by David S. Warren
The Peckerwood village dogs always were waiting for dried-worm treats twenty minutes before Jim appeared at their gate to announce himself:
“Hallo the House,
Here be Jim Worms Freedman
here to dig worms”.
Jim’s hands and face were brown and veined like oak leaves in fall; and he was over six feet tall … which made him seem like a friendly tree when he stooped to talk with a common five- foot yeoman of those days.
In every season and all weather Jim wore several layers of oil-stained sail cloth sewed with leather cord, and a tri-corner hat that he removed only in greeting, when crawling through hollow trees to gather honey, or as a pillow wherever he lay himself down at night.
Everywhere that Jim went on his rounds he carried a long duffle bag across his back, swinging from one hand, or perfectly balanced and stiff as a log atop his padded hat.
And if you asked Jim what all was in that log of a duffel bag, he would say it was his “whole kaboodle,” but he wasn’t particularly secretive about it, his kaboodle was all he owned but the clothes he had on, and consisted first of all of a three-foot length of stove pipe, with a damper and cap and a hinged door. This was his stove.
Inside the stove pipe, when he was on the road and not using it for cooking or for smoking bees, was a hook-billed knife in a pouch, another pouch containing his flint and steel, another of seeds, one of cords, lines, and hooks, and beside all that, short-handled hoe and a pair of sticks, one of them notched, which he would pound into the ground with his hoe then rub up and down the notches with the other stick at great speed to drive worms, particularly the largest ones, right out of the ground. Farm boys watched, admired, and attempted this vibrating trick, but with little success.
And when boys asked Jim Worms why he carried his whole KABOODLE with him all the time, he would say it was to be sure he was always ready to up and follow a SIGN.
And if one proceeded to ask him what SIGN he was looking for, he would say he didn’t know now but he would know a Sign when he saw it.
In the meantime, and for the privilege of digging worms behind outhouses, Jim offered to hoe corn, braid rope, birth a calf, or just about whatever he could do to assist the homestead; kindly declining invitations to come inside, saying he would be always hitting his head on the ceiling beams and, anyway, in there, he wouldn’t be able to see the SIGNS.
Jim accepted no money or back-door meal invitations, only a few vegetables when he tended gardens, and people assumed that he survived mostly on fish he caught with the worms he dug, and Jim DID still very occasionally use the worms to catch fish, but in his life at sea he had grown sympathetic to the fish and more and more impressed by their clear intelligence so he had turned more and more to just eating the worms, properly prepared of course, fried or smoked and dried …. and neither was he unsympathetic to the worms, he would cut the larger ones in half when he gathered them and leave one half behind, firmly believing that the remaining half would renew itself, so he could spare the worm and eat it too.
All in all, he required nothing more to maintain his vigor and natural charm; he was happy, hopeful, and ready to go when he saw the SIGN.
Jim was hilling potatoes down behind the rectory when Aunt Patty called from the Reverend and Mrs. Davies’ kitchen window:
“Oh Jim Worms: somethin’ terrble ‘as happened! The Reberend’s horse and buggy came home from Rose Hollow ‘thout ‘im this mornin’ an Mrs. Davies is strick stiff an dumb! Run down to the church, you Jim Worms, then come back an drive the Reberend’s buggy out to Rose Hollow! Tell Noah Davies something terble ‘as ‘appened. Oh quick, Jim Worms! The Reberend is Banished!”
Jim ran down and up into the church where the congregation waited, twisting in the pews.
“De Rebrend is BANISHED!” shouted Jim Worms from the back of the church. The people turned, shocked in their seats. What? Banished? But Jim was gone.
He ran back to the rectory where the Reverend’s horse and two-wheeled buggy had returned. On the seat beside where the driver would be: a pie bleeding cherries, and on the floor of the buggy, a pedal grindstone - both of which the pastor Davies had placed there himself, on his way to Rose Hollow, where his son Noah had been dwelling. Now everything was in doubt and chaos, and a lot of that confusion was due to the understandable misunderstanding as to the perceived alarm that somehow, the revered had been banished, or that Jim Worms had been possessed by some satanic spirit and was, cursing the pastor to Hell.
As yet unaware of that, Jim climbed up beside the cherry pie, and shook the reins, urging the reverend’s horse down past the church, headed for Rose Hollow …. soon thereafter pursued by several members of the shocked congregation.
Well before he turned off the post road and up into Rose Hollow, Jim could see a cloud sanding over where Rose Cottage should be.
But when he got there, not much was left of Rose Cottage except the smouldering timbers and a club of smoke leaning west.
Jim had been unaware of the Peckerwood pursuers; but then the wind picked up and he heard the shouts and wagon clatter behind him.
The club of smoke leaned further,
then detached itself and
moved off to the West....
like a sign.
The posse pursued Jim no further than Rose Hollow and Jim made many miles into the wild before evening when he released the horse to graze. Unfortunately, he didn't hobble the horse and after very little grazing she headed straight back to Pecrkerwood.
Jim ate the cherry pie.
The next morning, and from then on, he pulled, and occasionally even carried, the wagon.
"Get on up, you Debil Jim!"
he called out,
whenever it was needed.
Olive and David
I’d always had a sweet tooth, but about twenty-six years ago I suddenly developed absolutely insane cravings for desserts. I’d mix double batches of chocolate-chip cookie dough and eat half the batter raw. Then, I’d eat a bunch of mouth-singeing cookies minutes after taking them out of the oven. Harley was lucky if there were a few cookies left for him.
