Tag Archives: kayaking

Happy Mother’s Day from GWP Moms . . .

Happy Mother’s Day from all of the women and mothers at Green Writers Press, Green Place Books, Green Sprouts, and our literary magazine, The Hopper! Here are some books, for moms of all ages, that will make perfect gifts for the mother in your life . . . Enjoy!

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A perfect Mother’s Day gift . . . 
A Mom’s Guide to Creating a Magical Life
Written for the overwhelmed Mom who’s looking for more joy, playfulness, and serenity in her life, A Mom’s Guide to Creating a Magical Life is like a GPS for your soul. This book is full of simple, easy-to-use tools to help you feel more grounded within yourself, and more patient and present with your family and everyone else you meet throughout your days. It’s also an invitation to come back home to yourself and remember all the things you used to love before becoming so busy taking care of everyone else. Beyond a manicure, pedicure, or even a massage, A Mom’s Guide to Creating a Magical Life encourages self-care for the soul, teaching and empowering Moms to learn and know that we really do have the ability to create the life of our dreams.

GWP author Kasey Mathews and her two children . . . about 18 years ago! Watch the trailer and learn about Andi’s birth.

There were uncertain, gloomy days when I thought they might be right—that maybe we were cursed. Inevitably, though, I’d step back and look with clearer eyes, allowing myself to see all the incredible gifts that had emerged as a result of what we’d been through. I came to see, know, and understand that in the midst of times of ease or diffi culty, there is so much opportunity to allow in the magic that is available to us all.

KASEY MATHEWS lives in Wilton, New Hampshire, with husband, two children and their rescue dog, Ed. She is a coach, speaker, workshop leader and author of A Mom’s Guide to Creating a Magical Life: 8 Steps to Feel Happier, Inspired and More Relaxed and Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life and Motherhood, which won the New Hampshire Writer’s Project Reader’s Choice award and was a featured book on the Random House book site Bibliophile.

Visit the author’s website to order: www.kaseymathews.com
Watch the author’s beautiful book trailer here . . . (her first book was agented by Dede!):

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The Coffeehouse Resistance: Brewing Hope in Desperate Times
by Sarina Prabasi
Reviewed by Rachael Peretic

‘What a difference we can make, understanding our neighborhoods as we do, and having a real relationship with people in our communities. What could we accomplish if we could make the coffeehouse politically relevant again? Not partisan, but politically engaged and active.’ – Sarina Prabasi,  The Coffeehouse Resistance

No stranger to immigration, Sarina Prabasi was born in the Netherlands, raised in Nepal, and educated in Massachusetts before settling for years in Ethiopia, where she fell in love with the culture of coffee, the community surrounding it, and a man who would later become her husband and business partner. When political unrest brought her back to America with her husband and young daughter, the relief was short-lived. In the wake of the 2016 presidential elections, they and much of the nation were left shocked, bereft, and seemingly powerless in a situation that few had prepared for. Suddenly, the future of the nation and of her family was undefined.

Through small acts, her mindset shifted from that post-electoral fog to that of an active citizen. She started using her voice, her vote, and even her dining room table, where she and her children wrote to their local representatives, to better embody her ideals. After getting her feet wet by phone banking for Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s campaign, she was struck by her ability to promote change both at the government level and right within her own community. It wasn’t long before this passion flowed over into Buunni, the coffeehouse founded by Prabasi and her husband, Elias. With the government officials, she wrote postcards, made phone calls, and attended rallies. With her customer, she shared a love of coffee, a safe space for their voices to be heard, and connections with friends and strangers alike. Eventually, she found a balance, dismantling the isolating issues she saw—racism, gun violence, and corporate greed—from both ends of the spectrum.

Sarina and her two girls (a few years ago).

In an effort to bring the coffeehouse back to its original status of communal hub and a place of enlightenment, free thinking, and debate, Prabasi has written a book detailing her experiences as a New York immigrant-turned-U.S. citizen, a small business owner, a mother, and a political activist pining for representation in Trump’s America.

