No. 24

Twenty-four years ago today, this happened:

wedding blog

Well, hello there, little babies Eric and Trisha! Wow, you have so much ahead of you — most of it good, some of it not, but all you really need to know right now is that you have indeed found your person.

Oh, and Trisha, that prenup of “No heads in the living room” (Eric is a hunter, after all) works out really well in your favor. Having promised to never toss any of his things, ever, maybe not quite so much. 😉

Advertisements

Party like it’s 1989

Eric had his 30th high school reunion the first weekend of August. And yeah, we actually left our house to attend, Eric because he was interested in catching up with classmates and me because we have a pact that we never face a social situation alone and I had to.

And it was fine. I mean, it was loud and there were people there, but those people were genuinely excited to see their classmates. Maybe it’s because everyone is pushing 50 and no longer cares about coming off as cool. Perspective!

I benefited from that perspective, too. Social situations make me anxious, and social situations involving the people I went to high school with (class of 1990!) put me back in the mental and emotional space I occupied during those years. Which isn’t pleasant on any level because: Angst and chaos and high school is terrible.

Well, it turns out I’m so far removed from that high school mentality that the angst and chaos never presented — and we even had fun. Eric enjoyed the first night so much that we were out until 11:30 p.m. (two hours past our bedtime!); the second night was more formal and we were outta there by 9:30, but mostly because Eric felt he’d talked to everyone he’d wanted to.

There was talk of kids in high school and parents with health issues and navigating both at the same time. About starting “second phases” of life with new partners. About jobs and retirement. About feeling a certain way and being shocked when you look in the mirror and are confronted with your age. There was a little reminiscing about the old days, I guess, but what I gleaned from the conversations is that people are firmly in the now. That there are bigger fish to fry than whether or not someone was popular.

I don’t know, I found that comforting. Maybe my 30th next year won’t be so terrible after all.

Once upon a time …

… There was a Golden Retriever named Moose. He was visiting from San Francisco with his caregivers. They all happened into a local store where Abby was working. She saw him and immediately started swooning. Moose took all that attention in stride. Which is to say, he went to sleep.

Moose

“What a good boy!” Abby said, snapping a picture for her social media accounts.

“You want to watch him tomorrow while we go on a bike ride?” said Caregiver One, kind of joking.

“Hell yes,” said Abby, not joking.

So Moose came the next morning for a day with the Walkers while his caregivers went on a bike ride. He took a walk with Eric and found a Good Stick. He tried to chase kittens, but they all got wise after the first three seconds and disappeared. Johanna gave him plenty of pets. Abby gave him treats and love — and so did her friends, who came to visit so they could see him, too. Even Trisha, a solid cat person, was enchanted by this big floppy floofy Good Boy, who cuddled up next to her with a sigh and took a snooze. And that’s how Moose came to be an honorary Walker for a day.

The end.

A not so new normal

I was at acupuncture earlier this month, updating my provider on our vacation, how well I’d done and how proud I was for not only surviving, but surviving well. And she was like, Of course you did well. That’s the normal you’ve worked hard to achieve. It’s only your mind that thinks it’s five years ago, when that was not your normal.

I sat there, completely flabbergasted. She was right — I have been feeling well. I have worked hard to get here — it’s been 12 years in the making, actually. That’s when I decided, on my 35th birthday, that something had to change. Um, because I couldn’t get up off the couch and I had a 2-year-old and an 8-year-old who needed me.

All the head meds, all the reflexology and acupuncture, all the doctor’s visits and learning how to eat for my gut, as well as how to manage my anxiety — that’s all paid off. And the truth is I’ve been feeling well for a while now. Setbacks have come when I tweak my diet or life inevitably throws me a curve ball. But overall … I am well.

I am well. I can’t wrap my mind around that fact. I need to flip my thinking so that I look at my life from today’s vantage point and not c. 2007, afraid of what could happen on the gut and anxiety fronts, expecting the worst day in and day out because that was just my reality.

But how do I flip the switch in my mind so I expect to feel well vs. always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the next IBS attack, for the next panic attack?

Hell if I know.

Well, maybe I do: Maybe, it’s like any habit I have attempted to form, when I make a conscious effort to reframe my routine — and eventually, it does become routine. Maybe it’s as easy as setting the intention each morning to be well. To recognize that I am well each night before I go to bed.

(That seems too easy, really, but I’m willing to give it a go.)

I don’t know, this is interesting to me because I am not a naturally optimistic person (nor am I a pessimist — I’m just a realist who expects the worst 😉 ). I like thinking about reality vs. perception, what’s really true and what I think is true. And I want to be well. I’m enchanted by the idea that I could expect to be well, all the time.

How different my outlook will be if I can master my thoughts.

Trisha Walker and the Case of the Murdering Oven

Abby has had a lot of college friends visit lately, which has been a lot of fun. We’ve heard about these kids often, and it’s nice to put faces to names or get to know them a little better.

I have, uh, kind of stopped cooking — I’d say this was a summer thing, but really it’s a life thing. I do a big batch of something or other on Sunday and then we just pick at it all week. But with actual kids coming to visit, we’ve been trying to cook actual meals. Which my own kids seem to appreciate.

