers.  I’m gonna start looking for folks.  Given what happened to Cecil Nixon and the fact that the Reagons are under investigation, I don’t think Hillary Reagon would try anything right now.”

“I hope not,” Dan said.  “I feel much more confident with our three lawyers helping out and Edgar busy leading the investigation.”

“We should definitely talk with the lawyers about the concert,” Sal said, “and make sure everything is perfectly legal.”

“This concert sounds like such a nice idea,” Darren said.  “I really hope it’ll happen.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Nancy said.  “I think we’re in really good shape now.  I’m sure it will happen.”

“Cool,” said Grace.  “I think this is going to be fantastic.”

“I’m so glad that it’s spring and the weather is so nice,” said Cat.  “I’m just enjoying all the sunshine.”

And then, of course, it rained for the next four days and the farm turned to mud.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Books Come Back

A few days later, George and Fred found Luna and Dan scrawling on sheets of paper in the back room of Groovy House.  They didn’t seem happy about what they were doing.

“What’s up?” Dan asked when he saw Fred and George.

“Are we disturbing you?”  George asked.

“It’s not a great time,” Luna said.  “We’re kinda stressed at the moment.”

“What are you doing?”  Fred said, trying to get a look at the papers.

“We’re trying to recreate the books,” Dan said.  “Tax time is coming up and we don’t have information for them.”

“I don’t think that’s necessary,” said George.

“The federal government would differ with you on that,”  Luna said.

“No,” Fred said.  “I think he’s trying to tell you that you don’t need to do all that work.”

“What are you talking about?” Luna said, raising her voice.  “We gotta do it.”

“No, you don’t,” said Fred.

“Yes, we do,” said Luna.

“No, you really don’t!”

“Yes, we really do!”

“I’m trying to tell you, you don’t!”

“You don’t understand!”

“No, you don’t understand!”

“Wait a minute!” Dan yelled.  “What don’t we understand?”

“You remember that we told you that the Feds raided Cecil Nixon’s office,” George said.  “Guess what they found there?”

Dan and Luna stared at George and Fred for what seemed like several moments.  Finally Luna seemed to get her voice.  “The books?” she said hesitantly.

“The books,” Fred said confidently.

George reached into his briefcase and pulled out a battered green set of papers.

Luna took one look at them and started hugging and kissing Fred and George.

“Whoa,” Fred said when he got a breath.  “This is like an accountant’s wet dream.  The general ledger as an aphrodisiac.”

“You guys are amazing,” Luna said.  “I can’t believe that we got the books back.”

“Believe it,” George said.  “And get rid of all these other papers.”

“With pleasure,” Dan said.


A couple of days later, the commune was busy, busy place.  It was morning and the communards were hard at work.

In the kitchen, Nancy and Will were baking away, preparing for the day’s business.  Tray after tray was coming out of the oven and onto the cooling racks.  Darren was running the finished product over to the "Chthonic Baked Goods and Yggdrasil Cupcakes" stand which was filling up with pastries.  

In the produce stand, Cat and Sal had managed to dig out Dan from under the rutabagas.  Chuck and Viv were bringing in all sorts of vegetables that were growing in the gardens in the EcoGreenHouse.  The stand seemed crammed with greens and root veggies, from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.  It was hard to believe that both stands would be almost empty by the end of the day.

Luna was out in the back by herself, surveying the land and trying to imagine what it would look like when everything would be growing out there, when the fields would be overflowing with all that they had planted.

Marge was taking a break from cleaning and organizing.  She just wanted to get outside on such a lovely day and once outside, she wandered over to where Luna was standing.  Standing beside her, Marge tried to see what Luna was seeing as she gazed at the fields.

“Look at this,” Luna said to her, sweeping her hand in a large arc.  “Soon all this land will be under cultivation.  We’re hoping that we can grow twice as much stuff this year as we did last year.”

“You’re going to have to,” Marge said, “just to keep up with the demand.”

“We’re going to need to have a lot more workers to be able to do this,” Luna said.  “I’ve put out some notices telling folks all we’ll be up to this years.  I’m hoping that these will draw in a lot more new folks very soon.”

“Where are you going to put them all?”

“They can camp way back there,” Luna said.  “It will be an in tents experience.”

“Well, I’m just glad to see that the snow is almost all melted.”

“Really.  It’s hard to believe but I think that the winter is finally over.  It’s time to grow veggies again.”

“Yep.  Winter is over.  I think it’s really spring.”

“Yeah, I think it’s spring.”