The Coffeehouse Resistance is a forward-thinking memoir, told in an empathetic voice, that shines light not only on the harsh realities of recent years but, more importantly, onto the bright future which is made possible when one acts in accordance with their ethics toward a true democracy. Despite such divisive times as these, the book’s power to resonate is palpable; its ability to motivate as pervasive as the morning’s first cup of coffee. This book is for everyone, but especially for those who have felt themselves unrepresented, unaccepted, or even unwelcome in the place that they themselves call home, this is a must read.

Visit the author’s website here: https://www.sarinaprabasi.net
Watch the book trailer here and help us spread the word! #thecoffeehouseresistance

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Breakfast Memories: A Dementia Love Story (Coming Fall 2019!)
by Kate Hanley

For anyone caring for someone with dementia, this book is a bridge of hope. Kate Hanley takes us on a journey where we witness her caring for her aging parents, while trying to balance the demands of her own busy work and family life. At times, full of frustration and despair, Kate wanted to give up, but knew that was never a choice. As her story progressed, along with her mother’s dementia, Kate discovered a cache of daily love devotionals her dad had penned to her mother every morning on a paper napkin.

Kate Hanley and her mom.

The discovery of these love sonnets was the key to unlocking the window into her mother’s soul, and gave Kate glimpses back into the world of who her mother once was. A beautiful story full of love, laughter, and possibility, Kate inspires others walking this path to know and believe that even in the darkest times of despair, there is reason to hope and remember that love is never forgotten.

Kate Hanley’s discovery of her parent’s unique love language set her on a path she never anticipated—writing a book. Yet these beautiful “paper napkin sonnets,” and the story that surrounds them, were too precious and inspiring not to share, as they offer hope for anyone in the throes of caring for someone with dementia. Kate lives in Old Forge, New York, with her husband and two dogs. Her two grown sons come home as often as possible to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Adirondack Mountains.

