Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter 42

August 27th – Complacency. That’s what Rand is calling it. I think maybe it is more like wishful thinking. When really big things happen you kind of want to think that you’ve taken care of the worst of the worst problems and that you can take it easier for a while. The problem with that sort of thinking these days is that it will get you hurt, dead, or worse. And trust me, from a female’s point of view this is “worse.” Being dead is easy, living through some of the things I hear Mitch telling Rand that he’s heard on the radio would definitely fit into the “worse” category.

Getting married was such a huge event in my life. In a couple of days we will have been married a whole month. It seems like it can’t be but at the same time it feels like forever in a good way. Rand likes it when I say that last part. We both thought that getting married would fix the worst of our problems … that the land would be ours and we could then focus all of our time and energies fixing it up and just being together with no one to get in the way.

But that isn’t true. That is so totally not true. Every day things seem to get a little worse and a little worse. Oh, not between Rand and I, if anything that just keeps getting better in lots of different ways. It’s the outside world that keeps trying to get in the way of our happily ever after.

The riot at the RC was just the start, or the latest part of the start. Rand said that what is occurring now is actually a result of stuff that started long before the pandemic began, the pandemic just kind was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The beggars that came by Uncle George’s is a symptom of “the sickness.” That’s what Rand and I have started calling it … a sickness, decay, something like that. Rand lets his college education show every once in a while and calls it “the breaking down of social order and modern society as a whole.”

Rand will also go off on a tear when he talks about something he calls the entitlement mentality. People are starving and they’ll steal rather than ask for honest work for honest pay. They think they are somehow entitled to what they are stealing because it’s “that or death.” Being hard up or even close to death doesn’t give you the right to steal … it just means you have more reason to work harder and smarter.

Mr. Henderson is relaying news from abroad … anything out of our general area is “abroad” these days. Lots of real sicknesses from lack of hygiene and poor nutrition. Lots of fighting. Gang violence was very bad for a while but with the fuel and food shortages it isn’t just the traditional gangs anymore, it’s people just banding together to go after other people or groups they think have something more than they do and that’s the only justification they seem to need.

The guy in the orchard was the last straw for Rand. He says that we’ve both been trying to live what he calls an “idyll” but we are going to have to go back to the way things were before. He was pretty upset and was ranting while he was cleaning up my face from where the guy hit me. I was discombobulated and I thought he was talking about leaving because I had done something wrong. That’s when he and Mitch realized something was wrong with me. I don’t remember much but feeling woozy and being confused and upset and being scared that Rand was leaving. I kind of remember crying and begging him not to but it’s real fuzzy. Mitch rode off to find Pastor Ken and Rand said I was talking but not much of it was making any kind of sense.

Rand got me calmed down before Pastor Ken arrived and when he checked me over he diagnosed a concussion from where the guy punched me in the side of the head. I had a hematoma and he had to lance it a little because it was causing so much pressure and pain. I was lucky it was between my scalp and my skull and not between my skull and my brain. Things were a mess for a day or so but I’m feeling much better now, just still feeling pretty tired and stressed.

The only good news we’ve gotten is that Janet is on the mend except now Tommy has it and if Tommy gets it you can pretty well guarantee that Mick is going to come down with it. Uncle George and the rest of them are adding some height to their existing fence that faces the main road and they are adding a more heavy duty gate that will remain closed and locked from now on even though that will be a big inconvenience. Rand is talking about putting deer fencing … that tall stuff that is about eight feet high … around our home site. I don’t know where he plans on getting that but he says he has a source and then shuts up and won’t say any more about it. He and Mitch have been talking about it and how it could be pulled off without any more work than necessary.

I told Rand I didn’t want to live behind gates like in a prison but he’s still pretty upset that someone got that close to the house. Woofer had even been acting weird but Rand didn’t catch the signals until I screamed. He and Mitch said Woofer took off so fast he was like greased lightning. I don’t remember anything but something knocking the man off of me but Rand said Woofer had the guy by the back of the neck and was shaking him like a rag doll. Woofer is barely much more than a puppy but he broke the guy’s neck. Rand had to make him let go and then the dog wouldn’t let anyone but Rand near me. I remember telling Woofer Mitch was a friend several times before he would stop raising his hackles whenever Mitch tried to help Rand get me into the house.

