13 counts

it's winter solstice. the darkest day of the year. today is also the day the marines involved in the Hadetha scandal were charged with murder. 13 counts.

i'm so confused how men who go to war can be trained to kill, then, are left to navigate the messiness of who is friend and who is foe. after months at war, does everyone become a foe?

civilians are killed everyday in this war. it's ridiculous to believe that ONLY our enemies are being killed. but we don't call that murder. we call that spreading democracy.

does anyone else see how fucked up this is? that men at war are being charged with murder? isn't that the point of war? isn't it a bit righteous of our own governement to punish these men who they say got it wrong, when they got this whole damn war wrong.

a good friend of mine, a solider in iraq, ends every email with this message.

"People sleep peacefully at night because brave men stand ready to do violence on their behalf- George Orwell" i don't sleep peacefully and i don't want ANYONE to do ANY violence on my behalf.

so does that make him my friend or my foe?


a good thing

today is the last harvest at the farm. the zucchine vines are dying back, the broccoli is flowering out, and the cucumbers are slowly coming to an end.

an end.

somehow this ending stirs me. but i'm ready. to be honest, for the first time in my life, i'm ready for winter. maybe i'm tired of the pace of summer, the picking, the weeding, the canning. all of the energy it takes for one to grow their own food. but now, i can slow down. i can curl up on the cold morinings and not have to go out into the wet fields with my buckets and boots.
i can simply heat up the soups i've been storing and i can feel good. good about what lies ahead.

i know that if i lived a hundred years ago, the work would not be over. no, i'd be chopping wood, making bread, maybe even killing the chickens.

but of course it's not a 100 years ago and I'm a vegetarian so that's it. my work here is done. an ending is sometimes a good thing.


one small step

did anyone watch ms. curic become the first female to anchor the national news on tuesday?

i did.

i sang for joy when i heard her open the CBS evening news, the news i grew up on. i almost peed my pants. but at the end of her broadcast, she announced she was not going to come up with her own sign off, her goodbye to her fellow americans. she decided to leave it up to us. we can tell her how we think she should sign off by simply going to CBS.com and typing in what we think ms. curic should say. because obviously she cannot use her own words, her own voice. rather, she left it up to us.

Rather would never have done that. He knew what he wanted to say.

this may be one small step. but it may just be one giant leap backwards for womankind.


no bar code

for those of you HAVEN'T stopped checking my blog....

sorry it's been a few months. it's just that summertime seems to get away from me every year. by the time it's nearly septemeber i finally start to get my summertime groove on. and really summertime and blogging just don't seem to go together the way pepper jelly and cream cheese do. or the way cucumbers and dill meld together to make the most incredible pickles. which brings me to the "meat" of my post.


working on a CSA (community supproted agriculture) farm these past two summers has completely changed the way i view food. recently, i learned that the CSA movement was started in Japan, by housewives who wanted to know where their food was coming from. so they made arrangements with the farmers themseleves. they call this arrangement teikei, or
"food with a farmers face on it."

i understand this translation now. how my energy, my sweat, and my care is in each vegetable i tend to. i understand this more fully everyday. and i realize that this is an important job. feeding 40 families is one of the most rewarding things i have ever done in my life. and to think everyone used to eat this way, live this way.

and then i begin to wonder where it all went wrong, where we lost our way. i wonder why food travels 1,500 miles before we eat it. why we export american grown food, only to import the exact same thing? and why the art of subsistance, of growing food, of preserving food, of putting food by for the winter has been lost?

and i wonder...what would it be like if all our food came with a
farmer's face on it instead of a barcode?



it's easy to forget what happened on this island a little more than a year ago when you're an american. it's amazing how we can turn our worries and our hearts off with the flip of a switch. if we decide we've seen too much, we just turn off the TV.

but the people here aren't so lucky. and they haven't forgotten the "big wave" that swept over this tiny crescent of sand. they have stories to tell.

