Emotions and Mistrust

The current political climate in our country is disturbing and each incident seems to make it worse instead of improving the situation. I’m not just referring to right vs left, GOP vs Democrats, but anti-science vs science, masks vs non-masks, whether a protest is a protest or a riot and how many days of protesting is effective or becomes fuel for bad behavior not necessarily promulgated by the protesters, but then blamed on them.

I would like to believe that as an educated, free country, that sane discourse could be held to resolve differences, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. My brother sent me a video that was funny, yet disturbing as an interviewer asked questions and when the interviewee answered and then was challenged with factual information would basically say, “I don’t care, my mind is made up,” and they didn’t see the irony in that disparity.

People are untrusting. I was very disturbed by a news article about a young black man stopped while jogging as a possible suspect in a domestic assault. He was cuffed, held for over an hour, and forcefully put in the back of a police car. And though he wasn’t the perpetrator they were seeking, he was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. That situation is so wrong on so many levels. He was asked his name and DOB which he refused to give and by law he didn’t have to, but if he had, the situation may have ended very differently as they had the name of the man whom they were seeking. The mistrust of police and even each other has caused a lack of common sense.

When we were kids, our house was never locked except for when we went on vacation. You trusted your neighbors. Cars were not locked in parking lots, there was no need. Now you wouldn’t think of not locking your car or your house, you trust no one.

I go no where without identification on me. It is unlikely I would be stopped and challenged, but who knows in these times. What used to feel like a free country is feeling less free and are we tearing ourselves apart by our actions and divisions. In these times, I think more and more about my Dad. He was on a Peacekeeping task force. He would be so disturbed and distraught by our current times. Our grandchildren are not going to grow up in the same environment as the one I grew up in. We saw change happening and there were those that resisted, but it looked for years like it was change for the better and was being accepted, but now I question whether the resisting factions were just being silent and have become vocal and worse.

We are all the same on the inside, regardless of our color, gender, religion or lack of on the outside. Young children seem to recognize this until they are taught differently by their elders. Maybe we should be learning from them, not teaching them.

Safe Shopping

Except for two quick stops at the fabric store for mask fabric, I haven’t been in a big box store since March. After the spread seemed minimal in our region, I did begin going back to the grocer for the items I can’t get curbside at our local natural foods store, but that was mainly because the grocer had few curbside slots and I could never get one. Now the students are back in town and though there are signs on every building door, sandwich board signs on the sidewalks, and flashing electric message signs at both ends of “downtown” reminding students and year round residents to wear masks and practice social distancing, there are far too many who don’t. Most everyone in the grocer is wearing a mask, but often improperly or putting it on only to go through check out, or wearing a face shield without a mask, so we did a major non perishable run early in the week and will try to get curbside delivery slots in the future when we need to shop again, now that they have more of them.

The safer shopping sites are the local natural foods store and though I try to use their curbside delivery as much as possible, I have gone in the store a few times during slow hours. To help reduce the virus spread, you have to get an employee to fill any bulk item and herb/spice items you need, so they prefer pre-ordering, even if you elect to go in the store to pick up the items. I feel they are still a “safe” place. Right after the stay at home order was put in place, the Farmer’s Market closed for a while, but with some of the phases lifted, they are open and trying to control the volume in the market at one time. They have put crowd barrier fencing around the market and have someone who monitors the exits and entrance to keep the number of people inside at or below 50 customers plus the vendors. It is an outdoor market. There are chalk arrows drawn to try to direct traffic and the first hour is for pick up of pre-orders only. A couple of the vendors that I shop don’t have pre-order option that I have found and sometimes I’m not sure what I want until I see what is available on their signboard or in their bins to make my decision. As a result, I can’t use the early hour and try to get there just as it ends. I have suggested a senior citizen’s hour, or to let those of us who are over 70 to shop during the pre-order pick up hour, because if you pre-order, your items are separated and held aside for you so it doesn’t really matter when you go. This morning, in spite of it raining from Laura passing through, there was already a line of about a dozen people waiting to enter when we got there. I stood in the light rain in my raincoat and waited my turn. Once inside, there were too many people not heeding the arrows and walking between stands or around them, going out the entrance, and just standing in the walk through aisles, not walking on through. It no longer felt safe to me. I don’t want to lose that option, but I may have to either let it go or use only the pre-order and not shop the vendors that don’t do it.

