Work Should Not Be Such Hard Work

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I have all but officially given my notice of intent to retire from the workforce on the last day of September.  Of this year!  Like in about 42 days.  Just have to put it in writing and hand it in and try not to look too ecstatically happy in that moment.

It’s time.  I can’t remember the last time I was enthusiastic about my job, or truly happy to be doing it.  Situations don’t suddenly become horrible, but deteriorate gradually with ups and downs until the downs tip the balance and you just accept that as normal.  It’s not enough when a pay cheque is your only source of inspiration and joy.  And the job itself is slowly sucking the life out of you.

Okay, where did that come from?  Time to make my escape before I kill somebody, by the sounds of that.  Plus I’m very old.  Cranky old ladies eventually get cranky enough to call it quits.  And the world should probably thank them for that.

In anticipation of being home all day with nothing to do, I have made a start at setting up a place to create fabulous works of art.  This little section of the L-shaped living room was originally used as a dining area by the previous owners.  It’s too small for that.  The last thing it became was a place where W had his favourite chair and footstool and could read his paper and fall asleep.  I figure he can do that anywhere, so I moved him across the room.  This spot will have great natural light when I get around to opening the blinds.

Those little white drawers are chock full of unfinished projects.  I have three times as much stuff elsewhere throughout the house waiting to be assessed and organized and resurrected or chucked out.  W found my old easel in the rafters in the garage.  I picked up a few new art supplies.  I had forgotten how much I love a blank canvas.

Obviously I will need a chair, and something to protect the floor, and it will never look this clean and tidy EVER again once I get started.  I’m good at folk art and not terrible with acrylics, but I’d like to take classes in watercolor, and try encaustic painting (painting with hot wax.)  And mixed media where anything goes.  And then of course there’s writing about all the disasters later, and sharing a brilliant moment or two.  Hopefully at least two.

This week is a hard one at work because we’re down to a skeleton staff with the manager on holidays and no one to hire and our part-time people quitting and going back to school.  Inventory coming up.  And me in the middle of it all, having a difficult time giving a crap about anything.  It’s lovely to know it won’t be long before I can walk away.  And never come back.  Take a new path to a different destination.

Remember what it’s like to really love what I do and who I am.

The Bean Rules

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Whenever someone sent me a text message to ask me what I was doing in the last two weeks when we were on holidays, my answer was pretty much always “beans”.  My sister is a slave driver.  And she has a lot of beans.  Remind me next time I decide to go visit her to try a different time of year, would you?

I didn’t have to go out to the garden to pick anything, though.  She and my brother-in-law did all the picking.  My grandchildren were thrilled to help with that sporadically too, although they’d never make any money at it since most of what they picked they also promptly ate.  Peas and cherry tomatoes were a big hit.  Cucumbers.  Giant zucchini.  Almost makes me want to get back into gardening.  Ha.  No it doesn’t.

But anyway, back to the beans.  There were green ones and yellow ones in buckets and bowls, delicious at every meal, but what do you do with the overflow?  I’m glad you asked.  It’s a complicated process.  There are rules.

The beans have to be sorted, putting all the straight ones in one bowl and all the crooked ones in another.  I thought they were kidding at first too.  But nope.  The crooked ones need the tops and bottoms cut off, and then they can be cut in half if they’re short and in thirds if they’re long.  They have to be washed.  Then they are blanched in boiling water, dumped into cold water to cool, and then drained and packed into plastic bags for freezing.  But wait!  Don’t seal the bags until you’ve poured in a cup or so of the water they were boiled in.  This gives them more flavour.  No one wants a bean that tastes like cardboard.  I found out the hard way that these bags are tippy, and if they fall over, all that precious juice flows across the counter.  Some cold day this winter when they cook up that bag of beans they will know who to blame for their tastelessness.  (Sorry).

The straight beans are destined for greatness.  If you have never had a dill bean in your Caesar, you have no idea what you’re missing.  The tops and bottoms are left on these.  They are also washed and blanched and popped into cold water to cool.  Then the real fun begins.  The beans have to be right side up. (Apparently it makes them easier to pull out of the jar later.) They must be painstakingly packed into sterilized mason jars containing a clove of garlic and some dill weed.  The beans have to remain straight, and the jar has to be full.  The whole time I was helping with this job I was trying to think of an easier way to do it.  Like buying some dill beans from a store, for instance.  If you use the flat side of a knife you can pack the beans in even tighter.  It’s practically an art.  I had no idea.

Finally, a mixture of bean water and vinegar is poured into each jar and they’re sealed. Something else I learned – when you open up a jar of these to put them on a vegetable tray, half of them will disappear before dinner.  I don’t know if this is also a rule, but I’ve seen it happen more than once.

My sister doesn’t even like dill, or dill pickled anything, but every summer she does this labor of love for the rest of the family who do.  Ever since I came home I’ve been toying with the idea of going to a farmers market, buying some yellow beans (do you suppose they’d be willing to sort out all the straight ones for me?) and doing up a jar or two.  But then I think it must be the heat making me think this way, and really, that’s a lot of Caesars to get through.  Plus I hate rules.