Author Topic: Story - Neighbours  (Read 9115 times)

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Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2014, 04:53:48 AM »
Chapter 19 – Where’s the beef?!?

 Jan lay down on her bunk and stretched out under her quilts. Who would have ever thought that a train bunk would classify as comfortable! Within minutes she was asleep and as she went under, she thanked God for getting them all safely thus far. Her subconscious registered the slowing through the border and then the train picking up speed as it sped towards the secured rail yard in Buffalo, but she was so exhausted that she kept sleeping, trusting that the soldiers would do their duty.

 At some point in the night, John climbed into bed with Jan for a snuggle. ‘Poor kid,” thought her brain. “He’s gone from me full time to me in a hundred directions.’ She pulled him tight and held on as the train rocked through the night.

 6:30am came early but they were all up with jobs to do. Sama and Andrea were coming through the door having milked the two Short-Horned Milking cows and the now thirty strong Jersey herd – twenty-two of which had belonged to the other families.

“That was incredible to do!” said Sama, “But we need help. Can we train John and David to help us? They are both steady and quiet and both have big hands.”

 “Good idea!” said Jan. “They both need a regular chore.”

The girls were pleased to report that they had been able to trade 60-gallons of milk to the base cooks in exchange for 25-lbs of butter.

“How did you figure that out?” asked Jan, still sleep addled but interested.

“Well,” said Sama. “A gallon of Jersey milk is about 8.7 lbs. We got 60 gallons, so about 522-lbs of milk. It takes 21.2 lbs of whole milk to make a pound of butter. So we had the equivalent of 24.6-lbs of butter. So we traded for 25-lbs of butter. The cook is going to make a hard cheese with it, so he was not so worried about the milking taking place in a rail car. He’s willing to do trades on the next two milkings, so we need to figure out what we need.”

 “Really great job girls!” exclaimed Jan the fog finally clearing from her brain. “I’m really impressed. Actually I’m impressed that you milked 522-lbs of milk and that you pulled off that exchange. If you can, I think we should try a pound for pound trade for flour, sugar and oatmeal.”

Sama strained the milk and then poured one gallon of milk into the porridge kettle and set it on the stove to boil. The rest of the milk was scalded and poured into the clean jugs and stored in the cold chests. It would be used for cooking throughout the day and any left overs fed to the pigs.

 Gail took over cooking the porridge, adding several handfuls of blueberries and some cinnamon. Lydie pulled down the bowls while Sally set the table. Mrs. Jones got the tea and coffee going, along with the hot chocolate for the littles. Heather had got the Three Amigos – Gordie, Drew and Joe, up and starting to dress. She had then taken the little to the bathroom while Mary dealt with the babies. Jan watched as the family began to find its feet as a unit, and found herself relieved. She pulled out her notebook and headed to the table.

 The older boys had gone out to deal with the rest of the livestock and coming back in went to wash-up before joining everyone at the table. Grace was said and porridge passed out. Each sweetened to their own taste, although Mary had to stop several of the boys from overdoing it.

“Okay everyone,” said Jan rising from her chair. “For those who missed it we have three new additions to the family. Inga Schmidt is 4 years old and she and her twin siblings, Hilda and Kurt are the only survivors of last night’s attack on the train. The attack killed 6 soldiers, and three other families in addition to the children’s. As you say your prayers, I ask that you include all of them.

“The army has given us all the livestock and possessions that belonged to these families. I know that the young men here were checking out the animals. Please report to me after.

“We are going to have to go through the contents of the baggage car at top speed. We’ve been given four hours to sort through the car starting at 9am. Anything we don’t take will remain here and be sold. Keep all clothes and linens you find. They may not suit us but they can be reworked or turned into something else. Fabric is in short supply and we have a lot of bodies. Same applies to shoes and boots. Any jewelry we come across needs to be handed over to the military. Any kitchen and food related items come with us period. We also need beds, mattresses, kitchen chairs, tables, dressers, sofas… We have to have furniture for 32 people to park themselves on now… Also, the Schmidts may have had personal papers. Please keep an eye out for them. If we find any papers pertaining to the other families, please give them to the soldiers. Martin, can you set up here to create and enter the inventory, so that we can figure out what we need ASAP?

“Mark, Tyler, Lydie and Gail – can you for please take the littles. I have been told that as there are families that live inside the rail yard, that there is a play park. Please head over there and let them all burn off some energy. There will be a soldier assigned to you for security. Erin, could you and Grandma Jones please handle the babies. Dr. P. will be here to hold down the fort and to deal with the military.

“In about ten minutes, after I have met with the boys about the livestock, we’ll head over to the baggage car. Please use the bathroom before we go. Now boys…”

Jan shooed everyone off to their assigned positions. She opened the note book and started a livestock page. They had her original herd of one Milking Short Horn cow and its heifer calf and her Black Angus beef cattle – five heifers and their calves (two heifer calves and two bull calves) and two steers that had been due to go to slaughter and needed to as soon as they got to Rexford. Then they had Mrs. Jones’ unrelated Milking Short Horn heifer and its bull calf. The bull calves had all been castrated. Now her heifers were due to calve in March and she thought that Mrs. Jones had said her heifer was due in late April. The Codys and one of the families killed had had small dairy herds. One of the other families killed had also had White Park beef cattle, a British Heritage breed. Also called White British, it wasn’t a breed she knew a whole lot about but they were nice looking animals. She hoped that the breeding files had survived.

 Jan wrote the numbers down and it quickly began to add up.
  
Cattle
 McConnell: Dairy - 1, Beef - 5 // Heifers - 1-S/5-BA, H-Calves - 1-S/2-BA, B-Calves - 3-BA, Steer - 2-BA, Bulls - 0
 Jones: Dairy - 1, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 1-S, H-Calves - 0, B-Calves - 1-S, Steer - 0, Bulls - 0
 Cody: Dairy - 12, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 6-J, H-Calves - 3-J, B-Calves - 3-J, Steer - 6-J, Bulls - 0
 Schmidt: Dairy - 0, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 0, H-Calves - 0, B-Calves - 0, Steer - 0, Bulls - 0
 Others: Dairy - 25, Beef - 10 // Heifers - 24-J/6-WP, H-Calves - 6-J/3-WP, B-Calves - 5-WP , Steer - 3-WP, Bulls - 1-J/1-WP
Breeds: S=Milking Short Horn BA=Black Angus J=Jerseys WP=White Park

 As the boys filled in the figures for the other livestock on the train, Jan asked Sama and Jamie to go through any paper work they could find to see when the heifers had been bred and what their relationships were. She was glad to have the bulls – one a Milking Short Horn and the other a White Park.

 Jan and Jones also had two teams of heavy horses – hers were Ardennes and his Belgium – and the horse-community wide debate over whether the two could be considered the same breed had been settled with both deciding they were not. Both teams were trained to the plow. The boys confirmed that there were also two teams of Clydesdales. The horses looked to be in good shape as was their tack.

Horses
 McConnell: Riding (R) - 3, Heavy (H) - 4 // Mares - 1-R/1-H, Stallions - 2-R/3-H 0
 Jones: Riding (R) - 0, Heavy (H) - 0 //
 Cody: Riding (R) - 2, Heavy (H) - 0 // Mares - 1-R, Geldings - 1-R
 Schmidt: Riding (R) - 0, Heavy (H) - 0 //
 Others: Riding (R) - 4, Heavy (H) - 4 // Mares - 1-R/1-H, Geldings - 3-R/3-H

 In total they had nine riding horses, which would be handy as they had no cars. Jan’s three riding horses had also been cross trained to pull a buggy and a sleigh. She had brought both with her. Matt admitted that their horses were strictly riding, but were great with kids. The other four had good barn manners and considering their stress, the boys figured they should be okay. They had no stallions in the mix which could have been an issue but considering where the community they were joining, Jan was sure they could find someone with the appropriate stallion to stand stud.

“Okay guys,: said Jan. “Great start here, but we have to go deal with that baggage car ASAP. Give me the notes on the other animals and I’ll put them in the book.”

Jamie handed over the other notes:

Poultry    
 McConnell Chicken - dual: 6
 Jones : Chicken: egg - 12, meat: 11
 Cody : Chicken: egg - 24, meat: 30
 Schmidt: Chicken - dual:6
 Others: Chicken: egg - 40, dual: 12 // Geese - 16 // Ducks - 12: // Turkeys - 4
 Total Chicken: egg - 76, meat - 41, dual - 24 // Geese - 16 // Ducks - 12: // Turkeys - 4

“Good Lord!” exclaimed Jan. “I really need to meet with you Eggie on these fowl numbers. We also need to do some planning on how many expect to eat and how we need to achieve those numbers seeing as we are headed into winter. Low light will really impact egg production.”

Jamie then handed over the last list.

Other Animals
 McConnell: Pigs - 1-S/5-F
 Cody: Pigs - 3-S/8-F 0
 Schmidt: Rabbits - 5/1 0, Dog - 1
 Others: Rabbits - 5/1, Pigs - 2-S/6-F, Dog - 1

“The only comment I have is on the dogs,” said Jamie. “I know that we need dogs but the dogs could be a problem as none originally belonged to ay of us. There is one dog in there that is an Akita. He’s gorgeous but they tend to be one master oriented and not great dogs around kids. I’d recommend letting the Army find it a new home. There is also a fat old Lab there. If it is kid friendly… We should keep it.”

Looking at the numbers again, Jan saw that they had eleven steers and nineteen fattening pigs that were ready to be processed. It was a mind numbing number, but worse was the fact that keeping them fed through the winter was going to be a problem and they needed that meat to feed the family. She was commenting on it when Mary walked by.

“We are going through Chicago. Why not have it done at the stockyards there?’ Mary said.

“Well now that is using your head!” exclaimed Jan.

“So,” said Jan. “Those steer are weight in at 1100-1300-lbs each. While stressed on the train, they will be arriving finished on grain for the past 2-weeks. So if the average steer is 1200-lbs, how does that work out Cody?”

Cody sat there with a paper and pencil. “Well if the live weight of a Black Angus is 1200-bs. That would give us a hanging weight of 750-lbs and a take home weight of 500-lbs. I know some of them are White Parks but I don’t know the weights on them but it can’t hugely different, so we’ll plan based on Black Angus numbers. On 11 steers, that is a take home weight of 5500-lbs of beef. Processing cost is usually around 60¢/lb, so about… hmm… is the price paid on the live weight, the hanging weight or the take home weight?”

 “Hanging weight,” answered Jan.

“Okay so 750-lbs per steer on average, times 60¢/lb, will give us… Oh wow… just a shade under $5,000..” He paused and looked at Jan. “Can we afford that?”

 “Not much of an option,” said Jan. “We need to eat and can’t process that many at home with the number of people we have. We’d pay far more than that if we had to buy it in a store”

 “Okay,” said Martin. “Now each steer will give us approximately:
 24-28 ¾” thick T-bone or Porterhouse Steaks
 24-28 ¾” thick Rib Steaks
 12-16 ¾” thick Sirloin Steaks
 12-16 ¾” thick Round Steaks
 6 3 lb Rump Roast
 24-30 3 lb Chuck Roasts
 6 3 lb Sirloin Tip Roasts
 1 Tongue
 1 Liver, and
 190 to 200-lbs of Ground Beef

 I can’t compute multiplying that by 11 steer but it should be enough for the family. Right?”

Jan looked at Martin. “Well if each steer gave us 190-lbs of ground beef, times eleven steer, makes for 2090-lbs of hamburger. Let’s assume that each hamburger is ¼-lb. So that would be 8360 hamburger patties. And with 32 people in the family that is about 260 burgers per person… I think that we’ll be okay.

“Now we also have 19 gilts that are at bacon weight. They are about 220lbs each,” said Jamie.

“Well a 230-lbs gilt will net you 165-lbs hanging weight, and 118-lbs take home,” said Martin. “Processing charges are usually about 75¢/lb. So we are looking at about $2350… On average, each gilt will give you:
 2 14 lbs Ham
 40-50 ¾” thick Pork Chops
 4 3 lb Pork Roast
 20 lbs Bacon
 6-8 ¾” thick Pork Steaks
 4 4 lbs Pork Hocks, and
 24 to 30-lbs of Sausage

“Personally the idea of 380-lbs of bacon can only be seen as a good thing.”

Everyone laughed and had to agree. Nothing was as tasty as Tamworth bacon. Again Jan was impressed with the kids and the breadth of their knowledge. All of them admitted that their apprenticeships had given them the space to grow both personally and professionally and all wanted to find something similar in Rexford.

 Dr. P. then came and joined them.

“Good news and bad news,” he said. “There are no longer any slaughter houses along the train lines in Chicago. Also given the armed camp mentality of the city, I wouldn’t push to stay. But Mary had the right idea and I did find a meat processor in Kalispell, MT. The Lower Valley Processing Company has been around since 1974. It’s a family run operation. The Sergeant is going to get in touch with them to see if we can truck the livestock directly to them from the train stop.

“Now the processor will wrap the food for freezing. If we rent a restaurant in Eureka for two months while the house is going up, we’ll be close enough to monitor that and care for the animals. We can then use the commercial kitchen to process all the meat and can it. We can also process any fresh vegs we can find. We can set our beds up in one dining area and use the other for dining and living in. There is a restaurant on 93-N at the north end of town. Since they are paying for accommodation until the house goes up, we’ll get the military to make the arrangements and we can go from there.”

 “One more thing,” said Mary. “We’ll need to order jars and lids to do this. There is no way we have enough and we’ll need a few more pressure cookers too. Why don’t we order them through the Walmart Super Center in Kalispell. With that size of an order, they can deliver them to the restaurant in Eureka. I’ll get with Martin and Grandma J and figure out how many jars we need.”

 ‘Excellent!” Said Jan. “Thank you for figuring out a way forward. Kids let’s get yourselves pulled together we need to head out to work on that baggage car.”

*****
“The two months we spent at that restaurant were a riot,” John told the rapt audience. “Literally and figuratively… It was there that pecking orders amongst the kids were established and my mother’s patience and boundaries tested. Dr. P and Grandma got married and we so proud to have been able to do it in the local Baptist church. We all grew up a bit and really let go of our old lives.

“Martin was the first to go. Once everything was canned, he went back to Kalispell to work for the Lower Valley Processing Company. They ran a highly regarded apprenticeship program and they were impressed with what he had learned. He was with them for three years before he came back to Rexford and set-up his own processing operation. He married a local, non-Amish girl. They had four children and he lived well into his seventies. His grandson runs the operation Martin started.”
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2014, 04:57:07 AM »
Chapter 20 – How far is that to Reading…

Jones was mostly asleep, when he heard the compartment door slide open. He felt rather than saw the two young soldiers rise and snap to attention.

“As ease soldiers” ordered the voice.

 He continued to feign sleep even as the person who entered nudged his feet.

“Good he’s still asleep…” said the harsh voice. “Change of plans men. We may need this one for a while longer. In three stops you will all get off for a stretch at Dowagiac, MI, and be met by members of the Michigan National Guard. You will leave our guest with the soldiers you meet and get back on the train. You will then get back on the train going east and rejoin your units. You have fourteen hours to do so or be marked as AWOL.

 Jones was fairly certain that this was not a meeting he was going to enjoy but he also figured there was no way that they would let him off the hook either. He wondered if the soldiers knew how unlikely it was that they would be able to rejoin their units in 14-hours. The time was designed for them to also end up incommunicado. As for himself, the only issue of importance was to let Jan know.

 When the senior office left, Jones pretended to wake up and then asked to use the bathroom. With nothing in his behaviour to cause suspicion, the young soldiers let him go on his own. Using the already stamped front cover of his paperback novel, he fashioned a post card.

Dear Brother Amos,
 My trip has been so interesting that it has been decided to extend it. Off on tour shortly. Arrival delayed. Return unknown. My love to the wife and boy.
 Brother A. Swallow

 He addressed it to Elder Amos Yodder, Olsen Hill Road, Rexford, MT

 As he left, he had to wait while an older couple pulled their belongings together to get off at the next stop at East Lansing. Obviously farmers who had retired to the closest town, they exuded solid comfort. Jones lifted down bags for them and even carried several to the railcar door. With his soldiers paying no attention to him, he quietly asked the older lady if she would mail a letter to his brother, the pastor. Mrs. Simpkins smiled and readily agreed, tucking it into her purse.

 The next day, Mrs. Simpkins stopped in at the post office in Gladwin, MI, and mailed the postcard along with two of her own. While she wondered if they ought to have stew for dinner that night, she never gave the postcard another thought.

 *****
“The postcard reached Rexford two weeks before we did,” John told the Committee. “Elder Amos Yodder held onto it and passed it along to mother as he had many postcards in the past. My father had all sorts of what he called super secret spy tricks that he shared with us. Even today, the postcard book is a common one we all use. Plans can change at a drop of the hat and communication is key. The simpler the better. If my father had used a cell phone or electronic means of contact, he would have been caught out within minutes. The less moving parts to a machine, the less there is to go wrong. A postcard to a drop box or person has so little to go wrong. My father’s post card…” John paused and held it up. “The postcard said nothing that was out of the ordinary. The only code was the word swallow. He used it because swallows always return.”
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2014, 10:00:24 PM »
Chapter 21 – Coup de foudre…

With the troops marshalled, Jan led them over to the baggage car.  Kyle stayed back with Dr. P, his feet and legs just not yet ready for heavy work.  Instead he took control of lunch, prepping the veg for soup and making sandwiches. 

One car was scorched on the outside but the open doors showed that there was no damage from the attack.  The other car was a burned out shell in the center with each end showing as crispy.  Jan sent Matt and Jamie over to see if there was anything that could be salvaged from the decimated rail car.  The boys loped over and hiked themselves up. Almost immediately there was a shout.

“Tante Jan!” yelled Jamie.  “There is a girl back here!”

Before Jan could even move, six soldiers ran past her.  With Jamie’s help they got her onto a back board and off the car.  Since there was no medical centre in the rail yard, they took her to Dr. P for an immediate assessment.

