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

It just keeps getting better...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Uninvited Wedding Guests: Spiders

The weather has finally dried out here our part of the Pacific Northwest.  We are having to water the garden almost daily and keeping up with deadheading flowers, trimming trees and general Summer gardening tasks is consuming us.  At least, I keep telling myself, until mid-August and then it can do whatever it wants!

Every morning, as I walk out to water the garden, I walk through a gauntlet of spider webs and industrious spiders.  I don't remember having to battle spiders on this big scale last Summer but then again, I wasn't quite as hyper-sensitive as I am this year.

They are sweet little spiders, working hard to build their webs between shrubbery, flower stalks, tree trunks and patio chairs--just trying to do their Summer spider thing and start a family.  Teri and I keep moving them out of the way, off into the bamboo hedge or on the edges of the garden and we keep finding them across paths or dangling from our ceiling fans indoors.  Sheesh.  Come on, Spiders, work with us!

Teri has decided that we need to add "sweeping the webs" to the task list for the day before and the day of the Wedding.  Some brave soul or two will need to do a sweep through the yard and garden and then we'll have to run out there and get married before they re-build. 

Don't get me wrong, I am a spider fan--I love having them all around the garden to eat the pests and am normally patient with peeling the broken webs off my face.  Teri and I delighted in watching a bunch of babies hatch last year on our deck and grow until they spun off amazingly long webs and launched themselves into the world. These aren't the sort of spiders who bite or grow enormously huge--they just want to be sweet little industrious garden spiders in our happy organic garden.  But we are about to have 75 people wandering around our garden eating cake and the last thing they need is spiders peeking out at them.  So, sorry spiders, but you are going to have hide out for a day or two or build those impressive webs on the edges of the garden for a couple weeks--after that, you can have the entire yard to yourselves!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Who is the Girl and Who is the Bride?

The other day a friend of ours (you know who you are) called Teri and I an enigma. We were humorously talking about our shared fluidity in terms of how we operate in the world and in our relationship.  We don't identify ourselves in any sort of rigid gender way and we don't have clearly defined imitations of gender stereotypes that we subscribe to. People have asked us to define ourselves before--both people within the Queer community (gay, lesbian, transgendered, etc.) and those without--or they have assigned designations for us. Like many people both straight and gay, it doesn't work and it doesn't fit and we don't really want to play anyway.

A couple years ago, I was part of a panel presentation in front of a group of young adults and someone asked me which of us (my partner or I) was the "woman" in our relationship?  I answered that we both identify as women and guided the person in clarifying whether they wanted to know about sex roles or jobs, skills and tasks that they had gendered? It was mostly the latter.  Most of us are raised in such a gender-segregated and gender-defined world!  I remember from kindergarten on, having the school day keenly separated by "girls" groups and activities and "boys" groups and activities.  Stereotypes and generalizations are made CONSTANTLY and the majority of all that stuff is created or made-up.  It has absolutely nothing to do with genetics or sex identity.  Sorry, but it doesn't.

People wonder what a household with two women or two men could possibly be like?  How does everything get done?  How do you know who gets to be the "king of the castle?" Who makes decisions, controls the money, does the crappy jobs? Who? How? and my answer is Why does it have to be so boggling?  Why does every castle have to have a king? 

Teri and I have a drawer in a bathroom where all the nail polish lives.  We also both have our own well-stocked toolboxes (and while we know how to do a lot, we also know how to read up or google something we don't or know how to call a professional when the need arises.)  I know het men who don't use tools and het women who don't own a single bottle of nail polish.  My son played with dolls, my daughters had Legos-it didn't make any of them gay (at least not yet)--let it go, loosen up, think beyond the stereotypes!

Some people are "butcher" than others and this goes for men, women, hets and gay people.  Some days I am "butcher" than other days and the fact that I can acknowledge what is inherently me and what is behavior and created means I can move beyond the rigidity of stereotypes.  Some days I have to do the crappy jobs and it's not because I'm a woman, it's because it's my turn.

As many of you know, Teri and I are both wearing dresses for our ceremony and it was by personal choice.  I think of myself as a bride and a spouse and she does too.  We don't have to try to imitate some gendered ideal just to make it easier for people to wrap their heads around.  I am an idealist and an optimist and I think people can free themselves up beyond nail polish and checkbooks and "who wears the pants"-- after all, by now, none of this is terribly revolutionary.

