Thursday, April 28, 2011

SOON AND VERY SOON

You know what the monkey said when he got his tail cut off in the lawnmower...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NIECE BETSY TAKES A HUSBAND - Part 1

WITH HER FIRST HELLO...
 
The story is told that Thomas and Betsy were introduced to each other by a mutual acquaintance...or something like that. But that whole "how they met" thing is now water under the bridge, and I really don’t want to bog down my wedding series with too much prefatory material. Suffice it to say that when they finally started "dating" in February of 2009, they hit it off fairly quickly. The only downside was that Betsy was scheduled to leave in July of that year for a 7-month stint of working in an orphanage in Zambia.

So I’m told that Thomas was determined to keep their romance in the shallow end, and not to do anything silly like fall in love and wait around for her to get back. But things do not always go according to plan, do they? And the next thing he knew, he found himself in the deep end of this romance...way in over his head...and she was too of course. And then they were crying like babies when she left on that plane to Africa...and the rest, as they say, is history.

So let’s fast forward to a day in early May 2010, shall we? Otherwise, this wedding series will go on and on like...well, like another wedding series might have done. We were all busy minding our own business down there in Edmond one Saturday. The girls and I had gone down to register Emily for college, and we somehow got the news that there was to be a proposal at a park at such and such time and we were all invited to come celebrate and eat cake, if she said yes, that is. And she did, but I think I already wrote about that whole affair at the time it happened, so if you’re interested you can check that old post. Meanwhile let’s move on, shall we?

The next wedding related business that I got in on was the actual DRESS BUYING. Yes, Emily and I happened to be down in Edmond again, for some reason or other, when they announced that the bride-to-be was headed out to try on dresses and all her female relatives were invited to come along. So it became a party, with about 10 of us traipsing into this fairly small bridal shop, and filling up all their chairs, and clogging up most of their aisles. And everyone had an opinion on everything, of course, so that’s fun. And I tried to be discriminating like everyone else and make helpful comments like "oh, that waist is too high or low or something". But secretly I thought she looked beautiful in every single thing she tried on.

And ultimately the decision had to be Betsy’s anyway. And she finally settled on this lovely one-strapped concoction with 3D flowery things scattered about, and some great shirring through the bodice and waist, and a gorgeous train and floor length sheer veil which I would love to describe for you, but you know I can’t so I won’t even try. So they said they’d take it...and it was such a beautiful moment that even the ching-ching of the credit card machine couldn’t dampen our spirits.

Of course watching the mother-daughter-sisters interaction at such a momentous occasion spurred me on to thinking about the past...and my wedding dress. My mother made it, which sounds very cool but in reality, it was just cheaper that way. She was a master seamstress, but didn’t have much experience in the wedding dress-making business, other than the dress she’d made for Sally, which turned out well. So she found a pattern that I liked and gamely went forward, and I remember being happy with the result, but the truth is I had nothing to compare it with because I never tried on any commercially-made wedding dresses. Looking back, I don’t remember visiting even one single bridal shop prior to my wedding. The bottom line was that I was 29 years old, and I think we were all so relieved I was finally getting married, that no one worried too much about the wedding details, not even me.

Betsy’s dress buying also made me think about the future and helping my own daughters pick out a wedding dress some day. And I look forward to those days, knowing they will be memorable, and probably even enjoyable on many levels. But I can’t help feeling a tiny sense of dread too, knowing that it will foreshadow the closing of another chapter in our lives as mothers and daughters. So there will have to be some more of that crying business, if my sister’s clan is any example of what goes on during wedding planning.

So that was some major digressing from the real story...but you know I can’t help it. Next up, we get invited to Betsy’s personal shower...sort of. And on that note, I better close this first chapter.
For lunch today, I had T&WT, a slice of dutch apple pie (my favorite) made by my husband, and some peach yogurt.
 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

LOST AND FOUND

So I’m pretty sure no one is still waiting with bated breath for my Betsy/Thomas wedding series to begin. At least I hope not, because I want it to be like when you lose...let’s say maybe the charger to your camera. And you search high and low for it (literally), and you accuse a lot of people around you of misplacing it, but finally you give up and start taking pictures with your cell phone. And then one day, you decide to clean up your bedroom and open a bag and find that long-lost charger right where you left it weeks ago. And you’re overjoyed, because you never quite adjusted to using your cell phone for a camera anyway. So I’m hoping you will feel that same kind of joy when you finally sign on to this blog and find that the wedding story has begun, because that which you thought was lost to you forever, will have been found.

