Monday, September 29, 2008

Runaway Bride

The wedding was beautiful in its simplicity, very much the bride and groom and their view of life. No big frills, but elegant in its own way. After the family members, groomsmen, and bridesmaids were down the aisle, and the adorable flower girls had prepared the bridal pathway with their rose petals, I closed the back door. No bride? The minister feigned surprise. "Isn't someone missing?" he asked. "Do we have a runaway bride situation?" I played along and put my hands up in the air, as everyone of course had turned around to look at the closed door and saw me instead of the anticipated bride. Then Brian turned to the groom and began to talk to him about what was about to take place ... said some meaningful things ... most of which I didn't hear as I was nervously listening for the "cue" sentence. When it arrived I flung open the door, gave Bride and dad a pat, straightened the train, and down she went to the waiting arms of her awestruck groom.

(I didn't know that part of my job description was pinning a flower on each of these guys and all the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers, but as far as I know I didn't pierce any of them!)

After the wedding was a great party, barbecue style. Many of the casual centerpiece flowers were put together by the bridesmaids after their brunch. After the new Mr. and Mrs. changed and ran through some birdseed, they got into their incredibly decorated car (what a fun tradition, right?) and drove to ... our car ... where I had copies of the marriage license. Guess they wanted to take one along since they were leaving the country. Today I'll take that large pink envelope and mail it to the powers that be. My last official duty as W.C.

(My photos have my "artistic?"  bend to them, so as not to steal prime time from the real wedding photos.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

here comes the bride

I never thought I would enjoy being a wedding "coordinator" or "director" (well, honestly, maybe I thought I might a little bit, as I like organizing), but when my dear friend, the mother of the bride, said she knew I was the one for the job, what could I say? And the bride I've known since she was in her mama's womb. I used to take her out for "coffee" when I could barely see her face across the table above her mug of hot chocolate. 
So actually, it is an honor to serve her this way, and she and her groom  have a great group of friends who are wonderful to work with.  

This morning is a few hours of quiet. The busy rehearsal day is over--bridal brunch, rehearsal, and festive rehearsal dinner; and now I am anticipating a lovely wedding in a few hours. Once I get them all down the aisle I'll breathe a big sigh of relief.  The flower girls are just loving dropping the white rose petals (and picking them up again after practicing), and at the end of the ceremony, they get to reach up and each grab a hand of the tallest usher, Zach, and walk back up the aisle with him. How fun is that!

Photo: Bride dancing with her cousin flower girls.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Bow Baby

 Lil' Miss B. wears big bows well. I hope to see her smiling face this weekend!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

petrol cycles

Driving past W*almart this afternoon I noticed a huge bundle of traffic. Lo and behold--gas lines. Long and barely moving. Of course I thought of the 70s, and it seems like just yesterday I was inching my car forward in a long line. Then a question was, is more gas wasted waiting in line with the engine running, or turning it off and on as one moves forward? I can't remember the answer.

Right now, for the most part, there is no gas on at least this side of our fair city. Which is why, when this particular place had some fuel, the huge line formed instantly. Guess you need to plan on 2-3 hours to put something in your tank.

Not so eldest son, who is driving around on "E." His fiancee, bless her heart, brought him a gas can (what we called "Gerri tins" in Africa), of fuel from a friend. For some reason he had to syphon it in his tank. It came out too fast and he got a face full as well as a mouthful. 

Back in time again, now in Africa.  No fuel there either--we called it petrol. So the Gardener would constantly drive around on "E" in case there would be petrol available somewhere. I think finding some happened once or twice our whole time there. So when I would get in the truck to go somewhere, I'd see the "E" and be nervous about running out of fuel.  It was a sort of conflict between us.

One day I did run out of fuel. That is a story for another time. But I came home and asked for instructions in syphoning petrol (we always kept a supply in a barrel on our property.) I wasn't half bad at it. From then on, this stubborn female would boldly syphon at least a quarter of a tank into our truck before heading out. And I never ran out of fuel again. Gentle Gardener was okay with the way I dealt with my foolish fears (or not so foolish!)

If we live long enough, things sure cycle around, don't they? I told Eldest I knew how to syphon but thankfully he was fine doing it himself. I'm happy never to do it again, and certainly hope I can hold to that.

(not my photo)

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Generous Spirit

"The loving heart, which seeks to offer all, even disappointments and vexations which touch the tenderest places, to God, will be more likely to grow in generosity of spirit than one who bears grudgingly what cannot be averted." (H.L. Sidney Lear)

Sometimes I get disappointed, particularly in people and my expectations or hopes for them. It can be a deeply searing pain, touching the "tenderest of places." I think it partially comes from my personality of being involved with and caring about people. But some of it comes from what I hope they will give to me (not material things, mind you). 

It's an attitude check I have to make all the time. I need to give grace and let go of my hopes, having a generous spirit, always giving the "benefit of the doubt," and realizing I never know a full story. It's a much better, healthier way to live, when I have this right.

