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!

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.

What I Did: Quincy TTT and After

Day’s Verse:
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.
Ephesians 1:11

Oh boy, all this exciting stuff has happened since I posted last.

Actually it hasn’t. Sorry to disappoint you. But stuff in general has happened.

I drove to Quincy via Highway 2, through Leavenworth and Wenatchee. I kept almost driving off the road, gawking at the gorgeous fall color. It wasn’t New England-y in the least, because it was almost entirely bright yellows, and mostly deciduous interspersed among evergreens.

The sun glinted off the river, which flowed and rippled in some places and in other places moved slowly enough to reflect the golds, bronzes, reds, and oranges in still patches. Higher up, mountainsides bare of trees had transformed into a patchwork of the most vibrant green, red, orange, and yellow heather (?) you’ve ever seen. The view was just spectacular. Words really can’t do it justice, and I was on a schedule, so I sadly couldn’t stop for pictures.

Then I got to Quincy, little North Mexico. I stayed in the Crescent Motel, which was my second-worst motel experience ever (my first-worst experience being one involving bedbugs on our drive across the country with the U-Haul). It was dark — half the lights in the hallway were out — and depressing. The ceiling was low compared to the incredibly wide hallway, and every room had hospital-width doors, which made it feel oddly surreal. The decor was hideous. The carpets were stained in bizarre, disturbing ways. I could hear everything happening in the room next to me (happily, nothing like this): The TV show and phone conversation in the evening; the 6 o’clock radio alarm clock; the shower; those cement wall blocks don’t insulate very well. I had a fly in my room, found a hair (not my own) in the tub, and a centipede in the hallway. I hate centipedes almost as much as I hate earwigs. The continental breakfast was the nastiest I’ve ever seen — OJ settling out, congealing scrambled eggs and sausages, a few quartered old muffins and some old bread for toast. Most of all, there was the entryway:
Crescent Motel
Yes, those are three 3-foot-tall Elvis statues in front of home-made gold glitter letters, since you ask. The second night I spent there, it was a real effort not to slit my own wrists out of sheer desperation.

The next day, Friday, I learned from one of the PE teachers that before becoming the state’s nastiest motel, that building had been a mental hospital (“place where crazy people live,” is the way he put it). SO MUCH was explained.

Wednesday afternoon I paid $75 for the pleasure of staying there. I thought that covered Wednesday and Thursday nights — it was that quality of place. But the Thursday afternoon I got back and found my keycard had been disabled. I had to pay another $75 to spend a second night there. Now I kind of wish I’d just gone to the Best Western-style place down the road. Shudder. It was awful.

Happily, that was the worst part about Quincy. The teachers I worked with were engaged and willing to give this a try, even if they weren’t sure what they were getting into. We had five PE teachers, and it was so refreshing to have more than three participants. It’s amazing how even just a couple more makes all the difference in the world. I’ve taught this enough that I feel confident coming into a town, scouting it out, and teaching confidently without knowing all the details going into it. I’m much more comfortable winging it/playing it by ear now. I think the teachers can tell that I’m relaxed and competent and enjoy doing this.

Although we had a real concern about time this time — one of the teachers had to leave at 1:30 to coach a football game, two hours early — we got through everything in good time and didn’t have to sacrifice breaks or lunch. I was glad none of them wanted to be TS101 certified. That sped things up. One of them was also a bicyclist who owned a pretty nice bike, and that really helps too: One of their peers saying “When I ride my bike, I…” has a lot more credence than if I say the same thing.

Overall, I’d say it was a very good training. And now I know to never, ever stay at the Crescent Motel again.

I got home about 5:00 on Friday afternoon, having managed to miss almost all the traffic, which was excellent. Highway 2 was pretty, but not so spectacular in the rain. As usual, I came home exhausted. After the trainings, there’s all this follow-up work, and I always forget how draining teaching is. I work hard to be energetic, engaged, and enthusiastic, and that takes a lot of energy. Also, driving for 3.5 hours is amazingly tiring, maybe more so than riding my bike an equal time.

However, Dad and I did tentatively agree to do a bike ride Saturday morning, weather permitting. I woke up at 6:45 on Saturday and heard all the rain on the roof and knew that plan was out. But we quickly improvised and decided to hike up Mt. Si instead. Hiking is much nicer in the rain than biking. Along the way, we encountered a couple of our biking buddies coming down as we headed up. They, too, had evaluated the weather and opted for hiking.

On clear days, you can see all the way to Seattle from Mt. Si. Here’s what we saw at the top today.
Mt. Si Vista

Back at the bottom, I played with my underwater camera a little bit more (more here).
Underwater Leaf 3

That’s it.

