Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bass Lake

After the MCC Sale, Terry, JoAnne & I drove up to visit Steve at his cabin on Bass Lake on Friday night.

Steve gave Terry and JoAnne a tour of the upstairs and told them part of the story of the place.  I was amazed at how much progress he had made since I had been there last, doubling the size of the main living room, and extended both the north & south rooflines.  We settled in for the night pretty quickly because it was pretty late.

The next morning Steve drove us over to The Forks restaurant for breakfast.  After breakfast, we went for a short hike/walk out to Flat Rock.  There's a trailhead, but we only went about half a mile to a beautiful spot overlooking most of the lake and then walked back.

Steve then drove us around the lake to get a lay of the land and to check out some of the local shops before heading back to The Forks for lunch (their food was good enough to warrant a second trip back).  Afterward, we went on a hike from the Wonder Valley trailhead up a progressive waterfall.  My head was warm thanks to JoAnne graciously buying me a beanie since I had forgotten mine in Fresno.  Some beautiful sights as we hiked up a river/waterfall.  We also got some cool pictures at various spots.

After going back home we changed and headed to the Chukchansi Indian Casino.  I had never been there before, not being much a fan of gambling.  In fact, when I worked for D&T, they were a client, so no one in the firm was permitted to gamble there for independence reasons.

I joined the players club they have because I received $10 of playing credit because it was my birthday month.  I played on one of the card game machines and used it up pretty quickly, although I did win a fair amount of poker hands to keep it going for awhile.  But the cigarette smoke was unpleasant, so I was happy to be done when I was.

We then had dinner at one of the casino's restaurants, and I followed Terry & JoAnne in ordering pot roast.  I never liked it growing up because my mom and grandma always made it with mushrooms (which I still don't care for), and I don't think I had tried it as an adult, and was pleasantly surprised by the taste of.

We went home and chatted more for the evening before heading to bed.  We had an early departure planned to make it to my church back in Fresno.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Birthday #28

I'll be honest, I did not have high hopes for this one.  I've been frustrated with work, specifically the lack of flexibility that I had with my former job.  The perks of not traveling anymore and not working an insane amount of hours are wonderful, but I miss the flexibility of being able to take off from the office midday and make up the hours at 2 a.m. if I so choose, which I often did.

My boss got married a week from last Saturday and he was still on his honeymoon, and since one of us always has to be here, I couldn't take the day off.  That wasn't too big of a deal, I've definitely had rougher work days on birthdays past.  But having him gone a week and half had left a heavy load on my plate.  I had to finalize the bank loan negotiations that I hadn't been involved in at all, dealing with the owners, banks and attorneys.  I was successful, but exhausted.

But trying to figure out what a birthday means in my late 20's when I'm single can be awkward.  In a romantic relationship, you have someone to rationalize making a big deal of it.  How much can you expect of your friends for joining you in celebration?

My mom was actually going to come up for my birthday so we could hang out.  I hadn't seen her since my visit down south in mid-February.  Even though I stayed with my parents during my whirlwind trip in March for my high school reunion, she was working during the brief windows that I was at the house.  Mom and I have always clicked, and she's also been helping me brush up on my memorization of Philippians to recite it in my adult Sunday School class next week.

It turns out that I have awesome friends.  My friends Amy and Stephanie volunteered to host and cook dinner for me and some friends.  I decided to defer my mom's visit.  Even though I knew she'd love my friends up here, if we did that, she and I wouldn't get time to really spend together.  And this also gives her a little more time to recover from tax season.  She was grateful for that.

We mainly invited church friends, particularly families I had been adopted into because of having their kids in Sunday School.  The kids, my friend Bryan and I were the only ones who were adventurous (crazy?) to go swimming.  The weekend had spiked probably 20 degrees in temperature, but that heat was gone by Monday evening, and the pool water was cold.  But it felt so good to be back in the water again.  I'm too cheap to stomach a gym membership, so I actually have something to look forward to in the heat of summer.

Amy had barbecued tri-tip, and Stephanie brought a triple-chocolate cake from Costco, and everyone else brought side dishes.  The food was all delicious, and the perk of it all was that Amy made double the amount of tri-tip she ended up needing, so I took home a lot of leftovers.

As we were cutting the cake, I was struck with how profoundly blessed I am.  I may not have my own family yet, but I am surrounded by friends who share their awesome and adorable kids with me so I never feel unloved.

The families with kids left after cake (some crazy line about bedtimes).  So Amy, Christine, Stephanie and I broke out the cards and started playing Nertz.  Amy's older two boys joined us for a couple rounds after homework but before bed.  Usually I dominate at Nertz with this group because I was raised on games more than any of them were, but Stephanie was pulling out way more wins than I.  Amy usually likes keeping score, but I don't, and she didn't even bring it up.  It was nice not even bothering to count cards afterward.  We just separated them, shuffled and played round after round.  That's what makes it fun for me.

We finally all went home around 11:30.  I sat down and read all the comments that had been posted on Facebook throughout the day.  It was a great capstone to an awesome day.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

MCC Sale

I had house guests!  It's not a common occurrence for me, so I'm excited when I get to host people.  This is a big house, and I have always wanted it to be a blessing to more than just me, be it for roommates or for travelers from out of the area.

My dear friends Terry and JoAnne came up for a long weekend.  Terry had a couple of work meetings Thursday and Friday, and so they stayed at my house one of the nights of their visit.

On Friday, Terry and I both got out of work early, and I introduced he and JoAnne to the annual MCC Sale.  MCC stands for Mennonite Central Committee and is a world relief organization.  They function as phase-two support in national disasters (going in after the Red Cross to setup more long-term recovery efforts) as well as a missionary agency.

Since my alma mater Fresno Pacific University is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren denomination, the campus hosts the MCC Sale.  The main events are the quilt auction (over 200 handmade quilts donated) and the food: pies, fritters, funnel cakes, baked potatoes, tri-tip, and zweibach (an over-glorified traditional buttery dinner roll).  It was raining, so it hampered the afternoon a little, but oh well.

I saw a few friends and even two roommates that I hadn't seen in several years, and it was great to catch up.  Priscilla, the university president's wife, was my chem lab prof.  She and I have a standing tradition to meet first-in-line at the fritter booth on Saturday morning of the sale and catch up. Because of Terry & JoAnne's visit and our other plans for Saturday, I arranged to meet Priscilla on Friday instead.

And it worked out well because the current university president is retiring this summer, and so I was introduced to his replacement, and was very pleased.  Being in leadership, working on Student Exec and having Priscilla as my chem lab prof, I know the exiting president, Merrill, well, so I was interested in seeing who's taking hold of the baton.  I was impressed.

I was talking with people for quite awhile, so it was a good thing Terry and JoAnne were in a comfortable spot in the student lounge where we had been eating, because they fell asleep.  We looked at a few other areas of the sale, bought a rhubarb pie and some zweibach to go, and headed back to my house to pack for Bass Lake.