I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer's Over

Yeah, my summer is mostly over. Leaves are turning and berries are ripe. It smells awesome out there, like over ripe cranberries (high bush) and rain-washed whatever. The weather was truly odd this summer when talking about river levels. I finally made it to work on the first of June - it sucks that I missed two weeks of work. Because of that there were things I normally do that I skipped this year. I can wash walls next year - people aren't allowed to smoke inside anyway.

Water levels remained medium low all summer long, but as time passed, it became increasingly clear that water levels were rain dependent rather than snow-melt dependent - which is really out of the ordinary. Fortunately there was enough rain to keep the rivers full enough for me to drive to work. I drove a jet-drive through most of the summer because, at first, the water was really scary-low - meaning that gravel-bars I know to exist were sticking up, and some of them were very nearly over my head. Islands that I normally see were small mountains. There was one thing good about seeing the water that low. I learned that some channels where I'd driven for years, had moved, and some gravel-bars had grown (or seemed to have done so).

Other than water levels, which increased slowly, but steadily, my summer went well. I was able to devote time to my gardens, and got plenty of complements because of that. I met some great people, and even sold a couple books. I also passed out a few business cards, so with luck, I sold a few more books that way.

In other news related to work, I bought a soap mold. It has always been very nearly impossible for me to throw away used soap, so over the years, I've accumulated quite a few. The last lodge I worked at and now this one both use Dove soap, and I was stacking it on a shelf in the laundry room. It really rankled that they'd all been used only once or twice, some maybe a little more. They were full sized bars - it was such a waste. I did a little research and discovered that Dove makes half-sized bars, and my boss's wife was able to find some in town. Even so, it was a waste, so I kept those too. When I told her I would take her soaps and remake them into smaller bars, she did a little searching and found some fish-shaped molds. I haven't seen them yet, but then I'm still learning how to do this recycling of soaps. I took all the random (other than Dove) soaps and am trying to refine a recipe. My first effort was a bunch of unmeasured soap that I'd grated up years ago and put in a big glass cooky jar to this end. In a bigger pot (think double-boiler) I tried to melt the soap. The recipe I found online said to add a little water, so I did, adding a little more until the soap started to get soft. What was on the surface of my mass kept cooling to clumps, so I spooned it into my mold and tried to smooth it out. The result cooled quickly and I was able to cut them into blocks, trimming away the ugly edges to be added to my next batch. They are not pretty as far as color, and they are inconsistent in shape, but they are usable bars of soap, so I'm happy. However, my effort taught me that I needed a better recipe.

On to my second effort. I found a recipe that called for 2 cups of soap to 1 cup of water. My stumbling block was, how do you measure out 2 cups of soap. So I did the next best thing, I changed the volume measure to a weight measure. 2 cups is 16 oz or one pound so I weighed up 2 pounds of soap bars and started grating. When I bought my mold I thought I read in the questions or reviews somewhere that it holds 5 pounds of soap, and my first effort didn't fill my mold quite full. So I figured I'd aim for 4 pounds of soap, which (according to my recipe) called for 2 cups of water. I grated up my first pound of soap and added it to my cookie jar and after I added my 2 cups of water, I realized that there was no way my cookie jar was going to hold 4 pounds of grated soap. Cringe. I wanted to drain away that water, but didn't. I should have, but I added another pound of soap and proceeded.

This time, my concoction was more like what they said in the recipes in that I could pour it. It was thick, but was it thick enough? Time would tell. I did learn that 2 pounds of soap is the max my mold will hold. I let the block cool over night and it was solid enough to take out of it's mold, but it's still kinda soft. I cut it into some bars, discovering that my cut was thinner than I like, but it is what it is. Now those bars are laying out on a cooky sheet. According to my research, it's not uncommon for bars to cure for up to a week. Cross your fingers. Worse case scenario, I redo. I still got more soap to experiment on before I get to my boss's soap. I'll figure it all out.

In the mean time - On the first of August, my son who lives down in Arizona came up to visit and go fishing. He brought his two kids, his girlfriend, and her son. It was awesome. They stayed for two weeks and went fishing every day, bringing home nearly 18 fish every day. I also showed the girlfriend how to can fish. I canned up a couple batches to make room in the freezer, but starting a load after I got home from work meant staying up till near midnight. Needless to say, I only did enough to make room.

When he left, my son took a hundred pounds of frozen fish home with him as well as a case of canned, and my freezer was still stuffed. Three days after work was over, I started canning fish. Last week, my other son came out to help pull boats again and he took home 4 cases of fish. I am finally getting to the bottom of the freezer. I have fish thawing out here in the house for tomorrow's canning session and three more bags in the freezer to go, and I have six and a half cases of fish done as of today. That is more fish than I've canned up in a very long time.