Every year I look back and every year I’m grateful to be moving forward. Here are a few of the memories from our 2017…
Proud to be part of the Women’s March here in Portland, and inspired to get even louder as every day goes on.
Our holy-crap once-in-a-decade snowstorm hit, where Dan learned how to shovel snow AND build his very first snowman 🙂
Grateful for my sweetheart and my sweet girl, who both kept me from jumping off a cliff after the pain of repeated DEIVF failures, and grateful for the opportunities given my husband to change careers from social services to butchery & charcuterie.
Lots of cooking and baking, including the obsession with making a perfect baguette…
Best of all? Building our duck coop and run, which (minus the hardware cloth) was made from 100% repurposed materials. It may look a little wonky, but it’s incredibly sturdy AND secure from evil creatures who might want to do harm!
We became duck owners the first week of March! Picked the four of them up as day-olds at the PO in a shoebox-sized container and dunked their little beaks into water so they would know what to do (quick learners!), and they lived under a heat lamp in a box on the dining room table during the first week. They grow EXPONENTIALLY, let me tell you. By week two they were moved to a larger crate in the basement (steenky!), and by week three I built a box from scrap wood and tarp for them to mess around in the garage where Ruby liked to come visit and “babysit”.
March is always proof positive that winter wasn’t all for naught, and the garden began to reappear, our spinach seeds were sowed and quickly began to appear, and we even tried a few new flower seeds as well. Ahhh….
And it was definitely a month of YUM as I made bagels for the first time, and Dan made his first batch of lard for baking AND cured his first ham, thanks to the lessons learned at his butchery & charcuterie classes. Mmm, mmm, mmm!
April was the second worst month of the year, as we completed our sixth and final cycle of DEIVF, transferring our 8th & 9th blastocyst into my useless belly, and watching the last of our savings go down the toilet as we found out the day before the BFN that not only was pregnancy out of reach for us but that Ethiopia had closed their doors to all adoptions and folks, there’s no money back for that. $60,000+ down the drain and my heart burst and burst and burst.
It was then we decided we were going to get real and yes, get out of the city where I was born and make plans to live near the ocean. We hid away in Astoria after the news and took our sweet girl Ruby with us as always, and knew this is where we belonged. She also made it clear that this would be her last year with us, as her struggle to take a mere walk on the beach was evident even though she tried so valiantly to have fun…
So we dyed eggs and watched our tulips come up in the garden, and let that be that.
May was a lovely reprieve from the suckiness that was the first quarter of the year, with Spring in our garden being more fabulous than ever, and our ducks now being in full free-range mode, enjoying regular swims in their tubs, eating bugs, and Ethel (the black & white one) asserting her role as Bouncer for the four of them 🙂
We also celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary, this time at Wallowa Lake in a home right on the water, the most beautiful view we have ever experienced, bar none. Sadly the beds were so bad that my herniated disc had me in so much pain that so we weren’t able to stay the whole time, but we definitely look forward to returning.
We continued our quest as urban homesteaders to make rather than buy, which led to Dan building our breakfast nook table from our old coffee table top and scrap wood in the garage, which goes perfectly with the reclaimed wood storage benches he made the year before! Along with that, he made his first coppa, I cured my first bacon, and we both worked on our charcuterie design skills (I’m a sucker for presentation…).
Bliss was short-lived, as the “we thought we already hit rock bottom with infertility” became just a stepping stone down to hell, in the form of my retina spontaneously detaching. What were seemingly innocuous floaters that appeared on a Monday became splotches by Wednesday and when I saw my eye doctor on Friday afternoon, I was sent directly to Good Sam for an emergency vitrectomy, leading me to 3 solid days of face-down recovery, several weeks more of lying only on my left side on 3 pillows with my head tilted down, no driving, no exercising and basically in full sedentary mode all summer. Talk about fucked up. I was already miserable from infertility failures and my jackass RE acting like I was a quitter for ending treatment, and now the vision in my right eye was permanently damaged (surgery fixes but doesn’t cure – I permanently have what I call a “smudge” in the vision of my right eye, like when your glasses need to be cleaned). The vulnerability I felt was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced, beyond my back injury (that wasn’t helped by the inactivity of post-op), beyond anything I can describe.
