Something Delicious This Way Comes

~~~
Day’s Verse:
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Isaiah 52:7
~~~

My latest foray into yeast breads:
Challah Bread

This challah bread recipe involved much more waiting and more complicated steps than the previous two recipes. (By the way, if my writing sounds terrible and florid at the same time, chalk it up to my current reading material: Clive Cussler’s classic stink bomb Dragon, which has so much bad writing that Ian finally asked me to please stop sharing choice portions out loud because I was reading the entire book to him.) I waited for 15 minutes between bouts of adding flour, plus of course the usual 1.5-hour yeasty-beasty rising wait, but then after I braided it and applied the first coat of egg whites, it spent another 1.5 hours rising before I applied the second egg white coat. Then the loaf baked in a mere 20 minutes rather than taking 35 to 40 minutes as the recipe predicted. The half-sesame seed application results from some dissension among parties I polled. I attribute this to Mom’s convection oven, which cooked it to a beautiful even golden all around. All told I spent about 4 hours on the bread, far too much time for a weekday activity, but an incredibly satisfying way to spend the time.

In general I find producing something tangible to show for my efforts — and this bread took effort, between all the kneading and then whipping the egg whites into a froth with a little tiny whisk, besides all the time invested — feels far more satisfying than producing something intangible, like a Word document or a computer program. For example, I feel prouder of this loaf of bread than of my NaNoWriMo novel, even though the novel took many more hours. To me there’s just nothing like holding something I made from scratch in my hands. Or better yet, tasting something delicious I made from scratch. Mmmmmm. Nothing beats homemade bread, I tell you.

I also made 2 loaves of banana nut chocolate chip bread, of which 1/2 of one loaf remains. That was just quick bread — and now, having ventured in to yeast bread land, I understand why they call bread that only takes an hour and a half from prep to done “quick.”

KF quality

It Takes a Community to Build a Program

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Day’s Verse:
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:3-5
~~~

If I had to sum up my first week as an AmeriCorps intern with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington in one word, I’d have to choose “exhausting” – in the best possible sense, of course. I attribute part of that to the challenge of my40-mile-a-day bicycle commute, but starting my new job really exhausted me emotionally.

Do you remember beginning your job? The first few months felt tumultuous, confusing, and disjointed; you wondered if you’d ever fit in, let alone be productive. I overcome the difficulty of that initial start-up period by working harder than ever, pushing over the painful learning curve like it’s a big but surmountable hill, even if the crest remains out of sight for now.

As a result, this first week I threw myself into working with Bicycle Alliance staff to determine what my job would entail, begin establishing what will work and what to avoid, and, most of all, to contacting people around the country already doing the same thing I’m doing now. I spoke with Charlie at Mayor Daley’s Bicycle Ambassadors in Chicago, with Breen at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and with Shane at MassBike. I met a number of other wonderful AmeriCorps interns at Transportation Advocacy Day in Olympia. A librarian with the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Resource Center Lending Library recommended a number of invaluable resources for starting a volunteer program. In addition to receiving all sorts of valuable advice, the generosity of spirit all these people exhibited, their willingness to share their time and interests with me, a complete stranger, overwhelmed me. They will prove invaluable allies throughout the following months.

As a result of all this generosity, I find myself finishing my first full week with the Bicycle Alliance brimming with ideas. Some may prove too big to implement in my short AmeriCorps tenure at the Bicycle Alliance, but I’m confident that some will come to fruition. It’s that hope for the future that keeps me pushing through the exhaustion, both physical and emotional, of this first week.

[Note: Also posted on Mountain Talk, the Northwest Service Academy blog]

KF quality

Growing Pains

~~~
Day’s Verse:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
John 3:16-17 (context)
~~~

Since starting my job last Wednesday, I keep finding myself opening Blogger…and never quite getting around to writing a blog. In fact, my schedule has now contracted from “Totally wide open” to “Barely time to brush my teeth.” Last night, for example, I arrived home at 6:45, showered, ate dinner, and started reading a really bad Clive Cussler book. By 8:05 my eyelids had started sliding down and I don’t think I made it to 8:30. Eventually I dragged myself out of bed long enough to brush my teeth, after which I fell asleep and slept like a log (writing that I have to wonder: What do logs sleep like? Unmoving? Because in general I’d say logs don’t sleep, so sleeping like one doesn’t really make sense.) until my 5:30 alarm.

Today, however, I did a mixed commute, biking a mere 8.5 miles to the Bellevue Transit Center and finishing with a 30-minute bus ride. The advantage of this procedure was that I arrived at work early enough so as to leave before 5:00 pm (I’m finding that I like even a few days of an actual 9 – 5 schedule about as much as I like scrubbing toilets. Possibly a bit less than that, actually). I arrived home about 6:00 pm and — check it out — I’m still awake and perky at 7:20 pm. If this doesn’t seem like an achievement, try riding 20 miles twice, eight hours apart, and see when you feel like falling asleep that night.

As I just mentioned, I just started these shenanigans last Wednesday. Already I’m encountering some difficulties getting actual hard and fast borders established around my job. Right before I left I saw an email from the Executive Director to the board in which she described my job… completely unlike what I thought my job was. Hmmm. Before I go haring off in the wrong direction, I think I’m going to need to confirm with everybody at the Bike Alliance about what my actual role is and, more importantly, what it is not. This kind of conversation makes me feel like I have worms in my socks, but the next 10 months won’t be pretty if I avoid this. Ick.

On a brighter note, here’s another picture from this weekend’s sunset photo shoot. None of them turned out breathtaking, but a number came out fairly nice.

Waverly Park Sunset 1

KF quality

Growing Pains