When I went grocery shopping in Wegmans, I’d fill a small bag with cookies and chocolates from the bulk food section, pay for my groceries and devour everything in the bag before I got home. Sometimes I managed to resist and didn’t buy any crap in Wegmans. But then, on the way home my cravings would overtake me and I’d stop at the little store where I usually bought gas. I’d buy myself horrible things like stale cookies, or cup cakes with gross icing on top and goopy-crap inside them, and eat all of it before I pulled into our driveway.
(go to story)
EatingWith the Ancestors
by Nancy Vieira Couto
Those milk bottles, with a generous amount of cream at the top, reminded me of the milk of my childhood, but I should say right from the start that milk and I have always had a difficult relationship. I remember that we had three kinds of milk in our tenement: chocolate milk, coffee milk, and plain milk. Chocolate milk had some sort of cocoa powder stirred into it, while coffee milk was made with Silmo Coffee Syrup, a long-gone product that was once a staple in the New Bedford area. Of the three, plain milk was the one I liked the least, although it was the simplest to prepare. My mother would remove the orange cellophane from the top of the milk bottle, rinse the top of the cardboard cap, and give the bottle a vigorous shake. Then she would remove the cap, pour some milk into a saucepan, and start warming it up. Of course when my mother poured the warm plain milk over my breakfast Cheerioats, they immediately turned to mush. Truth is, I didn't like Cheerioats much either, and changing the name to Cheerios didn't make them any less mushy. I didn't know then, and didn't learn until I was in college, that other people enjoyed their cereal with cold milk.
(go to rest of the story)
Where Food Goes
by David S. Warren
So we bought a fruit crusher and new, larger press to use on our pears when they ripened last summer: a mixture of sweet and tart, mostly Asian pears. Some of the cider was consumed when still fresh and sweet, and most is now in the later stages of fermentation.
Meanwhile we had realized that a cider press is about the same thing as a cheese press. Being big cheese eaters,we ordered the basic tools, the coagulants and the fermentation cultures to make most any cheese.
Of course cheese making doesn’t always require a press, or need to be a lot more complicated than letting raw milk go sour. I heard on the radio that in prison, where improvisation is necessary, determined cheese-addicts use Real Lemon concentrated juice to coagulate non-dairy creamer. And there it is: easy cheesy.
We have now read so many recipes for cheese making that we are dazed and confused or maybe confused and dazed. The biggest cheesiest site on the internet has hundreds a recipes - new ones all the time, including some for mozzarella, one of which claims to be an easy thirty minute mozzarella, perfect for kids.
Don’t be fooled. The thirty minute mozzarella took a day and a half; we nearly scalded our hands in the process and never got the stuff to be stretchy as pizza dough, like it is supposed to be. So we don’t suggest you make it your first cheese.
You might want to begin with the prison cheese version, or better than that: try making the simple Portuguese kitchen cheese that Nancy Vieira Couto writes about in this issue of the magazine.
(read the beginning of this article)
Dull Ny Thinger
by Gabreal Orgrease
“Hey, sonny doy, dull ny thinger.”
“I’m not yer Granda ya little tord. Now dull ny thinger.”
Aubergine Bawcutt, the talking eggplant, is the infamous Catskill ventriloquist Lorne Surlingham’s most famous dummy. Which is not saying a whole lot for dummies or back alley ventriloquists. A fat purple eggplant poked onto the top end of a broomstick, fastened with brass thumbtacks -- white eyes of radish slices with red peel rings, a petite carrot nose and a thin white-green slice for a mouth. The Chef’s Dummy they used to call her in the good old days on the underground circuit. A sort of Ubu Roi take-off in the vegetable and janitorial kingdom that never translated well to television but was a backstage hit at a thousand and twenty-three catered birthday parties.
“Oh man, grandpa, do you really have to do that? It isn’t funny any more.”
(read this story in its entirety)
by Sue-Ryn Burns
One Saturday shortly after July 4th, when it was fairly quiet and we had released most of the first-litter squirrels and had most of the waterfowl in outside pens, the phone rang. In what can only be considered a moment of temporary insanity, I agreed to take 11 baby Opossums, rescued from a very busy roadside after their mother was killed by a car.
I was of course immediately charmed by the cute little babies. They look like they're wearing opera gloves and their tails are like a fifth hand. Their big pink scalloped ears have black stripes. They each had a widow's peak! They seem to be always in some kind of physical contact with each other – piled up to sleep, sitting on each other, holding paws, or keeping their tails entwined.
(read this entire story here) _______________________
Sharing food with family and friends, while appreciating life’s blessings, can be a form of mindfulness that allows us to receive more energy from our food.
While enjoying food with Reiki practitioners, it’s not unusual to see people holding their hands above their food to fill it with Reiki before they eat. Most people seem to have the right attitude that this is a blessing and an enhancement of the food. But it’s clear that some are worried that the food might have negative energy within it.
When we experience fear, worry or anger, we cannot practice mindfulness. These feelings disconnect us and take us out of the Now. We feel unloved and unsupported. “Be Grateful,” the third Reiki Principle taught by Usui Sensei, serves as advice to help us become centered. Being grateful means nourishing gratitude in your heart, for no specific reason. It means being grateful for the gift of existence. Gratitude brings you here, into the present moment. When you are present, you are connected with all of life, with all of creation. And all is well.
All is as it should be.
(read this entire article here)
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