Thursday, September 01, 2011

The end; an anniversary and the future

Well today is the anniversary of the beginning of Americorps Part Two: Team Leader Edition. What a great day to wrap up the year and look ahead, right?

Gold 6 finished Alaska. I definitely want to go back in the winter, however I feel like I was able to do so much. We went to Seward (I saw orcas, puffins, mt goats and a bunch of birds), Denali (I saw a lynx), the wildlife conservation center (as close to a 'wild bear' as I saw), a ton of Glaciers, a forest fair, the saturday market, Earthquake park and had lots of play time. I LOVED this project. If you take out the culture of New Orleans this was by far my favorite project. The sponsors were so great, the kids were amazing, and I was happy happy happy!

The team struggled a bit, I'll chalk it up to fourth round, but we made it back to sacramento safely. At the awards banquet, Katie received VST of the year, most individual ISp hours and the team received most cumulative ISP hours.

We also had a "mandatory reflection" the last week, I took the team to the park, where we laid on blankets, sat in chairs, ate licorice and shared feelings. It took 5 hours but was the perfect day. I kept looking around at these 10 people who drove me crazy and I loved fully and thinking that this moment was how I wanted to remember them. Open, happy, relaxed, excited, loving with a calm breeze, sunshine and california warmth.

We've been apart for over a month now, and while i was supposed to see two of them on my road trip, life happens and I had to change my plans. They are already doing so many great things.  LOVE YOU GOLD SIX!

After the CMs left it was back to TLT. Most of the struggled I felt between myself and other TLs dissipated as quickly as the cms. I and the lovely res life staff organized the lounges, bookshelves and the kitchens. Vaya and I spent a good 3 days cleaning up the kitchen. After two years in the program, you cannot even believe how painful it is to throw about 15lbs of peanut butter. I really appreciated these hours in the kitchen; I really appreciated Vaya's friendship this year.

Our last night together almost EVERYONE went to lions gate and all who were there ended up in their underwear or fully dressed in the pool. There were chicken fights, shots and so much laughter. The next morning was so hard, but Paula and I headed out on our road trip. Sacramento-->Camp K, Salt Lake City-->Boulder, Co-->DSM, IA--> Chicago to pick up Iman and then Sibly, IL-->LOuisville for lunch, Algood, TN-->D.C-->Albany-->Boston (and CT)-->Albany-->Chicago-->Home! It was nearly a month of the road but I saw all of Gold One except for Yasha. Stephen is back in CA so i saw him before I left. It was amazing to see so many people who mean so much to me. Only 13 states on my list of places I've never been! Paula is a fabulous road trip partner and i am also greatly appreciative of her friendship this year.

I didn't get to see NYC, but that will hopefully come in the next few years. The wanderlust coursing through my veins could be classified as stage IV rapids. Here's hoping I don't stagnate!

I've been home now for 2 weeks today. I think I'm settling into a routine (although I'm not sure if that is relieving or upsetting). I'm working at the shop while waiting for my substitute license to go through. I'm trying to fill out these packets but they sure don't make them easy. I'm rolling and tumbling into adulthood, mostly unprepared. Stressed to leverage my paycheck with my bills. I'm most likely taking a knitting class, and the Wilton cake decorating classes. and hopefully applying to ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that opens. My days are full, but I don't feel like I'm doing much-i spend a lot of my time trying to help mom out around the house. Emily and I demolished a good 60lbs of invasive grassed (oh quantifiables) out of the garden on a search and rescue mission for any surviving tomato or pepper plants. I've started processing these things for salsa.  The apples are looking good, applesauce will be happening shortly I imagine.  I have yet to play any tennis but it's on the agenda.

Life is weird. This transition is weird. I wish Erin had created a schedule for me, and there was a date when I would leave but there is not. I'm in one constant interim project between Americorps and life. What to do...what to do...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where in the world is Kristina Raine?


Alright, I've failed again and have completely not posted in two months. Oops. The end of catalina brought lots of joy when it meant we were going to alaska! I got to go home for Easter and finally meet new baby. It felt so good to be home. The conservancy continued to be amazing and had the best going away part and prezzies ever. Transition was all a blur. Paula was gone and my estrangement from every other TL increased. But then we went to alaska.

I haven't been able to gush to the ameri world as much as id like but I can't believe it. On top of the idea that im finally in alaska...a dream I've had since my elementary best friend visited her aunt in Juneau, ak project is kinda like a prize. Its a once a year project and then we went from catalina to alaska...something I was solo sure wouldn't happen.

