Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pink Ribbon Pandemic

I found this article on today, and I have to say it is wonderfully written! My childhood pastor died from pancreatic cancer, so I connected to the story in a personal way.

This topic is rarely broached, and I thought this article presented the situation in a positive and balanced way.

Check it out!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Leading Men

A particular male cousin of mine often accuses me of “reverse sexism.” In other words, sometimes I objectify, group, and stereo-typify men in such a way that I, myself, might protest if done to women. Well, today is one of those days. So if you are male, I would suggest you might want to stop reading at this point. Because, although I plan on being respectful and courteous, I’m about to talk about men as objects.


OOOA (yeah!)

Recently, a friend and I were discussing a particular TV show. She mentioned to me one of the men on the show was (to quote her) “hawt.” This was a revelation to me, since I had seen this show and the word that came to mind was not “hawt,” but “old.”

And then I got to thinking…I’m old.

Well, I’m 30, anyway, and the leading men of my generation are not the same as the cute, metrosexual young men of Hollywood today.

Still, I will always feel warmth and affection for the then choirboy-faced Ralph Macchio as he crane-kicked his way into my heart. Or Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s preppy Zach as he pined for cheerleader Kelly. Or Luke Perry’s rebel Dylan, the swoon-worthy 90210 leading man, whose poster adorned many a locker, even in my conservative Christian school.

My friend with the hawt detective grew up a generation slightly ahead of mine, and her detective graced the 80’s with his suave moves and ruggedly handsome face. Another 80’s friend regaled me with stories of her leading man, Rick Springfield, who I had never heard of.

For a long time, I thought she meant Bruce Springsteen who I had (at least) heard of.

Another friend confirmed Mr. Springfield’s hawtness (if you will), and I began to realize we all have leading men in our own generation.

Those men who remain in our minds, forever adored, thanks to memorable roles in music, movies and television shows. Men who defined the awaking realization of our own unique girlhood.

The first moment your heart leaped into your chest, the first name you scrawled on your notebook, the first kissing dream you had. The moments that still make you squeal inside. That voice, that smile, that knowing tip of the head.

I remember the first time when Christian Slater’s Will Scarlett broke through the brush after being unjustly imprisoned and screamed -

“It was your anger that drove them apart! It's not a lie! You ruined my life! I have more reason to hate you than anyone. But I found myself daring to believe you. What I want to know brother, is will you stay with us and finish what you've started?”

Hold on. Wait. Okay. *fans self*

Back on topic.

All in good fun, what I want to know is...what leading man do you still remember from your generation and for what role?

(P.S. – I love my husband, and he completely knows about and understands my Christian Slater/Will Scarlett obsession. And apparently, he’s still hot over someone named Kelly McGillis?)

Back to the Will Scarlett fantasy still in progress…

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bunnies in Boats

I cleaned the bunny areas in our house last night.

I spent over three hours vacuuming the carpet floor, scrubbing the tile floor, cleaning litter boxes, rearranging favorite towels, and creating mazes out of sturdy cardboard boxes. I shook the old towels and threw them in the laundry. I washed food and water bowls and filled them.

When I got done, I was covered in bunny fluff and smelled like fresh bunny pee. I looked like a spastic colon and was sore all over.

I stood by the bunny gate and looked at the newly clean rooms. There were my bunnies, cuddled together, tuckered out after chasing each other through all the new nooks and crannies.

Kneeling on the floor, I started to pet them and smiled when they nudged each other closer into my hands. I buried my head in their velvety fur and was rewarded by the soft grinding of bunny teeth (the bunny equivalent of purring). I gently rubbed noses and cheeks and petted flanks and ears. I breathed in the fresh butterscotch smell of happy bunnies.

As I showered later, I found myself grinning and thanking God for making me a bunny mom. It was a small moment that reminded me how very fortunate I am.

With this revelation so prominent in my mind, I ask you to check out this new rabbit book. Each sale benefits the House Rabbit Society and helps save more bunnies like the precious three who occupy my house and my heart.

It’s a little book that makes a BIG difference. Bunnies in Boats will touch your heart and more than half of each book sale goes to support programs at HRS, plus a tree is planted for each book sold!

here to go to the website, read a page, and see what other bunny lovers are saying.

