Jam On

My ankle is still fragile, so I’m wearing my hiking boots in the kitchen.  I’m wearing my brown pioneer skirt, too, so I look like Granny Clampett.


The Bearded One is out in the shed working on the spoon he had just started when he succumbed to the flu two weeks ago.  We are both so happy in our little lives we can hardly stand it.


I’ve got six months to make 220 little jars of jam, one for each guest at our oldest daughter’s wedding on August 24.  Can I do it?  I’ve got to get my jam on.


This wonderful wedding jam job has given my garden a focus, too.  I’m filling the Circle Garden with strawberries and blueberries and rhubarb.  I’ll transplant the strawberries from the hoophouse this week, making room to seed it with spring radishes, lettuces, broccoli and cabbage.

Spoon and goats 006

Right now, though, I’m warming up my jamming chops, making a few pints with frozen berries, and reflecting.  Spinning, really, with the speed and intensity of our grown children’s lives, and our role in them.

First there’s our youngest daughter bursting into hysterical tears in our driveway on Thursday morning.  I see her anguish, her night nurse fatigue after four 12-hour shifts.  “It’s the first rule we learned in nursing school!” she wails as I hug her thin chest.  “Don’t trust anyone!”

She’s no longer 26-years-old, she’s my little girl and I listen to her story of work frustration and get her to the hot tub and cheer her up by modeling a few of the many silky tops available to her from the huge bag of Goodwill clothes our lovely neighbor Edeltraut gave us.


She scowls and shakes her head over and over, but then I hold up the cutest one yet.  “That’s so 2002,” she says sourly, and then begins to smile and adds, “This is fun.”

Then I answer the phone on Sunday morning when our 21-year-old son calls.  His voice is so pained, my breath catches when I hear it.  “We were robbed,” he says.  “My bass and amp and guitar and effects pedals, the ones I got for Christmas, all stolen.”

I cry out and the Bearded One rushes to the phone.  No one was hurt.  Our son was jamming with his roommates and a few other friends late Saturday night.  He had gone to bed at 1:30am and left the instruments in the rec room, and when he got up, they were gone.  He feels like puking.  He slept right through it.  The thief was probably someone at the party.  The Bearded One counsels him out of the chaos and shock toward all the responsible citizen stuff he’ll need to address quickly.

Just a month ago, our son was playing that bass right here in front of the woodstove.

New Years 2013 022

Since then, his cover band booked its first gig, a sorority event on March 14.  And now this.

Our oldest daughter is here when our son calls with the news.  She watches the Bearded One handle the crisis after I go off to weep.  Later, at dinner, she says to the Bearded One, “So, there’s this friend who’s getting a divorce, and he says that I should marry someone I have a lot in common with.”

The Bearded One says, “I know you’re not asking for advice, but that’s horsesh*t.  Just plain dumb.”

Our daughter laughs and says that’s exactly what her fiance says, too.  She and her dearest are wildly different people, as are the Bearded One and I.  Matchmakers wouldn’t give us very good odds, but life isn’t a smooth race and our differences have helped us more than hurt.

When the Bearded One comes in for a late burrito lunch, I’m just taking the second and last batch of jars out of the canner.  He says he’s been sanding for hours.


The spoon is indeed much smaller than the baseball bat he started with.  It’s lovely.

Spoon and goats 003

He tells me that it is made completely with hand tools, and that the madrona wood is harder than he expected.  He carefully places the unfinished spoon on the kitchen table next to his plate.


We’re eating and talking about spoon craft when our son calls and tells us about what the police said — that they’re checking videos at key intersections close to the house, finding and questioning the one unknown visitor to the party, and sending the bass serial number out to pawn shops in the area.


“Are you okay?” I ask.

“There’s lots of guitars in the world, Mom,” he says.  “We’re still practicing tonight.”

“All right,” I say.  “Jam on.”


