Sunday, March 29, 2009

I was thinking about this last night, and wanted to share. Some folks believe gun owners are crazy and waiting for an opportunity to go all "wild west" on bad guys. Not true. Gun owners believe they have the right to defend themselves against people who would try to take their life, or harm their children. They also believe that gun ownership and responsibility for their own actions is a way of life.

Unfortunately, as with any kind of ownership, there is negligence. I hope my post will be read by someone who perhaps isn't as quite familiar with guns, and they may be educated a bit.

What I was thinking last night:

1. Always treat each gun like it is loaded
2. When pointing a gun, realize that whatever you point it at could be destroyed
3. It may be cool on the movies to have your finger on the trigger, but in real life, only put it there when you are planning on firing. See #2
4. Don't keep one in the chamber. The sound of a racking slide will make any burglar/rapist/murderer stop in his tracks
5. Teach your children that guns are tools, and never toys.
6. Secure your guns and ammo.

-Jay

Thursday, March 26, 2009

For Luann:

We relations pressed into a room at Bountiful
each of us hopeful and expectant, seated together, silent
for this grand day which had come at last, at last!

All waited, hushed, 'till you and your husband to be
came through the doors and sat together, still
our faces all shining, a reflection of your matched pair

Then the sealer, kind gentleman that he was, smiled and
spoke words then of hope and fidelity, love and faith,
his gentle humor shared, the bright badge of the Master

I attended closely, trying to recall my own wedding~
and failing that, realized words from mine were not dissimilar
God is not a respecter of persons, he loves equally

If the words spoken then were new strangers to my ears
then the tenor was the same, twin in their proposal
love and hope and being, family and progress, joy!

I could not help but be prick'd then, thinking of clan--
those who have passed this veil of life into the next--
they were attendant and interested, affections vested in all of us.

And God gives us a gift, this memory, a quiet fire within
banked against the winds, mounded coals cherry red
that when we are chilled form the buffeting of daily life

we can uncover the dirt, revealing the still-burning brand
anamnesis to the unquenchable love of God, perpetual gift!
For He considers the lilies, and He will not forget you.

Heaven's peoples smiled when you were wed and
a star danced in the heavens for you oh daughter of God!
brother and sister, father and mother, parent and child

on and on our family stretches, out beyond the horizon
the line where earth meets aether, shore meets sky
one by one, each person singular to God, till all are home.

-Jay
3/26/09

Friday, March 20, 2009

Variation on a Theme of Albinoni

I bid adieu to winter, a new equinox
no epoch here, no paradigm
lo instead a subtle shift uncovered!

I greet this balance, holding equanimity
my own hands, a Galielean thermometer
globes and disks, colors on the rise!

How buoyant, and newly resurrected
a coin fresh minted, new hid by God
sharp shining face, oh brazen trumpet!

The old skin has been sloughed off
so snakelike, tugging, split at the mouth
opalescent pearls, moonstones for eyes!

And yet so changed, slight and impying
these eggs and stones, life and death
whisper of breath, the rattle of mortality!

The wheel is queueing, rank and column
a house my own, the one next door to mine
To life and canon, to life and continuum!

-Jay
3/20/09

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Favorites as of late:

Dark denim
Baked potatoes
Jalapeno jelly
The sound of the birds through my open windows!
Reading books from my childhood and still liking them (The Freedom Factor & The Alliance by Gerald Lund)
Removing that second quilt from my bed
Catching up with old and lost to me friends on Facebook


Old favorites:

The sound of my motorcycle idling
Snuggling and playing with my kids
Hanging out with my sister Beth
Witnessing the miracle of life in my spouses swelling belly
Introducing holidays to the young (St Pats today, new shirts and pinches for the kids)

-Jay

Spring Before the Proper Time

Buds heavy and thick
adorn branches in the sun
each hoping anew

-Jay
3/17/09

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I started this blog entry with a complete and utter apoplectic rant in mind.

Instead I find myself deleting the ugly words and replacing them with a strange sense of hope.

Through the haze of economic uncertainty at work, regardless of all the the obfuscation laws dealing with 2nd ammendment rights in legislation, despite the destruction of war, famine, earthquake and flood, and even the intolerance and double standards people show, I have a strange spring welling up in me. Why?

I hope in the word of God!

I hope that despite everything man does, that His words are true!

I have faith that there is more to life, that man has a spirit which will be resurercted with his body, that families matter to God and will be reunited!

Ultimately I have hope knowing that I see through glass darkly now, but soon face-to-face!

And for that I find my rants to be small and meaningless in the overarching greatness of God's love for me.

Thank you, Heavenly Father for thy love for mankind and for me. I am humbled, and I tun to thee instead of to anger.

-Jay

Friday, March 06, 2009

Robin

the natives have returned home again
snuck in 'tween last night's storms
each lurk and I feel their presence full around

perched four and five to a tree--exhausted
each in turn huddling and staring at me sullenly
cloacas voiding alien fruit (in concert) to the ground

too tired to squabble over fields, nests,
these are friends still, comrades even, from
those thousand miles traveled in ropey strands

long winter was spent far far from here
in a clime that rarely feels the hoar, the bite,
all that pulmule vouchsafed in foreign lands

and lo, I'm hit with vertigo (and swimming thoughts)
as I struggle comprehending the marching time
the millennia and interval passed in these pinioned friends

Prodigals! keen senses abraded, still smarting and raw
what compulsion to survive and to live!
new life thru perpetual wing'ed ships and ceaseless ends

-Jay

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Untitled Haiku III

Driving home tonight
fog filled streets, empty as tombs
panegryzed by snow

-Jay

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Nameless Haiku II:

empty plate still fork
dinner table silent now
how laughter once rang!

