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Enquiring minds want to know!

So now that the die is cast, the deed is done and the cat is out of the bag, I can share a few details about my relationship with the wonderful, amazing, gently insane and thoroughly awesome ToniAnne. (For those of you who missed the official announcement on at the Couch of Confusion, you can see it here)

This is a long post, with images. If you comment, you'll get the whole enchilada.

My dear Maine Squeeze showed up at Brooke McEldowney's Pibgorn forum some time after September of 2008 - and I liked what I saw. She seemed bright, witty, and interesting. I had previously had a chance to meet a number of the denizens of the CoC, notably Poms, Wildflowerrose, the Skulker, Farren, Inshadowz and Kaylisdragon, and was looking forward to meeting ToniAnne when I went back to West Virginia to hunt for invisible cows. On May 25, I left Washington, DC and headed for Harrisonburg, stopping to attend Church at the local LDS chapel before paying a call. I had texted her to let her know I had just gotten out of meetings, and she texted back, "Are you in the 1st Ward?"



Ok, fine. She had some good clues. She knew I lived in Salt Lake, which made it about even odds that I was a Mormon. Based on some other things I had said on the forum over time, I guess she felt confident enough to make the assumption. As for me, I was gobsmacked - because I hadn't a clue that she was a member of the same faith.

So I pointed Molly towards her place, and there she sat, on her porch, next to the outdoor piano (told you she was gently insane), peeling taters. We talked. We walked. We dined at Jalisco - "B-" Mexican food, but the company was stellar. We came back to her place. We talked some more. And some more. And some more. And somewhere in the back of my mind, a bell rang and a light went on. I knew this was a person I wanted to get to know better. And then I headed for the farm.

Back home, we began emailing one another. In September, knowing that I was coming back East for a family reunion in October, I propositioned her for the first time - but not that way. I had seen that the week before my reunion in Bloomfield, Connecticut, Klemmer & Associates was offering a Personal Mastery seminar in Richmond (right next door to Harrisonburg, in relative terms). Having attended all of Klemmer's work and staffed around 15 other events, I knew how much value these things have - so I offered to send ToniAnne to this one, and simultaneously offered the same to her son in California. The lad wasn't able to go due to logistics, but ToniAnne took the leap of faith.

From that point on, our emails took on a much more familiar tone, and I felt like I was talking with someone who liked many of the same things I liked, and who was interested in learning as much about the world as I am. I liked this lady a lot.

On October 4, I got a call from her youngest daughter who was in Salt Lake to attend a session of our semiannual Church General Conference with a couple of her friends. (ToniAnne had given her my phone number - she wrote to me later, "She likes older men. And she knew you were approachable and vetted already by me!") It was a wet and rainy day, but I made it over and met up with the charming young Katie after the afternoon session. We had very little time, really, but we spent about an hour chatting before she had to leave for some heavy partying. And I thought to myself, "Any lady who can raise a daughter as delightful as this has got to be first-class." But see, I already knew that.

The next day I left for the East, and on October 9, ToniAnne walked into the seminar room saw me there as part of the staff. I cruelly had not told her that I would be there, and it took her a while to recover from that shock, heh heh heh. The weekend seminar was a good experience, and after it was over, we went out to dinner at the most hideous Chinese buffet at which I have ever had the misfortune to eat. And remember, I like rotten food... I don't usually "should" on myself, but I shoulda known better and said something. But it was late, I was hungry, and I didn't want McPuke, so we stayed.

Once again, while the food was the abomination of desolation, the company was brilliant - and after "dinner" we retired back to the hotel where we talked. And talked. And talked, until the little hand was on the two and the big hand was on the six. By this time, Lady ToniAnne had become a significant "person of interest", to use the police parlance. So I sent her packing (she had a two-hour drive to get home that night, and headed for the farm.

