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Peach Velocity

I am bipolar. It’s okay. I’m used to being bipolar. It took a mere 35 years to get a correct diagnosis and two psychiatrists misdiagnosed me. I’m better now. I’m on really good meds. I spend most of my time at center and when I dance above center, I’m able to pull myself back to center fairly quickly. Before I had a correct diagnosis, I’d walk into a room and feel as if a hurricane blew in with me. One of my teachers in college told me I gave people the feeling they had  to back up three feet just to be able to breathe.

Peach Velocity

My grandmother wanted to be a home economics teacher because those were the highest paid teachers. The depression happened, she quit school and went to work to support herself, five siblings and her parents – a decision she resented for the rest of her life. Soon after leaving school, she married a violent drunk. My grandmother once told me that the happiest year of her life was when she was 36. I knew the answer, but I asked anyway. Why? “Because that’s the year my first husband died. ”

In the 40’s, if you lived in a rural setting as my grandmother did, you canned vegetables and fruits. There are two ways to can fruits and vegetables – boiling water bath or pressure canner. All fruits can be safely canned in a boiling water bath. Put peaches in the glass quart jars, screw the lid on just so, submerge the jars in boiling water, put the lid on the canner, and 20 minutes later, remove the jars from the boiling water. Repeat until all the fruits are canned. If the lids have been screwed on properly, they will make a snapping sound as the fruit in the jars cools and creates a vacuum seal.

All vegetables must be canned using a pressure canner. Fruits can be canned in a pressure canner, but it is time consuming and far faster to use a boiling water bath. Put the fruits or veggies in quart glass jars, pour water over the veggies or syrup over the fruits. Screw the lids on just so. Put the jars in the pressure canner. The water, which need not be boiling at this point, only needs to come up to the halfway mark on the jars. Screw on the canner lid. The lid is designed to stay on the canner after pressure has built up. This keeps the lid from turning into a missile. Put the petcock on the little post (allows pressure to build up), and either put the weight on the other post or watch the pressure gauge. Once the pressure has built up to the required amount – anywhere between 5 and 18 pounds per square inch – keep the pressure at the required level for the required time. Usually 20 minutes at 10 psi. Once the time has been reached, turn off the burner and allow the pressure canner to cool completely. This step is critical. Once the canner is completely cool, check the gauge to make sure the pressure that built up has all been slowly released. Then slowly remove the petcock (so you can be sure the pressure has been released), remove the lid, remove the jars, and repeat until all the fruits and veggies are canned. It’s the cooling down time – around a half hour – that makes pressure canning time consuming.

My grandmother, her sister, and her sister’s twin toddlers were at my grandmother’s home canning peaches. My grandmother decided to use the pressure canner as a boiling water bath. That was a stupid thing to do. She then put the lid on the pressure canner. Even stupider. She put the petcock on – really, really, stupid. After 20 minutes, she took the lid off the canner. This required considerable strength because pressure canner lids are specially designed so the cook cannot remove the lid while the pressure builds or after the pressure has built and hasn’t been released. My grandmother forcing the lid off the canner was beyond stupid. Seven quarts of peaches flew out of the canner, hit the ceiling, and hot syrup, hot peaches and glass shards rained down upon my grandmother. My grandmother was scalded. The toddlers were unhurt although roughly 65 years later, my cousin vividly remembers this incident.

There are times when I’m quite sure that I know precisely how those peaches felt just before and just after hitting the ceiling. That’s peach velocity.

Even with brain fracture and decompression, retirement has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself ever. Peach velocity is a memory. Before retirement, it was a constant possibility.

The anxiety pains aren’t as bad today as they were yesterday. Healing is happening. It took me more than 15 years to become this broken. While I want instant healing, I know it’s going to take time. I do not and will not miss peach velocity.

Still…. I think there’s a peach velocity quilt in there somewhere.



I retired from the Public Defender Dept. November 12, 2015 after 21+ years as a criminal defense attorney. Now, I'm a full time multi-media artist and writer starting on a new adventure. As an artist, I create with beads, fabric, fiber, and ceramic clay. Sometimes separately; sometimes in assorted combinations. You can find my on-line store at: