Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


She Sips Stella by the Sea


DSCF1391Last week I took a couple of days off to spend with The Tour Guide.  On his suggestion we got up Tuesday morning and struck out for Jacksonville Beach.  Also on his suggestion we took the girls.

They slept most of the two-hour drive there and when we arrived at around 11 a.m. just about all the shops and restaurants were closed.  It’s the off season, I guess, though it’s still fairly warm here.

Though I had read online that Jacksonville Beach is dog-friendly there were signs posted everywhere saying no dogs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  What to do?

We strolled down the sidewalk near the shops and restaurants and found one that was open.  Well, it wasn’t open yet, but the man who was sweeping the alfresco dining area invited us in – dogs, too.  I was pleasantly surprised at how accommodating they were.

With a thick accent I didn’t recognize he said we could sit anywhere we wanted in their outdoor dining area and then he disappeared. There was no one else there.  We were their only patrons.

A few minutes later he resurfaced carrying a metal bowl filled with ice water for the girls.  Moments later a server appeared and took our order.  We ordered what we wanted and then I asked for a hamburger to split between Dottie and Miss Sara.  “Sure, no problem,”  she said.  Our meal came out complete with two doggie boxes for them to eat out of.  Dottie and Miss Sara scarfed down their burger, which had been prepared sans bun, while we sipped on our pitcher of Stella and ate our Gyros.

When we asked our server about a place on the beach we could carry our dogs she said we should just ignore the signs.  “Nobody pays attention to that.  There are always dogs on the beach,” we were assured. With that advice we paid our bill, gave her a nice tip, left caution to the wind, and headed over the boardwalk to the sugar white sand.

It was the girls’ first trip to the beach and they didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. They were confused as to why they were chasing the water one minute and the next the water was chasing them.  Miss Sara recoiled from the chasing waves.  Dottie pawed at them for a bit. Then I took their leads and we ran out as the waves retreated into the ocean and ran back to the shore when the waves chased us back.


I think they had a pretty good time.  I know The Tour Guide and I did!

DSCF1374We could see the rain coming in from the ocean so we headed back to the car.  The deluge came just as we fastened our seatbelts.  Great timing!  And the cute cuddly dogs slept all the way home.


I’m Seeing Things

Yesterday was a strange day for me.  It really started Sunday, actually.  Lanky Brit usually works Friday, Saturday and Sunday in twelve hour shifts, so he gets up at 3:00 a.m.  I lay in the bed for a few more minutes and then I get up, too.  Because I’m awake.  I might be able to go back to sleep but, for some reason, I like to see him off when he leaves at 5:00 a.m.  Sometimes I go back to sleep after that but most of the time I don’t.  Well, Sunday was one of those days when I did.  I had thought that I wouldn’t.

I was going to get to work organizing my home office.  We bought this house last summer and around the same time we moved in the renter in a rental property we own moved out.  My sister volunteered to help me fix it up – the rental, that is – so I could sell.  Because I’m tired of renting it.  Because I’m not cut out to be anybody’s landlord.  I have trouble making people move out when they don’t pay.  I live too far away to manage it properly and it was my reward(award, whatever) in the divorce.  A cinder block house in a not-so-good-neighborhood.  But that’s a whole ‘nother story.  So my sister and the Brit did help me fix it up and it did sell, thankfully.

Anyway I haven’t had a chance, really, to work on the house we actually live in until recently. I call it my 1970’s Brady Bunch house.  I’m going with an eclectic mix of things. So I was going to get started on that home office. I did.  I worked for about half an hour and then I got sleepy.  So I laid on the couch and when I fell asleep House, M.D. was on.  When I woke up Dr. David Jeremiah was on.  He apparently had three points, a poem, and a prayer.  I woke up on point three.