And on that note, I have a few lines for you from a little poem about lost stuff which I borrowed from Edmund Spenser (who is a real poet):

"For whatsoever from one place doth fall, Is with the tide unto another brought: For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought."

Isn’t that beautiful? And I’m sure its meaning is very deep, but for me I just think of it when I’m looking for something...like a camera charger.

But I don’t want you to think I’m trying to pacify you and regain your affections with just a bit of high-brow poetry...so let me assure you that Part One of the wedding series is basically written, and will be posted here in the next few days. If all goes well.

Meanwhile, I wanted to tell you about the peacoat Dave gave me last year for Christmas. And again, I don’t like to brag, but for a man, this guy is unbelievably thoughtful when it comes to gift-giving. One time he SNUCK my broken string of pearls out of my dresser drawer and had them re-strung for me. On Mother’s Day a few years back, I stepped outside to find pots and pots of geraniums scattered about my front steps. And for my anniversary this past September, he secretly hauled my Honda scooter which hadn’t started for several years to a mechanic and had it repaired. And that may sound like more of a gift for him rather than for me, because yes, I’m over the weight limit for the scooter anyway. But I’m abnormally attached to the thing, because it belonged to my parents, and my mom rode it, and it was part of my "inheritance." Yeah, some people have their mother’s china cabinet or maybe even her wedding dress, but I have my mother’s scooter. And I had been whining about the fact that no one could ride it, and Dave fixed that for me, and it was seriously no small thing.

So you see, Dave really is a prince when it comes to thoughtful gifts. And that’s why I don’t want you to judge him too harshly by what I’m about to tell you regarding the dreaded peacoat. In truth, this gift also SEEMED perfect at the time he gave it to me. I needed a coat and it looked lovely coming out of that box last Christmas morning. But after only a few outings, it began to display its one painfully obvious flaw. It’s black, and therefore it needs the CONSTANT attention of a lint brush.

Now everyone knows that I barely take the time to brush my hair in the mornings, so you can just imagine how much I despise having to take the time to brush my coat too. As such, I don’t brush it nearly enough, and therefore I look even more unkempt than usual, at least on cold days. Lately, I’ve noticed my family and friends picking the lint off me wherever and whenever they so choose, and I’m wondering how many total strangers have been tempted but too shy to do the same.

So this morning when I put on the dreaded coat, I was actually thinking that my only hope was that they really DON’T make things like they used to. Because didn’t people wear their winter coats for years and years back in the those good old days? And I’m not sure I can take years and years with this coat. For once, I hope that whoever crafted this thing embraced the whole modern shoddy workmanship philosophy...so it will literally fall apart at the seams, someday soon, and I can start over. Of course, I won’t be surprised if in a cruel twist of fate, this coat will be prove to be indestructible. I will keep you posted.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my return to the blogging fold than to enjoy a delicious lunch of tuna and wheat thins today. For dessert, I had a piece of warm-from-the-oven cherry pie, made by my husband who has inexplicably become a pie-baking machine lately. But that story will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

This blog is officially over a year old now. I would like to celebrate my big First Anniversary by offering my followers a 10% discount on something. But I’m not sure what.

I figured out I’d been at this a year when I was describing the free things we pick up at the State Fair and it all started sounding vaguely familiar. Sure enough, I wrote about this annual family event back in September of ‘09. So now I’m a little worried that every future post will read like a bad sequel...with the same predictable characters, jaded locales, tired plots. And it may be a slippery slope from there to posts that read like cheap dime-store novels and People magazine articles. I apologize up front if that happens.

So yes, a couple of weekends ago, 18 of those same old family members put in another appearance at the fair. Actually, we did have one new face because Emily met us there with a new friend from college named Jordan. (I believe the better sequels introduce new and interesting characters to the mix, so we’ll try that approach here.) And Jordan was soon as enthralled as the rest of us with all the cool fair stuff…like the life-size butter sculpture, the seriously oversized watermelons, and the rows and rows of chickens in cages. And who wouldn’t be impressed with how adept my sisters are at finding the free stuff? The rest of us just follow them around like puppy dogs, saying, “Hey, where did you get that toothpick holder?” I’m pretty sure Jordan had a good time with that, because she went along quite willingly with Emily to feign interest in a certain community college so they could score some free chapstick.

