You Might Be A Redneck If...

Last night while we were getting ready to eat I asked Luke to grab me a beer. He stood there looking at the fridge for a minute before he spotted them. When he handed it to me he said, "You might be a redneck if....you store your beer where your vegetables are supposed to go." I put the beer in the crisper because there was no other vacancy in the fridge.



I have posted a record number of new posts tonight. It is because my weekend was so unusually packed with exciting events. Pole dancing. Police. Jesus. Read on...

Reveling in Glory

Jazzy and Ricki - fugitive dogs

A few weeks ago I was a little bent out of shape because of the Patagonian Cavey found in Milwaukie by someone other than myself. You might recall that I lamented my lack of glory for finding and returning a variety of stray animals with little thanks from their owners.

Well today, my luck changed.

Tonight I saw two rottweilers running down our street. I hopped in my car with dog treats and a leash and chased them down. They were a little skittish but using a high pitched "come hither" voice I subdued them. I pulled back up to my house when my gardening neighbor said, "keep your eye out for two rottweilers- the cops are looking for them!" I told her I had them and she said I should call the police before their owners. Because they were WANTED by the police. Oooooh. I was so excited! I called the police and they showed up quickly, but they let me know there is really nothing they can do, they just wanted to make sure the dogs were no longer roaming the streets because they allegedly bit a neighbor boy a while back. [blogger's note: I REALLY wanted to take a picture of the cop in front of our house for my blog, but the officer declined the request for photos. just teasing, I was too chicken to ask.] So he told us to be careful with the dogs and drove away. No sirens or lights, but I'll take what I can get.

Now you might be thinking I should have been concerned for my own safety after hearing this, but no. I am just looking out for the stray pets of Milwaukie. Actually the dogs were very nice and gave me lots of doggy kisses. They weren't even a little bit scary.

So I called the number on the tags, and no one was home. I drove to the home that we thought they came from, and as I was pulling out a woman was pulling in. It was the mom of the man who lives there & owns these dogs. He was out of town for the weekend and she was keep an eye on the dog who had a fenced in yard, but apparently dug under the fence to escape today. She was SO SO SO grateful. She was so thankful that she hugged me. It was quite an ordeal to take the dogs back to their house & get them properly secured, but it was worth it. There was LOTS of glory. What a weekend. Sigh.

Patty's Second Shower

Patty's second and final bridal shower was today! We celebrated at my mother in law's house, because she is the aunt of my sister-in-law-to-be. The most exciting moment of the shower came when Patty announced that Jack is the Stayton Papa Murphy's Most Valuable Customer of the Month. I think that means that he orders Papa Murphy's pizzas more than anyone else in Stayton. Patty- I think that makes you MRS. Stayton Papa Murphy's Most Valuable Customer of the Month. Congratulations.

Dunk Tank for Jesus

I got baptized today! I have been a Christian for a long time but kept putting off baptism because I was too scared to get up in front of the entire congregation & share my God story. But at some point you've just got to do it, and so I asked Luke's dad to baptize me a few weeks ago. As luck would have it Luke's little sisters (Gillian, Naomee, & Alexee) and my nephew Richard wanted to be baptized too. We picked 4/27.

I am not much for public speaking. In college I took a public speaking class because it was required. But on the first day of class I realized that I had accidentally registered for public speaking ESL. That means English as a Second Language. whoops. I remained in the class because I don't think they could legally discriminate against me just because I'm EFOL (English as a First and Only language), and also because I know an advantage when I see one (they're not going to know if I am making words up). ANYHOW - I have been practicing my testimony over & over so that I would not panic. Mostly I was just worried I'd start crying- both because my faith is a personal and emotional thing and also because it crosses my mind to cry everytime I find myself in a jacuzzi with my father in law in front of a microphone and hundreds of people. Or maybe it is just a deeply rooted fear of the combined jacuzzi/microphone electrocution risk?

We all gathered in the baptism hall which shoots off the side of the stage at my church (Greater Portland Bible Church http://www.pdxchurch.org/) The collected baptisees (?) were all anxious and exhibiting nerves in a variety of ways. The younger four (Gill, Naomee, Lex & Richard) danced and clapped with the music. I tried hard not to lose my breakfast. Really though, it was a kick to get baptized with my littlest family members. They were SO excited. Richard told me he wasn't nervous because, "I do stuff like this a lot." Hmph. I think he was bragging a little bit. They all did awesome.

When it was my turn, I shared my testimony. The microphone did not fall into the pool to electrocute me but there was one semi-ghastly occurrence. Below is my testimony as I shared it this morning...

My best friend called me one night in eighth grade. Before she said anything else, she asked:

"If you died tonight would you go to heaven or hell?"

