With January slowly fading into the latter part of it’s 2015 days I am foreseeing, just as the previous years, the time passing with a velocity that is both unprecedented and undesired. The last year’s triumphs were received with appreciation, but were often time shaded with the drab shadows that I / we all find peppered along the hills and valleys of a man’s existence. I was allowed to wallow in it’s sweet depression like a child left to his own tantrum, sinking further into self ridicule / scrutiny. I, at times (and possibly too often), would pass the weeks under a dark cloud, wondering if / when the yellow light of the sun might make her way back onto the landscape. I didn’t pretend to be rid of her, I wasn’t able. I was consumed in it, and let it dictate my thoughts. Hours of putting my obscurity into word form and eventually lyrical content helped (albeit small) my mind cope with the ache. Drastically described? Excessively outlined?
Sure, but it’s lasting echo still rings loudly in my “New Year” psyche.
I have, throughout my life, come to realize / accept that I am prone to the darkness, my heart in a constant state of flux and confusion but with clarifying neighbors that lend a lucid approach to the “coping” of my existence.
Speaking from my inside is both divulging and liberating. BUT…if you can’t speak of it you can’t heal with it. New Years (so often time) send me spinning into a dream of reflection. A colorful image of past, a bleak and blurry vision of present and a looming shade of future, all intricately compiled into a single thought, a thought that can last a lifetime.
I am learning (still) to welcome each rising sun, each falling night and the completion of every year, though its difficulty had proven herculean. As the last days of December faded into the inversion that surrounds the Utahn mountain range I, as I am sure I have done in years passed by, told myself that this year I would conquer. Without formulating what the verb specifically should detail in the 365 days to come. The eve of the New Year came and it went, but one REAL thought remained.
Make a recording of it.
In life I have found most joy in the expression that we are all capable of. Music / singing has been at the forefront of that creative caravan, and though the prospect often time (always) feels overwhelming, I knew that the outcome would be soothing, even if the same sentiment wasn’t shared with listeners. As the first week of January came I sat to list the songs that had surfaced throughout the last 18 months of my life. I whittled them down to 24 songs that I felt comfortable with. For a couple of days I hid in an upstairs bedroom, typing and notating the lyric and structural changes of each one. I called on a friend to help me set up microphones to begin the process, and without too much thought we began. I feel liberated to begin. After all, isn’t it all beginnings anyhow?
Timmy The Teeth / Drum King / Coles 4038
Evan The Terrible / AKG / Guitar ELECTRIK
Californian Visitation / Rico Csabai / Ollie Investigation / Tuck.
Singing Sisters / Shure SM7 / Coppertone
Tape Machine / Jordan / Ollie Reunion
Bear Face / Green Bullet / Room Microphones
Late Night Choir / One AM
Teams of Friends
January, the month that follows the season, the coldest days that we see (usually), she has settled down, comfortably, here in the valley of Utah, bringing with her a sense of both light and dark. She looks left to the brightness of the coming months and years, scanning over every pivotal moment that might or might not weave it’s way into the tapestry of our every day/existence. She looks right at the smog-filled mornings and dark frozen nights that have made themselves apart of the post Christmas ritual. OH! To you, Miss Jan. I might find it long winded but have recently been told that she holds a small treasure chest of holidays to boot. Of all of the holidays that I have discovered that lie in January’s 31 days, those that stuck out the most might go as follows:
National Thank You Month, Weight Loss Awareness Month, National Codependency Month, Stalking Awareness Month, and the list trudges on. I find that the suggestion of “NEW YEARS resolutions” just get me overwhelmed with my ever growing list of “to-do’s and to don’ts”. I can’t possibly add another “Take a vacation to somewhere tropical” or “Don’t drink so much caffeine” to my 2015 docket. I. Just. Can’t. I am doing my best to make it through this first month with as few scratches as I can muster. There must be support groups that help people like me get through times like this.
Sister Visitations / Cousins
I find that a part of the New Year’s lull is the unwillingness (on my part) to venture into the wildly frigid outdoors. I have never been a man of the slopes and have yet to find the right combination of wool, cotton, boot and coat to keep my body from feeling the early effects of hypothermia. I did, however, get myself dolled up in all the winter dressings alongside my small boy and lover to venture into American Fork’s canyon. The plan was to find a hikeable trail and venture out into the winter tundra. As we approached the frozen reservoir Ollie noticed the army of children making their way down the side of the hill with plastic circles and tubes as their transport. The original plan of hiking had gone out the window with this new vision of fun and adventure. We had not prepared properly for this winter activity but watched as Ollie tried to scoot his way down the mountain, bit by bit, taking pauses, every so often to make sure he wasn’t over stimulated by the excitement. The day went as this. Two people watching one small boy slide down a mountain and realizing that there wasn’t ANY thing in the world that could possibly be better. The simplicity of it all is something I try to hold onto, albeit impossible/unlikely/unfortunate.
