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October 17, 2004: Jelly, and kitten therapy

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Today started far too early for me, especially since we were up late going to a movie last night. But I wasnít about to miss practice, no matter how badly I wished I could just stay in bed. So instead I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed and zipped off to go scrounge up some breakfast and some coffee, and then joined the other early birds at the church for our monthly recorder ensemble practice time. That was followed by practice for the instrumental ensemble, and then church, and it was only by the time the service was mostly over that I felt as if all the caffeine had finally kicked in.

This afternoon I headed back to the church, but this time to make use of the nice big kitchen, especially the nice big six-burner stove. We had a slightly smaller group this year for the jelly making, but it turned out that four was the perfect number. And having all the pomegranates pre-juiced made such a big difference.

As it was it took us three hours to make all the jelly, and we were busy that entire time. We had two huge pots in the back to sterilize jars and give finished jars the required water bath. On the front burners we kept two batches of jelly, rotating things around as timing required. Occasionally someone would come in to see how (and what) we were doing, but mostly it was just the four of us, talking, laughing, making jelly, and generally having a wonderful time.

Itís a funny thing about cooking and baking and canning. Thereís something very soothing about the process of making things Ė especially pretty things like jelly. And to be able to do it with friends is even better. We talked about other jelly possibilities and decided to try to organize another weekend of jelly production (although this time something slightly less time intensive than pomegranates!). Iíve been toying with the idea of trying to whip up a batch of spiced apple jelly at home, just for Richard and me, but doing it with friends sounds like much more fun.

We made 62 jars of jelly this year Ė about 2 batches more than last year, I think Ė and stacked them all in a cupboard at the church. Later on weíll add labels and decorative tops and price tags and feel that sense of accomplishment when every single jar is sold at the holiday bazaar. Itís a long and tedious process but once itís done thereís this strange little feeling of euphoria that makes us just want to do it again.

After the jelly making, Richard and I followed one of our friends back to her momís house, because her mom has five little foster babies. After everything thatís happened the last few weeks with our cats, I was in desperate need of some kitten therapy, and her mom knew that. So she let us in and we sat on the floor of the kitchen and played with babies.

Oh, they are just so precious. Four of them are all thick furred - two white with tabby patches, one white with calico patches, one little black baby with white toes and white whiskers. The fifth is a scrappy little dilute tortie who feels that the best way to absorb enough food is to stand directly *in* the plate and squish as much as possible between her little toes while eating.

It's impossible to be sad when you are being used as a jungle gym by five little fuzzy balls of pure whiskery cute, especially when those little tykes have *just* gotten enough coordination to figure out how to pounce and skitter. I just wanted to stick them all into my pocket and take them home with me so I can take them out any time I need more kitten therapy. There's just something about tiny babies that makes everything seem okay again.

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