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Human Behaviour, Life Never the Same, Daddy Are You Out There?

Good Morning from blistery, wintery Prince Edward Island

It is definitely a time for a warm cuppa of "hot chocolate." Go get one, I'll wait.

Watch this fun video, Where do I enjoy Hot Chocolate? 

Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you.

I have been always interested in human behaviour and the human condition.

Someone gave me a jar of strawberry jam way back in 1977 and since life was never the same.

As a young man, I was searching for my purpose. A positive purpose. I wanted to direct my zest for doing things towards making a positive difference.

“You can either choose to wait around and hope life gives you what you want—or you can choose to jump up and put in the work to make your dream come true.”  Oscar Auliq-Ice

When I open a jar of preserves I have an urge to inhale the aroma. If you order ours, please open and take a deep breathe first. 

When we take the time to smell and savour the moment, it is like a time capsule. It hopefully takes us to memories associated with a time of year or to memories of nature and or family time.

When I made the decision to start the adventure of making “jam” for a living. I need to know more about it. I used to go to the grocery stores and watch people buying “jam”.

Once they had made their choice and placed it in the cart, I would approach them and start a conversation. After introducing myself, I introduced them to my dream of wanting to make preserves for a living. I then would ask if they would mind telling me why they bought that particular brand.

Two stories I remember, which can still make me emotional.

One elderly gentleman had put a jar of Robertson’s Golden Shred Marmalade in his cart. There is No judgment made on my part, but his cart was not filled with expensive items. Yet this was the most expensive marmalade on the shelf and now in his cart. I was curious about why he purchased this one.

He began to tell me of his armed service during World War in Britain. And how they served this brand of marmalade several times a day to the troops.

I asked if he liked it, he said it was ok, but the memory was the reason he purchased it. I tear up now as I remember him telling the story. He was elderly and frail but he had his memory and his marmalade.

Another time, I watched a middle-aged woman put a jar of Guest raspberry jam in her cart. This got my “questioner” antennas up I had to know why.

After introducing myself and my dream and once she got over the shock of this crazy kid asking why she purchased that jar, she opened up.

She shared with me that she came from a poor family but that her Dad was a good provider and a good Dad. He would always try and make things special for the children. The family always had toast with Guest Strawberry jam for breakfast. When the bottle was empty, Dad would not let it be wasted. He always made something special for the children.

Her Dad would take cold milk, fill the jar and dance around the kitchen shaking the jarred concoction. When he finished his dance he would pour the “strawberry shake” into glasses for the children to enjoy.

Congratulations to this Dad for putting such a memory into his daughter.

Speaking of Dad’s, Coldplay recently dropped a new album on the world and I must say, I am enjoying it.

There are many songs that I enjoy, this song Daddy hits me.
Daddy, are you out there?
Daddy, won't you come and play?
Daddy, do you not care?
Is there nothing that you wanna say?
I know
You're hurting too
But I need you, I do
Daddy, if you're out there
Daddy, all I want to say
You're so far away
Oh, you're so far away
That's okay, it's okay
I'm okay
The songwriter, Chris Martin shared that this song is partly about how he feels about himself as a dad. About being a bit too absent when touring. It’s a lot to do with certain people in his life, their dads have either left or are not really engaged. And it also was about learning about the criminal justice system. The problem of mass incarceration which he has been learning a lot about as well. He was thinking about all those dads who have been taken from their kids and kids removed from their dads.

To the woman who shared the story of her Dad and the “strawberry shake”, I hope all is well and thank you for the story.

After finishing cooking school in Toronto, I looked for another job. I already had a full time one but with 37 hours of school time now available I had to do something productive.
Lo, and behold reading the help wanted section at the "Manpower Office". ( think that name existed as our federal employment centre.)
I found a woman looking for someone to help with her jam-making business. Making this is a shorty, I’ll say that she hired me and I started to learn. But what I did learn was to make “jam”, took a lot of sugar.
I decided in 1982, that I would try and figure out how to make “jam” without sugar or at least with as little as possible. Again, short story on this today. We did achieve it through a lot of trial and error. It is still a challenge but we are up to it every day.

