Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dog LOST Dog Found

When we went to bed Friday night, Emma was missing. We have two dogs, Emma, a standard poodle, and a yellow labrador retriever... Buckshot. Poodle - female: lab - male = she should be birthing highly lucrative Labradoodles, right? INCORRECT. Emma the poodle and Buckshot the Lab, have NEVER done the deed. Believe me, we have done everything to enhance the experience. The one who cannot figure it out is Buckshot, the lab. Emma is a freakin' genius.

Early on, Emma figured out how to open a door handle that was a lever. THEN she figured out - painstakingly - how to open a door knob. I have watched her do it. I could literally leave her here to open the door for a repairman, but she can't write a check. She can use her nose to flip up a gate latch, she can smush herself flat and get under any fence. Electric fence? not so terribly shocking to her. She can hurdle over a three foot barrier and wiggle through a six inch gap. In short, she does whatever she feels like.
She's nothing if not stylish. She hates collars, but is willing to wear a hot pink bandana and sunglasses. And when BigD rubs her on her little skinny tummy, she pees. Friday night, she was nowhere to be found.

Now...this is the part where I am supposed to talk about how our precious dog is like one of our children, and I don't know how I am going to break the news to the children, and how it's all going to be about life lessons, and ....

OK, not so much. Emma IS most definitely a part of our family, but the story didn't go down as scripted a la Lifetime. The home-dwelling big children spent hours IN THE CAR driving around looking for the dog - in the gutter - hoping to make sure she wasn't - you know - lying in the street. They were way more worried about telling ME that she was lying in the gutter than they were about finding her there.

Our Young Son put Buckshot on a leash and took him for a walk to see if he could beckon Emma from someone's backyard.
YS: OK, Buck, let's find Emma.
Buck: Great idea, another walk tonight!
YS: Find Emma, Buck. Where's Emma?
Buck: OH, look, garbage bags full of leaves. I like to lift my leg and innocculate every single bag of leaves I see. This could be a loooooonng walk, bud.
YS: Buck, come on, we're looking for Emma. Call her. Tell her to come home.
Buck: I am busy peeing on every single object in sight.

At 1 AM I got a direct report from Pretty Pretty Princess and BigB that there was no sight of Emma, living or dead, healthy or injured. They'd been driving around in the car for at least and half an hour. Probably drinking beer. ROOT BEER, I meant to say.

Buckshot is Emma's COMPANION, her LIFE PARTNER. She is his DOMINATRIX. Buck went calmly to bed in his kitchen crate - until we all went to bed. Then we heard this lonesome 'woof'...pause 30 seconds .... 'woof' -Translation from dog language "Hey, in here, in the dark kitchen! Emma is not in here, and if she doesn't have to go to bed now, then I don't have to, so come open the damn door." Point taken.

This morning, this is where the children take markers and poster board and put signs up all over the neighborhood, right? Not so much. PPP sleeping. BigB also sleeping. Early on, our Young Son had taken another drive, no Emma. We called the Emergency Vet - no black poodle. Casually, I said - "What about Craig's list?" Within about 45 seconds our Young Son says...."Yep, here it is..."

Craig's list: Found - very mellow black dog. Respond to identify. Cannot keep"

No kidding, if only you knew the depths of meaning in the phrase 'cannot keep'. When she wants out, she gets out. Also - right here - very mellow - not words I have ever used to identify Emma, but BLACK works.

So, I emailed back "We have lost our black poodle, messy cut, female, tall but not heavy."

Their response - "Not sure this is your dog - attached are pictures."
Indeed, it was our dog. Looking pretty raggedy after her night on the town. Our Young Son took over, got the address and went over to pick her up. They brought her out on a leash - and our Young Son describes it "She kind of pranced up to me...bye y'all, thanks for having me over to spend the night, see you another time. She spent the night with Huskies."

She came dashing into the house, excited to see what had happened while she was gone! NOW we are supposed to be all about the sweet reunion scene in which the children are fulfilled and delighted and we are all remorseful about how we ever let her get out in the first place and without a collar. Sorry - most still sleeping.

We didn't LET her get out - she does whatever she feels like. If she wants out, she finds a way out. She HATES collars and will soon wriggle out of the one that PPP and our Young Son bought for her today, in their wave of responsible pet ownership. Along with the little blue tag.

Someday a valiant soul will call us and tell us sadly that they found a collar with tag, but no dog. The DOG will be on the couch, snoozing, having shed her collar during another wild outing. Bless our sweet neighbors who tolerate her waywardness and just bring her home when she tries to join them on a walk.

Back to the homecoming. Emma had spent the night in a home with other dogs. Thus, she did not smell right to her LIFE PARTNER Buckshot. He tried to restore her proper smell. She didn't like it. Joyful reunion? Snarling and growling actually.

