What’s in a marriage?

We just returned from our first wedding since we ourselves got married a year ago. The groom and bride are pretty awesome people: geeks, fans of the outdoors, interesting and engaged in the world. We were glad to be part of the community witnessing their vows. A highlight for me was the acoustic metaphor of how each one is an interesting tune alone, but the tunes combine and vary to make beautiful music. Just as cool was the groom’s ring: not a ring at all, but a tattoo around the finger, unveiled at the ceremony. This would be just about the only type of tattoo that I would consider having myself!

I found it interesting to reflect on how I feel at other people’s weddings. There’s always happiness, of course, but also a bit of introspection. When I was single, I wondered whether I would find the right man with whom to face life together. When I was dating, I thought about how contented I was and how “maybe, someday….”

Now that I am married, seeing others pledge their vows reinforces the solemnity of my own. Two people freely choosing to be partners in life, to face the obstacles together and celebrate the triumphs, to help each other grow as individuals. A couple asking their community to witness their promises, to hold them accountable, to provide support and validation. Oh, and how the future stretches out before us! What challenges will we face as the calendar turns, what fights and ailments and frustrations! And how many tender moments, how many unexpected gifts, how many adventures and projects!

Being married does not change the work that it takes to be in a relationship: communication, empathy, respect, selflessness. But being married is a constant reminder of a choice freely taken that I will gladly stand by my husband even at his worst, and the reassurance that he will stand by me even at mine.

Biking the Wenatchee-Chelan loop

Our cabin at Lincoln Rock State Park

My bike hasn’t been getting a lot of love since I moved to Seattle. Bike commuting in the summer, mostly, but not many long rides. No touring.

To charge things up this year, I decided we should do the STP in the summer. And we will. But registering for that led to registering for the training ride, the Flying Wheels. That then led to registering the Tour de Blast. And Knox went so far as to sign up for the RAMROD (yikes!). As a result, we have a biking summer sketched out. We’ve never been into organized rides, so we’ll see how fun they are.

To prepare for these events, we’ve started going on longer bike rides after work–typically 30 to 40 miles, which is not really long in the world of touring. What we’re really jonesing to do is go on another bona fide bike tour, where you cover real distance over the span of days. That is unlikely to happen this summer, as I’m saving my vacation time for other trips. What we can do, however, is weekend mini-tours. And that’s exactly what we did this weekend, driving up to Wenatchee and doing a 76-mile bike tour to Lake Chelan and back.

Oh, it was glorious! Like water to parched lips, this ride reminded me of the sheer joy of feeling the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair, and the pedals underfoot as the world slowly changed around me! So good for the soul!

On the technical side, I was intrigued to confirm what I’ve been noticing this season: my riding style has definitely changed from what it was when I started biking five years ago. It used to be that I would try to ride fast all the time, sprinting up segments of hills and then stopping to pant before continuing up. Now, I seem to have a better pace, where I can gauge the right steady effort to get me to the top, and beyond, without needing to stop to catch my breath.

View Wenatchee/Lake Chelan Loop in a larger map


Pops, the giant rabbit

There is a new addition to the Gardnovsky Gardens, and its name is Pops. Knox came back from a mysterious errand in Tacoma on Saturday with a rabbit. A giant, obese rabbit. We later found out (thanks to What Breed is my Bunny?, of course) that it is a fawn-colored Flemish giant.

Apparently, his biography looks something like this: he got his name because the kid he belonged to thought he was the color of Corn Pops. He shared his cage with a cat. The kid lost interest, the cat was given away, the rabbit was lonely. He’s been living outside, unfazed by his barking canine neighbors. The previous owner, a veterinary assistant, decided he was neglected. One Craigslist posting later, Pops came to join Galli at the Gardnovsky Resort and Spa.

Pops is awfully cute, but certainly needs to go in a diet: his jowls are all too conspicuous when he relaxes, all splayed out. We keep him in a rabbit hutch outside, which hutch will be graced with an HGTV-style addition before our own house will. We’ve been bringing him indoors every so often to look at him and pet him, and he seems to enjoy that just fine. He and the cat have been sniffing each other out (and I mean that literally; Galli is intrigued by Pop’s butt). Galli remains suspicious, staring at Pops in her focused huntress mode. Pops is laid back, knowing he has the advantage of size.

So far, our major complaint is that when he comes inside, Pops likes to poop (perfectly formed soft pellets) and pee (brownish syrup). We need to get him housebroken and using a litter box. He’s got a scat kink going, too: he’ll wallow in, sniff, and eat his own pellets, and he seems to quite enjoy stretching out in his own urine. Sigh. As much as I enjoy him, I’ve instituted a new house rule: you bring it home, you take care of its excrement.

Man and Bunny

Utter Darkness

On our second day in Bend, OR, Knox and I descended from a balmy, sunny 85°F to a cool, still 42°F inside the Lava River Cave. With USFS-provided lanterns and backup headlights we ventured the mile-long trek into the bowels of the earth, feeling cool drafts of air and catching glimpses of variegated igneous rock textures.

Although the hubby was stoically fighting clammy anxiety (what if there’s an earthquake right now when we’re underground? would they find us? look for us?), I decided that I may have a future in caving yet. It was actually quite fun to channel Tom Sawyer to Knox’s Becky Thatcher! I think spelunking might feel too claustrophobic for me (at least the way Knox has described it), but exploring this open cave, at least, was quite the meditative experience.

To see what it would really feel like to be alone, I had Knox take the lantern around a bend in the cave. I turned off my headlamp and just let things be….

It is not in the expanse of space but rather in the depths of the earth that one finds the utmost, thickest blackness! One’s soul floats, solitary, in a medium at once viscous and immaterial, constricting and liberating. The constant dripping of moisture on the rocky floor is the only rhythm perceived beyond the eddies projected by eyes rendered irrelevant….

My hermit nature has found its siren call.

Preview of coming attractions: wedding

We’ll put up posts on the wedding as soon as we can write coherently about it and we sort through all the pictures.

In the meantime, read critics’ reviews: Nerd’s Eye View, Wolftone, and Vain.

Let’s just say it was a gorgeous, moving event.

(On a lighter note, For Better or for Worse captures some of the angst of actually planning the event. So glad that’s behind us now!)