Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 8

Do you want some cheese to go with that whine, Teagan?

Whine expertIf you saw yesterday’s post, you know I have even more stress than usual right now.  So thanks for letting me vent.  Usually I have to be in a really “good place” or I can’t write.  The spontaneous nature of the serials help with that, though I’m not sure why or how.  Even so, yesterday… I didn’t think I could even write a serial episode this weekend.

But I kept thinking about how long the amazing Elini has been waiting to see the episode for her “things”… and I did manage to write a short episode.  Elini is a Elinifascinating person and chef.  I relate to how she describes her life as a journey.  I hope you’ll take a look at her blog and get to know her – as well as Elini’s Empanadas.  She’s pretty amazing!  So be sure to read to the end of this episode where you’ll find a link to one of her recipes.  Then devour some more of her scrumptious posts.

By the way — we’re running low on things to keep this train running.  Everyone is welcome to send three random things, including food-related things.  Just leave your “things (ingredients)” in a comment.

Now, let’s get this steam locomotive rolling, even if the journey is brief today.  All aboard!

From before…

The woman thought one of the voices she heard back at the Hixon estate could have belonged to Sheriff Alvin Bullard.  Thanks to the magically juiced road locomotive, Copper, the alchemist, and the woman in trousers outdistanced the three presumably hostile groups that pursued them.  However, when the speeding engine took a turn too fast, the woman and the skull of the alchemist ended up in the frigid waters of the river.  The resultant head colds for those two temporarily stalled their adventure.  Not to mention the strange things that happened when the alchemist sneezed.

8.  Short Ribs, Eggplant, Red Pepper

Frog Handkerchief Soap adCornelis Drebble rolled his watery eyes up toward the frog that sat atop his head.  “Huh.  Huh—” Cornelis began and quickly put his finger under his nose in attempt to forestall yet another sneeze.  The frog wisely jumped down from his head.

“For pity’s sake!  There’s no telling what will rain down on us if you sneeze again!” I said, though I knew the alchemist couldn’t help himself.

Ah-choo!” was the answer to my plea.

Another wet splat soon came.  What smelled like a very savory reddish brown sauce splashed onto the legs of my trousers.  I drew back, annoyed.  I finally had been able to put on clean dry clothes, and they’d already been stained.  Cornelis bent down with a curious expression on his face.  Copper left off playing with the frogs to see what new wonder was produced by the sneeze of the alchemist.

He picked up the sauce covered thing that made the wet splat.  I asked what it was as I tried to clean the warm goo from my pant legs.

“It appears to be the short ribs of a swine,” he said as he pulled the meat into two pieces and licked the sauce from one.  “Umm.  Tasty,” he commented. Victorian girl making face

I made a disgusted face.  “Since that is the product of your sneeze, isn’t it rather like the equivalent of eating your own buggers?” I asked; just to see how he would react.

Copper burst out in a gale of laughter.  Cornelis looked at me.  One side of his mouth turned down in an expression of contempt.  Cornelis raised an eyebrow and cast his eyes downward at the ribs.  Then he shot a glare at me and took a big bite of the meat, licking his fingers for good measure.

Then the second wave came.  Short ribs fell all around us.  They landed on my shoulder and in my hair.  They pelted the alchemist, who suddenly had sauce smeared across his nose.  Even Copper wasn’t spared — nor were the frogs.  Riotous ribbits ensued as the amphibians leapt for cover from the rain of ribs.

After calm returned, Cornelis and I discussed the three groups who converged on the Hixon estate.  We both agreed that their only logical purpose would have been to abduct Copper.  I supposed that was good at least in as far as it should mean her father was still alive.  Of course that was no guarantee, as Cornelis quickly pointed out.  Fortunately the girl had gone back to playing with the frogs and didn’t hear that comment.

Suddenly I beheld the strangest sight, and mind you, I have seen some very bizarre things since the alchemist came into my life.  Hundreds of frogs made a procession toward the huge wrent in the building’s wall.  Several hopped huddled together as they balanced an eggplant on their backs and heads.

