Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm Outta Here!

I'll be out of town for the next four days. Possibly dying. Possibly triumphing. Who knows?

This is what I'll look like. Chest out. Chin Up. Fearless. Mannish.

If you'd like to see my route, here is what I'll be doing. I'll let you know how it goes once I'm back, as I'll be unplugged for 4 days. Doing an interweb detox.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Like Her So Much I Hate Her

I have this friend that I hate. I only hate her, though, because she's so wonderful and everyone knows it. I think there's a word for this...starts with a j...Jam? Jalopa? Jail bait?

So Sarah Swan just started a blog and it's wonderful. It's wonderful because she's intelligent and interesting and insightful and gracious and funny and honest. But I already knew all that, and I don't hate her for those reasons.

I hate her because she started a blog and on the first post, she got 20 comments on the first day. I've never gotten 20 comments on anything, not even when I told you my cancer had gone into remission. That never happened, but still. Most of you balanced people out there will read this and think, "Wow, Amber is a jerk." And you'd be right. But I know that at least Liz understands. Can I get a what what, Liz?

She even got an offer to be published by a commentor on her first post. Are you kidding me? I'm so jalopa right now.

Seeing the response to Sarah's blog, I thought, "Wow people really like Sarah. I want to be liked. Maybe I should try to be a better person like Sarah and stop making tasteless jokes about cancer so that more people will like me." But that would be a pretty bad reason to try to be a better person. So, I'll just stay mediocre until I have better motivation.

So while I wallow in pride and self-obsession and mediocrity, you should go read her blog! But if you comment, I'll kill you. Unless you want to comment about her blog on my blog. That's allowed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pikes' Pics

Ever so slightly delayed, here are the pictures that accompany this post.

Viewing the sun as it peeks over the eastern horizon - see its pink fingers on my cheek?

Halfway up at Barr Camp, with its lovely loos.

The lovely wildflowers by the A-Frame, several miles further up, where I unsuccessfully attempted to find a loo.

Looking tired at the A-frame.

Made it to the Golden Stairs. (See the golden flowers?)

Jen sees the cog railway at the top of the mountain, reinvigorating hope.


Sweet success!

Our group at the top. Notice my discreetly displayed donut.

I can't wait to do this hike again, but from the Crags. Anyone?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mike's Review of Twilight

Which he listened to as a book on tape, as he is constantly listening to books. This is a dictation of his rant to me. Unfortunately, he can rant faster than I can type.

That was lame. Nothing happened in that book. Trash. It wasn't even as good as the trash I read in middle school. Makes Maniac Magee look like High Art.

It was really not interesting. It was boring and the resolution was unsatisfying. You don't even see the villian defeated. It all happens offstage because she probably didn't have enough ability to write an action scene. I don't even know what happened to the villian. For all I know, they took him outside and gave him a stern talking to. Most of the other characters just fell out of the story. That annoys me.

Even I could kick that vampire's butt. He makes Spiderman look like a self-assured ladies man. Ooo, I'm so dangerous and conflicted but you've tamed me. I want to eat you but I know I'm bad for you. It just ends up being one big teenage sex fantasy.

I was trying to enjoy it the whole way through, but it left me so unfulfilled at the end. Her two big problems in life are that she's bad at badminton and she's too embarrassed to dance to go to prom, even though four boys have asked her. What a tragically misunderstood teenage heroine.

The only thing that maintains plausability in the novel is that Edward, who really likes her, is constantly pointing out how stupid she is, so it fends off readers' objections. I don't think I could read another Twilight book because I couldn't bear to listen to her go on for 300 more pages about how god-like Edward is and how sweet his breath is. I pushed through it hoping I would eventually get to something other than "ooo, I'm so bad and dangerous" and "ooo, he's so god-like and beautiful and I'm swooning over him." It's not even clear why they like each other, other than that (from his perspective) he's 125 and she's 17 and he likes the way she smells (pretty creepy if you think about it). And (from her perspective) he's sooooo beautiful and soooo handsome and soooo god-like and soooo sterotypically aloof and mercurial and mysterious and conflicted and soooo running around with his shirt off so she can feel his (literally) rock hard pecs. And there was no pay-off. There's nothing worth slogging through all that crap for.

