Friday, September 02, 2016

Diamonds, Grapes, Kitties, and Such Like

How does this color of grapes produce that color of juice?

After a week of misery, my gallbladder calmed down and I was able to help out and speak at Diamonds In The Dust, our church's first ladies' retreat.  The retreat was mostly Zelma Baker's idea.  She is a great organizer and delegater, but she really wanted me present-- because she doesn't like to talk up front, I think. Or else because she had this delusion that I know how to put on a retreat because I've been to so many.

Fact: showing up to talk is a very different operation from organizing an event from the ground up.

So Zelma said she had been reminding the Lord that I need to be well enough to be there--in case He forgot.
Zelma is standing over there, with the white sweater, facing this way.

Well.  He didn't and I was, and it was a good good day, with lots of hard but redemptive stories shared and also a lot of tears, which is a good thing when it's empathetic "Oh Sister, I feel for you," tears.

And the food!  Baked goods and yogurt in the morning, then for lunch chicken salad on croissants, other salads of subtle spice and flavor, desserts on multi-level plates.  It looked delectable.  I ate lettuce, since I am on a low-fat diet to keep my gallbladder happy.

Aunt Susie welcomed people and got them all registered.
Speaking of, I am planning to have surgery.  I prayed about this.  After I posted my exhaustion with advice and remedies, most people were very nervous about saying anything, but I still heard a lot of stories and cautions.  I tend to blow with the winds and agree with whoever I talked to last, so I told God to tell Paul what I'm supposed to do, and I'll do what he says.

Paul said he doesn't want me to ever endure another gallstone attack, and he doesn't want me to try home remedies and then be all worried about a flareup if we go visit Amy in Thailand or I have a speaking event coming up.

All right then.

My dad is still here but will be back in Minnesota before I have surgery.  He keeps busy picking my grapes, writing letters, and reading.

Dad's new book is selling well.  I put it on Amazon as a Kindle book and it's selling better than my books.  That is a strange sensation when you are an author with fragile self-esteem and you track the Amazon rankings and your dad is doing way way better than you.

Next thing someone will ask him to speak at a ladies' retreat.

What is it with fruit this year? The blackberries were prolific, the strawberries were plentiful, and my grapevines went completely crazy, twining clear around the lilac bush and producing hundreds of thick clusters of grapes.

Most of them are the green kind that are meant for eating.  They aren't like grapes from the store that you bite into.  Rather, you hold one up to your lips, pop the slippery inside into your mouth, and drop the outside peel on the kitchen counter.  Or that's how some folks in this house do it.

There are way way more grapes than we'll eat, so Dad has been picking them and I steam them and can the juice.

He is very happy about this task.  I am happy about grape juice, but every time he comes in with two more brimming buckets I have the sense of large waves about to swamp my canoe.

"Dess iss usht 'the tip of the iceberg!'" he yelled a few days ago, hauling in two buckets' worth.

On Tuesday night, when I was making supper and getting ready for Diamonds in the Dust the next day, Dad lost his glasses.  He thought they fell out of his pocket when he was picking grapes.

Have you ever looked for a pair of glasses in a tangle of grapevines and grass?

Each of us went out at least once and carefully separated vines, patted around, bent down and looked up.

Finally on my second or third try, there they were, hidden in a clump of grass under a sweep of vine.

I was very thankful.

On Wednesday I canned 5 jars of juice, went to the ladies' retreat all day, and came home and canned more.

Yesterday Dad kept hauling in buckets full, resting, and going out for more.

Finally I said, "Vee feel fon de grapes denksht sin faddich??"
He said, "Ich glaub ich bin bissell ivvah de helft."

[How many of the grapes do you think are done?
I think I'm a little over half.]

As you can see, I have been digging in back corners for more jars.  I'm almost ready to go borrow vessels not a few from the neighbors.

Last night I was very tired.

But we have lots of grape juice to keep the wolf from the door this winter.

In other news, a stray cat came by a few months ago.  The kids named him Herbie Furbie, and while he was brave enough to come sneaking by for food after the other cats were done eating, he was also very nervous and would run off when we tried to befriend him or pick him up.

But he must have decided we were trustworthy people, because he had a batch of kittens under the porch.

This is so typical of how our life goes.

Quote of the Day:
Me: Hosht du all my grape juice ksenna??
Dad: Ya ich hop.  Ich vayss net vee du alles geh-du gdicksht, avvah du dusht!
Me: [faint...because Dad is not one to give compliments, and compared to Mom I am a serious slacker.]

Translation--Did you see all my grape juice?
Yes I did.  I don't know how you get everything done, but you do.


  1. We had a cat named Tom whom neighbors left when they moved. Maybe because they knew Tom was not a Tom at all and was about to multiply!

    The biggest compliment my Dad ever gave me was to go to sleep while I was driving about 10 years ago.

  2. Hello, I found your blog through somewhere...I forget. Is there a way to follow it so notices come in the email? I could not find a spot to enter my email.

    True story... a couple years ago my husband found a mewing box on the doorstep of his woodworking shop. It had 3 kittens in it, newly born, wrapped up warm, but still abandoned. He took the box up our road where my daughter and her husband, a veterinarian, live. He examined the kitties, they were healthy but hungry. My daughter went out and got some fresh goat milk for them. There was a tracking label on the box from a mail order delivery! My husband, daughter and son in law grabbed the kitties up and drove about a mile away and knocked on the door. They knew they were in the right place due to a loudly crying cat who became even louder when she heard her kittens. The lady of the house was crying too...her husband had dropped off the kittens on his way to work and she had no car. It turned out they knew that Theo was a vet and hoped for the best for the kittens with adoption. They could not afford to keep the kittens. She was convinced to keep the kittens till they were weaned and ready to leave and her husband agreed by cell phone call...we would take them if homes weren't found. Theo also gave her a letter to use to bring into his office so she could get the mother cat spayed as soon as possible. She did. The kittens all got homes and subsequent "fixing". My daughter and her family kept one of them that they call LF...L and F for lost and found.

    Sorry to make such a long story first off.

    Those grapes look wonderful. How nice your father is there to help you. He is 92 you said? We have the concord grapes on our property. They make delicious jelly. Definitely get the gallbladder done. My sister ended up in the hospital for 3 days with the acute pancreatitis due to gall stones blocking the duct. Once the pancreatitis cleared enough they took her gallbladder out by 3 little holes. She was able to go home the next day.

  3. Oh please teach your Dad how to make grape juice and go take a long nap!

  4. Thanks for your cat stories!
    Athanasia--my Feedblitz disappeared so there's no way to click on my blog to get it by email. However, if you sign up for a feed, like Bloglovin', you can tell them to send new posts to you.
    Dad is actually 99. And grape jelly! I should make some tomorrow.
    Sheri--I will take the last part of your advice but not the first, as making juice involves boiling water, steam, heavy kettles, and fierce heat. But resting--yes, I will.

  5. I do hope you get some rest soon... I tend to struggle with resting, though, so I know it can be easier said than done.

    As a nursing mom of twins, every picture or live scene of a nursing animals floods me with all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings. (Hence, I love the cat picture.) Hormones are a funny thing. :)

  6. Aww, I love your Dad's compliment to you!!
    If you get overwhelmed with grapes, you could always send a message around to some of the younger women in your church who might want some grapes and don't grow them.
    I know I'm glad when people with prolific gardens give me stuff free for the picking.
    And about grape jelly? The low-sugar freezer stuff is really fast and easy! That's the route I went this year when I was overwhelmed with my grapes.