Being Present // Hönö Island, Sweden // Rock Water.
Day 5 in what started out to be an eternal string of days in which the boys would I would be navigating ourselves around a part of the world that we knew very little/nothing about. The morning had already filled us up with a sense of security and familiarity, staying at the home of Anders, a couch surfing host, living in Gothenburg, Sweden. We had spent the previous evening discussing US vs. Swedish politics, poverty, fermenting wild berries, collecting wild mushrooms, tree counting and the like. He had risen early (we had gone to bed at 3am) to prepare us a wide variety of things that would nourish us throughout the day. There were three kinds of homemade bread, marmalade, goat cheese from Paris, cheddar cheese from the local farmers market (made in Sweden), avocados, granola, cereals, yoghurt, milk, tea, coffee & local honey. We fell into great conversation as we cleaned up after breakfast before heading out in Anders’ car for the island called Hono. We took a short 15 minute ferry ride that dropped us off on the other side of the water, where we walked around some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life. The other three boys had fallen behind on the trail, taking photos, and overwhelming their senses with the current state of affairs, as Anders and I sauntered off farther around the coast of massive boulders that surrounded the bay.
“Do you miss your family? Your son?” asked Anders.
“..Yes, yes I do I suppose…”
With which he responded:
“But you are here for right now. Learn from where you are RIGHT NOW, and help your son learn to do the same.”
After which he looked into the distance and walked slowly toward a formation of rocks that had caught his interest.
I sat there, amazed, stuck completely in thought about what he had said.
BUT YOU ARE HERE RIGHT NOW.
I needed that. Too often during my travels around I find myself longing for something that won’t arrive any sooner than when that day/time comes. And pretending/dreaming/hoping for it to arrive is robbing myself of my current surroundings and ability to enjoy/learn from my current state.
Hönö Island, Sweden // Rock Formations.
We finished walking around the island and stopped on the walk back at an area that was filled with thorny bushes that were bearing a small blueberry-like fruit that Anders called Sloe Berries. He noted that they were “great for using in Vodka”. He pulled out five plastic bags and said:
“We each fill up a bag, and then we go.”
The task seemed daunting but semi-adventurous and the boys and I began to pick. I found myself falling deep under the spell of the Sloe-berry waltz. I tried to better my technique with each pluck, hoping to increase speed and decrease any bruising of the fruit while picking.
Our bags were nearly full when Anders said:
“Now we go.”
We headed back on the ferry and drove the 25 miles back to Anders’ house, where he pointed out three different kinds of Rose Hips and their proper usages in the kitchen.
Juanita // Ander’s House-Mate // Post Sloe-Berry Plucking // Gothenburg, Sweden.
The time read 5:45, and the hour was near for the boys and I to head into town. We had been approached during our show the night before and asked to have dinner with two wonderful people that enjoyed listening to our music from inside the City Center of Gothenburg. We were happy to go.
We knocked on door number 6 outside the building that our trusty GPS had lead us to, arriving just five minutes past the hour of 7. Bo & Mia answered the door with grins and a perfume of one that had been cooking a feast for famished, traveling children (such as ourselves. We entered the house, removed ours shoes (as is the respectful custom in Sweden) and immediately were invited to sit down to eat. Bo had been in the kitchen all afternoon baking a potato, parsley and beet layered casserole along side a mushroom risotto.
Conversation came quickly and soon dinner was over and the group moved to the living room where coffee, dark chocolate and a mandarine liquer was served.
Dinner with Bo & Mia // Coffee // Chocolate // Conversation.
It was revealed during dinner that Bo and Mia had met due to their fiery passion for the art of dancing. As we sat around the table in the front room we egged them on to show us a dance, and one of their choosing. They didn’t play shy, they were happy to oblige. The TANGO was the dance of choice and they chose a rhythmic appropriate tune. As they held each other in arms and closed their eyes, their feet and bodies began to sync together, moving and breathing in line with one anothers proposition. The look on their faces, their searching hands, the sound of their feet moving across the floor. I had really never witnessed such a thing, and certainly not at such close proximity and examination. I was enthralled and completely taken aback at their true love of the dance.
Bo & Mia // Tango // Gothenburg, Sweden // Lovers.
The dance soon ended and so did the evening. We thanked both Bo and Mia for the wonderful experience and they wished us safe travels during the remainder of the tour. As we were walking out the door Bo called out to me:
“Never leave your boy without saying goodbye, make sure he always knows that are you coming back…”
It seemed as though for some reason I was being given the mysteries of fatherdom by complete strangers, people that for some reason felt a inkling to give me tidbits of advice for my remaining years of life. I was appreciative and we shook hands. The day had proven to be great, as have all the days. Our traveling bodies had been refueled and i felt a lightness in my walk as we made the quick trip from the car back to Anders’ house, where he was waiting with Rose Hip soup before bed time.
