Tag Archives: northwest arkansas

I’m Relocating!!


But just online… 🙂

I’ve been handing out business cards with a new website URL on them for several months, so it’s high time I got it set up, don’t you think?? So, here it is…


The new website is a .com, which looks a little more legit than a .wordpress.com site (in my humble opinion), and now that I’m getting my freelance business off the ground, I thought it was time. I considered leaving all the old content here and starting fresh there, but then I thought I may as well carry all my building blocks with me. Some of my older posts here are pretty rough (who knew visuals made such a difference!?) and I’ll continue to improve my content and style as I go along, but a little history never hurt anybody.

If you are signed up to receive notices via email when I post a new entry (You’re awesome! Thank you!!), it looks like those connections did not transfer over to the new site. Please visit me at my new site, take a look around, sign up to get updates, and feel free to let me know what you think of the place. I still have a few tweaks to make… curtains to hang and ottomans to pick out… but it’s mostly done.

Onward and upward, friends!!



The Ovaries Know


I don’t think it was coincidence that my ovaries started hurting as I listened to the stories told at last night’s Listen to Your Mother show. Ever since I delivered my third child, my Girl Parts have been a bit more outspoken… letting me know how they’re doing and what they’re up to more often than  I’d prefer. I’m terrified  they will demand their own Twitter account. But last Listen to Your Mother 2013 logonight as my gut started to ache, I had to smile grimace and accept that they were simply in sync with the flood of estrogen that was washing over everyone in the audience. Even those sitting at the top of the gymnasium style pull-out bleachers. It was that deep. It was a show of ovarian solidarity fist-pumping, I suppose.

As many of my readers know, I lost my mother to brain cancer a few years ago. And as others may know, I am the “nonnie” of an almost-3-year-old red-headed spitfire I call the Grand-cuteness. She and her mama are still living at home with us, and the process of preparing them for independence has been slow and, at times, extremely frustrating. Sometimes I even forget to think she’s cute – but not often. My other daughter is about to leave for basic training with the United States Army, and my 8-year-old son can be the light of my life and the bane of my existence on any given day. Sometimes, within the same quarter hour.

So, I went to the show last night fairly confident that there wouldn’t be many subjects covered in the stories told that I hadn’t faced or forgotten about myself as a mother, daughter and woman. But as the show progressed it was obvious I was wrong, and my ovaries knew it.

As with any show about motherhood, there were funny stories and poignant stories and fabulous shoes. Some stories I could empathize with directly as I thought to myself “Preach it sister!”, but others I could only sympathize with, as I had no direct experience with mothers with mental illness, the difficulty some women have getting pregnant, or the emotions that consume the mother of a seriously ill child or one who loses a child.

The women who told their stories last night did so with incredible grace, humor, and strength. Each of them had something important to share, and the lessons were not only applicable to mothers. Humankind, it turns out, is universal. The things we learn from our children and pass on to them as they are growing into adulthood (and even throughout adulthood, if my family is any example) are important to us as fellow humans. Storytelling, in general, is a vital resource of information, compassion, and equity for our species and I am so pleased to see it being cared for and preserved in this event.

Lela Davidson and Stephanie McCratic are the forces of nature that brought this show to Northwest Arkansas for the first time last year and again this year. They both blog and write and get some national attention for doing so, but I am most grateful to them for what they are doing through LTYM. It makes a difference to the women who participated, to the audience who appreciated, and – most importantly in my opinion – to the society that is rejuvenated by the community of humans it creates.

Ladies of the podium – I, and my ovaries, thank you.

A Sunday drive.


We’ve been looking around for a parcel of land that will provide a little place to go camp, hike, stargaze, hang out and listen to birds and breezes… all for under $20,000 and within an hour of our house. High hopes much?? 🙂 So every now and then the hubster finds a couple of contenders and we head out on an adventure to find the listed property and decide if it’s worth keeping in the contenders column or if the description is highly creative.

Most of the time the places he finds are off a dirt road (always a good sign!) and often the map online doesn’t quite match the roads we have to travel. Today was one of those days. One of the properties had some breathtaking views, but we had to put the truck in 4WD and low gear to get up the road to reach it. While it would be a great place to hike, and there was a cleared area to pitch a tent, we’d really like to find something that we could invite friends to, and all of our friends don’t own 4WD vehicles. So, it’ll be on the “it’d perfect if…” list.

Elkins, AR mountain views

While we were walking the property I got a little melancholy, thinking about the land my grandparents owned. It was wooded, with some pasture where they raised cattle and grew a gorgeous big garden. The spring breaks I spent there were full of wildflowers, fossil hunting, and learning about the bird calls and plants we found on our walks in the woods.

On the property we visited today there were trilliums growing, and shelf fungus… wild violets and lichens. As we drove down the dirt roads I lusted after large flat rocks that had recently been unearthed by the road grater. They reminded me of drives I took down the roads near my previous house (built on my grandparents’ former clover field that they grew for their honey bees). I wasn’t too proud to throw rocks for my garden into the back of my Subaru.

I also smiled at the sight of mayapples in the understory that are just starting to pop up. When my daughters were small we walked in the woods that I walked as a kid, and we told stories about the fairies who lived under the mayapples and played in and around the tree roots in the dry creek bed. I’m still dealing with unresolved feelings about having to let my mom’s house, which was formerly my grandparents’ house, go back to the bank after mom  died. Some days, not being able to take my son and grand-daughter for walks in those woods really burrows deep in my bones and makes me angry. There’s no one to be angry at, of course, so I have to let it go. But a walk in the woods brings those feelings up out of my bones a little.

Doe, a deer.

Maybe we’ll find our own property covered with mayapples and trillium… peppered with perfect flat rocks just begging to go into my garden. My son can learn the difference between the hoot of a barred owl and a barn owl and understand that “No Service” is a blessing, not a curse. We’ll just keep taking drives on Sundays and hiking the back roads until we do.

Girls’ Night!


A few weeks ago I went to an incredible conference for Arkansas women bloggers. In fact it was called the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged conference. Funny how that works. As a result of those three amazing days, I have begun creating an editorial calendar for my writing endeavors, I have picked up a freelance job that pays me decent part-time cash, and I got a ton of terrific swag including a free pair of boots. What a great deal, right?? TOTALLY worth the cost of the conference.

Well the hits keep coming. Some of the ladies who went to the conference gathered for a little meet and greet today, sponsored by Therapon (and I brought home some products I’ll be talking about in coming weeks!) and one of the giveaways for the afternoon was tickets to see STOMP at the Walton Arts Center.

My family is very familiar with the WAC. Ever since my girls were small we have gone to see Broadway shows, dance troupes, musicians and singers, opera… we were even onstage ourselves and have the commemorative Christmas tree ornament to prove it. We have been fortunate to have a family member who works there, so sometimes we get so see things as her guest, but they have such a huge variety of shows in their schedules there are always things that we can afford, whether it’s a family outing or a date night with the hubster.

When I was offered the opportunity to see one of the biggest touring shows in the country as a little promotional perk – uh… Duh. It’s easy to talk about things you already love, right??

The best part is that I’ll be taking my daughter. D and her 2-year-old live with us right now as she works on getting her feet under her as a young mom and figures out where she’s headed. It’s made for some stressful months. It’s also been difficult to find time to do things together for fun. I feel as though I’m constantly griping at her about one thing or another, even when we’re doing otherwise fun things like shopping for shoes or cooking dinner, and that’s no good for either of us.

So tonight, we’ll get dolled up a bit and find our seats at the WAC and look forward to seeing some of this:


And a good bit of this:


And maybe a smidge of this:


There is one more show this weekend, tomorrow at 2pm. If you are anywhere near Northwest Arkansas, I’d encourage you to go. In case you need a little more convincing – check out the video on their website. I’m off to get dressed for a night out!


