Making good Mondays is like making coffee -

The week is before us - like the coffee pot - waiting to brew. Making it good is a matter of choice, luck, creativity, patience and acceptance of the outcome.

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Active elements on this page: Occasionally I will publish a new blog post, but I write mostly at other sites.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mason-the humble

photo credit: Ernest vonRosen,

Meet my friend Mason Jar.
Ever since I was small enough to watch my mother "put up" produce, I have admired Mason jars. She did not use this kind, but the kind that consisted of a jar-ring-cap combination. Our Mason Jar with a bail above has a little more glamour and staying power, perhaps. Since I did not grow up to be a canner, however, I am no expert on the advantages and disadvantages. Wikipedia has more info.
My mom was the canner, and her mother before her, from whom Mom learned. They took great pride in their work, which had a kind of beauty all its own. The marks of excellence, those I could infer, included:
  • Jars were filled to the top with just the right amounts of the product and the product liquid. That helped the longevity, somehow.
  • The product had "good color," the filled jars were just beautiful, as a matter of fact.
  • The produce had the right consistency. Fruit jam was not "runny." Jelly was gelled and transparent.Tomatoes had no skins included.
  • Produce was preserved in the right size jar for the family size. Waste was frowned upon.
  • Nobody got sick from eating what was "put up." The product would stay preserved and safe to eat until the next growing season.
Canning was dangerous. I knew something could explode. Because I was little, I wasn't sure how, but the women in my family knew just how to avoid catastrophy. I trusted that they knew, so relaxed and enjoyed those big days.
We knew it was a big day because Mom got a very early start, worked hard all day, and didn't cook much that day for our meals. There was not energy or time for much of anything but the canning project, which sometimes carried over for several days..
The produce had its own scheduling demands. I think it was a sin to let something grown in the garden or in the pen spoil and go to waste. And, of course, we always gave the extra to family, friends and neighbors (in that order of priority). "Extra" included both the fresh produce and the extra canned goods.
Canned goods became "extra" when there was too much of one product for its allotted shelf space in the cellar. Or it was still around at the end of the storage season. And canned items were often given as gifts. Mom carried them as hostess gifts, sent jars home with wisitors, or divided and traded with other canners. What survived the tendency to give away was stored in the cellar.
The cellar was one of my favorite places on our farm as a child. Carved in the earth beneath our house, it was dark and had a wonderful natural earthy aroma. It was cool in the hot summer and warm in the cold winter. Carrying a light was required because we did not have electricity for much of the time we lived there. We got electricity when I was around ten.
As the light fell on that cellar room I was always pleased to see that "our kitchen was not bare." We could have plenty to eat, even if we were "snowed in" by a blizzard. Jars and jars lined the shelves. The shelves were taller than I was and reached far past where my arms could stretch. The quarts were near the bottom, pints in the middle at eye level and the small jam and jelly jars were near the top.
A variety of beautiful colors filled the clear glass containers. Mom canned sweet corn, green beans, beets; peaches, applesauce, plums, and we had apple butter, plum jelly, strawberry jam and wild choke-cherry jelly, to mention just a few of the varieties. We ate well!
My topical post today at South by Southwest is about the parallels between weather and war.

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References on Spirituality -- Favorites from my old collection

  • "A Return To Love: Reflections On the Principles Of a Course In Miracles" by Marianne Williamson. Harper Collins, 1992
  • "A World Waiting To Be Born: Civility Rediscovered" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1993
  • "Chicken Soup For the Unsinkable Soul" by Canfield, Hansen and McNamara. Health Communications, 1999
  • "Compassion in Action: Setting Out On the Path of Service" by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush. Bell Tower Pub., 1992
  • "Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain. MIF Books, 1978
  • "Finding Values That Work: The Search For Fulfillment" by Brian O'Connell. Walker & Co., 1978
  • "Fire in the Soul" by Joan Borysenko. Warner Books, 1993
  • "Further Along the Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1993
  • "Guilt Is the Teacher, Love Is the Lesson" by Joan Borysenko. Warner Books, 1990
  • "Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways To Regain Peace and Nourish the Soul" by Elaine St. James. Hyperion, 1995
  • "Insearch:Psychology and Religion" by James Hillman. Spring Pub. 1994
  • "Man's Search For Himself" by Rollo May. Signet Books, 1953
  • "Mythologies" by William Butler Yeats. Macmillan, 1959
  • "Myths, Dreams and Religion" by Joseph Campbell. Spring Pub. 1988
  • "Passion for Life: Psychology and the Human Spirit" by John and Muriel James. Penguin Books, 1991
  • "Peace Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hahn. Bantam Books , 1991
  • "The Heroine's Journey" by Mureen Murdock. Random House, 1990
  • "The Hope For Healing Human Evil" by M. Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1983
  • "The House of Belonging" poems by David Whyte. Many Rivers Press, 2004
  • "The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth" by M.Scott Peck. Simon and Schuster, 1978
  • "The Soul's Code: In Search Of Character and Calling" by James Hillman. Random House, 1996
  • "The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought" by Jaroslav Pelikan. Little, Brown & Co., 1990
  • "Unconditional Life" by Deepak Chopra. Bantam Books, 1992
  • "Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 1994
  • "Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice" by Thich Nhat Hahn. Doubleday Dell Pub. Group, 1974

About Me

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A retired counselor, I am equal parts Techie and Artist. I am a Democrat who came to the Southwest to attend college. I married, had kids and have lived here all my adult life.