Peter Pan, though, is already great and I'm only 20 minutes into it.

Mike came into the ice cream store tonight rocking his MP3 player. One of his young, hip employees said, "Hey, what are you rockin' to tonight?" Mike said, "Peter Pan." Young, hip employee laughed and said, "No, really, what are you listening to?" "Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. It's a classic," cute hubby said. "Mike, you are the essence of cool," young employee astutely stated.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekend Review

On Saturday Mike worked, and I did a long bike ride to prepare for the Courage. My friend Heidi and I met up in Denver and biked from the Cherry Creek trail up to the E470 trail, then went west ending at Chatfield Lake - 40 miles in all! Is was a bit too city for me, but had some great challenging hills. As with Pikes, my heart/health were doing just fine, but what was not so fine was anything touching the bike: feet, hiney, wrists. It felt great to finish though, and hopefully it will prepare us a bit better for next weekend. (Heidi is the lone woman biking the Courage with me. Woohoo! Tuwanda!)

Today, Mike and I drove up to Buena Vista, where we stumbled upon the Midland Trail. It's a short windy single track which leads up to an old railroad grade - way more my speed - that runs over the Arkansas River and looks down upon the town. Here's Mike on the Arkansas. We enjoyed a beautiful bike ride through the thunder.

Afterwards, we went to Pizza Works for a tasty dinner, then watched the beautiful sunset over town.
On the ride home, we watched a full moon rise in the pink sky and tried to remember every time we'd gone to Breckenridge together since we'd been married. It was a great day - reminding us that we can still lead a normal life and visit the mountains even as small business owners!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wholesalin' It

In case you don't follow my hubbie's Glacier blog, here's a little update I wrote last night.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Art of Excavation

Or "Why Editors Wear a Wry Smile"

Many people, upon hearing you are an editor will say, "Oh, so you, like, just add commas and fix spelling, right?" You, being a thoroughly reasonable person, clasp your hands behind your back to prevent one of them from inadvertently slapping her. No one wants to be described with a "just," after all.

Many assume that masterpieces leap fully formed from the heads of authors, like Boticelli's Venus stepping forth from the seashell. For some authors, this is the case, but for many it is quite otherwise.

To me, approaching a raw piece of writing is like starting a great architectural dig. I always wanted to be an archeologist, but my parents said I would get hot and dirty and would have to live in places without indoor plumbing. So instead, I excavate stories and ideas.

Often when you approach a piece of writing, like a plot of plain-looking dirt, you can't tell what lies within. You start by brushing away the dirt. All the superfluous paragraphs and chapters and sentences and words. All the clutter that distracts from the real bones. Often, there is more dirt than there are bones.

Eventually, you begin to see the outline of a skeleton, a thigh bone jutting up here and a collar bone buried there. You continue to brush away until all that is left is the animal - whatever it may be.

You realize that some pesky magpie must have upset the skeleton at some point, as you find some scattered foot bones up around the neck of the skeleton and a foreleg over by the bushes. You carefully remove them and place them where they ought to be.

You find that the bird must have flown off with some bones too, as there are vital parts of the animal missing. In your notebook, you sketch what is missing - a leg bone without which the animal couldn't support it's weight and a plate along its spine, without which the symmetry of the animal would be off.

You also begin to find bones that, while they are excellent specimens, clearly belong to another animal. You dust them off and set them aside, hoping to one day find the skeleton that the lovely bones belong to.

Once you are done with this careful work of discovery and reassembly, you are finally able to see the glorious animal that hid within the site. You proudly show it to the author, and he says, "Yes! This is it!" And only he knows what you have done.

