Chapter Five XII

A man asked Yakusan, who was sitting in meditation, ‘What are you doing here?’
Yakusan replied, ‘I am not doing anything.’
‘If so, you are sitting in idleness.’
‘Sitting in idleness is doing something.’
‘You say you are not doing anything, but what is this anything you are not doing?’
‘Even the ancient sages know not,’ replied Yakusan.
DT Suzuki, Studies in Zen

We make it down by sunset, nobody wanted to leave, doing nothing up there is not like doing nothing. It’s harmonizing, touching the real, maybe a cliché, but not a cliché when you’re of it. It’s a world unto itself, you are no more or less significant than the fox, the squirrel, the marmoset, or the dozens of butterflies, bees or uncountable varieties of plants. They do not treat us like visitors, nor are we guests, we are only a part of the daily ebb and flow, life seeking life.
On the porch, cocktail in hand, Amaya says, “I went out of myself today, the time disappeared, I had no thought of book plots, fashion, websites, it was amazing, I thought of nothing.”
Zi, “It’s become almost trite to say be empty to be full. It sounds like spiritual jargon until we are of it, not an experience, the thing itself. When I’m here, there’s the temptation to stay, be out of the city, the work. Then I realize the work is part as well. I understand why some withdraw, it is their Buddha nature, their path, it is not mine.”
Janah, “It also occurs to me that we may be underutilizing this place. I should come here more often, perhaps a few days, not just during the summer. If that resonates, any of you who wishes to break, come by yourself or with a companion, should call Jan or Francois. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.”
Chloe, “That’s a wonderful idea, Janah. Amaya gets so caught up in her projects, I would love to get her here, maybe invite Mayumi and Katsumi. Not like a getaway to plan something, just a getaway, ideas may come later, but generating ideas isn’t the point.”
Amaya, “I like it, we will come in October or November, a week when it is cold not yet frozen.”
Dasha, “Ees may be gud to haf people from Ultra Violet or Murakami Sylk, send them up, hang around, we take to feesh, to falls.”
Nikko, “God, I’m a dunce. That’s a layup, good call Dasha. No purpose, no meetings, no agenda. Hike, fish, hang out.”
“Dasha, we need to get busy, the steaks aren’t going to grill themselves. Everyone refresh drinks, we skipped snacks tonight, we want you hungry, it will be worth it.”
Amaya and Daria go to the bar, Dasha and I organize, an hour later there’s charred medium rare filets, toasty potato au gratin, fried mushrooms and cauliflower sprinkled with parmesan, a stir fry of root vegetables.
“That grill is amazing, it heats to sear, steaks practically don’t need a knife.”
Nikko, “I love a crusty steak, Dasha, these are perfect,” more perfect after she adds our butter and garlic sauce.
Janah pours another Cabernet, “What’s for dessert?”
Dasha, “Chizz cake, we haf berries for on top, or only plain.”
Janah, “Berries sprinkled with cane sugar.”
Slices around the fireplace, after a long hike, cocktails, wine and a substantial dinner, we’re ready to collapse. Bedtime routines, then Janah decides to visit Nikko and Zi. I’m in bed contemplating the ceiling.
Eloise has been quiet on the trip, and tonight she quietly opens the door and crawls into bed. After a few quiet kisses, she quietly gives me a not exactly quiet orgasm. I’m not a screecher, but I give good moan.
Turnabout is fair play as they say, so I turnabout, Eloise isn’t a screecher either, but she shudders and gasps enthusiastically.
When Janah returns, Eloise and I are snuggled, she slips in behind me and I’m double snuggled.
It’s morning, just, I feel eyes, look up at Dasha standing alongside the bed, “Dahfoney, we will make breakfast plan now, I haf coffee in keechen, you will come.”
I follow the simple directions and I’m having Lavazza at the dining table.
Dasha, “We will haf beeskit, scrahmbulled aig, bacon and greets, enough after beeg dinner.”
“What’s my assignment?”
“I will make beeskit and greets.”
Must mean I’m in charge of eggs and bacon. Zi comes along, then Chloe, must be time to cook, the smell of coffee and frying bacon will get the rest in motion.
Daria, “I am taking boat out for fishing.”
