Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday

It was a gorgeous day! We went to a new church today - Alamosa Christian Reformed Church. It was more out in the country. Their pastor sung the Gilligan's Island theme song from the pulpit. We learned that each of the characters are representations of one deadly sin - i.e. Gilligan = laziness; Skipper = anger; MaryAnne = envy... etc It was an introductory sermon to a series that was starting. After church we went to the Community picnic at La Puente. It was good food, music, and fellowship. Jeremy watched the Browns beat Baltimore while we were there. He was excited. I think he decided the Browns are playing better since he is no longer living in Ohio. Who knows? We took a picture of Mt. Blanca because it looked amazing today. I don' t think the picture even begins to do it justice, but here it is anyway. (See top right picture.)


Then, this evening Jeremy and I went geocaching in the middle of nowhere. It was east of a town called Manassa. Manassa is a little south of La Jara. The geocache was well-hidden. This rock outcropping is where the cache was hidden. There was a warning to beware of rattlesnakes, but it is too cold for them to be out. The view was amazing! The sun cast such a warm touch as a far as the eye could see. The sunset was beautiful. The two pictures taken below are facing west to the sun and the deep hues that are seen in the east. It truly is amazing what God has done with this earth!

Gleaning

Today, Jeremy, Jeff, and I went gleaning and harvesting. I had never done this before, so it was a new experience. We went out toward Center (small town northwest of here) to harvest about 100 feet of carrots. Although this may sound easy, it really wasn't. The ground was pretty hard from the rain and then cold temperatures. So, we first had to loosen the ground without chopping off the carrots. It was a skill some of us had to develop. You can see the row of carrots in the top picture. It looked quite short when we walked up to it. There were about 30 people gleaning with us. Many of them came down from some churches in Colorado Springs. I guess the one church and one of the women had been doing this for the last 14 years. She had a great spirit about her and was a joy to work beside. Jeremy became skilled at lifting up bunches of carrots with his shovels for us to take and de-top and add to the collection. There would be as many as 10-15 in one shovel full; they were planted so close together. The second picture is of Jeremy and Claudia with carrots they were able to uproot whole. Claudia is a Vida/AmeriCorps volunteer who does migrant education. Emmy knows her through work meetings. The bottom picture on the left is me with my first successful bunch of carrots. I had been breaking them in half when trying to get them out of the ground. I would also like you to admire the beautiful magenta/pink sweatshirt I have on. I borrowed it from Re-Threads before we left because it was much colder and winder than I had expected it to be. Our leader thought we harvested about 3/4 ton of carrots. Most of these were headed to the food bank customers.

We took a lunch break at Azteca Mexican restaurant in Center. It was a great buffet where we became stuffed!! Jeremy and I sat with a lot of the volunteers from Springs. The ladies were a treat. They said they thought Mennonites were very industrious people and very service-minded. They also wanted to know if we came because of our church or for personal reasons. What they meant was, Are Mennonites required to go serve for a year, like the Mormons? Our answer, of course, was, No, we came because we wanted a break from jobs to serve others in the name of Jesus, but not because we had to come.
After lunch, we went to the potato field to glean. Gleaning is just what you have read about in the Bible in Ruth. (Refresher... Ruth goes into the Boaz's fields to glean. She catches his eye. He invites her to stay. They get married.) The potato equipment was still actually harvesting potatoes; I am told that it is unusual to allow gleaners in the field at the same time as the harvesting equipment. The harvesting equipment has large conveyors on it that somehow picks up the harvested potatoes. (See picutre of equipment to left.) The potatoes were sitting in rows, just piled up and untaken. It was amazing what was left! The farmers (at both the carrot and potato farms) say they only leave 2% of the crop, but it sure feels like a lot was left. Just a side note... Colorado is the second largest potato producing state, following Idaho! This work, gleaning potatoes, was difficult - not to find the potatoes (they were very visible), but fighting the dust. The wind was blowing straight across the dirt fields. Even with your back to the wind, dust flew in your face. It made for long work. You can see people fighting the dust in the picture to the left. All in all, our leader thought we gleaned approximately a ton of potatoes. Most of these are also headed to the food bank.
At the very end of the day, my car went to the mushroom farm just outside of Alamosa. I neglected to take pictures, but is an interesting place. The mushrooms grow by species in separate rooms. Each room has "bunk beds" - 4 high - with mushroom growing. The mushrooms are cut off at the stem by the workers. Each room of mushrooms can be harvested every three days; they grow back that quickly. The rooms are cleaned with chemicals after each harvest because disease can spread so quickly and kill all the mushrooms in an entire room. I brought home unwanted mushrooms (stores had rejected them for some reason) to the house - oyster, portebella, shitake, and sliced white. I really don't like mushrooms, so they all look pretty disgusting. I am told that some are pretty expensive varieties. I am just hoping I don't have to eat mushrooms all next week! :)

