The Hundred-and-One Small Things

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 - 12:25pm

“They were always doing something. Quietly, without interruption, and with great concentration, they carried on with the hundred-and-one small things that made up their world.” ―Tove Jansson, Moominpappa at Sea

When we spent the long summers at Georgian Bay, my wonderful father always read to us, even as we did the dishes, and one of the more remarkable series he read to us was Tove Jansson’s tales of Moominvalley. She also, it turns out, spent her summers on an isolated, water access, world full of stories, but one that made mine look like an urban paradise. She was the daughter of artists, and her family spent the summers on a beautiful remote island off the coast of Finland:

and I am frankly jealous. According to one biographical sketch, the family’s keywords were freedom, responsibility, and family loyalty.

She created a marvelous imaginary world that reveals a deep understanding of human nature: a cast of otherworldly characters that includes the most marvelous Snufkin, the Hemeulin, the Snork Maiden, Mymble and Little Miy, the Grook, and, of course, the Moomins themselves:

[The exciting little white fellows are Hattifatteners]

I still remember walking home from the library after taking out Comet in Moominvalley when I was six and we were living in London.

One of the Moomin books that is particularly relevant to our world here has the lovely metaphoric and literal title: Moominpappa at Sea:

And if you will bear with me, here is the opening of that fine novel:


Having left you, I hope, anxious to know when and why Moominpappa packs up the whole family to go and live in a lighthouse[!!!], I would like to turn to the hundred-and-one small things that we carry on with, while waiting for the valley to erupt in flames. Or to quote Tove Jansson one more time, “I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes, and dream.”

Which brings me to the fabulous canner I asked for [and got] for Christmas 2 years ago.

I never knew I wanted one, really, having grown up to fear pressure cookers as deadly things that should be locked up. But the lure of being able to preserve things without dying really got to me, and the range of foods you can store is incredible, if sometimes inedible. We ate the last of the tomatoes (not from my garden - flowers grow but vegetables just feed the urban night bunnies) last week and I am about to make crab apple jelly, harvested from the neighbours’ tree.

While it does not require the fabulous canner, the canner and our local market reminded me of all the things that are easy to preserve. I have always liked making jam, which turns out to consist of berries and sugar, a recipe even a blond can make! The canner opens many new horizons, however. It is fabulous because it does not have a gasket that can decay, and even though it acts like it is trying to escape sometimes, it is too heavy and the lid really clamps down. There is still the projectile thingy on top to worry about, but it can be poked with a long stick from a distance fairly safely.

I intended to can bacon last year, but failed for a number of reasons, mostly character-flaw related, but also because I did not get an adequate supply of the good bacon from near Penetang which I crave, and I also had a very unfortunate ‘recovery’ from an operation. But I digress, and if I digress into my hernia, you will begin to squirm and rock and agitate like a pressure cooker, wanting to escape.

Before that happens, let me throw open the floor to discuss perchance the more domestic aspects of being sensibly prepared for disruptions in the new normal way of things, many of which preparations used to be the old normal way of doing things. [And of course any actual breaking news, or particularly funny things, or new dogs, or ... even excellent children’s literature - I have few illusions as to holding the course with this crew aboard.]

So who’s growing what, and what are you canning? Does anyone else dream of canning bacon? What hundred-and-one small things can we do?

About the Author


Aug 10, 2013 - 12:40pm


Good morning, XTY! If the stock market fell, and nobody was listening, could it be described as a crash?

As far as bacon, we can what we grow, and as of right now porkers are not one of them. We have a nice crop of peaches, tomoatos, and some corn. They may end up in the canner; that is if they are not eaten first by the...dum, dum, dum...urban night bunnies! .


Aug 10, 2013 - 12:47pm

Ever get that 'tied down' feeling?

Having a hundred and one things on your mind can leaving you feeling that way at times if you allow it. Make lemonade (and eat bacon) whenever you get the chance to.

That was a nice relaxing & unique Saturday afternoon post...thanks!

Urban Roman
Aug 10, 2013 - 1:00pm

Test post

Just to see if it still works.

[edit] Annnnd it does! No problems here at least not yet, I just flushed cache and cookies and reloaded TFMR. No problems with the scripts and stylesheets and whatnot. Again, using Ubuntu/Firefox, and no problems. Not sure what may be happening to Turdites elsewhere on the internetz.

And thank you, Xty. Thanks for making this place more of a home. We haven't done any canning here for quite a few years. There was one year in the early '00s when we had a bumper crop of tomatoes, and we canned quite a lot of them. But since then, we have either had summers so hot (Texas, you know) that the plants died, or have simply not attempted to plant anything. Perhaps we should be growing prickly pears ..

Aug 10, 2013 - 1:01pm

This year

Strawberry, blackberry and apricot jam each canned with blackberry honey. Also canned dill pickles some with dry crushed Thai peppers.

My bacon bush didn't produce this year so I didn't can any (hahaha).

Aug 10, 2013 - 1:04pm

Blackberry honey!

Now we're talkin'!

I am off to get some yal-a-pan0 peppers for the crabapple jelly. It beat out cinnamon and clove.

Aug 10, 2013 - 1:06pm

Harvey's Up!

