Volunteer Winos!

Today, Zach and I had the greatest day ever! A few months ago for date day, we went to Bainbridge Island. We did our activity and drove around and surprise, while driving we saw a winery and had to stop.

It is a very small operation, run by one man named Mike. As he gave us the tour and tasting, he started talking about how when bottling and harvesting he needs a lot of volunteer help. He talked about how they make a day out of it and his chef friend comes and makes a special lunch that pairs with the wines that we bottle that day.

As soon as Mike started talking about it, Zach was hooked. We signed up to be on the mailing list and put stars by our names, indicating the we would be open to calls-for-volunteers.

Ever since that day, Zach has been asking me if I have gotten any emails from them. So, like a kid in candy store, once a month he would ask and I would tell him, “Not yet…” .

But finally, the call for bottling help came and we signed up! I’m so glad that we signed up and that Zach didn’t let me back out.

We started the day at 7 a.m. sharp — off to catch the ferry and make it to the island. I was feeling a little sick from too much late night “wine tasting” the evening before and spent the first three hours of volunteering like this:

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But! Despite the rocky start, once I woke up, (in time for lunch) I had the best day ever. Lunch was Korean-inspired potato salad and Korean Bahn Mi. I had to eat it really slowly to not upset my sick tummy, but once I settled in everything was DELICIOUS.

There were about nine other volunteers — some were newbies like us, but one woman, Sonya had been coming to bottle for about eight seasons. We had a great little team. One person was in charge of filling the bottles — my job was to take the bottle from that person and as quickly as possible, get it in the corker so that the wine was not exposed to air — which ruins the wine.

I loved the work! It was very methodical and meditative — I was totally in the zone! Extra bonus — as “payment” for working all day (half the day for me) we each got two bottles of wine! Woohoo, just what I need right now!

I loved seeing some of the behind the scenes aspects of wine making and being part of the process. I loved getting to know my fellow volunteers and spending time with Zach. Not to get mushy, but to be totally mushy, he is super smart and fun and I love his adventurous spirit. Shucks.

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Corking machine! And, the thing I’m holding does a pretty good job too. 

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Seattle — One Year Later

One year ago, Zach and I moved to Seattle. We packed up our Escape and made the two-day trek to our new residence. We stayed overnight in a crappy hotel in Oregon, and made the rest of the way to Seattle the next morning. We arrived about noon. We got to our apartment before the property manager, but since the door was open, we went in to look at our new place.

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Who could cry while looking at that face???

I immediately sat down on the ground and started crying.

It’s not that it was bad, or even, not what I expected. It was small, yes. And, when I thought of all the stuff Zach would be bringing into it, it seemed even smaller.

It wasn’t home.

The next day, the aforementioned stuff arrived. Our apartment was stuffed to the brim with all the things Zach didn’t want to get rid of before we moved, or ever. We couldn’t walk — we literally had to carve a little path to get from one room to the other.

While, we eventually sorted through all the junk and after a few fights of what we were keeping and definitely not keeping (including a heated battle over three reams of printer paper) — we got rid of a healthy portion of it.

The last year was a year of ups and downs. I missed home. I was lonely. Zach was gone a lot — busy and trying hard at school. But, we also discovered some new places and made some great friends. I got a new job! A great job that gives me the opportunity to work with amazing people and learn new things.

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Sometimes it can be pretty here.

Finishing this first year, I can’t help but wonder — what should I expect from the next year? I have been so hesitant to put down any type of roots here, but the fact is that for the foreseeable future we are going to live here. So, I should enjoy it. Just a little.

For the beginning of year two in Seattle — I want to focus on building friendships, continuing to love my job and exploring the area with Zach. I have learned that I am allowed to let myself be happy — I can put down roots here and build a life, and still miss home.

I hope year two builds on what Zach and I started last year. And … when I say “I hope” what I really mean is I will take active steps to make this happen.

“We’re waiting for God to show up.'”

I find this song comforting when I’m upset, and tonight I need comfort.
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I have no words to express how disgusting today’s events were. That it is 2017 and we are still dealing with this shit. That angry, white people will do anything to defend an immoral institution and continue to violently suppress marginalized groups.
 
Today’s events were an act of terrorism — and, I am terrified. I feel helpless and don’t know how to respond to such unfettered hate.
 
We can condemn these actions and say, “This is unacceptable!” But, we live in America, where since its founding, this behaviour has been not only accepted but, for many years, encouraged and sanctioned by the government. This land was forcibly taken from Native Peoples, it was built by slave labor and on the backs of minorities, and it is clear, that force will be used to retain that power.
I have no answers. I have no leads. This country is broken. What does salvation look like? Is there a way to fix this or will the white nationalist win with their, “if we can’t have it, no one can,” rallies?

