Posts Tagged ‘Dear Friend’

Kismet on the 4th

July 3, 2010

Okay, technically it’s the 3rd of July and Independence Day is tomorrow.  But, I guess tonight celebrated the drunken throw down our founding fathers had the night before signing the Declaration of Independence (which could account for the illegible scribblings of most of the signatories of that document — John Hancock being the exception, but a known megalomaniac overachiever, despised by the rest of the Continental Congress*).

Anyway, back to it… Dear Friend and I wandered downtown for a festival where they shut down a few streets of the city and set up stages for music, plus allow the local fried, greasy, quasi- food vendors to kick up prices and ladle out cholesterol-laden delights.

Oh, and there was beer.  Lots and lots of beer.

We didn’t so much enjoy the crowds, but did wander from one beer stand to the next, stopping occasionally in between to eat something (for strength…to get us to that next beer, of course), to watch some talented young kids from our neck of the woods doing a clever juggling routine, and, of course, to loose with our dance to the music of some pretty damn good bands.  Salsa and free style being the dances of choice (mandated by the music, of course), we kicked it for upwards of an hour and a half of sheer fun.

The evening was to cap off with a fireworks display.  The majority of the crowd meandered out of the music tents towards the river, where the show would be.  Both Dear Friend and I, our legs weary and the car a long way off, decided to wander in that direction, all the while keeping an eye for the start of the show and hoping we could find some semblance of a good place to watch.

That’s when Kismet hit.

Away from the majority of the crowd and a third of the way back to the car, the fireworks show started – – – a few hundred yards away from us across an empty parking lot with the clearest of clear views.  Not the best show I’ve seen, but being so close and having such an unobstructed view made it all that much better.

The raucous cacophony of the bursts, so close to us, reverberated through our bodies.  Crackles, bangs, and deep, throaty booms of the big explosions.  We were close enough that we could smell the remnants of the gunpowder from those fireworks.  And the colors?  Beautiful.  A riot of reds, blues, greens, purples, and whites careened through the sky in waterfall patterns and explosions and even a series of a dozen smiley faces.

Picture found here

I glanced over at Dear Friend during the finale, which was amazingly loud, bright, and thrilling, to see her staring skyward like a little kid seeing her first show, her lips forming a silent “Wow!”.

Beer, Dance, Fireworks, Dear Friend…

Yeah…

Happy 4th!

=-=-=-=-=

*yes, i made that up.  but so what?  it’s more fun this way.

Truth, Justice, and the American Way

February 18, 2010

There I sit at MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul) airport, waiting for my flight on the way to an adventure I’m currently enjoying.  A few random observations – –

–  TRUTH:  Before my divorce, I had a few life adventures (like my trip to Scotland two summers ago).  During the divorce, I was looking forward to dramatically increasing the number and frequency of adventures.  Reality sets in.  These things cost money.  So, I must work.  But work bosses don’t let you take off on holiday any old time and as often as I’d like.  So I find myself balancing more instead of the spontaneity I was (naively?) expecting.  Nonetheless, I am, in the grand scheme of things, increasing the frequency of adventures compared to the first mumblety-three years of my life.  It’s a good thing.

–  JUSTICE:  The Wilds of Ohio is attempting to become less wild.  Consider this a PSA.  A friend, “Slipper”, who has at times abused the bottle prior to driving, was finally caught by the local gendarmes.  I have heard many stories of such stops in the past, wherein the offender, especially if older and without a prior history of being stopped, is usually warned in a tone intended to emphasize the severity of the situation, but released to drive carefully home.  My friend was not so lucky.  Charged with OVI (Operating a Vehicle under the Influence…formally known as DUI, Driving Under the Influence).  The ‘stern talking to’ is gone.  She got 10 days without being allowed to drive at all…that was just to get to the court hearing.  There she got a 6 month suspension to her driving privileges where she can only drive to and from work (how does she get her food?), a $2000 fine, a $500 fee to get her license back, 2 years suspended sentence (meaning if she’s caught again, the shit will really hit the fan), plus has to go (at a $250 fee) to alcohol abuse class.  All this for .02 above the legal limit (which is .08).  Like I said, a Public Service Announcement.  Be careful out there.