Since starting the business, it is so nice to see our preserves used as food gifts. Bringing memories of days past or at least memories of trips to Prince Edward Island. 

(Warning: Shameless promotion ahead.)

It is an affordable treat that is less expensive than a bottle of wine and the added bonus of memories in a jar.

I would love to hear your "jam" stories. If you comment, I won't share if you don't want me to. Or you can just hit reply to the newsletter and it comes to me. 

Well, time to go, warm the car, gather up the blue bags, head to the waste depot, and then the farmers market.
To our American friends, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
We are currently getting a bit of old man winter hitting us this morning, so I am not sure I will get where I want to go. So to all be safe and be nice out there.

I have been listening to an oldie but goodie. George Winston's December. 

iTunes Notes: Not all great Christmas recordings are by the old crooners. Pianist George Winston’s 1982 album December—which falls between other seasonal albums Autumn and Summer—is a touching study of mood and consonance, giving off airy sonorities

Sample Listen Here

With love from Prince Edward Island,
A man was putting up a knotty pine wall in the living room. His young son was curious.
“What are those holes for?” he asked.
“They’re knotholes,” replied the father.
“If they’re not holes,” the boy asked puzzled, “Then what are they?”
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Donna Carlson - December 14, 2019

I love your hot chocolate video!

Hilary Clare - December 6, 2019

Hi Bruce, I am always inspired in a positive way by reading your blog. I am forwarding a link for you to watch because it’s an inspired video on being creative no matter what stage or age you’re at, or where you live. Hope you like it:

Paula Mueda - December 4, 2019

Thanks for your latest blog, Bruce. Interesting hearing about how you got into the jelly-making business. It reminded me of my grandmother making mostly grape jelly when we lived in Allston, Mass. during my childhood. She also made blueberry jam from blueberries my sisters and I picked in Gloucester, Mass. (beach town), but most of the blueberries were for pies my father made for his bakery in Cambridge, Mass. (this was during the 1940s). I can still smell those grapes and blueberries to this day! Blessings to you as the holiday season approaches. Now I need to order some of your jams and jellies for gifts before it’s too late! Thanks again for all the encouragement and positive vibes we get from your blogs!

Sharon L Lapointe - December 1, 2019

Well December 1 will be talked about here in Woodstock, ON as a mess of ice covered everything outside. Supposed to continue until late today. Hope we do not lose our hydro.
Went to Johnny Reid’s Christmas show in London last night, believe me he did not disappoint.
Love your “jam” stories. My late husband’s favorite was high bush cranberry (wild cranberry) that we picked along the riverbanks north of Sturgeon Falls, ON. One problem, when they are cooking my kids used to say that it smelled like dirty feet. They liked the jam though.
Looking forward to next blog.

Evelyne Beaudry - December 1, 2019

Thank you Bruce for sharing the beginning of your jam enterprise. I was on a 1-year teaching exchange on the Island in 1985. I remember buying your first productions of raspberry and champagne jams when you were selling in that little building on Brackley Point Road. What a long journey since. Incredible what determination and believing in yourself will make you achieve. Visiting your store every year brings back fond memories.

colette lawson - November 30, 2019

Loved your story today. I am a jam maker, Did farmers market for 15 years on whidbey Island washington. A lot of fun but a tremendous amount of work. I also used low sugar recipes. I just made my favorite Christmas jam Blood orange marmalade, most delicious! I have been to your place and it is magical. Would love to buy a place there someday. In fact in all my travels, I fell in love with it there. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas time.

