Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chapter Ninety-Two

Chapter 92

May 1st – “The bucket brings up what is down in the well.” Words of wisdom courtesy of Momma O yesterday at church. I think what she meant was that people act the way they are on the inside. Bad people act bad because they are bad. Good people act good because they are good or because they are trying with what goodness they have in them to immulate someone else that is even better.

On the other hand it doesn’t mean that you can’t let the mud settle and bring up good water. I guess that is why some "bad" people will occasionally do something good when they try hard enough. Oh geez, now I’m starting to sound like her. Guess you’d call it philosophy, southern-style. There are worse things I can do than sound like Momma O. And it doesn't seem that there is that much time left to learn all that she has to teach. I’m really afraid that maybe she might not be around too much longer.

When I was in the hospital in the children’s wing for so long after the accident I was pretty self-involved; but even then there were things I couldn’t fail to see and learn. For instance, a lot of the kids on the long term ward were chronically ill or even terminally ill. I don’t know if it was being a kid or what but you could tell when one of the kids on the ward was starting to reach the end. It went beyond being frail, we were all frail. Their skin would get this funny color and go all thin and stretched looking. The older kids would sometimes get mad, like they knew they were going to miss out on all of the stuff that their parents and their doctors had been promising them that the next treatment would help them to experience. The younger kids would sometimes get real anxious and worried about their parents and what would happen to the people they would leave behind; they were more worried about them than they were about dying.

Momma O seems to be getting the same way. I got a little cabin fever and finally convinced Rand to let me take the pony cart and go over to see her. Mrs. Withrow and some of the other Ladies’ Auxiliary were there having tea. Every once in a while she’d say something like, “I just hate to go and leave DeLois all of this work.” Another time she said, “Kiri, I’m setting you back some of the heirloom flower seeds. You can’t forget to stop and smell the blooms God sends. Now don’t you forget. I’ve got it written down just in case.”

I didn’t know quite how to take it any more than I knew how to react to the kids when they would get that way. I’m not afraid of death but I’ve lost so much – OK, we have all lost so much – that the idea of losing one of the first people to offer me any acceptance around here just twists something deep inside me. I know better than lots of people how inevitable and unexpected death can be and that it is no respecter of age or circumstances. It chokes me up even to try and write about losing her. She’s been like a … I don’t know exactly how to say it. Not grandmother, not aunt, not mother, not sister, friend yes but more than that, mentor yes but still even more. Maybe all those things and a few more that don’t exactly have a name … an elder woman that offered me comfort, guidance, and most of all acceptance when I had had none of those things in so long. She gave me hope when I thought I'd lost Rand even before I'd ever had him. She offered me a bit of dignity before I could name that that was what I was looking for.

Death is inevitable in this life. No one lives forever. But why her? Why now?

May 2nd – I was planting my last row of black eyed peas when we got the word. At first I thought it was Momma O after getting a look at Cassie’s face and I braced myself but it was something from left field.

“Kiri, when’s the last time you had an MMR?” she asked.

“A what? You mean the vaccination?” I asked, confused at first as to what she meant.

“Yeah. When’s the last time you had an MMR? Can you remember?”

“I had to have one at the beginning of highschool. Why?”

“Think. How long ago was that?”

“During my freshman year … maybe three or four years ago, I can’t remember exactly. I …”

“Are you positive?”

“Well yeah. I had to have a whole slew of boosters because they couldn’t find my shot records from the hospital and Aunt Wilma freaked out and took me to the County Health Center and they shot me up so full of those things that I was sick for two days with a fever and my arms felt like they were going to fall off. Hey, what’s going on?” I asked at her sudden relief.

“One of our ranch hand’s little boys broke out in spots during the night. He was at church on Sunday. Pastor Ken says that it is measles. A couple of other kids at the ranch are running fevers too and so are some of the people my age. I had a booster for college but not everyone went to a college that required it or their booster is out of date. Poppy is really worried and he’s quarantining anyone that can’t prove they had a booster in the last five years. That ‘s almost everyone. Poppy had measles as a kid and his mom was pregnant at the time. He’s youngest brother was born deaf because his mom caught the measles at the same time.”

