New Roof, Last Training

Day’s Verse:
People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all.
Matthew 4:24-ish

Today the Cornerstone Roofing guys come and replace our roof. Also today I leave for my last scheduled Bicycle Alliance training, in Port Angeles. Last night I slept terribly, dreaming about the roof going wrong, waking up anxious, and then thinking it was time to get up to finish packing for the training.

I’m excited to get the roof dealt with, but last week we had an interesting development that hopefully won’t spell trouble for the future.

A little quick back story: When we bought our house, we had to sign a Homeowners Association agreement (CC&Rs) that, among other things, stipulated we had to get approval from the Architectural Committee before making any changes to the exterior of our house. A new roof definitely counts as external changes. So we got the form, filled it out, and mailed it off along with a picture showing a sample of the roofing color we’d chosen. This approval can take up to 30 days, so we did this a while ago.

Early last week I got a phone call from one of the guys on the committee. He said the original roofs in the neighborhood had all been black, and they were concerned that the color we’d chosen (“Weathered Wood,” a dark greyish-brownish) wasn’t dark enough. Could they see a sample? Yes, I could get a sample, but how about if I gave them addresses of a couple houses with that color roofing? Cornerstone Roofing had given me references of homes nearby that they’d done, and that included a couple with the same color we chose. He responded enthusiastically that yes, that would be perfect. He’d email the committee and they’d get back to us next week. Oh…um…about that. Next Wednesday (today) we’re scheduled to put the new roof on. OH, really? Well, he’d make sure to go see those houses that week, and we’d hear back early the next week; and here’s his phone number, in case I needed to reach him. Since then, we’ve heard not a peep.

In this case, I’m trusting that no news is good news, because this is what’s going on in our front yard right now:
Front Yard

And this is the view from our bedroom window:
View from Bedroom

And last but not least, the incredibly cool conveyor belt used to move shingles from the delivery truck up onto the roof.
Conveyor Belt!!
If I was a little boy, this would be the awesomest thing ever, getting our very own construction project, including heavy equipment. As it is, it’s just almost the awesomest.

Anyway, I’m trusting that the Architectural Committee won’t have a heart attack when they see our new roof. Either way, I won’t be here to deal with it until next week! I’ll be in Port Angeles through Friday evening, and on Saturday have an all-day Team Group Health commitment. By Sunday I’m sure I’ll be so exhausted I won’t be able to get out of bed.

Wish me luck!

Give and Take

Day’s Verse:
Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.
1 Peter 4:8-ish

The Whibey Island training went very well. I had four participants, all PE teachers at Langley Middle School. They were engaged, enthusiastic, and eager to get started, all ingredients for a successful training. On top of this, they already do a number of revolutionary PE units — roller derby, in-line skating, boxing, kayaking, among others — so they worried far less about the logistics of running a bicycle unit than most of the teachers we train. Also, it was quite refreshing to have them not the least bit worried about lice in helmets. They’ve had almost 20 years of using shared helmets with no issues, and practically scoffed at my comment that it worried many teachers I’d trained.

Also, Langley is a lovely town. Most of the areas I’ve gone to have had a certain type of natural beauty, but usually when I leave, I know it’s the last time I’ll visit that town. Langley is one of the first towns where I’d actually choose to visit there for fun. And it had the added bonus of being just over an hour from home, which made driving back after I finished the training ever so much more enjoyable, an enjoyment significantly increased by the fact that I had a ferry ride in the middle of it.

As I mentioned before, this is the first training I’ve done since November-ish. What’s special about that? This is the first training I’ve done while (knowingly) pregnant. During the training, I felt pretty normal; I maintained a pretty normal level of energy, I think. I spent 22 hours working in two days, slept badly in the (of course) somewhat strange motel, and arrived home on Friday evening pretty tired. That was standard. The trainings always left me feeling drained and exhausted; typically I slept really well and the next day perked back up.

