From the Library

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4,040 pages of reading material I got from the library yesterday. Ian took one look and said, “I don’t think you’ll be able to finish all those in 30 days.” A little quick math tells me that I just need to read about 140 pages a day and I’ll have no trouble. Granted, that’s probably two hours of concentrated reading per day, and it’s true I have already filled up my schedule pretty comprehensively with Benji, biking, and work. But hey, what’s life without a little challenge?

One of these books is a hand-numbered limited edition signed by the author. It seems like a terrible shame to have something like that circulating in the library system, where it will eventually get so tattered and battered that they have to throw it away. I’m a very rule-following person (except for speed limits on the freeway and stop signs on empty roads on bike rides), but I confess a nearly overwhelming urge to “lose” this book at my house and pay the library for a replacement. Is that completely morally repellant, tantamount to stealing, or would it be heroically rescuing a book from an ignominious and senseless fate?

In other news, Benji has a tooth and is working on crawling. He also has started sleeping some nights from 6 pm straight to 5:30 or 6 am, which makes us happy.

And I did another bike race, Olympic View Road Race, on Saturday. I finished and left feeling more disgruntled and frustrated with my performance than usual. It bothered me most of the next 24 hours, and that’s silly because this wasn’t even a race I particularly cared about. I just did it to get more experience, which indubitably I achieved. So ultimately no complaints, but not as thrilling as some of the others.

Pictures From Life

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Blooming! I think it’s time to fertilize again, though. Lots of buds on the camellia, more than ever before. I’m so thrilled when plants survive my tender loving care.

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Yogurt face, he’s got the cutest little yogurt face… There was oatmeal and cinnamon in this yogurt, and although he made a “SOUR!!” face every time I gave him a spoonful, Benji kept nomming away at it. That whole fat yogurt ought to fatten him right up.

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Today was the first day I hung laundry out to dry this year. Hooray! It’s a sign of spring and hope for more warm, laundry-drying weather to come. Also I love the feel and smell of air-dried laundry: so fresh and crisp and extra-clean. I think the sunshine adds a little extra zip to clean clothes… Or maybe it’s just the satisfaction of having used renewable, green energy to dry our stuff. Who knows. But I love it.

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Oh, and, here’s a normal view of Benji. Boing, boing, boing.

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And last but not least, on Saturday I did the bike race I’ve been training for – it is called Independence Valley Road Race – and it was warm, sunny, and a killer race. I worked

Still Alive, Don’t Worry

It’s just been a busy few days. Last week it seemed like the days filled up so fast, I couldn’t catch up. There was work, bike training, and Benji — my life feels full.

I’m enjoying the bits I’m learning about the finance stuff for my job. It’s very reminiscent of my time with Charles River, in that both industries are heavily federally regulated and involve lots of paperwork. Apparently that appeals to me, because as I’ve started to do a bit of work for Laurie, it’s felt like coming back to a career I’m suited for. I’m interested and excited to learn more.

The big exciting thing for me was that on Saturday the 23rd I did my first-ever bike race, although it was really dipping my toes into racing. What I did was the Frostbite Time Trial, a 12.5-mile, perfectly flat course between Carnation and Fall City. The idea of a time trial is that you ride all by yourself as hard as you can go, racing the clock. There’s nobody around you and if you crash, it’s because of your own stupidity. I didn’t crash or do anything stupid, and I both started and finished. This was my icebreaker into racing, and I feel ever so much better having done it. Now I’m ready to do a race that plays to my strengths — wheelsucking, hills, and longer distances.

For the record, I placed 14th out of 35 Cat 4 women with a time of 36:25, for an average of 20.5 mph. Apparently I should be pleased; that’s good… “for a climber.” Hah. I’ll do better next race. But now I know I can ride that hard for that long, which I didn’t know before. Good data.

Meanwhile, Benji seems to be on a bit of a 6-month crazy baby kick. He normally has a very predictable sleep schedule, eats well, plays happily, and is generally my favorite baby ever. The last week, though, he’s waking up a couple times a night; spends the day grumbling; refuses to nap; refuses the bottle; and generally acts grumpy. But he’s also started deliberately trying to make sounds: “ma” and “ba.” He gets this look of intense concentration on his face and you can see his lips moving into the shape. Sometimes a noise comes out, sometimes not. It’s fun.