Chloe, “Great, I want to see if I can pick up the fish like Zi.”
Eloise, “I want to test the drone, I can follow you from the pier.”
“Cool, I want to watch that, we’ll make a home movie of our fishergirls.”
Dasha, “I will go also too, sister can feesh, I am to drive homeboat.”
Janah, “I’d like a ride, maybe catch some sun.”
Amaya, “Good idea, we can beautify the lake.”
The rest decide to watch Eloise with the drone, we need to learn how to operate it, at least basic following and filming. Right now, only Daria and Eloise do the delicate stuff, like flying it under a car to set a tracking device, or close work next to a building to use the listening device. We follow the houseboat’s progress, I fly the drone for a bit, then Nikko. Janah and Amaya are on the roof, sans clothing, letting the sun feast its spots.
“Dang, they do improve the view.”
 Eloise takes over and gets it right down to eye level with the boat. It’s cool, we can hear the conversation on the boat and it’s a mile away.
Chloe has her hand to her mouth, “Look! Thirty yards out at two o’clock. I can see their light in the water! Dasha, ease us up ten or fifteen yards, kill the engine.”
Along one side of the boat, lines sail out, two lures plop on the surface, two baited lines go deeper. We don’t have enough experience to know what kind of fish, it could be crappie that prefer minnows and run deeper, or trout looking for insects on the surface.
There’s a shadow over the water, then the eagle comes into view. She’s inspecting the drone. Eloise turns it behind the eagle and we follow the magnificent creature along the lake, up, then a circular glide. We hear the eagle screech, then chirp, it flies up and away. The drone returns to the houseboat.
This time, it’s crappie, the lure lines are switched, four lines of bait now, they catch a dozen fish in fifteen minutes. It looks like four or five are small, I see them tossed back. The engine cranks up and they move down the lake.
Eloise, “Bring it back Daphne, needs a recharge after chasing the eagle..”
She walks me through the landing, I do okay, it’s still in one piece. I let it bang down harder than she would have.
“I have to work on my touchdowns.”
Eloise, “Not bad, come in a little slower.”
Nikko, “When it’s good to go, I’d like to practice landing.”
Eloise, “An hour on the charger.”
We chill, an hour later we’re on the porch practicing takeoff and landing until the houseboat comes into view. This time Dasha guides it to the dock. Her boat landing is better than my drone landing.
Chloe, “It’s so cool, I can sense fish in the water, amazing. We caught six trout and quit, between the crappie and trout we have enough for today and tomorrow.”
Amaya, “I want to see the eagle flight, it was cool, watching the drone follow her around.”
“It was fun making drone porn, we have you and Janah doing your all over tanning.”
Amaya, “The sun felt lovely, I felt you feeling rather lovely yourself.”
Eloise giggles.
We have lunch lite, cheese, crackers, granola bars, the boaters watch themselves fish, then the video the drone took while we practiced. A few rough landings, but Eloise made the thing sturdy, we managed to get through our training without wrecking it.
Nikko, “That drone is fun. I’m not a video gamer, but I like flying the drone. By the time we leave, I want to be competent at least.”
Daria, “You need to train on firing darts, get under car, hover in place. We will make more drones, need more operators.”
Janah, “Yes, circumstances may require any of us to use them. We can spend time here, then more intensive back in Manhattan.”
“We will make drone operate by brain only. It will take time, but Eloise says she wants to try.”
“Wait, brain only, what’s that mean?”
Daria, “You will make it work by looking, maybe with Google Glass, not by joystick. You will see what drone sees, then you move your eye, drone tracks.”
Zi, “I can hardly believe it.”
Janah, “Actually, they are doing that already, for people paralyzed or missing a limb. It’s only a matter of time before we can do what we do with our IPads to control things in our apartment by using our eyes and verbal commands instead of touching a screen. Actually the verbal command capability is here, we just haven’t installed it in the apartment yet.”

Chapter Six

We spend the afternoon hanging out, read or veg on the porch, Nikko and I take a walk along the lake.
Nikko, “I thought I was fairly sophisticated with technology. The things Eloise and Daria come up with are beyond me.”
“They’re beyond me and I’m pretty techy, you do mostly business things, spreadsheets, not code or algorithms. I can code, but not the heavy lifting Susan does.”