Once again, we took up our long-distance relationship - thank Mogg for email. Sometime before Christmas, Miss ToniAnne had sent me a copy of Robert L. Short's The Gospel According to Peanuts, which I mentioned that I had once had, and lent, and lost. How delightful was that? But even before that arrived I had ordered her a little gift basket of pears from Harry and David - I guess my subconscious was screaming something about a "pair".

In January I left for 3 weeks in Australia to staff at a Teen Leadership Seminar and visit friends (that journey is chronicled beginning here), but before I left I remembered that ToniAnne had said something during a conversation about not being able to get Jack Spratt sprouted bread in Virginia (it's a Utah specialty), so I boxed up a loaf and sent it to her. The effect of that simple gesture was far greater than I could ever have imagined - you'll have to ask her about that. But without even knowing it, I had scored a huge win in her book.

After I got back from Australia, we continued our penpal relationship. Although I had not yet said anything directly, I felt as though it was, in a sense, a courtship. In one email, she referred to herself as "Wee, wonderful Wendy," so in my next response I offered her a thimble. Brilliant lady that she is, it didn't take her long to get the reference.

Shortly thereafter, a box arrived full of the most delightful treasure, and I discovered just how much of an impact one can make with a loaf of bread.

Finally, I had tired of dancing around the "elephant in the room," as it were, and on January 30th I sent her this Doc Rat



and spoke my peace. I was not disappointed in her response - she echoed my feelings, and I knew at that point that we had a good thing going. But it gets better.

It wasn't long after this that she told me her four kids had put their heads and their wallets together, and offered to buy her a ticket to Salt Lake to come out and spend some time with me. Once again, I was gobsmacked. I had only met Katie, and I knew that she loved her Mama, but it seemed that all of her kids really had her welfare at heart, and wanted her to jump at a chance for happiness - so we arranged for her trip. At the same time, I worked hard to get ToniAnne enrolled in the next K&A seminar, Advanced Leadership, which took place in San Mateo from the 17th to the 21st of this month. It meant less real time together, but I felt it would be a huge blessing to both of us to go through this experience together. She's still processing all of that, but I know it was important to move forward on the same playing field. And she had a great time, and made a lot of new friends.

So on the 14th of February, St. Valentine's Day, I greeted my new best friend at the airport in Salt Lake. Before she ever arrived, we had both gotten the email from God that marriage was pretty much a done deal, so I was about to waste no time. I proposed that very day - when God sends a miracle, it's not good form to say, "Um, wait a bit - let me think about this for a while." And El Shaddai is great - ToniAnne accepted my offer. Just to be sure, I asked her every day for the next two weeks - mostly because I liked hearing the answer.


So here's a bit of a travelog.

We drove from Salt Lake to San Mateo, stopping in Reno for the night before proceeding. I attended a staff meeting from 1PM until about 9, while Her Worship relaxed in the hotel.

The next day the seminar began, and lasted until Sunday night. One of these events is hard to describe, but it's always interesting to watch 60 individuals from all over form and storm themselves into a functional unit. We worked, and played games, and laughed, and cried, and killed each other off, all in the name of building leaders who will create a world that works for everyone, with no one left out.


Here's ToniAnne and her buddy Heather at the seminar


My friends, my guides, my mentors, the Advanced Leadership Facilitators: Mr. Scott (Huggabear) Pullan, Miss Kimberly (Hmpf - we'll see!) Zink, and Mr. John (No, the chairs still aren't right) Edwards. Words are simply insufficient to describe how awesome these people are.

When the seminar was over, my roommate - the honorable Billy Shott - took us out to dinner at TGI Friday's, and the next morning we headed out and met with a cousin of mine who lives in Richmond, stopping for lunch at the SaWaDee Thai Restaurant on San Pablo Avenue - the food was amazing. From there we drove to Concord to meet up with sleepyjohn00 and his wife goodwitch779, and were able to take a power nap at their place before heading out to a great teppanyaki restaurant for "dinner and a show," as it were.


This guy was good, and so was the food.


