Sunday, November 20, 2011

A New Way To Travel

It's been so long since I blogged, that I didn't remember at first how to get to this screen where I am now recording my thoughts. But now I'm here. I guess blogging is kinda like riding a bike: you never forget, you're butt starts to hurt if you do it too long, and it's kinda embarrassing if you're old.

One of the bigger reasons I haven't done this in a while is I've been a little busier getting some arrangements made for a hitchin' ceremony. That's right, Miss Brown and I are getting married. Forever, better or worse, all that stuff. The long-time bachelor finally found someone who made him want to give it all up. All of it. All the weeks of unwashed clothes, all the piles of dirty dishes, all the inches of beard, all meals alone. All for a lifetime of companionship with a beautiful, funny, intelligent lady. OK, maybe I'm getting the better deal here. (Except for the awesomely long beard part.)

Kelsey flew out to visit in August after her summer term. I had waiting for her a one-way plane ticket to San Francisco, the location of our first date two years earlier. Of course, I didn't tell her it was only one-way since the trip back was a surprise. She flew into LAX Friday night, and we hopped on a plane early the next morning bound for SF. Friday we spent doing our normal eating, walking, arguing (hey, it's what we do, don't judge), and enjoying a beautiful day in the city.

When I told Kelsey Saturday night that we shouldn't stay out too late since we had to be up earlier the next morning, I think she had about had enough of me. Probably even more so the next morning, when I hailed us a cab for a sketchy part of Oakland...

But that's where the trains leave from, so there we went. We had talked before about liking the idea of a train trip, so I thought that would be a special way to propose. Plus the fact that the train ran from our oft-visited adopted city of San Francisco down to Los Angeles. And it ran through many of the sites of other dates of ours: the Central Valley and hills of San Luis Obispo (our road to Big Sur), Santa Barabara (New Year's Eve and hiking / Zac Brown Band).

It was hard keeping it a secret the first five or six hours of the train ride. I had the ring stashed in my bag, but didn't want to leave it when we went to the dining cars for our meals. So I had to slyly send Kelsey ahead and move it to a pocket after she left our sleeper car. After the wine tasting event about halfway through the trip, I figured was a perfect time. So while Kelsey freshened up when we got back to our sleeper, I grabbed the ring and a letter I had written her and stashed them in the car.

Unfortunately, the train schedule that day had the attendants coming around getting dinner reservations directly after that as dinner was being served very early. Since I didn't want to be interrupted in the middle, I had to wait for the attendant to come around. We declined the early dinner which gave me my chance. Wittily, I steered the conversation towards my proposal plans. I presented Kelsey the letter I had written, which was an answer to a letter she had mailed me many months prior. When she was done reading the letter, I got down on a knee and asked for hand in marriage, ring in hand. I'm not sure it's clear in either of our minds whether she actually said yes or not. She seemed to be a bit overwhelmed with the moment. But, we've been operating under the assumption that she did answer in the affirmative thereafter, so I think it's safe to say we reached an agreement. And I, for one, am very glad we did.

The date is set for March 11 of next year, and it's probably safe to say I don't deserve her. But then, none of us really deserves each other ever. Relationships are very little about what each one deserves, and much more about what each is willing to give, deserved or not. Really, if one were to look at the definitions of give and deserve closely, it might be concluded that those two words rarely are both applicable to any one situation. To give is to offer freely, without any sense of obligation. I know I will surely fail at times for my part, but I think the difference in those two words is what makes marriage unique among all other contracts. Contracts are generally supplying what is deserved from criteria that were met. Marriage, and love in general, is about giving what can not be (or before it is) deserved.

train time

breakfast time

club car time

fiance time

All the pics.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Play Ball!

Before getting into the subject of this post, we're going to handle a little AMHTFUHL business first. I'd just to like say that if my last post seemed harsh towards Aunt Sarah, and possibly Peri, it probably only seemed that way because I'm a big jerk. I had planned to write something heartfelt and sincere to close it out, but, in my defense... I didn't. Oh, right, I guess that's not really much of a defense of all. So sorry for that Paul women; it was really fun and a great party put on in large part by Sarah & Co. I always enjoy being in the company of you all and am proud and blessed to be able to call you family. OK, business meeting over, back to the biting sarcasm that you all come here for.

