Norma and me posing for wedding photos



Last updated November 22, 2012



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Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Day Six | Day Seven | Day Eight | Day Nine | Day Ten | Day Eleven | Day Twelve | Day Thirteen | Day Fourteen

Norma and I first met each other on May 31, 2006. Since then, my life has been one big joyous adventure. One such adventure was our Maine 2011 vacation. Prior to and during that trip, I thought a lot about our lives and how we were meant to be together. So immediately upon returning home, I got down on bended knee and popped the question. She didn't want an engagement ring so instead I gave her earrings made from abalone shells. It seemed like a fitting gift since we spend so much time on the water. Her reply, much to my relief, was "yes."

The date of the wedding ceremony was set for October 7, 2012. The location would be her family farm. Invitations were sent out and plans were made. She selected and worked with the caterers and cake decorators. She arranged for table and chair rentals. I created an entertaining slideshow documenting our lives. I also took care of the music. The two of us and her family put a lot of work into getting the farm ready for our big event. I won't bore you with all the details. But I will say that it was a major undertaking...and it was worth every minute of preparation.

Day One, Sunday, September 30, 2012

Prior to and after the actual wedding, we had several guests. Our first was Angelika from Germany, who has known Norma since high school. She lived at the farm for three weeks as part of an exchange student program. Coming from a farming background, the two of them really hit it off. Since then, Norma has visited Angelika in Germany where she now works as a medical doctor. Returning for Norma's and my wedding is only Angelika's second visit to the states. We wanted this to be every bit as good as the first.

First, we decided to show Angelika a bit of our town, Savage. In my opinion, one of the most scenic parts is the Savage Mill Trail which parallels the Little Patuxent River. See photo at left.
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After our little walk, Norma took Angelika to Meridian Hill Park (first photo) where they joined others to wish Norma's friend, Aimee, a final farewell before her relocation to Texas. At the park, Angelika saw a drumming circle, which she had never seen before. See second photo. Being the quick learner that she is, she got the hang of it then jumped right in as a participant (third photo).

Later that night, they went out to dinner at Busboys and Poets. Aimee is second from the left in the fourth photo.

I am guilty of not attending Aimee's event. It was a fine day to be outside and one of the last that I might have to spend on the water for some time. I typically get out on the water once a week so being on land for two straight weeks is not easy for me. Thus, I spent the afternoon with my Yolo Prowler stand-up paddleboard (SUP) on the Patuxent River. See my Hall Creek blog. After that, my batteries were recharged and I was ready for anything.
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Day Two, Monday, October 1, 2012

I mentioned that our wedding ceremony would be on October 7. But we decided to get the legal part out of the way first.

Our original goal was to do like my good friend Mike B. did at his wedding on December 31, 2011. He chose his best man, Wayne G., to "officiate" the ceremony. This is a big college word that means Wayne took the role of a minister and wed Mike and his now wife Suzanne. Wayne signed the paperwork, making the whole marriage legal in the state of California.

But Norma and I were not to be wed in California so things weren't quite so simple. We could have had a non-minister work through an organization on-line to become a minister for a day so they would marry us. But I was strongly against that since I felt there were too many things that could go wrong. I also know that the government doesn't do well when handling things out of the ordinary so it was best to just keep things simple.

Thus, we made an appointment several days prior then went to the courthouse in Ellicott City. That morning, we were legally wed with Angelika as our witness. See first photo. Outside of the courthouse, we posed for another photo (second photo).

In the eyes of the law, we were married on October 1. But we would celebrate on October 7, when we were to be married in the eyes of our family and friends.
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As a little mini-celebration, we drove a very short distance to the historic section of Ellicott City. We stopped at a little French cafe the walked around a bit. See first photo.

We walked across a bridge over the Patapsco River. Looking down, we saw several rocks arranged in the shape of a heart, about 9 feet wide (second photo). I tried to tell Norma I came out the night before and did that but I couldn't say it with a straight face.
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I headed off to work while Norma and Angelika went shopping to prepare for the wedding. In the photo at left, Norma holds small pumpkins to be used as table decorations.
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Day Three, Tuesday, October 2, 2012

While I worked, Norma did some wedding shopping while Angelika went to Washington D.C. for the day to do some sightseeing. She took the MARC Train to Union Station then set out on foot to explore.

She went into the Botanic Gardens building where she saw a plethora of exotic plants and flowers, including some interesting aquatic plants. See photo at left.

Inspired by the Botanic Gardens, Angelika came home to help Norma in her herb garden.
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Day Four, Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Norma and Angelika headed out to visit Norma's mother, Hazel.

The house seemed too quiet when I got home, except for Asha (Norma's cat) who doesn't shut up until she gets what she wants.

Norma worked on the wedding text that would be read during the ceremony. We spoke and I gave my input. Then I made some revisions and forwarded it onto our maid of honor and best man.

Day Five, Thursday, October 4, 2012

Much to my relief, everyone seemed perfectly fine with the revisions I made to the wedding text. Whew!

Norma and Angelika went to the farm to get things in order. A week prior, Norma, her family, and I cut grass, pulled weeds, cleaned out the barn, and put up lights.

Today, the two of them got tables and chairs arranged and took care of other stuff in the barn. See first photo.

Angelika hadn't been to the farm for about 25 years. She currently lives on a farm with several animals so she has a deep appreciation for rural life. I'm sure seeing the dogs, Frida and Chloe (second photo) and the goats (third photo) made her feel a little closer to home.
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Back in Savage, I worked and then went to Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport to pick up my parents.

Work didn't go so well as I left things feeling undone. Not a good way to start a full week off from work.

That night, Norma called sounding a little distressed. The barn swallows have several nests along the ridgeline at highest part of the barn. This passes directly over the center of the area we planned to have the reception. Needless to say, they crap alot. Norma explained the problem to me but I felt rather helpless, not being there to see the actual problem. So I told her to talk to her brother-in-law Jimmy who is quite clever and would surely find a solution.

I reassured her that it would all work out fine, even if it rained on our wedding day...and there was a 50% chance of that. I also told her what Stacy wrote to me...that if things don't work out as planned, it will give us something to laugh about in the future. I also mentioned that Janie told me that rain on our wedding day is good luck. It rained on her wedding day and this month she celebrates 10 years of wedded bliss. For awhile, there was even a small chance of snow for our big day which Janie said was extra lucky. But I think she was just trying to make me think positive.

Day Six, Friday, October 5, 2012

Norma, Angelika, and Hazel did more work to get the farm ready. See first photo.

Perhaps the main reason Norma wanted to get married at the farm in the autumn is because of the fall colors. We would have guests from Germany, Japan, and California. Many of them have never seen the striking beauty of the foliage at this time of year. For most of Maryland, the colors aren't so spectacular. But the farm is at the extreme westernmost side of the state, at an elevation of about 2350 feet, and usually 10 degrees cooler than Baltimore. Hence, the autumn starts sooner and yields colors that one would expect further north. See second photo.
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While Hazel and Angelika spent time at the farm, Norma drove out to Dulles Airport to pick up her guests from Japan: Hitomi, Ikuyo, and Sonomi (Ikuyo's daughter). It was a long drive there and then back to Garrett County (where the motel, Hazel, and the farm reside). I'm estimating she spent six hours behind the wheel that day. By the time she was done and settled into the Casselman Inn in Grantsville, she deserved a nice glass of wine. See photo at left.
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I didn't have anything special planned for my parents. Mom told me I was free to go into work if I wanted. I took her up on that and got in a few hours, finishing the task I left yesterday. With that off my chest, I knew I would enjoy my time off a lot more.

