In a pickle

While browsing through some of my favorite culinary blogs last week, I happened upon a blog post about pickled okra over at Homesick Texan. People who know my fridge well know that I have at least an entire shelf dedicated to all things pickled. I have relishes, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, garlic cloves, green tomatos, baby corn, green beans, and so on... and on... and on. Pickled items grab my attention in the grocery store, at the farmers market and especially at the fall craft fairs. You'd think, for as much as I love those salty, sour treats, that I would have tried my hand at pickling before.

You'd think that...

But I haven't.

Since okra has always been one of my favorite pickled veggies, this blog post just stuck out to me. I thought about it for a few days. I obsessed over the bite of the Serrano pepper, the aftertaste of the garlic, the sour of the vinegar, the aroma of the dill, and the crispness of the okra. It stayed with me, taunting me every time I opened the fridge only to be disapointed that these okra were not sitting on the shelf. I had to solve this, I had to pickle some okra and I had to do it this weekend.

A quick trip to the farmers market provided the okra and the dill and another not so quick trip to the mega center down the street provided the garlic and the Serrano peppers. I was all set. Pickled okras were made and now I must wait for a day to taste them.

This will be the longest day of my life.


The Fayetteville Animal Shelter - a safety net for irresponsible pet owners

My mother recently passed away leaving three beautiful, well love cats behind. Her vet recommended some local rescue groups, all of which were unfortunately full. I knew I didn't want to list the cats in the paper or on Craigslist due to some of the scary situations I've read about in papers of people who treat their "free" pets very poorly. My next option was the Fayetteville Animal Shelter. Because they have a very active adoption program and were recommended to me by the local rescue groups and Humane Society, I thought they would be a good fit for my mom's kitties. Unfortuntely, the Fayetteville Animal Shelter told my brother over the phone that it does not take adult cats. They do take kittens, though, and judging by their website, they take lots and lots of kittens.

Is the Animal Shelter a Fayetteville funded safety net for irresponsible pet owners? Can I put off getting my pet fixed only to have litters and litters of kittens to drop off at the Animal Shelter? Can a responsible pet owner not pass away without having to worry about her beloved pets getting picked up out of the classifieds of the local paper? It seems as though the money I've been donating to the Shelter as well as the tax dollars that the City of Fayetteville direct to the shelter have been going to support the wrong kind of programs. For this reason, I will redirect my donations to other rescue groups that will help out those who actually need it instead of those who are just irresponsible



This past weekend was an enjoyable one, considering the circumstances. Saturday was my mom's memorial and the day could not have been more beautiful. The weather was amazing, especially for August. The guests were plentiful, the music good, the conversation even better, and the love and support that my mom's friends and family members have to give amaze me. I also was able to spend some time with family I never see, and while I'd rather have seen them for different reasons, it was so good to spend time with them.

I also went with my sister, brother, his girlfriend, niece, nephew and aunt to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks for their Tomato Fest. It was much like a wine tasting but without the wine and with delicious, plump, and juicy tomatoes. One of the local organic caterers had a booth set up with some caprese salads, peach/tomato/fennel salads, and some other goodies so lunch was fresh and healthy. Afterwards, we spent some time strolling through the gardens and taking pictures (one seen above). My mom would have loved it so the weekend truly was for her. She was dearly missed but felt all around us.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am SO ready for fall to greet me one morning when I step outside to make my way into the office. I'm even ready for my blog to take on a new coat for the season. I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet, but I'm sure it will come to me.

As I was digging through what was left of my fiber supply for a few odds and ends to card together I realized it was embarrassing how low my stash for dyeing/carding/etc has become. I think it's time to order some more wool... well, I think last week was time to do it, but since I overlooked my lack of wool, this week will have to do. It's not so easy as just ordering wool, however. Do I want to continue to dye top/roving? Do I want to stick to batts? Not sure not sure. And yes, I must decide this before buying wool.

Any advice out there? Do both? Stick to batts for now? What to do... what to do?


Plumbing - just add it to my resume

Living in old houses comes with advantages and disadvantages. I could list advantages all day (claw foot tubs, high floor boards, built in telephone shelves, doors with skeleton key holes, etc) but in turn, I could also list disadvantages all day (hot spots in the summer, cold spots in the winter, cracked windows, scary electrical outlets, scary basement furnaces, etc).

My washing machine was replaced last week as the old one was doing some crazy things. However, with the replacement came a fountain of water every time the thing would drain. Water would spew out all over as the drain wasn't draining. It was fun for a few loads, but the charm quickly wore off.

A call to my landlord ended with me being quite upset. A clogged drain was apparently my fault and it would be up to me to call a plumber to come fix it. I'm pretty sure that I had only been washing clothes (mostly cotton) since moving here and unless the cat was taking a bath in the washing machine, I couldn't figure out why my drain was all of a sudden clogged. I am also not sure why the landlord didn't want to take a look at it since it started immediately after having a new machine installed. Many, many things confuse me about the landlords in Arkansas, I'll add this to my list.

