Othello Pod Meeting Report

Day’s Verse:
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Matthew 26:27-29 (context)

Yesterday my AmeriCorps cronies and I met together in Othello, WA. If you’re like me, you need to look it up to have any idea where that is. Let me help you out with that.

View Larger Map

As you may notice if you zoom the map out, that city is in eastern Washington. In perfect weather, it takes about 3 hours to drive from Seattle to Othello. I left the house at 6:15 to meet my carpool at 6:40, aiming to arrive at 9:30. Unfortunately, as those of you who live in Washington know, yesterday’s weather could hardly have diverged more dramatically from “perfect weather.” This is what we saw as we drove over Snoqualmie Pass:

Othello Pod Mtg: Snoqualmie Pass in the Morning

Happily, Mom had equipped me with 15 freshly-baked hot cross buns from Hillcrest Bakery to share with the three guys in my carpool. We didn’t starve or freeze, and we made it to Othello under extremely ominous, dark clouds.

As you can see from the map, Othello isn’t exactly a large or happening town. When Heather and I planned this Pod meeting, we struggled to find activities for our group to do that would be educational and that would take up more than 30 minutes at a pop. Eventually, we settled on visiting the Grant farm — they give tours — followed by a BBQ lunch there, and then going for a hike in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. On the way to the farm, we all had to pull off the road to make way for some huge farm equipment moving slowly down the road.

Othello Pod Mtg: Farm Machinery

At this point, we had clearly left Seattle far behind. Jane Grant’s tour of her farm, which took place despite howling winds and drenching rain, reinforced how different life is when you make a living off the land versus off of…well…the computer, I suppose. Jane was passionate about planting breaks around various fields — they hold 600 acres — and then watching as the birds come in. She and her husband have farmed there for 41 years, and seemed to have done pretty darn well. Most of all, I got a sense of joy from listening to her. She chose this life and lives it fully and passionately. I can only hope to have done the same when I’m pushing 70 years old.

Here we walked in the shelter of a break she had planted some years before.
Othello Pod Mtg: Wind Break

And here we got away from the rain in a genuine hay barn (she said it cost $80,000 and they have two of them. Yow).
Othello Pod Mtg: Hay Barn

After slogging around long enough to get completely soaked, we retreated to the warm haven of their ranch home — a true ranch home, both in style and location. There we prepared the BBQ we’d planned, but just indoors instead. Lots of people put their jackets or pants in the dryer and borrowed dry pants and socks. Jane and her husband Pirie were incredibly welcoming, wonderful people. They never asked us to leave, but about 2:00 Heather and I felt we’d taken advantage of their generosity long enough. Eventually we wrangled everybody into Phase 2, the Refuge hike.

Othello Pod Mtg: Refuge 1

Othello Pod Mtg: Refuge 2

Othello Pod Mtg: Refuge 3

As you can see, the clouds cleared up and the sun actually came out for a while. This inspired people to decide to try camping overnight there, where before as we walked through the muddy fields in the rain, they had leaned towards driving home that night. Even so, two other guys wanted to leave that afternoon, so we split up after the Refuge hike. The two guys and I went off, leaving the rest of the group to set up camp sites and check out the local bowling alley.

I’m not wildly enthusiastic about bowling, but I think that I might have preferred bowling to the nerve-wracking drive home. As we approached the pass, the clouds thickened and eventually covered the sky completely. Then it started raining, and then we got into the pass and the rain changed to snow.
Othello Pod Mtg: Drive Home

Not long after that, a sign warned us of a collision ahead. The next sign mandated chains for all non-four-wheel-drive vehicles. We had neither chains nor four-wheel-drive, but the driver just moved from western Massachusetts. I felt that if I had to ride in a car in that snow, better him than somebody else. Even so, we both sat in tense, anxious silence as we drove up the pass and then down the other side. Eventually we fell in behind a large, slow-moving semi-truck and just stayed there, driving comfortably at 10 mph in the truck’s tracks. Most of the way down, maybe 5 miles from Issaquah, we started seeing a huge backup of vehicles on the other side of the road. Turns out they closed the pass for a while. Boy am I glad we left when we did.

