MarketSafe – Food Safety for Farmers’ Markets

For years now people have been telling me I should be selling my Canned Peach Salsa.  This just might be the year that I do finally get around to actually selling some of my Canned Peach Salsa.

Peach Salsa

I have been wanting to do my FoodSafe just to have it and as a good refresher course.  It has been quite some time since I learned about food safety in Mrs. Morton’s Food and Nutrition classes in high school.  

When looking for a FoodSafe course online, I came across this one that is geared towards Farmers’ Markets:

MarketSafe is a food safety training program for farmers, food processors and producers who make, bake or grow products to sell at local farmers’ markets, farm gates or other types of temporary food markets.: Open School BC

 

I will look at taking it sometime over the Summer months when we get to doing our canning and preserves for the year.  We have a lot of jars to fill this year!

Cleaning house and picking up the broken pieces

At some point in the Fall, I started to radically re-arrange and change our home.  Unfortunately this was short lived when I slipped a disc at the end of November and was off work for six weeks.  I managed a few days back at work before having an episode that landed me in the hospital that I am still recovering from.

For several cold weeks this past Winter, in an effort to ease up my back, all hours of the night and day, I paced back and forth between a lot of what was placed outside on our very large covered deck.  Most of it was either to be recycled, donated or simply gotten out of the way while I moved other things in our house around.  I cursed myself for having picked up a box just the right wrong way to lift and felt what I had done to it as I was doing it.  The full extent of the pain didn’t set in for hours and just got worse every time I would get up.  I done did it good!

I spent a good 5 weeks only being able to lay down or stand up.  There was NO sitting.  At least, no sitting without either being in excruciating pain or bending my body in an unhealthy way to try to lesson the pain just long enough to get a few bites of food in my mouth before laying back down again.  It was horrible.  Utter and shear painful hell.

My whole back injury recovery time, I cursed the boxes and furniture both outside on the deck and inside our house because I could not deal with them.  I cursed the stack of unmade bookshelves that laid on the floor in our living room for months because I couldn’t deal with them.  I cursed a lot of things.  Including letting my back get back to this point again and remembering swearing the last time this happened, that I would not let it ever happen again.  But then the Holistic Healthcare Practitioner in me started looking at it from an Eastern perspective:

(Anyone happen to know the original source for this:)

Emotional Pain ChartHow about that:

  • Spine: Represents the support of life
  • Lower Spine: Fear of money. Lack of financial support.
  • Sciatica: Being hypocritical. Fear of money and or the future.
  • Slipped Disc: Indecisive. Feeling totally unsupported by life.

While I loved being a barista, at some point, that yearning inside me to make more money started.  I know I am worth a lot more than minimum wage and had started thinking about moving on in the Spring into something more suited to my drive and skill set.  Unfortunately at the same time I went back to work, I was under a lot of stress from varying sources across my life including a lot of family stuff which I am thankful has almost completely subsided.  

A few days before I went back to work, I got subpoenaed for something that I had blocked out almost as quickly as it had happened.  I witnessed an assault that triggered something from my past.  That evening, I got violently ill and was sick for three days afterwards figuring I had either eaten something bad or had caught a flu bug.  

Being subpoenaed and remembering the assault is I feel, the straw that broke the camels back that lead me to my hospitalization in January.  I was certified for four nights and should have been in there longer but I won’t get into my experience in dealing with the severely lacking resources for mental health in the Okanagan.  I am very grateful for my psychologist being able to see me pro bono and a holistic healthcare practitioner who is seeing me at a reduced rate.

In March, on our ten year anniversary, my partner and I had a ceremony in a park, in our bare feet, in the rain.  It was beautifully perfect and relatively stress and drama free.  I could not have been happier with how our day went, followed by two nights in a hotel along the waterfront in White Rock, child free.  The bald eagle photo that shows up in the header is one that I took from our hotel room during our honeymoon.

barefootweddin

Our honeymoon was *exactly* what I needed to help relax and spend a few days alone with my wife.  After we got home, I could finally cook again without burning things and forgetting I was cooking and I could finally focus on the computer screen again!  Both of these were huge strides forward for me.  I almost NEVER burn food and while my memory is still not that great, at least I am not forgetting (most of the time) that I am cooking.  I hardly had my computer on for two months because of the sensory overload of just looking at the screen never mind trying to focus on anything to read.

Almost five months have passed since I was certified and while I don’t feel as delicate and raw as when I was first discharged, I still feel fragile, traumatized and scared shitless of an episode like that ever happening again.  The further we get from the episode and look at what was going on in life at that time, the more confident we are that it will only ever be a one time thing and that we can just sum it up as my having had a mental breakdown.