Nikko, “They are going to change how we work, our everyday work, property management, investment, and how we do Society work. I envision us not having to lop off fingers or use much physical violence. Don’t know whether I’m happy or sad.”
“We can always have fun mauling each other. If we can rehab targets in a more sophisticated way, it’s our obligation to do it. The point is to make them quit abusive behavior in the gentlest way possible. If I never have to take another life, I’m happy.”
Nikko, “I thought I could do it as long as I needed to, and I have no sympathy for our targets. Over the years though, it weighs psychologically. I used to look forward to the prospect, now I can do it, but it won’t hurt my feelings to do it without the violence. The real test will be Shadows.”
“If Eloise and Daria can find a way to normalize them, it will be the penultimate achievement. Hard to grasp, a girl with no formal education who can make any machine obey her, and a Russian sociopath joining up to find a way to turn down the amygdala and turn up the prefrontal cortex, less emotion, better judgment.”
Sunset comes earlier here, the mountains to the west cut off the sun, makes for a beautiful mountain top, light streaming over, then a red-orange furnace behind the mountain until it sinks beneath the horizon.
My cue to start dinner, Amaya is tending bar. Daria is simple, a cold shot of Russian Standard, Chloe and Amaya like it on the rocks with an onion, olive, or a dash of orange bitters. Dasha’s preference is tart, Angostura bitters, or a couple of drops of Peychaud’s. We keep a jar of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots marinating in apple cider vinegar, good for a tart crunchy snack, or in Dasha’s case an additive to her vodka over ice.
Amaya, “Dasha’s drink is like battery acid.”
Janah, “Apple cider vinegar is good for digestion, weight control, may even slow growth of cancer cells and is antibacterial. She likes the bitter taste and the benefits are pretty well documented. You use bitters, which is made with gentian, that’s what makes it bitter. Gentian also has significant beneficial digestive properties, it’s an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory. To max the benefit would take more than a dash, but a dash certainly doesn’t hurt.”
Dasha is busy ignoring Amaya, more occupied with the soup she’s concocted from Janah’s hunt for edible leafy plants. I grill today’s catch, we’ll have baked potatoes with benefits, butter, grated cheese, sour cream, chive and caviar. While we slaved away the afternoon doing nothing, Dasha made crusty chewy Ghirardelli brownies and will serve them dusted with powdered sugar.
Janah, “I recall coming here when we lived off the land, ate raw root vegetables and soups for the most part. Now it’s like a restaurant.”
“And which do you prefer?”
“My empty plates speak volumes. Now, a large cabernet in front of the fire while my brain hibernates.”
Our retreat from Manhattan goes this way for the duration. Hikes to the falls, nighttime trips for Daria and Dasha to the owl and eagle. They sharpen sight, color variety, hearing and grip. The twins said it wasn’t so painful this time. Daria takes Amaya, Chloe and Zi over miles of lake while Nikko, Janah, Dasha and I fly the drone under the tutelage of Eloise. Never did take the walk up creek to the west, maybe next year.
Time disappears, it always does here, next thing we know, we’re on a jet back to New York. We don’t do sad to be gone or happy to be home, we have lots to do that can’t be done while playing with the drone, hauling fish out of the lake or being lusciously exhibitionistic voyeurs. Still, time away to reset is important, even essential. We live a dissonant, contradictory life, compassion and death, artistic and psychopathic, creative and destructive. I don’t mind saying, it’s a handful.
Janah’s in the laundry room, “We haven’t had Italian, call Marconi’s and get us the goodies.”
I do and we have ravioli, lasagna, manicotti evening with a couple of bottles of Chianti. I flip around the things I’d recorded, we watch an episode of Jericho, a small town two hundred miles from Denver. A nuclear attack on major cities across the US, one of which was Denver. The program is the usual mix of hustling to stay alive and personal issues.
“These programs always have women who whine about old relationship issues despite the fact that the country is under nuclear attack. How is that possible?”
Janah, “Demographics, it keeps the female audience engaged. If it was all threat, attack, murder and mayhem, they lose women to Lifetime and sentiment.”
Amaya, “I keep women engaged by writing about strong women, not women who want to endlessly confront boyfriends with grievances long past their expiration date.”
