Dear everyone,

Hey there! I did not mean to take a break from blogging — the words were there, but not the time. I like writing, so that was not an easy decision (and it forced me to do other things that weren’t as fun), but it was the right one.

I’ve learned to allow myself the gift of saying no. I’m trying to learn not to feel guilty when I do.

First things first: We took Abby back to school a couple of weekends ago and the Walker Four is again settling into its Walker Three Plus One Out of Town routine. Not my favorite, but I’ve got two years of this under my belt so essentially I’m a pro. Back to school is such an intense time, with its excitement and anxiety. What makes it easier is that she was ready to move into her new place, to see her friends and start classes. (Clinicals this year! We got her a stethoscope for her birthday. Wild.) Uh, and it also helps that we have Snapchat, Instagram, texting, FaceTime and emails to keep in touch.

We had a lovely summer. It’s time for the next step. I’ll quit crying eventually.

Johanna has wanted to get her ears pierced for several months now, and a trip to the big city with Abby in July seemed just the time to do it. That’s when we all learned you need a parent physically present if you’re a minor. Good to know. Anyway, we had some errands to run for Abby’s move-in weekend, so we hit the mall for that sole reason. The short story is that Jo got her ears pierced and I learned that the holes I let grow in when I was 14 were still viable — so I ended up with earrings too. It always surprises me when I see Johanna and her pierced ears, and then myself with mine.

We’re so punk!

Also: Johanna is a freshman in high school this year. I can’t even, except I have no choice.

One project I’m getting ready to launch (that sounds too high tech for what I’m planning) is a weekly quote from a woman on this very blog. Without getting up TOO high on my soapbox, I’ve noticed that most of the quotes I’ve collected over the years are attributed to men. I mean, that’s fine, but where are the women? You can’t tell me that we don’t have just as much to say. I think it’s more an exposure thing, or maybe a “who can yell the loudest” thing. Yeah, I said it. Nothing like having daughters to make you a feminist.

So that’s coming. Eventually. I haven’t figured out formatting yet.

Another project: The Simple Year anthology is now just me and Kerry (Year 1). No one else has time. I’m learning to use Google Docs. I wish I wasn’t.

But it’s fun to have projects going on that I’m excited about. Work has been kind of rough — we don’t need to rehash all that garbage, I’ll just leave it with this: Sometimes I really think about whether or not I want to continue being a journalist.

I think I still do. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out, though.

One story I just covered that I was jacked about as a person interested in zero waste and social justice: A local church held a free clothing event where everyone was welcome to come and outfit their kids with whatever they needed. Church pews were sorted by boy and girl items, and then by size. The parishioners even made sure everything was cleaned beforehand.

They have a partnership with the school district and items unclaimed at the lost and found at the end of the year made up the bulk of the items offered, but parishioners also supplied brand new blue jeans because that’s what is generally most in demand.

With all the shitty news out there, this was a breath of fresh air. People helping people, no questions asked, no agendas. The whole ordeal was heartwarming and affirming.

Anyway, my dear internet friends: Off I go. I hope you are all well. Let me know what’s on your radar at the moment. I can’t be the only one with stories.

— TW

Advertisements

Good things

I am beyond heartbroken and stressed and sad and upset and angry and just … things this week in the States have been rough. I can’t stand the news, I can’t stand social media, I can’t take any more negativity.

I just can’t. But the hits just keep on coming.

So today we’re going to talk about good things. Not because things are good — they aren’t. But to remind ourselves that despite all that, there is light. Even if we have to dig really deep to find it.

So here are a few of my good things, in no particular order. And in the comments, I’d like to see yours.

  • This plant
plant blog

Mind Flayer at work?

I wrote a story about a local fundraising effort for fistula repair in Uganda, and the woman behind the fundraiser gave me this plant as a thank you. Thank yous are NOT necessary — I’m a reporter, I reported! — but I appreciated the thought and the kindness behind the gift. Abby has claimed it, and I’m also happy about that because plants bring her a lot of joy, and this one will remind her of me when she’s at school. Plus it’s just freaking cool — that droopy flower growth has been two months in the making. Awesome.

  • My grandma
gma blog

Grandma Hollywood

Grandma is 95. She came to live by us this past May. She’s seen a lot, she’s done a lot, she has great stories and has had great heartbreak, but she just keeps going. I love being able to stop by and see her. I love hearing her stories and learning about some of the genetic quirks that make me a Trisha (panic attacks, check!). I love that she’s always excited to get a copy of the newspaper and that she reads my articles first. I love how she proudly tells everyone in the halls, “This is my granddaughter, Trisha.” Grandma kicks ass, you guys, and she’s right down the road. I haven’t had relatives closer than 2 hours away since I was 9. This time with Grammie is such a gift.