Here’s a mini-review:

“I loved this book! Reminds me of ‘Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah’ by Richard Bach - one of my favorite ‘Johnny Appleseed’ books of all time… (those are books I buy several copies so that I can hand them out when I find someone who I feel might appreciate the message).”

John P. Rourke

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Top Ten…

…things to say if you’re caught sleeping at your desk:

#10 "They told me at the Blood Bank this might happen."

#9 "This is that 15 minute power nap they raved about in the time management course you sent me to."

#8 "Whew! Guess I left the top off the Whiteout. You probably got here just in time."

#7 "I wasn't sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new business strategy."

#6 "I was testing my keyboard for drool resistance."

#5 "I was doing a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve work-related stress. Are you discriminatory toward people who practice Yoga?"

#4 "Darn! Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out how to handle that big accounting problem."

#3 "Did you ever notice sound coming out of these keyboards when you put your ear down real close?"

#2 "Who put decaf in the wrong pot?!?"

And the NUMBER ONE best thing to say if you get caught sleeping at your desk...

#1 Raise your head slowly and say, " Jesus' name, Amen."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Prince

He watches me stumble, watches me fall.

Starts laughing out loud, a horrible, hideous shrieking sound.

I watch his handsome features dissolve. His skin burns, blisters, and breaks off.

He kicks me then with horse’s hooves.
I roll over, spitting bile. Hiding my eyes, I’m so reviled.

Bruised and beaten, bloodied heathen.

Before me, he transforms. His shoulders hunch, hair sprouts along his haunches. Bushy, scratchy mane appears. Fangs long and white, to predator’s sharpened point.

I stare the bedeviled lion before me, tosses his head and roars triumphant. Cowering and broken, I pull myself away. Head lowered, expecting to be devoured.

I cry and hope help has not abandoned me.

The chime sounds then - soft at first - builds to clanging in the void I occupy. The darkness clears, and light blinds my weakened eyes. I peer out in pain, my head turned, seeking the lion. And my death.

There is no lion.

The white around me seeps. In front, in red, a spitting cobra sits.

Serpentine in movement, no mistaking his wrath, he spits his poison inches from my person.

I turn to run, to flee. But the poison puddles and forms translucent colors.

I find myself transfixed and inching forward. The poison flows toward me in drops, and drips, and rainbows. The sweet smell of ecstasy so close within my grasp, I reach my fingers toward it, distracted. The cobra’s eyes slant in anticipation.

My fingers’ a hairbreadth length away, when once again, that deafening sound surrounds my space.

I snatch my fingers back and clamp my hands about my ears. The cobra hisses again. But the sound does not reach me.

I turn my head away and see what I’ve been missing. So close, so far away.

I find myself standing. I begin to turn my head, but see I am moving by no power of my own. I begin to run - the cobra, the lion, nipping at my heels. My feet no longer touch the ground. For one second, I fear the worst.

I realize I’ve been lifted and drawn in towards the light.

He greets me in silence. In love. I read my Rescuer’s story, in his wounds at hand and foot. Not surprised, though disappointed, His child again wandered after warning.

We stare together at the ground. Slithering snake is prostrate, frantically hunting escape.

I wish my Father’s wrath released upon my captor, but He shakes His head towards me, and whispers the words.

“Just wait.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nature Hates You and Wants to Hurt You

Well, I’ve been proven right! Don’t hug a tree; it might stab you in the back.

Or in our case, the hand.

Yesterday, my mom called me from a Door County area hospital. She and Gary are vacationing there and staying with a dear Christian woman. In exchange for the generous free lodgings, Mom and Gary wanted to do some chores around the woman’s house.

One such chore involved Gary standing on a ladder and sawing away at errant tree limbs. Mom stood beneath the ladder, holding on to steady it. As the saw chewed through one branch, it fell to the ground and bounced back up to where Mom was standing. It slashed through the skin and tore through the tender skin between Mom’s thumb and forefinger.

At first, Mom didn’t know anything was wrong. Then Gary and their host began to stare at Mom, as her hand bled “like a war wound.” Mom has the pain threshold of a stoic Stoic. Still, her hand wouldn’t stop bleeding.

