Saturday, October 14, 2006


You know, sometimes the life of working the train yards is really appealing.
And telling them you are 12.
And having a picture to prove it.

23 - Working for Amtrack

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mustachio 'Stache

Look out. I hit the road Thursday morning at 7:00 am. And I'm bringing a 'stache with me. It's the Road 'Stache. And it will be rocking it out and embarrassing all my friends for at least a week.


Sick. And glorious.

Captain's Quarters

This is an homage to the quarters that housed me all summer: The Captain's Quarters.


This was Navin's room back when he was growing up. Yes, Navin's brave parents housed me all summer and Ab Fabulous had to deal with living down the hall. I came home late many times. I had a busy schedule. I did not do all that I could to be a polite guest for over 4 months. I will not be able to say thank you enough times, nor do I know what I would have done if they had not been willing to turn over the Captain's Quarters to me for a while.

I should also thank Navin for not getting too worried. Don't worry, I only made a few changes to the room. The color in there was horrendous so I did a small paint job. What was blue is now screaming yellow to fit my rockin' awesomeness and screaming attack at life.

But, more than anyone else, I should thank that Captain who apparently gave up his sign so it could adorn the room I stayed in. The room took on a life of its own. It was not just a room, but it was the Captain's room. The Captain's Quarters. Thank you, Captain, whoever you are. And I hope you have hook instead of a hand. And a peg leg. Maybe two peg legs. And, or course, a parrot that repeats things you say and, sometimes, when you try to threaten someone, the parrot repeats the threat which really takes the menacing tone out of it. But what are you going to do? You have a hook and two peg legs.

Bless the Captain, and bless the Captain's Quarters.
I've come down with something
I'm frozen, tied up, cast in lead
It's simple, so says the captain
Face forward, move slow, forge ahead

I'm earning a reputation
My conscience, mistrust and regret
Courageous, just like the captain
Marching forward with no doubt in his head


--Guster's The Captain

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Northern Waters

I know, I know. It's been a while. That kind of happens. But you should at least know that one week ago I got back from the Boundary Waters. That's right, the Boundary Waters. Have you been up there? You spend a week up there and, if you are me, you aren't exactly eager to jump on a computer when you get back. Instead you walk around thinking how much simpler life is when your primary concerns are canoeing from point A to point B and making sure you eat something along the way.

So the goal here is, after being back for a week, to give a little trip summary. We'll start with my group:
002 - My Group

(Ignore the random girl pirouetting in the back there. Don't know who that is.) They were awesome. We were the 'hard-core' group that was expected to paddle much of the day and see a lot of the area, even though that decision was ultimately up to us and we didn't have to do any more than any other group. But we did. Everyone in the group was willing to work hard, and I was thankful that on our last day, when we spent half the day just hanging out after positioning ourselves for a good exit the last morning, everyone decided that not working hard was plain boring. Obviously we got along splendidly. We spent the first couple of days canoeing right along the US-Canadian border. They were good times. We were only allowed to step into Canada when a portage dictated it. We were pleased that it happend fairly frequently.
008 - Canada

The weather for most of the week was a real challenge. The first couple of days saw some impressive rain. The first night we didn't get hardly any sleep for all of the rain cascading down our tent flies. Each day we would see chilly mornings, sun, clouds, some rain, then rinse, wash and repeat. It was not uncommon for us to be cruising along and pretty warmed by the sun, and then suddenly see a weather front roll in.
023 - Day 2 - Andrea & Ali Canoe

Now, as a result of that particular front, we got out of a relatively simple area of the park and out into open water when the wind really started pciking up. Our meager canoes were blown off course and we wound up spending a night (technically illegal) in Canada. Now, in our defense we didn't really know we were in Canada until late that night when trying to locate ourselves on the map. That afternoon, when the suspicions first arose, I watched as the weather really turned threatening. Keep in mind, despite the darkness, this picture was taken at about 4 in the afternoon:
039 - Weather Rolls 3

