As It Should Be

Day’s Verse:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42

This is what our garage looks like right now, after I spent the morning cleaning it.

Garage Bike Space

Notice how the car occupies 50% of the space and the bikes occupy 50% of the space? This is the way garages should be organized. Forget hanging your bikes from the ceiling to be taken down a couple nice days in the summer, or burying your bike way in the back behind so much stuff you can hardly get it out. No, bikes as vehicles should be easy in-and-out access the same way a car does. And of course if you have to choose between parking a car in a garage and parking a bike in a garage, the bike should always win. After all, cars withstand the elements much better than bikes do.

Today I also closed two bank accounts and consolidated the money in one account; obtained a pull-up bar (for hanging from at my PT’s behest, I hasten to add, before you think I’m getting all athletic or something); and mounted said bar in my office doorway. I always feel absurdly proud of myself whenever I complete a project like mounting something. Something about pulling out the drill and level makes me feel all handy and talented, even though as home projects go this is about as simple as it’s ever going to get. The evidence suggests my forearm screw-turning muscles are not in good shape.

That said, I’ll also comment that yesterday we had a wonderful day completely unrelated to the garage, bikes, or pull-up bars. After church I took a nap. Then we made twice baked potatoes and lemon meringue pie (I saw it on the menu at Metropolitan Grill and simply couldn’t resist). Rachel and Ryan came over, and we all ate and played Gloom and watched Murder by Death. We all had a fun time hanging out, eating, and killing characters off. A good time was definitely had by all.


Day’s Verse:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13

How do you shop? Do you go to the store, find a product that meets your needs, purchase it, and leave without agonizing about it? Or do you prefer to shop around, comparing similar products from different stores ad infinitum? When I read Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, the author’s discussion of these two different types of people really struck me. She described the first type as satisficers. Satisficers find a product that meets their criteria and move on without agonizing about whether they could’ve done better elsewhere. The second type, optimizers, find a product that meets their needs, but then thinks, “But if I just keep looking, maybe I’ll find something better somewhere else,” and so they keep shopping around to find the best deal.

In the context of the book, the author talked about women who are satisficers as meeting a guy who was pretty good but by no means perfect, accepting him as a good option, marrying him, and generally feeling satisfied with their choice. They didn’t tend to chafe as much in their marriages because they had settled on a spouse and, even knowing he wasn’t perfect, weren’t agonizing about whether Mr. Right was out there somewhere else. Women who are optimizers, on the other hand, tended to either keep dating and rejecting guys because those guys weren’t 100% of what the woman was looking for. They keep holding out for Mr. Right. Or an optimizer would marry a guy, but then end up feeling dissatisfied because she felt like she could have done better if she’d kept looking a little longer. Not surprisingly, optimizers often ended up single and dating indefinitely, while satisficers tended to end up married to pretty nice guys.

The author, herself an optimizer, didn’t say “You should try to be a satisficer.” She did, however, talk about how women tend to create these huge laundry lists of characteristics that a potential spouse must have. For example, if I was single and I created a list of characteristics my ideal husband would have, it might look something like this (in no particular order):

  • Medium to tall height, preferably not more than 4″ taller than me (but definitely not shorter)
  • Brown or black hair
  • Slender
  • No facial hair
  • Athletic
  • Very into biking (and can do bike repairs)
  • Smart
  • Considerate
  • A Christian
  • Polite
  • A good cook
  • Funny
  • Responsible
  • Reliable
  • Has a good steady job
  • Willing to help with chores
  • Creative
  • Likes to read
  • Wants kids
  • Loves Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Likes hiking, snowshoeing, and backpacking
  • Good photographer
  • Dresses nicely
  • Etc.

Now, this list is just a very short version of what could probably go on for pages, if I kept wracking my brains. Ian has some of these qualities, sure. Does he have all of them? No, and here’s the important thing: No man alive has all these qualities. If I’d held out for a guy who had all these characteristics, I’d still be looking. As it is, I’m happily married to a guy who has many of these characteristics, particularly the important ones — responsibility, considerateness, politeness, reliability. Essentially, I was able to say, “I’ve found somebody I can live with, who meets most of the important criteria I have. I’ll go with him.” Satisficers like me take a good deal and move on, not worrying about whether it was the exact right choice. Optimizers, on the other hand, continue looking for somebody (or something, depending on the situation) who meets every one of her criteria… and, in most cases, she’ll keep looking forever and never feel satisfied.

