Library Date Night

The Drunken BotanistThe library near us stays open late on Tuesday nights, so every three weeks Tyson and I hurry through workouts, dinner, and chores to have a library date night (LDN). We cruise through the stacks, piling up way more books and movies than we could possibly read in the allotted time, chat with the librarians, and zip off to a coffee shop or lounge, giddy like two kids on Christmas morning. Books! Books! Books!

“I am simply a ‘book drunkard.’ Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” — L.M. Montgomery

Last night as we piled up our stacks of books to show each other what we got, our waitress asked, “Book club?” “Library Date Night,” we replied. Her eyes widened. We explained the whole thing and she gasped wistfully, “Oh, man. Can I date you guys? That is so great! I only get to read on winter and summer break (from nursing school) cuz I’m reading textbooks all the time.” We chatted a bit about her college and career plans, and told her we hoped she’d find someone to go to libraries with as soon as she had time to read. She handed us our Manhattans and twinkled, “Enjoy your Library Date!”

We scooched our chairs (by the fireplace, primo spot!) closer together and settled into the usual LDN stuff. We sipped our drinks, read quotes to each other, eavesdropped and people watched – there was a very successful first date happening in the corner table, and several conference attendees were pleased with their sales quotas or whathaveyou, so a good night all around. We, of course, had the best night, cause, books.

Tyson is slowly making his way through the branch’s offerings on The Renaissance with a few fun, unplanned odds and ends in between. Two of note were Mark Kurlansky’s Ready for a Brand New Beat, which traces the connection of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas 1964 hit “Dancing in the Street” and the civil rights movement, and Rage to Live, a biography of explorers Richard and Isabel Burton. He shared so many fun anecdotes/quotes from them that I read the Kurlansky book (interesting!) and I’ll probably check the biography out myself. (Isabella sounds like a remarkable woman.)

My choices are more eclectic. Just this week I brought home:

A Thousand Hills to Heaven – Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda by Josh Ruxin, director of Health Builders, a development program in Rwanda. A fast, hopeful read about development work in a nation making great progress after stunning tragedy.

The Drunken Botanist – The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart. Saw this one on an end cap, and picked it up spontaneously, because of the fantastic cover. (photo above) The back cover tells me it is a “fascinating concoction of biology, chemistry, history, etymology, and mixology.” Gardening and fermentation and cocktail recipes, why not?

Given – Poems by Wendell Berry. Tons of smart people and writers that I enjoy gush over Wendell Berry, and I’ve not read any. I tried, once, right after Tyson and I got together, but I was extra emotional in those days, and these poems kept making me cry, so I put it aside. I’m super tough and badass now, so I’m going to try these poems again.

Flannery O’Connor – Collected Works, edited by Sally Fitzgerald. Same thing. I somehow escaped as an English Major without reading a single sentence by Flannery O’Connor. How is this possible? All the smart people and writers quote her, and I am out of the loop. This book could have been my only selection, but these are going to be heavy and intense, so I needed the other stuff to lighten things up. Between her and Berry, I will need some irreverence. Which is why I also grabbed…

Holy Sh*t – A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr. Yep. Perfect.

We are nerds, so this is like heaven for us. Not everyone is into books, but libraries have all kinds of stuff: movies, comics, audio books, music CDs, so even if poetry and swearwords aren’t your bag, you might enjoy a library date night too. Sactown peeps, here are the hours for local branches.

Swing Dancing

Dawn and I danced at Midtown Stomp on Valentine’s Day this year. It was a blast! I am a terrible dancer!

First we attended an hour-long introductory swing-dancing class. By the end of the class, I could at least perform the basic steps – enough to get through a song without a disaster. (Dawn came into this knowing swing dancing basics, but the class still gave her a good refresher.)

The instructors impressed me – sound pedagogy, good energy – they did a great job of keeping a wide range of students engaged with the material. (I hope someday to teach martial arts, so I enjoy seeing how different people teach physical disciplines.)

Apparently, this happens every Friday night – it wasn’t just a Valentine’s thing. Every Friday – intro class from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM, dancing from 9:00 PM to midnight. And it costs just $8 per person.

If you get tired or thirsty, Bike Dog Brewing Co. is in the same building – I haven’t sampled their beer yet, but I’ve heard it’s good.

So, we will be going back for more. Let us know if you’re interested – we’ll get a big pile of friends together and do this thing.

Wedding Music

For our wedding there were five different playlists.

1. Music in the ceremony
2. Music while the wedding party (including bride and groom) was introduced at the reception
3. Background music playing while everyone ate and hung out
4. Our first dance and family dance
5. Everybody dances! Wooo!

Playlists and a few notes on them below the jump. Continue reading

Who wants to rock the party?

