Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 44

Fifty or so days ago (who's counting?) Sally submitted her resume and associated materials for a new position with her agency. The announcement stated that the position would be filled 45 days from the application deadline of August 16th. That works out to September 30th, and makes today Day 44.

Sally was aware of this possible position two years ago. It is both a job and a location that would suit her well. Should she be selected, we would be relocating to Portland, Oregon. Thus our life and our future seems to hang in the balance. Are we moving? Are we staying? Who knows? After all, it is only Day 44.

It's good that we were busy this summer, which kept our minds and hands occupied while we awaited this moment. There was painfully little information provided us by the HR center in Fort Worth. Several weeks after the closing date we finally learned that Sally had made the panel of qualified applicants. A couple weeks later we heard that her references were being contacted. Now we wait, checking her email regularly (which would reveal a negative outcome) and waiting for the phone to ring. It is excruciating.

In the midst of this process we have come to the conclusion that we will be very excited if Sally gets the Portland job, and totally relieved if she doesn't. We have a good life in Spokane, and aren't chomping at the bit to leave. Still, being chosen for the new position would represent a crowning achievement for a woman who entered professional life in her 40's after being a stay at home mom for so long.

So we wait. I often say that the future is exploding into possibility with every decision and action in every present moment. That is true for EVERY moment, and yet some moments seem weightier than others. Whatever the ultimate outcome, I know we will look back on Day 45 as being a watershed moment for us and for our family. On Day 44 we simply don't know which side of the watershed we're on.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Enough Religion

There was a Facebook post this week that bothered me, beyond my usual Facebook-discomfort-level. It was about an article in the Christian Century by Lillian Daniel pointed at people who call themselves "spiritual but not religious". Following the comment line took me to other articles in which "progressive" Christian authors took atheists to task.

My discomfort, first of all, is that these authors think they know enough about atheists or non church attenders to chide them. I guess it's OK for non-judgmental liberals to be judgmental, as long as their criticism is aimed to their left.

Specifically, Rev. Daniel charged that non attenders were making up their religion. When a commentator asked if that were not true of the devout as well, Rev. Daniel replied, "My religion is not made up. It comes directly from the Son of God."

OK then. As I responded to another religion-based Facebook inquiry about our knowledge of God recently, "My Invisible Friend is real. Yours isn't."

Atheists, non-theistics, humanists and their ilk cannot discredit religion, and don't need to. The faithful generally discredit it themselves. If so-called progressives want to defend the rationality of their faith they should turn their ire toward the irrational among their number, and they are legion. Telling me that your Invisible Friend says that my non-theistic position is irrational would be laughable if you weren't so serious. And the seriousness of religionistas is what scares me much more than the rational arguments of atheists.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quite a week...

I noticed that it has been a week since I last posted anything here. It isn't that there is nothing to post about, you see, but rather the opposite. We've been busy.

Last week I worked on cleaning and sorting, which was overdue. Then, caught up in the adrenaline of it all, I decided to finish the sill between the kitchen and the living room. I'm not sure how a project that has lain dormant for two years becomes a priority, but there you are. On Wednesday I installed the oak planks. On Thursday, with Sally's assistance, the trim and moldings were added. I topped it all with two coats of polyurethane and called it good.

Friday featured clearing up the mess from this project and some general cleaning. When Sally got home from work we switched our attention to getting packed for the Megan and AJ Wedding Weekend in the Tri-Cities. Evan and Angie flew in Friday night and we all headed southwest to Richland.

I have performed quite a few weddings myself, but was privileged to be the father of the bride for the first time. What a joy! Everything went quite well. We made new friends and caught up with some long-time ones. We returned Sunday evening and got Evan and Angie back on a plane to Omaha yesterday mornng at 6:30.

The remainder of the day yesterday comprised laundry punctuated by naps and bites of the cherry pie Sally baked on Thursday. Morning came earlier than usual today, and I've spent most of the day reading. With Megan and AJ's wedding behind us I realize that the summer is at an end. With the arrival of the Equinox I'll take the opportunity to look back, and then forward. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reforest Spokane

Today is the last day to vote for the Lands Council project, "Reforest Spokane Day", in a national contest sponsored by Tom's of Maine. I've been voting every day, in accordance with the rules, and have encouraged others to do so. At the same time I've had the feeling that this effort is treating the symptom, rather than getting at the root of the problem (sorry).

The first thing the Lands Council might do, in cooperation with the city arborist, is work to educate citizens and homeowners before they
deforest Spokane. Each time a tree falls in a neighborhood in town the tree service companies swarm about like so many flies, canvassing the neighborhood to offer their opinions and services for other dangerous trees. This opportunistic exploitation needs to stop.

