I paid my property taxes today. Well, not really. Being a modern fellow I have them electronically withdrawn on exactly May 10th, the day they are due. But I entered them into my accounting program today, so it was like paying them. I was grousing as I did so, “I don’t own this land, I just rent it from the government. Grumble, grumble, grumble.”
Later today I finally finished “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold.
It’s a library book, so I couldn’t mark in it. I went through one whole pack of blue sticky notes and had to switch to pink markers.
I was reflecting on the marvels of a book that took a pack and a half of sticky notes, and then it occurred to me that the property taxes I just paid paid for this book in my hand.
After another ill-advised trip to the Clearspring Produce Auction on Friday I came home with 5 pecks of Roma tomatoes, 3 pecks of tomatillos, and 6 quarts of serrano chiles.
Then having lost all restraint I went to the Columbia City Farmers Market on Saturday and picked up cucumbers, red bell peppers, and green chiles.
I made pickle relish and ketchup today.
That 3 pints of ketchup took 8 pounds of tomatoes.
It’s somewhat ridiculous to make this stuff yourself. I spent about 4 hours (although a lot of that was unattended soaking and cooking) making 3 pints of ketchup and 4 pints of pickle relish.
But when you look at it you see vibrant real colors. Even in the photo above you can see the ketchup is a rich red, something you can only describe as the color of a ripe tomato. The relish is a rainbow of everything in it, green and white from the cucumbers, white from the onions, red and yellow and green from the peppers.
On the other hand a commercial ketchup is this weird dark red color that didn’t come from nature but from a chemist’s imagination. And commercial pickle relish is even worse, an homogeneous off green with a few flecks of carefully colored red pepper.
And the difference in taste is even more dramatic than the colors. The homemade stuff is fresh and bright, tart and sweet and spicy, and bursting with fresh vegetable taste. The commercial stuff? In comparison it’s heavy and cloying and way, way too sweet.
Well, I don’t want to get all preachy here. It’s just ketchup. After I canned tomatoes last week I was talking with my Mom. I remembered her telling me that her Mom, my Grandma Farris, canned 1000 jars of food a year. After I had canned 80 jars of tomatoes I thought that had to be hyperbole.
“No,” Mom said, that was right. A 1000 jars a year. Mom said her job was to clean the jars as she was one of the youngest of her 10 siblings and had the smallest hands.
Then she went on to say, “there was no running water of course.” Every drop of water had to be pumped by hand outside and carried into the house and heated on the stove.
One of the onerous parts of canning is all the cleanup.
This is 3rd batch of dishes I’ve done today. Now I’ve been doing more than just the few pints of food above, but still. I can’t imagine carrying all the water in to clean these dishes and heating it on the stove.
My rambling point is that I’ll never criticize anyone for buying a bottle of store-bought ketchup. I’m just a dilettante playing at preserving food in the comfort of my air-conditioned house with hot and cold running water.
My Grandma Farris was old and sick by the time I was old enough to remember her. I never really knew her. What I wouldn’t give to sit with her now and ask, “how did you do it?”
We have Amish TV at Skunk Hill, we get the 5 channels that come free over the air. So when I get to a hotel room with cable TV I get all excited about so many things to watch. Here in my plush room at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis I surfed through the channels and I found, starting at channel 2 (I stayed on a channel only long enough to identify what it was showing):
Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone in a made for TV movie (sadly,this was the high point)
PBS advertising themselves
CNN showing YouTube videos
Mystery Detectives outtakes
Fishermen saying “bleep” to each other.
Commercial about coming NBA games
Wright State vs Loyola. I could tell you the sport, but honestly, does it matter?
Carmelo Anthony shooting practice shots for his anticipated return after bad behavior, or maybe an injury.
Ad for “Dredd.” Whatever that is, it wasn’t clear. Maybe a movie?
University of Phoenix ad. (Why did I waste all that time at Purdue reading books and taking tests?)
Subway sandwich store ad.
A Steve Carell movie, not sure which one.
HBO. Someone getting shot with an assault rifle while fishing. Ha ha, that’s entertainment!
Stock market analysis, a red faced person shouting, “don’t buy Intel”
A news show. “Manufacturers of high capacity assault rifle clips spent 7.7 million dollars on lobbying.” (You can draw whatever conclusions you like with regards to the HBO movie 2 bullets (haha) above.)
Bill O’Reilly talking over his guest
Weather show about rain
Hip hop music with a guy peeing on a pool table. (Really, I couldn’t make this stuff up)
Cough medicine ad.
Cartoon with vultures talking in an Indian accent. (Again, really)
Weather conditions in Jerusalem (Seriously, I’m not making this up)
4 talking heads talking about Latin America credit ratings
I don’t know. I think it was a news show. But it was cartoon figures of the newscasters flying over the US Capitol Building.
Soccer of “Ben” vs. “Bar” (Countries I suppose. But could it really be Benin vs. Barbados?)
A child beauty pageant
Dirty movies that I have to pay for and that I might want to block if I have young children. I figured my youngest son Paul (age 27) might come to visit, so I blocked it
Honestly? People pay money for this sort of programming? To quote my favorite tv mom, Jane Kaczmarek as Lois in “Malcolm in the Middle, (who was not present on this screed of horrible tv,) “What is wrong with you???”
I’m going to go read my book…
Which is a book of Dave Barry telling booger jokes.
Google offered me a wonderful new way to compose messages in gmail. When I went to compose a message this morning they popped up a window to tell me about it.
Cool! Except… the button to press to ‘Try it now’ is off the bottom edge of the screen. And there’s no way to scroll it. You can guess the little blue line just protruding above the taskbar is the button. I could just press the ‘X’ in the upper right corner to dismiss it, but then I’d never get to try this ‘Fast’ ‘Simple’ and ‘Powerful’ way to compose email messages.
What to do? I need speed, simplicity, and power when writing my emails! I tried shrinking the Google Chrome window with the Restore Down button, thinking maybe I’d get some scrollbars, but no joy. Then I remembered I could drag the Windows taskbar to the side, maybe that would uncover the buttons on the new compose screen.
Ah ha! There it is! Now I can compose messages with as Google puts it “a cleaner simpler experience.”
Remember, the next time you hear some fanboy in the press holding forth on the wonders of Google’s autonomous car, that it is brought to you by the same folks who can’t write code to correctly size a window in a browser to display the control buttons. Just saying that you might want to keep your hands on the wheel.