Finally Out Of The Closet

Cripes. The wedding is over, my book is still in limbo–what is there to write about so as to maintain my readership? (Thanks, you seven people.) How can I entertain you?

Well, let’s talk about weather. Hey, pretty boring, yes? But here it is June, and the rain refuses to stop. Two days ago we had such wind with the rain that our neighbors’ apple tree collapsed. All those pretty pictures of the roses from my garden on my Facebook page? You should see those roses now. Not so much blown to pieces (and many were), but more that the limbs holding those bunches of flowers are sagging miserably. Even the bright new leaves on the grapevine were literally sheared off.

“Sagging miserably”–hey, that sounds like me. The worst thing is being stuck in the house day after day. Sure, I could put on a slicker, don my gardening gloves and whistle a happy tune as I deadhead the roses in the slanting rain, but no. I just can’t do it. So I find myself roaming the house, itchy with nothing to do. But wait: pruning? House? There’s the answer. Time to get rid of stuff.

Out go the old wedding arrangements, the ones where the ferns are so dried up that the little spores on the undersides are now yellow and ready to burst. No pretending they are still beautiful, bringing back gentle thoughts of that lovely nuptial day. Now they be ugly. Hey, how about that woven grass tote I brought back from Bali ten years ago? It’s now faded and brittle and the handles are busted off. Forget sentiment; out it goes. And even that crappy travel underwear I loved because it dried so quickly? I wore them in Morocco when? Sixteen years ago? Bundle those babies up and toss them. Oh, I am so bad, keeping all that crap. I even went through my clothes yesterday, a task long neglected, and filled a giant shopping bag with baggy, shoulder-padded stuff. I don’t want to see it again. Out with the old, in with the new, because that’s always the way it goes. Why, only two days ago I bought a new top at Marshall’s. Here we go again.

And speaking of new, we’ve now found a solution (we hope) to our cat’s neurotic self, something to tear her away from concentrating her frightening psyche on us (we have to lock her in the closet when we go for walks so she can’t follow us). A week ago we sucked it up, went to the pound and got two new cats. Why two? Because after we fell for one, the pound lady informed us if we took her, we had to take the cat’s inseparable litter mate as well. What a scam. But we did so, and now we have Grace and Diana, goddess of the hunt, as it’s already obvious that’s her gig.

Now Maia has something else to be interested in, and it’s right beyond that crack in the guest room door. Further more, there are two to be frantic about. Now, that should keep her psycho self occupied for a while and out of the closet. Would love to take a walk now, but it’s raining . . .

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XOXO from Paradise

My last post: “Eight days and counting.” Hard to believe; that seems so long ago. But I was so busy, what with the upcoming wedding and the impending end of the world as we know it. Wow, on the big day I received 157 hits on my site, and frankly, I really don’t think they were related to the nuptials. Today, for example, I’ve received three. So there you go.

Since nothing of note has happened with the book, I will turn to the wedding. Except for the fact that my sister had $195 stolen from her purse, it all went beautifully. Absolutely the perfect day–clear blue skies and mild and comfortable temps with Mr. Sun smiling gently over all. The bride was radiant, and I’m not just saying that as a mom. The dress was conservatively simple in style but of dupioni silk which hung in a heavy cascade of rich folds (you can tell I paid for it, right?). She went for the veil with the little rosebuds from our garden at the crown draped over her face that still allowed her blue eyes to shine through. And her stubborn insistence on red and yellow flowers for her bouquet was right after all, with their brightness a true reflection of her spirit rather than the more sugary-sweet choice that pink and white would have been.

At the altar the bridesmaids flanked her in yellow dresses. A small problem there; one of the bridesmaids had to drop out about two days before, so Amelia, Katie’s cousin, graciously agreed to step in–to the dress that was just a little too short and tight on her than expected. But at twenty years old, what with her purple suede shoes, multiple tattoos and stylish brown and orange streaked hair shaved short on one side, she definitely pulled it off. After all, the bridal party was adorned with gorgeous leis flown in fresh from Hawaii by Jake’s mom, and everyone else in the church, including the pastor, was festively decked with blinking fake leis, so a little off-balance touch was right in order.

