Tuesday, October 17, 2017

October wedding...

The wedding happened, wonderfully.
October 15 dawned misty and turned to rain, but that passed and left us with a cool but perfectly fine day to celebrate.  Our efforts all came together and the place looked welcoming, whimsical,
 and warm.

 The flower girls were precious.
 The bride radiant.

And there were the most amazing flowers. Evans lovely aunt and cousins brought flowers in vases and old blue Mason jars and galvanized tubs. Little pots filled with rosemary (for remembrance!) brightened the tables. Their arrangements took my breath away.

 Friend Danie decided to make even the powder room special, and festooned it with roses everywhere. Perfection.
And she thought the bride and groom needed to be immortalized with enormous caricatures. 

 I love this image of my handsome Chris, captured in the wonderful old mirror we hung in the garage.

We had twinkle lights and other lights and we even...

hung lovely lace over the utilitarian florescent bulbs on the garage ceiling, elevating them to something rather magical.

Despite a few frosts, my gardens still boasted riotous blossoms.

The tent and linen dressed tables made things look quite festive. 

We had plenty of food, and wine and home brewed beer and champagne and soda and cider and coffee and everything.

Abraham sported a bow tie (made by the talented Barbara Ford!) and let all the children sit on his broad, fuzzy, back.  He loves kids.
The wedding cake was as delicious as it was beautiful, and was topped by a vintage cake topper which has previous graced the grooms maternal grandparents cake, as well as his parents cake, and many other family members wedding and anniversary cakes.  A sweet tradition.

 We got a little silly and made the newlyweds milk a goat. Because, well, why not?
I only cried a little, tiny, bit, but was deeply moved watching my beloved pledge her love to her beloved.  Chris and I held hands, hard, as we watched the milestone moment.
And now the wedding is over and sweet memories of a special event remain. I am steeped in gratitude to all the kind family members and friends who worked so hard to make it all happen.

 The couple is off on a lovely honeymoon, and a whole new chapter is beginning.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Crunch time...

The wedding is three days away. It will be the culmination of 6 months of plotting and planning.  And we have enjoyed it all SO much.  The "to do" list is in good shape, peppered with happy little red check marks.   However, it looks like a party came and threw up all over my dining room...
Stacks of dishes, serving platters and pieces, ruffled dog collars, cases of wine, boxes of bows, bean pots filled with silverware, a big ol' coffee pot, games to play and even... I hesitate to tell you, a donkey pinata.  Yes, it's going to be that kind of a wedding.

Chris took the day off today and smoked 4 enormous hunks of pork. He started early in the morning and finished at dusk. 10 or more hours on the smoker, the yard redolent with the smell of apple wood and slow cooked meat.  He will cook 4 more tomorrow, and I get to enjoy the scent all over again.  We carved a bit of the meltingly tender meat off tonight and tasted it... extraordinary!

And may I say, I'm a little bit proud of my prior planning.  In June I arranged to have the septic tanked pumped so it will be ready for the onslaught of a lot of guests. This is the sort of detail one must be aware of when they live in the country. Tank pumping happened this morning. Let me check one more thing off my list.
I had hoped for a big rain (we have been in a drought all summer) to settle the dust and help make the place smell a bit more fresh. We had that last weekend.  I had hoped for some pretty fall colors.
Got those now, too. And we had hoped the unseasonably warm weather would cool a bit so the hearty meal, cozy fire rings and hot mulled wine we have planned would be appealing. The forecast says we are on track for that.  Could God be smiling on our soiree? If so, he is laughing about this...

Chris tried on his one and only sports coat a week ago. He has lost so much weight it no longer fit.  Since he works in (almost) the city, I suggested he go buy a new one.  Rachel (smart woman that she is) thought she should drive in and go with him, to offer a bit of feminine guidance.  She and I were picturing him in a nice navy blue blazer.  He, on the other hand, gravitated towards this:

She sent me the picture with a text message that said "I told him 'NO' in a firm voice." I raised her well.

