Boy + Girl + Army + e-Harmony = Captain and Mrs. Butters! This is what we're up to. Observations, opinions, events, images, and more.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

More of a "We" Than I Thought

This week, Spike has been attached to the computer in the evenings, working on a paper and a PowerPoint presentation for class. While he was thus occupied, on Monday and Tuesday evenings I busied myself with watering flowers, refilling the bird feeder, baking apple cider cookies, straightening up, cleaning the kitchen, and taking a lovely bubble bath. Last night, though, I decided to take a trip to Ross and shop. (I have to say that this was prompted by the shocking revelation that the area around Fort Riley contains no Ross, TJ Maxx, or Marshalls. Horror of horrors! At least there is a Target.)

So, after dinner I went outside and climbed into the truck. And as I pulled out of our neighborhood, I felt...weird. Then it hit me--during all of my visits to Oklahoma and for the duration of our fledgling marriage, I have never driven anywhere without Spike, with the exception of another shopping trip that was undertaken during an overnight field trip Spike's class went on.Which really isn't the same, since he wasn't here to leave behind in the first place.

When this realization hit me, my brain told me for a brief second that I should beware of becoming too much of a "we" with Spike. After all, I do not and never have wanted to be a Stepford wife whose identity is totally tied to her husband. Thankfully, the voice of reason chimed in soon afterward and quashed that first line of thought (which is probably a result of being exposed to piles of feminist theory in college literature classes).

The fact is, I am my own person...a very quirky, unique (some might even say eccentric) one, at that. Spike values me in large part because of of my individuality, and I can honestly say, to borrow a cliche, that he brings out the qualities of myself that I most like. He's also one of the few people I feel totally comfortable letting my guard down around. And so--while the hardened cynics might write my feelings off to the newlywed glow--I'm glad that I feel odd leaving my husband. I enjoyed my shopping trip, and I certainly won't shrink from going off to do my own thing in the future--but I like that I instinctively felt he should be included. We're Team Butters, after all. And especially given the nature of his job, I'm going to enjoy every single morsel of time with him that I can.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WWII Documents

Finally, Spike's class schedule and my work schedule combined yesterday to give us a window to get me all Army Official. We went to post and got me enrolled in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) and in TriCare (insurance) so I'm on the grid as an Army wife now. This process included the manufacturing of my military ID card, which---I swear--has more of Spike's info on it than mine. Also, I have to say that Natalia over at Army of Two was right--the thing really does look like a WWII document (you know, before color photographs were available).

I know this because yesterday, my dad sent me an electronic scan of my grandfather's discharge papers from the Navy, dated November 9th, 1945. Pretty interesting! In addition to bearing a marked resemblance to my brand-new ID, these papers told me that my grandfather was a Ship's Cook, Second Class, and was stationed in Hawaii for the duration of the war after enlisting in February 1942. Not a bad way to spend WWII, methinks. Also of interest: his discharge pay was $778.66, and he got $28.90 as a travel allowance. That wouldn't even buy a single tank of gas these days! How things change.

And speaking of travel allowances, our PCS (Permanent Change of Station, aka, moving) plans are firming up. We know when the movers will be coming to box things up, and this time next month, the Captain and I will be on our way to Fort Riley. I suspect the time will fly by at a frighteningly speedy rate.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wedding Recollections

If you've been following my blog, you know that instead of coming to see Spike for my monthly visit in August, I came to stay on a one-way ticket. Because of Spike's class schedule, we ended up having to wait a bit longer to get married than I initially anticipated, but the main thing is...we did it!

Our families and friends whom we'd seen in person knew that we would be getting married at the earliest opportunity, but otherwise we kept our upcoming nuptials to ourselves. We wanted our civil ceremony and our plans for it to be private (it was a semi-elopement, after all!), and we wanted to avoid as much controversy beforehand as possible. I won't lie--once we went public as Mr. and Mrs.Butters, we encountered pockets of disapproval, hurt, and anger because we'd chosen to do what we had. Our intentions were never exclusionary or malicious, though, and I believe that most upsets are already on their way to being mended--if not there already. More importantly, I'm happy to say that most of the inevitable surprise from our friends and acquaintance ranged from the generally positive to the unmistakably ecstatic.

