There’s a big huge tent on our front lawn; it’s surrounded in mesh and fabric, and it lights up at night. There’s a pile of Andy Nelson’s Barbecue in our fridge for the rehearsal dinner. I have seven hours of dance music on the iPod for our enjoyment, from gypsy swing to Motown dance classics. We’ve hidden a trashbag full of cicada carcasses as far from the house as it will get, and hosed off the back porch three times in the last three days. (They keep coming back.) The cooler on the back porch is filled with cold beer. Jen’s bridal gown is hanging in her room with the door closed, and I have a crisp tuxedo waiting in mine (with some of the funkiest rubber/patent-leather shoes I’ve ever worn.)
The stage has been set, and when the rehearsal party has been fed, responsibility for everything will pass quietly out of our hands and into that of a higher power. Pray to whomever you like that there’s no driving thunderstorms like the one we had this morning; no sudden infestation of cicadas into the—knock, knock—otherwise clean tent out front (and give thanks that the tent guy convinced us that the backyard was a bad idea); no last-minute disaster that we’ve lain awake at night and not forseen.
Most importantly, pray that I don’t step on my beautiful bride’s neatly pedicured toes with my big rubber patent-leather paddle feet during our first dance (which as been changed to Louis Armstrong’s A Kiss To Build A Dream On).
A year ago this evening, I took the most beautiful woman in the world to dinner on a warm spring night in Georgia. We had wonderful food, sipping cocktails together, and the rest of the world faded from view. Walking home through the historic district, we passed through misty, tree-lined squares, holding hands and laughing quietly to ourselves. Crossing through Madison Square, I took advantage of the magical night and asked her to marry me. Luckily, she said yes.
Insta-Storm-Tracker-Central. Last night the NBC weather dork claimed it would be 88° and sunny; this morning the one good digital camera, but the other one is pretty lousy and therefore not worth taking with us. Jen has a very nice Nikon SLR, I have my trusty Minolta X-700, and we sat on the couch last night wondering if we should go buy a pile of T-Max and take one of the SLR’s with us. The complicating factor is the arrival of a freelance check in our mailbox today, which means I could spend some time hunting down and buying her a good midlevel digital camera… time I don’t have at this point. (In a perfect world, we’d get something like this and start investing in lenses, but…)
Update: We’re taking Jen’s SLR with us and investigating the option of ditching our return flight in Paris to stay an extra day or three. Stay tuned.
Update Update: flying coach one-way from Paris to Baltimore, with all the connecting flights included, is prohibitively expensive ($1,200+/ea) and nullifies out any extra cash we have—and that’s not including any kind of lodging. Anybody have any ideas out there?
As you might have guessed about the weekend before our wedding, we ran around like idiots trying to get as much done as possible. Saturday was a blur of Lockard women, paint, lobster bisque, and cigar smoke. While the hedges were being weeded and trimmed out front, I was able to get 3/4 of the living room and half of the dining room painted—20 years of cigarettes and general dust gave way to bright white. At 7 my best man Rob stopped over to pick me up for an evening out with the boys. We had a fantastic dinner at Louisiana in Fell’s Point, then stopped across the street for drinks and cigars, courtesy of Brizzi, and then capped it off with more drinks on Rob’s roof deck.
Sunday morning I woke with a pounding hangover—the problem with excellent vodka is that you don’t know just how much you’ve had until you’re flagged and falling off the barstool. We had 11am reservations for brunch at Little Havana with a bunch of people, so I scraped the carpet off my tongue and poured my carcass into the car. I’ll have you know that I was OK until the first bloody mary hit my stomach, and then I realized that hair of the dog was a Very Bad Thing. It was the fried plantains that flipped the switch, but after quietly vacating my stomach I felt much better. The rest of the day was punctuated by frequent glasses of cool water.
Wedding Tunes. I posted a new page with the expanded and updated wedding tune playlist; again, I’ve set it up with comments so you can suggest a song.
Tortoise Update: The ATF fluid is helping, but it looks like I’m going to need to disregard the “DO NOT ADD BEYOND THIS LINE” warning and add some more. She shifted and stopped fine, but the final 1/2 mile of lights and turns brought out some unwelcome lurching.
