Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Hello all! Well it’s been a while since I’ve written (this is Cat by the way). It has been a week since we returned from New Windsor, MD after 3 weeks of BVS orientation. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that those 3 weeks are over and that yes, I am sitting at my desk in the office writing this blog post about the 28 wonderful people I met and who are a part of the gemeinschaft (community) of Unit 295. We had a lot of laughs as we learned and weaved through each other’s lives to understand all the differences and similarities among us that made our group unique and beautiful. And of course there were the moments where we would all get down in the dirt and work together to prepare for our year, or years for some, of service.

On one particularly fine sunny day we were leaving the Arlington Church of the Brethren to spend a day on Clagett Farm. Clagett Farm is responsible for growing produce for DC inner city projects such as the Capital Area Food Bank. When we arrived at the farm we all did some stretching as we awaited instruction on what we’d be doing. We then walked to arrive at a field and learned that we would in fact be harvesting sweet potatoes.

A word about harvesting sweet potatoes: it ain’t easy. First you find the vine that could be sometimes 5 ft in length; trace it back to the plant; use a pitchfork to loosen the dirt without spearing the potatoes; and then yank those potatoes right out of the ground. We all broke into teams of about 2 or 3: one person to ‘hunt’ for potatoes, one person to pitchfork it, and one person to carry the very heavy containers filled with the finds. As we worked it was obvious some were better at jobs than others. For example, I found myself on my hands and knees in the dirt trying to distinguish between the vines and weeds without much luck. And then there was Rachel who was like the potato whisperer and found potato clusters every few minutes. I eventually became pitchfork girl: when someone needed some dirt dug they called me over and I dug till I hit potato.

While we worked, one of the German volunteers kept saying, “Awesome!” every time we found potatoes. He asked us what other expressions he could say in addition to ‘awesome’ and being a fan of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, I taught him to say ‘cowabunga’. So for the rest of our digging time together if we found potatoes, he would yell, “Cowabunga!” with a German accent that made it sound so much cooler.

We finished off the day and as we walked back to the vans covered in dirt and some rotten potato parts, I couldn’t help but feel that our community had grown even closer. Because, really there’s no way to bond better than by sweating together and learning a valuable lesson for our time in BVS: just as there are good potatoes and rotten potatoes, there will be the good days and the bad days. But as long as we remember that we have each other to help ‘dig’, we will have a more than bountiful harvest.



Monday, October 10, 2011

When the cat is away... the mice will play.

Jeremy, Don, Cat and Rachel are all at Orientation which leaves Virginia (an honorary house member) and I to hold down the fort. I know that they are all having a great time in Maryland as they work and grow.

So things back in Elgin are a little slower paced. I am still having a hard time being in the same place, and not living out of a suitcase is just weird to me. I have been working the same amount, but this week it just seemed like longer, harder days but that was for a variety of reasons.

With all my free time I have been doing a variety of things; including watching movies, hanging out with friends, baking, and going out to help colleagues. Friends and colleagues have been great about inviting me over for various activities, which has also been really great. This past weekend I was also able to go home and help my younger sister purchase a dress for the upcoming homecoming dance.

Apple Muffins
Saute your apples with some liquid, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Then once the apples are soft, mix into your favorite muffin mixture. 

Raspberry-Pear Tart
Find your favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe and make as instructed.
Rather than making individual cookies, make one big cookie on a round cookie sheet, bake for about 20 minutes.

While this is baking, in a skillet saute sliced pears and whole raspberries with vanilla, apple juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

When the cookie has baked for 20 minutes, then add the berry mixture onto the top. Put it back in the oven and let it bake another 5 or 10 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream :)  

  • No Impact Man - Carbon Book for CCS
  • Farewell my Subaru - Carbon Book for CCS
  • Counseling Troubled Youth - book for the future :) 
  • Harry Potter (1) - I have not read it yet, don't judge
  • Take This Bread - reading this with the Sunday School Class

(I am not making a recommendation by any means, this is just what I have been watching.)

  • No Impact Man - I actually watched this for work. Our CCS theme is about how we can help with the carbon problem. 
  • New in Town
  • Becoming Jane
  • 500 Days of Summer
  • The Curse of the Pink Panther 
  • Remember the Titans
  • A Very Potter Musical