That was definitely the safe and prudent thing to do. Sadly, that meant I arrived at the Good Friday dinner for church at 8:45 rather than 8:00 as I had hoped. Plenty of food remained, though, and I sneakily inhaled deliciously-seasoned baby potatoes while they talked about the meaning of Good Friday and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It’s not that I take Jesus’ death lightly, but I had to catch up on dinner before dessert! After dessert, of course, we socialized with lots of people we barely know. Ian said later that the dinner just reinforced how friendly and wonderful the people at our church are, and that this is definitely the right church for us. For my own part, I focused on getting through the meal without snapping at somebody or seeming extraordinary churlish. My long day in Othello and trying ascent/descent through Snoqualmie Pass left me pretty well drained.

That said, here’s today in a nutshell: Mom and Dad tried and failed to go to Bolivia; will try again tomorrow. KDOG door hanger “event” in the morning – met up with 3 KDOG members and gave door hangers to distribute. Also dropped off door hangers at Marymoor and Spot Wash. Got home and Ian had my new computer up and running. Spent the rest of the day eating, reading, and setting up the new computer. Very fast but can only support one monitor so far.

Slough of Despond

Day’s Verse:
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior…”

2 Samuel 22:2-3

Do you ever want to run screaming from your own life? It’s funny; I took this internship that we all agreed was perfect for me, combining my interests in biking, nonprofits, living in Seattle…the whole deal. What could be better?

Now, though, I’m at the end of my tether. Last night I broke down and just started weeping, paralyzed, with a pile of laundry in my arms. I couldn’t do anything. I just stood there and wept out of desperation and misery, my inability to handle everything that’s converging in my life overwhelming me in one fell swoop. It was terrible. Anne of Green Gables would have called it “the depths of despair”; I truly felt (and to some extent still feel; after all, nothing’s changed since last night) that I couldn’t move, couldn’t do any more. That all my reserves were gone and I couldn’t force myself to keep going any longer.

As a result, I’m having a difficult time finding much motivation to work hard or, honestly, work at all. I’d like to take a day off, but I’m behind in AmeriCorps hours. We are house- and cat-sitting through the 31st, and of course also house-hunting, and those (especially the impending terror of spending nearly all our money on one huge, permanent choice, and committing to spend a hefty portion of Ian’s monthly salary) have added to the sense of chaos as I struggle to find some solid ground in the quagmire that is my life.

I keep telling myself, “Just make it through this week,” but somehow the next week doesn’t turn out any better. I wish we had a permanent home. Or that I had something predictable in my life somewhere.

My Life Is Full

Day’s Verse:
There was a man named Cornelius who lived in Caesarea, captain of the Italian Guard stationed there. He was a thoroughly good man. He had led everyone in his house to live worshipfully before God, was always helping people in need, and had the habit of prayer.
Acts 10:1-2 (context)

So I’m sorry if you had something else you wanted me to think about. My memory and processing power are all used up, and you’ll just have to wait until I complete some tasks and free up some space.

What’s filling my brain? Why, thank you for asking!

  1. House hunting. Holy mackerel, there’s a lot to think about with purchasing a home. We landed with Linnea Jones as our realtor, and one hour with her convinced me that she’s going to be a huge asset in our house hunt. She’s an expert we can rely on, and I’m really glad to have that resource.
  2. Financial details. In addition to paying for the home we choose (yesterday we got a pre-approval letter from Cobalt Mortgage, the financial people Linnea recommended, and somehow seeing those numbers on a piece of paper makes it feel so much more real), we also have to think about details like the fact we don’t actually have any furniture.
  3. Bike repair. Of course, the struggle to obtain money from Hertz to repair my bike continues. I haven’t heard anything since the adjustor came by last Thursday, even though I called the Hertz guy Monday morning. I also have to choose a shop to do the work, which is tough since I don’t have relationships with any shops like I did with Landry’s.
  4. KDOG activities. Yesterday evening I picked up 750 free KDOG door hangers printed by Leatherback Printing. Now I have to organize volunteers to distribute them all — before the Big City Council meeting on April 6th.
  5. AmeriCorps activities. Of course, I can’t leave out AmeriCorps! I’m working with another intern to plan the Pod meeting that takes place in Othello on April 2nd. Also, on Friday Every and I have a site meeting with the gal in charge of the interns, and I have to have a self-evaluation filled out by then.
  6. Internship activities. Let’s not leave out my job; I have a new volunteer coming for training tomorrow, and another prospective volunteer to prepare materials for, and training materials to prepare, and a commute brochure to finalize and get printed, and a 10 to 12 minute REI commuting seminar to prepare for early April.
  7. LCI activities. I’m co-teaching a Traffic Skills 101 class in late April, and of course that requires serious prep… If I can squeeze it in among all the other stuff.
  8. Church volunteering. I’ve agreed to start volunteering at Journey Church at some point. I’m assuming that will start in the next month or so, too.