Of all the things that could go wrong with this baby, that is something I never even thought about. Cassie went on, “Ken is going to be by later. You better keep Austin close until you know for sure. And ask Rand. I can’t remember which one of our old crowd was vaccinated and which wasn’t.”

“Has word gone out to the Crenshaws?” I asked thinking of them all over that way.

“If it hasn’t gotten there yet I’m sure the news is on the way. Hoss said he was going over to his family’s place and he has to go right by the Trade Shack and was going to post a notice there. He went on a mission trip three years ago and had to get an MMR booster before the church would let him be part of the group. We may have to completely lock the ranch down if it gets bad.”

I didn’t mean to but I was in the middle of cooking supper and when Rand came home with the thresher I ran outside and started bawling my head off like a lunatic. I guess it had scared me more than I wanted to admit. I finally calmed down and was just able to save the cornbread. The only bright spot is that Austin was able to tell us for sure that he was vaccinated.

“I know you think I’m just a little kid and don’t know for sure but I do. It was a big fight between my mom and dad. Well, it wasn’t really my dad so much as the Judge. See, Mom rubbed the judge the wrong way – she could do that to people – shouting about power to the people and Mother Gaia and stuff when he had ruled against her on something she wanted. The judge threatened to throw her in jail for contempt and then Mom started saying things like … well, not nice things about how the government was trying to poison us and stuff. Grandpa said that made the judge suspicious and he asked for all my medical records and when he found out I hadn’t been vaccinated he gave a court order forcing Mom to take me to the doctor or lose her parental rights and junk. So I got all my shots. Look, I even have a scar where one of them got flamed and infected.”

Showing us a small round circle on his left bicep Rand asked, “You mean enflamed Buddy?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess. Flamed, enflamed, it swelled up real big. Mom pitched a real fit and screamed she was going to sue the judge. It was an awful mess,” and Austin shrugged as only a kid knows how, like that explained everything else that needed saying. I should know that shrug. It wasn’t too long ago that I used it fairly regularly as my main method of communication when any subject was getting uncomfortable. Why do I suddenly feel like somebody’s grandma? Maybe because I have more to worry about than I ever thought possible.

Ken did come by and the first thing out of his mouth was, “I don’t want you to worry.” Like I’m going to be able to abide by that particular rule. I know that I’m not supposed to worry. Even if there wasn't my stupid blood pressure Ken had preached on it a couple of months back, how it was a sin and all that. Well I won’t call it worry then, I’ve just got a major concern over several items currently going on in my life. There, how’s that for rationalization?

May 3rd – More cases of measles. Laurabeth won’t let anyone near baby Stevie except for Ron. Alicia is running scared because she can’t remember whether she was vaccinated or not, probably not, Tommy neither. She thinks her parents took the religious exemption. Uncle George came around to check on us and he said they’ve set it up so that no one can get up to the house and even the Trade Shack is shutting down for a few days to try and break any potential chain of infection. Scary times we live in.

May 4th – No new cases of measles have been reported but Ken said until a week has passed with no new cases no one should let their guard down. It has me thinking, what happens to all the kids who never had vaccinations or to the babies being born now? What happens when someone gets careless or is exposed through no fault of their own? How many of us will have to pay for someone else’s mistake?

I looked in the old family Bible, the one that Momma inherited when her folks died. My grandmother lost two baby sisters to diphtheria. I knew that Daddy lost a brother he never knew to measles. Momma's oldest brother had polio when he was real little and walked with a limp the rest of his life. Lots of kids died before they should have just a couple of generations back. Polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, lock jaw that goes by the fancy name of tetanus … there are already cases of yellow fever along the Gulf Coast and Ken says we’ve been lucky not to have seen it yet along the river here.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ever going to be able to protect this baby from the bad stuff that can happen. Isn’t that a mother’s job? To protect her baby? But what if I do something stupid and thoughtless and my baby has to suffer the consequences?

