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Friday, June 29, 2012

Another sappy post

Sorry, this is going to be another one about Drew- I guess I'm channeling my inner Nicholas Sparks or something.

Drew and I started dating in late November, 2009. So, we had only been dating a few months when we had our first Valentine's Day together. Without consulting one another, we both wrote a poem. As you can see by the picture, great minds think alike because the way we cut and folded the poems was pretty much identical. However, Drew also drew me a picture... a picture of Zelda looking characters making out, and if that doesn't scream love I don't know what does.... lol.

Here is the poem I wrote for Drew for our first Valentine's Day, and I still feel this way every day.

It is hard to believe there can be anything so humbling
so fascinatingly boundless as the North Shore
when looking upon it,
with you
for in the crisp hour before ski close
we are drifting back and forth, your breath my breath
and in that moment my ability to deny you defenseless.
And I’m surprised because every day I see you and
in your flannel jacket Ray Bans long hair
you look better and happier than anyone I’ve met    - yet
and the way you move seamlessly with the mountain
breathe as it breathes
in perfect symmetry with the contours of its body
and the way you look at me
and your bicycle 
and your record player
or maybe it’s just you
and now I wake up laughing
and now we’re playing Scrabble
so when you put on a headlamp to read beside me
I kissed your crocodile tattoo

Disclaimer: I wanted to get Drew's approval before posting this because I thought he might be embarrassed... but guess what, he wasn't embarrassed at all, not even a little bit. Add this to the number of reasons I love him! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Taking a "timeout" from wedding world

Well, things in wedding world haven't been going exactly according to plan. My poor Andrew tried to help me out by stuffing, stamping & sealing our invites while I was out of town on a work assignment last week.

He expected a hero's welcome when he handed me the invites, but... there were a few problems. The conversation went something like this:

"Hi Honey! Welcome home, aren't you happy I stuffed all the envelopes!"

"Oh my gosh. Drew! You used the "Mr. & Mrs. Imes" stickers! Didn't you think that was a little weird!?"

"Oh, there were two different address labels, I didn't even notice."  (There wer invitation address labels and weddings I'd order for our thank you notes after the wedding.)

(Pause for a dramatic  mini-manic-meltdown.)

Then, I noticed that several of the invitations were upside down, meaning the stamp and address were on the wrong part of the envelope.

Then, I realized that we didn't number the rsvps, and because there isn't a specific line designating the guest's name, we have no idea who is or isn't coming to our wedding, we simply have a number.

So... we are trying to guess who is who based on the post office they sent it through and the song they listed after the question "what song would get you out on the dance floor." We have gotten some pretty great responses to that question, everything from requests for polka and a 2 step to Black Eyed Peas, Sweet Caroline and my personal favorite, "anything that will get the ladies to dance with aging eye candy like myself!" haha.

Anyway, I decided to pry the glue gun out of my hand, tear myself away from going through the rsvps over and over again, and put aside the eight million diy projects left to complete to tell you about the man I can't wait to marry.

I started working at the Department of Revenue on August 3rd, 2009. Shortly thereafter, I saw Drew one afternoon and he really caught my eye. I didn't tell anyone about the cute boy I'd seen because I was afraid I'd jinx it. A few weeks passed and I saw Drew again, I was so excited I just had to tell my coworker Joann about him. That very day as we headed to lunch, who do you suppose we bumped into in the hall. I blushed as we passed and we exchanged a friendly hello. "He wasn't saying hello to me!" Joann exclaimed with a knowing smile.

Eventually, another coworker, Abby, realized that Drew road his bike to work down Jackson Street. I happened to walk to work down Robert Street, which is only one block west of Jackson. Not only was this guy cute with a shaggy/hippie haircut, he also rode a bike to work, and not just any bike, but a very cool old-school yellow bicycle. This bicycle to be more specific:

So... I decided to give fate a nudge by walking to work on Jackson instead of Robert, after all it wasn't really out of the way...

It took a few months, but finally we did bump into one another. The scene was very romantic.

Drew was picking up Bosco's doggie doo-doo. I awkwardly waved and we briefly said hello and confirmed that yes, we both worked at revenue and yes, we both lived downtown. Then I did one of my famous, awkward and ill-timed Amanda Thoe goodbyes and practically ran down the street. The very next day Drew looked me up at work and asked me on a date.