Friday 9/28

Thank you to all who have prayed for our renting woes. We heard back about the situation and learned that everything has been taken care of for minimal cost to us. We are thankful for someone we can trust in Columbus to take care of things.
This evening, Jeremy and I went on a date to Pizza Hut - our local date place from the looks of it. Afterwards, we went to Milagros Coffee House. They were having open mic night. It was fun to sit and listen to music and poetry - some good, some not so amazing ... either way, people are courageous to get up in front of people and share.
At work, the manager at Rainbow's End Alamosa is resigning. This changes my job at La Puente. Steve (one of my bosses) said that he would like me there in the afternoons for quite awhile helping out. I am a little leery of this because I didn't love the retail side of things previously, but we'll see what I end up doing. I think that he wants me to create the order for Ten Thousand Villages area of the Boutique. I am going to hopefully be able to order things that many people will want to purchase. Steve has some great ideas for some updates and changes as well. I think it could be fun to be a part of that. I'll keep you posted

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Work Week #6

Well, it is Wednesday morning and I realize that I haven't been writing. It is suddenly cold here at night. There was a hard frost on Monday night with temperatures in the 20s. I actually let the car run to de-ice/frost the windshield. The days are still warming up to the upper-60s and low-70s.

Rhonda has been sick both Monday and Tuesday, so it was just me holding down the fort. It wouldn't be so bad, but it has been so quiet there. I wonder if it is less quiet when there is someone there to share the lulls with you. I think that she will be back today; hopefully, she will be fully recovered because I don't feel like catching anything. We have received a number of donations from the big mailing we sent out. This means that I get to open each donation and then write a receipt and thank you letter. I don't necessarily mind this; it just hurts my hand. I am enjoying parts of my job, but not feeling like it stimulates my mind much. It is actually pretty basic work - at least the part I'm doing. I am trying to think of other things I could do that may help me feel more challenged. The advertising/marketing is challenging because I have no clue, but I am also not very motivated to care about learning the techniques. I am thinking about talking with Fanny at the Adelante program (2 year transitional housing). They have the PALS program which works with children ages 4-16 (I think) during an after school program from 3 - 6pm. I think that part of this program is tutoring right when they get off the bus. I believe that I would enjoy this, if she could use any help and if it would work alongside what I am doing now. I have said that I would either enjoy just tutoring kids one-on-one or doing office work; this would give me an opportunity to do both. We'll see what comes of that. I think that I need more people interaction - besides sorting and handing out clothing at Re-Threads - and this may provide that.

Jeremy is still working at finding things to do at his job. For awhile, he was working on a website, but then that wasn't really what Mike wanted him to do - they had had a website developed and he wanted Jeremy to figure out how to just implement that one. That became pretty complicated for some reason - I don't think it would load right, or there wasn't enough storage on the free site they had. Now, Mike said that Jeremy could just go ahead and start from scratch; so, now he has a mission.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weekend Events

So, the weekend is coming to an end. Friday... not a lot happened this Friday night, which was fine with me because I am always wore out on Friday night - even when it's not a stressful work week. We rented a movie, Fracture, to watch. It was fairly good, I thought. Probably rated R for some language and "adult content" (whatever that really means) - it was about a man who murders his wife because she is having an affair. The actual storyline is less about the affair and more about how his conviction for the murder may not happen. I think it may be categorized as criminal suspense???

Saturday... Jeremy and I hung out and cleaned in the morning. I went to the bank and talked to the lady in line behind me. Her name was Ana, she is a beautician in town. I asked her price ($20) and took her number, telling her it may be awhile because I only make $50 a month because I am a volunteer. She said, if I was doing good for others, she may as well give me my first cut FREE! That was such a nice offer; I think I'll take her up on it. At noon, Jeremy and I left for Creede to see the play we missed on Wednesday night, Leading Ladies. The drive to Creede is about 1-1/2 hours and is beautiful. The mountains there are very chiseled, more canyon-like. (If we would have the camera, I would show you some pictures.) The theatre is this small little place with probably only 100 seats or so. We laughed so hard during it. It is always funny to see men dressed as women trying to be deceptive, and it's not really working. We definitely enjoyed it. The acting was excellent. USA Today said, it is one of the "10 great places to see the lights off Broadway." (See webiste for more info: http://www.creederep.org/) After we got home, we put on old, warm clothes and headed out to El Sagrado Farm where we get our vegetables and eggs from. It is the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the area. The event was a end-of-the-season potluck with live music and bonfire. It was great food and fairly good music - lots of accordian! We only made it to about 9:30pm.

Sunday... Jeremy and I woke up and went to the 8am service at church. It is called the "informal" service. There were about 10 people there. It was okay, but who knows. We kinda just lounged around the rest of the day. I talked to my mom - finally (we had been having trouble catching each other) - for about 1-1/2 hours. It was good to catch up on life back home. I hear my neice, Lilli, is a crazy, walking machine; I would love to see her go. I had seen her only take about 2 very tentative, almost not real, steps before I left. I can't imagine what she'll be like by Christmas. Likewise with my other neices and nephews, they seem to change so much so fast!