To many more adventures!
To many more ramblings!
To our families, our lovers, and our friends!
You Are Here, RIGHT NOW.
Joshua and Coyote Howlers ( HOOOWWWWLLLLL).
Summer Bike Days. Ikey, Carissa, Teeth.
The fiery heat of summer has quickly slipped past us. As the leaves begin to lose their bright green brilliance and the garden soldiers let down their posture there is crispness in the air at Willamette Mountain that only says one thing.
So many years have passed since my intrigue with what the last few months of the year are able to offer a boy in Utah. The frigid air and the white precipitation that accompanies it always comes at an inopportune time for me, but there really never is a good time for such weather, not for me. I am a child of the heat, the sun and the summer. But with every good thing that the journey of existence offers, it comes to an end. And this season is quickly approaching her demise. With all the current changes that surround me there is much more than the winter that is on the brink of transition. And there is much to be said for ALL of it.
Over the last 18 months I have had spurts of what some might call “down time”. During this said “down time” I have been spending the better part of it in my home studio with a variety of different artists and musicians. Recording sounds into microphones and calling on the studio spirits to guide us through the millions of possibilities that lie between the potential and the possible. I have been so fortunate as to have had such opportunities, and there is BIG part of my heart that has grown from such things. During those times in the depths of the studio I have found some time to work on songs that are not my own or those of the artists I have had the pleasure of recording. In fact, some of the songs that I have been able to record are those of GIANTS (or so I would call them).
Well, Then, I’ll Go To Hell.
I was 16 years old the very first time I listened to Modest Mouse. “The Lonesome Crowded West” was left at my home in Lincoln, Nebraska by someone’s cousin. Of course, he was from California, where people knew “things” about music. Up until that point in my life it was Jim Morrison and John Lennon. There was no time for modern music when I was growing up, I never saw the point. Everything I needed to learn was lying between Beggar’s Banquet and Revolver. I didn’t really know how to think after I listened to The Lonesome Crowded West for the first time. I was confused. An emotionally distraught teenager should never be allowed access to a potentially unlimited amount of money, and I wasn’t. I stole my mother’s credit card and went to the local record store where for $38.97 plus sales tax I bought “The Moon and Antarctica”, “This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About”, and “Building Something Out Of Nothing”. I haven’t had a musical influence that has matched the potency since that day. The deviancy of my childhood was painted with Isaac Brock’s voice. Traveling the country to sing for strangers had become somewhat of a “norm” in the life of both Evan Coulombe and myself. It was 2010 and we were livin’, we would travel from one city to the next in a 2001 Ford Econoline van, pedaling records and singing for people whether they wanted to hear us or not. There is nothing normal about it (traveling as such). When you return home from living life like that you begin to feel empty when you’re not singin/playin/pedalin. I found that the time I spent at home was my darkest time. The time in which I would stir the most. The conclusion I came to was that the time at home wasn’t what was cankering me, it was the fact that I wasn’t creating.
Evan never liked Modest Mouse; I still don’t think he does. I told him that I wanted to record some old songs that were highly influential on me as a teenager, and that most of them were Modest Mouse tunes. He seemed disinterested, but I found with a bit of arm-twisting that he agreed to help me. The first song we did was “Baby Blue Sedan”. We did it in a couple of hours inside of Willamette Mountain. The goal was to record a song a week, quickly, and with no prior plan, we agreed that it’d be best if we both played all the instruments on the recordings, and that we didn’t take it too seriously. If you listen to the recordings you will notice that there are some “mistakes” Over zealous emotionites coming through the fingers or the throat. During “Styrofoam Boots” I sang “devil” instead of “telephone”, that’s what I always heard when I listened to that song growing up. When we recorded it, we did it in one take and right after I sang it, I realized the mistake. But, we both liked it (the take), so we kept it. It doesn’t really matter anyways. I was happy singin. That was the point.
“Well, Then, I’ll Go To Hell” comes from an indirect quote from Mark Twain’s “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. People, at different times throughout history, have a notion of what we SHOULD BE, what society SHOULD ACT LIKE, how we should WALK/TALK/EAT/ACT (SING). But, it’s all hogwash. We got 20/50/80 years to live. Just sing something. Write a book. Build a chair. Do what you feel you need to. Because by GOD! Singin’ these songs sure beats the darkness.