One new fair event surfaced this year. After enjoying a tasty lunch of homemade Bierocks, apple dumplings, and hot beef sandwiches, we eagerly made our way over to see the “Wild About Monkeys” show. That’s when we discovered this was a hot ticket because all of the bleachers were filled. Not to worry. There was plenty of seating on the grass in front of the stage, and even though a lot of us are too old to be sitting cross-legged on the ground, we weren’t about to pass up a free monkey show. So we sat down to wait.

And that’s when I discovered how extremely hot it was, especially sitting in the full sun, and that’s when the entire grassy area filled up with masses of humanity so that a person couldn’t escape even if he or she wanted to. And that’s when my 3-year-old nephew started slinging a Styrofoam cup around and into a few strangers’ faces. And I think that was the moment when I began to feel HOT AND TRAPPED. But I didn’t complain too much, because naturally I was trying not to embarrass Emily in front of her new friend.

Finally, the show began. And as monkey shows go, it was fairly entertaining…with your usual monkey shenanigans and tricks. But the best part was actually when a bird flew out into the audience and got a dollar bill from a lady and then returned it. I’m guessing the bird’s agent was asleep on the job, or the show would have been billed “Wild about Monkeys AND a Bird”.

If you’ve read my “illustrated” blog on the OC website, you may be wondering why I don’t post pictures on this blog as well. But do you look for illustrations when you read Jane Austen? Or Fyodor Dostoyevsky? I think not. Obviously, this is my “thinking” man’s blog, and that other one is my commercial sell out. Not that they’re paying me, but you know what I mean.

So I was going to do a quick family update…but it’s too late for that. So I’ll think about that tomorrow. The wedding series is still progressing in outline form, but is not quite ready for publication. I haven’t had lunch yet today, but hope to enjoy a nice Gala apple, and some tuna and Wheat Thins when the time comes. Good night!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SO MANY BLOGS, SO LITTLE TIME

Lest you think I have forgotten my first love, or blog, if you will, let me assure you I am not abandoning this ship. But you must understand that I’m still in the honeymoon stage with the OC blog...so I might possibly be dedicating a bit more time and energy over there at the moment.

This business of maintaining two blogs may look glamorous, but let me assure you, it has its dark side. It’s not just the physical demands of writing post after post after post, but there’s a good deal of mental and emotional strain to bear as well. If I write in one, I feel guilty for ignoring the other. I want to be devoted and loyal to both, but there’s only so much of me to go around. This is how I know I could never be a bigamist, or even one of those two-timing wives. The truth is, I can barely keep up with more than one Bingo card at our New Year’s Eve parties, so you can imagine how juggling two blogs is getting to me.

Nevertheless, I am pressing on. I have a rough outline of the Betsy/Thomas wedding posts nearly finished. I even have a working title. How does "NIECE BETSY TAKES A HUSBAND" sound to you? Maybe it’s a bit one-sided, but if Thomas wants more press, he might have to recruit a blogger from his side of the family. Unfortunately, I didn’t even MEET half of his groomsmen, so "that one guy" might be an oft-used phrase in the wedding posts.

But today, I just have a few family notes for you on everyone but Emily, who will of course be dealt with in that "other" blog.

So we’ll start here with Rachel, and I have BIG NEWS about her. She has finally found...and SECURED...her Prince Charming. If you recall, she is dancing the part of Cinderella in the ballet in December, and we were feeling somewhat desperate about her chances of finding a high school boy who was (a) prince-like, (b) willing to dance in a ballet, AND (c) able to bench-press quite a few pounds. But just when we were thinking such a boy did not exist, along came Christian. After the first practice, it was apparent he was our guy because as one of Rachel’s friends put it, "When he picked Rachel up, his face didn’t even turn red!"

In other Rachel news, she continues to act as my personal trainer on a somewhat sporadic basis...basically whenever the mood strikes her. She told me one day that I could burn 100 calories just by drinking a glass of ice water. I told her that couldn’t be true because I drink lots of ice water and don’t lose weight. She just gave me a contemptuous smile. And I use that word only because I recently read this book in which everyone and everything was contemptuous at one time or another. Even a lady’s SHOES are described as contemptuous in one passage. So I thought I’d try it out in my writing.

On to David. Earlier this week, he got his phone taken away by a teacher at school. He was outside the school building walking to his next class, but apparently he still wasn’t supposed to be texting. And I guess it’s no big deal, because when I went to the office to retrieve the phone, they didn’t set me down and tell me I was a bad parent or he was a bad kid or anything. What bothers me is that now there’s a "behavior incident" on his school record, and it’s coded as a CONTRABAND infraction. Last year when Emily forgot her ID badge at school, her behavior incident was recorded as a DRESS CODE infraction. So now the entire school system probably thinks my son is a druggie and my daughter is a skank. And I don’t know how to fight this kind of thing.