Today was my last day of grooming for a bit. Tomorrow I will clean the grooming studio, and get a pre-wedding manicure, and muck out goat and pony cozy and the chicken coops. I have some other things to do, as well, and will, working towards the big day.  All of the efforts are almost at an end, and now the realization is dawning, it's going to be an excellent party. Chris said today, "It's like our  A List of favorite people, all coming together for one day." We are shifting gears from getting ready to getting ready to have a wonderful time with some amazing people.  And Chris will NOT be wearing that ugly jacket. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wedding ring gift...

Every day Rachel, her fiance, and I are stunned by the kindness and generosity of people in regards to the upcoming wedding.  Kind, thoughtful, generous gifts have been flowing in, some from very unexpected sources. Customers have added $50-100 to their checks with a little note, "Congratulations!" and never said a word. We gasp when we see what they have done, and more than a few happy tears have squeaked out of our amazed eyes.  Some of the gifts have been home made with great care and love. Things destined to be family heirlooms. Here is one example.

Months ago my sister-in-law, Brenda, and her daughter, Lisa, asked if Rachel and Evans might like a quilt as a wedding gift. They are talented quilters, and of course the answer was a gratitude filled, "YES." Some sample quilt pictures were sent, both of beautiful patterns.  Rachel said, "I wonder if they could make a wedding ring quilt?"  I passed that thought along and was told that wedding ring quilts are very challenging.  I said, "OK, forget that plan," but was told that if the bride wanted a wedding ring quilt, she should have one.  Months went by and I heard bits and pieces of just how tricky this quilt was turning out to be.  They had never made one before, and all the pieces are cut with curved edges, and there are thousands of them.  It sounded grim and I felt quite awful that they were having to undertake such a challenging project. But at the same time, we were very excited to see what their creative efforts would produce.

Last week a large box was delivered by our lovely mail lady.

We could hardly wait to open it.

Big enough for a queen sized bed, it was a serious armful. The soft, vintage colors of the fabric delighted us both.

And the precious binding on the scalloped edges was just too perfect.

The love and care and artistry that went into this gift looks and feels like pure love.  What a wonderful thing to give to celebrate a lifelong union. 

(Another hand-made wonder was delivered the same week... but I will write about that one after the wedding when I have photos of it doing what it is meant to do.  Here is a tease, it's stunning!)

The outpouring of love and kindness around this wedding has made the planning for the event such a joy for all of us. We feel most blessed.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Grump be gone...

I have few real talents, but one thing I tend to be very, VERY good at is sleeping. I sleep well, and happily and wake up in a good mood almost every day.  It's a gift.  Last night I had a horrible nights sleep, with dreadful nightmares and hours spent twisting uncomfortably.  I finally fell into a deep sleep around 5 AM and then woke, late, at 6:30 and in a dreadful mood.  Even milking the goats didn't cheer me up.  I was doing chores and thinking to myself, "I have got to get a grip on my mood or it is going to be a very long day!"  Just then my phone twitched.  There was a message from my friend Brenda, "Would today be a good day to come help you in your yard?"  My bad mood vanished in a blink.

Last year, after I dislocated my shoulder, I couldn't keep up with yard work and things got to looking rather shabby.  I thought of Brenda, an amazing gardener, and asked her if she could help me out.  She is about my age, but has a thousand times more energy than I do, and skill and know-how when it comes to working with plants. In mere hours she accomplished more than I could have in a long weekend, even with two working shoulders.  And not only did she do the things I asked, she had this odd intuition and fixed things that were bother me but which I never mentioned.  It was like she was in my brain.  She zips from task to task, looking quite happy and leaving beauty and order in her wake. And as if all this were not enough, she is just so much FUN to be around. It's a treat to have her here. I have asked her back several times since. and my yard has never looked nicer.

A few weeks ago I asked if she could come help get ready for the wedding.  And this was why she messaged me this morning.  She pulled up at 9:00 on the dot, all perky and vibrating with energy.
First she trimmed some branches on the trees where the wedding ceremony will take place.  Then she cut down all the tired hosta plants from around the apple tree. She carried them in huge armfuls and tossed them over the fence where the goats had a party gobbling them down.  That task done she moved on to the pumpkin patch.  The leaves and vines were wilted from two good frosts, and she pulled them all up and hauled them off.  Leaving the fruit glowing on the ground.

