Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Anari Effect, The Rest of Chapter One

The preceding part of The Anari Effect can be found here

The Anari Effect, The Rest of Chapter One

“Good morning, Len.”

“Morning, Miss Anari. You’re here early.” Len smiled as he pushed the elevator button.

“I couldn’t sleep, and as much as I enjoy working at home, I needed a change of scenery, you know?”


“I’ll be driving myself to and from work by tomorrow I hope, do I need a parking pass?”

“Yes M’am. I’ll arrange for one and have it sent up. We’ll need the vehicle description, license number and model when it arrives.”

“As soon as the leasing company contacts me with the info, I’ll pass it on to you.”

“Very good.”

The elevator doors opened on the executive floor. “Have a good day, Len.”

“You too, Miss Anari.”

The floor was quiet. She suspected she was one of the few, if not the only one, working at this early hour.

Dakota grinned as she placed a small package on Teresa’s desk, then went into the inner office. The office was peaceful in the half-light. Her little green dragon studied her with calm black eyes, and she winked at him as she gave her mouse a nudge. Dakota’s phone began to play ‘Ode to Joy’ and she knew a text message had come in. It was from Stanton Wells.

‘You have my go-ahead to interview and hire as you see fit. Just let me know your final decision.


Her email was already filling quickly. One from the leasing company caught her eye and she opened it quickly. The car she had requested would be delivered that very afternoon, in red, as per her wishes.

Dakota grinned with anticipation. She ignored the other emails after scanning through the list of senders.

She opened Mozilla and went straight to the website she had been looking at just hours before. She found a contact link and eagerly typed an introductory email to Shanis Morriseau.

‘Miss Morriseau,

I understand that you are currently seeking employment within your field. I work with a company that is interested in speaking with you. There are benefits and substantial perks, and the pay is competitive. If your curiosity is aroused, please contact me as soon as possible.

Dakota Anari, Director of Development & Sustainability.’

A knock at her door shook her concentration.


Teresa came into the office smiling. “Good morning. I wanted to thank you for the gift.”

“It’s nothing.” Dakota smiled. “I saw it and thought of you. It won’t do 120, but it screamed your name when I saw it.”

“My son was envious when I called and told him. He was teasing me that I’m probably the only mother who has a mini Honda Shadow, but I think I heard him say it was cool.”

“Well, like I said, it’s not much, but I’m glad you like it. I think I may have found a replacement for Tukis.”

“Already?” Teresa said.

“Come and take a look at this woman’s qualifications.” Dakota invited Teresa to sit behind the desk. “Did you get coffee yet this morning?”

“No, I just came straight in.” Teresa answered in a slightly distracted voice.

Dakota poured coffee for them both at the credenza and set up a tray with sugar and muffins on the coffee table. She knew Teresa might be reading for a bit, so she settled in on the sofa with a file on insulation.

After a few minutes, Teresa joined her on the sofa and asked, “What are you reading?”

“I’ve been thinking; the cost of building homes has gone up as technology improves, right?”

“Tell me about it. I’m still saving for my first home. My parents paid a third, in cash no less, than what I have in the bank. And it’s nowhere near what I need!”

“My point exactly. And while we’re busy working ourselves to death for the opportunity to own a home, we’re poisoning ourselves too! Do you have any idea how toxic most buildings are? New carpeting, for example. Immunotoxicologists are finding that hundreds of people are reporting feeling sick when exposed to new carpeting for long periods of time. Those people are feeling sick because their bodies are releasing anti-myelin antibodies. Their brains are being damaged in both the frontal lobes and temporal lobes, as well as the base ganglia, resulting in tremors, loss of concentration, loss of motor skills, absentmindedness, interruption of vision, and in some cases of children, epileptic seizures.”

Teresa eyed the broadloom beneath their feet suspiciously. “Okay, so no new carpeting in my house. So I use linoleum and throw rugs.”

“What I’m researching at the moment is alternative insulation. The pink stuff has a reputation for being hard to install, itchy and a respiratory irritant.

“What’s the alternative, though?” Teresa asked as she took a bite from a muffin

“I’m reading about a product that is made from blue jean manufacturing waste.”


“Exactly. This stuff is a combination of denim scrap, and microscopic olefin fibers.”

“Wait a minute, what’s olefin?”

