Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And the winning reassurance is. . . .

"It's very unlikely that you will get botulism!"

That actually made me laugh out loud. As long as it's unlikely, well then.

But so far so good. I have now canned nearly a gallon of wild grape jam, which nicely combines my fear a) that they're not really grapes but in fact deadly nightshade masquerading grapily, and b) that, unlikely as it is, we will get botulism.

Oh, but the grapes! You can smell them everywhere right now. And when you mention them to anyone, they say, "Oh! So that's what that grapey smell was!" And yes. That's what it was. It was the grapes. The smell of grapes combined with the rust-colored afternoon light is catapulting me into fall. It feels good.

I responded to some of the comments on the last post. I'm sorry about your fish troubles, honestly. Keep me posted.

Hope you're all well and happy. New wondertime columns are here and here. Please read and comment over there, if you can!


  1. I will! I will comment over there. But I just wanted to say that I LOVED your article in the Wondertime magazine. I bought a copy the other day, and I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the whole magazine. I don't really enjoy magazines so much lately. I've been thinking about doing some freelancing, so I was browsing the bookstore when I saw it. How wonderful that wondertime is.

  2. Heheh. "...masquerading grapily" smell, too! That's some highly-evolved deadly, deadly nightshade.

    Do you get the dark purple concord-style grapes where you are. If so, I want your recipe. Oh, to have that taste year-round!

  3. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Sometime you should do a little postie (or postie-ette) about commenting. Because I CAN comment over at Wondertime, but I don't LIKE to because their site is so ANNOYING it makes me want to develop a principle and then STAND for it.

    BUT, if you were like, "Hey, moron, more comments = more writing work for yours truly," I'd be like, "Okay, principle, CUL8R!" I can make a small sacrifice for a greater good--but only if the good is actually greater.

  4. And I just DID comment over there.
    I've known many, many jam-makers and not one, to date, has perished from the dread botulism.

  5. i love that people would say "oh, that's what that grapey smell was"


  6. I just love Concord grapes and one of my fondest memories is of eating my grandmothers, Concord grape jelly.

    I agree with Sage, share the recipe!

    Glad you are all doing well and I promise to head over to Wondertime and comment.

  7. I am very jealous of the fact that you have not only "wild grapes" but enough of them to make such vast quantities of jelly! Here we have blackberries that grow like great flesh-ripping weeds, but we pick and process what we can. If you tell me that you have wild blackberries too, I may just cry.

  8. hmm, the grape smell was coming from grapes! Imagine that!

  9. Anonymous9:45 PM

    Just five minutes my son bit into an apple from our apple tree, and said, "Mama! This tastes like a grape! Do you want to taste?" So I did, and it did! It was a grapey apple, of all things.

  10. I loved your latest article in Wondertime. The last minute birthday card scene was oh so familiar to me. This weird parent/ child time warp is something I struggle with on a regular basis. Loved the bedtime scenario too - it could have been my house. Why is it that I can't just sit back and savor all those "lollygagging moments". Glad to see that word is part of your vocabulary too. Thanks Catherine! You are the best.

    P.S. I like to look back at your old Baby Center columns from time to time and when I tried to this week the old link wasn't working. Where can I find them? I'm going to print them all up.

  11. Anonymous10:24 PM

    I, too, had a rough time finding the old journal entries, but I was able to type the title into the "search" part in the middle of the screen. Then it usually comes up to "Decaffinating Catherine" entry and if you click on it, it brings you to the article. Then, at the end, you can click on "read earlier posts" and it'll bring you to the whole long list of the entries. Hope this helps.

    And, Catherine, so we don't have to have a heart attack, could you please put them in a book so we could just have them forever and not have to worry about Babycenter getting rid of them someday? Thank you so much!

  12. I grew up with a backyard filled with wild grapes. But my mother was too into canning tomatoes to bother with jam. But we loved to suck the middles out of the grapes and the chew on the skins...sounds odd but delish as a kid.

    This is my first visit...thanks for the memory.

  13. I'm glad I'm not the only one who needs Catherine Newman fixes of when your kids were young. I agree they are really screwing things up at Baby Center with the new website. But if I can't find them I just re-read 'Waiting for Birdy', for the katrillionith time. BTW I can't comment at Wondertime as I live in Australia and they wont let me sign in without an American address. Which is a shame because I would have to be one of your biggest fans. But not in an obsessive stalking internet way. I'm remembering Michael said that comment once about a doctor you goggled at the Shriner hospital.

  14. Another tip for Kelly.

    If you go to July 2006 on this blog [i.e. Catherine Newman blog home page] Catherine has put on a hyperlink on the word "archive" (under my pimping introduction).

    Click on that word and that should take you to some of the old Baby Center entries.

    Hope this helps.

  15. Thanks Meg and Jules for searching ideas.

    I can find individual entries if I know the titles and type them into search Baby Center, but when I click on read earlier posts at the end of the post it just says Safari can't find server.

    To have them all in a book would be great, perhaps an expanded version of Waiting for Birdy? I'd certainly buy it (or any other book you write Catherine).

