Friday, December 29, 2006

restructuring

With a little bit of leisure time this week, I’m assessing what I might do with the structure of my regular routine so that I am less stressed and more productive with the time and space available to me. Some necessary and cathartic cleaning and purging is in order, as well as organizing drawers, shelves, and storage areas to be more efficient and useful. I need to get some filing done (ugh—one of my least favorite things to do), and archive some of the files that are taking up precious space. I need to create again, and it would help immeasurably if the space where I work was cleared of clutter, both physical and mental!

This applies to other areas of the house as well. The kitchen counters are littered with things that have never found a permanent home. Things we don’t use often can be relocated to a storage area, and the counters opened up for their real purpose—food preparation! Ken got several cookbooks for Christmas, and though he has less time to cook than he used to, and I am doing more of it than I did, there’s plenty of inspiration available to put that counter space to delicious use!

So, where to start?!! It always seems that to bring order to an area a little disorder is necessary in the process. Maybe an hour a day, every day, making a dent here and a dent there will lead to the solution. All I know is that I have to try.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

in my own backyard!

I've nicknamed them Winken, Blinken and Nod, for no other reason than that they are three names that go together, and the three young deer that habitate the neighborhood (along with the elder doe) are familiar enough that they deserve names. This morning I spied one of them in the yard and decided it was worth trying to get a picture. I fumbled for the telephoto lens, which has been packed away since we moved, and eventually unearthed it and got in onto the camera. By this time a second deer was in the yard, too, and I could see the other two through the brush in the yard behind us. The sun was striking one of them, and I tried my best to seize the moment and capture it on film. For whatever reason, the camera set a reading at a slow shutter speed (or maybe somehow the focus got shifted from auto to manual when I changed the lens), so all the pictures are out of focus, but the one here is the best. The near one bravely ventured toward the house, and though it didn't seem to mind that I had opened the back door to get a good shot, it was cautious, nonetheless. The pictures aren't of a quality to keep, but now that the telephoto has come out of hiding, maybe there will be another opportunity to capture them on film. Patience, and lighting...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

christmas report, part II

Our Christmas was an easy day, though plagued with a wee bit of fatigue. After getting to bed at about 1:30, I was up at 5:00 to make biscuits and sausage gravy for Junior for breakfast before he got on the road at 6:00. After we saw him off, we had a little bit of time just to chat, and then I headed back to bed for a couple of hours. Once up I took the dogs out (thank you, Juliet, for your extreme patience and endurance!), we took care of a few domestic details, and then decided that it might be a good idea to open presents! It was nearly noon by then, and it felt so civilized to have such a relaxed pace.

We took a couple of hours to open presents, had a late lunch, and then Ken popped in his new “DaVinci Code” DVD and I promptly fell asleep on the couch. Not a commentary on the film, but my fatigue! Later we grazed through dinner, enjoyed some time in front of the fire, and then called it an early night. It was a nice, just right kind of day.

Here’s a guide to a few pictures from the last few days…
~a family portrait, including dogs!

~When he wasn’t helping Ken at work, Junior spent a fair amount of his time with us crafting five gifts for Christmas, which he finished shortly before we left for church Christmas Eve evening. They were shadow boxes that he made and stained, and filled with flags that he had taken with him on combat missions during his last tour in Iraq, along with a certificate of authenticity, his Ranger battalion coin, a Joint Services Commendation Medal that he received during his last stint, some Iraqi currency, and two pictures (one from his Ranger graduation, and the other of him in his dress blues). He worked so diligently to get these done, and I’m so proud of his efforts, as well as his accomplishments!

~Both Junior and Ken suffered thumb injuries over the weekend—Ken smashed his thumb when it didn’t get out of the way of a hammer in time, and while cutting the Styrofoam for the shadow box Junior lost the tip of his thumb to the knife blade!


~We draped garland over the doorway between the living room and dining area.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

the christmas report,part 1

It's been a wonderful Christmas, and the day is still around the corner!

Ashley and Travis arrived late on Friday from Savannah, detained by considerable traffic between Atlanta and Chattanooga. But oh, they’re young! At 11:30 PM they sat down to begin playing cards, and I took my tired body off to bed. The day had been one of nonstop activity—grocery shopping, food preparation, errands, wrapping stocking presents, cleaning the house, making up the beds and doing laundry, and so on. Poor Ken managed to smash his thumb early in the day while he and Junior worked on a project, so his task list went immediately out the window, with a few items delegated to Junior and me. It was a little crazed!