All that said, I think it’s clear I may be feeling a little stress and that the chaos may be getting to me. However, I’m blessed with a commute that soothes many ills.
East towards Bellevue 2

For Reals!

Day’s Verse:
Hear and pay attention,
do not be arrogant,
for the LORD has spoken.

Jeremiah 13:15

At work, I’ve been doing research on policies for “hiring” and “exiting” volunteers. The Bike Alliance doesn’t have any such policies even for staff that I can find (caveat: I’ve looked, but they could exist somewhere I’d never search. Asking staff for help is on my list), so it looks like I’ll be writing them myself.

In my research, I came across a web site whose first sentence said, and I quote,

The fist section should contain consice and claer information about the purpose of the policy and its limitations must be clearly stated.

Frankly, I’m not sure I should trust that web site’s volunteer policy advice.

No Wonder

Day’s Verse:
Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

Proverbs 1:7

Now I know why my throat was sore after Bike Expo: Assuming I spent 30 seconds (probably a little long) talking to each visitor to the Bike Alliance booth for the entire 15 hours I spent at Bike Expo, I talked to 1,800 people.

On a totally different topic, check out this awesome road sign. It shows up at every intersection the 520 Bike Path crosses.

The sign:

The context:
Splat: The Whole Story

Now, I’m no urban planner, but I’m gonna guess that there’s something inherently wrong with the design of the path if, every time the path crosses a road, the cyclists are in such danger of being hit that they need a sign warning them about it. However, I also have a natural prejudice against paths that have you cross in crosswalks, since the first time I was hit by a car, I was riding across a cross walk. In fact, riding on sidewalks is 2.5x more dangerous for cyclists than riding on roads, even though sidewalks feel safer.

Today I put my clipless pedals on the Xtracycle and it felt like a whole new bike. I feel so much better about riding it longer distances now that I can get in and out without struggling with a stupid imprisoning toe clip at every intersection.

Bike Expo: Day 2

Day’s Verse:
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Acts 7:55-56 (context)

Funny thing; Day 2 of Bike Expo felt essentially the same as Day 1. I woke up so achingly sore from Day 1 that I could hardly stand up, let alone walk around. Conceding to my tired muscles, I agreed to have Ian drop me off and pick me up. Good thing I did; he dropped me off about 2 miles from the Expo venue, and even riding that flat, short distance took serious effort. I think I’m having a difficult time adjusting my mindset from Artemis — a fairly fast, zippy, titanium bike — to Charlotte — a very slow, very rugged, very utilitarian bike. It’s hard for me to shift from pushing to go a certain speed to just enjoying the ride and taking my time.

Anyway, for Bike Expo, Sunday did feel slower overall than Saturday, and we never got the kind of overwhelming rush of people that we had to deal with on Saturday. I’m glad, because by Sunday I had started feeling really, really worn out, and at the urging of miscellaneous coworkers (I think at one point 3 of the 6 people urged me to take time off after Bike Expo), I’m taking today off.

Here are a couple pictures of our booth during a lull time on Saturday:
Bike Expo Booth 1

Bike Expo Booth 2

Saturday I didn’t have time to take in any of the entertainment — I basically only left the booth to go to the bathroom, which, handily for me, was all the way across the building. That meant that I could legitimately meander through all the different stalls and areas on my way to or from the bathroom. However, I probably spent 30 total minutes out of the 9 hours going to/from the bathroom and incidentally looking at booths and vendors. On Sunday things were slower, and on one trip to the bathroom I happened to have my camera. The trip coincided most fortunately with the incredible display of bicycle gymnastics put on by the world-famous German cyclists:

German Acrobatic Cyclists 12

German Acrobatic Cyclists 5

German Acrobatic Cyclists 1

German Acrobatic Cyclists 2

Seeing those people in action made the weekend for me. I spent the entire demonstration in awe.

Actually, I think what really made the weekend for me was receiving the People’s Choice award for our booth. The volunteers who were there, including the President of the Board, attributed the nomination to my enthusiasm and friendliness, and said so to the Executive Director, who was also there. The Board President said something along the lines of, “The booth may have won, but it wouldn’t have without Katie.” I felt very gratified to hear that, and to know that people who passed through our booth actually remembered us and remembered us positively as a result of my hard work.