Monday, November 26, 2018

Winter Storm

My grandkids are having a Snow Day, the first of the year, and I am having one, too.   From the texts they sent me early this morning I am guessing that they are way more excited about it than I am, but there is something pleasant about being stuck inside on a snowy day.  My house is warm and cozy and there is plenty of work to be done, but it is also cyber Monday so I am pretending to shop just so that I have an excuse to stay under a blanket and sip tea.  I haven't purchased anything yet, but you never know.   I think hot cocoa will be in order later today, too, so there is lots to look forward to.
Jack is at his house 25 miles away and we talk frequently on the phone, imagining that in just a short while we will be able to snuggle in and greet future snow days together.  In fact, as we both know, it will still take some time for us to dispose of our houses and we are no closer to finding a new home that we both like.   Our wedding approaches with a blizzard of family illness that is likely to delay plans even further, and we can't help but wonder whether our wedding day will be complicated by another winter storm or the surgeries that some of our guests are facing, but we will handle whatever comes.  We know we have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Falling Into Place.

It is truly and fully the most beautiful time of year here in Mid-Michigan; the colors are gorgeous and the days are still not too cold, mostly in the 40s.   It's the perfect season for caramel apples, breakfast of champions.   Yum.
Wedding plans are moving along, although I now feel that the choice of venue was a mistake since they send changes and throw wrenches into our plans every couple of weeks.   So far we can roll with their disorganization but it has definitely made it less fun.   As an example, we originally gave a top limit of 51 guests and got a menu proposal for that number.   A week ago, long after invitations were out and responses were back, they emailed us without apology or recognition of their audacity to tell us they had decided to have a limit of 45.   Since we actually only invited 45 people, it was not a problem for us, but it makes us less and less confident in our choice.   They've also decided that the 'cozy' room where we intended (at their suggestion) to have the ceremony is not big enough and now want us to rent a second ceremony room at an additional charge.   Again, we don't much care, but it is frustrating, and thank goodness we are not starry eyed 20-somethings who had an actual vision of how this was going to go.   I keep telling myself that it will all be fine and will make good stories afterwards, but it has been a constant distraction that awakens me at 2 a.m. every few nights.

We finished the draft of our ceremony and I am happy with that, so the important work is done.   I have the dress I think I will end up wearing; it's hanging on my closet door, a simple lace top, chiffon bottom thingy, but I still need to find shoes.   His kilts finally arrived, Clan MacDonald of the Isles hunting tartan.   They got here 3 weeks later than promised but in plenty of time since we changed our original October plan.  They do not look at all like the tartan we saw on the Scottish website, so he will decide whether to wear his new ones or stick with his old traditional pattern of MacDonald of the Isle.  Either way is fine with me.   I am experimenting with make up since I don't wear it normally, and so far can't see the difference in selfies I've taken with the ridiculously expensive airbrush makeup done at the local salon, or with just moisturizer like I wear every day, or with the variety of other foundation options I've messed around with.   To my eyes I look the same ragged self in each of them.    I know this part is all vanity and just silly, but I am trying to go through the motions and make an effort, except that the downside is that I am being reminded at every turn that there is no young and blushing bride.  He would like me to wear flowers in my hair, which seems a too-young throw back to my hippie days, so I am considering feathers instead, just for fun.  I bought a little foo-foo and a friend makes fascinators that she has promised to show me soon.   I am also playing around with DIY table centerpieces and picked up maple syrup for favors at the Farmers' Market today.   I like being able to send little treats home with people so I think I'll get caramel and chocolate covered pretzel rods, too, because they are portable even for the out-of-towners and really, just because I like them.

My young musicians are practicing the Pachelbel Canon faithfully, and they are excited about the wedding, which is a tonic to me.   I still need to decide on flowers, and tag the favors, but we have a month yet to go.    

As for the old poem about what a Bride needs to have, I figure I am the "something old," and so, for that matter, is my sweet Groom.   My dress is blue,  and I will need to think of something I can borrow, I guess,  but since I'm not superstitious I'm also not too worried about that.   The coolest "something," though, is a gift my bloggy friend Kim from Snug Harbor Bay made for me,  a gorgeous bracelet that she stamped with our names and wedding date.          How sweet was that?!   I was so surprised and will treasure it forever, both as a reminder of my wedding and as a sign of her sweet friendship.   Besides her blog, Kim has a lovely Etsy shop and several physical booths at Antiques Et Cetera in Kentucky with TONS of stuff for sale.    She is such an example of someone who went after her dreams and made them happen with grit and hard work.   Thank you so much, Kim!
We have what I hope will be our final meeting with the venue coordinator this Friday.   If the venue works out as we are (relatively) sure it will, we have things well in hand.     Besides, as my sweetie points out whenever I get stressed, no matter what else goes wrong, at the end of it all, we will be married.   Life is good.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Checking In & Whining

