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

It just keeps getting better...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Finding the words to re-cap the last few days seems nearly impossible. There have been nudgings for me to get back to putting something down here in the blog but, to be honest, it isn't like the day after the Wedding life went back to some breezy easy mode.  In fact, this morning (Wednesday) was the first morning that felt somewhat "old school."  Even if our house is filling up with boxes and we are both focused on our pending move in just over a week and a half, the Wedding finally feels in the past.

Last night, over the last bottle of champagne, Teri and I finally had some time to the two of us to just talk.  We talked about our favorite parts and the amazing joys, but we also shared our disappointments and what we thought would go differently or what we forgot.  There was gushing, of course, but for two pragmatic and practically-minded women, we couldn't help but make some room for the other too.

As "newlyweds," we do not feel any more committed to each other than we did before.  What does feel different is that our commitment is legitimized in a deeper way for our family, friends, and the community we care so much about.  The entire process has given us the opportunity to get to know each other even more--strengths, weaknesses, idiosyncrasies; it has allowed us some time to fully embrace our different families, meet each others' friends, and accept the unchangeable.  We have had to talk about and work through some pretty bumpy stuff in a fairly public way. We jumped into a journey that has been personal, emotional, political, spiritual, and practical and invited the world in to participate in that journey with us.

I know this woman pretty darn well after three years, but there is plenty more to come.  One of my favorite parts of our vows was when we promised to trust in the other's abiding love.  Partnered with our vow to strive to not take each other for granted, we've committed to companionship and love; we've committed to each other, to our kids, to our families and to our friends--those we already know and those who have yet to find their way into our lives.
Teri and I are still the same women we were before cakes and baked ham and champagne toasts; and the world is still the same world it was before two women stood under a beautiful arbor in a crowded garden--but I like to think that there is a renewed bubbling of love, a strengthening of community, and a hopefulness in the ability we humans have to come together in a grand metaphorical embrace.  My life may be a sloppy prayer, but nonetheless, it is an attempt at just that: beauty, love, attachment, compassion, concern--a pledge; a vow; a promise.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So, This is What One Day Away Looks Like?

There is no turning back now--well, I guess, technically, there is always a turning back but for Teri and I, we are so in full swing Wedding Land now it appears there is nowhere to go but onward.  No more second-guessing--the garden isn't going to get any greener, the house isn't going to be any cleaner, we aren't going to be any thinner so now it is time to just bring on the party!

Yesterday, Teri and I spent over seven hours baking the cakes and cupcakes.  I have to tell you, it feels a bit naughty to use five pounds of butter in one day.  After beating up the fourth bowl full of buttercream frosting and washing the beaters for the last time, there was no doubt that a drink was in order.  We had just enough time to share a few sips before the late afternoon arrival of family and friends.

In the midst of baking, the flowers arrived: two huge boxes delivered by a congenial Fed-Ex man.  We mistakenly assumed there would be instructions in the boxes telling us what we needed to do with them once we pried open the heavily-stapled boxes to unveil hundreds of blooms and blossoms. We panicked, as if a delay in 10 minutes would cause every last stem to wilt and amidst our panic I barked, "Call Rhonda!"  Rhonda is Teri's coworker and a flower and garden maven; she is also helping us with the arranging and such with the flowers so we figured of all the people we knew who might be able to talk us through a two-bride panic, she would be the one.  She did and I have a suspicion that she could sense our hysteria as she reassuringly guided us via cell phone in getting them into buckets of water.  The are taking up space in the coolest, darkest room of our house which just so happens to be our bedroom.  Who knew we would get to fall asleep surrounded by 80 long stems of sunflowers and hundreds of other roses, lilies and statice?