"Your portion is to love, to be silent, to suffer, to sacrifice your inclinations, in order to fulfill the will of God.  ...  All we have to do is give ourselves up to God day by day, without looking further. He carries us in his arms as a loving mother carries her child." (Francois de la Mothe Fennelon)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fountain Dinners and "Hole-in-Walls"

Recently we enjoyed a gourmet dinner at our favorite restaurant. An outdoor picnic at a fountain in the downtown area of our fair city. There's nothing like this for a romantic setting:  a warm breeze, twilight settling in over skyscrapers, bypassers to "people watch" (a wedding party this most recent time), and, of course, the wonderful sound of a fountain splashing.

I have to admit I'm not a big fan of expensive restaurants. Not that I can afford them anyway, but the few times we've had a not-to-be-wasted-buy-one-get-one-free coupon or a gift card, I've found it stressful. Stressful because this is a "big event" and I must choose just the right menu item to make the evening simply as spectacularly enjoyable as possible. Maybe this comes from growing up in a family where we did not go out to eat (did anyone in my generation?), and from living on a fixed income.  I might also add, (and not to sound pious or judgemental at all, please) that having lived amidst poverty in a 2/3 world country, it does give one pause to spend a lot of money putting food in your stomach.

All that aside, it's not to say I don't enjoy a good meal out. But my favorite memories are of those--what we call--"hole in a wall" little places. They may not look so pretty, but the food is usually good (and cheap), and the atmosphere, a little quirky at best, is memorable. (Isn't that what a lot of it is about?)

Some of my favorite restaurant memories:  our literal tea-in-a-wall in Bath, England--just a cozy tea shop in the wall of a bridge (pictured above) ; a marvelous but tacky Greek restaurant tucked at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge; ham and eggs at a Pennsylvania diner; a sweaty 
sandwich on a damp table overlooking a gushing river; and a dark Greek restaurant opening onto a sunlit, crowded Amsterdam street (where they started us out with a tiny cleanse-your-palette-zinger). Memorable too is the pizza palace in a small basement in Arad, Romania; a cave-like hamburger place in Chicago where our footsteps on the stone floors were softened by a carpet of peanut shells; a roadside "chop bar" in Ghana––we sat on low stools alongside others, eating with our fingers out of a common stew pot; the lush tropical interior of the Casa Bonita in Denver––on the hour a waiter dives over a waterfall into a pool way down below; and my most favorite here at home--a Mexican restaurant that is so incredibly cozy and neighborly, we are drawn to go back again.

Some think we're strange ("we" includes the Gardener, as he favors the same things), and it may confirm our kids' suspicions that we "were (or are?)  hippies,"  but this is how we are. An cliche-type ending would be:  "The 'best of all' is our table here at home, and true it is." A little candlelight and some cloth napkins go a long way to memory-ville, especially with the wealth that I call friends gathered around our table with us, usually for a meal we all have a part in. Richness, indeed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

first phone conversation

Youngest son was talking to the Gardener tonight and sweet granddaughter was crying in the background. "Hey, Pop," said Youngest, a.k.a. "the new father," "wanna talk to her?"

"Oh she's a little young for that I think."  

"What?" I interjected, "you can talk to her!"

So they did. Grandfather's quiet voice saying sweet things to a crying baby.  She stopped and began to listen. And then she started to talk back (cooing.)

The first of many, God willing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I still miss these kiddos when I drive in to our cul-de-sac and they're not in their old driveway waiting to tell me something. But if you'd like a smile today, read what their mom wrote about Jack, the guy on the right.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

back at me

So yesterday was the much anticipated (dreaded?)  computer class. I was up early, did the long drive to the other side of town...and got settled in good time at the computer. After an hour in class I was sent home because I had no backs to my shoes. (Stop and absorb that! I'm talking about a computer class at a training center very far from the esteemed hospital where I work. I can understand dress code for employees at the hospital for classes, but at a training center---and an all day class?)

Believe me I had a few hard feelings on the drive home, and not a few tears of frustration. I wore the shoes I always wear, and, in my humble opinion,  I looked quite respectable--more than many of the others in the class with backs on their shoes. I happened to be at a place where my feet were visible to the little black suit that apparently checks shoes (she actually had three pages of images of acceptable and unacceptable shoes.)

I drove back at one to do a 1 to 10 (pm) class. With the right shoes on. At the training center I counted no less than five women with open backed shoes, not being sent home. 

But the point is, I had to remind myself of what I wrote here earlier. The post about God's providence and how He knows best. I had to believe there were reasons for yet another postponement. (I did have a better instructor in this class.)  So once I had wrestled with my fretting sin nature, I accepted another postponement as from God. And, amazingly I was filled with a wonderful peace as I drove the long drive back to class. Only two more classes to go. You can be sure I'll remember to wear the correct shoes.