“She was under a pile of boxes.  We saw her leg sticking out,” said Jamie.  He kept staring at the girl and as concerned as she was, Jan had to smile.

Dr. P came down and checked her vitals.  “Breathing normally… Pulse a bit thin but steady… not surprising… Contusion to forehead but no obvious breaks or open wounds…  She is chilled.  I’d say that she was in the car when it took the blast and went down under the crates and boxes.  Being outside all night did her no good but her lungs sound clear.  So I say take her to the local hospital and get a complete set of x-rays, including lungs.  Then bring her back here.  We’ll pop her into a bunk and feed her up.  We’ll see where we are in a couple of hours.”

Jan could see that Jamie wanted to go with them but Jan put out a restraining hand.  “I need your help here Jamie.  You can sit with her later.”

He looked mutinous for a moment but then turned around and rejoined Matt on the rail car.  Two of the soldiers stayed to help them as they pulled apart the boxes.  In short order the four young men had cleared the car.  There wasn’t much left.  There had been boxes filled with shattered glass and china, inanimate victims of the blast wave.  But there were a couple boxes with clothes and one full of bolts of cloth and sewing notions.  Jamie felt pretty certain that his sister Erin would be drooling over those, and that Tante Jan would be pleased too.

In the back corner though, they found something that worried them all - a small suitcase, a box of food, a small camp stove with fuel canister, and a sleeping bag.  There were two garbage bags in the corner, one with neatly compacted garbage and the other in a bucket had obviously been used as a toilet. The boys made gagging sounds but the soldiers were impressed by the planning.  The suitcase contained several changes of clothes – all handmade.  So no identifying labels but the cloth was of good quality, the stitching even but the colours plain.

“The clothes are like those of the girls on our road back home,” said Matt.  “You know the Amish girls.” Jamie nodded in agreement.

“That fits,” agreed Jamie.  “But why is she stowed away?”

Meanwhile Eric and Heather had joined Eggie and Jan at the other baggage car.  Crates were pried apart, boxes and suitcases opened and the belongings of the other four families gone through. It was brutally hard and occasionally depressing work, and even when they were joined by the four from the other car, they were all exhausted by 1pm when time was called on the exercise.

In the end they had a pile of linens, clothes, winter wear, shoes, boots, several pairs of x-country skiis, quilts, several crates of kitchen stuffs, animal care products, books, school supplies… the list went on. They kept beds and mattresses, dressers, trunks, sofas and chairs, and especially kitchen chairs and tables.  They also found the Schmidt family bible and a box of letters and photos that they’d tuck away for Inga and the twins.  In glancing through the photos, Jan found one of the mystery girl.

“That’s our girl, isn’t it Jamie?” Jan asked.

“Yeah.  I think so. Is there a name on it?” He asked.

“Nope but I’ll bet Inga might be able to identify her.  I’ll bet she is a sister of Inga’s mother.  But why she is stowed away and not with the family is anyone’s guess but it likely saved her life.”

*****
"She was Inga's aunt, a young woman who had run away from her abusive father and sought shelter with her sister.  But being only fifteen, she would have been sent back and her sister charged with harbouring a runaway.  You know technically shunning was designed to bring a family member back in line.  Unfortunately in this family's case it was applied against the child and not the father.  Back when my mother was a child if a child said they had been abused a witch hunt occurred and the accused tried and found guilty before they were ever charged. Divorcing parents used the accusation as a means of getting more or eliminating the other spouse. Every man who dealt professionally with a child was suspect. The pendulum for dealing with these issues had swung too far.  By the time I was a child, the Province had declared the abuse of children a resolved issue.  So unless a child was killed or so badly abused they could not ignore it, it did not happen.  And anyone who claimed it did was usually incarcerated for slander.  Children had become disposable," John told the Committee.
 
"She and Matt danced around each other for a couple of years before marrying.  They then adopted Inga and the twins.  It would have been hard on my mother, except they built a house across the yard and they continued to live en familie."
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #23 on: March 30, 2014, 10:01:18 PM »
Chapter 22

Awareness seeped around the edges of Sarai’s mind.  She noted that she was toasty warm under heavy quilts and that she was swaying slightly in the narrow bunk.  A childish voice had been singing and cajoling her.  Tone and buzz formed themselves into understandable words…

“Oh! Oh! Oh! Sahwie… o be-u-te-ful Sahwie…
Yous de only, only one who Iz a-door…”

The child stopped singing, and tried…

“Oh my Sahwie… Sahwir plain and tall…”

Then with some irritation…

“Sahwie! Please wakes up.  Mein Mama und Daddy is gone to heaven and I needs you.”

Sarai’s eye popped open.  “Inga?” she said hoarsely.

“Oh Sahwie! Yous awake!” and the little girl began to sob.

“Is she awake Inga?” asked a decidedly male voice.

“Uh-hun. I means yes Jamie. Shoulds I go tell Tante Jan and Dr. P?” asked Inga furiously scrubbing at her eyes.

“Good idea squirt!  That would be a big help,” replied Jamie ruffling her hair.

“Hi Sarai,” said Jamie sitting on the chair beside her bed.  “My name is James William Cody, but I’m called Jamie.”  Jan came up behind him and stood with her hand on the back of his chair. “This is my adopted mother Tante Jan McConnell.”

“Hi Sarai,” said Jan. “Basic answers are – you are safe. You are still on the military transport train headed to Montana.  We are on the US side of the border having left the secured rail yard in Buffalo.  Specifically, we are headed by train to Whitefish, Montana. From there we are being trucked to Rexford, Montana.  At the moment you are coming with us. But we need some information from you. You okay to speak with us?”

Sarai closed her eyes.  “Where are my sister and brother-in-law?”

“I’m sorry Sarai, but you, Inga and the twins were the sole survivors of the rocket attack,” said Jan softly.

Out of the dark of the rail carriage emerged Sergeant Donaldson and Dr. P.

“Sergeant, we were correct in our determination that Sarai is the children’s maternal aunt.  We don’t as of yet know why she was stowed away.” Jan told the man.

“Care to explain yourself? Especially in light of the fact that we would have made room for you in the rail car,” said Sgt. Donaldson.

“I had to get away from our farm.  Mien mutter und sister arranged for me.  The Agricultural Inspector wanted a new girl.  For a while it was my sister, then she got too old. But she said she would never let it happen to me.  Then mien fader tells me it is my turn.  It is not right.  If I go to him we keep the farm but no one will marry me.  If I no go, he will take away our farm.  The Inspector, he has done it before.  That is why my sister’s husband was shunned.  He refused to let his sister go and they lost the farm.  That is why he married my sister.  He understand.”  Sarai was tired from speaking so much English.

“How old are you Sarai?” asked Jan.

“I am seventeen years,” she said.  Jamie smiled at her and Sarai blushed.  Jan rolled her eyes and the Sergeant smiled.

“Sahwie,” said Inga.  “Dis ist Dr. P.  He is good doctor.  He not give needles and he make sure my ouchies get better.  He needs to look at yours.”

Sarai saw the elderly gentleman and watched the respect and care that everyone gave him and nodded.

“Step back you vultures,” laughed Dr. P shooing the audience away.  Jamie continued to sit in the seat. “You too young man. Off you go.  I know that Jan has work for you, so git.”

With everyone moved out of the way, Dr. P sat down on the char beside Sarai.  “Now young lady,” he said.  “The x-rays showed no broken bones and your lungs are clear.  You do however have extensive scarring on your back.  Would you care to explain?”

Sarai nodded.  “Mein fader beat me when I did not listen and do as he said.  He also hurt mein mutter.”

“Thank you for telling me.  I will relay that to the authorities so that she can be given some options,” he said softly.

“Now we are headed out to Montana.  Do you wish to come with us or do you want to be returned to Ontario?”

Sarai put her head down, and then looked up but not at Dr. P, but past him.  She looked at Jamie and said, “I want to go to Montana with you.  I’ll pull my weight and help.  Please don’t send me back.”

Jamie smiled with relief. Jan and the Sergeant had to turn their heads to keep from laughing. 

The Sergeant coughed and said, “Good… now how many have we saddled you with?  And here is the million dollar question… if we need you to, will you take more?”

Jan groaned as she did the math.  “There will be thirty-four of us when my husband comes home. As for more.  Please not for a bit.  We need to get settled and stable.  But there will always be room at the table.  Why do you ask?”

The Sergeant grimaced.  “Have a kid from my hometown who keeps trying to enlist.  But he’s only sixteen.  He needs to get away from his brother-in-law.”

“Whose he to you?” Jan asked.

“My late brother’s youngest.  I have to get him out but I’m old Army mule with no home to give him.”  The Sergeant looked sad for a moment.  “Will you at least consider?”

“Let me get the house up and then send him,” Jan said. He nodded

*****
But, the Sergeant was not a happy man.  Something was off and he was not used to questioning his orders… but dang it all something was not kosher… He had been trying to find out what had happened to Angus Jones for some time. No answers.  Or, ones that slid sideways.  Or, suggestions that the family was a problem. Sideways talk… As far as he was concerned, Jan McConnell had been pleasure to deal with.  Straight-up and rolling with the punches, she had simply moved forward making decision of the fly that had serious long term repercussions.  He had heard from several others that the kids on their evac  turned the voyage into a nightmare.  No problem with this crew, and with parents dead and kids themselves attacked, they had every reason to be acting out. But somehow Jan kept them all moving forward.  His father would have called her a collie dog – kept the herd together and pointed in the right direction.

But something was off with the manner in which Jones was being handled.  He pulled out his off the radar cell phone… well it wasn’t off radar, it was just that the contract was in his married niece’s name.  He made several calls over the next hour to other sergeants on other bases and asked that they put their ears to the ground on this one.  One called a friend who was a Master Chief and the inquiry spread.  By the time he had reached Sandusky, OH, Sergeant Donaldson had some answers.

He knew who Jones was with, but not why.  By Elkhart, he had the why too.  The whole thing made him sick to his stomach and there were a whole lot of other unhappy people too.  Worst of all is that in the past hour both Jones and the soldiers who had been accompanying him had dropped out of sight and no one knew hows, whys or wheres.  He pulled out the map and looked at their route.

‘Oh Ch---!’ he screamed mentally. ‘He’s in Dowagiac, MI!  The Michigan National Guard has him…’

*****
“Stop! NOW!” shouted out a voice from the left side of the room.  William Edward Marc Mezvinsky, the youngest ever Vice President of the United States, scion of a legendary political family, stood up.  “This line of discussion will halted immediately.”

The room went silent.

John stood up, it took him a moment, but he did it.  He turned and looked at the Vice President.  The anger, fury and fear on the man’s face were perfectly evident.

“Young man,” start John. “Young man, you are not responsible for the choices of your grandparents on either side – Clinton or Mezvinsky.  The point of this inquiry is to clarify history and answer questions and by George, the record will be entered.  Your preference not to have it discussed is not relevant.  Major, does this discussion fall under the classified portion of the Secrets Act?”

“No Mr. McConnell, it does not,” replied the General firmly.

“Mr. Vice President, you may not halt this discussion.  Your future is your own.  Stop riding on coat tails and make a reputation of your own.  You are more than capable.  Take after your mother.  She was a fine woman once she found her own stride.  Now gentlemen,” and John looked at the Congressmen. “I’m going to ask that you excuse the Vice President from the rest of this session.  Young man, I suggest that you spend some time thinking about the role you are supposed to be playing for all of us.  Not just for the few that bankroll you or who are your kin.  You were elected to represent us all.”

To his eternal surprise, the Vice President found himself removed from the room and the door closed in his face.  It was the first time in his life that he had ever been told ‘no’ and it wasn’t sitting well.

... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2014, 10:03:05 PM »
Chapter 23 – the Windy City…

That afternoon, they arrived in Chicago.  Jan was just glad that they had reached this half way point without further incident and any further additions to the family.  She felt like a magnet for waifs and strays.  Sergeant Donaldson advised her that would be in Chicago for 24-hours while some things were dealt with.

“Where in Chicago are we going to be?” Jan asked.

“Well I am not very happy about it, but we are going to be in the Metra Rail Yard right down town,” he said.

“Terrific!” Jan exclaimed.  “If I recall the map we were looking at last night that is by West Roosevelt Road.  That’s only a couple of blocks from the Field Museum and the Shad Aquarium.  Any chance you guys can get us in? Usually you have to buy tickets weeks in advance for places like that.”

“Dang woman!?!” the Sergeant exclaimed.  “Does nothing discourage you?”

Jan looked at him and then said in a very precise voice.  “If nothing else I have learned in the past several weeks that nothing in life is assured.  I have seen my country invaded, lost my family’s farm and my husband, friends and families I have known a lifetime morph into people I don’t know, been adopted by twenty-eight children and two old people…” She paused for breath.

“The museum and aquarium strike me as better options than having to keep the kids cooped up inside the box cars all day.  Metra is going to be a busy yard and I doubt they have the facilities that the Buffalo yard had.  So running the kids down to the lake and blowing some cobwebs out is going to do us all a world of good.”

The Sergeant nodded.  “I’ll see if I can scrounge up some transport.  With the doctor, Mrs. Jones and all the babies, you can’t walk it.”

As it was now getting on to dinner, she fired Andrea and Sama off to do the milking with John and David as their apprentices.  Several of the boys went to check on the rest of their livestock.  Gail went to see how the horses were doing.  Jamie was still sitting beside Sarai.  The goods they had kept had been packed onto a new boxcar and it was now at the end of the train.  Heather and Mary had been in there all afternoon trying to sort out what they had.  Jan sent Sally to retrieve them.

Mean time she got down to dinner.  She used the canned pork from their lost hog, stir fried with onions, dried mushrooms and garlic. For colour, she added in some canned edemame. It was served over rice with two more loaves of bread to fill up the hollow legs on the boys.  Dessert was apple crisp, using the canned apples from this year’s crop, some flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and some of that hard fought for butter.

They sat down around the table and Jan looked at the bright, freshly washed faces and said Grace.

“Tomorrow,” she told the children.  “We are going to meet a very famous individual named Sue.  Does anyone know who she is?”

The guesses came fast and furious… movie star… singer… athlete… but no one could guess.  The children laughed and giggled and poked fun at each other’s ideas.  Finally they all gave up.

“Sue,” Jan told them, “Is a dinosaur.  More importantly, Sue is a 67 million year old T-Rex, and she lives at The Field Museum in Chicago.  We will be going there in the morning and to the Shedd Aquarium in the afternoon.”

The kids cheered and they began to talk.

*****
“Unfortunately, they were the only ones talking,” said John. “In a room lit by a single light in the back of a building in Dowagiac, MI, Jones was receiving blow after blow as they tried to get him to speak.  That he might not know anything about which they were speaking didn’t occur to them.  The Michigan National Guard was a machine of the Blue States.  Entirely separate from them, were the Michigan Militias, who were primarily Red.  Michigan was mobilizing its National Guard to go to the aid of their friends in Ontario.  Jones looked like a good source of information.  They were willing to do whatever they needed to get the information from him.

“There were many who understood that this action of assisting Ontario would result in Michigan having to cede from the Union.  A State cannot turn against its own federal government and not have it devolve into Civil War. For many the sound of fists hitting Angus Jones, was the sound that started the 2nd Civil War.”
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2014, 10:04:21 PM »
Chapter 23 – Sharks have teeth too…

“There is nothing like happy, laughing kids,” Jan said smiling at her mother-in-law and Dr. P.  The three of them watched as the kids ran around the main hall of the Field Museum.

When they had first come in, Jan had wished that there was a camera to record their faces as they looked at the T-Rex named Sue.  The older ones had been awed and talked about excavation and extraction techniques.  The little ones had been scared by the enormous jaw and teeth, and The Three Amigos had instantly become roaring dinosaurs, chasing around with all the other small boys who were visiting.  They were egged on by John and David, who decided that as much fun as it looked, they were too old and cool to participate. But, all were having a good time.

They also saw the whale and elephants in the same hall, and the display of the mummified baby wooly mammoth. Sama had sketched the totem pole.   They visited the vast collection of Native American artifacts. 

“There are twelve tribal groups in Montana,” said Jan telling the kids about the new state they were moving too.  The three Amigos were already shooting off imaginary bows and arrows as they hunted the little girls.  The girls squealed and hid behind the adults, peeking out only enough to keep the game going.

One of the docents helped find the artifacts relating to the Native peoples of the Rexford area. They were the Ksunka people – the People of the Standing Arrow, now called the Kootenai.  They learned that the Blackfoot and Flathead tries had reservations within a day’s drive.

“These were the original peoples of the area we are going to live in,” Jan told the children.  “It would behoove us to remember that the Kootenai now mostly live in Idaho because the terms of their treaty were ignored.  Just to the east of us is where the Blackfoot live.  They were the traditional enemies of the Kootenai.  To the south are the Flathead, Pend d’Oreille and the Salish, who were related by language, culture and intermarriage.”

They continued through the Mineralogy section and looked at the different types of rocks and minerals and how they were formed.  They then took the 20-minute organized Nature Walk.  The kids learned all about ecosystems and the sights and sounds of nature.  The staff was very good at directing the details of the walk to a Rocky Mountain ecosystem.

With the walk over, it was lunch time for them all.  They took their lunch out to the park between the museum and the aquarium.  It was a gorgeous sunny November day and thankfully the breeze of Lake Michigan was not too cool.  Jan pulled out a soccer ball, and Matt and Jamie organized the kids into two teams and they had a wonderful time racing about. She couldn’t believe how much energy they all had. As she basked in the warmish sunlight, Jan realized that this was the first day in which she was not operating on a panic level and the slower pace was good for her too.

The Shedd Aquarium was possibly even a greater highlight then Sue.  The kids loved the Polar Play Zone with is beluga submarine and penguin costumes.  One of the museum staff had a camera.  Kindly, she took pictures for Jan and printed them for her while the kids played. 

*****
John paused for a moment and took a sip of water.  “Here is the original photo,” he said.  “It’s a bit faded, but next to my family, it is my greatest treasure.  I’m in the middle row... on the left… at the end.”

