Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

Once a local Utah bank had a comercial that ended with a shot of a little girl dancing on stage. The shot lasted about one second, if that. My sister Elizabeth used to make fun of me because without fail, when that add came on my eyes were glued to the screen and I teared up.

Now I can't say it was particularly good advertising, since I have no idea which bank it was, but it definitely struck a cord in me. What can I say? I'm a sucker. Lately, GK and I have seen some of the stupider Christmas specials. Yep. I'm a sucker. No matter how much I make fun of them... at some point, the tears well up in my eyes and I try to hold on a little tighter to GK, and Reggie doesn't bother me quite as much (even when he tries to chew open the Christmas presents under the tree).

Anyway, Merry Christmas a day late. We'll add some Christmas details soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Finals Week and Drawing Waves...

It's sleeting.

It has been sleeting all day. There was a forecast of snow, but instead we've had a constant downfall of wet, slushy rain that freezes on the ground to make the roads and sidewalks treacherous. Luckily, I have rain boots, and a lot of really sturdy Patagonia gear (thanks to Liza and GK). So I can't complain much.

I had planned on a shopping trip in town to get some fun food at Trader Joe's, but the trek just wasn't worth the risk. So I ran some errands closer by and then planned on just giving my house a little love. It's had a rough week. It's finals week for GK and he has been putting in long hours (and doing EXTREMELY well I don't mind bragging), and I have been under the weather (although I seem to be emerging).

Well, just as I got back to the house from my errands, GK called me. He had arrived at school only to realize that he had left the only bit of information and paperwork he needed to prepare for the final he has tonight... accounting. When I found it, I offered to bring it to him instead of making him lose two hours of studying to make the round trip.

So I headed out in my lime green parka, my two-toned polka-dotted rain boots (not blending in well in the sea of New Yorkers in their black). I took the study guide to GK and hung out with him a little while he studied. He explained to me the process of creating a "cashflow chart" and a bunch of other stuff about calculating year-end reports. I was impressed at how well he seemed to have the subject mastered, especially considering how much he hates math.

At one point we were having a hard time figuring out where his professor had produced some of the numbers in the example. That was when GK said, "Oh yeah, he ran into trouble at one point and then spent fifteen minutes trying to correct the problem. But I wasn't paying attention. I think I was drawing waves."

I almost fell off my chair laughing. "Drawing waves?" I asked. Sure enough, he flipped over a couple of pages in his notebook and there were some pictures of quite beautiful, detailed waves crashing. Needless to say, my sweet husband misses home. I love being reminded of how much he loves the ocean. I love his determination to surf even on days when all I can do is sit on the beach totally wrapped in blankets and drink cocoa. I love the way he knows by name every inlet and break along the California coastline (and is quickly learning the beaches here).

The temporary wave-drawing didn't seem to affect his overall understanding of the final and I think he'll do quite well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tis the Season

Christmas in New York comes early. About a week before Thanksgiving, my mom came out to see us. We were thrilled to welcome her into our little home as the first official family member to make the trek out. She actually came for a conference of English Teachers so she was very busy and we caught moments together where we could. It was so fun. She discovered a store called Dr. Jayz where she bought about a million pairs of cute striped socks. She was surprised that she seemed to be the only white person who had discovered this great place.
As we were wandering through the streets together with my mama, GK and I noticed that the streets were just a little more crowded than usual.
Maybe it's because the Macy's windows have their Miracle on 34th Street displays up as well as their new age Santa windows. Or maybe it's because the Salvation Army Bell Ringers are out. Or maybe it's because it was starting to get really cold. Either way, the crowds have been steadily increasing since then and the Christmas Season is in full swing before December 1.
GK and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. We spent the day with my mom's sister Betsy, and her partner Larry and extensions of both Betsy and Larry. Altogether there were 12 of us I think and boy did B and L put on a show. Larry had been cooking for four days by the time we arrived on Thursday morning. He looked a little worn out, but his food was UNBELIEVABLE! The sweet potatoes, the regular potatoes, smoked turkey and regular turkey, stuffing, etc. etc. It made me begin my plot to be invited back every year.
Before the big dinner, a big group of us tried to go watch the Macy's day Parade. Larry had invitations to a building where we could have had an amazing view. But by the time we got there, there were so many people on the streets that we couldn't get through to the entrance of the building. I have never seen so many people for a parade. They were stacked twenty to thirty deep on the sidewalks and then on the cross streets, they filled the block. All any of us really could see were the giant balloons floating by and everyone would cheer and get so excited, you forgot how little of the parade you were actually seeing.
So now we're heading toward Christmas and feeling a little homesick. We're wishing we could be nearer to more of our loved ones, but we're trying to soak in every bit of Holiday Magic we can find.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Question of Names

Should there be a GK Risser IV?

