March 29, 2010

surprised by pain

Every time I think I've got a handle on it, something will happen, and all the pain of losing my family will rush back over me and take my breath away. I wonder what my sister is fixing for dinner and whether my brother likes a girl. I wonder if they feel the weight of lost years like I do. I wonder if they stop and stare numbly at pictures on a facebook profile wondering what happened to kids who used to read books together and chase each other around the yard. I wish becoming me didn't mean losing you.

March 23, 2010

pretty glacier, pretty valley

I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that some of our nations most magnificent scenery is the result of some vast, glorious glacier melting away and leaving behind such splendid rock work as can be seen 24/7/365 at Yosemite National Park. I would therefore submit that glacier melt is not inherently bad. Whether or not it's bad right this moment is for wiser souls to determine.

March 21, 2010

a rant in miniature

Not voting or voting for a third party does not mean that you sold out, don't care, are a blinking ideologue, or otherwise don't deserve to be recognized as a part of the political power structure. For a lot of America not voting means expressing a no confidence vote in the candidates and the political structure. This isn't apathy. It's reality. Until the right-wing Christians realize that the Republican Party is bleeding them for their shiny happy family values and their shiny American dollars without wanting any actually part of the Sovereign Christ who established our moral foundation we're going to be in trouble. Until the bright-eyed left wing Christians realize that Democrats just want to pluck their tender heart strings and weave a soothing song of compassion into wide scale theft we're going to be in trouble. Instead of waving slogans and banners around a Washington alive to the lust of power and dead the ways of God I vote we give them a finger waggling, thumbs in the ears, "neener-neener" salute and go back to trying to be good Christians. I'd say this nation has had too much political wrangling and not enough disciplining. Votes haven't changed very much of anything for the better in my short lifetime. I think we'd all be better off doing more praying. I'm better at blogging than praying, but I'm going to give it a shot. Good night this nation is insane! The loonies are running the nuthouse, and I think somewhere along the way we gave them the keys.

March 20, 2010

both feet and a dehydrator

I think Allen's right about me tending to jump into things with both feet. Now that I've been trying to plan backpacking meals (I didn't realize that we've got at least 15 trail days planned for this summer -love it!) I'm realizing just how much I tend to dive into things. I mean, who wants to eat freeze dried Mountain House breakfasts when you could eating hot buckwheat cereal full of dried fruit, nuts, and spices? Ok, I can dehydrate cooked grains in my oven super easy. What about dinner though? Freeze dried is expensive, foil pouch chicken is boring (and tinned meat is just suspicious to me), and all the cheap dehydrated veggie mixes contain things we don't like -namely green peas. I can't have Allen getting sick 15-20 miles from a trail head. Turns out I have a friend who can loan me her dehydrator, so now I'm looking at prepping a whole season's worth of dried veggies and sauces =D which I suppose will also double as our emergency food supply should Loma Prieta strike again. Of course in a situation where things fall down I'm not sure where to actually store this supply...It's not like I can put it a shed in the middle of the yard in case the house is structurally unstable. Maybe we just keep praying that we don't have another Loma Prieta down here. Anyway, I'm excited because this will mean I can have backpacking meals for virtually the same cost as eating at home and with about the same nutritional value. However that does mean prepping something over 22 quarts of veggies for dehydrating. This doesn't count ground meats or rice/pasta. Oh boy. Is it too late to just buy them? :D The good news is that once on the trail meals should mostly be confined to pouring the contents of a bag into a pot and boiling up with some water and a little oil to replace the fats you have to take out to dehydrate your meat.

March 18, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup with Wild Rice and Curry

I've had this huge (we're talking gigantic) butternut squash sitting around my kitchen for the past month or so. I bought it at the end of a soup for lunch kick and just never got around to cooking it. But since my theme for this week was using up the various vegetables I had lying around I decide to crack it open and try making some soup. I spent an hour peeling, slicing, and removing seeds. (Next time we're roasting it.) My knife needs sharpening, and my wrist got pretty sore by the time I'd finished.

Well I tossed that mountain of squash in my dutch oven along with a container of browned ground turkey from the freezer and a couple cups of chicken stock (also from the freezer). I added some water and went to check my e-mail. Once the squash was soft I mashed it up quickly with my little potato masher and tossed in a couple cups of chopped celery, three carrots halved and sliced, a diced onion, one cup brown rice, and half a cup wild rice. For seasoning I added salt, pepper, a tsp of coriander, 1/2 tsp cardamon, 1T curry powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. It turned out quite well -rather savory with balance of sweet and spicy flavors and easy to adjust once dished out by sprinkling on more red pepper or curry powder. It's very colorful as well. You should give me a try and let me know how it comes out. I love soup variations.

