Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pick Up a Flat Rock and Skip It Across Green River

Pick up the rock, encircling it with your thumb and finger, holding it flat side parallel to the water. Stand sideways to the water. Squat slightly, pitching the rock across the surface of the water. Count the skips....

I was going through some vacation photos and realized how often my family ends up skipping rocks when we're on road trips. Maybe it's the still water that's so different from our crashing waves. The one above was taken at the base of Cape Enrage lighthouse in New Brunswick (eastern Canada). We climbed around the slate shoreline for quite a while while Mark and Glo skipped stones on the Bay of Fundy. Do kids learn how to skip rocks anymore? I was talking to co-workers the other day after more than a week of our e-mails being down...."What did people even DO without the internet?" Did you know you can play solitaire with CARDS? No way! What about 'football'...paper folded into a thick triangle and snapped through the finger "goal posts" of the opposing player? This red soil is on Prince Edward Island, northern province on the eastern side of Canada...land of Anne of Green Gables. Not many shells for mom but plenty of flat rocks for skipping.

What other skills are kids missing out on while watching TV and playing video games? Climbing trees? Playing hopscotch? We have to fix this. If we remember how, that is.

I Want to Break Free

Like prisoners, caught in a cell, free to go but for the lack of a key.Trapped inside my canner are eight pints of albacore. The key? A rubber gasket.

The old floppy gasket was leaking at the end of last season and I finally found one at Shafers sometime this past spring and, upon comparing it to the old one, found it to be correct and tossed the old one. The first tuna of the season, purchased from the Captain of the F/V Sunlight, was sweet, half of which disappeared at Sunday dinner leaving the remainder to be savored at a later date. The jars of albacore were placed in the canner, the gasket tucked into the lid. The lid would NOT close. No matter how I tried, no way, no how. I warmed it. I oiled it….methods the generally work no matter WHAT you’re working on but the lid would not go on the canner. Finally, Mark got involved and HE pushed. He pulled. Finally, face red and veins popping, he managed to twist the lid of the canner closed. "We may not get it back open but…there it is." Funny guy!

Last night, I played the Tuna Canner symphony, the infernal rattling of the canner, with a 10# weight for 110 minutes which is an interminably long time to endure the clatter of metal-on-metal. This morning, the canner was cooled down and I attempted to open it to extract the jars. Not budging. I called Mark; he too was unable to move it. We worked together with me holding the lid and him twisting the bottom. Then I held the pot and he twisted the lid. His arms hurt. My LEGS hurt. I am not butch enough for this kind of business. He brought in clamps to try to gently, but forcefully turn the lid. We put the pot back on the stove just to warm it gently. and tried again. Crap!

No help at ALL from Mirro who agreed that this was likely a faulty gasket, too thick for the application. Tricia in Customer (non-)Service suggested I toss this one and buy a new one. No suggestion on how to accomplish this SINCE IT WAS STUCK IN THE FREAKING POT! No compensation due me since “the vendors [in Brazil] are responsible, Ma’am, not Mirro.” Grrr.

The canner is still sitting on my counter. Eight pints of tuna are encapsulated inside, presumably intact. Any thoughts?

UPDATE: Another half hour of struggling with clamps and pieces of kindling for wedges, the tuna is free! THAT seriously took the fun out of canning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Can Dig It, You Can Dig It

Unlike the lady of the home (above), my decision did not take much pondering. For the first time, I decided to take gardening blog, Gardening Gone Wild, up on their monthly photo contest. This month's theme, "On The Road Again" asks us for photos of gardens we found on our travels "on unfamiliar ground with an open mind and open eyes". While I'm sure photos will be submitted with fabulous formal gardens in exotic locales, my mind went immediately to the simply, rather crude kitchen gardens I saw at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts.As we wandered the Plantation, amidst the role-players in period dress, deep in character of the time, we took a look inside the way the settlers lived. Without benefit of Martha Stewart or Sunset Magazine, their gardens were not fancy nor decorated, but functional. No fancy construction. No fancy tools. The dirt clods among the corn plants were worked with simple hand-tools. The raised beds of greens were built from scraps and pieces of wood leftover from building the fences that kept the goats from the garden as were the trellises and supports holding up the beans. So simple, yet so uncluttered and pretty.