Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are You Willing to Die for That Food Processor?: Part 2 of My Trip Home

Reading the first entry about my trip over, I realized that I sound really pissy and cranky, and I'm not sure why. I really had a nice time reading on planes, reading in the car, reading on the couch, watching my mom almost get in a brawl over a food processor at Wal-Mart on Black Friday, and almost ending up on the "No Fly" list for raising my voice to a TSA Officer.

OK, maybe those last two don't really sound all that relaxing, but the rest of the trip was.

My mom spent a while on Thanksgiving evening picking out a food processor for me for Christmas. It's already arrived, but I have not opened it, and have instead placed it in my bedroom and put the Jesus statue that Elizabeth and Ben got me for my birthday on top of it to keep me from opening it. Jesus hates when you open Christmas presents early, you know, because it makes Santa feel sad inside. After she spent all that time looking for my food processor, though, Mom decided that she needed one, too, so we decided to go get one on Black Friday. At the largest Wal-Mart in New York State.

I know it sounds like we were just asking for trouble, but we really, honestly thought that all of the crazy people would already be gone if we waited until after lunch.

We were wrong.

I only left my mom alone for a minute, while I went to go look for this, which they did not have. When I came back, my mom was standing in the appliance aisle while a small, angry woman glared at her and demanded to know if Mom intended to buy that food processor.

"It's the last one in the store! If you're not going to buy it, you put it down! You put it down right now!"

Lady, I don't think you know my mom, but she can be a little formidable. She also has guns. Plural. I don't know how you see this particular argument playing out, but I see it ending with you not having a food processor and maybe, you know, you also not having all of your limbs. Just walk away, lady, please. I don't want to get gore all over my shoes, because I only packed the one pair for the trip home. To paraphrase Danny Glover in "Silverado", lady, Mom don't wanna kill you and you don't wanna be dead. Just back away from the food processor and go home to your family.

Mom put the food processor in our cart, the lady wandered off, and no one had to die.

Then the next day we made pepper jelly! Delicious pepper jelly that I'm eating right now!

I've never made jelly before, but there's a lot of boiling involved. Three burners worth of boiling, plus the burner where you're actually making the jelly:

more boiling

You have boil jars, lids, and rings, then lay them out to dry:

jelly jars

Then you chop up a bunch of red, green, and jalapeno peppers in the food processor that you won in Wal-Mart's arena of death:


add some vinegar and a gigantic six cup container of sugar:

six cups of sugar

and do some more boiling. Then, after you've boiled down the jelly, boiled the jars again, and boiled the tongs and funnel, you pour the jelly into the jars:

jelly funnel

and carefully move the funnel from jar to jar without touching anything else so you don't have to boil it again. After the jars are filled, you boil them again so all the air slowly leaks out, a vacuum forms inside the jars, and it pulls the lid down and seals it:

pepper jelly

Someday I might try canning, but there's so much boiling and so much risk of botulism if you do it wrong that for now, I will just be content to shovel Mom's delicious pepper jelly into my gaping maw.

Other than reading, making jelly, and harshly judging my town based on privately owned and installed landmarks, I found time to play with Mittens:

mittens (2)

mittens (1)

one of the outside cats that lives in the garage, so named because of his extra toes:

mittens' mittens

and with Ebby, the other garage cat, who I tried to capture with the pinhole camera:


I also walked around the village with the pinhole camera:


sand street

pinhole indian river (2)

and think that the dreamy pinhole effect, combined with the overcast day, actually made everything look kind of sinister:


I did take a comparison shot of the pond with my regular camera:

indian river (1)

and the pinhole, just to contrast the differences:

pinhole indian river (1)

but the one that really strikes me as showing the total difference between camera types is the view of the Indian River from the vandalized footbridge.


pinhole indian river (3)

and a shot from the same angle in 2008:

indian river

You'd never guess they were the same place.

Travelling home, I almost lost all of the pinhole pictures. I haven't flown with film in our scary, post 9/11 world, because I've used digital cameras that whole time, so I've never checked on the restrictions or warnings since they've never applied. At the Syracuse airport I was instructed to hand my suitcase to the TSA agents, so I did, and as we watched it roll into the gigantic scanning machine the agent asked, "Guns? Explosives? Any film?"

"Yes," I said, as we both watched my bag vanish inside. "I... have film in there."

"Oh, well, you should have read all the signs before you handed me your bag, then."

OK, seriously? I realize that the TSA workers have minimal training, no union, and were probably exhausted from working through the Thanksgiving holiday and the volume of travellers involved, but he couldn't say anything as I handed him the bag? Or before he put it on the machine?

I raised my voice a little, even though I probably shouldn't have.

"When, exactly, was I supposed to read the signs? When I was getting herded through check in as fast as possible? When is there time to stop and read?"

He raised his voice just as loudly, leaning forward a little bit aggressively.

"Are you making a complaint? Do you need to step out of line?"

In a shocking moment of rational thought, I realized that the bag had already gone through. The film was already x-rayed. Nothing could be gained by arguing except ending up on a federal list, getting violated during a search that ignores my 4th amendment rights and presumes I am a criminal just because I purchased a plane ticket, missing my plane, or some combination of those.

"No, sorry. I'm just tired. I'm sure you are, too."

Then I seethed all the way home. Fortunately, my friend Prole said there was a chance that low speed film, like the pinhole camera uses, might not be fogged by x-rays, and I gave developing a try rather than throwing the roll away. I'm not exactly sure how many pictures I lost, but a few at the beginning of the roll did not come out and are lost and gone forever.

So what did we learn from all of this?

1) Packing a dozen books for a week of travel was a little overly ambitious. I only read six.

2) A food processor is totally worth dying for.

3) You should always buy your Christmas tree from a giant Frankenstein made of steel drums, if possible.

barrel frankenstein, with trees

4) Film should go in your carryon, not your checked baggage.

5) My parents are awesome, and I had a really great vacation.

1 comment:

JMBower said...

The sand street and indian river pinhole shots were fantastic!

Nothing like lowest-bid security to make the season bright. We had a similar issue on the way to NY, with a security person. I'm usually a patient person, but there are some levels of Napoleon complex that just make you want to spout off.