~~~
Day’s Verse:

~~~

Since starting my job last Wednesday, I keep finding myself opening Blogger…and never quite getting around to writing a blog. In fact, my schedule has now contracted from “Totally wide open” to “Barely time to brush my teeth.” Last night, for example, I arrived home at 6:45, showered, ate dinner, and started reading a really bad Clive Cussler book. By 8:05 my eyelids had started sliding down and I don’t think I made it to 8:30. Eventually I dragged myself out of bed long enough to brush my teeth, after which I fell asleep and slept like a log (writing that I have to wonder: What do logs sleep like? Unmoving? Because in general I’d say logs don’t sleep, so sleeping like one doesn’t really make sense.) until my 5:30 alarm.

Today, however, I did a mixed commute, biking a mere 8.5 miles to the Bellevue Transit Center and finishing with a 30-minute bus ride. The advantage of this procedure was that I arrived at work early enough so as to leave before 5:00 pm (I’m finding that I like even a few days of an actual 9 – 5 schedule about as much as I like scrubbing toilets. Possibly a bit less than that, actually). I arrived home about 6:00 pm and — check it out — I’m still awake and perky at 7:20 pm. If this doesn’t seem like an achievement, try riding 20 miles twice, eight hours apart, and see when you feel like falling asleep that night.

As I just mentioned, I just started these shenanigans last Wednesday. Already I’m encountering some difficulties getting actual hard and fast borders established around my job. Right before I left I saw an email from the Executive Director to the board in which she described my job… completely unlike what I thought my job was. Hmmm. Before I go haring off in the wrong direction, I think I’m going to need to confirm with everybody at the Bike Alliance about what my actual role is and, more importantly, what it is not. This kind of conversation makes me feel like I have worms in my socks, but the next 10 months won’t be pretty if I avoid this. Ick.

On a brighter note, here’s another picture from this weekend’s sunset photo shoot. None of them turned out breathtaking, but a number came out fairly nice.

Waverly Park Sunset 1

KF quality

First Ever Bike Class!

~~~
Day’s Verse:
Listen, far-flung islands,
pay attention, faraway people:
God put me to work from the day I was born.
The moment I entered the world he named me.
He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate.
He kept his hand on me to protect me.

Isaiah 49:1-2ish (context)
~~~

On Friday I will co-teach my first-ever bike-related class with Every. The Bicycle Alliance has partnered with Commute Seattle to do a one-hour brown-bag lunch class on winter bike commuting. Here are the details:

Commute Seattle is hosting a Winter Bike Seminar on Friday, January 29th to discuss the best practices for winter bike commuting. Bike commuting experts Every Day and Katie Ferguson from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington will offer tips for staying safe, navigating dark streets, and staying warm and dry in the rain. This is a chance to learn tips and tricks to best outfit yourself and your bicycle to make bike commuting an enjoyable way to get to work year round.

All attendees will receive a Commute Seattle bike light and will be entered into a drawing to win a $25 REI gift certificate.

• When: Friday, January 29th, 12:00pm-1:00pm
• Where: GGLO Space at the Steps; (1301 First Ave, Level A Enter through door located about 1/4 of the way down the Harbor Steps)

Seattle Bike Maps will be available as well as other maps and handouts on commuting resources.

Bring your lunch, your experience, and your questions!

This event is free, but please register by RSVPing to info *at* commuteseattle.com.

I have officially started the internship as of last Wednesday, and although I continue to flail and feel unsure of what exactly I’m doing, I also am starting to see a vague outline of what I’m aiming for. Right now I am looking to talk to managers of well-run volunteer programs to pick their brains about what works, what doesn’t work, how they’d do what I have to do. If you have any nominations for nonprofits with great volunteer programs, please let me know.

In other news, Dad and I went to Waverly Park in Kirkland and took pictures this weekend. Here are some results.

Spider web:
Waverly Park Web

Sparkly:
Dock at Sunset

Lighted up:
Dock Lights

KF quality

Almost Famous

