wedding ~ prayer flags

i have so many things to say about our wedding that i have decided not to worry about being organized in how i start to tell about it. i’m just going to share bits and pieces that come to mind, and if i keep doing that, maybe i will eventually cover a fraction of the love and beauty and amazingness that day (and the whole week surrounding that day) held for us.

this little bit was an idea that came to me thanks to a group of online radical mama friends i connected with when quinn was a baby (one of whom made my wedding dress, another who came and took photos at the wedding, several of whom still read this blog). at one point in time, i remember us each creating a square to contribute to a long string of prayer flags for one friend’s birthday. since rich and i knew that quite a few of our far away friends and family members would be unable to join us for our wedding, but who would love to be here in spirit, we thought this would be a way for everyone to be included, while also providing some colorful decorations for our day. this was the text we included in our rsvp card, which is how the flags made their way back to us one by one.

“we will decorate our reception tent with prayer flags created by our guests. please add your words, drawings, or blessings to the fabric square and enclose it when you return this rsvp. we’ll let the breeze carry the prayers and blessings of our community skyward, and create a cheerful banner to brighten up our day. (sharpie marker is fine, we are not asking for fine embroidery, though feel free to be creative – paint, sew, embellish as you like!)”

cotton gauze, a yard of each color of the rainbow, just after being dyed.

cut fabric squares, ready for inclusion in invitations.

we underestimated how much we would be blown away by each and every one of the flags we got back.

quinn’s mandala flag.

an amazing dragon family.

mom and dad rew. quinn insisted his be right next to grammy’s when the flags got sewn together.

each time, the exact right thing just seemed to show up.

most of the flags made a string long enough to stretch all along one whole side of our big reception tent!

each flag has its own story and i am sure not all flags are visible in these photos… but the way we got to receive each one over the course of months, expectantly walking to the mailbox on a “date” each afternoon to see if we got another one, practically giddy if we got more than one in a single day! each one got our undivided attention as it was received, and we were amazed each time with the love and care put into the thoughts and artwork applied to our flags. each one was a blessing to receive, and it was a joy for me to add each one to the long ribbon; a visible and tangible representation of our great abundance of loved ones.

that radical mama photographer is also handy with a needle and thread, and hung the last few stragglers up just above our head table while i was having my hair done. luckily i had multiple photographers to make sure such details were captured!

there will be many more flowers in other posts, but i loved the way the prayer flags framed this image of early morning on our wedding day.

the whole day was full of amazing things like having a rainbow set of prayer flags show up to hang directly behind us, fully put together by people who love us. i didn’t even lay eyes on these particular flags until they were already sewn and hung up!

i love these pictures of rich giving his toast, and me laughing hysterically. humor is pretty foundational to our relationship.

and also, kindness. here we are feeding each other the yummiest cake ever baked, backed by om symbols, a phoenix and st. mary magdalene, on whose feast day we happened to get married; my catholic friend responsible for the mary flag wrote in her rsvp that she is “the patron saint of women, among other things: glovesmakers, converts, tanners, hairdressers and more!”

later in the afternoon, it was time to turn on the fireflies.




now that we have been married for three months (as of sunday!) we are still enjoying our prayer flags, hung up around our bedroom. it’s such a cheerful and colorful reminder of all of our friends and family coming together (physically or in spirit) to celebrate with us.

~tuesday tunes~ something good coming

the dragon house soundtrack has consisted of every tom petty and the heartbreakers album on repeat, since we lost tom. our alarm clock has been playing the last dj and the living room player has rotated through wildflowers, hypnotic eye, highway companion, and mojo. it was while quinn sat on my lap in the happy spot one afternoon while mojo was playing that he told me he liked this song, and i had to admit i agreed. while i like all the other songs folks have shared since tom’s passing, they tend to come from the greatest hits album, ubiquitous in music collections across america, while i think a lot of people may be missing out on some of his more recent albums. 2010 is “recent” ish, right?