  •  My laptop
laptop blog

Freida on the deck — that’s my parents’ 1970s card table she’s resting on.

Freida, born of anger and fire, has proven to be a beacon of peace and calm. Wow, that sounds dramatic. Here’s her origin story: I purchased this ol’ girl from an office supply store about a year and a half ago because I wanted the freedom to get out of my office and write, say, in a coffee shop. (Freida is derived from freedom. I wish I’d have been clever enough to come up with that, but it was Eric.) Freida and I have written in those coffee shops, on park benches, on the deck, in my parents’ backyard and in hospital waiting rooms. I lug her around every day in my backpack and, while she’s heavy and clunky, she’s worth it. Freida gets me out of the office, but more than that, she gives me the gift of possibility.

  • Coffee

1da0396fe4b6de2ddaa5ef32dcd449e6

I made my 57,000th batch of iced coffee Monday night (method HERE — although now I use a gallon of water, 1/4 pound of ground coffee and let that sit upwards of 12 hours) and was reminded that there is such simple pleasure in grabbing a cup, filling it with ice and cold coffee, topping that mother off with lots of half and half, and heading to the deck to read or write. I don’t have a lot of food pleasures because my stomach is a jerk, but I do have coffee. Thanks, magic beans!

  • All my kids under one roof
IMG_6122

An old photo, but a good photo. And very indicative of their personalities.

It seems like just yesterday that Abby came home from college for summer vacation, and now we’re looking at roughly one more week with her here before taking her back. Johanna is pretty sure we can just lock the door and she’ll have to stay. Seems like a solid plan. I’ll report back on how that works. Although actually … we are in a good place. It’s exciting to see both girls spreading their wings and figuring out where they want to go. I mean, yeah, I would like to go back to when they were younger and I didn’t have to rely on apps to communicate, but I don’t know if I would wish for that because … well. You can’t stunt them, right? Isn’t this what we’ve been working towards? Those wings? Well, whatever, we’ve had a great summer and I have thoroughly enjoyed having both girls under my roof. They’re fantastic. And yes, I am biased, why do you ask?

All right, my lovely internet friends: Your turn.

P.S. Happy birthday, Shannon! Your list is coming …

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.

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.

Let’s hear it for small revolutions

I’ve mentioned more than a few times about how I do our grocery shopping once a week — on Saturday mornings, generally — and that, by Friday, the cupboards are pretty bare.

And sometimes even by Wednesday, as was the case last week.

I was finishing up a book when I caught wind of some grumblings in the kitchen. My family was bemoaning the fact that there was little in the house they could pack for lunch the next day. There were even some complaints over the sorry state of that night’s dinner (random crap in a tortilla. I mean, really, they could do a lot worse).

So I pointed out the obvious: That, aside from Johanna (who wasn’t complaining, that’s why she’s my favorite), everyone in our household not only has a vehicle, but a job. Which means that any one of us can go grocery shopping at any time. That waiting for me to get around to it on Saturday wasn’t necessary.

Abby and Eric just looked at me. I could see the wheels turning. It almost made me laugh.

First, they apologized. I was like, seriously, no sweat, I’m just reminding you that you have options. (Truth. I wasn’t worried; my dinner had been fine.) And Abby was all, you know what? You’re absolutely right, which kind of surprised me but also was a lovely thing to hear. Vindication! I went back to my book and Eric and Abby started making a plan.

Abby will be living off campus next school year with some friends and she keeps talking about learning to cook — so actually, maybe that helped my case. She’s been in the mood for taco soup and, as our weather went from the pleasant 80s to the rather chilly 50s in the span of a day and a half, she decided that was what was going on the menu Thursday night.

They found a recipe. They made a list. Eric went shopping after work (Abby was going to do it, but Eric ended up having more time than he expected, so he made the trip). While I lounged around, they made dinner. I had to save the day when it came to taco seasoning and home-canned tomatoes, but for the most part, everyone left me alone.

It was awesome.

They ended up with a big pot of soup. Johanna has textural issues (she refuses to eat cooked vegetables) and made herself eggs instead, and I can’t eat it, thanks to my jerk of a stomach (although I would if I could), so I had a rather lovely salad with leftover shredded chicken instead. But both Eric and Abby were happy with the meal.

