Category Archives: The Next Fifteen Minutes

Meriwether Distillery: The Very Best Use of Your Liver

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Transplants, Avalanche Bombs and Other Adventures

Transplants, Avalanche Bombs and Other Adventures

Five years ago Whitney Meriwether made an amazing sacrifice. He let the surgeons at the Mayo Clinic split him open, take half his liver and give it to my husband in a procedure known as a living donor liver transplantation. I wrote about the transplant–and many other exciting things–in my memoir  (insert shameless plug here).

In other words, Whitney saved John’s life.

I remember driving the two of them home from the hospital after surgery to our little apartment we kept in Rochester, MN during the ordeal and overhearing this conversation (or something like it):

John: Now that we’re out of the hospital, what should we do next?

Whitney: I’ve always wanted to make something, to create something with my hands.

John: You should make vodka!

Maybe that wasn’t the exact words, but you get the gist.

PrintWhitney is a man of his word. Once he sets his sites on something, he’s like a pitbull. He doesn’t let go easily.

Meriwether Distillery is now producing Speakeasy Vodka, and it’s very good. He’s also got a kickstarter campaign going. I encourage you to check it out and support his efforts. Because, after all, vodka is the very best use of a liver. Just saying.

Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter Campaign: Click for More Info

Here’s a little more from their website:

“For this project we are hoping to raise $50,000. This seed money will go to our new distillation equipment and allow us to update and prepare our site for higher production and the addition of three new products to the Speakeasy family in the next twelve months. We appreciate you taking the time to read and thank you for your backing. Please tell anyone and everyone you can think of to check us out. Thanks!”

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We’re ALL Winners: Free E-Books, The Next 15 Minutes

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Get Your Free E-Book Today

Get Your Free E-Book Today

Today I’m celebrating. My memoir, The Next 15 Minutes, has been honored by the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA) with the Harold Hirsch award for excellence in journalism in the Book category. The Next 15 Minutes, if you’re new here, is the high-octane story of how lessons learned as a ski patroller helped me get through my husband’s harrowing cancer diagnosis. More adventure-story than medical-memoir, this book reveals what it’s like to make the ski industry your life and how to use our voluntary adventures to get through real-life disasters. I’ve always believed that we get out on the edge to see what we’re made of. But we don’t expect to use that expertise in a real emergency. Until we have no other choice.

If you haven’t yet read the book, now’s the time.

Harold_Hirsch

Thanks NASJA!

The Book category is only given every three years. Judges are chosen based on their expertise in the field, and are not members of the organization. The award is named for Harold Hirsch, a long-time ski journalist, and member of the NASJA Board.

I’m thrilled to be honored by NASJA. My late father-in-law, Everett Kircher, was given NASJA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Mammoth, CA in 1999.

My husband and his brother, Steve, accepted the honor in their father’s name. It’s fitting that I received my award in Mammoth 14 years later.

To celebrate, my publisher, Behler Publications, is giving away free e-books of THE NEXT 15 MINUTES today and tomorrow. Just email Lynn Price at: lynn_at_behlerpublications.com (replace “_at_” with @ symbol) and put FREE NEXT 15 MINUTES in the Subject line. Hurry. This special celebration ends tomorrow.

Yea!

Aspen Event to Promote Organ and Tissue Donation

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The 7th Annual Summit for Life Event in Aspen on Dec. 7-8 will raise money and awareness for organ and tissue donation. I participated last year and many of you made donations in my honor. This is a great event, full of energy and enthusiasm to celebrate second chances. My husband was given a second chance four years ago. Below is a video from the event last year. See if you can spot my cameo appearance.

This year, I’m making my donation in honor of Chris Klug. In 2000 Chris received a life saving liver donation and then went on to win a bronze medal in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games. When my husband was waiting for his liver transplant and heard about Chris’s story, he was motivated and hopeful. Chris gave John the hope and drive to get through the ordeal. Since meeting Chris and participating last year, I can say he’s one hell of a guy. His enthusiasm for life is infectious. Being a part of Summit For Life last year was fun and exhilarating. It is a celebration of life.

Today Chris heads the Chris Klug Foundation, which promotes donor awareness and puts on great events such as Summit For Life. Today 116,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ donation. One donor can save 8 lives through organ donation and enhance 100 lives through tissue donation. 90% of Americans support organ and tissue donation, but only 30% take the necessary steps to becoming a donor. Thanks to people like Chris Klug, this is changing.

