It's that time of year again when the kids are bringing armloads of fresh vegetables into the house.
I love it! Two weeks ago, Daisy brought in the first harvest of carrots, beets, and snap peas
and once again, we were in awe as we had somehow forgotten the amazing taste of fresh vegetables.
The challenge with a gardener like Joe, whose massive garden brings us mountains of produce, is making sure that none of it goes to waste. We will soon be living on veggies and giving them away, but will still have enough to can. This year, I thought I would try my hand at dehydrating fresh foods. I started with strawberries, using a Mr. Coffee dehydrator. Within an hour, the house was scented of strawberries and the kids could hardly wait until they were done. I felt a bit like Martha Stewart, Caroline Ingalls, and Fannie Farmer all rolled up into one as I searched online for recipes for dehydrated potatoes, tomatoes, and other produce that would be coming out of our garden. Unfortunately, this good feeling lasted only as long as it took to finish one batch of strawberries...when I went to remove them from the racks, I found that all the strawberries stuck to the dehydrating rack and the only way to get them off was to soak the other words, I had to rehydrate the dehydrated food! What a complete waste of time! I was about to throw in the towel on the idea of food dehydration when I remembered coming across a dehydrator called "The Excalibur" in my recipe search. The Excalibur...just its name promised action. I found a blemished model at a reduced price on Amazon and bought it. This dehydrator has 9 trays which are made of a material similar to plastic canvas. You can bend the trays to remove food so nothing sticks. As soon as it came in the mail, I went in search of recipes that other Excalibur owners had posted...and then I got a big surprise. Apparently, my food dehydrator is the choice of extreme survivalists everywhere! On youtube, I watched videos of Excalibur owners who have stockpiled their basements, cellars, and pantries with so much food that it looks like they are opening a small grocery store. Apparently there is a movement called the SHTF (shtuff hits the fan) and people are getting ready for it. Even more of an eye-opener into the movement were the comments people posted beneath these videos, things like: "Don't forget toilet paper," "Will 300 pounds of rice be enough for a family of 3?" and then this one commenting on a basement that looked like a bunker: "No one is going to be able to take all that with them when the SHTF.
You're going to be moving constantly, running all day.
It's going to be the end of the world as we know it."
I'm sorry to be a non-alarmist, but the end of the world as I know it has already happened several times...I've lost people who I thought would always be there, and not just people who have passed away. Sometimes, people change, and some of those who I invested time and energy building a relationship with suddenly don't return phone calls. People have disappeared from my life to the point that I would have thought they were raptured, but despite the fact that they don't answer an email or a phone, they send me farmville requests on facebook, hoping I will send them a virtual horse rather than a real hello. There are signs of life as they go on, happy with new friends, and I smile, but it's the end of the world as I know it and I live caught between memories of the past and what is real and in front of me.

I have a big problem: I'm too sentimental. I have several boxes of baby clothes from my kids and at least two boxes of their artwork dating back to preschool that I couldn't throw away. I have a couple of boxes filled with Dr. Seuss books and puzzles. My goodness, I sound like someone off an A&E episode of The Hoarders when I say that these things bring back tender memories and I don't know if I can part with them. Even so, on Sunday I decided to thin some of it out. I grabbed a box of VHS tapes that were my grandparents and began going through them, transferring important videos to DVD. That's when I stumbled across my high school graduation tape from 1989. What memories! After the graduation, there were clips of my party. I looked at the table where Bette Veach, our family's next door neighbor, was sitting and wished I could sit beside her.
I miss her. She wasn't even related to us, but she never forgot any of our birthdays. She used to bring us the newspaper every day after she was done reading it and even brought a dog biscuit for each of our dogs.
You simply can't replace a person like Bette. If you're a sentimental person, you don't have it in you to replace hold tight to everyone and you always miss and long for the ones you lose.
Another video tape was made in my grandparents' kitchen in Weaverville. It was crowded with faces that are no longer with us: My Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Dot, Great Aunt Sarah and her daughters Sarah and Jeanette...and although it may not mean anything if you are not a family member, here is a bit of what had me wishing I could go into that kitchen just one more time and see these people.
When I watched this, I sighed...and cried. It helps to know that they are together again, laughing and carrying on just as they were in this video, except without the pain of ever being separated again. Someday, I will join them, but in the meantime, I hope to be making memories that others will cherish when I'm gone. I definitely don't want to spend my time stocking up in preparation for the end of the world, although maybe just a bit for the winter. I simply don't have room in my garage for food and supplies. Instead of these, I have a stockpile of memorabilia packed away in boxes, and these take up the room on the shelves.
These items represent the world as I once knew it.