Monday, April 30, 2007

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

It started off innocently enough. We spent a couple of hours after I left work packing and organizing, preparing for any sort of weather (you never know this time of year), bringing more food than necessary, yet trying to keep our load relatively small. We found out around noon that Julie didn't know if she'd be able to go because of a last-minute obligation for Friday morning. Luckily, we've got a car now, so we just packed her up and got on the road. We drove through northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, marveling again at the bustling metropolis that is Cheyenne, Wyoming's largest city at about 50,000 people. After a gas stop at the normal station, a few rain showers, and several games of "I'm thinking of something," Chris and Amber caught up to us at Howard's, the little gas station/general store/motel/fireworks merchant located at the freeway exit just where we turn off to go to the cabin. We'd made the 200 mile trip in less than three hours (very good time indeed) and got revved up to dirty up the car for (likely) the first time in its existence.

As it turns out, that part of Wyoming had 2-3 inches of rain the day before we drove up. There was also rain on the day we arrived, and the somewhat-maintained 20-some miles of dirt road had become mud and muck in quite a few places, with puddles that were really leaking lakes in parts. Huge rivulets of water cut grooves in the road, and the cars sank into the muck for most of the drive. Less than five minutes in, the car was filthy, matching our friends' car, another small sedan. The highlight of the drive in came when we happened upon a herd of antelope or deer, more animals than I'd ever seen together in a group up there. They got spooked by the cars and ran alongside us at a good 30 miles per hour for over a mile before running off across a field. It was kind of amazing. Parts of the drive made Hulk grip the steering wheel white-knuckled, culminating in the last turn-off after which there was no more maintained road. Shortly thereafter, our cars kind of slid off the road and we decided to park there and hike in.

It was rainy. It was muddy. It was nearly dark. Amber was sick, so she stayed in the car while the three of us put on our packs and bundled up and started the 2 mile hike in to the cabin, over some hills to avoid some of the road and cut the trip a bit. Of course, the shortcut involved some trekking through some marsh, and my hiking shoes are neither boots nor waterproof, so they were soaked in just a few minutes. When we got back to the road, we trudged through the mud, trying to stick with the side of the road (we were less likely to sink and add more mud to our already caked shoes). It didn't always work, so with every step we were lifting mud and guck, and it took longer than it should have to get to the cabin. When we got there, and we crossed the bridge, we realized that the water was really high - feet higher than I'd ever seen it before. We made it into the cabin and I started the fire (Yes! I started a fire!) in the woodstove, while Chris and Hulk got the fourwheeler out of the shed and hooked up the new trailer. I thought they were well on their way to getting Amber when they suddently burst into the cabin and took off their clothes, and Chris stuck his feet in the fire. After a minute, they told me the harrowing tale of attempting to get the fourwheeler across the ford and it getting stuck, and of being swept downstream, and of their fears of frostbite. I was glad I'd gotten the fire going.

"You're going to have to go get Amber," Chris told me, "because we have to get that fourwheeler out of the creek and I still can't feel my toes." So I took off my dry clothes and put my wet, muddy ones back on, and I emptied out my backpack of clothes and added a heavy cabin jacket and I trudged the two miles back to the cars.

I bet very few of you reading this have ever hiked miles through mud alone in the night in rural Wyoming. It's a very weird, almost surreal experience, and one I hope to never repeat. While I wasn't worried for my safety (at least, not really), it was a long time to be walking (well, slogging) alone in the dark with only a headlamp, trying to walk on the least muddy and sink-y parts. Luckily, Amber had realized we'd been gone too long, so she'd turned on the parking lights and that gave me a goal when I crested the hill and could see the warm orange glow in the distance. Also luckily, Hulk had forgotten to lock one of the car doors so I was able to get in and get some food, booze, and a few other things for that night and the next morning into my pack, grabbing some of Chris/Amber's stuff so her pack wasn't so heavy. Sniffling and tired, we trooped through the marsh, over the hill, down the mudsoaked road. We crested the last hill and heard the fourwheeler, that Chris and Hulk had managed through sheer force to wrangle out of the swollen creek and somehow managed to get started. It didn't do us much good (though he did take our heavy packs), and Amber gawked at the creek as we hauled our stuff over the creaky footbridge.

When we all settled in a bit and ate ravenously, Chris discovered that the water wasn't working. One of the lovely things about the cabin is its amenities - a showerhouse with a water heater, electricity, running water. This trip, the water decided to act schizophrenically, sometimes going on for 30 seconds or a minute, a few times running for several minutes (during which time we filled up every available container). Normally, this wouldn't have been an issue - we'd just have gotten water from the creek and boiled it. But the water in the creek was brown and full of all kinds of particulate matter from being so full and running so fast and churning up the bottom - nobody wanted to drink it even after it was boiled. So we didn't get showers, made mad dashes to the sink to brush our teeth, and spent most of the weekend dehydrated, washing dishes as well as we could with the little water that came out at random intervals.