After a rain storm that really wasn't as menacing as those clouds appeared to imply, we got some of the most amazing weather on the trip. Pleasant, cool, a joy to cook dinner under, and served to give us the best sunset we would see the entire trip. Thus, my two favorite pictures from the trip are the two following, which were taken while (kind of accidentally) illegally camping in Canada. I will say this: I really like Canada. And we were very careful not to impact that site at all. Thank you Canada. You are awesome. And you are beautiful as these pics attest:
047 - Sun Through Tree

052 - Sunset

Now, the next day we got ourselves oriented, and set course for an area of campsites that were ultimately all full. So we paddled on and got to another campsite, and found it to be closed due to fires. We saw no fires, although we were aware they were in the area. But, according to our outfitter, this area should be open. While figuring out what to do, I picked up a little friend....
057 - Leech 2

I want to emphasize that this is rare. Don't be scared of the Boundary Waters thinking that leeches this size are all over the place waiting to suck you dry of your blood. I was a bit freaked by the size of it. But it was also immediately apparent that it was digging in so I got it off very quickly. And hey, how cool of a picture does it make? Not only that, but we went swimming everyday and had a jolly time. Leeches were never our concern.

Perhaps the biggest scare is that one of our ziplocks failed us and half our GORP got wet. Any outdoor enthusiast knows this to be a tragedy. Our solution?
069 - GORP with Flash

That's right, we laid it out to dry after the sun wasn't directly on it to melt the M&M's. Clever you say? Damn right it was. And it worked. Marginally.

I woke up early the next morning and caught this shot from our campsite. Could the lake be any more still? Could we see more of a mirror in the water?
072 - Day 4 - Great Reflection

On our last day, after not catching a single fish the entire time, I borrowed a pole and went out into James Bay. After an hour I caught a northern pike. And it was big enough to eat. So Duncan, who learned to prep a fish from his grandfather when he was 5 (and not having done it since), made it all become a reality. Once it was prepped, I was fully capable of doing the cooking.
111 - Cooking the Pike

The last morning. Some of the ladies wanted to wake up early to catch the sunrise. I'm normally not a fan of doing this on the last morning. But we hadn't done it yet this trip, and I was excited about our location in this bay to see what would happen. This is what happened:
112 - Day 6 - Sunrise in the Bay

Some of the coolest fog rolled in that the sun would later zap. For all I know we missed this kind of thing the whole trip because we never got up at 5:30 am to see it. But we saw it that morning. It gave me a profound sense of peace at the end of the trip. Then I went back to bed for an hour.

We got back and really weren't the worse for wear. We all got our first shower in a week and look as happy as we did in the beginning. Perhaps one of my favorite outdoors trips in recent memory. Not the toughest trip, and not too many stories from something that just plain went wrong. But simply a solid trip with a solid group.
117 - Small Grop Pic After Showers

So now I'm here as summer crawls to a close in terms of employment. School starts back on September 20. THAT'S A LONG TIME FROM NOW. I need to get some reading done. I need to organize a few things. I need to come up with a couple projects. Then it is back to the northeast for one more year.

But for the time being, I still relax everytime I see that sunset picture with all those crazy Canadian colors. Glorious.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Now, birthdays are great fun. Of course, one of the reasons for such fun is that you do often get gifts, ranging from the thoughtful to the mundane. But every now and then you get something truly great. Well, a friend had a birthday last week and she received in the mail a package from her brother.

01 - Korean Candy

That's supposed to be candy. Korean candy.

Now, I don't want to knock Korean candy here...not specifically. I know enough to know that different cultures and peoples enjoy different things, especially when it comes to food. On top of that I will say that in the grand scheme of things, I am probably a fairly picky eater. So it is essential that we all understand that my opinion is not alone when it comes to this so-called candy box. Example number 1:

02 - Kate Wallace Tries the Eats

A mutual friend of both the birthday girl and myself. Trying candy. And that expression is about what you need to know. Some were average. Some were tolerable. Some were downright nasty. The crowd favorite as far as most terrible? Start with the empty box in the upper left of that first picture. Then go one down and one right. The two circles that are kind of lavendar colored. With no discussion or collaboration the opinion of everyone who tried it was this: tastes like playdough and feels like chalk in your mouth. Yum.

However, just to buck up the spirits of the sender we should note here that this questionable candy (and we are all curious to know if Navin tried said candy) also sent a couple other gifts.