Saturday was our virtual Christmas, with a leisurely breakfast (this because it was being made from scratch, and there’s only so much you can do to hurry things along under such circumstances!). After breakfast we rearranged some furniture in front of the fireplace and opened stockings. Travis was a riot. Except for food items most all the other stuffers were wrapped, and he tried to determine what was in each package before opening it (see photo). His first attempt: a lighthouse calendar, which he nailed right down to the theme of the calendar! Other amazing, accurate guesses included a combination lock (and yes, the color was blue), post-it “flags,” and some silicon gel used in diving. How he did this I do not know. I think the only thing that really stumped him were some pop-up sponges, but even those he determined were not “in their full form.” The dogs had stockings, too, and were quite attentive in their posture awaiting their treats!

After stockings we broke for a little noshing and grazed our way into the afternoon, when we shifted gears to presents. One humorous moment in the day occurred when Junior opened a gift that was labeled for him but turned out to be mislabeled, and was intended for Ken! (It was an easy mistake, the two boxes were the same relative size and weight, and had been wrapped in the same paper!). Ken’s gift (a tool belt), was from my dad, so to balance things out I also opened a gift from Dad: portions of the Willow Tree Nativity set to complete what Mom had given me a couple of years ago. See photo! From Ashley and Travis I received a Willow Tree figure (a girl holding a sheep—have you noticed that I have a thing for sheep?), and an Italian charm bracelet. Great choice! Now I can be on the lookout for charms to add to it.

When it got dark we headed to the Opryland Hotel to see their holiday decorations, lights and displays, and stayed there for dinner (picture below). Ashley and Travis shoved off to Travis’ parents’ house in Clarksville just as I was heading to bed, and Ken and Junior stayed up a bit for some further conversation.

Today has been more like an ordinary Sunday, with the exception that we’ve got a late service at church for Christmas Eve. This morning we actually had a crowd of 65 (40 is a high number), but there are lots of folks who are out of town, and those with kids won’t venture out late, so I’m not sure what sort of showing we’ll have. Parishioners worked very hard to set up the parish hall for worship, and did a fabulous job converting that space into a place that feels sacred. In fact, it inspired this morning’s sermon, and I was able to echo the gospel text of Mary’s Magnificat and say to them that their souls magnified the Lord.” It was a very meaningful worship for many, and tears were flowing!

Okay, this could become a book, so I will cease for now and resume later with further reports and any tales to share (there is at least one!). Good tidings to all, and Merriest Christmas from all of us here.

merry christmas eve!

It's been a few days of hustle and bustle getting ready for Christmas, and we had our celebration yesterday with the kids. Don't have time to write much now as I'm getting ready to head to church, but here are a few pics of "before," with stockings and the tree groaning with presents, LOL. A fuller report will follow later. Cheers to all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

a good son

It has really been wonderful to have Junior with us this past week. He has spent many of his days working with Ken, but Sunday he joined us at church, sat through the brief annual meeting, helped put up decorations for Christmas, and snacked on the finger food offered (how is it that four of us brought meatballs?!?!?). Evenings we’ve spent with him as he got caught up on season three of “O.C.” (brand new TV territory for Ken and me), and in general kibitzing about. It doesn’t matter what we do, it’s just good to have him here. Nicest of all, in it’s own special way, is when he leaves in the morning with Ken and calls out to me on his way out the door, “’bye Anne—love you!” He’s a good son, and I’m going to hate to see him go when the time comes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

anything can happen

Last week when South Dakota's Senator Tim Johnson suffered a brain hemorrhage, the nation went berserk speculating about the balance of political power that might result from his precarious health. Give me strength. Although the question certainly hung in the air, a little respect for the man was in order. How about prayers and good wishes for his recovery? The balance won’t shift until such time as the Senator is no longer able to serve, and until then…

But it just goes to show that anything can happen to alter life as we know it.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from the senior warden at my church. A small fire had broken out at the church in a room under the choir loft. The copy machine had melted (though not entirely), and was thought to be the culprit. Thank goodness the roof is in the process of being replaced, because it was the roofers who saw the smoke and called 911. Had they not been there, chances are high that the church would have burned to the ground, or at least damaged significantly.