Copper

Copper

Copper skipped along beside the strange spectacle.  I told her not to go outside.  She stopped and nodded regretfully as the frogs carried their eggplant away.  I asked Cornelis what that could possibly be about.

“One sneeze doesn’t always produce a singular effect.  The eggplant could have come from the same accident of alchemy that created the frogs,” he said.

The Dutchman shrugged it off.  Even so, something nagged at me.

The frogs continued to stream out of the building.  I followed in the opposite direction, tracing the line of amphibians to their source.  Cornelis followed my lead.  Ever curious, Copper came along too.  With a ribbit, a last frog hopped out of a crate.  The large wooden box was almost intact.  Only one corner of it was broken.

I started to try and pry the crate further open to get a better look.  Then, eyes bulging, Cornelis tapped his finger on the label he’d found on the container.

It was marked κόκκινο πιπέρι, and I thought the address was Macedonia, but I wasn’t sure.  “What’s wrong?  I don’t recognize the language,” I said.

Cornelis shook his head and pursed his lips.  “Your education was sorely lacking,” he complained.

“It was not,” I countered.vintage red pepper

“This, κόκκινο πιπέρι or kókkino pipéri if you will, is Greek,” he informed me.  “It means red pepper.  So show a bit of mercy and do not open that crate.  I don’t think I can bear another sneeze!”

“Then move away,” I told him with a motion of my arm.  “I have a hunch.”

I had removed the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers from the owl-shaped lamp.  It was best that I carried them in the thin leather script that was tucked into my long coat.

“Copper, did there happen to be a magnifying glass among that carpet bag full of things you packed?” I asked the girl.

Apparently there had been.  Copper hurried away to the place where our things lay.  She was back in a moment with a lovely ornate magnifying glass.  I imagined it was another of the treasures her father had brought her from his travels.  Although perhaps it was not of the magical variety, as was the “bell” carved with the three wise monkeys which was in fact a harmonic tuner.

I opened the leather script and took out the embossed letter.  Moving this way and that, I tried to get into the best light.  As I held the magnifying glass to the faded seal embossed onto the letter I found the word Macedonia.

Was there finally a clue to the mysterious goings on?  It didn’t feel like a coincidence to me.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman

***

 Where will our trio go from here?  Jump on-board next time when the “things” are from the incredibly creative Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen

 Now for our recipe!  In addition to things/ingredients, lovely Elini was kind enough to also provide a truly creative recipe to go with this episode.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Chocolate Chili Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Chocolate Chili Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Photo and recipe credit:  Eleni Herrera

http://elenisculinaryjourney.com/2014/04/16/chocolate-chili-pulled-pork-sandwiches/

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 7

The steam locomotive is still on track. Episode-7 is here, although it seems like only yesterday I sent you a poll asking what kind of serial you wanted to do next.

First I thought I’d give you a glimpse of my world. Since “Atonement in Bloom” will pick up where my novel “Atonement, Tennessee” left off, the setting is wintry. You’d think the view from my window would speed me along in writing it… Sadly I still have a problem with the number of hours in a day.

From My Front Porch

2015 March snow triptic

The view here is much the same as it is in many other parts of the USA — cold, snow, and ice. To the right you’ll see Maximilian (my car) partially behind the post. I had cleared at least six inches of snow from him. This was taken 15 minutes later, and it is covered again.  (My water resistant parka was soaked, but my Clark’s suede boots were completely dry inside.)  I’d say we got at least eight inches of this March snow at my home.

Here’s an extra picture, just because the contrast amuses me. A neighbor cleaned off his little car. It was a lot less work than the driver behind him will have! Also, within an hour of these picture, even the tree trunks became white with blown snow.

2015 March snow single

The things for this weekend’s episode were sent by my dear friend in New Mexico, RC.  Whether it’s things or ingredients, she always comes up with wonderful ideas, but then she’s one of the brightest, most creative people I’ve ever known.

