I should take Frodo’s advice

“My dear Sam,

You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years.”

This quote has been running through my head on an incessant loop for the past few hours. The rain outside falls in patterns that mimic the cadence of the quote in the film, and if I stare into my mug of coffee long enough, I can see the words floating there.

I caught up with a dear friend of mine today; it was great to hear from her. She is going to Italy for the summer to be an au pair. She’ll know more of my great-grandparents’ mother tongue than I do by the time I start fall semester. I think she’ll make a great nanny, and I think she’ll have a great time.

I also can see the green gleam of envy sparking in my mind, and I hate that.

Knowing my weaknesses is something that I have striven for ever since I learned how to be introspective. I know them; I have intimate knowledge of each of them, when they are present, and why they are. I have not learned how to combat them. Generally, I try logic, but logic has so little control of emotions, which in me, run rampant.

For the most part, I have learned to just let those emotions run their course. I allow myself to feel jealous, to wonder freely if I’ve made the right choices, maybe even wallow in something akin to self-pity. I don’t know how else to handle them. I think about them; I study them. Often times, I hate them.

I am trying to learn how to harness them.

Sure, it’s true that, in my life now, I cannot simply pick up and move to another country for a few months. I have a husband. Soon I’ll have a mortgage. I have a cat.

But I can do other things, and every day that goes by with me not doing them is not doing me any favors. If I’m completely honest with myself, then I know that, even were my circumstances different, I still wouldn’t go for a grand adventure because it requires work, and the thought of that work exhausts me.

Really, I am very lucky that Eric is patient. To spend every day with my contradictory nature, every moment switching from one extreme to the other, must be a chore that only a saint can handle. I tell him I want to travel, so he says we can delay buying a house, but then I tell him I don’t want to do that. He says okay, and then the next day, I’m looking at airfare to London.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part is that, really, I could have it both ways, but I am unable to reconcile that fact in my mind. I get so caught up in the details that I completely forget that nothing in this world is so black and white. It’s not even gray scale; the world is technicolor.

So Frodo’s advice is perfect for me, and not just because he uses my name. I’ve simply been interpreting it the wrong way. I always thought that, between the lines, he was implying that Sam would have to choose – adventures with Frodo or settling down with Rosy. But being torn in two does not lend itself to choosing one half; it is about finding a way to reconnect the disparate pieces, to become whole again.

I desperately want that. I wish it were easy. Sometimes I wish the path were visible ahead, marked clearly to avoid straying off course. It’s not. It never will be. The road goes ever on and on…

Homemade apple butter – the extended edition

I am writing with the intention of sharing how Eric and I made apple butter last week for our DIY Christmas this year, but before I start, I just have to talk about yesterday.

As some of you might know – hopefully all – on the 14th, The Hobbit will be released in theaters. That is great news. But what was even better news to me was that this past weekend (8th and 9th), theaters around the country/world were showing all three extended versions of Lord of the Rings. And I mean in a row. 800 minute run time (with breaks). And because last week the Universe seemed to be smiling upon me, I had yesterday off for the first time since I’ve started this new job.

So Eric and I went to see all three Lord of the Rings in theaters, and it was amazing. There was a small group of people there (I hope Saturday was busier. I can’t imagine how more people would not want the opportunity to see these films on the big screen again). Between films, one of the theater managers would come out toward the end of our break and have trivia questions for us, with prizes. Via Eric’s insistence, since I kept muttering answers under my breath while other people were participating, I actually stood up for one question and won him some candy. I mostly stood up because I was shocked no one had shot up immediately. The question was “What is the translation of the inscription on the one ring?” I wasn’t going to bother standing because everyone knows that. But no one stood!

If you’re not familiar and are curious, the inscription is “One ring to rule them all; one ring the find them. One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness, bind them.” It’s actually part of a longer poem about the rings of power that I will save some face by not posting in its entirety, even though I recited it on the way home last night. I told Eric that in the nerd world, he’s my trophy husband.

The showing started at 11am, and we left the theater just after midnight. Worth it. Totally worth it.

Now onto the crafting/cooking. Last week, in our hurried pace to get through making the last of the Christmas gifts, we made a rather large batch of apple butter. Here is how we did it:

1. We washed, peeled, and diced(ish) the apples. The instructions said to core, and since we don’t have any fancy device to de-core, I just chopped around it. It worked out fine.

2. We added the apples, along with a cup or so of water, to a pot and let it simmer for about a half hour. We wanted the apples soft enough to go in the blender.

It took longer than I expected, but we could tell they were done when they gave under a spoon.
It took longer than I expected, but we could tell they were done when they gave under a spoon.

3. When they were soft, we threw them in the blender and pureed them. I now have an old-school grinder that would have done the trick, but we were going for fast, not necessarily authentic, though I would love to use that device sometime.

4. When the apples were blended, we essentially had applesauce. In fact, when we make applesauce this week, we will get to this step and part of step 5, then be finished. But moving on!

Applesauce, soon to be apple butter.
Applesauce, soon to be apple butter.

5. We added the cinnamon and ground clove that give apple butter that slightly spicy taste, and we threw it back into the pot to cook. We cooked it until it was sticky and did not slide easily off the spoon.

This is not even close to ready
This is not even close to ready

6. It took almost another half hour before the butter was the right consistency. Luckily we had practice with the peach butter, although that did seem to go a little bit quicker.

7. When it was ready, we poured it into our sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space, screwed on the lids, and processed them in our boiling processor for 10 minutes. We made 12 small jelly jars.

Here they are standing in row. Bomp, bomp, bomp.
Here they are standing in row. Bomp, bomp, bomp.

All that’s left for these is some decorative flair. I will put the labels on and cover them prettily.

All that’s left for Christmas goodies are some blank-in-jar things (cookies, pancakes, soup, etc), the applesauce, and I think I will bake some cookies for those without the penchant for cooking/baking even pre-made mixes.

And Eric’s gift. I am caving and buying him some things, and while I’m not terribly pleased with giving in, I am more interested in making sure he has useful and enjoyable things that he wouldn’t buy himself. Which, if I’m being honest, is not a lot of things because he generally just buys what he wants. He’s gotten better around Christmas, though, after three years of me bugging him about it. 🙂

Well, then, I am off to continue my adventures. Keep it crafty!