Monday, January 28, 2008


This is my week of "lasts" - I had my last New Employee Orientation today, I will have my last meeting with my manager later this week, and then I will have my last day at OHSU. It's a little surreal, being in my last week. It was strange being at NEO today, something I have done every Monday for the last year and a half, and knowing that, come next Monday, it will be Trisha there instead of me. Even though at the time I started, NEO was the "hot potato" project that nobody wanted, it turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most, and the one I will miss the most.

On a happy note, next week will be a week of "firsts" - my first actual volunteer training for being an Audubon Society Sanctuary Tour Guide, my first immunizations for Ecuador (though I'm not terribly looking forward to those...), my first week of being completely free.

In honor of hopeful beginnings, and because I wanted to leave on a "looking forward" note rather than a "looking back" note, I've been trying to think of something to do for my teammates when I leave. I settled on a card with a photo of all of us, a note and a poem. Despite my best efforts, I have been unable to come up with inspiration for a new poem, but I had a feeling that I had something previously written that would be just perfect. After some rummaging (during my reorganizing blitz last weekend), I found just the thing (from June 1997). It doesn't have a title, but I think it captures the spirit of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. I know that my teammates know conceptually what I am doing, but I think this might give them a deeper insight into the spiritual dimension. I owe them that much, after the support and encouragement they have given me.

The window to the world is open
The winds of change are blowing through my hair
Inviting me to fly, to spread my wings
To wish and to be there
To live and to let others live their own
To try and to succeed
Never to give up, but to have faith
That all will turn out right just when I need
A helping hand to guide me
Through nights so stormy black and grey
To lead me on to hope, to love
To the life and lasting beauty of the day

I need to write more.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Audubon Adventures

I opted out of volunteering with the Friends of Trees neighborhood tree planting today, for a number of reasons: 1. The ground has been frozen solid for a week now, and I didn't want to kill my wrists. 2. It started raining this morning (after a week of being crystal clear and below freezing), and I just didn't want to go out. Instead, I accomplished some much-needed organizing in my apartment -- I can see my desk and my coffee table again!

I did go out this afternoon, because I was scheduled to attend the Audubon Society of Portland's volunteer orientation. They have a ton of cool volunteer opportunities, not just helping out with the birds, so I thought I'd check it out. I put my name on the list for "Sanctuary Restoration and Trail Maintenance" (they usually have a monthly work party) and the "Restoration Team" (which does restoration projects in surrounding areas, not just on the reserve), as well as the "Sanctuary Tour Guides," which involves taking groups of first- through eighth-graders through the sanctuary and teaching them about the natural history, native plants, birds, etc. I have two half-days of training for that one (it's really three, but the first is my last day at work, so I can't make it), and then I can start teaching our next generation of naturalists! :)

Another reason I'm excited to volunteer with Audubon is that it will "force" me to get outside and be in nature more. The only way I can really get there, in fact, is by a half-hour hike through Forest Park - how's that for a commute?! :) I took some pictures today, because it was so beautiful, though the trail got a bit dicey at times... remember that rain I mentioned? Well, it was no ordinary rain - it was freezing rain, a concept I'd never quite grasped before, but experienced first-hand today. Basically, the air was warm enough that the precipitation comes down as rain and not snow, but the ground was so cold that the rain freezes on impact. So, the rocks and gravel in the trail that would normally be great for traction... not so much. Next time I'm bringing my Yak Trax!

On the upside, there were some incredible icicles and other ice formations on the hillsides and in the creek. The rocks in the creek were coated in ice, and the little waterfalls cascaded down right next to some massive icicles that were created by the spray. I was almost late to the orientation because I kept stopping to look at them. :) The pictures don't do it justice, but you can at least get some idea of what it was like.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Knowing Me

I had been wondering if my coworkers were going to cook up some sort of surprise party for me when I left. I was pleasantly surprised by the treats and journal gift they brought to our team meeting last week, and thought that was a very nice little goodbye. Imagine my surprise yesterday, then, when I walked into what I thought was a meeting of three people, to find the room filled with our extended team and even one or two folks from the IT Training team. (Armando had even walked down the hill because he didn't want to create suspicion by riding the shuttle with Catherine and me! I guess he took Trisha's death threat for spoiling the surprise to heart! :P) The two union reps I work with most frequently even came a little later on.

