I’ve gone bird watching in Iowa, among other things

Right now I am in Storm Lake, Iowa. Learning great truths and experiencing deep personal growth and doing some bird watching while I’m at it.

Or at least I assume I am. As I write this I am still at home. Such is the wonder of the WordPress scheduling tool.

A few months ago I hinted at this Storm Lake trip, way back when I told you about a birding class I signed up for. It’s part of “Synod School” – a week-long event offering both educational and recreational activities for Presbyterians in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

I’m showing you this I don’t have to explain what the Synod is. (It’s from their website.)

Just imagine: a whole week with Presbyterians! In Iowa! (I bet you’re burning with envy right now.)

I don’t always tag along with Husband on church-related trips, but there was a reason I agreed to this time. Namely, I thought we’d tango.

One of the courses was “Beginning Ballroom Dancing.” Husband said if I went, we could take the class together. Now how could I pass that up?Shall we danceAlas, it was not to be.

Due to professional obligations, Husband had to attend a different class that, sadly, conflicted with the dance class. And beings how I didn’t want to tango alone – or with a stranger – and beings how I already asked for the time off, I selected some other classes. I could do up to four, and I decided to make two of them serious and the others just-for-fun.

These are the four I’m taking:

1) Robins, Raptors and Ducks: This is the one I told you about. We’re instructed to bring a pair of binoculars and a journal to write in. On two of the days we’re going to NW Iowa Watchable Wildlife areas to “test our skills.” I’ll let you know how that works out.
(No, I haven’t bought a pith helmet… yet.)

2) Mark and Radical Discipleship: One of my serious classes – it was the radical part that appealed to me. The course description read, “We will explore the timeless issues of poverty, gender, justice, liberation, equality, etc., using the Gospel of Mark as a guide.” If the class turns out radical enough, I’ll let you know.

3) The Letter from Birmingham Jail as a Confessional Statement: My other serious class, I feel it requires an explanation. You see, the Presbyterians have a constitution. It’s made up of two books: The Book of Order and the Book of Confessions. The Book of Order has all kinds of policies and procedures of how things are done or not done in the church, and this book changes a lot. The Book of Confessions is filled with statements of faith, such as the Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed, among others. This book never changes. Meaning once something is added, it’s never removed. Therefore, adding something to it is a Big. Hairy. Deal.
Right now there’s a movement afoot to add Dr. King’s Birmingham Jail letter. That’s what this class is covering and I thought it sounded intriguing. I’ll let you know what I find out.

4) The Enneagram for Soul Strength: Maybe it sounds odd, but I chose this as a “just-for-fun” class. If you know what the Enneagram is – no worries if you don’t – it’s kind of like a personality test that assigns you a number. The instructor emailed ahead of time with some links for taking the test and to be honest, when I saw that she emailed all 27 participants without using bcc and that her note was written in Comic Sans, I judged her. And then when three people responded saying, “looking forward to it” using reply all?!
I judged them, too.
And then I wondered if this wasn’t some kind of clever ruse on the part of the instructor to test our personalities.
Anyway, I took the test and found out I’m a 5. And then I looked up some other tests online and took them too. They all said I was a 5. And then I read something that said of all the Enneagram types, the 5 is the most likely to take the test over and over again to make sure they’re getting the right information.
So, yeah. Guess I’m a 5.

There’s supposed to be a number of evening activities during the week as well, one of which is a “Synod School Dance.” (Maybe we’ll pick up some tango tips?) All of this is taking place at Buena Vista University – a Presbyterian college right next to the lake. Husband and I will be sharing a dorm room. (No kidding.)

In short, I shouldn’t have any trouble finding things to write about. I’m taking along my laptop and tablet and I’m hoping there’ll be plenty of time for this writing and also for keeping up with my blogger buddies. Heck, maybe I’ll even draw a bird or two. Who knows?

So until next week, this is me in Iowa (not really but yeah) saying: Keep it real, keep it interesting, and keep on dancing. 🕺🏾

Gotta Cure My Post-NYC Blues

Phoenix skylineWe took the light rail to downtown Phoenix last Saturday. No event to attend, nothing we needed to do, no particular sight we wanted to see. We were simply conducting an experiment.

If it took us between 50 to 60 minutes to travel from our Airbnb in Queens to Manhattan, and once there we never lacked for interesting things to do, and after doing said things, we never lacked for good things to eat, we intended to find:

  1. Is the Phoenix Light Rail an efficient and reliable form of transportation for reaching our downtown area?
  2. Is there an interesting assortment of things to do in downtown Phoenix, enough to settle my post-NYC trip blues?
  3. Can we find an eatery with not only good food, but in an interesting building with charming atmosphere like every, single, flippin’ place we ate at in Manhattan?

Here’s what we found:

Continue reading “Gotta Cure My Post-NYC Blues”