hacker emblem
Search | Tags | Photos | Flights | Gas Mileage | Log in

Christmas (part 3)

Started: 2009-01-12 17:37:14

Submitted: 2009-01-14 13:56:00

Visibility: World-readable

Saturday, 27 December 2008

On Saturday after Christmas, Kiesa and I transitioned from the first phase of our Christmas holiday to the second phase: we drove to Walla Walla to attend my sister's wedding. This involved transiting the Columbia River Gorge on I-84, which can become tricky when wet and icy. I had been monitoring road conditions and weather forecasts on the Internet and concluded that the Gorge would be as good as it was going to get. It was raining as we left Longview; the rain picked up as we skirted the eastern edge of Portland and headed into the Gorge. The road was wet with some standing water, which was about as good as we could ask for in the end of December. As we continued east, the exterior air temperature dropped but remained above freezing.

We pulled into Walla Walla in the middle of a gray December afternoon and headed first to the Marcus Whitman Hotel, where we had reservations for two nights surrounding the wedding. We checked in, checked our e-mail, and enjoyed our last few minutes of downtime before rendezvousing with the rest of my family for the rehearsal.

We headed to Heubach Chapel, adjoining the now-renamed University Church. Kiesa practiced the song she would be playing during the unity sand ceremony; she had been playing it so many times during the past weeks that I thought that actually hearing it during the wedding ceremony would be rather anti-climatic. The rest of my family appeared in waves and we eventually started the rehearsal. Willy and I served as ushers; we were briefed on the complicated order in which we were to seat family at the beginning of the ceremony and escort them out at the end of the ceremony.

During the rehearsal, I didn't feel well. I got a headache and started feeling weak and got chills. I couldn't tell if the chapel was simply cold (it was) or if I was coming down with something. I put my coat on and tried to keep warm. When the rehearsal wound down, I headed to Walmart to pick up echinacea (some research indicates that 750 milligrams, three times a day for a week will boost one's immune system on the onset of a colonization) and picked up a 1/8" audio cable to plug my iPod into my rental Subaru's audio input jack. (I have too many cables meeting that description at home but none with me in Washington.) Willy joined us for the Walmart run; we dropped by our parents' house so he could pick up his notebook to show the slide show he created for the reception. In November, I dug through my archives to find pictures of Bethany; some of my favorites (Bethany setting the breakfast table while talking on the phone with the phone cord wrapped around her legs; Bethany swimming in a frigid Lake Isabelle) made it into the show of Bethany and Josh's childhoods.

As Willy showed off the slide show, I realized I was running a fever. I skipped the rehearsal dinner and sent Kiesa to drop Willy off at the dinner and in search of takeout. I managed to get my food down and settled in for a long uncomfortable night.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

In the morning, I didn't feel quite as nauseated. Kiesa headed out in search of breakfast and returned with an assortment of single-serving packages of applesauce, jell, and fruit -- perfect for rebooting after a short-lived flu. I was pretty sure I would be able to prop myself up for pictures for the wedding that afternoon. I laid low until early afternoon, when I showered and dressed in my rented tuxedo for the wedding. Kiesa had been worried about finding an appropriate dress to wear while six months pregnant; she went shopping just before the wedding and found a dress that fit.

We headed across Walla Walla to Heubach Chapel and joined the somewhat-disorganized collection of people waiting to serve their part in the wedding. Nearly everyone had heard I wasn't feeling well and inquired as to my health. I was feeling better than I had but still not at a hundred percent.

I only ended up in one picture, which seemed a bit lax by the standards of my wedding photos. When guests started arriving, I let Willy seat all the guests; I wasn't up to being an usher at the moment. I did seat my grandparents at the beginning of the ceremony. The ceremony was short; unlike my wedding, the pastor was actually capable of giving a short homily. She started by telling the story of Bethany and Josh's relationship, which began when they met in the SAC. Bethany interrupted and had her explain exactly what the SAC -- the Student Association Center -- meant to those who didn't recognize it.

(During the ceremony, I was worried about the lighting in the chapel; they kept the main lighting off and lit the stage from the back, silhouetting Bethany and Josh and their attendants. I might have opted in favor of a couple of halogen spotlights to illuminate the principals involved. The photographer did seem to have a fast lens with a large f-stop to make the most of poor lighting. I was also worried about color temperature -- the stage itself was lit by fluorescent light, and there was a bit of amber daylight coming in through the tinted windows.)

I made one last appearance as an usher during the recessional to escort the parents and grandparents and dismiss the guests. (Willy and I managed to inadvertently slight Bethany's new mother-in-law by dismissing our grandparents first.) We mingled with family and guests at the back of the chapel and presently headed off for the reception.

It turned out Bethany lacked one of the key ingredients for a proper wedding: The marriage license. It started the day in her computer case but she pulled out a stack of papers she didn't need, which happened to include the marriage license. I recruited Willy for help getting into our parents' house, where I searched the room she had been staying in for the Manila envelope. It was not on the dresser as I had been told; instead, it was on the floor of the closet under a stack of papers. With the license in hand, we headed to the Marcus Whitman Hotel for the reception.