See what I mean? Nothing exciting, but stuff did happen. Next week is looking low-key, and then the following week it’s off to Skagit Valley for another training. Oh, and tomorrow is the first Team Group Health event, their Annual Meeting (where we shell out all that $$ for team kit, racing licenses, and what-have-you). Excited and nervous about meeting my teammates.

Auburn & Burien TTT, Plus New Nutrition and Scoliosis Treatment

Day’s Verse:
Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened,
A minus that won’t add up.

Ecclesiastes 1:15

Well, gosh. Where has time gone? I can hardly believe it’s been 10 days since I last blogged. On the other hand, enough has happened that I could well believe it’s been more like a month.

Quick health-related update: I went and saw Emily Edison, a sports nutritionist, today (I now have two alliterative-name healthcare people in my life. Just sayin’). Wow, so much information to assimilate. Yet I think it may be the best $185 — the visit was definitely not covered by insurance — I’ve spent in a long time. I’m going to see her again in a couple weeks, by which time if I follow her recommendations, I will have revolutionized my eating. For some reason talking with her about food and my eating disorder made me a bit teary, which was odd.

I also am in the midst of getting an appointment with a scoliosis specialist. I found the doctor I’d seen back in high school — his name is Wally Krengel, and he now works for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Because he works for Children’s, they don’t readily make appointments for anybody over age 21, and definitely don’t see people over age 30. Dr. Morrison’s office had faxed a referral to his office, but when I called to make an appointment, they told me he didn’t work there anymore, and I needed to have it faxed elsewhere. And, last but not least, Children’s did have me in their system — as Kathleen Sullivan. I can’t get them to change my name without documentation of the name change. Ha! So that’s in the works: I have to wait until my request for an appointment is approved (hopefully!) by some high-up scheduling manager, and until Dr. Morrison’s office sends the referral that includes my maiden name to the right office. All this so I can talk to Dr. Krengel and hopefully get him to agree to weekly PT visits as palliative care for my scoliosis. If he does that, then I get to start the real fun of trying to convince the insurance company to agree to pay for it.

In happier news, I earned some money these last two weeks! I started up teaching again, albeit on a limited basis. As you may recall, I do work for two Bicycle Alliance grants: CPPW (Communities Putting Prevention to Work, a broad-based anti-obesity effort) and OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, a Safe Routes to School initiative aimed at getting kids walking/biking to school specifically). The OSPI teaching stalled for five months thanks to the Great Buy American Fiasco. The CPPW grant initially only scheduled two trainings, so it was always a secondary concern; it’s OSPI that has 27 school districts to train. Neither of them scheduled any trainings during the summer, partly thanks to the Buy American issue, and partly because PE teachers don’t work in the summer and contractually aren’t obligated to come to trainings during that time. That’s really a shame, because summer is still the best time to do the training. All that to say that, although I’ve been hearing rumors that the OSPI grant coordinator has hammered out some solution, my work for the last two weeks came from CPPW.

I taught August 17 and 18 in Auburn, at the same site where we did the fateful late-March monsoon training. This actually turned out to be a boon, since I already knew the area, had a road ride route scouted, and generally needed less time for setup than at a totally new site — all beneficial after almost 5 months off.

It was a difficult training, for a few reasons:

  1. I didn’t remember all the material perfectly. It’d been months since I thought about this, after all, so transitions weren’t real smooth and I repeated myself too often. I didn’t have details at my fingertips anymore, and I didn’t remember what was happening next very well. The Feet First trainer, Lisa, was also rusty on her material, and she and I have only taught together once before. That made it a bit tricky to start.
  2. We had three students, all male PE teachers, none loquacious, and one tending toward taciturn. These guys had not chosen to attend the first training, and were less enthusiastic than the first batch of CPPW trainees. Even with a higher level of enthusiasm, though, it’s just hard to get a good discussion going with only three people. One of the trainees hadn’t ridden a bike since elementary school, and he’d specifically avoided bike-related classes when doing his PE degree in college. He confessed to me at the end that he’d been dreading the training (no wonder he was late!).
  3. I co-taught with a newly-minted LCI named Mark, who volunteers for the Bicycle Alliance and gave his time for those two days for free. That was extremely generous of him, but it’s always rocky teaching with somebody for the first time. Each LCI tends to have his or her hobbyhorse, too, issue(s) that the LCI just feels MUST be covered — even if it’s not 100% relevant or necessary for that specific audience. Not having taught together, I didn’t know what Mark’s hot-button issues were, and we didn’t have the kind of rapport that would let me cut him off gracefully.