Dave is busy training for a triathlon...and stressing over the details. His biggest struggle was in deciding if he needed a wet suit and he kept going to the website and reading posts to me about water temperatures. I didn’t beg him to stop, but I wanted to. He finally ordered a new Speedo swimsuit and we are all hoping it won’t be too revealing.

As for me, I had an interesting dream several weeks ago, where someone (I don’t remember who) was showing me a live, white owl they kept in their freezer. I wanted to tell you about this dream when it happened, but I was in the middle of my wedding series, and didn’t know how to fit it in.

Even my mother would be sick of hearing this by now, because yes, I had tuna and Wheat Thins for lunch again today. Does it help that for dessert, I had some chocolate zucchini bread made by a lady in my office? I hope so.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A NEW ACTION PLAN

I’m free. Free at last. Not that I would ever call my commitment to the wedding series anything like an ALBATROSS. No. I would never do that. But it did require some actual THINKING, and I must admit that I’m happy to go back to my rambling, stream-of-consciousness writing style.

But first, I do have one final post-script on the wedding. I received a lovely thank you note from the HC the other day, and while I found it slightly odd that no mention was made of the wedding series, I couldn’t fault the note in any other way. In fact, it was clearly a cut above your average run-of-the-mill thank you note, being not only extremely thoughtful but also rather lengthy. But while this was all BEYOND sweet, I was troubled by one simple fact. This note was obviously penned by Ben himself. Which started me thinking of course. I mean if he’s got enough time to write notes like this, then chances are he’s not dedicating himself to the study of the causes and treatment of hives. As such, I have decided I better not wait for him to finish med school, and have developed a new two-step action plan for my health care.

First, I am going to get on-line and offer my body to science. I’ve heard that you can volunteer for studies and since I find my case fascinating, I’m pretty sure research scientists will too. If possible, I will try to join a study where the subjects get paid. That way, if they don’t find out what my problem is and how to fix it, then at least it won’t be a complete waste of my time.

And second, I am going to break down and purchase one of those pill organizer things.

I will try to get a family update posted soon, but our biggest news is of course about the emigration of Emily to the far country of Oklahoma. As most of you know, we dropped her off at OC on August 21st and came home to a decidedly emptier house. I miss the little tyke, but she’s happy so I can’t wish her back. If you are a true glutton for punishment, you can read much more about the whole Emily-in-college thing on the parent blog I’m doing for OC. The address is www.blogs.oc.edu/shelley for the diehards among you.

I had two delicious homemade tamales for lunch today, which I bought from a lady who came by our office selling them.

Monday, September 6, 2010

ANATOMY OF A WEDDING - Part 12 of 12 (WHEW!)

The Dance and A Conclusion

WILL THEY OR WON’T THEY?: I believe there was some concern about whether or not anyone would actually USE the dance floor at the wedding...besides Ben and Courtney who were going to do a "first dance", and all those little kids who couldn’t seem to stop running around in circles on it. I don’t know Courtney’s family history with dancing, but I can and will tell you ours.

THE TEEN PREGNANCY ISSUE: My sisters and I did not attend high school dances. Mom didn’t tell us we couldn’t go, but we knew she frowned upon these heathen affairs and so we just said no. After all, everyone knew back then that teenage girls usually got pregnant immediately following a high school dance. Of course my parents were pretty much through with parenting by the time my brothers hit their high school years, so I think they went to as many dances as they wanted. And they didn’t get any girls pregnant so that was good. But they also didn’t bring dancing into vogue within our family. I believe we all still viewed "dancing" as a somewhat shady activity...and one that could possibly lead to all sorts of evil, including the chance of looking stupid in front of your friends. So we just didn’t go there.

DANCE FEVER: But years passed, and the next generation entered the picture. Next thing we knew, my sister Sally was almost forcing her son Zach to go to middle school dances because she thought he was so pathetic sitting at home alone. I think that was the excuse. And my sister Susan followed suit. Soon I had a gaggle of loose-living nephews and nieces attending dance after dance and obviously headed for trouble. But guess what? They all turned out pretty nice after all. Some of them even became...missionaries. True story. Not that they don’t have some bad habits, but I don’t think their tendencies to be bossy and bicker about athletic teams are a direct result of dancing in high school. Nevertheless, this was our first family wedding reception that included a dance floor. And at least one person was heard to say that without any alcohol being served, the dance floor would most likely not be filling up too fast.