Nikko, “Their behavior now was their behavior then, one reason their boyfriends hit the road.”
Zi, “What’s the other reason?”
Amaya, “Younger women.”
“My guy friends tell me there are two things women say that means trouble. The first is, ‘I’ve been thinking…’ the second is, ‘Can we talk?’ Women apparently think that what they do with other women, talk, talk, talk, translates over to guys. If they have a concern, say what it is, don’t sneak up on it. It doesn’t take long for men to see that trap. Men understand direct and uncomplicated, not nuance and mind reading.”

Chapter Seven

We’re on the roof, our Mercedes is parked downstairs. Nikko and I are learning to get the drone under the bumper and attach the tracking device. I get it under the car, bang it up against the metal a few times before I find the touch. Nikko catches on right away, I decide it’s because she saw me screw it up a few times.
Daria is adjusting a blade I’d mangled.
“Did I break it?”
Daria, “No, blade is flexible but hard, like katana. We study katana, hard outside, more flexible inside. Smash it, it won’t break. Only a small adjustment in angle.”
“Glad you thought to compensate for my learning curve.”
Eloise, “We wrecked two or three at first.”
Daria, “I wrecked, Eloise did not wreck. Always perfect. She plays video game all the time.”
Dasha, “Now we haf five person to operate drone. They will build four more, maybe two for backing up, in case Dahfoney crashes.”
Nikko, “Now Daphne’s going to be up here every day until she has it perfect.”
“Of course I am. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be flying that sucker through the eye of a needle and sticking darts in tennis balls.”
“Ees gud idea. I will throw ball, haf to hit with dart.”
Daria, “We will figure how to make dart track target, like missile rocket. You will have target in sight, the dart will hit.”
Nikko, “How are you going to get a computer on a dart?”
Daria, “A chip, not computer, it does not weigh anything. Soon the drone will fly itself to target, place tracking device, sense approach of enemy, fly away. Almost no operating by a person.”
Nikko, “I’m not just behind the curve, I’m behind the mountain.”
“Tell me about it.”
Susan and Taylor are over for dinner, we’re explaining the drones and the plans for the future.
Susan, “I have to be in on this, at least a fly on the wall. It’s an entirely new field, but I’m good with code, maybe I can help.”
“They want you to help. Daria has learned a lot of coding, Eloise is mostly hardware. You can speed up the process, but we don’t want you to have to get into another coding job if you have better things to do, like go to Hong Kong and Singapore.”
Susan, “This is far more interesting than another fancy dinner and a nightclub. When do we start?”
Daria, “We will make more like this one, maybe a month. I will send you the code, you may be able to tighten it up.”
There’s always an IPad in arm’s length around here, Daria grabs one and sends the files to Susan.
Susan, “I’ll start in the morning. We don’t travel again for six weeks. Besides, I can work on the plane, Taylor sleeps the whole flight anyway.”
Taylor, “You’re the only person in first class on a computer while everyone else is sleeping. We might as well fly coach.”
“Not a chance, I like the elbow room, they keep me primed with coffee, I get in five or six hours of sleep, it’s enough.”
“How do you guys handle jet lag?”
Taylor, “Wherever we land we think in terms of the time there, not where we came from. I suppose it’s a form of denial, but it works. Even when we cross the dateline, it’s the time of day, not the day of the week that matters. If we arrive at nine in the morning, we act like it’s nine in the morning.”
Susan, “I’ve been amazed, it helps. Taylor learned the trick when she modeled overseas. Of course there’s some drag, just press on. In a day we’re on local time. Janah always says the brain believes what we tell it. So we tell it it’s nine in the morning, which is further supported by the sun, the activity. Doesn’t matter if we had breakfast on the plane, we have breakfast or lunch in the time zone we’re in and go from there.”
“We’ve talked a little about going to Russia, the twins are neutral on it and seem to be happy to wander around America.”
Dasha, “We haf already meeny jobs, better to work, vacation in Canada, kill Shadow.”
Susan, “You do have a lot going on, restaurants, property management, temple, library, schools, technology development, books, movies and modeling, not to mention the big unmentionable Dasha mentioned.”
