Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Blog is Not Dead

...and we aren't either!

For those of you doubting that the Blackmers were doing anything with their lives, and wondering if they were even still alive, here is your post.
We've been busy!

Rachel's brother Nick left on a mission to Spain

Our trip to Eastern Canada (including Rachel's mission! and Green Gables!)

(see slideshow here)

Dave in the Book of Mormon pageant

And, Rachel has been working like crazy. Dave has also started working again (back at AAPC) and he is working on his portfolio to apply to grad schools to get an M.F.A. in Film Studies. Check out his first film here.


Many people believe that the sole purpose of having a blog is to post pictures of your adorable kids, especially so that friends and family out of town can ogle over how much they have grown, etc. etc. Well, we don't have kids, but we have an adorable dog, and figure that she can serve the same purpose for our blog.

We are convinced that she is the cutest dog in the world, and we have 70+ photos to prove it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blackmer Update

I just got a promotion at work! One of my co-workers just had a baby and we all thought that she was coming back, but she was just too in love with her baby to come back to work full-time. So we basically took my position and her position and meshed them together. (If you think that that makes more work for me, you're right!) Now I am the Program Coordinator at the English Skills Learning Center. I train and supervise volunteers that teach English to adult refugees and immigrants here in Salt Lake County. We do a lot of classes all over the valley, and we also do one-on-one matches with tutors and students. We serve those who can't attend traditional English classes for one of many reasons: a) they don't have the funds to pay for it, b) they don't have transportation to get to classes c) their English is so low that they would be completely lost in a traditional class or often d) they have children or sick relatives that they need to care for, so they can't leave the home for English classes.
The people that I work with are amazing (the tutors, students, and my co-workers), and I love what I do. I'm happy to be serving people and getting paid to do it!

Playing House

For the next week and a half, Dave and I will be house-sitting for my aunt and uncle. We're looking forward to "playing house" - having a dishwasher, a yard for Kira to run around, a washer and dryer, and a whole lot more space!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Musings on May 29

Dave here again. For some reason I had a hankering to write on our blog today. I don't even have terribly interesting news to report or anything; I just felt like writing to the world. Kira's sitting behind me, licking the vacuum cleaner. I'm sure from a dog's perspective, that makes perfect sense.

So I did a little research and found out that while I may not have anything interesting to say personally, a lot of very interesting things happened on this day in history. For instance...

Rhode Island and Wisconsin became official states of the U.S. Different years, of course, but hey, it should still be some sort of holiday. I mean, 1/25 of the states joined on the same day. I did some more research on this and found out that this only happened 5 times. So in my opinion, all 5 dates should be national holidays. We could afford another 5 holidays. Well, actually it would only be another 4 holidays, because Oregon and Arizona both joined on February 14th, which is already a holiday. Of course, a lot of people still have to work on Valentine's day, so maybe it needs to be bumped up in its holiday authority. This could be just the event to do that. I wonder if this means that Oregon and Arizona are like star-crossed lovers...

So North and South Dakota both joined on exactly the same day, the only two that have that going for them. But then again, it's not exactly surprising, seeing how close they were to begin with. A cheap move if you ask me. If we make November 2nd a holiday in their honor, it would probably be very low on the holiday authority list. You'd definitely still have to work, and they probably wouldn't even sell any Hallmark cards for the occasion. That'd be rough, North and South Dakota. Out-holiday-ed by "Belated 50th" and "Bat Mitzvah".

Another interesting tidbit with all this is that Nevada joined on Halloween. Of course, that was back in 1864, so it was fairly different back then. According to Wikipedia (or as I refer to it, "the poorly-paid construction workers that stand on the side of the Information Highway, apparently making 'improvements'"), Irish immigrants first brought Halloween with them to North America during the Great Famine of 1846. So it had been around for a couple decades at that point. That was also probably the year they started giving out Peanut Chews, because holy cow, those things have been around since forever.

How do you carry Halloween with you on a boat? I don't know the answer to that, but I bet the boat drifted in to port and all they found were a bunch of dead people and a couple of coffins that were supposed to be bound for Transylvania but ended up accidentally being sent to Pennsylvania. I know what you're thinking and the answer is most certainly yes. Pennsylvania was definitely a state by that time. Hello, 2nd state of the union! Beat only by Delaware, five days earlier, which coincidentally was the last time Delaware beat anyone in anything, ever.

Ok, last two factoids about the states' entry dates. First, December seems to be the popular month, with a grand total of NINE states that joined during that month. Incredibly, none of them were on the same day. They probably just didn't want to create too many holidays. Second, September is the loser month. Only one state joined during those 30 days. Of course, it was California, so maybe they're not a loser month after all. Then again, California brings you such politicians as Arnold and Joseph Spinney, who was allegedly the "most corrupt politician in Fresno County history" and only mayor for 10 minutes. Now that makes you think. Are there other counties with more corrupt mayors who lasted for less than 10 minutes? California also brought you such things as Barbie dolls, the square tomato, and the ever-flattering wetsuit. Thanks a lot California.