Mom and Dad took it easy, looking at Norma's garden and going for a short walk in the neighborhood.

Once I got home, I took Mom for another walk. Dad was all walked out so he stayed home.

My cousin Steve and old friend Ken flew in later. Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication, they rented a car and drove out to the Casselman Inn that night, expecting me to be there. I, however, would not arrive until the next day.

Day Seven, Saturday, October 6, 2012

My folks and I were up early and on the road shortly after, heading to Grantsville. We arrived at the Casselman Inn just as Norma, Hazel, Hitomi, Ikuyo, Sonomi, Ken, and Steve were finishing up breakfast. This was my first time meeting Ikuyo and Sonomi.

Our convoy made its way to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. Norma and I have spent a lot of time here hiking, bicycling, and cross country skiing. Our last visit here was June 16, 2012 when we biked the Great Allegheny Passage. It would have been nice to spend more time here today but we had a lot to see and do. So instead, we pulled into a parking lot then walked a short distance to the Youghiogheny River (Yough) to catch some views. We saw a group of whitewater rafters getting ready to launch. It seemed a little too cold to really enjoy such a trip but at least they were dressed appropriately. See Ken and Steve on the Yough in the first and second photos.

We pulled into town, parked, then walked out onto the bridge that passes over the Yough (third photo).
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Our next stop was Fallingwater. My last trip there was October 6, 2007, exactly 5 years ago, with my parents. But today, they and Hazel opted not to join in, instead heading off to the Springs Folk Festival in Pennsylvania.

What is Fallingwater?
Fallingwater is the name of a very special house that is built over a waterfall. Frank Lloyd Wright, Americaís most famous architect, designed the house for his clients, the Kaufmann family. Fallingwater was built between 1936 and 1939. It instantly became famous, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.
- from What is Fallingwater?

Mike and Suzanne met us at the house and joined us for the tour.

We weren't permitted to take photos in the house on the guided tour but we took plenty outside.
  • First photo: Notice how water flows beneath the cantilevered house.
  • Second photo: Classic view from the other side.
  • Third photo: From left to right is Sonomi, Norma in blue, Ikuyo (in front), Hitomi (wearing scarf with stripes), and Angelika (in red).
  • Fourth photo: From left to right is Mike, me, Steve, and Ken.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    After our tour, we drove to meet our parents at the Springs Folk Festival. Along the way, we stopped to take pictures of some beautiful fall colors. The sun was playing peek-a-boo with us so we were most appreciative of those moments where it shined brightly, thus making things more vibrant. See first and second photos.
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    At the Springs Folk Festival, we got some good old country and/or Pennsylvania Dutch food. This was Ken's second time on the east coast and Steve's first so they weren't familiar with kettle corn (first photo) or funnel cake. Steve had a fried pickle and fresh apple cider (second photo). I think I had some of Norma's buckwheat pancake. I also bought and ate some chestnuts hot off the grill.

    There were lots of country crafts on display along with farm equipment and animals.
  • Third photo: Ikuyo, Angelika, Hitomi, and Sonomi contemplate taking the horse out for a ride.
  • Fourth photo: Sonomi tries to feed the goat.

  • Allison and Mark showed up with their daughter Viviana. Mark is a professional photographer. He shot a nice picture of Ken and me (fifth photo).

    As the day went on, more and more people rolled in including Sherri, Gary, Ashlyn, Luke, and Lisa. Things were becoming quite festive with so many friendly faces.
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    We all met for dinner at Penn Alps. They were nice enough to give us our own private dining room. Most of us chose the buffet which meant more good country food.

    While we ate, Mark made the rounds, working his magic with his Nikon D800.
  • First photo: Sonomi, Ikuyo, and Hitomi. These are all friends that Norma made when she lived in Japan, teaching English.
  • Second photo: Cousin Steve. My first kayaking experience was in a whitewater boat with him and his father, Uncle Don. They taught me how to do a wet exit. It came quite naturally as I didn't want to spend any more time than necessary upside down in a kayak.
  • Third photo: Clark and Carmen who I enjoy cross county skiing with.
  • Fourth photo: Angelika, Sherri, and Norma. Sherri and Norma met in college where they shared a dorm room at Eastern Mennonite University.
  • Fifth photo: Norma and Teresa. I met Teresa several years ago at a Howard County Sierra Club hike that I don't remember. She became our friend after taking care Asha while we were on holiday.
  • Sixth photo: Cousin Steve and Dad.
  • Seventh photo: Norma's mother, Hazel.
  • Eighth photo: Norma and me.
  • Ninth photo: Suzanne and Mike. Mike was my squad leader in the Marines during the Gulf War back in 1991.
  • Tenth photo: Carmen and Lisa. Carmen used to be Norma's housemate in Hyattsville. Lisa is one of my kayaking buddies.
  • Eleventh photo: Sherri holding Luke, Allison, and Norma. Allison went to the same university as Norma and Sherri.
  • Twelfth photo: One of two tables seating our group.

  • Mark wasn't the only one taking photos that night.
  • Thirteenth photo (by Hitomi): Gary, Sherri, Ashlyn, and Luke. A happy family.
  • Fourteenth photo (also by Hitomi): Angelika and Mark. Mark is Allison's husband.
  • Fifteenth photo (by Angelika): Hitomi and Mom.
  • If you haven't figured it out, the pictures are named so that the photographer's name appears at the end of the photo name (e.g. PennAlps_RIMG1260_Angelika.JPG was taken by Angelika).

    After dinner, several of us hung out in our motel room at the Casselman Inn. Knowing that Ken and I have known each other since at least the third grade, someone asked if he had any interesting stories to share. We both thought and couldn't come up with much. But then Mike started to reminisce about our time over in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. I think the two of us ended up monopolizing the conversation on our half of the room for the next hour, hardly giving anyone else a chance to get in a word.
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    Day Eight, Sunday, October 7, 2012 (the big day)

    There was still a lot of work to do so Norma took my parents and Hitomi to the farm to help get things ready. My job was to keep our other guests entertained.

    We met for breakfast at Penn Alps. In that area, Penn Alps and the Casselman Inn are the two big eating places. But the Casselman Inn restaurant, like many businesses around there, is closed on Sunday. So it's either Penn Alps or break open the Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs).

    After breakfast, people followed me to Swallow Falls State Park. The last time I was there was September 18, 2011. Whenever Norma and I have guests visiting the farm, we take them to the falls. I can't think of any other place in Maryland where one can see so many nice views in such a small space. It is ideal for folks of all ages since the walk is only about 2 miles (I don't know the actual distance) and very easy.

    I took people on the walk, stopping at Tolliver Falls first. This, like all the other falls in the park, are part of the Youghiogheny River.

    Next, we walked to Upper and Lower Swallow Falls, which are popular swimming areas during the summer. I swam there with Clark, Carmen, and Norma a few summers ago. See Lisa at Upper Swallow Falls in the first photo. From this same location, looking downriver, one can get quite a view (second photo). Sonomi and Ikuyo were enjoying the area so much, they just had to jump for joy (third photo). Looking upstream, we could see where we walked from and Swallow Falls Road (fourth photo).

    Continuing our counterclockwise loop walk, we had a different view of the falls from the location in the fifth photo. Had I been a better photographer, I would have gotten the people AND the falls in the picture.

