March 12

Posted on: March 12, 2013

“I can’t believe we’re out of coffee,” John was bewildered at the prospect.

“I’m sure there’s more, it’s just buried in the back of the bucket shed,” I reassured him.  “But I thought I saw a bag in the cupboard just yesterday.”

“That bag is whole beans, and I’d hate to start the gennie for a few seconds to grind them, assuming you have a grinder.” He slumped in the chair, and I smiled.  On top of the wood stove, looking very much like decoration is an antique coffee mill; antique, yes, but still very functional.  When I handed it to him he just stared at it, then at me, when I showed him what it was and how to use it.  “You never cease to amaze me with what you have thought of and have stocked.”

“I’ve always been fascinated by manual tools; and with how our grandparents use to do things before all these electric gadgets came along.  Sometimes the old tools come in handy!”  I grinned.  “I just hope I never get to the point of using the Sad Iron.”

“What is a sad iron?” I’m not sure if he ever saw one before.  So I got up and took the odd looking hunk of cast iron off the shelf where I was using it as a book-end and handed it to him.  “That’s heavy!” he noticed.

“They usually come in sets of two, with one handle,” I unclipped the wood handle from it to show him.  “They would stay on the woodstove, heating, until needed.  Whoever was ironing that day, would set up next to the stove, clip the handle on and iron until that one got too cool.  She would then set it back on the stove, and clip on the next one; that way she could keep ironing, as there was always one being reheated.”

“Why are they called ‘sad’ irons?” he questioned.

“I know that kind of chore wouldn’t make me very happy!” I laughed, “but if I recall, the ‘sad’ is an old word for solid, which some of the sad-irons didn’t have detachable handles.”  I set it back on the shelf.

That got me an extra morning hug, and while John played with the mill, adjusting the grind until he was satisfied with it, I made sugar cookies for the kids to take to school at noon.  Funny, the coffee tasted extra good this morning.


Because all six of us were going into Moose Creek, we discussed taking the car.  Jason thought it might be better if they took Tom’s 4WD truck, and John and I take a four-wheeler; we would be hitting some muddy roads that the four-wheeler would handle better.  He had a good point.  I handed him the plastic container filled with cookies, reminding him I wanted the container back.  It was one of those disposable ones, but nothing was disposable anymore.

When Eric and Jason met us at the township hall after getting the kids into school, plans had changed.  Paul had decided it would be better if he and Eric teamed up, so he could get to know Eric better.  Jason and Vinnie set out on foot, checking the few businesses on their way to the heart of Moose Creek.  Eric and Paul took Tom’s truck up the Resort Road to check on the dozens of camps along there.

Darlene, Donna, John and I discussed the best plan for the rest of the houses.

“I still think I’ll take Lake Meade, I know most of the folks anyway,” Donna said, “and it’s a nice day for a walk.”  Even as she said that, I noticed she had several speed loaders in her pocket for her revolver.  A couple of years ago, before she retired, we’d been talking weapons.  She was supposed to carry an automatic, like the rest, but she preferred her .38 revolver, and could speed load it faster than the guys could change a magazine.

“You have a radio, Donna?” I asked, knowing they only had one between them.  I was prepared to give her one of our FRS.

“Paul took it,” she admitted.

“These don’t have much range, but they’re better than nothing,” I handed her one.  Jason had taken one with him, and John and I would keep the third.  I gave the last one to Darlene, so all of us could check in with her if necessary.  It had been agreed upon to keep the first day short, working only four hours.  The school would hold the kids until then.


Without other electrical interference, the radio’s worked rather well.  John and I were taking the road out of town where the houses were well spaced, most of them on twenty, forty or eighty acres, and with rare exception were visible from the road.  The first five we stopped at were empty.  It was easy to find the circuit panel and pull the mains off.  At the sixth house we found a dog on the front porch, lying by the front door, like he was waiting for his master to come home; long dead. I just don’t understand owners who will let their pets fend for themselves.  I was angry as I stepped over the dog and shoved the door open.  The stench hit me hard, and I gagged.  I guess the dog’s master was home after all.  I turned back toward John.