The page took the photo and passed it up to the Committee Members.  It passed down the line and they all got a look for the first time at the people in the story.  Dr. P. and Mrs. Jones, Jan McConnell and the scrawny twelve-year old John McConnell… The gaggle of children smiling, happy and mugging slightly for the camera…

*****
In the Polar Play Zone, the children watched the otters and penguins play and slide in their enclosure.  The staff were kind and went out of their way to answer questions.  They even let John and David lend a hand feeding fish to the penguins.  The boys were thrilled.  They then went and saw the One World Show with is dolphins, sea lions and beluga whales.

It was a full day and everyone was brain-dead from the amount they had seen.  They were all dragging and grumbling verging into irritable, as the put their coats on and gathered their items for the bus ride back to the rail yard.  Before they left the building, they all split up and went and used the bathrooms.  They met-up by the front door.  As she was coming out of the bathroom, Mrs. Jones was met by an officer in full swat gear.

“Mrs. Jones?” He inquired.

Allison Jones looked at him.  “Yes, I am Mrs. Jones.”

“Would you come with me, please.” He stated.  Although polite, his tone brooked no argument.

“Why officer?” She asked, not moving.

“There is an outstanding international warrant out for your arrest.  Please come quietly.  If you do not make a scene, you will not be cuffed at this time.”  He said.

‘Ah!’ she though.  ‘This is the good cop.’

“Officer, can you advise me of the charges?” she asked.

“I believe that it has to do with the illegal removal of a child, your son, from Canada,” said the officer.

“Officer, are you aware that we did not leave voluntarily but rather were removed from our farm by the US Army?” Mrs Jones asked him.

“So I have been told you would say,” said the officer, clearly not impressed with her.  “But Canadian authorities have personally confirmed to me that there are no US military personal operating within Canadian territorial boundaries.”

Jan, worried about the delay had started to come forward when she saw her mother-in-law speaking with the police officer.  Dr. P. though held her back.

“Take the children out to the bus Jan.  Do it right now.  No arguments,” ordered Dr. P. “Get the driver to radio Donaldson.  I will keep watch.” 

Jan eased back.  She wanted to argue but knew that it could escalate things and they currently had no back-up.  She eased the kids out the door and around the corner and onto the bus.

“Sit.  NOW.  No talking,” she ordered.  “Driver get us back to the rail yard immediately.  Get on the horn to Donaldson and tell him that the Chicago PD is arresting my mother-in-law.”

“Yes Mam” said the young soldier.  He closed the door and eased them out of the bus parking lot as he radioed in.

The response was fast.  “On it.  Return to base stat. Who is still there?”

“Dr. P. and the mother-in-law” replied the Private.

“Will extract.  Prepare for immediate departure,” squawked the radio.

The five minute drive took eight with the traffic, but they had seen the army trucks arriving and the soldiers getting out as they left.  The bus pulled up right beside the rail car and everyone ran up the stairs.

“Mary and Sarai, please put the babies down for a nap.  Heather and Sally could you please wrangle the little onto their bed for a nap.  Matt, Jamie, Eric and Eggie – please go check on the livestock.  Sama and Andrea could you and John and David please go and get the milking started.  I know it’s a bit early, but we are going to be underway soon.

“Now children… I don’t have a lot of information, but the Chicago PD have just tried to arrest Grandma.  I don’t know the details, but it seems likely that they actually want me.  The Sergeant has gone to get it sorted out and we will be pulling out as soon as they are back.

“Now Heather, could you and Lydie and Gail please help me get dinner started.  If I haven’t given you a job, please go and play quietly.”

Jan was attempting not to show how incredibly panicked she was.  She tried to think about how Jones would feel and decided that in the end he’d be relieved that John was safe.

Twenty minutes later the train began to move.  Mrs. Jones, Dr. P and the Sergeant walked into the car. The children cheered and were shooed to finish tasks before dinner.

*****
Later after dinner, with the children settled and playing, the adults sat quietly with cups of coffee.
“I have to say Mrs. McConnell, that your mother-in-law was brilliant,” said Sergeant Donaldson.  “I felt rather sorry for the police officer by the time she was done. By the time I got there, with my men in place, she was…”

“That is quite enough,” said Mrs. Jones.  “I just pointed out to him that as a mature woman in my early sixties, I was scarcely in a position to have a child young enough to fall under the draconian Canadian law that prevented the removal of a child from Canada.  I advised that my son was in his thirties and that since he had left with the US army, I did not know his whereabouts.”

“By the time she was through with him,” said Dr. P.  “The man was apologizing for having bothered her.  But she did walk out the door under her own power.  We then got into a truck driven by a soldier and came right back here.

“Sergeant, there are two things that concern me.  The biggest one is how did they know where we were.  Not that we were in Chicago.  That could, I suppose, be determined by available routes. But the Aquarium… it was a very small circle of people who knew what was planned.  I don’t know what else is going on but you need to take a good look at your staff. Someone is talking…”

“Sadly, I would concur,” agreed Donaldson.  “There are a couple of developments underway that impact us and part of why we are screaming out of town as fast as this train will go.  Trains are great for large scale mass transport, like we are doing with the families from your area, and areas across the Province.  The problem is that they can easily be stopped, and we need to be clear Minnesota within 15 hours.  It should not take us longer than 13-hrs 30-min to get to Fargo.  It’s another hour and a quarter to Grand Forks but we are still along the state border.  The next station is another hour and a quarter west in Devils Lake, ND.  I hope that will put us far enough west.

“Mrs. McConnell… initially this train was supposed to go through Windsor and your husband was to meet us in Detroit.  Due to the increased insurgency in the south western part of Ontario, we went through Buffalo.  When the train did not arrive, your husband was supposed to be brought to Chicago to meet up with us.  Half way through Michigan, he and the soldiers guarding him were removed from the train.  We believe they are now being held by the Michigan National Guard.”

“He’s okay then?” Asked Jan.

“We don’t know,” said the Sergeant bluntly.  “Our orders to go into Canada came through the correct channels and with the full support of both houses and the President.  However not all the states are in agreement.  Do you understand the Blue/Red divide amongst our states?  Well, Michigan is a blue state. And they have decided that the US Federal government has overstepped its bounds in going into Canada. So, Michigan is mobilizing their National Guard to go in and assist Canada, and Ontario in particular.  Where one Blue State goes, we presume that the others will follow.  So we need to get through Wisconsin and Minnesota before tomorrow morning.  We should be safe once we reach North Dakota.  It being a Red State.

“The issue that you brought up Dr. P. is a big one.  When you join the US Army you are not asked your political affiliations and military units are not comprised of only one or the other, so it is possible that a Blue in our unit is talking to someone.  That will be dealt with.”
*****
“So the race was on again,” John told the attentive audience. “Once it was us praying that the US Army would save us. Now the US Army was praying that they could do the same.  You know in this world, we are never given guarantees.  In Jerimiah 29, it says only that the Lord has great plans for us, plans that will prosper us and that He will not harm us.  There is no guarantees that we will not face hard times.  You can only pray that in the end.

“Our engineer, a fine man we were pleased to meet many years later, ran that train flat out.  Men and women we would never meet kept the lines clear, and the switches in the right order, and really, we almost made it.  Or rather I should say that we did make it to Fargo, but as dawn came, we still had to get through Grand Falls.”

... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2014, 08:48:52 PM »
Chapter 24 – The danger of the thinking man…

The Police Office Todd Stewart was not a happy man.  He had returned to his station without the woman.  He had been embarrassed that she had been so easily and logically able to refute the information he had.  She was obviously not the mother of a young son.  Her driver’s license clearly showed her to be in her early sixties.  He had even looked at the photos in her wallet.  They showed her with a young woman, obviously a grown daughter, and her two girls in their teens.  There was also a small studio photo of a young man on his own, who looked identical to the older man in the photo with the woman.  The obituary clipping indicated that the man had died several years prior. 

He sat down at this desk and looked again at the arrest warrant.  He was going to have to give his boss an explanation in short order.

Looking more closely, he saw something that was off.  It had to do with the number calling in the warrant.  It was a 269 number with a 782 pefix…  That wasn’t a Canadian number.  Now 269 was a south west Michigan area code for the areas around Battle Creek, Bedford, Dowagiac, Kalamazoo and Portage.  But the 782 prefix was for Dowagiac only…  Why would a call be originating from there… 

Then he began to look again at the warrant.  He pulled out another warrant, and held them up to the light… slightly different spacing… colour slightly off… no batch number I the bottom left corner… It was  laser printed so had come in as a pdf document. This had not come over the wire as usual. He could only conclude that the warrant was fake.  But why?

Also he hadn’t done any foot work on this. He’d been given the woman’s name and been told that they would be at the Aquarium in the afternoon.  Who in Michigan would have known precisely where the woman was at that time…  A private message flashed up on his screen.  Time to go face is boss…

He arrived in the office one floor up and was surprised to see his union rep there.  He was not offered a seat and the axe fell swiftly.  There were a litany of complaints from the Chief and normally none of them would amount to a hill of beans, let alone involve his union rep, but apparently the failure to apprehend the woman was the crux.

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” finished off the Chief.

“Yes,” said the Officer Stewart.  “I want the record to show that the woman was not the one identified on the warrant and that the warrant itself was a fake issued not in Canada but from the National Guard base in Dowagiac, MI.”

The Police Chief looked at him.  “Request for the record to show… denied. You will clear out your desk and leave within 20-minutes.  You will be escorted to the door.  Hand over your gun and badge. Wait outside the door.”

The Stewart did as requested.  He felt naked without a gun.  Thankfully he had several unpapered ones at home.

The Union Rep was not a happy man.  He hated sacrificial goats and knew one when he saw him.
“Change is in the air,” the Police Chief said.  “I can’t afford independent thinkers any more.  There will be a few more to cull.  Too bad in a way they were good officers but I am going to need men who do what I tell them. We’ll deep six him tonight.”

“Unfortunate move...  That one was so clean he squeaked. I’ll finish him here,” said the rep.

Outside the door, the former police officer waited. 

When he was joined by the rep, there was no talk beyond the clear out your desk and quietly under his breath, “Do not talk in here. Will tell you outside.”

Todd Stewart had his desk cleared out in ten minutes.  His former colleagues stayed well away.  Even his partner would not speak to him.  That one hurt but he wasn’t surprised the man had to work here still.  As they left the building, other officers drifted to the door.  It was an unspoken goodbye and Todd appreciated it.

Outside by his car, his rep only said “Get in and drive to Louis’.”

Todd drove over to the bar frequented by his precinct.  There out of line of the cameras, the union rep swept the car and removed two homing devices and three listening devices.

“Okay,” said the man.  “Best I can do.  Here’s a letter from your partner.  I have not opened it.  I can’t afford to know the contents.  I am not sure what is going on but there are a number of you who are about to be let go. None of you should have been but there seems to be no recourse on it. The Union is just trying to minimize the potential issues, so we are helping as we can.  You have about five hours to get out of town before this termination will become permanent. Kapeesh. Do you have somewhere you can go?”

Todd nodded.

“Good, I am not going to ask.  I’ve called Ginny’s work place and arranged for her to be terminated without cause.  I have also directed your pension to be issued to her as your severance pay, so that you have start-up money.  Her company is doing the same thing.  Spend it wisely.  You know what I mean.  She should be home now.  Cash those cheques and take cash only.  Cut up your credit cards and give me your cellphone.  Get Ginny to leave her’s behind too.  At your house is an old horse trailer. I used $800 of your money to buy it.  Owner has left his plates on it.  Now get out of here.  Time is really ticking for you.”

Todd shook the man’s hand and got into his car.  Quickly he opened the letter.

Hey T-man,
Just got orders for a drug raid.  The address is yours.  Not sure what is going on but if I can extract, will meet you as discussed.
K


Four and a half hours later, Todd and Ginny Stewart and their Akita, Max, were past Marengo heading to Rockford on Hwy 20.

Five hours after Todd’s abrupt dismissal, the SWAT team came through his front door with a battering ram.  It had not been necessary as the door was not locked and the key in it.  The three teens smoking crack in the living room died in a hail of bullets.  Three hours after their faces and names and an image of 6 bricks of cocaine, baggies full of pills and scales were shown on the news. 

By that time Todd, Ginny and Max, were sitting in their dog-friendly Days Inn motel room in Fort Dodge, Iowa, wondering what the heck had just happened.


*****
In a cell in the police station in Dowagiac, two young soldiers were wondering the same thing. They were being held for drunk & disorderly and assault & battery of a man in bar.  The fact that neither had a scratch on him, or had a blown a positive result for alcohol, nor could the bar tender remember their being there, or the cameras show their presence, or the assaulted man remember seeing them… None of that could save them from a 15-day sentence.  They were not permitted a telephone call or a lawyer.  Their failure to contact or return to their unit resulted in a warrant for being AWOL being issues.

One of the guards at their prison unit they were sent to was puzzled. Neither man was a disciplinary issue, nor had either committed the type of crime that would warrant their being in a high security unit. And yet both men were being held in isolation.  He spoke with them and could see their dismay and confusion and their concern for each other. The other inmates kept telling him that there was something about them. He did the unacceptable and checked them out.  What he found made him do the career ender.  He sent a letter to the man who they claimed to be their commanding officer.  Surprisingly it reached him – along with full copies of the arrest, charges, court case and incarceration.

At the end of the fifteen-day sentence, their commanding officer was waiting for them at the prison gates.  It was December 1st, and they had to admit that they had no idea where Jones was or who had him.  All they could remember was getting off the train as directed in Dowagiac.  They had walked into the train station and woken up in a jail cell.

Their commanding officer looked at them.  “Who changed your orders to get off before Chicago?”

They all looked at each other and then at the sign for Dowagiac, MI.  They left in the opposite direction.

*****
“Winter was coming in Ontario,” John said. “In more ways than the literal.  All the farmers that wanted to leave Ontario were be moved out by December 15th.  Also gone were most of the people with heritage skills.  Villages across the rural US bid for blacksmith and ferries. Anyone else who wanted to leave to build a life where honest work gave honest reward had been given safe passage. The ones left expected bread and circuses. 

“The people of Ontario woke up on December 16th to find that they were largely on their own.  That was all fine and well until they tried to leave.  Suddenly Canadian passports were no longer accepted at the US border and no one was coming north.  Planes could not take off.  A chain-link fence now ran along the Manitoba/Ontario border.  Access to all Ontario residents denied, not that many headed that directions.  Few went to Quebec either even though technically the border was open.  An inability to speak French kept that access closed. Quebec balkanized as New France re-emerged long the St. Lawrence River Valley.  The Native population to the north of the Laurentians closed off access and turned off the taps to the James Bay Hydro Project.  They were backed up by the US Marines.  The copper and gold mines and the copper smelter at Noranda-Rouyn and Val d’Or were now being run to US benefit.

“Stores began to close as stock was cleared out.  In the Federal Parliament buildings in Ottawa, the voices were loud.  In Toronto at the Legislative Assembly there was a great deal of squawking.  But nothing compared to the squawking the happened as people began to find their cupboards empty.  The Daily Bread Food Bank showed its empty warehouses on television, but people still broke in.  Churches had to halt their Soup Kitchens as there was nothing to feed anyone with.  Gangs of men went hunting for the farmers but found the family farms vacant – to the ground.  Only empty cellars remained.  The large commercial farms were desperate for employees.  They had never recognized how dependent they were on smaller producers for the things that made their farms work.  They began to take over the small farms and the gangs of hungry became chain-gang labour on the new farms.  Anything for a piece of daily bread…

“In Bobcaygeon, the diary had become an armed camp.  Milk deliveries became intermittent and people stole cows out of fields because they were hungry and someone owed them.  Finally the dairy closed.  Then the village turned the Ravens and their kin out.  They were put on the road where they joined hundreds of other wandering peoples.  My cousins had long ago vanished into the maelstrom created by the schools.  My uncle was killed in a brawl near the US border.  With nothing left to loose, my aunt walked up to a US border guard.  She told them that her mother and brother had gone to Rexford, MT, and she wanted to join them.  She told them that she had the money for the bus fare.

“She would probably still not have got across the border except for one of those strange coincidences that happen.  Now I am not a fan of coincidence, I’d rather think that occasionally our Heavenly Father answers a prayer for us.  The Lt. J.A. Ferguson, who had now risen to the rank of Captain, who had coordinated our move from the farm was with his unit, preparing to deal with another border skirmish, was in the guard post and heard the story. He got her through and put her on the bus.

“It took her 38-hours on that bus, not including a few stop overs.  But she made it to Rexford.  For a while she lived with my grandmother and Dr. P.  Eventually though the not knowing about her own kids made her go back.  She vanished into the mess that Ontario became and we all lost track of her.  About sixty years ago, three young women came here.  They were looking for their great grandmother’s grave.  Eventually, we determined that they might be Becky’s grandchildren, but they didn’t have any proof, only disjointed stories told by their mother of a magical place called Bobcaygeon, a dairy and a family named Raven.”
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 08:50:19 PM by Lake Lili »
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

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Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2014, 08:51:05 PM »
Chapter 24 – Unity and Kindness…

Grand Forks was an adventure.  The train pulled into the Grand Forks rail yard in the early morning hours.  As a community it has more than 50,000 people strung around the confluence of the Red Lake and Red Rivers.  From there the Red River floods its way north across the border into Manitoba, devastating communities like Winnipeg on a regular basis before emptying into Lake Winnipeg.

Sergeant Donaldson had been monitoring the airwaves and all was calm for the minute.  The Michigan National Guard was in the process of standing up, but they had not moved yet.  There was no sign of movement amongst the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard.  The polarization between Blue and Red over the previous century made for uncertainty… There was something in the wind but there was no strength as of yet behind the whisper… but as Donaldson said, all of it above his pay grade.

After much discussion it was decided that they would take some of their pooled resources and hit the Walmart.  The Walmart on 32nd Street South was a 24-hour Super Center.  Jan, Mrs. Jones, Heather and Sarai prepared to go, with Matt, Jamie and two soldiers as guards.  Mary had volunteered to stay behind with Dr. P.  Sama, Andrea, Eric and Eggie were awaiting the delivery of feed for the animals.  They had contacted the manager of the UAP store on South Washington the night before. 

