Exhausted from the chaos and 'stupid' in this world, I have narrowed my focus. I am up to my armpits in tomatoes. They cannot be ignored.
First there is the gathering. The very saddest part is that at this stage of the game, I need to be picking them every single day. I can't, because I am working 10 hour days. The garden is a half hour away. Last weekend, I got four bags of them, and this weekend, I got another large basket of them.
I bring them home and wash them, and then dunk them in boiling water to make them easy to skin. Then I simmer them in a large pot. Last week, I did them plain, this week, I did them with peppers, onions, and garlic.
Since it is just Tim and I, our large freezer has plenty of room. We're in a race to clear out the last of the venison in preparation for this year's venison, and the 80 lbs of chicken I bought last January is quite nearly used up.
So I put the pureed tomatoes into ziplocks and put them away in the freezer on a cookie sheet so that they freeze flat and can be stacked. They can be added to soups and recipes all winter long. They join the bags of grated zucchini which will be brought out in their turn to be turned into zucchini bread (and muffins, thanks to Kelly). There's also sliced carrots in there and grated carrot, celery, and onion mixes to add to soups.
Focusing on the little tasks makes my mind easier, and to be honest, I think the world would be better off right now if everyone was trying to keep up with their garden produce.
I've got pumpkins galore. The vines have been dying off and I've enough to give away. I have never had such a year for pumpkins. William has his pumpkins picked.
I had been planning to get back out to Dylan and Brittani's house in early October to get one last visit in before the weather makes planning these trips trickier. The last time I went out for an extended visit was in June. Dylan and Brittani were supposed to go away for their anniversary, but everyone was succumbing to a bug and so no one went anywhere at all. We still had an awfully nice time. I'd like to give them a chance to go away again. It will also be an opportunity to deliver a half dozen pumpkins for Iris.
One of Iris' and my 'traditions' is the pineapple bag. It is just a reusable shopping bag with pineapples on it, but it sits in a quiet corner of my bedroom and 'collects' stuff. I dressed my children on a single mother's wage by using thrift stores and consignment shops. Brittani became intrigued by that, but out there on the more populous side of the state, thrift stores are much higher priced. I can buy them much cheaper here, and I do. Those things are washed and tossed in the pineapple bag. Books. stickers, new items for her dress-up box... As I see little things that would appeal to her, I buy them and toss them in too.
When I visit, I always call ahead. This gives Brittani time to let the dogs out if Iris is sleeping, or if Dylan is working from home. It also guarantees that Iris and Brittani are on the steps to greet me, Iris calls 'ama, ama, ama!!' I call, "Iris, Iris, Iris!!!" When I open the trunk, she is looking for that pineapple bag, and it is always very exciting. She loves trying on her new clothes and the little surprises always tickle her.
The pineapple bag is getting full once again. One of the things in it is a book about the Five Little Pumpkins. I am excited to teach her that little counting song, just as I taught it to her father and her aunts. In turn, I remember learning it in kindergarten and loving it.
You know, I thought that Google had the answer to every question I had, but they don't. I was trying to google to see how old that song was. I believe that my mother was tickled when she heard five year old me singing that song, because she had sung it herself as a child. I got page after page of activities and crafts and pumpkin games (useful, and some of these things will be used to entertain little Iris), but was unable to discover the origins of the song.
If you don't mind, did you sing that song in school? How long ago was that?
I've got my produce taken care of, save some peppers that need chopped for the freezer. I will do that this afternoon, dreaming of a trip east that may or may not happen, I will think on days gone, and days to come. As much as possible, I will avoid thinking of things that I can't change.