Why do I bring this up (aside from the fact that it’s generally interesting)? Because a mere 5 days ago, I mentioned I was interested in getting a Fast Bike. On Monday, I test-rode the 2008 Jamis Xenith Pro I found on Craigslist. The owner, Lucy, is on the same bike racing team as my physical therapist. That irrelevant piece of information aside, I found the bike to be a good fit and a good price, and I liked Lucy — she’d been AmeriCorps and is going into Peace Corps. I paid her $750 on Monday, took the bike, and on Tuesday had Kirkland Bike Shop go over it. They gave it two thumbs up, so I wrote another $750 check and put it in the mail that afternoon. Now, less than a week after starting to look around, I own a new carbon fiber Fast Bike.

Fast Bike

Dan, my PT, recommended taking my time and scouring the internet for a good deal. He said, “You’ll love this bike. You want it to be perfect.” Several other guys I respect recommended a similar course of action: Spending a good long time looking, looking, looking for the best deal on the best frame I could find and then separately doing the same thing for the other components. (See where the satisficer/optimizer thing comes in?) They’re totally right; I don’t need a Fast Bike any time soon. I have until July. I could spend the intervening months test-riding bikes at bike shops, continually checking online for good deals, accumulating high-end components and ridiculously good prices, etc. But I, being a satisficer, found a solution that met my needs — the bike fit, it has excellent components, it’s carbon fiber, it’s well-cared for, it was in my price range — and so I went with it. Will I regret this purchase? Very, very doubtful. Because as a satisficer, I’m comfortable with the fact that I did well and now I won’t waste any time agonizing how I could’ve done better. You can always do better. Why worry about it?

Now please excuse me; I have a winged bike to fly.


Day’s Verse:
The great day of the LORD is near—
near and coming quickly.

Zephaniah 1:14a

The weather online says it’s “breezy” outside. When I came down this morning, our 6-chime windchimes had 2 chimes still attached. The strings holding the remaining 4 chimes had snapped*. I wouldn’t call that merely breezy. Or if it is, I don’t want to find out what they describe as “windy.”

Wind aside, Rachel and I are going to take a ferry ride across to Kingston for lunch today. She’s never taken a real, honest-to-goodness Washington State Ferry (the Alki shuttle doesn’t count) despite having lived here for years. For shame! How could you live here all these years and never see End 1 or End 2? Or lean into the wind on the front of the ferry and almost get lifted off your feet? Or see the other ferry going the other way and say, “There we are”? Yes, they’re a bit shabby and most have seen better days, but Washington State Ferries are an institution that I love almost as much as the mountains. At least if the state has budget problems, the mountains won’t get cut.

*In the interest of full disclosure, one of those chimes fell off a while ago. The other two have fallen within the last couple days.

Gripe, Gripe, Gripe

Day’s Verse:
Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Revelation 4:8 (who is “they”? Check out this description.)

What is the point of puncture-resistant tires if a darn pointy rock can poke a hole in the tire? I ask you. The Schwalbe Marathons Dean hooked me up with were easy to get on and off, and my greatest struggle was spreading out the stays to get the wheel back on the bike (my rack compresses the chain- and seat-stays, so when I take the wheel out, the compress together a little bit and you can’t just slip the wheel back in place). Still, despite fixing the flat, I’d already lost those last 5 warm, rainy, headwindy miles, and that rankles.

Speaking of rankling, I’ve been reading A Tale of Two Cities and although I’m loving Dickens’ prose, I’m so ready for him to GET ON WITH IT! Of course, my friend Rachel is reading Les Miserables, unabridged, and so I’ve really got nothing to complain about when it comes to slow-moving plots. But today I was trying to describe the plot of A Tale of Two Cities to somebody who had never heard of it (Seriously! Education today, I’m telling you — not what it used to be. What do they teach in school these days?! Get off my lawn, you kids!) and I had a difficult time knowing what to say about it. Also I’d already told him I kept falling asleep while reading it, so when I couldn’t even explain the plot very coherently, he didn’t seem convinced that it was actually a good book.

