Now & Forever ABCs (Kaede)

Kaede Inoue

3 August 1986
Shinbutsu Shūgō

Kaede is Maureen’s boyfriend, a fellow student at Harvard, and her own student in an English tutoring program.

Kaede is studying to become a paediatric surgeon with a general specialisation in newborns — though his exact speciality he has not yet decided.  His dream is to be one of those saving the lives of newborns whose hearts are malformed, or not working properly — or lungs, livers, etc.

He and Maureen met when she was working to tutor him in English, a language he is functional in, but purely academically — he felt he needed work in conversational English.  She asked him to coffee, he asked her to dinner, and the romance grew from there.

He is a shy, quite man.  Timid, and exceedingly urban — he was born and raised in Tokyo — he is fascinated by his girlfriend’s more rural and domestic skills, especially those that relate to Granny’s farm.

When he isn’t trying to become a first rate doctor, or working to be a first rate boyfriend, he can be found reading comic books and building model planes, or studying ancient Arabian swords and artwork.

Now & Forever ABCs (John & Marcia)

John Adrian Conners & Marcia Helen Conners née Abrams

12 June 1963 & 28 August 1966
Lutheran & Jewish

John is the eldest child of Josette & Charlie, a bee farmer in Oregon.

More modern minded than his parents, as are many of his siblings, so has augmented his sales in local grocer‘s shops with an online honey and beeswax store.

Marcia, his wife, makes a hobby of candle making.  Using the wax supplied by her husband to make various scented candles from oils and herbs.  When she isn’t making candles, Marcia runs a web design business.

The happy couple have three children, a daughter and two sons:  Gloria, Adam, and Jeremy.

Now & Forever ABCs (Granny)

Josette Rhianon Morgan Conners

24 February 1944
Lutheran (ELCA)

Josette Morgan, better known these days as Granny, is a fiery little woman born and raised in Wyoming.  As a teenager she took to the road with a boyfriend, winding up living with he and several others in a Wisconsin commune.  There she met Charles Conners and the pair became fast friends, and later they became lovers.  In 1961 they married, and Gerrid (the original boyfriend) was best man and two of his wives were bridesmaids.

Eventually the commune broke up, but by then the young couple had migrated to Winthrop in Washington.  Charlie’s aunt loaned them the down payment for the farm, and soon they and a crowd of friends had the place self-sufficient and earning enough to pay back Jenny and keep the mortgage paid.  As time drifted on, so did the friends — it’d never, strictly speaking, been a commune — but the family, to this day, happily takes in friends and family who wish to stay and no questions asked, so long as the person can help with the work that needs done.

The ancient farmhouse had, initially, relied on outhouses and hand pump plumbing, but Granny had always been fascinated by electrical engineering and managed to construct a turbine out of parts salvaged from a junk yard and otherwise bought from the hardware store and they bought a well pump, by the early Seventies they had a septic system and ordinary modern taps for the plumbing.  Hot water had always been available — the property has a small natural gas well that has long been tapped, powered a very early model water heater, and was used as a starter for the fireplaces.  Granny initially used it to power the generator for the water pumps, but in the late Seventies a friend had helped restore the old waterwheel and connected mill-house, reconnecting the old mechanical pump system to the home, and using it to mill their grain.

When Charlie died Josette continued to work the farm, though now it was almost purely sustenance, the work to make excess for sale being largely beyond her at her age; though she did make some cash selling the products of the maple and apple orchards by the roadside.  These days, though, Elizabeth and her family live on the farm and are building it up to be profitable in dairy, wool, and produce within organic farming circles.

Most recently Granny was convinced, after many long and drawn out arguments, to begin the process of installing gas lamps and lanterns in some of the rooms of the house, though many are still lit only by candles the family makes themselves.  While neither she nor Charlie were willing to part with the old icebox that had been in the home when they bought it, they did buy a deep-freezer which was powered by Josette’s generator until the couple invested in solar panels the year before he died.

Some have accused Josette, and to some extent Charlie, of being backward and technophobic.  Josette always laughs at these accusations.  Too modest, usually, to boast, but she has taught herself computer programming in C, C++, COBOL, and Fortan; she and Charlie we both equally competent to maintain their 1953 Chevy pick-up truck, and Josette has more than once proven she is fully capable of working on the motors of modern Electric and hybrid engines as well — though she lacks the means to utilise the computer diagnostics systems.  She simply loathes the use of technology for its own sake.  She feels that there’s no call for telephones, personal computers, light bulbs, and other things that put such a reliance on other people.

Needless to say, given her life, her experiences in it, and the myriad college degrees worth of knowledge she possesses, Granny is often delighted and borderline smug when she informs those who ask, that she never completed her tenth grade year of high school, never obtained a GED, and has never set foot on a college campus before doing so to watch the graduation of eldest child.