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archive for June 2011

focus on joy

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Back in the day, if you had asked me to identify a moment of joy in my life, it would have been relatively easy to put a finger on specific events. Today I find that task difficult. It isn’t for a lack of joy in my life. Every day that I wake up to a wet nose in my face is joy. Every smile I share with Jeremy is joy. I savor those things I probably took for granted before my cancer diagnosis. It’s one thing to be presented with your own mortality at a relatively young age (is 36 young?), but another thing entirely to be denied the basic pleasures of going for a walk, dining out, being able to taste food, being able to eat food without pain, having feeling in your hands and feet, having hair… feeling normal.

You could say that perspective is at the root of my joy. I tend to not let little things get me down anymore. They aren’t worth the energy. And sometimes the little things are what fill me with wonder – and joy. Biting into a juicy, sweet strawberry. Waking up before sunrise. Noticing when the local wildflowers start blooming. Hugging a friend hello. Watching the snow fall. Pulling a quilt up around my chin. Exchanging smiles with a passing stranger.

My life is full of joy because I’m so damn happy to be here, to be alive. As a photographer, I try to capture those moments of joy. Here are just a few:

taking the pup for a hike on a snowy christmas eve

sunrise on a high sierra backpack a month after my radiation treatments ended

on the summit of my first fourteener since chemotherapy

the milky way from our deck

sandhill cranes at sunset as a storm clears

winter solstice lunar eclipse

backcountry skiing with my sweetheart on the first day of summer

What is a moment of joy in your life? Share your story and upload a photo (optional). In return Shutterfly will gift you $5 off your next photo book to commemorate lifeโ€™s joyous moments, and you”ll be entered for a chance to win a $200 Shutterfly Gift card.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shutterfly. The opinions and text are all mine. Offer valid for $5 off one photo book order and valid for one-time redemption per member. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply. BlogFrog hosted gift card contest live from June 17th to July 14th. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced on July 18th. All participants remain the copyright holder of their photos.

seasonal shifts

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Recipe: chinese dry-cooked string beans

It’s the last day of spring and there is a winter weather advisory issued for our mountains until 6:00 this evening.

I am not complaining.

3-8 inches of fresh snow in addition to the 30+ feet in the backcountry is our reprieve for the zero (0, nada, nil) days of skiing we managed in March when so much glorious powder fell at the big ski resorts. We were busy, we were traveling, I got sick… We’re still busy, but we’re not traveling (at least not in June) and thankfully, we aren’t sick!

yes, still skiing

the lower alpine lakes are thawing

Yesterday was Father’s Day. On Mother’s Day you expect every brunch joint to be packed out the door. On Father’s Day, we brace ourselves for the onslaught of families who want to take Dad to the mountains for a hike or to burn things (I really do not understand the obsession of people from the flats who come up to our mountains to burn stuff). But this year, the campgrounds remain under snow in late June. The trails are under snow. Even the parking lots have a few feet of snow lingering about where cars would normally be. I like it like that, for obvious reasons…

putting the skins away after the climb up

the anticipation of skiing out makes my mouth water

wooo! jeremy gets his turns in (in june!)

Also, this is my 1001st post. 1000 is a nice round number, but it was a special post for my dad, so I didn’t want to detract from it. 1001 is a palindrome, which I love more than round numbers – so there. The only significance of my 1001st post is that I clearly never shut up.

String beans (green beans) are in the markets and they’re looking pretty good. I’ve been wanting to make Chinese dry-cooked string beans for a while, but it always goes to the bottom of the list because Jeremy has a slight allergy to string beans. They make his throat itchy. That’s a real shame because my mom cooks them up better than any one or any restaurant I know of. Oh well… more for me.

string beans

trimming the ends

I suppose the name “dry-cooked” refers to the fact that there isn’t much liquid used in the recipe. I found that a little confusing considering that the beans are essentially fried in oil – a lot of oil. But you don’t consume all of that oil, thank goodness. Aside from the beans, the other main ingredients are ground pork (this is optional), dried shrimp, and Sichuan preserved mustard green tsa tsai. The dried shrimp and preserved mustard greens you’ll most likely have to get at an Asian grocery store.

dried shrimp and sichuan preserved vegetable

cut the beans into 3-inch pieces (i just cut them in half)

**Jump for more butter**

my dad

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Kris and I were not what my dad wanted. He wanted boys… sons. But he made do with the two of us – giggling goofballs in pigtails who probably got away with far more than sons ever would have. My father came to the US in his early twenties and over the nearly forty years that I’ve known him, has embraced Western culture more than most Asian dads I know. Because of that, Kris and I danced between obeying the strict Chinese father and palling around with our Dad – our friend. I got yelled at to improve my SAT scores as often as I was woken up at 2 in the morning to go night fishing for striped bass.

sailing with kris and dad

dad, me, and mom in rocky mountain national park

I typically describe my father as a big kid with a credit card and driver’s license to my friends. And my friends love him. Every one of them. My dad is a charmer. I’ve learned over the years that I view my parents with a far more critical eye than my friends do. It’s okay. My parents do the same to me. But that comes with the territory. That comes with being (Chinese) family.

reading to my nephew

humoring my niece

**Jump for more butter**