since i know at least a couple of my readers will want to look up the lyrics, i will save you that step:

I’m watching the water

Watching the coast

Suddenly I know

What I want the most

And I want to tell you

Still I hold back

I need some time

Get my life on track

I know that look on your face

But there’s somethin’ lucky about this place

And there’s somethin’ good comin’

For you and me

Somethin’ good comin’

There has to be

And I’m thinking ’bout mama

And about the kids

And the way we lived

And the things we did

How she never had a chance

Never caught a break

And how we pay for our big mistakes

I know so well the look on your face

And there’s somethin’ lucky about this place

There’s somethin’ good comin’

Just over the hill

Somethin’ good comin’

I know it will

And I’m in for the long run

Wherever it goes

Ridin’ the river

Wherever it goes

And I’m an honest man

Work’s all I know

You take that away

Don’t know where to go

And I know that look that’s on your face

There’s somethin’ lucky about this place

There’s somethin’ good comin’

For you and me

Somethin’ good comin’

There has to be

my working man is on 10-hour shifts this week (monday’s turned into 12 as they took advantage of a dry day to get as far as they could on their current project) and i’m mulling over the experiences of friends shared in #metoo posts, pondering domestic violence awareness month and how to use my voice most effectively, hearing a lot of unease from friends in general, feeling some myself, especially in the context of my career, dreading the onslaught of winter… but also savoring the last blooms of summer, the first wood stove fires, appreciating my hard working husband, and the steady supply of work available to him, enjoying the bittersweet emotional processing my son has been doing, enjoying a small uptick in creative energy and time to deploy it, enjoying this coffee i’m sipping this morning, and feeling gratitude for this life. something good coming has just the right sound for today, suggesting spirals and cycles, a bit melancholy, but ultimately hopeful.


~rainbow mondays~ meadowhawks and dragonberries


rainbow veggies! i am soaking in the brightly colored summer vegetables while we still have them for a little bit longer. and of course, i compulsively arrange them into rainbows.

a real live rainbow!

pink: pink and pink! and a shout out to flat bride, wherever she may be adventuring!

pink: the seashell cosmos have done very well in the rainbow garden.

red: the day was october 3, but following so closely on the heels of self care september, and being my half birthday, i gave myself an extra hour at the beach after my lunchtime run so i could enjoy the dragonfly migration. meet Sympetrum corruptum, the variegated meadowhawk.

red: zinnias of the red persuasion.

red: dahlia “northlake pride.” isn’t it fun when the freebie tossed into the box of dahlias you ordered turns out to be completely awesome?

orange: dahlia “crazy legs” was another freebie and has been one of the most productive plants.

orange: dahlia “fire magic,” which was obviously a chosen dahlia, based on its name!

orange: same goes for dragonberry, of course!

orange: my single tiger lily bulb did not seem to thrive, but it did produce this one lovely bloom.

orange: itty bitty sunflower “evening colors”. the deer ate most of my sunflowers.

yellow: lovely zinnia isabellina

yellow: a rainbow bouquet, but that “happy day” dahlia sure stands out!

yellow: these happy surprise anemones bloomed in our front yard recently.

green: i almost filed this under orange, for all the sparks!  and hotness. i got to watch my man doing man things with a grinder, and that was a highlight of my weekend. he is helping revamp our family cider press for our upcoming annual apple cider party.

green: the reason i went back inside the house on the morning of october 3. then i stuck my camera in my car, rather than take it back inside. and then the dragonflies appeared!

green: i’m just a little pine needle. nothing to see here.

green: some of the dragonflies were not meadowhawks, and i’m not sure whether they too were migrating, or whether they were just in the same vicinity doing their residential thing.

green: i cannot be sure whether this is a meadowhawk, i think not because it is more silver than red, but i often see them perch just like this. and also, i’m ok not knowing.

blue: i am more interested in bearing witness than studying them, anymore.

blue: and playing with my camera to try to photograph impossibly moving subjects.

