Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm from the 1800s

Last week we spent 23 hours without landline phone or DSL Internet connectivity, which felt a little bit like shrinking down to a very small size and living in the pocket of a pair of dress slacks hanging in the back of a closet since 1998.

So I'm late in telling you that the monarch project is in full-swing again. See those groovy little green jelly beans? After they hang out for about a dozen days, this is what you get:

I think this one looks like a Sheila, don't you?

I am now back at work, which brings its own unique kinds of trauma (have you ever had to share, on a daily basis, a public bathroom near a Family Resource Center?)

To cheer myself up, I put this kid's mug on my computer desktop. He's either saying "Cheese," pinching a loaf, or baring his teeth in a display of aggression I fail to recognize because at this point in my life, I have still only borrowed these small people from time to time and returned them to their parents when their diaper was full or tears were imminent.

In a related story, yesterday our four year-old neighbor decided to have a chat with me while I read a magazine in the back yard. Somewhat randomly in the middle of our conversation he said, "Do you have a son?"

Me: "No. I don't have a son."

Neighbor kid: "Where is he?"

Me: "Still in my ovaries?"

Just kidding about that last part. I was tempted, though.

My backyard enjoyed about two days of organization and visual appeal, and then a downpour flattened the hell out of everything. Because I am lazy, the purple coneflowers are now growing horizontally right over the lawn, their faces turned to the sun.

When I'm not bemoaning my lack of flower supports, I have been indulging my inner homesteader. Boy howdy, does she like to can! (Or prepare for the zombie apocalypse by maintaining a fully-stocked panic room ... whatever.)

Cannery Row

I don't mean to brag, but I made this jelly from elderberries we planted ourselves. Bareroot. Uphill both ways, in a blizzard. On one leg. And we wiped our asses with pages from the Sears catalog.

See these golden beauties? They're "Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries." I started them from seed and planted them for the first time this year. They taste like a clean, mild pineapple. Throw them in a kettle over low heat with some sugar, lemon zest and vanilla, and you get heaven in a jar:

I intended to give these to loved ones for the holidays, but I am feeling a sudden urge to hoard them. Syrup is so 1989; the only thing I want drizzled over my pancakes from now on is ground cherry compote. I found the recipe on another lovely blog (thank you, LyB!)

My brother took note of my fun with canning and recently sent me this message on Facebook:

"I hope the fruit-canning is going well. When you're done with that, I have a wagon wheel that needs repairing and a musket that needs cleaning. I'd do it, but Carly's sick, so I have to bleed the illness out of her."

In other news, wish me luck in haggling with my insurance company AND hospital, still hashing out payment from my trip to the emergency room LAST GODDAMN FEBRUARY. This is the second time one of these funster players have billed me for something that was supposed to have been paid for (or not billed for at all), in a game I like to call, "Let's send these suckers a big, cryptically coded, confusing bill for duplicate service or something that should already be paid for and see if they'll pay it!"

Can we have sane healthcare system reform now? Please?

I suppose I'll have to soothe myself by canning more habanero gold jelly, salsa, and pasta sauce this weekend. Bonus: I get to use my new food mill, which I purchased for $50 a month ago and recently found for $35. File under "Ain't that a bitch."


  1. I really want to learn how to can and make jellies and all of that. Because the three jars of cherry jam I picked up in Door County at the end of July are already almost gone.

    Love the FB comment. Too funny.

  2. I need to learn to can/jar all the tomatoes and blackberries we get.

    Sorry about the insurance fiasco.

  3. Insurance sucks. And is there a link to the $35 food mill? That sounds like a really good price.

    Am v. impressed by your canning prowess.

  4. holy crap dude, you went all Little-House-on-the-Prairie-style.

    i'm impressed.

  5. sometimes i am totally jealous of your life. except the part of the bathroom near family resources. ugh.

    that canning is looking awesome.

  6. thanks for the link to And then I Do the Dishes. Oh that looks so good.

  7. Anonymous9:11 PM

    And you even have those cute becky-homecky labels on your jars! You're a REAL homesteader, aren't you?
    Wish you'd have made the ovary comment--I thought it was darn funny. Although men always excuse themselves once we bring up our anatomy in casual conversation.

  8. Anonymous4:35 AM

    Every now and then I stumble across something on the internet that makes me pause long enough to think "hey this is kinda of cool". I was doing a Redd Foxx search when your blog came up because of the Redd Foxx blurb on your blog. After trudging through the usual muck on the interweb I was kinda shocked this morning to see such a nicely laid out blog with great little witticism all over it. It really made my morning. Rock on. (Baltimore visitor)

  9. Anonymous8:59 AM

    I am very impressed by your canning items. It makes me think, "Hey, how come I don't do that?". Then I remember I have children, and they would totally destroy the peaceful, fun of making homemade items and the time it takes to complete them. Time to pop out a few babies, Jess. Nobody should have this much free time on their hands to make the rest of us look bad.

  10. Clearly you never learned that if you're not going to bring enough for all of us, you shouldn't bring any. Not fair. I want that jam stuff. I've never seen anything like it, and I want it. Grrr.

    That butterfly project is amazing. We got a few monarch caterpillars a few years ago, and I watched one of them come out of its little cocoon one day. It was amazing.

    Good luck with the insurance company. I had a lot of that crap when my mom was sick. It was even worse after she died, because they didn't know she had died (some of the work was MONTHS beforehand), so I would call to straighten it out, and I'd start crying, and it was just awkward and horrid for everyone involved. Sigh.

  11. Sorry Jess, but didn't anyone tell you that ground cherries were mildly toxic? If you eat enough of them (say from being made into a jam) you will slowly go insane.

    Perhaps it's not too late to send them to me for proper disposal.

    Just trying to help...