I often think of a favorite recording of my kids when they were younger: "Free to Be You and Me"--it was actually from MY generation and my sister gave the kids a copy when they were preschoolers.  They listened to it constantly and they still reference many of the songs and skits including one with two babies trying to figure out whether they are a girl or a boy. We can get beyond this and I'm here to tell you that it makes room for focusing and concentrating on stuff that isn't made up.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Home Hunting

Along with all the Wedding planning stuff, Teri and I are searching for our next home.  Our time in the "practice house" as we called it when we found it and took the stressful leap of faith to co-habitate together has gone past it's comfortable tenure and now we are in the market for a place we can settle into for the long haul.  The search is not without it's own stresses and challenges and, to be honest, if it weren't for some forces and folks beyond our control, we might have postponed the hunt a little longer.  But, alas, the time has definitely come!

We have had the grown-up conversations--buy? rent? lease? apartment? house? townhouse? what part of town? how many bedrooms? how much yard?We are selective, taking our time and processing some of our feelings around the move.  We each have different strengths when it comes to picking through the details and moving--even though we have both moved more than two dozen times in our adult lives.  We don't mind moving, but we have different approaches, skill sets and strengths.  We are both looking forward to getting settled in a new place; the possibilities and the unknowns--as Teri has said, she'd like to just fast-forward to the first of September and have all the parties and boxes and moving over with!

I can say that this house and home hunt feels completely different from our last one!  We know each other so much better and we have established our shared values around what is important and what is not.  We are Out and legal as a couple, our finances are commingled, we have shared in all the lessons of the practice house and we have some pretty clear ideas of what we want in our next incarnation. So, as we peruse neighborhoods and squeeze in phone calls and showings around all the other 2-week Wedding stuff we're doing, and we start to pack away unnecessary items in labeled boxes, there is a soup pot of emotions: excitement, anticipation, resentment, frustration, anger, fear, exhaustion, humor, skepticism, annoyance, gratitude, confidence, concern, hopefulness.  We divide up tasks and try to pay attention to both what needs to get done and how each of us works best.  And then, we get to take turns having the overwhelmed melt-downs that seem to be inevitable!

We are looking forward to kicking off our married life in a new place and shedding off some of the "old challenges" for the inevitable new ones.  Mostly, though, we are just trying to stay present in the process and keep focused on the temporariness of this period in our lives.  There is a whole new world on the other side of September!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Change of Plans!

I have done enough events to know that this is the time when the best laid plans...shift! That is the ironic roller-coaster ride of planning--the trick is to get good and organized in the time leading up to the big day so that one can adjust to all the inevitable changes. In the end, it sort of has a life of its own and it is going to be what it is going to be--so now is the time when things are a-changin'!

This morning, I was up quite early after a poor night's sleep and realized that our planned seating arrangement was really no longer adequate.  There have been the expected unexpected adjustments and now we need to rearrange the tables and the seat assignments to accommodate. Okay.  Looks good.  Teri did point out that she fully expects that it will change again a time or two in the next two weeks.

Second adjustment of the day--calling the rental supply folks and arranging for delivery.  We originally planned to do the pick-up and drop-off ourselves but what were we thinking?  While getting all the stuff back to the fabulous Parties to Go is not going to be a problem, it became readily apparent that having the tables, chairs and dishes delivered would make the whole preparation day before the wedding run much more smoothly.  Okay--change of plans!

The guest list is morphing (yet again), who is doing what is morphing (yet again) and right now it is really a matter of just staying in and on the roller coaster ride that is the final two weeks.  We can do this! Armed with a cell phone and a credit card and a list of good pals who've said they are available to help--there isn't anything we can't manage!  At least--that is the affirmation for today...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Where are We Now?

I'll bet some of you are wondering if we have imploded yet? Well, the answer is no, or at least not really; or even if we've imploded a little bit, we re-inflated and are managing to hold it together.  Maybe not with as much grace and panache as we'd have liked, but so be it.

