She traveled farther than I did to get there. She had been decked out in some pretty fine cloth. She was due to arrive just in time for the event, for which she planned to be a prominent player. She started out the week of the wedding and all would have been well had it not been for the tire that exploded on the first day of the journey.
It was pretty bad – actually blew a huge hole in the wheel well. But four new tires later, and a quick clean up after the trip was finished, she was in place and no one was the wiser. She wasn’t the bride. She was the bride’s Airstream and this was not her first adventure, although it may have been her first wedding. We don’t know.
The venue was the Seattle Arboretum, Wisteria Hall. The day was July 24th, 2021 and it couldn’t have been nicer weather. Esther and Ryan had been planning their celebration of marriage since the summer before, when it was twice cancelled because of the pandemic. For the second time since COVID19 became a household word, I was mother of the bride.
The plan was to keep things simple and meaningful, and to share it with as many of their friends and family as were able to come. The husband and I traveled five days by car to get there. We were determined to be present and didn’t have near as much trouble as the Airstream did.
There were many things about this wedding that were non-traditional, and yet it had the important features:
The whole wedding script was unique to my daughter Esther and her Ryan. Never mind that there was no bevy of women wearing matching dresses that they would never wear again. Never mind that pizza and pie took the place of wedding cake.
Never mind that instead of musicians and soloists there were mothers, reading poetry especially chosen for this occasion.
At the end we were all invited to pronounce them husband and wife, and we did. Bubbles floated everywhere around us as they walked, arm in arm, back to the Airstream to sign official documents.
The happiness continued during the pizza party reception and the dancing. Yes, the dancing. It was pretty wild and joyous at times. We are just that kind of people.
To love, to commit, to live together, to help each other grow and thrive. Marriage. Esther Armstrong and Ryan Bruels. July 24, 2021
The “process”, as one reader said it, of putting on a wedding concludes in this post. The post is long, but ends well, and we all need happy endings in this pandemic year. You will see the beginning of a love story in the videothat closes out the post. Don’t miss it!
Next up was the bridal shower. There’s just something so celebratory about a bridal shower that there has to be one. The groom’s family not only has an expert event host mom, but also three sisters-in-law so you know they have experience in bridal showers. Decorations, fancy (delicious) food, friends from different walks of life, and semi-embarrassing shower games to make the bride-to-be blush a bit. Perfect. I was glad to be on the scene for this.
The next week was busy for me. It was the week that I finished the alterations on the wedding gown and broke my wrist, thankfully in that order. It was also the week we started watching Hurricane Delta head toward Louisiana. The beautiful fall weather we had been having was predicted to turn into a tropical depression and pass over the wedding venue on the day of the wedding. I got a little nervous since we had no plan for an indoor ceremony. I added another small tent (the only one available) to our order and the rental company brought them both out a day early. They didn’t want to risk putting them up in the rain.
Thursday and Friday were bordering on hectic. Pop up tents had been borrowed and the decision was made to keep all the smaller shelters bordering the main tent where the reception would be held. The ceremony was still going to be planned for the open field. I didn’t count, but all the tents got moved at least twice as the configuration changed from one moment to the next. People were arriving to help trim trees, hang lights, and set up tables. The large diesel tractor, doing some landscaping work, stalled and quit right next to the proposed buffet serving area. So in the midst of this, the bride and several of her girlfriends who had arrived early for the rehearsal that night, did what girls in bridal parties do – they escaped to high tea at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro. What a nice relief!
The rehearsal in the late afternoon and the dinner following got a couple more rituals checked off our list. We all met the minister with the Scottish brogue, and got put in our places, including the baby donkey chosen as the ring bearer. As he was pulled down the aisle, resisting all the way, another layer of risk seemed obvious. The weather might not be the only wild card.
Saturday dawned, the day of the wedding. At this point, there were so many details yet to be decided and attended to that it could have been frightening. It was raining lightly. I can only tell you that I had an unreasonable peace and trust that it would all come together, because the concerns had been given to God and I knew he meant to give Julia a good wedding. I left to get myself and the father of the bride dressed.
I couldn’t have imagined the changes that took place – all the beautiful flowers that arrived, and the astounding transformation in the reception tent and the field where the ceremony was to be. Family and friends had pitched in to create a miracle. And the rain had let up, giving us a brief window of dryness.
As we watched the weather radar, the ceremony started. At one point, a song was omitted from the program to speed things along. During the last five minutes we began to feel an occasional raindrop. But it wasn’t until we were dismissed and headed to the safety of the reception tent that the rain really began in earnest. By that time we were so in awe of the beauty of the ceremony and the happiness of the bride and groom, and the timing of it all, that no one cared. Let it rain.
Again, an amazing video captured most of the best moments for us and I share it with you here. You will see us dancing, which was one of the bride’s “must have” features of this celebration. We feasted and danced as the North Carolina rain ran under the edges of the big white tent and met the red clay soil of River Bend Farm. It was wonderful.
