Monday, January 25, 2010

Chapter Fifty-Three

Chapter 53

October 24th

“Work, work, work, All day long,
Crank it up, back it up, bring it on home,
supper on the table and I eat me a bite
then we snuggle on the porch by the pale moon light.
A little bit of me and you doin’ all right.
A little bit of life.”
-- Craig Morgan

Every time that song would come on the radio when I was working at the diner we all knew to put our earplugs in because Ms. Belle was going to jack the volume up. Who would have thought my life would turn into a country song?!

The garden is spitting out stuff left and right, the chickens are laying eggs better and I have enough to cook us some real eggs every couple of days and our little flock has doubled in size and Rand has said to go ahead and start taking all the eggs and using them. We didn’t have to wait to get a boar for our soon to be pig herd … one came to us. Rand had actually been after some deer that had been coming around. He had put up a temporary fence made of a set some wooden pallets that we had found here and there and then put corn down in the middle of it.

I’m up but still bleary-eyed and trying to take care of nature’s call when Rand bangs into the house yelling, “Kiri!!!”

I’m half dressed and grabbing for my gun then the loon laughs and says, “I need you to help me! I need nails, hammer, and more boards!!”

I’m so clueless but I’m running around outside with nothing on but my jammies and my boots, dragging hammer, nails, and boards over to him and there is something banging around like the Tasmanian Devil inside the enclosure and Rand is laughing, holding a piece of goat pen up against the opening that he’d left for the deer to go in. He’s laughing and going “ow!” every time whatever it is bangs against the metal sheet and then starts laughing some more!!

Well, we managed to get Taz penned in so he couldn’t break out and we now have a boy pig. Yeah, I know “Taz” is a stupid name for a pig but this guy is something else. Rand said he was domesticated not that long ago because he has had his tusks cut down. Rand won’t let me feed him yet. He’ll still bang around in the pen like his name sake at the least provocation. Rand is building a bigger yard for him but he has so much to do every day that projects seem to take twice as long to complete.

The weather has warmed back up as well. It is back to being a high of eighty degrees during the day and doesn’t want to go below sixty degrees at night. This is actually really nice weather and we’ve been taking advantage of it while we still have it.

I can’t even name off the top of my head everything that I’ve canned since the last time I wasn’t too tired to write in my journal. I can tell you what I did today. Corn. It’s short corn so I can actually reach everything, it's called Bantam. The harvest just sort of caught me off guard because I kept expecting it to get taller but then it tasseled and the corn silks turned brown and I knew it was time to start pulling ears. Just like with the greens I planted everything on the same day so everything is ripening just about on the same day.

I’m really lucky that Charlene and Missy came today with Brendon. Brendon and Rand were doing something to the hay and also cutting some more trees. We made the plan at the church service on Sunday. Missy had a pile of stuff she wanted to repair for the Trade-In Shack and Laurabeth and Alicia had their pedal sewing machine going every time she wanted to use it trying to sew things for the babies that are coming, making diapers, sewing up the boys’ clothes where they are wearing them out or out growing them. Bill agreed to watch the Shack so she could come over here. I didn’t mind, I hadn’t seen her in a while. Charlene came over to get away since she hasn’t gotten to very often.

All three of them arrived early in the morning; I had barely finished clearing away Rand’s breakfast dishes. The other day Rand brought down my sewing machine from the bonus rooms. I’d wanted to move it downstairs anyway so that I could do more sewing this winter. It gets cold in those bonus rooms, I remember that much. Missy was all business and wanted to get to it. I guess she wanted to get finished and get back to Bill as soon as possible. Turns out she just hates sewing and just wanted to get it over with. Charlene helped me with the corn.

We canned whole kernel corn and creamed corn. We also made some calico corn; mostly it was the whole kernel stuff. And since Charlene and I were doing all of the work I decided to make us a treat. Missy said not to get any food near her … she didn’t travel so well to get over here … so Charlene and I got it all. This is something my grandmother used to do for those cousins that helped out during corn canning season. Take two cups of sugar and one cup of water and bring it to a simmer, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Continue to simmer about five minutes and then dump in two cups of fresh corn kernels and bring everything back to a simmer. Simmer for another eight to ten minutes, until the white end is translucent. Drain the remaining syrup off … use it to sweeten a veggie dish or cornbread or something like that rather than waste it, you could even add it to the pancake syrup bottle. Spread the sugared corn out on a plate until they are cool … about thirty minutes … and then you can munch. You don’t wind up with much, about a cup, but that is plenty for what amounts to candy.

