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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chapter Seventy: Zelda’s Daughter

A week after Bill Schmitt visited the commune, Zelda’s daughter came by.  It wasn’t anywhere near as pleasant a visit.

“Where is she?” she said to Ken.

“Where is who?” Ken asked.

“That crazy old lady,” the woman said.  “I’ll take her off your hands.”

“Are you talking about Zelda?” Ken asked.

“Of course I’m talking about Zelda.  How many crazy old ladies do you have here?’

“You can’t take her,” Ken said.  “We love Zelda.”

The woman looked at Ken.  “Obviously there’s several crazy people here.”

Marge came in just then.

“What’s going on here?” she asked.

“She wants to take Zelda,” Ken said.

“You can’t do that,” Marge said.  “We love Zelda.  She’s like everyone’s favorite grandmother.”

“Okay,” the woman said. “So there’s a lot of crazy people here.  You still haven’t answered my question.  Where is she?”

“Who are you?” Marge asked.

“I’m her daughter.”

Marge and Ken stared at the woman for a moment before Sal came into the room.  And behind her...

“Yvonne!” yelled Zelda.  “They told me there was someone in here asking for me.  I should have known it was you.”

“Come on,” Yvonne said.  “We’re getting out of here.”

“I’m not going,” said Zelda.  “You can’t make me. They love me here.”

“I got that,” Yvonne said.  “But I’ve known you longer and know what a pain you really are.  I’m going to spare them before they learn it the hard way.’

“If Zelda doesn’t want to go,” Sal said, “you can’t make her.”

“Wanna bet?” Yvonne said.  “I’ll be back here and I’ll come back here with a lawyer.”  And with that she stormed off into the snow.


“She’s always been trouble,” Zelda said the next day.  “All my family’s a bit off but she’s the worse.  Except for her son, Alvin.  Let’s hope that Alvin doesn’t show up.”

“I thought you said that no one in your family ever thinks of you, except at the holidays,” said Nancy.

“I didn’t think anyone did,” Zelda said.  “I wonder how she found me here.”

“I don’t know,” said Ken.  “But you have another visitor.”

“Oh, no,” said Zelda.  “I hope it’s not Alvin.”

“Is Alvin in his forties?”  Ken asked.

“Oh, yes,” said Zelda.

“Then it’s not Alvin,” Ken said.  “This guy is about your age.”

“Oh, my, oh, my,” Zelda said, as the man walked in.  “It’s Theo!”

“Zelda, Zelda, Zelda,” Theo said.  “What’s all this about you making trouble for Yvonne?”

“I’m not making trouble for Yvonne,” Zelda said.  “She’s making trouble for me.  I just want to stay here at this commune.”

“Excuse me,” said Nancy.  “Who is this?”

“This,” said Zelda, “is my husband.  He left me years ago to live with a woman half his age, but we never bothered getting divorce.”

“Yes,” said Theo, “and Matilda sends her regards.”  He looked at Zelda carefully.  “You really want to stay here?”

“I really want to stay here,” Zelda said.

“I had to see for myself.  Okay, I know I owe you.  I’ll see what I can do about Yvonne.”

“She says she’s coming back with a lawyer.”

“I’ll talk with her,” Theo said.  “Sometimes her bark is worse than her overbite.”

“If worse comes to worse, we know a bunch of lawyers,” Nancy said.  “I don’t think there will be a real problem.”

“Yeah, but you don’t know Yvonne,” Zelda said.  “She holds a grudge.  You never know when she’ll suddenly decide to do something.  She’s not the most stable person I know.”

“Now, now,” Theo said.  “That’s no way to talk about our daughter.”

“It’s true, though,” Zelda said.

“Yeah, it’s true,” Theo admitted.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chapter Sixty-Nine: A Visitor with a Story

Ken sighed as he opened the door to an older man.

“Do you want to live here?” he asked as he showed the man in.

“Nope,” the man said.  “Done that.”

“Done what?” Ken looked confused.

“Lived here.  This was my place eight years ago and since it was a pretty boring day today, I thought I’d see who lives here now.”

“This was your place?” Ken asked.  “You owned it?”

“Yep.  That’s what I said.  I sold this place to a guy who wanted to develop it.”

“Oh, goodness.  So what happened to the guy you sold the place to?”

“The fool ran out of money,” the man sat down on one of the living room chairs.  “I heard some young woman bought the place for half of what I sold it for.  Stories I heard said she wanted to start a commune here.  Or maybe just a farm.”

“She did both,” Ken said.  “This place is a commune and a farm.”

Marge came in to see what Ken was up to.  

“Well, hello,” she said to the visitor. “What can we do for you?”