Once again I searched the WordPress countryside, this time for a recipe for sourdough pancakes.  I found a vintage recipe that was done with a nice post.  However, I haven’t heard back from the blogger, so I doubt the blog is still active.  That’s a pity, because she was doing great work.  I’m including her link at the end of this episode anyway.Runny nose contraption

Lastly, I’m getting over an unfortunate head cold that caught me last weekend, and it also became one of our things.  Because of my cold-muddled mind, the story didn’t exactly advance. But then, every tale has to coast now and then.  The train is still on track.

All aboard!

From last time…

“He wasn’t doing it right, but it looked like he was trying to say daddy,” Copper said of one of the chimps.

“He likely wanted you to believe he could lead you to your father,” Cornelis said.  “But you know they were naughty monkeys, and you could not trust them,” he added and Copper nodded her reluctant agreement.

“Chimpanzees,” I said because I couldn’t resist turning the Dutchman’s correction on him.

His eyes narrowed but he didn’t respond to my taunt.  Instead, he looked past me.  “We’ve no time to doddle,” Cornelis reminded us.  “The other two groups are mere minutes away.”

When I turned to look I saw the torches again.  There were two groups, one larger than the other.  They still approached from different directions, but they were indeed much closer.

***

7.  Muff Pistol, Sourdough Pancakes, Airtights

Just because I find long full skirts and bustles inconvenient and impractical it doesn’t mean that I don’t relish fine things.  I disdain corsets, but that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying an elegant gown.  I actually do have an appreciation and an eye for quality workmanship and materials.  So why would Cornelis and Copper give me such incredulous looks when I delightedly produced a lovely royal blue velvet fur lined muff from an open crate filled with finery.  Really, their reaction was rather offensive.

There was a pocket inside the muff made especially for a gun.  Unfortunately, I had not had a muff pistol for a long time.  A pity that — the inconspicuous firearm could come in handy.  But I ramble.  That ‘s a story for another day.

1860s Woman Handkerchief tintipeCornelis groaned.  I glanced in his direction apprehensively.  Copper sat enthralled, watching the alchemist.  I ducked behind a crate for cover.

“Huh.  Huh.  Huh,” Cornelis gasped in advance of a sneeze and I cringed.

Cornelis Drebbel couldn’t precisely get sick, due to his unique state of existence.  However, he could get the equivalent of a very bad head cold.  The effects of which ranged from alarming to amusing.

Ah-choo!” I inadvertently finished for him, as my own head cold was the genuine article.

“God bless you — and everybody around you!” Copper exclaimed, her favorite blessing for a large splashy sneeze.

I took out my handkerchief and blew my nose in a most unladylike way.  Then it happened.  Cornelis abruptly finished his sneeze, with no preamble whatsoever.  Before the sound died away, before the rain of spittle settled, the effects of the alchemist’s mighty “AH-CHOO!” were revealed.

Pancake Day races

Vintage Pancake Day Races

Every sneeze had a different result.  Knee-high stacks of sourdough pancakes surrounded us, the manifestation of his first ah-choo.  It would have been nice if the subsequent sneeze rained syrup onto the pancakes, as they looked quite delicious.  But I supposed that was just as well.  It would have been dreadfully messy.

Instead, the next sudden involuntary expulsion of air from his nose and mouth created a hail of doorknobs.  That was rather dangerous.  Cornelis got a goose-egg on his head from where one landed on him.  For once the wretched bustle of my skirt was useful, as it deflected two knobs that would have assaulted me.

An electric crackle in the air was the only warning alchemic sneeze effect.  I put my arms over my head when I heard it.  I held my breath, wondering what this sneeze would bring.  Something smacked against my forearm.  I noted with relief that it was neither hard nor heavy.  Hundreds of delicate thumps sounded as chrysanthemum blossoms rained down all around us.

4 Women Handkerchiefs“Ah-choo-choo-choo!” I triple-sneezed.  I was appallingly allergic to chrysanthemums.  As if my head cold was not enough.