My goodness, I am amazed at how much work there is in planning the smallest, simplest wedding.   We are only inviting family, and only family members who live close by, at that  -- we will have a second, much larger celebration after the Michigan wedding in Illinois, where the bulk of my fiancĂ©'s family will gather -- so fewer than 40 people are expected.  We are far too small a group to justify the large halls that are nearby, and many of the smaller venues had a minimum of 50 people.  It is not a big group, but it is too many people to mingle comfortably in either of our houses.   The challenge was unexpected -- it took us 7 weeks to find and lock down a venue -- but we finally jumped that hurdle this week.

And now I need to find a dress.  I know many women who shop, and who dress, and who are lovely.   I am not that woman.   It was my stated intention to never wear anything again, now that I am retired, except jeans and t-shirts.   And yet here I am.   My beloved is not on board with my suggestion that I wear jeans and a t-shirt that states "BRIDE" on the chest.   And since he will be wearing kilts, I will not wear pants.  So I have been shopping myself into a panic.   

This chore is not as easy as you might think.  I am nearly 70, short, not in the best shape of my life, formed something like a cantaloupe or at least a roma tomato, with arms that no one needs to see bare, and nothing nothing nothing looks good on me.  I will not wear white and probably should not wear black or navy, my go-to colors.    And anyway,  nothing nothing nothing looks bridal on this body.   

Our guests are a casual group, only one or two of them are likely to even own a suit, but even if our invitations didn't say "business casual/daytime," I would not be inclined to wear the full ballgowns that my sister favors, although I recognize (having been told repeatedly) that I am allowed to be more formally dressed than our guests. I don't help the process, I guess, because I don't want long, don't want short, don't want sparkle, but don't want to disappoint my groom, either, by not dressing the part to the best of my ability.   I will not admit to anyone how may dresses I've tried on,  or how much I've spent on ordering and returning internet purchases, and so far all to no avail.   

I think I've tried really hard to find something, but now I need to try harder, because now we've set a date -- December 8 -- and the invitations have been mailed.  We are starting to work on the ceremony and have talked to the officiant.   It's getting real, y'all, and I need to find something to wear.     Yes, I know that this is a silly and fortunate problem to have.  I am so very lucky, and we are happy and excited . . .  but I can't help but wonder, just a bit, if I should have talked him into a courthouse wedding before we got this snowball rolling!    

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Travel Karma?

It has been hot here -- again.     Although we generally get relief after a few days, we have been having more frequent hot snaps in the past few years.  When my kids were small, we could generally count on one really hot week each summer.   We didn't even bother with air conditioning.   Not in my house and not in my car.  Now we have several really hot days each summer month.   Even though I live further north now, I cannot imagine living without air conditioning, which is a little troubling.

This has been a busy week, with more happening than usual in my life.    My sweetie and I decided, after the never-ending flights to Oklahoma, to take a train to Illinois because one of his sisters, whose daughter was recently married, was having a wedding party to celebrate.   Yikes, our travel day was deja vu all over again!   We left for the train station at 6:30 a.m., boarded at 8:00, traveled only 400 miles, but didn't arrive in Illinois until 11:00 p.m. that night!   Most of that time was spent sitting still on the tracks in the middle of nowhere because of some switch work and dispatch problems.   Still, it wasn't all bad --  it might even be considered good news that we were hundreds of miles away when our search and rescue team back home was called out to search for one unfortunate subject, since temperatures got up to 104 degrees and the dog team we called in to assist got skunked!    The search manager was even able to phone me -- repeatedly -- for help, since, although I was stuck on a train, I did have my phone and internet access, so I was able to send out notifications and gather information for them from afar.

So, in the big scheme of things, we were pretty comfortable.  The worst part of our travel woes was that we completely missed that night's party with family, someone had to pick us up at the train station much later than they expected, AND I missed a chance to mani/pedis with the other women-folk.   But the wedding party the next day was so nice and it was fun to visit with everyone, so the trip was well worth the little bit of inconvenience.