–  THE AMERICAN WAY:  All in favor of a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing free access to the internet from anywhere on the continent?  Yeah, me too.  While some airports, like the one at home, do give free internet access (often accompanied by the prerequisite flurry of advertisements you have to wade through before actually beginning to surf the interwebz), MSP does not.  As a matter of fact, most bigger airports do not.  Yes, you can get access, but usually at an exorbitant fee.  If I traveled more, I’d consider buying a subscription to one of the pan-U.S. services which are found in most airports (e.g., Boingo).  But, for now, I’ll just be patient and wait until I can liberate borrow steal find a free signal.

Holidays Sans Family

December 25, 2009

Well, another “Baby’s First” for me… here I am, having just turned <i>mumblety-three</i>, and this is the FIRST Christmas morning ever where I have been totally alone. Last year, Daughter Person showed up around 10am and spent the rest of the day with me.  This year?  Alone.

yeah, but without the annoying kid or the crooks in the window

I say this, not to elicit sympathy or support, but merely as statement of fact.  I’m okay with this.  It’s all part of the transition process.  Christmases can never be the same as they were, really.

Drawing on the example of the delightfully delicious Daisyfae, I have been taking the morning alone to reminisce a bit.

Christmas as a kid, I grew up near the family farmhouse.  Then, there were very few family members who were not living within a 50 mile distance.  The holidays were a mass of humanity, from babies to ancients.  Not being sexist, but the ‘farm family’ mentality was that the womenfolk did the cooking and the menfolk did the farm work.  And could those women cook!  Yes, the standard ‘meat and ‘taters’, but the desserts and side dishes were to die for.  Grandma and Grandpa had one of those nifty farm tables that started six foot by three feet, but had enough insert leaves to require killing at least one tree and would extend to some 24 feet long at least.  And still that was not enough to hold the entire family.  It was barely enough to hold all the over-21 adults.  The rest of us were relegated to the next room where the older teenagers got to sit at the deputy, adjacent, assistant dining room table and the younger kids (which I qualified for) seated at one of three or so card tables set up nearby.  It was delightful and comforting and…home.

Then, the ‘globalization’ of America hit.  People started moving all over the country to go to jobs they wanted.  We lost that family feel at holiday times.  It was still a good time, but not quite as all-encompassing as it once was.

I, too, followed jobs across the country and, starting my own family, had quite a few holidays at my own home with very few people.  It was still wonderful, especially when the Boy and Girl Childs were younger and still mesmerized by the magic of Christmas.  Yet, I still missed the old extended family holidays.  Even when going to where I grew up or where the ex- grew up to be with the remnants of the families, it wasn’t the same.

Maybe that was all part of the training for me to face this day.  I probably could’ve finagled an invite to one of my cousins’ places.  But there’s still that thing about not being the same as the extended family dinners way back when.

And I’m doing okay with it.  A few twinges, of course, but I’m not despairing or melancholy.

Besides, I won’t be alone all day long.  I have been invited by Dear Friend to go hang at her house later today and will definitely take her up on that.  Not because I’m feeling lonely at Christmas, but because it will be just a good time with people I enjoy hanging out with.

You make ‘family’ wherever you can.  And I am content with how today will unfold.

May this post find your holidays fulfilling and happy for you.

Chocolate Hound

December 12, 2009

You’ve heard of bloodhounds that can track a human down based on just a hint of a scent from a glove or shoe or some such?  Well I think I’ve found the human equivalent, only she can track down chocolate.

My exercise and diet buddy is just such a person.  She loves chocolate.

Now, I like chocolate.  There are some kinds of chocolate that can’t survive an hour, let alone a day, in my house – – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers to name two.  But there are some that kinds that I can take or leave – – Kit Kats, Almond Joys, Malted Milk Balls, for example.

For Halloween, I bought one of those big variety packs, just in case some kids came by trick-or-treating.  They didn’t, so I was left with a couple big bags of chocolate candy bars.  The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?  Inhaled.  History.  Applied to my waistline.