Janah laughs, “Last time we had a meeting about slowing down, it wasn’t a month before we had more than the stuff we slowed down from. I gave up the idea. We’ll have more time if we quit making time.”
Susan, “Since none of you ages, the universe extracts its price in labor.”
“We get down time, Canada was a smart move, the monks take great care of the place, you guys use it, James and Kara started going more often.”
Taylor, “We love that place, particularly nice with the satellite internet.”
“Our business interests don’t allow for us to go a month without a connection. The SAT phones work fine, but Nikko and Daria need to see spreadsheets, Janah has temple admin, we don’t want to spend an hour crossing the lake to use the set-up at the hotel, then an hour back. Plus it ties up their stuff.”
Susan, “The days of breaks from the internet are almost extinct.”
“People expect it. Jan says guests are more relaxed being able to tap into business matters than the tension of being out of touch. I know it’s popular to talk about going offline, it sounds good until you do it. Apart from Chloe’s page, we don’t use it to socially network, it’s not like we spend time updating our Facebook friends, or sending tweets. I had a Facebook page I seldom used, I just wanted to see how it works. I shut it down.”
Susan, “I never did any of those, my social network is with the people on our family site.”
“You didn’t miss anything.”
Taylor, “And boring me needs to get home and to bed, I’m a tired girl.”
We kiss mom and Taylor, they have an under three block walk to the condo, it’s pushing ten. After stuffing the dishwashers, Dasha and I go to our rooms, Janah’s propped up in bed reading, I brush and flush, then we sort of watch a segment of The Guardian on Amazon. It’s okay, but we’re asleep before it ends.

Chapter Eight

For the last month, I’ve spent at least a hour a day of the roof droning. I’m not Eloise, but I don’t crash it or knock it into things. I can make it zip around corners, stop it in an instant and hover, stick it to the building wall. We are practicing hitting a moving target with the darts while Daria and Susan get the code written to make the dart track the target.
At our afternoon tea, I ask Daria how it would work.
“Dart is too small to add tracking. We make a separate carrier for dart. Like booster rocket on spaceship. Operator points to target, little missile locks in, she sends signal to fire dart.”
“All on that small drone?”
“Not for now, bigger drone, more power, bigger battery. It is more noise than our current drone, but cannot be helped for now.”
“How is that different from just firing a dart from the drone we have?”
“Fine if target is stationary, but if he is running, hiding under something, or has gun, he could shoot drone maybe. Hard to shoot little rocket. This way also, we have drone far away from target, tiny missile will track him.”
“And how does the rocket know where to go? I know you said the operator is tracking the target, but how does that information get to the rocket?”
“Radar and laser. Target coordinates go to missile, rocket point at target, shoot dart.”
“The missile has radar and a laser?”
“No, radar on drone, missile can receive signal from drone and it follows coordinate, laser is on missile, tells operator where dart will hit. Receiver on missile makes adjustment twenty times a second. Not military grade, but we are tracking a person, he cannot move so quick, even in a car or motorcycle. We don’t try to hit jet plane.”
“Dang, that’s amazing. When will it be ready?”
“Still perfecting code, ordering material for missiles. Once one is used we either have to retrieve or destroy it, not let someone find.”
“No, they could copy it I guess.”
“Sure, and will be people flying drone killing people with no way to know who did it. Since we can’t be sure to retrieve, for now, once dart is fired, rocket self destruct, no more any good.”
“Like a bee that dies once it stings.”
Nikko, “Where do you get missiles made?”
“In workshop, we make drone, make little missile simple. Hard part is code.”
Zi, “Who developed the code? How did you even know where to start?”
Dasha, “Hack defense contractor, plus plenty of seestem on eenternet anyway already. How to build bomb on eenternet, no secret.”
Janah, “That’s true, I’ve seen all that and more. You can find instructions from a Google search. It’s illegal to make a guided missile, but it’s not illegal to post instructions as to how.”
Zi, “One more thing we do that’s illegal. I hope the NSA isn’t following your internet searches.”
Janah, “All our Society stuff is through a variety of back doors, our IP addresses are meaningless, they change randomly all day and those go through other addresses, none of them from our location. Our normal home use skips all that, it’s like anyone’s internet connection. We don’t care if the NSA tracks our Netflix account.”
