Monday, December 29, 2008

Good night, sweet pup

My family's beloved dog Benson has passed away.

Faithful to the end, and a fierce protector of the family and home as long as he was physically able. My parents originally got Benson as not just a pet, but as a sort of alarm system as well - my neighborhood had quite a few break-in's at the time, our house included.

I could hold him in the palm of my hand when we first got him, but he soon grew up to be a compact-yet-muscular dog, sweet to anyone who made it into the house with our permission, but heaven help the stranger who walked up to our yard.

My mother's third child, he thought he was a lap dog even though he weighed at least fifty pounds. He shed like it was going out of business and would jump on you, sometimes leaving bruises from his heavy paws and thick claws. Until a few years ago, he'd get so excited when he saw me that he'd go into a frenzy. His eyes were the sweetest things on earth. I think he could actually understand my mother, and my brother was his alpha male.

If you're not an animal person, it is probably impossible to comprehend how we could be so emotionally intertwined with a dog, much less sympathsize. But most people understand.

Fourteen years of devotion and unconditional love will leave a gaping wound in its absence.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Believe in Your Truth

Today I was catching up on a blog that, due to alphabetical listing, hangs out near the bottom of my blog feed and thus doesn't get read nearly as often as it should. "PilgrimSteps" is written by a woman who is not only a great writer and photographer, but a chronicler of daily life with disability. That she manages to do this bravely, touchingly, with such generosity of spirit and without a hint of self-pity is impressive and inspiring. Especially for those of us who wallow in self-pity more than we should.

In a post from December 19, she interviews Gary Wesley, author of "Seven Wheelchairs: A Life Beyond Polio" The whole interview is interesting and worth a read, but I was struck by his response when she asks what his advice would be to aspiring writers who'd like to write about their own disabilities:

"Don't begin unless you're wiling to learn more about the person you may really be ... I cannot say that I knew Gary Presley entirely until I finished Seven Wheelchairs and then began to contemplate what I wrote. I pray I'm not deluded, but I think I like myself a little better now.

As to the practicalities of the writing process ...
  • Write every day.
  • Join a critique group, preferably an online one where people will be more apt to tell you the truth about your work.
  • Take criticism without becoming defensive.
  • Regard criticism as opinion.
  • That means stay true to your voice and your message.
  • Grammar and syntax are important but not as important as the story and the truth it contains.
  • Tell the truth even when it hurts, especially if it is painful for you to tell it.
  • Remember the truth is sometimes subjective, which means each person perceives events and people differently.
  • Believe in your truth.
  • Prepare to be rejected, multiple times.
  • Persevere in the face of those rejections."

"Seven Wheelchairs" at

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh brother!

In defense of Christmas music. Specifically, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Two wildly different blogs I read regularly mentioned how "depressing" the soundtrack is, and a friend made a similar comment recently.

What, all Christmas music has to be one of the following?

a) religious
b) ridiculously upbeat
c) histrionic

Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas music, all of it. I'm a huge fan of Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, Perry Como. And I love swingin' loungey Christmas music (Dean Martin, anyone on the Ultra-Lounge label). And who doesn't enjoy the three tenors doing "Ave Maria"?

But every once in a while, it's quiet in the house, you're doing something that you want to give some attention to, like decorating the tree or making a fire. Those moments often call for something a little subtle, unobtrusive even. And Vince Guaraldi's piano is nothing if not subtle.

It's not like every song is a dirge. "Skating" sounds like a jazzy snowfall, if snowfalls had genres. The tinkling keys couldn't represent anything but the falling of snowflakes. "Christmas is Here" is the classic "dance" song for the cartoon, where all the kids get distracted from their theatrical duties and start be-bopping around (my personal fav - the girl that dances in one place, cocking her head side to side).

In fact, the only one that doesn't have at least a pick-me-up section is "Christmastime is Here." True, even the version with lyrics sounds more wistful than cheerful. But it's also my favorite on the album. To me it sounds . . . introspective. Children and adults certainly celebrate the holidays differently; it makes sense that we wouldn't appreciate the same music all the time.

Of course, indulging in child-like fantasies is one of the best parts about Christmas - eating candy like it's going out of style, getting excited over wrapped presents, debating the merits of colored versus white lights for the tree (well, maybe kids don't do that). But by only celebrating the children's version of Christmas, we're denying adults the pleasure of a grown-up version: getting together with friends you haven't seen in a while, having drinks by the fire, taking in the light displays at a reasonable pace. We can all enjoy Christmas, and I'd say that for being the soundtrack to a children's animated television special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is definitely a grown-up treat.

Listen: E-Music will let you listen to small snippets of every song on the album.

Listen: NPR's Morning Edition discusses "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (has a few of the songs as well)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mutual Affection, briefly

"One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to."

-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This is not a Darryl Worley song.

I miss my friends.

This is not a new topic for my blog, so feel free to move on if you've heard it all before.

I'm feeling a little left out of the big deal of She's Getting Married. I have come to the realization that there are some things that I'll miss out on by going the solitary, online route, like trying on dresses with my friends.

I was watching the TLC show about a New York bridal salon, "Say Yes to the Dress" (we can go into the shame of that later), and maybe it was because I'd had a couple glasses of wine and it was, oh, 1 a.m. on a weeknight, but a particular scene got me a little blurry-eyed.

A bride pulls this (admittedly gorgeous, albeit stupidly overpriced) wedding dress over her head and stands on the little platform to see herself in the mirror, and suddenly the camera cuts to her mom, and then to her bridesmaids. The look on their faces said it all. "Wow. This is the dress." And everybody started laughing and smiling and hugging. Very touching.

I didn't get to have that!

And while, yes, I realize that in the long run, it's much better to have ordered my dress online, paying a pittance, a fraction of the cost of your run-of-the-mill David's Bridal thing than to blow a wad of cash on something I'll wear once so that I could experience that "moment," right now I don't care. I want that experience! I want someone besides me to get excited about this wedding.

Don't get me wrong. Kyle wants to get married. He wants a wedding. He's had opinions on things, like food and music and hiring a friend to DJ and whatnot. But it doesn't feel like anyone else is really into it.

But should they be?