And besides, we had a surprise up our sleeves for his family since an event popped up between our trip to Oklahoma and the trip to Illinois.  We decided that it wasn't appropriate to share our news at the wedding party, but we all met for breakfast the next day so that we could announce that (drum roll, please) we are getting married!   I had just told his sister flat out, in Oklahoma, that we would not be marrying because her brother really didn't want to.  But when he asked, to my great surprise, after being with him for the past six years, I just couldn't say no.   Go figure.   His sister teased me that I lied to her . . . at least I hope she is teasing, lol.
Now we each have a million things to do, and for sure, the time for talk and procrastination is over!  My house has to be decluttered and it is (past) time to get rid of things I don't really need or want.    I expect he is facing much of the same because he also has a house and his own piles of Stuff.   It is not going to be an easy road, because, besides both having way too much stuff, we each also have troubled adult kids who are apt to create what has become typical stress and drama during all our lives.   But we've decided that we will figure out a way to get married before we solve all of the world's problems, knowing that there will be countless tasks to do in the months and years after.   His strokes last November have convinced us that daylight's burning, that we don't want to let each other go, and that some things are too important to put off.  And for me, from a practical standpoint, getting us all into one house will simplify my life in many ways.  It is hard for both of us not to spend a little time with our ""wish it were" dreams, but it is what it is and we plan to make the best of it.

Today is the 4th of July and a low-key day for us this year.  We celebrated it mostly by not working on any of the  messes that need to be un-messed and spending time together.   I bought a little fabric (which I need like a hole in the head), we went to the farmers' market, and we drove around in my air conditioned car to look at houses that are for sale in the area.   Tonight we went to the movies for popcorn and Deadpool 2, which he enjoyed and I shook my head at . . .  the Deadpool movies are irreverent, filled with winks and nods to other works, and so silly that I can't help but secretly enjoy them.   We missed all the big fireworks displays, which is sort of a shame, but people will likely continue to shoot them off all week, so I am sure I will see one or two, and that will be plenty this year.

Tomorrow it's back to work on our attempts to move forward in this new life we've chosen.  We hope to choose a date by next week and then let the planning begin.  We don't want to go to a courthouse but want a small and simple ceremony with some of our close family.  Since I have officiated at a lot of weddings, we have a pretty good idea of what we can expect.  The details will iron into place pretty quickly, at least we hope so.

I hope your summer adventures are going well.   Seems like mine are just beginning.

(Marie Louise, I always send an email reply to you before I remember that you are a no-reply blogger, so I know my replies are not reaching you!   I appreciate your comments and hope you had a wonderful visit here -- I would love to hear all about it!)

Monday, June 18, 2018

OK and Home Again

It is hot here the last day or so, in the 90s, but no worries here in Mid-Michigan, where the forecast for Tuesday is a return to 70 degree weather.  I do not like the heat, I do not like the bitter cold, but nothing here lasts for long.    It truly is a pleasant peninsula, as our State motto proclaims.

My sweetie and I went to Oklahoma last week to visit part of his very large family.  I packed a table runner (which I forgot to photograph when it was finished just before I packed!) and a little purse as hostess gifts, which were graciously received.
The trips there and back were daunting, as our planes were cancelled, rescheduled, and re-routed in both directions, making me think of Dorothy and Toto as we were swept back and forth through bumpy skies, coming and going.  The day we were scheduled to leave, our flight was cancelled and we were told to come back the next day.  Even then, we ended up sitting on a plane for the entire day before we got to the correct Oklahoma city!  The return trip was not much better, with the flight cancelled minutes before we left for the airport, sending us scrambling to reschedule again.  Our scheduled, expected-to-be relatively short trips there and back both took long, full days to complete.

But finally we arrived, and his twin and her husband were gracious hosts.  We spent the days talking and watching their children and their children's children and even one child's child's child.    People say that family is everything and this family has a richness of blessings that were a joy to spend time with.   

They say it was hot there, but I wouldn't know.  We only left the house twice, once so that the parents of the youngest children could have one blissful hour with adult company over dinner, and once to visit the Oklahoma City Memorial, which is both beautiful and sobering.   I loved that the memorial named all the survivors, recognizing that their lives were changed forever, as well as those who died and those who helped in the rescue efforts.   There were forest rangers on site and they did a wonderful job of explaining the truly moving symbolism behind every bit of the memorial.     Not one part of it was done carelessly, from entry and exit ways, to the size and placement of the chairs, to the place of honor where the Survivor Tree still stands.
Back home again,  I started work on a little flag quilt that will be a gift later for someone who is retired from the military.  
I had a great time on our trip, but it is always good to get home again.   And I was excited to get a couple more of my quilts back in the mail.  Getting them back is like seeing old friends after a long absence.

And now let the summer festivities begin in earnest!   I am hoping for some serious pool time with the Littles before it gets cold again!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The First Half

It's June already.  I am repeatedly amazed at how quickly my life is spinning by.  We are entering the half-way point of 2018, today.  It seems like only yesterday that I wondered if it would ever be warm again, and now we have spent a week complaining about the heat!  