Before we all headed south for Ella's part-tay, we headed to Tip-Wa (yeah I still call it that) and Bunker Hill for a sweltering morning at the ballpark. It was my first time at one of Riley's teeball (which is kind of a misnomer now) games as well as my first time seeing Taylor go yard (oh yeah). I took a bunch of pics at Riley's game with my new telephoto lens (which I have named The Bees Knees) which was a lot of fun. I didn't get quite so many at Taylor's because a) I was wilting in the mid-day heat (I had to sit under the pavilion for the last few innings unless Taylor was batting) b) the sight lines at BHLL are not great and c) they wouldn't let me on the field like they did during Riley's. In any case, I got some good ones, and I might have even got some great ones if I had a) a faster camera and b) the ability to focus correctly.

anyone else worried that they're looking different
directions? also need to work on Riley's footwork

making sure we didn't miss anything; he's so helpful

Taylor trots

awaiting the throw; better footwork than Riley at first

I thought it was kinda funny that these next couple reminded me of each other. I guess the game (and kids) never change.

Taylor goes yard and Riley pops it over the pitcher's
mound (that's like going yard in teeball since all the
fielders are on the infield grass)

getting and waiting for dad-fives

More pics from Riley's and Taylor's games. Great job, dudes.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This Is Worse Than The Minivan, Sarah

Yes, you are officially old when you are the parent of a high school graduate. But what a great graduate, my cousin, Ella Rae Paul. Congratulations Ella on a stellar high school era, but perhaps more impressively, living 18 years in the same house as your mother, and 15 with your sister. At least there's Tom. Thank God for Tom.

Best of luck next year at Butler. I'm sorry that goofy looking basketball player who all the girls thought was dreamy is already gone. I know you'll do great anyway.

happpy grad

MHS Class of 2011

Some other highlights of the trip to Martinsville, in no particular order: the sweat on the back of my neck; Peri's directions back to the house after graduation, Riley puking in the hotel pool; bikini search at Wal-Mart; the sweat in my armpits; and 30 pounds of cheeseball.

More pics.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Two weeks ago Kelsey and I met in San Francisco for a long weekend to celebrate the end of her semester, finals week and everything. It was also our first trip back to San Francisco since our first date. This trip was different from the first in nearly every way. Well every way but fun, food, and more fun. Our first time was spent mostly in Golden Gate Park enjoying music, but this time we got around to a lot more of the city and were able to dive much further into the culinary offerings that abound. Favorites include meatballs at Tomasso's (even better than I remembered), Vietnamese coffee ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe's, and everything at Tornoado Bar. I'm sure Kelsey's favorites are much different than mine, so she'll have to leave those in the comments. (But definitely hitting Red's next time.)

meatballs and more meatballs at Tomasso's

cured meats - and more meatballs! - at Molinari's

We also took in a Sunday afternoon game at AT&T Park, which is one of my top baseball park experiences so far. The weather was great all weekend, but especially nice during the game, and that park is really a gem (Jem?). McCovey Cove, the brick wall, and all the weirdo San Franciscans made it just a really unique experience. Plus the garlic fries were actually good. Oh,... and The Beard. Kelsey added another team to her long list of supportees, thanks mostly to the crazed antics of one Brian Wilson. Kudos. Well done, sir. And though I remain a steadfast follower of the birds on the bat, I gotta say, I get it. I'd go back.

game time

McCovey Cove

We also got to meet up (and I just plain meet) Kelsey's friend she met during her island years, Bianca. She was very nice, and I very much enjoyed the time we spent together. I could tell the two girls were fond of each other, though the words escape me to define precisely what I saw from them. At times they seemed to be of one mind... and me of an other entirely.

they deny it, but i know they coordinated outfits

I can't wait to go back again (soon?). After all Kelsey still hasn't got her dim sum (even though I offered about 40 times as we passed a place). She did, however, manage to get her filled sesame pastry (even though she pronounced it wrong) at one of the dirtiest food establishments I've ever been in - a pigeon flew in and hung out for a while, not discouraged by any of the staff - from a lady I'm pretty sure was blind (didn't stop her from yelling words I did not understand at people in a room we were not in). So there was that.

holding likely violations of the health code

well... almost

So, to recap: great trip. Pics.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Myles To Go Before I Sleep

I was back in Walton last weekend to meet the 20 pounds of fat in a 10 pound bag that is my new nephew Myles. Seriously his eyes look like they're ready to pop out of their sockets due to the intense pressure by his chubby cheeks. Chubby, chubby cheeks.