Am I letting the artifice of the media version of weddings cloud my emotions? After all, it's me that's getting married, not my friends. Of course they're not being kept awake at night, thinking, "My God, what will Jen and Kyle do for a first dance?!" That would be silly.

Yes, I know why it has come to this. I have no bridal party. Showers and bridesmaid dress fittings are the stuff of which wedding buzz is made. How can they be interested in that which they are not involved? And Kyle and I made that choice ourselves; it's not as if people were begging me to not drag them into something that required random dress purchases.

If I had bridesmaids, by definition they'd have to be interested - people would be deciding who's throwing the shower, everyone would worry about their dresses (Will it suck? Will it be obscenely expensive? Will it make my butt look gargantuan?) and thus, they'd HAVE to talk to me, keep up with what's going on.

But I didn't want to burden anyone. My friends live in other towns and are very busy people (hell, most of them have children, do you know the time good parenting entails? I can only imagine). These people don't have time for standing around looking at each other in pastel-colored nightmares, deciding which one is boring enough to not make any particular person look horrible.

Not being a bridesmaid isn't the only reason why I don't see my friends as much as I'd like to, of course. We're all busy women, with jobs and/or kids and new homes or new relationships. And when you're on different tracks, it's hard to run into each other. Many of my friends have been married for several years, and now they're parents - that's a completely different social life than someone who's just starting a relationship, or someone like me, still trying to figure out just what my routine is, as a wife-to-be, new homeowner and employee. Some of us are going to Disney World, or are camping with our kids. Some of us are still going out on dates, or have the free time to fritter away on Christmas tree placement (against the wall? which one?). We're not exactly going to run into each other like that.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere, really. There is nowhere to go.

I think, perhaps some of this is really about growing up. This is not the wedding of someone right out of college. I'm trying to plan a big-ass party of a lifetime, and I'm squeezing it in between buying new tires and finally getting around to registering for homestead exemption - and my friends are too. So I guess it comes down to this: I just can't have that TV show wedding experience; I don't live a TV show life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Now, more than ever, thankful

Tomorrow, three-quarters of my family will be together for Thanksgiving (that's just counting the nuclear family of two parents and two kids).

My parents and my brother work at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, and thus all three will be working on Thanksgiving, preparing for the retail nightmare that is Black Friday. Luckily, my parents don't have to be at work until 4 p.m., so Kyle and I are hosting our parents and his sister and nephew for a Thanksgiving lunch, noon-ish.

My brother, on the other hand, will be working 9 a.m.-7 p.m. -- he won't even make it to his in-laws Thanksgiving. I usually refrain my cursing in this blog, as it's supposed to be family-friendly, blog name notwithstanding, but I mean this deeply and sincerely: fuck you, Wal-Mart.

In the past, I've taken on the whole Thanksgiving meal myself; I have a Martha/martyr facet to my personality. This year, Kyle decided he wanted to fry the turkey, and anything that gets cooked outdoors is his territory (I happily concede this). That saves me a lot of time, effort and space in the refrigerator, as I usually brine my bird, a three-day process. I asked my parents to bring some wine, and Kyle asked his parents and sister to bring something simple, so I still get to do the rest.


Simple Green Salad
Deep-Fried Turkey
Savory Dressing with Sage, Cranberries and Pecans
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Mr. Sykes' Cranberry Relish
A selection of assorted olives and pickles
Brussel Sprouts with Cream and Peppered Bacon
Velvet Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Sauce or Gravy
Freshly-baked Yeast Rolls
Pumpkin Pie with real whipped cream

(I'm hoping someone makes a sweet potato casserole.)

We'll be offering a selection of beverages, including a fantastic white called Conundrum, Champagne, two reds my parents are bringing, Coke Zero, coffee, eggnog, Silk Pumpkin Spice, and milk. There's also a wide range of beers to choose from: Guinness, Blue Moon's Full Moon Winter Ale, various Sam Adams, and--let's not forget--Budweiser and Bud Light.

Mentally preparing for such a big meal makes me introspective. It's strange; my fortunes tend be out of step with that of the nation's. I can remember struggling in my first "job" after dropping out of graduate school, while the rest of the world was getting rich off the technology boom. And now that the country's mood has darkened, I find myself in an enviable place: a steady job that I really enjoy, likable and friendly colleagues, a home of my own and a man with whom I look forward to spending the rest of my life. Throw in my generally good health, some true friends, and family nearby and I've got a pretty damn sweet life!

I have so much to be thankful for, and it doesn't take a holiday to remind me; the news does a good enough job. More often than not, I wake up every day with the realization that I'm happier now than I've ever been. How many people can say that?

And while I'm well aware that everything in life changes, and times will get tough at some point, right now, this year, at this moment, I'm very thankful. I try to soak it up - really enjoy it for what it is now. I'm so blessed.

Thank you, my friends, my colleagues, the people who've randomly stumbled across this. Thank you for reading. I hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful as well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Busted Most Elegantly

I have a very lovely friend who just happens to a) have a sharp eye for editing, and b) be a master of English grammar. Oh, and c) be incredibly witty.

After reading my post from yesterday about Busch Gardens, she wrote to me. She wanted to point out a minor slip in grammar she found, twice, in the post.

I found it pretty damn funny (and, alas, spot-on). So funny that it would be a crime not to share it with others.

I'm sorry that you are distressed with regard to Busch Gardens. It is Sean's favorite park as well. We discovered that February is a great month to go there. Pick a Monday, and you will be certain to avoid all field trips and most tourists. It was dead there, and Sean got to re-ride almost every coaster without any waiting time.

Now I must confess to my own source of distress. My most articulate and well-written friend-- you--has fallen prey to the misuse of the world only. Examples from your recent blog:

"Busch family only has one seat on the board" and "like only purchasing fish"

Sigh. Has the Busch family had their fortune reduced to owning only a seat on the board? Have they lost their homes, cans of peas, and their personal underwear? Is everything lost? And, are they truly purchasing only fish for their parks? Have they stopped contributing to their employees benefit plans? Must visitors bring their own toilet paper? Is the park being run on generators powered by windmills and serviced by kind volunteers? I am now more distressed than you with regard to the misfortune of the Busch family. How sad for them -- much less for thirsty park-goers! Please keep me abreast of the status of the poor Busch family. I think I might just send them a can of peas and a roll of toilet paper.


