27 Years: Pass the Shortcake

Day’s Verse:
“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you…”

Jeremiah 1:5

Well, I’m happy to say that since the Rapture didn’t happen, I get to turn 27 after all. What a relief. Of course, there’s something kind of gloomy about turning 27 years old — it feels like a big step closer to 30; it’s not prime, although it should be (7, 17, 37, and 47 are all prime); it’s not a milestone in any way. That said, I’m very grateful for the years I’ve had, and for the years ahead.

Yesterday, my family got together for strawberry shortcake and a game of Gloom. Strawberry shortcake is my traditional birthday cake of choice, and has been for years, ever since Colleen was allergic to strawberries and we never had them in the house except for on my birthday. Now she can eat strawberries, but I still love strawberry shortcake on May 23. There were no local Washington strawberries, thanks to our very cold, wet spring, but California strawberries came through for us.

To celebrate today, on my actual birthday, here’s what I pulled out of the fridge for breakfast.
This Is Gonna Be Good

And here it is, my strawberry shortcake breakfast of champions.
Birthday Shortcake

I nearly swoon over those shortcakes, called Orange Scone Cakes — the recipe is heavenly. It’s online here, or in my Recipes from Home cookbook, page 103. Lemon zest, especially from Nana’s Meyer lemons (thanks, Nana!), substitutes well for orange zest.

I have no exciting plans for today, my actual birthday, except to do some chores around the house and get my resume updated. Thrilling 27-year-old activities!

For Rent: My Skills

Day’s Verse:
You get us ready for life:
you probe for our soft spots,
you knock off our rough edges.
And I’m feeling so fit, so safe:
made right, kept right.

Psalm 7:10-11ish

Self Portrait - March 2011Amazing opportunity, too good to pass up! Multitalented young adult available for immediate part- or full-time employment.

If you’ve been thinking to yourself, “I wish I could hire a talented writer and editor who’s a bicycle expert, is an excellent communicator and teacher, and is ferociously well organized, cheerful, energetic, and maybe slightly crazy,” you’re in luck. This 26-year-old is freshly under-employed through no fault of her own. Her misfortune is your good fortune.

Skills and qualifications include:

  • Keen editorial eye.
  • Sharp, concise, and clear writing abilities.
  • Excellent collaborative and communication skills.
  • Natural-born teacher.
  • Efficient, focused, and… squirrel!
  • Bachelor of Science in Technical, Scientific, and Professional Communications.
  • League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor.
  • 3.5 years at preclinical testing facility.
  • 1.5 years as AmeriCorps intern and bicycle educator and advocate.
  • Proficient computer user.
  • Rapidly able to learn new skills.
  • Smart, talented, and naturally humble.

Experience includes:

  • Substantively revising, editing, copyediting, and proofreading two bicycling-related curricula: One to teach PE teachers about how to become safe bicyclists and how to teach bicycling to their students; and one for the students themselves.
  • Traveling to small, remote towns around Washington State and teaching 2-day bicycle seminars to PE teachers (this is much more involved and challenging than it sounds).
  • Organizing outreach events and volunteers for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
  • Writing, revising, and shipping FDA-, OECD-, and other regulatory-compliant immunology, dose formulation analysis, and bioanalysis reports for Charles River Laboratories.
  • Writing six really bad novels during six National Novel Writing Months.
  • Working effectively with some exceptionally strange personality types.

Of course, these lists don’t begin to hint at the fun-loving, cheerful, energetic, and good-natured personality now available as a valuable addition to your business. You really want to hire me to do something part-time, bike-related, and fun!

Freedom

Day’s Verse:
But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits.
Romans 6:16-ish (context)

Freedom
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

And I’ve also been thinking about this:

Love puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

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!

I just finished C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, and more than ever before I ached to join Aslan and the children in the true Narnia. Some day, perhaps. In the meantime, I will continue learning what it means to be free, to love, and to live in grace.

May 14 Ride Report

Day’s Verse:
Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.
1 Peter 1:18

I’ve just had two separate people recommend George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s yet another unfinished series (Wheel of Time comes to mind; I’m waiting for the last book to come out before tackling that again), but I’ve heard good reviews from readers I respect, so I’ll have to check that out. Expect me to report back on that at some point here.