March 9, 2010

and she said Allen wouldn't camp

So many times I don't understand the world in which I live. For instance, I remember my mom getting very upset that I was contemplating marriage to a man who didn't camp. She was upset that I could see giving up something that I'd enjoyed for so long. Then she turned on me and accused me of never really enjoying it, of lying and pretending to enjoy something that had been part of our family culture and figured so largely in some of my most precious family memories. In the end I think she was accusing me of not being a member of the family. Now that I'm in the middle of planning trips and looking up backpacking meal ideas I recall how upset she was that night in the car where we sat talking while waiting for the younger kids to come out of church. She never came back and said she was mistaken about Allen. She condemned him for not being a certain kind of man, but when he surpassed everyone's expectations by sleeping on the ground and strapping on snowshoes she never apologized. She never said that perhaps she was mistaken about this aspect of his character or interests or his capacity to willingly do a thing because he loves me. That didn't change her. I wonder. What was that argument really about. When I was trying to defend my interest in man who'd said he'd like to go see Colorado National Monument with me, what was that really about? I don't think it was about camping. I don't know if was even really about me. It was probably about her, but I really don't even think that matters much. Listening to that argument one would think she feared breaking the family culture -that I would go off and be a person whom I had not been before and live a life different from hers. When Allen and I married we taught each other new interests. We carry on the cultures of both families and don't belong wholly to either. I wish that could be enough. Why it isn't I don't know.

March 4, 2010

remembering Yosemite

Amid all the hustling with maps and guidebooks, trying to figure out vacation time in the most efficient way possible, I feel like I've lost something. Thinking back to the first time Allen and I visited Yosemite I recall how Allen and I didn't have everything figured out. We took a few wrong turns (bad signage in part) and got the campground so late that wouldn't even let us come in and set up. We ended up sleeping in the car with our necks cricked awkwardly and fleece blankets tucked in the windows in an attempt to block the blaring light of the parking lot. As one might guess we arose early with the energy of sore limbs prodding us to be anywhere but there. Pulling out of our would be campground we rolled east through early morning mists that banded about the stands of pine trees on either side, eager to forget our aching necks in the wonder of this fabled valley. As we drove through the mountains we joined up with the Merced river flowing out from Yosemite's moist valleys. The road swept us up into a cleft in the mountain range as we followed the river ever inward. Finally, the mountains opened, and the whole force of the Yosemite Valley broke upon us. With the sun still drifting gently upwards from the rim of the valley, I recall how everything seemed shrouded in golden wraps -El Capitan and Half Dome thrusting their heads through misty draperies that pooled on the valley floor. Against the other wall the silken scarf of Bridalveil Falls waved and danced in greeting. It seemed a lost corner of Eden sent to refresh the souls of men. That is how I first saw Yosemite.

Remembering my first awestruck enjoyment of the peaks and valleys now become so much more family I wonder if perhaps I lose something with my everlasting counting of miles and researching of trailheads. I will never see all there is to see, and there are little to no bad directions. Should I perhaps, in trips planning as well as life, learn to let things go a little? I will never see all there is to behold, and the work I can find for my hands will never be done. Sometimes I think the hardest part of being human is learning to be incomplete and unfinished. Even the majestic Yosemite is thing always changing and never complete. And God has had many more lifetimes to mold that granite than to shape my stubborn heart.

March 3, 2010

the snooty foodie test

Do you know the taco bell song? If yes, you're definitely not a snooty foodie. If no, ask yourself if you know the greasy pizza song. If still no, you just might be a foodie. If so get thee to the best greasy pizza joint in town and order it with extra sausage.


Now I'm hungry.

P.S. I'm posting this because sometimes I think I'm a snooty foodie myself, and it's such a relief to know I'm not always a snooty foodie. Even when I'm buying organic white sugar.*

*I don't really do that.

Cousins! Yosemite! Backpacking!

Yes, I'm in that sort of mood :D On a whim I reserved an extra spot when I made our trail head reservation out of Tuolumne Meadows because a friend of ours had mentioned coming out over the summer. Well, he can't make it, but I think Allen's cousin can. I am super excited. This guy is a lot of fun. Don't let the puppy dog exterior fool you -this kid is a fiddle playing, ballroom dancing, sword fighting, eagle scout. That's got to be some girl's dream of romance right there ;) He hasn't said for sure he can come out, but I'm really hoping he does so I can learn some of his super-awesome eagle scout tricks :D

Hmmm, that makes most of Allen's family that we'll have persuaded to come adventuring in California with us this summer since Mamaw is coming out in June to see her mountains. This is going to be the best summer ever!

in retrospect

The ladies over on Femina posted saying they were going to have a blog party and invited everyone to post links to their blogs so folks could roam around visiting. Got me to thinking about some of my older posts. Consider this a warning or maybe a plea for clemency. I've mellowed out some on the last couple years. Some things matter more. Some things matter less. Either way I'm less strident. I don't have to defend myself so much. So if you're reading back through the archives just remember -older is wiser :D