blue: actually, gray. but the ocean sure was blue that day! and it was soooo annoying that these whales showed up, because then i had to decide whether to focus on them or the dragonflies!

blue: ok it dove! back to the bugs.

blue: this might be a first-time accomplishment for me, capturing two in one frame! they helped by flying by me about one every 10 seconds! i went back two days later, on another gloriously beautiful, 80 degree, windless day, and not a single dragonfly. year of the ephemeral indeed.

blue: man doing more manly things. taking care of my car. swoon!

blue: quinn also pulls his weight sometimes. sweeper of the trampoline!

blue: my husband is also handy at spotting things up in trees. we foraged! these elderberries will become some lovely flu prevention syrup for this winter.

blue: that blue stuff is also very useful for preventing the flu, but i’m still taking my vitamin d supplement, even though we have been blessed with some lovely sunny days.

blue: i am very proud to have grown this beauty from seed. it’s the little things!

purple: midnight moon is a gorgeous dahlia, which really does resemble its namesake.

red violet: actually, its name is purplicious! but we love a little red violet in every rainbow.

red violet ish purple ish: sunset is starting earlier, but we still have a few flowers. i must remember that fall is not yet winter.

black: it’s coming up on black cat season, and now we are ready to sprawl out like this silly guy and get some rest.

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

pancakes then and now

sunday is pancake day at the dragon house, and often i think of the other pancakes while i am stirring batter and pouring maple syrup. on this chilly fall morning, i added cinnamon and apple slices. for anyone newer to reading my blog, i don’t use the real names of other peoples’ children. years ago when she came into my life, i began referring to rich’s granddaughter (and now both of my stepgranddaughters!) as pancake(s). we had the blessing of spending a whole week with the pancakes surrounding our wedding. the bottom photo is from that visit. it warmed my heart, and reminded me distinctly of the top photo from the early days of their friendship.

then: these two pancakes have been close ever since april 2012.

now: pretty sure we’re looking at some lifelong friends here.



~tuesday tunes~ almost heaven

while summer swiftly swished away, one of the ways the emotional waves of wedding were felt by me, was music. i decided it would be fun to share music a bit more frequently in general, and thought i’d give music a day of the week in which to organize itself here in the cyber canning jars. monday was taken… so tuesday tunes it is! to kick it off, i thought i’d share 3 versions of a song that captures the arc of emotion of my summer. like the ocean waves i describe to quinn in my best yoga teacher voice during the dolphin story at bedtime, these sound waves were protective; i tell him to picture himself held by the waves, as they are big enough to hold it all, so we can release and fall asleep and let go of it all. the emotions of weddings are just so big, and so in like manner, the best way i can think of to start to share that enormous emotional journey is to share some of the music which helped me release some of the big feels.

i did not have major plans for video at our wedding, though because we live in such a modern age, we received several great unanticipated videos from friends and my now step-daughter. in the aftermath of it all, though, i discovered that i myself had taken only one single phone video during the entire time my family and rich’s family came together to celebrate our marriage. this is the one, and it does a great job of summing up the brim-fullness of this time. just to orient you, from my vantage point i begin in the corner sitting by the door, where i am perched on the lap of my then fiance. we didn’t yet have our entire families in attendance, but we had a pretty good representation, and my best woman, too! dad had already picked up his/my guitar, regaled us with roger miller songs and best woman’s request for the very unfortunate man (ever appropriate for weddings, this was also sung on my big brother’s wedding day!) dad then sang the one i would have requested, had he not gone ahead and played it without me needing to ask.



was i the only one who danced around the raw sienna living room rug with their mom to the warm crackle of the record player making john denver croon his greatest hits in the 80s? “all my memories gather ’round her” is a perfect way to describe my mother, which is always who i think of when i hear that line, including as we gathered around my dad to listen to this rendition of take me home, country roads. we grew up on a country road surrounded by rolling hills, and my mom did her own growing up in a place devoid of hills known as the bronx, but her heart for the mountains of the adirondacks certainly qualifies her for the description of “mountain mama” as well.