“It’s made of polypropylene and polyethylene. And I wondered about the environmental impact in production, too.” Dakota held up a hand as Teresa opened her mouth to ask a question. “According to available research, olefin is the lesser of environmental evils right now, and it has applications in all kinds of products. But here, it provides both loft and insulation value.”

“You’ve learned all that this morning?” Teresa asked as she grinned impishly.

Dakota chuckled. “No, I’ve been trying to find alternatives to conventional housing since I went to university. So, what’s your impression of Miss Morriseau’s website?”

“If the woman is half as impressive as her site, she should really be something.”

“Wells gave me the go ahead early this morning to interview and hire as I see fit, so I’ve written her an email. Hopefully, she’ll reply soon.”

“When you say ‘early this morning’, how early is your early?”

“Not too long ago. I actually text messaged him at five thirty.” Dakota sipped at her coffee after answering.

“If I may be so forward,” Teresa asked, “Why would anyone be up at that hour? Do you jog?”

“I had a nightmare at four, so I was already up.”

Teresa’s eyes widened. “What an unholy hour for the horse to visit.”

“I’m sorry…the horse?”

Teresa chuckled. “Sorry, I assume everyone uses the same expressions my family does. A popular sci-fi author wrote a novel in which mares deliver bad dreams, hence the term, night mare.”

“Ah. Very unique. It would have been nice if it had been a horse.” Dakota tossed the file on the sofa between them. “Here’s a project for you; between all the other things you do, if you could find some solid research on alternative forms of insulation, along with their comparative R values, I’d greatly appreciate it.”

Teresa rose from the sofa and smoothed her slacks. “Cookies tomorrow morning?”

“Sounds good to me.”

At eleven that morning, Teresa knocked on the inner door and heard the now familiar, “Come.”

Dakota had removed her jacket and rolled up her sleeves, and was resting her chin in her hand as she read something on the monitor.

“It’s getting on lunchtime for me. I thought you might like something from the dining room?”

“Thanks, but I’m not hungry just yet.”

“Okay. Did you hear anything from your prospect?”

“I got an email saying she would call us this afternoon.” Dakota squinted and rubbed at the bridge of her nose. “I don’t suppose there’s anything in the building for a headache?”

“I have some Ibuprofen…” Teresa gestured at the door.

Dakota nodded at the implied offer and followed her assistant.

“Are you sure something in your stomach wouldn’t help?” Teresa removed the bottle from her desk drawer and shook two out.

“No, I’m not sure, but I hate leaving research when it’s getting interesting. I’ll live. Thanks.”

She smiled and went back to her office, but left her door slightly ajar.

‘Maybe if I close my eyes for a couple of minutes, the pounding will subside.’ she thought. After practising some deep breathing, the pain did indeed lessen, and when Teresa poked her head in an hour later, she found the Director of Development & Sustainability asleep.

Dakota might have napped for hours if the smell of coffee hadn’t woken her. Yawning, she sat up and found a mug of black coffee and a sandwich on the coffee table.

“Taking care of me already?” Dakota murmured to the empty room.

Teresa knew Dakota was back at work when she heard typing from the inner office, so when the call from Shanis Morriseau came in, she patched it right through to her boss. Of course, right after that, Len called up to announce that he was escorting someone up that needed documents signed.

Teresa greeted them both, and explained that since Miss Anari was on the phone, she would take the papers in, get them signed and be right out.

“Yes, I can accommodate your schedule this afternoon, Miss Morriseau. I’ll let security know to expect you. I look forward to meeting you.” Dakota hung up and took the papers.

“You have a car?”

“I do. Want to come see it with me?” Dakota grinned.

The two women left with silly grins and anticipation written all over their faces.

“Very sporty.” Teresa nodded. “Very cool.”

Dakota circled the cherry red car, nodded and signed the paperwork before handing it over to the leasing rep. “Thank you very much for bringing these over. Len..”

“Yes M’am?”

“Teresa and I will be stepping out for a few while I test drive my new car.”

“I thought you might, M’am.” Len smiled widely. “I’ll have your spot ready for you, as well as your parking pass.”

“Thank you. Oh, in about an hour, there will be a young Native woman coming for an interview. When she arrives, please bring her straight up.”

“Yes M’am.”

Dakota got in the driver’s seat and put the window down. “Do you like ice cream, Len?”

“Pralines and Cream is my favourite.”