    There are lots of rocks in the park. See the sixth photo. Many date back to the Pennsylvanian Period and are about 300 million years old (according to Maryland Geological Survey - Swallow Falls). Some, like those in the seventh photo are cantilevered. No, Carmen isn't holding the rock up with her head. A few are just big singletons that sit there such as the one behind me in the eighth photo. Some of the most interesting rocks in the park form craggy vertical walls (see ninth and tenth photos). Carmen couldn't resist going for a little climb (eleventh photo). I might have joined her but the thought of falling and fracturing my arm just hours before my own wedding prevented me from doing so. The verbal abuse I would get from Norma would be far worse than the broken arm.

    Soon we came to the climax of the hike, Muddy Creek Falls. See twelfth photo. This is Maryland's highest free falling waterfall (according to Wikipedia - Swallow Falls State Park). This is not to be confused with Cunningham Falls which is Maryland's highest cascading waterfall, meaning it doesn't make one continuous big drop like Muddy Creek Falls. This was the perfect place to take lots of photos.
  • Thirteenth photo: Cousin Steve and me.
  • Fourteenth photo: Suzanne and Mike.
  • Fifteenth photo: Sonomi and Ikuyo.
  • Sixteenth photo: Allison, Lisa, and Viviana.
  • Seventeenth photo: Ken, Viviana, and Allison.
  • Eighteenth photo: Mike and me.
  • Nineteenth photo: Everyone on the hike except Mark, who is taking the picture.
  • Twentieth photo: Another view of Muddy Creek Falls.
  • Twenty-first photo: Carmen at the top of the falls. Don't jump!
  • Twenty-second photo: Steve and Carmen at the top of the falls. Carmen thinks, "Should I jump?"

  • Returning back to the parking lot, we walked through a stand of old Hemlock trees, some more than 300 years old. This is one of the few remaining in the state (according to Wikipedia - Swallow Falls State Park).

    After our little scenic stroll, Ken and I changed quickly into our wedding attire then drove out to the farm to help the others get things ready. The rest of the group remained behind, taking their time to make sure they were at their Sunday best for the big event. They would catch up with us later.
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    At the farm, Norma was leading the effort to get all the last minute details taken care of. She assigned my parents the task of folding napkins and inserting some fall foliage in each. See first and second photos.

    Norma made sure each table was properly decorated with fern leaves and small pumpkins (the same ones she bought at Home Depot on October 1, our legal wedding day. See third photo.

    Hitomi, Mom, Dad, and Norma gathered flowers to decorate the tables. See fourth and fifth photos.

    Laah, Norma's youngest sister and the co-owner of the farm, worked on making the farm look festive (sixth photo).

    Scott, Laah's husband and other farm co-owner (see seventh, eighth, and ninth photos), also helped out with various tasks and with preparing the feature food of the day...bacon wrapped venison (tenth photo). This is venison from a deer he shot on the farm just three days prior. Bacon and venison...two great tastes that taste great together.

    As guests started to roll in, those who arrived early lent a hand. Ralph, Junkyard Jimmy, Ken, and I put up the projector screen. Jenn and her boyfriend Bob set up the audio equipment. I got the laptop set up and did a function check with Ralph's projector. Everything was good to go. Fortunately, I had tested things out with Ralph's projector and Jenn's Yamaha SV12 speakers and Yamaha EMX 640 amp several days prior so as to avoid surprises. I also had back ups for the slideshow and the music but as it turned out, those would not be needed.
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    The farm was looking fine (first photo) in all its autumn glory (second photo). My music was playing (I started off with bluegrass to contribute to the farm atmosphere), decorative candle bags were laid out (third photo), and the caterers had appetizers set out for all to enjoy (fourth photo).

    Norma changed into her wedding attire (fifth photo) and was prepared to greet the rest of our guests.
  • Sixth photo: Sherri and Ashlyn.
  • Seventh photo: Cousin Steve with his Panasonic Lumix camera with the built-in global positioning system (GPS).
  • Eighth photo: Vivianna, Ashlyn, and Daniella. Daniella (the big one) is Yvette and Jorge's daughter.
  • Ninth photo: Norma with Thanusha, Nidhiksha, and Dursha (Malar and Ragu's kids).
  • Tenth photo: Ashlyn and Hitomi.
  • Eleventh photo: Daniella and Jorge.
  • Twelfth photo: From left to right are Laquan (Joyce and Jimmy's foster child), Thanusha, Harlem (Joyce and Jimmy's daughter), Malar, Norma, Dursha, and Nidhiksha.
  • Thirteenth photo: Thanusha and Harlem.
  • Fourteenth photo: Janie, my kayaking, paddleboarding, and hiking friend and co-worker.
  • Fifteenth photo: Mom and Dad.
  • Sixteenth photo: More of Mom and Dad.
  • Seventeenth photo: Harlem and Jimmy. One of them is dressed like Aunt Jemima...can you guess who?
  • Eighteenth photo: Jenn and Bob. Jenn is my best man. Who says the best man has to be a man? I rented a room off Jenn for a few years. Over that time, we became really good friends. So she knows everything about me...and still likes me.
  • Nineteenth photo: Jorge and Ken. Jorge is Yvette's husband and a really fun guy.
  • Twentieth photo: Making the pilgrimage through the cow pasture to the location for the ceremony.
  • Twenty-first photo: Clark waiting patiently for the wedding ceremony to commence. Clark is a brilliant NASA scientist who will humbly deny being brilliant...but he is.

  • My kayaking friends Suzanne (no, not Mike's wife, a different Suzanne), Brian, and his girlfriend Kristina showed up. They had just come from several days of kayaking in Cape Cod. It was good to see them.

    People didn't seem to have any trouble driving up the uneven dirt road to the farm. I expected at least one would get stuck or have vehicle damage but Norma assured me otherwise. She was right.
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    Months prior, Norma and I discussed where the wedding should be held. We could hold it in our town, Savage, or at the farm. If in Savage, we could hold the reception just down the street from us at the Carroll Baldwin Hall. Renting the hall was ridiculously inexpensive. But we have only lived in Savage since late 2009. So instead, she chose to have the wedding at the family farm, where her parents spent most of their lives and where she lived until leaving for college. She had many fond memories at the farm. Some of these memories were of the old oak tree in the cow pasture where she and her sisters would play. Hence, it was decided that the wedding would be at the farm with the ceremony at the oak tree (first photo).

    Our biggest concern for the day was the weather. It held out very nicely on the morning hike. It was cool with off and on overcast but not rainy. According to Weather Underground History, the high temperature for that day was only 46 degrees. There was a 60% chance of rain as of that morning. So far we were lucky but I wasn't so sure our luck would hold out. Around 1520, we arrived at the oak tree. It was a little cold and breezy. Under my velvety red shirt and sports coat, I wore silk thermal underwear to stay warm though I suppose the stress of being half of the center of attention with about 50 guests was enough to keep me from noticing the cold.

    Prior to our arrival, Laah and Scott put out hay bales for folks to sit on. See second photo.

    It was just under a half mile walk to the oak tree. Along the way, folks took in views of Savage River State Forest and Backbone Mountain, to the southeast. Backbone Mountain is the highest point in Maryland at an elevation of 3360 feet above sea level. To the west lay open fields that Scott and Laah plowed or which the cattle used for grazing (third photo). To the north were acres upon acres of trees which held numerous deer, wild turkey, coyote, and a few black bear. It is no wonder Norma (fourth photo) wanted to have what might be the most important day of her life here on the farm, at the oak tree.

    As the last of our group arrived (fifth photo), we said a few final words to Sherri and Jenn with scripts in hand (sixth photo). Norma scolded Sherri for not being color coordinated with the rest of kidding. Actually, it was just a coincidence that Jenn matched us.