Please visit Chris’s donation page and support the cause.

Faux Outdoorsiness

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Early summer sunset over the Cascades

I am flipping through the Sundance catalog in a speedy staccato of magazine pages while sipping a cup of coffee. I don’t want to look at the pile of bills I’ve also retrieved from the mailbox, so instead I glance through the expensive litany of stylized offerings. A person could spend a lot of money to make herself and her home look rugged and outdoorsy. Mountain towns across the west are splattered with distressed barn wood siding and reclaimed flooring. Roofs are pre-rusted and copper gutters are pre-patinaed. Leather jackets and jeans come pre-faded now, rubbed soft by machines instead of greasy palms and cans of Copenhagen. I pick up another catalog full of Carhartt look-alikes (about three times as expensive as the originals). These, too, come pre-softened, complete with fake creases and a tool pocket just the right size for an iPhone.

I am not fooled. This faux outdoorsiness is not the same as the real thing. We want to feel rugged. But not live rugged. We just want to glimpse it from the comfort of our 700 thread-count sheets, not sleep on the ground with the dirt and the mosquitoes.

Camping in the Himalayas

Even as I write this, knowing that the sun will soon fade behind the gunmetal clouds of a PNW winter, I worry that I haven’t slept enough nights on the ground. I haven’t, yet, walked enough trail miles or surfed enough waves or flown enough bush miles. More nights than not this summer, I’ve slept in a comfortable bed. Not once has my puffy jacket saved my life, or have I drank water tinged with iodine. What’s next? Fake Carhartts?

I suppose, I could say I’ve challenged myself in other ways. Not every hike has to turn into an epic. Sometimes you make it home. I could remind myself that I’m not traveling away from my core so much as expanding it. I’m working on a new book; John and I flew to remote places in the Beaver; I rafted the Salmon River; I hiked miles and miles in the Cascades; I spoke to large groups about taking risks and getting through hardship just 15 minutes at a time; we’re saving up for that surf trip to Indonesia next month. This summer was more than just a chance to work-in those old canvas pants. It was an indoor-outdoor kind of summer. Sort of like that polyester carpet from the 70s.

But something inside me yearns for one more cool night under the stars with my hands wrapped around my faded Outward Bound coffee mug. I long to watch the sunset over jagged peaks and crawl into my sleeping bag knowing that I’ve done all that I can do–for the day, for the evening, and in the world. The weekend weather looks good for one more backpacking trip, and my down jacket could use another duct-tape patch or two.

Puffy jackets and coffee mugs

The catalog I have in my hands shows a pretty woman in a red dress and what look like very old cowboy boots that she found in her grandfather’s barn. Except they’re $450. She leans against a faded wood door hanging slightly off its hinges.  I have to admit. The dress is nice. It would be perfect for my friend’s outside wedding coming up in a few weeks. It would project that perfect mix of mountain girl and gauzy femme that my husband claims is my “style”.

By ordering from the catalog I could avoid a trip to the mall. Instead I could drag my husband out for one last night out under the stars.

I pick up the phone and dial the number at the bottom of the page, press my finger against the style number and wait to be connected.

Go With the Flow: A week on the Salmon River

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Salmon River, Idaho

Last week I was reminded how much I love river trips. Winter snows melt into runoff, seep into creeks and become tributaries to large rivers like the Salmon in Idaho. After a few months of rehabbing nagging injuries and dodging summer rains in the PNW, a week of warm weather, good people and splashy whitewater was just the ticket.

The Salmon River is the second deepest river canyon in the Lower 48 and lies within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. We floated the Main Salmon from Corn Creek to Carey Creek, a little over 80 miles of Class III water, beautiful sandy beaches and high canyon walls.

At medium flow, its important to keep the boat in the main current. Since the river is not dammed and river levels fluctuate wildly, the channels are narrow, creating swirly eddies and little ribbons of downriver current. Stay in those and you’ll be fine. Eddy out and you’ll have to pull hard to get back in.

Christina–raft guide, ski patroller and all-around awesome woman

This is my new motto: stay in the current. Or put another way, go with the flow. Thanks to Christina, a fellow ski patroller and guide on this trip, I learned how to row a dory. It is heavier than it looks and rides the waves like a coffin. But you feel the river more intimately. The hydraulics and swirly eddies suck at the edges of the chine, and waves crash against the bow. Face the waves, take them on the chin and you’ll sail through the rapids. But be sure to avoid the rocks. When the river drops away–the horizon line disrupted only by shots of spray and foam–trust your line, point yourself right at it and row like hell.