We do what we can...

(I adore you. I simply could not resist pointing out your continued, yet unfortunate, misplacement of the word only. If you weren't so brilliant, I would not bother. Feel free to amuse yourself at my expense as well. I love you!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Busch Gardens for sale? That's bad news.

Busch Gardens rocks in part because the Busch family was personally involved, pouring millions back into the parks (they bought SeaWorld in the 90s).

Now that Anheuser-Busch is simply one more cog in the global machine that is InBev, the Busch family only has one seat on the board, and rumors are swirling that InBev is thinking about casting the parks aside; they need money to pay back the significant debt they took on in buying Anheuser-Busch in the first place.

Will new owners reinvest profit into the parks like the Busch family did? Or will they become just another business, more concerned about fattening the bank accounts of their investors than providing an exceptional experience to park goers?

A smaller, yet burning, question is this: will there still be free beer at Busch Gardens?

Goofing aside, this actually bums me out. I love Busch Gardens - it's my favorite amusement park and it has the best roller coasters. And you can get guys to go with you, due to the terrorizing SheiKra (now floorless!) and aforementioned free beer.

SeaWorld was on a slow dip into obscurity until Busch Entertainment Corporation bought it. They cleaned it back up and invested money, bringing on new attractions (and a new, related park, Aquatica). Not to mention - free beer.

And all of Busch Entertainment parks recently implemented some seriously green initiatives, like only purchasing fish (for animals and guests) from sustainable fisheries, switching to biodegradable plates, forks, knives and spoons, even removing recyclable materials from trash by hand. Not only green, but probably expensive - will the parks' new owners give a damn about the environment? Or the well-being of the animals?

As a beer enthusiast, I was already concerned about the InBev deal, and what it would mean for not only the beer, but the breweries located throughout the nation, including Jacksonville. As a park-goer, I'm seeing an even gloomier future.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More of "that bed" and the season's first fire!

Over the weekend, Kyle decided we should see what we could make out of the "bed" that's resting in three boxes in our garage. I have been uneasy with this. The company did refund my money, so in essence I do not own this bed anymore - I shouldn't make use of it. However, the prevailing argument (outside the fact that I'm being ridculous) is that the company did tell me to throw it away, so obviously they don't want it anymore - it's up for grabs!

The karma on this feels bad to me, but practicality eventually won. Kyle opens all the boxes, drags the headboard to the bedroom and then looks for the fasteners and assembly instructions.

Except there are none. Not one screw, not a single nail, nary a slip of paper with any sort of advice, direction or explanation to be had.

For Kyle, this was one more irritant in a day full of them (flat tire, malfunctioning pressure washer). For me, it was a relief.

On a positive note, we made our first fire in the fireplace last night!

I loved it. The fireplace is one more thing--along with goodies like the porch and the garage-- about the house that feels like a luxury to me. I have never had a fireplace before, and I love fires (not in a crazy way, just the crackle and the warmth).

And for the first time in my life, I have an actual mantle from which to hang our Christmas stockings! I'm so, so, excited. I love this time of year!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Halloween & Football: Inextricably Linked

For me, anyway.

See, the Florida-Georgia college football game is always held on the last weekend of October. And my die-hard Gator-loving man has to go to that game, must go. So every other year* my Halloween weekend is focused on football, not Halloween.

Which sucks, because I love Halloween! And no, it's not just the chance to dress sort of slutty - many of my past costumes have been pretty chaste (making them downright dowdy in horn-dog, twenty-something Gainesville). No, I love the turning of the year, I love the pagan association, the old myths, jack-o-lanterns, I love all that stuff.

That stuff has no place in tailgating. In fact, out of the little group that traveled to Jacksonville for the game, Kyle and I were the only ones who dressed up. No creativity, I'm telling you.

So Kyle and I went off the Lynch's Irish Pub in our costumes:

Kyle is Gator Man. His costume was quite the hit. Although his bizarre style of dancing probably brought as much attention as his outfit. He's actually had the mask (which sadly, did not make it back to Gainesville) for a while. Our friend Chris brought several back from San Antonio, so that all the boys could be creepy and weird together.

I am ... well, there's no getting around it - I'm dressed as a naughty schoolgirl. I can't really say "slutty," because I'm pretty well covered-up, save my legs, and I was wearing bloomers under the skirt. What can I say? I had everything laying around the house (well, almost: shout-outs to Kim for lending me the bloomers and Gail for the knee-highs!).

There were several highlights: Lynch's patrons usually dress up, they're quick with a Guinness and the band, Blaggards, was highly entertaining. But one image sticks with me:

The Teletubbies.

I was so tickled, so pleased with their arrival, I insisted Gator Man have his photo taken with them for posterity.

Yeah, it was a good night.

Oh, wait... there was a football game, too.

Florida beat the unhloly mess out of Georgia, 49-10, which the 'Dawgs deserved for being such sorry winners last year. It was fun, nice weather, football, blah blah, Gators, blah blah...

(*My alma mater, FSU, holds their homecoming on the last weekend of October every other year, alternating with the third weekend of November. I always go to homecoming, so I skip FL-GA every other year. To be honest, not too many people dress up in Tally at that time, either.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Response from the Bed Baddies

After a few back-and-forths with Home Decorators about returning the bashed bed, I receive this e-mail:

Dear Ms. McIntyre,

Thank you for your email.

I do apologize for the delay. Please discard the bed we are in the process of issuing a refund for the Mino Bed.Our records indicate that your credit card, ending in the last four digits of xxxx will be refunded a total of $722.99 within 7-10 business days for the Mino Bed.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns. Thank you for shopping with Home Decorators Collection. We appreciate your business.


Internet Representative

Uh, whaaaat? I'm supposed to throw the bed away? All 500 pounds of it? The general concensus around here is that it's too expensive to ship back, so they're just writing it off.

That was on the 24th, so I'm waiting until Nov. 7 to see if money magically appears on my HOme Depot Card before I hassle them again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Knot a Good Idea

I was up the other last night, unable to sleep and I'd read pretty much everything in the house. I trawled through my magazines: October "Vogue"? Can't find it. October "Real Simple"? Boooring. This week's "Entertainment Weekly"? Feh - I blew through that fifteen minutes after it arrived in the mail.

