Monthly Archives: October 2007

The first Sunday of the month is a busy time for the household of Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife.  Our Small Group is “host family” that day, and we have a potluck lunch at Shady Acres with some of the best food you could imagine.  This past Sunday we decided to grill hamburgers and hot dogs.  The meal got filled in with tender Delaware Lima beans from thisisloretta’s household that had been picked and shelled the evening before. Another gal brought “Under the Sea” jello salad to go with the usual potato salad, and Gracegiven brought cherry delight for dessert.  We had pickles and sliced fresh tomatoes and peach tea.  We have wonderful times together, and Sunday was no exception.  What fun to talk about projects for our church and to exchange ideas that will need lots of refining, but still hold so much potential.  The families and singles who make up our small group are easy to love.


On the first Sunday evening of every month, we (as in my extended family) try to gather at my Sweet Mama’s house — those of us who can make it.  I’m sharing some random shots from that evening.  It’s always so good to be together.  How very much I love these people, too.  Some were missing, and some stayed out of camera range, but some of these pictures are priceless!


  ZZ-- Evening At Mama's Clint  
Something struck this
man’s funny bone! 



ZZ-- Evening At Mama's  Frieda
(I wonder what his wife is thinking!)


ZZ-- Evening At Mama's Polly  ZZ-- Evening At Mama's Sarah
Gentle conversations are one of our favorite things about the evening
Especially among us gals.


 


ZZ-- Evening At Mama's Jerrel  ZZ-- Evening At Mama's Bert


 


The farmers (here, Jerrel and Bert) talk chicken houses and cows and the drought. 
(and they do discuss greatly.)
The two pastor guys (Clint and Mark) talk about church issues and Nursing homes and life in general
(and they do discuss greatly, too).
Certain Man weighs in on whichever conversation is closest at hand.  Sometimes he sits in the LaZboy and eats popcorn.  And sticks out his tongue whenever anyone tries to take his picture. 
Of course, I’m not going to subject you to that visual.


Late in the evening, just about the time that we were about to go home,
Jeremy and Cheryl came in with their little guy, Max. 
Of course, Grandpa and Grandma had to get their hands on him.


ZZ-- Evening At Mama's Mark, Polly and the grandbaby


Blessed, blessed, Happy Day.


 

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Our Sunday School lesson today left me somewhat pensive.  It dealt with choices and regrets and the life of Jacob and Esau.


I don’t suppose any of us can say that we have no regrets.  I am of the opinion that people who say they have no regrets often have lots of people around them that could fill in the spaces for them.  When we refuse to acknowledge that there are things for which we are/should be sorry for, there are always people who are not only hurt, but disillusioned by our lack of remorse.


Does that mean we live in the land of  “if only?”  No.  God never intended for yesterday to cower today.  God is the God of the second chance.  The God who loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die for us.  He wants us to look forward.  He wants us to live in hope.  He expects us to learn from the past, but He doesn’t intend for the past to keep us from the present and the future.


This does not negate that there are things that I regret.  There are things that I wish I could do over.  For my sake, yes, but even more for the people I love who were/are hurt because of how I’ve done things, what I’ve said, or how I’ve reacted.  And saying that, I have to say that while God doesn’t expect the past to “keep us from” the present and the future, He also doesn’t erase the effects of our misjudgments and sin from either of those entities.


Any thoughts?  How does a healthy understanding of our past and the mistakes we’ve made become a catalyst for hope?

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I see I need to educate you all about the equipment that I use to make grape juice —


And I will grant you that it does look like a “bootlegger’s still” and, in fact, the recipe book came with many recipes for “home brew.”  Anyone who knows me very well at all, though, knows that alcohol in any of its ingestible forms is an abomination to my very soul.  (There has been too much heartbreak in the world in general and in the lives of some of the children I have loved for me to be neutral about this.  Do not argue with me.  You will not win.)


But for the sake of the interested, curious and just plain nosey — allow me to take you through a tour of these kettles and what they do for me.  (And I do lend them out, should anyone decide to try them!)


 


A --  Communion Day 6  A --  Communion Day 4


A --  Communion Day 5


This is the view of three sides of the box  the kettle came in.  Like I said, I have two kettles, and when I am doing juice, I keep them both running as  hard as they can go.  I purchased my steamers at Byler’s Store in Dover.  They are not cheap, but one of my boxes has a price tag on it that says $79.00.  I don’t think I saw them that cheap before or since.  Usually they run at least $100.00.