    The ceremony commenced with some words that Norma originally put together. This was based on some marriage books she picked up from the local library. I gave my input then Sherri and Jenn gave their input. Lots of modifications were made, more input was given, etc., until we came up with something everyone could agree on. It wasn't too short or too long and it was both meaningful and personalized.
  • Seventh photo: Norma and me trying to look relaxed. Jenn commented that this is the first wedding she has ever been to where the bride picked her bouquet on the way to the ceremony.
  • Eighth photo: Kick off time.
  • Ninth photo: My parents, patiently awaiting for the moment they will have a daughter-in-law.
  • Tenth photo: Laah thinking, "I sure am glad I put out these hay bales, I'm tired of standing."
  • Eleventh photo: In orange is Ralph with his wife Beth to his right. Ralph leads more kayak trips than anyone on the whole planet...or at least the Baltimore/Annapolis area. He's thinking, "I sure hope they aren't serving MREs for dinner."
  • Twelfth photo: Joyce and Laquan with Junkyard Jimmy behind (the guy in the hat). And yes, he really does work at a junkyard.
  • Thirteenth photo: Jenn reads her lines like a pro.
  • Fourteenth photo: Sherri reads her lines, "Let us all remember that there is nothing more important than the love of family." Then Norma and I acknowledge the love our family has shown for us throughout the years.
  • Fifteenth photo: Mom, Dad, and Hazel.
  • Sixteenth photo: Allison keeping Vivianna warm.
  • Seventeenth photo: Norma placing a ring on my finger. These rings were ordered from Etsy, which was recommended to us by Carmen. Both our rings are sterling silver, decorated with oak leaves and acorns. At Sherri's suggestion, some of our wedding text compared the oak tree to a marriage:
         The oakís strong roots reach deep down into the earth so that it can also stretch far into the sky.
         In the same way, may your relationship root deeply to enable it to withstand adversity.
  • Eighteenth photo: Sherri and Jenn continue doing an excellent job reading their parts.
  • Nineteenth photo: A kiss seals the deal...better than a handshake.
  • Twentieth photo: Do we look any different? Maybe a little happier?
  • Twenty-first photo: The next part of the ceremony was the "friendship circle." This is something that started with the Quakers. People were invited to share their thoughts and feelings about us joining our lives together. Hazel contributed by reading a relevant scripture from the Bible.
  • Twenty-second photo: Yvette, an award winning writer and author of Grip, reads a poem that she wrote. I dig the Sith robe!
  • Twenty-third photo: A very light sprinkle shows that Steve is ready for anything as he whips out his umbrella.
  • Twenty-fourth photo: Carmen, Clark, and Angelika. Angelika wins the award for being most prepared for the cold. Clark wins the award for looking the most professorial. Carmen just wants to do some more climbing.
  • Twenty-fifth photo: A happy family. What more can I say?
  • Twenty-sixth photo: Same happy family...different view.

  • Hazel sometimes finds walking difficult. So Scott, being the knight in shining armor that he is, gives her a ride back on his all-terrain vehicle (ATV). See the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth photos.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Recall that on October 4 Norma told me that barn swallows were crapping all over stuff in the barn. Well Jimmy, Scott, Norma, and Angelika came up with a nifty solution. They hung a plastic painters tarp across the danger zone, far above everyone's heads. Then they decorated it with hanging plants. They also put up one of those fake owls that supposedly scare away smaller birds. See first photo. It seemed to be working fine.

    A table was set up for the wedding cake and decorations, along with a little Japanese doll couple. This was supposed to represent Norma and me though I don't think the female looked the least bit like Norma. See second and third photos.

    Guests started to gather at the round tables that filled the barn.
  • Fourth photo: My folks, scoping things out.
  • Fifth photo: Ikuyo and Hitomi enjoy each other's company.
  • Sixth photo: Joyce and Harlem by the barn door, ready to make a quick exit in an emergency.

  • The caterer served dinner buffet style. Salmon, grilled pineapple, and pork barbeque were all on the menu though Scott's bacon wrapped venison was my favorite. There were also sweet potatoes from Norma's garden and white potatoes from the farm that Norma dug up. I remember that day vividly because as she turned over dirt, chickens would follow closely behind waiting for a chance to find bugs to eat.
  • Seventh photo: Hazel, Joyce, and Laquan prepare to dig in.
  • Eighth photo: Hazel and Laquan...just who is keeping whom warm?

  • Unlike most newlyweds at their reception, Norma and I didn't sit together. We had lots of people visiting from all over the place. We wanted to make sure that nobody felt left out so we positioned ourselves at opposite ends of the barn. After all, we have a lifetime to spend together and only a few hours with so many of our friends in the same place.

    People ate, enjoyed each other's company, and wondered what I was preparing for their audio/visual enjoyment. Just as their curiosity almost made them burst, I announced the feature presentation. It was a slideshow that I created several weeks ago. I got my parents to mail me their photo album containing old pictures of me and I got Norma to get her old photos from Hazel. Then we went through them, selecting several photos throughout our lives. These are photos that represent important life events, activities, family, friends, travels, and adventures. I scanned them in then used Windows Live Movie Maker to link them all together in a video. I also added several digital photos and music. Selecting the music was the hardest part since it had to be music we liked that somehow represented the chosen time in our life. I added captions for each photo along with introduction slides and credits. This all resulted in a presentation just over 26 minutes long. It is divided into three sections: my life before Norma, her life before me, and our lives together.

    I started the video, which I call "Love of a Lifetime." Everyone was quiet at the start though I asked them to make some noise if they saw themselves in a photo. I tried to include at least one photo of each guest participating in some activity with Norma or me. I was shaking uncontrollably. I don't know if it was because I was cold or nervous. Norma kept telling me that people would lose interest because a 26 minute video was far too long but I disagreed. This was the time to see if she was right. As the old photos appeared on the screen, people laughed and cheered. For the section depicting my early years, I had a little Guns 'n' Roses tune in the background, "Sweet Child O' Mine." This was played to scenes of my martial art activities, life in the Marines, going to college, and other stuff. Norma's life was set to the tune of songs by the Dillards, Willie Nelson, and Carrie Newcomer. These accompanied scenes of her with friends, traveling in Europe, living in Japan, etc. I think the photo that really got people's attention was the one with Norma as a little girl holding a big snake. Even back then, she had a deep appreciation of nature. In the third part, images were shown from our six years together...most of it spent outdoors kayaking, hiking, or bicycling. One of the songs played for this section was Love of a Lifetime by Firehouse. Not only is this what I named the video, but it is our song, and the phrase engraved on the inside of both our wedding rings. Here is the chorus of this classic big hair power ballad:
         I finally found the love of a lifetime
         A love to last my whole life through
         I finally found the love of a lifetime
         Forever in my heart, I finally found the love of a lifetime.

    Next, I told people that they could come up and say whatever they wanted. They could tell a story about Norma and me, make a toast, etc. Unlike the friendship circle at the ceremony, this was more light-hearted and informal. Jenn started off by explaining her impression of me when we first met and how unique she thought I was. We coordinated prior to this so that when she spoke, a Gaussian distribution (bell curve) appeared on the screen along with lines to denote the position of standard deviations. She explained what this all meant like a tentured Ivy League college professor. She also explained how I was way out in the right tail of the curve...two standard deviations from the mean. She also said that Norma was the one for me because she too is just as unique and special.