So yesterday I did my first day of more than 90 miles biking. I rode 3 miles to mom and dad’s house. Dad and I drove to Marymoor Park for RTS #8 (about 78 miles) and I rode my bike home from Marymoor (about 10 miles). We started together, but this ride was very difficult for me. My legs felt sore and tired from the very start, like I’d just done a hard workout recently. I hadn’t — on Thursday I rode did a 25-mile hilly test ride on the Amira, and that’s it — but I certainly earned every mile. The ride started with some hills and rolling hills for the first 25 or so miles that did a good job splitting the group up. I worked hard, but didn’t push real hard up the hills because I wanted to be able to finish the ride.

I also didn’t have the drive to force myself to hang with the fastest group. Whenever a group starts to pull away, there’s a moment where I have to decide whether it’s worth putting on that burst of speed to try to stay with them, or whether to just let them go and ride on my own. Yesterday I watched them slowly recede ahead of me and felt zero urge to keep up. My legs were burning already.

As a result, I rolled into the first rest stop a little bit behind the main front group. However, I was ready to go sooner than most of the other people, and since we didn’t have a ride leader, I just announced that I was leaving and rode off. Each ride I pre-load the route into my GPS and hope that it works. This time it did, so I was able to navigate without following anybody. It didn’t take long for the very fast people to catch up with me — and then, for whatever reason, they stayed behind me the entire length of Paradise Lake Road. We were heading towards Maltby, and I struggle going that direction. The rolling hills killed me. Yet they stayed behind me, so I had to push to maintain a good pace. Finally we reached a light and I looked back and there were all the fast people. I was deeply intimidated and, when the light changed, signaled almost immediately to let people go ahead of me. All told I led for, I don’t know, maybe 3 miles. I felt deeply uncomfortable (not to mention physically overextended) the entire time.

The fast group didn’t just pass me; they dropped me like a hot potato. I was OK with that. I found another RTS rider who was going about my speed and willing to pull as long as I could give him directions. We rode together for quite a few miles, to the next rest stop, and then again later when we both fell behind the fast group again. In Snohomish we pulled in before the fast group left, but just long enough to refill bottles, scarf some food, and jump back in the saddle. To that point I’d averaged 16.6 mph.

The ride flattened out from Snohomish through to Ames Lake Rd., and the fast group picked up the pace. I stayed with them for a while, and eventually fell behind, along with a couple other guys. The smaller group I rode with was slower than the fast people but still kept up a good pace. I think we averaged about 20 mph together. The group varied some, and we stopped once in Duvall to refill bottles again; at that point, I was in the bathroom when the fast group left, and I was happy to let ’em go. When we hit Ames Lake Rd. and then Union Hill Rd. I pulled away from the guy I was riding with thanks to my light weight. I’m fairly good at riding up long hills, thanks to having very little extra mass to haul, and even at the end of this ride, that proved true.

I actually felt quite cheerful riding up Union Hill. Against all odds, the sun was out, I was alone, there was no traffic, and I knew I’d make it. Overall I averaged 17.5 mph on the ride, ending at Marymoor.

I rode home from Marymoor on surface roads, avoiding the solarphilic crowds on the Sammamish River Trail, and that meant a bit of extra hill climbing. I slowly dragged myself up the hill and it felt so good to ride down it. The entire ride it felt like I simply couldn’t push any harder than I already was, and yet several times I managed to push harder anyway. I finished with a feeling of accomplishment, having worked really hard and done pretty darn well.

Best of all was getting off my bike at home, receiving my hard-won glass of chocolate milk, and sitting still. I left the house at 7:30 am. It was 2:45 pm when I arrived back home. I’d spent 5 hours and 8 minutes riding and a couple hours in transit or stopped at rest stops. I spent the afternoon eating, then hanging out with Rachel and eating her food. Today it’s rainy and I’m resting and eating. Speaking of that, I think it’s about time to eat again.

Why Is It…

Day’s Verse:
God charts the road you take.
Psalm 1:6a

…That every time it seems like spring is really here, clouds roll in, the temperature drops, and we spend another three days with February weather? I don’t mind rain. We live in Seattle, for Pete’s sake! We expect and accept that it will be dark and rainy from November through March. But it’s not March; it’s not even April. It’s MID-MAY, but the weather hasn’t gotten the memo yet. The Seattle Times just reported that last Wednesday set a record for the lowest high temperature (51°F) ever on that date. Cliff Mass has a depressing post on the area’s BBQ Index.

