Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebration - Part 2

Okay, so apparently I was wrong about how long it would take me to post the next part of the anniversary adventure. Not the next day, but two weeks later.

What can I say, we got very busy. It was, after all, the two weeks leading up to Talk Like a Pirate Day. Which I will discuss in a later post. How much later? Excellent question.

So when last I wrote, the power was out, the rain was pouring down, the room was leaking a little. Time for dinner! The restaurant was supposed to open at 6, but we didn't see how it could without electricity. But no, the woman at the front desk told us it was open. They must have a generator.

The restaurant at Sand Castle is an open air affair, and given the really remarkable rain it was hard to see how that was going to work. There was one small area near the bar under cover, and about nine, ten people were crowded in underneath the canopy at the few little tables. We pulled the last table out of the rain right next to another and sat down.

And that's how we met Larry and Chris. They were a couple vacationing from Nashville. The arrangements made it all very cozy, and when Chris moved around to the other side so he could smoke without bothering Larry, we were all basically having dinner together.

And that was fine. These were two funny, funny guys. Larry does something in banking – he explained it but I couldn't follow it exactly. Chris is in oncology. I have no idea if he is a doctor, a nurse or some kind of technician, but he had some stories. I also found it interesting that he smokes. Just seemed odd.

Anyway, they'd been on island about a week, and Larry couldn't wait to move there. Chris seemed more cautious, but everything was funny the way they told it. They asked – and we tried to give – some of our impressions about island living, being transplanted here and making our way in this life that is both similar and foreign to stateside living. But wherever a conversational gambit started it became another joke, or another funny story.

We learned a lot about their lives and families. We learned about their cat and their home and their pool, saw their family photos. We hadn't brought any with us, the house was only half mile away and we hadn't really thought we'd end up sharing time with anyone but ourselves. Still, it was a pleasant dinner. Lot of laughing.

At some point – roughly about the time the waitress brought our prime ribs – the rain stopped. About the time we were asked about dessert, the power came back on. There was general applause.

The cook had something new, an incredibly chocolatey thing served in a martini glass – not pudding but much thicker than mousse, almost like one of those cans of frosting, eaten directly from the can. Tori ordered that (and Larry insisted on paying for it as an anniversary present.) I had a brownie with coffee ice cream and chocolate sauce - way too much for my stomach but not nearly as rich as Tori's dessert. I tried hers of course, and I've never had chocolate that burned. I'm telling you, the spoonful I had left a burning chocolate aftertaste that lingered for several minutes before I cooled it down with my own dessert.

Larry and Chris just fell in love with Tori – pretty much everyone does – and when we paid the check we realized we'd been there for three hours. We went back to our room, where I recited the little bit of poetry I could recall – NOT including "The Cremation of Sam Magee." Our book of poetry is still in storage in Oregon.

It wasn't easy to check out the next day. We'd had a nice time, alone with no kids or phone or anything. Just us. And now the sun was out and there was the beach. Oh well, that's the nice thing about living here. The beach is ALWAYS there. But we had to admit we were a little worried bout the family – they'd been without power too – so we loaded up our one small bag and drove home.

It had been a nice getaway, and we'll be doing some more of those soon, I think. In the meantime, I'm going to finish with the sonnet that I always recite to her every year on Sept. 5 – the most important day in my life.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediment. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
Ah, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on storms and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with its brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be folly, and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An Explosive Celebration

Last Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the best day of my life – the day I married Tori.

In Oregon we always spent our anniversary sitting under the same tree, one we'd carved our initials in, and read poetry while sipping wine and eating bread. Now, partly we did that every year because it was romantic, and because our schedules were so hectic. Sometimes we'd have no more than a half hour or so before one of us, or one of the kids, had to be somewhere. But I have to admit, part of it was that we were kind of broke when we first got married. This was both romantic and inexpensive.

But I always thought Tori deserved a better anniversary than that, and when the city of Albany cut down that tree a couple of years ao, we knew it was time to go.

