I’ve been working at UAS (in my present role as Digital Media Specialist) for almost four years now. For the last three, I’ve managed to schedule my annual leave in mid-August… just in time to miss Convocation. I wasn’t actively trying to skip out on the returning faculty members and the ensuing ITS meetings that surround them. It was just a coincidence. Swear.
So here it is, my fourth year, and it looks like I’m finally going to be in town for Convocation. I figure my boss is going to be happy – he’s been ribbing me all this time because I (and my position) still haven’t been formally introduced to the faculty at large.
Oh, but of course there was a snag! Two years ago, the big reason to take some vacation time was for my wedding and subsequent honeymoon. It never occurred to me that getting married in August would be a problem down the road. I now realize that if I want to take a day off to celebrate with my wife, I would more than likely have to find a way out of three days of meetings.
Fortunately, that didn’t turn out to be much of a problem. I approached my boss last week and asked him if he had a Convocation schedule. He did, and the whole department was allotted just 45 minutes to talk about the new technologies and procedures that we’d be bringing to campus this fall. Obviously he didn’t need me to hop up there on the podium with him, so I quickly followed up with, “Great! Can I have half of Tuesday off?”
Oksana was going to be pretty busy at work, too, since a coworker was going to be on vacation. She didn’t think she could justify taking a whole day off, so we talked about a half-day instead. Besides, who were we kidding? If we took the whole day off, we’d just end up sleeping ‘til noon, anyway!
With our bosses’ approval gained, we were ready to make the best of our second anniversary on August 17th.
I was scheduled to get off work at noon, but early that morning I thought it might be nice to surprise Oksana with flowers. I went to work about 10 minutes early just so I could leave a bit before noon and have enough time to get to the store and back. I rushed over to Safeway, picked up a bouquet of mixed flowers, and rushed them back home. Shouldn’t have worried about it, though, because Oksana didn’t get home until almost 12:45pm.
When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw Rick and Papo hanging out in the Fisherman’s Bend parking lot. I left the flowers in the car and got out to chat with him for a bit. It was a beautiful day, sunny and quite warm, and since I hadn’t seen him for awhile, we had a lot of catching up to do. About the time Oksana drove up, he was just about to head down to his boat to relax for awhile.
Rick had been working his butt off this summer on his Shelter Island cabin, restoring the rotting deck of his sailboat, and entertaining visiting family members. He was looking forward to some alone time, but that didn’t stop him from inviting us down to see his newly restored boat. Before heading down there, though, I took my backpack upstairs and gave Oksana her flowers. Rick used that opportunity to try out some of Oksana’s homemade caviar.
After that, we walked down the dock to see Rick’s new boat. The inside was still a bit torn up, but the decking looked great. I lamented the fact that I hadn’t had a chance to go sailing with him this year and we resolved to find a free weekend. Then, while Oksana and I took pictures, Rick tossed a stick in the water for Papo to fetch. He’s fearless, jumping from the dock, but definitely needs some help to get out.
After we left Rick to his self, Oksana and I decided to go out for lunch. We walked down to the Thai restaurant and waited through the typical seating process. I got my spicy pork with green beans and Oksana ordered some spring rolls. We had a nice, unhurried lunch together – something we don’t often get to do during the workweek.
After lunch, our stomachs warmly doing that digesting thing they do, Oksana decided that a nap was in order. I’m not the kind of guy that turns down a nap, so we went home and zonked out for a couple hours.
Shortly after waking up, we got a call from Oksana’s niece, Lena. She had spent the night at a friend’s house and was planning to stay the night again, but first she needed to pick up some clothes. Oksana agreed to go get her, I went along for the ride, but we didn’t hurry.
First stop, Safeway. Sunny days always raise the temperature in our apartment and it was currently about 85 degrees inside. I wanted something to cool me down, and Oksana liked my recommendation: Premium Ginger Beer served with chipped ice and lime wedges. We made a beeline to the health food section and picked up a six-pack. Before leaving the store, though, we started thinking about dinner. Oksana had brought home some fresh halibut from work and we decided to try making some halibut soft tacos. To our list tartar sauce, shredded cheese, green peppers, and some other stuff was added.
We were still heading in the general direction to pick up Lena, but we stopped off at Blockbuster to rent a couple movies. I’d been hearing good things about The Bourne Supremacy, but hadn’t seen the original, so I got The Bourne Identity. Oksana wanted to watch The Butterfly Effect. I had my doubts about Ashton Kutcher, but liked the sci-fi overtones, so we agreed to rent that, too.
Finally, we picked up Lena, brought her home to get her clothes, and then took her back to her friend’s house. The rest of the evening would be our own.
It was still too early for dinner, so we started watching The Butterfly Effect. About halfway through, Oksana got up to cook the halibut and when that was done we paused the movie again to make our tacos together. We finished the movie, eating some very tasty creations – something that I know we’ll make more of in the future.
After dinner, we decided to try a piece of our wedding cake. We were out of town for our first anniversary, so the top tier of our wedding cake has been buried in the freezer, sealed in a Tupperware container, for 730 days now. I had my doubts that it would still be edible, but we had moved it from the freezer to the ‘fridge the day before “just in case.”
When we opened the container, it didn’t look pretty. Much of the icing had sloughed off, exposing the cake beneath. The round Tupperware container was only slightly larger than the round cake itself and it was difficult to get a spatula underneath it. We managed, though, and only lost some more frosting in the process. It hardly looked like a cake at all when we finally got it on a plate.
Oksana and I sliced into it just as we did on our wedding day – holding on to the knife together. We cut small pieces because we weren’t sure if it was going to be edible. While Oksana finished preparing our dessert plates, I opened a bottle of Russian champagne that we’d received as a wedding gift (Thank you, Thane and Yana!) A quick toast to many more years of happiness later, we took a sip and steeled ourselves for freezer-burn-cake-taste.
It only took one bite to realize that it tasted just as good as it did two years before! The cake was still fluffy, the raspberry filling delicious, and even the icing – once it was smeared back on with a fork – had kept its consistency and taste. Refrigeration and Tupperware, what a combination!
Unfortunately, our anniversary was on a weeknight, so we couldn’t stay up all night. We rounded out our celebration of two, wonderful years of marriage by finishing off the whole bottle of champagne and, perhaps because of that, managed to get to bed relatively early.
That would have been it, if not for this short epilogue: Around 3:30am we were woken by a huge crashing sound. Hoping for yet a fourth thunderstorm this summer, we jumped out of bed and threw on some clothes to go see for ourselves. Sure enough, as soon as we opened the front door, a huge spider web of lightning bolts criss-crossed the sky over Auke Bay! Seconds later, our house rattled with a second echoing boom… I tried to set up my camera on the porch, but by the time it was ready, the show was already over. There were only five-or-so big lightning discharges that night, but that was more than enough to put a fine exclamation point on our Cotton Anniversary.