In other news, dinner tonight, assuming I get my act together, is corn chowder. Ian doesn’t like corn chowder, apparently, but I’m making it in the hopes that this recipe will be an exception. I just have to stir my very tired stumps and get cooking. The last few days I’ve felt deeply lethargic, and it’s been an effort to even wash dishes or get out of the house for anything. Sleeping more doesn’t seem to help. I think I need something more constructive than just this Bonney Lake audit report and the endless promise of LCI work for BAW. I’m considering starting a more rigorous training plan as a way of structuring my time, and as part of that, I’ve ordered a heart rate monitor. Now I just have to learn how to use it.


Why I’m Tired Today

Day’s Verse:
You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Revelation 2:3

Where I Walked January 3

For reference, I included the route distances listed in that upper corner. If you add those up, you’ll find that I traveled 25.6 km, just a hair under 16 miles. I prefer to travel long distances on two wheels. As such, I don’t generally think of 16 miles as a very long way: After all, that’s about an hour of bicycling. Yesterday, though, I traveled every inch of that distance on foot, having been stymied in my plan to complete the Bonney Lake bicycle audits on bike by the copious amounts of ice still on the ground. I guess Bonney Lake’s proximity to Mt. Rainier may have something to do with that. Anyway, all this to say that I walked farther than I’ve ever walked before (not by much; Ian and I did 12-ish miles of a hike in Seaside nary a month ago) and today I’m feeling a tad achy.

Which made my 7:00 am physical therapy appointment interesting, to say the least. Fortunately, by the time I’d ridden there, my muscles warmed up enough to not howl in protest when he asked me to do things like, oh, walk down the hallway or lift my knee up while standing on one foot. My doctor recommended I do some PT sessions to help my ongoing back pain, which she thinks is due to muscles and not bones. This is my first time going to a PT, and I didn’t really know what to expect. What I got was a guy who’d just ridden to work himself — he did a Superman-style change into professional clothes while I waited — and who clearly knows a huge amount about muscles and bones and the way they work. He told me lots of things about my back and its muscles; he also told me to reduce the amount of sitting I do. Huh. I left feeling hopeful, for the first time, that I might not have to just keep living with my back being stiff and sore all the time. I didn’t realize how much it’s been a low-level bother, always feeling a little bit uncomfortable with occasional stabs of real pain, for a long, long time. But now maybe that will change. Hope! Never guessed it’d come in the form of a couple rolled-up towels, monkey bars, and a strangely relaxing laying position.

Merry Christmaaaaauuuuggghhh!!!

Day’s Verse:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Here’s how yesterday started:
Christmas 2010
Ian and I woke up happy, looking forward to the day. We took this picture in front of our first Christmas tree (which we’ve dubbed the Christmas bush). We gave each other presents. I prepared some dinner rolls for the evening. We loaded up the car with gifts and defrosted berries and decamped for Mom and Dad’s house, where Colleen made crepes, which we topped with the berries, yogurt, and powdered sugar. We exchanged gifts (Colleen and Jordan gave me an enormous cookbook of just cookie recipes — I can hardly wait to get started). We gave away a lot of Mom and Dad’s money to charity (water-related charities benefited greatly this year). Then Dad and I went for a bike ride while Ian stayed home and made scalloped potatoes. Our families were coming over to our house for Christmas dinner, the first-ever Christmas we’ve hosted.

The entire tone of the day changed when I arrived home from my bike ride. Ian was in the kitchen making miserable noises and desperately working on the potatoes. Turns out, the source of Ian’s distress wasn’t so much the potatoes as the fact that he discovered why the flooring in our kitchen was starting to peel up around the edges: Water. In the subfloor. Not under the sink, but coming from the dishwasher. When you stepped on the floor, it squished like mud. This all came to light about an hour before our families were supposed to arrive. The house still needed all manner of prepping, and we couldn’t do anything about the dishwasher immediately aside from not running it, so we rushed around getting ready for dinner. We’ve never tried to entertain nine people before; this brought to light the fact that our silverware came in a set of eight, and we have no more than 4 of each set of matching napkins. Also we only have the one oven, which is a real limiting factor. Then people and food started arriving (the Fergusons showed up earlier so we could do Christmas present exchanging with them — Deborah is going to help me with our back yard, and Gary’s going to help me fix our leaky toilet, both fabulous gifts), and it felt like the next thing I knew, every surface in the kitchen had food on it.

