Thursday, October 21, 2010


From Irish Clover

Last night, our family lost our little pet guinea pig, Jellybean. He had gotten very sick and the vet did not give us a positive prognosis. I made the difficult decision to let him go so that he didn't die alone at the animal hospital in the middle of the night, but instead, would be with us when he passed.

As a mother, this has been the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. My little guy's heart was broken and his pain was one I could do nothing about. He was filled with guilt, thinking he hadn't taken care of his pet and he was responsible. He was filled with remorse at not spending enough time with Jellybean while we had him. He became angry that God would take Jellybean so early in life.

This is the dark side of loving. It is much easier to lose something when one is not as invested. To love means to feel the pain of loss, and it is a deep aching pain. Seeing my son in a pain I could not alleviate broke me. A part of me wishes I could spare him from feeling this type of pain ever again, but I can't, no mother can, nor do I really want to. To keep him from feeling the deep aching pain of loss would also mean keeping him from the deep joys of love and I would never want him to miss the warmth of feeling love for something and to have the love returned.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Westward Bound

My laptop desktop photo at work is of the South Platte river winding through Spinney Mountain Ranch. It's my happy place and when work gets a tad bit too stressful, I look at the picture. This weekend, for Little Clover's fall break, we actually went back Spinney. The moment I stepped off the plane, I felt as if I was home.

We found the Bear Creek Cabins and booked one for the weekend. The cabin was small and cozy with a fireplace. As soon as we arrived, we had our first daily encounter with the wildlife. A mama elk and her baby meandered their way through the cabins grazing as they went.

From Colorado 2010

Little Clover was busy pulling trout out of the creek in front of the cabin, but he paused long enough to admire the elk. That night as we drifted off with a crackling fire and cool mountain air carrying the babbling of the creek through our open windows, Little Clover admitted he liked Colorado. With some luck, I'll get him hooked.

The next two days, we woke up before dawn to drive out to Spinney. Little Clover slept in the back and Italian and I watched the sun creep over the mountain tops. Spinney proved to be tough fishing the two days, but we all managed to hook into some great fish and I even managed to land my first big trout.

From Colorado 2010

This was a redemption moment for me. Not only had I lost several decent sized fish that day, but I had also managed to hook myself in the a$$ with a very teeny tiny fly, only to discover I could not remove said fly on my own and had to ask for help, from our guide. He was a very good sport about it.

Not only was Little Clover a great fisherman and a great sport while fishing a very technical and challenging stream, he proved he's also a great photographer with an eye for beauty. He snapped this shot through the car window as we drove through the mountains.
From Colorado 2010

We treated him to a Coney Island hot dog because no trip is complete without a stop to this little place. Italian enjoyed the buffalo dog while I noshed away on an jalepeno elk dog. I even gave a couple of guys a chuckle while I stood by their truck to take a picture of the restaurant.

After our two days of fishing, the rest of the trip was Little Clover's. He jumped at the opportunity to attend a murder mystery dinner at the Adams Mystery Playhouse. We were expecting it to be enjoyable. We were not expecting to have our cheeks and sides in pain from laughing as hard as we did! If you are ever in the Denver area and enjoy comedy theatre, go and go quickly! The experience was fanatastic and Little Clover even had a small encounter with the detective during the show. We are still quoting lines and will go again during our next trip.

Little Clover also wanted to see the Buffalo Bill Museum and Denver Zoo. We happily obliged and admired the view from the top of Denver's Lookout Mountain.

From Colorado 2010

Between all the hustle and bustle of the trip, I even managed to snag some knitting time on my Versatility, listening to the creek. The bamboo is my own handspun and I can see how I've grown as a spinner since I spun it. It is soft and rustic and warms my heart. If we ever make living in Colorado a reality, I think it will work well for early fall.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

In a Pickle

One of the reasons motivating us to sign up for a CSA this year was to broaden our food horizons. I hoped it would give me a chance to grow as a cook and to change my perspective on food and cooking. Instead of picking a recipe and finding ingredients sourced from all over the world, I'd be given ingredients and then would need to find a recipe to use them. I'd also have to face one of my fears - canning.

The thought of canning is terrifying to me. I don't hesitate in purchasing items canned by large factories in far away places. I figure they have the whole canning thing under wraps. Home canning, though, scares the dickens out of me. You could kill someone if you don't do it right! I've put off canning all season, opting to build our compost pile instead. With our CSA winding down to an end, an abundance of okra, and the rememberance of the yummy pickled okra from our CSA, it was time for me to tackle my fear.

I pulled out my canning kit, talked to the preservation spokesperson at the farmer's market, bought a boiling canning pot, and promptly spent the next three hours clearing trees from our backyard. When we were out of trees, I tidied up the house. My procrastination options quickly dwindled before me, and I was forced into entering the kitchen.

I read the directions. I read the hand-outs from the preservation spokesperson. I convinced myself I was capable and dove in. Stressed to the maxed and believing this adventure would end in death, I scared everyone out of the kitchen.
From Irish Clover

When the jars were filled and boiling, waiting to be sealed, Italian came back in to reiterate yet again how safe canning is. For starters, I'm making a pickle. He reminded me of the high acidity of vinegar. Almost nothing would survive the vinegar. Secondly, pickling requires cooking the pickling liquid. It's cooked. Few things surviving cooking. Thirdly, sealing the jars means boiling the jars for 10 minutes. I'm cooking again. Lastly, if the jars don't seal, then we stick them in the fridge and eat them first, as if they were leftovers. At this point, my jars were out of the canner and the first one popped shut. Oh, what a happy sound!
From Irish Clover

I told friends and family about the canning effort and asked if someone would please check on Little Clover if we suddenly stopped coming around. He's the only one in the house who doesn't like pickles. After the jars had time to rest, we tentatively tried the okra. Actually, Italian dove right in. I kept a watchful eye on him for a bit, watching for signs of illness. When he seemed okay, I tried a pickle myself. They aren't the best, but hey, we're still alive.