Cook Out Season Has Begun

George decided he would try his hand at cooking out.


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Steak and vegetable kabobs and fruit kabobs. His first time manning the little Weber Kettle, he did quite well. We look forward to George expanding his grilling skills.

George picked up a few fun artisan sodas by Swamp Pop.

If you’re wanting to try an artisan soda with a local flair, look for Swamp Pop in your neighborhood grocer. They are made in Lafayette, Louisiana. Their flavors incorporate fruits grown in my native state, such as fig, strawberry, satsuma. Swamp Pop sodas are a refreshing change to your regular cola. Try ’em!

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Memorial Day Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.



Early to the garden.

The sun climbed high. Sweat walked down the small of my back, as I worked. Red wing blackbirds trilled; a woodpecker beat a tattoo. The breeze whispered in the corn. Another mess of yellow squash was gathered. It was delightful.

Except for two things. And I know that talking about the weather is the worst thing in writing, but my goodness it’s dry in southwest Mississippi. If you who are reading this are a praying bunch, please lift up a prayer for rain in our part of the world. The corn may be whispering today, but it will soon be crying from a lack of water. Rain, we need rain.

The second thing that marred my mornings peace was the four-wheeler, riding teenager. Up and down the fence row he went. Loudness, covering my idyllic pastoral setting.  He tried to coax Marigold to ride with him, but she politely declined and stretched out on the shady porch instead.

The squash was taken to the kitchen, but wasn’t cooked up. I made a flower arrangement out of some, along with the first picked cosmos. The tips of the wisteria are on their second bloom. All were arranged on an antique platter. I call it Geese In the Flower Patch.

The day ended with a visit from my favorite fella- favorite for right now. His Mama goes to the hospital early on Monday to have his baby brother and then I’ll have two favorite fellas.

Saturday blessings from the Exiles Kitchen.



Yesterday Was National Lost Sock Memorial Day

Yesterday was a little known holiday -not recognized by bank and post office closures- called National Lost Sock Memorial Day. I heard about it on Supertalk MS. I immediately found an emotional connection to all the mismatched or single socks in the world. I know just how they feel. NLSMD will forever rank up there with that other single awareness holiday: Valentines Day. Ugh!

With an adolescent bloodhound in the house, who has a thing for chewing on socks, the problem of matching them has become a daily chore. They may make it into the washer at the same time: might even make it into the dryer, but she stands at the dryer door, waiting for me to turn away for a second and off she goes with one to hide and chew on, till it’s no longer wearable. (Excuse the run on sentence.)


This morning I once again found myself digging around for two socks that matched. I’ll admit that some mornings I just don’t care and put on whatever comes close.

They’re both black, close enough.


Now, these two at first glance looked like they matched. Same color and size , but the patterns aren’t alike. Oh, well. To celebrate NLSMD one is suppose to dispose of any single socks lying around or shoved to the back of the dresser drawer.  Again, feelings of single awareness collect, like lent from the dryer.

I’ve been divorced now for over two and a half years. Just beginning to think about dipping my toe into the dating pool. But my gosh, it’s been a long time since I’ve done that! How do you start? How do you go about it, in this day and age? It’s scary to think about.

However, I recently met a fella that I found myself thinking that I wouldn’t mind matching and folding his socks. Feeling, oh I don’t know, I hesitate to say domestic. My grandmother’s South Louisiana, East Feliciana accented voice is in my head right now. She would have described him thusly: he’s a tall drink uh wohtah, with a nice smile that reaches his eyes. I describe him as having a voice that I could crawl up in and stay all day; like a tree house built in the top of a big oak limb, looking out over a deep and slow moving river. Yep. He nerded out explaining something to me and I thought, man, please hush! I could cook for a man like that. Something good on all four burners and both ovens.

And we met on Valentine’s Day- ain’t that ironic?!

But he’s two counties away. This single sock is still that. Single. Lyle Lovett is coming to Thalia Mara in August, I would love to have a date to go. But as I said in the two paragraphs up, starting from scratch is paralyzing me.

NLSMD and Valentine’s Day are equal in my book.


I will not throw out my single socks. My tomatoes need tying up and I will just repurpose the unmatched sock collection.


I Shook The Tree One More Time or I’m Your Huckleberry

(I promise. This is the last time I write about mayhaws… This year. Simple recipe: 4 cups juice, 1 box Sure-Jell, 2 pat butter, 5 cups sugar)


Mayhaw season is coming to a close. Sigh. Yesterday I shook the tree one more time. I pruned it too. Due to years of neglect, branches have crisscrossed each other. Not a good thing. You want lateral branches on your fruit trees with room for air to get to each branch. The old mayhaw is also covered in lichen, which tells me the tree is in distress and needs to be fertilized. Even still,  the old gal produced lots of berries this year. I was able to make three batches of jelly in the last two weeks.

This final gathering was a little slim on mayhaws, but the huckleberries are making. So, I supplemented my pot with the tiny blueberry-like fruit. While picking huckleberries, my eldest son called me.

The conversation went something like this:

“Heeeey! Whatcha you doing?”

“I shook the mayhaw tree one last time, but I don’t think there’s enough to make another pot of jelly, so I’m picking huckleberries to add to them.” I told him.

“Huckleberries? Are you sure that’s what they are?” he questioned.

“Yes, son. I tasted a few last week, when I noticed them making and I haven’t gotten sick. No belly cramps. Not throwing up or running to the bathroom.”

“Oh, okay. Good deal.”

My sons; They have their mama’s back… always looking out for me.

Mayhaw and huckleberry added together in the final pot of jelly. The color was deep red.

After jelly making, I cleaned house. The afternoon sun slid in through the parlor windows and warmed up the pine floors. It was such a peaceful afternoon. The birds sang all around me, as I repotted day lilies and roses on the side porch.





We almost had a new grandbaby last night. My middle son’s wife was having some pretty intense contractions around 11 p.m. Off to the hospital they went, as I stayed with my sleeping #1 grandson. But the hospital sent her home. So, we’re just sitting on go. Anytime now. I think I’ll nickname my new grandson ‘Huckleberry’. 

“Who’s Mandy’s little Huckleberry?” I’ll ask.

“I’m your Huckleberry,” he’ll answer in a sweet toddler voice.

I wonder what his parents will have to say about that?

As I told my eldest, before the rain chased me back to the house and ended our phone call yesterday; I’m having fun. Life is fun again, full again. And there’s always room for more family and friends- at my table, in my house, and in my life!

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.