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Monday, August 31, 2009 7 comments

FAR Future, Episode 103: Too Much Fun

Friday, September 29, 2045
Too Much Fun

OK, I’ll be the first to admit, I overdid it this afternoon.

Daughter Dearest let school out at noon today — most everyone has had a pretty good year, garden-wise, and we all needed to get a start on harvesting. There’s been a lot of harvesting already, but that’s been mostly eaten on the spot. Now the “market” crops (mostly grapes and apples) are ready, and we’ll be at it for the next few days. So… adults, kids, we all grabbed kudzu baskets and got to it as soon as we were done with lunch. Bobby and Martina are both up at the college, starting their sophomore year, so the crew was DD, Dean, Serena, Rene, the adult Smiths and Joneses, Pat, Ray, and me. Ray, being the youngest, gets to hike full baskets up to the top end of the garden where we have the dehydrators and so on… while picking his share of the garden. I suggested he train one of the dogs to pull a cart for him back in the spring, but he must have thought I was joking. It would have been a lot easier on him; he can get a dog to do just about anything for him.

I was picking cherry tomatoes as Ray was carrying a couple of baskets. “Yo, Ray!” I yelled, “you forgot one!” and I chucked a squishy cherry tomato at him. I really wasn’t trying to hit him, but I did anyway.

“You’ll pay for that!” he yelled back with a grin. For being 16, he’s got a pretty good sense of humor.

I must have been in a mood… Daughter Dearest was working the cukes, in the next row over, and I lobbed a firmer fruit at her own “fruits.” I also must have been in an accuracy mode, because I landed it.

“Scooooooooore!” I pumped a fist.

“You want one of these across your head?” DD shot back, brandishing a rather large cucumber.

Ray came back, and launched a squishy (larger) tomato at me. It missed by the margin he intended — about 10cm — and splattered behind me. One thing led to another, and we had a genuine food fight going… of course, it was all overripe or rotten produce that filled the air; we’re not crazy enough to waste edible chow on entertainment. We ran back and forth, dodging between the rows and lobbing missiles whenever we got an opening. I had a good thing going with the tomatoes; that (and the grapes) was where most of the ammo could be found. It all came to an abrupt halt, though, when I got dizzy and started seeing sparklies. I sat down, and DD and Serena ran to me (with everyone else close behind).

I waved everyone back, using the good old “let me have some air” excuse, and finally let DD and Serena help me up and walk me up to the manor.

“Shouldn’t we get you to the medassist?” Serena asked. Daughter Dearest nodded.

“Why?” I said. “It’s the same ol’ thing: take my vitals, wait 20 minutes, take them again, then they tell me to go take a nap. Why don’t I just go take a nap and cut out the middleman?”

DD objected, I insisted, they finally gave in. Sheesh. DD was smart enough to insist I get some water, though. I chugged down the first glass and drained the second a little more slowly. She put a third glass on my desk here in the bedroom, and she and Serena went back down to help finish the picking. Like I said, it’s been a good year — I’m guessing we’ll get through the winter in fine shape. They’ll probably still be working when I get back up, although by then they’ll be filling up the dehydrator racks.

Or maybe not… I really feel tired. I don’t remember rain in the forecast, but it’s getting dark all of a sudden. The wind’s getting up too… it almost sounds like waves on the beach. Well, I’ll sleep for a little while and see how it goes.


Thursday, August 27, 2009 8 comments

Vacation pix: Argh!

A seagull had perched itself on one of those “swim area” markers featured earlier. I go to take the shot, and…

Bird and babe

Someone has to walk right into the field of view. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Canon EOS 40D, 28-135mm IS/USM lens
135mm, f11, 1/320 sec

(BTW, that’s my nephew with the boogie board, back turned to us.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 3 comments

FAR Future, Episode 102: Conference Call

Sorry about not having this up Monday morning… it just slipped my mind. Future FARf must be starting have memory slips.