How did Cornelis Drebbel and I come to have head colds, you might ask?  It happened something like this…

***

Clouds blocked the light of the moon.  Rather than risk blindly heading into the darkness, Corneils and I chose to follow the nearby river.  At least that way we wouldn’t become lost.  However, that route took us closer to one of our three groups of pursuers.

We still had no idea who any of them were.  Cornelis had made the group of chimpanzees scatter with the magically enhanced road locomotive, and their three leaders became a ceramic statue of “wise monkeys.”  However, I didn’t think whomever controlled the chimps was out of the picture.

Our unknown adversaries were much too close for comfort.  I could distinguish different voices as they shouted to each other.  One seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place who it was.Lovers Eye Brooch

“Over there!” a man shouted.

We’d been seen.  Cornelis muttered in the odd sounding language he used to work his tricks.  I felt an odd sensation that made the hair on my arms stand up.  Suddenly the road locomotive lurched in an impressive burst of speed.  Copper squealed with delight.  Our pursuers were quickly left far behind — whoever they were.

Lights shone from every window in a building ahead.  As we got closer I saw that it was the local grist mill.  “I wouldn’t expect anyone at the mill this late,” I commented but Cornelis didn’t understand me because of our noisy conveyance.

“Look,” the Dutchman said.  “Someone is at the grist mill.  Doesn’t the sheriff own half of it?  Maybe we should stop there, get the authorities involved.”

Mill Springs, Kentucky

Mill Springs, Kentucky

I mouthed the word “No.”  As soon as I heard the word “sheriff” something fell into place in my mind.  I had heard a vaguely familiar voice amid the distant shouting of our pursuers.  Suddenly I realized that voice sounded a lot like Sheriff Alvin Bullard.  Could the sheriff be involved in whatever was going on?

Leaning close to Cornelis Drebbel my lips were a hair away from his ear so I could make him hear me above the noise of the traction engine.

“I always knew you were sweet on me,” he teased drolly before I could speak.

The temptation to swat the alchemist was strong.  However, I voiced my concern about the sheriff.  Cornelis made an appropriate face and nodded.  “Onward then,” he said and gave the locomotive another burst of speed.

I pieced things together, and I believed everything that had happened was connected.  Mr. Hixon, Copper’s father, disappeared.  People from the orphanage were keen to take Copper before anyone should have known her father was missing.  An unknown dead man was found in Calvin Hixon’s his study and trained chimpanzees spirited the corpse away.  Three groups of adversaries converged on the Hixon estate, presumably to abduct Copper.  I believed all those things were related to the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers that were hidden inside the owl-shaped lamp.Copper with Flowers

The road locomotive had been traveling at an astonishing speed for quite a while.  The grist mill was long gone, and I hadn’t seen another building in some time.  Shouting to be heard above the noise of the engine, I suggested that it was safe for us to slow down.  In answer Cornelis gave me an all too familiar sheepish look.

“Don’t tell me…” I warned the Dutchman.  I was right.  He didn’t know how to slow down the road locomotive.

We careened across the country side.  The clouds drifted away from the moon.  I saw that there was a bend in the river ahead.  “Lovely,” I commented sarcastically.  “Now we’ll leave the course of the river and get lost in the countryside,” I said assuming the locomotive would continue to travel in a straight line.

“No, but that would be preferable,” Cornelis called back to me.  “The engine is following the river.  It won’t veer from that course.  And we’re going too fast to take that curve!” he cried just as the traction engine teetered onto two wheels.

My hatbox flew out of the engine and into the river.  With an oath that was in no way feminine, I dove into the frigid darkness of the water after my hatbox.  There was no choice.  The hatbox contained the skull of Cornilis Drebble.Perfumed Handkerchief Pkg

The hatbox wasn’t heavy, and apparently a pocket of air had been trapped inside, preventing it from sinking fast.  I was able to get my hands on it without diving to the deepest reaches of the river.  However my heavy skirt and bulky bustle hindered me rising back to the surface.