“My kind of man.”

“You know, you keep this kind of thing up, and you’ll have a reputation in no time.” Teresa said as she buckled her seat belt.

Dakota handed her the tray with three cones and replied, “I’m quite sure Mr. Tukis might have a few things to say about that.”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“He’s not the first to have issues with me.” Dakota put the car in gear and eased out of the driveway. “I’m sure he won’t be the last.”

“Just for clarification, I don’t care if you’re purple, sleep with three headed aliens and live on Saturn’s third ring.”

“Thanks…I think.”

“Seriously, given enough time, I think the noise will die down and folks will forget. I don’t think the majority of upper management will care as long as they can see you’re doing your job.”

“Let’s hope that’s true. I’m not all chuckles and ice cream though, Teresa. I have to warn you, there will be days I’ll be a bitch on wheels.”

“Like you were with Tukis?”

“Something like that. There are days I go without sleep, without food, and then I suffer for days until my body gets back on track. I’m grouchy and rather…unlikeable.”

“Can I ask a personal question?” Teresa asked between licks of her ice cream.


“Are you manic in your work habits?”

“Not usually.” Dakota signaled to turn. “But I have times when the crap from my past comes back to bite me in the ass, and it affects my work for a short period of time.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “My childhood was … character building.” Dakota turned into the Wells Corp. parking lot. “So enjoy the good days.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Down Time

I think that what a person chooses to do in their "down time" says a lot about them. I hadn't really given much thought to my hobbies until last week, during a conversation with Betty. Any of you who have been with me awhile, or read back into the archives of this blog may remember Second Life, the virtual world that we like to build in. Lately, we've been spending more time in Inworldz. It is very much like Second Life, only cheaper and newer, so it's still in it's infancy. But still lots of fun. In Inworldz, I build custom motorcycles. Theme choppers mostly. It's inexpensive fun, when you compare the price of an internet connection to my neighbor's clubbing and drinking fun.

As some of you know, I also enjoy knitting. Lately my needles have been kept busy between knitting for the boys, my pregnant co-workers and friends and now knitting for a homeless youth shelter. The newest thing for the boys lately have been "flame hats". My first one was for S, who wanted his in shades of blue. It's not my best work ever, but he likes it enough that he is rarely seen without it.

Now B has asked for one similar with red & orange flames, with a black top. That one isn't even done yet and now S has requested another skull cap (the style that covers the top part of the ear but does not fold up), only this one in all black. I'm thrilled my boys like hats so much, but I think I need more fingers!

In addition to all this, as you know, I've been writing "The Anari Effect" and researching natural antibiotics, as well as natural breathing aids. There are three of us here with asthma, and Betty's breathing isn't 100% either, so I'd like to give us every edge I can.
Did I say "down time" at the beginning of this post?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Summer Lessons Learned

The growing season here is done and I can honestly say I learned a few things this summer.

This apartment is too dark, too shaded to grow anything here. Anything that needs light anyway. Sage is doing fine, the peas got too cold I think, because they got enough water. Our green peppers are actually growing, and are about an inch long, much to my surprise! My apple seedling died. I'm not sure why. It was watered, brought in at night, and seemed to be doing fine. One day it was green, the next it was dead. My tobacco is still growing, but very, very small. Because the seed is so small, I ended up planting more than I thought I had. Note to self: Next time, be more careful and plant fewer! If there are fewer per pot, it's more likely they'll get bigger.

I was finally able to get some mung beans for sprouting. Now that summer is over, sprouting will probably be my "gardening" for the winter. I'm going to do my best to get a proper light table so that I can start seedlings earlier next spring. I'd like to be able to get lettuce going. Even small homegrown lettuce is better than none!

The compost bucket turned out better than I had hoped, but it needs bigger air holes. I have been trying to borrow a drill from co-workers, but clearly, this is a bigger priority for me than them. So if you are going to make a compost bucket, remember to allow for air circulation!

I never did get those potatoes in a bucket going. I'll plan this for the spring and see if I can't get some grown for the summer. As with the lettuce, even small, homegrown potatoes are better than nothing.

So this summer was not a total waste. The plan was to learn a few things, and I did. My rain bucket got a late start because of our summer-long-drought, but the past month I have been able to water the greenery with rainwater, and I'm sure they're healthier for it.

