Grid Legs

Day’s Verse:
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him.
Ephesians 1:3

This is what you get when you wear lightweight long pants on an extremely rainy team ride. The pants have an almost indistinguishable grid pattern of thickness in the fabric, with slightly thinner lines and slightly thicker squares.

Rainy Ride Legs

After 73.3 miles of drenching my legs in water and road filth, apparently enough dirt had worked its way into the slightly thinner sections to leave a nice grid on my legs after I removed the pants. What this picture doesn’t show is how tired I was when I dripped my way home, and the misery of post-ride sore knees that has come to haunt me again. Ian did get me a Kidd Valley milk shake and fries, though, which sure helped me feel better.

If you’re wondering, don’t worry, I had shorts on for the picture. Also, don’t mind the stubbly appearance of my legs — that’s an optical illusion created by the camera’s focus. Really. And, last but not least, I’ll be working on alleviating some of that wintry pastiness next week on our vacation in Hawaii.

‘Tis the Season for Polling

Day’s Verse:
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.
Ephesians 6:13-ish

Robo-poller: This is the National Marriage Organization for Marriage calling to poll you on your views of marriage.
Me [Thinking to myself]: Hang up? Nah, what the heck, I’ll be a statistic.
Robo-poller: Do you believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman?
Me: No.
Robo-poller: Are you male?
Me: No.
Robo-poller: Are you over the age of 50?
Me: No.
Robo-poller: Thank you for your time. [Click]

And that was the end of that conversation.

Another robo-poller wanted to know my opinions on the national debt crisis (even this wording screamed “Republican poll!”), and said I would get a FREE two-day cruise in the Bahamas just for answering 30 seconds’ worth of questions. I declined to participate by hanging up, but really I need to just take the phone off the hook, because by the end of the day it’ll be six more polls or political ads.

I am grateful that our lack of TV spares us from the worst of the TV ads, though. And listening almost exclusively to NPR insulates us from nasty radio ads. Some people would suggest that it also insulates us from the “fair and balanced” views espoused by those worthies to the right of us on the political spectrum. Maybe so, but most of the NPR shows work to get real, serious experts from both the Republican and Democratic camps when evaluating the political situation.

I hope I’m not burying my head in the sand too much, but realistically, studies have shown that we choose to believe what we want, and then find evidence to support that belief. Contrary evidence may crop up, but often contrary evidence actually reinforces a belief. So I have to accept that my views are biased, that I’m seeking news outlets that fit my worldview, that I can’t make a truly bias-free decision, and I have to try my best to overcome that by deliberately being open-minded. Which is not to say that I’d choose to vote for Newt — but that’s a whole different ball o’ wax.

Things That Make Me Happy

Day’s Verse:
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
1 Cor 13:12

Okay, I meant to post this when Ian got them, back in December, but I’ve been really tired and had a hard time getting myself to do anything other than take super long naps. Anyway, better late than never. Somebody in Ian’s office gave out Christmas presents to every one in the office. Here’s what Ian got:
Thanks, Santa
Thanks, Santa. We were really hoping for gummy hotdogs seasoned with Tabasco sauce from shot-sized containers.

More recently amusing experience: By Sunday, the weather switched from snow to steady rain and high winds. That didn’t deter our intrepid neighbor, though:
January BBQ
Dang it, he’s grillin’ even if he can’t keep his umbrella open (it collapsed a second after I took the picture).

Finally, Ian found this in a library book. Here’s the front:
Front

The back:
Back
Apparently the prescription’s for you and ONLY YOU… and all the other people who have checked out that book since April.

Last but not least, a seriously cool time-lapse video of Yosemite. Watch it full-screen.

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

Family Update

Day’s Verse:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

1 Cor 13:4

Ian and I have been a family for 8 years, 5 months, and 13 days. In all that time, we’ve kept our responsibilities to a minimum — one drought-resistant plant and an adopted beta fish (Mr. Fishy; may he rest in peace). As a result, we could always pretty easily zip off and do whatever struck our fancy.

That’s all changing, though, because in mid-August Ian and I are going to be joining the ranks of the chronically sleep- and time-deprived: We’re going to be parents. Yep, we’re pregnant, and that means we’re finally taking the pressure off of our siblings and fulfilling our parents’ long-standing desire to become grandparents.

Q & A With Katie

Q: Are you excited?
A: I am tired and nauseous. Excited hasn’t quite entered into the picture yet. We do believe we’ll be good parents, though, and we look forward to raising our child.

Q: Does that mean you’re going to stop biking now?
A: Nope, but thanks for asking. I am, however, working with a certified cycling coach, a nutritionist, and a doctor to make sure I stay healthy. I will continue to ride for as long as it’s comfortable and safe — hopefully all the way through.

