Saturday, September 21, 2002

09/21/02: For pictures of the river work, click here.

This past week, in a mere three days, Fire 4 constructed a meditation labyrinth! (Pictures will be up soon, on the team site.) It was a lot of work with gravel and brick. We are all sore from the shoveling and raking. It was also a challenge to figure out how to lay the bricks to make the labyrinth even. Good times. We will be having a little ceremony to "open" it in a couple days.

It's finally Saturday!! I am so happy because we have a two-day weekend at long last. Five of us got up early this morning for ISP, but then got right back in bed once home. Ah. Spent some time in the Wallingford Public Library and so far nearly four hours on the computers. Sigh, aren't I a dork?

Yesterday three of my teammates and I were put on call for disaster relief for Hurricane Isadore, which is roaming the Gulf of Mexico right now. As of this morning, it seemed to be heading for the Yucatan peninsula, so the US Gulf states may not be in danger. But geez, I'm no meteorologist, maybe they are. I wouldn't mind going to coastal Florida to work for a few weeks!
I'm tired right now, so I'm going to stop. I'll add more later this week.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

09/17/02: So. It's Tuesday now, except that I keep thinking it's Monday. But I'm glad it's not.

This weekend was...short. Saturday was the Wallingford Family Day celebration at Community Lake park, and our sponsors wanted us to be there to help out. Conveniently, there was a great article printed about us that morning. People at the park thus knew about us and thanked us and expressed gratitude and appreciation for our work. That felt very nice. I did a couple different things during the afternoon. For about half an hour, I got dressed in the giant koala costume and wandered around. I had fun waving at everyone and getting hugs from the kids, and dancing too. It was really difficult to see out of the head, and it was hot in there. So I got out. But I was surprised at how fun it was. Anyway. Mandi and I made sno-cones for awhile, and then helped out at the lake. Some of my teammates somehow found the energy to get in canoes and lead people around the little lake. It was quite popular, and the people seemed excited to be able to go for a canoe ride.

So we only had Sunday off. I had a nice day, I think. Went for an exploratory drive with Geo and Mandi, that was fun. I was not excited about having to go to work the next day. I was excited to sleep in for at least one day, though.

Monday it rained, so we could not work on the labyrinth. The Quinnipiac River Watershed Association is the organization that sponsors our team. They govern the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail, which is in Community Lake park. On the trail, there's a big spot with a couple benches, and one of our missions of this project is to construct a labyrinth, or serenity maze. (Except it's not a maze, it's just concentric circles.) It's for meditation, and according to the books that we saw, walking them is a metaphysical, life-transforming experience. So while we're all a little skeptical, we're excited about getting to build it and do it.

This morning we did get started. There was a big sand pit where the labyrinth will be. In the sand, we practiced drawing the circles and laying bricks. When we thought we had finished, we walked it to see if it worked. It did, and it was neat. Much different than I'd expected. We weren't meditating on anything, so it wasn't life-changing as yet, but definitely interesting. Then we laid gravel on the sand and used a tamping machine to press it down. That took the bulk of the day, shoveling gravel around, trying to get it level. But we made a lot of progress, and it looks good. I can't wait to see the finished product!

Thursday, September 12, 2002

09/12/02: It is Thursday, and we have been in Wallingford, CT since Sunday evening. We are having a great time so far, loving the project and the location. By the by, I've been to Wal-Mart three times already. Crazy! Tonight I bought a new camera (my old one, and I do mean old, fell in the river two days ago; the viewfinder was fuzzy with sawdust or something, and the thing was at least seven years old) and I'm really excited. :)

We have been canoeing on the Quinnipiac River. There's a five-mile section of the river that has been clogged with logjams and excessive debris for many years, and no endeavor to improve it has succeeded. In steps Fire 4! It is slow-going and often frustrating. There are so many fallen trees! Some of them have been near or actually impossible to remove or clear sufficiently, but for the most part, we have cleared up a lot of jams. It feels great to leave a site that only a few minutes (anywhere from 10 to over 60) earlier, was impassable by canoe, and now is.

The canoeing has been an adventure in itself. I had been in a canoe once before, when I was approximately seven years old. Incidentally, on that family canoe trip down some river in Michigan, we saw a blue frog. It was neat and no one has ever believed any of us. Anyway, so I was obviously a novice at this canoeing stuff. The Quinnipiac is extremely bend-ridden (to my beginner eyes), so it was quick learning. When I'm in the canoe, my partner and I still end up running into banks and sandbars and debris, but for the most part, the whole team has visibly improved in navigating the canoes in the river. Each night we are more sore, but I can see my muscles getting bigger. Interestingly, my right bicep is both larger and firmer than my left. Each night we are exhausted and can't wait to get to bed, and yet somehow never get to bed early enough.

There is an Irish pub three doors down, and we've gone there a few times to relax and have a nice chat with teammates. The Wal-Mart is another popular destination here in Wallingford, and there is a big public library that I hope to get to at some point. It's a really nice town. We are housed in a homeless shelter (it doesn't open until October, at which time we'll already be in Bridgeport working with Habitat), and it is really nice actually; though communal, it is definitely the nicest accomodation we've had yet. The prestigious Choate School provides us with tasty dinners, and our awesome sponsors make sure everything else is taken care of.

This afternoon, we got to go climbing at a local gym, courtesy of our sponsors and the Parks & Rec people. It was great fun and a fantastic workout. I was altogether worn out at the end of the two hour session. I really enjoyed it though, and I hope that someday I'll get to do more and get better.

In general, things are going really well in all aspects. I certainly hope that continues. Stay tuned for more adventures.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

09/08/02: Wow, how time does fly. This morning Fire 4 will be leaving for the fourth round project in lovely Connecticut. The first part of the round is clearing a land and river trail, and the second is working with Habitat for Humanity in Bridgeport. We are excited!!

Sadly, I returned to camp after a mere ten days on disaster relief. The Red Cross sort of ran out of things for my group to do. But I had a fabulous time meeting NCCC people from my campus, and hanging out in San Antonio with them. I really hope to get called out next round.

The third round went okay, it wasn't our best, but it was enjoyable for the most part. We had some team difficulties, but we're working on that. During the last session of camp, I moved into a cabin with counselors in the Woodlands unit. It was great to just sit around and talk about everyone's cultures, from peeing in the woods to African jungle life to Russian swear words to "Donald, where's your trousers?" I really enjoyed it. For the last two weeks of the round, the team moved to another Girl Scout camp, this one on Cape Cod. Our mission there was maintenance work, which ended up being painting/staining work. The sponsors were awesome and so nice. We stayed in platform tents, which were quite nice when there were no skunks in them. It was exciting to see a new place and to explore the Cape. We went on some of the many bike paths, it was very pleasant. We also frolicked on the beach, at the Atlantic Ocean! That was great, I loved that.

Eleven hours in the van later, we arrived back in Perry Point a week ago. Greeted by spider webs and crickets inside the house, but lovely weather that feels much better than the sauna it was two months ago. This week we took a field trip to DC and visited the Corporation for National and Community Service. Very inspirational.

We are all surprised that it's already fourth round and that there are less than three months until we leave. Graduation is Thursday, November 21st.