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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chapter Ninety-Two: The Truth about Winter

Marge liked the weekly shopping trips.  Not the ones where they all shopped for food for the commune, but the one each week where she walked to the general store, a couple of miles down the road, and bought the various stuff the communards wanted for their snacks and recreation.  She bought lots of candy bars and beer and several types of vitamin pills.  She also bought fashion magazines for several of the women--and Chuck as well.

As she was looking through the magazines she spotted several that were trying to appeal to the adolescent set.  Prominently displayed was the latest issue of Angsty Teen Magazine featuring one of the newest TV idols on the cover.  The headline read, “Where is Jason Summer?”  

For some reason, Marge was drawn to the magazine and skimmed through the lead article. It seemed that star on the cover had walked off the set of the soap opera he was in and hadn’t been seen since.  His fans were very distraught.

Marge kept looking at the cover.  The guy’s face looked very familiar.  He was wearing an outfit that made him look both macho and fragile and he had short, styled hair and a well trimmed beard, but the more Marge looked at the picture, the more she thought it looked like the new guy at the commune who had long, flowing garb and long, flowing hair.

She bought a copy of Angsty Teen Magazine along with the usual fashion magazines and candy and beer, but she didn’t show it to anyone.  She hid it in her room and spent a long time reading and re-reading the article on the missing Jason Summer.

Marge didn’t like to do anything quickly.  She spent the night thinking about it and waited until the next day to go looking for Winter.  She saw him at breakfast and asked if she could meet with him privately at his convenience.  He agreed to meet with her after lunch.

Marge was usually on top of things and took charge of organizing the cleaning and housework. But when Marge assembled the team that morning, she was a bit off her game. Grace noticed Marge looked distracted and was a little concerned.

“Is there anything wrong?” she asked Marge.

“No, no,” Marge said.  “I’ve just got some things on my mind.  Hopefully I’ll feel much better this afternoon.”


“I was at the store yesterday, when I saw this,” Marge said to Winter when they were alone in one of the unused rooms in Siberia House.  She passed the magazine over to him.

“Drat,” he said.  “There’s no escape.”

“What do you mean?”

“I came here because I just got sick of it.  I couldn’t go anywhere without all the kids mobbing me, wanting my autograph, wanting a lock of my hair, wanting part of my life.  I didn’t have any privacy and then this director wants me to be kissy face with some icy cold starlet who wouldn’t even talk to me off of the set.  I had it.  I just had it.

“I wanted to get as far away from the Golden State as I could get.  I figured no one would have heard of me in a commune in the Green Mountains.  I mean you folks don’t even have a television set. Do you?”

“Not that I know about,” Marge said.  “We’ve got too much to do to spend our time watching television.  Especially soap operas.  They’re on during the day, aren’t they?”

“Yeah,” said Winter.  “Some of my biggest fans were bored housewives.  Between the anxious adolescents and the suburban soccer moms, I couldn’t get any peace.  I didn’t have a life.  And now look.  I’m working on mushrooms with Birch and Patsy, and growing herbs in the Ecogreenhouse with Luna and Viv, and comparing dresses with Chuck, and having fun, and nobody knows that I’m anything but Winter, another guy at the commune.

“I love it.”

“I’m glad you’re really enjoying it here,” Marge said.

“Please don’t spoil it,” said Winter.  “Please don’t tell anyone who I am.  I know that they won’t care but I don’t even want anybody to know.  I just want to forget that life.  Please?”

“I won’t tell anyone,” Marge said and handed her copy of Angsty Teen Magazine to Jason.  “Here. Take it.  Get rid of it.  It will be our secret.”

“Thank you,” Winter said.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chapter Ninety-One: Catastrophic Cataclysm

It was a warm summer day when the truce was finally broken and it was a can of tuna fish that did it.

Strange Brew found the can, unopened, by the side of the road.  Sally was nearby.

“Poor little fishies,” Sally said.  “All torn up and put in a can.”  She bowed her head prayerfully as she thought of the demise of the tuna.

“Nothing that we can do about it now,” Strange Brew said to her.  “We might as well just feed it to Inky.  I’m sure that he’ll enjoy it.”

Strange Brew opened the can when they got back to the farm and put it in a bowl outside Harmony House.  Inky was in the back fields annoying the goats but he smelled the tuna right away and trotted to the house.

Carrie also smelled the tuna.  She was hanging out in the sun a little past Groovy House.  While the can of tuna was clearly in Inky’s territory, it wasn’t far from hers and she was very annoyed that those people were feeding him this lovely stuff and not her.  She wanted her share.

Carrie quietly crept to where she could see Inky devouring the tuna fish.  He looked like a very happy kitty.

She slunk behind a tree close to the dish and made ready to pounce.

As silent as Carrie was, Inky must have heard something.  He lifted his head and cocked his ear.  Carrie froze in place.

Inky waited and listened.  When he was satisfied that whatever he heard was nothing, he went back to eating.

That’s when Carrie made her move.  She sprung with a powerful leap and landed right on Inky as he was chowing down.

At that point, the fur, literally, flew.


