Monday, June 30, 2008

I Hate Politics

This is the season that people like me dread. In which we avoid the break room at all cost and try to think of catch phrases to answer nosy political questions. I hate politics, and what I hate more than politics is discussing politics.

Luckily, I've been enhancing my life lately by taking self-discovery quizzes on Facebook. And I've discovered (by answering "maybe" to every question on a politics quiz) a catchy new label for people like me who just can't decide on any issues: Centrists. Yes, I'm a centrist. How very open-minded and balanced of me.

For other righteous centrists like me, here's a video to help you weather these trying times.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Weekend in Pictures

I'm not usually very social on the weekends, but Mike and I had a whirlwind weekend, so I thought I'd post our pics from this weekend to fool you into thinking we're always this cool and dynamic. So here is our weekend in pictures: We went to the Serenity Springs Cat Resort (or something like that) in Calhan, CO with the Ahearns for Bryan's b-day gift. Here's a tiger showing how big he is.

Then we had a picnic at the Paint Mines, where the Ahearns painted themselves many colors with the colored dirt.

Then I went salsa dancing with peeps from work. (That is not, in fact, me salsa dancing, but getting ready to go.) Now you know how the magic happens.

Then on Sunday we went to Solitaire and James' wedding, where Irish car bombs, of course, were involved.

Then I looked down my nose at Jen Flint, as usual.

And I met up with old friends, like Kyle and Shanny Bananny.
A good time was had by all.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Robot Love Made Me Cry

We just saw WALL-E, and it was good. Kind of an absurd, cuddly post-apocolyptic Brave New World. The plot was solid. It could totally be discussed in a film or lit class. The writers/director made really good choices about where they took it and where they didn't. They didn't kill any of their jokes or overdo it. They didn't try to smush any message in your face, though there were clearly underlying themes. It was clever, thougthful, funny, and I was in love with both robots at the end of the movie to the point of tears. And the credits were smart and beautiful.

So I think we should monetarily support this movie. Once the rest of you have seen it, let's chat about it. I won't ruin it for you by talking more here.

Eating Diva
I put my diva in the closet for the winter, not living up to my Party Diva title, so I've felt very insecure in interviews when they call me a party diva. So I've been diva-ing it back up this week with cooking.

Mike and I rolled out Spinach Ravioli with our leftover pasta dough. First time we've made ravioli, and it was pretty good, though we should have rolled the dough out thinner. We filled it with a mix of feta, parmesan, mozarella, cilantro pesto, and shredded chicken. Then we topped it with olive oil and red pepper flakes. Mmmm...
Then for a snack I made Vanilla Sorbet, and I swear this only took 10 minutes. I don't know if it's ice cream or sorbet or what, because I didn't put any eggs in. But it was fresh and summery and lower calorie than ice cream.

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup 1% milk
1 fresh vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey (don't know why, just felt like throwing honey in)
sugar, to taste
I whipped together the milk, ice cream, vanilla extract, and honey, and scraped in the innards of one vanilla bean. Then I dumped in sugar till it was sweet enough. Then churned through the ice cream machine. Very rich and vanilla-y. Yum.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Do Rappers Ever Get Bored of Singing About Sex?

I know I've been getting all domestic on you lately, so I thought I should talk about something provocative. Like sex. And rappers.

Honestly. What's with rappers? Mike and I are driving down the road on Friday, you know, jammin' it out as we travel to Estes. We're driving through my old 'hood at 1-25 and Arapahoe, so we turn to 107.5 to get down.

Seriously. Are these your lyrics? Is this really all you've got? I want to think you have hidden depths, but you're sure not giving any hints. I can't even exaggerate your lyrics, because they're so ridiculous to begin with, they just can't get any worse. How do you mock something this bad:
You give me the business.
You give me the business.
You give me the business.
You give me the business.

Then I'ma give the business to you. Oooh ooh ooh.
Yeah, I'ma give the business to you.

Really? Really? I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume there are some thoughtful, meaningful lyrics to your other songs. You know, maybe you could throw in a song about how your father's abandonment really affected your self esteem. Or maybe about how life is confusing and hard for a rapper. But upon looking closer at your artistic portfolio, these above lyrics really are quite poetic and meaningful and tame in comparison.

It's really quite smart. The return upon time invested as a rap lyricist really must be incredible. Just throw a couple "throw ya hands up in da air" and a couple "business" offers and a couple violent threats, and you can be off enjoying your meaningful rapper life. (I thought that the "throw ya hands up in da air" would be dead by now. I mean, you were doing that when I was in high school. We're still throwing our hands up? You still really feel compelled to say that in every song? Can't we think of another move for the dance floor?)

Now Back to Domestic Amber Since I've Been Provocative Enough:
We made Homemade Spinach Pasta tonight using our plethora of spinach and mixed it with the rest of the Cilantro Lime Pesto we made. And we didn't destroy it like the last time I tried to make pasta. Delicious!