Young Son: I hope he doesn't pee on her to make her smell right.

We think Buckshot did not pee on Emma (though that IS his technique for proper odor restoration when she goes to her hair stylist), however she DID turn on her Dominatrix mode with her own unique "I love you and you are mine" misconception of dog-mating that she uses to subdue the lab who weighs twice as much as she does. She has a woefully misplaced concept of dog-mating. Thus, no labra-doodle$.

Emma is absolutely the dog of our Young Son's childhood. I got her - from what I now realize was a PUPPY MILL - naivete at its best - in the spring of a particularly difficult second grade year for our YS. Not difficult because he struggled with the work, but difficult because he finished the whole week's worth of work by lunch on Monday. So he was bored. Harry Potter I and II in alternating weeks while the rest of his class was 'doing work.'

I brought Emma home on impulse - how one ends up impulsively in a trailer at a puppy-mill farm in Mississippi is probably another story. I picked her up and she sat on my hip like a 2 year old. I was hooked, since my baby was no longer a two-year old. Emma and YS love each other. She has a tendency to NIP when challenged - and her favorite food is a whole loaf of bread. Thus, the day The Sophisticate tried to retrieve a whole loaf of bread from the floor, Emma NIPPED - OK, she might have sort of bitten, and it left a bruise. SMALL bruise. In short, she's hard headed. Emma is.

But she's our hard headed nutsy dog. I'm not ready for the dog of our Young Son's childhood to be just a bunch of stories. I want her in the crate at night with our dumb-as-a-brick Lab.
Because SHE'S the only one who can manage him.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bird of paradise

The question is...when you are the mother of the groom, do you REALLY have to be quiet, wear beige and do as you're told? Answer....Let's ask my buddy Molly, who has done it with fire and style.

Molly is like a Bird of Paradise - that remarkable unfolding flower. The more she opens up, the more color and passion you see. And she doesn't hesitate to share that fire.

Molly is ALL about the PEOPLE. That right there makes a good hostess. Also a good mother, sister, wife...and for me, friend.

A few years ago I met Molly and her daughter -remarkably named Molly - when young Molly got married. I helped them plan her late spring wedding. It was a fine affair, and fun was had by all. Molly remembers that there was an air conditioning problem that day - and a vivid memory we share is that my husband worked so hard that his dress shirt was soaked with sweat. Also, our Young Son was about 10, and worked as hard as his Dad. I pray that's not the most vivid memory of that wedding day....just the most vivid memory she shares with me. Not only was it a beautiful day, and a lovely gathering, but the planning was fun. I really love both Mollies.

Molly has one daughter and two sons.( And someone else in that picture. I can still count.) And what was the likelihood of TWO of her children, neither natives of my hometown, marrying here? Slim.
Young Molly did what brides do... babies, then she moved out of town, so.... our paths not to cross again, perhaps? Probable by statistics.

Not so, my friend. Her son found himself a local bride, and Molly called in the early stages of planning HER party. Some call it a Rehearsal Dinner - but in Molly's case, we will call it wedding-eve love-bash. Plus. Plus + plus.

Molly knows exactly what she wants when she sees it. So, we investigated a lot of places...but she didn't see 'it'. Then we found it, but it didn't look right. She wanted fall colors, lamb chops, no visible beer bottles, and no gourds or pumpkins. She repeatedly told me "You know what I want." Yes, indeed I did.
When I asked her if she wanted some music, she said "There'll be so many people talking . . . We don't need music. We have each other."

How then can one plan a party when someone is in one town and the party is in another? Good question. E-mail. Telephone. Text. Starbucks. Trust.

Sample monthly exchange, June through October:
Molly: I haven't heard from you. Are we OK?
Me: We're good! How do you feel?
Molly: I'm fine if you're fine.
Me: We're in great shape.
Molly:No gourds, no pumpkins.
Me: Right, no gourds, no pumpkins.
So we had a party. I did my part which was the rich fall colors, no pumpkins, no gourds, lambchops and no visible beer bottles. She did her part which was PEOPLE. Everytime I looked up, I saw her at a table leaned over and talking to someone. I looked up later, and saw her at another table, then another, and another. The music of conversation and laughter carried the evening.

These things make her a genuine southern hostess (I guess it could be a non-southern hostess, but with a south-Mississippi home, and a deep allegiance to Ole Miss, let the 'southern' stand):

She greeted each guest at each table and had a conversation. Not a passing hello, a conversation.

She did NOT make strangers sit together. Tables were friends and family.

Molly made sure that her guests had fun, but had fun left for the next day - the wedding.

