Saturday, June 11, 2011

No Margin For Error

It took 5 years of talking about "wanting" to do it, 2 years of procrastination and researching the products to "try" to do it, 1 year of "almost" did it, and finally, this morning, it begins.  I sit here and I contemplate the procedure.  I have seen and experienced the results of successful operations, and have heard the stories of less success or narrowly averted tragedy.  Yet, I sit back and watch as Maryann follows to the "T" the proper procedures and safeguards for such, with utter confidence that she won't kill me before my birthday.

Although she has been trained by experienced folk and actual homesteaders, canning is a seriously questionable procedure to me, and, there seems from what I have learned to be no margin for error.  To be able to reap the pleasures of your own canned salmon, vegetables fresh from the greenhouse sauces, jams and other delights for use through the summer or winter is a comforting thought.  It seems to be the way to go if you are trying to be more self reliant and self sustaining.  Thus, the reason we have always wanted to do it!  Hell, if it didn't cost more than our home to invest in, we would have gone 'off the grid' years ago and done solar or wind power!  I....we, absolutely cannot stand to be manipulated and honed by the electrical companies, grocers and the like.  So, it seems perfectly normal  that this whole canning gig is taking place here.  We have always wanted to buy less at the store, and eat more of what we sow....or catch for that matter.

Very attentive during the jarring process....

The way they lie in wait for some fish to fall on the floor, almost makes you feel like carrion!

A ticking time bomb!

Captivated by the sight of steam and a distance....

Besides the aesthetic hazards of canning,  such as a gauge that may be off calibration on the pressure cooker that could create an explosion in your kitchen, there are more subtle cautions that need be observed.  Such as: making sure there is enough propane in the tank so as not to lose flame before the cooking process has completed so the entire batch is not wasted.  The lack of consistent heat for the duration can cause a bad batch.  There's the continual sterilization throughout the process of preparation.  We wont even get into the worst case, that being botulism!  Yes, in rare cases, if safety and caution in following the proper guidelines is not observed, death or injury can occur!  The whole thing has always freaked me out!  So, if you don't hear from me here on the site, ever again.....

Stay tuned.

On happier notes, we are week one into housing our summer guest, Tyler.  Being his first time is Alaska, he was weary of what to expect.  This is what he has learned so far:  There are actually real homes in parts of Alaska....not everyone lives in Igloos.  There are not Wolverines hiding at every corner, waiting to attack you.  As cuddly as grizzlies may look....they really aren't!  'Big Bald Eagles' do carry off 'small' dogs.  He now knows what a 'coffee hut' is as witnessed first hand and that we Alaskans really enjoy these....especially in the winter.  Judging by the way he blurted out, "holy shit that thing is huge!" upon seeing his first moose.... I am thinking he realizes the sheer immensity of such a stoic beast!  Work has been inundating my time this past week so there hasn't been much time for fun, but we are going to make the necessary adjustments for that here shortly!  He's spent the first week working at the lodge, and familiarizing himself with fueling and preparing the float planes for fly outs, getting the grounds in order, and has found time for making subtle moves on Maryann's assistant. 

We also made the discovery a couple of weeks back, after the last post, that what we thought were Tundra Swans on the lake, are actually Trumpeter Swans!  One dead give away was when I got a little rattled, thinking that North Star Elementary decided to have their jazz band recital practice on our lake!  I mean, I am all for outdoor concerts, but come on!  No, the sound I was hearing was actually these swans and I have to say they make some sweet music!  I included a video for you to check out.   
Mind you this isn't our lake but gives you an idea of what we are experiencing.  They seem to be doing the whole mating thing, here on the lake and it appears that there is nesting going on over on the shore within view of the house.  The whole thing is kind of exciting, in a non stimulating way, of course!  That and all of the other activities on the lake are all just way too cool.  This is the time of year we savor and everything in nature has come back to life!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Things they don't teach you in school!

I recived a series of emails today, sent to me by John on his I Phone.  This is what I received, with his text below each Picture:

"The 'P' tool and the start of a chair."

"Five trees and a 'P' tool later."
"The finished product!"
Oh John, spare time is grand, isn't it?!  I am so glad our tax dollars are going to a good education through state funding for you!  By the way....nice view, man!  And a damned fine job on that chair!!  Remember the stump chair I carved with a chain saw when you where younger.....yours puts mine to shame!