When Life Hands You Lemons…Get Married

I was saving this story to post on our anniversary in January, but since Beloved went and let the lemon cat out of the bag, and I don’t want to leave Tricia, Janie and Thistle hanging that long 😉 I’ll go ahead and tell it now.

<<< This is a wedding lemon.  It is appropriate.  This is the wedding lemon’s story.

Okay, if you want to start at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start according to Julie Andrews, you have to go back to October 2007, when, while we were sitting at a really nice restaurant on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Beloved looked at me and said, “So, why don’t we see what it takes to get married in Hawaii this Christmas?”

After my hysterical laughter died down, I saw he was dead serious.  So, we went about finding out what we needed to do to get married while in Hawaii over the Christmas holidays.  We’d both done this before – marriage, I mean – and didn’t want anything elaborate.  We just wanted to sign the papers, say “I do” and get on with the rest of the honeymoon.

Easier said than done.

Weddings are a HUGE racket in Hawaii.  While I can’t speak for the residents, people who come to Hawaii from the mainland to get married can NOT just go the Department of Health for a license, nor can they just make an appointment with a Justice of the Peace at City Hall.  You have to make an appointment with an independent “marriage license agent” located at various places around the island you intend to get married on for the license itself.  We got ours at the espresso bar of a small fish market/delicatessen for $65 (cash only).  They threw in a complimentary bumper sticker that said “I Got My Marriage License at the Pono Market.”

Just like this one.  In fact, that’s the bumper sticker.

And since you can’t just make an appointment with the Justice of the Peace at City Hall, you MUST go though one of the approximately 2,867,291 wedding planning services that do business on the island of Kauai alone.

“Wedding planning services” is apparently an ancient Hawaiian term for “ridiculous and unnecessary things that are outrageously expensive” and none of which include the serving of alcohol.  Something I simply don’t understand, because you’d have to get me pretty damn drunk to agree to pay $3,000 for an officiant, a couple of leis, a “decorative and commemorative” copy of the marriage license, 24 digital – not even printed! – photographs, a pair of traumatized doves they’ll release just in time to poop all over your wedding party, and some guy in a flowered skirt blowing a conch shell.

Call me old and cynical, because – gee – I am, and that all sounded suspiciously like a scam to me.  Oh, they’ll make the appointment for you to get the marriage license (although the $3,000 does not include the $65 – in cash – to get it), and they’ll help you plan the time and location of the ceremony and make those arrangements for you, but if you’ve got the appointment for the license and have already made the arrangements in regards to the time and place, it will still cost you $3,000.  And if you tell them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that you DO NOT WANT the damn leis, photographs, doves and conch blower they will so aggressively attempt to upsell you that you’ll end up yelling and calling them thieves while you accuse them of extortion.

Not that I’ve ever done anything like that, you understand.

After talking to well over two dozen blood sucking tourist traps wedding planning services – long distance, mind you – I was ready to cry in frustration when I came across one woman who, along with her husband, was licensed to perform marriages and ran a small service that focused on lower budget ceremonies.  She was completely amenable to allowing us to come to their home where we could sign the papers and she would pronounce us married in a mercifully brief civil service.  And she would file the paperwork with the state.  All for $200, which yes, is still stupidly expensive for what we were getting, but by then I was so thrilled to be quoted a figure that wasn’t in the thousands and didn’t include torch bearers, hula dancers and live monarch butterflies that I was practically sobbing in gratitude as I gave her my credit card number.

So, on January 2, 2008 we drove to her home, which was located fairly far inland on Kauai and was absolutely beautiful.  We sat on her lovely covered deck to sign the paper work and then went to stand under a huge, gorgeous Meyer lemon tree loaded with ripe fruit that smelled heavenly while she pronounced us married.

She even gave us a souvenir absolutely free of charge, which is why Beloved is holding a lemon behind his back in the picture of us kissing on our wedding day.

Thanksgiving Thursday – Cranberry Sauce

As I said in last the last Thanksgiving Thursday post, turkey, dressing/stuffing and cranberry sauce are the cornerstone of any Thanksgiving feast.  The side dishes often vary, but these three things are almost always on the table in one form or another.