Not so after this training. Not in the least. I had planned on doing a good long training ride Saturday or Sunday afternoon, with some other moderate-distance ride the other weekend day. Instead, I woke up on Saturday and could not believe the level of exhaustion I felt. Here are some of the recent times I’ve felt most tired:

  • Recovering from having the real flu for 10 days.
  • Riding High Pass Challenge.
  • Using a pickaxe to break up the clay soil to dig the French drain.
  • Flying to London and having to stay awake until evening.

These things all tired me out, undoubtedly, but what I felt on Saturday and, to a lesser extent, Sunday put these all to shame. I had clearly borrowed energy from some personal energy bank to do the training, and on the weekend, I paid it back, with interest. Instead of doing a bike ride, I spent Saturday morning kind of blankly stumbling around, and people kept wondering if I was sick or something. The afternoon I napped, ate, and went to bed. I literally could not keep my eyes open. Sunday I had recovered enough to help with the cleanup my church did at Kirkland Jr. High; instead of a bike ride, Ian and I went for a walk, and in the evening we went to Ian’s improv showcase. Only on Monday did I feel energetic enough to actually do anything involving a bicycle.

That’s a lot of words, but I’ll summarize: The bike training went well, but I borrowed energy to do it, and unlike previous times I’ve taught, my body immediately exacted a dramatic toll for using that energy. This growing a baby thing is no joke, I’m telling you.

A Couple Random Things

Day’s Verse:
It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones.
1 Peter 3:18-ish

Did you know you can FedEx a horse? According to NPR, it’s true, and that’s how horses from America are getting to the London Olympics. They even have coach-class and business-class, with more spacious stalls in business class, so it seems. I just wouldn’t want to be the flight attendant cleaning up after an airsick horse.

Totally unrelated, but I have to admit, this made me laugh.
funny facebook fails - Failbook: My Only Regret Is The Custard
see more epicfails

…I know the feeling.

On that note, I am going to leave you for a few days. On Friday evening I’ll be back from the Whidbey Island training. Until then, be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Dream On

Day’s Verse:
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
1 Peter 3:8-9ish

Maybe it’s a cop-out to talk about the weather, but I think people like talking about it in general because it’s a relevant shared experience: We can all relate to weather. It has a tangible effect on our lives. We all have opinions about weather. Oh, and of course when talking about weather we get to express an opinion, so there’s no right or wrong. It’d be absurd to say, “No, you’re wrong, a sunny day is no good.”

I mention this because our weather has turned extremely strange the last few days, to the point of absurdity. Several days we’ve run the gamut from snow and rain to sunny, clear skies. We’ve had windy days, mostly atypical for Seattle, where the wind tends to remain light; days that started at almost 50° and dropped to the 30s by evening. Usually around here looking out the window in the morning is a pretty good predictor of what the day’s weather will look like in general, but the last couple weeks, we’ve hovered on the cusp of spring, sometimes tipping towards warmer, springier days and then tipping back to the wind, rain, and cooler temperatures associated with winter.

All this variability, besides providing free entertainment, makes planning outdoor activities quite difficult. Yesterday I had an appointment at 9:00 am. At 8:00, the rain was coming down hard and wind tossed it everywhere — nasty. I dressed for that, but by the time I left for the appointment, the rain had started tapering off and I arrived at my appointment sweaty and overdressed. By afternoon, we’d had heavy hail, which then stuck around as the temperature dropped, and then it changed to rain/snow… but by the time Ian arrived home, about 4:30, the skies had cleared and sun shone cheerfully.

This is particularly aggravating to me for two reasons: First of all, tonight my team has its usual hill ride, which I will do if it’s not icy; otherwise, I’ll ride on my trainer during the day. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know what the weather will be tonight until we get to tonight. Second, and more important, I’m really hoping for clear weather for this training. So far the forecast for Thursday and Friday look tolerable — Thursday, downright pleasant; Friday, perhaps somewhat iffier, but still pretty decent — but the forecast could change a dozen times between now and then.

If hoping for good weather makes a difference, we’ll have clear skies and 50° days the rest of the week. Ha.