Better people are not

The following morning we headed for Los Angeles, and spent a day with ToniAnne's son, eating dinner at the City Wok restaurant (pay attention, there will be a quiz). Wednesday we met up with ToniAnne's brother, Johnny - we arranged to meet at a Mexican Restaurant at Universal's City Walk (can you hear the confusion on the phone?) It was a nice visit - she hadn't seen her brother since 10 days before 9/11, in New York - she was very pleased to be able to spend some time with him and his good wife.


ToniAnne & Johnny Tillotson

After lunch we walked around the City Walk for a bit, but not too long - the weather was cool and there was a light drizzle coming down. It was nice, though, because the place was practically deserted in relative terms - if I had been dressed for the weather I would have been tempted to do a bit more exploring. We did stop for a while to look at the amazing iFly indoor skydiving attraction - I was sore tempted, they had a $20.00 special going on, but I'd sure like to come back and do this another time.



Instead, we said a fond goodbye to Johnny and Nancy, and took in Avatar in 3D which ToniAnne had never seen. 4th time for me, I never get tired of living in that amazing world. And this particular showing was more enjoyable than any I had before seen...

Crashed at ToniAnne's son's apartment again for the night, and the next day drove to St. George, Utah where we visited with ToniAnne's older son who will be graduating from Dixie State College in May. He was tied up in class until about 9:30, but when he got off we went and grabbed some dinner at the Brick Oven restaurant. Mmm... pizza. The following day we spent almost completely with her son David - we haunted used bookshops, viewed some artwork that he had done, and were astonished by the chaos in one art professor's office:



We went to Great Harvest bread company for some very nice sandwiches (with concomitant pickle wedge) and then took a brief rest while we waited for David to have his final graduation interview with his counsellor. I strained my back while I was snoozing in an odd position - still hurts a bit, too. Weird.

To celebrate David's successful completion of all his requirements, we went to the Cold Stone Creamery and indulged ourselves on way too much ice cream:


Sweet cream, cake batter and cookie dough mix in a dipped cone dish.

groan belch groan

At around 5 we bid farvel to Utah's dixie and headed north, arriving at ToniAnne's friend's house at about 10:30 where ToniAnne and her daughter vied to see who could be the most effusive in greeting one another. (Remember, she hasn't seen these kids in far too long.)

[Edit: Mogg's teeth! I forgot an entire day! Saturday we spent with ToniAnne's daughter Katie. The morning was spent haunting antique jewelry shops for rings of unusual nature, my beloved being a non-traditionalist. Looking was fun, but we didn't find anything that floated her boat. At 1 we met with my son Courtney and his wife Mindy at Settebello, Salt Lake's only VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana) restaurant, and afterwards walked through the local international peace garden. A bit dreary in wintertime, but I'm told it's very pretty in the summer. That evening we met my son Michael at the Chanon Thai Cafe and dined on superb cuisine once again. Family meeting family went well - everyone seems to like everyone, and that's a good sign.]

I did my best to excuse myself for my drive home, but suddenly found myself set upon by two Radeligian Cateagles who tickled me to death, stole my glasses and keys, and left me to sleep on a very compfortable couch until 5:30 the next morning, at which time - I must admit - the wakeup call I received was far more pleasant than anything I would have had in my cold, barren, lonely apartment, or had ever experienced in my life. Ahem.

On the way to the airport, we saw a beautiful full moon just ready to sink behind a western cloud bank. Just as we were getting off the freeway, the moon descended below the clouds, and before setting behind the Oquirrh Mountains, display the most gorgeous moon pillar I have ever seen in person. Tragically there was no time to stop and try to get a picture.

This picture I took of the full moon rising over the Wasatch range has been photoshopped to simulate what our eyes saw, because I've haven't found a good picture on the web that even comes close.

Sending Miss ToniAnne home was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But we'll get our collective act together and make this thing happen. Whatever comes tomorrow, this has been two weeks for the books.


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Comments

dhlawrence
Mar. 3rd, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
Best wishes for the future!

