27 November 2010
26 November 2010
My favorite day of the year has come and gone.
21 October 2010
25 September 2010
I've been a little (read: a lot) crazy in the past six months. Today feels like a coming together--all the kids are settled in school, the house is clean, the laundry caught up, and I'm rested and practiced yoga five times this week, which keeps me so much calmer than I've ever been in my whole life. In addition to calming me down, yoga is keeping my body free of pain--I can't believe how many years I went waking up every morning with sore hips, back and/or shoulders.
02 July 2010
30 June 2010
How have I not known about this blog and it's recipe for bacon ice cream?
17 June 2010
Last year there was no oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, though our waters were in danger already.
30 May 2010
“Hope and future are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps.” Henry David Thoreau was very much endeared to a specific kind of beauty—he learned from the East Coast, from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s lush property and from Walden Pond. This quote connects deeply to Walden School Philosophy because at Walden we learn truth from the world around us as well as in books and in the classroom. While Thoreau spent time discovering himself by the famous Walden Pond, Waldenites gain experience from the amazing, rare, and unique ecotope that we’ve created at the school.
Thoreau is often criticized because he would make bold claims about escaping humanity and embarking on his own, only to take in numerous visitors at his cabin, send his laundry back to his mother, and head to town to spend an evening in the tavern. We named our school after Thoreau’s book in hopes that we could, like Henry David, learn by creating makeshift shelters, foraging for food, and gazing at moose. Anybody associated with Walden can tell you the extent to which we have taken Thoreau’s words to heart—in the spirit of emulating his idealized “impervious and quaking swamp,” we have acquired reptiles, more than a little mud, and sometimes even a pair of waders worn as a fashion statement. Our ecosystem also contains a few decrepit couches, large piles of pseudo-wearable detritus, and many moldy Tupperware containers.
We operate as something of an ecosystem—after witnessing nature on our many Walkabouts and Moab expeditions, we seem to have done a great job of emulating the organic, symbiotic communities that are present in the mountains and deserts of Utah. Many say that 80% of Walden’s biomass consists of one species—a certain barefooted, heavily empowered herbivore with certain political views and a fondness for outlandish clothing. Though many students fit this description, I think it’s safe to say that many also defy the stereotype. One such mammal is a friend of mine who has very different political views from me. One issue he is very passionate about is gun control and second amendment rights. About three times a week, we have a conversation that sounds like this:
“Oh hi, Ingrid! Listen. You know I totally respect your beliefs, but let me tell you about this article I was reading that supports my argument!”
Then approximately forty-five minutes of lively debate ensue, during which we both learn about the issue and practice what we just learned in class about the rhetorical triangle. The discussion inevitably ends with, “Well Ingrid, I may not share your views, but I just love ya to death. Thanks for talkin’ to me.” And I say, “Well, the feeling is mutual. At least we can agree on that!”—regardless of who fits the Waldenite stereotype, I think the most important thing we have in common is respect and love for each other… at least, while we’re not in the middle of a heated political argument. This little-know biodiversity translates into an amazing education when it is placed on fertile soil.
Anybody who has experienced the stunning Fiery Furnace hike in Moab has been subjected to the Cryptobiotic Soil video—it is shown mandatorily at the visitor’s center before any hiker may embark. At Walden, this piece of cinematic genius is a classic—though the dialogue is occasionally lackluster and the aesthetics experimental, we all heed the oft-repeated warning that hikers should NOT walk off of the path for fear that the vitally important living soil that is the foundation of the arid ecosystem will be disturbed. Like Cryptobiotic soil, the Walden faculty is an often underappreciated foundation of the school’s ecosystem. Though our teachers may not contain many lichens, mosses, or cyanobacteria, they are a earthy, dedicated, and expert part of Walden and of the lives of the students. Cryptobiotic crust is known for its ability to improve stability of otherwise easily eroded soils, and similarly, I have seen many teachers help the current graduating class with college applications, coaching them through the infamously hectic and draining senior year. My math teachers along the way have had to deal with some real emotional instability on my part, for any long and seemingly incomprehensible equation can sometimes render me teary-eyed and whimpering. The crust also serves the purpose of increasing water infiltration in regions that receive little precipitation, and the teachers have been extremely gracious when it comes to making sure that students have access to and knowledge of every cultural opportunity in Utah. I will never forget afternoons spent this fall in Park City watching documentaries with Bev, or going to physics lectures in the Marriot Center (with such speakers as Neil Tyson and Brian Greene), or that amazing field trip we took during my sophomore year to see Michelle Obama speak in Salt Lake City. And, of course, the faculty is never hesitant to lead us halfway around the world if that is what it takes to quench our cultural thirst. This metaphor, however, is somewhat weak because the Walden teachers are significantly more resilient than soil—a simple footprint is enough to destroy a patch of cryptobiotic crust, whereas I’ve seen the teachers weather the literal and figurative elements many times.
Teachers, in case you are ever discouraged or have moments where you believe that your tireless work has been in vain, I would like you to know that you have made an enormous difference in my life. I came to this school feeling discouraged about and intimidated by my own education, feeling like I had no future and no talent, and I graduate today, having been treated and taught as an individual, which has given me the understanding that even frightening subjects can be my friends. You have instilled in this class an enormous and insatiable intellectual curiosity, and I cannot thank you enough for the education you’ve given me. In addition, I believe that there are students whose lives you have not only changed, but literally saved. Watching your tireless dedication to service has inspired many students to follow in your path—I cannot tell you how many of my peers have told me that they want to become teachers because of how much they respect and admire you. Your passion for your subject areas has shown us the value of pursuing our own passions. Thank you.
