Hubs battles wildlife on the honeymoon

And here’s part two of my wedding anniversary-related posts. This Forces of Nurture column ran in the Democrat-Gazette several years ago.

In it, I recall our honeymoon week at Big Bend National Park, where Hubs valiantly fought off a band of javelinas.

Stinky, snorting beasts turn Hubs into hero

Ever seen a javelina?

They’re peccaries, which, superficially, resemble wild pigs. Javelinas are found in the southwestern portion of the United States, as well as in Central and South America.

They’re rather comical creatures, with stout bodies perched on spindly little legs. I used to giggle when I saw them.

Now I know better.

Photo by Hubs.

Photo by Hubs.

On April, 30, 2001, the day after Hubs and I wed at Big Bend National Park in Texas, we set up camp down by the Rio Grande.

A sign, bolted to the picnic table, warned us to leave our tent down during the day in order to avoid javelina invasions. If an encounter could not be avoided, the sign offered additional advice: “Do Not Provoke the Javelina !”

Hubs and I cackled.

Until 30 minutes later, when we witnessed a band of javelinas slicing open a standing tent at a nearby site. Horrified, we watched the resourceful creatures make short work of the tent’s contents. They rooted, ravaged and feasted.

Oh well, we thought smugly. We didn’t leave ours up. Things will be fine.

We spent the day hiking. When we returned to the campsite, we saw a German couple circling their devastated tent, clearly puzzled as to what had happened during their absence.

Hubs pulled up next to them. “Javelinas,” he offered helpfully, leaning out the window and pointing.

The Germans, who understood little English, looked puzzled.

“Javelinas,” Hubs repeated. “You know” — he fl uttered his fingers in air-piano fashion — “pigs.”

Of course, javelinas are not pigs, but I kept silent as Hubs and the Germans continued to waggle their fingers at one another.

I’m not sure that the couple ever understood what Hubs said. But by that evening, they had packed up and left, leaving us as the only tent-campers in the area.

That night, Hubs and I ate a leisurely dinner, toasted our nuptials and crawled into our sleeping bags. Sometime around midnight, I smelled something … garbagey.

I heard snuffling. Snorting. And — was that chewing?

Javelinas eat plants. Maybe they’re just grazing?

I poked Hubs in the ribs. “Do you hear that?” I asked. “Mmmm … no …” he mumbled.

More snorting. And that smell.

Suddenly, my side of the tent bulged inward. “Aaiiiieeee!” I shrieked, rolling on top of Hubs. “They’re coming in!”

Hubs grabbed his car keys and started pressing buttons on our pickup’s remote. The horn blared. Headlights flashed. The javelinas scattered.

A half-hour later, they were back.

Snuffling. Snorting. Chewing.

I could hear them surrounding the tent. And then — another jab at my side.

“Eek!” I screamed.

Just then, something crashed from our picnic table. We would later learn it was our box of camping gear. There wasn’t any food in the box — only flashlights, tools, silverware and other supplies.

Hubs leapt to his feet, hair standing wildly on end. He jabbed at the bulge. Then he unzipped the tent and lunged through the opening. There was much shouting and clanging. The horn blared. Headlights flashed on.

I fumbled for my glasses and then peeked outside. My new husband was crouched on top of the picnic table, waving a spatula and cooking tongs at the 10 or so javelinas running amok through our campsite.

“Do not provoke the javelinas!” I yelled, quoting the picnic-table sign.

“What do you want me to do?!” Hubs yelled back as he brandished his tongs. “Pet them?”

Finally, the javelinas trotted off, reasonably certain that the humans at this particular campsite were totally and hopelessly insane.

Hubs clambered down from the picnic table and tried to pick up the pieces of his dignity as I howled with laughter.

“I guess they won’t be coming back here,” he boasted.

He was wrong. After two more sleepless nights involving more horn-blaring and spatulawaving, we fled to a motel.

Since our wedding, we’ve returned to Big Bend each year. Thankfully, due to more careful selection of campsites, Hubs has used the tongs only for grilling.

And I no longer snicker when I spot a javelina.

I shudder.

So happy anniversary, Hubs! And belated thanks for saving me from the smelly wildlife. You wave a mean set of tongs.

Illustration by the talented Dusty Higgens.

Illustration by the talented Dusty Higgins.

Wedding anniversary post: The hookup shirt

So today, in honor of Hubs’ and my 12th wedding anniversary, I’m posting an old Forces of Nurture Democrat-Gazette column that I wrote in 2009:

Where’d we marry? Big Bend, naturally

When Hubs and I started dating, we quickly learned that we shared an unusual infatuation with Texas’ remote Big Bend National Park.

I went there often during my two years as a reporter for the Odessa American. Hubs made repeated trips to the park when he lived in San Antonio.

Named for a large curve of the Rio Grande River, Big Bend is in southwest Texas, encompassing more than 800,000 acres of river, desert and mountain environments. It is stark, isolated and ruggedly beautiful.

In the spring of 2001, while camping in Ponca, Hubs wondered aloud about the possibility of getting married at Big Bend. We were planning a trip there in April, and similar thoughts had already crossed my mind. Within a day, we had called the park, a justice of the peace and our parents. “Uh, yeah, so we’re thinking about getting married at Big Bend,” I told my mother. “That’s four weeks from now,” she spluttered, laughing.

Nonetheless, on April 28, she and my dad packed up and headed to the park, with my sisters and brother-in-law in tow.

Hubs and I arrived the next morning.

I brought a pink, flowered dress for my outdoor wedding. He brought boots, jeans and a dress shirt.

That afternoon, we stood on the Window View Trail, so named for the “window” created by a narrow slot in a canyon wall. Hikers often gather there to watch spectacular sunsets framed by the window.

Our justice of the peace sported western duds and a gray ponytail. His wife took pictures.

It was a beautiful ceremony in a beautiful place, and we treasure the memories of that day.

Each year, Hubs and I return to Big Bend, sans children, to reconnect and recharge. (I did not mean that the way it sounded!)

With two young children, it’s often difficult to make time for ourselves as a couple. A trip to Big Bend always reminds us not to take each other for granted.

So, how did we end up together in the first place? Well, it all started with a vinyl shirt. I wore it on an August night. In Arkansas. I nearly suffered a heat stroke. This kind of fashion faux pas, my friends, occurs when a Texas girl decides to move to the Land of the Hogs and develops a huge crush on a photographer at work.

I’d already indicated my interest by running my foot up and down his leg one night, after a few too many fruity little drinks.

My prey was unnerved, however, probably because my thenboyfriend was sitting at the same table.

Yes, I know. But trust me, Former Boyfriend does not deserve your pity. (Refer to my last column for a description of “Al.”)

At first, Hubs thought perhaps I had the wrong leg. But when I leered tipsily at him, he realized I did indeed have the right target. He would say later, “I thought it might be best to take this up another time.”

And he fled.

Anyway, stronger measures were clearly needed.

In August 2000, a group of us decided to go dancing at the Electric Cowboy. I knew, as soon as I found out Hubs was going, that I had to go shopping.

I am ashamed to admit I bought that rat-ugly vinyl shirt because of the zipper. I thought it was sexy.

Isn't it hideous?!!!

Isn’t it hideous?!!!

Hubs and I took on a waltz. He was a fabulous dancer. Still is. And thus I was smitten. And sweating. And berating myself for buying the suffocating vinyl.

Three or four hours later, Hubs and I dropped off my friend Amy at another girlfriend’s apartment. (Amy didn’t think it would be wise to drive home.)

Amy went inside and Hubs and I kissed. All was lovely until I accidentally leaned on the horn, which blared loud and long. We laughed, then Hubs drove me home.

The next morning, Amy called. “So how was it? Is he a good kisser? He looks like the type who would be a good kisser. And don’t lie to me because Traci and I looked outside when we heard the horn. We. Saw. You.”

He was such a good kisser, I promptly broke things off with Al.

Eight months later, Hubs and I were planning our Big Bend wedding.

And thus ends the story of how I had to move to Arkansas to snag myself a fellow Texan.

Tomorrow: One more trip down memory lane when I recall an exciting honeymoon involving close encounters with scary wildlife.


Review: Bali Suresize Wirefree Bra

If you’re like me, and the first thing you discard upon arriving home are your shoes and bra, then this is a must-try item.

When at JC Penney a few weeks ago, I noticed the Bali Suresize Wirefree Bra on my way to the children’s section. I impulsively tried it on and bought it.

And then I fell in love.


I’m a D. I also spent 2 1/2 years nursing babies, and have since assumed that underwire was a necessity. Not with this bra.

These Balis come in all sorts of colors and with varying cuts to accommodate different necklines. Best of all — the prices are great. This one, pictured below, is only $22.

I plan on buying at least three more in the very near future!



Review by Arkie Mama

Thomas the Tank Engine & Chuggington Giveaway

Happy Monday, everyone!

I’ve got a couple of freebies up for grabs.

The first is a set of three Thomas DVDs. It also includes a train car.

The second freebie is a set of Chuggington episodes called Safari Adventures. It, too, includes a toy train.

Total value is $30.

Here’s what they look like:

The Thomas set.

The Thomas set.

And here's the Chugginton set.

And here’s the Chugginton set.

To enter: Leave a comment below!

I’ll announce a winner on Wednesday.

New cat, new garden. Bring it, spring!!

So first — Hubs has built up a marvelous garden bed. Tomorrow he will fence and then we will plant! And yeah, being native Texans, we WILL most certainly be growing jalapenos.

Now on to the kitty.

For two years now, Tootie has begged for a cat.

At first, we put her off by telling her that we needed to wait until we move into a bigger house. But then, pummeled by pet requests — all because someone had too much to drink at a friend’s dinner party and may have agreed to a bunny, we found ourselves saying, “Well, what about a cat instead?”

(Yes. I was the someone.)

And lo, I found myself researching the available cats at area shelters.

I didn’t want a kitten. Everything I read suggested that it’s better to adopt an adult cat because the personality is defined by then. And we needed a cat that didn’t mind two kids, two dogs and a rather busy (read: loud) household.

People, I have found the most laid back cat ever.

He’s three years old. Was put up for adoption by Maumelle Friends of the Animals. And the description sold me. “Good with kids. Easy to handle. Loves to be petted.”


I took the kids to meet Clem. Clem actually started out as Clementine until, when the vet prepared to spay her, it was discovered that she was a he.

Tootie decided we should name him Clinton because A.) It sounded dignified and B.) If we messed up and called him Clem, he wouldn’t be confused.

Unfortunately, as my children and dogs are well aware, I am simply unable to stick to proper names.

I love endearments. I love nicknames.

People, I have YET to call this cat by his actual name.

So it is with both pride (isn’t he cute!) and shame (please don’t mock my nicknames) that I introduce you to:

Mr. Kitty-Kitty/Mr. Meow-Meow/Mr. Kittykins.

Mr. Kitty-Kitty/Mr. Meow-Meow/Mr. Kittykins.

I know. I KNOW. But really, he doesn’t seem to mind at all.