MURDOCK Roy MORRISON - November 30, 2019

Great jam stories and maybe that is why you love " jamming " as we know you love music and maybe you just love to get together with others and just jam . All nice , human interest stories and sure glad that you met that lady that needed a person to help her make her jam – otherwise we may never had had the PEI Preserve Company . Murdock

Dr Bob Griffin - November 30, 2019

Time to start shoveling. 8 more inches of powder overnight and a long walk and driveway for this old codger. Thought I would make a cuppa tea before facing the windswept 9F task. Plugged in the electric for hot water and then watched your video. I immediately opted for hot cocoa instead (no idea why).

Sat and sipped, reading touching stories of your jam adventure and had to make a toast and jam (strawberry/rhubarb preserves from the case of 12 different selections we bought a while back). Thought “THIS is a good day”, despite a sore neck/shoulder and daunting task of shoveling ahead.

As I sat, the single gal who bought the old house next door and worked hard fixing it up all summer came out and I heard her snow-blower kick in. It labored hard in the deep snow and then the noise shifted to MY front walk and four passes down MY driveway. I stuck my head out of the door and caught her attention to signal my gratitude. Hope she smile back, but the muffler around her face showed just her eyes.

THAT is what Thanksgiving looks like in the Mountain West of Wyoming. Friends like you helping me to relax and, yes, tear up a little as I sip cocoa and neighbors like Steph who know how difficult my day loomed and was willing to lighten the load.

Thank you, Bruce, for lightening the load of all who read your words today.

Peter Kerr - November 30, 2019

Just to keep you guessing, this note comes from Chattanooga, Tennessee where Mary and I have come to celebrate her niece’s wedding. The next day, we celebrated our second Thanksgiving this year. The first was in Nova Scotia with my own niece and her family.

My grandmother always made our marmalade – never from the store for us – as well as guava and apple jellies. I can still recall the sights, smells, and tastes, not only of the resulting preserves but also of the boiling pots and the filling of the jars.

I only made jam once and that was because my land on the New London Road was famous in the local area for its wild blueberries. Just prior to my first trip to India in 1973, my travel buddy and I picked a ton of the delicious berries and made many quarts of “reduced-sugar” jam. (We were back-to-the-land hippies, after all!) We used my own green apples for the pectin but obviously didn’t get the amount quite right. I still remember how delicious that jam was – it was like my grandmother’s blueberry pie in a jar.

Thanks for “stirring up” more memories which just happen to be another connection to my wonderful life and times on PEI.

Val LaBore - November 30, 2019

Good morning Bruce. I just realized that we are almost exactly diagonal across the continent from you, in the lower southwestern end of California. What a difference in weather. You with the extreme cold and snow, us with the wet cold days. You have four seasons; we have basically two: brown and browner. But we’re loving the current heavy rains we’re getting right now, and also enjoy a cup of hot cocoa while watching the rain and wind outside. Our favorite cocoa is Boyd’s, which is pretty hard to find now since they quit making the little pouches of dry cocoa mix, but I found it in pods on Amazon.
Memories of jam; that would have to be when I made my first homemade jam at home. I learned how to make it in high school, using apple juice into jelly. Hahah! But my favorite was flying up to my Grandma’s house as a teenager in Washington State, buying raspberries at the local farmer’s market, and then freezing them, wrapping the cartons in newspaper, and flying them home in my hard, plastic suitcase. The agents there looked curiously at the frost on the outside of my suitcase and smiled when I said frozen raspberries. Years later my Mom would send me jams she made from the raspberries she picked there but the weight got too expensive. So I’m back to our old staple here, Knott’s Berry Farm jams and jellies. Pretty good. And you’re right, I always smell a jar when I open it. It tells you more about that jam and brings out the memories. I think that’s why we liked your blueberry jam so much. Oh, yes, we did have blueberry jam in WA too.
And thank you for the reminder of George Winston. I hadn’t listened to him in a long time, and I think I’ve got a couple of his cd’s stashed away somewhere.
Feeling warm and stuffed with turkey in So. Calif, Val

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