Monday, November 15, 2010

Heads In the Clouds

You ever have those times in your life when things are just going so well that you need to pinch yourself?

I don't normally, either.

However, these past few months have been like that, for me.  Some days I lay down at night and think, is this really my life? 

And I mean that in a good way.

A lot has happened since my last post.

My eldest daughter, Emily, announced that she is making me a Grandfather.  She is expecting a child in June.

My middle child Lindsey announced she and her boyfriend are going to Ireland for a work/study abroad trip for 4 months.

My youngest daughter Camie went through the trauma of her dog being hit by a car and dying essentially in their arms.

I asked Alene to marry me.  (She said yes, by the way.)

Alene's daughter Elizabeth (my future step-daughter, how's that for a different thought for me?), told me she couldn't think of anyone more perfect for her mom.  That acceptance has meant the world to me.

I'm quite excited about all of it.

As you can imagine, it's been a crazy, exciting, wonderful several weeks.

Emily told us she was expecting just before we left for Fort Bragg last month, but we had to keep it under our hats for a week or so until she could tell her sisters all together.  We had them over for dinner when we got home from Fort Bragg, and she shared with everyone her good news. Emily seems to be doing well, and Alene and I are beginning to stockpile baby stuff here at the house. Grandparents, after all, need to be prepared.  

Just a few days after this, Camie called me one night in hysterics, saying their dog (actually it's her friend's dog, but since they all live in the same home, he was like a big 'ol family dog),  a big American Bull, had been hit by a car on a busy street.  I told her I'd meet them at the animal hospital and rushed out to help them take care of the dog, but the dog died in their car before they could get anywhere close to the hospital.  She and her boyfriend and their friends buried took care of things and buried the dog.  What a rough night for her and her boyfriend.

Soon after this, with the date for my divorce being final quickly approaching, I decided it was time to get a ring and bend a knee and ask Alene, for real and for true, if she would marry me.

The romantic day started out like most other.  I slept in a little late and woke up to Alene already outside washing her car.  I got dressed and we took both cars to the carwash and vacuumed them out. We came home and got out the ladder and hose and she mucked her way through the roof gutters, getting them cleaned out and ready for winter. I manned the hose and sprayed all the gunk down toward Alene who was up on the ladder with the bucket, pulling the leaves and pine needles out.  After that we pulled up the old summer garden plants in the backyard and did some weeding.

Yes, we were a mess. Romantic, huh?

About 1:30 or so we got cleaned up and took a drive to Apple Hill.  I'd had it in mind to ask her that day, I just wasn't sure when or where.  Apple Hill has some good memories for us, so I figured some opportunity would present itself.  We drove all over, taking in the changing trees and wonderful smells of the mountains for the afternoon, and headed back home about an hour before sunset.

That's when I got the idea.

One of our very first dates was a walk at Lake Natomas, near the aquatic center.  We'd gone there to feed the ducks.  We wound up not feeding ducks because Lake Natomas is part of a California State Park and there were signs saying no feeding wild animal.  There'd also just been a park ranger in the area, telling some little kids and their families not to feed the ducks.  I felt horrible about feeding the ducks in front of some little kids who were just told not to, so I convinced Alene that we could feed ducks elsewhere, and not lead the little ones astray by being rebels.  What kind of example would that be? Alene (pretend) pouted, and not feeding the ducks has become a running joke between us.

You never let me feed the ducks.

Since we had to drive right by that very same lake on the way home from Apple Hill, I asked her if we could stop and see the sunset.  She and I both love sunsets, so she agreed.  We sat on the very same bench we'd sat on and watched the sunset, after not feeding ducks, on that first date.  The sky was clear, and the sun began to set in a beautiful flurry of reds and purples.  We talked about that earlier date, and she chuckled about not feeding the ducks, and that's when the light went off.


I said to Alene, since I took something away from you last time we were here, I think I need to give you something back.

Just as the sun was setting, and some geese glided by on the water, I got down on one knee, pulled the ring box from my pocket, opened it, and asked Alene if she would do me the honor of marrying me.

I think some fireworks actually exploded somewhere in the distance.

Her eyes were huge.

She was smiling.

She said yes.

We cried.

We laughed.

We watched the rest of the sunset.

We went for dinner at Chili's.

Ok, Chili's isn't the most romantic place, but trust me, romance is where you find it and what you make of it.

Chili's was just as romantic as it could be.

I had achieved complete surprise.  Alene never saw it coming.  It was wonderful!

That was November 6th.  Since then, we've begun to think about wedding dates.  We were initially thinking sometime in March or April.  As Alene talked to the girls to see what dates would work for them, Lindsey made her announcement.

Lindsey will be in Ireland from February through May.  She and her boyfriend have been thinking about doing a work/study thing abroad for some time, but I 'd never heard about any concrete plans.  Apparently, they just solidified and she hadn't had a chance to tell us.

I'm super happy for her, and completely support the trip. That just means February through May are out for a wedding, because we want all the kids to be there.  Emily's baby is due in June, so I don't want to add anything to her plate during that time, and I don't want to wait until July to get married!

So.... we are targeting January . Yeah, right around the corner.  Alene will be calling the church this morning to see what dates are open.  We're pretty confident we'll be able to pull it off.  I love this woman, and she loves me, so we'll make it happen somehow.

I did tell her that if thing begin to get too stressful, I'm going to just scoop her and the kids up and run to Reno and make it happen. My brother already offered to drive, so plan B is all set, just in case.

So back to my premise:  you ever have those times in your life when things are just going so well that you need to pinch yourself?

I don't normally, either. 

But it's sure nice when it happens.  

Alene was telling me last night that she's still on Cloud 10,000, or something like that, and was having trouble coming down to earth.  I told her, don't try. 

I say enjoy the ride.  It's nice to have your head in the clouds once in a while.  The view is nice, and the air is clean.  

We'll have to come down to earth soon enough, but for now, its a wonderful ride.