…That I’m not excited about tomorrow’s RTS ride? It’s just shy of 80 miles, and about 4200 feet of climbing. I know that at the end I’ll feel tired but satisfied. I think I’m not excited because (a) It’s a 40% chance of rain tomorrow — low enough to leave off the fenders, but not so low I’ll omit a jacket; and (b) For reasons I’ve mentioned before, I’m not wild about the RTS crowd. The usual Earthdream crew shows up, and I know, like, and — most importantly — trust most of them. But then all those other fast people I don’t know and trust… Meh.

…That no books have caught my interest lately? I’m re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia, and C.S. Lewis is a guaranteed high-class read, but in general I look at our bookshelves or go to the library and think, “Meh.” Just finished The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood, and although Atwood is an excellent author and the story was compelling (I read it in 24 hours), I finished with a feeling of disinterest. I need something really excellent, and preferably more than 500 pages long, to occupy me for a good chunk of time.

…That the people who previously owned our house put that garden fabric stuff EVERYWHERE and then topped it with beauty bark? And why is it called “beauty bark” anyway? I’d go with “gives you splinters every time you look at it bark” or “pain in the neck bark” or “beautiful for about 1 week bark” — not just straight beauty bark. Anyway, this fabric-and-beauty bark propensity (which does decrease weeds) means that I had to do some interesting clearing out of garden space to plant the sprouting potatoes Louise gave me. I don’t know the first thing about growing potatoes; I just dug a spot and plopped them in and covered them up again. We’ll see what happens. It’s like that bean sprout experiment we all did as kids.

Houston, We Have Tulip

Day’s Verse:
Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
Matthew 6:28-29

In typical can-do fashion, Ian has overcome the original technical difficulties that plagued his recent computer purchases. He installed the new video card a while ago, having ordered a cable online, and today his replacement monitor arrived (at 6 pm, as late as we’ve ever gotten a UPS delivery — of course, just when you’re anxiously waiting!).
Ian & Monitors
The replacement monitor tested out perfectly and I quickly heard happy noises from Ian’s office. I figure I might as well write off seeing him for, oh, a few weeks until the shine wears off a bit.

Fortunately, our garden has unexpectedly produced a flower to keep me company while Ian’s gazing adoringly at his monitor.
Tulip

In unrelated news, I’m on the verge of being fed up with the whole long hair thing. My hair was flapping around behind me today as I test rode a Specialized Amira and I was about ready to chop it off right then. So I may not wait as long as RAMROD before cutting it all off. …Oh, yes, I was trying out a different bike. Not because I’m in the market — I’m not, although if anybody has a set of good wheels they want to part with, I might be interested — but because Dad was test-riding a Specialized Tarmac, and I wanted to keep him company. What better way than to try out the new race bike from Specialized? The bike is on par with Lucy, with slightly lower-end components. Overall I had a fun time riding it, and the power transfer when I stood up on the pedals was certainly something else, but I’m not ready to trade Lucy in yet.

Rainy Inside

Day’s Verse:
“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least?'”
Matthew 25:14-30

I keep opening up a new blog post and then sitting there with my mind as blank as the screen. Since the Zillah training, I haven’t had anything noteworthy happen. I haven’t even thought anything noteworthy, really. Right now I mix and match the following components into an average day:

  • Read a book.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Stretch my back.
  • Prepare and/or eat food.
  • Take a nap.
  • Do chores inside (if rainy) or outside (if not rainy)
  • Surf the web and/or talk to Ian online.

For variety, I may do errands on my bike, walk down and meet Ian for his walk home from the Totem Lake Transit Center, meet up with a friend, go in to Seattle for a BAW meeting, or have an appointment. For example, yesterday Deborah came over and we weeded and planted strawberry plants in our raised bed. That’s about as interesting as it gets for me right now. After the excitement of teaching bike classes, I’m feeling let down and glum. But there seems to be some kind of lowest energy state that I tend towards (in my case, reading books and taking naps), and it takes a lot of energy to jump up to the next level (i.e., starting my own bike classes).

I need to take real action toward teaching my own bike classes, but every time I start to think about it, I get anxious and overwhelmed and shy away from it. Time to steel myself and take the plunge. Otherwise I’ll just stay in this 1s orbital forever, feeling unhappy but not changing anything.