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Deal 1121: Desert, just.

Now is a terrible time to discover you don’t like the great outdoors. I know we’re up to something big, and it involves spending a lot of time away from basic comforts of the city. You don’t really appreciate things like running water and reliable electricity until you don’t have them at hand.

And we don’t. The manifesto-writing shack we have here is bear-proof. But the only electricity we have comes from a portable generator. And don’t get me started on the network connection. A cell-phone acting as a hotspot hardly counts as network, after all. But it is barely enough to keep abreast of the rumors back home.

The big black bird that is hanging around is beginning to creep me out. I keep expecting it to croak at me and demand water. Or demand that I roll over and die. Something. It hangs around and stares. Phil doesn’t seem to mind, just goes on about it being inevitable that something would turn up to watch us. But it makes me feel like we’re puppets in the hands of some force greater than us. Not comforting.

And it should be.

If we were puppets, we would not be responsible for the decision we must make. A decision that drove us out into the middle of nowhere to work so that the consequences of an error would only cover ourselves.

Ourselves.

There’s Phil. Hard working, hardly the evil genius type.

Then there’s me. Ursus Domsticus. Your common teddy bear.

Ok, not quite so common as all that. Phil isn’t quite aware of what I really am. And I aim to keep it that way.

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Deal 1115: Orange, not banana

It is a sacred duty, handed down the family in an unbroken line for generations.

The tree is in our care.

The tree must be protected.

Neither blight nor pests allowed.

We feed and water according to a plan set out by our forefathers. Once or twice a decade we prune severely, other years we use judgment. Once or twice in each caretaker’s life, we move a graft to a new rootstock. We treat the grafts like their parent tree, knowing they can replace the original at any time.

Today the orange grove extends for acres, and presiding over it all is a grand tree with a trunk large enough that you can’t reach around it.

The grove has often survived flood and fire. This year, both nearly at once.

It is our duty to preserve.

And make marmalade.