The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

It just keeps getting better...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Practice Cakes, Card Stock and Saved Corks (Oh My!)

Operation Wedding Planning Land is in full swing. With help, we are steadily working away on the crafts, projects, and tasks we have charged ourselves with. Now that my dress is basically done, I feel a sense of relief and I can focus on other projects as the countdown to the big day continues.  We have been trying out
various recipes--particularly those for cakes and frostings and I have taken to referring to them as "practice cakes"--as in, "I'll bring a practice cake to the party/potluck/meeting!"  We have crossed a couple cake recipes OFF our list of potentials (sorry but red velvet really did nothing for either Teri or I) and there are still a few to try.  In the process, I have learned a few new-to-me snazzy cake-baking tricks:

1. Some cakes are just less crumbly than others!  Go with the less crumbly ones!
2. Crumb coating is a nifty first step to keep from picking up crumbs during the main frosting of the cake.
3. Professional gel food colorings are mighty cool!
4. A round of waxed paper on the bottom of the pan makes sure the cake comes out in one piece AND makes for a nice, smooth bottom!
5. Those cardboard cake bases really do make for a sturdy and portable base for a decorated cake.
6. The offset spatula rocks.

I know that these may not seem very revolutionary to most people, but for me, each new skill makes me feel studly and more confident that we’ll be able to pull off all the baking ourselves.  Each craft or task that we accomplish is like a feather in our Wedding cap.  Yay us!

We have a rather big project yet to do (and we haven't even started yet.)  We have decided to make placecard holders out of the wine corks we have been saving and accumulating since we first moved in together.  Each time a bottle of wine is opened in this house, Teri and I decided to toss the corks in a glass jar and save them.  I think we originally pictured a huge carboy full of corks collected over time.  Instead, we've decided to take all our joint-so-far corks and use them for the wedding.  This will involve two gals and a couple of sharp implements (utility/exact-o knives) and neither Teri nor I have been overly eager to start with the cutting!

The other day, I did sort out all of the corks (and threw away a couple that were cracked or crumbly) and discovered that we had 96--that is a lot of corks for just over a year of cohabitation by two women who aren't very devoted drinkers.  What that really means is that we've been blessed to share our home with many wonderful people; host a few parties; and accumulate some memories--perfect little mementos to add to our Wedding day.

And the Award goes to...

I had known Teri for barely a month when I invited her to my house for an "Oscar Party"--almost a dozen of us, including my movie passionate son, sitting around my then living room over great snacks rooting for our favorites.  It was actually the first time Teri was ever at my house.  She remembers it as a night when she was wondering what sort of person (meaning me) actually watches all these Oscar-nominated movies?!

That was the year Sean Penn won as Best Actor for his role as gay activist Harvey Milk and we lesbians hooted and hollered; and the year Slumdog Millionaire won for Best Picture.

Last year (see photo), we watched the Academy Awards with all the kids at my former in-laws house.  If I'm not mistaken, my ex man-husband and his new partner were there too, as were friends/boyfriends/etc. of the kids.  And, that is where we are heading tonight, practice cake in hand (that is what I am calling all the cakes I'm baking to practice and prepare for Wedding baking), to see who wears what, who says what, and whether or not our favorites actually receive the recognition they deserve! is one of the most interesting platforms for comparing differences.  Since partnering with Teri, I have seen more Science Fiction and Action Adventure movies than I have seen in my entire life; I have seen movies that I NEVER would have imagined being able to sit through (and to be honest, I actually really enjoyed some of them!)  For her part, she has opened her viewing eyes to some foreign and Indie films that she would have never gone anywhere near.  We have both expanded our genres and while we both now draw the line at some movies we just aren't willing to sit though (she went to see Tron with another friend of ours and I watched Last Year at Marienbad alone when she was at work), it is one of the great platforms of compromise and open-mindedness in our relationships.

Yesterday, it was Teri's idea to try to squeeze in a couple of the nominated movies that we hadn't seen and we walked over to the movie house to see both True Grit and The King's Speech.  It has bee a long time since I've created a double feature day at the movies!

If you ask Teri, she will tell you that she had to get used to a family that debates and discusses movies, actors, performances, etc.  and we do.  Movies were one of the artforms I used to try to teach my kids how to support opinions and be able to discuss different ideas and themes while being able to listen to others too.  Plus, I just LOVE movies and plays.  On my side of things, I have been learning the value of movies as entertainment--sometimes it IS fun just to watch things go fast or blow up or to see really eye-opening special effects.

So, tonight, we will be together watching the awards--we haven't missed sharing the Oscars together since we met (I hope I can say that 40 years from now!)  I think Teri has chosen The King's Speech as her favorite of the nominated pictures but I'm not entirely sure which movie I think should win.  I am just going to love sharing the fun of the evening with my Girl and the fam!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In Sickness...

You don't really know someone until you've seen them sick. I think there is a very good reason that "in sickness and in health" has been included in marriage vows for eons--it just ain't a pretty sight.

It is one thing to fall madly in love at the inception of a new relationship--after all, we are on our best behavior: freshly showered with a snazzy coif, smelling good and wearing the jeans that make our butt look best; we practice our witty retorts and tend to laugh and smile...a lot.  And then we move forward a little: we are still trying to be up early to brush our teeth and comb our hair before climbing back into bed, still wearing bras and avoiding the loose, comfy underwear.  But, as anyone who has opted to stay in a relationship for the longer haul knows, eventually somebody (and usually both somebodies) gets sick.