And then I found it - a fat summer edition of the bridal magazine . . .

"The Knot." And I started flipping through.

It was innocent enough at first. "I'm just bored," I thought to myself. "I'm just going to look at ads and hairstyles . . ."

And then it started. The articles. Their demands and insinuations. Wait, I have to tip everybody? Omigawd, I can't afford that many flowers - but it will look so tacky if I don't . . . What? I'm a bad daughter if I don't have my mom and mother-in-law out for a spa day with me? I really do need boutonnieres? What? Ack! Omigod, this wedding is going to suckandeverybodyisgoingtoblamemeandmaybeIshouldspendalittlemoneyImeanafterallit'sthebiggestdayofmylifeandIshouldhaveitexactlythewayIwantitbecauseI'maprincessandnowIneedZoomwhiteningand
Yeah, that's what looking at Satan's bridal handbook will do for you.

I threw the magazine into the recycling bin immediately.

The weird part is, I don't get that looking through "Martha Stewart's Weddings" magazine - why? While I don't think I'm in the socio-economic market for this magazine, I think I like it because it focuses on quality, DIY elements and true originality, whereas "The Knot" seems to be about reinforcing bridal stereotypes, even as it supposedly "breaks the rules" (do we really have to send out "save the date" cards? Of course - but you can be daring! Put your photo on it! Ooooo.... daring.) Don't get me started about the weight loss articles. Pathetic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Uncle Kyle and Aunt Jen Get a Visitor

Kyle's nephew Logan came for a visit last evening while his mother went to a birthday dinner. She left a pumpkin with us as well, so that Uncle Kyle could help him make a jack-o-lantern.

I decided that I should probably cut Logan out of the photo until I ask his mom how she feels about showing her five-year to the blogosphere.

Kyle put down some kraft paper and got to work - Logan got to pull the guts out (yay-slimy!). Note my good Henckels boning knife:

Logan got to draw the face. We started out with a "Scary bloody monster" design in mind, but once he was done with the Sharpie, we all agreed it looked a lot like a scary spider instead.

We took it out to the front porch to test it:

Pretty spooky, huh?

This is with the flash, so you can actually see the pumpkin.

He took it home with him (candles out, of course), so we're left with my Gardenridge ceramic one again.

It's not that big of deal to be so unspirited, as we're never home for Halloween anyway. The "World's Largest Cocktail Party"*, aka The Florida-Georgia football game, always lands on the Halloween weekend, so we're off to Jacksonville for tailgating. Hopefully we'll dress up and go out and I'll bring back photos.

(*Yeah, yeah - we're not supposed to call it that anymore. I know.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stretch, the cat who does not belong to us

We have this adorable black and white (mostly black) female cat living next door. I don't know if she's just unappreciated at her own home or what, but this cat loves us.

The minute one of us walks out the door, there she is, running up to us and then lolling around in the grass - which is cat for "Dude, I am giving you the most awesome opportunity right now - do you see how I'm inviting you to touch me? This is an amazing honor for you!"

Kyle was calling her something else for the longest time, Boots or something, and one day, sitting in the grass with her, I saw her collar. It has a tag on it - why had it never occurred to us to look at it? It's been a month or two.

I turn it over, the little heart-shaped metal tag:

"Stretch." Along with her address and owner's phone number.

Stretch? Really? I look at this plump kitty, who was now struggling to pull back from my grasp ("Dude, this is completely invasive. Do you see me clawing your earrings out? What the hell?") and ponder this.

But I suppose it doesn't matter what I think, she's not our cat. Even if she spends every possible minute with us and tries to squeeze into the house when we're bringing in groceries.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pretty flowers and a funeral

We're going to Kyle's grandfather's funeral tomorrow. So no more from me until Monday.


The flowers out by the office building were so pretty, one of my coworkers brought some in as a bouquet:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

That's okay, I LIKE sleeping like a squatter

After considerable delay and annoyances, the bed I ordered from Home Decorators was delivered yesterday.


I noticed one of the boxes was smashed on the end.

But it was taped up - so someone else had already seen this and decided it was fine and sent it on its merry way anyway.

I waited for Kyle to get home; I just couldn't bear to look. And this is what we found:

It's a shame, really. Color's nice.

I am done with this bed. DONE.

Okay, not really done. But I'm tired of this hassle and I'm ready to be done with it. So off goes an e-mail with photographs to Home Decorators.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Office garden and a correction

First off, I must make a correction: Kyle's grandfather, who passed away Sunday night, was not his last grandparent. His grandmother is still alive. In a nursing home and unaware of her surroundings, but alive nonetheless. I'm a little embarrassed. I guess I was thinking about how his grandfather would be the only grandparent in attendance at our wedding. I feel guilty forgetting his poor grandmother.

With that faux pas out of the way, onto the pictures!

I was leaving work last night just as the sun was going down, and the lighting on the garden around our building was beautiful. I couldn't resist taking a photo of this odd stand of very tall, yellow flowers which stands alone and a short distance from the rest of the garden:

I should have taken more, but I was running late (as usual). I did snap a picture of our garden gnome, though:

This was mainly for one of my coworkers. She is strangely enamoured of gnomes, and I don't think anyone had photographed "our" gnome for her.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Butterflies, beds, and another goodbye

After all that talk about grandparents, Kyle received a call last night - his grandfather had a heart attack. He passed away some time in the evening. He was Kyle's last grandparent.

Our frustrating efforts to get a bed continue. After ordering a bed from Home Decorator's in August with the expectations of an end-of-September delivery, we got an e-mail stating that it would be early November before we'd receive the bed (evidently it's one damn popular bed). I sent off an angry e-mail and got a miniscule discount along with an apology.

