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Tassajara Stories
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Niels Holm memorial page

11-28-14 - Niels and DC Stealing Food. Mentioned in yesterday's Tassajara Stories post that Niels Holm and I were principle culprits as far as food pilfering at Tassajara went, leading to Tatsugami having a lock put on the door. Here's a glimpse at us in the act. This took place in 68 or 69 and I think it was during a practice period because I can still see the inside of the kitchen on the night in question and there was a lot more stuff there during the guest seasons. But I'm not positive and it doesn't matter.

Niels and I would sit up sometimes talking till late, the only ones awake in the whole place. We'd only do that on a night before a day off when we'd get up an hour later - like at 5 in the morning instead of four. That happed on days with a four or a nine in them - four and nine days. In practice period that meant there'd be just one zazen, a briefer service, oryoki breakfast in the zendo, and then the whole day free till evening service. So if we were tired we could nap. Sometimes Niels and I would walk down to the bathes. There wasn't a bath watch outside of guest season and even then only some years. And we'd get hungry and go to the kitchen on some of these dark, cold occasions. We'd get inside and leave a flashlight on or go to the altar to get some matches, light a kerosene lamp and keep it low so as to not put a telltale bright glow in the window. Then we'd see what we could find. Sometimes we'd cook eggs and make toast with butter and jam and sit down and eat at the kitchen table. This was the small original kitchen with one big table in the center of the room. Afterwards we'd wash our dishes, put everything up, and leave without a trace. We didn't take food that would make the kitchen noticeably short of anything or screw up a planned meal. On the night in mind there was big pot on the Wolf stove top waiting to be heated early the next morning. Niels removed the lid. "It's gruel. Let's just eat the gruel," Niels said, and he stuck his hand in it and brought some to his mouth. I objected, told him that was gross, and got a bowl and spoon. He was into it though, having fun acting like a starving madman making grunting noises. I walked over to the oven but before I could dish up, Niels yelled out in surprise. "God damn! God damn you fucking crazy!" I turned to see what it was. In the dark corner, sitting full lotus on the grill top was Ed Brown staring at us with a large meat cleaver in his lap. Niels yelled at him some more with his customary "God damns" and "fucks.". Ed just sat there. And he continued to sit there quietly as Niels tried to engage him and I quickly re-covered the pot, put my bowl and spoon back in place, and grabbed Niels for our mind-blown and embarrassed retreat.