“Gotcha,” Viv said, pulling Carrie out of the fray.  “Bad cat.  Attacking Inky is not a good way to get yourself tuna fish.”

Strange Brew had Inky.  “I’m so sorry.  I should have realized that this would happen.  Don’t blame the cats.  This is my fault.”

“Okay,” said Viv.  Carrie was limp in her grasp.  “You could have done better but don’t take all of the blame.  I think that these two were spoiling for a fight.”

Strange Brew looked at Inky.  “How can I get you to share stuff with Carrie?  That’s what this commune is all about: sharing.”

Viv laughed.  “I’m not even sure all the humans here are that good at sharing,” she said.

Sally came by at that moment.  “Bad karma,” she said.  “I knew that fishies in a can were bad karma.  Now it’s affected the poor little kitties.”
“Those poor little kitties really wanted those fishies,” Viv said.  “So how can we do it?  How can we teach the kitty cats and all the people here how to share?”

Strange Brew looked at Inky.  “Will you let Miss Carrie have some of your tuna?”  

Inky looked the ground.  “Mewwww,” he said.

“Well, that’s a start,” Strange Brew laughed.

Viv looked at Carrie.  “Will you share with Inky?” she asked the cat.

Carrie looked away for a moment and then looked right at Viv.  “Meowowow,” said Carrie.

“Okay,” Viv said.  “Now share the tuna like good communal cats.”

The two cats slowly went up to the bowl.  Each took a side and ate from it, being careful not to bump into the other.

“Now,” Viv said.  “Do you think we could do this with Sal and Dan?”

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chapter Ninety: Zelda’s New Romance

“Who was that woman I saw you with?”  Darren asked Zelda as they were working together in the kitchen.

“That was Matilda,” Zelda said.  “That’s my husband’s girlfriend.”

“Wow, you lead an interesting life,” Darren said.

“Not as interesting as I’d like,” said Zelda.

“I thought that maybe you were involved with her,” said Darren.

“Now that would be interesting,” Zelda said.  “Never tried that before.  How are things with you and Chuck?”

“Oh, Chuck’s still a lot of fun,”  Darren said.

“I noticed him hanging out a bit with Winter.”

“Yeah.  They like to compare dresses.”

“Don’t you get jealous?”

“Nah.  He and I see other people all the time.  In fact, Winter and I are spending the night together tomorrow night.”

Zelda looked wistful.  “I wish I had someone to spend the night with.”

Darren put down his pastry cutter and put his hand on her shoulder.  “Oh, Zelda.  Don’t worry, my dear.  Love has a way of sneaking into your life when you least expect it.”

“Oh, I’m too old for that now, I think.”

“No, no, no.  You’re never too old for a new love.”


“Wow,” said Bob.  “This is a great pie.  Did you make it, Nancy?”

“Nope,” said Nancy.  “This is a Zelda special.”

“Boy, that woman can bake,” Bob said.

“She’s over there,” Nancy said.  “You should tell her yourself.”

Bob sat and thought for a few minutes.  Slowly he got up and walked over to where Zelda was talking with Earthworm and Angel.

“Excuse me, folks,” he said.  “Zelda, when you’re done with your conversation, can I talk with you outside?”

A few minutes later, Zelda found Bob sitting on a bench near Harmony House.  She sat down next to him.

“What’s up?” she asked.

Bob looked at her for a bit.  “So, are you involved with anyone?” he asked.

“I could be,” she said.

“You could be what?”

“I could be involved with you, if you were interested.”

“You make the best pie I’ve ever tasted.”  He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.  After a moment, he asked her shyly,  “Was that okay?”

“Okay?” Zelda echoed.  She shook her head. “More than okay.  I want you to kiss me on the other cheek now.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Chapter Eighty-Nine: Feline Purrsuasion

As Wednesday night rolled around again, the issue of the two cats came up again in the Commune Meeting.  Partly it happened because Carrie and Inky were both at the meeting.

Winter was petting Inky, who had grown quite a bit in the past few weeks.  Carrie had been sitting quietly in Viv’s lap when she jumped up and strolled over to where Inky was.

Dan had been trying to work through a specific issue with Sal with the group’s help but when Carrie began to rub against Winter’s legs, the whole commune’s attention was diverted. As Inky leapt down and faced Carrie, everyone began focusing on the cats.

Carrie hissed at Inky.  Strange Brew, who was facilitating, said, “Wait a minute.  You aren’t allowed to call anyone names in the meeting.”

Carrie sat back and looked at Strange Brew.  Inky gazed around at the assembled commune.

“Do I have to remind you what the rules are here?” Strange Brew asked.  “You need to take turns and explain yourselves.  Carrie, you seem to be having some difficulty with Inky.  Is that correct?”

Carrie tilted her head.  “I’ll take that as a yes,” Strange Brew said.  “I know you were the cat that was here first.”  At that Carrie sat up straight and proud.

“Inky,” Strange Brew said and Inky seemed to acknowledge his name by looking straight at Strange Brew.  “You want to live here also.”  Inky purred.  

