Second Honeymoon

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Exercise, Half-Marathon, Knitting, No Whining, Soulful

We lucked into a fantastically cheap but very brief “weekend” away. It actually began Sunday and ended on Tuesday when we packed up and left gorgeous Virginia Beach. It’s pretty chilly and deserted in early March, which suited us fine because it also meant fewer people. Besides, you just cannot beat the view if you’re an ocean lover.

We’ve been through a lot in recent months, with a lot more coming up and needed to recharge our batteries. We had no plans upon our arrival, although we had some toys to entertain ourselves, and just wanted to “be” without any demands. I don’t think I tweeted or FB’d much, except for a few DM’s to keep plans on track. The bass we brought for my lesson sat untouched and we didn’t even open Game of Thrones.

We emerged from a nasty rain storm, but the weather almost immediately turned sunny with temps in the mid-50’s. Warm enough for us, to be sure. Our hotel was beautiful and we even got a free bump to a larger, oceanfront room due to a low vacancy rate.  After hanging on our balcony and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean and hanging in our room for a bit, we headed out for dinner at a place that I immediately envisioned Chooch’s band playing in, and would love to wave a magic wand and make that happen. (Ditched by Kate tours Virginia Beach? Sounds good to me!) We headed back and settled in for the night, door thrown open to hear the ocean in spite of the cold.

The next morning, I arose and headed out for a run. It was the single most invigorating run of my life, what with the view, the biting wind, and ocean sounds. My pace really suffered because I kept stopping to take pictures. With our “no plans” rule, I wasn’t sure that I’d make it back out with Chooch before we left so I took full advantage of having remembered my little all-weather camera.

I even found the spot from 2 (or was it 3?) years ago when I did a break-neck paced drive to Virginia Beach with a visiting friend from New Mexico. She’d never seen an ocean before, and I found that unacceptable. On the last day of her visit, we had just enough time to race down here, play in the sand for 15 minutes or so, and then race back to Reagan airport for her flight back home. It was a deliciously fun time, and reminded me of my teenage years where no plan was too crazy.

After my run yesterday, I inadvertently woke up Chooch when I returned to the room to stretch out my tight muscles. I ran for a bit on the sand for the first time, but even tougher was running into the very strong winds. My skin was very smooth after the sandblasting it got, but I don’t recommend it.

We got moving, and headed down for our complimentary restaurant breakfasts. (Did I mention this trip was cheap? That was partly due to breakfast being served until 11, which we decided meant we only had to pay for one meal each day.)

Chooch had some stuff going on at work, so we headed up to the room so he could plug in the laptop and get to it. We then remembered a beautiful spot next to the restaurant with an internet cafe/work stations so he grabbed his work stuff and I grabbed my knitting and we sat in this beautiful seating area with a wall of beach and ocean in front of us. Way better than a wall with a TV, don’t you think?

After that was done, we headed out to the aquarium. This is something that we do in every city we visit that has one, a tradition we started while dating with an aquarium on the Oregon Coast when I first visited him in 2002. Although it’s not terribly huge, we spent hours because we love marine life so much. Seals, jellyfish, sharks, rays, coral and all manner of underwater life were beautiful and charming as expected. I’d say the otters were the most fun to watch as they frolicked and played as only they can, but we also have a special affinity for turtles. My favorite was seeing both a pair of cardinals and the seahorses, for the significance they hold for me. <3

At this point, we were starving and we grabbed a tasty dinner and headed back to the hotel with some ice cream for later. (The room had a mini-fridge.) We chilled out with the ocean sounds serenading us and eventually we … well … it was romantic and all … so … we couldn’t resist… recording our podcast, Into the Blender. HA! You thought you were going to get some naughty time info, didn’t you? Not gonna happen, loveys! What happens in Virginia Beach stays in Virginia Beach. Mostly.

We actually are behind on our self-imposed bi-weekly schedule, partly because of my impromptu trip to Arkansas and partly due to social gatherings we committed to before I knew I would be traveling. So we sat and recorded enough content for either a two hour episode or three 45-ish minute episodes. The editing goal will be three episodes, which pleases me. I like having buffer for exactly the type of events that delayed our release this time.

Tuesday morning, I woke early, started writing this post and headed back to bed for a bit. We eventually got up, got ready for the day and grabbed our tasty free breakfast again. I grabbed some waffle sections from the buffet, and couldn’t help but giggle when the sign said “waffle sticks” as it brought to mind the South Park “fish sticks” bit. I shared that with hubby, and we recited the funniest joke of all time, slightly modified.

Joke Teller: “Do you like waffle sticks?”
Butt of Joke: “Yes.”
Joke Teller: “So you like to put waffle sticks in your mouth?”
Butt of Joke: “Yes.”
Joke Teller: “You are a gay waffle.”

Yes, that’s how my mind works on a romantic weekend. And yes, you should pity Chooch.

We then went for a walk on the beach, the first one for Chooch since we arrived. We went up to water’s edge, but I chose not to put my toes in considering how cold it was. We were bundled up in heavy coats and the wind was strong and stinging. We took some photos and walked along the beach as I wanted to show him a Neptune sculpture further down the boardwalk.