It Is Time

Day’s Verse:
I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.
Ecclesiastes 3:13-ish

Strapping on my watch always helps me get into a working-world frame of mind. I don’t wear a watch at home; watches are for keeping track of time during a training and making sure we stay on schedule. During trainings, I usually preface our breaks by saying, “Okay, we’ll do a 15-minute break. It’s 10:25 right now, so be back by 10:40.” Then, at 10:40, I make sure we’re really going again. If people are off answering emails on their smartphones, we start anyway, because I’m a firm believer in sticking to the schedule. We start on time, and we almost always finish early. During the training, I keep an eye on my watch while the other trainer is talking, too, and I’ll help her keep on time (solicited help that we agreed upon ahead of time).

Some participants have commented that they find this overly controlling, seeing me as a time Nazi, with no flexibility in the schedule. But other participants have given me positive feedback for the very same behavior; these people are probably on-time type people themselves, and they appreciate adherence to advertised times. Personally, I believe in adhering closely to the schedule as a way of respecting the participants’ time. Most of them are teachers with 10,000 responsibilities, of which my training is just one — often one they don’t even want. By finishing on time or early, I feel like I’m able to help acknowledge that shared reality.

When I’m not working, though, I leave the watch on my desk. My phone — the watch replacement for many people — stays on the counter. I don’t keep an eye on the time at all, unless I have an appointment. Even then, sometimes I’ll set a timer rather than always watching the clock.

We have this societal agreement to divide time into all these discrete units: Years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds, and even smaller if you want to go there. That’s a handy convention, sure, but I want to just live, and let time take care of itself. This moment won’t ever come again. If I don’t live in it because I’m anticipating another moment, I’ve sacrificed something irreplaceable.

I get to practice this philosophy from here on out, because I had to cancel the training schedule for this week due to a forecast of “wintry mix” for tonight and Thursday in the Tri-Cities. Mixed snow and rain, followed by freezing fog: Not safe conditions for doing a bike class.

So my week, which looked busy, suddenly emptied out. I’m feeling let down and bummed out, because I looked forward to and was all prepared for this last training. I packed up the car and everything. We canceled 15 minutes before I had to leave the house. This was the last training until March, when a few school districts need last-minute training; then the grant ends after March, leaving me once again unsure about my future.

The big question is: What next? The big answer: It’s a mystery. I’m going to let future Katie worry about it, while present Katie lives in this moment.

If I Could Name Streets…

Day’s Verse:
Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
Matthew 5:39-42

This week I am going to Benton City for work. As I was looking at the map of the town, a series of their street names made me smile.

View Larger Map

I can hardly wait to visit Dusty, Windy, Snowy, Rainy, Lightning, Thunder, Sandy, and Breezy Lanes. On the other hand, I’m really hoping those aren’t indicative of typical conditions out there — I’m hoping to visit Sunny Lane and Dry Lane. Definitely no Snowy Lane on this trip.

This is the last training on my schedule until March. The grant concludes this coming March, meaning that’s the end of my job. Really this week is the end, and we just have a little bit of cleanup in the spring.

I’m going to be spending some time assessing my situation and figuring out what my future will look like, at least as much as a person can plan for the future. I can already tell it’s not going to be what I would’ve guessed even a month ago.

PS – To celebrate the end of my BAW trainings, I’m seriously considering getting this frame for my race bike. Zoom zoom.

Life After NaNoWriMo

Day’s Verse:
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.

Psalm 23:4

I haven’t said a peep about life all month, thanks to NaNoWriMo. Let’s stick with NaNo for a moment: On November 18, I hit my 50,000 word goal and, incidentally, wrapped the story up. That said, I feel that it’s my best novel yet, and the first one I actually care about enough to want to improve. As I wrote, I left a number of inconsistencies and unexplored avenues open that I would like to correct or expand upon.

To this end, I have taken the unprecedented step of actually printing and re-reading the tunnel novel, something I have never done with one of my novels before. Typically I believe in a scorched earth, do-it-and-don’t-look-back policy for National Novel Writing Month efforts. In fact, most of them embarrass me deeply, and I wouldn’t mind if they vanished forever. I leave them up on and publicly available on my blog to keep me humble.

