Two Years

Although I question the existence of a “date-aversary” as much as I question the existence of “Sweetest Day,” I have to point out that my bride is fabulous. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two years since we first met, as we seem to be perfectly compatible at all times. This level of consistent happiness is something I wish everyone could experience.

Remember, when people say, “relationships are hard,” they’re lying. Only bad relationships are hard.

Now, just five more months until our first anniversary. That’s paper, right? Ooh, origami!

EEEEEE! Er, I Mean, Eee

From Kat:

Although my husband pretends to object to both a dateversary and an anniversary, I still make out like a bandit on both days. Our anniversary is October 31st, while our dateversary is May 14th. 2 years ago on May 14th we met for the first time. All has been perfect ever since. Still no fights, no name-calling, no belittling- It’s bliss with an excess of smooching and cuddling.

We had a 50$ limit for our gift exchange. I bought him two books, a shirt, a Cross pen and pencil set and a gorilla tripod for the camera. He got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers AND A NETBOOK. Obviously he added a zero to our money limit. It is an Asus Eee in blue. I also got a remote mouse and a fabulous carrying case. Love Rocks! Thank you Gary.

Editor’s note: date-aversery is not and should never be a word.  Webster said so. I’ll go along with the day though.

Armadillo Uprising

I’ve lived in Texas for 9 of the past 11 years. In all that time, I’d never seen a living armadillo. These stupid little critters are splattered all over the highways, but I didn’t see one actually moving. After so many years, I might be forgiven for thinking that the armadillo is actually a fictional creature, like the jackalope. I’ve seen plenty of dead jackalopes in souvenir shops, so it’s not too far to stretch for the fictional armadillo theory.

This weekend, Kat and I went on one of our occasional walks through the local nature trail, down by the water. At the beginning of the trail, we caught sight of a rabbit scurrying down the trail, which is a rare enough sight that we already felt lucky to have made the trip. As we continued down the trail, we encountered cardinals, squirrels leaping across the trail, and finally we came to a grassy field between trees and water.

Yes, that is indeed a live armadillo thrashing about, looking for bugs. The next day, we walked out there again and caught sight of another armadillo. Finally, the day after that, we went for a walk near a local campground, and a third armadillo walked across the road in front of us.

Thus begins the armadillo uprising of 2009. Mark your calendars.

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Naan Better

Yesterday was a near perfect day. My morning began with a highly anticipated package finally arriving, (Gary’s Valentine ‘s Day present). The huge box is stashed in our bedroom closet so shhhhh…

Then my much-needed chinchilla shelves arrived via UPS. I spent the next two hours happily constructing my chin’s extreme new condo. I spent the next 30 minutes sipping tea in front of his cage and watching him explore his new digs. Then my boss at the Nature Center called. He bought me a Merauke blue tongue skink! I rushed over to see her and she is a looker. I named her Meredith. Gary was due home soon so I jetted back and made him drive me back out to the Nature Center to see and photograph Meredith. Afterwards I picked up my new glasses and contacts. I look so smart now.

After a wee rest, (it was my day off after all,) I helped Gary make dinner. He made me Indian food, (chicken korma to be precise). It was perfect but I distracted him at one point so the bread got burned beyond recognition. We watched TV and looked at pics of Meredith before we settled down to sleep. After our customary “I love you”s I turned to my beloved and said- “Bar naan, it was a perfect day.” His response? Sine Qua naan.

Ah- you gotta love him.

Surprise!

First of all- I am not whom you would assume… This is the “Woman.” I was going to holiday hijack this blog in order to post sweet somethings for and about the man who brings me such happiness, but I am woefully and willingly computer ignorant. So when I hung my head low and told him the error in my espionage, he created an account for me. Only now am I prepared to woo.
Worse than my technical geekery however was the mantra I’d like to address, which I foolishly lived by for 15 years: Relationships are hard. The succinct point I’d like to make on this virgin post is that they do not have to be difficult whatsoever. We are the blissfully happy and content proof. The cracked foundations of past entanglements left me weary and paranoid that I would become another victim of my own broken wisdom. Thankfully I have been proved wrong. No arguments. No disagreements. No eggshells whatsoever. I don’t believe in luck, karma or soulmates, but I know my life has changed. Here’s to another great year!

