Monday, March 13, 2006

A Couple Busy Months

January and February were busy months for me. Writing a grant for the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation started the process in early January. February and early March were dedicated to editing my last issue of the International Dutch Oven Society's Dutch Oven News.

The event that had the greatest impact on me is is a new job. After 12 years at the same desk, I've changed careers. I've worked in large institutional kitchens for the most of the past 35 years. I now evaluate the budget for a large government program.

On February 1, I boarded the commuter bus for the first time in 20 years and headed to downtown Sacramento. I've had long commutes before. But this is the first time since my college days that I'm able to relax during the commute.

Working on the grant application for the California Cultural and Historic Endowment. I'm in the research room of the El Dorado County Historical Museum.

The bus gives me plenty of time to read, write and sleep. Reclining seats with headrests allow for plenty of relaxation. I use the time to search the scriptures, read railroad books and design a newsletter for the railroad.

Long hours on the road leave little time for cooking. For the first few weeks in February, I left home before sunrise. And the sun set long before six. Most home meals are simple and we've been eating out too much -- it's just too hard on the pocket book!

Grant writing -- a new adventure
Last January, I wrote a grant to fund with the president and vice-president of the railroad. Our goal is to acquire funding to bring the boiler of the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive up to federal standards. We dedicated some 75 hours to the project.

Now that tourist railroads fall under the watchful eye of the Federal Railroad Administration, we must recertify the boiler -- this time to a higher standard than those of California. Our 1997 certificate to operate the boiler (a "pressure vessel unit") doesn't meet federal standards.

There's still time for cooking. Only now the venue has changed to the engine house.

Our hope is that the grant will supply critical funding to acquire the certificate. Skilled volunteers will perform most of the in-kind work. We'll use the dollars to purchase services and supplies that the Foundation can't provide.

With any grant, you must find the balance between writing to your audience -- those who read the applications and give the thumbs up or down -- and describing our needs. We were pleased to read that round-one grants from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment were awarded to 33 California orgnaiztions. Among them: the Bay Area Electric Railroad railroad and five museums.

Now comes the waiting game. We won't hear if we made the first cut until this spring. And the final decision won't be published until this summer. More to come.

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