“Spring is here at last.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chapter Thirty-Six: Some Surprises for Mr. Nixon

Cecil Nixon showed up almost two weeks later.

Sal and Nancy were outside Groovy House, enjoying the nicer weather and occasionally making comments admiring their new place, when they noticed the shady lawyer standing a couple of feet away from them.  Neither of them heard him approach.  It was as if he simply appeared there.  He took off his hat and swept it down to his knees in an ironic gesture of greeting the two of them.

“I hope you have permits for this lovely new building,” he said.  He grinned at Nancy and Sal the way a diner would grin at the main course.

“Sugar!” Nancy said.

“Oh, no,” Sal said.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Fred said.

Cecil Nixon spun around so fast his feet made a circle in the soft soil.

Fred and George were standing behind him and Fred was dangling the permit from his hand.  

“You didn’t think we’d forget again, did you?” George asked.  He reached into his coat pocket.  “We also have something else for you.  Look at this. It’s a restraining order.  You can’t do this any more.  And I’ve talked with the sheriff.  If you come around here harassing these people again, the sheriff said he’ll be happy to take you in and lock you up.”

“You can’t do that,” Cecil said.  “I’m a lawyer.  I know my rights.”

George smiled and handed him the papers.  “I’m a lawyer too and I know your rights.  You have the right to simply read these papers and leave.”
Cecil Nixon skimmed the papers, scowled, and walked away, down the drive and off of the farm property.  

“Wow,” Sal said.

Fred grinned.  “Oh, this is just the very beginning. There are many more surprises to come for Mr. Nixon.  I think he’s going to be very sorry that he agreed to work for Hillary Reagon.  Very sorry indeed.”

“These are going to be nasty surprises, I hope,” said Sal.

“Oh yes,” George said.  “Quite nasty.”

“Good,” said Nancy.

“Wow,” said Sal.  “I never hear you talk like that.”

Nancy paused and looked Sal straight in the eyes.  “I’m sorry,” she said.  “But he absolutely deserves it.”


With the somewhat warmer weather, most of the snow had disappeared from the fields and business was busier than ever.  People were streaming in and out of the produce and bakery stands and the stuff they grew was flying off the shelves.  Vegetables were still being grown in the EcoGreenHouse but with the weather getting nicer, the commune was preparing to do some real farming.

Luna, Viv, and Chuck were busy moving the last bits of snow and ice off of the fields that they were planning to plant in.  

“I think we’re close to ready,” Luna said.  “Things look like they’re in good shape here.”

“Have you got seeds?”  Chuck asked.

“We’ve got lots of seeds,” Luna said.  “I ordered a ton of them from Indecent Exposure Seed Exchange.”

“There’s Peter,” Viv said.

“Hey, there,” Peter called to them as he approached.  “You still doing those Wednesday night meetings?”

“Oh yeah,” Luna said.  “We’ve one scheduled for tomorrow night.”

“Put us on the agenda,” Peter said.  “Fred, George, and I have got some stuff to report to all of you.”

Grace was facilitating the meeting.  The three lawyers sat quietly while the commune members discussed the dishes (for the twelfth time), whether they should look for members, and whether they should do something to celebrate spring (once the snow finally completely disappeared).  Finally Grace turned to the three quiet gentlemen.

“Okay,” Grace said.  “Peter, you and George and Fred wanted to talk with us about something.”

“We do,” Peter said.  “If we can have a few minutes of your time, we have quite a bit of news for you.”

“You remember I said Cecil Nixon had more surprises coming to him,” said Fred.  “Well, he certain got some this week.”

“Mr. Nixon’s offices were raided by federal agents on Monday,” Peter said.

“Really?” asked Cat.

“Yes, indeed,” said George.  “And your friend Edgar had a lot to do with it.”

“We can tell you now that it’s over,”  Peter added.  “There has been a federal investigation of the Reagons and Cecil Nixon.  Edgar Gordon headed up the effort.  They haven’t been able to pin much on the Reagons but they found enough on old Cecil to merit getting a search warrant on him.”

“They found all sorts of things when they searched his office,” Fred pointed out.  “Apparently you folks weren’t the only ones he was harassing.”

“They found enough to put him away for a long time.” said George.  “However, he won’t be on trial for a while.”  

“But his law practice is over,” Peter said.  “I don’t think that you’ll ever see him again.”

“That’s such sad news,” Sal said, and paused.  “Not!”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chapter Thirty-Five: Building Groovy House

They were back five days later.

