Tag Archive | Costa Rica

No. 9

Today John and I celebrate wedding anniversary No. 9. I say “celebrate” it because we had two weddings. I always have to look up the dates to get it right, but we were married here legally in a small, short ceremony on Feb. 19, flew to Costa Rica with our sisters and their hubbies on the 20th, and had a sunset beach ceremony outside our cabanas at El Sano Banano in Montezuma, Costa Rica, on Feb. 21, which was an auspicious day on the Tibetan calendar that year. hug

We wrote our beach vows and brother-in-law Paul wrote and read a poem. Brother-in-law Norm shot photos nonstop. Sisters Kitty and Cathy cried.

This July 21, on what would be my father’s 80th birthday, we’ll celebrate 11 years since we met. That’s an important date too. And if memory holds, John proposed on Nov. 17, 2003.

Next year, for our 10th anniversary, we plan to do something fab – maybe Italy again, from Rome to points south, or India, or who knows where – but this year we’re celebrating in our own neighborhood, at Ciao. That will be fab enough.

Because we’ve got each other and we’re happy about it.

When my kids met John years ago, they said, “Mom is dating Mr. Rogers!” They were happy about it and that was a compliment – we watched and loved dear Fred. And just like Mr. Rogers, John loves unconditionally. That’s too rare a trait.

Ben said just the other day that he and Liz hit the stepdad jackpot with John. You can imagine how happy that made me and how humbled and thrilled John felt to hear it (later, from me).

After surviving a bad one and living a good one, here’s what I know about landing in and maintaining a happy marriage:

Know each other well BEFORE you get married. That takes time. You’ll still get surprises but maybe no shocks.

Take the person you marry as he/she is. Spouses are not home-improvement projects, and if you marry someone thinking you’ll change him, you are doing yourself and your loved one a major disservice. And you really don’t love him if you don’t love him as he is.

But know that people change over time and that you’d better be able to roll with it.

Talk things out. Speak up if something’s troubling you. Nothing’s worse than letting a problem fester. Yuck. You’ll just get a marital boil.

But let the little things go. You’ll drive each other crazy at times. That’s normal.

And, if you get married as an older couple, as we did (48 and 52), don’t assume you’ll get a 25th anniversary – use every opportunity to make a date special.

That’s about all I know to say.

I love you, John. 

Paul, John and I – the officiant and the newlyweds – after the ceremony.

Paul, John and I – the officiant and the newlyweds – after the ceremony.

Cathy and Kitty cried through the ceremony. It was sweet.

Cathy and Kitty cried through the ceremony. It was sweet.



The after-party on our cabana porch, including Norm.

The after-party on our cabana porch, including Norm, since John manned the camera.

Head over heels

John and I are in the middle of our three-day anniversary trifecta. Eight years have passed since we tied the knot and almost 10 since we fell head over heels.

We were legally married at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist in a brief after-work ceremony attended by my kids, a couple of their friends and a couple of our friends. That was Feb.19, 2004.

The next day, our sisters and their husbands and John and I headed to Costa Rica, then on Feb. 21, an auspicious day for 2004 on the Zen calendar, we had another private ceremony on the beach in front of El Sano Banano cottages in Montezuma with vows we wrote.

Newlyweds relaxing on their El Sano Banano cottage porch.

The bride and groom wore red for the beach ceremony. My daughter also wore a red dress for her wedding, as did my paternal grandmother, though we just found that out a couple of years ago.

The bride lost her passport and driver’s license in a purse theft on that wedding trip and had to get home post 9/11 with no ID, which is another story.

John proposed most prettily at Brave New Restaurant, the place we went for our first “fancy” date. We’ve celebrated several anniversaries there. But last night we celebrated at one of our new favorites, Curry in a Hurry, which recently moved from a less-than-desirable location on Pike Avenue in NLR to the former Amruth in the Market Street Plaza off Rodney Parham.

(The sign still says “Amruth.” It will change next month. If you haven’t been to Brave or Curry in a Hurry, you must.)

In eight years, we’ve acquired a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law, both of whom we love, and the three grandchildren who rock our world. We’ve gained our Tess, lost our beloved Toby, and had big little Zuzu join our family.

If you could observe how much Zuzu is like dearly departed Toby, you’d believe “A Dog’s Purpose” is nonfiction.  Hard to imagine life without her, just as it’s hard to remember a time before John.

Seems like we’ve been together forever, in a good way.


On a blog housekeeping note, I’ve been debating giving up the song title/link to a music video theme. John’s married to the idea, though, and says it would be a shame to give it up.

What do you think? How many of you click on the links to listen to music while you read? Do you like them? Would you miss them? Have you noticed them? (Anything underlined is a hyperlink to either a song or more information on a subject.)

I’m still mulling it over and would appreciate your input/feedback.




If I fell …

This picture, sits (largely unnoticed these days) in our kitchen, but it’s from the giddy early days of dating  just over nine years ago, when we were deciding how safe it was if we fell for each other.

We were giddy, but we were cautious, too, but we pretty quickly realized there was no danger because we’d always be there to catch each other. We got married about a year and a half later.

Taking a miracle like happy, healthy love for granted is easy when you live with it day in and day out. We shouldn’t.

Our friend who took this very picture and teased us unmercifully about being giddy and gaggy is in the same predicament herself these days. (You know who you are, and we’re very happy for you. Giddy and gaggy is a good thing.)

I could say we got married in a fever, but that would be a lie because it hasn’t burned out. We did get married twice, though, once in Little Rock, to get the legalities out of the way, and again on a beach on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica in front of our sisters and their husbands with vows we wrote together.