Then I get a call last Friday - to schedule the delivery of the bed - this week! Turns out Home Decorators (owned by Home Depot, by the way) doesn't make the bed, and there was some confusion between the manufacturer and them. A happy mistake.
I had explicitly asked if they could call an hour before delivery - I don't want to be sitting on my ass at home for four hours waiting on these people. They assured me it would be no problem. So when my phone rang this afternoon, I was not expecting the testy dispatcher, who was wondering where I was. Someone forgot to tell the driver to call me. "Can I come now? Will the driver wait?" I ask. They say sure, and I rush out of the office.
As I'm pulling into my neighborhood, I see a delivery truck pulling out - my bed! I call back and the (still-testy) dispatcher says I took too long, they had to move on, and it's the manufacturer's fault anyway, for not telling the delivery people in the first place. I'll have to reschedule. Keep your fingers crossed for me; we're going to try this all again tomorrow.
Did I mention that we're having our wedding reception at the Florida Museum of Natural History? We had considered it, and then decided it was too much. But Kyle changed his mind - the convenience of it being literally down the road from the ceremony site was too appealing to him.
We are saving a bit by not purchasing tickets to the Butterfly Rainforest for people, but I still hope people check it out before the wedding. Seriously, if you have kids, you've got to go see this. When they gave me a tour, I thought I'd see one or two flitting around. No - you walk in and it's like the IBM commercials about going green - it's like landing in technicolor Oz after being in sepia-toned Kansas. Butterflies are everywhere. They land on you. You have got to take your kids!

In fact, they're having a ButterflyFest this weekend, October 18-19.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Regrets and Memories

I was thinking about my grandmother.

If there had to be a downside to my age at the time of this wedding, it would be that none of my grandparents are still alive.

At one time, I was incredibly close to my maternal grandmother. And I wish like hell that she could have been here for my wedding. That part of my family lives far, far away from me, in Maine. When I was little, I, along with my baby brother and my mom, would fly People's Choice Airlines to Maine for the whole summer (People's Choice being the cheapest airline at the time, and there's a very good reason why they're no longer in business...). While my poor father toiled away in Florida, the three of us stayed with my mother's parents, who lived in the middle of nowhere - there's a lot of that in Maine. Did I mention that my mother doesn't drive? Needless to say, I spent vast amounts of time with my mom and my grandmother, going wherever my grandmother wanted to go.

Those were formative years. I learned a lot from her. She wasn't some old fuddy-dud; she still worked as a legal secretary, wore an ear cuff (remember those?) with a silver feather dangling from it. She loved dolls - she gave me two of my mother's childhood dolls, that I try to discreetly display, much to the consternation of my fiance - and she loved Roger Whittaker and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

She would try to sneak grapes into desserts just to torture my lovely, patient grandfather, who for some reason, really hated grapes. She loved the tinny sound of her Japanese car's horn, and would honk at cows just for the hell of it.

I don't know why - I'm sure money was involved - but we stopped going to Maine altogether around the time I was in grade school. And we didn't go back for over ten years. Of course, my grandmother still wrote me and I her, but we lost of lot of time. I lost of lot of time with her - oh, to be so young and foolish; to not realize that the clock doesn't tick forever for those older than you.

When I got my first "professional" job and had a little money, the first thing I did was fly me and my mom up to Maine for my grandparents' 50th anniversary. I think it was shocking to both of us - how grown up I was to my grandmother and how much older she looked to me. A lot had changed. She had stopped dying her hair, she had gotten religious and was teaching Sunday school (!!!). She had spent years raising one of my uncle's two boys during turbulent times.

It was such a blessing that we went on that trip, because a few months later, she had a stroke. And it demolished her. There was a body that still needed to be fed and bathed, but it was not my grandmother. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when she passed away, free from that prison at last. At the funeral, I was a stranger. No one knew who this woman was. "Oh, that's the granddaughter from Florida?" My cousins, two wonderful young men that she had help raise, were the "children" everyone comforted.

People got up and spoke, lovingly and respectfully; I just sobbed. And they were selfish tears. All that time. Gone. All those years I could have had with her, learned from her - missed. I was mad at all these people for not knowing how important I was to her at one time. I was (irrationally) jealous of my cousins for having those years. (Never mind that they would probably have rather had their parents together and happy instead.)

I know I sound like your mother, or some old auntie, but I can't help myself from writing it: if you still have your grandparents, or other older relatives, be glad. Be thankful that they love you and are there. We have no idea how important these moments are to them, seeing their grandchildren become adults, marry, have children or publish a book, start a business. I wish my grandparents could share this time with me.

A rather self-indulgent post, I know. But I expressed similar sentiments in a wedding forum, and the reactions were positive, and incredibly touching - so many women had stories of grandparents loved, never known, lost. Reading over this, I have to say, it's bittersweet; at least I had time with these wonderful, loving people. I can't imagine the hole that might exist for those who never knew their grandparents, or had cold, unloving grandparents.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pretty in Pink

We have two Gebera daisy plants in our front yard, and they've been surprising me with consistent blooms since we moved in. It's usually one at a time, so each time a bloom dies, I always think, "Oh - that was that." And damn if there isn't another little bud uncurling beneath all those heavy, lettuce-like leaves.

This one came out . . . well, squashed. I thought as the petals unfurled it would round itself out, but it looks unlikely:

Just to the right of the bloom you might make out the new little bud that coming up next.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Not too cool

I am, by nature, a timid person.

At first glance you wouldn't think so. I talk - a lot. Sometimes loudly. And I got my blog title the hard way - I earrrrrned it.

(John Housman just rolled over in his grave.)

And I've accomplished things of which I'm very proud. I worked my way through college. I bought my first home as a single woman on a public salary.

But I'm afraid of so many things.

I'm afraid to go into my own attic alone. I'm afraid to jump into water from even the slightest bit of height. I hear every noise in the house at night, and sometimes they keep me up.

But it's my fear of change that's the most frustrating - my fear of doing something wrong, different, embarrassing, "not cool."

I rely on the people around me for acceptance.

There is a certain style of dress that I've always loved: a printed, empire-waisted hippie-type cotton number. And I would try them on and someone would always say, "No - that's not flattering on you" or just "Really?" with an arched eyebrow.

And I would always put it away. Even if I loved the swishy-ness, the wild floral, the silliness of it. And even when I thought it looked nice on - it felt nice on. I put it back on the rack.

I was afraid of looking different than I always look, of looking like I'm trying to be something that I'm not, of trying too hard. That arched eyebrow stayed with me, and I cringed at the idea of people thinking badly of me. Really, I'd rather not be thought of all than be thought of with disdain.

I wish it was only a dress. But it's not. There are classes that I've signed up for and never attended, races I registered for and never ran. If it was something different, something people like me don't do, I was afraid to do it. And more often than not, I didn't.

