Wednesday, June 25, 2008
There were several poignant moments during the day - my husband (who prefers sweat pants, t-shirts and slippers) dressed up in a tux and looking oh so delicious; two of my sons standing as ushers while a third did a reading and my grandson actually behaving as ring bearer. My entire family (except for one niece) gathered together for the first time ever - my siblings, nieces, in-laws - it was wonderful.
But the moment that brought it all home for me that evening was when the DJ called all married couples to the dance floor. As we swayed around the floor, he kept eliminating couples by years married - all those married less than five years, please step back; ten years; fifteen; and so on. Until there were only two couples left - my youngest brother and his wife, and my husband and myself. And I knew my brother hadn't been married nearly as long as me. My daughter swears she did not orchestrate this. That it was random chance. But finally, there my husband and I stood, in all our finery, next to my daughter and her new husband, as she presented me with a bouquet to honor us for being the longest married couple there. Thirty-five years.
When asked what was the secret to our long marriage - our answer was a sense of humor and communication.
And it is.
But it is also about finding the right person at the right time.
And I did.
So here's to all the brides out there - new and experienced. May you have long and happy lives and love throughout time.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Whew. What a weekend! In case you missed some of the previous entries, this weekend was my daughter's wedding. To recap...
Thursday and Friday were spent picking up various people at train stations and airports and shuttling them to hotels, inns, or our home.
Friday evening was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The weather was perfect (it was an outdoor wedding) and the rehearsal went quickly and well. Then we went to a nearby town for the dinner - which I understand was delicious. Unfortunately, my crab stuffed flounder was liberally sprinkled with paprika - which I am allergic to. They were very careful not to put any peppers in the stuffing, but forgot about the paprika. Also unfortunately, it led to a major asthma attack and my husband ended up taking me home early - which still meant 10 p.m. Which was not a bad thing, according to my oldest son who accompanied us home. The party was so loud, you had to shout to the person sitting next to you just to be heard. Our other two sons didn't arrive home until the wee hours of the morning. From the restaurant, the revelers headed to a bar and got even louder.
Saturday morning, I got a call from my daughter wanting to know if I could bring stomach relief supplies with me when I came as several of the party goers from the night before were not feeling so well. :)
I picked up my d-i-l around lunch time and we headed for the inn where the wedding was to be held. Though the weathermen were calling for storms, the sky was beautiful. A perfect day. We got our hair done and d-i-l and I headed off to our room to change. The bridesmaids were taking care of my daughter and, except for ironing her dress, I wasn't needed... so off I went. Our room was incredible. The inn is an old mansion filled with antiques. The bed in our room needed a three tier step stool just to climb up to it! And the bathroom - I wish I'd come an hour earlier as there was a deep whirlpool tub there just begging for a good soak. Oh well.
We spent the next couple of hours dressing ourselves, each other, the bride.... getting corsages or boutineers on. The only glitch was when the bride spilled some face powder on her dress. After brushing it off, the coloring could not be seen by anyone - except the bride who declared it ruined. It took several of us to talk her down, but we did. Around three, the family headed out for photos - which was not fun. The heat had risen and standing in the sun in black tuxes and other finery was less than enjoyable. Plus trying to keep the bride hidden from the other guests.
The wedding was at 4:30 - and came off without a hitch. I even managed not to cry. Then more photos and cocktail hour until the reception.
The reception was beautiful with good food, good friends and an excellent (if somewhat loud) DJ who kept us all laughing and having fun. Two parts stick out in my mind - the ring bearer (our 4-yr-old grandson) nearly falling asleep in his mashed potatoes (he was sent home with his other grandparents shortly thereafter), and a special dance our daughter requested. The DJ called all the married couples up onto the dance floor where we swayed our way around the floor while he called out years - those married five years or less, move off. Ten years... and so on. At 20 years, there were four couples left on the floor. 25 - two - my youngest brother and his wife, and my husband and myself. At 30, we were left alone. Come August, my husband and I will celebrate 35 years together. My daughter presented me with a small bouquet of roses and everyone cheered. No, she hadn't set it up. It just came out that way as hubby and I were the longest married couple there. Note, I did *not* say "oldest" - just longest married. :)
By 9:30, I was dead on my feet so we loaded the gifts into the car, said our goodbyes to the younger crowd and headed home. From what I understand, the party broke up shortly thereafter anyway.