As my heavy clothes pulled me down, I struggled to remove them and still hold onto the hatbox.  However, I wasn’t having much success.  Something tapped my neck and gave me a tiny electric shock.  When I turned I saw a thin filament of glowing green.  I associated the luminous verdant color with the Dutchman’s tricks.  But the tendril was so slim; I didn’t see how it could possibly help me.

Yet with no other help in sight I tentatively touched the glowing strand.  It wrapped itself gently around my wrist, and pulled me easily to the surface of the river.  Then it continued to lift me upward and onto the road locomotive.  I noted that the engine had stopped.

Copper applauded enthusiastically.  Cornelis took a bow as if the entire catastrophe had been part of a show, while I sat shivering, soaked, and sulky.  My frock was ruined, along with my favorite top hat.  Even the dratted bustle was a loss, as it was the least uncomfortable one I had ever found.

The alchemist’s skull was safe and sound, if cold and wet.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

With another surge of magical speed, Cornelis drove the engine past the next few towns, staying on the outskirts.  The engine was noisy, and naturally we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves, particularly since we didn’t know who was chasing us.  However, it zoomed by the towns with such speed, that I doubted anyone could have figured out what caused the sudden noise.

Far out into the countryside we came upon an abandoned church that seemed to watch protectively over a few other buildings that were within the same tumbledown stone fence.  One of the buildings was quite large and part of the back wall had fallen.  It was easily large enough to conceal the road locomotive.

The building held a number of old crates.  Each was tagged with owner’s information.  Apparently at one time the building had been used as private storage space.

Cold and still damp from my dive into the river, I leaned against a tall crate, suddenly feeling extremely weary.  Then I sneezed.  By the time I had wiped my nose, Cornelis was sniffling too.  The minute I looked at the alchemist I knew that he had the nearest thing to a head cold that is possible for him to catch.  I sneezed again, knowing I had the real McCoy

So now you know how we came to be surrounded by old crates and impossible stacks of sour dough pancakes.

1862 Pancake Tossing drawing

1860’s Shrovetide family tossing pancakes

***

I grabbed my suitcase and hid behind a stack of crates to change into my trousers and a shirt.  It would have been worth a dunk in the river to get back into my preferred clothes, if not for my top hat being ruined.

That’s when I started paying attention to all the crates.  Many of the wooden storage boxes were opened or damaged, probably from whatever caused one of the walls to fall.  They contained all manner of things.  From one opened crate random items of apparel spilled to the floor, including the royal blue muff I mentioned.  There was a label on the side of the crate, Property of Alastair Wong Sr.

A packet of letters was tied together with a red ribbon.  When I picked them up I detected a trace of lavender perfume.  Love letters, I thought as my curiosity pressed me to open one and read it.  I looked at the return address and found they were to the afore mentioned Alastair Wong from a Phanny Idelle Peabody in Savannah, Georgia, USA.  I put the letters down when something more important caught my eye.

Preserve Produce adAnother was packed with airtights, as a cowboy friend of mine called them — canned goods.  Several of the jars contained preserves.  Those magical stacks of sourdough pancakes wouldn’t go to waste after all.  Not all of them at least; there were far too many for three people to eat, even with Copper’s voracious appetite.  I wondered if the pancakes were still warm.

“Do it again!” Copper said enthusiastically to Cornelis.

I couldn’t help laughing at the sad, red-eyed expression on his face when the girl wanted him to sneeze yet again.

“It is no game,” Cornelis told Copper in a stuffy nasal voice.

Suppressing another sneeze of my own, I took pity on the alchemist.  I held up a jar of apricot preserves and asked Copper if she’d seen any cutlery in the opened crates.  Her mouth made a silent “Oooh,” when she saw the jar and the girl hurried away in search of a fork.