Work starts tomorrow and I think that will be good. We'll see how the week goes and what new things I get to do. I'll keep you updated.... of course!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Correction

I apparently can freak people out really easily with my blog entries. For those concerned about the renting situation. We are doing fine - there were no threats of bodily harm, no rowdy parties, no damage to the house. It is just difficult to work at managing a house from such a distance. Some of the things that seem so minor to us are major things to the renter. That is okay. We were able to talk and come to an understanding. That being said, we could still use prayers for patience. Thanks, everyone, for your concern.

I'll blog more later about weekend events - movie night, Creede Theatre, Harvest Party. Until then... have a great Sunday.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday 9/20

Good morning! I have started the habit (on most weekdays) of blogging in the morning because I am usually ready before I need to be - this helps keep my mind off the time and the schedules of other people. There really isn't much to blog about, but I thought I would anyway. In the office, we got a new server for the network. If anyone knows anything about computers, you realize that there are major disruptions when this happens. We basically were not up and running until Thursday late afternoon. I ran out of thank you cards and couldn't print anymore because I wasn't connected to the printer. That was find my hand needed a break.

Jeremy went to South Fork today to work with Lori on some surveying. It had been awhile since he had driven out there, but I think the drive still feels a bit long. Lori took him out for lunch - how nice :)

We received an email from our renter. I'll just say that I would never choose to be a landlord again. I actually felt physically sick to my stomach as I read her email. We did call in the evening, and I feel like there was some resolve. However, we would still covet your prayers for us and the situation.

The weather update.... no snow, but some heavy frost early some mornings. Yesterday was gray and rainy and cold (maybe 60s??) all day. I used to think that it never rained. Maybe the rain is an indication of the winter. Someone said it means we are going to have a cold winter... then again, somebody always knows some wives' tale when it comes to weather! I think that's it on the daily update. I hope each of you reading this blog has a great Friday and weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday 9/19

Well, we were supposed to go the play in Creede tonight, but... We left at 6pm and the play, Lance (our fearless leader) thought, started at 7:30pm. However, it actually started at 7, which may not seem like a problem, but Creede is a good 1 to 1-1/2 hours away. We pulled over in the neighboring tow n of Monte Vista where Lance decided there was no way that we were going to make it and we should just stop trying. So, instead, we went to the Monte Vista Nature Reserve. It is a wetland area. Jeremy had been through on afternoon and said all he saw were ducks, but tonight we saw quite a few things. We saw the sand hill cranes that migrate between Idaho and New Mexico. They are not white, like I picture cranes, but gray in color. It was so beautiful to watch them land with the sunsetting in the background. If I had my camera, I would have a picture to show you. In addition, we saw a skunk waddling right toward us! Lucky for us, he veered off the path before reaching our posse of people. We also saw an elk running through the field. It was a good experience, and I think we'll go back to see more of the cranes. After this adventure, Lance took us volunteers (La Puente and MVS) out to eat at Ninos Mexican Restaurant. It was good to just eat and fellowship with others. For those worried about us not seeing the play, we can still go on Saturday for the matinee at 2pm. I think that David and Claire are already busy with work, but we'll see what we decide to do.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday 9/18

Erin's Work Notes...
Today at La Puente office we did almost nothing because there was a guy working on our server. So no deposits could be posted, which meant no thank you notes for me.
Jeremy came over to the shelter for lunch today. We had road kill... yes, road kill. More specifically, we had elk steak that was donated to the shelter from the Department of Wildlife, which means that it is road kill. I will say that it was pretty tasty served in strips with a gravy over rice. I had never eaten elk before and enjoyed the opportunity.
I went to work at Re-threads today since there wasn't anything going on in the office. It is good to practice my poor Spanish-speaking skills and see people smile. One woman came in today that had just lost everything to a house fire. Many others came in who farm "papas" (potatoes). There were also a number of adorable kids. Even though I don't always like hanging up clothes, I do enjoy the interaction with people.

Jeremy's work notes....
There are a lot of spur of the moment opportunities at Jeremy's work. Today Mike let him know that there was a conference call 10 minutes before it happened. Then, he called Lori (in South Fork) to confirm there outing tomorrow to do some surveying; she said she had other plans for a boat ride - necessary part of the job when looking at the Rio Grande. So, Jeremy thought he wasn't supposed to go, but then Mike said it may be good for him to go. If I were Jeremy, I would've wanted to scream at all the criss-crossed lines. Fortunately, Jeremy rolls with things much better than I do and is handling this all pretty well.