As thousands of couples legally marry in New York state, Teri and I have 19 days to go until we have our ceremony which we are calling a Wedding--even if our state of Oregon is still clinging to the separate and not equal approach to civil rights.  So be it.  We certainly have all the stress, expense and challenges associated with a "traditional Wedding" but that is just how things stand.  A few months ago, I made a list of our Wedding Planning Land by the numbers as things stood then.  I thought I'd take a little time to give you all an update of where things stand the numbers:

Days to go until the ceremony and celebration: 19
Number of people who have not let us know in one way or another whether they will attend: 16
Number of solid-colored bridesmaid/best gal dresses acquired: 5
Number of invitations we mailed that were returned and needed to be re-addressed: 1
Number of invitations we re-addressed because of couple status changes: 3
Number of gifts we have already received: 3
Number of tables we will likely have for reception meal seating: 8 (or 9)
Total silverware items purchased for event: 216: 6 dozen each: knives, spoons, forks
Number of pairs of glass salt & pepper shakers purchased: 9
Pounds of flour purchased at Costco: 25
Pounds of powdered/confectioner's sugar purchased at Costco: 16
Number of 2.5 gallon glass beverage dispensers we now own: 3
Total programs printed and assembled: 90
Total wine cork place-card holders crafted: 100
Date we filed Domestic Partnership paperwork with state: 6.3.2011
Number of get-away weekends we've taken to de-stress and re-group in past few months: 4
Number of months since we got engaged: 16
Number of practice cakes we've made: 15
Times we've squabbled about money: 0
Times we've squabbled about people: countless--we are generally on the same side but have often needed to vent!
Number of rings purchased: 6 (3 each-- engagement rings, one we started wearing when we filed our DP paperwork, and one that we will exchange during the ceremony)

I realized once I started that I could go on and on with the list, but maybe it is best to stop quantifying.  What it all boils down to is we are getting closer.  We tell people that if we'd known some of what has gone down in march to our big day, we might have chosen to do something different BUT there are things that we have appreciated about the process as well.  We have learned more about each other and feel even more solid in our values and we have seen both the best and worst of ourselves and each other (and a few other people as well.)  Long after we've re-homed all those dozens of sets of silverware, we will have the planks of this process in the platform of our relationship.  Not to mention, we won't be able to truly evaluate until at least August 14th!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let's Just Call This What it Is

It has been a while since I have written here about the elephant in the room-it isn't like I forget, it is just that one would like things to be as normal and ordinary as possible.  Mostly.

Yesterday, I watched the Senate committee hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 116, S., 598) introduced in both the U.S. House and the Senate.  I was home sick from work, so instead of chairing a meeting as previously planned, I propped myself up on pillows and watched the live stream of the committee hearing.  Those old white men who spoke out against it and in defense of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) sat there as others testified about the harmful and discriminatory realities of 15 years of DOMA (homes, death benefits, health coverage, inherited property--all lost or denied because of federal policies) and then went on to say that it wasn't that they were "against" gays and lesbians, they just believed that getting rid of DOMA would open the doors for children to be taught how to be homosexuals and that same sex families were normal (never mind the children who grow up within such families), that "traditional marriages" are the only ones that count, and that if gays and lesbians can legally marry then taxpayers will be subsidizing polygamy next.  Whew.  Good thing those people are not "against" gays and lesbians!

Yesterday was also the day I was reminded that there are some relatives who won't be attending our ceremony because "it makes them feel uncomfortable."  We tried to weed out the obvious antis and right-wingers in the guest list construction, but as Teri and I and every other gay person in the world knows: you just never know. We never know how people truly vote, what sort of language they use with their kids or in the privacy of their homes, or what they might actually do in the face of differences and diversity.  You just never know...until you do.  And then we get to come face to face with a unique kind of bigotry: homophobia.

The reason that I think of homophobia as a unique sort of hate and bigotry is that when one is a person of color, part of a minority religion or some other diverse group, chances are, so is one's family of origin. There is a sense of belonging--at least to the family or to a minority culture--from which one can draw strength, survival skills and a defensive base of self-acceptance.  That just is not the case for LGBTQ folks where often the first line of rejection, hatred and homophobia comes from our families.  We have to go out into the homophobic world to create a sense of belonging and to create safe spheres where we can be ourselves in any sort of genuine way.  For many of us, our families eventually come around--or they learn how to "accept" and "tolerate"--I don't think that is the case for other targeted populations who know that even if the rest of the world rejects them, they have a kindred haven within their families. I am not saying that one form of bigotry or racism is better or worse, just that there are some differences.  Of course, I will NEVER know what it is like to be a person of color, so I can only truthfully speak to what I do know and experience.