Mr. & Mrs. Nikells, who owned and managed the UAP, and whose sons had both served in the Sandbox, were pleased to assist with another military venture.  As the train pulled in, the Nikells were there in the rail yard with fresh straw, hay, chicken feed and some treats that Mrs. Nikells had made for the children.  They also brought 500-lbs of dent corn, 500-lbs of oats, and 500-lbs of red wheat berries. All of it untreated and fit for human consumption.  Additionally, they brought three boxes of canned goods donated by the Ladies at the First Presbyterian.  Jan was practically in tears and she and Mrs. Nikells exchanged addresses and promised to stay in touch.

“What else do you need to get here in town?” she asked Jan.

“We need to go to Walmart and also if there is a thrift store… the kids are really short of clothes, especially with winter coming on,” Jan replied.

“Al!” called Mrs. Nikells.  “Get on the horn and roust Jacob out of bed.  My nephew is the Service Manager over at the Walmart, he’ll get you a couple of associates so that you can whip through there.  The Sally Ann is located just south of the Walmart and the manager, JJ North, is a friend of ours.  While Al is calling Jacob, let me get JJ.”

Mrs. Nikells whipped out her cell phone and began dialing.  “How do Lucy girl.  Is your daddy around? [pause while she waits] JJ honey it’s Mary Lou Nikells.  I’ve got a nice young woman here who is part of that evac from up north and she’s on her way to Montana and ended up with 27 orphans in addition to the one of her own.  Can we get some cloth to cover these bodies?  Jacob is going to get her some canning supplies from Wally-world and he’ll give her a discount or I’ll take a broom to him.

She paused for a breath and JJ finally got a word in edgewise.

“Oh you do?”  Mary Lou Nikells covered the phone.  “Jan, dear, he has three pressure cookers that have screw-down lids do you want them?  They’ll be about $5 each.”

“Yes, please!” said Jan unaware that her eyes were shinning.

“They also have five flats of pint jars… [she paused and listened again] and a whole bunch of winter clothes and boots for the kids.  Okay we are leaving here for Walmart in about 10 minutes.  With what they need, we should be clear of there by 6:30am.  Can you have the store open?  Can Maj. Lynn be there?  I know she would appreciate being able to meet Mrs. McConnell and fellowship with her, although the Sergeant here is giving me the eye, so we can’t be too long.”

In her own way, Mary Lou Nikells was as efficient and effective as Sgt. Donaldson.  He later admitted that the US Army could do with a few like her.

‘Well that was an experience!’ thought Jan, thinking of the royal treatment they got at Walmart.  Mary Lou and Al’s nephew, Jacob, was a pleasant, almost earnest young man who was clearly in terrified awe of his aunt as she swept them through the store. She drove a hard bargain.  And with all the stock coming from the back rather than off the shelves, she got everything for them at 10% over wholesale cost with half of the cost over wholesale being donated to the First Presbyterian Church.

They bought 500-lbs of rice, 1000-lbs of white sugar and 500-lbs of brown.  It was while they were loading up on yeast, baking powder and baking soda the Mrs. Jones turned around and bumped into a man who had appeared unexpectedly behind her.  He obviously had not expected her to  move either as he was turned talking to another woman.  They looked at each other and while he looked shocked, Mrs Jones let out a squeal of terror.  The soldiers came running and the man found himself slammed against the floor.  This time the squeal of terror came from the other woman.

“It’s him!” Mrs. Jones kept saying.  “He’s the one!”

“The one what?” asked Jan.

“That’s the policeman who tried to arrest me in Chicago?  Why is he following us?” sobbed Mrs. Jones, panic swamping terror.

The woman grabbed at Mrs. Jones.  “You’re the reason!” she spat.  “You’re the reason we’ve lost everything!”

Jan and Jamie pulled them apart.

“Mam,” said Jamie politely.  “I don’t know who you are.  But some policeman tried to arrest my grandmother for illegally removing her son from Canada.  Her son is 35-years old.  It got sorted out and we left Chicago.  We had no further contact with the police and have no idea what you are talking about.”

The soldiers had lifted Todd Stewart to his feet.

“Young man,” said Todd.  “I was given a warrant to execute and told to make an arrest.  As you know nothing about your grandmother fit the warrant and so I released her and returned to the precinct.  I then determined that the warrant was fraudulent.  Despite that it was determined that I had somehow failed in my duties and was terminated.  The Union Rep assisted us but told us to amscram asap.  Several hours after we departed, my precinct conducted a drug raid on our former home and killed three kids.  Ginny has lost her home and job and everything we could not fit in a trailer.  Really all we have is each other, so please excuse her frustration.”

The soldiers looked at each other.  “I think it best sir,” said one of them. “That you speak with our Sergeant. You might be able to connect some dots between you.”

Jan nodded.  “Jamie, would you please take Grandma back as well.  Donaldson is going to want to speak with her again.”

Todd’s eyes narrowed.  “You’re her aren’t you?” he asked.  “You’re the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Jones.  But why no pictures in the wallet?”

Jan nodded again.  “My husband Angus Jones was a CSIS operative.  There are very few pictures of us as a family.  But I have never used Jones as a last name.  I am Jan McConnell.”  She turned to Ginny.  “I am very sorry for your loss.  We are in the process of being forcibly relocated from our farm in Ontario to Montana.”

Ginny nodded.  “We are headed to Eureka, MT.”

Jan smiled.  “We are headed to Rexford.”

Ginny smiled back.

*****
“You know,” John told the Committee.  “Those two remained fast friends until Ginny’s death at the age of 82-years.  She and Todd had only been married two years when we met them.  They went on to have six children and were married for fifty-two years before he died.  He was hired on by the Police in Eureka.  He even served a turn as Sheriff.  As that Union Rep had said, he was so clean he squeaked.”

*****
The shopping experience continued at the Salvation Army.  Major Lynn was there with JJ and two shop assistants to help use make the best use of the limited time we had left.  We were able to get a lot of stuff for the little ones who at 18-months and walking needed more than bunting suits. By age we had one 2-yr old girl, one 3-yr old boy, two 4-yr old girls, two 8-yr old boys and one 10-yr old boy who were the same size, one 10-yr old girl, two 12-yr old boys, three 14-yr old girls, two 15-yr old girls, one 15-yr old and one 16-yr old boys, two 17-yr old girls and four 17-yr old boys, one 18-yr old girl, one 18-yr old boy and a 19-yr old boy… plus four adults.  It was a bit daunting.

Major Lynn handed each assistant a name/age and a bag.  “Fill it,” she ordered, and sent them off.  In short order, each bag was filled with underwear, sock (lots of socks), t-shirts, pants or long skirts, wool sweaters, winter coats, running shoes and boots.  The Major also filled a bag with cotton diapers and quilted liners that could be used in the diapers or by women in need.  Mary Lou and Jan went through the shelves in the kitchen section, while Sarai rifled through looking for linens and blankets. The Major then charged the $5/bag. So, $200 later, treasured pressure canners in hand, laden down like pack horses, they left with the basics covered.

The Major looked at Jan and said “Remember that God is with you always.  Never forget Psalm 121 - I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  In particular remember verses 6 and 7: The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.”

“Thank you,” replied Jan.

At the door of the Sally Ann, Jan and Mary Lou said their goodbyes.  That good Christian woman was filled with pride at the way her community had rallied around and helped this family.  She went home to her husband and they added the McConnell clan to their prayer chain.

Jan and company got back into the truck and headed back to the rail yard.  They were loading the last of the newly acquired items onto the boxcar, when a Private came running up. 

“Mrs. McConnell you are needed for a conference.  Also we will be pulling out is 7 minutes.  The Minnesota Army is moving into position across the river.  We need to get out of here stat.”

Emptying the truck went double speed.  The Jan noticed a new car on the end of the train.

“It’s for the policeman and his wife,” advised the Private.

They climbed into their troop car and Jan walked into Bedlam.  It appeared to be instigated by Dr. P. and Jan cheerfully left him to the insanity.

The doors were all closed and the train began to move out of the yard.  It began to pick up speed and to race west across, Jan sat down with Sgt. Donaldson, Dr. P and Todd Stewart.

“Mrs. McConnell,” said the Sergeant.  “Firstly, we are still working to locate your husband.  He has not been moved off the Michigan National Guard base.  And at this point that is a positive.  Now while you were shopping, I was paying a courtesy call on a friend who is a Staff Sergeant and based with the 319th Air Base wing here at Grand Forks.  Mr. Stewart joined us there and his debrief allowed us to fill in some missing pieces.  We have spoken with several individuals further up the line and eventually with the base commander.  He has concurred with our interpretation of event and we were then handed over to the OSI team that is based here.

“OSI advised us National Guard call-out in Minnesota had been sent yesterday evening about midnight for all guardsmen to report to their bases by 0800 today – that is just shy of 25,000 men and women who have been called up. In turn, North Dakota has also moved their guardsmen into active status.  There has also been increased traffic on the east side of the Red River.  It appears that the guardsmen are moving into place to either secure the line or to cross it.  Not sure at this point.  However this base has gone from backwoods to front line and we need to get out of here stat.

“The OSI will also look for any records trace of your husband.”

“Courage mon amie,” said Dr. P. patting Jan’s cold hands. “He will found.  He will come back to you.  Remember the picture in the living room he gave you?”  The Sergeant looked interested.

Jan looked at Dr. P. and pulled herself together. “The Swallows… you are quite right.  My swallow will always return.  Now enough glumness.  Let’s get that riot under control and the hordes fed.  Mr. Stewart would you and your wife like to join us for meals?”

“Thanks you,” Todd replied.  “That would be a kindness.  I love Ginny dearly but she cooks best with a yellow pages.”
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2014, 08:55:01 PM »
Chapter 25 – The ants come marching one by one…

Back in their railcar, the kids began to prepare brunch.  Eggs had been snatched from under chickens and were being turned into mounds of scrambled eggs.  Cinnamon rolls were coming out of the oven and canned bacon was frying on the stove top.  Ginny was sitting with the glazed-over bemusement that occurs when only children encounter large families.  The dynamics confused her.

Jan slid a coffee in front of her and Ginny started.

“I don’t get all of this.  They can’t all be yours…” she said.

Jan laughed. “No only John is mine by birth.  Mrs. Jones really is my mother-in-law but we don’t know each other very well.  The other… well they have joined us along the rail.  Mostly they were the children of other families on the train and when we came under attack the adults died and the children survived.  In total there are two family groups and four individual children.  I’ve promised them a home as long as they want one, but the recent changes have me concerned.”

“Why?” asked Ginny.

“Some of these boys are under a yearlong deferment from their army enlistment in order to help us get set-up on the farm.  With the way things are headed down the toilet, that deferment may be cancelled and the boys gone…  It’s not that I can’t get the farm up and going on my own, it’s that I have been counting them into my plans… and dang it all, I like them.  I would hate for them to go now just as we are all getting used to each other.” Jan told her.

Sally bustles around and set the table.  Heather offered the women more coffee.  Food was scooped onto plates and set for the littles.  The horde thundered up.  Hilda and Kurt were strapped into the booster seats acquired from Walmart.  Since throwing food at each other was still a point of pleasure, they were moved back from the table so that others could eat in safety.  The Three Amigos and their 12-year old task masters dug in.  The teens came through as their jobs with the livestock allowed them.  Dr. P, Grandma Jones and Todd Stewart joined the adults.  Grace was sung, although some plates were empty.  Ginny was asking how the woodstove worked for cooking.  Heather and Sarai volunteered to teach her to use one.  Todd said an additional prayer of thanks that he might get a good meal and that their house might not burn down.

*****
Farther down the tracks in Williston, ND, another family was not so lucky. Jim and Tina Wright had drifted in to town two-months before with the oil jobs.  Jim picked up casual work where he could, but mostly he partied.  Tina added to the coffers by selling whatever she could - guns, drugs, and most often herself.  They drank hard, partied harder and were really only together because there was no one else for either.  Hadn’t been in a long time.  But they did have Zack.

At three years of age, Zach was an old man.  He spent most of his time next door with the old lady there.  She had found him in early November evening sitting in a t-shirt and sweatpants on his back doorstep.  He had explained that “Mama was entertaining. And Iz have to wait ‘til he leaves to go to bed.”  So the old lady took him home and tucked him in on her couch.  Tina seeing the sense of the arrangement, paid the old lady $50 a week to keep Zack overnight. 

That arrangement saved Zack. When, with everyone passed out, the lit cigarette in some john’s hand set fire to the drapes.  The old wood framed house went up in a raging blaze.  Jim and Tina and their guests died as brutally and hard as they had lived.  The old lady’s house was damaged.  She got herself and Zack out, but she had a heart attack and died.  The ambulance attendant was left looking at this small, malnourished boy of an indeterminate age and wondered what the heck they were going to do with him.

The hospital checked him over and a social worker took him down to the police station.  It was full of roughnecks being hauled in or tossed out.  The social worker and the kid and wound their way through the groping hands to the front desk.

“Hey Mel!” the social worker called out to the front desk clerk.

“Hey back Missy!” said the clerk.  “This the kid from the fire? I know you can sell igloos to the Eskimos but how the heck you going to pretty up the kid of a drifter and a prostitute and sell him to the locals.”

“No idea yet, Mel.  But you know me, I’ll find him a home.  Need to see Donaldson about him. He in?”

“Yeah, he’s in the back meeting with some hunk in an army uniform.  See what you can find out for me.  I want a date with something that doesn’t reek of oilfields and the man camps.”

“Don’t we all!” laughed Missy as she pushed her way to the access gate.  The boy in her arms hadn’t said a word since she had got him.  “You okay there buddy?”

The child nodded, thumb in mouth, as he snuggled into her shoulder.

Down the hall, two men watched as the slim black woman with the blond child on her hip marched towards them.

‘Bookends…’ thought Missy appreciatively, ‘…a matched pair of brothers,’

“What you got for me, Donaldson?” she asked the cop.  Inwardly she struggled not to smile as the other man tried not to answer her.

“Not much Missy,” he answered. “But my brother, Sgt. Tyler Donaldson here has one.  Come sit down.  Hey buddy, we’re all going to sit here and talk.  You okay for a minute?”  Again the boy nodded.

The three adults sat down in one of the conference rooms.

“Okay here’s the deal.  You remember how you and me have talked about stuff unravelling?”

Missy nodded.

“Well, it’s started.  My brother here is moving evacuated farmers from Ontario to Montana.  On his train is a woman named Jan McConnell.  She started out the journey with her special needs 12-year old, a foster boy and her mother-in-law.  Since then she has ‘adopted’ twenty-six war orphans and an 80 plus year old doctor.  In what she calls her “littles” group, she currently has another 3-year old boy, two 4-year old girls, a 2-year old girl and twin 18-month olds.  So buddy here would have playmates and not be isolated.

“It’s probably the only option.  We have not been able to trace the parents.  We have no idea if the names they used here are even their real names. Owner of those houses doesn’t care as long as he gets cash. With all the guys here in town and homeowners getting $90/night renting to them, there are no foster care spaces.  If this woman will take Buddy it will get him out of here and give him the opportunity for a life.  Here, he’ll be on meth by twelve and dead by fourteen.  We’ll get the City to cough up a parting gift.  Heck it will be cheaper for them.”

“Mot much I can disagree with, but I want to meet this woman and see the other kids before I agree.” Missy paused.  “Ah heck, even I know there isn’t another option, but I do want to meet her.”

“If it helps you to know, “said the Sergeant. “Gid and I had another brother.  He died two years back in a brawl with a roughneck.  Our nephew is now sixteen and seriously on the outs with his step-father.  We have got our sister-in-law willing to sign custody over to us, as she is exhausted, pregnant and at wits end. Jan is going to take him.

“The other thing that Gid may not have told you is that the military action in Ontario has resulted in the fracturing of the Blue and Red states and Blue states have called up their guardsmen. It is their intent to ‘free’ Ontario. The call has gone out this morning here.  The complexion of town is about to change.  The Blue states need oil too, so Williston is about to become a major target.  Time for you to stock-up and hunker down, or get out of Dodge.”

“Missy, I’ll be rejoining my Guard unit in about four hours,” said Officer Gideon Donaldson stretching out his hand to shake Missy’s. “So I’ll take this opportunity to say thanks and wish you well.”

As they left the station, only Sgt. Donaldson looked nervous.  In trying to help his brothers, he’d saddled Jan with two more kids.  He hoped that she wouldn’t string him up for it.

*****
In Rexford, population 140 in town, the Village Council met. For the first time ever in their history, all the land in the county was own.  The revenues were going to be terrific.  There would be the taxes from the 39 new farm families and the 22 new businesses, and the buildings and houses sold to them.  But now that people were arriving, there were issues people hadn’t thought of and it was giving council a migraine.

Suddenly there were a lot more horses, wagons and buggies on the road... on all the roads… and people who drove were feeling that they couldn’t speed along as they always had.  Some of the people who had sold their acreages, farms and houses willingly, were suddenly feeling like maybe they hadn’t ask for enough money.
Additionally the town had oversold itself.  There really wasn’t the infrastructure to handle the almost 700 people that were moving into the community.  Additionally the Rexford Elders, with their one congregation, already had most of the best land in the area.  And best land was a bit of a misnomer, as many had turned to logging because the land wasn’t really conducive to cultivation in the way that the CoKL Colony was used to operating.  Additionally at the south end of the lake were the remains of an Old Order Amish Community that had fractured and was busy trying to keep the picturesque aspects of the Amish faith without doing the theological ones that required work. 

As the CoKL Colony began to arrive, they quickly found how much they had been oversold.  Their farms often needed to be cleared.  The Army administrators who had coordinated the move began to get scorched ears as the complaints flowed in.
 
“Problem is Sir” said one young private, “These are all legitimate complaints.”

“Well, with the frying pan heating up here,” answered his Sergeant.  “They are going to have to make do.”