This morning I made a trip to the church to check out the damage first hand. While I was there a representative from the fire marshal’s office stopped by, and he determined that an electrical short was to blame. The fire was contained to the room that had been serving as a bizarre storage area: odds and ends, Christmas decorations (that we had removed the previous day to decorate the church!), the copy machine, a refrigerator, the Sunday ledger of receipts, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. A slightly humorous note: some sheet music survived the mini inferno, titled “In the wake of new disaster,” (it was written post-Katrina).

Things don’t look bad, but the pros have been there and given the place the white glove test. We didn’t pass. Anywhere. Smoke damage may not be visible to the naked eye, but it is omnipresent, as is the odor of burned plastic, rubber, and other assorted items. The smell was toxic, and I’m praying that my lungs recover quickly! It remains to be seen if we’ll be able to worship in the church on Sunday. Service Master has committed itself to cleaning the parish hall, but they were certain they couldn’t clean the nave and sanctuary in time. All we really need cleaned to worship is the pews. Either that, or we can all wear our best “get grubby and dirty” clothes for Christmas services.

Sigh. Anything can happen.

Monday, December 18, 2006

seven days to go

Have I mentioned that we have a gorgeous tree? It is full and perfectly shaped, with just enough space between the branches for hanging ornaments so that they don’t get lost! It is a Nordman variety, and our only regret is that it isn’t fragrant! We’re dealing with that in other ways, but every time I look at the tree it makes my heart glad. Here it is, with a few pictures of some of my favorite ornaments (and yes, there appears to be theme!). Presents are now wrapped and placed beneath, and I believe Santa may be making an early stop to add to the bounty. Can you hear the music in the background? I love Christmas…

Friday, December 15, 2006

'tis the season

It's been a good day, and though I wasn't on the receiving end of goodies at my doorstep, I think it qualifies as a big biscuit day. This morning I finished tagging and packing gifts that went into six boxes for shipping. This was after shipping out five of them yesterday! I loaded up the car with recycling, Christmas letters to take to Staples for folding, an item to drop off at the cleaners, and those boxes! They filled the back seat of the car, and I wondered what I was going to do when I got to the post office to get them from the car into the building. As I began to unload the boxes onto the sidewalk at the post office, a kind soul asked if I needed help, and the answer to that was a no-brainer! The wait at the post office was minimal--yahoo!--and then it was on the photo shop to order a few pictures. No wait there, either, and considering that it was lunch time, this was a minor miracle. Next stop--recycling. Piece of cake. Then lunch. Then Staples. Picked up something at Joann's, made a tour through Home Goods and found napkins to go with the Christmas table cloth I got from Mom, and then it was time to head home. Considering that the trip into Nashville and back is an hour of driving, all the above took place in four hours, which is amazing.

Back at the ranch I finished wrapping a few more gifts so that I could close down “wrapping central.” I had been using the guest room, and as of this evening, Junior is here to occupy that space! Tonight I’ll work on signing the letters and stuffing those into envelopes to be mailed tomorrow.

Progress. I like it. And I should sleep well tonight. Ahhh…….

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

sighting

When you round the corner at the end of our block you pass a house facing the perpendicular street. Next door to it is another house that faces the parallel street, and as you walk you approach its back yard. This morning as the dogs and I turned the first corner I noticed the shape of two deer in the second house’s back yard. In the dim light of dawn they were too obvious in appearance to be real deer, and I determined that they were probably lawn ornaments that had been added to the house’s holiday yard décor in the last few days. As we got closer my conclusions were confirmed.

But wait. There were deer in the yard! There is a “family” of four that we see pretty regularly—one older doe with three younger deer—as they have a habit of traversing our back yards in the early morning hours noshing on their leisurely breakfast snacks. They had spotted us before we saw them, and were stock still. This morning our usual family had guests with them, another doe and another young one. They stood watching us as I tried to determine whether to continue our pace forward, driving the dogs crazy as they picked up the scent, or wait until the deer decided to move off in another direction. Their position indicated that we were interrupting their route. Too late, Juliet saw them and began straining at the leash, and Dooley began to do likewise. The deer, calm as ever (they’re very familiar with the neighborhood), moved slowly to give us berth and continued to watch. They found a safe distance for them, and we continued on our way.

One of these days I want to have my camera handy when we encounter them. They’re not skittish (not usually), but they do like bad light!