Free Stuff...
I did a favor for Guy who manages the food bank today - filled a truck up with gas. The food bank people are sometimes called the "Food Bank Mafia" because they trade favors with people (and maybe not in the most admirable ways - although never violence!). So, in exchange for filling up the truck, Guy gave me 2 (FREE) tickets to the Pagosa Hot Springs!!!! Yea! I didn't ask where/how he got them; I will just enjoy the free date with my husband.
We also received 2 (FREE) tickets for the train from Alamosa to La Veta which is supposed to be the big tourist thing around here. We will probably go in the next week or so to see the fall colors. We got these tickets from Rhonda, who got them from Guy for doing a favor, and she didn't want them.
Finally, Lance (the executive director of La Puente) was schmoozing with people with money at Rural Philanthorpy Days. (This is a three day event held every 4 years.) In the process, he was given FREE tickets for the show at the Creede Theatre. It is a comedy called Leading Ladies - similar to the movie, Some Like it Hot. I have never seen that movie, but it is supposed to be good, I think?? So, tomorrow (Wednesday) the whole house is invited to go to Creede for the show along with other La Puente volunteers. I am pretty excited to 1) go to a show because I don't do that very often, 2) visit another part of the state, and 3) have FREE tickets! Maybe there are perks to being a volunteer :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Work Week #5

Jeremy and I decided that this would be the week we actually started going to the gyms some mornings before work. So, we left the house at 6:40am to go lift weights. The gym is at the college and is not too bad. The weights are little spread out, but they have everything that we would need - my 8lb and 10lb weights for all my heavy lifting :) We do enjoy the showers at the gym though. Everywhere we have showered in Colorado so far has really short showers. When we tall people stand under them it hits about chest level and you almost have to be a gymnist to get your hair wet! At the college, however, the shower heads are conveniently placed above your head - what a novel idea!

At work, I finished up the mailing with Rhonda. Then, throughout the day made some contacts for the advertising stuff, wrote 12 thank you notes for the donations to La Puente, and a few other minor tasks. The sad news in the office is Rhonda will be leaving in January. I can't imagine who they will get to replace her. She will have been there for two years, but she knows so much! I so much enjoy working with her in the month I've had, that I can't imagine someone new sharing the front office with me. We'll see what happens.

Jeremy said he worked on a few things in the office. Mostly some busy work. I think he is hoping Mike (his boss) would give him more tasks or a little direction, but Mike hasn't done much of that lately. Hopefully, as winter approaches and the days in the field diminish, he will find more purpose in the office - please pray for that.

Finally, what I heard today is that winter is coming and it may snow tonight! Yes, I typed that correctly - winter! Rhonda said that it snowed last September 23rd, and the nights are dipping into the low 30s this week... so I'll let you know if I spot any snow. It did rain very hard today with some small hail. (See picture to left. I took this from the front porch of the office. The cute little building across the street - and through the rain - is KRZA, the local public radio station.) They say that - and the mouse that is starting to seek shelter in our office - are indications of winter. Crazy. I can't imagine. We were supposed to camp out this coming weekend at our harvest party, but we may be reconsidering that. I'll let you know. (If I were with Ben and Luke a little snow wouldn't stop us. I recall one Christmas Eve being convinced that sleeping in our backyard in a tent would be a good alternative to sleeping inside in front of the tree!)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weekend

This was the first weekend for a few weeks that we just stayed at the house. It was good. We were able to get a lot accomplished.

On Friday, we went to a bonfire/potluck for volunteers at a previous Americorps volunteer's home. It was fun to just sit around the fire, but a little difficult to cultivate friendships. There are a whole lot of Americorps volunteers here that are really fun people. The difficulty is that they share four houses and have all that bonding time. Then, the Mennonites (as we are known) come to the gatherings, but without the existing bonds they have. So, it is still fun to go socialize - and I see a lot of them at work (I think they all volunteer at La Puente) - but it is a little difficult to feel like you have found new friends. We'll see what happens as the year progresses.

On Saturday, we worked at rearranging the house and making it "ours." It was fun to decide what the purpose of each room would be and how we, as a unit, wanted it to look. Claire (a Notre Dame alumni) took a break to watch the Michigan vs. Notre Dame f-ball game. While that was on, Emmy and I went to Alamosa to get groceries for the week. I came home and mopped the large kitchen floor with Jeremy's help. It feels so good to walk and not get crumbs stuck on your feet... we'll see how long that lasts. In the evening, Claire and Jeff made supper and then we just hung out in our new newly arranged rooms.

On Sunday, we worked - I'll just come out and say we worked... even though I don't really like to do much work on Sunday. We wanted to get the greenhouse/sunroom and the two sheds cleaned up. We did. We have a pile of old paint cans and random other things that need to go to a dump/toxic drop-off location. It is so nice to have some order around this place and feel like we have taken some ownership.
Jeremy and I went out for lunch and watched Wild Hogs this afternoon for his birthday. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the lunch money!) This picture is actually from his birthday (on the 11th), but I forgot I had it to post. We had eaten lunch in the park, and this is our documentation of a great birthday celebration!
This evening we tried out the young adult Bible study at church - not too bad... it felt good to discuss something in a small group setting that leads to spiritual growth. We went to the Casters (praise & worship) service afterwards. It is not very spiritually nourshing for me for a number of reasons that I don't really need to go into. We'll probably just continue with morning worship and come back in the evenings to the Bible study.

