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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chapter Sixty-Six: A New Year is Coming

They started coming back the day after Christmas.

Viv and Marge returned first.

“Thank you again for coming with me,” Marge said to Viv as they walked in through the door of Groovy House.

“I’m glad to do it,” said Viv.

“Maybe next year we can get my sister to join us and we can do Christmas here,” said Marge.

“I’m just glad that we’ll be here to welcome in the New Year,” Viv said.

The next day Paul G returned, as did Ken.  Strange Brew returned the day after.

Two days before New Year’s Eve, the entire Trollwork team appeared amass, bringing Lois and Mo back with them.

“Where did you all go?” Luna asked.

“I own a place well to the north of here, hidden in the mountains,” said the Troll.  “Our team has always gone there for Christmas.”

“It’s really spectacular there,” Mo said.

“Well, you missed a great Christmas here,” Nancy said.

“It certainly was,” said Blue Sky.

“Anyway,” Nancy said.  “At least you’ll be here for the New Year.”

“All of us,” said the Troll, “if that’s okay with you.”

“Hey,” said Nancy.  “The more we have, the merrier it will be.”

Chuck and Darren arrived back the next day.  They were both in very festive moods.

Chuck twirled around in his emerald and crimson gown.  “I’m down for this new year,” he said.  “I know it’s going to be great.”

“I don’t know what it will be,” Darren said, “but I mostly hope we have less drama in the new year.”


At eleven forty-five, on New Year’s Eve,  Darren made it an official toast.  “May the year to come have much less drama than the past two years.”

“Aww, what fun is that?” asked Mo.

“You wouldn’t ask that if you’d been here the past two years,” Sal said.  “I’m surprised that this place survived it all. I think Luna and Dan must have nerves of steel.”

“I will wish that the upcoming year is productive and fun and everyone is healthy,” said Nancy.

“Amen,” said Cat.

The Groovy House door opened and Peter, George, and Fred came trooping in carrying a bunch of bottles.

“Sorry for the last minute arrival,” Peter said, “but there’s not very much in the way of New Year’s festivities in this town.”

“You know that you’re always welcome here,” Viv said.

“We were just making pre-midnight toasts,” said Marge.

“I have one, then,” said Fred.  “May we never see or hear from the Reagons again.”

“I’ll second that,” said Paul G.

“May our new house keep us well and warm,” said Blue Sky.

“It better,” said the Troll, looking at Sowbug and Dandelion and Sorrel and Earthworm.

“We’ll make sure of that,” Lois said.

“May all the new people we get be wonderful and helpful,” said Patsy.

“May this year bring us lots and lots and lots of good stuff,” said Grace.

“May all the animals stay safe through the winter,” said Strange Brew.

“I don’t know what to wish for,” Luna said.  “It’s just so great being with all of you.  I’m just going to wish us all a lovely year together.”

The clock was nearing midnight but the door opened again to let in two more folks.

“I had to come back again to start the new year with all of you,” Birch said.  “And I picked this guy up along the way.  He said he knew you.”

“Happy New Year!!!” yelled Stan.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chapter Sixty-Five: Yule Be Happy

Nine communards stood in a circle around a towering hemlock, the tallest evergreen on the commune’s property.  

“Can you explain what we’re doing again?” asked Patsy.

“Okay,” said Marge.  “Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year.  For pagan folk like me, this is the yule.  While many witches and pagans think the new year is at Samhain…”

“Wait,” said Paul G.  “What’s sow-win?”

“That’s Marge’s idea of Halloween,” Ken said.  “I learned that last year.”
“Halloween is what happened after the Christians stole the pagan’s beliefs,” Marge said.  “We called it Samhain and for many folk it’s the beginning of the new year.  However, some pagans like me think that Yule or the winter solstice is the start of new year, since the days start getting longer after this.  Anyway, we’re out here to celebrate the solstice.”

“Can we get started?” asked Cat.  “I’m cold.”

“I’m colder,” said Chuck, who was wearing a short sapphire skirt.

“Okay,” Marge said.  “Let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Light is coming back’.”

Dutifully the nine communards sang: “Light is coming back,
It can’t stay away too long,
No one can keep away,
The morn.”