He has also figured out how to use the Johnny Jump-Up, and now jumps like crazy in there. This may also be what has helped him figure out that he can use his legs, because when we hold him, he’s starting to straighten his legs and put weight on them a bit. Even so, he’s still not rolled over back to front, and he doesn’t really move around when we put him down — for which I’m profoundly grateful. I know those days are numbered.

More details soon. I’m off to yet another team activity. Like I said, busy life these days.

A New Leaf

Day’s Verse:
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father.
James 1:5

Okay, it’s true: I haven’t posted a blog for well over a week, and I don’t have any good excuses. Every time I sit down to and open up a blank post, I think, “What do I have to say? Nothing interesting has happened to me lately. I haven’t thought anything interesting lately. Better wait until I have an original thought or experience.”

As it turns out, that’s a ridiculous fallacy. If I decide to stay at home and wait for something to happen, or to come up with an original thought, I’ll be waiting for…ever, probably. Without engaging in the world, I’ll just end up a mental backwater, stagnant and boring.

And, in fact, I’ve had all sorts of experiences worth sharing. For example, I had a dream come true on Tuesday night. Here’s what happened:

My team has a ride every Tuesday night. Last Tuesday, about a dozen of us showed up, a pretty good showing for a potentially rainy weeknight. We rode up 124th, right near my house. The road looks like this (although that evening it was, of course, dark).

View Larger Map
What you can’t see from this picture is that, shortly after this point, the yellow line turns from a solid line to an extruded curb painted yellow (you can see if you use the Street View to go another click or two north). On the right-hand side of the road, there’s another extruded curb that delineates the pedestrian walking area. We rode on the roadway, avoiding the narrow pedestrian area. The two curbs meant that the road was really too narrow for a car to pass us — plus, passing 12 people riding in a line is kind of difficult on any narrow-ish road.

Thus, as we approached the section of road where the yellow line becomes a curb, a number of cars accelerated to get by us before the curb started. They didn’t want to get stuck behind a bunch of slow bicyclists. This worked fine until the last car, which was, if I recall correctly, along the lines of a pimped-out Dodge Charger. It was something low, muscular-looking, and with excessively-tinted windows. This vehicle, instead of passing us swiftly, provided us with a good fifteen minutes of astonished discussion by accelerating to pass us — and, instead, ramming straight into the extruded curb. Maybe he didn’t realize that the painted yellow line turned into a solid, 3-D object at a certain point.

This ramming maneuver emitted an astonishing metal-crunching noise that many of us initially thought meant one of us had been hit by a car. Nope. The next thing we knew, this car was high-centered on the curb, with two wheels on either side of the curb. Instead of, say, stopping and backing up to get off the curb, this vehicle proceeded along the length of the curb (at least one drive wheel was in contact with the ground), emitting a horrifying scraping noise that said, to me, “I am continuing to rip the undercarriage and important parts of my vehicle to shreds as I scrape along the top of this curb.”

The car kept pace with us the length of the curb, and when the curb ended, it drove away. Some of my teammates said it pulled over shortly after getting off the curb. I thought, perhaps mistakenly, that the left-hand side wheels looked like the left-hand wheels angled out a bit oddly. I can’t imagine he drove over that curb without sustaining some damage, given the tortured metal shearing and scraping sounds we heard.

This is a dream come true for me because I ride my bike on 124th a fair bit, and cars always do that accelerate-before-the-curb thing. I understand: There’s a slight uphill going north, which drivers don’t realize, but that slows bikes down enough to annoy drivers. They don’t want to get trapped behind an annoying slow bicyclist. So innumerable times, drivers have accelerated recklessly by me and just barely squeaked past, narrowly avoiding the center curb and squeezing me awkwardly against the curb on the right. I’ve always wanted to see somebody hit the curb when trying to pass me. Now I have. And, frankly, it was really satisfying.

So as to not close this blog on a vindictive-sounding note, I leave you with this, in case you missed when I posted it in Social Media Land earlier.

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.