The rest?  Well, being the good host, I put them out in a bowl to entice those visiting my place.  Any time my friend comes over, she wanders her way…okay, she makes a beeline…for the candy bowl where she indulges in a few mini-bars.  And she looks at me in wonder and asks how I can keep chocolate out without eating any.  Then shakes her head in amazement when I explain that some chocolate just doesn’t jazz me up.

But, she is my diet buddy.  We’re supposed to be watching out for each other.  Supposed to help each other from overindulging in calorie-laden foods.  I was letting her down, good host or no, by having the chocolates out.

So I told her the next time she came by, I would put the chocolates away.  That day was today.  She was coming over to pick me up to head to the gym to get some exercise.  So, before she came, I hid the chocolates (now enclosed in a covered glass snowman for the holiday season) in a desk in the same room.

hidden a bit better than this, of course

She came in the front door and immediately headed over to where the chocolate bowl usually sat.

“Hey, where the hell is the chocolate?”

“I told you I was going to hide it next time you visited.”

Now, I wish I had a stop watch for what happened next.  Here we are in a room with a set of shelves and four pieces of furniture with multiple drawers.  After a quick glance at the shelves to see if I uncleverly hid it in plain sight, she turned a searching eye to the rest of the room – – –

…and walked directly over to the desk and opened it to find the chocolates.  It couldn’t have been but 10 seconds from her fussing at me out for hiding them to her finding this covered, well hidden container of delectable treats.

I was quite impressed.

My friend?  Said it was nothing.  She was trained by her children hiding things on her.

A sixth sense for finding chocolate?

I’m thinking that can be marketable.

Masquerage 2009

October 18, 2009

Yay!  It’s that time of year again.  Masquerage was last night!

Last year I had a couple posts (here, here, and here) on a very fun evening of costume wearing and cross dressing, all for a good benefit — AIDS research.  Masquerage  raises lots of funds for this research, which still impacts way too many people.  And they raise money while still having a great time.

Last year, some of our primary crew of party goers were unavailable (flimsy excuses like vacationing on another continent or taking care of sick kids or other trivial reasons like that).  This year, bolstered by a few new friends, we had a great party of 7 folks going to the benefit.

This year’s theme for the party was “1930’s Circus”.

We spent the last couple of months coming up with costume ideas.  My best friend and I decided that it would be very cool to go as the Lion Tamer (me) and the Untameable Lioness (she).  Others went as the Ringmaster, the Trapeze Artiste, and the Fortune Teller.  Random costumes filled out the remainder (actually, the only requirement for attending is that you have some sort of mask on – – either a real mask or a painted one;  these could be as detailed or simple as you wished).

The event was in a different venue this year, but was just as sassy and exciting as last year.  Highly empowered by a pre-party at my friend’s house where, besides drinking heavily*, we did our final costuming and mask painting.

"Keep Your Eyes Closed!"

"Keep Your Eyes Closed!"

Popping glow sticks on the ride over, we found clever places to put them (my friend, for example, stuffing a few down her cleavage to glow through her top).

And once again, the event was a wonder of myriad costumes and people.  Not all stuck with the “1930’s Circus” theme (one glaring example being the two gentlemen who dressed up as Transformers), but there were costumes galore for viewing pleasure.  Some more pleasurable than others, revealing a bit more than what you’d expect from the average Halloween costume.

It was a tremendous party.  The drag queen troupe was there and they arranged for several side shows for the stage (the knife thrower…the contortionist…dancers between acts…etc.).

Gives me frisky ideas

Gives me frisky ideas

Ouch...Eye Candy Hurts

Ouch...Eye Candy Hurts

I enjoyed playing the role of Lion Tamer, making free use of a riding crop I brought along (don’t ask) and having fun dragging her from place to place on a leash (yeah, I know that’s not really the way they did it in the Circus…but it had a kinky air to it that sort of thrilled me).  Found it amusing that, despite the fact she’s a grown woman and not really a lioness, I felt I couldn’t leave (to get more drinks or hit the little lion tamer’s room) without handing off the leash to one of the other party folks…almost like I had to make sure she was under control at all times.

here kitty, kitty, kitty...

here kitty, kitty, kitty...