Will we be meeting her in Pittsburgh in June?
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
I'm leaving my options open. While I can't guarantee anything, it's possible. On the other hand, with WolfLynx there, even if we can't come, a Skype session would be entirely doable. So we'll see.
secoh
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
Awesome awesome news! Congrats to you both!
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
Thanks mate!
secoh
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:55 am (UTC)
I'm so nice I might be able to send you one hundred trillion dollars as an early gift hahahah
sleepyjohn00
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
Proof that if you keep moving around, sooner or later you'll step where the lightning's gonna strike.

Kate's already picked out the restaurant for your next visit.

Incidentally, the iFly place in the Bay area has a half-off deal if you buy online, so two can fly as cheaply as one. Soar like a cateagle!
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
Ooh, good to know! Thanks!

And I can't wait for the next visit, but when are you guys gonna come my way?

torakiyoshi
Mar. 3rd, 2010 03:02 am (UTC)
There's still one thing you haven't clearly reported. You've called her a wolfess, and a cateagle... but is she furry? What is her opinion of the whole animahuman thing if she isn't?

-=TK
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 11:01 am (UTC)
Once she's my bride, she becomes a wolfette by default. I don't think she has a furry mindset, but has expressed interest in seeing Anthrocon, if only for the experience. She's totally a SciFi geek - she's read a lot more contemporary stuff than I have, my tastes tend to run back to the 40s and 50s - so the Anthro scene isn't too much of a stretch.
deckardcanine
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
Art Spiegelman (Maus) drew Jews as mice and French people as frogs, so he wasn't sure how to portray his converted French wife. He thought of having her transform in a puff of smoke upon marriage, but she didn't like that. Ultimately we saw her only after the wedding, as a mouse.

Personally, I prefer "she-wolf." "Wolfette" reminds me too much of Smurfette.

Once you're married, you'll no longer be served KY at the Cross Time Cafe. Hope it's worth it.
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
FWIW, "she-wolf" sounds a bit too feral. "Wolfette" sounds cuddly, and that fits. And as for the other, Ky's a fantasy - this baby is the real thing!
deckardcanine
Mar. 3rd, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
I guess you're right. Kinda brings to mind He-Man and She-Hulk.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 3rd, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
Congratulations
Old Wolf - You've picked a wonderful woman. My very best wishes to you for years of happiness together!

thevenbede
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 10:58 am (UTC)
Re: Congratulations
Thanks kindly!
dewhitton
Mar. 3rd, 2010 07:02 am (UTC)
Excellent news! Congratulations!

I know a place full of strange animals she might be interested in. 8)
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 10:57 am (UTC)
Right then, let's see if we can make that happen!

ext_205824
Mar. 3rd, 2010 07:38 am (UTC)
Congratulations and best wishes!
Kitty
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 10:58 am (UTC)
Hvala, Katja! :D
bayliss
Mar. 3rd, 2010 11:37 am (UTC)
:-) YAY!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 3rd, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
Mush
Sounds delightful! I am so excited to hear the real story from ToniAnne! Lol
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Mush
"Real" story? Haha, I'm sure she'll tell nothing but lies. Lies, I tell you!
r_caton
Mar. 3rd, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
Congrats and God bless!
ccdesan
Mar. 3rd, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks kindly, friend! Now, how to get the happy couple to London to share our bliss with all our friends there...
(Anonymous)
Mar. 3rd, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
yay
wow, im stunned, ive never heard you talk (type) like this before, I can feel how happy you are, i actually welled up with tears a little bit.

mucho amor a ambos de ustedes
ccdesan
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
Re: yay
That sounds like medotter talking...

alaskawolf
Mar. 4th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
this post was full of soo much awesomeness and happiness :3


and icecream :)
ccdesan
Mar. 4th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the good wishes & friendship. If I could only wave a magic wand over you...
carlfoxmarten
Mar. 7th, 2010 08:24 am (UTC)
Many congratulations!

May the sun rise before you, and the wind be always at your back.
May you be half an hour in Heaven before the Devil knows you're dead.
~An old Irish saying

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