Harvey on the gold COT: From a bankers perspective, this is terribly bearish as the commercials went net short by 28,385 contracts and the large specs went net long by 24,683. Why on earth did the commercials let the large specs off the hook? I will bet that the answer is that the bankers are massively short on physical metal over in London. • Bill Haynes: I exchanged emails with a rep for a major precious metals refiner who wrote, “The bullion banks were buying as much metal from our company as they could get their hands on, just to ship to Hong Kong and Singapore.” So this is just further evidence that ETF and Comex gold is going to Asia. • Egon von Greyerz: Greyers warned King World News that the world is now on the edge of a massive collapse. Greyerz also cautioned investors that banks are now making it harder for their clients to get physical gold out of the banking system. Greyerz correctly states that total debt to GDP of the various developed nations is between 300 and 400% and this debt cannot be repaid. • Egon von Greyerz: Gold mines are closing in Australia because they are not profitable. Miners are also beginning to hedge production once again at the absolute worst time. Banks financing these companies are demanding that they hedge. This practice will end extremely badly for the mining industry. From our point of view we are seeing major moves of physical gold out of banks and into private storage because people are worried about the risk of being in banks. • Chris Powell (GATA): Silver market analyst and rigging whistleblower Ted Butler writes tonight that JPMorganChase now has cornered the gold market long just as some months ago it cornered the market short. • Mark Grant: Today CNBC reports that Richard Fisher of the Dallas Fed exclaimed, "I am concerned about France, more than any other country." There is something worrying in those words. This is not the statement of some talking head or a money manager with an axe to grind but very clear words from one of the few people on Earth that gets to see the real numbers and not the gibberish presented to all of us day after day. One may well wonder what he knows that we do not! • Tyler Durden: We presented the absurd, if inevitable, thought experiment of a country that would soon cross into the twilight zone of total sovereign debt numbers that no longer even fit on a simple pocket calculator. The country of course is Japan, and the debt number is one quadrillion. As of last night, the absurd has become real. • Harvey: There was another depressing article on Greece by Ambrose Evans Pritchard. He said youth unemployment in Greece has just hit 65%. They expect Greece to contract in GDP by another 5% and also expect its debt to GDP to rise to 176% next year. Unemployment will continue to rise as 15,000 more public sector workers lose their jobs next month to comply with EU/IMF troika demand. This will also make it impossible for weaker banks to raise capital. • Bill Holter: The G-20 summit coming up in less than a month will likely mark a turning point for the US dollar. Likely subjects of discussion will be the issuance of a new global currency based on a basket of currencies (i.e. a one world currency) and paying for oil in currencies other than dollars. • All this and more on...

On the Harvey Report!


Aug 10, 2013 - 1:12pm

It's August in New Mexico

Two words for canning -

Green Chiles

Although freezing them tastes better. Canning gives them a bit of a "pickled" taste.

Aug 10, 2013 - 1:33pm

Guilty pleasure

Having three kids, each with their own idiosyncratic tastes and two of whom cannot eat wheat gluten, narrows our food horizons to almost microscopic proportions. When you filter out everything they don't like or can't eat, it is a small range indeed. But homemade pizza and gluten- free crust is a sure-fire winner- so we have been canning homemade pizza sauce like crazy! So this winter, when the fresh tomatoes are a distant memory, I'll be able to slather it on and come up with something everyone can enjoy. Small victory, but victory nonetheless

Aug 10, 2013 - 1:36pm

Thank You Xty

The foundation of prepping.

It's the little daily nuances that seem to get overlooked and often times on a daily basis.

The importance of reading as a child because it helps shape who you will become as an adult like nothing else can and becomes part of your very soul, so ingrained, so embedded, a lifetime of memories. (This is why it is so important to know what you child is reading and being taught in all aspects, especially by public schools)

The art of cooking is fast becoming another lost art. People have become so dependent of fast food, take out food, deli food and such. There is a true gathering when a family comes together to cook, eat and share. Which leads to another art that is losing it's way at a breathtaking speed, the art of language/communication. Both seem to go hand in hand when a family cooks. Parent are able to teach cooking, all the ins and outs, the whys and the hows. They also learn what's going on in their children's lives during prep time and while cooking. Then comes the full gathering and meeting of the minds to speak at the dinner table. A time for gathering, a time for learning, a time for listening and a time for planning. Family strength, family unity and family harmony is also endanger from placing less important things before the core, true and necessary function of what binds and ties a family together. ( Put away/turn off the I-pods, computers, tv's, etc., during these times. Eat together at a table. This is so important.)

There are so many things that have been lost and replaced by false imitations for instant gratification, self indulgence and have lead to the downfall/destruction of the family. The family is what has always made a society strong and viable. The family is the underlying backbone that weaves the fabric of all successful nations. As a country's families goes, so goes the country.

A strong foundation leads to a strong family that leads to a strong nation.

القراع عصفور
Aug 10, 2013 - 1:41pm

Happy Heikinpäivä

it is never too soon to begin preparing for the next winter! your Tove Janssen references reminded me of some Finnish folklore. many residents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are of Finnish descent.

"St. Henrik's Day (Heikinpaiva) in past history has been the day that marks the halfway point of the winter. At this time farmers checked to make sure that their stock of hay, grains and other commodities were only half gone as to sustain them for the rest of the winter. On this day, as well as most other Finnish name days, there are some folk sayings associated with Heikinpaiva.

Three that are still rather popular and they are: Karhu kaantaa kylkea (The bear rolls over to the other side, meaning winter is half over), Talven selka taittuu (Winter's back breaks), and Keikki heinaa jakaa (Heikki divides the hay). "

more here...

Heikinpäivä brings hundreds to the Keweenaw

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