So the next morning, Chris goes out to the cars to collect the remainder of his and Amber's stuff. He drives back and unloads, Hulk hauls it across the bridge, and I climb on the fourwheeler to go out and get our stuff. Chris drives really slowly and carefully up the road navigating the ruts as best as he can (the road is still really muddy), my jeans getting spattered and the trailer rattling along behind. We get to the cars and realize that one of the wheels has FALLEN OFF the brand new trailer. Chris goes back to find it while I unload the car, and he brings it back and we put the wheel back on, only to realize that there's nothing actually keeping them on - just wheels on an axle, no pins or wires or caps or anything to keep the wheels on the axle. We loaded up the trailer and I climbed on backward to watch the trailer and yell at Chris if the wheel came off again.

I doubt many of you who read this blog have ever had to sit backwards on a fourwheeler, watching to make sure a wheel doesn't fall off a trailer, while driving over fields and down super muddy roads. It's a good thing I don't get carsick, because I might have barfed if I did. And of course the wheel came off again - twice, in thick muck and ruts. Each time, we pulled the heavy stuff out and I lifted up the trailer using my body weight as leverage while Chris put the wheel back on. After a very slow trip, we made it back to the cabin, unloaded the fourwheeler, and hauled everything by hand across the bridge.

So, that was the beginning of the cabin trip. Luckily, it got better. Julie made it the next day with Skippy, and Hulk had a great birthday, and the water came on enough times that we managed to get everything cleaned up (eventually) and I even got an almost luke-warm river water "shower" with the solar shower bag. The road dried out, and with one slight hiccup (Julie had to tow us out of the muck we'd gotten stuck in), we drove home with no mishap. I'm still exhausted from the events of the trip and I somehow screwed up my back again, but I'm glad nobody got seriously hurt and we had a successful, though unusual, trip to the cabin.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


This morning, as I was walking to work, a pregnant woman tripped and fell right in front of me as she stepped off the sidewalk to cross the street. Of course I helped her up; she seemed OK, a little shaken and with gravel in her hand, but otherwise OK. It made me remember the time one summer in college when I was riding my bike to work down a street that had once had a streetcar, lo these many years ago. My bike tire got caught between the track and the pavement and I went ass over teakettle and scraped up a good bit of knee, arm, and hand. Several cars nearly ran me over, but nobody stopped to help or even asked me if I was OK. I picked myself up and went into work, washing off my wounds as best I could, and I never rode a bike in the city again. Still haven't. And I've still got the gravel in my knee. Anyhow, as the woman and I parted ways this morning, I told her I hoped her day got better, since it seemed like it wasn't off to a very good start.
* * * * *
Birthday plans have been in the works for the Hulk for the last several weeks. He's turning 30 on Saturday, and we've all been planning a secret cabin trip for this weekend (it's not secret anymore; I told him last night). Our friend Julie came over for dinner last night, because I made Early Birthday dinner (not easy to make at the cabin): seared tuna steak with sesame seeds and teriyaki, wasabi garlic mashed potatoes, and purple cauliflower crack (tm Monkey). The best part was after dinner, when I brought out the tiramisu I'd made (mostly) from scratch. I didn't have time to make my own ladyfingers, and though they'd been at the store all week they weren't there last night, so I improvised using angel food cake. I think it turned out pretty well. Secret birthday plans were also involved in the coordination of this gift, which I'm pretty excited about, and I know the Hulk is thrilled about. Yay for the fruition of secret plans! We leave for the cabin this afternoon and we're supposed to have a whole weekend of good weather. Sweet.
* * * * *
Last weekend, I didn't learn to drive my car. We wanted to go hiking on Saturday, but the weather was not about to cooperate, so instead we went to Boulder and windowshopped along the Pearl Street Mall. To give you an idea of the atmostphere of the place, when we first got there a street performer was juggling flaming batons on a 10-foot unicycle, having drawn a very large crowd. It was impressive, but we wanted to eat some falafel, look at art, peruse fancy and expensive kitchen gadgets and acoutrements, and play with toys. So we did. We even bought one gadget (a circular mesh rack thingy to go underneath pizza to make the crust crispier), and we gawked at the $26 napkins (like, $26 for ONE NAPKIN) and super fancy place settings, stuff for which we'd never have any use. After the mall, we went to the best hardware store in the world (McGuckin), an enormous store that has everything you could possibly think of, imagine, or want in a hardware store and a lot of stuff you'd never expect. We bought seeds, lightbulbs, painting tape, and a Revereware copper-bottomed pot to replace the pot that got burned a couple of months ago. This is the only place I've ever found Revereware to match the pots my mom gave me that SHE got at least 25 years ago (and they're still all good, except the one that got all icky). The new pot is really shiny and I'm almost sorry to use it.

