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Seasonal Delights. A Hearty Hand Can Kill A Man.

December 28, 2013

Tis The Season for Cutlery by Father James

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Christmas.

Holiday.

“THE SEASON”

It’s a constant tension with the lightest release. The season of snow and Santa, the curious addiction to buying unneeded “EVERYTHINGS. Her grasp starts even before the day of Thanksgiving arrives and gets comfortable while stretching her already over reaching grasp throughout the rest of the year. Engraving her name into the brains of our modern day culture. Now, that being said it is hard to slander the season for her unrelenting desire to push the American mind to  B U Y  everything in his/her sight out of true (if it is indeed true) desire to  G I V E  to the sister, the friend, the father, the neighbor.  I am not saying IT / THIS to sound ungrateful for that which I have been/was/will be given. I say it because I just can’t shake the pressure, the looming energy that surrounds the shopping malls and online purchases, causing my Cortisol levels to break nearly from the point of no return, and sending my heart into a Paul Simon-esque rhythm. It is all together terrible/un-needed/un-welcomed and non-sensical.

I need to drink more water, breathe slower, see more mountain. During such a “trying” time of the year I can’t help but believe that my body gives up double the time that it initially intended to live. I feel too young to suffer from such a stress-riddled season. Tour came to a close. I returned home. And it was time for a break from heavy living/breathing.

I see my parents on a very irregular basis. I felt determined to spend this time of cheer/stress and color with the ones who gave me life. I would stop at no expense. If it was my pocket book that should take the brunt of their travels then so be it. They were spending it with us. No question. No excuse. I rung my Mother on the telephone and explained my plan.

You are to spend the Christmas season with me.” I muttered with a strong sense of determination.  “Is that right?” She responded with the same amount of retort. “I haven’t seen you or Papa for a good while now, wouldn’t you talk to him, in regards to spending Christmas here? It would mean so much to us. Emma and Oliver would just be tickled to be able to open gifts around the tree with you two.” There was a silence. “I will talk to him tonight.” The next day my Mother informed me that they would be coming out for the season and that they were excited to see us. Flights were booked, and it became official. The realization of their staying became something of twitch in my mind. The house/MTN was a disaste.  And for five days? What would we have them do so that they not loose their hard working minds? Those two are not the kind to sit around while the television turns their brains into non-thinking / non-functioning jelly. I had to think of something.

OLLIE-ver at Coffee Kingdom. (Preparation Planning) #radboyzonly

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Bring down the blankets! FATHER is coming!

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Preparatory Measures

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My mother came out three days before my father and we spent the days in a strong cloud of cooking fine food, feeding the farm animals, watching movies, listening to The Carpenters sing Christmas songs, and catching up on any and all of life’s current and past events over what felt like thousands of cups of hot tea. I am grateful for her heart and willingness to open up to me. After my Father arrived to the airport early Christmas Eve morning we swung by the coffee shop and shared opinions and thoughts on the current climate of Utah/American politics before heading to the MTN. As soon as we arrived back we started in on the sour dough baguettes. I had made the leaven the previous night and we made the dough so to let it rise properly before baking.  We then spent the remainder of Christmas Eve day under the protection of the SEASONAL ANGELS.

THE BAGUETTES!

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Christmas Eve night arrived and we (Mother, Father, Brother, Lover & Son) huddled around the house with graham cracker built houses and buckets of high fructose corn syrup laden confections for decorative purposes and put out hands to work, building the finest of ginger bread houses sans the ginger bread (graham crackers seemed to suit us fine). Every shingle, door, wreath, and gutter was constructed from some sugary refinement. The decorating came to a close and we wept at the beauty and individualistic spirit that each and every house seemed to whisper. My Mother’s was the best. She has a true gift. The night ended around the fire, talking and drinking home brewed kombucha.

The morning came and with it, Christmas. As a child I can recall the almost unbearable frenzy that the mentioned morning would send me into. I would wait at the top of the stairs until my parents would call us six children down to feast on stockings stuffed with oranges and chocolate and indulge in the unwrapping of so many unknown offerings. It is a time that has come and gone, one that I surely do miss. The morning of Christmas 2013 felt different. The goats still needed fresh water and hay, the chickens their respective feed, the dogs their morning attention, and the like. It was as any other day but with a different name. The sun still crested the mountains, the wind still whipped and my mind still wandered. The three boys headed out for a Christmas morning walk while Emma prepared Ebelskivers for the gang. We sat around the table that morning, discussing the New Year and the many adventures that the 2014 might bring. The day quickly passed her responsibilities to the nighttime and we found ourselves hungry after our gift giving and receiving, our visiting and vocations and I had just the magic ticket for the occasion. I had made the plan of preparing a traditional Venezuelan Christmas cuisine (minus the animal flesh). My intention was to prepare hallacas (click on link to see recipe) for the guests in attendance that Christmas night. The preparation was a bit more time intensive than I had originally anticipated but the payoff was worth it. They turned out lovely, and it was with those beautiful creations that we shared our dreams and plans for the future around the table that beautiful Christmas night. My parents found themselves possessed with the spirit of Morpheus and didn’t resist his influence. They crept off to bed while my brother and I sat around the fire talking of the mysteries of our minds. The hour turned to 1:00 am and our bodies needed the rest.

