Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter 41

August 16th – I’ve been so busy during the day and so tired at night I haven’t had time to do much more than add stuff to the inventory and then fall asleep. The only reason I have time to write now is that I stepped in some type of animal hole and wrenched the heck out of my ankle. Rand won’t be home for hours yet and I don’t know what he is going to say. He asked me to stay near the house but I was looking for Fraidy after hearing some dogs close enough that they had to be on our property.

Well they were and I got treed. Lucky for me I hadn’t left the house unarmed and after I shot the most vicious of the pack they ran off. The three I shot are still out there; I just didn’t feel able to dig a hole to bury them. I was shaky and walking home I wasn’t paying too much attention where I was going and that’s all it took. Man, I finally start to get rid of the nasty bruise from that stump and I get wrecked up from a hole. I think the land might be out for blood at this point.

By the time I hobbled home everything from my knee down was throbbing. I took the shoe off and my foot has swollen up like a balloon. I’m soaking it now and it looks and feels a little better. Fraidy and Woofer are sitting here looking at me like, “You humans are only about halfway smart. We hid in the barn and there you are going out and getting hurt.”

Woofer … he’s a dog that just sort of showed up this past Sunday morning. I was cooking breakfast and going over what we planned to work on … planning, not manual labor, and there was no church … when I hear this whine from over towards the orchard. I thought maybe I was hearing things when it didn’t happen again and then the grass out there moved. Two eyes and ears popped out of the bushes and then pulled back in once it saw I had seen it.

The next time two eyes, two ears and a nose came out but as soon as I would turn my head it would hide again. It became a game for me to see how close the dog … turned out he is practically just a puppy … would come before taking off into the bushes again. It came within ten feet of where I was but wouldn’t come any closer and just laid there and looked at me. His ears are huge and stand straight up and it has this long face with these eyes that seem to say what the poor thing is feeling.

Rand came out the door suddenly and you could tell the poor thing wanted to run away but all of a sudden it got between me and Rand and leaned against me with its face turned towards Rand. But I could feel it pushing me. It was either take a step back or fall backwards and he kept doing that.

Rand said, “Tell him it’s OK and calm him down. That some puppy power he’s got.”

Rand is so cool. It didn’t take long for Rand to have Woofer eating out of his hand … literally. Fraidy was pretty cool too. So long as Woofer vacates any place that Fraidy calls hers then she doesn’t mind. She does mind the tongue baths that Woofer tries to give her and will only put up with it for a few minutes. All she really did in the beginning after making sure Woofer knew who was boss around here was look at me as if to say, “I suppose if you have to adopt it go ahead.”

Woofer is skittish when he hears other dogs or coyotes … Rand said he was probably put on the menu a few times because of his size and age … loves Fraidy, but is scared absolutely to death of Pretty Boy and the hens. He’ll go all the way around the other side of the yard to avoid getting near them. We watched him try and climb the ladder to the loft when Pretty Boy started strutting towards him on Monday. I hope some of that wears off.

He’s name really is Woofer, it says so on his tag. We worked it out and he has his rabies shots which is really good and is probably about six months old. Doesn’t look fixed which is probably why some of the bigger dogs thought he was a threat. He’s house broken which is really good; and he knows how to fetch, sit, lay, shake hands, and roll over too. Rand thinks with proper feeding he’ll probably get to be a fifty pound dog and at the rate he goes he’ll be all muscle. Sometimes he just likes to run. You should see him light out after a squirrel … and catch the thing before it can skinny up a tree. This morning he and Fraidy tag teamed a squirrel and I watched them carry it off into the bushes and eat it. I would have been grossed out by that not too long ago, now I’m just grateful that they can feed themselves which means less work for me.

Rand built a second solar dehydrator with help from Mick and Tommy only this one has two more trays that the other one and they are bigger too. I still managed to keep twelve trays (five from the first and seven from the second) going every day.

Rand is over at his uncle’s place now helping to break ground on what is hopefully going to be a good sized garden. Yesterday he went over to Momma O’s and he and Paul enlarged their garden. Hatchet is getting bent out of shape that Rand isn’t riding him more but he isn’t so nasty with me as he used to be. Used to be that I could only be around him if Rand was right there but I’ve been giving him a slice of apple if he lets me brush him; we’ve come to an agreement that he doesn’t try and bite and Rand won’t make dog food out of him.

I don’t know if I’ve said it right out loud but I like being married. I don’t think I would if it wasn’t to Rand but since it is him I really like being married. But there is a lot of work to it that I’m only figuring out in bits and pieces. For instance, I never realized you could be angry and worried at the same time and still like someone so much you just want to hit them for doing something stupid. Rand made me feel like that when he was installing the block and tackle thingy onto the barn so that he could life stuff up to the loft instead of having to take it up the ladder.