I answered, "heaven."

She asked again, "Are you really sure? Positive?"

To which I said, "yeah, I think so..."

But my feathers were ruffled and I was getting defensive. I was offended that she would call and challenge me because she knew I believed in God, and frankly I felt like I was more spiritual than she was. But she continued to tell me that she had found out that night at the youth group she had gone to that there is a way you can be totally positive you will go to heaven. She said that if I believe that God sent his Son to die for our sins, and if I repent from those sins, and if I ask Jesus to live in my heart, then I can know for SURE that I am saved.

We got off the phone that night and I talked to God for a really long time. It was the first time I'd heard about the "salvation prayer," and that night I prayed it.

---this is the point at which I started to cry a little, because what I was going to say next was really important to me. I tried to step back from the microphone but alas an involuntary snort/gasp/sob escaped me. whoops. It was not pretty. It was mostly a giant snort. The kind you hope to never make in public, much less into a microphone. Dick was so sweet- he just held me close to him while I caught my breathe, which happened pretty quick b/c that is the one thing snorts are really good for: getting a lot of air in your lungs... ---

Here is what I think is beautiful about my story. I probably would have heard about the salvation prayer later on in my life. But that was a night God orchestrated just for me- he gave my best friend the boldness and the courage to ask tough questions. And he gave his Son to me too- that I might be assured of my salvation. And I am.

Then Dick said, "Because of this profession of your faith I now baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." And I plugged my nose, he dunked me, and everyone clapped. It was a very cool thing, even if I did snort into a microphone in front of the entire congregation :)

Luke giving me a hug before I left to get my cool white baptism scrubs on.
Chris (Luke's brother) baptized their sis Gillian.
Chris baptizing his son, Richard.
Dick baptizing our littlest sis, Alexee
Dick baptizing Naomee

Me & Dick (pre-snort and pre-dunk)

A daddy's goal is to keep his daughter off the pole...

I know the title is crude and tasteless....but I couldn't help myself. For Patty's bachelorette party we did a pole dancing aerobics class. Perfectly harmless. No nudity, no boys, just good clean fun--- and decidedly slutty shoes.

Patty wore a boa & tiara veil to dinner. It looked like it had horns. hm.
Annie cat loved the boa and ate a feather.
Patty & CJ
Reina & Patty
Me & AshWhoa pole girls! Katie has pole skills. One less informed might suspect her to have previous training. But we know otherwise.

Cotswald Cheese

I am so pleased with the progress of my latest cheese that words fail me. So instead I'll just quote Deb from Napoleon Dynamite: "That was one that I think is gonna come out really nice."
Curds & whey, curds & whey, no spiders in my cheese today.
It has been aging for a week now, draining all excess whey and leaving a solid yellow brick of cheese.
See all the chives!??!


Physics, Algebra, and Cheese

In high school physics I learned that a roller coaster’s first peak is always the highest. It can never gain enough momentum to go that high again, so all subsequent peaks decrease in height. [bloggers note: because I endeavor (on most occasions) to publish an accurate blog, I validated this fact today on the internet--- also because some things I interpreted as fact in high school are probably worth revisiting…I was very impressionable, you understand.]

One might ask: “How does this law of physics apply to everyday life?”
For me it has two primary applications:

1. If you’re motion sensitive and experience severe panic and/or anxiety at the prospect of riding a roller coaster, take heart: if you can live through the first peak without puking you’ll probably hold your lunch for the duration.

2. The Stephens family has a heritage in two things that closely follow the physical patterns of roller coasters:
a) Hairlines: you hit a peak in your 20’s and recede after that
b) Hobbies: they hit hard and wane from there, with post-peak revivals which occur at decreasing enthusiasm and intervals typically associated with purchase of new equipment and/or insipient guilt for ones sizable investment followed by exponentially decreasing interest…..

….which brings me to another lesson I learned in high school algebra: Exponentially decreasing curves approach the x-axis (zero) but never intersect. This is like a metaphoric marriage of both high school lessons mentioned AND my experience in hobbies. See exhibit A below which ought to bring it all home…

All this to say...in regards to cheese making: I may have past the initial peak--- but intermittent revival in the hobby (cheese making) and project (Project plan A= stockpile enough cheese of high quality to warrant use as Christmas gifts for people I really like. Project plan B= stockpile enough cheese of low to medium quality to warrant use as Christmas gifts for people I sort of like) will turn out such creations as COTSWALD cheese. Cotswald is cheddar-like with the delicious addition of chives and onions. I made it yesterday and initial reports (by me) are promising the best cheese I've made to date.


