Blog

Christmas Kings / Simply Crushing.

December 26, 2014

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. 

Spain.

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.

Aebleskivers.

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.
BEAUTY (truly)

Joshua Fred (A Wolf)

Give A Penny / Take A Feeling

December 12, 2014

It’s the holiday season.

White snow & mistletoe. Ornaments and stockings. It’s the “Most Wonderful Time of The Year”. Every time the Thanksgiving leftovers have been stuffed into the refrigerator and the winter winds start to swoop through the valley I find myself overwhelmed with thoughts of seasons gone / seasons passed.  I am reminded of the winters in Nebraska, and the magic that seemed to surround the season there. Out of all of the holiday memories that fill my mind there is one in particular that sticks out in my mind. It was December 24th.  I must have been no more than 8 years old. I woke up to a snowy morning and almost instantaneously felt overwhelmed with the “Christmas Spirit,” I couldn’t wait for my gifts / my stocking / my “Christmas Morning”. The day was filled with ginger bread building and food preparations for Christmas Eve night. Beach Boys’ Christmas sang through the speakers and my brothers and I danced around the Christmas tree while Brian Wilson sang “Little Saint Nick”.  All was right with the world.

Soon the sun began to set and I could already hear Santa’s sleigh parking atop the house on Fir Hollow Ct. “Ok, kids, let’s go,” my dad said as he came through the garage door.  I was confused,“…Go? Go where? It’s Christmas Eve.  Aren’t we going to do the scavenger hunt? Aren’t we going to make sandwiches and watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas?” I asked, concerned. “Yes, yes, but first there are some people that we need to visit.” He kindly replied. Reluctantly I joined my other brothers and sisters in the Ford Econoline 150 and we headed out across town.  My father parked the van on an unfamiliar street and asked if I would help him carry some things to a house across the way. “…I guess so.” He handed me a box of what appeared to be toys and food and grabbed the other package that appeared to be a full, frozen turkey. We braved the cold and placed the items on a doorstep of whom I am still not certain. “Ok, Joshua, get ready. I am going to ring the doorbell and then we are going to get back to the car as fast as we can.” I wasn’t even sure what the point of this game was, but I felt excited to be a part of it. He rang the doorbell and we sprinted back to the van. As soon as we got back to the van all my brothers and sisters were anxiously waiting to leave, it seemed they knew the game better than me. And so we went. We were off to the next house, and then the next, the next one and then the next, it was going on and on, but I wasn’t longing to be home, I felt something important was happening. As we dropped off the turkey to the last home my father explained to me that all the homes we had visited that night hadn’t hardly a thing to eat, and no presents for their children. He explained that we had been fortunate, blessed to have what we had, rich beyond belief. I was overwhelmed with the thought and emotion. I will never / could never forget that night.

This Holiday season I decided that I had a “turkey of my own” to give away. I spent last week here inside of Willamette MTN, recording a rendition of an old Christian Hymn. “We Three Kings” was modestly recorded with the help of some amazing friends (Timmy The Teeth, RuRu) and will be released on December 16th, via iTunes and other outlets. You may also download the track now from our friends at Noisetrade and donate whatever amount you wish to give.

Every penny that comes in from the song will be donated to the World Food Program (http://www.wfp.org/) to help families in need of food. Whatever “THIS” is, we are ALL in it together. Please take a moment and visit the webpage of the Program, become informed.

The song will be available iTunes and other online media starting Dec. 16th. It is available for donation download now HERE

May the holiday season be bright and may the giving never cease.

WE ARE CHANGE.