The sermon had been about the new heaven and the new earth, y’know after Jesus comes back and scorches this one to smitherenes.  You can download the outline.  You can even listen to the sermon if you like.  For some reason I didn’t repulsively change the channel and instead listened.  The third point had three points.  In the new earth, God’s removing the sea.  We won’t need it anymore, apparently.  I was only half awake at that point.  He’s also going to remove the curse that he placed on the earth when Adam and Eve snacked on fruit from the wrong tree. Finally, this earth (the one we currently inhabit) will be restored.  To perfection.  Which should give Christians a new appreciation of the world we live in now.  For some reason Christians should be conservationists because the new earth is going to be the old earth, just restored.  To perfection.  So Christians ought to be taking care of it now because it’s the same one they’ll be living in then; without a sea.  And the Christians will be reigning on this new earth with Jesus under God.  He never did say what they’d be reining over.  Each other?  Will there be animals that need to be reigned over?  The vegetation?  *shrug* I did find this little gem that explains it.  I decided procrastination was overrated and went on with my task for the day.

Fast-forward to yesterday. The Brit was slated for some extra work so we were back up at 3:00 a.m.  Maybe it was the phase of the moon or lack of sleep or something, but I wasn’t in a particularly chipper mood.  I found myself in a debate in the comment section on another blog.  Why?  I’m not a debater.  I even told myself not to bite.  ‘Don’t get sucked into this’, I said. ‘Just ignore it’, I said.  But did I listen?  Noooo. Sigh…

I failed to eat lunch yesterday, then had to go the grocery store when I got off work. Not a good combo. It took me forever in the grocery store because it’s hard to be decisive when you’re ready to chew your friggin’ arm off. This explains why I thought I was hallucinating when I arrived home yesterday afternoon and saw a pig rooting around by my mailbox. I did a double-take. Surely it was a strange looking dog. No, it was a pig.

chesterI hauled my groceries inside and decided to go investigate this pig sighting.  What is a pig doing in a golf community?  When I went back out he was gone.  Yep, I thought, I was seeing things.  I walked to the corner and looked both ways and there he was, rooting around in the neighbor’s front yard.

There’s a house just down the street a couple of houses down that takes in a lot of foster animals and animal rescues.  I saw their foster child out shooting hoops in the front driveway.  As I approached him he started to walk away.  He saw me, but he appeared to be retreating.  ‘In fairness, he doesn’t know me’, I thought.   Suddenly he stopped, turned around and took a huge shot at the hoop.

“Excuse me,” I said.  “Yes, ma’am”, he replied timidly.  “I know this is going to sound a little weird but, do you have a pig?”  He gave me a strange, puzzled look and said, “Well, yeah. How’d you know that?”  “He’s over here in the neighbor’s front yard,” I said with a smile.  He loosened up a little then and said, “He’s real nice.  We rescued him.” He leaned down and gave the pig a scratch.  With that they both turned and trotted back home.

Sigh…I guess I need to find out what potbellied pigs eat and help them out with some food for him.  I don’t know how these folks afford all these strays they take in – kids and animals.  Lanky already helps with one of the cats they took in that only has three legs and a nub.  He calls him Stumpy and my little cat(Scamper) is his friend and his military defense system.



ImageI do prefer playing in the dirt to just about any girly kind of thing.  Spending two hours in a chair getting my hair did and paying upwards of a hundred dollars to do it seems like a total waste to me – of time and money.  I can find a lot of more fun and productive ways to spend those resources.  But I do like to get a pedicure.  I’m not worried about a manicure.  It never lasts very long, I can’t stand chipped nail polish, and I use my fingernails like tools.  But a pedicure; that’s a different story.  It’s not even about the toenail polish.  Keep it.  Just let me soak my tired old dogs in that hot water and give me that massage and wrap my legs in those moist, steamy, towels.  That’s what I’m paying for. It’s so relaxing.  I don’t let my stress out of my body.  I hold it all in so I’ll take a massage any day of the week.

I only do this every once in a while as a treat and I usually do this with a friend because we can engage in some girl talk while we drink our wine and get our tootsies all pampered up.  It’s a whole thing – the experience.  So a few weeks ago when my friend called me up and asked me to go I said, “What time?”  It had been a while since I’d indulged myself in this kind of luxury so I was all in.

We’d gotten our pedicures and sat in the drying chairs and because we hadn’t gotten together in quite a long time we got lost in conversation.  We talked about everything from the kids she’s fostering to our jobs to our husbands to our daydreams of giving up the ball and chain of the timeclock in favor of some ridiculous form of self-employment that allows us to simultaneously earn loads of money while laying on a beach sipping Mai Tais brought to us on silver platters.