my heart was so full, looking around at our loved ones gathered around, the children immersed so fully in their play in the next room, and listening to this song that has always captured the very essence of longing for home for me.


we departed for our honeymoon a blissfully blurry several days later. our first stop was a brandi carlile concert at the oregon zoo, and after brandi pulled on our heartstrings with the story and wherever is your heart, she thought she’d break the poignant tension with a sing-along!

this is the song, though not the performance we saw, but from another venue.

unfortunately, i was unable to participate in the sing-along until she got to the bridge, because i was too busy sobbing into my husband’s shoulder. it was difficult even then to croak the words, “radio reminds me of my home far away, driving down the road i get a feeling like i should have been home yesterday… yesterday.” there were two moments for me when the emotional floodgates opened after the wedding: the first involved laughter at the beach the day after the wedding, and that story is still to come, but the second was a good cry at an outdoor concert, surrounded by thousands of people.


after we returned home and started sweeping away dried petals and resuming normal life, except new and improved because it’s married life, i made up some new mix cds based on songs that had come up during the wedding week and honeymoon week. i found a version of brandi carlile singing country roads with emmylou harris, so of course that went on the mix. riding in the car while i overplayed said mix, quinn absorbed the song and began to sing along. in a few short years his voice will no longer be in the right register to warble along with brandi, so i decided to record it for posterity. one evening after he had it memorized, we sat on his bedroom floor and i strummed on dad’s/my guitar while quinn sang:

maybe one day he’ll sing along with it when it comes on the radio, feeling the things i feel when i sing it, but about this home of ours. “life is old there… older than the trees… younger than the mountains… blowing like a breeze.”

~tuesday tunes~

audio inspiration, musical memories and stories with soundtracks

~rainbow mondays~ self care september

two-thirds of the way through the month, i declared self-care september. i do not go gently into this particular season change, so i have started taking vitamins, brewing chai, ordering ingredients for making myself a vat of herbal iron supplement, and saying yes to all of the things i know will feed my soul: baths, mike’s mango lemonade with friends, arranging flowers in rainbow order on my windowsill.

the one other thing i want to self-administer is more time to write. my two part time jobs amount to more than full time hours, and recently my husband was working a bunch of overtime as well. i am hopeful, given that we are not going to be preparing for any weddings of our very own this coming year, that this seasonal transition is going to see a down-shift in activity and bring me some of the writing time i’m seeking. i am looking forward to looking back, as i unpack my thoughts to share on “how i spent my summer vacation” in the coming months.

for now, i’m slapping up a few rainbow photos (ones that aren’t tied to other upcoming posts), and checking the box for one more act of self care, as self care september winds itself down.

pink: b pancake’s favorite flower from the wedding, actually this is one of its siblings, as seen in situ at our friend/wedding photographer’s beautiful house.

red: upon our return from our honeymoon, some of the leftover wedding flowers had dried themselves so beautifully, i have kept a few of them around to enjoy for a bit longer!

red: soon after the wedding, the rainbow terrace garden really started blooming. these ladybird poppies were among the flowers i grew from seed.

red: most of the zinnias i planted also waited until post-wedding to make their appearances.

red: these bee balm (aka monarda) were also featured in the wedding decor, again from my friend’s lovely garden.

orange: many of my dahlia tubers were chosen based on a twofold system of name and color. if they fell anywhere in the rainbow and had a name i loved, they made the cut. this is patricia ann’s sunset, and it was an easy impulse buy as it shares my mom’s name!

orange: when we left on our honeymoon, we left the bees to tend quite a few vases of flowers on the work bench that had served as a buffet table, and when we returned, they were beautiful even in their various stages of wilting and drooping.

orange: meanwhile, our return was greeted by so many new blossoms in the terraces.

orange: potomac orange snapdragons of the dragon house

orange: fire magic dahlia!