A couple years back a tree fell a block or two from us, hitting the house next door. We learned from an arborist that the tree that fell was located in a low area where runoff water accumulated, both weakening the tree and limiting its grip on the soil. Eventually the roots just pulled up. Within hours the tree service crews were everywhere in the neighborhood, and the sound of chainsaws filled the air as people gave in to their fears.

Our neighbor offered to pay to have our beautiful, large Ponderosa Pine removed, stating his fear that it would fall on his house, and his discomfort with the sap that was getting on his wife's car. We contacted an arborist who told us the tree was indeed healthy and a wonderful specimen. It will remain in place as long as we own the house. Our neighbor is unhappy. Sap on the car! Oh, the humanity!

Let's reforest Spokane with Ponderosa Pines. While they are growing, let's educate residents of our fair city about the inestimable worth of the trees they already have.

Monday, September 12, 2011


It's been a while since I blogged about bicycling. To tell you the truth, biking isn't so much recreation for us as it is transportation. We wish it were simply regarded that way more often. I noted some new, flattering "bicycle fashions" for women were being touted at a Spokefest booth yesterday. You know, I generally don't feel a need to change into performance clothes before driving the Subaru. I wish the same were true of bikes.

Anyway, Sally and I rode in Spokefest yesterday, taking the "Classic River Route" of 21 miles through Riverside Park. It was cool to set off with 1,900 other riders, and I liked having some of the roads and intersections cleared for our passage.

Our no-nose bike saddles were a major success. Sally's is a Comfort Saddle from the UK, and mine is a Nexride noseless saddle. The point is to reduce pressure on what we delicately refer to as soft tissues. The seats were a total success. We rode not only the Spokefest route yesterday, but also the 11 miles down and up South Hill before and after. Our legs were tired, but our "soft tissues" were neither sore nor numb. It's amazing that such saddles have not caught on more quickly. Change is difficult. Here we are after the ride. Note the seats, and the satisfied smiles!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow Your Nose

At 3:47 this morning I was startled from sleep by the stench of a skunk. I sprang out of bed, closed the bedroom windows and commanded the dogs to stay inside.

It didn't take long to figure out that the smell was not emanating from outside the house. Juni, our little Lab, had been sprayed again. I say again because this happens a couple times a year. It isn't that she isn't smart enough to avoid the encounters. Her eyesight is failing, resulting in her running right into trouble again and again. We'd remove the dog door and keep her inside all night, but her eyesight isn't the only part of her functioning that is failing.

So the stink wasn't outside. That changed everything. We threw all the windows open and used our favorite product, tecnu, to clean the dog as best we could at that hour.

Since I was awake anyway I just started my day early with a review of the news online. The dominant story was the GOP presidential candidates' debate. The parallel that occurs to me is not that these candidates are funky (true though that may be) but that the fashion of our day is to project the problems of our nation outside. It's immigrants. It's Islamic terrorism. It's European-style socialized medicine. It's a President from Kenya.

Truth is that our problems are not mostly external. Pogo had it right in 1970: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

We cherish our unsustainable lifestyles based on a growth centered economic model that is leading us to ruin. It's increasingly clear that a cataclysm is in our future. The big questions are when, how bad, and can we do anything to ameliorate the worst of its effects.

In this context denial is an understandable human impulse. Close the windows. Squint your eyes. Deny the science. 98% of climate scientists does not constitute a consensus. Carbon dioxide is a harmless gas.

Denial is an understandable human impulse, but it makes a poor leadership quality.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Burning Oil

Sally and I began our Anchorage adventure with breakfast at the Snow City Cafe, a wonderful little eatery downtown. With items like reindeer sausage and salmon benedict you know you're in Alaska. One feature of the restaurant was the pecan sticky bun, which we split between us. It looked great! But there was a slight problem.

I took a piece from the edge, while Sally cut her first bite closer to the center and put it in her mouth, only to realize (too late) that temperature of the caramel sauce was somewhere between magma and plasma. She blistered the roof of her mouth and had trouble eating for a couple days. We think that after the roll was baked the hot sauce was poured over it.

I couldn't help but think of the analogy with another type of burning oil. It sure is nice to have petroleum to fuel economic growth, the freedom to drive our vehicles whenever and wherever we choose, or to fly to Anchorage. But spills in the Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Mexico and in Montana are part of the blistering price we pay for the privilege.

Now we're in the process of locating another pipeline through the nation's heartland, right over the Ogallala Aquifer. New access to oil! Sweet!

I'm really afraid we'll end up getting burned again.