Monday, May 9, 2011

Part Sixteen: Tidings

Part 16: Tidings

Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar. -William Wordsworth

The next two days passed quickly. What we decided to classify as an “attempted raid,” though only the Good Lord knew what it should really be called, occurred on the night of the fifth day that Tag’s people were here. The sixth day was pretty much shot in clean up and recuperation. The seventh day, typically one of rest, was a day of reports and sampling and going back over diagrams and weather patterns. I answered more questions that day than I had all of the others combined as Dog and the others double checked their notes.

One thing of note that happened that day was that Liz made herself a batch of almond milk and brought me the pulp and asked if I knew of anyway to use it. Actually I did but I had to pull out my old recipe files from college to find the recipe. Using that pulp we made Almond Cinnamon “Bread” in the dehydrator.

I can’t ever say that I would have six cups of almond pulp for just Mateo, the children, and I but if I had almonds and if I had a refrigerator - both of which were on my dream list – I could save the pulp until I had enough to use. Liz had made enough for all of the cooking needs for not only the Ag Crew but Tag’s men as well so coming up with six cups of pulp was no strain and she was happy to find a use for it so that it didn’t go to waste. I had the flax seed the recipe since I had bought over fifty pounds of the stuff back when we were still relatively flush with money and had someplace to spend it. Mateo had wanted to know why I had bought one hundred and fifty pounds of flax and at the time all I could tell him was because I got a great deal on a bulk sale; stupid but true. I still had quite a bit of it left although lately I had been going through more trying to extend my wheat flour with whatever I could come up with. And before that I had been using flax to replace eggs in my baking until the geese and ducks came along.

We started by mixing the six cups of almond pulp with two cups of flaxseed meal. To that we added a cup of olive oil, a half cup of honey and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. After that was thoroughly mixed I added two teaspoons of sea salt and a cup of seeded raisins; I learned very quickly to seed the raisins before I dried them when I started making my own. Trying to seed raisins after the grapes are dry is just about the most frustrating activity known to man in my book.

Next the “bread making” got interesting and downright messy. I had to use some of my precious plastic wrap and cover one of my dehydrator screens. I had teflex trays from my electric dehydrator but they were an awkward and wasteful fit in my homemade solar dehydrator. We pressed the dough onto the plastic wrap until it was about a quarter inch thick. I dried it that way until the worst of the stickiness was under control and then I used the plastic wrap to flip it so it could dry thoroughly on both sides. You can dry it to the crispy stage or you can leave it chewy, either way it is good and was a treat for the evening meal.

I went to bed that night both relieved and apprehensive that Tag’s people would be leaving the next day. “Does that make sense?” I asked Mateo after telling him how I felt.

“Of course it does. Do you think I am any different mi Amor? I would like them to go so that we can return to our lives and our own schedule. I am tired of seeing you wait on them, you are always so tired. No Leah … I won’t be gainsaid on this. Yes, they are very nice but you are trying to keep up with our home while teaching them new ways to take care of theirs. It is a great deal of work for all of us to have these guests and I am glad to see it coming to an end. On the other hand … we did learn something from them and I do understand the enjoyment of having other people around and hearing news from the outside. The radio will help with that from now on … but speaking to someone in person is still superior to merely hearing something over the airwaves. And I am sure that it was nice to have adult female company. I remember my mother complaining to my sister – I was a small boy but I still remember – that when she married and moved out of the family home my mother was afraid she would have no one to talk to.”

I gave him a hug because I knew how much he struggled with sharing things from his growing up years. “I’m not your mother, I’m me. I admit it is nice having Liz and Juliet here but I don’t have a problem with you being my only adult to converse with most of the time.” I felt rather than saw his grin in the dark of our bedroom. “If I know there will be other times to visit with people then I’m content with the way our lives are. I’m sure it is nice having other men around for you; definitely with regard to moving some of the heavier things that you’ve managed to salvage … and for added security.”

“Yes to both. On the other hand I’ll be happy when our privacy returns. I know you consider it idiocy … and I’ll even admit that it may well be … but I am not comfortable with all of these men around you when I am not here.” I didn’t growl at him for his feelings but rather tried to see it if our positions were reversed and I have a feeling I wouldn’t like to be off working knowing that he was surrounded by unattached females.