HALLACAS / My Tribute to Venezuela (My Intention)

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Christmas Day Walkin’ #radboyzonly

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The following day, after the sun had set higher in the sky, we set off to find solace and serenity in the mighty mountains of American Fork Canyon. With shoes that defy the natural crushing/decaying of the snow’s molecular structure we stormed up what is known as “Tank Canyon” and witnessed a beautiful scene. The soft wind, the glow of the condensation, the warmth of love in the group, it was all such a wonderful reality that we were living.

Lover / Mother / Canyon Ghost

OLLIE-ver Conquers the Mountain. #radboyzonly

MOUNTAIN GANGZ. #radboyzonly

After we returned back to the car we headed home and spent the remainder of morning and nights in a similar fashion. Cooking and talking, connecting and singing. I am/was overwhelmed by the joy that they (my parents) brought to the house. The days have passed by like leaves in the wind since their arrival, and I feel a void since their departure. How mighty love is/can be. And for it I am in debt. It’s abundance is a blanket of comfort and peace. I feel fortunate this season. I am happy. I am free.

Merry Christmas. May we buy less and love/feel more this coming year.

SHA SHA!

Joshua Fred.

In Wales There Lives A Tale of True Heart/True Gifts/Real Love.

November 30, 2013

Rental Car Tragedies. No Time for Tales of Such Lacking INfluence.

Life’s marvelous inconsistent way of sending mini quakes of trembling vibrations into the “PATTERNS” of what one’s day should/might/could consist of is one of the MANY mysteries, to which I have no answer.

It was November 18th, the boys and I had settled into the traveling; the singing, the vagabonding and we were getting better at it. The grey clouds, that often accompany the various towns/cities, swirled in the atmosphere and we made the drive from London-Town in a reasonable 3 and half hours, arriving safely to Cardiff, Wales. A pizza shop on the corner, a café that served “holiday haggis” around the corner, and a Tesco supermarket adjacent to it were what our eyes were given before playing that night at the early hour of 8pm.  As with most shows on the tour through Europe, this one was great. Those in attendance allowed us to push and pull songs through the loudspeakers of the club, making our way through most of “From The Top Of Willamette Mountain” and dipping into other “these’s and those’s” from past and future releases. The crowd was rowdier than shows in the past, but respectful. Fiery with a strong reverence.

Grateful for them.

Grateful for it.

As the Temperance Movement boys were playing their second to last song a short, sweaty, and obviously intoxicated man approached the counter where Tom (the wonderful boy/man from York, UK, that sold merchandise for The Temperance Movement) and I were pedaling our appropriate music’s. “Give me that shirt,” the man abruptly shouted. “That’ll be fifteen quid, mate.” Tom respectfully responded. “FIFTEEN FU*&#N QUID? Who’s gonna fu&*#n’ pay fifteen quid for a T shirt?” Now, I could tell that things were getting a bit strange when the man asked to try on a shirt and removed his sweaty, well worn white T-shirt to put on the Temperance Movement one. Immediately after putting it on, he gave himself a smug look of approval and threw a bill for 10 pounds on the table, turned, and walked away. Tom did not find this amusing or acceptable. He informed the security of the club about the missing 5 quid from the purchase, which resulted in quite the tussle between the security guards and the short, smug man. He was tossed onto a small plastic table that, underneath his weight, immediately gave way and was crushed underneath the man’s body. He was then torn out of the club by what I would call a “choke hold”, and that was that…UNTIL, while loading out after the show the man came at Tom in a belligerent and uncoordinated manner, claiming that Tom had “FU@#ED HIM OVER!” As his friends held his body from getting any closer to Tom and the rest of the boys we (Tim, Ike, Evan and I) hopped into our Ford S-Max and zoomed off to our site of couchsurfing for the night.

Our host for Cardiff, Wales had, two days prior, let us know that she would not be able to be there when we arrived because of work in Germany. She left a key, hidden underneath of a brick in front of her old cottage house. We arrived and on the front door it read:

“Dear boys, I am sorry that I am not here with you all to usher you into my home. Please help yourself to any food in the cupboards, and there is plenty of wine next to the fireplace. I will see you all tomorrow. Welcome. –Jenny.”

We wandered around the house, getting an overview of what was included in the spirit and décor of the place. Upon a bit of running around we noticed something quite unique to other places we have stayed. One, being the room filled with everything that a child could imagine to play with (dolls, tea sets, fake foods, veggies, cookies, etc) all HAND KNIT, it was SUCH a sight to see. Second, underneath a couple of floor boards we noticed small dolls living their lives “underground”, something that you would see in the film “The Borrowers”, and third, a house rabbit that we promptly named Lucinda Williams after discovering her existence, pouncing around from one corner of the room to the next.