Visit the author’s website and to preorder this special book: http://breakfastmemories.com

~~~ Other Mother’s Day books, newly released just in time for Mother’s Day! ~~~

How to Survive a Brazilian Betrayal: A Mother-Daughter Memoir
By Ehris Urban and Velya Janez-Urban

A kooky, gregarious mother and perceptive, poised daughter introduce readers to their offbeat Connecticut family, who follow their hearts to rural Brazil. Broke and broken, they’re forced to return to the United States, and navigate their rebirth in a foreclosed 1770 New England farmhouse. Hilariously honest and heart-wrenching.

“Beautifully written and full of love, honesty, and humor. Almost all daughters adore their mothers and make fun of them at the same time! There is no more powerful (or fraught) relationship in the world than this one. I love this relationship. Brava, you two!” ~Christiane Northrup, M.D., New York Times bestselling author, Women’s Bodies,Women’s Wisdom and Goddesses Never Age

Ehris Urban is an herbalist, holistic nutritionist, and flower essence practitioner. Velya Jancz-Urban is a zany teacher, history nut, and expert on “herstory unsanitized.” As Grounded Goodwife (groundedgoodwife.com),this funny and frank mother/daughter duo believe in taking inner responsibility for one’s wellness, and share their “recipe” for wholeness through holistic workshops and “gal power” presentations.

Visit the authors’ website here: groundedgoodwife.com

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Today My Name is Billie, a novel
By Neile Parisi

Coming out just in time for Mother’s Day, this page-turning novel is about a dedicated teacher who loses her job due to a student covering up getting into a fight by saying she punched him (he got his friends who where there to lie on his behalf)…. Every Year thousands of educators are accused of physical abuse. Some are guilty and are prosecuted, but hundreds who are innocent are forced to surrender their licenses. This is what happened to Billie. Deceit and betrayal threatened her survival, extinguished  her life’s dream, and  erased her sense of self worth. She wondered if she could ever trust again. Rejected by family and friends, she was forced to reinvent every aspect of her entire life. When a catastrophic fire crippled her community, and individuals grappled with personal tragedy, she gained a deeper understanding of the gift of forgiveness and the power of hope. Her brave struggles saved not only her life but also the lives of others. At times brutally painful, at other times hugely positive, Today My Name Is Billie  reveals how a single lie can spread like fire and destroy all that it touches.

Neile Parisi taught for 18 glorious years in public schools. She experienced both joy and tragedy in her classroom, but continually loved her students. Today My Name Is Billie is based upon an incident in her life as an eighth grade teacher, where she lost her job and her career. Following this, she became a Registered Sanitarian. Having a Masters Degree in Health Education, she was able to use her teaching skills to help educate workers in the restaurant world, teaching proper food-handling skills; provide knowledge about radon, asbestos, and lead poisoning to home owners; investigate food poisoning; test beach water and pools for bacteria levels; inspect restaurants, day cares, schools, and hospitals; and at times even trap rats and other rodents. Currently she is a Realtor, who by the way won Second Place in The Woman’s Arm Wrestling competition in Las Vegas, and promises she won’t let anyone “twist your arm.” She is also a stand-up comic on the weekends, drawing from her varied background of jobs. This is her first novel.

Order at the author’s “adopted local bookstore” RJ JULIA!
https://www.rjjulia.com/book/9781732743496

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Paddling With Spirits: A Solo Kayak Journey
by Irene Skyriver

Inspired partly by her own spirit of adventure, and partly by the stories of her native coastal ancestors, Irene Skyriver celebrated her fortieth year of life with a solo kayak voyage, paddling from Alaska to her home in Washington State’s San Juan Islands. Paddling with Spirits: A Solo Kayak Journey interweaves the true account of her journey with generational stories handed down and vividly reimagined. Beginning with her great-grandmother’s seduction of an Indian fighter turned trader, and following her ancestors on both sides through oil booms, orphanages, wartime romances, dance halls and cattle ranches, Paddling with Spirits dips like a paddle itself between the stories of those who inspired her, and Irene’s own journey down a lonely coast. As she encounters harsh weather, wolves, bears, whales, and the wild beauty of the coastal waters, she reflects upon her own life and the lives of the many people she meets along the way before her final, triumphant return home. Paddling with Spirits is a wild, brave, and thrillingly original adventure.

“In this book the long, restless boundary between ocean and land becomes a road of discovery for an intrepid paddler traversing the liminal space between present and past, between the visible world and the unseen resonance of her ancestry. With “every stroke of the paddle away from shore,” Skyriver plunges deeper into telling the legacy of her familial links to this coast. Her account alternates between stages in her pilgrimage through the water, and fictionalized stories from her kin. In prose that sparkles with bold strokes, this story is told as the journey is taken: with every splash of Skyriver’s muscular observation, story, and thought, the reader glides forward over glittering waters.” —Kim Stafford, author of Having Everything Right: Essays of Place