My phone rang and as I looked down at the number I could feel the panic rising. My heart was pounding and I could feel the perspiration creeping up my back.  My mind raced.  Trying to maintain my composure and hide my panic from my friend, I answer the phone.  “Hey, whatcha doin’? Are you on your way home?”, came the voice of Lanky Brit on the other end.  “No, we got caught up talkin’.  I’ll be home in about thirty minutes, though.”  In his usually pleasant cheery voice he says, “No worries, just don’t forget about the cat food.  See ya soon.”

My friend and I wrap up our conversation and I head into the grocery store next door.  Still panicked I practically run through the grocery store to grab what I need. Scanning all the checkouts I pick the shortest line.  Yes!  It only has one person in it.  Price check!  I stand there as patiently impatient as possible, now sweating.  What kind of greeting will I get when I get home?  Will I get a greeting at all?  Am I going to get yelled at for being an hour later than I said I might be?  Will I get the silent treatment for three days? Will I say the wrong thing?  Will I look the wrong way?  Will this get ugly?

Finally the person in front of me is finished and I step up to the cashier.  She’s pleasant and friendly.  Too friendly for a bag of cat food.  I’m pleasant in return but in my head I’m thinking, “yeah, yeah, just ring up the damn food, I  don’t have time for conversation”.  I’m acting like a crazy person. If he’s pissed he’s already pissed and making myself crazy isn’t going to change that. Still, I rush to my car and speed away.

I head down the highway speeding home to try to minimize the lateness as if that will make any difference whatsoever.  I go over what I’m going to say when I get home. “I’m sorry I’m late, I know I told you I’d be home around seven.  We haven’t seen each other for a while so we had a lot of catching up to do.  We didn’t realize it was already seven-thirty when the phone rang.”  My mind is going ninety-to-nothing.

I arrive home, take a few deep breaths, try to calm myself, and hurry in the door.  He meets me at the door, wraps his arms around me, and says, “Hey, I missed you today.  Let me see your toes. Ooh, red.  Those look great.  Tea’s ready, let’s eat.  I’m glad you’re home.”

Tears fill my eyes, I am undone, and he has absolutely no idea why.

Sometimes it’s hard to leave the past where it belongs.  When I don’t he reminds me why my present is so much better.


Marrying an Englishman in an Alley


Ruth’s Tour Guide arrived in July with wedding plans already under way.  Well, plans such as they were.  It was a pretty simple wedding.  They’d both already done the church thing so weren’t really bent on having a big to-do.  They wanted something light and fun as well as meaningful.

Saying that plans were under way is an overstatement when, really, Ruth had only purchased a dress and had  basic idea of what they wanted.  An outdoor wedding, a charcoal grey suit for The Tour Guide, and what could be termed as a spiritual, but not religious, ceremony.  There were some overt references to holiness and the sacred nature of marriage without any particular references to a god.  The vows were traditional and Tessa read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.  Because Ruth still believes that love does not fail when two people love one another.

Jackson, Ruth’s brother, played his acoustic guitar and sang Marry Me as Ruth was escorted in by a dear friend who she now affectionately refers to as Dad. And on August 11 at 9:30 in the morning Ruth married her Englishman in the cute little courtyard of the alley downtown in Big Town, Bible Belt, USA.  The ceremony opened with Ruth’s sweet baby sister, MaryBeth, reading:

But let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:  For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

-Kahlil Gibran

It was a short, sweet ceremony packed with meaningful words and meaningful people. The breezy, sunny day couldn’t have been more perfect.