8 responses to “Jam On

  1. LOL! I have a Granny Clampett vision in my head as I read this post :). That spoon looks HUGE! Steve is having a spoon crisis at the moment. He is a typical Aquarius and found that he was starting to fall into making the same spoon over and over again…he is too creative to be stiffled by “sameness” so he made a few interesting thinner spoons and yesterday he had the idea to make me a spoon for valentine’s day (even though we don’t celebrate it…why would we need to? EVERY day is valentine’s day 🙂 ) and decided to get creative and cut it across the grain (despite knowing that it would be weaker) to get an interesting look BUT it broke and he decided to take a brief hiatus from spoon making for the moment. What a beautiful idea Christi! A little jar of Farmlet jam for every guest 🙂 (thats a LOT of guests!!!). A tiny taste of your fantastic fruity favours…how do you get on that guest list? (Do facebook friends count? 😉 ).
    I saw a post for making wedding favours out of seeds yesterday. It was a tutorial for seed bombs using wildflower seeds from the local area and each guest got one to do with what they liked. Even if they tossed it out of the car window on the way home, the world would be a better place for it :).
    THE HOOPHOUSE! Oh how I have missed it! It was the very first moment that I realised that I absolutely positively HAD to read every one of your posts from then on :). Still looking amazing and soon full of delicious things for your table. Aint gardening grand? 🙂
    Christi that is TERRIBLE about your son’s equipment and instrument :(. Steve would go mad if anyone stole his number 1 squire :(. My daughter has a nice bass and a semi accoustic bass and amp that she doesn’t even use (Steve bought them for her when she showed an interest). If we weren’t penniless hippies I would send them to your son, I know how deeply it would hurt losing your souls music like that 😦
    The B.O. is absolutely right. The more you have in common, the more bored you get! It takes differences of opinion to grow and learn to understand someone elses opinion and remember the old rule of the magnet? Like repels like…the chance to understand someone who is coming from completely the opposite side of the equation is a rare and precious one and will make you a better and more rounded (hopefully not literally! 😉 ) person in the end :). At the very least your fights will be interesting! 😉
    I know how hardy Madrona (Arbutus unedo) is and I know that it grows with very little water and anything like that is going to be tough. Steve had the very same thing with a piece of Texan Osange Orange wood that he managed to buy from a local man who was moving (into making pens) and who wanted to offload some of his blanks. They were ideal for spoons but the blank is still laying in the shed because it was so hard Steve couldn’t even rasp it and power tools simply didn’t cut it! Talk about hard wood! I think ebony would be soft compared to that Texan toughness 😉
    It sounds like the B.O. is learning the same lessons that Steve is…the touch, the processes, the slow evolving beauty from inside the wood and most importantly, the moment when you put a little bit of yourself into that spoon and you don’t want to put it down or leave it for long till it is finished. Steve brings his spoons inside and spends hours sanding the bowls down with different gauges of sandpaper…there are little bits of sandpaper all over the place (Steve is a messy bugger!)…I wander around sighing and collecting them up and walking out to the shed to put them into his sandpaper bowl…I have to make extra specially careful that I empty out his pockets before I wash because they are always full of old bolts, bits of sandpaper and sweet wrappers ;)…he is like Earl…a little bit feral but that’s what makes them all the more desirable isn’t it? ;).
    A crisis always brings out the solidarity in a family. No matter how we deal with it, eventually it comes full circle and becomes something that we used to feel. Your son will ensure he NEVER leaves his equipment unattended now. A hard lesson to learn and someone else out there will be learning their own hard lessons from their theivery. Whether they are caught or not, nothing good ever comes of taking something that doesn’t belong to you. I hope your ankle gets better soon and that your slow progression of jam making goes smoothly and steadily…each pot emerging from the processes a stolid reminder that you are what you are…Granny Clampett from the Farmlet! (Fran ducks and runs while she is laughing! 😉 ).