At the Bible study, I met a girl from Adams State College who said they play sand volleyball Sundays at 1pm while the weather's warm. I might try to check it out next week... I hope it will be fun and I will not be the old one who dies on the court :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday

Yeah, it's Friday! So, new things about ERIN'S WORK...


  • I was taught how to do daily summaries - journal entries about the finances of each business. I know to most of you this sounds boring, but I enjoyed another task to help in the office. I also liked to race myself to see how fast I could type numbers - I know, I'm a geek, but so are some of you :)

  • I met with the college kids at Milagros Coffeehouse - as well as Randall (manager) and Steve (my afternoon boss) - about advertising and marketing. I think it will be a pretty good relationship. The advertising class will get to design an ad for "The Grizzly" (Adams State College's paper) about the month of November being "Adams State College Appreciation Month" where students will get a 20% discount all month. I think the students will be excited about that.

  • I think that I will - for the most part - be working out of the main office on advertising (i.e. flyers, brochures, etc) for the businesses. Then, I can help Rhonda (office manager) out in the office with various things.

  • Today (Friday) and yesterday Rhonda and I worked on getting a mass mailing out (5,000 pieces of mail). I know this sounds easy, but it's not. There are some people that stuff the envelopes by matching the name on the letter to the name on the envelope. Then they are passed onto us. We have to sort the mail by 1) Valley mail, 2) Colorado - out of the Valley - mail, and 3) out of state mail. This is a pretty tedious thing and my eyes are a little bleery from looking at all the zip codes. Crazy, but a fun race against the clock. This is a picture of my desk. I have a pile for out of state, Colorado, Alamosa, La Jara, Monte Vista, Del Norte, the Valley, and the unsorted mail tray. It is hard to take a break when you are totally surrounded. We have 1,000 more to do on Monday. I would not want to do this everyday - be sure to thank your postmaster for the work s/he does!
JEREMY'S WORK....
He promises to write more about the meeting the other night, but we have been busy. He has been having a great time at work, but is starting to get a bit sick of driving. He has been out in the field (South Fork area - about 45 min) almost everyday this week and will be most of next week as well. He needs to get the 15 sites checked out before it gets to cold outside. (People say it can snow by the end of September and the first big snow hits at Halloween.) He can make it to about 2 sites a day is all. So, work, work, work in the field. I hope he gets his fill because I don't know how much he will go out in the winter.

HOUSE STUFF...
We had our first house meeting. It was good to gather together as the unit for the year and discuss how we wanted the house to run. We are planning on having a house meeting weekly, which will, most weeks, not be too long. After the meeting we are going to have game time or Bible study/worship time on alternating weeks. I am excited about this because I think it will be one more step to bringing everyone together. We'll eat meals 3 times a week together and fend for ourselves the rest of the week, which means that I only cook one night and clean up one night. FANTASTIC! We also picked our chore for the year - unless we get tired of doing it. My chore is "kitchen facilitator" :) I love that title. It just means that for the most part I sweep and mop floors and make sure the fridge is wiped out, but if there needs to be a big cleaning day, I am allowed to ask others to help. Jeremy is "yardwork facilitator" and trash man. He is in charge of taking out the trash weekly and keeping an eye on the yardwork. If there is a large task, he shoudl ask others to help. Claire is dusting and watering plants; Jeff is in charge of keeping all floors clean - except the kitchen. So, anyway, I think things went well, and I look forward to being an official unit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday - Jeremy's Birthday!!!

So, we didn't do anything special for Jeremy's 31st birthday - yet. He did meet me for lunch, and we went to the park to enjoy our sack lunches. It is relaxing to go there together and be able to connect and get away from the office. Also, Rhonda (the La Puente office manager) gave me two tickets for the train to La Veta, which is supposed to be really fun/scenic. So, that is Jeremy's birthday gift; we just need to arrange a time to go on the train.

I worked in the office all day today, which was nice for me. I do have a little consistency to my afternoons - or, I should say, one afternoon. On Wednesdays, I am going to be at Re-Threads working from 1-4pm. I am hoping that I can just leave at 4pm to go to the gym to work out rather than finding miscellaneous work to do for an hour. We'll see what happens.

Jeremy went to a round table discussion meeting this evening from 5-8pm (which is why we didn't do anything for his birthday). Apparently, he met a lot of important people. I told him he needed to blog because I wouldn't remember all of the details he told me. I think he met people such as the State Rep, U.S. Senator, and other power people. I'll remind him to blog tonight.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Work Week #4

Monday...
Oh, how I love Mondays! (do you hear a little sarcasm???) I was beat from all the work and hiking we did this weekend. I had sore muscles, sore knuckles from gripping hammers, and tired eyes. We started off the morning with a trip to the bank so that we could finally be signers on the MVS account. This had been a frustrating aspect (and will be a little longer until we get our debit cards) because we were having to pay for groceries, prescriptions, etc with our own money and get reimbursed. Being reimbursed would work out great, except that there are no National City banks out here and no way to actually deposit money into our account back home. Bummer! So, Jeremy and I opened a new account here to have a place to put some of our stipend (you know, the big $50 a month we get paid) or any reimbursement checks.