As December settled in, slowly, the CoKL Colony cleared space for their houses and barns and put up fencing.  The Rexford Colony helped where they could.  The two groups kept their communities separate and for the most part there was peace between the two.  But peace was stretched thin between the Non-Amish and Amish communities as competing needs and the doctrine of pacifism in a time of mounting civil war drove a deep wedge.
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #29 on: April 11, 2014, 09:22:20 PM »
Chapter 26 – Delays…

They were on approach into Havre, MT, when the jet went screaming overhead.  One of their soldier guards opened the small window in the door and Matt and Jamie joined him as they watched an old fashioned dogfight began.  It could have been all over in seconds, but instead went on for some time.  Dr. P. also went to watch.

“It’s like they are toying with each other and neither intends to be the first to fire,” the doctor commented.

The soldier looked at him and nodded.  “One of those is a National Guard jet from Wisconsin and the other is a US Army jet.  Looks like the boys in the air don’t intend to shoot each other.”

Well, there’s hope in that,” murmured the doctor.

Suddenly the guard jet turned and began to dive into a run.

“OH Shi--!” screamed the soldier.  “Everyone hit the deck!”

Experience had taught this group well and they all lay flat as they felt the train rock.  The train kept moving.  It never slowed.  It swayed on its rails as air pressure and debris hit it but it kept moving. The plane never actually hit it.

Dr. P and Jan looked at each other.  “No intention of actually hitting us,” stated Dr. P.

The train was supposed to stop in Havre but they kept racing across Montana, finally stopping at the siding in Shelby.  The train seemed to stand like a panting shivering dog.

For the first time since he got on the train, Connor Donaldson, nephew of Sgt. Donaldson, spoke. 

“Did you know that Jack Horner was born here?” he asked.

Jan looked confused but Drew Cody lit up like six free games.  “Really!  He was born here?”

“Yup!” said Connor.  “He found his first dinosaur bone here when he was 8-years old.”

“That’s the same age as me!” exclaimed Drew. “Tante Jan. Mr. Horner is really important.  He found the first Maiasaura nest. Does he still live here? Are we going to be here long enough for me to find a bone?”

Connor laughed.  “Nah… he doesn’t live here.  Sometimes though he comes back to visit friends and family.  He’s down in Bozeman at the Museum of the Rockies but he travels all the time.”

A soldier came down to Jan.  “We are going to be here about five hour,” he told her. “While we didn’t get hit directly, they want to check out the train thoroughly.  They have asked that you keep the stoves off. They will cover the cost of a meal in town for everyone.”

Jan looked at Connor.  “Well we’ll be here a bit and we need to eat lunch.  Any ideas?”

Connor looked startled that his opinion was being sought.  He gave Jan a small smile.  “My Pa and I used to come here to go to the Kow Loon Chinese Restaurant on Main Street.”

Donaldson came through the door.  He clapped Connor on the back but the excited teen had turned back into a sulky one.  “So did you decide where to go?  My parents used to bring us here a long time ago to a place called Kow Loon.  The original Mr. Kow had started a restaurant here for the people who were building the railway.  Eventually he was able to bring his wife and children over.  I think the restaurant is now run by the 6th or 7th Mr. Kow.”

“You came here too?” Connor asked with surprise, “but I thought it was only my Pa and me…”

“He brought you too?” Donaldson inquired.  “That’s great! I miss him too… glad you got that great memory.”

They smiled at each other but then Connor remembered he was supposed to be mad and the smile slipped back into sullenness.  Donaldson just shook his head.

*****
Later that day, Jan sat with a cup of coffee at the table and updated her note book.  Under Ginger Cody, she added…

Name   Age   Date of Birth   Schooling   Work/Apprenticeship
Inga Schmidt   4   Apr 22   JK   
Hilda Schmidt   18m   Jun 15      
Kurt Schmidt   18m   Jun 15      
Zach McConnell   3 (?)   Unknown – given Dec 12      
Connor Donaldson   16   Jul 26   Grade 11   No trade. Wants to go into army.

Jan looked again at the file social services had given her pertaining to Zach.  It was comprised of his medical file from the hospital, a note advising that his parents had listed Jim and Tina Wright as their names on the rental forms but that a quick run produced nothing.  The old lady had passed away before she could give them any information and no one around town was talking.  The house had been a total loss with nothing retrievable.  The child had given his name as Zach but didn’t know his last name, his parents’ names or his birthday.  His estimated age was three, but a just turned not a turning four.

So social services had given him December 12th as his date of birth.  With him going to Jan, they gave him her last name.  They also gave her a cheque for $1,000 and a note saying that the Family Courts in Williston viewed the placement as permanent and their duties to Zach McConnell as being finished.  They also noted that they expected Jan to complete the adoption process in Montana once settled and that they would appreciate a copy of those records for their files.  Jan shook her head.

She then went and sought out Connor.
“Hey Connor, you got a couple minutes you can give me?” Jan asked pulling him away from a discussion with Matt, Jamie and Sarai.

“Go talk with her man,” said Jamie.  “She’s got this book where she writes down all the things we want to be doing so that she can help us get there.  I want to farm, so I’m an easy one, but Matt here is like you and wants to go into the army.”

Connor nodded and went and sat with Jan.  They talked for almost an hour.  Jan wondered if anyone had actually spoken to him since his father died.  Certainly no one had asked him what he wanted to do or helped him figure out how to get there.  She felt conflicted.  As much as she had hated the way that Ontario and Canada as a whole had headed, at least in the schools there had been some attempt to get kids employed in something they wanted to do.  Connor had no skills.  He’d done nothing but hang-out and play video games for years.  In some ways he was at the same level as John and David.  Her first goal for him was to get him a skill.  Otherwise he’d be nothing but cannon fodder going into the army.  Time for a chat with his uncle.

*****
Sgt. Donaldson had a few more issues to contend with that a sulky sixteen year old.  The first was how to break it to Jan that her husband had been handed over by the Michigan Military to the Ontario Provincial Police and that he was back in Canada.  He rubbed his face wearily.  Time to have another extraction coordinated.  And given the death sentence passed on all CISIS operatives, Jones was on borrowed time.

*****
Jones knew that he was being moved. He kept his body limp and listened.  He was dumped onto something that was table height.  He then heard an unexpected sound.  Helicopter rotors and they lifted.  They weren’t in the air that long, maybe twenty minutes… a half hour.  He could smell water when they landed.  He was heft-up gain and tossed into the trunk of a vehicle.  If the whole thing hadn’t been such a spy novel he’d have laughed.  The car stopped and again he was lifted out. They went up  flight of stairs, pause for the door, then down stairs.  He was seated on a chair and tied.

"Welcome home Jones!" said a disembodied voice. "We've gone to a lot of effort to locate you."

‘The only question is will they beat me before they take the hood off or after…’ he thought.  Then the first blow hit and he passed out.

... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #30 on: April 11, 2014, 09:24:44 PM »
Chapter 27 – So close… and yet so far…

At Amtrak’s request, the train pulled out at 4:30pm in order for the tracks to be cleared for the evening train to Seattle.  It took them 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Essex, MT, to the big BNSF Rail Yard.  It was here that the really heavy freight trains picked up additional engines to get them through the mountains.  The train stayed overnight at the Essex yard and the kids had a wonderful time exploring.

Jan and the older girls were corralling the little ones when they ran into the Kellys who own the Izaak Walton Inn at Essex.  As the kids admired what could be done to make a rail car a home if you had money, the Kellys were amused by the converted troop car that had hauled the growing family across the country.  Certainly it did not subscribe to the luxury of their converted rail car suites.  However, they did see promise in the ability to create bunk houses for backpackers.  Jan sent Connor off to get his uncle.  Meanwhile Sama and Andrea got an introduction to the chef.  While he inspected their travelling barns, they got him to agree to purchase two milkings of 120 gallons of milk and twelve dozen eggs.  In return they got more flour and sugar and three pans of the Inn’s famous Huckleberry Cobbler.

The cobbler was a huge success at dinner that night.

The next morning the train pulled out heading over the Continental Divide by way of the Marias Pass.  It was only an hour and a half into Whitefish.  There they were to be met by the truckers who would take Martin Cody and their steers to the Lower Valley Processing Company in Kalispell.  Kyle, who was now walking without assistance, would go with him.

At Whitefish, the train would switch from the BNSF rail line to the Montana line that ran north to Eureka.  Originally the train ran on to Old Rexford, but it was lost in 1972 when in Lake Koocanusa was created.  It was created as part of a joint project between the US and Canada with the purpose of providing flood protection and to generate hydroelectric power. The Kootenai River used to fluctuated wildly in the spring causing flooding in Montana, Idaho and BC. So the Libby Dam dam ws built and Lake Koocanusa is its reservoir. The name was chosen in a contest and the winner used the first three letters from KOOtenai River, and the first three letters of CANada and USA.

By 2pm, the train pulled into Eureka.  Jan could have wept with relief.  There was an amazing amount to be done, but they had got here and they were all safe. 

Standing at the station platform were the two people she had just about given up ever seeing again… her cousin Gordon McConnell and Jones.
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #31 on: April 11, 2014, 09:27:09 PM »
Chapter 28 – The testing of love…

Jan wanted to leap at Jones but the toll of his time away was clear marked on his face.  He stood only because of the crutch and Gordon’s help.  Gently she kissed him.

Gordon grabbed her and gave her a big hug.  She looked at them both marveling at their relaxed stance compared to their heavy battering.

The young man who had been standing back now came forward.

“Mrs. McConnell, you may not remember me.  I am Jonas Yoder.  I wast told dat meine feste Freundin, Mary, she is on the train with you.”

She looked at Jones and Gordon.  “This is going to take a few minutes.  Gord, please get him to sit down before the kids swarm him.  Jonas, please come with me.”

Jane walked down the tracks a pace and looked at the young man.  “Did you come down with anyone Jonas?”

“Yes,” he said. “Mein faddur.”

“Please go and get him.”  Jan said quietly.

Jonas ran and came back fairly quickly with a tall bearded man, who was deeply uncomfortable speaking with this English woman, until he saw that her husband was close by.

“Gentlemen,” Jan started. “Several days after your train pulled out, the Village Council in Fenelon decided to make an example of the Agrico feed store and its employees.  All of them were seized, the building looted and burned.  Mary was amongst those seized.  She was put through a trail in which she was accused of selling food to Relocators.  Her head was shaved.  She was beaten and repeatedly raped.  She was then walked bare foot down Colbourne to the cenotaph where she was tied to a flag pole, stripped and publicly flogged.  She was thrown at my feet when we arrived to get on the train.”

Mr. Amos Yoder looked shocked and ill.  Young Jonas looked like he had been punched.

“When we were able to get her to speak she told us about the boys, Mr. Wallis and Dr. P.  The army retrieved them all and they came with us.  To be blunt, Mary is very traumatized.  I need to make sure that you and your community are willing to accept her after all that has happened.  You need to go and talk about it with your elders, because if you can’t accept her, then I will not let you see her. If you make it an issue later, we will come and take her away.”

 “You are right, Mrs. McConnell,” said Amos.  “We will accept her in our family, but we need to ensure that there will be no issues within the community.  Jonas here will need to make some decisions and we will speak with our women.  Come Jonas, we must pray and talk.”

Jonas stood there a moment longer.  “I should have been there.  We should not have left her behind.”

Jan looked at him.  “There is no way to have known.  This is what you must work through before you see her or your anger will get turned on her.  This is where the doctrine of pacifism in your faith will be tested on a personal level.  You have to learn to forgive those who did harm and those to whom harm was done.”

“I would never blame Mary!” he exclaimed.

“If you do not deal with your anger and frustration you will.  She will become the only target you have.  Now go talk with your father and your Elders.  They will help you work it through.  Meantime we have a rented building here in Eureka.”

“You are very wise,” Amos said nodding.  “I have talked to your husband about the land they give.  Do not accept it.  It cannot be farmed.  There is snow there now, but we saw it when there was none.  See if they will give you land to the north, between here and the border.”

Jan nodded and then their attention was caught by a cry of pure joy and Jan saw John launch himself out of the train towards Jones.  They all smiled.  Then Amos and Jonas touched the brim of their hats and they headed out.

... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2014, 09:28:41 PM »
Chapter 29 - Decisions…

The chaos of the 24-hours that followed should not be underestimated.  Jan and Jones tried to have time to talk but their now much larger family all had demands of time and attention and the livestock needed care too.  Cousin Gordon, or Big G, as the kids calls him so as not to confuse him with Gordie Cody, was still transitioning from the five years of hard labour.  Jones was far more fragile than she wanted to admit.  She was sure that he had been starved but he wouldn’t talk and finally she took her concerns to Sgt. Donaldson.

“Sergeant, do you have a few minutes?” She asked.

He sighed knowing what was coming.  “I don’t have all the details… you should really wait for…” Jan shook her head.  “Okay, here is what I do know.  He was transferred from the Michigan National Guard barracks to a prison in Windsor, Ontario.  I think its official name is something like the South West Detention Centre and it houses both men and women in a maximum security setting.  They also have a special wing for special cases.  He had been held by the MNG for about four days at that point.  We still don’t know if they were trying to extract information from him or were just having fun torturing him.  He had been marked for execution, so I think it was just some sadist having fun.  The broke every bone in his right hand.  And I do mean every bone.  The rest of him was kicked and hit in every spot possible with the aim of causing the most internal injuries possible.  Our medical team worked on him for more than 14-hours and we are still not sure that he is going to make it.  The real thing to watch for are kidney and brain issues.  He was repeated kicked in the head and we don’t know what that will do to him.”

Jan sat back, pale and shaky.

“Well we’ve got a doctor in-house, so we’ll have to take it from there.  Thank you for telling me.

“Now,” continued Jan.  “We need to talk about the land issue.  Not sure what bill of goods were being sold around here but the Amish I have met with are seriously ticked off.  Moreover, I have been told point blank not to accept the land I was given.  That it matches neither the spec or the images we were sent and it is entirely tree covered. Moreover, it is part of a housing development and the open spaces we were told were pasture are now covered with vacation homes. As you can see none of the men here are able to log nor are we here on vacation.  I doubt those who paid of $300,000 for a vacation home are going to be too happy having livestock crammed into the 2-acre lot next door.

“I have gone to the real estate agents around here and there is not much farm land around here in the first place.  There is a 95-acre parcel on Grave Creek (MLS#5319306) about 16 miles east of Eureka with a 4-bed house, but at $1.2 million I expect that it’s a bit rich for all our blood and puts the kids too far from any apprenticeship opportunities.  There is an excellent little farm south of Libby, at 51545 Hwy 2 (MLS#20137408) with 80 acres on a creek against National Forest land.  It’s got a 4-bed house and is $650,000.  Just north in Newgate, BC, is another 4-bed house on 100 acres (MLS#2390611).  In this case, it’s got 30-acres in pasture, 30 in hayfields, 10-acres are tiered with irrigation.  It also has a secondary plumbed building.  But again it’s on the market for $699,900.  Now making more sense for us is that north of Rexford off the old Hwy 81 that was submerged, is a piece of land, without a house, that is selling for $479,000 (MLS#233482).”

Donaldson grimaced and took the information that Jan had given him.  With the way things were heating up he needed to get back east ASAP, but these were people who had dealt fairly all the way along and he didn’t want to leave them in the lurch.  Moreover, as he had been hearing complaints, he began to wonder if anyone in the Relocation office had even come out here to look on the ground.  It was a huge investment the army was making in ensuring food production for its own needs and if some idiot in the Pentagon had decided he could make decisions from a make and without recon, Donaldson figured it was time to shake some things up there too.

As he headed out, Jan went to check on Jones. He was sleeping. Mary was sitting with him. Her bruises were fading and she was moving more easily. She and Jan had had a long talk the night before and Mary had cried herself to sleep over what might have been, but she was glad that Jonas knew. She hoped that he would not be too long in his decision as she had her own to make. As she thought about it, she wasn’t so sure that marry Jonas and staying here was the answer. The world had changed and she wasn’t sure that she could sit quietly in a backwater and let it change without her participation. Once she could have, but she was now involved in this war at a very personal level. She had skills and abilities. She didn't want anyone to speak on her behalf ever again. She wanted her own voice. Once she would have been happy to have stood at the woodstove and been wife and mother. Now she wanted more and more than anything, after all that had happened, she didn’t want to feel like someone was doing her a favour in marrying her. She was angry that it felt like she was on trial again with neither the reason nor the outcome taking her personally into account.

“Jan,” she said softly. “I’ve reached my decision.”

*****
“You know,” John told the Committee. “When Donaldson and his units finally pulled out of Eureka, Mary and Matt went with them. My mother was right, Matt’s deferment was cancelled and he was called up immediately. He served in that long conflict that became known as the North American Civil War. Mary served too. She went into espionage. Her proudest moment was going back into Fenelon and dealing with that nest of vipers.

“Jonas and Mary did have a long talk. He had found a way to work through his fury and feeling of impotence at not being able to protect her. Jonas and his family were unwilling to allow what had happened to interfere with Jonas’ desire to marry Mary. However when Mary told them of her decision, Amos was relieved. He later told Jan that he was not convinced that the community would be so forgiving in the long term and he had been worried that it might be used against the young couple and any children later. Jonas later married Sama and they continued to run the dairy operation, later enlarging it to more than 60 head. They had nine children, who continue to live in the Rexford area.

“Mary did not live to the end of the war. She died in on a mission in Kingston, Ontario. She had just freed 4 political prisoners from the Kingston Penn. Her name is on the cenotaph in Rexford. In a tradition we brought with us from Fenelon Falls, every November 10th at sundown on the eve of Remembrance Day*, we light a candle in her name and place it on the cenotaph. Our cadet corps then stands guard over our memories until the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In the going down of the sun and in the morning, we remember them.

“In the end, Donaldson acquired the peninsula north of Rexford for us. The price and the lack of buildings made the difference. We were also then close enough to the Amish community to be able to take up apprenticeships as we reached the right age. The soil wasn’t much better than home, but our apple trees all survived and that made my mother happy.”