Personally, I grow more and more sure each day that Spike and I did what was right for us. In a perfect world, I'd have liked our families to have been present at the ceremony (as would they!), but neither set of parents could make it to Oklahoma on a few hours' notice. Plus, the more military couples I meet, the more I realize that courthouse weddings are not all that unusual for people with this lifestyle. That brings me to the real point of this post: the ceremony. I want to write my recollections of the day--mostly so that I'll have a vivid record of them in the years to come--but hopefully you guys will find them enjoyable as well.

10 September, 2010
It's lunchtime, and I'm eating a piece of peach pie--not because I'm hungry, but because I know I should get something into my stomach. My appetite is nonexistent and I'm on pins and needles because this morning, Spike told me that his class might conclude around midday. Ergo, we might have time to do a Really Big Thing: get married. All morning, I've been working in my little home office, trying squeeze every last ounce of concentration out of myself. I've also informed Bosslady that I might need to sign out early...and since she knows and approves of the reason, she has given me her blessing. 

Halfway through my pie, I give into temptation and text Spike: Hey love, how's things looking?

Almost immediately, I get a response: im on way

Suddenly, this is real--no longer a daydream. It hits me: I'm getting married today! I do some quick calculations. Already, it's after 1:00, and I know that Spike and I will want to be at the courthouse as close to 3:00 as possible, 4:00 being the absolute latest time to have an impromptu marriage officiated. I realize that I really will need to get ready for my wedding in only an hour and half--the amount of advance notice I'd jokingly told Spike to give me several times before.

I send Bosslady the "I'm leaving early to get married!" email, and notice that I'm breathing very shallowly. I quickly text a friend whose wedding I've just directed, asking her if she felt nervous immediately before tying the knot. Her response is a very quick and very adamant affirmative. Good--it's not just me. 
As I make my way to the bathroom, intent on applying makeup and curling my hair, I get a text from another friend whose intuition borders on the psychic: Married yet? I tell her what's going on, and she informs me that nerves are a another version of excitement. She also tells me just what I need to hear: This is just one moment in your life. Pray a prayer of thanks for such an amazing blessing. The hardest part is over, finding "the one."
Soon thereafter, I begin breathing normally--and a good thing, too, as it's anyone's guess what my hair and makeup might have looked like had I been hyperventilating while getting ready! 
Spike arrives home just as I'm applying my foundation and starting to curl the bottom layer of my very thick hair. Within five minutes, he has changed from his ACUs to his dress blues, and is good to go. (Men really do have it easier on the fashion and beauty front.) I ask Spike if he's truly okay with getting married on such short notice. He assures me that he is, and then disappears to the living room to give me as much privacy as possible--the best we can do since the whole "groom shouldn't see the bride before the ceremony on their wedding day" thing is already shot. 

Finally, I've painted, curled, and tweaked myself into an acceptable state. Spike tells me in heartfelt tones how beautiful I look, and just like that, we're climbing into his truck. As we pull out of our little neighborhood, I text a photographer who said he could meet us on short notice that we're on our way to the courthouse. Then, barely a mile down the road, Spike and I reach for one another's hands over the center console. We're both nervous--we admit as much to each other--but underneath our jitters, we're both sure that we're doing a wonderful thing.

The ride to the courthouse goes by surprisingly quickly, and is punctuated by numerous murmured "I love you"s and "I'm excited"s. (I'm not particularly loquacious when I'm nervous, and neither, it seems, is Spike.) As promised, the photographer, to whom I'll forever be grateful, is waiting in the parking lot to meet us. He starts snapping shots as soon as I hop out of the truck and shake his hand, and continues as we cross the street and enter the proper office in the courthouse building, which is conveniently located right off the entryway. 

We find that we're not the only folks with marriage in mind on this particular Friday. There's a private--who we later find out has just graduated from basic training that afternoon--and his fiancee filling out paperwork ahead of us. For awhile, Spike and I focus on signing our names, checking facts, and providing the proper documentation. Pretty soon, with a "You two really are a beautiful couple!" from one of the clerks, we're sent on the heels of the first bride and groom-to-be to wait for Judge R on the fourth floor.

We end up having to wait for 45 minutes or so while Judge R finishes up some other business. Spike talks to the brand-new private for a few minutes, but then wisely decides to give the kid some space since he practically twitches every time Spike looks at him, and ends each utterance with a "Sir!"--even though Spike has told him to relax. Spike and I end up chatting with the photographer, who's a teacher here in town. He actually tells us some pretty interesting facts about Lawton and Oklahoma. For example, I learn that Oklahoma technically isn't landlocked--freighters can make it all the way to Tulsa. I'm not so nervous anymore.