So, they ended up in the emergency room where Mom received 5 dissolvable stitches and twelve ugly above-the-hand stitches. The doctor told her it was amazing she hadn’t severed any tendons.

Mom and Gary were also disappointed to learn Mom would have to wear a sling. Mom was also given strict orders to do “nothing,” which under normal circumstance might be nice, but not when you’re up in Door County to go bike riding and cherry picking.

So, Mom called me again this afternoon, from a clinic, where her dressing was changed. The good news is there is no sign of infection (with the wound coming from a tree branch there was some concern). The bad news is that, besides the huge slash on Mom’s hands, two of her fingers are grossly swollen. The clinic tech told her that the fingers are “traumatized.”

“Me, too,” Mom joked.

The doctor told Mom she can have the stitches taken out the Monday after next. She’s also still in the sling and drugged up on pain meds, as some of the pain finally seeped through her armor.

“Mom, I’m SO sorry,” I told her over the phone. “I know you guys were looking forward to this trip.”

Then she proved she is the woman I have always loved and admired.

“It’s okay,” she assured me. “At least they have the Hallmark channel.”

Atta girl, Mom! Nothing’s quite as bad if you can watch Christy to dull the pain.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Her Humble Highness

I received this thank you note from my grandmother after her 91st birthday.

Dear Ann-Marie,

I’m so glad you could come to my birthday bash. It was awesome; your mother did such a good job.

Your presence lit up the place, and your poem was well done.

Perhaps just a wee bit exaggerated?

God bless you.

Grandma Rehfeldt

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Orange You Glad

Now, this post actually does have something to do with cooking!

My cousin Colleen went to the trouble of tracking down Grandma’s Orange Cookie Recipe which I referenced in my recent tribute. These cookies are legend in our family and have been at almost all of our family events. They are wonderfully citrusy and still a very hearty cookie. The orange frosting is what really makes them delicious.

Head on over, and check it out!

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Good Time to Be a Girl

Working for the Girl Scouts is much like working for any other company.

As in any office, you never know what you are going to find on the community lunch table. On occasion, there will be doughnuts, bagels, or pumpkin bread. Unlike most other offices, there is also a ready supply of Girl Scout Cookies.

The difference, of course, is that the employees in my office stay away from those particular cookies.

It’s not that they aren’t delicious or a wonderful quality food product. It’s just that we are so overexposed to them during the year, they lose all mystery. Frankly, after 8 years, I can’t look at a Thin Mint without going a little cross-eyed.

We serve Girl Scout Cookies at meetings, bring them to community events, and (I, especially) hand them out for public relations events.

But it wasn’t cookies I found on the lunch table today.

Someone must have been cleaning out their home library and brought in the rejects for recycled reading. Sitting primly atop the table was the 1947 Cookbook for Beginners (Cooking for Brides) by Dorothy Malone.

Curious, I picked it up and within minutes was laughing uproariously.

I suppose the…gender notions…found in this book were commonplace in 1947, but by today’s standards they seem unbelievably sexist, and (honestly, I found them) a little quaint. Kind of sweet, actually. Still sexist, though. Really, really sexist.

Reviews from the back of the book:

“Whether you are a bride or a seasoned spouse, here is a volume to convince you that cooking is a pleasure rather than a necessary evil.”

“The bride who reads Mrs. Malone will want to start her kitchen career upon laying down the book.”

Table of Contents:

The Beginner Dons Her Kitchen Apron – and prepares to cope with three good meals a day. She puts on her beruffled apron and checks her kitchen equipment, the staple closet, the spice corner, and the emergency shelf. She learns about measurements, too, and gets a beginner’s view of quantities.

Rise and Shine, It’s Breakfast Time – Attractively dressed and nicely complexioned, the beginner deals with simple breakfasts, produced with ease and confidence. Sunday brunches are also dealt with, as the beginner progresses from the elemental breakfast to slightly more complicated dishes. Which dishes, it will be noted, double handsomely for Sunday night snacks, lunches for unexpected guests, and after-the-movie tidbits.

The Foreword: (This is a little long, but absolutely priceless, and well worth the read.)

We find it startling to note that the girls who boast proudly of their ability to cook are getting scarcer and scarcer. It’s a sad indictment of our sense of values, for every woman ultimately knows that a well-cooked meal is a triumph of creative talent, a potent and insidious lure to the suitors on whom she is casting a speculative eye, and a most excellent adornment, eventually, to a happy marriage.