Tyson and Dawn at Mom and Dad's 50 70 Party

So. A few weekends ago we had a big party for my in-laws 50th(!) anniversary. They got married on my father-in-law’s birthday, so it was a double party. And woah nelly, what a shindig!

They got married when they were young and had no money, so their wedding wasn’t a fancy affair. Certainly nothing that would make it to a cable reality show. No billowing white dress, no themed party favors, no elegant catered reception – just a simple ring and heartfelt vows and a new adventure together. They’ve honored those vows through thick and thin in good times and bad, in sickness and health, learning and growing and making mistakes and forgiving them, for 50 years and have come out the other side best friends and still googly-eyed in love with each other. A beautiful example of marriage! If you’ve had the pleasure to meet Gay and Maynard, you know what I mean. They are fantastic.

Their kids wanted to honor them with a bit of what they missed the first time around. A beautiful reception in a banquet hall with all the trimmings – candles and twinkle lights and sparkling glassware… a photo area for portraits with all their guests… a non-catered, but elegant and gorgeous buffet… a cake toast and a regular toast… a slideshow set to music… a stay at a fancy suite at a BnB

We’ve been talking about this for the better part of a year, and really started cranking on plans in August. A thousand emails, task lists, phone calls, shopping trips, and “doily days” (what I called the days of crafting and designing centerpieces, etc. etc.) later – we were ready! The kids, spouses, and grandkids arrived at 9 am to set up. By three o’clock the rather uninspiring church multipurpose facility had been transformed into a beautiful banquet hall, and my in-laws spent the next few hours alternating between gasping, laughing, and crying. (NOTE: click photos to view larger.)

Tim

Tim welcomed everyone and blessed the food.

Look.

Buffet

This is some kinda Baptist potluck!

After we got a bite, their pastor and each of their children gave beautiful toasts and tributes.

Pat

Pat describing their beautiful marriage.

Slideshow

The granddaughters’ slideshow was a big hit.

Will

Will gave mom a box of kleenex before the presentation, which she swore she wouldn’t need. (She did.)

Clap at Slideshow

But she did clap and laugh and smile a lot too. And Maynard gave a Big Smile.

Tyson Toast

Gay interrupting Tyson’s toast to tell everyone how great she and Maynard look in their cheerleading outfits.

Kristi Birthday Cake

Gay interrupting Kristi’s birthday tribute to her father to tell everyone how among Maynard’s many talents he can also “play Amazing Grace on his tongue.”

Maynard and Tyson Demonstration

Maynard and Tyson demonstrating.

Pam Anniversary Cake

Gay behaving herself (mostly) during Pam’s anniversary tribute.

A personal favorite moment for me was when they did the cake toast. This was my first attempt at baking a paleo layer cake from scratch. Similar to the picaken for tyson’s birthday, this was all new everything – new kind of cake, new techniques, new levels of fanciness – I mean, this thing had to be fancy enough to evoke “wedding cake”. I did NOT want my contribution to the party to end up on Cake Wrecks!

When planning my tasks, I’d left two days for dealing with cakes, but of course that ended up being a day and a half when all was said and done. I was stressed and running out of time and had several cake and frosting disasters. One cake fell so hard it turned itself into a pancake. Lord Almighty! And “paleo” buttercream. Um. No. At least, I couldn’t make it work.

Fortunately for me, I have the Internet – which showed me a delicious stabilized whipped cream frosting (also a first time thing for me – gah! Why do I keep doing this to myself?) AND I have Tyson! Who a) can stay level-headed in a crisis, and be very kind and calming to his freaked out wife, and b) grew up with a cake decorating mother and somehow retained all sorts of cake-related tips and tricks. He knew all about where to buy cake rounds and how to prep and stack and frost and transport. It was amazing. Seriously, without him I’d have ended up crumpled in a corner of my kitchen floor, covered in coconut flour, and weeping. As it was, I was still laughing (and freaking out) at 1:30 am as I frosted my last cake.

Cakes

1:30 am at the Pink House.

And they were delicious. Ha! (My mother-in-law thought they would be totally gross and weird, but was being a good sport about it all, since I’d worked so hard. The look on her face when she took that first bite and discovered that it was good? Hilarious. #awesome!)

And my sister-in-law took humble white cakes and turned them into works of art.

Cakes Reception

Holy smokes! Aren’t they gorgeous?

All in all, it was a beautiful day celebrating the amazing lives and marriage of Gay and Maynard Wright. I am so thankful for them.

Funny Face

Ha! Love them!

See? Fantastic!

Dad and Mom

Seriously, though. They are fantastic. Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary!

(Good Photo by the lovely and talented Jenny Arnez.)

