Fun Friends

Day’s Verse:
Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.
Philippians 1:3-4

I have been having way too much fun to spend time posting on my blog lately. I took Friday off and therefore get a four-day weekend — the longest break from the Bike Alliance I’ve had in a while. Not only that, but after last weekend’s intense house-related effort, we decided to take this weekend totally easy. Accordingly, we have…no plans. None. It’s a beautiful thing. I thought I’d have to work on Monday for a little bit, tabling at a bike ride, but then at the last minute a volunteer stepped up and said he’d do it, freeing me from work for four glorious days.

On Friday a designer from the Blind Alley* came by and we decided on blinds for downstairs; the rest of the day, I worked hard neatening up the house for a BBQ our Journey Community had here. I did my first few loads of laundry and found that The Marshmallows clean our clothes quite acceptably. In the afternoon Rachel came over and we finished reading The 13 Clocks aloud, went for a walk and found a few alluring blackberry patches, and got food ready for the BBQ. People started showing up about 6:15, and eventually we ended up with maybe a dozen people, including a couple small kids. This definitively demonstrated that our house is not child-proof. That went well and I think everybody had a good time.

Then Saturday we slept in (aaahhhh! First time in a long time) and I read The Bourne Identity all morning (much more enjoyable than the movie), followed by taking a walk with Ian to the Woodinville Farmer’s Market. I tried my hand at making wheat tortillas in the afternoon and although they turned out tolerably like tortillas, I just wasn’t excited about them. I need to get a different tortilla recipe, I think. Rachel spent the afternoon and evening with us; she and I harvested some of the blackberries we’d seen earlier, turned them into a gooey, delicious blackberry-peach cobbler. We also tried our hand at deep-frying some of the tortillas I’d made to turn them into tortilla chips, and that’s when we learned that (a) The oil on the tortilla keeps cooking it after you pull it out of the pot, so you have to take it out looking a little less cooked than you think ideal; (b) Oil goes from hot to producing a column of smoke in no time flat. Fortunately our column of smoke didn’t set the fire alarm off, since Ian was off getting the stuff we needed for taco salad. He also picked up his friend Ryan, who lives right next to the grocery store, and when they came back we’d converted tortillas into tortilla chips and had the cobbler about ready to bake. The rest of the evening we spent laughing a lot, and we all agreed it was a great time.

For me the last couple days felt like pulling a very large splinter out. I’ve had this long-term, low-grade doldrum hanging around my head (if that’s possible); I just haven’t laughed very much. Funny things may happen and I’ll smile, but nothing’s really relaxed me enough to let me just feel happy and laugh freely. It was a huge blessing for me to spend time with Rachel, Ryan, and the people from church, all of whom have been a balm on my lonely heart. God made people for relationships, and throughout my tenure in Massachusetts, I sorely felt the lack of friends to just share life with. This weekend marks a turning point, I think. And there’s still 1.5 whole huge days left.

* Don’t let their dorky, old-fashioned website lead you astray — they know their window coverings, they have a service department to die for, and the Better Business Bureau gives them an A+ rating.

At Long Last, Crater Lake Pictures

Day’s Verse:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Part of Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon.
Lithia Park

First view of Crater Lake.
Crater Lake: First View

Obligatory picture of us, commemorating our trip.
Ian & Katie at Crater Lake

Looking south (I think) across Crater Lake.
Crater Lake facing South

We hiked down the Cleetwood Trail to the lake level.
Crater Lake: Lake Level

Ian even looked happy when we reached the bottom. That changed on the way back up.
Ian at Crater Lake

There were some really staggering panoramas of the landscape around Crater Lake, too.
Panorama on Drive Home

Drive Home

Drive Home 1

On the drive home, we stopped at a scenic overlook where the Rogue River had carved out a canyon in the volcanic rock.
Rogue River Waterfall

Rogue River Canyon

The next day we hiked up and all over the top of Lower Table Rock. Things both big (landscapes) and small (flowers) captivated us.
Ian At Lower Table Rock

California Condor

Lower Table Rock View

Lupine

Lower Table Rock Grassland

Firework Flowers

I took a ton of HDR-ready pictures but haven’t had the time to combine them yet. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the pictures from our trip. And don’t complain there weren’t any of Ashland or the plays — no pictures allowed in the theaters, and Ashland was nice but not particularly photographic. The end!

