Another Pandemic Wedding!

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 beautiful bride
The handsome groom
The vows and promises
The rapt audience
The laughter and happy tears

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.

Yeah, it’s pizza (good pizza).

Never mind that instead of musicians and soloists there were mothers, reading poetry especially chosen for this occasion.

Mom (me) reading Mary Oliver

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.

Tables set for a feast
I didn’t say it was only pizza.

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.

Wild girl.

To love, to commit, to live together, to help each other grow and thrive. Marriage. Esther Armstrong and Ryan Bruels. July 24, 2021

Dreams Don’t Die (do they?)

Just this morning I was reading a friend’s blog post (Click here for a great read) about dreams that have come, gone away, and then reappeared later in life. (Dreams, as in things you would love to do someday, not the crazy stuff that happens when you sleep.) The post ended with “What revived dreams have surprised you lately?” And, wouldn’t you know it, I had a ready answer.

All my life I have loved to camp out. One of the first birthday surprises that I remember, when I was 7 or 8, was looking out the window and seeing that my dad had put up a tent in the front yard for me. It was an old army tent without a floor, but I spent a lot of time in it that summer.

Since then I’ve done some hiking and camping out with more sophisticated tents and equipment, always enjoying it, but with the thought that I would someday like to have a camper. A small house on wheels. Open the door and step in.

The dream was kind of on the back burner for years. A camper was not the most expedient thing financially, and my husband didn’t take time for vacations. I looked at tiny houses online, watched videos of women who built their own tiny houses on trailers, and rode my bike through Florida trailer parks checking out the campers regularly.

When my husband retired and got a diagnosis of dementia, I took the dream off the burner altogether and turned off the stove. Even getting up one or two steps into a camper was difficult for him, let alone moving around comfortably in a space the size of a closet. The dream cooled off considerably.

Since moving to Wisconsin, I have found myself living a short distance from an RV sales lot. The logical thought “you’re never going to have one of these” didn’t keep me from looking at them all multiple times during the summers. I had my favorites, a line called Vintage with cool retro colors inside and out. But they were a little bigger than I wanted to deal with by myself, and pretty soon they were all sold. Now, due to the shortages of the pandemic year, the lot is nearly empty.

These are soooo cute!

And then I saw a Scamp. A neighbor bought the cutest little pod I have ever seen, just perfect for two people to have a place to eat and sleep. I didn’t really feel envy, because I knew the whole idea would not work for me, but I had trouble keeping the lid on the dream. Yes, I did. That Scamp sat where I could see it all summer. I kept dreaming she was going to invite me to take it camping for a weekend. That didn’t happen and now it is winterized and in storage.

I don’t know why I look at Facebook Marketplace, but every now and then I go there. Last week, I nearly keeled over with surprise with what came up on that feed – an AIRSTREAM BAMBI!!! For $1200. No, I thought. That can’t be. You can’t even buy a piece of an Airstream for that price. So I sent an inquiry to find out what was going on. I emailed my daughter, who owns a couple Airstreams and asked what she thought. There was skepticism.

Nothing happened until two days later, after the weekend, when I got an email back. It was real. She was a woman, she had a reason for selling it cheap, she wrote like an American, and had all the facts. What if God had decided to give me the longing of my heart?!! It would be just like him to make it an Airstream! I emailed my daughter again, thinking that maybe I should jump on this. There was skepticism.

Airstream Bambi, these are absolutely the coolest (my opinion).

While I was thinking this over, I scrolled through Marketplace again. Oddly, there was another Airstream Bambi, from a different seller, same price. What a coincidence. When I found a third I couldn’t help but wonder why the market was being flooded with cheap Airstreams. I wrote the seller asking that question. I also suggested that she should get together with the other Bambi owners when she got to her station in Alaska. Maybe they would want to start a scammer club or something…

You know, it really is hard to kill a dream, even when I know it isn’t practical, feasible, or reasonable (or possible). It just won’t die, and I will probably keep giving it backward glances until my final day. Meanwhile, I still have a tent, and a backyard, and maybe that’s right where I belong. P.S. I’m not saying I would refuse if someone wanted to give me one. You know what I’m sayin?

Ordinary Times and Travels: Airstream, post 8

At the dealership – sight love.

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.

Yeah, this is where it has to go and there are some big rocks here…

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.

You’re kidding, right?

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.

Obviously, there is no door on this side.

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.


To be continued (but do not hold your breath).

Ordinary Times and Travels: PNW Christmas, post 6

The last couple of days have been quiet, marked by only a few happenings, and one big non-happening.

Sylvia, the Airstream, did not come on Saturday as scheduled. The dealer decided he had something more important to do on Christmas Eve day. Imagine that. We are still hoping for some day next week, before I have to leave. I want to be here to welcome the new addition. Esther has named it Sylvia Plath after one of her favorite poets (Aaack! I’ve been edited. It’s Sylvia Path, because it’s wittier.). She is having fun thinking about upholstery fabric for the cushions and other upgrades she wants to make inside. Did you know that refurbishing older Airstreams is a trend these days? It goes along with the tiny house movement, and glamping. Like other trendy movements, you can find books and blogs and videos about how to do it.