The dinner reception featured an extensive buffet, including roasted potatoes cut to look like mushrooms. (Kiesa is happy to eat potatoes shaped like mushrooms, but not mushrooms themselves.) Bethany had an ice cream cake, an Adventist toast (sparkling juice instead of champagne), and Adventist dancing (a bunch of people trying to dance but not really knowing how). Bethany clearly led Josh on their dance, then Josh fled the dance floor and found interesting people to talk to in the furthest corner of the room. Grandma Logan drug me out on the dance floor for once dance, just as Kiesa was heading off to vegetate in our room, having had enough of the reception for one night. (It was very handy to have the reception in the same hotel we were staying in, just downstairs from our room.)

Bethany and Josh made their dramatic exit under a shower of lavender, provided by her French professor's lavender farm, and looped around to another entrance to the hotel. (No one suspected anything, though I'm still afraid to ask if the attendants performed any mischief.)

As the reception wound down, Bethany's iTunes (playing the soundtrack for the dance portion of the evening) started playing songs about New York. I downloaded "New York, I love you but you're bringing me down" and appended it to the playlist. When it finished, Willy and I were the last two people in the room. We cleaned up Bethany's computer and departed.

We had enough time to head to our parents' house to celebrate Christmas. Willy changed out of his tuxedo into a shirt reading "Katmandu", which made the "Free Tibet with purchase of Katmandu" bumper sticker I found him that much more appropriate.

Monday, 29 December 2008

On our last day in the Pacific Northwest, I checked my e-mail while eating breakfast at the hotel (I had been having trouble getting a DHCP connection from the wireless in the room, but the wireless at breakfast worked fine) and we packed up to drive to Portland and fly home. I felt much better than I had but I still had a persistent cough. Our first stop was my parents' house, where we showed up much earlier than the designated 1100 rendezvous for breakfast to weigh our suitcases to figure out whether they were over-weight or not. (These days 50 pounds counts as "overweight" on Frontier.) We had two suitcases and a non-trivial number of gifts to drag back. In this era of decreasing baggage allowances, I need to spend more time reminding everyone that small gifts are good.

We ate brunch with my parents and all of the out-of-town guests they could find. Bethany and Josh dropped by on their way out of town; it seemed especially brave for Josh to show up at his new in-law's house less than twenty-four hours after the wedding.

Kiesa and I departed Walla Walla at 1300 and headed west to Portland. I finally had the opportunity to use the 1/8" iPod cable I acquired on Saturday night, which worked great, providing the soundtrack for our trip along the Columbia River. The weather was nearly perfect; the roads were clear and dry until The Dalles, when the weather turned slightly rainy but never threatened our progress.

We arrived in Portland in the middle of rush hour during a light drizzle with nearly two hours left before we needed to be at the airport. We got the brilliant idea to visit the nearest Babies R Us to look at cribs and strollers, which turned out to be in Clackamas. This involved fighting traffic on I-205. The snow had melted since the last time I was in Portland, making traversing the surface streets much easier. We found an array of nearly-identical cribs and tried to figure out how we were supposed to differentiate between them. The strollers were a bit more identifiable but still gave us very little to go on; none of them inspired us. Between studying the cribs and strollers, I returned to the car for a snack to fend off calorie crash. (Calorie crash while shopping is a very bad thing.)

We continued to the airport but had to find a gas station first. We expected to find a large collection of overpriced gas stations on the Airport exit but there were none to be found; we eventually located a Costco a few miles away; my Costco card came in handy.

While checking in at the airport, my large suitcase came in three pounds over-weight. (It was hard to get a consistent reading on the bathroom scale we used that morning at my parents' house.) I shrugged and pulled the suitcases open and tried to swap stuff to get us under-weight. I placed the big suitcase on the scale and it came in at 46.5 pounds, which was much less than I would have expected from how much stuff I took out. As the attendant continued to check me in, I realized my foot was resting on the scale surface on the front of the counter, propping it up and taking four pounds off the weight. I moved my foot and succeeded only in increasing the weight. When I removed my foot, it came in at 50.5 pounds. The attendant didn't know why the number had changed but reluctantly let it pass with an "overweight" tag and no extra fee.

We passed security without incident and found a sandwich shop on Concourse C that seemed less uninspiring than the other options. Our flight was a few minutes late leaving Portland. I rested as well as I could on the plane, having suddenly run out of energy, which was somewhat complicated by the rolls of fat pouring under the armrest from the obese woman sitting next to me. (I usually get window seats since I like to look out the window, but Kiesa demanded an aisle seat, being six months pregnant.)

Our landing in Denver was especially bumpy. We discovered why when we got outside: gusty winds of at least 50 miles an hour. (My neighbor later mentioned he clocked 86 miles in Longmont.) Kiesa grabbed our bags and I rode the shuttle to pick up our car and we headed home, transitioning directly from Christmas to Megafest at 0200. Yanthor was already in bed, having heeded my warning about my possible infectious disease; we greeted Bitscape and headed straight to bed.