"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Busy as a Bee

The first week of school is over and we are all still alive. My own children were chomping at the bit to get back to school after a year of homeschooling, and I was equally eager to see them go, so everybody was happy. My two nieces however, the Tamagochis, were not so thrilled.

The Tamagochis are staying with us for a year, to learn English and have the experience of living in another culture, and to become closer to their cousins. Their English is extremely limited - they cannot have even a simple conversation - and so they were understandably frightened about going off the middle and high school. I've been making the rounds of principles, counselors, and teachers, trying to get a little understanding of how the school plans to help them adjust. So far, the answer seems to be "sink or swim." They are both bright, hardworking girls, and so I am certain they will both be swimmers - but for now, they are scared swimmers. I can't blame them. In fact, I am filled with admiration for their bravery and guts.

The beginning of school is always a busy time, of course, with the endless papers to fill out, the parent-teacher association meetings, the volunteer sign up sheets, the ice-cream socials and the carpool organizations. And it happens smack-dab in the middle of the preserving season, when my kitchen looks like a small produce department threw up all over it.

Last week, I helped Rowan can some of the tomatoes from her garden. We tried something new - raw-pack diced tomatoes. You just dice up the raw tomatoes, pack into sterilized pint jars, add a little lemon juice and salt (and garlic, if desired - we always desire) and then process in a water bath for 80 minutes. I'm not sure what to think of the results. The tomatoes shrink up so much, there is a lot of empty space in the top of the jar. The seals are all good, so I assume the tomatoes will store well, but it looks weird.

The pears are falling all over the ground. The small funky ones go to the goats and chickens, but there are enough good sized ones to keep us in fresh eating pears. The plum tree finally produced a fair number of plums, too. Apparently the weird mushy ones I picked (Tree Trouble (What the Hell is Wrong With These Plums?)) were an anomaly. Thank goodness. Finally we have a nice big bowl of lovely italian plums on the kitchen table, looking all picturesque. And yesterday, Homero fixed the car of a guy who had an apple tree, and he brought home three shopping bags full of apples. Not near enough to press, so I guess I'm canning more applesauce.

And making a pie. Those girls come home hungry from school. Apple pie for an after school snack is what gets moms into heaven.