I certainly don’t go out as often as I used to and there have been a few mornings where I can feel anxiety creeping up when I go to my favourite coffee place to work.  I think the hardest thing I have been struggling with when I leave the house (it happens at home too) is sensory overload.

This whole recovery process has been an interesting experience for me.  I have never had to deal with my mind working against me before and it can be devastating the days that I do regress.  I have had no income since my medical EI ran out and I am yet to talk to a doctor who tells me that I am going back to work anytime soon.  I find it very frustrating having that choice taken away but the alternative is putting both my mind and back at risk.

Since returning from our honeymoon, I have been putting my energy back into my web portfolio and being the stay at home parent.  The house is looking and feeling much better.  The bookshelves are together and along the back wall of the master bedroom housing my partners massive academic library.  The “office” has almost completed its transformation into the “chill lounge” which finally has my massage table setup!  The rest of the clutter around the house is almost gone!  I have even started to work outside on our yard.

While that fear of another episode happening still lingers in my mind, I have to keep pushing forward.  Sometimes my good days outnumber my bad days and when it’s the other way around, I feel devastated and fear that I might never return to the way I used to be.  This is part of the reason I decided to write about the fact that I had a mental break down.  It’s from talking to others that gives me hope that some day my bad days will be few and far between and that someday, life will go back to “normal”, whatever that was before all of this happened.

Programmer Rising

This past March, I started programming again for the first time since March of 2012.  That’s three years of not doing much coding as a PHP web developer after having done it for upwards of 15 hours a day and now over 15 years since I graduated from college.  I was the second graduate to walk the stage in receiving my two-year diploma from the then new ITAS Program in 2000 at what is now known as VIU.  I had been reminiscing lately about the first website I ever made at Geocities back in 1997.  That’s creeping up on 20 years since I published my first website.  Where has the time gone!?  And my how technology has changed since then!

I haven’t blogged much (lately, yes, I know – life happened) let alone about technology in several years.  There are only two tech-related posts on this blog, both on subscribing to a website.  While I haven’t had much motivation to blog about business and technology since starting daddyjake.com, I have also struggled with where to publish these types of posts.

Five years ago, I somewhat left my career as a web geek in favour of learning something new (and less stressful).  I knew at the time that I would never work in IT department again.  I was miserable almost my entire tech career when I was at work.  But, I questioned why if I hated my career so much, would I go home and work on my own web projects for several hours more?  Getting back into programming as of late has helped remind me of why I love doing it so much.  

When I was in college, one of our instructors gave us instructions on how to install and configure a mail server.  Needless to say, things did not go as exactly written in the instructions and a few of my classmates tore into my instructor because how dare he give us instructions that didn’t work!  Then I heard that token tech phrase for the first time in my career: “but it worked on my machine!”  I just shook my head.  Not at my instructor, but at my classmates.

As a technologist, you spend countless, lost hours in a project troubleshooting, debugging, researching and fixing things.  My estimation would be that 70-80% of the time spent on a project is spent solely on making things work and/or finding a workaround to a roadblock you encounter.  This can be frustrating as hell when you have deadlines.  Or in my case, working for managers who don’t understand that it’s part of the process of working on a project that involves technology.

Delving back into my projects after not looking at some of them for upwards of five years has been an interesting ride.  I have written and re-written a lot of code as I have evolved as a developer and learned new ways of doing things and as the technologies themselves have evolved.  Code I once thought was great, I now scratch my head at.

With such a lag having just happened with my projects and needing to free up some of my own time, I decided to take a look at frameworks again (framework: pre-built building blocks rather than me making those building blocks myself.  I am using Laravel 5 for those who are wondering).  This is far from the first time I have looked at frameworks but also the first time in closer to ten years that I have actually given them a chance.  The reason they might actually stay this time:  I need to think and work like a business owner and not like a programmer.  In other words, as a business owner, I can’t spend all my time coding because I have way too much non-coding work to get done!

laravel5

With my programmer hat on, I have been back in that space of banging my head as I come across bumps, hills and mountains in my project(s).  I curse, bang my keyboard, go for walks, write it out on paper doing whatever I can until that issue is in my rear view mirror.  Then I move on to the next feature and deal with the issues that come along with it.

Stressful?  Yes.  Frustrating?  Absolutely.  Exhilarating?  Exactly the point!

The process of coming up with an idea, losing your shit trying to get it implemented, losing (quite literally at times) days trying to get one piece to work and realize it’s because you didn’t put a comma where needed and then all of a sudden, it’s working.  THAT is what I love about programming!  I love watching as a website just comes to life as you feed it data much like watering a flower and watching it come to life.

The amount of work I have to do is more than a little daunting.  I am very grateful for coffee, time to work on my projects and best of all, being able to look up from my desk and watch the hawks and eagles flying around!