Last weekend was supposed to be our girls trip for my sisters and I to head up to the San Juan Islands in Washington and go sea kayaking -- the area is known for its orcas and they would be beyond cool to see! We wanted to enjoy some "last" time together before Tiera starts her job and we all go in different directions, but it clearly wasn't meant to be. Kendra ended up having to work so Mom and Dad came in her place, but then with Memorial Day traffic we missed our morning ferry to Friday Harbor and thus missed our kayak trip. The outfitters were nice and gave us a voucher but it was still quite disappointing not to be out on the water. Instead, we spent the day riding the ferry around the islands and walking around the quaint little harbors, which rival Sisters, OR in cuteness. A fun little day trip for the family anyway, if not what was expected. Plus it was wonderful to be without my computer so literally all I could do was relax, look out the window, and read my book.
The rest of Memorial Day weekend went fast, with a fun crepe brunch on Monday with the family and then a sisters shopping trip. Tiera and I ended up having a pop party late that night (pop parties are when you drink Fresca and eat pretzels while working on homework in the same room, usually at least 11 pm or later), which we haven't had since our days of studying side-by-side in high school. That was fun. And then, because we were already the only ones in the house awake, we decided to stay up until 3 having good bonding. Getting up at 7 to drive down to school was less fun, but it was worth it.
Last evening I wanted to get outside and soak up the good weather so I took off on my bike. The sun was going down as I peddled towards the west edge of campus and out on the running path behind the ag science buildings. You can't tell it's a university out there, with all the barns and sheep and cows and open fields. And with the sun going down and the hills in the distance, it's beautiful.
Though the day was hot, the evening was cool and I was pretty cold by the time I made it out to Bald Hill. Plus it was getting dark so I figured it was time to turn around (and I have not ridden my bike so hard in a while so I was a bit tired!).
The summer days and nights we've been having are awesome, and my school schedule is busy but not terrible so I've been enjoying it. Last weekend Dad, Kyla, and I did a trip to the library and I got some books off my ever-expanding "to read" list... a medley of business bestsellers, philanthropist memoirs, and indie releases. I haven't had the chance to read in a while so this week has been a treat so far. Usually my laptop (blogs, pinterest, ...;) is my mealtime companion during the week at school, but this week I've been engrossed in the culture and adventure of the Himalayas. The book is "Three Cups of Tea" and it is about this man named Greg Mortenson who attempted to climb K2 and just about died, but ended up wandering into an impoverished village in the mountains. So moved by the kindness he was shown there, he promised to return and build a school -- their "school" consisted of all 82 local kids self-teaching their own lessons using sticks in the dirt, save for the two days a week a traveling teacher came through. No building, no materials. And only 4 of the 82 students were girls. Greg was just scraping by financially in America, yet he made it happen: this is the story of his school and what turned into building 55 schools in the forbidding terrain that is the Karakoram mountains. It is a captivating book so far and incites a good reflection over priorities. There have been two thoughts so far that I've found especially provoking:
One of them, commenting on the Balti culture being so isolated from the world--- a village carved into this dangerous mountain range, asks: "Isn't it better to live in ignorance of everything--asphalt and macadam, vehicles, telephones, television--to live in bliss without knowing it?" This is hard to imagine since we've been born knowing this life, but seeing the stress on our families' faces and the endless time-sinking activities that give us few of the returns we seek makes me wonder what a life of ignorance would be like. Maybe we have it backwards: we pity them, but if they knew what messed up priorities our society had they would pity us. In the middle of the school-building process, Greg describes the whole village spending their evenings in the golden sunsets, sitting on their roofs and talking to each other across the rooftops. I cannot even imagine a season of this level of carelessness (in a wonderfully positive way) in America: there is always something to worry about or some next task to get started on. And I think we miss out on much of God's beauty and purpose with this mindset.
Ok enough of my soapbox. The other thought was very similar to this: "I used to assume that the direction of 'progress' was somehow inevitable, not to be questioned," [Helena Norberg-Hodge writes]. "I passively accepted a new road through the middle of the park, a steel-and-glass bank where a 200-year-old church had stood... and the fact that life seemed to get harder and faster with each day. I do not anymore. In Ladakh I have learned that there is more than one path into the future and I have had the privilege to witness another, saner, way of life--a pattern of existence based on the coevolution between human beings and the earth."
Maintaining this balance is something I want to be deliberate about as I bridge the gap between college and real life.