Sunday, August 13, 2045
Conference Call

I just got back from a week in Atlanta. I’ve been active in the same church since Mrs. Fetched brought me to this place, before we were even married, and I’m still active now that “churchies” are pariahs in many places. I’m proud to say that we were an early affiliate of the Penitent Movement — a lot of people think that Penitent is its own denomination, but it’s really an affiliation that transcends denominations. The church that I’m a part of is Methodist; some Baptist, a lot of other mainline Protestant churches, some Catholic and even a few pentecostal and other “non-demoninational” congregations identify as Penitent.

Whatever the denomination, those of us affiliated with the Penitent Movement have an annual nationwide conference. Representatives from each church gather in various cities and have a nationwide teleconference, and it was my turn to represent our church this year. It worked out well for me; Kim and Christina made room for me at their place and I could walk outside and catch the shuttle to the conference, then spend a couple hours over at The Boy’s place each evening. In Atlanta, ironically, we rent out what used to be a megachurch building. The current owners have talked about starting a small wallyworld in it, but it hasn’t happened yet (and we’ve used the same place three years in a row now). We get a local market to deliver lunch, and people bring in various “filler” foods to round out a pretty decent spread. Most of us eat breakfast before and supper after the day’s agenda.

After you’ve been to a few of these conferences, you get a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen through the week: Monday is a get-acquainted fest, lots of welcome speeches and agenda-setting on the big screen, followed by working group sign-ups. On Tuesday morning, we (locally) evaluate how well service goals from year before were met, then present reports with other regions in the national teleconference through the afternoon. Wednesday is devoted to setting the new goals and theme for the upcoming year, then thrashing out how we’re actually going to implement them. On Thursday, we discuss whatever difficulties churches might be having in different regions — in some parts of the country, they have to deal with outright persecution, although lower-level hostility and plain indifference are much more common. Here, it used to be that non-Pentitent churches had it better than we did, but we’re all pretty much tolerated throughout the Old South now. Friday, we tie up loose ends (usually what’s left from the Wednesday implementation business) — and if we need to, carry that into Saturday. Fortunately, we wrapped up pretty well on Friday this year and I was able to spend Saturday with Kim and his family (and The Boy came over, too) before riding home today.

In Atlanta this year, we talked a lot about being a third of the way through the 70 years spoken of by The Prophet at the end of the junta, the collective judgement on all the churches for so many of them being obsessed with the “law” and paying only lip service to grace (and incidentally aiding and abetting the junta). As Atlanta was his “Jerusalem,” we were asked to share our thoughts with the rest of the national conference, about where we are in regard to that particular prophecy. We all like to think, anyway, that the Penitent churches are the one servant who “was serving the people and not abusing his authority,” as the Prophet put it. Indeed, the Penitent movement was built around that description.

We’ve even managed to “find favor with the people,” at least a little. The refugee issue, that came to a head in 2036, was the primary focus for our service for a couple of years… both with and without governmental cooperation. Even though the 29th Amendment made explicit the separation between church and state, the Supreme Court ruled that the intent was to “merely prevent one party from exercising undue influence over the other” and that coordination to prevent duplication of effort was not forbidden. Once the coastal refugees were resettled, we moved on to other things (some, like the 2040 focus on carbon re-sequestration, didn’t go so well). Lately, though, we’ve gone back to exploring the thorny issue of ministering to opt-outs. I talked The Boy into coming in on Wednesday afternoon to share his experience with the opt-outs, following the chautauqua mission of taking culture (of a sort) to where the people were. Next thing I knew, people started asking him tons of questions, and someone cut it into the national feed. He’s still well-known in the Retro Rage music scene, but I was surprised at how many people remembered his role in defusing the refugee situation, back when.

People both local and remote thought it was a great session. There’s still a lot of opt-outs — some estimates put their numbers over a million — and it’s clear that any effective outreach will have to truly be outreach… just like missionaries in Africa, we’ll have to go to them, live with (and like) them, and earn their trust. The Boy talked about how many opt-outs would opt back in if they could figure out how… I guess it’s up to the churches to help them find their way back.