An Update

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 Corinthians 13:12

As I opened boxes of office-related stuff today, I ran across this Pearls Before Swine bicyclist comic, which I had up in my cube at Charles River.

Pearls Before Swine Cyclist Comic

I love this comic. I don’t know if the artist is a bicyclist, but it so perfectly encapsulates the reality of bicyclist/non-bicyclist relations in one succinct comic.

In unrelated news, we had an amazing family dinner at the Metropolitan Grill: Amazing in a few ways. First, when I say “family,” I mean more than just my parents and us. Uncle Greg was up from San Diego for Grandma Sullivan’s memorial service and taking her ashes to the Tahoma Cemetery, so he joined us. And my dad’s cousin John Whitlow and his wife Laurie joined us from Bainbridge Island. This is the first time in my memory I know of the Sullivans and the Washington Whitlows getting together at something other than a funeral. John and Laurie are avid bicyclists, and John serves on the board of the Bicycle Alliance, which is how we reconnected — really I should say “connected,” since we never knew each other before. I’m optimistic that we’ll get to be a bit more family-like from now on.

Some other tidbits:

  • I have started repainting the downstairs bathroom from dusty rose to off-white. I’ve cut in (badly) most of the edges and that doesn’t actually leave much to do with the rollers. Unfortunately it takes 2 or 3 coats of the white to cover up the current pink color.
  • Ian and I picked raspberries at a friend’s house this weekend. We are now flush with really delicious home-grown berries.
  • We got an estimate on redoing the floor in the downstairs bathroom and laundry room, which together total less than 100 square feet. Total cost: $1,500. Why? Because the subfloor is made out of particleboard or something equally not allowed, and they have to take out the subfloor, put in plywood, and then put the new flooring material on. Also, they have to remove and reinstall the toilet and moulding around the edges. Total labor: $950. I’m starting to think that we should just find out how to do most of the labor ourselves, if we can. Maybe our current ugly pink-diamond linoleum isn’t as awful as I thought…
  • Removed ivy from our rockery. DIE EVIL INVASIVE SPECIES!!! (Of course, we left all the succulents etc. that are certainly not native, either.
  • We’re watching Carmel while my parents are in California. We had to dope her up with doggie drugs on 4th of July; our entire neighborhood was a war zone, and we could see fireworks out of every window. It was horrendous. The next morning she found a moldy tennis ball and cat poop in the back yard. And then we got back from raspberry picking and found her unashamedly laying on our couch, which required serious reprimanding. I love having a dog!
  • We awoke to sunshine this morning for the first time in at least a week. I saw Mt. Rainier! And the Cascades! And the Olympics!

And last but not least, I’ll be in Trout Lake from tomorrow through Friday, so expect silence again. You’ll never even miss me. Enjoy the sun and drink lots of water!

Still Alive!

Day’s Verse:
Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

John 8:10-11 (context)

Just a quick note to say that we are still alive and kicking, but after we got back from our Ashland trip on Wednesday afternoon, I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to do more than think “I should blog,” before rushing off to do something else. The quick synopsis of our vacation was that we fell in love with Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival from the first day. That day we saw Hamlet and Henry IV (not VIII as I mistakenly said in an earlier blog). I’d never seen Hamlet as a play before, though I had read the play and seen a number of film adaptations. It was incredibly powerful; from the moment the play started, we sat entranced, and three hours flew by. Ian and I agreed we’d never seen a more masterful production. We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring Lithia Park (along with all the other visitors to Ashland, apparently) and enjoying an excellent dinner. I had Irish nachos, which is essentially French fries topped with baked potato toppings. Oh man. Yum. We only stayed for the first half of Henry IV Part One, not because it was bad, but because it would take us another 30 minutes to get back to our campsite after the play ended, and we had Things To Do the next day.