Today will be full, but in such a glorious way. I won't be making 20 pounds of potato salad by myself and Teri gets to make pies with her mother and her daughter. My grown kids and the Becher boys get to reunite and reacquaint after not seeing each other for fifteen years. My BFF Wendy and my BFF Doreen--two very different women--get to meet each other at last as they both pitch in to help. Our lesbian friends, our gay friends, our kids, Teri's parents, our sisters, my oldest pals--all squeezing in and around our little bungalow to arrange chairs and hang paper lanterns.  Last night, after coming back from dinner and while two dozen eggs hard boiled, Teri and I shared a glass of wine and commented that there are certainly easier ways to do a Wedding, but our goal of having a collaborative, shared experience is starting to feel very worth it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Four-Day Drill Sergeant

Honestly?  I am not sure whether to apologize for my foibles and flaws or call out to have my awesome bossiness celebrated...I imagine it all depends on a person's perspective and relative closeness to my current tendency to micromanage.  Seriously, though, there's stuff to do and very little time to do it in.  If it wasn't for our checklists and spreadsheets and the fact that we really are very organized, I might feel even more tyrannical. In the immortal words of Mary Poppins, "spit spot!" and in the echoing words of my dad, "We're burning daylight!"
The other day Teri put up some definite boundaries when she told me to go to work and micromanage them and stop micromanaging her. I couldn't tell her that the staff  was probably breathing a sigh of relief that I was at home and not up in their business on the work front (although it is in my job description.)  Part of me figures I can just apologize later all around for being such a drill sergeant and pushing us all along.  I am sorry, but not sorry enough to stop my behaviors...yet.

My justification is that four days is NOT very much time.  That is only 96 hours if I'm doing the math correctly.  96 hours to do all the things that couldn't be done until now: the cooking, baking, decorating, practicing, entertaining and final sprucing and cleaning of EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD.  Okay, that was a little drama for humor's sake, but really, lots to do. The differences in our temperaments and pacing couldn't be more pronounced right about now between Teri and I and underneath is a whole lotta anxiety.  My way of dealing with the nervousness is to stay focused on coordinating and doing while I think Teri would prefer to curl up and hide out from the bustle and pressure.  Both perfectly justifiable approaches, mind you, but not the most compatible. As Teri commented with exasperation yesterday, "As soon as I finish one thing, I have to move right on to the next!"  That's the key to how it works as distraction!

I am trying to ease up or at least have some compassionate humor about the fact that I am tapping my baton and blowing my whistle (metaphorically, of course, although had I thought ahead a little...) I really do have some idealistic vision of turning over some of this to my Best Gal Wendy when she arrives on Thursday.  Surely she won't be too exhausted after driving all the way from Indiana with her two young adult sons?  In the end, it is going to be what it is going to be--but with 96 hours to go, Onward!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who Will be Missing

Summer tends to be a somewhat nostalgic time for me anyway--as the years stack up, I find that the slow, warm days of Summer seem to fertilize memories and those creeping moments of nostalgia catch me when I am simply going about my day.  The smell of drying cedar trees, a growing breeze that shuffles along a garden hedge, the sound of bees buzzing around the lavender blossoms, the first taste of dripping, locally grown cantaloupe--Summer now reminds me of Summers then...

Throughout the Wedding Planning process, I have been overlapping the current with the past in what sometimes feels intensely spiritual and at other times is emotionally annoying.  Both Teri and I have found ourselves talking about our history books of weddings, births, loves, funerals and all the various incarnations of ourselves; we catch ourselves talking about and feeling the bittersweet presence of ghosts--all those people who have created the women we have become, but who are no longer alive in the expected sense.  Recently, Teri told me about a tribe of people she was reading about who have three different words for people--one for those who are still physically alive, one for those who have been dead a long time, and one for those who are dead, but there are still living people within the tribe who have memories of them--that third, middle, life-and-death-straddling group is the one I think of as the ghosts that move in and around my every day.

I was visiting my mother a couple weeks ago and she shared that it is during gatherings--birthdays, holidays, weekends when the "kids" are visiting that she has moments where she expects to see my dad (who has been dead amost 2 years) come walking across the yard.  I understand this.  As our Wedding day approaches, I feel the presence acutely of those people who will not be in attendance in any way but my mind and memories.

