Tuesday, August 3

Your name in print

I want to start doing some more writing for writing's sake over here on Spellbound Jungle Blog 1.0. So, here goes.

Sometime this summer Truman pulled out all my old high school and college newspapers from their accordion folder tomes and started scattering pieces around the basement. I stopped him, laughed at some of the inserts, then put them back away.

I thought about why I was keeping these relics that are quickly gaining this old newspaper smell. Not the good kind that comes after 20 years of yellowing and dog eared pages, but a the smell of trapped ink that hasn't off-gassed.

It's because I remember how much they meant to me once. And I remember that thrill of seeing my name in print for the first time on a story about the La Jolla High School band that trying entirely too hard to make the band sound cooler than it was because I wanted a story that sounded good.

I was doing more with words than with story, then.

In college the paper was a labor of love. I remember once sitting next to a student who was reading my work. I felt like a time traveler stumbling upon herself in danger of creating a paradox that would rip a whole in the very fabric of space and time — because, for me at least, the time period in which I wrote something, and everything that went into that, is part of the final product.

When I read the words I remember it all.

The reader, though, just sees the text before him.

Feeling dangerous and sneaky, I asked the guy what he was reading about and if he liked it. He was reading my article and he did.

Elation. I don't write to be liked, necessarily, but I do write to be read. Knowing someone was reading what I was writing gave so much more meaning to the process.

That same year I got my first check for writing from a little alternative weekly in San Diego I freelanced for. My name in that print — that check ink — was amazing to see. I felt legitimate, that this wasn't just a hobby, but something I could do for a living.

I still a photocopy of that check scanned into my computer. I've held onto it because it reminds me of how proud I felt to be making even a tiny sum off of the written word.

Last year there was get-together for USD Alumni in Minneapolis and I talked to someone who was at the school around the same time I was. I asked about the paper before revealing who I was and he said he remembered it turning around when I was editor-in-chief.

Writing is often a thankless job. It's rare to get comments and when you do they are often angry, especially when it comes to newspapers. Hearing that the work I did — the late nights and general hard-ass stance I had to take — actually made a difference in someone else's mind was like getting that first pay check all over again.

Now I write online for myself, for my photography business, for my son and freelancing for MPR. Somehow in some weird way online publishing isn't as exciting as print.

Maybe it's because I don't expect to stumble upon someone in the real world reading a blog. But with smart phones and e-readers all around, I probably should.

There are many elements I love about writing on the web, but that doesn't make me miss seeing my name in print any less.

Monday, June 21

2010 Walsh Family Road Trip Day1: To Fargo we go!

Preface: Each year Joe embarks upon a wondrous journey helping coach the Milaca Speech team and judging at Speech meets while I embark on an equally wondrous but more whine-filled journey of having no Saturdays as a family from Jan. through March. As a result the money earned from judging is mine to spend.

Last year we bought a bike trailer for Truman to ride in (remember everyone tripped on it at the State Fair?). This year I dreamed bigger.

This year we headed on a 10 day road trip to Yellowstone National Park. This the true story of the 2010 Walsh Family Road Trip to Yellowstone.

You will also find tons of pictures here, but the really stunning pictures worth mulling over in photoshop will be posted on www.spellboundjungle.com, and a few stories related to our potty training adventures while camping will be posted over on www.spellboundbaby.blogspot.com.

June 3rd: After Joe got off work he came home and we finished up packing. I had almost everything packed already, but you know how it goes prepping a house to leave for over a week — turning everything off, asking my neighbors to water my garden, double checking that things were unplugged/off, running back in the house 5 times to grab various items.

Then we hit the road.

We picked up sandwiches (and cookies) in St. Cloud then made our way to 94. Then we ate said sandwiches and had a cookie party. I had a total mom-win the day before when I realized his highchair tray could be used as a car seat tray.

We stopped at this rest stop with newspaper boxes for such periodicals as "Country Singles," "18-wheel Singles," and "Diabetes Cure 101.com."

