Monday, June 28, 2010

Locks and Cops and Grumps, Oh My!

Picking up where we left off with Mark and Charlene, Saturday afternoon I took them to see Matt at REI, then we headed off to Snoqualmie Falls.

Lovery loverly.

That evening after Matt got home we headed downtown and had dinner at Black Bottle, a great little restaraunt that's worth returning even if we have to pay the $10 parking fee! Can I saw how amazinly meltingly wonderful the beschamel and proscuitto flatbread was?! Holy kinokoly Batman!

After that Charlene and I followed the sound of a steel drum band while the boys headed off for a sunset walk around Downtown. We were just following the music, actually, it was my co-worker Trisha's bridal shower held at her sister Michelle's (my boss) condo in Belltown.

We really did figure out the building by the music - this lovely, relaxing, feel-like-you're-in-Jamaica music. It was the first honest-to-goodness GORGEOUS summer day and everyone was out and enjoying the sunshine.

Michelle had clued me in on the music and the flower lays and the good food, and let me know there weren't going to be strippers or anything like that at all! Just a cute bartender who would flirt with the single ladies...

Char and I get there and I'm sipping a Mojito and we're mingling when suddenly there's a knock on the door.

It's two (cute) men in cop uniforms.

The ladies at the party INSTANTLY let out excited squeals and begin snapping pictures at the would-be-strippers. For a few seconds they were squinting into the flashes like paparazzi-hounded celebrities.

Only they were real cops.

"We don't appreciate that," one of them said gruffly, but by that point most people were already laughing at their mistake. It turns out the cops were there because it was after 9:00 and a neighbor had complained about the (not any louder than a restaurant) music.

I sigh and look at Char, "Sorry, Seattlites can sometimes be grumpy."

After the shower we meet up with the men and Matt decides he wants ice cream from Metropolitan Market in lower Queen Anne. Sound good to the rest of us so off we traipse, but as we pull out of the parking lot we see that the way back to the freeway was completely stopped with traffic.

This is where knowing that area of the city helps, because a few turns later Matt had us at the top of Queen Anne hill, Mark ran into 7-11 for some spoons and we ended up at Kerry Park overlooking the night skyline of Seattle and eating our ice cream.

The next morning we slept in late and watched a sermon by Mark Driscoll on our TV (via laptop...all his sermons and lectures are available for free from ).

Then we piled in the car and headed to Seattle proper for a little local tour. Before getting lunch Matt swung by our old place, and drove up to the lookout point we used to walk Roy to.

As we were standing there, looking at the cruise ships in Interbay and snapping pics of the view, Mark noticed a young woman in the apartment next to the lookout was taking pictures of us with her cell phone.

"Hi!" he waved his arm, "I'm Mark!"

The woman tucked her chin and mumbled something.

"What?" we all asked.

"I don't talk to people from my window!"

"Um...ok..." we all kinda looked at each other.

Charlene asked if this was that apartments property and I said no, we're on a public sidewalk we can be here.

Then the woman got crazy eyes and looked like she was going to whip out a bazooka so we got in the car. As we drove away the woman picked up a cat and stood there rubbing its belly like a good luck charm and staring at us until we were out of sight.

I don't know if she was a little off or what, but Mark and Char weren't getting the best impression of people in Seattle!

With the creepy feeling of that lingering over us we headed to the best fish and chips place we've found in Seattle--Little Chinook's. I'm sure "Big" Chinooks next door is good too, but you have to shower and wear shoes to order from there and the prices reflect that. Little Chinooks is right on Fishermen's Terminal and is the place the fishermen just off the boat can grab some grub to go.

The fried clam strips and tasty fries relieved us of any ill feeling we were harboring, and afterwards we strolled around the docks. I was almost sure Mark was going to fall into the water at some point as he climed onto boats and posed for pictures, but we all left safe and dry and with no angry fishermen chasing us.

Matt then took us to the Ballard Locks, which has become one of our favorite places to take visitors. Free, cool and entertaining...what more could you ask for?
In case you're not clued in, locks is "a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal."

Thank you Wikipedia for that succinct definition.