We chatted, cleaned up some trash on the beach and met a beautiful and loving dog that was being walked by the family that rescued him from near death by an abusive owner. The dog, Russell, was part Akita and part … breeds I don’t recall. Lookit, he was sweet and beautiful, I was distracted. Check out the photos below to see how he looks now. Shockingly, he was only 17 pounds when the family rescued him a few years ago and is now healthy and content with just a few remaining behavioral issues, none of which we witnessed. I’d have never guessed how terrible a start he’d had in this life if they hadn’t told us.

Being so close to the air base, every time a plane went overhead Chooch would look up and announce what type it was. After marveling at the Neptune statue, we made our way back to the car. It was a beautiful ending to our trip, as Chooch drove home and we hammered out some story ideas.

Home now, I refuse to sulk that it’s over. Instead, I choose to be joyful that we had this time away from most of the demands of our life and I feel even more in love and dedicated to my husband than ever before. I already was, but somehow feel those things even stronger, which I didn’t think was possible. We just needed to unclench from the stress we were feeling and experiencing and knew this was our only chance for a very long time. We also knew we’d never be able to do it this cheaply again, so dove in.

I feel more than grateful for him and our life together, and suggest that if you can steal a few moments away for yourself, either with or without a loved one, just to luxuriate in unstructured playtime, you should definitely do it. Take a day or two and slow down, sleep, relax and just be. It will serve you beautifully, at least it has for us.

I’ve loaded a bunch of photos (90 or so), about a quarter of those we took. There are also some videos. Most of the collection is from the Virginia Aquarium at Virginia Beach. Note: The very last photo is prolly NSFW or kids, but it is jokey in nature. I’ve marked it as restricted, but you’ll be able to view it if you click that you want to.

Playing with Yarn

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Friends, Hobby, Knitting

Years ago, I wanted to learn how to knit but was overwhelmed at the complexity and lack of people who could teach me. I tried crochet instead and did a decent job of it making a few scarves and two blankets (unfinished edges).

Now that I’m stuck at home, usually in a chair or bed due to the dizziness, I considered starting to crochet again. A conversation with my dear friend M.A. got me going on knitting. She’s an accomplished knitter and thought I might enjoy the conversion from crochet to knitting. While she was staying with us in order to attend the memorial service for another dear friend, we zipped off to the craft store to get the basic supplies including a “How To…” kit. She had to leave shortly after that, so we never really got a chance for a tutorial.

I became very frustrated with the instruction guide in the “How To…” kit, and gave up after a few tries. The book just was not translating into action for me. She said she had a book for me to borrow, and to bring my supplies along the next time we met up for a tutorial. A few weeks later, we were at Tee Morris’ home and we stole away for a quick 10 minute lesson sitting in the hatchback of my CRV. It was much quieter than inside the house, and we needed some ‘us’ time regardless. In spite of her belief that she’s a terrible teacher, she had me casting on and stitching wobbly stitches in no time!

I was very grateful, but warned her not to expect much progress since I would likely get home and have forgotten what she showed me. To my great luck, she lent me her autographed copy of the Stitch ‘n Bitch book to keep me going.

After getting home, I was confused again. Which hand held the stitches after they were cast on? I remembered the basic movements, but not the finer details. I tentatively reached for the lent book, and started reading. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the non-instructional introduction. It’s a lovely story, and at one point I got teary eyed. Even if I’d not learned a thing on knitting I enjoyed the book.

Thanks to the hands-on time with M.A. and the detailed and logically phrased guidance from the book I was soon mangling the yarn in a somewhat continuing pattern. I was practicing my stitches and learning from trial and error, not really concerning myself with what it looked like other than as a learning opportunity. At one point I had several rows that looked much nicer than the previous, so I unraveled the whole nightmare and started fresh. I was pretty amazed at how neat it looked, and how much quicker (still slow) I was stitching.

That was a couple weeks ago, and since then I’ve knit two scarves. On the first, I had Chooch select the yarn he wanted for a ’2 hour scarf’ patter that I found from the Lion Brand Yarn site. I still get email from my crocheting days, so just wound up browsing their site. I used size 19 knitting needles, with two strands of the Wool-Ease Thick and Quick. Normally I’d have gone for a fancier acrylic for more color options at our local store, but M.A. had explained the basics of the different yarns and with a blizzard forecast I wanted to make sure the would stay warm.

On the second, I was actually looking for yarn for a friend that asked me to make one for her. When I laid my eyes on the the white Wool-Ease Jiffy with a white metallic thread, I quickly decided that I had to make this scarf for a different person. That scarf is now finished, and I can get back to the one for the other friend.

I bought a bunch more yarn, and already have a long list of projects in my head. I don’t plan on making sweaters or socks, they are too intimidating. I previously crocheted a hat, so may try that soon. I also want to crochet something again, just to compare the two processes and results. Crocheting for me is ‘easier’ in that I only have to really pay attention to one hook rather than two needles, but I think I’m enjoying the results of the knitting better.

I’m posting various pictures of what I’ve used and my results. Next up? Stripes!