“Hello, yourself, young lady,” the man said.  Marge grinned.  It had been a while since anyone had called her a young lady.  “I was just explaining to this earnest lad here that I used to own this land.  I just came by to see who was living here now.”

“Oh, there’s a bunch of us here now,” Marge said.  “Do you want to meet the crew?  You could stay for dinner.”

“Dinner sounds lovely, but it will need to be another time.  I need to be headed home before dark and it gets dark pretty early these days.”  He paused and then leaned over toward Marge.  “What I’d really like to do is meet with the young woman who purchased the place.  Just so I know who owns the land nowadays.”

“I think that can be arranged,” Marge said.  “Let’s go over to the side house.”


Luna and Dan sat with the older gentleman in the parlor of the side house.

“What did you say your name was?” Luna asked.

“I didn’t,” said the man.  “No one has asked me my name yet.  It’s Bill Schmitt.  I live up in Browningsburg now, but I used to own this place.”

“What do you think of what we’ve done with the farm?” asked Dan.

“Don’t know, didn’t get to see much of it with the snow,” Bill Schmitt said.  

“Would you like to see it?” asked Luna.

“Sometime but today I’ve got to run soon.  I mostly wanted to see you.”  He paused.  “Would it be alright if I came back sometime and checked things out?  Maybe come back when the weather’s nicer?”

“Sure,” said Luna.  She held out her hand.  “My name is Luna Lagoon, by the way.  This is Dan.  He helped me start the place.”

“Lagoon, huh?” Bill Schmitt thought a moment.  “You wouldn’t know a Wilma Lagoon, would you?”

“That’s my father’s mother, my grandmother,” Luna said.  “Do you know her?  I think she lives close to Browningsburg, now that I think of it.”

“Small world, isn’t it?  She and I both go to the Ebenezer Non-denominational Zionist Church on Sunday and I often take her out for muffins afterwards.  She claimed that some of the pastries at the bakery came from her granddaughter’s farm.”

“Yeah, they might have,” Luna said.  “Some of our stuff has been bought by folks who resell them in their shops.  I hope you liked them.”

“They were darn good.”

“Hey, we can give you some cupcakes and fruit bread to take home with you,” Dan said.

“I’d be much obliged,” said Bill Schmitt.  “It’s great to see this farm flourishing.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chapter Sixty-Eight: Zelda!

Ken looked wistfully out the window at the snowy landscape. To his surprise, a chartreuse Saab had pulled up in the drive and an elderly woman was getting out.

He rushed out the door to help her across the slippery walk.

“Hi,” he said to her.  “Who are you here to visit?”

She looked right back at him.  “I’m not here to visit anyone.  I’m here to join the commune.”

Ken stopped right there at the doorway.  He looked at her, looked at their breath coming out in frosty puffs, and helped her inside.

Once Ken had the door shut, he asked, “You want to join the commune?”  His tone was skeptical to say the least.

“You bet,” the woman said.  “Back when I was thirty-three, let me see, that was in nineteen-sixty-six.   Anyway, there were suddenly all these communes everywhere.  I really wanted to join one but I had a husband and two kids and a job and I couldn’t.  I figured when the kids grew up, I could join a commune then.”

“But…” Ken started.

The woman paid no attention.  “Then when my kids grew up and my husband left, I started looking for communes.  Unfortunately, that’s when my kids started having kids and needed all this help and I was grandma, and there was no time to join a commune.”

“But…” Ken said again.

“But now I’m eighty-two years old,” she continued.  “And my kids are grandparents and no one ever thinks of me except at the holidays when they check the obituaries to see if they need to send me cards and I was in the bookstore and saw this book called ‘The New Commune Cookbook’ and it said there was a commune around here and I thought I’d come over here and join up.”

“But…” Ken said, but this time it was Nancy who interrupted him.  She had just come in and heard the last part of the monologue.

“Wait,” she said to Ken.  Nancy turned to the woman.  “Do you cook?”

“I’ve been cooking for fifty years.  I can cook anything.”

“Can you bake?” Nancy asked.

“Do Canadians like hockey?  Is the pope a Catholic?  Do bears…”

“Got it,” Nancy interrupted.

Dan was passing by with Luna.  “I don’t like hockey,” he said softly to her.

“I won’t tell anyone,” Luna told him.  “Hopefully if they don’t find out, they won’t take away your citizenship.”

Nancy walked the woman into the kitchen.  “Are you willing to try to bake this bread?” she asked pointing to a recipe in the cookbook.  “I’ll get you whatever you need.”

“Let me at it,” the woman said.


The bread looked a little bit odd when it came out of the oven but Nancy was quite surprised when she tried a slice.

“Whoa,” said Nancy.  “This is tastes better than it does when I make it, and I make it pretty darned good.”

“I thought adding mustard and lemongrass would give it a little zow…” said the woman.  “I like to experiment while I cook.”