My life is full of useful sacred objects connected to these ghosts and memories.  You wouldn't know them to see them if you waltzed through our house but I do: a battered orange plastic pitcher that was my Grandma Peggy's "kool-aid" pitcher.  There is a scratchy line etched on the inside to show you where the water fill line is; a pair of wire reading glasses that were my dad's when he died--it is all I've taken as my legacy; my marble rolling pin that was given to me as a wedding gift the first time around by my late great-grandmother--the wooden handles are long-gone but I still use the rolling pin and imagine I will until I'm done in this world; scarves and costume jewelry that belonged to my Grandma Jean; worn table linens with the name "Rodley" stamped on the hem edges that belonged to my Grandma Rodley; a diamond ring my Grandpa Tuff gave to my mother. Teri has her sacred objects too--as I was finishing up the ironing of all the tablecloths yesterday, I found myself getting a little weepy and when I got to a beautiful and well-used cloth of Irish linen patterned all over with faint clovers that is Teri's, I realized that I was ironing it for the first time as part of "us" and wondering at all the O'Leary meals that may have been shared across that tablecloth.

To someone else, these items are just the "things" that make up the set dressing of our lives, but for us, they hold little pieces of the essence of those who we have not completely let go. While they may not be here in body for our ceremony or our merging of lives, and we don't get to know exactly how they would feel about the whole thing anyway, we can only imagine.  Since my grandmother who is still with us, will be at our ceremony and celebration, and I was out when all of my grandparents and dad were alive, I like to think that they would be mingling and sharing in our day--regardless, they have all been with me throughout this process.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


While I have been mulling over writing a blog about family (maybe tomorrow?), what comes to mind after a very full day of tasks and activity is actually friends--mostly how incredibly grateful Teri and I feel to have such a fine posse of friends...

If we allow ourselves to ponder on the blessings, help, laughter and warmth that has come in our direction from our friends, we both get pretty overwhelmed.  It is dazzling and delightful--and a little mysterious.

The fabulous arbor is on loan from one of Teri's coworkers.  At 10 am this morning, Rhonda and Ruth drove up into the driveway and, while we were expecting the arbor delivery, we didn't know what it would look like.  Now that it has taken up temporary residence in the garden, we couldn't be happier, or feel luckier to have such sweet and sharing friends!

This afternoon, Team Biscotti assembled at our house and we made batches and batches of both chocolate and almond biscotti--all from recipes shared by our friend, Lynn.  Lynn and her partner, DT, and another grand friend Victoria helped us mix, shape, cut and bake dozens of crunchy strips amidst some very stimulating political discourse as we pondered how to fix all the problems of the world! It made what could have been a very tedious afternoon into a festive party.  How is it we can be so fortunate to have friends willing to spend an entire afternoon helping with such a task? (granted there was some blueberry pie and limoncillo, but I don't think that was payment enough.)

There is still much to do and while having some helpers is great, it is the ongoing support, laughter, conversation and genuine care that we value the most.  I have lived long enough to learn that major life events can bring out the very best, or the very worst in people; for Teri and I, we have enjoyed discovering who our nearest and dearest are and have been trying to simply appreciate the bonds of friendship we have in our lives!

As I crawl off to bed exhausted after an incredibly full Saturday of ironing tablecloths, hanging twinkle lights, baking biscotti and other tasks I barely remember, I cannot help but feel like the most fortunate woman in the world to have so many true friends.  It seems to be one of the cornerstones of a wedding and a marriage--the support and encouragement of community.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Single Digit Countdown

So, this is what one week out looks like? Teri found me sitting in our spare room early yesterday morning with my second cup of coffee announcing that I was feeling oddly calm.  Of course, this is balanced by occasional upheaval where I wonder if it is really too late to change the color scheme entirely or make massive changes to the long-set plans?

