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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Nine: Whatever Can Go Wrong

“I just found another leak in that hose,” Dandelion said.  “Whose idea was it to get our water this way anyhow?

“Yours, as I recall,” Lois said.

“I was afraid you’d remember that,” Dandelion said.

Lois looked up from the leak she was working on.  “I’m not sure I can think of any way to have hoses this long running for this long without there being leakage along the way.  I am sure that I couldn’t think of any better way for us to get water this while the water company is working on the pipes.”

“It was supposed to only last a week,” Sowbug said.

“Then they found additional problems,” said Earthworm.

“Hey, folks!” Dan yelled from down the field.  “I’m glad I found you.”

“Now, what?” Sorrel yelled back at him from further down the hose.

“Come in, come in!” Dan yelled and waited until they had all gathered around him.  “I’m afraid there’s going to be another delay.”

“Again?”  Mo asked.

“Oh, yes,” Dan said.  “The water company guys found an auxiliary line that they wanted to investigate and when they dug it up they hit a phone cable that they didn’t know was there.  The phone company is on it’s way but they say that this is one of their major cables for the region.  They estimate that it will be another week before the water company will be able to get back to the pipes--and then they’re going to need some time to get everything back on schedule.”

“Oh, great,” Sowbug said.  “At this rate it will be November before we get our water back.”


Meanwhile, the kitchen crew were having problems of their own.

“Oh, no!”  Nancy cried.  “This is the third batch of blackberry sage bread that I’ve burned this week.”  She looked like she was about to cry.

“Go easy, dear,” Zelda said.  “It’s not  your fault.  You know that oven is off.”

“But I hate throwing good food away,”  Nancy said.

“It’s okay,” Candy said.  “We’ll get the ovens fixed and we’re not losing that much stuff.”

“What’s that smoky smell?”  Paul G asked, coming into the kitchen.

“Oh, fudge!” shrieked Darren.  “I just burnt a whole batch of biscuits!”

“Can we help you with something?”  Zelda asked Paul G.

“Yeah,”  Paul G said.  “I’m looking for someone in the construction/maintenance crew.  One of the flooring supports just broke.”

“Oh dear,” Nancy said.  “Was anyone hurt?”

“No,” Paul G said.  “But now there’s a big hole in the middle of the produce stand.”

“It looks like I’m going to need to get in line,” said Sal, standing behind Paul G.  “The ceiling of the seed office is cracking and there’s plaster falling down on us.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Eight: Dazzle Comes Clean

“Can I talk with you?” Peter asked.  “Privately?”

“How private?” Sal asked.  “I don’t think there’s anyone else around.”

“I want to make sure that no one can hear us and that no one will walk in on us,”  Peter said.

“Oh, dear,” said Sal.  “This doesn’t sound good.”  She thought a moment.  “Let’s go up to my room.  Everyone should be working and I’ll tell Nancy not to disturb us.  She’s the only one who would walk in if the door was closed.”

They found Nancy in the kitchen and she agreed to make sure no one disturbed them.  “Good thing that I know that you’re not interested in men,” she said.

“Okay,” Sal said when they were alone in her room.  “What’s this all about?”

Peter pulled out a copy of the Wall Beast Journal.  He pointed to the picture on the front page.  “Does this guy look familiar?”

Sal stared at the picture for a minute.  Suddenly she gasped.  “That’s Dazzle!”

“I told you that I thought he looked familiar for some reason,” Peter said.

“Doug Danford Disappearance Perplexes Police,” Sal read.  “Oh my goodness.  What’s he wanted for?”

“Apparently there’s a whole bunch of money missing from the firm he worked for.  There are rumors that he’s skipped the country.  He’s been gone for almost a month now.”

“Wait,” Sal said.  “It says that he was known on Madison Avenue as Doug Dazzle.  That’s exactly what he told us.  And he gave us his real name when he started here.”

“Yeah,” Peter said.  “That is puzzling.”


The next day  there was a very private meeting in the back house.  Sal, Dan, Luna, Peter, George, and Fred were there and Dazzle was invited.

“I’m here,” he said as he entered.  “But I’m not sure why.”

Peter handed him the paper.

“What the…”  Dazzle scanned the article.  “I don’t believe this!”

“You want to tell us what happened?” Peter asked.

“I don’t know anything about this money,” Dazzle said.  “I left the firm less than a month ago.  I just had a big, and I mean big, argument with my boss.  I told him, ‘I’m out of here and I’m not coming back,’ and I left.
“I had had it with the Gigantic Apple and all the craziness that it represents.  I was complaining to my friend Alex and he mentioned this commune up north that his cousin lived in.  I said, ‘I didn’t think there were any communes any more,’ and he said, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a bunch of them around.  Candy really likes the place.’ So I figured I’d check it out and now I’m here.  It’s been great.  It’s been just what I needed.  And now it looks like the craziness has followed me up here.”

“What are you going to do?” George asked.

“Go back there, I guess,” Dazzle said.  “I’ve got to get this straightened out.”

“I think it’s probably the best thing to do,” Fred said.

“Stupid cops,” Dazzle said. “I can’t believe that they couldn’t find me up here.  It’s not like I left the country.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Seven: Now What?

“We’re too good,” Mo said.  “We think stuff up and we do it and then what do we do?”

“The new kitchen is all set and running, we don’t need anymore housing at the moment, and I think we’ve maintained everything we could possibly maintain,” Sowbug said.  “We’ve got to find some new projects.”