Truman spent some time ever-so-carefully crossing the 3-inch divide between two benches and then leaping off the end to land 2 ft. below. I didn't bring my camera out at the time, so later I channeled Demetri Martin and drew a diagram:

Then we got to James' and Nikki's house in Fargo, ND and spent a lovely night sleeping in their guest bed (Thanks again J&N for having us!).

As Truman fell asleep he hugged Joe tight, telling him over and over again "I love you."

I had been telling him for weeks that daddy would be with us every day for 10 days on our vacation and I think he was really looking forward to it.

Friday, February 12

Happy Valentine's Day!

We're having a family get together over the weekend to celebrate a multitude of things, so I'm posting my little Cupid today. Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 11

Cooking with Brooke: Icelandic Fish Soup

A few years ago when my little peanut was literally the size of a peanut (sans shell) Joe and I traveled to Iceland for our delayed honeymoon where we encountered the worst food we've ever tasted.

Why, then, you ask, am I creating a recipe to duplicate something from the land of fire and ice?

I'm so glad you asked. You see hidden in a tiny gift shop along the shore of the glacial lagoon, Jokulsarlon was the best soup I have ever eaten. This brothy, hearty fish-based soup that I have found myself dreaming about since.

I had done a cursory google search to see if the recipe was available a few months ago and found nothing. But yesterday I took charge and realized I never tried searching for "Icelandic Fish Soup," which was gross oversight.

I found a few recipes, melded them with my own ideas and tada:

Icelandic Fish Soup

Though I had long dreamed of this soup, I have to say I was afraid that I only remembered it being delicious because I was so starving that in comparison to all the other food the island offered it was astounding, but when pared with my kitchen of endless possibilities it would fall flat. It did not. This soup is amazing.

Obviously, you could use any vegetables you like, I am writing it with what I used.

Makes a large pot of soup
Takes approximately 1 hour

5 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
2 large carrots
4 medium yellow potatoes
2 golden beets
1 head of broccoli
Handful of green beans
1 jalapeno
1 chipotle pepper or ancho chilli
3 bayleaves
1T. fennel seed or fresh fennel
1 1/2 T. tumeric
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. chilipowder
2 pinches ground cloves
salt & pepper as desired
12 oz. crushed or strained tomato
32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
12 oz fish (I used white fish in the form of Mahi Mahi, you could use any fish but white fish will be the least "fishy")
Handful of shrimp

Chop vegetables and onion. Saute onion in olive oil and butter (or butter substitute) on medium heat while you chop the garlic. Add garlic and spices and saute for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Remove bay leaves and use an immersion blender to smooth onion. Feel free to skip this step if you like onions. But if you don't (or are married to someone who doesn't like me) this is a great way to add onion flavor without the textural mishap.

Add veggies and cook for a few minutes, then add tomato* and broth and 1 1/2 cups of water. Boil for 30-40 minutes. While it is boiling, cut the fish into small pieces and prepare the shrimp. Right before you are ready to serve it, throw in the fish and shrimp and continue on a low boil for 3-5 minutes. I used still frozen fish, but it may take less cooking with fresh fish.

Turn the heat down to low and serve when ready.

Joe said a nice crusty piece of bread would have made a good accompaniment, but I think the soup was hearty enough on its own.

*A note about canned tomatoes: Most people have caught on that BPA, which is used when making plastics can act as a hormone disruptor in humans. It's why we don't drink from polycarbonate plastic water bottles anymore, right? Well, unfortunately we actually get most BPA in our system from canned foods and (this is really scary) carbon copy receipts. The more acidic the canned food, the more likely the can is lined with BPA.

The solution? Buy tomatoes from a glass jar. I finally found some made my bionaturae.

Friday, December 25

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! I hope everyone is surrounded by love, family and warmth as you celebrate. We're snuggled up in our house with family watching feet of snow pile up (well, Joe has been shoveling a great deal of it, too).

Here are a few pictures from last night's celebration.
We hosted family and then headed to "midnight" mass at 9:30, where Joe cantored and Truman slept in his stroller/my lap.

