13 months, 13 rings

Jeremy and I are officially in our 13th month of marriage. Oddly enough, we are sporting our 13th round of wedding rings. (I believe that is good luck.)

Let’s take a stroll down ring lane, shall we?

Since we skipped the engagement part of our relationship – no such ring exists. (and I think it’s silly anyway. It’s like guys can put us on layaway or something … )

Our first official wedding rings were made of Koa wood and hand-carved by a friend of a friend on the Big Island of Hawaii. I was quite nervous during our ceremony, expecting it to fall into the ocean – but it survived and held strong for a few good months.

The demise of the rings started during a Frisbee game in Boston when Jeremy’s ring cracked under an awesome catch. (it was almost worth it ...) A few weeks later, on a shuttle bus in Milwaukee, Jeremy opened his palm to display the crumpled ring, much to my chagrin. My ring was okay, besides the outside layer slightly peeling, but for solidarity we decided we both should get new ones.

Continuing our travels to St. Louis, we picked up some mood rings that constantly reminded us that we were happy, but lasted only a few days before turning our fingers green. The shell rings were cheap and not expected to last – and they didn’t. Next came the green string (which I believe held the longest thus far, although not esthetically pleasing) and the tiny childhood ring my mother found that said “Molly” and fit on the top half of Jeremy’s pinkie finger. (He wore it proudly.)

Once back in Hawaii we found a shop that sold Koa rings (less quality and less expensive than our original) and we ordered two each, different thickness and styles, but eventually they too started chipping. We also picked up coral rings and turquoise rings. Pretty, but wavering. Ho Hum.

A month later, in California, we bought two sets of steel rings from an artist along Venice Beach. These rings looked cool but were heavy, and again, turned our fingers green.

Fast -forward to Florida where we found another set of shell rings, green this time. (You sorta have to buy shell rings when you’re in Florida.)

Plenty in numbers at this point, through all of our open ringlationships, variety remained the spice of life.

The shining star came a few months ago during a visit to the Christmas Market in Bayreuth, Germany. The ChristKindl Markets house a variety of artists and goodies – including ring makers!

I picked up two simple black steel rings that feel as if you are wearing no ring at all. (But doesn’t make you any less married ...probably.)

Although these rings are still our favorite and the ones we wear the most, we decided on another pair during our recent Cinque Terre trip. Jeremy picked out silver rings doused in bronze and metal. Fancy. All for the bargain price of 20 Euros. Fancy, indeed.

So, each day, we take our newfound fanciness, choose a new look and decided together which ring to wear – because marriage should always match your outfit.


Ash, volcanic and otherwise

We heard Amsterdam calling a few weeks ago when finding suspiciously cheap airline tickets ... just in time for my big 3-2 birthday celebration. The suspicion, however, turned to volcanic ash and we realized (the morning of) that our flight had been canceled.

Whaaa, whaaaa.

But if ever a rendezvous were to start on that note and continue with a free-falling, wandering adventure of a trip – Amsterdam seems only fitting.

We headed to the airport anyway, shifted through numerous lines, listened to stranded stories of nearby passengers and eventually traded in our cheap airline tickets for overpriced train tickets. Seven hours later (four of which we stood) we were cruising the canals.

As an added bonus for my birthday, Jeremy indulged me in a museum-free, no plans, no Rick, extended weekend celebration – which I deem as the best gift EVER.

Party on Wayne.

We spent the next three days wandering the streets, finding hidden cafes, people watching and getting lost. Amsterdam is a circular city with an elaborate canal system - you sort of have to walk sideways in order to go straight. Getting lost comes easy … for various reasons.

Whaaa, whaaaa.

But whatever street you happen to walk down, you find bicycles shuffling down the lane. We happily joined the peddling revolution.

To say it’s the city of bikes is an understatement. In Amsterdam, the bike is a way of life. (And the most logical form of transportation.)

You see fathers with children, grandmothers toting flowers, business folk bringing home groceries, police officers patrolling the streets, hippies walking their dogs and so on, happily on their bikes. Almost everyone who lives in Amsterdam owns a bicycle.

Not to mention the traditional locally produced bikes allow for the Dutch to demonstrate their superior posture.

The days quickly turned to night and the eye candy of the nightlife kept us wandering for more. We strolled through the red light district and rated prostitutes gesturing in the brightly lit windows, listened to music pour out on the sidewalk from numerous clubs and danced to the chatter of hipsters cruising the canals on boats.

Our Amsterdam experience made the exhausting 10-hour journey home seem worth it.

The highlight of the trip came when Jeremy made my heart go pitter-patter saying, “You know, we haven’t done anything this weekend but wander around. And it’s been awesome.”

That and when he spotted the fat Matt Winfree – which made us both heave with laughter – (we narrowly avoided peeing ourselves.)

Let me explain: 
Okay, that may only be funny to us.

Party on Garth.


What the föhn?

It's cold - again. This weather is tiresome. But a few short weeks ago the sun showed its bright beautiful face to the world in Central Europe, melting the snowy ground in one day. The skies were a bright blue, the clouds looked like cotton candy, and it was seemingly delightful ... seemingly.