Jenn had put together a slide show of all the photos they had of me with the team -- from various HR parties, our "team building" day on the river, and the Halloween Giving Campaign event with me in a pirate costume. Catherine had concocted a delicious punch, and Gretchen had baked a heavenly cheesecake and decorated it with real flowers. And they had all signed a lovely card and contributed to another gift - a gift certificate to Next Adventure, a cool outdoor store close to my house. Wheee!

Jenn made me laugh with her stories about how they had planned the party and chosen the gift certificate. She said, "We were trying to plan a party with all of HR, but then thought, 'wait, Lacey doesn't like parties. She's not a party person at all. She'd probably kill us if she showed up and the entire department was here!' So we didn't invite them." On the subject of gift certificates: "We were coming up with all sorts of ideas, like 'how about a day at the spa?' Then we said, 'Oh, wait - this is Lacey we're talking about. Hello!'" :P They ended up choosing the outdoor store because they figured I could probably use some gear for my trip to Ecuador - and they're right! It is a perfectly splendid gift, and one which will certainly be put to good use (as opposed to that spa certificate, which would have languished and expired in a drawer...).

It was a fun party, but reflecting on it afterward, I realized that what meant the most to me was the fact that these people know me -- well enough to have planned and carried it out perfectly. I have always said that I work with a group of amazing people, but this brought that point home. I have built real friendships here - personal friendships, not just working relationships. These women have taken the time to get to know me and I know that, while they will be hugely impacted by my leaving (they're not going to be able to refill my position), they are all sincerely happy that I am leaving to pursue my heart's desire. How could I ask for more than that?

Here's all of us a few weeks ago after our (postponed and rescheduled) holiday hot chocolate date downtown:

Left to right: Jenn, Jillian, Catherine, Trisha, Kirsten, me, Shannon

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Changes afoot

As you've probably noticed (and if you haven't, you might want to get an eye exam), I've given my blog a makeover -- whee! It's very green. :D I thought that, with the beginnings of my new life just around the corner, I would start heralding the changes to come with a new look for the way I express myself to the world (at least, the online world...).

Here are a couple of excellent definitions behind my choice of words for the title:

Adventure (n):
1. an exciting or very unusual experience
2. a bold or exciting undertaking or experience

Exuberant (adj):
1. effusively and almost uninhibitedly enthusiastic
2. abounding in vitality; extremely joyful and vigorous
3. Full of unrestrained enthusiasm or joy
4. happy and excited or in high spirits

Explorer (n):
1. a person who explores unknown regions

And that is exactly who I intend to be. Wheeee! :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

An excuse to post pictures of icy puddles (really, they're cooler than they sound)

John and I went for a mellow hike this afternoon, riding our bikes down the Springwater Corridor Trail for a bit, then dropping the bikes off at John's brother's house and hiking around the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. It was a clear, COLD day, perfect for a brisk walk (anything slower than that and you'd have to have been bundled up to the contour of a snowman). We saw a bunch of birds, a squirrel, and a majestic midnight black cat with yellow eyes sunning itself on a log in the middle of the marsh, the king of all he surveyed.

Here are a couple of pictures of a puddle with some really cool ice forming/melting (they're even cooler if you view them full-size). We could actually watch the lines of the ice extend and retract; it was really cool. Things were still icy even at the end of the afternoon, meaning (I think) that this has been the coldest day so far this winter. If there had been precipitation, it definitely would have been snow. Maybe next time. :)

Oh, and check out this page for some of the pictures that John took of the local wildlife.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How not to teach a calling workshop

Let me admit up front that I only walked into the last 15 minutes of this workshop this afternoon (at the Old Time Music Gathering), so I cannot vouch for the first 45 minutes. However, the part that I walked in on seemed to present a pretty good example of a pretty bad example of how to teach a calling workshop.

When I walked in, the teacher was calling a simple dance, and a group of students were dancing. The dance was done in pairs of couples, with some circling, some stars, some swinging, and then couples promenading around the room to find a new set of partners to repeat. Alright so far (though I personally would not have chosen a random mixer for a beginning calling workshop). They danced that for a while while the teacher called. Then he started the same dance over again and asked them all to call along with him while they danced.

Now, I've been dancing for a few years (okay, fifteen), and maybe I just don't have a caller's brain, but it is not easy for me to coherently call (rather than point and briefly direct) while I'm dancing. However, by the end of that dance (it lasted a very long time), I could hear some improvement in people's calling - more on time, more consistent, more coherent, and mostly correct. I thought they were doing pretty well (for total beginners).