My life continues in its up and down roller coaster path.  I am enjoying the highs and the plains, while trying to be philosophical about the dips.  Meanwhile,  I continue to quilt.

I've completed 13 quilt tops this year, and one little baby rag quilt.    Although there are a couple more quilts on the drawing board, I'm slowing down a bit now that my favorite scraps have been used up.  And I feel the need to get to some other sewing projects.  A friend has asked for a little purse for her daughter, and I've given away all my table runners so I need to make a few of those.  they make nice hostess gifts and are so easy to put together.   And my periodic embroidered quilt needs some love if I'm really going to get it finished by Christmas.   I have tons of elements still to embroider, and then it will still need to be pieced into a finished top and bordered before I can even think about having it quilted.  All I've done so far are the Transition Metals and the Lanthanoids, although I have also cut out the squares for the remaining elements.

In the Old Dog New Tricks category, I learned the truth this week of the old saying,  'Last one in's a rotten egg.'   I love my farm eggs and so did my mother and grandmother, so it was drilled into me from childhood that one must always, always,  always crack each egg into a separate bowl before adding it to a dish or recipe.  Obedient child that I was and am, I have always done so.   But this week, running late for an appointment and wanting to have a quick breakfast with my Sweetie before I left, I cracked my eggs -- one, two, three, four -- straight into the skillet.   Number four was, indeed, the last one in.   And for the first time in my entire life, it was rotten.    Good gravy, what a smell and, equally disgusting, what a sight.   Neither of us has been in the mood for eggs again since.   I don't think I'll neglect the egg-cracking rule again any time soon.   A word to the wise . . . 

The appointment I was rushing to was for my monthly pedicure.  I was never so happy to immerse my feet in scented oil as I was after smelling that rotten egg that morning!

This week was also the occasion of one of the two weddings I am officiating this year.  The couple had been together for decades and had raised their children together.   No Bridal jitters, no anxious Groom,  just relaxed and happy faces all around.   The wedding was  held in the barn on their property, with the sun streaming in and their family all around.  They knew exactly what they were promising and had a track record of keeping those promises.  A beautiful day for a beautiful couple. 

In family news, my grandkids are now big enough for full-sized adult strings instruments, which means a full-sized cello and a full-sized violin.   Since they were using mere fractions of the instruments when they began six years ago, it is a measure of how time has flown by.   They expect to be moving into the Youth Orchestra in the fall.   No surprise, I love hearing them play.

And today, after several days near 90 degrees, it was cool enough again for winter jackets.   Perfect sleeping weather.   Oh, Michigan!   I do love this State.   Like life itself, filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Business As Usual

I finally saw a crocus!   We had the most beautiful day on Thursday, 68 degrees and sunny.  I took
my second outside walk of the season -- as is usual for me this time of year, I passed people in short sleeves, shorts and tank tops, while I was dressed in jeans, socks, long sleeve shirt and a fleece jacket.   I was only a little chilly.    Yesterday was nice, too.

Of course, the sweet Spring weather was short lived.  We have winter storm warnings today, threatening 3/4" of ice and up to ten inches of snow.  Just to keep us on our toes.   It is a bit over 30 degrees as I write this, and temps are dropping.  Frankly, I'm starting to resent the ice and snow a little bit.  And it is obvious that the ice and snow doesn't care one bit.

The simple quilt top I was piecing earlier is finished, with a thin border I found in my stash, and I resurrected an old one, probably the first one I tried piecing together, and will have that quilted, too.  What the heck, I might as well start a whole stack of quilts, going from nothing to a dozen in the first half of the year.
In other news . . . I tried a new bread recipe this week when I had dinner with my kids.   They call it Miracle Bread and, although that might be an overstatement, it was pretty darn good.  I hesitate to even call it a bread recipe since it was so ridiculously easy, but what else do you call a process that ends up as bread?   There is literally no kneading.   Dry ingredients are combined, including a smaller than usual amount of yeast and a larger than usual amount of water, with a spoon -- not the kneading hook of my mixer! -- and it sits overnight.  Then the whole mess is gently dumped onto parchment paper and baked in a pre-heated, screaming hot dutch oven.  That's it.    For sure, it is probably not as good as the artisan breads I used to make, or as good as my bloggy friend Barbara at Cat Patches makes now, but it is delicious nonetheless.   And in my lazy elder years, easy peasy has a charm of its own.  

I am hunkering down now, watching the freezing rain outside my window and tamping down any hope of seeing my sweetie or my family this weekend if the weather gurus are right.   I am also wishing that I had stocked up on comfort (let's face it, I really mean junk) food!  No matter, I will find something to make or cook or bake from the staples in my pantry, because pretty clearly I am not in danger of starving anytime soon.  :)