There were definitely pros and cons to them going just like there were many to their visit in the first place. The next morning, in preparation of them heading out in the late afternoon, I was in the middle of packing some dried herbs to send to Tag when Joseph ran over with a message from Sgt. Ortiz. “Don’t panic, there’s a patrol coming in.” After a sour look he added, “Major Dunham is with them.”

“Why does that name sound familiar?” I asked while trying to remember where I’d heard it before.

He humped a disgruntled sigh and said, “He’s Major Taglione’s counterpart. He’s … he’s a … OK, he’s not horrible and I know it sounds childish ‘cause Major Tag has told us it does but he gets irritated real easy and he treats civilians like we’re just little kids or something.”

I bit the inside of my cheek finally remembering the name and the circumstances that I had heard it under. Juliet was basically complaining of the same thing to Dog after some radio communiqué. Later Dog explained to me that the Major just wasn’t happy about actual kids – anyone under eighteen – holding a civilian job, especially not one that took them outside of the secured compounds. Having been around kids in one form or another my whole life, and having been one myself less than a decade ago, I wasn’t sure I agreed with the idea that eighteen years was some magical point of adult passage but you had to pick some arbitrary number when you were dealing with rules and regs and it was the way most people probably still viewed things. All in all however it seemed that Major Dunham was one of those men that were armor plated on the outside and a marshmallow underneath, but God forbid that anyone should ever know.

“When will they be here?” I sighed, wondering if all of the plans I had for the day needed to be rearranged yet again.

“About twenty minutes,” he told me before heading back at a run to finish packing up.

I finished with the herbs to give to Liz for her to put with the seeds and starts of other herbs and veggies I’d given her and then the children and I went inside to clean up and make sure that there was enough cool water so that everyone’s canteens could be refilled if necessary. The weather was quite warm relatively speaking and the lower than normal humidity level seemed to wick the moisture right out of you before you realized it. I sat out a couple of bottles of blackberry shrub – a thick syrup that could be added to water for flavor and rehydration – in case anyone wanted a pick me up.

I went inside to wash my face and do something with my flyaway hair and as I came back out I heard the rumble of three vehicles. The first one looked like a tricked out honest to goodness military vehicle done in some kind of jungle camouflage. The other two vehicles, one a transport and one something that looked like a cobbled together humvee, were also done in jungle camouflage. I noted it because they could have pulled off the road into the bushes and I might very well not have seen them … heard them though and they were loud in the quiet morning air.

At first glance Major Dunham is not what you would call impressive. The man was … well, not scrawny exactly, but I wouldn’t ever classify him as anything more than lean. And he was short by male standards; if he was a full 5’7” he accomplished it with the heel of his boots. But one look at his face and you knew making a comment that came anywhere near commenting on his size would be a bad idea. His face had that stiff, controlled look that men with bad tempers tended to develop when they had to exercise restraint more than was comfortable on a regular basis.

I came up beside Mateo right as Major Dunham began talking. “You two, I presume, are Major Taglione’s pet outlanders.”

Well I can tell you it didn’t get any better from there but for some reason Mateo seemed to find the Major a source of amusement. I on the other hand was having a very difficult time remaining passively polite in the face of such obvious … obvious something. There was condescension and disdain in there but there was also real irritation, but whether it was directed at us or at Tag or just what or who I couldn’t tell. To be honest I wasn’t sure that I cared; Major Dunham was quickly falling to the bottom of my want-to-get-to-know list. And since I was real close to being simply too tired to be polite I said, “No need to spend any more time around here than necessary Major. If you are finished with putting us in our place you’ll find that we’ve courteously provided you and your people with some cool, fresh drinking water and a few munchies.” I turned to Mateo – catching a glimpse of some rather startled faces behind him while he himself was trying to keep his lips from twitching – and added, “Lunch will be ready shortly.”

I didn’t exactly stomp off but I was not singing tra-la-la as I returned to the house either. Mateo found me in the kitchen about fifteen minutes later trying to control my desire to slam the plates a little too forcefully onto the table. “Ah … mi mujer de mal genio … you are beautiful.”

“Don’t you try and schmooze me Mateo Jakob, I’m not in the mood. And just what do you mean I’m your hot tempered woman? I was as polite as the day was long but if anyone, you included, thinks I am just going to stand there and be treated like … like … grrrrr.”

His grin was a sight to behold. “There was steam wafting from the top of your head Leah.”

“And you think that’s amusing do you?”

“So long as it is not directed at me, yes. He is … he is a man not comfortable in his skin Love.”

Flabbergasted I asked, “That … that arrogant, conceited …?!”