Tomorrow however I’m going to do something different and Rand has been giving me fits over it all evening; reminding me, checking my equipment, etc. I’m going to ride Lou over to the Trade-In Shack and try and see if we can get anything on our list. Rand has already been and gotten a couple pair of shoes for himself, work boots primarily, and I need the same as well and some other stuff too.

The thing that convinced him to let me go is that Rand finally broke down and had to ask Bill for some help. Bill has his own radio set up that is pretty fancy. He just has to be very careful about the fuel and generator use. Rand knew about it because he helped Bill move it but it is a secret from everyone else in the family but Missy. Bill agreed to the same courtesy for us and also agreed to help build an antenna for Rand in exchange for Rand being on the lookout and helping Bill design and build an ethanol set up. The trick was that the antenna had to be a “stealth” antenna so that no one would know for sure what it was.

Bill helped build one that is along the order of looking like a bird feeder only that was too obvious considering anyone that is into amateur radio has probably seen similar stealth designs. We’ve mounted it on the back of the house … an area no one but ourselves ever goes … and instead of a bird feeder it is camouflaged as a wasp trap. If anyone does wind up asking us why it is so high up on the eaves then that will be the perfect excuse as there are a lot of wasp problems around here.

The powering issue wasn’t as hard as we thought it was going to be. My dad was an amazing planner, he just hadn’t hooked everything up yet. Uncle Charlie was always making disparaging remarks about the way my Dad did things. He would complain something was too small or too big or wasn’t mounted right. Luckily the stipulation of the trust prevented him from changing the property in any way. One of the things Uncle Charlie seemed to despise the most was the solar panels on top of the house. He said they were overkill for the security lights, weren’t mounted properly, could have been utilized better, were an eyesore, and on and on.

Rand tried to explain the set up to me but I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to explain it correctly here. There are three sets of panels. There is one set of three panels on the barn roof. They don’t hook up to anything and Rand hasn’t found what Daddy intended on doing with them. I love my Daddy but the filing system he used is a little peculiar and his humor even more so which will sometimes impact where we find stuff in the files. The other panels are two sets of three panels mounted on top of the house. Each panel is what Rand calls a 15 watt panel. So on the roof of the house we have a total of 90 watts. We also have a bank of six gel-cell batteries. There is a thousand watt sine inverter, some type of charge control thingy, and all sorts of cables and stuff in one of Daddy’s work benches.

And no, I have no idea what any of that means. Rand and I have agreed to split our responsibilities so that we can get more done … we know the basics of what the other does but until things are more stable and I have more time I am completely happy to turn over all that solar and radio stuff to him to figure out. I’ll learn it, I’m just happy I don’t have to learn it right now.

What I do know is that I watched Rand on the roof hooking up the second set of solar panels as they were apparently just there for looks until Daddy got around to doing something with them. I suspect all of those folks that Daddy had over for dinner when I was growing up had something to do with how easy he found some of his “junk” to bring up to the property every time we came. And then once we got everything hooked up he said he thinks we can run the radio at least 50 hours off of one charge battery before we would need to switch to one of the other batteries in the bank. It also wasn’t fun watching him try to hand drill a hole through the hardy board siding so that we could run the cables from the antenna back to the radio.

The radio works, it makes noise, but we don’t have a microphone for transmitting … it wasn’t in the box that Ram left. Rand isn’t concerned with transmitting right now anyway. What is more important is to be able to hear what is going on out in the world. Well that is easier said than done. You see there are reasons why you take classes and go to school and get training for the field of communications. It’s not as easy as they make it seem in the movies. Rand is learning but even accidentally we are hearing things that aren’t so great.

Not too many people actually give out their locations so you have to listen for a while to see if they drop clues; for example if they talk about snow in their area we know they likely are likely further north than Atlanta. Sometimes people will talk about specific landmarks like a large lake or a highway or a national monument and then you can kind of pinpoint their area if you are quick enough.

Bottom line is that there are a lot of scared, angry, and hungry people out there. The cold only makes them more scared, angry, and hungry. Along the Gulf of Mexico you get the impression that people are digging in if they aren’t actually being forcibly removed from the coastal areas. There are also forced labor camps in some area further south of us in the big produce fields. There aren’t any fisherman on the Gulf … or at least none that will admit to it. No fuel means no fishing fleet. But some people still mention seeing military looking vessels in the Gulf … I just hope they are ours.

