Sunday, June 26, 2011

Preserving Memories

When I was a little girl, I remember my grandparents and aunt coming over to our house for "garden work." What that really meant was that Daddy (and maybe me too) would go out early in the morning to pick tomatoes or corn or okra or squash or whatever else was ready. If it was corn, we ALL sat around the yard with knives and bowls of corn pulling husks and digging out silks. Then the women moved into the kitchen and canned it all. I remember a day we did was mushy corn. I hate mushy corn. (That would be translated as cream-style corn.) Another time, I remember we worked on vegetable soup. I had to shell butterbeans for this project. Another time I can remember canning tomatoes. I was a little older at this one, because this time I was in the kitchen helping Mama and Grandmaw and Aunt Thomasene with the tomatoes. I remember being fascinated watching the tomatoes go into the hot water for a few minutes, then dipping them out and watching the cold water split the skins. It was so amazing! And slipping those skins off was too fun! I imagined what it might be like if we dipped a little brother or sister into boiling water and then ice water. Would their skin slip off that easily?

Such memories... sweet memories. Grandmaw and Paw are no longer with us. Mama and Daddy live in another state. Aunt Thomasene has a different life now. My memories continue though.

When we moved to Idaho to go to Ricks College, it turned out that someone in our apartment complex was also from Georgia! It was someone I had known in the Douglasville ward, so that was really cool! I made great friends with his wife, and together she and I canned some apples and some pickles. I learned a lot from her. Somehow we canned those things even with her 4 kids and my little Manti all underfoot. Not one time we did feel the need to nail them to a wall to get them out of the way! I don't know how that happened! I remember that she couldn't wait 6 weeks for her pickles to "pickle" and she had them opened and eaten before 3 weeks was up! I sure did love Anna. I learned a lot from her.

And then there was the time we moved BACK to Idaho to try and finish school. Tonya was my best friend....she was more to me than she will ever know. She still is! One day, she and I went to another friends house and we picked cherries. We picked a BUNCH of them too! They were pie cherries, so together we canned cherry jam and some cherry pie filling. It was MOST AMAZING! Tonya helped me develop a side of myself I didn't believe in.

Once we came back to Georgia, Angie Harcrow and I got to be good friends. She helped me can my first batch of green beans. It was the first time I had ever used a pressure canner. Let me tell you, it was SCARY! I just knew that pot was going to blow up! We canned a lot of beans, and we laughed a lot. I loved every hot minute of it. The next time I wanted to can green beans, I had to call Angie and ask to borrow her canner. She let me! And the year after that, SHE LET ME AGAIN! She's let me use her canner almost as often she's used it herself! Now that's a good friend!

Two years ago, Tommy bought me my own pressure canner. With my job and his disability and all the responsibilities tied to me and my time, I didn't get to can last year. This year, I wanted to can so badly! Last week, Manti picked me a 5 gallon bucket full of green beans. I was afraid I wouldn't have time to can them. I was seriously worried. Friday night, I asked Mesa if she felt like helping me and learning a little about it. She shocked me by saying "sure", so we headed to the kitchen. I showed her what to do, and she did it. She canned 12 quarts of green beans largely by herself!

Now, I have a new memory!

And perhaps Mesa does too. This is the point of my post: if you have memories tied to canning, relive them often. Give them as a gift to your children, to your girlfriends, to your anyone who comes into your life. Someone will treasure the memory you preserve as they preserve foods in the future. What a blessing to all involved!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Are you preparing your MIND too?

Food storage has been drilled into our minds. We know we need to collect those staples that will keep us alive if/when things go haywire in our economy. We also know we need to store non-perishables and sanitary items and water and clothing and other things that help with survival. All of these things will take care of us IF that's all that goes wrong.

But there is more you can do! And I learned today that you can't start learning it too soon!

I'm a cub scout den leader. I have 2 little boys under my care, plus 2 more that we affectionately call our "Honorary Cub Scouts" and do things with them too so they feel as official as they can be while they wait till they are old enough to be official. Today was our den meeting. The two official cub scouts were there and my youngest child, Jared, was with me. It was 99 degrees outside today....and this is the south where humidity is commonly as high as the temperature. It was a painful heat, as if we were cooking from the inside out.

In our meeting, we were in a room with no air conditioning. We practiced tying some knots and then I taught the boys how to tie neckties. They were having a blast, but I saw their attention spans waning fast. Mesa, my daughter, is my assistant den leader. So I told her to help the boys collect our things and I would go check with the other group of boys to see if they were ready to join us in a game.

I was gone less than 2 minutes. When I walked back into the room, the boys were concerned about Mesa---who was laying in the floor. I asked the boys what had happened and they told me that she had passed out. They checked her to see if she was bleeding and they reported to me all that they knew. They told me she wasn't playing around and they were leaning over her to figure out what more they could do. Then they moved back to allow me space to take care of her.

What makes this significant is 1) they boys had just learned some very very basic first aid steps just two weeks ago, and 2) their ages: Jared 5, Luke 8, Morgan 9.

Now this story is simplistic, but it is also profound. These boys remained calm, and by doing so, they set the tone for me to also stay calm. They checked for the immediate signs of trouble and reported their findings to their leader- me. They stepped back immediately to allow space and air, and then they moved along to the next phase of the cub scout meeting.

These children listened and learned and then APPLIED their new knowledge. They have no idea just important it was that they perform in exactly the ways that they did. They didn't do it for reward or even congratulations (they will be getting one though! I'm just too proud of them not to reward their efforts), they just did what needed to be done. Because they did, a bad situation was avoided and Mesa is just fine now.

Imagine this situation were an adult situation. Imagine it is your elderly loved one that passes out and hits their head on a cement floor. What will you do? What is your reaction likely to be? How well will you keep it together? Will you know the best way to care for them? Or perhaps a little bitty child has an asthma attack and there are no medical professionals in the area where you are. Will you know how to respond? Will you panic and get foggy minded, or will you have enough knowledge of what to do to remain calm and just do it without having to scrape together bits and pieces of remembered techniques?

We never know what accidents or incidents are waiting in our future. We don't get to choose what experiences are coming our way, so that means preparing for those exact things is really hard. So prepare your mind the way you prepare your pantry. Study emergency first aid. Study CPR. Keep your CPR training current, because those people change the guidelines of "how to" administer CPR all the time. Know about the common distresses that you might come in contact with and what the best methods of care are in just such a circumstance. And when you have done all you know to do,.....ask someone for other suggestions.

Remember that no matter how much you prepare, there is always something more you can do. FIND THAT and get to work preparing that much more. In the famous words of Tony Little,.... "You can DO IT!"