I think about this now with my wedding. I've looked at so many pictures, web sites, magazines, books. And I've seen some amazing, fantastic stuff. Check out these shoes:

I'd love to show you the whole bridal outfit for context, but that's a little invasive. But I love these shoes - they're like ruby slippers!

And isn't this one of those very few moments in life where the event is supposed to be an expression of you and your spouse-to-be? Where you get to really do what you want to do?

Would I ever wear those shoes? No. Why? Because nobody else I know wears those shoes. And I know, for a fact, that certain people in my life would roll their eyes. "Please. Who's she trying to be?"

I don't know. Maybe this post is my way of chafing at the bit. Stamping my feet and saying, "I'm going to wear what I want wear, damn it! I'm going to go to that concert - if I have to go by myself. I'm going to that 'flaky' seminar on meditation, f*ck you." Maybe not.

Maybe I could just start with the shoes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Too Hot to Blog

The AC is broken in my office, and it's 82 degrees - in the office.

Me and Emily are dying, while the rest of our coworkers are trying to make the best of it (easy to say when you've got a fan, adorable-coworker-who-shall-remain-nameless!).

I don't mind heat. Hell, I grew up in Florida with no air conditioning. I love the beach. I like working up a good sweat. But sweating at your desk while you're supposed to be thinking - that's not a good sweat. Usually when you're sweating, you're enjoying yourself, be it exercise, outdoor activities, lounging about in a bathing suit, engaging in, you know, a loving moment. Looking up information on shallots as a plant for your fall garden? Not so much.

Add the hassle of evil, sneaky Best Buy credit card minions and a bed that won't be showing up for another month, and you've got misery. Seriously - imagine the hell of trying to find a human to speak with on the phone, and then that person's first language is obviously not English and their whole job description is "Whatever you do, don't let them drop the 'credit protection plan.'" Now add stickiness and heat.

Yeah, it's that kind of day.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cooked-book and the new flat screen

After a protracted battle with Best Buy (let's just say we're not big fans anymore), the new stand for Kyle's flat-screen television finally came in.

This is one of those "Venus-Mars" things. Seriously, you would have thought it was Christmas around here when the stand was delivered. It's as if the kick-ass television wasn't enough; it just wouldn't be whole without its special stand.

He had to assemble the stand (it came in a pizza-flat box), and every so often he'd call me out to the front room to check out the progress. You should have seen the disappointment in his face when he realized I wasn't appropriately thrilled.

I mean, it's a TV stand. It's not like it's a . . . oh, I don't know, a car or a puppy or anything.

I don't get it. But he loves it, and it makes him happy, and that's a good thing. I thought now would be a good time to take a photo:

Less exciting, but more amusing (at least in my definition of "amusing"), is my little accident a few nights ago.

I was starting dinner, and due to the poor lighting in the kitchen, was trying to do everything on the stovetop, where there's an overhead light in the exhaust hood. This included referencing my favorite cookbook of all time, "How to Cook Everything," by the incomparable Mark Bittman.

Apparently I have stovetop dyslexia. On our stove, each burner's dial is marked with four circles, with the circle representing that particular burner darkened. Instead of turning on the back right burner for the potatoes I wanted to boil, I had instead turned on the front right burner, upon which was resting - my cookbook.

Thank God the slight scorching caused a bit of smoke, or who knows what would have happened?

Ah well; as my friend Kim said, it's just a sign of a well-loved cookbook.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wildlife on the Job

Our building has a nice swath of nature around it. Thanks to our fabulous landscape instructor Erin, we have a beautiful garden right outside the door. We haven't taken photos since it got gorgeous (just installation photos of guys in jeans and camo hats with shovels and dirt). But I did take a photo of a butterfly feeding from our firebush plant.

Most of our flowering plants are popular with butterflies, which means there are days when walking up to the building is a lovely, Disney-like experience.

We have a bit of wildlife, mostly squirrels and birds. My coworkers have been entranced by a huge hawk that frequents the pine trees. I'm not much of a bird person, so I've been blowing them off: "Pfft, you guys are obsessed with that thing."

But yesterday the hawk sat on a pine branch long enough for everyone to start talking about it, for such a time that finally, I figured I should at least be social and go look at the thing. Having a chance to size it up, I have to admit I was impressed. It's HUGE! And it's a beautiful golden brown color.

He (they've decided it's a "he") was obviously stalking something or chilling, because I actually had time to grab my camera and ease outside for a photo. I really had to zoom, so it's fuzzy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Everything Changes

Do all brides have bouts of insomnia? And do they all use them to start thinking, in ever-greater detail than before, about the wedding plans - the very thing that sent them to this hellish sleeplessness in the first place?

I've always had trouble with insomnia, and the combined craziness of my brother's looming nuptials (this Saturday!) and planning my own wedding isn't helping at all.

A few nights ago, it was full-on Talking Heads. Or, at least, one talking head. I couldn't shut my thoughts up to focus on sleeping. To-do lists, gifts to be purchased, home-repair needing to be done, a little thing called My Job, all clamoring for attention at 11:30 pm.

And still, at 2:30 a.m. By 3:20 am, I thought, "This is ridiculous. I've gotta get up," and pried myself away from my hotwater bottle of a fiance.

What to do? I know, we'll stare at the guest list and will it mentally to shrink. Shrink, list, shrink.

Or we'll think about colors. I had thought we'd go for nature-inspired, warm colors. I flipped through my inspiration book, "American Bungalow" magazine. Every house, every ad for hand-crafted, Stickley-inspired furniture glows with a warm, sunset light. Everything is gold, olive, taupe.

Hmm.. writing that down, it doesn't sound beautiful - but it is. This wallpaper frieze is a little picture I've been dragging around with me for a couple years:

So, since this is what I love, this would be my wedding colors, right?

But wait - I'm not marrying myself. And while my hunk of burning love doesn't care "that much" about the colors, shouldn't this be a reflection of us - I mean, isn't that why we're going through all this?

So I start writing. What is "us"? What do we love to do together? We love to travel, to go camping, to go to the beach, or the springs. In three years, we've been to the Grand Canyon to whitewater raft down the Colorado, we've been to Brazil to see friends marry, we've been to Mexico to, uh . . . lay around in the sun and drink margaritas. What's the continuing thread?