As we were driving back out of town, there were huge groups of students, standing close together, some without masks, waiting to get in some of the restaurants that serve breakfast. Hubby and I have a bet on how long it will be before the University has to go back to online classes only and the local public schools shut their doors and become virtual again. We wonder if the opening of schools across the state will throw us back to a Phase 1 lock down.

I did treat myself to a bouquet of fresh flowers along with my veggies, cheese, butter, and sausage.

Small batches

Because we are senior citizens and just the two of us in the household, the garden is planned to provide for us and not a lot of extra. But providing for us includes not just eating fresh food, but freezing some vegetables and canning others. Toward this goal, I discovered Marisa McClellan’s books on canning in small batches. Typically, most of the canning I do is done in pints and half pints and since we can’t eat a dozen each of several different jams and jellies, her recipes that make only a few half pint jars each are perfect and provide variety.

The exception is usually pasta and pizza sauces. Generally I save tomatoes until there are enough for a full pot, but it usually still canned in pints. Yes, I did use quarts a few days ago when I thawed and canned the pints that were in the freezer, but that is rare. I will use some quarts for tomatillos or jalapenos that go to Son 1, but rarely for our pantry shelves.

This morning, I noticed that the tomatoes that I was gathering on the kitchen window sill needed to be used and was faced with just freezing them, peeling and coring them and then freezing them, or just going ahead and making a batch of something that could be canned. It was just about 2 1/2 pounds of peeled, cored, and diced tomatoes, so not but about a quart’s worth. I decided that I would just make a small batch of pasta sauce. I had used the pint that was in the freezer, the one that evolves when I use less than a pint or make a batch that is more than the jars ready to can, but not enough for another jar. When the freezer jar is full, it is pretty layers of leftover sauce and then it becomes the next jar to use and is thawed in a saucepan with whatever additions I want to add for that meal.

The tomatoes cooked down to rough sauce consistency, made two pints with a new layer to add to last night’s leftover. The biggest stock pot with a silicone pad in the bottom instead of the deep steamer is tall enough for pint jars, though it only holds 4 or 5 safely. The big canner pot takes so long to heat up it isn’t worth using for only a couple pints or half pints. They were canned, just two lonely pints, but the satisfying pop that signaled they sealed means two more for the pantry shelf while I wait for more tomatoes to ripen.

I guess you can call me a southern woman, I was born and raised in Virginia. I am southern enough for some traditional foods like black eyed peas, collards, and grits, but not southern enough for corn bread without a little sugar in the batter, I detest overcooked vegetables with fat back in the pot, and I can’t tolerate sweet tea. One traditional food I do like, but rarely get is fried green tomatoes. This morning as I was picking a couple more tomatoes to add to the sauce that I was prepping, I plucked a medium sized green tomato and made myself 4 slices of fried green tomato with my breakfast.

I still have not received a shipping notice for the reuseable canning lids, but a friend offered me a box which I declined because of having just bought the flat of 4 ounce jars the same day, but then in today’s mail, an angel sent me 4 dozen brand new regular mouth canning lids. This angel is my SIL, she is an avid canner, far more canning than I do. There was the sweetest note saying she noted back in March that lids and jars were hard to come by, started a quest that found them on Amazon at a price gouging price, then landed a windfall. As she was finishing up about 300 jars of her canning, she shared some of hers with me. I now have enough to finish any canning I will get done this season. I know she must read this blog or she wouldn’t have known my need, so thank you, you are the sweetest.