Monday, December 11, 2006

marathon days

It was something of an intense weekend, packed as it was with special events, joy, fun and people we love. Let’s not forget, either, those successful errands! All told (errands excluded) we logged over 1400 miles in four days, traversing two time zones and five states to attend two rather different ceremonies. I can now report more precisely that Junior graduated from the army Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leadership Course, one of 43 graduates from across the country and including members of his own Ranger unit, National Guard soldiers, Marines, and others. At the other end of the spectrum we attended in St. Louis the baptism of Ella Noelle Marks (you all know her as Katie’s sister), followed by a celebration of her first birthday (which is officially on Wednesday).

The unexpected late hour of Junior’s graduation (3 PM, when we anticipated a morning ceremony) put us home late on Friday, and Saturday morning I had to catch up taking care of a few things that I had hoped to get accomplished the night before. Those delays made for a later than desired departure for St. Louis, where we had a few wedding gifts to return before stores closed that afternoon. En route to the Gateway City we also had a change of venue for our accommodations that night, shifting from one location to the home of some friends who get the hospitality award for going beyond expectations—they had returned earlier that day from a week in the Bahamas! We joined them in time for a delightful happy hour and then dinner at a small Italian restaurant called Mangia! Yum! It was a very pleasant evening and good to get caught up with them (these are the same friends whose son is getting married in Napa in the spring!).

Sunday morning was Ella’s baptism and birthday party, where Ella rose to the occasion (literally) by standing on her own for the first time while we were all gathered to encourage her and applaud madly.

We departed a little earlier than usual from those festivities to make one more gift return on our way out of town, and then pointed the car southeast and said, “Go!” It did.

We are glad to be home, reunited with beloved four-legged children and faced with the next set of lists. Among the items on mine today is getting a new car windshield installed, making a card for our new presiding bishop that I will take with me tonight to be signed at our annual clergy women’s Christmas dinner, making a dish to take to said dinner, begin writing our Christmas letter, and a couple of errands on my way to the same said dinner. I still have presents to wrap to get shipped, but I suspect that won’t happen today. That’s what tomorrows are for!

And speaking of lists, I’d better start tackling it!

Friday, December 08, 2006

reporting in...

As a latecomer to anything resembling military life, and I would NOT say that life resembles that now, I had to smile this morning when my "wake up call" was in the form of the cadence of a unit of soldiers on their morning round of physical training. They didn't pass right outside our window, but close enough! Reminds me of a time when I attended a Scottish dance summer program for a week, and our wake up call then was the sound of bagpipes as a piper marched into the quad and around below our windows. That sound (like this morning's) was a gradual crescendo, and definitely music to this girl's ears.

Anyway, we had fun last night—out for dinner, a quick stop at Winn Dixie to pick up a deck of cards, a swing through Starbucks, then back to our “quarters” for a few rounds of rummy. I don’t play cards very often, so I always have to relearn, but I did okay.

Shortly we’re heading to breakfast, after which we’ll have a long stretch of day to hang out until a very late graduation at 3:00. It’s going to make for a late night getting home, but thems the breaks, as the saying goes.

Y’all have a good day!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

greetings from ft. benning!

We've arrived here for Junior's graduation from advanced recconnaisance training and are about to head out for some basic shopping before heading to dinner. It was an easy trip, with the exception that our curbside pickup lunch order was totally messed up. A phone call to the manager to register my complaint seems to have resulted in gift cards being sent homeward. We'll see! In the meantime it's great to see Junior and to have this time together. Ashley has just arrived, too, and today is her birthday, so we'll be celebrating her tonight, and Junior tomorrow. Not a bad way to celebrate a couple of days! Y'all be good!!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

party attire

Heading into the holiday season two years ago I faced a fashion dilemma. I had owned two Christmas sweaters in adulthood, and one of them, perhaps my favorite for more than ten years, became an unfortunate casualty of the wash. I was down to one, and that simply wouldn’t do. A girl needs options, after all, even if she doesn’t get invited to holiday parties because the people she knows just don’t throw parties!

Anyway, I decided to rectify the Holiday Sweater Problem and added a new one to the wardrobe. It was quite adorable, if I say so myself, but wouldn’t you know it, the first time I wore it I managed to splatter small bits of barbecue sauce onto the front. It was a “wash by hand” sweater, and we all know what that means—it would be months before it would be wearable again!