Food and booze

I would like to point out that not all fruitcake is bad.  Alton Brown’s Free Range Fruitcake, for example, is yummy as heck.  And, unlike many fruitcake recipes, it only takes a week or two to age, not months and months.  Some recipes start with, “gather your ingredients in July…”  Not for me, buddy.

Of course, now my coworkers think that I only make desserts with a solid alcoholic base. In the past month, I’ve brought in Black Forest cake (kirschwasser in several places, as well as port wine), panettone bread pudding (rum), and now the fruitcake (rum and brandy). I am not a lush, honest.

Someone must think we are low on wine, because I came home to a ridiculously large box, containing a very generous gift basket and four bottles of wine.  Kat was heartened to see at least one bottle of white.  We have about ten reds but no whites until today.  Whoever sent this (the card was unsigned), thank you.  You rock.

Back home

Galveston_01.jpgGalveston_02.jpgGalveston is still a mess, a month after Hurricane Ike. They only just reopened the cruise terminal, but the traffic lights didn’t work and there were a lot of boats in places boats don’t normally rest, as well as large piles of debris.

Very easy drive back to San Angelo, with almost no traffic the whole route. The dogs were excited to see us, and wondered if we’d brought them back a turtle to eat, or perhaps just one of the rum cakes. We’re glad to be home, and Kat’s already looking at cruises and shore excursions in the Eastern Caribbean. Better check the savings account…

Tulum

HoneymoonCruise_Cozumel_02.jpgWe spent all of five minutes on the island of Cozumel, all of it standing in line to move to the ferry or racing back to the ship after the ferry dropped us off in the evening. Our ferry is the yellow catamaran on the right of this photo, while our ship (the Conquest) is attempting to hide behind the Triumph over on the left.

HoneymoonCruise_Cozumel_25.jpgWe had a great historical tour today, with our guide Manuel being a magnificent source of information on all things Mayan. This guy is a college-educated archaeologist/historian, and he was a delight to listen to. I’ve never seen a tour guide who so completely knew and obviously loved the material he was presenting. Anyway, we went to the ruins of the city of Tulum, an hour or so inland from the port of Playa del Carmen. The ruins have been restored and preserved very well, and the vast numbers of temples in such a small area was almost overwhelming. The equally vast numbers of iguanas was fascinating to one member of our couple (I’ll leave it to the reader to determine who that was).

HoneymoonCruise_Cozumel_74.jpgWe did do a little shopping, including picking up a Mayan cartouche and a couple blankets and t-shirts. Of course, we arrived at the ship just before it was time to leave, so no shopping in Cozumel itself.

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Grand Cayman

HoneymoonCruise_Cayman_04.jpgYesterday was our thrill ride tour, today was our nature tour. The weather was beginning to look a little wet, due to what had just become Tropical Storm Paloma. There was rain on the ship as we docked, and the ground was wet on the pier when we hit land, but the rain that threatened us all day didn’t arrive. We wandered around the three shops that were open in the port of George Town, then hopped on a bus to hit our several destinations for the day.

We stopped in a tiny little tourist trap area named Hell. It is a bunch of very dangerous-looking rocks that have been colored black over time, and the locals have put up a post office that sells Hell postcards and will even mail them so they’ll have a postmark from Hell.

HoneymoonCruise_Cayman_50.jpgAfter Hell, we hit the road to one of the many many Tortuga rum and rum cake outlets. Since they had the same prices and selection as the one at the pier, we decided to not haul a bunch of rum cake around Grand Cayman. The Turtle Farm is a fabulous place, with a truly astounding number of sea turtles in their tanks. This place is not just a tourist attraction, but keeps a breeding program going as well. Of the hundreds of turtles that hatch each year, over 10% are released into the ocean, while 70% are kept as part of the exhibit and breeding program. The other 20%? Um, they generally become soup. Sorry animal lovers. Sadly, we didn’t get to spend nearly enough time at the turtle farm, because we had a schedule to keep. We did meet our friend Flappy there – he really wanted to get back in the water.