DANCING KINGS AND QUEENS: But that person was wrong. True, the dancing started a bit slow but it built to just the right sort of frenzy for a family-oriented wedding reception. Everyone had a good time doing those line dance things where you "slide to the left" and "kick it" and "walk it by yourself" or something like that. And no one did anything even slightly shady...well, unless you count when Luke ACCIDENTALLY backed into someone he shouldn’t have. But these things happen on a crowded dance floor and maybe that’s what my mother was worried about. But the point is, it seemed like good clean fun at the time. And definitely no worse than that Hokey-Pokey number we did at the skating rink when we were kids...with our mom’s full blessing.

PARTING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW: All good things must come to an end...and so it goes with all wedding series blog posts. Ha ha. I’m just kidding. I meant that the actual wedding was the GOOD THING that had to come to an end. So the bouquet was tossed (to my Emily I might add) and the garter was slung (I didn’t register to whom), and the HC were sent off in a shower of sparks from a sparkler-wielding crowd. And I seem to recall even a fireworks display...unless I’m confusing the wedding with our 4th of July outing several weeks later. But I don’t think I am. Because I think my 14-year-old son was one of the lighters of the fireworks and I hope that wasn’t some kind of illegal activity, but it’s a little too late to worry about that now.

LOVE AND A LITTLE BIT MORE: According to the Beatles...or maybe Lynden David Hall...All you Need is Love. I think that song played at some point during the wedding which is why I’m mentioning it here. And while it’s a nice sentiment, it’s not really true of course. In the case of this wedding, in addition to a goodly amount of love, Ben and Courtney needed a truly gorgeous venue, an army of family and friends, and some tasty donuts and snow cones, among other things, to make their special day come together.

DREAM SEQUENCES IN GENERAL: Several winters ago, Luke and Amanda made a car trip to Kansas during which the following three things happened simultaneously:

1. A gentle snow was falling,
2. A Christmas song was playing on the radio, AND
3. They spotted some deer frolicking (their word, not mine) in a field by the side of the road.

Each of the individual elements of this moment was nice, but they called the combination a "dream sequence". Shortly thereafter, as we are wont to do, our family began to not only overuse that phrase, but we also tended to misapply it. I mean it’s nice to find a forgotten toothpick in your purse right after a chips and salsa binge at Ranchito, but I think we can all agree it doesn’t qualify as a Dream Sequence.

DREAM SEQUENCES, SPECIFICALLY: So I hope no one will accuse me of being trite when I say that this particular wedding weekend qualified as being the ultimate in Dream Sequences. Because all the elements certainly combined to make it one. Which is nice because the problem with weddings for people like Ben and Courtney is that there probably won’t be any do-overs. They needed to get it right the first time, and I think they succeeded. And now we just get to wait and see what the future holds for the HC. And which side of the family the future little Hawleys will resemble the most. My bet must be with the Hawley side because they seem to have some dominant features. Courtney probably didn’t think about that when she said yes to Ben. And I for one am glad she didn’t.

So that concludes my tale of one wedding. I truly hope that I am not another Harper Lee. You know she only published the one novel (To Kill a Mockingbird) and the success of it so overwhelmed her that she never wrote another. But I don’t think that will happen to me. No matter how popular my first wedding series happens to be (and I know for a fact that at least 5 people waited anxiously for each installment), I am still committed to giving you the story of the Betsy/Thomas nuptials.

But for now, I must take a short break from weddings in general and give you some family news. So looking ahead, here are the titles of some of my next few blog posts which have been preempted by the wedding series:

1. My Jumbo-Sized Summer Vacation
2. The Wreck of the Jeep Liberty
3. The Pumpkin-Whisperer (revisited)
4. A More Efficient Way to Read a Classic, like The Fountainhead

If those titles don’t bring you back for more, I don’t know what will.

We were invited to a fish fry for lunch today...and not only was the fish PERFECT in every way, but the side dishes brought by the other guests were scrumptious as well. I made that lovely sweet coleslaw with whipping cream, but first I had to call around to get the recipe because my Haven Cookbook has gone MISSING. I don’t cook much so I tend to misplace recipes now and again. But I think this might be the first time I’ve lost a whole cookbook. To make matters worse, after the fish fry I went to pick up my dish, and it had turned up missing too. I’m sure the missing cookbook has nothing to do with the missing coleslaw, but it’s disturbing all the same. Because I was looking forwarding to eating the leftover slaw.