====
*Note: The Remembrance Day Eve candlelight ceremony takes place every November 10th in Fenelon Falls, Ontario. The veterans, cadets, scouts, and guides all march followed by the village members who carry candles, each named in memory of one who served or is in active service. The candles are placed at the base of the cenotaph and the cadets then stand guard through the night. In 2011, there were 2,500 candles lit.  It is incredibly moving and such a small thing that we can do in memory of those who laid down their lies so that we might live in freedom.
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #33 on: April 18, 2014, 06:49:18 AM »
Note:  I misnumbered one of the chapters... so the next one is

Chapter 31…

Two days later, they had moved into the restaurant in Eureka for the rest of the winter.  The landlord was glad to have it rented for the four months as he had a buyer for it with a May closing.  Located at the corner of Dewey Avenue (I-93) and Hwy 32, there was a convenient field just north of it.

Jones and Big G spent several hours going over topographical maps and satellite images of the land they had been given with the boys from the Army Corps of Engineers.  They brought Amos Yoder and Issac Knapp into the discussion as they were organizing the teams to build the buildings.  In the meantime, temporary barns had been erected in the back field.  Permission had been granted to do this because the family was willing to haul the manure out every two days.  They took it to the farm and began the compost pile that would be tilled in come spring.  The neighbours had also agreed to the conditions.

A representative from the local school board came up and spoke with Jan.  They offered to fit the kids into the school through the end of the year, giving Jan the opportunity to get the house set up before deciding if they wanted to go back to homeschooling.  With 15 high school aged kids (5 in grade 12, 2 in grade 11, 5 in grade 10, and 3 in grade 9) for the Lincoln County High School, four middle school kids (2 in grade 7 and 2 in grade 5) and four more for the elementary school (2 in grade 3 and 2 in JK), it was a generous offer and after speaking with the others, it was accepted.  The kids were less than thrilled but saw the value in meeting others and in not just hanging around.  There would be three buses that would swing by to get them starting at 7:30am on Monday.

Inside the restaurant the two private reception rooms became bunk houses for the boys and girls.  There were also three small meeting rooms, and those became rooms for Jan & Jones, Dr. P. & Grandma, and for Big G.  One of the two big dining rooms became a playroom/homework area for the kids, and the other became the dining room/living room for the whole family.  The women all loved the big kitchen space.  Andrea located her cheese making equipment and soon the extra milk was being served as a soft cheese on crackers and bagels made by Lydie.

Gail had taken over the boxes and bags of clothes and in short order, with Sally and Heather’s help had organized it so that clean clothes were available to all.  Those in charge of the livestock were pleased to see how happily the animals settled into their new accommodations.  Eggie was pleased that the layers were laying again.  Sama saw a rise in the amount and quality for the milk.  They were all waiting for Martin and Kyle to get back.

Later that afternoon, Jan found the boys huddled around the radio in the playroom.

“What are you listening to?” Jan asked them figuring it would be football or hockey.

“Radio Free Redoubt,” answered Eric.  “Initially you think their tin foil hats are a bit tight but you soon realize that they actually know what is happening.  None of the MSM is reporting about what is happening in Canada, but these guys seem to have some reporters in Ontario who are getting the information out by ham to someone in Northern Michigan.”

“What is going on?” She asked.

“Apparently Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and all the members of Parliament have disappeared,” said Eric.

“Some crazy lady named Olivia Chow was urging people to rise up in memory of their hero and martyr. Some guy named Jack Layton.  Supposedly in Toronto they were marching through the downtown carrying banners and placards with his name and image on them.  The crowds reached Queen’s Park and then some of them realized that behind them were police moving barricades into position.  To leave, you were funneled through a processing center.  If you were receiving public assistance, then it was cancelled. Any further protests and you went to work camps.  Problem was that this was still being done by the Ontario government but they are claiming it was at the direction of the US Army, which is saying it made no such request.  All sounds very confusing.”

“Keep listening and let me know.” Jan said and moved on.

Heather and Sally were playing with the little ones on the other side of the room and Grandma Jones was knitting in a corner keeping an eye on Hilda and Kurt and they ran about and fell.

Jan was worried about Jones.  He wasn’t moving any more easily and his translucent colour and tremours were of increasing concern.

... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #34 on: April 18, 2014, 06:53:20 AM »
Chapter 32…

Jones was worried. Even more than worried he was confused. He felt continuously hung over, like his brain was operating in a deep fog somewhere between a spinning gyroscope and molasses. He felt nauseous and had clammy sweats. He was constantly cold. All these people around him. He was supposed to know them. He felt swamping waves of panic. The people came in and out of his range of vision and their voices and the colours of their clothes swirled around him until he couldn’t respond at all. He would close his eyes and all would gradually still but when he opened his eyes nothing would focus. He vomited. Someone came into range and gently cleaned him up. He didn’t recognize her.

But it was the two women that worried him. One thought she was his mother and the other thought she was his wife. He was fairly sure that he didn’t know either one of them. The only one he was sure he knew was the young boy glued to his side. He was fairly sure that the boy was his son, but he didn’t know where the wheres or whys. He was so tired. His body ached. Perhaps if he slept some more it might become clearer.

That day he had stood on the train platform and this man had been talking to him, had been just one more day in a long run of nightmare. If the man hadn't been there, he would have fallen down. This gorgeous vital woman had stepped out of a rail car laughing with a soldier. She had seen him and come over. She had kissed him so gently. She was obviously excited to see him but he hadn't a clue as to who she was. He had looked at the man beside him for help.

"You're wife," the man had whispered. "You lucky dog, you."

But Jones hadn't feel lucky. This vital woman had seemed too vivid for him to cope with. He had felt like she was sucking energy from him. Also why was the dog lucky? He had been and continued to be confused.

Jan watched him from the doorway. Tear streamed down her face. She had expected that Jones would be here and step-in and take over some of the load. It was going to be a long time before that would happen. She wanted to yell and scream and curse… she wanted to lay down like a two year old and throw a screaming hissy fit… but someone had to be in charge and it looked like she wasn’t going to be able to share that with anyone for a while. Dang! She wanted her husband back. She wanted her handsome strong whirl-wind husband back. She wanted a chance to be like every other married couple. She wanted the head of their household back in his God given position. She wanted… well if wishes were horses then beggars would ride…

*****

“I would like to tell you,” John told the Committee, “that my father recovered quickly but he didn’t. He never really did. Physically he regained strength but he never stood straight and proud again. He always seems… well frail would be the word. He caught every bug that came though - colds, flus, pneumonias got him all. He seemed to always be sick.

“And mentally, he was never the man he had been before. The brain injury he sustained was significant and it damaged him in ways no one could have ever predicted. Eventually he was able to do some work around the farm but he had to be supervised to some extent. So there was always a kid trailing after him… Mom’s version of ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’… and he was good with us kids. It was with the adults he had problems. It’s like he knew there was something wrong and with us kids he didn’t have to pretend.

“My mother loved him. She honoured her vows and loved him. He depended on her but he never seemed to really figure out who she was, and he never got anyone’s names except mine. I think seeing him was part of why Aunt Becky didn’t stay. Losing a second brother on top of everyone else was just too much for her. Caring for him taught Heather a great deal about head trauma cases and she went into the military nursing program and specialized in helping soldiers with brain trauma. Grandma didn’t care. Her boy had made it home and she would take him however she could get him.

“We weren’t home that day, some five years later, when he slipped the kiddie leash and went for a swim. He drowned in the Kootenai River in the place where the dam widened it into Lake Koocanusa. He was buried on the farm.

“Mother loved him and she never complained to us about the hand dealt. She just continued on. She was the strongest person I ever knew. She told me once that I was the prize she won in their marriage, and that she would go through it all again just to have me. Even with all the other kids about, I never felt anything less than love. She was a remarkable woman.”
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #35 on: April 18, 2014, 06:57:31 AM »
Chapter 33 – Christmas in Eureka…

Five days after the train arrived in Eureka, Sgt. Donaldson and his unit pulled out heading to the front lines in the new war.  Matt and Mary were on the train as were about sixty new recruits from the Eureka area.  They joined up with another train that had just come in from Idaho with more volunteers.  They were headed back for the front lines in North Dakota.

The day after that Martin & Kyle arrived with the packaged meat and the processing marathon began.

“I love this kitchen” Jan sang as she danced through the space.  Six pressure canners were rocking away stuffed with pint jars filled with cold packed stewing beef.

Grandma Jones laughed and several of the girls giggled while the others goggled.  Jan being silly wasn’t a sight they’d seen before.

“Renting this place was a fantastic idea.  I’ve canned over open fires before, but this is just so much easier,” said Jan. “I am also so glad not to be moving.  If I stand still I still feel like I’m on the train.”

Big G and Jamie had gone out to check the fencing for their livestock. 

Jones was still in bed.  Dr. P was sitting with him. The day before he and Heather had walked down Dewey Avenue to the North Country Medical Clinic and paid a courtesy call on the doctors there.  Dr. P. had left his credentials with them, advising that he was available in the event of an emergency but that he was otherwise officially retired.  He also told them that he was training Heather and that she would be entering the Army as a combat medic the next year.  The doctor recommended that she get her AAS in Paramedicine and the NREMT certification.  While it was a two year course at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, it would give her better standing as a 68W medic with an EMT-P rating. They were also willing to bring her in after that to work with them.

Dr. P. then consulted with Drs. Thom and Flute about Jones’ case and gave them the file on young Zach.  The doctors were willing to add Zach to their roster until the adoption was final.  They were also able to refer them to the children’s services office in Kalispell.

The younger kids had all gone to school for an introduction day.  They had piled onto the Elementary and Middle school buses with excited chatter and nervous giggles.  With the eight of them gone for the day, the older ones set out to deal with the massive amount of meat the boys had brought back.  Jar after jar was filled, canned, labelled and boxed.  But everything came to a crashing halt when quite innocently Lydie said,

“Can you believe it’s only four days until Christmas?”

They all looked at each other.  Jan and Grandma Jones came to a complete halt.

“Heather can you stay to spell Dr. P. and be here for the kids getting off the bus?  We’ll take the twins with us.  Call the College and ask them to have an admissions package  at the front office for us to pick-up. Can you get Jamie and Big G to go find out where we can get a Christmas tree. This used to be the Christmas Tree capital of the world, so get them to find us one. Lydie can you pull me together a fast shopping list of things you need to bake for the holiday.  Sama, Andrea and Gail – after you three finish the kitchen tidy, please find me the boxes marked ‘X-mas Decorations’ and get to work decorating.  Let’s try to have it all done before the littles get off the bus.  If we are not back, get the kids started on making Christmas cards.  Make a list of everyone we need to send one to.  Grandma and I are going Christmas shopping in Kalispell.  Let’s get moving.”

*****
Three days later, in a barrack block in [location censored], Sgt. Donaldson opened an envelope and out fell a dozen homemade Christmas cards.  Reading the names, messages and the scriptures quoted, he fell to his knees and thanked God that the family had made it safely.  They were a beacon to him, in the rapidly descending madness. He tucked the cards carefully into his kitbag and hefted over his shoulder as his unit prepared to move out again.

*****
In a basic training camp, Matt and Mary were able to briefly say hello as they passed in the mess hall.  Both had just received mail and under their arms were letters from the only place they now considered home.  A place they had spent less than a week with people they had barely known a month before.  Both treasured the cards.  When Mary’s effects were returned to the family, the small bundle of oft handled cards and letters, tied with a ribbon, were also returned.

*****
In a hospital room in Willston, ND, social worker Missy James brought Officer Gid Donaldson a bag of McDonalds’ Big Macs and fries, and a pile of mail. With his shattered leg in a sling, Gid munched away on his Big Mac, while Missy opened their mail.

“Here’s one for you,” she said handing him a brightly decorated homemade Christmas card.

Dear Uncle Gid,

Merry Christmas to you.  Sorry I gave you all such a hard time.  These people are weird and fun and crazy and they actually do what they say.  You’ll be happy to know that I am going back to school in January.  There are going to be fifteen of us from this house alone going to the school.  We’ll have our own gang – not in a bad way just meaning there will always be someone at your back and you at theirs.  Tante Jan is worried about me.  Can you believe with everything else she has to do, she has time to be worried about me?  She says I need to get a trade or all I’ll ever be is cannon fodder.  I had to look that one up.  I told her that I had been really good at hot wiring cars (sorry about that), so she took me down to a local mechanic and asked if he would use a volunteer helper around the shop in exchange for teaching me about engines.  So I started yesterday.  They also have an auto class at the highschool and I am going to take that too.

Anyways just wanted to say thanks. Hope you have a good Christmas.

Love, Connor


“Well, if that don’t beat all!” said Gid.

“I got one too,” said Missy holding up another elaborately decorated homemade card.

Dear Miss James,

A quick note at Christmas, to thank you for placing Zach with us.  He and Samuel have become inseparable buddies willing to face down the terrors of the four-year old girls. He has been seen by Dr. Flute at the medical center here in Eureka and other than malnourishment, he’s fine. He has already gained 3-lbs since we arrived. We will be meeting with children’s services in Kalispell in January.  His file is already in their possession. We hope that you will have a safe and blessed Christmas and that the fighting will stay at a distance.  Here is a snap of the boys.
All our best,

Jan McConnell


Attached to the card was a picture of two tow haired boys with their arms wrapped around each other, wide grins on their faces. ‘Happy,’ thought Missy, ‘he’s happy. It was the right move.’

Gid looked at Missy’s shinning eyes and made a decision.

“I’m leaving the police force Missy.”

“What!?! But why?  You love it.”

“My leg is never going to knit back properly to the point where I can do that type of work again.  Not here.  And I’m tired of the crime here – the rampant drugs, alcohol, fighting, the people who want to be arrested for a place to sleep inside… I am tired of it. They’ve offered me a desk job or an exit package.  The package is the better option. Other than you, there is no reason to stay here.  I’m thinking I want to start over somewhere new.”

“Any ideas?” she asked.

“Well… I do have one…” he said holding up the Christmas card.

Missy smiled at him and reached out a hand.  For a while they just sat holding hands.

*****
“It was a magical Christmas,” John told the Committee.  “I’ve lived a long time and celebrated our Saviour’s birth more times than most, but that Christmas was special.  There had been so much loss and disruption in all of our lives that it was the traditions not the gifts that mattered.  Popcorn was strung on the tree, along with rice krispie balls, chocolate santas and paper twists of nuts.  There were garlands of tinsel and fairy lights around the windows.  Under the tree were two gifts for every child and a new pair of pajamas.  One of the gifts was a book and the other a toy, or small Lego, or art supplies.  From Grandma was a pair of mittens and a scarf.  For some it was a smaller Christmas and for others it was far more, but for all this one was perfect. 

We had two huge turkeys with stuffing and potatoes, corn, carrots.  We all ate until we were stuffed and then the girls turned those poor turkey carcasses into a stew. Lydie had made us some gorgeous cakes and cookies and we over indulged in sugar. We sang carols and played charades and board games.  The kids did a Nativity play.  Lego was built and dolls and balls played with.  There was general mayhem and lots of noise.

“My father joined us for a while but it was obvious that he was confused by the whole thing, so he went back to bed.  It was a defining moment for us.  She went and checked on him but came back to us.  She had decided that we had to be her priority.  I won’t judge her for it.  Our Heavenly Father has done that long ago. Jones was no longer a part of the decision making in the house.  His care was always factored in but he played no role.  He wasn’t able to.

“Gid Donaldson and Missy James Donaldson appeared at our door one day in May.  They had rented a house in Eureka.  Mother introduced Gid to Todd Stewart who having survived the Chicago PD had happily settled into the quiet life of the occasional cross border cattle rustling, drug mules, people smugglers and sadly more prevalent drunk driving, and spousal abuse.  He was able to get Gid a part-time position with the force.  Missy found a job as a guidance counsellor at the middle school, where she was dearly loved.  They had four children, two of whom are still living in Eureka.”
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2014, 07:00:18 AM »
Chapter 34 – Settling in…

“I would like to say that life was easier once we were settled,” said John, “but it would be a lie.  Christmas allowed us all to bond a bit more on a positive note before the winter crashed down.”

*****
Jan felt like she spent the next month getting the kids sorted and settled into activities.  First she got Martin and Heather down to Kalispell.  Through one of the doctors at the clinic, she found an elderly lady who was willing to house the kids in exchange for house and yard work.  It was ideal as it gave them both some structure and supervision and it allowed Mrs. Higgins to stay in her house.  The kids came home on Friday nights and returned on Sunday with a box of food for the week.  Heather always ensured that Mrs. Higgin’s Saturday night dinner was cooked and only need to be reheated.  Martin found that he had more skills than he expected as he handled snow clearing and household repairs.

Under Dr. P’s supervision, Heather had written the exams for Medical Terminology and Basic Human Biology over the Christmas holidays and had passed with a 98% and a 96%.  So the College awarded her the courses.  Based on those marks they allowed her to take Math Applications for Allied Health Professionals, Transition to Paramedic Care, Introduction to Interpersonal Communication, and College Writing I as independent study courses with Dr. P. as her supervisor.  So when she wrote her exams in May, she passed not only all the second term courses with no mark lower than 90% but she also passed the four additional courses with marks in the 90s.  Jan was incredibly proud of her.

Heather sat down with her Guidance Counselor in April and explained that her deferral from the Army ended on December 31st, the Counselor worked with the program administrators and they found a way for Jan to complete the entire program by the end of December.  The only thing she would not be able to do was write her NREMT exam before boot camp started.  When they spoke with the local recruiting officer, he noted her accomplishments in her file and sent it up the line. 86Ws with an EMT-P rating were desperately needed and Heather would write the first available exam after boot camp.

Martin was excelling as well.  He had received a good grounding working for the Amish butcher in the CoKL.  But now he was learning how to process on a larger scale, how to make sausages, how to smoke meats… He really enjoyed his work and his friendly personality made him popular both at the processor and with the customers.  Wanting to further his studies, he took two on-line courses from Montana State University’s College of Agriculture.  Their Department of Animal and Range Sciences offered two courses that he felt would stand him in good stead – Introduction to Meat Evaluation and Meat Science.  Because he audited the courses he didn’t have to have the prerequisites and only had to pay $100/course.