Then, it was time for the main event, the grand finale, the claim to fame of the island of Grand Cayman – the Stingray Sandbar. This is a truly amazing location, out in the bay off the northern coast of the island. For many years, fishermen would stop here, in this relatively calm and very shallow area far from shore, to clean their catch. After so many years of free fish, the stingrays on the sandbar are nearly tame. We swam with them, pet them, fed them, even got to hold them. Absolutely one of the best experiences ever. We couldn’t understand why there were several able-bodied people who paid for this tour and refused to get in the water. Mystifying.

We ran around George Town for about an hour, picking up souvenirs and the freebies that the jewelry shops seem intent on handing out, then back to the ship. The ship left an hour earlier than originally planned, due to what had now become Hurricane Paloma.

Back aboard, we had a couple hours of down time, and then the second Formal Night. Some folks seem to have a very relaxed definition of formal; the table next to us had a gentleman in a rather formless flannel shirt. He sure looked comfortable, anyway. Baked Alaska for dessert, first time Kat had tried the dish.

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Jamaica

We really loaded ourselves down with shore excursions – only at the Caymans did we have even an hour of time between the tour and the time we needed to get on the ship. Not complaining, just explaining the relative lack of photos of the towns we were ostensibly docked at or near.

HoneymoonCruise_Jamaica_27.jpgWe went on the Zipline Adventure today. This involves climbing up hills in order to rocket from treetop to treetop to ridgeline via steel cables and pulleys. We had a great trio of guides to keep us safe and entertained. Hollywood was the leader of the pack, with his constant patter of “bing bong, party like a rock stah!”

Mighty Mouse and Dean were the other two guides, but I didn’t get good photos of them. Mighty Mouse (real name Shakila) insisted that we were lucky because we had the pretty guide. Gotta love confidence.

After climbing and zipping for the better part of two hours, we wandered back to the ship for a supposedly relaxing massage. Our two South African masseuses apparently didn’t get that memo. We felt like we’d been tenderized by the time they were done, but Kat (former massage therapist) complimented them on their technique.

A great dinner of smoked duck appetizers (tastes like ham!) and seafood newburg, and then off to the magic gymnast show. We wandered into the showroom, thinking we were early, and most of the good seats were taken. Then, one of the crew handed us VIP seating, marked as “just because,” and we got to sit so close we could see pores on the dancers.

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Sea Day 1

HoneymoonCruise_04.jpgOur first morning aboard the ship was great.  It didn’t get above 75 today, but it was still a very pleasant day. We had breakfast with some Texans and a Canuck chef, then sat near the bow and read. We had a little wine-tasting, which was marred only slightly by a table near us which seemed to be surprised we were interrupting their rather boisterous conversation with some sort of wine-related event.

Dinner included lobster, where they sang a happy honeymoon song to us, and we finished the evening with a drink while listening to a jazz trio. They were very good, and Kat seemed to really appreciate the drummer, having been one herself.

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Cruisin’

We are, as I write this, on the first sea day of our honeymoon cruise. We’ll be arriving in Jamaica on Wednesday, then Grand Cayman Thursday and Cozumel on Friday. We left from the still-devastated Galveston on Sunday afternoon; the ship left two hours late because it had to drop passengers from the previous week in Houston (where the cruise had been operating from while Galveston got back in order enough for the cruises even if not for their own residents).

So far, it’s been gorgeous and fun. There are a suprisingly large number of Texans on the ship, but we did have breakfast with a Canuck as well, and a wine tasting with a couple from Iowa. And several couples from Texas. 🙂

Not sure how often this will get updated before the 10th of November, but I’ll try to post at least once more this week. No photos before we return, though.HoneymoonCruise_Towel_01.jpg

Champagne for real friends…

536 days after we met, Kat and I are getting married on October 31st. We’re happy to share this time of our lives with each of you, and anyone who is in San Angelo (or wants to trek here) is invited to share in some sort of shindig that our good friend Dora is throwing for us on the afternoon of November 15th. Dora rocks.

