Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Friday, December 22, 2006

Where's the Beef?

Today one of our print vendors sent us an amazing Christmas box full of Wisconsin cheeses, sausage and crackers. And let me tell you, nothing brings men to a table like meat and cheese. It really was delicious (and went very well with my molasses cookies, I might add!). As we congregated around the marvelous Christmas spread, all I could think about was a line from the movie "Elf."
Buddy the Elf: "You're not the real Santa! You smell like beef and cheese."

Indeed. Happy Christmas Eve Eve Eve!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Today I was getting very excited about my upcoming trip to Chicago to celebrate my friend Melissa's birthday. We'll see a show at The Second City, visit the Art Institute of Chicago and take in fireworks at Navy Pier on New Year's Eve, I am most excited to see "Wicked." I've had the soundtrack to the musical for more than a year now, and I can't wait to see the actual show!

If you're not familiar with "Wicked," here's a description from the official Web site:

Long before Dorothy dropped in, two other girls meet in the Land of Oz. One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two unlikely friends end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch makes for the most spellbinding new musical in years.

"Wicked" is a complex story of friendship, betrayal, and good and evil. How do best friends turn out so different? And when they choose such opposite paths, did one choose best? The story illustrates how someone with good intentions can go bad and how someone trying to do good can begin to compromise. I am always impacted by the final song, in which Glinda and Elphaba (the wicked witch) prepare to part ways forever. Glinda sings:

"Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better.
And because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

Home For Christmas Could Be Tricky

I'm stuck at home for a second day due to "the most powerful storm to hit Colorado since March 2003." Fox News reports United has cancelled 160 flights going out of the Denver airport. They don't expect air travel to resume from there until at least noon tomorrow. The backlog could affect my travel on Saturday.

After reading the article, I am thankful to be safe at home with plenty of food, power, phone, Internet and movies. I've actually got it very, very good. And if I can't get home for Christmas, it will be a first. I've always known snow-related delays were a possibility. For now, I'm just enjoying the extra time to get things done around the house. And since I've no place to go (for the time being), let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Audacity and Success

I have not yet seen "The Pursuit of Happyness," but I have heard positive things about the movie, which stars Will Smith. Based on a true story, the film follows the journey of a struggling salesman who takes custody of his son as he's poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor. The Point highlighted this portion of an interview with Smith:

What have you personally had the audacity to hope for?

WS: It feels weird for me to talk about my audacity of hope in the framework of Chris Gardner’s life. I’d have to say no, I’ve never had any hope as audacious as Chris Gardner. But I’ve had situation where there’s no reason to believe that things are going to turn out the way that they’re going to turn out. When Jada and I got together, that period in our lives, there’s no reason for us to be successful in our relationship. There was a whole lot of obstacles lined up for us not to make it. And to me, even on that small level, we always say that divorce can’t be an option. Because if you allow divorce to be an option, there’s absolutely one day you’ll check that box. So it’s audacious to remove it as an option. It just isn’t an option. That’s not one of the choices that we have, no matter what happens. And that type of audacity is what it takes to make things successful.

Wise words. How many times do I fail to have the "audacity" to simply stand up and do the right thing? As the new year approaches, I hope I will look at my walk with God in this way. Yes, following Christ and living by His commands is audacious — even seemingly impossible — by the world's standards. I have even been called arrogant for choosing to believe the Bible's truth. But I agree with Mr. Smith: this kind of audacity is necessary — not only for success in life, but for success in eternity.

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. —Matthew 16:24-25

P.S. Has anyone seen the movie? What did you think?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And Then There Were Four

With the addition of my little nephew Aaron, born on December 5, my brother has a beautiful "four family." Ben looks a bit disoriented in this pic, but I'm sure he'll soon be a GREAT big brother.

I love this picture of Matt and Ben. I continue to be impressed by what a good dad my little brother is. And Anna is a wonderful, patient and graceful mother.

Matt and Ben shortly after his birth.

