"'The time has come,' the Walrus said, 'To talk of many things: Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax - Of cabbages - and kings'" ... from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872.
This is an odd way to begin my column perhaps but I've related to most of those words in some direct or convoluted way in the past - from selecting the right walking shoe, to shipping food gifts to soldiers overseas, and NOT using paraffin wax to seal jars of jams and jellies. I've certainly written about cabbage - growing or storing or cooking it; of using the boiling water bath method of canning high-acid foods and why you shouldn't use this method to can pork and other low-acid foods. I guess I missed out on the topic of kings (leaving that to those who couldn't get enough of royal weddings) but I'm pretty sure I touched on NOT consuming liver from polar bears or walrus' because of vitamin A toxicity issues and why a steady diet of deep-fried chicken wings is not particularly healthy.
I am retiring soon. When June 30 rolls around, I will leave the position of extension educator (extension "agent" to folks who remember what we used to be called) in a five-county area and enter the zone of retirement, where every day is Saturday. This is a longed-for yet anxiety-provoking lifestyle change. I think I'm ready - I have plans. But, leaving a job I've loved and the people who all made it so interesting (and possible) is hard to contemplate. So, this is my last column.
I began writing "Connections" column because I enjoyed writing and felt that this was a way for me to connect the science of nutrition, health and foodsafety to the folks who regularly read a newspaper. While I did plenty of face-to-face education in scheduled events, writing the weekly column was my chance to connect with the public at a more personal level. After all, many people read a newspaper from the kitchen table, armchair, office or a break room - sipping a beverage or eating a meal. Some of you called me, emailed me, or wrote brief notes commenting on something I'd covered. Even when you disagreed with what I'd written, I was thrilled that someone out there cared enough to respond.even the folks who called me at home on Sundays because they "didn't want to bother me at the office."
Now I'm moving on. I won't be an extension outreach educator anymore so there really isn't a reason to continue writing an educational column. I'll still write - it's a habit that is hard to break - but won't offer it up for publication as I have since 1995.
But, I would like to ask one last favor of you: would you let me know if you really DID get something useful from "Connections"? You can call me (814) 755-3544 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or even come talk to me and say goodbye in person on the afternoon of June 22nd at a retirement party at the 4-H Center south of Tionesta. I'm pretty sure there will be lots of cookies and I'd really love to meet you. Thanks to you all and have a nice day.