Alas, that is where the real love begins to develop.  Teri and I have both been sick a few times in the course of our two-plus years together, and since we fully acknowledge that we are getting older and not younger, it is likely to be one of those things we maneuver again and again for the next forty years.  We have different approaches, she and I--Teri is much better at the self care: she drinks hot tea and takes naps and can describe her symptoms in eloquent detail.  I, on the other hand, tend to try to ignore and pretend that I am NOT getting sick until it is unavoidably upon me and then I vacillate between whining and isolating.  I also have this philosophy that the cure for any sickness is to just get outside and let fresh air work its magic.  Don't ask me where I came up with that, but I am sure it is in a medical text somewhere (okay, maybe one from the fifteenth century.) As for describing my symptoms, I am so busy trying to pretend I'm not sick that I haven't much more than "sniffles" and "sick" to share for what I might have.

True love is being able to continue to snuggle up to a partner who might sneeze all over you at any moment; it is being able to say "poor baby" when she scuffles out of the bathroom for the umpteenth time; it is still managing to say something saucy and flirtatious after you've watched her run to the sink with a big chunk of phlegm she's just coughed up.  True love isn't always hearts and flowers and boudoir behaviors--ask any long-term committed couple and they will likely remind you that real love is all about the "in sickness and in health" stuff.


Friday, February 25, 2011

NOT a Royal Wedding

Yesterday, curled up in a big comfy chair in our spare bedroom, the Blue Room as we call it (which does sound a bit as if it is off in the West Wing of our Royal Residence, doesn’t it?) working away while the snow melted from the skylight, I got temporarily distracted by a video about the mailing of the Royal Wedding Invitations.  Supposedly the Queen (of England) mailed out 1900 of the gilded and embossed “ensembles” to all sorts of lucky duckies (ours has not arrived, just so you know.)  I couldn’t help but compare and contrast like a good English major, Prince William’s and Kate Middleton’s affair with ours!

Well, of course, ours is NOT a Royal Wedding and we are NOT young royal glamourpusses (I’ve always wanted to use that term in a piece of writing!) We are not sending out 1900 invitations but instead, wrestled and wrangled over the 70 we are sending out.  I am actually a grateful American in that the Queen didn’t choose the guest list and all our plans don’t have to be filtered through a committee of etiquette-os and public relations experts.  I am likewise thankful that we get to have our one reception instead of a stuffy gilded luncheon, followed by ANOTHER dinner reception.  Who foots the bill for all this receptioning?  The Royal Family?  The taxpayers of the United Kingdom?  Who has to light all those candles and arrange all those flowers? Alas, our budget is one we are managing on our own.

I see how the excitement is building.  People seem to be fascinated by the glamorous and the lovely; or maybe everyone just loves a good, hetero romantic storyline.  I’m old enough to remember getting up at the crack of dawn as a teenager to watch Lady Di marry Prince Chuck and wondering if she had to wear that big poofy dress ALL day?  A generation later and some things have changed while others have not.  We all still believe in romance despite the divorce of a princess (along with the divorces of more than half the people we all know personally.)  I cannot help but get caught up in it a bit myself, after all marriages are about hope and commitment; most of us have the best of intentions when we walk down the aisle (or across the yard as my son and I joke) and say ‘I will.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Trying to Think Summer Wedding during a Late Spring Snow Storm

Yesterday, I finished sewing my wedding dress; today The Knot tells me we have 170 days left until the wedding; and this morning, the world outside the windows looks like a Winter Wonderland. Snow, yes, snow covering budding tree branches and newly sprouted radish seeds; snow that is still coming down in fat, gorgeous flakes. It is hard to imagine our yard and garden full of flowers and flip-flops when it is currently blanketed in the cold, white stuff!

Now, don’t get me wrong—it really is beautiful out there and we are fortunate enough to be snuggled inside a toasty, warm house. We are additionally fortunate in that Teri was already off work today and that I was able to easily reschedule a 9 am meeting with our health insurance rep at work for tomorrow. We don’t have to drive city buses or repair downed power lines; there is plenty of coffee, bacon and chocolate in the house, and I can actually get some of my work done sitting here wearing my new fuzzy red fleece robe and Saturday Market socks. But when it comes to the Summer wedding plans, it just doesn’t seem the time to be thinking about flowers, mosquito control and a buttercream frosting that can withstand the August heat!

As the snow comes down in soft, determined flakes and Teri sleeps in with our naughty cat Bad Toby snuggled at her feet (a special snow day treat for him, too), I have given myself permission to take a break from Summer thoughts and enjoy what will likely be our last snow day of the Winter.  They are actually rare here in the mild climate of the Willamette Valley floor.  I think instead of guest lists and craft projects (which, I ordinarily would strive to do on a day off from work), it will all about the cocoa, books, crock-pot stew, and spending an unexpected day at home with my Girl...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"That's the Way it's ALWAYS Been"

The past few days have been a reminder to me that change does NOT come easy. I tend to be someone who embraces change--especially when it comes to progress. Let's move forward! Shake things up! Embrace new perspectives! Why are all you old white people holding things back?!

Okay, I am generalizing here and, to be fair, I have to share that more of my life the past few days has been taken up with work stuff than with Wedding stuff. Teri too has been exhausted from all of the work she has been doing out in the cold, not-very-springlike weather. We have found ourselves getting a little snippy and crabby with each other simply because we are both pretty tired and tense. Our mantra is "it's temporary" and we remind ourselves that we will be onto something else in a few days.

I have been paying attention to what is going on in Wisconsin where old, rich, conservative white men want to dictate who gets what; in Egypt where the status quo is being overturned with revolution because progressive change couldn’t happen any other way, and in my own world where new, young, multicultural, and fresh ideas and perspectives are constantly being stopped and thwarted by the white privileged folk who assume that it is THEY who get to choose the agenda: "That's not the way we did it before!" and "We know how best for you to get the crumbs we want to give you!"

I am NOT young, and I AM white; in most areas of my life I walk around in a shroud of white privilege.  I cannot un-do that but I can be aware of it and I can step aside and let others speak for themselves.  While the minorities need allies, (and I am also talking about us LGBTQ folks here) we do not need those allies to speak for us and we do not need those supposed allies to decide the agenda, direction, or strategy for how to bring issues to the forefront.  There ARE other stories to be told, other voices to speak, other messages to share, and new ways of going about our living in the world.

