Monday, May 22, 2006

Happy anniversary to us!

Yep, Mary has put up with me for fifteen years now.

Before we were married, I told her "Stick with me, kid. We'll have adventures!" So far, we haven't been lacking in that area.

Actually, our anniversary was yesterday. I started to write this post then, but it got to be too late. You see, after church, we spent the day shoveling poop.

Actually, I used the little tiller to chew up and mix up the year's accumulation of litter and manure. Then, we shoveled it out and are using it to make a red neck strawberry pyramid, and will also be using it to make red neck raised beds in the garden.

But I'll write about that some other time. Today, I am going to write about how we managed to get together. What's even more important is how we managed to stay together, but that's a much bigger and more difficult subject. It will definitely come up some time soon.

Once upon a time, I worked for a software development company called System Solvers, Limited. They wrote custom software, modified the software from another company, and sold two different software products that they wrote themselves. One of my first jobs was to modify and upgrade a product known as dSalon.

Yah, I know it's kind of a geeky name for a beauty salon management package, but that's what it was called. The "d" part was stuck on the front like the "i" is stuck on the front of some Apple products. The "d" is there because it was written in a database language. Get it? "d" For Database?

Yah, I know. Geeky. But hey, I already told you that.

Anyhow, after I finished the job, the sales manager talked the owners of the company into doing something new and fantastic. They all decided to write a manual that can be read and comprehended by a normal human being (whatever that is).

They knew that I had worked as a technical writer, but they decided to hire someone else anyhow. They ended up hiring Madeline, for which I am eternally grateful.

In the process of writing the manual, Madeline and I spent quite a bit of time together. I explained the intent of the software, she ran it, then she wrote it up. I read the manual to make sure that covered what it was supposed to cover. I don't remember if she found any errors in the process of testing the software, but I would guess that she must have. It was a pretty big package.

After we got to know each other, and after she found out that I was single and looking, she told me about one of her best friends from high school. Mary wasn't really looking at the time, but she agreed to a date.

So, we met via a blind date.

I rang her doorbell (actually, an obnoxious buzzer), and was met by a big, black Doberman mix named Sheba. Mary gave me a dog biscuit that I could use to bribe her mutt. I guess Mary decided that I must be OK because her dog liked me.

We went to a corner booth in a place called The Eatery (I know... very creative and original) and took a couple hours to get to know each other.

When we tried to set up the next date, Mary told me that she had volunteered to help at the South Oakland Shelter -- a roving homeless shelter that her church was sponsoring that week. Not to be deterred easily, I volunteered to help right along side her.

The next weekend, we went on the kind of date that I like. I took her canoing to Proud Lake, which is North-West of Detroit. I provided the transportation, canoe, paddles, life vests, snorkeling gear, and lunch (macaroni salad, snacks, etc.)

I can't say that I planned it that way, but a happy side-effect of a date on the lake is that I got to see Mary in a swimsuit.

While out on the water, I decided to toss a pretzel to the Canadian gees and their goslings. I kept tossing them closer and closer to the canoe, until I finally got them to take the pretzels out of my hand. Then, I put a pretzel between my lips and let the goose take it. I don't know if Mary was impressed or not.

We went to the bridge dam, where the lake empties into the head waters of the Huron River. There is an area where the water is somewhere between bellybutton and chest deep -- just perfect for learning how to snorkel.

I put on my mask and snorkel and showed Mary how to lay face-down and breathe through the snorkel, and how to clear the snorkel when it fills with water.

She tried it, but panicked. She later told me that she now has a whole new understanding of the patients who have to breathe through a tube.

I picked her up and held her as she caught her breath and relaxed. Who was I to complain about having to hold on to this wet girl in a swimsuit?

(And no, I didn't plan it that way.)

That was just the first of many adventures. They weren't always fun, but they were definitely adventures.

Now, Mary's perspective:

We met on a blind date set up by an old high school friend of Mary's who was working with Ray at the time. Within three weeks, we went on our first camping trip together accompanied by Sheba, Mary's dog, and a group of folks from St. James church. We dated for three years before we were married in 1994.

Fifteen years, three sons, and a few dogs (and other assorted animals) later, we are still together. I guess we take seriously that stuff in the vows about "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health," because we've been through a little of all that stuff and the grief that goes along with it.

Today, after church we spent the rest of the day working on our homemade strawberry pyramid. Let's hope the berries grow in it as well as the ones in the fancy pyramids you see in the seed catalogs. Tonight, we get a little couple time together now that the kids are in bed. Dr. Tim would be happy with that, I think. See, even though we're still together we still had some bumpy spots along the way. Life can be like that. It's part of the adventures.

The gratuitous image of the day is a big black beaver.

OK, it's Lucy, our Labrador Retriever. During the nine months that we lived at my parents' cottage, that dog was in the lake just about every day. About the only thing that kept her out was the ice -- and she even fell through that once.


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