orange: our friend’s garden was also dripping with raspberries when we visited. we just enjoyed a handful of red raspberries from starts she dug up for us this spring!

orange: vibrantly budding rose in friend’s garden.

orange: one more flower that our friend shared for our wedding, that i just adore! i can’t remember its name.

orange: right before we left for rich’s daughter’s wedding weekend, we watched this young man earn his orange belt! what a great group of people showed up to help administer his test! i am very proud of his hard work!

orange-yellow: solar flare heirloom tomato heart!

yellow: sunflower season is brief and fleeting in our bioregion.

yellow: so we try to enjoy it while it lasts!

yellow: i love to continue to enjoy sunflowers after they start to fade, especially if they featured in my wedding decor.

yellow: harvest moon dahlias were the first among our dahlia babies to bloom, right after our wedding! they have continued to produce on and on, with blossoms the size of quinn’s head!

yellow: swallowtail on a cedar bough.

yellow: smoky moon; my husband and i spent a few nice evenings moongazing from our adirondack chairs (wedding presents hand built by dear friends – photos soon) in the backyard.


yellow: my friend’s dahlia named “glow.”

green: quinn found this bright green moss to be captivating, in another beautiful corner of our friend’s garden.

green: these nodding heads were once purple, and will be again next year. lauren’s grape poppy seeds to share! let me know who needs some.

green: bells of ireland, grown from seed! i am so proud when any of my green flowers blooms.

green: polar bear zinnia with green veins.

green: i am fond of gladiolus, maybe because my grandma rew used to grow so many in her garden!

green: the smoky sun cast an interesting light on the river over labor day, where we spent one last summer afternoon.

blue: i think this is a salvia, i love its dark stems and sepals.

purple: phlox in my garden

purple: more monarda (bee balm, at least i think so) in one of my favorite shades.

purple/black cherry: hollyhocks and husband.

more black cherry: black swan poppies in my garden did not grow to nearly the size of the lauren’s grape variety, but they sure are pretty.

purple: crab spider traversing the glads.

red violet: and green! zinnias are so cool.

red violet: hollyhill starburst dahlia!

red violet: pretty sure this is an echinacea, perfect for the september self care theme!

red violet: sending love and support to those who have lost loved ones, homes, livelihoods, in all the recent fires (the only effects of which we felt were smoke and reddening of our views of celestial orbs), floods, and storms.

red violet: i’ve been wanting to grow these since i was a little girl flipping through seed catalogs in between bouts of wedding planning. so glad the asiatic lily variety pack i bought on clearance included some red violet!

red violet through heart-shaped lens: this ephemeral summer may have officially come to a close, but i will warm my chilly hands against the flickering warmth of memories of all the happy days it contained for many months and years to come!


~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

~rainbow mondays~ return of bridezilla

peaches were languishing on the kitchen table, because even though i knew i could only handle a small number, zero might have been a more accurate estimate, based on the other many things i needed to tackle this week.

my writing agenda is not so much languishing as sitting and patiently awaiting a mellower season in which to be attended to. “what i did on my summer vacation” is notated in lists and outline format for helping me remember what i want to write about the sublime moments, between now and november.

in spite of my intentions, some other things have come up… mainly a couple of jobs, but also an eclipse, a celebration of life for my friend’s husband, and the fun of removing head lice from my son each time he returns home to me. i also became officially myself (in a court of law) today, but that is a long story for another time. in fact, most of these things, including the photo at the top of the post, are each longer stories for other times. the short version is, we’re thrilled to be married, our honeymoon was amazing, my husband has my back in every situation that has arisen so far in our marriage, and i am now a published author in our local newspaper, albeit for an obituary.

but even though i must be brief tonight, i figured i should clear some cobwebs off this beloved space of mine, because i don’t plan on going into business with that kind of writing. here is my very small post to give the tiniest of tastes of the epic rainbow summer we have had.

the rainbow children of the lake!

red: pre-wedding festivities at the house of wedding boss!

orange: my brother nailed it.

yellow: our honeymoon in three frames; this sign.

green: these mountains

blue: this water.

purple: and ohhhh, the wedding. there isn’t enough time to scratch the surface, but rest assured i will be back with verbose re-tellings of my favorite parts…. just as soon as the chaos is under control.

