True Self

But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.

John 1:13

Benji is getting much more into drawing and art these days. When he makes a mistake, he stops and throws the entire drawing away, no matter how much work he put into the drawing up until that point.

It reminds me of myself when I was younger: if it’s not perfect, it’s not good enough.

I think the hardest lesson for me to learn so far in life has been to let go of having to be perfect and accept my mistakes. Learning to embrace failure as an opportunity to improve and learn, instead of beat myself up, to “try my best to do my best,” as Benji’s preschool teachers always said.

That’s been part of my journey towards being more my child-of-God self. It’s a lesson internalized through long years of trying and failing, trying again, and again, and again – and being okay with it. I keep coming back to the phrase I read in Life of the Beloved, about a broken glass: “I never knew something broken could shine so brightly.”

Sharing Light

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John 1:4

This time of year, it’s dark. We are down to less than 9 hours from sunrise to sunset, and it’s so cloudy that even midday feels like dusk.

I especially notice the dark when I’m commuting home on the bike path. The trail isn’t lit; some places have ambient light from nearby roads or houses, but some sections are practically pitch dark. In those places, my light literally is all that keeps me safe.

I recently replaced an old light, whose battery was on its last legs, with a new and very powerful light. It’s impressively bright.

The other night, I commuted home with another guy who was going to Lake Forest Park. This happens occasionally when I’m going about the same speed as another longer commuter. It’s nice to have company, and sometimes extra motivation. This particular time, as we rode through the darkest sections, the guy’s headlight went out. We rode the rest of the way to Lake Forest Park side by side, literally sharing the light.


The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;

the darkness cold not put it out.

John 1:5

It seems like we live in a time of darkness ascendant, when the worst excesses of our natures come out to be glorified. Our current president just embodies this drive, but he didn’t invent it and if it wasn’t there, he wouldn’t have been elected.

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller talks about how we idolize good things: family, country, working, earning money. Things that we should value, yes — but not above all else. When one thing comes comes to define who you are, your value, the meaning of your life, that thing has gone from being one good thing among many to being an idol.

It feels like right now we’ve agreed as a culture to embrace the darkness in our hearts. We reject those in need, those different from us, those we don’t understand. We accept selfishness, greed, inequality, and all manner of ills stemming from the Me First approach.

Today’s verse, part of the beginning of the Advent season, reminds me to things: One, I have that light in me, and it is meant to blaze. What does that look like in my life? And, two, although things look terrible dark now, the light wins in the end. That doesn’t mean we stop struggling; it means there’s hope.


I read somewhere that human brains are better at remembering bad events than good ones. It was something to do with how, in the distant evolutionary past, people needed to remember the things that were dangerous — oh, there’s where the saber tooth tiger attacked. I’d better avoid that place now. This makes sense, from a pure survival standpoint. It’s better to survive and have a memory full of terrifying events than to be eaten because you forgot.

In today’s world, however, this isn’t such a great feature. Now it’s a little too easy to remember how traffic lights were all against me, or that package I ordered took longer to arrive than I thought, or how this person it that person slighted me.

In fact, we Americans mostly live in the comfiest, safest, most luxurious environment imaginable. Kings in the past weren’t as warm, dry, and well-fed as we are today. Compared to how people lived for all of history, and how some people live in other parts of the world today, we are unbelievably, unimaginably well off.

I want to remember this when my booties are soaking wet because I’ve ridden in the rain every day of the week and I never have time to get them to dry. I have a really nice bike, and all sorts of fabulous gear to make it more comfortable, and the opportunity to ride.

I want to remember this when I’m stuck in traffic, slogging slowly to work. I have a job I love and a great bus to ride and the opportunity to work.

I want to remember this when I look in the fridge and can’t think what to make. We have a home, with a fridge, with electricity, and good food, and all the accoutrements needed to cook.

I have so much to be thankful for.

November Thoughts

The sun comes up in one minute, at 7:22 am, today. It sets at 4:26 pm, but odds are we won’t see it for any of those nine hours and six minutes, thanks to the (likely) thousands of feet of cloud cover above us. Granted, that cloud cover seems to be coming down as fast as it can, drenching everyone in the process.

On days like this, everyone on the bus steams and drips and tries to keep their dampness to themselves — at least a token gesture that’s appreciated, even if in practice it’s utterly futile. Little streams meander off every umbrella and down the floor.

