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commune issues

“Shit!  This is -- unhhh! -- a chore!”  The loud grunt is half laugh.  It took Manfred a long time to devise this contraption, which was badly needed, and everyone shares her happiness, while cringing at how hard she has to strain.


  Momma is pumping a bicycle on the roof, or rather a half-bicycle, the rear sprocket of which is chained to the shaft of the Archimedes screw, which as it turns lifts water from the big 500-gallon tank up to the raincatcher.  The effort required is intense -- they can see her toes curling around the pedals, her breasts jiggling, her biceps and triceps straining as her arms pull up against the handlebars.  The bike judders and jams; the gears need oiling and adjustment.  But it looks like the great project will succeed.


  It’s actually an honor for her, a kind of ribbon-cutting ceremony, but Momma was the logical person to take the first spin on that bike, due to her endurance and stamina.  She was the only one who pushed that wagon up the entire path from the Middle Pond without taking a breather, the wagon bearing the tank, which was originally the oil tank to the abandoned burner downstairs.  The other three laborers, Sofa and Gentle and Frodo, three guys in boots, could not keep up with strong feminine bare feet.


  Now a lusty cheer as the ascending water splashes from the top of the scrap-aluminum screw into the raincatcher tank.  If this works, that is if the screw doesn’t fall apart and the raincatcher doesn’t tip over again, it will solve the pesky problem of running water.  It’s been a huge bother to carry bucket after bucket up from the pond every time someone wanted to take a shower.  Now, according to Manfred’s calculations, one trip with the tank should last them an entire week, maybe more.  They could do it every Sunday, after morning meditation.


 Manfred takes a bow.  Momma has been sleeping with him the past few months.  She loves him not just for his kindness and maturity but for his willingness to put that MIT degree to work.  He’s quite proud of it.  Also proud of how he rerouted the PVC tubes so that graywater from the kitchen, and waste from the bathroom, would flow more directly into the culvert which carries out to Emerson Creek.  Dysentery was a problem with the first communes and everyone has learned from it.  His next project is to devise an overhead pump for the bathroom so that they can take actual hot showers instead of always having to mix in water boiled on the kitchen stove.  She only wishes he would be more forthcoming about where they are going as a couple.  Not that she’s having nesting urges or anything like that, but the future seems to be a verboten topic for him.  As he put it one night, “You’re only 23.”

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