Nor is anything as likely to divide your diners the way cranberry sauce can.  Some people just can’t stand it and those who love it are often at odds over what kind they love.  My mother, for instance, hated cranberry sauce with whole cranberries – I’m not sure why, but I suspect it was because she’d never had any that was homemade.  So my entire childhood we ate the smooth, jellied stuff that came out in the exact shape of the can.  I never really thought much about it – cranberry sauce was just something you slapped on your plate next to the turkey – and the cylinder o’ sauce continued to be a tradition once I was an adult and had children of my own.  In fact, it’s still the only kind of cranberry sauce Darling Daughter cares for.

Then I met Beloved and that all changed.  He prefers it with real cranberries, so I made it my mission to find a recipe that I liked as well, since I had inherited some of my mother’s prejudices against lumpy sauce.  I found a couple of likely candidates, decided which one we liked best, and have been perfecting it ever since.  The following is the latest incarnation; it lends itself really well to modification and is heaven on a turkey sandwich at 10:00 p.m. Thanksgiving night.

AND it’s super, super easy to make – what more could you ask for?

Triple Cranberry sauce

makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed

1/2 to 1 cup sugar, depending on how tart you like it

1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed, drained

1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins will do)

3 tablespoons orange marmalade

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons minced orange peel

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons minced candied ginger

Combine the cranberry juice concentrate and sugar in a heavy, medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Add the fresh and dried cranberries, reduce the heat to medium/medium high and cook until the dried berries begin to soften and the fresh berries begin to pop, stirring often, about 7 – 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the marmalade, orange juice, peel and allspice.  Let it cool until it is just lukewarm and stir in the candied ginger.  Cover and chill until cold, about 2 hours.  Can be made up to 3 days ahead.

Keep refrigerated.

Lookin’ for Love on All the Web Pages

First, for all of those who asked or commented, yes – SNOW.  As of this writing (Monday evening) we’ve already had flurries and can expect as much as 1 1/2 inches of slushy accumulation by Wednesday afternoon.  This is the earliest we’ve had snow since I’ve been in Ohio, although I’ve had someone show me pictures of a foot of snow on Halloween.  I’m all for backing up Thistle’s suggestion that we kidnap Twenty Four at Heart and plunk her down in the middle of some really cold-ass place (Podunk will do – she can even stay here if she can stand the insanity and the dog); it would do her a world of good.  The only person who might deserve it more is phhhst, lounging around on the beaches of Oahu, but I don’t think about that too much or I’ll start bawling because I want to be in Hawaii and we just won’t go there.

But I digress.  Yesterday, HeatherPride of Riding the Short Bus (the name of her blog just tickles me to no end) had a very funny post about her adventures in internet dating.  I, too, am a veteran of the world wide web singles scene and while I can’t top her story about Mr. Stalk-You-Very-Much, I do have an amusing tale or two of my own.  And I have to tell you, I’ve swapped anecdotes with other women who have also gone the online dating route and I can quite honestly say that my stories?

They’re tame.

Disclaimer: If you are my offspring, either biologically or of the step variety, read this post at your own risk.  There are things here I’m sure you’d just as soon not know about (that means you, Mr. The Young One).

In 1997, after my relationship with The Young One’s father limped to an end and we did the “let’s be friends” thing (which we have, quite successfully) I decided after nearly 16 years of long-term, exclusive relationships it was time for me to play the field a bit.  Unfortunately, it had been so long since I’d actually dated I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.  Hanging out in bars wasn’t going to cut it – I’d had my fill of that in the year before I married the first time – and there was the fact I had three kids at home and worked full-time.  I was pretty sure I could make time for dates on Friday or Saturday nights, I was just worried about how to meet people to date.

Oddly enough, it was The Young One’s father who came to the rescue.  Just as anxious to get on with his life and a bit more computer savvy (at least when it came to the opposite sex, but then again, he’s a man), he’d already dipped his toes into the waters of internet dating and found them to be just fine.  (In fact, he met his current wife online.)  So, I asked a few questions, which he answered, and before I knew it I was back on the meat market.

Now, you’ve got to understand this was over 10 years ago – Match.com was in it’s infancy (in fact, it was free in those days and yes, I had a profile – I even met a pretty nice guy through the site) and eHarmony hadn’t even been conceived.  Most people put ads on various online bulletin boards, and that’s how I started.  You also have to realize that Google was very, very new (and therefore not the powerhouse it is now), search engines were far more numerous (and far more inaccurate), and you couldn’t just do a search for something like “rules of internet dating” and find 4 million websites dealing with how to safely meet and date people online.  It was pretty much a “learn as you go” process and brother, did I go and learn.  Very quickly.