The next day, the weather was far better, so we drove out to the Jefferson/Boulder county line to the northwest and parked at a trailhead and took a lovely hike. Earth day, we decided, is a good day for hiking, and lots of other people had decided the same thing. It was perfect weather for hiking, sunny but a bit overcast, warm with some breeze. We met oodles of people who were hiking with their doggies, and two people on horseback, and when we had a choice of trail, we picked the one that went "up" rather than the one that went flat. The up trail turned out to be quite a bit of up, down, up, down, and it ended at a fence marking private land. So we turned around and met quite a few more people with doggies. One couple had a matched set of what I think were Irish setters, all long reddish hair and bounding around, and a teeny tiny Pomeranian (I think) trying his fluffy best to keep up with the big dogs. 'twas very cute. And then our hike was over, so we drove home to hose off and then headed up to the Northland to have dinner wtih HulkRents and he got his FIRST birthday dessert, a Boston Cream Pie.
* * * * *
So I'm leaving work at noon today, and we're packing up, hitting the grocery store for diet coke and vegetables, and we're heading on up to Wyoming for the first cabin trip of the season. I can't wait.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Interview with Abby, aka Mennogirl

Abby sent me five questions to answer. I like answering questions.

1. Since I haven't been reading your blog for very long, I don't know that much about your life, so this should be a lot of fun. Obviously something that is very important is the upcoming wedding to the Hulkster. So tell me, how did you and the the Hulk meet? Maybe you have already posted your "story", but I would love to hear it.

The reason I haven't posted about the Hulk and MLE story is because when I started writing this blog, everyone who I thought would read it knew both of us, so they already knew the story. Now it's been more than a year, so at least two people who DON'T know both of us are reading the blog.

Here is our story: we met on the internets. Once upon a time, we were both members of a message board devoted to discussing backpacking in Europe. Most of the people in the "pants in person" link section were also once members of the same site. Anyhow, I planned a trip to Europe when I graduated college, and stuck around on the board after I came back. Hulk's brother was also a member of the site and recommended to Hulk that he start reading the site when he wanted to plan a trip to England. Part of the site was a non-travel discussion board, where members posted about all kinds of frivolity, and I got to know him through his writing in that part of the site. One day, there was a thread about people's IM handles. Hulk posted his yahoo IM, and I was kind of intrigued by him, so I IM'd him. We chatted back and forth. It started once a week or so, then more every other day, then every day, then hours a day. Then after I'd admitted to myself that I really liked him, I gave him my phone number. That night we talked on the phone for seven hours. We started talking on the phone a few times a week. Then, Hulk came out to California, ostensibly for family reasons, but I met him at the airport with some flowers and we spent the whole weekend, short the family obligation, hanging out. I showed him around Berkeley and San Francisco. A month later, he came out again for a message board meetup that had already been planned. Then I visited him. And so it went, for a year and a half, until we were really tired of living 1000 miles apart, so I moved to Denver and six months later he moved in with me. Now we have two kitties and have been living in sin for almost four years. The reason I refer to him as Hulk is that on that message board, his ID was CredibleHulk. That's his "online" name to me. His real name is Dan, though some other people call him Doola. He has a lot of nicknames.

2. I know that you have also traveled to China, what other trips have you been on?
Well, I did a 6 week, 10-country whirlwind backpacking trip around Europe back in the summer of 2000. After that, the economy tanked and jobs were a lot harder to come by in the Bay Area, so it took awhile to have enough money to travel again. I've been on a lot of trips within the US, around most of the country except the South, and to Toronto once. I never traveled at all (except for to Texas to visit family a few times) until that trip to Europe, and I went by myself. I am still proud of doing that. We've got some trips planned over the next couple of years, some within the US and some to faraway lands. Hulk's itching to use his passport again.

3. What made you decide to start blogging? And why do you keep writing now?
I guess I started when my friends made the jump from message board to blog. I set up the one I have because some people I knew used blogger but had the comments set to friend only, so I couldn't comment unless I had a blogger ID. I started actually writing when people I knew had linked to my blog and I felt like a doof for not writing in it. It's been a good creative outlet. I keep writing because I've found that I need this creative outlet, and it's a good way to keep in contact with my nerdly friends who live all over the US and Canada. This way everyone knows what I'm up to.

4. I know that I have been cheating with all these tricky two part questions, so I'll make this one easy, what is your favorite color?

Green! Green is my favorite color. I love most shades of green, and in any given week you'll find me wearing something green at least 3 or 4 days out of seven. Maybe it's because I have green eyes. I've always loved green.

5. Which of the following are you more likely to do/have already done: body piercing, tattoo, sky diving, or learn karate?
Most likely to do? Learn karate. I've taken taekwondo, and I'd love to learn capoeira, but of the list, karate appeals to me most. Second would be skydiving, though I could never tell my mother about it, then body piercing (though I don't know what I would pierce), then tattooing. I'm too wishy washy to like anything enough to put on my body permanently.