When the animal is unveiled to the world, they ooh and ahh and say to you, "Isn't it magnificent?" You smile. You don't say, "You should have seen what a pile of dirt it was when I first saw it." Because that would make you a royal jerk. You say, "Yes, isn't it?"

For ultimately, editing is humble and unrecognized work. If you are a good editor, no one will know that you ever existed. But you know. Although you don't receive acclaim for saving lives or erecting impressive buildings, you know that the most important things in life are not buildings or dollars, but ideas.

Ideas, expressed through words, are what save and destroy, condemn and inspire. They drive the armies of hate and the armies of compassion. The abstracts of the world are the essence of life, set down in a simple book of black type on white paper. A simple book that can set hearts on fire and fields ablaze.

But when you say these things, people think you are getting a bit dramatic. They wonder why you get paid so much and whether or not your job is relatively expendable. So when the girl on the elevator asks if you just add commas, you give her a wry smile and say yes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Look, Ma!

Guess what...That Bible study I wrote last fall on joy despite circumstances for Group Publishing just came out! Fun, huh? I haven't received my copies yet, I just noticed it on their site.

It seems very providential that I worked on this book, as in the spring I worked on a study on faith despite circumstances. Notice a pattern? They both had a big impact on me, and how I approach life.

I also just got my article that was published in a Dutch magazine, Zending Nu. But I'm not tricksy enough to know how to load a pdf into blogger. Anyone? In any case, it's in Dutch so most of you won't be able to read it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Anniversar-Eve!

Today is Michael Jonathan Van Schooneveld and my seventh anniversary. "Seven" is legit, no? It sounds closer to 10 than 5.

Last year, I posted this poem for him. The year before that, I posted this awful video for him. This year, I'll go easy on him, and just tell you what we did yesterday for our Seventh Anniversar-Eve together.

First, we slept in. Hooray for sleep! Next, we tried driving up into the mountains to have one of our infamous adventures. The adventure was that it was way too rainy to have any adventures in the mountains, so we drove back down to town to watch The Sorcerer's Apprentice. It was fun.

Then we went to Cheyenne Mountain State Park to take a hike. Can you believe Mike made me hike 4 miles after doing Pikes the day before? It was really a very beautiful place to hike. So idllyicly montane, that I expected a cougar to jump out at any second and eat us.

Then we had a lovely picnic dinner together under the sunset and the lights of Norad. Mike brought strawberries and aged gouda and rosemary bread. It was fabulous.

Love you, Mike!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Over The City

This morning, I woke up at 3:30 am to hike Pikes Peak. I've been resistant of doing Pikes for several reasons: 1. I dislike the "How many 14ers have you hiked?" culture, and 2. I want my knees to work when I'm 60.

As it turned out, several of my coworkers were going and someone was going to meet us at the top to drive us home. Score! Knees saved.

We got to the trailhead and started hiking at 5 am. It was so beautiful--seing the lights of the sleeping city from the mountainside and then watching the sun rise over it all. It was amazingly warm--I didn't need the gloves or zip-on pants or long-sleeved shirt one bit. It stayed nice all the way up. While those in the Springs were baking at 95 degrees, we were in the pleasant 70s much of the day because of altitude.

We hiked 6 miles up to Barr Camp. Clean, non-smelly bathrooms halfway up the hike? Yes, please! Bathrooms are a good thing on a 14er, because of the scarcity of places to hide and do your bizness above treeline. Case in point: Later on on the hike, I was searching and searching for a rock big enough to shelter me from prying eyes. I finally found a spot when I realized that the trail switched back directly behind me. Hello, boys! Yes, I did flash several innocent and unsuspecting hikers.

Here's a fun fact: Barr Trail and Barr Camp were built by Fred Barr from 1914-1918. The incline, where crazies in Colorado Springs today hike to get fit, was was a funicular railway that tourists would take up to Barr Trail to then ride donkeys to the top. Barr Camp was built as the halfway point for the tourists to camp at. Sadly, today we have to rely on thighs, rather than funiculars and donkeys to get to the top.