Since I had extra egg whites, I thought I'd make Cherry Almond Meringues. I was so excited for them. I pureed almonds and cherries together for a delicious almond paste. Then I added my paste to the meringue....

And look what it made:
Mmmm....Burnt Egg White Soup. You want some? I have lots and lots left if you want me to mail you some.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Malt Shop

Friday was a black day.

We were driving blissfully through Estes Park, on our way to the cabin, deciding when we might make our obligatory trip or two to the Malt Shop, a must on any trip to Estes.

After we turned past the tacky Indian Village shop and our car waded through the waves of tourists in Colorado Rockies Tees, I turned my head over my shoulder, as I always do, to peek into the always open door of the Malt Shop.

It was gone. The old pastel sign was gone. The door was closed. And a familiar Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory sign was hanging in its place.

Now I'm fine with the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. It's far less depressing than a Coldstone or a Krispy Kreme. But there is already a Chocolate Factory next to McD's. Why'd they have to take my Malt Shop?

The Malt Shop had old wire chairs with red plastic seats. It's walls were papered with vintage Coca Cola wallpaper. It had a soda bar, complete with a marble countertop, swively stools, and an old cash register. The ice cream was Blue Bunny, but you can't win 'em all.

They made apple pie shakes, something so beautiful I included the recipe in my book. They would blend a big piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream. (That's me eating one blissfully below last summer.)


We visited the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Saturday. As a nod to their beloved predecessor, they left the Apple Pie Shake on the menu. But it's $6.25. I got a chocolate suicide malt. It was delicious. But gone were the barstools and Cola signs and old wire furniture, so we ate it outside by the river. I'll miss my Malt Shop.

Tonight we made fresh Cilantro Lime Pesto with more of our freshy fresh farm ingredients. It made a delicious chicken sandwich. I love summer. I love summer food. I'll try not to go on and on about food all summer.
I'm eating more rhubarb than I ever have: 3 days in a row. Tonight I made rhubarb lime ice cream. It was tasty and super tart. Here's what I did (I only had enough to make 1 serving, and please excuse the craptacular photography) :

Rhubarb Lime Ice Cream

2 stalks rhubarb, chopped
1/8 cup water
2 teaspoons lime juice
Simmer all these together until the rhubarb is falling apart. Then mash and cool. Then whip together:
1/8 cup cream
1/8 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Then freeze all together, periodically stirring to make smooth.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bra in My Ballast

I'm tired (I had 4 interviews today, one with the Washington Times!), so instead of writing, I'm going to give you a very funny video. It brings me back to my horror-filled days as an Express dressing room attendant where the fashion tyrants would tell us what color lipstick to wear and enforce thongs.

Beware, the video contains the *A* word that rhymes with ballast and means booty. So if you don't like this word, don't watch this video.


In other news, we received our second week of farm produce. So I made up a tasty rhubarb tart that is basically a cobbler topping used as a crust with a pie filling on top.


Rhubarb and Cherry Almond Tart
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon corn starch
Boil all together until thick, then mix in:
1 cup chopped rhubarb
6 chopped cherries
Then mix all these ingredients together:
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
1 tablespoon melted butter
Press into the bottoms of two mini tart pans. Top with the rhubarb cherry mixture. Bake 25 minutes at 350.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Please Give Me a Free Home

Because T-Rita asked, and because I'm supposed to be writing right now, I'll post my essay for the Red Feather home essay contest here. It's not much of a sob story--I'm not a widow or a leper or a raiser of puppies for the blind, so I had to just tell the truth about why I want their home.

Please feel free to give me your constructive compliments...
(From The Office:
Michael: Attention, please. We're going to have our weekly suggestion box meeting. So, you can all get in your constructive compliments ASAP.
Ryan: Don't you mean constructive criticism?
Michael: What did I say?
Kelly: You said constructive compliments. That doesn't make any sense.
Michael: Well Kelly, that was neither constructive nor a compliment, so maybe you should stop criticizing my English and start making some suggestions.)

The Essay
As my parents drove the bumpy, winding roads on Friday nights, I would push my nose against the window, gazing at the mountain cottages with their yellow windows blinking at me in the night. I’d think (between worried glances to make sure the Big Bad Wolf wasn’t behind that pine tree there), When I grow up, I want two things: to be a writer and to live in one of those mountain homes.

Part of the Denverite exodus each weekend (forgive us for we know not what we do), we were one of the families of four driving through your woods and trying for just one day to catch that peace and beauty and wildness of the mountains we didn’t find on our wide suburban sidewalks.

And so, my heart has always been on pilgrimage, desiring to know and embrace my beloved Colorado…always wanting to peek under that log and behind that tree and over that hill. Over the backs of the Never Summers, under the mossy rocks of Grand Lake, and around the curve of the Red Feather hills.

By God’s grace I became a writer…by night. By day I walk the wide suburban sidewalks from my white apartment to my grey cubicle. (It’s not as bad as it sounds. I work for a non-profit organization that seeks to release children from poverty, honored each day to play a tiny part in its mission.) But by night I walk the paths of words. By night I walk in my thoughts to the green mountains where I, one day, will be able to live and write full time.