Of course my cheeks are probably a little chubby now too since the other thing I did that weekend was eat. B & K, Sycamore, Bruno's, Haps, huge early Easter feast. I'm getting full again just typing this out. I gotta go take a nap...

More pics.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On Shifts, Lupulin Threshold and Decadal

I'm a little late in posting this, but I'm not going to just let it past since you all have been begging to hear about it. Well that and I don't want to miss a chance to remind Erik that he is really, really super old. So, Erik, listen up... You're really, really super old.

Erik decided to cash in his "I'm turning 30" chip in for a weekend in Santa Rosa for the release of Pliny The Younger, or P The Y as it is affectionately known. P The Y is an uber rare, triple IPA and also happens to be the world's perfect beverage. Unfortunately it is only brewed once a year in limited quantities. Last year Jeff and I did a 15-hour road trip to bring some back to the southland, but due to some greedy jerks selling it on electronic last year, it was only being made for serving at the brewery bistro this year (no takeaways). On the bright side, we didn't have to drive the 15 hours all in one day, and we got to spend a beautiful weekend in NorCal making fun of how old Erik is.

We did still want to make it there for the opening, so we still left insanely early Friday morning anyway. But it was worth it to be there for the first serving of the world's best beer (and they're not kidding Buddy The Elf). Saturday we went into San Francisco during the day for sandwiches and chocolates before heading back to Russian River for afternoon and dinner.

P The Y release is becoming one of my favorite weekends of the year, and February can't come again soon enough. Hope to see you all there next year. Imagine how old Erik will be then.

a beautiful thing

Molinari Special's by the Golden Gate

Erik doing what Erik does on road trips;
don't wake up the old man - it's his birthday

More pics.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Yabba Dabba Doo Time

A gay old time indeed. Apart from that first night when Kelsey burned her hand on the skillet, and I thought we would have to go to the hospital. But the rest of the time was total bliss... OK, maybe when the wind kicked up to 60 mph whipping the tent around and making it bitter cold. But really, other than those two times... Well there was that time when that tarantula crawled inside my pants... All right, so that last one never happened. And the first two weren't all that bad anyway. It was a really, really great time.

Kelsey and I went out to Joshua Tree for a couple nights of camping the last weekend of her spring break. It's a wonderful place, so unique... well, because of the Joshua Trees and all. Perhaps not creatively named, but unique nonetheless. It's east of LA in the high desert and famous for rock climbing, Joshua Trees (duh), and rock stars staying in sleazy motels and doing all sorts of drugs. Also it can get really really cold, really really hot, or really really windy. Though Kelsey may tell you it got really really cold, that was not the one (of three) extremity it reached. It did get windy, but only for about 15% of the time we were there. And mostly at night. Which isn't so bad, but it's hard to sleep when your tent is doing this:

Thankfully the second night was dead calm and the sleeping was easy. And though Kelsey did burn her hand, it was for a good cause: my dinner. I'm sure the potatoes would have tasted just as good with or without seared human skin, but I digress. The new cast iron cookware was the bomb, as the kids say, or "le bomb," as the French kids say. So thanks to the parents Brown for those.

Other than eating, we drove around seeing the sights (tried out the 4-wheel, yee haw!), scrambled around on the rocks, took a couple very cool hikes (to some abandoned mines and the best sounding mountain I ever heard of), and enjoyed the scenery and diversity the national park has to offer. Can't wait to do it again!


Desert Queen Mines

meat and potatoes

hike up Ryan Mtn.

Ryan Mtn. hike log

Kelsey at Arch Rock

night falls at Belle Camp

The rest of the pics.