Return of the Angsty Teen

I tend to fixate on things. I find my favorite things — stick with them forever and never branch out — The Office, I watch it on repeat and rarely start a new show; About Time, my go-to movie whenever it is my turn to choose; and angsty teen rock bands, Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. I love them forever and will always day dream about John Nolan and tell everyone about the old feud between he and Jesse Lacey.

My taste in music hasn’t evolved since I was 12.

When I was 17, I went through a “concert phase.” I went to every alternative rock show that came through Salt Lake City. I would push my way to the front row, grab onto the bars and spend the next four hours getting crushed, kicked in the head by crowd surfers and drenched in other people’s sweat and spit. So fun!!!

A few weeks ago, when I heard Taking Back Sunday was coming to Seattle, I knew I needed to go. When I bought the tickets, I was moderately excited. Despite how much I love them, like most people, I have calmed down A LOT since I was 17. I looked forward to spending my time at a table in the 21+ only section of the bar and leave the mosh pitting to other people. After all, you don’t need to be right next to the stage to hear the music. Duh.

I’m sure you can tell, that is not where this story is going.

When we got there instinct kicked in! I was powerless to stop it. I moved my way to the front, around the third row, and hung there for the first two bands. Right before TBS got on, I turned to Zach and warned him, “Things are gonna get cray.” And they did. (Zach’s Note: I’ve got a bad feeling about this…I’ve got a bad feeling about this…)

The concert was AMAZING. And, I completely reverted back to my 17-year-old self — fighting people to keep my spot and clutching the front row, screaming my lungs out and ogling John Nolan and Adam. They are STILL as sexy as ever ;).

Luckily, Zach was behind me. He was a great shield and I got humped by zero strangers! I used to take my friend Zooface to concerts, who was an amazing shield. He is huge and was always a brick wall between me and less-than-savory characters. If anyone acted up, he could literally lift them and throw them somewhere else. Zach did a pretty good job filling those shoes.

At the end of the night, I was bruised, covered in confetti and straight up filth, and soaking wet. I was also a little worried that after seeing a whole new level of psycho in me that Zach might be reconsidering our marriage.

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Covered in … what??

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My whole dress was soaked.

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Someone handed me the setlist!!!!

We made our way back via the light rail, and I was floating the whole way home (but, not literally. It was actually quite a long walk). Back at the apartment, I showered and scrubbed the grime off my body before passing out on the bed. This morning, I am still bruised, sore and soooooooooo happy. 🙂

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All tuckered out.

Beef to Beans

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Is this a real board game?

I don’t normally write about my vegetarianism on my blog. I’ve learned, over the years, to not, “shove it in people’s faces.” That’s frustrating enough. The self-righteous (and highly-combative) side of me thinks, “I’m doing something healthy for my body and the planet, it aligns with my beliefs and I’M THE ONE WHO HAS TO SHUT MY MOUTH?” But, yes. That is usually how it has worked — I am the obnoxious vegetarian.

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But, today I read an article by The Atlantic about how making one simple switch could get the U.S. legitimately close to meeting the emission goals set for 2020 without any other major changes (though if we could get with the program, that would be great). The switch — eat beans, not beef. If you don’t like beans??? Just stop eating beef and eat something else …

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This isn’t even asking you to go vegetarian (because that would be CRAZY). You could still eat chicken, pork, eggs, cheese — whatever.

This is (or should be) appealing for a couple of reasons 1) it is personal, not policy, driven change 2) it is a small change in diet that can make a big impact on your physical and global health (cutting back on global meat consumption is one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions).

I know a lot of people won’t make this change, even though it is simple. Even people who are aware of and alarmed by climate change. This makes me so sad. A lot of things have been making me so sad lately.

Can’t we stick it to the man and eliminate beef???

Happy Anniversary, Zach Zach Stevens!

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Last year, I married my best friend.

We met in November of 2011.  It didn’t seem like we had a lot in common at first, he was very anti-vegan and I was very, very vegan, but our friendship steadily grew through a shared love of Katy Perry and bi-annual library sales.

Though I moved around for a little while through 2012 – 2014, we kept in touch. When I came back to Utah, Zach and I met up for dinner at The Pie Pizzeria in Ogden. We were there for almost four hours; I left the restaurant that night thinking, “I’m in love.”