Mt hood blog

Our visitors especially like our view of Mount Hood. She is a beauty. On this side, anyway.

So this fun story begins last Sunday: Eric is barbecuing chicken and ribs on the grill and I’ve got sweet potatoes, potatoes and a chicken breast in the oven. I’ve got about 10 minutes left on the timer. Johanna and I are hanging out in the living room (this is probably a good time to tell you our kitchen, dining room and living room are one space) when all of a sudden, we smell something … off.

We live in orchard country and farmers are burning branches affected by fire blight, so my first thought was that THAT was what I was smelling. But no, the air is clear. I go into the kitchen and check my food. It’s close. I close the oven door and go back to the word game on my phone.

But the smell just gets worse. I head back to the oven and realize in the short time I’d been gone, everything has started to burn. The oven has gone from 350 degrees to supernova. We’ve been watching Stranger Things so my first thought was that my glass oven dish was melting … but it turns out that it wasn’t that hot. 😉 Ah well. It was an exciting 20 seconds thinking I was about to be murdered, anyway.

Eric finally had to flip a breaker because the oven would NOT turn off, regardless of what buttons we pushed. It just kept getting hotter and smellier. We did a little test later on that evening when the oven had completely cooled by flipping the breaker back on, and lo and behold, the oven started to heat again. Rapidly. There was even steam coming from the vent, so clearly all facts point to this sucker being haunted.

I spent all last week without an oven, which also means I spent all last week without a stove. I make my coffee every morning via tea pot and a pour over cone, so this hurt a little, until I figured out I could just microwave the water (think outside the box, TW!) and my routine wouldn’t even miss a beat. Tangent: I kind of prefer this method now because A) it’s faster and 2) I can measure the exact amount of water I need so there’s no waste.

Our oven is 16 years old and I never liked it anyway, so our first thought was replacement. Then Eric did some research and noticed that, because we need a downdraft vent (we have it in the middle of an island so there’s no room for a hood vent), the cost of replacement would be $3,000. Hilarious. Repairperson it is!

Repairperson came Friday and came to the quick conclusion that something in the clock interface zapped out and that’s what regulates the oven’s on/off feature, as well as heat. Estimated cost of part and time: $500. Free: A rant about new downdraft vent ovens and how the companies have changed the hookup mechanisms so repair people everywhere hate them. “Those are the professionals,” Eric pointed out. “Now imagine me trying to hook that thing up.” HA HA HA oh, I am.

The moral of this story is that the repairperson is calling this week to give us a final estimate on parts and time, but regardless, if it’s under $3,000, we’ll go that route. Probably more environmentally-friendly than tossing it in the landfill. I’m telling myself that to stave off disappointment.

What I’ve learned from this ordeal is that my crockpot is a lifesaver and so is the grill. That I can live without the stove even if it’s uncomfortable (no weekend eggs, no cooked rice to supplement my diet of meat and sweet potatoes). But I’ve also realized that this is a kitchen appliance that I take for granted — I was at the grocery store on Saturday checking out potential new items I could add to my diet (that’s another post for another time), only to realize I needed a stove or oven for that.

Bummer.

But really, if your oven is going to try to murder you, summer is a good time for it: Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables that we eat raw, lots of grilling anyway. I feel like I need to come up with a better concluding paragraph than this, but the words are telling me they’re done, so.

On traveling

When we accept our limits, we go beyond them. — Einstein

I am a terrible traveler.

I haven’t always been. I am a homebody and I love routine and I hate surprises, but my memory tells me that I used to not mind traveling so much.

I think what happened is this: I had a kid who made traveling a nightmare (looking at you, Abs — the stories I could tell!) and my stomach issues got trickier. So now, when I think about going anywhere for an extended period of time, it makes me exceedingly anxious.

Blog Waterton

Very true, Waterton Starbucks!

The last week of June, our little family plus my mother-in-law rented a van and made for Canada. It was a trip that’s been in the works since at least the beginning of the year, as my in-laws wanted to take us somewhere for a once in a lifetime experience. We decided that what we really wanted to do was take the girls to Banff — Eric and I went in 1997, but the girls have never been any farther north than Washington State.

Maybe because this trip had been on my radar for so long, I had plenty of time to worry — and plenty of time to wrap my head around the fact that I could make or break this trip for everyone, just based on my overall outlook. Moms have power, yo.

So here’s what I did: I decided to look at it not as a Trisha, but as a traveler. Every day, I woke up and made the intention to be open to whatever adventures and experiences came our way. I was the designated recorder for the journey, which meant I also had my journal and my camera (or phone) with me at all times so I could keep track of everything from how much we spent on gas to what we were doing.

I enjoyed going to Mass in Kalispell, Mont., in a gym with the tabernacle underneath the basketball hoop. I enjoyed the hot tub at the hotel. I enjoyed Glacier National Park even though it was raining. (I’ve been there plenty of times and it was kind of fun to see it this way.)