But all of that is for another post.  For now, I’ll just tell you about My Four Most Memorable Internet Dates.  Because honey, I’ll never EVER forget them.

#1 – Cyrano de Bergerac I think out of all my internet dates, this one was the most disappointing.  I exchanged emails with Cyrano for over two weeks before we decided to meet for dinner. I was so excited to meet him – our email exchanges had been marvelous.  He was intelligent.  He was eloquent.  He was sensitive.  He was charming.  He was very, very witty.

He was a goddamn fraud.

We met for dinner at a restaurant halfway between his place and my apartment; good neutral ground. Okay, so he never told me about his Popeye-esque forearms, but that didn’t bother me in the least – I’m sure I’d downplayed the size of my ass.  But we sat down to order and…he said nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  Bupkis.  I dealt every conversational gambit I had in my hand, and was met with monosyllables followed by eerie silence.  I’ve never sat through a meal that dragged on the way that one did.

And at the end, he paid the check, looked me dead in they eye and said, “So, do you want to go back to my place?”

Uh…no.  I went home.  I never emailed him again, and he never emailed me again.  I don’t know about him, but I wasn’t sorry in the least.

#2 – The Stock Broker He was a little pompous and self-important to begin with, but we really had a lot of common interests.  I enjoyed our correspondence.  And, I have to admit, after 16 years of what couldn’t quite be described as penury (but wasn’t far from it), I was not going to turn down a date with a real, live stock broker.  With whom I apparently had a lot in common.

We decided to meet at an “English pub” not too far from my workplace because I’d recently become enamored with Black Velvets – like a Black and Tan, only with hard pear cider instead of Harp’s lager – and because he wanted to see if their Shepherd’s Pie was “authentic.”  *sigh*  Yeah, I should have realized then, but I’m nothing if not optimistic.

We’d no sooner sat down and ordered dinner when he apparently decided we’d dispensed with enough pleasantries, thank you very much, and began to plan, in great detail, our next date – which included sex.  And more sex.  And nothing but sex.  When I asked him, “Don’t you think we should get to know each other a little better before we discuss that?” he looked me dead in the eye and replied, “We’ve already gotten all of that out of the way.”

I did NOT wait for my beef and Yorkshire pudding.  I don’t care how authentic it was.

#3 – Hair Club for Men This date is memorable for so many reasons.  Our email exchanges had gone pretty well – ten or twelve years older than me (or so I thought), he was suave, sophisticated and experienced.  While we didn’t share the immediate chemistry I’d felt with Cyrano, our correspondence was such that I believed we might be able to develop something more than just friendship, and his maturity intrigued me, especially since I was older than both The Ex and The Young One’s father.

I’m afraid I embarrassed myself a tad when we met for lunch, because although he was waiting for me at the hostess’ station of the restaurant, in plain view, I kept looking around.  You see, he was at least twenty years older and 50 pounds heavier than the picture he’d provided.  And he had something that resembled a dead wombat on his head – it took me a few minutes to realize it was a toupeé.  I must have recovered really well, though, because he was every bit as charming as I’d anticipated as we sat down to lunch and I really enjoyed myself.  I was quite willing to meet him for another date when he suggested it.

Until the check came, at which point he looked me dead in the eye and asked me if I minded going dutch, becasue his wife controlled their expenses and he didn’t want her to see anything suspicious.

Back to the drawing board.

#4 The Really Creepy Old Perv There’s just no other way to describe this guy.  Nothing he told me about himself was true – not his age, not his looks, not his marital status, not his movtive.  Nothing.  I went to the restaurant to meet him – mercifully at lunch, so I had my job as an excuse to flee the premises as quickly as possible – only to find a man in his early seventies rather than his mid-forties.  Nor was he interested in maintaining any sort of pretense once he had me at the table with him.  He was very straight-forward, I have to give him that.

It was the only thing he was getting.

Because he looked me dead in the eye and announced he and a very close friend (who was the same age) were interested in the occasional-yet-regular threesome with a young, attractive woman.  They were prepared to pay handsomely.  I was prepared to run like my life depended upon it.