That changes when the door to the courtroom opens, though, emitting a deputy and an orange-clad, shackled inmate. It's our turn to see the judge, and I feel a surge of adrenaline shoot through me. Spike and I sit in the jury box while Couple Number One gets hitched, halfway paying attention to their vows while I dig our ring boxes out of my purse. Then, in no time at all, it's our turn.
We go to stand in front of the judge and grab one another's hands. At this point, I'm simply focusing on successfully breathing in and out, hoping that when my turn comes I won't flub my lines. It's not looking good, though, because I'm not sure I can draw a breath large enough to enable me to make it through an entire sentence.

Then Spike starts talking, repeating after the judge. "Meg, I love you with my whole heart. I take you to be my wife..." ...and suddenly my nerves are gone. I actually understand what the cheesy romance line "and everything else fell away" feels like. Because at this moment, the only things I'm registering are Spike's face and voice, and the way his hands are squeezing mine. I may not have gotten to see his face when I appeared at the end of an aisle, but this is every bit as precious.

Now it's my turn. I repeat my vows after the judge, not missing a single word. I think, judging from Spike's face, that I must be looking at him the same way he looked at me. I take his ring off of my thumb, slide it onto his finger, and it's done. We're husband and wife, and I know I'm grinning like a fool.
The private, his new bride, and their small party--who are all still in the courtroom--applaud us while we kiss. A few more signature, the collection of our marriage license, and we're finished--ready to exit the Comanche County Courthouse as Mr. and Mrs. Butters. And so we do. Our photographer takes a few posed photos, and then it's just us. Our first evening together as Team Butters. The first of many. We smile at each other as we close the truck doors, and hold hands over the console once more. 

"Once we went to stand in front of the judge, I wasn't nervous anymore," Spike tells me. "I was so happy because I was getting to marry my best friend."

"I know," I respond. We smile at each other again. When we get home, Spike carries me across the threshold. Welcome home, Mrs. Butters, I think to myself.

Bring on the adventure.

Friday, September 24, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In: 24 September, 2010

If it tickles your fancy, join in and read other responses at Wife of a Sailor!

1. What characteristic about yourself has either been strengthened or weakened due to your experience as a Military Spouse? (from The Albrecht Squad)
Haven't been one very long (two weeks today, actually), so at this very early date I'll go with self-discipline. I've been transitioning into working from home (wherever home happens to be) since May. Over the summer I visited Spike once a month here in Oklahoma, still working full-time, and now I'm here permanently. I think I'm actually more productive as a telecommuter, but it does take a lot of mental discipline I didn't have to exercise while in an actual office. The buck really stops here when it comes to productivity and completing things satisfactorily and on time. 

2. What is your favorite vacation spot and why? (from ‘Tis the Life of the Army Wife)
London. I love the climate (weird, I know), the culture, the museums, the history, the architecture, the Tube, the West End shows...I'll stop now.

3. If you could have any fast-food restaurant in the food court on base/post what would you pick? (from The Only Pink in a House of Blue)
Wendy's. It's fairly cheap and, in my opinion, tastier than its counterparts. Plus, I love the chili. 

4. Where did you go on your honeymoon?  (from Pennies from Heaven)
Haven't had one yet! We stayed home the weekend after we got married (although we did go out for a fancy dinner). Might take a trip over the holidays, schedules permitting.
5. If you could have any job in the world regardless of money, degree or experience, which job would you have and why? (from Proud to Be a Navy Family and The Calm Before The Storm)
I'm torn between novelist and museum curator. The first is pretty self-explanatory, and my novels would deal in some way, shape, or form with history. With the latter, I'd want to be somewhere like the Museum of London, working in the medieval gallery. 

In other news, the Captain's class has gone to a college (Oklahoma State, I think) today to be mock-interviewed by journalism students. The idea, as I understand it, is for them not to spill any secret information, while still spinning their answers to either be vague or make the Army look good. 

I can't speak for the other officers in Spike's class, but I feel really sorry for whichever poor undergrad gets matched with Spike--because I'm pretty sure he'll be using his "work voice." You know, clipped, deep, and stern. Whenever I hear it, I always feel like I've done something wrong, irrational as that is. I can only imagine how effective "work voice" is in its indented context! 

