Saturday, March 21, 2009

Briana's Wedding

My sister Briana got married to Adam on March 14th. She was gorgeous and the wedding was a blast. And, as any good wedding should, there are great stories that will be told about the weekend.

It started with the rehearsal. The rehearsal couldn't be at the actual wedding site because of another wedding. So we just rehearsed in a local park. Apparently a park with pigs. Giant pigs. Pigs that were so big they came up to my waist. There were three pigs running around the rehearsal. Their owner looked like ZZ Top. Quite interesting.
The day of the wedding all the girls got Starbucks, pedicures, lunch, and then primped. Briana was beyond beautiful. Her dress was very heavy with pearls, lace, rhinestones, the works. She tends to be a simpler girl, so the dress was an unconventional choice, but it was obviously perfect. The traffic on wedding day was quite atrocious and the ceremony was delayed a bit to make sure everyone arrived. The traffic was caused by several things. First, the wedding was near the beach during spring break. Second, there was a concert near the beach that night. Third, it was Ron L. Hubbard's birthday. Hubbard is the founder of Scientology and Clearwater, FL is a major Scientology hub. Several streets were shut down for the celebration. Briana is an on-time fanatic, but she did very well in the limo during the traffic jams. (Pics in the limo: Bri and Dad) The ceremony was perfect. It wasn't too hot and the traditional ceremony was very moving.Pigs weren't the end of the wildlife weekend. The wedding was held by the water. Just after the ceremony, during picture time, several dolphins were surfacing. Unfortunately, they didn't jump on command into a heart shape, but their presence was appreciated nonetheless. (Pics: dolphins, Dad, Bri and the girls)Hardly anyone noticed that the cake did not show up. Yup. No wedding cake. My sister took the missing cake incredibly well. She didn't care so much about the cake and the pomp and circumstance that comes with a cake, but she was excited about the cake being vegan. She was excited about sharing a vegan cake with family and friends so they could see her lifestyle wasn't all tofu! It was later discovered that the baker had written the wrong date on the contract. He felt really terrible about the whole thing and did refund all of the money, even the deposit. Other then the cake, the wedding was really fun, lots of dancing and alcohol. My dad dedicated Tupelo Honey to me and as we danced I cried almost as much as on my wedding day three years ago. My Granny caught the flowers and her great-grandson caught the garter. (Pics: Bri and Mom, Dad and me, Granny and Tyler, the cha-cha slide) It was just so overwhelming to see Bri's and Adam's obvious love for each other. I was honored to be the maid of honor and Robb took amazing pics to supplement the professional photography.

Florida: Pirates, Mermaids, and Seacows

A few days after Robb's second surgery, we headed to Florida for my sister's wedding and a little R&R. The weather was beautiful the entire time: low 80s, no rain, and hardly any humidity. We managed to make it to the beach a couple of times and got thoroughly burned in the process. But man, it was nice to lay on the sand and not have snow or rain threatening the day. Plus, it's always fun to see the Pirate Ship.
Even though most of our time was spent with family visits, Robb and I managed to sneak away one night to the town of Weeki Watchee. Weeki Watchee is a tiny little town in Florida where my Grandpa owns a riverhouse. Before the whole surgery thing, we had planned on doing some kayaking and swimming; sutures put that plan on hold. But I've grown up visiting the riverhouse and Robb had never visited before, so we decided to head there anyway. My Grandpa rode up with us to the house to show us around and then he planned on taking back his motorhome that evening. To say my Grandpa is a hunter is an understatement. His riverhouse is really an homage to his trophies. I had warned Robb, but I don't know if he truly expected the enormity of the dead animals on the walls. So he and Grandpa played with the guns for a little bit. Next time I'm sure Robb will have to shoot with him.
Weeki Watchee's fame are the mermaids. The Weeki Watchee river is fed by a freshwater spring. Since 1947 mermaids have been putting on a show for the public in the spring. I saw the show a couple of times as a kid and I just had to bring Robb. Robb was super-excited to see the show too because a few years ago he saw a show about forgotten roadside attractions, and the Weeki Watchee mermaids were featured. While we were glad to see the mermaids, my adult self was very sad in this little dilapidated park. It's quite run down, has really only three attractions (in the summer a waterpark opens for the public), and cost an astounding $14.00 a person. The park has almost closed several times in the past decades, most recently in 2008. But the state of Florida recently bought it and hopefully much needed renovations will happen soon.
After Weeki Watchee we headed to Homassassa Springs. The State Park here has a manatee (seacow) refuge and a mini-zoo of local animals (much like Enumclaw's Northwest Trek). We were pretty impressed with this little park. The funniest part of the park was Lu. When the park first opened decades ago, it was an exotic animal park. When Florida took over the park, they decided to make the focus local animals and shipped of the exotics. But people were very upset with the idea of Lu the Hippo leaving; so the governor of Florida signed a proclamation to make Lu an official Florida citizen.
All in all, the Florida trip was a nice combo of vacation/tourist time, surgery recovery time, and family time. Wedding report to follow...