Chickens and other old/new hobbies

Chickens and other old/new hobbies

I’m not sure what happened to suddenly make backyard chickens so popular. Maybe it’s the economy – a handful of chickens cost less to buy than a nice dinner out. Maybe it’s the next step for those of us who have been recycling and buying second-hand for a while… we look around for the next challenge. Maybe it’s just a hipster thing. But if you hang out on Pinterest or read a shelter magazine, or pretty much just talk to anyone under the age of 50, you’ll end up hearing about their plans, desire to have plans, or how they executed their plans to build a chicken coop and welcome a little flock of fluffy ladies into their family.

When I was a girl my grandparents had a great chicken house built out in the woods, between their house and their enormous garden that provided countless jars of fresh-picked delicousness throughout the year. The memory of gathering those eggs has always stayed with me. The soft clucking of the hens as I unlatched the gate, the warm nest and feathers of the broody ones that only chided me a little as I took their eggs out from under them and put them in my basket. Later, sitting on the ground in the run digging hundreds of earthworms out of the ground when the chickens were gone.

I guess I’m joining the trendy urbanites who have decided to build a little coop and start collecting eggs. I’ve reserved six baby chickens to be delivered on April 28th. I’ve been reading about the care and feeding of chickens, and researching coop plans, and – just as important – trying to figure out what to name them.

The breeds I’ve chosen are Cherry Egger, Production Black, Gold Sex Link, Black Australorp, Partridge Rock and Ameraucana. One of each. They’re being hatched by a local farm, so they’re already proven in the climate and environmental pros and cons of the Ozark Mountains.

Usually, when I latch onto a new project like this, the hubster looks at me sideways and goes about his business just trying to stay out of my way. This time, however, he’s all about getting those chickens. He’d love to get ducks too, in fact. The biggest drawback there is that we have no water in the backyard. Kind of a big deal, that.

He went by the local Tractor Supply Company yesterday and picked up a little baby chicken kit with a feeder and waterer and mobile fencing… none of which we really need, but I’m happy that he’s going to join me in this adventure. We drew out a plan for the coop and run today, and it looks like he won’t get too crazy… he tends to overbuild, overplan, overspend on almost every project he undertakes. I love him dearly, but he’s a little impractical. From discussions I have with girlfriends, I don’t think he’s the only man like this.

But chickens are only one thing I’m going to do to try to make our family a little more conscious of our impact and responsibility to our home planet. In addition to harvesting some yummy fresh eggs I’m also planning to can my own veggies this year… I am joining a CSA and will be frequenting the local farmers’ market, since I can’t seem to make any tomato plants put on more than 3 fruits. I also want to put up some laundry line to cut down (a little) on the time we spend using the electric dryer. We already have a composter, but it’s been pretty lonely. I’ll be utilizing it more often – while I’m heading out to check on the chickens and take the sheets off the line…

Here are some of my favorite ideas for chicken names, thanks to my friends on Facebook:

Twilight females – Victoria, Rosalie, Bella, Renee, Esme and Alice

Grease (is the word) – Frenchy, Sandy, Rizzo, Marty, Vi and Blanche

Happy Days & Laverne and Shirley – Laverne, Shirley, Pinky, Joanie, Marion and Leather (remember her??)

Harry Potter – Hermione, Luna, Bellatrix, Lily, Minerva and Ginny

Musicians – Carly, Joy, Babs, Whitney, Florence, Adele

Hollywood – Kate, Audrey, Marilyn, Lauren, Ava, Rita

So, tell me… are you raising chickens? Composting? Canning your own veggies? Planning any of those? And please, feel free to chime in on name ideas. I have a few weeks to decide. 🙂

The end of an era.


In 1966 my grandfather built a house on some property that my grandmother inherited. My mother had already married and moved away, but my siblings and I spent most Christmases and weeks every summer there.  We explored the woods, climbed on limestone bluffs full of fossils, picked blackberries, helped plant the vegetable garden, harvested the produce, learned to paint with my grandmother, rode in the back of grandpa’s pick up to feed the cattle, gathered eggs, fished in the river, roasted marshmallows in the fireplace… so many of our favorite, formative memories and experiences were created there.