I enjoyed staying at the Prince of Wales hotel in Waterton Lakes and tried not to be scared by the ghost stories we heard during the historical talk that evening. I enjoyed walking around the town of Waterton and taking in the views, seeing a black bear and a waterfall. I enjoyed my coffee the next morning in the hotel dining room (and my Lara Bar) as the family had breakfast and the discussions on whether or not we were haunted (Abby said definitely, Johanna said no way, Joni was disappointed her ghosts turned out to be the people walking around upstairs).

I enjoyed standing in line at the Lake Louise overflow parking area, waiting for an hour to board a school bus that would take us to the lake, then another half hour for the bus to fill before leaving. I enjoyed talking to the Scottish tourist who sat by Eric. I enjoyed our time at the lake, taking photos and laughing because all kids, regardless of country of origin, act the same.

I enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of Banff, our condo and the town. I enjoyed seeing all of the recycling and trash bins on the side of the road, as well as the wildlife overpasses that crossed the highway. I enjoyed a carriage ride around town and listening to Abby chatter about how awesome she felt about getting her first legal drink. (Drinking age in the US is 21. Not so in Canada. She was thrilled to be carded.)

I enjoyed our trip to Jasper National Park and walking on a glacier, then a skybridge. Okay, I did not enjoy the skybridge because I’m afraid of heights and walking on glass does not seem wise to me, regardless of how much steel is holding it up, but I DID IT. I enjoyed seeing admittedly scraggly mountain goats and a marmot.

I enjoyed looking for stickers to decorate my journal in gift shops and buying postcards. I enjoyed writing about the experience and having time to read and relax in the evenings. I enjoyed finding ketchup chips and the reactions of the family as they tried them. I enjoyed seeing everything in English and French and hearing all of the different languages being used around us. (I’m used to hearing a mix of English and Spanish, so it was at once familiar and jarring.)

I enjoyed the naps I took in the van, the chatter of my girls, my weighted blanket at night, and the fact that my reusable coffee cup was accepted everywhere. I enjoyed the look of Canadian currency and the general friendliness of the people we met. I enjoyed not looking at American newspapers or websites to see what craziness was going on back home.

When we got back, Eric said he was proud of me — he knows how hard this kind of thing is on my general constitution. I was proud of myself. This trip was super fun and I’m working on a scrapbook for our family and my mother-in-law so we can remember everything we did. The overall lesson I’ve taken away from this is that not being Trisha on vacation is genius and that accepting our limits means that we can go beyond them. (Thanks, Einstein.)

Ten out of ten stars, would go again.

Jammin’

Once upon a time, I was awesome at canning and freezing food in the summer and fall. I made jams and jellies and butters, I put away applesauce and peaches and cherries, I conquered my fear of tomato products and started processing those too.

We’d have Larder Fest in October, where we’d plan a meal totally around what I had worked so hard to preserve. The girls loved it.

Jam blog

Hey! I remembered to take an action shot!

And then I just got busy.

While my exploits have gotten less and less over the eight years I’ve been at the newspaper, I did zero canning last year. It turned out sort of okay because I still had a few jars of jam and some pickles in the pantry.

That is all long gone.

Most of it is that I hate finding the time to stop by farm stands for produce and I really hate the prep work. It’s boring and it kind of makes me angry. But we live in such a great agricultural area — we can get so much here — and I miss being able to hit up the pantry or the freezer for locally grown whatevers in February. Abby is also renting a house next year with friends and is looking for healthier alternatives. (Or maybe I should say: Less additives in her foods.)

So this summer, I have a goal: To get back into the game. To find the time to can, but also to make a point to stop at farm stands and to ask for help from the fam in the actual process.

All of that is just to say that last weekend, I took my first step in that direction. I got up early to hit the crazy-busy farmers’ market and stand in the strawberry line. Then I asked Eric to help me prep the berries — but he ended up washing, hulling and quartering the whole lot, which was awesome because, again, I hate that part.

So all that was left was for me to make the jam. I dug up jars, located the pectin, patted myself on the back for actually having sugar. I had forgotten how satisfying it is to make jam. I ladled it into my sterilized jars (we do not mess around on that point, folks) and wiped the threads and put on the lids and bands.

Everything was going smoothly, so you know that there had to be some sort of trouble. That is the Trisha Way.

I didn’t want to drag out my huge canner, so I decided to use one of my cooking pots. I filled it with water, added a towel to the bottom (because you need a buffer) and started the process.

And realized, about two minutes in, that my pot was nowhere near big enough. Boiling water sloshed out from under the lid, down the sides of the pot and onto the stove. I tried to keep adding water, but it was impossible to keep the jars covered. I decided to just go with it and reprocess if they failed to seal.

They all sealed.

As I only did four of my eight jars, I tried a different, bigger pot for the next round. This worked better, although the flood of boiling water continued. And again, all jars sealed. It was like I was being rewarded for bad behavior.

So that was Saturday. On Sunday, I did Batch Number Two. If you think I’d learned my lesson and got out my canner like any smart person would do, then you’d be wrong. Eh, I’d come this far, what could happen?

What happened: I got 18 sealed jars of lovely strawberry jam, that’s what. Johanna helped me fill the jars and I was more careful with the water bath boil.

Huh, wonder what I’ll tackle next? Also: Who else is canning?