Never be afraid to try, there is always something to learn from every experience!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Anari Effect, More of Chap One

The preceding part of The Anari Effect can be found here
and now for the continuation,

“Welcome home, Dakota Mackenzie Anari.”

“Just Dakota, okay? Thanks, Hanna. It’s been a long day.” Dakota shut the door behind her and locked it as she pulled off her boots. “My first day and I shook up the nerds, fired a sexist pig and got to yell my head off. I think I made an impression, Hanna.”


The bedroom was warm and inviting. It didn’t take Dakota long to change into flannel pyjama bottoms and a black sleeveless t-shirt with a pink ‘Whose Yo…?’ blazoned across the chest. The feather bed seemed to absorb Dakota, who sighed heavily in contentment. “I’ll say this for Wells Corp., they’ve got great movers. I wonder… Hanna, did anyone bring groceries today?”

“The refrigerator is full.”

“Good.” Dakota padded barefoot into the kitchen where she began pulling pots and pans from the cupboards. In the fridge she found the bottle of wine she’d requested, and wasted no time in pouring herself a glass. “Hanna, some music please. Something soft and classical, I think.”

While she waited for the pasta to cook, she strolled through the rest of the house. She felt a little like a visitor opening doors and peering into rooms. She found the office easily enough, and even as she stepped into the room, she was surprised again at how welcoming the room seemed. The floor was covered in thick, dark green broadloom, the walls were covered in a honey-toned pine and all of her books were on shelves that lined the walls. Even her computer was already set up on the desk.

“Dakota, may I ask a question?”

“Of course, Hanna.” Dakota was studying the placement of her photos on a wall.

“What are you creating in the kitchen?”

“I’m making linguini with a white clam sauce.”

“Do you enjoy cooking for yourself?”

“It depends on my mood. I’m no chef, but I can cook fairly well. Why do you ask?”

“I am attempting to learn your tastes and desires.”

“Ah yes, you were programmed to learn and adapt, weren’t you?”

“That is correct. You have no others coming to live with you?”

“No, Hanna, there’s just me.” Dakota played with the drape and tried not to let the melancholy show in her voice. “Only me.”

“I do not wish to downplay your distress, but your water is boiling.”

“Time to check on the clams anyway.” Dakota left her wine on the desk. “Leave the light on please; I’ll be coming back in here to eat.”

“Very well, Dakota.”

Setting aside her fork, Dakota clicked the mouse again, intent on finding some way to make her idea even remotely possible. For years, she had pursued the idea of inexpensive, environmentally safe housing. The only buildings that seemed to meet her criteria were those created by so-called alternative building methods. Although rammed earth and cob homes were inexpensive, they were still labour intensive and not easily acquired. Dakota wasn’t sure that scraping away soil that was needed for farmland was an ecologically sound method of housing people. The housing was cheap, but at the cost of feeding hungry mouths…

She kept searching.

She read pages on formaldehyde and paint fumes, sick building syndrome and NASA’s living wall experiments, but when she came to an article on arsenic in children’s playground equipment she stopped.

“Hanna,” Dakota rubbed her eyes as she spoke. “What information do your files contain on arsenic in outdoor structures?”

“The most common wood preservative and pesticide used in outdoor structures is chromated copper arsenate, which is 22% arsenic. Arsenic is banned in all agriculture and food uses, but has been exempted for use in wood. One twelve foot long treated piece of wood contains one ounce of arsenic.”

“All of which is alarming enough, but we can’t go on poisoning ourselves. We need to find an inexpensive, non-toxic replacement.” Dakota’s thoughts were interrupted by a jaw-cracking yawn. “But not tonight. I’m off to bed. Set security alarms, please Hanna.”

In no time at all, she was back in the bedroom and snuggled between the sheets.

“Enjoy good rest, Dakota.”

“Goodnight, Hanna.”

