It Gets Better

Day’s Verse:
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
1 John 3:18-20

When the only way to go is up, things do start getting better. No, our floor isn’t miraculously fixed, nor is the dishwasher back to normal. But after Christmas my parents, my sister and brother in law, and Ian and I — and Carmel, of course — piled into two cars and made our getaway. We took a ferry across to Kingston, drove a long loop around with a stop at Dungeness Spit, the longest natural spit in the world (I think). Some time I’d like to hike the whole thing — 5 miles each way — but that wasn’t the day for it. We just fooled around on the beach for a while, continued on, but only after reading about Brant’s Goose (“The Goose With Problems,” the sign’s subtitle said). This intersection we found particularly humorous. Anyway, we made it to Kalaloch Lodge with no problems and settled in OK. It had two bedrooms and one hide-a-bed in the living room; Ian and I drew the short straw and ended up in the living room. The bathroom was only accessible through one of the bedrooms (it had two doors, a source of endless potential embarrassment), an interesting and awkward feature. However, it also had a little kitchen and dining space for all of us, which was a nice redeeming feature. It also had a sign warning us about the KILLER LOGS on the beach, ample fodder for jokes the rest of the time.

On our only full day on the Peninsula, we went to Ruby Beach but didn’t find any rubies. We did find lots and lots of paving stones; lots of logs washed ashore; sea anemones colored purple, white, green, or mint green; a few snails; limpets; big barnacles and little barnacles; some kelp, whose species I should know but don’t; seagulls; and Least Sandpipers. Poking into tidepools never gets old, no matter how grown-up I am. Then we went to the Hoh Rainforest, where we split up. Colleen, Jordan, and Mom did a couple shorter hikes around the visitor’s center while Dad, Ian, and I did a 6-mile roundtrip hike. We saw a ruffed grouse on the trail and watched lots and lots of salmon in a creek, but no elk, despite numerous signs warning us of frequent elk sightings and to stay 100′ from any elk. The same sign said that “Dogs are the natural enemy of all woodland creatures,” so it was a good thing we left Carmel back at Kalaloch. Amazingly, the entire day remained dry: It started sunny and got a bit cloudier later on, but we never got rained on. That’s a small miracle on the rainy side of the Olympics in December.

On Wednesday morning we played a game of Gloom, a card game Caitlyn gave us for Christmas. The best part about it was the stories people told as they played these disastrous happenings on their characters. There wasn’t any “Overcome by Kitchen Floods” or “Rattled by Rats” in there, though.

We packed up and drove to Lake Quinault Lodge (their rain gauge for 2010: 13 feet, more than 2009 but nowhere near the record 17 feet), where we did a nice, pretty hike — lots more hanging moss, this time glowing in the sunlight — and then waited…and waited…and waited for lunch at the restaurant there. We entertained ourselves by watching the roofer right outside the window as he climbed up and down and engaged in all sorts of really risky-looking feats. When the food finally came, we scarfed it down, then made our getaway. Carmel had worked her way out of her box and into the back seat, where she startled Mom when Mom glanced into the back. We ate Pirouettes and drove on small roads through tiny towns. Wind cut our last stop, at Copalis Beach, short. It was amazingly windy, almost enough to lift me off my feet. We worried about Carmel getting sand in blown into her eyes, and so kept the visit brief. Also it’s a pretty boring beach, just tons of flat sand as far as you can see. Good for those beach buggies, though. And that was really the end of our little Olympic Peninsula. Ian and I still have a ruined kitchen floor and broken dishwasher, but at least we got to have a fun break with our family before worrying about it too much.


Dungeness Cairns


30 Years and Still Weird

Day’s Verse:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I forgot to mention this yesterday:

Happy 30-Year Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

BikersYou have set an example for us, your children, in how to make a marriage last. Your commitment to each other means that Colleen and I have a much better chance of making it to 30 years in our marriages, too.

Your consistent love and faithfulness to each other has been a foundation in our lives, unwavering even through hard times. You’ve shown us what commitment means; your marriage is a tribute to you and a reflection of God’s love for us. You’ve provided us with a safe, loving, reliable port to come to no matter what storms buffeted us. You cared for us (and innumerable hamsters, not to mention fish, Sneaky, Truffles, PC, Carmel, two chinchillas, and a couple cats), stayed at jobs that were at times stressful or boring or depressing, saved for our educations, took care of your house, paid off your mortgage, supported missionaries, took in foster children and single moms and a plethora of visitors — and still managed to be an example of love, weirdness, commitment, and affection in marriage.

Thank you for everything. Well done. We love you.

Here’s to at least another 30 weird years.

Victoria Ferry

Moving On.

Day’s Verse:
A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.
1 Timothy 6:6-8

OK, it’s time to move on from the exciting bike crash. That’s in the process of being resolved, and in the meantime I’m contentedly riding the red bike.

This Saturday — a quintessentially Seattle fall day if ever I’ve experienced one — Dad and I went for a hike to the Kendall Katwalk. We saw a pika, some very aggressive beggar birds (one of which brazenly perched on Dad’s head), a pickle on a picnic bench, and a few other hikers, most of whom carried buckets of mushrooms. It was a perfect day to be a mushroom, actually, although not if mushroom hunters later found and drooled at the prospect of eating you. We also saw some very nice misty views of pretty fall foliage; I think, but am not totally sure, that it was sumac changing colors so brilliantly.

Anyway, Kendall Katwalk is known for having these dramatic drop-offs, but somehow they’re not so dramatic when they’re completely cloud-shrouded. We felt wind that seemed to indicate wide open space high up, and at one point the fog (is it fog when you’re up in the clouds?) cleared enough for us to get a nice glimpse of the valley below. Dad tried out his new cell phone’s camera on some of the views, which was a little odd since I’m used to Dad having all this amazing camera technology with him all the time — tripods and lenses and filters and stuff that help him take pictures. His cell phone camera produced this:

Katie Katwalk

But I’m more used to Dad producing photos like this:
Puddle Clouds

We had an excellent hike and came back pleasantly tired and fairly damp. I barely had time to shower, change, and help Ian with dinner before his parents arrived. We made honey baked chicken, bread, salad, and apple crisp, all of which turned out quite tasty. Best of all, we had a nice evening catching up with them after their 5-week European adventure.

Then on Sunday after church I attempted to make chicken stew with dumplings, but it turned out kind of watery and flavorless, for all there were zillions of vegetables and chicken broth and all sorts of goodies in there. Darn. Now we have 1.5 huge Tupperware containers full of it and I’m not sure what to do with it; I guess we’ll just suffer for a long time.

And last but not least I’m reading a book called Spin that’s quite original and well-written, but I suspect that I’ve been lured into yet another series. Hmm.

And that’s it for now.

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


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.