Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Party Faced West

If you know me at all, you know that to some extent I've internalized the narrative of the American West. It probably started with The Cabin Faced West, a book about some pioneers who built their cabin facing the frontier so that in case Providence or the neighbors should think they'd pack their wagons and head back toward the Mississippi, one look at the cabin would set them straight. If there isn't exactly a frontier anymore (other than Space, and what fun is that?), there's consolation in things like country music, square dancing, and good books. If you read TOO many books, of course, you won't be able to talk about the West or write a blog about your birthday party without thinking about American Exceptionalism, grand narratives, and the ups and downs of Fredrick Jackson Turner's thesis.

("In the implementation of an egalitarian social structure based on the leveling impact of the frontier and the development of political cognates to frontier existence, an American national identity emerges. In arguing that "the advance of American settlement westward explain American development," Turner equates the American character with the frontiersman and explains its uniqueness in terms of pragmatism, labor, and a materially-based existence. Life on the frontier altered the European conventions brought over and shaped new patterns of behavior that allowed the people in wilderness lands to subsist, coexist, and, ultimately, profit. Those practices which benefitted these small social units and subunits most were written into the larger narrative of American practice and identity."
In case you were wondering.)

Anyway. Birthday party.

Aubrey and Diana and Valda planned and co-hosted a fantabulous western themed birthday party for me Friday night! We dressed the part and listened to enough Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton to keep me happy for a while. I hope you enjoy these pictures...I'd like to say that I'm supposed to be a part time stage-coach robber, but none of these pictures really show the outfit to it's full bandit potential. Have to run to a bus! Will put the photos in a more sensible order later. :) ta ta.
Valda serves up some enchilades, homemade by Diana. Those girls were sneaky: they got mom to find out what I'd want for a birthday dinner "If I were home" and used her recipe!

He's pretty convincing in this getup, don't you think!?

It was nice to have friends from different circles chatting it up. I had hoped my bosses could come, but alas, the kids were cranky and had to go to bed. I wonder sometimes if they believe me when I tell them about various friends and what I'm doing/where I'm going. I tell them the truth, but as far as they know I could be making it all up. The party would have been a good opportunity to verify the existence of almost everything I've ever told them. Somehow I think it would have built another layer of confidence into the relationship if they'd come and met people I spend time with (I did send them an sms from the party, however, that was a nice mix of Bernese dialect, Aargau dialect, and stephanie's creative dialect. That's sufficient proof of two friends, I think.)
Richard...looking like a scholarly cowboy.

Richard's space. My space.

Cow cake (not to be confused with a cow pie). Aubrey made it, and it was tasty!

Mrs. St├╝cklin, Gina, Diana, and Aubrey.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On the way to Emmaus. In our pajamas.

Sunday I finished out my series of Sunday school sessions with a lesson from Luke 24, when post-resurrection Jesus appeared to some dudes who were walking to a town called Emmaus. I have a boy named Jeremiah in class who generally has an entertaining but often bunny-trail illustration, anecdote, or question for anything we might happen to be talking about. He was in rare form Sunday when he suggested that maybe the guys who were walking to Emmaus were sleep walking! And still in their pajamas! He answered every question I asked for the rest of the class time from within that interpretive framework. The point of the story was that a savior who is alive and with us is able to (and does) help us, just like Jesus helped the guys on the road understand from the prophets that his death had been part of God's plan. "So, how would you say Jesus helped them?"
"well, he probably helped them, like, not run into stuff. because that's easy to do when you're sleepwalking."

uh huh.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

ze boys

Bri sent me this awesome picture of Gregg today! He had his stitches from his cornea transplants removed this last week (they were in there a good 2+ years), and he claims this is yet another example of "brilliant engineering: tear suppression and sunglasses," all from a paper napkin. Brilliant it may be, but it also looks pretty funny. :)

In other news from my little bro, check out his cool truck that is now half red and moving under its own volition (if a truck in a new and improved state of mobility may be said to have volition):