P.S. To play along…
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Play some video games, buy some Def Leppard T-shirts

Eight gold stars (sorry, I'm stealing your gold stars Leah) to anyone (besides Hulk) who gets the reference in the title!

After a little bit of rigamarole yesterday, we got posession of the car and had to get it smogged. Of course, despite the fact that it wasn't the end of the month, a Monday or a Friday, we ended up having to wait nearly 45 minutes and so didn't get to the DMV 'til after it closed. Plus, man, the emissions testing centers here are so weird. I think they are staffed by zombies. So we went to the grocery store that is far away (yay! the good grocery store!) and then went home.

This morning, we went to the DMV at 8:15 and I was in and out of there in less than five minutes*, plates in hand, significantly poorer in bank account but significantly richer in where we can go (to the mountians to go hiking this weekend!) and what we can do. The car is sparkly clean, dressed in her new plates, and has a full tank, so the sky's the limit. The title's in my name, the car loan is set and ready to be paid back, it's all done. It's mine. I feel like a grownup.

2007's been an interesting year thus far - engagement, wedding planning, car buying. All the things that adults do, and I really still don't feel like I'm old enough to be doing these things - I mean, I'm pretty much the same person I was when I was seven years old, except now I get to eat whatever and whenever I want, make my own sleeping hours, and have sex. I still feel like me, though. Maybe I will really start to feel like I've always thought a "grownup" would when/if I spawn. Though some would argue that I grew up a long time ago, since I've been finanically self-sufficient since I was 17. It's an interesting though exercise - when does one become an adult? when is one grown up?

*I am not exaggerating here, I walked in and walked right up and got helped immediately. There was hardly anyone in the place. Shortest time I've ever spent in a DMV by a large orger of magnitude.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

adventures in bus riding

On Sunday, we decided to go to Target.

This is not an easy task for us. Since we don't have a car, and the nearest Target is about three miles away, we can't just walk there. Usually we make a Target run or two when I use a state car for work and have it overnight or through a weekend, but it had been a while since I'd had one and we really needed to make a Target run.

So I went onto our local transit website and figured out how to get there on the bus. Luckily, there's a bus that goes almost straight there from not too far from our place, so we hightailed it down to 13th and Broadway and hopped on an 83. I knew how to get there using some other buses, but this was much nicer - very few stops, the crowd of people weren't smelly, scary, or obviously mentally ill like the crowd on the other bus we would have taken (that route's notorious). It dropped us off in a very convenient place and we sauntered right in to Target, looking longingly at everything that weighed more than a few pounds, and bought essentials.

Riding that bus in Denver made me feel a little different than riding the bus normally does. When I was in middle school and high school, riding the bus meant freedom to go places outside my tiny town, freedom to go to the pool or the movies (nope, we didn't even have a movie theater!) or shopping, or, later, to go to San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area to visit a boyfriend or have an adventure. I never drove then, so the bus was my only way to get around, and I was so much younger than most other people riding the bus that it was kind of exciting when someone my age got on. I actually met a few friends this way, one of whom I'm still in contact with. I also had several interesting encounters with unusual people (I still remember the guy who smelled like mange and told me all about how a laser disc player worked, and I also remember the lady who kept lighting a smudge stick and huffing it. She was traveling with a guy who obviously thought he was Jesus, down to the long blond hair-blue eyes-beard-robe-sandals outfit, and also, the lady called him Jesus).

When I moved to the Bay Area for school, riding the bus was the easiest way to get to some of the off-campus apartments and houses where my friends (and eventually I) lived. I took BART to get into the city, but took the bus to get around there, too, and the bus patrons down in Berkeley and SF were students, commuters, and vagrants - a whole microcosm of society in one vehicle. I almost got run over a few times by buses running red lights in Berkeley, which prepared me pretty well for the way drivers act in Denver - seriously, the light can have been red for 30 seconds and it doesn't seem to matter; the bus will plow right through. Anyhow, I had to ride a bus to my first real, non-contract, full time job out of college (I took BART for part of the way, but it was in Alameda so I had to bus the rest), and the people on THAT route were mostly old Chinese ladies who would buy vegetables in downtown Oakland, or middle-aged African-American men on second shift. Living in the Bay Area, the bus was just how I got to work or how I got home/to friends' places - it wasn't freedom, just transportation.

Denver's bus system is really good. The light rail is getting better and more useful, but the bus system will get you within a few blocks of just about anywhere in the metro area (and some outlying areas as well). Since moving here, I've learned which sorts of routes are considered commuter routes, and which ones are how the people without cars get around. Though I've been a person without a car for a year and a half now, I've been lucky enough to have access to state cars for work and have had to spend very little time on the bus. It's good to know that it's there when I need it, but at 28 years old, with a good paying fulltime job, I feel really out of place on the bus most of the time - it's mostly lower income, teenage to elderly, people of varying races (but largely minority) riding the buses I've ridden in Denver. Hulk takes one particular bus home from school, the aforementioned notorious route (when he can't get the better one) that travels all of East Colfax avenue - the tenderloin, the skid row, the prostitutes and addicts and the very poor, disabled, or homeless, all traveling along a street that goes from interesting to weird to sad to run down as one goes further east. He prefers the other bus, but when it's nearly 7 PM and he's been at school since 8:30 in the morning, he takes what he can get. Those buses run frequently, and some are Limited and don't stop very often, so one can get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time and transfer to whatever route takes one to where one wants to go.

Which is what we did last night. We had to take the bus out Colfax (it was a Limited, so didn't stop every two blocks, and only took 45 minutes and not an hour and fifteen to go the same distance), wait for another bus, and take it south. Then we got off the bus, walked to someone's house, looked at a car, test drove it, and put down a deposit. All in about 3 hours. I got the car loan stuff figured out today, and as of tomorrow we will be the proud owners of a 2002 Honda Civic (4 doors, 49K miles). As we rode the bus home from the woman's house, all the way out in BFE Aurora , I looked around at all the people riding the bus: the woman with the little girl, the young guy with the beard and the mohawk, the middle-aged men and women and young people going downtown to have fun, and thought to myself how glad I am that as of tomorrow we won't have to do that again. While Hulk will still ride the bus home from school sometimes (when it isn't nice enough to bike), we won't have to ride the bus to Target. Or to Michael's. We can go camping this summer, and hiking in the mountains, and all the things we used to do. We can go on road trips and visit our friends up near Boulder, and go up to the cabin. We can visit Hulk's parents. We can drive to California next March only to make our way leisurely back after our Big Event. We will be people With Car, and I can't wait.

So why so sudden? The car's a fantastic deal, and I happened to see it on Craigslist yesterday and didn't want to pass it up. I've been looking for a while, and saving my pennies, and my monthly payment is going to be tiny (hooray for great credit!). It's the most expensive thing I've ever bought, but with its low mileage, we'll probably be driving it for 10 years, after Hulk teaches me to drive a stick. Heh.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Happy Birthday to Monkey!

Dearest Monkey,

I love you very much, and I hope you have/had a most excellent birthday. You are an amazing and fantastic person, with many gifts to share with the world, or at least your friends and family, whom you love fiercely. Thank you for your friendship and for your writing and for being Monkey.


When Giant Bugs Attack

On Thursday last week, I played hooky so I could hang out with Houseguest, and she, Hulk and I went to the Denver Botanical Gardens. I'd never been there in the early spring before, and the weather was doing its usual Spring in Colorado schizophrenia, vacillating between overcast/cold/windy and drizzling weird snowlike substance. Luckliy, in the earlier part of the day it wasn't precipitating, so we walked to the Garden and took advantage of its nearly deserted state to explore unmolested by children or ladies in red hats.

Currently at the Garden is an exhibit of giant bugs made of various types of wood and other natural materials, and we decided to encounter them as we would, but not to deliberately seek them out. I'm not sure we ended up seeing all of them, but we did like the ones we saw, some in plain view and some hidden in trees or behind things. I played around with my camera's settings a bit to try to get some interesting photos of the flowers that were blooming (it's still a bit early for the Garden to be all floral, plus it was cold and overcast so I'm sure some of the flowers were hiding). Just as we finished the outdoor part and went into the conservatory (where it's all jungly, humid and huge tropical plants), it started to snow, so the warm room was a nice respite from the weather. Of course, going from cold to warm my camera kept fogging up so I kept getting weird photos and the focus didn't want to work. After a while, I just gave up.

Anyhow, here are a few of my favorite photos from Thursday's excursion. I'll put the whole kit and kaboodle up on flickr when I get home tonight and have Hulk's computer available - the uploader doesn't work on my work computer. Anyhow:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

This has been a particularly dry week in terms of posting, but I do have some good stuff coming, including photos from Thursday's excursion to the Botanical Garden just before it started snowing. But I wanted to do a quick update to mention two things.

First, we had to change our wedding date. I'm pretty sure it's not going to change again, and we have the venue reserved for us on our new date. Here's how it all went down.