I originally posted this on July 15, 2005:

My brother, Matt, is a new father. I spent this past weekend with Matt, his wife, Anna, and Baby Ben. Anna is a wonderful mother and more relaxed than most new moms I've known. But it was my brother's relationship with Ben that captivated me the most. As I watched Matt hold and kiss his tiny son, I saw a tenderness and self-sacrifice that had not been there before.

Seeing a new dad reminded me of my heavenly Father. I've often thought of myself as God's "big kid." A 5-year-old holding God's hand as he guides and directs me. But how often is God's response to me more like that of a father and infant? If in Him I "live and breathe and have my being," it seems I am more like a helpless infant — uncomprehending of so much of my Father's knowledge, unable to give Him anything, dependent on Him for my very life.

And yet, despite my seeming uselessness, He scoops me up into His strong, loving arms and kisses my face and delights to call me His child. I see the face of God in a new dad. Enjoy this picture and think of your Father.

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him" —Psalm 103:13

Team Clubhouse

Without planning it, my whole team showed up today wearing some form of olive or gray. My boss Jesse thought such brilliant color-coordination was deserving of a photo. Of course we had to pose by the awesome blow-up Santa that resides in our area. Clockwise from top left: Clubhouse Jr. designer Kathleen, Clubhouse designer Peg, editorial assistant Joanna, Clubhouse editor Jesse, me, Clubhouse Jr. editor Annette. I love working with these people. This is our don't-mess-with-us pose.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jingle Bells

My sister Sarah choreographed this fabulous closing dance for our Christmas shows. The Stick Horses debuted it on tour. Here it is in all its glory.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Northwest Tour: Day 4

Monday was my favorite day even though we didn't perform. After breakfasting with our host families, we piled in the minivan and headed for Cannon Beach, Ore. Jared, who we were now referring to as "Daddykins," had grown quite fond of the van. Here he is—the king of his white castle (minus the cheeseburgers).

Photo by Hunter Willis

We walked toward Haystack Rock. It was cold and blustery and 40 degrees. Naturally, Jared decided it would be the perfect time to take off his shirt and run and dance along the beach. It did make for some good pictures. Hunter snapped this one.

Next we asked some nice beachwalkers to take a group shot, in which we struck a cheesy pose from the closing dance number of our show. We continued walking until we were almost to Haystack Rock (which you can see behind Jared in the picture above). The tide was in, so we weren't able to go up to the rock and look in the tidepools, as I have done many times before. We just walked and talked and froze, enjoying the beauty of the day.

Hunter took a lot of pictures.

When we'd had enough wind we walked into Cannon Beach proper, and I got a cup of joe in a little coffee shop/art gallery. We warmed up and looked around for a bit. We walked back to our van and headed to Mo's for lunch. I absolutely love Mo's, with its incredible view of the beach, all-you-can-eat saltine crackers and diner fare.

A couple in our crew were deadset on tracking down as many "Goonies" filming locations as possible. Hug Point was one of them. This little cove ended up being picturesque with its rocky inlet and beach. We hung out for a good 30 minutes before we moved on.

Next stop, Seaside...and the end of the Lewis and Clark trail. My friends learned early on that the Northwest is obsessed with Lewis and Clark. They just can't get enough of those guys. Of course, upon arriving in Seaside, Elisa's first reaction, after leaving the van, was to do an impromptu dance captured in the video below. Seaside is a little more touristy than Cannon Beach, so we hit the shops and bought some hats and salt water taffy. Later in the day, we had to return to Portland and catch our flight home. Still, the day was perfect. The Northwest loves the Horses, and the Horses love the Northwest!

Snowman Hold-Up

Thanks to Kelsey for this December funny!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

If you've never seen anything like this before...well, neither had I. Because it was freezing cold at Cannon Beach, Ore., Jared did the only logical thing: strip off his shirt and do an impromptu ballet.

Elisa Meets the Candyman

In the "I love this so much I could die!" category, I present to you, Elisa. This was captured seconds after Elisa exited the minivan and heard the music blaring out of the salt water taffy shop.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Northwest Tour: Day 3

Here we are on Pier 11. Look closely. Can you see me in the picture?