They circled around the tree and chanted and sang for over an hour.  Finally they raised their hands and claimed: “This circle is open and broken and done with.  Happy together, happy alone, and happy inside.  Thank goodness!”

Afterwards, Patsy asked Marge, “Did the Christians really steal Christmas from the pagans?  Are you sure?”

“Let me ask you this,” Marge said.  “Why do we celebrate the birth of a child by bringing in pine trees and holly and ivy and mistletoe and everything that’s green in the winter?  Why do we light candles and have fires in fireplaces?

“Okay,” Patsy said.  “Why?”

“Because in the deepest winter, we need to remember that there’s still life and in the dark and cold we need to remember that there’s still light and heat, and that really doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas.”

“Wow,” Patsy said.

Afterwards, Luna said, “Be gentle with her, Marge.  You’re shaking her beliefs.”

“Wait until she finds out what the word Easter really means,” Marge said.


“It looks beautiful out there,” Nancy said on Christmas morning.  “Just look at the sun glistening on the snow.”

She and Sal and Luna and Dan and Cat and Blue Sky and Patsy all sat around the yuletide tree.  The Trollwork crew had gone off on a ‘secret winter expedition’ and taken Lois and Mo with them.  Marge and Viv had gone to be with Marge’s sister--again this year--and Ken had gone off to be with his family.  Darren and Chuck were off at a holiday faerie gathering and Strange Brew had simply disappeared, as had Paul G.  And Grace and Will had headed south for the holidays.

It was a small intimate little Christmas at the commune and all seemed peaceful.  At least until the doorbell started ringing.

This year, Amanda and Steve were the first guests.

“This is our second Christmas smoke free,” Amanda said. “And we’re loving it.”

“And each other,” added Steve.

Ralph and Ed were next, bringing many bottles of cheer.  “Eggnog for everyone,” Ed said.

“And presents,” Ralph added, as he brought in a bunch of boxes.

Peter came next, followed by Luna’s mother.

When the doorbell rang again, everyone looked at one another.

“George and Fred are out of town, so I know it’s not them,” Peter said.

“Are we expecting anyone else?” asked Sal.

“Not that I know of,” said Dan.

“Well, open the door,” yelled Luna.

Blue Sky opened it and was very surprised to see Birch standing there.

“Can I come in?” he asked.

“Sure,” said Blue Sky.

Everyone stared at Birch.  “My mother was being a total platypus,” he said.  “I had to get out of there.  Besides, I really wanted to see everyone again.  I told her I was off to visit friends and I think it’s true.”

“Of course it’s true,” said Nancy.  “Welcome and Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas!” came cries from around the room.

While the feast on the table was not as large as the one at Thanksgiving, there was ample food for everyone there.

Ed and Ralph passed out presents just before people sat down and there was one for everyone there--including Birch.

“How did you know?” Luna asked Ralph.

“Easy,” Ralph said.  “I found out how many people were expected and then added one for the unexpected guest.”

The gifts were small and cute and funny and everyone enjoyed them, just as everyone enjoyed the feast that followed.

At the end of it all, Luna sighed.  She looked around the room and said, “All of you are my best present.  This place is so wonderful.  What more can I say?  I feel blessed.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chapter Sixty-four: The New House

“We’re done,” Lois said.

“We’re done!” Sowbug shouted.

“We’re done,” Sorrel said.

The six workers stood and stared at what they built.

“That’s it,” Dandelion said.  “There’s nothing else left to do.”

“Yes, there is,” Mo said.  “We still need to show the rest of the commune this wonderful new building.”

“And I think that it’s done just in time,” said Earthworm.  “I hear that it’s supposed to snow on Friday.”

“This is great,” said Sorrel.  “Now we can all move out of our tents and into this nice warm house.”

“So when do we announce it to everyone?” Lois asked.

“We can let everybody know at the house meeting tomorrow,” Dandelion said.  “It’s our Christmas present to the commune.”

“It’s our Hanukkah present,” Lois said.

“It’s our Solstice present,” said Earthworm.

“It’s our New Year’s present,” said Sowbug.

“No, wait,” Sorrel said.  “There really is one more thing we need to do.”

“What’s that?” several people asked at once.

