NOTHING IS EASY

Here I am. It’s tough to get going some days. The best tactic is not to sit too long. Get up and get going. It’s just what I did this morning. I got up and started stitching though I was still in my pjs. Absorbed in my task and listening to Waylon Jennings and the Platters took my mind off my physical aches and pains. ‘Resting’ offers no relief. I’ve learned to be useful at a slower pace. At the end of it, I have made something beautiful.

Creating is not always an enjoyable process. It involves taking things apart if I mess up. The hair was not right. The stitches too tight, pulling and puckering his head. His nose was too big and too long. It was in my face. Undoing his hair was murder. There were a lot of tight stitches. The nose was much easier. I can reconstruct it all again. It’s all in a day’s work. It’s teaching me about patience and not settling for good enough.

Writing this post is not easy. I’m constructing one painful sentence and paragraph at a time. Walking Sheba was another difficult thing. This grey weather is not conducive to have a passion for anything. But when I walk out the door, I was surprised to find it was not all that cold. I was surprised to see the broccoli in the garden is still green. I was surprised to find I do feel more expansive out of doors. Still…it was a trial to step along with Sheba.

Fatigue made me anxious to get the walk over and done with. But guilt kept me going the distance. I started to feel better as I walked. My aches eased and I straightened my spine. I looked over fences to see what’s on the other side. It was ok. We’re home again. I did a little more stitching and painted a little. Supper’s ate and my glass of wine is done. I’m done, too.

 

JAMMING IT

IMG_3426There’s something so soothing and meditative about squishing grapes that I never thought possible! That’s the surprise I discovered when I sat down with my two pounds of Concord grapes. Two pounds is not alot but too much to eat.  Since we made the effort to grow them, it’s hard to waste them. I am not fond of making jelly.  It seems like SO much work.  My head gets boggled and quirky just thinking about it. Jamming is no breeze either, but seems like the less evil of the two.

I resigned myself to a bunch of work.  But I tried to make it as easy and pleasant as possible.  I took the lot into my sun room and sat down with them.  There’s no easy way of skinning them except squishing them one by one.  I did not rush.  I tried to watch/listen to video on YouTube but found it not enjoyable.  I gave that up for just sitting in the sunlight, squishing one purple grape after another, watching them plop into the pot on my lap.  In a little while I was overcome with peace and contentment.  My body said, Boy, I feel good! WOWZIE!

It took a couple of hours to jam two pounds of grapes from squishing to jarring.  The result was two little jars of purple jam.  No boiling bath was necessary.  They will be eaten soon enough or into the freezer they go.  The PROCESS was slow and enjoyable but not difficult.  The only difficult part was STARTING.

The recipe I followed, more or less:

4 lbs Concord, wild or other seeded purple grapes

1/2 cup water

1 cup raw sugar (organic turbinado)

pinch sea salt

Rinse grapes, stem them, then rinse again (especially if yours are wild or homegrown and covered in sandy Downeast soil, spider webs and slugs like mine).  Peel grapes by pinching each one (at the end opposite to the stem end is easiest) and allowing the grape innards to plop out into a medium (4-quart) stockpot or Dutch oven (this is far easier than it sounds; 3 lbs of grapes took me a leisurely 15 minutes to peel). Keep the grape skins in a separate bowl.

Bring the grape innards and any juice to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer until grapes begin to disintegrate, releasing seeds, about 10 minutes. Pour into the bowl of a food mill. Rinse the stockpot, add grape skins and 1/2 cup water, and bring water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer grape skins, partially covered, until soft and breaking down, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pass grape innards through the food mill; discard grape seeds.  Add grape pulp, sugar and salt to the grape skins. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then continue to cook at a brisk boil (lowering heat if jam begins to stick) until the gel stage (mine never reached 220 degrees F; I stopped it at 216 degrees when it formed a wrinkly set on a frozen plate).

Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Pass a wooden utensil along the sides of the jars to remove any bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

SUNDAY SAILING

IMG_6798The weather had forecast some rain in the afternoon yesterday.  We headed out to Elbow early in the morning anyways.  We had waited so long for the first sail of the year.  It was time to get out of Dodge, away from the traffic,  noise and speed of life.

You can only speed on a sailboat if there is a wind, but that is only after you have the boat assembled and on the water.  That is no small feat – for the novice and on the first sail of the year.

IMG_6807Two hours later, we were finally in the water.  By then the clouds had rolled in.  What to do?  We headed off in the direction of least clouds.  It was rather a pleasant sail.   The rain was gentle and we had our rain gear on.  We dove into our sandwiches for we were starving by then.  Sheba looked on eagerly mouth watering, from her place on the trampoline.  She got a bite of my sandwich when I wasn’t looking.  I appeased her with her favourite rawhide chew.  Satisfied, she settled down and looked off to sea towards the horizon.

The rain continued.  We saw the clouds lifting in the distance and hoped that clear skies would reach us soon.  In the meantime I was enjoying the ambiance of skimming across the waters.  I did wished mightily that we had hot chocolate though.  It would have been perfect then.

IMG_6806We got a little wet and after awhile a little cold.  The captain decided we better head back for shore to warm up.  The winds had died and we motored the last stretch -to the dock where the mosquitoes greeted us with glee.

IMG_6813And wouldn’t you know it, the sun came out in blazing in all its glory by the time we had a beer.  I sat in the truck, out of mosquito range and finished reading Anne Lamott’s Rosie.  By then I was feeling no pain, drowsy with sun and beer.  I cared not what the men and Sheba did. I was mellow.

IMG_6800It takes an hour to pack up the boat to head home.  Nothing is instant about sailing.  What went up, must come down.  Knots tied has to be untied.  It was a process, much like living.  A click and an ENTER work only in cyberspace but not on earth.   I know that but sometimes I forget as I tap and tap, click and press ENTER.  Sailing brings me back to earth.

WINE MAKING SUNDAY

It is another Sunday, a week home from wine country.  Today we can only dream of warmer temperatures and snow less grounds.  It is windy and the sun has already left.

But this morning we made wine, one batch white,  from B. C., the other one red.  It was a soothing process, going through all the steps of scrubbing the tubs, sterilizing, rinsing, stirring, adding, more stirring, and sprinkling.  Well to be honest, I was mostly an observant and the cleanup crew.  But none the less, I enjoyed the process, the aromas and the rewards.

I have forgotten the pleasures of creating…the sense and feel of making something.  My brain has been rewired for instant success, instant pleasure, instant everything by our electronic age.  Perhaps I have been fooled that everything can be done stat by aiming the mouse and pressing enter.  I have been fooled that life is getting everything done now, so that I will have TIME.  I have been obsessed about time, having more of it, having huge chunk of it, hoarding it… till I will have enough.  That never happens, of course.  I am like a rat in a maze.

So that is my Oprah’s light bulb moment from making wine this morning…that everything in life is a process.  You cannot have everything all at once.  It’s in the steps that give us a sense of accomplishment and meaning.  It’s really not all that earth shattering, but sometimes I am a little dim.  I could not see it any sooner.  I see it now.  And as I am sipping my cup of coffee, I am blinking at the wonder of it all.