Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend #10

Today is a crazy day. I was overwrought last night, and as I was stumbling into wakefulness this morning, I could feel that I’d been grinding my teeth in my sleep. Sweet Nicole at work brought me a diet Coke and I slurped it up with gusto. Now the caffeine is racing through my blood stream wreaking havoc on my customarily caffeine free nervous system. So I have clamped my mouth shut and am steering clear of social sites on the internet. Caffeine has caused me to carry-on conversations that keep me up at night squirming with embarrassment at the memory. Thankfully, I have a respite here at work with me. A friend has lent me James A Michener’s Hawaii to read before our upcoming journey, and it is a lyrical description of adventure and beauty. The physical book itself makes me happy because it has a worn canvas cover suggesting years of reader enjoyment, and on the thick spine Hawaii is written out in faded pastel Copperplate – each letter a printed in a different color. It is charming and friendly. Here is my favorite sentence from just the first page, “Agitated by a moon stronger then than now, immense tides ripped across this tremendous ocean, keeping it in a state of torment.” My jaw aches and there is squabble buzzing around my head, but I have Michener at my fingertips and Hawaii is only four weeks away!

This weekend was atypical to say the least. Matt surprised me by taking me to a bed and breakfast in Asheville. I’ve never been to a bed and breakfast before, and found the entire experience utterly delightful. Asheville was alive with the change in season. The morning air was undeniably cold and the trees were the colors of fire. I'd always considered the suggestion to "rediscover romance" to be merely a marketing device; I now realize the distinct benefit of spending time together far away from the day to day tasks of laundry, dirty dishes, and dingy carpets that seem to stare up at me accusingly. The room was white and clean and had a fireplace. There was a four poster bed and a goose down comforter. We ate at a Spanish fusion restaurant in funky downtown Asheville. The mountainous terrain and dated architecture give Asheville a unique feel. Matt mentioned that it reminded him of Diagon Alley and that he expected to see a flying car at any minute. And sitting in the restaurant, half undeground, the flash of headlights was well above our heads. I love how Matt is imaginative to relate to my poetic side but also gounded enough to keep me from overdosing on emotions. When we got back to our "cottage," we found chocolate covered strawberries waiting at our bedside table (courtesy of the romantic Mr. Collins). We ate them as slowly as we could in front of the fireplace.

Saturday morning was misty and cool. The sun streamed through the flame colored leaves. I tried to capture it in photos, but my camera failed to catch the intensity of the morning. After breakfast at a table overlooking gardens and a courtyard (I want a courtyard!), we spent the day driving all over western North Carolina. We listened to opera and discussed our favorite arias. Tree canopied highways, mountain views and Donizetti "Una furtiva lagrima" go very well together. The whole day drew me closer to my husband and made me feel more myself and less government worker/charwoman.

Sunday too was relaxing, made significant mostly by Matt and Dallas making pickles. I spent some time with my cousin-in-law Kara and by the time I got to Dallas' house Matt and Dallas had already chopped all the cucumbers. I sat nearby and smelled the spices as they created their brine. The recipe is from Cedric's at Biltmore Estate, and I share it here below. We waited an hour before trying them, burning our mouths with the sharp vinegar and salt. It takes a lot of time to chop all the cucumbers and onions (not that I would know), but they are the best pickles I've ever had.

The crazy morning has given way to evening as I go to publish this. I am looking forward to tomorrow and another chance to share our weekend with all of you!

Cedric's Tavern Pickles

6 lbs pickling cucumbers
2 yellow onions, julienne cut
1/2 pint freshly chopped dill
3/4 lbs kosher salt (they were very salty. You would probably be safe with 1/2 lb of salt)
4 cups white granulated sugar
1 gallon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 oz whole peppercorn
1 1/2 oz whole cloves
1 1/2 oz crushed red pepper flakes
1 oz juniper berries

Place spices in a cheesecloth and tie securely with twine. Combine vinegar with salt and sugar; whisk well. Place cheesecloth and chopped vegetables in brine. Store overnight in refrigerator. Will keep for up to one month if covered in brine.


  1. So glad Matt listens to opera with you! Remember extension :) They did not appreciate it. Now I'm sitting at work very hungry for a pickle.

  2. You ate the whole restaurant? Now that is hungry! Love the post! It made me feel like I was there; I could almost taste the pickles.

  3. Beth - We listened to Carmen and it reminded me of extension too! I finally found someone to appreciate my operatic tendencies. I have two jars of pickles in the fridge. You should come eat some with me. :)

    Mom - if it hadn't been a romantic getaway, I would wish that you were there!

  4. Lizzie, you are such a natural writer and I thoroughly enjoy reading your lyrical meanders, even after work at three in the morning. Keep writing--it's lovely.

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