the woman in the massage shop who lost her husband told me her story. she grabbed my wrist and pulled me to her and made a swirling motion with our bodies. it was as if we were tumbling in the sea. two people together. but when the wave receeded she was alone. her husband didn't make it.

or the french man who came to this island one last time to put the images of bodies lined up on the beach out of his mind, forever. he can't seem to forget. the smell, the dead pregnant woman, the lives that ended here. so he came to put those old ghosts to rest. but can any of us put those ghosts to rest?

some thai people won't even come to phi phi island. they think it's full of ghosts. they're right, i can feel them.

truth is, i guess i have some old ghosts of my own.

when the other masseuse told jana that she ran up the mountain to escape the tsunami and said in thai, "on the mountain, thai people and foreigners we all the same, we all cry. everyone was the same up on the mountain" i wondered...where did all the ghosts go?

and are they all the same?


happy birthday amber!

it's my sister's birthday today. i bought a phone card. it doesn't work. i tried another phone. still nothing. another phone. nothing. i'd try every phone on this island if i had to. just to wish her happy birthday and hear her voice.

no refunds, no connections.

that's how i feel tdoay. but yesterday was my day of tears. so i'm not allowed anymore. don't worry though. the sun has soaked them all up. at least for now.


smile, nod, "pants off please"

what i'm about to tell you may shock you. those prone to blushing (paige) may wish to turn away. mom, dad, if this is the first time checking my blog, I apologize. I know this is not the girl you raised me to be.

so, we leave chiang mai today for the south of thailand, where we intend to live out the remainder of our trip lying on the beach, drinking mai tai's and getting massages. in preparation for this i decide i want to get waxed. you know, waxed. so, we go into our favorite massage parlor, where jana and anne both had cute thai boys rub their feet. we like the place. it's nice, neat, smells good.

but still, i am nervous. i've never done this before. jana and anne coach me, tell me it only hurts for a second. they tell me they'll be down the street at a cafe. I grab jana's arm. "make sure it's a woman" i say in desperation. she says something in thai to the boy behind the counter. "chai, chai" (yes, yes) he says.
i think it's all sorted. i try to relax. they leave. they laugh.

the boy motions for me to come upstairs. i follow. he has a rice steamer and an old tin can. he is stirring the wax. the woman smiles and nods and motions for me to take off my pants. i smile. i look at her, i look at him. he's still stirring the wax in the old tin can. i look at her again. she nods. i am freaking out.

i stand there. i am not smiling anymore. he turns to me. smiles, nods. "pants off please" he says in broken english. i shake my head. "it's ok, i do, i do before." oh my god. this cute boy is going to see my unruly "bikini area." i want to kill jana. what did she say downstairs?

but jana is long gone and so is my inhabition. i am in thailand afterall. so, i do the unthinkable. i take off my pants and get on the table. i lie down. i close my eyes. i think this could be the most embarrasing thing that has ever happened to me. or is it?

the wax is hot. i wince. "too hot?" he asks. "chai" i say. he blows on it slightly to cool it. he HAS done this before. still i can't believe this is me. on the table. legs spread. in only my underwear. i put my hands behind my head and take a deep breath. i whisper "jai yen yen" which literally means cool hearted, or i'm chill, chill. "you speak thai?" "mai chai" (no) i say. or do i?

monks and prostitutes

how is it that in such a beautiful country my mind wanders always to the ugliness of injustice? poor young thai women must become prostitutes to survive while the poorest young thai boys get to enter into the highest religious ranks. novice monks. they wear orange robes which makes them unmistakable. the prostitues aren't recognizable. but when i see an old white man with a young thai female i know who she is. thailand is beautiful and sad all at once. it's beauty lies in the mountains and in a million little things. the flowers. the rivers. the rice fields. the people. the rain. it's amazing this much beauty exists in one place.

i have so much more to say, but can't.