March was a big month for me. My second book came out, a book that, by God’s grace, will inspire others to find out about those who don’t have enough, to love those in poverty, and to act to help them. Currently, I’m writing a book that will lead small groups through learning more about the needs in this wide world and how to pray for them. Who would have believed my dream would come true? Certainly not me. What a chance, what a blessing, to use my skills and my voice to speak up for those who have no voice.

Still, the heart wanders. Still my nose is pressed against the window, waiting for that time when my night will become my day. When I’ll spend my full time using my voice, my writing, to do good. OK, it sounds cliché. But clichés were made for a reason. They resonate. They clutch at our most deeply felt desires.

One of these days, I’m going to drive away from faceless apartments and sterile suburbs. I’m going to drive to a community. A simple place with neighbors who wave as you pass on the dirt road. I’m going to open that car door. I’m going to stand before my mountain home with its yellow eyes blinking kindly at me, surrounded by peace and beauty and wildness. And I’m going to write.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

At Home

Mike says this photo is disgusting, but you know he loves it. I shared this photo, because it reflects how I feel in Estes: at home. From having visited there so often as a girl and having lived there for two idyllic summers and having shared so many of the above smooshy memories with Mike, it's where I feel most at peace...247 trillion tourists and all. And there's an ice cream shop every 3 steps. Clearly I was meant to live here.

When I was a little girl, we would take trips to Estes, playing putt-putt and hiking in Moraine Park. As we drove home to Denver at night, I'd press my nose against the car windows, trying to peer into the glowing windows of the mountain homes on the St. Vrain river. I vowed that one day I'd live in one of those homes.

I recently wrote an essay about this, my deepest dream of living in a mountain home, for a "win a home essay contest" in Red Feather Lakes. But I missed the deadline to apply, so my dream was crushed. But in writing this post, I just googled it to see who won...and found that they extended the deadline again, to July 14th. Should I enter? Is it fate?

Perhaps I'll post my essay here and you can all give me your comments.

Until I win a mountain home and move far, far away into the mountain deeps, here are a couple of our photos from the Estes Park trip. (I refrained from adding the 220 pictures Mike took.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Officially Smell Like Patchouli

OK, I officially smell like patchouli. Check out that dress. Would someone who didn't smell like patchouli wear that to work? (If that doesn't make sense to you, read yesterday's post. It still won't make sense, but I'll get more hits on my blog.)

Actually, I only became a writer/editor so that I can dress eccentricly. So that I can wear pashminas and gaudy jewelry and bright shoes. Then people say, "oh yeah, she's a writer." It's wild. When you're unpublished and you say you're a "writer," people assume you're some delusional no-talent dreamer. As soon as you're published, you're suddenly legitimate and authoritative. You can wear head turbans and people will want your advice on dog vaccinations and suddenly the things you say are "quotes." ("Change advocate Van Schooneveld says words, when uttered by a published author, become quotes.")

And by the way, my neck doesn't look really look like that when I eat, does it? Maybe that's why Mike always eats so fast, with his head down.

I got my copies of the Hope Lives ministry kits this week. They're real purty.

And we're continuing to eat our tasty farm produce. We made Thai lettuce wraps with cilantro lime sauce.

And look! There to the left! I added a blog roll thingy. Only none of my friends write blogs, so it's looking pretty sad. Why don't you blog? You're making me look like a nerd. I've spent the majority of 1996 to 2008 trying to prove I'm not a nerd. And now you're ruining it for me because you won't get off your lazy butt and blog.

I did include Dooce on the roll, the winner of my Fingernails That Shine Like Justice Contest. It's there to convince outsiders that I'm totally with it. Read at your own risk; I can't be blamed for any F bombs dropped on you there, but the pictures are nice. I also put an RSS Feed Thingy there to the left. I don't really know how it works, but again, trying to look totally with it.
P.S. What do you think of my new blog look. Too dark?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How Can She Handle Being So Hot, and Am I Too Old to Wear Pigtails?

How Can She Handle Being So Hot, and Am I Too Old to Wear Pigtails?

I have a coworker who is so pretty I don't understand how her head doesn't explode.

She's one of those people that, in person, you can't help but just kind of stare at her in wonder. I'm really tempted to ask her if she's ever, like, in the bathroom washing her hands; she's looking down at her sudsy hands, rubbing them together, and then glances up to check her bangs. Does she ever just look up and, upon seeing her reflection, go, "DAMN!"?

(I'm sorry for the cursing, but it's really the only phrase that's appropriate here.)

She's so pretty that sitting across from her in a meeting, I can't help but picture her with many arms, hanging as a tapestry on someone's living room wall. I can't help but picture, as she sits there modestly, the men around her like those cartoon characters who go "AaawOooGaah" while their eyeballs pop out of their heads. She's that pretty.