Ollie Monster / Snow Prince
After hours in the snow and mountain air we returned back to the comforts of the MTN. Emma had been preparing Flax-Sesame loaves for the oven and I started in on a new favorite Tempeh dish. We had purchased a package of Trader Joe’s tempeh a month or so a go and I felt it prudent to use it before the fermented soy beans furthered their reach into the world of natural culture. I found, online, a recipe for Mexican style Tempeh Tacos (see recipe below) We didn’t use the requested hard shell tacos and opted for a homemade flour tortilla recipe found here
- 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c. diced tomatoes
- 1 fresh jalapeño, diced
- 2-4 tsp. chili powder (2 was plenty for us!)
- 3 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. lime juice
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. minced chipotle pepper
- 1/4 c. Bragg’s liquid aminos (coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce work too)
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 tbsp. water
- salt + pepper to taste
- olive oil mister or cooking spray
- dash of liquid smoke
- 6-8 hard taco shells (or tortillas)
- vegan cheese, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, cilantro, black olives, and lime wedges for serving
- Crumble your tempeh into a large mixing bowl. Then, using a large spoon, mix in the garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño, chili powder, cumin, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, chipotle pepper, and Bragg’s. Once your tempeh is completely mixed into the spices, mix in the onion and pepper. Then drizzle the water 1 tablespoon at a time into your mix while stirring your ingredients continuously. Taste a little bit of your tempeh and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spray your favorite cast-iron skillet or frying pan with a heavy coating of olive oil cooking spray, and then heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, toss in the tempeh mixture and liquid smoke. Flip your tempeh-vegetable mixture a few times so that it browns evenly. You’ll know it’s ready when your vegetables are tender and your tempeh has crispy edges. It should take about 10 minutes.
- Stuff Taco shells or Tortillas with Tempeh mixture. YUP. GOOD.
As I was preparing the mixture for dinner I noticed that some of the garlic that we have been keeping is going bad, about 1/3 of each head of cloves has wilted or rotted. Something had to be done less we lose our crop of harvested garlic. Research proved to give me a solution. Frozen garlic cloves. Easily enough I peeled hundreds of garlic cloves and stuffed them into mason jars to be placed in the deep freeze. It is said that it might taste a bit less strong from your typical freshly peeled and grated clove, but that the amount of garlic that you will preserve should get you through the winter months. This is what we are hoping for. The process of peeling each clove started off as a dull and fastidious task but soon turned into a therapeutic mediation. I was become ONE with each clove, the transformation was alarming. This “union” of minds/cloves could have also likely stemmed from the sounds of the fab four booming from the stereo. “…bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down on her head…” The night finished off with a hefty amount of reading. Titles such as “The Pout Pout Fish” and “Night Night Llama Llama” were distinguishly studied and discussed between us three. I couldn’t have asked for a better post-tempeh activity.
Post Holiday Blues are to a minimum. Rejoice, rejoice. Here is to the new year. May our hearts find new loves, may the antiquity of 2014’s sorrow disappear like the clean air of the valley. There is too much to do, and plenty of time to try.
"It’s the season of the dancing king.
Be a lady it’s a bit less mean if ya
Speak yer mind when yer conscience seeks the same.”
American Fork Canyon / Gang of Three / Ghosts
I have come to the temporary conclusion that I am in love with the idea / the concept / the mythical “non-reality”. A year ago the boys and I traveled across a mighty ocean to sing for people in Europe. While we were there we made our way to so many / too many beautiful countries, one of which struck me to the inside, the very core of me.
You can just say the name and the brain is filled immediately with thoughts of adventure, culture, dancing, music, love, life and the pursuit of a good life. All of these things I felt, and wildly so. I wrote to my love back home and told her that maybe this was the place we should travel to and maybe eventually move to. I had the wild notion of teaching English, living in a small house with land to keep animals and grow a garden. We would swim in the ocean, run on the beaches, raise babies and live on wine and love. Oh, the idea, the wonderful and magical feeling it gives. But as I returned home I realized that my highly unplanned and slightly erratic “plan” to move to Spain was unlikely, and changing my location just might NOT be the right thing for me at the moment.
I was in love with the “NON-REALITY” of moving.