Dakota dreamed she was surrounded by tall, golden grasses, whispering secrets in the wind, with the endless blue sky above her. She was all alone, and yet she felt safe and protected. She began to walk among the grasses with her hands held out beside her, feeling the feathery heads of the wheat stalks as they bobbed and bowed at her passing. She heard birds call out to each other, and answer in thin, reedy voices. She heard the wind blow through the grasses, and it struck her that she had not been this alone for many, many years. She heard someone call out to her then, the sound sharp in the silence, and she turned to see a woman carrying a small child away. The only sound was still the wind in the wheat. The child did not reach out, nor cry, and for a moment, Dakota wasn’t sure she had heard anything at all. But the image of the woman and the child striding away tore at her and choked her with unshed, raw emotion. She heard her name called again and she sobbed for a reason too deep to understand while she stood in the wheat field. But the doors had opened a crack, and no matter how hard she struggled, they would not close again, and she could not get her emotions under control. She wept harder, watching the woman walk away with the girl looking back over her shoulder, and Dakota sank onto the ground, and beat at the earth with balled up fists until the dirt was damp with her tears.


“Dakota. It is time to rise.”

“I’m up, Hanna.”

“Are you ill, Dakota?”

“No, just a bad dream.”

“You were…weeping.”

Dakota rolled over and stretched, with her throat feeling raw and ravaged. “I know.” She lay still for a minute, her arm thrown across her eyes, as if this act could shut out the images. After a while, she threw the sheet back and rose, already setting her mind on the day that stretched out in front of her. “Shower on, please, Hanna.”

Even the hot water could not wash away the pain the dream had left behind, time and time again; Dakota had to force her thoughts back to work. Work had been her salvation before, and it would be again.

“Hanna, what time is it?”

“It is four a.m.”

“Cripes, that’s practically the crack of dawn. Better get the coffee perking, Hanna.”

“Do you wish to share the dream that upset you?”

“Not right now. Let’s just get to work, okay?”

Even as she washed her hair, Dakota was saying, “Can you tell me if there are any female engineers currently in our area who specialize in environmental engineering?”

There was only the sound of falling water as Hanna searched the internet for an answer. “The media has reported often on Joan Roebling. She has won numerous accolades for her work in toxic substance removal from water. There is also Shanis Morriseau, who according to her website, is currently looking for work.”

“She has a website?”


“My desktop is on; can you rouse it from sleep mode and bring up the website while I get dressed?”

“I can.”

Knowing she had a few hours before her driver came to collect her, Dakota threw on a grey sweat suit, her mind miles away from the prairie and already wondering if she could find someone to fill Mr. Tukis’ place.

A quick glance at Miss Morriseau’s website gave Dakota the pertinent details.

“Well. She has a wide range of scientific experience.” she said aloud, “She’s 37 and unemployed. I wonder why? Oh, here it is. Contract buyout. Experience with engineering, chemistry and engineering management…as well as environmental engineering.”

Dakota looked at every page of the compact website, wanting to get a rounder picture of the woman behind the scientist. Eventually, she found a photo that depicted a Native woman who looked neither old nor young. Her eyes reminded Dakota of a phrase. “Wise beyond her years.” She had listed her interests as reading mystery novels, painting, music, walks in the woods and collecting. Dakota navigated to another page and began to read about Shanis’s professional accomplishments. By the time five thirty rolled around, Dakota wanted this woman on her team so badly, she text-messaged the President of the company.

‘I have someone in mind to fill Tuckis’ empty chair. Seems like a perfect fit. Need your opinion and go-ahead.’

After including the link to Morriseau’s website, Dakota sent the message and began to search for a local phonebook.

“Dakota, is there something I can help you find?”

Dakota stopped and put her hands on her hips. “Actually, there is, Hanna.” Hanna’s image appeared on the wall.

“As nice as it is, I don’t want to be driven everywhere. I want to be the one in control, but I have a very specific desire. I need to know if there are car-leasing companies in the area that have hybrids.”

“Searching.” After only a minute, Hanna’s image blinked. “I have located an organization nearby that may suit your requirement.”

“Very good. Do they have a website?”

Hanna’s pseudo-face was replaced by the company’s website. Dakota’s finger trailed down the text, through the pictures and through more text until finally she said as she touched one image, “What about that one?”

“The Honda Insight?”

“In red, I think.” Dakota rattled off an email to the company on her computer, and just as she clicked on the “send” button, Hanna again appeared on the wall.

“Dakota, you have not eaten. What are your wishes for breakfast?”

“Flapjacks, real maple syrup, orange juice and fruit salad.”

“There is no maple syrup, real or synthetic, in the pantry.”

“So you do have limitations.” Dakota grinned as she headed for the kitchen.

“And you have an odd sense of humor, Dakota Anari.”

More coming soon!