The reception was held in the little garden behind the church (which, by the way, was 115 years old with its original chairs). Flowers were abloom, and the table bouquets of more red and yellow flowers glowed against the backdrop of towering greenery. A giant old oak surrounded by a wooden bench spread its branches over all. The DJ had set up a small dance floor, and the cake had its own place of honor elevated in the far corner of the garden. And the little red flowers atop the yellow cake were perfect. Shame on me for assuming they would look like a brick squashing the cake; they were beautiful.

We had food, delicious food, more food than we could possibly eat–so much food that when we finally got the leftovers home, we rounded up all of our neighbors to take all that they could use. Sadly, all the homeless shelters were closed by that time, and I learned that they don’t answer the phone after 8:00 or so. But the marinara sauce that our neighbor Steve considerately cooked up for us out of the leftover bruschetta was divine.

And so the newlyweds are basking in the Hawaiian sun by the blue, blue sea, texting us, “Having fun in paradise XOXO.” To my dear daughter: it was all worth it, after all. XOXO

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Put A Brick On It

A little catch-up time needed, and I actually have some news about my book. My friend the bridge player, published writer and Phi Beta Kappa finished reading the book and pronounced it good, that I should pursue publishing it. When she heard it would be close to 400 pages (I was embarrassed, so my white lie: more, once I add the photos), she said it needed cutting. But she loved my grandmother’s voice, those of my feisty daughters–and mine, I’m supposing. So once the wedding is over, I have a new project to fill my time.

And speaking of weddings: I never guessed how much time little details would consume, how many times I’ve taken the car out to get the stupidest little thing that we forgot to get earlier. What kinds of things, you might ask? How about those little net bags to hold birdseed from that 40-lb. box from Costco for the guests to toss gaily as the happy couple descends the church steps to begin a new life together (or should I say celebrate the city hall marriage they had last fall)? The little box of straight pins with multicolored frosted heads for the Money Dance? (Don’t ask–please.) The Unity Candle to be lit by yet two more dripless candles? Where do you get those?

And now that we’re down to the nibs and pibs, there are those squeamish decisions that seem to stick to one like cat hair. The generic poem Katie wants to have read whose meter is so bad it could make you cry. I had to rewrite it. And the cake topper. You know that the wedding colors are red and yellow, right? (Not nice; I can hear you gasping from here.) Nevertheless, the cake is going to be so pretty and delicate, lemon yellow with white fondant swirly patterns applied, plus a few flowers here and there, and pearls separating the layers (no plastic pillars, thanks). Well, the bride insists that since the color scheme is yellow and red, she wants the cake topper to be all red flowers. Nice. It’s going to look as if someone put a brick on it. There goes that delicate effect.

Both Richard and I agree this color thing is going to be gross. But when he gets on the phone, he tells her, “Your mother says the top shouldn’t be red.” So there it is: Mom once again is the Bad Cop, while Dad is the Good, Beloved Cop. Such a piss-off. At least he has finally agreed to take care of getting the beverages to the caterer. Filling a hundred tiny net bags with three tablespoons each of birdseed is too tough for a manly man who is all thumbs.

Eight days and counting.

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A Little Pick-Me-Up Needed

Thank heavens for Mother’s Day! I know that it’s supposed to be a Hallmark scam, but it does have its merits. I know, what could they possibly be?

Checking the invitees’ list, I discovered the other day that 87 out of about 100 guests expect to attend The Big Day. Uh oh. I got this sinking feeling that that case of champagne was just not going to be enough. But wait! This Sunday is–Mother’s Day! Hurray! We bought our first case just before Valentine’s Day (another Hallmark biggie) when it was on sale, and at Raley’s this afternoon I bought another half case–on sale! So I hope those of you who have a wedding coming up sometime in the future will take this tip and buy big right before the holidays. Put that tip right up there by buying a bridesmaid and MOB dress direct from China and you’ll shave at least a big $150+ off your expenses. Really makes a difference when you’ve already sunk [an amount Richard said we probably shouldn’t put in here] into the affair.