And I did.

I don’t want you to get me wrong – I had a blast during the 18 months I dated via the internet and met a couple of really great guys.  Most people out there are just who they say they are – perfectly normal individuals with varied interests and lifestyles.  I really believe you can meet the person of your dreams that way.

I also know I’m not the only person out there with blind date horror stories.  What’s yours?

I Took the Weekend Off from Blogging

Since I write most of my posts the night before, this means I didn’t blog Friday night or Saturday night.  To be perfectly honest, if I weren’t into my second third glass of scotch and waiting for the oven to heat up so I can indulge in a hot apple turnover alá commode, I probably wouldn’t be blogging on a Sunday night.  But, Beloved is on his way out of town again, after a mere 26 hours at home and I don’t want him to be gone.  It was rather nice having him in bed Saturday night, if the truth be told.  I won’t embarrass anyone by going into details about what happened in said bed, since our kids do read my blog – Hi, y’all! – but let’s just say he was as happy to be there as I was to have him.

Melancholy.  I has it.

Blogging is a good way to deal with it.

Anyhoo, Beloved got home at 2:00 p.m. Saturday; that night we had reservations at Podunk’s “only 5 star restaurant” – they have REAL cloth napkins, don’t you know – and tickets to see Ron White at the Podunk Civic Center, which seats all of 4,000 if you put folding chairs on the floor.

Such a bustling metropolis.

Mr. White, for the most part, was quite funny…if you like middle-aged, foul-mouthed Texans with a penchant for Scotch and cigars.  (Oh, wait – that pretty much describes me.  Hmmmm.  Well, at least I no longer smoke.)  Seriously, though, some of his stuff – like a great many other comedians – relied far too much on juvenile sexual humor and a Lenny Bruce-like love of the “F Word”, but for the most part he was truly funny.  His bit about his first encounter with a bidet – with a heated seat, no less – made me laugh until I cried.

I wish we could say we were just as happy with our dinner, but alas, no.  The service sucked (we never saw a bread basket, the waiter didn’t ask us if we wanted anything to drink beyond our initial cocktail orders, didn’t even bother to refill our water glasses and I practcally had to beg for wine to go with our meal), the water and wine glasses were filthy, our appetizers were appallingly undercooked and it took forever for our entreés to arrive (they, surprisingly, were quite good).  Beloved, who never tips under 20%, left less than 10% and reduced the maitre’d to a quivering, blubbering mass of protoplasm when the man asked us how we enjoyed our meal as we left.

Now hush – if you’d paid $120 for a dinner that only included 2 small glasses of single malt scotch, one glass of wine and NO dessert, you’d bite off the head of anyone who asked you how your meal was, too.  It was especially disappointing because 1) we go out so seldom and 2) it was Beloved’s only night home in two weeks.

Oh, well, we had a good time at the show, although we both prefer a smaller venue for stand up comedy, and came home to persue, er, other entertainment.  Which included watching The Incredible Hulk – not bad despite the fact that Liv Tyler completely lived down up to my expectations.  Sunday morning we slept in until 9:00 a.m. (practically unheard of) and then watched Mel Brook’s The Producers with The Young One while I made brunch (eggs, bacon, butter fried potatoes and southwestern spoon bread; you know our arteries just love us, yes they do).  That’s what The Young One gets for asking me what my favorite comedy film is.  And I’m gratified to announce that he laughed all the way through it, including my favorite lines:

“You can’t shoot the actors!  They’re not animals – they’re human beings!”

“Oh yeah?  Have you ever eaten with one?”

Why that is my favorite line is a long story.  I’ll write about it one day.

After that, I fell asleep on the sofa while Beloved watched the Cowboys game.  The fact that I was unconscious for the duration is the only explanation for their 4 point victory.  In fact, I woke up once, briefly, only to have Beloved exclaim, “We’re winning!!  Go back to sleep!!”

So I did.  Gladly.  Do you realize how often I get to take a nap??  Yeah, well, you’d take advantage of it, too.

By 4:15 we were on our way to Cleveland so he could fly to Nebraska.  To make matters worse so much more exciting, we have a chance of snow through Wednesday.

Snow.

I’m so thrilled.

Not.