(not my photo or fingers)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Little Time to Herself

The day our little granddaughter was baptized was a special day for all of us. She kept pretty busy with all of us loving relations. At one point I took her up to her crib so she could watch her mobile and listen to the music. Out came the camera and this little movie is the result. Every time I watch it I find myself smiling at her. You may too. (Sally, this is especially for you!!)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

a day that was meant to be

There was a lot going on in our lives yesterday ... and today I was slated to attend eight hours of computer class--learning a whole new system for my job at the hospital. (The ol' brain isn't what it used to be and wasn't great to start with ...)  So I garnered up some prayer from a few friends. In record number they checked their email soon after I wrote and replied that they understood and would be praying for all the things I shared.

"Something" caused me to look over my class schedule before I went to bed last night. I was horrified to realize I had forgotten an eight hour computer class last week. I had actually scratched it off in my calendar book. Totally mystified I phoned work and confirmed I needed to take the classes in order.  So I would not be attending class today. I kept thinking about those friends praying for me in class all day ... which of course did not occur. But I knew those prayers were just as effective for "whatever..."

I offered to work today, knowing we were "slammed" with newborns. I always wonder "why" plans are changed like this ... was there a specific reason why I crossed that class off my calendar? Could God have been in it? (of course, smile broadly.)  On my way to work pre-dawn this morning, at a red light, I was slammed from the rear by a careless driver. My back was already aching and strangely the big bump actually felt kind of good. So the other driver and I pulled over in the dark and assessed the damage. It looked like my rubberized bumper would pull out nicely on our old CRV. But had it been our other car, the damage most likely would have been extensive. So right then and there I thought about those prayers, and how I "happened" to take the CRV.

Throughout the day I kept "looking" for a reason for being there. My manager is a believer and we even talked about God's providence. "Did you figure out why you needed to be here today?" she asked with a big smile on her face. Truly they needed my help they were so busy. But I knew I didn't need to "see" the reason. I have such firm belief in God's providence and am so sure there was a specific reason for the changes in my day's plans. I also know I may never see the reason, but am confident that  life is an inter-working of many things that God is putting together across His world. I'm just glad I could be a part of that today.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Aching Arms

A grandmother told me years ago that her arms felt like they were achingly empty after a visit with her grand baby. My arms are aching today.

Photo: Sweet BKC gazes at the wonder of her grandpa's beard.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Puzzling Letter

An interesting packet arrived in the mail from a familiar address in southern England. It was a bit thick, and I tore into it intriqued with what it might contain. It was a puzzle letter from a dear friend there. I have never put a puzzle together so quickly! I do like to keep in touch, and I have been waiting to hear from J for a long time. Never had to work so hard to read a letter before (smile.) After reading it all, how cool to turn it over and see the picture it made on the other side!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


When we decided to celebrate Barbarino's birthday, I called it a "LNO." When some didn't know what that meant, I realized LNO was homeschooling lingo we used years ago when we referred to social evenings that we moms occasionally had to get a break. We called them "Ladies' Night Out" or "LNO." Having men at our side is wonderful, but sometimes it's just plain fun to have the girls only. So this time we had a great time eating dinner together and celebrating our friend's life.

But the main point of this is the cupcakes that Lydia Grace made. She certainly seasoned with grace what could have been a bit of a flop and showed extreme creativity and flexibility. To get to the main point, it seems that the cupcakes sort of overflowed as they baked. Kind of like the flat topped mushrooms sprouting up all over our fair city with all the blessed rain we've been having. Lydia had had all kinds of ideas of how she would beautify these cupcakes but she never dreamed that they'd end up hats!  Sure enough, she dumped those girls over, iced them, decorated the brim with whip cream and added bits of fruit. Gourmet! If she hadn't had so much fun telling the tale, we would never have guessed they were not what she had planned.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day for Me

I've always gotten Labor Day a little confused.  When I was a kid, we'd visit my grandparents each summer for a week and every evening about the same time, my grandfather would close his newspaper and say, "Well, folks, tomorrow is Labor Day for me. Good night."  We'd go over to him and accept his wet kiss, and then he'd rise from his chair and up the stairs he would go. We were on vacation, but he had to work early the next morning. 

So that always comes to mind when I think of Labor Day. (And I'll be laboring myself this Labor Day). I have only one Labor Day holiday cemented firmly in my memory. Just after I turned "sweet sixteen" we moved 1000 miles from the home I had always known. Our new church happened to be near my mom's family. That Labor Day my aunts and their families arrived at our house armed with rakes, shovels, and leaf bags, and helped us spiff up a badly neglected parsonage yard. Much appreciated and much remembered. (And how I loved that house. I didn't live too long in it before I headed off to college, but I loved it's nooks and crannies, creaking wood floors, and history.) 

Photo: my grandfather as young man in rear, center. At the far left is Nita of the previous post.

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