The Trollwork Team made lots of apologies, claiming that they had been called away on an emergency repair job and they just didn't have a chance to get back to the folks at the commune about the situation.

But once they got themselves back to work, they went to work quickly.  Within a day, they had the basement foundation finished and soil bermed.  

Next the walls went up, using lumberplanking for the framework and making walls out of crammed dirt plastered with corn on the cob.  As they had promised, the crew used hay bucking to provide extra insulation to the exterior walls.  The walls looked thick, solid, and secure.

“This is incredible,” said Grace.  “I’ve never seen an actual house being built--and particularly using such alternative techniques.”

“I’ve seen some of this done at Squat Mountain,” Chuck said, “but we didn’t really know what we were doing.  These folks are amazing.”

“And fast,” Marge said.  “At this rate, they’ll have the whole house built by the end of the week.”

The house wasn’t finished by Friday afternoon, but it was close.

“About three more days,” Thistle said.  “I expect we’ll be putting on the finishing touches on Sunday, and have it all complete by this time on Monday.”

“Who owns all the property around here?” Sorrel asked Cat as they were finishing up the building work for the day.

“Well,” Cat replied, “one of our neighbors is a lawyer and a friend of ours. Then we have an older woman on the other side of us who basically keeps to herself.  We don’t see her very much.”

“Yeah,” said Grace, “and in back of us is a small dairy farm.  We get our milk from them.”

“And what about that house across the street from you?” asked Sowbug.

“Stay away from them,” Will said.  “They’re real bad news.”

“We heard,” said Sorrel.  “We were told that they were the cause of your problems.”

“Well, we can’t prove it,” Cat said.  “But you really don’t want to mess with them.”

“Okay team, let’s go,” Thistle said.  “We’ll be back tomorrow.”

She turned to Sorrel and Sowbug.  “You want to hang out with these folks, you can do it after the building’s done.  And the building will be done by Monday night if I have anything to say about it.”

“Yeah,” Earthworm said.  “Hopefully you can all come back on Tuesday and hang all you want. We should be all finished here.  Wednesday we start on our new project, if all goes well.  So let’s move now.”

“Hey,” Nancy said. “Tuesday we’re gonna have a party for all of you.”

“We’ll be glad to come,” Thistle said, “but I want to worry about completing  the work on your house first.  Then we can party.”


They held the party on Tuesday in the newly built house.

Everyone was admiring the beautiful structure and solid walls.

“This is gorgeous,” said Nancy.

“Notice how warm it is in here,”  Earthworm pointed out.  “You should be able to heat this house in the dead of winter with a dance party.”

“Great,” Sal said.  “Now we’re going to need to find members whose only job will be dancing all winter.”

“If you don’t want to keep people dancing,” Thistle replied, “you could heat this place with a hair dryer.”

“Do you know anyone who actually has a hair dryer?” Chuck asked.  “I didn’t even know anyone at Squat Mountain who had a hair dryer--and that place was full of hair and makeup queens.”

The Troll leaned back in corner, gazing over the gathering with a satisfied smile.

Luna approached him.  “Your folks did a good job,” she said.

“Yeah,” he said.  “They’re good workers.  I wouldn’t expect anything else.”

“Where are you off to next?”

“We got a job quite a bit south of here,” the Troll said.  “Almost down to the state line.  Some Bratty town folks want us to put up a new residence.”

Dan was nearby.  “Well,” he said.   “If you want a reference, we’ll give you a good one.”
“I told you they were good,” Ed said.

“Thanks,” Luna said.  “This new house is going to make a big deal of difference to the farm.”

“It’s the first thing that’s gone well in a couple of months,” said Viv.

“I hope this will start a trend,” said Cat.  “I’d like things to be easy for a while, again.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chapter Thirty-Four: The Trollwork Team Arrives

It was a week and a day later that the Trollwork team arrived.  They all had cute names like Dandelion, Purslane, Sowbug, Roly-poly, Sorrel, Thistle, Earthworm, and Nematode.  They seemed enthusiastic, young, sincere, lively, strong, eager, fit, multicultural, and enthusiastic.  

The Troll himself was a chubby, balding white guy with a Brooklyn accent.

He looked out the window at the twisted, blackened remains of the building and said, "Had a little fire, didja?"  

When the communards all grimaced, he smiled and added, "Not to worry.  We can tear this mother down and replace it with anything you'd like."

"Well, I know something we really wouldn't like," Sal said.

"I was thinking of something using crammed dirt, lumberplanking, and corn on the cob," Luna said. "I also wanna make sure it's sturdy and can take a lot of heavy use."