My car, as you’ve been reading here, has been sick for quite a while now. Over the last four years, it’s been through several bouts of fever, four separate tires, two alignments, countless oil changes, and one “Mass Air Sensor”. Reliable for the first few years, it’s been getting wonky lately, where any attempt to take a curve at speeds higher than 20mph knocks out the transmission, and I spend the next five minutes in the slow lane, racing the engine, unable to get into second gear. Coming to a complete stop requires a steady, gentle foot on the brake, as sudden jolts send the whole car into lurching epileptic fits while the linkage throws itself into and out of neutral (which really turns heads at the bus stop, let me tell you.) Truth be told, I’ve sort of been expecting the car to disintegrate in the parking lot like the Bluesmobile for the last couple of months.
Now, most of you car-driving folks out there are thinking something along the lines of check the tranmission fluid, you bonehead.
Right. Well, you see, I’ve never really had an automatic transmission until ths car—my first car was a standard (the blue 280z my dad bought for $75, which sounds a lot cooler than it actually was); the second (a 1973 VW camper bus, sadly a victim of an accident where both my legs and those of the girl I was with were almost removed by the front bumper of the other car); the car previous to this was a CRX, and before that a Mazda pickup—both standards.
(A brief aside: Sometime I’ll post a list, to the best of my recollection, of all the various cars I drove before I got out of High School. My dad owned a reposession agency, and through the magic of other people’s bad credit, the Dugan family went through a mind-boggling succession of vehicles. Renie and I once sat and came up with a list that got into the twenties.)
I guess what I’m trying to convince you about here is that I’m not lazy or stupid, but that it didn’t occur to me to check the stupid ATF level until this afternoon. Hunting around the engine compartment, I found the dipstick, tucked back between the engine and firewall, and realized it was almost bone dry. I haven’t been on the road yet to see what difference 3/4 qt. of fluid will have, but I’ll let you know.
Our neighbor’s house was broken into this afternoon, while Jen had run out to do errands; apparently some undesirable folks were casing the neighborhood and figured that the house with the unkempt yard would be an easy mark. So I’m doing research on home security companies this evening, in preparation to spend yet more money that we don’t have. All my house-owning, alarm-having peeps, let’s hear it. Who do you like, who don’t you like, and what’s your experience been?
Song Of The Day. Mogwai, Hunted By A Freak.
Listening to the Senate testimony on NPR this morning, I was chuckling to myself when one of the generals tried to explain the difference between the Gitmo bay detainees and the Iraqi detainees, and how the Geneva Convention applies to one group and not the other. (Habeas what?)
Desirability. Stopping for a burger in Ellicott City last night, we came upon a near-cherry Austin-Healey 3000 sitting in the parking lot, looking like it was doing 100mph sitting still. And me, without my camera.
Mobility. Given the state of my current automobile, here’s a checklist of the things I’d like to have on my next vehicle, which will be showing up shortly after our return from Italy, with any luck.
- An engine that doesn’t overheat at the drop of a hat (forcing the use of the defroster on high, in Augustminus the Scout, the last three of my vehicles have shared this tiresome trait; it’s getting old)
- A transmission that doesn’t slip out of gear during turns at speeds higher than 30mph (going back to a standard would be just fine with me)
- 4 doors (gotta make room for our future KISS army)
- Some kind of cargo capacity beyond a cupholder
- Seats that don’t promote scoliosis in adult humans
- A windshield that doesn’t make my future bride sick to look through
Also desirable, but not mandatory:
- mileage above 25 highway
- 4-wheel drive
- A working radio/CD player
- A pickup bed of more than 6-foot length, but I’ll take the 6
What I really want is a stripped down 6-cylinder fullsize pickup with a crewcab for under $15K, but that’ll never happen, considering Detroit’s need to throw a DVD player, Hemi, and leather heated asswarmers in every truck larger than a Matchbox. What I’ll settle for is a used Tacoma crewcab with 60K miles and a 4-cylinder engine. Finding that truck locally will be the big problem.
Big shout-outs again to Dave, who helped Jen and I clean out the garage, driveway and basement of all the junk we’ve accumulated in the last three months, and haul it away in Clifford. She and I then planted a bunch of pretty flowers in the side bed by the driveway, which makes that side of the house look much better.
I haven’t run the Scout in about four months, because I’ve not had the time or the heart to look at her sitting idle in the driveway. Needing to get the area cleared out, I shot a few squirts of starter fluid into the carb and she fired right upchoppy at first, and loud, but smoothing out after a minute. She shifted into first gear easily, and I pulled her out onto the street to a parking spot. As I came to a stop, I felt how familiar the leather of the steering wheel felt in my hands. I wanted to keep going…to peel the top off, get her out onto the open road, open it up to 60 and enjoy the sunshine with Jen.
God, I miss my truck.