Anchorage is a little different than id is a city but very spread out and lacking a lot of "big city" thing found in the conninental states. However we're surrounded by mtns, its chilly weather (love it) and the wildlife is great. Now I say that but I've still really only see two moose. Its calving season so both these fellows were 1 or 2 and had been pushed away from their mommas. I wanna see one with a great rack! (Haha) That should change this weekend though, the team is going to edward and im dropping a chunk of.change to see puffins whales etc. Then the next weekend im headed to denali where hopefully ill see some dahl sheep and a bear. We did go camping once already by portage glacier. So weird to see this phenom for real life. It was so cold and such a pretty blue.

I also love my job. The team is split between four clubs and an outdoor program. The four are very different. Im at woodland park with stephanie. Its pretty chill here...the kids can get crazy and we have a.few hooligans but mostly nice kids in need of attention. the admin offices are also here and our club manager is AWESOME. We hang out with her whenever we can. Jenna and matt are at north east which is in a more low income area with a more diverse group of kids. Second rowdiest of the four. Last weekend there was a car fire jenna helped put out and rescue a dog from. Somehow a door was left unlocked into the community center and the club doors were broken down and four new mac computers and xbox and money was stolen. Rumor is it was a kid. How terrible! Ron billy and lauren are at the most diverse and most.urban club called mountainview. They love it. Billy is running a drum program, there's a music studio (with recording and writing equipment). Ron and lauren play a ton of bball. They have a ton of kids they adore. Krista Brittany and kyle are at eagle river the most organized well behaved club. They are actually in a suburb of anchorage with middle income military families. They love I and are glad to be immersed in the organization. We started working almost 11 hour days and were barely functioning. Now were down to 8. We don't start work til 11 but aren't getting done and home until 630. Eagle river however works earlier in the day. Tonight were going to a dinner theater to see source code. Should be fun.

Im 45 days until the end. Its kinda weird but needed. No matter how much I love the project and the place im ready to go home. Well my road trip first. It will be so good to see gold one. I miss them all soo much. And to be done being in charge and on and appropriate all the time will be great!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

here i island in the sun

Well, as normal, it has been quite a while since I have even written. It may not seem long to all. For most people it has only been a month; you’re pry still at school, still in the same classes, or still at the same job, doing the same thing. Small things have maybe changed like casual romances, offices, furniture arrangements etc. Maybe some large things have changed; you have legally adopted two beautiful blonde children (like my parents), moved houses, or states. However, in NCCC life changes much more drastically in such a short time. Since my last post I have pretty much survived an entire round in North Bend, Washington working with Mountains to Sound. It was not nearly as cold and as rainy as we had anticipated but we still wore 6 layers almost everyday (including our rain gear). We finally made it out of ‘restoration’ (which means weeding) and onto trail work. We nicknamed our WCC crews and watched a few trees fall. We survived mud fights, snowball fights, a blizzard and finally chained up during a ridiculous west coast snow storm and headed back to Sacramento. I wish, as always, I had been more diligent to you and penned you the awesome things as they happened. But I did not.

After Washington Gold 6 spent a week and two weekends in Sacramento. For the first weekend, I decided to head down to Los Angeles to see none other than Sophie Putka…however this plan turned into the worst weekend EVER. In three days I drove from Seattle to Los Angeles (a lot). The first night in LA I just hung out with Sophie and had a great time, the next day she went to run some errands and I stayed home…starting to feel kinda weird. We tried to do dinner at the cheesecake factory where I vomited in the bathroom…twice. I made Sophie drive me back to the dorms (puking in a triscuits box on the way) where we paralled into a spot and my key got stuck in the ignition. Apparently the Cobalt has a recall issue in the steering column and gear shift and it locks the key in the ignition…with the car on. We had to get my car towed late Saturday and I had to leave it in LA over the week. I had to take a greyhound back to Sacramento on Sunday, still sick. I then spent the week transitioning only to have to take a greyhound BACK to Los Angeles on the next Saturday and then drive back to Sacramento. I was unable to really spend any time with TLs and spent about $300 I didn’t have. However, the car repair was free! Yay!