“Okay,” Strange Brew said.  “Carrie, are you willing to live peacefully here with Inky?”  Carrie stopped looking at Strange Brew and began looking at the door.  “I will take that as a no.  Can you think of a way that can change?”  Carrie continued to look at the door.  “Would you like Inky to leave?”  Carrie immediately turned back to Strange Brew and mewed.  

“No, no, no,” Strange Brew said.  “Pleading won’t help.   What about if you stayed on one side of the community and Inky stayed on the other and neither of you interacted?”  Carrie cocked her head to one side and seemed to consider this.  “While you’re thinking about this, Inky, what do you think about each of you taking a side of the community?”  Inky also cocked his head and looked at Strange Brew.  “Okay, maybe we can work this out.”

“Can I help here?”  Marge asked.

“Sure,” said Strange Brew.

Marge turned to Carrie.  “You’ve been here a long time.  I know that you like to hang out in the side house and in Groovy House.  Are you willing to mostly stay around there?”  Carrie looked at Marge.  She lay down and purred.  “Okay, Inky, you’re new here.  I’ve seen you hanging out with some of the newer folks.  How about you hang out more at Harmony House?”  Inky cocked his head and looked at her.  “Alright, you can also wander around the back fields and hang out with the goats.” Inky lay down and purred.

“Okay,” Strange Brew said.  “I think we have an agreement here.  Now let’s get back to working things out with Sal and Dan.”


“That was amazing,” Cat said to Luna after the meeting was over.  “It was great how Strange Brew and Marge were able to get the two cats to work things out.”

“Absolutely,” Luna agreed.  “I wish we could do things like that more often.”

“You know,”  Cat said.  “We could do something similar to what Carrie and Inky agreed to with the two Humbugs.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Luna said.  “Let me talk with them.”

Strange Brew wasn’t far away, talking with Marge and Viv.  Cat and Luna walked over and joined them.

“It was not a problem,” Strange Brew was saying.  “Both cats were very cooperative.  It was just a matter of trying to figure out how to get everyone’s needs met.”

“I still think that you and Marge were brilliant,” Viv said.

“Thank you,” Marge said.  “But I agree with Strange Brew.  We couldn’t have done it if the cats hadn’t cooperated.”

“Well, I was impressed,” said Luna.

“Me, too,” said Cat.

“Thank you both,” Strange Brew said.

“I do have a question, however,” Luna said.

“Yes?”  said Marge.

“If you could get Carrie and Inky to come to agreement, why couldn’t you do it with Dan and Sal?”

“I don’t know,” Strange Brew said.  “Sometimes cats are easier to herd than people.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Chapter Eighty-Eight: Siberia House

“Okay,” Sowbug said.  “Done.  Done, done, done.”

“I think it looks great,” Lois said.  “And I still wouldn’t want to live there.”

“Amazing house,” added Dandelion.  “Bad location.”

“I’m sure somebody will be willing to live here,” Mo said.

“Yeah,” said Earthworm. “Somebody.”

Sal and Dan were at the other side of the house.

“That last piece should be over here,” Dan said.

“Nonsense,” Sal said.  “The last piece should be over there.”

Neither of them noticed that the workers all quietly left, ignoring Dan and Sal.

“I suppose if someone wanted to live at the commune desperately enough, it wouldn’t be such a bad place,” Sorrel said.

“I suppose not,” said Sowbug.  “I guess there will be some folks willing to live in Siberia.”

“Yup,” Lois said.  “Siberia.  Well named.”


“We are not calling it Siberia House,” said Sal at the Wednesday Commune Meeting.

“For once we agree on something,” Dan said.  “I don’t want it called Siberia House either.”

“Well,” said Patsy, who was facilitating the meeting, “we make decisions by concentrating, so we can’t decide on anything unless everyone agrees.  It seems like most people want to call it Siberia House.  What do you propose?”

“I think we should name it after Luna, who started this commune,” said Dan.

“Absolutely not,” said Sal.  “As much as I love Luna, I don’t think we should name our houses after people who live here.”

“Oh, my,” said Luna.  “I totally agree with that.   I don’t want a house named after me.  It’s like I was dead or something.”

“Okay, Sal,” Patsy said.  “What do you think the house should be called?”

“I think we should call it Together House, since we built it together and we’ll be living in it together.”

“I won’t be living in it,” Mo whispered.

“Shh,” said Lois.

“That’s the silliest name I ever heard,” Dan said.  “We can’t call it Together House.  That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Neither does naming the house after Luna,” Sal said.

“It makes more sense than Together House,” said Dan.

“Does not!”

“Does too!”

“Stop right now,” said Patsy.  “You don’t need to yell at each other.  We simply can’t decide on a name right now.  We still have twelve more items on the agenda.  I suggest we go on with them and come back to this when tempers cool down.”

“Okay,” said Dan.  “But we’re not calling it Siberia House.  Or Together House.”

“Or naming it after Luna,” added Sal.

“We’ll come back to it,” Patsy said.

Unfortunately, they never did.  The meeting finished and commune still hadn’t decided anything about the name of the new house.  In fact, the commune did not ever make a decision about the name of the house.  

But from then on everyone except Sal and Dan simply referred to it as Siberia House.