So last year I indulged myself and bought two more sweaters, ready for whatever action might come my way. I’d resorted, frankly, to wearing them at home even if I never stepped one foot outside the door, so they would get some use! This year, we actually got invited to a holiday party over the weekend. Time to pull out the seasonal attire and dress up in full holiday regalia (which simply meant donning the sweater). But imagine my surprise when, at least among the first dozen women to show up at this party, none of the women were adorned with holiday fashion or even holiday color. In fact, half of them were wearing skirts! I gasped inwardly—I was out of fashion touch, and now I had a closet full of sweaters that would languish!

Eventually I was joined in my state of fashion staleness by two other women (one older than me, which makes me think this is a generational thing), so my pulse relaxed a tad, but it make me wonder. Is seasonal attire generational? Socio-economic? Dictated by Paris Hilton and her cronies? I’m at a loss. But I have decided this much—I will wear my fashion without apology and enjoy the festive look. Who cares, anyway?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

three good things

The other day there was an article in the paper about improving one’s happiness. A motivational speaker who thought she pretty much knew the drill about techniques in that vein was challenged by a new one. The idea was this: before going to bed, think about three good things that happened during the day, and consider what it was that made them good things for the person in question. She claimed that in practicing this techniques the quality of her dreams changed (for the better), and so did her outlook. By the time my head is hitting the pillow the last thing I want to be doing is thinking, never mind trying to analyze portions of my day! But during the night last night, while I was awake between segments of sleeping, I decided to think of three good things from the day. Fortunately they were easy!

In sequence:
1) I got a phone call in the morning from a friend whose son is newly engaged, and he and his fiancé would like me to perform their wedding next spring/summer. They will fly Ken and me out to Napa for the event! As I said to her, that’s an offer I can’t refuse!
2) I had a great shopping day on my way home from church, narrowing down the list of gifts to get to a mere handful
3) We received a wonderful wedding present from a group of friends (you know who you are!!) that will allow us to take a honeymoon—finally!!

Kip would call this a big biscuit day (as would I), and future days won’t have such obvious “goodness” happening from which to glean my three good things. But what a wonderful way to start a process of reflecting on what is good, to improve dreams (and sleep!), and increase my joy. I’m on the lookout now!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

happy birthday, Ken!

Today is Ken’s birthday, and I need to get my you-know-what in gear and wrap a few presents! He started the day with an early breakfast down at the Cathedral, but will come home a little early from work so that we can head downtown to P.F. Chang’s for dinner. We have discovered that there are actually some choices on the menu there that I can eat! He’s good to indulge my dietary needs on HIS birthday!
Here are a few more pics from the wedding that we got from Mom yesterday. I love the one of Mom, Sammy and me. I’m afraid there really aren’t going to be any good pictures of the dress. It’s embroidery is not symmetrical, running down the left side of the bodice and skirt, and it seems that in all the pictures I am turned (mostly) with my left side away from the camera. This picture is probably the best so far that shows the dress from head to toe. The other is of the best women of the bridal party, including our best girl, Katie. (Left to right are Jayne Trapnell, our Yenta, from Ringgold, GA; Caroline Gilje, friend from St. Louis and veterinarian extraordinaire; Judy Stoughton, matron of honor, from Manchester, CT, and friend since the fourth grade; and Barbara Walton, friend of mine and of my family and my grandmother, from Augusta, GA. Katie needs no introduction!) We’re still waiting to hear from the photographer about her pictures!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

a glimpse of holiday color

We had a great day Sunday, beginning with a surprise birthday reception for Ken at church. From there we went to Cheekwood, our botanical garden, to see the holiday displays at the mansion/museum. Here are a few pics--wish I had some of these kinds of spaces to decorate!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

the end result

The wreaths are up, and this morning Ken is cleaning out the gutters while he prepares to hang icicle lights at the front of the house. Here’s a picture of the wreaths, and a solicitation of opinions!

The kitchen window is a half window, with a wooden façade below it. It’s the only window that we really spend any time looking out of that faces the front of the house, so I didn’t want to obscure that small space by hanging the wreath there while there was an adequate space to attach it below. But I’m wondering if it looks funny hanging lower than the rest of the wreaths, which are suspended in the upper half of the windows. Any thoughts out there on the subject? I could really go either way.

We’re grateful for a nice day with moderate temperatures to get some of this outdoor work done, and this afternoon will go to Cheekwood (our botanical garden) to see their holiday display and get some pictures for use on my cards (I hope). I am loving this long weekend, and it’s nice to have a leisurely pace after the fullness of the previous months. That will end soon enough as Christmas preparations swing into full gear! Today, I’m enjoying a gentler pace.