Mima Mounds

On the Sunday after seeing Lucy, we headed back to Olympia. Back in November I won a chili cook-off at work (yay me!) and got a gift certificate for a restaurant there. We decided to try the breakfast buffet. It was pretty good. The $3.00 unlimited mimosas were awesome. We walked downtown for a little bit and saw the original capital building, as well as the official end of the Oregon trail. After we walked off our breakfast, we headed to the Mima Mounds.
The Mima Mounds are a few miles outside of Olympia and no one is quite sure what they are. According to Wikipedia they are uniformly distributed mounds of soil, 1-3 meters high. There are a variety of theories as to why they exist. Settlers first thought they were Indian burial grounds, but excavations show that there are no remains. Other competing theories include: gopher mounds, sea rivers, earthquakes, and glacier paths. They're in prairie land and I imagine in the summer they're quite beautiful. We went in the middle of winter during a downpour. We walked along the paths in between the mounds for awhile, but the rain and non-plant/non-animal life made our visit short. Really fascinating.

Lucy's Legacy

The weekend in between Robb's two surgeries Robb wasn't allowed to go to work, but he was well enough to get out of the house. So we decided to take advantage of our weekend off together.
On that Saturday we went to the Pacific Science Center to check out "Lucy's Legacy." You've heard of Lucy: the most complete, preserved fossil of a human ancestor. We were really excited to go to this exhibit to see Lucy and because the current US tour will probably be the only time Lucy is in America. The Lucy exhibit hasn't been doing too well in Seattle, due to snow, the economy, etc. The rumor was that attendance was so poor in Seattle, that Lucy may just go back to Ethiopia early instead of heading on to her next American city. So getting to Lucy was a top priority for us.

Leading up to the unveiling of the fossil, there was a fascinating exhibit about Ethiopia, Lucy's homeland. I think one of the reasons that Ethiopia released Lucy to tour around the US was as a publicity stunt. They wanted to showcase their country, and Lucy was a compelling way to do it. Ethiopia succeeded; I really think Ethiopia is a country that I want to visit (war with Eritrea, landmines, and all...of course, the Ethiopian exhibit didn't mention those things.) We finally made our way to see Lucy. For being the most complete, preserved fossil of a human ancestor, I could not believe how few fossils there were of her. I think only 40% of her fossils were found, yet from those fossils, they could recreate her and find a missing link in the evolutionary chain. It was a super good time.

Unfortunately pictures of Lucy are strictly forbidden. And we didn't have too much time to see the rest of the Pacific Science Center. But we did see a couple of exhibits. The Pacific Science Center seems like a really fun, interactive place. We'll head back there soon and check out the rest of the place.

I pedaled on this stationary bike to see how many calories I could burn in an hour. Robb says that instead of calorie counts they should put burritos on there, then I'd get a true understanding of what exercise does (or doesn't) do.
This periscope goes all the way up to the top of the Science Center and you can turn it 360 degrees to see a neat view of the city.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Robb's Second Surgery

Robb's second surgery went well. He reports that the recovery after this surgery was much better than the last one. They did a better job of finding him the right combo of pain meds that didn't make him sick. The anesthesiologist nurse told me that the first thing Robb said when he woke up from surgery was, "Well I guess this means I'm alive." Apparently, Robb also suggested that they should have kept him sleeping until the war was over. His entire thyroid is now gone, including some surrounding lymph nodes. He started a synthyroid medication yesterday, which he will be on for the rest of his life. At the end of March he will meet with the endocrinologist and we will then learn more about radiation and when that will occur. Right now we're just happy that the surgeries are over. Thanks for all your well-wishes. They were much appreciated!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Capitol Campus, Olympia

The weekend before Robb's first surgery we decided to get out and about to keep our minds off the fact that in a few short hours his neck would be spliced open. It was time for a trip to downtown Olympia, our state's capital. While I work only a couple of miles away from Olympia, I had never visited Capitol Campus in a significant way or downtown Olympia. So this trip was just as new to me as it was to Robb.
Capitol Campus is a huge area with open lawns, overlooking Puget Sound, that house giant buildings that function as our state government. The Legislative Building is quite spectacular. It was the last capitol building designed and created in such a grandiose style, dome and all. We took an hour long tour of the building and learned that all the chandeliers were Tiffany. The giant chandelier hanging from the dome is several tons and can fit an entire Volkswagen bug into it. The doorknobs all have our state seal embedded into them. If you touch Washington's nose, you'll have good luck. Marble is everywhere and each room seemed to have marble originating from distinct countries. The building is really beautiful and it must be a pleasure to be able to work in those rooms.
After the tour of the Capitol building, we walked down to the lake and then made our way to downtown Olympia. We were very impressed with the downtown area. Anytime a downtown has interesting stores and no chains, we are happy. In fact, we headed to Olympia again the very next weekend. Stay tuned to find out about our next trip.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Update on Robb

Robb's next surgery will be on Thursday, March 5th. At that point they will take out the rest of the thyroid and some surrounding lymph nodes. The half a thyroid that was left in there last surgery is working overtime to make up for its missing part. The recovery from this surgery is expected to be a little more difficult because now the entire thyroid will be gone. And he probably will not go on thyroid medication for several weeks until his radiation treatment is completed. So he will be more tired and emotional from this surgery. However, we're still scheduled to leave for Florida on March 10th for my sister's wedding. The surgeon, while not recommending it, has said that it is okay for him to travel if everything goes well. I think getting out of town will be good for us. And while it won't be the best vacation, hopefully Robb will be able to relax in some warmth and we'll get some love and support from my family.

I'll update the blog soon with more posts and pictures about some recent day trips to Olympia and Seattle. But, as you can see, we're a little preoccupied right now with other things!