Jeremy headed on to work, and I went with Emmy to the meeting about the ESL classes. Yes, I have been sucked back into the teaching world already. I decided that I would be an ESL tutor for 1 hour a week, 1 night a week. Emmy is actually teaching class on Monday and Thursday nights. I am just tutoring on Thursdays. I'll let you know how it goes. Emmy and I headed into work about 11am. I worked in the office until 1pm. Then headed to Hunt Avenue Boutique for the rest of my day. Funny story....

Today, I arrived at Hunt Avenue Boutique and was told that I would be working by myself. The store is connected to Rainbow's End thrift store, but not so that you can interact much with who is there. So, I sat alone, reading the "best" magazine in the world - NEA Today (actually, the only thing I had to read in my bag). When I looked at the clock, it said 1:00, and I thought "Are you serious? I can't believe how long this day is!" Then, Sue (the manager) came and gave me permission to put sticky dots on items and inventory them. So, I worked diligently for what felt like forever. I ran out of space to continue inventory-ing and had to quit. I looked at the clock and it said 2:00. Again, I thought, "You have got to be kidding me! I cannot make it 3 more hours!" I had made three sales, totalling about $25 so far that day and was bored out of my mind. I went back to reading my magazine for lack of anything better to do. My cell phone rang, and it was Jeremy. I said, "I am soooo bored. I am not going to make it for..." pausing to glance at the clock (2:15), "3 more hours!!"
He said, "What are you talking about it is 4:30?"
I started laughing and said "Praise the Lord! I could not have done this any longer!!!"
He was laughing hysterically by this time. It was at this point when I realized that the clock in the store needed some TLC and had fooled me all day long. (I realize as I write this that it is not nearly as funny when typed as when told in person; I hope you found at least some amusement in it nonetheless.)

Colorado Springs: Part 3

Sunday....
8am seems to be the time to get up and go. We went to eat a light breakfast of cold cereal and fruit and to pack our lunches before setting off for our hiking adventures.

We started off with a fairly easy hike up to the Crags. It is the trail that will allow you to access both the Pikes Peak trail (the shorter route up the back side) and the Pinnacle Trail. The Crags has a great view from the top. (Please excuse my awesome capris with wool socks and hiking shoes - I may not be fashionable, but I made it to the top!) In addition, Jeremy wanted to find a geocache hidden at the top somewhere. We had to hike a bit on the ridge to find the "treasure." Once we found it, there was a clue leading to the actual treasure. This was one of the best caches because the people wrote a little poem and made it like a scavenger hunt. It helped me to enjoy it and be involved. The picture on the left is of the Crags (bald mountain in distance) from the Pinnacle - our next hike.

We hiked down from the Crags and ate lunch at the beginning of the Pinnacle trail. (For the Ediger family... We found the beginning of the trail, and I believe, we hiked it the whole way!!!! It was still steep in places, but nothing like the hike we took!) We headed up to the Pinnacle with some discussion as to which direction we needed to head (see picture to left). The trail is gorgeous and steep in places. The view at the top is similar to the Crags, but you are at a higher elevation -about 11,400ft. Jeff and David hiked to the official top, leaving Emmy back - unknowingly - and Jeremy and I knowingly staying behind. They said it was quite windy and scary to be at the top. (See picture of their tiny figures in photo to the right.) It looked a bit tricky just getting up and down as well.

Our last activity of the day was finding the second part of the geocache. On our way back out to our car, we hiked off the trail, up a steep hill to a cave-like area. Hidden there was the treasure we had been searching all day for.... see how valuable this treasure was in the picture to the right.

Finally, we arrived back at camp - weary from hiking - to indulge in homemade cinnamon rolls, saved from the morning brunch for us to eat. They were delicious and although we only had one, I think we would have happily eaten at least two each.

We traveled home via 285S for a prettier - but longer - ride. It was beautiful, and we were able to see a lot of the towns people keep talking about - Saguache, Salida, Buena Vista, Center, etc. What a great weekend!

When we arrived home, we welcomed Claire - the last (we think) member to our household. She seems nice, and I think she will fit in well with the group. It relieves a lot of fears about who would be coming.