Anyone else notice a big difference between your better half's "life voice" and "work voice"?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baked Goods from the Beyond

Some people claim that they can communicate with deceased humans, and even with deceased animals. Well, I've got something to maybe top that in terms of rarity.

Apparently, I'm the Cookie Whisperer.

Here's what I found on the kitchen counter this morning, beside an empty plate that had once held homemade cookies (the third batch in two weeks, actually):

And this was on the back:

Something spooky is going on here for sure. Of all the people in the world, I wonder why the deceased cookies chose me??

The Army is so straightlaced...

...that it provides its instructors with official, specially-made straight edges to use when writing on a whiteboard. This is probably old news to anyone who's been in military circles for longer than a metaphorical hot second (i.e., not me)...but I thought it was pretty funny.

Here is Spike's friend Professor Pete demonstrating proper use of the Army's straight edge. 

It has a little knob in the middle that he's using to hold it up, as well as magnets on the back that I'm not supposed to tell you about because if their presence were widely known it would take away from the instructor's perceived prowess.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thoughts on Biking

This morning, I woke up at dark-thirty to the sound of Spike's alarm clock telling him it was time for him to get up and go to PT. Blearily, I mumbled, "'sanoyyinlarmsound." Translation: "That's an annoying alarm sound." It is--this one's a very tinny "bee-bee-bee-beep! bee-bee-bee-beep!"

In response to my observation, Spike cheerfully replied, "Well, you only have to listen to it for 16 more years! Heh heh heh."

He's lucky I was half-asleep, otherwise I really would have zinged him with a withering comeback of some sort. As it was, I drowsily propped myself up on my elbows as he dressed, blinking owlishly to keep myself awake until he left the house. Then I promptly fell back asleep until a more decent hour rolled around. (Incidentally, Husband Dearest may find himself getting a new, more melodious alarm clock one of these Christmases if he's serious about keeping it until he retires from the Army.)

Actually, I should probably keep my mouth shut when it comes to getting up early. In a fit of optimism, delusion, or masochism, I told Spike recently that maybe once we PCS-ed--especially if we live on post near a fitness center--I might try to get up with him and go work out while he's at PT. In theory, it sounds like a good idea: I'd get the workout out of the way first thing, it would get my juices flowing for the day, and I could finish just in time to have breakfast with the Captain. On the other hand, IT WOULD STILL BE DARK OUTSIDE. On the other other hand, though, my workout regimen for the past couple of years has consisted of me walking to my car to go places.

That's started to change since I've been in Oklahoma with the Captain. We've been out to play tennis a few times (I succumbed to heat exhaustion/dehydration in the 107 degree temperatures the first time and spent the night alternately clutching my splitting head and bent over the porcelain god), and we've been riding our bikes around town in the evenings. So that's good.

This weekend, we stepped it up a bit and took the bikes out to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Preserve. I have to admit, riding through the scrubby little hills was a lot of fun, even though it did drive home the fact that I am Out. Of. Shape.

We probably rode three or four miles, all told, during which I drank a bucket of water and stopped to walk just once. In my defense, it was on a hill that seriously wouldn't end. I carried my phone around in my sports bra (hey, might as well take advantage) so that I could take some pictures.

"Where can we go" indeed? Lots of places, apparently. There's an eight-mile bike trail in the Wichitas that I want to work up to.
A bike's-eye view. That's Mount Scott in the background, aka where the Captain and I got engaged.
On our ride, I discovered that whizzing down hills is just as fun when you're an adult as it was when you were a kid. I also discovered roadkill in a whole new, up-close-and-personal way. A rattlesnake, a squirrel, a pink digital camera (in pieces), and a single flip flop stood out. I also noted several cowpats and buffalo-pats. Honestly, I kind of hoped we'd ride past some longhorn or bison, but they were in a different part of the reserve that day. Probably for the best. The last thing I need is to be mauled by a pissed-off buffalo.

Yay! I had fun!

The Captain had fun too. Luckily for me, I enjoy looking at him from behind, because this was my view.
...unless he was pedaling quickly, in which case this was my view.
 You know, I could really see biking being a habit that sticks. It's enjoyable, allows you to see nice scenery, and is kind to your joints. What's not to love?

