Skip to content

Dear Diary, It’s Me, Jessica: Part 9

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Missed the other parts? Find them here:

Dear Diary,

It’s me, Jessica.

The weather has turned to where the highs and lows are much more consistent to warmer weather.  HAM guy said we should be past the last frost date.

I helped Mom for three days, planting in every container, every possible space where the chickens could not get to the herbs and veggie seeds.  We mixed in compost and a little chicken manure and then watered.  I was digging up the front lawn when Mom commented on my arms and shoulders.  It never occurred to me until then, but my upper arms, shoulders, and even some of my back were what we would have called ‘built’ before the power went out.  All the manual labor at the Miller’s and around our home, carrying firewood and hauling water, all the walking, and Mom and Dad making sure I had enough to eat, I was kinda ‘built.’  

I think I lost a bra size.

I laughed and said, “Sure Mom, that is what a man looks for in a woman.”

“I am sure Billy doesn’t mind,” Mom said with a sly look.  

I blushed furiously and returned to digging up the front yard for root veggies and corn.  Mom and I helped Joanne with her garden, too.  I moved wheelbarrows of compost and some of our chicken manure back and forth into her garden.  We all should have a good harvest this year. 

The next day was the weekly neighborhood ‘militia’ training.  

Jack and others with military training put the rest of us through basic drills.  Jack said he did not expect us to march a military campaign on Moscow or be a part of some ‘high speed, low drag’ SpecOps team, but we should know at least the basics of advance, tactical retreat, covering fire, cover, and concealment, and flanking maneuvers.  We needed to learn how to work as a team.  Everyone took turns acting as the team leader in a maneuver, even me.

Jack and Rae pulled me aside after ‘militia’ training was over and trained me further in hand-to-hand combat, using my rifle as a physical ‘blunt’ object weapon and the ‘snap’ shot, which did include some live fire.  

Diary, I was tired after militia training.  As I practiced various hand-to-hand techniques and what Jack described as “the mighty butt stroke” with my rifle in hand, I was getting a bit annoyed.  

And it showed.

Then Rae said, “Young lady, this training may save your life one day.  That attitude will not.”

Sheepishly, I nodded and attacked the vaguely human-shaped and -sized tree trunk and side limbs with ‘mighty butt strokes’ with real effort behind it.  My arms, shoulders, and back were on fire, but I kept at it.

Diary, I’m not going to lie. I like it whenever I can do live fire with my rifle. Jack says it has to do with my ‘natural’ ability. He said that some people just ‘have’ it. I did twenty single ‘snap’ shots on a ten-inch paper plate at fifty yards within three seconds per shot. Jack said I was nearly as good as him.  

I could not help but grin from ear to ear.

I had just finished my ‘snap’ shot training when the HAM guy walked up to us.  

Diary, that was unusual.  The HAM guy never seemed to leave his chair in front of all his radios.  I was beginning to think his ears would morph into his radio headset.  

But what he heard clearly concerned him.  

He said at the noon radio meet-up, the city HAM guy heard some people were claiming to be the new heads of government.  This ranged from mayors of some cities to county sheriffs and even as far as the president of some new-fangled country called ‘The West Coast Coalition.’  

Rae noted, “How do they expect to preside law and order over us from a thousand miles away?”

Personally, I liked Jack’s response, “They cannot.  Who cares what they proclaim.”

HAM guy chuckled at Jack’s comment.  He paused and said, “Jack, should we form our own government?  I mean, we kind of do with the militia.”

Jack generally has a rather stoic face, but his eyes always seemed to be thinking, considering, analyzing, contemplating and sometimes laughing.  But this time, his stoic face broke in dismay, and his eyes went wide,

“No way am I going to be elected mayor, sheriff, or, heaven forbid, president!”

Diary, Jack did not find it amusing, but we all laughed.  After a moment, Rae then said the HAM guy had a point.  Jack looked like he was going to protest again when Rae held up a hand and said, “Honey, no one is going to elect you president, calm down.  What we need is some kind of organized community leadership.  Give the community direction.  Not just all of us stumbling along day after day.”

Jack’s thinking eyes returned.  He then described what he saw during his deployments in Afghanistan. 

Warlords who ruled with ‘might was right.’  They took what they wanted from the weaker and left little to nothing.  

Then there was the tribal ‘elder.’  The tribe could be a large extended family or a few to several families all living in the same compound or immediate area.  The elder had the sole responsibility for the welfare of the tribe, making all the major and even some minor decisions.  Sometimes, they would fight with rival tribes.  Sometimes, they would form alliances with other tribes for economic stability or security from rival tribes.  

Jack noted, “Their politics made our politics look like children’s games. In their politics, one misstep could mean death, not just for the elder but for the whole tribe. Some of them were illiterate or could only do basic math, but they were far from stupid. The stupid did not live long.”  

Then there was a ‘council’ of elders who looked out for the welfare of a community in a given area.  They shared power and made decisions after discussion and then a vote.  Jack seemed to like that kind of leadership best, but also said they had their own degree of politics, too.  

HAM guy gave a short laugh and said, “Since the written word, no system of governance has ever been perfected from corruption like greed, envy, and power.”

Jack gave a single nod in agreement.

Rae suggested the community have a meeting.  They needed to include the local farmers like the Miller’s too.  Jack said the next time he went to the market, he would inform Sean of their thoughts and suggest the market community do something similar.’

Diary, I got the feeling I just witnessed something important.

Entry two

Dear Diary,

It’s me, Jessica.

Mom was not a fan of it, but I was cleaning my rifle on the dinning room table when Dad came home from working at the Miller’s.  

Dad said Justin, Janet, and the kids were settling in well. With the additional bodies, Mr. Miller thought he could do even more planting and other projects. As he said, “Many hands make for light work.”

Diary, I could not agree more.

Mr. Miller paid Dad for his labor with a loaf of bread, some ‘farmer’ cheese, and a pound of what they called ‘lunch meat.’  

They took a large chuck roast, put it in a salt brine with smashed garlic and sliced onions in a big plastic zip bag and put it in a trough of water flowing from the windmill.  The water was always cool, and the salt in the brine would keep bacteria from forming and infuse the meat with the garlic and onion flavor.  After a week, they took the roast out of the bag, dumped the brine, cleaned and saved the bag for reuse, and let the meat ‘rest’ for a day in a large metal bowl that could sit in the water trough without the water overflowing into the bowl to let the salt settle into the meat.  The next day, Justin got a hot wood fire going on their outdoor grill.  He put a cast iron pan on the grill to heat up, then added lard.  Once smoking, he seared the roast on all sides till a good crust formed.  Justin pulled the roast and the cast iron pan off the grill and let it cool.  Once cool, he smeared garlic, onion, basil, oregano, and thyme paste all over the roast.  He let the fire die down to a slow but even heat.  He then put the roast in the pan back in, off to the side of the direct fire to cook slowly for three hours till it was cooked rare.  

Mom toasted the bread with a little butter we still had.  Then she divided the lunch meat into three sandwiches, with some of the farmer’s cheese, plus a bit of diced dried jalapenos we had from last year’s garden, and roasted the sandwiches until the cheese melted.  Mom made a side of roasted potatoes and parsnips to go along with the sandwiches.  

Diary, it was heavenly!  But I did have some ‘funky’ garlic and jalapeno-induced dreams that night . . .

About 1stMarineJarHead

1stMarineJarHead is not only a former Marine, but also a former EMT-B, Wilderness EMT (courtesy of NOLS), and volunteer firefighter.

He currently resides in the great white (i.e. snowy) Northeast with his wife and dogs. He raises chickens, rabbits, goats, occasionally hogs, cows and sometimes ducks. He grows various veggies and has a weird fondness for rutabagas. He enjoys reading, writing, cooking from scratch, making charcuterie, target shooting, and is currently expanding his woodworking skills.

Source link