Q: What about bike racing?
A: I plan on doing two time trials early in the season (late February/early March), as those involve riding alone, the cyclist against the clock. However, pregnant women are banned from racing by general consensus. Other women don’t want to race a pregnant woman and cause her to crash. I plan on using membership on a team to help me get back in shape after little Ferguson arrives.

Q: Did you intend to get pregnant now?
A: Generally, yes, I wanted to start have kids before I turned 30, and we’re in a good situation for it right now. Specifically this year, not exactly; I would have liked to try racing. But that’ll be there in the future. I’m grateful that it was fairly easy for us, and so far pregnancy hasn’t been overly intrusive in my life. (I’ll appreciate that while I can!)

Q: Are you going to find out if it’s a boy or girl?
A: Ian likes to plan ahead, so yes. Whether we’ll share that with people is a different story. Feel free to suggest baby names, but keep this article in mind if you do.

OK, that’s all the time we have for questions right now. Other questions, write ’em down and we’ll see if we can work answering them into our busy schedule.

My Week in Pictures

Day’s Verse:
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Saturday and Sunday, January 14 – 15

(Photos courtesy of a teammate)
Sat Jan 14
A small part of Team Group Health on Orcas Island before setting out on our day’s ride.

Orcas & Mt Constitution
Mt. Constitution, on Orcas Island.

Lopez Ferry
Sunday, the ferry to Lopez Island.

Road

Sunday Jan 15
A dusting of snow on Lopez Island.

Clouds Moving In

Monday through Thursday, January 16 – 19

When Snow Was Exciting
At first the snow was exciting.

Ian Working from Home
Ian got to work from home!

Chilly Hummingbird
Hummingbirds got food despite the lack of natural flower nectar.

Back Yard
More snow kept falling, although not the prodigious volume predicted.

Snowmobiling Neighbor
Our next-door neighbors broke out their snowmobiles for getting around.

Katie & Dad Snowshoeing
Dad and I met up and went snowshoeing.

Dad Snowshoeing

More Snowmobiles
Other people snowmobiled around the neighborhood, including a mom with a kid perched in front of her.

There IS a Hummingbird Here
But then more snow kept falling, after they predicted it’d switch to rain, and we all started getting a little stir-crazy. (There’s an out-of-focus hummingbird perched on some of those little twigs.)

Shoveled...again
We shoveled the driveway and sidewalk three times. My back is not pleased, but at least it was outdoors and productive.

Friday, January 20

After seeing an article in the Seattle Times about a brand-new sea otter pup born earlier this week, Mom and I resolved to get out of the house and take a bus to go see the baby otter (or “fluffy puffy,” as Mom ended up calling it).

This turned out to be quite a trek: I walked 3 miles through a foot of melting, slushy snow to the bus, meeting Mom along the way. Our bus was stuck so we took a different one and got off in Kirkland, instead of going straight to Seattle. That worked, though, because we met up with my friend Rachel in Kirkland and the three of us caught a bus into Seattle. We saw the baby otter, scooped our melted-from-the-cuteness selves off the floor, ate some food, went back for Round 2 of cuteness (awwwwwww), and then went up to Pike Place Market for dried fruit (no success) and chocolate (success). Along the way we splashed through ankle-deep puddles of melting snow and rain, slipped around on extremely slick slush, and turned up our collars against the almost-freezing drenching downpours. The trip to Seattle took about 2 hours and involved walking 3 slushy miles and two buses. The trip home took about 3 hours and included a standing-room only bus that had chains and could only travel up to 30 mph, another mile-long slushy walk, and a ride in Dad’s four-wheel-drive Subaru.

It was all worth it, though.
Baby Otter
Okay, in this picture, the baby does look like an anonymous lump of fur.


Here the mommy otter cleans her baby otter. My camera can’t zoom and focus at the same time, which is really quite inconvenient, but you can kind of get a sense of the cuteness.


Fortunately even though none of my pictures turned out, there are always ones like this one from the Seattle Times.

Wait, Representative Government Works?

Day’s Verse:
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
1 Corinthians 13:3-7

Yesterday I read an article in The Seattle Times about how close Washington State is to passing a gay marriage law. In the article, Senator Rosemary McAuliffe was described as undecided, but likely to support the bill. I double-checked my legislative district, and sure enough, she’s my state Senator. What the heck, I figured, Why not throw in my $0.02 to tip the balance? (And I might as well mix metaphors, while I’m at it.)