Dinner went pretty darn well, considering we had to wash everything by hand. Even with nine people, we hardly made a dent in everything. Mom’s 18-lb turkey hardly looked touched; same for the spinach salad and its toppings. In fact, the only thing that did look touched was dessert: Happy Birthday, Jesus! Birthday Cake (actually chocolate cherry jubilee cake, which we only make on Christmas; before cutting it, we sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus) with vanilla ice cream and a pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Everybody made good inroads on those.

Between dinner and dessert and for a bit after dessert we played Apples to Apples while we took turns doing dishes and Gary finished carving the turkey. Mom pulled me aside briefly and pointed to the toilet in our downstairs bathroom. The tank was sweating copiously, with water running down the sides and pooling on the floor. She’d put down a towel, but it was wet, wet, wet. The toilet itself wasn’t leaking; the water was just so cold and we had so much moisture in the air from all the cooking that it kept condensing and running down. We left the towel there for the time being, there being not a lot else to do.

Just when everybody was starting to feel the evening winding down, talk turned to our soggy floor, which had continued oozing alarmingly all evening. Gary produced a toolbox and with some finagling he and Dad extracted the dishwasher from its nook. First we noticed that water was quickly dripping from where the water intake hooked to the dishwasher. Turning off the water to the dishwasher solved that problem. We further extracted the dishwasher and that’s when we saw this:
Dead Rats
Gary: “Rats. Literally.”

At this point — finding a rat nest with dead rats inside behind our leaking dishwasher while standing on the peeling-up, soggy kitchen floor, with Mom having also just pointed out the water underneath the toilet in our downstairs bathroom — I think I went a little crazy. Fortunately, Gary and Ian extracted the rats and their nest and threw them in the garbage. Everybody packed up their food and headed off. We dug out our box fan and started blowing air on the kitchen floor. Then we went to bed, exhausted. I can hardly believe it was really all just one day from getting up and giving Ian his gifts all the way to finding dead rats behind our leaky dishwasher. This will certainly be a Christmas that goes down in family lore. The Year of the Rat.

What the Coffee Shop Proprietor Said

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.
1 John 3:18-20

Yesterday I walked into a coffee shop near 34th Ave and Meridian, near Fremont (I’m never 100% sure of where Seattle neighborhood borders begin and end; I’d have described it as Fremont, but it might be Wallingford). I had ridden my bike 17 miles from Bothell, was meeting a friend at his work nearby, and planned on riding another 17 miles home again shortly. My friend was still engaged, so I decided to kill some time eating something bready and delicious from this coffee shop nearby (there’s always a coffee shop nearby around here). I walked in, all bike-kitted out.

Me: [Pointing to an oatmeal raisin cookie] I’d like one of those big huge cookies.
Proprietor: Are you sure?
Me: [Puzzled] …Um, yes.
Proprietor: Because it’ll make you fat.
Me: [Speechless]

Even now, I’m really not sure what the proprietor was trying to tell me. None of the explanations I can think of are positive. I wish now that I had said, “You’re right! I don’t want one of your cookies. I’m going to another coffee shop instead,” or something along those lines. Instead, I paid my $2.25 (I’m telling you, if I could charge $2.25 for my cookies, I’d be rich in no time), got my cookie and left. I stood out on the veranda enjoying the meager Seattle sunshine and when I glanced back in and saw the proprietor doing something nearby, I didn’t even give him a smile.

I did smile later, though, when my friend arrived with my missing scarf. As it turns out, his roommate’s girlfriend (or mom; he wasn’t totally clear on that point) had seen the scarf in the mailbox and brought it in, thinking it was a Christmas present for one of them. The scarf has been sitting in my friend’s roommate’s room this entire time, apparently unbeknownst to the roommate. When my friend asked if his roommate had seen a scarf, the roommate said no. However, the authentic Scottish Ferguson tartan scarf is safely home again after a little over a month of adventures. I’m sewing a tag with my name and phone number on it after this.

Oh, and the cookie hasn’t had any negative effects. Yet.