A Washington native, Irene Skyriver was born in Port Townsend and raised in the country. She moved with her children and horses to Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands, thirty-eight years ago. On the island she lived off-the-grid and as a single parent, spending most of her early years growing a garden and letting the outdoors and beaches be her family’s sanctuary, inspiration and teacher. Skyriver organized parades for Earth Days, International Women’s Days, and was one of the early founders and shapers of the Summer and Winter Solstice celebrations, as well as Passage Rites ceremonies for the youth. A poet, dancer, and a singer of traditional “Earth Circle Songs,” writing came later for her, mostly because one has to sit down to do it! Irene received a full fellowship to Fishtrap Writers Conference based on a submission from Paddling With Spirits. This was followed by a grant to finish the work. In between involvement in community, her market garden, and milking goats, she plans to sit down and accomplish these new writing endeavors and is at work on a novel.

Visit the author’s website: https://www.ireneskyriver.com
Watch the wonderful book trailer (starring her daughter, Summer!):

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Clothesline Religion, poems 
by Megan Buchanan

Clothesline Religion chronicles twenty years worth of adventures in the life of an artist as young single mother.

Megan Buchanan, a poet and professional dancer, gave birth to a daughter at 22, lived abroad in Ireland and France, and came back home again to Southern California and the mountains of the Southwest. This debut poetry collection spans wild open roads, backyard vegetable gardens, Irish pubs, country dance halls, Vermont screen-porches, midnight river valleys, artist studios, and the world of waking dreams. Buchanan’s poems offer fierce evidence of what she calls “ordinary magic” ―and what others might call mindfulness―discovering gratitude, the path of recovery, and a mother’s deep joy.

Megan Buchanan is a teaching artist, performer, and dancemaker. A graduate of Occidental College, Megan studied urban and environmental policy before earning her graduate degree in English at Northern Arizona University. Born in California in 1973, she has lived for long stretches in Ireland, the mountains of the southwest, and New England. Her work has been supported the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, and the Vermont Studio Center. Her poems have been published in The Sun Magazine, A Woman’s Thing, make/shift, Dream Closet: Meditations on Childhood Space (Secretary Press), Eating Her Wedding Dress: An Anthology of Poems About Clothing (Ragged Sky Press), and other journals. She lives in southern Vermont with her two children.

Visit the author’s website at www.meganbuchanan.net

And a BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OUR OTHER AUTHOR/MOMS!!! Last, but not least, an homage to our Mother Earth . . . here is a photo of GWP poet, Megan Buchanan, in a dance performance (I call this “Blessing the Earth/Water is Life”).

Thanks for supporting our small and growing press! 

Interview with GWP author Irene Skyriver

This interview was conducted by GWP associate editor, Evelyn Yielding, a student at Eastern Washington State University, formerly at Bennington College (where she was a GWP intern).

1.   Paddling with Spirits is your very first book. Was there a turning point in your life that made you want to write down this story?

A 2018 Nautilus Book Award Silver Winner.

Well, I’d never planned to write about my kayak journey, but then I decided it would be a nice thing for me to write down for my children’s sake. And doing so, I thought it would also be a good time to tell them as much as I knew about our family. Because my family and ancestors had so much to do with my journey in terms of how I was thinking of them as I paddled, the two stories went well together— that’s when I decided to do it. 

I started writing as my mother was dying, and that was also when I got my first computer. She was bedridden, but I was there in vigil and so I had the time to work on my ideas of my book then. This was a number of years after my actual journey.

 

2. When did you first start to write things down? 

Well, I kept a journal on my solo paddle but as for the book, 

I like to say, it has been a “dozen years of Januaries” because January is the only time of the year I’m not too busy with outdoor things.

3. What did you do to prepare for you kayaking journey? 

Well, because I live on an island, I’ve always thought it would be best to have a kayak, because, then I knew I could get away on an adventure at any time, without gasoline, without a car— just pull my boat into the water and have an adventure! So, a kayak was one of my earliest purchases, even though I was without a car at that time.

And then, as a result of having my kayak, I did get to explore the islands in our archipelago. Later, I got together with my husband, and we paddled up into the wild areas of Vancouver Island, on the west side, and that prepared me for the kinds of seas that I knew I would encounter in Alaska.

