Economics 101, a Novel, ch_35 -- Bamboo Lumber

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The previous chapter starts here:

Saturday was pretty much the same as Friday, except that in the late afternoon they went around to the stand of mid-sized bamboo near the lagoon instead of the giant bamboo. They headed north from camp this time, and talked more about their past.

"Were your mom and dad ever abusive?" Karel asked.

"It was always pretty much like the way my dad was about not whipping us with the belt or anything harder. He disciplined us, but he was only abusive sometimes when he had drunk too much."


"It's funny, but my parents were generally harsher about discipline the year after they gave up alcohol. But not really abusive."

"That is kind of ironic, but I could see that. They wouldn't be used to dealing with various kinds of stress without the high. Just one year?"

"Yeah. They were trying so hard to be good, themselves. Dad even came to church most weeks that year."

"Why did he quit coming?"

"He needed someone to tell him he didn't have to be absolutely perfect, but no one understood. The ward was a little pharisaical that year. How did your parents deal with the tendency to be hypocritical?"

"We read the scriptures a lot as a family, and when we read scriptures about Jesus doing away with the law of Moses and such, Dad and Mom would both warn us that the so-called laws of Moses, the traditional rules and expectations of society, were full of men's ideas. And that we should pay more attention to mercy than idealisms."

"It was after I went to college that my family finally figured out how to read the scriptures together. So I missed out on it, except for between terms. What else did your family do together?"

"Family home evening?"


"Played Pit and sometimes Monopoly. We went camping every year."

"For a long time, I thought everyone did that."

"Oh, hey!" Karel stopped walking and looked back towards camp before proceeding again. "I have a Pit deck in my trunk. I thought maybe I'd use it in the research phase, but I never did."

"Let's play tomorrow."

"Just the two of us?"

"Well, if it's too boring, I have a deck of playing cards, now that I think of it. We could play Go Fish."

"Shoot. I'd forgotten, but I have a Monopoly board, too. Left the box at home, brought the playing pieces and cards in a paper sack."

"I thought I saw your board somewhere. We could play that. And, now that you remind me, I have a Clue board. Left the box home, same as you."

"Clue? Cool. How did we forget we had those?"

"Too worried about surviving? Too all alone together?"

They exchanged chagrined grins and Bobbie reached caught Karel's hand. They walked in silence for a few minutes, holding hands and looking out across the sea and up into the forest. (They may have snuck a kiss, but we didn't see that.)

"You know," Karel said, "I don't think I've ever asked you what your favorite book is."

"Besides the Book of Mormon, you mean?"

"Well, of course."

"That's a hard question. Gene Stratton-Porter's Girl of the Limberlost, maybe. Have you read it?"

"I've read it, but I haven't read her other books. I liked it."

"So you read novels?"

"Well, yeah. But a lot of what I've read is science fiction."

"Now I am shocked and appalled!" Bobbie exclaimed in mock shock. "Who's your favorite author?"

"I'm a little partial to Heinlein. He seems so close and yet so far. Door into Summer, is fun to read, but a little disappointing. Everything of his I've read leaves me thinking, why does he keep missing the point?"

"I think I prefer Asimov. Do you read his books?"

"I liked the anthology, I Robot. The Foundation series? not so much. But he's pretty good, too. I can understand him better, but his talespinning is not as engaging as Heinlein's."

"So, who's your favorite non-SF author?"

"You're going to think I'm dodging."

"It's okay."


"Okay. That's cheating. He doesn't write novels."

"Are you sure? He put us in this crazy situation."

Bobbie kicked sand at Karel and they laughed.

"Mmmm okay, how about Ray Bradbury? Is he an SF author?"

"I don't like his new novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes."

"Why? I thought it was great."

"It's scary. I mean, really scary."

"But the ending is all about love."

"It's still scary."

"Well, I don't really have a favorite author. After high school, I started reading less SF and more of the non-SF big names, Frost, Hemmingway, Fitzgerald and them."

"What do you think of them?"

"Prefer Bradbury, actually."

"Hah. I'll take Frost over Bradbury."

"Frost is good. But then I started digging into less well-known authors -- Fred Gipson, ..."

"Old Yeller."

"Yeah, and William H. Armstrong, oh. But he's not so much a novelist."

"Don't place him."

"He writes mostly about education and learning."

"Oh. Him. We studied some of his ideas somewhere in our education overview, didn't we?"

"Yeah. Anyway, the scriptures are the central books, and all the rest serve their purposes in their contexts."

"I'll go with that."

"Odd, isn't it?"


[JMR201605232152: It was either one and a half or two and a half. I underestimated when I was writing this.]

