Tag Archives: canning

Because I Can: Wendy gets unapologetically Grumpy

Over the past couple months I have posted some joyful pictures of my canning successes. (In true social media fashion, no one will ever see the failures.)

In response to these, I got an unexpected and significant amount of cautious questions and some condescending dismissals, like “well I wouldn’t bother with that because it’s cheap at the store, but if you want to be a prepper, be my guest.” And “why are you doing so much canning?”

Social media is one of those weird places where, if you put it out there, you can’t control reactions, nor should you want to. It’s also one of those places where what you think of as happy gets commented on by people who enjoy spreading misery, or who believe their candles will burn brighter if they throw cold water on your flame.

I’m having fun. I can because I can. I like it. The food is good and I know what’s in it. The jars look pretty on a shelf and have become that kind of functional beauty decoration folklorists loved to talk about in academic terms, back in Grad School when we couldn’t afford any art anyway.

So maybe I’m a little annoyed when others feel a need to shred the joy, but c’est la vie. Prepper is hardly the worst thing I’ve been called in life, and the political goo that sticks to the term washes off easily in my water bath canner. I just spent a week at the beach with friends who are taking herbal medicine classes to enhance their professions, and they’re getting jeered at for being hippie weirdos. Which amuses them. Herbal medicines are about the most capitalistic thing going in America right now. You have NO IDEA how much a tincture based on herbs picked for free from your grandpa’s acre sells for per ounce. Or how good sea rocket tastes, sauteed in olive oil. Laughing all the way to the bank, they are, with their muscles relaxed from the stuff they know how to make cheap and apply in just the right spot.

If everything, from why french fries are soggy to the reasons people like canned milk, has to be politicized, here’s wishing those who do so what joy they can scrape out of such ungracious social media interaction. It doesn’t look like much joy from here, but live and let live; isn’t that the point.

Can’t we just enjoy life and let others do the same? Sometimes people have hobbies that involve learning new things because they enjoy learning new things. As opposed to, say, sitting around watching TV. Not everything has to have a democratic or republican slant. Sometimes we pick violets because they’re pretty, and sometimes because they make great sauce for ice cream. Vanilla. Which one hears republicans prefer. Whatever. I guess democrats like Cherry Garcia?

Cut it out, y’all. Get real lives. Enjoy something because you enjoy it. Remember joy, contentment, peace? We can still do that. Live and let live.

(Note to friends who may be feeling attacked right now: It’s okay; I know you asked because you care. Other people didn’t and I’m talking to them. Let it go.)


Filed under crafting, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Taking the Lid Off

Yesterday I did one of those strategic early morning Walmart runs. You know: the aisle-organized list, the double mask, the full body sweatsuit: prepare to raid at dawn.

As is usual when making this foray, I went to the canning aisle first. (It used to be cleaning supplies to look for bleach wipes. Things are improving.) If you’re a canner, you know why I go there first. If you aren’t, don’t worry about it. The point is, when I arrived another woman with a gater mask stood in front of the empty section.

She eyed me sideways and I did the same to her. Were we after the same scarce resources?

Half-pint jars were my quarry. Which they had. As I put a couple of cases in my cart, she said, “My mom died.”

I said, “I am so sorry to hear that. How are you doing?”

She said, “It was March 20, 2019. She canned a lot.”

“Does it comfort you to use her stuff?”

She cocked her head, considering. Above the mask her eyes concentrated on the shelf, but she was seeing something else.

“Yeah, it does.” Her hand moved to a thing that claimed it was a “grease catcher,” a kind of modified coffee pot doohickey. A lot of doohickeys have come out since the pandemic started and newbies began entering traditional preservation methods with money to spend.

“My mom kept all the grease from when she cooked, but she kept it in a kind of an old skillet with a screen over it. It didn’t look like this.” Her hand rocked the coffeepot-esque thing back and forth in its box with a faint rattle.

“Lotsa weird devices coming out. You still have hers?”

“You know, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it in years, but there’s still some boxes to go through. Some days it feels like yesterday, but it was two years ago. She missed all this craziness.” Although her hand gestured to the empty shelf we both knew what she meant.

I didn’t say the other words we were thinking: two years ago today.

Aloud I asked, “Are you looking for lids?”

She nodded. Hence the side-eye when we met. We might have had to arm wrestle.

I grinned, then realized she couldn’t see it. “Aren’t we all? Last I bought some without price gouging was at Target. I don’t know if you live near one?”

Rural people will understand, but for those who wonder why I said that to someone in the local Walmart, these places are beacons for 40 miles around. Sure enough, she lived in a small town about 30 miles away. This was her nearest box store.

We exchanged Intel on where we’d last seen rings and flats, who was upping the prices, places to check on retail and the online markets. She told me about her mom’s biscuit recipe and her love for fresh tomatoes. She still uses her mom’s clothes peg bag and some very old pins that her mom had from her mother. “The smell of fresh laundry, or fresh cut tomatoes, bring her right back like she’s standing there.”

I nodded. “The smells get us every time, don’t they.”

We wished each other luck on the lid hunt, and started to move away.

She paused. “It was nice, talking about my mom. It’s been awhile since I just talked to somebody I don’t live with.”

“I liked hearing about her,” I said.

And we parted.


Filed under crafting, Life reflections, small town USA