“Yes. If he was as confident as he wishes everyone to think he would not feel the need to … how did you put it … put others in their place. He has a difficult job and probably has to fight for the respect he gets, especially with civilians. He is the type of man that worries that showing any softness could destroy all that he has had to work so hard for. I imagine that as contemptuous as he sounded he gets on his knees in prayer to thank God above that nothing happens to your Major Tag. Can you imagine what a nightmare dealing with civilians must be for him? Especially children? Those he considers helpless?”

I grumbled a bit and said, “Tell him to drop the sheep dog act and teach them to defend themselves rather than assuming they’re unable to take care of themselves and maybe his job wouldn’t be so hard.”

“But then love, what would the sheep dogs of this world do for a living?”

“Humph,” I grumbled. “How on earth does Tag put up with that?”

“Probably better than you would think. She strikes me as the type of person that can give as good as they take and I suspect Major Dunham has more reason to respect her than he lets on.”

“Fine. Whatever,” I said unwilling to completely concede the point but unwilling to turn it into an argument either. “I’m just glad he will be gone soon.”

“About that …”

All I could do was turn and look at him. “No.”

“You haven’t heard anything to say no to yet,” he grinned.

“Fine. Tell me … and then I’ll say no.” He laughed outright at the look on my face and after a moment I felt myself start to grin unwillingly. “Oh, all right. Just tell me I won’t have to put up with him for long.”

It wasn’t as bad as I had worried about it being. I had very little to do with Major Dunham that day. I don’t think it was avoidance on either of our parts, we were simply busy at our own tasks. Mateo had more to do with him than I did and by the end had formed a more favorable impression.

“Mmmm, it is good to be home, it has been a long day. How was your day mi Tesoro?” he asked as he bent to wash his face and hands in the basin of wash water I had set out for him. It was early evening and just turning dark, he spent the day of showing the Major and his men where the bodies were buried – figuratively and literally. Also, there was an accounting of the equipment from the raid a few days previously … but what they didn’t know about the one we handled on our own was that we’d already stashed what we could use and hidden what we couldn’t use right now.

“Busy and … overwhelming. You look tired,” I said in concern as I sat and watched him quickly strip, wash, and then climb into the bed I had already used a warm skillet to get the dampness out of.

“Major Dunham … he is a very energetic man. I think he would even impress you. Every time I thought about it too much I could see you calling him that pink rabbit from that battery commercial and had to stop myself from laughing.”

“Honestly,” I snorted and rolled my eyes as I guided him to a position that I could massage liniment into his tired and sore back. “Are you trying to tell me he is just a cute and fluffy bunny? Well I’m not buying it. The man is cranky and crabby and cold.” I finished and massaged the remaining liniment into my own hands that were aching as well. He put a shirt on and then we both lay down. After he snuggled up behind me I felt his smile as he kissed my shoulder. The night was dark and moonless and since I couldn’t see his face I asked, “What are you smiling about?”

A quiet chuckle was followed by, “Just thinking of Major Dunham’s expression if he were to hear you describe him as a fluffy bunny.” He gave another quiet chuckle so as not to wake the children and then explained. “No. The man is certainly not ‘fluffy’ or particularly friendly but he is fair and has an aura of barely restrained energy, a deep well of it. He takes his job and his responsibilities seriously. His commitment is all consuming, very Type A. He reminds me of some of the young traders I used to work with, the ones that always seemed to be right on the edge of burn out.”

I shrugged. “I got the impression from Juliet that his wife is practically a saint. Very delicate and ladylike and works in the Chaplain’s office at the Base. Both of their kids are in the Guards since they never made it through basic training before things fell apart.”

“Both?” Leah, they have … had … five children.” Hearing this I sighed and tensed a bit trying to protect my emotions from that “had.” Mateo pulled me closer. “They lost a son … changed to KIA after he’d been listed as MIA after his unit was attacked at the Suez Canal. Their daughter was an interpreter at the UN and was at work when the bomb was detonated.”

“And … and the other one? You said they have five.”

“Their youngest. A little girl. She has Downs and is on the triage list. Apparently she has some breathing problems related to the Downs and gets respiratory infections fairly easily. It is basically accepted that at some point home care won’t be sufficient.”

“Sufficient? Oh … oh you mean … oh no.” I shuddered, the parent in me quaking in compassionate sympathy. “So now I feel churlish,” I told him.

“Don’t. Major Dunham is … let us just say that just because God has allowed him to face challenges and pain doesn’t mean it excuses his … we’ll call it his communication style. Without Major Taglione acting as a filter with the civilians things would be a mess, more like those early refugee camps than the constructive and mutually beneficial work groups that they have now.”

Tag’s name immediately brought to mind the letter that Major Dunham had handed me after a resigned sigh that bordered on a disapproving snort. I opened it after he walked away, the rigid set of his back reminding me of one of my dad’s earthy sayings … he walked like he had a corn cob stuck in an uncomfortable portion of his anatomy. Thinking of my dad distracted me so much that it took me a moment to really absorb what I was reading. When I did I had to stop and go back to the beginning and reread it … twice … before all but running to Mateo.

Leah & Mateo,

Hope this finds you and yours well. Here is your next allotment and don’t give me any guff about it. We’ve had this conversation before and it has never truer than it is turning out to be right now; the fewer people that we have to process through intake the better for us all. We need successful settlements to set an example to all of those that are currently housed in the refugee camps. We are seeing an increasing number of refugees from the north making their way into the state in an attempt to escape what is expected to be a harsh winter. Besides it is little enough as it is and just as before I cannot promise more. Infrastructure damage makes even our own supply lines catch as catch can.

Also included are supplies you are to consider as the payment for the training you two have provided. Again, no guff. While you Leah may have done it merely to be helpful, your man did it for other reasons of which I am sure you are aware of by now. I would do the same in his boots. The sooner we can re-establish some kind of constructive economy the better. It does no one any good to assume the government will care for them from cradle to grave. Self-sufficiency of her citizenry is the only way we are going to get this country back on her feet.

Regarding the supplies, the goats were Juliet’s idea from her last radio report. She stated that you were willing to part with two mating pairs of ducks and two goslings to genetically diversify our flocks here. We’ll return the flavor on the next patrol but I have no definitive date for that yet. Hopefully the goats … of which we have more than we can realistically care for with our current resources … will make up for that. You’ll notice only a hundred pounds of rice and a hundred pounds of wheat in the inventory I sent. Unfortunately between physical infrastructure damage and weather irregularities the harvests of both have been radically reduced. Corn and oats are nearly as bad in some areas of the country but the reduced population and the fact that we are not exporting (except to Canada in exchange for oil) has offset the worst of what could be. If I know you Leah, the remaining supplies will not be difficult for you to manage and utilize even if they are strange to you.

You’ll notice that there are a couple of cases of mixed items. These are odd lots that aren’t moving or cause me too many headaches in the Civilian Exchange where people can “spend” their work credits. I’m not sure what all is in there. We finally just started tossing the ends and bits and pieces into cases and giving them out to the groups that are homesteading. A couple of groups use them as barter items or charity items but I suggest you hold off on that until after the winter is over with.

I’ve also included a condensed report for Matt of all of the publically known targets and infrastructure damage. He’ll appreciate it in light of what he has already been told. And with that in mind, it is my duty if not my pleasure to warn you that the coming months may prove to be stressful ones as refugees are forced to utilize the Outlands and as some of the less civilized influences make their way here as well. All I can do is encourage you to prepare as best you can and to listen to the radio you now have for any news. Your gardens may be at particular risk and you should make every effort to secure your homestead. There have also been reports of increasing incursions by foreign traffic. More bombing raids are not out of the realm of possibilities. I’ve been told that securing MacDill is a priority but I’m not sure if that is going to make things worse or better for you.


PS. The pup is from our family to yours. Our mutt had puppies and even I don’t make enough work credits to feed all of those extra mouths. She’ll make a good guard dog for the kids. She isn’t particular and will eat ‘possum as easily as Alpo. Her sire is one of the dogs that guards the livestock and she looks more like him than like her dam. Figures. What on earth are we going to do with 8 puppies that are a cross between a Golden Retriever/Shepherd mix and a Kangal Dog? They are either going to be huge and gorgeous or ugly as homemade sin on Sunday.

I laughed at her closing comment but my breath still came in short gasps for a while and my heart took even longer to settle down. It was completely unexpected on my part and both Mateo and I were shaking a bit as we unloaded it from the back of the covered transport. Joseph and Juliet helped to get it to our lanai but then they, along with Mateo, were called to answer Major Dunham’s questions. It was left up to me to deal with it all and I inventoried it as I put it away.