"We've known each other almost a year and a half over two and a half years, we're planning on getting married, and we'd never talked much about what we read, either."

"Lots of time to talk about things that aren't so important, now."

This time, when they got to the bight where the beach disappeared, after stepping across on the rocks, they set their packs and the oars down and took off their shoes to explore the water a little. They took a couple of turns going underwater and looking around, but didn't stay to explore it carefully.

Back on the beach, Karel asked Bobbie, "I thought it looked like it was about twenty feet deep. What do you think?"

And Bobbie shook her head. "I guess. I just thought it was pretty deep. Mmm ..." After some quick calculation, she said, "Okay, it's between three and four times my height, so twenty, plus or minus a few, sounds right."

When they got to the bamboo thicket, they looked through it and found that two inch and three inch diameter culms were the most common. The two inch culms tended to be about 30 feet tall, and the three inch culms were about forty. So they cut eight of each and carried them to the water, tying them together to float back.

They headed north on the return trip, as well, wading through the mouth of the lagoon, giving the sea anemones wide berth and keeping watch for differences in undersea terrain and new kinds of sea life. Bach at the bight where the beach gave out, they lay on top of the bamboo and paddled with their hands first, for fun, then they stayed there and paddled with the oars until they got tired of trying to keep the bamboo under them. Then they returned to wading.

Back at camp, they cut the bamboos in halves and put them in the water to leach, turning the culms from the previous day over again. And, with the newly cut culms leaching in the water, they made more rope and wrote in their journals and retired.

On Sunday, they had their meetings together and rested, studying the scriptures and talking. In the afternoon, they drew up their marriage certificate, decorating it with a bamboo and banana motif. If I were a better artist, I'd reproduce that, here, too.

"Why so much space under the witness's names?" Karel asked.

"I dunno. Bad planning, I guess."

In the evening, they dug out their card games and board games and tried to play Pit, laughing when they were both going after wheat and their strategies left them unable to trade. They played a round of Go Fish, then Old Maid, and then they played two-handed solitaire.

Then Karel showed Bobbie how to do a perfect shuffle and showed her some of the statistical math behind card games.

Bobbie was unimpressed. "That takes all the adventure out, if you know what's going to happen."

"I guess that's one reason why the Church suggests that we shouldn't play poker."

"I thought that was mostly about the tarot origins of the deck."

"That, too. And the general idea of throwing money at a bad chance instead of using it to do good things."

And then they wrote in their journals and said prayers, and went to bed with the tent between them, as always.

On Monday (This was the third Monday on the island.), in the morning, they made a lot of rope and went out foraging for food in the morning. In the late afternoon, they went up to the near stand and cut another hundred culms, putting them down in the water to leach also.

"Bobbie, do you think we should give these a full two weeks to leach, like the book says, or do we need to get the hut built?"

"How long 'til rainy season starts?"

"Don't know. I guess we should assume we're going to do this again next year."

"And hope this is good enough to last at least a year."

"Okay, let's take out the first ten."

So they took the first ten culms out of the water and stood them in the shade among the standing bamboo, to dry and cure.

On Tuesday, they took another two hundred one-inch culms and put them down to leach. And they made more rope before going to bed.

On Wednesday, they cut down two hundred more and put them in the water to leach. Then they took the first hundred one-inchers and the giant bamboo out of the water, standing them in the shade, separate from the first ten. And they had blisters in their hands, and they were feeling tired of all the repetitive work. And it started raining before they went to bed, so they slept in the tent. But it was warm, so they rolled out their bedrolls on opposite sides of the pile of luggage.

About one in the morning, Bobbie was shivering in her sleep.

Wycliffe and Hanaka watched for a bit and prayed. Getting an affirmative response, Wycliffe whispered to Karel, and Karel woke up, groggy, and a bit chilled, as well.


There was no answer, and Karel came more awake. "Bobbie?" Still no answer, so Karel went around to where she was sleeping. "Bobbie? Are you okay? She moaned and shivered, but did not wake up. So he went back for his bedroll and covered her with his blanket. Then he checked her temperature, and kissed her. That woke her up, but not completely.

"Mmm. Nice." For about a half a minute, they smiled at each other, and then Bobbie started shivering again. "Okay. This is not fair."

"You're cold."

"Get your blanket and get over here."

"Can you get up?"

Bobbie sat up, then sat on some luggage with the blankets around her while Karel lifted her bedroll and put his mat under hers.

Then Bobbie lay back down and Karel put the blankets over her and then crawled under the blankets with her, and they cuddled together for warmth and went back to sleep.

Now, don't get excited, we know they've been through this before. They are just keeping each other from catching cold, because the temperature does drop during the spring rains.

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