One night Rand ran across a guy speaking Spanish. He was talking so fast I could barely keep up but man did he sound dee-ranged. It was death to America this and they’ll get what they deserve that and support our brothers and comrades trying to free North America from the oppressive colonialism of the white Anglos, etc. Yikes. Annie grab your gun. It was hard to tell if he was just crazy by himself or crazy with an audience.

There aren’t really that many people out there transmitting. Power sources are iffy and/or hidden and/or being saved and/or just about anything you can come up with. But there is enough. And what they are saying is only reinforcing how I’ve been feeling. And I’ve infected Rand I think.

He’s been going over early, early in the morning and bringing back wagon loads of cement blocks from that place that burned where Laurabeth had her wedding. He’s using some of the blocks to make more secure paddocks for the goats and pigs. But some of those blocks he has been making “blinds” with at different places on our acreage. If anybody notices and asks … and they shouldn’t since they shouldn’t be on our property … they’ll be hunting blinds. He also plans to build some blinds in trees and is getting supplies from some of the tore up trailers and buildings that are further away from us.

I’ve got a couple of days before I have another major round of canning that I have to do. Rather than be at loose ends … or unpack the mess in the spare bedrooms and closets that can be done when I’m stuck in the house due to cold or rain … I’m going to the Shack and pick up some of the things that Missy has from our list. She says there is probably more but she just hasn’t had time to go through everything. I’ll be trading labor and dried apples for whatever I find to bring home. I may not be able to bring it all home, but Missy promises to set it aside until Rand can bring the wagon.

Rand isn’t happy about it but he knows someone has to stay home and keep an eye on things and he has finally gotten enough posts in the ground to be able to wire in the pond area and most of the palmetto area. Mr. Henderson is just waiting for us to finish that and then he’ll deliver the heifer and calf.

October 25th – OK, my shakes are gone enough that I can actually write and I want to get this all out.

Morning turned out to be cold; it was only in the low 50s when I left the house. The rifle was in a sling on Lou and the Smith and Wesson on my hip. I used to feel a little silly going out looking like Pancho Villa but not anymore, everyone dresses this way. Even kids like Mick and Tommy go around armed; each family has to decide for themselves how that works.

I also had a burlap bag of dried apples behind me and I was leading one of the mares. Rand has worked it out, we just don’t have enough feed when you add in the cows, goats, pigs, and chickens. The sorghum will help after it comes in and we hope that the other grains make heads and not just straw, but horses eat a lot and these aren’t doing any work for us as they are mostly some kind of fancy racing horse breed. Rather than letting them get fat and sassy Rand is trading one of the horse for an old incline horse mill. Rand said for all that it is old it is in pretty good condition since the father of the man who Rand is trading the horse to had kept it up for demonstrations at the local county fair until he died three years ago. The man was looking for a way to leave the area and agreed to take the mare in trade.

Bill is acting as the middle man. The incline was moved to their property and I turned the horse over to Bill. Bill was going to hold the horse until the man picked it up (he was waiting on the mare when I got there to approve the trade) and now Rand can get the thing and bring it home tomorrow.

As I was leaving our place Rand made me promise that even if I had to leave everything, including the mule and horse, to just come back in one piece and not to take unnecessary chances. I got a good sized kiss to bribe me to come home soon and then I was off into the misty morning, leaving Rand at the corner of CR49 and US90 where he had walked with me. Lou kept the mare in line for the most part but she didn’t always want to mind and by the time I got her to Bill’s place I was tired and out of sorts.

The boys had been looking for me since sun up according to Alicia and ran over right away and helped take the mare, the apples, and Lou to be brushed down. Lou likes the boys, they’ve learned exactly the way he likes to be brushed and they’ll talk to him too. I got a brusque greeting from Uncle George who looked too tired to be out of bed and then everyone scurried to get going on the morning chores.

As I came up to the Shack I saw Missy hanging over the porch railing puking into the bushes. “These **** bushes should be the prettiest **** azaleas in the whole county for all the **** fertilizer I’m giving them.”

Bill grinned and said, “She’s having a hard time this morning. Come on and I’ll show you where everything is. She really is happy you’re here. I think part of the problem is she is trying to do too much. With you here at least she’ll sit for a little while.”

Basically, every room in the house had a different type of item … shoes, men’s clothes, women’s clothes, children’s clothes, household items, a “grocery,” etc. Even the small closets were utilized for things like office supplies, batteries (very few of them), sewing goods, and the like. My job was to take unsorted items out of the shed and put them into the correct place by size, color, etc.