Thank goodness by the time Pastor Ken came Woofer had calmed all the way back down. Woofer may be afraid of hens and roosters but he makes one heck of an attack dog. Lucky for me that Mitch stays in radio contact with the other patrols in the area and they had just seen Pastor Ken leaving Momma O’s place. Ms. DeLois had a fainting spell the other day because of the heat and trying to do too much. She’s fine now but that on top of everything else is making Rand try and wrap me up in a gilded cage … or something like that, I can’t remember how the old saying goes and I’m too tired to try and work it out. I can’t get any work done.

We heard from Pastor Ken that I’m not the only person around here that has had a run-in with strangers. People are locking everything down at night … and during the day too … as stuff is being stolen left and right. People are having their smokehouses broken into, theie barns broken into, more animals are disappearing, fruit trees are getting stripped, if they leave their houses they are coming back to find their house has been ransacked. Scary stuff. There have also been two rapes reported and one family was found shot to death in their beds.

It could be stragglers from the riot at the RC or it could be the gangbangers … though no motorcycles have been seen or heard in quite a while … or it could even be locals gone bad. Until the person (or persons) doing this stuff get caught we won’t know for sure so we have to guard against everything.

Rand is all over me about knowing how to use all the guns we have. I had gotten used to the Hi-Point because I carried it before Rand knew about the other guns but after I showed him I started using the Mark III because it used the same bullets as the Jr. Rifle I carry and because I just liked it better. Now he is on me about carrying the Smith & Wesson one and I don’t like it at all … it has more kick than the stinking Hi-Point did and feels even bigger in my hand. I’m trying not to be crabby but I’m a better shot with the Mark III. Rand said that I might be a better shot with the Mark III but even if I only get a body shot the Smith & Wesson will do more damage. I asked him then why didn’t he carry it and he gave me “the” look. That’s the thing about being married, we may be partners but sometimes there can only be one cook.

Of course he likes his Ruger P95 and when I asked him why one time he said it was because he could always hit what he was aiming at multiple times. Uh huh … so he can pick a gun because he can hit what he is aiming at but I have to carry a gun because it makes a big hole no matter where it hits. To keep the peace I’ll carry what he wants me to carry and I’ll practice with it but I don’t think he is going to be able to make me like it any better. And yes, I’m feeling crabby. I’ve got a headache.

August 28th – I reread what I wrote yesterday and I sure was whining. My head really did hurt. Today is the first day it hasn’t since the guy hit me. My eye looks horrible though. I’m so tired of looking trashy. As much trouble as I could get into before it never resulted in actual fights. I’m getting pretty tired of being on the short end of the stick.

Bill and Brendon came by and Missy was with them which lifted my spirits. She said she needed a breather from Uncle George and his fussing. She said, “I love my Daddy but he and I don’t always get on. Bill and I are building a little place for ourselves on the vacant lot right next to his but that isn’t good enough; he wants us right next to his house. I can’t live like that and he just doesn’t understand.” I can see both sides of it which is kind of strange. I guess it is hypocritical to see both sides of it for Missy and only want my own way when it is me. I better watch that or it is going to get me in hot water.

It was nice having some help and company. I know she is older than I am but we understand each other. She can be a little bossy but I think she just enjoyed being out from under everyone over at the Crenshaws. I understand her need to be her own person and I don’t try and tell her how she should be … and she does the same for me. She gets a little more personal that I’m comfortable with but just because she wants Rand and I to get along. I guess she’s sown some wild oats of her own but she seems content to be with Bill forever now.

The only oats I want to sow are the kind that will grow more that we can eat. Sometimes I worry … but I’ll never tell him … that one of these days Rand is going to wake up and rethink the whole marrying me thing. I don’t like to think about it but sometimes I’ll wake up in the night and I want so bad to wake him up and ask him but I never will. I have to learn to be satisfied. We get along really good and we have fun and he cares about me … the rest of that stuff only happens in fairytales and in those silly bodice-ripper paperbacks.

August 29th – Crabapples are in as are the dessert pears. The dessert pears are a whole lot easier to eat fresh than the “sand pears” like the Hood pears that came in like gang busters. Florida pioneers named the canning pears “sand pears” because they have a gritty texture to them. Momma wrote that there is a way to avoid the grittiness but I’ll have to find it again. The “grit” goes away after cooking so I’m not going to worry about it and since the dessert pears need to have something done with them now, I really don’t have time to worry about it.