So we fight and struggle within our families, our schools, our communities, and then we continue the struggle on a larger, political and human rights level.  We have people tell us that they are not "against" us, they just can't imagine seeing two women kiss or wonder what two men do in bed or other imagined moments they believe justify denying fairness and justice.  We bolster ourselves for the comments, legislation, misinformation and fear that people seem to feel necessary.  To be honest, I can't really decide if I am sorry that these people feel "uncomfortable" or not.  As I told Teri last night in talking about the people from our world who are choosing not to come to our ceremony, I don't know if it really bothers me or not since I have had years to develop the thick-skin necessary to live in a world of "isms." Of course, we don't want anyone present who is thinking icky thoughts, but we also would like to think that by now, our ordinary "outness" has made a difference in easing people's homophobia.  With all the movement toward increased social justice and basic rights, we can forget that people are still victims of gay-bashing and homophobic violence, schools are still unsafe for our kids (and not because of the gay people), and every day people still come out to families who reject them.

The elephant in the room is that there is STILL an elephant in the room...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Wall

With three weeks to go, things have become temporarily un-fun. We have had over a week of rain and cool temperatures here which is a. unseasonable and while it is b. great for the garden, it is c. hard on the spirit. 

Repeated attempts to contact the last of the non-rsvp-ers have yielded a couple responses (thank you) but there are still a couple dozen folks unaccounted for.  Teri and I have decided that come deadline day, that's it--we'll just go with the numbers we have. And we are striving not to take anything personal at this stage even though we are vulnerable, exhausted and stressed. We don't have any control anyway--the requested solid-color dresses have become come-as-you-are; the seating chart is a moving target with additions, subtractions, break-ups and the like; and the stress of knowing I may have to cover work stuff on the Wedding day despite attempts to the contrary for nearly a year are weighing us down. Even if our two main mantras are "Whatever" and "It is what it is" does not mean that two gals have not become a bit worn down by reality.

Work stuff, neighborhood stuff, family stuff, personal stuff--this is the reality of not only weddings but of marriage. The bridal magazines show glowing young brides surrounded by color-coordinated perfection--but this has nothing to do with real life. Real Life is personal emotional upheaval that tends to catch us off guard, tending to family dynamics, being there for our kids no matter how old they get, house hunting at the most inopportune time, dealing with energy-sucking people, discrimination, economics, politics, weather, getting sick, and myriad other unglamorous realities.  this is also the stuff of Weddings, I'm here to tell you.  Weddings may look pretty perfect on glossy magazine pages but they are a messy microcosm of the merging of two different worlds.

So, we're tired, Teri and I--we aren't sleeping particularly well and yet we are trying to take things one day at a time.  I've managed to get a bit sick in the midst of all this Life stuff and we are reminding ourselves that commitment isn't really about the ceremony and the celebration.  As Teri says, as far as we're concerned, we're already married--Life just gives us practicum for reaffirming our commitment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Healing Powers of Bacon

Warning to all you vegetarians and vegans out there who happen to be squeamish--this blog is, indeed, about bacon!  Well, it is actually about comfort food and survival during stressful times, but there will be a great deal of bacon chat going down in the next couple paragraphs.

For Teri and I, the last couple weeks or so, bacon has become our go-to salty comfort crunch.  It doesn't take much, just a slice or two or a freshly made BLT sandwich and we are feeling temporarily grounded and supported by the universe.  We have started to joke that if it weren't for bacon, we might have crumpled under the pressure of Wedding Planning Land a couple months ago. 

I am sure those who knew Teri during her decade of Veganism might be shocked or surprised at the way bacon has become her pre-matrimony drug of choice.  Those who know me are likely not surprised at all.  Think about it--it's BACON for goodness sake!  What's not to love?!

We talk a good talk about getting zen and stress free and we really are pushing back with big choruses of "What-ever!" but all that Seriously, Back Off! is fueled by bacon. They say when the Good Laura closes a door, She opens a window; or when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade--but I think it is much more powerful to fry up a pan of bacon and I believe bacon is one of the spiritual gifts of coping the Universe has given us. It doesn't take much--no need yet for us to sit down and eat an entire package (that day may come, of course, but we'll face that pork belly when we get there), but if ever I write my Lesbian Wedding Survival book--there will be an entire chapter dedicated to bacon (and maybe another one dedicated to chocolate...)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Music, Laughter and Self-Preservation

How much time he saves who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks.
Marcus Aurelius

Seriously...Teri and I are both clinging to our senses of humor and shared belief that all things are temporary--with the strength of ten two! And as much as we might understand and be able to justify some of the crap going down because we are students of human nature--still...seriously.