We’re leaving town as soon as we can, heading for a great cruise of the Caribbean.  We’ll be zip-lining through the trees in Jamaica, swimming with turtles and sting rays in the Cayman Islands, and touring the ruins of Tulum near Cozumel.

If you don’t feel you can attend the shindig, just know that all of you are in our hearts.  Many of you had to tolerate our dating from afar stage, some people graciously helped Kat escape Lubbock and move to what is now our cozy home.  We have wonderful friends all over the States and you are welcome to share in our joy.  No gifts necessary, just come to raise a toast.

Love to all, Gary and Kat

Ch-ch-ch-changes

So, we had planned an October 14th date, with reception the following weekend.  That’s changed, for a few logistical reasons.  The new plan is October 31st JP ceremony, then we leave town for Galveston.  A day on the island, then our week cruising the Caribbean, then back home.  Reception is maybe the 16th of November.  Who’s coming?

Critters!

My mother tells me that, even as a child, I was not too enthusiastic about having pets of any kind. Naturally, I’m living with an animal nut. I’m pretty sure this is closer to “irony” than anything Alanis Morissette ever sang.

Wednesday, the Nature Center where Kat works was to provide animals and a presentation for over a hundred Girl Scouts for their day camp. Somehow, I was drafted to assist. I ended up educating myself about Australian animals to enough degree to fake ten minutes of Q&A(1), and then handled a ferret for the evening. And, there was that incident with the snake…

1 – Did you know that, while Australia has many snakes, New Zealand (closest neighbor for the geographically-challenged) has no snakes at all? That’s the most interesting thing I can come up with. Sorry.

Weekend Wrapup

First, thanks to all who wished me happy birthday this past Saturday.  I appreciate it.

The lovely Kat put together an unusual method of gift-giving – a scavenger hunt. I wandered around the nature center, following her rhyming clues, hoping not to be told to put my hand in the viper cage. It was a very cool haul of presents, including a few pans to be used for various stir fry and baking needs, as well as a few books I’ve been looking at. Of course, the cocktail shaker got a good workout this weekend, making a few batches of raspberry margaritas to accompany the Serrano ham-wrapped figs.

Sunday morning we hit the lake, after applying what appears in retrospect to be insufficient amounts of sunscreen. Kayaking across 3 miles of placid water, watching for critters, and watching The Boy splash around in the water – good times.  The eventual “seen animal” list included a bevy of turtles, a flock of birds, a swarm of dragonflies, a school of jumping fish (none near the fishermen, though), and a couple water snakes. The first snake was a cottonmouth (aka water mocassin), which was swimming away from the crazy humans at a good clip. It must have been at least 4 feet long. The second slithery critter was a diamond-backed water snake of much smaller size.  It popped up and then slipped beneath the surface, never to be seen again.

We also discovered that paddling a tube is not very efficient (no bow or stern, so you tend to paddle clockwise and counter-clockwise rather than forward).  Well, The Boy discovered this, after much instruction on the proper angle of attack for the paddle.  Then, we discovered that The Boy likes to paddle the kayak.  Come back here, you little monkey!

Overall, a great birthday and good weekend. Now, if my coworkers would just stop saying, “Got some sun this weekend, eh?”  SO original.

It’s Kayak Time!

Kat’s kayak arrived via big truck last week, and then sat on the love seat for two days due to lack of time. Here it is.
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When Kat arrived home Friday afternoon, she chanted “It’s kayak time” repeatedly until I changed into swim trunks and slathered on some sun screen. I took my inflatable kayak, which is (in contrast) a big pig of an overgrown pool toy.  But, still got us around the lake for a couple hours, during which we saw critters. There were many turtles poking just above the surface, a nutria putting on a diving show for us, a swan, and a water snake. Maybe that water snake, who knows?

The only problem with taking the kayak out, other than sunburn? The cat no longer has a giant bed.

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