Friday, February 20, 2015

Rest In Peace, Dad

    William M. Near, age 90, passed away peacefully at his home, February 20, 2014 with family and his beloved dog, Zoey by his side.
    Born in North East, Pennsylvania to the late Winfred and Julia (Schultz) Near on January 19, 1925, he grew up on a dairy farm in Sherman, New York, where they farmed with horses and logged with oxen.
    Bill married Norriel (Nonie) Lanphere April 28, 1950 and they were married for 62 years before she passed away in 2012.  They lived in Ripley, New York where they raised five children.
    In his younger years Bill went to all the barn dances in the area as well as local square dances where he loved to dance the ladies around the floor. Always a gentleman, he never missed an opportunity to compliment a waitress, nurse or store clerk and make them smile.
When he returned home, he worked on the Nickel Plate railroad, and then became an over-the-road truck driver. Always mechanically inclined, he used his skills as an auto and truck mechanic for many years. He drove school bus in Ripley for several years and he worked as a custodian at BOCES, in Lakewood, NY, then as a security guard for Mogen David Winery in Westfield, then  North East Marina, North East, PA.
    Bill loved music and listened to Molly B’s Polka Party faithfully for years. Besides polka music he loved to listen to bagpipes. In his later years he decided to teach himself various instruments to “keep his mind sharp.” He learned to play the concertina, mountain dulcimer and autoharp and while never proficient at any of them, he enjoyed the learning process and practiced them throughout the years.

    At the age of 17 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, aboard the USS Izard and USS Ross, taking part in the Philippine’s Liberation including the battles of Leyte Gulf and Lingayen Gulf as well as the battles of Iwo Jima and Truck Island among others, earning 13 battle stars in all.
    Discharged in 1945 from the Navy, Bill and a friend worked their way across the country, doing odd jobs.  Upon his return, he enlisted in the Navy Reserves in 1950 and was called up for the Korean Conflict and served on the USS Lioba until 1952.
    Over the years, Bill adopted several dogs, but especially loved his Basset Hound, Herky, and his Dobermans, Sabrina and Sydney. He loved feeding the birds and watching them at the feeder, through his living room window.
    As well as his wife and parents, Bill was preceded in death by his sisters Alice Rogers of Erie, PA and Audrey Rowe of Corning, NY.
    He is survived by his children Robyn (Bob) Albright of Ripley; Shelley Near (Peter Boesch) of Erie, PA; Dawn (Ted) Rickenbrode of Ripley, NY; William Jr. (Aileen) of Orchard Park, NY; and Paris (Gill) Graham of Knoxville, Tennessee; twenty-one grandchildren, as well as six great-grandchildren; sisters Dorothy Johnson of Mesa, AZ and Betty Richardson of Berwyn, IL; a brother Gerald Near of California; as well as many nieces and nephews.
    Visitation will be at Mathews Funeral Home in Ripley, NY, services by Michael Fantauzzi of Fredonia, from noon until 2 p.m. on February 28, 2015. A private memorial service will be held at a later date. “Flowers are for the living,” Bill said. Please make a donation to the organization or charity of your choice in his name.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mandarin Oranges

     I've been canning mandarin oranges this last little while; since their season doesn't generally coincide with when we think of canning it does seem a bit odd to have the canning supplies out again. Canning season for me generally runs from May through October, unless I have a glut of meat which then gets canned in the winter. However, you must can when the season dictates and mandarin orange season has been running for a few months and is about to wind down.

     A mandarin orange is actually a tangerine, you've probably noticed the prepackaged bags of "cuties" in your store. To can citrus you peel the fruit and then remove as much of the pith as possible. Most of the cuties have a string running up the outside that is easily removable with your thumb nail and a larger amount of pith along the inside curve.
Fruit in the jar before adding liquid

   I prefer a blend of citrus, but couldn't find blood oranges or any other good deals, so I settled for grapefruit. I used the ratio of 1 pink grapefruit per 3 lbs of tangerines. The grapefruit isn't as cooperative and most of my pieces were shredded trying to remove the tough inner skin. Add sugar if you wish, I used a scant half cup. Place the fruit in a clean jar and boil your jar rubbers for a few minutes (or wash your metal lids if you prefer. :)  ) Leave about an inch headspace and fill with orange juice, or pineapple juice or sugar syrup if that's what floats your boat. Final headspace should be 1/2", remove air bubbles and process for 10 minutes in a boiling waterbath.
Jars filled with orange juice. Not quite so pretty.  :(

     A had a gal ask me once if I liked to can. The answer is no, no I don't. I can because it's an economic necessity, it has literally kept us alive when we had little else. I can because I have definite ideas about how people (and children especially) should eat and so I need to buy fruit in season and set it back against the time when fresh fruit choices are limited. I can because I believe that it's the epitome of hubris to think that God is going to step in and provide when I'm not willing to work for it. I like the feeling of satisfaction from seeing the shelves fill up with jars, I like feeling proud of myself and I like that our children are learning to appreciate this way of life, but I don't jump up and down and think "Oh goody, I get to process fruit and jar it. Woot!Woot!"  I'm like that about many things: sewing, knitting, spinning, canning, cheese making, butchering......... I like a job well done and I'm glad to do it, but I don't do it for kicks and grins. We must be careful to guard against the mindset that we should only do what we love, we should do what needs to be done cheerfully and thank God for the ability to do so. That's what I'm striving for.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Maple Syrup Candy

Today is Laura Ingalls Wilder's natal anniversary. Since my personal life is weighted down by one soul shaking blow after another, I really have little to blog about that anybody might want to read. Instead, here's a link to another blogger's post about making Maple Syrup Candy "Laura Ingalls Style!"