Ok, let's move on to other things that happened on May 29th in history. Like in 1913 when Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring opened in Paris and PROVOKED A RIOT. Yep, a whole bunch of ballet enthusiasts decided to riot. First, there was a lot of loud BOOing over a bassoon solo. Then came the arguments over the piece as to whether or not it was good. The arguments led to shouts and fist fights in the aisles. Luckily the Paris police arrived to break up the riot by intermission.

Now, to be fair, I can actually see where the ballet-goers were coming from. I mean, a poorly-played bassoon really gets my goat. I could probably only name two or three pet peeves that are higher on my list. Seriously though, I simply cannot fathom several aspects of this whole issue. The most uncomprehensible part of it all is why people even attended a ballet.

Moving right along, on this day in 1919, the Republic of Prekmurje was formed. I am not making this up.

Also, on this day in 1964, the Arab League met in East Jerusalem to discuss the Palestinian situation in Israel. I'm trying to tread lightly with this paragraph, I really am not trying to offend anybody. Now, I don't know about you, but I think the Arab League would be a phenomenal name for a gathering of superheroes. By doing a very small amount of Google searching under the term "Arab", I found quite possibly the greatest picture in the world, captioned "ARAB MAN (Egpyt)". I'm hoping to attach it to this posting in a moment. I think this guy should obviously be the leader of the Arab League. I won't take any stabs at his potential superhero name or powers, for the sake of maintaining some political correctness, but I will give hints. It's got to end in "man", like all good superhero names, right? Alliteration is always good, so it should start with an "M" too. You can take it from there, seeing as there are now at least 12 viable options I can think of.

I wonder who his sidekick would be?

I gotta be honest, that picture doesn't look like an Egyptian to me. I feel I can say that with some authority because I've been to Egypt. This guy looks more like "cousin Steve", dressing himself up to be one of the 3 Wise Men in his local living nativity scene, and taking the picture himself. He's probably in California. Another tick against you, California.

By the way, I think I found the sidekick. On the same page as the first picture. Also captioned "Arab Man" but from a different country this time. I'll make sure to attach his picture. And for the record, he did not exhale.

Oh but Middle East, we're not done with you yet. On this day in 1999, Charlotte Perelli/Nilsson, of Sweden, won the Eurovision Song Contest which was being held in Jerusalem. Ok, first of all, I have to address her name. Wikipedia can't seem to agree with itself as to what her last name actually is. The thing is, Perelli isn't even close to Nilsson. Maybe they're spelled differently in Swedish. Maybe there were some errors in translation. Secondly, the Swedish title of the song is also NOT EVEN CLOSE to the English one. In Swedish it's Tusen och en natt, which as we all know means "One Thousand and One Nights". In English it's Take Me to Your Heaven. Oh yeah, I see the connection.

Now for those of you who still think Take Me to Your Heaven is an awesome song for a Swedish chick to be singing in Jerusalem, let me give you a taste of the lyrics. I'll just quote the chorus. Again, I promise I'm not making this up.

Take me to your Heaven.
Hold on to a dream.
Take me to your Heaven.
When my nights are cold and lonely,
flying high together,
on a journey to the stars.
Won't you take me to your Heaven to your heart.

I wasn't entirely sure of the punctuation so I offered my best guess. It looks like the translator felt similarly. For those of you with iTunes, I highly recommend doing a search for this song. It doesn't look like Charlotte's version is available, but if you do a search for "Take Me to Your Heaven" and click on the 5th one listed, I'm confident you'll get a sufficient introduction. Keep in mind folks, this won the contest. I think we can all guess who was put in charge of the judging...

Lay off the hookah, Bedouin Boy. No really, I think that's a pretty good sidekick name.

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Puppy!

Rare moment: Dave is writing this posting. So Rachel's wanted a dog for a long time. On our camping trip with Aaron and Katrina, Aaron and I saw an amazing dog. We were away from the ladies for a few minutes and we came across this really cool dog that looked incredibly calm, intelligent, friendly, and yet muscular and strong. We chatted with the owner for a few minutes and found out that it was a Shiba Inu, a Japanese breed. They don't bark much at all, they're very smart, they have great stamina and endurance but aren't high maintenance when it comes to exercising, and they're just all around wonderful. Great coloring too. So right then and there I told Aaron not to tell Rachel about this dog because that was the breed I was going to get for her!

We came home and I went to work. I researched a whole bunch about the breed, where I could get a puppy from, the consequences of having a puppy, etc. I went through the house and figured out how I could "puppy-proof" things, made lists of stuff we'd need to purchase, and asked tons of questions to a bunch of people that know more about dogs than I do! I even slyly figured out Rachel's preferences (on dog personalities, coloring, etc.). She knew a surprise was coming but made no connection between the surprise and the possibility of getting a dog.