Rand and I talked about it some after dinner. He’s concerned but there is only so much he can do. He’s trying to keep us fed and clothed right now and give us a little “money in the bank” in case things get tough this summer. Some out of towner paid him in old silver coins to thresh a truck load of wheat and while we can't eat silver it's been set aside for "just in case."

Rand seems to act like he only has ten weeks until the world could be coming to an end again. I’ve seen this calendar he’s made up. Seriously. I don’t have the heart to tell him that Ken thinks I might be further along because I’m getting so big so quickly. But I think that Ken has said some things to Rand that they aren’t letting me in on. Drives me batty.

Coincidentally ten weeks is how much time I’m “supposed” to have until the baby is born. According to The Book … that’s how Rand talks about it like it is in caps … the baby weighs about three pounds. The little spud has eyelashes and eyebrows and is supposed to be able to recognize light and dark and even track light it sees outside its momma’s belly. But it can’t come out and play yet, its lungs aren't near ready.

That doesn’t mean the baby can’t freak me the heck out though because I swear I thought I was going to have the little tadpole this morning. That’s why Ken came by again today. Turns out it was fake labor, these things called Braxton-Hicks. They are kind of like your body is practicing for labor but isn’t really in labor. Ken said I would know when it was real labor because it would hurt. Great. Just what I wanted to hear.

Now I’m off to bed and I hope that I actually get to sleep through the night. Seems like I’m getting up at least once or twice to go to the bathroom now. And last night I even had to wake Rand up to help me get out of bed ‘cause I had to go so bad. Talk about embarrassing. I’m not sure he was awake enough to do much good but give me a little push but it was enough that both of us giggled a little after dinner when I bumped my belly on the table trying to stand up. Austin wanted to know what the joke was. Wish I could have explained it but I’m not sure I understand what was so funny either.

May 5th – Gosh I’ve been so moody lately. I cry for no reason or turn around and feel mad for no reason. I told Rand that he might as well send me to live with the chickens at this rate, at least he’d get more sleep. Then he made me cry buckets by telling me he wouldn’t have me any other way and that as soon as the baby was born I’d feel more like my old self.

I hope not too much like my old self; I want to be better than that. I need to be better than that so that I can be as good a Momma as my Momma was.

For now though I’m just feeling scared. So much death around. Ken was right to have us wait on thinking we’d gotten lucky. The measles hit the immigrant camp. It isn’t the little kids that have it bad though; it is the college age people. That would be people Rand’s age or thereabouts. I’m glad Rand had his booster for college but a lot of his friends that didn’t go to college aren’t sure whether they are still protected or not.

Planted some more okra today but just about passed out from the heat. I can’t get away from it, it follows around behind me like my belly is in front of me. Rand came in from threshing and found me threatening to shave myself ball headed and run around without a stitch on.

He said, “I’d like to see that … the second part, not the first. I’ll go to the Trade Shack and see if they have …”

“No, don’t do that. It’s too late and too hot to do the mules like that for something stupid like this. I just need to lay down for a little while. Can you and Austin eat leftover beans and cornbread? I’ll make a salad to go with it but the idea of heating up the stove again …”

“We’re fine. If we want a salad we know how to fix it. You go lay down in the hammock.”

“I’ll lay down but not in the hammock. Last time I got in that thing I nearly didn’t get out. And besides the bugs will be out soon. Rand I’m sorry that I’m so slow. I’ve still got weeks to go and I’m not being much help at all.”

“Do you hear me complaining?” he laughed. “I might actually finally be able to catch up with you for a change.”

So I did lay down and I actually slept for a little while. Rand and Austin are taking a late shower to try and cool down themselves and then we are all going to go to bed. It just doesn’t make any sense to sit around miserable when we are this hot and tired.

May 6th – Hot, hot, hot. I don’t remember it being this bad last year. Filled the tub with cold water and just wallowed in it like an old pig. I swear, my belly works as well as a life preserver; could barely stay down in the water ‘cause I kept popping up. And no, I don’t find it funny at all, especially when I’m trying to climb out without help. Grrr.