I hope she doesn't read this. How awkward will that be in the next meeting when she's picturing me picturing her with 4 or more arms? But maybe she'll tell me the answer to the bathroom question.

On a similar note: Am I Too Old to Wear Pigtails?

I wore pigtails to work today, which is appropriate as I'm still, "in my twenties" for three more weeks. But do I need to stop come July 12th?

Instead of looking youthful and cute, am I instead going to start to look like someone's eccentric aunt who smells like patchouli and owns a pottery wheel?

Will I be like the person Elizabeth Gilbert fears she might become in this, my favorite passage from Eat, Pray, Love (a book I don't necessarily recommend, except that she's a great writer): I had a sudden horrifying image of the woman I might become if I'm not careful: Crazy Aunt Liz. The divorcee in the muumuu with the dyed orange hair who doesn't eat dairy but smokes menthols...who reads the Tarot cards of kindergarteners and says things like, "Bring Aunty Liz another wine cooler, baby, and I'll let you wear my mood ring."

If this is who I'll slowly become if I wear pigtails past 30, please let me know, or at least pass the Menthols.

Quote of the Day
At home: There is a marked paucity of underwear in my underwear drawer. (Said by...take a leaping guess.)
At work: Did you put a chicken on my desk? (Said by two coworkers I passed in the hallway soberly discussing who put a chicken on whose desk.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rhubarb Raisin Bread Pudding

Garlic scapes and radishes and rhubarb are now tumbling from our fridge, as we made our first pick up of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share. (Here they are shown setting artfully on our bookcase.)

What's a garlic scape, you naively ask? I don't actually know. But that's why being part of a CSA is such fun--it forces you to try new and odd veggies. At our last CSA near Hygiene, I grew to love swiss chard and radishes.

Today our share was smaller, as the harvest still is early, but we got: spinach, cilantro, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, garlic scapes, radishes, celery, a vidalia onion, and rhubarb.

So I made rhubarb bread pudding using an old loaf of raisin bread. It was actually quite good--it wasn't too tart or too sweet and raisins seem to go well with rhubarb. Here's what I did:
Rhubarb and Raisin Bread Pudding
4 pieces of cinammon raisin bread, toasted and cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
couple dashes salt
couple dashes cinnamon
1 cups rhubarb, diced
Put the toasted bread cubes in the bottom of 3 buttered ramekins (or a casserole). Combine butter, milk, and cream and bring just to a boil. Pour over the bread and let sit 15 minutes. Whisk together eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and add rhubarb. Fold into the ramekins. Bake 32 minutes at 325.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Christian Catch Phrase

Old Christian Catch Phrase: God is in control.
New Christian Catch Phrase: Even if you're slowly eaten alive by lemurs, God is still with you.

Life is confusing and hard and unfair. We all know this. We don't want to know it, but we do. The current Christian catch phrase that is a catch all for comforting those on hard times is "God is in control." Having a hard time paying your bills? God is in control. Annoyed with your boyfriend? God is in control. Looking for a job? God is in control. But I'd like to propose a change of the guard.

I've experienced the catch phrasing a lot lately as Mike looks for a full-time job. And I know that people genuinely want to offer comfort which I deeply appreciate. We hear a lot, "God is in control," "it'll all happen in God's timing," "God has a plan for this." I certainly do believe God is in control--but not the way it's often meant. When people say "God is in control," generally they seem to mean "it'll all work out." You'll somehow be able to pay your bills. Your boyfriend and you will patch it up. You'll eventually find a job. But none of us can guarantee a one of those things, and God hasn't guaranteed them either.

By "God is in control," we seem to often mean, "Don't worry; God has a happy ending for you in this life." As Christians, we're so often raising the banner of Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future," a very specific promise made to the Israelites living in Babylon that after 70 years, God would bring them out of Babylon to fulfill his plan for the Israelite nation. Now we fling this promise fairly carelessly around to mean something like, "God has mapped out each step of your life, and has great things at each step. He has planned where you'll go to college, who you'll marry, what you'll eat for dinner tonight, which job offer you'll receive, and what parking space at the grocery store you'll get."

Although God is very much in control, God does not seize control. He has the reins of the world, but as far I can tell, they're loose in his hands, not because he's inattendant, but because he has allowed free will in his world. And because of this, there are princes and rulers of this age that are not God: "The whole world is under the control of the evil one," 1 John 5:19.
Sometimes we make the illogical jump that because everything is "in God's control," everything that happens is part of God's plan. This is true in one sense, but very untrue in another sense. A woman is raped. God is in control? Yes. This was part of God's will (i.e. plan)?No. I don't think so. God doesn't will evil. God allows things to happen. He allows people to rape each other. He allows people to get cancer. He allows me to choose which line I'll check out in the grocery store. But I wouldn't say that any of those things is necessarily his "plan."

What does this have to do with lemurs slowly eating me alive? I'm getting there.