She went back to the kitchen to meet the caterers and servers and thanked each of them.

It was a family party, and everyone had a responsibility, everyone. It was NOT "The Molly Show." That takes some planning, and most of all, confidence in those people you know the best. Grace in action. Molly in action.

She thanked the bartender for the 'no-visible-beer-bottle' thing.
She did not make her young granddaughter come to the wedding eve party, or for that matter walk down the aisle the next day.

More important that baby-girl's memories of the night were the hazy, fond memories of a little girl at a really crazy party, than that she was shown-off in her total adorableness, which speaks for itself.

Molly made sure our Young Son ate. She let her son take home some left-overs.

She told every single guest good-bye as they left. Hugged most. Even if she didn't know them.

She served fried oysters, because you know...they're south Mississippi oyster-types. Case closed.
If you want to have a party - take some pointers from Molly. It's all about the people. A wedding eve love-bash it was. With fried oysters and a bird of paradise.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home-style Wedding Love

The love story that continues to inspire is the love story of families. Family love stories yield tales told and retold, at the next family wedding, around the Thanksgiving table, as the Christmas decorations are hung, and even sometimes, out of the blue, when you just walk into the kitchen and remember THAT NIGHT.

As I went through the invitations for the luscious winter wedding that's just around the corner, I was wondering who in the WORLD are . . . Well, what do you know, it's my lovely JUNE bride, only now...Mr. and Mrs.
This time last year we were deep in the process of ordering her wedding dress - which turned out to be a marathon road trip for MOB and me. It was awesome - 15 hours in the car talking, and shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue. What's not to like? Does anybody want to take a trip to buy a wedding dress? With me as your guide? Because I am FIERCE at that. Not kidding.

My June bride honored her parents by wanting nothing more than a wedding reception at her home. The first question her father asked me when we commenced planning 10 months out was "Are you seriously thinking we can put 300 people in my backyard?" Actually, 350ish, but who's counting?
So this gracious family opened their HOME to their guests - every single guest. THAT's a love story worth talking about.

This Mom is a meticulous homemaker and planner. She is a gracious hostess who loves to have her friends in her home. She is organized and thorough in ways I could only dream about. She thinks about things from so many angles that it could make me dizzy. COULD make me dizzy. Did not ACTUALLY make me dizzy. But she let me help her. What an honor! No pressure, either.

DAD is also incredibly meticulous and cautious and generous. He made sure we had plans A, B and C - and then a backup plan for each. (Note that he is WEARING a shirt, yet has another shirt in his hand... always a backup) He made me stretch my thinking in novel and often alarming ways. He also made fresh pesto from home-grown basil in the fall, froze and pulled it out to serve at the wedding. Seriously - a menu item was Dad's pesto on bruschetta.

I've done a lot of weddings, so FIRSTS are hard to come by - but that was a first. I dream about that pesto. I crave that pesto. I want that pesto....

SO....August, September...December -
buy the dress.....plan, plan, ...just so you know, by this point in the planning, I already knew where the Diet Cokes are kept, AND even more critical, this gracious family ALWAYS has limes cut for me, since - you know - what's a Diet Coke without a real lime? a party for another wedding. NO. BIG. DEAL.

April and May - - the invitation-frenzy in which the list is revisited as if it were a new and different document... JUNE wedding.

Plan, plan, replan, unplan, de-plan, overplan. Mother was concerned that I had the plans and the contacts and I might possibly get hit by a bus, and the wedding would somehow not come together. I actually have my own plans B and C, just for the bus-type contingency , but also, luckily did NOT get killed by a bus.

AND the week is here, when one must essentially turn a home into a country club/dormitory/gift shop/commercial kitchen/parking lot. Also, continue to live there. Not much to ask.
Since we were into CONTINGENCY plans, we had a tent wedged into the backyard. Not actually wedged, just fit into every available square inch. In case it rained that day.

Rehearsal night brings a drastic thunderstorm, along with a loss of power. All over town. Thunderstorm with high winds. NOT. A. PROB. LEM. We have a contingency plan, called a TENT. Often after a thunderstorm we will get a little cool down. Outside wedding reception + cool down = a good thing in my mind.

THIS night, the thunderstorm was not just a little summer affair, it was huge, long, loud, windy and damaging. Strong enough to possibly blow a tent into a pool, and then pile the tables and chairs all over it. The power out all over the city. When the power is out in the summer, it's not JUST the lights, it's the air conditioning. Also the fans.

Oh, yeah. Tent in the pool. Trees in the street. We would need a plan for that. Our Young Son had one.

BUT the tent was NOT in the pool! Morning dawned bright and clear and clean and this mom and dad had been up since REALLY early out in the yard picking up the trash from the storm, and neighbors stopped by to help! Neighbor love.

