When I was in highschool, I played basketball. I played some in college, too. My grandfather played for the Boston Celtics back in the day, so the talent seems to run in the family (although my children err on the side of reading for hours on end instead of shooting hoops). Anyway, the point is, I was a highly competitive girl. I would take on anyone better than me, just for the small chance to beat them. I even went to a summer basketball camp and when we had an afternoon of 'freetime', I choose to practice my freethrows. I was the only one in the gym for that whole afternoon.
Fast forward...eh...30 years. My philosohy has been that each of us has our own special gifts, some better than others, and that's just fine.
Until I met Mary.
Mary is our Amish 'neighbor'. If I was Amish, we would be best friends and well...cook together. But since I am one of the 'English folks', (or as my neighbor likes to say a 'wannabe'), I just go over once a week to buy her produce and spy on what she's cooking up in the kitchen. I get a lot of ideas from Mary, but the most interesting, I notice, is that old high school competitive urge starts to peak out during our visits.. Like the time I went over and Mary was complaining about being 'lazy' (as I noticed her 8 loaves of bread rising on her cookstove, her cookies being mixed by hand, maple syrup being cooked down over the fire and hundreds of noodles drying on the indoor clothesline). I asked about the noodles and she generously showed me how to make them. Inspired, I said, "I think I will go home and make some...how many dozen eggs do I need?" At this point, her husband comes in and says, "Oh, Mary uses ten dozen, but you wouldn't need that much." I ponder this for a minute. "I'll take twelve."
Game on Mary.
Well, I did go home and it took me a whole week to get around to making egg noodles with twelve dozen eggs. (and, subsequently six angel food cakes with the whites). It is kind of like the time I made ten loaves of bread in one day to feed my family of...eh...four (after a visit to Mary, of course). Or the time Perry was over to help build my home and he mentioned it was 'just weird to see a girl work on carpentry related things." I had the chicken and sheep's quarters built the very next day. Mary is the reason I have ten five gallon buckets of dried beans (pinto, black, kidney, garbanzo and navy, thank you), cornmeal, brown rice and wheatberries stocked away in my root cellar.
Well, to be completely honest, Mary is the reason I even have a root cellar.
Mary has taught me how to can, make jam, be patient with utter chaos surrounding me, take plants and magically turn them into medicine, keep my chickens laying eggs in the winter and nurse a sick calf back to health. I adore this woman and like to think of my competitive nature with her as mostly 'healthy'...
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have 20 quarts of strawberries from Mary's garden to can.