Judging by the disarray and debris, most of the crates had been searched for valuables after whatever catastrophe happened to the building.  The damage looked old too.  There was an abandoned feeling about the place that I found mildly disconcerting.1870s Handkerchief

“What sort of place do you suppose this is, Cornelis?” I pondered aloud.  “Have we sheltered in some sort of ghost town?  One would think a religious compound like this would be part of a town.  But I get the feeling that there isn’t another soul for miles around.”

The alchemist nodded affirmatively.  “Indeed.  I get the same sense of things,” he agreed.  “It will be dawn soon and the light of day will tell us much.”

Cornelis plopped down on a pile of clothing as if it were a bed.  Apparently the clothes had been sitting there for quite some time.  A cloud of dust puffed up when he landed on them.  The dust tickled my nose and I put my finger firmly between my nose and upper lip.

“Don’t you dare!” Cornelis warned me.  “You know that — huh — if you do — huh — then I will too!” he said just as we both sneezed loudly.

I looked at Cornelis Drebbel.  He looked at me.  Nothing happened.  Copper ran back so us, carrying several forks and even some plates.  She stopped and stared expectantly at the Dutchman.  He and I looked at each other again.  Still nothing happened.  Copper looked disappointed.  I sighed with relief.

Frog Handkerchief Soap adThen elsewhere in the building I heard a wet splat.  And another.  A funny little guttural sound traveled to my ears.  It was followed by several dozen more wet splat sounds, and the sounds were coming closer.  A splat sounded right beside me.  I turned to see Cornelis wearing a sad-eyed long suffering expression.  His eyes rolled to look upward.  A frog sat squarely on top of his head.

Ribbit,” the frog looked at me and said.  A chorus of ribbits from all around the building answered.

Copper laughed with delight.  I chortled despite myself.  However, my merriment stopped as, splat-splat-splat, frogs rained down upon us.

***

Is Sheriff Alvin Bullard one of the bad guys?  He seemed harmless enough with his amusingly thick mustache.  Will our trio keep running, no matter how far, to escape the villains who would kidnap Copper?  Or will they turn and fight?  They’re awfully outnumbered.

Come back next weekend when our things are all “ingredients” from Elini’s Culinary Journey.

Don’t leave yet!  Here is this week’s recipe.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Sourdough Pancakes

Pancakes

Recipe credit:  Laury at Egad, Sire, Truly — Bits from one woman’s life

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Three Ingredients – 17: Rutabaga Limbo

Hello all,

This weekend I am unfortunately pressed for time. So I didn’t follow my “rule of three” and write about three ingredients. However, I did pick one food and worked into the idea of Pip feeling she is in limbo.  Next time I’ll go back to that rule of three. Episode-18 will be about the ingredients sent by Ishita at Kooky Cookyng.

However, I couldn’t bear to leave you in limbo. So decided to at least jot down something I could do quickly.  Here is a little episode to give your imagination fodder for what might happen next; a mostly non-food tidbit of The Three Ingredients.

17.  Rutabaga Limbo

Either I woke up feeling horribly nauseous, or the queasiness woke me.  I’m not sure which. I opened my eyes to complete darkness.  There was no light, no sound.  The way my stomach tossed reminded me of a small boat on the ocean.  It was as if I sailed in a lightless limbo.  Oh… that was a bad train of thought to have with an unsettled belly.  Think of something else!  Anything else, I told myself.

I stood unsteadily.  However, the motion set my ears ringing and bile rose in my throat.  Collapsing to my hands and knees, I vomited despite efforts to hold it back.  After my belly had emptied, it calmed and so did the ringing in my ears. jiminy cricket

The sound of a cricket came to me.  Good.  The utter silence had been very disturbing.  I became aware of the cool moist earth beneath my palms.  Where the Sam Hill was I?  I sat back on my heels, focusing all my senses.

My eyes might as well have been closed — it was that dark.  Bare ground was beneath me.  The air had a musty odor.  A sickly sweet scent clung to my bobbed hair.  It almost made me sick-up again.  The cricket’s “chirping” was the only sound.  Still sitting, I turned.  My eyes widened and strained, trying to see in that heavy darkness.  When I looked up I was rewarded with the sight of a thin line of pink light.