Sunday was spent up in the mountains at a family reunion - way too much food, but a lot of fun - and even an impromptu booksigning as my relatives had actually brought their copies of my books for me to sign. :)
And now it's time to clean up, pack up, get relatives back to their respective states and return to normal.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
As I work on my daughter's wedding, I think back to my own. My husband and I will celebrate thirty-five years together this year. Looking back to 1973 - an interesting year:
The Watergate Scandal broke open
The World Trade Center opened in New York
Roe v. Wade was heard by the Supreme Court
Federal Express (FedEx) began operations
Skylab was launched
Secretariat won the Triple Crown - the first horse since 1948
There was a lot more - you can Google it or check out Wikipedia. I remember the following year we spent hours in long lines at the gas stations as we went through a gas crisis. Gee, some things never change, do they?
I remember the week before my wedding... we spent the week canning peaches and putting up other stores (this was something my family did every summer - having a wedding did not stop the crops from growing nor did the need to preserve them go away). I remember arguing with the pianist at the church about the music. She wanted some horrible (to me) song called "O Promise Me". I wanted Chicago's "Color My World". The soloist stepped in - he sang "Sunrise, Sunset" just before I came down the aisle with my father (who was crying). It was perfect. The morning of the wedding, my mom, two cousins and I went over to the church to do the decorating and set up for the reception. Then we went home and finished making the food - no caterers, fancy restaurants or DJ's for us. The ceremony went off without a hitch and the reception was fun. The gathering was small, but filled with lots of love and friendship.
I guess we did something right since we've been together so long.
Here's to the next 35. :)
Monday, June 16, 2008
The longest distance anyone is coming for this shindig is a friend of my daughter's who is coming from Africa (I don't know which country). She is a member of the Peace Corps, which is where my daughter met her. Yes, the Peace Corps still exists. Daughter was stationed in Romania for 2 1/2 years with them and then worked as a recruiter for four years when she returned to this country.
So things are starting to come together. Now we just need good weather and we're good to go.
On the writing front, I'm not even trying to write this week. What writing time I have is devoted to editing, submitting, and reading. Mostly reading.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I am not enjoying this.
But I did enjoy a book I recently took time to read. It was recommended by a very good friend and I trust her judgment when it comes to books. And since she loaned me her copy...
The book is "A Little Ray of Sunshine" by Lani Diane Rich. When I first started reading it, I thought my friend had been mistaken. I thought it actually rather boring and since I don't have time to waste on boring books, was going to put it away. But Natalie is a very good friend. So I kept reading. Thank goodness I did since by the time I was half-way through, I couldn't put it down. This is an excellent book. I'd probably give it 4 stars (4 instead of 5 only because I thought the beginning was slow).
It's all about a woman, Emmy James - EJ - who is on the outs with her family. She travels around the country in a silver Airstream, getting odd jobs and staying off the radar. She wants to be invisible - and she pretty much is. Until one night when an angel shows up at her work. Jess wants to help EJ with her cosmic problems. EJ thinks she's just fine the way she is. But she's not and a second visitor the next day proves it. An old childhood friend knocks at her door - EJ's mother (from whom all the problems extend) and his father (EJ's "foster" father during her whole life) are getting married and want EJ to be there. She agrees, but that is the last place she wants to go so she decides to leave. The next morning, after a late night with a bottle, she wakes to find Jess (the angel) has kidnapped her and is taking her across country to the wedding.
What follows is an interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant look at relationships. What makes this really good is a unique twist at the end that was hinted at throughout the story, but never dealt with until the end. The writing is witty, wry, humorous, sad, all the emotions that go with a good story.
So, Natalie, thank you for the recommendation. And an excellent story. I knew I should trust you, and I did. :)
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
With the help of my d-i-l, I spent part of yesterday putting together favor boxes and filling them with chocolates from the local confectionery. Wilbur Chocolates makes these great little candies they call "Wilbur buds" - milk chocolate or dark chocolate in little bud sized pieces. My living room filled with the aroma of chocolate.