Excitingly, as we drove back to camp on I-5, a police officer pulled Ian over. Ian, I might add, is the world’s most conscientious driver and never speeds, so we knew it wasn’t the usual reason. Our confusion quickly turned to dismay and shock when the officer informed us that both our taillights were out, and he’d pulled us over because he could only see us by the license plate illumination. Yikes! I think he could tell our dismay, horror, and surprise were genuine, because he let us go without citing us. We drove the rest of the way with emergency blinkers on and the next morning we found a gas station/repair shop and got two new light bulbs (for free! The attendant didn’t think it was worth charging us, which was nice of him).

The next day, Sunday, we went on a backstage tour, walked around Ashland some more, saw Merchant of Venice preview, and then saw Merchant of Venice. I didn’t really know anything about the story, and I was kind of expecting a comedy, since in the preview they talked about couples getting together at the end — a common ending for Shakespeare’s comedies. But Merchant of Venice was most definitely not a comedy; we came away feeling bad for Shylock and the merchant, both, and not altogether impressed with Portia’s manipulative, sneaky ways. Hamlet we knew what to expect, and sure enough, everybody died at the end. Merchant of Venice nobody died, but we left with much more mixed emotions than most other Shakespeare plays. This play required much more digesting afterward, and we had an interesting conversation about characters’ motives on the drive home.

Monday we drove to Crater Lake, and it turns out most of the drive around lake and all but one of the trails were still snowed in and inaccessible. Even so, we went on up to the lake — Ian’s first visit, and my first visit that I can remember (Mom tells me I was there as a kid, but it didn’t stick). Wow. We spent the entire time having to consciously not keep remarking on how stupendous the lake was. I filled up my camera’s 2-gig memory card for the first time ever, taking RAW HDR-ready pictures. Around noon, we reached the Cleetwood Trail and hiked down to the lake, a mere one mile, but with something like 700 feet of elevation change in that mile. Everybody else visiting Crater Lake that day — and it was many people, and the day was gorgeous — also decided to hike that trail, so it was relatively crowded and dusty. However, the lake remained serene and beautiful, and we enjoyed the views but not the mosquitoes. On the way back we stopped at the lodge for a ranger’s educational talk (“Who Really Discovered Crater Lake?” — I was expecting a discussion of Native American tribes, but he talked about the first 5 or so white guys to see the lake) and then paused at a scenic viewpoint on the Rogue River. By the way, naming a river “Rogue” opens the door to way too many puns in business names.

Tuesday we hiked up Lower Table Rock and got phenomenal views (pictures to follow). The sweeping 360° views were stunning, but I also treasured the incredible beauty of the subalpine flowers. Nearly every plant seemed to be flowering, and apparently we were very fortunate to experience that because the flowering season is quite short. In the afternoon we saw She Loves Me, which was so lovely and sweet and beautifully acted, I couldn’t stop smiling for the entire rest of the day. If I could see one of the plays again, I’d choose that one hands-down.

And the next morning we packed up and drove back home. And then we went to work the next day, which left me feeling all discombobulated. I sure could get used to 2-day workweeks, though.

Awesomeness is Dual-State Licensing

Day’s Verse:
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Matthew 22:21 (context)

Today I got a letter from the Washington State Department of Licensing. It warned me that my driver’s license would expire this May 23rd, my 26th birthday.

The amazing, truly awesome thing about this is that I technically don’t have a Washington driver’s license. A quick search reveals I never blogged about the Great Massachusetts Driver’s License Fiasco, but the Cliff Notes summary is that our car insurance was revoked on May 9, 2009 because I still had a Washington state driver’s license. After I obtained a Massachusetts driver’s license, we got our car insurance back and were once again legal to drive in Massachusetts.