But, I couldn’t plan this solo journey until my children were grown up. I had been a single parent for almost twelve years, and I had a strong impulse to be sure, that if I died, they’d get along okay without me. So, that’s why I had to wait.

4. Do you still kayak today?

Yes.

5. Do you plan on going on any more kayaking journeys? 

Yes, we are planning a big journey next summer. We have a family paddle that we’re going to do on the west side of Vancouver Island. My second grandson is doing a Rites of Passage out there. We’re going to isolate him somewhere for three days, then reconnect and celebrate his Coming of Age on a wild beach out there.

6. What are the challenges of living on Lopez Island? 

I guess the tourists and the loss of waterfront areas to roam and enjoy. Decades ago it was quieter. The land now, is all bought up and so there are now challenges being able to be in the wild places we use to visit, without someone owning and fencing-off the property. 

Washington State doesn’t even allow its citizens access to beaches, most other states like Oregon, California and Alaska allow the beaches for everyone as a public domain, but in Washington, the wealthy can and do own them. All the places we used to go on Lopez for picnics, or walks are all privately owned now. There’s very few places left. And so, in the summer months when there are lots of tourists, the parks are always jam-packed with people. We locals don’t go to the beaches in the summertime. This is another reason why the kayak is important because I can get away from the shore and head off somewhere else.

Irene Skyriver on the state of Washington ferry to Lopez Island, her home. Photo by GWP editor, Evelyn Yielding.

7. How did you research your ancestors’ stories? 

Well, first of all, I had a lot of stories handed down to me from my family. I also traveled to the locations where my ancestors had lived to get a feel and understanding of them in their environment and so I did fly to Alaska to visit relatives in Cordova and also to the historic Native village-site of Katalla. It is completely wild in that location now, not a trace of the former village. I also stayed for a summer with the Tlingit’s of Yakatat, Alaska, where I lived among elders and learned more about my Tlingit culture.

Also, there were the National Archives at Sand Point area of North Seattle, where I obtained a lot of the archival information about the Indian school where my dad’s dad was sent, as well as all of his siblings. There were also letters in those archives where my grandfather as a child corresponded between his father and the Indian school through the years.

8. What have you learned journeying from Alaska to Washington? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

  No, I felt like it was perfect. I wouldn’t have done anything differently— everything went amazingly well. I felt like I had been well-prepared. I mailed myself packages of food along the way. I didn’t even need some of those— the kayak can carry a lot, plus I took a fishing pole. I was able to catch a lot of fish for my meals!  

In those days, I had no cellphone, or any form of communication at all, with the exception, that I occasionally got on a fishing boat and used their marine radio to call home. But, I didn’t miss any of that either— I was totally happy. The whole reason of getting away is “getting away”! I didn’t want anything more than reaching out to my family occasionally to let them know that I was okay and checking to see if they were okay.

9. You’ve obviously discovered some amazing family history. Is there anything that surprised you that you feel comfortable sharing? 

 What I was delighted and surprised about was the information I gathered from the National Archives, which, through letters, transportation receipts and other items, really gave me the actual words of some of my ancestors’. To see their words and understand their situation—these children being in an Indian school in Oregon after their Native mother died— those were real tangible bits of information that helped me understand more deeply. Also, travelling to different locations (where my ancestors lived)—such as Alaska and Alberta. Alberta being the place my mother’s mother was taken to from Neah Bay WA., as a child and just to imagine growing up in the evergreens of this state and suddenly being taken to the grasslands of Alberta, where it was incredibly different, I could better understand the difficulty of that for her.

And, some little tidbits of information about my great grandfather who manned the trading post up in Alaska. I found his military records and so it showed his service under George Custer and Nelson Miles during the Indian Wars because there was his payroll, before my very eyes! Also, there were some old magazine articles of his oil discovery days in Alaska.

10. What were the Indian schools? 

When the white people took over North America, of course, there were all sorts of injustices done to the Native people. They wanted the Indian children to go Indian schools to learn English and taught trades. They were forbidden to speak their languages. 

And in my Grandfather’s case, they were sent there by their father, because he couldn’t take care of all the children on his own after their Native mother died. Because my grandfather had a white father and a native mother, he and his siblings could speak English, so it wasn’t quite as traumatic for them as for most of the native kids that were forced to attend. 

There was a lot of pressure to send Indian children to boarding schools. They wanted to break the Indian and turn them into people that wouldn’t resist the white culture.