Saturday, August 22, 2009 5 comments

Not-so Empty Nest

Current music: BassDrive

Welcome and Go Away matsToday was Moving Day for Daughter Dearest… back to Reinhardt with her. This year, she got one of the campus apartments — four girls, each with their own room plus two full baths, a kitchen & living room. The “official” moving-in day is tomorrow, but they asked the choir members to come a day early — they got their own cookout, followed by a rehearsal and a planned performance tomorrow. No rest for the music majors.

We had two Civics loaded up with stuff, although we packed pretty casually (i.e. we could have got lots more in if we had to). The early move-in was a big help with parking; we had no trouble finding parking spaces. The only hang-up was that DD, being the first one there, got to do the walk-through with the RA. That meant we stood around for about half an hour, wondering what was taking so long for DD to get her keys, until Mrs. Fetched finally called and found out what was going on. Eventually, she came down and we started hauling boxes. I don’t know how many kids brought a couple cases of chow they helped can earlier in the week, but I doubt there were very many.

Meanwhile, one of the girls across the way had porters bringing enough stuff to pack a circus tent. “That’s Brooke,” Daughter Dearest explained. “She’s really high-maintenance.” No kidding: there were no less than four sizeable vehicles (minivans, SUVs) packed with her stuff — they were hauling it in with a grocery cart. Then they went to Mal*Wart to get more stuff. I can’t say too much about that, since we also went there for a few ancillary items: a mattress cover, USB A/B cable (I wish she’d said something, we have several here at the manor), dishes and cups (the apartment is furnished, but doesn’t include dishes or cookware, oops). Two of her roomies “love to cook” so we hope they’ll bring cookware. If not… well, they’ll either buy some new stuff or we can bring some over.

So the nest is empty for a few months, right? DoubleRed is supposed to be heading to Toccoa Falls College soon, but she needs a job in Toccoa to support herself… and she needs to be in Toccoa to get the job. Catch-22. So… now she’s planning to stay here and take online classes.


Not that she’s been around much lately, anyway. Maybe it will work out.

Knee update: it behaved quite well during the move-in. It complained a bit when going down the stairs for the last time, but was happy enough with some rest. It gave no trouble at all when I mowed the lawn after we got home. (Then I took a nap, we were up way too early for a Saturday.) Up and down a ladder this evening, once again fixing the garage door opener, still no trouble. I might need to move the “down limit cam” another link down the chain, to drop the door another quarter inch, but that’s it for now. I might have another look tomorrow — after I change the motorcycle oil.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6 comments

Vacation pix: Driftwood

After shooting a bird sitting on one of the “swim area” posts, Dad suggested I get the driftwood in the foreground for scale. Then I got interested in the driftwood itself.


Canon EOS 40D, 28-135mm IS/USM zoom lens
135mm, f7.1, 1/500s
Lake Michigan (Hoffmaster State Park), 7/28

Monday, August 17, 2009 4 comments

FAR Future, Episode 101: Summertime Blues

Whoops, after I finished the story I inserted a new episode right here towards the end. I suppose blog fiction is never done.

I’m going to start a new story shortly after the last FAR Future episode goes up. More horror than peak-oil, but that’s what my Muse got me working on. Those episodes will also go up on Monday mornings, so don’t get out of the habit!

Saturday, July 15, 2045
Summertime Blues

Hi, it’s Bobby. I was doing some research online for summer study, clicked this link by accident, and it was still logged in. I don’t think Granddad will mind if I catch up, he hasn’t been writing much in it lately. He’s been having some weird dreams from the looks of it, though. I had to look up “The Prophet,” and it’s interesting that Granddad actually met him twice when the guy was alive. I wonder if Pat told his friend about Granddad knowing The Prophet, but I guess Darrell would have been back down here if he had.