Friday, September 17, 2010

25 Things in 25 Years

Today's my birthday. 25. A quarter of a century. It sounds simultaneously young and old. Whether I'm still a kid or technically an adult (or both), I'm grateful to have come this far with so many blessings. In honor of this "milestone" birthday, here are 25 things I've done/accomplished/am proud of so far:

1. Identified and developed a talent for drawing.
This is a portrait I drew for some friends' wedding.
2. Caught lots of snakes, toads, large bugs, crawdads, salamanders, etc. with my bare hands as a kid. In some ways I was a pretty fearless tomboy, and looking back, I'm happy about that. 
3. Graduated from high school second in my class.
I was really happy to get out of there! Some people remember high school fondly...I'm not one of them.
4. Was admitted to a wonderful university.

5. Found a wonderful group of friends my first week at said university.
Here we our our sophomore year. Funnily enough, on my birthday.

6. Found my academic passion--medieval studies.
Oh Beowulf, how I love you.

7. Did art historical research at a French cathedral for a month. I was a research assistant for my professor, and determined which of these stone heads were 13th century originals and which were later replacements.
We used a rolling scaffold. Elderly German tourists loved taking pictures of us.

8. Studied abroad in a foreign country. I was at Queen Mary, University of London, for three months.
In Trafalgar Square with two of my best friends.

9. Spent the night outside on the street in line for tickets. (A London performance of Guys and Dolls starring Ewan McGregor--it was worth it.)
Also in the cast were Douglas Hodge and Jane Krakowski.

10. Conceived of and coordinated a Medieval and Renaissance Studies conference for undergraduates and grad students--speakers came from multiple states.
It really was legit! There were t-shirts!

11. Studied three foreign languages: French, Latin, and Old English. (Yes, I know two of them are dead.) Alas, I'm not fluent in any...yet.

Graduated from college summa cum laude with honors in English, and minors in history and medieval studies. (Yes. NERD.)
At this moment I was probably wondering what I was going to do with all the free time staring me in the face.

13. Worked for my alma mater for nearly two years as an Admissions Counselor. Met lots of cool kids, read many applications that ranged from compelling to flabbergasting, and traveled around the country pitching Wake Forest University!
In Boston on Admissions business.

14. Found an incredible group of post-college friends in the "real world," too (this doesn't negate my college buds, though, just makes life even better).
With one of said friends. Yes, it was Halloween.

15. Breached national security. Seriously. I (inadvertently) flew to Boston from North Carolina without a ticket. That's a story for another time, though.

16. Became a homeowner--I bought a townhouse about a month before I turned 23. My brother's Christmas present to me that year was to paint it my dream colors. Living room and bedroom are pictured below.

17. Conquered my fear of public performance and sang with my church's worship team--alto. That's the closest I ever want to come to singing in a band!

18. Volunteered in the community with no intention of padding a resume. (I'm not trying to brag--I'm actually disgruntled with myself for not doing it sooner.) I tutored kindergartners on Monday nights at a ministry in my old city. Really miss it!
Me and one of my buddies.

19. Found a job that uses my English major and that I really enjoy: copywriter and ghostwriter for a public relations firm.
Back when I had a "real" office, before I started working from halfway across the country.

20. Lived with my grandmother as an adult for a year and a half. I moved back to my hometown to start said job as a writer, and moved into Grammy's second floor. I learned a lot about her life that I probably never would've otherwise--and made many priceless memories with her. I hope I'm half as cool when I'm 86.
Grammy being introduced to the iPod.

21. Tried out every major (natural) hair color: blonde, brown, (nearly) black, and red. I chose the first two pictures because they simply crack me up. A friend was practicing applying stage makeup in the first, and in the second I'm shooting skeet. Oh--red's definitely my favorite.


22. Wrote a novel (even if it's not a very good one) during National Novel Writing Month 2009.

23. Met a good man (who turned out to be my best friend, soul mate, better half, etc.)...
On our first date--check out that Afghanistan sunburn Spike is sporting!

...and married him, one week ago.

25. Lastly--I'm still here. I've got good health, few serious worries, and family, friends, and a husband who love me. I'm living in a completely new place, with yet another move right ahead. I've got a wonderful future to look forward to!