Colorado Springs: Part 2

Saturday...
Rise and shine for 8am breakfast! We ate breakfast - breakfast burritos and/or biscuits and gravy with fruit, juice, and milk. Then, well-nourished, we headed out to Eiger (building) where the demolition was going to occur. We donned hard hats, gloves, dust masks, and goggles and scouted out the work area. In the lower portion of a two-story building (Eiger), we found the remains of boys' and girls' shower stalls. The walls were not dry-walled, but plaster with wire meshing stuff (some of you carpenters may know the technical terms). So, we took sledge hammers and began swinging away. As the plaster crumbled, Emmy and I worked at loading it into a wheelbarrow (which I learned that I pronounced wrong as, "wheel-bar-o" instead of "wheel-bare-0"), and then dumping it into either the skid-loader or the dumpster. We also picked up large pieces of wood and sheetrock to put into "Lefty" - the coolest foreign truck in the world!! (It is four wheel drive with the steering wheel on the right and stick shift on the left. It was a blast to manuever up hills and over tree roots! - see picture of Emmy loading Lefty to the right.) I took some whacks with the sledgehammer, as did Emmy. I also worked to disassemble the upstairs bathroom. What started as a room with a shower, sink, and toliet, ended as a room with no pipes or any other bathroom evidence. It was great fun! Jeremy worked at taking down sheetrock, slamming walls with large hammers, and drove "Lefty" in a humorous fashion. (His knees were up to his chin and hitting the windshield wipers, spraying washer fluid, and turning on blinkers.) By the end of the workday, we had successfully demolished all we were allowed to before the structural engineer gave the okay for any other part to be torn down. Our last job of the day was to move a couch from one building to another, but it had to go up over a balconey - Ridiculous! we all thought. But, here is evidence to prove that it can be done (Picture: Aldin - board member at the camp, Jeff, Jeremy, and me heaving it up to Gary - coordinator of this project - lifting it and David appearing to just be hanging out on the balconey.)

We had supper - thanksgiving dinner with amazing crescent rolls. During supper, all these other people staying at the camp kept coming up to us and asking if we were the La Jara group... we had no idea who they were or how they knew that we would be there. They were nice though.
After supper, we went on a short hike to Monkey Rock to watch the sunset. The guys braved the sprinkles and continued up to Eagle's Nest - the luxurious cabin located highest on the mountain. At Eagle's Nest they talked with Phil (an older gentleman traveling around with a fifth wheel and his wife doing volunteer work wherever it's needed); Phil told them about the science of potato guns and bottle rockets. Jeremy enjoyed the educational time, while Jeff and David were a little unsure if all that talk was necessary. They came down and joined Emmy and me in the staff lounge at the camp where Emmy read random bits of info from some camping guide from the 1970's; I burst out in spontaneous singing from the "Songs" songbook; Jeff read from the Mennonite Directory; David learned about wildnerness first aid and survival; and Jeremy sometimes joined me in song. Finally, around 10:30pm, we headed to bed - tired, sore, and content.

Colorado Springs: Part 1

So, we headed to Colorado Springs - or just "Springs" if you're from around here. We had volunteered to help with some demolition work at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp for free food, free lodging, and a free day of hiking. We took the most boring, but faster route there - via Pueblo.
On Friday night, we went to REI (an outdoor store that is amazing!). I needed to purchase a backpack/lumbar pack of some sort, so I could feel like a real hiker - or at least a prepared one. I looked and debated a long time between a lumbar pack that goes around the waist and had quite a bit of packing space, as well as space for 2 Nalgene bottles (32 oz each), or a camelback daypack. I opted for the daypack that would hold 3-L (or 100 oz) of water and some space for rainjacket, snacks, etc. While there, we joined REI and are now part of the co-op with a lifetime membership. It got us a discount and allows us to shop at the member-only sales that happen twice a year - all the items that were returned are sold for 40-60% off! The sale is coming up at the end of September ... can we afford to go shopping for hiking/biking/camping gear???
We got into camp around 10pm and basically, went straight to bed.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Work Week #3

Short work weeks are always nice. I said that as a teacher and I'll say that as a volunteer. :)

This week I worked in the office in the morning, as usual. This is the only regularly scheduled part of my day right now. I enjoy it. I like the people I work with here and the things I get to do - which are limited right now, but will hopefully entail more as the year goes on. Basically, I just give Rhonda, the office manager, a chance to get out to run all the errands that need done each day. In the afternoons, I figure it out day by day....
  • On Tuesday, I drove to Rainbow's End, Monte Vista. It is a smaller town about 20 miles west of Alamosa. I think the town has a cute, old-fashioned look. The store there is smaller, but nice. I hear they get donations from South Fork, a town even farther west; apparently, South Fork is a richer community, so the quality of donations is better. It is also more tempting to buy things, especially with the buy 1 get 1 free sale they have!
  • On Wednesday, I was putting tiny little price stickers on items for the Hunt Avenue Boutique - a off-shoot of the thrift store with nicer things. I worked with Bill, who is the assistant manager. He is an older man who looks like a grump, but he is really fun and has a great sense of humor.
  • On Thursday, I went to work at Rainbows End (Alamosa). When I arrived, Sue (the manager) sent me with a Spanish speaking customer to Re-Threads to find some clothes. I opened up the building for one man and when I looked up after finding the form for him, I saw a line of people out the door. So, again for about 2 hours, I worked at Re-Threads. It was 2 hours of Spanish language practice; it was fun! There are a lot of migrant farm workers here at the shelter right now. Many of them came to Re-Threads to get some clothes. They are pleasant and patient. The rest of the afternoon, I was running the cashier at Rainbow's End, Alamosa. It was a good day.