But, as the saying goes, #shepersisted. Our garden flourished, Dan harvested the first of many quarts of honey from our backyard hive, and during my brief moments of freedom I picked strawberries from the pots and watched our roses bloom. There was no fucking way this eye explosion was going to implode me, I just couldn’t allow it to.
Our garden definitely did not disappoint this summer. Our marionberries and blackberries went nuts in their first year, tomatoes were lovely (and reminded me that I need to plant at least five times more next time…), sunflowers reached ginormous heights, potatoes were delish, and cucumbers were out of control. Oh yeah, and we discovered that our ducks, now full grown, can jump into raised beds and eat their favorite things…pea shoots and cucumber leaves. Hmph.
Even though the ladies, like two-year-olds, proved to be holy terrors at times, their personalities also proved to be fully entertaining, and yes, by month’s end, we got their first attempts at eggs. By the following month we’d be up to our ears in quiche, scrambles, souffles and more…
And as July came to a close, I got used to wearing my glasses again full time and bumming around the house as client work was slower than usual. Dan picked me bouquets from the garden, let me direct the creation of a ‘gallery wall’ in our living room, and I did my best to simply smell the roses…it’s all I could do, I suppose.
Ruby’s summer, what turned out to be her last, was a good one. She played on the beach, acted as Dan’s ottoman on the deck, and did her weird sunbathing in the yard on the hottest of summer days. I miss her every day.
The foodie thing went into overdrive as harvesting began of cukes, carrots, rhubarb, peppers and some early tomatoes, which led right into a vat of homemade salsa and a thousand or so pints of pickles. Dan also got his first of several birthday gifts, a sausage grinder/stuffer, and immediately got to work 🙂 And like I said, the ducks went a’crazy with the laying of the eggs. Noice!
and, oh yeah, there was that eclipse thing…dusk in the day was a total trip and it’s kind of awesome how science & nature brought so many people together…
My sweetheart turned the big 5-0! We celebrated with a trip to the Long Beach Peninsula, doing old school beach things like ice cream and kite flying. I love this fella!
And hey, what can I say, it’s harvest month and with that there were more flowers, more veggies and fruits, more preserving (including a new “evil” version of my hot sauce thanks to a big harvest of Scotch Bonnets), and front and back gardens looking like, well, home. Why are we leaving all this, you might ask? Because we know we can do even more with a bit more space. More tomatoes. More honey. More flowers. More space to run around and more space to lie on the ground and look up at the sky.
Fall arrived and the maker in both of us continued. Homemade vanilla, ginger liqueur, bread, and duck egg pasta were center stage for me, while Dan made pancetta in our empty basement-bedroom-turned-meat-curing-center. And I experimented with more cleaning products, adding DIY toilet scrub and shave oil to our existing pantry that includes homemade deoderant and more…
Getting further into planning for a 2018 move out to the Northwest Coast, we started looking at properties in the Astoria area, met a builder we liked, visited the spot where we got hitched, checked out the views of the Mighty Columbia, started propagating plants for next year’s starts, and gave Ruby her last walk down the Manzanita beach.
And because of my back injury preventing me from going to movie theaters (something that still is too painful to this day), we finally got to rent Wonder Woman. As some know, I was obsessed with the Lynda Carter version of her from a very young age – can you see we both have the same serious look in our eyes?
Slowly but surely we are preparing the house for someone else to occupy. It’s a strange thing after 12 years here, but depersonalizing it of photographs helps me mentally prepare and doing the little things (kitchen touchups, painting walls, etc.) makes us more excited for where we are headed and the hopes that it will do very, very well on the market this spring. But flowers? They’ll stay 🙂
If you’re going to eat it, might as well learn how it gets from farm to table, and Charcuterie Camp was a great introduction for me for what happens from whole pig to subprimals to the charcuterie so many of us love. (That cheek by the way? Made a lovely guanciale. Not my favorite cut but definitely tasty.)
Worst day of the month? Saying goodbye to our Ruby. Loving on her as much as we could before the vet came to send her across the rainbow bridge to where Daisy and Reg were both waiting to befriend her, it was a challenge. We miss her so.
And finally, the year ended with random urban pigs, a dash of snow and ice, seeing a great feminist icon and leader, and remembering – always – what’s most important in this world we all share – LOVE. May 2018 bring much love to you and yours.