I picketed the four goats – two nannies, one kid, and one male – and then put the puppy on an improvised leash so that he could get used to his surroundings without having to worry about him running off. Then the children and I turned our energies the rest of the bounty. Tag was right, a hundred pounds of wheat wouldn’t go far but it added to what we had left in our supplies and the other grains would help me to stretch it pretty far. A hundred pounds of rice would also go quick if I wasn’t frugal with it, but I still had about a hundred pounds left so that would make a total of about six five-gallon bucketfuls.

There was also a hundred pounds of oats, about half of it rolled and the rest in groats. And then a hundred pounds of whole kernel corn. I saw it and gave a prayer of thanksgiving that Mateo had insisted on buying a good quality grinder and spare parts that could be both manual and automated when we’d had the chance early on in our preparations. I’ve left it manual but if I was going to have to grind our grain on a daily basis I would need to figure out some type of power for it … possibly pedal power; even Nydia could help with that.

The other grains were a mixed lot: forty pounds of rye, twenty pounds of spelt, twenty pounds of quinoa, forty pounds of millet, forty pounds of barley, thirty pounds of buckwheat, and fifty pounds of grain sorghum. I immediately took a scoop of each grain and put it to the side to see whether I could sprout them or actually sow them and grow our own grains in the future. In addition to the whole grains there were twenty-five pounds of masa to make tortillas with, thirty pounds of grits – Mateo has finally acquired the taste for them though he resisted when we were first married – and fifteen pounds of cream of wheat cereal, what some folks call farina.

I was thrilled to see the sweeteners. There were two five-gallon buckets of piloncillo. These are basically raw sugar cones which you grate to get the amount that you need. That was probably a local product from south Florida but the other stuff pretty much blew me away and I wondered how Tag could have afforded to let us have it. There were four six-gallon buckets that were so heavy I had to use a dolly to move to the pantry. They each contained something different; honey, sorghum molasses, maple syrup, and cane syrup. I thought they were probably worth their weight in gold, or maybe more so since you could actually eat the stuff. In the current environment our stash of precious metals was all but worthless but we still hoped that when things were rebuilt they would afford us a platform to start from. They would never replace all that we had lost but then again I was beginning to wonder if we weren’t richer now than we had been when Mateo worked in the big investment firm.

Grains and sweeteners weren’t the only types of items. There was a huge block of what turned out to be coconut oil which had to be another domestic item from south Florida and there was a small barrel of olive oil that was labeled Valenza Farms from somewhere in Ocala. There was a burlap bag of almonds and another of walnuts, neither one being something I could get locally and much appreciated because of that. There was a bushel or so of peanuts in the shell and a gallon of sunflower seeds. While I could and was growing those items in my own garden having the extra was certainly a bonus. There was another burlap bag of tamarind pods and another one that I thought was carob pods; I’d have to experiment with those two although I knew that Mateo liked to drink tamarindo on hot days. Those were obviously from south Florida as well.

There was a fifty pound bag of potatoes and a small bag of sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes looked old and had eyes growing on them and a couple of the potatoes were leaning towards that same direction. I set those aside for potting. Getting old or not, nothing must be wasted. There were also mesh bags of tropical roots and tubers like yucca, malanga, boniatos, jicama, and dasheen. Those all had to come from south Florida and I was beginning to suspect that Tag had helped to set up a large production community down there, or at the very least had hooked up with one. Certainly the raw sugar could be used as proof for that. So was the fresh tropical fruits – guava, avocado, mamey, papaya, and limes.

There were two mesh bags of onions and one of garlic which made me want to jump up and down in excitement. I could grow both but now I would have enough to expand the patches without cutting into my actual usage for food and medicinal purposes. There was two wine cases of bottled juices and ciders (some of them “sparkling”) in various blends that I suspect were from the Tennessee/North Carolina area as frankly they reminded me strongly of the stuff from roadside stands along the Blue Ridge Parkway when my parents and I went to visit one of my aunts that lived up that way. The labels were far from fancy being just plain white with black lettering that was crudely glued to the bottles. Three of the bottles even had wooden stoppers that had been sealed with wax. That gave me all sorts of ideas and I made a note to myself to find out what kind of wood could be safely used for bottle stoppers.