11. In Paddling with Spirits, you remark on the kindness of fisherman and other strangers. Have these positive experiences changed the way you think about people?

As I said in the book, my solo journey re-affirmed my love of people. I always liked people— I grew up in the small town of Port Townsend, Washington. You waved and smiled at everyone who walked past. That’s how Lopez has been too. But as time has gone by, populations have grown like crazy in these places, and things are going all sour in the world. So, the opportunity to put myself in a vulnerable solo kayaking situation actually was a re-affirming of the goodness of people. People are generally kind and want to help. 

I just also want to say that in having published my book, I’m experiencing that same thing again. Lots of years have gone by since my journey, I’ve been very blessed by the kindness of strangers, just sharing with me, sweet compliments about my book. I’m really shy— I’ve never really written before. And so I was insecure about my offering as a writer. To have people positively embrace it, was like a second reawakening to my love of people again. You know, I live a kind of cloistered life. I have a big family and I’m pretty content with just growing my garden and having my family near. So, to be thrust out into the public again and just seeing how wonderful people are— I’ve always known that, but you can get kind of caught up on modern society’s troubles and anguish.

12. You’ve been a part of different kinds of protests, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Kayaktivist, irene Skyriver at the Bay of Seattle flotilla in 2015 protesting Shell.

Since I’ve been involved with writing Paddling with Spirits, I really haven’t had the time to sink into other kinds of issues, but my heart is in the place of wanting to protect the Earth— I don’t care as much about any other issue. The Earth is our Mother, and if She doesn’t survive, nothing will! So, I think that’s of primary importance.

So, I’ve been involved in some kayaking protests in Anacortes (oil refinery town and our ferry terminal town) as well as down in Seattle to oppose the Shell Oil exploration platform’s plan for drilling in the Arctic. Also, I have gone to Standing Rock, which was the ginormous Native gathering aimed at preventing construction of the oil pipeline coming through their land in North Dakota. That was a deeply emotional and beautiful experience and I was so grateful to be a part of it. 

I would go again to stand with Native communities, because their heart and mine, are the same with regards to saving our Earth. We really need to be focusing our attention on producing less oil and more sustainability. I’m committed to that fight but not able to be very politically active as I promote my book.

13. What advice would you have for someone who is researching their family history? 

Most importantly, talk to their parents before they die. I tell that to everybody— ask every question you think of, because once they’re gone you can’t ask those questions anymore. And so, talk to all your relatives. Everyone has a different take on things— the more information you get, the better off you’ll be before they pass away. 

I’ve noticed from my own experience, even in my own large family, we all had different experiences. It’s said, you can never step into the same river twice and the same is true for families. Each child is born into a different and changing circumstance. So, it’s also good to speak with your siblings, because they may have had experiences or information that you never even imagined. 

There are also resources accessible online. I think it’s also important to go to the places where your family originated, so you really know what you’re talking about from a visual and visceral standpoint.

14. I’ve noticed that throughout your book, songs are often sang in times of adversity. This may not be intentional, but why do you think people through Paddling with Spirits go back to music in difficult times? 

Songs have always carried cultures and helped people through troubling times, such as the Civil Rights movement, and the songs we share as a nation through the ages— such as Pete Singer’s “This Land is your Land,” or the Vietnam War era songs of resistance.

We are moving away from the unifying experience of being held in a society by the sharing of songs. We’re more fragmented now. We’re not held by the common theme of certain songs that unify us as a people. Tribes had that. Songs told the stories and struggles of their people, particularly their mythological and origin songs. This was handed down generation by generation. As long as I’ve lived on Lopez, we’ve done Rites of Passage for young teens, which is one of the times we share our Circle Songs. The children know these songs from their toddler days. We sing these circle songs for birthdays, weddings, deaths, whatever. There are circle songs for every occasion!

It helps to live in one place and share traditions. As a society, we’re going off in different directions and we don’t stay where we’re born. People are starting to search for that— they’re beginning to understand that they want a community where everyone has known each other since they were babies. Sharing in struggles and sadness in good times and bad times as a group: a tribe. Songs can be powerful and bonding, a shared inspiration. You know, that’s something people innately want.