“We need to name the house,” Sorrel said.

“We can do that at the house meeting,” said Sowbug.


“We’re done,” Mo said.

“We’re done,” Dandelion said.

“We’re done,” Earthworm said.  “Now you should go over and see it.”

“The six of us have actually moved over our stuff,” said Sowbug.

“Yeah,” said Lois.  “It’s time for all of you to get out of your tents and move on in.  I hear that it’s gonna snow on Friday.”

“So, what’s the name of our new house?” asked Chuck.

“That’s up to all of you,” Sorrel said.  “What do you want to call it?”

“Now that Dick and Don are gone, I want to call it Harmony House,” Cat said.

“Yeah,” said Blue Sky.  “I like that!”

Several other people started to speak but Patsy, who was running the meeting, stood up and cut them off.

“Okay,” she said, “we have a proposal.  All in favor?”

There were loud cheers and lots of hands waving.

“Wait,” she said.  “Opposed?”

There was a moment of silence before she said, “Well, I guess it’s officially Harmony House.  Great work, team!”

Folks in the meeting started hugging the workers.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Patsy said.  “We still have four more items on the agenda.”

“Look out the window,” Ken said. “There’s snow falling.”

By the lights from the windows in the next building, a few flakes could be seen coming down.

“It’s not supposed to snow tonight,” said Sal.

“I’m moving my stuff in as soon as the meeting’s over,” said Paul G.

“Well, let’s get back to business so we can get this meeting over,” said Patsy.  “So, next item.  Luna wants to talk about the holidays.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chapter Sixty-Three: Candles and Blessings

“Okay,” Nancy said to Sal.  “This year, can we just celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas without any political discussions or problems with the greenery?”

“Fine with me,” Sal said.  “I didn’t even mention the problems with the pilgrims at Thanksgiving.  I’ve mellowed.”

Nancy kissed her forehead.  “Yes,” she said.  “You have.  I’m glad it’s going to be a peaceful season.”

Marge was passing by and heard them. “Oh, good.  I was just about to start putting up evergreens for the solstice and Christmas.  And I know where the menorah from last year is.  I’ll put it in the window today.”

Marge was as good as her word.  By the end of the day, there was greenery everywhere and the commune’s menorah was in the front window of Groovy House.

Most of the communards were happy to see the seasonal decorations.

But not everyone.

“OMZ,” Lois said when she saw it all.  “They’ve gone crazy with ideological correctness.”

“Calm down,” Mo said.  “They’re just getting into the spirit of the season.”

“Right,” Lois said.  “Sure.  You’re just like everyone else.  Everybody’s got to go out of their way to accommodate everybody.”

“Stop it, Lois,” Mo said.  “You’re starting to sound like a bigot.”

“I won’t stop it.  It drives me crazy.  We’ve got to placate this person and then placate that person and then placate everybody.”

“Lois, stop.  That’s what communal living is all about.”

“I know, I know.  But I don’t have to like it.”

“You told me you like it here,” Mo said.  “Do you want to get the kind of reputation we’re hearing about Dick and Don?  They could ask us to leave.”

“Alright, alright,” Lois said.  “I won’t say anything.”

Luna and Dan were in the next room and overheard the whole thing.  

Luna made sure that Lois and Mo were out of earshot.

“Is this going to happen every year?” she asked.

“Probably,” Dan said.  “And possibly with someone new each year.  This is just one of the joys of communal living.”


On the first night of Hanukkah, the communards lit just one candle.  At least they lit just one candle after they lit the shamash candle.

“This is the shamash candle,” Marge said.  “It doesn’t count.  Let’s say the blessings together and we’ll light the first candle.”

They all sang the blessings in Hebrew even though several of the singers were tripping over the words.

“This isn’t exactly the traditional blessings,” Sal said.  “We have sort of a feminine version of them that we do here.  We use Shekinah to describe that which dwells within and Ruah for the breath or spirit rather than using words like king or queen.”

“I don’t see why we do it at all,” Lois said.  Mo glared at her but didn’t say anything.

“For one thing,” Marge said.  “It’s a way to make a statement.  That light in the window has sustained Jews through persecutions and pogroms through the centuries.”