Friday, November 24, 2006

after the feast

We had a lovely day yesterday enjoying our elaborate feast for just the two of us! I had cubed bread several days before to dry out (can’t eat the store-bought stuff), and Ken got the stuffing put together before I was even up—I must say it was pleasant to rise to the aroma of cooked stuffing. He also put together a beet and onion salad for him, and made a cheese sauce for asparagus (for him). I made a sweet potato dish with coconut milk (yum!) and a salad for me, plus we had corn and the cranberry sauce I had made earlier in the week. The turkey was fabulous (healthy food is delicious as well as good for you!), and we’ve got plenty to nosh on in the coming days.

The weather was lovely, too, sunny and pleasant, and the dogs and I enjoyed an afternoon stroll after getting the kitchen cleaned up. In the evening I made bows and attached them to wreaths that I bought on Wednesday to hang on the windows at the front of the house. Forgive me Mom, they’re fake! More economical over the years and you can’t tell the difference from the street. We had hoped to bring decorations down from the attic but didn’t get to that, so will do that this afternoon, as well as get the wreaths hung. Here’s a picture of two of them ready to go!

It’s so nice to have a place to decorate after the limitations of the cabin the last two years, and though I’ve always enjoyed doing this on my own, what a difference it makes to have someone to share in the preparation and pleasure!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

another look at pilgrims

Earlier this year I spotted a new book out, simply titled Mayflower. I contemplated buying it, but was spared the investment when I had the opportunity instead to listen to it in the car on my trip to St. Louis several weeks ago. I was astounded by the amount of detail recorded in original journals by the likes of William Bradford, et al. What time they rose in the morning on those early days scouting Cape Cod for a settlement site, for instance. But what was most fascinating was the insightful probing into the relationships and the politics of the events that transpired with the native people (not to mention their own!). There were episodes both inspiring and tragic, and for better or worse, the sad reality that humanity doesn’t learn much from history. We seem doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again in different times and different places. It seems that the critical ingredient that doesn’t change, and that leads to so much trouble, is the arrogance of leadership. No surprise there!

In short, our present day Thanksgiving (minus the parades and the ball games) is grounded in a historic truth, though we also give that truth short shrift by focusing only on blessings. That first meal was also the fruit of two differing peoples that found mutual benefit in forging relationship, and establishing bonds of trust, however tenuous under the circumstances. It strikes me that the greatest gift of that first year was more than survival, it was hope. And after learning about what that first year was like, hope was indeed a great gift.

So today I give thanks for what is and has been, and in the spirit of my pilgrim ancestors, celebrate and offer a toast to all that is yet to come. Slainte!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

oddly wonderful

Fall in Tennessee tends to be mild, and by that I mean that temperatures during the day generally range anywhere between the low 50’s into the high 70’s, with cool nights. It feels strange to me, a transplanted Yankee, who still thinks of fall as a season where colder temperatures begin to prevail by the end of October. We’ve had an unusually cold fall this year. In spite of the fact that it reached 80 on November 10, it’s been not only chilly but downright cold more often than not. Frost has prevailed, and it actually feels like winter. In fact, it feels so much like winter that the feel of the air has the effect of transporting me to New England memories. I don’t like being cold, but I don’t mind the cold weather and I love snow. The time/geography/warp that I’m experiencing is actually rather nice, and it certainly helps ease me into the spirit of the coming holidays more readily than 60 degree days would.

For the gift of memories of treasured times and places, and the joy of experiencing those feelings here and now, I give thanks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

a dieter's nirvana

One of the key components to "eating naturally" is the elimination of processed sugar from one's diet. Bypassing cake, ice cream, candy bars and the like are obvious sacrifices, but there is sugar in almost every food out there: soups, breads, ketchup, and so on. First you learn to read labels, then you just know what to avoid. Eating naturally is about eating food in its most natural state, and though organic and health foods are a vast improvement over most processed foods, they aren’t necessarily “natural.”