"And fire-proof," Ken added.

"Done, done, done," the Troll said.  "Let's get this baby in motion."

Earthworm and Thistle handed him some plans which he unrolled and motioned to the communards to look at.  

"I think this design here has all the features you want," the Troll said.

"Notice the extra supports in the walls and flooring,"  Earthworm pointed out.  "That makes it extra sturdy."

"It's also heavy on the crammed dirt and corn on the cob and fairly light on the lumberplanking," said Thistle.  "Which means there's little that can catch fire in this model."

"Also notice the quintuple paned windows and thermic bulk," Earthworm added. "This is a pacifist sunshine design that can heat your home from sunlight on a cold winter's day."

"And we do get cold winters here," Cat said.

"Wow," Viv said.  "It has everything we wanted."

"And more," added Marge.

"Do you think that you're the first ones who wanted those specifications?" Thistle asked.  "Sturdy and fireproof are common concerns--and we sort of had a guess on them after we heard you had a fire.  And crammed dirt and corn on the cob are more appropriate for this area than adobo."

Earthworm pointed to the exterior walls.  "We could add some hay buck construction here for extra insulation.  Add a log oven to the pacifist sunshine design and it's going to be quite a toasty place, even in frigid weather."

"And the lumberplanked eaves will give you lovely ventilation in the summer time," Thistle explained.

Luna looked at Ed who nodded at her.  She looked around at all the rapt faces of her comrades.  "Sold," she said.  "When can you start?"

"Would tomorrow be soon enough?" Thistle wondered.

Dan glanced over at the Troll who was sitting way back in his chair and grinning.  He grinned back.  "Sounds good to us."

The entire Trollwork crew let out a big cheer.

"We'rrrre rrrreadeeeee," yelled Dandelion.

"Uhn-huh," said Thistle.  She whistled and the whole team followed her out the door.

"Back in twenty-four," said Earthworm as he departed.

"What did you think?" The Troll asked.

"Scary," Sal said.  "But satisfying."

"I think you're just what we need," Luna said.

"You won't regret this," said the Troll.


The next morning the commune woke to the sounds of the burnt house disappearing.

"What time did they start?" Cat asked.

Will looked at his watch.  "I woke at three AM and I thought I heard work going on.  Their idea of starting first thing in the morning must have meant after midnight."

Sal walked in and grumped, "Back in twenty-four?  I don't think they waited ten..."

Dan looked out the window from the room they were all eating breakfast in.  "They're doing fast work.  Most of the old building is gone now."

The Trollwork Team tore and toiled, cleared and cleaned, all day long.  By the time the sun was getting ready to set there was only a large hole in the ground to mark where the old house had been.

Over the next two days, the team cleared the snow, the grass, and the brush around the entire area that had surrounded the structure, and did a lot of basic preparation on the site, including moving huge pieces of lumber in and expanding the size of the hole, and clearing away anything that would interfere with them bringing in even more supplies.

Finally, on the fourth day of work, The Troll showed up again and he and Thistle and Earthworm called the communards over to look at the site and make any last minute decisions before the actual building began.

"So here's the plan," Thistle said.  She pointed out an area marked with a stick on one side and an area marked with a stick on the other.  "The ground floor of the house will extend from there..." pointing, "to there..." and again pointing, "and will come from here..." and now pointing nearly down to where the hole began just in front of her feet, "all the way out to there."  And there was yet another stick nearly at the far side of the hole away from them.

Earthworm went on to say, "We plan to soil berm the basement and use hay buck construction on the exterior walls above it for maximum insulation."

Thistle pointed up in the air over where the building would be.  "This plan would give you a three story structure with a sloping front and skylights in the south for the pacifist sunshine.  The place will have an atrium, a patio, and a porch."

She looked around at all the fascinated faces. “Any problems with the plans?”

A few of the folks said quiet ‘no’s but most just shook their heads.

“Okay,” Thistle said. "So there's only one question left."

"What's that?"  Nancy asked.

"What do you want to call the place?"  Earthworm replied.

"How about Groovy House?" Sal said.  

Nancy gave her a look but Ken said, "Wow, yeah.  I like that."

"Me, too," said Chuck.

"Cool," said Grace.

Marge and Will were nodding.  Cat gave a slight grin.  Ralph and Ed were in the back, giggling.

Luna looked over at Will.  He shrugged.  She turned back to Thistle and Earthworm.

"Groovy House it is," she said.

"Okay," said Thistle.  "We'll be back tomorrow to start on the building."