    Keeping with the math theme, I recited a poem from memory that I first heard in a fine movie called Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. The poem is called Square Root of Three and it is by David Feinberg. I added in lots of hand and arm gestures to go with it. Two months prior, every time I went into my garage to exercise, I practiced this poem until it was burned into the hard drive in my brain.
         I feared that I would always be
         A lonely number like root three.
         The three is all thatís good and right,
         Why must my three keep out of sight.
         Beneath the vicious square root sign,
         I wish instead I were a nine.
         For nine could thwart this evil trick,
         with just some quick arithmetic.
         I know Iíll never see the sun,
         as 1.7321. (1.73205081)
         Such is my reality,
         a sad irrationality.
         When hark! What is this I see?
         Another square root of a three.
         As quietly co-waltzing by,
         Together now we multiply.
         To form a number we prefer,
         Rejoicing as an integer.
         We break free from our mortal bonds
         And with the wave of magic wands.
         Our square root signs become unglued
         Your love for me has been renewed.

    The poem was a big success. It was both silly and meaningful. See ninth and tenth photos. I got lots of laughs (eleventh photo) and smiles (twelfth photo).

    Other people came up to the microphone to say a few words about Norma and me. Clark even played a couple of songs on his guitar (thirteenth photo). One was a classical piece while the other was something he wrote.

    I mentioned something I read just 3 days prior. The full text is as follows. It was forwarded to me by one of the Marine Corps League guys who didn't know I was getting married:
    No English dictionary has been able to adequately explain the difference between the two words. In a recently held linguistic competition in London, England, attended by the best in the world, Samsundar Balgobin, a Guyanese man from Bachelors Adventure, was the clear winner with a standing ovation lasting over 5 minutes. Here is his answer which made him receive an invitation to dine with the Queen. He won a trip to travel the world in style and a case of 25 year old Eldorado rum for his answer.
    His final question was this. How to explain the difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED in a way that is easy to understand. Some people say there is no difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED.
    Here is his astute answer...when you marry the right woman, you are COMPLETE, And when you marry the wrong woman, you are FINISHED. And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are COMPLETELY FINISHED!

    I pointed out that Norma makes me complete.

    Mike told a story about him and me during the Gulf War. He mentioned how I ran on foot in full combat gear for miles in the desert to mark the route for him to follow. We couldn't use the lights on our vehicles for fear of giving away our position but I could run on foot while shining a light pointed straight down. That was enough for him to follow in the Humvee. Thus, running in the tracks of the vehicle in front, I helped ensure we stayed together. See fourteenth photo. Of course the way he said it was much more entertaining.

    Sherri also said some nice words and wished us many happy years together (fifteenth photo). She told about the first time she met me. This was when Norma threw a big party, inviting all her friends over. I helped out for several hours, preparing and grilling the food and assisting with cleanup from start to finish. I think my hard work made a good first impression on her.

    Ralph said how his first memory of me was when I brought an MRE for dinner on a kayak trip he led. A few years later, he met Norma and knew she was perfect for me because she could make a nice home-cooked meal and thus break me of my bad MRE habit.

    I could tell Norma was having fun as she was smiling ear to ear (sixteenth photo).

    It had been raining pretty hard while we ate dinner but shortly after, it stopped. That was Angelika's chance to give Norma and me a little bit of what she learned in Germany. She asked everyone to step outside and then form a circle around Norma and me. Next, she gave instructions for a little dance. Once the music started, the group started moving in a circle, holding hands. At different parts of the song, people closed in, stepped back, and clapped. It was a very nice that we will remember forever.

    It was time to cut the wedding cake. This fine piece of art was decorated as a tree, complete with leave and acorns. See seventeenth photo. Some layers contained chocolate raspberry cake while others contained carrot cake. There were also lemon cupcakes. Norma cut the first piece (eighteenth photo) while guests watched (nineteenth photo). Based on the looks on their faces, I don't know if they were in awe of Norma's beauty or wanting to sink their teeth into some dessert...perhaps both. Norma fed me the first bite (twentieth photo) and I fed her the second (twenty-first photo). We avoided the "cake fight urge" that many newlyweds often succumb to.

    The last organized activity for the evening was the sing along. Whenever Norma, Carmen, and I get together, we sing The Gambler, a classic country song recorded by Kenny Rogers and written by Don Schlitz. I was hoping to find a karaoke video I could download then play at the wedding. While I did find a video with the music and words, I could not download it. So I positioned my camera in front of my computer and recorded it on my camera as it played. Then I downloaded it onto my computer and loaded it into a Windows Live Movie Maker document. But while the video was fine, the sound was terrible. So I superimposed my digital recording of The Gambler onto the video. But now the two were not in synch. So I adjusted the play speed of the video. After several attempts, it matched. I saved this to a file about three days before the wedding.

    Carmen came up and helped me lead the sing along. The last time she and I sang this song, we were driving back across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge after kayaking on August 12, 2012. Out of the blue, we started coming up with some hand gestures to go along with the music. (It was these same hand gestures that inspired me to include gestures for my Square Root of Three poem.) So she and I included these gestures in our sing along. Based on how well everyone sang, I'm thinking most everyone in the free world knows and loves The Gambler. See twenty-second photo.

    I heard what I through were firecrackers being set off but later I was told it was celebratory shotgun blasts fired into the air. I guess that is a Garrett County version of a 21 gun salute. Yeehaw!

    A bonfire burned for quite some time just outside the barn. It was the natural area to congregate early on (twenty-third photo). But now that it was getting cold, it was really the place to be as the party started to wind down. See twenty-fourth photo. Of course simply wearing a blanket over your head works too (twenty-fifth photo).

    All in all, I think people had a really good time. People were feeling happy, festive, joyous...and some were feeling loving. See twenty-sixth photo.

    As the party came to an end, it was time to put things away. The table scraps were taken downstairs and fed to the pigs. It was a good day for them too. We all worked together to put away the food, take down the lights, and get things packed up. Interestingly, as soon as I took down the fake owl, the barn swallows began chirping and flying around.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Several of us headed back to the Casselman Inn for the night. Norma led the way but somehow ended up losing a couple of cars. I was the last car but had a map so I was fine. But Steve and his passengers, Ikuyo and Sonomi, got lost. I tried to call them once I got to the motel but got no answer. I was getting ready to go out and look for them when they finally pulled in. They just missed hitting a dog on their attempt to keep up with Clark who was attempting to keep up with Norma. But no animals were hurt and everyone arrived safely so all was good.

    Several of us hung out together in the common area of the Inn, eating some of the snacks in the nice gift basket that Norma's co-workers sent to her.

    We stayed up until pretty late, just talking and being silly. It was a spectacular day and we didn't want it to end.

    Day Nine, Monday, October 8, 2012, Columbus Day

    Several of us met for breakfast at the Casselman Inn. In the photo at left, we're walking from the motel to the restaurant.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    After eating our fill at the buffet, we drove 0.7 mile to Penn Alps where we walked through the adjacent Spruce Forest Artisan Village. See first photo. This is an arts and heritage center where local artists and craftsmen have a chance to display and demonstrate their talents in studios set in historic buildings.

    A few of us got to see and talk to one of the artists who was busy drawing (second photo).

    Many of the buildings in the village are built in the log cabin style from yesteryear (third photo).

    One of the favorite shops (at least for the women) is the soap building (fourth photo). Here, they can buy all kinds of different fragrances.