Amaya, “Why can’t you be your own provider, not go through a company at all?”
“A popular question. You can, but it’s a monstrosity of a problem and, ultimately, you still have to get a line from a cable or phone company. Then you have to register your IP. Far easier and safer to route though proxy IPs. Theoretically, the proxy knows your IP. We circumvent that through encryption and routing through several proxies. Finding us would be a major undertaking, suck up a lot of resources when there are easier pickings. Anyway, some of our contacts are NSA.”
Zi, “All this time, I never knew what we did. I log on and everything comes up instantly.”
“We pay for max speed, we have a variety of connections, cable, wireless, DSL, satellite. Daphne bought a service called Connectify. It combines all our connections and utilizes the one that gives us the greatest speed at the time. It’s why we don’t run Windows, it won’t work with Windows. Or I should say, if we use Windows, we are on one connection or the other, but it won’t auto-switch to the best connection.”
Zi, “Amazing.”
Janah, “Spider had it on his network, Susan knew about it but had no pressing reason for the additional speed. When we shifted everything over to her, we started using it. I like to blaze through stuff, so we added it to our home network. Most of the time, any of our single connections is more than adequate.”
Chloe stands, “I need to reply to comments on the fan page, what time is dinner?”
I look at Dasha, it’s five thirty now, “Seven. We will haf steak filet, Dahfoney will grill. We will haf beeg fries, also speenich salad, fry mushroom and cauliflower appetizing.”
Chloe, “Yum, I like your thick cut fries.”
Janah, “Sounds perfect, I need to make calls.”
Most of the girls return for cocktails at six-thirty and gather at the big table. Janah’s on the phone, Daria comes down for her vodka, Eloise is still upstairs replicating dark matter or something. The filets been marinating in a bit of Worcestershire, soy sauce, crushed garlic and black pepper. I used to let them come to room temperature before grilling, then I discovered it wasn’t necessary. An eight hundred degree grill warms things up in seconds.
“Dasha, are we having warm spinach salad or cold?”
“Cold, I haf already to prepare bread for mushroom and cauliflower, then fry. Plus start fries. We haf plenty hot dish. What ees dessert?”
“I bought a fresh cheesecake, we have the usual fruit toppings, cherry, strawberry and blueberry. Nikko and Amaya like it plain.”
Dasha, “Nikko and Eemaya always worry about gain one pound, never gain one ounce.”
“Maybe it’s because they worry about it.”
I go to our room upstairs, then out on the roof, the grill is underneath a shelter which is covered in solar panels. Since we have panels on the two rooms up here and the workshop, plus the covered area, our utility bill is near zero. Good thing, with all the tech we run, ten thousand square feet of apartment and the juice to run the workshop’s tools, we’d need to own a utility company.
I pull the cover off the grill and fire it up. It’s the same one we have Canada, and it is splendid. I feel like the captain of a grill starship it has so many varied heating features, warmer for bread, different temperatures for different sections, a rotisserie. I can get the thing practically superheated, steaks crusty outside and warm red in. All of us like steak, mostly the same way, Zi prefers a more pink center, so I just leave her’s on another minute or two. Nikko likes blood, I take her’s off a couple minutes early. Chloe is happy she gets to eat it off a plate at a table, I could give it to her raw or burned, Chloe is the happiest person on the planet.
Back in the kitchen, Dasha is breading vegetables, she’s decided to fry zucchini as well, and has a breading assembly line organized.
“Need me to help?”
Dasha, “Nyet, you will make vodka, me, Daria, Chloe, Eemaya, open also wine. We will haf cocktail drink wiz fry vegetable. Then I will feenish potato while you make filet grill.”
I make the required drinks, my vows prohibit intoxicants, but they don’t prohibit me creating intoxicants. I open a Cabernet and a bottle of Gosset champagne, Janah’s preferred intoxicant. Zi and I are Shaolin priests, we vowed not to take intoxicants, Janah is Abbess of our Shaolin temple, but she didn’t take vows. It’s complicated, I’ve explained it in prior books, suffice it to say the Shaolin are more practical than rigid. It’s how they survived centuries of constantly changing Chinese allegiances, governments, warlords and Communists. A flexible tree is buffeted by wind and rain, but lives to see the sun, a rigid tree is broken by the same wind and dies.