A few months later we started dating and I never looked back. After one year of dating, we moved in together March of 2015 and on a trip to Yellowstone over Labor Day Weekend, Zach proposed. We were camping and I hadn’t showered in three days, so I knew that he really meant it. 😉

Our wedding, on July 2, 2016 was perfect. We rented the Tracy Aviary and had boxes and boxes of pizza from The Pie. Surrounded by all of our favorite people, we recited our handwritten vows and only cried a little*. My friend Kent performed the ceremony and did a wonderful job.

Near the end of the night, Zach requested Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC and drunkenly came out to the dance floor to boogie, slapping his legs along with, “Knockin’ me out with those American thighs.” After the wedding, we had a fabulous honeymoon in Canada and Montana. Then in August, it was off to Washington to begin our new life together in Seattle.

There have been a lot of ups and downs throughout the year as we adjusted to a new place, Zach dove into the full-time MBA program and I started a new job at the University of Washington. Despite the challenges, at the end of every day I have a snuggly, handsome and hilarious husband to come home to. The tough times feel less tough when you have someone like Zach to go through them with, and I know that it brought us closer together.

So — even though things are not perfect, I know that I did everything right. One year in, here is to many, many more.

*It’s all relative.

No Wine-ing

About six weeks ago, I decided that I was going to run the Huntsville half in September and the Portland Marathon in October .

As part of kicking off training, I decided that I would stop drinking — for a whole 30 days! Practically, unheard of. Seriously, I really love my evening glass of wine.

Today is day 27.

Every day of the first week was the hardest day; it got easier after that. Zach and I went camping and I wasn’t even tempted when he cracked open a beer by the fire. We went to New Mexico for a weekend and I flawlessly made it through while everyone else enjoyed beer, wine and of course, margaritas.

I don’t know when unwinding in the evening became synonymous with a glass of wine. I don’t know when adding that bottle of wine to the grocery store became a part of the routine. I think a large part of it is moving to Seattle. I’ve been spending a lot more time indoors (thanks, rain!) and a lot more time at home in the evenings watching TV (thanks, not having that many friends!).

I didn’t think that the amount of wine I was having was hurting my life, but I did think that I as I started training it couldn’t hurt to cut back either. It is pretty common knowledge that wine, or any form of alcohol, interferes with your sleep patterns and I also read as part of training preparation that alcohol slows the rate of your muscles’ recovery.

So, back to today — day 27. After a long week at work, I almost gave up. But, thanks to the work I have done over the last month I know that a long run will go a lot further (and farther!) in the long run ;).

Santa Fe and an Airport Adventure

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A couple of weeks ago we made a last minute decision to go to New Mexico for my cousins’ high school graduations. We weren’t planning on going, but my older brother kept asking me. I couldn’t say no. I miss everyone.

And, Zach has never been to New Mexico to see my family, something that was definitely long overdue.

In short — we had the greatest time. It was great being with my family. And, Gabby, my cutest niece in the world, is growing up so fast! She is talking like crazy and is as spunky as ever. She calls me Aunt Weeet — with a high pitched E and a very soft T at the end.

The trip was really wonderful. We explored Santa Fe, and went to Meow Wolf an, “art amusement park, built by an arts collective called Meow Wolf and largely funded by a surprising benefactor: George R.R. Martin.” It was fun. I had never heard of it before, but Zach’s friend highly recommended it.

Since the trip went off without a hitch, it goes without saying that something had to go wrong on the way home.


We got to the airport early, after spending the day downtown with my cousin Stella. But, about five minutes before our plane was going to load, the attendant announced that the flight had been delayed. I instantly started worrying since our layover time was only about 45 minutes; so we were cutting it close anyway.

We spent an anxious hour waiting for news about the plane and wondering whether or not we would make it back to Seattle that night. I thought about emailing my boss to let the team know that I wouldn’t be there in the morning, but decided to hold off until we got to Phoenix. We decided, if anything, we would spend the night there to give ourselves a chance of making it to Seattle in the morning.

When we finally got on the Phoenix flight we saw that our Seattle flight had been delayed as well. We had the tiniest hope that we might make it back that night! When we landed, Zach checked where the flight to Seattle was taking off — D9.

As soon as we got off the plane in Phoenix we took off running to make the flight. I swear, we ran all the way across the airport. It took forever!

As we neared the D terminal it became pretty clear that there was no one there; there wasn’t even a D9. I looked at Zach, “Which gate did you look at…?” He looked very confused.

I pulled up our flight information on my phone, D9 was the ARRIVAL gate. In Seattle. We were supposed to be in the A terminal for takeoff — back across the airport. I nearly collapsed in exhaustion. It was way past my bedtime and I had just run across the airport to a catch a flight at a gate that didn’t exist.