If anyone out there would like to PRE-ORDER the new recordings that we did, they are available HERE. We also did a limited edition of VERY LARGE screen-printed posters on card stock paper. The poster and the CD are available together HERE.
Now that I have put my hand out, asking for not only your eyes (to read this), your ears (to listen to the music) and your money (to buy such things). I have yet ANOTHER request (And yes, I ask for too much).
My friends, young and old. We (Evan, Isaac, Timmy, and myself) are embarking on a great and LONG adventure. We are to leave this next week for a far away land, to sing and dance, to rejoice in existence with people that we have never met. We are going to EUROPE!
We are playing a long stint of shows while there.
And to start off these shows, we are performing this Saturday night (Oct. 5th) at our FAVORITE VENUE (link) in the western United States of America. Velour Live Music Gallery in Provo, Utah.
To celebrate our departure into unknown lands and for the sake of the song, I will (along side my faithful lover, Emma) be baking many loaves of bread to share at the concert. They will be topped with the honey that the “Bees of Willamette MTN” have worked/slaved over this last summer, and I am thrilled to have the first 100 or so folks that arrive taste/rejoice in it.
To end this long and what some might call “NEEDY” blog post I wanted to an offer a bit of an INFORMATIONAL reward. The brassicas are in full bloom around these parts and cabbage is one of the GREATEST of that said family. We were fortunate enough to have some space in the garden this year to plant some Ruby Red Cabbage seeds and much to our JOY we had some heads pop up during that latter part of the summer. We decided to try our hand at some different recipes using them and one of our favorites was plain ole “Cabbage Soup”. Here is a recipe if your heart (and your mouth) so desire!
RUSTIC CABBAGE SOUP
(taken and adapted from 101cookbooks.com)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a big pinch of salt
1/2 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups stock (see head notes)
1 1/2 cups white beans, precooked or canned (drained & rinsed well)
1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons
more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it’s o.k. to uncover to stir a couple times. Stir in the garlic and onion and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit. Now adjust the seasoning - getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. Taste and add more salt if needed, the amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is.
Thank you all for the constant care. I am forever in debt.
Joshua Fred James
Too much travel can make a person start to feel OUT OF TOUCH.
I have spent the better part of two weeks driving to Oregon, and then back to the valley of the city dwellers, which then lead me into my next adventure.
My little brother is a gold miner. He is a strong hard working father of two. After years of pinching every penny that the mining company would trade him for what felt like a lifetime of backbreaking work my brother purchased his first investment.
A trailer home, single wide, beat up and blue. He took much pride in the trailer; it had become his home, and the home of his wife and baby boy (just one at that time). Years passed on and he felt the time had arrived that his family of two boys, a wife, two dogs and himself needed a new place to reside. He decided to keep the trailer as an investment and rent it to others looking for a place to hang their hat while in the town of Elko.
Well, that was two years ago and my brother still is taking much pride in the trailer. I received a phone call two weeks ago; a familiar voice came across the phone lines. It was my brother, asking if I would join my other brother and father in visiting him in Elko to help paint and put up new drywall in the trailer to ensure the condition of the trailer would remain DELUXE.
After arriving home from Oregon I left the next morning for Elko.
Brother C. drove my father, my mother and me to the small mining town in Nevada.
Day one proved to be a bit harder than anticipated. We taped all the windows of the trailer to begin the painting process as the mighty hand of “mother” decided to drop her buckets of precipitation onto the land, putting to waste our early morning endeavors. And so…to the inside we marched. We hammered out the hallway ceiling and began to hang new light boxes and drywall where there once was a saggy, water damaged particleboard. It was looking better.
The tenants of the trailer weren’t there but had left many, MANY signs of human habitation strewn about the place. There was no doubt that someone of much hunger and taste for alcoholic concoctions had been nesting in the quaint spaces of my brother’s trailer. The day continued as such, hanging drywall, fixing the molding that laced the carpeted floors, chipping away at the proverbial block. We finished the day around 8pm and headed back to my brothers home.
The sun rose early in Elko that next morning. Maybe it was ache in my lower back, maybe it was my mind that wouldn’t let me sleep through the high pitched squeals of the two caged critters (ferrets) that sounded as if they would love nothing more than to tear the flesh off of my face while I lay asleep, but whatever it was the sun seemed to call early that morning and I, like a stumbling fool, answered. I headed outside into the rainy morning and passed around the neighborhood, half asleep, moping about and gazing at the old architecture that surrounded the “downtown”.
I returned an hour later to a home filled with the smells of cooking.
My brother’s wife had begun what appeared to be a complex medley of flavors and possible delights for the tongue.