May 7th – Church today but Rand didn’t want me to go. He told me to stay in bed for as long as I wanted. I got up after they left anyway but I walked around the house in as few clothes as I could handle. No one was around to see my scars and stretch marks so I thought I’d take advantage of the peace.

When the guys came home for lunch I had a cold garden salad ready for them. I also had some cornbread and cold buttermilk ready. Dinner was empanadas that Ram had sent over after hearing how much the heat was getting to me. The dirty rat seems to thrive on it. If it gets below 70 degrees Ram acts like he's going to freeze to death so the 90s are balmy weather to him.

But as it turns out I’m not the only one suffering with the heat and that it isn’t my imagination that it is hotter than it was last year. As a matter of fact it is hotter than it has been in several years. People’s gardens are suffering and it is only the beginning of May. There was a special prayer for rain ‘cause if this keeps up we are going to be in a lot of trouble before too much longer.

May 9th – Death, death, death. It seems to follow me where ever I go. You’d think after everything I’d expect and accept it more. But death is the one thing guaranteed to make me feel like fighting no matter what. Rand practically ordered me to bed yesterday. It made me so mad on top of everything else but I didn’t have to do anything because Missy frogged him in the arm really hard for me and told him to stop being such a pig.

She all but duck walked me into the bedroom, calmed me down and I somehow wound up lying down and resting when I hadn’t meant to. I was beginning to drift off when I heard Missy quietly leave the room.

“Ow!” Rand yelled. “Stop hitting me Missy! Once was enough already.”

“Shhh! You deserve it you idiot. You’d think you would be smarter by now,” she hissed back at him.

“Huh?” I heard him ask, more quietly than before.

“How long have you and Kiri been together? You really think she’s going to take the news about Tommy calmly? We’re all a little nuts over it but you know how Kiri is about the boys. Look at Austin and Mick out there. Didn’t you see her? The first thing she did was step between them and that guy that was with Ram and that was before she’d heard the news. I’ve seen her do it before and she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it. Mick told me one time that every once in a while she’ll call him ‘Michael’ like she is mixing him up with her little brother."

“I … I guess I didn’t think. All I saw was that she was getting … You know I worry about her. She can just get so … so …”

“Rand, she’s been through a lot in her life. And admit it, she’s a lot more capable than you want to give her credit for being. Not to mention that you’re just like Dad … over protective.”

“It’s not that. I love that she is who and what she is. But you don’t know some of the stuff … some days she seems so fragile. And with this baby she just seems … I’m worried Missy.”

“You mean you’re scared. Don’t you think Bill was scared before I had the baby … and a few times since. Don’t you think that Dad has gone slightly demented each time one of us get preggars? And don’t you think we all understand how what happened to Laurabeth could happen to any of us? Trust me Cuz, we’ve all been dealing with the boogey-men-that-could-be right along beside you.”

Rand gave a deep sigh, “I know. I … I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to her. And it’s not just because I couldn’t raise a baby by myself either. I’m scared what is going to happen to her if … if something happens to the baby. She hasn’t said much but … Missy, what if something happens to the baby and she gets so angry she wants to leave me to get away from it all? You saw how Laurabeth was. You’re right, Kiri has already fought some battles she never should have had to. What happens …”

I got the sense that Missy had reached out to Rand in some way. “You aren’t going to like hearing this Rand anymore than I like saying it. Sometimes there isn’t a thing you can do about the “what if’s” and you just have to deal with the “what are’s.”

“Easy for you to say,” Rand grumbled.

“No. No it really isn’t Rand. I don’t like admitting it but I’ve had to grow up in ways that maybe I never would have if I hadn’t met Bill and if the world hadn’t fallen apart. I would have been my mom all over again and that would have been a disaster. My step mom wasn’t much better either. She wanted Dad to be like he was and yet she never really appreciated it. Kiri … Kiri’s good for you. She’ll stand up to you without pouting or pulling that passive aggressive stuff that Julia used to. At the same time, she gives into you enough because she wants … well genius, in case you’ve missed it Kiri is afraid of losing you too. Look how she was after those Russians …”

“Yeah, don’t remind me. The risks she took give me worse nightmares than the beating does. Look, you’d tell me if she said anything about … about being scared or whatever? Right? I know I can’t protect her – or me – from everything, but I don’t want her to build those walls of hers back up. I think that is what scares me the most, something happening and her doing what Laurabeth has done.”