The flowers all along the trail were amazing. Meadows and tufts of yellows and purples with pinks mixed in. They looked like this.

Another surprising thing along the trail were all the runners. There were at least 25 runners who passed us going up or coming down the mountain. I'm telling you, Colorado Springs people are crazies. There are a large number of people who run a marathon on the weekends up and down Pikes Peak (13 miles one way) just as a workout. They and their bulging calf muscles kept me humble, despite what I am about to say.

I did so well on the mountain! I was very excited to see that all the training this summer for the Courage Classic has actually paid off--the hike was very doable, and I only really got out of breath and had to slow down the last two miles. We did it in 7 hours. One trail site says that most runners do it in 4 to 7 hours. That means I was as fast as the slowest runner! Woohoo!

The last two miles were definitely the hard part. I felt as though someone had pressed the slow-motion button on me. Me and my new coworker Nathan, whom I hiked and talked with the entire way up, were slurring our speech and sounded like non-native speakers of English, as our tongues and brains had stopped operating correctly at that point.

There's a building and tourist attraction at the top of Pikes, as you can drive up the mountain. I've always thought it would be depressing to hike to the top of a 14er and see a bunch of out-of-shape Kansans get out of their SUVs in flip-flops at the top, sucking on Frappuccinos. As it turned out, it actually made it kind of fun. In the store, people would ask you, "Wow, did you hike to the top?" (You're pretty easy to pick out of the crowd by your stench.) Unfortunately, you can't take advantage of this opportunity to preen in front of lazy tourists, as all you can really do at this point is grunt.

Grunt while you eat your donut, that is. Have you ever hiked a mountain and thought, "Oh, how I wish there was an ice cream store at the top?" Well, at this one there is. But what I was most interested in was the water and Gatorade as I brilliantly ran out of water at mile 10.

After chugging an entire Gatorade, I joined the out-of-shape Kansans in enjoying a sizzling hot, fresh donut. Although "enjoying" might be a misnomer, as I ate it like a badger who's been fasting.

At the top, a coworker's husband met us, and drove us back down. It's amazing how quickly and easily a car can do what you just killed your body to do. We completed our journey, how else?, with gelato at the store--strawberry chocolate gelato. Mmm. Now I'm trying to hold myself back from eating the entire house while Mike works tonight. I went to Costco in the afternoon, which is a very bad idea after hiking up 7300 feet. I wanted everything, I say, everything! I almost started licking some bottles of mango juice.

Now I have to go. There's a crate of mangoes with my name on it in the kitchen.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Grilled Cheese

If I am ever on death row, my last meal will be a grilled cheese. Crusty artisan bread grilled in lots of butter with melted Meunster and and Colby cheese, the two stringiest of cheeses.

Growing up, grilled cheese was our Saturday lunch meal. My dad would make Campbell's tomato soup, Mmm Mmm good, and grilled cheese with pickle and tomatoes. We'd dip the quartered sandwiches in the soup on fall days. My dad is not one to undercook, so there was always enough for two sandwiches. It was on Roman-meal wheat bread with cheddar cheese. My sister and I would see who could get their cheese to stretch the longest and then wrap the strands around the bread.

In high school, we would drive to G.D. Ritzy's for lunch quite often. Oh, G.D. Ritzy's, how I loved you. You deserve a post all of your own. The least expensive thing on the menu was a grilled cheese, which I could get for $2.24, just how much my allowance allowed me for lunch. I'd eat it with shoestring fries stolen from my sister, dipped in melted cheese.

In college, I worked at the YMCA in Estes Park doing food service. My parents would come up to see me and eat in the Pine Room. My mother still remembers the grilled cheese my friend, Mark, made her one day, as the best grilled cheese on the planet. In fact, to this day, if he comes up in conversation, we call him "Grilled Cheese," rather than Mark.