Each time a person tells me, "God has a plan for your lives, you'll find a job when it's the right time," I can't help but think of those people whose stories I read each day in other countries. Sorry, but a lot of the people around the world in need aren't going to get a solution in this life time. They aren't going to find a job that pays the bills. The unjust society they're in isn't going to change in their life time. Their babies aren't going to get the health care they need. They're going to die in bonded labor. There isn't a happy ending, as such. The happy ending that is so easy to fling around in words in our American lives, is like vapor to them. The words "It'll happen in God's timing" are simply meaningless. It probably won't.

Because the happy ending isn't that it will all work out. It's not that we'll get a job or whatever else it is that we want. God hasn't promised these things, and when he talks about his "plan" and "will" in the Bible, it's never that specific.

The happy ending and the solace is that God is with us. That God's grace is sufficient for us. That no matter what happens, if we die as a slave, if we live in abonimal conditions, or if lemurs slowly eat us alive, God still loves us, is with us, and offers us his saving grace.

In Job, the epistle of pain, after the friends spout platitudes about the omnipotence of God, God shows up. After rebuking them for their presumptuous platitudes, God gives quite a speech. He makes it clear that he is Almighty over this world. But the general feeling you're left with at the end of it isn't, "ah, God is in control, it'll all be alright, the world is rosy." Not at all. It's more like: God is huge and powerful and we can't understand, fathom, or question. We can only throw ourselves at his feet, saying "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."

So, please, if you see me having a hard time, don't tell me that it'll all happen in God's timing. I won't believe you. You can tell me that whatever happens, God is still God and he is with me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fingernails That Shine Like Justice Contest

I'm taking a writing course through a journalism school this summer, and my first assignment is to answer a couple questions about myself:
  1. My favorite journalism movie
  2. My dream assignment
  3. My favorite blog

What? Journalism movie? What the heck is a "journalism movie"? Is this gonna be one of those places where we sit pretentiously around and talk about the great art of Citizen Kane? You know how I feel about that: http://cleverphrasehere.blogspot.com/2008/06/old-movies-stink.html

Luckily, I have a very serious favorite journalism movie: Newsies. It doesn't get much better than Christian Bale singing, "Open the gates and seize the day. Don't be afraid and don't delay. Nothing can break us, no one can make us give our rights away. Arise and seize the day," while doing relevés. (Somewhere out there a video exists of me and my best childhood friend, Susan, performing the entire dance routine in our pajamas.)

My dream assignment? The rest will probably say interviewing Ban Ki-moon or something smartsy like that. Mine? Easy. Finding the best donut in America or reviewing restaurants in Zanzibar. Not so smartsy (but honest).

But favorite blog? I'm sure I should say something serious and and thoughtful and Democrat. But I don't read any blogs. So would you believe I've been reading blogs for the past 3 days trying to find a favorite blog? How sad.

So my contest is this: Tell me your favorite blog.

If I steal yours and say it's my favorite blog to impress others, I'll give you a great prize. A poem about you, written by me. Don't you want that?

Why is this called the "Fingernails That Shine Like Justice Contest"? It's a little convoluted, but one of my great aspirations is to be the girl in the Cake song, "Short Skirt and Long Jacket": touring the facilities, picking up slack, with fingernails that shine like justice. And this contest is also about making me cool enough to hang out with some journalism snobs. So both are about my pretension.

And why the porcupine? He's just cute. We hung out with him at the Cheyenne Zoo on Saturday. Isn't that reason enough?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Metabo!

Worried about its notoriously obese citizens, Japan has begun mandatory waist measuring during health check-ups for those over 40. Men with waists larger than 33.5 inches will be over government limits. The Japanese have a name for their portly brethren: Metabo. The government hopes to root out and exterminate the Metabo. (OK, not really, exterminate, more like encourage to better health.)

But it seems to me like Japan is making a big mistake. Take one look at Metabo in that government poster above, with his sidekick fatty and puppy dog.

He's clearly a Super Hero.

"There's been a wave of crime on the streets of Amagasaki. Old ladies no longer feel safe walking alone at night. Children no longer play in the streets. Who can save us?"

"Metabo can!" In flies Metabo, buttons popping, with his faithful little sidekick, Chubbo, and overfed puppy, Porky.

Metabo and his gang take out the villians in a flash. A well aimed popped button at each eye has the villians on their knees. Chubbo and Metabo then make a running head start, bounce once on their bellies, launching them like fatty missiles that come bombing down on the scoundrels. They bounce right off, but the villians are flattened on impact. One, still breathing, tries to get up, but Porky puppy smothers him with his low-hanging belly.

Then Metabo, Chubbo, and Porky, all jump victoriously in the air, arms raised, and buttons popping. (That's clearly what the scene in the poster above is.)

This could be huge. Crime fighting will just be the beginning. This could be the key to Japanese world dominance. Instead of Wii Fit, Shigeru Miyamoto ought to create an (innocent seeming at first) Metabo Wii that trains the armies of rotunda among them into fatty superhero-dom.