On days like this, traffic snarls to a halt, an ocean of watery red lights reflecting off wet black tarmac and wet dark cars. Colors don’t exist beyond the well-lit confines of our bus; outside, through the foggy windows, we see red taillights, white headlights, and gray everything else.

On days like this, people who moved here from warmer, sunnier climes–pretty much everywhere that isn’t Alaska–start feeling depressed. They remember the California sunshine, so reliable even in November, or of the bright dazzle of sun glinting off snow, or the bursts of autumnal leaves backlit with glancing afternoon rays. They forget the misery of drought, the constant shoveling of snow, the endless raking of leaves. How can we live this way for another five months? they wonder.

What I think of is the glory of the Olympic Mountains, dark indigo and white in the distance, with water gray-blue below and the sky coldly blue above. I think of the evergreen trees coating the rolling Cascade foothills like a dark green blessing, hazing off into snow-capped peaks. I think of the silhouette of hillsides vanishing into mist. I think of the joy of Christmas lights twinkling through the dark and reflecting off of rain-wet roads, doubling the glitter.

I don’t think about all the wet, dark tomorrows. I think about the bursts of clean-washed beauty that come between the rains.

Yes, my heart sinks at my inevitable damp clothes, my soaked-through rain jacket, the need to stuff shoes with newspaper every night and hope they’ll dry before morning. But I love this place, and every day, rain or shine, I am thankful to live here.

Labor Day, School, and So Much More

The New Car

Yesterday marked the one monthiversary of buying our Bolt.

New Bolt!

Since we bought it, we’ve figured out that:

  • My bike fits in the back, but only with the seats all the way down and the passenger seat squeezed all the way forward–leaving room for only the driver. Clearly before we replace the Prius, I need to get a hitch-mounted rack for the Bolt.
  • The car has at least 300 miles per charge. Ian drove it for two straight weeks, just about 300 miles, without a charge.
  • The radio turns on every time we turn the car on, and so far we haven’t found a way to turn it off.
  • It feels like riding a bike: You’re very aware of ups and downs, since you’re paying close attention to energy usage; and it has a hand brake paddle on the steering wheel that lets you slow down or even come to a full stop without ever touching the foot brake.

Ian and Benji use the car the lion’s share of the time, since during the week I exclusively travel by bus or bike. It’s the first time I’ve actually wanted to drive the car… but not into downtown Seattle. I can’t believe how many people are actually willing to sit through the misery we call a commute in their single-passenger vehicles.

It’s been quite the month.

Labor Day Weekend

Benji, Dad, and I had a very fun Labor Day weekend, hitting Alki Beach and Twin Falls on back-to-back days.

Twin Falls

Twin Falls 2017 - 1

Twin Falls 2017 2

Twin Falls 3 - Benji on a Rock

Twin Falls 4

Benji at Twin Falls 2017

Twin Falls - Snoqualmie River

Twin Falls - Snoqualmie River 2

Alki Beach

Alki Beach 1

Alki Beach 2017 - 2

Alki Beach Labor Day Weekend 2017

Alki Beach 2017 - 3

Alki Beach 2017 - Tidepools


Benji’s half-day kindergarten at ORCS started on September 11.
First Day of ORCS Kindergarten
I think it’s going well, although to be honest, I hear very little of how the day actually went. All I can really say is that Benji goes, and then I see him in the evening and he probably has a craft and is tired-hyper. But anything in between — going to school, having lunch, doing the afternoon with someone — I just trust is happening.

But overall, from the little snippets I do hear, Benji is liking half-day kindergarten. We’ve started keeping track of our reading hours, and so far it’s about an hour a day. He also said he likes having his best friend Will in class with him, and his two favorite parts of the school day are free choice and recess. Just about right. I tried to ask about academics, but aside from being really excited about doing colors this week, I haven’t heard much.

So far, Benji’s remained astonishingly healthy, but he’s been sniffling and sneezing lately, so I expect that’s about to change.

At Benji’s 5-year doctor visit we determined he’s totally normal in terms of physical growth and such. The doctor did refer us to Children’s for an assessment of large and fine motor skills as well as speech. That’s still pending.

Meanwhile, we’ve had two weeks of school and no pattern set yet. Next week will be another week with no pattern, but starting in October things will hopefully settle down.


My work has gotten increasingly busy. I like it, and I haven’t dropped any balls yet, but I’m starting to get close to full capacity. I have a secondary project that I’m really excited about, but it’s taking a long time because release notes and release-related content updates always take top priority. This release cycle, which finishes on release night on October 19, has a number of big stories that require quite a bit of time to document.