Finally I made my decision. I was going to get a 3-month-old puppy named Mitzi from a breeder in Missouri. The breed is so rare in the States that I only found a handful of breeders from whom I felt comfortable buying a dog and who even had new puppy for sale! So I called the breeder a few times to make some arrangements and ask some questions. Last week I had finals. In between finals and studying, I managed to get everything else taken care of to prepare for the puppy's arrival and to make sure she arrived safe and sound! Keep in mind, I couldn't prepare the apartment at all because it was a surprise for Rachel. I was just buying the different things needed.

On Thursday morning (May 7) I took my last final, rushed to the hardware store to pick up some chicken wire, rigged up a puppy-proof system for the t.v. area (too many cords), then dashed off to the airport to pick up Mitzi. She arrived just fine and I'm sure she was content to be off the plane but she was still very scared and shy. I made the rest of the purchases and preparations throughout the day. When Rachel came home from work, I told her to stop at the top of the stairs.

I had her close her eyes and I walked her inside our apartment to a designated spot (there was a video camera set up). Her parents and her brother Nick were there, but since she had her eyes closed she had no idea. I picked up the pup and when I was right in front of Rachel, I had her hold out her hands. Imagine her sheer surprise and bliss when she found herself holding a new puppy! She was speechless; she just kept laughing!

Anyway, we've named the puppy Kira because neither of us liked the name "Mitzi." Kira's doing very well. She's very intelligent and very loving. She's still getting used to other people but she's pretty good at socializing. She's also been very great with both of our families, including small nieces and nephews. We love our new family member!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Elder Ryser!

My brother Nick, the youngest, got his mission call last week. He's going to the Spain, Bilbao mission! He leaves August 26th and will go to both the Provo and Spain MTCs. To celebrate, we went out for some authentic Spanish food at Cafe Madrid. The other guy with our family is Maggie's high school friend, Skyler, who works there, standing in for her in this family photo. Now, in the Ryser family, two of us served French-speaking missions, two of us will have served German-speaking missions, and two of us will have served Spanish-speaking missions. Dave also served a French-speaking mission, so he has tipped the scales in a good direction. We are so grateful that Nick is worthy and excited to serve, and know that he's going where the Lord wants him to be.

Guess Who's Behind the Mask?

You guessed it, my wonderful husband doing his latest "gig." He was the Easter bunny for an Easter-egg hunt in his parents' community. As you can see in the last photo, he's growing a beard for his upcoming gig...stay tuned to find out what it is!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Good Flicks

Last week Dave and I were both sick - I was home from work for two days, so we watched a lot of movies. Thankfully, we found some pretty wonderful movies to watch, so being sick was not as lame as it normally is. These are the top three that we both highly recommend:

Amazing Grace
This movie is about William Wilberforce, a member of British Parliament who worked tirelessly his entire life to end the slave trade in Britain. One of his mentors was John Newton, the man who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace" and who had transported and traded slaves for over 20 years. This movie is amazing - no pun intended. I think that the trailer is the best movie trailer that's ever been made. Watch it and tell me it doesn't give you goosebumps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6Cv5P9H9qU

This movie is about Rochel, an Orthodox Jewish woman, and Nasira, a Muslim woman who become friends. They work together, and find that they both are going through the process of having arranged marriages through their respective religious traditions. It's a fun, sweet film, and I kept thinking about it for days after seeing it. It's also part of this cool monthly movie subscription program: www.filmmovement.com. For $15 a month, you are mailed an award-winning independent or foreign film every month. Pretty cool!

Henry Poole is Here
This last film leaves you feeling so good afterward. I fell in love with the characters, and I won't tell you any more than that because it'll give it away! You just have to see it!

We got Amazing Grace and Arranged from the county library for free, and we own Henry Poole is Here, if you want to watch any of these fabulous films!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Dance

There is a great story to go with this photo. A few months ago, we were hanging out with some friends and Dave mentioned that he was never asked to a girl's choice dance. Our two wonderful friends, Keri and Kara, suggested that I ask him to a dance, and offered to decorate our apartment to have the dance there. So, they/I asked him to the dance last week - a Utah dance-asking, complete with doorbell-ditching. The high school dance was the same night, so I led him to believe that we were going to chaperone the dance. I told him it was a formal dance, and I pulled out one of my old dresses from a dance in college, and he got a hold of a tuxedo. He also surprised me by borrowing his friend's cherry red sports car, and we went out to a fancy dinner. Meanwhile, Keri and Kara decorated our place, started up the music, and even set up a mini-photography studio for our "dance photos." Aaron and Katrina came over and joined our dance, too. This was by far our best Valentine's Day ever!