Saturday, September 15, 2007

Peaches cooking on the stove...

Got peaches cooking on the stove, the beagle's asleep on some towels by my feet, a depressing western movie on the TV, and a terrific headache. About this time of year there is a particular weed, whose name and description I don't know, but whose smell I am quite familiar with, which gives me terrible congestion. Even with Claritin D, my head is so stuffed up I can barely stand it.

We had a nice surprise this weekend. Alex came home yesterday afternoon and stayed overnight. He headed back to Golden a couple of hours ago, but we got to take him out for a birthday lunch, a birthday movie and got him a "leather" jacket to wear riding his motorcycle. It was real pleasant. He got my chainsaw working, though it still doesn't work well. Now I can cut down the branches that need to go.

Still nauseous after a week and a half. Terrific. Can't quite figure out what that is all about. I assume it is something emotional, a response to stress or something. So I am adding some extra excersize to my schedule. I am assuming that even walking an extra block or two should do it. It can't hurt.

Tomorrow I have to do my Logic assignment. Hopefully I can find my notes, but even if I don't if shouldn't take too much time to find more flaws in logic during news-type television programs.

Well, I've been thinking about a few things lately. One, I have been wondering why we do such incredibly stupid things to mess up our lives. Observation leads me to believe that some people allow themselves to be ruled by their momentary desires and not think long-term. Also we have a bizarre expectation that we should not be unhappy--ever. How incredibly silly and vapid. How ignorant of the ways of the world both historically and in most of the world right now. We would be happier in general if we accepted suffering and disappointment as normal and not the extraordinary. Accepting that my life will have bumps and bruises and expecting that means that I am not so easily thrown by them. Accepting that my husband isn't perfect and cannot "make me happy" paradoxically makes me happier. It is the strange expectation that my husband will do all the little and big things that make me feel loved, in exactly the right way and in the right time and that he will never take his moods or problems out on me that make a person miserable. If I trust that a flawed person that loves me might say an unkind thoughtless thing on occasion or may not understand the things that drive me nuts makes it easier to love that person and deal with the inevitable disappointments.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Question

How do you determine whether you will travel to a distant wedding or funeral?

Just yesterday a friend of ours died out in California. We consider him a friend, and I know Steve really loved him, though it would be fair to say that his son Craig and Craig's family are our really close friends.

I am torn. I want to be there to be of whatever comfort I can be and to be there for the service. They are like family to me and it seems like you should be there for family. On the other hand, I have a review on Monday, participation grade in my other class, and a test on Wednesday. I have a paper to turn in on Monday and the only way to get credit for it is to discuss it in class.

I am also scheduled to sing on Sunday. I don't have a problem with that, as they would be quite understanding, but the school stuff is more difficult.

We were going to have Steve go, but the only flights he can get back have him coming in after 9pm and he would have to leave at 2am for a 5 hour drive to Grand Junction to begin his next project. He is too new with this company to have much flexibility with them. Were it not for the funeral, he would likely drive to GJ on Sunday afternoon to be there to begin the project on Monday morning.

In some circumstances we would say that it matters not. If it were Craig or his immediate family, we would be there no matter what. It's difficult because we really are like family.

I was unable to go to either of my in-law's funerals because of financial considerations, and that certainly is an issue to consider now as well.

I had determined that I would not be able to go, but that if it were at all possible Steve should, but by the time he gets home from the airport, he would likely only have 3 hours sleep before making a 5 hour drive and working a full day. Not a good plan.

I know our friends understand, but it tears me up not to be there for people who have always been there for us. To have your friends hurting and be unable to be with them is sooo hard.

How do you decide? Maybe you don't agonize over these decisions, but I really believe that it is important to show up for the funerals. Weddings are optional (though they're important too) but funerals are manditory. People don't need you as much when they are celebrating, but they do need to know you care when they are hurting.

It seems like so many people will do whatever they can to avoid funerals, but Proverbs says, "Better to go to a house of mourning than a house of mirth because a wise man will take it to heart." I'm not sure that is an exact quote or if it is a Kim paraphrase, but the gist of it is correct.

Tell me your thoughts.

To Secure or Not

Just a question: all things being equal, if no one could possibly access your data and your speed weren't noticeably affected, would you secure (by password or WEP key) your wireless internet or would you leave it open for any neighbor near enough to use?

I guess the argument is you pay for it, why should someone use it for free? However, if it did not affect you in any way, it doesn't cost you anything, what would they really be taking?

I have always secured my connection (not CIA secure, just ordinary security) because of some vague notion of protecting my computers from the most overt amateur hacking, but if there were a way to secure my computers while leaving the connection open, would I?

I'm not going to give you my answer, but if I get enough response, I will go ahead and post my answer then.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Gelatina Prugne e Port

Here's a tutorial on making plum jelly.

Take a mess of plums. Here I have a medium size box about 3/4 full of plums. These are a bit under-ripe, which works best for jam- and jelly-type concoctions as it has more natural pectin and firmer fruit.

Wash fruit and remove leaves, stems and cut out damaged areas.

Plums are seeded and quartered. Some don't suggest this, but experience says you get the juice more easily if you do this. Add water not to cover, but 'til you see it at least to the bottom of the top layer of fruit. Cover and cook on medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. You want to cook it until it is soft and mushy.
I then usually mash it a bit with a potato masher before going on to the next step: straining.

I was unable to find my jelly bag and holder, so this is my improvisation. I took a clean canvas bag and shortened it. Since the holder was missing, I looked around for a substitute and decided this three tier plate holder might work. In the future I will make two changes. I will redo the bag so that it is a bit shorter and so that it comes to a point in the center rather than leaving it in a rectangular shape. Additionally, I will either find a tall three wick candle holder (with the glass piece removed) or hang it from a heavy duty ceiling hook over a bowl.

As you can see, I altered the way I hung the bag to raise it higher above the pan and so that one corner hung lower enabling it to have a good drip point.

Measure the juice and figure 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice. Pour the juice into a heavy bottom pot and cook over medium to medium high heat.

I am adding a splash or two of port for flavor.
In the background you may notice a small pot sterilizing the lids. What I forgot to mention is that the jars must be clean and sterilized. The heat of the dishwasher rinse and heated dry cycle work for this. (Yours should have a heated water and heated dry cycle.)
Add the juice of one small lemon or
1/2 large lemon to each quart or so of juice. You will probably need to add pectin, about a box per quart or so of juice. Bring the juice to a full rolling boil. Skim off foam. Then add the sugar all at once. Stir til all sugar is dissolved. Add a teaspoon or so of butter if you want to keep the foaming down. Bring to a rolling boil again and boil without stirring for at least five minutes. Checking sheeting (how the juice runs off the side of a spoon) or using a candy thermometer to bring the juice to about 220 degrees.

Fill prepared jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Seal and allow jars to cool. After nearly cool, turn lids an extra 1/4 turn. If re-using jars like babyfood jars, the lids will not seal properly, so you must use melted parafin or keep jelly in refrigerator.

(Toss the contents of the jelly bag into your compost pile and clean and boil your bag for future use.)

The finished product: YUMMY!