Tonight I am at the sewing machine. I’m remodeling a dress for North Carolina daughter. I can’t be sure it will fit her but I have a fair idea of what is needed. I’m praying with every seam that it will turn out well. I think the prayer will be answered and I’m sewing with confidence.
The material is satin. It’s creamy white and soft and surprisingly different from today’s satin, because it is 70 years old. Seventy years ago, my grandmother sat sewing with this same fabric. She was a skilled seamstress, making a wedding dress for her daughter. Her daughter was a different size than my daughter so I have taken the dress apart to resize and change the design a bit. I have to admire her work. She was careful, and gave attention to details. It was a beautiful dress. I have seen it in the pictures of my mother’s wedding.
Expectations of what wedding dresses should look like have changed so much from 1950. I don’t know what they are making them out of these days that they should cost thousands of dollars, but I know the one my grandmother worked on was made out of love (and satin, and lace).
The work on this project has been an emotional experience for me. I take apart a seam and realize that was thread put there by her machine. Her hands touched the fabric in this very place as she guided it under the needle. She probably peered closely at that button as she sewed it on, just as I am as I remove it. We are linked, she and I, by many things that aren’t tangible, but this dress can be touched and felt. The whole idea is kind of eerie, almost sacred, to me.
And our daughters, the one who wore it so long ago and the one who will wear it next month, they are also linked by the same dress. Mothers and daughters, four women, seventy years, one dress. I love it. It has specialness that can’t be bought.
But as I said, we will see if it fits and seems appropriate for the ceremony. At the least, it will be in a picture. And to some of us, it will look beautiful. Just sayin’…
To me, a landmark is a memorable object or moment marking a significant change in direction. A couple of whirlwind days (and nights) have resulted in what I would call landmark moments. In fact, it seems there have been amazing events, one after the other, most of the month as we progressed toward the listing of our house for sale. The most satisfying deadline came this morning – the taking of the pictures.
As scheduled the photographer was here at 7 am. That’s really quite early for people who are still living in their home to be ready, completely staged and photograph worthy. Clearly we were those people who weren’t quite there. Our realtors arrived and helped us hurry around and clear last minute items (the morning coffee cup), unfinished cleaning (the windows in the re-roofed area), and stuff we just plain forgot (the vacuum cleaner left in the middles of the floor). All this in a great hurry because the sun was coming up and putting a whole different light on things that wasn’t as photo friendly.
After we got out of his way, the photographer did a video panning the neighborhood and then proceeding through the house, to show the general layout. click here for video tour
Multiple listing service allows a video and 25 stills. This didn’t allow for shots of the garages. We were thankful. That’s where we hid all the personal things that didn’t belong in the pictures (think like a giant junk drawer).
We, on the other hand, got taken to a much-needed breakfast. This was the first time in several days that I’d actually sat at a table for more than five minutes. We signed the listing papers over our coffee cups. It was a landmark moment.
Another thing that made this a landmark day was later, watching two of my favorite “friends” go down the road to a new home.
One of the days that our realtor helped us as a handyman, he noticed my kayak and asked about it. He wanted to get one for his wife, so we bartered for his labor. Also, we had decided that we wouldn’t need my car in our new location and would sell it. In another conversation he asked about my husband’s truck. It wasn’t for sale but when he found out I wanted to sell the car, we immediately began to discuss that. He needed a “first car” for his daughter.
That’s how it turned out that after our signing breakfast, we went back to the oneacrewoods, put the kayak on top of the Mazda, and drove down to his house to complete the sale. I followed in the truck and took this picture.
Changes seem to be coming fast. I’m now a truck girl. Although I don’t have my boat anymore, I can still rent a kayak if I want to. More likely, I’m going to concentrate on hiking plans. And the biggest change, of course, is that we will probably not be living in Florida much longer.
Both my daughters are risk takers and dream followers, not every day in every way, but when it matters. It mattered recently that new life be given to an old dream, which is how youngest daughter, Esther, became owner of a 1972 Airstream. To be clear, it’s 27 feet of aluminum, pull behind, live in trailer with softly rounded corners for streamline movement. You all know what I’m talking about.
Where do we get notions like this? How do these dreams come about? We don’t always know, but when they’ve been around in our thoughts for years it becomes exciting to move on them, finally. Esther found Sylvia Path (subsequently named) at a dealership. They wanted to try out all the systems and appliances before she took possession, and part of her contract was ongoing help, coaching, should she need it. The dealer agreed to deliver her purchase to her when everything was checked out. She sent the cushions and mattress to an upholsterer – the first of several planned upgrades.
Having an Airstream in your backyard is kind of a trendy thing in many parts of the country (usually where it is warm enough to winter over in one). Many people don’t travel with them. They use them for an extra room, or rent the space for extra income. Many people just like to restore a beautiful piece of equipment for the joy of doing it. Esther wants to do all of these, but first, the challenge of where to put it and the actual move.