I finished up my first year of college. It was weird being away from the house for that long, but then again it’s only an hour by bicycle to get here. If there was an emergency, I could have borrowed someone’s scooter, I guess. Martina went there too, which was good. I’m taking metallurgy and she’s on a general track until she figures out what she wants to do. We kind of become an “item,” as Granddad says, during the fall quarter. It was kind of an accident, really: this other freshman was shading her panels and she asked me to pretend we were dating to get him to back off. That meant we had to go out, and so we were seeing a lot more of each other than we planned. Neither one of us are sure when it changed over to being real. I told Dad about it, and he said something like “At least you didn’t wait as long as we did,” like he and Mom saw it even when we didn’t. Is that possible?

So we’re all together for the summer again, but it’s a little strange without Granpapa Mo and Granmama Maria. They died in May, and I took a couple days off school for the funeral. Martina too, because they told us “extended family” means something a little different than it used to. I guess that’s really true — I never thought much about all the people who live together at FAR Manor like we do, but maybe half the students at the college lived in a house with just their parents and sibs, and Dad says that’s how just about everyone used to live. I guess they live in cities or old subdivisions, where if they have problems there are other people right there to help out. There’s lots of us to help with the gardens, gather firewood, and all the other stuff that needs to be done.

Oh, I’m really glad Aunt Christina got here when she did. The methane digester clogged up and she told us what we had to do to fix it. Gas, talk about stinky! She turned it into a mini-lecture. I guess I never thought about it, but this is the kind of thing she works with all the time so maybe the smell doesn’t bother her anymore. This mat of stuff the digester can’t break down builds up on top of the poo and it blocks the methane from going out the valve on top if it gets thick enough, and you have to open up the digester and rake it off. Pat couldn’t handle it, but Martina and Ray did OK. The dogs started barking and Ray started laughing at them, but Martina, Aunt Christina, and I got the mat raked out and buried in the compost without getting much of it on ourselves. Ray said the dogs were jealous because something stank more than they do. I figured they’d want to go roll in it, but they only bother the compost when there’s a rat or something in there. But we couldn’t use the gas for a couple of days, Aunt Christina said we had to vent off some of it to get the oxygen out, otherwise it might blow up on us. So afterwards, we got out of our clothes and went inside to get clean ones. Martina’s mom yelled at her about being naked in front of her boyfriend — I guess she’d rather Martina wore those stinky clothes into their place? I’ve heard about stuff like that in the old days, but nobody else under age 50 or so thinks much of it now. I mean, I like looking at Martina when she’s naked, but I like looking at her just as much with clothes on — and it’s not like you have to be naked to screw. My roommate told me there’s a porn site that’s all pictures of people screwing with most of their clothes on. Aunt Christina shucked her clothes too, but she didn’t come back outside for a while. Martina said she was probably upstairs with Uncle Kim, and she might be right. Those two — I guess you would have to know them.

Well, that’s about it. I hope Martina’s mom gets calmed down soon, or it’s going to be a long summer.


Sunday, August 16, 2009 2 comments

Puppies, age 6 weeks

Happy, hungry, and (mostly) looking for new digs:


The following are temporary names, I just tag 'em with something until we come up with something better.

Target (top left)

Walkabout (top right) — so named because she was trying to get out of the pen & explore even before she got her eyes open. This is the one I had to unsnag from the fencing a couple of times before Mrs. Fetched put a strip of hardware cloth around the bottom of the pen (that’s what she has her front paws up on — she’ll be hopping right over it before long). The guy who helps Mrs. Fetched with the farm stuff is getting her, and calling her Sassy.

Snoozer (bottom left) — obviously. He sleeps for himself and Walkabout.

Batty (bottom right) — so called because she’s blind. Mrs. Fetched & Daughter Dearest are having none of that name, but they haven’t come up with anything better. She’s the biggest one of the litter & this shot catches her disposition pretty well. We'll probably end up keeping her & training her as best as we can unless someone just has to have a “special needs” dog.