Water. I love the beach and can't imagine living too far from the coast. Kyle is scuba-certified and has dove many of the springs around here; he lives for the springs in the summertime.

I look up from my writing and find my inspiration. A large, framed photograph of a Florida spring hangs over our bookcase. I don't have it digitally, but here's something similar:

If you've never seen a Florida spring before, you are missing out. It's the most beautifully clear water. And it's so cold - great when you're baking in the hundred-plus Florida summertime. And that blue - that beautiful turquoise blue.

That's it! It makes so much more sense than my Arts & Crafts-driven plan. Kyle and I are both Florida natives, and in this town, that appears to be unusual. I want to celebrate what he and I love - Florida. And not the beachy, Miami, Disney World Florida. The inner heart of Florida, with its moss-hung oaks, numerous springs and rivers, fields of everything from St. Augustine turfgrass to lowly cabbage. And the spring water would be my inspiration.

Impressive, for 4 am.

Here's what I've got so far:

(Click to see full size)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me...

Or at least a fake pirate's life for me.

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day and for all ye mutton-headed scallywags out there, you land-lubbin' loonybirds, it's a day to reflect deeply on your heritage as a pirate. Or lack thereof, which is even a better reason, in my opinion, to talk like someone out of a Disney movie ("Treasure Island" you twittering nitwits, not that other movie).

I wish I had brought my camera, because my wonderful coworker Georgia brought us pirate caps and even better, non-dairy pirate cupcakes!

Yes, I know the non-dairy part kinda messes with the piratical theme, but our Georgia has dietary sensitivities and if you're making the cupcakes, you get to pick the ingrediants.

If you are still in the dark on this fine holiday, see the official web site:

Ol Chumbucket and Cap'n Slappy will put you right.


In other news, we missed a not-entirely-unrelated event.

This week marked the 57th birthday of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Hmm. I wish I had kick-ass font to announce that better...

That'll do.
I suppose you have to be a of certain age to really remember Elvira as she's not on TV as she was in my day (yes, and I'm on the porch in my rocking chair with a shotgun . . . get off my lawn!).

But she hosted "Movie Macabra," on late-night television. You know, kids, like a VJ for movies. Wait, they don't have those anymore either, do they? Okay, like . . . oh, forget it. She's cool.

Giant black beehive, before-it-was-cool-gothic dress cut down-to-there, and up-to-here, with the legs and bosom to work it, eyeliner to die for . . . she's the anti-Martha Quinn. I loved her.

One thing I didn't know about our Elvira is that before she was our lady in black, she was struggling singer-actress Cassandra Peterson. This is interesting to me only because she's mentioned in "Let's Spend the Night Together," the infamous tell-all by uber-groupie Pamela DesBarres. (And if you're lost, either get in a time machine and join me in my nostalgia, or buy the book)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kick-ass wedding dress

My wedding, originally uploaded by hellishcheeky.

Not for the conventional, but I love the beautiful audacity of it. Had to share. Yes, I am officially addicted to online wedding stuff.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting inspired

I've said before that I'm not the most creative/imaginative person. Thus, many of the decisions to be made in wedding planning are not coming easy to me.
I had said I didn't want to have official "colors," and then I decided to get some "save-the-date" type thing for our out-of-state guests.
It was then that I realized - I gotta pick something.
The "thing" has to be some color, has to have some sort of imagry (sic?) on it. I mean, this is much like having an party. You're going to decorate, so you have to have some sort of overlying format to pull it all together, be it a theme or a palette. I don't want to just pull some colors out of my tuchas, excuse my language. The one thing I know we want this wedding to be is something personal, something meaningful for us.
So I've started something that seems popular in the wedding forums I'm in, an "inspiration board." A real-life board would have fabric swatches, pages torn out of magazines, etc. An electronic inspiration board, from the examples I've seen, has photos of where you're getting married, somewhere you want to get married or a place like it, thematic stuff (stars, fish, polka dots), and pictures of dresses and bridal whatnot.
Well, all I have so far is some photos of where I'm getting married and art I love, but it's a start, right?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today, I visited the Florida Museum of Natural History, to scout it out as a reception location.

It was pretty nice. We'd have the museum to ourselves for three hours, with all of the regular exhibits available for the guests to check out. However, it's not cheap. I'm not sure it's in our budget.

But one of the coolest things is the Butterfly Rainforest.

butterfly rainforest It was like a Disney movie - you walk in and BAM! Butterflies everywhere - hundreds of them. And the variety was amazing - blue ones, little tiny yellow ones, huge tiger-striped ones. I can't do it justice with a description.

Even if we don't go with the museum as a reception site, I'm still going to suggest my guests visit the museum before the wedding; it's not that far from the ceremony site as they're both on campus. I may be able to get a group discount if I bought the tickets myself...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What happens at the tailgate...

First, I have to brag: my insanely talented friend Douglas Matthews has agreed to play at my wedding ceremony.

He and his wife Melissa have been two of the best friends a girl could have. Along with a few others, they were my rock at an especially low point in my life.

I was so nervous asking him, because, well, he plays piano for a living - what a pain, right? Invited to a wedding and now you gotta work? But he was terribly gracious about it.

I have a hard time asking people for things, even people who, rationally, I know love the heck out of me and want to help me. But there's this stupid part of me that's so afraid to ask. It's stupid. I think I said that already. Moving on...

Tile update: I cut the tile too small and we didn't get it fixed before our guests came. Turned out we had less than expected, so it went smoothly anyway.

The tailgate was a success. Kyle got up around 6 a.m. and headed out to campus. The tailgate was set up, and manned, from 7 a.m. until roughly 1 a.m. that evening/next morning. Crazy, I know. But it's Kyle's thing and it was before I showed up - I'm just an observer/assistant/beer bitch.

Yes, beer bitch. Half of my "job" is to be kinda nasty about who's sticking their hand in our coolers. It's not fun, but if you don't make it known that somebody's paying attention, there are plenty of jackasses who are ready to suck you dry. Food, too - but I left that up to our cook.

A ton of people showed up, including many I hadn't seen in months. It really was fun. And we had a most important element at the tailgate: hot women. And strangely enough, that's part of my "job" as well - taking photos of everybody, including the hot chicks.

