A few foundational points:
1. I believe in preparedness, sort of. That is, I believe that there are things that it can’t possibly hurt to learn, so when you get a chance, why not go for it? For example, I have never heard of anyone saying, “Man, I wish I didn’t know any easy and convenient ways for preserving the summer’s fruity bounty”.
2. My father was a Navy man (U.S.S. Pine Island, baybee!). This never really impressed me much as a kid–it was just a fact about Dad, right in there with “he was tall” and “he had a lot of tools”–but it finally occurred to me to be proud of this fact when the Navy flag flew at his funeral and the nice young men in their crisp uniforms played “Taps” and presented Mom with a flag. They gave the “on behalf of a grateful nation” speech, too, which just underscored it all for me, though to be honest, I only halfway heard it because I was pretty busy being struck by how incredibly young they were and trying very hard not to lose my mind in front of someone’s baby boy in a sailor uniform. But I digress.
3. I am all for being a kind, generous, giving human being. This is doubly true when doing so doesn’t actually require much effort, which sounds a lot worse out loud than it does in my head. Basically, I reckon that taking an extra minute to do something kind for someone else is a wonderful thing; but there’s a line between “being a nice person” and “being a martyr”, and nobody likes a martyr. So, y’know, do what you can with what you’re given; but going insanely far out of your way ends up being more of an ego thing than I’m really ok with. More on that some other time, I think.
So with those bits in mind, I’m dehydrating things again today. The weatherpeople say we’re in for another run of hot temperatures–not quite as cinematically shimmery-hot as it’s been in recent weeks, but mighty hot nonetheless, and I figure I may as well keep putting the sun to use while it’s volunteering for it.
Today, then, I’m making fruit leather (the apple pie-flavored kind is on the deck, drying as we speak, and will be joined by some vanilla-pear leather once I get up from this computer and go put it together). I’m following a recipe I found on LoveUMadly (via Pinterest); and I have a great deal of faith that it will turn out beautifully.
I’ve also got some strawberries in the oven–another Pinterest find, this one coming from The Worldwide Gourmet. The recipe calls for salt and pepper on ’em, which I find intriguing; I guess we’ll know in a few hours how that one turns out.
And the reason I’m doing all this dehydrating is threefold: 1. It can’t possibly hurt to know how; 2. Dad was in the Navy; and 3. I’m all for being a nice person, especially if it’s going to be all easy and convenient to do so.
Oh, and a fourth reason: a friend (and former coworker) of mine is on a ship in the middle of the ocean.
I’ll admit: it’s taken a while for me to be ok with having a loved one in the military. I’ve had family members who have enlisted, and while officially Supporting Their Life Choices, there’s always been that little part of me that has jumped straight to “eww military guns war bad bad” and decided not to think about it any more. And while that kneejerk reaction is still there–and honestly, I have no real desire to quash it–I’ve made my peace with the knowledge that whether or not I’m delighted about the Armed Forces as a concept, I can at least be grateful that there are people who have volunteered to be the People Who Handle It When the Proverbial Excrement Hits the Proverbial Fan. If one day we wake up and things have started going very, very badly, it is not going to be my problem to go solve it, because someone else has already signed up for that task, and got a jump start on learning the relevant skills. Someone else has said, “Sure, I’ll go where the shooting is, so you don’t have to”. Someone else has said, “I mostly want to sail around the world and see interesting places, but I’m ok with that possibly turning into an exceedingly dangerous plan, so you just chill at home and live your life, ’cause I’ve got this”.
And when I think about it that way–as human beings volunteering to, at the very least, have their lives wildly inconvenienced for a while (and at worst, having their lives ended altogether) so that I’ll never have to do a damned thing except hang out in Kansas and complain about Congress–then it occurs to me that since I’ve got all this free time on my hands anyway, and I’m kinda interested in learning how to dry fruit anyway, then the least I can ruddy well do is dry some extra to send to my dear friend on the ship in the middle of nowhere. I mean, really.
So I’ve dried an extra pint of Bing cherries (one of his favorites), and I’m making some extra fruit leather and dried strawberries, and I’m making cakes in jars (more on that in a future post, I promise–it really does deserve a post to itself), and I’m making a trip to the Post Office every so often, a whopping 3 minutes from our house, to send goodie boxes to my friend. And since I know amazing people, I’ve got some folks lined up who also want to send goodie boxes, so I’m having my friend gather the names of some shipmates who never get goodie boxes so we can get some love headed their way.
Because y’know, at the end of the day, I’m dehydrating things anyway, so it’s not like this is some huge sacrifice; and I go to the Post Office anyway, so tossing some things in a box and taking ’em with me isn’t exactly the most inconvenient thing in the history of humanity; and since there are some nice people out there who are wildly inconveniencing themselves so that I can keep on being a lazy Buffalo, then the least I can do is send ’em the occasional prezzie in the mail.
I like to think that Dad got lots of care packages while he was in the Navy. And I like to think that they made his day a little brighter, knowing that someone out there cared about him specifically.
And if not, I like to think that in some small way, I’m atoning for that now.