utah

women's march

the march last monday in salt lake city was really powerful. i took my 79-year old cousin along with me. he has spent so much of his life fighting for wildlife in this state. we wondered how many people would show. I was hoping for 7,000 people. 10,000 people turned out.

gathering at city creek park

gathering at city creek park

inside the capitol

inside the capitol

before reaching capacity (5,000) inside 

before reaching capacity (5,000) inside 

there are no #alternativefacts

there are no #alternativefacts

signs outside capitol

signs outside capitol

what a great day! so much positive energy. i hope the momentum continues. 

utah

Well Utah is a special place. Mountains are enchanting and striking. Make me feel grounded and connected to the planet. It’s fascinating to see evidence of geologic history, hundreds of millions of years. And they are still evolving!

People ask me if I miss New York. Like thousands of other single women who live in the City, I thought of New York as my boyfriend. Who needs a boyfriend when you have New York. Now New York is my ex-boyfriend, or my boyfriend at the time. An extraordinary run we had, 7 years. With any ex-boyfriend, I can reminisce fondly about the experience and acknowledge it was time to move on. I didn’t see it coming, it was like a switch flipped. I went from being a person who couldn’t imagine living anywhere but New York to become a person who was starving to live in a place where I could be connected to family and nature. While New York is a magical place, it’s magical out here, too. 

Many were surprised when I announced where I planned to move. To me, it wasn’t a far stretch. My grandfather and his sister Emily were very close. She moved out to Utah from Chicago after her husband finished law school. It was the early 1930s. He had asthma, and his doctor told him to move to Utah or Arizona. I’m so grateful they chose Salt Lake City. It is an extraordinary place. When my mother was growing up, her family would drive to Utah from Chicago (before the interstate she always points out) to visit her aunt, uncle and two cousins who were 11 and 13 years older than she.  My grandfather used to spit out the window while he drove. Once they arrived, it was always an exceptional time. As an adult she continued to make the trip out. By this time her cousins were married and starting their families. After my parents married, they continued the traditional visits. They did so the summer before I was born. As the story goes, they had such a wonderful time, they decided to name me Emily after my mom’s aunt. 

Emily and Emily

Emily and Emily

When I was in college it occurred to me that I may have been conceived in Utah. It makes a good story, anyway. 7 years after I graduated while at dinner in Chicago with my dad, my boyfriend at the time (not New York) forced my dad to confirm whether or not I was in fact conceived in Utah. I was mortified then heartbroken. It wasn’t until after I moved here, I realized I was already an embryo! That means I had all the influences swirling around when I was just beginning. My grandfather and his sister were 78 and 76 when I was born. Opa died when I was 8. We never lived in the same city, so I didn’t get to know him well, even with annual visits. Emily died when I was a senior in high school. I may have only had two visits with her, the last one a couple of years before she died. 

With one of my second cousins, I organized a reunion for our family last August. We had talked about it for a few years after connecting on Facebook.  None of us is getting any younger. My parents are in their late 60s now and my mom’s cousins are in their 80s. I hadn’t seen them in 22 years. I don’t even feel old enough for that to be a fact. We’re all grown up. All of my second cousins have families of their own. Some of their kids are in college. One of the most unique things about being here is that we range in age from 7 to 83. How wonderful. 

foraging

One of my first adventures in Salt Lake City was attending a foraging class. How fun, right? There's so much around to forage: mushrooms, berries, fruits, nuts. I'm looking forward to spring, we were shown where there are Ume trees. How wonderful it would be to make umeboshi plums. 

This oyster mushroom was foraged by my cousin. She got half of it, then when back for more. Overall, the multi-trip forage yielded about 5lbs of oyster mushroom delight. Much smaller oyster mushrooms sell for $5.99/lb at a local market. 

Beautiful Oyster Mushroom.

Beautiful Oyster Mushroom.

We experimented cooking it with different oils and butters to find out what the best flavor is. (olive oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, salted butter, and vegan butter) Butter was by far the best flavor, but they were all fun and delicious. I would be okay with vegan butter. The oils may have been helped with more salt. 

On a field trip to a local park, I picked a bunch of inky cap mushrooms. You really need a large basketful to have enough to share generously.

Inky Caps.

Inky Caps.

Inky Caps.

Inky Caps.

The caps get gooey, so we only ate the stems. I wish I had sauteed them right away instead of waiting until the next morning, but it was a fantastic first forage. 

Elderberries are delicious. I want to make muffins and syrup with them. They're like little candies, so delicious and tart. These I did not harvest, but I did the painstaking job of removing them from their persnickety stems. Totally worth it. 

Elderberries.

Elderberries.

I had the most fun foraging pine nuts. We spent an hour pulling the nuts out of pine cones from the trees. Unfortunately, I didn't weigh our harvest. Not all of them have an edible nut inside, but finding out is part of the fun.

Foraged Pine Nuts.

Foraged Pine Nuts.

Does it count as foraging if you pick from the garden? Maybe not, but it's still fun. These plums came from a tree in the backyard where I am staying. 

Plums.

Plums.

road trip

I arrived in Salt Lake City a week ago after a 4-day road trip across the country from Brooklyn with my mother. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming. 

Gary, Indiana was the first interesting stop. I wanted to see Michael Jackson's boyhood home. The neighborhood is partially abandoned. On his street, many homes are boarded, while on surrounding streets earth is reclaiming land. Large swaths of empty overgrown lots made it feel post-apocalyptic. 

Jackson Family home.

Jackson Family home.

House across the street from Jackson Family home. 

House across the street from Jackson Family home. 

In the neighborhood around the corner, so much decay. 

I hope Gary will experience a renaissance. 

Next stop was Chicago. It's changed so much since I was there last in 2009. We had lunch at my aunt's house and picked up an umbrella stand. Long story, short version: My mom's dad gave it to my dad's sister when they moved into the house nearly 40 years ago because he was friends with the family who built the house. Now they're selling the house and the umbrella stand will stay in the family. It was a delightful visit.

From there we continued on, stopping in Iowa City to see the University of Iowa. Love the eclectic mix of architecture on campus, especially Hancher, the performing arts center by Pelli Clarke Pelli. 

Arts Building West by Steven Holl was also a treat to see. 

We continued on through the rolling hills of Iowa and spent the night in Des Moines, a little farther than halfway to SLC.  We were both exhausted from two straight days of 8+ hours in the car. We had to drive across the busy state highway from our hotel (not because we were exhausted, but it wasn't pedestrian-friendly) to a Bennigan's (the other choices were Taco Bell, Wendy's or McDonald's) for a snack and a glass of wine. 

Celebrating the halfway mark!

Celebrating the halfway mark!

Rolling hills transitioned to cornfields. 

Somewhere in Nebraska after all of the cornfields, the midwest starts becoming the west. It's stunning. I was driving, so not many pics. 

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Sinclair saddled up

Sinclair saddled up

The final night we stayed in Cheyenne, a great Old West town. We drove around a bit before dinner. I love all the old buildings and signs. 

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The next morning we stopped a few hours outside of Cheyenne for coffee. Not much was open except for Rifleman. I went in to ask the whereabouts of Penny's Diner. There were four rugged old timers sitting at the bar at 7:45am. 

I thought only bars in New York are open at 6am, and on a Sunday to boot.

I thought only bars in New York are open at 6am, and on a Sunday to boot.

Some people think Wyoming is boring, but I think it is really beautiful. The iPhone doesn't really do it justice. Most of the 6.5 hours was spent in it. Desolate and magical. 

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We finally made it! 

Autumn color in the mountains.

Autumn color in the mountains.

Woot! We reached our exit.

Woot! We reached our exit.