The Internet handily provided direct email to her, so I sent off a very brief email. I said:

Dear Senator McAuliffe,

I know that you are a busy person, so I will keep this brief: As one of your constituents, I am writing to encourage you to vote yes on the upcoming gay marriage legislation. It is the right thing to do, and I believe will make life better for many Washingtonians.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best,
[My Full Name & Address]

Not my most eloquent, but at least I said something, right? And I figured I’d either hear nothing, or I’d get a canned reply from her office that told me the six dozen ways she’d done this, that, and the other excellent thing that related to my interest. Nice enough, but nothing interesting.

Instead, within 24 hours, I received the following reply.

[My Full First Name],

Thank you for sharing your support for Marriage Equality. Below I have shared with you a letter I am releasing to the public tomorrow. Thank you again for involving yourself in the legislative process and lending your voice to such a vital cause.

Rosemary

Okay, yes, it’s somewhat canned — almost certainly she had a template pertaining to this topic, and handily inserted my name at the top. But it’s not obviously templated, and it’s definitely a real reply, so I know that my representative heard my view. Attached was the following letter:

The governor recently announced her support of marriage equality. For decades our country has struggled with discrimination in many forms. I am proud that our state has a past of joining together to support equality for women, racial minorities, people with disabilities, and religions — now is the time to support all families with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Separate but equal is yet another form of discrimination. For many people, I know this is a very sensitive issue. I have received many letters, emails and phone calls for and against marriage equality legislation. An overwhelming amount of constituents have sided with my own belief, that all Washington citizens deserve the chance to be equal under the law. We are free to believe whatever we choose however we live in a state and world where our laws protect human rights for all.

A main concern I have heard is the right to religious freedom. This bill includes an important exemption for religious organizations and clergy to continue to exercise religious freedom.

In the past, I have supported civil unions, domestic partnerships, and the efforts of Senator Ed Murray to stand up for equality for same sex couples. We as legislators must be vigilant about protecting all of our citizens against discrimination. I support marriage equality and have signed my name onto this long overdue legislation to ensure all of our children grow up in a society that truly promotes equality.

Rosemary McAuliffe
_________________________________________
Senator Rosemary McAuliffe
State Senator 1st Legislative District
360.786.7600

Well, hey. How cool is that? I am unexpectedly pleased about this whole exchange. Probably my email made no difference in her decision, but just having said something and knowing it got heard — that’s pretty great.

Mostly, to me, the government feels like some vast ship steaming along, unable to stop or change course quickly, driven by momentum to very slow changes even if the rudder changes direction. Politicians are the crew members of the ship, and we’re the passengers. Sharing my views may make one of the crew members pause for a while, or nod and smile, or say something inanely polite, but the ship will just keep chugging along its course, regardless. But in this case, something I — and a bunch of other people in the 1st Legislative District — said influenced the behavior of one of the crew members. That’s how it’s supposed to work, of course, even though it doesn’t always. But I’m pleased it worked this time.

And, of course, I’m hoping to soon celebrate marriage equality in Washington by making some rainbow-colored cake or something.

A Litany of Aches

Day’s Verse:
Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
James 1:12

A few days ago — Thursday evening, perhaps — I thought, “Gee, it’s been a while since I updated my blag. I’ll do something about that tomorrow afternoon.”

The following afternoon, however, found me horizontal on the couch, unable to painlessly move anything below my neck. Sitting up was a trial, as it involves legs and back. Typing — holding my arms out — forget about it. Much better to just lay on the couch and occasionally groan. In fact, it’s only today that I’ve had the oomph to stay upright long enough to blag. No, I didn’t get in a bike crash; and, in fact, I’ve had crashes that left me feeling less battered than I did on Friday evening.

Nope. I went skiing with my friend Ellen.

Although I know Ellen from the bike world — we’ve taught a number of classes together — she is an avid winter sport person. She loves skiing, snowshoeing, anything that involves snow. For our get-together this month, we decided to play to her strengths and head up to the snow. I’ve never skied before, but figured Ellen could teach me. Her family has kids of a variety of ages and sizes, and handily I was able to borrow her daughter’s skis and boots (her daughter, by the way, is going into middle school). Should be an adventure, right?

We optimistically set off from her house at 7:30 am and reached Cabin Creek, up in Snoqualmie Pass, about an hour and fifteen minutes later. We went by Hyak and she said, “We could ski there, but it’s really boring because it’s totally flat. Let’s go to Cabin Creek, where there’s terrain.” I agreed. Little did I know what “terrain” would mean for me, skiing noob that I am.

Here is a picture of Ellen.
Ellen Ski
Doesn’t she look nice, happy, and innocuous? A totally misleading image, as it turns out.