Of course, we’re only dealing with Class III rapids here, and that makes all the difference. I recently wrote a post about risk taking, and the dance we do around it. Risk makes us feel alive, but can also kill us. It is a strange dichotomy. On my last river trip, I kayaked the Grand Canyon. After swimming through Lava, the biggest rapid on the river, I stepped back from that risk and reevaluated it. Then my husband got sick and my kayak got stolen and I decided I was okay with that.

A girl in her element

The Salmon taught me something else. I don’t have to risk quite so much for an endeavor to be valid. An easier river can bring just as much joy as the most difficult one. I tell beginners skiers this all the time: you don’t have to ski black diamonds to have fun. It’s easier to give this advice than to adhere to it. But I’ll declare it again: I don’t have to take big risks to have a big adventure.

This was also my first time ever being a client on a guided trip. I decided it wasn’t so bad, especially since two of the guides were friends and the whole group came together much like a private trip. Besides that, the food was excellent and I didn’t have to shop or plan for any of it. Nor did I have to clean the gear once the trip ended.

On day 3 of the trip, Evelyn, my ten-year-old step-daughter told me she wished she could stay on the river forever. “No faucets, no showers, and sleeping outside,” were her favorite parts. “I never want to return to civilization.”

Whether on the river or in the frontcountry, there’s always a way to find the main current and simply go with the flow.

Join Me for a Book Reading This Friday

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I will be reading from my book, The Next 15 Minutes this Friday June 29th, 2012 in Redmond, Washington at the RASP (Redmond Association of Spoken Word) monthly event. It starts at 7pm at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center (16600 NE 80th Street).

If you’re in the area, please come and have a listen. I will also be signing and selling books and trying to find a passage that I can real aloud without *crying.

 

*Little known fact about me: I have yet to make it through a reading without cracking, which is why I rarely read and more often do a slideshow, which I have perfected to a science. Don’t ask me why I agreed to do this. I was probably drunk.

P.S. Don’t let this last sentence scare you away. Watching me cry can actually be a fun way to spend a Friday night. Trust me on this one.

Smoothing out the Bumps

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The beach before the erosion

We recently took out the breakwater at our lake house. While our neighbors on each side and most of the residents still have sturdy, wave-reflecting walls along their shoreline, we now have a beach. Big waves created by boat wakes and wind hit our beach now and dissipate, the beach attenuating the disturbance and smoothing it out. Instead of reflecting back the chop, the beach absorbs it, swallows it, takes it on.

But there’s a price for this smoother water. The beach is eroding. She can’t absorb all this disturbance without losing a little of herself. The small pebbles that once stretched twenty feet out into the shallow water have disappeared, and the waves are starting to gouge into the log-and-dirt-hillside. We’re losing land.

I haven’t decided if I’m okay with this yet. Last summer I fretted over it, worrying that winter storms would rip away the logs embedded above the beach. But that didn’t happen. The pebbles are now in a state of happy equilibrium. The logs are firmly in place.

I am this beach. I am soft on the surface, attenuating waves and smoothing out the rough parts of our lives. But I, too, have sturdy logs anchoring me to the land.

The beach on a calm day

When I was a little girl, my father drove our K5 Blazer into a pond. He did it on purpose, trying to prove to my mom that this was “not a Cadillac, Clare. It (was) a four-wheel drive vehicle.” The Blazer almost made it, plowing through the brown water and whining up the far side. When it lost traction and slipped backwards, the water poured through the window, where I stood in the “way back” starting to panic. I’ve never lost my fear of bumpy surfaces. Now the anxiety rises with the waves. Riding in a boat on choppy water is so frightening that I have to grip the seat hard to keep myself from jumping out. Evelyn thinks this is funny—that I would rather swim in the waves and chop then smash through them in a boat.

Watching a boat rock at anchor or worse, on a dock, makes me sick to my stomach. I think of all the things that could go wrong–the dishes that could fall out and smash to shards, the books and papers that could skitter across the floor, the little girls that could drown if water poured in through an open hatch.

Our beach is smoothing out the waves. That is what beaches do. These pebbles absorb the power and send the water back out.

I want to learn to do this. Perhaps this summer I can practice this calm, not only at the beach but in my life as well. I will try to be a little bit more like this beach. I will try to stay smooth, stay calm and be the place where others come to feel a little peace.