This one I really invested in the characters; they feel like real people to me, although unlike in previous NaNos, I didn’t base them on anybody I knew. These people are truly fictitious, although they definitely draw characteristics from people I know. I care about them, what they think and feel, and I want to do right by them and tell their stories the best I can. This was a first attempt, and I plan on cleaning it up significantly before I post the PDF online. For the remainder of the month, I will be editing and revising the story.

For those of you who haven’t read it but are interested in doing so, contact me and I will give you access to the Google Doc version that’s much more reader-friendly than the daily blog posts.

November has been a difficult month in many other personal ways. First and foremost, on Monday, November 14, we found out that my cousin Valerie had passed away unexpectedly. This came completely out of the blue for us, and kicked off one of the hardest weeks I’ve had in a very long time. I didn’t know Valerie very well, but now I never will. Her choice breaks my heart, and I’ve spent a good amount of time after finding out about her choice red-nosed and puffy-eyed.

Within two hours of learning about Valerie’s passing, I was on the road to Goldendale to teach a Train the Teacher workshop. I spent almost three hours stopped, waiting in Snoqualmie Pass; while waiting, three truckers helped me put the chains on my car. Six and a half hours after leaving my house, I arrived, only three hours overdue. I taught the Goldendale training, which was the worst I’ve had in a while, for a variety of reasons. It couldn’t end soon enough for me. On Wednesday I drove home the southern route, through the Gorge, which had snow and slush on the ground to within 30 miles of Portland. That commute home took another six hours.

The rest of the month has involved a heavy concentration of Train the Trainer work. I taught in Mt. Vernon the first week, Pateros the second week, and Goldendale the third week. This coming week I have off, which is good because we’re flying down to LA for Valerie’s funeral. The following week I teach in Vancouver, WA; then, two more weeks in a row, Castle Rock and Kiona-Benton (near Tri-Cities). So I will have taught 6 out of 7 weeks from the end of October through mid-December.

Each training I refine what I do and say, and I have become very comfortable with doing the trainings, so I no longer get nervous or stressed beforehand. I’m confident that I can teach them, and fairly confident in the outcome. But each training is hours of preparation and packing, more hours driving, and hours of high-energy work. I come home exhausted. Have I just forgotten what it feels like to work a regular job, or is this harder than my previous experience? I don’t want to complain to people that I’m tired from my work, because mostly they look at me and say, “Um, yes, that’s what it feels like to have a job.” But it’s hard, and I come home really tired.

Having teaching work is generally good: I’m happy to have work, to earn money. After that last training in mid-December, I don’t have any work scheduled for months; and the grant (and my job) end March, 2012. The back-to-back trainings, however, start to wear on me. I’m alone in very remote parts of the state, tiny towns with nothing out there. I get lonely and depressed, especially the second night in the hotel room by myself. I don’t have a computer or smartphone, and start feeling deeply disconnected with my Internet brain eliminated. I read books and take hot baths, but I can’t ride out on dark, unfamiliar country roads by myself — that’s a recipe for disaster. I’m crazy, but not stupid.

Meanwhile, every weekend Team Group Health has been holding team rides, which all newbies are strongly encouraged to attend. I go to every ride I can, which means definitely Saturday morning, and Sunday morning if we don’t have church. That happens once or twice a month. Counting forward, we only have about 3 months until the first road race. I have so much to learn in those months, not to mention fitness to build, I’m excited and intimidated at the same time. I’m starting to learn teammates’ names, but there are 80+ members, and I don’t think I’ve even met all of them, and even the names of people I have met elude me frequently. I enjoy the team rides, but they’re also a lot of new information coming at us fast.

In short (I know, too late!), to be completely honest, it’s been a difficult month for me. Christmas is coming and I’m already feeling stressed at not having presents for people I love (or have to give presents to for other reasons).

I’d love to end this on a happy note, so here’s a picture for you. Not of puppies, sadly, but of the reorganization I did in my office. The back story first: I really hate running on tracks, and I’ve avoided bike trainers as essentially a track for bicyclists. However, people who know these things strictly ordered me to obtain a trainer so I could get ready for racing. As you wish.
It’s in my office so I can watch movies and/or listen to music on my computer while riding.