This leads me to where I am presently. My Unit Leader gifted Gold 6 with a project comparable to Hawaii. Out my tent flaps is the Pacific Ocean, next to me tent are some ‘mountains’ potentially some meandering bison, a ton of squirrels and a lot of pretty birds. I’m on an island 22 miles from Long Beach; for anyone in PacReg you know I’m on Catalina Island. We got here last Wednesday and have enjoyed almost a full week here in the SoCal Island weather. Most everyone survived their base layer of sunburn and no one has died of dehydration (but I REALLY need to stop drinking soda and drink MORE water). No one has been gored by bison, bitten by a rattlesnake (which there is ACTUALLY no working antivenom for this breed EEEK) or fallen into the ocean. The sunsets and sunrises are to die for and everyday I can’t help but look around and marvel at the idea that I’m actually here. What a gift this project is!

We’re doing environmental work again (tough for my motivation) but the staff and islanders are absolutely amazing. Town is hysterical because everyone drives around in golf carts and knows everyone. On the weekends we stay at a teen center/church and help serve breakfast on Sundays. While my faith has lapsed, and depending on whom you ask is somewhat questionable, I definitely feel more at home here with Dan and his wife Kris in the basement of a teen center than in a lot of places I’ve been recently. Also there is an industrial kitchen…WIN!

Camp isn’t really camping. There are two canvas sided tents, propane powered grill, fridge and burners. There is running water and an OUTDOOR SHOWER! Yay! It’s really beautiful here.

The team is great too. Kyle and I play scrabble at least once a week; Krista, Stephanie and I usually work together; Ron, Billy, Jenna and Matt are usually found at the horseshoes; Lauren is pranking anyone she can and her singing/giggling can be heard everywhere; Katie is training for a marathon and Brittany remains as relaxed and complacent as usual (often the brunt of Laurens pranks haha). Transition is definitely a reminder of how lucky I am to be the team leader of this group of people. I am one of a handful of TLs who haven’t lost or gained anyone. CMs are dropping like flies…and TLs seem to be disappearing too. I have five more months left of my NCCC career and I’m glad two of those are here.

I am pretty anxious to get home though. On Thursday of last week my whole family headed to court to FINALLY legally adopt Travis and Tori. For just shy of a year now, my life has been blessed by this pair. They were placed in our home as foster kids last march; when I went home in the spring I completely fell in love and bonded with Travis. Although I’ve really only physically been in their lives for less then two months my family does such a fabulous job of keeping us in touch. And thanks to one of my CMs I’ve recently been able to SKYPE them. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it is to get on the computer and see their little faces. We sing, and make funny faces and count down the days till I come home. He and his lack of time-awareness things it’s soon; I know the truth…which is absolutely heart wrenching most days. I love it here but I’m ready to be home with my family.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

6 Months later

From the street you can see the garden, the steps, the fences and the bare trees. This is much different than the dense greenery which I trampled through everyday while working in the Danny Woo Community Garden.  Monday Grold 65 was deposited in Seattle's International District, specifically in the Danny Woo Garden.  This was so all teammembers could gather before departure and have a set pick up location. I practically sprinted up the steps to see the chickens and the garden. So many memories came flooding back. There was trash, used condomns and syringes (all the things we moved everymorning) but at the top of the stairs was a brightly colored sign and rainbows and poultry palace.  There were chickens! Our chickens! It turns out Tracy was in fact a rooster and is no longer living in the palace...I'd like to think (s)he's off on a farm somewhere with lots of pretty hens...unfortunately I doubt this. Mary Tyler Moore was no where in sight but Pigeon Chicken, Scarlet, Barack, BB, Evian, etc were pecking around. They rushed to the gate when I walked up and I wished I had the key. I obviously bored the CMs who were with me with Danny Woo facts. Most of the plant identification signs were still up, our rainbows were still snugly in the dirt, the pieces wood and rocks the kids painted were still there. I swear if I just closed my eyes the weather would have transformed from hazy to sunny; Minna would run up to me holding Pocky: I could hear Yasha sharpening the Machetes, Stephen building the compost sifter (which is still there), Sara and JFB running around with the kids and the chickens, Eric and Sophie digging holes and Iman just insisted on painting the rocks. I sat nostaligically on the worm bin for a few minutes and caught all sorts of subtle hints of my existence in this garden. There was a long piece of mulch which had been dipped in bright green paint (a mixing stick), there was a rock with a blue brush stroke and a green stripe (which I stole and took home) and lots of love.