Saturday, August 15, 2009 4 comments

Vacation Photos: Slipping into Fall?

What goes up, must come down.

Canon EOS 40D, 28-135mm IS/USM zoom lens
135mm f5.6 1/1600
Straightened and cropped

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 4 comments

Kneecapped Again, The Final Chapter

The Knee, UnwrappedThe Great Unwrapping was yesterday. The doc was pleased with his handiwork, and told me I could pretty much do whatever I wanted as long as I could stand the pain. He suggested some lifts and bends, and ice when needed, but other than that he seemed to be “just do it” and it would be 100% in the next two or three weeks. (You can still see the nurse’s initials on my kneecap, that’s how they made sure they poked the right one.)

He did say I might have some chronic pain with it, which could be taken care of with a “partial knee replacement” (very partial, as it would once again be an outpatient thing) — but he said they also wear out over 15–20 years, so if I can wait until I’m 75 it will probably outlast me. ;-) But with the two bone chips removed, and it behaving most of the time even before, I hope it will just go on as normal. The chips came off the left side of the right knee; the doc showed me pix of what was going on in there… I forgot to ask for copies, but I really couldn’t make heads or tails of it anyway. It’s just meat. MY meat, but what else can I say?

Well… if it hurts, I now have some pain-killer:

Moonshine. Lots of it.

While we were on vacation, someone came by and dropped off what appears to be 18 cases of Planet Georgia’s Finest — there’s 12 quart jars in each case, so that adds up to Lush Paradise. Mrs. Fetched was obviously in on it, as she told me about it and that it’s like 15 years old… and wonders if it’s any good to drink. Her idea, not a bad one entirely for the whiskey, was to treat it as ethanol and mix it with gasoline as an extender of sorts. But at least some of that is apple brandy, which would clog up fuel filters. I opened one of the brandy jars this evening; it smells pretty good and a sip confirmed it. She’s all “I don’t know how you’ll feel in an hour,” and I would like to know how it was made (if there was a radiator in the still, forget it) before enjoying it too much.

Guess I just need to heal up.

Monday, August 10, 2009 7 comments

FAR Future, Episode 100: The Final Vision

One. Hundred. Kind of amazing, isn’t it? And we’re not (quite) finished…

Friday, June 23, 2045
The Final Vision

That much closer, I guess. I’m glad this is the last one; they kept getting worse.

In my dream, I stood in a long-abandoned city. The sky was this burnt brown color, and the sun barely made its way through. Nevertheless, it was hot. I was surrounded by mounds of what looked like lumpy dirt at first; when I looked closer I saw that it was the trash of ages, slowly returning to the earth from whence it came. The quiet nearly hurt my ears… no wind whispered, no bugs buzzed around. I didn’t even see a roach.

I started walking. I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to walk around the trash heaps, so I tried walking over them. They were soft, and I sank sometimes halfway to my knees, but I somehow made progress. Each step stirred up the trash, releasing odors of decay, but somehow old and weak. Down the street, between the crumbling skyscrapers, the sea turned city blocks into an archipelago of square islands. The water called to me, as always, so I waded through the garbage toward the filthy new shoreline.

The Prophet was waiting for me near the water, perched on the remnants of a crumbling pedestal. Things bobbed in the murky water, things I didn’t want to look at too closely. An oily film covered the water, and it was on everything that the water had touched. “Here we are, at the end of all things,” he said.

“This was the worse fate you warned me about,” I said, pretty sure I was right. “So we nuked each other over the oil? Or some other resource?”

He shook his head. “No. A nuclear war would have been a lesser harm to the earth. After the first few bombs, the command and network structures would have failed and they could not have launched more. The world would have cooled, then healed.”

“So what happened?”

“This is the endpoint of humanity’s deepest wish: that the party would never end. This is what would have happened had we been given unlimited energy resources: we would have choked and drowned in our own waste. And we would have destroyed nearly everything else.”