Joshua Fred James

CLEAN CLEANING / SUGAR EATING

November 26, 2014

GARDEN GUARDIANS / OLLIE THE DIRECTOR

image

5:30 AM comes earlier than it normally does when you fill the latter part of the day with herbal teas that have been spiked with Senna leaves. When 1:07 AM comes around, and your body has been in her resting position, there might come a sudden jolt of ache stemming from the reaction that your stomach (and other organs) has given from the “Detoxing” element of the tea that was drank the night prior. Why such a radical choice of tea for the night time?”  You might ask. And yes, it is a valid question. Well…the answer is a touch more complicated than ONE single reason and, or thing. I haven’t ever REALLY made accustom the practice of drinking laxative teas, though often time, I have found, their flavor to be of the licorice variety, which agrees with my taste buds more than other herbal teas. The practice (of drinking these Senna infused teas) started November first. My body, my mind, my being was going through a darkened moment. I felt sluggish, un-energetic, unhealthy, too caffeinated, tired, beat up and SLOOOOW. My mama and sister (both very driven individuals) told me about a book and program (if you can call it a program) that they had recently done. I looked up the book at the nearest retailer and was well on my way to giving a “good ol’boy” try the (enter timpani roll) CLEAN diet, or program, or cleanse, or fast, or whatever. 

PEDIBRUSHING

image

I bought the book in late October and by the time November first rolled around I was ready to give the Clean Cleanse a go. I had wanted to wean myself off the 6-8 cups a day of coffee that I had been drinking, get my lungs cleaned, and avoid acid forming foods, which is a big part of the reason for looking into trying out such a food choice change.

 The book, in short, is a description of a recommended “Elimination Diet” where you (basically) avoid caffeine, alcohol, gluten, and added sugar (See Below).

FOOD TO INCLUDE (and avoid)

Fruits

Almost all fresh fruit

Avoid: Citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, etc)

Vegetables

Almost all fresh raw, steamed, sautéed, or roasted vegetables

Avoid: Tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes (sweet potato and yams are okay)

Starch

Rice*, buckwheat*

Avoid: Wheat, corn, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, oats, all gluten-containing products

Legumes

All beans, peas, lentils

Avoid: Soybeans, tofu, tempeh, soy milk,

Nuts and seeds

All seeds and nuts

Meat and fish

Fish, turkey, lamb, wild game

Avoid: Beef, chicken, pork, cold cuts, bacon, hotdogs, canned meat, sausage, shellfish, meat substitutes made from soy

Dairy products and milk substitutes

Unsweetened rice milk*, almond milk, coconut milk

Avoid: Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream, non-dairy creamers, eggs

Fats

Cold-expeller pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil

Avoid: Margarine, butter, processed and hydrogenated oils, mayonnaise, spreads

Beverages

Drink plenty of fresh water, herbal teas (e.g. rooibos, peppermint, etc.)

Avoid: Alcohol, caffeine (coffee, black tea, soda)

Spices and condiments

Sea salt, fresh pepper, fresh herbs and spices (i.e. garlic, cumin, dill, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, turmeric)

Avoid: Chocolate, ketchup, mustard, relish, chutney, soy sauce, barbecue sauce

Sweeteners

Stevia, Coconut Nectar (if needed)

Avoid: White or brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, desserts

As an already non-animal-flesh consumer, the meat area of the Avoidances was of little concern. It was the Caffeine (coffee) and the breads (that beautiful gluttonous concoction of love), and dare I even say it? A bit of the magic, fermented, inebriating liquid some might call “hooch”. And all of these things, out the window, BY MY OWN CHOICE. What!? WHY!?  I needed a restart button, but couldn’t find one anywhere on my person, I felt a strong gravitation toward the program after finishing the book, not only to improve my health, but for a good challenge to boot.

So, the program is quite basic, from what I understood. It requires you do three KEY things.

  1. Take Cleanse Supplements.  Jumpstart your own body’s own detoxification process by taking a few natural supplements aimed to remove toxins. Replenish your body with nutrients that helps aid in digestion and support your liver and digestive system as you detox.
  2. Eat from the Elimination Diet. Avoid foods that are common allergens and only eat from the Elimination Diet list. This allows you to help identify if there are certain foods that causes your body to react poorly as you re-introduce those foods back into your system post-cleanse.
  3. Liquid Breakfast & Dinner. Aid your body in detox and digestion by having a liquid breakfast and dinner. It takes your body at least 8 hours to fully digest food, so by drinking dinner, it helps your body quickly breakdown and absorb the nutrients that you need and helps kick the digestive system into detox mode. You also have to allow 12 hours between dinner and breakfast so that your body has time to completely digest from dinner and kick into detox mode every evening.