It got a little muddy - does anyone but me remember the mud? And the plywood we used to cover the walkway. Also, that Dad obsessively watched out the kitchen window to insure that no tire ruts were etched into the mud along the street in the front yard? Anybody? I remember that part, because we had to move a lot of cars. Problem solved by a line of luminaria and valet parking.

I love the moments where so much lies ahead. It's a midsummer evening ripe with possibilities, antcipation of family and friends, heavy with memories for the taking.

Everybody ready? Sun shining, photos taken....and, at last ....time to go to the church

Is it just me, but is that sort of like the very first time you put your baby in the carseat? When it takes a LOT of hands, and a lot of thought, and it's such a CAREFUL process.
And suddenly, it's a party! Candles, music, laughing, hugging, dancing, chatter.

I imagine there were a few people who were taking pointers for their OWN upcoming wedding. There is almost ALWAYS someone who falls in love at a wedding. Someone who meets someone REALLY cute, who sees someone and a conversation starts....

I love the part where the parents - the hosts - do their hosting thing. This family greeted and hugged and danced and talked and hugged more.

Father of the bride? took the microphone from the band and said a blessing for the marriage and the food. In the tent in his backyard.

Mother of the bride? Danced with her brother like nobody's business. They were gracious and cordial and gave their guests the run of the house, the yard, the driveway,the shower, the patio, anywhere and everywhere. They LITERALLY opened their home to their guests - that's a LOT of LOVE.
High school friends - yep, gathered together in the living room for a picture, just like this group of girls has done on so many occasions. If nothing else, when you graduate from THIS girls school, you know how to line up as a group and get a photo. They know who is tall and stands in the back and how to huddle in so everyone is in the picture. This pose looks a lot like their Kindergarten class photo. Not so much. Nobody was wearing a silk dress and heels in Kindergarten.

Then, it's over as fast as a thunderstorm and with as much energy expended. It took 9 months to plan, we were about 3 deep on back-up plans and contingency plans on EVERY. SINGLE. FACET. It took about 16 hours to set up, and it takes about 30 minutes to break down on the night of the party - with another 3 hours to follow the next day or two. Does anybody know that math on that equation?

I do - the answer is INFINITY. Always. Forever. As well-worn as phrase is, this wedding journey was about 'making memories' in the grandest way.
No matter what happens at that kitchen island, it will ALWAYS be the place where the beautiful antipasto bar was.

No matter how much WORK is done on the desk in the study, the definitive picture of the study is a wedding day picture, and the definitive use of the desk is the day it was turned into a bar.

There was the whole episode of the groomsmen who left his phone on the bus....he thought...the bus company was called, located the phone on the floor of the bus, and we had a cab bring it to the reception. Our Young Son was the point person on that, waiting in the side yard with the valet parking guys to pay the cabdriver, retrieve the phone and find the guy it belonged to. And yes, that worked out perfectly, as if it had been choreographed since March. (Don't tell, but actually I have had to do just that thing before-only we were looking for a person, so it was choreographed 4 years ago, but the illusion of spontaneous, on-the-fly improvisation works well for me.
Those very cool greenish-bluish bottles are vintage bottles, from Mom's own collection. Mom's bottles - they are on the kitchen table now, but remember that we used them at the wedding? Where did we get THAT MANY bottles? That, my friends, is HOME-STYLE wedding.
As many times as you look at a single picture, it calls up a story. June bride's cousin was married a few weeks later, thus memories to cherish and build on. Forever, cousins married that hot summer, just weeks apart.

Hey, Brother, who by the way is a champ at tying the elusive perfect bow tie ...."do you remember the night after the wedding when the back of your truck was filled with wedding trash bags, and the boys drove around til they found a dumpster behind some grocery store? Two trips! And you didn't even have to haul the trash away.....who did? Oh, yeah, those two guys."

Remember the BAND!!!! It was awesome, because the people from the band were long time church friends, so they not only entertained, but sat at the kitchen table, had their own dinner and wedding visits. Church family love.

Stories around the Thanksgiving table? Tablecloths?"Remember that we had plans for a sheer white overlay over the burlap cloths at the wedding, to make it more wedding-ish? Remember that we pulled every single white overlay, because the plain burlap was just so...RIGHT? Did we PLAN that?"

Christmas lights? "Remember all the twinkly lights that night? It looked like the Magic Kingdom. It WAS the Magic Kingdom" Love stories every one.

Family dinner in the dining room? Remember the wedding cake? The orchids in the chandelier? And feeding each other the cake? Carrot cake, cream cheese icing.