On a less reflective note, it was a wonderful weekend last weekend -- having Tressa home and getting some good car talks after setting tables for church lunch, getting my first swim of the season, and introducing Costco's black bean burgers to my family (which are absolutely delicious and better than real hamburgers. No joke. My dad even loved them).
Ok I should stop this midweek hiatus and get back to writing my globalization paper.. . which, incidentally, is about how we measure progress (shockingly, there is something called the Happy Planet Index, which measures how happy people are with their lives, and no surprise the US is not doing so hot).
Last week turned to out to be unexpectedly awesome. My parents were going to be gone back-to-back weekends so I decided to come home from school in the middle of the week so I could see them and celebrate their birthdays. Mom's was on Tuesday so I came home after my operations management midterm and had a fun dinner out with the family, then the all-family-event of opening the pool! I didn't realize that was on the books for this week but the weather had been getting nice and our trees were almost done dropping their seed pods so it was time to take the winter cover off and get it ready for summer. The water was a chilly 60 degrees though so no swimming yet.
That evening I started studying for my finance midterm which was the next afternoon (Dad's birthday). I was planning on driving down to Corvallis in the morning but then I got a message that our midterm was moved to online (since OSU had been having power outages and our classroom was without power). I was thrilled to have Wednesday to stay home as well, and quickly filled it up with plans: lunch out celebrating with the family for Dad's birthday, then my first plane ride with Kendra!
She and Kyla had early release that day so with the afternoon free and some awesome weather -- high 80s!! -- it was finally working out for us to go flying. (Living 70 miles apart during the week makes it really hard to plan these things!) We headed to Aurora and I bummed around taking pictures while Kendra went through pre-check. The plane she usually flies is a Cessna 162: a tiny 2-seater with just enough space in the back for purses but not much else. We strapped in and taxied to the runway with the doors open because it was so beastly hot in there (no AC!!); then she radioed that we were ready for takeoff, we shut the doors, and turned onto the runway.
The takeoff was surprisingly smooth (I'll admit, I thought in little planes you had to hang on and they were always terribly shaky) and the day was perfect. We toured above Woodburn a bit before heading across the Willamette, gorgeous green fields stretching out below us and 5 mountains clear on the horizon. It was great fun to fly above the high school and then our neighborhood and see what everything looks like from above-- we now have our own personal Google Earth images ;) Then we headed north to Hagg Lake, which we'd never been to but looked big on the map. It was a beautiful color too, with lots of people out boating since it was such a nice day. Kendra, the pro pilot that she is, did a fast dip to get us down closer to the lake and my stomach did not like that... I'm not used to these little planes and wasn't expecting to feel my organs jump up to my throat!
I started to get a little hot and semi-uncomfortable at that point since I had been energetically taking pictures out the window (clearly overdoing it) and the vents were not giving us much (hot) air flow. Plus the wind was pretty strong and we were tilting and getting blown around a bit -- not a fun combination. So we leveled out and started flying higher, slowly making our way back to Aurora. I started feeling better since I knew we were going to land soon, but then we got caught in "traffic". Since Aurora doesn't have a tower, the pilots just radio in when they are going to land and everyone takes their turn... but when you are a little skycatcher like we were, you get last priority and have to let all the jets go first. And there happened to be 2 jets and a helicopter that came in just as we wanted to, so we had to detour past the runway and let them go ahead of us. Plus we couldn't be close to them while they landed because their wind currents would be enough to pull us into a spin and (crash). So we circled nearby (while I am meanwhile breathing heavily and trying not to barf, while at the same time wanting to radio to the next jet that could he please let us land there is a sick girl in here!). The wind had been at 16-20 knots which was some of the highest Kendra had ever flown in (usually 10 knots is a lot), but then it started gusting. And we of course couldn't land if it was gusting because (a) Kendra had never been trained to land if it was gusting, and (2) it would tear the skycatcher to shreds. So that was comforting. Jk-- I had total faith in Kendra but I just really wanted to be on the ground!!;) Finally it was our turn and the gusts stopped so Kendra took us in on a shockingly smooth landing (yes I expected it to be rattling and bone-shaking). I could hardly tell when we touched the runway and by that point I felt much better already. Still, I was SO glad when we could open the doors (AIR FLOW!!) and I could stand on solid ground. So much appreciation for solid ground!
But still I am so glad I went and would go again in a heartbeat. It looks like such a cool life-- flying, being able to take a plane up on a whim, seeing the stars from the sky, going new places, meeting interesting pilots -- that I can totally understand why my sister likes it so much. I am so proud of her for putting in all this work to get licensed and can't wait to see what happens next for her, flying or not.
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.