I’ve been bringing my work laptop home on the weekends in the hopes of getting some work done, but somehow I hardly ever do. It’s work I love, but weekends are so full, especially with wanting to spend time with Benji and Ian since I don’t see them as much during the week; biking; and (importantly) catching up on sleep (hopefully).

What a Week!

Read whatever intonation you want into that title, I’d say it’s accurate.


Benji listless and droopy. Took his temp: 102F. Administered Tylenol and videos. Ian left to drive to totality zone. Benji slept and drooped and I gave him more Tylenol. Had 100% exposure to his virus in the first 15 seconds of his feeling really bad.


Had the day off, which was good, because it was busy and Ian wasn’t around! Benji was feeling better, but his throat was really sore.

But Uncle Gerard was here for a visit, so Benji glommed onto him and I didn’t have to do much.

Hopelink donation and food bank tour. Benji still a little sick after 102-degree fever on Sunday (and maybe Saturday.)
Hopelink Food Bank Tour

Eclipse 1

Eclipse 2

Eclipse 3

Eclipse Tree Pinholes

Play with Gruncle Gerard.
Benji and Gruncle Gerard


Ian test-drove a Bolt and loved it. We decided to buy one. Started the process of buying one and getting all the details sorted for that. With a regular car you don’t have to worry about installing a fueling station at your house, but with an electric car, you do! Sadly, PSE ended their charging station rebate program last year, so no free charging station for us.

We plan to go on Friday after work to do all the car-buying paperwork.


I start feeling under the weather. Take a bus home and by 9:00 pm have 102-degree fever and vomited once (dehydration and hunger, I suspect; careful consumption of liquids and calories resulted in no further such episodes. Still… ugh). Clearly not going to work Thursday.


Sick all day in bed. Fever remains through afternoon, though feeling a little better by evening. Fever goes away by evening and doesn’t come back, but tonsil area of throat getting extremely sore. Can’t swallow much. Benji complained on Monday of it hurting to eat, and he was RIGHT! Oww! Blaze through our strategic apple sauce supplies in no time flat.

Still not going to work, but a very kind coworker dropped off my laptop so I could do work on Friday.


Home Sick
Feeling much better although still can’t swallow at all. Subsisting on sherbet, smoothies, and apple sauce.

New Bolt!
Good thing about being home was I could meet at 1:00 pm to do car paperwork! This was extra-good because it took like two hours with everything, so I was glad we didn’t start at 4:00 pm. Pretty darn excited.

Struggled to swallow enough pasta to prepare for a bike ride of some sort the following day. Only a few weeks out from P2P, this was to be a major peak week of riding. Determined not to let stupid sickness stop me.


Decided to join Dad for his super-hilly ride and just see how long I can hang on. What I didn’t realize until 45 minutes before the ride started was that the ride began not in Woodinville (a 5-minute ride away) but in South Kirkland (a 25- to 30-minute ride away). Needless to say I rushed off in quite a panic and fortunately remembered everything, but arrived at the start a little less fresh than I might’ve hoped.

I liberally dosed myself with Advil during the day and that helped keep the sore throat tolerable. Swallowing Clif bars was not exactly a joy, but I didn’t cry in pain, either. I saved that for the hills, which started and pretty much never stopped.

It was as good an approximation of P2P as I’ve done this season, although previous years we did more. It’s not been my best year, and I expect to be even slower on P2P than previous years… but with all the illnesses, especially the summer ones, and my job and our family dynamic evolving, I’ll just consider finishing a success this year.

In any case, on Saturday I just felt grateful to have enough energy to keep riding and not get dropped, and finish the ride (as much as anyone finished). In fact, overall, I felt decent — not super fast or strong, but certainly able to keep going. Now I just have to manage not to get sick between today and September 9…

Also, Benji and I got CSA veggies and found rainbow glass chips in the parking lot.
CSA Rainbow

Then, after I put Benji down for bed, Dad and I took the Bolt out for a spin. The dashboard lights up at night.
Bolt Night Lighting


Church at Newport High School with a zillion other people. Hot. Benji ran around while we quasi-listened/quasi-made sure he didn’t vanish. Astroturf bits got all over our shoes, pants, and blankets. Tried really hard not to get them all over the inside of our car.
Church in the "Park"

Got home and collapsed for a while.

…Need I say explicitly that our family of routine-lovers is looking forward to a nice, normal week this week?