Other than that, its quite SMOOOTH sailing. I started the cleanse on November 1st and by November 5th, with no caffeine in my system I was feeling no headaches, no mid-day lull, and no upset stomach. I thought it silly to give up coffee for a good while but as I noticed my body’s reaction to the lack of caffeine/coffee in my stomach I started to reconsider my prior opinion. At day 12 I was getting tired of the juice in the morning and soup in the evening with a 12 hour resting period between my last meal and my first of the following day, BUT!….I did enjoy, however, the effects of avoiding some of the foods that had been causing a bit of bodily discomfort (i.e., gluten). As day 20 rolled around I found myself really happy with the choice to try the cleanse. I feel lighter, more energetic; more bounce in my step, more spring in my jaw (I am not quite sure what that is supposed to mean) and have yet to return to my beverage of choice, coffee. I have, instead, replaced it with a substitute of sorts. When I pass through the whipping windy area of the Midwest I make it a point to stop through Lincoln to visit my parents. This last time through my mother pointed out a drink that she had been liking. Name? Caffix. It is a barley based coffee alternative with added chicory and a very small amount of beet sugar. Since the cleanse has ended I have introduced Caffix into my morning ritual and have had very little desire to return to coffee. I haven’t needed the BUMP to get me out of bed or started for the day. Is this a goodbye? A sappy sorrowful adieu to the beverage that has brought me so much joy and jitter through out the years? I don’t know. BUT, I do know that I am feeling better, and isn’t that good for something? Noticing the changes in my body since her removal (Queen Coffee / Gary the Gluten Gourd) is something I am trying to take a bit more serious….or something. I think I am boring myself with all of this talk.

On other notes.

Since the cleanse I did do a post “cleaning” sugar coaster. We made homemade sugar cookie dough and frosting. I think I like crafts. And after the juicing and detoxing, the avoidances and rules I mistreated myself in such a GOOD way. It was a family affair of sprinkles and sugar bits. Cookies and frosting with a touch of creativity to make it feel “justified”. I slept 9 hours that night. Surely a coma of the sugary sorts.

BABY BOY / MAMA / MAKING DECISIONS

image

SUGAR

image

SUGAR HIGHS

The winter has begun here in the mountains of Utah. The biting cold air has floated in and the first snow has fallen. It was time to finish digging up the remainder of the root vegetables, parsnips mostly. We found through Mother Earth News, a good way to keep the parsnips from going to waste (there were too many to refrigerate, and heaven knows you can only eat so many parsnip chips). We built a makeshift root cellar in the garden. Seeing as how we had already put the overstock of beets in a 55-gallon trashcan of sand to help them keep through the winter we didn’t need a very large root cellar to keep the remaining parsnips that we had harvested. The process was simple. Dig a trench, fill the trench with straw, add the roots (parsnips), and cover with more straw and some dirt. We added a couple of heavy boards over the top to protect from animals getting in. I suppose it is only proper to have a burial service at the end of the garden season. We are sad and slightly relieved to see the season go. We are still holding on to our kale supply and window herbs, but the bulk of the garden has gone into hibernation.

GARDEN ROOT CELLAR / BURIAL SITE

image

SNIPS

OLLIE / CHICKEN DREAMS

image

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and there is so much to be grateful for. Clean water, a healthy body, access to food, true love, my child, kind friends, loving family, a beating heart and a searching mind, clothing, a shelter to sleep, eat, dance, and live in, animals to provide company and nourishment, a dream to follow and a dream to look for. All of this. It’s here, now, before our own hibernation sets in. I try but can’t always be reminded of these things. The blessed lives that we lead. The company we have/keep. The love that is shown to us. MAGNIFY it all, amigos.

GIVE thanks.

GIVE love.

joshua