What did arrive on Saturday was our Amazon Fresh order. A little before 8 the large green truck came down our street and stopped several houses away. I was up, dressed, waiting for it so I came out to flag down the driver. Esther does not have her house numbers up since her paint job this summer and I figured he might have trouble. He brought the two coolers and two paper grocery bags to the door. I asked him if he liked his job with Amazon and he didn’t actually say yes or no, but he didn’t complain, and he did smile. He said he would have to wait a few minutes to leave because our delivery wasn’t scheduled until 8 and they track him with GPS.

Unloading the groceries in the house, I marveled at how carefully they were packaged. Delicate fruits were wrapped and bagged separately. The coolers with the vegetables were packed with ice, and the one with the ground meat had dry ice. Everything was in good condition, and there were instructions on recycling all the packaging. Someone did all this work for us (more carefully than I ever would have) and it was delivered to our door in less than a day at a price that was not noticeably more than if we had gone to the store ourselves. How can they do this? I don’t know.

I did a lot of cooking that day, trying out a couple Paleo recipes. I liked them both and Esther like one of them – the one without meat, of course.  It’s called “Nomato Sauce” because it has no tomatoes, but is used like tomato sauce. Tomatoes are one of the eliminated foods, that commonly cause inflammation (nightshade family – even sounds deadly, right?) It’s a beautiful colored sauce because it is made with beets and carrots. This combination even tastes a bit like tomatoes and that really surprised me.

Last night we made a fire in the fireplace and watched National Lampoon: Family Christmas (I  know, I know…). It was a different kind of Christmas Eve than I normally have, but it was good. Good to be with a daughter, in safety, in pleasant surroundings. I always have mixed feelings about Christmas celebration, not because the birth of Jesus wasn’t a thing worthy of celebration, but because we’ve made it to be so not about that. We’ve combined so many other traditions and stories that it’s a holiday for everyone, even if they don’t know anything about Christ. Why don’t we just have a winter holiday with pretty lights and presents and celebrate Jesus’ birthday some other time, like in the fall when it probably really happened?

Christmas Day was also quiet, except for the early morning call from the husband that the septic system was backed up again. Really?! On Christmas Day?! He got to work and the crisis was short lived, but I have to thank him for sharing it with me.

Youngest daughter, Esther, photo bombing…

We took an evening walk, bundled up in every way possible. I had to gawk at the male runner who passed us with shorts and no shirt on in 35 degree weather. Seattle has its own brand of craziness. Later tonight, we plan to visit a church where a men’s chorus regularly gives performances. This is also reported to be a bit different from the norm, in that people bring blankets to wrap themselves in and hot drinks to sip while taking in the concert, inside the church. I am glad that life is interesting. I am happy to be in Seattle. I am happy. Hope you are too, Merry Christmas.

Puget Sound. I love these soft, sad colors.

December in the PNW: Ordinary Times and Travels, post 1

I am preparing to leave in the morning for Christmas in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t have an aversion to spending holidays at home, really. Home is my favorite place to be, followed closely by any place where my family is located. Youngest daughter is in Seattle so that will be a good place to spend the last half of December. She and I can break in the “new to her” old Airstream that has recently joined her family and keep each other company over that time of year when no one wants to be alone.


I have a bit of trepidation, rather I should say my mom and the husband have a bit of trepidation, over what home will be like in my absence. They have both promised each other not to have to cook for anyone other than themselves and to eat when they want to eat. Even now they have gone off to Walmart and are probably abandoning my paleo diet regimen at McDonalds. Cooking is just too much work, but eating is simple, if you know what there is to eat. Anyway, for two weeks they are on their own.


I have not been to Seattle in winter that I can recall. Youngest daughter is sending me texts of the weather report and planning some yard work for me in between the rain and snow forecasts for the week – the whole week. I am getting out clothing that I have not worn since I lived in Wisconsin thirty years ago. I still have the stuff, yes I do. And the cool thing is that most of it is now back in style. Even though I have seen those temps in the 30’s and 40’s it’s still hard to sit here in 85 degree weather and think sweaters. I have snow boots. Oddly enough, I found them on sale here in Florida and couldn’t resist getting them because they fit me. I’m counting on them to keep my feet warm and dry when I tramp around in Schmitz Park, maybe with Charlie.

I say maybe, because I saw a picture of Charlie yesterday and he has no hair anymore.  Some over-zealous groomer practically shaved him and now he will be shivering, unless Grandma gets him a doggie coat. Poor thing.


And the question in my mind that I can’t wait to have answered is how on earth does all that Seattle traffic work in snow? Youngest daughter told me she decided to ignore “road closed” barriers during the last snowfall and practically slid all the way to her house. Evidently a lot of roads need to be closed when it’s slippery because they are almost too steep to negotiate when it’s dry – and I  know it to be so.

I need some accountability on this trip and will welcome it from anyone. Please make me feel really guilty if I don’t take my vitamins. Normally, they travel with me, and then they travel back home and I eventually eat them.  But because I’ve recently had a respiratory virus and don’t want it to relapse, I need to be especially diligent and eat them while I’m there in Seattle. I will be in an airplane (think virus capsule), sharing air with way too many people and it will be cold and wet when I arrive. I’m one of those people who would rather get the flu than get a flu shot, but to be clear, I’d rather not have either one. Here’s hoping…