i rode down to lynn in the late morning to pick up my orders of canning jars from walmart. walmart might be ubiquitous in other areas, but living in the boston area, a visit to walmart is a rare treat since they aren't any nearby. my very first visit was back in march 2011, the north reading store; in june 2013 i went to the one in saugus lynn; and my most recent visit was september 2016 to the brockton store. i'd forgotten i'd been to the lynn walmart before. but back when i did it, i had no gps, and had to commit the complicated route to memory, a miracle i even made it there at all.

google map estimate said it'd take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get to the lynn walmart. it took me 40 minutes to get there. i lost my bearing a bit after revere and the stretch of road from route 1A north, but i kept on going and saw enough landmarks to figure i was still on course. route 1A into lynn lies on an isthmus so i thought i'd be able to see the ocean but that stretch of land is pretty heavily developed and i only saw some marshland. speaking of the marsh, there was definitely a foul smell, which could either be the marsh, or possibly the wheelabrator trash incineration plant. being so close to the airport, it was also weird having plane shadows pass over you like some giant prehistoric bird.

my order was at pickup but i decided to take a tour of the store first. lynn seems to be one of towns with a high coronavirus infection rate. in fact, in an adjacent empty parking lot the town had set up a free testing station. everyone entering the store had to be masked and there was an attendant by the gated entrance with masks for customers who forgot to bring one. business seems to be doing great based on how many people were shopping there, also because walmart carries practically everything at a cheap price, including grocery items. i noticed it was kind of dim in the store, not sure why that is, maybe a cost saving measure (or perhaps it was just my transition lenses glasses, still darkened because i've been riding in the sun for nearly an hour).

the aisles were very tight, but i guess the more things to offer. i actually moseyed to the canning jar section of the store to see what else they had to offer. they had plenty of selection. i finally went back out to the front of the store, to customer service, to ask about my pickup. they told me the pickup department was at the opposite end of the store, so i had to walk all the way back again. there was nobody there and when i rang the buzzer, nobody came. i could see my order and was going to just take it but then two employees came by. one of them gave me my order. "how do i pay for this?" i asked. they said it was already paid for, which meant it charged a credit card last night when i made the order without me realizing it.

i walked back out to the parking lot, 3 boxes of canning jars stacked on my arms. while putting the jars in my saddlebags, i saw a seagull had crapped all over the bags and on my helmet. i dabbed some disinfectant gel on a tissue and cleaned it off the best i could. i then sat on my motorcycle and reviewed the route home. one thing about google maps on a phone is i can't adjust the route like i can on the computer. it was showing me a way home that involved crossing the tobin bridge and i didn't want to do that. i memorized as much of the route as possible before finally leaving.

i almost got into an accident at the butler circle rotary. instead of taking the veterans of foreign wars parkway, i made a veered left from the right lane, all the way a red pickup truck nearly ran me off the road but stopped and honked at me before i disappeared down north shore road. i had the feeling i went the wrong way because suddenly i was riding through a residential neighborhood and none of it looked familiar. i ended up south of revere beach. i parked to check google maps again, then tried to get back to route 16.

i nearly died again while navigating all the side roads, almost riding down a one way street while another car came speeding perpendicular to where i was with no sign of stopping. i pulled out of the road at the last second and didn't a weird illegal u-turn to find my bearing, stopping to check google maps one more time to finally figure out where to go.

the final challenge was to get onto route 99 to sullivan square to union square, instead of continuing onwards on route 16 to the fellsway. luckily i saw the exit sign and followed behind a car that seemed to be going the same way. there was traffic at both sullivan and union square, but at least i was in familiar neighborhood so i didn't mind. the return trip - including the time i got lost - took over an hour.

after dropping off the jars inside the house, i went to star market to see what they were doing. apparently they're updating the store sign to something that looks smaller but more in keeping with their corporate identity. i bumped into dennis walking on crutches, he told me he fractured his tibia in a freak accident hitting the stone corner by his house. he also told me that our neighbor beth also recently got into a household accident, tearing her ACL.

i didn't have lunch yet and wasn't tempted to stop by several fast food restaurants i passed along the way back from lynn, but instead i ate one of the korean pastries.

around 4pm i started making my concord grape jelly. i looked up nearly a dozen different grape jelly recipes online, each one different. some called for additional pectin, others added lemon juice or lemon peel, a few included butter (apparently to reduce the foaming). in the end i basically followed the recipe that came with my box of sure jell fruit pectin.

first i peeled the grapes. the sure jell recipe didn't have this step, said just to crush the grapes, but i did it anyway, with the thinking that it'd make for a cleaner jelly. it ended up taking me more than 1-1/2 hours to peel all the grapes. i weighed the results: out of 5lbs. of grapes, i collected 2.5 lbs. of peeled grapes and 1.27 lbs. of peels, discarding 1.3 lbs. worth of stems and immature grapes. peeled grapes look like green bobas, or more accurately, amphibian eggs.