-Jay
Nameless Haiku:

old pale potted plant
sunlight forgotten now back
again hope for spring

-Jay

Monday, March 02, 2009

Pressure Canning Made Easy!

Hey all, I just want to being you up to date with what we've been doing lately.

Melissa has been pressure canning chicken breast and pinto beans this past week. If you don't know what that means it's basically pressure cooking food, but in bottles. I grew up with my mom doing this to put food by, but it's been surpirsingly revealing to follow the process while Melissa has been doing it. There are aspects of this neat trick which I missed completely as a child.

If you are interested in doing this, I need to encourage you to seek out a mentor. Ask someone who has done it before for some tips and tricks. Hopefully the person who you are asking will not mind fifteen phone calls to verify stuff, including the very real possibility of one or two close to midnight, because you took too damn long and still have a lot to do before bed. If that has you a bit deterred, there are books at the library on the subject, and there are a whole slew of websites with printable materials.

Melissa canned chicken. It doesn't need to be refrigerated. Now before you get all grossed out, realize she doesn't have to use ANY preservatives, and the taste of the chicken is pretty amazing because of that. If you have ever bought chicken from the store, you know the kind, it can have a strange aftertaste. Not this stuff! She purposely leaves the chicken bland (only chicken, 1 tsp of salt, and water); that way we can make whatever we want with the end product, only limited by our imagination. On Friday, she made chicken salad sandwiches (the pressure canned chicken, walnuts, grapes--yum!). We have also eaten the same stuff over at my sister Anna's--she made enchiladas with chicken and beans, both which she had put by. Didn't tell us all it had been pressure canned until we were raving about how tasty the dinner had been. It was like one of those "reveal" commercials on TV.

To make this neat trick happen, Melissa adds a teaspoon of salt, the filleted chicken breasts, and water (filled up to about an inch from the top of the jar). Then she adds a lid, twists on the ring, and puts it in the cooker. Next she adds 2 quarts of water to the pressure canner (in our case a borrowed 32 quart Mirro, compliments of my mom). You may want to add more, but you really don't need that much. The pressure and heat are what cooks the meat and seals the lid. Don't give in to your traditional thinking here, it will just waste time.

The next step is to get some pressure going. Put the lid on, and lock it in to place. You don't put the cool little round doo-dad in place quite yet. This little whatsit is the pressure regulator, and in the case of my mom's Mirro, it has 3 pressure settings--5, 10, and 15 lbs. The round pressure regulator rattles and ensures the pressure stays at the required setting, venting off all steam i excess of the pressure setting (this sound brings back many memories of my mom, slaving over a hot stove during late summer and early autumn evenings). Put the heat on high and wait for steam to start and escape from the nozzle, then look at the round pressure regulator. Find the 10 stamped on the side and place the corresponding cutout on the nozzle.

Before I go any further, I suspect this is where most of you would typically interject a story. Something about how your blue-haired Aunt Zina once killed an invading army with her pressure cooker. Most of that is hog wash. It is true you can spray boiling hot water all over the place if you try and open a pressurized cooker when it is in the thrall of a rolling boil. Ouch! But if you use common sense, and allow the cooker to (slowly) fully release the pressure, you will be just fine. Aunt Zina's H-Bomb need not apply to our scenario.

For beans, the prep work is a bit different. Since we're talking about dried beans here, we add only 1 & 1/3 cup of the dried stuff to a quart jar. The same teaspoon of salt applies, and we keep it simple for the same reasons. The water fills up the rest of the void, and believe me those little beans are thirsty! If you do add too many beans, the pressure of them swelling will rupture the bottles, the expansion too great for the glass to handle.

Coincidentally, both chicken and beans require 90 minutes to become fully cooked.

The great thing about this is that Melissa and I eat all our food which we put by, never bottling anything strange or exotic (malted toucan fricassee anyone?). Instead we bottle things we know we will be using in our recipes--again, the main reason for the bland nature of the bottling recipe.

Hopefully this post has taken away some of the mystery of canning and bottling, enough so you will want to try and supplement your weekly shopping with some products you can prepare yourself. We estimate the cost of the beans is a 30-45 cent savings over the best priced generic brand beans (and I have seen them go for as much as 99 cents a can, depending). Our beans cost 5-10 cents to bottle. Now, the huge caveat I must mention is that canning/bottling can be a fairly significant initial investment. The canners run approximately $120, the bottles, if new are close to $20 a dozen, and then of course the lids and rings are on top of that. If you can borrow a canner, and find Ball/Mason/Kerr/Atlas jars at a yard sale, DO IT. I am fairly certain some of these jars we are using are 50+ years old (some show dates stamped on the bottom). The glass containers do not spoil or go bad (in other words, don't throw them out!).

Finally, a handy table for food precessing times can be found here

-Jay