So see ladies? Stalking does work! (Just kidding. Like I said, I prefer "nudging fate" to stalking.)

I can honestly say I really did know almost right away. For our first date, we walked Bosco around the block. Bosco was nearly a deal breaker, but luckily I got to know the little bugger and soon I learned to love him despite his tooting, grunting, snorting and other oddities. When I made it to his loft, I could see he had a great sense of style, a record player and a very clean apartment.

I could go on and on about all the reasons Drew is the man for me, but I suppose I've bored you enough for one blog. Suffice it to say he's the yin to my yang. He's an optimist where I'm a pessimist. He's an idealist where I'm  a realist. He's patient where I'm anxious.

So... I only need to make it through 37 more crazy, panic stricken days until I can begin my journey with Andrew.

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Bridentity Crisis (or should I say crises)

This post is dedicated to all the ways wedding anxiety has made me act irrationally.... trust me, this happens often enough in my daily life, but trying to plan a wedding in six months (and leaving for one of the six months) has made me act a little crazier than usual from time to time.

Exhibit A. Yesterday, I was so excited to receive the invitations we ordered that I saw a huge box in the mailbox area, saw the "490 Temperance St" address, and assumed it was my invitations. It didn't occur to me that my invitations probably won't arrive in a 2'x3' box; more importantly, it didn't occur to me that EVERYONE in my building has the same address "490 Temperance St". I carried the box all the way to my condo, excitedly ripped it open, and to my bewilderment, found a juicer instead of my invitations.

Drew and I deliberated for several minutes about where the juicer might have come from. Perhaps it was an early wedding gift? Perhaps it was a late shower gift? But who was it from?

We looked at the front of the box, and to Drew's horror, we had accidently grabbed our neighbors package!!!! I tried to say that these things happen, but Drew still doesn't think these things happen to other people.

Exhibit B. Last night, to ease my impatience about the arrival of the invitations, I went to Michael's. Brides should not be allowed to enter Michael's. You will black out and leave with $100 of merchandise. Michael's is basically crack for brides. Anyway, 52 handmade, hand stamped, thank you notes later, I was ready for bed. (I've now decided to make all my own thank you notes, programs and seating assignments etc... which means more work!)  If you want to see some examples of the thank you notes I made, I attached them at the bottom!

Exhibit C. My caterer charges $4 per plate for real china, silverware and cloth napkins... so I got the wild idea of picking up white plates from thrift stores. As Drew so poignantly observed, most brides would rather pay $4 per plate than visit every thrift store in the metro area week after week trying to find white plates for under a dollar. (Not to mention, I still haven't figured out what to do about napkins and table linens)...

Exhibit D. See this former post.

And the craziest thing I've done so far....

Exhibit E. I've been reluctant to post about this because it was just so, so crazy. About a month ago, I panicked about the dress. I actually put my dress for sale on craigslist. (By the way, do you know how many wedding dresses are put up on craigslist every day claiming to be "brand new"? A lot.) I left it up for about a week, the phase passed, and I love my dress again.

In short, if you are a bride, stay hydrated, take your vitamins, and make sure you surround yourself with good friends that can laugh with you when you start to go off the deep end (like I am right now... cue maniachal laughter and crazy eyes). Wedding stress is unavoidable, even if you elope, have a destination wedding, a very small wedding, etc... there will be anxiety, stress and $ involved. So, sit back, relax, and try to enjoy the ride.... because this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Love, Bridezilla

Saturday, June 9, 2012

just Palin' around with sarah

We left Homer and made it back to Eagle River. We postponed the white water river rafting because Drew pinched his sciatic nerve while reeling in his 13 halibut (the limit was 2 but he kept throwing them back hoping for the trophy... 13 may have been overdoing it). Yesterday he woke up and could barely crawl to the bathroom; luckily after taking it easy yesterday, it has loosened up and we were able to get in a really great hike today.

Today there were two bald eagles just hanging out on the McDonald's M in town. Eagles in AK are basically like tweety birds around here, every time I look up I expect to see an Eagle. Similarly, moose are everywhere.  Everywhere we go I feel as though we have stepped right out of a postcard. 