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Army algebra: An education

    Yesterday was supposed to be a fairly productive day. Bosslady (all praise be to her name) granted my last-minute request to take off work an hour early, the plan being that I'd go to post with Spike to get my military ID and to start all of the other I'm-Now-A-Military-Spouse paperwork.

    I paid extra-special attention to my makeup and curled my hair in preparation for my ID picture. Before you judge me for supposed vanity, let me point out that you'd do the same thing if you'd ever had a photo ID that looked like this:

    In my defense, the DMV had a sign above the camera that said "Do Not Smile." I swear.
    I carried that  bad boy around for five years because I was too cheap to pay for a new one prior to the expiration date. I can't tell you how many times cashiers, waitresses, TSA employees, etc. told me I looked like was about to murder someone, or just snickered under their breath. The point is, I am determined to look as happy and attractive as possible in all future picture IDs.

    Okay, back to our story. Spike and I were headed out the door, ready to take on a mountain of forms and red tape, when he got a text that he'd need to come by his classroom to get some vehicle keys. Essentially, his class is going on a field trip, and he has volunteered to be one of the drivers. I figured we'd just zip into the room, collect the keys, and be on our merry way. Way wrong!

    First, we had to wait for all of the drivers (seven of them, I believe), to arrive. As the only non-ACU-wearing person in the room (and a female to boot!) I felt rather out of place. So I did what I always do in such situations--stayed quiet and observed. Here is what I saw:

    Sorry for the blurriness--camera phone.

    All of the writing on the board is a determined attempt by at least three of the officers to determine how many vehicles were available, how many passengers each held, and how to divide the passengers and drivers between them. Also included was a lively discussion of how much space should be allocated for luggage (it's an overnight trip).

    In this situation, I'd probably picture each vehicle in my head and keep a running count of how many people could ride in it, driver included. Then it would be fairly easy to say, "Okay--we have X number of people, and they'll fit into Y number of vehicles. So that's how many drivers we need."

    Totally not how the Army does it. They write algebraic-looking things like (4 x 12 seats) (48 x students) in a column, making allowances for the number of vehicles, seats, and students, and then do more arithmetic from there. I was thoroughly confused by something that (in my mind) should have been a reasonably simple exercise in problem-solving. I guess it made sense to them, though! Personally, I felt like I was watching mad scientists work feverishly toward some groundbreaking formula--although Spike informs me this is pretty much the norm in the military. Of course it is! Silly civilian me.

    Unfortunately, all of this uber-intense field trip planning knocked Spike and I off-schedule, and by the time we got to the proper office for ID-making, the employees were all gone. We were frustrated since it was still a bit before closing time, but what are you going to do?

    "Nobody holds these government employees' feet to the fire!" Spike muttered in awful tones as we walked back to the truck.

    "Well, doesn't sound like a bad gig to me if you get to leave half an hour early with no penalties," I mused.

    "Yeah," he responded. "I think I'd like to be a lazy government employee when I retire from the Army!"

    If he does, I'll try to remember this moment and tease him mercilessly for leaving work half an hour early.

    (Also, no offense meant to any government employees who may be reading this! Unless, of course, you're one of the people who left early and caused me to still be ID-less.)

    In conclusion--ID and paperwork will have to wait till next week. At least I looked good while watching Army algebra.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Doggie Depression

    So, I was a bit of an emotional mess last night. And it was because of a dog. In fact, I'm still fairly distraught and half-convinced that my dog-lover card should be revoked. Oy vey. Here's what happened:

    Last night, I went outside to read (The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, if you're interested) while Spike stayed inside to wrangle together a PowerPoint presentation for class. I love being outdoors around sunset, so I happily parked myself Indian-style on the trunk of the Capri, facing west (yeah I know, I'm a little bit redneck), and cracked open my book. At this point, there were a pretty good number of kids, couples, and dogs outside up and down the street, so I didn't pay too much attention when I saw a little white dog trot down the sidewalk. I remember vaguely noting that he wasn't in my mental Catalog of Neighborhood Pets, but I didn't let him distract me from my novel for more a second or two.

    Fast forward 45 minutes or so. The sun had just dipped below the horizon, the light was starting to fade, and I was the only person still outside on our street. I saw a little white blob in my peripheral vision, glanced up, and sure enough--it was the same little dog that had trotted down the sidewalk earlier. He was meandering through the field across the street, so I walked toward him, crouched down, and called him. Immediately, he trotted up to me and nuzzled against my ankles. I was a goner.