I had coffee with my sister Bekah while the rest of the Horses had a leisurely Sunday morning. We left Grays Harbor around 11 and headed toward the coast. The drive was beautiful, and we arrived in Astoria, Ore., around 2 p.m. I wanted to take the Horses to Pier 11, a restaurant my family had frequented for its superb clam chowder. The restaurant had stopped serving lunch, so we picked the Silver Salmon Grille instead, which was located downtown (or in this case "uptown" from the piers). There I indulged in the best fish and chips I have ever had (the group can vouch for me on this one). Good seafood is scarce in Colorado, so I always take advantage of it when I'm visiting the Northwest.

The delectable Silver Salmon Grille.

Our server, Heidi, told us how to get to the house where "The Goonies" was filmed. We had several very excited people at this point. After lunch we headed out of town, turned right at Geno's Pizza and drove up the hill. Elisa was particularly excited about seeing the Goonies house and was even willing to brave "No Tresspassing" signs to do so. This meant that our actual inspection of the house was short-lived, but I managed to snap this picture from the top.

We were afraid the owner might emerge with a shotgun, so this was the only picture I got. Goonies never say die!

Then we drove the 45 minutes to Clatskanie, Ore., where my brother and his family live. The Horses went to "Humps," the one sit-down restaurant in town, while I visited with my brother, sister-in-law and nephew. Ben has hair and is very athletic. He's only 18-months old, but he can already kick a soccer ball and execute a pretty mean batting stance and swing with a wooden spoon.

Our show was in the Clatskanie High School auditorium. Matt did a great job of having everything ready to go. There was a great turn-out at around 100. Most of them from Matt's little church. This was our best audience. They shouted out great suggestions, laughed heartily and gave us a generous love offering. So what if Hunter referred to their town as "Clat-skan-stine"? They loved us anyway.

One of our more memorable audience members of all-time came to this show. After the performance, Cheree, a short, red-haired woman in her 60s, approached me and pulled out a small notepad. "I need your autograph," she said. She proceeeded to get all of our autographs and then insist that we pose for a photo with her (two, actually, in case someone blinked). She had seen our poster in Safeway, where my brother had posted it, so she had no connection to the church.

I introduced her to my brother, telling her he was a pastor at the church, and she said: "Oh, well I need your autograph, too!" We found out she had a lot of cats, which didn't surprise us at all. After getting hugs from each of us, Cheree left with a euphoric smile on her face. "I think God loved her through us tonight," Elisa said.

I had the privilege of staying at my brother's house, which gave me a little more time with Ben. Jared and Hunter stayed with Bing and Debbie, who made them Trader Joe's muffins and gave them coffee to go the following morning. Elisa and Dianne stayed with a family that lived in a "gated community" (it was actually a cattle gate). The family had two teenage sons, who had us all sign the door to their rec room. We felt loved in Clatskanie, and it was probably our favorite show—if for nothing else, Cheree.

Elf Yourself

Watch me do an elf dance!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Northwest Tour: Day 2

Day two actually begins at the end of day one. After a late-night drive from Vancouver, we arrived in Aberdeen around 12:30 a.m. My parents met us in the McDonalds parking lot to guide us to Roger's house, where we would be staying. Roger, a 65-year-old single man, was out of town and graciously allowed us to stay at his place, with his cat Chablis (which we affectionately called "Jobless"). After an incident that involved circling around the neighborhood about seven times (we eventually had to stop at a gas station for bathrooms while Dad continued to search for the house), we found Roger's place and settled in for the night.

Next morning we arrived at the 7th Street Theater in Hoquiam at 10:45. After some jollyness from Santa we went on. A couple of hundred kids and parents gave suggestions and laughed at our antics. Of course, we were competing with Santa in the lobby so our crowd dwindled toward the end. The newspaper photographer snapped the photo above of Hunter, Dianne and Jared doing Arms Expert.

After the show we enjoyed a nice slow lunch at Jennifer's Cafe. Jennifer is from Jamaica and showed us some Island hospitality. The slow service (we think it's meant to be that way) allowed my parents to meet each member of the Horses in depth. I loved how we all pitched in as each of us told our story. Then the members turned questioning to Mom and Dad and found out where they went to college, what they studied, how they met.

