The Tuesday Swimming Incident

The Monday book will be back next week. Sit back and enjoy the story of Wendy’s latest adventure….

Regular readers know that I enjoy canning. Like, a lot. It’s my down time upper. So yesterday evening I was squeezing out seven quarts of mixed veg from our garden, which is putting out more daily. Having a good time, rocking out to a little oldies Abba, slicing and dicing and spicing.

I threw a load of laundry in at the end, because canning is a messy business. And because Tuesday morning is my swim aerobics class with my sister, and it had been ages since my suit had been washed, what the heck, in it goes.

(Yes, I know washing is bad for suits. Just like fungal growth is bad for suits. It needed a scrub.)

Next day, sis and I are paddling in the pool preparatory to class beginning, and I feel something in the lower area. Like elastic that’s poked through. Oh well, I think, I know better than to wash a suit with other clothes, ruined it. I reach in….

…. and pull out a string bean.

A dried up string bean that looked so much like elastic at first that I didn’t realize what was happening. Until I felt a little pebble-like thing caressing my cheek….

After removing the two beans and the other half of the string bean husk, I placed them as surreptitiously as possible on the drain at the side of the pool.

A few minutes into class, the lifeguard gets this incredulous look on his face, climbs down from his chair, and walks to The Place of the Bean.

My sister who drags me to the class each week shouts, “It’s a string bean and it’s hers!” She points at me. “She cans everything and it got in her suit!”

Fortunately the instructor had The Beegees blasting at top decibel so not many of the participants heard her. Only one woman turned and asked, “Do you can in your suit? Is that cooler? I can a lot and…”

I am not banned from the pool. That is the good news.

My sister will die at the time and place of my choosing, and they will find her with a green bean shoved into her throat, serial killer style. That is the other good news.

Thank you for coming to my comedy of errors life show.

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.