When our daughter gets married this June, she’ll include the tradition of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”; all items meant to bring good luck. “Old” is a ring from her grandmother; “New” a necklace. “Borrowed” is still to be determined while “Blue” is the garter her husband-to-be tosses at the reception. Now, if the “blue choose” were mine to make, I’d go with a handful of juicy berries instead.
This week I learned a few things about blueberries, my favorite fruit in any orchard, grove, or patch on earth. Just outside the tiny town of Whiting, Maine (pop. 482) you’ll find Josh Pond, a farm known for its “organic hand-raked wild” blueberries. Josh Pond is harvesting into its fourth generation and its 150 acres include a herd of Oberhasli goats and a giant field of strawberries. In other words, shop on the JP website and you’ll find a variety of cheeses, jams, and jellies alongside the blues.
You already know a thing or two about organic produce but perhaps you’ve never heard the term “hand-raked”. Check out the following video (which beats any description in words). It’s a soothing process to watch and a bountiful harvesting technique. Josh Pond can hand-rake up to 2,000 pounds of blueberries a day. They’re then quick-frozen, packed into 5-pound boxes, and shipped directly to you…at $100 USD a pop. Do the math. Josh Pond grosses $40,000/day on its blueberries alone.
$20 for a pound of blueberries is way steep for my purchasing power. I’m reluctant to pay half as much, and even then I drop them sparingly into my yogurt/granola breakfast. But I may be stingier than I think. JP customer Chelsea Balboni gushes in her online review, “My wild organic blueberry subscription has changed my life. Every month a 5-pound case is overnighted to me…” Every month? Who spends $1,200/year on blueberries (besides Ms. Balboni)? For the record, I’m not knocking Josh Pond. If you want the best blues North America has to offer, JP is your go-to. Just be ready to pay.
Maybe I still spend more on blueberries than you do, but I find it interesting my blues choose – when it comes to food in general – is very limited. Quick – name a blue food (besides Josh Pond blueberries). All I could come up with was Blue Curacao, which isn’t food so much as a liqueur served as a cordial or in tropical drinks. Blue Curacao, ironically, comes from the dried peel of bitter orange and is then dyed blue. (Why blue? No idea, but we’re getting off-topic here).
A consult of a blue food list comes up with just a few worthy entries. Blue crab. Blue corn (tortillas). Blue (or bleu) cheese. And Brilliant blue FCF, a synthetic “safe and non-toxic” dye for ice cream, cotton candy, medications, and cosmetics. I half-expected to find Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts on the list but then I remembered: the wholly chemical toaster pastries contain no blueberries whatsoever. (Okay, maybe a dried trace of them, way-y-y-y down on the ingredients list.)
No post on blueberries would be complete without a mention of Violet Beauregarde. Violet who? C’mon now, channel your inner Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Violet was the obnoxious, gum-loving rich kid who sampled a chew of Willy Wonka’s four-course dinner gum, including the blueberry pie dessert that “wasn’t quite perfected yet”. In a wonderful scene (from the classic 1971 version), Violet turns deep blue as she chews, and inflates into a giant blueberry. The last we see of Violet, the Oompa-Loompas are rolling her away to the juice press to be squeezed back to normal size again.
All of this blues talk reminds me I need to read my granddaughters Blueberries For Sal, one of my favorite childhood stories. Also, I’ll probably cave to one of the giant blueberry muffins my wife brought home from Costco the other day. As for the tempting bounty from Josh Pond? Ah, if only I could purchase just a handful for my daughter on her wedding day. Instead, I’ll leave those hand-raked beauties to blues-choosers with a little more discretionary income.
Lego Grand Piano – Update #14
(Read about how this project got started in Let’s Make Music!)
You’ve seen this before, as we cruise past the 2/3 DOWN, 1/3 TO GO road sign. Bag #14 – of 21 bags of pieces – added another seven keys to the board for a total of twenty-four. There’s a lone key remaining to the far right; then the whole assembly goes into the body of the piano (and heaven help me on that maneuver).
Piano keys are getting repetitive so let’s talk about Sergei Rachmaninoff. His name is intimidating but his music has an interesting connection with pop. If you remember Eric Carmen, you already know a little Rachmaninoff. All By Myself is based on Sergei’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Never Gonna Fall in Love Again is based on Sergei’s Symphony No. 2. Both Carmen songs were huge hits but they’re also depressing. Did Eric seek comfort in classical music when his personal relationships weren’t going his way? Maybe, but it wasn’t without expense. The Rachmaninoff estate brought “copyright” to Carmen’s attention, and promptly helped themselves to 12% of the royalties on both songs.
Running Build Time: 11.0 hours. Musical accompaniment: Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Symphony No. 2 in E minor, and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Leftover pieces: 6.
Conductor’s Note: Forget Eric Carmen. Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody… is one of the most moving classical compositions you’ll ever hear. The piece starts ever so simply on the piano, then brings in the orchestra to dramatic, sweeping interpretations. My wife isn’t a classical music fan yet she loves Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody… especially since it’s the theme of the romantic time-travel movie Somewhere in Time. Have a listen here.