I confess that most of this past week has been consumed with work, which has left little time to fuss over last-minute wedding details.  Teri has been taking care of a lot of the cleaning, sorting and packing--not to mention spider re-location and late-Summer plant sprucing.  As dull as it may sound, I think working on grant proposal narratives and battling the big "isms" of the world is a respite from a 2-page daunting list of Wedding must-dos!

Teri did half and I did half, but we got all the cloth napkins cleaned and ironed.  I've started working on pressing the heavy box of white and ivory tablecloths, and I shared with Teri that there feels to be something soothing and sacred about sliding a steaming iron over some of the more vintage pieces. A person can't help but wonder how many other irons, tables and occasions a particularly aged rectangle of linen has witnessed?  I have some lovely and worn ones that are probably at least 70 years old and it feeds my soul in some unexplainable way to press the wrinkles out of the recently washed coverings.

Meanwhile, as we prepare for a week of cooking and baking, Teri has cleaned out the refrigerator and the freezer and we've been counting and assembling supplies. I've cleaned, counted and organized the flatware and one of the tasks that took us an entire evening this past week was to write all the place cards, escort cards, do the final table assignments and arrangements, and put together packets with all the necessary items (place cards and holders, table signs, etc.) for each table. Teri even alphabetized all the escort cards and we have them rubber banded and labeled.

Loaned supplies are arriving--including some wonderful tables to augment the rented ones--offered up by my ex in-laws (who will also be at the Wedding) and a garden arbor from one of Teri's co-workers scheduled for delivery tomorrow.  We are writing thank you notes as the need arises and trying to get all our recipes in order as we work on the final grocery shopping list.  It is less about planning now and more all about the doing!

Our teams of helpers, friends and family will be arriving this week.  Biscotti Team flies into action on Saturday to kick-off what will be a whole lotta kitchen activity for the next several days. I think we are looking forward to being able to play with our friends and family more than just about anything else...

Monday, August 1, 2011

The 12 Days of Wedding

Somewhere in the midst of all that has been crazy, kooky and self-imposed, Teri and I have found ourselves at this place--with twelve days to go until our ceremony. That's it.  Just 12 more days and while I'd like to think that we will sail through with ease and bouncing jubilation, I'm not entirely convinced that will be the case.

I realized last night as we settled in to watch an episode of Six Feet Under (we are in season two of our entire run re-watch) after what was an incredibly ACK! sort of weekend, that sometimes the "happily ever after" isn't that a gal has a stress-free and simple existence with another, but that at the end of all the kookiness and challenges, one can still look across the messy living room and be overwhelmed with feelings of love.  Yup.  I still love you even though I thought you were a poophead two hours ago...

The march to middle-age matrimony has been a tangle of triggers (impressive Walt Whitman sentence, eh fellow writers?), changed minds, culture clashes, surprise expenses, bubbling stresses and intentional clarifications.  We've had to face family culture differences, well-meaning advisors, resurging ghosts of relationships past, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and, I'll be honest here, cranky disagreements over nonsensical diversionary topics.  Darnit if I don't still love this woman intensely and further realize that after waiting almost five decades, I truly have found the person-partner who fits.

Running with abandon across a field into each other's arms it's not; battling the surprise wasp-nest side-by-side it is.

With checklists and calendar in hand, this is what the next twelve days just might look like:

On the first day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: one detailed grocery list
On the second day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 2 too-late rsvps
On the third day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 3 hours of ironing
On the fourth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 4 borrowed 6-foot tables
On the fifth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 5 cups of dried rose petals
On the sixth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 6 strings of white twinkle lights
On the seventh day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 7 gallons of lemonade
On the eighth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 8 gallons of sangria
On the ninth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 9 table packets (pre-sorted name-tags, table tents, decor, etc. for each reception table)
On the tenth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 10 pound of organic tomatoes
On the eleventh day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 11 minutes of frustrated sobbing
On the twelfth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: a lifetime of committed companionship and love...