    • Wow, Fran, where to begin?! Thanks for the luscious comment. 🙂 The Bearded One has whittled much more on the spoon since that photo. It’s about the size now of the smaller of the two you sent us. It is a sturdy, curvy spoon, and I’ll post another picture soon. Hm. Sorry to hear about Steve’s Same Spoon Crisis. Perhaps after the sting of the single failed cross-cut spoon fades, he will happily return to his Subject. Spoons seem archetypal, you know? Very feminine, endlessly varied and sized, and they predate forks by thousands of years! …. Granny Clampetts. 🙂 All of Steve’s spoons are unique! Oh, and it did feel GOOD to be out in the hoophouse.

      • 🙂 I can’t wait to see the B.O’s spoon! I am excited :). I love other people’s creativity because unlike your own, you can really appreciate it :). Steve is out on the river fishing. He looked at the water and decided that it was time to release his inner fisherman again and so he hitched up the Mumbley Cumumbus to the 4 x 4 and headed out the gate. The boat ramp is only 500m away from our front gate (we should put one in just over the road 😉 ) so he was out pootling in no time. He knows that the fish are biting because he was watching a friend out in his boat trawling around Redwood island with his binoculars and so decided to join him in the hunt :). I adore your hoop house. It is customised beauty in a simple gorgeous completely sustainable package. I remember the first time that I saw it and I actually saved the picture and yelled out to Steve “We could do this!!!!”… you inspired me then and I hadn’t even met you yet :). Well done on the new FB page by the way, I am following it now and it’s a good way to get to see more photos of what you are up to etc. It’s much quicker to load things to FB than wordpress! We have 4 – 5 days of hot Hot HOT here and so we took some of that mulch that we got yesterday and watered our front (under deck) garden and mulched it with damp mulch heavily. At least one garden will survive! We will do the exposed soil along the driveway garden tomorrow and around the corner into the side garden. We WILL triumph! :). You have to be positive. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about so its “Positive all the way boys!” 🙂

  2. Now that’s what I call a jam session. Sorry to hear about the megatheft, that’s tough on him, but the kids are right: trust is earned, not just handed out. In order to really pull off Granny, of course, you will have to modulate your voice so that when you yell, it sounds like someone tearing up brand-new bedsheets. One quick question: isn’t madrona toxic on some level? I do not know precisely but that old log if floating up from the recesses of my mind.

    Always love Farmlet.

    • Thanks for the kudos, J.K., and I’ve just spent the last fifteen minutes researching madrona wood’s toxicity, a great question. It’s not toxic. The berries are edible but astringent. People confuse it with some kind of dogwood, one article says, and that’s why the toxicity rap floats around it. The Salish used the bark and leaves in medicines to treat stomach problems, tuberculosis, and as the basis for contraceptives! Who knew? There’s so much for this witchy Granny to learn….:)

      • Wow. Then hey, maybe it’s good for you! I wasn’t sure, but I figured I better put up the yellow flag just in case. That’s a lot of hard work making that spoon.

  3. Christine Widman

    Our youngest son had his apartment robbed once. So I understand that voice of pain over the phone. The police were able to recover at least his stolen camera because of the serial number and then found the burglar who had taken the camera to a pawn shop.
    Oh Christi…it is important to jam on, isn’t it.
    Life and work and family. As full and sweet and luscious as fresh made jam and also filled with the labor of it and always the possibility of it coming unsealed.
    It’s so very good that our adult kids have us and our places of retreat to turn to.

    • Unsealed!! Yikes, don’t even say it! 🙂 If you’ll recall, I once had a Jamageddon and had to dump 60 jars of jam because I was trying to get rid of fruit float by shaking the jars a bit before the jam cooled into unsightly layers…only to end up contaminating the seals! Ug. I’m almost over it, but disasters like that have a half-life, you know…they never COMPLETELY go away! But, happily, they do fade, as does the pain of loss. Love to Denny and you both on this Valentine’s Day. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s