Monday, September 10, 2012

When the weather is fickle...

which it was this weekend, i decided against sailing. I wanted to go, and in retrospect could have done so without getting rained upon, but the partly cloudy and chance of showers forecast was just cloudy enough and just threatening enough that sailing seemed a daft idea. Saturday night, we had loads of wind with gusts approaching probably 60 mph (~96 km/hr) and before those big gusts at night, the wind kicked up enough that there was surf. Since i'm very much in the pleasure boating phase of my sailing life, that didn't appeal to me. And, i need to get a new batten for the mainsail, as one of them has gone missing. It must've been when Himself and i went out, and i was busily trying to furl the mainsail while Himself steered, or as from my point of view on the bow when i was taking down the jib, getting Dangerously Close to Other Objects.

Battens are long, slender bits of plastic that slide into handy little pockets along the part of my mainsail sail not attached to the mast (aka leech). Wikipedia shows a picture, but it has the batten line drawn too far across for my sail. The battens help keep the edge of flapping so it improves aerodynamics. Actually, the writing below the picture explains the roach--those of us who may have been potheads will undoubtedly have a different image floating in our brains...

The mainsail on my boat doesn't have such a defined roach, but the battens are there all the same.

The picture from Wikipedia (

I've a feeling a hole developed in the pocket's end, and while i was trying to furl the mainsail and direct Himself, as he was getting a little antsy about not seeing as much as before we lowered the main, that the batten slipped through the hole and caught enough breeze to go overboard. Himself wouldn't know to look for that, and i wouldn't, either. Hindsight being the wonderful gift it is, i can now add it to "things i also need to consider." That list has grown quite long.

SFB and i went sailing the weekend before this last one, which is when he said how that flapping or luffing shouldn't be, as it looked amateurish, and he was the one to discover the missing batten. So, it bothered his sensibilities, but not enough for us to stop sailing. We were trying to figure out when it occurred and the best i could figure was when Himself and i went.

The sailing season is fast coming to a close here, but i'd like to go until the end of September, and well, i need a batten so i decided i ought to go to the marine store on Sunday to pick up another. The weather was still that partly cloudy/will clear off but it took a long time clearing off.

I decided i'd be more productive at home canning tomatoes and doing some bits of cleaning around the house. If i went to the marine store, well, i'd just dawdle and not get much done. After canning the tomatoes, i dawdled. I also misjudged the yield i'd get from the 20 lbs of tomatoes i picked up.

I had canned some in 2010 and got two small boxes worth. Each box was a peck, so i had a half bushel, and canned quarts and pints. Yes, i wrote down how much, but can be buggered if i can find that piece of paper. This time around, the farmer had
10-lb boxes, but i wasn't sure how that compared to pecks. Two of the 10-lb boxes looked about right, and doubting myself after i brought them home, i went looking for answers. I found 14 lbs is 9 pints. Okay, so by using Algebra, 20 lbs would give me nearly 13 pints, and allowing for waste, a dozen pints would be adequate. Only i ended up with 18 pints. Not a bad problem to have, and i was glad to have had enough pint jars on hand and lids and screw tops. I had decided the 18th wasn't worth processing since i'd have to process it all by its lonesome (my canner has a rack for 7 bottles per load, and i didn't realize i'd need that seventh spot plus until after i'd processed the first dozen), and it was mostly juice since i smoosh the tomatoes and hot pack them. One of the lids didn't seal right on the other 17 and rather than wait an interminably long time for the water to boil so i could have another go, i opted for using a zippy bag and freezing the contents.

I have 13 quarts left from the 2010 session, and the 16 pints plus one quart frozen should keep us for a bit. I do like having the option to pick from pints and quarts since we are a small household. I shall endeavour to use up the quarts as they are older--i also need to rethink if i want to continue canning in quarts or just go with all pints, since i also canned pints in that 2010 session, and those have been consumed.

I'd like to do more canning than i do. But ceramic stoves aren't really made for that sort of thing. At the farmer's market, one of the stalls is run by an older couple who make all things pickled. A friend asked me to pick up several bottles of their piccalilli, which is pickled green tomatoes. They had samples, and it's got a sweet and sour taste. I told them it was a bit too sweet for my palate, yet i've thought back to that piccalilli nearly every day since tasting it. What does that say about me?

The couple is retiring at the end of this season, and the wife and i had a chat about canning. She said she uses a dome type canner that doesn't need as much water. "They run about sixty dollars," she explained, "but well worth it. I'm on my third one." She promised to bring information for me this week and will share the piccalilli recipe. I'll also pick up my friend's order then, as she requested more jars than they had on hand.

When i lived in Pennsylvania and frost was scheduled to arrive, i'd pluck the tomato plants with green tomatoes on them, hang them upside down, and let the fruits ripen inside down cellar. One year, we had the last tomato on Thanksgiving Day. But i'm far enough north now that that won't happen, unless we celebrate Canada's Thanksgiving (mid October), and there've been enough rodents down cellar here that i'd only be feeding them instead of ourselves. So, piccalilli may find a way into my life after all.

Some forecasters are saying we'll have a warmer than usual autumn this year. If that's true, then i might get to enjoy the second raspberry harvest from the everbearing vines. The previous owners planted them, and they do yield yummy berries. The first harvest is in July and the second early to mid October. Last year i got 3 berries in the second harvest before frost came. We also got a foot of snow on Hallowe'en.

This year, i didn't do any gardening to speak of. I decided to spend time sailing and kayaking instead. I'm not sorry for it, as i've had a lot of fun, and i can buy cukes and whatnot to can, although that's not quite the same as plucking from one's own garden and pickling or putting by.

Perhaps when i'm retired from working full-time, i'll be able to do both.


  1. My tomato bottling is all done too, and yes I still have some to finish from 2011.

    I made Piccalilli last year, and opened a jar about two days ago... it's still perfect. I'd forgotten all about hanging up the tomato plants. I MUST do that this year.

    It's a busy time of year for us bottlers!

  2. God all that bottling makes me feel quite inadequate!! Loved reading your blog, I will be back... you sound like you have a great sense of humour to get you through all the days, I do hope your fracture heals well and fast.. nothing worse than not being able to do the normal things you are used to, because of a broken limb.. hugs from across the pond..Janzi