The crabapples are mostly being made into pectin, that’s what Missy helped me with yesterday … at least when she wasn’t eating them. I can’t believe she would just eat them like that. They were so tart they nearly broke my pucker. You are supposed to be able to make jelly and crabapple butter with them but from the recipes that I looked at it takes more sugar than crabapple and I just don’t have the luxury for that so they are all being made into pectin. The chickens like them too and I heard today by way of Clyde that the hogs got into a fight over the crabapple mush that I sent home by the bucketful with Missy yesterday. Well, at least someone likes them. I get a shiver every time I think of the one that I tried to eat.

Rand is still keeping me close to the house. This Thursday the first of the lady’s get togethers is planned to be held up at that place where Laurabeth and Jonathon got married. I had to to talk him around to letting me go but he is really grumpy about it. He says that we ought to have more sense than to be trying something like that right now when things are getting out of hand and I told him it’s because of that that this will be the best time to do it since we don’t know if we’ll be able to have any more. I told him if he let me I would just ride Lou over there and he said no that he’d take me. But I reminded him that if he went there wouldn’t be anyone looking after the place and then he asked, “Are you trying to get rid of me or something?” I thought that was a really strange thing to ask and told him so. Then he asked if there were going to be any guys around and I asked him how should I know.

Later on I went back and told him that if it really bothered him so much I wouldn’t go that I didn’t want to upset him or ruin our peace. He looked at me funny and asked, “You really won’t go if I ask you not to?” I told him that was what I had just said and then went back into the house to finish putting away jars of cooled pectin. Then he comes in and tells me, “I don’t want you to not go just because I said something Kiri. If you want to go fine, but you aren’t riding Lou up there by yourself, I’ll take you.”

Guys are sooo complicated. I still don’t get … OK, maybe I do get that he worries that something could happen but the rest of it got all confusing. And what the heck did he mean by asking was I trying to get rid of him? I’d ask him but I’m afraid of starting things up again.

August 30th – Wow! I don’t know how he pulled it off but Rand didn’t wake me up when he got up and I got breakfast in bed. The only time I got breakfast in bed was when I was in the hospital or sick when I was a little girl and those times don’t count. He said it was a belated birthday present and to celebrate our one month anniversary.

I used to not understand how girls could get all gooshy about a guy and say “how romantic” in that sickeningly sweet tone of voice … but I sure do now. There was even a flower in a little vase on the tray. And my favorite granola and dried fruit was in a bowl and a glass of juice. It was all so sweet I want to remember this day forever.

September 1st – I had such a good time yesterday but I sure am glad it was yesterday and not today. Someone set fire to the building during the night and Rand said its nothing but a collapsed ruin now. It makes me so mad. Why did someone have to do something so mean? What possible good could come out of something like that? And we had such high hopes of having another meeting sometime in October when the weather had cooled off some.

Well, even if the building did go up in flames the things I learned didn’t. We all brought pencil and paper with us … Alicia was real smart and brought index cards. I wish I would have thought of that. On the other hand the paper let me scribble notes every which way and draw arrows and lines and diagrams of things.

One of the big things I learned is that there are other ways to preserve food rather than just by canning or drying. You can preserve things by lactic fermentation, in oil, in vinegar, with salt, with sugar, and in alcohol. Not all foods can be preserved by every method and I’ve got all these notes that I’m going to try and condense down into a chart of some kind.

I showed how I turned blue jeans into a skirt and how I’m cutting up really worn out blue jeans and sewing them together to make a blue jean quilt. I was also asked to explain exactly how I’m canning over an open fire and Alicia explained how to pressure can over a flame.

We did a big recipe exchange and I’ve got some really neat ideas to try out. I might even try sourdough bread if I can get the starter to make. If that fails I can make the easy Amish bread starter though that is mostly for sweet breads.

Julia came with Ron’s two aunts and grandmother. She didn’t look like herself at all. She tried to go be with her friends at first but the two aunts were right on top of her the whole time so her friends kind of drifted away. I feel sorry for her in spite of myself. I mentioned to Rand that I don’t think she is very happy at all but he said she got what she was asking for … a man with land, money, and all the other stuff she thought was important. The way he said it though makes me wonder if maybe he still does care but is still hurt by what she did. I wonder what would have happened if Rand hadn’t found out she had been cheating on him.

Oh boy am I tired. I had planned on writing more but it’s going to have to wait for another day. I’m sore from planting more in the garden.

1 comment:

  1. I have recently come across this story due to a reference from my mother. Good work. It is a nice read.