While, of course, we can learn from our ancestors and there can be respect for what has come before, there is still room for progress--even if it is messy, scary and unpredictable.  As far as I am concerned (and I know there is a bit of the ranting, angry rebel in me) it is high time for the status quo to stop holding back inevitable change--whether it is in the boardroom, in our governments, our school districts, or in charities and nonprofits.  New voices, new scripts, new ways of relating, new leadership, and new mistakes--the old ones are constipating progress.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

DIY for the Non-crafty

So, as often happens in real life, we have a bit of a paradox. I really like the idea of doing things ourselves when it comes to this Wedding Planning Land. I groove on creativity, originality and craftiness BUT I am not really terribly crafty in an easy-flowing way. I have some skills but I have acquired what few I have through blood, sweat and tears. Teri has a bit more natural artistic talent but she is not so keen on the quaint crafts either. Changing a flat tire on a bicycle and adjusting the breaks? Yes. Baking a flaky-crusted apple pie? Absolutely. Knitting or crocheting a luxurious scarf? Well, if we have to, we can…maybe…

We get inspired and see cool things that we know shouldn’t be too hard to do or I see something in a book or magazine and think, well, of course, that should be easier and cheaper to make! The thinking about it and the doing it are quite different processes. I don’t really want to do any craft that is going to be overly sticky, require all sorts of tools and supplies, or take days and days of patience—that is so NOT where I shine. Fortunately, we have resources.
I got home from work the other night and found a box waiting on the front porch. When I unpacked it, I found, among other wedding treasures, a package of put-it-together-creatively paper lanterns. I thought they looked cool when I saw them in a catalog (the photo showed them put together, of course) and I thought how hard could it be to put together a bunch of tissue paper? Well, I don’t even understand the instructions. So I sent a picture text to the daughter Lucy with the statement: “Wedding craft in need of a crafter.” Fortunately she wrote back stating, “I’m a crafter!” And even more fortunately, she is!

So, instead of asking myself if I can do a craft or make it happen, I ask myself, “I wonder if Lucy would be willing to help with this?” When we decided we wanted to do some rubber stamp designs on our programs, it was Lucy who came over with her snazzy cookie tin of rubber stamping supplies. When we saw a photo of cool vintage wooden spool wire table number holders, it was Wendy who offered to make them for us. Whew! We CAN do some crafts, we WILL do some crafts, but I am not going to turn away good help from the truly creative crafters. I have decided that instead of referring to it as “DIY” (Do it Yourself), there should be another category for DIYWH --Do it Yourself with Help.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Tug between Public and Private

Having a wedding--even a rather small one--is inviting the world into the relationship. There has been a public element to our relationship (Teri's and mine) since the very beginning that is unique and new to both of us and this process of "tying the knot" has exaggerated the tension between personal and private, and the public and political.

Last weekend, I got a phone call from a state-wide organization asking if I would be willing to be a media spokesperson on call for their push toward marriage equality here in Oregon. Of course I would be and it wasn't facts and figures that they needed, but my personal story and the appeal of Teri and I as an ordinary couple. There was chat about this blog, my work in the local community, and other details. Meanwhile, Teri had a movie on "pause" and we both put our private time together on hold to address the public and political sphere.

Teri and I met within the context of a rather active local lesbian community.  She was involved in organizing events and I was involved in organizing and coordinating events and gatherings.  From the very beginning there was an element to our coming together that others seemed to think they had a connection to.  With five children between us and two entirely separate worlds of friends and family as well, we HAD to tend to how to involve and include them in our partnering too.  So, from the very beginning, we have been working to balance the private couple with the public couple.

Last night, I confessed that there are moments in this Wedding Planning Land when I fantasize that it is just Teri and I in the middle of the desert or on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean; I crave the private intimacy of only us two and the whispered words for what the commitment means to us.We decided that we may have to strive to get in a secret, private get-away prior to the big, public wedding to satisfy our need for both versions.

The truth is, we fully understand and embrace the public and the political; we have been willing to step into sharing and involving others and we both believe that change comes through the daily acts of ordinary people.  And we WANT to be able to share our union and our lives with family, friends, and the world at large; it is life-affirming and community-building at its most basic and genuine.  It is a celebration, a party, AND a public ceremony and political action.  Some days, that can seem like a great deal resting on two middle-age gals in love.

Teri and I have talked about how those who came before us have made it possible for she and I to move in the space we do, and it is our privilege to do what we can to contribute to making it even better for those who come after us. The day will come when a wedding will be a wedding and a marriage will be a marriage regardless of the race, gender, or religious affiliation of the two people and two gals like Teri and I will be as common place as cars.  For now, however, our relationship is a bit like hybrid cars and there is still a bit of novelty, interest and insecurity about the whole endeavor.

We know that everyone who holds a wedding ceremony and celebration, regardless of their relationship structure is inviting the world into their private, domestic scene--and I imagine that many engaged couples wrestle with this tug between what is private...and what is available for public consumption...

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I LOVE my tattoos and I am quite certain I will acquire more as my life progresses and the universe allows. That said, as I am finishing work on my dress and I tried it on the other day, I realized that two of my tattoos are going to be on display when I marry Teri. Make that three, if you count my fabulous vine of daisies and ladybugs that rings my right wrist. When I mentioned it to Teri, she mused that several of her tattoos would be artistically gleaming in the August sun too, depending on what she finally decides to wear. And THEN, we thought of our wedding party and realized that my Best Gal, Wendy, has some gorgeous and visible tattoo work, and the eldest daughter, Ashley, has tattoos…and Teri’s dad and my mother…(I hope I am not outing anyone who wants to keep his or her tattoos a secret!)

