Category Archives: Life reflections

The Sorcerer’s Black Beans

We are most of us familiar with the story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a 1700s poem by Goethe used in the film Fantasia. For those unaware, the apprentice is set to fill a cistern with water, and he enchants a broom to carry the water so he doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting.

But he isn’t adept enough to stop the broom once the tank is full. Hacking the broom in half to make it stop makes it turn instead into two brooms and double the rate of water flooding the house. You can see where this goes: by the time the master arrives home and sends the brooms and the water back to their proper places, the apprentice is near drowned, terrified, and much more humble about his magic abilities and the need for manual labor.

As part of ongoing work with commodity food nutrition and medical education–think doctors telling their patients to eat better and patients laughing because they can’t afford or access fresh produce–my non-profit has access to gleaned leftovers from area farms. We take the veggies and fruits to an apartment complex where occupants pay 1/3 of their income, whatever that is, for their apartments.

This week, as part of a medical education exercise, we sent two such boxes home with medical students who help staff the project and I took one. The idea is to see how long the box lasts (literally in terms of freshness and using up the stuff) and how expensive it is to pair the veggies with cheap meats or other proteins and starches, balancing meal costs and calories so you’re not hungry later with nutritional content.

All good, right? So smart professor here decides she is going to use only the foods that we have given away at the project in the past, and can the veggies as part of meals in a jar, and reckon up the costs per jar.

One of the foods we cannot pay people to take at the project is black beans. They are everywhere, in one pound bags. People are so sick of these, given them so often, that we literally use the beans as counters on bingo games, beads to glue on art projects, and other silly non-eating activities.

So I took six pounds of rejected beans, all the peppers and squash and tomatoes from the box, and started canning. I figured I had two canner loads.

That was true for the first day. Day two, I was still using soaked beans–which double in size when you overnight them in water–and had run out of tomatoes. I opened a commodity can and kept going. The huge bowl of black beans in the sink grew as I bottled them up and put them in the canner. Four loads later, the bowl looked fuller. Out of commodity vegetables, I started canning the beans in onion gravy, still a cheap way to use up food but make it tasty for later adding to chilis, tacos, and other staples.

The beans kept coming. Day three I had canned six full loads (think seven quart or 12 pint jars per) and there were still beans in my sink.

I gave up and threw the remainder to our chickens. They didn’t like them any more than the people in the housing project do. Next spring, where I threw the last handful in a desperate attempt to regain control of my kitchen, I expect a large beanstalk to spring up and head for the sky.


Filed under home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Uncategorized

Tailored for Mature Women

Tailored for mature women?

What, you using fishing line in the basting to see if you can hook us? Are you even now looking for the bones of ancestors to reinforce the stays you’re hoping to put back in our blouses? Stay was never a smart command anyway, although it might make a reasonable request from a partner more into respect than careful constructions of acceptable appearances.

Tailored for mature women?

Honey, you think a tuck and dart could possibly contain us? We will bust your seams, strip your stitches and move on. They were never sewn with us in mind, those bits of disconnected thread, and it shows. We are too much, too many, too big for you to handle. Love handles? You should be so lucky.

Tailored for mature women. Ha. Women over 50 know what’s worth worrying about, and what’s worth fighting for. Your cute little swaying tops with floral arrays charmingly arranged to accentuate our bosoms and keep eyes off our hips are so many fire extinguishers sent to a flood. You honestly think most men have spent our careers looking anywhere besides our breasts? We’ve had 30 years of professional experience that says otherwise; just where are these marketing surveys about our flesh being conducted, boys?

Send us bespoke blazers in faux-equity-repelling prints. Fashion us a transparent blouse that makes others see how we feel. Trousers where the rubbing fabric sounds warnings. How about shoes that do the dancing for us, backwards, high heels optional. If we want to wear them we will, and if we don’t, we won’t.

That’s just one of many ways we expect to decide what happens to our own bodies, all you tailors out there making your stitches smaller and more binding.

Tailored for mature women, my ass.

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Filed under Life reflections, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch