Archive for October, 2005

Playing Catchup

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

Before I begin my self-absorbed tale, I want to send my best thoughts / wishes / prayers to those of affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I hope you all are starting to get things back together there, an that you and yours made it safely through the storms. Looking at the devestation on TV is one thing, but I can’t even begin to imagine having to witness it first hand – especially if the rubble and debris is your own neighborhood. Be safe and be well.

When we last left our heroine (modestly known as me), she had set a date for her wedding and was contemplating a move 200 miles away from her current home. That was more than two months ago. I am now writing this from the comfort of our new home in our new city, 200 miles away from the last entry.

Here’s the unnecessarily long version of this story, with my apologies for it’s ramblings and extreme boredom:

At the end of July, Beau Hunk and I took a trip to the area to which we were moving. Neither one of us had been up there for decades, so it seemed appropriate that we go check it out. We had been doing a lot of research on the web, checking out houses for sale, crime reports, biking info etc. We had also talked to several real estate agents, but had yet to commit to one. We finally found an agent we really liked. She wasn’t pushy, she wasn’t hard core, she had experience with special needs kids (and had some of her own), and knew her business. We made plans to go north and have her squire us around.

The plan was for us to arrive on Friday and check out some things on our own, then meet with her on Saturday and Sunday (if needed). Since our hotel was not so fabulous, we decided to head out and explore neighborhoods. We ended up calling our agent to get us info on houses we had drove by but for which we had no info. It turned out she was available and could come squire us around right then. Cool! It turned out to be a frustrating, disappointing and very long day. One thing we found out was that owning land didn’t mean you could use the land. Many lots had either large easements for greenspace, or just dived off a hill. So houses that had 2 acres on paper would really only have 20 feet of usable backyard before it dropped off into a canyon. We don’t have much of a desire to pay for land we can’t use.

We weren’t scheduled to meet with our agent until noon Saturday, so we headed out to check out some different neighborhoods on our own. We stumbled upon one neighboorhood we really, really liked that had houses for sale. We ended up driving around and calling our agent with messages like “We found another one – the address is blah blah blah. Add that one to the list.”

We met with the agent and spent most of the day running around this neighborhood looking at places. We found one that we considered making an offer on, but we thought the price was out of line. Especially since the place was a total estrogen-fest. There was floral wallpaper everywhere. Especially the bathroom. Beau Hunk and I walked in there, and I swear, I could feel his balls shrinking from across the room. There was no way in hell that bathroom stayed that way, so there was work to be done.

The decision was made to go back to the agent’s office and comp the house, just to see what a reasonable offer would be. In doing that, we found a house across the street that was up for significantly less. We recalled the house – it was what Beau Hunk referred to as “the booger of the block” – it was by far the least kept house on the block, but the price was right, so we decided to give it a look. We were told by the selling agent that we should “look past the piles of stuff”.

That was not an understatement. When we pulled up, the garage door was open, revealing piles and piles and piles of boxes. I spotted a stack of canned goods in cases, including two cases of red beans, and two cases of cream of mushroom soup. I knew instantly this was not a healthy person we were about to meet. The inside of the house was also crammed full of stuff. The living room held two TVs, a very large mechanic’s toolbox and dozens of cardboard boxes. One bedroom was so full of stuff we couldn’t even get in. The carpets (that we could see and weren’t covered by stuff) were dingy gray and really stained.

The lot was huge, but the owner had never done anything with it. The back yard consisted of weeds and a rickety fence. The property extended beyond the fence, where the weeds were just as thick, only they were eyeball-high instead of knee-high. But the property backed up to green space and there were no houses behind. That was something that really appealed to us.

This house was a really nice neighborhood, and the price was at least $100K below the other houses around, so we decided to go for it. We made an offer and drove home, hoping for the best.

Of course, nothing could be quite that simple in my life, could it? Of course not! You see, we asked for a 45 day escrow, not contingent on selling the Bay Area house. Afterall, the Bay Area market is hotter than hell, so selling wouldn’t be a problem. Except that the house wasn’t ready to be put on the market yet. We still had work to do. That my friends, is what programmers and other geeky types call a “sequence error”.

So we hauled ass home and started doing the bare minimum things that had to be done to sell the house: scrub up the kitchen cabinets, paint the exterior, finish touch-up painting, etc. Time was running out, we had work to do!

In the meantime, we started arranging financing, which was somewhat complicated by the fact that I was about to be unemployed. We were up front about this to all the lenders, and they all seemed to accept it since we were making a pretty good down payment. The best rates were through The Company Whose Name Starts With E and Ends With Loan. Everything was cool for four days – until we got past the person who took our app and started talking to our loan consultant, a person we named Attitudinal Asshole. Suddenly there was “no way, no how” this loan would go through, because I was going to be unemployed. We explained that we had that all worked out with the previous person, and the response back was “He works for me, he’s made a serious error in judgement and will be counselled. I am the be-all end-all of this loan, and no how, no way does it fund.” You’re fucking kidding me. Even if that’s the case, what kind of customer representative says those words??

We went back to the original person to whom we had been dealing for the last four days. He verbally rolled his eyes and went to his supervisor, who immediately had the loan re-run with $1/year for income. No problem, the rate even stayed the same. So back to the Attitudinal Asshole, who had to eat his words. I, being an asshole myself, had to rub it in a bit. “So I need some assurance that this process won’t hit anymore roadblocks along the way, because yesterday it was ‘No how, no way’ and today it’s ok.” He copped more attitude and said he couldn’t assure me of anything. Then he wanted a ton of documentation for the loan – we’re talking everything short of a picture of my mother with a fish up her nose. We had had enough.

We once again contacted the original person with whom we had dealt, who once again went to his supervisor. But this time, the supervisor called Beau Hunk directly. They were not amused with the language that Attitudinal Asshole had used, and immediately removed him from the case. They assigned us a new loan coordinator who was totally awesome to work with. Good thing too, because they were about to lose our business. Low rates are one thing, but if you have to get your balls busted to get it, it’s not worth it.

Somehow we managed to get the work done to the house and get the bloody thing on the market, but it took a few weeks. We went into MLS on Thursday, had an open house on Saturday, and had two offers on the table by Monday. Both were for 100% financing with cash back for closing costs. That meant we needed a full 30 day escrow, which would put us past our close date for the new house. Which was a problem, because we needed the payoff from the Bay Area house to put the down on the new house. Yep, another Sequence Error was looming.

Then the real fun began. We made a counter to the terms on the first offer (not money, just closing dates and such) on Monday night. On Tuesday night we got a call from the buying agent saying she didn’t have an answer to the counter yet, but could her clients come by and look again? You see, it turns out that the husband made an offer without the wife’s knowledge and she hadn’t seen the house yet. WTF? But ok, whatever.

When the couple showed up, Beau Hunk recognized the wife as a person who had come up to the door Sunday afternoon and made up some story about how she was supposed to meet her agent there in a few minutes, so golly, could she just come in now? Rule number one of selling a house: never let anyone in your house without an agent. And we knew she was making up the story, because the listing said agents must call ahead before showing up. We have a small child afterall, and some times are not optimal for people to drop by. No call from an agent means she wasn’t meeting her agent there in a few minuts. She was lying. We turned her away, saying when her agent got here, the agent could call ahead for an appointment. She got in her car and left. Amazingly enough, an agent never showed up.

So imagine our surprise when she showed up at the door on Monday. Had she just told the truth on Sunday, we probably would have let her in. We still haven’t figured out why she felt like she needed to lie. It turned out to be a moot point, because they declined our counter offer on Tuesday. We were actually relieved. We didn’t like the idea of doing business with a husband who made offers on houses without his wife’s knowledge and a wife who lies when the truth would have served her much better.

We moved on to the second offer and made the same counters to its terms. The buyer accepted the offer and we entered into escrow. With an accepted offer on the table, we made arrangements to delay the close of the house we were buying by a week so the Bay Area house would close in time for us to use the proceeds for the down payment.

But remember what I said about it not being that easy? No sooner did we get the seller of the house we were buying to agree to the later close date, than the buyers of our house backed out of the contract. Apparently “earnest money” and a signed contract don’t mean shit, and they backed out without consequence. I’m still amazed as to how that works, but whatever.

We now had to start over and find a new buyer. Which in all likelihood meant that we wouldn’t be able to close the Bay Area house before we had to come up with the down for the house we were buying. Panic ensued at the House O’Hag and Hunk, and we started scrambling to find other ways to make the down. We ended up being able to unlock some of the Bay Area house’s equity, but with loan processing times, it was going to be close. In the meantime, we dropped the price of the Bay Area house to get into a lower search bracket in MLS and relisted that sucker on Thursday.

By Monday morning we had three more offers on the table, with two more waffling. Two offers were for the new asking price at 100% financing and cash back for closing costs. But the third offer was for more than our original asking price and with 10% cash down! That meant that the escrow could close in less than 30 days. We could make our closing date! Not being idiots, we accepted this offer.

The only snag to this process was the equity we got out of the house to make the down. As expected, the loan took a while to come through, which meant that the payoff order couldn’t be put through right away. That delayed the sale of the Bay Area house, but we were able to close the house we were buying on time. Luckily, the delay in the Bay Area house wasn’t a problem, although we did come (literally) within minutes of the buyer losing his lock on his loan rate, which would have meant we would have had to pay a penalty for him to keep the rate. But no worry, it happened.

Now, since this entry is approximately four billion pages long, I will quit now. Coming soon – the fascinating tale of moving in to the new house. I know, bated breath and all that… but thanks for reading.

Moving Up, Moving In

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

As the rest of the nation sat glued to their TVs tracking Hurricane Rita, Beau Hunk and I were preparing for an evacuation of our own – out of the Bay Area house. We spent a few weeks weeding through our stuff, planning what furniture to donate / give away, packing non-essential items and making 400 mile (round) trips to a storage unit with a rented trailer. The new house closed on the 23rd, and the Bay Area house wasn’t due to close until sometime around the 30th, so we knew we had some wiggle room.

But there were plenty of things on which we had not planned.

First of all, we knew the new house was being lived in by a person of questionable mental health. What we didn’t realize was the magnitude of his sloth. When we toured the house, the carpet was gray and stained. It was also covered by quite a lot of stuff, and all the windows had the drapes drawn and many were permanently covered, so there wasn’t exactly a flood of light coming in to the place.

We saw the house again a few weeks before we moved – we were in town to drop off stuff at our storage unit and went by the house. The owner was outside packing up his stuff and invited us in to see a few things. It was then that we realized the house was dirtier than we had thought and the carpets were not ready to be lived on. There was also still a lot of stuff in the house and the windows were still covered , so it was hard to get a good look at the whole picture.

We had been thinking about the possibility of removing a wall of the kitchen, so we didn’t want to replace the carpets until we had a chance to mull that over and make a decision. So instead we decided to have the carpets professionally cleaned before we moved in, in the hopes we could make them liveable. At least we knew they’d be clean for Woo.

What we didn’t realize was that the person who lived here had a magnitude of pigness that we hadn’t come close to estimating. We got here around 6pm on the 23rd, and were greeted by our wonderful agent who was bearing pizzas. She knew we were coming in late and didn’t know our way around town, so her welcome was dinner. It was a godsend!!

It was at this point we started to really see what we were up against. We walked into the house and the first thing that we noticed was that the carpets weren’t gray, they were pink. Think about that. Pink, not gray. Ew! And in spite of cleaning, they were still in terrible shape. (The cleaners had called us and said there was no way they could get them clean.) An example: You can see a clean rectangle where the couch was. You can see a clean rectangle where the coffee table was. And in between the two you can see which end of the couch the previous owner occupied, because the carpet is black. After being professionally cleaned. Black. No kidding. We put the couch over that spot because it’s just too gross to contemplate.

The previous owner made no effort to clean the place. It was truly disgusting. You know how when you use a bar of soap next to a sink and it leaves soap on the counter? He didn’t even wipe that up. He just packed, closed the door, and walked away. He left us his fridge (we left ours for our buyer – too much of a bitch to move) and there was even food left in it. Not much, but it was there. We’re talking half eaten ice cream containers. Why in the name of all that is good and holy would you think that was ok?

The walls were filthy, the tub was unspeakably gross, the kitchen floor was black in places, and even the walls and switch plates were filthy. We’re talking years of grime. The first night we assembled our new bed from Ikea and fell into it, wondering just what kind of a pig in a poke we had been suckered into buying.

Satuday dawned and we set out to make this sty liveable. I started in the kitchen, which would turn out to be a huge project. I started from the top down, scrubbing the cabinets with Murphy’s oil soap the OrangeGlo, the counter tops with SoftScrub with bleach and a stiff brush, and the floors with barely diluted PineSol. As soon as I started I knew I was in for a lot of work. When I started scrubbing the tile counters, the chocolate brown grout (that was black in places) started turning sandy beige. I didn’t know whether to wretch or cry. But the good news is that I hated the dark brown grout and it looks really good with beige grout. The cabinets had food stuck to them. The bottom rails of the doors (especially on the lower cabinets) had dirt and dust an eighth of an inch thick. The dining room ceiling light fixture had so much dust and gunk on it that light no longer made it through the clear glass on the top of the fixture. It was completely obscured by years of crud.

I finally got to the floor after about eight hours of cabinet and countertop scrubbing. I grabbed my kneeling pad I use for working in the garden and my stiff bristled brush and went to work. I tried the mop, but that was a waste of time. The dirt on the floor just laughed at my mop. It argued with my scrub brush, but I was eventually able to win the battle. At one point I got up and noticed that the tops of my feet were hideously dirty. I realized this was because I had been kneeling on the floor and the tops of my feet had been rubbing on the floor as I was doing so. The floor was that dirty.

Thank the dieties that Woo was with his mom during all this. I can’t imagine having him in this house with all this pigginess. I have come up with many nicknames for the previous owner, including Pig, PigBoy and Piggie Pie (the name of a book I read to Woo). I shared this with Beau Hunk, who laughed and commented that I had built up quite a disdain for the man. I said, yes, a day and a half of wallowing in someone else’s disgusting filth will do that to you.

While I was battling with the kitchen, Beau Hunk painted Woo’s room and put together his new furniture from Ikea. We painted the room a really pretty light sky blue. It looks really great. After that was done, Beau Hunk set in to tackle cleaning the bathrooms, door jambs and light switches. We decided our policy would be that we would not touch anything that the previous owner touched without chemical intervention.

By the time Woo got here on Sunday night, we had the place reasonalby together. We didn’t move in much furniture – first because some was back at the Bay Area house, secondly because we decided to replace the carpet as soon as possible. There’s not much point in moving stuff in just to move it back out in a few weeks.

Having our posessions spread out between the two houses became a real pain in the ass pretty quickly. For starters, we forgot to bring the box that had the computer mouse and our cell phone chargers. That may not sound too bad, but if you take into consideration that we didn’t put in a landline here and were using only our cells, you realize our quandry. To add salt to this wound, both our phones started dying at the same time – just as we got notice that the Bay Area house was about to close – three days early. Uh-oh. We went to a nearby store and bought a car charger to solve the phone problem. However, the real problem was that we still had a significant amount of belongings in that house. Oops.

We planned to leave the new place at 8am on Wednesday to make the 3-4 hour drive to the Bay Area and get the rest of our belongings. But because Fate is such a bitch, that plan was foiled when Woo woke up at 5:45 am asking for a puke bucket. He and I spent the next three hours going through puke cycles every 20 minutes. The poor little guy was in a bad way. He didn’t have a fever, and he wasn’t bringing up anything but liquid, so when he suddenly perked up around 9, we weren’t surprised. By 10am we were on the road, heading off to get our stuff and leave the Bay Area for good. For insurance (and in case Woo needed some tending), we asked my parents to drop everything and meet us at the house.

It was a good thing we did, too, because we ended up loading our truck and a rental trailer, plus their truck to the absolute gills to get everything out. We showed up at the Bay Area house at 2pm and didn’t leave until 9pm. We got back here at 1 in the morning. Talk about a really shitty day. Woo never puked again, but he was a huge handful. He didn’t do well with the stress and chaos, and was a complete butt the whole day. It was one meltdown and defiant act after another. We ended up asking my mom to dedicate her time to watching/entertaining Woo. I think she was ready to jump off a cliff when the day was done.

We sent my parents home with their load around 7pm while we tied up all the loose ends. It was a horrible, long day, but by the time we left, we were able to lock the doors, leave the keys on the counter and walk away. Forever. It was a good feeling. I’ll miss that little house – I (with the help of a lot of other people) put a lot of effort into fixing it up, but it was time to move on.

We are slowly getting settled into the new house. As we continue to pick away at the grime, we have discovered a lovely little jewel sitting below the filth. Carpet is on order, we’ve picked a paint color, and have a plan for the yards. We’ve made some quick hits that have really brightened the place up – cutting down or trimming overgrown bushes and trees, changing out light fixtures, etc. We have started to fall in love with our little house, and think we’re going to like it here just fine.

The neighborhood gossip lives across the street and informed us that Piggie Pie moved into the house after his mother died. The rumor is that she may have even died in the house. I thought about that and briefly wondered if she had any intentions of haunting our cute little abode. Then I decided that, if anything, she’s probably glad that someone is finally living in her house who will take care of it and not wallow around in their own filth. I think she might be happy that there is a family living here who cares about the place and fills it with light, love and laughter. She wouldn’t dare haunt us, we may be her wish come true.

Counting Down

Thursday, October 6th, 2005

So in the middle of all this mess of selling a house, buying a house, moving 200 miles and quitting my job*, I’ve also been planning a wedding. (And for those of you who have asked, yes, I do have a Wedding Registry at Amazon.) Ok, so ours is not the kind of wedding that requires much planning, but there are things to be done. So far we’ve taken care of the officiant, photographer, venue, guests (all two of them) and accomodations. The only thing left is ordering my bouquet. Oh, and getting me a dress.

That’s right, the wedding is a week away and I don’t have a dress yet. Yeah, I’m a dipshit. But that’s not exactly news, now is it?

*(I’ve kind of glossed that one over, but yeah, I quit my job. I liked my job, but this not working this is kinda cool. But that’s a story for another entry.)

So yesterday I made the trek down to Sacramento to go shopping with my mom. We started out going to a bridal shop, mostly just for curiosity. I found a couple of dresses I liked, but they were $300 – 500. I realize that’s not exactly pricey for bridal attire, but I didn’t really want to spend that much. Besides they were way to floofy for me, and most would make Beau Hunk look underdressed in a suit.

We headed to Nordstrom Rack next, and spent a sum total of a minute in that store because the stock was pure crap. There wasn’t anything even vaguely near what we needed in there. So next we headed across the street to the real Nordstrom.

Where we hit paydirt! Mom and I found a blouse and pants outfit that worked just perfectly. The pants were kulotte type – where they looked a lot like a skirt. The blouse was a drape front, with sheer long sleeves and tuxedo cuffs. They both were in ivory. Elegant, dressy, but not over the top. They would also work well if I wanted to wear them to a cocktail party or a very nice dinner out. Not that I go to a huge number of cocktail parties (like none), but with Beau Hunk going into law, that may change.

But what didn’t work was the size. The pants were size 8 and were tight, but worked because they had an elastic waist. The blouse was a size 6 though, and I couldn’t even get it to zip up. But I did get the concept of the outfit and knew I liked it. The price was right too – well under $200. The wonderful salesperson checked inventory and found the blouse in size 10 and 12 (not sure which I would need), but they were in Santa Ana – southern California. That doesn’t do me much good. But she assured us she could order them and have them shipped overnight and I could return whichever size didn’t work for me. It’s so nice to know that customer service still exists!!

Deciding that having the items shipped would be a good option, but wanting to make sure there was nothing else I was missing in another store, we walked the mall. We hit a half dozen other stores and didn’t find much. We found a few dresses that were really beautiful and would be lovely for this occasion, but they weren’t very flattering. You see, although I had a goal to lose 20 pounds before my wedding, I managed to not lose a single ounce. I think I actually gained weight.

So I’ve become even more lumpy and chubby than I was, which ruled out all sheath-style dresses. They looked ridiculously bad. I’m sure I could have stuffed myself into a full-body girdle and made one work, but I’d rather be a little more confortable than that. Besides, it’s pretty much a given that I’ll be photographed (I am 50% of the main attraction, after all), and I’d hate to look at those pictures and be embarassed to show them to anyone. I’d rather hide everything behind a nice curtain of folds, thankyouverymuch.

We ended up ordering the outfit from Nordstrom. It will be here Friday. Hopefully, when I put on the clothes in my size, it will look as nice as I imagine it will. If not, I do have a plan. It involves panic, wailing, and the imitation of decapitated poultry. You’ll note I never said it was a good or rational plan, but it is a plan.

The Big Bail Out

Friday, October 7th, 2005

It was a bad night around here last night. A family member ended up spending the night in jail. I didn’t sleep very well, worried about him, and had to go down this morning and bail him out. But the fine was relatively small and he seemed none too worse for the wear.

The charge? Dog at large. My dog now has “priors”. My failure as a dog parent is now complete.

It all started yesterday morning when Beau Hunk went out the back gate to check for the property line markers. The neighbor told us she had had the line surveyed by the city and an official marker was back there, somewhere. Since we’ve been discussing what we want to do with the lot, it was pretty much critical that we get a handle on what we actually own. I remember seeing my dog run out the gate behind him and went back to making sure Woo wasn’t on the verge of mayhem in the yard.

And that was the last I thought about that. We got Woo ready and took him to school, ran a bunch of errands – including to City Hall where we inquired about our property, and ironically enough, got the paperwork to get licenses for the dogs. Little did I know that at that very moment, my dog was either wandering around the greenbelt canyon behind the house or being hauled off to the pokey.

We picked up Woo from school, and ran some more errands. We didn’t get back home until right before 5pm. It was then that I asked “Where’s my dog?” Yeah, I know, I suck. We called and called, and Beau Hunk went searching through the canyon while I called Animal Control. I have to admit that I did have some really Drama Queen thoughts – having horrible visions of Beau Hunk trudging back up the slope with a dead or severely wounded dog in his hands. It took about 20 minutes on the phone to Animal Control, but they finally confirmed that they had him at the shelter. But the shelter closed at 5pm, so I’d have to wait until the morning to bail him out.

Normally I’m a much more responsible dog owner than this. My dog has a collar with my phone number on it and his is microchipped. But the problem with that is that all that information is for the old house. When we moved up here we decided not to get a landline (at least for now), so we are using our cellphones. And with the wedding plans being attached to those numbers, they are still Bay Area numbers. We are planning to switch them to local numbers in a couple of weeks, so we haven’t gotten new tags for the animals yet. Furthermore, the information associated with his microchip hasn’t been updated. So instead of getting a phone call letting me know my dog was on a walkabout, he ended up in doggy jail.

I went and picked him up first thing this morning. The people at the shelter were a little cold at first, probably thinking I’m a completely irresponsible dog owner. But when I started explaining why his old license was expired (it ran out a month before we moved and I wasn’t going to pay it since it’s more than twice the price of licenses up here), why he wasn’t registered here (just moved here), and why the phone number on the tags was disconnected (switching numbers soon) they eased up. They even went so far as to call my vet in the Bay Area, verify that his rabies vaccination was good until 2007, and sell me a license on the spot.

I asked them if he was behaving for them, and said I hope he hadn’t joined a gang or taken up smoking during his stint in the joint. The staff assured me he was doing well, and said he was “quite the social butterfly”. I think he may have been having fun. Yep, that’s a Corgi for ya – he’s just a walking party! They brought him out to me and he looked happy as hell to be walking around with a total stranger for no reason. He did do me the favor of getting excited when he saw me, and ran over to say hi and get his belly rubbed.