“Relax Cuz, Kiri has already walked that road and I think she’s got sense enough to pick a different path if ever faced with something like that again. I only wish I could say the same for Dad and Alicia. They are both so tore up you’d think Dad had raised Tommy was his own and he’s pretrified that Janet is going to go the same way even though that can’t happen since she must have had every vaccine known to man since birth. You know how Dad has always been about that stuff. Between the Vet for the cattle and the Peditrician for us kids, it would have been cheaper if Dad had just gone to medical school himself. And Alicia … she’s so angry she doesn’t know what to do with it all. Brendan took her out to the hay barn, shut the door and just let her beat on the bales out there to work it off. I think she’s got some of it out of her system but Alicia is one of the ‘still waters run deep’ kind of people and it is just going to take a while.”

Rand asked, “How’s Mick taking it?”

“About like you’d expect. I think Dad is missing it. Bill tried to talk to Mick but he’s just shut himself up. But Ron … I don’t know but I think Laurabeth asked Ron to say something and maybe it took because right before we came over here Mick finally sat down and cried some. I was beginning to wonder if he would.”

Even as I felt myself falling asleep while they continued to talk – my body betraying me again or maybe trying to save me despite myself – I realized that Rand really was a whole lot like Uncle George, in ways I’d never really seen before. He could be over protective to the point of making me a little crazy sometimes. Maybe Julia liked that, heck even I like the idea of it if not the reality, but it isn’t healthy and I’m glad I’ve put my foot down a few times … for both our sakes. And I have a feeling that Rand has put up with a lot from me that another guy wouldn’t have just like Uncle George put up with stuff from his wife. It gave me something to think about besides poor Tommy.

When I woke up the late afternoon sun had already run to the other side of the house and the room was pretty dark. I was disoriented at first and then I remembered. Oh God. Tommy. Poor Tommy.

He hadn’t been feeling well but no one really remarked on it. He is … was … so pale and fair and the heat never did do him any good. Everyone just thought that was what it was, and it may have been at first. No spots so there wasn’t anything to worry about, or so was thought. Then in the night he woke Mick up having some kind of seizure. Missy said that Ken called it a febrile seizure. Missy said his temperature went over 105 degrees F the few times they could actually get a reading because he kept having the seizures. Not even bathing him in fresh well water would bring the fever down.

There isn’t really anyway to say for sure but apparently Ken said that Tommy had one of the rarest of complications from measles – encephalitis. That’s where your brain swells. It only happens in about 1 in 1000 cases, but it does happen. That’s why measles can be so dangerous.

I asked them how they had known it was measles when he didn’t have spots. Bill, who had brought Missy and Mick over, said that Tommy had Koplick Spots inside his mouth. Those are little white spots that are the precursor for the red rash that breaks out on the body. I never knew any of that. It is scary how much I don’t know.

Today has been about like you would expect. They buried Tommy last night. I know that seems like a rush but what choice did they have in this heat? No funeral homes, no ice houses … the alternative is pretty well unthinkable for me. I had a nightmare about that house I got the food from when I was biking up here for the first time in I don’t know how long. I spent a long time in the bathroom puking when I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night.

Austin has spent a lot of time with the animals but I think he’ll be OK. He keeps asking me though am I for sure that my MMR is up to date. I think he is scared for the baby now. He was talking and talking and talking about being a big brother and suddenly he won’t say boo about it. I guess there is a lot of stuff we are all too afraid to talk about.

May 10th – Travel is still restricted in our community. We’ve heard that measles cases are being reported up and down the river now. The military has gotten involved. They are quarantining areas and blocking roads for all the good that will do. When people want to slip out and around, they’ll find a way. There is a lot of talk that maybe the pirates are doing it on purpose as there’s been some rumors that some raiding parties have kidnapped infected kids and they’ve just turned up in places further up or down the river, unharmed. Weird.