I said I’d be back later with details, I just didn’t say how much later it would be.  Ever since the ‘I do’s’ it’s been pretty much a whirl wind.  Not sure where the last three months have gone, but you know what they say when you’re having fun…


British Invasion

The Tour Guide is here!  He made it in to my local airport at around 9 p.m. Friday night.  Poor thing has been exhausted.  He slept a good portion of the day yesterday. He didn’t really get to sleep on the plane here so it made for kind of a long day.  But we are both so glad he’s finally here and, well, he’s kinda stuck with me now.  He’s got no return flight booked. 😉

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks now.  I’ve got a few ideas rolling around in this head of mine, but I’ve been so busy making preparations for my British Invasion I haven’t really had time to develop them much.  My friend keeps dragging me out to shop, saying I need new clothes for the honeymoon.  Have I mentioned I hate to shop?  Just in case I haven’t, I hate to shop.  But I did find the perfect wedding dress online and the perfect shoes in one of the places she drug me to.  Have I mentioned I’m cheap?  Well, I am.  No…I’m frugal.  I will splurge on something I really, really like.  But I’m hard pressed to pay top dollar for most of what I see in the stores and surely not for something just because it’s got a designer label on it.  So I’ve been sewing.  I’ve made a couple of skirts and am planning a dress or two.  I got skills!

In between all of that I picked up another bookkeeping client.  So I’ve been up to my eyeballs in pretty fabric, thread, bank statements and 941 reports.

And now my British Beau and I are just enjoying some quality time together.  I’ll get back to some regular schedule of posting sometime or other.  Maybe after the wedding(maybe sooner).  Which is going to be awesome.  And simple.  But mostly awesomely simple.


A Newbie in the Blogosphere

My brilliant fiance has decided to make his foray into the world of blogging. He’s started a neat little blog over at The World of LankyBrit.  If you haven’t already go check it out.  I think you’ll be entertained and amused.  He’s exploring all sorts of topics but will be documenting his move from the U.K. to the good ole U.S. of A.

*Oh and, yes, this is The Tour Guide.


Peaks and Valleys…

..and peaks again!

I had absolutely no idea how long six months to a year would feel. Or how hard a long distance engagement would be. The Tour Guide and I have had our ups and downs just like any other couple.  And I’m sure we’ve had some different ups and downs from couples who are together.

The whole visa process is long and arduous and took longer than I anticipated.  When we started the paperwork I thought he’d be here in six months or so. How wrong I was!  First I had to petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service for permission for The Tour Guide(USCIS) to apply for a K-1 Visa, also known as a Fiance Visa.  That’s the part that could have taken up to six months.  Little did I know when I thought we might have a Christmas or New Year’s wedding that was just the beginning of the process.   We got notification that our petition was approved in December.

Then My Tour Guide could apply for the actual visa but only after obtaining all the information that ever existed about him.  For obvious reasons the Department of Homeland Defence checks backgrounds pretty thoroughly. Logically I know that visa fraud happens – people fake their identities and such- but I have no idea how.  I mean, I’ve heard of it, but it would be so incredibly difficult to pull off.  So after obtaining certified copies of his birth certificate, his divorce decree, his police clearance certificate, his medical records including vaccinations and a USCIS approved physical he was eligible for an interview.

In March I did a whirlwind trip to England to attend the interview with my British beau, taking a nineteen hour flight on a Saturday and returning via the same route on the following Wednesday.  We had a two plus hour drive to London for the interview.  We were both sooo nervous because the U.S. government is pretty particular about who they let into the country to stay.  It was possible they could say no.  We built it up in our minds to somewhat of an interrogation.  Hell, I half pictured him in a chair, in a dark room, with a light in his face!

Thankfully it was much more friendly than that.  We arrived at the U.S. Embassy in London at eight a.m. for his nine a.m. appointment.  We didn’t wait very long before a British gentleman called him to a window to request all his documents.  Then we thought we’d wait for hours, but we didn’t.  We were probably there a total of two, maybe two and half, hours before he was called to the window.  After a very friendly exchange the interview lasted a grand sum total of ten whole minutes and we walked out of there approved!

In between all that time we’ve been getting to know each other better, having peaks and valleys and figuring out how to navigate a healthy relationship.  There was a time or two I didn’t know if we’d make it.  Everybody has baggage, right? But I think we’ve figured out how to make our baggage a full set of luggage on this crazy trip together.

The Tour Guide is flying here the first week of July.  So finally, after this long journey, we’ll be in the same hemisphere, in the same time-zone, and together for good! This messed up woman can’t wait to start her new life with her sweet, loving, sensitive, handsome, messed up man!