“Something that will keep us busy for a while,” said Earthworm.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it,” Sorrel said.  “We’re living in a place full of people.  People are hard on places.  We should relax while we’ve got the chance.  I’m sure we’ll be needed for something soon.”

“I’m with Sorrel,” Lois said.  “Something will come up sooner rather than later.  We’ve been working nonstop for weeks.  We should take advantage of the break while we have it.”

“Okay,” said Dandelion.  “I’m with that.  I’m going to rest while I can because…”

“So there you all are,” said Dan, coming through the door.  “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Oh-oh,” said Sorrel.  

“There’s some folks from the county water department saying that they want to redo the lines.”  Dan didn’t look happy.  “They’re telling us we’re going to be without water for a week while they fix stuff.”

“When are they starting?”  asked Earthworm.

“Tomorrow morning,” Dan said.

The construction crew looked at each other.

“Okay,” Sowbug said.  “We’ll be back to you with a proposal by tonight.”


The commune meeting was that night.  Winter was directing things, wearing a lovely lavender frock and amethyst slippers.

“So,” he said.  “Do you have a proposal for what we will do without water?”

“Okay,” said Dandelion.  “We’ve talked with Peter who isn’t on the same water line as us and he’s agreed to let us run a couple of hoses from his place to ours so that we can get fresh water from him.”

“We had also installed a couple of rainwater barrels a few months ago that have been collecting water which we can use for washing and bathing,” Mo added.  “We’ve also been using greywater for the crops so that we can make every drop count.”

“Are we going to need to repay Peter for his water?” Luna asked.

“He said that we could pay him ‘in kind’,” Dandelion said.

“I know what that means,” said Nancy.  “He’s going to wants as much baked goods as we’re willing to send him.”

“How are we going to heat the water?” Marge asked.

“We’ve created solar showers to go with the rainwater,” said Sowbug.  “It does mean that you’ll need to shower outdoors but fortunately the weather isn’t supposed to be too cool this week.  For everything else, we’ll need to heat the water on the stoves, I guess.  We’ll work on fixing something up.”

“I hope that you’re also planning on working on the floor in the produce stand,” Paul G said.

“Why?” asked Earthworm.  “What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s starting to give way in several places,” Cat said.  “I think the wood may be rotting.”

“Yeah,” said Darren.  “That’s happening at the pastry stand as well.   I think you’re going to need to deal with it soon.”

“That reminds me,” Zelda said.  “The thermostat on one of the new ovens broke.  Do you think one of you can fix it?”

“You know,” said Sowbug, “I’m sorry I said we were going to need something more to do.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and Six: Perfectly Legal

A week later the seed business sales were indeed flying.  Sal and Sally were now getting in ten to twelve orders a day.  Maybe the maple mustard greens muffins that were shipped out with every order were helping, but something was certainly working.

Doug was now calling himself Dazzle.  He looked quite different from the khaki clad lad who arrived at the commune a couple of weeks back.  He went around wearing bright bandanas, even more colorful t-shirts, torn jeans, and sandals, and had a scruffy beard.  He barely seemed at all like the person that Ken met at the door. 

Dazzle not only worked with the advertising but was also very helpful with getting the seeds packed up and shipped out.  The three workers were crowded in the little office and quite busy  when the three visitors came by.

“Peter!” Sal shrieked.  “And George and Fred!  I’m so glad you could stop by.”

“Always glad to help,” said Peter.  “So, is this the new business operation?”

“Sure is,” said Sal.  “Sal and Sally’s Selected Seeds.  I think you’ve met Sally.”

“Yes, indeed,” said Peter.  “We hung out a bit at the anniversary party.”

“We got soaked together,” said Fred.  “That rain storm was a bit of a bonding experience.”

“Great,” said Sal.  “And this is the newest member of our commune, Dazzle.  Dazzle, this is our legal team, Peter, and George, and Fred.”

Dazzle shook hands with all of the men.  “Good to meet you,” he said.

“So what have we got here?” Peter asked.  He spent the next hour quizzing them all about the seed business with George and Fred asking occasional questions.

“Okay,” said Peter after he asked everything he could think of asking, including questions he asked at least twice.  “Given your communes 501z status,  we’re going to have to be careful how we set up this company.  We’ll be back with some clearer ideas in a few days.”


A couple of days later,  Peter and Fred met with Sal and Sally to go over what they had found.  Dazzle excused himself from the meeting saying was busy “retooling” their marketing strategy.

“With the commune’s 501z status, we have to be clear that the business fits in with the mission of the commune and that all profits are shared among everyone at the commune,” Peter pointed out.

“It certainly fits in with our mission,” Sal said.   “We are trying to demonstrate and support agricultural alternatives, and you can’t do agriculture without seeds.  And believe me, we sharing everything at this commune.”

“Including toothbrushes and beds,” Sally added.  “And all too frequently germs as well.”

“Given that,” Fred said,  “I think we can just fold the new business into the commune’s regular legal structure.  Just be sure to document all this.”

“No problem,” Sally said.  “I’m going to sit down after this meeting and write it all up.”

“Okay, then,” Peter said.  “I think that this just about wraps it all up.  I will keep checking in with you and be sure and contact me if you have any questions or if anything comes up unexpectedly.”

He got up to leave but turned back to Sal.  “Oh, yeah.  One more thing.  That new guy, Dazzle.  For some reason he looks familiar to me.  Has he been here before?”

“Nope,” said Sal.  “He’s brand new.”

“He must just look like someone,”  Peter said.  “I don’t know.  Ever since I met him I’ve felt like I’ve seen him somewhere before.”