Monday, May 21, 2007

Too Much Information?

Heh, it's my blog and I'll over-share if I want to!

Anyway, we have ACHIEVED PERIOD, people! That's right, the strange limbo-stage between miscarriage and next period is over, we are back to Day One! I have never actually been thrilled to get a period before, it's a strange emotion. But not only does it put us back on track to trying to concieve, again, it means that by the WEDDING on Saturday, it will be all over and done with-- no horrible combination of bleeding w/ satiny white wedding dress and dozen relatives/ in laws to consider. Nice. So, um, welcome to my inner-most thoughts, ya'll.

Everything else is ticking along nicely for the trip. We bought the rings-- mine is just a very simple, plain band that accentuates the engagement ring. Don's is a much more interesting hunk of metal. Almost industrial-looking. It's hard to describe so I'll take a picture when we get them. I love the jewelry store where we got them, it is the kind of place that I can imagine coming back to over the years. The collection is unique, hand-made; the people working there amazingly knowledgable.

Doing laundry and packing tonight and tomorrow. Cleaning the house. Updating Cathy's shots. Grooming: wax eyebrows, legs, get nails done. Hey, I'm only planning on doing this whole wedding-thang once.

As far as waxing, though: (to fit the theme of sharing way too much...) Having had it done once before, a few weeks ago, my initial reaction was that PAYING someone to cause this kind of pain was simply masochistic. But the results are... worth it. Especially for someone as lazy as me, who would go hairy as a yetti before shaving every darn day. And while Don couldn't care less about the leg-fuzz (urbane European-habiting hobbit that he is) I would like to be able to wear shorts and skirts without checking for stubble. And, I've been told that it gets better over time, the waxing. So, I'll do my legs again for the honeymoon, so that I can wear pretty skirts with no stubble; and then if I don't want to, I'll just never do it again.

Although the skirts probably won't get worn, seeing that we're going first to New Mexico and then to Seattle. Even in late May/ early June, there will most likely be a lot of cool weather, cold nights, and rain between the two... we're probably the only honeymooners next week who'll be in denim, flannel, fleece, and Timberlands instead of bathing suits and shorts. I can't wait!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Getting Closer

Everything is falling into place, finally, for the wedding. Daily emails from both my mom and my dad, photos and documents sent back and forth. How did we get by prior to Internet? Menus chosen, outfits decided, problems worked out-- for the most part. Don is in charge of both picking out and obtaining the wedding bands. He keeps asking if I trust his taste, keeps reminding me that we both prefer the unusual, the not-quite-traditional. I have a feeling that whatever the rings are, they are not the plain, white-gold bands that I envisioned. But I do trust his judgement and his taste jewelry. I love my engagement ring, and the necklace that he gave me for my birthday in January. I know that the rings are from the same place as the necklace: a small, independent jewelry store on Main Street that showcases the work of individual artists. Kay's, it isn't. I think that Don has an appreciation for fine, unique, and beautiful things that doesn't have a chance to express itself often.

The animals will stay at a kennel, for the first time in the six years that they've been with us. This is the only dark spot for us: knowing that while we hang out with relatives, tie the knot, and tour Seattle, Alice will be boarded, without even her blanket for comfort. We've only ever left her once before, and that was at the house with friends coming over to take care of her. Looking back, this may be one reason why we don't take a lot of vacations; Don says it's like having a kid but I say it's worse; airlines, hotels, everything will let you bring a kid with you-- not so much if it's a dog. There's no way in hell that I'd put her in a carrier to go into an airplane's hold with the rest of the luggage. Pets die down there, occasionally. It's not even climate-controlled. If a suitcase can get "lost" and sent to the wrong city, then so can a dog. I wouldn't put her through all that for the selfish reason of having her with us on vacation. So we usually go camping and take her along. At least we know she'll be well-cared for. It seems like a very nice place, as far as "places that look just like the POUND" go.

Don's afraid that it will give her animal-shelter-flashbacks-- the concrete floors, barking dogs... I try to reassure him (and myself) that we tend to attribute more emotional depth to dogs than what they really (most likely) have. That as long as she's warm and well-fed, walked three times a day and talked to a bit, she'll be fine-- and that once we come to pick her up, she won't be able to recollect it at all. He reminds me that when I leave town, she usually doesn't eat for the first three days. I guess we won't know how bad it will be until afterwards, when we can interview the keepers. There's just nobody here that would keep her in their house, and having people promise to stop by twice a day is just too risky. Too easy to forget one morning, or one evening, and then there's Alice with no food and no bathroom. Cathy, I'm not too worried about, because she's so much more independent. I guess most cats are.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rules is Rules

(Last Fall)

My coworker: Hey guess what! I was driving to work and I saw you! Walking your dog! I drove right by you!

Our house is just off of a main street leading into town, and on the route that she drives to work and back. She is now familiar with the house itself and sometimes reports on having seen me there. A few weeks ago, she announced that she saw Don on our porch-- the first sighting of the elusive fiance.

CW: He's different than I imagined! His hair is curly. He was playing with the dog!


CW: Umm, Mara? Does Don ever, like, wear dresses? Or maybe a robe or something? 'Cuz I drove by today and he was out on the porch wearing some kind of dress... but I guess it could have been a bathrobe...

Oh, my God. While I sleep, unknowing, Don is exposing the neighborhood to the image of himself in MY bathrobe, letting the dog out. Leading my coworker speeding by to think that I'm marrying a dress-wearing transvestite. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except that it's not true. Just something deeply wrong with Don going outside in a robe over jeans. Sweetie! We don't live out in the country YET. We live in a densely populated neighborhood on a busy main thoroughfare. Put a tee shirt on! If for no other reason than so I don't have to hear from my coworkers that you've been spotted walking the dog nekkid or something.

I called him and we've set a new ground-rule that (in my opinion) should go without saying: No Going Outside When Not Fully Dressed. I mean, there have to be SOME standards, right?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Breaking News


By Rita Skeeter

In an amazing turn of events yesterday evening, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has been vanquished at last. It seems that The Boy Who Lived really was fated to destroy the Dark Lord, just as the Prophet predicted as early as last year. (Turn to page four for a complete analysis of the Daily Prophet's predictions and how they came true.) We have taken the opportunity of interviewing Rufus Scrimguer, Minister of Magic, on his involvement of the affair.

"Of course, Potter and his friends were working in tandem with the Ministry. We have been in close communication with them for quite some time, although we found it neccessary to hide that connection from the public for the obvious reasons. Why, one of our best Aurors was present at the time of the battle--that alone indicates the close, personal connection between Potter and the MoM. We did everything we could to provide him with security and protection."

While previous clashes with You-Know-Who were primarily wand-duels between the Death Eaters, this "battle" took rather a different turn, according to Potter's best friend and strategic ally, Ronald Weasley.

"It turned out to be all about the Beatles, after all. Once we figured that out the rest was easy, it just took some time to work through it. Dumbledore knew, of course. He was always trying to tell Harry, but when Harry heard "All you need is love", he thought Dumbledore meant the love in Harry's heart, or the love his mother had for him, or something. We didn't realize it was a reference
to the pop song. Finding the Beatles CD behind the portrait, that was the key."

A "CD" is a piece of Muggle technology that plays music, and in this case was instrumental to the sing-along that doomed the late Dark wizard.

"We just all formed a circle around him before he knew what was happening, singing as loud as we could to the music, "All you need is love, love... love is all you need. Love is all you need." As we joined hands and finished the song, Voldemort just kind of ... melted, into this great puddle of evil."

Those wise words are from Harry Potter, himself. He, Weasley, Ginny Weasley, the Auror Tonks, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Remus Lupin, and Hermione Granger formed the famous circle that sang Voldemort to his sticky, puddly end. A few keys to the defeat, apparently, were Tonk's neon-bright hair ("it offended his sensibilities as to what a witch should look like, it distracted him") and Longbottom's impressive singing voice ("Neville is a perfect tenor, the only one of us who could sing in tune with the Fab Four. It definitely helped to strengthen the spell.") Of course, the whole think would never have been possible without Granger, whose extensive knowlege of Muggle life helped them to identify the "CD" and explain how to use it, as well as knowing what to do with the puddle of evil left behind by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. In her words:
"Puddles of evil are easily dispatched by a mop and pail, any skilled House-Elf can do it. We were very fortunate, of course, to have one of Hogwarts' houselves with us at the time, and he conjured a mop before we could even finish singing. There are several examples of this phenomenon mentioned in Hogwarts, a History-- at least three different incidences of evil puddles. This is the real reason that Hogwarts keeps so many houseelves in its employ-- they are actually there for security as much as anything."
The house-elf in question, ("Dobby") was unavailable for interview but is rumored to be co-heading the new House-Elf Union along with Granger, who in turn is rumored to be interviewing for a new Ministry Division Leadership role.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


First off, I love this book. It is my new favorite non-fiction-- what, don't you categorize your favorite books? Read it, especially if the concept of eating locally appeals to you. Or gardening. Or...yeah. Just read it.
I've been feeling so restless, lately. Perhaps it's the weather, perfect late spring here in Virginia; Texas sure didn't look like this. We got an email from our CSA farm, detailing the pickup times and dates-- although the start date of the season depends, apparently, on when the strawberries ripen. I love the idea of my kitchen filled to the brim with fresh veggies, and of 'having' to learn new recipes to deal with them.

I feel restless, partly because I'm being held hostage by my body for a little while. The Big MC was almost four weeks ago to the day, and I am waiting for "normal post-MC cycle no. 1", before we can start trying to make a new Grain-of-Rice. Except that we decided to retire that embryonic nickname, in the way that the jersey numbers of great atheletes are retired. There will never actually be another Grain of Rice, although Don has suggested Oat Flake for the next. (This is why the naming of actual children--as opposed to embryos--will not be falling into his hands.) If I were "normal", then my period would start tomorrow, and after that, full steam ahead on Project Oat Flake. As it is, I don't feel very PMS-y and there's no telling when it'll actually show up.

Perhaps the restless is because Don and I are getting married, starting a family. (I hope.) Big, life-lasting changes. But I want to settle down. I'm tired of the pattern of our life: move, stay a few years, move, repeat. We moved from Texas to Vermont not long after starting our relationship. My reasoning for that move was that I didn't want to get stuck in Texas, as anyone who's been to (that city) for more than a few days can understand, I'm sure. I was born there, raised there, was attending a university less than a mile from my old high school. I was entertaining a suffocating vision of graduating from that school, getting a job, buying a house, all in the same miserably hot, monotonous, boring city and its suburbs. Naturally, high-tailing it to a university in Vermont to study environmentalism and business was the logical response. And Don, blessed with wanderlust as he is, was willing to come along.

After graduating from that university we came back, even though I'd learned to love Vermont in those few short years. Because I missed my family. Because I was flying home two, three times a year to see my parents, sister, brother. Because the career possibilites for Don in his field up there were almost nil. But it only took another year and a half to get that suffocating-in-the-concrete-rimmed-heat feeling, the drowning-in-the-suburbs-blues. We discussed it, decided that if any advancements came to Don that would take us away again, we would go for it. We made a list of potential cities by looking at every place that his company had hotels and yes-or-noing it. Detroit, Houston, and L.A. all got nos. This town, among others, got a yes. So, we come here, to Virginia.