1. My mom called me last night and said first thing, "Your sister called me and wanted to know if you're sure you have the club reserved."
"Yes, I'm sure," I told her.
"Well, she was concerned, and was also wondering if you realized the date you picked was Easter."
FUCK! I said to myself, Easter? That early? Who ever heard of Easter being that early? and then said, "No, Mom, we didn't know. We only looked at academic calendars and the wee tiny calendar in the back of this year's to see the 2008 dates, and holidays weren't marked."
"Your sister was wondering if the club does any sort of Easter celebrations, like an Easter egg hunt."
"I'll have to call and ask." While very few of our guests would have a problem attending a wedding on Easter, I knew the club thing was going to be an issue.
2. I called Oldest friend. "Does the club do anything for Easter?" I asked her. "Yeah, they do a brunch and an Easter egg hunt," she told me. "Why?" "Oh, no reason," I said. "Except did you know that the date you asked your parents to reserve for us was Easter Sunday?" "You're kidding," she said. "The event scheduler person should have been on top of that. Let me make some calls."
3. I stressed. Hulk stressed. Visiting Friend made sympathetic noises, since she knew a little bit of what we'd gone through to pick our original date.
4. We talked. Hulk decided that he could just arrange ahead of time to take the week after his spring break off, since we'd have to get married on Saturday at the end of the break rather than (as we'd hoped) the Sunday at the beginning.
4. Oldest Friend called back. "Nope, she totally screwed up. Easter weekend is totally taken up by club events, so nobody can use it for anything. But, it's as of yet unreserved for the weekend before, the weekend after, the entire month of April and the middle two weekends of May." "March 29," I told her. "It's the Saturday after Easter. We wants it."

And so it is ours, and so it goes. It never occurred to me that Easter might be that early, and none of the calendars we'd looked at showed holidays, so we didn't even consider. And the event scheduler at our venue dropped the ball as well. So at least we know now, rather than in a few months when one or the other realized and we would have been way more screwed. Though we may have to pay a bit more for catering (it being on a Saturday rather than a Sunday), it's still March (off season), the venue costs the same, and it might have been hard to find vendors willing to work on Easter. Write it in stone, people, we're getting hitched March 29, 2008.

And the second thing? Well, the second thing is that this evening, I asked Hulk to marry me and he said yes, and I gave HIM a ring that *I* picked. It looks like this, except without the cheesy engraving:

He'll wear it until the wedding, and then switch to a wedding band. I think the occasion calls for celebration, so we're going out have someone else cook for us, and we might even go wild and have a tasty adult beverage we haven't made ourselves. Crazy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This is only tangentially related to work

Everyone tells you not to blog about your job. Unless you blog completely anonymously and you have a job that millions share (like WaiterRant), you just can't get away with blogging about your job and expecting no repercussions.

So, I don't blog about my job, even though people who know me in real life know who I work for and kind of what I do. What I did today was have a meeting that actually went better than any other meeting I've organized or led before, and it made me feel really good. I'd spent a good amount of time on and off since November trying to get this group of five people (plus me) together for a day to discuss some things related to the program I run, since they kind of help me, though they don't officially work for the same place. They are all older and retired and/or have full-time other jobs, so getting everyone's schedules to match up was a bitch and a half. But it's a good group of people, and we had a lot we needed to do, and you know what? We did it, and we had fun, and it was really good. The end.

Also, we have a houseguest who has never been to Denver before, so she spent today galivanting around town while I was in my meeting and the Hulk was at school. I expect her home any minute to fill me in on the new wing of the museum that we still haven't seen (we're cheapskates and haven't remembered to go on the first Saturday when it's free for CO residents). Last night we had tasty Indian food; tonight we'll make Hulk some tasty dinner of some sort and maybe go out and do something fun, or maybe the fun will happen tomorrow night since Hulk's always exhausted on Wednesday nights. She'll be leaving early Friday morning to take the train back to the Bay Area (unfortunately, timing didn't work out so she'd be here on a weekend), so I'm going to take part of tomorrow off to hang out with her. She's an old friend with whom I've lost some contact, so it's nice to have a chance to reconnect, and when I bitch about family and wedding issues she understands since she knows my family almost as well as I do. While our lives are very different at this point, we still have quite a bit of shared history, and it's interesting to see where life has taken her.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I'm a little disgusted, frankly.

Good advice for today:

1. If you are at work, and discussing work-related things on a cell phone with someone you assumedly would like to think well of you, don't go into the bathroom while still on the phone, pee and poop, flush, and then leave the bathroom without washing your hands, all the while blabbing away to the person on the phone about the next project you'd like to do with him/her. Because one of your coworkers might be in the stall next to you and decide never to go near any food you have prepared again. UGH.

2. If you're going to pick up a new habit from a friend or your fiance, try not to let it be insomnia. Me? I've never had a problem sleeping, ever, except when I had to take prednisone for poison oak back in college. However, for the last several weeks, at least 3 nights a week or more I haven't been able to sleep untill the wee hours. Last night? Was a record - I didn't sleep until after 5 AM, and I called into my supervisor at around 8 to let her know I wasn't going to be at all productive unless I slept some more, and I didn't make it in to work until 12:30. But I *did* finally sleep.

3. It's a lot more fun to play nerd games when your character has the touch of death.

The mercury has gone up more than 30 degrees since yesterday, and it's gorgeous out. I'm thinking that I'll go for a run in the park rather than to the gym this afternoon, especially since it's a Monday and 5 PM at the gym on Monday is the worst time to go. Yep, I think a run in the park is a good idea.

Friday, April 06, 2007

For anyone who's been crossing appendages or holding breath, thanks, you can stop now!

