Thursday, December 24, 2009

Potato Bread

I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness. Ecclesiastes 7:25

For once, Joy was hoping she could spend some time alone in her Oak Street Bible Shop, it was inventory time. She sent Sue out to a nearby store to get a cellulose sponge and some liquid floor wax. When inventory was over she wanted to go over the floors again. To a casual observer the shop’s floor looked perfectly clean and shining, like everything else in her immaculate little store. But she would move her head around to catch the sunlight reflecting off the sunny spots and see places that were not as bright as they could be and it bothered her. She had instructed Gary to wipe his feet carefully when he came up from the basement where he was moving cartons around and generally cleaning up.

She counted on being alone for at least an hour, Sue said she would be back “right away” but Joy knew from experience that she would wander into the fabric section and look at all the patterns and colors and dream of another one of her sewing “creations”.

She stepped over to Glen’s “prophecy corner”. As usual he had mixed up the books. “Oh, Glen” she thought, “”You’ve put Dwight Pentecost in with John Waalvoord.! Don’t you know the difference between a “P” and a “W”?

But, she was thrilled to think there would be no distractions from his presence for at least long enough to finish this dreaded inventory. Just then she heard his feet clumping up on the porch and the little bell jangling as he came into the room. “Howdy” he said in a rather distracted way. He headed for the coffee urn table.
“If you’re here for the genealogy charts, they’re not in yet” she said, anticipating his question. “Oh, the charts, “he said, “tell you the truth I had forgotten all about them.”

He sat down on the chair by the coffee urn and reached into the pocket oh his blue dyed field jacket. He took out a carefully wrapped grilled cheese sandwich and plopped it onto the table.

“Did Cheryl make you another sandwich” asked Joy. She preferred he talk about something simple, this morning. She was trying to concentrate on her inventory sheets and was in no mood for one of Glen’s endless discussions.

He was looking out the side window at the birds gathered at the feeder.

“Cheryl? Oh, no,” he said rather absent mindedly.” My landlady made this one for me. I got her one of those toaster ovens and she made this to thank me. She wanted to know if I liked the combination of Colby cheese and potato bread. I told her I was sure I’d like it, but I never even heard of potato bread before.” He poured out a small cup of coffee and began to unwrap his sandwich.

“Too bad those blue jays run off all the little guys, isn’t it? he asked.

Behind the counter, she put down her inventory sheet. She hoped she could remember where she was when he stopped talking, if he stopped talking.

“ I don’t know what I can do about it, they have to eat too, you know, she said”
Glen was still looking at them. “Oh, sure they do. I like blue jays, beautiful birds, so full of life and spirit, never saw a blue jay mope around. You know, when I was a kid I always thought they looked like policemen. And you ever notice how they’re the first ones to spot danger? Then they give out a loud scream and all the birds take off. They can be a bother, but they can save the lives of the other birds by giving the alarm.”

Joy put down her sheet. “What’s the use!” she thought. Like Sue and Gary, she loved Glen, but sometimes he was just too much, and today was one of those days. “How’s your sandwich?” she tried.

“Good, good!” he said. “But it doesn’t taste much like potatoes.”

“It’s not supposed to” said Joy.
“Then why do they call it potato bread if you can’t even taste the potatoes?”

“They put potatoes in the dough to give it texture” said Joy with growing impatience.
Glen was looking at the birds again. “Oh.” was all said. He had a sip of coffee and took another bite of his sandwich. It was quiet and Joy risked picking up her inventory sheet.

“You ever see those squirrel proof bird feeders, Joy? The have a perch that is set so when a bird lands on it it stays put. But when a squirrel gets on, it closes up. You could make’em for different weights of birds, one for real little guys like chickadees and Carolina wrens, and medium size birds too. Then one just for big guys. The Blue jays could have their own feeder that way. Leave the other guys alone. Maybe you could make’em adjustable?”

Joy, put her chin down on the heel of her hand. “I think I’m running a Glen feeder” she thought. All this detail stuff to do and he just goes on and on!”

“How’s the cheese?” she thought she might as well go along with him.

“Very good!” said Glen, with enthusiasm, “Always liked Colby, although I thought it was used mainly grated on salads, stuff like that. It’s a type of cheddar, you know. Named after a place in England. They came up with what is now called the cheddaring process. They adjust the acidity of the curds, makes it milder. Longhorn is a type of Colby. I might ask her if this is Longhorn. My landlady, I mean.”

Just as Joy thought he had run out of things to say about the cheese, Glen spoke again. There’s another Colby you know. Former director of the CIA. After he retired he started talking too much and they offed him. Joy sat up, startled. “How do they know he was “offed”? she said.

“It just figures” said Glen. “To begin with he was typical CIA, very meticulous. They are the kinds of guys who wear belts and suspenders, take no chances, you know. Ever read The Spike? It tells how they recruit such guys, they like gourmets, they feel a man who knows which wine goes with which meal, has discernment, has a good mind. On the day he died William Colby was having clams with wine. The table was still set, clamshells in the sink, and suddenly he decides to go canoeing with a storm coming up! He did canoe, but checked the weather each time before he went out and always wore a life jacket. They never found a life jacket or his floating paddle. Nothing fits. He wouldn’t leave those shells in the sink or dishes on the table, his friends said. And never go canoeing in a storm. He was taken out because he was ready to talk. I could tell you about two books he was associated with that were total shockers.”

Joy got to her feet and opened the door to the stairway. He heard her feet on the steps going upstairs to where she and Dave lived. He ate some more of his sandwich and finished his coffee. After about five minutes Joy came back down with a china cup and a kettle of hot water.

“Look Joy,” he said apologetically, “I’ll get out of here and stop bothering you. I know I talk too much and I’m really sorry. It’s just that I like to get to the bottom of things.”

Joy put the cup on the table and dropped in one of his Constant Comment tea bags. She poured water from the kettle into the cup. “Here,” she said, “when you get to the bottom of this, I’ll make you another one!”

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