I spent one day in Brugges, Belgium, enjoying their Frenchy Dutchness. I had a croque monsieur, French for grilled cheese, in a little cafe with cute French waitresses and luscious looking pastries. It was so crunchy and light.

Now, I love experimenting with my grilled cheese. After a recent party, I had leftover brie, so I grilled it with raspberry jam on crusty, buttery white bread. Heaven. I think the streets of heaven are paved with cheese. I will spend the remainder of my life finding the best combination of bread to cheese to toppings. I will die a happy woman.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Ride

Guess what...My ride is just 2 1/2 weeks away. Oh my, that's scary! I've been biking as much as I can to prepare and I even just bought a new bike. It took me 1 full year to get up the oomph to spend the money for a bike. But my new ride, which I will call Flash, is making biking much easier and faster.

For those of you who were considering donating to my ride, now is your chance! If you are sending a check, I believe you need to do it this week, to get there by the 20th. Or, you can make it even simpler and donate to my ride here. You can even watch the little biker man zoom forward towards the goal.

The cause is the Children's Hospital in Denver, which will help ensure all children will get the care they need. Thank you for considering!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


July is my favorite month.

Growing up, we'd go to Pampa in July, because July is a brilliant month to go to Texas. We'd drive for 8 hours while Tara and I pushed each other's elbows of the arm rest, or when we were younger and Chris was with us, we spent our time trying to not let our six sticky thicks touch in the sweaty backseat. In Pampa there was Braum's ice cream and Dyer's barbecue and mosquitoes and night walks to the park and playing on the hammock in the backyard and spades with the cousins.

July in Colorado was sparklers and slip and slide. Sunbathing with the family in the backyard with a root beer, hoping you weren't the one dad asked to put Coppertone 4 on his back. It was my Uncle Stan's pool in Parker, 10-feet wide, which when you're 10 counts for 50. It was laying on a wool blanket on their front lawn at night, watching for shooting stars.

It was skipping stones on Lake Dillon and playing in the amphitheater. It was Cheetos and Chips A'hoy for a picnic lunch on that same old puce-colored tablecloth my parents still tote with them wherever they go.

Now July is the mountains with Mike, sticking our noses in corners of valleys. It's a bike ride through the pines to work, with the morning cool on my legs. It's hummingbirds darting at dusk on my back porch. It's a bowlful of cherries on the patio.

We celebrated the 4th in the store this year. I stepped out into the rain and dark to see the fireworks exploding over Manitou, while Mike mopped gelato off the floor.

Monday, July 12, 2010


One of the best things about writing a blog is reading what you did on past holidays and birthdays, especially when your mind starts to go. For example, today I thought I was being quite original by going to Adam's Mountain Cafe for breakfast to celebrate my 32 years on this planet, only to look back and realize that's exactly what I did last year. At least having a bad memory makes you easy to amuse.

This year I celebrated by buying a bike on Saturday. (Not actually part of the festivities, just coincidental.) Then riding on said bike until I couldn't walk. Sunday, Mike took his first day off work since the shop opened. Except for a few minor emergencies which are now par for the course, all went well. We were able to give out cones to kids at a church picnic, then see Despicable Me (it was fairly funny), then have dinner and ice cream and presents with my family.

Today I took the day off work to celebrate my birthday. (Besides, had I gone to work, I was going to have to give a presentation, so it was an easy decision.) My sister Tara who is a layabout all summer, being a teacher, came down to teach me the ropes of being a layabout. We got massages at Mateos, ate cinnamon rolls at Adam's Mountain Cafe, and hiked the Crags. I came home to surprise flowers from Mike and dinner at Blue Star. A fine day.