Earlier that day, due to van reasons (see a lesson in flexibility) Katie and I had to travel into Burien. Where I lived fourth round! I cried like a baby all the way there. I knew how to guide her there without the GPS, and then suddently there I was...sitting at KCs eating a club and using their wifi, walking to the apt, walking down the alley, tripping over shopping carts and staring at flapjacks. There is aboslutely no signal that a rove of nine gypsies made Cascade Vista their home. If it wasn't for the burning images and memories in my would be like it never happened.

Friday, January 14, 2011

..and then the rain came.

So our first day of work was pretty simple. We were pounding rebar into the ground, pulling it out and putting in Willow Stakes. This helps with all sorts of erosion in the flood plane. Because there were only 1500 stakes, and also our first times together we spent a lot of time playing. There was one group who was doing blackberry removal (this is painful and dirty) so whenever we rotated groups, the group who did blackberry lost a "game." We played rock, paper scissors and then the team played kickball, while Laura, Deverton (the WCC lead) and I had a business playing golf. They dug a hole in the dirt and flagged it, then used the tennis ball as a golf ball. It was a lot of fun. Aren't I cute?

Then there was a snow day!!! We got too much snow on wednesday to get out of the Valley! Unfortunately it was pretty lame. Since then, Gold six has been fighting the urge to mudslide all day at work. Wednesday we had a snow day and then the rest of the week it's been raining. As we drove up to the site on Thursday, and the windshield wipers squeecked quickly to keep up with the rain I just thoguht about how happy it was raining. I love working in the rain. I love the way it feels on my face, and the temperature difference of it vs my skin. I also love the mud. I love being dirty. We were still pounding in rebar for willows but this time it was in shin deep water and in the rain. We continued to play games during the day, some groups removed invasives. The work has just gotten better. The team has been so great. The sponsors are awesome. And its been raining! It's just been getting muddier and muddier. Tomorrow we're leading volunteers in some tree planting.
Sorry this was so short but trust me I'm happy. I love Washington.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Yours, Mine and Ours

As my roommate and I try to figure out the logistical nightmare of merging two families into our one very non-traditional 22 person zoo, the team seems to be rather content. Yesterday, we pulled into Valley Camp to meet Teena, Tom and their four dogs. They are incredibly kind and considerate. They showed us our way into the house. It was raining but hey, this was at least expected. In the NCCC world, you learn to understand even if the forecast is bad, if it stays true its a bonus! Anything that turns out the way it was foreshadowed is welcome. While Laura and I did a quick run through of the house and rooms our twenty "children" carried all of their belongings inside and just piled them on the floor. As I stared at the mountains comparable to Rainier of our things, I wondered how we got it and 22 people into only two vans.

Teena and Tom came out shortly after to give us some camp vitals. I again cannot even begin to tell you how kind they are - willing to give us whatever it is we need and honestly very excited to have us. SEveral times they told us they liked 'noise" so to play and have fun as much as we wanted. WHAT A RELIEF! Gold 6 is nothing if not boisterous. While they were talking the Washington Conservation Corps groups we'll be working with showed up and were soon followed by Ty, our sponsor. The teams introduced themselves and gave us some warm weather tips (mostly regarding hands...which is my biggest fear. I am a BIG FAT BABY about cold fingers). They left after about a half hour. I can't lie, I was a little nervous at how overwhelmed Grold 65 (gold six and green 5) would be after being in the van for 2 days and then swarmed by another 15 people. They were great though. They got an hour to unpack and play before the team meeting.

Two of my CMs came running down the stairs and bolted out the backdoor because they just wanted to play; I quickly shouted after them "theres balls in the closet" and ten fishetd out some balls and a whiffle ball bat." They batted some snowballs around for a while in the backyard. Most everyone else nested into their bunk beds, while I nested into the kitchen.

One of the things we discussed at the team meeting was assigning everyone a "hook." I am somehow really in love with all their parka's hanging up on their pegs. Its no longer a "dorm" its a home!