So you can imagine my delight when we got this letter, and realized that Massachusetts never informed Washington that I had changed states. The beauty of it is that you can renew online in Washington. All they require is your driver’s license number — which they kindly provide preprinted on a mail-in form — and the last 5 digits of your Social Security number, plus of course a $25 renewal fee. Because we’re living with my parents, even the address remains the same as before. As soon as I got the letter, I went online and renewed my driver’s license. Now I have a temporary Washington State driver’s license valid for 45 days, and I should receive my new license in the mail within a month.

That means that, until my Massachusetts license expires or somebody in the government figures it out (guess which will happen first?), I will have valid, real driver’s licenses from two different states.

This is so crazy.

Also, we spent 2.5 hours tonight driving around looking at more houses. Ian’s rooting for this single-family home; I’m rooting for this residential townhome. I foresee tough conversations in the future.

In Sight

Day’s Verse:
O LORD, my strength and my fortress,
my refuge in time of distress,
to you the nations will come
from the ends of the earth…

Jeremiah 16:19

What’s in sight? The end of several things:

  • Our tenure as long-term house-sitters! Tonight is our last night house- and cat-sitting for one of my coworkers; we spent a full week at her house this time, but had three other 2-night stints before that. This experience has confirmed that we are most definitely not cat people.
  • My bike languishing unrepaired! Yesterday I took Artemis to Elliott Bay Bicycles. They’re building me a new front fork, something steel, sturdy, able to handle fenders, disc brakes, and harsh treatment. I’m so excited to get moving on the repairs at long last!
  • Wrangling with Hertz and Oracle! Yesterday I also talked to Hertz, and they’re writing me a check for about $1,400 for repairs, plus paying for the cost of a rental bike as long as my bike is out of commission. The check amount is right between the two estimates I got, so I consider that pretty fair and reasonable. It may not cover the full cost of repairs, but I’m also improving my bike a bit at the same time, which will somewhat increase the cost.
  • KDOG craziness! Next Tuesday, exactly 1 week, is the all-important City Council meeting that we wanted to spread door hangers to advertise about. A few people have volunteered to help distribute door hangers, so they’re getting spread around a little bit. I feel OK about how that’s going. Nobody has RSVP’d for my meetups (here and here) on Saturday, and I may cancel them, but that’d be all right because they are getting out other ways.

All in all, I’m feeling much better. I’m working on a comprehensive volunteer handbook for the Bicycle Alliance; I put off more house-hunting until the middle of next week; and a few KDOG door hangers are getting out.

So it’s OK.

And the Moral of the Story?

Day’s Verse:
You are always righteous, O LORD,
when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?

Jeremiah 12:1

Cooking involves cleaning up. I know because the Seattle Times told me so. Actually, I thought this was interesting: Chefs at fancy restaurants see cleaning up as part of the job. The meal isn’t prepared until your cooking area is clean and ready to prepare another meal. I suppose a person could extrapolate this to a principle that applies to life: Finish what you start, you’re not done until you’ve covered every detail, follow through on your commitments, etc.

I doubt this knowledge will actually change my cooking habits — I’m happy letting the non-cooker do the post-dinner cleanup — but I have high hopes that I’ll be practicing my cooking and baking in our own home very soon. Yesterday Ian and I went to an open house at this town home; tonight we meet with to a real estate agent for the first time. Right now we have a goal of finding a home by April 30th, to squeeze in the first-time home buyers tax credit.

And honestly, April 30th doesn’t look that far away right now. Not far at all. I’m excited and apprehensive all at once.

We’re open to any and all home-buying advice, as long as it’s constructive. We already know to avoid homes infested with carpenter ants, homes on cliff-sides, and homes in Renton.