So I’m a bad mother, and my dog now has a record. But he’s back home and safe, and that’s all that really matters.

Goin to the Chapel

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

This is the last entry I will write as Miss Hag. In a few hours, Beau Hunk and will get in the car and drive to the coast, where tomorrow we will be married. From that point on, I will technically be Mrs. Bitter Hunk. Which doesn’t really work for the purposes of this site, so for simplicity I will be keeping my maiden name here.

But in the real world I will be taking Beau Hunk’s name. I realize there is a giant contingent of women who will set up a great hue and cry about this, but I have discovered that I am far more of a traditionalist than most “liberal” women. I don’t think changing my name is a big deal, and I am kind of actually looking forward to it. It is somewhat symbolic of all the changes in my life. I don’t feel like I’m losing any part of me, or giving up anything. A rose is a rose, and all that rot.

At any rate, we’re heading off today. We haven’t yet figured out how long the drive will take. According to Google, it’s 5 hours 15 minutes. Maps on Us shows it at 4 hours 6 minutes. Yahoo maps and Mapquest came in at 4 hours 47 minutes and 4 hours 22 minutes. Amazing, since all show the same route and each site shows the total mileage as being within 2 miles. So apparently it will take between four and five hours to get there. Who the hell knows??

And who the hell cares? Rushing to our vacation / wedding / honeymoon spot is totally contrary to the mood of the entire occasion. We’ve got a lovely day, a fistful of fun CDs, and our whole lives ahead of us. What’s to rush??

The Wedding

Monday, October 31st, 2005

“This really sucks.”

I took a sip of my sparkling pear cider and shaded my eyes from the sun. “Yes, it’s horrible that we are forced to live like this. Now please pass me the brie and smoked salmon.”

That was our theme for the entire trip to the coast… Isn’t it terrible that we have to suffer this food / room / view / weather in all of its perfection. It was almost too much to stand, but somehow we endeavered to perservere. The hotel we stayed at is a 38-acre property, scattered with lovely cottages and cabins. The “main house” is a farm house that was built in 1887, and now houses the lobby and five-star restaurant. The movie “Same Time Next Year” was filmed in one of the cottages that sits out on the cliff edge. Our room was at the western-most edge and had an ocean view from the bed, sun room, sitting area and two-person jetted tub. The only place in this room you couldn’t see the ocean was from the bathroom counter and shower. (Even the toilet had an ocean view if you left the door open!) It was wonderfully private and we loved every single thing about it.

We arrived on Tuesday, after a four and half hour drive. We were tired, hungry, and ready to not be in a car. We ran into Mom and Dad in the lobby. They had been there for about an hour and a half and were ready to take us out to dinner in the next town. It was only 12 miles, but our assess weren’t thrilled at the prospect of even one more minute in a car, but away we went. But it had to be done, so we made a flying trip to our room to change clothes, where we found a lovely gift of choclate covered strawberries in our refridgerator, courtesy of my former co-workers. It was only the beginning. We had a lovely dinner on the water’s edge, and enjoyed both the food and the company.

A hastily cobbled together panoramic of the view from our front deck/porch. (Click any photo for the larger version.)

Beau Hunk on his horse.

Posing in front of the surf on our horses.

Riding through the surf.

Posing with our officiant

During the ceremony.

“You may now kiss the bride.”

I like this picture of us, because we are laughing, not posing.

One view from the sun room.

By the light of the fire.

We were glad to get back to the room, and almost too tired to really enjoy it. Almost. Beau Hunk started a fire in the sun room fireplace, and I started enjoying the strawberries. We broke up the activity by running a hot bath in the two-person bathtub, which came with bath salts. When we tired of that, we went back to the fire and enjoyed the moonlight view of the ocean from the couch in front of the fire. When we finally collapsed into the king-sized feather bed, we were completely whooped.

I had a restless night and had hearburn for the first time in recent memory, even though I didn’t have anything remotely spicy for dinner. The nerves had begun. I prayed they wouldn’t get the best of me. The last thing I needed was to be sick on my wedding day. Luckily, we had a full schedule ahead of us. I hoped that would be just the amount of activity and distraction to quell my nerves.

We met my parents for breakfast (provided by the hotel) at 8am. The early start was necessary, since our horseback ride was scheduled for a 9:45am. Breakfast was wonderful, and we all were impressed by the menu. No continental breakfast for this freebie – they offered full meals, including Eggs Benedict, my favorite. But I passed on the Bennie this particular morning, knowing that something that heavy may not be the best move. I opted for the omlette instead. I ended up giving half of it to Beau Hunk because it was huge.