Now for most people, that would be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, I am sensitive to chocolate. Yeah, I know. I get that sentiment from a lot of people - mostly women. But there it is. By the time we finished with the little boxes - thank goodness there were only 70 of them! - I had a headache from that aroma and was feeling a little nauseous. But we got them done and stored in a cool spot.
The time is getting short.
And there's still so much to do!
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury
Monday, June 09, 2008
Twelve days to finish the cleaning, get the programs printed, make the favors...
Twelve days to look forward to seeing relatives I haven't seen in years. In actuality, this will be the first time ever that all my siblings and their various offspring will be together in one place. We are so spread out over the country, that get togethers like this just do not happen. I am very much looking forward to that.
I am also looking forward to watching my daughter get married.
I am not looking forward to all the hoopla that goes along with it, but that's part of the show. So I will deal. And know that in thirteen days, it will all be just a memory.
But a good one, I know. :)
In the meantime, we're sitting here sweltering in the unusual heat. Normal temps for this time of year are in the upper 70's. Today, it is 96 with a heat indices of 105. Not fun. Hopefully it will cool off at least a little by the time comes for the wedding - or those folks from Minnesota and upper New York are going to be miserable.
Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own." - Carol Burnett
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Me. Exercising. And actually enjoying myself. I can honestly say I never thought when I bought this machine I'd use it as much as I am, but it is fun. I think for me it might be the competition aspect - challenging myself every day to be better than I was the day before. It doesn't always work - but I'm still there trying.
And the same with my writing. I have to have deadlines and challenges or I don't get stuff done. Each month, my local group has a goals challenge. We each set individual writing goals for the coming month and if we meet our goal, our name goes into a pot for a prize drawing. Nothing big, but fun enough that we all strive for it.
Normally, I challenge myself to write a minimum of fifty pages. That's only two pages a day - a snap most of the time. But there are times... like yesterday. I felt like the horse Big Brown - there just wasn't anything there. Hopefully there will be today.
My goal this month was a tad less - only thirty pages - mostly because I'm taking an intensive class for the next ten days and also because of my daughter's upcoming wedding in two weeks. And because of other issues going on in the background. I could have taken the easy road and just limited my goal to the class. But that doesn't seem right to me. It will be a challenge to do the class over the next two weeks, but then I still have two weeks left so I added more. Thus the extra thirty pages.
So we'll see what happens over the next few weeks.
What is your writing goal for the next month? Do you have one? Why or why not? Challenge yourself and set one - then meet it. I'll cheer you on.
"Be great in act, as you have been in thought." - William Shakespeare
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I wasn't there because I was ill, but to ask them about a bill I got. Getting a bill from a medical establishment is nothing new, but this one took me by surprise. Not because it was high - far from it - but because it was a bill for eighteen cents.
Yes, you read that right. Eighteen cents. What was it for? A shot I got several months ago. The shot cost $4.00. Insurance paid $3.82. So they billed me for the remainder.
Yes, I understand the logic behind the bill. Costs have to be covered. But come on. You figure with the cost of the paper, the ink to print up the bill, the postage to mail it, etc., it probably cost them at least triple that to mail the darned thing to me. (see calculation below).
So I paid it. In cold hard cash. Eighteen pennies worth of cold hard cash to be exact. I guess I could have paid it with a credit card... but I didn't want the hassle of that. Oh, and I asked for a receipt. Hey, if they're going to be that anal about it... So I figure it cost them... let's see...
.10 paper to print bill plus ink (and it's in color so that's even more expensive)
.05 for two envelopes (the one they mailed it to me in and the return envelope)
.42 postage to mail it
3.00 (time for the billing clerk to process it - figuring $12.00/hr for fifteen minutes of her time)
.05 paper and ink to print out the receipt
3.62 total their cost
.18 paid in full
And people wonder why medical expenses are so high.
Teasers: What's the most absurd amount you've had to pay for something - beyond the current cost of gas?
Thought for the day: "Thurber did not write the way a surgeon operates, he wrote the way a child skips rope, the way a mouse waltzes." - E.B. White
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
For instance, a simple smile can change a person's entire outlook on the day - whether you are the one doing it or the one seeing it. Go ahead, try it. Just smile. Did your face crack? Unused muscles tire? Try doing it more often. It can work wonders.