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

aunt margie

in a few short weeks, rich and i will be married, and the timing of my great aunt margie passing away just recently on june 14th feels like it coincides in some way. aunt margie is the matriarch of a great big family; her 2 daughters and 8 grandchildren gave their grammy many great grandchildren (if i use my fingers and toes, i estimate 18), and as of last count, 8 great great grandchildren in her 95 year lifetime.

but beyond that, aunt margie was a second mother to my own mom (pictured above), when my own grandparents were preoccupied with poppy’s health. my mom spent many summers traveling around to national parks with aunt margie and uncle george, attending what all the family fondly refers to as the “george buirkle school of combat camping” and passing on so much wonderful outdoors and camping knowledge to my brothers and me. one of the reasons rich and i have chosen glacier national park for our honeymoon is because my mom always said it was her favorite park that she visited with aunt margie and uncle george. though they always came back to the adirondacks, and hence that is where the whole extended family has always spent some portion of the summer.

among the horde of cousins in this large family, there is a consensus, whether spoken or unspoken, that what you want in life is a marriage like the one between aunt margie and uncle george (or if you’re their direct descendents, grammy and pop). we generation x-ers all attended their 50th wedding anniversary as kids and teens, and i know i am not the only kid in the family who was deeply influenced by the impressive duration of their relationship, the observable affection, and the palpable mutual adoration between the two of them. their connection was what you wanted to strive for in life. not everyone finds it, but they certainly did, and they provided such a wonderful example for us, of how we are meant to treat our significant others in this lifetime. their love for each other overflowed blessings onto each one of us.

aunt margie treated everyone like they mattered deeply to her; it’s just who she was. no matter how many score of cousins were running around, she made me feel like i was the complete center of her attention, for as long as i could stand to tell her about myself and my life. i have a vivid memory of sitting in lawn chairs on the dock, little cousins in life jackets swinging around dripping perch on the ends of fishing lines, and aunt margie focused intently on my high school highs and lows while the rest of the chaos orbited around us. i know this is how it was for each and every one of us kids. you were the focus of her undivided attention, and the act of her caring about the insignificant goings on in your child or teenage life left such a profound impact on me, on all of us. i will never forget the feel of her hands holding mine, the kindness of her eyes, the sound of her sweet voice praying over me and sharing wisdom, feeling filled to the brim after she poured her love into me.

celebrating her life should be the province of not only her family, but all the people who know anyone whose life she touched. while you may never have met her, the person you know who was loved by aunt margie is a better and kinder person for having been near her, and you are benefiting from it whether you know it or not.

the substantial number of her descendants notwithstanding, aunt margie had a far wider circle of influence in her community beyond her relatives. she spent many years volunteering as a pregnancy counselor, and i am sure there is no way to count how many young womens’ and childrens’ lives in which she made a tremendous positive difference, again because of her steadfast presence.

when we were wee little children, and aunt margie and uncle george would visit us on the farm, we received the extra special treat of having bedtime stories told by aunt margie. her bedtime stories always involved leprechauns. she had hungarian roots, but never mind that. her irish accent was impeccable and her stories were magical and always involved each of us children in some manner. patrick begorabegora and maureen mcgroodigoodie, no bigger than our thumbs, captivated our imaginations as they rode around behind our ears, and i remember some of those stories to this day. when i went to kindergarten, my mom sewed lace onto the pocket of my jumper so maureen would have a way to watch what was going on at school, by peeking out through the little eyelets. i will always cherish this one story in aunt margie’s handwriting, which i have saved since i was about 6 years old. while i do believe that her integrity rubbed off on all of us, i will also admit that i would unabashedly lie about having a sore throat so i could stay home and see them off the morning after a visit, if it was a school day. i would not willingly miss one minute of time with her.