Here’s me, partway through our ski adventure, at Hyak.
Katie Ski
By the time we took this picture, I’d spent a couple hours slipping, sliding, and — most of all — falling on the “terrain” at Cabin Creek. Despite my big smile, I was already getting some inkling that this was going to be a deeply painful experience, and that the pain wouldn’t go away after we got off the skis.

We started out and I skied for about 3 seconds… and then fell on the first gentle slope. I laughed, got up, and started again. And did it again, and again, and again. I couldn’t keep the skis parallel very well, and those inner-thigh muscles soon began indignantly letting me know that I don’t usually use them, and what was I thinking? Although Ellen did her best to teach me, I never really figured out how to turn, go up hill, go downhill, or stop. That, however, didn’t stop us from going up and down hills, around corners, etc., because that’s what “terrain” involves.

At one point, though, I was skiing along by myself, with Ellen off the front making it look easy, and I had a moment of easy grace that felt like flying. It was beautiful, exhilarating, elegant, joyful, fun. In that moment, I understood why people would choose to ski. Then I fell down and that was the end of my epiphany moment.

After about a mile and a half, Ellen asked if I wanted to go into the woods. Sure, I guess, it can’t be worse than what I’m doing now, right? WRONG. The woods were an intermediate skiing course, and it quickly became abundantly clear that there was no way I’d make it. I fell, and fell, and fell — this time on steeper slopes that were harder to recover from. It was really (a) embarrassing, and (b) painful.

At this point, Ellen decided that maybe terrain wasn’t such a great idea for somebody who’d never skied before, and maybe we should try something a little more boring after all. We decamped to Hyak, which was populated almost entirely by retirees and parents with toddlers on skis (who, by the way, still skied better than I did).

So by the time we took the picture of me at Hyak, I’d had my feet slip out from under me pretty much every way you can imagine. In fact, a few times I was astonished that my legs could get into that tangled of a mess. My inner thigh muscles — whatever they’re called — were really hurting by then, from unaccustomed use as well as all those times I ended up doing some ungraceful version of the splits. My ankles and knees were battered and bruised (still are!). My arms and shoulders started getting tired, too, because in addition to falling on them a bunch, I kept catching myself with the ski poles and, frankly, I have a cyclist’s upper body (which is to say, nothing).

Hyak went better, as it was perfectly flat and I skied in the tracks, which requires almost no skiing ability whatsoever — just right for me. I only fell a couple times. Here’s us partway through Hyak.
Katie & Ellen Ski
Ellen was right, though; I’d never skied before, and I still found Hyak boring on the way back. Boring, but not painless. I could feel my legs getting really fatigued, and it got increasingly difficult to control those already-unruly skis. My ankles also really, really hurt where to tops of the boots were, like maybe I’d put the boots on wrong… or maybe just all the falling bruised my ankles badly and I was just starting to feel it.

In any case, we got back to the parking lot, and I took the skis off… and the car was like a million miles away. It looked like a tiny speck, a car you’d see from an airplane during takeoff. I gritted my teeth and walked, every step misery on my ankles. Somehow the distance dilated to be much shorter than it looked originally, so we got to the car without my collapsing in a puddle of exhaustion (and slush). Putting on my regular shoes, which don’t reach my ankles, was heaven.

The drive back to Ellen’s house, and then my drive home, were exercises in stiffening up. By the time I arrived back home, I could hardly pick my legs up, couldn’t lift my left arm or touch my left ankle (and my right arm and ankle were only a little better), and both my knees had swollen up and were covered with bruises. Verdict: Hot soaky bath required. That didn’t really help, though, as we had no hot water. I dragged my carcass to the couch and hardly moved until Ian levered me out to get into bed.

All Friday night, changing position proved to be an exercise in minimizing agony. It was awful. I cannot even express how much pain I was dealing with. It wasn’t unbearable, but it was really, really bad. It was more than just muscle pain; I know what hard exercise does to muscles, and I’m familiar with that feeling. This was worse. I think I must have pulled a few things in all the falling. Fortunately, I’m young and resilient.

I went for my team bike ride on Saturday morning and confirmed that biking muscles and skiing muscles have very little overlap. My legs did feel fatigued, though. Skiing was hard work. When I got off the bike, the pain all came back. I hobbled around groaning the rest of the day. Sunday was the same, but noticeably less so. Today, on Day 3 After, I’m still sore, but I have almost full ranges of movement back.

Now that’s what I call a good time. Oh my, yes. Because as a cyclist, I understand that pain and fun aren’t incompatible. I’m not sure I want to ski again any time soon, but it was really good to do something I’ve never done before and that I’m really terrible at. It was humbling. And everybody can use a good humbling experience now and again.