It's been about six months now since I moved, and I like it here. I like that any road will take you into the "country" within ten minutes. No suburbs. I like the smells: in the early morning, our front yard smells like maple syrup. We have a big old maple there, but I don't know if it's the kind that makes syrup, or if that's where the smell is coming from. It is intriguing. At various times, I've noticed the smells of clover, rain, gunpowder (last night, college kids celebrating the end of the semester), lilacs, honeysuckle, and manure-probably drifting in from the farms just out of town, like the one we now belong to. Having lived in Texas' Gardening Zone 8 and Vermont's chilly 4, I feel like I'm splitting the difference in the best way here, where it is possible to grow pretty much anything. A gardener's paradise, for all that I have nothing but four pots of impatiens and a tumbled mix of climbing green beans, nastutiums, and morning glories waiting to climb up their trellis. We planted all of those from seed, hoping to screen our front porch better from the road.

It's not that I feel restless to move again, but that I want to stop moving and put down some roots, for once. I feel restless to make some plans with permanence, to plant something other than annuals. If this place is IT, then lets get planning. House, acreage, whatever. If it's not, (because he is nowhere near as thrilled as I am, something about the job or whatever) then let's figure out where we want to go for all, and do that. I will be honest about something here, about the jobs. I don't see my job as a career, right now. If we ever successfully spring-off, my plan will be to quit the job or at least cut back to part time, and then have another baby, and then quit. I think that the whole 'Work--Don't Work' difficult-decision thing only applies to women who either make substantial money or who really get something from their work-- satisfaction, fufillment, respect, what-have-you. I make about 1/3 what Don does. I work at a job that doesn't really suit me, that doesn't do anything for me personally, but keeps me in lattes and health insurance. For me, it's a no-brainer that if I had a baby, I would want to "stay home".

Don and I both fantasize about country livin'. We both, independently, want a rural home, wooded lot, huge garden, chickens. Okay, maybe I'm the only one who wants chickens. I've mentioned this before, but the feeling has intensified lately, for all of the reasons above. The difference is that Don is okay with buying a house (if we can) and then leaving again soon, in two or three years. I want to stay. What's the point, if we just move again? Just to secure a nicer view, for the few more years here? But, his job and career come into play. There's nowhere for him to go around here, none of the career-advancing jumps that he's always itching to go for. One of the reasons we left Vermont, after all. He's not that thrilled with the position that he has here, and definitely wouldn't see this job as the top of his ladder. But in his industry, a new position means a new hotel, either within the company or not. He's already at the best hotel in this town, so a promotion means another move. And no promotion means a much-less-than-satisfied-Don, a frustrated Don. That's not what I want, either. But is there a solution at all? Convincing Don that he likes it here more than he thinks, that being further from town would make it so much better that he'll be happy to stay? I don't think that will work. Convincing myself that I'm fine with pulling up the tent stakes again, and probably again after that? That's not going to happen either. Somewhere in this mire is a compromise, I just don't see it yet.

So I feel stuck. As though I know that we're only here for another two years or so, but that there's not much I can do to change that, or to make it better. The possibility of returning to Texas always hovers, but... no. No more endless 8-lane highways, smog, sterile apartment complexes, drought, 100+degree summers for weeks at a time. It's just not worth it to live in a place that we dislike that much, even for a lower cost of living and better career options.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Well Hi Again

I sent my brother a book on photography for his 16th birthday last week. He emailed me this photo that he took with his thanks. I think he's got some promise.

Long absence from the blog, because there's too much going on in my head to properly record it. Swirling thoughts that don't lend themselves to posting, little snippets.

That, and Don and I are getting married in a few weeks, on May 26. Surprise! Yes. We are travelling to New Mexico, where my parents have a vacation home, and having a tiny wedding. 16 people, including Don and me, just immediate family. A judge (the judge?) is coming to the house to marry us there. Then we are honeymooning in Seattle, where we will drink too much coffee and perhaps try for pregnancy numero dos.