“Take a deep breath before you come in.”  I pulled my turtle neck up over my nose, “there’s a body in here somewhere.”  John followed me in, handkerchief over his nose.  He headed for the back of the house.  In the kitchen he found the circuit breaker panel, opened it, pulled the mains, and back tracked, grabbing my arm as he moved quickly.  Once outside we both took deep gulps of fresh air.  I took a notepad from my pocket, and jotted down the address.

I looked at him, he was pale.  “Are you alright?” He nodded.  “This won’t be the last one, you know.  I mean, I hope it is, but chances are there are more.”  He nodded again, and climbed on the ATV, revving it up.


We covered fifteen more houses before we headed back to the township offices.  By the solemn faces, I knew we weren’t the only ones to have discovered bodies.  Only Jason and Vinnie had been spared, but I’m sure that’s because in the closer housing units of town, everyone kept tabs on each other.

“What’s the total so far?” I asked.  I let them decide on what total they wanted to give.  Paul spoke up first.

“All the houses in the town proper have been covered; power is completely off, or major appliances unplugged; there were no … unpleasant surprises.” He looked down at his notes.  “Eric and I covered twenty camps; five had someone still living in them; the rest were vacant; we found two bodies.  Both were older folks, so I’m assuming natural causes.”  He glanced down once more.  “Donna was able to cover ten houses on foot; all empty, no bodies.  So we’ve done almost 80 houses today, and only three bodies.” He folded his papers.  “I’d say we’ve done rather well, all things considered.  If the Jack had anything left, I’d suggest we go out for a beer!  But since that’s not the case, I’ll see everyone here tomorrow; 9:30.”



Back home, Emi just jabbered away about how nice the teachers were, how much fun they had, and how everyone enjoyed the cookies.

“Can we take more tomorrow?  Dad says we’re going again tomorrow, but early this time, all day school, just like normal.”  I’m not sure if Emi was enjoying school itself or the attention of bringing treats for everyone.

“Sure, but we’ll have to make them tonight, Em, there won’t be time in the morning.  How about oatmeal cookies this time?” I offered.

“Yum!” she clapped her hands, which got Jacob clapping too. “Those are my favorite!”

5 thoughts on “March 12

  1. Deborah’s reminder about the plastic container brought back memories of how my parent’s recycled. My Dad took his lunch to work every day in a brown paper bag (would last for a month, usually). His sandwiches and cookies would go into thin plastic bags, the type that fold over, and those would be washed each night by yours truly. After about a week those plastic bags would get tossed, except for the one for the cookies, that one lasted longer. They came from a time when there was nothing to waste. Somehow, I think they appreciated things more. Not such a bad thing.

  2. remember, Moose Creek, in a normal situation, has only 50 students in preK-8th. The numbers are way, way down, so there might be a dozen kids, total.

    Next, supplies are coming into the food bank regularly now. Everyone gets a share of the flour and the sugar. Deborah’s family is now six people, and those shares pulled together make it possible to make something sweet. Besides, it doesn’t take much sugar to make a batch of cookies.

  3. “… but she preferred her .38 revolver, and could speed load it faster than the guys could change a magazine”

    When I was growing up all I had to hunt with was a single shot 12-ga. shotgun. I got to a point that I could shoot-reload-shoot-reload and shoot again, faster than you can say it. I still can!

    Folks, never underestimate your opponent, regardless of what they may be carrying.

  4. Yes, kids DO talk.. Wonder what Story Deborah will come up with to tell folks when they start asking her to share more of what she made those cookies out of??

  5. I hope (story) Deborah is careful! Those cookies could be her undoing.

    How many people in town have enough food to splurge on sweets? Especially for 2 whole classrooms of kids!

    I realize Moose Creek is a smaller community, but there still have to be a dozen or more kids per classroom. And kids talk!

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