SO....back to the contingency plans. We DID have a plan B and a plan C. It was a hot summer night after a big storm. All over the city the power was out. At each of the other locations we considered for this wedding - country clubs and public venues were our PLAN B - the power was out. The weddings that took place at those locations - our plans B and C - took place in the dark. Also the HEAT. Club food was prepared in the dark, without the benefit of refrigeration or stoves. If we had gone with Plan B, the country club plan, we would have been in a mess. As with most things, there's no place like home.

Home is where the love is.

P.S. The pictures. Yes, the really, really clear and awesome pictures - courtesy of Mr. Zanone. The others - Facebook snags, my little P+S, etc.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving = graduation flashback

The thing about graduation is that the graduates think it's all about them, and their class, and the robes and the speeches and the practices and parties and partying.

When in fact, it's all about this. One proud Mama and one proud Daddy, thinking about what's ahead, but even more about what's behind.

But looking ahead.Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 10, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

When I was in the 8th grade, I chose the language I would study in High School. There was only a single criterion considered: speaking in public. Because I did not want to speak my native language in front of a room full of people, much less a foreign language in a room full of people, I chose Latin. Seriously? Who knows how Latin sounded back in the day? And we're not going to the Vatican. Case closed. I studied Latin. I tutor Latin. I have taught Latin. Our Young Son is a Latin scholar. Scholar sounds better than student.

Fast forward to college, where I found that to do what I wanted to do in my sorority, I would have to talk in front of women to be an officer, I stepped up, opened my mouth and spoke. A LOT. TOO MUCH. Then I became a teacher. Speaking to children, even teenagers, wasn't a big deal. Then I became an actual public speaker, by virtue of the fact that I had no choice if I wanted to stand in front of an unruly wedding party at a rehearsal, or speak at a large national convention of childbirth educators. Let's just say I have become comfortable with speaking to a group of people, even a large group of people. Even unprepared.

Our Young Son was asked to speak for his Mission Team at the Mission Supporters' Dinner, an annual affair, at church. He has poise, he is calm, he can run a whole wedding reception single-handedly, so I wasn't so ruffled by that. Then I totally forgot. I guess you could call it denial. I should have realized why he got his hair cut a whole WEEK before school starts. The night before we talked about a couple of things, and I tossed off some casual advice that I had actually heard from a TV show (Madmen, in case you wonder how I waste hot summer afternoons): Pick one person and make eye contact. Don't say anything that doesn't support the point you are making. Tell your story, don't make a speech.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the huge fellowship Hall full of several hundred people, I got a knot in my stomach. A GIANT-SIZE knot. What's up with that? Our Young Son was speaking, not me. To hundreds of people, from a podium, with a microphone.
I discovered a truism of my life as a mother: I would rather speak to 100,000 people, unprepared, than be in the room when one of my children is speaking.

I had a hint of it when Pretty Pretty Princess gave her Senior Speech, but her school is such a tight, close-knit community, that while I was on edge, I wasn't flat-out uncomfortable. The ginormous Fellowship Hall at church, with hundreds of parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, MINISTERS....that spooked me. For him. I didn't want to sit at a table - we were late, so that was hypothetical, there were no table seats to be had. I couldn't eat dinner - but I don't like white meat of the chicken, so that was covered.

I was undeniably nervous for him. Sweating-type nervous. Note that he, himself, our Young Son was self-proclaimed: NOT nervous. He didn't speak first, so as soon as the people started telling their stories, I started feeling ....scared? Nervous? Something unable to be named?
I texted him -

Me: "Be sure to say your name, stand up straight and hold your head up."

Young Son: "I'm going to go up there and mumble, look at my feet and chew gum."
As he approached the podium, La Petite Jockette came to attention, apron and all. She didn't appear to be too concerned. She had been in the back scraping dishes, so I guess that's some perspective.
Our Young Son has grown this summer. He's tall and lanky, and self-assured. From where I sat, he did not look tall and lanky, he looked small in a BIG ROOM. Sorry. He stood, said his name and gave a taut, well reasoned talk, with a solid balance of fact and personal stories. People laughed at his stories. Three times. If you have ever spoken to more than 5 people, you know that the laughter is what makes you able to keep talking. Silence is deadly. The room wasn't silent.
When it was over, he came to the back, and before he sat down with Jockette and relaxed a bit, he pulled from his pocket his little piece of notebook paper with bullet points, which as it appears, is a solid 5 paragraph essary:
  • Intro - Name, grade school

  • Baltimore: what we did - park, movie, zoo, DC

  • Why I went - had fun last year; wanted to be a leader, Uneasy about being on daycamp

  • Differences - no visual goal/progress; harder work for me

  • What I learned . . .