In conclusion, thoughts on growing older: It rocks. I love being in my thirties. I've found that I've enjoyed each year of my life more than the last. Aging is good. You gain wisdom and confidence, while still feeling like a 22-year-old inside and while having the income of a 32-year-old. I say: Go Age!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grandma's House

My grandma lives on Ivy Street in Denver. She has lived in her ranch home since it was built in 1949. Now 61 years later, she is moving on Monday.

My Grandpa Spears was a chiropractor, and his brother was a chiropractor. They moved out to Denver from the bayous of Florida to work at the chiropractic clinic of their uncle who was a chiropractor.

It grew into this, a great big chiropractic hospital. (This needs a book in and of itself.) Later my three uncles became chiropractors and worked here, while my aunts worked in reception. On the grounds of the hospital were swings and statues and even a baseball diamond. And at the end of the grounds, on the other side of the baseball diamond, sat my grandparents' house.

My father would try to teach his hopeless daughters how to play ball on the diamond before we'd be called over for many a picnic to begin. The porch was long, perfect for long tables of burgers and potato salad that we'd devour in blue-weave rockers on the porch.

The roof of the house always busy with squirrels. My grandfather would feed them peanuts, and I remember thinking my grandfather must be a kind man, even though he grew up eating squirrel in Florida. They'd jump from the long limbs of the trees and scurry over the roof, peering down at us in the rockers on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

All along the wire fence that separated the ball field from their home, was a vegetable garden. My grandpa tended the vegetables, while my grandma tended the roses. There were monstrous rhubarb plants that my grandma would make into strawberry-rhubarb pie. Vines heavy with green grapes wound themselves all through the fence, though I never detected them being put to any use other than to make the grandkids krinkle their noses at their sour taste.

Before my grandmother lost her eyesight, whenever we visited we'd find her in the garden, pruning her roses with the radio on in the kitchen.

In the kitchen, there was a large elf head on the fridge. It must have been a cookie jar, but I never did know what that thing was. There was always a non-elf-head cookie jar on the counter with Chips A'hoy for the kids. On the fridge, there were the magnets from the places my grandparents had visited together before my grandpa died.

Above the stairway to the basement was a big mounted buck head that my grandpa must have shot at some point. I'd stare at it, wondering if it would blink at me, and if I ever had to go to the basement, I'd pound down the stairs as fast as I could in case the deer decided to drop on me for vengeance.

The basement was cool and filled with old things. There was a fridge that held my grandpa's pickles and spare packs of beer. In one of the basement bedrooms, there was a mini-door halfway up a wall. I imagined I was Nancy Drew and could unravel the great mysteries it no doubt hid, such as dead bodies.

The garage was where my grandpa would put his big barrels of oysters from Florida. He'd sit with his friends in the garage and shuck oysters and eat them raw. I never saw this, but my mom's descriptions of the slimy beasties was vivid enough that I can't picture the garage without seeing my grandpa sitting on an oyster barrel sucking the juice off a half shell.

The dining room is where we spent all our time. I don't know how many hours of my life I've spent sitting at the long dining table for birthdays, Thanksgivings, Easters, and Christmases, the only change being the color of the floral arrangement. I liked to sit across from the wall with the pictures of my mom's family. Seven little frames each holding 60's pictures of my mom's siblings. Aunt Carol. Uncle Ray. Uncle Dick. Mom. Aunt Cin. Uncle Charlie. Aunt Debbie. I would stare at my mom's beautiful 60's face and wonder if I would ever look like her.

Down the back hallway of the house were rows of rooms, added on as kids were added, like flapjacks on a stack. Each room had a diferent texture in the paint on the walls. One was pines. One was daisies. One was roses. It was like discovering something grand and secret. I'd trace the lines of the ridges with my finger and wonder who had put them there.

The hallway was lined on one side with floor-length windows that looked out to the backyard. The cousins would play back here when it was too cold outside or when the porch was full of big people who scared me.