Meanwhile, back at Starlet’s (what a name!), the shop where we bought Katie’s dress, we went back yesterday for “The Fitting.” That’s where they check out the newly-arrived dress to be sure the bride hasn’t either lost a size in a panic or gained a size or more by chowing down in a panic. It’s interesting; they use these giant, construction-sized clippies to fit the dress perfectly (assuming you’re of the clippie class rather than the . . . well, I don’t know what they do about the brides who have assuaged their fears by eating a gallon of ice cream). Thank the Lord that Katie was of the former class. I thought she would cry, she was so entranced by her appearance on the pedestal in front of the full-length mirror. She was definitely into the magic “Queen for a Day” mode. That sort of moment kind of makes it all worthwhile.

On the other hand, you had the girl in the strapless, jewel-encrusted number who just knows she looks like hot stuff. She was just turning and preening while the shopgirls gushed about how great she looked. And she did look great; it’s just the way she knew it that sort of spoiled the show. She had that hard look in her eyes, that look of assessment: do I really have just the best f—ing boobs ‘n’ butt in this dress or what?

Another meanwhile: this morning I decided to try on my own MOB dress to avoid any last-minute surprises. It really was rather snug around the bodice when it arrived, but today I whipped out my pseudo-Spanx (hey, they were from Frederick’s of Hollywood), spent five minutes tugging it up my torso, then put on the dress that Richard has to zip up.

My, the Spanx did make a difference. But there was still the problem of the tits plastered somewhere just north of the bellybutton. The dress has boning that obviates the use of a brassiere, but there’s still a need for some kind of hoisting there.

Voila! It’s the “Pick-Me-Up Breast Lift Tape” to the rescue! All I had to do was Google “breast lift tape,” and up it comes, if you’ll pardon the pun. You should see this product: an oval of what I guess is surgical tape filled in with something non-sticky in the nipple area, and then a rectangle of tape at the top. You paste the oval on, hoist up the tit, then stick the rectangle on when the desired cleavage is attained.

And I even popped for the more expensive product, which makes sense in that the cheaper kind made in Mexico was said by reviewers to leave nasty red marks when the tape was painfully peeled off. And I guess there was some consternation over the instructions being in Spanish. Ay yi yi–this is a problem I wouldn’t need at the last minute. I can just see myself calling Gema, my Spanish-speaking cleaning lady, to have her translate: “Peel off backing. Center oval of tape over” etc. etc. A definite chance for some serious misunderstanding there. Let’s just hope the P-M-UBLT works its magic.

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Wax Wings

Happy to say I have arisen like the phoenix from the ashes, although there’s still the possibility of taking a plunge like Icarus again (like all those mythological references?). I’m sparky and am singing to myself as always. My only fear is my driving, about which I’ve had some rather close scrapes. Almost backed into a teenager Sunday, who at least didn’t give me the finger but made that open-armed gesture like, “Just what the hell do you think you were doing, lady?” Well, what I was doing was trying to back up so that woman in the white Beemer wouldn’t hit me as I tried to turn left out of a driveway, only to discover one of those little center dividers ahead of me.

Sigh. But close calls are nothing compared to the crevasse, so I just try to take it easy on the road. And maintain my composure as the Big Day draws near. I just realized that three days before the wedding is Richard’s birthday. Oh, great; a birthday party to put on. Maybe he’ll just accept a noodle dinner at Pho Vietnam, our local Thai joint. I can stick a candle in one of those weird pudding things with the unidentifiable gelatinous balls in them. Maybe I can get them to come out and sing “Happy B-day” in Thai. Very memorable.

Meanwhile, the bride is nearing the breakdown stage. She is very hassled by details which I try to relieve her of; I bought her nylons at the Macy’s sale yesterday and left them under her windshield wiper.  But her real problem is finding a poem she really likes for the ceremony. Unfortunately, she likes Mary Oliver. Have you read her poetry? It’s all like, I’m running away to save myself, and the geese honking high and free; not really wedding stuff. I Googled “Mary Oliver love poem,” and only one came up, and it was pretty lame. Why can’t we just go with the program as originally fashioned (that means by her mother)?

And it’s important to have a program, as the church’s pianist confided. If we go without, we risk Ann, the church manager, continually trying out different possibilities, stretching the rehearsal out to three hours. Makes you want to cry with fatigue. So the pianist thought having a program was an excellent idea. As long as we can circumvent Mary Oliver, we’ll be set.