He told funny stories about how running a daycamp for 4th graders was more difficult than the manual labor of building a house with Habitat for Humanity, he talked about how he struggled because he couldn't see solid, measurable progress at the end of the day, he revealed that he napped daily. Our Young Son talked for about 7 minutes, from a folded, handwritten set of bullet points

  • What I learned...

As it turns out, what our Young Son learned, and what I learned as he spoke, are the same - and this I can quote verbatim:
"I learned that God will use me how He wants, not how I want.

"I learned that God has a plan, even when I don't see it."

"I learned that God will always choose the right path."

Man, I hope we both remember that.Still a church supper.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer of Love - Neel's Wedding

Neel and Jon got married this summer. Yep, I snagged that photo right off Facebook. It was a glorious evening, full of all the unexpected things that make weddings more than just a party. Those things are stories - and there are lots of love stories in this wedding weekend!

Neel wore her mom's dress - altered just a bit. It has such a vintage feel, with a very contemporary cut. Lovely. Feel that mommy-love, just oozing everywhere?

I'm sure Mom was lovely too. In that dress I mean. That's her finger, showing me the cool details. Me, the wedding dress afficionado.

Mom - who we will call HAPPY, just for fun, was lovely on Neel's wedding day - which I know, because I was there with her. Her mother-of-the-bride dress has a story. A sister story.

Happy wore a sublimely cute dress - gauzy and bare, with a floaty, flirty skirt. Her sister, we'll call her RUTHIE, whose daughter was recently married, had bought an adorable dress which she wore to her daughter's rehearsal dinner - little straps and a glittery bubble-esque tulle skirt. Navy. (Hold that thought)

Fast forward in time. Happy ordered a dress for Neel's wedding - which unbeknownst to either sister - was identical to Ruthie's. Good thing Neel's mom Happy didn't try to pull a Red-Carpet like surprise and just show up at the wedding in her glam new dress. Because Happy and Ruthie would have been dressed like twins, as Ruthie was planning to wear said dress to Neel's wedding. Now, many years past living in the same house as sisters, whenever they get dressed up, they have to check and make sure that they aren't going to show up at some big gala party or wedding wearing the same dress. (Actually, they would probably be fine with that - TWINKIES for the night!) Not just a similar dress, but the identical dress, down to the navy color. Lots of sisters borrow and lend dresses - nope, not this duo. They each PURCHASED one of the same party-dress. Without talking about it. That's living proof of some bizarre sisterly connection of love.

And AS IF that wasn't enough of a story, Happy got to the church and realized that she had forgotten to bring her little sheer and glittery wrap that she was going to wear to make the dress less bare for the church. To be - you know - covered, sort of. This was the conversation:

Happy: Oh, my thingie that I was going to wear. That shawl thing. That I bought just for this wedding. It's not here. Somebody call Dad right now.
Laurence, bride's sister: Is he at HOME? Or you mean call him and make him go home? ......OK, what do I say? Mom, I don't think you need it. (Laurence is meanwhile dialing....not to worry)
Happy: I don't care. I bought it. I want it and it's in the attic. He's going to kill me. Oh, he'll deal.
Laurence: Hey, Dad. Are you still home? Mom wants you to get her wrap thing. Mom - where is it?
Happy: It's in a box in the attic. ( at my house, that would have been a deal breaker)
Laurence: Dad, it's in a box in the attic. Mom - what does the box look like?
Happy: Tell him it's in a white box, on top of that thing that sits next to those boxes that hold....bleh, bleh, bleh. (Remember, Dad was in a tux)
Laurence: I know it's hot, Dad. Mom, I don't think you actually NEED that wrap. It's pretty like it is.
Happy: Tell him to keep looking, the box is about 8 x 12 inches and is white. He'll find it. (I'll be honest, at this point, my mouth was hanging open. In our attic a white box the size of a sheet of notebook paper - not in a million years.)
Laurence: I know, Dad. I know. Yes, she wants it. I think it's like a really thin shawl. Yeah, I know it's hot. Yeah, we're hot but she wants the shawl.
Happy: Tell him....tell him....tell him...Oh, I don't know. He'll find it.

20 minutes later a knock at the door. It was DAD, who will from this point forward be known as HERO-Dad, standing with the white box. He didn't cross the threshold. His opening words:

Hero-Dad: (from the door) Oh, Happy, you look awesome. But here's the box. The thing's black right? (Don't tell - but Hero-dad had eyes for HIS bride first and all night long).
Happy: Navy blue. Give it to me.