Christmas is like this for me, sometimes (most the time). I love the idea of Christmas, the feeling that surrounds December 25th. I am the first to start listening to Christmas music. Immediately after the Halloween decorations have been put back in their boxes I start pushing the boundaries of just how much Christmas music one household can stand. The lights and the glitter, the jolly St. Nick and his army of elves, the mistletoe and holly, the streaming colors of green and red that inevitably paint every department store from here to Boston. ALL OF THIS I love. It is the trimmings that hang from the giant neon sign that reads: “CHRISTMAS”, but next to none of it has much to do with the actual supposed holiday of Christmas. I am not here to say that this is good or it is bad, I am not saying I agree or disagree with what we have sized Christmas into. If anything I am infatuated with the sillier side of Christmas. It feels, child-like and jovial. I want to BE child-like and jovial. The telling of an immortal, jolly, toy-making, cookie-eating old man who sees all that we do and makes notes of our behaviors on a “naughty and nice” list, and rewards us with either gadgets and toys that we REALLY REALLY want or a sock of coal is not much different than many stories that we carry onto our adult years, past the Santa Claus era of our adolescence.
I recall the exact moment when my Mother told me that Santa wasn’t real. Heartbreakingly destructive for me that year. I couldn’t grasp the concept that something I had believed my entire life could possibly not be true. My young mind couldn’t compute such a notion. Why would I have any reason not to believe it? Just because Jason Bradford, who lived across the street from me, said to Tyson Chambers, while waiting for Mrs. Vodenhall to start class that cold day in December: “Of COURSE Santa isn’t real, DUH!?” Doesn’t mean he isn’t [real], right? RIGHT!?
“..MOM!? RIGHT!?? I mean Santa IS REAL, RIGHT?”
“Joshua, I am sorry, son. He isn’t real….”
Crushing. Simply crushing.
The idea of it all is a magic. A good magic (I think). It is a feeling that surrounds the season for me. Much more than the actual day or holiday. It is a time to reflect on the year, on myself, my progression (or lack there of). It is a time to build ginger bread houses, to think of those that I love and truly care about. A time to give a bit more of myself.
You might be thinking (because heavens knows I am) “shouldn’t you be doing this all year round?” And of COURSE the answer is a resounding “YES” but I am just pointing out that during the Christmas season I am reminded of these sort of actions / processes more often.
This year was no different with these feelings and emotions. Santa came and conquered the season, filling Willamette MTN with a spirit of family, love, joy and gift giving. I found myself trying to think of something that my loved ones might enjoy more than a box of chocolates or a new fashion that might eventually make it’s way to the local thrift outlet. With the help of a beautiful friend I settled on some woodcarvings. I bought some simple tools that would help me carve a massive piece of walnut wood into multiple cooking spoons, coffee scoops and cutting boards.
Beginnings / Walnut Wood
Spoons / Walnut Wood
Walnut / Cherry / Walnut
In past years I would be caught up in the last minute mall shopping, looking for something that said “I REALLY CARE”, and during those semi stressful hours of searching I was (in one way or another) really trying to think about that person that I was shopping for. I found that the same type of “meditation” and “love thinking” went into the spoon carving but without the added HUSTLE. I was able to think about whom it was I was carving it during the whole cutting, carving, sanding, and curing process. Something I hope to repeat in the future years.
Without all the driving around and worrying about the perfect gift I was able to spend a bit more of my time with my favorite gang members around. We had a hootenanny of a time on Dec. 19th when many of my favorite people gathered together at W. MTN to celebrate in the season. There was food shared, gifts exchanged and graham cracker houses decorated. My love for them is ETERNAL.
Christmas Eve quickly arrived and with the weather being as cooperative as I could hope for my lover, boy, and I headed to the hills to get a piece of the beauty before the winter’s nasty claws got sharper and harder to handle. Believe what you will, but there are ghosts in the canyon of American Fork. We returned home and I decided to give a go at making one of my family’s favorite Christmas breakfasts.
In years passed I had just used a pancake mix to try and simulate the amazing traditional Danish dish. But this year! This year was different! I followed the recipe to a “T” and was rewarded with a happy bunch at the breakfast table. If ya care to try it. Follow this recipe
Oliver / Aebleskivered OUT.
Christmas morning came. It snowed and stuck for the first time this season. Gifts were exchanged. Family visited. And after much of the day had passed I settled down with Emma and we read through some of the books that we received, taking in the remainder of the day with a cup of tea and slow breathing.
King Oliver. Christmas Chaos
What lives we are all leading.
Joshua Fred (A Wolf)