Once upon a time, I’d have been ashamed that I had failed to keep the kitchen stocked. (Or the bathroom clean or the laundry washed.) I’d have taken the complaints as personal criticism. And I’m not sure if a switch flipped or if I’m finally learning my lesson, but I can see that this really isn’t a commentary on me at all. It’s a little bit being spoiled. It’s a little bit thoughtlessness — because they don’t have to think about how the fridge gets filled. And it’s also probably a bit of laziness.

I feel like a revolutionary. I feel like I’ve got a new notch on my feminist belt.

I’m kind of wondering if this will be a lasting lesson or if they’ll forget by Wednesday of this week.

Note to self: I don’t have to do it all. And it’s probably better if I don’t — for me, of course, because that means I can do more fulfilling work (or not: Reading, writing, taking a nap, playing with kittens, whatever). But also for them, particularly the girls, to learn a few basic life skills.

Also, this makes it sound like Eric is terrible. He’s not. He regularly cooks, does dishes, folds laundry and goes to The Store That Must Not Be Named to pick up toilet paper. (He doesn’t like to sit down, that’s why.) But groceries aren’t generally on his list. Um, they might be now. 😉

A belated Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day in the U.S. was Sunday, but for me, it’s going to be today — because Abby comes home from college and I’ll have both kids under one roof again. And that’s my favorite. I know that we’re getting to the end of the line as far as frequency of this happening, so I just enjoy it and see it for the gift that it is.

img_5799.jpg

Where on earth has the time gone?

The words are telling me to share this Mother’s Day story: Abby was two months shy of 3 the first Mother’s Day she really understood what was going on. She had a terrific gift for language even then, and loved to talk. Eric and Abby had a whole day of surprises for me, one of which was to go to the town next door and do a bit of shopping. The entire trip, Eric kept saying to Abby, “Aren’t we lucky to have Mama? Don’t we love Mama so much? Happy Mother’s Day, Mama!” For her part, Abby would just beam at Eric and say, “I love YOU, Daddy!” and wish him a happy Father’s Day. Each time, Eric would look sheepishly at me — he was trying SO HARD — and it would make me laugh.

He never did get her to wish me a happy Mother’s Day.

Fast forward to July or August. Abby is now 3, and she’s running through the sprinkler with a banana-flavored popsicle. During one of her breaks, she looks up at me and says, “I love you, Mama. Happy Mother’s Day!” And I was like, wow, do I have a story for your father tonight when he gets home.

One of my best stories. And one of my most memorable Mother’s Days.

*

When the girls were younger, I’d get the day off and they’d do all the chores I’d normally complete on a Sunday. It was heaven. I’d read on the deck and the girls would run out and give me periodic updates on any catastrophes going on (like when they used powdered sugar instead of flour in a cake they were making). My gift was generally a new book to download to my Kindle. Perfect.

This Mother’s Day was a little different: Writing on the deck in the morning, a family barbecue at my mother-in-law’s that included my parents in the afternoon, basketball practice for Johanna in the evening. And that’s okay. I’m on the cusp of a big life change — Abby moving back today, my 95-year-old grandmother moving to town on Tuesday, and then the realities of my widowed mother-in-law — and I’ve decided that instead of trying to plan my way through it, to just let it come.

I’ll have three very darling people added to the fabric of my days. That just means more adventures.

Johanna has a lesson for all of us

On Saturday morning, Johanna woke up ready to TALK. This is slightly hilarious because she’s always been my quiet child. She is definitely an introvert and keeps her thoughts close. But suddenly, we’re knocking on the door of 14 (I know, WHAT?!) and she’s got plenty to say.

IMG_6850

Goose does not have a lot to say, but he freely offers moral support. And purrs.

In the midst of the word-storm, she said, “I got invited to a barbecue today, but it’s from 5-8 p.m. and that just sounds like a lot of social interaction, so I said I couldn’t come.” I high-fived her, because I can certainly understand the thought process behind that decision. “My friends also wanted to go to the football game last night, but I was tired and wanted to get home,” she added, and it occurred to me that my barely-teenager has already learned a lesson that I haven’t quite figured out even at 46: How to say no.

Here’s the thing: We often say yes when we want to say no. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, or everyone else is doing it so we feel like we should too, or it’s just easier to go along with whatever it is than not. Or we take too much on. But for our own sanity, we need to have boundaries. We need to be honest and give ourselves the gift of putting ourselves first.

So that’s my new project this week, and to accomplish it, I’m asking myself, “What would Johanna do?” And then I do that thing. 😉 (I was joking with a co-worker last week that I need to ask myself, “What would Trisha do?” and then do the exact opposite. Because what Trisha would do is run herself into the ground. Not very minimalist.)