A frenzy of tissue paper and tulle ensued as the box was opened, followed by various shaping and draping the sheer-tulle-with-glitter-and-beads shawl. With lots of "What do you think. This way? With this part to the side? " The end-game? She did not wear the shawl. Or wrap. Or blue thing in the white box. Hero-Dad never said a word (that I heard, anyway). That's the kind of story that makes a wedding soar.
So - we got everyone dressed and ready to rock and the photographer came into the brides' room, which is an overwhelmingly female domain. Nonetheless our photographer came in to give instructions about going outside to take some pictures. The instructions centered on how hot it was outside, and how quick it was going to be.(The photo-shoot was not short, though it was really, really hot.) I know they are headed out the door because of two things - one, I see that the bridesmaids all have their bouquets in hand. Two, I see the veil in Neel's hair. I jammed that comb on that veil up into her stiff-wedding-day-hair. Hairspray and bobby pins are two of my BFFs, especially when it's 104 outside. I only jammed it up in there about 12 times before she ever got down the aisle.
This was Neel's flower palette. That's what Greg-the-florist-god and I call it, to make me sound all professional. If you had X-ray vision, or if I had photographed it, you would know that cascading from the flowers was some gorgeous ivy, that grew on the front of Happy's house. For this wedding, she had been 'growing out' her ivy so there would be plenty. (OK, don't tell anybody, but her house had enough vines hanging off it that one might consider second story window entry a possibility, using only ivy as a means of access.) Happy told Greg to cut as much as he needed - "there's plenty, there's a LOT and it's driving Hero-Dad crazy." And so that was the first summer trim of Happy's ivy. It was lush, heavy, home-grown ivy , and nothing makes a wedding story like home-grown.
Once they got down the aisle, the plan, per the program, was for two scriptures to be read. I had the doors open because there were people standing back there in the foyer, peering through the tripods, and because I wanted to hear the scriptures (also, to see the trailing home-grown ivy, over the door, because that kind of stuff matters to glam wedding planners)

The preacher totally blew over that minor part of the worship service - the BIBLE. Two scripture readers - professionals at that - stood as cued, waited as instructed, and gloriously at some point realized that there was going to be NO SCRIPTURE read at this wedding, so they unobtrusively slid back to their seats. One of the readers had come all the way from GERMANY. God knew. Also, each person in the packed chapel who was reading the program knew. (Side note, the planning of that ceremony, the selection of songs and scripture and structure of that program took about 139 man hours - at least 75% of that in the groom's time alone. Everytime I mentioned it - that we needed to just decide and move forward, Neel looked at me and said "What can I say, he's a lawyer! Can you tell?" Ahhhhh - young love! A necessity for survival of Marriage, Year 1)

The preacher apologized profusely for his omission. Then, he proceeded to dance like the village shaman at the reception. All. Night. Long. (Preachers usually show for a meet-and-greet for wedding receptions, because, well Sunday is a pretty taxing day for them - so props to the preacher on the night of dancing with the natives, and I'm so, so sorry I missed his sermon the next day because it was probably really short.)

SO: Pray, pray, pray, vows, vows, vows, marry, marry, marry. And we're done. Did I mention that it was HOT? Because it was. It's the same weekend we got married, lo these many years ago. Hot then, hot now. Why is HOT still an issue? We shall see, my friends, we shall see.Nothing like a glass of chilled champagne with berry in the sunset. Especially when the sunset means that it's still hot. Let's have a primer on air conditioning lore, which we can call "A Comfortable Room." At best, a typical air conditioner unit will provide a 20 degree difference in the indoor and outdoor temperature. Ask any airconditioning guy when he's trying to fix the a/c in the 110 degree heat. Don't expect 60 degrees. Expect 90 degrees inside.

Our Young Son and La Petite Jockette were at the Club acting as point-people. I got a couple of calls from him. Maybe about 6. His rule for calling me - something's wrong. I hate to see his name pop up on the screen.

YS: Mom, it's ...uh...pretty hot here.

Me: How hot?

YS: It's hot. Too hot, and I have told them but now I can't find anybody who works here.

Me: Is it so hot that the cake is going to melt?

YS: I guess we'll see if the cake melts. Just warning you. Also, the violin people aren't here.

ME: Keep the doors closed, every single door. Turn off the overhead lights. Put foil over the west windows. Stuff newspaper in all the cracks. And if you find someone, make them turn it down to 60 and open up the doors to all their kitchen boxes and put fans in front of them. Also, leave the chairs for the musicians.

YS: Yes m'am. I'm just telling you though, it's hot. And I'm leaving to change clothes. It's too hot to do it here.