Did I mention that Missy is a bear for having everything organized? And to keep things that way she personally served anyone that came to the Shack. For instance, a man comes up and says that he is looking for a short sleeved work short. After they work out a trade Missy will ask what size and whether he has a color preference. Because she keeps things organized she can go right to the item and be back quick which means she can serve a lot more people than you would think. This isn’t like window shopping in the old days. This is you come in with a list and the proprietor gives you a couple of options to choose from if there are any, you make the trade and then you get gone or go play checkers or something like that.

A lot of people have been coming to the Shack to exchange gossip as much as anything else. They also watch what gets brought in to trade and carry that information out into the surrounding community. It makes for better advertising than anything else available right now.

I heard lots of interesting news (OK, so it was gossip, my apologies to Pastor Ken) without even trying to. Mrs. Winston now has to be confined in a chair because when she isn’t she is violent and tries to hurt people and property alike. There have been two miscarriages and one birth in the last week. One of the miscarriages also caused the death of the mother and the woman who gave birth isn’t doing so well either and is running a fever. The neighbor of the woman that gave birth is acting as a wet nurse for the baby as she was just starting to wean her own toddler. This was a win-win situation because the baby’s father had been helping the woman out since her husband died in a raid. Everyone has a garden in or is trying. Johnny Forrester fell out of a pecan tree and broke his leg. I even saw Mr. Coffey and he told me to have Rand come by in a day or so as he has something for him. I assume that was code for the remainder of our sorghum.

People were complaining about their gardens being puny without the fertilizers and soil additives they’ve been using for years and I told them about the manure tea that Rand made. The oldsters cackled at my description but I noticed other people were listening in and that started a conversation on soil improvement as done by pioneers in this area and on crop rotation as well. Guess I need to talk to Rand about that one.

The Shack was closed for a few minutes so that we could grab a bite to eat and I hoped that Rand was doing OK by himself and would remember the loaf of bread I had put in the warming drawer after breakfast and would take the time to heat up the greens and beans from last night’s dinner that I had put in the little water cooler than Rand had set up for us for the few times we had leftovers or needed to keep something cool for a day or two.

It was after lunch that I started to see more strangers and less locals. These people would come all the way from Lake City and some of the other outlying communities. The rural townspeople weren’t so bad but some that said they came from Lake City were actually transplants from other areas like the relocation centers or the people who had stopped because they ran out of gas there months back when the big city exoduses had occurred.

Three in particular bothered me and apparently they bothered Missy and Bill too because I noticed a change in their demeanor and Bill told me to wait on anything new for a bit. I went in the back and decided to mind my own business, they had to have handled that sort of stuff before and started bagging the things that I had gathered and what Missy had already set aside for us. I found a commercial can opener that gets screwed down to the counter top; this will make opening #10 cans a lot easier. I found a washboard; its lightweight but it will work for almost everything but jeans and coats. I found a mop bucket that has a “wringer” on it. This thing is really big and had to have come from a school or hospital or something like that; it will sure save me some hand wringing of smaller items and maybe towels and t-shirts too. I found me a couple of pairs of work books and some of that stuff that makes leather waterproof and keeps it supple. I found some more sewing machine needles and some other sewing needs in a box of notions that I brought in from the shed. I grabbed a couple of extra thimbles too and all the straight pins that I found … the long ones favored by quilters. Also in this box were a bunch of sewing patterns. Most of the patterns were for things I didn’t need or wouldn’t have any reason to wear but there were some in there like for unisex vests, aprons, children’s pinafores, and nightwear that I was more than happy to find. I was also happy to find a good scissor sharpener and some sewing machine oil.

I had taken a quick look in the “grocery” and there wasn’t anything in there that we didn’t already have. There were a bunch of pecans, a few canned goods, some oils, some dried fruit but not much else. People were keeping their food at home unless they hit a windfall; similar to what we were using the dried apples for.

I was in the middle of trying to figure out how I was going to get all this stuff home and coming to the conclusion that I was going to have to lead Lou rather than ride him when I heard, “Bill!!!” and then a big boom.

If there is one thing besides practice, practice, practice that Rand impressed on me it is that a gun should not be in your hand unless you are absolutely prepared to use it. You don’t threaten and you never bluff, you are better off leaving the gun in your holster and running away.

I grabbed the Smith & Wesson and the rifle and ran up to the door of the room I was in and peaked as best I could. Because of the angle of the hall and where everyone was in the front room I could see Bill on the ground with blood on his face but awake and between Missy and the barrel of a gun pointed right at them. I couldn’t see the owner of the gun however.