We're hardly rich now, seriously that's just laughable. But this year we were able to do a little better. (Tori got a great new job. I'll let her tell you about that another time.) I thought it would be nice this year to have some time for us, without having to worry about the kids or the schedule, making dinner or anything like that. So, without telling Tori, I made a reservation for a room at Sand Castles on the Beach, a resort not more half a mile from here, right on our favorite stretch of beach. We'd be right at hand if anything went wrong at home, but we'd be alone. We'd walk on the beach, maybe swim, maybe use the resort's pool. Not worry about anyone but us. We didn't bring the cell phone, didn't bring the laptop. We'd have a sort of island getaway vacation without actually going anywhere.

The weather was dicey that day, cloudy all day with some light sprinkles. Mind you, this was the day after what was left of Tropical Storm Erika had already passed by, and there was nothing on the weather horizon. But instead of sun, we got clouds, gray skies and a little rain.

No problem, I was sure we'd find something to do indoors. And we did.

The room was nice, a suite actually, with a living room, bedroom and small kitchen off the patio. The patio was covered, so even a little rain wouldn't be a problem.

But a little rain was not what we got. After we'd been there a couple of hours we were, sitting in the living room, resting and watching the Notre Dame game (Go Irish!) when there was a flash of light outside. Then a boom. Then more light. Then the roar of rain.

Understand that when we get rain here it's usually brief. Even when it's intense, it's rarely as long as 15 minutes. But this was amazing, a downpour like we haven't seen since Hurricane Omar. Lightning and thunder right on top of us – literally. There'd be the flash and the boom almost simultaneously, which means it's close. And the rain pouring down.

That's when we discovered the kitchen window couldn't be closed. There was a screen, but no glass. It shouldn't have been a problem since the window was perpendicular to the open end of the covered patio, where the rain was coming from. In a typical cloudburst, not even an issue.

But this rain was coming down so hard for so long and blowing so hard that it flooded the kitchen, water pooling up on the floor. We had to run down to the desk and get a lot more towels.

The rain, the thunder, the lightning. It was spectacular. Naturally, the power went out, so we never did see the end of the game (which Notre Dame won, we found out later, 35-0.) And it went on more than two hours. I mean, this was a storm like I hadn't seen here without a hurricane warning attached to it.

Dramatic doesn't begin to describe it. It as an amazing experience, and a spectacular backdrop for our anniversary. And it wasn't the last amazing experience we'd have that weekend.

But we'll tell the rest of the story tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Weather Watch

Last week we had our eye on Erika. It was kind of funny, the hurricane reporting sites we monitor had all been predicting that system would turn into something potentially serious, and as the week wore on they all sounded really annoyed that it wasn't. It's like they were blaming Erika. By the time Erika rolled through the Caribbean it had pretty much dissipated into nothing. Ironically, it was the day after what was left of Erika rolled through that we got quite a bit of rain with some pretty cool lightning and thunder.

Now Fred has formed up off the African coast and is lumbering across the Atlantic at 13 miles an hour. Unlike Erika, Fred has gone from tropical wave to depression to storm to hurricane very quickly, and is continuing to build up steam. But, as is often the case, when a storm builds up a lot of strength early, the rotation causes it to veer north. Also, there's plenty of wind shear blowing from the southwest, which tends to break up storms, and dry air and Saharan dust. So right now we're cautious, but not worried.

Sure enough, all the computer models and tracking maps show Fred heading almost due north, where it will rage out without ever seeing land. So that's a good thing.

Of course you can never be sure. These storms sometimes have a mind of their own. So you keep prepared, with a supply of food and water and flashlights and candles and plenty of books. And you hold your breath until the end of the hurricane season, Nov. 30.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Island Living

Max couldn't get the game cartridge into his Nintendo DS this morning. We tried shoving it in, vigorously, but it wouldn't catch.

Tori – who is both smarter than me and has significantly better eyesight than me – peered into the slot. A tiny – barely an inch long - lizard had crawled in, and when we shoved in the cartridge we'd impaled it on the prongs.

We have written Nintendo customer support (I think this will be a first for them) seeking advice on how to extract the former lizard in a relatively non-gooey and less disgusting way and how to clean lizard entrails off the contacts. I suspect we may have to wait a few days for it to mummify a bit, and perhaps pick up some barf bags.

Because, Damn!