    Before leaving, Hazel passed on some of Laah's eggs to me. I sell them at work. These are from the same chickens that were eating the bugs that were uncovered when Norma dug up the white potatoes at the farm for the wedding. Unlike "factory egg" chickens, these don't live in cages. They get plenty of sunshine and fresh country air, and they get to walk around outside. Clark, being the smart guy that he is, knows that healthy chickens make healthy eggs so he bought two dozen. See fifth photo.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Our group was getting smaller and smaller. Norma and I bid some farewells then started on our drive home. Joining us were Ken, Steve, Hazel, my parents, Hitomi, Angelika, Ikuyo, and Sonomi.

    Back in Savage, I took the group on a walking tour of the town (except for Norma and Hazel who would meet us later).
    The town was named for John Savage, a Philadelphia merchant with interest in a mill on the falls of the Patuxent. In 1822 he and his associates chartered the Savage Manufacturing Company, which made sails for the tall ships, among other cotton duck products. The cotton milling industry started in Maryland in the 18th century and flourished in the 19th century. Cotton was shipped cheaply from Southern ports and hauled overland by mule and oxen teams to the mills before rail transportation served Savage.
    - from Historic Savage, Maryland

    We passed Carroll Baldwin Hall. Lately, I had been putting a good bit of time into helping the community restore the place. My good neighbors, Don, Sara, and Brian, are leading this effort.
    Carroll Baldwin Hall once housed the Savage branch of the Howard County library. It was built in the early 1920s as a memorial to Carroll Baldwin, former president of the manufacturing company. The Baldwins managed the company from 1859 to 1911.

    I showed our guests the brick duplexes where the mill workers lived on the west side of Baltimore Street (first photo). This led us to the Savage Mill Manor at the end of the street. This house, built in 1844, was supposedly the home of the first mill owner.

    Turning onto Fair Street, I pointed out the Masonic Hall.
    Constructed in 1897 by the Savage Manufacturing Company to serve the social needs of the Savage Mill Village, it served as a community hall, hosting various dinners and gatherings of various kinds.
    - from Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties - Masonic Hall (Solomon's Lodge #121 A.F. & A.M.)

    Walking down Washington Street, I directed people to the Mansion House, which is the former home of the second mill owner (second photo).
    Built between the years 1859 and 1878 by the Baldwin family, the Mansion House was used as a summer home for the owner and President of the Savage Manufacturing Company.
    - from Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties - Mansion House (Baldwin House)

    Across from the Mansion House, we had a view of the mill (third photo). Once a cotton mill, it now serves as a complex for shops and restaurants.
    The mill was started in the 1820s by Amos Williams and his three brothers. They named it and the town in which it still stands after John Savage, who lent them the money to start the business. The main product was cotton duck, used for sailcloth and a wide variety of other uses. Power was originally obtained by damming the Little Patuxent River, which runs adjacent to the mill property. In later years steam engines were used.
    - from Wikipedia - Savage Mill

    We walked across the Little Patuxent River via the Bollman Truss Bridge (fourth photo).
    The mill was served by a spur off the Patuxent branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and in the 1870s a Bollman Truss Bridge was moved to the spur. This bridge survives and is the only one of its kind left. [It marks] a revolutionary design in the history of American bridge engineering. The 160-foot (48.8 m) double-span truss bridge is one of the oldest standing iron railroad bridges in the United States. It was the first successful all-metal bridge design to be adopted and consistently used on a railroad. The type was named for its inventor, Wendel Bollman, a self-educated Baltimore engineer.
    - from Wikipedia - Savage Mill and Wikipedia - Bollman Truss Bridge

    Turning onto the Savage Mill Trail, we walked about a half mile (one way) along the Little Patuxent River on this former railway (fifth photo). There were some nice whitewater views along the way. See sixth and seventh photos. We turned around at some ruins that I believe was once a lock for a canal.

    Today, Savage is a home for several refugees from Burma (Myanmar). I'm hoping one of them will open up a Burmese restaurant here in town or nearby. Speaking of food, it is time for dinner.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    We met Norma and Hazel (first photo) at the Rams Head Tavern for dinner. It has become a tradition for Norma and me to take visitors from out of town to the Rams Head at least once during their stay.

    Steve and I split the lobster and crabcake. The crabcake was better.
  • Second photo: Steve and Dad patiently waiting for their meal.
  • Third photo: Angelika and Ken. Angelika is trying the Rams Head beer sampler. She gave it a thumbs up which is quite a compliment being she is German and Germans know their beer.
  • Fourth photo: Hitomi also enjoys the beer sampler.
  • Fifth photo: The whole group. This photo was taken by the hostess who seemed to know everything about all makes and models of cameras.

  • After dinner, we walked around the mill, stopping in The Family Game Store. See sixth photo.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Back at the house, we unwrapped a wedding gift from Ikuyo and Sonomi. It was a cartoon drawing of Norma and me! I guess Norma sent them a link to my website or at least a photo. This was enough for the artist to draw a very good likeness of the two of us. See photo at left. What a fantastic gift!

    But this wasn't our only artistic gift. Janie and Mark gave us a water color painting of a heron done by Mark's father, Spike (Leroy). Janie finished the frame to give it an antique look. Very nice.

    Now we just need to find where to display these masterpieces.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Day Ten, Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    Norma and I drove our guests to Washington D.C. for the day while Hazel and my parents remained in Savage.

    We parked at Union Station then set out on foot.

    One of our first stops was the Capitol Building. See first photo. There was a lot of construction going on there as well as the rest of the buildings. They must not have known we were coming.

    Squirrels were munching on the osage oranges which were abundant (second photo).

    We had a clear view of the Washington Monument in the distance. See third photo.

    Also in the area, we saw the National Museum of the Native American building but we didn't go in. See fourth photo.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    We checked out the National Museum of Natural History. This is a place I could spend all day in. I was hoping to show Steve and Ken a live horseshoe crab but there were none.

    Ken had a flight to catch so Steve and I escorted him back to Union Station so he could catch a train to the BWI Airport. It was a fast walk and we made it with little time to spare. I hope Ken will return soon. I wanted to take him kayaking but his visit was just too short for that.

    Steve and I stopped by the Memorial to Japanese-American Patriotism in World War II on the way back. His father and both my parents were interred in relocation camps during World War Two, despite being U.S. citizens.

    While Steve and I were away, the women looked at the butterfly exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History. Sadly, I do not know my butterflies and am too lazy to look them up so I leave you with the below photos and the following website: Butterflies and Moths of North America. But I cannot guarantee these butterflies are from North America.
  • First photo
  • Second photo
  • Third photo
  • Fourth photo: Tiger swallowtail. At least this I know.
  • Fifth photo

  • A few of the women also had a chance to see the titanoboa display, organized by a former Miss Pork Princess of Iowa and member of my kayak club. This exhibit is of the biggest snake that ever existed; 40-50 feet long and 2500 pounds! For some odd reason, I think they preferred the butterflies.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    No tourist trip to Washington D.C. would be complete without stopping to take a gander of the White House. See first photo. Prominently displayed on the lawn of the White House are the presidential bees (second photo), maintained by Charlie B. On April 3, 2011, Norma and I had a chance to get up close and personal with Charlie's other bees which reside just a short distance from our house.

    We made our way to the Lincoln Memorial which is one of my favorites.
  • Third photo: Look on the back of a penny and you'll see this.
  • Fourth photo: Old Abe on his thrown.
  • Fifth photo: A classic view of the Washington Monument across the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
  • Sixth photo: Steve and I enjoying the sights.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Near the Lincoln Memorial were the various veteran memorials. We saw the National World War Two Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (first photo), the Vietnam Women's Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial (second photo).
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Walking along the Potomac River, we saw numerous cherry trees. See first and second photos.
    The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
    - from Cherry Blossom Festival
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Venturing onward, we came to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. See first photo.