I sat down at the table where the rest of the gang was already deep in conversation about the inhibiting weather that painted the Elkin (Elkin? Elkon/Elko) sky. Painting was out of the question.
"ALRIGHT! Breakfast is served!" the excitement in her voice was something that you might hear at a pep rally right before the game that determined the fate of the years high school football team.
Out came the plates, on each was found a beautiful tower of 4 biscuits who were supporting an assemblage of gravy with chunks of sausage, strips of bacon and fried eggs. This pyramid of American cookery was widely known as a “Pitchers Mound”. Though tempting it was to return to the world of consuming animal flesh after getting up to bat I restrained my inner animal and ate an apple.
On our way to the trailer we stopped to grab more drywall. The plan for the day was to drywall the bedroom seeing as how the weather was being uncooperative with our desire to paint the outside of the trailer. When we arrived to the trailer there was no one else there. We started removing the bed and other belongings from the room. We covered the clothes and dressers the best we could with plastic tarping and started in. 9 hours later we had replaced the light box with a new one, removed and replaced the ceiling and mudded the seems between the sheets of drywall. We went to my brother’s house to grab his vacuum so we could ensure that no particle of dust was left behind. When we returned one of the tenants was sitting on the porch with a pack of Camel Blues in one hand a Bud Light in the other. The look on her face was solemn and semi-focused.
"You couldn’t fu***n’ tell me that were going to rip my bed out of my room and drop sh*t all over my clothes before comin’ in here with your band of brothers to fu***n’ do all your home improvement sh*t?"
I had been under the understanding up until that point that the two tenants that occupied my brothers trailer were in agreeance with our fixing and patching some things inside. This was the first I had heard of the miscommunication.
My brother asked to see what had been ruined by our renovations and to show him exactly. The two headed inside and the remaining three of us stood outside of the place in part embarrassment and part concern for what was to happen.
We had yet cleaned up any of the small pieces of particleboard that surely had fallen all over the bedroom.
"All right, lets finish this thing up,” muttered my brother when he came back out. Apparently they had come to an agreement that we would clean up the mess and that my brother wouldn’t finish any renovations until the following week, when the tenant was scheduled to move out.
In an attempt to “keep the peace” when entering the trailer I tipped my hat to the tenant, in return I received a shaking of the head and what I sounded like a snarl.
I quickly retreated into the bedroom to finish the job.
We returned back to my brothers house just in time for his sons 3rd birthday party.
I spent the remaining time in Elko talking to my father, mother and brothers. Discussing current life choices and ones that have come and gone. The re-connection was wonderful. The next morning we rose early and headed back to the valley, leaving my father and mother in the care of the Delta Airline Corporation.
After all this travel I needed to commune with something other than the inside of a car, a trailer and the haunting recollection of the peppery tenant that surely was cursing our names that early Sunday morning.
My communion of choice?
The mountains. Always the mountains.
The mightiness of them.
After getting home I remembered that I needed to pick up Ollie because his Mama was workin. (It’s funny, but not so funny, how I forget to do VITAL things like taking care of the little man that has consumed my thoughts and deeds (I AM NOT NEGLIGENT)).
I went to my in-laws house and got Ollie and headed straight up the canyon. I met my brother and his lady at the mouth and we headed in. It just so happened that it was their 1-year anniversary and my brother wanted to take her rock climbing. And so we did.
There is very little that I have found in my life that makes me happier than being in the mountains. Maybe its the sweet scent of the pine trees, or the disconnect from the lower part of the valley. Whatever it is, it’s real, and it breathes in me. In his short 5 months of life, Oliver appears to feel the same. I take him out as often as I can, and he never seems happier then when jaunting about, strapped to his papa’s chest, while hearing the whistlin’ tune of an old George Jones song, high on a mountain side.
AJ CHEEK. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.
I am now in Los Angeles (I came the very next morning) mixing 2 records that I had the privilege of recording and producing inside of Willamette Mountain. There are strong whispers (if you can call them whispers) of future travels around to sing for people, to taste the different rains and get lost in the backcountries of far and distant lands. There is much to be happy about. There is almost too much.
To the red headed girl who didn’t know we were fixing her roof.
To my Father, Mother, Brothers and Baby Boy.
To those that entrusted me with their songs.
To the mountains that let me walk their pathways.
To my lover who let’s me wander.
To my friends who keep my cheeks rosy and my belly full of laughter.
To my brothers who travel with me, who sing with me, whom I love.
To the many mysteries of existence, who without life might just become BORING (god FORBID).
To you, and to me.
travelin’ wanderin’ wonderin’