The mustache came off quickly…could NOT drink with that sucker on and I was not willing to give that much to the art.

Food and drink fueled an evening of dancing and just plain fun.

Highlights of the evening included my Lioness borrowing my riding crop to whip a clown, the dancers who entertained between acts, and being stopped numerous times to get our picture taken.  That latter included folks from the local paper who posted us on their website.

Heading back, happily, well after midnight, it was clear that the evening was a hit with all of us, designated driver included.

I’m already jazzed for next year’s event.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

*Worry not as we got another of our theater friends to be the designated driver.

Sushi Laser Skating

December 23, 2008

Well, the subject line is really three parts of an evening, but it sounds fun so I left it like that.

Spent a delightfully delicious evening with Dear Friend this Saturday.  A chance to get out and spend time not thinking about unpacking boxes (yes, still and slowly), work idiots (unless there’s a humorous story to be told…which there were), or other ugly stuff like divorce.  Just some relaxing (and, at times, exhilarating) moments together.

On Dear Friend’s recommendation and my hearty endorsement, we went to a downtown restaurant that serves Thai food… and one of our favorites – – raw bait sushi!   A bottle of whine wine, a yummy appetizer, and then a decision on what to eat. 

Liking variety…and quantity…in our sushi, and enjoying sharing with each other, we settled on the Sushi Armada!  If you’ve not been to a sushi bar, one of the key elements of preparing sushi is the presentation.  Sometimes, with especially good sushi chefs, it gets downright artistic.  One serving option, when there are multiple people wanting to share, is the sushi boat.  Knowing our limits, we did stick with the sushi boat for 2, although the boat for 4 and 8 looked pretty damned tempting.

the sushi armada arrives

the sushi armada arrives

Knowing our limits, we did stick with the sushi boat for 2, although the boat for 4 and 8 looked pretty damned tempting.

Afterwards, we went to a local outdoor park to ice skate.  Small-ish as ice skating rinks go, but for an outside venue, it was pretty nice.

honest - there were people there that night

honest - there were people there that night

 

 

No, I’m not an ice skater.  The last time I was on skates was some 20-plus years ago.  Dear Friend was similarly skilled, but had only been on hiatus from skating for a mere 15 or so years.  But, neither of us want to watch the world go by just sitting on a couch.  We need to participate in life, even if there’s a chance it will be painful (you did know that ice is awfully damn hard if you fall on it, yes?).  But, even with the firm dedication to skate, fears grew as to our abilities to stay upright on the ice and not break anything… well, anything crucial.

While we were lacing up our rented skates, the management cleared the rink so they could Zamboni it (can that be used as a verb?) and have a laser light show.  The lights went down and the time honored, dulcet tones of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas tunes echoed out over the speaker system, accompanied by a display of multi-colored laser pageantry.  The music?  A bit overdone.  The lasers?  Not too creatively matched to the music.  But the combination of the two, along with a shared moment with Dear Friend, made it wonderful.  Even better was that, just as we got there, it started to snow lightly.  What was really cool about that (pun not intended, but go wild with it if you want) – and I wished I had my camera – was the effect the snowflakes had as they drifted through the laser beams.  The flakes would sparkle and flare as the lights reflected off each crystalline arm.  A fireworks show in microcosm. 

We didn’t want it to end…

…mostly because that would mean we’d have to ‘put up or shut up’ and actually ice skate. 

Looking a bit like geriatric hip replacement patients, we shuffled along to the entry to the rink.  Stepping out onto the ice, we immediately grabbed the railing next to us, knocking small children and the aged aside in our desire to stay upright while perched on a thin piece of metal on both feet.  Once, twice, thrice around the thankfully small rink, all the while hanging on for dear life.  Then, part way through the third go ‘round, we dared to let go of the railing and skated on our own… small children, snails, and sloths passing us by.  Surviving a turn like that, we both heartily agreed it was time for a hot chocolate break!