After the team meetings, we went to Tweeds Cafe which I guess is rather famous thanks to "twin peaks" a tv show which was filmed in North Bend and featured the cafe a lot. Their burger selection was amazing! We took the kids home and Laura and I ventured into town. It was raining as we left town and as we got closer to our exit and then finally into our camp the rain turned to hail and then to snow. As Laura and I drove into Issaquah to go to Fred Meyer we decided we'd grocery shop in Issaquah too to avoid driving more than we had to. The rain was now mostly snow until we actually got half way to Issaquah and then it turned back into snow. I'm not really a nervous driver and I've been driving in snow/rain/slush/wind/storms since I started driving (thanks Iowa!) but I was definitely a little nervous with Betty our 15p (you remember the ditch incident right?).  We go to Fred Meyer and was shocked. It was huge and clean compared to the one in Burien. We got a little excited and then went to grocery shopping/personal shopping. For 22 people for 3 days we were budgeted about $300.  Our teams have very different food habits and likes and Laura and I do too. However, I think we managed to compromise and everyone hopefully won! On our way home the snow picked up again half way back to North Bend and Laura and I started discussing the possible need for chains. Now, I have put chains on before BUT i have put on chains that you drive over...these were not those. My VST (the CM repsonsible for van and tool safety) was teaching us the NEXT day about putting on chains. Well there was no way we were getting up to camp without them, so in the the rain/sleet/snow and about two inches of slush we learned and put on tire chans and drove expertly back to camp, where almost everyone was asleep...thanks for helping carrying in groceries guys lol.

Today our sponsor came and took us on a driving tour around the area, including Issaquah falls. As most things are going to be this round we had to stop for pictures of Green 5, Gold 6 and Grold 65. I'm so excited for this project. Its interesting how much the location affects how I feel. I am not highly motivated by environmental projects but I am IN LOVE with their housing. Camping in Malibu and now living here. I love being outside and i love hiking and all the snow and pretty much everything but the actual work. Since we got here and it snowed, I've been all grins. This is going to be so great!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Hello North Bend

Well, It seems that I have yet again, neglected to write in quite sometime. I always have things I want to say and somehow just get too exhausted to actually write them...hmm I wonder why.

Gold Six finished out round one strong. There was some Site Sponsor drama but that is bound to happen no matter what and my team handle it extremely well. We then had to survive transition. I could only remember how much I loathed transition last year. It seemed to be full of people whom I realized throughout the round, I didn't really care about, or they didn't really care about me and transition was just a game of avoidance and survival. As a TL it's not much different but the relationships are fewer and the work load is MUCH higher. I felt like I was running around with my head cut off but we survived and I finally got to fly home on December 18. I have never been so happy to be headed back to Des Moines. The full day of travel was excruciating as I anticipated landing and the babies waking me up in the morning.

The first week of Christmas break was filled with all sorts of family things and mom reteaching me how to vacation. I worked for approximately 6 hours. This is the most consecutive days off I've had since high school. It was so weird. I literally had to be retrained into relaxing. Lucky for me my house is very comfortable and small blonde children were around to keep me busy. We went to the Leonardi DiVinci Exhibit which was amazing. We say Jolly Holliday Lights, which was fun. I hate way too much food and had Christmas. I got a Nook! I was very happy but all of the christmas gifts were overshadowed by the arrival of Sara and Iman!

 We went sledding, out to eat, played sega genesis and scrabble. In true Go1d fashion we just sat around and talked, laughed and made fun of each other. I haven't seen Iman since the beginning of July and Sara since the end of July. I nearly cried when they pulled into the driveway. It was so easy to fall back into Go1D comfort and happiness of all last year. When they left, I was definitely depressed but I am going to strive to hold onto that happiness. I feel like I am lacking these sorts of connections this year. I've been pining for last year intrinsically a ton. New orleans, Malibu, St Bernard, Burien. Just feeling, accepted, connected and like I belong. I have a much more minute sense of that this year. I miss it.

Going back to campus was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I realized that as much as I LOVE this program, I also am getting tired of living out of a suitcase. My family is making some big changes and I should be there for these. I just have to wait go home til August now. SHUCKS!

We transitioned our way through the first three days and today Gold Six and Green five left McClellan (finally!) for our one night stay in Eugene and then onto North Bend. Laura (green five TL and my roomie) and I had an EPIC meeting tonight trying to orchestrate the logistics of merging our two teams, our two units, our two leadership styles and twenty two personalities. Not to mention we have a TON of matching names. We have Lauren, Lauren and Laura, Krista, Kristin and Kristina, Lauren and Lauren, Steph S and Steph S, Brittany and Brytnie.  This is going to be a rather EPIC game of "yours mine and ours" this entire round.

I am very excited about this opportunity to pick up learning styles and connections but I kind of just want my team alone and bonding. I feel like I'm still going to be left out. Working on becoming Ms. Independent I guess.