So Yay for laughter and Yay for our amazing friends and family who are listening, supporting, encouraging, and offering to spearhead vigilante groups--I'm here to tell you that two gals would end up on the front page of the local paper if it weren't for the true heros and heroines in our lives.  Can I get a Woot! Woot?!

Yesterday, one of the daughters, Lucy, and her BF Jacob came over to help with our music play list. I lured them in with blueberry pancakes (okay, so they were already committed but why not add food?) and amidst tangled wires and three computers, we compiled the most eclectic mix of music known to man or beast.  Now I hate to burst anyone's stereotyping bubble, but there will be no Indigo Girls or Melissa Etheridge or what I call "old-school-filling-up-and-spilling-over" Lesbian music (you know that genre of counter-culture female singers from the seventies--a guitar, unicorns, abundant yearning, walks along the seashore, etc.)  Instead, with Lucy's help, we've got some of the modern dance music that Teri likes, some of the punky anthems that I like, and songs pulled from just about every era and decade.  I mean who wouldn't want to hear Petula Clark belting out "Sign of the Times" followed by the Ramones and "I Want to be Sedated"?  Oh yeah...

We had some parameters, of course.  I had to give up on having any Prince or Iggy Pop because, well, Teri hates them and I begged that we keep what I call Teri's "emo" music off the playlist too--okay, maybe one James Blunt song made it out of the Itunes library and into "Wedding" but that is it!  We kept our minds on the eclectic group that will be in attendance, threw in plenty of 80's music (because that's where we're from) and a grand smattering of all sorts of other fun stuff.  The ongoing dialogue went something like this:

Me: I love that song!
Lucy: But not for a wedding.
Me: Teri loves that song!
Lucy: Okay (picture Lucy clicking and dragging).

Alright, maybe it wasn't quite that biased but I am sad to report there will be no Iggy & the Stooges belting out "I Wanna be Your Dog" at our Wedding Extravaganza but there will be the classic stoner rendition of "Sister Golden Hair Surprise."  I am sure you can imagine the dynamics.

Lots of laughter and now that we have the soundtrack for our special day, I feel confident that the music will contribute to the making of some pretty amazing memories--regardless of the periodic sniping of poop-heads along the way. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Month to Go!

The blast-off countdown has begun and as I told Teri over BLTs last night after getting home from a meeting--whatever!  Now it is not that either one of us has reached apathy or that we don't care at all, it is more that we have exceeded the saturation point for lists and worries and stress and anxiety.  You want to come to the wedding even though you weren't invited? You haven't got your dress yet? You've decided you can't possibly participate in a lesbian wedding?  You are afraid that the garden might be crawling with scary gay people? You have allergies? You don't like us anymore? Whatever!  With a big crazy-eyed sigh, I've let it all go.  It is going to be what it is going to be and I have reached the whatever point.  I am sure many others have been here before us.

Control is not to be had, while laughter, love, and resiliency are.  I'm good with that. I don't know if the Whatever mantra will carry us through to the glorious end or not--we might have a resurgence of Ack! (fondly borrowed from my comic and cartoon days) but for now, ahhhhhh.....(visualize shrugging shoulders, raised eyebrows and a disinterested yawn.)

Now then, for those of you who doubt my ability to Let Go and Let Gaga (mutation of the well-known religious slogan intended) because you've been following these bouncy blog posts, let me assure you that living through three strong-willed teenagers as a single mom has taught me a thing or two about picking one's battles and finding peace in the midst of chaos. I know a little about laughing my way through a world that doesn't much resemble the one I imagined, I'll have you know!  Of course, with all the preparation and attention we've given this celebration, I'm sure it will look quite a bit about what we've imagined and so what if the human element brings about the unpredictable?  Bring it on because we are vibrating at the zen stage of whatever.

As Teri has said, one month to go, means one month until it is all over and our lives go back to some sort of normal. It also means one month until we get to see some of our most favorite people in the whole wide world and share a few meals and plenty of laughs, hugs and memories.  Somewhere in there will be our intentional commitment but it will be sandwiched by so much fabulousness that the not-so-fabulousness will be a bit like mosquitoes on a camping trip.  Whatever.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time to Put the "Party" Back Into Wedding Party!

The task lists are created, the spreadsheets are filling in nicely, details are getting done and things are being tended to.  Now it's time to focus on a little of the fun stuff.  With the pending arrival of family and friends from afar, and the chance to have some laughs, fun and shared experiences with those closest to us here, we just can't let the opportunity pass to enjoy having all of these people here together!

The questions, however, are what to do and how to squeeze it in?  We also want to allow room and space for those who want to get out and do some exploring, shopping or sight-seeing on their own that isn't Wedding-related. Teri and I have turned our thoughts to welcome baskets and gifts for our attendants, hosting a relaxing rehearsal dinner barbecue and whether or not we want to do a group trip to the day spa for some pedicures or other "we appreciate you" activities. It comes down to how to include and spend time with a diverse group of folks, and timing; figuring out schedules is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

While we also anticipate the preparation, decorating and cooking will be fun too, it is so important for us to really soak up all the reasons we have chosen these people to be such an integral part of our ceremony and celebration--and they have been so fabulous to accept.  I confess that when we started this Wedding planning adventure over a year ago, I was neither eager nor had I imagined ever getting married in any sort of ceremonious way again--but being able to share with so many of our besties has been the best part!

So with just about three weeks to go before people start arriving, our thoughts truly turn to how to celebrate, appreciate and embrace the people who are making room in their lives to be a part of ours!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Things Have a Way of Working Out (One Way or Another)

I am not always the most patient person in the world. Probably not even the most patient person on our street--and my lack of patience is only one of my many human flaws. There is always a bit of disparity between how one would like for things to go and the way life actually unfolds.  Surprise!  Fortunately, the Universe has balanced out my lack of patience and tendency to want to get things just so with the ability to be quite flexible and to bounce.  Whew!  Since Life has a way of working itself out with or without any help from me.

Wedding Planning Land is unquestionably in the home stretch.  Both Teri and I are starting to partition out our energy on the things we can actually influence, forcing ourselves to let go of the areas where things are just going to be the way they are going to be. This is the place where we let the people who want to help do so and let ourselves experience the humor and joys of what IS (instead of fussing over what could have been or what isn't).  Things are just going to work out the way they do...

I am not an overly woo-woo sort of person but I do believe that Life is a combination of random mutating surprises and a conspiracy to ensure that some of what a person needs finds him or her.  The same rainstorm that upends trees can also produce a gorgeously radiant rainbow.  As things either fall into place or fall by the wayside, I am feeling an increased sense of trust that things will work out in just the ways that work for us.

 With a month to go, the little paper table shapes on our bulletin board seating chart are getting peppered with colored sticky tabs; there is a silly army of 18 identical glass salt & pepper shakers arranged on our kitchen counter and our utility room is overflowing with supplies.  We are starting to get incredibly excited to see visiting friends and family members and finding that the things we thought were a big deal six months ago don't matter nearly as the day quickly approaches! Who knows what will happen between now and then or how the final event will unfold--but things have a way of working way or another.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rituals, Words and Vows

With all the fuss over tables, linens and cake recipes, it can seem like the actual "ceremony" part of the ceremony gets bumped aside. I don't think that is necessarily true in our case, it is just the part that makes both Teri and I feel the most nervous and unsure.  It is also the part that feels the most important.  As Teri likes to say, everything else is just icing on the cake.

Creating our ceremony is a place where Teri and I can be as traditional or as personal as we want--and we are probably a little of both.  It is also the place where when we start to talk about it, we get a bit anxious.  Standing up in front of everyone and letting all our gooey and serious feelings flap in the breeze is very different from the self-deprecating and authentic humor we generally use to talk about our relationship.  But, alas, that is what Weddings are all about.

My sister is officiating the ceremony for us and we have complete trust in her skills and abilities.  For those who don't know, my sister is an actor, director and theatre maven extraordinaire.  After Teri and I wrote up what we have been calling the "script" for the ceremony, I emailed it to my sister and she is the one who is going to help us turn it into reality.  As a matter of fact, later this morning we are all three getting together for brunch and notes to further craft the ceremony.  When my sister suggested it was time for us to take a meeting (silliness intended), she mentioned that she had jotted some notes on the script and it made me smile--it was comfortingly theatrical.  I trust her sense of timing, delivery and word flow.  Teri trusted me to put all our thoughts and snippets of poems and words into a ceremony script and now we trust my sister to make it into our ceremony.

We opted for no additional readers or speakers and we opted to not write individual vows.  Instead, we have created vows that we will both say--each separately and guided by my sister.  There is some ritual woven in but our goal is to keep it relatively short and with no awkward pauses or lapses.  We want flow. We want accessible language.  We want it to be personal and meaningful. And, we want to make sure everyone can hear everything. Even though we may get nervous at the thought of the actual ceremony, I do have confidence that between my sister and the musician, and amidst our team of attendants, Teri and I will be in very good hands.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Practice Cake Home Stretch

With just over a month to go, many of our Wedding Planning realities are winding down. There may be a sense of panic in some areas but when it comes to the cakes and pies, I'm feeling pretty darn confident.  That may have something to do with the fact that in the last six months, we have made dozens of Practice Cakes!

I have to wonder if after the wedding passes, we'll be able to go back to just calling them "cakes"--they've been called practice cakes now for months and that may just be the moniker that sticks.  While I have been a fairly confident baker for the past decade or so, I have not been a confident cake decorator.  When we decided that we would do our own Wedding baking, I had a sense of panic (as you may remember) and decided that if I just practiced whenever I got the chance, my skills would improve.  What I discovered was that in addition to practice, it helps to have great recipes and the right tools.  Filtering through our baking pans to find two round sets that never fail and adding a few quality offset spatulas to our arsenal have been good things; as has developing a no-fail buttercream frosting (yes butter and yes cream).

To be fair, we haven't actually eaten all of these cakes--some have been for birthdays, parties and potlucks and while some have been yummy and gorgeous, some have been total disasters.  But, my skills are improving.  I still don't embark on anything too fancy and while I can make some simple scallops while wielding the decorator tips, that is about it. I've learned how to use just a smidge of the fancy gel tinting colors (I use a toothpick to get the right amount out of the container) to get a lovely pastel or jewel-tone to the frosting instead of the scary neon colors I created early on. I've also learned that the talented folks at Etsy are fabulous resources--instead of trying to create my own royal frosting flowers and shapes, I can buy original ones from experts and they are happy for our business. I've learned how to draw letters and shapes into the frosting with a toothpick lightly before trying to pipe them; I've learned how to crumb-coat and how to get cakes out of the pan in tact every time.  All skills I didn't have before embarking on this challenge.

Unlike many months ago, I'm actually looking forward to creating the actual cakes (three or four? Teri and I are still debating) that we'll have at the Wedding. I still couldn't win on an episode of Cake Wars, but that's not really the goal I was going for...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Flowers Ordered? Check!

While we initially had a fantasy that we would be able to grow all the flowers we could possibly want or need for our ceremony and celebration in our own garden--that just is not going to be the reality.  Since we chose sunflowers for our "signature" flower and wanted a garden-y mix of other flowers, the decision was made that we were just going to have to purchase.  We have ordered the flowers and--cover your eyes and ears Martha Stewart--we ordered them from Costco.

Yes, I know we should have and could have gone local; Yes, we researched and priced; in the end (or the one-month-out) Costco won out. There have been moments where I imagined myself with baskets over my arms wandering the Farmer's Market on the morning of the wedding choosing fresh, local, in-season flowers--returning home to fluff and arrange with ease.  Reality check--how am I going to have time to do that?  And how will I know there will be enough of what turns us on?  The good thing is that Teri and I have a couple friends/family members with skills who have volunteered to help arrange and we have plenty of vases and vessels--now, if all goes well, the flowers will arrive on or about August 11th and be open, clipped and ready for the 13th!

With 80 stems of bright yellow sunflowers and hundreds of other assorted roses, gerbera daisies, stock and lilies arriving on the doorstep in florists' boxes, we should be good to go.  Of course, while I sound relaxed, I will be fussing about whether or not the flowers arrive on time and what sort of quality, whether they are open, and how well they work and last until the last possible moment!  Just because I can now check the ordering of the flowers off our list does not mean I can completely let go of the worry.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Half-way and Nudging

Yesterday, we went over the half-way mark in terms of guest responders.  Just over half of the people to whom we've sent invites have responded either with a yay or nay.  With less than a month to go before we'd like to have a final count, we've decided to start the first round of gentle nudging...

This isn't at all at a stressful or pressure-stage yet, we'd just like to get a more accurate picture of the sort of numbers we'll be looking at so we can move forward on the final organizational stuff.  At this point, a verbal "yes I'm coming" is just fine with us--it doesn't have to be in the pre-stamped, pre-addressed reply envelopes that went out with the invites.  E-mail? Phone call? Text?  Fine, Fine, Fine. Who, how many and correct name spellings are all we need...

While Teri and I comfortably entertain on a regular basis, I realized it is only at Thanksgiving that we wrestle people for RSVPs--most of the time, we just throw open the doors and see who shows up.  This casual approach has developed over time and is as much for my sanity as for any other reason.  It takes time, energy and focus to manage RSVPs!  Did you?  Didn't you?  You're bringing how many?  You need what?  It wouldn't be a big deal this time around either except that we want to make sure everyone is specially welcomed and accounted for--place cards, escort cards, favors--after all, this may be our day, but we are throwing a party for our nearest and dearest.

So the nudging has begun.  Please don't be offended if you happen to get a little inquiry, call or email and we hope you won't take it as nagging pressure--we're not judging, just trying to stay on top of Wedding Planning Land tasks...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ordinary Days of Love

Despite fairy tales of romance and those gooey early feelings of overwhelming passion, the fact is, most days are woefully ordinary and ordinary days call for a rather extraordinary love and commitment.  At least that is how I see it.

Aggravations, routine, chores, challenges--not really the stuff of great, sweeping love stories.  In the movies, a couple has to overcome grand obstacles that conspire to keep them apart but for most of us, it is even more challenging to just maneuver through days of jobs, errands, tasks and managing ordinary life!

How many relationships have fizzled when the rollicking high tide recedes and life settles back into its ordinariness?

When I allowed myself to step into the challenges of "dating" in my forties, I had taken a few years to get grounded and figure out what I had to bring to the adventure.  I decided if ever I was to fall, I wanted it all!  Yes, I wanted the gooey excitement of falling in love, but I also wanted an ordinary earthiness and long-term compatibility.  I knew that long-distance dating was NOT for me because I valued the every-day--getting to know someone slowly through ordinary situations when they are not on their best behavior.  If nothing else, I knew that I needed to make my actions and choices match what I had identified that I wanted.  For both Teri and I, there was a great deal of intention in our dating, but not to the point of being clinical or simply a matter of matching up checklists.

There is a great deal of trust that comes with entwining ordinary lives.  Teri has to trust that I will take care of my end of things and manage my own feelings and behaviors and I have to do the same with her.We both have to trust that if we have an off day or week, that is all it is and not take it to mean that things are awry.  On the other side of the coin, we have to trust ourselves to tend to things and check in to make sure they don't get too far off track.

While I know that some people look longingly at couples in the early stages of infatuated dating or long to be out-and-about playing the field, that is not something I envy. I loved the experience of discovering and falling for Teri, but what I most covet are the ordinary days of love. It may not make for the most exciting and dramatic time, but the solid depth of loving companionship suits me just fine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

39 Days...

We have just over a month to go and I can tell you that doesn't feel like very long at all.  The "we'll think about that tomorrow" days are coming to an end.  It's all good.  It'll be fine.  These three word phrases have become our mantras.

Just between you and me, I haven't been doing such a great job of keeping up with the garden area in the past couple weeks.  I've somewhat lost interest for various reasons and we have been so busy with other daily Summer realities that there hasn't been the time to try to keep unwieldy plants in order.  Meanwhile, the utility room has gone from having a tidy little corner of Wedding supplies to spilling over with piles, boxes and items.  It is not a pretty site.

What needs to happen is that we need to start paying attention to watering and weeding, and we need to finish compiling our teams and task lists for the final week.  These big checklist items are weighing heavy and obvious, but they also coincide with the impending home stretch when our psyches are ready for the entire event to be over.

To be absolutely honest, what we'd like to be doing is going to ball games and visiting with friends and family and lounging on the deck in the evening air.  Since I haven't been able to talk Teri into hiring a gardener and a personal assistant for the final five weeks, we are just going to have to figure out how to do what needs to be done and still maintain some of what we so love about the Summer!