By far the best room to play in was the bathroom across from the wall of windows. It was tiled utterly in pink. It had dual sinks, which made me think my grandparents must be millionaires. But even better, there were little mirrors in the wall, and if you pushed on them, they'd swivel around to reveal toothbrush and glass holders on the other side. Clearly, my grandparents were millionaries. The swively toothbrush holders were as good to me as a secret hiding place to a Nazi lair.

Once we tired of turning the toothbrush holders, we would sit in the front entrance to the home by the book shelves. My grandparents had the Encyclopedia Britannica, and it was the most marvelous thing I'd ever touched. Imagine, anything I wanted to know about, say Zanzibar, I could just look up in one of their big volumes and see pictures and read the history. They also had little statues in the entrance, one with three tastefully nude women. I would steal glances at their beautiful forms, both thrilled and scandalized that my grandparents would house such a thing.

I loved when the doorbell would ring. A deep, throaty bell chime would sound. It was always one more relative or friend to crowd into the home. With seven children and a staff of a hospital, there were always plenty of people around.

Lately, the picture has been different. My powder-white haired grandma sits in her chair in the front room, scootched close to the TV. She hasn't been able to prune the roses or bake rhubarb pies for many years. The sounds of the home have long been going silent. Now they will live in our minds--the sounds of a home and a family and a life.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hot Dog

I used to feel bad because I thought I didn't have a culture. I wished that my mom was Armenian with an accent and a mustache and that my dad was a German named Fritz who yodeled, so that I could feel as if I belonged to a group. But now I realize that my culture is all around me in the thousand things I take for granted each day. It's in the hot dogs.

Hot dogs are a big part of my life. When I was young, my family would go to King Soopers on Thursday nights, when they had a dinner deal: A hot dog for a dime. We'd load up in the maroon Chevy and we'd get five hot dogs for 50 cents. I recall there was a small dining area in Kings with dark wooden chairs, where we'd eat our dogs with packets of ketchup and mustard.

On occasions that my parents would splurge, we'd go to Ellie May's, a home-cookin' restaurant in the King Soopers' parking lot that is now a depressing Old Chicago's. All I remember of this restaurant is hammered copper and toasted hot dog buns. That's all. I don't even remember where the hammered copper comes in. But I can still smell and taste those toasted hot dog buns.

On 4th of Julys and Labor Days, we'd grill in the backyard: burgers for the 'rents and dogs for the kids. I'd always pick the blackest, burntest dog in the bunch and smother it in mustard and onions. We'd eat on the cement porch with our toes in the grass and Daddy Long Legs trying to crawl up our calves.

Later on in high school, my family would load into the car and go to Sonic for a "car date." My parents loved car dates. (They were really cheap dates.) We'd all get hot dogs and sit in the car and watch the cars drive by in the rain.

Now hot dogs are very unpopular. They're seen as the garbage dump of food. What uncouth, unprogressive people eat. As if there's something immoral about being thorough.

I prefer to think of them as pioneer food. Laura Ingalls helped her mom to scrape the hogs' heads to get all the last bits of meat for head cheese. Head cheese kept them warm on January nights when the produce had run out. I don't want to personally scrape hogs' heads, but I do see the value in being judicious with the meat we have.

For me, hot dogs mean comfort and family and America and holidays and summer. They make me think of my mom and her endearing idiosyncrasies, like putting dill pickles and mayonnaise on her dogs. They make me think I'm part of something bigger than myself, even if it is just sausage stuffed in an intestine.

As for me and my family, we will eat hot dogs.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My New Life

This morning, I woke up around 2, worried that we were going to run out of gelato. I tossed and turned until I dreamt that Mike had made more gelato. Then I slept soundly a couple more hours until I got up and biked to work.

At work, I got by on espresso and chocolate milk. The work flew away like a sea bird, like it always does.

In the afternoon, I took a 15-mile bike ride around the academy grounds with a couple of 50-year-old coworkers (who are cyclists). They beat the tar out of me. I tried not to let them see me cry.

I biked the rest of the way home on the Santa Fe, through a torrential rainpour, on which I got soaked and happy.