The thing is, mainstream media still portrays “brides” as pristine young representatives of the upper-middle class. Where are the tattoos and piercings?! (Teri has a sassy little nose piercing too.) The assumption, of course, is that only dreadlocked earth muffins and battered old rock-and-rollers have body art, but what about us ordinary gals who have accumulated some pretty amazing and beautiful pieces over the courses of our lives?

I discovered accidentally that a few places actually sell make-up kits to help cover tattoos for weddings and special events.  Seriously?  No thank you.  First of all, I got my first tattoo on my 30th birthday and it represents so much to me: my growing awareness of myself, finally growing up and stepping into my own life, a new beginning.  Like many people who love tattoos, they are woven into my life's journey.  I have one that I share with my friend, Wendy; I have one that reminds me of my first heterosexual marriage; the one in the photo I had done on Valentine's Day of 2010 and the juicy, plump heart-shaped ladybug represents abundant and playful love to me.  In fact, I just may get one more PRIOR to the wedding to commemorate what is a magnificent and major progression in my life.

Teri loves her tattoos too and we found out as we were getting to know each other that we share a favorite local tattoo artist: two of my pieces and several of hers have been done by the brilliant Katherine at Tattoos by Design here in Eugene.  When I do go in for my Wedding tattoo, it will be to Katherine to see what she can work up (I have recommended her to countless people--most recently to a coworker who is quite happy with his first tattoo at the age of...over 50.)  I know, of course, that every tattoo-lover has a favorite artist, style, etc. which, of course, is part of the fun of the addiction.

As Teri reminded me when we were talking about the inevitable tattoo baring, she is marrying me and all of me--not some idealized, media-inspired version of who I ought to be.  And our wedding day is about celebrating who we are and who we are evolving into (both before we met and now, together)--so bring on the tattoos and all the other unique and individual realities that make up who we are--we are ready for the world to know...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring Cleaning?

There is nothing like a flurry of big, fat, wet snowflakes to make a gal feel like Spring cleaning...

Actually, we are ignoring the weather as best we can and while I am mentally-prepared for Spring to come waltzing around the corner, I am not entirely convinced the house is.  The anticipation of a big shindig in our house and garden has me in a state of scrutiny.  This just will not do!

We have ordered slipcovers for our dog-trampled furniture and it should be arriving any day.  This is exciting.  There is nothing like a muddy-pawed beagle to take furniture that is a few years old and still architecturally sound and make it look like the back seat of an abandoned car. Alas, I cannot imagine putting brand new slipcovers on dirty furniture so yesterday I began peeling off all the cushion covers and pillows and washing them.

Just like one of my kids' favorite books "If You Give a Moose a Muffin," one Spring cleaning task leads to another.  If I'm going to clean the furniture then I surely should clean the rugs?  And if I'm going to clean the rugs then a good scrubbing with Murphy's Oil Soap seems in order for the wood floors.  And if I do the wood floors then what about scrubbing the grout lines on the kitchen tile?  And while I am down here on the kitchen floor, I can see that these white wood cabinets could really use a fresh coat of paint.  You know how it goes...

Meanwhile, Teri has been Spring cleaning the bathroom--as the sun streams in and we can truly see the inside of our charming and decades-old claw-foot tub, we are slightly horrified that we have been taking luxurious soaks.  She is also determined to wipe down all the walls and ceiling in there (a task I probably would NEVER take on) and has been a dedicated trouper in fighting the ever-present Pacific Northwestern "battle of the mildew."

With the pending wedding and inevitable visits, we have kicked our ordinary neat freakiness into overdrive. Don't get me wrong, we LOVE our little house and are basically happy with the arched doorways, thick wood molding, and 1930's bungalow style.  We don't feel compelled to rush out and buy new furniture or completely overhaul anything, we just want to pep things up and remove some of the bags and wrinkles (the fact that we feel the same way about ourselves is fodder for another blog post!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The First of Many Packages

The invitations have arrived!  Actually, yesterday was a 2-package day and there are more on the way.  While Teri and I are trying to make local purchases for the wedding that support local businesses and we do want to decrease the reliance on gas and shipping, there is also the time crunch of two busy women.  The truth is, we don't have a bunch of time to go from store to store and meet with vendors and suppliers.  So, I confess, we are ordering some things and having them delivered--convenient and affordable--if not always the greenest choice.

I'm sure you can sense my ambivalence--guilt over making long-distance purchases, but excitement at coming home from work and finding boxes waiting to be opened.  I promise we will try to balance things out with the purchase of local food and go local in other areas.  Meanwhile, the invitations have arrived!  They are sweeter than we expected and no typos or mistakes that we can find (always a concern, waiting and wondering what the first big blunders will be.)  If it is any consolation, they were also packed simply without any additional packaging so that is a good thing, right?

Once we work up the courage, we can begin the addressing and assembling which will be a bit of a task.  There are stamps to put on reply card envelopes (as well as the outside ones), labels to affix, and calligraphy to be done--I have been practicing with my new calligraphy pens that Teri gave me as a birthday gift. Then, the entire "ensemble" as I've been told they are called will get tucked away in the hopefully lovely envelopes.  It will take time and fortunately we have plenty.

As the boxes arrive and other things are purchased, there is a portion of the utility room that has been designated as wedding storage.  Boxes of wine glasses, card stock, tablecloths and other items are piling up.  You would think at this age we would be a little jaded, but I confess, with 176 days left to go (according to "The Knot"), it is exciting to see the stack grow. Who would have thought it would be such an adventure to plan our celebration?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Two Women, Five Jobs and a Wedding

Life seems to be all about the juggling right now.  Teri and I are perfect poster children for the realities of our economy in that we both piece together our work in rather creative and increasingly-exhausting ways.  Teri works as a youth counselor for a nonprofit organization (mostly swing shifts) and has returned to her seasonal job at a plant nursery.  I work as co-director of a precarious local nonprofit, and have been working in marketing for another local business while trying to maintain my freelance writing work.  Whew!  Yes, WHEW!

Teri seems to be having an easier time of staying focused since she goes to one job per day and gets to stay put and stay engrossed in the challenges of whichever job she is in.  I, on the other hand, don't have the same sort of structure to my work so I am often going from one to the other in the course of a day, having to answer emails and phone calls from one while at another and then trying to squeeze in writing at 5 am or 10 at night.  Life--it is what it is!

In the midst of all the work juggles and jiggles, we are still determined to enjoy our lives and enjoy each other. We also manage to squeeze in snippets of wedding planning here and there (between snuggles and pizza and episodes of Glee and The Tudors.)  Sometimes, it is all about making the best of things and reminding ourselves that everything in life is temporary.  If there is one thing we have learned in reaching this ripe age, it is that everything is temporary--it could all change again completely tomorrow!

So the laundry is going undone and we tend to compare our days while walking the dog together at whatever time we get home. We feel grateful to some degree to have work (although I am not on board with the expectation that the working poor should muster appreciation for economic injustices while the wealthy keep getting richer) and are holding on to hope that things will change again and we can settle into a more manageable groove. We remind ourselves that the wedding isn't going to pay for itself and having positive cash flow means we have some options.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Great-Grandmother's Lace

I have been working on my dress.  Those of you who are following our adventures know that I have created quite a bit of fuss and drama around the dress—most of it in my own mind. As Teri pointed out a few days ago, I may think I’ve only spent a relatively small amount on the dress so far, but when factoring in how many hours of stress and bother (and multiplying it by how much I normally get paid an hour), it is already a $600 dress!

Anyway, as often happens in struggles, I am starting to fall in love with my evolving dress.  It really is shaping into exactly what I want and there is something else that is happening as part of the process—a sort of meditation and prayer as I stitch and fold and shape and iron; I feel connected to something much bigger than me.

As I was hand stitching the inside of the collar (a collar I decided to modify from the original vintage pattern, by the way), I remembered a tattered box stuffed with lace pieces that I have tucked away in what Teri and I call “the blue room” (it is our second bedroom and the walls are blue; it tends to be an all-purpose room for reading, computing, drawing, etc.) The box is full of tatted lace that my Great Grandmother made.  My mom gave me this box a few year’s ago and we have been using the gorgeous and surprisingly sturdy (some are starched, but all are made from cotton thread) little medallions and stretches of dainty lace on our Christmas trees.  I decided that I wanted just a little of that aged ivory lace on my wedding dress.

I am not really a lace person (hello!  Lesbian!) but there was something pulling and tugging me to include a little bit of something “old” on my evolving dress. I am quite certain when my Great Grandmother was creating these little morsels of cotton loops, she was not imagining that they would some day adorn the dress of a granddaughter for her lesbian wedding (but what if she was?)  I have inherited many things from the women who came before me—everything from my bone structure and the shape of my hands, to the resilience and independence that I’ve tried to pass on to my own children.  The six scalloped rounds of sixty-year-old hand-tatted lace remind me that these sturdy inherited hands have the ability to create something beautiful and lasting, and I’d like to remember that on my wedding day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Green as in Garden AND Grand

I have had a heck of a time describing our “theme” and the overall ideas that Teri and I have for our big day. Unlike many, we didn’t really have any definite visions in the beginning—it has evolved through many conversations, investigations and trying things out and on and seeing what seemed to fit. Last year, we visited a Bed and Breakfast in Scappoose, Oregon; made trips to the coast; considered renting a turn-of-the-century historic home, and investigated different public gardens. We have had others offer up suggestions, brochures and websites. It wasn’t until just before Christmas that we started to make decisions and the celebration started to take shape.

The other day, I stumbled across a book in Barnes and Noble called The Natural Wedding and flipping through the pages, I realized this was the closest I’d seen to the plans and ideas that Teri and I have. We are interested in making sure that our day is a reflection of us and our life. Some of the photos in the book gave a visual to things she and I had only sketched out on paper, but we also have plenty of ideas that might not be in anyone’s book.

As two women focused on reducing our carbon footprint, we eat out of our garden year-round, walk, bicycle or use public transportation whenever possible, try to eat organically and make purchases with sustainability in mind, and look for used, borrowed, or recycled before considering new. It makes sense that our wedding ceremony and celebration would evolve to reflect those life choices.

Our wedding is going to take place in our garden space, decorated with flowers we’ve grown, with tables draped in vintage linens and covered with a collection of garden-y dishes. We are “catering” the party ourselves (I think we are most excited about all the cooking and baking) and looking for ways to maximize charm and personality while minimizing the consumerism. It feels right for us. We are letting ourselves be inspired by what is in season, what is local, and all the resources we already have in our lives. Alas, this does not necessarily mean cheap or inexpensive, but it definitely feels personal!

We have been having fun with the book and with other inspirational resources—contemplating all the ways we can shape the celebration to fit who we are at this stage in our lives. We really aren’t satin and steak kind of gals, but we have developed some definite ideas about comfort, good food, sustainable living and how to live well with minimal impact. We aren’t exactly carving our invitations out on cedar bark and sealing the envelopes with moss, but our day will be more “natural” than not.

I happened upon a blog by the author of The Natural Wedding--she is from UK and has some great stuff on her blog too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Can We Still Find Moments of Gooey?

Ah, that feeling of falling in love—all excitement and obsession and what I like to call “gooey feelings.” It is as if there are no words and no one else has ever fallen in love before! Now some of you pragmatists can argue about endorphins and hormones and such scientific explanations, but as a lover of fine food, I think of it like fresh, home-baked chocolate chip cookies—all gooey and warm and fragrant from the oven.