15. In your 700 mile solo paddle from Alaska, what was your most challenging stretch of water? 

So, it would be where I decided, after finishing the narrow confines of the Granville Channel—and it opens up into an intersection of waterways called Right Sound, I could have continued down a nearly identical waterway called Princess Royal Channel. However, at that point I decided instead to paddle where it was wilder, and so I struck out for the outer exposed coast. It was about a three or four-day part of my journey—and those days were probably my most physically challenging. That’s when I also failed to find a passage, which meant I had to spend more days in these very wild conditions. There were other points that were wild and really called on me to be very attentive, but that was probably the most challenging. But, as far as wildlife, I did not fear the bears, wolves or whales I encountered along the way. They were not threatening.

GWP associate editor, Evelyn Yielding, on the ferry to tiny Lopez Island with the author.

16. One thing that I was incredibly impressed by was the amount of fish you caught in Alaska. It’s half-impossible to catch anything in Puget Sound.  There’s nothing there! 

See, it’s the same here now. These waters look beautiful, but they’re empty. It’s really sad. Everything’s been overfished and mismanaged. It’s like a marine desert out here. Everything is just gone— it’s why the whales are dying: they need salmon, and there’s no feeder-fish for the salmon. Up there in Alaska, it’s still relatively wild and there’s still more fish. I wasn’t fishing for salmon, per say— I was happy enough with bottom fish.

Evelyn: At my high school, we had a fishing class: twenty-two kids out for a month on the water, and they never caught a single fish! 

Irene: Yeah, I know that’s sad for me, too. I take my grandkids out and obviously, there’s fun in just the act of fishing, but it’s a lot better if you catch stuff.

My eighteen-year-old grandson caught those Atlantic salmon that got loose from the farmed salmon pens. He started seeing all these salmon at the water’s surface and he ran home and grabbed his fishing pole and caught a bunch but that was before any of us heard about the disaster of the farmed salmon pen collapse.

18. So, your kids have obviously inspired you to write down your journey? 

Well, yes, my initial desire was to write this for them, but as I got further into the writing, it was suggested that it “could be a book.”  People are always curious about the journey when they hear about it, so it was fun for me to put it down in writing, but it was something I didn’t even know I was going to do for a long time, I just never really thought of it.

19. How do you get up in the morning? 

Well, morning is not my easiest. Not that I dislike the mornings— I get up fairly early. I milk the goats in the morning and that’s how I basically wake myself up and every morning as I milk, I sing to my goats— circle songs and any other songs that cross my mind. But I’m not the sort of person that gets up bright and bushy tailed and ready to run around and meet people and do things. I like to have a quiet morning— but once that part of my day is done, I’m ready for anything!

20. So, you have goats. Do you have any other animals? 

Irene with some of her baby goats on Lopez Island, Washington.

Well, I’ve had horses most of my life, but I don’t right now. I’ve always had a dog ever since I was a little child, but my last dog died a couple years ago. We’re kind of on a really fixed income, so even just the idea of buying dog food for a new dog— and I really don’t believe in junk animal food— I believe in organic food for myself and family as well for our animals. I buy or grow organic feed for my goats, cats, pigs and chickens and we sell our organic eggs. That’s a part of our income.

 

 

21. What do you garden? 

I grow about eighty percent of the food we eat— we have a freezer, and we usually raise a pig, too. So, we have a freezer with pork, chicken and venison. And I buy fish from our local fishermen when he brings it ashore and I smoke a lot of that.

The author at her garden on Lopez Island.

So, we have fresh and smoked fish. Aside from that— I have a really big garden and I sell produce all summer to the local gas station store. I’ve been doing that for decades. I make my own wine and cider— I grow my own grapes, we have a big apple orchard and I make hard cider from my apples. We put-up a lot of pears and apples and squash and potatoes, garlic— you know, things that keep through the winter. In the garden itself, here in the PNW, things tend to survive through the winter, like I have a garden right now full of greens like parsley, kale and chard. Nice, edible greens! I grow gunnysacks full of onions that keep through the winter until the next crop through the winter. Our land was bought in the 1960’s when it was very cheap, so we are land-rich but low income.

Mostly, what we spend our money on luxury items like coffee, and because I don’t have to buy any dairy, I make my own kefir and we have fresh goat milk. I don’t make cheese, but my neighbor does. We buy nuts and coffee and sugar and flour, butter, toilet paper— I always try to imagine what would happen if we were ever to be completely cut off, financially or otherwise. I would feel fairly comfortable, although I would certainly miss some things but, I’d still be able to kayak!

Watch the gorgeous book trailer by clicking on the photo above.