To those of you whose pulses have begun to speed up, let me break it to you gently. I'm not pregnant. But when I do become pregnant at some future date, and that little being is a boy, should we name him Gordon?

I never met Gordon number one, but my husband has told me stories of being asked by many people if the famous Gordon One was his grandfather. They would then go on to say what an angel GK's grandfather was.

I have met Gordon number two. He's an angel too. He works so hard and is so committed to helping and teaching his family.

I know Gordon number three pretty dang well and don't you know it... an angel! I mean the name seems to do pretty well for itself. And so I pose the question. Should there be a Gordon number four?

Early in our marriage (being in the beginning of our second year maybe I should say earlier?), I asked GK how he felt about it. He said he didn't care and really that he had never planned on there being a fourth. I joked and suggested following George Foreman and instead of naming just the first boy Gordon Keith Risser, we could name all our kids GK. Girl or boy we could start with Genevieve Kathryn and she could be GK jr. then Gregory Keller could be GK III etc. etc. That way our home could be just packed with little GK's.

Well obviously, the multiple GK's is never going to happen, so I'm back to my original question. Should there be a Gordon Keith Risser IV? GK doesn't care either way, so the critical decision is in my hands and I feel like the choice should be a conscious one. If I'm going to break the line, I want to make sure I've thought it through. And since people generally have a lot of opinions about what babies get named, I thought I'd ask for some imput on the matter.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Blessings of Early Morning Seminary

This is our early morning seminary class so far. There are others on our roles, but for the first two weeks, Edwin (sitting next to me looking a little uncomfortable to be so next to the teacher) and JJ (who made us hold the photo so that he could grab his manual and scriptures) have been there bright and early to talk about the stories of the Old Testament. They are such great kids. We actually have class at Edwin's house. His mom is the stake Young Women's President and is also on a mission to another branch in our stake where her husband is in the branch presidency. They are an amazing family. JJ moved here from China two years ago to live with his mom who has been a member since she arrived in the United States eight years ago. He was taught by the missionaries, was baptized and now is preparing to go on a mission.

I'm not proud to admit that I was a seminary drop out. In four years of high school, I completed two non-consecutive semesters of seminary. I never really thought much about it after that. But as GK and I teach these kids, I realize what a loss that was and how blessed I am to be getting another chance.

So this is how our days begin. We wake up sometime close to 5am (depending on how much primping is necessary, we push it as late as 5:25), we get dressed and ready, leave the house at 5:45 to go catch the R train out to a place called Bay Ridge. On the train we review the lesson plan we put together the night before and just read a little). The train times are always different, so sometimes we get there 20 minutes early and we get a bagel (directly from the oven) and cream cheese, and sometimes we rush straight from the station to arrive at the Herrera home at 6:41 (class starts at 6:40).

Then we teach our lesson until 7:30 and take the train back home. Almost always, the lesson or the questions Edwin and JJ ask initiates a conversation that doesn't end until GK has to go off to his internship or until we get home and have to take a quick nap before the rest of the day.

This is GK after a morning of Seminary. He was just communing with Ernest Hemingway and learning about his fishing adventures until...

Reggie (who sleeps through seminary) decided that enough was enough and it was time to be up and at them.

To celebrate two good weeks of waking up early and studying the Good Word. GK asked me on a date. He didn't tell me where we wer going, but he picked out my warm weather apparel and told me where to get off the train. We got off at Bryant Park and stopped at a little place to get some hot soup. As we walked out of the subway I said, "GK, you have socks in your back pocket. Did you know that?" He said, "Oh yeah, I found some other ones, will you put those in your purse?" I did. Then when we came out of the restaurant I said, "Hey look at those people over there. Are they ice skating?" He laughed at me. It must be fun to have someone around who's so dang easy to surprise. This is us eating our "Hale and Hearty" soup right by the skating rink. Then we strapped on our skates and made a night of it. It's a good life.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Always Ad-Free