i then recombined the peeled grapes and peels and boiled them for 10 minutes to soften the grapes for straining. that begs the question: if i was going to combine them anyway, why even bother to take all that time peeling the grapes? so when making grape jelly, the grapes themselves provide the juice, while the peels provide that distinctive purple color. i watched a youtube video that very nicely explained why you separate the peels from the grapes: the peeled grapes are boiled then strained to primarily remove the seeds; afterwards the peels are added to the strained grape juice with sugar and reduced into a jelly. the peels add not only color but chunky texture to the final jelly.

because i used a combination of purple and green grapes, i knew i wasn't going to get that deep purple color, so i opted not to add the peels to the final jelly. instead i added the peels to the boiled grapes to give some color to the strained juice. maybe in the future if we can raise better concord grapes i can use the peels in the jelly.

the recipe also said to add 1-1/2 cups of water to the boiling grapes, to increase the liquid amount. i thought i'd have plenty of juice so i skipped this step.

i strained the boiled grapes. the seeds had separated out. i used a potato masher to try and squeeze out every last drop of juice from the mash. i was surprised that the juice was so milky and had this coral pink color. i tasted it, strong grape flavor, sweet and tart.

i grabbed some of my new bell canning jars and boiled them in a pot of water to sterilize them. i used 5 quilted 8 oz. jars and 3 smaller quilted 4 oz. jars.

i boiled the grape juice. earlier when i measured the portion, i found out i just had 3 cups of juice. the sure jell recipe called for 5 cups. it also asked for 7 cups of sugar. i reduced my sugar ingredient proportionally, so i only added 4.2 cups of sugar. this might make my jelly a little thicker because i didn't have 5 cups of juice but i was fine with that.

i first added the the box of sure jell pectin (1.75 oz). it was a fine powder and tasted mildly sweet. i stirred the pot until it came to a rolling boil then i added the sugar. i also added 1/2 tsp of butter, just a tiny amount, because i noticed it was foaming a lot.

this whole boiling part reminded me a lot of my quince jelly. first time i made it was october 2010, and the last time was november 2016. i might be able to make a very small batch this season because my parents' quince bush has produced a few fruits after we gave it a good pruning back in june. quince apples have a very high pectin content (it's obvious, given how tart the fruit is), so they're easy to jellify.

i boiled the pectin+sugar juice until it came to a rolling boil again, at which point i boiled for 1 minute before turning off the stove. the instructions make it sound very critical that the juice has to boil for exactly 1 minute without explaining why, like your jelly will fail if you boiled it longer. it is amazing though how fast the juice went from a milky liquid to a dark clear amber liquid. it has to be the added pectin.

some jelly makers scoff at the idea of adding pectin, they say it's unnatural, that the jelly doesn't taste right. but if it save me time from having to be constantly stirring the pot and monitoring the temperature, i say it's worth it. plus some fruits naturally don't contain very much pectin, and absolutely need additional pectin to solidify.

i scooped the liquid into the jars. i did it bare-handed which in hindsight was a bad idea. luckily i didn't get any liquid on myself, but it would not be good to get burning hot jelly on the skin. i could see the liquid already solidify on the surface, a jelly-like film forming. also the few drops that accidentally landed on the countertop had turned into jelly, so these were all good signs. i ended up filling all my jars exactly. i tasted some of the jelly, grapey, tart, and sweet.

i sealed the jars and put them back into boiling water to form a vacuum seal. i boiled them just 5 minutes (10 minutes if they were jam) before taking them out and setting them on a cutting board to cool. while i was in the living room i could hear popping sounds coming from the kitchen as the canning lids inverted to form a vacuum seal.

i've been trying to exorcise the smell demons from my old merrell hiking shoes. they're no longer waterproof but i still keep them anyway because they're otherwise in good shape cosmetically. oh, plus the fact they stink something fierce. the last time i treated the smell was not wearing them for a year. but now the smell is back. even with thick socks, the stench permeated into the feet itself, and it takes several washes to remove the foul odor, and even then, the olfactory system is so traumatized i still smell it days afterwards. i know there exists professional level odor eliminator designed to combat boot stink, but i figured i'd opt for the cheap solutions first. yesterday filled the shoes with baking soda. today i dumped out the powder and dunked the shoes in a solution of oxiclean. later in the evening i rinsed them off and set them outside to dry.

for dinner i heated up a large brick of frozen on-cor chicken alfredo pasta in the oven for an hour. it wasn't anything in particular, but i was hungry, so that made it delicious.

later while surfing on my phone in bed, i came across some captan fungicide on sale at amazon (8oz. $13), and bought a container. while immunox can take care of the black rot, captan is good for phomopsis, which we may or may not have in our concord grapes. so i graduated from spraying one fungicide this season to spraying two fungicides next season. i'm also thinking about buying some bird netting to prevent them from eating the grapes.