these photos will give you a peek of life here. faces, color, anne always smiling. we are having the time of our lives. i haven't laughed this much in a really long time. it feels good. we have taken a 13 hour train ride (with only one bottle of wine) to the north. we've gone to an orchid farm, we've been to many, many markets, ridden an elephant, taken one crazy bamboo raft down the river, hiked to a hill tribe, taken an all day thai cooking course, and yes, the massages.

we leave chiang mai tomorrow for the southern island of phi phi.
much more to come...


is that a rooster?

it's 2:45 am. jana and anne are sleeping in the bedroom with the air-con on (that's short for air conditioning). out in the living area my skin is sticky just sitting still. i get up to look out over the balcony and i love the way it feels to walk barefoot on the teak floor. even if my feet get black from the soot that covers everything in this city. bangkok is intruiging from up here on the 7th floor. city lights, thick air, dogs barking, and did i just hear a rooster? yes.

i'm another place.

i forgot how good it feels to be a forang (that's foreigner in thai). slightly giddy, slightly curious, and slightly more aware of myself. tomorrow i will feel the effects of the 20 hours of travel, but tonight i'm content to sit here.

being aware.

in the morning, we'll be up for yoga at 9:00, then to a place called RAW for brunch, then to an exhibit, and then off to Chiang Mai for an overnight train ride to the north of Thailand. we'll be staying at the
  • gap house
  • for the next several days. thai cooking classes, trekking, bamboo rafting, and of course the massages i've been dreaming of. sweet jasmine dreams....



    my first time with a master's degree.

    my first time as a "matron" of honor (in my sister's wedding).

    my first trip to a radiation therapy appointment with a good friend.

    my first time out on the water paddling this summer.

    my first sunburn of the year.

    my first trip to Thailand!




    the amazing dwarf trout lily!

    mentioned in a previous blog. extremely rare and hard to find.

    sometimes life is so hard.
    but it's the little things
    (in this case, the really little things)
    that seem to get me by.



    today, april 25th, signifies the length of time a WOMAN has to work IN ADDITION to her regular hours to equal the pay a man makes at the SAME job, with the SAME qualifications. That means women have to work from January 1-April 25=115 days EXTRA to recieve equal pay to men for the calendar year. so, today, april 25th feminsits are asking people to wear red to show their OUTRAGE at this inequality and discrimination that STILL exists in the workforce. i'm not just wearing red...i'm seeing RED!


    our town

    it's my first saturday morning post-thesis. matt's working and I am...well...i am sort of at a loss for what to do.

    so, i'm sitting at the ole store, working on my second latte (ok, maybe my third, but who's counting?)

    Then, i did something i've never done before....I bought the Northfield News.

    i love that i can come to a coffee shop and feel like i'm just sitting at home. i love that i know everyone here and nearly everyone who walks by on this gorgeous day. i love that the cover story of the paper is of Al Franken, who was speaking here last night. I also love that further in the paper, i find a story about the local trout lilies, which are now in bloom and grow only within 3 counties of the WORLD! and i love that i live in one of those counties. and i also love that i can take a class on the "ethics and aesthetics of travel photograpy" in our town, and then go hang out with some 'townies" at Boonies bar.

    i love that despite all the places i've lived, i feel most at home...in our town.



    i'm posting for the second time today... those are the kinds of things you can do when you finish a 101 page thesis.

    so, why am I posting again? what else could i possibly have to say?

    well, i've been signing my name lately as ajp. it's how i sign my comments on blogs, my emails, and my notes.

    why is this significant you may ask?

    well, as i was signing today, i couldn't help but wonder, why do these letters feel so good to type, and why do they look so good? and then it dawned on me...it's only one key away from sjp...(that's Sarah Jessica Parker for those of you who are not familiar). i'm only a pinkie away from her initials. it makes me even more fabulous...and frivilous for taking the time to write about it. but, hey that's just me, post-thesis.



    well, there is no more procrastinating to be done

    because it's done

    my thesis.

    i finished and it feels amazing, now i'm off to the printer...

    i hope to blog more now that it's DONE!