AND...I got tickets, Zurich to PDX! I am one happy Oregonian, let me tell you. :) See you all the very end of June!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Pictures from a recent baking day with Aubrey and Roxy (thanks Aubrey!):

First time making a rhubarb pie for all of us, and Roxy's first pie ever. We were getting in touch with our inner americans.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend

I had a busy weekend in three countries! We had Good Friday off from work and school, so Raph and I went canoeing on the Bielersee. We found a place to put the canoe in and paddled out past the peninsula to the opposite shore. He remembered that Ligerz has cute old streets just off the main road, so we tied the boat there and walked through town. Mom, if you come visit me, we're going to Ligerz. You'd like it. It's very Italy-esque and doesn't look a bit like Basel. It's also itsy bitsy, but we entertained ourselves for quite some time sitting on a dock eating a box of ice cream. Then we paddled back across the lake, dodging speed boats and lake steamers.

Proof that I did too help paddle, despite whatever slanderous rumors to the contrary are floating around.

Experimenting with improvised methods to maximize paddling efficiency. This isn't the way to do it.

(The oh-so-hip van we found.)

If I ever learn to paint and decide to win the duck stamp contest (watch out Hautmans!) the Bielersee has nice, accessible waterfowl habitat areas and could be a good place to get some duck photos to work from.

Saturday I went to France and saw the Statue of Liberty. We visited several towns, including Colmar, whence the creator of the famous French gift to the U.S. hailed. There is a nice replica in a roundabout. We drove around her a couple times, and I think that's gonna save me a trip to New York.

Easter Sunday: I had 15 kids in my Sunday school class! That's a lot...but in some ways it's almost easier to teach class with 15 than it is with 5. I was working together with another teacher this time, and that was fun. Aubrey and I cooked dinner for some friends at her house in Germany in the evening. When we left church, we knew the main ingredients of what we were making (as in, we had meat...and some veggies) but hadn't decided exactly how we were going to cook any of it. Thanks to the trusty Internet, however, and our combined easy-cooking know-how, we managed to have dinner on the table a mere 10 minutes later than planned. Not bad! In the end, we made turkey with a meat sauce that M1 taught me to make this week (you know it's easy if a five year old teaches you to make it), and steamed vegetables, potatoes, plus tasty contributions from our company.
We didn't have enough lids, but plates work great. "So ghetto," according to Aubrey, but perfectly functional, if you ask me.

I think Aubrey is the sunniest, most smile-inducing Easter chef ever! What a pretty lady and a gracious hostess. :)

Hank, Aubrey, Raphael, Josh, and Ben. And because I know what you're thinking, we DID invite girls too. We can't help it if they didn't come.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Those braids in the header are my morning handiwork. I started work earlier than usual today at 7, because M1's two week spring break from Chindsgi starts today and their mom had to leave for a teacher in-service retreat. The girls were going to the zoo with their grandparental units late morning, so my first couple hours were spent finishing breakfast and getting them ready. Our hair session went like this: I asked M2 if she wanted her hair done. No, she said. She did not. M1 said she wanted hers done though, and that changed M2's mind in a hurry. M1 tried to assert the "me first" rights of being older (very diplomatically, I might add, as older children often do). So we had a quick chat about thinking about others and letting them go first sometimes too. M2 was therefore first on the stand. She wanted pigtails, and they were a perfectly satisfactory pair of pigtails until M1 had french braids. After that, pigtails just wouldn't do at all, so I re-did M2's hair to match M1. The whole event took a half hour at least. Then we talked about hippos. And monkeys. And read a couple books. And rode bikes and played badminton outside.

More word trouble this week: The word for the "zoo" is "Zooli," which doesn't look hard, and I recognize it when I hear it, but every time I try to say it the word for pigs (Seuli) slips out, and I can't quite remember how the vowel is supposed to sound for zoo. M1 politely refrained from laughing until I confessed to her that I couldn't remember which was which, and then she grinned away every time I said it.

Isn't this the cutest piece of bread you ever saw?