Then came the kicker. The teacher told them that they were going to do the dance again, and this time, each circle of four would call for their own circle, starting whenever that circle joined -- so if some couples found each other immediately after the promenade, they would start the dance earlier than couples who did not find each other as quickly, and everybody would be on their own with no help from the teacher. (My reaction: what?!!) This, of course, caused mass chaos. Each circle tried to start when it joined, everybody was trying to yell the calls to keep themselves on time and not get distracted by the circles that were calling at a different point in the dance, and everybody forgot how the dance went because they were seeing other groups doing something different than they were. More than once, everybody sort of gravitated to one point in the calling (usually "promenade to form a new ring"), no matter where they actually were in the dance, so it sort of got back on track a few times. But in general, it was pretty abysmal.

I'm kind of glad I wasn't there for the whole workshop. :-/ The Sacred Harp workshop after that was much better, and I got my singing fix for the week. Yay for shapenote!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Starting to sink in

I booked my flights to Ecuador today - wheee! It's finally beginning to sink in that I'm actually going to the Galápagos... but that doesn't mean that my excitement is diminishing! :)

I worked out a clever scheme (at least, I think it's clever) with my flights: rather than flying from Portland to Quito (on however many flights that would take), I bought tickets between San Francisco and Quito, and I'm booking a separate set of flights on Southwest Airlines between Portland and San Jose for a few days before and after. This accomplishes three things: it breaks up my LONG trip to Ecuador at least a little bit, it lets me see at least some of my family before and after my trip, and (and this is the reason this is such a clever scheme) it earns me the last flight credits I need on Southwest in order to get a free trip, which I plan to use to visit Quena this summer. Hooray!

I also did some investigation on immunizations today. It turns out that working until February 1 so I can keep my health insurance for an extra month might not be so smart after all, at least in terms of immunizations, since that insurance plan doesn't cover travel vaccinations (phooey on them). This would mean me having to pay up to $500 out of pocket for them - gack! On the other hand, the insurance I was planning to purchase starting in March covers all immunizations at 100%. So... I'm going to try to swing it so that I start my individual insurance a month early, then tell the clinic that I've changed my insurance so that they bill my individual instead of my employer insurance. I still have a bit more investigation to do on that to make sure I can pull it off, but I hope so! (because I think it's too late to change my quitting date.) I'd much rather be out the additional $85 or so for the extra month of insurance than five times that for all the vaccines!

So, things are moving forward. Now I just have to figure out what I where I want to go in Ecuador after my volunteer work is over. I gave myself 5-6 days to play around - hopefully enough time to get to some fantastic places. Back to the guide books!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Overheard on the bus

While I steadfastly maintain that riding a bike is the best way to get to work, riding the bus can have its interesting moments (good interesting and bad interesting). One such moment occurred this morning - I had a hard time not bursting out in laughter at overhearing this conversation.

The scene: We have two late-middle-aged men, George and Not-George. George is sitting at the front of the bus, in the sideways seats. Not-George is sitting a few rows back, facing forward. Both men are staring straight ahead while this completely serious conversation is taking place (over the laps of the intervening passengers).

The conversation:
Not-George: George?
George: Yeah.
Not-George: Did you have a chance to eat breakfast this morning?
George: Yeah, I had some Rice Crispies.
Not-George: Ah. ... (Pause) .... George?
George: Yeah.
Not-George: I had Corn Flakes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Touching gifts

Today my team had the last official team meeting that I will attend. My co-workers surprised me by bringing coffee and tea and baked goodies, and a gift - they bought me a journal to record my adventures, and in the front of it were notes and cards from all of my team members with personal messages and inspirational quotes. It was really sweet. I started to read them later that morning back at my desk, but started to cry, so I saved the rest of them for when I got home.

Several people gave me Thoreau quotes (you can probably guess which ones, since I am finally "going confidently in the direction of my dreams"), but the poem that touched me most was given to me by Jenn, written by Dawna Markova:

Perfect. Thanks, team - you've been fantastic.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Jumping Jubilation

This is your cue to turn green with envy ... I'm going to the Galápagos in March! I got my acceptance email today, for a 2-week volunteer trip to San Cristobal Island, working on native habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture. If you know me at all, you know that that's the perfect project for me. And the fact that I get to do it in the Galápagos is almost too cool to be imaginable right now. I feel like I've been on one continuous "Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!" since I got back to my desk at 4:15 this afternoon and saw the email (to think that it had been there for 3 hours without my knowledge!).