  16. Like Jules I have a non-U.S. email address, but so far I haven't had any problems posting at Wondertime. Too bad the Wondertime people can't just head over to your blog to see all the relative comments...

  17. I am comforted beyond reason that your tooth fairy too give Sacajawea gold coins. The fairies where I live leave $5 and $10 bills! Unfathomable to me, since I rec'd quarters! Sorry the teeth came out so violently, but he is adorable, that Ben, with his wide toothy grin.

    And Catherine, why I feel the need to tell you this is also beyond reason... but I am without sleep and I know you'll understand my horror... but my friends lost their 8 year old in a car accident yesterday. Nightmare situation, drunk driver running a red light, slamming head on into the side of their minivan... injuring the mom, son and killing the daughter, all while the dad was in the car behind them, watching. There are not words to describe their loss and hurt and I am helpless and hopeless. Why an 8 year old girl, just like my daughter, her friend? Life changed dramatically today. Everything looks different.

    Hug your beautiful children, Catherine... and all of you who read this section. And make sure they have buckled up, because this sweet child was still trying to get the seat belt strapped when he hit them.

  18. Anonymous9:17 AM

    My God, Jill. How horrible. I'm so sorry.

    Also, to Jill and Catherine about the amount of money the tooth fairy gives, THANK YOU! My 7-year-old is always telling me her friends get $5 from the tooth fairy, or worse, $10 a week for allowance!! We're giving our girls $1 a week for allowance, and only started that a month or so ago. Our tooth fairy also will be tight with her money -- our very first loose tooth is still hanging on by a thread. I'm thinking she'll give $1.


  19. Jill, that's terrible. I'm so sorry.

    Sending healing thoughts your friend's way. Peace and beautiful memories.

    xo Catherine

  20. Anonymous1:33 PM

    Oh, every year I hope I am back in New England long enough to pluck some concord grapes from an ownerless roadside tangle as I did when I was growing. There is nothing like the jam they make, nothing. Here in Virginia we just don't seem to have them. You are lucky!

  21. Anonymous1:38 PM

    Jill: That's so horrible,and I will confess that (not unlike Catherine) that's one of my weird fears: that we will be hit in the car before the seat belt is buckled. My very warmest thoughts go out to them and to you for suffering such a loss.

    Catherine: We do Sacajawea dollars for the Tooth Fairy! Not only are they gold, but my oldest son (Ben's age) was heard to say, "Hey, you know this money is special, because there is a woman on it!" Yeah!

  22. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Catherine -- It is really very strange that I don't actually know you (except in that non-stalker Internet sort of way). I wrote about the Sacagawea coins, above, before actually reading your new column, which is why I didn't know about the Hammock Incident. But you know what? We have Extreme Hammocking too. Except in our family, due to the influence of the youngest, the kids say, "I'm going outside to play in THE PANIC," (rhymes with hammock) and it has stuck because, well, that's not far from the reality of it all. And I would have commented at Wondertime, too, if I had been quick enough to think to lie about my birthday and other information that I am not comfortable providing them!

  23. I LOVE your wondertime column but it is a Pain in the Ass to comment over there! Maybe Family will be better?

    You are my favorite...

    Also, whoever left you the comment that your posts were too gorey- fooey on them. I love me a good barf story! =)

  24. Anonymous4:27 PM

    Marie Green,
    ME TOO! I LOVE the barf and poop and constipation and general bathroomesque stuff! Keep em' comming and that person who wrote that at Wondertime should shut it! You're great, Catherine!

  25. Anonymous9:00 AM

    I tried to post over on Wondertime after reading your new article about Ben's accident with his tooth but I couldn't remember my password.

    I just wanted to say maybe, possibly , you are Pregnant! You seem brave in situations less dire than that and it seems unlike you to get sick and feel lightheaded about his tooth! Even though there was a lot of blood, maybe it is pregnancy hormones making you feel that way!

  26. Anonymous10:20 AM


    Please please please write something else if only so I don't have to keep seeing my quote up there: "It is unlikely that you will get botulism!" I really just wanted to tell you that only low-acid foods cause botulism, not things like pickles and jams. I put "unlikely" just because to say that you WILL NOT get it is not anything I can truly positively know. But believe me, ever since I read this Carol Shields book where a woman kills her mother-in-law (accidentally!) by giving her canned string beans, I have been really on top of not getting botulism. My husband makes lots of jam and pickles and tomatoes every summer. We eat it all year long and it is unlikely that we will get botulism either!

  27. Anonymous4:21 PM

    Is it less likely that you will get botulism (or some other food-borne illness) eating your own canned food or eating food from a store? Say, fresh spinach, for example? Or canned chili? Maybe you should just pickle everything.

    Also, is Wondertime owned by Disney? I saw that was. Does that mean you can get free tickets to Disney World?

  28. Anonymous2:24 PM

    I wanted to echo the other commenters - I too would be the expanded "Waiting for Birdy" or a book of the Babycenter writings; I love re-reading them, but Babycenter/Parentcenter has become a nightmare!

  29. Catherine,

    Totally unrelated but have you read Jen M's most recent blog entry. If you really are friends with her in the flesh please give her a really big hug. She needs you and all her friends.