25 or so pumpkins were harvested and displayed along the deck rail.

Next she turned her attention to the little "dog house" roof that is over our main entrance.  The underside of it was grimy and housed spider webs and small, abandoned wasp nests.  She climbed up on a ladder and scrubbed the painted wood until it shone.  I never imagined that spot could look so nice.

Meanwhile, a few weeks back I was showing a customer/friend some things in my house I was working on. She noticed and commented on two antique alabaster lamps I had recently bought.  "I have a little one like these, want it?"  she asked.  I really, really, did.  She brought it yesterday, and today I placed it in it's new home.  A dear little antique pine chest that was my mothers and my grandmothers before that.  I could not love this little lamp more than I do. It has a pretty shade and a wonderful little finial, too. I am so lucky.

Not a reason in the world to be grumpy when I am surrounded by all the wonderful people in my life. And tonight I will sleep sweetly and wake happy.  And tomorrow will be a terrific day.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chanel's big adventure...

Chanel is 31 and pretty sedentary, as horses go.

She rarely moves at any speed faster than a walk, and if she does break into a trot, it's only for a few steps.  But last weekend she had a little adventure.

I had let her into the back yard so she could do a little grounds keeping for me.  She is a multi service provider; she mows, edges and fertilizes!  She was happily going about her work when daughter Rachel and her fiance came over.  Chris hurried Evans out into the garage, because he wanted to show him the rockin' new speakers he bought for the upcoming wedding.  Evans left the "people door" open for a moment, and just then Chris hit the button and the electric garage doors rolled up.  Chanel, being a bit nosy, slipped in through the people door and out through the garage doors.  I was in the house, but just coming out, and there  my wondering eyes  saw my horse and my Bravo pup merrily crossing the street in front of our home.  Bravo is very rule oriented, and he knew that the horse was NOT doing what she should, so he was hot on her heels. I am pretty sure I uttered a cuss word or two.

Chanel tossed her head with glee and headed for the large, open field across from us.  She trotted in big, bold steps, head up, snorting with the exhilaration of being free. "GET SOME GRAIN!" I ordered to the men who stood there looking helpless.  I hustled to grab a halter and lead rope.  I hustled to get some grain in a pan.  Chanel strode up the side of the road. Then she came back to the yard to look over the fence at her "herd," the donkey and goats.  Then she tossed her head again and headed back across the road at a brisk pace.

We don't get a huge amount of traffic on our road, but the vehicles that go past tend to travel at a rapid rate of speed. Having a loose horse dashing back and forth across the road was not a good plan.

Chanel is deaf, so she could not hear the grain rattling in the bucket I held, but finally, she saw it, and stopped dead to indulge in some delicious food.  Rachel slung the lead rope over her neck, then while I held it she slipped the halter over Chanel's pretty face.  She didn't care. She had grain.  After she polished off her tasty treat she happily followed me back through the gate and into the pasture.

I was glad that she was safe and behind the fence.  But I have to admit, it was lovely to see her dashing about, lovely and free.  Striding her big, bold strides, and tossing her head gleefully. 

When it was all said and done she retired to her cozy for a nice nap.  Big excitement for an old pony.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Today's mission...

Today's mission... run several million errands and get a lot of things done.  Mission accomplished!
We had the final fitting for Rachel's wedding dress. She looks like a goddess.  My eyes leaked. The seamstress was just incredible... so kind and talented.  We have met so many nice people on this journey.

We picked up hot cups for the mulled wine, coffee and cider, and paper cups ( everything biodegradable!) for beer. Biodegradable forks for wedding cake, too. Then we got some pretty, decorative, paper hand towels for the rest rooms.  A couple happy hours were spent with a make up artist at Rheal spa, where Rachel and I both picked up some goodies. Including waterproof mascara for me, because I am pretty sure I'll cry at some point during the wedding. There is a story about that.  Months ago I was putting mascara on one morning and I thought to myself, "I need waterproof mascara for the wedding." Then I thought, "No I wont. I am not going to cry. I am happy that she is getting married."  A moment later I envisioned Rachel walking up to her groom with her sweet dad.  And I BEGAN TO CRY. I am not a big crier. Then I laughed at myself, for thinking I would not be emotional when my only daughter marries.  Later I told Rachel the story, and asked, "Will you have your dad walk you?"  After all, she is strong, modern, woman.  She might not buy into the old traditions.  She gave me a hard look, then replied, "Actually, mom... we've always done everything together. I thought I'd have you both walk me." More tears. Yup,  $30 waterproof mascara for me.