I arrived at the gelato store. I devoured the rest of the coconut lime gelato. It didn't look good in the case, nearly empty, so I had to.

I made lemon raspberry gelato with my husband.

I went to bed. (I hope. Yet to be determined.)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lapping From Our Hands

Do you remember that story in the Bible when God asks David to take his warriors down to the river and drink? He allows David only to take the men into battle who lap from their hands like dogs - so that David will trust in God and not in his own might. Mike and I feel a little like the men lapping water. So many things have gone so wrong this weekend, that it forced us to just trust in God that we would be OK - We found you can't put your trust in expensive Italian machines or staff or computers. (Gelato machine on the fritz, ice cream maker a no-show, computers no worky first day.)

But, although so many things have gone wrong, one very important thing has gone right: Customers are coming into the store. We've been meeting our sales goals nicely these first four days, without much (any) marketing.

For those of you who are too far to make it to the store just yet, I thought I'd treat you with some pics. So here you go! For those of you who came in this weekend - thank you! I felt all warm and cuddly from all the support and love everyone has shown us (and I rarely feel or say "warm and cuddly," so I mean it).

First, the front. You've already seen this, but I know my mummy wants to see our neon signs - an "open" ice cream cone sign on the left and an espresso sign on the right. We're still waiting for our purple umbrellas.
Here's our front - that's a "shake" neon sign on the left and our "Umpire Estate" coffee decal in the middle ("Umpire Estate" is the brand of Colorado Coffee Merchants.) Those are our little bistro coffee patio sets.
This is what you first see when you walk in. See our pretty purple case?! Now if only it worked...Our menu signs were designed by one of the women who works for Colorado Coffee Merchants. I think they add some nice color. Our mural of Colorado Springs will go on that large blue wall, coming next week!
This is the coffee area, just to the left of the above view. See my awesome airplane? Most of the guests and workers don't notice it, but it makes me happy. There are three pendant lights hanging down next to the plane, but you can't see them very well in this shot.
Now, moving back to the right, here is the fireplace and cozy seating area. See the glass tile above the fireplace? The pics you see hanging are historic prints of the Springs - balanced rock, downtown, Garden of the Gods (and one around the corner of the Incline).
Here's the back view of the fireplace with our cozy chairs.
Moving on, here's the drinking fountain back towards the bathrooms. Over the fountain, we put Disney animation drawings of Mickey and Donald (to go with the comic books we have out for the kids). Then I put up this map today with a sign that says, "Where in the World Are You From?" with pins stuck in it. It's only been up 4 hours, and we already have pins in Lebanon, Munich, and Naples!
Here's the women's bathroom. I took down their awful industrial mirrors and put in these warmer wood ones. In the reflection, you can see the funky blue doors, which have a fun formica look going on.
Lastly, here's some of the best scenery in the house - our great employees! We've hired eight great people that we're really enjoying getting to know.
We still can't believe it's really happening, as we haven't had time to slow down and think about it! But we have been so blessed, and we are thankful.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Soft" Open

I just wrote a short update post for Mike about Glacier's soft open today.

It was utter madness. I feel like three monkeys are jumping in my head, banging on the pans. But we made it. Because so many people showed up, I'll be taking another vacation day tomorrow to drive to Boulder and get more gelato.

Our ice cream maker didn't show up today. We haven't heard from him in a couple of days, which has put us in a pretty bad situation today. (Hence my drive up to Boulder.) But I'm trying to focus on the positive. Here are a few, before I take off to make more gelato:
  • Our wonderful friends and family who have been so supportive and helpful the past couple of weeks. Will was with us until 12:15 for two nights in a row, and tonight he stayed until 10:30. My sister worked like a slave for us for two days straight.
  • The fact that so many people showed up today. It was bad for today (not prepared), but it bodes well for the future that Mike and I maybe will do OK in this business.
  • I'm too tired to think of a third. Good night!