“Breezy”

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.

Blah.

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.

Illuminate

Day’s Verse:
Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.
2 Peter 2:8-9

Christmas on Saturday puts churches in a strange position: Church the day before Christmas and the day after Christmas? No church the day after Christmas? Our church made a call and they aren’t having church next Friday or next Sunday. Instead, last night at 5:00 Journey Church had its Christmas service. Last year we attended the Christmas service, but it was only Ian’s first time at the church ever. This year, we’ve both been volunteering at church for a while — Ian doing media stuff and me doing coffee; we’re playing out gender roles oh-so-nicely — so we helped with the service last night. Turns out they had everybody arrive at Kirkland Jr. High at 1:30 pm, and the place turned into a hive of activity for the next three hours. Two other ladies and I spent most of that time putting snack foods onto plates in pretty arrangements. Ian spent that time getting to play with the bank of stage lights the church rented. I’m thinking about switching what I help with.

Anyway, the service went well. It was complicated from a logistics standpoint, but they kept it short and simple from a participation standpoint. Three people, including the pastor, talked about light and the meaning of light; they left us with the idea that God gives us the gift of being able to help change peoples’ lives and that each person is the best Christmas present. We sang a few traditional Christmas songs and saw this video (which I think they showed last year, too):

Upside Down (Christmas Eve) from Crosspoint Church on Vimeo.

And then they had a reception-type thing after the service. That’s when all those bits of food came into play. Five people took trays and circulated them through the crowd, coming back every so often for refills. People ate…pretty much everything. My personal favorite food of the night: The homemade mozzarella and bacon pizza. Yum. Those little brownie bites from Costco came in a close second, though. Cleanup was pretty easy for my team, and by about 7:00 I was ready to go. I’d ridden my bike there, as Ian had a meeting earlier, so I rode my bike home again. It was dry but fairly windy, a pretty OK night ride, actually… If only I hadn’t had so many bacon pizza bites.

This morning I was supposed to meet up with my counterpart, Sander, from Feet First and go to Bonney Lake to do more bike audits around four schools. Yesterday, however, I checked the weather and saw to my dismay a 90% chance of rain. I called Sander and we formulated a plan that has resulted in our canceling the trip to Bonney Lake today. I’m happy about this. The deadline for the bike audit report isn’t until the end of January, and I’d like to spend this week with family and friends rather than on Bike Alliance stuff. Maybe next week, if any day looks sunny and reasonably warm, I’ll stir my stumps and make the trek to Bonney Lake. In the meantime, I plan on finishing Christmas shopping (this year somehow it’s snuck up on me, and I’m woefully unprepared), wrapping Christmas presents, and playing.

Spoiled Soup and Sunny Days

Day’s Verse:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2

ARRRRGGGHHH!! I woke up at 5:30 this morning with a start, realizing that the delicious clam chowder we made last night — with enough leftovers to feed us for days — was still sitting out on the counter. Ten hours later. We forgot it after finishing The Rocketeer. It had such excellent flavor, and I spent about three hours making it (although the last few hours were just simmering with the occasional stirring). And now I have to throw it away. I feel queasy at the thought of the waste of the food and money, the hours of cooking it, and most of all how much I looked forward to having it as leftovers, since soups are always better on the second day. I guess I’d probably feel queasier if I ate the soup, but it’s sure hard to convince myself of that right now. DARN IT. I should’ve just put it into the fridge while it was warm, rather than letting it cool on the counter.

Aside from cooking potentially food poisoned soup, I spent a good portion of yesterday on Bicycle Alliance work. I’m drafting the first of 6 short reports on my observations of bikeability around schools in the city of Bonney Lake. The rest of the daylight hours, of which there were few, I spent on a 30-mile ride around the Eastside. The sun came out and it was a glorious brisk day for a ride. Once home, I made the ill-fated clam chowder, which Mom and Dad came over and enjoyed. The sunny-but-cool temperatures made it an excellent evening for warm soup. After Mom and Dad left, we watched The Rocketeer, which is always a fun movie.

In my down time, I’ve been reading both the book about fantasy and real life and a book called Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I can’t speak to it much, as I’ve only read a few chapters, but I will say this: They’re no C.S. Lewis. Oh, for some well-written Christian literature. Seems every book I’ve been subjected to for church has ranged from tolerable at best (Boundaries falls into that category) to horrific at worst. Why is it so difficult to find high-quality, well-written Christian writing?

Anyway, today is going to be full of Fergusons. Ian and I are spending the day at the Pike Place Market with his parents, followed by dinner with them and then our annual Taproot Christmas play. I do enjoy having the luxury of spending time with our families whenever we want. …or whenever they’re in the country.