Yesterday I heard a bang out in the barn. I thought one of the animals had kicked the wall again expcept all three of them were in the corral. I walked in real careful and saw the ladder on the floor. “Uh, Babe … could you put that ladder back up here?” Rand was swinging from the rafters like a monkey. And when he got down is was ha, ha, ha … almost fell that time. That time?! Apparently the ladder that he was using wasn’t quite as long as he needed and he’d already kicked it over a couple of times and had to climb down and put it back up. Ooooooo I could have just … well, I don’t know what I could have done but for sure I was upset. Guys … I’m convinced that sometimes they just don’t get it. If anything had happens to him I don’t know what I would do. It’s bad enough that we have a bunch of crazies going around setting things on fire as some kind of stupid initiation to a new gang that has formed.

Some kids got caught; they are not from Suwannee County but from Columbia where Lake City is. Mr. Henderson packed them into a wagon and then turned them over to the military at the relocation camp. This was for more than one reason. In addition to getting the kids (when I called them that Mr. Henderson wanted to know when I had suddenly gotten so old) off his hands and it gave him a legitimate reason for being able to check the place out.

First off he says it looks like an old WW2 era internment camp only with canvas sided tents. I remember seeing pictures of those in my American History textbook. Mr. Henderson said they are set up in row upon row behind tall fences and razor wire. There were lines of people all over the place but they were all inside the fence and the gates of the fence was closed and guarded by some pretty heavy duty looking guns. He spit out the names and numbers of the guns but that didn’t make any difference to me, all I needed to know is that for some reason they find it important to keep those people inside and are willing to shoot to do it. And these are the people they want to spread out around here? People that they think need to be locked up? If I think that you know other people are going to think the same thing.

Mr. Henderson went on to say the people looked pretty bad … sick or starved or something along those lines. He said he won’t be making any trips back any time soon. They weren’t quite set up and he’s worried if they had been they might have “requisitioned” his horses and wagon … possible him and his men too … for work in and around the camp.

Rand and Mr. Henderson have been talking and they’re concerned that the power poles and lines will lead people back to places that they might not otherwise find. Rand is also worried that the power poles will get in the way of him being able to plow and work the field he is creating in the easement. Tomorrow they are going to start taking down the poles. They’re wooden so it shouldn’t be any more hard than chopping down a tree, but problem is going to come in figuring how or even if the part of the pole that is stuck down in the ground will come up.

For some reason this bothers me and I said so to Rand. He said that it was probably because it was a sign that things aren’t going to be getting better any time in the near future. The lines are down in lots of places because of that storm that took down Fraidy’s tree. Taking down the lines does seem kind of final. When they come down I have to accept that it will be a long while before we see electricity again – those little switches won’t work, the light won’t come on in the frig, the microwave won’t beep, the washer and dryer won’t work. Acceptance. That is what we are doing day in and day out but this seems like a whole bunch of it to do at once.

Guess I need to put my pen down or Rand is going to come home hungry and there won’t be anything to eat. He’s always hungry. Thank goodness I seem to have a talent for making things grow and then cooking them … hey, maybe I inherited something from Momma after all.

August 17th – Rand wasn’t near as upset as I was worried he was going to be. He says he knows he can’t keep me locked up like he’d like to so that I would be safe but he said he was very proud of me for not “running off unarmed.” I guess that is something to feel good about, that he trusts me to use sense. I think I’m getting used to him spelling everything out … it’s just his way of making sure he gets things right and covers everything he means to, not necessarily that he thinks I don’t know anything or don’t know how to use commonsense.

About the only constructive thing I can claim to have done today is plant a couple of rows of soybeans. After that my ankle was swollen again and I had to get off of it. I’ve had to do most of my canning today from a chair. Thank goodness that Alicia and Charlene came over while the guys sawed the down the power poles.

First they did them on the other side of US90, back to where the lines run into a junction. By starting at that point they can make the fact that we’ve cut the poles down less obvious. Lots of people are helping but few of them for no reason. They want the wood … for fire wood for building materials for whatever. Rand and others have tried to warn them not to burn the wood inside since it is treated but I have a feeling most people weren’t listening to them. The real “country folk” did but the “new country” people don’t seem to want to believe it and instead think people are just trying to keep the wood for themselves.

The reason I mention “real country” and “new country” is because I heard Uncle George and Momma O talking about it. It seems back in the late ‘00s a lot of people moved out of south Florida and into the “country” to get away from the cost of living down there and to get away from the memories of the bad hurricane seasons that had driven up insurance costs and things like that. They were playing at being “country” but were still very much city people in their skills … or lack of … and expectations and attitudes. The “new country” people also include the children of the “real country” people that live here but never learned the skills that their parents took for granted. The “real country” people are adjusting a lot better by and large, according to Uncle George, than the “new country” people are.

