Friday, November 12, 2010

Taking Advantage of Free Labor

I've been spoiled recently.  Having Jeff's mom here means having an extra pair of extremely helpful hands, ready and willing to do whatever task is at hand.  

One task that I knew I wanted to do this fall was make applesauce.  We had run out of all our home-canned applesauce, and a cellar without homemade applesauce is a sad cellar indeed.  :)  Rather than spending time in September or early October to tackle that project, I decided to wait until Jeff's mom was here; I wouldn't want her to miss out on the fun after all.  :)  (Last year, by the way, when she stayed with us for three weeks shortly after Shav's birth, our canning project was peaches.  We always make sure she gets a good dose of canning while she's in this part of the country!)

We ended up devoting the better part of the afternoon on two days to our applesauce project:  school in the morning, applesauce in the afternoon. 
We made applesauce out of about 3 bushels of apples (and despite the picture above, we did not get the apples from Romney Orchards; that's just an old wooden crate my parents have that we used to transport the apples!), and we ended up with 52 quarts:  47 canned, and 5 frozen.
We used Yellow Delicious apples, and the applesauce was so sweet that we didn't need to add any extra sugar.
I was beyond grateful to have the help of both my mother and my mother-in-law.  We made a very good team as we worked together--my mom specializing in cutting the apples to get them ready to cook and in washing the dishes as we finished up, Jeff's mom specializing in running the apples through the mill, and me specializing in the canning process--although, of course, we all helped out in a variety of ways.  Three are better than one, for they can make a whole lot of applesauce a whole lot more quickly than one woman by herself!!  That's my loose translation of Ecclesiastes 4:9 anyway.  :)
I had heard about these food mills from several friends (real-life and blogging) but did not have one.  When Jeff's mom found out that we were going to make applesauce and that a mill was available to make the process easier and quicker, she bought one for me--a most useful and appreciated gift!  We were thrilled by how much it sped up the process and by how little waste there was.  The chickens liked pecking at the skins and seeds that came out of the mill, so really, it wasn't wasteful at all!
Both Josiah and David took a turn at the handle, but David was the one who liked it the most and stuck with it.  It was a genuine help to have him doing this job.
The end result: pleasing to look at, delicious to taste, and... 
 ...a sweet reminder during winter's cold days of the time spent in my warm, cozy kitchen with two women I love.


Encounters #6 & 7
Making friends is an interesting task:  sometimes quick, sometimes slow, sometimes easy, sometimes difficult, sometimes one-sided, sometimes mutual.

When I was a child, it seemed easier to make friends than it does as an adult.  Back in those days, if a girl was nice and if we had fun playing together, she was my friend--easy as pie!  Now, with a busy life and little time for "play," friendship usually seems much slower to develop.

Two encounters come to mind, as I think about making friends.  The first occurred when I arrived at college and discovered that one of my roommates (I had two at the beginning of that year) was a sweet girl with long, dark, curly hair and a big, quick-to-laugh heart.  Her name was Juli Yoder, and we hit it off instantly.  What a precious gift to have her friendship to help ease me into the huge transition of leaving home for college!  She left college after a semester because of her romance with Bryan, a young man back at her home who was pursuing and wooing her.  They ended up getting married during Christmas break of my sophomore year, and I was honored to be one of her bridesmaids (and wear a gorgeous navy blue velvet dress, by the way).  :)  It was her wedding that caused me to fly to Israel by myself (as I mentioned in this post).

Looking back, however, I believe that that was the last instantaneous friendship I've had.  Don't get me wrong:  I've been blessed by an abundance of friendships in the years since then, but each of them has taken more time to develop.  Like with Jayne, Carolyn, Jacqueline, and Maggie...

Those four women were part of a church in San Diego that we joined back in 1998, during the first year of our marriage; and they were the first to reach out to me and, as such, were hugely instrumental in helping me grow spiritually in ways that I could hardly have imagined I would grow.  God used them to sharpen me like iron, and I will forever be grateful for their input (as well as the barrels of fun we had and the mountains of memories we made along the way).

But here's the thing about those four women (and the many other wonderful friends we made in San Diego):  the friendship wasn't immediate.  I remember my initial encounters with them; I felt guarded and reluctant to open my life and heart to them.  They were so different from me!  Could they ever really be my best friends?

They could, and they were.  Imagine:  a Jewess, a Hispanic, an African-American, and a Texan, all creating such a circle of love and security and spiritual friendship around me.  It was amazing, and my surprise at our developing friendship led to sheer delight at how God made our paths to cross.

And so, from these two encounters, I learned that friendship, that dear, sweet gift that brings such joy to life, sometimes comes quickly and sometimes comes slowly.  But either way, it brings so much rich beauty to our days.  Nowadays, if I meet someone and hit it off right away, I give thanks for that; and if it takes a little longer to click with someone, I don't fret, but give thanks anyway!


mindi said...

My mom stopped by recently and helped me with some apple butter - we didn't get as much as you but having her show me how to do it was the whole point :)

Mike and Katie said...

That applesauce looks so yummy! I'd like to learn how to can salsa and spagetti sauce. Everything else I'd prefer to freeze but I never thought of applesauce. I might add that to my list, too.