Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Know He Had to Pick Someone

...but Joe Biden? JOE? BIDEN?

Good grief. God help us all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recent Stuff

The past month has been full of all kinds of exciting things. We went to New Orleans twice in July--once to drop Miss Baby off for art camp, and then once again to pick her up. The Junior Norwegian was with us by the time we went the second trip. Since he'd never been to New Orleans, he had an adventure. He trekked through the French Quarter with his dad to see the wonderful D-Day Museum and the Aquarium of the Americas, while Miss Baby, my sister and I went to Crabby Jack's and had this:

If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, Crabby Jack's roasted duck po boy would definitely be a contender. Miss Baby ALWAYS opts for the catfish, but I also love the half'n'half (half oyster and half shrimp). Pour on the Louisiana Red hot sauce and stand back peoples. Crabby Jack's is small, hot and crowded, but so worth it. The photo above represents HALF of what you get for $9. You couldn't buy that much duck to roast for sandwiches for nine bucks, much less the crusty bread and dressings. I believe a fully dressed and wrapped sandwich could be used as a weapon, much like a Louisville Slugger. And in New Orleans, sometimes that is a good thing.

Baby Britta is now teenager Britta, and that means we finally had to make the decision to have her altered. This was not an easy task, since she is truly a terrific little dog and would have beautiful and smart puppies. However, an excellent personality is not always a guarantee that a dog will be a good mother, and we do think there are enough animals in the world who need good homes without us operating as amateur breeders. The Norwegian made the appointment and took her to the vet, where she was pampered and loved. Two weeks later, she's doing fine and has regained the weight she lost. Saturday she basked regally in the sun on the side porch with her dad.

Somewhere about that same time (early August), Miss Baby had a most eventful orthodontist appointment. After being in the chair for about an hour, she went downstairs to the parking lot and completely tanked. She swears she didn't really pass out, but the Norwegian had to fireman-carry her limp, unconscious self back upstairs for a mop-up of her bloody knees.

By the time they got home, she was bleeding again. I took her on a circuitous tour around town, in an un-air-conditioned Subaru in 100 degree heat (while wearing panty hose, no less), of some of the nicer minor medical clinics, one of which didn't accept our health insurance and the other which had closed mysteriously. We finally ended up at a hospital emergency room 15 miles from home (did I mention we live two miles from an excellent teaching hospital?) where she took seven stitches in her right knee. There was some high drama for a few days surrounding pain, itching and the general novelty of having black thread in your kneecap, but she healed up pretty nicely, and even removed her own stitches in the bathroom, much to my combined relief and disgust. Plus, showing up on the first day of seventh grade with a gaping wound apparently earns you all kinds of kid-cred.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wedding Sweatshop, part 1

I'm getting married in 37 days. It's only taken me fourteen years, countless miles, more bad dates than I care to think about and just a few sleepless nights to get to this point. Some people do marriage the easy way--they find someone wonderful at a young age, get married, have some nice children and live comparatively happily ever after.

I actually tried this route, twice, with Bad Mistake Number One and Bad Mistake Number Two. Without going into a great amount of detail, let's just say I got the worst of my life's crises out of the way while I was still young and healthy enough to withstand them.

So now, at the ripe old age of forty-mumble-something, I'm getting married in 37 days. The Norwegian tells me he loves me, he tells me I'm beautiful and that I'm a good mother, he tells me he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I'm awed and humbled and excited and amazed at all of this, but in the sweet way that he has, he doesn't just say these things, but helps me to believe them about myself as well. There's so much to love about this man, but I guess to sum it all up would be to say he's just himself, and that is so wonderful.

Planning a wedding at this age is completely different from planning a wedding at an earlier age. Having been down this ahem, aisle before, I'm not only older, but I've learned a few things along the way. Not that there haven't been the giddy moments of bride-like excitement and anticipation, but for the most part, this has been a dream-time of thinking small, looking deep within ourselves and finding what we really want--from life, from marriage and from this one celebratory day as well.

And this is how it really should be.

We're getting married at the best possible place--home. Several reasons--the desire to keep the festivities small and intimate and health and mobility issues of various family members -- played a key role in this decision. In fact, our house-hunting centered as much around "could we have the wedding we want in this house?" as did "could we finish raising our two teenagers in this house?" We found the perfect place in our half-acre of greenspace. The house has been duly blessed by our parish priest and is now a fit place, even in the eyes of the church, to start our life together.

Keeping it small means doing a lot of things ourselves, but that's okay. A lot of the websites and magazines ground out by the behemoth wedding industry devote a great deal of time and space to wedding budgets. There are even charts to advise what "average" weddings generally cost in a given zip code. For instance, the "average" wedding in our zip code of midtown Memphis, Tennessee suggests we should be spending roughly the cost of brand new SUV to tie our particular knot. Thank goodness this wedding will be anything but "average." The Norwegian and I are, admittedly, unusual people, and naturally, our wedding will combine our religious and family traditions, but on a scale manageable enough to keep it enjoyable for everyone involved. And that certainly includes us, first and foremost.

Once we decided on a budget, we immediately began looking for ways to come in lower. This has become something of a game almost, as we delight in great finds at estate sales and thrift stores and continue to come up with accoutrements that are just the right thing. This entire experience has been a great pre-marital exercise for us both, as we have the opportunity to examine closely what truly matters to us individually (him--family traditions and Navy heritage; me -- comfortable shoes and a taste of vintage) and as a couple (all of the above, along with a good photographer and a caterer who understands us). It's been so easy to agree on just about everything--from old Blue Willow serving pieces, to the vintage lace dress for Dear Daughter found at a yard sale, to the quasi-Mediterranean menu Elio the magnificent has planned for us. Along the way, we've ditched everyday wedding expectations (cheesy favors, garter tossing and flower girls) for homemade cakes and candies, a wonderful Gipsy jazz quartet and his family's heirloom wedding solje.

We designed our own save-the-date cards and invitations, using the great Alfred Eisenstaedt V-J day photo, and printed them on the Mac'n'Smac. Here they are, drying on our dining room table. The joy and exuberance captured in this photo illustrates perfectly how we feel about one another and our family, and was the perfect image for the invitations.

Friends and family are helping out with decorations. Here, MelBoe and Dear Daughter try out combinations of colored tulle for swathing our side porch. We're draping our leprous old wrought iron railing in the equivalent of two football fields of six-inch tulle. It really makes a difference!

Dear Daughter has started helping me make candies for the reception. Last night we dipped the first batches of about 300 creme de menthe chocolates.

A small, at-home wedding will require at least 100 yards of assorted colored ribbon. Don't try to fight it. Resistance is futile. Just make the run to Michael's. Then plan to go back again for more. At least twice.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Grace-Filled Poem for Today

by Kay Ryan

Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll,
a four-oared helmet,
she can ill afford the chances she must take
in rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
a packing-case places, and almost any slope
defeats her modest hopes.
Even being practical,
she's often stuck up to the axle on her way
to something edible. With everything optimal,
she skirts the ditch
which would convert her shell into a serving dish. She lives
below luck-level, never imagining some lottery
will change her load of pottery to wings.
Her only levity is patience,
the sport of truly chastened things.