Begrudgingly, and near tears, I grabbed my bags to run all the way back across the airport. I was ready to be done. Screw getting back to Seattle. I could sleep on the airport floor.

As we ran a few helpful, and highly amused, airport workers shouted to us, “The shuttle is coming!” We kept running and a few minutes later one of those zippy airport cars came by to pick us up. Gratefully, we sat down. Only to spend the next five minutes listening to the driver as he told all about what he had seen, “I knew you were going the wrong way!” he said laughing. And looking at Zach, “I saw you take your flip flops off so you could run faster!”

Apparently, he had to make another drop off before he could pick us up … so there was no way he could have prevented the spectacle we had made. All he could do was watch and then tell us all about it. Lovely.

Long story short, we made it home about 3am and I was back to work that morning, groggy and grumpy.




 

A Weekend in Hell

After two busy weekends, one with a quick Canadian getaway and the other an eventful weekend in New Mexico, I really just wanted some time to relax.

I got that this weekend, but not in the way that I wanted. Friday went really well, we celebrated a friend’s birthday downtown. Zach had quite a few drinks, and I was the designated driver. Aside from a sip of prosecco for a birthday toast, I didn’t drink at all.

So, when I woke up incredibly sick Saturday morning I felt robbed. The minute I opened my eyes I had a throbbing headache. I tried to take a couple of Aspirin and go back to sleep, but it didn’t even touch the ache. It dawned on me that I was dealing with a migraine — the WORST kind of headache. I get them one to six times a year, depending on stress levels, amount of sleep, etc. Typically, I can tell if I have triggered one or if one is coming and head it off.

This one shocked me though. I have been feeling a little “off” for about a week and a half, but for the most part have really been taking care of myself. I have barely been drinking (i.e. not at all) since I started marathon training three weeks ago and have been eating healthy. The only real issue was how late our flight got in last weekend and maybe a few rough nights when I couldn’t fall asleep.

By 10am on Saturday, I was drenched in sweat and had thrown up from the pain. Luckily, Zach took care of me as best he could. While I was curled up in bed, he looked up what other painkiller would be OK to take with Aspirin. While I was in a haze, he slipped a couple of Tylenol in my mouth and had me take a sip of water. The combo of the two painkillers worked and I was able to sleep until about three in the afternoon.

I woke up feeling better; meaning that my head no longer hurt, but my body felt like it had been hit by a semi-truck. Anyone who has had a migraine knows what I’m talking about. They leave you feeling drained, exhausted and weak.

So, yeah. After a couple of crazy weekends I finally got some rest. Forced rest. If there is any takeaway from this blog post, it is that the body has limits and when we don’t listen to them, when we just keep going and going — there are prices to pay.

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Zach’s Birthday Adventure

Zach and I have had a very busy couple of weeks being traveling fools!

On Memorial Day weekend, we took a quick trip up to the Gulf Islands in Canada. We celebrated Zach’s 32nd birthday in style by taking a kayak tour off Vancouver Island and to some of the smaller islands nearby. We really wanted to see whales, because of course, but were not that lucky.

We did see a few cute seals, a family of sea otters and some porpoises. Not bad 🙂 But, since we didn’t see whales or orcas, I guess we are going to have to go back.

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While seeing the wildlife was wonderful, Zach’s favorite part of his birthday kayaking tour was something else entirely.

In our small kayaking group was a family of four and a grandma. From the very beginning the grandma said that she didn’t want to be there and was only participating because her son was forcing her. Unhappily, she boarded the double kayak that she was sharing with an instructor and off we went.

Things were going smoothly until the teenage daughter almost ran into my kayak. She should have just let us bump, but instead she overcorrected and went down. Her entire kayak flipped over and she came up sputtering. Luckily, our guides were wonderful and calm. They helped her into their kayak and started to drain hers of its excess water.

The only non-calm one was the grandma. She started screaming at her son, “I don’t want to be here!” Her pleas to leave quickly escalated into threats, with her telling her son that she wanted to drown him. Zach had to turn his kayak around so that no one would see how hard he was laughing at the whole scenario.

After that entertaining fiasco, one of the guides took us away from the group so that we could experience a little bit more and not be held back by the screaming grandma or kids.

It ended up being just the three of us heading out to different islands and kayaking through the tides. By the end of the day my arms were exhausted but it was worth it. We had a great time.

The Gulf Islands are beautiful and if you ever have the chance, you should go. And, if you are so inclined, take a kayak tour through Blue Dog Kayaking.


After our weekend away, we went away again. This time to New Mexico! I will write all about that in the next post, so that this one won’t be too long.