19 years on

This picture has a story behind it.  


Well, I mean, yes. This was our wedding day, one-year-minus-one-day after we met, and six months after I asked her parents for their blessing to marry this beautiful girl that had become my best friend.  

But that's not the story. That's story. It's a good story. But look at the car for a second. 

We were getting married in the San Francisco area. My Bride was finishing up at UC Santa Cruz. I was finishing up at the Defense language school in Monterey. Neither of us were in San Francisco much. So a lot of the planning was happening by phone. 

At one point, my mother and I were talking on the phone.  

"It's a long way across the country," she said. (She's a smart lady, my Mom. You can't slip anything by her). 

(Hi, Mom!) 

"Yep. But it's pretty out here. And her family has a baker's dozen worth of aunts and uncles, plus a couple of hundred cousins. I think. I haven't met them all. I'm sure you will like them."  

"I'm sure I will. But you know. It's pretty far."

"Uh-huh. But since there's only you two, plus Bro & Sis on my side... well, I appreciate you helping to balance out our side of the church."  

"Yes. I am sure it will be pretty. But ... I don't know. Couldn't you do it someplace more - I don't know - in the middle?"

"In the middle? Like what: Arkansas? We're not going to Arkansas to get married. We're probably not going to Arkansas ever. What the hell are you on about. There are four of you. There are dozens of them. Get your butts on a plane and come see your best looking son get hitched, old woman."  

She did, of course. And she looked gorgeous, and we had a wonderful wedding dance. 

But that's still not the right story.  

Look at the car in the picture. See that? It's a 1955 Rolls Royce.  

There were a lot of decisions to make for the wedding. I was allowed to make very few of them on my own. I checked in before ticking the box. 

"Would you like the 1961 Cadillac? Or the 1955 Rolls Royce?" 

"Why are you asking me this?" 

"I dunno. It says here we have to choose."  

"No. I mean, why haven't you already chosen the Rolls!? Hello!" 

She was right, of course. She still is about most things. 

I was 20. I had already made the only choice that mattered to me. To marry this fantastic woman before she came to her senses.  

And that's why I still call her my Bride, 19 years of happiness later. 


Bucket list: see a monkey in the wild - check.

Last month, we went to the Philippines, for two weeks of sunshine, beaches, extended family and relaxation.

I took a lot of pictures. It was almost intimidating to sort through them all. So I'll let you do that.  Click any of the photos to see the expanded set. 


There was a lot of beach time.  It's a country of islands. Drive a bit in any direction from wherever you are, and you're going to hit a beach. 

We took full advantage.



But there are other things to see. We hit four or five islands - Bohol was probably our favorite. It's a mid-sized island someplace in the middle of the country without  any major cities on it. It has things like ancient coral hills (the Chocolate hills) and the world's smallest primate to see. 




We also hit Cebu (briefly) on our way to Boracay, and then back up to Manila, the local Chinatown, where we ate food being sold by people in small carts. 

There was a lot of excellent food eaten on this trip. 



But maybe the best thing eaten was the grilled chicken intestine on a stick ('isaw').  By the Boy. Who forced his mother to trade his other options so he could have more. 


That many islands required a lot of schlepping around. In various means of transportation.



Ok. I admit. It was mostly boats.

But I know you. You've only been looking at these pictures waiting to see the wild monkeys. That's ok. I'd be the same.  But first: drag dancers on a beach throwing fire.

 The kids were fascinated by this show. I couldn't drag them off the beach. About a half hour into it, I asked the Critter if she knew that these weren't really ladies, in the makeup, with the bikinis. Her jaw dropped onto the sand. 

Ladies, men or something else - the show was definitely worth watching. 

OK, ok. Now, monkeys:



I made them stop the van so that I could get out and take that picture. My Bride's cousin came out with me. 

I took some pictures of this group of monkeys sitting idly by the roadside. I took a few steps closer and took some more picture. I took a few steps closer again, and brought my camera up. I asked my cousin: "Hey - is this monkey gonna charge if I get too close?"  "I don't know, bro. But if he does, I'm tripping you and running back to the van."

Thanks, cuz.

Eventually, we had to head home. It was a fantastic trip and worth repeating. 

After all, there are still 7,000 islands we haven't seen.