 We went to Loyal Biscuit and bought toys for the dogs, for no reason at all.  A brand new antique store opened, and we had to check that out.  We got tea lights and paper doilies (to keep candle wax off the rented table clothes) and a new chain for the necklace Rachel will wear on her special day. A little lunch out. A visit to TJ Maxx where I found some pretty fall wreaths to decorate with. Then to the farm stand where I bought squash and gourds for more decorating. I'm pretty sure I missed a few things... but it was a full day of fun and accomplishments. 

When I got home I saw the goats doing something weird. 
A gourd plant volunteered in the pasture and grew, and grew, and grew.  The animals all ignored it and it produced about 50 pounds of warty, yellow, gourds.  I will use some to decorate, and give the rest away.  We had a hard frost the night of September 30, and suddenly now the goats find the dying, wilted leaves to be delicious.  They shoved and pushed and fought over the things, and ate every, single one.

Here are just some of the gourds that plant produced.

I used some of them today to decorate the little chicken coop. Everyone decorates their coops, right?  Right?

Dried flowers and gourds, combined to make a pretty scene.

Jane Doe goat watched as I did my decorating.  She is a harsh critic.

Still and all, it was a good day.  Many things were checked off the epic "to do," list. And the critters were happy, too.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

To do...

This week Rachel and I edited the "to do" list.  We retyped the whole thing up, leading off with the things we've already accomplished, and then adding the things left to do.  Today we worked some on that list and have made some good progress. I found the bin full of fall decorations and have it ready to bring in the house so I can nicely arrange them.  I sanded and painted a neat old ladder/shelf thing that I have and it looks so much better. Rachel washed and stained the chicken coop steps, (because, really, you can't have a wedding if your coop steps look shabby.) I began staining the goat and pony cozy, and will finish it up tomorrow.  Rachel stained the wood that her fiance recently put up to hide a very ugly old metal support beam in the garage. I painted the trim around the window of the goat room. It's been stored all summer so they could have better air flow, but now that fall is here we will put it back in.  More unneeded items went off to the dump, including an entire bag of old clothes that were stained, torn or worn to a thread.  Because, you can't have a wedding if your bureau drawers are messy, either.  Sometimes my logic flummoxes me.

Chris crossed a few things off his list, too. He now has a stereo sound system with some amazing speakers hooked up in the garage. We tried them out the other night, dancing in the gathering dusk while the music thrummed around us. He bought a bunch of the groceries we will need for the party and stashed them away.  Now he is working on hauling two cords of wood off the side yard and getting it stacked in the basement.

I realized the other day that the cosmos and zinnia I planted are taller than I am.  Some of the blossoms are a good six feet in the air!  When my gardener friend Brenda stopped in the other day she stood and looked in amazement. She had helped plant some of those flowers and was shocked they were now soaring over our heads. I am a bit torn... I sort of hope we have a good frost before the wedding to kill off the flies that are so pesky this time of year, but at the same time, I hope we don't have one so my gardens will still look pretty.

 The new little table and benches are settled in their new spot.  I want to sew up some cushions for the benches to make it even cozier this winter.  Once we got it put in place I decided that my baking cabinet had to move, because there were too many big pieces of furniture grouped together.  My sister suggested I put it kitty corner on the far kitchen wall, and I tried that right out.
 I love it!
Early this summer I arranged to have our windows professionally cleaned.  Chris and I try to wash them each year, but we are horrible at it. No matter how  hard we try we leave streaks and holidays. Then I spend the long, long, winter looking out through grimy glass and fretting about it.  On Thursday the window cleaning crew came.  A whole gang of men, and they swarmed through the house, leaving sparkling glass in their wake.  I am overjoyed to look out through crystal clear panes.  What a treat.

It is great fun to check things off the list, and to see how nice our home is looking as we accomplish each task.  We should have a wedding every year!