Esther assured me she had talked with the dealership about her plan to park the Airstream in her driveway. They had assured her it was possible in a “no problem” kind of way that guys often rely on. I wasn’t so sure, but I’m only an interested observer. There were a couple of delivery dates that got rescheduled and with each one, we began to get more anxious about the steep hills, narrow streets and small final destination. An ornamental tree had been cut to clear the way. In her mind’s eye, the Airstream was neatly parked against her fence with the door and canopy opening out on the cement drive, herself sitting inside writing her first memoir, a best seller.
On the Monday after Christmas, we finally saw Sylvia coming down the street behind a pick-up truck and ran out to greet her. But as we found out, the men delivering her had either not understood, or not believed Esther’s description. Turns out, they can’t really put it anywhere you want it, only where they can drive it with the truck. Backing in was the only option. Here is how it went – on the second try. (click link for 3 minute YouTube video)
The mind’s eye is the perfect place for a re-do. What you thought would happen can get changed to what actually happened with a minimum of cost and energy. The rest of the delivery process went smoothly as the trailer was leveled, electricity was connected, and the propane heater demonstration successfully concluded.
My first contribution to Sylvia was to remove the lavender bush we were trampling to get to the door, and place some stepping stones to keep us out of the mud. Esther is going to save pictures of the inside for the before/after shoots, because there is work to be done. It may be a while before the completion, but the dream has begun, and that’s what counts.
Birthday (not what you were expecting?). The one day of the year when a person should do something bold, rejuvenating, uncharacteristic of normal activity, all in an effort to offset the fact that another year has come and gone. I have no idea what to do this year, except I’d like to avoid eating being the focus. I’d prefer activity at little or no cost – the perfect combination – with a token of remembrance of some sort. Other years it’s been kayaking, or an epic hike or bike ride. So far there is nothing on my schedule for that day except semi-annual AC tune up by the Cool-It Man. I don’t know what I was thinking when they called.
I was doing something memorable on April 2 thirty-two years ago. It had to do with “birthday” as well, but not my own. On that day our family went from three to four in number. As much as we could, we were trying to keep you (you know who you are) from life-long April Fools jokes, and there you were a few minutes after midnight, cooperative as usual. Today my heart celebrates you and EVERYTHING you have added to my life. All my love and Happy Birthday (!!), Mom
My Mom loves to garden. I call her Grandma sometimes because I have talked to my children about her for years and years. She is their grandma, my mom, Gwendolyn Boone Smith. Gwendolyn who never had a middle name and didn’t need one because her first name was long enough for two. Grandma keeps saying […]
Two things that are said to be certain, and I add, equally unwelcome. By taxes, I mean filing a tax return and then finding out that an enormous sum of money is owed.
I don’t even do the filing for our little family of two. The husband does it with the help of a computer program. It asks the questions and he fills in the blanks with our information as best he can. Once in a while it does get confusing however, and whether it was human error or a computer glitch we can’t be sure. A mistake was made and went unnoticed for a couple years and since it was a mistake in our favor, we wanted to correct it this year before filing. Back in April when it was due, we weren’t ready so the husband filed for an extension. The deadline was last Tuesday.
We all put off things we don’t like to do, so I am totally not mad at the husband. I actually thought he had done it because he did talk about it several times. Monday before THE Tuesday, I came home from an evening meeting, ready to get to bed and he said the words that make my blood run cold every time I hear them. “I’m going to prepare the tax return tonight. I need you to pull some files.”
We have two filing systems between us. He keeps everything, in it’s original envelope, no matter how stuffed the file gets. I throw everything away that I don’t think we need based on very little actual knowledge of what is needed. Neither one of us can find anything. Nevertheless, I always get asked where things are. That’s when I pretend to riffle through the file cabinet for a minute and then run away when he’s not looking. Really, I had to get to bed so I could go to work the next day.
I thought it would be all done by the time I got home the next day, D-day, but it was still going on. There were questions, dates to be reckoned, receipts to be found, decisions to be made and folders and piles of relevant paper everywhere. In the midst of it all, and at the height of the dread, I came to a realization that we could do better than this. Maybe if I started now 2013 could be a different kind of year. I could have all the records ready, in one place. Maybe we could be done in one night. How awesome would that be? (Very awesome.)
So I did start. I went through the box of random receipts, the BRR, where three years worth of contents of purses and pockets were stored. Did you know that they make those things with disappearing ink? I have promised myself that I will not save another receipt without writing the category of the purchase, the price and the date on the top. I am on the learning curve and liking it.
The husband did finish the job – at 11:58 pm, because he didn’t want to wait until the last minute. We owed money and it’s going to be a painful month. I’m just sayin’… death and taxes.