Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend in Boise

"Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Tale of Two Dinners and a Camping Trip

A few weeks ago, the CEO of Vertigo Software, a company with an office here in Portland, mentioned on Twitter that the company was hiring, and asked people to send him an email if they were interested. Shaun has followed the company for a long time. He was interested, and he emailed. He got a reply that night. Then he got an email from their HR department. That night. Containing a request for an interview the following Monday. Over the next week or two, he made it through an informal screening interview and a technical phone interview.

The final hurdle was an in-person coding challenge. Two weeks ago today, Shaun went in to the Vertigo Portland office. He was given the specs for a project and two and a half hours to have at it. When the time was up, they had lunch at the Produce Row Cafe. Then he presented his work and answered questions. Then he was interviewed some more.

Shaun was so fried by the pressure of not wanting to blow his chance of working at the company that he very most wanted to work at that he didn't even call me when he was done. He just came on home.

And went camping!

Beacon Rock with the Morgan family is always fun. How enchanting is this spot? Here, David is serving up foil packets of carrots and potatoes and onions and garlic and sausage that were cooked on the campfire. Which is exactly what you should eat when you're camping, especially when you've had a soul-draining day of job interviews.

It wasn't, perhaps, the most relaxing weekend. Shaun was expecting to hear if he got the job on Friday or Monday. When we didn't hear Friday, it meant a weekend of wondering. Also, on Saturday night a drunk old man got stuck in his tent at the campsite next to us. At the campsite next to the Morgans, a very very very very very untalented jackass got out his guitar at 11:00 and sang to all of his buddies at the top of his lungs for several hours. I didn't let Shaun go ask them to quiet down (my overactive imagination saw it all ending with terrible, bloody violence) and we were out of cell range, so we couldn't call the ranger. It was rather satisfying to tell on them the next morning when the ranger came by, though.

One of those milestones that you don't know you were waiting for until it arrives: the boys deciding on their own to play Uno together in the tent.

Gotta make your own fun when you're camping.

Walking up to "Little Beacon Rock."

How cute is Mila? Her folks do an amazing job of managing her diabetes and keeping her healthy.

Carved into the picnic bench at our campsite.

Lisa Marie, Ezra, and Mila getting serious with the s'mores.

So Monday came and we waited. And waited. 3:30 rolled around...I needed to go to the store to get something for dinner. But would it be a celebration or a consolation meal? Surely we would hear any minute. I couldn't bring myself to go shopping. And Shaun came home with no word and we had no food in the house.

So Shaun pulled everything out of the freezer. Everything. Eight fish sticks. Five taquitos. A handful of wedge potatoes. Two mozzarella sticks. Twelve mini quiches. There was also one leftover piece of pizza in the fridge that Willem claimed before we even started cooking. Shaun made a careful timeline of when to put all the food in and when to flip it and when to take it out. So this was dinner. Not one of my proudest homemaking (or lack thereof) moments.

Well, I certainly wasn't going to let that happen again. The next afternoon I decided to take a chance and bought some salmon steaks at Whole Foods. And missed the call. And noticed when I got back in the car. And called Shaun back. And found out that we would be having celebratory pan-roasted salmon for dinner.

Shaun starts the new job on July 11. Cheers to him!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Logs III

Here's a student (believe it or not) bucking team. There were Jack and Jill teams (the state champions were there) and Jill and Jill teams as well. The students held their own against the professionals--I'm guessing it's because they have more practice. We learned that the key to success is in the push. If you find yourself pulling the saw, it's all over.

Ax throwing. Nobody lost a limb that I am aware of.

Only the high schoolers did the log rolling. It was NOT a warm day, but several kids jumped in willingly. Willem kept asking me how much it cost to get in there. I couldn't figure out how or if they were scoring the event--I think it was mostly an excuse to goof around.

Cable splicing is a very photogenic event.

It also requires a great deal of strength. Shaun and I watched two girls struggle until they were finally told to stop. They'd made good progress but eventually couldn't get the spike into the cable in the right spot. They were red and close to tears (of frustration), but they didn't cry and they didn't give up.