Hello beloved readers. This is GK Risser. The real GK Risser. We would like to thank all of you for spending your valuable web time here in The Crow's Nest. Everyday we are pleased to bring you entertaining stories and valuable information concerning our marvelous lives and we hope that you enjoy yourselves. We here at The Crow's Nest take great pride in our "Advertising Free" website initiative and plan to continue to offer you quality services without invasively trying to steal your money. Hope to keep seeing you around the place__enjoy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Hampshire: the Land of Enchantment

On Friday about a week and a half ago, we packed up our little car and headed for the hills of New Hampshire to celebrate GK's birthday and yet again escape the crazy city. We were excited to see some of the changing leaves and visit a few sites from GK's missionary days...
We drove up through connecticut and massachussets and into New Hampshire and it rained off and on the whole way up. But since the forecast had only given a 30% chance of "light rain" we weren't too worried. We were sure it would clear up. They were exactly right. It rained 30% of our time there

We arrived at around 6pm and set up our tent in light rain while Reggie waited in the car. We ran to a little store in the town to get firewood and a couple of last minute provisions so we could settle in for the night. But as we drove back to our campsite it started to rain harder and harder and the fog grew more and more dense. This is a picture of our tent the next morning when things had cleared up a bit.
But since we were too hungry to wait for morning to eat, we cooked a little "New England Clam Chowder" on our propane burner under the rainfly of our absolutely amazing tent. This is GK prepping for cooking.

I tried to get the chowder on our little homemade table in our tent, but all you get out of it is our faces looking a little funny. Through the night, it rained so hard and the wind blew so fiercely that we both bolted upright in the middle of the night a few times sure that we were going to get soaked. But our amazing little tent (a present from Eddie and Carline, GK's brother and sister-in-law) stayed strong and dry. I have never experienced anything like it. In fact, we had set up our tent under a bunch of beautiful trees that were covered in beautiful, multi-colored leaves. But in the morning, the ones in our campsite were almost completely bare, and the whole mountainside accross from us was totally naked.
In the morning Chef GK made pancakes and eggs, but since we didn't want to use one of our eggs in the pancake batter and we hadn't been able to bring ourselves to pay $11 for a tiny little tin of maple syrup, they ended up resembling eggs but tasting like nothing I've ever had before. But they were yummy when we poured milk over them and made our own kind of porridge. While breakfast cooked, Reggie and my hot chocolate kept me toasty warm. It was so cold that even with two sweaters (made from socks) Reggie couldn't stop shivering, so I cut up yet another sock and tried to make him a hat. He kept shaking his head and it would come right off. Don't show this picture to the folks at Maxfund where we got him, or they might come take him from us.
After our amazing breakfast, we went on a beautiful hike to a little hut just below the summit of Mt. Lafayette (said with a french accent since we were so close to Canada). Reggie started in my vest, but not long into the hike he jumped down and led the way. He was amazing.
We named this Reggie's Rock. We tried to get it on video so you could see how steep it was. He went up it like five times. He loved it.
At the hut we were really glad that we had brought so many layers (and so many snacks). The winds were biting cold and the temperature dropped significantly.
We headed back down the mountain, and by the time we got back to our campsite, the roads had dried enough for us to go for a bike ride. There is a beautiful bike path that goes on forever. We road through and saw some a amazing views. Here you can see a little more clearly how many of the leaves were already gone from the trees.
After this picture (we call it the Risser Leg Shot), our pitiful little digital camera froze, so the rest of our documentation is on GK's video camera. So that's it for photos, but after our ride we had another wonderful campfire meal and went to bed.

In the morning we drove to Vermont and I got to see the first house that GK lived in on his mission and his first church (which has quadrupled in size). And then we got in the car and started to drive. After a while I saw a sign that said "Turn off for Joseph Smith Birthplace Monument". I jumped an pointed and said, "GK! Did you know that was here?" He laughed at me and said there had been four signs before that one and every time he had looked at me to see if I had noticed, but I was caught up in watching the scenery and daydreaming.

The monument was beautiful. It was simple. But it really struck me that Joseph Smith was a real man and was a boy on this land. I don't know why that was so new, but it was a beautiful, simple testimony to me.

Thanks for reading, I will be better at posting more regularly so my posts don't have to be so long. We are finally having the internet installed at our house TOMORROW!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pictures Coming Soon...

Last weekend we went to Reston Virginia. Some of you may know it as the first known planned community. We spent a beautiful couple of days with our friends Jenny and Damon Larsen and their kids. As well as Johnny and Angela Thompson (who technically live in Maryland).

