17 June 2008

Getting over the Great Wall

Somewhere back in my childhood I was imprinted with the quality of light at dusk driving on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). I can't recall if it is a true memory or an image and feeling I have created when the need of filling the empty space with tangible goods arises. Sometimes when I'm back in Utah and the sun is going down and the reflections and glow in the evensong is just right Darren will say, "What does this remind you of?" I answer, "Driving down the PCH just after the sun sets". Last night I walked along the PCH at this magical hour and down to the beach cottages at Crystal Cove. I sat at the picnic tables and listened to the ocean. My mind keeps wandering to an unanswerable question -- what is my family without my mother? That seems to be the barrier, the wall I can't quite conquer at the moment.

Friends keep providing ladders and boosts along the way. My very, very best Montana friend has kept me right side up countless times along the journey. We were born on the same day, she in New York City and I in Los Angeles, and we met somewhere near the middle in the wide open west. My friend Leslie in Idaho always knows what words to write to soothe me... our common ground is Terry Tempest Williams and a fierce feminism and relentlessly questioning minds. There are my high school buddies that are always there - together we could probably top anyone's checklist of traumatic events that have shaped our lives. There are too many to name in an open forum such as this, our connections and personal experiences too deep to share on a website that contains blogspot in its url.

I just thought I'd post pictures I'd just received from Jenny, my cheeky BYU gymnastics teammate and roommate who when we get together (every 10 years or so) it is incredibly easy and seems as if we have seen each other every day since our laughs and cries in college. I first met Jenny in Australia on a gymnastics tour. She then was recruited to BYU and I have always thought she was wonderful... a bit of down under attitude comes with her. Her family just traveled to China and Thailand, she's cool like that - always up for an adventure, and will be coming to see us again at Christmas time. Hmmmm, friends are the PCH at dusk.

Jenny, Angus, Amy and Ella on the Great Wall

Jenny on the beach in Thailand

09 June 2008

Asparagus Chicken

Sunday was the beginning of our crazy summer. Land will be skateboarding for 1 month... two weeks in SoCal (the Skaterbuilt Bro-Jam) 1 week in Tehachapi (Woodward West Skatecamp) and 1 week in Whistler, BC (Great Northwest Gromfest). I'll be going to Newport Beach with my dad and then on to stay with my sister for 2 weeks. Chase will be at Ash Meadows in Nevada again doing rare plant surveys and mapping and Darren will be working hard to fund all of our travels. We will all be together in Whistler, but until then it is separation time for the Olsens. I made Chase's favorite meal - Asparagus Chicken - it was nice sitting together and talking about our plans for the future. Good Food, Good Family, Good Times.

Warm Asparagus Chicken
12 baby red potatoes, cut in half
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 white wine 
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 cups mixed greens

Lemon Dill Vinaigrette
1 large shallot
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill weed (I use dried sometimes)
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Steam the potatoes by putting them in a large pot filed with about 2" of boiling water. Cover the pot and steam until tender, approx. 30 minutes. Drain and transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.

Put the chicken into a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and add the wine (or broth or water) basil, and parsley. Bake for 30 min. Slice the chicken diagonally.

Meanwhile, cut 2 inches off the bottom of each asparagus stalk and blanch stalks in a pot of boiling water, just until they are tender, about 2 min. Lay the asparagus on a platter and let them cool. Cut stalks lengthwise down the center. (I only do this if the stalks are chunky)

Whisk together thoroughly all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. I usually double the dressing because the boys would drink it if they could.

Pour half the dressing on the potatoes and let them soak it up. Add the chicken and asparagus and pour more dressing on and toss gently. 

You can serve this over mixed greens (which I like) or just out of the bowl (which the boys like) Add dressing to taste and tasty it is.

06 June 2008

Everyday bla bla Blog

I like the colors and the pictures and the word (re) cycle in this photo.

It has been 4 weeks since my mother died, the time Ivan Doig refers to as the time since

"... the remembering begins out of that new silence, through the time since. I reach back along my father's tellings and around the urgings which would have me face about and forget, to feel into these oldest shadows for the first sudden edge of it all."

My friend Leslie posted a poem that she wrote on her blog Journal of Omens that describes it all for me:

Epicenter of Desire

She never said how God fell out
but she bore his impression
like a mattress seldom turned
testifies to the lover’s absence.
She tried diversion, eastern philosophy
and the state of being fully present
as the ultimate gesture of affection.

Of course, it was affection few could return
so her advice was to, with every breath
exhale thank you, and let it go.

Maybe you know that hunger.
Maybe the gnawing is a molecular code
that, because of blood on the lintel
natural selection passed over. That said
just being is evidence you were chosen 
strand by strand
to occupy this moment, this space.

Michelangelo tattooed
the epicenter of desire
on the ceiling, safe
from our greasy, egg-salad fingers
God and Adam reaching for each other.
More than anything we want God
or we don’t. There is little middle ground.
When we lie on our backs and reach upward
our hands are as large as Adam’s
as electric as God’s.

At some point, maybe vacuuming
she found where she’d lost God
and reset him like a stone in her ring.
Thank you, she exhaled.

We seem to be born with negative space
into which God might fit.
Origin of Me is the great question
not the science of creation
but the creation story that works. 
God is preserved in the heavens
of the Sistine by ducting
and a conditioned atmosphere.
Are we so different
believing we are the center
of our own narratives,
that our mythologies matter more?

What I do know of God is this:
there are children
in cutoffs and tattered boat shoes
who come to the wild place
at the back of the field
and rearrange the world.

They dam and bridge the creek
to shape little oceans.
They breach the dams and howl
as floods crash through.
They braid baling twine
with whatever drifts downstream
into mats and furniture
and lash swings into trees
too tender to hold anything
but the world’s smallest creatures.
They leave a shovel and take a rake.

When I walk to that wild place
I know immediately—
a piece of lumber bridging
a new section of the creek,
a bit of twine in a tree—
that the little gods have been here.
The little gods in my life have long hair and glide through life by skateboard or are 18, on the edge of manhood and are exhibiting such responsibility it takes my breath away.

03 June 2008

The Audacity of Hope!