Brother Paul (my sister’s wonderful husband) read a poem he wrote for us. The sisters cried. We cried. The brothers-in-law even got teary.

Kitty, Norm, Paul and Cathy helped us celebrate our new life together.

In just over a month, Kitty and Norm, Cathy and Paul, and John and I are hitting the beaches together again – Mayan ruins in 2012, baby. We’re not scared, though we are going in January rather than December. You know, just in case.

I’m ever so glad to be traveling, but John, as I’m sure you know, I’m happy just to dance through life with you.

Consider this a little early Christmas cheer from me to you.

I fall to pieces

This morning while scrambling around atop a 12-foot ladder touching up spots where pure white still showed through Violet Essence (Behr ceiling paint), then brushing deep purple Mardi Gras* over the coverage gaps under the crown molding, I wondered at my intermittent fear of heights.

(*By all means, go for Behr Plus premium paint and primer all in one when painting with deep colors. It is worth the price.)

This morning said fear was nowhere to be found, which is usually the case when I’m painting. But on occasion, I’ve been known to fall to pieces over fear of falling.

When I paint, I’ve been known to dangle by one foot from a rung of a ladder atop a set of stairs – or worse – and being an ambidextrous painter, I can really contort to reach spots. You do what you’ve got to do.

(Tess worries about both John and I when we get too high or in precarious positions. Yesterday she scolded us a couple of times, then shook her head and went downstairs. When we’re being too foolhardy, she can’t bear to watch.)

Pam and I loved to climb atop the framing for new houses when we were in junior high and Indian Hills was being built up around us, and when we were ready to get down, it was via leaping onto sandpiles down below.

Scared? Not us. We’d also climb trees like boys, something I did my whole youthful life.

But on occasion, paralysis strikes. One summer my project was painting the back of this three-story house – the historically correct khaki had to go, replaced by a lovely historically correct taupe. (Historic district rules rule when it comes to the exterior.) The dangling from a ladder to reach that last tiny spot right … over … there… didn’t bother me, but I spent an afternoon stuck on the laundry room roof when I couldn’t see the ladder to climb down.

I’d gotten up there just fine, but something about reaching my foot blindly for a ladder leaning against the wall – well, it just wasn’t happening that day. John couldn’t hear me calling him, so I just hung out until he came and found me.

That was mild. I really got myself into a predicament in the attic a few years ago. Actually, the attic was in the process of being converted into a third-story loft bedroom, and it had no floor – just beams and a piece of plywood here and there.

What happened was I’d been searching everywhere for something so important that I can’t remember what it was. As I was reading the paper one Sunday morning, I had an “Aha!” moment – it was in the attic! John was out of town for work, but it couldn’t wait, so I went running upstairs, barefoot with ankle-length, heavy pink terry bathrobe flying.

I ran up the rickety, leaning original (circa 1895) attic stairs, sans handrail, and across a beam to a plywood patch. I quickly found the mystery object, then turned around, looked down, and realized what I’d done. Gulp. The floor was about 14 feet below. I froze.

No cell phone, no shoes. Damn. I tried to think what to do. I knew I couldn’t get back across if I couldn’t breathe, so sitting down and breathing was the first thing to do. Then thinking came next.

Nothing came to me. After a while, I knew I had to get back to the stairs, so I tried a tentative step. My heavy robe wobbled. Off it came – I think I dropped it to the floor below, but I know I stood there buck naked. My next thought was, “Great, now if I fall and die, whoever finds me will think I’m a nudist maniac.”

At least I’d be dead.

Standing around naked will get you moving, so that worked to my advantage. I took a deep breath, held it, and scrambled back across a beam as fast as I could. Made it fine with nary a wobble. But it took my heart a while to quit thumping.

John hadn’t witnessed my occasional panics before it happened in Costa Rica during our first-anniversary trip. We’d decided to go to Boca del Toro in Panama, but when we got to the border crossing at the Sixaola River border crossing bridge, we knew something was amiss. Traffic was at a standstill.

Sixaola Costa Rica/Panama border crossing

That’s because the bridge across the river had a big hole in it. (Remember the old poster, “Bridge Out”? The one that said, “Oh, shit”? I had it in my bedroom as a teen, and that was my reaction to this bridge’s hole.)

Crossing into Panama on this day required navigating a hole in the bridge.

We were escorted from immigration to the bridge and told to walk across a beam. A BEAM over a deep ravine next to a rain-swollen rushing river. Hah!

My agile, youthful, older (by 4 ½ years) husband grabbed our backpack, scampered across and turned back to me with a look of surprise that I hadn’t followed him. “Come on, Laura,” he said. “It’s easy.”

“No,” I replied. “Nope, that won’t be happening. I’m not coming.”

John grew alarmed at my stubbornness, and everyone else grew annoyed. All the Tico and Panamanian workers talked about la señora being loca, but I didn’t care. I was frozen. It was a beam covered in mud and slime, and mist was falling from the sky. No way was I walking across that expanse. It was a mile wide.

Not really, but it might as well have been. From the picture, you can see that it wasn’t even that long. But it was much deeper a drop than the angle of the photos show.

That hole in the bridge felt a mile wide.

Finally a nice señor came over and offered me his mud-covered forearm as he stood on a lower beam. What could I do? I rested my hand on his arm (OK, death-clinched his arm), held my purse close to me and walked gingerly across, John coaching, “Don’t look  down!” the whole time.

I might have whacked him with my purse when we got across. But he took learning that his bride could be mulish quite well. The trip to Panama went downhill from there, but that’s a story for another time.

This is about heights and painting and labors of love. Fortunately I’m a scaffolder’s wife, because we’ve got a cathedral ceiling that needs painting in our future.