~~~
Day’s Verse:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
John 1:1-2
~~~

The Dalles Chronicle wrote an article on my AmeriCorps group’s Martin Luther King Jr. day service project. We’re practically famous!

Updated to add: We *are* famous — we made it into the White Salmon Enterprise, too!

More news later. Just a quick note: I started full-time at BAW on Wednesday. Looks like long days with the full round-trip commute.

KF quality

Still AmeriCorps Training

~~~
Day’s Verse:
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
you islands, and all who live in them.

Isaiah 42:10
~~~

This AmeriCorps training — which doesn’t end until Tuesday morning, by the way — feels almost exactly like going on state trip, except with the addition of beer and without the junior high hormones. For those of you who never went on state trip, it’s like going to camp, except you drive around a specific portion of Washington and learn about its features. This “training,” while actually training us on first aid, providing us with the opportunity to spend hours filling out confusing and repetitive government forms, and providing vast volumes of truly spectacular food, also has eerily state trip-like features:

  • We listened to a talk by a Forest Service archaeologist on the native peoples of the Columbia Gorge;
  • We hiked at a local hot hiking spot (Catherine Creek);
  • A forester from a nearby town talked to us about community forests and sustainable logging;
  • Today we hiked up Beacon Rock; and
  • We went on an excellent hours-long tour of Bonneville Dam led by the world’s most patient Army Corps of Engineers/Forest Service employee.

Those location-specific educational activities strongly remind me of state trip. On top of that, a few more things bring state trip to mind:

  • We have spent many hours driving in massive Ford SUVs crammed to the gills with people, much like on state trip, and most reminiscent of all,
  • We all have to negotiate on what music to listen to.

I remember some bitter disputes over music on state trip, but happily in that area, at least, we seem to have matured: Mostly we just listen to whatever the person in the front chooses and I’ve heard no major complaints yet. Also, iPods can hold exponentially more music than a single CD, so eventually most people will hear at least one song they like.

On Friday we spent most of the day in Portland with our sponsors, getting to know them better (which I thought would be superfluous since I’d met Every before but actually turned out very helpful for both of us). Friday night everybody went spent the evening in Hood River drinking; I went along, but only for company. The power went out in downtown Hood River, so we had to migrate a bit. By 9:30 I was ready to leave, and happily a carful of other people felt the same way, so we got back before 11:00. Trout Lake, by the way, is completely isolated. I couldn’t imagine living there.

Saturday we had as a day off, and most people seemed to need it. Hardly anybody dragged out before 9:00 am. I went for a walk around the Natural Area Preserve across the street; it’s one of the last areas where Oregon Spotted Frogs live, although we didn’t see any. We did, however, see evidence of beavers (several small trees felled and dragged away — turns out one of the guys on the hike had spent time giving educational talks about beavers, so he knew a ton about them) and a bald eagle flew by incredibly close. We stood and watched it with our mouths gaping open. Then we went and swung on huge swings and of course the guys pushed each other and then jumped off the swings.

Today I really wanted to go to church, but they had us rolling to Beacon Rock by 9:00 am. We walked up Beacon Rock and then went to the Bonneville Dam for lunch, which we packed ourselves, and a fabulous hours-long tour. The tour guide deserves a medal. She treated us almost exactly like 5th graders, and it worked great. We saw steelhead in the fish ladder, which is apparently unusual for this time of year, as well as a few seal lions, a school of sturgeon with their dorsal fins cutting the water like sharks’ fins, an eagle grabbing a fish, and a number of cormorants (the one that swam by in the fish ladder particularly surprised us). The tour guide spoke comprehensively on salmon, their life and reproductive cycles, the impact of dams on the salmon, the sea lion problem, and anything else salmon-related. Then she led us to the dam and educated us on its workings, took us to see the turbines, and had everybody play-act what happened in the dam. In all we spent quite a few hours there.

Here are some pictures from the Beacon Rock hike. I didn’t take out my filter for fear of dropping it in the high winds. Beacon Rock Switchbacks

Beacon Rock View

Beacon Rock Group Photo

Here are some pictures from the Bonneville Dam, which had carpet I initially thought was hideous, but that turned out to have excellent photographic qualities. Also they had bikes for employees to ride, which totally made my day. Bonneville Dam: Bicycles

Bonneville Dam Tour: Utility Bike

Handles

Bonneville Dam: Color

Bonneville Dam: Color Zoom

And that’s the news from Lake Wobegone.

KF quality