Instead of corsetting its ample assets, Japan ought to look twice at the Fatty Promise within.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Junkies With Monkey Disease



You all know that I'm super into "the issues." Here's a video that takes a serious look at the serious issues facing us today. I suggest you watch.

(I'm new to this whole "video" thing. If that video doesn't pop up, here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLEK0UZH4cs&feature=related)

I'm going to be on Fox's morning show in Co Sprgs tomorrow for Party Divas. So I've been cooking recipes from the book to present on the show, and now I have to go find something to wear.

Michael Jonathan


Warning: This post may make you puke.

When my husband sleeps, he looks like an angel. Not the multi-eyed, crazy Ezekiel angel, the commercial cherub-type angel. Blond hair and rosy cheeks and pursed lips.

But he is also, as he would put it, full of bilious vitriolics. He reads the Onion every day, which tells you a lot. It's this dualism that I love.

And speaking of bilious vitriolics (a phrase he really did use as we took a walk to get the mail the other day), he says funny things. Like when he broached the topic of the two of us, he didn't say, "hey baby, you wanna?" He said, "I think you and I should form some sort of mutually benefically alliance." Yes, mutually beneficial alliance. Exact Words.

Our alliance has been beneficial, I reflect upon ending our fifth year of marriage. My shoulders are rubbed every night. I mean it. Every Night. Tonight he made me couscous with raisins and dates. He watches horrible reality TV to make me happy.

He's one of the most servant-minded people I know. He's never unkind to me. He never raises his voice at me. He holds his tongue when I don't hold mine. He is an overflowing dam of patience. He is Christ to me.

He's kind to puppy dogs and robins. I love that about him. He can't stand to see weaker creatures in pain. That's my test of a man--how does he treat those weaker than him? Does he dominate (i.e. put the short guy in a headlock), or does he show compassion and look to their interests? The second is Mike.

(This despite the fact that he fully plans to one day gain world dominance in a self-led autocracy, in which case all males over 6 foot will be made a slave race. He's so complex.)

He does incredible impressions. He can mimic anyone perfectly. If I do an impression of someone (which I, regrettably, do quite often), he'll repeat it after me, but 478 times better. He's like my own live-in funny box.

In short, he's the smartest, funniest, kindest, bestest, most loving, most fun, most best person I know.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dear Facebook,

Dear Facebook,
Thank you for your warm welcome to this social networking virgin. I usually prefer to wait about 5 years after it's edgy to do something, which is why I'm cordially accepting your invitation now. But being the inexperienced girl I am, I'm a bit overwhelmed by all your invites and news feeds and "wall-to-walls." There is so much I'm unsure of.

So, please, Facebook, would you answer a few etiquette questions for me?
  • Am I allowed to read other people's Wall-to-Walls? Seems a bit creepy, don't you think? But you just put it out there, like catnip for voyeurs. Should I feel guilty, or should I just bury my whiskers happily in the bowl?
  • Isn't it rude to poke people? My mother always taught me to keep my fingers to myself. I even saw someone who had been licked. You didn't mention this licking thing when I agreed to start this relationship with you, Facebook.
  • If someone asks me to be her friend, but we were never really that close to begin with, and honestly it was always really awkward anytime we talked and she had that weird thing she did with her fingers, do I have to say yes to this friendship?
  • That reminds me of something else. I didn't quite know what I was doing when I first signed up, Facebook, and you asked me so quickly to give you all my contacts, and I, unwittingly, handed them over. Now I feel bad that I'm the girl with the weird habits that some long lost "friend" is now trying to determine how badly it'll hurt my feelings if they ignore me.
  • And that new coworker, whom I asked to be my friend. I wish I could take that back. It's a bit early in the relationship, don't you think? We don't even know if we annoy each other yet and will need the privacy of the internet to vent about one another.
  • Or am I just supposed to be collecting friends like soda tabs? I've only been with you four days, and I already have more friends than the sum total of people I talked to face-to-face last month. I saw one person with 1,109 friends. They must be exhausted from all the poking and licking.
  • How often am I supposed to update my status? Honestly, Facebook, my life isn't that interesteing, but you keep asking me, and I keep answering like some silly over-eager puppy.
  • And one more thing. What's with all the pictures of the bellies on the left-hand side of my screen? Does everyone get bellies? Is this a hint? You're making me paranoid.

Thank you, Facebook, for your consideration. I look forward to a long, fulfilling relationship.
Yours,
Amber

P.S. This post is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between the characters mentioned in the post and friends living or dead is purely coincidental. (Really--I just wrote this because there are so many funny things about Facebook--not as a hint to you. :) )

Global Food Crisis in Haiti


Here's a post I wrote for Compassion's blog today:


On a side note, why didn't anyone tell me last Friday was International Donut Day? How could I have lived on this planet unaware of this momentous day for so long? As this place we call home offers no good donuts, we waited until Saturday, when we gobbled up several tasty old-fashioneds from the Donut Mill in Woodland Park in honor of The Donut.

