Monday, September 20, 2010

Nice Weekend

Megan and her friend Andrew were in Spokane for the weekend. We had a lovely visit, including some bicycle shopping, a session at the REI scratch and dent sale, and good food at the Spokane Farmer's Market, Two Seven, Maggie's and Anthony's. Megan convinced Andrew to come to the UU Chuch yesterday by trying to explain that our family wasn't religious, despite my vocation. I think he understood better after hearing my sermon, which was a reprise and expansion of one done in July about "What I Don't Believe". We had a full house for the second service, which felt really good.

The bicycle shopping episode brought up a challenge that I know I will face for the third time in my life. Megan looked at a bike at WheelSport, where I bought mine. She was somewhat surprised that I not only had their phone number in my speed dial, but that the guys greeted me by name when we entered the store. That fact, paired with my seeing several people I knew at the Farmer's Market led Megan to comment on how much I enjoy knowing people and being known. I resemble that remark.

When we moved from Lawrence, Kansas to Mount Vernon, Washington in 1998 I went from being a public figure to being a total unknown. For the first six months after our move I travelled back and forth between worlds, tripping to Kansas to complete my work, and back to Washington again. The contrast was striking. I was once recognized by the hotel clerk in Lawrence where I checked in very late one night after arriving on a delayed flight. In Washington I was totally unknown. In truth I enjoyed fame far more than anonymity.

I am completing the first quarter of my interim year at UUCS. I am fully engaged - a bit too much so - and enjoying my role. In nine months I will drop off the map again. There will be more time for my own pursuits, and more flexibility in Sally and my schedule. There will also be the experience of checking the email in-box again and again for the messages that never come, and being recognized by children in the grocery store who ask their parents, "Didn't we used to know that man?"

Like living without a steady income, I'm confident that I will eventually master the challenges of going incognito. Still, Megan's observations this weekend give me pause.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Late Summer Travels

Sally and I have taken a couple very nice, brief trips to mark the end of our cool Spokane summer. Last week we drove to Kennewick, picking up Megan, and then continued to Corvallis for a couple days with Erin. We had a lovely drive through the Columbia gorge. The low angle of the sun made the water appear deep blue green. Traffic wasn't difficult through Portland. We arrived in Corvallis and road our bikes the two miles from the hotel to Block 15, the shrine to micro-brewing that became my home away from home for the next three days.

While in Corvallis we were able to visit Erin's new house and meet, for the first time, her roommate Kyle. The farmer's market in Corvallis is always a hit, as is the opportunity to peruse the many lovely stores and shops downtown. My favorite acquisition this trip was a new stainless steel travel mug, the "JoeMo". It is really nice to drink from, and keeps the coffee very hot.

We returned from Corvallis via Hood River, where Megan, Sally and I met my brother Tom and his wife Debbie for dinner on Sunday evening and coffee on Labor Day morning.

After a couple days in Spokane Sally and I drove to Lethbridge, Alberta. We ate our way through eastern BC, and then joined Sally's engineering colleagues for an ag conference in Lethbridge. Though Lethbridge is said to be the sunniest locale in Canada, we arrived in a steady rain. I can't help but think of the parallel between this circumstance and those climate-change deniers who use snowstorms as "proof" against climate change. Anyway....

The program year at the church now begins in earnest. I think I'm ready, and know it will pass quickly. At my age a year isn't such a long sentence. There's no hope of parole, good behavior or not, so I'll just do my best, and try to enjoy the journey.