I'll be darned if I have to pay a plumber to show me his backside while bending over to fix the drain, so I decided to add plumber to the list of things I dabble in for fun and I headed to the basement with a flashlight and untwisted wire hanger. After digging around in the drain for about 10 minutes, I had pulled out a good pile of rusted metal shards and bits of sandy clumps. No hair, no fuzz, no folded up notes that had been left in pockets (not even any money - darn).

Now, I'm hard pressed to say that my laundry created rusted, metal shards and clumps of sand in the washing machine drain. As you can see by the picture above, those drains are old and skanky - I think they did it to themselves. Shall I bill my landlord?



I'm not sure exactly what triggered it, but I'm completely, utterly and most certainly finished with summer. The sweet boy and I went to Kansas City earlier this week to ride some roller coasters and eat some BBQ and just to get away for a bit. Perhaps it wrapped up summer for me and I'm ready to move on. Perhaps losing my mom last week has helped to have me ready to close off summer. Perhaps I'm just sick and tired of the heat.

Whichever it is, I do know that every time I start to go outside, I am almost certain that it's going to be a bit crisp in the air. I'm almost certain that I'll see an orange leaf drift slowly to the ground. I'm almost certain that I need to go back in and get some long sleeves unpacked for the season. However, after stepping foot into the mid-August mugginess, I'm almost certain that my earlier certainties are those of a mad woman (or at least someone who is longing for shorter, cooler days).

I think the beginning of fall will allow me to reset. I'll be able to clean out the garden, sweep off the back porch (something I should have done before summer actually got here), clean out my summer clothes and pull out my fall wares. Soups will once again make up most of my weekly menu and the late night sounds of crickets will fade away only to become a distant memory until sometime next year when they start back up again.

The craft shows will start up again allowing me to regroup and figure out which direction Idyllhands is going in next (something I've been struggling with for a couple of months). This is something I'll welcome with open arms. Idyllhands has sat a bit idle (no pun intended), patiently waiting for me to return to my beading table with new ideas. I had plans to retire some designs and overhaul others. All of those plans were well and good until I received two requests this past week for the same bracelet that has not been in my shop for months. Hmmm... a sign that my regrouping is as simple as restocking? Perhaps. All are things I need to figure out... all are things that will happen this fall.

But for now, it's still August. The days are still long, crickets still loud, mosquitoes still biting, and grills still grilling. For now I still have time to be lazy out on the front porch, to eat fresh tomatoes from the vine and to wear sandals without abandon. For now, I still have time to put off the resetting that fall will bring until, well, fall.

However, I still long for and very impatiently await autumn.


August 6

Mom - you're free now.  Fly high in your single engine Cessna.

I love you.


Finding the words

mom sitting on her bit of the river - 2004

Sometimes it's so easy to find the right words. They flow out of you faster than you can type and God forbid you find yourself away from the computer (or a pad of paper and pen for you old fashion types) when the words come to you.

I'm not usually one to find myself without something to say. But tonight I find myself needing to say something more than ever and not being able to find a single word... not even a tiny word. Actually, that's a bit of a fib. I can think of a million things to say right now, but what is appropriate? What words, if said, will make me feel better. What words will be read by you and not make you sit there, sad faced, and at a loss of what to comment if a comment is what is warranted. I've be thinking about this for well over an hour.

But still, something is inside me, something I want to scream about, kick about, curse about, cry about, hug my best friends and family about, and just lay in bed and forget about.

Life is a beautiful thing, a beautiful, cruel thing. It's gives you beauty, smiles, fun, beautiful days, happy times, romantic moments, soft touches, kittens (I love kittens), the perfect gifts, Christmas mornings with family, quiet nights in the most comfortable beds on earth, inspiration, creativity, and love. It also takes those things away from you when least want it to. In a moment, those perfect gifts, those Christmas mornings with family can seem only a memory, a very distant, and not obtainable memory. Sometimes life can take those quiet nights in bed, and turn them upside down. Sometimes life can be a cruel thing.

The past 11 months have been a combination of all of the above. My mom, one of my best friends, was diagnosed with brain cancer. For 11 months she has fought and fought and fought. She has put up with shit (pardon the language, we're all adults here) that I wouldn't even wish upon my worst enemies, and she did so with an optimism that I couldn't even imagine having if I were her. Yes, she fought so hard.

I find it hard to think she's not fighting right now. I find it hard to believe that my sweet mom has nothing left to fight with. I want to believe that inside, she's kicking and screaming and she'll get through this. But I know she's tired and I know that perhaps it's time for her to get to sit on the sidelines and enjoy the game that comes next, rather than be battered, battled and played against in a game that seems to be rigged against her. And while tears stream down my cheeks and fall onto my hands while typing this, I know that those tears are a part of life that belongs in the list above.

If I don't post for a few days, it's because I'm spending time with my mom, the fighter, during her last moments in the game.

Mom - I love you. I couldn't have become what I am today without your love, your support, and the amazing way you lived each day.