Monday, June 9, 2008

In Brio



When I was in Kenya, I got to room with the editor of Brio, Ashley (that's her in our safari tent--oh how I want to go back!). Brio is Focus on the Family's magazine for girls and young teens, and has a section Ashley writes called "Career-Minded" that helps girls find out what they want to be when they grow up by telling about what careers women have.

So, like it or not, I'm officially career minded: http://www.briomag.com/briomagazine/briobeyond/a0007728.html

This was actually a very humbling experience for me. I can whine and moan about the ways my life isn't just right, and yet girls are going to read about my cool job and say, "I want to be like her when I grow up." (...Maybe. Or maybe they'll say, "What a big nerd. God, please don't make me be a Field Assignments Program Manager when I grow up!")

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Infinite and the Finite


Here's a prayer from a book by Arthur Bennett called Valley of Vision: Puritans' Prayers and Devotions. I thought this was a beautiful prayer, and I italicized my favorite lines.

(To the left is a picture of Mike looking finite on our hike yesterday to the top of Orme's Peak.)

THE INFINITE AND THE FINITE
THOU GREAT I AM


Fill our minds with elevation and grandeur at the thought of a Being with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,

A mighty God who, amidst the lapse of worlds, and the revolutions of empires, feels no variableness, but is glorious in immortality.

May we rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives; that, while all creatures are broken reeds, empty cisterns, fading flowers, withering grass.
He is the rock of ages, the fountain of living waters. Turn our hearts from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ.

Let us remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity for usefulness;

Give us a holy avarice to redeem the time,
to awake at every call to charity and piety,
so that we may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the gospel, show neighbourly love to all.

Let us live a life of self-distrust, dependence on thyself, mortification, crucifixion, prayer.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Reverse Misogyny

Your daily dose of Amber's rantings. Word of the day: Misandry, the hatred of men.

I consider myself to be a feminist in all of the good ways (God is the creator of the feminine) and, hopefully, none of the bad.

So it irks me to no end when we women take the social freedom we've gained in the past hundred years and clobber men over the head with it.

Mao Zedung said that women "hold up half the sky," a turning point for women in China who finally were granted recognition for their societal contribution. Twice recently, I've read or heard this metaphor used: "In China, they say women hold up half of the sky. But in America [or enter your country of choice here], we hold up all of it." (Giddy cheers from the crowd.)

The cliche of the uber-competent, dynamic woman/wife and the oafish, blunderer of a man/husband is so accepted these days in our commercials and TV shows and email forwards. Where the women wink to each other about what fools their husbands are, knowing they're the real brains of the operations. Think King of Queens with that hot, smart wifey and her portly, goofy husband. Think of those life insurance commercials where the wife dishes to the camera about her idiot husband. But what if this was reversed once again, and it was the men winking at our stupidity? Them hogging the sky? We'd call them pigs.

Why do we rejoice in the delinquency of men? And, although many men wouldn't let us have any of the sky for so long, why are we now not allowing them even a corner of the sky, elbowing them in the face as we hog it all for ourselves? We're like the archetypal abused child who goes on to beat their own children.

There are many places where women do hold up the entire sky out of necessity, women whose husbands are sluggards and no-shows, but they would tell you it's not the ideal to have the entire sky sagging down on them and certainly not cause for celebration. Yes, many men are idiots. Many men are creeps. But this is true of many women too. We just can't reduce the world to "we're good"/"they're bad."

I understand why there's this tendency; it's a natural reaction to want to "get back" at those at whose hands we were made weak, to "get out" some of those feelings. When having been treated as inferior, to now reign as superior. It's a natural trend we've seen in history over and over. Conquered wants to become conquerors.

Let's be the ones mature and self-assured enough that, now that we've been finally given the respect we deserved so long, we don't yank it out from under men. Down with misandry! God created women marvelous and intelligent and wonderful. And the same can be said for men.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Amazing Bee Caper of Miss Lynn


I have a friend whose life is rife with comedic possibilites. Whose every day seems to be an "I Love Lucy" episode.

But sadly, the doors of comedic gold are closed to me, as my friend would scrub my elbows right off with a brillo pad if I exploited her eploits for laughs.

So, for example, I can't tell you about this spice can that was recently found in her cupboard. But if I could it would be really good. (Yes, that's the expiration date, Jan 79. No, that's not the oldest one I found.)

Or, for example, I can't tell you the story of how recently she was ill in bed...lying there in her invalid state when a bee buzzed in from the wall. Then another. And another. Until the room was buzzing with angry and darting bees whose hive had just relocated to her living room wall. I can't tell you how she hid, screaming and cursing, under her sheets. I can't tell you how she used a pillow case, Lucille Ball-esque, as a propeller that she swung around her head manically to repel the bees for 30 minutes until finally making a hobbling dash for safety in the bathroom.

No, I'll have to bore you with less interesting matters. Like how my husband and I are planning to move to New Zealand soon, where we'll live under the hill called, "the summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one," or Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, as it's more commonly known. There, we'll train to become nose flute afficienados and grow fat knees from eating Kiwi donuts.