“But maybe some of the people got into space?”

He nodded. “Of course. With boundless energy, launching a space colony would have been a small matter. The difficult part, at which they failed, was to make it self-sustaining. Each year, their population grows a little smaller. Each year, the dwindling food supply is barely enough to feed even the lessened numbers. Each year, more of their machinery stops. The spares are gone, and none of them know how to craft replacements. In a few years, the colony will fail and the last human will go to her final reward.”

I wiped a tear away. “But we were saved from this fate — by the very limits we strained against?”

“Truly. In a body, an unlimited growth is called a cancer. Even cancer is not unlimited though: when the host dies, the cancer dies as well.”

“So why do you show me this vision? If we could not come this far, what’s the point?”

He stepped down, dipped a clear glass into the gunk, and handed it to me. “The Living Water.”

“You’re kidding,” I said. “Drink this?”

He gave me the “get with it” look. “What was Peter told in his vision?”

I laughed. “What God has called clean, you shall not call unclean.” And as I spoke, the murk sank to the bottom of the glass and disappeared, leaving the water looking and smelling (and tasting) pure and sweet.

The Prophet smiled. “But you asked about the point of this: even now, there are those who believe we can return to what they might call the ‘glory days,’ without the understanding of what they wish for. Tell them of this vision, that they might put aside their folly and work within the world that The Lord has given them.

“But come, I show you a mystery.” He held out his hand. I took it, and we were… elsewhere. A mountaintop, where the brown sky was closer and darker. There was no trash here, only rocks streaked with soot and whatever else the rain carried out of the sky. A few gnarled trees dotted the summit. “What do you see?”

“Rocks. Stunted trees.”

He crouched next to one of the rocks. “Look closer.”

I did, and saw it: a tiny patch of green, with a few bright yellow specks, sheltered under the rock. The rock itself was split above the plant, and I saw that much of the rain that fell on that side of the rock would be carried down that split to the plants. A tiny insect, maybe a gnat, lit on one yellow spot or another, making the thin stalks nod and bob.

“And there.” He pointed toward another rock, where a small thin creature, maybe a mouse or vole, nibbled at something.

“So there’s still life.”

“Yes. The Lord does not throw away His creation lightly. There are other islands of life, in other parts of the wide world. In time, as the earth heals, they will expand and evolution will bring forth diversity and perhaps intelligence.”

“But… this world is imaginary, I thought?”

Again, the Prophet gave me the “get with it” look. “What The Lord has imagined is no less real than the world in which you live. But you will understand this, and will know the answers to all things, soon enough. Go now. Go in peace and in joy. I will greet you when you find your way to Heaven.”

Again the jumble, but I think I finally understood what it was. I had been right: it was both chaos, and beyond my comprehension. What I saw was a parade of possible worlds, too quick to catch and hold any single one — and about as useful as ignoring the beach to study a single grain of sand.

When I awoke this time, I was again hot and thirsty. But perhaps I understand better: my spirit, which is the actual me for which my old body is only a container, had actually gone to that other place — that impossible world of unlimited energy and unlimited destruction. Even in my youth, my physical body may not have been able to withstand the toxic soup our desires would have made of the air in that world, but the spirit is less concerned with physical matters. Now I was simply warmer than usual on the sleeping porch.

So that’s that. I don’t expect to keel over today or this week, but I hoofed it over to the center and sent my vitals in. They told me I’m doing fine for being 86… I’ll bet they say that to all the geezers, though. I suppose the only thing to do, and I’m sure The Prophet would agree, is to enjoy whatever time I’ve got left.


Friday, August 07, 2009 3 comments

Flowery (and Grassy) Friday (Vacation Edition)

Andi’s grass pic this morning reminded me I wanted to post this…

Dune grass and Black-Eyed Susans

The flowers were growing in clumps in various places, mostly in neglected yards or garden plots. Seems to be a really good year for them.