“So, you really want to live here?”

“Absolutely.  Like right now.  That’s exactly why I came.”

“Well, you’re in,” Nancy said.  “What’s your name?”

“Zelda,” said Zelda.  “Where can I put my stuff?”

“We’ve got one room left in Harmony House.  I guess it’s yours.”

They went out to the Saab and pulled out several suitcases.  Ken helped and with three of them struggling, they were able to carry everything in one load. Fortunately the walk was well shoveled and they had no trouble getting the stuff out to Harmony House.

“Like I said, I came here to join you,” Zelda said as they were walking.  “I just knew I had to be here.  I really wanted to live in a commune and your place was the only place for miles.  I didn’t have a plan B to fall back on.”

In Harmony House they passed Darren reading in the living room, sitting with his leg up wrapped in a big cast.

He waved at them.

“What happened to him?” Zelda asked.

“That was our last baker,” Ken said.  “He had a little accident.”

“Pay attention to where you walk on the kitchen floor,” Nancy said.  “And don’t move around too fast.”

“I’ll remember that,” Zelda said.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chapter Sixty-Seven: Whooops

It was a week into the new year.  

Birch was gone.  (“But I’ll be coming back to stay this year,” he said as he left.)

Stan was gone.  (“Can we find some way of keeping him out permanently?” Sal asked.)

Peter and George and Fred were all gone, presumably off doing lawyerly things.

And the Troll was also gone, taking Purslane and Roly-poly and Thistle and Nematode off with him.

“Sure is quiet,” Ken said.

“It’s winter,” Marge said.  “It’s supposed to be quiet.  Besides, I like it quiet.”

“Me, too,” said Grace.  “Now we can get some things done.”

And, in fact, around the commune, things were getting done.

Luna and Viv and Chuck and Patsy and Strange Brew were in the EcoGreenHouse planning the commune’s crops for the next year.  

Dan and Sal were meeting with Sowbug and Dandelion and Sorrel and Earthworm and Lois and Mo, and they were all talking about winter repair work and all types of building plans for the spring.  

Cat and Blue Sky were in the produce stand selling every vegetable that could survive the cold.  Paul G was helping by running between the stand and the EcoGreenHouse transporting winter crops with occasional side trips to the kitchen for snacking.  

Nancy and Will were holding down the fort at the pastry stand while Darren was preparing dinner for everyone.  The whole commune was hard at work.

It was a busy, productive beginning to what everyone was hoping would be a busy productive year.  It was hard not to be excited about what they might accomplish.

“And I’m expecting more folks to join us this year,” Luna said.

“Where will we fit them all?”  Viv asked.

“I think that’s what the construction crew are talking about,” Luna said.

And, indeed, Sal and Dan were outlining their plans to expand to all the building and repair folks.

“We’ll need space for more folks by spring,” Sal said. “Fortunately, we still have room for another person or two here now.”

“Are we expecting anyone?” Lois asked.

“You never know what’s going to happen here,” Dan said.


In the main kitchen, Darren was working on dinner and testing the flavors.  “Still needs something,” he muttered.  “Maybe I should drizzle it with EVOO.”

He went rummaging through a cabinet in pantry until he found the olive oil  He sprinkled it everywhere, perhaps just a little too enthusiastically.  When he was done, there was oil on the dinner, oil on the table, and oil on the floor.  “I’d better clean it up,” he said and started searching for a towel.

Will came rushing in the kitchen.  “The rolls!” he said, running to the oven. He pulled the sheet of rolls out.  “Just in time,” he said.

Then he turned, maybe a little too quickly, still holding the sheet of rolls.  His feet hit the patch of oil on the floor.  Both feet went into the air and rolls scattered everywhere.  “Whooops,” Will screeched.  He came down rather hard.

“Oh my,” Darren said, looking at the mess.  “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t worry,” Will said from where he was lying on the floor.  “I’m sure I’m fine.”

He tried to stand up.  When his legs wouldn’t hold him, he sank back to the floor.  “I guess I’m not fine.  I think you’d better call somebody.  And you probably need to pick up those rolls.”

Paul G walked into the kitchen just in time to catch Will trying to stand.  He sighed.  “Don’t move.  It isn’t worth it.  Believe me.  I know just how you feel.  You look just like I felt this summer.  I’ll call the hospital.”

“Can you help me get him to a chair?” Darren asked.

“No,” Paul G said.  “Don’t move him.  We’re going to need to keep him where he is until the ambulance crew arrives.”

He went over to the phone and made the call whiles Darren picked up the rolls.

“I don’t think you’ll be doing much baking for quite a while,” Paul G said to Will when he got off the phone.  “Think of it as a little vacation.”

“Nancy is going to hate this,” Will said.