“I heard a story about a Jewish family living in a small town in the midwest,” Nancy said.  “They were the only Jewish folks in an otherwise Christian community.  One night, as the menorah burned in their front window, someone threw a rock through it.”

“Wow,” said Ken.  “Did they find out who did it?”

“Not that I know of,” said Nancy.  “But something interesting happened.  Their Christian neighbors were outraged.  Within two days, there were homemade menorahs burning in most of the windows in town.”

“That’s a statement,” said Sal.

“Yeah,” said Luna.  “And in this commune we try to support everybody, Jewish, Christian, Pagan, or agnostic.”

“Absolutely,” Marge said.  “I think diversity is wonderful.”  She looked over at Lois.  “Don’t you agree?”

“I guess so,” Lois said.  “I’m sorry.  I’m afraid that I’m just not used to people really being so sincere about it.”

“Get used to it,” Sal said.  “You’re living communally now.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Chapter Sixty-Two: The New Cookbook

By the end of the next week, the outside of the new building was up: walls, floors, roof, and insulation.

It looked great.  It looked like it was almost finished.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  It still needed plumbing, electrical work, and a lot of inside construction.

“I’d say we have another two weeks of work,” Sowbug said.  “At least.”

“Yeah,” Dandelion said.  “A lot of plastering and mudding.  I know you two know the drill,” indicating Earthworm and Sorrel.  “How much finishing have either of you done?”

“Quite a bit, actually,” said Lois.  “We’ve completed a bunch of houses at this point.”

“Enough to know this isn’t quite the halfway mark,” Mo said.

“As long as you know,” Sowbug said.  “Having said that, I think we’re doing really well.”

“I think we’re a pretty good team,” Sorrel said.

“Absolutely,” said Dandelion.  “A lot better than the last crew we had.”

“Not hard workers?” asked Mo.

“No, they were very hard workers,” said Sowbug.  “The problem was they were hard on everybody.”

“We should clean up and get ready for dinner,” Dandelion said.

Neither Dandelion or Sowbug had talked much about Don and Dick.  They decided they’d rather forget all that and concentrate on the good work that was happening now.  Nevertheless, the new crew quickly figured out there was something wrong with their predecessors.

As the team headed toward the main house, they noticed a truck pulled up by it with a lot of boxes coming from it.  Each of them quickly realized that it wasn’t construction materials since all the boxes were fairly small, all of them were the same size, and all of them seemed rather heavy from the reactions of those carrying them.  The quick consensus was that they either contained bricks or books.

And in this case, they contained books. Cookbooks.


“Look at it!” Nancy said to Marge, waving one of cookbooks at her.  “These look great!”

Marge was flipping through another copy.  “They do look good.”

“The first edition looked good,” Nancy said.  “I think this edition looks even better.”

“Well, we’ve got thirty boxes,” Marge said.  “And the book is so much bigger.  I hope it sells well.”

“I’m sure it will,” said Nancy.

Cat came by, took one look at the books and the boxes, and picked one up to flip through.  “Hey, this looks really good.  I’ll bet we sell a lot of these.”

Nancy looked at Marge.  “What did I say?”

The next morning, Nancy, Dan, and Sal lugged ten of the boxes to the produce stand and ten of the boxes to the bread and pastry stand.  Nancy carefully set up displays of the books in each of the stands.

She also called the Statewide Bookstore and convinced them to come and buy five boxes.

“It wasn’t hard,” she said to Dan.  “Considering that they’ve already sold four boxes.  This is now an established product and this new edition is so much better.”

“Well,” said Dan. “Let’s see how it does.”

By the end of the day, it was apparent it was going to sell well.  Customers were excited to see the new edition and even more excited by all the new stuff inside.

“Wow,” one woman said.  “This is like a whole new book.  You’re old book has been my go to cookbook for the last six months but I think it’s going to be replaced.”
By the end of the week, each of the stands had sold almost two boxes, or nearly four boxes total.

“Not too bad,” Dan said to Luna.  “Of course this was the first week.  I imagine things will slow up from here.”

“I doubt it,” Luna said.  “It’s the holiday season.  This is when everybody cooks.  The books should sell like crazy until the new year.”