Thursday, April 30, 2009

Build-A-What? Workshop

Maxine Clark is an undisputed retail genius. 

Who, you ask, is Maxine Clark? Well...she is the creator of the astonishingly successful Build-A-Bear Workshops. She had an original idea with serious potential and she set out to make her dream a reality! Obviously, she made the right choice and she is now head of one of the fastest growing retailers in the world and one of the wealthiest women alive.

However...and this probably won't surprise those of you who know me...I have a better idea. No really!
What if I took this concept and combined it with the e-Harmony mentality (you know..."find the perfect match for you"), creating the opportunity for each of us to tailor our men to exact specifications? What could be more lucrative than a "Build-A-Man-Workshop"??!! For those who are less picky, we could provide a version with some standard features and only a few options. For the harder to please among us, we could Build-A-Man from the ground up!

Just imagine:

Let's see...make him about 6'4" if you would.

I'll take the Scott Rolen legs...

The Matthew McConaughey torso...

Oh...and there...definitely the Mike Matheny head.

But...make those eyes brown, would you?

And ...uh...sprinkle a little George Clooney salt and pepper into that hair.

Ooh...and those Danny Gokey glasses. Suhweeeet.

But say, Girls, we're not shallow enough to think it's all about the looks, are we? We could also select special skills and abilities.

He can sing, play guitar, quote poetry, discuss literature, debate theology, loves jazz & opera, get the idea.

Personality: Dignified & sophisticated? prefer the rowdy, boisterous type. Or the silent, rugged problem. Maybe...just maybe we could even produce a version that only talks when you pull the string and whose vocabulary is limited to phrases such as: "Yes, dear." "How may I be of service to you?" "Anything you want, darlin'" etc.

AND...!! Here's where it gets really good. You can even pick his wardrobe.

Like your man in a suave Italian suit? How 'bout those linen khakis? Wranglers, boots & cowboy hat? Or maybe you're into the wife-beater look.'s your choice.

I seriously think I'm onto something here! I mean...wouldn't YOU come in and Build-A-Man?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Morning in Mayberry

Tuesday is grooming day at our house. Since Riesa doesn't go to "school", it's the day I set aside for her maincure, pedicure, and any other necessary maintenance. As is true with any activity involving Riesa, I never know what to expect. Some days we complete the routine without incident. Some days she's not in the mood and she spends the entire day miffed at me for bein' all up in her personal space.

Today, however, was a whole new experience. For some reason, maincures and pedicures make Riesa really nervous. I don't know if she's been knicked one too many times or what, but she really isn't crazy about me messin' with her...especially her feet. I often find myself creating a new way to divert her attention so she'll relax and let me take care of business. That was completely unnecessary this time as she created her own unique diversion. We took an unexpected trip into Mayberry.

You see, when I needed to work on her right foot, she would pat her right leg and talk to it: "Andy, you better listen to Riesa. Put it right over there. Now....leeeave it there." (indicating the place I needed her foot to be) And when I needed her left foot, she would call that leg "Barney" as she instructed it what to do. "It's OK, Barney. She's not hurt you. Be veeeeeery careful." She did this repeatedly, commanding or consoling them throughout the process...and it's a LOOOONG process! Anyway...I don't know where this came from, but it was highly entertaining for me and too good not to share.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Long Time Coming

I'm sure you're all thrilled to know that The Snooty Cook has returned from a lengthy sabbatical.

This mushroom wine sauce, another of my "grand" experiments (you remember...the "Hey, I'm having company. Why not serve something I've never made before...and why not skip the recipe thing and just make it up as I go?" thing), turned out better than I had hoped...and I don't think I've EVER said that about one of my personal creations! Here's hoping I wrote it down correctly as I made it. It was the perfect complement to Filet Mignon, Roasted Asparagus and Garlic-Chive Mashed Potatoes.

Portabella Wine Sauce

4 x-large portabella mushrooms, roughly diced
1 1/2 T. minced garlic
Bacon grease from 6 slices

Stir in:
1 c. beef boullion broth
1/3 c. soy sauce
2/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 c. port (I used Mt. Pleasant)

Boil for 3-4 minutes to reduce slightly. Then whisk in a mixture of:

2 T. cornstarch
1/3 c. water
Boil until thick enough to coat a spoon.

Enough sauce for 6-8 servings.

This can be prepared 1-3 days in advance and heated just before serving.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Psalm 130

Psalm 130

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Yahweh.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If thou, Yahweh, shouldst mark iniquity,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee
That thou mayest be feared.
I wait for Yahweh. My soul doth wait,
And in his Word do I hope.
My soul waits for Yahweh more than the watchmen for the morning;
Yes, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, trust in Yahweh!
For with Yahweh there is lovingkindness
And with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

This is my most recent memorization (remember my resolution?), but I'm not in this one alone. My friend, Joanie, who publicly declared (on this very blog) her desire to memorize a Psalm, is working on it too!