    Amber Lynn Hope Pettis Chunk

    my little sister has a really BIG name.

    i spent the weekend with my sister while both of our men were away. we shopped, ate pizza, drank wine, stayed up way too late talking, laughing... being sisters.

    you see, the thing is, although having friends is great, sisters are the only ones who can really tell us when we are making a BIG mistake. with men, with jobs, with hair, and definitely with bras. my sister took one look at my pathetic piece of worn-out lycra and said, "absolutely not." so, we went bra shoppig. me, my boobs, and my little sister.

    there is nothing like the truth in a dressing room. in fact, there is nothing quite like the truth spoken by your sister. while it's nice to hear about how well you're doing, sometimes, the most refreshing conversations are when you're just able to lay it all out there and talk about what a shit job you're doing in life, and have somebody say, "yeah, you could really work on that, oh, and by the way, your breath stinks, you're not that fun anymore since you started school, you're really bossy, and i think you are kind of annoying sometimes" (for example).

    so, luckily i have my sister to remind me of my shortcomings. but like a good bra, my sister offers just the right amount of support. without being too restricting, or digging in too deep. she fits perfectly... and i love the way she makes me feel.



    it's the vernal equinox
    and this female robin
    speaks for all of us
    when she tells me she's still waiting....

    waiting for spring.



    ever heard of ssb? secret single behavior? maybe you remember it being referred to in my favorite show of all time, satc. that's right, sex and the city. well i've discovered that secret single behavior also has a married counterpart, which i have recently begun to exhibit. i've been spontaneously breaking out into infomercials. my husband, of course, is my audience. just yesterday, in the middle of our nightly "routine" i started in on one of my all time “best sellers.” he oohed and aahhed over my amazing ability to turn dull, dingy sterling silver jewelry into brilliant, sparkling objects of desire. he tells me he thinks i have a chance to make it big. i agree.

    i must admit, its comforting. this secret married behavior.

    i like to know that every night without fail there will be the
    "up, fluff, fluff, down" of his pillow just as there has been for the past 1,534 nights that we have been keeping each other’s secrets.


    umbilical theory

    in class yesterday, while trying to help us all understand object relations theory and the concept of attachment, my wise professor just dropped everything she was holding and said, "The belly button explains it all....it is our connection to humanity." amongst the blank stares, she caught my eye, we both knew.
    i haven't been able to stop thinking of it since.

    all of us came into this world literally attached to another human being, yet, without this membrane tying us to one another, we make our way through life, trying to convince ourselves that we are not one...but we are. a collective humanity. and it all starts with the belly button...more blank stares.


    cat's out of the bag...

    well, my secret's out. i'm a feminist.
    and to think i actually thought maybe i'd be able to keep that
    under wraps for at least a little longer than my second blog!


    anyway, there are lots of things you don't know about me yet. for starters, i now have,not one, but two cats, which officially makes me...

    a cat person.


    cups of coffee

    "you can't have a cup of coffee with the landscape" -greg brown.
    i love sipping cups of coffee with my favorite people, which has pretty much kept me in this godforesaken wilderness we call minnesota my whole life. i was born to be a surfer girl, spending my days in the ocean, floating, warm. but as i said before, you can't have a cup of coffee with the landscape, or the ocean for that matter. and you certainly can't have a cup of coffee with a blog...or can you. some of my favorite people are bloggers. so, here's to cups of coffee, to blogging, to my favorite people. this blogs for you anne, jana, jess, paige, chanda & bryan.

    this photo is of me having a cup of coffee with, ah, the landscape (ok, maybe it is possible, greg brown is full of shit, and obviously grew up on a farm in Iowa and made up that stupid song to make himself feel better. i may be moving soon)