Today we first climbed up Mount Baldy- according to the internet this is supposed to be a "Moderate to easy" hike. I'm not sure who came up with that rating, but it was very steep, muddy and dangerous. However, once we reached the summit, we could see the trail kept going up to the next peak which is called the Black Tail Rocks. Despite our seriously inadequate preparation, we decided to forge ahead. Distances can be very deceiving while hiking, what seems like only a very short distance might actually be 2-3 miles. We made our way up the mountain and I felt like Heidi. It was very windy but we hiked about 7ish miles total and were out there for about 6 hours. We had a picnic at the top and celebrated with a mini bottle of pinot noir. You can see our picnic spot, which was a little wind break up at the top that looked like a little nest, in this video:! The little bowl we sat in and ate had several inches of spongy moss at the bottom so it was very cushy and comfy and we were out of the wind! 
My close pal Sarah. 

Last day in Homer

Eating a Reindeer Dog!

On top of Mount Baldy

Top of Mount Baldy take 2

On the way to the Black Tail Rocks

Way up on the black tail rocks, we were ridiculously unprepared, but we remembered a blanket and a mini bottle of pinot to celebrate once we reached the top! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Just for the HALIBUT

Well today concludes day three in Homer, and what a lovely three days it has been. Yesterday we took a water taxi across Kachemak Bay to a secluded lagoon. Our water taxi pulled up onto a huge bed of sea kelp and we were greeted with knee high rubber boots. We trekked our way up a very steep shore to a little cabin. After we all used the outhouse, we were skirted up and placed in our kayaks. We kayaked all day and had a great time. We ate lunch on a little island where we collected our own sea kelp, legumes and other greens from the island to make fish soup. By the time we finished lunch, the tide had made our little beach disappear and we were able to kayak right over the beach we ate on only minutes prior; the tide moves in so fast! By the time we got home the high tide had covered at least 70 ft of the uphill beach we originally trekked after being dropped off by the water taxi! We did not see as much wildlife as we had hoped, but we did see a little sea otter who put on quite a show for us. Eagles in Alaska are as plentiful as robins in MN- they are everywhere! Drew and I saw about 20 eagles eating fish carcasses where someone had cleaned fish on our way home.

I'm including a few pictures below. Today the boys (Drew and his bro Nate) went halibut fishing. Unfortunately, I stayed behind due to a cold I picked up in Africa. The deck hand said it was good luck to eat the head off the raw herring which is used as bait.... So Drew ate the head off the raw herring! Here is a video: check it out!

 I had a blast with my soon to be in-laws. We shopped 'til we dropped! Tomorrow is Drew's birthday and we are planning to celebrate by white water river rafting in the Kenai Peninsula.

On the water taxi crossing Kachemak bay, AK

Inukshuks on the Spit in Homer, AK

walking along the spit

This abandoned ship is all tricked out inside, someone is either living or vacationing here... how cool is that? 

Ship graveyard on the Spit- Mom doesn't it remind you of Maine? 

The brothers on The Irish before departing on their halibut fishing trip!

Drew's catch! 

When Pinterest leads people astray... the garden at our cottage.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Home in Homer

Well I finally made it to Alaska after a very long day in the airport. Terminal 2 was evacuated due to a suspicious item found in someone's checked bag. I sat in the airport from noon until 7:30 pm, when I finally took off for Anchorage. I read 435 pages of Shades of Grey in one day, a feat I'm not proud of. Do you know how embarrassing it is to read that book in public? But, I had time to kill...

We drove to Homer today and the drive from Anchorage to Homer is breathtaking. Because we are at sea level, the height of the mountains is very dramatic. We saw 11 moose today, including two sets of cows with two calves. The moose are everywhere, rambling through yards, strolling down the road and munching in the ditches. We also saw a romp of otters playing in the bay along The Spit. (The Spit is a peninsula that sticks out into the bay in Homer.) While watching the otters a bald eagle flew about 20 ft away, it was breathtaking.

Drew went to the trouble of writing out a packing list for me, he even brought things he knew I would leave behind like hats, gloves and warm socks. He laid out my outdoorsy raincoat for me, but opting for my more fashionable black trench raincoat I left the sensible raincoat at home. I didn't process the fact that we are going on an 8 hour kayaking trip tomorrow. As Drew put it, "I will be the only one out there kayaking in a peacoat."

