Canning While Upset

Sorry we’ve neglected the blog this week. In honor of our 24th anniversary, Jack and I did the most loving celebrational activity ever – took separate vacations. Jack went off to spend eight days visiting four friends, while I stayed home to do whatever I wanted. I still had a few day job meetings in play, so it was a mixed holiday, but still offered time for self-discovery.

Canning doesn’t have to be hard

What I discovered: when I am upset, I don’t create. I clean, can, and garden, but don’t write or crochet. I do a lot of praying, but the praying tends to be while I am pounding stakes into the ground for plants, or slapping stuff into layers in jars and adjusting weights, even whipping a mop around the floor.

My friend Jen calls it “bearing witness,” this in-the-zone blitz of activity. Afghan women, COVID deniers, friends deceived, earthquakes and fires, mounting anger leading to terrible economic repercussions, on it goes. We’re in trouble not only because of events, but because of attitudes, and this will get worse before it gets better. So many voices, so little worth hearing. Is it possible to drown in noise the way one could in water? My mop moves across the floor and my mind holds still.

Anyway, if not exactly creating, what have I been doing to soak up the grief and anger I feel at losing unvaccinated friends this month amidst all the chaos? Here’s a list of things I canned this week while Jack was away and the kitchen was mine to command. Two of these things are a lie. See if you can spot them.

Chicken breasts with garden vegetables

Steak with potatoes and green beans

Unicorn fetuses (2 per jar)

Individual strawberry rhubarb tarts

Beef stew

Eggs, raw

Spicy chicken tenders (5 per jar)

Individual pineapple upside down cakes


Burrito filling

Individual breakfast quiches

Body parts of the self-aggrandizing astroturfer who convinced my late friend not to get vaccinated

Homemade ketchup


It’s a kind of creativity, I guess, throwing yourself into work as prayer, prayer as work, and pitting one’s efforts against “you can’t can that” proclamations. (Yes, you can.) It runs deeper, but at the same time, it’s just canning. I’m a big fan of that poem by Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time, which no one ever hears because his estate is so locked down about who can quote him. It sums up my week of canned prayers:

Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For heaven and the future’s sakes.

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