We didn't have a whole lot of time since we had to be back in the city for Sunday (to get callings... Early Morning Seminary... more on that to be sure). We left Friday morning early and got to VA at around one in the afternoon. It was such a great trip. Reggie is a natural with kids. After playing baseball with Zane and getting fed lots of pizza and french toast by Liv all weekend I think he's been pretty bored just hanging out with me the last couple of days. When he sees little kids on the subway he perks right up and wants to play.

After pretty much just chilling on Friday, we woke up Saturday morning and decided to go to Mt. Vernon, the home of our beloved first President. I have to say that he was a pretty interesting guy. He didn't seem to seek leadership really, he just had a knack and people wanted to follow him and then kept trying to make him king and stuff. Pretty cool.

This is a pretty lame post I know, but I'll add pictures soon and then it'll be a little cooler. But I had to write something about last weekend because THIS weekend GK and I are going to New Hampshire to see the leaves and to camp and to celebrate his 31st birthday! So my next post will include some of those pictures and hopefully some really fun stories about camping and my wonderful husband and our really cool dog.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Best Nap Ever

So yesterday I came home bleary-eyed, hungry, and exhausted by the New York lifestyle. My wife and I bought a pizza and went home to our cozy little subterranean apartment, ate the pizza, passed out face-to-face on the bed, and I slipped into best nap ever. There was a physical feeling to it that I never wanted to come out of. It was great. Life is good once again. Thank you for reading.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Happy October

Well I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that we don't have the internet at our apartment yet. It probably means I get more unpacking done. But it's funny how I have this itch to play around on this thing and figure out all the cool stuff I can do to it.

We are now into Month Two of the New York Adventure and I can't believe how fast time goes. We are so happy to be living in our place finally and now that we have our furniture and pictures and microwave, noone would ever guess how funny it used to look... or maybe we're just getting used to it.

Anyway, last week on GK's day off he rented a carpet cleaner from Lowe's and cleaned the carpets FOUR TIMES!!! It made such a difference. And now a week later after much wall scrubbing and sorting and unpacking, we're really loving our little home. The funny part is that we really won't be in it for very long if things go according to plan. GK is looking into all of his internship opportunities for the next summer and we're getting really excited. He's hoping to work for The Alpinist for the summer which is located in Jackson Hole.

Things with school are going so well. He's getting to be an expert student... not an easy task after several years off.

I, on the other hand, am trying to get my nose out of boxes far enough to make a little time for theater every day. Sometimes I have to count the drama I see on the streets. I was invited to a cool workshop on Saturday, and am plugging away at potty training Reggie (not an easy task). He has adjusted slowly but surely to the fact that I can't let him off his leash to take care of his business.

As you can see, nothing extraordinary is happening, except for the extraordinary blessing of being here together pursuing this chapter of our lives and our dreams. We are really excited to watch Conference and our

By the way, this was obviously written by Susanna not GK, but I accidentally sometimes sign in as GK because it's automatic. Also, it was written a week or so ago, but my computer ran out of juice and it's been since then that I could get back to The Tealounge, our beloved internet provider.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

To All Our Concerned Readers

After talking to Andrew on the phone tonight, I realized I should add a little tag to my last blog. Our apartment is not actually a storage unit. It's an apartment that has been lived in before. It has a kitchen (about three feet squared), a bathroom, a living room and a bedroom. But because of the odd dimensions the landlord feels more "comfortable" leasing it as a storage unit. So never fear... we'll be okay. There's no lead in the paint and there's a working smoke alarm and Reggie is allowed to live with us. Overall we feel blessed to have found the place and our dream is a reality... we have a one bedroom with enough room to spare for anyone who wants to come see us. We are feeling excited to finally settle into our own place, and settle into a routine, and settle into the city that never settles down. We miss our families and our friends and our bikes (which are in storage for the time being). Please come see us soon, just to see for yourselves that the place we found is liveable.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Super Expensive Storage Unit