On the eve of the property being sold on the courthouse steps to the highest bidder, I thought I’d put down a few of my favorite memories…

My grandmother was an artist. She took lessons from one of the leading tole-paint artists in the 1970s and sold her beautiful items at craft fairs throughout the Ozarks for years.  She had a room in the house dedicated to her painting. It was a delightful room full of paint, brushes, bookshelves full of books, and had a large bay window. I loved to watch grandma paint, and have a few things that she let me paint alongside her. One day she invited my brother and I to gather flat river rocks from the gravel driveway and let us paint little faces on them. I was impressed and a little jealous that my brother’s rock faces had better eyes than mine did. No wonder he went on to be a brilliant illustrator.

Walking through the woods in the spring looking for fern fiddleheads and wild violets.

During the summers before central air was installed it was seriously warm at night upstairs where the bedrooms were located. A box fan was placed at each end of the hallway outside the bedroom doors and the windows were opened to allow air to circulate through the house. The fans created a hum that harmonized perfectly with the raucous noise of the cicadas that started up at sundown each evening.  I will always enjoy the sound of tree frogs and cicadas at night – it’s not just a memory but a sensory feeling of peace and security that settles within me when I hear those noises. It’s a sign, to me, that all is right with the world.

Christmases at the farm, when we were there before the 25th, involved scouting out the perfect tree. Very often, grandpa had already located a contender and we would trek with him through the woods or ride in the back of his pick up to the bottom pastures to offer our approval and beg him to let us help with the sawing (the answer was always – appropriately – no). Cedar trees often grow along fence lines on farms in the south, and the aroma of fresh-cut cedar will always be a favorite of mine.

Fresh tomatoes, still warm from the vine, sprinkled with sugar. Mmmmmm….

Another scent that stays with me is a combination: fresh sawdust and cigarette smoke. My grandpa was a Marine in the South Pacific during World War II. Along with all the other GIs, he was provided with free cigarettes on a regular basis. I’m not sure what the reasoning behind that was, but the result was that he started smoking. I don’t actually remember seeing him smoking often, but I know he did while worked in his woodworking shop on the farm. When I went to see him in the shop there was always a specific smell that permeated the air. It was also in his shirt when I hugged him goodnight. It doesn’t sound like a smell that would be pleasant, but I love it.

Helping grandma hang clothes on the line outside the pump house/laundry room.

My grandmother made fantastic home-cooked meals that included a huge selection of vegetables from the garden, canned tomatoes, and beef that was probably raised on the farm. Whenever she made pie crust she cut the scraps of pastry into little strips and sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon. The pies were wonderful, but the little strips of baked pasty were perfect.

Grandma used to put on rubber boots at dusk and beat the bushes around the patio with a hoe to chase out the copperhead snakes so she could mangle them.

Helping grandma hang clothes on the line outside the pump house/laundry room.

It’s ironic, I think, that on the day that the property will leave our family the trees are bright green from the recent rain, the iris are blooming and the woods smell fresh and musky. It’s one of my favorite times of year there, and every spring I’ll wish I could go back.

Ice Storm 2010, you’re not all that!


Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking to YOU. I joined the throngs of people buying up staples for the pantry, locating batteries and candles at home, and making sure that we had clean clothes and blankets… I was ready for a repeat of the storm of 2009. But hey – I knew Ice Storm 2009, and you, sir, were no Ice Storm 2009. You were just a snowy weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! I didn’t mind a Friday off work. I am still not minding several days in a row in my jammies. (sorry mom, I still don’t get up and get dressed if I don’t have to). I’m kind of loving looking out the window at the lovely snowy yard beyond. I’m just saying I don’t consider you an Ice Storm.

THIS is an ice storm:

Notice the lack of any snow at all? It was all ice, all the time a year ago. This year, it’s this:

Sure, there’s ice under there, but the significant difference this year is the LACK of piles of branches in the yard. Of course, they may have just all broken off last year… but anyway, you get my point. We didn’t lose power this time either, which was a bonus. Now, I have to put away all the survival gear.