The Walden School was founded with Thoreau’s ideas and journeys in mind, and has evolved into a strange and lovely ecosystem. This week, Walden took a group of students to Capital Reef. Standing at the top of a cliff with my classmates and teachers, I knew exactly what Thoreau was talking about when he noted that hope and future could be found in the wild swamps rather than the manicured lawns—I saw hope and future reflected in the wild, untamed beauty of the sagebrush and the boulders, but I also witnessed it in the wild, untamed beauty of my fellow Waldenites. Ecosystems in their natural state function in a seemingly chaotic, but in fact perfectly balanced manner. As you cultivate your minds, don’t neglect your inner wilderness—our world could really use the symbiosis that the uncivilized wilderness seems to have perfected. Congratulations to the class of 2010, today is your day!
29 March 2010
I've been so disheartened lately by the hateful rhetoric and irreconcilable differences heightened by the healthcare reform process, and even uncomfortable at church thinking about how I might be worshipping next to someone who thinks I'm a communist or a baby-killer because of my political views, so when Sister B. said that, I felt the balm of creamed soup come over my soul. After all, no matter what our political views, when asked to bring potatoes to a funeral, we all combine two cans of cream of chicken soup, one pint of sour cream, 1/2 bunch of scallions, and 2 c. of cheddar cheese with a bag of frozen shredded potatoes and bake at 350 in a 9x13 dish. At least that's what I've been doing since I moved to Utah seven years ago. (Although some of us choose to top with crushed cornflakes or potato chips and some of us don't). For a moment I melted, became molten inside, as Scarlett Lindeman described funeral potatoes in this beautifully written article.
This can't be a bad thing, to come together in this way, even with processed, industrial food, to support each other in our trials. And though I've had my moments of alienation in the past twenty-plus years as a sister, this communal spirit keeps me in the fold year in and year out.
p.s.--photo of molten funeral potatoes stolen from this website.
p.p.s.--are funeral potatoes served in any other churches, for instance, midwestern churches, where they also serve a lot of jello?
16 March 2010
07 March 2010
For the past ten years I've been moving towards doing more with writing and cooking. I have several projects going now, but the most tangible and imminent work comes from my teaching job. I'm working on a really good curriculum that integrates language and culinary arts, and finally, after three years, feel I'm on the right track. This project is far from done, but if you're interested in seeing what my young students are learning and writing about in my "Locavore Eating and Foraging" class, beginning March 22nd or in my "Cooking Around the World" class, an intensive cooking class learning from a variety of cuisines, check out our new blog. The blog is in beginning phases, but will hopefully grow quickly, and will chronicle the growth of this curriculum. I'm posting some writing from last semester, which wasn't a cooking class, but we did have several food experiences to draw from in our writing assignments, including two outings to the Amano Chocolate Factory and a cheese tasting day.
28 February 2010
Every day I have between 4 and 6 hours of good energy--enough to do some dishes, fold some laundry, teach some classes, and then collapse on the couch. A few hours later, I can sometimes muster 2 to 3 hours more of low energy to help kids with homework, make a simple dinner, read stories, and put kids to bed. Sometimes, thanks to a laptop I can use in bed or on the couch, I write some things and send them to publishers. Sometimes, if I budget well, I can go to a party or take a child shopping for a birthday present. The bard says how I too often feel here, as if he had already read the Elizabethan DSM-IV:
That never wrote to me,--
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!
A perfect circle falls Onto white imperfections. (Consider the black road, How it seems white the entire Length of a sunshine day.) Or I could say Shadows and mirage Compensate the world, Completing its changes With no change.
I'm not needed
Like wings in a storm,
And God is the storm.
But I need you.
I love you better and better, live in you more and more.
24 February 2010
23 February 2010
A new poem in Free Verse. Don't be too grossed out. I sometimes write poems about pretty things, though I happen to think that veins and needles and organs are really beautiful. After finishing two books about trees and flowers, I just completed a little chapbook about surgery, diagnosis, doctors, patients and the weirdness of healing/treating/ministering.
10 February 2010
28 January 2010
The Locust Salon Vegetable Melange Chilli
adapted from/inspired by The Silver Palate New Basics Cookbook’s Vegetarian Chilli recipe
serves at least 20 people (we serve it over rice)
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 head garlic, peeled and minced
1 large bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
2 T. dried oregano
½ c. fresh basil
¼ c. cocoa powder
1-2 T. chilli powder
1 T. cumin
1 T. fennel seeds
3 squirts (or less) or sriracha (if you don’t want it spicy, leave it out—go slow and add one squirt at a time so as not crank the heat up too high for your taste)
8 oz. brown or white mushrooms, cut in half
2 sweet red peppers, cut into uniformly sized chunks
3 zucchini, cut into 3-inch chunks
3 white, yellow or red potatoes in 3-inch chunks (skins on)
1 eggplant, in 3-inch chunks
1 c. sweet frozen corn
2 16 oz. cans each of black beans, garbanzo beans, and red beans, drained and rinsed
2 32 oz. cans of whole tomatoes with juice
2 c. water
½ c. polenta
fresh lemon to taste
salt to taste
1) Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium low until translucent. Turn up the heat a bit and add parsley, basil and dried herbs and spices, then cocoa powder. When everything has roasted a bit, add vegetables one type at a time and soften them slightly.
2) Add tomatoes and water, then beans.
3) Simmer for about 20 minutes until vegetables are barely tender, and then add corn and polenta.
4) Simmer for about 15 minutes more, until polenta and vegetables are at desired tenderness.
5) Add salt, sriracha (if desired) and a few squirts of lemon until the chilli meets your desired level of spiciness, savory-ness, and brightness.