As I stood, arms up, welcoming my soular sibling to kiss my face, I was struck with the most excruciating headache. In the days to follow the headaches came on stronger followed by dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and this odd ongoing vibration throughout my body - as if Charlie Brown's teacher crawled into my brain and spoke for a week straight.

I was days away from committing myself to a mental institute when I read about föhn.

In a nutshell – föhn winds are warm, dry winds that descend from the lee slope of a mountain range. (In this case - the Alps). These winds are notorious for rapid temperature rise and their desiccating effect – raising temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius in a matter of hours. Hours! Celsius!

This bad news breeze causes headaches and migraines, amongst other ailments to thousands of surrounding residents.

It seems that there's a relation to the vibrations caused by the waving airstreams. The vibrations prickle the auditory organs, irritating the nerve systems - a nasty and problematic side effect of a wondrous phenomenon of nature.

Additionally, suicide and accidents increase by 10 percent during föhn winds.


Oddly, this weather had no effect on Jeremy. My irritability on the other hand ... did.


Yo, that’s WAQ

I’ve been writing a lot of articles lately on the Warrior Adventure Quest (WAQ) program, a few which we’re picked up by CNN iReport. More importantly than the “career” aspects and the “program” itself (however awesome), I met five of the most amazing bearded outdoorsy whiskey drinkin’ freak of mens around. (And I got to participate in some pretty rad outdoor adventures with aforementioned men.)

The “Fab Fünf” as I affectionately call them, were brought to Germany to run the programs of WAQ and were a breath of fresh air for Jeremy and myself in a somewhat stifling community. (let’s face it, we need more friends …)

As a reward for all of our hard work the last few months (mostly theirs but I have a camera, so I was able to go along …) we were awarded a day filled with big guns and German soldiers.

Damn it feels good to be a gansta.
Now, I’ve never shot a gun before and I’m not privy to the different kinds, how to use them, nor do I care, really. Guns don’t excite me. I have no desire to own one, carry one and I don’t grunt when holding one – that was until I found out I was awesome at shooting!

I held the gun (the rather heavy gun) and leaned back in pure drive-by style. The German Soldier I was working with kept trying to lean my body forward, but I was comfy so he let me go. Once I started shooting I hit the target flawlessly. Mr. German Soldier raised his eyebrow, patted me on the back and said, “Ah, snipper!”

Damn it feels good to be a gansta.

The “Fab Fünf” followed suite, shooting alongside training German Soldiers, exchanging broken German for broken English, bragging about hitting their marks, posing with their guns and quoting movies I’ve never seen.

Apparently guns have no language barrier.

Sadly though, all good things involving big guns and cute boys come to an end. (that’s how the saying goes, no?)

The morning after, two of the five in crew WAQ left to go back to the states – the beard tickler followed a few days later.

This move subsequently dropped our friend pool by nearly half. The two remaining are deep in our clenches and shall not be released until we’re good and ready. (We have renamed, peed on and branded them. They are ours, damnit!)

So I dedicate this blogpost to Jared, Mizey, Luis, the 25 dreadlocks I put into Luis’ hair, Jeff (Jeb) and Todd (Tad) - and of course, to Chuck, the man who made it all happen, and finally, Chuck's mustache. Thanks for the good times, drinks, adventures, stories and friendship.



Cinque Terr-iffic

In our first trip out of the country this year, Molly and I set our sights south for the small five-town coastal enclave of Cinque Terre  (the five lands). The region is known for its pesto and wine, specifically the super sweet “Sciachetra.” Each town has its own personality and our favorite changed each day we were there.

We stayed in Riomaggiore (we affectionately referred to it as rigmarole), which is considered to be more bustling and gritty than the other four.

For as difficult as it seemed to find solid information on the area (most guidebooks had between a single paragraph to less than a full page dedicated to it), we were super surprised how many ‘mericans were there – and not necessarily the cool, let’s hang out with fellow travelers kind – the bulk of English-speaking folks we noticed were college kids on spring break (sweet.)

We did our best to blend in and practice our “grazies and pregos.” Although Molly definitely doesn’t have traditions, we very much enjoyed our daily routine of a bacon-and-fried-egg breakfast, long, leisurely hikes between the “lands,” and bottle of wine, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, local cheese and fresh bread for lunch.

Halfway through our trip we stumbled into some awesome live music in the “quietest” town, Manarola. The co-owner (and son) trades his apron for a guitar and 4-5 other locals fill in the circle with bass, bongo and a harmonica. They rocked everything from blues to traditional Italian to, well, American folk songs like “Country Roads.” Now if we could only find something like this in Weiden …

I would definitely recommend a trip there, but would book early and avoid the summer season because it was already starting to get packed as we were leaving.

Oh, we also made a quick stop through Milan on either side of the trip. “El Duomo,” which took some 500 years to complete was impressive. However, I think the rest of the countryside in the Liguria region outclasses the fashion capital.