It’s fun to cook! It’s a great thrill to produce a luscious spicy apple pie which is eaten to its last flaky crumb, or an old-fashioned strawberry shortcake tumbled with crimson berries and smothered under snowy whipped cream. It’s an even greater thrill to watch the light of admiration that creeps into an ardent swain’s or perhaps a young husband’s eyes when he realizes that he has snatched a very jewel from the matrimonial mart, and that he will be well and delightfully fed all the days of his life!

It takes intelligence to be a good cook. It’s the intelligent cook who will have nothing to do with “good plain food,” but who specializes in “simple food” which is cooked with imagination, seasoned with a flair, and served with charm. It’s the intelligent cook who realizes it is a rich privilege to minister to the well-being of a family.

In this little book you will find the ways and means of mastering the fine art of cooking. Please note that we have scaled the recipes, in the main, to feed two. Knowing, however, that you will be seized with a compelling urge to show off the exciting results of your kitchen adventuring. We have included two chapters entitled “Entertaining” and “Specialties of the House” in which the recipes will feed 6 to 8.

May your culinary laurels grow greener with the years. You’ll never wear prouder honors.

But my absolute favorite (so far) has to be:

Chapter 1 – The Beginner Dons Her Kitchen Apron
You may have been the most popular deb of the season. You may be the most up-and-coming ‘Career Girl’ of the business world. You may be a very paragon of charm and unselfishness and sweetness, and a threat to the bachelor status of any man able to recognize a paragon when he sees one. But you can’t be a cook without a cookbook – and experience.

This book is written, therefore, for the day when, in the natural sequence of events, your thoughts turn to domesticity, to ruffled plastic aprons and parsley, to – eventually – a home of your own.

Gosh, I’ve never been so glad to be a girl!

In 2008.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Do you remember that sad story I posted recently about the rabbit theft, mutilation, and senseless death?

Good news.

They caught the guys who did it.

Names Needed

One huge advantage to having a BRAND NEW LAPTOP (Thanks, Mom!) is the increased ability to work on my books. My favorite thing to do in my spare time is to shape characters and advance storylines.

I almost always base my characters on real people, using their actual names, until I can come up with replacement names. Finding replacement names has frequently been a hard thing for me. I’ve identified so strongly with the characters by that time; it feels wrong to change their name.

In some ways, it’s easier when a character is pure fiction. Recently, I created a personal servant for one of my main characters. She’s a young girl, about 14 years old, and is unusually mature for her age. Her name came to me in an instant. She arrived fully formed and named in my mind.

I remember when I was first working on Gangland. My main character was based on Larry, my cousin’s friend from middle school. He was an imposing character, a tall and muscled African-American.

When my friend Carleen (and impromptu editor) read over my character list, she said, “You cannot name this guy ‘Larry.’ Everyone is going to think of ‘Larry the Cable Guy,’ and picture some redneck driving a pick-up truck. His name has to be strong. It has to inspire fear.”

I agreed I couldn’t name him Larry, but I fought for Lawrence. She thinks I need to keep looking.

My latest project has brought another round of name changing. Currently, I’m searching for a name that can also be used as a title. In the story, a young man has just come to power as the dictator of a large region. Only a select few will use his given name. The rest of the world will refer to him as…

I wanted to stay away from anything so cliqued as King So-and-so, and since this is set in the future, I also wanted to introduce new groups and titles. So, I looked up baby names that include “king” in the meaning.


Does anyone have a preference? I need input. Arkin makes me think of Adam and Alan Arkin, both good actors, but neither quite young or kingly. Basileus and Boldizsar both sound commanding and different, but I fear may be too Lord of the Rings-ish. I was drawn to Kyser, but immediately thought of Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects.

If it helps, this young dictator is 19-22 years of age, medium height, with dark hair and brown eyes. He’s muscular in a lean and healthy way and has the charisma of a natural leader, with hidden facets of youthful anxiety and mischief.

The last time I asked for advice, I got a great new name – Kole – for one tough character. So I thought maybe lightning could strike twice.

Suggestions appreciated.

* photo is of actor Wes Bentley