I have never been a "wedding" person. This is something that's hard to explain to most people. I remember once trying to earnestly tell my former 'best friend' that I don't much care for weddings, that I would never want a big, formal affair. She dismissed the idea out of hand, saying, "Ridiculous, every girl secretly wants a big wedding!" I once suggested that Don and I might have a Halloween wedding, a costume party in which our costumes were "bride" and "groom"; she told be to stop kidding around. I wasn't. Ah well, she never really got me, I guess . As little girls, my sister and I didn't play "bride". I have never fantasized about walking down the aisle, matching bridesmaid dresses, Pachelbel's Canon in D. I have never craved being the center of attention.

I don't know why, but I seem to be missing some crucial gene that makes it desirable to spend all of one's money (or one's parents', or go into massive debts) on one day. One day! That guests may or may not remember fondly. I've only been to one wonderful wedding, my cousin's.That you, yourself may or may not remember fondly. The hype, it is so huge. This is "YOUR day!": to get whatever you want, to look beautiful, to be the star. "Once in a lifetime!"... so they say. For about half, actually, according to the statistics.

Don and I always wanted a small, small wedding. His idea of small is just the two of us. Mine is to include at least our parents, because getting married without the parents implies that we're eloping, running away, that we don't have their approval and their blessing. I tossed some ideas around with my mother during our December trip to Big Bend, but it wasn't until I announced my pregnancy in early March that the wedding plans took off. Mainly this was because of my Dad, who after recovering from the shock of impending grand-parenthood decided that we needed to plan this wedding NOW. You know, before I got all big and pregnant-looking. Before having a kid out of "wedlock". Speaking of which, wedLOCK? Who on earth came up with that phrase? Don and I got a kick out of calling it our "shotgun wedding", seeing as we've been engaged for ... 2 years now?

Me: Really, I'm fine with it just being me, Don, and you guys.
Dad: And the uncle, aunt, cousins, and partners right?
Me: Umm, of course. That's what I meant, silly me.

So between my parents and Don's (!!!), one paternal uncle, his three kids (my first cousins), two partners/spouses, one baby, one maternal uncle (!!!) and his daughter, and of course my brother and sister, we have fourteen guests: flying in from Texas, Michigan, Illinois, California. I'm seriously touched that so many people would go so far out of their way, on such short notice; to be told about a May wedding in March. Don's parents I never expected to come. They just don't travel anymore; Don's been telling me for a long time that they wouldn't be able to come unless we had the wedding in their backyard, or something. And yet, they are bravely, stoically making the trip. As are my uncle and cousin on my mom's side, whom I've never seen outside of their own state before. They've never travelled on our account, before. Hence the exited exclamation points previously.

My parents, bless them, have done about 95% of the planning and logistics for this. First because I was in the exhausting first weeks of pregnancy when all you seem to be able to do is sleep, perchance to wake up and eat something. Then, because I was blindsided by the miscarriage and its aftermath. Now, I'm so exited about this. Apparently it IS possible to have an unusual, noncommercial wedding; it just requires examination of every "tradition" for personal value.

Does a frilly white cake mean something to us? Hell no. Chocolate anything does, though... and cupcakes, and tirimisu. Do we want the traditionsDo we actually want "attendants"-- bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls? For that matter, do we need a procession or even an "aisle"? In this case, no and no. No pomp, no circumstance, no 'here comes the bride...' Casual is the name of this game: casual, meaningful, and intimate. And yet I've bought a white dress, and a slightly poofy one at that. White is a really good color for me. And any dress I wear has to be full in the skirt because of the way I'm built, which is generous on the bottom. Sleek, straight dresses don't work on me; they bulge at the hips and look rediculous. Also, I wanted there to be something, some little part, that still connects with main-stream wedding culture. Some indication in the photos that this was, indeed, a wedding and not merely a family reunion.

So, world, that's my big announcement. In 2 weeks and 1 day, Don and I will make the quantum leap from shackin' up to legally wed. I'll post pictures when we get back from the honeymoon.