I Wish I Found Him

Frequently I stop for stray or lost animals. My friend Sarah and, to some extent, my husband, are HIGHLY annoyed by this habit. I do it because I don't want the animal to get hurt, but secretly I do it for a little bit of glory also. Not that there is ever any glory to revel in! Here's a list of outcomes:

1. The one that got away: I tried to lure a very skinny and neglected german shepherd with cat food. He wore a collar with no tags and I imagined maybe he was far from his home- maybe from hood river or some place further, and maybe his family had been looking for him for like 2 years. Sadly I couldn't catch him- he was too skittish and ran away. poor fellow.

2. Baby- the small white dog I was trying to catch and then it ran into the road and got hit by a jeep. I picked it up and started to walk it home to take it to the vet (bleeding..not looking good) and miraculously his owner drove by- she was out looking for him. Baby was rushed to the vet with a broken pelvis and internal injuries. Last I heard they were bringing and orthopedic surgeon up from corvallis to fix him up.

3. Paco- the rat terrier I found and sheltered for 3 weeks. I searched diligently for his family -- surely they were besides themselves looking for Paco! No dice. After two unsuccessful adoption attempts I pawned him off on a girl from work who wanted him. phew.

4. Eskimo dog- stayed with me for a day. His family was not that excited to get him back. lame.

5. Luxor- nice rotty was roaming the sidewalk in the evening close to a busy intersection. Took him to a nearby house where he was identified & returned to the rightful owner, next door.

6. Goldy, the golden retriever. Out running up & down johnson creek. Lured her into the car like a creepy man in a van and took her home, she was quickly returned to her mom who was kind of grateful but not really worried that her dog had been on a dangerous escapade.

Anyhow- Not 3 miles from my house on Monday a boy saw this in the middle of the road.

They finally figured out it is an animal (a rodent) from Argentina- a Patagonian Cavey. He is super friendly and they lured him with apple chips. He snuggles and eats grass. He was returned yesterday to his rightful owner. There was press. Photos. Articles in the paper. Segments on the news. LOTS of glory plus an exotic animal. This could have been me, snuggling a rodent on the news. Sigh.


New Rug

Rugs went on sale at Cost Plus where:
a) I have gift cards from Christmas from Mom & Dad
b) I am in love with a rug
So we got our rug. I know this is a very lame thing to blog about. The dog loves it.


Life's a Laugh

When life gets you down or you find that your taking things too seriously, throw your head back, your feet up, and wiggle.

Jack & Patty: engagement pics

Today I took some enagement pics of jack & patty since they're only going to be engaged for 5 more weeks. I must say that jack was not a very willing subject, but patty's enthusiasm made up for it. Here are my favorites...

well...i gave the artsy thing a shot....

jack said like he felt like a stand up comedian against the brick wall

this is what jack does naturally, without any direction

We Are Siamese...If You Please

Annie's best siamese cat impression...

Patty's First Shower!

Naomee, Patty & Gillian

Mom & Ash
Patty & her friendsSonnie & Grama Jo

Patty had her first bridal shower on Friday! The shower was hosted by the Ross family on one of the sunniest most beautiful days of the year!


Winna Winna Chicken Dinna!

Luke & his Dad went to Seattle Friday night to compete in a charity poker tournament. LUKE WON! He beat 99 other people to win the grand prize, a trip for two to Vegas. VIVA LAS VEGAS! We're not sure when we're going but we are very excited. Also I vow never to complain about poker night(s) again. :)


Fan Mail

I suspect that a secret desire of all bloggers is that their blog becomes famous. So famous that you get comments from admirers that you've never met before singing the praises of your photojournalistic spreads and witty commentary. Or so famous that a movie producer calls and says: "Your life is amazing. You are so interesting that we'd like to do a little movie about you. You will be played by Reese Witherspoon who will likely need to drop some weight and have some enhancing cosmetic surgery to match your dashing good looks, and who will be directed by Steven Spielberg. Also, you will be paid hoards of money." However I think the highest honor is to get listed under the coveted "Blogs of Note" index in Blogger. It is the blog equivalent of having your name written on the bathroom wall (in a positive and non-crude context, and with no dirty drawings).

Anyhow- I am notified by email when people leave comments on my blog. If I'm not at work the email goes to my blackbery. I am not as popular as, oh, say, "mmm...Peaby," but I tell myself that I have a shy, comment-averse audience. A LARGE audience, I tell myself, just on the shy side.

So I'm at home this weekend when I see the following comment left on my blog. The blackberry makes it look cryptic, but from what I can decipher it says this:
"Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the MP3 e MP4, I hope you enjoy. A hug."

I was so flattered! I interrupted Luke (playing a video game) to announce: I HAVE FANS.
I know it sounds vain, but that is what I said. Luke rolled his eyes and said: IT MIGHT BE A STALKER. DON'T RESPOND.
I am shamed to say this, but I was a little thrilled to consider that possibility. I wasn't thinking sick/deranged/dangerous stalker- more like an "admirer." It didn't play though- the message didn't seem stalkerly. Furthermore there was a weird hyperlink in the message and I was curious to see the profile of this fan.

As I logged onto blogger I realized the hyperlink was from a brazilian website. This brought even more joy. An INTERNATIONAL fan! And that explains the "hug" thing (maybe they are from a more affectionate blog-culture) and broken english. Maybe it also explains the inconsistent use of smiley faces. Equals sign =) or colon for eyes :) ? Make up your mind. Anyways...

Sadly when I got to their (his? her?) blog, I had the sinking realization that I had NOT received fan mail, rather a "spomment" (spam comments- i just made that up, but you can use it if you want). Left by someone who only wants more blog traffic and resorts to blog-flattery to get it. They never really thought my blog was interesting. They did not intend to wish me genuine congratulations. Well let me tell you, it was a little bit like getting dumped before you even go on a first date. Which, by the way, actually happened to me in 8th grade. sigh.

On the upside, if you were looking for a cool brazilian mp3 blog/advertisement site, I have saved you hours of fruitless google searching. Check out: http://mp3-mp4-brasil.blogspot.com/


"Faker, Faker, Bellyacher."

All last week I felt kinda crappy. Two days I couldn't even finish my workout. And nothing says "sick" like sweating enough to have to shower but not enough to justify a pizza dinner. That's a pisser. So Thursday I left work early, stayed home Friday. By Sunday my side hurt so bad I went to immediate care and waited for two enjoyable hours before being seen briefly by a doctor who touched me twice and declared I needed to get to the ER ASAP. He said if I looked like I was in more pain he'd have me taken by ambulance. Make that the waaahhmbulance. Drawn by the possibility of some Grey's Anatomy-esque docs, I agreed and went home to get my husband. Luke drove me to the hospital in Oregon City with vials of my blood the doc had given me to take to their lab. My blood was in a little baggy with a biohazard sign on it. It felt novel but a little over the top- I was in pain, sure, but not debilitating.

We get all the way to Oregon City, and it is about 1 pm. I am starving, but not allowed to eat or drink. We get to the diagnostics & imaging department where they suggest a CT scan. There are some side effects though, and it just seems a little odd to do a CT scan before the blood work is even back. We decide to wait on the blood work. Recall, I am starving. Luke is starving too, and we get back in the car so he can get a burger from dairy queen. For my benefit he told me it was a very bad and not so tasty burger. Sigh.

We get back to the hospital and find out that my white blood cells are not so elevated. Immediate care doctor says we should have the scan done - he thinks I have appendicitis. We aren't so sure though- no fever, no high blood cells, it doesn't feel right. So we go home. This is what immediate care dr calls "declining treatment." Please. He made me feel bad and I cried in the grocery store where I was getting more powerade. Mean guy. Luke's getting movies and we get back in the car and go home. And since I'm not having the CT scan I had McDonalds fries and nuggets. Hmph. It helped.

Later that evening, around 9, I get a fever and it is almost 103. So back to the ER we go. This time to Milwaukie Providence, and alas, no hot doctors there either. Which is fine because I look SUPER nasty and also my husband is with me. They think my appendix is bursting and so I got to cut in front of everyone else there and all this attention without even a hint of the theatrical weeping and groaning I was prepared to exhibit in order to avoid a lengthy wait. We get our own little room and I get a sexy gown (if you don't think hospital gowns are sexy then you've never stood behind ME wearing one) and a SHARED bathroom. "Shared" means that the room next to you has an adjoining bathroom door. Adjoining bathroom doors means when you are in the bathroom performing the pee-in-the-cup feat, you should take care to LOCK BOTH DOORS. I didn't realize this and did not lock both doors. I didn't get walked in on, but I'm just saying- be cautious of this arrangement next time you're at the hospital.

Anyhow, a kind nurse takes pity on me because I am shivering and brings me warm blankets. Ahhhh. Finally my doctor comes in and starts poking me up and down my stomach and back. We tell him about the earlier drama, and he is shocked to find that my pain is by NO MEANS in my appendix! My yelps of pain (and these were not enhanced by any dramatic effort, I assure you they were genuine) are for my KIDNEY. He declares me to have pus in my kidney, which is a kidney infection, and off I go with antibiotics. No appendix issues after all. My husband calls me "faker faker bellyacher" but he is also cleaning the kitchen and [gasp] doing laundry, so he is taking very good care of me. After nearly a week of laying in bed I will be back at work tomorrow. And with my little appendix right where it belongs :)