    Upon further inspection, said little dog appeared to be an adult--I'm guessing a Jack Russel terrier mix. His tail was short, half his face was light brown, and one ear stood up while the other flopped over. He was very thin and not wearing a collar--but on the flip side, he wasn't terribly dirty, and I didn't see any ticks or (noticeable) fleas.

    After petting the little guy for a minute, I tried picking him up, which he submitted to with no protest whatsoever. Then, I did what any other wife would do--I called my husband.

    To make a long story a bit shorter, we went to the neighbor's house to see if he'd ever seen my little stray. No, he hadn't--but said stray just snuggled against my chest as I held him during the ensuing discussion on artillery between Spike and our neighbor. At this point, I wasn't sure what to do--it was nighttime, and we had nowhere to keep the dog until morning. He'd have wiggled under the boards of the fenced-in side yard in 2 seconds flat, and Spike and I aren't SUPPOSED to have any animals inside our duplex--if the landlord found out that we broke that rule with no pet deposit, we could be fined pretty heavily.

    Personally, me and my bleeding heart would have risked letting the dog spend the night in the guest bathroom, though Spike was much less enthusiastic about this plan. Visions of chewed-up cabinets were dancing in his head. In the end, though, the decision was taken out of our hands. I set the little dog on the ground, naively expecting that he'd stick close, but he promptly trotted away. I called him and went a few steps after him, but he was moving fast, and Spike (understandably) didn't want me running around the Oklahoma landscape, barefoot and in the dark, in pursuit of a small dog.

    I was crushed! I felt (and still do feel) like I've somehow failed as a human being in not being able to help this potential stray further--and I especially feel terrible that I didn't do a better job of protecting him from having to wander around on his own. I tearfully sniffled all of this to Spike last night, who tried to reassure me that the little dog's departure wasn't my fault. "After all, he left very purposefully," Spike pointed out. "He probably belongs to one of the farms around here."

    Maybe so--but I couldn't stop thinking about how thin he was. So I put a bratwurst from fridge out on the sidewalk before I went to bed. It was gone this morning (honestly, it could have been eaten by any number of creatures), but I hope the little white dog found it. I've been looking out the front windows all morning, but no sign of him yet. If he comes back, I'm not letting him out of my clutches until his owners are found, he's in a no-kill shelter, or I've convinced Spike that we need to adopt him.

    Meanwhile, all I have to show for myself is a bruised dog-lover's heart and at least 12 distinct mosquito bites. Dash it all!

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Flowers and Cookies, Hooray!

    Forgive the smarmy, meaningless-to-anyone-but-me post that is about to ensure--I claim newlywed status. 

    It seems that Spike and I got off on a good foot as a married couple. After our "honeymoon" (Saturday and Sunday at home), we each went back to the real world--Spike to his career course classes and me to copywriting from my home office. At the end of the day, Spike bought me some lovely yellow daisies--and surprised me with them while I was in the midst of baking him chocolate chip cookies. 

    It was kinda sorta like "The Gift of the Magi," except without the tragic no-hair no-watch twist at the end. Instead, there were flowers and baked goods. Huzzah! For us, it seems, the stereotypes are true: Girls love flowers, and the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

    Pretty flowers make a happy wife. (And apparently, tasty cookies make a happy husband.)

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Introducing--Officially!--Mr. and Mrs. Butters

    We did it! Last Friday, the 10th of September, Spike and I went to the courthouse here in town and got ourselves hitched. Spike got out of class early, was on his way home by 1:00, and had arrived at the courthouse with me in tow by 3:00.

    Although I've (strongly) hinted at it, this is the first time I've announced it outright: Instead of flying to Oklahoma for my monthly visit in August, I came to stay. Spike and I didn't know when exactly it would happen, but we knew we wanted to get married in a simple courthouse ceremony as soon as possible. We were frustrated by a few weeks of classes that lasted until 5:00, but our day finally came.

    I'm ecstatic! And here are some pictures. More words and thoughts (and maybe more pictures, too) later.

    Getting ready to start the paperwork

    Another military couple got married immediately before us--the groom had just graduated from basic training that afternoon.
    I think I'm saying something about getting used to a new last name.
    Saying our vows.
    Just married!
    We were very fortunate to find a photographer who could meet us at the last minute! Thanks, GJ!