So after several days of looking for apartments (and quickly realizing our "price range" was a pipedream). We found one! We found it about a week and a half ago but the paperwork has taken a little time. So this apartment is pretty crazy. Only actually viewing the apartment in person could adequately explain it. It's a basement... which is fine, lots of people live in basements. But yesterday when we went to the realtor to sign the lease. He put down in front of us a lease for a storage unit. I guess because of window size and ceiling height and who knows what else, the apartment is not a "legal" apartment. We were not aware of any of this until yesterday and we just kind of looked at each other and gulped. We asked the realtor if we could have minute to talk it over. He left and we both just felt sick. The idea of going back to square one made us want to cry (and I'm sure it would have made Larry and Betsy cry since we've already been staying with them longer than we planned), but we were afraid that we were about to sign away any residential rights we might have had. Before we had to make a decision though, the realtor came back in and offered to draw up a month to month lease so that if the "apartment" wasn't adequately maintained at any time we could leave. We felt relieved and decided to go ahead with it. So tomorrow we'll sign the new lease... a month to month lease for a storage unit that will cost us three times our Denver rent. You gotta love New York.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Our Gigantic Apple

So up until now, GK has primarily... well exclusively... been the one to update the blog. But since he is in school and busily preparing himself to be a publishing tycoon. I thought I'd jump on the wagon.

We got to New York on August 28, 2007 after going from Denver to Salt Lake City to San Francisco to Santa Clarita to Salt Lake again to Denver again. In denver we packed up our trailer and headed out of town. About 60 miles outside of Denver we noticed a coolant leak and headed back again... hoping we wouldn't repeat that story in Elder Holland's talk "An High Priest of Good Things to Come". Although the story is beautiful, repeating it wouldn't be.

Well after that false alarm, we headed out the following day stopping in Kansas for a fun night of barbeque and catching up with GK's aunt and uncle Mike and Leslie, then the next night in Columbus Ohio staying with GK's cousin Paul and his wife. Then the next night we camped right new some Amish settlements in Pennsylvania. And on August 28th drove into the city. We were relieved to get out of the car after nearly 3 weeks on the road. And Reggie has finally recovered from his lack of exercise and regular potty routine.

Now we're here and have put a deposit on a pretty crazy little apartment and are waiting to hear back from the landlord. We'll send pictures as soon as the move in actually happens. We are no strangers to weird little apartments, but we are still figuring out how to put our own little spin on this place.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Argentina on the Greyhound

Last Friday we left a resturant where we had eaten with some friends and recieved a phone call from my Aunt who explained that she had a family friend from Argentina who was stranded at the bus station, which was only two blocks behind us at the time. So, I went and picked up our new friend Sergio, an adverturous young Argentine stranded where the great American prairie meets the Rocky Mountains, due to the unpredictable weather of the region and the lack of Greyhound dependability. He came with me to buy my new American shoes and we went home to our apartment while Susanna slept at her Sister's. In the morning we all had breakfast together and took Sergio to the bus station where he could sit amongst the junkies while he waited. The most interesting thing we learned from our South American visitor was that he could not believe that Americans would take their children to Las Vegas.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Finer Things

Tonight, after work and before the show, we went for a walk by the river and discussed married life, took a dinner of tacos to a crippled elderly woman, and walked the evening streets with sugar cones in hand__ Dulche de Leche in hers, and a chocolate creation called Billionaires in mine.

Baby Beavers

Yesterday I sat with my wife eating lunch in the sun, next to the river, on the steps of the pavillion under the Lawrence Street Bridge when we saw a small beaver wash up from the deep current and across a shallow spot. It got to its feet and scrambled across the rocks back to the main part of the river, dissappearing in the muddy snowmelt. It was so small I postulated that it may have been a squirrel that wandered too close to the shore and got swept away. This made Susanna sad, until I convinced her that it must have been a beaver.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Role of Gender Reversals

Last night I watched my wife portray the role of a man. I think that of all the women doing so in this particular show she did the finest job. I'm glad that even the finest job still looked nothing like a real man.

Winter Wasteland

I think Susanna told me today that this was the coldest day in Denver, ever, by two degrees (-18). I don't believe that Hell has fireplaces anymore.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Needles in the Trash

At work today I came out of the bathroom sucking the tip of my middle finger. I told the girls at the register that after drying my hands with a paper towel I smashed down the overflowing trash and got pricked by a discarded needle. I was just trying to spice things up.

Leftover Chicken and Fresh Pasta From the Bag

Today we went to Costco and spent a lot of money on food that we really didn't need but thought we did because it seemed so cheap.

For dinner, my beautiful wife boiled the new tortellinis we bought and mixed them in the last of our pesto. She added the leftover herb chicken from last night for a special treat.
After we ate we laid down and fell asleep.

Pesto supplies depleted__hoping for rescue soon.