Then go get yourself a coloring book and come crayons and color. Or clay and make some fun things. Or blocks and build something and then knock it over.
Play is important to children, but I believe it is important to adults too. We get so wrapped up in our responsibilities that we never take "down" time. Even when we're not working, we're doing something because we should, or have to, and not because we want to. Going on vacation? We have to make sure of reservations, security on the house we're leaving, pets taken care of, mail, papers, money... vacations for many people are really not fun.
So why not take a little one every day? Find five minutes to close your eyes and just relax. Think about absolutely nothing. Or think about a beautiful spot you'd love to be at and imagine you're there.
Or color in a coloring book.
Go have fun for five minutes. You'll be glad you did.
Teasers: To jumpstart your imagination, change something you do. For instance, eat the same flavor of ice cream in three different ways in three different places: straight from the carton, sitting in a bubble bath; out of a goblet in the middle of your backyard; from a cone in the dark. Write down the sensory experiences.
Thought for the day: “I am fascinated by language in daily life…the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth.” – Amy Tan
Monday, June 02, 2008
A little over a year and a half ago, I paid what to me is an incredible amount of money to have my site professionally designed. The people who did it did an amazing job. It looked incredible. But I could not update it myself. Oh, I could go in and change a few things here and there, but because of the way they put it together, unless I knew a whole lot about PHP (or whatever it is) and HTML and coding and stuff like that, I'd never be able to do it myself - and that's a biggie with me. I don't have the money to spend on having someone else do the coding when I want to change a comma or add someone's name. So my daughter-in-law is in the process of building me a new one. Unfortunately, her time is extremely limited so my wait time has expanded exponentially. In the meantime, I have a generic page that I cobbled together from templates. It's not great, but it will do for the time being.
But the funny thing is, I rarely look at it. I spend time looking at everyone else's web pages but never seem to look at my own. Does anyone really look at their own once they have it up and running?
And yet, we're told by all the powers-that-be that having a website is essential to marketing our books these days. Well, at least I've got the basics up - and places to read about my books and where to buy them. So I've got that covered.
But my question to you is... what makes a good website for you? Is it color? Pictures? Layout? Contests? What keeps you coming back to someone's page?
Quote for the day: "Every moment of life demands a choice…The important choices of your life are often the minor ones." – Milton Katselas (from "Dreams into Actions)
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Except today. It all started this morning when I powered on my desktop...and it wouldn't boot. I didn't even get the blue screen of death. It just sat there, black screen, but running. So I reset and rebooted. And it came on - but very slowly. We just added new memory a month ago and ever since then it's been going slower to boot. And with the new updates from MS last week, it's been even worse. But I got it going and did my daily backups and all was good to go.
Then this afternoon, I booted up my laptop so I could work on my new manuscript. Got several pages into it when I decided to move to the wireless keyboard and mouse. I've done this dozens of times before with no problem. Plugged the controller in - and sudden blue screen of death giving me a stop error message and telling me I'm trying to execute non-executable memory. Power off, unplug controller, reboot. All is well. Access my manuscript and send it to myself so I have a backup copy. Also download to thumbdrive. I am a firm believer in multiple backups.
Tried the wireless again. Blue screen. Tried downloading a new driver. Blue screen. Tried booting with it already plugged in. Blue screen.
Went to Microsoft and searched their trouble spots for the error messages (yes, I wrote them down). Nothing. It's mostly Vista crap. I do not have Vista. I still have my trusty XP PRo. But no help anywhere. So I powered down and decided to use the Alpha Smart Dana.
Except the batteries are dead.
So, plug it in to recharge the batteries and now, hours later than I planned on getting to work, I am.
But the frustration is still there.
I love technology.
Except when it doesn't work.
Teasers: Pick two characters from a favorite book and describe their courtship/wedding/marriage – but put a twist on it. For instance, make Rhett and Scarlet Yankees.
Thought for the day: "It’s hard enough to write a good drama, it’s much harder to write a good comedy, and it’s hardest of all to write a drama with comedy. Which is what life is." - Jack Lemmon