As we watched the 30' sailboats and 50' power boats come in, I chuckled to myself at how big I used to think they were. Now that I work at a megayacht builder anything less than 130' seems like small fry. When a large tanker-style boat came in that was maybe 120', I pointed to that to help give Mark and Char an idea of the size of boat we build.

To finish off our time in Seattle we headed back to Queen Anne (Matt and I feeling just a twinge of missing it), got a coffee from our favorite Cuban coffee place, El Diablo, and played in the flowers in front of Metropolitan Market.

I made my cacciatore for dinner that night and we all cozied up and watched a family classic...Multiplicity.

Monday Matt got to hang out with Mark and Char while I headed off to work, but they stopped by and I got to take them on a tour where they ooohed and aaahhed over Delta's impressive facility. When they saw some of the boats that are in the works, Mark commented on how no wonder I wasn't all that impressed with those small boats at the locks!

That's all for now. Matt and I are headed off to the sunny Sierras where I'll get to spend my birthday (yes that's today if you're reading this on the 2nd) with my Dad and Mom-in-loves (in-laws, for those who may not be so blessed). When I get back I'll post some pics from the present my bestest most wonderfulest hubby and parents got me...a real life digital SLR camera.

Be still my heart...and stay tuned for some great pics! (hopefully)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Business of Christianity

If I've never said it before on this blog, I am a Christian. I love Jesus with all my heart and the only reason I'm worth more than a puffed up bag of dirt is because of His sacrifice to save my crummy sinful self.

Recently my husband and I started going to Mars Hill in Bellevue. I've gone to two community group meetings and really have enjoyed all the women I've met there.

Spur of the moment one of the girls got an opportunity to do a Beth Moore study for the group. We're doing the book of Esther, so off I go to one of those Christian bookstores I usually avoid like the plague to get the workbook.

I avoid these stores because, quite frankly, they make a killing of a profit off of Christianity. Everything from the Prayer of Jabez cell phone holders to Thomas Kinkade rugs to puppy dog and Bible verse mouse pads, the store seems to take advantage of Christian ladies looking to Christianify their house (okay I'm being a bit sarcastic but you get my point).

Looking in the Bible Study section I couldn't find anything on Beth Moore, which I found odd. I know my mom has done and taught a lot of her studies and loves them. When I asked the sales clerk he waved his hand around the top of the walls and said, "Well she sort of lines our store." And indeed there were the booklets all around the top of the display cabinets all around the store. Then he led me to the "Beth Moore Wall."

"Wow," I said, reaching for the handbook on Esther.

Out of curiosity I glanced at the prices for the Leader Kit. Then my jaw dropped.


When I mentioned how shocked I was that the kit was so expensive to the clerk he replied, "Well, you DO get 6 DVDs, 1 Member Book, 1 Leader Guide and a DVD Promo Video."

I glanced at my $15 Member book which probably cost $3 to print and bind wholesale (the fact that most people in the world live on less than $2 a day flashing in my mind). The Leader Guide was hardly bigger than a pamphlet (actually its 11 x 17 paper folded and stapled). And what does it cost nowadays to burn and label a DVD? Maybe $2 with a nice label?

So what exactly does the $200 pay for?

For the filming and editing of the DVDs? She speaks on location from places like Washington DC or Jerusalem. Inspiring, I'm sure, but does the Word of God need to be taught on location to have an impact? And the introduction is filmed in something like a megachurch setting with a replica of the Oval Office behind her. The style of filming and editing is similar to what you would see from any video-equipped large church. Even a made-for-tv low budget film will still only run $15 or so.

Copyright laws. Okay, understandable in this day and age's obsession over owning what we came up with. I respect the fact that they've spent months or even years pouring over the Biblical text, immersing themselves in research and praying over their interpretation of the Word.

Looking casually at other Bible studies though, prices range from $4 to $30 a book. The Purpose Driven Life Bible study DVD only costs $7. Most other DVD Bible study series were usually $20 to $30. So why is THIS particular study, of which I've heard raving reviews, so darned expensive???

My conclusion is because this Bible study is for rich, predominantly white Americans. Its price tag precludes that. I know churches in Uganda or Romania or inner city churches in the US that could never spend that much on a Bible study because there are other things to pay for like the electricity bill or getting food to a single mother with 5 kids.

I am NOT saying Beth Moore or any other Biblical teacher/pastor/theologian not inspired by the Holy Spirit or are doing this for the money or anything like that.
Please don't misconstrue this as such.

Maybe the bone I have to pick is with the publishers.

I know my mom has grown through and loved the Beth Moore studies, and when I asked her why they were so expensive she understood my frustration.

As she told me, "That's when the richer churches to take the brunt of the cost to provide for other churches. There are some things we just have to swallow."

I wanted to yell that I didn't want to swallow that but couldn't because of the lump in my throat.

Like my mom says, "If you can make it through ministry with your relationship with Jesus intact, then you're a mature Christian."

What are your thoughts on the price to study the Bible?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Parents with me in Spirit...or on a Sign...

My second parents came out this past weekend for a visit with us before they headed off on an Alaskan cruise. For those of you who may not know, my mom was pregnant with me when she and my dad met Mark and Charlene (who was then pregnant with Chad). It was a fast, preggo-tummy hugging friendship from the start and hasn't let up since.

Having "Second parents" in my life for the past (almost) 26 years comes with its blessings and a few curses. The blessings are they are wonderful people that I love to be with and we have far too many memories and inside jokes. The curse is they can bring up the time I complained incessantly about how hard my trip to Venezuela was. Or when I went through my "missionary bun" phase. Or when I insisted my room be painted the color of Pepto Bismal. Or a host of other embarrassing phases I don't even care to mention...

But that's when these friends cross over into family and you learn that them knowing the good and the bad really is better.

After picking them up at the airport and bringing them home late in the evening, we all settled down with a glass of wine to chat up a storm and sing accolades of Roy. He, for his part, fell instantly in love with Charlene's long nails and her willingness to scratch his butt.

If you have yet to visit us and meet him, that is his secret. Butt scratches and treats.

The next morning Mark took Roy on a walk where they played with the horses down the road. When he told me that I said he was pulling my leg, but no, he insisted the horses were drawn to Roy (Mark said he thought the horses took him for a colt since they were the same color), and Roy got his paws up on the fence and sniffed nose to nose with the horses.

I tended to continue to doubt this story until last Saturday when I took Roy for a run.

As we went by the stables, two horses that were far up the hill came GALLOPING towards us! I stopped and stared at them from across the street, Roy whining and lunging towards them like he does when he sees a dog. I crossed the street and stood a few feet away from the horses to see how they would react to Roy. They weren't scared at all, they stood with ears pricked forward and stretching their noses towards him. Then I got nervous and took off down the road, knowing the animals could sense my feelings and reflect them...but it was just weird how they were drawn to that dang dog of mine!

On our way back, the horses once again came galloping toward the fence when they saw us. This time I let Roy get nose to nose with a big black mare...Roy's tail wagging and the mare snuffing her big horse lips right in Roy's face. Then I got scared again and took off. Everything seemed fine but if Roy snapped or anything I certainly didn't want to be responsible. In my mind I could see things going like this:

As far as I could tell, though, those horses definitely had a thing for Roy, and the feeling seemed mutual!

Changing topics, when we were about to head out for the day on Saturday when Mark produced a laminated sign with a picture of none other than my parents on it. It had a handle, and he had a backup sign should one become damaged. The point of this sign was to have my parents everywhere we went...and they surely were.

And I mean ev-ry-whe-re.

Here's a quick tour of where my Mom and Dad went while my 2nd Mom and Dad were in Seattle:

Had enough? Well we hadn't!

That's just a fraction of the Mom-and-Dad-shots Mark got. I'll fill you in later on what we did other than drag that picture around...till next time when you start to miss someone who may live far away, try toting around a sign of their face everywhere.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Haircut, a Wedding, and a lot of Photoshop

I saw a note in a picture today that said "The Secret to Writing is Writing."

Spoke to me.

I've been putting off writing about the actual wedding because I've been torn between wanting to do its beauty and pure love justice, and wanting to make you people laugh about catching Matt chewing gum during the ceremony.

Guess I'll try to forge ahead and find a middle ground.

Oh, and I got to thinking the other day I hope that it doesn't seem like the point of this blog is to complain about all the bad/funny things that happen to me. Like Ethel the granny-seatmate. On the contrary, knowing that I can twist these experiences into something that entertains is what redeems it--even while its happening!

Case in point: my haircut last Saturday. (actually I've already ranted on one add this one to it)

I went in asking for a few inches off, maybe an inch or two of layering, and side swept bangs.

This is what I got.

If I look like I was in shock its because I was.

What HAPPENED??? The stylist was so nice and chatty (the whole thing took two hours!) and REALLY wanted to "style" my hair. With a flat iron. I tell you...stylists canNOT keep those dang blasted flat irons away from my hair! She wanted to show me how to "curl" my hair with a flat iron. As she proceeded and I watched kinky, zigzagged curls come out, I had to force my mouth to stay closed and not drop open in horror.

I looked like Shirley Temple who stuck her finger in a socket by the time it was over. The picture doesn't even do the back justice where its cut very short in parts so the curls stuck up all over my head.

I proceeded to drive straight to the REI to walk into the store and let Matt laugh at me. He even suggested a scarf...or cover it up.

To make matters worse when I washed the curls out and finally saw what the cut looked like, I realized on the right side of my head I have a bob in the front and a mullet in the back. And about 4 inches of choppy layering. I miss you, Michelle Talbott, and your golden hair cutting fingers.

So when you read about these things, please don't think I'm complaining. Its life, and stuff like that is going to happen. At least I can take a picture or two and have you laugh at it with me, thus redeeming the situation.

But onto the wedding!

We last left off with a rather dull pre-wedding night for Kevin as Matt and I headed back to the B&B to crash in the heavenly king sized bed.

The wedding day dawned warm and overcast, with a few drizzles here and there. Matt and I ate breakfast downstairs with the other guests and chatted comfortably over thick french toast, crisp thick bacon and delicious muffins. Back upstairs, Matt really didn't want to be late. He was supposed to be there at 11 for the pictures. The other groomsmen were meeting up at Katie's parent's house, and then heading to to site.

"Matt," I said cajolingly, "Kevin is a SoCal guy, there's no way they'll be there exactly at 11." Nonetheless I packed up my makeup and nail polish and got in the passenger seat. Being only 10 minutes away from the site it didn't take long to get there, and with a quick peck Matt rushed off.

Thirty minutes later I was just finishing up applying mascara when a car pulled up beside me. In it was Kevin and the other groomsmen. I just laughed to myself and waved.

Having primped all I could stand I was ready to get out and explore the grounds.

The ceremony was held at the Mansion on Ridley Creek State Park, a lush area of rolling hills, old growth trees and trickling streams. Having foreseen a stroll around the grounds I had brought my trusty Rainbow sandals and cinching my trench coat over my gauzy dress against the drizzle I headed out.

The gorgeous Mansion...

Finally I realized that people were trickling in, so after wiping the grass and mud off my freshly manicured toes and donning my high heels, I headed inside.

The wedding had originally been planned as an outdoor wedding, but with the off and on again drizzle and rain they had to move it indoors to the banquet hall last minute. I felt so bad for Katie...having been a bride and planned everything down to the last detail and dreamed how it would be, I wondered how she was taking it.

When she entered and looked at Kevin there was absolutely no doubt. It didn't matter one bit. She was tearing up before she even got to the front. No sunny spring day could match the glow in that banquet hall during that ceremony.

Ok, so the black and white doesn't capture the glow but my insufficient camera wasn't up to the challenge so I had to turn to Photoshop for help...the camera got returned, incidentally...

While I was lost in the beautiful language of the marriage vows something caught my eye. My husband. He does that a lot, but usually in a good way.

Not this time.

While the other groomsmen stood respectfully with hands clasped in front or behind them, my Matt was leaning to one side, hands in his pockets, and chomping away at a piece of gum.

I widened my eyes and glared at him, trying to get him to look at me. He smiled at something in the ceremony and kept on chewing. I crossed my legs, hoping to get his attention. Nada.

In the broad aspect of things it didn't really matter, but it did to me. Giving him the best pre-mommy evil eye I could muster, I finally caught his eye and pointed to my mouth. He smiled.

SWALLOW IT, I mouthed.

I think he giggled and then did. And miraculously stood up and clasped his hands.

Matthew, darling, you know I love you, but please refrain from chewing gum while you are in the camera frame during people's weddings. The end.