After a lovely breakfast and visit, we headed out for the horse ranch. We signed all our waivers and paperwork, watched an instructional video, then saddled up. My horse was named Sophie, Beau Hunk’s First Prize. We left the ranch, went through a wooded forest and emerged onto a beautiful beach. Our guide was very nice, and we enjoyed her very much. We rode the horses across the sand, through the surf, and even got to canter (run) along the water’s edge. Which is when I realized I have lost all form and function on a horse. I used to ride a lot as a kid, and even owned a horse when I was a young teenager. But that was 20 years ago, and I have exactly zero of the muscles needed to not look like a complete idiot on the back of a running horse. Add to that a camera bouncing around the front pocket of my sweatshirt, and boy was I glad no one could see the jackass on the horse.

The ride was quite lovely, and we both enjoyed it. As we left the ranch, I commented to Beau Hunk that I hadn’t thought of the wedding even once on the ride. Which meant I wasn’t worrying about it or stressing in the least. Huzzah! Mission accomplished.

We had lunch in a nearby tourist town at a pompous and overpriced sandwich shop. I ordered a $12 portabella mushroom sandwich that was so overdosed with balsalmic vinegar that it those brown strips could have been the cook’s sweatsocks and I would have never known. A complete waste of a perfectly good portabella mushroom. (Not to mention $12.) Oddly enough, as we sat there eating, we saw my parents walk by the window. Beau Hunk flagged them down and we chatted for a moment before they left in search of a good bowl of clam chowder.

The next appointment in our schedule was our massages at the hotel. We had 45 minutes or so to spare, so we had planned to just hang out in our room and enjoy the accomodations. That plan was altered when we ran into a lovely couple walking in the area of our room. They were staying elsewhere on the property and were exploring other cabins for future visits. We invited them in to tour our room, and ended up chatting with them for the entire 45 minutes.

It was time for the massages. Beau Hunk had a female therapist, and I had a male. Beau Hunk introduced his person to me as “Mary Jane”. Later he admitted that that was not really her name. When she had introduced herself to him (out of my presence), she had the same name as Beau Hunk’s ex-wife. He said “I think we have a problem. That’s my ex-wife’s name. You can’t be [that name], we have to give you a new name. You’re Mary Jane.” She laughed, went along with it and commented “Of all the names!” But she was a real sweetie, and I really appreciated her willingness to give up her name to keep my experience perfect.

Our massages were incredible. My person turned me into a total mushpie. Not an easy feat, since I was starting to have nerve pangs by this time. When we were done, I joked that I was considering ditching Beau Hunk and marrying him. The poor thing had no idea what to say, and I think I embarassed the hell out of him. Or made him lose his lunch, I’m not exactly sure.

The massages ended around 2:30, and the wedding was scheduled for 4:30. We went to work getting ready. Beau Hunk was the embodyment of cool, calm and collected. Or so I thought at the time. He had misplaced his sunglasses, and was on his way to the main house to see if he had left them at the spa. I asked him to fetch the marriage license while he was out. Which he promptly forgot to do. But he was still in far better shape than I.

I was ok until I tried to wiggle my way into my pantyhose and ran out of material with the crotch at my knees. I have no idea how long it took me to work up enough material to get those fucking baloney stuffers stretched out so I could walk without looking like a penguin, but you better believe I had a few choice words for the manufacturer who claimed those stupid things would work for a 5’8″ woman. Of course, part of it is my fault, because I always manage to forget that even though I am 5’8″ tall, I have the legs of a 6’2″ person. I should know better. Anyway, I made it work, and consider it a minor miracle that I didn’t put a finger through the stupid things trying.

After I crammed myself into those silky white torture devices, I reached into the closet for my outfit, and almost got caught half-naked by my photographer. He was milling around on our front porch. Oops… hope he didn’t hear me wrestling with my undergarments. I finished dressing and Beau Hunk came back to the room. We took a moment to gather ourselves, and then started for the gazebo. Just as I stepped out the door, I spotted a flash from the gazebo. Our photographer was using his zoom lens to take candid photos of us in the room. Unfortunately, I just happened to be adjusting my blouse’s cleavage reveal as the photo was taken. I would soon discover that I was never meant to be a model. It seems like every time I decided to fidget or fuss, someone was taking my picture. Luckily, not all of the professional photos involve me talking, gesticulating or adjusting my clothes or hair.

Beau Hunk gallantly walked me down the stairs towards the gazebo. I had my bouquet in one hand, and was trying to hold the rail with the other. Which left no hand for me to use to keep my hair out of my face, since I was wearing it down and there was a slight breeze. I didn’t fall, but I did manage a completely ungraceful trip, which was witnesses by my entire wedding party. Thank the gods that was only two guests, an officiant and a photographer. Through what I consider to be a small miracle, I made it to the gazebo without killing myself.