03 - Socks and Bling

Socks and cell phone bling. Hmmm. I'll say the socks are impressively original when walking the mean streets around here. So I am excited to see the birthday girl take them on their maiden voyage. I am also excited to make fun of the birthday girl if the cell phone bling makes it onto her cell phone.

In the end, these gifts, while suspicious, have provided days of intrigue, discussion, and memorable tastes. Who knew all of us as kindergarteners eating playdough actually knew a thing or two about foreign sweet delicacies?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Renew Orleans

We got back from New Orleans last Saturday. What do you know about the current state of things down there? When I went down I knew that things were bad. I also knew that almost a year has elapsed since Katrina hit. I figured there would be sure signs of progress. I also figured, being in the city proper, that there would be some sense of workking together. I can almost understand living outside of a major city and feeling like you are doing things on your own.

What I saw amazed me. I saw house after house fatally damaged by flood waters. I saw houses crawling with mold and cockroaches. I saw neighborhood after neighboorhood of deserted land. I talked to people beaten down and betrayed by the storm, their own government, and their own insurance companies. I talked to people who are still waiting for a FEMA trailer, were given $5,000 by an insurance company and were able to get their house partially dry walled before the money ran out. The insirance companies now refuse to cover the house. These people stopped being people, and were apparently now viewed as a liability.

I saw a day care and school, whcih previously had 50 kids in their door, now having 250 because other day cares have yet to open. The day care for the lower income areas barely had enough staff to cover the 50 kids. Now they have even fewer staffers because not everyone was able or willing to make it back to the city. Few staff people covering 5 times the number of kids.

I saw a house and gutted it. In the process we saw calendars wishing people the best of 2005. Birthday cards wishing the best of everything. Then the flood came. And here we were tearing apart what should have been the best of everything but was instead the loss of everything they knew. We found two guns in the closet which made me wonder, "What kind of neighborhood was this before the flood came? What will it be years from now when the surface damage is fixed?"

We left with questions. We left with disappointment in so much of what we saw. But we also left with hope. Progress is being made. People are getting help, although it might be slow in coming.

We left wishing the best of everything for the city.

070 - Wishing




Friday, June 30, 2006

A Breather

It's hard to believe, but the summer is almost at its halfway point. I've been here in Kansas City since about May 10th. We are now on the cusp of July and about 7 weeks left of work for the summer. And then I get a blissful couple of weeks of a free calendar before school starts up again.

That being the case, I've been spending the past week reflecting on where the summer has taken me, what is left in store, and what I should do with all of it. So let's see where I'm at.

First comes the fun stuff. It has been great hanging out with people in town. There are people here that anyone would be gifted and blessed to know. I have had some great conversations, heard some great stories, and have laughed a lot. I'm excited to know that I'm only halfway through with hanging out with for the summer. On top of that I have really just been appreciating hanging out with people who know me, and who I know - but at the same time it has been a long time since I have really been in KC. Not only has been really great to reconnect with old friends, it has also been fantastic connecting with people that I didin't know that well, but have been able to hang out with this summer.

Then comes the job stuff. I have been surprisingly challenged with work this summer, and not in the way that I would have expected. Before doing Field Education this past year I have had limited experience working on a large staff, and usually that staf has been only temporary - summer staff or something similar. But, over in Allentown there is a large permanent staff composed of both paid staff and adult volunteers. Because of all that difference and crazy schedules, there is a real sense of being intentional when it comes to planning. Allen town also has the benefit of people who are unbelievably committed to the program. I often think the people there eat, sleep, and drink the ministry. It is incredible. My biggest challenge this summer has been adjusting to a staff that isn't in that same vein. Despite there being so many of us, no one really owns any single thing. As a result it is rare when something feels like it has continuity or some overarching design to it. It can be frustrating that way.

On the bright side, it is ministry. And I rarely complain when something has a ministry component to it.

In the end, I am hoping to look back on the summer so far and really scrutinize everything going on. I hope to get to a point where we can implement some changes and hopefully be more intentional with our direction as we close out the summer. But more importantly, focus the direction as this ministry heads into the fall and into another year.

In the meantime, I am staring down the barrel of a mission trip in the near future. Do I know what is going on with it? Nope. But we leave Saturday.