Details are yet to be worked out, but I sent in my application fee to secure my place, and will be doing some noodling on plane flights, extra travel options, etc. They recommend an extra 4-5 days after the volunteer portion to tour the rest of the islands, and it might be fun to see some more of Ecuador as long as I'm down there. I just have to make sure I'm home in time to start my permaculture class for spring quarter. :) Goody goody!

I just realized that this will be my first solo international trip - how exciting! Not that I've taken very many non-solo international trips, but there has definitely been a sense of wanting to have somebody else along, which is probably a big reason I haven't done more traveling. Hopefully this will get me over that and instill a deep travel bug that will withstand the apprehensions of going solo (not that it's not still more fun to have a friend along!). And I think it will help to have at least the first part of this trip pretty much organized for me, to get my feet wet, so to speak... and literally - March is supposedly the best time of year for snorkeling around the Galápagos. :)


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Up-catching miscellany

Yes, it's mid-January already and I haven't blogged since last year. I'm going to use the occasional blogger's excuse of "been too busy to blog," even though the busy times are usually the ones most worth blogging about. This is indeed the case here, but I don't particularly want to delve deeply into any one thing, so I'll just give a brief synopsis of what I've been up to since I last blogged, and possibly come back to one or two things in more detail later.

So, what have I done since my last post?

- Christmas! We had several family gatherings, which were all enjoyable. I got to see most of my family on all sides, including some new by-marriage relatives I hadn't even known about. Shaleece and Cristie inspired me with their knitting and crocheting projects, and then Mom bought me some delicious baby alpaca and I started knitting myself the most snugglous hoodie imaginable. By the time I got home from CA, I had knitted the back and more than half of the front (including the pocket). Hooray for creative crafts. :)

- Harmony was magical and wonderful as always, with a touch of bittersweet, knowing that it was to be the last year in the beautiful location in the Santa Cruz mountain redwoods. We took lots of photos. LOTS of photos. And Quena and I turned 10 this year! I am so amazed and grateful that I have had such a beautiful star-sister for ten years.

- As usual, Harmony inspired me to explore more musical goings-on back home, so I finally attended a Portland Sacred Harp gathering at my local food coop. It was highly enjoyable, and I do plan to go back. One of my coworkers has been singing shapenote for quite a while, and another former morris dancer was there as well, so it was nice to have people there that I knew. My coworker even pulled me into the middle of the square for the last song that he led, so I could hear the voices coming at me in harmony from all sides. It was very cool. It turns out that Portland Sacred Harp meets five times a month, and that three of them are pretty close to my house, so I'm looking forward to more singing in the year to come.

- Last Saturday John and I went for a lovely day-hike in Forest Park. The weather was variable -- some sprinkles, some sun, cold but just the perfect temperature for hiking. We hiked past the Audubon Society and then up to Pittock Mansion. We stopped by Powells on the way back and bought a book of local hikes, and plan to go hiking much more frequently in the future. It is SO nice to get outdoors!

- I had my first darkroom class this Thursday, and developed my first roll of film! I haven't printed any pictures yet, and didn't even get a good look at the negatives because they were wet and I had to hang them up (and leave them there). I'll probably spend the next class developing my other two rolls of film from my CA trip, and then start learning to print the pictures the next week. But I may get impatient and take the negatives to a camera shop before then! :) Developing the film was a really cool experience, especially since it is done in complete darkness and you have to be so in tune with where everything is, what your hands are doing, and how things feel when they're right or wrong. I noticed that I had my eyes wide open even though I couldn't see anything -- I wasn't even looking down at what I was doing, but staring straight ahead. I want to pay more attention to that and see if I can relax enough to close my eyes next time.

- I helped DeMara a bit with getting her house ready to move in - mostly things like lining kitchen cabinets and painting baseboards, since she did the majority of the big tasks while I was in CA. Tomorrow I will help her move in, to her very own house.

- And, potentially the coolest news of all ... I applied for a volunteer work trip to the Galápagos!!! The project is working on native habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture - right up my alley... and in the Galápagos! How could I pass up that opportunity? So cross your fingers that they accept me, because that would be an amazing trip. Needless to say, I'm just a teensy bit excited. :D

Well, that was more detail than I had planned to go into. I guess I'm incapable of writing one-liners about things that excite me. What can I say? I like to write, but concision is not my strong point. :)