We have our venue picked out and booked for next spring. We got a sweet-ass hookup through Oldest Friend, whose parents are sponsoring us (they're members of the place), so we're getting the member price, which is far more reasonable than the non-member price. Now we've got a date, a state, and a place, so the fun part can begin. It's in the town where I grew up, on a private lake with a lawn and a beach and lots of trees, among other amenities. We'll go look at it in May when we go to CA, so Hulk can see it and so we can meet with the event scheduler person. I'm so excited to be able to get married at this place; it figured into quite a few birthday parties and other shindigs I attended as a kid, so I have fond memories of it. Plus, it's way more convenient to nearby fun stuff and places to stay than the other places we'd been considering.

Man, I kind of can't believe this is really happening! Whoo!

Oh - I should write about something non-weddingy, for most of you who don't actually care about wedding stuff. Hmmm. A friend from the Bay Area will be visiting us next week for a couple of days before she takes the train back to Emeryville. Our nerd group is doing nerd stuff this weekend, and I've decided to play a new character who will totally kick some ass. It got rainy and sleety and freezing cold again this morning, so I shivered on my walk to work. And the most exciting thing that's happened to me today was reading Frema's latest installment in Tragic Love Friday. Because I am such an exciting person.

The internets have ben quiet this week. Is everyone out doing fun stuff except me?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tales of Bucolity or, Why I am Pyrophobic

Once upon a time, I wrote a few things here about what it was like to grow up in the sticks. And by the sticks, I mean 5 miles up an unmaintained dirt road outside of a tiny town that had a corner store, a post office, and not much else. We lived in this little cabin on someone else's land that was ostensiby a cattle ranch, and in the summers my dad had to repair the fences pretty frequently because the cows would push them over trying to get in at our garden, much nicer for munching than the dead wild grasses and scrub during those years of drought. We shared a well with a neighbor (the one who mowed his orchard nekkid), and had electricity that tended to go out whenever we had a bad storm - to me, lit candles still mean power's out rather than ambience. I went barefoot everywhere, learned to ride my bike in a field with no training wheels, and had to plan play dates and parties very carefully to ensure everyone could get there (sometimes the road conditions meant four wheel drive was necessary).

Anyhow, Monkey and some others expressed interest in reading more about bucolic country living, so in honor of this week's "guess the lie," I am going to throw you a bone and tell you the story of how my house almost burned down twice within two weeks.

Every kid growing up in the '80s in my area was treated to yearly education about forest fires and Smokey the Bear ("Only you can prevent forest fires!") The mid '80s were all about the drought in Northern California, as each summer more and more of the national and state forests burned. My experience with fire was primarily limited to the woodstove we used to heat our little cabin in the winter, and nobody I knew played with fire (kids) or burned leaves in the fall (adults), since there were very few deciduous trees in the area. So all of the Smokey propaganda didn't make a lot of sense to me, but I accepted my Smokey tract and pencil every spring.

One summer after a particularly dry winter, everything was dead, dry, and brown by April. The summer was hot with little relief, just heat wave after heat wave, and in July the whole area was a tinderbox. We'd go to the pool in the next town over, my little sister a baby wearing disposable diapers that would just keep soaking and soaking up the pool water until they burst. There was no escaping the heat at home, since we didn't have overhead fans and certainly didn't have air conditioning, so we'd head to the library after the pool and recover from the short, hot trip before piling into our car that again, had no AC (and vinyl seats with metal buckles, the most uncomfortable things ever on the skin of my legs), and driving the 45 dusty hot minutes home.

One day, several miles to the north, someone thrw a lit cigarette out a window. Someone else was working in a machine shop in another area to the north, and some sparks caught in the dry wind and flew across the way to a dry vacant area nearby. Conditions were perfect, so each of these fires spread very quickly. Though they started in two different places, within a day or two they'd met up, and had outstripped the ability of local firefighters to put them out, so the CDF (the California department of forestry) was called in. They decided to start a back fire about a mile from our house to burn away some of the dry fuel and help contain the combined blaze that didn't show any sign of stopping. Normally, this might have been a good idea - but this time? This time, not so much. As it had been doing for days, the wind changed again and the fire burned in the wrong direction - toward our house.

My memories of that first fire are somewhat vague, tinged with fear and ash and sorrow. "We have to bug out," said my dad, "so put anything you really want to keep in a bag, and we'll load up the car with it and you guys can go stay with the Fosters." My dad's cousin and some family friends made the trip up the hill with their pickup trucks filled with towels to soak and tools to dig trenches, while my mom drove my sisters and me down to our friends' house to stay the night, praying to whatever deity might exist that the wind would change again and the backfire that had been started to prevent our house burning up wouldn't actually end up engulfing it. We heard on the news that more helicopters had arrived with enormous buckets, and they were using a wealthy neighbor's pond and the nearby resevoirs to fill up and dump. In the morning, my parents came back to get us - our prayers had been answered, and they'd gotten the backfire more or less under control. Over the next few days, we unpacked the car and gave more thanks as the combined wildfire was also contained. I could breathe again.