With those two sorted out, Jan turned to look at the others.  Jamie was going to help her manage the farm and take on-line courses from the College of Agriculture.  At this point he would oversee the livestock operations.  Helping him when they were not in school were Eggie, Kyle and Sama.  Jan organized through the school and the 4-H program, that this work would be viewed as part of their required apprenticeship program.  They were all taking on-line course in their areas of interest.

Eric and his younger brother Tyler were engine and machine mad.  Jan went down to Frontier Repair, a company specializing in heavy equipment repair, and got them to take both boys.  Both of them loved it.  Jan watched as they spent hours tinkering with an old jalopy they had found.  John and David would stand around and hand them tools and be thrilled at being included.

Tom took himself down to Stein’s Market in Eureka and asked to speak with the grocery manager.  He talked his way into an unpaid internship.  Jan marched him back down.

“Mr. Houston,” said Jan.  “I need some clarification.  As Tom’s guardian, I would like to hear from you what this internship entails.”

Mr. Houston withered under Jan’s glare. His dreams of unpaid stock boys vanished and to his own surprise he laid out a two afterschool sessions per week that would entail ordering, projections, client tracking and marketing. Mr. Houston also said that he wanted to arrange for Tom to work at Darigold Distribution to see the process from the other side. Jan nodded and thanked him.

With sixty cows, Sama and Andrea didn’t have a lot of extra time.  But both spent time on the organic farm operation called Amalthia Organic Dairy**, which specialized in raising organic dairy goats.  Andrea went because the Smith family made cheese from their 280 strong goat herd.  The dairy also had whey-fed pigs and Kyle spent time there too, although it might have been the farmer’s daughter who caught his eye. 

“Are you taking Allison Smith to the dance?” Jan asked him.  Kyle blushed and nodded.

“Good.  Now time for the dating/sex talk…  Call all the others in… second though just make it the high school crowd.” Jan directed.

Kyle went and found everyone.  They slowly trickled into the living room and found seats around the kitchen table.  As usual, Jamie sat with his arm around Sarai.

“Okay everyone,” said Jan.  “Here’s the talk we all hate but need to have.  We need to have it for a couple of reasons in part because we are new to each other and new to this community.  You have all told me that you have goals and future plans and to get there we need to get you through the next couple of years without two things – one a criminal record, and two an illegitimate child.”

The kids all blushed and tried to avoid each other but giggled and blushed when they caught each other’s eyes.

“So here are the basic ground rules.  No dating until you are sixteen or in Grade 11.  Never go on dates alone, always with another couple.  I’d like to say no premarital sex but I am going to leave that to each of you and if decide you are, then condoms all the way, and I want you to tell me because I don’t want any of you guys accused of rape… which is really the reason for the no dates on your own.

“Girls, I expect you all to dress modestly.  If you look like you have something for sale, someone will try and grab.

“Okay all of you, I expect you to help each other.  If anyone gets targeted by bullies, I expect you to support your family.  I also expect that you will tell me and the teachers.
“Questions?”

“Are there curfews?” asked Jamie.

“Good question,” said Jan.  “Let’s start out with 9pm on a weekday and midnight on a weekend.  We can reassess on an individual basis and again in a couple of months. Anyone else?”

“Can we have sleep-overs?” asked Gail.

“While we are here in the restaurant, I’m going to say no,” said Jan.  “We really don’t have the space and we are not well enough known in the community.  If you want to go somewhere else, then we’ll discuss and I’ll talk to the parents.

“Now you all have apprenticeships and I would like you to each report to me weekly about what you are learning and any issues you are having.  I will speak to your mentors about the same.  We are new here and I don’t want any of you to become the whipping boys or slave labour.

“On a final note, I expect homework, school work, projects, ect. to be done.  We’ll put a giant calendar on the wall and put the due dates up there.  Also note your tests, events, parties.  Put your stuff up there so that we can make sure everything is done.  Anyone else?”

“Yeah,” said Sama.  “Can we make a rule about no boys in the girls’ room and vice versa?”

“Well that is sensible,” said Jan.

“How about no cursing?” asked Lydie.  “My grandparents had that rule so it shouldn’t be so hard to do.”

“This is a crock!” exploded Connor. “Why are you treating us like such babies!?!”

The other kids started to get annoyed.  As far the they were concerned the rules were pretty sensible.

“Which part of the rules are you objecting to?” asked Jan, keeping her tone level.

“Curfews… dating ages… reporting our work to you…” Connor ticked them off on his hand.

“Why do you think that they are unreasonable?” asked Jan again, wanting to know what he was thinking.

“Well 9:00pm is just so early! And what if the dance goes until midnight... Why do I have to leave early?” he demanded.

“Well during the week, you are picked up by the bus at 7:30am, then in school until 3:30pm, and then you are at the auto shop four days a week until 8pm. So if you still have homework or a test, does 9:00pm not give you enough time to get home and get that done?” asked Jan.

“Yeah… well I guess that makes sense…” Connor muttered.
“And you are quite right, if the dance ends at midnight, then of course you stay to the end and then drop off your date if you have one, but then you come home,” said Jan.

“But what if there are after parties?” demanded Connor.

“What happens at after parties?” asked Jan.

“Well people sit around and…” he stopped.

“That’s when the drinking, the drugs and the trouble starts to happen, right?” said Jan.

“Yeah,” said Connor, his tone still sulky but the point obviously starting to sink in.

“At this point, the reason for the curfew is to ensure that as you settle into the community you don’t end up in the type of trouble that can have a long lasting impact.  I ask about your apprenticeships for the same reason.  I ask about your school work because if you are struggling in something we need to deal with it before it becomes a major issue.  Connor, I promised the other kids that I would guide them through their teens and help them reach their goals.  By joining us, I offer you the same.  But I am not your mother…”

“Well that’s a good thing!” interjected Connor with heavy sarcasm.

“Be that as it may, what I mean is that I am here to be on your side and help you.  The rules are to make sure that you don’t get sidelined on stuff that will forever take away your ability to do what you want,” said Jan.  Connor just nodded that time.  The other kids got up and wandered off.


Jan checked her book.  She had Lydie all set-up with an apprenticeship at the Sunflower Bakery & Coffee House once a week and three afternoons a week baking with Mrs. Amos Yodder.  Gail would be working in the nursery and garden center owned by the Stewart family.  Erin Cody would be apprenticing with Mrs. Issac Yodder learning tailoring and sewing skills.  Despite her best efforts, she had been unable to place the kids with any of the West Kootenai Amish Community. 

*****
“Being tucked away on the far side of the Koocanusa Bridge, they were just too far away,” John told the Committee. “The CoKL Colony had all settled on the east side of the Kootenai River and the feeling that they had been sold defective goods remained for some time.  As the war progressed and the need for soldiers increased, the CoKL Colony used their pacifism to show their support by selling produce to the Army.  The West Kootenai Colony felt that that was a violation of their principles.  The one spring day the Army recruiters arrived in the West Kootenai and CoKL Colonies and asked who was on Rumspringa. All the unbaptized young men were drafted. They became known as the Wehrpflichtiger, the conscripted. It was a crisis moment for both Colonies and the later reintegration of the young men took a lot of work.

“Lydie and Erin both converted and married Wehrpflichtiger.  Lydie ran a bakery and had seven children.  She died in childbirth with the eighth, who did not survive.  Her husband Samuel married again and he brought the children to see mother regularly.  Erin was not quite so lucky.  Her husband had been badly scarred by his experiences on the front lines and in the end hanged himself in their barn.  Erin had found him when she went out to milk.  She continued on their farm and raised their six children.  She put food on the table with the skill of her needle.  Her prayer caps were particularly sought after.

“Gail married Alex Stewart, son of the nursery owner, and they took the garden center into its third generation.  They had two children.  The nursery is now owned by a grandson and is in its fifth generation.

“Heather made the Army her career,” John told the Committee. “Once she had finished basic, she was sent to Fort Sam Houston where her skills were reviewed.  From there she was assigned to a MASH unit and sent to the front lines.  After the war, she applied and was accept to the Inter-service Physician Assistant Program (IPAP).  She was a tough woman but very good at what she did.  She left the service at the end of her 20.  She had married another vet and they settled on 50 acres outside of Kalispell, where she worked in the hospital and taught at the college. 

Her husband was a retired Staff Sergeant named J.A. Ferguson from Havre, Montana.  He always claimed he fell in love with her when he cleared her family’s farm for Relocation west.  The story was the only thing that would make her blush.  He ran their small farm and stayed home to raise their two biological children and five adopted children.  Heather and Jay both lived into their nineties.

The October after he started his apprenticeship, Martin was called up to serve Uncle Sam three days after his 18th birthday.  After the nightmare that was called basic training, he was dispatched to the kitchens, here he found that his period of service was not to be on the front lines, rather it was to be feeding grunts.  He chaffed at what he saw as an easy assignment and got himself reassigned to a mobile kitchen.  He served through until the end of the war.  He came back a hardened 26-year old.  He took his pay, that he had sent home to Mom to be banked, and opened a butcher shop in Rexford.

Uncle Sam came call for Eric too and in due course Jamie, Eggie and Kyle.  As the years and the war dragged on Connor, Tom and Tyler were called in turn.  For so long we were lucky.  We had lost Mary but we knew she didn’t want to come back.  She was on a mission of revenge and as they say, she who seeks revenge starts by digging two graves*.  Tom lost a leg.  He was in supply and making a run between Reno and Nevada City, CA, when his truck was hit.  He was lost to us for a while but he finally came home. He spent years medicating himself with a bottle.  His wife left him and she left their small three children with my mother.  He did finally dry out and took his kids home.  He married again and they were a good team until their deaths about twenty years ago.

“Connor came home but joined up again with a mercenary group doing the things he was trained to do.  He still sent his pay home to our mother.  He was gone for years with only the odd call or postcard.  One day he appeared at my mother’s door with two small children in hand, and behind him stood a woman of Asian ancestry.  He introduced her as his wife Pakpao and their daughter Pen-chan (age 4) and son David (age 2). Young David was named for Connor’s father.  They settled in a small house in Rexford, near Martin and his family.  Pakpao began to run a greenhouse nursery, which soon developed into a thriving business.

“Eggie never came home.  He was listed as MIA, believed KIA, at the Battle of St. Louis.  In her heart of hearts, my mother died believing that one day he would come home.  His name is on the cenotaph but only after a long argument with the Legion and my mother.  She felt that putting it there would be an admission that he was gone.  We just wanted his commitment celebrated.  The Legion just wanted direction.

“For Sama all of the war and its continued destruction was too much.  She retreated more and more to the Amish community and began to walk out with Jonas Yodder.  Amos and his wife were pleased with the match and my mother sat proudly in the Yodder’s drive shed on the day that Sama was baptized.  The next year, Andrea married Martin Yodder, a cousin of Jonas’, and the two young couples settled down next door to each other.  Andrea’s daughters and granddaughters have long since taken over the cheese making business and they too have been very successful at it.

So for the older ones, the war years were defining.  I was coming up to seventeen and ready for my turn when the war ended.  So for me the was no war, but I know the sacrifices that were made.

For my mother life after the war was one of increased happiness.  With my father gone, she was able to lift her head and look.  To her surprise someone was waiting for her.”



======
Notes:
*Confucius “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
**Amalthia Organic Dairy – this is a real organic dairy goat operation but it is located in Bozeman.  I hope that the owners will forgive my moving their operation over to Eureka.  Everything I could read indicates that the Brown’s run a really first class operation.  For more information: http://amaltheiadairy.com/AD2/

 
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #37 on: April 21, 2014, 08:46:21 AM »
Chapter 35 – Spring melts…

The winter passed quickly.  The kids settled in with each other and the community.  There were still nights of tears as each child in their own way processed the loss of parents, family, friends and homes.  There were the usual school issues of dogs eating homework, lost library books, skipping class, and fights with friends.  But there were also moments of sheer joy as tests were aced, ribbons won at science fairs, badges earned at Scouts and testimonies given at Church.  There was also fear as the draft notices came in.

Jan found herself pulled between pillar and post, trying to be all things to all people.  Missy Donaldson dropped in one day and found her exhausted and crying.

“How many hours sleep you getting?” Missy demanded.

“About five and a half,” admitted Jan in tears.  “Between the babies being up and raring to go at 6am… and… and the older ones wanting to talk at midnight… I’m beat.  My mother-in-law and her new husband are seniors and can’t take on more… my husband has been brain damaged and needs constant monitoring and care… my cousin has moved out to the farm and is living in an old trailer… Oh, Missy, I need help…

“I thought that I would have Jamie here to help but his draft notice came in shortly after his birthday and he was gone like a shot. He left Sarai with a tiny chip on her finger as a promise to come back and she’s been a soggy mess ever since.  Eric, Eggie and Kyle have all receive their draft notices and all three pull out two days after graduation on June 17th.  Sally has been having screaming nightmares about the boys being killed which wake everyone up. John is loving being at school but he is having focus issues and is so easily distracted that he comes home with all his school work still to do.  I may have to go back to homeschooling him right away.

“The Yodders and their team are waiting for the frost to come out of the ground and then they’ll pour footings for the house and barn and then put them up.  We need a new barn for all the dairy cattle.  I can’t believe we have sixty of them, and they are going to start calving soon…”

Missy’s phone rang.  She gave Jan a hug and went and took the call.  Ten minutes later she sat down again with Jan.

“Okay,’ she said. “Here’s what we are going to do.  I work at the school three days a week. I am going to come up here the other two days.  Ginny is also going to come up here two days a week.  We are going to do this until you are in the new house and are fully unpacked.  I’ve spoken with John’s school, they have an aide for him who starts in a week. Now go have a nap.  I’ll wake you for lunch.”

With gratitude, Jan went back to bed.  The room that had originally been hers was now Jones’ and so she had moved her bed into the old cloak room.  With its window and door closed, it worked perfectly.  Jan snuggled between the warm flannel sheets, under her quilts, and fell asleep reassured that all was in good hands. Noon came and went and Missy let her sleep.

Jan woke shortly before 3:00pm.  She reached for her list but instead found herself writing what became a series of letters. Letters that had less to do with their recipient and more to do with needing to talk to someone who knew them but wasn’t directly involved.

*****
… you’d never believe that this was a kid who had never done a science project before.  It was quite impressive too.  He had built identical three simple engines and then showed how each worked with a different brand of motor oil.  He powered them off a lawn tractor.  He was absolutely beaming when the local newspaper took a picture of him.  Here’s the clipping. Even better, the school sent the results to the oil company and they are so impressed that they have awarded him a $10,000 scholarship towards a mechanical engineering degree at Montana Tech.  We really could not be prouder of him!

Missy has been a wonder.  I think I had been operating on a management high for too long.  She and Ginny gave me a couple of days to regroup and pull myself back together.  I’ll be forever grateful for that.  I am also learning, once again to say, I can’t do that.

We have a month until Eric, Eggie and Kyle leave for BCT at Fort Sill and everyone is trying to spoil them in some way. Eric is thrilled to be going to Fort Sill because General Sheridan was based from there and one of his scouts was Eric’ ancestor Buffalo Bill Cody. Eric is showing some rather interesting leadership skills.  He got online and found out what the daily work-out were for BCT (Basic Combat Training), and he then asked the Principle to call a meeting for all the kids who had received draft notices.  Those kids have been working out daily ever since.  They are up at 4:30am and in the school gym by 5:00am.  They have the sit-ups and push-ups down to a fine art and are running five miles a day.  Eric wants to take it up to seven miles so that anything else seems like a walk in the park.  There has also been talk about putting in a ropes course.  They want to pull the Boy Scouts into the building of it and the school is going to give them the land.

The farm is beginning to take shape.  The manure and bedding pile, together with kitchen compost, have steamed all winter and have mellowed to the point of being usable on the kitchen gardens.  We’ve decided where to place the houses and barns.  Fence posts and wire had been ordered and with the frost gone, building starts next week.  So we should be in two weeks today.

Take care.  Stay safe.  Know that we pray for you. All our best, Jan

Sitting in the mess tent outside of St. Louis, Sgt. Donaldson looked at the letter and the newspaper clipping and had to smile.  Looking at the young man sitting next to him, he showed him the clipping.  Jamie’s eyes lit up.

“Good on him! Connor really loves those engines,” he said. “I bet if you bled him, he’d bleed gasoline and motor oil.  The guys are going to be glad they did those workouts.  Wish I had thought to do that. Any word from Matt, sir?”

“No.  Only that his unit is down somewhere involved in the mess around Mobile,” said Donaldson.  “Mary has finished training and she is behind the lines somewhere in Ontario. She’s a very dangerous and quietly angry young woman. You in touch with her?”

“No sir,” said Jamie.  “I didn’t really know her before the train.  She might write Eggie or Kyle.  She used to go to school and work with them, but I wouldn’t count on it.  She won’t do anything that might break her cover.

“On another subject Sir, my unit pulls out tomorrow.  If something happens to me.  Please send this to Tante Jan.  It has another letter for Sara inside.  I have listed you and Tante Jan as my next of kin”

“I will son,” responded Donaldson.  He took the envelope and tucked it into his shirt pocket all the while praying it would never have to be delivered. They shook hands and Jamie left.

*****
“Thankfully he never had to deliver that letter,” John told the Committee.  “My mother watched the cars come up the drive for Mary and Eggie.  She cried for them like her heart was torn in two. It was shortly after 8am on August 30th that they came to tell her about Eggie.  He had listed her as his PNOK.  For many families who watched the War unfold on their television screens, it must have been a nightmare, but we didn’t have television and there is too much going on on the farm in August to be indoors glued to a computer screen.  So we didn’t hear about the Battle of St. Louis until it was over and frankly we didn’t know where any of the boys were so we were no more panicked when we did hear.  Now I know that they are supposed to notify you within 24-hours but we are miles from anywhere. 