Voila! 100 degrees outside, 80++ degrees inside. We were actually glad to get 90 degrees because the power was off at the Club the entire week before this wedding, so NO air conditioning was a distinct possibility. (Yes, yes, yes, I did have a very sound plan for addressing the issue if there was absolutely no power at the Club. I did. Nobody asked what that plan was, but I promise, the alternate plans were absolutely in place. Because I'm like that. No flying without a safety net in the glam wedding business)

Part two of "A Comfortable Room" - when you put 375 people in a small enclosed space when it's blazing hot inside and a dance band driving the action, it gets hot. Not just a little hot, but a lot hot. Way TOO hot. And at the end of the night, a club staffer finally filled me in that one entire 'chiller' of the 3 we needed for the space we were using - one WHOLE CHILLER- wasn't working at all. Killed in the storm of the previous weeks.

There's a complicated equation (which I never use, because I have *another way*) to figure out how hot it is inside. Temperature - a/c - 1 chiller +crowd + dance band - champagne + men in tuxes- beer x age of the Mother of the Bride = HOT, way too hot.

The most reliable indicator of the temperature at a wedding is the *father of the bride*, in our case HERO-Dad. Everytime he caught my eye we had a version of this conversation

Hero-dad: It's awfully hot in here. Is there anything we can do about it, oh Glam-wedding-planner that you are!

Me: Yeah, let me see if I can find somebody. (Note, I am sweating profusely myself - profusely is too mild a term, actually)

Hero-dad: Is it just me? This tux? I think people are going home because it's so hot.

Me: OK, let me see what I can do. Why don't you dance with Happy? What can I get you to drink? Eat some of that Ben & Jerry's ice cream from the cart over there.

INSERT THE ICE CREAM STORY: I will, thank you. The groom LOVES Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, so the bride decided that it would be a delightful surprise to have a B&J ice cream cart at the reception. It took roughly 17 conversations - conversations at her house, text conversations, conversations in the carpool line (taught at same school last year), conversations via email, whispered conversations... to decide what flavors to choose. Also how and where to set it up. We had all that contracted and diagrammed out - but still, our Young Son realized early that they were setting up a bar in that spot. We didn't want a bar! Ice cream there! We physically rearranged the tables on the spot. The ice cream cart had a steady and long line for most of the evening. Men in tuxes, women in silk, with champagne in one hand and ice cream in the other! Stunning! Summertime and the living is easy.

NOW - back to the "Is it just me, or is it sweltering in here" story:

So - then I walked around, sweating, for 20 or 30 minutes until I found a Club manager

ME: It's like a thousand degrees in here. We talked about this! We agreed that you'd cool it down...we agreed that we'd keep the doors closed all day long...bleh, bleh, bleh on the ass-kicking.

Club Guy: I know, but when it's this hot outside.....when there are this many people.....bleh, bleh, bleh - excuse making.

Then - 30 minutes later, repeat the cycle. Eventually, I told Hero-Dad to take off his jacket. Being the HERO that he is, he kept the jacket on. As did his son, a groomsmen. Genetic heroism in tuxedos.

Did the heat seem to bother the bride? Not at all? She rose to the occasion. One facet of this occasion being the weekend of Michael Jackson's death. Thus, every cover band in the nation did a whole Michael Jackson set (just guessing on the whole 'every band in the nation' thing.) We had our own little MJ Memorial. Neel presided.

LOTS of men were NOT heroic and did take off the jackets.

Way over in the right corner there, in the green dress ....
. . . is Laurence, the sister of the bride,( last mentioned on the phone with her dad about the not-to-be-worn-but-awesome-shawl.) Next to her is Spencer, her husband. Laurence was my bride a few years ago. Her wedding anniversary and Neel's will forever be just one day apart. Laurence's husband, related to this tux-wearing family by marriage, straddled the dress code. The jacket is off - but the tie is ON (Remember that HERO-Dad and semi-heroic brother stayed in the full get-up) Jon has a bit to learn.

A wedding is a family love story. We plan and plot, we get quotes and contracts, and we draw layouts. Honestly, not sure how this was done without cell phones - oh, yeah! I did it without cell phones.

For this family, the last weekend in June will ALWAYS be a weekend full of love stories. No talk about those contracts and layouts, no worries about flowers and bands. They will remember that Neel wore Mom's dress, how Happy and Ruthie ALMOST wore the same dress, that Uncle Mark wore one flip-flop, how Dad became a HERO by finding a box in the attic, the preacher forgot the scripture, and grandmother sat on the front row, with a little help from the two Marks in the family, that MJ died the week before, so songs like Billy Jean and Man in the Mirror formed the soundtrack of the wedding week. They will remember the hot summer before Laurence and Spencer headed to Chicago for graduate school and brother Mark to medical school, after giving a live demo of his doc-worthy gentleness with his grandmother. They'll remember the ice cream and the champagne, and they'll laugh as they tell the stories again and again. What a job I have - seriously! I'm so, so grateful I get to be a part of those love stories!
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