Attention turned back to more important things at hand. Can I just say that seeing this young couple, so committed to the Lord, their passion for helping people working as a doctor and a nurse, and embracing each others families so whole heartedly was such a blessing! The ceremony was a testament to their pure love and what lay in their hearts.
After the ceremony the bridal party headed out to take pictures, and Katrina (one of the other groomsman's--Sam's--wife) and I followed along. She had a gorgeous digital SLR that made me salivate, and I had my brand new point-and-shoot that showed amazing photos on the LCD screen and so-so photos once they were downloaded. Thus armed we slunk behind the photographers, stealing their shots and getting a few impromptu ones in the meanwhile. Katrina's photos are fantastic, and if you want to see some real quality you can view her pics here.

Meanwhile I went on photoshop last night and had way too much fun.

This is Sam--Katrina's husband. Big burly man holding a bouquet = comedy.

This happy gent is my own.

The three stooges. Sam's lobster hands.
We don't know what was going on we just took pictures.

Ahh, here's a prettier sight.

I heart lens flare. Supposedly a photography no-no but I don't care.

We made our way into the banquet hall for the reception, where thankfully Katie and Kevin were thoughtful enough to have the significant others of the bridal part sit at the head table. After stuffing ourselves silly with good food and watching the well-composed and humorous slide show, everyone danced their booties off. Here's a few other key moments:

I wish I knew what he said right before she made this face...

During the slide show...

The Maid of Honor caught the bouquet...

Finally as we were headed out, Matt and I noticed the getaway car was lacking any embarrassing remarks painted across the windows! We couldn't let that slide...not after our car was so covered we had to wash the windows to see out before we left on our road trip! Every newlywed couple deserves honks from strangers!
Only thing was what would we use to paint with? Being a Girl Scout and always prepared, I whipped foundation. And an eyeshadow brush. And we wrote away!

Well folks, that's all, and probably plenty, for now! Next up...Matt and Kaitlynn are laid low by some mysterious flu and spend abundant time in their B&B room...exciting times...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Seatmate, Ethel.

Well that was quite the hiatus, wouldn't you say? My last post was nearly a month ago! Holey Moley!

During this last month the main event was our trip to Philly to go to the wedding of our friends Kevin and Katie. More on wedding stuff later, I know what you're really wanting to hear about are the hiccups along the way because that's what makes for funny narrative.

Let's start with the flight, shall we?

As Matt and I raced to the gate I let him check which gate we were boarding at. Once on the plane we had that weird feeling that we were on the wrong flight. First off our boarding passes had a different gate than what we had entered at. And then there was a lady sitting in our seat. After clearing things up with the flight attendant we were relieved we WERE on the right flight and not headed to Milwaukee.

I was slated to have the window seat, but I volunteered to sit in the middle seat being of smaller proportions than Matt, and so after explaining to Ethel (I never got her name, but we'll call her Ethel) that she was in our seat, we all got settled, me in between Matt an Ethel.

At first glance I thought Ethel was maybe in her early 70s. She told me she was coming back from an Alaskan cruise with her girlfriends (who were sitting across the aisle...with an empty seat). While the ladies across the aisle chattered away about Sudoku, Ethel promptly passed out with her mouth hanging wide open. Awww, how sweet.

A few minutes after takeoff she was awake, fidgeting around. Now, I have to say one of my pet peeves is people who get on a FIVE hour flight with absolutely nothing to do. There's no screens on the flight, so movies aren't an option. And so they SIT. And twiddle their thumbs. And tap their fingers. And stare at the back of the seat in front of them.

Drives me crazy. I want to hand them the in-flight magazine.

Ethel didn't bring anything to read. So Ethel fidgeted.

And took full advantage of the armrest and several inches of elbow into my ribs without noticing.

Finally the drink service came by. Ethel wanted coffee, and HALF a glass of tomato juice. After the ten minute discussion on how many packets of sugar and cream she needed, the flight attendant poured her a full glass of tomato juice.

"I only wanted HALF!" Ethel protested.

"Well, ma'am, you can drink half and throw the rest away," he responded nicely.

She huffed.

And the tomato juice lasted, reeking its processed lukewarm tomato-y-ness, for the rest of the flight.