“It was two army jeeps that came down our drive.  Nobody wanted to be there.  Not the man from the Legion, not the fresh faced theology grad who was serving as chaplain, nor the local recruiting officer who was given the grim duty, and most certainly not my mother. It was horrifically painful… made even more cruel because there could be no funeral.  He was gone. Blown to kingdom come by a bomb.  It would be nice to say that he died a hero’s death saving a small child or a comrade, but it was a useless waste.  An eighteen year old with a dream of chicken farming was dead.  He had been kind to us younger ones and we missed him.  Both he and Mary had had so much to offer and they were gone… Lost to political ideology and greed.

 “I can remember my mother trying to explain the war to us.  She told us that in this world nothing was free except love.  That Our Heavenly Father gave us skills and the abilities to use them and expected us earn a living. Some earned a lot because much value was placed on their skills.  Others earned less because it was deemed to be of less value. But regardless of whether you dug ditches or baked bread or carried out complicated surgery, you earned a living.  Nobody had the right to sit around and expect others to take care of them or their children because they were too lazy to get off their hind ends.  The expectation that all should be provide for free could be taken too far.

“She also told us that equality happened out of earned respect.  The colour of your skin, who you worshiped, your country of origin, should play no part.  But if you choose to move to a nation with its own culture and faith, you should not expect the inhabitants of that nation to set aside their culture and beliefs to accommodate yours. You are not more equal than the citizens of the country you move to.  That is what had happened in Canada, in many parts of Europe, in the US...”

... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #38 on: April 21, 2014, 08:47:49 AM »
Chapter 36 – Barn raising…

At 6:00am on the 24th of May… on the Queen’s Birthday*… the two teams of barn builders broke ground for the house and barns.  Added to the team were various community members who had come to know the McConnell clan.  The guys from Frontier Repair had brought cranes.  Amos Yodder admitted they had never worked with a crane crew before but happily admitted that things sure moved a treat faster when the logs, rafters and ridge poles were lifted in place. By 4pm on the first day the first 100 man crew had Jan’s log house and the Schmidt’s frame house raised, fitted together, sub floors in and tarped.  The second 100 man team had the log cattle barn, the drive shed and garage done.

The men who worked ranged in age from Johnny Knapp, age 16, to Ernest Knapp, aged 60. The speech was mostly in Pennsylvania German with English spoken as needed. Around them ran what seemed to be another hundred boys who fetched and carried and learned from watching. John and David and the Three Amigos were in the thick of things.  When they were tired of that, they headed to the field and played baseball.  The young men worked with as much skill as their elders.  When Jan asked Sarai Yodder about it the answer back was simple.

“Of course our young men build well.  They learn as small children, participate from the age of sixteen and by the time they are twenty-one have often been part of the building of more than ten barns,” Sarai Yodder, wife of Amos, told her.

Throughout the day, Jan and the girls served an endless supply of coffee, tea, milk and water, to the over 200 men working in the two teams. Lydie and Sarai Yoder had a table full of tasty sweet breads, doughnuts, 20 large cakes (raisin cake, bundt cake, and chocolate cake), dozens of cookies, 130 pies (lemon pie with huge hats of meringue, sugar pie, pecan pie, raspberry pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, and a single Saskatoon berry pie) and 200 tarts (raisin butter tarts, blueberry tarts and almond custard tarts).  There were also huge bowls of tapioca pudding, applesauce and cornstarch pudding. Andrea had contributed some of her soft cheeses.  At 12noon, the wives of other team members served an enormous lunch – pans of roast chicken, thick slices of hams and peameal bacon with slathers of Russian honey mustard, schnitzel, roast beef, sour kraut, 14 pails of potato salad,3-bean salad, bowls of leaf lettuce, sliced tomatoes, at least seven different types of pickles, and hard boiled eggs.  Jan had never seen such a layout of food.

The men sat at trestle tables and ate off china dishes and used real silver ware, bought a piece at a time from a thousand yard sales. When all were seated, Bishop Miller stood and a quiet grace was said over the food.  The food was put on the table and each ate according to his hunger.  They ate quickly with so much to do.  Small children perched on knees and ate off their parents or siblings plates.  There wasn’t a lot of chatter.  Within the half hour, men were rising from the table and heading back to work and the women began the enormous task of washing dishes.  The food table looked like it had swarmed, but there was enough left to feed the McConnell clan that evening.

While the buildings were going up, Rachel Yodder, wife of Isaac, and a couple of other women plowed the ten acres of the home garden.  They had pretty little Haflinger mares, that pulled well and were easily managed. One of Rachel’s daughters then began to spread the manure.  A second daughter followed behind discing it in.  Jan then brought out her cold frames and with a wall of hay bles to protect them from the north winds, the frames were faced south and filled with more manure, top soil and salad seedlings.  The manure in the soil raised the temperature enough to allow for the planting of peas.

On the second day, the walls, windows and doors went into the house.  The outhouses were dug, the hand pumps were connected to the drilled wells.

Shortly after 1pm, Stewart’s Nursery arrived and began to erect as 30’x10’ greenhouse on the end of her small one attached to the garage.  Jan was dismayed.

“I didn’t order this!” She protested.

“Oh we aren’t giving it to you,” said Dan Stewart.  “Its been paid for.”

“By whom?” Jan asked, panic rising…

“It’s from Gideon & Melissa Donaldson and Tyler Donaldson, with thanks for the care, affection and amazing turn around you’ve effected in their nephew,” Dan told her with a huge grin.

“Oh wow!” said Jan, her eyes bright.

“Surprise!” shouted Missy, giving her a hug.

Jan fanned her eyes and Connor came over and hugged her too.

“You gave me a life,” he told her.  “If I’d stayed with my mom, I’d probably be dead or in jail by now.  Instead I have a scholarship and a future.”

Jan hugged Connor back.  “You did that yourself.”

“I told them that you dreamed of one like this,” said Connor.  “Did I get it right?”

“Oh boy did you ever,” said Jan fervently.

She had one of the ladies take a photo of herself, John, Connor, Gid & Missy in front of the assembled greenhouse.

*****
…Its gorgeous!  It really is.  I already have pepper and cucumber seedlings in there.  I have used one of the interior partitions to create a cucumber house.  There used to be this show on YouTube called the Victorian Kitchen Gardner with this amazing head gardener named Harry Dodds.  He had the most amazing glass houses and these long glass tubes for growing straight cucumbers – apparently the natural curve of a cucumber was too naughty and suggestive to be eaten by proper Victorian ladies.  Anyways… I was at an auction a decade or so ago and bought a box of them.  So we’ll give them a try.  Lord knows the girls get giggly at anything naughty or suggestive.

The rest of the greenhouse is filling up with seedlings.  We are still firing up the wood stove at night to keep it warm.

It was an incredibly generous gift.  Thank you.

Stay safe, Jan.

He sat there in a tent, along the front line south of Vicksburg and ran his finger over the picture.  He knew the letter off by heart.  He looked at the boy laid out on the cot, his shoulder bandaged.

“Not to worry,” said the surgeon stopping by to look at the chart.  “Farm boys are remarkably resilient.  It was a through and through.  Minimal damage.  He one of yours?”

“Not in the way that you mean,” said Donaldson. “He was one of the kids whose families were relocated.  Parents were killed.  This woman on the train took in him and his 19 siblings and cousins.  By the time they reached Eureka, Montana, she’d taken on eleven more, including my nephew.”

“That’s one hell of a woman!” exclaimed the surgeon.

“Sure is,” said Donaldson. “Not sure what any of these kids would have done without her. She also adopted a couple of old people.”  He handed the surgeon the photo of Jan with all the kids.

“Pretty thing,” mused the surgeon, his brain already moving on to the next case.

“Yeah… but married,” sighed Donaldson.

“Well at least she has support.  If I ever get home, I’m going to find me one like that too,” said the surgeon.  The smile in the photo stayed with him as moved on down the row. ‘Yep,’ he thought. ‘Once this war is over, I’m a gonna find me one like that and we’ll settle back into the mountains and raise a family. No more fancy city girls for me…’

The boy on the cot stirred and Donaldson refocused his ttention as the kid opened his eyes and look at him with pain and confusion.

“What? Sarge?” the eyes closed in pain.

“None of that now,” said Donaldson quietly and in a firm voice. “Just tell me Matt, what the hell am I supposed to tell your Tante Jan?!?!

*****
“You know,” John said to the Committee.  “It was the first time one of us was injured, but it wouldn’t be the last.  Donaldson kept an eye out for all of them as much as he could.  It actually became a bit of a joke.  I think it was after Kyle got hit that we heard about the joke.  The kids Donaldson watched out for had become known as his Ducks.”

One of the Committee members barked with laughter. After a moment, a couple more got the joke and laughed too.

“Yeah, they became known as Donaldson’s Ducks.  Later they added a patch to their uniforms… unofficial and all but it was of a bright yellow rubber duck.”

The Congressman from Colorado looked up sharply. “There was a man in my Grandfather’s unit called Duckie Ball. We used to laugh about the name.”

“Yes, that was my brother… Kyle Ball,” John told him.  “He married a girl he met in the army.  She was a midwife and practical nurse.  They settled near her hometown of Fruita, Colorado, but eventually they came back to Rexford and bought a house across from Martin in Rexford.  She hung out her shingle and worked as a midwife for the community. Kyle raised pigs on some land outside of town and sold them direct to Martin.  If I recall correctly they had six children.

“They had a Ducks reunion about five years after the war ended.  Men came from all over to give thanks to Donaldson.  Over the course of the war he had risen to the rank of Master Sergeant.  As an enlisted man, he was proud to have risen so high.  He was a doer and wanted nothing more than to be able to lead men in battle. He did so and that he brought most of them home again was a testament to his leadership.”


=====
* “The 24th of May is the Queen’s Birthday.  If we don’t get holiday, we’ll all run away.”  The 24th of May is a statutory holiday in Canada.  The Queen referenced is Queen Victoria.  One of our most popular holidays, often referred to as the “two-four”, in Southern Ontario, it is generally considered the start of the cottage season, the start of the growing season, the start of summer…

... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!

Offline Lake Lili

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Re: Story - Neighbours
« Reply #39 on: April 21, 2014, 08:49:04 AM »
Chapter 37 – Small Casualties…

The parking lot of the R&R gas station in Dryden, Virginia, had sprouted a MASH unit.  It was the only building left standing in the community of just over 1,200 people.  There was a constant flow of casualties coming in from the battle at Big Stone Gap.  The Blues had opened the gates of the Wallens Ridge State Prison and armed the inmates as they left.  Amazingly, they were surprised when the first order of business in the inmates mid was to eliminate those who armed them.  The Red had then had a series of running battles with some inmates, while others were trying to join them to fight the Blues.  It was an unmitigated mess with no one sure who was fighting who.  And as anyone will tell you battles in the mountains have less to do with current issues and more to do with century old patterns of inter and intra-familial tribal warfare.  The patterns were set in the highlands and borderlands of Scotland and brought with them to North America.

Dr. George Anderson had been treating men all day, when the first child was brought in.

“Her name is Sadie Bishop.  The name is supposed to mean something but I can’t figure out what the woman is saying, and given her level of wounds we won’t find out either.  Her friend Ellie Gilbert is outside waiting for the next surgeon.  Both were covered in wood spliters.  Most have been removed but you can see there the big ones need some more delicate work.  Their house sustained a direct hit and the lumber became flying matchsticks,” said the nurse.

The surgeon looked at the large piece of lumber sticking out of the child’s back.  It took them almost 35 minutes to remove it and reinflate her lung.  He kept her sedated for another 24-hours to make sure that there was minimal movement.  Her friend Ellie had a broken leg but was otherwise fine.  The nursing staff had great fun with the girls, braiding their hair and painting their nails. For two weeks the girls were papered and made pets of by the wounded soldiers.  But the issue of what to do with them was a big one.  Both girls were six-years old.  The woman caring for them was dead.  They had each other but no one else.  Both were only children and neither knew where their parents had gone.

It was Anderson who came up with the idea.

“Back at Vicksburg,” he told his CO, “there was this Staff Sergeant named Donaldson who had worked with some of the Relocated families.  His unit had worked as an escort unit for a family that went to Montana.  Along the way the woman took in 31 war orphans.  Perhaps she can take our little ones.  We’re pulling out in 2-days and we can’t leave them here or take them with us.”

“Chr--t on a bicycle… couldn’t you find someone closer!” exclaimed the CO.

“Well just about anything closer would put them back in the middle of the war.  At least Montana is currently out of the conflict zone,” pointed out the Chief Nurse.  Blonde, stacked and actually named Margaret, she resented any suggestion that she might be this war’s answer to Hot Lips Houlihan.

“Okay…” said the CO in a cranky tone. “Get my clerk to get it organized.”

*****
Jan stood on the train station platform in Kalispell with ten-year old Sally Cody.  It was seven months since they had arrived on the platform.  Seven months of back breaking work, incredible joy and shattering pain.  They had all settled into the new house.  The kids had done well in school and it was decided to keep them there for the next year.  With assistance John had improved to the point that Jan was willing to keep him there too.

The week before, Gid had arrived with a telegram from Dr. George Anderson, the surgeon who had fixed Matt.  It asked if she could take in two more war orphans from Virginia.  Jan agreed provided there was a stipend or something to help get them started.

The train pulled in and a young female Private got off with two girls in BDUs someone had cut down for them.  Sadie was starting to bounce again and Ellie was getting around on crutches.  Jan signed for them and then took them to McDonalds to get something to eat.  Sally chatted away with them as they drove to the huge Salvation Army Thrift Store in Kalispell.  The girls went wild.  Jan explained that in their house, modest dress was appropriate.  So the girls picked long skirts, t-shirts with sleeves and Bermuda-length shorts.  They each got a sparkly purse and a raincoat.  They were also able to get some sandals, runners and rubber boots.  At the back, Jan was able to get two twin mattresses and some pillows.

While they were in town, the boys had built another set of bunk beds for the girls’ room.  With the addition of Sadie and Ellie there were now eleven girls in the room. Agnes and Inga had just graduated from the Puppy Room, which housed all the pre-school kids and toddlers.  Sadie and Ellie were given the top bunks with Agnes and Inga below.  Sally, Erin, Gail and Lydie were in another set of four bunks.  Sama, Andrea and Sara all had single beds.  The girls had chosen a sunny yellow for the walls.  The wood trim was all painted white. 

On the walls, the girls had painted several quotes:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.  1 Timothy 4:12

and

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

It all looked fresh and clean and welcoming to the two small girls from Virginia.

Over the next several days, the girls led them around the farm.  They met all the other who lived on the farm.  They admired the rabbits and chickens, but were surprised when they asked their names and they were called either lunch, dinner or BBQ.  They thought that was gross.  So Sally pointed out that,

“This is called a farm because we eat what we grow here.”

“My daddy had a farm too but we didn’t eat anything from it!” said Sadie hotly.

“Did you have animals?” asked Sally.
“We had horses,” said Sadie.

“We have horses too.” Sally told her.  “We have two teams of horses to pull the tractor and seven riding horses.  Can you ride?”

Sadie hung her head.  “I can.  Really I can.  I know I didn’t win any ribbons last year but I can ride.”

“She’s really good.  She can even go over small jumps!” said Ellie with pride for her friend.

“We don’t do a lot of that type of riding.  We go on trail rides and see special places in the mountains,” Sally told her.  “Did you like doing competitions?”

“No,” Sadie said.  “But Daddy wanted me to because then he could talk to other parents and do business.  Mommy did lots of competitions.  She had a whole room full of ribbons and silver trophies.  If I can ride and not have to do competitions that would be good.”

“We’ll talk to Tante Jan about it.  She’s in charge of the horses and nobody touches a horse without her saying it’s okay.” Sadie could see that Sally was serious.  She also liked that these people had horses and a good barn, even if she didn’t think that they should be pulling tractors.

Sally then took them over and showed them the Belgian team.  They were huge and Sadie backed up so fast she toppled Ellie on her crutches.  They went down in a pile and Sally had to call in David to help her get the girls straightened up again.  David became Ellie’s hero as the boy helped her up and got her crutches back the way they should.  But both girls were hurting after the fall so Sally took them back to the house and got them some ice tea.  She sat them out on the porch in the big arm chairs and the both soon fell asleep.  Sally covered them with quilts and then sat and watched over them while she did mending.  She really admired what Erin could do and wanted to be able to sew just like her, so Erin was teaching her to darn socks, fix rips at knees and hem skirts and pants.

Jan stood at the front door and smiled at Sally giving her a big thumbs up.  She turned and went back to her desk.

Dear Dr. Anderson,

The girls arrived safely and are settling in as well as can be expected.  I gather that our farm is a bit of a letdown for Sadie who was expecting a large horse farm like her parents had.  Ellie seems to be awed with everything.  She is hobbling around well and we have taken her to our local medical clinic, where they have confirmed your file and that the green stick fracture is healing well.  They want to give it another 6-weeks or so before the cast will come off.  Given the un-level nature of the farm property and all the activity happening here, the doctors felt it better to give Ellie the support for that bit longer.

They both seem to be settling in well and are mixing well with the other girls.  The boys still think frogs are more interesting than girls but Sadie may give them all a run for their money if she can leave the entitled princess attitude behind.

We heard last week from Sgt. Donaldson and our boys, whom I gather are now called his Ducks, are all well.  Matt has recovered, and our thanks to you for you work on his shoulder.

My regards to you and your colleagues.  Please know that we will pray not only to a rapid end to this conflict but also for your safety.

Regards, Jan McConnell

Sealing the envelope, Jan went to get dinner started with Grandma, Sara and Erin.  Lydie had brought home a new dessert today from the Yodders - five gooey caramel pies.  She was working perfecting her pastry crust, so the family was eating a lot of pie these days.  It wasn’t that anyone objected but Jan was starting to dream of cake.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 08:51:52 AM by Lake Lili »
... if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what flock are ye?  - Alma 5:39

Remember to keep clear the line between sheep and sheeple!