TheFreckledFox, my unknown neighbor, and all the others

I know I’m posting a little more often right now, but I don’t feel like I can put this one off, and scheduling it for later just doesn’t seem like the thing to do.

I have been living the last couple weeks in growing solemness.

A little over a week ago, I learned about TheFreckledFox, her husband’s losing fight with cancer, and their 5 young children. Today I learned he passed away, and even though I’m a complete stranger, I’m feeling it in ways I didn’t expect. I’ve heard other cancer stories, and I’ve prayed for the people in them, but for some reason I really felt this one.

Perhaps it’s in part due to the neighbor of ours I don’t know. Three evenings ago I braved the rain to harvest snap peas from the garden, thinking something casual like, “What a nice addition to the dinner salad.” I heard voices coming over the fence, and I saw the grandfather talking to who I think was the granddaughter (maybe high school age?). Another young woman was there, and she seemed tense, steeling herself for something.

A moment later the granddaughter erupted into the most forlorn wails of utter anguish, and I nearly dropped all my snap peas in the wave of agony I felt from her. Something had happened to her mother, and all my mind could manage was, “Pain that stark can only come from death.”

I don’t know that for sure, but as I walked back to the house I sent up prayers for the family, because whatever happened, they needed comfort.

I want to hold my children tighter. I want to keep the Dearliest in sight. I want to tell my dear friends and family all the things I love about them before “I’ll do it tomorrow” becomes “Sorry, too late.”

Life is precious, and when I think about friends who have recently (or even not so recently) lost their loved ones, my heart aches a little differently now. I know I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a spouse, a child, or a parent, but I do understand a little about emotional grief. As I grow older, no doubt I will grow in understanding too.

And, even though this post is mostly about the pain of losing, I cannot end it without mentioning the amazing strength I see in TheFreckledFox. It’s a strength not her own, and I see the way God has held her hand and is providing consolation and the courage to carry on. I see it in the blogs of other women who have lost their husbands, children, in the faces of men who’ve lost their wives, and I rest a little easier. There is a hope, and a faith, and a belief, and we know death is but a physical thing. Our lost loved ones are with our Heavenly Father, free from the pain, and one day we will see them again.


Rhubarb, cherries, brain food, berries

This post is, you might guess, gonna be about food.

And also Squeaky, because she took the Dearliest’s commentary on almonds very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that she doesn’t ask for almonds by name anymore. She regularly reminds me now that almonds are good for your brain, and because of that, she would love some more. “May I have some brain food?”

One of my neighbors is an older woman who loves gardening, but life has left her in a place where she’s unable to do much of what she used to. She has been incredibly generous to us in sharing the fruits of her garden this year, including rhubarb (she had 8 plants 4′ high and at least as wide…she took what she wanted and said we could have the rest), cherries (2 gallons in the freezer, 2 boxes waiting to be dealt with, and tons more still on the tree), and a delightful little berry called a Saskatoon.

IMG_2845Strawberry rhubarb pie is generally the go-to rhubarb recipe around here, but I didn’t have strawberries when the rhubarb started coming in, so I looked for something else to try. I landed on a recipe for Rhubarb Bread, which I’ve now made twice. It’s like a coffee cake, but with rhubarb. I can recommend it.

The cherries have the little white worms in them, as just about every organic cherry around here does. Most of our little family doesn’t seem to care about them. Extra protein, or somesuch. (If you are also one of those people, more power to you.) Squeaky and I, however, take a particular objection to eating worms, so we very carefully go to the trouble of removing them. After trying a couple different methods (cutting/ scraping, soaking, etc.), Squeaky landed on one that is pretty quick.IMG_2874

Pit, dunk, swish.

Pit the cherry (sometimes the worm comes out with the pit!), hold 1-2 seconds in a bowl of lukewarm water, swish gently until worm washes out.

If the pitting isn’t a clear tunnel, I found it easier to cut the cherry to completely open up the inside, then dunk and swish. I lost a little more juice that way, but it’s so relieving to me knowing there ARE NO WORMS.

I’ve mentioned Saskatoon berries before on the blog, having made their discovery back when we lived on the mountain. My one regret is that I never made the time to do anything with them. Our neighbor has a few baby shrubs and invited us to pick, and so while the harvest will be pints instead of gallons, they are still delicious.


They are smaller than a blueberry, with a milder, mellower flavor, but still yummily sweet. I like them better than blueberries, but then I’m extremely particular about blueberries to begin with.

Squeaky, who is not particular about anything berry-related, snitched all but 1/4 cup of these berries shortly after I took the photos. She’s now on a Saskatoon ban for an indeterminate amount of time.


I don’t think she cares, though, because both our red and white raspberries are ripening up, and the blackberries aren’t too far behind.

Then there are the 2 dozen snap pea bushes in the garden, and daily picking yields about a quart right now. That will at least double in the next few days. The carrots are almost ready, and the beets, and soon our green tomatoes will be red, and…well, all the fresh food is really the only thing I love about summer, if I’m honest! 😀



Trying to I.D. a vine!

ETA: Mystery solved! The plant is white bryony. Thank you Jessica!

Today I bring you a mystery that I feel very close to solving, but I’m just not positive I’ve got it right. I’m hoping one (or more) of you can help me!


This is growing in our grapes, and our neighbor warned us its poisonous. We’re taking measures to keep it under control, but it’s FAST and I want to know what we’re dealing with.

The closest thing that I’ve found in my internet searches is porcelain berry (belonging to the genus Amelopsis), but almost all the photos online have mature berries, not young ones, and I couldn’t find ANY photos of the blossoms. If anyone knows for sure what this is, kindly let me know!

IMG_2873          IMG_2869



Enter the Heat Wave

According to, we’re supposed to hit 101 °F today. How about you?

For us, it’s definitely time to make sure we’re up on our water.


And resting during the hottest hours (a down comforter is acceptable when over the A/C vent).


Here are two roses that bloomed later than the others:

The orange one mellowed out to a pinker salmon color, while the red one was dubbed “the ketchup rose” by Pokado because, yup, it smells like ketchup.

I wish more of these had tags! At least I’m being faithful with pictures, and once I acquire a catalogue or two, I shouldn’t have too much trouble with identification. That’s the hope, anyway.

Sadly, at least 4 of the roses have gone to root stock, so they will be coming out. Happily, this means space for more! Well, eventually. 😀

In Fogling news, the Princess still isn’t walking, although she stands and bounces without support easily enough. She discovered playing peek-a-boo with herself in my curio cabinet mirror last week, and just the other day she decided potato salad is the greatest thing since sliced avocado.


The other Foglings carry on in usual fashion, which means I continually find them doing unusual things.


Not so unusual at first glance, perhaps, but then they informed me they were playing Cutthroat Kitchen…

…well alrighty then! I would hate to be stuck with the pillow, that’s all I’m saying.

Lastly, for those who have been following my occasional frustrations with my eyes, I’m pleased to report immense improvement. I’ve been getting more sleep, but that was only part of the issue. Turns out both the Dearliest and I have been deficient in zinc for quite a while! I had no idea zinc did so much in a body.

After a week of supplements, I can see (haha) vast improvement in my eyes, in my energy levels, and in my mental focus. There are a few other things that have cleared up too, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be feeling better!