Halloween 2012

The holiday season is upon us! The Crime Fighting Team kicked things into gear with a few Halloween celebrations.

Tyson and I aren’t big on the whole overly scary/sexy costume thing. We feel that adults have sort of hi-jacked a kid’s holiday, and turned it into something increasingly mature. Not cool, man. So, we keep things pretty kid-friendly, emphasizing silly and creative and home-made.

I made cut out black paper bats and we hung them on our house. They folded up a bit because of the weather changes, but still swooped and swirled and looked like bats.

Full Moon Halloween

I love that it was a full moon!

And we had a pumpkin carving night with a few friends. We set up the fire pit and some tables in the front yard, popped some popcorn, and found a goofy Halloween station on Pandora and went to it.

Friends carving

Ewww! Pumpkin guts are gross!

Dawn and Friends Carving

Yep. Still gross.

Tyson Carving

Tyson carved a cheerful vampire

After carving, we ate and chatted and danced to dorky songs. Sweet and simple.

Every year, our friends the Murphys have a big costume party. And folks go all out. I wish I had photos of THEIR costumes over the years – the year they dressed up as Trinity and Neo from The Matrix may be my favorite, although they also look great as Buddy and Jovi Elf.

The first year of us dating, Tyson and I went as Lord Elgin and the Karyatid he stole/rescued from the Acropolis.

The Karyatid and Lord Elgin

People kept thinking Tyson was Paul Revere

Dawn and Tyson

Isn’t he dreamy? Also, I had major jet lag at this party.

And seriously, the man can rock a powdered wig.

Tyson in Wig

A little too much headbanging

No. Seriously. I have video somewhere of him and Dan growling/screaming out “Du Hast” in the wee smas after a few brews.

The first year we were married, we missed the party, so we wore our pirate garb the next year instead.

Dawn Captain Sassypants

Captain Sassypants and her “really big hat”

Tyson First Mate

Tyson just looks like a pirate, doesn’t he?

Those are real swords. And at home Tyson even tucked in a Pepperbox Pistol into his belt for effect, but took it out for the party.

This year, we were finding it hard to come up with something. We were busy planning a few big events and didn’t have much time or money to go nuts on Halloween. Pretty much we just had stuff around the house. (Thankfully for us, that stuff includes afro wigs.) Ty came up with a great idea and I brought it to life. Uno!

Tyson is Draw Four

The Draw Four – the most badass of all Uno Cards.

Dawn is Blue Reverse

The Blue Reverse – not quite as badass, but I have a bow in my hair.

We had a blast in our outfits and won best costume for the first time. Woohoo!

Uno!

Happy Halloween from the CFT!

We donned our outfits on Halloween night to attend a block party and then hand out candy. Adults sometimes struggled to identify us, but kids knew right away and would yell out UNO! when they saw us.

The cutest trick-or-treater of the night, a little 3 year old Supergirl, just couldn’t get over our afros. “Those are your hairs?? Those are your hairs???” When I told her they were wigs, she laughed and grinned like that was the funniest thing ever, and told her sister, “They wearing wiiiiiigs!!!”

She got extra candy.

All in all, a fun beginning to the holiday season. There’s lots to do and lots to celebrate. And we are thankful. I read this quote the other day, and I hope this idea permeates the holiday season at The Pink House:

It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season–like all the other seasons–is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them. ~ Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal.

Stabbing! Blenders! Chicken!

Lo! There was once a time when it was late, and my beloved wife and I were hungry. Therefore I betook myself to the kitchen, where I brought forth many things. Great things! (I was pretty pleased, at least.)

To begin, I put an orange (peeled), a pear (cored), 1/4 of a peeled white onion, some red wine, and some powdered oregano in the blender. (It was whole oregano, but that simply will not do, so I mortared it and I pestled it, and there it was. Powdered.) Then, in a sudden plot twist, I turned the blender on! All the way on! Woooo!

And all was thoroughly mooshed.

I then dumped the aforementioned blender contents into a pan on the stove, and brought it to a boil. Whilst waiting for the boiling to come forth, I took a couple of boneless chicken breasts and used to fork to inflict multiple puncture wounds. So much stabbing!

Then, stabbing completing as boiling commenced, I put the chicken in the moosh, turned it down to a simmer, and let it rip.

I crafted two sides to accompany the stabbed chicked into oblivion:

1) 1/4 peeled white onion, chopped (but kinda big pieces), covering the bottom of a casserole dish. On top of that I put two zucchinis that I had disked. Then I splashed olive oil, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper on it. Into the oven with you!

2) Peeled a yam, chopped it small, boiled it with olive oil, powdered oregano (see above), salt, and pepper. When the yams were soft, I drained the water out and whisked it into mashed yams.

Wait! I also made a salad.  Mixed greens, green onions, green apple (Granny Smith), olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper.

When I served this up, I put some of the sauce from the chicken on the mashed yams.  It was all quite tasty.

And there was much rejoicing.

Whiskey Awesome

So, you say to yourself, “Self, let’s make whiskey sours! Woooo!”

Then you discover that you haven’t any simple syrup. You don’t even have regular sugar to make your own! Plus, no lemons.

Well, you are a hearty soul, resourceful, vigorous, creative, thirsty. You also have limes and your mom gave you a bag of brown sugar about a year ago and you still aren’t sure why.

You dump some water in a pot, boil it, dump some brown sugar in, turn it down and let it rip until it seems right.  (About equal parts water and brown sugar, heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.)

Take a lime, cut just the tip off of one end, and then squeeze that sucker into your cocktail shaker. Lots of lime juice. Yay.

Now, inject four of jiggers of Bushmills Irish Whiskey into that shaker. (Use the big side of the jigger, sheesh, I can’t believe I’d have to explain that to you.)Now we’re cooking with plastique.

Put two jiggers of the brownsugarsimplesyrup you made into the shaker. We’re getting close! Hang in there, baby!

Now, put ice into the shaker. While you’re at it, put some ice into a couple of Manhattan glasses and fill them with water. Get them glasses cold! (Yes, I suppose you could call them “Martini” glasses, good for you, but we’re talking whiskey right now, so just take your Martini and go sit quietly in the corner like a good boy? Thank you.)

Shake that shaker like it’s never been shook before! It may help to yell “Woooo!” once or twice whilst you’re at it. (I forgot to mention, but this whole thing works better if you put the lid on the shaker before the shaking commences.)

Once the outside of the shaker is frosty cold, remove the ice water from the glasses – dump or even drink it if you’re feeling crazy! Then, pour the precious elixir from the shaker into the glasses, then garnish them with a small slice of lime.

Toast the person your sharing this with! Congratulations! You made two Whiskey Awesomes! Who needs those Whiskey Sours, anyway?

We love Engrish!

So, no one really knows that our blog exists, so no one we actually know has submitted comments yet, but we have a whole bunch of spam comments. This one is our favorite so far:

There be required to be a way with a view my kids to training at people’s home what they learn in class. Then it bash me – songs!! Take a melody usual round and ball-shaped in their heads and they’ll not in a million years lose communicate with a song for each of my English games, using [link redacted] merely the vocabulary used in class! This is the inception it! How are you?

I’m going to start using that: “Then it bash me!” :)

Hanging Out (dawn)

Our first non-church hang out was on a Sunday night in early August. I had worked all weekend on a deadline for work. Around 4pm my Facebook chat list showed Tyson had logged on. BING!

Me: Hi!
Him: Hi! How are you?
Me: Fine. Been working on a deadline all weekend. What are you up to?
Him: Swung swords at people all morning and then helped one of my friends from the class move into his new place. Have you left the house at all this weekend?
Me: No.
Him: Well. You have two options. I have to get something to eat. I can either go get something and drop it off for you, if you need to keep working. Or, if you can take a break, you can come with me.

I opted to take a break and go with him. (Freaking out! Food! You know. The code.) While I waited for him to come get me. I texted my friend, Elle.

Me: Hey. Just in case, I figured I should tell someone that I’m going to grab dinner from one of the guys from my small group.
Her: That’s great! I can check on you later to see if he turned out to be the roof top killer.
Me: Ha!

I found out later that when she got my text, she squealed. Her husband came running to see what was wrong.

Her: Dawn’s going out to dinner!!!!
Him: With a MAN??!!!???
Her: Yes. Just as friends, though.
Him: Still. A man.
*Grins all around.*

Anyway. Tyson picked me up and took me to a good Italian restaurant in the neighborhood.

Me1: Woah. Italian. Fancy Italian. Watchit.
Me2: I know! I know! Gah! Freaking out! Freaking out!
Me1: Chill out. Be cool. Do not get all wonky. You guys are just friends. Be cool.
Me2: Right. Be cool. Ok.

Somehow I managed to fit in some pasta amidst the butterflies while we chatted about the various outdoorsy stuff we liked to do. I was happy to find out that he didn’t just read and write and play guitar, he also liked to go on adventures.

After we ate, he dropped me off, so I could continue with my work.

Me2: Gah! Gah! Freaking out! Gah!
Me1: Will you just calm down. Its all good. We just had a meal. Friends do that. We’re good.
Me2: Gah! Gah! Freaking out! Gah!
Me1: Oh jeeze. Relax.
Me2: Gah! Ga–
*smack*
Me2: Yes. Yes. I’m good. Thanks. Totally cool, man. (Gah!)