Gloriae Dei Cantores sings a stunningly beautiful version of this Psalm on their album "Thou Art My Refuge." This entire album was introduced to me by my blogosphere friend, Angie Brennan, and has been a tremendous source of comfort and strength the last 8 months. I highly recommend it! Because the lyrics aren't metrical, but word for word, it's a great way to memorize the Psalms without even realizing you're doing it! Check 'em out on i-Tunes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Hope of the Resurrection

Never has the reality of the resurrection been more promising to me than it is today. I was privileged to spend Easter Sunday afternoon with part of my family at my sister, Pam's, house.
The day was filled with gut-wrenching moments, including our first look at Jeffrey upon his arrival. Though it had only been a week since I had last seen him, the deterioration was remarkable and none of us could hold back the tears. The pictures don't accurately portray the weakness and decay that is so evident face-to-face.

Mom & Dad, Sister Pam, Brothers Richard & Jeffrey & Me
Bless his heart - he awakened already tired, but forced himself through a routine which most of us take for granted, but which has become a rigorous exercise for him...he showered, shaved, dressed, walked to the car and then into Pam's house, where he sank into a chair to recover from the exertion.

Being the thoughtful guy he is, he made more than one attempt to eat the food that was served to him, but the appetite (another of those functions we all take for granted) just wasn't there. After dinner, I sat on the sofa with him for quite some time and couldn't help but notice his short, shallow breathing and his occasional painful winces. But he endured our conversation, our laughter, our singing, and our questions with his typical grace...even stopping to wonder aloud if his wife was OK. Dawnn was tearful in front of us for the first time yesterday and spent a good deal of the afternoon talking and crying with the midst of all that Jeffrey is feeling, physically and emotionally, he was concerned about her.
He is the walking embodiment of the word perseverance. The man never complains and he continues to defy expectations. The doctor said that if any of us were taking the amount of medication he is, we'd be in a coma! Yet here he is, still walking in and out of our houses and accomodating our desire to just be with him for hours upon end.
When Jeffrey left to go see Dawnn's family, we pretty much had a collective emotional collapse. As we watch death overtake his body - and I'm not trying to "sound" IS dramatic - each of us is forced to contemplate all sorts of truths, both profound and simple, about life in general, life as it plays out day by day, and the truths we confess.
The confession of Christ's resurrection keeps us from grieving without hope. We know that he will, in the end, set everything right. All things will be fully restored! Those who have fallen asleep in Christ will experience the reuniting of their bodies & souls into a glorified humanity, fully united to Christ, and free from the constraints of the curse.
Thanks be to God.
The Lord is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Hymn of Easter

Believe it or not, I can't say it any better than our esteemed brother, Martin Luther, so I will let his hymn communicate the power and joy of the resurrection.

Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bands
For our offenses given;
But now at God's right hand he stands
And brings us life from heaven;
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Glad songs of alleluia!

No son of man could conquer death,
Such mischief sin had wrought us,
For innocence dwelt not on earth
And therefore death had brought us
Into thralldom from of old
And ever grew more strong and bold
And kept us in his bondage.

But Jesus Christ, God's only Son
To our low state descended;
The cause of death he has undone,
His power forever ended.
Ruined all his right and claim;
And left him nothing but the name,
His sting is lost forever.

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life adn death contended;
The victory remained with life,
The reign of death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith
That death is swallowed up by death
His sting is lost forever.

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree -
So strong his love! - to save us.
See, his blood doth mark our door;
Faith points to it, death passes o'er,
And Satan cannot harm us.

So let us keep the festival
Whereto the Lord invites us;
Christ is himself the joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By his grace he doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of death is ended.

Then let us feast this Easter day
On Christ, the Bread of Heaven;
The Word of grace hath purged away
The old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed,
He is our meat and drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Kyrie Eleison: Lord, Have Mercy

Solemn Reproaches of the Cross

A meditation and prayer for Good Friday

O my people, O my church, What have I done to you,

or in what way have I offended you? Answer me.

I led you forth from the land of Egypt

and delivered you by the waters of baptism,

but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Lord, have mercy on us.

I led you through the desert for forty years, and fed you with manna:

I brought you through tribulation and temptation,

and gave you my body, the bread of heaven,

but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Lord, have mercy.

What more could I have done for you that I have not done?

I planted you, my chosen and fairest vineyard,

I made you the branches of my vine:

but when I was thirsty, you gave me vinegar to drink

and pierced with a spear the side of your Savior,

and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O Lord, forgive us our sin.

I went before you in a pillar of cloud,

and you have led me to the judgment hall of Pilate.

I scourged your enemies and brought you to a land of freedom,

but you have scourged, mocked, and beaten me.

I gave you the water of salvation from the rock,

but you have given me gall and left me to thirst,

and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord.

I gave you a royal scepter, and bestowed the keys to the kingdom,

but you have given me a crown of thorns.

I raised you on high with great power,

but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Lord, have mercy.

I sent the Spirit of Truth to guide you,

and you close your hearts to the Counselor.

I pray that all may be one in the Father and me,

but you continue to quarrel and divide.

I call you to go and bring forth fruit,

but you cast lots for my clothing,

and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Lord, forgive us our sins.

I came to you as the least of your brothers and sisters;

I was hungry and you gave me no food,

I was thristy and you gave me no drink,

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,

naked and you did not clothe me,

sick and in prison and you did not visit me,

and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Holy God, God of love, have mercy upon us.