For those various reasons, I exerted a lot of energy on the training, and came home exhausted at the end of each day. Getting up at 5:00 am and commuting to/from Auburn each day probably contributed, too (I cannot BELIEVE people do that commute on a regular basis! How awful!). However, I think it was a success overall. The guys all expressed a greater level of enthusiasm about teaching the unit at the end; they gave high marks on our mostly-useless evaluation sheets; the guy who was dreading it asked how much an introductory-level bike would cost and where he could get one, and told me he felt much more confident and at ease; one of the other guys was already planning how he’d use his experience with the unicycle club in the unit. We also certified one of the teachers as passing Traffic Skills 101, and he did very well at the additional handling skills, which Mark taught par excellence.

A couple days after the class finished, I talked over my experiences with Mom, and we came up with some alternative ways of covering some of the material that I felt went less than smoothly.

On August 23 and 24, I taught for CPPW again, this time in Burien. I’d already gone down to the site, Cedarhurst Elementary School, the previous week to scout out the roads. The downside of teaching at the school was that it didn’t open until a bit later than I’d like, so I felt frazzled for time as we set up. The room, however, was perfect, and we were ready when the participants started showing up.

We had three participants schedule for that training, too, so I was ready with some modifications to how I taught for very small classes. Good thing, because only two people showed up. The third guy, who’d missed the previous week’s training, managed to also miss this week’s training (food poisoning one week, car trouble the next; I expect to hear he has to wash his hair or something next time). John, the Bicycle Alliance CPPW coordinator who has attended every one of his trainings so far, got a flat tire on his way there and had to replace all four car tires, making him 3 hours late. Fortunately, I didn’t actually need John there, so we just went on without him.

This training went more smoothly. It helped that I’d just gone over the material. I also taught with Jen from Feet First, and she and I have taught together often enough to do it smoothly. I didn’t have a co-LCI (what’s the point, with only two students?), so I could do whatever worked for me without negotiating. BWAHAHAH. Anyway — The students were also more familiar with bicycling. Both had done STP at some point, even if it had been many years in the past, and were familiar with traffic principles and bicycling principles in general. Both were women, although only one was a PE teacher, and it was actually really great to have all women in the training. I’d like to do more all-women classes.

So the Burien CPPW training went better. We finished early on both days; the first day, I did additional Traffic Skills 101 material with the one student who wanted to do certification in the extra time. She passed with flying colors. The second day, I left at 12:30, a record, and I felt anxious that I’d left out something important because it was so early. Anyway, it went well, and by the end, the PE teacher (who just dropped her daughter off in Pullman for her freshman year as a Coug) was calling me “dear.” Success?

Now I have a few weeks until the next training. Nothing is scheduled, but CPPW needs one more training, and OSPI should be starting up mid-September. I had forgotten how good I feel when I can leave knowing I’ve had an impact on how people ride, getting non-riders to think about bicycling… And how many hundreds of students are impacted? It’s amazing to think about, really. In the meantime, I have a PT appointment, I meet with Emily again, and I will be riding my bike plenty. Most of all, I need to reconnect with some friends I haven’t seen for most of August.

Yet Another Cold

Day’s Verse:
Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”
Matthew 9:12-13

Zillah turned out as challenging as I expected, with the added bonus of having Ian’s cold hit me on Wednesday. This is my second cold this spring, and I’m getting really tired of blowing my nose and having only about 60% of my normal amount of energy. So, Zillah: The summary is it was really difficult, and I’d rate it overall a mixed bag. Click below the fold for details.

Today, despite having a cold, I rode the basic Ramrod Training Series ride. It was only 67 miles and 3800′ of climbing, which I rode at an average pace of 17.2 mph. I took some decongestant before I left, hoping to avoid having to blow my nose constantly on the ride. The plus side of this was that decongestants make me hyper and I felt unnaturally good almost the entire way. I kept up with the fastest-paced group fairly easily and my legs felt great. About mile 45 my head started hurting again and I was ready for the ride to end. I didn’t ride up the Montreaux hill, which some people did as an extender, figuring that that’s the biggest, hardest hill around and I should probably let my body focus on beating this cold rather than dragging up a humongous hill mountain. Also I had a hard time breathing, thanks to congestion in my chest, and I think I’ll need my lungs functioning at 100% before I attempt Montreaux. Also I may need to get even lower gearing on my bike, or get a lot stronger. The down side of the decongestants was that I knew it was an artificial energy boost, not how I actually felt, so I didn’t really feel a sense of achievement at the end of the ride; and I still had to blow my nose all the time anyway.