Top: Lake Michigan (Hoffmaster State Park) [38mm, f13, 1/400s]
Bottom: from Dad’s deck, Duck Lake [135mm, f5.6, 1/160s]
Canon EOS 40D, 28-135mm zoom lens

Thursday, August 06, 2009 7 comments

Vacation pix: Waterfowl

Actually, Dad thinks the geese are rather foul, because that’s what they’ll do to the grass if he doesn’t chase them off. ;-)

Seagulls: Lake Michigan (Hoffmaster State Park)
Geese & Swans: Duck Lake
Canon EOS 40D, 28-135mm zoom lens, various exposures

Seagulls, Geese, Swans

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 2 comments

And Then There Were Four

The Cosmic Rule of Everything Governing Vacations Away From FAR Manor is: there’s going to be a crisis. Mrs. Fetched’s mom was kind enough to not let us know about it until we were on the way home.

When the World’s Most Obnoxious Dog reproduced, it was a deliberate plot by Mrs. Fetched… don’t ask me why, I’m sure she has her reasons. But she picked out one of her mom’s dogs to do the honors. In spite of what I said in that particular post, he must have just preferred to do the deed in private. Then he popped the latch and ran home. Mrs. Fetched was pretty sure that he was a couple notches removed from Crissy on the family tree, but Daughter Dearest said later that they both have the same mom. Hey, it’s Planet Georgia, a little inbreeding is to be expected, right?

Maybe we should have done it in Tennessee or Alabama, where they’re experts on that sort of thing. Four of the pups — including a female I named Walkabout because she was exploring and trying to escape the pen (I had to unsnag her from the chainlink more than once) before she had her eyes open — rapidly outgrew the other three. This wasn’t a big problem at first, but as they developed to where they could start eating food, the smaller three started having problems. By the time we were on our way home, Mrs. Fetched’s mom had taken two of them to the vet, who recommended they be put down because they were in a lot of pain. The third started having serious trouble Sunday afternoon. After Daughter Dearest said he had a seizure, Mrs. Fetched asked me to look up anything I could find online — one thing I found was that some puppies could be hypersensitive to flea powders and the like; Crissy had a flea collar and we’d been doing that stuff that comes out of the little squeeze tube, so Mrs. Fetched removed the collar and brought all the puppies in for a bath (with Crissy bringing up the rear). They did the little guy first, and had me hold him and keep an eye on him while they did the others. He had a seizure while I was holding him… we got through it, and then I noticed that his belly was hard. I started stroking it, which he protested, but he blew a little dog fart and it softened up quite a bit, which led me to wonder whether he was just having a gas attack. In a fit of optimism, I dubbed him Augustus Seizure (because it was August; I later learned that Julius actually did have epilepsy) and tried to make him as comfortable as possible.

Mrs. Fetched stayed up with him all Sunday night, and they both had a rough night. I was little better off, getting woke up by the yelping several times. She took him to the vet Monday morning, he guessed his intestines had a birth defect that would maybe let him live a few more days, and Mrs. Fetched decided to have him put down too.

The other four, fortunately, seem to be healthy and robust. The guy who’s been helping Mrs. Fetched with the chickens and other farm stuff is getting Walkabout (who is often up & moving when the other three are dozing, always looking for attention) when she’s old enough, but the other three are available. I kind of hope we’ll keep one and get rid of Crissy… they simply can’t be more obnoxious than their mom.

Monday, August 03, 2009 No comments

FAR Future, Episode 99

Friday, May 19, 2045
Funeral for Our Friends

Rene woke me up yesterday morning shouting “¡Mama! Papa!” and something in Spanish I didn’t catch. By the time I threw on a robe and came down the hall, he was on the phone. He was obviously stressed, switching back and forth between English and Spanish, and I caught a word of the latter: muerté — that explained why. Guillermo and Maria had “checked out” overnight.