The faint glow allowed me to see shadowy outlines a few feet away.  There were large lumpy shadows. One shape was tall and narrow.  Cautiously I stood.  The dizziness abated after a moment and I groped my way to the shape.Rutabaga seeds

I stumbled over something and stooped down to let my hands figure out what it was.  I felt a burlap bag and round lumps.  Rutabagas.  I felt around and found another bag.  That one felt like potatoes.  I moved closer to the wall and the tall shape.  Yes, a ladder, my questing hands confirmed for my still foggy brain.

Gazing up at the line of pinkish light I realized I was in a root cellar.  But how had I gotten there?  My memory was completely out of sorts, and it made my head hurt to try and figure it out.  The moldy air made me sneeze, which also hurt my head.1922 Sat Post

I dragged the ladder into place beneath the crack of light.  That would be the door to the cellar.  Unsteadily but carefully I climbed.  I reached and pushed against the hatch, but it only moved an inch. Then it dropped back down, scattering dirt in my face.  I rubbed my nose and tried not to sneeze again.  I was already dizzy and didn’t want to sneeze while I was on that ladder.

Moving a couple of rungs higher I was able to put my shoulders against the cellar door and push.  The muzzy feeling gradually left my brain.  It puzzled me that the cellar door was so heavy.  I heard a muffled sound somewhere beyond the cellar.  I pushed again, harder.  That time I was able to shoulder open the door.

Looking around, the first thing I noticed was the pink sunset.  Everything else that met my eyes was unfamiliar.  I still didn’t know where I was, but I didn’t think it should be evening.  Why couldn’t I think clearly?  No, it shouldn’t be sunset.  It should be morning.  However, I couldn’t remember why I felt that way.

I crawled out onto the grass.  The muffled, faraway sound reached my ears again, but it seemed much closer.  It was a voice.  I heard it again — my name.  I took a deep breath to shout in answer, but my nose filled with the sickly sweet odor from my hair and I had a fit of coughing.

“Pip!” came a familiar voice, but I couldn’t place its owner.1920s flapper thinking

Rising to wobbly knees I looked toward the sound.  I saw rows of plants.  It was a garden.  Then I saw a figure running toward me, trampling the rows of plants that I suddenly recognized for herbs.  I knew him.  My muddled brain searched for a name.  All I came up with was tofu.  I knew that wasn’t the name, but I remembered I was supposed to be getting tofu.  Granny wanted tofu, but why would she want that?

“Pip! Where have you been?  Are you all right?  Holy Hannah we were so worried about you!” said Alastair Wong in one frantic sounding stream of words.  “There’s dirt all over your face,” he added sounding puzzled.

HandkerchiefsMy answer was another sneeze.  Alastair immediately reached into his breast pocket, but seemed to find it empty.  I realized he meant to offer me a handkerchief.  Oh yes, there would be a hanky in my pocket.  As I removed the embroidered soft cotton cloth something else came out of my pocket and fluttered to the ground.  I hardly noticed it, but Alastair stooped to retrieve it.

Alastair inspected the small rectangular piece of paper.  His expression shifted from confusion to fear as he looked at it.

“What is it?” I asked.

I didn’t remember having kind of paper or note with me.  I could tell it was too stiff to be a shopping list.  In Alastair’s hand it looked more like a calling card.  Wordlessly Alastair handed it to me.  It wasn’t a business card.  It was a playing card — the king of clubs!

King of Clubs card

***

Recipe

Roasted Rutabaga

Roasted Rutabaga

Recipe credit:  Food Network Magazine. Photo credit:  Antonis Achilleos

Total Time:  50 min

Prep:  10 min

Cook:  40 min

Method

Toss 1 large peeled and cubed rutabaga with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees F until golden and soft, 40 minutes. Toss with 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and chopped parsley.

Tune in again next time for Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa as the mystery deepens!