We are going to fish for some halibut on Wednesday morning and hope to white water river raft in Hope, AK on Thursday. Please find some pictures attached! 

On the drive from Anchorage to Homer

This is where we saw a cow and her two calves

Saturday, June 2, 2012

More on South Africa

South Africa is fraught with problems; as I am not an expert, these reflections are simply the impressions I had during my stay in the region.

The term “township” refers to regions, typically underdeveloped, where non-whites reside. Townships can typically be found on the fringes of towns and cities; they are easy to spot as the corrugated tin casts a silvery glow in the hot African sun. The official unemployment rate of South Africa is 25-30%; however the unemployment rates in the townships are much higher, sometimes upwards of 70%. Similarly, AIDS is much more prevalent in the townships. South Africa has the highest proportion of residents afflicted with the disease than any other African country. According to trusty old Wikipedia, 31% of pregnant women were found to be HIV positive in 2004 and the infection rate among adults is estimated to be around 20%.

I should note here that the terms “township” and “black” are not pejorative in nature. 

South Africa is among the nations with the highest income inequality in the world; it is very odd. Driving from one side of Cape Town to the other you go from a first world metropolitan city, then through a shanty town that stretches for miles- where millions of sick, unemployed people live, sharing public outhouses and water pumps- and then back to the city again. The clearly drawn lines between wealth and poverty are so dramatic it simply leaves you speechless.

The economy is often described as a dual-economy to capture the juxtaposition of the first and third world within the same borders. Unfortunately, the system seems entirely unsustainable. Roughly 20% of the population is paying extremely high taxes to support the remaining 80% of the population.

Sections 26 and 27 of the new constitution place responsibilities upon the state to take reasonable legislative measures to provide housing and food to the people. Some townships have progressed into middle-class towns; development paid for by the government and an influx of white residents have built up Soweto and Chatsworth so that they have very nice areas, mostly “okay” areas and only a few “ugly” areas. Unfortunately, most townships remain shanty towns with public wells and public outhouses. The government development projects cannot keep up with the need for housing, which is exacerbated by an influx of immigrants from other African nations. 

One of the granaries we visited used a very interesting approach to remain profitable while playing an important role in the community. The company continues to use 1950s technology in order to maintain current employment levels. They had however, installed modern equipment to lift the 150 pound flour sacks because many of the employees are too sick to lift such weight. Another factory we visited us described the difficulties they face with employment turnover; in order to receive grant money, residents must be gainfully employed, so they simply work long enough to begin receiving the grant and then they quit and send their friend to the same factory to get a job, receive the grant then quit.

In the pictures below you can see public housing that was built for miners in the 60s. These buildings are now home to thousands of South Africans; unfortunately they are riddled with asbestos. The second picture shows the new development intended to replace these structures. You can see that litter is essentially everywhere within the township. The third picture shows a public water pump. I have more videos and pictures of townships I will add later as none of these pictures show the corrugated tin shanties which are the most common housing structure within a township. 

One South African made a statement that struck a chord with me, he said, “many countries had apartheid, we just made the mistake of calling it apartheid.” The segregation and racism continue to define unofficial borders and class distinction in South Africa. While this man was correct to a certain extent, South Africa now has to deal with issues that other nations have been mitigating and addressing for a century. One of the most harrowing obstacles the nation faces is the resentment that resides just below the surface on both sides. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Crafty shower

Okay, I'm going to fast forward through South Africa and get to my bridal shower- back to SA later. I got home late Saturday and attended my little sister's graduation on Sunday. Monday we had my "crafty shower" and I have to say, it was awesome. I suggest this idea to all brides! It is a really fun way to spend some girl time with your friends and family and to get stuff done for the big day! I'm including some pictures!

We put the wire and raffia on the jars, some of them will be hanging from trees and some will be used in centerpieces. Some will have flowers in them and others will have candles. Some have peacock feathers on them and some don't! I love it! We also made boutineers, party favors and hair things, awesome! 

Renae made the darling little apron for my soap, I love it! The hanging jar was the example jar! My aunts and cousins made the cute fruit shishkabobs-they used a heart cookie cutter to cut hearts out of watermelon and cantelope!