A sample:

Okay, I'm kidding. That's just a cute chick and her pretty mommy.

More like this:

Luckily, as we age, so goes the tailgate. It's a lot more "chill" this year, and I had plenty of people come up to me to agree and that it was a good thing.

I had to run off some little girls, but not before they got their fill of our beer and BBQ. You'd be surprised how much a skinny little thang can eat when someone else cooked it and it's free. :)

An exhausting weekend, but great fun.

Oh yeah - the Gators won. Forgot about that...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Flower in the Scurrilous Yard

Kyle saw this little plant pushing up between edger stones. He contemplated taking the weed wacker to it, but decided to wait and see what it turned out to be. Turns out it's Pentas:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two posts in one day? Inconceivable!

Perusing my blog, admiring the lovely photo of Cancun I used as the header, I realized I had forgotten to post my photos of the Baughman Center, where indeed, Kyle and I will be getting married May 9.

I snapped a few shots after paying the deposit and getting a contract. They're all small here, but clicking a photo should bring up a larger version (if you so desire).

The front of the Baughman Center:

The view of Lake Alice immediately behind the center (any closer and it would be in the water):

Inside - you can see how small it is:

The ceiling:

The view from the grounds:

I also have my dress! But I'm not showing those photos. Suffice to say it feels completely me, and my mother got the littlest bit teary when I tried it on.

I've been waiting to try it on; I've had it since June. But it was very important to me to try it on with my mother. I don't have any sisters, my oldest/closest friends live out of town, and I don't have a sister.

It had to be pointed out to me that I'm an only daughter. I've been rather flippant about the whole wedding thing, and I didn't realize that both of my parents are feeling some strong emotions about this. After all, I moved out at 18. I bought my own home three years ago and lived alone in big scary Jacksonville for two years. Why now? I had no idea that your little girl getting married would still be a big deal at ... 35. But it is, so I'm making efforts to keep my parents, who live about an hour away and work what seems to be all the time, in the loop on the process of putting together a sane, meaningful wedding.

But more on that later.

Look, people actually live here!

We have a few people coming for the weekend - seven or eight, actually. I'm freaking out a bit. At first it was, "Bob and Jane are flying down from New York for the Miami game, and they're going to stay with us." Which is great, because this is the couple who got married in Brazil and invited us to stay with them in Cancun this year, so it's definitely our turn to be hospitable. And we have a bed . . . and a mattress, so they get the bed, we get the mattress - it's all good.

But then it was, "Oh yeah, Tom, Dick and Harry are coming up from South Florida, and they're gonna crash with us." A day goes by, "Oh, did I mention John's coming from South Carolina? And Tim from North Carolina - in fact, he got a ticket to the game for me*, so he's staying here, too." And on it went.

Guess who's being quoted there? Not me. And I was always being told after the fact. But it's our house, and these are all actually lovely people, so no biggie.

Except we have no more beds. In fact, at the time, we had no furniture. Seriously, we were watching a kick-ass, 46" 1080i flat screen television** in two camp chairs. We were eating our meals on the back porch, regardless of temperature - because the patio set was the only table! And the only chairs besides camp chairs.

But that would not stop our hospitality. Noooo.

So here we are, two days before people start pouring in, and we're racing around like the proverbial headless chickens - finishing baseboards, painting pantry doors, trying to get that damn shower tile replaced (that's a whole 'nother blog).

Oh, and finally dragging in our couches. And buying an area rug. Bringing in the coffee table we hate because it jumps out and hits people in the shin but it's the only one we have. One room of the house actually looks rather inviting now.

But first, a trip down memory lane. The den when we first moved in:

And then with its floor being laid:

And now, as of this morning:

(Please excuse the different angle; the kitchen's breakfast bar is still covered with construction crap.)

Not bad.


*-Notice that "ticket" in the singular. I'm not going to the game - I'm going to guard the tailgate. I am the coolest wife ever. Just ask Jay.

**-This is Kyle's present to himself that he's been wanting forever. It was agreed upon at least a year ago. And he loves it. Hell, I love it. The picture is amazing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tile Conundrum

I don't think the master bathroom's shower was installed properly. Now, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure the shower floor is supposed to gently slope towards the drain to discourage puddling. We don't have that.

The tiles aren't one hundred percent even, either. One of them, right next to the drain was sorta off-kilter, and it cracked.
"Simple," you say. "Take it out and replace it!" After all, that's what and told me to do.

So we pry this tile out - not easy, in fact we chipped one of the adjacent tiles - and we've got a confusing sight before us.

There's a thick layer of wet, sandy, crumbling gray stuff under the tile - obviously water had gotten in. But why is it so thick? Tiles are, at most, 3/8" thick, and the length between the black plastic pan and the top of the tile has got to be twice that. Is there supposed to be 1/2" of adhesive under the tile?

And there are more questions. Why does the "pan" have holes in it? Why isn't it sloping towards the drain?

I'm afraid if we just slap a crazy-thick layer of whatever adhesive down, pop a tile on top of it, grout and seal the whole thing, that we're putting a band-aid over a larger problem.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

lightning at sunset

lightning at sunset, originally uploaded by wvs.

The blog Pilgrimsteps alerted me to this photo. I'm a sucker for outdoor photography, especially storms and sunsets. This is amazing!

Okay, let's try this one more time ....

Last night, a coworker of Kyle's called. She had been talking about our wedding with her husband, who is a professor at the community college here. When he heard the date, he pointed out that May 2 is also graduation for both the college and the university. There wouldn't be a hotel room left in the city on that weekend.

"Don't you work at the university?" This is what you're thinking, aren't you?

Well, technically. But I work for the Extension service, which has almost nothing to do with students. My "customers" are Florida gardeners and college students don't tend to fall within that demographic. So we don't pay much attention to that sort of thing over here.

"Well, doesn't the university own the building in which you're planning to be married?" You could be thinking that too. "Why didn't the staff mention that?"

I don't have a good answer for that one.

Luckily, it all worked out. I called back this morning, and the next Saturday was available. And with graduation out of the way, it will be a little quieter in town as well.

Kyle and his friend got most of the baseboards up last night - it's amazing the difference it makes.

No baseboards: