Sunday, May 21, 2017

My Greatest Catch!

I had the ring for about a month before I figured out how I was going to propose.  It sat in its little black fuzzy box in a nondescript corner of the garage I knew Lupia would never find it in. I had some things to do before I popped the question.  I had to ask Lupita's mama for her daughter's hand, I had to make sure I had the correct size ring, I had to be sure Lupita got her nails done (her request), but the biggest trick was figuring out what to do to make the proposal memorable.  I mean I know that if I just pulled the ring out of the garage and asked her we'd both remember it.  What I wanted to figure out is how to WOW her!  This is the backstory.

To explain why I'm writing this, and why I'm writing this on my fishing blog I'll go back to Facebook on the day I did pop the question.  Lupita shares a lot on Facebook.  So on April 23, 2017 after I put the ring on her finger a flurry of pictures shot from her phone to Facebook. Tons of likes, loves, and comments of congratulations followed.  My former roommate, Eric's gratz comment asked how'd I do the deed?  How did I propose? Well, I knew we had pictures before and after, but not during the event until the photographer finished his edits.  I promised I'd tell the story once we received the photos from the photographer.  I chose my fishing blog for this story because Facebook lacks a good way to type and add pictures interspersed to tell a story.  On to the story...

You've read I had the ring.  The week before I proposed it was the wrong size.  Lupita's statement about making sure she had her nails done before I proposed popped into my head. I ordered a ring-gauge set off Amazon and measured her ring finger.  All the while I was apologizing for not having done anything about buying a ring but when I would I could make sure it was the right size.  Little did she know the wrong sized band with a princess cut diamond on top was not 30 feet from her in our garage.  I used a day off from work to do several things I needed to do and and two of those things were get the band changed to the right size, and ask Lupita's mama for permission to marry her daughter.

The day before my day off I figured out what I'd do.  I reached out to our ticket guy from the White Sox.  We had tickets for the game on the 23rd and I wanted to see what options I had to propose to her at the game and see how I could make it special.  He put me in touch with Martha Jo in the White Sox main office and I found they have a special plan for just this kind of event.  I made a donation to White Sox Charities and the all the pieces fell into place.

Right after I'd locked in the White Sox option I started texting with Lupita's sister, Irma. Initially I was trying to keep my plans secret so my messages were vague.  She knew and could arrange for mama to be accessible but I learned Irma was accompanying Lupita to a doctor appointment that next day; the day I had off to talk to her mama.  I had to let Irma in on my plan.  She was beyond excited and of course she kept our conversation in confidence.  

The next day worked out perfectly logistically.  I stopped at the jeweler with the gauge that fit Lupita's finger, they measured my gauge, confirmed its size, and took the ring to get the diamond put on the correct size.  The jeweler completed their work and I started off to Irma and Marco's house where mama lives.  I hadn't gone far when I received a text from Irma telling me Lupita had left the house after her appointment and was on her way to our house so the coast was clear for me to come talk to mama. Timing was working out perfectly.

My conversation with mama was nice and short.  I told her of my intentions and asked for her permission which she gave me happily.  I then filled her in on the details of my plan, showed her the ring, and asked her to keep my secret.  She assured me she would and even made the zipping her lips motion across her mouth.  I hugged her, Irma, and Marco and left the house to go do what I told Lupita I was going to do with my day off; go fishing!  (See, another reason this is on my fishing blog!)  Fishing was uneventful but relaxing compared to the stress of the earlier parts of my day.

That night Lupita and I went out to eat at a nice brewery-restaurant in downtown Palatine. Here's where I almost slipped up the first time.  We were talking and she mentioned seeing mama earlier in the day.  I knew she had because I saw mama after she did.  I mentioned the Sox game and how we got upgraded tickets.  Lupita's head turned like our dogs and said "What?"  (Think quickly, Jason)  "Oh yeah," I replied, "I got an email from the Sox that asked me to put in the games we'd be attending this season earlier in the spring.  They called me today and said we won upgraded tickets and a pre-game tour."  Lupita was excited but I couldn't tell if she was skeptical.  This was Tuesday and the game was the coming Sunday.  I had to keep it together for a few more days.  

Wednesday we received our official "tour" packet from the White Sox.  Our ticket upgrade was in there along with this schedule on White Sox letterhead and watermark.  Nice touch!  So now Lupita was realizing we were going to go in early and get on the field.  Plus when we looked up our seats she was extra excited because they were the best seats we've ever had to a Sox game.  

The next few days were uneventful but Lupita was really excited about the game on Sunday and our on-field experience to come.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I had vivid dreams I remembered.  This is unusual as I don't often remember my dreams.  All involved my childhood home.  

  1. Lupita and I were staying there and my father was alive in the first dream.  He told me how happy he was and how wonderful he thought Lupita was.  
  2. The second dream my mother was alive but seemed far away and somber; monochrome in color and tone.  I wasn't sure how to take this one.  
  3. Fortunately mom appeared in my third dream.  Lupita and I were helping her move out of the house as if the house was being sold. Mom came to us with a box of books from my childhood.  She had color in her cheeks and a smile on her face.  This was her blessing my decision to marry Lupita.  
I told Lupita about all these dreams but their gravity didn't click with her until later in the afternoon Sunday.

Gameday!  Sunday.  I had already moved the ring to my car which we'd be loading up to head to the game.  We stopped by Dave Overstreet's house to pick up him, his kids, and a friend of his oldest son.  We loaded the car and headed to tailgate.

Food and adult-beverages were enjoyed but the time flew. At 10 till noon Lupita and I started getting ready for our tour.  Lupita went to check her makeup and I snuck into my car and slipped the ring in the fuzzy box into my right-front pocket.

We said our goodbyes to Dave and the boys, then headed to the press entrance to the ballpark. We showed our tickets and met Martha Jo, my "partner" in this surprise.  She got us to the security area where we needed to go through the metal detector. I told Lupita to go first.  They had to poke through her purse then clear a metal detector.  

I put my keys, phone, wallet, and the ring in the fuzzy black box in my White Sox cap and put it on the table for security to look through.  The guard went right to the fuzzy black box and said "What's in this, we're going to have to,"  I raised my left hand to indicate he should stop talking.  With my right I gave Lupita a gentile shove through the metal detector.  I simultaneously told the security guard in a quiet whisper that we were with Martha Jo and that's an engagement ring.  He could look but BE DISCREET and DON'T RUIN THE SURPRISE!!!! The gravity of the situation along with his knowledge of what Martha Jo does with the White Sox main office hit his brain at the same time and he ushered me through the metal detector and told me with a knowing smile to have a good game.

One more stop at a desk to copy our drivers licenses before we were taken on the worlds most lousy tour we could be taken on but it was this way completely on purpose.  Next stop, the field.

The awe of looking up at the seats, and seeing the grass of the field, home plate, the baselines, it was awesome!  Lupita was stunned by the beauty and hugeness of it all.  This was the point of our "tour" where we would be encouraged to be all Paparazzi with our cell phones.  Anyone who knows Lupita knows this isn't a problem, rather a welcome invitation.  

Ok, I got in on the awe and excitement too!  I mean I've been a White Sox fan since I was a kid. Being able to get a goofy-smiling selfie with home plate in the background turned me in to a little kid again!  It seemed to take forever and no time at all before the photographers that were part of the "tour" package came.

The photographer and his assistant both had DSLR cameras with long lenses.  We were placed on the grass of the field when the photographer uttered the words, "Are you ready?"

This does two things.  A camera and these words make most any woman straighten up, check that they look good, and that they're ready to be photographed.  But to me this was the hi-sign, my queue to...

...drop to one knee, remove the fuzzy black box from my pocket, and say the words I'd been practicing the entire last week commuting to and from work.  I said in a clear, strong, voice, "Guadalupe Rodriguez, will you marry me?"

You can see by her reaction she wasn't expecting this.  Not that we didn't know we wanted to get married.  Just that she NEVER had a clue that the package, the "tour", Martha Jo, or any of this was a setup.  After being on my knee, with Lupita bending over slightly, covering her mouth not making a sound I stood up and wrapped my arms around her.

She was half-laughing, a little bit of crying, and I learned later trying to keep from throwing up on me from the nerves that popped in when she saw me take a knee.  I whispered in her ear, "You DO still want to marry me, right?"  "Yes!" she squeaked.  "Do you want me to put the ring on your finger?"  "YES!" She squeaked louder.

My dearest Lupita was absolutely gobsmacked!  My surprise was complete.  I had done what I wanted to do.  I wanted to make this moment something she'd never forget, doing something we both loved, in a place we enjoyed being together.  Martha Jo congratulated us and escorted us inside the park to the Magellan ticket holders area bar for a champagne toast.  

This was about the time that Lupita put all the pieces together.  The dreams, the tour.  "Who all knew," she asked me.  I told her about Irma, Marco, and mama.  I told her about Dave and how I'd told him to not tell the kids as kids have a way of blurting out stuff you told them in confidence.  She asked when Irma knew, and I told her.  She was amazed Irma didn't drop her poker face that next day when she accompanied Lupita to the doctor.  She was equally amazed that her mama knew for as long as she knew.  Lupita takes her mama to breakfast or lunch every Saturday before they do mama's and our grocery shopping for the week. Then Dave, well, she wasn't surprised Dave didn't let on but none of that mattered anymore. We were escorted to an elevator where we'd go to our upgraded seats.  

Third row seats one and two just at the edge of the foul ball netting directly in front of the visiting team's on-deck circle.  Obviously able to see a little way into the visitor's dugout.

We got a game ball from the security guard after I told him we got engaged on the field right before the game.  We got sunburned.  We got a White Sox victory against Cleveland who beat us in the first two games of this three game series. What we really got was to the next step in our lives together.  We got engaged, tied together via a promise, each to the one we love.

So that's the story.  You now know the planning, the setup, and the ultimate proposal.  My fishing blog about My Greatest Catch is complete.  I can't wait to blog the wedding!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Hitting Familiar Water With An Old Friend

Dave and I have been friends over 30 years (I think)...We both fished as kids and rediscovered our love of the pastime as adults.  I haven't fished much since my divorce and the shuffling around of my life and my belongings.  Neither has Dave.  We were talking one evening and we both decided we needed to get out and fish.  Didn't care where but we both needed to feel the tug of a fish on the line.

I believe this was the Good Friday holiday.  We were both off work and a spot we used to fish when we lived in Naperville and Aurora respectively was calling to us.  We got our gear together and followed the siren song to this pond where I caught my first five pounder and where we've both caught some nice largemouth bass.

We settled into a spot and started the process of figuring out what the bass wanted to eat.  The water was murky from spring runoff so I started throwing crankbaits with chartreuse colors thinking they'd be easier to see in the water.  They were easier to see but all ran too deep and brought back weeds, not fish.  Almost on a whim I reached for a lure-type I was ahead of the curve on in my angling circles; a jointed swimbait. Specifically jointed bluegill.  I knew the bass in this pond got fat eating bluegill and figured if they weren't biting loud-colored lures, maybe they'd hit a big-ol bluegill.  They had before.  And they did again!

Rocking my amber lensed, polarized Cocoons fit overs I saw this bass through the glare of the sun on the water and got excited!  This is my first non-ice fishing catch of 2017 and I got it on the same jointed swimmer that I caught my first of 2015 on.  Pretty cool! 

Dave likes to find lures different from what other fishermen are using. That said he had a crazy-jointed swimbait too in a smaller, minnow pattern.  Using a reel up and let it die retrieve Dave hooked up with our second collective bass of the outing.

A nice, fat-bellied, pre-spawn bass came up for a picture.  One each, who will hook up next?

Me!  I got another on my bluegill swimmer.  My second around 2lbs.  Fun catching, but the action was a bit slower compared to years past for this pond.  Still, catching is catching.

Dave would get one more, and here it is.  Another fat-bellied bass.

All in all we had a good outing.  Good conversation, good company, and good catching.  It was a Good-Friday after all.  We talked on the drive back to Dave's house about fishing, catching, and ideas for the next outing.  I was thinking about writing a non-ice fishing blog and then time got away from me.  This is the first blog for open water season for 2017 for me.  I look forward to many more this season.  There's plenty of open water time left and I look forward to fishing it.