i will always be able to picture them in the upstairs apartment at camp 815 on pork bay of saranac lake, and then when we got older, at benchmark over on fish creek. i will always remember aunt margie riding up front in uncle george’s boat, with their dog heidi or heidi too. the boat was quite literally labeled “pop’s boat”, and was the site of many of our very first lessons on driving a boat, under his supervision. the george buirkle school of combat camping was still taking recruits when i was a kid, and we were proud to enlist. we learned to canoe on long day trips to follensby clear pond or floodwood pond, with uncle george and aunt margie in the lead of a long train of family members, two or three to a canoe, weaving through the lily pads.


back at one cabin or another, we’d sit around a table playing games; 99 or uno or chicken foot, and aunt margie would always want to be dealt in. she taught us many of the games, in fact. she was so good at being there in the present moment. she always seemed to be available to painstakingly fry up any child’s proud catch of a 9-inch sunny or perch, and made the best brownies and chocolate chip cookies in all the land.


one of my cousins said in her remembrance of aunt margie, “she was the best person i’ve ever known.” this is how i feel, and it’s not an overstatement. nor does it feel like i’m insulting any of the other wonderful people in my life, say, for example, my wonderful mom, because i know that mom pretty much feels the same way. we are all profoundly sad, yet all of us have known for all of our lives that she had her affairs in order and was ready to meet her maker, more ready than anyone i’ve ever really known. we are also all drawing comfort from the idea of aunt margie reuniting with her love, uncle george, 22 years and 2 days after his passing. that number will stick with me, because for rich and i, the 22nd is our day.



their song was stardust, sung by hoagy carmichael. however, you can’t talk about songs and aunt margie and uncle george in the same breath without mentioning how great thou art. it was always uncle george’s favorite, and it makes sense, given how they lived every moment of their lives glorying in “awesome wonder [at] the world thy hands have made.” nature was their church, every bit as much as a building with four walls. i don’t know that they ever said this to me, it was simply what i observed, watching them marvel at the simple wonders in the natural world; a hummingbird at the feeder, a beaver dam, a great blue heron, sunset on saranac lake. it is one of the many things i fell in love with in rich, because he and i can sit around and do the same thing. he had me at, “i was up early to cut firewood and got to see a beautiful sunrise…”

“when through the woods and forest glades i wander

and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;

when i look down from lofty mountain grandeur

and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze

then sings my soul….”

i also think of them on evenings when i pour him a drink, or he pours one for me, because that was a ritual aunt margie and uncle george practiced as well, always serving each other with gladness and receiving from one another in gratitude. i feel they would love rich and welcome him as their great nephew-in-law. i hope i can be the wife of noble character to him that aunt margie was to uncle george.

from proverbs 31:

10 A wife of noble character who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her

    and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

    all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax

and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships,

bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still night;

she provides food for her family

and portions for her female servants.

16 She considers a field and buys it;

out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;

her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,

and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff

and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor

    and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;

for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;

    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,

where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,

and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;

    she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom,

    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things,

    but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,

and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

as i’ve spent several sessions trying to articulate these reflections, i’ve also spontaneously burst into tears a number of times, which is why it has taken me quite a few days to get this written. i have to thank my cousins and their facebook posts for some of those spontaneous cries (and for some of these wonderful photos i have borrowed). my brothers and i have predicted out loud to each other that this would be a hard time in our lives, losing her. i’m wondering now if part of it has to do with losing my nana so young (i was only 4) and aunt margie taking on the role in our lives as the repository for all maternal grandmotherly energy. i know that as a 4 year old, i probably did not manage to work through it all at the time, and i suspect there is ungrieved nana grief that is still making its way up and out, as grief will do when the spigot is opened.

