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The Village Idiot

The price of idiocy (about $9.00)

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(3/2018) As is not unexpected, Farch (February/March) finds me wallowing in indecisiveness as the longest month of the year flips back and forth between winter and spring, with occasional sideways runs at outright summer! And that was just February! The gods alone know what March is going to do to me! At least I hope they know. I like to believe some intelligence in the universe has a clue as to what is going on here. Homo sapiens don't seem to know. Which reminds me- I think I've evolved, or de-evolved into a new subspecies: Homo hibernatum. (Where's my blankie? I feel a nap fast approaching!)

Most people, at least in the USA, now walk around with a device in their hands that can potentially access nearly all the knowledge accumulated by Homo sapiens. Sadly, they tend to use the device to watch cat videos and start arguments with strangers on Internet social media sites. So someone on a social media site claims. I'd have argued the point, but I was busy watching a cat video- via my desktop computer. None of those cyborg phones for me!

Of late, my online social media interest has been bread building. I know that's about as predictable as a politician lying to get elected, but definitely more interesting, and potentially useful and/or tasty. (I suspect even politicians can be made tasty with a good seasoning rub and proper cooking method, but that's another column.) Having either read, or at least thumbed through most of the bread building books the county and state library systems have, and not being particularly impressed with the more common bread building websites I've looked at, I joined a couple bread groups on Facebook. I unjoined them almost as quickly. All but one. I stuck with that group because they included pizza building!

Between naps, which range from 20 minutes to several hours most days, I've taken to building pizzas inspired by that Facebook group. Most group members are sourdough enthusiasts so I've had to reactivate my starter, which proved much easier than I'd been led to believe. Turns out that most of what I've read about sourdough was hype and bull stuff. But I guess building a starter the way I did doesn't fill a book worth selling for $25.95.

My first pizza breakthrough was actually a stromboli of the kind Mr. Stavros made when he still owned the restaurant bearing his name today. Stavros' stromboli was actually a calzone, but I didn't know that when I was gobbling his delicious creations down most Friday afternoons. My version was made with a sourdough that I'd added 25% Caputo "00" flour to. (I got that clue from the master pizzaiolo at Pizza Leone. Mr. Stavros guarded his recipe too carefully to give me such a hint.) The "00" flour allows the dough to stretch more easily than any previous pizza dough I'd built from recipes I'd gleaned outta variety of books that never mentioned "00" flour.

The veil lifted as I folded the the dough over the sauce, cheeses and meats. The clouds parted, and the angels sang "Swing low sweet chariot" as the DW and I took our first bites of a treat we've missed since Stavros sold the restaurant!

"This is it!" The DW announces. "No more pizzas. Just make these!"

Me, being me, I set about building pan pizzas, which she declared- "These are fantastic! Make pizza this way from now on!"

So I requested "The Pizza Bible: The World's Favorite Pizza Styles, from Neapolitan, Deep-Dish, Wood-Fired, Sicilian, Calzones and Focaccia to New York, New Haven, Detroit, and more" from the library. So it goes.

Somewhen, between naps and pizzas, I manage to order the garden seeds I plan to trial this coming warm season. With the seeds safely in the seed fridge I wander down the hill to the Emmitsburg Tattoo Company and irritate the tattooers until they tell me, "Get the heck out Jack!" (Actually, the language is a wee bit stronger than that. It is a tattoo shop after all.)

Being one to catch such a subtle hint, I wander further along Main Street to Cantori's shop where I toddle around the room occasionally skimming a book or five, and if I have any paper money trying to escape my wallet I buy a couple of books I know will make my head hurt when I finally try to read them. If Cantori isn't overly busy I sit and we talk about much of everything- gardens to guitars, magic to musicians, actors to anarchy, and then he tells me to get out. So it goes.

Somewhere between Cantori's and the tattoo shop, gardening became the focus of much of the conversations, at least as I recall them. Tattoo Don, Pillar of the Community suggested I talk to the town government about building a community garden on the farm the town owns between Scott and Annandale Roads. While I'm not keen on dealing with government of any kind, the idea dug into the deteriorating brain matter well enough that I searched for a satellite map of the property to see what it looks like these days. (Google Map: 39.698045, -77.346000 ) I haven't been on that farm since the late 1970s/early '80s so I was surprised to see (based on the photo) that there may be ground near the buildings suitable for decent sized gardens. There are open fields that could be planted in crops as well, but chasing the idea any farther leads to madness. I've been down that "let's build a community garden" path! I know how it goes.

Still, Tattoo Don urges me to talk to Mayor Don (Is there a coincidence here? A budding cabal of Dons?), and Cantori strategically places an "I Ching" (Book of Changes) kit where I can't help but see it each time I wander through his shop. "I Ching" flows from the Tao Te Ching, which can mean: "The Book of the Way and its Virtue". I feel the universe pushing me, or a tattooer is. I'm not sure about the magician, but the Pagans convinced me there are no coincidences.

I buy the "I Ching" for $9.00. So it goes.

I'm currently reading, or skimming three cookbooks, "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a book on an alternative history of mankind, a sniper novel, several lasagna gardening books, and one on language and the evolution of the human mind. I bought the "I Ching" because it has been used for thousands of years to focus the mind, to bring clarity of thought, and provide insights as to where one is, was, and could be if one had the mental capacity and ability to understand the freaking introduction. Which I seem unable to grasp- possibly because I keep falling into naps as I try to read it? Though I'm thinking I'm more worried it's going to point me toward talking to the mayor about a garden. So it goes, though I struggle to sleep through the worst of it.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.