For the most part I haven't missed sugar—I didn’t have much of a sweet tooth before beginning this new regimen—though every now and then a little something sweet would be a wonderful thing. The other day while shopping for my “healthy” Thanksgiving turkey at Wild Oats I happened upon these little morsels. Most of the time when I check labels on items like this I expect to be disappointed, but this time around, the ingredients fell within the realm of the consumable. Yeeeehaaawwwww! Spice cookies are among my favorite (it’s no shock that the wedding cake was a spice cake), and these are incredibly moist and yummy. Thank you, Uncle Eddie, for creating nirvana for this girl’s taste buds, and for taking a bite out of the sacrifice of eating healthy!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

is this cool, or what?

One of the fun things about planning this wedding was getting to know and work with the various vendors we chose. I especially enjoyed Amy, from the Bake Shoppe, who did our cake. I chose this particular vendor from among the many I encountered at a bridal show in July. There were many beautiful cakes on display at the show, and some very clever concoctions, but Amy's work demonstrated both imagination and artistry. That is what I wanted. This combination was important because I also knew that I wanted a Celtic design on the cake (the theme of the wedding was Celtic), and I suspected that such a design might prove to be a challenge. I was right.

When I first met with the owner of the shop I took with me several books with Celtic designs, and we talked about the complexity of transferring such designs to a cake. They did some research, and I did some research. They tried a sample, and we did more research. Finally I found several quilt border templates that I thought might work, and Amy and I conferred about which of them would work best. The result is what you see here.

I know this picture has already been posted, but it is repeated here for a reason. The cake was prepared the day before the wedding, and that evening photographers from Enchanted Bride magazine were at The Bake Shoppe doing an interview, and our cake caught their eye. They photographed it, and it may appear in their magazine! Unfortunately it wasn’t fully decorated at the time (flowers were added the next day), but the fact that they liked it enough to photograph even without the flowers speaks to its artistry. To me, the end result was perfect. Thanks, Amy—I hope they publish your cake! (and PS--thanks, Pam, for the photo!)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

day three of pictures!

I can’t promise these will be the last of the wedding photos for a while, but I’m sure they all start to look alike after a while! These include the scrapbooking crew, all of whom got to know each other through an online message board, the cake (it may be hard to see, but the effort around this cake had to do with the Celtic pattern on it—the inside was spice cake, and it was delish, to quote RR!), and probably the best detail shot that exists of part of my dress! Yesterday was a very full day of church, some gift exchanges, a little bit of Christmas shopping, returning the hurricanes from the reception to the people who loaned them to us, and a hospital visit. Last night we watched the Dancing with the Stars finale (yay, Emmit!!), and then the premiere of Day Break, which I thought was fascinating. A different twist, in a way, on the 24 idea.

Today I am trying to get back into the swing of things. Thank you notes are a must! Laundry is caught up, and the house is in reasonable shape after the chaos of the weekend. I’m aware of a little post-event letdown, so I am being nice to myself. It really was a great weekend, and I’m envisioning a scrapbook page following the “Master Card” motif: wedding dress, $???; centerpieces, $??? A perfect wedding, priceless. You get the idea. I welcome suggestions about what items to include in that list!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

more wedding pics!

Here are a few more pictures from the blessed event. Except for the cake shote, these were all taken before the ceremony. Top to bottom are:
-My nephew, Jesse
- Katie
- getting ready to cut the cake
- a pose at the altar between photos

Monday, November 13, 2006

first images of the blessed event!

I don’t know how to begin to write about our wedding weekend. It was a wonderful time, and for the most part things went well. Two things stand out in my mind at the moment—in spite of very chilly weather on the day itself, there was a warmth that surrounded us from the love of those who were there to celebrate with us, and the spaces where we celebrated (including the rehearsal dinner the night before) seemed themselves to glow. The image of warmth lingers still, and that sensation continues to keep my spirits high even as family and guests have headed back home and we begin to turn our attention to the next set of “to do’s” in our own life.

I have no pictures of my own to share, and at this point only have a few that Jules has forwarded on to me so that I could have something to post here. I am hoping that others who attended will send along their pictures. It feels very strange, as a photographer, not to have been in a position to be behind the camera and snap away. Our professional photographer used film, so for digital images to share I must rely on others.

These pictures are from our first dance, when we were attempting to waltz. I say “attempt” because my dress was so long at the back (even bustled) that I kept stepping on it, and as any dancer knows, that can tend to mess you up a bit. At least there are pictures!

Back at the ranch we have opened the gifts that were brought to the reception, and now the work of thank you notes begins, not to mention finding places to put things away! At the moment the dining table is close to overflowing, but frankly, that's a problem we can live with.
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