I don’t know if I consider myself “real country” or not. My parents were even though we lived in the city. I learned a lot from them and I’m learning more every day from their legacy of notes and stuff. Rand who was trying to get out of being “real country” has returned to what he learned when he came to live with his uncle. Every once in a while I catch him wishing for the way things might have been but then he looks at me and grins and says, “Nah! I think I like things the way they are turning out even better.” When he says that it always tickles my stomach and makes it go all fluttery. I’m not sure I know how to even think of things being any different any more. I sure won’t give up Rand just to go back and make things a little easier. I think my parents would have liked Rand … I’m not so sure they would approve of how fast we’ve had to move, I’m absolutely sure Daddy would have had a thing or three to say about it. But things are the way they are … and I’m finding myself happier about that every day.

August 18th – Oh my gosh! We just got the worst news about an hour and a half ago. I hadn’t planned on doing anything but going to bed early since tomorrow is a full day of laundry (Rand can seriously stink up some clothes) but Hoss galloped up and was spreading the news to be on the lookout for people maybe heading this way or even for fires.

When the wind blows just right you can hear the sounds of some kind of fighting going on and we’ve heard helicopters passing overhead following US90 towards Lake City. You know it must be bad if we can hear it all the way from Lake City, either that or its already moved out into the country side and if that’s the case we really are in trouble.

Mr. Henderson heard on the radio that the relocation camp erupted in some kind of violence after cases of some type of sickness began killing people. That’s all we know right now. We are double checking everything and locking down tight. Fraidy is up with me in the dormer room and Rand won’t let me come downstairs. He and Woofer are down there prowling around the house to make sure nothing looks or sounds out of place. We locked all the animals in the barn and put the roll downs on them which is something we rarely do lately.

August 20th – I told Rand I was going stir crazy and that if he didn’t let me get out of the house I was going to go nuts. He followed me around while I checked on the garden and watered what needed watering and while I pulled the ripe fruit and brought it into the summer kitchen to try and do something with. The apples will keep as long as they don’t get too hot and most of the rest of the fruit has already been picked clean except for what we can eat fresh every day.

The house is just nasty from being so muggy and closed up. Rand finally laughed after being so stressed for over twenty-four hours when I strung line all over the place and tried to dry out the under things and t-shirts that I’d finally had to wash because I couldn’t stand them anymore.

Mitch came by late in the afternoon and said there was still fighting in and around Lake City and that news of the riot there had sparked trouble at the Jacksonville and Tallahassee RCs (relocation centers). Not apparently as bad as what has happened at the Lake City RC but bad enough. I hope this makes them reconsider their stupid resettlement plans. That would be a load off of everyone’s mind I think.

August 22nd – Got word from Pastor Ken that Jared Harbinger had a fatal stroke. After the incident at the church service Ron had moved him and Julia into the apartment over the garage which was where he had lived before things went crazy. He realized that his aunts were just too much for Julia to deal with. She was sick constantly … really sick, not just sick trying to get sympathy and attention … and Pastor Ken said it was probably from the stress. Ol’ Jared had started acting even odder after that and then had started losing his balance and lost the strength on one side of his body. Pastor Ken diagnosed another stroke or series of them. But what capped it off was when he went after Julia and his own mother with a butcher knife. Julia actually saved Mrs. Harbinger by being brave enough to lock Jared in a downstairs bathroom after she had seen the woman come out of her house screaming for help. After she did that she ran to get Ron. Julia collapsed while she was in the middle of telling him what had happened. She’s OK but she’s on bed rest for at least another week just to be on the safe side. Ron found his father collapsed in the bathroom and his grandmother only mildly better off and being tended by his aunts. Long and the sort of it is that Jared suffered a fatal stroke during the night and even his own mother says that it was a blessing.

Also got word that Janet is sick again with some kind of fever. They had some beggars come around and come straight up to the house where she was sitting on the porch shelling beans. Uncle George is convinced that the beggars had something contagious and that she caught it because of her weakened immune system. I sent over some blackberry shrub that I hope she’ll be able to drink while she has a fever. Dear Lord, please don’t let anything happen to Janet because that will destroy Uncle George.

August 25th – There was a man in the orchard when I went out there a little while ago. I’m going to have a horrible black eye but nothing worse I don’t think. Mitch Peters had come by and was drinking coffee with Rand on the porch when they heard me scream. The man hit me in the side of his head with his fist and I haven’t felt very good since. I thought maybe writing it down would help but it hasn’t. I think I’m just going to lie down for a little while.

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