Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

Errand Day

Hot peppers gleaned from the garden before the first frost.

When we had insufficient income to pay bills few errands were run.

We made almost no home repairs, delayed maintenance on everything, and minimized activities that required resources not on hand.

Now that our retirement income is set, and supplemented with a couple of extra jobs, I can afford to run errands. Yesterday I did so for the first time in a while.

The day began in the kitchen. Using onions and Swiss chard from the farm I made frittata for breakfast. Next, I sliced apples and filled the dehydrator. Sunday is the county party’s fall barbecue so I tested a recipe for applesauce cake to see if it would fit in the foil pans I bought for potlucks. The recipe fit without modification. In between this cookery I managed to glean the garden, bringing in peppers and tomatoes that would be damaged by frost. The kale looks really good right now and a freeze would make it taste better.

I cut five pieces of applesauce cake, put them on a plate, covered with foil, then delivered them to the public library while still warm. The librarian was making tea so the timing was perfect.

Next stop was the orchard where I hiked half an hour up and down hills, picking five varieties of apples: Regent, Crimson Crisp, Mutsu, Fuji, and New York 315. I also got some Snow Sweet and Honeycrisp in the sales barn. The season is about over yet there are lots of apples remaining on the trees.

From the orchard I drove to the recycling center in the parking lot of the former Hy-Vee supermarket on North Dodge Street. This is my go-to place for paper and magazine recycling. With our new clean-up project we are getting rid of lots of old magazines, too many for the curbside bin.

I pulled into nearby Hy-Vee where I bought organic celery and a packet of Morningstar Farms Recipe Crumbles for a pot of chili planned over the weekend. I’d been discussing nutritional yeast with one of the orchard owners so I bought a small container of Bragg’s brand to try it. The recipe we discussed was serving boiled or baked potatoes with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and a dollop of yogurt. I’m now one step closer to trying it. They did not have the organic mayonnaise I sought, so I continued to Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s is a store on the island that is the Iowa River Landing. This 180-acre mixed use development borders on the weird side. An arena is being built there and there are high rise apartment buildings, a hotel, a university-affiliated clinic and retail outlets. Despite having a range of activities, there is no sense of community at Iowa River Landing. I picked up two jars of organic mayonnaise and two of French Dijon Mustard. Staff was very friendly.

Westward to a big box home improvement store where I sought a replacement baseboard register for one of the bathrooms. Borrowing a tape measure from staff, I found the one I needed. On the way out I made an impulse purchase of a small bottle of 50:1 fuel mix for my trimmer. Expensive, but the right fuel is important for high-speed, small engines. My trimmer has been repaired twice since I purchased it so paying extra for proper fuel.

Final stop on the loop of the county seat was a drug store where I bought sundries, then drove home through three roundabouts and over two lakes.

Later that afternoon we went to the public library where Jacque delivered a book project she’d been working on as a volunteer and picked up the next. While she reviewed things with staff, I browsed the used book cart to see what was available.

I eschewed community cookbooks this time (how many of those can a person digest?) and bought good copies of a couple of works on my reading list. I also bought Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  by Philip K. Dick and In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World by Gabriele Galimberti, the latter of which I read last night. What a marvelous book of women’s stories, recipes, and photos of the women with their ingredients facing a photo of the dish they created.

Moving from low wages to an adequate retirement income won’t make us rich, except in the ability to get out, run errands, visit with friends, and buy things we need to sustain our lives in a turbulent world.