Ten days later it all happened again.

This time, the fire came over the hills from the county to the east. They were sure they'd be able to handle it quickly, but the resources of the entire state were already taxed by the fires all over the place. The wind and dry conditions were again perfect for this quick-moving blaze that jumped fire breaks and seemed to spread like slime mold. My dad had this wild idea that he had to see the fire, so after we'd thrown everything most important to us in bags (again), we all got in the car and drove over to look at the fire, at this point less than a mile from our house and spreading fast. It came up through a canyon, so we parked the car and my sister and I climbed out and stood by the car, while my dad trotted over to look out over the canyon into the inferno. Just then, a gust of wind came up from below and blew the hat off my dad's head and down into the hot angry blaze. That year, my dad got a new Greek fisherman's cap before Christmas.

I have only ever felt fear like I did that day one other time in my life, the time we climbed a mountain and got caught in a lightning storm. That time, though, I was afraid for myself and my boyfriend. The day of the second fire and the lost hat, I was afraid for the lives of my family and the disappearance of all I knew. I had never actually seen the first fire, though I'd smelled it, so to really see it, to KNOW with every fiber of my being that it could easily travel the last quarter mile and burn down our house, that it could blow up over the road and we'd have no means of escape - that was true fear. I felt the heat and the strength and the ferocity of the fire, the need it had to consume in order to survive, the hot wind that urged it along toward my family - that was sheer terror. I still remember the maniacal look on my dad's face when he realized his hat had blown down into the canyon, and the insistence in my mom's voice when she urged my dad to come back to the car so we could drive to safety. We managed to get back to our house, load up the car, and drive down to town, and again our house was saved in the nick of time, though this time nobody'd had time to bring their trucks, towels, or tools. We did have several fire trucks parked in the field outside our house through the night, and in the morning we went home and my mom made pancakes for all of the CDF guys.

Ever since then, whenever I pass an area where a wildfire's been, even if it was months before, I get panic attack symptoms - my heart races, my mouth goes dry, I breathe faster and feel afraid. Just the smell of a wildfire brings back the frightening memories of that summer, the feeling that nothing in my world was safe. For years after that I was afraid to go near fire of any kind, even to light a candle with a match or a lighter. Fire was unpredictable, so any type of fire might suddenly mean the end of all I held dear, so I steered clear. To this day, I keep a respectful distance from the fire pit at the cabin, I never involve myself with fireworks, and I can use a lighter, but still shy away from matches. My house didn't burn down that summer, nor did anyone I love get injured or killed by either of the roaring blazes that thrived in the dry, hot, windy conditions. But I will never forget that smell, or that sound, or that feeling of complete helplessness in the face of something that without which mankind would not be what it is. I've learned to respect fire for what it is, but I don't know if I'll ever be completely comfortable around it again.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Weekend Update, with a bit of good advice thrown in

This weekend, we didn't do a whole lot. On Saturday, we took a walk around the neighborhood and through the park, and I got to take photos of my favorite subject.

Then, yesterday we finished a project that Hulk started last fall. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, so we opened all the windows and did this:

I'd never done any of this sort of painting before, and I think it turned out pretty well. And I found out that a sea sponge actually smells like the sea. Kind of salty and stinky.

Those came from the only pretty thing our neighbor has in his "storage" area (that our landlords built a fence so we wouldn't have to look at.)

And now for Monday's good advice: If you have a great big breakfast and a great big (late) lunch, freshly made guacamole and chips makes an excellent light evening repast.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Answer; this week's "all of these things"

The answer to last week's "All of these things are true but one":

#4, I saw the last Sublime concert before the death of the lead singer.

See, it's a lie, because I didn't get to go to the concert. I was SUPPOSED to go (of course, we had no way of knowing the guy was going to OD), but my friend Laura's car broke down so we didn't go. And then he died. And I didn't get to see them one last time. I did see them 3 or 4 other times, so I guess I'm OK with that.

All the rest of those things were true!

All of the following things are true but one. Can you guess which?

1. My house almost burned down twice within two weeks the summer I was 9 years old.

2. I can lift one eyebrow at a time, but can only sneer on one side of my face.

3. Two flats of Vitamin Water and one case of Smart Water were delivered, unsolicited, to my house about 10 days ago.

4. I went to my senior prom with my best friend.

5. My cats both love catnip.

6. I once dated a guy from whom I learned 3 useful things: how to flip/toss the contents of a skillet while sauteeing, how to make my own salad dressing from scratch, and how to win at Scrabble.

7. I never ate boxed macaroni and cheese until I was 10 years old.

8. I ate Tiramisu in almost every country I visited in Europe in the summer of 2000.

9. My cousin's dad played the motorcycle cop in the movie "Sin City."

So, which is the untrue statement?