LUCINDA AND ME. (HOUSE RABBITS)

FLOOR BOARD CRITTERS 1

FLOOR BOARD CRITTERS 2

We decided to keep ourselves inside of the kitchen, drinking Spanish wine and discussing the incredibly unique situation that we were currently in. The night ended around two and we headed out in the morning to get a better view of Cardiff. Not much happened apart from a small jaunt through the forest, and a quick stop at the “American Diner” (see picture below),

where American cuisine is obviously heralded as a bucket of greasy fries, a hamburger and a giant thermos of coffee, and with reason, that IS, unfortunately, a common culinary practice around our country. Shame shame. We returned to Jenny’s house around 4pm. We knocked on the door and Alex, her pseudo-husband/partner, greets us. His bright smile and mild manner was comforting and he welcomed us into the home. We wandered downstairs where Jenny was quickly putting her grocery purchases away and had already started cutting and chopping vegetables that would be part of one of the greatest meals my buds have had the pleasure of tasting.

A Table of Tales

JENNY. A TRUE SAINT

            Jenny is a 64 year young Child, Mother, Grandmother, Adventurer, World Traveler, Cook, Wine Enthusiastic, Conversational zing, SWEETHEART. Upon meeting her I was instantly taken aback at how much I felt at home with her around. She was the country mother/sister that I had pictured during some of the fantastical, beautiful fables that I read as a boy. She welcomed us to help at the chopping counter to help cut green peppers, leeks, and potatoes which would make their way into the boiler to form a delicious Potato and Leek soup (a very common dish found in Wales). As we chopped, the suggestion to open a bottle of red wine was tossed into the realm of possibilities and was quickly embraced with Jenny’s approval. After some more preparation we were asked to be seated at the dinner table, Jenny at one end, and Alex at the other. The conversation and wine pouring ran wild. Jenny shared with us of her travels around the United States, as a girl of 19 years, she would hitchhike via aero plane, asking pilots to give her a lift to San Francisco, or New York, Chicago, Tallahassee, and all around the massive North American continent. Dinner lasted a good 2-3 hours, with multiple different dishes being brought to and fro and many bottles of good Spanish wine opened.

Queen of The Kitchen

Feasting Eyes. Table of Trouble.

After dinner we moved a couple feet into the room adjacent to the kitchen, where there was a wood-burning fireplace that kept us warm as we continued the conversation. We discussed things about life that I have been afraid to talk about with even my closest of friends/family, with ease.  Jenny  gave us the grand tour of the house, stopping in the room where all of the knit toys were. She pulled one doll down from the cupboard. “Bob The Builder” was his name, all hand knit, every shirt, pant, tool on his person was knit by Jenny. She turned to me and offered him as a gift to my son, my heart leapt, this wonderful woman that I had met a mere 8 hours prior was giving me something that had taken her MUCH MUCH time to create, all out of the desire to help and better someone else’s existence. There was a lightness of weight in the air. As the 7th bottle of wine was opened the time read 3am and it felt as if the day had been 3 years long, fading in and out of the realm of reality and dipping into a state of sub-consciousness that I have rarely had the opportunity to experience. As I lay in bed that night I couldn’t help but think about the wildness of human diversity. The millions of different experiences that one human has from another, the mother, the father, the child, the weather, the routines, traditions, foods, drinks, interactions, et CETERA. And YET!!! I was in Wales with this amazingly kind woman and man, experiencing something I had NEVER before, and I think the thing that caught me MOST off guard was the fact that two days prior we were COMPLETE strangers. None of us having known each other. They opened their home to us, the shared secrets, experiences, stories, food, wine, love, all without even being ASKED TO, or PAID, or BRIBED, merely out of the GOODNESS of their hearts. If I had tears to cry that night, I would have.

OLIVER with BOB THE BUILDER. A Reunion of Soul.

The next morning arrived with a slight spin of my head cage; Jenny had gotten up early to make Danish cakes and coffee. We were thankful and made sure she knew. We were to drive to Birmingham that day and had a few short hours to spend before continuing on our vagabonding/singing crusade. We joined her as she walked to the market to get groceries for a lunch we did not know was being made in our behalf.  As we were walking back to the house I felt a small twinge in the back of my brain, knowing that we would have to be leaving shortly. When we got back Jenny made us sandwiches and packaged up other foods for our drive to the next city. She walked us to the door and with a hug and a kiss we lamented to have to go. All the boys felt it, the slight discomfort to know that MAYBE, just MAYBE we would never see this amazing woman ever again. The time that she shared with us was one of the most beautiful days I have had in my life. Her kindness has changed me, her willingness to be a REAL person…INSPIRATIONAL.

I wish I had the time to mention every single person that has shown us kindness during our travels around Europe. There are too many to count. The human being is GOOD. We are GOOD, we just must CHOOSE IT. And we can. By GOD, WE MUST!

Thank you Jenny, thank you all for the time we spent together.

I am home now and the travels seem as distant as a fairy tale story.

Joshua Fred James

The Three Angels of Amsterdam

November 9, 2013

FRANKFURT, GERMANY

BACKROOM BOYS

AMSTERDAM #1

AMSTERDAM #2

FIVE ON THE FLOOR. ANGEL #3