I loved watching the girls throw themselves into the competition. I'm thinking that future girlfriends for our boys should all come from the forestry club.


Logs II

This kid was hanging out on this spar pole before the competition began. He talked on the phone for quite some time. The caption for this photo comes courtesy of Shaun's dad:

"Can you hear me now?"

Those are high school boys. Their poor mothers.

The pole climbers had to do a bunch of fancy rigging once they made it to the top. More than once a cable slipped and they had to climb back down. Lots of audible groaning from the crowd during this part.

As part of the main event relay, the competitors had to jump over several logs while carrying and dragging all that heavy stuff. And they made it look easy.

The last step in the relay is to squash a Coke can. With a tree.

Logs I

If you've ever made the drive from Portland to the coast on Highway 26, chances are you've noticed Camp 18. The grounds include an outdoor logging museum, a restaurant housed in a massive log building, and a newish logger's memorial. Going to Camp 18 is a favorite tradition in Shaun's family, as it's only about a 20 minute drive from the tree farm.

In the past few years, Camp 18 has started holding an annual service (for loggers whose names had been added to the memorial that year) and logging competition.

Well, this past year Shaun's mom wrote a lovely write-up of Shaun's Grandpa Chick's life and found a nice picture to go with it, and it is now hanging in the memorial. (Look for R. N. "Chick" Jensen.) And when Shaun's folks invited us to the big event, we were excited to go.

In my fervent prayers for no rain, I had neglected to consider the need for sunscreen. It was one of those overcast days that gives you a stealth sunburn. We mystified all of our friends at church the next day with our ruddy glow, as it had apparently rained all day in Camas. I felt like a terrible mom allowing Willem to get his first real sunburn, but I guess one every five years isn't too bad.

The competitors were made up of professional logging crews and high school forestry club students. I didn't know there was such a thing as forestry clubs. It's like 4-H, but with logging instead of farming. Apart from the climbing, I think I might have enjoyed something like that when I was in high school. It sure would have beat marching band.

A word on the crowd: The event was well-attended, but it wasn't really a spectator deal. Almost everyone there was obviously in the industry in some way. Everyone knew each other, and, if they didn't, they felt like they should. It was really fun to sneak into that community and get a first-hand look.

When we first arrived and I saw everyone in their logging gear, I was bummed that I hadn't thought of dressing the boys in their hickory shirts. But after hanging around the families of the real loggers for a while, I was glad I hadn't. Nobody likes a poser. Which doesn't mean that we won't happily have the boys wear the shirts in other less "professional" settings. After all, Grandpa rightfully wears one (as did Great Grandpa Chick), and we are very proud of the family's logging heritage.

Here things are getting underway; we're singing the national anthem as they run the flag up the spar tree.

After a short talk from a pastor who managed to find a logging passage in the Bible (!), the names of the loggers who'd been added to the memorial that year were read. The man doing the announcing choked up several times when he reached the names of friends, particularly those who'd died in accidents. His emotional extemporaneous remarks had me wishing I'd brought a tissue. At the end of the list, the signal whistle was sounded.

"One long and one short," said the man. He struggled over the end of the next sentence. "That's the signal for quittin' time."


A big aim of the day was to raise money to keep the memorial building open and running. So all of the professional crews were "auctioned" off, with the highest bidder winning a percentage of the prize purse if "his" team won the competition. Most of the teams sold for $400-$800, which I thought was impressive. We had to keep swatting Willem's hand down, as he got pretty enthused over the proceedings.

Auction in progress.

You may recognize some of these guys if you've watched the show "Ax Men."

Ax Men on the block.

Here's the field of competitors getting their instructions. The high school kids did all the same things the pros did. One thing Shaun noticed is that there were no barriers anywhere. Folks were trusted to keep a safe distance and not to crowd the competitors or mess with the equipment. We appreciated the opportunity to see everything up close.

Let the games begin!