I have to thank my family for letting me get in some off-camera flash practice. I set my Vivitar up on lightstand pointed at my white ceiling triggered via pocket wizard and wandered.

Joe's stunt double — err, brother — James playing Wii with his own doppleganger-nephew Josh:

And the gift-giving:

These slippers Kellie gave Truman are made with recycled sweaters, how cool (and they fit his giant feet):

I did a big knitted Christmas this year, making everyone I thought would enjoy a knitted goody a hat or scarf:

(p.s.: For those wondering, no, my son is not wearing pants. But when not wearing pants he is potty trained. We accept the trade off. Can you guess what my project in the new year will be? We'll just call it Project Pants.)

Friday, December 4

Caillou's bald head

This post could also easily be entitled "Things that bug parents in the wee hours of the morning when they are trying to get their kid back to sleep and are so tired they turn on the TV to try to occupy their night owl toddler," but I thought that was a little long for rss feeds.

Caillou is the little bald boy star of a PBS children's cartoon about the daily trials and tribulations, not to mention learning experiences, of a toddler. It's a pretty good show other than the fact that the boys baldness is never explained.

For the longest time I just assumed he had Alopecia or a similar disease that rendered him hairless and maybe it was a learning opportunity for kids. So I've been waiting for the Alopecia episode.


Tonight, sick of waiting I finally came across the answer: there is NO REASON he is bald. He just is. And apparently the producer's focus group said it didn't matter.

That's because their focus group was made of kids. It's the parents they are driving mad.

Now, this shouldn't be a big deal, as this blogger points out: Caillou means "bald head," and there are lots of reasons he could have lost his hair, such as giving himself a haircut. Sure, I buy that.

But then someone please tell me why they had to give his sister, mother and father ridiculous, obnoxiously luscious heads of hair? If it weren't for the stark contrast my Caillou quandary would have been dropped long ago.

Just look at his father:

Even his little sister has gobs of hair:

And why doesn't his hair ever grow back?

Caillou's world just doesn't seem fair. If he has to miss out on that hair he should at least be given the decency of a reason for his baldness.

Coincidentally, I think all the parents subject to his whiny voice deserve the same.

Wednesday, December 2

Fedie Family Fun

Say that five times fast!

Seriously though, the Fedies are my neighbors and good friends whom I was honored to photograph a few weeks ago. It's always fun to do family shoots with toddlers because they are busy, busy, busy.

On another note, thank you for those who've been checking the blog through my little blog sabbatical. I'm hoping to hop back in now, so stay tuned.

Friday, October 9

TC Birth & Baby Expo Tomorrow!

I'll have a booth at the Twin Cities Birth and Baby expo in Minneapolis tomorrow. The event will be held at Midtown Global Market (920 E. Lake Street) from 10-5 on Oct. 10.

If you make it to the expo, be sure to stop by to say hello!

More information about the event can be found on their website.

Sunday, October 4

By the Light of the Moon

Joe went outside to get something from his car when he spotted this moon configuration hanging eerily surrounded by clouds.

Out in the chilly fall night photographing our quiet suburb I was thinking about the moon and my father, who died a little over a week ago. For a long time I have felt a closeness to my father while on nature-photo expeditions because he was the person who first inspired me to fall in love with the night's sky, lugging out his telescope and pointing out the constellations, Mars, Saturn and comets when they were near.

When we camped my dad would set up cots and we'd sit gazing up past tree tops at the magnificent show in the sky. A few days ago I found a sheet of paper on the ground on my landing. It containing an old memory I had written down while I was in college those nights camping. It reminded me that I often stayed gazing long after others had moved closer to the fire to talk or roast marshmallows. While my dad got me interested in the stars, I new my desire to observe quietly surpassed his. And so it is in nature that I recollect the ways in which he and I were the same and different.

And I carry him with me, as I always have, in moments like this. And although the memory of his death is new, I don't see these moments as sad. There is peace in having that kind of connection with a person that exists outside of physical existence. I am lucky to have had that relationship with him.

I am sure I will write more about him as I remember things. His memorial service will be held at his California ranch on Oct. 24.