By this time, the snow was turning to sleet making the walk over to the concession stand seem more dangerous than the ice rink itself.  But we made it and had a wonderfully tasty and hot cup of cocoa (and, no, I won’t mention the fact that Dear Friend totally forgot to bring the flask of Bailey’s she’d promised to bring along… nope, won’t mention how much smoother that hot chocolate would have tasted… how much more it would have warmed our bellies in the cold sleet… nope, just won’t mention that at all!  I’m too nice a guy….).

Back out to the ice again and another 8 or so spins around the rink, our confidence and abilities bolstered by staying vertical.  A quick break to sit in front of a fire pit the park had going, then back out for a third time on the ice. 

We could tell it was time to quit as both of us had near spills, primarily from leg muscles (still sore today) giving up their heroic efforts to keep us upright.  Well, that coupled with the sight of blood on the ice… looked like a hockey game had been held there. 

Back to Dear Friend’s home, where we made our own cocoa…yes, with the Bailey’s this time…and commiseration on a wonderful evening and a promise to keep participating together in what life has to offer…. Snow skiing may be next.

All in all, a wondrously fun evening.

…and, amazingly, neither of us fell on the ice that evening… 

First Scuba

November 28, 2008

Had my second scuba class.  And my first actual dive with actual (not pretend!) scuba gear. 

The classroom homework?  Nailed it… sort of… [blush].  In true GnuKid fashion, I hit my “procrastination mode” and put off doing the homework until the afternoon just before class.  A mistake, to be sure.  With a few interruptions for phone calls and my ever popular past time of “Just Wandering About”, I found myself scurrying to finish before I had to pack up my gear and leave for the class. 

But done I was.  Yes…*

After reviewing the homework questions in class (where our instructor had the wonderful habit of answering future questions as he explained the current one…), we headed out to the pool to use scuba gear for the first time.

Seeing as how my life will depend on this stuff, I paid rapt attention to the long list of stuff to do to get the equipment ready and oper… ooo, look, a penny!  Now what was he saying?

Was tickled to see Dear Friend stop by to watch the lesson.  But, given we’ll be dive buddies, with me partly responsible for her safety, I’m sure she was there to make sure I paid atten… hey, look at the size of that hairball in the water!

Finally in the water, I had to learn the necessary hand signals for communicating under water.**  Then we went through some of the basic survival techniques—like clearing your goggles, finding a lost breathing regulator***, and ordering a mai tai from underwater.

I had three basic scuba equipment problems

First, my goggles kept fogging up.  Yep, I did use some de-fog stuff.  Something about being lots of water about while diving that makes this one problematic.  The instructor said to just keep applying the de-fog and it’ll resolve itself.

Second, the mouthpiece (and we’re not even going to, yet, discuss the fact that I was using a communal mouthpiece) didn’t fit well and was cutting into my gums a bit.  This one can be fixed by finding and buying one of several alternatives out there.

And the third and biggie… the damn weight belt kept slipping and pulling my bathing suit down with it!  I’d yank the belt up higher and tighten it only to have it slip down further and take my suit even lower!  Shared that with the instructor, who said to be patient and I’d figure out the best fit to counter that.  Then I looked into the seats next to the pool to see Dear Friend giggling herself silly at my predicament.  Well, hell, she’s the one who’ll have to look at the result, so I’m not too worried.****

At the end of the lesson, having survived the multiple attempts by the instructor to find a way to leave me sputtering water out of my lungs at pool side, they let us…just…scuba…

Now, there’s not really a thing to look at in a pool, but I could already feel the joy and peacefulness of scuba diving.  And think in anticipation of actually diving somewhere where there IS something to look at…

reef2559

I’ve said it before and will say it more…

This is going to be fun!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

*when did I start writing like Yoda talks?

**after the lesson, Dear Friend was commiserating with the instructor and trying to figure out what the international hand signal was for ‘nagging’, as she’d likely be using that quite a bit with me when I stop keeping trac… wow, did you see the size of that paint chip that fell in the pool?

***and did I bother to ask just how a breathing regulator would get lost in the first place?  [sigh]

****remember what I said last post —  Paybacks, Dear Friend, paybacks…