I was single and unattached for several years as a grown-up and I was not all together convinced that there was a “true love” out there waiting. I visited, I met people and I dated, but I didn’t feel any sense of urgency about it. The only thing I knew for sure was that if I ever partnered with someone again, I wanted the WHOLE PACKAGE; something I had never had before. While I’m old and seasoned enough to know that gooey stage doesn’t last, I still wanted it! I wanted to fall in love and move through all the stages, with the full intent that it would likely be my last such attempt.

I know, it sounds terribly dramatic and maybe even a little romantic. This seems funny to me because I really don’t think of myself as a romantic at all; I don’t do very well with all the flowers-candy-jewelry stuff and tend to be more of a talk-things-to-death kind of gal. I think it was more greed—I wanted the REAL THING and darn it, I wanted gooey for a while before real life jerked me back to reality.

Teri and I often joke about how “the honeymoon is over” even though we have not technically had a honeymoon yet. It is usually when we are battling how best to load the dishwasher or arguing over who gets to walk the dog. We DID have that marvelous, gooey, falling-in-love period where we sort of lived in a bubble of yummy teenage hormones (although I would argue that perimenopausal woman hormones can beat out teenage hormones ANY day!) But, of course, life took over and eventually we had to go back to work, back to family obligations, and just get back into the groove of every day living. According to Teri, THAT is where real love begins.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to say that, for me, there are still overwhelming moments of gooey. They tend to creep up on me when we are both staring into the refrigerator trying to figure out what to make for supper or snuggled up watching an episode of Big Love on DVD. I still have moments when I can’t find the words to describe how I feel or what she means to me or when I am so amazed that we are sharing a life together, there is nothing I can do but let the gratitude overtake me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Collaborative "Home" Making

While Teri and I sometimes joke about how we can't possibly be the only two women to ever get married, we actually have friends who are also getting married this year. It is absolutely wonderful to be able to commiserate, compare and contrast with two other women our age who are in a similar place with their relationship (although they are having their ceremony in June so they have a 2-month jump-start on us!) Over dinner last night, the four of us had the chance to talk about the process of moving in together and making a joint home after years of independence. Teri and I have a tendency to be quite honest with people who ask us about our moving in together: it was incredibly hard!

Our friends have not yet moved in together, but they are just beginning the process.  Teri and I have reached a comfortable, settled place in our co-habitation but the trials, stresses, tears and struggles of our coming together are still fresh enough in our collective memory to make them easy to dredge up.

When Teri and I decided to look for a home together, LIFE was in a particularly heavy, transitional place anyway.  My dad had just died suddenly and the last of my children were moving out.  I was ready to downsize from three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two stories, but in such a tumultuous state of grief that every change seemed to accentuate the feeling of loss.  We found the little bungalow on Willow and knew immediately it was perfect for us--but that was the easiest joint decision we made in the entire moving-in process!

Looking back and sharing our story, we were able to laugh at power struggles over which art went on the walls and how reactionary we both felt over everything from tablecloths to salt and pepper shakers.  There were some choices we made during that process, however, that we are incredibly happy we made:  As two cooks attempting to share a kitchen, we decided that we would not attempt to purge and sort when we first set-up the joint space--it was just too emotional.  Instead, we put all our combined dishes, pots and measuring cups into the kitchen and tabled the sorting process for months.  It was about 8 months into living together that we were able to calmly sift and downsize AFTER we'd gotten used to sharing the space and supplies.  As bakers, we still each have our own favorite rolling pins and measuring spoons, but there has been much more overlap. Now we are making joint purchases and confidently comfortable that we can share things!

Any adult who has been through a divorce or break-up knows that it can be so challenging to even consider the sharing, compromise and collaboration that comes with partnering again.  We start to think of ourselves in some concrete ways when we are single--even if we are raising kids.  We learn our preferences and get used to making choices and decisions based on what feels good and works best for us.  Genuine partnering means figuring out where our true boundaries and needs are and what has simply become habit. 

For Teri and I, we took it slow--we tried to pay attention to where our resistances were and to back off and reconsider when things got too painful. What I remember clearly is that we both kept reminding ourselves that we WANTED to get through it together.  We were determined that our first home would be OUR home and not all Kori or all Teri--we plodded through the painful process in order to create a truly combined, shared haven that is our home together.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose…but What about a Marriage?

Words matter. Finding a common language and an understanding around words is key to good communication. For Teri and I, there has been some negotiating and wrestling with the words associated with our declared commitment with each other and I realize that much of it comes from external forces. Some of it, of course, is from our own history and baggage, but most of it is due to living in the world as we do.

When I first proposed, Teri could not bring herself to call our planned ceremony a wedding. No matter how many years have passed since her upbringing in a strict Catholic household, it was tough for her to feel as though we were entitled to use that word. What would her family and others who we assumed believe in the one man + one woman model say? I, on the other hand, was stubborn: “I’m calling it a wedding and a marriage because that is exactly what it is.” BUT, in my sensitivity to the turmoil she was feeling, I wanted to acknowledge and respect the word choice she needed to use.

It wasn’t long until one of our kids asked us what we were going to call each other after we had the ceremony—would we be spouses? Partners? Sheesh! While living on the edge of progressive social transition can be exhilarating, it can also be frustrating. We don’t want to simply appropriate old hetero words, but we don’t want to downplay what this all means to us either! Yesterday, a status post on Facebook by Equally Wed asked that very question: “When you tie the knot, how do/did you want the officiate to pronounce you? Husband and husband? Wife and wife? Devoted partners?”

Having previously been “wives” in the traditionally-accepted sense of the word, neither one of us ever wants to wear that moniker again. A few of the posters on the FB page called out for the need for a new term; one that wasn’t drenched in heterosexism. Marriage, wedding, union, ceremony, husband, wife—these words have meaning; some of which is socially assumed and some of which can be attributed to personal baggage.

For Teri and me, we slip in and out of using different words and we have been trying to have a sense of humor as we explore what they mean for us. Neither one of us takes what we are doing lightly, and yet we are still trying to have some fun with the process. We are partners, yes, but that does sound a bit dry and business-like—Spouse? Spice? Mouse? Mice? Is it a wedding or a ceremony where we will share our union? See? The lack of legal definition and accepted normalizing makes it difficult to find the language to communicate (I imagine that is a big part of why the rights of marriage equality are being withheld.) I am totally on board with whomever said that “domestic partners” makes it sound like we do housework together (which we do, but only when the dust, dog hair, and cat fur necessitate.)

Teri now calls it a wedding and I sometimes refer to it as our ceremony. Neither one of us really uses the word marriage, instead we tend to refer to ourselves as a team—which seems sort-of perfect for two girly-tom-boyish and femme-sporty lesbians. Labels, labels, labels—the language is in flux and we are very much a part of the transition of modern marriage. I do want more ease and comfort with it; I would love it if our kids and my grandmother all new exactly what to refer to us as without looking quizzically and waiting for us to give them the “proper” terminology. When Teri and I get frustrated at the inadequate language, she usually launches into a rousing version of a song from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers—belting out: “You’re the gal for me!”

Friday, February 11, 2011

Check! (As in “check list” and accounts payable)

Today I am asking myself why two reasonable, frugal and fiscally conservative women would embark on an adventure of expense? Having thrown a hundred parties in my life (at least), I KNOW they are a challenge of details and supplies and, yes, expense—and yet, this may just be the biggest and most emotionally weighted party of my life and I have plodded in happily and without reserve. Still, there are the lists…

There was a Facebook post on Thursday from Equally Wed asking people “what was the cost that surprised you the most?” in regard to wedding planning. It was quite timely for me because while I have been planning events for years and I’m not exactly surprised by the expenses, it is interesting to me that when I proposed to Teri, I had NO THOUGHT about having a wedding. Honestly, it didn’t even dawn on me that she might want one and I figured we would fill out all the domestic partnership registration papers, I would change my Will, Advanced Directive and other legal papers and off we’d go. When I sheepishly asked if she wanted to have a ceremony and she answered with a definitive “Yes” it was months before the reality of what that might mean sunk in.

So, here we are, 184 days from a ceremony and, so far, on schedule and on budget. As someone who creates and monitors budgets for a living as a manager of nonprofit organizations, I can assure you that there is a bit of an edge when every cent has to be earned by the individuals who are spending it. Our wedding “expense” spreadsheet does NOT have a revenue column!

I had lunch with my daughter, Lilly, yesterday and when we briefly chatted about the wedding, I said something about being mentally unprepared for the expense. The wise twenty-year-old uttered a “Duh, it’s a wedding; what did you expect?” I wanted to tell her that I didn’t expect anything because I really hadn’t let myself imagine ever getting married again because 1. I was a big queer-mo and 2. I thought I was too old and bitter for such falderal. Instead, I let her be right because I have learned that works well when communicating with young twenty-somethings.

So items are being ordered and checks are being written (well, to be honest, it is almost always about the debit card these days): paper lanterns, printed invitations, ribbons, tulle (that net-like fabric synonymous with wedding), candy, plants, flowers and seeds for the garden, wine glasses, napkins, twinkle lights, candles, thank you cards, card stock, ink pads, table linens, stamps, antique/vintage dishes, cake stands…

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What’s Different with Two Brides?

Women who love women are Lesbians. Men, because they can only think of women in sexual terms, define Lesbian as sex between women. –Rita Mae Brown

No, I’m not writing about sex. At least, not today. Instead, I’ve been asked by a few non-gays if it is different planning and plotting a wedding when there are two brides in the planning seat? The answer, in a nutshell, is yes. I do not remember who originally said that “the sex is the same, it is everything else that is different” about living and loving in a same-sex relationship, but I come back to that truism again and again. The way Teri and I relate as two women is one of my most favorite parts of the gift of living my life as I do.

Two brides does NOT mean two people constantly focused on the exact same things. It doesn’t mean two women pouring over bridal magazines or mooning about cake flavors and ribbon colors. What is different is that there are no guaranteed gender differences or divisions of labor due to assumed gender roles. We are not carbon-copies of each other and yet, we have some socialized similarities. In general, we “speak the same language” and I find we communicate pretty well about most of the planning—although not always: I have gone back and forth in my mind about whether I wanted a traditional tiered wedding cake or whether I wanted to have several separate cakes similarly decorated. We talked about it and Teri and I finally decided we liked the idea of separate cakes. But then, I changed my mind back and forth again and mentioned it in passing to her “I don’t know if 3 or 4 tiers would be best?”

With humor, Teri poked, “What happened to separate cakes? I have been imagining clearly these separate cakes on separate stands? Thanks for telling me so I could adjust my thinking…” Crap. I changed my mind again. I DID like the idea of separate cakes and chatting with her reminded me why. Communication…duh.

With two brides, we have to adjust some of the traditional assumptions. We don’t have “groomsmen” really, we have bridesmen; we have “best gals” instead of matrons or maids of honor; and we have given ourselves permission to get creative with what we keep from a traditional wedding and what we don’t.

It really is much like the rest of our lives and the structure of our relationship—we do not pattern our relationship after heterosexual ones that we have known and yet we cannot help but be influenced by that perceived norm. We have to work to avoid some of the trappings of same-sex couples—many of which come from being marginalized and treated as unequal citizens, and some that come from a lack of support and solid role models within our community. We have learned how to pay attention to personality differences, cultural differences and gender similarities, and how they all tangle up together in how we communicate with each other.

As my daughter Lucy once said about her configuration and version of family “It is more of everything good about families,” that is how I feel about planning a wedding with two brides—for me, it is MORE of what is wonderful and delightful about a wedding…

Saying "Yes" to Help

Historically, I have been known to be annoyingly stoic. I credit my years as a single parent working multiple jobs for creating this monster of independence. Although, if you ask my mother, she will tell you that as the eldest of three, I have ALWAYS been fiercely independent and determined to take on the world.

Maybe a gal just gets tired after nearly five decades of such stoicism, or maybe learning to partner with Teri at this stage in life has been impetus for my starting to let go and let others step in and help out. I am finding myself incredibly grateful and inspired by all of the people who are offering to help out as we plan our big day. We are lucky and there are times when I have to remind myself to simply get out of the way and let others pitch in.

One of the early tasks of our coming together, was for me to learn to share my life with Teri: share a kitchen (that seemed to be where many of our power struggles played out since we are both cooks), share families, friends, tasks, etc. Fortunately when I slipped into a case of the "My Do It!" syndrome (when my daughter, Lilly, was a toddler, one her first full sentences was: "My do it!" and she meant it with such force; she was ready to be captain of her own destiny), Teri was equally stubborn in her insistence that we were a team. Instead of letting me take on everything and do it my way, she nudged and insisted that we figure out how to do things together AND that we learn how to ask for and accept help.

I am still learning, of course. Decades of stoic habits do not die an easy death, but I am finding that Wedding Planning Land is another grand learning opportunity for letting others help. Teri and I are part of an incredible community here in Eugene made up of family, friends, coworkers, and cohorts. We met at a Saturday morning coffee group coordinated by our friend, Julia, and many of our joint friends have come from the wonderful lesbian community here. As community activists and volunteers, we both have friends and acquaintances we have made working on issues we are passionate about and we both manage to make friends at just about any work endeavor we do. Between the gals on Teri's bowling team, our old and new friends, and all the family (both intended and inherited), we feel so supported and encouraged!

As those people offer to help, I am starting to learn how to say "Yes!" We are finally old and sensible enough to know that we are not going to be able to put up all those twinkle lights and paper lanterns all by ourselves (or at least, we'd get exhausted and crabby if we try.) And with the saying "Yes" I feel a warm sense of gratitude that we are building a life so full of people who are willing and able to entwine their lives with ours.

The photo is of some of our kids, Teri and our dog, Lola wearing the aprons I made everyone for Christmas this year--11 aprons in all went out into the world!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

For the Love of a Good Spreadsheet

When Teri and I were first getting to know each other, I confessed how much I LOVE spreadsheets. For a writer and word person, I cannot explain why I like me some Excel but I do--all those columns and rows, tidied and tallied!

One of the first things I created when we let ourselves slip into Wedding Planning Land was a spreadsheet. And then, since one wasn't enough, I had to create a couple more. Actually, the main one is our guest list and it took us a few months to settle on who and how many were going to go into that "mistress spread sheet" (as opposed to "master.") As we collected addresses, partner's names, and figured out not only how many people we could comfortably entertain, but considered all the implications of who is in the spreadsheet and who isn't, I came to feel very comforted by the ease and function of the computer spreadsheet file. Teri, on the other hand, is not so nearly enamoured.

For me, the great thing about a spreadsheet is that it is fluid. It makes sense of change and imperfections. We can put in names, correct misspellings, delete, add, and shift things around--without creating chaos of paper or making a big mess of our organization. With almost exactly 6 months to go before our wedding day, there are so many things that are still in flux and the spreadsheet helps me feel like we have some sort of a handle on all that unpredictability.

There are still so many decisions to be made and choices to choose and a decent little spreadsheet is my crutch for making sense of the evolving process. Plus, to be honest, it gives me the allusion of feeling sassy and in control and right now, I need a little bit of that!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Self-Imposed Dress Drama

One of the inevitable choices of the wedding ceremony is "What to wear?" I imagine that while Teri and I are dealing with some unique challenges, they have more to do with our age than our lesbian-ness. Let's face it, not only is the wedding industry totally geared toward straight-os, it is also a young girl's game. We are neither, of course, and while there is something very liberating about that, there are also some challenges!

When we had the initial conversation, Teri was very clear that she wanted to wear a dress--an an ivory-hued one at that. Okay, I said, "I'll wear a dress too! We'll both wear ivory-colored dresses of our choosing." That part was the easy part. Equally easy was the decision for what all of our best folk would wear: for the gals--gem-tone dresses of their choosing (summery, not-shiny, cocktail to tea-length and each one chose a different jewel-color) and for the groomsmen: summery khaki trousers with an oxford or cotton shirt of their color choosing and possibly a jewel-tone, solid-color tie. We told everyone to think "summer garden party!" But no one told us to think "middle-age, lesbian, outdoor garden wedding..."

My imagination dreamt up the dress I want to wear and then the drama came when I tried to figure out how to turn my dream dress into reality. Needless to say, I have spent a year fussing about it. After searching high and low, I finally decided that I would sew it myself. While I DO have the sewing skills, I do NOT love to sew, which means I am feeling some trepidation over the process (and I've been pretty darn vocal about it, which has caused several people to ask me why, on earth, am I going to do it? "Why don't you hire a seamstress?" Seriously? No way, this has become my determined quest!")

Yesterday, on my birthday-day-off, I finally sorted all the pattern pieces, pinned them to the fabric, and cut out all the puzzle pieces that I hope will become my dream dress. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe and only caught myself holding my breath in tightly-clenched jaw about twelve times throughout the process. It is a vintage pattern, so there are LOTS of pieces and plenty of fabric (that's how those luscious skirts had such a fine drape)--there will be complicated pleats, and a fitted bodice; there will be collars and lining and plenty of other tortuous tasks to keep my self-imposed dress drama alive.

The truth is, it has all been my choice; I made up the challenges and I am holding on to the intention that, in the end, it will all be worth it. Not to mention, I may learn to relax and embrace the challenge in the process. Hmmm...another marriage metaphor maybe?