Jeremy's work... I know some, but not nearly as much as he could tell you. He has been working to get the website up and running for the Rio Grande River Restoration Foundation (or something close to that - it is such a long name, I usually mess up some part of it). He went to Monte Vista to meet with the EPA lady, Lori. He talked to the biologist there for awhile to learn how to collect samples. Then, yesterday he went to Wolf Creek and collected a variety of bugs - he could tell you what kind; I don't really remember the names. If I had been thinking, I could have taken pictures of the bugs in the viles he was keeping them in - just so you could enjoy them as well.

Well, this is a lot of reading and so few pictures (well, no pictures). We are headed to Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp to work (and hike) this weekend. I will post pictures and info on Sunday night or Monday. Until then, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor Day

Ahhhhh, Labor Day in the Rockies. A local friend of the unit's, Kevin, and his dad, Al, took our house out fishing, hiking, relaxing today. We headed south on 285 and then took 17 south over La Manga (spelling might be off) Pass, past the Pletoro Reseviour turn, to the Red Lake turn-off. It was about an hour drive and about 3,500ft elevation change to get to around 11,000ft. The area was gorgeous. Most of the guys went fishing and caught "nothing they wanted to keep" - that's code for "We got some bites, but nothing we were able to actually pull out of the water." The fish, to their credit, were very small - minnow-size - and not in abundance. The fishermen had fun just standing near/in the mountain stream, enjoying the gorgeous day God had given us, and holding a fishing pole in their hand. Jeremy enjoyed the opportunity to wear the waders (you can see them in the picture) that we brought out here.
Emmy, Jeff, and I went hiking for about 1-1/2 hours to an alpine meadow near Red Lake. It was a beautiful hike. In the distance on the meadow, we saw sheep grazing and could see them being herded by the three sheepdogs put in charge of them. They were too far away to get a good picture. The other pictures are just from up on the meadow. The rest of the afternoon Emmy and I just laid a blanket down in the sun and read books and fell asleep.
What a great weekend!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hello, September!

Random Picture and Note: This picture to the right is just for my brothers, who are obsessed with taking pictures of Jeeps wherever we go - especially the ones that are built up. When I saw this Jeep in Alamosa, I thought I would take a picture in their honor. So, if they ever get on the internet.. this one's for you, Ben and Luke! Enjoy ... and let me know if the Jeep was worth taking a picture of!

So, this weekend we were thinking about going to Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp and helping with bathroom demolition for the new bathhouse, but we are going to do that next weekend. We decided to just enjoy this area for Labor Day weekend. Here is the start of our weekend - be prepared for lots of pictures! :)

SATURDAY - We started off going to Rainbow's End for a few household needs. Then, we visited the local farmer's market. It is small, but we got 10 ears of corn for $2.50 which I thought was a pretty good deal. Then, we went to the First Annual Hispanic Culture Day. We stood in line forever waiting for food. (Picture to left: Emmy, David - in blue, Jeremy, and Jason) Jeff was helping with the day's events, so we went to support him. We saw a few different dances as well.

Then, there was a classic car show in town. There were around 350 cars in the local park. That is a lot of cars to look at! I thought I would add the picture of the Nova with the HUGE engine - I don't even know how you drive a car with that huge thing in your way! Also, the station wagon is in honor of my family's old wood-paneled "grocery getter" - This one's a little flashier, don't you think? That evening, we enjoyed pesto pizza (made by Emmy). After dinner we played Clue, Greedy, and 10,000. The last two use dice and are a lot of fun.... I (Erin) won both of these dice games - I should have tried some dice games at Vegas with that luck!!
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SUNDAY
- After church in Alamosa, we headed to Zapata Falls (about 30 minutes from Alamosa). Jason had wanted to do this hike before he left, and we thought it would be a lot of fun. The hike was only 1/2 mile to the falls. The falls were cool coming down through a slice in the rock. I was able to utilize my waterproof boots - the picture to the right is one just for my brothers who think it is so cool to walk in water and not get your socks wet! I would agree after my experience today. We decided to head farther up the mountain to South Zapata Lake (4 mile hike). As we went up, we had a great view of the Great Sand Dunes. Check out the picture to the left; the brown, desert-y area is the dunes. The hike was going great, until it begin to cloud up, then thunder, then sprinkle, and then hail tiny ice pellets. We took shelter under some trees. (I do realize this is not the safest place, but we needed to get out of the cold rain.) Finally, we decided to make a break for it and head back down the mountain determined to come back and make it to the lake another day.