At this point it was dark in the cabin and I, who'd had my light on the whole time to read, suddenly saw thrust into my field of vision a tiny watch inches from my face.

Um....I glanced at her. She was holding her watch up to my light to try to read it, completely oblivious to the fact it was inches from my face. Would she like me to turn on her light for her, I asked?

NO. She acted offended.

Ok, I shrugged.

Oomph. Another elbow in my ribs.

Ethel's fidgeting then was ratcheted up a notch. She fiddled with her seat belt. Looked up and down the aisle. Humphed. Growled. Puffed. She yanked again on her seat belt.

"Do you need help with the seat belt?"

"YES, how do you get this thing off?"

I undid it for her and she continued looking up and down the aisle. Finally an attendant walked by and she reached out and tugged his uniform. "Can I go to the bathroom now?"

The attendant responded in the affirmative and she began the process of getting up. Envisioning stinky tomato juice all over my jeans I offered to hold her glass for her, then as soon as she was in the bathroom I took my chance and rushed to get to and from the bathroom before she got back and we had to repeat the whole ordeal.

Settling back in, Ethel took possession of her tomato juice again and proceeded to tap her fingers and twitch and moan until the snack/dinner service came. After studying the menu for twenty minutes she placed her order and then (after shoving it inches from my face and into my light) was shocked to find it was salami and acted like it was the poor attendant's fault.

Ooomph. Elbow in my side again.

By this time my arms are beginning to hurt from staying as closely pinned to my sides as possible. Adjusting and losing my right armrest again to Matt I pleaded in a whisper, "Can I p-p-please have the armrest?" He was of course gentlemanly and I was able to relax a bit. Until I felt a head on my shoulder.

Ethel was now leaning far over into my seat with her head nearly on my shoulder. When I shifted a bit automatically she faced me and reared back with an open mouth in apparent shock. I heard Matt stifle a laugh. I opened my mouth...and closed it...not quite sure what to say.

The flight finally landed in Newark and as we got off the plane I muttered to Matt, "You OWE me mister!"

An hour later we finally found where our hotel shuttle was picking up, and were hanging on for our dear lives in the back of a minibus blasting offensive rap music. It now being past midnight, we checked in, dumped out bags off, dug out our dollar bills and dined on gummy snacks, vending machine crackers and a ginger ale.

Saturday morning we got back on the dangerous hotel shuttle, went back to the airport, picked up our rental car and were finally on the road towards Philadelphia. I have to say I preened that morning and was wearing a cute new dress and just looked like such the traveling jet setter...until I spilled my Starbucks mocha all down myself. God has a way of humbling the prideful, doesn't he?

We finally made it to Media, PA, the smaller town outside of Philly were we were staying at a Bed & Breakfast. Cutest place - a 300 year old stone barn with eclectic decor and the nicest people running it! After changing our of my mocha-laden dress we were off to Katie's parent's house to get Matt's tux and head to the rehearsal.

After hi's and hugs all around, Matt and I split off from the main group to get our first real meal in over 24 hours. A glass of wine, some gourmet pizza and a stroll around the mall left us uber-relaxed. Driving to the wedding site I got very very sleepy...

Though it was warm out, the sky was clouded over and it was sprinkling. They were slated for an outdoor wedding...let's hope they're flexible! I thought as I dozed in the car during the rehearsal. Trust me, they didn't want a grumpy Kait on their hands.

The rest of the evening was a fun mix of food and catching up with Matt's old college friends and remembering all the pranks they'd pulled. Like trying to steal the tiki hut, or throwing old computer monitors off the science building, or throwing squid on the gym floor after the first score was made at Homecoming. You know, harmless things like that.

After the rehearsal dinner we loaded up and went to Kevin and Katie's apartment in downtown Philly just off of State St., then to a pub where we were a wild and crazy group! Not. And yes that joke is old. We were the tamest group in drink and we were done!

The Groom...texting his Bride that we're a bunch of chumps I'm sure...

Sam & Katrina...who traveled the longest and had more energy than anyone else...

We look like strangers. We like each other...really we do!

I just want to title this one "The Conspirators."

Sorry we were such party poopers the night before your wedding, Kevin! We still had a good time!

I'll leave you there for now. Coming up next is the wedding with pics to boot!