Oh. Oh yes, the book. Who is thinking about that now? But I guess I should mention it, as it is what this blog is supposed to be about. “Book,” OK? Just get me past Richard’s birthday, my two psych appointments, the meetings with the florist and the caterer again, the shoe dyer, the hair cutter and highlighter, the pickup up of bottles of water from Costco and people from airports, and on and on. Do I feel wax wings springing from my shoulders?

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Fall into A Helpless Crevasse

Happy to say that my daughter has taken the reins for her wedding into her own hands. Very organized. And glad that Jimalee, my reader, says I write very well. She’s an expert on the subject.

And now a quiz:

What do you call it when your typing goes whack?

What do you call it when you fall up the stairs and put a gash in your arm?

What do you call it when you have to lean against the wall to put your socks on?

What do you call it when words constantly escape your mind?

What do you call it when you decide you shouldn’t drive because you almost rear ended a truck and you drove over a curb?

What do you call it when you trip over rugs?

What do you call it when two doctors disagree?

What do you call it when you cry for no apparent reason?

What do you call it when you are sad, sad, sad?

Answer: depression.

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Why Write?

I don’t think I’ve talked about this before in this setting, but I feel it should be addressed: why did I write this book anyway? Yes, I know, it was a terrific trip worth recording, but there’s more to it than that.

Why do people write? Some are filled with stories just bursting to get out. Some feel poetry expresses their feelings to the utmost. Plays are it for some. Nonfiction accounts requiring deep research some writers find very satisfying.

So where do I fall in this conglomeration? I think there are a lot of reasons. Of course the magic (and grisly details) of our trip is one, but not the main one. Digging deeper, I find that my turning sixty last December was a big jolt to me. I realized I didn’t want to be sixty, nor look as if I were sixty. Sounds vain, doesn’t it? But the huge realization was that I was headed down that slope into the last third (if I’m lucky) of my life. There is a group of us that meet regularly to discuss the question as to what that third of life should mean. Is there a purpose? Several hundred years ago women had their babies, and if they didn’t die in the process (and a lot did; thus, the “wicked stepmother”), their purpose in life was over. Now, with the advances in medicine, people can expect to live well into their eighties.

Then, there is my personal feeling that there are two deaths: one physical and the other, when people forget you. Here is where my feelings about writing are headed. In my bookcase is a large volume about my great-uncle, a rich old guy who owned eighty acres on Hollywood Boulevard; then over there is another much smaller book written by my aunt about living in Vermont. And somewhere (I spent the morning looking for it to no avail) is a journal kept by an ancestor who was at Fort Sumter when the first shots were fired. I wish I could find it, because his description of the sand flying as the palmettos were knocked over, the first corner of the fort being blasted off, and the victorious whoops, hollers and waving arms as the soldiers jumped in glee so evoked the excitement of battle.

Then there was the diary of my Grandmother Ruth (same one) and her trip out west to the dude ranch—an adventurous gal was she. While the diary has been lost to the ages (or else my cousins have it somewhere), I have the photos that tell the story , thanks to my mother jotting the circumstances of each photo on the back: “In at the kill—bobcat shot at Hellmann Ranch—Margaret Foster, R.K.C., Clany [sic] Waites.” And of course there was her six-month Grand Tour diary.

When I worked on my own journal, there was always that half-baked idea that maybe someday another generation would follow in our footsteps. I know my girls were fascinated by bits and pieces of Ruth’s commentary as we traveled along. But it wasn’t until my sixtieth birthday that I realized the true purpose of this book: to leave a piece of me behind that perhaps would keep me alive years hence. My poor Civil War relative; he spent most of the war sick with dysentery; my bombastic great-uncle who grew groves of avocado trees along Hollywood Boulevard; my aunt Marjorie, she so sensitive to the changes of the seasons; Ruth, the athletic, adventurous girl who “rode astride” and shot bobcats.

What will readers remember about me someday? I hope it isn’t just my sense of sarcasm! Maybe my own desire to travel and see the more obscure parts of the world. I can only wonder. But I know that the only way it’s going to happen is through my words.

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