“The ambulance will be here in half an hour,” he told me. “I have to call Christina.” Serena joined us, then went to get Daughter Dearest after embracing Rene as he made the call. He went back upstairs as they came back in.

“I let Dean know,” Daughter Dearest said. “The Smiths and Joneses, too.”

“I’ll call the priest,” I told them. “They would want last rites.” Serena nodded, and I told my gadget to find and call the local Catholic mission. Guillermo and Maria had never wavered from their old faith, even attending Mass online most Sundays and holding confessions over the phone. Father Alvarado, their confessor and pastor, agreed to come immediately and arrived on a Commuter Scooter shortly behind the ambulance. In the meantime, Rene had come back downstairs and told us Christina (and the rest of their family) would be here early tomorrow.

The doctor stepped out and nodded to us. “Natural causes,” he said, “and within an hour of each other. I’ve heard of things like that, but never saw it for myself. You’ll want a couple of minutes with the deceased, I assume?”

We nodded, Rene went in, then stopped; I had just enough time to duck around him, then saw and stopped too. Father Alvarado bumped into us from behind, and Serena ran into him. “What is it?” she asked.

We stepped aside to let them see. The doctor had pulled the covers back, and Guillermo and Maria had died holding hands. Maria had the quiet smile she often had when the day had gone well. Guillermo’s free hand rested on his stilled corazón; he, too, looked quite content.

Father Alvarado nodded, lifted his crucifix, and performed the last rites. “They were good people, faithful,” he said afterward. “They deserved to be taken to Heaven together like this. I appreciate you calling me.” He opened a box he’d kept in an inner pocket; it contained wafers, a small bottle of wine, and another of holy water. “Now, if you are willing, kneel and receive the Body of Christ.”

“Um, Father,” I said as Rene knelt and crossed himself, “I’m not Catholic.”

“Have you received Christ and His baptism?” I nodded, as did Serena and Daughter Dearest. “Then you are invited to His table.”

I knelt with the girlies and smiled. “That’s different.”

“This century has brought many changes — and not even the Church is immune to change,” he chuckled as he prepared the Host. “These matters are now left to the conscience of His servants. There are many places now where there would be no congregations if we insisted on some of the old certainties — and we would be poor servants indeed if we shut the door of grace to all.” He served Rene first, so the rest of us could take our cue from him. Dean slipped in as he served us, and he joined us in the ritual.

Finally, we filed out of the bedroom and let the doctor and EMT carry our friends out to the ambulance (a Heehaw with what looked like a fat aero-cap). I know they still have a few diesel ones around; they probably use those when it’s not too late. They drove away, and left us with a huge void.

The funeral was this afternoon at the mission, with all of us in attendance. I found an old photo I’d taken of Guillermo and Maria — with their kids — shortly after they came to FAR Manor to live with us, found a frame, and sat it on an easel they had for the purpose. When the priest asked if anyone had anything to say, Rene and Christina nudged me forward. I gave them the they were your parents look, with a smile, and stepped forward trying to collect my thoughts.

“Guillermo and Maria came to us so many years ago,” I began, “I can’t think of how long. Sometimes, it seems like they — and their children, now my children-in-law — were always a part of our lives. They never asked for much, not even taking a few days off when I offered them. Some people considered them our servants, or even slaves, but to me they were equals, a brother- and sister-in-law. They sat at our dinner table and helped to run the farm. They always gave their all to any task. And I fear that I’ll be serving them in Heaven.” That got a chuckle or two, as I had hoped.

Last night, I imagined them in their own resting place: a Mexico that never was, where campesinos sing as they bring in the harvest and join the eternal fiesta. Or perhaps it’s a Dia de Los Muertes that never ends?


Sunday, August 02, 2009 2 comments

Home Sweet Money Pit

Back from a lovely week in Michigan, visiting relatives and not thinking much about the chicken houses. I’ll have some posts up later, today if opportunity permits.


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