A --  Step one


The first step is to fill the bottom kettle to the fill line with water and get it started on the stove.
It needs to come to a rolling boil.


A --  Step two     A --  Step three


While the water is getting hot, I wash the grapes and weigh them  I need about six pounds per kettle.


A --  Step four 


This is the juice reservoir


 


A --  Step  four and a half


It sits on top of the boiling water pan.  The rubber tube hooks up to the handle while the juice is steaming.


 


A --  Step five


Once the water is boiling rapidly, I put the top steamer container  holding the six pounds of grapes on top of the reservoir.  For years, I picked every single grape off the stems, but the book says it isn’t necessary, so I have stopped doing that, and don’t see any decline in quality.  (And it saves incredible time and energy!)


A --  Communion Day 3


You saw this picture before, but these are the two kettles, cooking away.  My Sweet Mama said that they looked like they were copper on my last post.  I guess they do, but they aren’t.  They are heavy weight stainless steel.  The light in my kitchen just makes them look copper.  The six pounds cook about an hour and fifteen minutes.  The first 15 are at a hard rolling boil, then I turn the temperature back to medium for another hour.


A --  Step seven


Each kettle makes about three quarts of juice when there are six quarts of grapes in the steamer.  So I am able to fill six empty jars with hot water and put them into my microwave which is over the stove and make them very hot there until I am ready to empty the steamer.


A --  Step eight


It looks like I am caramelizing my Kerr canning lids, but again, it is just the light.  I put six flat lids into a small pan on my stove and bring them to a boil.


About now is when I don a pair of latex gloves.  I have learned that a pair of latex gloves saves a woman many a burn on canning day.  Plus, it makes it possible to handle hot jars with a great deal of ease.


 


A --  Step six 


I have a stool that is exactly the right size for this job.  I strip a kitchen size trash bag over it to save on cleaning it up afterwards, and scoot it close to my stove.  When the steaming is done, I take a hot jar, set it on the stool, and take down the rubber tubing and unclamp the clamp, letting the boiling juice into the jar up to the neck.  Working as fast as I can, I put a hot lid on the jar, screw a band on it.  Shake it gently, and loosen the band enough to”burp” the jar and then tighten it down again, and set it on the cupboard in a row.  Usually it will seal immediately, but at least within two minutes.  Those of you who do home canning know that there are few sounds as sweet as the PING! of a canning lid!


A --  Step nine


Last night, when I finished my last steamer of grapes, I had 69 quarts of concentrate. 
Whew! 
Was I glad to see then end of those grapes.  


And now it is time to think about apple pie filling.


 


 

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I felt like I was having a personal “communion” day today.

Last week the Amish family who brings the grapes into the area called to say that the grapes would be here today.  Certain Man is very supportive of the grape juice industry, and very helpful when it comes to procuring what I need to can grape juice.   I took inventory of my stock and decided that our family had used about 70 quarts last year without Eldest Son, and decided that the 37 quarts we had left would probably not last through the coming winter with him home.

And then, on a totally different subject, I realized that I was going to be out of bread by the time the sandwiches were made for the day and breakfast was over. 

So this morning, as soon as Cecilia and Nettie were on their buses, I went to Dover and got my four bushels of grapes.  I thought I would be able to get them done by bedtime.  Right.

There were jars and things in the basement that Middle Daughter would fetch for me as soon as she got home from some other errands.  She would also bring up my two steamers.

A --  Communion Day 3

I love these two pieces of equipment that I invested in about five years ago.  I have never been sorry.  There is no grape juice like the concentrate that comes from these two babies.

But since they were in the basement when I arrived home from Dover, I decided to mix up my bread quick, and then work on grapes.

Tonight I am almost half finished with the grapes, and I figure that by the time we have the two steamer loads that are currently steaming finished, , we should have almost 33 quarts of concentrate.  And the bread is ready to be cut.  That is Certain Man’s job, and he said that he would do it after it is too dark to see to work outside.

A --  Communion Day 2

This is such a comforting accomplishment, and a homey smell is in this house that I don’t think Yankee Candle could duplicate.

But my, oh, my, how my foot doth hurt and this gal is rather weary!

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