We arrived at the gazebo at 4:15. The ceremony was scheduled to start at 4:30, but since everyone was there, we started the proceedings. We finally met our officiant – he came highly recommended by the hotel, and I had only spoken to him on the phone – we loved him. He was a really lovely man, and I’m so glad we were able to have him be part of our day. My mom had asked me earlier if my dad was going to walk me down the aisle. I had to explain to her that 1) there was no aisle, and 2) him walking me into the gazebo would deplete my observation party by exactly half, and leave her standing all alone. After confirming that walking me down a non-existant aisle was not my father’s life goal, we decided to forego that particular bit of pomp.

We started the ceremony, and I had this really surreal “Holy fuck, this is really happening” kind of feeling. Our ceremony was beautiful, and I managed to not cry. Only because I was really nervous. My favorite part was after Beau Hunk and I did the “kiss the bride” thing, he hugged me, and whispered “I love you” in my ear. That may be one of the best I Love You’s he’s ever uttered.

Our officiant did a wonderful job of not reading the words of our ceremony. He spoke them, he meant them, and he put his heart into them. He’s been married for 58 years, and does this for fun. He doesn’t even charge!! (But of course we gave him an “appreciation”.) He said we were his 148th couple. He has a wall of pictures from every ceremony he’s ever performed. I’ll be sending him one of ours too.

After filling out the formal license paperwork and finishing up the photos, we had a few minutes to freshen up and meet Mom and Dad for dinner in the hotel dining room. Dinner was incredible, and we have a lovely long meal. Beau Hunk and I went back to the room and once again enjoyed a fire, the double tub, and the ocean by moonlight from the sun room.

Mom and Dad were checking out the next morning, so we arranged to meet them for a late breakfast (it was our wedding night afterall). Again, breakfast was just lovely, and we enjoyed it very much. Since we had booked our room for an extra day, we said goodbye to Mom and Dad and went about enjoying ourselves. The plan was to go into the nearby tourist town and hit a few specialty food shops for cheeses, smoked meats and bread, then have a picnic on our deck and watch the sun go down. But first, we took a walk around the hotel property.

The hotel has a private beach tucked away in a cove. It was a nice little beach, sheltered, quiet and surrounded by rock cliffs. I tried walking in the water, but between the rocky sand and the freezing water, it just got too painful. Beau Hunk toughed it out and went wading while I put my shoes back on and walked just out of reach of the water. I looked down and saw two abalone shells just lying there on the beach. I called over Beau Hunk, who thought I had to be hallucinating or just plain wrong. But no, clear as day, there were two abalone shells. We turned over one and found that it was occupied – the animal was still at home and alive. Beau Hunk picked it up and tossed it back in the water. He picked up the second shell and found it was empty. It was a perfect shell, so we rinsed it out and hauled it back home, deciding that would be our honeymoon souvenir.

After our property walk about, we headed out for our shopping trip. While we were walking around town visiting the various shops, a young man walking down the sidewalk yelled something as we passed by. As near as we can figure out, it was somthing about how Bush’s dad got him out of military service. Okaaay. I guess we looked like people who needed to be educated by the lunatic blurtings of a total stranger. I guess this is what passes for political debate in this town – nearly incomprehensible shouting in the general direction of the tourists.

With our political minds now fully enlightened, we headed back to the hotel with a whole host of yummy foods. Which is when we discovered that just the presence of yummy foods will make you hungry. So we camped out on the deck/front porch to enjoy some sunshine and our picnic, even though it was only mid-afternoon. It was perfect. By this time we had managed to completely immerse ourselves in our experience and forget about the world of telephones and computers.

By the time 5:00 rolled around, we were hungry again and decided we’d like a salad from the onsite restaurant. The dining room didn’t open until 6, but the lounge served salads, so we headed to the main house looking for food. The poor bartender was completely overwhelmed, so by the time we placed our order, we knew there was no way we’d make the sunset. Beau Hunk explained to the bartender what we were doing, and asked if we could change our order to be eaten in our room. She understood and expedited our order, handing us our meal with 20 minutes of daylight to spare. Can I tell you how awesome a good Caesar is while watching the sun set into the ocean?? After the sun went down, we once again enjoyed the tub, fireplace and ocean view from the sun room.

Friday morning finally showed us the coast we usually see – wet, foggy and chilly. Which worked out fine for us, since another warm sunny morning might have made us want to stay! We woke up fairly early and enjoyed the hotel breakfast for the last time. We had planned to leave at noon, but were packed up by 10:30, so we headed for home, deciding to take a different route home. It was about 100 miles farther, and an hour and a half longer, but brought us through the mountains near our home, which we had been anxious to check out. Man, they are awesome!! We can’t wait to go check them out off the road.

We are now back in the real world, but we will always carry with us our memories of the perfect trip, with our perfect ceremony, and our perfect honeymoon. And just in case we need a reminder, we put the abalone shell next to the front door.