“We don’t need to trade for squat. We’re gonna take what we want and you ain’t gonna say jack about it dude. And maybe we’ll let you and the lady keep the brat she’s got in her belly.”

I went all cold. I hate that, I really do. I can feel all the feelings in me evaporate and I know it is happening and I can’t seem to do a doggone thing about it. My temper … it gets nasty without my permission. I hadn’t done it in a while and I’d begun to hope that I’d conquered it … nope. My anger took over and that part of me that has a conscious was only along for the ride but had no reins.

I dropped into a crouch and got on the other side of the hall and slowly crept down to the end. I vaguely recall hearing guns going off outside and the guys inside laughing. At the end of the hall I crouched down to get below where they’d likely be shooting if they turned my direction. It would also give me a better chance to roll behind the big bar that served as the store “front counter.”

Bill said he saw me out of the corner of his eye and if he hadn’t known who I was he wouldn’t have recognized me right off the bat. I think he meant that I had my “ice face” on … at least that is what Aunt Wilma used to call it when I first came home from the hospital.

Then Bill said, “There’s no need for the three of you to act like this … “

Three. He just let me know that there were three in the room. Thank you Bill, I had only heard two distinct voices. I came around the corner gun up and aimed. I caught the guy with the rifle pointed at them full in the chest at nearly point blank range. The guy behind caught it in the side at nearly the same distance as he was turning away from the door. There was another guy looking out the window on the other side of the room and as he dived to get behind a chair, my arms had gotten shaky and dropped just enough to catch him in the both bumper cheeks. The other two were down and dead from shock or blood loss, I don’t know, but the third guy was screaming and squealing. Now that I think back on it I'm not sure what happened to that guy.

Bill in the meantime had pushed Missy behind the counter, grabbed his own rifle that had been taken away when he went down and was aiming out the window. I don’t know exactly what he saw but he yelled, “All clear in here!!” I heard in return, “We’re shy one. He dove under the house and we’re trying to flush him out!”

I walked quietly through the house until I heard some noise coming from the back where the laundry room was, there was scritchy-scratchy noise from floor area. I looked out the window and just saw someone crawling out at the corner of the house and trying to take off running. I shouted, “Back of the house, heading for the tree line!” The guy didn’t make it. He tripped and went down and came up aiming to shoot when someone got him first.

I was shaking like a leaf; not from fear but from adrenaline. I knew from experience I was going to be puking any second so I left the house and found a handy bush just in time. I looked up to find Mick holding a bucket of water and a washcloth. “You do that a lot. Are you sure you ain’t gonna have a baby?”

“Ain’t isn’t a word and no I’m not going to have a baby. My body doesn’t always like what my brain gets up to.”

“Oh. Missy usually pukes in the azaleas. She says the acid is good for them.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh at how serious he was or cry that a little kid wasn’t even affected by all the shooting. Ron’s aunt came over … I guess she is some kind of trained nurse … and said that puking was better than having hysterics which is what one of the women out front was having. Once she said that I did unscramble what I was hearing and there was some woman out front having a pretty good fit.

It was an hour before things settled back down. Missy completed the trades of the people already in line but then shut the Shack as soon as she could. She was fairly pale … paler than she is normally … and Bill would growl at anyone that came to close to her. That’s about the only thing that Uncle George looked happy about the whole time I was there. Protective chauvinists standing shoulder to shoulder against the world.

He tried to go off on Rand letting me out by myself and I’d finally had enough of trying to be nice on this subject. “Mr. Crenshaw, I am not a dog that needs to be on a leash. I will come and go as I see fit. Rand and I discussed it and though he was concerned as you can imagine he trusted me … and you all … to do whatever was necessary if a dangerous situation occurred. He’s got reason to trust me on this as you well know. Now stop picking on him! Just because you are in a foul mood doesn’t mean you get to kick him around. Was he your whipping boy when he was growing up too? From what I’ve seen … and not because Rand complains because all he ever does is defend you … no one speaks up for Rand too much and that is going to stop right here and now.”

Brendon and the other kids just stood there with their mouths hanging open. I don’t guess they’d ever heard anyone talk that way to their dad. I didn’t want to cause family trouble but I had about had it. I was still jiggery from what had happened and maybe Rand was as wild as he said he was as a teenager but he wasn’t that person anymore and it was about time some of them recognized it.

No one said anything, they just stood there. I was not going to play freeze tag so I walked to the barn and got Lou and saddled him up. By the time I was done with that and with loading the stuff from the Shack I was still pretty angry. Everyone was just sort of milling around. “Bill, I’m sure Rand will be by tomorrow or the next day to get that treadmill thingy. Tell Missy I said bye.”

I was walking Lou down the lane when Uncle George said, “Girl you just don’t understand.”

“Oh please ... tell me another. Do you know how many times I’ve heard that? Try this … life is short and then you die. Sometimes life is a whole lot shorter than you expect it to be. You think you have time to do what you put off only that time somehow is lost or is stolen from you. Here’s another one … you don’t get to pick. God let’s things happen and sometimes those things happen to the people we love and care about. I don’t know what I would do if I was to lose Rand tomorrow but I sure wouldn’t be having any regrets about standing up for him today. I make sure he knows I love him all the time, not just when it is going to get me something or when I’m in a good mood. And what if it was me that was gone tomorrow? What if I had died today? Would he have known how I felt about him? I love him for who he is, not for who I wish he was. Rand may have been a pain as a teenager, I sure as heck was, am, was ... you know what I mean … but that was then and this is now and Rand has been working his heart out – first at university and now here – to make himself a better person, to make goals and reach them, to be a real man. I think he’s doing a doggone good job of it and I tell him so. If you were to drop dead tomorrow Uncle George, what kind of words would he remember you saying to him? Would he even realize that you are proud of him or would he think he was a disappointment to you?”

I sure hope I haven’t messed things up for Rand. I’ll be honest and say I’m more upset by that than I am about the stupid robbers. I worried on it all the way home but I was still careful and stayed what Rand calls "situationally aware." It was late afternoon by the time I reached CR49. The sun was making its way to the west and the day was turning noticeably cooler again.

I was walking down the highway when I saw Rand gallop out of the gate on Hatchet. He checked his speed when he saw me but still managed to come abreast of my location pretty quick. He jumped down off the horse and hugged me to him.

“Mr. Henderson came by earlier with some men to help me get the last section fenced off. While he was there he got word from one of the patrols of the trouble at the Shack. Are you OK?”

“I’m fine. Just glad to be home.”

“I shouldn’t have let … “

“Oh, don’t you start. I let you be the boss of me, and I don’t mind it 'cause I trust you, but don’t start with that ‘letting’ stuff.”

“Are you sure you’re OK? You … you seem upset.”

“I … Rand, I popped off at your uncle. I’m sorry if it upsets you but I’m not sorry I did it.”

As we walked back to the house I explained exactly what had happened. Then I went on to tell him about what I said to his uncle and why. By the time I finished he was getting so mushy I was afraid someone was going to see, we weren't even to the home site yet. Rand is real physical with his affection and he is forever catching me unawares with it. Bottom line Rand isn’t angry at me, or upset with me. In fact all he said besides showing me that he liked how I stood up for him was, “You think it is any wonder now why Missy and Uncle George don’t always get along?”

“I’m not like Missy.”

“Not in everything, no … but in some of the ways that count when it comes to independence, loyalty, and stuff like that you are. Laurabeth and Charlene are like little sisters to me … but they will fold to their Dad with just one look from him even if it means giving up their own opinions. Janet was the one that was most like Missy but then she got sick and … well, I don’t like to say it but I think Uncle George is trying to remold her into the way he thinks she ought to be. He won’t let her get well because he is afraid if she does he’ll lose her in the same way he lost Missy for a while.”

“Are you sure you weren’t studying psychology at UF?”

After he was done laughing Rand said, “I like people Kiri. To me they are the most interesting of God’s creation. They come in so many different shapes and sizes and colors and personalities that you can’t ever get bored with people watching. But as different as people are there are a lot of things they have in common. Maybe I analyze people too much, but I don’t mean any harm by it.”

I suppose we all have our hobbies. I’m not much for people myself but I enjoy it when Rand translates their nuttiness for me. It makes them easier to tolerate. I’m thinking though it would be nice if we could put warning labels on some people. At least then you could be prepared when they do something violent without cause and stuff like that.

I guess we’ll find out tomorrow if I’ve messed things up with the Crenshaw clan. I don’t know if I’m anxious to know or not. I like ‘em and all but I wouldn’t mind putting some distance between us and them if they are going to constantly have negative things to say. I've had more than enough of that over the last few years and I don't think right now is a good time to be continuing that particular tradition.

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