Girls are around the table enjoying drinks and splendid vegetable appetizers; Dasha finished off by dusting them with Parmesan and a tiny sprinkle of powdered habanero.
Chloe, “This is remarkable, I say that every time you make it, Dasha, but it is.”
“Dahfoney shows me, we make now at Ultra Violet, favorite appetizer. I am also maybe now add beignets to dessert menu.”
Chloe, “What are beignets?”
Dasha, “From New Orleans, like aig St. Charles. Fry dough, it pops up fluffy, sprinkle with powder shugar, gud.”
Janah, “We had them when we went to New Orleans long before you and Chloe, they are addictive. Why haven’t you made them for us, a breakfast treat?”
Dasha, “I will make. We haf try recipe at restaurant, now ees ready. We will haf first for Sunday brunch, geev away free for customer to try. Serve as first course. Waiting staff haf fun eating our test sample, beeg hit, customer will luf.”
Nikko, “Speaking of which, the restaurant is insanely popular. Do you want to expand, or open another location?”
Janah, “My vote is not. I don’t want to become a chain. We expanded to the Down Homes, that helps our inmate program. Ultra Violet is unique. Plus, we’re spread too thin now. Another restaurant means more supervision, Dasha has no time for more oversight.”
Zi, “Nikko has the same feeling, but we talked about it and thought we should at least put it on the table, what does everyone else think?”
Amaya, “I have nothing to do with that side of our business, I do not feel qualified to have an opinion. It should be left up to Dasha.”
All eyes turn to Dasha, “Work ees first, kill Shadow, feex bad man. No more restaurant.”
Nikko, “I’m good with that, Daphne and Dasha are already guiding our new school menus, which brings me to the next topic. Is everyone ready for their assignments?”
Amaya, “I have a written plan for creative time, and we have hired a music instructor. I will oversee plays, creative writing and dance. Chloe is prepared to instruct tea ceremony.”
“I’ve arranged for instructors to open the day with martial arts. Not fighting, forms, tai chi and gung fu, thirty minutes, not vigorous, just motion and balance. It will close with ten minutes of meditation. The objective is to get excess kid energy burned off and settle into a focused mind.”
Chloe, “Tea will be in the afternoon, at three. Just a half hour, but it will give the students a lift for the close of the day. I will do tea ceremony once a week with rotating classes. I think six students at a time, we have, what, thirty?”
Thirty doesn’t sound like many, but that’s because we only have first and second grade. Third and fourth will be added next year as space comes available in our building, fifth and sixth the following year. The taekwondo school is on the second floor, retail space on the first. Our school will eventually take up floors three through six, it already has a garden on the roof so kids can learn about plants and herbs. David and Manolo put that together. Since we don’t have male instructors, a female monk will teach the kids botany. It’s an all girls school, like Chapman's. Apart from parents, no men are allowed in the building during school hours.  Like Chapman's, we feel that male teachers are problematic in an all girls school. Little girls can be clingy, it doesn’t always work well.
Janah, “After tea is homework time. When our kids go home, they will not carry extra assignments. They can stay at school as long as they wish, but there is never take home work. The day starts at seven, ends at five thirty, a half hour for lunch, a snack break from ten to ten twenty, lunch is at twelve thirty. We provide breakfast, a mid morning snack, light lunch and the tea break. The kids will get a steady stream of healthy calories throughout the day.”
Nikko, “The school also runs from September through June, ten months, and will be open in July and August for kids who want to work online, or for parents who both work and need a place for their children. Paladin is our security agency, just like Chapman's.”
Dasha, “Menu is feenish. Protein, enough carbohydrate, no too much, vegetable, fruit, no fruit juice, too much shugar. We haf cookie for snack, but oatmeal and shortbread only, lowest carbohydrate. No candy, no soda with shugar, low fat meelk only, 2%, not skeem, skeem ees nasty. I show keechen staff to make protein smoothie wiz no shugar, frozen berry, water, protein powder, gud.”
Janah, “You make those for us, they are good.”
“Da, keeds will like, gud for growing, don’t get sleepy.”
Nikko, “Sounds like we’re as prepared as we can be. School starts next week.”

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