We are all sad but as unconscionable as it seems life must go on. We’ve got Austin and the baby to think about and the animals count on us too. Threshing has pretty much come to a halt so Rand has been around and has been working on our own fields for a change. We've had to do a lot of irrigating. Boy, do we need rain desperately.

I made Red Onion Jam today to use up some of those big, red hamburger onions that seem to like the back corner of the garden so much. I peeled and julienned three cups of those onions and then poured over them one and a half cup of apple juice and three quarter cup of red wine vinegar. The kitchen really stunk and Rand walked in only to turn around and walk back out again and say that he and Austin would eat their lunch on the porch if I didn’t mind and did I really think those fumes were good for the baby. I laughed for the first time in days. I’ll take onion fumes over cabbage fumes any day of the week.

Next I added one teaspoon of dried sage, a half a teaspoon of ground black pepper, five cups of white sugar mixed with one half cup of brown sugar, and lastly a half teaspoon of margarine to draw out the sugar in the onions and help them caramelize. I put the whole mess on high heat and brought it to a full rolling boil, added my pectin, and then boiled it until the syrup jelled. Then I put it in prepared jars and processed them.

Ram showed up for lunch claiming that he’d been following the odor of the onions for the last two miles. I would have thrown something at him if I hadn’t been so eager to hear how the Crenshaws were doing.

“Very sad. Very sad. But that is as it should be and now they will heal, even Alicia. She knows that Tommy is in Heaven and that she will see his sweet face again. That brings her great comfort. It will just take time … for all of us. The boy was … he was gentle, kind, and …” Ram turned away to blow his nose and none of us needed him to continue. Tommy was fragile in a bad way and I’d always worried about how he was going to grow up and be able to survive. I imagined Mick would protect him but that couldn’t have lasted forever. And now … I guess I’ll just have to add the why of it to the long list of questions I want the answer to when I see Him in person. Life just sucks sometimes and it’s rarely fair. I don’t understand why it has to be like that.

May 11th – Potatoes. They are beautiful.

Well, not really. Actually they are brown and dirty and give me the chills when I picked them up out of the sand without gardening gloves on but even so they’ve got a specialness to them that goes beyond looks. Bless Ram for sending these to me.

We aren’t the only ones in the area growing potatoes. Some people were smart enough to hang onto some from before the trains stopped running, but our potato field is the largest though nowhere near as large as we one day want it to be. If it wasn’t for Fraidy I doubt we would have had anything. She has done her job on the moles and we’ve got what looks like a fox in the area that has a den of kits doing a job on the ones in the fields.

We did have a few plants on the outside rows that got hit but not too bad. If the rows had been any shorter it would have been bad but like I wrote, we had enough that losing a few to moles didn’t hurt too bad. I’ve already got the dehydrators full of slices that are drying.

Alicia came by today to help. Brendon brought her and the baby and I think it did them good. Austin just hugged on her and hugged on her and she admitted that Mick had been doing the same.

“Kiri, part of me feels like my heart is broken permanently but … but another part of me? I have to say that … oh this is going to sound just awful.”

“Alicia, compared to some of the things that have come out of my mouth I doubt you could say anything that would shock me or be that bad,” I told her.

“Kiri, I’m … I’m relieved,” and she burst into tears.

Well, it wasn’t exactly what I expected to hear but I let her finish so that I wouldn’t put my foot in my mouth.

“It is like a circle has closed. I always worried about Tommy. He was … you know Daddy and the damage he did to … well … I was always scared that Tommy was going to turn out like our mother, unable to cope with real life. I’d see signs of it every once in a while. He was getting better than he used to be but … it’s like a circle has closed. Mom then Dad and now Tommy. Like a chapter has closed. God, I’m an awful person.”

“Alicia, I can’t even pretend to understand. I saw some pretty wicked things from the kids in foster care and well, life pretty much bites really bad sometimes. Instead of beating yourself up over being relieved, why don’t you just be happy for Tommy.”

This time it was my turn to shock her. “What?”