I nearly flipped when I saw a case of yeast and two cases of vinegar (one white and one a mix of cider and a few specialty vinegars). I seriously wondered if it had been a mistake until a small piece of paper inside the box caught my eye. It was a note from Tag – though she didn’t sign her name – and it read something to the effect that if you couldn’t help the ones you wanted to succeed the most then who could you help; that made me tear up. I was already overwhelmed and wondering how on earth that Mateo and I could ever repay it all when the rest of the note caught my eye. “No guff girl. The reports I’ve received thus far are glowing. If you insist on paying it all back then do it by sending prayers our way, I have a feeling we are going to need it.” Tag’s obvious concern about the coming months began to settle in my stomach like I’d eaten something way too spicy. They had the might of the military and a large civilian contingent that they were training. If they were still worried then what on earth would Mateo and I be able to do?

I finally got down to the boxes of miscellaneous stuff and just stood there staring down into the mess for a few moments wondering what to do with it all. There were small packages of spices and seasonings that were a brand commonly known to me in the days before everything fell apart. Badia brand products started in Miami in the 1960s and went worldwide by the 80s. They were about the only one that I bought because they were so economical and covered a broad range of seasonings and products so that I could integrate dishes from our diverse family backgrounds. There was also a ton of single serving size items that obviously came out of some type of restaurant supply inventory but we aren’t talking just ketchup and mustard - especially since they were conspicuously absent - but there were other condiments like steak sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, Miracle Whip, squeezable cheese, dipping sauce, syrups, salad dressings, salt and pepper, honey, and I don’t know what all.

One of the “junk” boxes contained a wide assortment of inedibles like hygiene products, some of which were full-sized and a very welcome addition. Also in there were some items that I thought would have been better packaged separately such as a paper sack of powdered lime. It was just so much more than I could really take in all at once. And it wasn’t just the largesse of supplies.

The goats were cute but I didn’t have a lot of experience with them and was hoping that the information in the books I had been reading was correct. And the puppy that was already roughly the size of a small pony seemed to take extreme delight in leaning on my legs so hard he nearly knocked me over several times. I gave the pup some of the kibble that he’d arrived with but not much because he’d already procured his own meal by catching a soft-shell turtle and chowing down. From there I went to investigate what could be made fit to house the goats. After being unable to find anything in our own yard I looked in Gerald’s yard and found what I wanted in his former shed. It was one of those big expensive things that had been custom built. It was a pretty building but that’s not what I cared about so much; the doors and windows were secure and there was plenty of ventilation.

I had thought that Mateo was asleep, or had until he mumbled in my ear, “Leah, you are thinking this to death.”

“Sorry. Why don’t you go to sleep.”

“Mmmmm,” he said in tired agreement. “I will after we settle this.”

“What’s to settle?”

“You, feeling guilty.”

“Uh …” It still amazed me that Mateo and I had become so in sync with each other. “Mateo …”

“Leah, this is not charity. Do not underestimate the value of knowledge and experience; those have always been high priced commodities. And rightfully so. We can make it without those supplies because of what we’ve done up to this point. But, because of what you’ve done we can trade your knowledge and experience to further improve our position.”

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” I told him emphatically.

He nodded and I felt his bristled chin against my shoulder. “We are partners. The good thing is that we can take the profit from our partnership and increase our potential income. One day I would like it so that you don’t have to work quite so hard mi Corazon. And I … let us be honest Leah … I am some years older than you and while I may be in the prime of life right now and in better shape than I have ever been in, the future could and most likely will hold something different. I would like to see that you and the children are well cared for before I am unable to perform that function.”

Startled at his reasoning I tried to turn in his arms but he held me fast. “Mateo! Don’t say things like that,” I whispered fiercely.

“It is the truth and I’ve had too many life lessons to think otherwise. Look at how we got Nydia. And look at what we’ve both been through to get to this point in our lives. It is merely commonsense to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. I would not be responsible husband and father if I did not see to this possibility. For whatever reason God has blessed me with you and the children and as the head of this house I am accountable for doing the best I can to provide a future for you and them in case something should happen to me, even if that merely means that I age according to God’s natural order of things.”

“Fine. I earned … we earned rather … the supplies. Now can we please change the subject and go to sleep?”

“Of course mi Amor, but it doesn’t change the fact that the future is something that is a huge unknown and one we will have to face one way or the other.”

The future would have to wait. There were too many days lately that I barely had enough energy to deal with the here and now.


  1. Kathy,

    The wait was worth it.

    Great chapter!

  2. Yeah, sorry it took so long. Real life tends to usurp my writing hours on more occasions than I would like.

  3. thanks so much for the update!!! great chapter! I'd love to see a pic of the mutt! lol!