    Across the Tidal Basin, we had a view of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial (second photo).
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    We passed through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden (photo at left) where we saw a meditative rabbit and an optical illusion house. You have to see this YouTube video to really appreciate the illusion.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Our next stop was Chinatown. See photo at left. We dropped in where Norma works. She thanked her co-workers for their generous gift and introduced them to our guests.

    Then it was off to Asian Spice for dinner. I had the Malaysian/Indonesian noodles with chicken (mee goreng), which was very tasty. We worked up quite an appetite with all the walking.

    Ikuyo and Sonomi said their farewells. Tomorrow they would be in New York City and after that, Niagara Falls. Norma and I were glad they could spend so much time with us on their visit to the states.

    It was a long, full day where we did a day and a half worth of activities in a single day. We slept well that night.
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    Day Eleven, Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    It was sunny and not too cold so I offered to take people kayaking. Steve and Angelika were interested. So Norma took care of our parents and Hitomi while I took Steve and Angelika out to Annapolis for the day.

    The three of us launched at Truxton Heights Park on Spa Creek. Steve was in my Prijon Catalina while Angelika and I rode the Ocean Kayak Cabo tandem.

    Kayaking out towards the historic area, we found it impossible to get a view. A power boat festival was going on so we were permitted to paddle up Ego Alley. Ego Alley (named because people go there to show off their boats) is the narrow waterway that takes one right up to Main Street. It is, in my opinion, the most interesting and scenic part of the whole kayak tour.

    So instead, we continued northeast, passing by the Naval Academy.

    We paddled up the Severn River then as far upstream as we could on College Creek. Along the way, we passed under a few bridges, got a peek at the Academy's rowing shells, and saw Saint Anne's Cemetery, which dates back to 1692.

    I let Steve try out my carbon fiber wing paddle. Not only was this his first time trying out a wing paddle, but this was also his first time in a sea kayak. He's a whitewater kayaker with a bomb-proof roll.

    At the head of College Creek, we stopped for a snack.

    Back out on the Severn, there were some Navy ships were going to and from the Academy. See first photo.

    This was Angelika's first time kayaking and she did just fine. In the second photo, we make our way back up Spa Creek.

    In Eastport we came across a pirate ship. See third photo.

    Steve was using my heaviest, slowest, and cheapest paddle, yet he made my Prijon fly with bursts of speed. See him paddling up Spa Creek with the Compromise Street Drawbridge behind in the fourth photo. This is the bridge that connects historic Annapolis with Eastport.

    On the opposite side of Eastport, we saw Saint Mary's Church and cemetery (fifth photo).

    Further upstream on Spa Creek, we passed numerous expensive waterfront homes and yachts. See sixth photo.

    We finished our trip after about 2.75 hours, having completed an easy 8 miles. I think Steve (seventh photo) and Angelika (eighth photo) had fun.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    While Angelika, Steve, and I were out kayaking, Norma, Hazel, Hitomi, and my parents were at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. The last (and only) time Norma and I were there was February 2, 2011.

    Walking on the trails at the Center, they found a wild persimmon tree. Unlike the big Japanese persimmons, the Maryland wild persimmons are only about as big as a ping pong ball and not as tasty.

    They saw a good bit of stuff that day:
  • First photo: Raptors that were somehow injured and are thus unable to survive in the wild.
  • Second photo: Grasslands on Marshy Creek.
  • Third photo: Boardwalk.
  • Fourth photo: A lone turtle covered in aquatic vegetation. With the temperature of the Chesapeake Bay quickly dropping as we get deeper into fall, turtles are getting harder to find.
  • Fifth photo: Hitomi enjoying the waterfront view.
  • Sixth photo: Mom, probably wondering how we're doing with kayaking.
  • Seventh photo: Norma and Mom. Doesn't Norma look tall?
  • Eighth photo: Hazel, taking a break.
  • Ninth photo: Dad, finding a stump makes a better chair than a kayak.
  • Tenth photo: Hazel, Dad, and Hitomi.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    After Angelika, Steve, and I got done kayaking, I called up Norma who said she would meet us in Annapolis. So I drove Angelika and Steve to the restaurant in Eastport. We parked then walked into the historic district in Annapolis. I showed them what they would have seen from the water had the power boat festival not been going on. They also got a quick peek at the Maryland State House (first photo) and Saint Anne's Episcopal Church at the west end of Main Street in Church Circle. I would have loved to have showed them more of Annapolis but we had dinner reservations.

    Walking to Easton, we crossed the Compromise Street Bridge over Spa Creek. This gave us a different view of what we saw from the water. There were lots of expensive boats (second photo) and one stand up paddleboarder that was moving like he was training for a race.

    All of us met at the Rockfish in Easton. See third photo. The food was good and the service was not so good. Dad ate the seaweed salad and fried oysters.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Back at the house, Hitomi gave Norma and me her wedding gift. It was a miniature kimono. See photo at left. A few months ago, that might have fit Harlem. She gave out lots of other gifts, not just to Norma and me but to everyone in the house. She is a very generous person.
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    Day Twelve, Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Hazel headed out that morning while Norma led the rest of us on a little adventure.

    One of Norma's favorite places in the whole world is Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. She has been there several times but I have never been. So today she took my parents, Angelika, Hitomi, Steve, and me to visit.

    We started in the cafeteria. Their food is good but a little expensive. Though I suppose everything seemed expensive after spending a few days in Garrett County.

    Longwood Gardens is a really big place with a lot of history.
    The land had been inhabited by the native Lenni Lenape tribe who hunted, fished, and farmed the productive wilderness. In 1700, a Quaker family named Peirce purchased the property from William Penn and soon established a working farm. Joshua and Samuel Peirce began planting an arboretum on the farm in 1798. The farm was purchased in 1906 by Pierre du Pont so he could preserve the trees, and from 1907 until the 1930s, Mr. du Pont created most of what is enjoyed today. In 1946, the Gardens were turned over to a foundation set up by Mr. du Pont.
    - from The Story of Longwood

    In this part of the country, the name du Pont is tied to many things. Norma and I learned that during our October 28-30, 2011 trip to the Brandywine Valley area. If it wasn't for the du Ponts, the area would not be nearly as interesting.