nana and aunt margie around 1942

nana as aunt margie’s maid of honor, 1942

i imagine the loss of both of them as a little bit inextricable, and when i cry, the tears are for our whole grandparent generation, of whom she was the last remaining to us. nana was aunt margie’s maid of honor when aunt margie and uncle george were married, and then nana and poppy got married on the the same day (september 14th) several years later. since my own memories of nana were few, aunt margie acted as a storehouse of memories of her. i always felt i was being given back pieces of her as little gifts throughout the years whenever they’d tell me how much i resemble anne, or tell stories about her.

as aunt margie laughs at the days to come and crosses over, her children, grandchildren, great and great great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and mere great nieces arise and call her blessed.


there’s a lot of life being lived right now, and not a lot of spare time to write about it, but i couldn’t let today go by without marking its significance. as of today, rich and i have spent 5 and a half years together… and in exactly one month, we will be married!

in a recent dream, i was trying to settle into a college dorm (with my actual college roommates) and all of us had classes at different times so i never saw any of them. when it was time for me to eat i went to the cafeteria and the options were burgers or pizza but they stopped serving just before i got to the counter because they had run out of both. the cafeteria guy was sitting right in front of me eating the very last slice. i went back to my room all mad and pretended to be asleep and rich walked in (completely out of context). i said, “who’s there?” and he said, “it’s the pizza lady!” holding a slice in his hand for me. which is a pretty accurate approximation of what he’d probably say in that kind of situation to convey 1) i solved it, and 2) i’m a goofball.

my honey in the honeysuckle

i’ve been doing a pretty terrible job of collecting moments that exemplify our happy life together in the past month or so, so oddball dreams are what we have to work with.

actually we have been going on so many dates, so i’ve had little time to write (wedding planning and overnight field trips factor in as well…) we go on a date at least once a day, but a lot of times it’s many more than one. often, one date can turn into multiple dates, because we might be heading out to dinner, but rich might take the scenic route, so the drive itself is a date, and then maybe stop and look in on a boat yard, which is its own special date, and then maybe we stop and rent a dvd on the way home… you see how dates can snowball. every day when he gets home from work we meet outside and he asks me if i’ll walk to the mailbox with him. i always say yes, because i love going on dates.

a very early morning date during which he made my coffee for me

it’s good we’re fitting them in now, because it’s only one month until i start wearing nightgowns, start making him only sandwiches for lunch, and stop going on dates. (just kidding! not doing any of those. also don’t expect any bouquet throwing, rice throwing, garter wearing, toasting, cake smooshing, or any other wedding tradition i reserve the right to omit! i am having fun embracing the tradition of not letting the groom see my dress, though, because let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater!)

embracing my ring; rejecting nail polish

it’s not all romance, of course. he’s my partner in everything, sprucing up the yard, taking out the garbage, figuring out the logistics, vacuuming the floors, and providing commentary for kitty behaviors. he’s even my partner in sniffling over songs sung in tribute to johnny and june, one of our relationship icons. but that was another date.


 carlene carter ~ lonesome valley

just as we were almost dried up from that one, jewel started singing over the rainbow… she got to the line, “there’s a rainbow highway to be found leading from your windowpane to a place behind the sun just a step beyond the rain.” going down the rainbow highway with this guy makes me very happy. don’t mind all the weeping, that’s just me being 39.


jewel ~ over the rainbow

after the concert date, we took some back roads home, and we took a bathroom break at a historic covered bridge where people have apparently gotten married, judging by the engraved bricks on the walkway. shortly thereafter, we had one more date at beazell memorial forest, which fred and dolores beazell founded (we read the sign telling about their love story). apparently people get married there, too!

we got home and took a walk to the mailbox.

and now it’s the 22nd, and for my birthday he bought me the 33rd edition of nike air pegasus (the same running shoes i started with in 7th grade), and today we are celebrating 5.5 years. it’s a glamorous celebration involving kitties on our laps and reheated leftovers, and i am feeling lucky and blessed.

i love you, pizza lady. i am thrilled to spend one more month as your fiance, and look forward to many more dorkaversaries together!

~black and white wednesday~