Nothing is ever as easy as you think it will be, and when something is advertised as “easy” you really better watch out, because you’re really in for it. More about that in a minute.
I’ve been going every week to work on the church library. We’ve been cataloging books. We now are working on thirteen boxes of books donated by our late priest. Have you ever wanted to just lay in a pile of books and just hug them? Well, never have I come upon such a collection that so made me drool. Virtually three quarters of every box are books I want to read RIGHT NOW.
I finally sighed as I oohed and aahed picking up one treasure after another, “I can’t live long enough to read all these!” Oh how I wish my dream would come true and somebody would play me to read books, but only the ones I want! Fat chance.
The library is coming along nicely. What started out as a fairly simple idea to update and integrate this new collection, has become a real chore. But happily, it’s a labor of love. I do love libraries and bookstores, and I approach with a sense of awe, this is holy ground folks.
I have additional duties in regards this project, being the co-chair of the newly instituted “Standing Committee for the Library.” Busy times indeed, making sure that everyone is notified of everything, writing news inserts for the church bulletin, organizing, thinking, planning, executing, puzzling, brainstorming. Such is committee life. Never as simple as you expect.
Mostly I’m blessed to be working with a fine group of people, all talented, all smart, all hard workers. We work three laptops now, each of us putting in name, author, publisher, location, copyright, section. Spreadsheets are most useful for this. I had already broken the existing stock into various categories, so that went smoother than this new stuff, which has to be determined book by book. But we got close to half of the thirteen boxes done. Another session next Friday may finish it off, or nearly so. Just in time for the next full meeting.
Which brings me to strawberries. You must see the connection? NO? Well, read on. After I left the church, I went to the farmer’s market in search of strawberries to make some jam.
Now I arrived only fifteen minutes after the official opening, so I was rather distressed to find a line nearly 30 people long, maybe more, waiting to buy strawberries. No lines anywhere else in the entire market, mind you.
I dutifully got in line and proceeded to stand there for a full thirty minutes, in the heat and humidity (90 degrees + and 100% humidity). Joy of joys for that. I got a flat, approximately six quarts, figuring I should be able to get a good dozen pints from that.
I proceeded to the Walmart to get some lids and unflavored gelatin, which the recipe called for. So far so good. I bought a dozen extra jars just in case, having about 18 available at home from other jams (raspberry and grape already used up). I got a couple of bags of sugar. Good to go. Stop at the Whopper for my dinner, the Contrarian having saved a Subway for himself for dinner without me. (You can see I’ve been a tad lax on dinner during this ungodly weather.)
Today, I get the recipe out. Crapola, it is a recipe for fake sugar. So I go online and look for no pectin recipes, since I got only a single box of pectin. Nope, none. I wanna make “freezer jam” cuz they SAID IT WAS EASY! Right.
None of this makes sense. I’m supposed to get about 2 cups of squished strawberries per quart. That makes about 12 cups. I look up the sugar requirements. Four cups per every two cups? That is insane. That means in 8 cups of berries I need 16 cups of sugar. I’m gonna die of sugar overload. I check the box of pectin. Yep, 4 cups of sugar to 2 cups berries. This is crazy.
I clean my berries and measure them out. I get 16 cups divided in half. That means I need 8 boxes of pectin and 36 cups of sugar. This is going bad.
I call around. The Troy Store girl giggles, “what is pectin?” “It’s for making jam, ” I patiently reply. “Just a minute, I’ll go check.” A short delay. “No, we don’t carry it.”
I call Sherbons in Walker. “Do you have pectin? ” “Sure, how much you need, everybody is canning.” “About 6 packages?” “Just a minute—-yup, I got enough for ya.” “Good, I’ll send my husband up.”
Pectin in hand, I start pouring in the sugar, mumbling, “this is insane,” again and again. Soon my biggest bowl is nearly overflowing. I draw the line at 15 cups. Enough! I’ll cut the pectin a bit, split it in half, see what happens.
I gotta split the first bowl so I can get the pectin and water in. I begin to look at my jars. Oh lordy, never going to work here. Not enough jars.
I start to ladle. Boy this stuff is getting jellied already. I fill the twelve new jars. I got half of it left. Oh lord. What hath I wroth here? I drag out another dozen of extra jars. I use ten more. I got 22 jars of jam and I have half of my berries left.
They go into the fridge until tomorrow. I’ll have to stop at Walmart after church and buy more jars. I’ll have nearly four dozen jars of jam. Enough until Armageddon or the new millennium whichever comes first.
Easy? Well, if you consider that a job I thought was gonna take an hour and half actually takes two days, then yeah, it was easy. Oh I can’t wait until the blueberries come on! I guess I won’t buy six quarts of those!