    Much of our time was spent in the conservatory. Clark has one of these but his is a little smaller.
  • First photo: Mom and Dad with indoor fountains behind.
  • Second photo: Dad, Norma, and exotic flowers.
  • Third photo: Hanging plants contribute to a jungle-like atmosphere.
  • Fourth photo: Big purple flower close-up.
  • Fifth photo: Same purple flower next to an alocasia plant.
  • Sixth photo: A big fern with spores.
  • Seventh photo: Dad at the upper level.
  • Eighth photo: Dad taking photos.
  • Ninth photo: Walking through a tunnel of greenery.
  • Tenth photo: Hitomi with tropical plants.
  • Eleventh photo: The glass roof of the conservatory lets in a lot of light.
  • Twelfth photo: An indoor pond.
  • Thirteenth photo: Hanging pitcher plants. This was the only part of the conservatory where we saw bugs. But unlike gardens where the bugs eat the plants, these plants were eating the bugs.
  • Fourteenth photo: Time for a group photo.
  • Fifteenth photo: I hope this hanging plant doesn't fall on me.
  • Sixteenth photo: Norma taking a photo of a hanging plant contemplating falling on me.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    One special area in the conservatory was the Children's Garden. Though designed for the young, I think anyone young at heart will appreciate it.
  • First photo: Mom behind a water wall. Or perhaps the photographer is the one behind.
  • Second photo: Low ceiling.
  • Third photo: Shells, rocks, and cut tiles create pictures on the walls.
  • Fourth photo: Snakes in the Grotto Cave.
  • Fifth photo: Angelika in the bamboo maze.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    There was a lot to see in the conservatory but there was just as much to see outside too.
  • First photo: Topiary garden.
  • Second photo: Not sure what this is but isn't it impressive?
  • Third photo: Hitomi at the Main Fountain Garden.
  • Fourth photo: Purple and green.
  • Fifth photo: Cypress trees showing their knees.
  • Sixth photo: Norma and Angelika with angel's trumpet flowers.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Longwood Gardens isn't the place to come if you want to see wildlife, though there were a few critters out and about.
  • First photo: A curious squirrel looking for a handout.
  • Second photo: Same varmint, different view.
  • Third photo: Me calling the geese like dogs. Not surprisingly, they didn't come.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    My favorite section was the aquatic plants. Occassionally, like on August 12, 2012, I will see water plants with large leaves while kayaking, but none as large as these at the Gardens. These are their famous water platters.
  • First photo: Worker lifts leaf to show how air gets trapped underneathe to keep it afloat.
  • Second photo: Close-up of a leaf.
  • Third photo: Notice how the edges flip upward.
  • Fourth photo: These leaves are large and buoyant enough to support the weight of a baby, but only if it could somehow disperse its weight equally throughout the leaf.
  • Fifth photo: There are different types of water platters. Longwood Gardens has their own hybrid which they bred.
  • Sixth photo: Norma getting a water-level photo. Hitomi is tempted to send Norma in for a swim.
  • Seventh photo: Water platters weren't the only type of aquatic plant on display.
  • Eighth photo: Hitomi, Norma, and Angelika.
  • Ninth photo: Purple water lily
  • Tenth photo: ...and another one.

  • One aquatic plant I really liked was the sensitive plant. Photos don't do it justice so instead, take a look at this video: Mimosa Pudica - The Sensitive Plant.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Plants weren't the only things featured at the gardens. They also had fountains. Some were set to music like the Open Air Theatre Fountains. See first photo.

    There was also the Italian Water Garden. See second photo.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Vegetables were also grown at the Gardens. I wonder if it was used to make some of our lunch today.
  • First photo: Trellises provide support for the vining plants.
  • Second photo: One leaf of some of these plants could make a whole salad!
  • Third photo: Norma and Hitomi see something they like. Perhaps it is a snake.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    We stayed almost until they closed. With so much walking, some of us needed to sit for awhile. So it was a good time for some group photos.
  • First photo: Angelika in the foreground.
  • Second photo: Someone isn't looking at the camera.
  • Third photo: Aren't Dad's socks white?
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    On the way home, we drove over the Susquehanna River and then stopped in Havre de Grace for dinner. This quaint little town was incorporated in 1785.
    In 1789, the town was a candidate for the honor of being named capital of the United States.
    - from Wikipedia - Havre de Grace

    After a bit of walking in the town, we stopped at the Tidewater Grille for dinner. See photo at left. Steve and I had Chesapeake chicken, which is my favorite local dish. I showed him a picture on the wall of what our kayaking view of historic Annapolis should have been if it wasn't for the power boat festival. He seemed impressed.

    This was our last night to see Steve for awhile. His plane would leave tomorrow and he planned to explore some of Baltimore on his own in the morning before leaving. So we said farewell and wished him the best.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Day Thirteen, Friday, October 12, 2012

    I took my parents to the airport and wished them a safe trip home. I am so glad they were able to come out and spend a week with Norma and me and all our friends. After dropping them off, I went to work.

    Norma, Hitomi, and Angelika spent time working her garden that morning.
  • First photo: Norma pointing to her critter trap which caught two groundhogs this year and one last year. All were released unharmed, a few miles away.
  • Second photo: Norma explains the finer points of Howard County gardening to Angelika.
  • Third photo: Short, stubby carrots.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Steve wanted to see an older, residential area so I directed him to Fells Point in Baltimore. This neighborhood was established in 1763. Here he saw a house all ready for Halloween. See photo at left.
    Click thumbnail to enlarge.

    Norma, Angelika, and Hitomi also ended up heading to Baltimore, spending some time at the Inner Harbor, Little Italy, and Fells Point.
  • First photo: The USS Constellation.
  • Second photo: A view of the Inner Harbor and a Seadog speedboat.
  • Third photo: Looking at the Inner Harbor from the east, one can see the Pier Six Pavillion (where I saw Weird "Al" Yankovic in concert) and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Back at the house, Hitomi gave a little origami lesson to Angelika. See first and second photos.

    Then, Hitomi led the dinner-making activities. She did it Japanese-style, where presentation and color are very important. See third photo. It was delicious and healthy.

    We ended the evening by playing Blokus, my favorite game. This was Hitomi's first time playing and Angelika's second but they both did very well. Had everyone else not been drinking, I might not have won so easily. See fourth photo.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Fourteen, Saturday, October 13, 2012

    I said my farewells to Hitomi and Angelika. It was great having them over for a visit. I really like Hitomi's energy and Angelika's enthusiasm.

    I headed out to do volunteer work with my Howard County Marine Corps League trash cleanup.

    Hitomi flew out of Dulles early while Angelika's flight didn't leave until later. To kill time, Norma took her to Great Falls, Virginia, which was only 22 minutes away.
  • First photo: After seeing this view of the Potomac River, Angelika was ready to try whitewater kayaking.
  • Second photo: A close-up. This area is particularly pretty when it is icy.
  • Third photo: Angelika looks across the river at the Maryland side.
  • Fourth photo: Enjoy the trail hon, you've got a long flight home.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Norma and I got lots of nice wedding cards which we read that night. We asked people not to buy wedding gifts. Instead, their presence was our present (I plagarized this from Mike and he from someone else). But if they wanted to make a donation on our behalf, we suggested the following charities, all of which at least one of us is involved with.
  • Capital Area Food Bank
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Doctors without Borders
  • Friends of Jug Bay
  • Howard County Marine Corps League Scholarship Fund
  • Carlos Rosario Educational Foundation
  • Still, we did receive some gifts. Much of the monetary gifts was donated to the above in equal amounts.

    After having guests for the last 14 days, our house was once again empty (except for us and Asha). It certainly seemed strange without people to entertain. But it was also nice being alone.

    These two weeks have been some of the busiest and happiest of my life. The wedding was a big success and folks really seemed to have enjoyed seeing us and being there to share in our big life event. As much as I would like to say that this was purely a joint effort, the fact of the matter is that Norma did a vast majority of the planning. More often than not, I just helped out as best I could.

    While I would love to do this all again in the future, I am quite certain I will not be getting married again.

    All the above photos and more are available through my drop box account. These contain the original photos, saved at high resolution. If you were at the wedding, a friend or relative of mine, or a friend of Norma's, feel free to ask me for the link to the dropbox. Unfortunately, I was not able to load the wedding slideshow to the drop box due to its large size. So if you want a copy of the slideshow, just ask and I'll mail it to you.

    Three weeks after our wedding, Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, dropping tons of precipitation. At the farm, where we had our wedding, there was two feet of snow. In Savage, the Little Patuxent River, which looked relatively calm on October 8 (see Little Pax on October 8) turned into viscious whitewater on October 30. See first photo. So despite things being a little cold on the wedding day, it could have been much worse.

    We went on a honeymoon several weeks later. See December 28, 2012 to January 7, 2013.