“You know, all that stuff that Ken is always talking about. Tommy’s got it, he’s living it. In Heaven … no tears, no pain, no worries, all of it. Maybe it would be nice for us if he’d been destined to stay here but, for whatever reason … Look, I haven’t got a whole lot of room to talk. I got really messed up after my parents and little brother died. I was awful mad for a long time. But in the end you can’t change what has happened and if you really love someone you … you want what is best for them. In this case maybe staying with us wouldn’t have been the best thing for Tommy. Life is hard enough these days without … you know … being unable to cope with … with stuff.” I shrugged too afraid of saying anything more and really messing things up.

We kept peeling potatoes, both of us lost in our own thoughts. I don’t think of my little brother very much. For one thing it hurts and for another … he was just eight and it seems so long ago that he was in my life. But for a little while I gave some thought to all the good memories I had … playing pioneer in his little red wagon, putting up with my Barbies getting drafted by his GI Joes, coming home from camp to find that he wouldn’t sleep in his bed and had spent the week sleeping in mine, the forts we built together, the holes we had tried to dig to China. He could be weird and obnoxious but he was my little brother and I loved him. I hope that Alicia has some good memories in there that she can hang onto and not just the ones where her parents were so awful.

In addition to the potatoes that we sliced for drying we canned several loads of the smaller potatoes. Even doing it outside we both were soaked through with sweat by lunch time. We’d made sandwiches for a really early lunch because we wanted to have dinner before they left for the Crenshaw place but we didn't want the guys to eat too much and then get sick working in the heat. By the time we had everythong on the table I almost couldn’t eat I was that done in.

We fixed mashed potatoes, cornbread, sliced tomatoes, greens, and for the occasion I fried up a chicken that had started coming at us claws first anytime we tried to get near the chicken coop. Rand said he’d never seen such an aggressive chicken; roosters yes, chicken no. She’d never really laid eggs either. Rand thought that maybe she was a hormonally mixed up chicken, one that thought she was a rooster. You get those every once in a while. I remember Momma saying, “A whistling woman and a crowing hen always come to some bad end.” Well, I guess for a chicken being dinner rather than the guest is just about as bad an end as you can come to.

After Brendon, Alicia, and the baby left I did the few remaining dishes and then told Rand that I was taking a shower and to call me when summer was over. I noticed Austin was pretty tired at dinner and sure enough as I passed his room he was a sleep across his bed. I hadn’t been in the shower a minute before I got company. There was barely room for the two of us in there at the same time but everything worked out to our mutual enjoyment.

Rand left Austin asleep and put the animals up by himself. He was a sweaty mess when he came back in and had to take another shower, this time by himself. I’ve thrown sheets over all the cushions. No matter where to sit or how few clothes you have on you still get sweaty. The sheets help some but not as much as I’d like and I think I’m going to have to take the covers off the sofa and chair cushions and wash them and pray they don’t shrink. I might have to wash the cushions too or at least try and rinse them. Everything smells of sweat and BO these days.

Tomorrow is supposed to be Baking Day but I can barely stand the idea of getting the oven going. It might be good to keep the baking to a minimum anyway. While we’ve got more than a little flour – both from our own crop and from the shares people pay for Rand to run the thresher and grinder – we need to be conscious of being frugal because just because we have it today doesn’t mean that we can get it tomorrow. I might do laundry instead, or at least our sheets. The pillows too. Maybe Rand will help me wash my hair. Maybe I'll just spend the day sitting in the wash tub if it is going to be hot again.

Or maybe I’ll wait until after the Swap Meet on Saturday. I’ve heard folks are real eager for Missy and Bill to have their stand open. The outbreak and then … then Tommy’s passing … has kept the Trade Shack closed for a while and it caught the community off guard. They’ve become dependent on the Shack for trade goods and for news. There will be as much gossiping as bartering going on most likely.

But now it is time for me to try and get some sleep, assuming Junior will let me. I’ve got a watermelon that’s a night owl inside me.


  1. Yay! moar story thank you! thank you!


  2. Thanks for another great read.

  3. You always have wonderful additions to your stories with every post, Thank you. I cannot wait to read more!