Tonight Ian and I are joining my parents and some friends of theirs at a flamenco show. Should be interesting, assuming I can stay awake.

Continue reading “Yet Another Cold”

Zillah-Bound, and My Future

Day’s Verse:
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Matthew 6:34

This is the last training I’m scheduled to do for the foreseeable future: Thursday and Friday in Zillah. Right now I’m comfortable with that. After last week in the Pomeroy/Dayton region and the prospect of an extremely challenging class in Zillah (more on that in a moment), I’m ready for a break from these trainings.

Zillah’s looking challenging because of the six participants, one tore her ACL last year and can’t pedal a bicycle and another may not even know how to ride a bike. When I spoke to the organizer on Monday, he expressed some surprise at our need for a classroom that we could use for the duration of the training. And, last but not least, all the participants have to leave by 3:00 pm both days. My challenges:

  1. Including and making the training meaningful for participants who cannot ride a bicycle at all.
  2. Adapting to the classroom space available.
  3. Covering all the material in an hour less than allotted while not making it feel rushed and providing time for people to absorb the information.

After I finish the training, I have another interesting challenge: What do I do with myself? The trainings are expected to resume in mid- to late August and go through October. Between now and then I’ll have a number of open months. After the trainings finish, I really have to give some serious consideration to my long-term future.

Do I want to continue teaching bicycle classes? That could go a couple ways: I could resume teaching for Cascade Bicycle Club, which always needs LCIs; or I could try to start my own small business teaching bicycle classes. I’ve thought in the past about focusing on bicycle commute classes for businesses, since larger companies all have commute trip reduction responsibilities. When I think about starting my own small business, I immediately start feeling overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do it. It’s a fairly nerve-wracking, high-commitment prospect.

Do I want to stay with nonprofits or go back to the corporate world? I’m enjoying the flexibility I have right now, but that looks an awful lot like uncertainty in a different light. Nonprofits so often depend on unstable funding sources (as I’m coming to understand); also, working for nonprofits always involves a certain amount of ambiguity and multiple hat-wearing. I don’t know if I want to stay in that world. To some extent, I’m ready for a more cut-and-dried “this is your job, now do it” approach taken in most corporate environments.

Do I want to volunteer and bide my time for a few years? Ian’s job can provide for us, although the extra income I bring in will help pay for things like the new roof we’ll be purchasing in the next 5 years. I have my $4,750 AmeriCorps education award, which is good for 5 years from last November; I could go back to school, take a long trip, or who knows what.

All I really know is that I’m not cut out to sit around the house by myself all day. People are meant to use their skills, and not doing that just leads to misery. What that’ll look like for me remains to be seen. In years past, that uncertainty about the future would have unnerved me. Now I’m learning to let Future Katie worry about that stuff while I, Present Katie, focus on living the moments I have right now to their fullest.

Back from the Palouse & April 23 Ride Report

Day’s Verse:
Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last.
Luke 23:46ish

They call ’em the Palouse Hills, and rightly so, as far southeastern Washington does have its share of impressive hills. But I’d like to suggest another name: The Palouse Wind Tunnel. More on that later; I’m jumping ahead.

Instead of telling a long-winded tale, let me give you the highlights — but only if highlights also includes low points, because unfortunately, this trip to Pomeroy had very little to recommend it. Check beneath the fold for “highlights” of the trip, in no particular order.

On Friday evening, after driving back from Dayton, I mowed the lawn and then went to Good Friday dinner with our journey community from church. It was nice to spend the evening with friends rather than by myself.

And a quick ride report. Today I rode 75 miles, extending the 55-mile RTS #5 ride by riding to and from Marymoor, which was the official starting point. The front riders took it easy today so I was able to keep up with them almost the entire way. The RTS rides are interesting in that there’s no regrouping, so if you fall behind at a stoplight or going up a hill, you either speed up to catch the group, or you stay behind alone forever. I hung on until maybe 10 miles from Marymoor, after which I slowly fell farther and farther behind. Even so, I averaged 17.4 mph to that point, and averaged 17.0 mph total, with an average heart rate of 148 (that means I was working pretty hard overall). Dad and I took a slightly hillier way back, avoiding the Sammamish River Trail, which slowed my average a bit. Why? Because today was the most gorgeous day we’ve had since last August, sunny and highs in the 60s, and everybody else went for a bike ride or a walk on the trail. I finished the ride in shorts and short sleeves. As a result, it also appears that I’ve managed to get my first sunburn of the year, including starting an excellent fingerless bicycle glove tan that I sport every summer.

Continue reading “Back from the Palouse & April 23 Ride Report”