Of course, I had to take the gang to the "Sweet Nothings Popcorn Factory." This place makes luscious varieties of popcorn, including Chicago caramel, rocky road and Reeses peanut butter cup. The owner talked to us for quite a while about our act (she'd read about us in the paper), and ended up buying two of our t-shirts.

After a wonderful nap, we returned to 7th Street Theater at 6 p.m. To our delight, our name appeared on the marquee. Lane, the man who opened the theater, explained the history of it. The 7th Street theater used to host the likes of Al Jolson, Three Dog Night and Dolly Parton the Daily World wrote this about the theater:

Dubbed “Hoquiam’s Theatre Beautiful,” the theater opened in 1928 and was one of the first theaters in the Northwest specifically designed for talking pictures. The “Spanish garden” interior, with its towering, rounded ceiling punctuated with twinkling stars, is one of the last examples in America of what is known as atmospheric design.

We felt honored to be performing in this fabulous theater. Even though we only filled 60 of the 500 seats, we had a great audience and put on a good show. One person came all the way from Seattle (OK, she used to go to church with us). After the show we stuck around and talked to the audience members. One girl had come to both shows and said, "Are you guys coming back next year? You were WAY better than the magician they had last year." She'd brought her six brothers and sisters, so we considered that high praise.

Boundary Issues

I've talked about my housemate before. She has lived with me since August, and having her in my home has been the most terrifying and wonderful thing. Terrifying because I realize how little control I have. Wonderful because God's purpose in us knowing one another is constantly confirmed.

Two nights ago, we had coffee. As we talked about life and God, Sveta said, "You're the best Christian I know." I swallowed. Such a responsibility, especially when I am so keenly aware of my shortcomings. I'd rather not be the best Christian someone knows. I'm not that good. At the same time, it is an honor to represent Christ in such a way. I pray that He will help me live out Micah 6:8: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." A tall order but one that is worth pursuing.

Read about some of the things I've learned in "Boundary Issues" on Boundless.

Picture in a Flash

A friend and I were discussing the ubiquitous myspace photo — the mirror shot with a flash. I tried to take one for the fun of it, and it's surprisingly difficult.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Old Friends

Krista, Gretta and me.

I've decided to blog about the Northwest tour one wonderful day at a time. There are too many fun details to share in one entry. The Horses set out from Colorado Springs at 5:15 a.m. Friday. We reached the airport without mishap and soon discovered that Jared is not a morning person. None of us had ever known this because we only see him in the afternoons and evenings when he is hyper.

We arrived in Portland about 10:30 and picked up our beautiful white minivan (which only Jared could drive). Then we crossed the state line and met my sister Sarah for lunch. We only had four kids in our afternoon workshops, but they were still a lot of fun.

We weren't sure what kind of turn-out to expect for the show since workshop attendance had been so low. I had invited several of my college friends but wasn't sure if they'd make it. We were in this out-of-the-way room at the church we were performing at, so a few minutes before the show I wandered out to the main building to see who I could find.

I was overjoyed to see John and Diane Stevens, the parents of my college friend Krista. This family let me stay in their home for four months during college when I was really sick with Lyme disease. They really took care of me. When I saw Diane, I cried. This was completely unanticipated because I am generally not a cryer, but it was just so very special to see them again. My college roommate, Gretta (yes, I only had one), was also there. Although only 16 people came to that first show, it was incredibly packed with love. The show went great and had our audience crying tears of laughter.

After the show came the drive to Aberdeen....

Stick Horses at the airport at 7:30 a.m.

Horses on the Beach

The first ever Stick Horse tour — to the Pacific Northwest — was a blast! I will write more about it soon. Hunter took this fabulous picture of us walking toward Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Welcome, Baby Aaron!

My nephew Aaron Edward was born this morning sometime around 9, weighing 8 pounds and something. (This is what happens when you get the report from the dad.) He looks a lot like my brother as a baby. He has the Hadley nose (which Ben did not have). I can't wait to see little Aaron when I'm home for Christmas. We're praising the Lord for Aaron's safe arrival and Anna's easy delivery.