I'll have to bore you with the details of a conversation we had in bed last night, as my husband dozed and I lay awake.
Mike: (Suddenly jerking up in bed and pointing) Look!
Me: What?
Mike: A circle!
Me: What?
Mike: The fishies.
Me: What?
Mike: The fishy.
Me: (Finally taking out my ear plugs) What?
Mike: The fishy. Don't you see it?
Me: No, I don't see anything.
Mike: I don't think I do either. I think I'm thinking of Moab*. Good night.
Me: Good night.
*Note: There were no fishies in Moab either.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sheep With a Goat's Brain

You might remember, if you are one of the legion of my loyal, devoted followers, that I recently posted a page from the Onion showing a picture of a couple rubbing their pregnant belly with the headline, "Natural Child Birth: How Morally Superior Does It Make You."

As it turns out, the couple in the photo is on my sister-in-law's small group. What are the chances that the one couple from stock photos I choose to mock would be friends of my in-laws? Score 2 points with the Whitneys.

So I should have learned my lesson. But this Onion page is just too important and too funny to not pass on. I apologize if this sheep is actually one of your cousins.
http://www.theonion.com/content/video/genetic_scientists_develop_sheep

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Old Movies Stink

(Or, for those born after 1973 who aren't offended by the phrase, what I mean to say is: Old Movies Suck!)

OK, so I know it's all artsy and whatnot to be into old movies. To sigh and say, "Citizen Kane is just brilliant. That man really had the eye. You know?" But I just can't pretend anymore. Old movies suck. (That's not to say that the majority of movies today are anything more than drivel, but that's another day's post.)

You might have several classics popping defensively into your head, like Gone With the Wind or All About Eve or Rear Window. But let's face it, those are exceptions.

Here's some proof: Look at the old lists of Oscar winners. Then actually watch those movies. Don't just remember them, watch them. (Memories make atrocious things rosy and meaningful. Like how I loved the movie "Don Juan DeMarco" in high school because I, like every girl born between 1972 and 1979, loved Johnny Depp, and high school chemicals were still invading and diluting my brain. Years later, seeing the DVD in the bargain bin at Walmart, I convinced Mike to buy it, remembering how romantic it was. 43 "Oh, I forgot that part"s later, I had learned my lesson to never trust your memory of a movie.)

I watched Anchors Aweigh last night, 'cause you know it's all classic and junk. This movie was nominated for 5 Oscars and won 1 in 1945 (won best music score, nominated for best actor, best cinematography, best original song, and best movie). So this is up there, you know. The best 1945 has to offer us.

Best music? The lyrics went something like: "You're as charming as a Christmas tree. You should sit on my knee. Golly gee." Please, somebody, get Franky a lyricist!

Best actor? Admit it, we all love Gene Kelly for his thighs and pirouettes, not his acting ability. He's the hammiest ham I've ever seen, pulling ridiculous faces at every turn, and I say that with all adoration. (I wrote an essay on him for Dance 101 in college, you know.)

Best cinematography? I tried to convince Mike that Ol' Genie dancing with a girly boy-mouse in fairyland was a necessary cinematic precursor to "It's a Jolly Holiday" from Mary Poppins, but he wouldn't buy it.

This movie was 2 hours and 24 minutes (2 HOURS and 24 MINUTES!) of over-acted, overly predictable, awkward shmooze purely created to give Gene's thighs and Frank's pipes a platform.

Phew. Sorry, I'm getting all worked up. The simple fact is that movies were a new genre in the old days. Actors were fresh from vaudeville and film directing was a new profession. I'm not all for the theory of progress, but this is one area where progress has thankfully reigned.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Motivation

Top Five Reasons I Should Get Writing My Book

Ah, procrastination. That semi-sweet, semi-bitter taste so familiar in college days. That sensation of guilt in the pit of my stomach as I watch Top Chef. I drew Moab as my line in the sand, over which once I crossed I must get working. Now I'm dragging my heels in the sand, with my fingers clutching at that line now fading into the past. So, for motivation (and procrastination)'s sake, I'll write out the top five reasons I need to kick it into gear.

1. I think my editor might read my blog occasionally, and she'll know if I'm being a bad girl.
2. Summer TV is wretched and will just leave me with drool running down my chin, mumbling nonsensically.
3. The reason I decided to write it in the first place: To give an outward-focused alternative to just one more small-group study that focuses on perfecting ourselves.
4. There is only one month in between June and August.
5. To silence that little nagging voice in my head.

Top Five Reasons to Keep Procrastinating
1. It reminds me of the flavor of sesame chicken from College Cafe eaten on the lawn of the oval in Ft. Collins.
2. I want to.
3. The sun is shining so brightly, and I want to go trip through the tulips.
4. I already worked all dadgum day.
5. Deadlines Schmeadlines. Mike is cute and I want to go eat ice cream with him.